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Friday, February 5, 2010

Weekly Trivia: Bad Argument Series # 4

I'm continuing my weekly trivia series on argument fallacies today with one that I think we've all heard before (especially parents), and probably used a few times, and not just as children.  Just as I've said at the start of the other posts, it is important for Christians to know how to recognize these types of arguments so that we can avoid falling for them, and so that we can keep ourselves from expecting others to fall for them.  If the truth we hold is real, we don't need to trick people into believing it.

So, the false argument of the day is...

Tu Quoque (You, Also)

Latin for "You, also," this argument seeks to discredit someone's line of reasoning by judging how well that person is living up to his or her own argument.  In other words, it illogically argues that even if an opponent can offer good reasons why something is bad or should not be done, if that person is personally guilty of the offense in question, his points are not valid.

Example: (Heard this in the pulpit once, no joke.) "This man called me in and asked me to pray for him. He was a drinking man, and he'd really messed up his life, and now he was in the hospital with liver failure.  His wife had left him because he'd beaten her so many times when he was drunk. He asked me what he should do, since he was dying, but I felt like I couldn't talk to him about the drinking.  I couldn't tell him he needed to give up the bottle and get right, because I used to have a big problem with that before I found Jesus."

The validity of an argument is not tainted by personal guilt--if anything, it is further proven by it.  If something is right, it is always right, even if it paints the debater in an unpopular light.  I have personally preached often about how sin is bad, even though I have committed many sins.  That in itself doesn't erase the truth or remove the timeliness of anything I have said.

This argument bases the standard of truth on a shifting human example, rather than God's absolute standards--and that can be easily identified as moral relativism, or situational morality, which I have spoken on many times before. (If you need definitions on those terms, click the tags below).