Statesboro, GA, USA
responding to your last question...
"Could the relativist still respond to the argument you've just presented by saying that it's impossible for you to prove those arguments?"
It has been my experience in the areas of philosophy and belief that people can indeed respond in this way. The fact of the matter is they can and do respond any way they wish. The question to me is which way of thinking (from two or more mutually exclusive views) is valid.
In a sense, anyone can say rightly that it is impossible to prove "absolute truth" exists. I am, by claiming an absolute truth, making a statement concerning metaphysical/ philosophical reality which cannot be proven or disproven in the same manner as a simple physical experiment of science. And people who hold to relativism can indeed say that I am bringing into the whole argument a presupposition... which is not proven, but of course presupposed or assumed to be true. I will readily admit this is the case. As a Christian Theist I am basing my assertion that there is an absolute truth on my world view which was not arrived at by empirical proofs. I didn't conduct a scientific experiment to determine if God exists or not, or even if absolute truth exists or not. It was a matter of personal revelation to me (as will attest many others who believe the same). However it does not follow that my conclusions are illogical or unscientific just because they weren't initially arrived at by these means. After the fact of my discovery, I just so happened to find that this revelation is also more in harmony with sound reason and logic than the alternatives.
But people are free to disagree with me in the arenas of metaphysical thought and logic, and even in the areas of science since results are interpreted differently. However, since I believe in an ultimate truth, I have never felt that these 'playing fields' were where the score would finally be settled, even though I may have to scrimmage in these areas (either with my own thoughts/ conclusions, or with those of others). If I believe the basis of an absolute truth rests upon an absolute being, or an absolute mind (God), then I also feel that it is primarily his responsibility to 'prove' his own things. Notice I said primarily because I think we do have our part, else I wouldn't even be discussing such things. In the realm of philosophical debate, all I can ever do is show to the best of my ability that my thoughts have their logical support (not indisputable proofs). But I can also show to the best of my ability that the alternative (in this case ‘relativism’) is without logical support. So bottom line, I cannot prove an absolute truth indisputably through debating. But I can show with the limited powers of logical argument that one stance is much more plausible than the other.
Going back to my feeling that the ultimate conclusion of such an argument does not lie in the realm of logic... I do recognize that some people come to believe in an ultimate truth, and an ultimate author of truth through the avenues of logical thought, philosophy, metaphysics, and the like. But really these are just byways that lead them to the highway of personal revelation, or faith. Different people come different ways to this conclusion. C.S. Lewis for example, a staunch and well versed atheist, came to see the logical and philosophical contradictions of non-Christian, and non-Theist world views. The turbulence of his mind caused from these issues led him uncomfortably closer to a decision to believe in God, which still required faith. When his back was finally against the wall and he was spiritually in a corner, and God revealed himself, he had to believe. Who can argue against God that he doesn’t exist when he himself has begun to argue back? So while debate and philosophy and ‘proofs’ all play their part, the crux of the matter is not really in those things.
It’s like a man who might happen to believe that there are no such things as civil laws in the United States (for whatever reason). Friends, relatives, and passers-by may vehemently argue with him to the contrary. If he wants to he can disbelieve, and disbelieve... But when his breaking of civil law incites a law officer in a black and white car to burst upon the scene and proceed to arrest him, his arguments are overcome. This doesn’t mean that his friends were not being earnest enough, or that their information wasn’t valid enough, it just means that they could not provide the indisputable evidence like the policeman could. There is a point I think in all such arguments against and for truth, against and for God, against and for moral law, etc...that the answers will be made indisputable. I just don’t think I or anyone else can do that.
But there again, logically speaking... relativism is dead in the water. And while I cannot empirically prove an absolute truth, I can logically show that it is plausible and that the alternative is without credence. Relativism’s position on the other hand can neither rationally commend itself, nor discredit a belief in absolute truth. All it can do is deny an absolute truth, and assert its own position without much basis. In fact if it had any “basis” at all, the absolute position would be affirmed. The root word “base” suggests that which is steadfast, unmoving, or a fixed point of reference... absolute.
SSL (sorry so long!)