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.

7 comments:

  1. I guess we cannot expect religious believers to rely on logical arguments, since the whole premise of most religions is too simply accept the dogma by faith. Plus, once the believers even doubt the dogma, they will be reminded right away that it's Satan/the Devil etc at work, or the fear of Hell will scare them off right away. It's a very effective system to prevent anyone from breaking free of the religion once they have been indoctrinated.

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  2. warforscience-

    True, and true. Dogma often blind, or at least limits, what believers can discern because they are restricted by conventional creeds or regulated doctrines.

    The second part, I would add, is that most Christian apologists are not professionals in any given field they criticize, thus lending to their lack of ability to offer up proper refuations, and also lending to their weakness of having to rely on fallacy driven arguments.

    That is assuming, of course, that they've actually looked at the arguments they are criticizing instead of just attacking them with a sort of dogmatic righteousness and fundamental zeal. The third point I would stress, is that, many apologists have not really looked into the things they are dismissing. Therefore their faith-based arguments over and over again reflect this form of ignorance.

    Not all Christians are naive, I am just speaking generally, since it was my experience as a fundamentalist that we were weekly brainwashed to think anything too liberal or too foreward thinking was the work of the devil and that the modern world was a cancer, and that things like science and skepticism (free thinking) were negative influences which, if not kept in check, would drive us to the dark side and away from Christ.

    And you'd be horrified at how many people just eat up this propoganda without ever checking it. Another reason being an advocate for reasonis so important. Thanks for bringing your thoughts to the discussion!

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  3. I know Chuck Norris can kick my ass, but a lion's ass?

    I know the idea is facetious, but that sort of points to the difference between free thought and religous faith in my view.

    I know someone trained in the martial arts can kill another perason with his or her bare fists. Science has documented how much damage a well trained body can dish out against another human. Even against wood and brick! I can safely conclude that Chuck Norris could probably kill me with his bare fists if he wanted to.

    But then I think about a lion. Humans are at the top of the food chain because of our intellect and use of tools. But put us head to head or one to one against most wild animals and we're toast. That would probably include Chuck Norris.

    Free inquiry allows me to conclude by using data that Chuck is physically superior to me and can kick my ass. Therefore, I won't step in the way of his cowboy boots. But, that same weighting of the facts strongly suggest that Chuck had better not get in the way of that lion's paws.

    To have honest confidence that Chuck would likely come from an attitude of faith, not a survey of the facts.

    As to the use of semantics, I do notice that the Bible seems to demote "the wisdom of men". God's foolishness is wiser than the wisdom of men. That notion seems to program you into thinking that when a religious leader that you trust says something in the name of God, it's wiser and more valid than anything that comes from any mere mortal who doesn't have the inspiration of God-- no matter how much common sense the "mere" mortal may express.

    And as for the giraffe not having a track record like Jesus, -- no prophesies, faithful followers unto death, and the like-- people should be aware of the psychological research where a UFO cult was infiltrated by three social psychologists. They found that once someone is commited to a movement, they will tend to stick with it, even if the prophesies blatantly fail. They rationalize a new meaning for their failed prophesy and dig in even more. And most amazing of all, groups start to proselytize in the face of failed prophesy so that they may grow their numbers!!!

    I dunno. The Great Commission starts to sound a little dubious to me in light of that research. That's just me . . .

    Also, Mohammad has at least 1 billion followers. It's the second largest religion and Christianity doesn't have a very large lead. What prophesies have been foretold or fulfilled about Mohammad? Also, the Jews (at large) do not interpret any of the scriptures to be prophetic in the ways that Christians do. The prophesies are imagined and stretched interpretations of Jewish scriptures from their view. I think if one would dig into this idea deeply enough, one may find the Jewish viewpoint concerning their own scripture text to be rather sound-- at least on that point.

    :D

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  4. Just to make it clear, warforscience is actually me - I've changed my blog address to Wordpress.com, and I was trying to use OpenID for comments in Blogger. Doesn't work well, though.

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  5. So how do you like Worpress? Lots of people tell me I should switch over to it, but Blogger suits me just fine. What's your take on the Wordpress vs. Blogger thing? Can you give me any suggestions?

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  6. For me, I certainly think Wordpress has a much better and more customizable dashboard, but it's also slightly more complex. Plus, Wordpress also gives you more control over your blog, such as editing comments, blocking IPs and spam, and so on - you'll need to try it out to understand it.

    I've also heard that Wordpress is also much better in SEO (Search engine optimization) than Blogger, for reasons I'm not very sure of. Wordpress blogs also tend to conform to W3C web standards, which is better in creating a better web experience, and I've heard that Interent browsers will be able to load the webpage faster if it has less errors. Compare your blog on Blogger and mine on Wordpress.

    The most apparent drawbacks for Wordpress is that Javascript and videos aren't allowed (except for some sites like Youtube), and you can't use custom themes. You'll need to pay to get these features.

    Despite all these, I still feel that Wordpress much better to work with. But it's your choice, anyway.

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  7. I think I'll stick with blogger for now. Especially because I am using ad sense and Amazon affiliate which is so easy here, as Blogger belongs to Google.

    Also, I find that with some tinkering I can pretty much format it anyway I like... and so I don't think I'll worry about a switch over any time soon.

    Thanks for the info though. It's always good to have options.

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