Logical Fallacy Land 1 - intro

As you may have noticed, there's a new conversation element in the sidebar. I added it so people can leave general comments for the whole site easily. You can be anonymous or sign in with all different kinds of accounts, not just google. It seemed like a friendly way to promote communication.   Someone posted a video in there the other day with a request for help on how to refute "an arrogant christian".

Here is the video. I'll warn you, it's almost 27 minutes long and incredibly irritating to watch.

Honestly, it's so ridiculous, I almost decided to do nothing about it. I suggested to the unknown person to get a copy of Atheist Universe by David Mills because basically that whole book refutes this video in very clear and easy to follow detail, without oversimplifying. It's quite thorough and I highly recommend it.

But then I talked to my mother today. She knows I'm a rather vocal atheist. She is kind of in the middle. She doesn't believe "all that religious crap" but doesn't know what to replace it with. She asked me what I believe about the beginning of the universe, if I believed in the Big Bang Theory. So I explained a bit about that, how science works (evidence and observation), how it changes over time to reflect new evidence and observation, and how that's awesome.

I told her about this video, about creationism and intelligent design, and how silly it was to base anything on a book written over 2000 years ago by desert goat herders who knew nothing of science or how things worked. She asked for a link if I decided to refute the video for the person who left it. She wanted to read it. So I decided I would tackle it after all.

I'm going to do it in stages. It's simply too long to tackle all at once. Also, I welcome your input, suggestions and refutations! Links to research, science, quotes, specific logical fallacies, anything and everything, is all welcome! Specific is good here, I think. So feel free to contribute. We can do this together much more easily than me alone.

The first thing to point out is the Argument from Authority. The guy in the video is a chemist in a lab coat. That is supposed to make him look like a trusted expert. But how is a chemist an expert in geology, astrophysics, astronomy, anthropology, etc? He's not, of course. Whatever background he has is irrelevant to what he's arguing.

Ok, that will get us started. I'm looking forward to your feedback!


  1. Hello, I am not a scientist, but I play one in this video.

  2. How about starting with facts. He says according to the Big Bang Theory, the universe is about 20 Billion years old. That's some serious rounding up seeing as how best estimates put it at about 13.7 billion.

  3. Oh no, I got that wrong. "According to the big bang theory AND evolution" (my emphasis) it was about 20 billion years ago. WRONG, evolution says nothing about cosmology.

    Then he says that the earth formed 6 billion years ago, "From what they don't know". This guy is an idiot and proved it in the very first sentence about science he made. He's either a moron, or deliberately misrepresenting information. We have a very good idea of how solar systems form. The accretion disc theory is pretty well understood given it's short history of testing and modeling.

  4. Pendleton is another Christian nutjob.
    Did anyone ever tell him that there are human fossils much older than 6000 years?

    He's a chemist, but he also states that Jesus will be coming back? That's chemically impossible!

  5. I made it halfway through the C-14 BS, and had to stop. If radioactivity is so untrustable, why are we worried about the build-up of nuclear waste? I find that to be a logical contradiction.

    Oh, wait. We don't have to worry about Big, hard problems like that. Jesus is coming in FIVE minutes (10:00 pm eastern standard time)!

    And for anyone with a stronger stomach, did he provide any sources or citations? Because when I play dress up, I go all the way.

  6. He used the Bible....or did you mean reliable sources?

  7. Facts are a great place to start, thanks Notatheist. :)

  8. LoL! :D Yes, exactly! My lab coat makes me trustworthy!

  9. I think you're right. I think he's both completely misinformed and also quite good at distorting the rest of reality to fit his world view, which he then preaches to the even more ignorant.

  10. It's downright insane if you ask me.

  11. Like Mark said, he used the bible. What else does a good christian need? His carbon 14 "information" is basically just some debunked nonsense he dug up, from what I can tell.

    Yeah, looking at his watch to see when jesus is returning... I wonder how many times he's done that over the years? And yet, look, no jesus, who said in the bible that he would return in his disciple's lifetime. Oops! Jesus FAIL.

