f The Wittenberg Door: March 2006

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Stay Out of My Uterus! - How Not to Argue (Conclusion)

In my last post, Part 1, we learned not to name call, and not to make charges for which we could likewise be charged. In this post, we'll pick-up where we left off:

3. Back up your claims with evidence and sound reasoning

4. Be consistent and consider the implications of your view

3. Back up your claims with evidence and sound reasoning

Apparently, the pro-life group displayed images of aborted children. Zoe took issue with this and referred to them, the images, as having “questionable validity.”

The charge she’s making is that the photos might not be real. The problem is Zoe gives us no reason to question the validity of the photos; she simply makes the charge.

People who resort to the “liar, liar pants on fire” tactic show that they are devoid of arguments. This is also another form of name calling. It’s childish, dishonest, and embarrassing, and we as servants of the Most High God must never behave in such a way. Instead, we must honor our Lord by carefully crafting our arguments and being clear about the reasons we hold the positions we do.

Zoe also implied that the pro-life group’s “fetus-fest” violated the “essence of their [women associated with the college] freedom” and that there “is an ever-present violation of the privacy and liberty of women that is found in the media, politics, religion, entertainment and social interaction.”

Again, no evidence follows the proclamation.

Remember: When anyone makes a claim, ask him for his supporting evidence and/or reasons for making the claim. We likewise must be ready to answer such questions. (Inventory your arguments to make sure you’re ready!)

4. Be consistent and consider the implications of your view

This one is related to number two (making charges), as you will see. Zoe is opposed to . . .

  • Oppression and violations of peoples’ self-determination
    What about the determination of the pre-natal? Why are they excluded? And, who gets to decide who’s “in” and who’s “out”? Isn’t unjustly killing a human being the greatest act of oppression?

    War Wow! I’m sure that the antebellum slave holders would be happy to hear that! And could you imagine Hitler’s glee! Okay, okay—I’m being sarcastic. Please forgive this flight of fancy! We must always take what our opponent says seriously and treat him respectfully. That means we don’t scoff when he says something really stupid.

    Instead, ask if he thought that fighting to end slavery was wrong; or if stopping Hitler through war was immoral. Chances are he’ll say that those acts were okay, and then you’ll have found the chink in his armor. If he says, however, that those wars were wrong, then paint for him a picture of a world were evil always triumphs. (Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. Prv. 26:25)
  • Death penalty
    This is a great opportunity to ask a clarifying question, all the while pointing out the foolishness of his thinking: So, let me make sure I understand you. Those who’ve committed the most diabolical of crimes should be spared, but those who’ve committed no crimes should be killed?

    Now, prepare yourself. Every time I’ve asked this question, the person answers with something like, “We’ll the criminal is a human being (or person), and that thing is just ‘cellular growths’ (to use Zoe’s term).” First, stay away from the term “person.” Pro-abortion folks have loaded it with all kinds of strange meanings.

    Instead, use the term “human being.” (If he has a problem with that, ask him why? Aren’t persons human beings?) Now, ask him, “If it’s not a human being, what kind of being is it?” Recounting a few examples of beings reproducing after their kind might help clear things up for him (e.g., cats have kittens, dogs have puppies, human beings have . . . what are those things called?).
  • Killing animals (she’s a vegan)
    Believe me, there are people out there who value animal over human life. Sometimes, though, it might just be that he hasn’t thought-out the implications of his position. Ask a clarifying question like the one we discussed under “death penalty.” Remember: Be charitable and give him the benefit of the doubt (i.e., maybe he just hasn’t considered thoroughly what he is saying).

Okay, okay! I hear your screams of “uncle.” This started out as a quick post, and turned into a monster! Read Zoe’s column yourself and you’ll see that I left a lot out! Remember: Take stock of your arguments, only using the good ones; be charitable in your discourse; treat your opponent with respect; and always remember, to God alone the glory!

Oh, I almost forgot. Zoe would like to say goodbye too:

“If you cut off my reproductive choice, can I cut off yours?” Ouch!

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Stay Out of My Uterus! - How Not to Argue - Part 1

In an editorial on the student-run Metropolitan State College of Denver Met Online, Justice for All, stay out of my uterus, Zoe Williams provides us a great example of how not to argue.

Before we get to Zoe's comments, though, let’s consider a few helpful hints for engaging a person’s ideas in the market place:

1. Don’t name call

2. Don’t make charges for which you could likewise be charged

3. Back up your claims with evidence and sound reasoning

4. Be consistent and consider the implications of your view

Now, since we have some rules to play by, let’s take a look at how Zoe comported herself and see what we can learn:

1. Don’t name call

Zoe doesn’t like pro-lifers, and she lets us know it by calling them “cultish” (twice), “right wing whack-jobs,” and “magalomanical religious fundamentalist privileged males.” She also implied that they are misogynistic.

Now, to be honest with you, I don’t typically like “pro-deathers” either. But, because I’m a Christian, I’m called to be “salt and light” (Matt. 5:13), and name calling or misrepresenting someone’s views doesn’t fit the bill; besides, it’s bad tactics. People of good will stop listening to you if you start acting like a school-yard bully. We must seek to persuade, not offend. (Remember, the gospel is offensive enough; we mustn’t add our own offensiveness to it.)

2. Don’t make charges for which you could be likewise charged

Zoe tells us that the presence of the pro-life group that visited her campus resulted in “complete and utter disrespect.”

It sounds as if Zoe thinks it wrong to be disrespectful. If she truly believes that people ought to be treated with respect, why does she name call? Is that respectful? Likewise, is it respectful to misrepresent your opponent's views?

Remember: Double standards hurt your creditability, and leave you open to the charge of hypocrisy. If your opponent catches you in a double standard, be gracious and honest, admit your fault, thank him for pointing it out, and amend your argument (or ditch it if it’s a bad one).

Stay Tuned!

In my next post on this topic, will finish up with the following:

3. Back up your claims with evidence and sound reasoning

4. Be consistent and consider the implications of your view

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