Logical Gal – Ridicule is NOT a good argument

13 Jan

In a podcast today, I listened to a discussion about the so-called Reason Rally held almost 2 years ago in March.   Link to USA Today article   The topic ironically was the LACK of reason throughout the entire day-long ‘fest’.  Instead of providing sound arguments to counter faith-based truth claims,  it seems that rally leaders focused on mockery as a tactic to attack Christians. Even the guest speaker, well-known atheist Richard Dawkins, advocated using ridicule  –

“Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt.”

How about instead – “.…specific claims that need to be countered with reason-based arguments…”

But religious folks as well as atheists are obligated to substantiate their premises. Yes, religion needs to be able to provide reasons for its truth claims.  Everybody who asserts a position or viewpoint does! That’s why we all need to be equipped with the tools that logic can provide.  It’s not just people of faith who need to be able to defend a view, EVERYONE does.

But if you are a Christian who cares about the attempts to marginalize belief in Jesus, you need especially to be aware that the ‘new atheists’ are gaining momentum under the guidance of a skilled tactician, Dr. Peter Boghossian. He’s even written a book entitled A Manual for Creating Atheists.

Whether we confront someone antagonistic to our religious or political  beliefs or whether we want to be able to convince another person to DO or BELIEVE something, we are far more effective if we know first of all:

  • what we believe and
  • WHY we hold that position

And the time and place to think through our reasons is BEFORE we are confronted.

What I’m thinking about doing is picking one issue in each of maybe 3 areas to start.  Then boiling down my belief about each separate issue into one premise or truth claim.  And then jotting down 3 reasons why I hold that view.

For example:

Premise

Thoughtful and critical reading is a valuable skill worth the time it takes to gain proficiency.

Reasons

1) Citizens who can influence government for the good need to be able to read positions and make intelligent assessments.

2) Rational thinking and reading are not automatic behaviors  such as breathing, but are developed.

3) Much time is necessary to develop this skill  – as with any other skill.

4) Since we are limited in time and energy, choosing to invest in this skill and say NO to others is a given.

5) The benefits for having worked to become a proficient and astute reader will spillover in other domains of one’s life.

That’s just a start to my 30 second elevator speech about why I think we should encourage each other and our children to READ good stuff.

Question: What positions do you want to think through and defend?

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