We really need to learn how to think straight:
Fallacious thinking is ever with us, and logical fallacies are a dime a dozen. Christians can be just as guilty of this as anyone else. This is inexcusable however since Christians are commanded to love God with their minds as well as every other part of their being. Reckless and lazy thinking is just not acceptable.
‘Let my people think’ is one of the needs of the hour. There is far too much sloppy and careless thinking by believers, and this shows in so many ways. The fact that nonbelievers routinely engage in this is one thing, but God’s people should seek to do better.
Let me briefly deal with one such case of this sloppy thinking in general as I look at one logical fallacy in particular: the genetic fallacy. I have discussed this before. In one piece I said this:
Genetic fallacy. Confusing the origins of an idea with reasons for believing in an idea. An argument is rejected or regarded as mistaken or false because it comes from a bad or questionable source. Examples: “You were born in Christian America, and that is why you are a Christian.” But this is irrelevant to the argument. The issue is, are there good grounds for believing in Christianity? “You are against abortion because you are a Catholic.” Whether or not one is a Catholic is beside the point. Are there good reasons for holding that abortion is wrong? billmuehlenberg.com/2012/08/23/critical-thinking-and-logical-fallacies/
As I have said often before, if someone is speaking truth, we can accept that particular truth, even if we do not like the one who is saying it. Most of us (I hope) do not like Hitler. But if he had said that ‘two plus two equals four,’ he was telling us something that happens to be true. So we should not reject that statement just because we abhor who he was and what he did.
This happens in terms of theological pronouncements as well. Someone we may not like for various reasons (he may be quite wrong on certain biblical teachings) may say some quite good stuff, which we can endorse and not be squeamish about.
Too often however I see Christians dismissing anything a certain Christian says because they are unhappy with some of his views on things. They tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater: ‘Oh, HE said that, Well I want nothing to do with HIM.’
Thus some Christians have problems with some of the things someone like Tim Keller has said. I sometimes do too. But that does not mean I will take all his books and toss them into a bonfire. I happen to have six of his books, and some are very good indeed.
Take for example two of his books on apologetics: The Reason for God and Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering. Both are quite useful indeed. See my review of the first title here: billmuehlenberg.com/2008/03/26/a-review-of-the-reason-for-god-by-timothy-keller/
But as noted, some have problems with other things he has said, so they tend to want to dismiss him altogether. I will not. BTW, the comments under that book review do offer a case in point of one believer complaining about certain things Keller has said.
And often Christians have problems with various things Rick Warren has said. Again, I do too. But that does not mean everything he has said or written must be attacked and jettisoned. The opening words of his bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life I still like to quote:
“It’s not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.”
That is a terrific quote, although there are things he says elsewhere that I may not fully agree with. But of course we can go too far in the opposite direction. The reason why dangerous cults have so much deceptive and damaging power is because they mix truth with error. Thus I will NOT quote from, say, a book or magazine put out by the Jehovah’s Witnesses for example.
Tied in with this is the unfortunate (and just plain carnal) tendency to be heresy hunters, where some believers go on search and destroy missions. They accuse certain Christians of being heretics simply because they believe some things (often secondary matters) that they happen to disagree with. But I have often spoken about this, as in this piece: billmuehlenberg.com/2018/03/12/on-heresy-hunters-again/
But let me wrap things up with the thing that triggered this piece in the first place. And it has to do with how often those demonising Zelenskyy of Ukraine and idolising Putin of Russia have resorted to the genetic fallacy. I saw a headline a short while ago that said this: “‘Criminal, Inhumane and Unethical’: EU Passes Resolution Condemning Chinese Regime’s Forced Organ Harvesting.” www.theepochtimes.com/criminal-inhumane-and-unethical-eu-passes-resolution-condemning-chinese-regimes-forced-organ-harvesting_4449014.html
As soon as I saw that I thought, ‘Well some of the Putinphiles will be in a dilemma here: They have been roundly condemning NATO and the EU as fully evil while singing the praises of Putin and his invasion of Ukraine. But surely the EU condemning what China is doing here is a good thing, right?
But some of these folks are so fully into foolish political ideology that make Putin sweetness and light and Zelenskyy the root of all evil, that if the EU is supporting Zelenskyy, then the EU must be utterly opposed – even when it does something good like this.
I have seen this idiocy almost daily on the social media. For example, recently there was a picture of Zelenskyy shaking the hands of Democrat big wig Nancy Pelosi. With the pic there were stupid words to the effect: ‘See, this proves it: anyone shaking HER hand must be evil!’
Um, I am clearly no fan of Pelosi – she is evil. But millions of folks would have shaken her hand, including folks like Trump, Cruz and other top conservatives. Does that mean Trump and Co are all members of the Antichrist team or the NWO? Good grief, put your thinking caps on for a change!
Thus we see guilt by association as another logical fallacy that so many unthinking believers are resorting to. How many times have we heard that Zelenskyy was at a Klaus Schwab WEF event? Um, sure he was, as were just about every other major world leader – including Putin! But that inconvenient truth is something the Putin worshippers do not want to bring up.
As I said in an earlier article on this idiotic thinking:
I have seen plenty of folks pushing RT articles and memes both saying that Schwab and the WEF support Ukraine. To this we always see the words: “Tells us all we need to know”. Um, can anyone actually think straight anymore? That tells us nothing!
By this idiotic ‘reasoning,’ ANY group we happen to dislike, whatever they say, we must run with the opposite. Thus if the KKK had said during WWII that they support Poland after Hitler invaded it, we could say “Tells us all we need to know”. Obviously if the odious KKK support Poland, then Hitler and the Nazis must be the good guys. Terrific logic there. Not!
Um, guess what? Sometimes leaders, politicians and media outlets can get things right now and then. Perhaps much of the world and its media are condemning Putin because he IS at fault here, because this is a horrific moral evil, and because democratic nations (with all their faults) should not be invaded by power hungry and increasingly deranged autocrats. billmuehlenberg.com/2022/03/02/on-discernment-gullibility-and-healthy-scepticism/
So I for one am sick and tired of seeing rather mindless Christians joining the ‘Putin is Messiah and Zelenskyy is the devil’ bandwagon. And their constant use of fallacies such as the genetic fallacy, guilt by association, and so on, is so appalling to have to behold. Good grief folks, please learn to think instead of just emoting and pushing ideology.
Let my people think.