By order of the management, the following rules shall be observed in any and all Internet debates, dorm bull sessions, classroom discussions, and freshman essays on any topic whatsoever, from now on in perpetuity, until further notice, world without end, amen.
Evidence is not necessarily proof; but while it is not a sufficient condition of proof, it is a necessary one in most discussions. Here therefore are the Ten Commandments of Argument:
- Assertion is not evidence.
- Shouting is not evidence.
- Repetition is not evidence.
- Using big words and jargon is not evidence.
- Insulting one’s opponents is not evidence.
- Expressing emotion is not evidence.
- Paraphrasing your previous comments is not evidence.
- Citation is not evidence, unless it includes the reasons why your alleged “authority” agrees with you.
- None of these things is a refutation, either.
- Courtesy is not a weakness.
Those who cannot or will not abide by these rules are hereby requested to close out their Facebook and Twitter accounts and never to trouble the Internet with their inane blather again. They also might as well drop out of college, as they will never be able to pass a single assignment for a professor who is doing his or her job. Thank you for your cooperation. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Check out Dr. Williams’ books at http://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/! Stars Through the Clouds: The Collected Poetry of Donald T. Williams (Lynchburg: Lantern Hollow Press, 2011), Reflections on Plato’s Cave: Essays in Evangelical Philosophy (Lantern Hollow, 2012), and Inklings of Reality: Essays toward a Christian Philosophy of Letters, 2nd ed. (Lantern Hollow, 2012). Each is $15.00 + shipping. And be on the lookout for his next book: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Square Halo Books, due out Sept. 1, 2016).