About Paul Buller

Paul is an engineer, husband, father and "life long" Christian. He is also the author of Arguing with Friends - keeping your friends and your convictions.

Mature, gracious debater

Debates are inherently confrontational, right? The entire point is to make your opponent look like an idiot by puffing yourself up, isn’t it? Debates certainly do serve a different purpose than run-of-the-mill conversations, but even within a debate setting it is certainly possible to engage in a reasoned and compelling defence of one’s own perspective without denigrating one’s opponent. This was recently exemplified by Dr. Craig.

I should offer a quick disclaimer. I have not watched this debate (I had other plans that evening) so I am trusting the following report. The source is reliable, though, and what he says is consistent with what I have seen of Craig in the past so I have every reason to believe that what follows is spot on. However, even if he is dead wrong in his assessment (that’s unlikely) we should strive to exemplify what he describes.

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Art of Reason – those poor horses

This is my second attempt at an “art of reason” article. The hope is to help people think through the truth claims they are presented with. We get hundreds of them a day so this is an important skill to develop. I hope this is helpful; let me know.

My wife and I enjoyed a nice getaway at a cabin in the woods. Around the property it is not uncommon to see wild animals, including wild horses. We didn’t see any while we were there, but I did notice that the home owners had put a pile of postcards on the kitchen counter. The postcards were meant to raise awareness about a government policy with respect to rounding up and domesticating wild horses every year. The postcard is designed to be sent to government officials as a message that the signator would like to see changes to the legislation in this respect.

The message on the postcard is intended to persuade us to let the wild horses remain wild. See if you can spot all the logical problems with the message of the postcard. Here it is,

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Dialogue with a gay activist

The dialogue recorded at this link is a fabulous example of doing many things right in a conversation with somebody you disagree with. Peter Kreeft was taking a class that was being taught by a homosexual activist. Kreeft hoped to chat with his professor (whom he calls “Art”) about his views, striving to open and clarify their respective views on the subject. Kreeft is right to observe that rarely happens when discussing homosexuality.

But I dare say it did happen in this case. Even Kreeft comments that he was not disappointed. [Read more…]

Reason and Intuition – Chicken and Egg

I’ve been wrestling a lot, lately, with the proper relationship between reason and emotion. Part of the motivation for this conflict in my own mind is because I know people who gravitate to one or the other of these, and they often look down upon whichever of the two they do not gravitate toward. But I find myself drawn to aspects of both, and repulsed by the overemphasis of either. I see value in emotions, even though I see how they can be unreliable and lead to wildly inaccurate beliefs about reality (and completely pointless or harmful actions that are based on those beliefs). Conversely, I obviously hold reason in high regard (as you will know if you’ve read Arguing with Friends or poked around my site for a bit), yet I can see how rationalism can seem cold and heartless, and that some of the most horrific atrocities in human history have had surprisingly coherent reasons behind them.

I see merit in both and I see drawbacks in both. How am I to understand their relationship?

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Koukl talks to a waiter

I enjoyed listening to the opening part of Greg Koukl’s show Stand to Reason some time ago. You can find it by scrolling down to November 18, at this link. Very briefly, Koukl had a fascinating chat with a waiter, but the conversation simply didn’t go anywhere! They talked about all kinds of interrelated stuff that was all connected to the big questions of life, but they didn’t get anywhere in their conversation. The waiter’s thoughts and reflections were widely scattered and generally incoherent. Understandably Koukl found this rather perplexing and a little frustrating.

How is it possible to talk for that long with a single person, about so many subjects, and simply not make any real progress in the conversation? Quite simple, actually. [Read more…]