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  1. #1
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    A Common Mistake

    Begging the question

    "The Bible is the word of God. The word of God cannot be doubted, and the Bible states that the Bible is true. Therefore the Bible must be true."

    I will argue that no one should believe a theory, which is built entirely on top of a logical fallacy. In this case the theory is Christianity and the fallacy is quoted above.
    abc

  2. #2
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    Re: A Common Mistake

    I think a visual aid would add nicely to the debate.



    Why Christians believe in this circular reasoning has less to do with logic and far more to do with their upbringing. Most Christians learn about Christianity at the same age they learn about Santa. They get the idea that god exists ingrained into them and never really challenge this idea. Not really. The beauty of Christianity is that it excells at making it's adherents think they've questioned their beliefs. But that's not the case. uestioning one's beliefs armed with a bad set of logical tools (like circular reasoning) isn't a challenge at all.

  3. #3
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    Re: A Common Mistake

    Great...now you just have to find Christians here who believe that so you aren't guilty of the Strawman fallacy any more.
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    Re: A Common Mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    Great...now you just have to find Christians here who believe that so you aren't guilty of the Strawman fallacy any more.
    Well why do you believe the bible to be true?
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  5. #5
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    Re: A Common Mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    Great...now you just have to find Christians here who believe that so you aren't guilty of the Strawman fallacy any more.
    Oh, you know better.

    The Bible is the word of God: true or false?

    The word of God cannot be doubted: true or false?

    If you answered true to both questions then how is it a strawman? That's your responsibility to provide that information. Since when can someone on ODN just say "Strawman" without an explanation?

    If you answered false to either question, how does that fit in with your stance as a Christian?

  6. #6
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    Re: A Common Mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by MyXenocide View Post
    Well why do you believe the bible to be true?
    For several reasons, collectively (that's important), but each reason, could be discussed at length.

    I have no intention on arguing whether Christianity is true or not, nor on arguing if the Bible really is God inspired. I'm merely giving reasons why it's a strawman to assert that Christians use circular argumentation about the Bible. Undoubtedly, many atheists (as they have done in the past), will ignore this point (or not understand it), and attempt to refute individual evidences below. When they do so, they will have completely missed the point. It does not matter if the below reasons are true or not when it comes to the question "Are Christians using circular logic when it comes to the Bible?" For as long as there are reasons that are contrary to the op's claim...then the op's claim is defeated. It's a simple argument that has no ground to stand on, and is thus, extremely easy to defeat (to my recollection, no serious atheist philosopher or critic has ever raised such an argument just for that reason).

    On to the meat of the matter:

    One is that it meets expectations that one would have if it were to really be "god-breathed". For example:

    • It would be widely distributed so man could attain it easily
    • It would be preserved through time without corruption
    • It would be completely accurate historically.
    • It would not be prone to scientific error or false beliefs held by the people of that time.
    • It would present true, unified answers to the difficult questions of life.

    See the Uniqueness of the Bible thread. That it is unique, doesn't prove God inspired it, but rather that it meets objective expectations we would have if it were God inspired.

    There's both the external evidence for validity of the original documents as well as internal (consistency) (see referenced thread above).

    And perhaps the most important, is the test of authority from the Bible itself (allowing even it to be scrutinized and doubted) which one would expect anyway.

    Deuteronomy 18:20-22 states:
    "But the prophet who shall speak a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he shall speak in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. And you may say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him."
    This is setting up the litmus test for revelation, or prophecy. It's saying that God's prophets must be 100% accurate, never failing...not once. If they (or it...the Bible) fail even once...God (through the Bible) is saying they aren't legit.

    Now, I'm not going into the issue of prophecy here, it isn't necessary (see opening paragraph). But I believe prophecy in the Bible is specific and accurate.

    For all these reasons, I believe that the Bible is the word of God (on God's authority, written by men). It's possible that NONE of the prophecies in the Bible are accurate, and that there is no external evidence for the consistency of the documents...nor any internal evidence, and that it fails to meet objective expectations, and that it isn't a unique collection of works. All these things could be wrong...and the op's argument would still be wrong. As long as circular reasoning IS NOT done...as claimed by the op...then the op's argument fails completely. It's one of the weakest arguments that an atheist could have put forward against Christianity IMO.

