Excerpt From: Groothuis, Douglas. “Christian Apologetics.” InterVarsity Press, 2012-06-18. iBooks.
Nihilism argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value. Moral nihilists assert there is no inherent morality, and that accepted moral values are abstractly contrived. Nihilism may also take epistemological, ontological, or metaphysical forms, meaning respectively that, in some aspect, knowledge is not possible, or reality does not actually exist.
Ultimately nihilism views everything an meaningless. Groothius makes a persuasive case in "Christian Apologetics" that relativism inevitably leads to nihilism - something we now see being played out today. As more and more conclude that life is ultimately meaningless, drug overdose is the now the leading cause of death for people under 50 in the U.S. (see here.)
As Michael Brown wisely said here in 2015,
For the last few decades, our culture has warmly embraced moral relativism, where right and wrong are determined based on our feelings, and so there is nothing absolute. Morality is entirely relative, which means that you can have your morality and I can have mine.
Today, we have moved from moral relativism to reality relativism, where not only morality but everything is determined by how I feel, so you can have your reality and I can have mine.
This is not a matter of a dangerous descent down a slippery slope. This is a matter of falling off the cliff entirely.
Call it reality free-fall—or perhaps, reality free-for-all, since anything goes these days.
The effects of moral relativism are obvious.
Abortion may be wrong for you, but not for me.
Living together out of wedlock may be wrong for you, but not for me.
Name the sinful behavior, whatever it is—as long as it allegedly doesn't hurt anyone, which also becomes a relative concept—and who are you to judge? From porn to drugs to adultery to stealing, we can find justification for our actions.
In the words of Scripture, "All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit" (Prov. 16:2).
When I was shooting heroin (1970-71), I began to hang out with junkies, and they were a very different breed than my hippie friends. (Some of the hippies wouldn't do chemically-based drugs, since that was not "natural," which is yet another aspect of moral relativism, but that's another story.)
One junkie was telling me about a friend of his who was so morally bankrupt that he would steal money from his own grandmother.
I said to him, "But didn't you tell me you stole money from your own mother?"
He replied, "Yes, I did, but I would never steal money from my grandmother!" (To my shame, I had stolen money from my own father.)
This confirms what Ravi Zacharias observed, namely, "With no fact as a referent, what is normative is purely a matter of preference."
Well, we have taken that concept one step further today: "With no fact as a referent, what is real is purely a matter of perception."
Who's to say Bruce Jenner isn't a woman? (As someone tweeted me today, "Her name is Caitlyn.")
Who's to say Rachel Dolezal isn't black?
Who's to say that people suffering from species dysphoria are not actually part animal? (A technical description of this disorder is "the sense of being in the wrong [species'] body... a desire to be an animal.")
Who are you to judge?
Why must people be confined by the "gender binary" of male-female? Why, for that matter, must they be confined by the confining boundaries of skin color, ethnicity or even humanity? Why not transcend humanity and simply be who you really are, which means whoever you imagine yourself to be?
I recently had a conversation with a very sweet, non-religious lesbian caller to my radio show. She insisted that gender dysphoria (meaning, transgender identity) was different than species dysphoria, just as others have told me that gender dysphoria was different than Body Identity Integrity Disorder (sometimes called "amputee identity disorder," or, more recently, being "transabled"), and still others have argued strongly that being transgender is different than being "transracial."
Yet all the arguments are based on perception versus reality (with the exception of those who are born with biological or genetic abnormalities), and we are simply told that Bruce Jenner really is a woman (after all, transgender is the "t" of the LGBT movement) whereas Rachel Dolezal really isn't black. Based on what objective criteria? None.
I'm convinced that the LGBT war on gender will undermine itself, being part of the larger war on reality, and that soon enough, sanity will prevail in our society.
That being said, this is an issue I would gladly drop for now if not for the fact that it continues to shout at us day and night, calling for a response, the latest example being the outrageous interview with Rachel Dolezal on NBC's Nightly News.
I was so grieved by her comments during the interview that I prepared a special video response, which you can watch here.
R.C. Sproul once wrote, "I do not want to drive across a bridge designed by an engineer who believed the numbers in structural stress models are relative truths."
In the same way, there's not much hope for a world in which all reality becomes relative, but when we cut ourselves off from the one true God, the ultimate source of reality, we really do lose our bearings.
A return to divine truth—to reality—will deliver us from our delusions.