Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!


Friday, February 8, 2013

Mk 6:14-29 Herodians and Logical Fallacies

(Click here for readings)

Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.  John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”  Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him…”

Herod feared John.   The King liked to listen to a commoner named John, who spoke simple truths that got people’s attention, including the King’s wife.  And although the King, on account of his wife, had the commoner (or little guy) arrested and bound in prison, he (the big guy) still liked to listen to him (the little guy).   What a twist!  “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.”  What a paradox!  What a truth! 

G.K. Chesterton would say, “A paradox is a truth standing on its head to attract attention to itself.”

Herodias feared John even more.  How do you win an argument?  Well, one way, the best way, the honest way, is to keep away from logical fallacies1 and to identify them in the arguments of others.   This is honorable, valuable and increasingly rare.

Herod and Herodias (let’s call them “the Herodians”) attacked John’s statements (on the dignity of marriage) by attacking John’s body.  They didn’t bother with attacking his logic.  That was way too hard.  So they decided to go for his head, literally.

Fallacy of Relevance (argument ad hominem):  There are plenty of people today who attack Christianity by verbally and physically attacking Christians.  These modern Herodians do not discredit Christian philosophy and theology the honest and logical way, but psychologically.  How?  Simple.  They call the Church and her member’s names, such as homophobe, fanatic, crazy, retarded, backwards, stupid, etc.  They laugh at her and say “Everyone is laughing at you!”  Now this fallacy, known as the"bandwagon fallacy”, actually works, but is, of course, irrelevant to the arguments being made.  And sometimes our modern hardcore Herodians will turn soft on us and cry, accusing the Church and her members of making them cry:  “Look at what you did!  Look at how you made him/her cry!!!” Again, another irrelevant appeal.

Yes, the Herodians will insult us, utter every kind of unkind word against us, but what they won’t do, or seldom ever do, is tell us what is wrong with our beliefs.   When they do, they often show an ignorance in Christian doctrine.

Fallacy of Ambiguity (equivocation fallacy):  Have you ever heard of this fallacy?  I’m sure you have, and most likely in the following way:  (1) Christianity teaches that faith is necessary for salvation.  (2) But faith is irrational; it is belief in the absence of evidence.  (3)  Therefore, Christianity teaches that irrationality is rewarded.  The problem with this argument is that it is fallacious because it equivocates on the word faith.  If faith is belief in the absence of evidence, then was St. Thomas condemned from heaven because he saw and believed?  Hardly. 

Christian belief is in a real person, Jesus Christ.  And faith in an empty tomb is not absence of evidence but evidence of an absence.

Appeal to force.  Herod to John:  You better change your views on our marriage, Johnny!  Or else…”  This kind of "appeal" is very common and popular.  It is an arguement that will not go away.  It was used against North Carolinians before they voted on a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage:  “Vote No! Or else we will conduct our business and hold our convention somewhere else!"  It is the same kind of “appeal” that is being used by the federal government on Catholic schools and institutions with regards to contraceptives:  “You better pay for this, or else you will pay big time!”  It was the same argument employed in the recent Chick-fil-A saga:  "Change your views or we will eat chicken somewhere else!"  It's an oldie but a goodie, the appeal of power and authority.

From ancient rulers, like Pontius Pilate and King Henry VIII, to the latest and greatest politicians, the Church has always demanded the following:  Don’t give me the argument of your power, but the power of your argument.
And like her founder, she has suffered for it.
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1.  fallacy:  In all my blog postings, now and future, the term fallacy includes both formal and informal fallacies, and both logical and factual errors.

7 comments:

  1. It also applies to what is going on with the Boy Scouts of America. I pray they stand strong like Chik-fil-a. Thank you father for ghis meditation. It helped me greatly as this attack on the BSA has been on my mind of late and is very upsetting to me.
    Craig

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    1. I can't believe I forgot the boy scouts!

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  2. wow! very interesting

    I know you enjoy a good conversation , a good challenge!

    and I enjoy to listen or read your response.

    you know how to put someone in their place !

    God Bless u my darling Father Alfonse

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  3. We would think that in present day America we are smarter and beyond these horrid acts read about in the Mk 6:14-29. Surely present day democracy and being that we are an ‘educated' society have advanced far beyond the times of King Herod. And are not our 'rulers of today ‘different' standing for what is true and working for their peoples best interest? Father once again in your reflection truth is brought to light and what happens to John the Baptist still exists today. How interesting it takes God's grace to see through the smoke and mirrors of self-interest driven laws and government that impose in many cases death on the innocent.How sad we see this affect so many adversely when those in power and politics are driven by greed. Current today we see cover up for cowardly people in high positions (like presidents) whose lack of courage to admit fault or responsibility cost the lives of others. In addition to see those in their favor illogically defend and blindly ignore the factual truth and deliberately block any exposure of truth being revealed in our media. This IS a dishonor to the people they supposedly ‘serve and protect’ as the only things being served and protected in many cases are their flaws and their self-interest. Darkness is a logical result when we cover up (truth). Forcing others to accept and live under their mistakes and darkness is a grave matter. Thank you Father for enlightening us with a logical presentation of how to find truth beyond the smoke and mirrors that arises in our present day. God bless Mother Church and those under her universal mantel- may they the body go out and preach the gospel by word and deed. We all have a responsibility to convey a unified message that is transparent, clear and that will stand up under this culture of death. Serious Catholics would do well to set aside at least 10 minutes a day to spend time with the word of God in order to go out and live the gospel. We are all being called to a new evangelization. This is what our faith tells us to do.

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  4. The equivocation fallacy takes some time to understand and underlies the the great importance of philosophy. I think your post on the belief in unicorns demonstrated precisely the frequent misinterpretation of faith (I can't touch and see unicorns; I can't touch and see God; ergo, God and unicorns, and belief therein, are the same). Too often, people forsake the nuance and tight logic of Christianity for the flashy fallacious reasoning of skeptics. Since their minds are misled, it's often up to their hearts to move them to think a little harder about the depth of faith.

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