  12. LOL... seriously, what else does a good christian need?

    "Beware the man of one book." Saint Thomas Aquinas

  13. My friend Gerald went through the video point by point and wrote a great refutation: http://www.morgantownatheists.com/2009/08/26/logical-fallacy-land/comment-page-1/#comment-96

  14. I'll reply in a post instead of here in the next day or so.

  15. Michelle, The most glaring mistake you make here is in thinking that atheism requires faith. Atheists do not believe in gods because there is simply no evidence for them. This is absolutely not a statement of faith. I don't believe in a god for the same reason I don't believe in Atlantis, but I'd happily become convinced of either if someone were to present good evidence. Faith, by definition, means that you believe in something for which there is no evidence.

  16. I'd also like to point out that "The universe was either created or it evolved over time to what it is today. They both cannot be true." is a fallacious argument. They both can absolutely be true. God could have wound up the toy so to speak, and let it go, using evolution as his mechanism to bring about intelligent life. Many Christians actually believe in God as well as evolution and the big bang. These are not mutually exclusive concepts.

  17. And finally, most atheists are quite comfortable in leaving the gaps where science has not yet given us a complete picture of nature as just that, gaps. We aren't claiming anything about the unknown. We hope that someday science can give us these answers, and that's the exciting part about discovery.

    "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known" Carl Sagan

    You assume too much about atheists and atheism.

  18. I'm sorry, one more thing Michelle...

    "This is why I believe it is up to a person who is honestly searching for the truth to decide where they want to place their faith.
    and this comment is not to encourage you to believe what i believe. It is simply to encourage a search for truth, and not substitutions.
    This goes for any Christians coming across this… i encourage you to not believe as a Christian just because you’ve been taught to. Find reasons for your faith so you’ll be even more sure of who God is in your life."

    God IS a substitution for the unknown. You can't claim to be a seeker of truth, and then in the same paragraph turn around and say that Christians should continue to seek out evidence that supports there belief in God. This isn't how one goes about finding truth. It would be like a detective that decides who did it ahead of time and goes about looking for evidence to support his suspicion to the exclusion of all other possibilities.

    To find truth you have to go where the evidence leads you, not look for evidence that supports what you already suppose.

  19. If the existence of God hasn't been completely thrown out the window even by science, then how can it not require faith?
    I mean, on a more emotional level, don't you, even as a person who so strongly believes God does not exist, ever wonder whether or not you might be wrong and if so, what it would mean?
    i mean, certainly i have had this struggle within myself on what it would mean if my own beliefs were wrong.
    and i think anywhere doubt occurs, faith must come soon afterward if one were to continue believing what they do.

  20. I agree, those aren't mutually exclusive concepts. I should have been more clear in distinguishing intelligent design from evolution. In which case, the real question would be whether the universe was formed from natural selection and gene pool mutations, or by an intelligent designer who designed with a purpose and a plan.

  21. What i meant by that statement was not to tell Christians to seek out evidence to make their own hypothesis true, I was only speaking as a Christian to Christians (who might stumble across this page like i did) not to look at the video above and say "Boy, he got them atheists good," because I'm sure many "arrogant Christians" would. It was more of a gentle way of saying, "stop believing in God just cause you were raised in church all your life and accepted him to be real in a generational hand-me down state of mind."
    And this is why i do amend you and most of the other people on this site for being so sharp in reasoning. If there is one thing most theists lack, it's reason. And that's why i wrote that statement.

    And i want to add that i truly did stumble on this page purely by accident while Google-ing "logical fallacies" for an english assignment. I wasn't looking for an argument, or someone to "convert", I simply watched the video, read some comments and decided to leave my own spill, before i realized this was a site devoted to an atheist group. I felt after i had submitted it, i had walked into a land mine, because surely i'd be eaten alive being a minority here. but i think it's extremely important that Christians begin to listen to what you have to say. And if i can't convince other christians of this, then i can at least start with listening, myself.

