Of Paper Tigers and Straw Men

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by humblethinker, May 12, 2011.

  1. humblethinker

    humblethinker
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,285
    Likes Received:
    0
    When grappling with difficult ideas or opposing viewpoints, I find it very effective to construct 'paper tigers' and 'straw men'. Hold on... Please hear me out...

    I often like to employ logical extremes at certain times to help me understand the boundaries of an idea I'm dealing with. This sometimes leads to straw men. In the "test lab" of my thought, straw men, paper tigers, and caricatures can be very helpful in helping me identify where I've strayed in my logic. I've found that If I can easily refute and "tear-up" the opposing view then it's usually because my understanding of that view is not complete or is erroneous at least in one point. Also, in taking my favored views to a logical extreme and maybe even trying to make a gross caricature of them, I can see where I may be incorrect in my logic or unbalanced in my presentation.

    I think very few on this BB intend to try to prove a point by knowingly submitting a paper tiger of the opposing view... Or at least this should be the case. It seems that it may be the case that we are sometimes misinterpreted when presenting a logical extension that the other person would object to. For me, my intent would be to draw a sketch of my understanding and ask them to coach me in drawing or take the pencil themselves and edit the sketch to better reflect the picture they have in their mind. I think this approach encourages openness, honesty, empathy and understanding. Maybe this is antithetical to the nature of this part of the BB (I know, this is a debate forum) but for me, at this point, I am trying to develop an understanding of the issues and not so much promote my views (well, maybe I have indulged a little!).

    I'm just creating this thread to have discussion on how we individually process thoughts, react to others, change our own ideas, etc.

    One of my favorite quotes is, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle

    Anyone out there pickin' up what I'm throwin' down?
     
  2. HankD

    HankD
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2001
    Messages:
    15,176
    Likes Received:
    325
    I think so and here is what I see as the basis of God's dealing with man:

    Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.​

    Practical examples:
    Acts 24
    24 And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.
    25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.​

    Acts 26
    27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
    28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

    These unsaved men knew and comprehended what Paul was patiently trying to relate to them but still they refused to accept - the Gospel.​

    The scope of the message:​

    NKJV
    Acts 17:30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,

    Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

    HankD​
     
  3. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2010
    Messages:
    18,963
    Likes Received:
    97


    Why are you typing in that color....difficult to see.
     
  4. glfredrick

    glfredrick
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    4,996
    Likes Received:
    0
    Humble... You are dealing with the process of scholarly thought 101. We should all be there, but alas, many are not, choosing rather to press forward their pet a priori worldviews without consideration of opposing viewpoints, or even of consideration of source material that builds a valid argument.

    One of the first rules of logic is a truthful proposition. To arrive at a truthful proposition, one must consider alternatives, sort them out, then present what withstands the scrutiny of the other parties in the debate. To do otherwise is to introduce a fallacy, strawman, et al, as you detail above.

    Perhaps this can gravitate to a thread where we investigate common intentional fallacies?
     
  5. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2010
    Messages:
    18,963
    Likes Received:
    97
    1st question....can we take Human thinking & reason and apply it to an Almighty & Holy God?
     
  6. glfredrick

    glfredrick
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    4,996
    Likes Received:
    0
    Of course we can... BUT -- our perspective will be askew compared to the perspective of Almighty God who knows all, sees all, and IS all.

    We have no frame of reference upon which to base out logic, save for the revelation of God. Any human logic will be skewed by our sin nature, and the best examples of human logic will still be flawed, but that does not mean that we dare not use logic or reason -- just that we temper our logic and reason and start where God starts and stop where God stops!

    Back to the frame of reference issue... Little children are often told by their parents, "Do the right thing." But, as has often been my observation (both in dealing with hundreds of children in church ministry settings and in 8 years of a home-based day care that my wife operated, not to mention issues with my own children and grandchildren) that the kiddos have no clue what "the right thing" is. To them, the "right thing" is to satisfy some need within themselves at the moment, and they go about that business with some alacrity. Later, they are shocked when their parents or other authority figures in their life take them to task for making improper choices. The fault lies with the parents, who assumed that the children actually understood what it was that they were thinking when they made the statement.

