| || |The Berean Expositor
Volume 22 - Page 198 of 214 Index | Zoom | |
be somewhat fragmentary and the range limited, they may be of service in quickening the
reader's interest in this important matter.
Ability correctly to answer the question, What constitutes a valid argument? will
confer a double blessing, viz., it will provide us with the means whereby we shall be able
to appreciate more clearly the divine arguments of the Scriptures, and it will enable us to
appraise the truth and detect the errors and fallacies in the arguments presented in the
teaching of others.
Upon the ground of the all-sufficiency of faith, some object to the attempt to analyze
the processes of correct thinking, while others refuse an analysis of logical processes
upon the ground that common sense is sufficient. Archbishop Whately says:--
"The generality have a strong predilection in favour of common sense, except in those
points in which they, respectively, possess the knowledge of a system of rules: but in
these points they deride anyone who trusts unaided common sense. A sailor, e.g., will
perhaps despise the `pretensions' of medical men, and prefer treating a disease by
`common sense'; but he would ridicule the proposal of navigating a ship by common
sense, without regard to the maxims of nautical art."
Logic is the name given to the science of reasoning. It displays the principles on
which argument is conducted, and tabulates certain rules which are derived from these
principles, so that we shall be guided into the truth, and guarded from error.
The objection to logic as being unserviceable in the discovery of truth may hold good
in the realm of natural science, but it is not valid in the realm of scriptural revelation. In
that realm we do not set out to discover truth by processes of reasoning, but, on the
contrary, believe that in the Scriptures we already posses a complete revelation, and that
we can and should use every legitimate means to arrive at the right understanding of that
revelation, and to test all that professes to be an exposition of its teaching.
Another superficial objection to logic is that in the hands of the unscrupulous the very
processes of true reasoning can apparently be made to lead to false conclusions. But this
is no fault of logic: in such a case, clearly, error has crept into one or both of the
premises, and the process is no more an objection to the true place of logic than the fact
that certain calculations based on the assumption that nineteen, and not twenty, shillings
made a pound, had produced a false answer, would be an objection to arithmetic.
Changing the figure, we must first of all secure a correct translation, then, granted that
our terms are unambiguous, and our premises true, the conclusion is as inevitable as is
the conclusion of an arithmetical sum.
Neither in the Scriptures, nor in conversation, are arguments always stated at full
length, but it is safe to say that every valid argument may be expressed in that form
known since the days of Aristotle as the syllogism. The term "argument" is used
popularly in a somewhat wider sense than is intended in logic, but strictly speaking every
argument consists of two parts, viz., that which is proved, and the means whereby it is