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In the following quote by Billy Sunday

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.

Can anyone please explain/elaborate the usage and meaning of "any more than"?

3 Answers 3

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The construction [not X] any more than [Y] is a way of comparing a primary negative assertion to an obviously absurd positive secondary assertion. The underlying logic is:

[X] is not any more true than [Y] … that is, it is equally untrue
[Going to church makes you a Christian] is not any more true than [going to a garage makes you a car].

Move the denial into the primary proposition, and you have:

[X is not true] any more than [Y]

Is not true reduces, in context, to VERBs not, so you end up with:

[Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian] any more than [going to a garage makes you a car].

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This is merely a comparison of two things.

Doing A doesn't mean that you're an X. (church)
Doing B doesn't mean that you're a Y. (garage)
Therefore, A and B are equally ineffective measures of your true nature. OR
Therefore, your doing A doesn't tell us more about your true nature than your doing B does.

So both A and B have zero value as signs of your character and nature. They are equal.

Here's another example of the usage:

The distinction between a "formal" fallacy and a "material" fallacy is not fixed or clear--any more than that between "formal" and "material" logic.

In this case, what these two pairs of terms mean and how each member of a pair differs from its opposite is equally unclear and unfixed.

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"any more than" can be a substitute for "even if" for example. Going to church does not make you a Christian even if going to a garage makes you a car. The whole idea of the sentence is that while going to a garage does not make you a car, likewise going to a church does not necessarily make you a christian.

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  • "...even if going to a garage makes you a car" implies that going to a garage DOES make you a car. "Any more than" means exactly the opposite. Going to a garage doesn't make you a car, and going to church doesn't make you a Christian.
    – ColleenV
    Oct 20, 2017 at 11:44

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