Logic and Conviction

Opinions are certainly popular these days. Logical convictions are not.  There’s a difference, of course. An opinion can be uninformed, a logical conviction should never be uninformed. An opinion is likely fueled by emotions and lacks the solidity and stability of a well thought out, tried by argument, logical conviction. Logical convictions have underpinnings, real reasons for the strong belief you have in your position; and even in the areas that you may not have an answer for a particularly good argument or critique, you have at least thought it through and can position yourself accordingly.  In other words, a logical conviction needs to stand up to reason. Opinions don’t require logic. To have real, logical convictions is to be a thinking person. Opinions require belief only and can exist in a vacuum.  Logical convictions require integrity, which in turn requires purity and wholeness; that is, your convictions must be allied and supportive of each other.

When I was thirty years old or so, I was standing in a hot, stinky garage, gathered around a weight bench with a few friends and my older brother. As we were talking between sets we got on the subject of the Bible. Now all of us were Christians of the evangelical variety and Southern Baptist by confession. As happened fairly frequently in those days we started talking about faith and scripture and how the authority of scripture worked in our lives. At some point, probably when the discussion got a little ‘iron sharpens iron’ contentious, my brother tells me that my lifestyle and my belief about the Bible didn’t match up. I, of course, began to take umbrage at what I perceived as him calling me a hypocrite, but then I paused.

He was right. I not only had made choices in my stated beliefs that didn’t fit, but they also weren’t consistent. That night I resolved to work through my beliefs and scripture until I had found a place of consistency and integrity in my convictions. I was turning from conviction to logical conviction.  Changes needed to be made. Contradiction kills logical conviction.

A few examples come to mind, and you should strap in because this first one is a hot button item.

Let’s say I believe that unborn children should be protected, but I don’t pay too much attention to the 15-45 percent of children below the poverty line (depending on whose echo chamber you happen to be in) or the kids who are languishing in the foster care system. Maybe I think that women who are pregnant and don’t want babies should put them up for adoption and yet, I have never seriously considered adoption. (Please don’t get in a tizzy, I’m not advocating for abortion rights!) These examples have some level of contradiction within them and unless the person aspiring to those ideas has really thought through their positions, it seems that those things make for illogical convictions.  I don’t get to decide that those children are more important than these children, unless of course my logical conviction is that some people are better than others. in which case I would need to define what made unborn kids more worthy of protection and help than kids who were already alive. However you may feel about abortion, for your convictions to carry any weight, they must be logical, reasonable, and devoid of contradictions.

In the same way, if I believe that abortion is just a medical procedure, and that a woman’s right to choose is to be placed above the rights of an unborn, I really had better be able to explain, at least to myself, why the woman’s choice is of more importance. Add this, if I am more concerned about animal life protection than the abortion issue, why are the animals more important? I should also probably ask myself why the difference between a fetus and a baby is whether or not that child is wanted.

(Incidentally, if you want to know my stance on this subject, PM me or send me an email.)

Here’s another: Let’s say that I believe in tolerance and free speech but I constantly find myself being intolerant of other peoples ideas. I think ‘those people’ should be censored. They shouldn’t speak on my college campus, we should boycott their business, we should unfriend them on Facebook or in real life. Maybe I even confront random strangers on the street because of who they are supporting in an election and scream in their face and cuss them out. It certainly would seem that we have convictions! But the inherent contradiction in supporting only the ‘correct’ free speech invalidates the thought process that supposedly led to that conviction in the first place.

I am a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. That confession sets my philosophical stance and lifestyle.  And although hypocrisy, the distance between who you are and who you present yourself to be, is part of being human, I do my best to close the gap. I desire integrity and reason in by beliefs. I want my convictions to be consistent. I want them to be whole and pure, all of one substance. My spiritual journey in Jesus Christ has led me to experiences and ideas that all contribute to my convictions, but they must be ordered if they are of God.

Now, if you aren’t a believer (you should look into it) you might word that differently, but in any case, your experiences, choices, and influences form your convictions. If you don’t exert the effort to examine and direct those convictions, cutting back the ones that are illogical or incorrect, you live a disorderly, passion directed life that may be enjoyable but lacks all real purpose and meaning because contradiction and conviction don’t mix and as Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Or as the Apostle Paul put it, “Always be ready to give an answer for the hope you have…” In other words, know why you believe what you believe, think about your convictions.

We all want to be taken seriously. Any sane person wants this ugly, angry phase our culture is in to pass. Logical conviction is one way to get moving in the right direction.

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