We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I have been truant with our Fallacies for a while, but I figure I do them as much for myself as for our readers.
By posing, or implying, a false dilemma, you put the other guy off balance for a moment. Like most fallacies, it works because we, in the Western World, tend to give the other guy the benefit of the doubt and to assume his logical integrity. Wrong! He just might be working an agenda.
Always watch out for "either A or B" arguments. Examples:
1. A classic: "If the glove don't fit, you must acquit." Why? Aren't there other considerations? What if they weren't the same gloves? What if they shrunk from the blood? What if he didn't care whether they were a nice fit or not? He got the jury going, though - and the rhyme helped.
2. "You believe in choice? What are you, some sort of baby-killer?" You see how false dilemmas give the illusion of a sharply-divided reality. What can you say? "No, wait - I never killed a baby..." and you are on the defensive right away.
3. A famous Christian one: "Either Christ was the son of God, or he was a con-man or a loony." I worship Him, but not because of this false dilemma.
4. "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." This false dilemma tugs at one's guilt a little, until you see the trick that is being pulled. After all, what if there is nothing meaningful I can do about it? Or what if I don't care? Or what if I think it's a minor problem? Or what if managing my own life is all I can handle? Or what if saving the world just isn't my bag?
Image: The late, great defence lawyer Johnny Cochran.
I agree with most of your examples of false dilemmas, but the third one I would not consider a false dilemma. This would be a true dilemma. You may not worship Him because of this dilemma, but you would have to of made a choise of the three options available. You chose Son of God .This is the variation on C.S Lewis's liar, Lord, lunatic dilemma. In the process of deciding who Jesus is,you have to make a decission , consciously or not, who He is.
I know what you mean. However, there are many more possiblilities than Lord, liar, or lunatic. That's my point. I will take Him as Lord, but rational people can argue that he was a prophet and, as He said, the Son of Man.
Agree. You can also just surrender to the mystery, and love the humane message, love the worship, believe deeply in the value of the Christian message that we are all equal before God, and just accept that you will likely never be able to comprehend the Ressurection.
I think the whole Point of Lewis' delimna was exactly that you cannot take Him other then as the Christ, or a fraud or crazy, because as Lewis argues, He did not give any other options...prophet, moral teacher, really really super nice guy were/are not options based on His statements/claims.
I agree with Sean, this example does not fit the others.
I love CS Lewis. And Jesus. But never forget what a crafty debater Jesus was. When the smart guys tried to take him on, they always went down in defeat - which I believe must have added to their animus towards Him. I would not put it past Him to pose a tricky dilemma - as he did frequently in scripture.
He did essentially say that he was the Messiah, and that the Father can only be reached through the Son.
Anyhow, happy to disagree about the dilemma. I admit I included it to add to discussion and to be a bit provocative. The CS Lewis statement always seemed too clever by half for me, and, with 100 reasons to accept Christ, unnecessary. Nevertheless, it is used all the time.
If a thoughtful person decides that Jesus is a prophet then he would relegate Jesus to the liar category. Jesus claimed he was one with the Father and that He was the Christ. Whatever your decision about who Jesus is, it should fall into one of the catagories of liar, Lord, or lunatic. That is why I think it is a true dilemma.
He is both Lord and friend to me. Maybe it is a true dilemma. I thought about such things a lot years ago, but as I came to know Him, and as His role in my life grew, I gradually dismissed a lot of the logic stuff and found real faith and transformation in the relationship.
If I was in error to include it, at least I got you to comment! Please visit and comment often!
The most important thing is that you know Him. I am a doubting Thomas, I need evidence beyond a reasonable doubt in my mind and heart. That is why I like to read Francis Schaffer and C S Lewis. I find it hard to make a blind leap of faith although I love the fact that others can. The important thing is that we get there regardless of how. Love this website.
It's no leap. There is no fall. There is no gravity.
All of my hesitation was intellectual vanity, with pure self-importance at its core.
You just open the door. He is out there, standing in the cold, knocking patiently - a beggar of love, a tramp with a gift. Just let Him in the door; give Him a chance with your heart, and see what happens. It's an adventure: the best there is. (Sorry for the preaching.)