Tactics Chapter 10: Taking the Roof Off
guest blog by David Stoecker*
Not all points of view commit suicide such as the ones we have looked at in the past couple of chapters. Some of them work against themselves by leading to absurd conclusions if they are broken down. These will not work against themselves as those that commit suicide will, but if we use just a little bit of our brain power we can relate how these points too just do not pass the muster test.
To do this you first must take the other person’s point of view. Reduce it to it’s most basic assertion. Then you try the idea out and determine if you were to use that view to guide you, where would it take you. Mentally take their view for a test drive. Finally, if it takes you to a place that seems a bit unusual, you point that out to whoever is using that viewpoint.
This method is called Taking the Roof Off by Mr. Koukl. Another way this is know by is reductio ad absurdum. This is a phrase in Latin that means reducing a point to its furthest conclusion. If when doing this you see that the outcome is incoherent or absurd, then you help the person who has that point of view see the faulty logic it ends in.
Take moral relativism, for example. Most who believe in moral relativism don’t mind practicing it as long as it is not practiced on them. To believe that cruelty and non cruelty are equal in Hinduism would mean that there is no difference between evil and good, ultimately. How is someone helping your wife broke down on the side of the road the same as someone killing her intentionally? Obviously, that is an extreme example, but those tend to work best to make the point.
Someone who "denies God is living on borrowed capital. He enjoys living as if the world is filled with morality, meaning, order and beauty, yet he denies that God whose existence make such things possible."
There are several different examples given in the book of ideas that are ripe for having their roof taken off. He hits on two very hot topics here, one of them being homosexuality and the other being abortion. These are two very hard topics for many to broach, and he does it well in the book by looking at the arguments given today for these two topics.
In homosexuality it is currently popular to say, "I was born this way." That is all that many feel is needed in order to stem the moral criticisms for homosexuality. The basic argument is that since homosexuality is natural it must be moral. What if scientists some day found a racism gene. Would these same people who reason that homosexuality is natural so it must be moral feel the same way about gay bashers if that too proved to be a naturally occurring gene. Instead, they would probably argue that they should fight the influence of that gene.
Just because an impulse is natural does not mean it’s moral. Substance abuse has been found to be genetic. There are many of us who are hardwired to be addicts and alcoholics. That does not give me the right to inject methamphetamine and drive drunk for the rest of my life. I know that it is morally wrong and due to that I have been clean and sober for over 3 years (by the Grace of God!).
Next Greg talked about "Trotting out the Toddler." He said that almost every argument that supports abortion could be used to justify the killing of children that are newly born as well, if taken to their conclusion. How can a 7 inch journey magically transform tissue into a living human being? If someone says that "women have the right to choose" ask if, for the same reason given, she should have the same right to kill her 1 year old? Both are human beings, so the same rule should morally apply to them.
If you should kill a fetus to save it from future abuse or neglect, should you not also kill a two year old to save them from the same thing? After all, that is the logical implication that abortion has. Modified pro-choice is even worse.This is when someone says "I think that it is wrong for me to kill my baby. I would never do that, but it is okay for other women to do what they want." All you have to do is so, "So in effect, you feel that it is okay for women to kill babies?" Just like that, the roof is off, although it can be taken even further using the toddler line of deroofing their argument.
Greg also has many other great examples of how to take the roof off of the arguments of many more arguments in this chapter. If you want to read those, I would highly recommend that you buy the book. I know for me it has been an interesting and informing read so far. I look forward to reading chapter 11 and writing about it. Til then, have a blessed week!
*Written for TPE by David Stoecker of Spiritual Spackle.
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