    And concerning your statement that "God IS a substitution," what i find most convincing, even in the midst of science and its extensive knowledge of how things in general work, is that God offers what science cannot: purpose.
    Science is no doubt a description for reactions between physical things, but it can only ever be a "how", and never a "why". And science also cannot account for the metaphysical, such as purpose, causality, and morality. And to say that the metaphysical aspects of life are irrelevant is to ignore the fact that all humans share some sort of moral code.
    Atheists or theists, we all feel a strong need to carry out justice, and feel anger when it is not. And even if we are not taught right from wrong, we can sense it as soon as wrong is done towards us. People who may or may not believe in God will send money to charities to help those in need.
    Where did these ideas of justice and doing what's right come from? How does science explain this?
    And although the world can be a cruel, hateful place, making the existence of God seem all the more unlikely, what happens when we remove God from the picture?
    absolutely nothing: when we say "If God existed, then the world wouldn't be a horrible place," and then remove him from the equation, all we are left with is the fact that the world even without God is still a horrible place. And yet, without God as a greater image of justice, we would still be able to recognize the world's condition. How does science explain this?

  22. and by the way...where i said "amend", i meant "commend".
    sorry for the mix-up. it's late. ha.

  23. We aren't very different in the sense that we both believe there is plenty waiting to be known. I think that quote definitely applies to both your belief and mine.
    But your statement that "most atheists are quite comfortable in leaving the gaps..." reminds me of most theists as well.
    And if knowledge is our goal and an excitement all at the same time, then being "comfortable" isn't really the way to go about knowing, is it? I mean, aren't theists often called blind because they become so comfortable with religion feeding them the answers? Science seems to have become the same thing in this statement.
    All I'm saying is that if you're going to be skeptical about God for the sake of truth, shouldn't you also be skeptical about science? And if not to the degree of skepticism, then at least to the point where you aren't just satisfied with overlooking them?

    And please forgive me for my assumptions about atheism. I'm really just asking these questions because i don't quite understand it. And if i can ask one more, what are your reasons for not believing in God?

  24. And i might add that "Atheists do not believe in gods because there is simply no evidence for them," is in fact a statement of faith. Isn't not believing in one thing just another way of saying you believe in something else? Atheists believe gods do not exist (and technically i share this belief because i believe in just God), is a statement of faith if it is the answer to the question, "what do you believe?" And if you take what i said above into consideration, it would be a faith-based statement.

  25. google Pascal's Wager, this has been asked and answered a million times.

  26. *sigh* No, not believing in something because there is no evidence for it it is the opposite of faith. Do you believe in Zeus? How about Thor? Do you believe in the flying spaghetti monster? No? Of course you don't, because there is no evidence for any of those things.

  27. I'll answer the last one first since I already answered it once, I don't believe in God because there is no evidence of a god or gods anywhere in the universe.

    As far as the whole first part of your replay, you really should reread what I wrote.

  28. There are plenty of scientific explanations for morals, you really could do with some reading on the subject. I'm not going to elaborate here, but there are entire branches of science dedicated to understanding human behavior.

    I'm not sure what you mean by causality. If you aren't using it the scientific sense, you'll need to explain how you do mean it. As far as purpose is concerned, purpose comes from within. Purpose does not need a supernatural origin. If the universe ended tomorrow, I do not think my life would have been meaningless, even if there is no afterlife. But it would require a great deal of talk about science and what it tells us about the universe for you to understand why I feel that way.

    Purpose is one of those heady philisophical concepts that can not be summed up in a thread on a blog post, but suffice it to say that theism can claim no exclusivity here as millions of people find plenty of purpose in reality.

  29. I'll start out,

    "Truth exists and we can all know truth."

    Certain things may hold truth. For that matter, things may have a degree of truth to them. You fail to take both certainty, subjectivity, and relativity into account. Even opinion for that matter.

    Your death penalty example fails in lieu of the above. Just in one example, death to all nonbelievers is something I don't find morally or even acceptable, yet it is touted by some using the Bible as righteous. What's funny, is that when you gave the death penalty example, you added "in certain situations"... which goes against what you just said. So, death penalty is not always morally acceptable, only when it matches the situation you think calls for it.

    Is the death penalty morally acceptable? Depends on the situation. BAM, relative truth.

    Some things, for that matter, just don't have a truth to them. Is "hello" better than "hi" when greeting somebody? Strictly opinion.

    "The universe was either created or it evolved over time to what it is today. They both cannot be true."
    BS. Of course both can be true, it was created to evolve to what it is today. TADAA! Welcome to a smarter version of creationism. Still dumb, but it's improved.

