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The "First Cause" of logic necessarily must be logical.

Below you will find a small selection of errors in logic that are commonly found in the society of today.

One may notice that most of the examples used here concern ‘atheism’. While it is certainly true that the religions, cults and even Christians can and do make errors in logic, it is the ‘atheists’ that often claim to be the ‘bright bastions of intellect and reason.’

Some even have their own webpages which contain logical fallacies which they gleefully point out that sometimes Christians have been guilty of committing, all the while oblivious that more often than not, they are culpable of the very same.

The point is that while they occasionally imply (or outright claim) that their skepticism makes them superior, in truth, they too are frail, limited and even scared human beings that need to trust in the sacrificial death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for their sins and no amount of intellectual posturing and evasion of the evidence can change reality.

 


Argumentum ad Logicam

Description: It is assumed because the argument for a premise is logically flawed, the premise itself is therefore disproven. Or in other words, It is extending someone's argument to ridiculous proportions and then criticizing the fallicious result.

Exposition: Like anything else, the concept of logical fallacy can be misunderstood and misused, and can even become a source of fallacious reasoning. To say that an argument is fallacious is to claim that there is no sufficiently strong logical connection between the premises and the conclusion. This says nothing about the truth-value of the conclusion, so it is unwarranted to conclude that a proposition is false simply because some argument for it is fallacious

Non Causa Pro Causa (aka Slippery Slope)

Description: This fallacy is an argument that says adopting one idea or belief will lead to a series of ideas or beliefs, without showing a causal connection between the two ideas or beliefs.

Caveat: If one can definitively and rationally show causal connection between the two ideas, beliefs, concepts etc, then the Non Causa Pro Causa Fallacy hasn't been committed. 

Example: A popular example in atheism is when atheists argue in favor of there being no gods because believing in gods will lead to atheism of other gods. Eg: "I don't believe in the Christian god for the same reason you (the Christian) don't believe in the Buddhist god."  A prime example is the often used Stephen Roberts quote: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."This is the fallacy of slippery slope argumentation because there is no causal connection shown between the two beliefs.

Example: "If today you can take a thing like evolution and make it a crime to teach it in the public school, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools, and the next year you can make it a crime to teach it to the hustings or in the church. At the next session you may ban books and the newspapers. Soon you may set Catholic against Protestant and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the minds of men. If you can do one you can do the other. Ignorance and fanaticism is ever busy and needs feeding. Always it is feeding and gloating for more. Today it is the public school teachers, tomorrow the private. The next day the preachers and the lectures, the magazines, the books, the newspapers. After [a]while, your honor, it is the setting of man against man and creed against creed until with flying banners and beating drums we are marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth century when bigots lighted fagots to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human mind."

(Clarence Darrow, The Scopes Trial, Day 2 )

ad Ignorantiam (aka Appeal to Ignorance)
Description: This is the fallacy of arguing that something is true just because it hasn't been proved false.

Example: "It is true that there are no gods because no one has proved that there is a god."

Atheists notoriously argue that theists have the sole burden of proof and they use that argument to relieve themselves of the burden of proving their own absolute assertion that God doesn't exist.

Example: "Christians have the burden of proof to prove that their god exists. Until they prove it I will remain an atheist."

Another aspect of argumentum ad ignorantiam is the requirement of unnecessary or impossible proof. Example:, "I will believe there is a god when he/she shows up at my house and performs a miracle." or "Unless god shows himself and walks on water so that I can see it happen I refuse to believe in a god."

Petitio Principii (aka Begging the Question or Circular Reasoning:)
Description: The truth of the conclusion is already assumed in the premises.

Example: "We can prove the age fossils in the rocks by the rock strata we find them in".

Example: "God does not exist and all the proofs for the existence of God must be flawed because He does not exist"

ExpositionIt is ironic to note that those that decry belief that the Bible is the Word of God as being ‘circular reasoning’ are guilty of the same.   It is an understandable assumption but flawed nonetheless. 

That is, they attempt to employ logic to prove logic. The very same principle is used when Christians prove a theological point by quoting scripture.


