The Swoon Theory is a THEORY (duh!) not an ARGUMENT

The Swoon Theory is a THEORY (duh!) not an ARGUMENT August 19, 2019

WHAT IS THE SWOON THEORY?

Here are some things that The Swoon Theory is NOT:

  • it is NOT a flavor of ice cream
  • it is NOT a board game
  • it is NOT an exotic pet
  • it is NOT a poisonous insecticide
  • it is NOT a sexual position
  • it is NOT a type of aircraft
  • it is NOT a kind of virus or microorganism
  • it is NOT an astronomical body
  • it is NOT a color or shape

Obviously, there a millions of different kinds of things that are NOT The Swoon Theory.

Obviously, The Swoon Theory is some sort of intellectual thing, an IDEA of some kind.

Even the very muddled and confused Joe Hinman understands that The Swoon Theory is some sort of IDEA or intellectual kind of thing.

 

HINMAN IS NOT INTELLECTUALLY CAPABLE OF EDUCATING OTHERS ABOUT THE SWOON THEORY

Colorless green ideas sleep furiously is a sentence composed by Noam Chomsky in his 1957 book Syntactic Structures as an example of a sentence that is grammatically correct, but semantically nonsensical. (Wikipedia article “Colorless green ideas…”)

But knowing that The Swoon Theory is an IDEA of some kind is a rather VAGUE bit of information.  This information is not enough to make one intellectually capable of educating others about The Swoon Theory.  So, although Joe Hinman understands that The Swoon Theory is some kind of IDEA or intellectual thing, that is NOT enough to make him qualified to educate others about The Swoon Theory.  In fact, Hinman is NOT intellectually qualified to educate others about The Swoon Theory, because he doesn’t understand what sort of thing The Swoon Theory is.

Hinman recently published a post criticizing my posts about Kreeft’s attempt to refute The Swoon Theory.  When I read the first paragraph of Hinman’s post, I knew immediately that he was writing about things that he did NOT understand:

Let’s go back to bread and butter apologetic. The resurrection debate. One of the most hackney and ridiculous arguments is the “swoon theory” the kind of thing that was big among 19th century liberals who were trying to naturalize the Gospel. Nineteenth century atheists ate that stuff up, and late 20th century internet atheists dug it up and tired to make it live again. The swoon theory says that Jesus didn’t die on the cross he was just unconscious and latter taken away by followers, This argumemt [sic] is answered  efficiently (if not unnecessarily) Peter Kreeft.  The argument is defended from Kreeft’s refutation by the wise old vetran [sic] of the message board apologetic wars,  that champion of reason Bradley “literally right” Bowen, in his magnum opus in 32 parts, Here we will examine  Defending the Swoon Theory – Part 7: The “Break their Legs” Objection  (july 2019 Bradley Bowen)… [emphasis added]

In the very first paragraph of his post, Hinman refers to The Swoon Theory as an “argument” no less that three times.  But The Swoon Theory is a THEORY, and it is NOT an ARGUMENT.

Furthermore, it is OBVIOUS to me, and to every major Christian philosopher and Christian apologist that The Swoon Theory is a THEORY and that it is NOT an ARGUMENT.  So, Joe not only FAILS to understand what sort of thing The Swoon Theory is, but he is virtually ALONE among Christian thinkers in FAILING to understand this BASIC and OBVIOUS point about the nature of The Swoon Theory.

So, when I read the above first paragraph of his post, I concluded that Hinman is NOT intellectually capable of educating anyone about The Swoon Theory:

1. Anyone who does NOT understand that the Swoon Theory is a THEORY is NOT intellectually capable of educating others about The Swoon Theory.

2. Hinman does NOT understand that the Swoon Theory is a THEORY.

THEREFORE:

3. Hinman is NOT intellectually capable of educating others about The Swoon Theory.

If you read any more than the first paragraph of Hinman’s post, you will be wasting your time reading intellectual garbage from a very confused and muddled thinker.

I pointed out this problem to Mr. Hinman, but he was not in any way willing to admit his serious category mistake.  If Hinman were intellectually competent to discuss this subject, he would have replied to my objection something like this:

You are correct that The Swoon Theory is a THEORY and that it is NOT an argument.  I was very tired and hungry when I wrote that paragraph, so my brain was not fully functional at the time.  Having gotten some rest and something to eat, my brain is now more functional, and I see that I made a significant blunder in that first paragraph, by wrongly characterizing The Swoon Theory as an “argument”.  It is clearly NOT an argument, so I have edited and revised that paragraph to remove my mistaken characterization of The Swoon Theory.  Thank you for pointing out my mistake.

