Archive for May, 2015

God and time

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

Clock

(Clock by Petr Kratochvil, public domain)

By Spencer D Gear

I don’t know if this article will be of interest to those of you who read my writing. It does get a bit philosophically, theologically, and technically challenging in places, ‘A Critique of Grudem’s Formulation and Defense of the Doctrine of Divine Eternity‘, by Christian apologist and philosopher, William Lane Craig (1996).

However, there is a diagram here of Grudem’s understanding of God’s relationship to time that Craig describes as a ‘more adequate account’ of a view of God and time than Grudem (1994) presents in his systematic theology. Here is Grudem’s diagrammatic summary:

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While this image is from Craig (1996), he copied it from Grudem (1994:171). It also is in Grudem (1999:77).

Works consulted

Grudem, W 1994. Systematic theology: An introduction to biblical doctrine. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press / Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Grudem, W 1999. Bible doctrine: Essential teachings of the Christian faith. J Purswell (ed). Leister, England: Inter-Varsity Press (published by arrangement with Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

One writer’s illogical outburst

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

File:Logic portal.svg

Logic portal (courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

How should we deal with a journalist who writes an op-ed piece in a popular newspaper online and uses unreasonable tactics? I am choosing to expose this writer’s illogical devices.

John Birmingham,[1] for the Brisbane Times, wrote an opinion piece, ‘For God’s sake, how did he get out?’ (February 6, 2014).[2] Part of Birmingham’s cynicism was:

I’m sorry, Kentucky. We could have kept him here, you know. We have a large containment facility where we store all of our Ken Hams, a free range Wallyworld we like to call the Sunshine State. I’m not sure how Ham got out of the Queensland high school system where he had been teaching – ahem – science, and made his way to your fair shores, but, sorry about that.

This is part of his ‘comment’ on the USA debate between Australian-born creationist and former Queensland science school teacher, Ken Ham, and popular scientist, Bill Nye. The debate was held at the Creation Museum, Petersburg, Kentucky, on February 4, 2014, and the debate was titled: ‘Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?’. All of the criticism was against Ken Ham, the creationist. I did not read one piece of critique of Bill Nye’s views. In fact, apart from identification of Nye as one debater, I didn’t read a thing about Nye’s views. There was only one snippet of news grab video associated with the article. It was nothing more than a grab one would get from a TV news bulletin. To listen to the debate, see, ‘Bill Nye debates Ken Ham’.

We will notice that John Birmingham used logical fallacies in his article and some of the comments which follow use logical fallacies that create situations where it is impossible to have a logical discussion. Reasonable conversation becomes futile. “Wallyworld’ labelling is using an ad hominem fallacy. Hang on, as I attempt to explain.

What is a logical fallacy?

‘A fallacy is, very generally, an error in reasoning. This differs from a factual error, which is simply being wrong about the facts. To be more specific, a fallacy is an “argument” in which the premises given for the conclusion do not provide the needed degree of support’ (Labossiere 1995).

Why should we even be concerned about people using logical fallacies in conversation or when they write? What is your response when a person doesn’t deal with the issues you are raising? They may give you the flick pass of avoidance, change the topic, reach a conclusion that is unrelated to the flow of the conversation, and may abuse you. Does that cause you to want to engage in discussion with them? Is it possible to have a rational conversation with people who do this?

When someone uses such a fallacy, it is unattainable to have a logical conversation with that person as the person is committing a logical error. He or she is being illogical in the discussion. When discussions become irrational – because of false logic – there is no way to get back on track until the matter is addressed.

I struck an example of an illogical discussion in this well-known journalist’s article in an opinion piece in an online newspaper.

Birmingham’s use of logical fallacies

Back to Birmingham’s cynicism and tactics in his article. He stated that

I’m sorry, Kentucky, that Ken Ham had nothing better to offer in argument than biblical passages and a weird new division between ‘observational science’ and ‘historical science’ which seemed to be based on a deeper categorical separation between ‘confusing thinky stuff often involving big sums’ and ‘awesome bible stories which would be even more awesome with a hard-rockin’ but not too hard Christian rock soundtrack.’

a. Appeal to ridicule

Notice his tactics:

  • ‘Ken Ham had nothing better to offer in argument than biblical passages and a weird new division between “observational science” and “historical science”’ (Birmingham 2014).

Here Birmingham committed the logical fallacy known as, ‘Appeal to ridicule fallacy’,[3] also known as ‘appeal to mockery, the horse laugh’. Labossiere explained the nature of this fallacy:

The Appeal to Ridicule is a fallacy in which ridicule or mockery is substituted for evidence in an “argument.” This line of “reasoning” has the following form:

1. X, which is some form of ridicule is presented (typically directed at the claim).

2. Therefore claim C is false.

This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because mocking a claim does not show that it is false (Appeal to ridicule fallacy: Labossiere 1995).

Birmingham’s appeal to ridicule continued: ‘“confusing thinky stuff often involving big sums” and “awesome bible stories which would be even more awesome with a hard-rockin’ but not too hard Christian rock soundtrack”’.

Birmingham is not dealing with the issues raised by Ham or Nye; he is only interested in scoffing at Ham’s tactics in the debate. It is a fallacious tactic using the illogic of an appeal to ridicule fallacy.

The ridicule continued against Ken Ham:

I promise you, Kentucky, this will not happen again.

We’ll get Mr Ham back here and make sure he’s securely confined again where he belongs. Teaching science in the Queensland school system (Birmingham 2014).

