A self-defeating (or self-refuting) statement is one that fails to meet its own standard. In other words, it is a statement that cannot live up to its own criteria. Imagine if I were to say,
I cannot speak a word in English.
You intuitively see a problem here. I told you in English that I cannot speak a word in English. This statement is self-refuting. It does not meet its own standard or criteria. It self-destructs.
The important thing to remember with self-defeating statements is that they are necessarily false. In other words, there is no possible way for them to be true. This is because they violate a very fundamental law of logic, the law of non-contradiction. This law states that A and non-A cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense. For example, it is not possible for God to exist and not exist at the same time and in the same sense. This would violate the law of non-contradiction. So if I were to say, “God told me He doesn’t exist” you would see intuitively the obvious self-refuting nature of this statement.
Aaron goes on to explain how to deal with self-refuting statements in the article.
Here are 20 examples of self-refutation, just to encourage you to click through and read it:
1. There is no truth.
2. You can’t know truth.
3. No one has the truth.
4. All truth is relative.
5. It’s true for you but not for me.
6. There are no absolutes.
7. No one can know any truth about religion.
8. You can’t know anything for sure.
9. You should doubt everything.
10. Only science can give us truth.
11. You can only know truth through experience.
12. All truth depends on your perspective.
13. You shouldn’t judge.
14. You shouldn’t force your morality on people.
15. You should live and let live.
16. God doesn’t take sides.
17. You shouldn’t try to convert people.
18. That’s just your view.
19. You should be tolerant of all views.
20. It is arrogant to claim to have the truth.
Aaron explains how to respond to each of those! Read them all – it’s important to know, because you hear these all the time. Like from that Susan Stone person who comments here.
By the way, anyone with a Twitter account, the best person to follow on Twitter is J Warner Wallace (@plsconvinceme). He tweets about 10-15 apologetics items per day.