A mask mandate showdown in Cobb County school board pits ‘faith’ against ‘fear’

"'Faith not Fear' is a mantra ringing out across the country, where such debates have reached a fever pitch. That is the case in Cobb County, Georgia." - RNS

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Aaron Blumer's picture


D.A. Carson's Exegetical Fallacies is a great "learning clear thinking" tool. Two of the fallacies he describes are:

  • Excluded middle (EM) - when there are multiple possibilities but we reason as though there were only two
  • False disjunction (FD) - when two possibilities can co-exist but we reason as though they were mutually exclusive/opposites

The two can overlap. It's a bit difficult to say for sure whether the "faith vs fear" mantra is an EM or an FD, but it's certainly a fallacy.

  1. It is possible to have faith of some kind and fear of some kind simultaneously (Obviously! e.g., Psalm 34:9) (FD)
  2. It's quite possible to mistakenly choose one response to fear over another and call it "faith" (Plenty of people respond to fear by minimizing/denying what frightens them.)
  3. It's also quite possible to reject fear of one thing and, in faith, embrace fear of another thing (e.g., Luke 12:4-5) (FD)
  4. There are all kinds of other responses to disease and vaccination that are neither fear nor faith (EM).

In short, this sort of binary thinking is almost always stupid and almost always fuels nonsense rhetoric and foolish actions.

(For what it's worth, I don't like masks. I don't like being told I have to wear something. I don't like to see Christian ministries be told by government that they have to do something. ... but I try hard not to confuse what I like with "what's right" and what I don't like with "what's wrong.")

More on the whole "fear not faith" argument... We Weren't Afraid

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Mark_Smith's picture

This is the most sad argument I've heard, and I hear it a lot. Have faith. Believe in the after life and Jesus and you don't need to fear COVID and wear one of those oppressive masks... Really?

Let's see if YOU follow that logic as much as you say you do...

1. Do you drink treated water? I thought you lived by faith and not technology and science. Just go drink out of the creek brother. Let's see you walk by faith...

2. You need to go to the 50th floor of some tall building. You get in the elevator and hit 50... Do you trust that some government inspector has made sure that the safety systems operate, or should you just "trust God" and fire the safety inspector?

3. You work on an assembly line in a factory. 100+ years ago assembly line factory work unfortunately led to many lost limbs, digits, and other injuries. I am sure people at that time thought "well, its just God's will Bob lost his thumb at work." Then OSHA came and safety guidelines were employed. Now all the sudden, God's "will to maim" just isn't as much. Interesting isn't it?

The point is fear or faith has little to do with COVID response. For one thing, there is a big difference between RESPECT for something's ability to do harm (not crossing a rushing highway on foot, climbing a rock cliff wall only with safety equipment, jumping out of a plane WITH a parachute, not playing Russian roulette) and FEAR of something for fear's sake.

Besides, the governor of Georgia's so called faith should not be the leading guide to public policy about pandemics. Leave that to health officials trained for public health.