Logically Questioning Strange Ideas and Controversial Theories
by Kenneth Samples
As a Christian scholar and logic instructor, I often get asked about my thoughts on strange phenomena, controversial theories, and alternative conspiratorial explanations. Through the years I’ve frequently been asked about such unusual things as UFOs, the apparitions of Mary, near-death experiences, and a host of conspiracy theories such as those relating to the JFK assassination, denial of the Holocaust, the so-called moon-landing hoax, secret societies, and various speculative end-of-the-world scenarios.
Not all of these topics are on the same level when it comes to their rational or non-rational basis and their evidentiary or non-evidentiary support level, but they are all unusual and highly controversial issues. Thus, before accepting any strange and/or controversial idea these topics need to be thought through carefully—lest we affirm belief in something that is false, misleading, or possibly even harmful. Of course from a Christian perspective a believer in Christ should also ask if certain issues and beliefs are biblical and compatible with the Christian worldview.1
However, in this article I want to offer a basic logical checklist when it comes to thinking broadly about unusual phenomena. This list is intended to include basic questions to ask about the viability of strange ideas and beliefs. These questions will not necessarily resolve whether certain controversial ideas and theories should be affirmed, but will help to identify if some phenomenon or belief is problematic in nature. At minimum these questions will serve as a good place to begin a logical evaluation of challenging topics…
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