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Argumentum Ad Ignorantiam


h3lix
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http://www.fallacyfiles.org/ignorant.html

 

I was browsing fallacyfiles.org and came across this page and it reminded me of many arguments I've heard on both sides of theology debates.

 

It is of course (among countless other fallacies) appeal to ignorance to say:

 

Prove that God doesn't exist.

You can't prove that God doesn't exist.

Therefore, God exists.

 

I think it may also be an appeal to ignorance to simply say:

 

There is no (incontrovertible) evidence for God.

Therefore, God does not exist.

 

However, it may not be to say that:

 

If there were a God with the abilities and personality that is claimed by the Bible, his existance would be abundantly and indisputably clear.

Incontrovertible evidence for the existence of this God has yet to manifest itself.

Therefore, this God does not exist.

 

What do you think? The above logic may be too wordy, but I was basing it on something I heard in an episode of the Non-Prophets (or Atheist Experience, I'm not really sure). Someone in the program said that if something huge and supernatural, such as all of the stars in the sky moving to say a message that was seen by him and several other people (to prove it wasn't a hallucination), he would believe in God (or at least the supernatural).

 

PS...The fallacy I was originally looking for (simplified) took the form:

if p is true, q is most likely true

p is true

therefore, q is true

 

does anybody know the official name of this fallacy?

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There is no (incontrovertible) evidence for God.

Therefore, God does not exist.

 

It is a fallacy, that's why I don't say it.

However, it may not be to say that:

 

If there were a God with the abilities and personality that is claimed by the Bible, his existance would be abundantly and indisputably clear.

Incontrovertible evidence for the existence of this God has yet to manifest itself.

Therefore, this God does not exist.

 

I think it would be conducive to say exactly what you mean by incontrovertible evidence. I think I would agree, though.

 

You're saying that if the Christian God exists, his existence would be axiomatic. It's not, therefore he doesn't exist.

 

The logic is right, but some people might take issue with your premise.

 

PS...The fallacy I was originally looking for (simplified) took the form:

if p is true, q is most likely true

p is true

therefore, q is true

 

does anybody know the official name of this fallacy?

 

I don't think that's a proper logical equation.

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this argument could be called an "abductive" argument. based on "plausibility" or "likelihood" rather than solid evidence. much like the inferences made by detectives before they've found the evidence... hunches.

 

defined on this link: Abductive argument (or ‘abduction’): A form of nondeductive inference, also called “inference to the best explanation” in which a hypothesis is supported on the ground that it is the best explanation for some observed phenomenon.

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I think it would be conducive to say exactly what you mean by incontrovertible evidence. I think I would agree, though.

 

You're saying that if the Christian God exists, his existence would be axiomatic. It's not, therefore he doesn't exist.

 

The logic is right, but some people might take issue with your premise.

 

Saying that any god's existence would have to be axiomatic would be making a subfallacy that was on the Fallacy Files page:

 

If p were true, then I would know that p.

I don't know that p.

Therefore, p is false.

 

This really only works against Yahweh because with the abundant strength and love with which he is described in the bible, he would surely have made it abundantly clear that he exists.

 

That is basically what I meant by incontrovertible though: there is no reasonable alternative explanation for the evidence.

 

Thanks for the link, Crunk

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no prob.

 

C.S. Peirce coined the argument.

 

Recently, my old major prof from UGA (William L. Power) has tried to revive an abductive argument for God's existence very similar to the one you've stated.

 

I wasn't convinced.

 

The argument is sticky because you can't really prove whether or not it's valid (no solid evidence, only inference)... but the argument can never be sound.

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Saying that any god's existence would have to be axiomatic would be making a subfallacy that was on the Fallacy Files page:

 

I'm not saying that any god's existence would have to be axiomatic. I don't think it's entirely rational to GENERICIZE!! (new word) something like that....if we're going to talk about existence, let's specify a God then.

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what if one replaced the term "god" with the term "divine reality?"

 

would this be an appropriate generalization, for the sake of the argument?

 

(I'm borrowing this term from James Livingston's Anatomy of the Sacred)

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what if one replaced the term "god" with the term "divine reality?"

 

would this be an appropriate generalization, for the sake of the argument?

 

What if I saw your term and raised you a bigger pile of meaningless shit? :lmao:

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what if one replaced the term "god" with the term "divine reality?"

 

would this be an appropriate generalization, for the sake of the argument?

 

What if I saw your term and raised you a bigger pile of meaningless shit? :lmao:

 

then why ever have a theological argument in the first place?

