Debate without implicit insult?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by 12strings, May 22, 2012.

  1. 12strings

    12strings
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    Can any debate exist without at least implicit insult to those who hold the opposing view?

    My answer: No, but that means we should be all the more careful to insult each other with civility and graciousness.


    REASONING:

    It was recently pointed out that those on one side of a debate (Cals) often say that the opposing side (non-cals) do not understand election, or don't grasp some other vital biblical truth, necessarily implying that their understanding is therefore deficient. THAT'S AN INSULT RIGHT THERE!

    Conversely, Armininas will say that the cals are the ones who don't understand election, or grasp some basic bibilical truth, and therefore necessarily imply that the cals understanding is deficient. (ANOTHER IMPLICIT INSULT).

    My point is that if you say that someone missunderstands a point of debate, you are implicitly making a statement about either their up-bringing, their intellegence, their willingness to see the truth, or their ability to see the truth.

    I would argue that such implicite insults are unavoidable in debate, and should not be taken as personal attacks (even though technically, they might be).

    I would additionally argue that because implicit assumptions about the deficient understanding of the opponent are part of the debate process, we should be extra careful not to exacerbate the problem by adding attacks on character or intent.
    SOME EXAMPLES:

    -A gracious debater will say "I believe you do not understand election." rather than, "You are twisting scriptures!" (The first could be taken as an insult by some thin-skinned debater, but the second HAS to be taken as a personal attack on the INTENT of the opponent...we should give one another every benefit of the doubt when it comes to what we believe to the motive of our debate opponents.

    So if you're a Calvinists, realize that the arminians are not conspiring together to bring down the soverighnty of God.

    And if you are an arminian, realize that the Calvinists are not trying to set up a new geneve in which we burn to death everyone who disagrees with us.

    (Just sit back, relax, and realize anyone who disagrees with you simply has "deficiencies in understanding")

    :laugh:


    --> I welcome any opposing view as to the nature of debate...Can we debate without ANY implicit insults, or not?
     
  2. convicted1

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    Very good OP. We are here to learn(or at least I am), and in fact, I have learned. We need to be careful in how we word our phrases so that they do not come across personally. I know I have fallen short in this, and for that, I am sorry to those whose feelings I have hurt. We can make our point, without thrusting our "point" through our fellow believers.
     
  3. freeatlast

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    You mean slander in loving kindness? Now that does seem to be the theme of the church today. :(
     
  4. ktn4eg

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    We may have the right to disagree with another person's views, but we do not have the right to be disagreeable while doing so!
     
  5. freeatlast

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    All of these nifty sayings. What exactly does that mean? How about just not doing personal attacks or calling another person names or twisting what they say (lying about them)? How about just debating the issue instead of the person? I was told by one member that what ever I said they would take the opposite view. How is that of the Lord?
     
    #5 freeatlast, May 22, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: May 22, 2012
  6. Skandelon

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    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. -Aristotle

    I do believe it is somewhat insulting to ASSUME the opposing party doesn't 'understand' simply because they disagree. Some make the mistake of assuming that if someone doesn't agree with a point of view that they just don't understand. While that may be true some of the time, it shouldn't be assumed in an accusatory manner IMO.
     
  7. 12strings

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    I say "insult each other" somewhat tongue in cheek; in that if my Premise is correct, it is impossible to state an opposing view without at least implying that the other person mis-understands something. While I beleive such implications are unavoidable, I believe we should be gracious and civil when pointing out what we believe to be the errors the other person is making.

    So no, I do not mean slander in lovingkindness.

    I'm waiting to hear someone's contrary opinion, which will undoubtedy IMPLY that I missunderstand this issue... :)
     
    #7 12strings, May 22, 2012
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  8. 12strings

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    I know such a idea does not sound good when directed in our own direction, but I would ask what is the alternative?

    Do you not, whether spoken or unspoken, assume that calvinists misunderstand election?

    And if so, would you say it is "insulting" or "accusatory" for you to assume that, or that it is simply the nature of disagreement, with no insult?
     
  9. mandym

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    Good grief now we are excusing the attacks on others and now we should just dress them up. Maybe instead of statements like "you do not understand" or "God has not yet given it to you to understand" we can avoid statements like that all together and just disagree with supporting scripture. These caricatures of each other are not necessary.
     
    #9 mandym, May 22, 2012
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  10. preachinjesus

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    Perhaps it would do us all better if we remembered this is just a place to discuss stuff and not much else. Don't take it too seriously. It isn't worth really; there's a giant world out there full of people who need hope...this is an isolated off-world excursion.
     
  11. mandym

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    The alternative is don't do it. It is not necessary.
     
  12. Van

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    I agree with Mandym's post #9. An ad homenim argument, against the character and qualifications on an opponent is gratuitous, as well as defending a position using a logical fallacy.

    Second I disagree with the premise that the Arminians are just as guilty of this unchristian behavior as Calvinists. Mind you I think their biblical views are just as errant as those of the Calvinists, but they go out of their way to be kind and generous and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.

    Lastly we see quite a bit of mind reading where an opponent is told they are motivated by (pick an ungodly attribute).
     
  13. 12strings

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    I'm not excusing any attacks, I'm actually saying we need to be more careful because the very nature of debate is that we are assuming we are right about something, where the other person is wrong. I do agree that using phrases like "God has not yet given you the understanding" are belittling and not helpful to debate.

    What I'm saying is that even in civil debate, there is the implicit idea that I am correcting someone who is misunderstands a certain issue. The very fact that I reply at all means that I believe the other person is misunderstanding or mis-stating something, and I want to correct them.

