Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Very Ingenius Sophistry

Via National Review


Please see the penciled in comment from this scanned copy of "The Grammar of Assent".

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Insulting your opponent's intelligence

I see this a lot, and I suppose I have been guilty of it too. I am not talking about generic insults, but the one that goes something like this:

The reason you don't agree and become Lutheran/Orthodox/RC/Buddhist is because you are too dense to see the awesome subtlety of why I believe like I do. If only you were as intelligent and sensitive to nuance as my coreligionists and me, you would see the light immediately.

This takes many forms, and these kinds of arguments are rarely if ever persuasive. What usually happened is not that your opponent didn't understand the subtlety of your argument, but that for him it passed by being subtile a while ago and has morphed into sophistry.

Here are some examples that people have used against me:

RC annulments really mean that no marriage occurred but any children born into the non-marriage aren't bastard children.

EOs are apophatic, and yet they speak of God having an ousia.

Baptists insist on Scripture alone, and yet have no problem asserting that no matter what Christ and the Apostles say, Jesus cannot have meant the bread is his body because he just cannot do that--we know this from science.

We are the church, you are not. So why don't you join the real church?

Is it really the best argument to say that your opponent is too dumb to understand what he s supposed to believe? Sharp disagreement is OK and even to be expected. But there is a lot of sophistry and posturing which passes for argument.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The teachings of men....

Quite often when discussing the liturgy and whether or not we need to discard it or modify it, I am told it is just the "teaching of men..." and an adiaphoron, in any case, so why not just get rid of all that so we can bring in more people?

The problem is that I do not see a reason to discard the "teaching of men..." over the centuries and replace it with the teaching of a couple of men in the here and now--without Scriptural warrant. In other words, there is a burden to be overcome, it is not enough to show that a particular practice isn't commanded in the Scriptures so we can do whatever we want. We have to at least respect what was handed down to us and not just discard it--because in many ways what is handed down to us is what "works" for Gospel proclamation.