Tag Archives: Explanations

Logical Gal – an explanation is NOT an argument

16 Apr

Explanation is NOT an argument

The discussion shifted  back and forth about the various flood stories.

Can we attribute the plethora of cataclysmic water myths in different cultures to one actual world-wide  historical flood?

The fellow from the British Museum offered the following:

The Hebrew account of Noah and his ark was written INTO the Jewish bible at the time of the Babylonian captivity!

Flood and an Ark

Here’s how his story went:

  • Daniel along with his fellow Hebrew brights were schooled by the very best Babylonian scholars.
  • They learned to read cuneiforms.
  • They studied the Babylonian stories of the Mesopotamian flood from the cuneiforms.
  • They adjusted/tweaked the existent Hebrew holy scrolls, adding the flood story back into the texts.

My antennae perked up right away!  Here’s the caveat when dealing with ‘possible explanations‘:

An explanation is NOT an argument!

One can offer a whole host of possible stories of how something might happen, but the burden of proof is nonetheless still on the advancer to offer reasons of substance.

As easy comeback to remember and use when you spot this fallacious line of thinking is:

  • Well gee, one could say this or one could say anything!

Possible explanations

 

You do NOT need to address their story until they have sufficiently, soundly and logically defended it.  No pressure on you, but to just reverse the burden of proof!

 

 

 

 

 

Logical Gal – possible explanations that don’t hold water

27 Dec

If you have read any of these logic posts you might have picked up two details about me:

  • I like the tool of making  DISTINCTIONS
  • I’m a slow learner who needs LOTS of repetition

I can’t tell you how many times I have read the caveat that “offering a possible explanation of how something came to be” is not the same as offering an argument for a point of view and then backing it up with reasons.

So the other day, I was delighted to find that I had remembered this distinction and was actually able to apply it to a debate ALL BY MYSELF!

I had heard of a debate about reconciling the book of Genesis to the Big Bang Theory.  I only remembered the name Dr. Hugh Ross as the one arguing for this.  So when I googled it, I didn’t find the debate, but my computer did bring up a response by someone writing for ‘Answers In Genesis’

As I scanned the lengthy counter-argument written to critique Hugh Ross’ point of view, I stopped at a paragraph devoted to EXPLAINING why Ross holds his position.  The author offered that the scientist had fallen in love with astronomy as a boy and read voraciously from age 8 until he arrived at the conclusion that if the universe had a beginning (i.e due to the Big Bang) then someone created it.  (In his later teen years Ross studied all the world’s religious holy books and settled on Christianity being the True account, so he accepted Christ as Lord and savior. )

The Answers in Genesis (AIG) writer further stated that Hugh Ross holds to the Big Bang Theory because his world view was shaped by his astronomy readings at an ‘impressionable young age’  before he became a Christian.

It was at this point that I intuited something fishy.  I read on to see if there were any reasons backing up this accusation.  That’s when it hit me: the AIG post writer had just offered a possible and perhaps plausible scenario to say WHY Hugh Ross holds his worldview. But it was mere supposition.  There were no reasons. He had NO evidence.  He had proffered an explanation, but not an argument.  This explanation is also an example of the Genetic Fallacy – supposing someone believes something due to the influence of their origins.  This huge assumption needs to be substantiated with evidence.

When I shared Hugh Ross’ point of view and the criticizer with my husband, Michael mentioned that all we had to do was find a counter-example, that is: a person who is NOT an astrononer nor scientifically-bent who believes Genesis and the Big Bang do NOT contradict. Such a person would just happen to be a thinking Christian. (gee – what a concept! – I hope we are not such a rare breed after all! If you want to know more about why God gave us a rational mind, see below.) 

Link to order the book

What this whole episode did, above anything else, was ENCOURAGE me.  Given enough repetition, these  logical tools for critical thinking DO stick, even to the middle-aged brain of an average logical Jane!  There IS value in reading, studying and thinking through ways to handle discussions about important issues.

Question: where have you been encouraged in your growth as a logical person?