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"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G.K.Chesterton

"You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." G.K.Chesterton

"As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that."C. S. Lewis

"I blog, therefore I am." Anon

Saturday, April 12, 2003

The tail is wagging the dog

Tim, over at the weblog Political Lomcevak, makes some pertinent remarks about the frustrations of meaningful debate with liberals. Though he is writing in the context of politics and the current situation vis-a-vis the war in Iraq, what he has to say rings true in my own experience of dialogue with relativists across a whole range of areas from ethics to theology, from social issues to economics - indeed in the full "worldview" context.

"Ever wonder why arguing with Liberals is almost impossible? I have my theory.

Whenever you attempt to engage most young people of liberal persuasion in political debate, you will find that they do not believe in moral absolutes. Liberals will frequently point out that morals are a complex continium with alternating shades of gray. Nothing is truly bad. (except for Conservatives, sorry, sorry, couldn't resist) Conservatives generally believe that there are moral absolutes. Except absolute is not the best word for it, possibly moral imperatives. Liberals will frequently accuse you of being judgmental for believing in moral imperatives. Here is where I think the confusion comes in.

I believe that Liberals believe that morals are complex, while situations are simple. My Conservative belief system is guided by the following proposition. Morals are fairly easy, but their application is frequently not. For instance: I believe that it is immoral to abort a fetus, since we do not know when that child is actually alive. However, I also believe that government should also not tell people what to do, especially in tough instances like abortion. So, on the issue of abortion, I am in a quandry. I have not decided which moral rule should govern. This creates problems when discussing things with a Liberal, and frequently assures that we have a valley that there is no way to bridge.

The other problem is the Liberals almost pathological inability to tolerate generalization. The current discourse and its rejection of generalization due to the belief that it is synonomous with prejudice, defies common sense. We have to generalize. Grouping like phenemona is an inherent trait. If you could only think in specifics, you would go mad. However, it is useful to recognize that for every generality there is an exception. Everyone know this, at least I would think so. However, generalize with a Liberal, and they will immediately jump to the exception regardless of how low percentage that exception is. Any attempt to point out that the exception is of extremely infrequent occurrence is met with the assertion that the exception nullifies the generalization. Again there is a valley that is impossible to bridge."

On this latter point, I have frequently observed that "the tail wagging the dog" scenario is a standard feature of liberal/relativist argumentation - where extreme or hypothetical cases, usually far removed from the normal everyday experiences of the man and woman in the street, are used to set and to drive whatever agenda the liberal relativist is espousing at the time. What this amounts to is the sacrifice of common sense on the altar of political correctness. One sees this everyday in education, economics, social policy, ethics and morality, religion and a host of other areas. Exceptions to the rule, are just that - exceptions. One should never make exceptions the basis for rules, nor the basis of convincing arguments. But this is the engine that drives much liberal thinking and opinioning. It is a recipe for chaos and anarchy.

5:54:00 pm