Friday, November 26, 2010

A Matter of Logic (a fundamentalist that demands reproof)

A matter of Logic


I was in a Reformed Christian Paltalk chat room this week. Paltalk is a voice and text chat arena where individuals can converse with each other. The Christianity section is formed of many views, and a number of them may not be orthodox, so listeners beware.

The particular discussion topic was about how the canon was decided—reaffirmed (in a Catholic vs. Reformed view). During this discussion there was talk about how the Apostle Paul quoted from other texts not from the Bible and the quote was in the Bible. While I was not referring to early thoughts of comparative religions or social-societies, I posted the phrase that “there are truths outside the Bible”. After I had made that statement, a moderator immediately suggested that I automatically ascribed all religions as being fully true (pluralism). Then this person went on to say that my logic was flawed simply due to my statement. Of course they didn’t say how or by what means specifically my logic was flawed.

The discussion went back and forth, I stated it is true that I wear glasses, am legally married and neither of those truths not in the Bible. We can also say that we can hear from God but again that isn’t in the Bible either. I also stated the laws of logic as also true but not articulated within in the Bible, the laws of physics are true but not all are listed within the Bible, the law of non-contradiction is not in the Bible [(per ‘se) and all these laws existed before the Bible]. It should be noted that what I am implying is that there are truths outside the Bible, not that the Bible is false or cannot be utilized for logical arguments. In fact, we can use logic outside the Bible to make our case about the Bible (scriptures or theoretical concepts).

I finally stated what he said is not true because what he said was not in the Bible (no scripture support), and my text input was blocked from that point forward. Their final response was that I was a heretic and I didn’t believe in the Bible. For the record, I never stated I didn’t believe the Bible, in fact, I believe it is true. I guess this person never took the time to view my Paltalk profile which stated my beliefs. Thou shall not bear false witness, amen.

I often hear that some Christians are rather harsh in their judgment. I agree, too many times the fundamentalist Christian (extreme) often paints a picture of a person that is false (bearing false witness) before allowing them to speak. A Christian should be open to reproof, and be open to correctly understand the scriptures and the opposition. If not the person representing the Christian faith does injustice to the faith. The Bible clearly states that we must be open to reproof, not bearing false witness—falsely accusing. The ninth commandment protects against bearing false witness in cases of law or judgments. Nevertheless, I feel that this false witness also would apply to daily Christian values and how we condemn others without proper representation of the accused.

During this Paltalk discussion, there was also someone that stated God created the laws of logic, and that lead to the belittling of anyone that had a college degree. Never mind their strawman argument tactics, let’s focus on the gross oversimplification-false dichotomy tactics. The Bible tells us to test all things, so we will put them to the test within this article.

Let’s look at their [sic] logic

(P1) The Bible is Truth

(P2) Nothing is true outside the Bible (Solo Scriptura)

(C) Therefore, only the Bible is true, nothing true exists outside the Bible.

Premise number 1 (P1) states the Bible is Truth. While I agree that is true and the Bible is self-attesting historically, this is not a sound logical form to create a truthful conclusion by itself. We could agree as Christians it is persuasive but I doubt it would be persuasive on its own without the help of the Holy Spirit.

Premise number 2 (P2) states nothing is true outside the Bible, this is self-defeating. Simply because that statement [nothing is true outside the Bible] is not contained within the Bible, this is self-referential nonsense. Besides what if God spoke or performed some miracles outside the Bible, would that be non-truthful? If the premise (P2) is true, then it must follow that the statement “nothing is true outside the Bible” is false (if-then) and making the premise self-defeating and would have bad logic form.

Looking at the conclusion (C) we know that there is no way that can be true, simply because the conclusion is not within the Bible, besides it’s an inductive circular illogical argument. It is widely known that Inductive arguments always exhibit some quantity or amount of uncertainty. Where as deductive arguments tend to be (more) certain. Sure Christ stated he was the truth, the only way to the Father, but that does not equate to all truths everywhere are solely based upon the Bible. The laws of logic aren’t defined by the Bible, and pre-exist before the Bible.

We also know their logical conclusion is not true because the premises have not been proven on their part (not that I totally disagree with premise number 1). If the Bible is the only truth, then God’s existence was not true before the Bible canon. Rather absurd Christianity in my book if you believe their logic.

