WHI-1210 | Taking Every Thought Captive

Sunday, 15 Jun 2014

Though we’re called to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, more and more of today’s Christians have replaced Bible Study with all sorts of distractions; often still called “Bible Study.”

But there’s another problem at another level. Even if we do get together and read, and study the Scriptures, increasingly in our culture, we find that there is less and less discernment in being able to understand arguments, and certainly the Bible makes lots of arguments.

Dorothy Sayers addresses this issue in her important essay, “The Lost Tools of Learning,” when she writes: ‘For we let our young men and women go out unarmed, in a day when armor was never so necessary. By teaching them all to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects. We who were scandalized in 1940 when men were sent to fight armored tanks with rifles, are not scandalized when young men and women are sent into the world to fight massed propaganda with a smattering of “subjects”; and when whole classes and whole nations become hypnotized by the arts of the spell binder, we have the impudence to be astonished at this.’

Well, how then are we to raise up the next generation of Christians to think seriously of the Christian faith, especially if many of us have not been really taught to think at all, either in public or private school, or even in the Church? How are we to keep especially our children today who have all sorts of distractions, keep them in the faith if they’re constantly being propagandized by countless non-Christian ideas they encounter in today’s movies, television, and the world of advertising?

The Apostle Paul calls us to take every though captive to the obedience of Christ. But how is that actually accomplished? With us to discuss this important issue are Aaron Larsen, and Joelle Hodge, the co-authors of a book entitled, “The Art of Argument: An Introduction to the Informal Fallacies.” And also joining us in this discussion is Dr. Christopher Perrin, publisher and consultant for Classical Academic Press, and someone who’s also responsible for getting this book published…”

I think we endanger the next generation to the degree that we don’t train them in the art of discernment, thinking, and logic. And this would apply even to those outside of the Church; everyone should be trained to exercise reason well. And there’s a centuries’-long tradition of training in this art, and it’s considered an art because it’s not really a subject; it’s a means of mastering any subject. And the entire population suffers from not being able to think, from a lack of sustained argumentation, from very short attention-spans. So what we need to return to is really the education of our humanity, the cultivation of human beings again; not just to do certain things, but to be a certain kind of person. … Someone said somewhere that “the truth is not afraid of a free and fair fight.” And the only way that the next generations of Christians is going to believe and understand that is for them to go through the exercises of seeing the truth being very well able to defend itself.
Informal Fallacy
An error of reasoning or tactic of argument that can be used to persuade someone with whom you are reasoning that your argument is correct when really it is not. The word ‘informal’ indicates that these fallacies are not simply localized faults or failures in the given propositions (premises and conclusion) of an argument to conform to a standard of semantic correctness (like that of deductive logic), but are misuses of the argument in relation to a context of reasoning or type of dialogue that an arguer is supposed to be engaged in. Typically, informal fallacies have a pragmatic (practical) aspect relating to how an argument is being used, and also a dialectical aspect, pertaining to a context of dialogue-normally an exchange between two participants in a discussion.
Logic textbooks classify informal fallacies in various ways, but no clear and widely accepted system of classification has yet become established. Some textbooks are very inventive and prolific, citing many different fallacies, including novel and exotic ones. Others are more conservative, sticking with the twenty or so mainly featured in or derived from Aristotle’s original treatment, with a few widely accepted additions. The paragraphs below cover most of these “major” or widely featured fallacies, the ones most likely to be encountered by name in the language of everyday educated conversation.
(Adapted from The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, s.v. “Informal Fallacy”)

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