In the arena of online Christendom there is no shortage of debate. Over the years, I’ve had more than my fair share of these arguments, some good and some not so good. More recently, I’ve come to understand that you cannot teach someone who does not want to be taught by you. Time and time again, I’ve used logic, reason and scripture to make my cases on various subject, but ultimately the work that goes into a topic is only received if that person wants to learn.
Now, I am well aware that much of my writing it outside the scope of what passes for “popular” Christianity, and as such I am more than willing to take responsibility for my work, and to defend or be corrected as need be. The comedy happens when someone does not want to be taught and argues for the sake of “being right.” All too often, there is little one can do to convince such a person of anything, seeing as their need to be right supersede the desire for truth.
With that said, I’d like to point out the top five failed argument techniques that Christian use to oppose a particular position they don’t agree with.
- Firstly the Straw Man argument, which is an argument based on misrepresentation of a position. It is akin to making a statement like “All sins are forgiven” and then having someone else say “You are preaching Universalism,” when in fact the two are not explicitly linked. Another example that I have encountered is when say that “Jesus taught the Law,” some would rush off and say “He’s saying Jesus is not God!” Again these arguments are unrelated, and out of context.
- The second most common fallacy is called the Argument from incredulity, or an appeal to common sense. In short this argument come in statements like “I just can’t imagine that to be true,” or “I don’t believe it, so it must not be true.” It is a common thing to exalt one’s own understanding or capacity to believe something as the rational measuring stick of what is true or not. As we can see this is more of a personal struggle than a rational argument, as there is no reason to hold one’s personal convictions as means of reasoning.
- The Red Herring fallacy, is an argument given in response to a proposition that is irrelevant and draws attention away from the subject of discussion. In one of my articles I did a study on the word Repentance, as used through out church history. This article drew much objection from some people. So when I asked them about what their objections were with my word study of the word Repentance, they went on to talk about their personal grieves towards me, about things I had done in the past, and even went so far as to raise objections to a video I had on my Facebook page, and how inappropriate one of the girls in the video was dressed. Needless to say, all of that had no relevance to the article in question.
- Ad Hominem, this of course is the most commonly used of all failed arguments found online. It is to resort to attacking the person making the proposition personally, instead of addressing their argument. There are many ways this fallacy takes shape. Sometimes it is an attempt to expose some information about the target to try and discredit what the person is saying. Other times it can be a form of verbal abuse, or what’s sometimes called Appeal to the stick, where threats of hell, and devils and other such mechanisms are used to try gain support for their position. These attack are always directed to the person making the proposition, and never address the argument presented.
- Lastly, the Moral High Ground Fallacy, in which a person assumes a “Holier than thou” attitude to coerce submission to their position. This argument takes many forms, but It is usually in the lines of “Look at all the good things I do,” or “I am a Pastor,” or “I have studied more than you.” Again these types of arguments do no hold any real relevance in a debate, and only serve to show how little the person can truly defend their position.
By no means are these all the fallacies that used in debate and discussion, but these are the most common, I’ve encountered. I say all this, in hopes that people may recognize these arguments and know that when you encounter them, you should be aware of two possible things. Firstly, the person using the fallacy has lost the argument, and secondly, they are a good candidate for someone who is more concerned with being right than the truth of what is presented. At this point there is no need to continue to defend your position, as they have demonstrated a lack of being teachable from you.
I Hope this helps guys.
Fore more, enjoy the video about Logical Fallacies.