Debates are inherently confrontational, right? The entire point is to make your opponent look like an idiot by puffing yourself up, isn’t it? Debates certainly do serve a different purpose than run-of-the-mill conversations, but even within a debate setting it is certainly possible to engage in a reasoned and compelling defence of one’s own perspective without denigrating one’s opponent. This was recently exemplified by Dr. Craig.
I should offer a quick disclaimer. I have not watched this debate (I had other plans that evening) so I am trusting the following report. The source is reliable, though, and what he says is consistent with what I have seen of Craig in the past so I have every reason to believe that what follows is spot on. However, even if he is dead wrong in his assessment (that’s unlikely) we should strive to exemplify what he describes.
This is my second attempt at an “art of reason” article. The hope is to help people think through the truth claims they are presented with. We get hundreds of them a day so this is an important skill to develop. I hope this is helpful; let me know.
My wife and I enjoyed a nice getaway at a cabin in the woods. Around the property it is not uncommon to see wild animals, including wild horses. We didn’t see any while we were there, but I did notice that the home owners had put a pile of postcards on the kitchen counter. The postcards were meant to raise awareness about a government policy with respect to rounding up and domesticating wild horses every year. The postcard is designed to be sent to government officials as a message that the signator would like to see changes to the legislation in this respect.
The message on the postcard is intended to persuade us to let the wild horses remain wild. See if you can spot all the logical problems with the message of the postcard. Here it is,
The dialogue recorded at this link is a fabulous example of doing many things right in a conversation with somebody you disagree with. Peter Kreeft was taking a class that was being taught by a homosexual activist. Kreeft hoped to chat with his professor (whom he calls “Art”) about his views, striving to open and clarify their respective views on the subject. Kreeft is right to observe that rarely happens when discussing homosexuality.
But I dare say it did happen in this case. Even Kreeft comments that he was not disappointed. Continue reading
I’ve been wrestling a lot, lately, with the proper relationship between reason and emotion. Part of the motivation for this conflict in my own mind is because I know people who gravitate to one or the other of these, and they often look down upon whichever of the two they do not gravitate toward. But I find myself drawn to aspects of both, and repulsed by the overemphasis of either. I see value in emotions, even though I see how they can be unreliable and lead to wildly inaccurate beliefs about reality (and completely pointless or harmful actions that are based on those beliefs). Conversely, I obviously hold reason in high regard (as you will know if you’ve read Arguing with Friends or poked around my site for a bit), yet I can see how rationalism can seem cold and heartless, and that some of the most horrific atrocities in human history have had surprisingly coherent reasons behind them.
I see merit in both and I see drawbacks in both. How am I to understand their relationship?
I enjoyed listening to the opening part of Greg Koukl’s show Stand to Reason some time ago. You can find it by scrolling down to November 18, at this link. Very briefly, Koukl had a fascinating chat with a waiter, but the conversation simply didn’t go anywhere! They talked about all kinds of interrelated stuff that was all connected to the big questions of life, but they didn’t get anywhere in their conversation. The waiter’s thoughts and reflections were widely scattered and generally incoherent. Understandably Koukl found this rather perplexing and a little frustrating.
How is it possible to talk for that long with a single person, about so many subjects, and simply not make any real progress in the conversation? Quite simple, actually. Continue reading
This month the CAA has featured a series of articles on community apologetics. I throw my hat into the ring with this little piece describing the history of a community apologetics group I am involved in.
Back in 2009 the original “Atheist bus ads” came to Calgary, Canada. They were placed throughout much of Europe and North America. You may remember them, “There probably is no God…” etc, etc.
The inability to understand what makes a good argument, and the inability to critique arguments is one of the key ingredients in miscommunication and the tendency to become argumentative. As described previously, good arguments help keep the tempers down. In order to develop a sense for logical glitches it helps to examine bad arguments to see where they go wrong. This is something else I would like to explore through my blog. The first “Art of Reason” example comes from a Christian website so I cannot be accused of deliberately making non-Christians look bad.
By the way, I intend to mix up my Tuesday posts a bit. I’ve been focusing on debriefing conversations so we can all learn from them, but I’ll start diversifying the content a little bit. “Art of Reason” will be one of the themes I use to diversify.
Here’s an interesting little snippet of an interview between Piers Morgan and Rick Warren on the Bible’s teachings about homosexuality and whether it should be “amended” (not clear what that means). I found a couple of things interesting. Morgan is right to observe that these conversations need to be respectful and that they have a habit of turning poisonous. He would seem to be the kind of guy with whom you would want to discuss issues of this sort. But notice the comment in the second-to-last paragraph. The author of the blog entry that summarizes this exchange (Paul Mirengoff) points out that Morgan’s previous comments in another context are not respectful. Note also that Mirengoff ends the blog entry with a cutting remark against Morgan. Irony of ironies.
Here are a few observations that we can all take away from this little exchange: Continue reading
I already blogged about part 1 of the interview between two Christians and a Mormon on the Unbelievable radio program. I had some thoughts about the second half of the interview. In my view part 2 went downhill from part 1. They continued to treat each other with great respect but Dayton (the Mormon) started sidestepping major issues, avoiding giving straight answers and so on. Even though everybody was still cordial and respectful Dayton started sounding for all the world like a politician avoiding an issue instead of somebody defining and defending their views with clarity and confidence.
But first some general observations. Continue reading
I recently enjoyed part 1 of a two part radio interview hosted by Justin Brierley over at the Unbelievable podcast. Brierley contributed the least to the dialogue and mostly facilitated the conversation between his two guests, Bobby Gilpin of the UK Partnership for Christ and Charles Dayton, a lifelong Mormon.
I enjoyed it for several reasons, all of which highlight many of the points I make in Arguing with Friends.