My wonderful, beautiful daughter, JulieAnn, has a bit of a stubborn streak. For a time (she’s growing out of it now), she was quite certain she could make things true or false just by declaring them to be so.
JA: I want grapes.
Mom: You’ve already had grapes, but you can have a banana instead (which was there in the kitchen).
JA: We don’t have any bananas. We have to go get them at the store.
Dad: (at bedtime) JulieAnn, please put this pull-up on; it’s still dry.
JA: No it’s not. It’s wet.
Mom: (in the morning) JulieAnn, it’s time to take your wet pull-up off and put your panties on.
JA: My pull-up is dry.
Dad: Let’s get you coat on so we can go outside.
JA: I don’t want to put my coat on.
Dad: JulieAnn, you need a coat. It’s cold outside.
JA: No it’s not.
Grandma: (running her fingers through JulieAnn’s hair, JulieAnn reacts because some hair gets pulled) Sorry, I was getting the tangles out.
JA: (crying) The tangles are not in…They’re not in!
Grandma: I think you must be tired.
JA: No I’m not.
JulieAnn’s beliefs and declarations do not alter reality no matter how much she might believe – in her little two year old world – that they do. I’m not really sure how much she believes herself and how much she is just trying to assert her independence. But her obviously false statements illustrate the postmodern illusion that we can define Truth based on nothing more than personal belief or preference. Here’s the lesson to learn from JulieAnn:
To say that truth is not true simply because we don’t want it to be is, quite simply, childish foolishness.
Somehow it doesn’t seem so obvious when we’re talking about the existence of moral norms or the truth claims of competing worldviews. But the point remains: we don’t define reality; we are simply right or wrong about what it actually is. And eventually, reality will confront us. We can deny truth and deceive ourselves for a time, but eventually, truth will hit.