The Words of the Carlson Family

Absolutely Not

Paul Carlson
March, 2001

This month’s article springs from a discussion engaged in by my on-line writer’s group. Our initial subject was science vs. mysticism and, as usual, it branched out all over the place. I’ve invited two of its members, Dale Gillis and F.R.R. Mallory, to contribute to this article.


The mystical, or non-scientific, worldview has been called Relativism, and its aspects range from venerable philosophies to daily lifestyles. My thanks to Richard Lewis and Dr. Tyler Hendricks for explaining it in these pages.

Relativism, in its modern form, emerged from popular confusion over Einstein’s famous Theory of Relativity. People have generalized Einstein’s term to encompass relationships, ideals, and even facts. As in: "Hey man, everything’s relative." Einstein could have dubbed his idea the Theory of Invariance, because it states that the speed of light does not vary, no matter how fast the source of the light is moving. In other words, it sets forth a whole series of absolutes.

The late scholar Allan Bloom, in his tome The Closing of the American Mind, discussed the ruinous effect of Relativism on higher education. Writing in the 1980s, he noted that his students denied having, or even needing, any heroes—while secretly envying Mick Jagger.

Truth and Laws

A recent article in Skeptical Inquirer, the magazine for debunkers of frauds, discussed ‘truth.’ It said that truth, as encapsulated in scientific theorems, is an objective absolute. Next, it recounted how new theorems emerge, toppling the ‘established’ truth. It then discussed Epistemology, claiming that philosophers haven’t been able to formulate any clear definition of ‘fact’ or ‘truth.’ (Apparently these folks, most of whom are atheists, want plenty of wiggle room.)

My opinion on this subject appeared in a letter in Mercury, the journal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. The cosmos has fundamental laws, such as gravity. No matter how loudly you repudiate that law, you’re still going to get the same result when you step off a ledge!

Moral laws are just as absolute, being rooted in inescapable human realities such as love, respect, and unselfish action. Every major religion upholds the Golden Rule, and some version of the Ten Commandments. Monotheists understand that this flows directly from our Creator.

Morality is also the basis of secular law, and therefore of civilization itself. People who deliberately break laws are regarded as criminals. On the other hand, those who can’t even comprehend laws are subject to special psychiatric and legal remedies.


Some people react strongly to the very concept of morality. They claim they’re being "repressed," in both personal and social ways.

My fellow writer F.R.R. Mallory is an eloquent advocate of this view. In the best Socratic tradition, I’ve asked her to state the case in her own words:

Criticizing someone’s personal beliefs, ideas, feelings, or opinions is a form of imposition; an act of subtle aggression. These challenges are almost always forums for verbal, mental, and emotional assault.

Often a challenger will suggest that "all of society" agrees with them. This becomes intimidation. In the religious arena, when individuals live outside the dominant culture, they may be subjected to extreme brutality, to punish them for the "effrontery" of simply not believing. We interpret so-called "divine law" to suit our individual goals, and to excuse atrocities.

The intent of the challenger, here, is meaningless. The perception of "being right" was sufficient grounds for violence. It is important to remember that ALL forms of measurement are created by human beings, to be used upon other human beings.

With our limited understanding of self and cosmos, all that we can state with clarity is that, at some point, the cosmos came to exist. And that, possibly, it may cease to exist. Beyond this, all ideas are the subjective, individual opinions of billions of lifeforms.

Opinions are not right or wrong—they’re simply yours. A possession of the individual, struggling as an individual, to form a constantly changing perception of the cosmos. —F.R.R. Mallory

Mallory is a prolific writer for the ‘alternate lifestyles’ scene. These folks place great emphasis on personal respect and tolerance, especially for the [to put it politely] exotic or unusual. It seems they’re also quite worried about a revival of the Salem Witch Trials, or whatever modern form such nasty activities might take.


