Growing up, I watched Loony Toons, a cartoon show that would make me laugh every Saturday morning. My favorite cartoons were the ones that featured Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. No matter what Fudd did to try and catch Bugs Bunny, he always ended up inflicting more harm on himself than on Bugs — usually causing his own demise, mostly due to the fact that Bugs turned Fudd’s own plan against him. What does this have to do with Christian apologetics?I believe we can take a tip from Bugs Bunny in defending the Christian worldview, namely, we need to be wary of Elmer Fudd Philosophy.
In logic, there are things called “self-refuting statements” or arguments that collapse because they inflict harm on themselves (like Fudd). As defenders of the Christian worldview, we need to identify these and in grace, point them out to our non-believing friends. For example, let’s say you are in a conversation about morality with a non-believer and they say something to the effect of, “I do not believe in absolutes.” In order to see if this is self-refuting, just apply the statement to itself. In saying, “I do not believe in absolutes” your friend just made an absolute statement. Therefore, the argument collapses in on itself and is rendered useless.
Another example is the common argument, “If God created the universe, who created God?” This is known as a categorical fallacy — the logical error of presenting things from one particular category as if they belong to a different category. For instance, what if I asked you, “Do you know what the color green tastes like?” Of course, you don’t and you never could because colors are seen not tasted. So, in the case of the question about God’s creation, the question is self-defeating because God, by traditional Christian understanding, is not created. The person posing the question is asking “Where did the uncreated Creator of the created universe come from?” This is a nonsensical question.
Here are some other self-defeating statements to be watchful for:
- There is no such thing as truth. (This is a truth claim.)
- You shouldn’t judge. (This very statement is a judgment.)
- History is unknowable. (Then this very statement is unknowable because, by the time you finish the sentence, the first two words would have been said in the past.)
By being mindful of what Elmer Fudd philosophy looks like, Christians can accomplish two main objectives:
- Become better defenders of the faith by not implementing Elmer Fudd philosophy.
- Genuinely, help the non-believer see the error in their reasoning and understand that these kinds of claims are not means for finding or grounding truth.
Let us be Bugs Bunny philosophers in an Elmer Fudd world!