Steve Krause (skrause@BGNET.BGSU.EDU)
Tue, 6 Aug 1996 21:45:48 -0400

I promise this is the last post I'll make on this thread. I don't want
to get into a religious war, and besides, I gotta move (me and the mrs.
are heading for Oregon next week...).

One of the comments Darlene (I think) made in an earlier post was that
what we ought to do is let students figure out for themselves whether or
not to use a religious text or what have you in an essay. Well, in
theory this might be a good idea, but in my experience, it isn't. I used
to do that, and I got a lot of papers that I handed back with really bad
grades. I didn't like doing that and my students didn't like that
either. So now I try to head that sort of thing off at the pass for both
mine and the students' sakes. Besides, part of our job as teachers is to
provide some guidelines on the sort of claims that work and the sort of
claims that don't. I don't think appeals to the bible (or "insert your
favorite religious text here") work and I teach that to students in my
classes where appropriate. Now, they can reject that teaching if they
want at a latter date-- their choice-- but I wouldn't be doing my job if
I taught them otherwise, IMO.

On Tue, 6 Aug 1996, Darlene Sybert wrote:

> Eric Crump said:> >
> > >Viewed from the right distance, belief and reason not only co-exist, they
> > > begin to inhabit the same space, becoming almost indistinguishable.
> > >
> Steve Krause said
> >
> > Nope, and I think there are two reasons for this. First, it isn't possible
> > to offer "counter-arguments" to religious texts. We can argue about (for
> why?
> > You can't really do that with religions because different faiths (and that
> > word choice should signal somethin') all presume with the assumption that
> > they're right
> And just because they think they are right, no one can argue
> with them?

Well, yeah, sorta. But it is also because they have _faith_ in what
they're talking about and because if they are indeed faithful they won't
budge. I mean, I think the best color is green. Period. That's just
what I think. Now, if you come along with your favorite color being
purple and try to convince me that really the best color is purple, it
ain't going to work. You can't convince someone to change faith with
rhetoric, and you can't convince someone to change faith with mere
faith. I'm going to stick with green,you're going to stick with purple,
and we'll just have to agree to disagree. Or, as is often the case with
religious wars, kill each other.
> >
> > The second is based on a pretty basic rhetorical principal advanced by our
> > pal Chaim Perleman: before a rhetor can persuade an audience, the rhetor
> > must begin with a persumption that the audience agrees with, and if the
> > rhetor chooses to make an appeal that is not presumed by the audience, it
> > won't work.
> He said that is where you begin...with something you can
> reasonably presume that your audience agrees with...
> It's not where you end, though, or why speak?
True, but I (the heathen that I am) can't even get to that beginning
place in the first place. This is why when Brother Jed comes to
campus at BGSU, there is absolutely nothing he could say that could
persuade me because he's beginning from such odd assumptions (kind
of an extreme example, but you get the idea).

Perleman also points out that if this persumption shared by the universal
audience is violated by the rhetor in the course of the discourse, then
the persuasive value is greatly dimmenished. This is perhaps of course
best demostrated in the famous proof regarding Ray Charles being God.
The first assumptions are easy enough to agree to:

* Ray Charles is blind.

* Love is blind.

* God is love.

But then we start running into trouble:

* God is blind.

* Ray Charles is God.

Well, perhaps another tongue in cheek example, but you get the idea.

Steve Krause * Department of English * Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH * 43403 * (419) 372-8934 *
*Soon to be at Southern Oregon State College in Ashland, OR*