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Posts Tagged ‘logic’

I don’t know how to start this subject.  Let me try to tell a story.  We’ll see how that goes.

There is sunshine, but the air is thin and cold.  A wide open street on the edge of the old Stapleton Airport campus in east Denver invites the wind.  I stand a few feet into the street, for several reasons.  From there I can see past the cars parked on the curb, to quickly profile cars coming down the block from either direction.  I’m away from unwelcome shade provided by the black tarps draping the encircling fence.  And I can see my friends’ faces from their perch at the top of a couple ladders.
Cars parked on the curb function as easels to signs bigger than I am.  The wind sneaks under the vehicles, between tires, and swirls to drag down larger-than-life graphic images of aborted children.  The pictures show blood and entrails.  Decapitation.  Tongs holding body parts.  Tiny feet and hands held in the gloved hand of a medical professional.  Still babies curled up, skin blackened by unnatural death.  I don’t like to look at those signs.
But I pick them up when they blow down.  I help set them out each morning I sidewalk counsel.  Without them those who drive by wonder what we’re doing.  We don’t look serious.
In my few years’ experience sidewalk counseling, I have noticed that men and women planning to abort their sons and daughters are not very rational.  We can take any verbal approach to explaining why abortion will not solve their problems, and they walk in anyway.  Sometimes they even respond, revealing the level of their irrationality.
They’ll tell us to go save starving children in Africa, for example.  As if the fact that children are dying somewhere else makes it ok to intentionally kill them here, and I should say nothing about it.  Pro-choice people will argue that if a baby was conceived through rape, the baby should die.  But if a 20-year-old was conceived in rape, they should not be aborted.
We talk about heartbeats and fingers and toes, DNA, and blood type.  Abortion has been linked to increased risk for breast cancer, depression, and infertility.  Planned Parenthood wants their money, and we’re out there as volunteers, offering free help.  If they can’t keep the baby, they could choose adoption.  Women are made to nurture, not murder their kids.  Men are made to protect, not destroy life.  Why get your healthcare from people who think it is healthy to pull the arms and legs off of babies?  God hates the hands that shed innocent blood, and without turning to Jesus, the parents and staff must give an account to God for the lives they took.
But before they hear any of that, they see the pictures.  For a moment their irrational thoughts cannot even pretend to refute a picture.  It wakens an instant emotion: disgust, fear, compassion – that no words can wipe away.  Faced with images of death, no desperate thoughts of boyfriends or fathers or college degrees or finances can compare.  They drive on by.  They get out of their cars.  They hear sidewalk counselors through tarps and from ladders.
Honestly, the words we say are only the follow up.  We make eye contact and speak up to plead for the lives of the babies.  Sidewalk counselors cry out the warnings women will not hear inside.  Those women who think they have no other choice hear our voices letting them know that we offer help.
This week a woman rode by our signs, instantly crying.  She and her partner pulled into the parking lot but stayed in their car.  We stood on the ladders, trying to make eye contact in their rear-view mirrors.  And then the couple drove out, stopping for a moment to let us know they had changed their mind.  We gave them information on where to get free help, and sent them on their way.
Some pro-life groups and even sidewalk counselors protest the use of graphic signs.  But those that use them report that more people have testified that they changed their minds because of those pictures than for any other reason.  They see the pictures and cannot go through with an abortion.
Four kinds of people see those graphic signs, our strongest argument against the choice of ending a brand new human life.
  1. Pro-lifers see them.  We are reminded of the reality sterilized by large brick buildings prettily landscaped.  It is hard sometimes, watching staff drive in nonchalant and unconcerned by the carnage a few rooms away, to be convinced that cruel murder takes place behind those doors.
  2. The staff sees them.  Some of the staff witness actual abortions.  I wouldn’t imagine the signs have much effect on them (except in that they expose to the world what they do every day).  But other staff does paperwork and counseling and escorting.  Perhaps their hearts will be softened when they see what they are supporting.
  3. Customers who are not pregnant see them.  A few women stop by for birth control or STD testing or other gynecological procedures.  Before they are in a desperate situation, pregnant and emotional, they have been exposed to the gruesome facts of “choice.”
  4. Mothers and fathers with appointments see them.  There are a lot of efforts to prevent them from even reaching this point.  Government programs attempt to teach people what they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies.  Christian ministries offer help to pregnant moms with counsel and physical aid.  Friends are out there offering support for keeping the baby, praying for the women they know or don’t know.  But if this mom slipped through the cracks or chose to come anyway, there are two last efforts: unmistakable graphic signs and people who care enough to try to stop her up until the last minute.
A lot of people in these groups think illogically.  They don’t understand consequences.  They act on emotional impulses, and practice very little self-control.  That’s why graphic signs are more effective: they bypass reason and appeal to emotion.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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The post-modern world is rather fond of saying that there are no absolutes. A logical counter to this is to ask the relativist whether his statement about absolutes is absolute. He is in the difficult position of refuting his own claim whenever he states it. In rational debates this breaks the law of non-contradiction.