The ridicule is used to avoid dealing with the issues Ken Ham raised in the debate. It is obvious that Birmingham is against the content of Ham’s portion of the debate but not once in this article did he engage his readers with the evidence Ham raised. Birmingham’s points were to denigrate Ham and what Ham considers is a biblical position on creation. Birmingham’s view was:

We have a large containment facility where we store all of our Ken Hams, a free range Wallyworld we like to call the Sunshine State. I’m not sure how Ham got out of the Queensland high school system where he had been teaching – ahem – science, and made his way to your fair shores, but, sorry about that.

That’s another appeal to ridicule. It’s a despicable tactic to avoid dealing with the issues raised. It’s a scoffing ploy to avoid fronting the matters Ham advanced. It is sloppy, illogical journalism that is meant to divert attention from the content of the debate.

Birmingham did it especially with the title of his article, ‘For God’s sake, how did he get out?’ He detests biblical creation, but has no problem using ‘God’ in what seems like a blasphemous way. ‘How did he get out?’

He’s talking about how he got out of Queensland, Australia with this language: ‘Border control somehow slipped up and let Ken Ham out of the country’; ‘Ken Ham out of the country’, ‘I’m not sure how Ham got out of the Queensland high school system’, and ‘we’ll get Mr Ham back here and make sure he’s securely confined again where he belongs. Teaching science in the Queensland school system’.

But there is more….

b. Ad hominem fallacy

Birmingham’s use of logical fallacies continued. As an adjunct at the end of his article, he wrote an ‘updater’ in which he gave his assessment of those who made comments to his article:

Vintage comments below. Who’d a thunk a blog about nut job creationism would bring out the nut job creationists. I’d be fascinated for all the fairy tale fans who comment today to add some extra data. Just for me. If you believe the world was created in six days, could you also tell me whether you find the science of climate change to be (a) compelling, or (b) a conspiracy of super wealthy lab coat wearing geeks (Birmingham 2014)

Notice what he does here.

· He uses ‘thunk’, which is crass language for lack of thinking by idiots. The Urban Dictionary gives the meaning of ‘thunk’ as, ‘Hillbilly terminoligy for thought’ (Urban dictionary 2004. S v thunk). Another definition was, ‘bastardization of thought. Used only by idiots with poor grammar’ (Urban dictionary 2003. S v thunk).

blue-corrosion-arrow-small ‘Nut job creationism’;

blue-corrosion-arrow-small ‘Nut job creationists’;

blue-corrosion-arrow-small ‘Fairy tale fans who comment’;

blue-corrosion-arrow-small Six day creationists: Could you ‘tell me whether you find the science of climate change’ compelling or a conspiracy?

‘Thunk’ and ‘nut job’ are designed as name calling or an attack against the person. What is this? It is known as an ad hominem fallacy and is illogical (fallacious) reasoning:

An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting). This type of “argument” has the following form:

1. Person A makes claim X.

2. Person B makes an attack on person A.

3. Therefore A’s claim is false.

The reason why an Ad Hominem (of any kind) is a fallacy is that the character, circumstances, or actions of a person do not (in most cases) have a bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim being made (or the quality of the argument being made) [Ad Hominem: Labossiere 1995].

c. Red herring fallacy

What is Birmingham doing when he asks, ‘Six day creationists: Could you “tell me whether you find the science of climate change” compelling or a conspiracy?’ The topic is six day creationism but he goes to ‘the science of climate change’. What is he doing? He’s switching topics. He doesn’t want to discuss the topic he raises, ‘six day creationists’, but goes to what he wants to discuss – climate change. This is known as a red herring fallacy because he switches topics but going to an irrelevant topic that is not related to the theory put forward by six day creationists.

What’s the nature of a red herring fallacy? It’s also called a smoke screen or a wild goose chase.

A Red Herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to “win” an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic. This sort of “reasoning” has the following form:

1. Topic A is under discussion.

2. Topic B is introduced under the guise of being relevant to topic A (when topic B is actually not relevant to topic A).

3. Topic A is abandoned.

This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because merely changing the topic of discussion hardly counts as an argument against a claim (Red Herring: Labossiere 1995).

Birmingham’s model set for the commenters

I took the opportunity to respond online to Birmingham with a comment:

I have come to respect the Brisbane Times as a reliable online news service.

That objectivity flew out the journalistic window with this comment.

John Birmingham’s cynical sarcasm of the Nye-Ham debate on creationism and science was an example of bias. The assessment of the debate in, ‘Clash over worldviews’ (Creation Ministries International), at least treated the content of the Nye vs Ham debate seriously. But that would be too creationist savvy for Birmingham.

Now is the time for the Brisbane Times to present a balanced perspective by asking a creationist, say from the Brisbane-based Creation Ministries International (that employs PhD scientists), to respond to the debate and publish in the Brisbane Times.[4]

File:Nicolas P. Rougier's rendering of the human brain.png

Nicolas P. Rougier’s rendering of the human brain.png (courtesy Wikipedia)

The rant and rave

Then came the predictable tirade of comments against what I, a reasonable and responsible Christian, wrote. Let’s examine a few of the comments:

a. Ad hominem

Here’s one of them:

Dougie,
I hold responsible CMI, Church of ‘Christ’ or whatever the whackos call themselves and people like you for the following-
Back around 1999 2000 I was studying with a young man at tertiary Level in the subject of Physics.
We were lab partners and I very much enjoyed his company.
He left Uni after succumbing to the shit that causes brain and knowledge cancer called ‘Christianity’.
I am Christian, but the shit these cults use is very potent.
Like suicide bombers going to heaven in ISlam I guess.
Messes their heads up right and proper.
I tried after a plea from his family to call him back from picking nuts for some ‘church’.
Slave Labour in other words.
I don’t know where he is but I wish him well.
This type of ‘Religion’ is a mental illness.[5]

Note his ad hominem attacks, ‘the whackos … and people like you’; ‘the shit that causes brain and knowledge cancer called “Christianity”’; ‘the shit these cults use’, ‘Slave Labour in other words’. These are illogical ad hominem fallacies that prevent reasonable discussion of the issues raised.

