My First Introduction into Logic

“Logic is the anatomy of thought.” – John Locke

So here is my introduction into how I first learned of Logic.  So there I was first day of upper-level mathematics.  MGF 3301 — Bridge to Abstract Mathematics.  I was a junior in the spring semester.  I had just finished up all my other core courses, Calculus 1,2 &3, Differential Equations, and my two physics classes.  So I was super excited about getting into the heart of mathematics.  (And to Mathematic majors, Calculus and Differential Equations are considered basic introduction classes.)

So my professor was some Russian guy.  Who always talked about drinking.  And half his analogies and stories were bar stories.   But today was the first day of the spring semester.  So the first think he wanted to teach us, was basic logic.  

He started off with what’s a proposition?  “Basically to put it simply he said it was just a statement.”  That was the basic way he explained it.  He probably put it in such simple terms because the class is only so long.

Then he went on to say that there are many ways to prove a proposition or premise false, and the thing that stuck out must to me was the idea of providing a counter example.   And all you need to prove a proposition wrong is one VALID counterexample.  No matter how true the original proposition or how true it might seem.  If the counter-example is true & valid, then the entirety of the original proposition is invalid.   

Even though this seemed so basic, there was it was so much clarity in thought in this.  

In this class I learned some of the basics of logic and more importantly I learned how to think, but the ability to think, understand, and use basic logic was the most important.

Now in my endeavors into logic and reason I have noticed one common thing.  People think that logic and reasoning is arguing.  Or that objective truth is possessed by them and themselves and that they can prove this by Stacking the Deck.  This is a common error/fallacy I see from many people.  Unfortunately this is somewhat common from Christians.

Stacking the Deck: In this fallacy, the speaker “stacks the deck” in her favor by ignoring examples that disprove the point, and listing to only those examples that support their case.

Fallacious arguments usually have the deceptive appearance of being good arguments.” -(T. Edward Damer from his book Attacking Faulty Reasoning)

I commonly see this when I get into many miniature debates with my other Christian friends and they make a proposition or a premise.  And when I make a statement or refer to a scripture that counters what they said, they ignore my stance providing more information that never ever deals with my first counter example.  If we believe something so strong, there is no need to stack the deck with scriptures and statements and ignore all the other verses in the bible.  Your proposition, belief or doctrine should be true in all situations and circumstances. 

“Logic works, metaphysics contemplates.” – Joseph Joubert

About M. Rodriguez

When I first received Christ salvation, I made it a priority to read the whole bible and I did. But it was the Bible that made me question my faith. For I found it flawed and lacking. Due to this I launched a personal inquiry/investigation into my faith, and ultimately realized that the Christian God of the Bible was indeed man-made. Now I Blog about those findings and life after Christ.
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14 Responses to My First Introduction into Logic

  1. exrelayman says:

    Another Joubert quote that I like: He who has imagination without learning has wings and no feet.

  2. Hausdorff says:

    I never really thought of proof by contradiction in this way, but how you describe it really does show its power.

    I also got my first real taste of logic at about that same time, junior year in college sounds about right for my proofs class. It’s really a shame it comes so late, we should take the core of that class and teach it in elementary school.

  3. Neil Rickert says:

    Now in my endeavors into logic and reason I have noticed one common thing. People think that logic and reasoning is arguing.

    You are right about that.

    In my experience, most ordinary language arguments are disagreements about premises or disagreements about the meanings of terms. The disagreement is rarely about the logic itself. Yet people seem to think that they are arguing logic.

  4. unklee says:

    “I never really thought of proof by contradiction in this way”

    It only works that way with universal statements. If you make the universal statement “All men are idiots”, then no matter how many men you can show me are idiots, I only have to find one who is not and I have disproved the statement.

    But if you make the statement “Some men are idiots”, it works the other way. No matter how many men I can show are not idiots, you only have to show one who is an idiot and the statement is proved.

    The most interesting is probably if you say “Most men are idiots”. Here neither of us can prove anything unless we can examine every man (or at least almost every) and count up how many are idiots and how many are not. This would obviously be practically impossible. The normal way around this is to do sampling, and extrapolate from the sample to the whole population. This doesn’t ‘prove’ or ‘disprove’ the statement, but allows us to give a probable answer with a degree of statistical precision.

    I would suggest, BR, that most of your discussions with christians are in this category – lots of facts and counter-facts, lots of opinions, and no real way to prove any viewpoint. In such matters, we can only hope to arrive at what we consider to be most probable. And we will all obviously disagree about that.

  5. stacking the deck immediately makes me think of William Lane Craig!! The debate i’ve watched with him in all have that air (amongst nearly ALL the other logical fallacies as well) but that one sums his up quite well!

  6. M. Rodriguez says:

    No denial here, I too have stacked the deck against the Judeo-Christian God, but for me it’s more like, in order to convince me, I need all these questions answered.

  7. Nate says:

    Well, I think you are confusing Christianity with the doctrine that the bible is inerrant. There are many definitions for this but it goes something like a belief that the bible is the inspired word of God and without error. There is really no historic basis for this. Also, most Christians today do not hold this doctrine to be true. I, as you may have guessed, am one of them. I will not get into why there is no reason for a Christian to believe in the doctrine of inerrancy however I will some it up like this. I look at the book of 1st Corinthians, for example, as exactly what it is. An1st century letter from an influential early Christian (In this case the apostle Paul), nothing more, nothing less. I guess the point is, I don’t think anyone ever comes to Christian faith saying that they believe in all the BS in the bible. But instead I think its more of a feeling that we are not the center of the universe and there is a God. And a moral conviction to live a moral life. I don’t believe in God because the bible says so, that’s for sure.
    That being said, I enjoyed this article and agreed with most of it. I just wanted to point out that I think you are setting up a straw man. Fundamentalists are easy targets. Christianity is so much more.

    • M. Rodriguez says:

      well, you are right christianity and inerrancy are not directly reliable upon eachother. However they are related. Most christians will say that inerrancy is not an essential doctrine, but to say that most do not hold to it is a very presumptious. Because I would say from my expierence, that most would say the autobiographical was/is inerrant. Our that Gods spoken form was inerrant and inspired. There are many scholars who would say it is inerrant….spurgeon, rc sproul, rc sproul jr, william lane craig, and JP Moreland. You can even check out the Chicago Statement of Inerracny that was put together by some 300 very respectful, knowledgeable, and creditable christian scholars. So inerrancy is far from being a fringe movement. It is very close to being mainline protestantism.

      This post itself was not specifically on the issue of inerrancy. It was on the topic of logic and basic logic. But I did want to let you know, I did do my research…..

      And I did my research on the history of inerrancy…..The Early History of Biblical Inerrancy Christin inerrancy truley took root with the early church father augustine. Go ahead and read for yourself.

      I would also recommend reading these two post…..

  8. Pingback: Reasoning with Faith, Religion, and Atheism…Reductive Reasoning (Part 4) | The BitterSweet End

  9. Pingback: What are the Different Types of Reasoning? | The BitterSweet End

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