What is Apologetics?

Apologetics may be simply defined as the defense of the Christian faith. The word “apologetics” derives from the Greek word apologia, which was originally used as a speech of defense or an answer given in reply. In ancient Athens it referred to a defense made in the courtroom as part of the normal judicial procedure. After the accusation, the defendant was allowed to refute the charges with a defense or reply (apologia). The word appears 17 times in noun or verb form in the New Testament, and both the noun (apologia) and verb form (apologeomai) can be translated “defense” or “vindication” in every case.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Donut Seeds, Donuts and the Definition of Evil

The other day, I had the privilege of finishing up Josh McDowell's book, "Don't Check Your Brains at the Door" with my daughter. You see, as a homeschooling parent we just started her apologetics training this year with this enjoyable issues oriented, myth busting primer.

As we were finishing up the final chapter, the conversation moved to the subject of the problem of evil. This was a good teaching time to say the least, with helping her understand that in order to have this thing called evil, we must know what "good" is. This brought in a moral law as the standard by which to differentiate the difference between good and evil.

Now thinking along this line, I needed her to understand a definition of "evil." So what did I do? Well, we did not have any donuts, so I did the next best thing that you can do with your kids...Cheerios! That's right, I lovingly call them, "donut seeds" so they are the next best thing. Why is that?

Well let's take the donut or the donut seed for our illustration. The most common perception of a donut is this circular cake-like ring that has a hole in the middle. Let's call the cake part of the donut 'good'. That might sound a little relatable because donuts are GOOD (tasting). The hole in the donut then represents "evil" (no donut).

How does this illustration help us in our definition of evil? If the cake part that is present is "good" then then absence of the cake part of the donut is evil, we can then deduce that evil is the absence of good.

So if we say there is such a thing as evil, we must posit that there is such a thing as "good." If there is such a thing as "good", how do we know what that good is unless there is a standard by which to differentiate the difference between good and evil. There must be a standard, so let's call this a moral law. A moral law then points us to God as the Lawgiver. Before going any further let me invite you to check out the following video.



I think Ravi hammers the issue a whole lot better than anyone speaking on this subject. The neat thing with this process on the subject of evil, good and a moral law, as I demonstrated this process with my daughter, I was delighted that she was grabbing it and nailing it down for herself.

She has such a tender heart, and my fear for her is that she does not lull herself into what is a plague in pockets of Christianity called "Pollyannaism".[1] My prayer her is that she will develop a tough minded faith that will understand more of this fallen world as she sees history run its course in her young life.

This is my fear for many believers, that we have been lulled into "Pollyannaism", where our optimism does not deal head on with the realism of the secular city. It is just an opinion, but it seems to me that Christians in other countries are steps ahead of American Christianity on this understanding of evil. I will speak more to this in another posting.


Note:
[1] Having a blind or excessive optimism, after the character Pollyanna, created by American writer Eleanor Porter (1868-1920). There is nothing wrong with being optimistic so long as it is a realistic type of optimism with room to understand the nature of man being fallen.


Monday, July 26, 2010

The Informal Fallacies of Accent and Accident

The picture you see if of a book cover, entitled "The Fallacy Detective" by the Brothers Bluedorn.  We are taking my daughter through this book as part of her homeschool logic training.  

This week we have the fallacies of accent and accident. These are fallacies deal on a broader scale of the informal fallacies: (Accent, relates to the argument as a whole and accident relates to the application of the argument as a whole).

Accent: This fallacy is committed in an argument which has a deceptive but invalid nature and depends upon a change or shift in meaning.

Accident: This fallacy consists in the application of a general rule to a particular case whose “accidental” circumstances render the rule inapplicable.

For more resources for studying logic and logical argumentation check out:

  • Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn, The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-six Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasononing. Muscatine, IA: Christian Logic and Trivium Pursuit, 2003.
  • Irving M. Copi and Carl Cohen, Introduction to Logic (13th Edition).
  • Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks, Come Let us Reason: An Introduction in Logical Thinking. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1990.
  • William Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing, 2009.

Monday, July 12, 2010

What are the Logical Fallacies of Relevance


In my previous post, I defined for us the term logical fallacy.  This posting is now going to move into a series on the what are called, the fallacies of relevance.

By fallacies of relevance, we are talking about those fallacies common to all arguments. The committal of a fallacy of relevance (except for the fallacy of petitio principii, i.e., begging the question) involves a circumstance where the premises of an argument are logically irrelevant to, and therefore are incapable of establishing the truth of their conclusion.

Fallacies of Relevance include:

1. Appeal to Force.
2. Argumentum ad Hominem fallacies
3. Argument from Ignorance
4. Argumentum ad Populum
5. Argumentum ad Verecundiam (appeal to authority)
6. Appeal to Pity
7. Accident
8. Converse Accident
9. False Cause
10. Begging the Question
11. Complex Question
12. Irrelevant conclusion.

Over the next several Monday morning postings, I will be laying out for us the definitions of each of these. After that, we will move to the fallacies of ambiguity.


Editor's note: There are a few good resources that one can pick up in new and used bookstores. Here are just a few.
  • Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn, The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-six Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasononing. Muscatine, IA: Christian Logic and Trivium Pursuit, 2003.
  • Irving M. Copi and Carl Cohen, Introduction to Logic(13th Edition).
  • Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks, Come Let us Reason: An Introduction in Logical Thinking. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1990.
  • William Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing, 2009.

Monday, July 5, 2010

What is a Fallacy in Logic?

Definition of a fallacy: A fallacy is a type of argument that may seem to be correct but which proves, upon examination not to be so. In other words, it is an error in logic - the place where the person makes a mistake in their thinking.

Fallacies can be divided essentially into to two broad groups: formal fallacies and informal fallacies. Formal fallacies are most conveniently discussed in connection with certain patterns of valid inference to which they bear a superficial resemblance. Informal fallacies are errors in reasoning into which we may fall either because of carelessness or because of inattention to our subject matter or through being misled through some ambiguity in language used to formulate our argument. We may divide informal fallacies into fallacies of relevance and fallacies of ambiguity.

By fallacies of relevance, we are talking about those fallacies common to all arguments. The committal of a fallacy of relevance (except for the fallacy of petitio principii, i.e., begging the question) involves a circumstance where the premises of an argument are logically irrelevant to, and therefore are incapable of establishing the truth of their conclusion.


Editor's note: There are a few good resources that one can pick up in new and used bookstores. Here are just a few.

  • Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn, The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-six Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasononing. Muscatine, IA: Christian Logic and Trivium Pursuit, 2003.
  • Irving M. Copi and Carl Cohen, Introduction to Logic (13th Edition).
  • Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks, Come Let us Reason: An Introduction in Logical Thinking. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1990.
  • William Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing, 2009.