Vanilla or Chocolate?

Subjective Truths and Objective Truths

We all like different flavors of ice cream.

You say that you prefer vanilla, while your friend says that he prefers chocolate. These kinds of statements are subjective statements, meaning they claim something about a particular person.

Subjective statements depend on the person.

A subjective claim can be true for one person and false for another. The statement, “vanilla is the most delicious flavor of ice cream,” would be true for you as a vanilla fan and false for your chocolate-loving friend. Subjective statements can’t apply to everyone, since they refer to our particular opinions, feelings, and experiences.

But there are facts we can all know about ice cream.

Your friend says of a particular scoop of ice cream, “This ice cream is green. It weighs 70 grams. It contains 7 grams of fat.” These are objective statements. They describe characteristics of the ice cream itself, unrelated to our individual tastes or preferences.

Objective statements are either true or false.

If your friend is speaking about the top scoop of ice cream in the photo, then he is incorrect. The ice cream is not green; it is actually more of a brown color. Since objective statements describe an object outside of ourselves, then these statements are either true or false. Their truth has nothing to do with our opinions, feelings, or experiences.

If something is objectively true, then it is true for everyone.

As another example, imagine office workers in a conference room. One says, “I’m cold!”, while another declares, “I’m too hot!” They can both be right; these are subjective statements. But if one says that it is 65 degrees in the room, and another declares that it is 70 degrees, then they can’t both be right. The temperature is an objective reality; it is a reality outside of ourselves.

Issues of faith are objective statements.

When Christians say, “Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead,” we are not making a subjective claim but an objective claim. It is not a claim like “I’m cold,” but rather a claim like “it is 70 degrees.” Either Jesus rose from the dead, or he did not. If this is true, it is true for everyone. If this is false, it is false for everyone.

Relativism makes all moral and religious claims to be merely subjective.

As we described in our previous message, our culture teaches us to consider moral and religious truth to be relative to each person. In other words, these are just subjective claims, matters of personal preference which change from person to person. In our next message, we will explore some of the problems with this approach.

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