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ESSAY - Specific Disagreement

For me, the process of acquiring worldly knowledge has involved a great deal of what I call "specific disagreement". Instead of flipping to the back of the book and seeing how Scriptural the conclusions are, one must actually read the book, examining each point.

With some, you will end up disagreeing with every point from initial premise to final conclusion. However, others will be found to have only a few points of disagreement, which will often still lead to a vast divergence of conclusion. Future Shock was such a book for me. I was in strong agreement with his observations, but found myself in almost total disagreement with the recommendations he drew from those observations.

It is of the greatest importance to be able to say, "I disagree with this point for these reasons," rather than merely grunting, "Me no like this book." The U.S. was founded from a conflict between ideas. Responses like the latter are viewed as evidence of a narrow mind that decides issues based on emotion rather than merit. Part of this outlook comes from the 'scientific' belief that the 'best' idea will become apparent if all ideas are subjected to scrutiny.

There are many problems with this show me how it is better mindset, but the reality is that anything seen as knee-jerk reactionism will be held in contempt. The root of this contempt is the belief that the reactionary is afraid of being proven wrong because in their heart they do not really believe they are right. This is especially important for Christians, given the narrow stereotypes we are assigned.

Let us examine a highly charged issue.  Not to get embroiled in the conflict on either side, but let us look at the abortion debate for a moment. Both sides have examined the other's conclusions, and exploded in rage that anyone could believe such rubbish. The whole process seems aground on an immature war of name-calling. How could specific disagreement play a role in communication? Let us take the question of whether a fetus is a human being.

1. A fetus is a living thing. It meets the criteria at least as well as does an oak tree.

2. Living things are of a species. Trees are not dogs, etc. etc. So the question here is of what species is a fetus? Clearly it is homo sapiens.

It is a dreadfully obvious scientific assertion that a fetus is a living Homo Sapiens. If there is serious disagreement on this point, I for one would be quite interested in seeing someone demonstrate why points one or two above are even debatable, let alone incorrect.

3. Is a fetus human? If 'human' means a living homo sapiens, yes. If not, then something more must be required for a living homo sapiens to become a human being. What? The side that requires something more has the burden of proof on defining these additional requirements.

This is how a reasonable debate is conducted. Defend from the premise up, not the conclusion down. It is easily seen the above points do not in themselves constitute a conclusion for or against abortion, especially since the 'humanity' of a fetus is hardly the only factor involved in the debate. Rather, it is a method whereby reasonable people can clearly define the specific points, upon which they may disagree. As an example, if two cannot agree upon the definition of a living thing, or on what comprises the species Homo Sapiens, what is the point of even talking about a higher level abstraction like human?

Another example is Nietzsche, who said, "God is dead". On the surface this is clearly heresy. And just as clearly, was intended to be heresy. But since the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, we must make allowance for this noted thinker being without wisdom.

Specific agreement must ask, "What God are you talking about?" Nietzsche makes it clear that the manmade God of human tradition is his subject. Now the disagreement is clear. In his foolishness, Nietzsche made the assumption that this manmade God was the only God. If we look at what he said about this manmade God, and ignore his overextension of believing this pathetic deity to be the God of Abraham, then it is apparent his condemnations are accurate. The manmade God was indeed putrefied.

Seen clearly, the killing of this god was an act of historic inevitability in the process of polarization which culminates in the Great White Throne Judgment. With this false god removed, accepting or rejecting the True God becomes an act unclouded by the presence of this surrogate. You must now choose to accept God as He is, or choose to reject Him. The tradition- contradictions can no longer draw fire toward the Alpha and Omega Whose existence is testified to by the very stars in the sky.

Using the tool of specific disagreement, no Christian should be afraid of an idea. Rather, learning to see the holes in human thought improves our ability to communicate with those tied to such ideas.

Look at the process whereby God established communication with Israel at Sinai before giving them the Ten Commandments.  He communicated with them through Moses several times to prepare them to receive.

 


"Thus the two processes, outlining and interpretation, meet at the level of propositions and arguments. You work down to propositions and arguments by dividing the book into its parts. You work up to arguments by seeing how they are composed of propositions and ultimately of terms. When you have completed the two processes, you can really say that you know the contents of a book."
Mortimer J. Adler

 
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