“Either of us could be wrong, so let’s call it a tie”

Twice this week I encountered commenters who ran out of arguments and resorted to claiming that either of us could be wrong.  The implication was that it made the discussion a toss-up and we should just end the debate – with them getting their way, of course.

Here’s one of them, in context of a discussion on Romans 1 and natural functions.

In context with the idol worship we see what comes next. I could be wrong, can you admit that you could be wrong?

My response:

You are wrong and should stop teaching falsely. Whether we could be wrong is irrelevant. I say people shouldn’t beat up gays. Could I be wrong? Maybe, but I don’t think I am. But using your “logic” I could be wrong so I shouldn’t debate the point. That is stupid logic.

Here’s the other example:

So, Neil, the Bible and the [Methodist] Book of Discipline are never wrong?

My response:

The “we might both be wrong, so let’s call it a tie” philosophy is silly. Fred Phelps could use the same approach but I hope that wouldn’t stifle anyone’s criticism of him.

The Bible is never wrong. It is capable of being misunderstood, but never wrong. It is remarkably clear on this topic, and the BoD [Methodist Book of Discipline] is in sync:

100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior denounce it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms. 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman. 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children). 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions.

Could I be wrong?  In a hyper-technical sense, of course I could be.  Hey, maybe this is all just an illusion and I didn’t really type this.  That isn’t supported by the evidence and we don’t live our lives that way, but there is always some extreme scenario where we could be mistaken.

But that isn’t what the other party is aiming at.  They think they are right, and are using this argument to avoid conceding a point where they know they are out of ammunition.

One of the most insidious ways the pro-gay lobby in the Methodist Church does this is to press for resolutions noting that we don’t have full agreement on the topic.  They make it sound innocent, as if we are just stating the obvious.  But of course they are trying to generate an official document that implies that there just isn’t enough biblical guidance on the topic to make an assessment.  Therefore, we should relax our standards.

The lesson here: Don’t let them get away with it.  Just point out how they obviously think they are right and have the burden of proof to back up their claims.

17 thoughts on ““Either of us could be wrong, so let’s call it a tie””

  1. You nailed it. This is the last tactic of a defeated foe. You were right to fall back on scripture. The scripture CANNOT be wrong.

    I also love when the other side starts talking about their feelings. “I feel that God would approve.” etc. Another way they’ve admitted defeat on whatever the issue is.


  2. I’m always amazed at how ignorance is twisted into grounds for a sound argument; except that it is euphemistically called gray. And as I always say: the color of gray is, a strong tower, the wicket run into it, and they feel safe.

    This post has helped me considerably in dealing with such attacks on truth under the guise of reason. Thank you.


    1. Glad it helped! It reminds me of how ER (former commenter) would use his “through a glass darkly” line, though of course he interpreted that verse with perfect clarity (sarcasm intended).


  3. Neil,

    Can you possibly know how many times I run into this very tactic? Knowing as you do with whom I choose to debate, of course you do. However, I don’t get the “Bible might be wrong” nonsense. I get the, “Oh, if Marshall says it, it must be true” as if I’m the origin of the truth rather than merely one who adheres to it.


      1. I know whereof you speak, Marshall. The technical tautology that we could both be wrong never stops the person from repeating his incoherent and illogical, over and over, as if they have never been thoroughly refuted: it’s invoked only as a pitiful effort to get his critics to shut up.

        As with Mitch Daniels’ ridiculous position on the culture war, it’s not a truce. It’s a call for a unilateral surrender.


      2. Perhaps a good strategy is to use the same techniques against them.

        One of the problems with their use of it is that harm we perceive continues. While we “repectfully agree to disagree”, nothing changes, or not not much does. Both sides continue on as before.

        Thus, when they feel there is some harm being done by perpetuating positions we support that might already be in play, it would be interesting to see how well they content themselves with agreeing to disagree. I’m betting they won’t.

        Certainly they haven’t on homosexual marriage. In this example, they demand change, not a civil agreement to disagree.


      3. Marshall & Bubba — yep. My new shortcut for those folks will be to ask, “If Fred Phelps wants to join your church and steer it to his views, will you concede that he could be right and let him do his thing? Because you are just as much in error as Phelps, albeit in a different direction.”

        Or maybe I’ll just ignore them, like I usually do. It is one of my top productivity improvements.


  4. I’m glad you guys are still battling it out for the truth in the blogosphere. I’ve kind of given up on the arguments on the internet. You might have noticed that with the tenor of my blog posts. But I’m glad you guys press on.


    1. I’m with you TJ to a point. I don’t like to engage in fruitless arguments. But there is a positive side to the arguments, fruitless thought they may be. (fruitless defined as no persuasion has or will happen with the actual debaters) Even if the one making the challenges will not be convinced, their challengers should have responses for two reasons.

      First, the challenges need to be settled in the minds of onlookers… like myself, in a cogent way.

      Second, as a parent, it helps me to poison my children’s well by making the same argument to them then giving good clear and logical answers. Then when they’re older, and some prof. gives them a line of inconsistent illogical crap that just so happens to conform to his equally inconsistent and illogical atheistic communist worldview, it will be as transparent to them as the emperor’s clothes.

      This forum gives us the opportunity to practice entering into these disputes and try out our wings so to speak. We learn how to pick up on the fallacies then we learn how to navigate them. We also learn how to avoid the same flawed fallacies ourselves. I would argue that the vast majority of Christians are ill equipped to handle bad arguments and are too often persuaded by them to some degree. I’ve heard otherwise conservative preachers concede to the social justice non-sense because they were ill equipped to see it for what it is.

      Not that I don’t think you are guilty of this, just using your comment as a springboard to put in my two cents worth.


      1. Oh, and forgot to say kudos to Neil for being the very apt teacher! This blog has been immeasurably profitable to me… and my children!


      2. Thanks, Dan, that means a lot to me coming from you! I don’t have many original ideas here, but I love to digest and distill things and pass them along to interested folks. It is the best part of blogging.

        And it is a joy that you seek to share these things with your kids. One of my all-time favorite verses is 3 John 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

        My 17 yr. old is taking a college sociology course and is continually irritated at the Liberal bias. Recent example of an assignment question related to the pro-gay agenda in the class: “Do we need to move past tolerance to acceptance?” My daughter is quick to see that there is something wrong with the question, but it is fun to work through it with her (i.e., you can only tolerate that which you disagree with; requiring acceptance isn’t a progression from tolerance, it is the opposite).

        My daughters process things a little differently from each other (one talks through it more, one mainly thinks it through on her own), but I’m thrilled at their critical thinking skills and how they aren’t manipulated by college profs.


  5. I added this to the post: One of the most insidious ways the pro-gay lobby in the Methodist Church does this is to press for resolutions noting that we don’t have full agreement on the topic. They make it sound innocent, as if we are just stating the obvious. But of course they are trying to generate an official document that implies that there just isn’t enough biblical guidance on the topic to make an assessment. Therefore, we should relax our standards.


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