To say, ‘I am Christian’, and then speak about ‘the shit that causes brain and knowledge cancer called “Christianity”’, smacks of hypocrisy.

Then this person is using another fallacy.

b. Genetic fallacy

He blamed CMI [Creation Ministries International], Church of ‘Christ’, ‘Christianity’ and me (he doesn’t even know me apart from what I wrote) for what happened to a young man studying physics with him.[6] Blaming other organisations, Christianity and me for causing this situation is using a genetic logical fallacy where ‘a perceived defect in the origin of a claim or thing is taken to be evidence that discredits the claim or thing itself. It is also a line of reasoning in which the origin of a claim or thing is taken to be evidence for the claim or thing’ (Genetic fallacy: Labossiere 1995).

Another commenter perpetrated the same fallacy when he wrote:

I roared with laughter when commenter Dougie suggested that Creation Ministries International, the Brisbane based Young Earth Creationist outfit, be asked to provide some context or commentary on the debate.
Dougie must have a short memory. Ken Ham committed a fraud against CMI when he stole CMI’s magazine subscriber base. When CMI filed suit against Ken Ham for “unbiblical, unethical, and unlawful behaviour”, Ken Ham shot straight back claiming CMI staff had “spiritual problems”, including inferring they had issues with “immorality, witchcraft and necrophilia.”

The dispute dragged on, acrimoniously, from 2005 to 2009, confirming to Christians and non-Christians alike that neither Creationist outfit neither understands or follows the teachings of Jesus. Hardly surprising.[7]

Observe his approach. He did not deal with the issue I raised but used the conflict about fraud between Ken Ham and CMI. This is blaming issues with two organisations and this has nothing to do with the matter which I raised. When Nathan referred to a defect in the origin of a claim rather than dealing with the claim itself, he committed a genetic logical fallacy.

By the way, I do not support Christians taking Christians to court on the basis of what is taught in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 (NLT). However, Nathan scuttles logical discussion about the creation-evolution debate by spinning off into a discussion he wants to pursue about Ken Ham vs CMI conflict (a genetic fallacy). This shipwrecks logical discussion about the issues at hand.

c. Appeal to ridicule

Nathan also committed the appeal to ridicule fallacy of flaming and goading me with his comment, ‘I roared with laughter when commenter Dougie suggested….’. He also did it with his statement, ‘confirming to Christians and non-Christians alike that neither Creationist outfit neither (sic) understands or (sic) follows the teachings of Jesus. Hardly surprising’.

There are quite a few other responses to me that I could examine for fallacies used, but let’s look at one more by Big willie Style:

@ Dougie “Now is the time for the Brisbane Times to present a balanced prspective…”

a. The article includes video footage of the debate between Nye & Ham. You’re free to investigate further, as is anyone else, and get both sides of the argument.

b. You do realise Blunt Instrument is an opinion column? JB [John Birmingham] isn’t BT’s [Brisbane Time’s] resident writer on scients, religion, politics or anything else. He’s free to give his opinion, as are you.

c. “A balanced perspective”. Spare me. Fairfax and the ABC are the only sane media organisations left in this country. Jump over to one of the Daily Terror’s online articles and try and post a comment that disagrees with their status quo. All the reason, logic and correct grammar in the world won’t help you get it through the moderator. For an institution that bangs on about free speech, the Murdochracy is doing its best to ensure otherwise.[8]

Big willie has engaged in one of the common fallacies to side-track an argument. He built a….

d. Straw man fallacy

What is that? ‘The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position…. This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because attacking a distorted version of a position simply does not constitute an attack on the position itself. One might as well expect an attack on a poor drawing of a person to hurt the person’ (Straw man: Labossiere 1995).

How does Big willie do this? He cited what I said, ‘Now is the time for the Brisbane Times to present a balanced perspective…’ Then he gave what he considered was ‘a balanced perspective’:

coil-gold-sm There is video footage of the debate in the article. No there is NOT, Willie. There is only a TV news grab, not the whole debate. What he failed to say was that John Birmingham’s article, even though an opinion piece, did not fairly address the issues raised by BOTH debaters. John hoed into Ken Ham’s views but Bill Nye’s views were given a clean slate.

coil-gold-sm I’m free to investigate further (both sides of the debate). That does not give a balanced written piece of opinion by JB. I had to Google for the debate online.

coil-gold-sm The writer is free to give his opinion because it is an opinion piece of writing. Fair enough! But opinion when it is one-eyed is not giving an opinion on the content that both men in the debate gave. It is bigotry when only one side is lambasted by a writer.

coil-gold-sm If I want ‘a balanced perspective’, I should go to Fairfax or the ABC says Big willie, as they ‘are the only sane media organisations left in this country’. The others are described as ‘Daily Terror’s online articles’ and ‘Murdochracy’.

