Can’t Argue With That: Rules and Regulations of Logical Reasoning
(Yawn.) Wait, don’t fall asleep! This is riveting stuff, right here!
Anthony Weston’s book A Rulebook for Arguments is a concise overview to the art of making arguments and the critical aspects of logical reasoning. This succinct book is organized into forty-five specific rules with each rule illustrated and briefly explained.
Informed But Fictional
In Weston’s second chapter, he talks about generalizations. As an example, He purposes that women of earlier times were married very young. He then substantiates that claim with three examples: Juliet in William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” Jewish women during the Middle Ages, and Roman women during the Roman Empire. I find it interesting that Weston uses a fictional character from a popular play as one of those three sources. By that standard, I could make the generalization that if the families of young couples object to their relationship, the relationship could end with poison and a dagger. Weston’s fourteenth rule is “Seek informed sources” wherein He states “Sources must be qualified to make the statements they make.” Juliet is as qualified as Mickey Mouse to speak on the topic of average marital ages throughout history because both are imaginary characters and therefore have no authority.
A possible remedy to this dilemma could be to cite William Shakespeare, himself, as a source. After all, He was married at the reasonably young age of eighteen and “was under the age of consent that (therefore) his father would have had to agree to the marriage.” Also, he was not fictional. Few would argue that Shakespeare is more qualified than a figment of said author’s imagination.
Poisoning My Own Well
Of course the more you delve into the art of making arguments, the stickier the terrain seems to get. For instance, by me saying that few would argue with my last point, I have violated one of the rules for a valid argument by committing a common fallacy. According to Weston, I have “poisoned the well” by using loaded language. I have slyly manipulated your view of my position by playing on your need to fit in with common thinking. If you were to disagree with my statement, you would also be acknowledging that your position is now with the minority and therefore, most likely, incorrect.
The photo on the cover of Weston’s book captures the idea of arguments perfectly. It shows skillfully stacked rocks. One can only imagine the skill involved to allow those rocks to so perfectly remain balanced. If one of those rocks would be too heavy or not big enough, the whole thing would tumble. The stack would fall apart. Arguments require that kind of precision and balance or else, they too, would fall apart.
Let us apply Weston’s discipline to the theory of evolution. It seems that evolutionists make grand leaps in their faith in science yet scoff condescendingly at the faith Christians put in creation. There is a big difference between micro-evolution and macro-evolution. Micro-evolution is simply “a change in gene frequency within a poplulation.” For example, if a pesticide is introduced to a species, the following generation could adapt to the pesticide and become immune. This is wholly within the realm of possibility. Macro-evolution refers to “evolution above the species level.” For example, a chicken eventually turning into a rhino. This is, of course, wholly outside the realm of possiblity. Somehow, evolutionists get away with this fatal mistake. It seems Christians could learn a thing or too about faith from evolutionists.
The teleological argument is an argument for the existence of God based on perceived evidence of deliberate design in the natural or physical world. Weston’s rule 16 of Cross-check sources and the Teleological argument/analogy of God to a house is laughable.
A Dirty Joke
In fact, I heard a joke once where a man challenged God on the beauty of his (the man’s) garden. The man was proud at the wonderful vegetables he had grown. God reminded the man that it was actually He that allowed the man’s tomatoes to grow so plump. This angered the man for he toiled long hours in that garden. Indeed, his back was still aching from bending and pulling out all the weeds. The man argued that he was responsible for the garden’s success. He tilled the land, added water, and kept the deer away. God smiled and said, “Fine, let’s have a contest to see who can grow the best garden.” The man readily agreed and began to dig in the dirt to plant his first seed. “Ah, ah, ah!” said God. “Make your own dirt.”
God is the absolute creator. He even created the raw materials from which something could be built.” A point one should not be so hasty to forget. He is the only thing in existence that has not been created. God always was, always is, and always will be. Every single other thing in the known universe has been created… and all created by God. It all points back to a singular beautiful source! And we get the privilege to call that source Father!
 Anthony Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments (Hackett Student Handbooks), 4th ed. (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2008), 10.
 Ibid., 24.
 Linda K. Alchin, “William Shakespeare info (the Complete Works online),” November 16, 2010, accessed April 01, 2015, http://www.william-shakespeare.info/william-shakespeare-biography-marriage-wife-anne-hathaway.html.
 Weston, 78.
 Roy Caldwell, “Understanding Evolution,” University of California Museum of Paleontology, accessed April 2, 20015, http://www.evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/evoscales_01.
Weston, Anthony. A Rulebook for Arguments (Hackett Student Handbooks). 4th ed. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2008.
Submitted to Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of the course SEMI 500.