    And since I don't use circular reasoning...to claim so is indeed, a strawman...or perhaps, it's a misunderstanding or lack of knowledge...about a topic that one is trying to debate. Either way, it's a "no-no".

    reference: http://www.comereason.org/cmp_rlgn/c...#ixzz1TuGEQKZU

    Last edited by Apokalupsis; August 2nd, 2011 at 01:08 PM.
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  7. #7
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    Re: A Common Mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    The Bible is the word of God: true or false?

    The word of God cannot be doubted: true or false?

    If you answered true to both questions then how is it a strawman?
    You're missing the third link in the circle: because the Bible says it's so. As Apok already pointed out, people can have many reasons for believing the Bible to be true.

    To the OP, Christianity as a "theory" entails much, much more than just pointing at a book and saying "because it says so." Speaking from my own Catholic background, as an example, I can tell you that that particular faith did not rely so much on strict interpretations of the Bible.
    "Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we're the imagination of ourselves." --Bill Hicks

  8. #8
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    Re: A Common Mistake

    @Apok:

    Your argument has two problems.

    First, stating your own reasons for believing in the bible doesn't negate the problems posed in the op. It would be one thing if you could argue "Here is why I believe the bible to be true (reasons given) AND here is why that argument is false." The best you can offer is "I have other reasons". That's not a very compelling argument because it doesn't dispell the problem raised in the op. You are effectively saying, "Those aren't the reasons I believe, but what you're saying is still true."

    The second problem is that your reasons are circular:

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    For several reasons, collectively (that's important), but each reason, could be discussed at length.

    ...

    On to the meat of the matter:

    One is that it meets expectations that one would have if it were to really be "god-breathed". For example:


    That it is unique, doesn't prove God inspired it, but rather that it meets objective expectations we would have if it were God inspired.

    There's both the external evidence for validity of the original documents as well as internal (consistency) (see referenced thread above).

    And perhaps the most important, is the test of authority from the Bible itself (allowing even it to be scrutinized and doubted) which one would expect anyway.

    Now, I'm not going into the issue of prophecy here, it isn't necessary (see opening paragraph). But I believe prophecy in the Bible is specific and accurate.
    There's two major problems here. The first is it's pretty dubious to believe a test that's set up by the religion you're seeking to test. Secondly, we do need to get into the issue of prophecy because it is indeed circular: the old testament gives out prophecies. The new testament writers knew those prophecies and thus were easily able to contrive a Jesus who (conveniently) met all those prophecies. In both cases, you are relying on your own earlier propositions:
    • We should believe the bible if it's prophets meet the standards of prophets given out in the bible.
    • We should believe prophecies that have come true based on the accounts of people who had opportunity and motive to write accounts of people fulfilling prophecy.

    How is that not circular reasoning?

  9. #9
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    Re: A Common Mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    @Apok:

    Your argument has two problems.

    First, stating your own reasons for believing in the bible doesn't negate the problems posed in the op. It would be one thing if you could argue "Here is why I believe the bible to be true (reasons given) AND here is why that argument is false." The best you can offer is "I have other reasons". That's not a very compelling argument because it doesn't dispell the problem raised in the op. You are effectively saying, "Those aren't the reasons I believe, but what you're saying is still true."
    Nonsense.

    The problem stated in the op is as follows:
    "The Bible is the word of God. The word of God cannot be doubted, and the Bible states that the Bible is true. Therefore the Bible must be true."
    The ONLY thing that needs to be done, is to show how one can believe the Bible is true WITHOUT using the claims of the Bible saying it is. Period. End of story. It's simple.

    Accusation: You believe X is true because X said it was true.

    Response: No. I believe X is true because of A, B, C, D.

    Tada! Argument refuted. It's why such silly argumentation posited by the op and yourself fails miserable. It's perhaps the easiest type of argument to argue against.