These points are obviously in support of Big willie’s view but he is presenting a picture of a person who ‘simply ignores a person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position’. I’m speaking about the Ham-Nye positions. It’s a straw man fallacy (Straw man: Labossiere 1995).

In his last point, Big willie has committed another fallacy with his preferring Fairfax and the ABC over the Daily Mirror (which he calls Daily Terror) and Murdoch (News Limited) newspapers/publications, which he called ‘Murdochracy’. This is another example of the appeal to ridicule fallacy.

Conclusion

Logical discussion by both writers and those who provide comments to those writers (even letters-to-the-editor) can be inhibited when logical fallacies are used. An examination of this article by John Birmingham and some of the comments has demonstrated that some of the common fallacies used were: appeal to ridicule, ad hominem, red herring, straw man, and genetic fallacy.

It is important for readers of any material to be aware of the nature of logical fallacies, name them where possible, and to show how logical discussion is handicapped by the use of fallacies.

The creation-evolution debate is only one of the topics that attracts those who engage in this kind of illogical activity. Logical fallacies use fallacious reasoning that causes logical discussion to be shipwrecked on the rocks of unreasonableness.

I invite you to read all of the comments to the John Birmingham article to identify the use of further logical fallacies. I have relied on Michael Labossiere’s identification and explanation of a group of logical fallacies.

What kinds of logical fallacies are used in this comment?

That is correct. JB [John Birmingham] is biased. We all are.

He is biased in favour of common sense, critical thinking and evidence based knowledge.

On the other hand there are a lot of people posting here who are biased in favour of believing stories that are clearly not meant to be true or accurate.

Take your pick.[9]

Works consulted

Birmingham, J 2014. For God’s sake, how did he get out? Brisbane Times (online), February 6. Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/blunt-instrument/for-gods-sake-how-did-he-get-out-20140205-321yi (Accessed 30 May 2015).

Labossiere, M C 1995. Fallacies. The Nizkor Project (online). Available at: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ (Accessed 30 May 2015).

Notes


[1] The Brisbane Times identifies John Birmingham as ‘a columnist and blogger for Fairfax Media. He is also an award winning magazine writer and the author of Leviathan, the Unauthorised Biography of Sydney, which won the National Award for Non-Fiction. He amuses himself in his down time by writing novels which improve with altitude’. Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/by/John-Birmingham (Accessed 30 May 2015).

[2] Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/blunt-instrument/for-gods-sake-how-did-he-get-out-20140205-321yi (Accessed 30 May 2015).

[3] All examples of logical fallacies in my article here are by Michael C Labossiere (1995).

[4] Dougie, North Lakes, Qld, February 06, 2014, 7.56AM, available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/blunt-instrument/for-gods-sake-how-did-he-get-out-20140205-321yi (Accessed 30 May 2015).

[5] Ibid., Dino not to be confused with, Sydney, February 06, 2014, 5:38PM.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., Nathan Zamprogno, Sydney, February 06, 2014, 1:49PM.

[8] Ibid., Big willie Style, February 06, 2014, 9:05AM.

[9] Ibid.,Seedysea, February 06, 2014, 11:36AM.

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

Why politicians should not support ‘marriage equality’[1]

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

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Former lesbian, Jeanette Howard (photo courtesy vimeo)

By Spencer D Gear

Australia’s politicians are being asked to vote on same-sex marriage in parliament in a Marriage Equality Bill sponsored by the Labor Party.

The Labor Party Bill

According to the Brisbane Times, this is how Bill Shorten’s Bill will change the definition of marriage in Australia to allow for homosexual as well as heterosexual marriage unions:

The words “man and woman” and “husband and wife” will be replaced by “two people” in the Marriage Act under Bill Shorten’s proposal to redefine marriage in Australia.

Under the changes gay couples who have already married overseas would have their unions recognised under Australian law, with the repeal of section 88EA of the Act….

And, as flagged by Mr Shorten earlier this week, ministers of religion will not be required to solemnise a marriage where the parties to the marriage are of the same sex.

The Labor leader’s bill to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia, which will be introduced to Federal Parliament on Monday, defines marriage as  “the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”.

The current definition in the Marriage Act, which would be replaced, states it is “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”.

The repeal of section 88EA and the redefinition of marriage as between two people would reverse former prime minister John Howard’s 2004 amendments to the Act.

The same-sex marriage bill, Marriage Amendment (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015, allows a union between two people regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status (Massola 2015).

However, the Labor Party is joined by some in the Liberal Party government to support same-sex marriage: ‘Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull says he expects parliament will legalise same-sex marriage before the end of the year…. Mr Turnbull says rapidly changing community attitudes to same-sex marriage are likely to ensure the move will ultimately succeed’.[3]

Reasons for rejecting this Bill

A Channel 9 news report for 27 May 2015 stated:

Australians who support gay marriage are being urged to contact their local MP or Senator to voice their opinions, with marriage equality campaigners saying the country is now within “striking distance” of legalising same-sex marriages.

Australian Marriage Equality’s deputy director Ivan Hinton-Teoh today praised federal opposition leader Bill Shorten’s announcement Labor would move a bill in the House of Representatives on Monday to legalise gay marriage.

But he’s urged everyday Australians to keep the pressure up on politicians to ensure the bill passes.

“It’s important our elected officials understand the strength of support (for gay marriage),” Mr Hinton-Teoh told the TODAY Show.

