Another factor we need to consider as we continue trying to think about truth and discerning that which is right and that which is wrong. We want to understand the difference between what we should believe and what we should not believe. We talked on Monday about how important it is to follow the evidence first and foremost. We are Christians because we have evaluated the evidence and come to the conclusion that Christianity makes the most sense. That is the process we should apply to any type of claim we are trying to evaluate.
However, there are some other things that we have to consider beyond just evaluating the evidence. That is of course the first step, but we need to make sure that we also take a step back and evaluate the claim that is being made as well. Some claims are set up so that there is only one possible answer even though they allegedly present a choice.
The classic dilemma is the attorney who speaks to the man on the witness stand and asks, “Have you stopped stealing from other people?” In either situation, the answer is going to be wrong. It is an unfair question. If the man answers no, then it can be implied that he is still stealing from other people. If the man answers yes, then it implies that he formerly did steal from other people which is still a crime. There is no way that the man can answer this question in a way that means that he absolutely did not ever steal from other people.
This example may seem to be overly simplistic, but we have to focus on the claim that we are trying to answer in the first place. There’s no doubt that there are times where the claim we are being presented with is simply unfair, and the evidence really does not mean an awful lot. It is not the evidence is not or of chief importance when we are evaluating these claims, but we need to make sure that we actually have a fair question on the table.
Therefore, if we start from that position, we’re going to never find our way to the truth because there is no truth to be found if we accept the confines of the unfair question.
As Christians and truth seekers in general, perhaps this is even a step that we need to take prior to gathering evidence if we recognize the unfair question right off the bat. However, I think largely the unfair question should become evident as we began to evaluate the evidence and realize that no matter how we answer the question, we end up at the same point.
Many people in the world are going to frame truth in the way that only works out advantageously to themselves. Sometimes that is legitimate because there is one truth. Sometimes that is entirely unfair though, and it depends on the claim that it being made.