Being Objective About Being Subjective by Jack Reagan

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2015/06/19 at 12:00 AM

One of the effects of living in a society that substitutes opinion for truth is that subjective judgment becomes the norm for truth. “I believe it; therefore, it is true,” rather than,“ It is true; therefore, I believe it.” Such a person sees truth as a product of his own mind rather than something we discover in the world of reality. One who habitually thinks like this can eventually lose an awareness of the difference between thinking objectively and thinking subjectively.

There is certainly a place for subjective judgments. There are elements of reality that simply do not demand objective evaluation or appraisal. If we are in a restaurant, there is no best meal, or morally good/bad meal, or  true/false meal. Barring other factors, the choice is ours. Many of our everyday choices are subjective and quite legitimate. For example, clothes choice, activity choice, exercise, TV programs, etc.

When we view persons, things or events objectively, we see them as they really are regardless of our personal attitude, feelings etc. about  them. For example, Mozart was a great musician. That is established truth whether we agree or not. On the other hand, it is quite legitimate to say, “Mozart is a great musician, but I don’t like his music” because objective truth is still recognized.

Natural laws are fixed even if we don’t like them. The law of gravity is not subject to our veto. Anyone who would dispute or deny what is objectively true can be said to be literally unrealistic, and his judgments and inferences are suspect.

Negative subjective thinking arises when we view persons, things or events through the eyes of our own biases, likes/dislikes etc. “I don’t like Mozart’s music; therefore, he can’t be a very good musician.” This attitude denies objective reality as the basis of truth.  Any further discussion of Mozart is probably useless with such a person. Moreover, people who thrive on personal opinion see themselves as their own standard and impervious to criticism because they can always say, “Well, that’s my opinion,” meaning that’s the end of the discussion.

Opinion is only as valid as the amount of factual basis that supports it.

One who issues opinions based on not much more than personal bias can never be engaged in productive thinking or discussion with those who view things more objectively. Ultra liberals and  ultra conservatives are examples of this thinking.

The problem with substituting subjective opinion for truth is that when we act on a wrong or false opinion, the results can be negative and usually are. “I believe God is so good that He will save everyone eventually.” “Christ was merely a great teacher like Socrates or Aristotle, nothing more.” “All religions lead to heaven.” “Christ did not mention homosexuality in the Gospels.” “I’m a good person. I don’t need religion.”  “God will take care of me when I die.” What is happening here is that the speaker is substituting his/her wishful thinking for truth. None of these statements conform to Biblical reality, but they are commonly voiced.

We forget that a man/woman must worship God as He sees fit, not as he/she sees fit. Those who “think” like this are, in effect, demanding, or at least assuming, that God should be receptive to his/her opinion even though He has decreed otherwise. After all, truth arises in MY mind, and God should agree with me.

However, truth/reality does not change to accommodate our false ideas and errors.

In matters of religion and faith, it can be eternally dangerous not to seek and hold to objective truth. That was Eve’s mistake; she ignored the objective truth that God had set down and relied on her personal evaluation of the serpent and his offer. Our personal opinions simply do not count if they are at variance with the truth, be it natural or divine. There is no substitute for truth, especially divine truth given to us in the Bible, Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church.

Error is error even if everyone is in error and truth is truth even if no one believes it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: