The John W. Loftus Closet of Logical Fallacies

 

 

John W. Loftus, carpet cleaner and pool player from Angola, Indiana, is author of an anti-Christian tome called From Minister to Honest Doubter.  He claims to be an expert at logical arguments.  But when he

 

(1. claims his opponents use logical fallacies, and fails to prove it, and

(2. overlooks his own arguments, which are rife with logical fallacies,

 

... is he not advocating a double standard?

 

Loftus’ remarks are in dark red:

 


June 10th 2005, 04:12 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1065942&postcount=69

Is there such a thing as an honest doubter?

I teach logic classes and your answers are filled with red herrings, straw men, oversimplifications, and you simply miss my points far too often.

 

June 29th 2005, 05:38 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1092492&postcount=54

Where is God in Infinite SPACE?

As a philosophy instructor I can state and argue convincingly on behalf of what my opponent's may think. I do that, and then trash their argument.

 

June 30th 2005, 02:50 AM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1093244&postcount=60

Where is God in Infinite SPACE?

be it known that I teach lawyers how to think in my classes, along with detectives, and teachers.

 

 

The following are logical fallacies that Mr. Loftus routinely uses in his arguments:

 

 

Ad hominem

From http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/fallacy.htm#Ad%20Hominem:

 

You commit this fallacy if you make an irrelevant attack on the arguer and suggest that this attack undermines the argument itself. It is a form of the Genetic Fallacy.


Example:

 

What she says about Johannes Kepler's astronomy of the 1600's must be just so much garbage. Do you realize she's only fourteen years old?

 

This attack may undermine the arguer's credibility as a scientific authority, but it does not undermine her reasoning. That reasoning should stand or fall on the scientific evidence, not on the arguer's age or anything else about her personally.

 

If the fallacious reasoner points out irrelevant circumstances that the reasoner is in, the fallacy is a circumstantial ad hominem. Tu Quoque and Two Wrongs Make a Right are other types of the ad hominem fallacy.

 

The major difficulty with labeling a piece of reasoning as an ad hominem fallacy is deciding whether the personal attack is relevant. For example, attacks on a person for their actually immoral sexual conduct are irrelevant to the quality of their mathematical reasoning, but they are relevant to arguments promoting the person for a leadership position in the church. Unfortunately, many attacks are not so easy to classify, such as an attack pointing out that the candidate for church leadership, while in the tenth grade, intentionally tripped a fellow student and broke his collar bone.

 

Copious examples by Loftus are documented at John W. Loftus: “This is Who I Am” and at

The John W. Loftus Hall of High Level Discussion.

 

Loftus acknowledges:

 

September 12th 2005 , 01:17 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1193571&postcount=1

Informal Fallacies Ain't Always So....

If out of frustration I call someone “stupid” then I'm accused of some form of Ad Hominem, attacking the person.

 

 

Proverbs 10:18
He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool.

 

 

Matthew 15:19
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

 

 

Mark 7:21-23

21For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.' “

 

 

Romans 1:28-32

    28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

 

 

 

Ad populum / Appeal to the People

From http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/fallacy.htm#Appeal%20to%20the%20People:

 

If you suggest too strongly that someone's claim or argument is correct simply because it's what most everyone believes, then you've committed the fallacy of appeal to the people. Similarly, if you suggest too strongly that someone's claim or argument is mistaken simply because it's not what most everyone believes, then you've also committed the fallacy. Agreement with popular opinion is not necessarily a reliable sign of truth, and deviation from popular opinion is not necessarily a reliable sign of error, but if you assume it is and do so with enthusiasm, then you're guilty of committing this fallacy. It is also called mob appeal, appeal to the gallery, argument from popularity, and argumentum ad populum. The 'too strongly' is important in the description of the fallacy because what most everyone believes is, for that reason, somewhat likely to be true, all things considered. However, the fallacy occurs when this degree of support is overestimated.

Example:

You should turn to channel 6. It's the most watched channel this year.

 

This is fallacious because of its implicitly accepting the questionable premise that the most watched channel this year is, for that reason alone, the best channel for you.

 

August 3rd 2005 , 07:21 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1138042&postcount=36

Submit Your Candidates for August Screwballs of the Month

If people like me are screwballs for thinking the way we do, then why is Christianity losing the debate in the marketplace of ideas?

 

Even if the polls say Christianity is growing in some parts of the world, Christianity is losing miserably over-all, and you know it. Moreover, you would be laughed at for saying most of the things you are saying here by most all of the world!

I guess most of the world is just stupid, and the stupidity of the world is growing and growing and growing, while the numbers of Christians who have the superior knowledge of the truth is shrinking and shrinking by every comparison.


Most of the world just cannot seem to grasp the truths that you offer, can they?

 

But know that you are losing, and you will lose, eventually, even if there will forever be pockets of every major religion to the end human history.

 

 

August 3rd 2005 , 07:40 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1138073&postcount=37

Response posted by “A Cup of Mystery”:

 

John, Christianity may or may not be “losing the debate in the marketplace of ideas,” but that's not the point: the point is which is true. Frankly, as a non-Christian Theist, I have areas that I agree with you, but I also have areas where I agree with the Christians in this debate--and it seems to me that appealing to the “marketplace of ideas” is a demonstration of the ad populum fallacy.

 

... That's part of the problem, John--you strike me as one who is not an atheist for its own sake, but because atheism is opposed to Christianity. I've frequently noticed that those who attatch [sic] to a position simply to oppose another position cannot build on their own position--they spend far too much time tearing down the work of others to build on their own foundation.

Which also partially answers one of the first questions you asked here on TWeb--”Is there such a thing as honest doubt?” John, I sumbit [sic] to you that there may or may not be something that can be described as “honest doubt”--but I also submit to you that your behavior does not demonstrate it.

 

Loftus acknowledges:

 

September 12th 2005, 01:17 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1193571&postcount=1

Informal Fallacies Ain't Always So....

For instance, if I say most all people or scholars think otherwise, someone may label that as Ad Populum, appealing to the the people, or Ad Verecundiam, appealing to authority.

 

Appeal to authority

 

From http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/fallacy.htm#Appeal%20to%20Authority:

 

You appeal to authority if you back up your reasoning by saying that it is supported by what some authority says on the subject. Most reasoning of this kind is not fallacious. However, it is fallacious whenever the authority appealed to is not really an authority in this subject, when the authority cannot be trusted to tell the truth, when authorities disagree on this subject (except for the occasional lone wolf), when the reasoner misquotes the authority, and so forth. Although spotting a fallacious appeal to authority often requires some background knowledge about the subject or the authority, in brief it can be said that it is fallacious to accept the word of a supposed authority when we should be suspicious.


Example:

You can believe the moon is covered with dust because the president of our neighborhood association said so, and he should know.

 

This is a fallacious appeal to authority because, although the president is an authority on many neighborhood matters, he is no authority on the composition of the moon. It would be better to appeal to some astronomer or geologist. If you place too much trust in expert opinion and overlook any possibility that experts talking in their own field of expertise make mistakes, too, then you also commit the fallacy of appeal to authority.


Example:

Of course she's guilty of the crime. The police arrested her, didn't they? And they're experts when it comes to crime.

 

 

From http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-authority.html:

 

An Appeal to Authority is a fallacy with the following form:

 

Person A is (claimed to be) an authority on subject S.

Person A makes claim C about subject S.

Therefore, C is true.

 

This fallacy is committed when the person in question is not a legitimate authority on the subject. More formally, if person A is not qualified to make reliable claims in subject S, then the argument will be fallacious.

 

This sort of reasoning is fallacious when the person in question is not an expert. In such cases the reasoning is flawed because the fact that an unqualified person makes a claim does not provide any justification for the claim. The claim could be true, but the fact that an unqualified person made the claim does not provide any rational reason to accept the claim as true.

 

 

September 12th 2005, 01:17 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1193571&postcount=1

Informal Fallacies Ain't Always So....

What needs to be understood is that most all of the great philosophers have committed these fallacies within their best arguments!

 

 

July 20th 2005 , 09:51 PM http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1122774&postcount=27

Four conceptual problems with an incarnate God that have never been solved.

For those of you who think that these four conceptual problems are “not a problem at all” and can be easily dismissed with the wave of a hand, please note that one of your own Christian Philosophers agreed that these were indeed four big problems, and wrote a book length treatment about such things. After much debate and discussion over the nature of his claims in his book he left academia and is now giving lectures to big companies on motivation and salesmanship.

Why did he do this?

He went after the money, I suppose.

But he couldn't answer the continued criticisms of his claims in that book. So it was just easier to leave academia.

His name?

Thomas Morris.

His book, The Logic of God Incarnate.

 


July 20th 2005 , 10:08 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1122794&postcount=29

Four conceptual problems with an incarnate God that have never been solved.

Response posted by “Mountain Man”:

And this appeal to authority is supposed to be convincing, is it? Frankly, I've never heard of the guy or his book so forgive me if I'm not bowled over by the mere mention of them.

 

 

July 21st 2005 , 08:33 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1124456&postcount=32

Four conceptual problems with an incarnate God that have never been solved.

You are funny. In the first place, you haven't a clue what the fallacy of “appeal to authority” is, now do you? It's appealing to someone who isn't an authority in the specified field which he is being quoted, or appealing to a layman.

And then you respond by admitting you are ignorant about who Thomas Morris is?

You are funny. What a laugh--sorry.

 

 

July 22nd 2005, 04:37 PM http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1125447&postcount=38

Four conceptual problems with an incarnate God that have never been solved.

Response posted by “Mountain Man”:

Actually, it goes quite beyond that. An appeal to authority is when one attempts to settle a debate by saying nothing more than, “Because Person X believes Y, Y must be true.” This of course ignores the fact that Person X could be wrong even if they are a recognized authority. If you're going to cite an authority then at least be prepared to defend their opinions.

More to the point, just because this Thomas Morris character had difficulty defending his concept of the trinity does not mean the concept of the trinity is indefensible.

 

 

July 23rd 2005 , 04:09 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1126404&postcount=39

Four conceptual problems with an incarnate God that have never been solved.

 

An appeal to authority is when one attempts to settle a debate by saying nothing more than, “Because Person X believes Y, Y must be true.”

 


When, I say, when, have I ever done that, or thought that? You're stupid.

 

 

July 23rd 2005 , 04:23 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1126420&postcount=40

Four conceptual problems with an incarnate God that have never been solved.

Response posted by “Mountain Man”:

Back on page 2 when you wrote: http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1122774&postcount=27

 

For those of you who think that these four conceptual problems are “not a problem at all” and can be easily dismissed with the wave of a hand, please note that one of your own Christian Philosophers agreed that these were indeed four big problems, and wrote a book length treatment about such things. After much debate and discussion over the nature of his claims in his book he left academia and is now giving lectures to big companies on motivation and salesmanship.

Why did he do this?

He went after the money, I suppose.

But he couldn't answer the continued criticisms of his claims in that book. So it was just easier to leave academia.

His name?

Thomas Morris.

His book, The Logic of God Incarnate.

 

 

July 23rd 2005 , 06:12 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1126500&postcount=41

Four conceptual problems with an incarnate God that have never been solved.

I asked myself why you write such stupid things. I really don't think that you're stupid--really. But I asked myself what would make you write as if you were stupid. That is, what is there here that makes you say stupid things?

 

 

 

 

If you want a hamburger, who is better qualified: a chef, or a plumber?  If you want your car repaired, who is better qualified to fix it: a mechanic, or a janitor?  Who is better qualified to animate a cartoon: an animator, or Michael Eisner?

 

When John W. Loftus evaluates history, does he heed an historian?  No, he heeds philosophers.  In addressing the topic of “Can a Historical Religion Be Believed?” at http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1096093&postcount=1 and “Is there such a thing as an honest doubter?at http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1063137&postcount=62

he cites Gotthold Lessing, Soren Kierkegaard, C. Stephen Evans and Dr. James Sennett.  They are philosophers.  They are not historians.

 

Loftus does cite German historian Leopold Von Ranke, who according to Merriam-Webster's Biographical Dictionary was “a founder of the modern school of history; champion of objective writing based on source material rather than on legend and tradition.”  But Loftus ignores Ranke’s approach in favor his own opinion that “most all modern historians think this is impossible to do,” a position he substantiates only with two historians who disregard the historical evidence itself.

 

*  *  *

 

In the Christian paradigm, Jesus Christ is the authority:

 

 

 

Matthew 28:18
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

 

 

Mark 2:10
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . .” He said to the paralytic,

 

 

Luke 5:24
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins....” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

 

 

John 10:18
No one
takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

 

 

John 17:2
“Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.

 

 

Colossians 2:10
and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.

 

 

Ephesians 1:9-10

9And he[a] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

 

 

Ephesians 1:22
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,

 

 

Ephesians 4:15
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

 

 

Colossians 1:15-20

    15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

 

 

Hebrews 12:2
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

 

 

But notice the authority John W. Loftus to whom he makes his appeal:

 

July 30th 2005, 02:08 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1133487&postcount=46

Parting Thoughts From Doubting John
Then I read a book by Hal Lindsey called The Late Great Planet Earth. It was very popular treatment of end time Bible predictions along with events around the world that seemed to confirm that the end time and Jesus’ return to the earth was very imminent. So I once again thought to myself at the time, “It’s true! Christianity is true! And Jesus may return any day now.”

 

In effect, Loftus ignores the authority of the Scriptures and of Jesus Christ, who regard end times prophecy as follows:

 

 

Ecclesiastes 8:7
Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come?

 

 

Matthew 24:35-37

35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

    36”No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[a] but only the Father. 37As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

 

 

Matthew 24:44
So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

 

 

Mark 13:31-33

31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

32”No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Be on guard! Be alert[a]! You do not know when that time will come.

 

 

Luke 12:40
You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

 

 

So, when Loftus states,

 

Furthermore, Jesus has not yet returned to earth, contrary to Hal Lindsey’s strong indications. I’ve since concluded that I believed in the Christian faith for initial reasons that were just inadequate—reasons that I have subsequently come to reject.

 

Who does he blame?  Certainly not himself, for ignoring what Jesus and what He said about His return.

 

Now as we read the following, upon whom does Loftus place his faith:  Francis Schaeffer, or Jesus Christ?

 

July 30th 2005, 02:08 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1133487&postcount=46

Parting Thoughts From Doubting John

When I first entered a Christian College, a friend told me about Francis Schaeffer’s books, and so I began reading them. I began with True Spirituality, then The God Who Is There, Genesis In Space and Time, Escape From Reason, and also He Is There And He Is Not Silent. With each of his books that I read my faith was confirmed even more than before. I had every reason to believe, especially since Schaeffer’s books were philosophical. There was no reason not to believe. It was true! It was true! It was true!

 

 

 

Acts 3:16
By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.

 

 

Acts 20:21
I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

 

 

Romans 3:21-23

    21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

 

 

Galatians 2:16
know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

 

 

Galatians 3:22
But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

 

 

1 Timothy 3:13
Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

 

 

2 Timothy 3:15
and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

 

 

Hebrews 12:2
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

 

1 John 5:1
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.

 

 

 

 

Appeal to Consequence

From http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/fallacy.htm#Appeal%20to%20Consequence:

 

Arguing that a belief is false because it implies something you'd rather not believe. Also called Argumentum Ad Consequentiam.

Example:

That can't be Senator Smith there in the videotape going into her apartment. If it were, he'd be a liar about not knowing her. He's not the kind of man who would lie. He's a member of my congregation.

 

Smith may or may not be the person in that videotape, but this kind of arguing should not convince us that it's someone else in the videotape.

 

July 30th 2005 , 02:08 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1133487&postcount=46

Parting Thoughts From Doubting John

Of course, since I now reject Christianity, it appears to me that the skeptical people who investigated Christianity and then accepted it, made personal decisions based on judgments about historical questions that I disagree with. Some of these people probably read the “wrong” books.

 

 

Appeal to Emotions / Appeal to Pity

From http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/fallacy.htm#Appeal%20to%20Emotions:

 

You commit the fallacy of appeal to emotions when someone's appeal to you to accept their claim is accepted merely because the appeal arouses your feelings of anger, fear, grief, love, outrage, pity, pride, sexuality, sympathy, relief, and so forth. Example of appeal to relief from grief:

 

There is nothing wrong with using emotions when you argue, but it's a mistake to use emotions as the key premises or as tools to downplay relevant information.  Regarding the fallacy of appeal to pity, it is proper to pity people who have had misfortunes, but if as the person's history instructor you accept Max's claim that he earned an A on the history quiz because he broke his wrist while playing in your college's last basketball game, then you've committed the fallacy of appeal to pity. However, if you realize he didn't earn the A, but nevertheless you still give him an A, then you have not committed the fallacy, but you may have acted improperly.

 

 

June 30th 2005 , 02:50 AM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1093244&postcount=60

Where is God in Infinite SPACE?

My wife was just diagnosed with cancer today. It was a shock to us both. We do not have health insurance--couldn't afford it (we're among that class of people). Now we face $40,000-$50,000 in medical bills without the hope of prolonging her life very far. We don't know how to get that money, but we're going through the procedures anyway. Frankly I don't give a damn about any of your arguments right now. But here's what I'll tell you. If she dies from this in a few short years I'll be an atheist for the rest of my life. Let God show me here and now, and I'll forever believe in him. This is not a threat. It's how I fell deep inside. It's not an argument. It's just who I am.

Will any of you pray for her complete healing? She's 45 years old, and we are as happy together as any other couple I've ever known in all of my years. Will any of you say that God will answer your prayers? Of course you won't. Jesus makes it sound simple, “just say to this mountain move over there and it will be done.” Well, where's your faith then? Believe it with regard to her cancer. Put a post telling everyone who reads this that you really believe God will heal her. Go ahead. He'll do it for you, won't he? I dare you. But if he doesn't, then will you also agree to fork over all of your life's savings to me so that her medical bills will be paid? Now that's faith. Put it in writing too. Mail me a certified copy. Such faith may inspire me to believe and escape the dread of hell. Surely you'd do that for me, if you cared, wouldn't you? But alas, there are no believers in this world today, no matter what you argue. Now you could mail me a check to help with the expenses--boy I can see the money flowing in now! Whoopee! Naw, your specialty is in arguments, not in caring.

 

As insensitive as you've been so far, I'll suppose you'll have an argument for what I've just written. Save it. It'll fall of deaf ears. Silence is all you'll get from me. You, your arguments, and your God are not worth my time anymore. 

