|Basic and Concise 15-minute Guide to Practical, Useful, Logic and Reasoning|
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First, logic is often seen as a way to win debates. There is no concern about finding truth. Debates are seen as contests to see who is right. They are arguments, not in the logical sense. This attitude can be plainly seen in web pages devoted to logic and even in some books that claim to teach logic. They use words and phrases like, "disputant," "opponent," "using logic to win arguments," "won the debate," or "how to win arguments." For this reason, fallacies are common because they work to win. It's about winning and losing, not about finding truth. There are sides, and each side must be dogmatic and closed-minded or lose. No one likes to lose, so all that is learned is how to be more tricky in holding one's own position. As a result, it is rare to have a discussion where there is a difference of opinion and all parties to the discussion are working toward understanding where their own thinking may be wrong and what others may know that they don't know. Instead, games are played to win. It gets really childish. Another result of this is that those who are really interested in truth avoid the discussions. That leaves only combatants, and no one gains knowledge other than the knowledge of how to be deceptive and how to be closed-minded.
Second, logic, as it it taught in most schools, cannot lead to understanding. There it terrible confusion over the validity of assumptions. There is confusion between the words, "assumption," and "premise." Since premises are the reasons to believe the conclusion, we should know the difference between arbitrary assumption and reality. There is a confusion in the teaching that turns logic into a math problem where good form equals truth. This leads to confusion about the meaning of the word, "true." If we are trying to find out what it true, this is a problem. There is confusion over the word, argument, in that it can mean a confrontation between two people or a series of statements that are supposed to show something to be true. A debate is seen as an argument in the sense of a confrontation between two or more people. There is confusion about the word, fallacy. What do we mean when we use the word? Then there is the problem of those who have no concern for truth but rather spend their time quibbling about these definitions and trying to appear intellectual. None of that gets us any closer to truth.
It is very important to remember Agrippa's Trilemma. In secularistic thinking the only three options are to make any conclusions based on infinite regression, circular reasoning, or axiomatic thinking. Axiomatic thinking is a kind way of saying "making arbitrary assumptions." Making arbitrary assumptions is a kind way of saying "making things up" or "lying." For a person to put any weight on a conclusion that involves assumptions is irrational because a chain of thought is only as strong as its weakest link. Made up stories and assumptions have no strength at all. On the other hand, for those who follow Christ, it is not necessary to have all reason destroyed by Agrippa's Trilemma, since there is another option. That option is Divine revelation. Going beyond what God reveals to you is unnecessary. For many things, it's OK to admit that you don't know. Don't make up stories and deceive yourself into thinking that fabrications are part of reality. Evidence that is brought from a secularist presupposition is always proof surrogate because of Agrippa's Trilemma.
On the other hand, we find statements such as, "Now logic is nothing else than the art that guides us in coming to know something previously unknown to us. Logic, then, is an instrument for helping us to find out why things are as they are." This is a better attitude, but can logic fulfill this promise? Suppose that all reasoning would need to ultimately rest on unprovable assumptions. Then, those assumptions would necessarily be arbitrary. If testing our reasons for believing (What makes you think that is true? OK, and how do you know that to be true?) until we come to a final statement where we can go no further in reasoning, do we find that we have reasoned in a circle to have our first premise as the proof that our first premise is true?" Do we come to just one more arbitrary assumption that we declare to be self-evident or declare to be an axiom that cannot be challenged? If this is our basis for thought, then we are indeed figuratively building on sand. Can we know anything at all using logic? If not, then do we reason that we are just stuck not knowing anything by using logic to do so, thus, effectively refuting our own argument? Hopefully, those questions are answered to some extent on this page.
Reality! Truth! What can you know for certain? How can you know it? What do you know that is not based on assumptions, stories, or some other fallacies? Do you even know? Before reading on, why not take a moment to understand the answer to those questions.
Logic is about what you can know and how you can know it. That's it.
