Philosophy Magazine

RESPONDblogs: Statements That Blow Up

By Stuart_gray @stuartg__uk

blow up

Strange as it may seem, people are often prone to say things that – actually – blow up on closer inspection. Statements that cancel themselves out. They are sometimes called – self refuting statements.

For example –

“I’m not going to respond to that.” Uh – isn’t that exactly what you just did?

“Words don’t matter – let me see your actions.” So I’m using words to confidently prove that words have no value. Hmmm….so my words have no value. Boom!

Do you see what I mean? Strange, isn’t it.

People also do this when discussing the deeper, more important things in life.

“You can’t know anything for sure.”

Interesting – so how do you know THAT for sure?

“You should always be skeptical of everything!”

Really? Should we be skeptical of your statement then?

“You can’t know anything about God.”

Right. In that case – how do you know that God cannot be known?

“No-one has the whole truth.”

So you are claiming to have the whole truth – that no person has the whole truth? But aren’t you a person? Boom!

“I only trust things that I can determine thru Science.”

This is an assumption that people make all the time. You hear it on University campuses, you hear it on television. It’s engrained in our culture. But the question that comes next is this. Can science determine if your statement (about science) is true or not? What scientific experiment led you to this conclusion?” You see the reality is that – no experiment led to this conclusion. The statement is one of philosophy, not science…it presumes itself to be true. Science cannot prove it – and so by the standards of your statement – we cannot trust it. BOOM!

“People who assume they know the truth with certainty are arrogant.”

Interesting. So you are absolutely confident – that no one can be confident and certain of the truth? Boom!

“We must be tolerant. And tolerance is about accepting all views equally.”

Folks who say this – are claiming that all people’s views are equally true. Everyone has their own truth. However – this quickly blows up when you respond to it and make the claim that you think some ideas are false and have less value than others. What causes the explosion? Well – the person will welcome and accept ANY VIEW as long as it’s NOT the view you just presented to them! They will reject your view that some ideas are false. And this shows that they cannot consistently follow their own understanding of tolerance.

As a Christian, sometimes people can challenge me about the absolute truth claims of Jesus. “It’s narrow minded an arrogant to say that Jesus Christ is the only way to God.” But actually this is straying into self refuting territory. Isn’t it just as arrogant to confidently assert that Jesus is NOT the only way to God?

Maybe we need to think about this a different way?

RESPONDblogs: Statements that Blow Up

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