    The second problem is that your reasons are circular:

    There's two major problems here. The first is it's pretty dubious to believe a test that's set up by the religion you're seeking to test.
    What test? The test of prophecy? Again, nonsense. You didn't read this part:

    ...which one would expect anyway

    That is, if the Bible is really from God...and God is perfect (cannot err), then it stands that any claimed prophecy must be 100% accurate. This is obvious Zhav. The Bible is stating the obvious here. We don't rely on the Bible here, we rely on common sense, something which the Bible makes clear on. It's saying "If what is claimed in the Bible is from God...then all of it had better be true". That it simply records the given (or obvious), isn't using circular reasoning here Zhav...it's recording an expected litmus test for an infallible being.

    Secondly, we do need to get into the issue of prophecy because it is indeed circular: the old testament gives out prophecies. The new testament writers knew those prophecies and thus were easily able to contrive a Jesus who (conveniently) met all those prophecies. In both cases, you are relying on your own earlier propositions
    There are a variety of types of prophecies and time frames.

    1) Many prophecies came during the OT.
    2) These prophecies when written, were done so prior to events. History has shown that the events later took place, as predicted.
    3) Some prophecies are short-term (weeks), some are long-term. Some took place after the NT was written.

    It's obvious, you misunderstand prophecy in the Bible. And since it is the case that we don't rely on the simply one type of prophecy, but instead, do so collectively, AND we know for a fact that the NT manuscripts are reliable and the Jesus actually walked the earth...there can be no circular reasoning as you have charged.

    I highly recommend that you educate yourself about Christianity and prophecy before attempting to debate it...just as you have recommend people do about evolution. This is an example of not doing what you preach Zhav.
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  10. #10
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    Re: A Common Mistake

    Forgive me for cutting in again, but:

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    First, stating your own reasons for believing in the bible doesn't negate the problems posed in the op.
    Actually, it does, provided those reasons don't rely solely on "because the Bible says so."

    It would be one thing if you could argue "Here is why I believe the bible to be true (reasons given) AND here is why that argument is false."
    You don't need an AND here--simply pointing out ANY reason other than the authority of the Bible effectively breaks the circle.

    The best you can offer is "I have other reasons". That's not a very compelling argument because it doesn't dispell the problem raised in the op.
    Actually, it does. Again, the problem raised in the OP is circular reasoning, not justifying each and every reason one may have for believing in God or the Bible.

    Anyway, I get what the OP is trying to say, but it's a rather obvious point that I don't think many people would debate.
    "Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we're the imagination of ourselves." --Bill Hicks

  11. #11
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    Re: A Common Mistake

    Apparently, Zhav is one to whom my opening paragraph applies to:

    I'm merely giving reasons why it's a strawman to assert that Christians use circular argumentation about the Bible. Undoubtedly, many atheists (as they have done in the past), will ignore this point (or not understand it), and attempt to refute individual evidences below. When they do so, they will have completely missed the point. It does not matter if the below reasons are true or not when it comes to the question "Are Christians using circular logic when it comes to the Bible?" For as long as there are reasons that are contrary to the op's claim...then the op's claim is defeated.
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  12. #12
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    Re: A Common Mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    @Apok:


    The second problem is that your reasons are circular:



    There's two major problems here. The first is it's pretty dubious to believe a test that's set up by the religion you're seeking to test. Secondly, we do need to get into the issue of prophecy because it is indeed circular: the old testament gives out prophecies. The new testament writers knew those prophecies and thus were easily able to contrive a Jesus who (conveniently) met all those prophecies. In both cases, you are relying on your own earlier propositions:
    • We should believe the bible if it's prophets meet the standards of prophets given out in the bible.
    • We should believe prophecies that have come true based on the accounts of people who had opportunity and motive to write accounts of people fulfilling prophecy.

    How is that not circular reasoning?
    First off there are writings outside of the bible which confirm the existence of Jesus. Second there are prophecies in the new testament which have come true. One undeniable one is the destruction of the Jewish temple by the Roman army. Matthew 24:1-2 "Then Jesus departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them 'Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left upon another'" When the temple was burned by the Romans, the gold and silver melted and ran through the stones. The stones were pried apart to get at the gold once the fire went out. This came to pass after the book of Matthew was being read all over the Roman world. And if anything gives itself a test and passes, it is no less valuable than if another sets the test.

