About this time last year, a Google Chrome extension was released on the Google store that automatically replaced the term “pro-life” with “anti-choice”. As with everything else in the abortion debate, both sides were quickly up in arms. The anonymous creator of the extension explained that he/she created it in an attempt to clarify the debate. It has been pointed out before that the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice” are flawed because they naturally demonize the opposing party. The implied opposite of being “pro-life” is to be “pro-death” or “anti-life” and no pro-choice advocate would ever claim such a position. Likewise, to say that you’re not “pro-choice” is to say that you’re pro-coercion or, as the extension claims, “anti-choice” which has never been the position of those fighting against abortion. However, flawed as the terms may be, the extension itself exposed a more fundamental problem. In an effort to clarify the debate by removing what the creator deemed as misleading language, all it managed to do was further confuse it. As a column on pro-life website LifeActionNews.com stated:
In philosophy, there is a tactic to undermining your opponent’s argument that relies on accepting the premises and the conclusion, and then taking the point and running with it. It’s called argumentum ad absurdum or sometimes reductio ad absurdum. The idea is to show that a person’s position, if taken to its logical conclusion, results in situations or concepts that are absurd or, in some cases, just plain silly.
Here’s an example. In the video below, Christian apologist Sam Shamoun performs this maneuver on Muslim apologist Zakir Naik. Dr. Naik is making the claim that Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, is mentioned by name in the Song of Solomon, thus showing that he is a true prophet of God:
It’s not at all controversial to suggest that, if you’re going to create something, it should achieve the purpose for which it is intended when you set out to create it. This holds true whether you’re talking about airplanes, software, bowling balls or chairs. A chair needs to hold your weight, or else it isn’t worth sitting on. If software doesn’t provide the functionality you’re looking for, it gets uninstalled. No one is going to buy a ticket to get on a plane that doesn’t fly. The principle also holds true for faith systems. A true faith system should work in a way that significantly outshines all of the other options because it is true; it reflects and coincides with reality in a way that none of the alternatives do. It should do everything it claims to do. It should answer the important questions in a satisfactory manner. It should provide what it claims to provide. If it doesn’t do that, then it should be thrown out like a square bowling ball.
So what then does a faith system need to do? What answers does it need to provide?
We’re jumping off the idea of religious pluralism and why, since religions can’t all be true, we must not therefore be flippant or utilitarian in our approach to who or what we decide to follow.
The following quotes are from someone you’ve probably heard of. See if you can guess who it is.
Writer, artist, lay theologian, student of comparative religion.