Tag Archives: Heaven

Taking it to the absurd

23 Sep

Up for a quick logic workout for your mind?

Critical Thinking the other national deficit

I heard someone advance an argument FOR killing unborn babies in the womb.  It went like this:

  • Since many Christians espouse the doctrine that pre-born and newborn babies as well as very young children all go to heaven (before the age of accountability), why should anyone oppose what Planned Parenthood does?

At first hearing, I thought – “Huh! – I wonder what this theologian’s response will be?”

Reassuringly, the speaker proceeded directly to the question I, myself, have learned.  Before any question or comment, do this: take your opponent’s argument seriously and flow with it to its logical and uncontrived conclusion.   Then lead him to consider that conclusion by posing a question.

  • So if we follow your logic, since a child of 1 has not yet reached the age of accountability, then it’s okay to murder him, seeing that he’s headed to heaven?

It’s clear that very soon, his entire premise will crumble.

Beside the toddler, who else might not be accountable for their actions?  I can think of

  • those born with mental disorders
  • those in a coma
  • those with Alzheimer’s or dementia

Evil terrorists could easily exploit this argument of a quick dispatch to heaven as well!

So is this a slippery slope argument?   In this case, yes!

As Archbishop Justin Welby recently and forcefully argued:

“Whenever assisted suicide is discussed, supporters of a change in the law are quick to pour scorn on “slippery slope” arguments, dismissing them as scare-mongering. The truth is, however, that some slopes are slippery and it is important to identify them”   Website here

Martin Luther’s Beer Argument – Final Test

22 Jul

Martin Luther and beer

Last week we extrapolated and analyzed Luther’s premises to see if he had aligned them correctly into a valid chain argument or syllogism.

“Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!”

 You can check out that ‘step one’ explanation and follow our reasoning on the post dated 15 July 2015.  We showed that indeed, this church reformer applied his logic equally well to the merits of beer.

With the validity of the argument confirmed, we turn next to verifying the truth of each premise.  For if an argument is both valid AND true, then we can admire the reasoning and say with some degree of awe, “That’s one ‘sound’, airtight argument!” (or, ‘I’ll drink to that!’)

Toasting Beer Glasses

In order to see more easily whether a premise is true or false, it’s best to write or ‘translate’ informal statements into their logical form.  A crucial step is to decide whether the subject pertains to ALL ‘members’ or just SOME.  Luther has used the pronoun ‘whoever‘.  That is a universal pronoun, so we replace it with ‘ALL’ without changing our former monk’s intentions.

P1 – All those who drink beer are those who are quick to sleep

P2 – All those who sleep long are those who do not sin

P3 – All those who do not sin are those who enter Heaven

C – Therefore, all people who drink beer are those who enter Heaven. 

Logical Joes and Janes know that if any of the premises of the syllogism are false, then there is a problem.  So let’s just start at the beginning with Premise 1.  Is it true that ‘all those who drink beer are quick to sleep’?  What do we have to do to test that statement?

Quite simply, if we can find ONE counterexample where that is not the case, where a beer drinker is not someone quick to sleep, then Premise 1 is false the way it is written. (to ‘fix’ it, changing it into a true statement, Luther would simply substitute the ‘particular’ quantifier of SOME for the ‘universal’ quantifier of ALL.)

I, for one, can drink one beer and not fall asleep quickly. The premise does not mention HOW MUCH beer Luther had in mind.  And there’s no point second-guessing him.  All we can go by is the premise as Martin Luther allegedly uttered or wrote it.

Therefore, just by a quick glance of the first premise, the syllogism breaks down.

We could have started with any of the premises, testing their truthfulness. Take, for example, Premise 3 that ‘all those who do not sin are those who enter heaven.‘ From everything else Martin Luther wrote, I know for a fact that he did not believe that statement himself.  For he was a Biblically-based theologian.  And the Bible does not teach that one must be perfect to enter heaven.  No one is perfect. Those who are welcomed into heaven are those for whom Jesus died as a substitute, who have renounced their rebellion and gratefully accepted the gift of forgiveness.

Surrender to Jesus

That’s it! We have finished our analysis – quickly, too. Do you see how easy it is to determine the truthfulness of an argument just by taking a careful look at one premise? Looking over this exercise of taking seriously what Luther surely meant in jest, we have reviewed that a sound argument has two parts.  It must be correctly formed (that is: ‘VALID’) as well as formulated with true premises.

Practice yourself, especially in this season of much political and cultural rhetoric, where little clear and reasoned thinking is evident.