So in short, if someone states that you can’t use the Bible, to prove that the Bible is true, then to be consistent no one can use reason to prove that reason is true and valid either.


Some things are simply axiomatic, that is, self-proving. For example, the thousands of prophecies in scripture, including the 300+ concerning the coming of Christ fulfilled to minute detail is proof in itself.


All humans, being finite have an axiomatic starting point for their worldviews. For the ‘atheist’ it is unbelief, for the Christian, it is belief. The real question is: where do the facts lead? 


Question-Begging Epithet

Description:
 A specific sub-type of begging the question. 

Exposition
With the question-begging epithet, the arguer uses biased (often emotional) language to persuade people rather than using logic and/or evidence

Example“This criminal is charged with violently murdering the innocent victim,”

Example“To be a creationist, you’d have to ignore tons of scientific evidence.”

False Dilemma / False Dichotomy

Description: Two (usually unfavorable) choices are given when in fact there are three (or more) options which may contain the actual truth of the issue.

Example: "Am I right or are you wrong?"

Example: "Are you a Jew or a Muslim?"

Example: "Jesus was either a lying, false prophet or a delusional motivational speaker."


Hegelian Fallacy
Description: It is assumed that the middle position between two extremes must be correct simply because it is the middle position.

 Example: "Some people claim that God is all good, all powerful, all knowing etc while others claim that God doesn't exist at   all. Now it must be reasonable to accept a position in the middle such as that God does exist but is only *very* good, powerful and only knows certain things etc..."

Example: "Communism has failed; Capitalism looks like it is failing. A blend of both must be the answer..."

 Example: Person A hits the car of Person B. The cost of repairs is $500. Person B refuses to pay this much, so the only *reasonable* solution is to compromise and pay only $250. 

 Pseudo-Tolerance

Description: The assumption that "I must respect all opinions" (or some variation) ends the need for further consideration of an issue. (Usually associated with the Relativists Fallacy.)

Example:

Person A:  Abortion is just like murder!
Person B:  I totally disagree. I think a woman can make a choice about what’s in her best interest regarding having a baby. 
Person C:  Well, I think abortion is okay under certain circumstances....
Person D: Look, I respect all of your opinions. I think what’s most important here is to respect each other’s rights to have their own views - and then let it go at that.

Example: 
Person A: "Homosexual marriage is wrong according to the Word of God and nature itself."

Person B: "There is nothing wrong with gay marriage you hateful bigot! We love each other, so that makes it right!"
Person C: "We should just agree t
o disagree on this. Both sides have valid arguments, who's to know what is right or wrong in the end?"

 

This line of reasoning is fallacious because, although it is important to respect and care for the person who presents a position or opinion, it is obviously self-contradictory to then assume that all opinions are on logically equal footing.


 

Relativist Fallacy:
Description: A person rejects a claim by asserting that a claim might be true for others but is not for him/her.

Exposition: Relativism is fallacious because it is self-defeating.

Example: R: "There are no absolute truths because truth is relative to the individual."

              C: "Is that absolutely true?"

Who is to say? (Agnostic Fallacy)
Description: A skeptical attitude with the rhetorical "Who is to say?" question is supposed to "prove" that there is no way to decide whether any position or view is better than another. It assumes that the truth is unknowable.

Exposition: This ‘agnostic' mindset is self-contradictory as it ‘knows' that ‘nothing is knowable'.

Example:  "There may be a God. There might not be. It is impossible to know either way."

Non Sequitur
Description: non sequitur means "it does not follow." This is an argument that does not properly follow from a premise or the conclusion.

Example:  "In the Bible Jesus said he would send us a helper. That helper was Muhammad. Therefore Islam is the one true religion."

Example: "I believe God is love, and I am a very loving person, so therefore I am God."

Example:  "I know why it rained today: because I washed my car."

Ad verecundiam  (aka: Appeal to Authority)
Description/Exposition: The fact that some sort of authority states something does not, in general, serve as evidence that the claim is true. This is especially true if:
(a) the authority is not an expert in the field (acting / sports celebrities)
(b) experts in the field strongly disagree
(c) the authority was joking, drunk, or in some other way not being serious
(d) the authority in question is not named (anonymous authority)

Example: Any theological conclusion made by Richard Dawkins and his ilk. (I'm not being facetious- they just aren't qualified to make their grand doctrinal assertions.)