No such honest and intelligent response came from Hinman.  Instead, he doubled down on his idiotic error.  Here is my challenge and Hinman’s response:

Bradley Bowen said:

You mischaracterize the topic here. The swoon theory is a THEORY, not an argument.

Arguments can be given FOR the swoon theory, and arguments can be given AGAINST the swoon theory, but the subject here is a THEORY, not an argument.

Joe Hinman said:

Is the swoon theory a theory? Isn’t that a misnomer? Perhaps it should be swoon argument to the passover plot theory,?

So, even after I clearly point out his category mistake,  Joe continues to insist on the idiotic notion that The Swoon Theory is an ARGUMENT.  Not only does Joe FAIL to understand the basic nature of the thing he is writing about (i.e. The Swoon Theory), but he clings to his erroneous understanding even after his error is clearly pointed out.  He is not merely ignorant, he is willfully and hopelessly ignorant.  For this reason, he is clearly NOT intellectually capable of educating anyone about The Swoon Theory.

When I pointed out to Joe that virtually every major Christian philosopher and Christian apologist calls The Swoon Theory a “theory” or an “hypothesis”, and that no major Christian philosopher or Christian apologist refers to The Swoon Theory as an “argument”, Joe simply dug in his heels and clung tightly to his ignorance:

I really don’t give a shit what apologists call it or wht[sic] you call it…

Now that is stubborn ignorance!  Don’t confuse Joe with the facts, his mind is made up.

Not only does Hinman wrongly characterize The Swoon Theory as being an ARGUMENT, but he is also very confused about what it means for something to be an ARGUMENT.  In other words, based on what Hinman says on this issue, it is clear that he does not understand the distinction between an ARGUMENT and a THEORY.

If he does not understand this distinction, then that is ANOTHER reason showing that he is NOT intellectually capable of educating others about The Swoon Theory.  Even if he changed his tune, and began to characterize The Swoon Theory as a THEORY, this would not show that he understood what kind of thing The Swoon Theory is.  He might still retain his UNCLEAR and MUDDLED understanding of what it means for something to be a THEORY:

4. Anyone who does NOT understand the distinction betwen a THEORY and an ARGUMENT is NOT intellectually capable of educating others about The Swoon Theory.

5. Hinman does NOT understand the distinction betwen a THEORY and an ARGUMENT.

THEREFORE:

3. Hinman is NOT intellectually capable of educating others about The Swoon Theory.

Clearly, in his post, Hinman was arguing against The Swoon Theory.  That is, he was arguing that The Swoon Theory is FALSE.  There is nothing wrong about arguing that a particular theory is FALSE.  But according to Hinman, he was not arguing that a THEORY was FALSE, but rather that an ARGUMENT was FALSE.  That, however, is a bush-league error in his thinking.

One of the first things taught in an introductory course in Logic or Critical Thinking is how to identify an ARGUMENT and to distinguish arguments from other sorts of things (like theories).  Part of learning to understand what an ARGUMENT is, is learning that ARGUMENTS are not TRUE or FALSE.   Claims and theories can be TRUE or FALSE, but not ARGUMENTS!  This is a very basic concept of Logic and Critical Thinking.

So, if Hinman believes that The Swoon Theory is an ARGUMENT and he also believes that The Swoon Theory is FALSE, then he clearly believes that ARGUMENTS can be FALSE.  But this is a basic error about the nature of ARGUMENTS.  So, Hinman is confused about what an ARGUMENT is, and about what a THEORY is, and so it is no wonder that he mistakenly characterizes The Swoon Theory as being an ARGUMENT.  His thinking is so UNCLEAR and CONFUSED that he fails to see any difference between ARGUMENTS and THEORIES.

Just to make sure I understood his thinking correctly,  I posed a very simple question to Hinman:

IS THE SWOON THEORY FALSE?

His response confirmed my suspicion:

are you that stupid? it should be obvious as hell L[sic] think its false my article clearly said so

It was indeed obvious, but I wanted to have Hinman himself clearly verify that the idiotic view that I believed him to hold was indeed his view:

The Swoon Theory is a FALSE ARGUMENT. 

