Begging the Question
- We commit this fallacy when our conclusions are imbedded in our premises. We beg the question when we argue in a circle.
- Three fools approach a tavern on horseback. When they arrive they tie their horses together and enter the tavern. After a while they come out only to find that their horses are gone. These men were fools for thinking that simply tying their horses together somehow secured them, rather than tying them to a stationary object. Our first logical fallacy is like this illustration.
Let's look at one example---Jim says, "I am king of the hill." Bob asks, "Why is that? " Jim says, "Because I have the cowboy hat." Bob asks, "Why do you have the cowboy hat?" Jim says, "Because I am king of the hill."
Here is a second example from a book I am reading a book called "Disproving Christianity" by David McAfee. In there he says, "Though many believers in the Christian faith will either disregard the evidence put forth in this book or attempt to refute it, it is impossible to effectively argue the validity of an ancient document that has so many weaknesses and problems.” Notice the implied statements. Basically McAfee says this:
- Christians cannot harmonize the many errors of the Bible
- Any attempt to harmonize or explain these errors fail b/c there are so many
- We know there are a lot of errors because any attempt to harmonize or explain them fails
- Therefore the Bible is indefensible
Obviously you can see the circular nature of this argument. McAfee affirm his conclusion (The Bible is indefensible) by stating that it is impossible to defend it. But that is the crux of the whole matter. "The Bible can't be defended." "Why not?" "Because attempts to defend it fail." "How do you know that?" "Because it can't be defended."
Misuse of Authority
- There is nothing inherently wrong with citing authorities. The only man who didn't need to do this was Jesus but we aren't him. Therefore, footnotes are not fallacies.
- But there are times when people misuse the citing of authorities. We must remember that even the experts disagree at times. Therefore, whenever someone cites an expert we should ask, "What is the evidence that brought the expert to that conclusion?"
- In Matthew 19 Jesus is confronted about Divorce. He is asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?" There were two schools of thought on this known as the Hillel-Shammai debate. The former allowed a man to divorce his wife for any trivial matter but the latter said you could divorce for only serious transgressions. In Matthew 19 the Pharisees would have looked for Jesus to cite an authority. But this would have been a misuse of authority. The real question is, "What part of the Scriptures influenced those Rabbis to have their views on divorce?"
- One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Alexander Campbell who said, "Illustrations can illustrate anything but prove nothing."
- This fallacy is really simple. You just have to realize when someone is giving an illustration it should only be used to illustrate the clearness of their point instead of attempting to prove their point. You cannot prove anything simply through illustrations.
Can you see how these fallacies are used by people? Do you have any examples?