I had some friends over tonight and we were discussing a Christian worldview. It was myself and another apologist friend of mine with two others who are starting to get interested after having come in contact with some Jehovah’s Witness. We started talking about dealing with people on religious issues and this got into the art of arguing.
Christians need to learn how to argue. I’m not talking about it in a negative sense, but in the sense of being able to find the truth, find flaws in claims other people are making, and being able to refute them. Considering we are in an election year, this is an especially important time for Christians to be learning to watch arguments instead of simply delivery and presentation.
One thing I made clear to my friends was the need for Christian thinking. This is not the territory of Christians entirely. It is simply clear logic that has been handed down throughout the ages and describes the way the world really is. What I am about to say can be found by reading Aristotle or many books on logic. I write it out tonight for I was asked by them to do so.
That having been said then, let’s look at basic laws of logic.
First, the Law of Noncontradiction, which will be called the LNC for short. A cannot be both B and non-B in the same time and in the same sense. What this basically means is that contradictions can’t be true. I am sitting at my computer desk right now. I cannot be both sitting and not sitting at the same time and in the same sense.
The Muslim philosopher Avicenna had something interesting to say about this. He told us that the person who denies this law should be beaten and burned until they admit that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned.
Sadly, I meet people often who should be thankful Avicenna is no longer around….
The second law of logic is the Law of Identity. LID. A = A. My computer is my computer. Your car is your car. Your copy of the Bible is your copy and not mine. Even if I have two Bibles here and both of them are the same in all respects except location, they are not the same object. One of them is one thing and the other is another.
The third law is the Law of Excluded Middle, which is the LEM. A is either B or non-B but nowhere in-between. This water bottle next to me is either empty or not empty but nowhere in between.
We also brought up the importance of recognizing statements that contradict themselves and asking questions in response to show the contradiction.
“There is no truth.”
Response: Is it true there is no truth?
“All truth is relative.”
Response: “Is that a relative truth?”
“You can’t know anything.”
Response: “How do you know that?”
“You should doubt everything.”
Response: “Do you doubt that?”
“I can’t speak a word of English.”
Response: “Did you just say that in English?”
“That’s true for you but not for me.”
Response: “Is it true for you but not for me that that’s true for you but not for me?”
“There are no absolutes.”
Response: “Is that an absolute truth?”
“Only scientific statements are true.”
Response: “Is that a scientific statement?”
Now many people don’t come right out and make contradictions this straight forwardly, but some do. If not, one has to analyze what one says and see if there is a contradiction. There might not be. It could be the person is wrong on a matter of fact. If someone is a Christ-myther for instance, he’s not holding a position that’s inherently self-contradictory. He’s just holding a position that’s wrong on a matter of fact.
Good thinking needs to return to our lives. We live in a world where people are interested in knowing truths, but they do not want to know Truth. They want to know about things but they don’t want to know about what things are. We live in a psychological age where we want to know about our particular selves without konwing what it means to be a man, woman, or just a human.
Without knowing these rules, it is revealing why so many lose the game and so many play so badly at it.
Let’s not let Christians be in this category. We need to be out in the forefront with sound thinking.