 

More examples can be found in the The John W. Loftus Whining Room, John W. Loftus: “This is Who I Am”, and John W. Loftus: Trapped in TheologyWeb!

 

 

Appeal to Ignorance

From http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/fallacy.htm#Appeal%20to%20Ignorance:

 

The fallacy of appeal to ignorance comes in two forms: (1) Not knowing that a certain statement is true is taken to be a proof that it is false. (2) Not knowing that a statement is false is taken to be a proof that it is true. The fallacy occurs in cases where absence of evidence is not good enough evidence of absence. The fallacy uses an unjustified attempt to shift the burden of proof. The fallacy is also called “Argument from Ignorance.”

Example:

Nobody has ever proved to me there's a God, so I know there is no God.

 

This kind of reasoning is generally fallacious. It would be proper reasoning only if the proof attempts were quite thorough, and it were the case that if God did exist, then there would be a discoverable proof of this.

 

June 29th 2005, 08:29 PM http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1092708&postcount=56

Where is God in Infinite SPACE?

What I don't know is the correct view of the reality which we experience, and alas, I fear that it's beyond my knowing. I actually think that if there is a God, then he should want to communicate to us in ways that human history can readily understand--but about this I'm not even sure. I just suppose that if it were me, I would, so I project that unto a hypothetical God. But since God does not communicate to us then he doesn't exist. But about this I'm not sure either.

 

 

 

Ephesians 4:18
They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.

 

 

James 1:5-7

5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;

 

 

 

Double Standard

From http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/fallacy.htm#Double%20Standard:

 

There are many situations in which you should judge two things or people by the same standard. If in one of those situations you use different standards for the two, you commit the fallacy of using a double standard.

 

Example:

 

I know we will hire any man who gets over a 70 percent on the screening test for hiring Post Office employees, but women should have to get an 80 to be hired because they often have to take care of their children.

 

This example is a fallacy if it can be presumed that men and women should have to meet the same standard for becoming a Post Office employee.

 

June 10th 2005, 04:12 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1065942&postcount=69

Is there such a thing as an honest doubter?

I teach logic classes and your answers are filled with red herrings, straw men, oversimplifications, and you simply miss my points far too often.

 

John W. Loftus ignores the logical fallacies he argues.  Therefore, he commits a double standard.

 

Genetic

From http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/fallacy.htm#Genetic:

 

A critic commits the genetic fallacy if the critic attempts to discredit or support a claim or an argument because of its origin (genesis) when such an appeal to origins is irrelevant.


Example:

 

Whatever your reasons are for buying that DVD they've got to be ridiculous. You said yourself that you got the idea for buying it from last night's fortune cookie. Cookies can't think!

Fortune cookies are not reliable sources of information about what DVD to buy, but the reasons the person is willing to give are likely to be quite relevant and should be listened to. The speaker is committing the genetic fallacy by paying too much attention to the genesis of the idea rather than to the reasons offered for it. An ad hominem fallacy is one kind of genetic fallacy, but the genetic fallacy in our passage isn't an ad hominem.

If I learn that your plan for building the shopping center next to the Johnson estate originated with Johnson himself, who is likely to profit from the deal, then my pointing out to the planning commission the origin of the deal would be relevant in their assessing your plan. Because not all appeals to origins are irrelevant, it sometimes can be difficult to decide if the fallacy has been committed. For example, if Sigmund Freud shows that the genesis of a person's belief in God is their desire for a strong father figure, then does it follow that their belief in God is misplaced, or does this reasoning commit the genetic fallacy?

In the following example, Loftus begins with Appeal to Popularity, followed by the Genetic Fallacy:

September 4th 2005 , 12:16 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1183678&postcount=406

Ancient People Aren't Stupid, Just Superstitious!

And the whole modern world and community of astronomers and scientists are laughing at you and any “scientist” who claims likewise. There is probably no smaller minority of scholars who believe in YEC than among those who support any of the other positions you espouse.

 

September 5th 2005, 07:50 AM http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1184496&postcount=408

Ancient People Aren't Stupid, Just Superstitious!

John, your ignorance of scientific belief is amazing. Educate yourself at this link: http://www.tektonics.org/scim/sciencemony.htm

 

September 5th 2005, 08:32 AM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1184557&postcount=409

Ancient People Aren't Stupid, Just Superstitious!


And the link you offered was to Holding, so that I may get educated? I didn't even bother learning about this issue from someone who's so far out in right field on this issue that he's selling popcorn at extremely high prices in the stands to people like you.

 

 

Hasty Induction / Hasty Generalization / Jumping to Conclusions

From http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/fallacy.htm#Jumping%20to%20Conclusions:

When we draw a conclusion without taking the trouble to acquire all the relevant evidence, we commit the fallacy of jumping to conclusions, provided there was sufficient time to assess that extra evidence, and that the effort to get the evidence isn't prohibitive.

