The poster started with a definition, and so shall I:
Plausible but fallacious argumentation
In my last post I lamented that we live in a world of snippets and soundbites. I am all too often provided with examples such as this. I would say that this is full of fallacious arguments, but it’s not full of much of anything since the “transcript” is neither sourced nor complete. Nevertheless, it has a particularly memey smell to it, so I figured I ought to provide a ready response for those who would like to consider this further.
The first arguer, Patti, doesn’t really make an argument. If she got the chance to, we never see it. She states a fact that the second arguer, called “Lacey” doesn’t dispute.
First I will point out where Pinky has a great point: Needing more justification than “the Bible says so” is commendable. Someone must interpret the document and determine what it says and why. Lacey apparently doesn’t find Patti’s interpretation wrong, but spews out a bunch of other “rules in the Bible” that apparently she doesn’t think Patti lives out or would agree to. That is another book length (or documentary length) topic.
It’s a weird sort of Hypocricy by Association (often incorrectly called “Judging”) – “You don’t live out everything the Bible says, so you have no right to tell anyone else what is Right or Wrong on any topic, because that would be Really Wrong.”
Basically, she asserts her desire to conform all Conformists to her specific brand of Nonconformity. This borders on hypocrisy, but I think that Lacey just didn’t fully think through her argument.
Let’s clarify terms:
Morality is simply a set of principles that govern behaviour. “This is Right. That is Wrong. This Other Thing is okay only on the second Tuesday of the month.” Where one obtains this code is a separate issue.
Religion is a set of principles that govern the outward signs of a serious spiritual practice. In short: A code of Worship. The way in which one worships often influences ones’ morality, but we all know someone who can be “religious” without being “moral”.
Without any code to remind us when we go astray (I’m just thinking of all the examples of how *I* tend to go astray, here) morality becomes subjective, and hence, useless. The very concept of “right” is nonsensical otherwise. Without a standard or code, “right” becomes “what I prefer right now”. What’s the use of having rules if there are no consequences for not keeping them? Even gambling is no fun without rules. Imagine a casino where you sometimes didn’t lose money, but they almost never paid out.
Codes, however, do not function as a dead letter. A written code without an interpreter of that code leaves one no better off than having no code at all – unless you’re a Sophist. Terms can be redefined, arguments can be made, and we are back to arguing that “this code says what I prefer right now”.
This is the result of 500 years of Sola Scriptura (Bible Alone). Each individual believer is the sole arbiter of Truth. The result is that more people deride the Church and what she has always stood for.
By way of analogy, replace “right” with “law” and imagine for a moment what state of anarchy our nation would be in if each citizen got to decide how to interpret the Constitution. You get pulled over and the officer says “You can’t have a gun”, but you say, “I have the right to bear arms!” and a shoot-out ensues.
Fortunately, our Founding Fathers gave us the Supreme Court – 9 Justices who can rule with authority as to what the Constitution says. It isn’t a perfect system, but it is far preferable to chaos.
Fortunately, Jesus didn’t leave us a book – he left us a Church.