    "Correct me if I’m wrong here, but evolution’s claims such as “the first cells existed with a nucleus appeared around 1.7 billion years ago”,
    don’t offer a gap-less explanation for the existence of the universe, living things, or life itself. and on the other hand, the same
    questions remain with the creation theory which claims that God created “the heavens and the earth”–how can we know for sure,
    without witnesses or scientific formulas to qualify either belief, which one is true?"
    Alright, you're wrong. Evolution claims one thing, and one thing only... listen closely, things change. That's it, that's all, welcome to reality. That's it. Nothing else. Don't even try to argue it.

    Now, somethings do come up because of the understanding that things change. But really, by tracking fossil records, the oldest known simple lifeform fossils are about 3.5 billion years old (which, by the way, first life is estimated at 4 billion years ago).

    Which questions? Evolution answers one question, that things change. You really think that's all there is to it? This is the problem with religious, science doesn't work that way. Theories like the Big Bang theory is separate from evolution, and theories as Abiogenesis are theories of how life first originated, not evolution.

    And let's bring it back to your truth argument, each one of this doesn't completely hinder on each other. Yes, they all provide support to each other in some ways, but if one is wrong or not completely correct, it doesn't mean the others are. In fact, most of the time, only small tweaking of the theories are needed to make them more truthful and correct. Such as Newton's law of gravity... accurate to... some number of degree, and for most purposes correct enough for all uses... however, it is not completely correct, it fails complete accuracy.

    "Both atheism and theism require some amount of faith to bridge the gap science cannot."
    No, it does not. Atheism does not require faith, it is the lack of faith. Is that really so hard to understand? First off, atheism isn't a declaration of there is no god. It is strictly, that the person doesn't believe in any of the gods posed to them at the time.

    Second, I can deny the existence of your god based upon what you define him as. It doesn't require faith. IE, when you say god is has no emotions and is constant in nature, and you say god got angry at the same time, you are lying, no such god can exist that is both emotionless and angry. Understand? That's just an example mind you...

    Try again.

  30. What purpose does god give?

    Please, elaborate, because the opposite is quite true...

    But I quite think you'll find that out shall you attempt to give purpose given by god.

  31. First of all, if you go back up and re-read what i wrote, you'll notice that i never said "in certain situations".
    And i also never wrote which was "true". Please keep in mind, I simply used it as an example. It was not a statement.
    As far as your comments on opinion...well, if you re-read my comment again, you'll notice that i never once said anything about all things containing truth.
    i simply said "truth exists and truth can be known." Never once did I say that all things hold truth.

    And your statement "Evolution claims one thing, and one thing only...things change" wasn't quite accurate. Since there is no evidence found in the theory of evolution to explain how life began, then it cannot correctly prove any following theories of how lifeforms themselves evolved. therefore, everything in the the theory of evolution is a claim; which is an assertion of something true or real. It is not necessarily proven.

    And I will also comment that "tweaking" a theory (which is only a description or definition used to describe how something usually works) does not "tweak" what the theory is trying to distinguish, itself. Theories can be modified and have been in the past and are still being modified today, but they do not change the function of the named mechanism(for lack of a better word). Definitions of theories most definitely can be accurate, or they can be inaccurate(which is the same as failing to be completely accurate), but the fact is the observed mechanism does not function any differently under a new definition. The mechanism is simply observed a different way.

    And as for your last comment, I'm going to clarify that I never once defined God in any way--least of all, that way--so it is completely irrelevant to what I said in all of my comments.
    I "understand" that to be another reason as to why you choose not to believe in God "or any of the gods posed to them (or you) at the time", but that's all I "understand" it as.

    It seems you have mostly misread my words and consequently misquoted them in some places.

  32. I did read both Pascal's Wager and some of the refutations on it. And I must say, I don't quite see which question I asked that is answered by the rebuttals of Pascal's argument.

    But I will mention that while reading, one mistake I saw that Pascal made was that he promoted God, as if he could be bought as a sure-fire safety net for eternity--just by believing in him. And in seeing this, those who refuted him also rightly pointed out that Pascal never mentioned which is the true religion, or how to know which religion is the true one when each declares it is, and did not see the point of "faking" religion.

