Tactics and Tools

The “Suicide” Tactic

Author Brett Kunkle Published on 03/05/2013

Learn to spot an argument that destroys itself.

In a culture with relativistic views of truth, it is essential that you recognize claims and arguments that commit “suicide.” Suicidal arguments self-destruct by expressing some contradiction. Suicidal statements cannot live up to their own standards and thus, the minute you utter them they are false. Philosophers refer to such arguments as self-refuting or self-referentially incoherent.

Let me introduce you to the “Suicide” tactic with some simple examples:

  • I cannot speak a word of English.
  • No sentences are longer than six words.
  • All bachelors love their wives.
  • My brother is an only child.
  • That place is so crowded, no one goes there anymore.
  • I’ve had amnesia for as long as I can remember.
  • Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours.
  • You’re in rare form, as usual.

Once you get a handle on the concept of suicidal statements, you’re ready to examine more sophisticated arguments. Here are some common claims of our culture:

  • There is no truth. (Is that a true statement?)
  • We can’t know truth. (Is that a truth you know?)
  • All truth is relative. (Is that truth claim also relative?)
  • All truth claims are merely attempts to oppress others. (Is that a truth claim you’re using to oppress me?)
  • There are no absolutes. (Are you absolutely sure?)
  • No one can know any truth about religion. (How did you come to know that truth about religion?)
  • There are no meta-narratives. (Is this account a meta-narrative?)
  • You can’t know anything for sure. (Is this something you know, for sure?)
  • You shouldn’t tell people they are wrong. (Like you’re doing to me right now?)
  • Talking about God is meaningless. (Is that statement meaningless then?) I don’t think we should push anyone’s values. (Is that one of your values? Are you pushing it on me?)
  • I don’t believe anything unless it can be proven scientifically. (What scientific experiment taught you that truth?)

By learning the Suicide Tactic you will begin inoculating yourself from some of the false ideas in our culture and moving toward clear thinking Christianity.