Reductio ad absurdum  

Description: An argument used to refer to the process of demonstrating that an idea is probably false by first assuming its truth, and then showing how that truth leads to absurd conclusions which cannot possibly be true.

Example:  "There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but can't prove that there aren't any, so shouldn't we be agnostic with respect to fairies?"


Red Herring:
Description: An irrelevant topic is presented (sometimes under pretext of relevancy) in order to divert attention from the original issue. (Usually when they have no valid arguments left)

Example: C: "....and these are some of the reasons why we cannot accept the Darwinian explanation    for the fossil record"

                D: "This is just Creationism in disguise which is pseudo-science and has no place in the classroom."

Example:   C: "...and this conclusively demonstrates the difference between ‘fundamentalist' Christianity and ‘fundamentalist' Islam."

                 A: "Fundamentalism is real reason why there are so many religious wars..."

Example:   C: "Israel has every right to exist in the land and here is the historical evidence."

                  P: "I cannot accept that evidence. I don't believe the Bible either."


Reification:

Description: To regard or treat an abstract concept as if it had concrete or material existence.

Example:Even while Joe was home, his job was calling him, luring him back to the office 

Example: "The evidence speaks for itself" 

Example
: “Creationists say the world was created supernaturally, but science says otherwise.”

Exposition:  
Of course, not all language should be taken literally.  However, when reification is used as part of a logical argument, it is fallacious. The reason for this is that using such a poetic expression is often ambiguous and can obscure important points in a discussion or debate. 

 

.Genetic Fallacy:

Description: This occurs when someone attacks the cause or origin of a belief rather than its substance.

Example:  "The Nazi regime developed the Volkswagon, therefore it is wrong to purchase VW's."

Exposition: Why a person believes something is not relevant to the belief's legitimacy /soundness/ validity of the truth/falsehood of his belief.

  Poisoning the Well
Description: An attempt is made to discredit what a person might later claim by presenting unfavorable information whether by misleading, emotive phrases or loaded assertions. (Sometimes it's simply known as ‘gossip'.)

Example: "Tonight, we have a Christian of the fundamentalist persuasion who actually takes the Bible seriously. He isn't as experienced as the spokesperson for our side of the debate...and here he is!"

Sophistici elenchi (aka Straw Man)
Description: A weak or even untrue misrepresentation of a person's position is refuted instead of the actual position.

Example:  JW:"The Bible says that there is only one God; you trinitarians say there are three Gods, so you are teaching heresy"

C: "The Triunity is not three Gods, but one God comprised of three *persons* as indicated by these scriptures here...."

Example: A: "I consider myself to be a good person, and I am without God, therefore this is proof that God doesn't exist."

C: "It is perfectly possible to live a "good" life without belief in God. No one ever stated otherwise. Now, what is your standard for 'good'.......?"

Ad Populum  (aka Appeal to Popularity)
Description: A proposition is argued to be correct because it is widely held to be true.

Example:  "9 out of 10 prefer this brand of toothpaste, so it must be the best."

Example:  "Most people accept evolution as fact, why not you? Can billions of people be wrong?"

No True Scotsman

Description: In order to dodge an inescapable conclusion about a person or position, it is claimed that the person/position was never a true respresentative.

Example: A: "No Scotsman drinks Jack Daniels."

             R: "But my uncle Angus is from Glasgow and he drinks Jack Daniels."

            A: "Then your uncle Angus is no true Scotsman!"

Example: A: "Atheists don't kill anyone because they have no good reason to do so."

          C: "Stalin and Mao were atheists and they killed millions of people."

          A: "Then Stalin and Mao were No True Atheists."

