Beware Authority of Scholars

Christians are warned in the Bible to do their own homework and check things out for themselves. Be a Berean, as in Acts 17. Many dangers exist for those failing to perform their own research, but one of the more common arises as the “argument from authority” error, frequently used in advertising as you see a doctor promoting a car or something else (Remember the Camel ads? “What cigarette do you smoke, Doctor?” More Doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette). Obviously, a doctor doesn’t necessarily have any more expertise in automotive matters than anyone else. Advertising sometimes seeks to make a subtle connection between the two, “trust me, I’m a doctor”.

Even if someone speaks in their area of “expertise”, do they actually maintain an open mind and consider new information? Frequently not. Here’s one example of a so-called “scholar” in a debate on the existence of God, boldly proclaiming it won’t matter what evidence could be presented, it won’t make a difference. In other words, don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is made up!

I do have to tell you that if you think I’m going to change my mind because you have mathematical proof for the existence of God, I’m sorry, but it ain’t gonna happen!

Be vary careful about “argument from authority” problems. As always, check things out for yourself to be sure you’re not being misled, and don’t believe something just because a “scholar” claims it is so — many can be the most closed minded group of all, as they already have their mind made up and definitely don’t want to be confused with facts, as this “scholar” openly admits.

At least he’s honest about his bias, closed mind, and refusal to consider new information; you must be careful to avoid being trapped by someone with a PhD claiming authority when they refuse to perform proper research.

Next week we’ll detail numerous common logical errors using a typical response to an article. It’s vital for you to understand the errors so you can recognize them when they’re made, and also avoid them yourself. Discussion and debate needs to move away from cliché group-think. To do that you need to spot (and avoid using) serious logical errors.

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