This shows clearly that Hinman does NOT understand what an argument is, and thus he does NOT understand the distinction between an ARGUMENT and a THEORY.  One of the most obvious and basic differences between a THEORY and and ARGUMENT, is that a THEORY can be true or false, but an ARGUMENT cannot be true or false.

It is pretty easy to see that an ARGUMENT cannot be true or false, if you think a little about some simple examples of ARGUMENTS.

6. Some dogs have fleas.

THEREFORE:

7. Snow is white.

The above argument is clearly a BAD argument, but the premise (6) is TRUE, and the conclusion (7) is also TRUE.  So, should our evaluation of this argument be that it is a “TRUE ARGUMENT”?  That doesn’t seem right!

8. No dogs have fleas.

THEREFORE:

7. Snow is white.

This argument is also clearly a BAD argument, but the premise (8) is FALSE, while the conclusion (7) is TRUE.  So, should we say that this is a “TRUE ARGUMENT” or a “FALSE ARGUMENT”?  Neither evaluation seems to fit right.  But it also seems unhelpful and confusing to say that this argument is both “TRUE and FALSE”.

9.  All dogs have fleas.

THEREFORE:

6. Some dogs have fleas.

This argument also contains a mixture of truth and falsehood.  Premise (9) is clearly FALSE, but the conclusion (6) is clearly TRUE.  Furthermore, although the premise of this argument is FALSE, it is in some way a better argument than the preceding two arguments, because the premise is RELEVANT to the conclusion.  In fact, if premise (9) were true, then that would prove the conclusion to be true (that at least some dogs have fleas, assuming that there is at least one dog).  But again, it seems confused and misleading to simply evaluate this as being a “TRUE ARGUMENT” or as being a “FALSE ARGUMENT”.

We could go through many more examples, but these three simple examples should be enough to cast serious doubt on the whole idea of evaluating arguments as being TRUE or FALSE.  The CLAIMS that make up arguments can be evaluated as TRUE or FALSE, but the ARGUMENT in which those claims appear is something more than just that set of claims.  An argument contains some LOGIC or INFERENCE in addition to the claims in the argument.  The LOGIC of an argument connects some claims to other claims, the premises to the conclusion.

That is why one of the first things you learn in a Logic or Critical Thinking course is that arguments are evaluated as “valid” or “invalid” as “sound” or “unsound” as “cogent” or “not cogent” but arguments are NOT evaluated as TRUE or FALSE.  A theory can be TRUE or FALSE, but an ARGUMENT cannot be TRUE or FALSE.

Thus, when Hinman indicates that his view is that The Swoon Theory is a FALSE ARGUMENT, he clearly demonstrates that he does not understand what an ARGUMENT is, and that he does not understand the distinction between a THEORY and an ARGUMENT.

 

HINMAN IS VIRTUALLY ALONE IN VIEWING THE SWOON THEORY AS AN ARGUMENT

  • Matt Slick of CARM uses the label “The Swoon Theory” and he also refers to this idea as “the theory that…”.
  • Dr. Peter Kreeft uses the label “The Swoon Theory” and refers to it as one of “five possible theories”.
    (Note that Kreeft never uses the term “The Swoon Argument” in his Handbook of Christian Apologetics)
  • Sheri Bell from the Josh McDowell Ministry uses the label “The Swoon Theory” and she refers to this idea as “this theory”.
  • Ken Boa uses the label “Swoon Theory” and that he refers to it as being a “theory”.

Other Christian Philosophers and Apologists use the same or similar language:

  • Dr. William Craig prefers the label “Apparent Death Theory” and he refers to this idea as “this theory” and as “a theory” in The Son Rises (p.36 and 40). Craig does NOT refer to this idea as an “argument”, at least not in that book.
  • Richard Swinburne does not use any label, but in his book The Resurrection of God Incarnate he does refer to this view as being one of various “Rival Theories” and as being a “theory” (p.174 and 175).  He does NOT refer to this idea as an “argument”.
  • Dr. Gary Habermas and Dr. Michael Licona in their book The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, use the labels “Apparent Death Theory” and “the swoon theory” (p.99-103), and they refer to it as a “theory” (p.81 and 103), and they never refer to this idea as an “argument”.
  • Frank Turek and Dr. Norman Geisler use the labels “Swoon or Apparent Death Theory” and “the swoon theory” in their book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (p.304, 305, and 306). They refer to this idea as “this theory” (p.304) and as being one of a number of “Skeptical Theories” (p.301) or as an “alternative theory” (p.305). They do NOT use the label “the swoon argument” nor the label “the Apparent Death argument”, and they do NOT refer to this idea as being an “argument”.
  • Dr. Ronald Nash uses the label “the swoon theory” in his book Faith & Reason (p.268), and he refers to this idea as a “theory” (p.268), but does not refer to it as an “argument”.
  • Josh McDowell prefers the label “Resuscitation Theory” but notes that it is called the “swoon theory”, and he refers to this idea as “this theory” and “this hypothesis” in The Resurrection Factor (p.98). He does NOT refer to this idea as the “Resuscitation Argument” nor as the “Swoon Argument”.
  • Hank Nanegraaff uses the label “the swoon theory” in his book Resurrection (p.20-22), and he quotes Habermas as referring to this idea as “this theory” (p.21), and he does NOT refer to this idea as an “argument”.
  • Lee Strobel uses the label “the swoon hypothesis” and “the swoon theory” in The Case for Christ (p.192, 193, and 202). Strobel does NOT use the label “the swoon argument”, nor does he refer to this idea as an “argument”.

I don’t know of ANY major Christian Apologist who refers to this idea as being an “argument” or who uses the label “The Swoon Argument” or “The Apparent Death Argument”.  Joe Hinman appears to be ALONE in calling “The Swoon Theory” the “Swoon Argument” and in referring to this idea as being an “argument”.  This is because all of these Christian thinkers understand the difference between a THEORY and an ARGUMENT, but Hinman does NOT have this basic understanding.

 

THE IDEA THAT ARGUMENTS ARE NEITHER TRUE NOR FALSE IS A BASIC CONCEPT OF LOGIC

 1. An argument is a set of statements including premise(s) and conclusion(s). An argument is not the same as an assertion and is not identical to its conclusion. Arguments are not true or false. One appraises the truth and falsity of their premises and conclusions and the logical relation between their premise(s) and conclusion(s).
First Steps in Formal Logic 2
Arguments: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Remember: propositions (premises, conclusions) are true or false; but arguments are not true or false. Rather, they are valid, invalid, sound, or unsound.  (p.4)
Common Misconceptions
Arguments are not “true” or “false”. Sentences can be true or false.
Arguments can only be valid/invalid, or sound/unsound. (p.1)
Truth and validity are two concepts that are as different from each other as football is from origami. Truth and validity are not the same. You should never, ever, confuse the two—especially on the LSAT.

Truth is a property of sentences (or to be more precise, declarative statements). I think we all know the definition of truth and yes, it’s what you think. For a statement like “all dogs go to heaven,” it’s true if all dogs go to heaven. It’s false when it’s not the case that all dogs go to heaven. False statements are sometimes called lies.

Let’s bring the distinction home. Validity is a property of arguments. Validity is not a property of statements. Truth is a property of statements. Truth is not a property of arguments. What does this mean? Try thinking about this example. I think we all know that we can’t say about the number “2″ that it’s happy. Why? Because it just doesn’t make sense. Why? Because emotional states are not properties of numbers. Analogously, you can’t say about an argument that it’s true or false. Simply because truth isn’t a property of arguments.

Section 1.3 and 1.4: Deductive and Inductive Arguments

You should make an effort to understand some critical distinctions found in section 1.4. of your text:

  • true statements/false statements;
  • valid arguments/invalid arguments; and
  • sound arguments/unsound arguments.

These distinctions are important in understanding the rest of the course material. Remember that arguments are not true or false; only the statements that make up arguments are true or false. The statements in an argument are the conclusion and the premises. Validity concerns the connection between the premises and the conclusion. In a valid argument the premises could never be true and the conclusion false. “A valid argument is one in which the conclusion must be true if the premises are true.”

Lecture on Validity and Soundness (Powerpoint) 

Note Well:
Only arguments are valid or invalid.
Not statements
(Statements are either true or false; arguments are not true or false) 
(slide #16)

Common Fallacies in Moral Reasoning

Argument Basics:

• Claim: a declarative statement, proposition, or claim about reality that is either true or false.
• Complex claim: one or more simple claims joined with an operator (and, or, not, if…then…).
• Argument: one or more claims (called premises) intended to support the truth of another claim (called a conclusion).
• Premises provides: grounds, reasons, justification, support, evidence for a conclusion.
• Arguments are not true or false; only claims are true or false.
• Arguments are either good or bad.
• Fallacy: an error in reasoning.

(p.1)

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