Example:

This car is really cheap. I'll buy it.

 

Hold on. Before concluding that you should buy it, you ought to have someone check its operating condition, or else you should make sure you get a guarantee about the car's being in working order. And, if you stop to think about it, there may be other factors you should consider before making the purchase. Are size or appearance or gas mileage relevant?

 

June 28th 2005 , 05:12 PM http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1091153&postcount=50

Where is God in Infinite SPACE?

I sincerely believe your answers are non-answers. Your answers are based upon ancient ideas and thoughts that simply do not hold up under any kind of scrutiny, in my opinion.

 

July 30th 2005, 02:08 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1133487&postcount=46

Parting Thoughts From Doubting John

Then I began investigating my faith. I saw a book at the bookstore by Josh McDowell, called Evidence That Demands a Verdict, and I read it completely through. He offered what some critics said about the Bible, and then he countered those critics with quotes from Christian apologists who argued against them. After reading that book I thought that Christianity also passes intellectual muster. It could handle the attacks of all of the critics. After reading that book I once again thought to myself at the time, “It’s true! Christianity is true!”

 

... Thomas V. Morris, for instance, effectively dealt with Francis Schaeffer’s writings, in his book: Francis Schaeffer’s Apologetics: A Critique (Moody Press, 1976). And I learned that the critics of the Bible are right, not Josh McDowell. Furthermore, Jesus has not yet returned to earth, contrary to Hal Lindsey’s strong indications. I’ve since concluded that I believed in the Christian faith for initial reasons that were just inadequate—reasons that I have subsequently come to reject. I just did not have the ability to think through the intellectual foundations for my faith at such a time in my life.

 

1 Corinthians 8:2
The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.

 

 

 

Lying

From http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/fallacy.htm#Lying:

A fallacy of reasoning that depends on intentionally saying something that is known to be false. If the lying occurs in an argument's premise, then it is an example of the fallacy of questionable premise.
Example:

Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and John Kennedy were assassinated.
They were U.S. presidents.
Therefore, at least three U.S. presidents have been assassinated.

Roosevelt was never assassinated.

 

September 12th  2005, 01:41 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1193598&postcount=3

Informal Fallacies Ain't Always So....

No one has ever pointed out a logical inconsistency with what I've argued and made it stick.

 

 

Exodus 20:16
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

 

 

Deuteronomy 5:20
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

 

Proverbs 14:8
The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.

 

 

 

Subjectivist

From http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/fallacy.htm#Subjectivist:

The subjectivist fallacy occurs when it is mistakenly supposed that a good reason to reject a claim is that truth on the matter is relative to the person or group.

Example:

Justine has just given Jake her reasons for believing that the Devil is an imaginary evil person. Jake, not wanting to accept her conclusion, responds with, “That's perhaps true for you, but it's not true for me.”

 

July 5th 2005, 03:46 AM http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1099167&postcount=23

Can a Historical Religion Be Believed?

To experience a true and undeniable miracle might take away the force of my arguments. One of the major reasons I doubt all claims to miracles is because I personally have never experienced one, even as a former Christian minister. I'll admit this. I don't deny that they cannot occur. I just have an overwhelming sense that they do not occur.

 

September 12th 2005, 01:17 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1193571&postcount=1

Informal Fallacies Ain't Always So....

The fact is, many times what is seen as a fallacy to one person is merely an anomally [sic] to the other. And we all have anomalies to all of our control beliefs.

 

 

Straw man

From http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/fallacy.htm#Straw%20Man:

 

You commit the straw man fallacy whenever you attribute an easily refuted position to your opponent, one that the opponent wouldn't endorse, and then proceed to attack the easily refuted position believing you have undermined the opponent's actual position. If the misrepresentation is on purpose, then the straw man fallacy is caused by lying.


Example (a debate before the city council):

Opponent: Because of the killing and suffering of Indians that followed Columbus's discovery of America, the City of Berkeley should declare that Columbus Day will no longer be observed in our city.

Speaker: This is ridiculous, fellow members of the city council. It's not true that everybody who ever came to America from another country somehow oppressed the Indians. I say we should continue to observe Columbus Day, and vote down this resolution that will make the City of Berkeley the laughing stock of the nation.

 

The speaker has twisted what his opponent said; the opponent never said, nor even indirectly suggested, that everybody who ever came to America from another country somehow oppressed the Indians.

 

“The Passion of Christ”: Why Did Jesus Suffer?

