Tag Archives: Tolerance

Meaningful definitions require boundaries

19 Oct

human-animal-stem-cell-research

Scientists at the National Institutes for Health apparently are talking about lifting a ban on research that would co-mingle human stem cells with animal embryos.

Human-Animal Embryo Stem Cell Research

Listening to a discussion about this back in August, the commentator who mentioned this new development posed the question:

  • What does it mean to be human?  If you have 99% human DNA and 1 % ‘other’, are you still considered human?

In other words, “How do we define the term, HUMAN?”

What came to mind was how TODAY, we seem to be playing fast and easy with definitions.

Two examples come to mind:

1a. Tolerance once referred to the restraining civil behavior between two or more people who held and articulated differing and/or contradictory beliefs and positions.  If you think about, one doesn’t tolerate what one find acceptable, one AGREES with it.  By definition, the ‘classic’ view of tolerance presupposes contrary views.

1b. Tolerance today seems to require that a ‘minority, despicable viewpoint’ be shut down, shamed and disbarred from the discussion table.

The term has remained the same, but the concept has changed.

2a. Marriage once referred to the legal union between one suitable (not a close relative) man and one suitable woman of appropriate age.

2b. Marriage today refers to a state-granted status that recognizes a two-person, gender-indifferent union with the same legal rights of a married biological male and female.  (A temporary quantity and constituent view – down the road who knows how many humans and what/who else might fit into this new definition!)

Logical friends, definitions matter!!!

These are but two current examples.

Think about other terms in the area of religion, for example:  God’s love, Faith in God or Prayer.  These ALSO seem to stand for a multiplicity of concepts.  So what exactly is the relationship between TERM and CONCEPT?

First of all, a concept is the immaterial idea of something one pictures, the image of which one holds in his head.  A concept can indicate something real or imagined like a tree or a unicorn. A term is the written or verbal name we give to that concept.

Terms can be confusing because the same term can refer to different concepts.  Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason teaches that before ANY discussion about a topic can ensue, two people must clarify and agree on the definition of terms used.  Conversational partners must know and state the concepts they have in mind when each employs a term.

So back to those religious terms I mentioned. Today, in Christianity, people seem to talk with ease and certitude about ‘the love of God’ or they announce: ‘I believe in God’ or ‘I pray’.  We cannot assume that they and we are picturing the same thing.  As the fox in Le Petit Prince says ‘Words are the source of misunderstandings.’

As the social climate across the literate world grows more fractured and sharp, logical and reasoning men and women CAN make a difference by gently asking the clarifying questions that will guide others to think about what they mean.

Who knows?   In bringing a concept to light, in employing the discipline of articulating WHAT WE MEAN, someone or even we ourselves might decide to modify what we believe. Not a bad result. For thinking is never wasted effort or time.

 

 

Logical Gal-statements that die before reaching 1st base

15 Oct

Self Refuting Tree Sawing Analogy

 

I tuned in last week to J. Warner Wallace’s discussion about TRUTH.

He addressed rules or pronouncements that can’t even meet their own standards, what he calls self-refuting statements.

Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective who ministers by sharing investigative insights that apply to Christianity. He films and uploads a video discussion most Fridays about evidence supporting the truth of Jesus Christ.  You can find these gems at Cold Case Christianity.    Here’s the link to his site

One of his points about truth that I enjoyed hearing again described the change in the definition of TOLERANCE.

Tolerance USED to be defined as the respectful treatment of the FACT or PRESENCE of differing points of view.  This original view of ‘tolerance’ assumed that people believed differently and that beliefs often opposed or contradicted one another.  But today, the concept of tolerance includes the belief that ALL views are equally ‘valid’.  As meek and mild as this new version may seem, it has a mean bite to it!

Pushing the definition to go in THIS direction actually uses ‘valid’ to mean:

  • You can’t criticize my view and say it’s WRONG!

Today’s Tolerance Bullies protect ‘new and improved’ definitions of such fundamental parts of society as

  • holidays (Seattle just voted to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day)
  • gender
  • marriage
  • societal roles
  • aberrant and normal behavior
  • rights and entitlements

As overwhelming and furiously paced as these changes may be, one can take comfort in the FACT that the logic behind the pre-supposition grounding this new definition of tolerance is flawed.

If it is true that tolerance means you can’t say my belief is WRONG, then…

  • You, yourself, can’t label ‘wrong’ MY belief that traditional marriage is the only legitimate marriage union
  • You, yourself, have no leg to stand on when criticizing my view that abortion is murder!
  • And if I were to think it’s okay to act out any number of behaviors you don’t like, my loyalty to them is protected by your new definition

Do you see how today’s new definition breaks down before getting to first base?  That, my friends, is the beauty of logic!

Just like the in-your-face comeback (see image below) to the fact of the existence of absolute truth, their statements break down before they can gather a molecule of dust!

Self-refuting statements

 

All you have to say in response to their claim above:

– So, is your statement just a personal opinion?

Question:  What is a ‘Truth Pronouncement’ that seems suicidal to you?

 

 

 

 

So next time, instead of feeling overwhelmed by next topsy-turvy way of thinking, take a deep breath and ask yourself if that person’s statement follows their OWN ground rules.

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?

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?