Too often today the facts spoken or written about any subject or issue are inaccurate. This may happen because of ignorance. It may be done on purpose. Those who distort facts knowingly lack integrity. It is very important that we get the facts of a case as straight as we can. This requirement includes doing the research that is necessary and not allowing our feelings to get in the way of what is true.
Some politicians, maybe all, are notorious for lying in order to accomplish their intentions and win an argument, their primary and maybe only goal. If one stands on the treacherous ground of distortion and inaccuracy, it could be that he or she will eventually not be able to separate fact from fantasy. that person has entered a world of delusion and illusion. What could be worse for an argument than the revelation to hearers that it contains a multitude of lies.
Christians must be honest, truthful, valuing integrity above a hollow victory. There is no such thing as “holy lying” that has the higher goal of convincing another of the truth of religious claims with lies in the argument. Christian faith does not need lies to bolster its truth.
We hang our defense on a set of truths. Now these truths go beyond logic or input from sense experience, though in an argument they must never be contravened. If an individual’s argument requires that we accept the assertion that the sky is green, we must point to the sky and assert that it is blue. Truth also comes to us in poetical, theological and ethical terms. We must not submit to the logical positivist who is certain that all that is certain is logic and observation of the outside world including scientific experiment.
In the history of phhilosophy, even sense experience has been challenged for content of truth. We must not take the position of extreme scepticism. If we do, poetry, theology, ethics and many other things of value would be lost to our lives, a terrrible impoverishment. If there are no truths extending from observation of the world to theological discourse, we live in a completely uncertain and chaotic reality. In such a world, we would have a difficult time communicating that requires some common understandings about the environment in which we live.. Scepticism is no logic for living.
When we are in dialogue with others, several important rules apply. Among them are:
- Know what you are talking about. If you don’t, find out so that you know what you are talking about.
- Be careful in making inferences from the facts. Don’t make the facts of a case bear more weight than they are capable of.
- Avoid logical mistakes, like the infamous non sequitur and red herring.
- Be aware of your assumptions and pre-conceptions.
- Defend the idea that theology and ethics are not meaningless, but bear the most important truths, and give solid reasons for your position. Logic and sense experience are not the only sources of knowledge, but they do contribute to theological science and the other forms of knowledge.
- Do not allow another to define an argument. Both parties should contribute to the definition of an argument and mutually agree to it.
- Under all circumstances be civil, gentle, and respectful.
Michael G. Tavella
January 25, 2020
The Conversion of Saint Paul