    I think these observations are totally relevant and important. And since religion is basically a consensus made by people on how to please their god and live lives of "holiness" in said god's eyes, it doesn't seem rational to believe that it can offer any sort of salvation. That's why it isn't important whether a religion is "true" or not, because religions are standards made by humans which then aren't quite necessary to live up to. What is important to determine is which god is the true god out of so many.

    First of all, I will talk about the only God I know, and what does and does not apply to him concerning all this...

    By definition, God, Jehovah, Yahweh... whatever name you wanna call him by, is the one true God. God, being infinite, is by definition the one true God:
    If he is infinite, he has no beginning or end, which means he was not created. If he is infinite, meaning he has everything, there can be no other gods except him, because if there were another, that would mean one lacks what the other does not, and that god would not be infinite.

    And though there is substantial evidence that the New Testament is a credible document,
    having 5,686 manuscript copies (more than any ancient document in the history of the world) and only had a 25 year gap between its original and surviving copies (which is also the shortest gap in relation to all other ancient documents in the history of the world), and contains a great deal of geological information written by the first disciples which has been confirmed by theologians and historians to be accurate, none of you will be satisfied with the facts I have to give relating to the Bible's validity or its evidence of God's existence, and more importantly after that- his character.

    And with even with all the scientific evidence i can conjure up to explain God, I know it would be futile, since I do realize that reason will never be able to explain why Love would come to die and then leave with the promise of returning.

    And since we could give reasons and explanations, on and on, why God does not exist or why he does exist, back and forth, back and forth, I guess I will end my remarks here.
    Feel free to point out the fallacies in my beliefs, but I will no longer respond to them. I'm sorry I haven't responded to your other replies, I've just been too busy, and I don't feel the need to keep coming back every night to voice an opinion that isn't wanted. What I mean is, I respect your beliefs and I don't want to become a nuisance, I really don't. And though it may seem cowardly, I won't be coming back to these posts.
    Goodnight, and I really have enjoyed talking to you and hearing all that you have to say.

  33. Hmm, yes, I see, you said in a given state, as in State. I didn't misread anything, get off your high horse. You failed to capitalize State, in the given context can easily be interpreted as I took it.

    If "truth exists and truth can be known" then all things must have "truth". What? What are you playing at? Do you get to apply that statement to whatever you want? Who are you to decide then what statements must have truth and that it can be known? Hm? Quite frankly, nothing can be "known" for 100%, knowledge is paradoxical in it's nature. So let's get this straight...
    "Truth exists and truth can be known" only for the statements you want to argue here? Yeah, no, that doesn't really fly. "Truth" can't always be known, it's why such arguments as the Flying Spaghetti Monster came around.

    The theory of evolution doesn't explain how life began.

    Really, what is so hard about that? Does law of gravity explain how gravity began? No, evolution is NOT a theory on how life began. Learn what evolution really is instead of going off your false preconceived notions of it:

    Evolution explains how life changes after it has already existed. It is proven far beyond any doubt for anybody who actually knows what it is. Life changes, don't see how you think you can refute that, but go for it. Now go learn about really theories on the origin of life with abiogenesis:

    "tweaking" theory? No. Degrees of accuracy. You missed the argument. Yes, the process trying to be described does not change (if it exists)... but I don't see how that applies, it is completely irrelevant to the discussion. It's is a very sneaky and crafty irrelevance though. If our theory is wrong or needs tweaking as it where, then that process doesn't exist. For example, a gravity where heavier objects faster than lighter fall doesn't exist. We failed, we made a better theory of what exists. I'm too tired from this, maybe elaborate more later.

    I gave an example of such a definition of god, I didn't say you said it. You have to define god to say he exists. Get it? In some way or form, and when you do, I'll knock it down for the paradoxes that it has.

    It seems you only like to think I misread your words and misquoted. Not quite.

  34. "ever wonder whether or not you might be wrong and if so, what it would mean?"
    That question is Pascal's Wager. You directly said it. What would it mean? Go ahead, tell us. You sure like to argue by obfuscation, no, you directly implied that if he was wrong there would be consequences. We're not idiots.

