Pilot Letter: Sorry history repeated

https://www.pilotonline.com/opinion/letters/vp-ed-letc-0909-20190909-jxh3mop42nb6rnawwgili7zqla-story.html

I’m sharing this letter because it relates to some others we have discussed here at the Forum and because it highlights a common fallacy.

A syllogism illustrates:

  1. A = B.
  2. B is wrong.
  3. Therefore A is wrong.

The logic here is perfect, except when A does not equal B.

The letter relies on a variation of the same syllogism:

  1. Christians believe in monsters (or monstrous things).
  2. It is ignorant to believe in monsters.
  3. Therefore Christians are ignorant.

I hate to see such things in print, because they are exclusionary and intolerant. Also, when it comes to Christianity and other religions, I have always found the question, “What is God?” to be far more interesting than the assumption that God is a monster.

15 thoughts on “Pilot Letter: Sorry history repeated

  1. “1.Christians believe in monsters (or monstrous things).
    2. It is ignorant to believe in monsters.
    3. Therefore Christians are ignorant.”

    While we’re on the topic of informal fallacies, let’s look at this straw man you’ve just constructed.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. RE: “While we’re on the topic of informal fallacies, let’s look at this straw man you’ve just constructed.”

      OK. What do you have to say about it?

      Like

  2. Your penchant for using the term “fallacy” with EVERYONE that disagrees with you is old hat.

    That being said, where is the fallacy? I don’t see it in your A=B equation. The LTE simply called out the fact that another writer claimed that our violent tendencies in today’s world are because we have “turned away from G-d”. She clearly points to the historical facts of the past of this country. Which one of her historical points is inaccurate? How many people claim “Christianity” as the reason for what was done in the name of this country?

    I again say it is not ALL Christians that are the problem. It tends to be the ones who claim to be “good Christians” and then completely ignore the words of their savior. Or misinterpret them to make them feel better about choices that have negative consequences to those who don’t believe the same way.

    THe LTE correctly points to the hypocrisy of many Christians.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “That being said, where is the fallacy?”

      As stated, the fallacy occurs when A does not equal B.

      In the case of the letter, it is not true that Christians as a class supported Jim Crow, or fought women’s rights, or advanced the Holocaust.

      As a result, the writer’s conclusion that Christians are ignorant of their own unsavory history is false. It is both illogical to think so, based on the letter, and hateful to say such a thing.

      In any case, that the letter is fallacious is objectively true. My agreement or disagreement with the writer’s opinion isn’t even a factor.

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      1. Poppycock!

        The KKK, and many other groups use Christianity as their basis for supporting their stances. Jim Crow being one of them. Also, many in the pre-civil war south claimed it was their Christian right to own slaves and used the Bible to justify slavery.

        It is Christian organizations that still today fight against women’s rights. If you don’t believe that, you aren;’t paying attention.

        Even the Pope during WWII did nothing to prevent the Holocaust. And by not doing anything to stop or fight it, Christianity was complicit in advancing it.

        I suggest you study some actual history before giving Christianity a pass. I will only mention, in closing, the Crusades. Needn’t say more about that.

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        1. RE: “Poppycock!”

          I answered your question, Mr. Green, but you could have answered it yourself without going public. Here are your own words: “it is not ALL Christians that are the problem.”

          RE: “I suggest you study some actual history before giving Christianity a pass.”

          Same problem.

          Like

  3. The fallacy in the letter is the presumption that all, or even most, Christians were complicit in the wrongs listed. You could come closer, but still not quite make it if you limited the complaint to US Christians, but even so, you cannot assume that those wrongs stemmed from Christian values unless you also presume that all Christians base all of their choices on their religion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Both you and Roberts have clearly not understood the letter that you are criticizing. There is no fallacy in it. It is not a condemnation of Christians or of Christian values. It is a very telling response to the absurd claim that we have “turned away from God” in the last fifty years and THAT is why we have a violent society (which we don’t.) The letter shows how that argument is bogus by pointing out the far worse and various forms of violence occurred when we supposedly had not yet turned away from God. In fact, one could logically argue that “turning away from God” has made for a less violent society.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is a fallacy to resume that all members of a class are identical or that the whole of Christianity is guilty of the acts of one Christian.

        But I do see your point in that religion may play a very small part in violence in our society.

        Regarding ‘turning away from God’ making us more or less violent, I would think why and how make a difference.

        One can consciously accept that life is finite, and thus precious, and that those lives that follow ours are just as precious in their time, and that would lead a person to defend his life and those he loves, while respecting the lives of others he does not know.

        Or, one could turn away into a bitter nihilism in which life is without value and only the pleasures of the moment matter, regardless of the harm done to others.

        Both have turned away form God but one finds joy in life and the other finds nothing.

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    2. RE: “The letter shows how that argument is bogus by pointing out the far worse and various forms of violence occurred when we supposedly had not yet turned away from God.”

      In that case, the letter’s premise is still false, just in a different way: begging the question.

      Put another way, if Jim Crow, opposition to women’s rights and the Holocaust were all antithetical to Christian morality, as the writer assumes, then our society was turned away from God in the past, not turned toward him.

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  4. Religion has little bearing on violence in a country unless it is used specifically to justify such.

    The top 10 states (Illinois is number 11, in case anyone was wondering) with the highest homicide rates are all deeply conservative states, excepting Maryland, most in the Deep South. Coincidentally they also have the highest gun homicide rates.

    http://worldpopulationreview.com/states/crime-rate-by-state/

    At the same time, most of those same states have the highest weekly church attendance rates in the country.

    https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/slideshows/10-most-religious-states-in-america?onepage

    That does not mean Christians are necessarily more violent. But it does call into question about a country, or a state, that turns from God becoming more violent.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. @Roberts

    “I hate to see such things in print, because they are exclusionary and intolerant.”

    If “Christian” ideas are not persuasive in the “marketplace of ideas” then they should just get a pass? In this case the original “Christian” LTE asserted that “turning away from God” is the cause of violence in our society. That is a very silly claim that deserves to be challenged. If an unwillingness to accept poppycock is “exclusionary” or “intolerant,” so be it.

    The responding LTE completely rebutted the claim by noting the fact that ours was a MORE violent society before this supposed “turning away from God” happened.

    In addition . . .

    “Turning away from God” is not defined in the original LTE but probably means that traditional white conservative cultural preferences and bigotries are no longer unquestioningly accepted and followed.
    Our society by almost every measure is LESS violent than in those glorious by-gone days before we “turned away from God”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. E: “In this case the original ‘Christian’ LTE asserted that ‘turning away from God’ is the cause of violence in our society. That is a very silly claim that deserves to be challenged.”

      That’s fair. The onus is on you, if you want to be the challenger, is to make a competent challenge. If you don’t, you, too, deserve to be called silly.

      RE: “‘Turning away from God’ is not defined in the original LTE but probably means that traditional white conservative cultural preferences and bigotries are no longer unquestioningly accepted and followed.”

      Well, since it is not defined, it’s pretty silly to make assumptions about it.

      Like

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