My logic

(P1) all circles are round, not square

(P2) All squares are square, not round

(C) Therefore, these truths exists outside the Bible

Premise 1 (P1) circles are round, not square we know this is true. Granted, some circles can be elliptical or oblong but they are not squares. Premise 2 (P2) squares are square, not round. Not much thought to reach that premise, I know. Conclusion (C) it is proven by these two premises that truth does exist outside the Bible. Therefore, we can conclude logically that truth does exist outside the Bible unless one wants to become a deconstructionist and redefine the terminology, forms, and definition of circles and squares. Plato covered forms, old news. I hold the Sola Scriptura over the Solo Scriptura view held by this fundamentalist.

With this response not only have I completely defeated the logic of this fundamentalist, they have self-defeated themselves—a double hitter. The laws of logic are not in the Bible but are true and exist outside and existed before the Bible; God also exists outside the Bible and before it was written (according to Christianity). We know that God cannot create a being greater than himself, nor can he create square triangles, all true outside the Bible. Mathematics and science work outside the Bible, let’s not get too carried away by that statement. I would also hold to the belief that the Bible is self-attesting. Lastly, the Bible canon was not completely assembled and compiled together until after Christ. We know that Paul and others did write after Christ left this earth, but according to this hyper-fundamentalist they suggest we knew not of any truth before the Bible was compiled. Surely that also proves to be problematic within their premises as they equate God as the Bible and limited by the Bible canon.

We know that the laws of physics are true and exist outside the Bible; we also know that the laws of logic and non-contradiction are not created, the Bible is created. So when the Bible was not created, God was still alive and still true. We know that God exists not only because of the Bible, but we can know more about him through the Bible. To test all things (as it is written within the Bible) and hold fast to what is good, truth must exist outside the Bible and before the Bible was written. That isn’t to state the Bible is not truth but we know and readily admit truth does exist outside the Bible. We can say things such as; John Adams was the second President of the US (eternally true from this point on) and it is true even though it is not within the Bible. And lastly; it is true you are reading this so you know it is true that you must exist, and so does this text (I think, therefore I am).

God created the laws of Logic?

Let’s make it clear; God did not create the laws of logic or non-contradiction, for if he did they did not exist at one time or another (I am against Cornelius Van Till’s theory of logic being created). Before you thump me over the head with your Bibles, to create something means that at one time it did not exist as we know it or them (i.e. the Bible). To say that God created the laws of logic would have very disastrous implications, don’t fall prey. I believe that the laws of logic are a characteristic of God.

If I were to accept the opposition, to clarify, according to their faulty position and logic, there was a time where these laws did not exist, but we know and define God as infinite no beginning and having no end. Thinking clearly we must state that these laws always existed as a characteristic of God, while not being God (another argument for his existence). Funny thing was this fundamentalist person (and/or someone that agreed with them) stated that God was the logos, if we define that term as logic (as suggested by them) which if that was so—and they believe logic was created—then God (being logic) was created (i.e. Van Till’s suggestion). That is blasphemy and their logic is flawed, fundamentally. How I end up being the heretic, I don’t know but it looks like they may need to take a critical thinking class and a theology class or two. So they believe God was created, I can’t say that is an orthodox view on their part. Lastly, there are many translations of the Bible; I wonder which one they view as truth? Another argument for another time, I suppose.


The problem is that one can become a hyper-fundamentalist, not discerning what is being said, and then jump to random and unfounded faulty non-logical conclusions. Christianity needs nothing to do with this kind of fundamentalist and splinter tactics. A good engineering practice I learned years ago; when in doubt, assume nothing. This also carries over to how we read and understand the text, I hope you can see how a faulty logic system can either allow you to find truth or never really know truth.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Family Part I

What is a family?

Certainly the term “family” has evolved over history and especially the last few decades. Within this article, I have elected not to discuss the various types of families defined by the typical Webster’s dictionary. I also do not plan on discussing couples as being defined by tradition or non-tradition. The main focal point will be what I believe to define family and family values that I hold.

A little history

For myself; being adopted I never had the chance to meet my birth parents. My birth mother is still alive and I write her on occasion. My birth Father passed away years ago due to an ongoing heart condition. My adoptive parents were very traditional in most ways. They expected certain things of me, much like most parents would. The only thing I expected from them was basic necessities, love, compassion, and raising me (values instilled) until maturity (18 years of age). I was never rebellious; I attribute that to an early onset understanding, and respect of my adoptive parents choosing to take on the responsibility of me when it really wasn’t their obligation to begin with. Some could often become rebellious in such instances, but I chose to seek understanding through my experiences and situations.

