When Julie went away to college, she made a point of sharing Christ with her three roommates. They listened politely and seemed supportive.
Julie was excited; they all seemed open to the Gospel. But to her surprise, they responded just as warmly when Sally said she was into the New Age and believed in “the god within all of us”; and when Amy said she believed that God is a “force,” like in Star Wars; and when Ruth said she was a “very spiritual” person but didn’t believe in any god at all.
But what baffled Julie most of all was when the others agreed that “we’re all saying the same thing in the end.”
How can Christian students like Julie make sense of the bewildering range of beliefs they encounter in this post-Christian age? In his recently re-issued book, How to Stay Christian in College, Professor J. Budziszewski explains that Julie had run into the powerful myth that “truth is whatever you sincerely believe.” It holds that, if you believe it, then it’s “true for you”—and rules of logic and evidence don’t apply.
The “myth of sincerity” is especially potent when it comes to life’s big questions—about God and morality. Consider abortion, for example. A few years ago, abortionist James McMahon said, “I frankly think the soul or personage comes in when the fetus is accepted by the mother.” In other words, an unborn baby only becomes human when the mother sincerely believes he’s human.
Christian students encounter the same type of reasoning on the college campus. If a classmate sincerely believes her unborn child is human, friends will call the child a “baby” and congratulate her. But if she doesn’t, they call it a “fetus” and encourage her to have an abortion.
This is such an obvious fallacy. Can we really make something true just by believing it? How about a concrete example? If you sincerely believe your onion rings are French fries, do they become French fries? If you sincerely believe that you’re a frog, do you become a frog? You might leap in the air, but you will not be a frog.
When it comes to concrete, familiar objects, no one falls for the sincerity myth. We all know there’s an objective reality that exists on its own, despite what we may believe about it—and no matter how sincere we are. If we accept the idea of objective truth when dealing with trivial questions, then logically we have to accept it when dealing with big questions about God and morality as well.
When students like Julie leave home, they need to know how to counter the myths they’ll face on college campuses. Why not get your college-bound son, daughter, or grandchild a copy of J. Budziszewski’s book How to Stay Christian in College. You can order a copy through BreakPoint (1-877-322-5527).
Christian young people don’t need to be baffled about how to respond to their roommates or their professors. With a little help, they can learn to cut through the myths and fables with the sharp edge of biblical truth.