Friday, September 15, 2006

disrespect (bulverism)

I find it sad how often we approach people with the predetermined assumption they are wrong. I’m not attacking anyone on this…because I’m just as guilty as anyone else.

How often do we “throw out the baby with the bathwater”? Just because we don’t like or respect the person, we discount their opinion or perspective as silly and unworthy of consideration.

C.S. Lewis made up a word for this tactic, calling it “Bulverism”.

He said, “[In debate], you must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became so silly. In the course of the last fifteen years I have found this vice so common that I have had to invent a name for it. I call it Bulverism.”

“Someday I am going to write the biography of its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver, whose destiny was determined at the age of five when he heard his mother say to his father – who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than the third – ‘Oh you say that because you are a man.’ “

“‘At that moment’, E. Bulver assures us, ‘there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume that your opponent is wrong, and then explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong or right, and the national dynamism our age will thrust you to the wall.’ That is how Bulver became one of the makers of the Twentieth Century.”

(C. S. Lewis, “Bulverism,” in C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970, 271-277. p. 273.)

How often our "bulverism" leads to disrespecting other people and dishonoring God.