Skip to comments.Academic Fables and Myths: Does Believing Make It So?
Posted on 08/16/2004 12:16:13 PM PDT by Mr. Silverback
Note: This commentary was delivered by Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley.
When Julie went away to college, she made a point of sharing Christ with her three roommates. They listened politely and seemed supportive. Julie was excited; they all seemed open to the Gospel. But to her surprise, they responded just as warmly when Sally said she was into the New Age and believed in the god within all of us; and when Amy said she believed that God is a force, like in Star Wars; and when Ruth said she was a very spiritual person but didnt believe in any god at all.
But what baffled Julie most of all was when the others agreed that were all saying the same thing in the end.
How can Christian students like Julie make sense of the bewildering range of beliefs they encounter in this post-Christian age? In his recently re-issued book, How to Stay Christian in College, Professor J. Budziszewski explains that Julie had run into the powerful myth that truth is whatever you sincerely believe. It holds that, if you believe it, then its true for youand rules of logic and evidence dont apply.
The myth of sincerity is especially potent when it comes to lifes big questionsabout God and morality. Consider abortion, for example. A few years ago, abortionist James McMahon said, I frankly think the soul or personage comes in when the fetus is accepted by the mother. In other words, an unborn baby only becomes human when the mother sincerely believes hes human.
Christian students encounter the same type of reasoning on the college campus. If a classmate sincerely believes her unborn child is human, friends will call the child a baby and congratulate her. But if she doesnt, they call it a fetus and encourage her to have an abortion.
This is such an obvious fallacy. Can we really make something true just by believing it? How about a concrete example? If you sincerely believe your onion rings are French fries, do they become French fries? If you sincerely believe that youre a frog, do you become a frog? You might leap in the air, but you will not be a frog.
When it comes to concrete, familiar objects, no one falls for the sincerity myth. We all know theres an objective reality that exists on its own, despite what we may believe about itand no matter how sincere we are. If we accept the idea of objective truth when dealing with trivial questions, then logically we have to accept it when dealing with big questions about God and morality as well.
When students like Julie leave home, they need to know how to counter the myths theyll face on college campuses. Why not get your college-bound son, daughter, or grandchild a copy of J. Budziszewskis book How to Stay Christian in College. You can order a copy through BreakPoint (1-877-322-5527).
Christian young people dont need to be baffled about how to respond to their roommates or their professors. With a little help, they can learn to cut through the myths and fables with the sharp edge of biblical truth.
If the rules of logic and evidence really applied to this subject, then there would be a lot more people that agreed and believed in the same thing.
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If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?
Your fallacy is that you're assuming people respond equally to reason and logic. They do not.
The other fallacy is to apply reason and logic to faith.
Faith is a beautiful thing, and it exists completely outside reason. To try to "prove" faith through conventional methods is a fool's errand.
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This is a post-Christian Age? I don't think so.
The dog has four legs, beause calling the tail a leg does not make it a leg.
Actually faith and reason are not mutually exclusive. You are now guilty of the fallacy of false dilemma. Faith is a necessary component of everything we do, and we all have faith in one thing or another--including logic and reason itself (some of us do, anyway). Indeed, reason is a very important component of my faith. Without one, I could not have the other. Would you like me to elaborate?
Ice cream preference is a matter of taste, Christianity is a matter of fact. But even if Christianity were bunk, the idea that anyone should believe that truth is truth just because they think it's truth is ludicrous.
I know this, because it is what happened to me. I was always with the Catholic Student Center, but was unable to answer with a positive stance the aspersions cast my way by 'non-religious' people.
Oh, and anyeone going to college : avoid a group called The Great Commission. They are a CULT, not a group interested in spreading the Word of God. They may or may not have changed their name, but if they require that you cut off all ties to your family and new friends, and that you adhere to ONLY their philosophy of Christianity, then they are a group to be shunned.
"Jesus Among Other Gods" by Ravi Zacharias.
A Very intelligent book.
How odd. One set of believers in rather fanciful superstitions are gettign annoyed that other people believe in different fanciful superstitions, and aren't applying proper logic.
"Can we really make something true just by believing it?"
Well, everyone who believes in souls, ghosts, Heave, Hell, Nirvana, well-meaning liberal Democrats, demons and gods certainly seems to think so...
In other words, Thomas Aquinas totally rocks, and there is a reason that - contrary to claims by anti-religionists - the church was one of the primary organs for preserving and advancing learning in both philosophy and the hard sciences for 1200 years after the fall of the Roman Empire. Generally, all we hear about is church censorship, like Galilleo's trial, not the development of foundations for Western scientific thought.
He's a veritable rock star, one might say. ;)
With reference to this subject, since people do not respond equally to reason and logic...how does anyone determine what really is reasonable and logical?
It depends on whether or not you have faith in mathematical proofs and differential equations. However, the assertion is absurd on the face of it. You are holding Jesus to a higher standard of proof than you likely attribute to any historical figure. It is not that difficult to provide enough evidence of the Godhood of Jesus to demand a verdict. You must, however, have some faith in the historical sources--just like you must of any historical figure. Caesar for example. Or Aristotle.
What standards of proof do you require? How do you determine, historically speaking, if something did or did not happen? If Jesus truly did all it He claimed to do and truly did rise from the dead in the manner described in the Bible, wouldn't you agree that would be pretty compelling evidence?
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