A child’s use of logic

My wife gave my daughter a chore. After several minutes my daughter came down from her room to negotiate with my wife.

“You need to come and help me do my job.” (I should mention that she has a difficult time completing chores unless she gets a LOT of help).

She continued before my wife had a chance to respond.

“You cannot just tell me what I’m supposed to do without helping me do it. That’s like the evil step-mother in Cinderella. You need to help me.”

I had a tough time containing my laughter as I overheard this, but it reminded me that logic and reason are not some kind of social construct that gets imposed on humanity as we grow up, but they are tools inherent to the human thought process. If I were to take her reasoning and spell it out slightly more formally it might look like this.

  1. You gave me instructions for chores that I am required to do, but you have not offered to help.
  2. Cinderella’s step-mother gave Cinderella instructions for chores that she was required to do, but Cinderella’s step-mother did not offer to help.
  3. What Cinderella’s step-mother did was wrong, therefore,
  4. What you did was wrong.

It’s a classic argument from analogy. Of course, there’s more to the equation than her simplistic Disney-inspired interpretation of the facts, but I’m actually quite proud of her for eloquently articulating her perspective, and providing reasons for it. She negotiated well for her age.

And I enjoyed getting a good chuckle out of her negotiation tactics. Oh, the innocence of children…

Objectifying people

Here’s a great little article reminding us not to treat other people as objects or projects, even if we are pursuing the noble ambition of introducing them to Truth. Always engage in honest dialogue and value them for who they are, not what they believe (or disbelieve).


How Should Christians Respond to Atheist Friends?

Not too dissimilar to the book review I recently did (How to talk to a Skeptic) is this brief article on how to interact with Atheists.


As with any good advice on interacting with a particular group, a lot of the comments could apply equally well to talking with just about anybody you don’t see eye to eye with. Even if you are talking about something as seemingly unimportant and unspiritual as which bus route gets you to your destination, points 1 and 3 still apply, for instance.

(H/T to Poached Egg)

Critical Thinking videos

In Arguing with Friends I describe the importance of refining our critical thinking skills. Logic sounds boring until you have a better idea of what it’s about and how astoundingly useful it can be. Here’s a link to six videos introducing logic and explaining its usefulness. Take a gander.


[By the way, some of what they say about science in later videos unfortunately borders on illogical based on what they had said previous to their comments on science. Just food for thought, the videos are still really good.]

How to talk to a Skeptic – book review

[I have written two blog entries on this book, the other at the WhyJesus blog. I look at this book from two perspectives in these two reviews.]

When I set out to write Arguing with Friends I made a decision that I second-guessed a lot. In fact, other people also questioned the wisdom of my decision. I wasn’t sure whether to merely focus on the “how” of having these kind of major worldview conversations, or whether to also include some basic data that a Christian can bring to the conversation. In other words, to what extent should I include some of the defence of the faith stuff – arguments for God’s existence, historical defence of the reliability of the Bible and so on – and to what extent should I just explain the difference between conversations you can be proud of and conversations you wish you could redo? I did end up outlining the various subjects that were likely to come up and where the reader could get more info, but I did not provide any answers or any data beyond some resources the reader could look up.

Donald J. Johnson’s book “How to Talk to a Skeptic” looks a bit like what I imagine mine might have looked like if I had spent more time on the subject of defining and defending the faith. Continue reading