wink ;): June 2004 Archives

Faulty Logic: Straw Men

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or "Arguements up with which I will not put". The first in a series of posts where I explain why I do not accept certain kinds of arguements as valid.

Consider the following scenario:

Alice holds position A. Bob holds an opposing position, position B. Carol holds position C, which at first glance looks like position A. Bob attacks Alice using attack K, using as its central arguement Proof P. Proof P is a proof against position C.

This is the classic "straw man" setup.

Jeremy and I pretty much share our philosophy of time, the so-called "consistent" theory of time I think it is called. As much as I like this theory and hold it to be true, there is one Achilles' heel to it that I can see. Imagine the following scenario:

In 2002, Alice receives a present from Bob. The present is a watch or some other suitably complex object that must have been man-made. Alice goes back in time to 2001. She meets Bob at some point and gives him the watch.

Dilemma: who made the watch? Notice that the watch only exists from the years 2001-2002. That's spontaneous creation and destruction of matter (which might be OK on quantum scales with elemental particles, but is not so OK large, complex items).

With the "consistent theory" of time, there is no praticular reason why such a scenario could not arise. ("Branching theories" can sweep this kind of problem under the rug along with any other "inconsistencies" that go along with personal timelines trumping world timelines.) My only out seems to be that time travel (in the backwards direction) is not possible.

Any thoughts?

[Edited to swtich names around so that the example makes sense now. Kudos to Jonathan for catching the mistake.]

Circumcision

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I am bewildered by the fairly common practice of American Evangelical parents of circumcising their sons. Given that most American Evangelicals are not Jewish, why is this practice so widespread? The book of Galatians makes it abundantly clear that this is not necessary for salvation. In theory, circumcision by Gentiles should only be done in an effort to convert to Judaism, but that hardly seems to be the motivation here.

If you are a Covenantal (i.e. you think that the Church has inherited the promises of Israel), then I might see how you might think that circumcision is a good thing except for the fact that Covenantals believe that the rite of baptism has replaced the rite of circumcision. And thus I remain bewildered by those who practice both infant baptism and circumcision.

Anyone care to enlighten me?

KJV-onlyism

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(Note: I have not had much exposure to the KJV-only camp, and as such am not terribly familiar with their arguments. I am assuming that most of the KJV-only camp falls into Darren's second classification: The KJV is the only valid English translation. (The first classification I have no problem with, but doesn't seem to fit the name KJV-only, as it seems to more accurately be KJV-preferred, or KJV-lover. The third classification is pretty radical and I can't imagine that it has a huge following.) In particular, I am assuming that KJV-only advocates believe that the KJV is the best possible English translation, and that KJV-Oers believe that the original Greek and Hebrew is superior to everything, including the KJV.)

In the discussion about KJV-onlyism, Mac makes the argument that God would not let any portion of His Word go unpreserved for any serious length of time. Here is what he has to say on the topic

They're basically saying that segments of the word of God have gone AWOL for CENTURIES, before it finally turned up again in recent discoveries. Are they prepared to accept that that God failed to preserve parts of his word for lengthy periods of time before it somehow turned up again in modern times?
This particular argument bothers me quite a bit. Rebecca and Jeremy see it as an a priori commitment to one particular notion of how God will preserve His Word and I am inclined to agree. But what really bothers me is not that there is an a priori commitment to a principle, but that the KJV-only camp applies this a priori principle selectively.

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