Logical Lapse


In "Elementary Logic and the Beginning of Life," (Feb. 2007), Patrick Beeman presents this argument:

If the zygote is not already human, then the zygote will not become human.
It is not the case that the zygote will become human.
Therefore, it is not the case that the zygote is not already human.

The supposed conclusion is true, but not because it follows from the premises. Since the second premise affirms where it should deny, no conclusion can follow logically.

— Stephen Berardi
Inglewood, California

Editor’s reply: You are correct that the conclusion, while biologically and ontologically correct, is not logically correct. "If A, then B" does not imply "If B, then A." We regret the mistake.


Catholicism’s Five Pillars?

I have enjoyed reading some of the insightful articles in This Rock ever since I was introduced to it as a volunteer at Catholic Answers during the winter of 1996. This letter concerns Matthew Bunson’s article in the February issue, "Pope Benedict Speaks to Muslims." It was a revelation to me that the Pope might seek the help of Islam to combat the galloping secularism of Europe. The Muslims seem to be a people of prayer. The Five Pillars of Islam suggested to me that there could be a parallel Five Pillars of Catholicism. Below I list the Five Pillars of Islam and my conception of a Catholic parallel:

The Five Pillars of Islam:

  1. The daily recitation of the profession of the Muslim faith
  2. Ritual worship five times a day facing in the direction of the holy city of Mecca, the cradle of Islam
  3. Almsgiving
  4. Fasting from dawn to dusk during the holy month of Ramadan, the time when the revelation of the Qu’ran to Mohammed is said to have begun
  5. Making at least one pilgrimage (called the hajj) to Mecca

The Five Pillars of Catholicism:

  1. The daily recitation of the Apostles’ Creed
  2. Ritual worship five times a day by means of the Liturgy of the Hours
  3. Almsgiving
  4. Fasting from dawn to dusk during the holy season of Lent
  5. Making at least one pilgrimage during one’s life to the Holy Land

I wonder how many of the approximately 1.3 billion Muslims perform the Five Pillars. What would happen if the same proportion of Catholics performed the "Five Catholic Pillars"?

— James E. Fitzpatrick
Chicopee, Massachusetts


 

Editor’s note: An American bishop kindly took the time to write to us regarding Leon Suprenant’s article, "How to Talk to a Bishop" (January ’07). The bishop acknowledged that Mr. Suprenant had many wise observations but wished another point had been made: Those who question a bishop’s actions often lack all the information necessary to make a sound judgment about the situation. The bishop also lamented that humility is often lacking in ecclesial debates and he prays that all of us be more humble in our dealings with one another. We thank the bishop for his salient observations.

Correction: In March’s Quick Questions, a quotation attributed to Cardinal Newman was incorrectly worded. The quotation from Cardinal Newman should read "To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant." We regret the inaccuracy.


This article appeared in Volume 18 Number 4.