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March 30, 2022 12:01 am
Everyone, even the world's most brilliant scholars, are capable of making faulty logical conclusions. Today, R.C. Sproul identifies common mistakes people make in their thinking when it comes to the existence of God.
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Today on Renewing Your Mind.
We as human beings as well-trained as we would be in the science of logic are still capable of making incorrect inferences and errors in deduction. And that's one of the reasons why great minds will come to different conclusions about significant issues because somewhere along the way somebody's made a logical leap and so they come to a different conclusion that happens all the time visited.
Politics is just one example of people can come to very different conclusions about the issues of the day, but what about religion, what are some people believe wholeheartedly in God while others are in different even disdainful of God's doctors in school continue our study of the psychology of atheism in our last session we talked briefly about why it is that people of greats in the data a couple academic and scientific credentials will disagree on very important issues. None more important course in the course of the existence of God and I listed four main reasons why people of equal brilliance may come to different conclusions on the same question, and I mentioned those for our first of all differing epistemologies or systems or theories of knowledge.
The second one formal errors. The third when factual errors in the fourth one psychological prejudice.
Now, we've already looked in some detail at the first when the idea of differing epistemologies in today I want to try to cover the other three. If I can squeeze it in within the timeframe.
The second first when relook at the days the second of these four what we call formal errors. What is meant here by formal errors is not that the errors are dressed in a tuxedo wearing a white tie formal errors or errors in form have to do with logical mistakes.
These are mistakes that are made in our reasoning process where we are capable for example of violating principles of logic of drawing incorrect inferences from the data that we examine, or in other ways, committing all kinds of fallacies of rational thought in our thinking processes themselves. I remember when I was a student of philosophy in college, I was required to take a course in logic is all philosophy majors were and in the standard textbook obese introduction to logic, which is a classic in the field.
We had the occasion to examine the various fallacies that are committed in the reasoning process and what struck me about this particular textbook was that when the author gave examples of fallacious reasoning. He would lift passages to use as illustrations in his textbook not from the tabloid magazines or from cartoons or from uneducated people. But he took passages from the works of the most brilliant thinkers in history, there would be a passage from John Stuart Mill that violated one of the rules of logic and there would be a passage from Immanuel Kant, that violated another rule of logic and the point that the author was trying to show is that even the most brilliant scholars are capable of making some serious blunders in their thinking. Aristotle once remarked that in the corner of every geniuses mind lies the portion of the fool.
So even Homer nods from time to time and we can make formal errors. One of my favorite illustrations of this is the way in which logic can be used deceptively. I do this for fun sometimes in my classroom with my seminary students I try to prove to them that cats have nine tails and I'll start by asking how many of you believe that cats have nine tails and nobody raise their hand is a Y believe that cats have nine tails and I'm going to prove it to you and I prove it by starting this way.
My first premise is a universal negative assertion has eight tales last momentum to make out with a tails know is a you believe the cats don't have a tails in general deftly believe that if if there was one found with a tails it would be a freak of nature incident.
Generally, normal cats do not have a tails is okay now we can agree because you say that cats don't have a tails and I say they have more than a tails I have nine tails, but that they don't have eight tales for our first premise is no cat has a tail and I asked this question is that supposed I had two boxes appear in front of the classroom and one box contained a cat and the other box was empty, but here's a simple question elementary mathematics. We have two boxes. How many more cats are in the box that has the cat then in the box that is empty. Pretty simple answer is what one, there's one more cat in the box with the cat, then there is an empty box.
Okay now the real question is how many cats tails are in the box with the cat compared to the empty box humming more tails of these people are all convinced cats only have one tail so they say what one more cats tail in this box and there is no box was okay.
I gets me to my second thesis here. Second premise one cat has one more tail then severe one cat here no cat over here. I will catch you happier than ever hear one more cats tails to have over here and have over here. One, they all agree is okay premises. One cat has one more tail than now it's just a simple matter of logical deduction elementary mathematics if no cat has eight tales and one cat has one more tail than that, how many tales does 1 to 1 cat has 19th because some show Dragon no cat has eight tales and one cat has one more tail, no cat, and if no cat has a tails 8189.
So one cat has to have nine tails.
What's wrong with this picture. Now there's a formal technical name for the game that I just play here and the fallacy this been committed by me to give you the simple word for it.
It's called the fallacy of equivocation by which the term changes its meaning in the middle of the argument and by slipping in a different meaning to the term.
No cat. I use my premises to come to a false conclusion. Now I don't think that most errors in logic that are made are displayed and where this silly, but I want you to see that that's the kind of problem you find you find a equivocation taking place all the time in reasoning were in the middle of the discussion. The terms that are being discussed change their meaning and now you have probably one of the most brilliant philosophers and I admire the most. I won't mention him on the air argues that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And then he proves his point by describing Rembrandt's Nightwatch. He said if you look at the Nightwatch that masterful painting that hangs in the direction Museum in Amsterdam is made up of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of individual brushstrokes.
