Logic and the Message
This article is one in a series of studies on the reasoning and the Message - you are currently on the page that is in bold:
- Blind Faith
- Anti-intellectualism in the Message
- Logic and the Message
- Reason and Faith
- Reason and the Message
- How to Deal with Doubt
The rules of logic are like the rules of mathematics or physics. One plus one equals two, and a lie cannot be part of the truth. These rules follow a rational structure because God designed the universe to have a rational structure.
Likewise, a Christian does not have to suspend logic or reason to arrive at a position of faith. Rather, logic or reason are often the reason for faith. For example, Message Believers believe faithfully in a man they consider to be a vindicated prophet. But take away the proof of vindication (or the reason for faith) and faith begins to crumble.
Listed below are a number of statements that have been made about this website, each of which is an illogical attack. Most of these statements were made by ministers to keep their congregations in the dark.
"Ad hominem" in Latin literally means ‘to the person’. It is an attack not against the position that the person holds but against the person themselves
Here is an example of an ad hominem argument that was presented by a message minister:
- “You watch, its these carnal, spiritual babies, that couldn’t get the pastor to do what they wanted, it’s them that’s out there attacking the word of the hour. Don’t you lend an ear to that garbage!”
An ad hominem attack attempts to counter an opponent’s claims by attacking the character, motives, or other attributes of those on the other side of an argument or position, rather than addressing the argument itself.
The example above not only fails to address any of the issues that have been raised, but it also lumps all ex-message believers into a narrow, negative stereotype that is, by its very generality, reckless, irresponsible, and false.
Equivocation is an informal logical fallacy. It is the misleading use of a term with more than one meaning or sense (by glossing over which meaning is intended at a particular time). It generally occurs with words or phrases that have multiple meanings.
- It's so sad when people have known the truth, walked in it for years, and then they walk away from the truth.
In this case, "truth" is used to refer to William Branham's message when, in fact, whether or not the message is truth is the issue that is being disputed.
False dilemma or false dichotomy
Artificially reducing a set of possibilities to two, usually while casting one of the two in such a negative light that the “obvious” choice is the other one.
- “There, you see all of these contradictions in the Bible. I can’t explain them, can you? So are you going to throw your Bible away? If you’re going to leave the message over something like that, just go ahead and throw your Bible away.”
This is a manipulative favorite when speaking to bible-believing Christians. The pastor knows they believe the Bible and aren’t going to throw it away, therefore many will make a decision that they are also, not going to leave the message, for no reason at all! The apparent contradictions in the Bible can and have been logically explained, while many questions about the message appear to be a result of William Branham's credibility or failed prophecies.
Moving the Goalposts
The method of moving the criteria for “proof” out of the range of whatever evidence currently exists. If new evidence comes to light meeting the prior criteria, the goalpost is pushed further back. Sometimes impossible criteria are set up at the start for the purpose of denying an undesirable conclusion.
- “You weren’t there when the cloud happened, so you don’t know how it happened.”
Since we can’t go back in time and “be there”, there is no possible way to prove it didn’t happen as William Branham said, though the evidence in this particular case is so strong, you could actually argue not only for an overwhelming inductive case, but also for an empirical, deductive refutation of his claim, because of the law of non-contradiction.
- The law of non-contradiction says that no two contradictory statements can both be true at the same time and in the same sense. Now, if someone tried to deny this and said, “The law of non-contradiction is false,” he would have a problem. Without the law of non-contradiction, there is no such thing as true or false, because this law itself draws the line between true and false. All logic depends on this simple principle. Scripture very clearly affirms the law of non-contradiction:
- John 2:21 - No lie is of the truth.
- 2 Timothy 2:13 - He (God) cannot deny himself.
- Titus 1:2 - God . . . cannot lie.
- Therefore even God's Word must be in harmony with the law of non-contradiction.
While there can be truth in a lie, there can be no lie in the truth.
The Red Herring
A red herring is an issue or fact that is introduced to deliberately mislead or distract a person from the actual concern that is being questioned. A red herring is a logical fallacy that leads people towards a false conclusion. A red herring might be intentionally used as part of a rhetorical strategy (i.e. there are no real arguments against the position being put forward), or it could be inadvertently used during argumentation as a result of poor logic.
Voice of God Recordings explanation of why William Branham's failed prophecies are not important relies totally on red herring arguments:
- Are you going to forsake the entire Bible and your Christianity because you can’t make the Gospels logically agree? ...
- Do you trust what you read in the national media or worse, on private webpages, over what you hear from the prophet of God? If you do, then we would like to remind you of another story that spread throughout the country about the body of Jesus...
- This time in history is called the information age. Everything must be proven by worldly knowledge or it won’t be believed. A quick search on the internet will turn up hundreds of criticisms of the Bible, and some even question the very existence of Jesus Christ. The enemy uses the same tactics against Brother Branham by questioning everything from his commission by the Angel to the supernatural cloud, hoping something will stick.
In this case, attacks on the Bible are equated to attacks on William Branham and his message, even though they are entirely different. The problem is that each issue, all of those related to the Bible and each of those related to William Branham and his message, must be dealt with on their own merits. As a result, the issues relating to William Branham - the accuracy of his prophecies, his credibility and whether his teachings are in agreement with scripture - must be looked at independently and not confused or tied to the completely unrelated issue of Biblical accuracy. We dealt with the so-called "biblical inaccuracies" in another article and show that they are not what Voice of God Recordings stated that they were.
Reductio ad absurdum
Reducing the premise in an argument so that it leads to an absurd conclusion.
- “You don’t believe it because you didn’t see it? Well, in that case, you don’t have proof that you have a brain, and certainly don’t have proof that there is a God!”
The premise has been artificially reduced to ‘you don’t believe because you didn’t see it’. In reality there is a mountain of inductive evidence for the existence of your brain and God, and a mountain of inductive evidence to refute many message claims.
Argues that to accept A means that you must accept B, or Z, or some other extreme.
- “You go clicking around on them websites and listening to the devil’s lies, you might just find yourself being an enemy of God, stuck with no way back.”
Do I really have to explain why this is stupid? Which fallacy do I address first, the illogical connection between looking at a website and being an enemy of God, or the assertion that a website contains the “devil’s lies” without a single shred of evidence to back up such a monstrous claim?
The basic form of a strawman argument is:
- Person 1 holds a specific belief.
- Person 2 restates person 1’s position in a distorted way.
- Person 2 attacks the distorted version of Person 1's belief.
- Therefore, Person 1's belief is false.
Person 2 attempts to argue against a belief by attacking a different position than the one his opponent actually holds - one that is easier to refute.
An example of a person defending the message against criticisms raised on this website:
- “These people attacking the message would have you believe that you should go back to the harlot… back to the denominational slop you came out of.”
This is not the position of any message critic that I am aware of. The truth is simply that people in the message are following a false prophet and therefore are in error. Where they go when and if they leave the message is a matter of prayerful consideration, and is inherently individual. By the way, equating all churches with harlots and slop for the simple fact that they belong to a denomination is also fallacious - in case common sense didn’t kick in automatically, as it should.
Some examples of specific straw man arguments that we have encountered:
- Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, Come, Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990), 16.
- Voice of God Recordings, Catch the Vision update, 2012, Vol. 2