We found a splendid article at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else.
The title is Catch Countless Logical Fallacies with One Critical Thinking Hack. It was written by Patricia Engler, one of AIG’s splendid cadre of creationists. Here’s AIG’s bio page for her. They say:
Patricia Engler serves as a speaker, writer and youth outreach coordinator for Answers in Genesis (AiG) Canada. Her passion for biblical apologetics ignited at age 14, when she first heard a seminar by AiG founder Ken Ham. After 12 years of homeschooling, Patricia completed a BSc with distinction at a liberal Canadian university. There, she studied intensely evolutionary courses to learn firsthand how Christian students can navigate secular education without compromising their biblical worldview.
Impressive, huh? Here are some excerpts from Patty’s article, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
First Peter 3:15 urges us as believers to defend our hope with gentleness and respect. By gently bringing a matter back to the question of what truth is — and Who truth comes from, we can communicate a biblical, logical response, expressing the truth in love.
Then she lists several claims that are always being made by secularists:
• “No real scientist questions evolutionary human origins.”
• “Teaching children that the Scriptures are true is nothing less than child abuse.”
• “There’s too much hypocrisy in the church for Christianity to be worth believing.”
• “Religion is humanity’s most lethal weapon, and the most dangerous people are people of faith.”
• “Intelligent design is a whacked-out tea party movement.”
That’s quite a list of provocative claims! Patty says:
Sound familiar? These are the sorts of messages we encounter regularly in today’s secular classrooms and culture, which have largely come to view the Bible as something akin to expired milk — outdated, distasteful, and potentially dangerous. [Yuk!] Yet besides being distinctly unbiblical [which is bad enough], these messages (and many others) share one thing in common: they all make arguments based on something irrelevant to truth.
Aha! All those horrible claims are irrelevant to The Truth™. This should be a very informative article. Patty tells us exactly what’s wrong with those claims:
Instead, they persuade through channels including emotion, eloquence, positive or negative associations, name-calling, and powerful psychological phenomena, like humans’ need for acceptance. In other words, they’re all propaganda.
Propaganda? That’s horrible! She continues:
[P]ropaganda includes many forms of communication that persuade by appealing to something besides logic. And arguments that use propaganda often involve a class of flawed logic called fallacies of irrelevant premises. There’s a long, long list of these fallacies, but one critical thinking hack can help you catch any of them and respond to any argument from propaganda. It’s probably the most useful critical thinking hack I can share. And all you have to do is ask one question: “Is this message true or false because . . . .”
Patty gives us a bunch of examples. We’ll edit them to keep the length of this post reasonable. Here we go:
For instance, is a message true because many people seem to think so? No, history and social psychology have shown that large groups of people can be — and often are — wrong together.
Similarly, is a message true because someone smart, famous, or wealthy said so? Or, on the flip side, is a message false simply because someone unsophisticated, immoral, or hypocritical said so? Not necessarily.
Is a message true or false because it evokes strong emotions, like fear, pity, anger, or joy? Again, no: arguments that try to persuade by manipulating people’s feelings rely on different fallacies called Appeals to Emotions.
Is a message true because it’s communicated well? Many of my evolutionary professors, for example, were extremely eloquent, … almost whatever they said sounded true. But I had to remind myself that a message isn’t true just because it’s eloquently expressed.
Okay, one more example: Is a message true because people who disagree are called names? Again, no. Insulting a messenger cannot affect the truth of the message.
Fascinating, huh? Now she sums it all up:
To catch countless fallacies of irrelevant premises, the key is simply to ask, “Is this true or false because . . . ?”
That’s all you need to know, dear reader. And now we come to the end:
So, by gently bringing a matter back to the question of what truth is — and Who truth comes from, we can communicate a biblical, logical response, expressing the truth in love.
Patty is a genius! We look forward to seeing more of her articles.
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