Thursday, May 09, 2013

“No One Is Saying That”

When making an argument, sometimes the response comes that “No one is saying that.” That is often (usually) used as an argument against the argument. It is used to shut down argument. It is used to assert a straw man: “You have created an imaginary opponent since no one believes what you are arguing against.”

This may be true, but it is not always true.

One of the tactics of argumentation is to show how someone has not followed their argument to its conclusion. The fact that “no one believes that” may be simply because they have not actually embraced their argument. Thus arguing against a “straw man” is actually a tool that shows the fallacy of the actual “man.”

This is often an apologetic tool. By leading people along the road of their belief and helping them to take the next step, it shows them that they can’t really live by their belief.

It is an exegetical and theological tool as well. By leading people along the road of their theology and showing how the next step is untenable, it helps to call into question the theological road.

So when someone says, “No one argues that,” think carefully about it. But realize that it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker because it is entirely possible that someone should be arguing “that.” They just haven’t gotten there yet.

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