    With God, we are told the same thing in essence, "Do the right thing." Only God makes it very clear what "the right thing is" and also the perspective of that "right thing." We, however, take God's "right thing" and use it to manipulate people, create a sub-class distinction that God never intended, build very human-satisfying entities (and theology!) all of which is not what God said within His divine revelation. We loose our frame of reference the moment we take our eyes off of God and place them on some human endeavor, no matter how noble. We need to note that Christ -- both our Savior and our example -- NEVER took His eyes off of the Father! In so doing, His actions, though against things "reasoned" via the Scriptures (using very human logic) were not "sinful" though they did violate the tenets of man derived from Scripture on a number of occasions.

    It is the larger focus on God and God's ultimate sovereign RIGHT over every element of our lives that draws the distinction between where we can go with logic and reason -- or where we dare not go -- which ever is applicable.
     
  7. humblethinker

    humblethinker
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,285
    Likes Received:
    0
    Is it necessarily the case that any bit of logic we use IS skewed? I am interested in what 'logic' you are considering 'human'. It would seem to me that all true logic is a gift from God but that some conclusions man draws are flawed. Is there any true logic that is not overtly taught or affirmed by God's word?

    :thumbsup: absolutely!
     
  8. glfredrick

    glfredrick
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    4,996
    Likes Received:
    0
    In technical terms, "logic" is a set of propositions that can be factored in a manner equivalent to mathematical equations. In the sense that the propositions are accurate and true, we can derive a logical perspective that may come close to God's reality and no, I'm not invoking Gnostic dualism, but rather working around the fact that, as Paul states, we see as if in a mirror dimly..." We do not always know all the facts or the entire picture.

    So, to the level that we can construct accurate, true, and meaningful propositions, we can apply logic and discover true truth (and all truth is God's truth).

    When I use a term like human logic (in a non-technical sense, as I have above) I'm speaking more of the way we bring our experiences, what we call "common sense," and any a priori or a posteriori assumptions to a problem. We then "believe" that we are being very logical, but in fact, what we are really doing is justifying a position that we think is true by imitating the actions that are actually logic applied.

    A classic example of this sort of logic is seen when men discuss cars. One likes Ford, another Chevy. Each makes the case, and thinks that his arguments are very logical, but in fact, they are opinion spun through experience and preference in a semblance of what logic would be if it were truly applied. If another man comes along and actually applies logic -- takes raw facts, constructs propositions, compares details on paper, then arrives at a conclusion using the techniques and tools of logic, he is likely to torque off both of the other men, for he will totally by-pass their points and deal with quantifiable propositions and he may arrive at conclusions that neither would take based on what it is that they know to be true. And, we see this practiced every day in layman theological talk -- like that on this board, for instance.
     
  9. humblethinker

    humblethinker
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,285
    Likes Received:
    0
    All of this seems agreeable to me... so, besides time, attention and effort, what keeps us coming to the same [logical] conclusions? A couple of possible things are agreement on the definitions of words and philological disagreements. Here's an interesting quote:

     
    #9 humblethinker, May 12, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 12, 2011
  10. Benjamin

    Benjamin
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2004
    Messages:
    4,893
    Likes Received:
    112
    When taking a class on logic my philosophy professor (an Agnostic) would set out to prove that one cannot know something as “absolute truth”. Even though logic in and of itself is a science designed to use established truths in reasoning to work toward drawing out that truth. The only conclusion one can come to when and if human reasoning is evaded in a matter is that a human can only fail to logically reason that there is a truth such as the existence of God. If you “temper your logic and reason and start and stop where God stops” are you referring to a preconceived notion, an impossibility to know, rather than being able to logically reason for the truth of the existence of God? If so, I, or better yet someone like my philosophy professor, can only conclude that you are agreeing that reasoning for the truth of God must be based on a preconceived notion only and not on logic (human reasoning for the truth), therefore you have admitted this absolute truth cannot be known to the human mind by reasoning apart from reliance on your preconceived notion.