Let's start with a few radical principles:
Let's get started. This concise guide can be read through quickly to get a basic understanding of logic and critical thinking. You can skim through this guide using the pictures, the words, or both in about 15-25 minutes. If this quick look peaks your interest, you may find yourself wanting to study logic more deeply as you continue to follow the links, especially, logical fallacies. The concepts here are simple, but they may seem complex if you try to put them into your old worldview (as one would try to store new wine in old wine bottles). If these concepts are too new to you, consider putting them on the back burner of your mind rather than perhaps struggling against them without understanding them. The Holy Spirit unveils knowledge and understanding if we yield ourselves to Him. Reality, or Truth, is basic to life. It is the Truth, Reality, that will set you free. However, Truth may seem strange when seen amid an ocean of lies that are propagated by many sources throughout our fallen society. The secret is learning how to discern between reality and unreality.
If you can easily learn the simple secret on this page, you can also begin a journey that will lead you to even greater understanding and experience of reality as it really is. Are you tired of not knowing for sure what to believe? Why not enter on a quest for reality, for truth? Watch for the simple secret is on this page. Hint: it has to do with the foundations of your thinking.
This mini-logic tutorial and listing of fallacies is made available to help you to learn about logic and logical fallacies. Home-schoolers may be able to use this as a homeschooling resource to teach logic. This may also be a resource for anyone who is active in apologetics. The links on the page are keyed to descriptions of the various fallacies.
Get ready for a paradigm shift.We live in an evil age where arbitrary assumptions such as relativism (a self-refuting concept), materialism (atheism), naturalism (atheism), uniformitarianism (the concept of no creation and no flood), and molecules-to-man (a story that is in conflict with what we can easily and plainly observe), are held as facts and taught as facts repeatedly. Reality is quite different from assumptions and made-up stories, so logic will cause a paradigm shift, a change in mind. The strongholds of preconceived ideas, presuppositions, confirmation bias, fairytales, old fake-realities must be totally demolished to make room for it.
There are some things that we learn that are not true. It's good to reexamine them and question whether they are really true and how we can know for sure that they are true. Note that logic is based on the Greek: logos, which usually gets translated as "word" but actually means "utterance." We need to remind ourselves that "In the beginning was the Logos/Utterance, and the Logos/Utterance was with God, and the Utterance was God." and "the Logos/Utterance was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Unique of the Father, full of divine power for righteousness, holiness, and redemption and truth." Jesus Christ is the Logos. 1 John 1
The etymology of logic is not given as proof that Christ is the logos, and Christ is the truth. Etymology doesn’t prove such things. We know that Jesus Christ is the logos and the truth by revelation, and that is how it is proven: by Divine revelation.
Sometimes, a false dichotomy between science/logic and faith is committed. Faith comes by hearing the word (in this case, Greek: rhema, meaning utterance) of God. Romans 10:17 In order to have true logic, we must build our thoughts on the Foundation of the true Logos. Logic has the purpose of finding truth and knowing the difference between truth and error. Jesus Christ, the Logos, is the Truth. He states clearly, "Whoever is on the side of Truth listens to Me." He says, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." John 14:6 He is the Logos, the Utterance, by Whom all things were created. John 1 Science means knowledge, and in Christ is hidden all knowledge.Colossians 2:3
We will discuss foundations of thought, but note that there is no other foundation that can be laid other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11 We will prove this logically in few words below. Jesus Christ is the living Word/Utterance, the Logos. Remember also that "Christ Jesus . . . is caused to be our Wisdom (that is righteousness, and holiness, and release from bondage to sin) by God." 1 Corinthians 1:30 The deep respect for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and turning away from evil is understanding. Proverbs 1:7 & 9:10, Job 28:28 Anyone who turns their minds away from God, failing to acknowledge Him, will not have wisdom or understanding but will be willingly ignorant. Ephesians 4:18, Romans 1:27-29, 2 Peter 3:3-7 Listening to God's Words imparts understanding. Psalms 119:130 All rational thought has its foundation in Jesus Christ. (A Personal Note)
Did you ever hear someone make a claim and wonder, "Is that true?" Did you ever wonder how you would know whether the person had given you enough information to believe him or her? Have you ever been convinced of something only to find out later that it was not true? Have you ever listened to two sides of an argument and wondered who is right? Have you ever been deceived by someone who was skilled in persuasion and flimflam?
Sometimes, you hear something that you intuitively know is wrong by the Holy Spirit, but you can't really say how you know that it's wrong. What can you say?