While some would often want to reach out to their birth parents, I find that the strongest bonds are created by shared memories and experiences during childhood through adulthood. So seeking to create a relationship without experiences (whilst having high expectations) has always been challenging to me. I admit that these experiences come through time but the parent also has a responsibility to be part of the experience while that time is opportune. I did later find out that I also had a brother that was also given up for adoption; we finally met when we were both adults and both had our own families. I soon found that my brother and I, even with so much time apart between our childhood and adulthood, we both shared so many like traits.

I was never really much of a self-centered person so I didn’t really have an aggressive attitude; in fact there were many times where I felt insignificant in the mix of everyday life. In today’s society that may seem odd, but for me it didn’t. I would rather listen to someone else tell stories or recant memories rather than me recounting them to someone else. I think some of the better memories I can recall would be some of the things my father used to tell me about working a 40-hour job versus becoming an entrepreneur. My father was a welder by trade and held various other titles for a number of years before deciding to be his own boss. I would like to think that some attributes are instilled from my parents and the remaining--left to my current needs.

My thoughts about family

Certainly, within most families there are civil rivalries that extend from the oldest, middle, and youngest. For me, I didn’t really pay that much attention to such pursuits, I always viewed them as trivial (subjective, perhaps). By that, I mean that these are views that stem from a personal point of view from which a child or adolescent would not ascertain to a utilitarian view. From a parent standpoint, I knew that they (my parents) often made decisions that they attributed to be the best scenario for all at that instance. Did everyone benefit from those choices, most likely not, but the thing I attribute from such decisions (not mine) is that I can’t always see every side of the argument or situation. Perhaps, I didn’t always show this in my actions, but I had this inane sense that it was so. Notwithstanding I often find myself asking the logic behind many decisions (that are not my own) but realize that I do not always see all things; I am vastly limited to what is surrounding myself and my own thoughts. Keeping an open mind often means being open, what a concept.

So what do I believe are the traits of a family?

• Love (mutually reciprocated)

• Respect (earning your keep, teamwork, sticking strong to your words)

• Helping (reaching out, giving and receiving help when in need)

• Understanding (not always a one-way street)

• Trust (learning to put trust, despite not fully understanding)

• Honor (respecting of self and others)

• Sharing and creating memories (good and bad)

• Sharing experiences (good and bad)

• Learning from experiences and sometimes mistakes (parents and siblings)

• Reliance (but not to be ever-ending one-way over extending expectations)

• Teaching/Learning independence (arising self-reliance)

• Realistic expectations (of parents and children)

• Struggles and hardships (health, wealth, sickness, poverty, relocation, etc.)

• Caring (sometimes tough-love)

• Tolerance (not so much criticizing especially of the past)

• Forgiveness (letting go of the past, ego, and pride)

• Guidance (willingness to be open and lucid but not to extremes)

• Respect (even if there is a disagreement)

• Clarity (seeking authorial intent, not baseless conclusions)

• Listening and understanding (ability to listen and discern)

• Reasoning (valid and sound rationality)

• Self-Assessment (reaching for perfection of one’s self before criticizing others)

• Space (learning not to become overbearing)

There are a number of other traits that I have not listed but for brevity sake these are some of the most difficult to obtain. Throughout the good and bad times, it should be the good times that are reminisced, not so much the bad times. Focusing too much on the bad only leads to behavioral and mental (thought processes implied, not disorders) problems.

I am certain most everyone has been wronged or thought they have been wronged. The problem is there are no do-over’s (at least until time machines are invented), and we can’t take back the negative and hurtful things we have said or done. I find that it helps to become more aware of things that trigger anger and learning how to prevent such things from taking over your thoughts and your life. I am not much one for “karma” but I do feel that by virtue--of a no reward basis, you should always do the right thing. I realize that we may not at times do or say the right things, but forgiveness goes a long way in building a relationship within a family.

In most cases there are always two-sides to the story and somewhere in-between you find truth. This truth sometimes isn’t always what you believe or perceive (objective reality). Being able to discern the implied meaning often means letting go of your preconceived notions and pre-understandings and truly being open (not just open to your own ideology, and this isn’t hippie 101 by any means).

More to come...