“…the Bible tells me so”

29 01 2012

PWND - I see...it means, "Take an argument out of its context and then allow no reply."

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.”

Unfortunately,  Lacey then seizes on both an incorrect definition of and a false dichotomy between “morality” and “religion”.  “I believe in…doing right regardless of what I’m told…not in doing what I’m told regardless of what’s right.”  Why not just be clear and say, “I follow my own rules, regardless of what the rest of human history has found to be just and prudent through millennia of trial and error”?

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.


300,000 Ninjas Stealthily March Past Reporters During the 39th Annual March for Life

27 01 2012

…However mere “thousands” were spotted – and deemed unimportant

One would think that even 10,000 people marching on our nation’s capitol any weekend during the summer would be picked up by the Major Media. The newshounds seem to love a good march whenever it comes up. The Occupy Wall Street protesters, for example, started with a mere 1,000 marchers before being picked up by the news, who followed the movement for months. The highest estimates place the total number of protestors around 30,000 and they received worldwide coverage.

This past Monday, in nearly freezing temperatures and rain, an estimated 300,000-400,000 protestors marched through the streets of Washington D.C. up to the Capitol steps – and went largely unnoticed.

Though the March for Life has occured annually for 39 years and consistently had numbers over 250,000 every year since 2003, The New York Times never even mentioned it. No story, no pictures – it didn’t happen if you’re a Times reader.

In fact, it hasn’t even had a mention in 5 years.

Those news sources that did actually run a story, had headlines such as, “Thousands March to Protest Roe” and give the opposition the final word:

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement that politicians supporting the March for Life were ignoring more pressing issues.
“Anti-choice politicians and their allies promised to focus on creating jobs, yet they are attacking a woman’s right to choose at near-record levels,” Keenan said.

“Near-record levels” is quite true, though you wouldn’t know it from the way the Major Media tells the story.

I was in 6 hours of Physical Therapy on Monday, listening to the March on Sacred Heart Radio using the TuneIn Radio app on my phone. The TV was on in the gym side all day. I didn’t see a single mention of it on King5 (NBC) news. I would be surprised if they even mentioned the local March for Life in Olympia a few days back.

I can understand a reporter hitting a story with bias – even heavy bias – because we all have some. Not reporting a story at all due to bias against it is just plain Orwellian, and a bit creepy. I will add that I dislike Fox News for the same reason. Creating competing news outlets makes “news” into a product to be sold to consumers who only want to hear what their burning ears’ desire.

My primary concern does not stem from a single news outlet missing the story. It does not even stem from gross bias like that displayed by CBS, for I have come to expect that sort of bias. It does not originate in my recent conversion to and empathy for the ProLife movement. Any one of these issues alone touches me. However, the Gestalt, more even than the sum total, of all of these factors, combined with an increasing observance of the lack of Logic, Rhetoric, and willingness to engage in friendly, or even tolerant debate amongst our citizenry moves me to write. I am increasingly concerned that my fellow Americans neither know how to engage in debate, nor are they willing even to examine or understand their own convictions. Many are capable of Sophistry, though most seem to prefer Apathy. This seems to be equally consistent on both sides of a party, religious, or idealogical line.

We are a Media generation: Television, YouTube, and Twitter. We want our ideologies in 30 minutes or less (including commercials). We want our arguments in 10 minutes or less (usually done by webcam). Our ideas, sadly, have become limited to 120 characters. The Essay as a form of argument is going the way of the dinosaur (and no, I don’t mean it’s going to become a Discovery Channel series with awesome CGI).

That the major media sources ignored or misrepresented what happened on this 39th anniversary of Roe v Wade is unfortunate for the Pro-Life movement. It is, however, a symptom of a far greater problem. A problem for every American of any race, creed, or persuasion: What good will Freedom of Speech accomplish when only agendas are advanced, and not truth?

UPDATE 1/28/2012
CBS has relented and included pictures of pro-life protesters in their gallery!

UPDATE 2/2/2012
Apparently I stole my headline from BadgerCatholic who stole it from Lauren E last year!

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