What to Do With Someone Who Does Not Care About the Rules of Logic
Christianity is a rational faith system, based on evidence of certain historical events which give credence to a particular worldview. But not everyone is ready to use reason and the rules of logic in arriving at conclusions. In many such cases, it is emotion – not reason – that is setting preconditions on what decisions the skeptic is willing to reach.
Some people reject Christianity, for example, because they have never personally experienced a miracle or because they think certain Christian leaders are bad people. These positions find their roots in emotion, not reason, and may stem from many things: early childhood experiences or trauma; a desire to live a life that is unconstrained by restrictions placed from outside; a rebellious nature that simply takes pleasure in bucking the established order. Given human nature, it is exceedingly difficult to use rational arguments to change the mind of someone who is letting emotion cloud their thinking.
Prosecutors preparing to make a case must assess not just the rational aspects of why guilt has been proven, but the emotional aspects that can sway a jury into thinking that a vote of not guilty is the “right thing” to do despite the evidence of guilt. An experienced prosecutor will not willingly take on the challenge of persuading an emotionally-driven skeptic; that’s why jury selection is so critical to success. Weeding out jurors who refuse to be bound by reason, and the rules of logic, is essential if a rational verdict is the goal. Christian apologists don’t have that luxury. If they seek to “make the case” for Christianity – often times with family or close friends – they must consider both the rational and the emotional aspects of their presentation.
A proper sense of humility requires an acknowledgement that often times nothing will work. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to breaking through such defenses. But, generally speaking, the head-on approach will not work. A more subtle and perhaps longer term strategy is necessary.
Consider for example the Biblical story of David and Bathsheba. David’s craven behavior in sending Bathsheba’s husband to his death was not something he would have willingly discussed. The prophet Nathan would not have “reasoned” David into seeing his guilt – and his need for repentance. Yet Nathan slips past any emotional defenses by disguising his point. In this way, David is able to see through his denial to the underlying moral issue that was at play. However much David would have rejected the straight-on argument as to his guilt, he could not help but see Nathan’s point when presented in this nuanced way.
Head-on arguments tend to embed people in their original position. But getting them to see their approach from a different perspective can help to dislodge them…
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