Monday, July 24, 2006

Circular Reasoning I - "Burn the Witch!"

A.K.A. "An Ode to Circular Reasoning"...

There's a (in)famous scene from Monty Python that gives a perfect example of my concept of circular reasoning. The setup is that an angry mob has come to a local official with someone they say is a witch and they want to burn her... The official shows them how to tell if she is a witch. Here it is:
  1. What do you do with witches? Burn them.
  2. What else to do you burn other than witches? Wood.
  3. Why do witches burn? Because they are made of wood.
  4. How do we tell if she is made of wood? Throw her in the pond is see if she floats like a duck or wood does.
So...if she weighs the same as a duck, she's made of wood and therefore
a witch.

I realize that this is a silly example, but many theories sound similar to this.

My big problem with circular reasoning ( definition - "a use of reason in which the premises depends on or is equivalent to the conclusion") is that how do you have an intelligent discussion about a topic based on this reasoning? Basically, the person that has imposed this type of reasoning to come to a conclusion had already made the conclusion before they proved it. If you try to have an intelligent discussion, you will just be confusing them with the facts. For every piece of evidence you show that proves your position, they can find another and make it mean whatever they want.

Trust me, I have been as guilty as any of this in my life. For most of my life, when I studied the Bible on the topic of music and worship I was looking in the Bible to confirm what I already believed! Guess what?!?! I found it...every time! There are those that would defend the idea of Acapella music only in worship to their grave, yet there is not one place in the Bible that spells it out...not a one, zip, zilch, nada. They know this, but it doesn't matter...through their exhaustive studying of scripture they can (and do) say with all conviction that the most perfect way of praising God through music does not involve anything but your voice. It's a revelation to them, and those that do not understand it have not studyed enough to get it yet. It's a nugget of truth that is hidden in scripture, a treasure that God left for those that dig deep into His word. One in which rewards those that study more than the next guy.

This would suggest that Bible scholars are more in tune with God than those that allow God to show them the simple truths of His message.

It wasn't until I stripped away the my original feelings about it and opened the Bible and just listened to the message that I found a different answer. Same words. Same God. Different receptacle.

More to come on this one...

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"...Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:7-18