In this next post I will present the definition and anatomy of a basic argument. This will cover premises and the conditions which make them true. Following from this will be an explanation of conclusions and how they bring the argument together.
What is an argument?
An argument in this case is a form of proof for a point of view. While the argument between theists and atheists might be heated and emotionally driven in some cases. The atheist (and many theists) believe that breaking things down to a logical analysis is one of the best ways to learn the truth of something. In philosophy there are many forms of arguments and different styles of setting out premises and conclusions. What follows is the most basic understanding of what an argument consists of.
Premises are the basis on which an argument is formed. A premise is a statement or an observation which should logically justify a conclusion.
In order to properly justify a conclusion and produce a sound argument the premises you state must be true. This is because of the following general rule;
if the premises are true then the conclusion MUST be true
So, what is 'true' for the sake of rational argument.
Truth is verifiable. Any statement that is said to be true must be consistent and testable. It must have conditions that would allow it to be proven false. It must be repeatedly observable and objective.
Conclusions are the final statement in an argument and should be designed to take into account the premises which you have set. A conclusion must be logically justified on the basis of your premises. The truth and validity of the conclusion is directly related to the quality of the premises.
The components I've presented have quite specific roles in an argument. Being aware of what makes a good argument contributes to the quality of the discussion you conduct. You will be able to form better arguments as well as show your opponents where their arguments are failing.
Further reading can begin here; a more in-depth run through of arguments. http://www.iep.utm.edu/argument/