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Answers in Genesis Logical Fallacies 101 Grade: FAIL

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on September 14, 2009

It amuses me to no end when those that abuse critical thinking try to present themselves as critical thinkers, as is the case with this article at Answers In Genesis. In this article they try to explain what the Ad Hominem fallacy is, a worthy effort if properly done of course.

They do an overall pretty decent job at explaining what an Ad Hominem is, until of course the commit the big booh-booh by giving this as an example of, what they seem to consider, and Ad Hominem.

“Christianity isn’t true. You just believe in Christianity because you were brought up in a Christian home. If you were brought up in the Islam religion, you would be a Muslim now.”

Ouch! To anyone who knows a thing or two about critical thinking it is obviously clear here that there may be a logical fallacy in this argument, but it is not the Ad Hominem. It is…drum roll…the Non Sequitur, an altogether different sort of logical fallacy, one where the conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises! The premises (you are christian because you were brought up christian) does not lead to the conclusion (christianity is not true). This is not an Ad Hominem, more specifically not the circumstantial Ad Hominem, because the claim is not being rejected because of the kind of people who support it.  That would be ridiculous because it would have to read as follows : Christianity is not true because christians believe it. In fact, the two things mentioned here have no bearing upon one another, therefore this is a Non Sequitur. The conclusion does not follow from the premises.

Why do I say “there may be a fallacy here”? Because it is not clear that “christianity is not true” is presented as a conclusion based on the following sentences, or as an unsupported statement. You can read the above sentences as two separate statements, the first stating what the person believes to be true, and the second stating why they think someone else holds a different belief. It does not have to be an argument, in which case there wouldn’t be a fallacy. If it is meant as an argument,then we have the Non Sequitur, but not the Ad Hominem!

The cherry on the cake comes next:

An evolutionist might argue:

“Creation isn’t true. You just believe in creation because you read that stuff on the Answers in Genesis website!”

Ah, that would be the Straw Man because an evolutionist, in general would not say that. There would be no need for it. We’d simply have to point to the fact that the creationist has not put forward any convincing evidence for his argument. That usually is enough to wrap up that conversation. It is also a bit of Poisoning The Well since this attempts to discredit “evolutionists” as people who rely on logical fallacies to win arguments, when in fact that is quite simply not true.

Oh AiG, leave the critical thinking teaching to those qualified to provide it, will ya?

One Response

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  1. Cat said, on October 9, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    I do agree with you that there is no logical fallacy in this argument. The premises do not support the claim at all. There are many Christians who do not believe in Christianity although they were born in Christian family. They even convert to other religions that suit to their own belief. Therefore, how could we be sure that as long as we grew up in Christian homes or any other religions means we believe in them entirely.

    In addition to that, I think believing in certain religions is very subjective. Everyone has different views and it is up to oneself whether to believe or not. As a Christian myself, I did wonder before on how true Christianity is. Does it really exist or could it be just a religion created by human? As for me, there is no answer to such claim because even there are proofs, they could have been made up too. However, the bottom line is that nomatter Christianity does exist or not, I still believe in it unconditionally because I have faith in it.

    No offence here, it is just a view i would like to share. Thank you.

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