Friday, December 5, 2008


If two people disagree over an issue, as I see it, they both can't be right. They both most certainly can be wrong, but not simultaneously right. I know arguments can be made that both parties can be partially right and I would agree, but when it comes to issues of truth, only one can be right.

Suppose two historians got into an argument over the sinking of the titanic. One historian states that the Titanic sunk after colliding with a massive iceberg, the other states that the titanic actually was sucked into a arctic whirlpool. Only one can be right. Either the titanic hit an iceberg, or was sucked into a whirlpool. Yes, someone could come along and say that both happened--the Titanic hit an iceberg and then was sucked into a whirlpool. But now we have three competing truth claims (assuming that the first and second historians assert ONLY one incident caused the tragedy).

It seems to me that our culture, while gradually rejecting the logic of absolute truths, is moving towards a misinterpreted explanation of the term 'tolerance.' One can no longer assert that they are right as interlocutors involved in a dialogue with opposite opinions are wrong without being deemed intolerant, haughty, puffed-up, narrow minded, or any other ridiculous and ignorant assumptions.

The truth is, ANYONE who holds an opinion against others, thinks they are right and the other is wrong. This person may or may not be a prideful or arrogant person, but asserting that they believe there opinions are the correct opinion cannot be a matrix for judging their intent and/or character.

If I were to state, "God is real," and you conversely state, "God is not real," and then, after hours of good natured debate, we both decide our opinion has not changed, it would be erroneous for me to say, "Ha, you refuse to refuse to change your mind. You are so sure that you are right. Your pride has gotten the best of you," I would be wrong, and ignorant, for the person with whom I had been in conversation with could say the very same thing about me. One can, and must, for the sake of peaceful and progressive discussion, approach any subject and say, "I believe you are wrong and I am right." This is not an admission of run-away-pride, rather it is an impressive display of honesty. Perhaps accusations of arrogance are permissible if, in the example of the Titanic historians, the firs historian stated, "I believe the Titanic hit an iceberg, and that is that...I refuse to listen to any of your arguments."

More and more indivuals and instituions are resorting to ad hominen attacks. Instead of attacking the argument and its logical backbone, they are attacking the character and/or intelligence of the person putting forth his/her opinion. I have no patience for this. If fact, I see it as ignorant. I am not assuming that someone who resorts to such an attack has a low IQ, they are just too uninformed to participate in the particular discussion and thus have to attack the character of the one presenting the argument for purposes of distraction. Thus, it can be reasoned that ad hominen attacks are an admission of wounded pride.

All that to say, I'll try to be honest around here. If I disagree with you, whether in your comments or postings on your own blog, I am doing so because I think I am right and you are wrong (conversely you think you are right and I am wrong), but I do and have listened carefully to your opinion, otherwise, how could I disagree?