When applied to new or scientific-sounding claims, Relativism can have outlandish results. Without an objective standard of truth, everything becomes a matter of personal opinion. Secular laws are mocked. Real experts—in any subject—are dissed. Peculiar beliefs become widespread.

Stay up late for a couple of nights and listen to radio’s Art Bell Show. A parade of self-assured ‘mystical’ and ‘alternative’ celebrities will appear. Many are quite handy with the jargon of physics, astronomy, and archaeology. Each guest, no matter how absurd their claims, is given a warm and uncritical reception.

One of Bell’s most popular guests is author Zecharia Sitchin. Dale Gillis, another member of my writer’s group, is an analytical chemist. Here, he applies the same sort of rigorous logic to one of Sitchin’s books:

Let me give one example of what is wrong with Sitchin. In his fourth book, Lost Realms, Sitchin adds to his claim that the Sumerian gods were aliens by extending their presence into South America. Other ancient astronaut theorists had made use of the ruin of Tiwanaku on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Here Sitchin does so as well.

Sitchin claims that Tiwanaku means Tin City in Sumerian. The aliens, "gods," needed tin and set up a mining operation in that area. This claim then becomes foundational for the story Sitchin tells in this volume.

Does Tiwanaku mean Tin City in Sumerian? Actually no one knows how the ancient Sumerians pronounced anything, although scholars can read the language to some extent. No one knows what the builders of Tiwanaku called it, either. Tiwanaku is what the Aymara Indians called it, but they did not build it. Sitchin takes two pronunciations that are both unknown and assumes that they are same! That assumption then becomes key evidence.

That kind of ignorance is why archaeologists don’t even bother to reply.—Dale Gillis © 2001

I’ve met adults who became defensive at the merest hint that their favorite ‘non-linear thinker’ is actually mistaken, if not a charlatan. With so much invested in what they thought was esoteric or cutting-edge knowledge, they were terribly disappointed.

Children’s Lessons

The fairy tales of every culture were designed to give their children a good foundation in life. In Europe, the Brothers Grimm collected the most famous of these tales. Scary witches and trackless forests made their moral lessons unforgettable.

Nowadays, liberalism and political correctness have leached the moral authority from American children’s stories. Happily, all is not lost!

In the tradition of the Brothers Grimm, seven members of my writer’s group contributed six (out of fifteen) wonderful short stories to a new children’s anthology. Just published by Yard Dog Press, it has the rather unusual title Stories That Won’t Make Your Parents Hurl. Editor Selina Rosen sums up the theme: "If you misbehave, the consequences will be dire!" (Personally, it was my first paid sale.)

You can get it from or order it through a bookstore. Better still, buy it directly at,


Without a Creator God, morals would be nothing but a social consensus; arbitrary rules to be imposed upon others. So, are moral laws an imposition? You bet. Are they needed? Urgently!

Parents know about physical absolutes, such as heat and gravity, that their adventurous toddlers do not. Wise parents also understand the moral laws their rebellious teenagers may be ignoring. I’ve never yet heard a mother answer "yes" to Dr. Laura’s trademark ‘Would You Want Your Daughter To?’ question. Moral laws aren’t as spectacular as gravity, but people who break them will reap the consequences.

This is one of the Principle’s key insights. Far from getting dragged into some harsh Throne Room for afterlife Judgment, we are creating our own eternal future, slowly but just as surely.

Even so, the idea of personal license (as opposed to true freedom) is very appealing. Please note: the actual result, if Relativism prevailed, would be the end of civilization. People are fallen, and when authority is removed, chaos results. The shrewd and the brutal would dominate.

Yes, God demands our obedience. For Unificationists, this entails a lot more than following some vague precepts. We cannot personally accomplish everything asked of us, but as our Rev. Kevin Thompson likes to say, "If everyone did something, then everything would get done."

The Bible is filled with the tragedies of rebellion, and the blessings gained by obedience. God is everyone’s parent, and because His Will is based upon profound love and knowledge, obedience leads us to harmony and great blessings.

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