“Im not religious, Im spiritual.” Conversely other people state that they dislike the formality of religion, of beliefs and practices, but do believe in God and in some sense of higher truth. This confusion might be best addressed by doing away with the category of religion altogether — religion is whatever a society defines it to be, and the term has grown so meaningless, people even speak of making golf or music their religion simply because they love these hobbies so much.
In this postmodern age, the idea of absolute truth has ebbed away. In medieval times, absolute truth for Christians was manifest in Jesus; for some empires the word of a great leader was a manifestation of absolute truth, and for Buddhists, the absence of any absolutes in the world is the truth. Philosophy and science have a more rigorous but also a narrower set of criteria for the establishment of absolute truth. Perhaps truth can only be properly understood by setting limits of knowledge: for example, when constructing a deductive syllogism, it is possible to say: Socrates is a man, all men are mortal, ergo Socrates is mortal. But a higher sense of truth that exists outside of these constructed boundaries may not exist.
Absolute truth cannot be proven unless we have a definition of what is absolute. In science, which has its own set of boundaries and rigorous sense of what constitutes empirical knowledge, a hypothesis can be proved through experimentation. But in the world outside of scientific epistemology, truth becomes more flexible — in a court of law, witnesses remember events differently. People demand absolute truth in terms of proof of someone elses love, but emotional truth is always subjective and can shift from moment to moment. And in studying history the idea of absolute truth seems to completely dissolve — once upon a time, the absolute truth for Aristotle was that women were inferior beings and slavery was inevitable.
This is seen as absolute falsehood today, because of cultural changes and the way we have come to reinterpret what is truth, and what is humanity.
Understand the function of an ideology
Ideally, an ideology should provide believers with moral and practical guidance. But it is easy to hold fast to an ideology, and admit no disagreement. This close-mindedness shuts out the acquisition of new knowledge, and makes the believer less, rather than more functional in the world. An ideology can be comforting, and that sense of comfort can lull us into a sense of false security about the world, and a belief that we alone are correct. An ideology can become an unquestioned dogma, and used to justify horrific acts, as was seen during the attacks of September 11, 2001.
However, not all ideologies are bad. For example, Americas core ideology proclaims the importance of individualism, truth, and freedom. Our ideology, like all ideologies, is not universal, but it has provided a positive foundation for U.S. culture and society. Ideologies are sets of assumptions, and some assumptions are required for a society to function. If every person had his or her own unique truth, set of laws, and morals, the result would be chaos.
An ideology should be somewhat limited in its scope but flexible. Because it is a set of beliefs, it should be able to change with a change of historical or life circumstances. It cannot be all things to all people, otherwise it is useless. It must offer some glue to hold the individuals and the communitys world together but the glue cannot become so calcified that the ideology is set in stone, and becomes a relic..