Tag Archives: thinking

Is Reality Secular? – White Horse Inn

Is Reality Secular? White Horse Inn


What are the roots and assumptions of secularism and why does this belief system have such a stronghold in Western culture? What are the other major worldviews and how are we to know which one is true? On this program Michael Horton talks with Claremont University professor Mary Poplin about her abandonment secularism and her subsequent conversion to the Christian faith.

Informal Logic 101: How to Think and Argue Better, Part 6

“A presumption becomes a self-refuting assertion.”   — R. Alan Woods

Following hot on the heels of “Part 5: Facts Over Feelings”, today’s logical fallacies involve inappropriate presumptions that confuse and invalidate one’s argument. (Of course, I would never do this! … OK, OK, maybe.) Sometimes when making a case or defending a position, it’s easy to get trapped within our own perspective, so to speak. We might take "I Want to Believe" aliensomething for granted in our reasoning — a premise, for example, that asserts something as true when, in fact, it also should be verified. (If you recognize this, you may acknowledge that it needs to be examined further but agree, or ask the other party, to provisionally accept it for the sake of discussion.) Regardless of the form this takes, it ends up destroying the argument, because nothing is actually proven.

Professor Samples gives three types of this class of fallacy, as follows:

Wishful thinking

Just because someone accuses you of wishful thinking does not necessarily mean that’s what you are actually doing. It depends on your rationale,…

Read the rest: Informal Logic 101: How to Think and Argue Better, Part 6| A View from the Right

Christian Anti-Intellectualism: Interview with Dr. Jefrey Breshears, part 1

From the Straight Thinking podcast with Ken Samples, Christian Anti-Intellectualism: Interview with Dr. Jefrey Breshears, part 1

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Straight Thinking #243: Christian Anti-Intellectualism: Interview with Dr. Jefrey Breshears, part 1

Informal Logic 101: How to Think and Argue Better, Part 5

“Feelings should never supersede rational thought… so, if you feel that you’ve got the answer, you should think some more.”  — Julie Ann Elliott-Morton

exhausted student with laptopUp to this point in the series, we have dealt with the basics. We learned about the fundamental laws of logic, categorical propositions and logical relationships. We were introduced to the mnemonic “TRACK” — Truth, Relevance, Adequacy, Clarity, Knowledge — in order to help make sure our arguments are supported by their premises and to avoid, among other things, committing logical suicide. Then, we examined the three types of reasoning — deductive, inductive, and abductive. This is all groundwork towards thinking critically and for recognizing and building good arguments to make a case or defend a position on a (theological? philosophical? political?) issue.

Now, I want to spend several posts looking at logical fallacies — i.e., the various and sundry ways in which we all, eventually, to one degree or another, violate everything we just learned. We’ll laugh. We’ll cry. We’ll shake our fists at the sky….

Read the rest: Informal Logic 101: How to Think and Argue Better, Part 5 | A View from the Right

Informal Logic 101: How to Think and Argue Better, Part 4 | A View from the Right

Meanwhile, at the clinic…
Client (Michael Palin): “Aha! If you’re arguing, I must have paid.”
Mr. Barnard (John Cleese): “Not necessarily. I could be arguing in my spare time….”

Sherlock Holmes - Basil RathboneOK, if you aren’t a Monty Python fan (and I am only marginally) and you don’t understand the above quote, you are forgiven. But, I urge you to look up the Monty Python skit “Argument Clinic” (or similar title) on YouTube. Go ahead. We’ll wait…. And, I assure you, those aren’t the kinds of arguments we’ll examine here. (Yes, it is! No, it isn’t!) By the way, notice that Palin’s character had it right. He said, “An argument is a collective series of statements to establish a definite proposition.” A fair definition, yet mostly what he got for his money was unsupported contradictions.

There are three types of logical argument, or ways of reasoning, if you will — deductive, inductive, and abductive. Most people have heard of the first two but are unaware of the third. (I know I wasn’t familiar with it until several years back.) Each has its strengths and proper area of usage….