“The most important thing people can do is share their stories, get in contact with their MPs and Senators.”

Mr Shorten yesterday gave formal notice of the bill, which will be seconded by his deputy Tanya Plibersek, stating he will present a bill “for an Act to amend the Marriage Act 1961 to establish marriage equality”.

“Our current law excludes some individuals – and to me, that is unacceptable,” Mr Shorten said.

“I believe the time has well and truly come for the Parliament to debate marriage equality.”

While support for marriage equality seems strong among many parliamentarians, the Abbott government could simply use its numbers in the Lower House to send the bill to a committee.

Some recent polls have put Australia’s support for gay marriage at an all-time high of 72 percent.[4]

We wouldn’t be caused to wonder which view Channel 9 is pushing. We get a similar emphasis from Australia’s ABC News:

In a statement, Mr Shorten said the time had come for Parliament to debate marriage equality and that he found it unacceptable current laws excluded some individuals.

The bill will come before the House of Representatives on Monday.

“I know this private members bill will not have the universal support of my colleagues,” Mr Shorten said.

“It will challenge the deeply held personal beliefs of MPs and senators on both sides of politics.

“This is why Labor members have the freedom to vote their conscience, a freedom Tony Abbott is currently denying his party.”

Even with a conscience vote in the Labor Party, Mr Shorten does not have the numbers to pass his bill.

Rather he is using it to urge the Prime Minister to grant a conscience vote to his MPs, something the Coalition already appears to be edging towards.

In recent days, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull described Australia as the “odd one out” on same-sex marriage among Commonwealth nations including the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada.

Renewed debate in Australia has been triggered by Ireland’s vote in favour of marriage equality in a referendum at the weekend.

“The world isn’t waiting for Tony Abbott and our Parliament shouldn’t have to,” Mr Shorten said.

“I know there are Coalition MPs who’d support marriage equality if Tony Abbott granted them a free vote.”

Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos said the Coalition had been waiting to see how the Labor Party would move on the matter.

“I know some of my colleagues, like Warren Entsch and others, want to raise the issue and have talked about having game plans on this,” he said.

“So we’ll wait until next week, but certainly I would support a conscience vote on this.”[5]

AustralianChristianLobbyLogo2011a.jpg

(logo courtesy Wikipedia)

How does the Australian Christian Lobby respond to this proposed legislation? On 26 May 2015, it had this article on its website: ‘Shorten fails to consider the consequences of changing marriage’. Here it stated that,

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s same-sex marriage bill fails to consider the consequences of changing the definition of marriage in law, according the Australian Christian Lobby.

“It is disappointing that Australia’s alternative prime minister is legislating a family structure which requires a child to miss out on their mum or dad.

“Many Australians are watching with great concern as florists, photographers and cake makers in other countries are being legally punished simply because they prefer not to participate in a same-sex wedding.

“I wonder if Mr Shorten has considered the consequences of changing the definition of marriage,” Mr Shelton said.

“We urge parliamentarians to vote against the bill.”

In another article, ‘Why Australia should not rush to follow Ireland’ (ACL 26 May 2015), ACL stated:

So militant have they [homosexual marriage activists] become that we are beginning to see glimpses of what life might be like for dissenters in a post gay marriage future.

Senior Labor MP Jenny Macklin gave some insights in an interview with Chris Uhlmann on ABC1’s Insiders recently.

Supporting Labor’s deputy leader Tanya Plibersek’s push to expel parliamentarians from the party who don’t toe the line on changing marriage,  Macklin equated discrimination on the basis of ‘sexual preference’ with racial and gender discrimination.

Uhlmann had the presence of mind to pick her up on this and make the obvious follow-up point.

Uhlmann – “You are arguing that a person who disagrees with you on this is the same as a racist, that they are a bigot.”

Macklin – “I am not calling anybody names.”

Uhlmann – “But that is the natural extension of what you are saying.”[6]

Of course Uhlmann is right. Whether she wants to admit it or not, what Macklin is saying is that millions of Australians who will never support redefining marriage are the moral equivalents of racists or misogynists. Nice.

With attitudes towards dissent like this, it is no wonder 28 per cent of traditional marriage supporters in Ireland told pollsters they were too afraid to express their views openly.

Email to politicians

Thumbtack note email by zeimusuThe following is what I wrote to my local federal MP and some Queensland Senators.[7]

1. Parliament does not determine the nature of marriage. Since the beginning of time that was determined by God: ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24), affirmed by Jesus (Matthew 19:5), and confirmed by the apostle Paul (Ephesians 5:31). This Australian nation has its foundation in Christian principles. Please do not go down the route of populist parliamentary and community appeal.

2. It is only the union of a man-woman that has the potential to produce children naturally. Even for artificial insemination or IVF, there is need for the ‘seed’ of male AND female. Male-male or female-female will not do it. Surely this should scream at politicians, GAY MARRIAGE GOES AGAINST A FOUNDATION PILLAR OF AUSTRALIAN SOCIETY!

3. Are you prepared to throw caution to the wind and change the meaning of marriage in a very risky social and political experiment? Heather Barwick is the daughter of lesbians. In an article in the Courier-Mail (March 20, 2015, ‘Heather Barwick, the daughter of lesbians, against gay marriage….), she said: ‘Growing up, and even into my 20s, I supported and advocated for gay marriage. It’s only with some time and distance from my childhood that I’m able to reflect on my experiences and recognise the long-term consequences that same-sex parenting had on me. It’s only now, as I watch my children loving and being loved by their father each day, that I can see the beauty and wisdom in traditional marriage and parenting’.

