Friday, 25 April 2014

Dave from PR explains the Church of England

As we've seen already, simply implying that one thing is related to another thing is not the quite the same as demonstrating that there's any meaningful connection between the two things being compared. Dave from PR just tried to make another dodgy link when he said 'We are a Christian country, we have an established church.'

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that we live in a 'Christian country.'* We do have an established church, so what's the problem? It's the unstated link between the two statements. Cameron's statement is a syllogism in which the linking premise is missing. His "argument" goes like this:
  • We are a Christian country (major premise - assumed).
  • Christian countries have established churches (premise - unstated).
  • Therefore we have an established church (conclusion - stated).
An argument with a bit missing from the middle like this is called an enthymeme.

How many Christian countries have established churches? Here's a helpful map, where all the countries with a state religion have been coloured in:

Lifted from the relevant Wikipedia article

You can see at a glance that state religions only exist in a minority of states, even when you include non-Christian state religions, and that followers of the Nazarene in most of nominal Christendom are doing the Jesus thing without the benefit an established church (as are all of our home-grown Christians who don't belong to the Church of England).

So much for Cameron's missing link (insert your own primate gag here). 

As Dave failed to make any coherent case for our established church,** I agree with Nick on this one, although it's not exactly the sort of big issue that's going to rebuild his lost credibility.

*It's a country with Christians (and a lot of other people) in it and whether that description stands up depends on your definition. If 'Christian country' is shorthand for "a Country where the majority of people who have a religious affiliation identify as Christians", then I live in a Christian country. If it means "a country where most people can actually be bothered to go to church", I don't (just turning up for social obligations like family and friends' christenings, weddings or funerals really doesn't count). Plenty of other definitions exist, depending on which facts you choose to pick, although some are more contrived than others.

** There are arguments which are coherent, but silly, like 'because Henry VIII was having a bad heir day.'