The “Judge Not” Fallacies

Increasingly popular in the United States is the notion that it is morally (or perhaps otherwise) wrong to “judge” others.  And akin to this notion is the notion that it is also wrong to judge anything else.  I have been instructed, at one time or another, that any of the following activities are inappropriate:

  • Calling someone a tyrant or a scoundrel, or anything of the like, even if his actions are tyrannical or evil.
  • Calling someone who tells lies a liar.
  • Opining that a bad teacher is a bad teacher and expecting that he be fired.
  • Calling a cheater a cheater, especially in the company of his friends.
  • Demanding that a church ought not teach something that is demonstrably false.
  • Calling a person who says one thing and then does another a hypocrite.
  • Calling a stupid argument a stupid argument.

This kind of activity is increasingly taboo in our society.  But it gets even trickier than this.  For example, I have been instructed that it is also inappropriate for a person to:

  • Point out or discuss the bad behavior of someone whose skin color is different from yours.
  • Point out the habitual and customary cultural flaws of some other culture than your own.
  • Discuss the hardship caused to you by being taxed to support entitlements paid to others.
  • Discuss the massive failure of our “education system” to educate.
  • Point out that the lion’s share of our national war activity does more harm than good.
  • Suggest that capital punishment could be an effective way of removing from our society a good deal of the criminal behavior that so plagues and threatens us.

Things like these, I have learned, are also wrong.  And yet it gets even worse, for I am further instructed that it is wrong to:

  • Believe in “truth”.
  • Believe that there is any truth that is always true.
  • Make any assertion without including a disclaimer such as, “I think…” or “In my opinion” or “Just my two cents”.
  • Call anybody else’s assertion into question, as if one could possibly know better than another.
  • Think one has discovered a better way to do something than someone else is doing it.
  • Try to make anything more than the most superficial of improvements to any institution.
  • Expect others to correct their own errors.
  • Call others to account for their bad behavior.
  • Believe that one has got the right answer to something or other.
  • Call another to defend his opinions and assertions.

Well, I could write a whole book on judging, truth, tolerance, and logic, but I don’t have time for that right now, so I’ll just be blunt here and cut to the chase.

First of all, to you people who believe that there is no such thing as truth and/or that no person ought lay claim to it:

Are you nuts?!  You break your own rule every time you wag your finger at others!  Indeed, you cannot utter the words “Nobody knows the truth” without violating your own paradigm in stating as much.  And similarly, when you say, “There is no truth”, are you not uttering an absolute?  Further, you commit the colossal blunder when you pose the pompous question of whether “absolute truth” exists, as if there were any other kind.

Could there possibly be a more self-contradictory doctrine than this?  Yet you folks continue to believe that you have a better view of reality than everyone else—which again, breaks your own rule. 

Further, let me state that I have never once met an honest person who does not believe in truth.  Not one.  They are most typically liars and blowhards whose assertions are but an excuse for their own intellectual, rational, and moral weaknesses.  They are mental cowards who lack the fortitude and humility to dare to get it right.  They boast the freedom to disagree adamantly with another, and yet pretend to be free from any moral obligation to defend those assertions with fact, logic, and sources.  Thus do they play Toto to their own Wizard, pulling back the curtain for us to see the true mechanisms of their hypocrisy, for they readily take others to task and then hide behind the puffed-up notion that they themselves are exempt from having to give an account for their own mental work.  They can dish it out, as the saying goes, but they cannot take it.  

They pretend to take the moral high road when they pepper their assertions with “In my opinion”, yet the reality of their own “truths” are superior to those of everyone else, and that anyone who says otherwise is a mere idiot.  While they may occasionally endeavor to “prove” their position, they never realize the profundity of their own foolishness as they go about the world brazenly asserting that it is an absolute truth that no absolutes exist.

So this is all the argument that need be made against you folks,  for you yourselves disprove your own premises.  I could offer a thousand other proofs, but if you won’t abide this primary argument, why entertain you with more of the same?

Second, for you Christians who believe that Jesus taught it was wrong to “judge”, you need to start by learning how to read the Bible in an honest and reasonable fashion.  Here’s the beginning of the passage that is so popularly abused today.

Matthew 7: 1.  “Judge not, that you be not judged.

Let us notice right off the bat that it goes considerably beyond the first two words.  I say this because many stop at “Judge not”, paying no attention to the rest of Jesus’ saying, and assuming that all judging is wrong.  What they miss, however, is that Jesus was counseling his followers to adopt the proper standard for judgment, noting that they will be judged themselves by whatever standard they choose by which to judge others.  Here it is in the very next verse:

2.  “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

Further, in the dialog that continues, Jesus makes it clear that he expects them to be able to judge many things.  They are supposed to be able to tell:

  • A “speck” from a “plank”
  • What is “holy”
  • Who is a “dog”
  • What is a “pearl”
  • Who is “swine”
  • The difference between “bread” and a “stone”
  • The difference between a “fish” and a “serpent”
  • The difference between a “narrow gate” and a “wide gate”
  • The difference between “destruction” and “life”
  • The difference between a “false prophet” and a real one.
  • The difference between a “ravenous wolf”….”in sheep’s clothing” and a real sheep
  • The difference between “grapes” and “thorns”
  • The difference between a “vine” and a “thistle”
  • The difference between “good fruit” and “bad fruit”
  • What is “lawlessness”
  • The difference between “rock” and sand”.