    Let's see here...
    No. There is 0 scientific evidence of god. State them, if you think so. All it will be is opinions and personal feelings, which is not scientific evidence. You'll ask questions, like why things are so complex that's proof of god, yet not realizing that is not scientific evidence.
    There is more substantial evidence that the New Testament is a completely bull document, including the complete number of paradoxes written throughout it.
    Number of copies says nothing about the truthfulness of what is written inside. Did you really think that was a good argument?
    Yeah, I have a map too, not hard. You mean talking about places that actually exists means everything else you write is true? Yeah, bull.
    Your 25 year gap argument didn't come out right. In any case, I'm fairly sure it's wrong no matter how you meant it.

    There is a key word you said, "conjure", as in "all the scientific evidence i can conjure up to explain God". Because that's exactly what you'd be doing, conjuring out of thin air.


  35. I wasn't planning on coming back to say anything on here anymore, as I've said before, but I had the urgency to when i read your comments.

    It seems you and I just cannot communicate clearly, because I need to "get off [my] high horse" since I'm simply trying to be understood when I recognize that I am not.
    My clarifications were not made to offend you, but since they did anyway, all I can say is just, "sorry".

    And also, I never once attempted to, or made it seem as if i would attempt to, refute the fact that "things change" or "life changes", because i don't think either is an untrue statement. However, what I am not satisfied by is that evolution supports macro-evolution (changing of species from one to another) while it has only been able to successfully observe micro-evolution (changes within a species).
    So now, let me make myself clear: I do not believe things don't change. I simply believe that each species may undergo changes within itself, but species do not change into one another. Evolution cannot not observe the latter, though it attempts to by using micro-evolution as evidence.

    I will not give God a definition he doesn't already have. And what use is there to give a definition you will not believe in?
    If I said God is the creator of the universe, he is infinite, he is love, he is truth and light, and he is righteousness, how can you be satisfied?
    You'd say, if God is love, then how is it we are able to love without him?
    You would not be satisfied if I said he created everything with love, and so love is evident, although not explained or measured by science more than chemical reactions in the brain.
    And you would not be satisfied if i pointed out that evil and hate and deceit exist in the world simply because where there is goodness, love, and truth, beside them are their opposites; just like where there is light, beside it is darkness.
    But these things you can never understand, unless you know who he is. "Believing" in God isn't enough and it never will be enough. Pascal's argument fails to mention that. God isn't a safety net, and he is not a punisher. Yes, if God exists then Hell exists and so does Heaven. And God being perfect can't show himself to us because we're imperfect. And if Heaven is a place meant only for those who are perfect, then what would happen to those who are not?...Hell isn't a consequence, it's the only other place left for those who don't fit the criteria because they can't enter a place that is perfect unless they are perfect.
    And all these things you can never understand, unless you know him.
    And you may say, "Christians aren't perfect just because they believe in God", well, you are absolutely right.
    No one is perfect. Not even if they believe in God. But that's why God sent Himself, being perfect, as a sacrifice so he can one day show himself to us once he has made us perfect.
    And again, all these things you can't understand unless you know God.
    And because you've already chosen not to, I can never present good enough reasons why you should believe.

    And in regards to your comment below, I will answer it with another question:

    If there is no God, why is there something instead of nothing?

    As for the rest of your post, I will not comment on it. I chose not to comment back to Notatheist because I did not want to bother him with things I know will never make as much sense as he'd be satisfied with because I am well aware of the fact that God is the greatest irrationality, and things that are irrational cannot be understood with only reason. And for the same reason and others such as the obvious hostility you display which blocks our communication, I will not reply to you.

  36. Ah, yes, forgot to say this:

    If evil exists just because good exists...

    In the beginning was god. And supposedly, that is it. Yet, you just claimed evil must exist because good exists...

    Thus we come to the paradox. Under the notion that evil exists because good exists... If god is only good, than evil must exist besides it. We'll call this the evil god, seems just as godly to me. And god has always existed, so this evil god has to have always existed as well... yet the creationist claim is that only god existed and nothing else. Thus, there was good without evil.

    Your views do not match.

    Which brings up this source again:

    Who are you to say god is only good things for that matter anyways?