From Minister To Honest Doubter: Why I Changed My Mind

 

But it is said that Jesus endured more than just physical pain. He also endured the pain of being separated from God.  How can we make sense of this claim? If it’s merely a metaphor for the mental pain of not sensing God’s help when we need it, then we have all felt that pain throughout our lives. Otherwise, it somehow means Jesus ceased to be God while on the cross. But what can it mean for Jesus to cease to be God? If Jesus in fact ceased to be God, then since Christians believe a Triune God exists, that means God also ceased to exist when Jesus ceased to be God.

 

The straw man is that Jesus never ceased to be God.

 

 

1 Timothy 6:3-4

    3If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions

 

 

 

Willed ignorance

From http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/fallacy.htm#Willed%20ignorance:

 

I've got my mind made up, so don't confuse me with the facts. This is usually a case of the Traditional Wisdom Fallacy.
Example:

Of course she's made a mistake. We've always had meat and potatoes for dinner, and our ancestors have always had meat and potatoes for dinner, and so nobody knows what they're talking about when they start saying meat and potatoes are bad for us.

 

September 12th 2005, 01:17 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1193571&postcount=1

Informal Fallacies Ain't Always So....

So I can merely say most people believe this, so there, I don't want to bother looking at it myself. This isn't a fallacy. It's saying I'm comfortable believing what most people believe, since I do not have the time to check every belief of mine out for myself--no one does.

 

 

 

John 3:20-21

20”Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

 

 

Proverbs 1:7

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools [The Hebrew words rendered fool in Proverbs, and often elsewhere in the Old Testament, denote one who is morally deficient.] despise wisdom and discipline.

 

 

Wishful Thinking

From http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/fallacy.htm#Wishful%20Thinking:

 

A reasoner who suggests that a claim is true, or false, merely because he or she strongly hopes it is, is committing the fallacy of wishful thinking. Wishing something is true is not a relevant reason for claiming that it is actually true.


Example:

There's got to be an error here in the history book. It says Thomas Jefferson had slaves. He was our best president, and a good president would never do such a thing. That would be awful.

 

June 29th 2005, 08:29 PM http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1092708&postcount=56

Where is God in Infinite SPACE?

That's me when it comes to Christianity. I cannot bring myself to even entertain the idea anymore. It's simply an incorrect theological system, no matter who's doing the interpreting.

 

In his following remarks, Loftus applies wishful thinking while ignoring the definition of logical fallacies here:

 

September 12th 2005, 01:17 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1193571&postcount=1

Informal Fallacies Ain't Always So....

So I can merely say most people believe this, so there, I don't want to bother looking at it myself. This isn't a fallacy. It's saying I'm comfortable believing what most people believe, since I do not have the time to check every belief of mine out for myself--no one does.

 

... But I am permitted to vent, without it being an argument at all, much less being an informal fallacy. I could formulate that into an argument though, and argue that the person cannot think through a mildly complex argument, and argue that such a claim is true, without an Ad Hominem informal fallacy.

 

...So just calling a sentence or group of sentences an informal fallacy doesn't make it so. You have to do the additional work of arguing why it is so .

 

And by whose qualified authority does Loftus make this claim?  He doesn’t say.  Upon what basis does he believe his opinion supersedes the definitions of logical fallacies?  He doesn’t say.  Thus, he demonstrates wishful thinking.

 

 

 

 

2 Timothy 4:1-4

    1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

 

 

 

Appendix 1

 

John W. Loftus cites Hume, who commits several logical fallacies:

 

July 1st 2005 , 11:52 PM http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1096086&postcount=1

Can We Today Believe In Miracles?

Hume Offers Four “but in fact” Arguments. 1) Miraculous claims are mainly made by uneducated superstitious people who lack common sense, integrity, or a good reputation. 2) There are many instances of forged miracles, which prove the strong propensity of mankind to believe a wondrous and extraordinary story, and then exaggerate it when they retell it. 3) Miracle claims originate among tribes who are uncivilized, ignorant and barbarous. Hume asks, why is it that “such prodigious events never happen in our days?” 4) Competing religions support their beliefs by claims of miracles; thus these claims and their religious systems cancel each other out. That is, any miracles that count for one religion cancel out the miracles of the other, and vise versa.

 

July 3rd 2005 , 03:59 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1097729&postcount=21

Can We Today Believe In Miracles?

Response posted by “FirstSunday33ad”:

 

1) Miraculous claims are mainly made by uneducated superstitious people who lack common sense, integrity, or a good reputation.

Fallacy of Ad Hominem

Fallacy of The Appeal to Ridicule


An uneducated man’s direct personal experience will overrule the belief of a scholar who has had no such experience.

 


2) There are many instances of forged miracles, which prove the strong propensity of mankind to believe a wondrous and extraordinary story, and then exaggerate it when they retell it.

Fallacy of Appeal to Common Practice

A truth does not become false simply because it is commonly copied or exaggerated.

