There Are No Absolutes

There are no absolutes.
— Says the person who just made an absolute

This statement reminds me of that long, drawn out, epic battle scene between Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi on that lava pit planet on the outer rim, Mustafar. (If you get this reference, then congratulations, you're a nerd. If you don't, no worries. I'll explain.)


Right. So the scene goes like this . . . lights, camera, ACTION:

ANAKIN: Don't lecture me, Obi-Wan. I see through the lies of the Jedi. I do not fear the dark side as you do. I have brought peace, justice, freedom, and security to my new Empire. 

OBI-WAN: Your new Empire? 

ANAKIN: Don't make me kill you. 

OBI-WAN: Anakin, my allegiance is to the Republic ... to democracy. 

ANAKIN: If you're not with me, you're my enemy. 

OBI-WAN: Only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes. I will do what I must. (Ignites his lightsaber.) 

ANAKIN: You will try. (Ignites his lightsaber.) 

You heard that, right? The Jedi says, "Only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes." But doesn't that statement make this Jedi into a Sith Lord? He just dealt an absolute statement about absolutes! Confusion abounds, but one thing is for sure: this statement is silly. And so are the Jedi (sometimes). 

As subjective, embodied, limited human beings, we cannot make such objective, omnipresent, universal claims. We can't say, on our own whim: There are absolutes. And we can't say, on our own whim: There are not absolutes. 

As far as we know, there could be absolutes or there could not be absolutes. This is the only thing we can know absolutely, when left to ourselves and when exploring this question of knowledge (what philosophers have termed with their fancy words, epistemology). 

So, are there absolutes?

Absolutely. (See what I did there?) But I couldn't have known this apart from someone else telling me that there are absolutes. For Christianity, it all boils down to someone who exists outside of our limited, embodied, existence telling us who we are and what exists. Without a Creator, creatures would be left to making moral judgments without any moral ability.

Thankfully, God has written the law upon our hearts and we have some basis for what is up and what is down, what is left and right, what is right and what is wrong. I could go on but I really just wanted to say something about Star Wars today, and throw a little something out there for you to ponder. 

At the end of the day, we are left to the the mercy of a God who cared enough about us to get his own hands dirty in the creation he made that rejected him. We made it messy, and he came in to clean up the mess. When we were busy trying to become like God, God became like us in the person and work of Jesus. He got wet, dirty, and was murdered for us.

Sure, the universe is vast and there are many unknowns in this life. We cannot know everything, but we can know some things. So know this: God absolutely loved you enough to send his Christ to die for you. Believe in this Christ, and you will know this love. This love is all you need.


Nicholas Davis

Rev. Nicholas Davis is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America.

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