Saturday, June 21, 2014

Loss of Logic, Loss of Freedom: Reflections on the American Situation


The Church is kicking off its Fortnight for Freedom as of today. While America is not in the same place as Sudan or China to be sure, we do seem to be getting closer to the Kulturkampf of 19th century Germany. The Church is seen as a threat, with both government and society behaving in a hostile manner.


I have no doubt that Christians in countries where persecution is overt and brutal would rather be in our shoes than theirs. But since America prides itself for loving freedom, and since large attacks on freedom come from smaller attacks, certainly we have the right to speak out before the persecution becomes overt and physical.

The problem we are seeing in America is a loss in logic and the ability to reason. People don't see that if one makes a stand for tolerance, that means tolerating what they do not like. So if Christians are expected to be tolerant of what we dislike, it logically follows that those who dislike Christian moral beliefs must also be tolerant of those beliefs But that's not the case.

Instead, we see people demanding that Christians tolerate their views, but refuse to tolerate the view of Christians. In other words, they are what they accuse us of being!

Contradictory Relativism

If there are no moral absolutes AND it is acceptable for a person to be fired for acting in accordance with his religious beliefs if his religious beliefs are deemed offensive by someone who files a complaint,  THEN it follows that a person may also be fired for acting in accordance with his secular beliefs if his secular beliefs are deemed offensive by someone in his work place who files a complaint. (Ironically, some people don't accept that it can work both ways.)

When moral absolutes are denied, the sole rule of judgment is whatever those in power approve of. Whatever runs afoul of those preferences may be attacked. Basically,  it's an attitude of "Do good to my friends and harm to my enemies." Socrates is doubtlessly spinning in his grave that something he refuted about 2500 years ago is making a comeback.

The problem is, if that is the only standard, then the person who uses this view can have no complaint when the wheel turns and those on the bottom come out on top while those on top turn out to be on the bottom. The only standard then can be, "The ends justify the means," and there is no way to object if your opponents use this same tactic against you.

This can only be avoided if one recognizes that there are objective values which determine right and wrong.

Now, IF one wants to argue that their standards are to be followed and those of his/her opponent are to be rejected, it means that those standards are being treated as objective values, and we can ask, "On what basis do you hold your standards are true?"

That leads the person who was arguing that living in accordance with Christian values can justly get the believer fired has a dilemma to face:

  1. If there are no objective truths, then there is nothing wrong with religious values and nothing right about secular values.
  2. If there are objective truths, then the champion of secular values has the same burden of proof for their views as the champion of religious values has.

The problem is that the person attacking religious values wants it both ways.

  • They say there are no objective values  when they are rejecting religious values.
  • But when it comes to taking action against their opponents, their views are presumed true and therefore their opponents can be legitimately opposed.

Robert P. George, in his book, Conscience and Its Enemies, points out:

There is a truth all too rarely adverted to in contemporary “culture war” debates— namely, that deep philosophical ideas have unavoidable and sometimes quite profound implications for public policy and public life. Anyone who takes a position on, say, the ethics of abortion and euthanasia, or the meaning and proper definition of marriage, is making philosophical (e.g., metaphysical and moral) assumptions— assumptions that are contested by people on the other side of the debate. The temptation, of course, is to suppose that “I'm not making any controversial assumptions ; only the people on the other side are doing that.” But this is absurd. All of us make philosophical assumptions— about the human good, human nature, human dignity, and many other crucial matters. One objective of this book is to show that these assumptions— our own assumptions, not just the other guy's— have important consequences, and that we should all be prepared to examine them critically.

George, Robert P. (2013-06-10). Conscience and Its Enemies: Confronting the Dogmas of Our Age (American Ideals and Institutions) (Kindle Locations 87-94). ISI Books. Kindle Edition.

It's a good point. This kind of view makes the champion of secular values the judge, jury and executioner. He or she determines the charge, decides the guilt and carries out the sentence—purely on their own say so.

The irony is, what they are accusing us of is what they are guilty of being:

  • Judgmental
  • Bigoted
  • Self Righteous

They are Judgmental because they accuse us of holding our positions out of deliberate bad will.

They are Bigoted because they refuse to consider that their preconceptions about us may not be true.

They are Self Righteous because they assume their motivations are without fault when compared to their opponents.

To avoid these charges, it requires honest investigation into what is believed by an opponent and why he or she believes it.

Some Reflections on SOME

Knowing the difference between some, none and all seems to be forgotten today.

Dialogues between people who hold and people who reject Christian values may actually reveal that SOME Christians hold their values for bad reasons--reasons the champion of secular values justly find offensive. But SOME means exactly that. By saying SOME, we neither have enough information to say ALL, nor to say SOME ARE NOT.

Some A is B 2

When we say "Some A is B" we only know about the unshaded part of A. No more. You certainly can't say that the unshaded part is ALL of A.

Saying SOME provides enough information to say "This portion of A has this characteristic," but does not provide enough information to draw any conclusions about the rest of Group A. This is why indicting all religious believers on the basis of the Westboro Baptist Church is bad logic. The WBC is SOME of the group "Christians" and the whole of the group "Christians" cannot be judged on the basis of what is known about SOME.

Stereotypes are not only morally repugnant, but they're logically wrong. The fact that SOME Muslims are terrorists cannot lead to the conclusion that ALL are terrorists. The fact that SOME African American Males are felons cannot lead to the conclusion that ALL are felons. Thus, the fact that SOME religious believers are intolerant cannot lead us to the conclusion that ALL are intolerant.

