This is possibly one of the most common, and most frightening statements I hear in college. I completely understand its application towards certain things and actually agree with it. Such areas would be tastes in music, clothes, movies, food etc. However, where this statement becomes dangerous is when we start talking about anything of importance. Mainly, this comes down to truth claims. Imagine what would happen if we adopted this philosophy (because that’s what it truly is) in every aspect of life. People would take math classes and science classes and run into problems because the instructor tells you that 2+2=4 and you firmly believe that 2+2=5….of course that’s a very basic instance and every thinking person at once realizes that just because you believe 2+2=5 that doesn’t change the fact that you’re wrong.
The interesting thing is that the only areas that people start using statements like “to each his own” are either philosophical/theological or in the areas of theoretical science/physics. Most people simply aren’t interested in the latter categories, because quite honestly, things get pretty difficult in terms of discipline specific languages and theories. (ie. string theory, alternate dimension theory, bubble theory, etc.) So that then brings us to the first category, the philosophical and theological one. You have some people that are extremely against certain ideas, and those are the people that for one, probably won’t be persuaded against their views, and two won’t be saying something as nice and soft as “to each his own.”
The statement comes up a lot when talking about the existence of God. It’s a very feel good way of saying that you can believe what you want and I can believe what I want and everybody can get along that way and nobody’s feelings get hurt. Personally, I think that’s a dangerous position to take, albeit a nice and safe-sounding one. The reason I think this is because there is such a thing as truth. You simply can’t take certain ideas and meld them together and have them both be correct. Specifically, Christianity makes several truth claims that are exclusive in nature, such as Christ saying that He is the only way to the Father. Now, if that claim is true, then there is only one way to get to Heaven, and all other ways lead to Hell. The “all roads lead to Rome” attitude would say that just because you believe in the Christian truth claims doesn’t mean that they are necessarily true for anyone but you. I’m not entirely sure how that can possibly be the case with such a strong statement. Either Christ is the only way or He isn’t. If He is, then obviously any point of view that suggest something else is not truth at all; conversely, if He is not, then Christianity is not true.
What’s more is that when you start getting into these really serious issues, there simply has to be an end goal. Philosophy by name is the search for truth, surely the great thinkers of history knew this and so had an end goal of at least truth in mind. It astounds me to think that modern people believe that since we are so advanced and tolerant, then surely we have the correct way of thinking. While at the same time, most of us are completely ignorant to what people like Aristotle, Plato, Augustine, Aquinas etc. were writing about on the same ideas we’re claiming to have compromising ideas about.
In an attempt to all get along and not hurt anyone’s feelings, we’ve adopted the idea of relativism and have not succeeded in making everyone have truth, but instead have succeeded in putting blindfolds on in an atmosphere of academic dishonesty and laziness.