Saturday, April 10, 2010

99.9% of Christian Apologestics Rely on Fallacies

99.9% of Christian Apologetics Rely on Fallacies

Ninety-nine point nine percent of Christian apologetics relies on fallacies may be a bold statement, but if you’ve read any amount of Christian apologetics you’ll immediately see how the list of following fallacies is not just commonly employed but the main staple basis and foundation for devotional defenses for belief in the supernatural. No matter which faith, it would seem, that the bellow fallacies are the main stratagem when arguing for belief in God, or for providing evidence, or for supporting the theist claims.

Summarizing the Norton Field Guide to Writing (2009) section on strategies for supporting your arguments we find that: Fallacies are arguments that involve faulty reasoning. Furthermore, the Norton editors instruct that it’s important to avoid fallacies in your writing because they often seem plausible but are usually unfair or inaccurate and make reasonable discussion difficult. Next, on pages 296 through 298 we find a list of the main forms of fallacies used when arguing. The types of common fallacies which should be avoided are as follows:

·       Ad hominem arguments attack someone’s character rather than addressing the issues. (Ad hominem is Latin for “to the man.”) It is an especially common fallacy in political discourse and elsewhere…
·       Bandwagon appeals argue that because others think or do something, we should, too.
·       Begging the question is a circular argument. It assumes as a given what is trying to be proved, essentially supporting an assertion with the assertion itself. Consider this statement: “Affirmative action can never be fair or just because you cannot remedy one injustice by committing another.” This statement begs the question because to prove that affirmative action is unjust, it assumes that it is an injustice.
·       Either-or arguments, also called false dilemmas, are oversimplifications. Either-or arguments assert that there can be only two possible positions on a complex issue.
·       False analogies compare things that resemble each other in some ways but not in the most important respects.
·       Faulty causality, also known as post hoc, ergo propter hoc (Latin for “after this, therefore because of this”), assumes that because one event followed another, the first event caused the second…
·       Hasty generalizations are conclusions based on insufficient or inappropriately qualified evidence.
·       Slippery slope arguments assert that one event will inevitably lead to another, often cataclysmic event without presenting evidence that such a chain of causes and effects will in fact take place.

Christian apologists tend to rely on fallacies so regularly probably because of the distinct lack of evidence to back up their claims, but also, as has been my experience, because many Christians don’t realize they’re making them in the first place. Understandably, everybody who exercises a little rhetoric will probably have a few fallacies in their arguments, since sometimes it is easier to bypass a difficult area of explanation by skipping over it, but in general it’s a bad idea to rely too much on fallacies. It’s better to try and avoid making them on a regular basis, especially when engaging in any debate you want to qualify as dependable or true.

As expected, we’ve all heard the Christian schema of why we ought to believe. In their attempts to convinces us, they often fall back on fallacious arguments, often saying something along the lines that evolution is false therefore the Bible is true, or because the Bible is true evolution is false. Other times we have heard the claim because the Bible is true, and God created it all, evolution is true, and therefore proof of God’s existence. Or how about, you can’t be moral without religion; ever heard that one? Or if you don’t believe in Jesus and ask him for forgiveness you’ll go to hell. God is all loving (never mind the contradiction). Or the rapture is definitely coming. Or that God hears your prayers. Or that you go to paradise in heaven after you die. Or because you can’t prove human consciousness then that’s evidence for God. Or because the universe exists something must have created it, therefore proof that God must exist. All of these claims are unfounded, therefore when Christians wish to support their devotional beliefs they turn to the slippery slopes of fallacy packed professions and mind-boggling truth claims, hoping you won’t notice their sufficient lack of evidence whatsoever.

Everything from Pascal’s wager to Paley’s watch on the beach; from William Lain Craig’s Kalām Cosmological argument to Dinesh D’Souza’s mocking the intellectual merit of scientists like Richard Dawkin’s who criticize religion, stating that biologists couldn’t possibly know any better when it comes to religion and that this “caricature” of religion portrayed by its critics is what happens when you let biologists out of the lab (because they demand theologians offer up evidence without really understanding any of the above apologetic theological arguments). All these are, in actuality, intractable fallacies.

If truth be told, skeptics and atheists have understood these religious arguments, perhaps even better than those who would use them as support, at least since the time they started being proffered as support for the belief in God. Indeed, many critics of religion have pragmatically attacked these flawed and fallacy driven claims by utilizing fanciful polemic to show how inadequate they actually are. Think, for instance, of Bertrand Russell’s celestial teapot, a fine example if there ever was one. Also, the flying spaghetti monster and the existence of invisible pink unicorns, a couple other pieces of reverse engineering ingenuity. So next time you read some Christian or religious apologetics, look for how habitually they rely on fallacies to form the basis of their arguments and how frequently they lack well supported and thought out arguments in the first place.

Advocatus Atheist

Advocatus Atheist