    I agree we should avoid the unnecessary statements of accusation.

    Do you disagree with the premise that it is impossible to disagree with someone without implying that they misunderstand the issue?
     
  14. 12strings

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    1. I would also agree that attacking someone's character and qualifications is not helpful. (I don't really know what "AD homenim" means...people keep saying it here)...

    2. Perhaps I mis-stated my premise. It really has nothing to do with Calvinism or arminianism, but simply with the idea that anytime anyone posts a disagreement, they are implying that the opposing view misunderstands something.

    3. That said, a statement about whether arminians or calvinists are more or less guilty of "unchristian behavior" does not serve any debate, since such things cannot be proven. There are anecdotal examples of both, but as far as "more or less" There's simply nothing to debate except individual's experiences with other individual Calvinists or arminians. I know many Calvinists and arminians who exhibit the fruit of the spirit and go out of their way to be kind and gracious.

    4. I don't claim any opponent is motivated by (ungodly attribute). I'm saying we should be careful to go out of our way NOT TO ASSUMME SUCH A THING. We should give our opponents in debate the benefit of the doubt.
     
  15. convicted1

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    The way I see it is that we should confront the ideas of those of the opposing view, but not insult, slander, defame, the one with whom we are debating. We need to debate the thread topic, and not attck the poster.
     
  16. Van

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    An ad hominem (Latin for "to the man" or "to the person"), short for argumentum ad hominem, is an attempt to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out a negative characteristic or belief of the person supporting it.[1] Ad hominem reasoning is normally described as a logical fallacy,[2][3][4] more precisely an informal fallacy and an irrelevance.[5]

    Hi 12 strings, the above is a copy and paste from Wikipedia. As you can see, your thread has everything to do with avoidance of ad homenim arguments in our discussions.

    And you are quite right, the use of this argument has nothing to do with Calvinism or Arminianism, or anything true. It has to do with using the tools of the devil to "win" an argument and feed our arrogance and pride. Thus the behavior of "babes in Christ" who are still fleshly, and not the behavior of mature Christians per James.

    I disagree with your premise that it cannot be proved that Calvinists use ad homenim arguments far more than Arminians. All you have to do is pick an Arminian, say Skandelon, and a Calvinist, say Iconoclast, and look at say their last 10 posts. Just count the insults, using your criteria. The result will be night and day.
     
  17. jbh28

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    Yes. like this.


    In my most humble opinion, you are a person that is a few fries short of a happy meal.

    Like that. :D
     
  18. jbh28

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    Great post. Any side of a debate can be guilty of ad hominem arguments. Sometimes is because we don't have a good reason why the other person is wrong so we attack them. Sometimes it's because we don't like the other person. I've been guilty of it before. It shouldn't be done.

    You are right, it would be fruitless and against the purpose of this thread to even attempt to try to see who does it more. It would totally miss the entire point as the only purpose would be to tear down the other side.
     
  19. convicted1

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    Well, your happy meal has no fries with it! So there! How'd you like that? Wanna make sumptin' of it?? WhyIougttayou!! j/k :laugh:
     
  20. humblethinker

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    I like to observe debate. I'm not so interested in personally debating others as I am on understanding belief systems and trying to impart an accurate understanding of a belief. I feel like straw men can be helpful as tools to achieve understanding but if, in the end, a straw man is what we believe then we have lost purpose. I prefer to understand 'why' and 'how' someone comes to a certain conclusion given their set of beliefs.

    I don't mind disagreement so long as we are clear and accurate.

    Lately I've been considering what is the best way to influence people to the truth (at least my way of thinking). It seems to me that the first step would be to get them to consider that they may be wrong.

    Give me good reason to reject what I already believe and then give me good reason to accept what you believe.

    The level and attitude of certainty from some theists and atheists alike is baffling to me. Some people are so certain of their own opinions that there is no more room for faith. I wonder why some people post at all on this board.

    I thoroughly enjoy Charles Sanders Peirce's contribution with his essay on Fixation of Beliefe (below is an excerpt, emphasis mine)
    Some people seem to love to argue a point after all the world is fully convinced of it. But no further advance can be made. When doubt ceases, mental action on the subject comes to an end; and, if it did go on, it would be without a purpose.


    V
    If the settlement of opinion is the sole object of inquiry, and if belief is of the nature of a habit, why should we not attain the desired end, by taking as answer to a question any we may fancy, and constantly reiterating it to ourselves, dwelling on all which may conduce to that belief, and learning to turn with contempt and hatred from anything that might disturb it? ... the instinctive dislike of an undecided state of mind, exaggerated into a vague dread of doubt, makes men cling spasmodically to the views they already take. The man feels that, if he only holds to his belief without wavering, it will be entirely satisfactory... A man may go through life, systematically keeping out of view all that might cause a change in his opinions... He does not propose to himself to be rational, and, indeed, will often talk with scorn of man's weak and illusive reason. So let him think as he pleases.

    But this method of fixing belief, which may be called the method of tenacity, will be unable to hold its ground in practice. The social impulse is against it. The man who adopts it will find that other men think differently from him, and it will be apt to occur to him, in some saner moment, that their opinions are quite as good as his own, and this will shake his confidence in his belief. This conception, that another man's thought or sentiment may be equivalent to one's own, is a distinctly new step, and a highly important one

    Some people rarely experience this conception though... I think largely due to pride. And if they do experience it then they find that changing their own belief is too painful and difficult to ever do it again.
     

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