The McFly Fallacy

In the classic film, Back To the Future, Marty McFly walks into Lou’s cafe and orders a Pepsi Free. Two aspects of this make me laugh. First, the brand “Pepsi Free” is a caffeine-free relic from the 80’s that lasted just 5 years (1982-87). Second, Marty, a time-traveler from 1985, was ordering in 1955. The guy behind the counter, clearly confused, replied, “You want a Pepsi, pal, you’re gonna pay for it.” This is an anachronism, which is “a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other.” Sometimes, anachronisms make us laugh or entertain us, as with the Society for … Continue reading The McFly Fallacy

Choosing Our Beliefs?

I often hear people talk about what you “choose to believe,” or saying “I choose to believe” such and such. It typically happens in religious or political conversations. People say these things when they think you’re wrong about something, or sometimes when you present evidence against their view and they retreat into “that’s just my opinion” territory. It’s kind of a conversation stopper. As if, once a person has “chosen” certain beliefs, that’s the end of the matter. But can we even choose our beliefs? I don’t think that’s how it happens. There are some beliefs we simply cannot choose … Continue reading Choosing Our Beliefs?

Lotteries and the Limits of Rationality

I’ve played the lottery once in my life. I was living in California, and a friend thought it would be fun if we all bought a ticket for the next drawing. And guess what? I didn’t win. This came as no surprise, because I expected not to win. In fact, any rational person who buys a lottery ticket should believe that her ticket is a loser. But oddly, this rational belief leads us into believing a contradiction. Maybe this tells us something about the limits of rationality. Winner, Winner? Here’s principle of rationality #1:If something is 99.99% probable to be … Continue reading Lotteries and the Limits of Rationality

Faith, Reason, and the Spirit, Part 2

Last week, I critiqued an excerpt from Joyce Meyer’s book, Battlefield of the Mind. I considered this important because Meyer’s misguided and self-contradicting attitude (“reasoning is dangerous”) likely represents a large swath of the Christian community. Why bother to write about it? Because I believe that this mindset is harmful–both to society in general, and to the Church. But rather than focusing on the harms as reasons to reject Meyer’s view, I will focus chiefly on the fact that being anti-reason is thoroughly unbiblical. That approach provides more persuasive power among Christians. Reason In the Bible Aside from the numerous passages … Continue reading Faith, Reason, and the Spirit, Part 2