4. Do you understand the positive impact of children being raised by a mother and father? It was reported by statistician, Graeme Archer, in The Telegraph (UK) that ‘the evidence that children raised in standard two-parent families fare, on average, better in life than their peers – and that boys in particular benefit from the presence of a father – is so strong that it takes a wilful perversion to ignore it’ (04 May 2012, ‘The village can help, but children raised by a mum and dad do best‘).

5. Part of that is because children need role models from both Mum and Dad to have a balanced development in life. The information led to Texas A&M University preparing the following material, based on research: ‘20 Reasons Why Your Child Needs You to Be an Active Father‘. A lesbian couple cannot provide this input. That’s the evidence! Do you understand the damage that will be done in legislating homosexual marriage?

6. The language of ‘marriage equality’ does not provide ‘parenting equality’ for children raised in homosexual marriages. The nature of the man-woman relationship in marriage is radically different from that of a same-sex couple. Therefore, to talk of ‘marriage equality’ is inappropriate labelling.

7. Of course two women can love each other and two men can love each other, but common sense leads to the conclusion that the nature of the loving, sexual relationship between a man and a woman is very different to that happening in same-sex relationships.

8. Do you understand how promiscuous same-sex relationships can be? Do you want children exposed to any number of different men or women in the house who are engaged in ‘bed sex’? ‘In one recent study of gay male couples, 41.3% had open sexual agreements with some conditions or restrictions, and 10% had open sexual agreements with no restrictions on sex with outside partners. One-fifth of participants (21.9%) reported breaking their agreement in the preceding 12 months, and 13.2% of the sample reported having unprotected anal intercourse in the preceding three months with an outside partner of unknown or discordant HIV-status’ (Lelands et al in Nicolosi 2009, ‘An open secret: The truth about gay male couples‘).

9. Does Australia want to be in agreement with Article 7 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child or not?  Part 1 of this article states: ‘The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents’. The last portion of this statement is shot to bits in homosexual marriage.

10. This is such a fundamental issue for the health of Australia. Politicians need to know that how they vote on this legislation will determine how I vote in the next election – and I’ll be telling my friends of their voting record on this issue.

Please consider these matters in regard to the Bill for Marriage Equality, which would be better called the Bill for Marriage Distortion for couples and children.

What is God’s view on marriage and homosexuality?

Purple Scripture ButtonSuch a question doesn’t seem to enter the minds of many Aussie politicians. However, my local MP has told me he will be supporting marriage to continue to be between a male and a female.

God’s design from the beginning of time was for marriage of a man and a woman. See Genesis 2:24-25, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed’ (ESV).

Jesus Christ affirmed this passage according to Matthew 19:4-6, ‘He answered, Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate’ (ESV).

(3)   The apostle Paul also affirmed this emphasis in Ephesians 5:31, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’ (ESV).

(4) Then add this factor from the apostle Paul who wrote of ‘men who practice homosexuality’ as being among those who were among ‘such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God’ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). In this list, homosexuals were placed among the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers who were the ‘unrighteous’ who would not inherit God’s kingdom. But Jesus changes all of these people – even homosexuals.

A redeemed and changed lesbian speaks

If you don’t believe me, read my interview with a redeemed lesbian, Jeanette Howard, ‘One woman’s journey out of lesbianism: An interview with Jeanette Howard’. I recommend her book, Out of Egypt: Leaving lesbianism behind.

clip_image003

(courtesy Kregel Publications)

For some further information see my articles:

clip_image005 Spencer Gear’s submission against homosexual marriage to the Australian House of Representatives

clip_image005[1] Loree Rudd (Kevin Rudd’s sister): Support for homosexual marriage caused a Labor Party member to quit the Party

clip_image005[2] Homosexual unions, homosexual marriage, mass media & politicians

clip_image005[3] Why should we oppose homosexual marriage?

clip_image005[4] Reasons to oppose homosexual marriage.

clip_image005[5] Is homosexual life expectancy lower than for heterosexuals?

clip_image005[6] Kevin Rudd MP’s changed position on same sex marriage is self-refuting

clip_image005[7] Queen Elizabeth II and Jesus silent on homosexuality

clip_image005[8] Religious marriage with a different twist: My response to Spencer Howson

clip_image005[9] Queensland government passed civil homosexual union Bill

Works consulted

Massola, James 2015. Bill Shorten releases details of Labor’s same-sex marriage bill, 29 May. Brisbane Times (online). Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/bill-shorten-releases-details-of-labors-samesex-marriage-bill-20150529-ghcinb.html (Accessed 30 May 2015).

Notes


[1] I sent the points, ‘Email to my politicians’ (see below) to my local member of federal parliament and some Queensland Senators in Australia on 27 May 2015.

[2] Reference deleted when edited.

[3] Amanda Cavill, SBS News, 27 May 2015, ‘Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull says he expects parliament will legalise same-sex marriage before the end of the year’. Available at: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/05/26/hopes-grow-same-sex-marriage-reform (Accessed 28 May 2015).

[4] 9news.com.au, 27 May 2015, ‘Australia now within “striking distance” of marriage equality say same-sex campaigners’, available at: http://www.9news.com.au/national/2015/05/26/02/09/greens-speed-up-marriage-equality-debate (Accessed 27 May 2015).

