How To Sniff Out Bad Arguments – Part 1
by Josh Fults
Recently, I went shopping with my wife. She had a few things to do and we were in somewhat of a hurry. We decided to divide and conquer. She sent me on quest to buy a candle for a friend of hers in order to save some time. That sounds like a bad idea doesn’t it? Apparently, she trusted my judgment in picking out a fragrance for her friend. I made my way into the alien world of Bath and Body Works. How many different scents can there be? As I started conducting my sniff test, I noticed something quickly. Some of the candles smelled wonderful (Summertime S’mores or Watermelon Lemonade anyone?) and other ones just plain stunk. Some of them made me feel a little nauseous even.
It is this sense that arguments are like candles, some of them stink and some of them don’t. When I say arguments, I don’t mean the form of two people bickering. I am referring to giving a defense for a belief or making a case for an idea. It is the Christian’s job to spot bad ideas and false arguments. We are to expose false ideas for what they are. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV)
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Bad arguments occur both within and outside of Christianity. At times, Christians construct ideas based off of their own desires or misinterpret scripture. This is how heretical doctrines are birthed or cults take root. There are also a multitude of bad ideas outside of Christianity that do not conform to reality.
As believers we need to be able to spot bad arguments, both our own and those of others. Sometimes people don’t intend to set forth bad arguments and a dialogue about them can change their view. Other times people fear the outcome of changing their view and they argue their point while they remain uncertain about it’s correctness. Then there are some that intentionally try to smuggle in bad arguments so they can be right. With that being said, lets sniff out some of the of the various ways that people argue poorly. These are often referred to as logical fallacies…
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