Monday, January 31, 2011

Faith is a Fallacy

In traditional logic, syllogisms are set up with two presumptions followed by a "therefore." If A --> B, and B -->C, then A --> C. Faith doesn't employ this strategy. There is no syllogism to validate our faith. This makes faith inherently fallacious. I suppose you could call it begging the question, circular logic, or a leap of faith, but regardless it isn't logical or "reasonable" to a logician/rhetorician.

This isn't a problem though. If we acknowledge that our faith is fallacious by accepting that we are making a logical jump, we can still discuss it on equal ground with those who are skeptical. We can talk about believing without knowing. But we can't ignore the fallacy -- that would be blind faith. Faith isn't blind -- it's trusting. Although it may be slight, there's a difference between those two.

Lastly, we should embrace the fallacy. A statement made in a fallacy does not mean that the statement is false.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

On Violent Language and Material Violence

For the record, since the shootings in Arizona I have not been one of the liberals to blame the right wing. I HAVE been one to scream loudly that the increasingly confrontational way in which we've been speaking to each other is irresponsible. I have not mentioned in the past week anything about curtailing first or second amendment rights. But with rights comes responsibilities. Crosshairs on names, inviting people to "take out" the incumbents with the incentive of firing a machine gun, exhorting not to "retreat" but "reload," that "if ballots don't work, bullets will" etc. are not responsible. Sure, I am citing all things said and done but conservatives, but I'm sure it wouldn't take too much digging to find liberals saying similarly bellicose things 4-8 years ago.

This is not to say that there was a link, either direct or indirect, between this sort of discourse and the shooting. But is it possible there was a link either direct or indirect? Most assuredly so. Do people's actions exist in a moral vacuum? Most assuredly not. Does society contribute to the decisions people make? Yes. Should society be held accountable in such instances? You betcha. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Geometry of a Wedding

Who cares about a wedding? Marriage is something you turn in at the court house to make it legal. Therein lies the problem.

It's been awhile since I've had geometry class, but three geometric terms (are they all conic sections? I don't remember) come to mind when arguing for an actual wedding ceremony. And all three describe and establish relationships that foster commitment to marriage.

The first is a horizontal line connecting the couple--the bride and groom being the normative couple but it's equally applicable to same sex unions. The couple are joined by a line when they recite their values. The line goes in both directions equally. Mutual submission. Mutual commitment to the relationship. Etc. This is the line established with "I do." It is a covenant between two people.

There is also a plane of commitment, though. The couple stands at the center of an ever-increasing circle, developing relationships with all the family and friends present. The couple gives away their commitment to this relationship through trust to all those gathered. The gathered likewise share in this social covenant that they will support the new couple through advice, prayers, leading by example, etc. A common part of many wedding ceremonies points this out with words along the lines of "let all those already married be renewed in their vows" etc. The circle is ever growing because this web of relationships is ever growing. The couple also owes a vow to any children that result from the marriage, any nieces, nephews, friends' children, etc. The greater the social web, the stronger the marriage bond for all involved. 

Lastly, there is a vertical line between the couple and God (or whatever transcendent reality you'd prefer). This line also goes both ways, but is not equal. 

Wedding vows that take place solely on the horizontal line through some sort of legal document are not doomed, but they have less resources to call on in times of stress. A wedding whose vows take place between a couple, between a couple and their friends/family, and between a couple and God have much greater resources, in both strength and number, to call on in time of need.