Series on Logic Part 11 – Equivocation

Let’s keep rolling with this insanely long series through logic and logical fallacies brethren. Today I want to discuss the Equivocation fallacy with you, and this one will be important on multiple fronts. If ever there was a fallacy the believer needs to understand, it’s this one. So what is an Equivocation fallacy? This fallacy happens when someone uses the same word to mean two or more different things. A fantastic example of this is evolution, which actually can mean micro evolution or macro evolution. Micro being the small changes we see in creation due to genetic mutations and adaptations, which is observable in nature. Macro is the change from species to a new and distinct species, goo to you, which is not observable in nature. So a fallacy would be “We know we evolved from apes because we see birds evolving differently shaped beaks”. That’s equivocation, as the meaning of evolving changed the second time it was used.

Surprisingly, this is actually not the most dangerous way we see this fallacy used. Equivocation is often used by those wishing to twist scripture to fit their false doctrines. You can see this when you ask a Roman Catholic, or a Mormon, if they’re saved by grace. They will agree, however they will equivocate on the meaning of being saved by grace. It’s all of grace, plus as much works as they can fit in. This is how so many are deceived, as these falsehoods masquerade as Biblical, all the while twisting the true meaning of scripture.

We need to be careful as well, dear ones, that we are not guilty ourselves of equivocation. When we speak we need to do so with clarity, as we will be held accountable to every word we speak. When you come across this type of fallacy I would suggest lovingly correcting, particularly if it’s in regards to Biblical truth. Ordinarily I would say not to be too argumentative when it comes to logic, however make exceptions when the Gospel is at stake. Always pray before you begin a discussion on these matters, as they can escalate rather quickly. And, of course, my beloved friends, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

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Author: lnhereford

I am a Christian, wife, mother, and homeschooler currently traveling the United States with my loving husband and darling daughter!

12 thoughts on “Series on Logic Part 11 – Equivocation”

  1. Thanks, sister, and good illustration of equivocation when Catholics and Mormons refer to grace. A Catholic will say the grace they receive from the sacraments enables them to perform the obligatory good works that merit their salvation. Unwary evangelicals are fooled by this.

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    1. Thank you, brother! It’s your ministry here at WP that has helped me understand the differences in the meanings used. Even before I knew what equivocation meant! You’re such a blessing to us all! God bless you, brother!

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      1. Thanks, sister! These days it’s as difficult to convince evangelicals that Rome doesn’t preach the Gospel as it is Catholics. God bless you, too, and your encouraging ministry of uncompromising fidelity to God’s Word.

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  2. “So what is an Equivocation fallacy? This fallacy happens when someone uses the same word to mean two or more different things. A fantastic example of this is evolution, which actually can mean micro evolution or macro evolution. Micro being the small changes we see in creation due to genetic mutations and adaptations, which is observable in nature. Macro is the change from species to a new and distinct species, goo to you, which is not observable in nature. So a fallacy would be “We know we evolved from apes because we see birds evolving differently shaped beaks”. That’s equivocation, as the meaning of evolving changed the second time it was used. ”

    A: many words have multiple meanings. Catholic v. catholic. Liberal v. liberal. Conservative v. conservative.

    True: Micro-evolution is different from macro-evolution only insofar as macro-Evolution is the culmination of many micro-evolutions.

    But, your example makes NO sense. “We know we evolved from apes because we see birds evolving differently shaped beaks” isn’t a fallacy of equivocation because the definition of evolution hasn’t changed. Evolution still means changes over time. What makes your “example” even worse is that you clearly have no clue what you are talking about. Darwin’s finches are every bit as macro-evolutionary as the difference between humans and apes! Small beaked finches are a completely different species from large beaked finches. And no one is sitting in a lab watching these beaks change!

    Check out all the different phenotypes in the genus felidae if you want to see just how much diversity evolution can create given enough time and a reason for one genotype to be better able to reproduce in a population (thus increasing the possibility that those genes can change the overall genetic make up of the population).

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    1. Good evening Catherine, I appreciate you giving your opinion about this post. I’m always happy to have an opportunity to expand on these issues. Let’s go step by step here and see if we can break down the disconnect.
      Firstly, I agree with your point A, although it only becomes fallacious when those words are interchanged in an argument without context. As I’ve had happen to me during conversations with Catholics, the original meaning of the word catholic in the early church fathers writings was not the same as today, yet they’ll argue for it anyway. When the word is used without the separate context of the two meanings it becomes fallacious. I hope that clears that up, but please feel free to ask further questions if it does not.
      Secondly, micro and macro evolution, regardless of the relationship they may have in a philosophical theory of origins, have two separate meanings. There is absolutely no evidence that micro evolution eventually becomes macro evolution. Speculation and opinion is really all there is to go on in that front.
      Thirdly, the meaning of ‘species’ is hotly debated today. However, the mainstream idea held by most secular and Christian scientists is that for a group to be considered within the same species they simply need capability to mate successfully with one another. Regardless of the details of that debate and which side you fall on, those finches didn’t become a new species, they didn’t even become a new type of bird, they just had slight changes in their beaks due to adaptation or micro evolution. The same can be said about cats, irrespective of the differences in the varied kinds, no cat has ever evolved into a different species. Ironically you’ve shown exactly why my example was so fallacious. Using micro to prove macro by switching the meaning.
      Lastly, Catherine I want to thank you for continuing to comment. I ask you to keep reading, keep commenting, asking questions and debating, when I don’t hear from you for a while it becomes concerning. I hope you, and your husband, are well! I pray for you daily, and genuinely look forward to these discussions. I ask, once again, that you would pick up Johns Gospel and read it with an open mind. Do you know where you’ll go when you die? None of us know how long we have left here, it’s appointed once for man to die and then comes judgment. You and I have broken Gods Law, we’ve lied, stollen, blasphemed, and created idols made after our own images. God is just, and He will hold all Law breakers accountable on Judgement Day. God, in His mercy, condescended to become man. Christ, the sinless lamb, died in our place, and paid the debt we owed for our sin against God. If you will repent of your sins, put your faith in Christ alone, you too can be saved. You can know with assurance what will happen when you die. I must plead with you, friend, consider these things. Please.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Perhaps we make it easier for others to equivocate when we use the word “microevolution.” I used to use the word a lot but now I use the term “natural selection” instead. It is easier to see the difference between the two processes is we use completely different words to describe them.

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    1. That is excellent advice, my friend! That’s a great way to show the exact distinction between the terms. Thank you, I will take that good advice and use natural selection from now on. May the Lord bless you!

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