This is a really good point that Brian Thomas is making here. I find the No True Scotsman debate fallacy similar to the Straw Man debate fallacy only the No True Scotsman fallacy is much more subtle.
The Straw Man tactic is to incorrectly characterize or provide a misconception of your opponents position, setting up the straw man, and then proceed to knock down that straw man or attack that false conception. For more precise definition click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man . I am not saying that Bill Nye used this tactic but I think he, more subtly, used the No True Scotsman fallacy as Brian Thomas points out. Both tactic fallacies shows in a real honest debate that the arguer, the one feeling the need to use such tactics actually feels deeply threatened by his opponents point of view.
Nye vs. Ham Debate: No True Scotsman by Brian Thomas, M.S.
A surprisingly large number of people—some three million—watched live online February 4 as debaters discussed the topic “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?” Ken Ham took the affirmative position while “Science Guy” Bill Nye took the negative. During the debate, Nye’s use of a certain fallacy was soon evident, and viewers should beware of this tactic because of the subtle way it can skew perception.
Each time Nye contrasted “Ken Ham’s creation model” of a young world with “us in the scientific community,” he committed the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. Astrophysicist Dr. Jason Lisle wrote in Discerning Truth that this fallacy is committed “when an arguer defines a term in a biased way to protect his argument from rebuttals.”1
The informal fallacy’s name comes from an imaginary conversation in which a Scotsman claims that no Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge. A bystander replies that he, too, is from Scotland but does put sugar on his porridge. The first Scotsman rejoins, “Well, notrue Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”
What did he do? He essentially redefined the word Scotsman to insulate his argument against virtually any example that refutes it.
The fact that Ham presented specific examples of fully credentialed scientists who adopted the Bible’s creation account of history had no effect on Nye, who continued to insist that scientists are evolutionists—by definition. The “Science Guy” insulated his assertion from scrutiny by defining “scientific” to suit his needs.
The common general definition of science includes observing, measuring, and interpreting natural processes. But Nye’s definition of true science seems to involve observing, measuring, and interpreting natural processes only according to evolutionary tenets.
Nye was wrong to assume that no real scientist could ever hold the creation model, since scores of real scientists have and do. This is amply demonstrated in books like In Six Days: Why Fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation and The Genesis Files, containing 22 interviews with Ph.D. scientists who ascribe to Ham’s creation model and tell their stories.2,3 And of course, early creation scientists forged the paths of each of today’s major scientific branches of inquiry, like Isaac Newton’s physics,4 Matthew Maury’s oceanography, Louis Pasteur’s immunology,5 Michael Faraday’s electromagnetism,6 and George Carver’s agriculture.7,8 Are we to believe that Newton and Pasteur were not real scientists?
Apparently, facts like these do not matter to someone who is so fully committed to the false idea that real scientists only believe in evolution that he is more than willing to adjust the very definition of scientist to preserve his argument.
The fictional Scotsman who actually does put sugar on his porridge was willing to present and perhaps even demonstrate his case. In the same way, a minority of true scientists are willing and prepared to make their cases for biblical and scientific creation. Why would anyone even feel the need to protect their anti-creation definition of scientist with a “no true Scotsman” fallacy unless the evidence for recent creation that believing scientists are prepared to present constitutes a real threat?
Tim Wildmon – http://www.afa.net
Thursday, December 05, 2013 – See more at: http://www.onenewsnow.com/perspectives/tim-wildmon/2013/12/05/to-those-who-say-there-is-no-war-on-christmas#sthash.Eefk3Brh.dpuf
Christmas is the most notable day on the calendar where the general American public is reminded of the life of Jesus Christ. That is why some want to do away with it.
Someone sent me an article from USA Today, which has this headline: “Not all Christians believe there is a ‘War on Christmas.'” The article quotes Christian leaders and authors saying they disagree with those of us who believe there is a war on Christmas. I could give a litany of examples of exactly how the war on Christmas has manifested itself the last decade or so. From nativity scenes no longer being allowed on the courthouse square, to schools changing Christmas break to “winter” break, from Christmas parades being changed to “winter” parades, to children being told they can no longer sing carols during their “winter” program, etc., etc. There is an intentional effort by some secularists to purge the word ‘Christmas’ from our culture. Whether it will be successful or not remains to be seen. But it’s discouraging to see some fellow Christians say – “Who cares?”