But turning SOME into ALL is exactly what is being done when it is proclaimed that ALL opposition to "gay marriage" is intolerant. People are making a universal conclusion out of what is only partial data--assuming without proof that just because the sample I have encountered is intolerant, the whole group must share the intolerance.

The False Dilemma Fallacy Revisited (ad infinitum)

This kind of reasoning that the whole shares the guilt of the part through the False Dilemma fallacy. The claim is made that Either a person supports "gay marriage" or is intolerant (either A or B). That kind of thinking fails to consider that a person may choose Option C, Both A and B or Neither A nor B. If one of these options is possible, then the claim "Either A or B" is a false dilemma.

The false dilemma in this case is the assumption that there can be no opposition to "gay marriage" that is not intolerant. That assumes a lot that needs to be proven. Let's think of this: Is all opposition to war or theft or murder intolerance? No. Why? Because a person can believe that certain behavior is wrong without being intolerant of the person committing it. One can still love a family member that a person believes is living in the wrong way. The behavior is thought to be wrong, but the family member is not despised because he or she acts in this way.

The same is true concerning homosexual acts. One can think they are wrong, but not hate the person who commits these acts.

Begging the Question fallacy

Sometimes, at this point, a person might say that the opposition to "gay marriage" is itself intolerant because it supports discriminates against people who carry out homosexual acts. But think about the charges...

  • Opposition to "gay marriage" is rooted in intolerance
  • Denying the right to "gay marriage" denies homosexuals the same rights that heterosexuals have.
  • Denial of "gay rights" is the same thing as the denial of civil rights of minorities.

These claims all have something in common. They all assume that the statement is proven when actually the proof of the assertion is needed.

Circular Reasoning

Related is the circular reasoning, which holds that Christian values are intolerant. Basically, we have a two step:

  • Christian teaching on traditional marriage is based in intolerance.
  • Why is that?
  • Because it refuses to recognize that "gay marriage" is good.
  • Why don't they think it's good?
  • Because they're intolerant.

This kind of argument can never break out of repeating "supporters of traditional marriage are intolerant." The reply to the request for explanation is the same statement repeated.

It never gets into demonstrating why the Christian teaching is intolerant. It merely presumes it must be because if they weren't intolerant, they wouldn't believe what they do.

Of course, if they were to try to demonstrate why we were intolerant, their arguments would be open to evaluation and refutation. But, "You're a bigot" isn't even an argument. It's an unproven accusation... and unproven accusations are not legitimate reason to fire a person or sue a person or prosecute a person.


What we have in America today is a system of denunciations. If a person will not accept the secular morality, he or she can be denounced to the employer, to the courts, to the government. In these denunciations, there is no attempt to prove that the accusation of "intolerance" is true. The mere holding of the belief is assumed to be a confession of guilt. The result is either a renunciation or suffering the consequences.

That's not the behavior of a free country. That's the behavior of the shameful parts of our history—the Salem Witch Trials for example, and parts of the history of unfree countries. (Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany etc.)

The fact is, Christians are being denounced for following their beliefs, and those who dislike these beliefs are able to get away with causing legal and social repercussions.

The irony is, the Pope of a Church long accused of being a totalitarian anti-freedom institution has a better understanding of the American concept of Religious Freedom than those political and cultural elites of today when he said:

Religious freedom, he said, is not simply freedom of thought or private worship. It is the freedom to live according to ethical principles, both privately and publicly, consequent to the truth one has found.

Intolerance is the “great challenge of the globalized world, a sickness, in which weak thought even reduces the general ethical level, in the name of a false concept of tolerance that ends up persecuting those who defend the truth on humanity and its ethical consequences,” the Pope said.

Legal systems, at both a national and international level, are required to recognize, guarantee and protect religious freedom, which is a right inherent in human nature, in man's dignity as a free being. They also serve as indicators of healthy democracies and legitimize states, he said.

The "freedom to live according to ethical principles, both privately and publicly" is kind of the point of the First Amendment. The fact that our rights don't only apply to the government not arresting us is kind of the point of the Civil Rights movement and the Civil Rights Act. Otherwise, it would be legitimate to fire or refuse to hire a person (or refuse to serve a person in a business, or allow them the right to post their views on a site, or get housing… you get the point) based on ethnicity or gender etc.

But the standard is:

  1. Bigotry cannot be tolerated
  2. Christians are bigots
  3. Therefore Christians cannot be tolerated

Talk about a self-contradiction! If bigotry is intolerance (the two terms are used interchangeably) and bigotry cannot be tolerated than the intolerance against Christians cannot be tolerated. That's one example of the lack of logic and reason being used to harass Christians.

But it's more than that. Christians are being accused without proof and being ostracized because of that accusation. But the lack of logic and reason means that people don't even question whether the assertions are proven or not. Even by their own standards, If the accusations are not proven to be true, it would be unjust to ostracize us just because our beliefs are unpopular.

That's where America is experiencing a loss of freedom. Because a charge can be made without proof and because the elites of America don't like the Christian moral beliefs, the charges of intolerance can be made against Christian beliefs and the person who holds them can be ostracized, sued or prosecuted on the grounds that they live in accordance with these beliefs.

It doesn't matter that most Christians find the antics of the WBC offensive. The fact that we believe certain behaviors are morally wrong is enough for us to be condemned for having the same motives as the WBC.

Until people become aware of the lack of logic and reason in the accusations against us, we can expect religious liberty to continue to decline in America.

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