Wednesday, November 26, 2008


     Much has been made over the last few years about numbers.   Here in the diocese of San Joaquin Mr. Schofield for years has pounced on each parish exhorting them to get out and "evangelize".  Drag those poor unfortunate suckers into your churches and make them Christians!  Oh, and by the way, make sure they pledge, don't want anyone to think this Christianity thingy is free.  Schofield had his henchman, Bill Gandenberger on the circuit preaching Friendship Evangelism to anyone and everyone that would listen.  In fact, if a parish were ailing financially, the Friendship Evangelism package was a prerequisite for any assistance at all.  NUMBERS, NUMBERS,NUMBERS!

    Fast forward to the GAFCON folks who frequently explain that they have  35 million people they are speaking for and those 35 million people want TEC and the Church of Canada to end this wild goose chase of providing equal rights and full inclusion for this "silly little minority of people".  These few folks tucked away in small corners of churches in America and Canada threaten the very lives of these 35 million worldwide Anglicans that could be killed at any moment because of the actions to protect this minority.

     Now, if you travel over to Father Mark Harris' blog you will frequently find a lively discussion on the numbers.  Generally the numbers discussion goes something like "the most Episcopalians in the world have now left the Episcopal Church in favor of the new improved North American Province".  200,000 Episcopalians can't be wrong, TEC must be deaf and hard of hearing.  The average Sunday Attendance for the entire Episcopal Church in America is 6 (counting the babies in the crying room) while the average Sunday attendance in the Southern Cone Diocese of Fort Worth is forty eleven million so TEC is a dying.   Then there is the old saw about how can the will of the people be denied?  Gee whiz, how can we give LGBT persons basic rights and full inclusion when clearly the votes are in  and the will of the people says they have no rights. TEC and Canada cannot deny the will of the people.  Can they?  Should they?  What the heck is going on?  

     Well, here are at least two relative good answers to all those issues.  First, the two mixed logical fallacies.  
Appeal to Popularity

Appeals to popularity suggest that an idea must be true simply because it is widely held. This is a fallacy because popular opinion can be, and quite often is, mistaken. Hindsight makes this clear: there were times when the majority of the population believed that the Earth is the still centre of the universe, and that diseases are caused by evil spirits; neither of these ideas was true, despite its popularity.

Appeal to Authority

An appeal to authority is an argument from the fact that a person judged to be an authority affirms a proposition to the claim that the proposition is true.

Appeals to authority are always deductively fallacious; even a legitimate authority speaking on his area of expertise may affirm a falsehood, so no testimony of any authority is guaranteed to be true.

Both of these arguments are indeed telling but I have a couple more.  First, there is the parable of the woman who had committed some grievous sin and was about to be stoned to death.  Jesus comes along and says to the assembled men, "Let any man who is without sin cast the first stone."  That woman would be alive today were it not for old age that caught up with her.  But the most compelling argument I can make against all this numbers nonsense is that of Calvary.  When it came time to pony up, when the time was right, God gave us his ONLY (I assume meaning 1) son.  And Jesus, deserted by everyone (save his mom), including the Pharisees and the Saduccees and the assembled masses who screamed for crucifixion, knew that it takes only one person to change the world.  AND, what was his last action?  He took the criminal with him!  

Numbers don't mean diddly.

No comments: