Thursday, October 30, 2008

Truth and Tone

I have to laugh whenever someone (such as a recent reader of this blog) says something along the lines of, “I would agree with your assertion if only you would adopt a different tone.” Such sophistry is funny, if you think about it for a moment. But as an assertion, it is logically false. Tone and truth have nothing to do with each other.

The statement above is the same as someone asserting, “I would accept your conclusion that one plus one equals two if you changed your tone.” That claim is nonsensical, or worse. The validity of one plus one equals two stands true regardless of the tone or presentation. Truth is truth.

When I first became aware of Gary North (link on the left sidebar), I googled him. I quickly found folks making claims such as, “I would have been a Christian if it wasn’t for North.” So much for the inherent truths of the Bible. But does anyone really believe that these writers are being honest in their claims?

Either the Bible is God’s word or its not. And Gary North’s tone has nothing to do with the fact that the Bible is God's word -- North's tone can neither validate nor invalidate that truth.


In essence, the writers are claiming that they admit biblical truths (by implication that such truths exist absent North), only to refute those very same truths based on something as superfluous as North’s tone. Are these writers misguided? Or are they employing sophisms for some other purpose? Hmmm.

When folks state that they hinge their acceptance of fact on the presentation layer, they are not being forthright. They are simply trying to move the discussion toward that which they believe true – they are employing techniques of manipulation, etc. They are really asking you to modify your beliefs so that your beliefs do not conflict with theirs. Recasting the claim above, we end up with this, “I would have been a Christian if being a Christian did not mean having to live according the biblical truths noted by North.”

When you read claims about truth and tone, do not believe the writers. They are being dishonest at best.

12 comments:

Eric H said...

And yet, such instances of friction over tone should teach us lessons about how we communicate and how our message will be perceived in an imperfect world, by imperfect people. In reading the New Testament, the tone of Jesus tells as much of the story as the events.

Anonymous said...

Jesus ended up crucified because he used the wrong tone while he told people things they didn't want to hear. People like us are well-acquainted with being vilified because we tell others the truth. Genuine preachers of the gospel are also unpopular these days because they tell people the truth. Only those who deceive or tell half-truths can stay popular and have a following.
Example: Rick Warren

Anonymous said...

The only problem is you use the wrong tone and don't tell the truth.

Eric Cope said...

While your tone is independent of truth, its dependence on persuasion is very real. With the right tone, I can make some one disagree with me who previously agreed. So while your critic's statement is shallow, its underlying theme is true.

Jim Fedako said...

9:36 --

Cute. But tone and truth are still seperate concepts.

Jim Fedako said...

eric cope:

The issue is not agreement, it's truth. Getting some one to agree with you does not make your assertions correct. There is a key difference here.

REM said...

Thank you for your blog. I enjoy your tone and appreciate your assertions. Truths, assertions, and tone are indeed separate concepts, yet I will venture to say that they are interdependent. A truth cannot be communicated devoid of tone. The offended individual who doesn't like your tone and therefore cannot agree with your assertions may subconsciously understand their interdependence, but is unable to consciously separate the message from the messenger.

Norbert said...

Well, truth doesn't change if you change tone. Don't slay the messenger if the message is what you don't like.

Let the future show what was the truth and what was a lie.

Meanwhile keep up your good work, which I believe is telling the truth.

Anonymous said...

Most of what is discussed here (and everywhere else) does not involve "truths". Most discussion is centered around belief, opinion, and theory. Tone does matter in trying to persuade others to share those beliefs, truths and theory, but that's just my OPINION.

Anonymous said...

Rem: I don't think a "subconscious" has ever been proven, has it? I would call it Rebellion.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to have accurate definitions for words? Is it possible to apply those defined words accurately?

Jim Fedako said...

9:03 --

Interesting question.

The Bible says that God is a jealous god. Many take that to mean God is an envious god. That is not true. Jealousy is the desire to keep what is yours. Envy is the desire to have what someone else possesses (or to stop someone from having that which you do not possess).

Most spouses are jealous of their wife/husband. That simply means they do not want to lose them.

God is jealous of His creation since he does not want to lose them to evil.

It is envy that is the sin. But we tend to use those words interchangeably.

My belief is that God has created Tower of Babel within languages. Why? To keep us from all falling for an evil manipulator. Notice that those who espouse "togetherness" (I'm thinking Obama) tend to want to use this as a tool for control. What out for these folks.