False Options

In so many conversations I’ve had or heard, there is an interesting and common thing that I hear over and over again. Typically, this is when the “conversation” is more of a debate of some sort. Whether about theology, politics or whatever something strange often happens.

As an example, the other day I was talking with a co-worker about a particular political issue. I won’t mention the fact that it was about the health care reform plan, so let’s just pretend it was some ambiguous, unidentified issue. It might be easier that way.

What I thought was interesting was that when I pointed out that I didn’t not agree with the proposals that I had heard thusfar, the assumption he made was that I felt that the health care system was fine the way it is and doesn’t need reform. I couldn’t help but pause and wonder…how did he reach that conclusion?

I’ve seen this type of thing in theological discussions as well. Once, a while ago, in a discussion about objective moral values, I stated a premise that the existence of God is necessary in order to have objective moral values. You can read more about my argument here. It’s based mainly on some teachings from Dr. William Lane Craig.

How this ties into this post is the fact that the most common response that I hear to this is “are you saying you need to believe in God in order to have good morals?” Never, in any part of any of the premises did I ever say that. There was nothing about belief of any kind, nor was there anything about the idea that disbelief would imply that someone could not be a “good person.” Yet, this concern is brought up quite often.

In the same way, in a more general sense, I hear arguments all the time where people defend their skepticism by saying, “So, atheists can’t be good people?” or some such thing. I’m not sure where they get this idea that, as a Christian, I believe that they cannot be “good” just because they’re not Christian. The one thought just does not flow logically from the other.

On the other hand, as Christians, we can’t actually act as though these things were true. As I have written in another post, you can’t give people ammunition and then get upset at them for using it.

What sorts of other things have you heard in discussions or whatever where if you disagree with a particular point, they assume you believe something completely different and often completely absurd?

Grace, love and peace.

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