Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Tonight, we’re going to be continuing our look at becoming a thinking Christian. We started discussing logic some last night and tonight, I’d like to continue that by having us look at terminology.

Words. Words are wonderful things. It is amazing that they can convey information often so well. Those who doubt what I am saying are proving what I am saying as my words to you right now are conveying my thoughts. It could be that some of my thoughts are wrong, to which I’m sure some are, but I would hope that I am at least conveying what is wrong truthfully so it could be corrected if need be.

My wife is one who knows about my usage of words. I have a joy of taking words literally at times to laugh about them. For instance, if we’re going down the highway and I see a billboard that says something like “McDonald’s: Exit now!” I can just say “Well I guess if we want to go we have to drive right off of this bridge!”

In logic, your words are important also. All syllogisms only have three terms. Those are the minor, major, and middle. What’s important is that we be clear on what the terms mean. Terms also does not mean that they are one-word only. They can be, but they do not have to be. I could say “The lamp that is sitting to my right of me as I type on my computer” and have that be a term. “Everything in the kitchen except the kitchen sink” is a term.

Of course, there is a danger that a term could be identical in word and different in meaning. To illustrate this, a simple syllogism.

The edge of a river is a bank.
Banks contain money.
Therefore, the edge of a river contains money.

The premises to this are true. (Although granted that an agnostic friend of mine pointed out to me that the second premise can easily be questioned today) The AAA type proposition is usually valid entirely. However, the problem to this is that the term bank is ambiguous.

In the second premise, when we speak of a bank that contains money, we refer to a place of business that has the responsibility of holding money if need be for your safekeeping. (Again, I do realize that that is questionable today) In the first premise, we are speaking of the edge of a river.

The fallacy then is that while we’re using the same word, we refer to two different things. In essence, this becomes the four-term fallacy. This is also important in informal debate and one reason I try to make sure my opponent and I define our terms clearly. What do you mean by God? What do you mean by good? If you are using the same term and you have a different referent to that term, you’re going to be talking past each other.

God takes words seriously. Let’s make sure we do the same.

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