Wednesday, October 4, 2017


"In Europe, theologians immediately have to have the exact Council text ready when words like 'faith' or 'mercy' are used. This kind of theology with which we are familiar doesn't exist in Latin America. they are more intuitive (inductive?) there...they look at a text without considering it as part of a whole. We must somehow respect and accept this style. But I nevertheless wish that as far as teaching documents are concerned, clear theological preparation must take place."--Gerhard Cardinal Mueller

When I was on sabbatical in Rome last year at this very time, we had a local theologian try to explain Pope Francis' primary way of "doing" theology. Contrasted with Pope Benedict and almost every other pope prior to His Holiness, Pope Francis' method uses almost exclusively inductive  reasoning whereas the papacy prior to His Holiness, as well as academic theologians in Europe and the USA use a more deductive method of "doing" theology and teaching the faith.

Below is an article I reproduce on the differences in deductive and inductive reasoning. I reproduce it from a blog named  .  It helps us to understand Pope Francis as well as Cardinal Muller's astute insights about Pope Francis' confusing method of reasoning and teaching which is quoted above. 


Inductive and deductive reasoning are both approaches that can be used to evaluate inferences. Deductive reasoning involves starting out with a theory or general statement, then moving towards a specific conclusion. Inductive reasoning, on the other hand, takes a series of specific observations and tries to expand them into a more general theory. Each approach is very different, and it is important to be aware that both inductive and deductive reasoning can end up with false results, especially if the initial premise of the reasoning is false, in which case the results are said to be “unsound.”

Inductive Reasoning

A simplistic example of inductive reasoning might start with an observation such as “All of the cows I have ever seen are spotted.” One might, in turn, think that therefore all cows must be spotted. This is not actually the case, but given the available information, one might be forgiven for thinking it. The next step in this logic might involve attempting to find things which disprove the assertion that all cows are spotted, as might be done by asking other people if they have seen cows which are not spotted.

Inductive reasoning is commonly seen in the sciences when people want to make sense of a series of observation. Isaac Newton, for example, famously used inductive reasoning to develop a theory of gravity. Using observations, people can develop a theory to explain those observations, and seek out disproof of that theory. As can be seen in the cow example above, one of the major flaws with inductive reasoning is that it is dependent on observations, and when observations are incomplete, unsound results may be formulated.

In a famous example of inductive reasoning, some people in the ancient world believed that meat spontaneously gave rise to maggots. Their conclusion was based on the observation that if meat was left out, maggots would appear on it. Someone else decided to test this theory by seeking for disproof — would it be possible to leave meat out and not have maggots appear? By sequestering meat in various containers next to fully exposed meat, the scientist realized that the maggots were, in fact, the result of eggs laid by flies.

Deductive Reasoning

With deductive reasoning, one takes a general theory or idea, tests it, and moves through a sequence of ideas to arrive at a specific conclusion. It is possible to arrive at an unsound result by using an initial premise which is false, as in this case: Every animal that eats mice is a cat. Rover eats mice. Therefore, Rover is a cat. The goal of deductive reasoning is to arrive at a valid chain of reasoning, in which each statement holds up to testing, but it is possible for deductive reasoning to be both valid and unsound.

Both Useful Approaches

The brain is so adept at both deductive and inductive reasoning that it often does it on a level which people are not fully aware of. Especially in the case of children, this type of reasoning is used to make sense of the world and the things observed in it. As can be seen, it is possible to use both approaches to explore a logical problem.


rcg said...

Yikes. “You know how those Latin American brains work differently than ours...”

Anonymous said...

Maybe someone can provide some "reasoning" this morning why, yesterday, 99 percent of House Democrats voted against a 20-week abortion ban? Granted, most abortions occur before then (not that it makes abortion any less evil, whether 20 weeks, 10 weeks or whatever), but am I wrong in thinking the abortion lobby's grip on the national Democrats is as strong as ever? The Democrats rail against the 59 killed in the Las Vegas massacre yet at the very same time defend the 3,000 or so abortions that occur every day in this nation. Even Nancy Pelosi could not vote for a 20-week ban........Canon 915, where are thou?!?!?

Abortion kills far more people in this country than firearms---seeming to suggest Congress should focus maybe more on the former?

Victor said...

Inductive vs. deductive reasoning does not figure here as the point is what is being said. The intuitive approach as Mueller describes it is just looking for texts to justify one's preconceptions, ignoring the meaning of the text in consideration of its relation to the whole. The pope may quote Aquinas, but he purposely avoids giving it a read in the context of what Aquinas meant by that quote in his argument. This is something one would expect of someone who is not particularly educated, but since that is not the case, it is clear that there is an agenda involved, probably neo-Modernist, that takes feelings as primary at the expense of ratiocination. If this is what is happening in Latin America, you have to wonder to what extent the Church there is Catholic.

But this is all a moot point, since the Church in Latin America is quickly disappearing in favour of the Evangelical and Pentecostal sects, and one does not have to wonder why.

ByzRus said...

We must somehow respect and accept this style. But I nevertheless wish that as far as teaching documents are concerned, clear theological preparation must take place."--Gerhard Cardinal Mueller

I could be wrong but, this reads as though the occupant of the Office is not wholly qualified and we must find a way to work around that.