My definition of overstating your case is those times when you are in a conversation and in presenting your argument or assertion you make a strong statement you cannot adequately support. At times we are either trying to give the impression we have more evidence than we have or dismissing the possibility the other person might be right. Many times the material is presented with an arrogant and smug attitude. An example would be to state “Everyone knows the Bible is loaded with contradictions.” The use of “everyone” is a classic overstatement because there are many Biblical scholars who have solid evidence to the contrary. Or every scientist in the world believes Darwinian evolution is true. There are many scientists worldwide who think it has fatal flaws that seem to be hard to imagine ever being overturned.
Here are some of the reasons I find people overstate their case.
- They received the information from a source they agreed with and never investigated whether it would stand up to counter arguments. This person presents his case and is immediately shot down with evidence or a solid philosophical refutation.
- The person presents a series of opinions and feels this was enough to destroy the other person’s position. What this person doesn’t realize is opinions are not arguments. When this person is challenged he struggles to give an adequate answer.
- They are in the discussion to destroy the other person’s beliefs. They arrogantly come on strong trying to prove how much they know and to make you give up.
In this mini-series I will try to help you understand how to avoid overstating your case. I will give some classic examples of overstating your case. Finally, I will show how we can challenge belief systems appropriately.
One of the ways I avoid overstating my case is I use “if – then” statements in my conversations. I have been challenged by atheists on the issue of the birth of Jesus. They’ll say something like this, “Are you telling me you believe in a virgin birth?” They think I must be whacked because I believe Jesus was born of a virgin. My answer goes something like this; “If I believe in God as the creator of the universe and all creatures big and small, then believing God can miraculously produce a child via a virgin birth is a piece of cake. A virgin birth is easy when compared to creating something as complex as humans who can think, act, communicate and reproduce after their own kind. If God is the creator of all of mankind, then what’s your problem with a virgin birth?”
When I use “if – then” statements it takes the edge off my argument. I am not trying to force something down the person’s throat. I also acknowledge that if God doesn’t exist then virgin births are impossible. In this way I am not overstating my case.