Exposition: Sometimes, when the media report that a "Christian" has done something horrendous (eg mass murder) and Christians denounce that person as being a true Christian, ‘atheists' claim that this is an example of the ‘No True Scotsman' fallacy. While on the surface this may seem to be the case, there is a huge problem with this claim: For example, while there are no *absolute*  moral/ethical restrictions or standards on the ‘atheist' to commit murder. (within a *consistent* 'atheistic paradigm other than the law of the land and whether they can get away with it), for Christians, we are held to an absolute standard as clearly delineated in scripture, so if anyone *unrepentantly* and audaciously does something contrary to the Word of God, then this is a patent indicator that this person isn't a Christian. As one should be able to tell, this is a patent distinction.

Equivocation:
Description: The same term or word is used which has two or more different meanings (dependent on context).

Example: A Darwinist claims that Evolution has been proven and points to different shapes of beaks or varieties of dog.

Exposition: This, however, is micro-evolution which are changes within kinds, but Darwinists often extrapolate this to mean macro-evolution which are changes from one species to another. Eg cow to whale or ape-like creature to man.

Example: A: "Since fundamentalist Muslims have no problem killing people, the fundamentalist Christians must be the same."

Ad Hominem

Description: Instead of addressing the issue being discussed, the character of the person is mocked.

Example: H: "I believe that all faiths are equally valid"

              C: "Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.' Therefore, you and Jesus can't both be correct."

              H: "You're a loony to believe that!"

Circumstantial Ad Hominem

Description: In some cases, this fallacy involves substituting an attack on a person's circumstances (such as the person's religion, political affiliation, ethnic background, etc.) as opposed to the contents of their argument itself.

Example: "You are only pro-life because you are a Christian so we can disregard any evidence you have provided."

Exposition: Circumstantial ad Hominem is fallacious because a person's interests and circumstances have no bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim being made. While a person's interests will provide them with motives to support certain claims, the claims stand or fall on their own merits and proofs provided.

Ad Hominem Tu Quoque

Description: This is an attempt to justify and wrong action or evidence etc because others do it also.

Example: "So what if I cheat on my taxes; Some ultra-rich people do it too, why shouldn't I?"

Example: "How dare you say that I am a sinner? I'm no worse than any Christian."

post hoc, ergo propter hoc ("after this, therefore because of this")

-- This might also be described as the causality fallacy: Event Y follows from Event X, so one automatically concludes that X caused Y.  (A young man walks by a neighbor's house and sees a cat scurrying away; he looks up and sees a giant hole in the window. The hole, he infers, must have been caused by the cat, who fell through the pane. The inference is hasty, because the hole might have been caused by any number of things -- a baseball that missed a friend's glove and flew over his head; young brothers fighting inside and accidentally smashing the window, etc.).

The Masked Man Fallacy (Illicit Substitution of Identities)
Description: An assumption is made that because something is known under one perspective, it must also be known the same way under a different perspective.
Example:"Thousands of years ago some people believed lightning, rain and droughts were caused by a/the god(s). This has been disproved by science. Therefore God played no role in the creation of the Universe."

Argumentum e Silentio (a.k.a. Argument from silence)
Description: It is assumed that if little or no evidence or argument in support of a position is given, the opposite must be true.

Example:"Jesus never outright said that He is God, therefore He is not."

Example:J: Where are my car keys?
             B: (says nothing)
             J: I KNEW you took them!
Example:"The word 'rapture' isn't in the Bible therefore the doctrine is false.'

Example:"Absence of evidence IS evidence of absence"

Example: "I have never seen God or evidence for Him, therefore He doesn't exist!"

 


Argumentum ad Novitam. (aka ‘Chronological snobbery')

Description: A fallacy of asserting that something is more correct simply because it is new or newer than something else. Or that something is better because it is newer. This fallacy is the opposite of the "argumentum ad antiquitam" fallacy. (Something is better because it is older.)

Example: "The Bible was written thousands of years ago, therefore it is inferior to our modern way of thinking today."

Dicto simpliciter (sweeping generalization)

Description: This is the fallacy of making a stereotypical statement and expecting it to be true of every specific case

 Example: "The majority of believers in god are religious, therefore, the concept of god is a completely religious idea. And we all know how harmful religion can be."

