Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The need for Logic

Recently I received a comment on this blog from Adventist Today Editor J. David Newman, in part he wrote:
You write well although you and I will never come to any sort of agreement because your logic is beyond me just as my logic is beyond you. It seems that we are speaking two different languages.

A couple years ago I had an extended dialog with David Newman on the subject of death before sin and he could not fathom anything other then taking the Genesis chapters 1 and 2 as literal method of interpretation. You know the perfect world with talking snakes thing, with trees given names like the “tree of life” and the “tree of knowledge of good and evil”.

His claim was that we were talking past each other, basically what he is saying in the above comment. I would have liked to have posted those conversations but he did not want me to. I think the reason he did not want them posted is not because we were speaking a different language but because we were speaking with different presuppositions and facts. But his facts were mostly beliefs and when you compare beliefs with actual factual information beliefs don't seem so compelling.

Not long ago there was a news program and Rachel Maddow was making a statement about the supposed wage gap between men and women. To this another panelist Alex Castellanos stepped in to explain some of the reasons for wage differences. Her response was: “Wait wait wait, don't tell me the reasons do women make less then men...” If one rejects reasons to focus upon statistics do the statistics really matter anymore? No in fact they become excuses. We see a lot of this type of miscommunication in the world of politics, but it is also just as frequent in the world of religion.

It is most frequent with the fundamentalist mindset that claims that the Bible is the word of God, so if God wrote the story of Genesis through the hand of some person, God was telling the literal, historical and scientifically accurate truth. That presupposition precludes any logical or reasoned variance with their belief. Their belief is not even accurate as the Bible does not claim to be the word of God (click this link for more) in the first place but that does not really matter as their belief is the primary thing. When people refuse to use logic then logic has no effect on them. When people want you to ignore logic then their arguments have no effect on the person who wants to be logical; who wants to have well thought out reasons for their positions. Thus Newman's statement is somewhat true. “...I will never come to any sort of agreement because your logic is beyond me just as my logic is beyond you.” The problem is that we could communicate if he was using logic. That is the reason for the existence of what we call logic. That way people can get together and discuss and work out ideas and effectively communicate.

What appears to be happening in Adventism today is that logic has been cast aside. When we lose that we have nothing. We have no reason to exist and we have no reasonable way to fulfill a mission for God and no way to fulfill that mission because we have lost the key elements to communicate. For Adventism to progress it must begin to think critically once again. (see the following quote on Critical Thinking):

Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally. It includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking. Someone with critical thinking skills is able to do the following :
  • understand the logical connections between ideas
  • identify, construct and evaluate arguments
  • detect inconsistencies and common mistakes in reasoning
  • solve problems systematically
  • identify the relevance and importance of ideas
  • reflect on the justification of one's own beliefs and values

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