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Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Fallacious Arguments of Atheists and Fundamentalists: Appeal to Authority and Circular Reasoning (Part 3)

The author of this series would be remiss to ignore the propensity of both groups to Appeal to Authority in their arguments with each other about the Bible and God's existence. According to The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an Appeal to Authority is defined in these terms: "Often we add strength to our arguments by referring to respected sources or authorities and explaining their positions on the issues we’re discussing. If, however, we try to get readers to agree with us simply by impressing them with a famous name or by appealing to a supposed authority who really isn’t much of an expert, we commit the fallacy of appeal to authority." How does this apply to Atheists and Fundamentalists?

We will begin with the more apparent use of this fallacious argument: The one employed by Fundamentalists. They use the Bible to support their belief in the existence of God and the authority of the Bible. Fundamentalists are fond of quoting "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." (Psalm 53:1) Likewise, they love to trot out Paul's statement to Timothy that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness..." (II Timothy 3:16) It should also be noted that an appeal to the authority that you are attempting to establish is a type of Circular Reasoning (A is true/false because of B. B is true/false because of A).

For many Atheists, the use of an Appeal to Authority is less apparent and more convoluted than in the previous case. After all, the Atheist is coming at this from the opposite direction. They use the Bible to discredit the Bible. They point out the factual and historical errors, moral and narrative inconsistencies and errors in logic and reasoning to make their argument that the Bible should be rejected in toto. But the greater irony vis-à-vis the Atheist position is that they turn around and use the source/authority that they have just discredited to discredit the Judeo-Christian conception of God! They are quick to appeal to those same Scriptures to demonstrate that the God of the Bible is a homophobic, homicidal, immoral, tyrannical, vindictive and slavery affirming monster.

Maybe both sides should leave the Bible out of their arguments? Right, we all know that will NEVER happen! Neither side seems to be able to recognize their use of fallacious reasoning. They see it in each other, but not in themselves.

Yes, Fundamentalists and Atheists are very different from each other - it is legitimate to characterize them as being polar opposites philosophically. However, it is very clear to this blogger that both sides employ fallacious arguments to advance their viewpoints/agendas. What do you think?


  1. "Fundamentalists and Atheists are very different from each other - it is legitimate to characterize them as being polar opposites philosophically"

    It's you who is launching a False Dichotomy!
    Typical Christian, you think Atheists are obsessed with your holy book.

  2. The remarks that you quoted were offered to address my perceived indifference to the differences between Atheists and Fundamentalists. I'm fully aware that there are many shades of opinion between the two extremes. I also think that many of my readers would take exception to your characterization of me as a "Typical Christian."

  3. Do you think Atheism is a good default position for Agnostics?

  4. I would say that belief in God could be likened to a pH scale (acid-base), with sure believers (theists) and non-believers (atheists) at the extremes. I think that the majority of us fall somewhere in between the two extremes. If this formula is correct, that would put a "true" agnostic in the middle (neutral) with no default position.

  5. Are you satisfied with modern scientific education/research operating on an atheistic assumption?

  6. Ideally, science shouldn't operate on assumptions; but I guess I'd prefer it operating on an atheistic one to one that supposes a God (Unfortunately, a good many theists reject well-established evolutionary and geological science).