Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Tactics" by Gregory Koukl (Summary: part 2 of 3)

Tactics is a book that teaches the reader some of the most useful tools of discussion (the tactics) for debating. The specific context for using these tools is in defense of the Christian faith and Christian world view.

Purchase the book or read more about it here on

Here is a brief summary of each of the main tools and chapters presented. It is worth reading the entire book because of the conversations detailed and the specific examples of each strategy.


Suicide: Views that self destruct - These are views or statements that, if they are true, prove themselves false. Variations on the theme "there is no truth" are common. Saying that "God doesn't take sides" assumes that God takes that side, proving the view false.

Pseudo-questions such as "Can God make a rock so big that he can't lift it" are nonsense questions. It's like asking if god is stronger than god and makes no sense.

"People make mistakes, so I won't trust the bible." But you're a person and could make mistakes, so I'll trust the bible.

"Saying that evolution designs by chance." Design implies a designer with a hand in events and is not chance at work.

"Only science gives reliable truth." But science doesn't give itself its truth so is it true?

"All religions are true." But some deny the truth of all other religions, e.g. Jesus is the only way versus other views.

Practical Suicide - These are views that fail when you put them into practice (even if they aren't contradictory in them self), e.g. Saying that "arguing is wrong" is not contradictory but as soon as you try to defend that view you are arguing and proving it impractical.

"It's wrong to condemn people". But that condemns people who think that it isn't wrong to condemn people.

"You shouldn't force your morality on others". Isn't that view forcing your morality on others?

Sibling Rivalry and Infanticide - Sibling rivalry is a way of describing ideas that compete, i.e. both can't be true, e.g. "good people go to heaven" and "good and bad are relative, not absolute". How then do good people go to heaven if there are no truly good people!

Another example of sibling rivalry: "A loving God would never send anyone to hell" and "Why does God allow evil in the world, why doesn't he punish bad people?" If you punish bad people you need a god who will bring pain!

"Homosexuality isn't wrong because it's natural". This implies that anything natural is right, but when it comes to homosexual couples adopting children they are trying to do what is clearly not natural, or they would have their own children!

Infanticide is when prior concepts disprove what is being claimed, e.g. vocal chords do not exists first requires vocal chords to exists if one is to say them.

"I can't believe in a God who allows evil in the world". This presumes the existence of evil, which can only exist if God is in the world. Also, if morals are relative then how can the claim that evil exists disprove God? If evil is relative, then the objection is nonsense.

Remember that Atheists can act moral, so don't accuse them of that, but they can't justify their actions in the absence of a moral law giver. Their defense of their own morality works against themselves!

Taking the roof off - Some views result in absurd conclusions if they are pushed to their limit. Saying that there is no objective moral good or bad means that we can't say that rape is bad, or that Hitler was wrong. To realise when an idea is absurd you will have to take it for a test drive to find out if the roof comes off.

Example - the claim that homosexual marriage is morally okay because the government supports it. The government also supported slavery at one time, so it is a non-argument to say that anything is okay if the government supports it.

"I was born homosexual so it's not bad". But people are born liars and murders too...

The philosophy professor who "proves" god doesn't exist by dropping a pen and saying god doesn't exist because he couldn't stop it hitting the ground. Say that the professor doesn't exist if you don't catch a pen and then choose to let it fall.

"That's just your interpretation of the bible!" But he will object if you interpret his words to mean that you can have his car. It's not the interpretation that matters, it's what the words really mean.

Still to come is the third and final section.  Please subscribe or check back for in a few days for the conclusion and a link to the full summary in PDF format.