All of these are reasons to learn about logic. If you Google logic or logical fallacy, you will find site after site that proposes to teach logic, but their illustrations are filled with irrational thinking. This is also true of many college-level logic courses. It is very easy for the fallen human mind to slide from observation, revelation, and solid thinking to assumptions, presuppositions, stories, pure speculation and irrational thinking without ever realizing that this has happened. This is especially true if you are being indoctrinated by a teacher or professor and your grade depends on learning what the professor is saying. They may wow you with a lot of the insider jargon of logic and massage your ego to make you think that believing their lies makes you intelligent . . . like the emperor's new clothes.
HOW LOGIC WORKS
FIRST PRINCIPLE: THE PREMISE MUST BE TESTABLE AND TRUE
The first question to be answered is this: "How do you know that the premise (the reason for believing) is true?"
When a case is being made that something is true, this is called a logical argument or reasoning. Logical arguments/reasoning can be sound or unsound. Every unsound argument is a lie whether it is told by an Atheist or a Christian theologian. A sound argument must have premises (reasons why the conclusion is true) that are testable and true. It is impossible, for instance, to test to see whether molecules-to-man evolution actually happened, because you can't go back in time. You can only tell stories about one thing turning into another. So any reasoning that concludes that molecules-to-man evolution actually happened is unsound.
If you seek truth, you must have a true reason to believe. How can a lie or a made-up story prove anything?
Suppose that you say, "The Bible is the Word of God. I know that's true because it's just true." That doesn't prove anything. If you say that, not even you can test your reasoning.
Suppose someone says, "I know that a billions-of-years-old Earth is a fact because science proves it." Now that person has lied. Science doesn't prove any such thing. In fact, the story of a billions-of-years-old Earth have huge problems with what we can know using science. So that logic is wrong. It isn't true and it can't be tested by anyone.
Suppose someone tells an elaborate story (called a theory) about everything got here in the first place. Can a story prove anything? No. It is just a story. Stories can't be tested, except to prove that they don't vary from the evidence. But if they don't vary from the evidence, that just means that they are carefully devised stories. It doesn't prove anything else. That's the problem with stories about billions of years or evolution.
If God reveals to you that He created the Heavens and the Earth and everything in them in six days, whatever God reveals is true and absolute. You only know what He has revealed to you, but you do know whatever He has told you. It can be tested, too--more about that in a moment. There is a huge difference between revelation and story telling.
It is possible to test whether every person who seeks God in sincerity, humility, reverence, and submission, will find Him--they all do find Him if they continue to seek Him in that way. And anyone can test and come to know Jesus Christ, Who is the truth and the only source of truth. God cannot lie. We know that by revelation. And we also know that we can hear Him incorrectly because of our deceptive human nature. But, if we continue to follow Him, He will reveal the same things to every person who continues to learn from Him and who really wants to obey Him.
So, we can say, "The Bible is the Word of God. I know that's true because the Holy Spirit makes that fact real to me." This is both true and testable. And this is a good reason to believe that the Bible is the Word of God, so the logic is sound. Then, as God speaks to us through the Bible, we know that what He says through the Bible is also true.
THE BIG QUESTION ABOUT TRUE PREMISES
The BIG question that is seldom answered correctly in logic classes: "Is the reason we believe absolutely true and how do we know it is absolutely true?" Logic can seem real and yet lead to totally untrue conclusions if is is used incorrectly.
If you can't anwer the BIG question, you can't know anything for sure. There is only one way you can answer the BIG question in a way that leads to truth.
The Problem is the foundation of thought:
What you believe to be true can be no more real than the starting point of your thinking, the foundation of your thoughts. A chain of thought is no stronger than its weakest link. If your foundation is not absolutely reliable, your entire thought process is meaningless. In fact, if you have a weak foundation, you can rationalize anything and it will seem to make sense to you. Digging to the foundation of your thoughts can be a difficult task, but is must be done in the quest for truth/reality.
What are the five possible foundations for thought?
Note that there are five possible foundations for thought, but demonic influence is behind all irrational thinking. We will deal with the three invalid foundations laid out in the Münchhausen Trilemma and then we will deal with Divine revelation.
Foundation #1: The Logical Fallacy of Infinite Regression is following a line of reasoning infinitely without ever coming to anything you can call true. No one has infinite time, but some people are clever enough to keep an almost endless string of premises/reasons to support each previous premise/reason. Eventually, hours or days later, they run out of hot air. In any case, each premise proves nothing since it is dependent on another unproven premise, which is a sandy foundation for thought. It's like turtles all the way down.
