Archive | April, 2014

Logical Gal and Syllogisms everywhere

7 Apr

Bird Syllogism

I don’t always see what is right in front of my eyes.  It’s that common experience that occurs when you notice what was present  all along.

Today I was reading the last sentence of the book of Judges in the Bible.  It goes like this: There was no king in Israel.  Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.  (Judges 21:25)

The commentary mentioned that the author of the book meant to communicate Israel’s need for a king who was powerful enough to enforce God’s laws.  Had I not read that explicit conclusion, I would NOT have connected the 2 sentences: a) no king b) chaos as people live life as they please.

My first response to the commentary is ” Well, duh!  Thanks for bring this to my brain’s attention, because my brain (ever in self-protective filter mode) had not seen the connection.”  As it turns out only when there is extra LIGHT given to some facts do we notice the details, the nuances, the relationships.  I had read that passage numerous times.  It is also an oft-quoted observation of errant people wandering far from God.

I mentioned that thought to my husband and he responded, “Well, there’s a syllogism, for you!”  And his addition of critical thinking brought more light!  Here was a 1st degree enthymeme.  What was missing was the major premise.  The Judges passage stated the following:

  • the 2nd or minor premise – No king in Israel was reigning and enforcing the Mosaic Law
  • the conclusion – Therefore, no people followed the Mosaic Law but did what they wanted

It was then easy to construct what HAD to be the 1st or major premise:

  • All kings in Israel reign and enforce the Mosaic Law

Mosaic Law (10 Cs)

Once you know the structure of a syllogism,  you can spot arguments in toto or in fragments.  Understanding the structure not only gives you a sense of where an argument should go, it also provides NEW information that might not have been so apparent at first glance.

Ah, the usefulness of logic!

 

 

Logical Gal and another helpful distinction in terms

4 Apr

Real faith is not the stuff dreams are made of; rather it is tough, practical and altogether realistic. Faith sees the invisible but it does not see the nonexistent.  A.W. Tozer

Faith - word

This distinction grabbed me.  I’ve read/heard some snarky debaters mock Christians by likening believing in a transcendent supernatural God with subscribing to something silly as the ‘flying spaghetti monster’.  Even Samuel Clemens quipped,“Faith is believing something you know ain’t true.

Samuel Clemens

So often when I am trying to grasp the concept of something that is new to me, I seek to do two things:

  • set this ‘thing’ in a larger context or category.
  • find out what it is opposed to, that is, to what it is NOT. The contrast helps set some boundaries that make it easier for me to  see more clearly what this ‘thing’ is.

Back to ‘faith’.  A synonym that adds more meaning is the verb ‘to trust’.  If you say, “I have faith in airplanes”,  you mean probably that you trust your safety to the engineers who built the aircraft, the mechanics who keep it running and the pilots who transport you safely to your destination.  And you demonstrate your trust or faith by actually boarding a plane and traveling with it.

Christian faith is similar.  It is trust in the truthful reality of the unseen God who has given lots of evidence for His existence. In a much smaller way I trust the force of gravity.  I can’t SEE this pressure, but gravity certainly keeps my feet on the ground, so I don’t float away as if weight-less.   Knowing that gravity exists limits my choices.  If it’s me or gravity, gravity is going to win out!

Gravity

 

So the next time someone tries to mock one of your unseen beliefs that is true, you can remember to quip back this distinction between the invisible and the non-existent.

 

Question: What other distinction has recently helped you?

 

 

 

 

Logical Gal and a simple syllogism as one evidence of God

2 Apr

meaning of life

There are many evidences that point to the existence of a transcendent God who created the universe.

I was reading some arguments that weakened the case for materialism.  This ISM maintains that all there is in the universe is that which is verifiable empirically.  Simply put, if you can touch it, or hear it, or measure it in someway, then it exists.  Without getting very complicated, all the non-measurable stuff like love, or courage or memories have a physical explanation only, (neurons firing that give the illusion of meaning).  No doubt I have OVER-simplified the argument, so please forgive me.  I am not claiming to do justice to the case for naturalism/materialism.

The point the author was making is that even if one were to grant as true that  the material is all there is, that kind of reductionism makes life difficult to live.

empiricism

On to the argument proposed by the author.  He used the simple syllogism that is the building block of all  reasoning.

Premise 1:  If God does not exist, then life has no ultimate purpose or meaning

Premise 2: Life has ultimate meaning and purpose

Conclusion:  There must be a God

 

Purpose in life

It seems that materialists tend to pull meaning out of thin air (nothing to ground it).  If they are honest in their philosophical materialism, then all that is is what can be measured.  Ergo there IS no ultimate meaning.  But as the realistic existentialists reasoned and wrote mid 20th century, the only logical conclusion to THAT assessment  of life is suicide.  Fortunately few materialists are willing to to that far.  In their hearts they might believe: “Life is absurd, without any meaning,” but they ALSO make this decision, “….so we are just going to assert that it is meaningful.”

Question:  What other syllogisms can you form as an evidence for the transcendant God?