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The truth, relatively speaking

October 03, 2008

Re "When all truth is relative," Opinion, Sept. 29

Although I have often read Gregory Rodriguez's columns with interest, I tired of his trite and simplistic version of "postmodern relativism." What Rodriguez calls "the intellectual left" (they're all the same, right?) considers many epistemological positions between the two poles of absolutism and individualistic relativism.

Take science, which is frequently considered a secular alternative to faith. There is posited truth in scientific views -- but it is not unprovable, only disprovable. Nihilistic? No way, for science deals with provisional truths created by reason, preponderance of evidence and consensus, but subject to challenge and possible refutation. Science is skeptical, which might falsely appear to be relativistic in the either/or game.

Rodriguez's pastor, Dennis McCallum, requires a "final bar of appeal" for truth, and I think that we know who runs that courtroom. If science reaches no final truth, one turns to authority, faith and sacred texts. If you do not like their truths, you can lump it.

David Eggenschwiler

Los Angeles

The writer is an emeritus associate professor of literature at USC.

The intellectual dishonesty displayed in this article is astonishing. Rodriguez uses an alleged example of an "attack the messenger" response by the McCain campaign to show that "constant discrediting of the media" by conservatives "only serves to further divide Americans into their ideological enclaves."

Please. The mainstream media and the schools have embraced a liberal position on most issues for decades. The result of that fatal embrace is reflected in the fact that nearly 50% of our citizens now seem willing to vote for a presidential candidate with virtually no executive experience, long associations with radical-left individuals and the most liberal voting record in the Senate. The media and the schools have enfeebled our institutions and sown ignorance, disunity and moral confusion among a now easily deceived electorate.

Robert Schmidt


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