Foundation #2: The Logical Fallacy of Circular Reasoning / Logic occurs when the conclusion is the proof for the conclusion. If someone uses the very thing they are trying to prove as proof, this is circular reasoning, a sandy foundation for thought. (read)(read)
Foundation #3: The Logical Fallacy of Unsupported Presupposition / Axiom is an arbitrary assumption (all assumptions are arbitrary) that is treated as if it were a fact. (read) to be arbitrary is to be irrational. Arbitraryassumptions are not conclusive at all. They are useless vapor if used for this purpose, and they are a sandy foundation for thought. (Why axioms/assumptions are irrational)
Foundation #4: Demonic Influence is not only dangerous, but it cannot lead to truth. There is movement of Atheists turning to New Age religions. New Age religions are not anything new. They are the old occult religions, but often using Christian or scientific terminology. There are many terms that are used for these demons including the following: earth spirits, nature spirits, spirit guides, animal guides, familiar spirits, familiars, gods, monsters, fallen angels, ghosts, phantoms, spooks, genii, sylphs, aliens, gnomes, imps, demons, devils, and evil spirits. This is seen in Wicca, witchcraft, Satanism, occult, and New Age religions.
Foundation #5: Divine Revelation is the only solid basis for sound reasoning. It is a rock solid foundation for thought. However, revelation must come from One Who cannot lie or be wrong, from God. Evidence must go beyond observations. Facts do not speak for themselves but must be interpreted. Evidence always involves interpretation of observation, interpretation of fact. There are two ways to interpret observation: assumption or revelation. Those are the only two choices. An assumption is something made up. Something made up is a lie. Divine revelation comes from God, and this is the only way real faith can come. Faith comes one way: by hearing the word/rhema/utterance of God. Faith is a gift from God that comes with a vision of hope. Hope is a vision of reality as it really is. Some may say that we are assuming God, but we are not. Examine the following graphic carefully.
If Christ reveals and is the only source of truth, then we can know truth, and there is no way other than revelation from Christ to know truth.
Christ reveals and is the only source of truth.
Therefore, we can know truth, and there is no way other than revelation from Christ to know truth.
God tells us, through the Bible, that He reveals through many means. He tells us to listen to Him, through the Bible. As it works out, there is no other basis for rational thought other than His revelation. When people fail to acknowledge God, He turns them over to a reprobate mind. Romans 1
Some people mistakenly try to make the Bible their foundation. The Hebrew people did this. Jesus says, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me."
He is trying to direct us back to Himself.
We serve a living Savior. We know He lives because we know Him. Even a child can understand this. Irrational thinking makes life very complex. The reality is that God speaks, and we are learning to hear Him and to respond in humble submission and obedience.
SECOND PRINCIPLE: THE PREMISES MUST SHOW THAT THE CONCLUSION IS TRUE
Then, the other question is, does the reason for believing actually prove that the conclusion is true? Does the conclusion follow from the premise? So, if you say, "Milk is always purple because people exist" I know that your premise that "people exist" is a true premise, but it doesn't prove that "milk is always purple." So, the conclusion doesn't follow from the premise. Here are some examples of conclusions that don't follow from their premises:
A fallacy is anything that violates either or both of the two principles of logic: the premise must be testable and true and it must show that the conclusion is true. A fallacy is an error in an argument that makes the reasoning not sound. There are many fallacies and they are often hard to detect. The word, fallacy, means to deceive, to trip, to lead into error, or to trick. We can trick ourselves or be tricked by others. As with the word, logic, the word, fallacy, can have more than one meaning. We define it broadly because that is most useful to you. (read)
Component fallacies (Problems with the 3 components: true premise statement(s), true conclusion statement, and reasoning form.)
Fallacies of Ambiguity (Using language that isn't clear)
Fallacies of Relevance (Reasoning that misses the point)
Fallacies of Omission (Leaving out important information)
Tactics (Using deceptive tricks of various kinds that go beyond statements)
These are the types of fallacies by which we fool ourselves. People who have been fooled will try to fool you with these. Some people even know that they are using logic to fool you and they go right ahead and do it anyway.
For much more detailed examples of fallacies and tactics, see the Baloney Detector.
Last updated: May, 2015
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