Dissecting Martin Luther’s beer argument- Part 1

15 Jul

Martin Luther and beer

Soon we will celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther publicizing his 95 ‘bones of contention’ with the prevailing Roman church of the time. Not among them was the following argument, but we can have some fun with this example of Luther’s logic.  Let’s see if it’s sound.

“Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!”

To determine if an argument is sound, we must test its validity and truthfulness. On to validity to check if Luther DID construct his argument correctly in how he laid it out.

  • Step # 1 is to ‘translate’ it into logical form.  When we encounter the pronoun ‘whoever’, we substitute the universal quantifier ALL.

P1 – All those who drink beer are those who are quick to sleep

P2 – All those who sleep long are those who do not sin

P3 – All those who do not sin are those who enter Heaven

C – Therefore, all people who drink beer are those who enter Heaven.

Maybe this is the first time you have encountered a chain argument.  Don’t be thrown off by the existence of 3 explicit premises plus the conclusion.

Aristotle never mentioned this argument, although it is named for him.  The Aristotelian or classic ‘Sorites’ is a series of 2 or more syllogisms with accompanying unstated conclusions until the very last one.

Aristotle

Using letters to stand in for the subjects and predicates (what precede and follow the ‘is/are’ in each premise) we get:

P1 – All A is B

P2 – All B is C

P3 – All C is D

Therefore, all A is D

What is missing in THIS case is one implicit conclusion leading to the final one. As logical gals and guys, we have to flush it out.  In general with all sorites we articulate the ‘hidden’ conclusions by extrapolating them through re-ordering two premises at a time in order to create separate syllogisms. In our argument above, there are only 3 premises and you’ll see that we tease them out to form 2 syllogisms

Watch what happens when we switch the position of P1 and P2 and deductively bring to light the hidden conclusion. (Not to worry, we are following a ‘school’ procedure that is perfectly prescribed for just this kind of argument.)

P2 – All B is C  – All those who are quick to sleep are those who do not sin

P1 – All A is B  – All those who drink beer are those who are quick to sleep

C1 -Tf, All A is C  – Therefore, all those who drink beer are those who do not sin (unspoken by Luther)

*

Next we bring down P3 – All C is D  –  All those who do not sin are those who enter heaven

and place underneath it our ‘new’ C1 – All A is C  All those who drink beer are those who do not sin

Following along deductively we arrive at – Therefore, all A is D – Therefore, all those who drink beer are those who enter heaven

and we notice that this latest conclusion, renamed C2 from C1, was the original one in Luther’s argument –  Therefore, all who drink beer are those who enter heaven.

We’ll stop here for this week. The argument IS valid in that the premises and both the extrapolated as well as original conclusions are in the correct form.  Let me know what might still be unclear.  Next time, God willing, we’ll tackle the truthfulness of each premise.  If we determine that the premises are true, it follows that the conclusions must be true because we know the sorites is correctly laid out.  But only if we find all to be true can we THEN conclude that Martin Luther presented a SOUND argument to his beer-swilling buddies!

Logical Gal – the word not chosen

4 Feb

Words

I’m beginning to be more intrigued by what is NOT said than the choice of words actually made.

Look at the prayer Jesus provided when asked by his disciples to teach them to pray.  If we take just a phrase, we can formulate some questions and implications:

Our Father, who art in heaven

1. Our  –

  • What other pronouns could Jesus have encouraged us to use?  My Father, the Father, or Your Father (talking to Jesus about His dad)
  • The fact that we are to pray to God with a collective pronoun of  ‘our’ emphasizes the position of prayer in a community.  We don’t always pray alone, but with sisters and brothers.

2. Father –

  • What other role could Jesus have picked as primary?   the mythical gods of Greece & Rome exercised dominion over different parts of creation.  God could have been a dictator, a puppeteer, a tyrant, a caretaker, or even an indifferent creator
  • Father implies responsibility beyond begetting.  It invites a relationship, a trusting dependence.  It evokes closeness, communication and even playfulness

3. Heaven –

  • This God is NOT on earth, or part of the universe.  He is somewhere else, somewhere beyond.
  • He’s therefore not part of the created order we know.
  • Heaven is that GOOD place, evocative of the best of all realms.
  • No matter what happens to the created order, this heavenly Father won’t be destroyed or affected because He is transcendent

In considering the other choices the author could have selected, I’m left with the impression that each word is important because of its intentionality.  A reverse implication is then this:

Do I make MY words count?  And if not, how can I begin to be more thoughtful?