A self-defeating statement is one that includes itself in its own field of reference, and it defeats its own claim. For example, “No English sentence can be eight words long.” This statement self destructs, because it is eight words long. Another example would be, “100% of statistics are wrong” or “You can’t trust anything that I say” or “Nobody drives in the city; there’s too much traffic!” If we take these statements seriously, we can’t trust them.
Let’s consider a few relativistic statements through this lens:
1. “It is impossible for one worldview to be right.”
Isn’t relativism a worldview? Wouldn’t this mean that it is impossible for relativism to be right?
2. “You can’t make truth claims about God that universally apply to everybody on Earth.”
Really? You just made a universal truth claim about God, and you’re trying to apply it to me! You say that you want everyone to have their own view, but it really seems like you want everyone to be a relativist like you. You said that nothing is universally true, but you seem to be saying that your view is universally true. Philosopher Paul Copan writes, “If claims are only true to the speaker, then his claims are only true to himself. It is difficult to see why his claims should matter to us… Oddly, the relativist is unwilling to relativize his relativism.”
3. “Christianity might be true for you, but it isn’t true for everyone.”
If my Christian belief is only true for me, then why isn’t your relativism only true for you?
4. “It is arrogant to say that someone else’s worldview is wrong, and it’s arrogant to say that your view is the truth.”
Aren’t you saying that Christianity is wrong? By this definition, wouldn’t relativism be an arrogant worldview to hold?
If a worldview is internally inconsistent, it can’t be true. Copan writes, “While a worldview can be internally consistent or logical yet still be false, no worldview can be true if it contradicts itself.” In addition, it seems that relativism is not only self-defeating, but let’s be honest; it’s hypocritical. Relativism states that you can believe whatever you want, as long as it agrees with relativism. Relativism does the exact same thing that it preaches against.