the logical fallacy

Before I left Fort Wayne and because I feel the need to pretend to be somewhat cultured now and then, I went to a lecture at IPFW entitled “The Constitution in the Age of Obama.” Dr. Clark Butler from IUPU spoke on a bunch of philosophical things that I couldn’t follow. I think, from the twelve words I actually understood, that he wanted Congress to make charity into a law and that he believes mankind doesn’t really have human rights.

I think.

Don’t press me on this. 

Half the words he used were out of my pay grade.

And dictionary.

Notre Dame law professor Dr. Charles Rice spoke next on natural law as it’s understood by Thomas Aquinas and why it’s foundational to society and culture.  He was funny. He has ten kids. He’s a Lt. Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve. He was one of the good old boys you can’t help but like. I wanted him to convert to Lutheranism and be on our side. 

I was surprised at the crowd. They were generally older, in their 70s. But there were a lot of middle-class, 45-year-olds there too. And they were noisy in their agreement with Dr. Rice. Even though it was a symposium where Dr. Butler, Dr. Rice, a lawyer from Fort Wayne, and a Catholic priest were bantering back and forth with different philosophical and theological views, there were lots of Baptist “Amen”s and “Yes, sir”s, and “That’s right”s. NRA leather jackets were also in abundance.

Tell me it’s not impressive that health care, human rights, civil dissent, and biblical exegesis could draw that varied of a crowd.

Just tell me.

But the best part of the night, and perhaps the one that continues to stand out in my mind most vividly, was a 30-second dialogue started by Dr. Rice.

He picked a couple of college kids out of the audience and began to converse with them. It was evident within moments that they were pro-choice, and both were intent on convincing this seasoned scholar that his way of thinking was out of date, archaic and just plain dusty. 

What happened next was nothing short of faithful . . . and brilliant.

Rice: You there. What do you drive?

Joe: A Toyota.

Rice to another student: Ok, what would you say if you saw your friend Joe at the gas station getting ready to pour a can of water into his car?

Student: I’d encourage him not to.

Rice: No, you wouldn’t. You say, ‘Hey, stupid. Look in the glove compartment. The owner’s manual says to only put gasoline in the car.’ But Joe says, ‘I’ll put water in my car if I want to. It’s my car. I bought it. I can do what I want with it.’ So he puts water in his car despite what his friends and his owner’s manual and his mechanic tell him. So . . . what is Joe now?

Student: Ummm . . .

Rice: I’ll tell you what Joe is. Joe is liberated. . . . He is pro-choice. . . . . And he is now a pedestrian.

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5 thoughts on “the logical fallacy

  1. We spent a weekend in Ft Wayne last October, and stayed 2 nights at a B&B operated by Dr Butler and his wife. They were quite kind, but nearly one entire bookshelf in the library/reading room was filled with books by or about Hegel. I took the opportunity to read Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air, which was also in the library.

  2. I was also at that talk, and got a similar impression. Unfortunately, I missed that dialog.

    Later on, I had Dr. Butler teaching one of my philosophy courses at IPFW for a few weeks. He is more religiously Hegelian than anyone I’ve ever encountered–easily as religious as any of my Seminary professors. It was a stark reminder that it’s not a matter of whether religion will influence our politics–it’s just a matter of which religion will influence our politics.

  3. Remind me sometime to tell you the joke about two guys who visited college and the one that learned about “logic.” Also, your writing is always good, but your photography is really good too. This little article would’ve been better with some pictures…

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