Discussions about religion often end up in the realm of identifying logical fallacies. Typically, as an atheist, one sees the Argument from Personal Incredulity, Argument from Ignorance and Circular Reasoning. Fusion Theism in his post HERE and on Twitter, tried to identify or create new fallacies applicable to atheist thinking and as one of the few polite and reasonable debaters to be found, he’s worth answering.
“The Double-Standard Fallacy:” Accepting one form of evidence for your own claims, while simultaneously rejecting this form of evidence for your opponent’s argument.
I confess I don’t know what he’s referring to here as I haven’t seen this occur. It’s possible he’s referring to the way in which we take scientific knowledge as truth, even though it’s relayed to us and comparing that with people taking biblical ‘knowledge’. In other words, the idea that ‘both are from books and we have faith in who is telling us’. All of this is assumption and perhaps he can clarify, but I would point out that science – unlike religion – is subject to peer review, repeat experimentation and has practical real-world applications that confirm its usefulness. IF this were accurate, it would indeed be a problem.
“The Tree-Falling Fallacy:” This argument goes something like this: ‘If a tree falls in the woods and no one recorded it, it never happened,’ or ‘If no one wrote a book about Alexander the Great, that means he never existed.’
This is trying to justify the fallacy of Shifting the Burden of Proof. The point missed is that without evidence for something, it is not logical or reasonable to accept it. Trees falling is a regular occurrence and the existence of a fallen tree is evidence that it fell in and of itself. When it comes to historical figures the comparison being drawn is obviously between Jesus and Alexander (there’s other examples people like to use too, like Socrates). Compared to Jesus, the claim ‘Alexander existed’ is supported by numerous contemporaneous accounts, archaeology, the records of conquered nations and it is not an extraordinary claim. So not only is this an attempt to shift the burden of proof, but it’s inaccurate too.
“The Goat-Herder Fallacy:” Attributing automatic falsehood (and rejecting the arguments of) anyone based on their profession or career. Example: ‘I reject the Bible because it is written by goat-herders.’
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone actually say that’s WHY they don’t believe the Bible or dismiss the arguments. Rather it is a snarky way to make a point that people in the past were ignorant of much we know today. If this were accurate you could argue that it’s a sort of inverted argument from authority.
“The Contemporary Fallacy,”(also known as “The JFK Fallacy”): This fallacy goes like this: ‘Any books written about President Kennedy after his death in 1963 must be rejected as myth, since they were not written about him while he was alive.’
Again this seems to be making a false comparison between the religious mythology of Jesus and actual historical events. Books about JFK are drawn from contemporaneous accounts, film footage, recordings etc. There is absolutely nothing contemporaneous in the stories of Jesus.
“Telephone-Game Fallacy:” Automatically assuming that adults cannot accurately relay facts to other adults, based on a popular children’s game.
Well this isn’t a fallacy and oral history does, indeed, have issues. We can’t be sure of distortions 100%, but we can be reasonably sure.
“The Uneducated Fallacy:” Attributing a lack of education to your opponent simply for holding views that are different or opposite from your views.
That would be an argument from authority, but it can be true. Most people who reject evolution – for example – know little or nothing about it.
“The Truth Fallacy:” (also known as “The Mislabel Fallacy”): Re-defining the word “truth” or “evidence” to only apply to the position that you support, or to the kind of evidence which supports your argument, but not your opponent’s argument. For example: ‘Only science can be accepted as truth or evidence,’ or ‘Only the Bible can be accepted as truth or evidence.’
If accurate this would be a fallacy of redefinition.
“The Auto-Myth Fallacy:” Automatically assuming that an ancient book is myth because it is ancient, or automatically assuming a book is myth if it does not agree with your worldview.
Arguing that an ancient text is accurate or inaccurate based purely on its age would be an argument from antiquity and from its modernity an argument from that. I don’t think anyone actually says that it’s merely age that makes something a myth.
“The Bias-Fallacy:” Attributing more bias to anyone who has a different view from yours, than you attribute to the people who hold your view.
Cognitive bias is a real issue. In my experience non-believers are more aware of it while theists embrace it as though it were a good thing.
“Extraordinary-Fallacy:” Automatically labeling something false because it sounds extraordinary to you.
A reference to ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’. I wouldn’t say this is a fallacy per se since it still calls for evidence. I think we can also, usefully, define ‘extraordinary’.
“The Born-This-Way Fallacy:” Claiming that the best argument is always the one which most closely resembles the knowledge you were born with. For example, ‘Atheism is a much better option than theism, because everyone is born without knowledge of God.’ This would be fallacious since everyone is also born without knowledge of science, logic, math, etc.
I don’t know that anyone has claimed this exactly, rather they’ve pointed out that this is the state of nature and that they remain unconvinced otherwise. Religion is not like science, logic, mathematics etc. We could re-learn all these from scratch and come up with the same answers. IF religion started from scratch, it would be virtually unrecognisable.
“The Raised-This-Way Fallacy:” Claiming that the best argument is the one most closely matching the status or knowledge you were raised with.
I’d file this under cognitive bias again, rather than a fallacy as such. It’s also one that very much fits theism.