The very word itself – “Christmas” – is a reminder that this particular holiday is the celebration of Jesus Christ. Those who promote political correctness and extreme multiculturalism resent this because it is exclusionary in their view. Some Christians are willing to go along with that line of thinking. For example, USA Today quoted Dan Scott, senior pastor of Christ Church in Nashville, who said this: “We really need a way to treat the public square as the public square and private realms as private realms and not feel demonized because we come from a different perspective.” In other words, Christians should keep Christmas in our homes and churches – the “private realms” – but we can’t expect the general public to be accepting of Christmas any longer because it promotes Christianity.
Christmas is the exaltation of one particular religion that makes a claim of being the only true religion and that is unacceptable to the movers and shakers of contemporary American popular culture, elitist academia, and many in the mainstream media, news, and entertainment. Therefore, Christmas must be replaced with words and ideas that are broad and general so as to knock Christmas from its traditional place in America’s public life. It is an attempt to define Christianity as no more important to the history and fabric of America than is, say, Hinduism. This is what these people (often called secular progressives) believe, and evidently a number of Christians agree with that position. Subsequently these Christians find more fault with their fellow believers – those of us who want to keep Christ in Christmas and Christmas in America – than they do with those who want to eradicate Christmas.
This is why it concerns me when I read stories like the one in USA Today. One of the people quoted in the article is Christian author Rachel Held Evans, best known for her book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood. Evans wrote a blog that went viral where she challenges the idea of a war on Christmas with these questions: “Did someone threaten your life, safety, civil liberties or right to worship?” No. “Did someone wish you happy holidays?” Yes. “You are not being persecuted.”
What Evans has done here is very clever. She framed the issue falsely. She set up a straw man. No one is arguing that Christians are being persecuted physically. What we are saying is Christianity itself is under siege in America. Just ask the Christian bakery owners in Washington state, the Christian florist in Colorado, or the Christian photographer in New Mexico who were all fined by their state governments because they would not participate in homosexual “weddings.” But what Evans has done is like the man who cheats on his wife and she confronts him about it. It might go something like this:
“I know you are cheating on me. What do you have to say for yourself?” the wife says. To which the husband responds: “There are children dying in sweatshops in Third World countries, and you are talking to me about my having sex a couple of times with some woman? Are you serious?”
See how this works? The “logic” is: If your life is not being threatened or your family is not in physical danger or your church is not being padlocked, then we have no cause to point out the war of Christmas. It’s much ado about nothing, say these Christian brothers.
The war on Christmas is really part of the larger war on Christianity and it concerns me that smart people like Rev. Scott and Evans don’t seem to get that.
Then there was the quote from Daniel Darling, vice president of communications for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. The article said this about his position: “He (Darling) said on Friday that some media outlets are overstating the war on Christmas debate, and very few Christians actually engage in it. ‘We advise people that, rather than trying to force that weary Wal-Mart worker to say ‘Merry Christmas’ against company policy, how about we be the bearers of joy. Instead of taking offense, say, ‘Here’s the story, we’re the joyful ones. We’re the ones that have the greatest story.'”
Darling, like Evans, has created a false caricature of his fellow Christians who want to keep Christmas alive in the public square. The image Darling creates is one of a Christian bully. Who does this browbeating of store employees? No one I know. (By the way, Wal-Mart does not forbid its employees from wishing customers a “Merry Christmas.”) What American Family Association and some other groups do is produce a Naughty & Nice list of companies that do or don’t allow Christmas in their stores. Due to the efforts of AFA, many household name corporations have put Christmas back in their promotions, advertisements, and stores over the last few years. The Gap was the latest store to write AFA about how they were doing this. This is a good thing. Christians should applaud Gap and others when they refuse to yield to political correctness and recognize that if not for the Christmas gift-buying season, many of them would not be in business.
All of this Christians criticizing other Christians, often based on false information as demonstrated here, seems to be a trend. I’m not sure why this is, but I have a couple of theories. First, we Bible-believing Christians have been so maligned and lied about by the media, particularly the entertainment and news media, that the negative stereotype that has been created has stuck. And now even we are quick to believe the worst about our fellow brothers and sisters. The second reason is what I call the “nicer than Jesus” mentality. It is human nature to want to be liked and avoid confrontation. Christian activism, while it should always be carried out with civility and manners, is sometimes by necessity confrontational – and confrontation is not considered “nice” by some. But Jesus himself said in Matthew 5:10: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus is talking here about a public stand for biblical righteousness, not just being a Christian. The world doesn’t care if you are Christian … as long as you don’t talk about what’s right and wrong, moral and immoral, or good and evil. That’s when the persecution comes.
