So, like I said before, I don’t like the “slippery-slope” argument. It’s a terrible argument as it’s often invoked. You know what I mean. Sometimes in a debate you’ll make a stand and someone will attack the stand for risking the slippery slope. If you take that stand what’s to stop you from going a step further. And then a step further. And so forth until you’ve reached a ludicrous or dangerous conclusion. Therefore their position, one that slippery, is better.
I disagree with that line of reasoning. Because in my view, the slippery slope argument says nothing about the truth of an argument. It makes a judgment about which position is easier, but it says nothing about which position is true. And isn’t the truth of an argument the most important thing?
Unless you’re saying that the slope is so slippery it’s logically impossible to hold any position along the slope. I make this argument sometimes. Like with that Illinois governor and the death penalty thing. There is no difference in process between what he did and another governor doing the same with a different issue. So there’s no difference at all; it’s not a slope, but a cliff. But in a lot of cases I don’t think this is true. I think that in real life, I’m almost going to say empirically, the truth often (but not always) lies somewhere on the slippery slope, not on either side.
I used to have a bunch of examples for this when I used to be more bothered by it but the only thing that can come to mind is the predestination / free will debate. Calvinism vs. Arminianism. All that stuff. I dunno, predestination is good because if you allow just a little free will you risk the slippery slope towards a works based righteousness and salvation, and pride. But if you take predestination too far you risk apathy and indulgence of sin.
I actually think this is what happened in history. Just, each side has been taken to extremes and clear sin. Which proves the other side’s point. But yeah, if you ask me, the truth is somewhere in the middle. That’s a terrible way to put it. A Calvinist would say if I’m in the middle, I’m an Arminian. But I do think Calvinists frequently misrepresent Arminianism. But anyway. Not talking about that so much as just pure free will and predestination I guess.
You know what, that’s a terrible example. It’s not exactly a big slippery slope I think. It’s not much of a slope at all. You’re pretty much one or the other. Ooh, I think I have a better example. Maybe I’ll get in trouble but whatever.
OK, so some people insist on a completely literal interpretation of the Bible, down to the number of days involved in creation, the age of the universe, and other stuff. And if there are apparent contradictions, their position is that there were no such mistakes in the original text, which we happen to not have any copies of. Not because there’s evidence of this. But because that’s just how it must be.
This uses another tactic I dislike, making conclusions first and then interpreting everything else to fit that. Anyway, the reason people do this of course is because this is the easiest way. If you were to question whether the Bible is meant to be taken literally everywhere, then it’s a slippery slope. How do you know which parts to take literally? Maybe the whole thing is symbolic. If you start to question the infallibility of it, then maybe there are tons of mistakes. And you can keep going down the slope until you reach absurd conclusions like the Jesus Seminar which says Jesus said almost nothing that the Bible says he said.
SN. I could go on and on about why I think super liberal interpretors of the Bible are wack, but I won’t. Well, just one example. The virgin birth. So, some literal interpretors point out that one, the virgin birth isn’t mentioned in all the Gospels. Two, many different cultures have legends involving virgin births. Therefore, they conclude that the virgin birth of Christ was added in by later Gospel editors just as other cultures had legends of virgin births of their heroes, and is only a legend; not true.
Huh? Am I the only one seeing a huge jump in logic here? It’s not in all the Gospels, and the theme of the virgin birth is in other cultures, so that automatically makes Jesus’ virgin birth untrue? Huh? How does that work? The Gospels all tell slightly different parts of Jesus’ life, and tons of cultural myths attribute to their heroes superhuman qualities, some of them like the ones Jesus had. And so we conclude that all these qualities of Jesus are made up? Huh?
I dunno. I don’t think believing in the virgin birth is an essential of the faith in the sense that you have to believe that to be saved. But, I also think it’s true. Just because it’s a motif in other myths doesn’t somehow make it not true. I don’t see how it does. In general, I don’t like the arrogance of modern interpreters who seem to think they can know now 2000 years after the fact what Jesus really said and what he was really like better than the authors/editors of the Gospels, who lived when Jesus did, and for whom presenting an accurate picture of Christ was a clear objective. Or more significantly, how they can believe they know what Jesus’ message was truly about now better than those that wrote the Gospels in the early church. How utterly arrogant and absurd. Anyway, random rant.
So yeah, if you don’t hold a strict literalist / inerrantist view, it can be a slippery slope, the end of which is clearly wrong. So it’s the safest view. But is it the right view? I dunno. The Bible is clearly not completely literal. For example with some of the poetic passages in Psalms. And this already puts you on a slippery slope. But it’s likely that this is where the truth lies. That the truth is probably closer to: you need to apply good hermeneutical principles to determine what’s meant to be taken literally and what isn’t. And that’s slippery – people can make the slide to saying that the stories of Jesus’ life aren’t literal either. But still, that’s where the truth lies, I think, and that’s the most important thing.
So anyway, I think often in real life, not just theologically but philosophically and morally and what have you, the truth lies somewhere on the “slippery” slope. It might be a little more difficult to hold that position without sliding to somewhere more dangerous. But again, it’s not about what’s easy, but what’s true.
So yeah, when talking about the truth, the slippery-slope argument alone just doesn’t do it for me. With other arguments it can be compelling. But I have to have that additional stuff I guess.