But when you add all of those individual brushstrokes together and get the whole painting what you have is not just a glob of undifferentiated brushstrokes you have a masterpiece of great art. So the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. What's wrong with that. Think about efforts. What's wrong with that argument from this picture what is happened here. The axiom the whole cannot be greater than the sum of its parts in what sense is the word greater being used here in a qualitative sense or quantitative sense in a quantitative sense, that is if you have 100 individual brushstrokes.
The total brushstrokes cannot exceed what number hundred tickets 100 times. One is under but what is slipped into this man's argument is now in the first premise greater is defined quantitatively. But when he says the Nightwatch is greater than the sum of its parts. He speaking of greatness in qualitative sense. So in the middle of the argument. The word greater changes significantly. That's a logical error. That's a formal error that leads to a false conclusion and that's just one example, we could go on all day giving examples that we as human beings as well-trained as we may be in the science of logic are still capable of making incorrect inferences and errors in deduction. And that's one of the reasons why great minds will come to different conclusions about significant issues because somewhere along the way somebody's made a logical leap. Somebody's made an error in their thinking, and so they come to a different conclusion. Well, the third reason for coming to different conclusions is factual errors and what I mean. Here are simply empirical errors. As we talked about Descartes and Descartes skepticism about basing knowledge on what we can see and hear, and taste, and touch not told about the policeman that was in our audience, whose head was smaller than the size of my thumbnail because my put my thumbnail in front of my eye. As I looked at him from a distance I could cover up his head with my thumbnail.
That's an error in perception is not one of the most interesting illustrations of this I've ever seen took place back in the 60s.
In the middle of the whole craze over artificial drugs with Timothy Leary being the high priest of LSD and you recall that when Leary was at the University of Harvard teaching in the psychology department that he got in trouble with the law for using LSD and some of his experiments because it was illegal. And when his case went to trial.
He was accused of using hallucinogenic drugs unlawfully in his experimentation and the defense that he came up with was fascinating.
His attorney, and Leary tried to argue that LSD was not a hallucinogen that was not hallucinogenic, but it was psychedelic before that I'd never heard the term psychedelic in my life and all of a sudden a word entered into the currency of our language and became a pop term overnight word psychedelic and as the attorneys argued the term psychedelic means mind expanding. What's the difference between the hallucinogenic drug, and a psychedelic drug what Larry was trying to prove with this that hallucinogenic drug causes a distorted view of reality, whereas a psychedelic drug does not distort reality but gives you a heightened perception of reality. And in order to defend his case he brought in people to testify from various areas of the world. He had musicians command who said that under the use of LSD that these musicians were able to hear tonal relationships, harmonic relationships that they couldn't hear with the naked ear as it were. He had artists come in those testified that under the use of LSD. They had such a heightened perception of shades and nuances of the hues of the colors on their ballot that they had now an expanded opportunity of sophistication in the coloring of their paintings pen they had people come in. This was in time magazine talked about the sexual intensification of LSD that the sensory organs of the human body are so heightened by this use that they were testifying to having orgasms in their elbow. That was too much for time magazine and made the whole country why Groton by LSD, but the problem is this how can you know who's telling the truth or how do we know this is the oldest brought philosophy. There is how we know that the external world is as we perceive it to be exact. We know that the power of our sensory organs is limited. I was a kid my mom got me a puppy and I went to the store to buy a whistle doggy whistle, dog about the whistle walk back home and I blew on the whistle and there is no sound. So figure was broken back to the store and I said to the store man I said I want to go and it was listens at work. He said with seminar slot. Jamaican accent so it matches something so he said the dog, and I said yes, why and he said because this thing is pitched at a higher register, then, is perceivable by the human ear.
But the dog can hear sounds at a higher level then we can so we won't bother rebutting the neighborhood when you my whistle for your dog. Just use this whistle. You won't hear your neighbor won't hurt dog will ear anybody's ever been involved in hunting deer. They know how important it is to know which way the wind is blowing because the olfactory sense of the deer is so much more advanced than the human beings and we know all kinds of animals whose power of perception is greater either greater hearing or seeing or smelling or whatever then what we have what Leary was saying is our senses are so weak that they can distort reality. That's why scientists use telescopes and microscopes to improve the ability of human perception to scan the external world. So all this is simply to show that we can make mistakes in what we observe is interesting how important eyewitness testimony is in trials.
In the courtroom.
I remember many years ago when Ashley Bailey had a regular program on television. He conducted an experiment where in the middle of his speech he was standing on the stage of a large theater and he was giving a speech and in the middle of his speech, he was interrupted when the sky ran out on the stage behind him, yelling, and this other guy came from the other side, yelling back and the two of them came right up to each other in their waving their arms at each other and having this furious argument and then they run away and Bailey said what happened and they pulled the studio audience and I don't remember the exact number of percentage but an overwhelming number of the people in the audience testified that they saw the hostile man strike.
