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Logical Gal ponders the wisdom of setting your own standards

3 Jun

Stephen Colbert’s advice to Wake Forest University’s Class of 2015 included this gem:

“I hope you find the courage to decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong and then please expect as much of the world around you. Try to make the world good according to your standards.”

For a better sense of the context, here’s a report of his speech – Here’s the link

So what are we supposed to make of this man’s distilled life lesson and advice?  What came to mind immediately was the fact that whoever makes an assertion has the responsibility to defend his or her point.  Often no one questions our sound bytes or pronouncements. We live in a fast world.  Thinking takes too much time, apparently.  Where to start???

Watching Greg Koukl model effective questioning in this Video teaching Tactics in Defending your Faith, I’ve learned that you can help someone reason through his assertions and see the outworking of his conclusions.  You do this by asking questions that get the person to look closely at what might happen if someone took seriously her point.  You walk with ‘asserters’ until they actually arrive at conclusions that are not sustainable or acceptable even to them.

So if I were face to face with Mr. Colbert I might ask him a few questions like:

  • Besides employing courage, how does one decide what is right and what is wrong?
  • What happens if your ‘right’ is my ‘wrong’?  Who gets the final say?  Who arbitrates?
  • Who gets to define the concept of ‘good‘ in that 2nd sentence quoted above?
  • What would our world look like if EVERYONE of these 2015 graduates you have addressed takes your advice and embarks on ‘trying to make’ the world ‘good’ according to his or her standards?
  • Aren’t radical Islamic groups trying to do just that?  Is force justified? How far do we allow fellow citizens to go in ‘making’ the world ‘good’?

For the amount they probably payed Stephen Colbert, I hope Wake Forest was satisfied with their choice of commencement speaker!

Stephen Colbert

Logical Gal-statements that die before reaching 1st base

15 Oct

Self Refuting Tree Sawing Analogy

 

I tuned in last week to J. Warner Wallace’s discussion about TRUTH.

He addressed rules or pronouncements that can’t even meet their own standards, what he calls self-refuting statements.

Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective who ministers by sharing investigative insights that apply to Christianity. He films and uploads a video discussion most Fridays about evidence supporting the truth of Jesus Christ.  You can find these gems at Cold Case Christianity.    Here’s the link to his site

One of his points about truth that I enjoyed hearing again described the change in the definition of TOLERANCE.

Tolerance USED to be defined as the respectful treatment of the FACT or PRESENCE of differing points of view.  This original view of ‘tolerance’ assumed that people believed differently and that beliefs often opposed or contradicted one another.  But today, the concept of tolerance includes the belief that ALL views are equally ‘valid’.  As meek and mild as this new version may seem, it has a mean bite to it!

Pushing the definition to go in THIS direction actually uses ‘valid’ to mean:

  • You can’t criticize my view and say it’s WRONG!

Today’s Tolerance Bullies protect ‘new and improved’ definitions of such fundamental parts of society as

  • holidays (Seattle just voted to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day)
  • gender
  • marriage
  • societal roles
  • aberrant and normal behavior
  • rights and entitlements

As overwhelming and furiously paced as these changes may be, one can take comfort in the FACT that the logic behind the pre-supposition grounding this new definition of tolerance is flawed.

If it is true that tolerance means you can’t say my belief is WRONG, then…

  • You, yourself, can’t label ‘wrong’ MY belief that traditional marriage is the only legitimate marriage union
  • You, yourself, have no leg to stand on when criticizing my view that abortion is murder!
  • And if I were to think it’s okay to act out any number of behaviors you don’t like, my loyalty to them is protected by your new definition

Do you see how today’s new definition breaks down before getting to first base?  That, my friends, is the beauty of logic!

Just like the in-your-face comeback (see image below) to the fact of the existence of absolute truth, their statements break down before they can gather a molecule of dust!

Self-refuting statements

 

All you have to say in response to their claim above:

– So, is your statement just a personal opinion?

Question:  What is a ‘Truth Pronouncement’ that seems suicidal to you?

 

 

 

 

So next time, instead of feeling overwhelmed by next topsy-turvy way of thinking, take a deep breath and ask yourself if that person’s statement follows their OWN ground rules.

Logical girl and seeming contradictions

26 Mar

Most of the time when I encounter what seems like a contradiction, it turns out that just thinking clearly for a few minutes resolves the problem.

If thinking coherently can untangle some issues, why am I hesitant to proceed immediately to exercising my mind?  There are a couple of possibilities:

  • we aren’t used to thinking
  • we haven’t been taught to think
  • it takes time to think
  • how do we know if we are right after having thought?
  • our society doesn’t value the invisible world of inner thoughts.  Americans are pragmatists. It’s a DO this….3 EASY steps…..whatever WORKS…culture

Penseur

If someone isn’t DOING something, they are labelled as lazy or as dreamers.  So we avoid thinking, for lack of immediate visible payoff.

But there’s the rub – without clear and logical thought, we can be left with invalid ideas.  And ideas have consequences.   Actions flow from ideas, whether accurate or not.

So much for my detour into why we don’t think.  All that was to explain how pleasantly surprised I was to see an apparent contradiction melt away as I listened to a man think out loud.

The conversation fragment centered around God’s tendency to act differently throughout history AND yet still retain the attribute of unchangeability.  At first the one might seem to preclude the other.

God doesn't change

But listening to this thinker go deeper, I learned otherwise.  God is just, that is, He does what is always right.  THAT is the the quality that doesn’t change.  But as any parent knows, acting correctly toward one’s child looks different at each stage.  The parenting response might change, but the quality of fair and correct discipline and training need not alter.

Protective Parent

 

So a parent can still be considered consistent yet act differently and appropriately at each stage – as can God.  So when some people casually toss off the quip,”I prefer Jesus to the God of the Old Testament,” they are actually communicating that God has changed or there are 2 different Gods.  When you hear that, just ask them WHY?  But be gentle as you lead them to consider how they themselves might respond differently in various situations YET still be considered loving or fair.

My hope is that NEXT time I meet another apparent contradiction, I’ll pause and reflect first before drawing any conclusions.

 

Question: What about you?  what contradiction bothers you?