Archive | February, 2014

Logical Gal and False Analogies

5 Feb

I heard a great example of a false analogy today.  The discussion between an atheist and a Christian centered on whether or not there was an afterlife.

The atheist asserted:

“The likelihood of there being a heaven or hell is  as probable as my chance of spotting a unicorn or winning the lottery.  It ain’t going to happen!” 

So what’s a False Analogy?  It’s more properly called a WEAK analogy.  Analogies are neither true nor false.  They range and fall out on a continuum of being helpful……..all the way to what you might call ‘stretching it’!  Equivocal terms often strip them of any validity.

Consider this description that I just made up:

Students are like leaky containers – you pour into both of them and very little sticks!

What this statement assumes is that because students and leaky containers share ONE attribute (they are both empty of something), they are similar in other areas, too!

In that case as well as in the picture below, the differences are far more important.

Often people make the claim that all religions are basically the same because they all teach The Golden Rule:

While it is true that they may all hold out kindness as a virtue, what makes them DIFFER, one from each other,  is far more important.

Let’s revisit my example at the top regarding the likelihood of an afterlife.  In searching an apt comparison as an illustration, the one man tried to link unicorn sightings to lottery winnings. He claimed that the chance of winning the lottery was akin to the number of occasions he might spot a unicorn.  But the analogy is completely weak because there ARE lottery winners.  Contrariwise, unicorns have NEVER been spotted.

So the next time someone attempts to lay a False or Weak Analogy on you, just ask him or her to explain it to you.  In all likelihood, they won’t be able to. Many people just ‘spout’ and assert without really thinking about what they are saying.

Question: What is an example of this False Analogy Fallacy that YOU have encountered?

Logical Gal tackles ‘Thou Shalt Not Judge!’

3 Feb

I’ve heard it said that the most famous Bible verse that even non-Christians quote from memory is John 3:16 because it is so often held up, painted on signs at football games. But ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged!’ from Matthew 7:1 is quickly overtaking the former in that category, given  our climate of tolerance.

Since we live in a topsy-turvy world where what society used to regard as  unthinkable is now ‘de rigeur’ or normal, we tend to tiptoe around evil and sin so a not to OFFEND anyone.

But come on, people!  America is a federal republic governed by a constitution with written, id est, legal protections of rights such as freedom of speech!

So what DOES a truth-loving, logic-valuing gal or guy do when clobbered with, “YOU CAN’T JUDGE ME!”

We do what Greg Koukl teaches: pull out a question and lay it on the one who made that claim. Here are some possibilities to get you started:

  • Why is that?
  • What do you think we are not supposed to judge?
  • The quote says that we can’t judge unless we’re willing to be judged.  What if I accept that condition?
  • What does it mean – to judge?

Actually there is even a Bible verse we can gently lob back to them – one that will REALLY start them thinking (the whole point of engaging with them!)

John 7:24 quotes Jesus as exhorting us:  Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.

I love that!  It brings us back to common sense and correct Bible reading.  The Bible is FULL of standards and judgments.  Only those who have never read God’s Word are those who think they own Matthew 7:1.

A reason for the blockage and misunderstanding regarding judging comes from not understanding how a court system works.

Just from a year of daily informal logic lessons my 7th graders learned to spot fallacies with glee!  When we examined the Appeal to Pity fallacy, we talked about where MERCY fits into a court case.  Many people inaccurately think that someone is either ruled guilty or they’re shown mercy.  That’s a category error.  A judge and/or jury must first RULE on the guilt or innocence of the defendant.  Is he guilty or innocent of the charge against him?  Once THAT judgment is made, then we can talk about what sentencing is appropriate.

What, then, are the judge’s choices in sentencing?  He can either give a just or fair punishment to fit the crime OR he can show MERCY.

Those who juxtapose guilt against mercy have it wrong.  First determine guilt or innocence, and then consider mercy.  Remember that Jesus had no qualms judging the woman caught in adultery.  She WAS guilty. Her action WAS wrong and against the law.  She, as well as everyone else, knew that.  She deserved stoning which was the pre-determined punishment.  But Jesus chose to show mercy.  He sequenced the events correctly.

So stealing, lying, envy, sex outside of a married heterosexual covenant ARE wrong according to God’s word.  We don’t have to apologize for the standard or the judgment. Stop cringing about Truth!  You have nothing to feel ashamed about in acknowledging standards.  But show mercy when appropriate, for you, too desire mercy, don’t you?