[5] ‘Bill Shorten to introduce private members bill to legalise same-sex marriage’, ABC News, 27 May 2015. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-26/shorten-to-introduce-bill-legalising-same-sex-marriage/6499124 (Accessed 27 May 2015).

[6] The footnote was: http://www.jennymacklin.net.au/transcript_insiders_3_may_2015.

[7] I sent the email on Wednesday, 27 May 2015.

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 June 2016.

Logical fallacies hijack discussions[1]

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

Logic function Exclusive-NOR vector drawing

(public domain)

Spencer D Gear

Over the last 10 years, I have participated in 6 Christian forums[2] worldwide and I’ve discovered that one of the most common ways to high jack a discussion has been with the use of logical fallacies.

What is a logical fallacy? To put it simply, a logical fallacy is an error in reasoning. It is a way of stating an argument where the the premises given do not support the conclusion in a statement. It is illogic in action. When this happens, it is difficult to have a logical discussion with a person.

I’ve been greatly helped in understanding the use of logical fallacies by Dr. Michael C. Labossiere, the author of a fallacy tutorial. You can find his material on The Nizkor Project site.

I mention two common fallacies that I see on Christian forum sites:

File:Kipper.JPG

kipper (wikimedia)

A.    The red herring fallacy

Labossiere explains:

A Red Herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to “win” an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic. This sort of “reasoning” has the following form:

1. Topic A is under discussion.

2. Topic B is introduced under the guise of being relevant to topic A (when topic B is actually not relevant to topic A).

3. Topic A is abandoned.

This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because merely changing the topic of discussion hardly counts as an argument against a claim (Fallacy: Red Herring).

This can happen on any Christian forum when a person, say, is discussing reasons for opposing once-saved-always-saved (OSAS) with Bible verses. A person can reply that that is not what the Bible teaches and then give a group of Bible verses to oppose the person who opposed OSAS. What does this do? It does not deal with the exact verses that a person used to oppose OSAS. The response was off and running with pro-OSAS verses. This is using a red herring fallacy and logical discussion is brought to a halt as the issue is not being dealt with – the verses that oppose OSAS.

Another fallacy that often arises is:

B.    The straw man fallacy

Labossiere’s explanation is:

The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position. This sort of “reasoning” has the following pattern:

1. Person A has position X.

2. Person B presents position Y (which is a distorted version of X).

3. Person B attacks position Y.

4. Therefore X is false/incorrect/flawed.

This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because attacking a distorted version of a position simply does not constitute an attack on the position itself. One might as well expect an attack on a poor drawing of a person to hurt the person (Fallacy: Straw Man).

I have seen this fallacy from time to time in two situations:

(a) When anti-charismatics try to expose the ‘error’ of Pentecostals. A false view of Pentecostals is not difficult to construct when one sees extremism in the movement. However, when all Pentecostals are painted with the extremist brush, it is using a straw man fallacy.

(b) Calvinists who paint all Arminians as Pelagians or semi-Pelagians. This is using a straw man fallacy.

There are a number of other fallacies I’ve seen used on Christian forums. These have included:

3d-shinnyblue-star-small Ad hominem. Most moderators of Christian forums exclude this fallacy because it most often is a flaming or goading technique.

3d-shinnyblue-star-small Begging the question (or circular reasoning). This is where a person reaches a conclusion but it is based on his/her premise. Of course that will be the conclusion reached because the person’s presuppositions demand that conclusion.

3d-shinnyblue-star-small Appeal to authority;

3d-shinnyblue-star-small Genetic fallacy.

The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Do any logical fallacies bother you in discussions with people on Christian and other forums or in discussions with people? Do you remind them of these fallacies? It is good to know the name and nature of logical fallacies. A professor of IT attends my church and he tells me that it really gets under his skin when students and staff use logical fallacies.

What say that we watch each other and the fallacies we might use in any responses on Christian forums or in personal discussions?

Some other sites dealing with logical fallacies

3d-shinnyblue-star-smallA list of fallacious arguments’,

3d-shinnyblue-star-smallLogical fallacies’;

3d-shinnyblue-star-smallLogical fallacies and the art of debate’;

3d-shinnyblue-star-smallLogical fallacies’;

3d-shinnyblue-star-smallOnline Writing Lab: Logical fallacies’ (20wl, Purdue).

Notes


[1] I started a thread with this title at Christianity Board, Christian debate forum, ‘Logical fallacies high jack discussion’, OzSpen#1, available at: http://www.christianityboard.com/topic/21503-logical-fallacies-high-jack-discussion/ (Accessed 26 May 2015).

[2] These have included Christian Fellowship Forum, Christian Forums.com, Christian Forums.net, Christianity Board, UK Christian Web, and another UK forum whose exact title I forget.

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 2 December 2015.

     

Save yourselves

Saturday, May 9th, 2015

Salvation by Faith

(image courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear

You might think that this is a ridiculous question. Seriously, is it possible for Christians to save themselves? Or, does it take God’s action to experience eternal life? This seems like a stupid question to raise as it seems self-evident that any person is not able to experience eternal salvation by his or her own actions.

But….

Take a read of Acts 2:40, ‘And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation”’ (ESV). This verse raised some interesting comments on a leading Christian forum online. Here’s a sample:

  •  ‘Well, let’s see, surely the translation of “save yourselves” must have been by synergists. We either need to delete this from Acts or explain it away from our own intelligence’.[1]

Remember the other emphases in Acts 2:

  • ‘And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Acts 2:21 ESV).
  • ‘And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved’ (Acts 2:47 ESV).

