The other day a few of us on staff took a break to discuss an urgent topic:
Who is the best* super hero in the Marvel universe?
Tolerant observers in this roundtable discussion shared their opinion and shrugged off opposing views with indifference. But the longtime, diehard fans clung to their views like Spidey to a wall.
Speaking of the famous web-slinger, a couple of us came into the conversation as committed fans of the Amazing Spider-Man. So when a self-identified “instigator” dared to question Spider-Man’s “bestness,” well, I’m sad to say I resorted to a logical fallacy. Unbridled passion does that. But if Bruce Banner teaches us anything, it’s that restraint keeps us from going into “Hulk smash” mode.
The same goes for verbal tiffs, especially when it comes to apologetics.
It’s all too easy to snap back at someone who denies the “bestness” of the ultimate superhero, God-man. But it ultimately defeats the purpose behind apologetics efforts: for the sake of evangelism.
As my blogging cohort, Maureen, explains, “Christians who respond to questions or challenges with churlish behavior leave a bad taste behind.” She goes on to offer a recipe for apologetics “vinaigrette:”
- Ask questions and focus on listening to their arguments rather than on protecting your own view.
- Offer up a new idea for them to chew on. For example, “According to your perspective, Noah’s Flood is responsible for most of the geological formations and fossil deposits we see today. If this is so, how would you explain the ark’s occupants, and even the planet itself, surviving the intense heat and radiation given off by the amount of geological activity implied in your theory?”
- Knowledge goes a long way in dispelling fear. But don’t stress if you don’t have all the answers. Refer people to reliable websites, books, and articles.
- Flavor your words with a gracious demeanor.
Sometimes clear thinking is obscured by the uncritical acceptance of beliefs and other times by powerful emotional and psychological states. But knowing about these difficult areas can help in one’s important goal to think critically.
For tips on how to think critically, see Kenneth Samples’ 12-part series “Logic 101.” Also check out Kenneth’s blog Reflections. For more on fallacies and how to avoid them, see “12 Fallacies to Avoid in Communication,” “Explosive Debates Putting Out Fires and Dodging Verbal Bullets,” “A Spoonful of Vinegar,” “A Match Made in Heaven,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” “15-yard Penalty,” “Ballroom Lessons,” “The Cotton Candy Paradox.”
*Strengths and weaknesses, relatability and/or likability, backstory, and moral inference were among the determining factors.