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What is Tolerance?

What is Tolerance?

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As the golden rule asserts, we need to treat everyone as we would like to be treated. We, therefore, need to be tolerant of others. But what is tolerance? A well-known dictionary defines tolerance as, “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own.”

Two descriptive terms of the definition of tolerance that stand out are “objective” and “permissive.” These are the types of attitudes communicated in the description. The sentiment of tolerance in regards to how we approach people via our attitudes is important. We must approach everyone with fairness and respect. While a respectful attitude must be exhibited in our approach, we must never have to sacrifice the truth to do it. Tolerance must never replace reality. Our communication might be a little more tender and respectful, but the truth must always remain the bedrock of our existence.

A cold-blooded murderer almost certainly has less regard for human life than most others. If we intend to be tolerant of all people, all things, and all ideas, then this murderer’s opinions about life and his practices of murder would have to be justly considered before labeling or condemning this person. But our most intuitive feelings about this person’s opinions, ideas and practices are already well established. Should we as a society be tolerant of murderers? Should we try to be understanding of their views and their ways? Should we let them run loose? We can easily see that it is impossible and irrational to try to be tolerant of everyone, everything, and every idea. There are opinions, ideas, and practices that we should never tolerate.

It has become narrow-minded to believe that truth is knowable and objective. Click To Tweet

As the truth becomes less prevalent and harder to uncover, we find ourselves embracing a watered-down reality, flooded with apathy for the acceptance of all ideas, regardless of facts. It has slowly become more important to tend to people’s sensitivities rather than to convey the truth. It has become narrow-minded to believe that truth is knowable and objective. We have welcomed political correctness and oppressed the truth whenever it has jeopardized our sensitivities. Of course, the alternative is not to bluntly blast people and call them out for their views, but even at its most gentle and respectful levels, conveying the truth has become somewhat taboo.

As such, the societal redefinition of truth as the tolerance with which we must deal with everyone is grossly misguided. In fact, there is an enormous logical problem with this rationale. To say that all views are equally valid might sound tolerant but in reality, it’s a contradiction. If indeed all points of view are equally valid, then no view can contradict another. But many views contradict one another. If all points of view are equally valid, then no view can claim exclusivity, but most of what we’ve been exposed to in the world require exclusive acceptance. Thus the subtle redefinition of tolerance in our modern culture turns out to be a self-refuting proposition.

We don't tolerate people with whom we agree; we tolerate people with whom we disagree. Click To Tweet

Finally, there is no need for tolerance if everyone has views which are equally valid or has the same exact point of view on every topic. We don’t tolerate people with whom we agree; we tolerate people with whom we disagree. Individuals who agree on an issue do not need to be gracefully understanding of one another, since their views are, well, aligned. Today’s redefinition of tolerance leaves little room for objective moral judgment. Societal norms have quietly been reduced to mere matters of preference. Hence, we are gradually losing our moral foundation for being able to resolve international disputes and condemning such intuitively realized evils such as genocide and torture. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own reality.

Image courtesy of The Contradict Movement

About the Author Arthur Khachatryan

Arthur is an author, a former agnostic, and a current ambassador of Jesus of Nazareth who loves to share the best of reasons for God's ultimate reality. His love and passion are helping skeptics and Christians grow in their faith and knowledge of God through accessible materials.

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  • Ben says:

    Thanks for a great post on such an important issue in the search for ultimate truth. But in the end ultimate truth can only be grasped by those who are being transformed by the Holy Spirit, to others it will remain foolishness. https://escapethebox.blog/

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