Ads, Memes, And Arguments

Are you getting the message across? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Since I live in Georgia, when I turn on YouTube, I will often see political ads. These are pertaining to a coming runoff election in Georgia. What I notice often as a problem with ads is that you simply have a soundbite of about thirty seconds and for whatever party you’re on, that’s not enough to make a case.

Consider ads against the Democrats. We’re told in them that these people running for Senate will be able to bring about the third term of Obama and continue a socialist agenda. Now if you’re a conservative like me who doesn’t like any of that, that sounds persuasive to you.

But what if you weren’t? What if you were someone who liked Obama and who likes the idea of socialism? The ad could actually get you to vote the exact opposite way. Unfortunately, there’s no message coming across of “Here’s why this is bad” or “Here’s why this is good.” If it’s anything, it’s a few brief statements and certainly not an argument.

Memes on the internet are the same way. People who share memes thinking they are convincing arguments are fools. Usually, memes come loaded with presuppositions of what people already think. If you buy into the thought prior, the meme is convincing. If you don’t, it isn’t.

Now if you have made an argument prior, I’m fine with using a meme as an illustration. I’m also fine with using a meme as a point of humor in an argument. We all know that they can be incredibly funny. What I have a problem with is thinking they are the argument itself.

We can also do this in our evangelism today. If you go up to someone and just quote the Bible, it’s not going to be fully persuasive. After all, if they believed the Bible, they would be on the path to being a Christian. (I say this because cults will say they believe the Bible as well.) Your preacher’s point might sound persuasive, but to a skeptic, it might not.

Remember how a few weeks ago I shared how the worship leader at my church said that weapons and items like that had been found at the bottom of a Red Sea in a row? The average layman might have found that convincing. Your average skeptic will not and if he goes home and looks it up or looks it up right there, he could be greatly disappointed.

Internet atheists do the same thing. An account will be thrown out because it contains miracles and I have never understood the point of going after Christians because they believe that a dead man came back to life or that a virgin gave birth (Which I do affirm). This is part and parcel of Christianity. To make the argument that this is stupid, you need to show that miracles are impossible or go even further and show that there is no God who can do miracles. If you go up to someone who believes in God and tells them their religion includes miracles, why should that be a negative?

This is one more reason you try to understand what the other person believes. You need to make an argument that depends on what they believe and showing that that is false instead of going with just what you believe. If your ad or meme starts with what you already agree with, it won’t convince at all, except for people who are already convinced.

This will sadly require work that most people just won’t do. Most people won’t engage on both sides and most people will be persuaded by memes and ads because they are not taking the arguments seriously enough. Don’t be one of those people and you’ll be more persuasive in the end.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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