by Donald Ingram
Original title: GENERALIZATIONS
When do generalizations become principles?
We use the term generalization in a general way when we mean generally, this what happens, generally. We use the term to emphasize that there are few exceptions. The “fact” of evolution is a generalization. At first we call it the “theory” of evolution, to allow that we don’t know it all; but as we gather more and more consistent evidence that coincides with the theory, our understanding evolves from theory to fact. In fact we can become so convinced of our theory we belittle anyone who challenges it.
One the things I admired about my father is that he did not use special emphasis to make his point. He would rarely belittle my character or use swear words. He simply stated it like it was, and if you hadn’t paid close attention, you wouldn’t have realized just how fundamentally true his statements were. “Underspoken”, I believe, is the term that applies here.
Contrast that with my friends who must emphasize the importance of their point of view and opposition to mine with swear words and denigrating terms and implications of ignorance and poor logic.
Contrast popular debates, such as the political debates, with the decorum of college debates. Political debates verses collegiate debates have a parallel in “professional” wrestling verses college wrestling. Somehow, when it becomes something that affects our lives directly, we go for the no-holds-barred, tooth-and-nail, all-out fight, as opposed to the academic straightjacket of taking turns and responding directly to questions and sticking to the theme of the debate.
It has been said that when one’s logic begins to fail, one must attack the opposition’s character. Pop often accused Mom of being emotional rather than logical.
It is best not to have ourselves so invested in a concept that we cannot stand it aside and talk about it without feeling personally attacked. If a concept is really true, then we should invest ourselves in it, and should fight for it; however, if a concept is really true, it will also stand on its own foundations and lend itself to close examination.
For instance, I truly believe in the Creator, All-knowing, All-powerful, Loving God; the God of Truth. (I don’t always do what He wants me to – I ask Him to help me in that.) To have someone trash the word “God” or “Christian” gives me cause to bristle with anger, but I realize that, for one thing, they don’t know what they are talking about, and for another, it isn’t me they are fighting, its Someone who holds the key to their present and future, Someone who told Paul, “Why are you kicking against the pricks?” (di: “Why are you hurting yourself?”)
God can defend Himself. He does so every day in every way, and usually in a very calm and reasonable way. A still, small voice, so to speak. But we, the body politic, we want Him to appear to us with thunder and lightning! We want burning bushes and frightening miracles! We want Superman! And if we won’t listen to the still, small voice, we will get thunder and lightning, but by then, it will be too late.