Monday, June 28, 2010

What is an Argument?


Looking back over the last several Monday morning postings, I have shared definitions related to epistemological starting points. These are just some of the descriptions for the great arguments for showing the existence of God. Let us remember that they do not conclusively prove God's existence. What they do is show that it is more reason to believe than not believe that God exists.

This morning I am moving back to focusing on some of the fallacies that are committed by atheists and Christians in their argumentation on the key issues in the faith/reason debate or argumentation. Did you hear a word in there?  Argument?  What is an argument in the formal sense?  

Well let's start and look at a definition for what we mean by "argument." You will notice that it is not a definition packed with emotion. These are intellectual terms that should be thought of under the discipline of critical thinking. Let's look at the definition.  

Argument -- An argument is normally understood to be that time where people get together, raise their voices, and call each other names. Properly speaking, this is not an argument, but an altercation

An argument, understood in a philosophical or logical context, is where we draw conclusions from various reasons (premises). There are several words that we use to indicate what is a reason and what is a conclusion. Words we use to indicate reasons are because, for, as, if ..., based on the fact that. Words we use to indicate conclusions are therefore, thus, consequently, hence, it follows that. It's good to keep these indicators in mind.