The other man and basically sure they suggest we sought. Then they ran the videotape back and the amazing thing was the man was gesticulating with his arms and waving them all around in hostile manner, but his hands never ever touched the other person the course. Bailey states that to show how the people fill in the gaps with their eyes. They anticipated that the man was going to hit the other man when he was flailing his arms so they actually believe that Samhita I remember once lecturing in Pennsylvania we had a regular weekly Bible study with this one group number 50 people in the group and we had questions and answers at the end of the thing. This one lady raised her hand and asked me a question about something that said I said right and say that she suggested I said I'm sure I didn't say that I said such and such. He said no. I know you said that. And now I'm starting to doubt I said really that I say that and anybody else here that every person in the room raised her hand and said yes you said that RC said I can't believe it went tight so we turned the tape recorder on, and we ran back handset 50 people in that room heard me say something I didn't say is astonishing. By that point I believed I had said it all that testimony, but all of those things illustrate that is reliable is our senses may be for common ordinary usage are not perfect and we can make mistakes with our senses.
We all know cases where this is happened to us and we think that we heard something that we didn't hear or that we saw something we jump to conclusions that we shouldn't jump to remember I told the story before but I was in Holland in I had to do some work in the yard and my two-year-old daughter wanted to go outside with me and there was this little stupid there that I told her to stay on the front porch because the road was only about 20 feet away and I didn't want her wandering off and getting it by car. So I said how you can come out here To stand, stoop, she said okay daddy I started my work and I turned around I see her wandering around the yard.
I go over and pick her up to back up the steps of honey, I told you to stay on the steps okay daddy two minutes later she walked around the room upper back on the right of the steps in honey if you got the stoop again for those who have to spank is okay daddy.
15 seconds later she's off the stoop and I walked over her so I told her to have to spank you my spank. She looks at me, sobbing tears coming to us. I told you to stay on stoop. She said daddy what she said to stoop. I said you looking at one the I had made the assumption that she knew what I meant to do that with all kinds of things leads us to erroneous.
Well that is a clear explanation is in the why we come to such diverse conclusions were glad you do it is today for Renewing Your Mind and another lesson from Dr. RC Sproul series the psychology of atheism is based on RC's book. If there's a God, why are there atheist would like to send you the paperback edition of this book 200 pages in them when you contact us today with your donation of any amount will add Dr. Sproles teaching series to your online learning library, allowing you to stream all 15 lessons right away.
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Your gift provides sound biblical teaching, and theologically rich resources to believers around the world. So thank you. Before we go I like for you to hear a portion of a message that Dr. Steven Lawson, one of our teaching fellows delivered at one of our league in your conferences. He's referring to Romans chapter 1 where the apostle Paul says that atheists suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Why would anyone suppress the truth in order to cling to their unrighteousness. He says in verse 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them. There is a knowledge of God within every person. It is within them. There is a God consciousness and God has placed that God consciousness within every man. Solomon will say in Ecclesiastes, that the Lord has set eternity within every heart for God made it evident to them. God is the revealer himself to every man on the planet.
There is general revelation and there is special revelation and general revelation is made known to every man, every woman, every boy, every girl on the planet and it is a general revelation of the fact of God, of the existence of God, of the being of God, of the person of God that general revelation is not enough to know that God, there must be special revelation which is found in the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and not everyone receives special revelation there people on this planet who are born, live their lives and die without ever hearing the name of Jesus Christ, but they nevertheless have general revelation. It is not enough to save them. But it is enough to condemn them and it is enough to hold them accountable to God and he will say in verse 20 that no one is without excuse before God, so that the universe 19 God made it evident to Suzanne. It is clear it is obvious in verse 20 explains how God has made it evident to every man and every woman on planet Earth is a word for introduces an explanation in verse 20 for since the creation of the world. That means from the very beginning of time from the dawn of human history since the creation of the world his invisible attributes, his eternal power. His divine nature. Please note this have been clearly seen, it is obvious, it is glaring.
A blind man can see it, have been clearly seen, how he says later in verse 20 being under stood through what has been made.
The very simple philosophical point that every effect must have an adequate cause in the mere fact that there is creation around us necessitates an adequate cause and there is only one reasonable rational explanation for the universe and for creation and it is that there is a creator C and there is no Corporation who could have created everything out of nothing and there is no individual. There is no religion there is no philosophy that could have made everything out of nothing and is RC Sproul is said if there was ever a time when there was nothing, then there could never be anything because before creation. There had to be a creator. There had to be God. Such a helpful perspective on the futility of atheism is Dr. Steven Lawson and I hope you join us again tomorrow as we continue Dr. Sproles discussion on why people come to different conclusions about serious matters. Take a look at how our personal bias influences our thinking so I hope you'll join us tomorrow for Renewing Your Mind