There is what seems to me to be a “new trend” among evangelicals. Thanks to wonderful brothers like Jason Lisle and Sye TenBruggencate (among others), many evangelicals are embracing and using logic. In fact, contrary to many Christians – they are employing it properly and using it to stop the mouths of unbelievers. I encourage you to click those links above; they will open in a new tab.
This is wonderful, but like a lot of “new toys,” some people use it incorrectly or unnecessarily. Some folks have learned just enough of it to be dangerous – as the saying goes. I have a couple of reasons why I think this way.
One of the reasons is that I’ve seen folks who are really excited about spotting logical fallacies. But I’ve seen it done with more zeal for the “winning of the argument” than for the “winning of the lost.” I could be mistaken; but that’s just the way it seems to me sometimes.
Ultimately, I expect people to be rational and logical. I am not bashing presuppositional apologetics, as I believe it is, in fact, the only kind that exists. But I’ve noticed that sometimes, the zeal to be a “fallacy-spotter” can tend to certain errors in logic. One of those errors I want to point out here.
In light of the upcoming election, many people have been posting their “logical” arguments for why people should vote for whoever. One of the arguments offered that I’ve seen Christians make to other Christians is: “A third-party vote or a no-vote is a vote for Obama.”
I’m not here to refute that. That’s been done. It goes like this: “Well, if a 3rd party vote is a vote for Obama, then a 3rd party vote is the same as a vote for Romney, too.”
Fallacy-spotters everywhere are quick to point out that not voting for Romney means a vote for Obama MUST mean the same thing as not voting for Obama is a vote for Romney! Therefore, everyone who says a no-vote for Romney is a vote for Obama is wrong. Now we can move and and implement our Christian Ideology on this nation by voting or not voting for whoever, because it is all the same!
Not so fast, I say. The thing that is missing from this seemingly valid, but trite argument is the fact that there are more underlying assumptions which are not being rationally dealt with. When an individual states that a no-vote or a 3rd party vote is a vote for Obama – they are revealing their underlying assumption that if the person to whom they are speaking would, under more restricted circumstances have to choose one or the other…they would choose Romney.
Do you get it? They are actually ignoring both theirs and the other person’s presuppositions. The speaker’s presupposition is that we must always vote for the perfect candidate, (or the best of ALL POSSIBLE candidates). But they are arguing from a different playing field. The “pro-vote-Romney-ite” is arguing from the position that states, “your vote can be your best choice between all the VIABLE options…and I don’t believe anyone but Romney and Obama are viable.”
Do you see it? Think about it from a popular vote standpoint (which is effectively how you ‘win’ a state in our electoral college style), if one candidate receives 48% of the vote, and the other candidate receives 47%, but it can be known that the other 5% who voted 3rd party really would’ve preferred the 47% candidate…then the logic is valid. The same is true the other way…a person who is a serious liberal, but is disappointed in Obama is effectively helping Romney win the election by voting 3rd party or a no-vote.
The point is, it isn’t illogical for someone to suppose that we live in a system where Obama or Romney will be elected president in a couple weeks – and no one else. Along with that supposition comes the valid conclusion that whichever candidate of these two you would not prefer is actually being helped by your no-vote or 3rd party vote.
Now – you may have a great reason for that. Your reason for voting the way you do may have more significance to you that keeping one or the other out of office – not that you’re correct – but you may have that sense.
I just wanted to clarify the logic – and the disingeniousness I believe I see in some posts. Logic is a wonderful tool, and can be used superficially by the untrained. But like all “big boy” tools, you need to wield it like a man or it may actually hurt you instead of be used by you to help you accomplish your task.