The other day, I was listening to the Freakonomics podcast, something I would encourage you to do as well. Besides being interesting, there are often tangential points made that could turn into a fruitful blog post. I guess we’ll see.
I don’t remember the exact episode, but in the course of the podcast, the hosts got into a discussion with an interviewee on the subject of dogmatism. You know, good ole fashioned dig your heels into the ground and proclaim your position in absolute unqualified terms dogmatism (is there really any other kind?). I don’t remember even the actual premise of the discussion, but I do remember the criteria they gave. 1
The reason I probably remember the criteria so well is because there was just one. Are you ready for it? The line between confidence in your position and dogmatism runs thus: If you can think of a way or ways your position could be falsified, you are not being dogmatic (in the pejorative sense of course).
On the flipside, if there is no conceivable way you could see your position being wrong, you probably haven’t thought through the issue sufficiently and are just being dogmatic. Often if this is the case, you’ll find yourself near the bottom of the above pyramid 2 when it comes to arguments (though I imagine you, Christian reader, would never call someone an @$$ hat). When you’ve actually thought through both sides of the issue, you are more likely able to not only defend your position, but also refute the core of the opposition.
You may notice though that this still is not necessarily the same as knowing how you could be proven wrong. So maybe an example will clarify.
I do not believe in common ancestry. That is, I’m fine with evolution to some extent (even at the macro level), but I do not think all living things go on some great chain of being where lower life forms evolved into higher forms. As a result of this, I see no relationship between man and monkeys where the former could have evolved from some form of the latter.
What would change my mind on this, is if incontrovertible evidence were discovered/produced that proved asexual reproduction evolved into sexual reproduction. In the absence of that proof, there is no evolving relationship between lower life species and higher life species and so no reason to link everything together the way evolutionists do (though they do it different ways). With that relationship severed, there is no reason to suppose man evolved from apes.
That may not be a perfect example, but it is an example of holding a position with a strong level of confidence (man didn’t evolve from apes) with the recognition of a potential defeater to that position that is actually farther upstream in the line of thought. Fossils actually can’t defeat my position or prove the opposite since they will always be hard to clarify. But, if it could be demonstrated that sexual reproduction evolved (beyond just saying that it did because we have both types at present) then that is a game-changer from a creationist point of view.
Maybe I’ll flesh this out in more detail later. But, just thought you’d like to know whether you’re confident or dogmatic. I know I’d want to know!