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  1. #1
    The elder Holmes Mycroft's Avatar
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    Default The two main fallacies used in justifying belief in God

    This post is not concerned with the question of whether or not God exists. Rather, I wanted to point out the two main fallacies in the reasons given for belief in God that I've seen cited almost word-for-word everywhere from Jehovah's Witness tracts to Internet sites. Here's a good example, that pretty much covers all of the bases:

    http://www.everystudent.com/features/isthere.html

    Fallacy number one:

    a.) "Most of the things I've encountered in my life which appear to have been designed by a thinking designer were, in fact, designed by a purposeful designer. Therefore, all things which appear to have been designed must have been designed by a purposeful designer."

    b.) "The chain of causation cannot, logically, go back forever. Therefore there must be a first cause, and this first cause must be God."

    There is, no doubt, a fancy-sounding Latin term for this particular fallacy, but in common parlance it's what's known as "jumping to conclusions". It's true that many things we encounter which appear to have been designed were, in fact, designed. However, to jump to the conclusion that all things which appear to have been designed must have been designed is the same as saying: all swans I've encountered have been white. Therefore, all swans are white.

    The fact of the matter is that while many things which appear to have been designed were designed, all evidence supports theories that indicate that many things we encounter, although appearing to have been designed, were not, in fact, designed. They are the product of complex but un-purposeful interactions, and merely have the appearance of having been designed.

    Similarly, it's true that the chain of causation cannot extend backward unto infinity. If that were the case, we would never have arrived at this moment, since it would necessarily be preceded by an infinite amount of time. However, to tout this as "evidence" of God's existence is to jump to conclusions. There are many philosophies which deal with the subject, as well as popular religions like Buddhism and Taoism which offer atheistic explanations.

    Fallacy number two:

    "DNA / cells (Jehovah's Witnesses love this one) / the earth and its environment / the cosmos / etc. are so complex! Look at how complex they are: [various data about DNA / cells / the earth and its environment / etc.] I can't believe something so complex could have simply arisen. Therefore, they must have been created by God."

    This is known as the Argument from Incredulity, which could be summarized as: I find theory B difficult to conceive of, personally, therefore theory A is correct.

    It's true that all of the things cited above are very complex, and that the idea that they arose from un-directed, un-purposeful and complex interactions is counterintuitive and difficult to imagine, but that is what all evidence thus far indicates. Of course, people will again point to specific parts of specific scientific theories they find difficult to fathom, citing this as "evidence" that God exists, but you could just as easily say: evolution strikes me as a crock. Again proving that, as I have been saying all along, the universe is turtles upon turtles all the way down.

    The point is that even if all of science turned out to be mistaken (which is difficult to imagine but not impossible), the "God theory" would not suddenly prevail. It would just mean we would be back in a position of having no plausible theories supported by evidence.
    Dost thou love Life? Then do not squander Time; for that's the Stuff Life is made of.

    -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, June 1746 --

  2. #2
    Senior Member Munchies's Avatar
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    assumption, that's the only fallacy. Agnostic/Buddhism ftw
    1+1=3 OMFG

  3. #3
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    i don't think it works like that - in my life time, i do not believe i have ever met an adult monotheist who declared "o creationism is just my opinion about the universe, show me that god is not the most plausible explanation and i'll just change my mind".

    it probably used to be like that for quite awhile, when it also happened to be the widespread local monopoly of natural philosophy and institutions of scholars, a time where religion was considered common sense. but as older philosophers made it into printed press and gave rise to new philosophers, traders brought philosophies form the east and a new kind of measurement-obsessive natural philosophers settled the seeds of science, faith took it's place.

    now reason and various argument might be there to justify the faith, but as far as i can tell, faith isn't dependent on either, and honestly, its the religious people who have the awareness and inner strength to simply state it and face it in its most naked raw form inside of them, the one who can hold onto it even when they understand how M theory can dismiss the need for a creator on mathematical levels which are beyond me, the ones who study the extreme questions of consciousness through neurology and somehow believe in souls, the ones who house faith in their inner workings and need no relay on dogma's or excuses... those are the ones i can't help but respect their faith without the slightest bit of forced PC etiquette or sarcasm.

    i mean, how can you find that human capacity to be anything but beautifully brilliant?

  4. #4
    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    I think people who think that way have trouble with the concept of alogicality. Ie. That patterns within phenomena may not have any significance. Ie. randomness

    Perhaps it is possible that nothing ties ANYTHING together!

    I believe that it stems from our recognition of facial patterns to discern emotions in others. Ie is this person a threat/rival or is this person a friend/mate. The anthropomorphization of inanimate matter spilled over into other regions and became god. It's bad enough that we do this with the overlapping fock spaces we call "persons", but with nature as well? However, it may end up saving us. As we gain more technological mastery over the inanimate world, we begin to need to utilize those same faculties to recognize patterns in "inanimate" phenomena as well.
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  5. #5
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    a) anyone insufficiently versed in biological evolution will have this problem. it is on the observer to relish the facts human intelligence has gathered, if one cannot complete this task ignorance remains.

    b) i prefer to go with occam's razor on this one. if one can conceive an infinitely existing god, one should be able to more simply perceive an infinitely existing universe.

  6. #6

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    I believe I have stated this before. The people who believe in Intelligent Design, actually misunderstand the design process.

    The similarities between designed objects and evolved objects exist because design follows a more generalized evolutionary algorithm. We ought to be explaining design by describing the evolution of those designs, not explaining evolution by describing the "design" of its results.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  7. #7

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    I believe I have stated this before. The people who believe in Intelligent Design, actually misunderstand the design process.

    The similarities between designed objects and evolved objects exist because design follows a more generalized evolutionary algorithm. We ought to be explaining design by describing the evolution of those designs, not explaining evolution by describing the "design" of its results.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  8. #8
    The elder Holmes Mycroft's Avatar
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    Ygolo, would you mind expanding on that? I don't entirely follow.
    Dost thou love Life? Then do not squander Time; for that's the Stuff Life is made of.

    -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, June 1746 --

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
    Ygolo, would you mind expanding on that? I don't entirely follow.

    google evolutionary scaffolding

  10. #10
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    the first one i refer to as the "backwards slippery slope".

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