    IOW’s, suggesting that tempering your logic to start and stop where God stops is like saying God stops at a point before we (humans)can reason to know the truth of His existence. Are you suggesting logic =Truth and logic = stops with God? Might as well throw “logic” and/or humanly knowing God’s existence as a truth out the window! You are essentially trying to “temper” logic to mean something opposite of its meaning, such as: Logic = reasoning for truth, Logic = does not always reason for the truth because that stops with God. T + F = T ??? You cannot have the meaning of logic both ways, T and F; that is not logical.

    Personally, I would never concede to not knowing that I have the reasoning in my heart that God exists as Truth. As my philosophy professor well knows. :smilewinkgrin:
     
    #10 Benjamin, May 12, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 12, 2011
  11. glfredrick

    glfredrick
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    4,996
    Likes Received:
    0
    Benjamin, I would say that your prof was partially right, and it is well known that we cannot "prove" (nor disprove!) God, and that largely because God is not quantifiable via human-accessible means.

    We can argue God through propositional statements, and many have, but none of the arguments I've seen (and I believe I've seen them all) are conclusive enough to add Q.E.D. to the end of the propositional equation.

    Hence faith... :thumbsup:

    When I said above that the limits of our logic start and stop where God starts and stops, I was speaking in reference to the limits that we have in formulating propositional statements. Yes, we can go far beyond the revelation of God, but if we do so, we are on very shaky ground and we end up within the horns of a dilemma that I also mentioned above -- depending on finite human reason to explain an infinite and almighty God.

    So, in essence, I am not limiting human reason and logic to JUST what we can discern (with proper grammar!) from the Scriptures, but I am limiting what we can know with any sense of surety to what we learn from the Scriptures.

    In fact, much of liberal Protestantism is built in human reason apart from God's revelation, with a token proof-text tossed in here and there to, in essence, say, "See, God agrees with me."
     
  12. Benjamin

    Benjamin
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2004
    Messages:
    4,893
    Likes Received:
    112
    In my view “faith” results from “love of the truth”, God is “Truth” and reveals His being to those who seek Him/Truth earnestly in their heart. This in no way excludes revelation from God. Faith is a gift of God which requires reasoning for us (human/creatures) to believe His Truth, therefore as a human with free will that earnestly loves the truth I can reason for it, or logically argue why I know and believe the Truth, because it was shown to me. (1 Peter 3:15)

    My professor, who is an Agnostic, does not believe this truth can be understood by logical human reasoning. IMO, he is full of intellectual pride and would rather believe the Liar of this world and is quick to agree with him that the existence of God/Truth cannot be known and because he does not have that love for the Truth he does not receive the gift of faith, yet even in this he reasons that this is justification to not have to believe, again this involves pride. His argument is that if it is not a preconceived notion the only other way to know the Truth is by God having to determine it on him. He then goes on to reason that if God determines all things then He logically determined evil and therefore is not a God that is Only Good. With that belief he will NOT receive the Truth because he reasons that it does not involve Love.

    I believe God’s creatures have the God given ability to reason (read my signature) and He has a purpose for giving us the ability to reason…"JUDGMENT". Yup, old professor seemed to get a little weak in the knees when I got to this point. :tongue3: I will take this argument all the way back to creation, no problem. :saint: He asked me to join a debate class which was titled something like “Determinism/Free will and the Existence of God and Evil” and boasted that that those who believe in free will and God need my help. I told him his boasting was a fallacy and although I would've liked to I didn’t have the time. :(

    It is not a surprise that someone whose theology logically hinges on Determinism would agree with my professor at least in part and conclude that we cannot reason logically that God exists. If the reasoning is not there, it is not there. The Determinist must find his own way to reason that he knows God I cannot help him to prove otherwise within his own reasoning.
     
    #12 Benjamin, May 12, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 12, 2011
  13. Benjamin

    Benjamin
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2004
    Messages:
    4,893
    Likes Received:
    112
    [​IMG]
     
    #13 Benjamin, May 20, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 20, 2011
  14. quantumfaith

    quantumfaith
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2010
    Messages:
    6,890
    Likes Received:
    0

    :thumbs::thumbs:, also love your Galileo quote. :)
     
  15. quantumfaith

    quantumfaith
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2010
    Messages:
    6,890
    Likes Received:
    0
    Great Post Benjamin
     

Share This Page

Loading...