Four Self-Refuting Statements Heard on College Campuses Across America
by J. Warner Wallace
If I began this post by asserting, “I can’t write a word of English,” you’d probably recognize the contradiction. My sentence betrays its own claim, doesn’t it? Such is the nature of self-refuting statements. Wikipedia describes such utterances as “statements whose falsehood is a logical consequence of the act or situation of holding them to be true.” You might be surprised how often people are prone to saying something that is self-refuting, but there are number of common statements we hear (or use) every day that fall into this category:
“Don’t bother me, I am asleep right now”
“I’m not going to respond to that”
“I can’t talk to you right now”
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There are times when our words collapse under their own weight. Aaron, my good friend at PleaseConvinceMe.com recently posted a more exhaustive list of some of these statements as they appear in philosophical or academic circles. As I train university aged Christians around the country and listen carefully to their common college experiences, I’ve started to collect some of the more popular self-refuting statements uttered by college professors. Here are the top four:
“There is no objective truth” / “Objective truth does not exist”
Perhaps the most obviously self-refuting, this claim (or something similar to it) is still uttered in many university settings according to the students I train. Like all self-refuting claims, it can be cross-checked by simply turning the statement on itself. By asking, “Is that statement objectively true?” we can quickly see that the person making the claim believes in at least one objective truth: that there is no objective truth. See the problem?
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