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The Age of Deceit - Part 1

All mankind is embroiled in a war that has been raging since the dawn of time where man is both the prize and the pawn in this deadly conflict. For mankind, it all began in the Garden of Eden. Because of the deception of Adam and Eve that was brought about through their seduction by the Nachash (the Hebrew word for “shining one”), mankind was plunged into a war that they did not start. We are told that God cursed the Nachash (later known as Lucifer or Satan),

“I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

Genesis 3:15

Thus we have the seed-plot for the story of mankind’s struggle with evil throughout their generations.

It has been said for millennia, “In war, the first casualty is truth.” In other words, he who is blind in battle will most likely lose. In the classic book “The Art of War” the celebrated military strategist and author Sun Tzu writes, “All warfare is based on deception. Hence when able to attack we must seem unable. When using our forces, we must seem inactive. When we are near, we make the enemy believe we are far away. When far away we must make the enemy believe we are near.” Therefore, when it comes to being victorious in any kind of hostile environment, we need to understand that “knowledge is power.”

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Beyond Critical Thinking – The Ask

In Critical Thinking the dual components of evidence and persuasion take prominent place in organizing or analyzing any position or claim. While evidence serves as the building blocks of any argument, persuasion operates as the mortar which connects and holds together each brick required to build the strong wall able to stand and withstand. Unpersuasive arguments – and unproductive conversations – frequently present themselves as either bricks-without-the-mortar or mortar-without-the-bricks.

Carl Sandburg is credited with saying, “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts.” With any law comes a standard that must be met – for a murder conviction we are all familiar with the three-prong test of means, motive and opportunity. Many a murder movie developed a plot around the detective struggling to find that elusive motive. Without it, the district attorney will refuse to take the case to court.

Think back to a recent conversation with a friend over a controversial topic of philosophical, political, or personal consequence. Without knowing any details of your conversation, I suspect the champions of a particular claim or position either relied heavily on abundant evidence or double downed on persuasive rhetoric. Some cite a mountain of statistics and facts and objective data; others rely on narrative and storytelling. The former sees truth as objective and debate as a pursuit of the truth. The latter ‘– using a phrase like my truth – describes what some call subjective truth and present the argument in a persuasive and personal narrative.

Your mind may already be racing to specific topics hotly debated today and for this article I will use as an illustration a situation common to many of us, namely selecting a restaurant in town for a meal with a friend or the family. Some might rely on objective data like price, nutrition guidelines, number of parking spaces or typical ambient temperature. A majority (I suspect) rely on experience and “vibe” which are personal and subjective. “I always get great service there.” “The first time I went there was with my grandparents so many years ago.” “The food is the best.” Little evidence and no standard is presented for making the decision or the claim. This author recognizes this decision lacks weighty significance and its implications will only last until “second breakfast” or perhaps “elevenses.”

In choosing the restaurant dilemma, I hope to avoid any unintended distress that you gracious reader might face with a more hotly debated issue. And as I write that, I can tell you that many a car conversation exiting the church’s parking lot started with the all-too-familiar exchange:

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