"Fallacies About Fallacies"

The atheist worldview is one that revolves around denial of the self evident, including denial of God's existence, denial of creation, denial of absolute truth and certainty, denial of objective morality, denial of life only from life, denial of information (only) from intelligence, etc. This denial often carries over into debate and discussion on worldview issues. Namely, when an atheist is called out on fallacious argumentation (amidst discussion), they'll often employ a variety of unscrupulous tactics in an attempt to either mask or justify their (faulty) reasoning. That is to say, they'll employ fallacious reasoning in an attempt to deny the fallacious nature of the argument. Here we take a look at some of the specific tactics employed in this regard:

Tactic 1: Denying that logical fallacies can be implicit (and don't have to be explicitly stated).

Can logical fallacies (fallacious argumentation) be implicit? Of course! To "imply" means to: "Strongly suggest the truth or existence of something not expressly stated." Suggestions convey meaning!
So quite naturally, a suggested argument or conclusion can reflect fallacious reasoning that does not have to be explicity stated (in order to be identified). If for instance one were to imply (but not explicitly state) that "many smart atheists believe in naturalism, and therefore naturalism is true," this would reflect a faulty argument known as the "ad populum fallacy."

Let's look at a direct example of an implied ad populum fallacy: Let us first suppose that there is a question or debate over whether it's true that "jumping out of the 10th floor window of a building is dangerous." If in response to this question one were to state that "a majority of people believe that jumping out of a 10th floor window is dangerous," this would be an implied ad populum fallacy. Note that context is critical. In this context it's not the intrinsic statement (when considered independently) that is fallacious; it is indeed true that a majority of people believe that jumping out of a 10th floor window is dangerous. So rather, the ad populum fallacy is conveyed by the fact that the statement is a response to the question of whether it's true that jumping out of a 10th floor window is dangerous. To even mention majority in this context is fallacious. It is a tacit appeal which suggests that majority plays a role in the truth of what's in question, when in actuality majority has nothing to do with why it's true that jumping out of a 10th floor window is dangerous. (Instead of making appeals to majority, a logical thinker in this case would appeal to truth via logical inference from evidence.)

Thus, we see that fallacious reasoning (such as ad populum arguments) can be identified from implicit statements.

See also the following:

""Many advertising slogans are based on this fallacy: Strictly speaking, one statement considered by itself cannot be a fallacy because it's not an argument. Nevertheless, the import of these "catch-phrases" seems to be in some cases by conversational implicature an implicit argument. I.e., the statement can easily be reconstructed from its context into an implicit argument.

"Join the Pepsi People Feelin' Free" (slogan early 1970s,)

"Join the Pepsi generation" (slogan mid-1980s)

"Sony. Ask anyone." (Sony trademark, 1970s)""

 - Source

Tactic 2: Denying that a logical fallacy has been committed because the statements involved don't match the "form" of the fallacy.

In logic, fallacies are represented via a specific form. For example, the ad populum fallacy is commonly represented as follows:

1. Most people approve of X (have favorable emotions towards X).
2. Therefore X is true.

Now, the tactic here is to deny that an argument is fallacious on the basis that one's statements do not line up precisely with the form of the fallacy "in question." That is to say, the atheist will claim that what they've argued doesn't comport with the form of the fallacy they've been accused of. But this is clearly nonsense, as it would mean that an argument which does explicitly match the form of the accused fallacy could be "made sound" simply by changing a few words around. Take a look:


Atheist: 1. Most scientists believe that naturalism is true. 2. Therefore, naturalism is true.

Theist: Ad populum fallacy.

Atheist: Well then, how about this:
If naturalism weren't true, why would so many scientists believe it? Or how about this: Naturalism is true because most scientists believe it. Or this one: You should believe in naturalism like most scientists do. ...None of these match your given form, and therefore my argument is no longer fallacious!

Theist: Check out this page: http://www.silverweapon.com/fallaciesaboutfallacies.html


...Obviously, the follow up arguments made by the atheist in the scenario above are just as fallacious as the initial argument, despite that they don't "fit" the literal form of the ad populum fallacy. It is the overarching intended meaning that violates sound reasoning.

Tactic 3: Crying "misrepresentation!"

This is an incredibly common tactic used to try and weasel out of situations where a faulty line of reasoning has been identified. Feeling cornered, the atheist will argue that their statements have been misrepresented, and may even accuse their opponent of dishonesty. Furthermore, the atheist may argue that "nobody knows their argument better than they do," as a means of reinforcing that they've been misrepresented.

What this tactic amounts to is a "blanket escape" from all accountability in argumentation. The atheist could claim that any objection is a supposed misrepresentation of what's been said - no matter how succinctly things are stated (by both/all parties). As such, concrete objections would be impossible. This is simply a dishonest form of debate.

Now, here's the key: To claim misrepresentation is an arbitrary assertion - invalid unless or until substantiated. The claimed "strawman argument" (misrepresentation) must be justified as such, or it fails.

Tactic 4: Citing the "Principle of Charity" (i.e., claiming a lack of understanding).

The idea behind the Principle of Charity is to first and foremost seek reasonable understanding of opposing views in debate and discussion - before critiquing said views. (Simple common sense.)

Defined more formally, the Principle of Charity is: "A methodological presumption made in seeking to understand a point of view whereby we seek to understand that view in its strongest, most persuasive from before subjecting the view to evaluation." - Source

Now, the tactic here is to cite the Principle of Charity when a fallacious line of reasoning has been identified. This is done to suggest that the atheist's argument has not been fully understood whereby it can be deemed fallacious. I.e., it's a more subtle form of the "You just don't understand!" argument.

The key here again is that to cite the Principle of Charity (to imply a lack of understanding) is merely an arbitrary assertion - invalid unless or until a legitimate lack of understanding can be demonstrated. Watch out for arguments that subtly begin to change after the fact; that is to say, after they're identified as fallacious.

Also note:

"The principle of charity is a methodological principle—ideas can be critiqued after an adequate understanding is achieved."
- Source


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