Monday, August 23, 2010

Faulty Dilemmas, Argument of the Beard, Begging the Question, & Complex Question

Moving right along here are some fallacies that will broaden your minds. Some of these we, as Christians, inadvertently commit thinking that we are giving the right answer to a skeptic asking us why we believe what we do.
Faulty Dilemma: This fallacy makes the assumption that in a given situation there are only two alternatives when in fact there are more than two.
Argument of the Beard: This fallacy makes a presumption that there is no real difference between two extremes on a continuum because the differences are small from one to the next and change almost imperceptibly.

Begging the
Question (a.k.a. petitio principii): This fallacy is committed by reasoning in a circle, assuming that the conclusion of an argument is true and using the conclusion as evidence to prove itself. ("I believe the Bible is God's Word because it says that it is God's Word" - Sound familiar?[1])
Complex Question: This fallacy entails that such questions asked in discourse presuppose that a definite answer has already been given to a prior question that was not even asked.

[1] I am not trying to be rough on my Christian brothers and sisters in the faith, but there are reasons better than arguing in a circle for why the Bible IS true and why we believe what we do. It is okay to "swim in the deep end" folks and be a Christian!

Here are some great resources for the study of logic:

Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn,
The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-six Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasononing. Muscatine, IA: Christian Logic and Trivium Pursuit, 2003.

Irving M. Copi and Carl Cohen,
Introduction to Logic (13th Edition).

Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks,
Come Let us Reason: An Introduction in Logical Thinking. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1990.

Anthony Weston,
A Rulebook for Arguments. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing, 2009.

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