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Posts Tagged ‘logical fallacies’

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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An interesting question came up when I was with friends the other day.  We were demonstrating unfair arguments to use when fighting.  Most people, at least the married ones, I guess, have heard the rule not to bring up old fights when you’re talking about a present conflict.  But this is even more important.  Don’t bring mothers into it. 

As if in-law relations are not already touchy enough, and as though a wife does not already feel the contrast she makes to the mother of her husband, why go and use these sainted women as part of your argument?  Example: Your mother is crazy!  You’re just like her.  Or the slightly better: Your mother is crazy; at least you aren’t as bad as her! 

Can’t you just sense the bristling tempers when you provoke an opponent by insulting their mother?  I have a sense of indignation and no one has even directed these comments at me or my mother. 

There are – you’ll learn something here, I promise – Latin phrases describing invalid arguments and logical fallacies, commonly used in debate.  Latin used to be used a lot more when the French were more popular (they introduced most of the Latin roots to English), and old books and the intelligentsia still boast the incomprehensible (literally) attribute of italicized foreign phrases and words that no one in the world uses any more.  They may have presented important concepts concisely and memorably, but not memorable enough, since I do not know them. 

One phrase still in use is ad hominem.  This is, as I understand it, when you attack the person and not their argument.  If I am speaking to a dunce and he is arguing that two plus two is four, I cannot point to him and criticize his intelligence to win the argument.  Two plus two will still be four.  Truth is not relative to the deliverer.  Anyway, the official definition for ad hominem is:  “asserting that an argument is wrong and/or the source is wrong to argue at all purely because of something discreditable/not-authoritative about the source or those sources cited by it rather than addressing the soundness of the argument itself.”  Wikipedia says so.  Now, you cannot fairly argue that simply because Wikipedia has an in-credible reputation, we must reject its definition.  Nor can you say that I am ugly, and thus it is impossible for me to correctly communicate the definition. 

The mother-attack reminded me of this fallacy, ad hominem, so I looked up at my friend, who is a genius, and, assuming he knew Latin, being a genius, asked him to alter the phrase to represent source attack mother variety.  However, he is also a computer genius, and did the highly intelligent thing: Google.  (You’ve no idea how entertained I am that all these urban-knowledge websites are occurring in this article!)  Apparently, we are not the first to desire a name for this ridiculous habit of insulting mothers in an attempt to win an argument.  Suggestions for the Latin fallacy are:

“ad mominem” codified at the (content advisory) Urban Dictionary.   

ad urmomumYou might want to read this whole article. 

 I don’t know why we use italics for foreign phrases.  Google reveals merely that it is conventional and thus stylistically correct, but nothing more.  Latin and Italics, I am interested to note, both claim Italy as their home country. 

This is mostly irrelevant, but came up as I followed my friend’s research.  What are those P’s and Q’s we’re supposed to mind?  

Didn’t you learn something? 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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