Logic and Definitions

Back in the olden days while studying contract law, one thing was frequently emphasized: for a contract to be valid, there has to be a meeting of the minds. That is, both parties need to understand the terms of the agreement. Ever sign a legal document or read the terms of service for many products online? Words and expressions are defined, often in excruciating detail. This is foundational to reduce confusion.

Defining terms is foundational in serious discussions and reduces logical fallacies such as conflation
Credit: Pixabay / PDPics
Ambiguity can be fun. Some owlhoot challenged me to a debate while I was stuffing feathers into a pillow. So, I threw down on him. "Throw down" can be literal, or the colloquialism for engaging in a challenge. It may have originated in days of old when knights were bold, and one would throw down the gauntlet when issuing a challenge. 

We don't need confusion on terms when trying to understand or debate a subject. I disremember when and about what, but I was having an argument with a guy for parts of two days because we each had a different definition in mind. Turns out, we were actually in agreement!

When dealing with serious issues (including contracts), ambiguity is not fun. In discussions on origins, terms need to be defined to minimize uncertainty. More than once, this child has been told, "Such and so is the scientific definition of evolution", but those who made the declaration had differed on the scientific definition. Many words have multiple meanings, and evolution is one of those. For that matter, take a gander at the photo, above: the word definition shows parts of two very different meanings. 

Even the word Christian can be vague. I heard an atheist call in to a Christian radio program and say that he was a Christian because he liked some of the things Jesus said! You can have people from various religious sects, or none at all, identifying themselves as Christians but with different definitions of the word. Indeed, Richard Weikart wrote in Hitler's Religion: The Twisted Beliefs That Drove the Third Reich that the German religious landscape in the early days of the Nazi regime was disparate, often having little or nothing to do with established definitions of the word Christian.

Recently, Dr. Albert Mohler specified the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. Marriage has been redefined by many to fit political and social sentiments, away from God's design as understood by people for millennia.

Some sidewinders get so intent on convincing others that molecules-to-musicologist evolution is true that they conflate (pull a bait-and-switch) on definitions. F'rinstance, a virus showed evolution, therefore, evolution is true. Not hardly! The "evolution" the virus exhibited was a variation, and that use of the word was conflated to confuse someone into accepting universal common ancestor evolution. See what I'm doing here? Distinguishing between the terms, that's what I'm doing. Conflation is a logical fallacy (as is its close relative, equivocation). That, and other logical fallacies can occur when words are not properly defined. Also, keep an eye out for when atheists and anti-creationists conflate science with evolution. Those of us who reject Darwinism are called "science deniers" (which is a lie) because they loaded terms and did themselves some conflating.

As I've said before, creationists need to be aware of logical fallacies. One reason is to see when someone is being deceptive or manipulative, and the other is to honor Christ. After all, we need to present our best apologetic and use what God has given us.
One of the most important tools in logical reasoning is a dictionary.  Correct reasoning requires that we use words properly – according to their meaning.  Failure to use words correctly often results in miscommunication, but it can also result in errors in reasoning.  One of the most common logical errors in debates over origins concerns the definition of a single word.  And the error can be resolved by understanding how definitions work and by consulting a dictionary.

The definition of a word is a statement or series of statements that explains the word’s meaning.  There are four types of legitimate definitions.  And there is a fifth type of “definition” that is fallacious because it does not truly describe a word’s meaning.  It is critical to understand not only the definition of the words used in any argument, but also to know which type of definition is in use.  All of the four legitimate types of definitions have one thing in common: they explain the meaning of a word.
I'd be much obliged if you would read the rest of this important article. To do this, just click on "Logic: The Importance of Definitions".