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Suicide: Views that Self-Destruct.

Chapter Seven essentially marks the midway point of the book. Having worked through various versions and usages of Columbo, author Greg Koukl sets his sights on identifying bad arguments. The first kind of bad argument is what he terms Suicide: “Commonly known as self-refuting views, these ideas defeat themselves.”[1] Here are some easy examples of suicidal views:

  • All English sentences are false
  • I’m a poor little rich girl
  • Everything that’s right is wrong

These kinds of statements are ticking time bombs waiting to self-destruct; that is, if these statements are true then they are also false. While these examples seem a bit more obvious, Koukl gives an example of a suicidal view against Christianity:

All religions are true. This cannot be the case since all religions possess exclusive qualities that negate other religions’ truth claims. For example, Muslims believe that Jesus is not divine but just a man (like Muhammad). Christians believe that Jesus is God. Both propositions about Jesus cannot be true at the same time (law of noncontradiction).

There are three steps to identify suicidal views:[2]

  1. Pay attention to the basic idea (often clear ideas are couched behind vague or ambiguous wording).
  2. Ask if the claim applies to itself. If so, is there a conflict?
  3. When there is a conflict, point it out (in many of these instances Columbo works very well)

Check back next week for Chapter 8: Practical Suicide.

*Greg Koukl is Founder and President of Stand to Reason. Please do yourself a favor and buy his excellent book here!

[1] Greg Koukl, Tactics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), 107.

[2] Ibid, 109.