Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Fallacy of Tendentious Terminology

Magic is "The pretended art of influencing events, and of producing marvelous physical phenomena, by processes supposed to owe their efficacy to their power of intervention of spiritual beings..."

Except, if God performs a miracle, he's not pretending to perform it, he is performing it. So God, by definition, cannot engage in magic. If he exists. If he doesn't exist, then he can't do magic or anything else. But the use of the term "magic" here begs the question, as do most uses of the Argument from Tendentious Terminology." Or should I call it the Fallacy of Tendentious Terminology.

12 comments:

Cal Metzger said...

By this logic it begs the question to characterize the stories of the New Testament as miracles, because miracles are, by definition, performed by a god that exists.

So, don't use the term miracles any more, because they you will (by your own definition) be employing your fallacy of tendentiousness.

David Brightly said...

A rather archaic definition of magic, perhaps, but note how it presupposes the notion of the miraculous.

B. Prokop said...

I think I need to re-post my definition of magic here:

Magic is the manipulation of natural forces by associative means, such as imagery (e.g., pentagrams, pyramids, a black rose), rituals (e.g., the black mass, incantations, spells), or specific timings and locations (e.g., during a full moon, at a crossroads), etc. The distinguishing feature between technology and magic is not natural vs. supernatural, but rather cause and effect vs. associative similarity.

Magic lies entirely within the natural, physical world. It is simply a specific way of employing purely natural, physical means to (attempt to) achieve an outcome within the natural world.

Joe Hinman said...

I agree Dr. R. Moreover I think there is a bit of an indication that Magic is like stealing from God. I think there's an implication that doers of magic are cracking some secret code we are not supposed to know that could not be so for God.

Joe Hinman said...


Cal:"By this logic it begs the question to characterize the stories of the New Testament as miracles, because miracles are, by definition, performed by a god that exists."

>>This is a fancy atheists use all the time. It's informal and I don't know if there is a name for it I call it "you can't believe your beliefs." It holds that if you assume your are right you are begging the question. By that logic one could not call God God. By that logic one could never make an argument because all arguments would have to be proven before they are made.

Cal:v "So, don't use the term miracles any more, because they you will (by your own definition) be employing your fallacy of tendentiousness."

Fine by me. Mathias joseph Scheben called them "Supernatural effects."

Joe Hinman said...

Procop I've seen many definitions of magic. I have a sneaking suspicion that when atheists us it it means "your beliefs are crap and i refuse to believe them."

B. Prokop said...

My above definition of magic was a paraphrase of the chapter-length one Charles Williams uses in his magisterial history of the subject, Witchcraft. (A decidedly unpleasant read, by the way. I recommend it only to those with a strong stomach.)

I totally recognize that there are about 8 or 9 different ways the word can be used in the English language. I myself have been known to call a particularly good view through my telescope "Pure Magic". And, of course, there is always THIS.

But the way Cal is using the word on this site is decidedly skewed. By including its falsity within the definition, and then calling everything everything done by God as magic, his entire argument is short circuited.

If you define walking down the middle of the road as illegal, then no amount of discussion is ever going to get to where it isn't.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Cal Metzger said...

Bob: "But the way Cal is using the word on this site is decidedly skewed. By including its falsity within the definition, and then calling everything everything done by God as magic, his entire argument is short circuited."

Um, two things: I prefer the definition from my hardcover Merriam Webster American dictionary, but didn't include it because I thought you'd consider it less definitive than the OED. In the MWA dictionary, the word magic can be either real or pretend.

I was referring to the OED in how it specifically called for the use of spiritual beings (which the MWA does similarly), something that your definition seemed to explicitly exclude.

My argument is that your definition of magic, which confines itself to the natural world, does not jive with either bound dictionary I referenced. And that is all that I had to do to demonstrate my point.

Cal Metzger said...

Hinman: "This is a fancy atheists use all the time. It's informal and I don't know if there is a name for it I call it "you can't believe your beliefs." It holds that if you assume your are right you are begging the question. By that logic one could not call God God. By that logic one could never make an argument because all arguments would have to be proven before they are made."

Good grief this is the problem I pointed out with Victor's post. So you have that precisely wrong. I am saying that we use language that is consistent with our view on the subject, and Victor is (for some odd reason, and you seem to agree with me) declaring in his OP that to use language that is consistent with our view on the subject is some kind of fallacy. But I'm glad to know you agree that's untenable.

Joe Hinman said...

Cal you said that the term miracle is begging the question because it implies belief. Now that is absurd but moreover, your reason seems to0 be using that to justify calling these vents by the totally misleading and derogatory term "magic." If using the term miracle is begging the question (totally ridiculous but just to assume so for argument) we can do two things:

(1)we can say "alleged miracle"

(2) call them supernatural effects.

of course the real issue is still that calling them "magic" is totally wrong and it's not made any better by criticizing the term miracle.
btw the reason its absurd to say the term miracle begs the question is because the reader, unless said reader is an idiot, has the tacit knowledge to get the invisible perentjetical "alleved" which is alwahs impklied in any contested area,

Cal Metzger said...

Hinman: "Cal you said that the term miracle is begging the question because it implies belief."

No I didn't.

I said that it would, if we were to use the logic that follows from Victor's post.

You and I are in agreement that Victor's post is untenable -- you just have to re-read what I originally wrote, I think.

Joe Hinman said...

Cal you mean VR's post here: "Magic is "The pretended art of influencing events, and of producing marvelous physical phenomena, by processes supposed to owe their efficacy to their power of intervention of spiritual beings..."Except, if God performs a miracle, he's not pretending to perform it, he is performing it. So God, by definition, cannot engage in magic. If he exists. If he doesn't exist, then he can't do magic or anything else. But the use of the term "magic" here begs the question, as do most uses of the Argument from Tendentious Terminology." Or should I call it the Fallacy of Tendentious Terminology.

posted by Victor Reppert at 11:01 AM on Dec 29, 2015



I agree with that. zHow do you get that if this is true then using miracle is vbegging the question.i think what I said answers it
"