  13. #13
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    Re: A Common Mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by franktrainjr View Post
    First off there are writings outside of the bible which confirm the existence of Jesus.
    FYI, Zhav is one of those rare birds who holds that Jesus as a man, never actually existed. We've debated this before in the past and his evidence cited was something a blogger said (never any scholar or expert). But that's why Zhav objected to the idea of messianic (he ignores the fact that there are nonmessianic as well) prophecies. Bloggers with the same mindset trump objective study* and research from experts unfortunately.

    * even non-theologians assert that Jesus the man existed, they just deny his divinity
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  14. #14
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    Re: A Common Mistake

    I find that many if not most Christians assert their faith is partly based in life experience and secular scholarship.

    However in strong theological debate the Bible is often used in a rather circular way to support the existence of god, when itself is predicated on the existence of god. Its rather putting the cart before the horse when the do that and leads to purely circular proofs.
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    Re: A Common Mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    I find that many if not most Christians assert their faith is partly based in life experience and secular scholarship.

    However in strong theological debate the Bible is often used in a rather circular way to support the existence of god, when itself is predicated on the existence of god. Its rather putting the cart before the horse when the do that and leads to purely circular proofs.
    When? Where? Who? I've not seen this. I'd like to see an example of it please.
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  16. #16
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    Re: A Common Mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    When? Where? Who? I've not seen this. I'd like to see an example of it please.
    I'm relating my personal experience, not making specific accusations. I've never accused anyone on ODN of such things because folks here tend to be good debaters.

    I can give you the example I've argued with people before. The claim is that the story of Christ proves God is real and that the story of Christ which contains an undeniable miracle. That account can be trusted because the bible is accurate. When you wonder how we know the bible is accurate they rely on the fact its the word of God. And when you ask how they know that is true they point to the fact that its written in the bible. Honestly conversations like this happen all too often out there.
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  17. #17
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    Re: A Common Mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    I'm relating my personal experience, not making specific accusations. I've never accused anyone on ODN of such things because folks here tend to be good debaters.
    OK, I understand, ty.

    and as per your experience...

    I can give you the example I've argued with people before. The claim is that the story of Christ proves God is real
    It does...but only if the story is true (obviously).

    and that the story of Christ which contains an undeniable miracle.
    It is, if it did indeed happen.

    That account can be trusted because the bible is accurate.
    It can be trusted, if the 2nd part of that statement is true.

    So far so good...

    When you wonder how we know the bible is accurate they rely on the fact its the word of God.
    True...but on thin, cracking ice here...

    And when you ask how they know that is true they point to the fact that its written in the bible.
    Crack! Through the broken ice and into the cold river of bad reasoning the argument goes.

    So I'm with you in that people who do use this line of reasoning aren't really "reasoning" here, and are instead, begging the question. Obviously, that's fallacious reasoning. Also, I don't think that Christians need to resort to such weak argumentation, there is plenty of other ways to explain the "why's" and "how's" instead of circling back on itself.
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  18. #18
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    Re: A Common Mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    True...but on thin, cracking ice here...

    Crack! Through the broken ice and into the cold river of bad reasoning the argument goes.

    So I'm with you in that people who do use this line of reasoning aren't really "reasoning" here, and are instead, begging the question. Obviously, that's fallacious reasoning. Also, I don't think that Christians need to resort to such weak argumentation, there is plenty of other ways to explain the "why's" and "how's" instead of circling back on itself.
    Indeed. And I've gotten into some long discussions with you and other apologists about the various claims for why the bible is a trustworthy source and honestly they come down to some pretty subjective tests which ultimately are backed by a personal decision to have faith and a general sense of agreement with the teaching of the church, none of which I share. At that point its not a question of fallacy but of subjective judgement of what is most probable and reasonable. Which makes for a good discussion but no crystal clear winners of course.

    But ya there are plenty out there who will just run a circular path of reasoning and in the end "faith" pretty commonly ends up the root point of belief, and that is something we've discussed here a lot, both on a theist and atheist side. Really if religion could boil down to simple logic or evidence it wouldn't be such great fodder for debate and disagreement.