Exposition: The problem is that even if the ‘sweeping statement' may be true (The majority of believers in god are "religious"), but it is not necessarily true for every member of the group in question (there are some people who believe in God who aren't religious i.e. Christians and there are some who are religious who don't believe in a god e.g. many Darwinists).

Appeal to Numbers

Description/Exposition: Similar to ad populum, this fallacy is committed when someone tries to refer to the results of polls or surveys in an attempt to show that their viewpoint is valid because a certain percentage of the public agrees with them. While often serving a purpose in speeches and presentations, appealing to numbers is however incapable of proving anything.

Example: "A recent survey showed that 65% of the people in Chicago are Atheist. This proves that there is no such thing as God."

Example: "Another recent survey showed that 70% of the people in Chicago have IQ's lower than 12. This proves that atheists are all unintelligent."

Jargonizing / Category fallacy.

Description: Similar to ad hominem this fallacy is to replace a valid argument with name calling or putting the position that you disagree with in a category which is ludicrous.

Example: ‘Faith in God is "irrational" and "antiquated", religious belief "mythology" or "fairy tales", equated with "Santa" etc.'

Exposition: Very rarely are these words given definitions (probably because, by definition, e.g., Jesus and Santa Claus can't be equated), and even more rarely is a case made for why these different terms are synonymous. Instead, the words are thrown around carelessly in order to taint the associations one has with faith. If you call faith irrational or call Creationism pseudoscience often enough people start to associate the two with each other, even absent any good reason to do so.

 

The fallacy of the unattainable office.

Description: This fallacy is commonly found amongst ‘atheists' that claim "God doesn't exist because if he did exist, he would have done things differently".  

Example: RD: " God can't exist because if He did, He would have made fewer species"

Example: G: "God can't exist because if He did, there would be less suffering in the world."

Exposition: The problem with all these types of claims is that they assume that if (an omniscient, omnipotent)  God existed, he would create the world exactly as (limited in intellect and power) atheists would create. These are philosophical arguments and not scientific. This is the ‘fallacy of the unattainable office' because God's office is unattainable for humans, and thus it's fallacious for us to disbelieve in Him because we (due to our lack of Godlike perspective) disagree with the way He exercises that office.

Disjunctive Syllogism (aka Denying a Conjunct)

Description: An assumption is made that two (or more) positions are mutually exclusive when in fact they harmonise.

Example: 1) Either God is Sovereign or man has free will.

              2) God is indeed Sovereign, therefore

              3) Freewill doesn't exist.

Exposition: In the above example, harmonization can be shown (and thusly demonstrating the fallaciousness of the above argument) by pointing out that for God has allowed freewill as a Sovereign decision.

Argumentum ad Ignorantium (aka Appeal to Ignorance)

Description: An appeal to ignorance is when one cites (apparent) lack of evidence against or for a position.

Example: There is no evidence that God exists, therefore God doesn't exist.

Example: There is no evidence that God doesn't exist, therefore God exists.

Exposition: Such reasoning is fallacious (and in the first example, factually incorrect) because the person making the argument cannot possess all the available evidence in the universe in order to make the absolute claim. Furthermore, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

 

Loaded Question

Description: This is a question phrased in such a way that it is impossible to answer without coming across as being wrong. Similar to the strawman fallacy since it misrepresents the true position, it is also a form of the red herring fallacy as it can be used to divert the topic.

Example: "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?"

Example: "So you are pro-Israel..why don't you want the Palestinians to live in their land?"

Naturalistic fallacy

Description: This is the assumption that something ‘ought to be' based on what is currently the norm.

Example: "Feeling envy and hate is natural, therefore there is nothing wrong with hate or envy"

Argument from Personal Incredulity

Description: Something is assumed to be incorrect on the basis that the person who raises the objection cannot personally understand it.

Example: "Quantum Physics seems needlessly complicated so it sounds all made up to me."

Example: "How could Jesus rise from the dead? I don't knowanyone that has risen from the dead. The dead don't naturally rise from the dead. I don't understand how God could casuse anyone to rise from the dead, therefore it's probably not true."


One can read a larger sample of logical fallacies here: http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy

 


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