Don’t believe me?  Read the passage for yourselves here:  And then keep reading all the way through the New Testament where you’ll see Christians judging and being called to judge between truth and falsehood, good and evil, what was of God and what was of Satan, who was “immoral”, who was “divisive”, who was “lazy”, and on and on.

So if you believe that Christianity was meant to be a religion of “not judging”, you’ve been sold quite a bill of goods—and probably by someone who would really like you not to judge his or her behavior!

And here’s another idea to take home for your later pondering:  how come you say “Judge not! Judge not!” and then you constantly go about making positive judgments about people and things?  You say, “he’s a godly man” and “you did a great job” and “that’s a really good family movie”.  Is judging only wrong when applied to bad behaviors and qualities?

Then you turn right around and point a finger at someone else for judging an evildoer as an evil person.  When you do this, do you not realize that you are judging him as a judger?  Call me crazy, but this is flat-out hypocrisy, is it not?  And senseless, too, as if were possible to acknowledge good without acknowledging evil at the same time.  Was this not the lesson learned in the Garden of Eden?  How is it that you now pretend to know but half of it?

Truth is a one-liner, folks.  When it gets “complicated”, you can be sure that something is amiss.  And truth has nothing whatsoever to do with belief, just as a bajillion people believing in a flat earth would not have one iota of effect on the actual facts of the matter.

Interestingly, many Christians do poorly with truth because, while they continue to uphold the notion of truth in the most general sense, they have never done the doctrinal “math” necessary to understand or to explain their own individual doctrines in a logical, consistent, and thorough fashion.  They prefer to believe primarily in the whole “wall”, and only secondarily in the individual “bricks” that comprise it. Thus do they lack the mental fortitude to judge whether a specific brick in that wall ought to be there or not.

Therefore, when someone else wants to argue against a particular tenet of theirs, it is all too easy to view that person as an enemy of the whole wall (and every brick in it) rather than as an inquisitor on some specific point.   Thus can Christians easily be as dishonest as anyone else, by lumping their beliefs and doctrines into a whole and pretending that none of them are in need of specific explanation or analysis.  I have seen this happen countless times, in all brands of churches.

And this behavior is by no means limited to religion; it fills the ranks of every endeavor known to man, including science, government, politics, history, law, education, commerce, medicine, and even atheism.  One of the easiest ways, it seems, to open up a can of vitriol today is to challenge a sect-honored notion with the actual fact, logic, or sourcing of the matter.

America does not love truth much, else ours would be a different society.  For us, “judge not” is not some philosophical system of belief that we have derived from careful and reasonable study, but merely the practical equivalent of “get off me”.  People want you not to judge anybody because you might next be judging them.  And people who proclaim that “there is no truth” are normally the ones who are deathly afraid of the truth about themselves.  Do you see a relationship between the two?  I sure do.

The really ironic thing here, of course, is that people who are concerned with becoming excellent actually flourish both from judging and from being judged.  Similarly, people who believe in truth are the most likely to be improved by it.  Both truth and judgment cut both ways; the one who should be least trusted to wield such an instrument is the one who bears no scars from it himself, for he cannot have handled it long without being cut himself unless he is incorrigible.

I’ve had thousands of discussions with people on the truth of various matters, and as a result, I have been “cut” a great many times. Thus do I bear little resemblance to my former self in a great many respects, and I am now embarrassed by many of my previous beliefs.  Many things about which I was once adamant have since been abandoned for better, sounder facts and ideas.  And there’s plenty more where that came from.  I continue to survey my beliefs and my lingering questions as I study new material and re-study the old.

Many consider such people to be immoral, as if no one who wasn’t full of himself would ever disturb other people with notions those people would rather not entertain.  They fail to recognize, however, that the eyes of some, the excellence is in the truth itself.  They think it wrong to that an idea could be so excellent as to justify the risk of offending another with it, but rather than to view the situation as it is, they choose to pretend that those who correct them are driven by noting more than conceit.

While my own journey is far from complete, of this one thing I am certain: it is a kindness to call things as they are.  For every time someone has had the courage to set me straight, I am thankful.  And for every time someone else has done it for me, I have set myself straight many times over on account of things I have discovered through persistent study and reflection.  I do this because I see truth as a viable and worthy way of life.  I embrace the love of truth as a philosophy that is meritorious in its own right and I hold to the insane notion that self correction is the rightful duty of mankind.

If anyone can disprove the facts or logic presented in this article, let him come forward for the record and do so.  He will most likely prefer, of course, to sit smugly back, claiming no obligation to engage the matter—congratulating himself on his own magnanimity while silently stabbing at the truth from within his heart.  And this he will call “not judging”.


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