Read the rest: Informal Logic 101: How to Think and Argue Better, Part 4 | A View from the Right

Informal Logic, Part 3 – A View from the Right

“Without good support, not only is it a ‘bad argument’, it’s merely opinion.”  — me

Welcome back! (Or, just “Welcome!”, if this is the first part you read in this series.)

So far, we’ve been learning some fundamental ideas in what is known as “informal logic”. We looked at the three foundational laws and four logical relationships, as determined by four categorical propositions. They sound boring and maybe a little scary at first. But, they weren’t that bad, right? (Quiet in the peanut gallery!) Taking my cue from Kenneth Samples (whose book inspired this series), I decided to sidetrack just briefly, before getting into argumentation proper — or, proper argumentation.

rope noose on black backgroundAs seen in the subtitle to this post, the first matter I’d like to address is “logical suicide”. It involves the making of self-refuting, or “self-referentially absurd”, statements. It’s not that these statements are made often, but they are so ridiculous — careless, really — that it is a wonder they are made as often as they are. In essence, a self-refuting statement is one which makes a claim — philosophical or otherwise — which, when applied to the statement itself, makes it a contradiction. That is, the claim contradicts itself. Thus, it commits logical suicide.

A few simple examples:….

Read the rest: A View from the Right — commentary on Science, Politics, & Religion.

Informal Logic 101: How to Think and Argue Better, Part 2 | A View from the Right

“Having, then, once introduced an element of inconsistency into his system, he was far too consistent not to be inconsistent consistently, and he lapsed ere long into an amiable indifferentism which to outward appearance differed but little from the indifferentism….”  — Samuel Butler, iconoclastic Victorian author

balding guy scratching head in confusionDespite what you might think from the heading, this post has nothing to do with friends, dating, or marriage. Besides, we all know that logic goes out the door when it comes to that stuff…. 😉

In my initial post for this series, we examined the three founding principles of logic: the Law of Noncontradiction, the Law of Excluded Middle, and the Law of Identity. Now, we will look at the next level of basic principles necessary to get a handle on critical thinking — namely, the four types of logical relationships:

1) Contradictory
2) Contrary
3) Subcontrary
4) Subalternation

Read the rest: Informal Logic 101: How to Think and Argue Better, Part 2 | A View from the Right.

Informal Logic 101: How to Think and Argue Better, Part 1 | A View from the Right

“I yam what I yam, and that’s all what I yam.”  — Popeye, the sailorman

Given the subjects that I usually read and write about on this blog, critical thinking really comes in handy. Not that I’m some great logician or anything. Far from it! But, over the last few years, I’ve been exposed to the discipline of informal logic by some pretty darn good thinkers. (At least, I think they are.) I’ve noticed that I am now more apt to notice logical errors & fallacies when reading or listening to someone’s arguments for his/her position on a particular topic. It’s not always easy, and sometimes I get lazy about it, but it is helping my thinking process. And, yes, this applies to matters of science, politics, and religion (including theology, philosophy/worldview, & apologetics), as well as day-to-day issues.

monkey with thoughtful expressionI recently came across a great primer on informal logic and critical thinking in the book A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Testby Kenneth R. Samples, who teaches on the subject. It was a great summary, and I thought it so valuable that I decided to adapt Samples’ presentation into a series of blogposts.

Now, some of you are thinking that this sounds like it’ll be dull, or hard, or both. But, it’s not really all that difficult, and I think it’s actually kinda fun! When the pieces come together in your mind and you’re able not just to recognize bad thinking but also see why it’s bad, it’s really cool! Not only will you become a better thinker, but as a result you’ll be able to formulate better arguments and, therefore, be a better case-maker & debater on the subjects you hold dear.

Sound good?

Read the rest: Informal Logic 101: How to Think and Argue Better, Part 1 | A View from the Right.