A whip for a horse, a halter for a donkey, and a rod for the backs of fools! Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. (Proverbs 26:3-4 NIV)
If you’re asking “Where’s Part 1?” my answer is I do not know. It vanished, at least for now. But, as promised, we will proceed with Part 2 of “Contrived Arguments” in hopes that Part 1 can be found. First, what are “Contrived Arguments”? My definition is this: A contrived argument is a charge or accusation created from whole cloth or made up out of someone’s imagination. The purpose is to promote a larger, hidden agenda. For contrived arguments to work, they need a promoter and willing dupes who are inclined to believe their narrative.
We could offer scores of examples, but let’s pick one. One of the leading early members of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), Dr. Bernard Nathanson, was a powerful advocate for a woman’s right to a safe, legal abortion. His conversion to Pro-Life is detailed in his book “The Silent Scream”. Dr. Nathanson reported how, from the inside, he participated in the contrived argument that “68,000 women die annually from complications of ‘backyard’ abortions. Therefore, to save lives, women need safe, therapeutic abortion.” Willing accomplices at the World Health Organization (WHO) and The Guttmacher Institute published graphs and statements to back up the NARAL story. Sympathetic media ran with it and the rest is history.
To explain how contrived arguments work, I want to repeat something written in a recent post. “The one who forms the argument, in all probability, will win the argument.” It is easy to figure out why. For one thing, it is impossible to disprove a negative, such as an accusation (ex. “How many times have you hit your wife?”) Challenging the fabricator will fail to convince anyone who is sympathetic to their cause. Also, the one who contrives the argument has the advantage of considering potential counter-attacks and preparing for them beforehand.
Let’s say I claim: “The Russians stole the 2016 presidential election.” Here’s another: “Fossil fuels are destroying the planet.” What about this one: “Modern Bible translations have corrupted God’s Word. The only reliable version is the inspired and infallible Authorized King James.” Try to rationally dispute these statements with an ideologue and it will probably result in frustration.
Here’s a popular contrived argument. “The Church will be taken up in the rapture before the Tribulation. Anyone who disagrees does not believe the Bible.” (The roots of this contrived story are in Lifesaver: Saving God’s People from the PTR Ship.) When the preacher pounds on the pulpit, becomes red in the face, holds his Bible in the air and yells the above, it tends to discourage honest debate. That’s the purpose. Unanswered propositions embolden the accuser so they feel wise in their own eyes.
Be aware of false narratives that have made their way into our culture—even the culture of the Church. Challenge them with Scripture, facts and rationality. You may not save everyone from believing contrived arguments, but you can at least save yourself from yielding to the lie. It is more important to stand for truth than it is to win the argument.