If you don’t know about Brian Niemeier’s “Witch Test,” here’s a succinct rundown of it:
The response to this is to say:
Proclaim that Jesus is the Christ, and God has raised Him from the dead!
The resulting discussion can go a number of different ways. It’s called the “Witch Test” because a witch will be unable to proclaim the divinity of Christ. This isn’t to say it always identifies real honest-to-goodness witches, but it is useful.
Recently I’ve had some people push back on the use of this, attempting to say it is some sort of logical fallacy. It is not. It is, in fact, completely logical, but much more importantly, it is strategically sound. I’m writing this blog post partially as a shorthand for future objections I know will come from some people on “my side” (the Optimate side, or our allies on “the right”).
The Logic of the Witch Test
Very simply, the smug fellow is executing a logical fallacy in evoking Christ or any part of the Bible while disbelieving it.
He’s arguing from a premise he “knows” to be false. You cannot infer truth from a false premise. This is logic 101 (which I say in jest – if you actually took logic 101 at a university you might totally miss this point). Logic is a process, so if you know the inputs are false, the outputs cannot be said to be true, regardless of the soundness of the inference.
The which test simply jumps over any argument about what the bible really says and jumps straight to the premises that the “witch” is arguing from. If the accuser proclaims the divinity of Christ, only then can you consider a dialectical argument about theology, ethics, or any part of Christian-derived morality (which, if we are honest, is pretty much the whole of morality in the West).
To put it this way, here’s an argument from a false premise:
Zebras are blue.
Michelle is a Zebra.
Therefore, Michelle is blue.
The conclusion is false because the first premise is false, not because of a flaw in the inference. The witch will say:
Christ said you should be nice or something.
You are a christian.
Therefore, you should be nice or something.
If he doesn’t believe in Christ, the first premise is, from his perspective false. Either Christ didn’t exist, or else he has no moral authority, which means the conclusion cannot be said to be true. He himself doesn’t believe it. You cannot argue both for and against an authority.
It really doesn’t matter if you accept the first premise, the accuser does not, therefore he is arguing in bad faith and being dishonest. It’s sophistry, and more importantly, an attempt to control you.
The Strategy of the Witch Test
People on “the right” are frequently fans of the dialectic – the mode of conversation that focuses on logic and truth. They always want to take conversations to the dialectic, even when the origin is in the pseudo-dialectic or rhetorical realm.
Anyone who doesn’t believe in the divinity of Christ and evokes his authority is automatically NOT operating in the dialectic.
They aren’t interested in truth, hence why they are lying with their false, bad-faith arguments. You are not required to be polite or to operate in the dialectic in the face of dishonest rhetoric. More than that, it’s pointless to try to be a super-smart logical guy when your opponents don’t care about the logic to begin with. You must understand this!
The Witch Test to that end is a sound strategic tool. It quickly moves the conversation out of the pseudo-dialectic of the dishonest argument and into the dialectic (theology) or into the rhetorical (Blocked for witchery!).
Either way, you are moving the conversation away from where the witch is strong, in the fluid words of the post-modern world, and to where you are strong, in the spiritual (or even dialectic) realm. Once you take the battle to the spiritual realm, you will see just how hallow and weak the witch really is.
Think of the eagle and the snake. The eagle does not fight the snake on the ground, where the snake is powerful, but grabs hold of the snake and flies to the sky, where he is powerful, and all he need do is drop the snake to kill it.
More people on the “right” need to understand strategic thinking and implement it. Remember that the left doesn’t care about truth, it only cares about attaining victory over you, and if it can convince you to alter your behavior through manipulation, it is happy to do so.
Symmetry is important. If you are going to lean on the moral authority of God, then you should, just like me, believe He is a moral authority to begin with. If you don’t, you’re just liar. A witch.
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