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what if one replaced the term "god" with the term "divine reality?"

 

would this be an appropriate generalization, for the sake of the argument?

 

What if I saw your term and raised you a bigger pile of meaningless shit? :lmao:

 

then why ever have a theological argument in the first place?

 

Because they're fun. If you're talking about whether or not God exists, then specific definitions are necessary. Everything has an identity, generalizations like "Maximal Being (God)" or "tallest tree" are only abstracts.

 

If you're talking about anything not related to whether or not God exists, then you can generalize.

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i beg to differ, because if we went your route then we could never talk about religion at all... given its ephemeral nature (without an essence) and its cross cultural diversity.

 

for instance, we couldn't criticize "Christianity" or "Capitalism" because each has multiple identities and definitions... so we lump it all together into a generalization when we do so. We could say nothing about ideology. You could show me a "Christian" or a "Republican," but we could never nail "Christianity" or "Republicanism" down to an empirical datum or hold it in our hands.

 

i think that generalization can obscure in many instances, but for the sake of arguments generalizations can be useful by offering us opportunities to create categories and theories.

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i beg to differ, because if we went your route then we could never talk about religion at all... given its ephemeral nature (without an essence) and its cross cultural diversity.

 

for instance, we couldn't criticize "Christianity" or "Capitalism" because each has multiple identities and definitions... so we lump it all together into a generalization when we do so. We could say nothing about ideology. You could show me a "Christian" or a "Republican," but we could never nail "Christianity" or "Republicanism" down to an empirical datum or hold it in our hands.

 

i think that generalization can obscure in many instances, but for the sake of arguments generalizations can be useful by offering us opportunities to create categories and theories.

 

In any discussion, you'd need to define your terms, Crunk Bishop. Generalisations are useful and I use them all the time, but I think being too vague is just as bad as being too specific.

 

We could look at a specific God...the Christian God.

 

By that we could loosely define terms that would allow for a discussion and that generalises Christianity. That's a more specific idea that allows us to create categories and theories. But just saying "God" is meaningless.

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We could look at a specific God...the Christian God.

 

That's basically what I was doing in the argument in my first post.

 

If there were a God as powerful and as loving as the Christian God, he would not abandon us.

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If there were a God as powerful and as loving as the Christian God, he would not abandon us.

The Christian God is loving.....? who knew :shrug:
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i agree that the term "God" is quite meaningless. i think you're missing my point, because i'm talking about the utility of the argument rather than the identity of "God."

 

but i don't see how being specific in this type of abductive argument (which only speaks to likelihood anyway) yields any specific results: what difference does it make if i'm arguing for the likely existence of "the Christian God" or "Odin" or any other god... the argument is the same. (I could make an ontological argument for the existence of Satan or the Easter Bunny, for that matter and the argument is still the same.)

 

moreover, i think the term "divine reality" is effective because multiple "supernatural entities" can be classified under the same type of term. Even "the Christian God" is sort of vague.... do you mean Paul's God, St. Augustine's God, St. Thomas' God, Martin Luther's God, John Calvin's God, Jerry Falwell's God, Thomas Jefferson's God...etc.??

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http://www.fallacyfiles.org/ignorant.html

 

 

I think it may also be an appeal to ignorance to simply say:

 

There is no (incontrovertible) evidence for God.

Therefore, God does not exist.

 

 

 

If this argument is used properly then it is not an appeal to ignorance or a fallacy.

 

It has to do with how God is defined. The god of the bible is defined with impossible attributes no different than those of Santa Claus or Leprechauns, therefore no such creatures exist. That also includes, spirits, demons, devils, ghosts and the supernatural. These things are all part of the big theistic myth - God.

 

Gods are nothing more than superstitious, mythological fairy tales born out of ignorance.

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i agree that the term "God" is quite meaningless. i think you're missing my point, because i'm talking about the utility of the argument rather than the identity of "God."

 

but i don't see how being specific in this type of abductive argument (which only speaks to likelihood anyway) yields any specific results: what difference does it make if i'm arguing for the likely existence of "the Christian God" or "Odin" or any other god... the argument is the same. (I could make an ontological argument for the existence of Satan or the Easter Bunny, for that matter and the argument is still the same.)

 

moreover, i think the term "divine reality" is effective because multiple "supernatural entities" can be classified under the same type of term. Even "the Christian God" is sort of vague.... do you mean Paul's God, St. Augustine's God, St. Thomas' God, Martin Luther's God, John Calvin's God, Jerry Falwell's God, Thomas Jefferson's God...etc.??

 

Hmm...ok, I accept that.

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