We need to talk about something I mentioned on Monday and Wednesday. I keep coming back to this idea that I am going to try to persuade you. Yes, I value and appreciate disagreement. Yes, I understand that you have complete freedom to disagree with me.
However, I am advocating for certain things because I believe that they are true. I don’t pick up arguments just because I like to debate. I advocate for certain things because I believe they are good and valuable. I believe they are things that are good for other people to know and understand. Therefore, I spend my time trying to communicate those ideas and help people understand something that I believe is true.
I similarly think it is a good thing when people believe things that are true. It is problematic when people believe in falsehoods for a variety of reasons, but I think that you can see the implications of this type of logic.
1. I believe that X is true.
2. You believe that X is not true.
3. It is a good thing to believe things that are true.
4. If X is true, it is a good thing to believe that X is true.
5. I have sufficient evidence to demonstrate that X is true.
6. Therefore, it is a good thing to believe that X is true.
Many of you pure logicians out there are going to tear this apart since it is far from a formal proof. However, this is how I kind of visualize my reason for persuasion.
I don’t like to be wrong. If I believe something is true, I like to have sufficient evidence for believing it is true. Otherwise, I would not believe it. I know I’m not always perfectly justified in every belief that I hold, but I do try to base my beliefs on actual evidence.
Therefore, I certainly have an understanding that something is true in the above scenario. I believe it is good for you to believe that true belief is true. I think that is rather uncontroversial. If the sky is actually blue, I think it is a good thing for you to believe the sky is blue.
However, we already established that you do not believe this true fact. I believe it is better for you to understand this true fact though, so now I have a decision to make.
I don’t know how you all feel about my posts this week. They might seem contradictory. I began the week by talking about how much I appreciate disagreement, and I then moved ahead to talk about how I do not believe in relativistic truth before finally slamming home the point that I am going to actively try to persuade you out of your position that brought about our original disagreement.
You might say that if I appreciate disagreement so much, I wouldn’t bother trying to modify your position. After all, if I appreciate disagreement, my act of attempting to persuade you would eliminate that potential disagreement. I am taking away all of the alleged benefits that I claimed disagreement brings.
Nothing could be further from the truth though. There really is no contradiction here. Rather, I am going to appreciate where you are at. After all, everyone who either agrees, disagrees or really has no preference in either direction still possesses the innate dignity of humanity. As a Christian, I believe in loving my neighbor. There is not condition of agreement built into that commitment. However, if it is a good thing for you to believe the truth, and if I truly love my neighbor and want what is best for my neighbor, then naturally I am going to try to be persuasive. It doesn’t make me love my neighbor any more than I already did, but if I help my neighbor find truth they didn’t have before, I am making his or her life better. That is why I will try to persuade.