    And a lot of folks I see in circular arguments or begging the question don't agree that is what it is. I'm having that kind of discussion in the latest ontalogical proof thread where I am saying the supposition of cause is in the first statement is the same as the cause in the conclusion of the last statement. My opponent either doesn't understand or doesn't agree. My job is not to assume he is stupid but to make my case for showing the error in logic.
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  19. #19
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    Re: A Common Mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    Accusation: You believe X is true because X said it was true.

    Response: No. I believe X is true because of A, B, C, D.
    But we both know that's not an accurate representation of the context of your rebuttal. What you're really saying is:

    Accusation: You believe X is true because X said it was true.

    Response: No. I believe X is true because of A, B, C, D AND X.

    You proved it quite clearly using examples. That's still circular reasoning.



    What test? The test of prophecy?
    Yes, that test. The inadequate one. It doesn't go nearly far enough. It doesn't say anything about how we know they're true or what they would actually say. For example, it leaves the door wide open for someone with a copy of the old testament to write about how someone fulfilled prophecy in recent history. Again, it's all too convenient to discard all common sense and go by the flimsy test set forth in the thing trying to pass a test.
    There are a variety of types of prophecies and time frames.

    1) Many prophecies came during the OT.
    2) These prophecies when written, were done so prior to events. History has shown that the events later took place, as predicted.
    I think what you meant to say was "the bible has shown that the events in the bible took place". Honestly, man. How you can believe that a magical being in the sky is more likely than someone monkeying with when something was written is beyond me.

    3) Some prophecies are short-term (weeks), some are long-term. Some took place after the NT was written.
    The ones that are weeks we can discard because there's no way to prove they weren't contrived. Saying there are "long term" ones does nothing to support your argument except add an unsupported claim. And you've done nothing to address the problem of the NT writers having the OT close at hand when contriving the Jesus tale.

    I highly recommend that you educate yourself about Christianity and prophecy before attempting to debate it...
    I highly recommend you, you know... debate it. We both know how you'd reply to a post like this if it was someone else making it and you replying to it. You'd simply dismiss it for not having any support. Why should I do otherwise?

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    Re: A Common Mistake

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    FYI, Zhav is one of those rare birds who holds that Jesus as a man, never actually existed. We've debated this before in the past and his evidence cited was something a blogger said (never any scholar or expert).
    Actually, I gave several sources which most theists here dismissed on the (very silly) grounds that I wasn't referencing "biblical scholars". This would be like Mormons saying that my objections to Mormonism's outlandish claims should be dismissed because they're based on the writings of people who aren't Mormonism scholars. There isn't just one blogger out there as Apok characterized it. There is a growing understanding that the person named Jesus who's described in the bible is a work of fiction. There's a documentary on it called The God Who Wasn't There. There's a site that has a rather unfortunate name, but references many works of scholarship called www.jesusneverexisted.com. There's the Zeitgeist film. There's the writings of Frank Zindler (who is a biblical scholar). There's more, but what I like about these different sources is that they do not agree on how the myth came into being. That's actually a very good thing because it means scholars are out there looking and trying to understand what actually happened. To be sure, the so-called "evidence" in favor of Jesus is pretty shakey. It relies on the following:
    • The idea that we should treat people attempting to perpetuate a religion no differently from people attempting to chronicle history. There's a world of difference between the two, but Christians are loathe to admit this or even talk about it.
    • For centuries, people who challenged the existence of Jesus (or even challenged what Jesus allegedly said) could be sure to face scorn, resentment, persecution, abuse, or even death at the hands of Christians. In spite of this, Christians will often trundle out fallacies that appeal to tradition and popular belief.
    • Historians and scholars, all too aware of the reaction Christians have when their messiah is challenged, aren't so eager to investigate the personhood of Jesus. The vast majority assume he existed. Then there's biblical scholars who start with the false premise that the bible is true and look for ways to justify it.
    • The so called source for Jesus' existence outside the bible are easily dismissed.
    • The most popular arguments in favor of the bible's accuracy require an entirely new set of logical rules that don't make sense for anything else.

 

 
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