Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. (2 Timothy 2:23 NIV)
So it goes in America:
“The Russians were involved in the 2016 Presidential election to help Trump get elected.”
“How? There is no evidence that anyone tampered with voting machines or the vote count. How did they effect the vote?”
“Well look at the conversations between Trump’s associates and Russian officials. It all points to collusion. There needs to be an investigation.”
“What would investigators be looking for? There’s no evidence of wrong-doing.”
“I don’t know but there has to be something there between Trump and Putin. We’ve got to get to the bottom of it. There’s plenty of smoke, and where there’s smoke there’s fire.”
Most in the U.S. are justifiably tired of hearing about the Russians and the election. The argument continues despite its baseless premise. If politicians had to stay within the bounds of logic, we would have civil discussions. But, no, we have legislators who engage in arguments that cause quarrels.
In my opinion, this is due to the legal system’s influence in government. Law students learn the art of argumentation. So, when they become lawyers they can win cases, not based on justice or truth, but on their skill as arguers. Clever sounding arguments often win the day. God help us!
Tragically, the art of argumentation has infected our Christian fellowships. One of the first things we should teach new converts is Logic. If the new Christian knows Logic, then they can detect when a fallacious but clever argument is headed in their direction. After the mental red flag goes up on a few fallacious arguments (“ad hoc ergo prompter hoc,” “the straw man,” “the red herring” and “circular reasoning”), the new convert could excuse themselves—that is unless they want to quarrel or test their ability to argue.
Recently, I became locked into a conversation that, unfortunately, became a quarrel. My head was spinning. My emotions got the best of me. I was frustrated and wanted to walk away. There was an answer for everything I said. It was more like a wall. After more than a half hour, I blurted out “Your argument is foolish,” and then it really turned into a mess. (Thank God I didn’t say “foolish and stupid” like 2 Timothy 2:23.)
I saw no good way out. I was entangled in a circular argument—the very thing the Apostle said to avoid. On the ground, I drew a circle with my finger. I said “This is how our discussion is going.” Of course, they did not see it that way. Had Paul’s warning been fresh in my mind, I would have bowed out as soon as the circular reasoning came into play. Believing I could reason successfully, I had to go around and around and around to find out my effort was useless.
Next time, Part 2, The illogical invades the Christian church.