Emotions, Logic, and Seeking Truth

“You’re being so emotional” and its variants (including “be rational” or “this must be personal”) are dismissive statements trotted out when people are presenting their ideas regarding a subject, and the accuser wants to minimize the validity of those ideas. By highlighting “emotionality” or lack of rationality, the presumption is that the person’s arguments lack merit. Although this tactic could be employed by or toward individuals of any gender, it is frequently used by men as a denigration of women’s speech. Often, these are statements of deflection; the accuser, not having a rational counterargument themselves, avoids having to defend their position by merely making hand-waving objections to the points raised. I’ve been the recipient of such remarks on a number of occasions: when presenting research in my own area of expertise, when merely restating data from an article, or even when simply reciting facts that were previously agreed to. In almost every case, the person making the statement was not an expert, admittedly wasn’t familiar with the subject matter, or in some cases hadn’t even read the primary source of the information in question. In addition to being a tool of deflection, this tactic is frequently also an act of projection. That is, because of ignorance regarding the topic at hand, comments like these are made in an attempt to mask the fact that the person making the statement is actually the one operating from their own fear and refusal to acknowledge that their long-held beliefs may be wrong.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/12283
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Dr. Ray,

Thank you for taking on this topic. As I watched this Summit, I applauded Washington Adventist University and Sligo for their scholarly approach, including the keynote speaker on Romans 1, Dr. Sig Tonstad. Thank God these institutions planned and executed this summit that included scholars, pastors, Johnson and Turner.

I know of no other topic in Adventism that illicits so much instant emotion. I appreciate your appeal to study, scholarship, and being Bereans.

Thank you for appealing to open, Berean minds.


Study? An open mind? May I suggest this is an unknown methodology to the average SDA. I would think that those SDA’s over 50 were brought up to think those terms meant, Bible text quoting and agreeing with pre supposed truths. Even though Scholars, etc have known for a long period of time and practiced, study/research with desire to increase knowledge, that methodology has never been taught to the ‘pew sitter’. My question is , why hasn’t it??


Be careful! Some of us who try to maintain an open mind and a willingness to consider the evidence are well past 50. We’ve lived through the variety of perspectives on some topics and come out the other end willing to be open-minded on many subjects some people younger than us believe are settled. In fact, sometimes living longer means we hold some opinions and beliefs far more loosely than we did when we were younger. We’re much more certain there are few, if any, easy answers.


I wasn’t suggesting those over 50 are not being open minded, but that if you are, then most likely you were brought up not too!I am well over 50 but have been questioning for quite sometime, to the point that I am not so sure one would call me an SDA anymore. I have been questioned on that subject by a close relative!!


This is an excellent article. I didn’t hear the Summit but think this writer is making the best response on the subject I have read. It could be applied to many other church beliefs as well.


:slightly_smiling_face: 20 characters can be too many.

Thank you for posting this response. Here I was an over 60 Adventist thinking that I was the only one now holding those “settled” SDA beliefs loosely.


I have only one slight quibble with the author, and it is more in the form of a question. Aside from this one aspect, I concur with everyone that this was an excellent discussion and summation of the more typical SDA approach to uncomfortable discussions. Now to my question/quibble. I wonder where you got the notion that Adventists have "the nickname ‘people of the book’'? I suspect we gave ourselves that nickname. I have been unable to find any evidence of anyone else outside of Adventism calling us “people of the book”. If you actually look up the term on line it has two main meanings: 1. People of the Abrahamic religions - Jews, Christians, Muslims. 2. People of Islam - this is again a self imposed title that Islam gives to itself.
Regardless of my slight quibble, I completely concur our need to be open to study, data, discussion, and respectful disagreement. Thank you for an excellent article.


It seems to me that most of western philosophy and religions are overly obsessed with logic.

This despite the fact that there is nothing other than subjectivity to explain why we prefer logic over chaos.

To say “rational thought is just logical” is tautological and explains nothing.

Thus, a very good case can be made that modern society would be best served by admitting its essentially subjectivity and realizing that it is not nearly emotional enough.

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