Seven Self-Refuting Secularist Propositions
January-February 1997By Mark Lowery
Mark Lowery is Associate Professor of Theology at the University of Dallas.
Most of us have been in discussions that are like two ships passing in the night, due to the variance in presuppositions upon which the respective positions are based. For instance, you are discussing some disputatious point of Catholic doctrine with someone, only to find that he doesn't believe in the teaching authority of the Church that grounds the doctrine in the first place, or to find that he doesn't believe in objective truth at all. What to do?
St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that while it does no good to keep on arguing the point of Catholic doctrine, reason can be employed to disprove the adversary's presuppositions, and thereby a kind of reverse psychology can be exerted: Although the truths of Revelation cannot be proven (if they could, then faith would lose its merit, says Thomas), their opposites cannot possibly be demonstrated as true, for the truths of Revelation are infallible. In a word, take the secular "faiths" of your opponents and show their irrationality. You can be assured that indirectly you are bearing witness to Christian truth, for if the contrary of the truths of the faith can be shown to be erroneous, then without saying as much you have directed the conversation in the direction of alternatives that are compatible with, and hence inadvertently guided by, Revelation.
A variety of contemporary authors level this type of argument against a variety of secular beliefs. I have collected their arguments over the years and have assembled here some of the best ones.
(1) Many secularists assert that all morality is relative. But a relativist actually makes an absolute claim in stating that "everything is relative." If someone every says that everything is relative, just ask, "absolutely?"
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