Vol.XV No.X Pg.8
December 1978

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

Someone asked the hippy why he stood on the street corner snapping his fingers. "To keep elephants away," he replied — naturally. When the querist expressed doubt he was reminded, "You don't see any elephants do you?" (I use 'em as long as I remember 'em.)

More recently I mentioned going on Social Security and an old timer said, "Don't do it, brother Turner. I began to lose my memory when I retired." Then he added, "It has made me stronger though. Before I retired I could barely carry $20 in groceries out to the car; but now I can carry a $50 order." I expected him to tell me about his radio that was so old the time signal it sounded was always late; but he spared me that one.

We are writing about NON-SEQUITUR fallacies, meaning, "it does not follow." There may have been some other cause for the absence of elephants on the street; for the loss of memory; for the ability to carry groceries. (He may have been getting more rest.) An inference that does not follow from the premise (not a necessary inference) is non sequitur. We may even show that certain conditions were present prior to what seemed to be their effect — and not prove that these factors always had this effect. The conscientious laboratory technician could give us many points here.

And in religion, where one's soul may be at stake, it is extremely important that we not get our exercise by jumping to conclusions on insufficient evidence. (Maybe $50 buys less groceries now than $20 once bought.)

A motel manager showed me a photograph of a bush, where limbs, shadows and light seemed to combine to make "the picture of Christ." She freely acknowledged that no one knew how the Christ appeared; yet this had become a major factor in her religious life. For all we know, if it was a picture of anything, it could have been the image of the devil.

Have you not heard brethren solemnly declare that "Go" and "Teach" authorize an organization of churches. How could methods of travel, and of instruction, authorize collective action of churches? It does not follow! "Paul had a miraculous measure of the Holy Spirit, therefore all saints can work miracles, speak with tongues, or whatever." It does not follow! Maybe we all should be more diligent in the snapping of fingers. We certainly do not need a street full of elephants.