Monday, November 29, 2010

Welcome to the sideshow

King James Onlyism (or KJV-onlyism as I prefer) is a movement within certain Fundamentalist circles, especially independent Fundamentalist Baptists (IFBs). KJV-onlyists believe, to varying degrees, that the Authorized Version of the Bible (commonly known as the King James Version, or KJV, in North America) is exclusively the Word of God in the English language. Some KJV-onlyists take this even farther and claim it is exclusively the Word of God in all languages.

It would be no big deal if the KJV-only camp simply said, "This is our opinion," and left it at that. But the claims being made are not mere preference claims. They are truth claims. Therefore, they ought to be open to scrutiny.

Unfortunately, when you give the arguments used by KJV-onlyists a close examination, they don't stand up. The reasoning employed by the KJV-onlyists is fallacious at its root. It occurred to me that, given enough time, I could build a pretty comprehensive list of logical fallacies by drawing on KJV-only sources alone. And, since you are reading this, that means I have already found ten examples - the minimum number I decided beforehand would make a worthwhile Web site. Of course, there are plenty more where those came from, so this site is still a Work in Progress.

So my purpose is twofold. One, I want to warn people against the specific errors of KJV-onlyism by exposing the faulty reasoning that underlies it. I hope that by pulling the rug out from underneath the KJV-only rhetoric, I might dissuade at least someone who is thinking through the question of Bible translations from accepting this serious error. Of course, I realize that shredding the illogic of the KJV-only arguments is not, in itself, a refutation of the position. KJV-onlyism might still be true despite the illogic. It still remains to show the KJV-only position false  - that is a job for another page.

Two, we Christians are, unfortunately, a credulous lot. So I hope that a presentation of these critical thinking concepts, framed in a Christian theological issue, might help some of the brethren spot bad arguments - of any kind, not merely KJV-onlyism.

And, finally, KJV-onlyism is one of the more laughable errors to fall under the rubric of "Christianity" in recent years. Let's face it: the KJV-only camp is arguably the largest collection of Biblical ignoramuses claiming to know the most important truth about the Bible. What they lack in facts and sound argument, they make up for in volume and tone. I want to take a little of the wind out of the KJV-onlyists' sails by having a good laugh at their expense.

What is a fallacy?

A fallacy is a logical flaw in an argument that renders it invalid. Some people use the word fallacy to refer to any error in reasoning, whether factual or logical. Strictly speaking, however, fallacies are errors of logic rather than errors of fact.

Fallacies can be roughly divided into two major categories: formal and informal. Formal fallacies have to do with the structure of the argument, while informal fallacies have to do with their content.

The sideshow is still a bit under construction, but at least it's presentable. This site was originally hosted on Geocities, until the announcement that Yahoo would be shutting that service down. I decided to transfer it over to Blogger and take advantage of its label feature to categorize the fallacies. In addition to formal and informal logical fallacies, I have also decided to include posts about the sillier arguments some KJV-onlyists like to use: errors of fact or history, bad theology, inept exegesis, eisegesis, a line of weird rationales I've taken to calling "goofy proofs" - and, unfortunately, the kind of rank dishonesty that is all too prevalent in KJV-only circles. So-called "Christians" really ought to know better.

But enough ballyhoo. It's time to step right behind this curtain and see the pickled punk show, while the Swamis of Sophistry flummox you with feats of logical legerdemain.

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