Last time I talked about the mainstream Christian argument against those who are Transgender. I hope I got it right, hope you liked it, and I hope that I did not hurt anyone. I know that I will not please everyone, that I will hurt someone at some point, and that I’m human. These things are bound to happen at some point, and I hope that you call me out on it. I make mistakes like everyone and I hope that you don’t just accept them as my point of view, but that you ask me to clarify or just tell me where I got something wrong. You can safely assume that my position is not something set in stone. You can convince me (provided you have a solid point), and that’s the way I hope you will be. In today’s language, a Pharisee is someone who is hardheaded and dogmatic no matter if their argument is based on truth and fact or just tradition and an insular Christian culture. To break down argument based on the latter, you have to understand what makes up that belief and wherein that person the conviction comes from.
Pathos is the person’s emotions. They have to emotionally buy into something to be able to accept it. Emotion is without logic. You can feel strongly that something is true, you bend the facts to support it, you deny logical arguments against it. Like it or not, we are all like this. An important part of life is recognizing your bent toward your emotional presupposition, and putting it under a microscope and honestly determine if it corrupts your worldview. That’s the goal anyway. The pursuit of knowledge is endless, and ridding yourself from emotional bias is no different. However, it is important to remember that while emotional bias is always going to happen, recognizing the signs and doing your best, to be honest about it is the mark of intelligence and goodness in a person. Overcome this on your own, and you can understand the emotional bias of others. People I would identify as having an emotional bias that prevents them from being completely objective would be Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Michael Shermer.
Ethos can be defined as a person’s ethical nature. While defeating a person’s emotional bias is unbelievably hard, Ethos is a close second. Part of the reason for that is how our brain was created to operate. Have you ever put down someone’s argument on ethical grounds? Even if you don’t win the argument, your brain rewards you for defending your ethical code! Ethics are part of our brain’s reward system, and when you defend or attack from your Ethos your brain gives you a shot of adrenaline and dopamine for your trouble. While you are in the argument, your brain floods with cortisol which makes you feel like you have suddenly become detached from your body followed by an uncontrollable reaction from your fight or flight response. We are all capable of falling into this trap of our biology, and if we don’t keep our cool we can not only lose the argument but cut off all future dialogue with that person. This response from an opponent in an argument is the end of the dialogue. Your brain will reward you for it, but you have just damaged your opponent and that should never be your intention. If it is your goal, stop talking and walk away. No if’s, and’s, or but’s. All stop. Logical argument is key for overcoming ethos, but you have to present it with your heart, not your logos.
Now we get to my favourite, logos. What makes up the human dilemma is a nature that is at odds with itself. This is cursory, and not a complete psychological description by any means. These are the basics of what makes a man. Logos is our logical nature. It is without emotion and ethical concern (though it is based to some degree on both). It is pure. Pursuing logical argument with others is the easiest to get a result because you’re either right or wrong without a grey emotional area. Present your evidence, and rebut the reply. What will always get you into trouble is to focus only on logos and forget that pathos and ethos are always present. Don’t allow yourself to be blindsided by a person’s ethos and pathos which are guiding their logos, but are hiding beneath the surface. Remember that every debate and discussion is fueled by all three parts and overwhelming one with a show of force will only enrage the other two.
Now with the basics of argument out of the way (which I’m sure you were aware of, but more perspective is always a good thing), I will conclude with the basic principle that will always win over logos, ethos, and pathos: love. If you enter arguments with a forceful logical approach, you cause your opponent to lose objectivity and all respect for you. However, if you apply logic from a place of gentleness and love then you will have influence and respect from your opponent. Your opponent no long is your opponent, but someone you have come along beside and shared your view with. An understanding of the three (an admittedly overly simplistic view of the human experience) parts of a person will help you in your interaction with the rest of the world, but without love, you could have the chemical formula for the cure for cancer but never impact anyone. There’s a reason that love is discussed so often in the Bible, and that is because you cannot make a disciple of anyone without love. You cannot turn the other cheek and have it mean anything unless it is done in love. Your perspective needs to become that you have no opponents or adversaries, but people who you need to open your heart to.
If you want to read more on how our brain is addicted to being right, check out this article by Harvard Business Review.