“I Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God”—therefore, the Bible is God’s Word!” This is often heard, and may initially sound good, but it is guilty of circular reasoning—“begging the question.” This logical fallacy is a tricky one, and even gets the most careful thinker from time to time. So, let’s learn to identify and avoid it, in order to have healthy conversations and find truth!
“Everyone knows…” means “What’s wrong with you for not agreeing?” This is an example of the often-heard “bandwagon” fallacy. Last week I explained this ubiquitous derailer of good conversations, and offered a number of examples. This week I’ll suggest ways to get conversations back on track when they are derailed by this error.
“But Mom, all my friends do it!” “Everyone’s switching to Right Guard!” “No one believes that anymore!” You have probably heard a child, advertiser, or friend say these things before. It may have initial appeal, but when you stop and think about it you know something is wrong with this line of thinking. These are all examples of another common logical fallacy: the “bandwagon fallacy” (or the “appeal to common practice” and the “appeal to populace” fallacies). This is a fifth way healthy discussions are shut down.
Two years ago I posted a three-part series on logical fallacies, which has been one of the most popular series to date. In the series, I discussed three ways conversations break down. The Ad Hominem, Genetic, and Red Herring Fallacies all sidetrack conversations. But there are more fallacies to be aware of and avoid. In this series, I’ll discuss three more common ways conversations are sidetracked: the “Straw Man” fallacy, the “Bandwagon” fallacy, and “Begging the Question.”
Doesn’t the amount of evil make God’s existence unlikely? Last week I discussed two problems with this objection. This week I’ll offer a third response: it is reasonable to believe God does limit evil, for our good. Though we cannot know this through empirical investigation (by looking around, as discussed last week), upon further reflection we have two good reasons to believe that God does limit evil.
We have seen God has morally sufficient reasons to allow evil. Yet why so much? Couldn’t he accomplish his purposes by allowing much less evil than we experience? Isn’t the amount of evil reason enough to not believe in God? This is a very reasonable response often offered at this point in the discussion. At least three things may be said in response.
We often say God can do anything—this is what it means for him to be “omnipotent.” But last week I argued there is something God cannot do. He cannot create people who are free and then determine what they will choose. Some object this limits God and makes him less than all-powerful. If they are right, the response to the Problem of Evil from human freedom is derailed. Is this a good objection?
If God has good reasons to permit Evil, the argument against God due to the reality of pain and suffering evaporates. There seem to be two good reasons for God, being all-good, to nevertheless allow Evil to exist. This week I’ll offer the first reason, along with an explanation of why this makes sense.
There seems to be a compelling argument that, given the reality of Evil, God does not exist. But wait—there is more to the story! If we dig a bit deeper we find a problem with one of the premises (and therefore the entailed premise and conclusion). This week I’ll begin to explore “the rest of the story.” But to do so I must first review how to evaluate arguments.
Some believe God exists, but he can’t do anything about pain and suffering. He is just not powerful enough. Others believe God exists, but he doesn’t want to do anything about pain and suffering. He is just not good enough. Both attempts to explain the existence of God given the reality of Evil are common. I also think they are both wrong.
“Life is pain…. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.” So says the Dread Pirate Roberts (in The Princess Bride—a must-see movie!) Roberts is right. Life is full of pain. From getting splinters while woodworking to losing loved ones (as I wrote about in my last series here), we all suffer more than we care to admit.
I was surprised this topped the charts last year. It is on a very important topic, but is quite technical. I decided to write it because it needed to be written, but I didn’t think it would get many views. 560 people thought otherwise, making this the most popular post of last year. (It being promoted by someone else in December didn’t hurt either!)
As I did last year, I am again re-posting the top three articles from last year. The third most-read article was “Announcing the Society of Christian Scholars” posted July 5 and having 432 readers.
This is a good time to repost this article—we are less than two months away from the establishment of the Society of Christian Scholars! If you know any Christian professors, graduate students/post docs, or campus ministers/campus pastors who serve Christian professors, please help us get the word out by inviting them to visit www.SocietyofChristianScholars.org.
Before determining the morality of abortion, we must first reflect deeply on what a human person is, and when a human person begins. Last week I discussed the first issue. Secondly, when does human life begin? There are two ways to answer this question. They both come to the same conclusion, yet by different routes. Each has pros and cons, and we should use them in different contexts. Understanding this is essential in developing both our personal and our social ethic concerning this issue.
“Roe Isn’t Just About Women’s Rights. It’s About Everyone’s Personal Liberty.” was the title of an opinion piece in The Washington Post on July 8. It is one of many articles written about the possibility of a new member of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. How can Christians best think about and discuss this issue with others?
We all want to be faithful to our Lord’s command to see the gospel permeate and change the world. As Christians, we see countless ways things are not as they should be—people alienated from God, one another, God’s good creation, and even themselves. As a result, they live and lead from non-Christian beliefs and values, which results in shattered lives, fractured families, human trafficking, oppressive regimes, and many other forms of alienation from God and one another.
(As we look back on 2017 I'm posting the three blog posts which received the most views. If you missed these the first time around, hopefully you will enjoy these reposts!) Within the past two weeks, Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston and Hurricane Irma swept over Florida. My wife and I have many friends and relatives in Florida, and so we have been glued to the news. Now that we have all had time to catch our collective breath and begin to assess the damage, there is much to learn. I see three reminders in the events of the past few weeks: we live in a fallen world, everyone knows this is not the way it ought to be, and our call is to be good stewards of this world. (I’m interrupting my leadership blog series to discuss these reminders this week.)