For several years, since reading Christian apologists like CS Lewis and Ravi Zacharias, I have been convinced that there is only one internally consistent worldview, and that is the biblical worldview. All other explanations of reason and existence cut the ground out from under themselves. Either the beliefs themselves are self-refuting, like the man who tried to disprove the existence of air; he was using air as he tried to deny it; or they reduce to absurdities; or they never really deal with the fundamental questions, but rely on borrowed but unadmitted presuppositions from other worldviews. In the final case, we consider their beliefs to be arbitrary, rather than rational.

My explanation could not have been termed with such clarity without first reading Dr. Jason Lisle’s new book, The Ultimate Proof of Creation. Creationists have plenty of evidence for the biblical history of the world. They have evidence contradicting the evolutionary and uniformitarian theories of origins. Bible-believing scientists are even doing real science all the time (science of observation and technological advancement to improve our lives), just as they have done for thousands of years. None of these things convinces a man committed to a naturalist worldview. But no naturalist can debate against the Bible, for evolution, or conduct science of his own without assuming things that can only be true if the things the Bible teaches are true. This is the ultimate proof, to engage skeptics on their worldview.

This method has several advantages. First, it keeps in mind that the motive for Christian apologetics is to glorify God and to invite non-Christians to be saved. Thoughtful meekness is what the Bible directs us to have when responding to critics. The Bible also teaches that if we do not live consistently with our beliefs, our critics have reason to ridicule us and those beliefs. Consistency is a biblical tactic.

Second, the Bible does give instructions for debate. Dr. Jason Lisle has applied two verses in Proverbs to his debating style. Do not let a skeptic convince you to fight on neutral ground when the question you are debating is inherently about the reliability of your ground as opposed to all others. For a Christian to abandon, for the sake of argument, his belief in God and dependence on the account of the Bible, is to surrender before he has even lifted his sword. But we can do an internal critique of the skeptic’s position, making apparent where he contradicts himself or leaves questions unanswered.

Third, and I really appreciate this one, a Christian apologist using these techniques does not need to be a PhD or have memorized an encyclopedia of scientific evidence for Creation. Creation science is valid and interesting, but not every believer is called to that kind of knowledge of the world as he is called to give a reason for the hope that is in him and to preach the gospel to every creature. In my experience, it is great for a philosophical person like me to team up with someone who knows a lot of facts, and to tag-team a discussion. Or I could practice a bit more so that I can have some representative cases of creationism scientifically supported.

The Ultimate Proof of Creation is an interesting book on logic and worldviews, exciting as I think of applying it. Think of watching the Discovery Channel and being able to identify the worldview being used, the presuppositions made, and the logical fallacies committed. This book enables you to do that. Or it can help when you’re trying to stay focused when witnessing to a friend who doubts the Bible. Learn to find ways to tie all questions into a question of faith: do you accept the ultimate standard of God, who created you – or do you reject Him and therefore all that depends on Him (including your will and rationality)?

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

The Ultimate Proof of Creation

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Old-Earth Creationism on Trial: The Verdict is In, by Dr. Jason Lisle and Tim Chaffey

In about 200 pages (including footnotes and appendices), the authors present a case to Bible-affirming Christians for young earth creationism.  They follow the rules of logic and point out some commonly applied logical fallacies which they are avoiding.  Topics range from biblical interpretation of Genesis’ creation and flood accounts, descriptions and simple refutations of alternate interpretations (day-age theory, gaps in genealogies, local flood), to a short discussion of the scientific evidence “for” and against an old earth. 

The authors, Dr. Jason Lisle and Tim Chaffey, emphasize the importance of using the Bible as our foundation for science.  Because of this commitment they are able to present a consistent cosmogony and worldview, but they are not in this book writing to skeptics or people of other religions.  Though Old-Earth Creationism on Trial argues that a biblical foundation is the only scientific starting point that is not self-defeating, and therefore the best approach to combating erroneous theories, their objective in this book is to encourage and challenge Christians.   

Through a short examination of history, the authors prove that young-earth creationism is not a reaction to biological evolution, but that it has been the majority interpretation of the church (and plainest reading of Genesis) for thousands of years before Darwin wrote Origin of Species.  In fact, a portion of the church had begun to compromise on the age of the earth earlier in the 19th century.  Thus the debate inside the church has been going on for about 200 years. 

One of my favorite parts of this easy-to-read reference book was the use of Proverbs 26:4-5, which says: “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.”  Therefore, to be consistent in our own position, we do not have to grant the false assumptions of our opponents in order to debate them.  However, it is a valid debate technique to point out the fallacy of their assumptions by showing their logical conclusions (which can be proven to be false).  This is the format, in fact, of the whole book. 

 

Compared to Coming to Grips with Genesis, Old-Earth Creationism on Trial covers most of the same information in a more concise and layman-friendly format.  The authors also do a good job of focusing on the age of the earth (and universe) question, without going too far into the associated questions of biological evolution.  Christians are discouraged from accepting naturalism and uniformitarianism, even in conjunction with other biblical beliefs.  The book is a strong polemic against these two philosophies, which both underlie the theories of evolution. 

 

Old-Earth Creationism on Trial: The Verdict is In

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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