3) Miracle claims originate among tribes who are uncivilized, ignorant and barbarous. Hume asks, why is it that “such prodigious events never happen in our days?”

Fallacy of Ad Hominem

Description of Circumstantial Ad Hominem

Fallacy of Fallacy of Insufficient Statistics, Fallacy of Insufficient Sample, Leaping to A Conclusion, Hasty Induction

An uneducated man’s direct personal experience will overrule the belief of a scholar who has had no such experience.

The circumstances of a person does not necessarily affect the validity of that statement.

An event can occur but be rejected, ignored or be unknown to the observer


4) Competing religions support their beliefs by claims of miracles; thus these claims and their religious systems cancel each other out. That is, any miracles that count for one religion cancel out the miracles of the other, and vise versa.

Fallacy of Fallacy of Insufficient Statistics, Fallacy of Insufficient Sample, Leaping to A Conclusion, Hasty Induction

Fallacy of Guilt By Association

 

Loftus addresses logical fallacies (calling them “informal fallacies”) regarding David Hume here:

 

September 12th 2005, 01:17 PM

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1193571&postcount=1

Informal Fallacies Ain't Always So....

It is argued that David Hume begged the question of miracles in his definition of miracles as “violations of natural law.” Did he? Well that's the question.

 

It is further claimed that Hume is guilty of a “hasty generalization” when he claimed that miracles cannot be known to have happened because natural law is what a wise man should proportion his belief upon. They claim that the evidence may not all be in, and that in the future God may again do a plethora of miracles. So Hume draws his conclusion too hastily. Did he? Well that is the question.

 

Well, the answer is provided in the definitions of logical fallacies, as presented above, and which Loftus chooses to ignore.  Why does Loftus ignore the answer?  Well, that is the question.

 

 

Appendix 2

 

How John W. Loftus argues by Logical Fallacy

 

From an engagement at TWeb, “Tophet” responds to Loftus regarding his remarks at http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1184557&postcount=409:

 

September 5th 2005, 11:18 AM http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1184733&postcount=411

Ancient People Aren't Stupid, Just Superstitious!

Howdy, John:

My response is in bold.


* edited by a moderator *

My, my, was your remark an expression of intelligence?

I teach critical thinking classes,

Where? I’ve asked you twice before and you didn’t respond. And since you’re a proven prevaricator, there’s no reason to believe you.

and I know what it is.

By resorting to fallacious logic, yourself?

The problem is that you and many others think that by labelling certain statements with an “appeal to popularity” means you have the upper hand.

Actually, it means you’re appealing to popularity. Are you trying to deny reality?

But doing so is lacking in understanding, and critical thinking professors like me will all be quick to point this out.

And engaging in a double standard.

The way people believe things is to a large extent based on, or against, what the majority people think. This is unavoidable. 90% of what we believe we believe based upon authority. Our problem is in choosing authorities, or in choosing the people we trust from whom we draw our conclusions.

So if a crowd of authorities jumped over a cliff, you would join them?

But look what your source said: “It is clearly fallacious to accept the approval of the majority as evidence for a claim.”

And he demonstrated it with the following examples:

“At one time people approved of claims such as “the world is flat”, “humans cannot survive at speeds greater than 25 miles per hour”, “the sun revolves around the earth” but all these claims turned out to be false. “


Now here's your fallacy.

That is your wishful thinking, yet another logical fallacy. You know what wishful thinking is, don’t you, John?

You think I was presenting evidence.

Really? Prove it. Actually, you can’t.

I was not. I was presenting the fact

Fact? What proof do you cite? Zero. You’re a prevaricator. You’re not a scholar. You’re not a scientist. Your credibility is zero. There is therefore no reason to believe you.

that an overwhelming number of scientists who study this issue disagree with Holding.

And therefore demonstrate the logical fallacy of appeal to popularity.

Your words sound intelligent, but you're not.

Yes, yes, another logical fallacy: the ad hominem. You know what that is, don’t you, John?

And the link you offered was to Holding, so that I may get educated? I didn't even bother learning about this issue from someone who's so far out in right field on this issue that he's selling popcorn at extremely high prices in the stands to people like you.

And now you demonstrate the genetic fallacy. You know what that is, don’t you, John?

How do you know Holding wrote that essay? By ignoring the essay, you have chosen to be ignorant. Now, is that an intelligent thing to do?

Your post is riddled with logical fallacies, John. You should use this as examples in your classes. Oh, wait, you don’t teach any more, do you? ...

 

Loftus’ response?  An ad hominem:

 

September 6th 2005, 05:46 AM

Ancient People Aren't Stupid, Just Superstitious!

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1185609&postcount=412

Tophet,
I done with you. You can't make intelligent comments nor ask intelligent questions.