The Logical Fallacy: A Failure In Logic
Give A Good Reason
An important tool in apologetics is the study of logic and reason. Today we’ll be specifically talking about logical fallacies. We all have been guilty of using them but by knowing what they are, it will help us make our case for discussion -and defense- more concise and cogent. I have made a list below of the more popular ones that I have seen people use. There are many others but starting with these will get you going in the right direction and on your way.
- Red Herring – is the attempt by the speaker to distract attention away from the topic at hand by inserting another one that is unrelated. Example: If you are having a discussion/debate about how factual macro evolution is, and your subject out of the Blue starts ragging on the “mean and cruel God” of the Old Testament, that won’t help his/her case for evolution.
- Strawman – is simply the misrepresentation of one’s position and attacking that instead of the real position. Example: Jehovah’s witnesses are notorious in making arguments against the Trinity by attacking Modalism instead; most unknowingly do so. A common question asked is “if Jesus were God, then who did he pray to in the garden etc?” Trinitarians don’t believe that Jesus is the same person as the Father (like Modalists do) but yet is fully God as are the persons of the Father and the Holy Spirit.
- Argumentum Ad Populum – is also called appeal to majority where someone uses numbers (of adherents to a position) as a sole basis of verification to a proposition. Example: Islam is true because it is the fastest growing religion in the world.
- Genetic Fallacy – is making a conclusion (on someone or something) based solely on the origins rather than its meaning and context. Example: “You’re a Christian only because you were raised in a Christian home.”
- Ad Hominem – is attacking the person (such as calling into question the character of the individual) instead of the argument. Example: “You reject evolution because you’re a Christian and Christians don’t like science”.
- Guilt By Association – is making the assertion that because two things share a property they are the same. Example: “Since you are a Bible believing creationist, you believe the earth is 6000 years old”.
- Appeal To Authority – is where a claim is deemed true because of the authority of a person that is saying it. Example: “The Bible is false because Bart D. Ehrman said so”.
- Cherry Picking – is selectively presenting certain information while suppressing other data of the same topic. Example: I often see Arians cite the passages of scripture where Jesus makes his claims of being human (Son Of Man) while not addressing his claims to being deity (Son Of God).
- False Dichotomy – is when someone gives two alternative statements which are asserted as the only two options/answers, when in fact there are others. Example: “If you don’t agree with me then you don’t want to know the truth.”
- Non Sequitur – is an argument that has a conclusion which does not follow the premise of the argument. Example: “Since you subscribe to the Big Bang Theory, you believe in evolution.”