Self-refutation – Self-refuting statements are those that basically deny themselves. They are self-contradictory in their very nature.
In his article “Four Self-Refuting Statements Heard on College CampusesAcross America,” J. Warner Wallace gives this example: “It’s intolerant to presume that your view is better than someone else’s’” / “Tolerance requires us to accept all views equally” and follows with this explanation: An even more hidden self-refuting statement lurks here in this common errant definition of tolerance. Folks who hold to this corrupted view say they accept all views as equally true. But if you make the claim that some ideas are patently false and have less value than others, they will quickly reject your statement. In other words, they will accept any view as equally valuable except your claim that some views are not equally valuable. See the inconsistency? People who embrace this definition of tolerance cannot consistently implement their own view of tolerance.
Matt Slick in his article, “Refuting Relativism” gives this example, “There are no absolute truths.” And this explanation: The statement "There are no absolute truths" is an absolute statement which is supposed to be true. Therefore, it is an absolute truth and "There are no absolute truths" is false.
John Frame in his article, “Self-Refuting Statements,” lists a number of examples including this one: Logical contradictions, such as “Socrates is mortal and Socrates is not mortal.” If the two occurrences of mortal in this sentence are predicated of Socrates at the same time and in the same respect, then the sentence cannot be true. The first clause refutes the second, and vice versa.
If you would like to examine some self-refuting elements in various world views check out: Ten Arguments from Self-refutingworldviews at the blog, 101 Arguments.
Can you think of any self-refuting statements that you may use or have heard?
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