So, we seem to have three emphases:

  • Salvation comes when any person calls on the name of the Lord (v. 21);
  • People can save themselves from a crooked generation (v. 40);
  • The Lord adds those who are being saved (v. 47).

Are there contradictions here?

‘Save ourselves’ – the meaning

My response to the comment of saving ourselves was:

In Acts 2:40, what do you consider is the best translation of sothete apo tes geneas, based on the grammar of sothete?[2]These are some of the translations I have access to:

  • ‘Save yourselves from this untoward generation’ (KJV)
  • ‘Be saved from this perverse generation’ (NKJV)
  • ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation’ (ESV)
  • ‘Be saved from this perverse generation!’ (NASB)
  • ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation’ (NIV)
  • ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation’ (NRSV)
  • ‘Be saved from this corrupt generation’ (HCSB)

A response came, ‘I am not a Greek scholar, so I don’t know which is the best translation. But they all say the same thing. They all require action on the part of man’.[3]

It’s not saying the same thing[4]

They actually don’t all say the same thing. Let’s look at them again:
In Acts 2:40, what do you consider is the best translation of sothete apo tes geneas, based on the grammar of sothete?

Of those 7 translations quoted above, all of them correctly translated the verb sothete as a command, ‘Save’ or ‘Be saved’, as it is an imperative verb. However, the verb is aorist, imperative, middle-passive. Therefore, it could be translated as ‘Save yourselves’ (middle voice) of ‘Be saved’ – by somebody else (passive voice). Either one would be correct grammatically in that verse. However, when we compare with the rest of Scripture we know that Christians cannot save themselves. If it were not for the active grace of God in taking the initiative towards sinners, there would be no salvation.

Ephesians 2:8-9 makes that crystal clear: ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast’ (ESV). Therefore, any concept of ‘save yourselves’ should be abandoned as it is not consistent with the emphasis of Scripture of the need for God to take the initiative for salvation to be accomplished.

John 6:44 confirms this: ‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day’ (ESV).

Titus 2:11 affirms, ‘For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people’ (ESV).

Therefore, in my understanding of the Greek language and the context of the whole of Scripture, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation!’ (NASB) is the better translation of Acts 2:40.

There have been those who promoted self-salvation

Throughout the history of the Christian church there have those who supported ‘save yourselves’. They were:

Flower7 Pelagius (ca 390-418) and Pelagians who believed ‘the value of Christ’s redemption was, in his opinion, limited mainly to instruction (doctrina) and example (exemplum), which the Saviour threw into the balance as a counterweight against Adam’s wicked example, so that nature retains the ability to conquer sin and to gain eternal life even without the aid of grace’ (Catholic Encyclopedia: Life and Writings of Pelagius).

Flower7 Semi-Pelagians whose view of salvation is that it ‘is more than denial of the efficacy of grace for salvation; it is the affirmation of the human initiative in salvation…. Every scholar of historical theology knows that “semi-Pelagianism” is a term for a particular view of grace and free will that emerged primarily in Gallic monasticism in the fifth century in response to Augustine’s strong emphasis on grace as irresistible for the elect…. although God may initiate salvation with grace, for many people the initiative is theirs toward God. That is, God waits to see the “exercise of a good will” before responding with grace. This is what was condemned (along with predestination to evil) at Orange in 529.’ (Roger E Olson, ‘R. C. Sproul, Arminianism, and Semi-Pelagianism’, Patheos, February 22, 2013).

Conclusion

Therefore, Acts 2:21, 40 and 47 demonstrate that, (1) The Lord saves, and there is (2) The human responsibility for human beings to respond to the offer of salvation. There will be no salvation without the Lord saving and there will be no salvation without people responding in faith. So, God-centred salvation is hand in glove with human response. There is no conflict with the Gospel proclaimed, human beings responding, but it is salvation from the Lord God (because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice).

It’s interesting to see how some generally sound Bible translations such as the KJV, ESV, NIV and NRSV can translate a verb without taking into consideration the whole context of the Bible. There is conclusive evidence from Scripture that we cannot save ourselves. To save ourselves or even take the initial initiative to respond is the false teaching of  Pelagianism or semi-Pelagianism.

No human being can save himself or herself to experience eternal salvation. Therefore, ‘save yourselves’ is an heretical view of salvation that was condemned as semi-Pelagianism at the Second Council of Orange in 529. In one of its canons it stated:

CANON 7. If anyone affirms that we can form any right opinion or make any right choice which relates to the salvation of eternal life, as is expedient for us, or that we can be saved, that is, assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who makes all men gladly assent to and believe in the truth, he is led astray by a heretical spirit, and does not understand the voice of God who says in the Gospel, “For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), and the word of the Apostle, “Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5).

I recommend the article by Roger E Olson, ‘What’s wrong with Calvinism?‘ (Patheos, March 22, 2013).

Notes


[1] EmSw#2, 27 August 2014, Christian forums, General theology, Soteriology DEBATE, ‘More evidence for Christ’s death for everyone’. Available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7839226/ (Accessed 9 May 2015).

[2] Ibid., OzSpen#4.

[3] Ibid., EmSw#6.

[4] This is my reply at ibid., OzSpen#7.

 

Copyright © 2016 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 13 May 2016.