Is there a war on Christmas? Yes. Is it part of a larger war on Christianity? Yes. Does this matter to the future of our country? Most certainly.
Just because Christians are not being physically persecuted in America today doesn’t mean these matters are not important. Not only is Christianity good for the individual, the moral value system that comes from Christianity is also good for society at large. God help us get it back before it’s too late.
Holy smokes! This above all makes sharing posts and social media in general worthwhile, when you find gems like this. I found this because Bristol Palin shared it. Hope you enjoy and share it as much as I did!
Does anyone here wonder where Mr. Phil Robertson stands in regards to abortion? The Bible? Our Forefathers? Keep scrolling. See video below.
August 20, 2013 By Bristol Palin
I saw this on my friend’s site, and had to let you guys see it. You know that I’m a Duck Dynasty fan. But after watching Phil Robertson’s sermon, I love those guys even more!
Check this out and pass the collection plate:
Yep, just like my earlier post, here is another why-are-they-leaving-the-Church article, which in turn refers to another why-are-they-leaving-the-Church article. Had enough yet? As Jamie says, “The gospel has power. Scripture has power. Everything else is simply window dressing.” Maybe this is oversimplifying but I think we spend way to much time, energy and overall hand-wringing in general on window dressing. We simply need to preach Christ and “…preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” 1 Corinthians 1:23. A stumbling block and folly to all of us except that we are saved by the Grace of God. We need to earnestly and prayerfully raise our children and show by example, by our behavior, by how we spend our time that we rely on that power of the Gospel and the power of scripture.
“Why Are They Leaving The Church” by Jamie Statema published Aug. 7, 2013 on GoFishGuy.typepad.com
I recently read this article about why kids are leaving the church. I found myself agreeing with a lot of what was said. However, it wasn’t the article itself that prompted me to write this post, it was many of the comments that were posted after it.
Over and over again angry, bitter adults expressed their frustration at the inaccurate teaching they received as children. In a nutshell, they were coddled with a kid-friendly, watered-down version of the gospel. As someone who is passionate about children’s ministry it was heartbreaking to read. However, it also reminded me why we do what we do!
These comments expose a very real problem in children’s ministry and like many of you, we are trying to use our talents and resources to repair it as quickly as possible for the sake of the gospel. Whether you choose to use our resources or not, please keep a few things in mind when you choose what curriculum to teach the children you are responsible for.
- Don’t water down the gospel! It’s easy to leave out tough topics like sin, judgment, and God’s wrath with children. However, when you only teach about God’s love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness you’re giving children half the truth. Jesus made it clear that the world would hate His followers as they hated Him (John 15:18). People who follow Jesus still get cancer, still watch their parents get divorced, and are still subject to ridicule. People, including children, need the bad news in order to appreciate the good news of the gospel. Jesus didn’t sugarcoat the truth and neither should we (Matthew 18). There’s no “easy” way to share the offensiveness of the gospel and if a curriculum company tells you there is…run the other way. Trust the gospel and don’t be ashamed of it. Shoot straight and tell the truth.
- Let Scripture do the work! Why do we replace Scripture with platitudes? Why do we not use Bibles with children? If we do use them, why do we often read a verse or two and spend the rest of the 20 minute lesson doing magic tricks, object lessons, watching cartoons, and playing games? These things are fun…I get it. Children learn by being involved…I get it. I do concerts where we shoot confetti, fire off cryojets, have a live band, dancers, and a big light show…I’m not against entertainment. However, our best attempts to “grab attention” will never change a life like the truth of Scripture. Is it “easy” to teach the Bible to a classroom of wiggly first graders? No. Is it worth the extra work to avoid the comments I read connected to this article? Absolutely. The God who created the universe can surely help children understand His Word by the power of the Holy Spirit. A high view of Scripture leads to a high view of God!
These haven’t always been very popular ideas. However, we have seen what can happen when these changes are implemented. The gospel has power. Scripture has power. Everything else is simply window dressing. The church will stand, and even though I can appreciate articles like the one mentioned for bringing important issues to our attention, I am not fearful for the future of the church. Scripture clearly states that the church will remain strong until the end and hell doesn’t have a prayer of standing against it. This isn’t daycare…this is war. The souls of our children are worth fighting for!