Never Underestimate a Person’s Ability to Rationalize

Chuck Missler says never underestimate a person’s ability to rationalize, or justify the unjustifiable, or attempt (poorly) to reconcile contradictory beliefs.

Acceptability may not depend on some standard, but rather the subject of the action. Double standards arrive due to an application of dialectic thought, more commonly known as group-think. If the group thinks it’s bad, it’s bad, and if good, it’s good, failing to consider absolute standards of morality.

In other words, even among those calling themselves “Christians”, critical thinking skills and logic frequently lack, instead following the herd.

A “Christian” Example

Here’s an example from a site claiming to be Christian, as an author laments about the lack of civility in politics. He wondered why those who complain about attacks on President Obama failed to defend President Bush when he was the victim of savage personal attacks.

Here’s where the rationalization comes in as a person commented on the article:

We’re talking apples and oranges here. Many, perhaps most, of the people who hate Obama also hated Bill Clinton because, and only because, they were relatively liberal Democrats who were elected president.

Bush, OTOH, became president in the first place because of what some might call a dubious Supreme Court decision, pursued insane economic policies and engaged us in two wars … http://blog.sojo.net/2010/12/29/the-inconsistency-for-the-call-to-civility/#comment-120760745

To summarize the argument: when it happens to my guy, it’s bad, but it’s okay if those things happen to someone I don’t like — it’s not the action itself, but who it’s applied to determining right or wrong.

Notice the rationalization — one guy had unfavored policies, therefore attacks against him were acceptable, while another guy had favored policies, thus attacks were mean and undeserved. Also notice the justification is based on opinion, not facts.

Classic value-relativism, as worldly philosophy becomes accepted by people in the church.

Situational Ethics

That attitude leads to situational ethics, where determining right and wrong depends on the situation. Murder is bad, but it’s worse if it’s this group being murdered, or less bad (or even good) when it’s this group being murdered.

In this case, the commenter actually attempts to defend the indefensible (and logically absurd) — personal attacks on some politicians are acceptable, others are completely wrong, showing partiality to some and applying morality unfairly.

Sorry folks, that’s garbage, and leads to the obvious question: who gets to decide the rules, and how will they determine who gets protection, and who doesn’t? That’s the problem value relativism finds itself trapped in, and unfortunately some Christians become ensnared in humanistic philosophy, rather than the absolute of God’s Word.

Absolutes

Absolutes do exist. Right and wrong do exist. Don’t allow yourself to accept the humanistic idea of situational ethics, where morality isn’t absolute, and remember Paul’s warning to Timothy to “do nothing by partiality”.

Right is right, wrong is wrong. If the subject of an action determines your view of right and wrong, you’re showing partiality, and engaging in value relativism.

The church needs to resist humanistic philosophy infiltrating the church, such as social justice, the emerging church, value relativism, and more. If you’re hearing buzzwords and flavor-of-the-month ideas, it might just be worldly philosophy repackaged with new vocabulary to fool Christians into abandoning the absolutes of God’s Word.

Action Plan

If you’re interested in an easy to read primer on logic and how frequently logical errors occur, we highly recommend “Discerning Truth” by Jason Lisle (ISBN 978-0890515945). It’s a quick read and provides a good introduction to logic.

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