Tag Archives: New Atheists

Logical Gal – what some will stoop to in order to WIN!

11 Feb

Winning at all costs

Would you like to know how you can win debates every time?  especially if your opponent is nervous and naive?

Just redefine the terms to suit you!  It’s that simple.

I heard this point expounded while listening to a podcast from Stand to Reason. – Here’s the Link.  Greg Koukl, the host, was providing listeners with an example of how some of the so-called New Atheists actually make a mistake when it comes to understanding the concept of Biblical Faith.

The bumper sticker below is apparently what they think faith means.  Do you suppose they exercise that kind of faith in airline pilots when they board a commercial flight?blind faith bumper sticker

What atheists might label as faith is simply trust or reliance.   Just as I’m sure they rely on previous safety records when deciding to board a commercial aircraft, Christians rely on eye-witness accounts as part of their ‘reasons to believe’ that Jesus is who He claimed to be.  Thus these atheists incorrectly define faith as: “a leap of faith without evidence” aka “blind faith”.  Certainly their false definition could be an intentional tactic.  But I actually think they are woefully ignorant about what the Bible has to say about trust, belief and evidence.  Numerous times in both the Old and New Testaments there are references to reason and evidence.

  • God, through the prophet Isaiah beckons, “Come now, let us reason together.…” (Isaiah 1:18)

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is recorded as saying:

  • ” Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” (Jn 14:11)

And what makes the credibility of Jesus so solid is that His claims could have been easy to dispute.  The falsifiability of a claim is its strength.  So what would falsify Christianity? For one thing, had the Romans or Jews of Palestine been able to produce the body of a dead, crucified Jesus THAT would have been evidence that he was not who he said he was.

Question – So who actually is clinging to a debate position without evidence?  Are the ‘New Atheists’ themselves making a ‘Leap of Faith’ that the Biblical God does not exist?

Leap of faith

Logical Gal – those who invent NEW definitions

15 Jan

Have you noticed how some people are taking the unauthorized liberty to REDEFINE a term?

Take the concept of TOLERANCE. The original definition has to do with listening politely to something with which you do not agree…..or being respectful of the practices of beliefs that you do not hold.   But there would be nothing to tolerate if everyone thought and acted alike. Tolerance PRE-SUPPOSES a difference in opinions.

But today – ‘they’ (whoever they are) have decided that tolerance means to accept as equally TRUE and GOOD ALL beliefs and practices.  That is a very different term.

Yesterday I heard about a deliberate practice of REDEFINING the concept of FAITH to:

  • Belief without evidence

This is ridiculous.  If your opponent gets to change the meaning of a term going into a debate, then you can’t engage!  A fundamental principle for conducting any discussion is that both sides agree on the key terms being used.

But if the so-called New Atheists   play loose with terms instead of openly or honestly, with the concurrence of all parties, they are in essence relying on a couple of fallacies.

The Fallacy of Equivocal Terms is when YOU are referring to one concept and your interlocutor is referring to a completely different one, but the term is pronounced and spelled the same.  Examples of equivocal terms are pitcher (a thrower of a ball, a receptacle for beverages) or plane (a geometrical shape, an aircraft).

The reason someone might employ such a rhetorical trick might be to create a Straw Man.  If I can redefine something to make it look ridiculous and then easily point that out to an audience, I’ve scored points.

And this is what Peter Boghossian has done.  

In his encounters with Christians, this Philosophy Professor and leading atheist dismisses the traditional definition of faith – a belief based on evidence.  Instead he substitutes his conveniently created definition of belief which he has set up to be a blind kind of adherence to something that can’t be proven.  But that’s not faith.

If you say, “I have faith that this Southwest Boing 737 will fly” and you climb onboard, I doubt you are exercising the blind, irrational decision that Boghossian is mocking.   Most likely you are aware of the safety record of commercial aircraft and the anecdotal evidence of your past flights and those of others.

So, too, is the Christian faith based on evidence.  In Acts, chapter 1, verse 3 – Luke says about Jesus – After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

Anyone who ridicules a created straw-man concept of faith is being intellectually dishonest, lazy and just plain mean.

So what is a Logical Jane or Joe to do?

Politely ‘call them’  on their switcheroo

and flush it out in the open.  Say – “So, you’re changing the definition of our terms? – I will not allow you to do that.  If we can’t agree on terms, there’s no point having this discussion.”    A decent person will have the humility to back down or at least concede their ploy!

Question:  What other terms have you noticed being redefined in society?