Unworthy Arguments

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Low-quality discourse on Origins or any other controversial matter reduces our sensitivity to illogical thinking. This page is an index of arguments that we can do without, wherever we stand on creation! A link to here should be an adequate hint of a valid refutation.

See Critical thinking for relevant Scriptures.

Ad Hominem

Ad hominem is Latin for "to/at/against the man" — according to the English idiom, playing the man, not the ball. See Ad Hominem Argument.

Questioning a person's authority to make claims or statements of fact, is not an ad hominem argument. Similarly, questioning a person's expertise may legitimately reduce their authority but is not an ad hominem argument.

Begging the Question

See Circular Argument

"God says"

"God says that ..." is frequently used to defend hyper-literal readings, and is equivalent to "I interpret this to mean ..." plus belligerent tone. The implication is that anyone who disagrees is disagreeing with God himself, not only with the writer/speaker. It can also be used ironically, in a context where a non-literal reading is clearly essential. —Bruce

Appeal to Authority

Follow this link to Appeal to Authority — it can be helpful under certain conditions. —Bruce

Appeal to what “most people” think

Argumentum ad populum (“Appeal to the people”) is a particular type of appeal to authority. Also called "The Bandwagon Fallacy," which describes it well.

Appeal to Purity ("No true Scotsman")

This fallacious argument protects a generalisation by redefining it to exclude cases that would disprove it. For example, if we redefine music so that it does not include electronically generated sound, we could say that synthesised music is not music — not really music, not true music.

The relevance for our task in this wiki is that if we start with the assumption that both the Bible and science are true, then it would seem reasonable to conclude that scientific thinking that appears to contradict the Bible cannot actually be true science. (Also possible: we might be misreading the Bible, misunderstanding the science, or both.)

See the "No true Scotsman" fallacy or ploy on Dr Gary N. Curtis's Fallacy Files web site and in Wikipedia.

Argument from "Endorsement"

Argument from "Endorsement" is a particular kind of Appeal to Authority involving an implicit claim to the right to say how the authority would understand a text. —Bruce

Equivocation

Equivocation is when different meanings of the same word lead to error. Almost all words have a range of meanings, so equivocation arises naturally from using them — but the word has developed a pejorative sense. The formerly public Oxford Dictionaries online[dead link] defined it as the use of ambiguous language to conceal the truth or to avoid committing oneself; prevarication.

Examples

  • A current example of equivocation is to quote the Foundation of the BASF, which says that the Bible is "our only source of knowledge concerning God and his purposes ..." and make it the foundation "of our community" when in context it is the foundation of the statement.

    "so it says this is the foundation of our community, right? [quotes BASF Foundation] That's the foundation of our community: the Word of God, as we know it, and that's not surprising, is it?"

  • Another common equivocation arises from a misunderstanding of the use of the word fit and the role of fitness in Natural Selection — these relate only to reproductive success, not to strength, physical fitness, etc. An example of this misunderstanding is at the evolutionists' very naughty habit.

The Black-or-White Fallacy

See Black-or-White Fallacy for two "fallacies of presumption": False Dichotomy and False Dilemma.

Non Sequitur

Non sequitur means "it does not follow" in Latin. It is easier to detect confident "logic" that simply does not follow in what other people say than in what we say ourselves. Here is a Pastafarian argument that "doesn't follow":

Misrepresentation

To describe (or "represent") something — or some person — in a way that is false, or misleading despite being technically correct, is misrepresentation. It can be done sincerely as a result of error, or for some benign motive, but it is not helpful in a community that is seeking truth. Misrepresentation is sometimes criminal, and often morally wrong (Colossians 3:9). Christadelphian Evolutionary Creationists often complain that their opponents repeat possibly sincere misrepresentations after they have been corrected — for example, "Because Truth Matters . . . ", here:

Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of the creation debate in our community, is the way some of our members misrepresent or misunderstand the details of what they are rejecting. The result is that they create a concept of evolution that is completely false – and then proceed to refute this ill-informed concept. The result is that we come across as amateurs scoffing at something we don’t understand.

So, in this post, we’ll consider a video of one of these presentations. . . .  Even if one disagrees with the conclusions that scientists have made, there is no excuse to misrepresent their views. . . . 

See also Qms:Misunderstandings about Evolution.

Smear

An ugly form of misrepresentation is smear, where a person is vilified by suggesting bad behaviour on their part, or "putting words in their mouth" that make them out to be foolish, or immoral. An example is here.