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Welcome! This is the place to ask the community of experts and other fallacyophites (I made up that word) if someone has a committed a fallacy or not. This is a great way to settle a dispute! This is also the home of the "Mastering Logical Fallacies" student support.


Dr. Bo's Criteria for Logical Fallacies:

  1. It must be an error in reasoning not a factual error.
  2. It must be commonly applied to an argument either in the form of the argument or in the interpretation of the argument.
  3. It must be deceptive in that it often fools the average adult.

Therefore, we will define a logical fallacy as a concept within argumentation that commonly leads to an error in reasoning due to the deceptive nature of its presentation. Logical fallacies can comprise fallacious arguments that contain one or more non-factual errors in their form or deceptive arguments that often lead to fallacious reasoning in their evaluation.

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Jacob

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Jacob


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Mon, Sep 02, 2019 - 06:23 PM

The Euthyphro Fallacy?

This is an argument I have had with theists.
Theist: We know god is good because of the good things he has done.
Me: But what about all the bad things he has done.
Theist: God is good no matter what because goodness is defined by what god does.
Me: If it is only possible for god to do good things, then it is pointless to use good things as proof that god is good.

I have argued with many theists who at first argue that God is good because he did X or Y but when I press them with all the bad things god supposedly did in the bible they fall back on one reason, which I feel invalidates all the other reasons. If god is good even if he is the cause of the most awful things imaginable, then the most awful things imaginable prove that he is good. Saying god is good because he helped my grama recover from the flu is the same as saying god is good because he killed 50 million people in WW2.

This is basically the Euthyphro Dilemma
From http://www.philosophy-index.com/plato/euthyphro/dilemma/
The Euthyphro Dilemma is a philosophical problem concerned with a view of morality related to theism. The Euthyphro Dilemma asks: do the gods love good action because it is good, or is good action good because it is loved by the gods? The problem comes from Plato's Euthyphro, and is asked by Socrates to Euthyphro.

So my question is: What fallacy is the assumption that god is good because everything he does is good? Question Begging?

Furthermore what fallacy is a man committing if he believes that god is good both because he does good things and because he is good no matter what he does?

Thanks



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Steven White

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Print Fri, Sep 27, 2019 - 10:54 PM
The question of if God is good or bad is the wrong question.

The question is if God actually created all life is He then entitled to do with it as He pleases without considerations of actions being good or bad?


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Jordan Pine

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Print Sun, Sep 15, 2019 - 11:16 AM
God is good no matter what because goodness is defined by what god does.

This argument seems circular, but it is more rational than it would first appear. The problem is shifting frames of reference. Are good and evil defined using absolute terms — or relativistic ones? If absolute, who is the authority (God, another god, current social mores)? If relativistic, whose frame of reference is being used (yours, mine or a consensus of your friends or mine)?

What is happening in your sample dialogue is exactly this shift. The Theist clearly believes in God as an absolute authority. Thus, it is perfectly rational for him to say: “God is good no matter what He does.” The very definition of “good” is “what God approves,” and the definition of “evil” is “what God disapproves.”

The Atheist typically believes in either his own judgment, current social mores — or a combination of both. That’s why the conversation shifts perspective and goes nowhere. What if God does something evil? Well, evil by whose definition? Who decides what is evil or good?

It’s also important to keep in mind that Theists believe God’s thinking is superior in every way to human thinking. We are not God. We do not have his omniscience and omnipresence. We are inside time, and He is outside of it. Like little children, we are not able to see the consequences of our own actions, so we must follow His rules, be humble and accept that He has a plan. A human challenging God with logic is cute and all, but it’s much like a young child challenging a parent’s logic. You just can’t explain things to the child in a way he or she can understand.

The Apostle Paul captures this nicely in his letter to the church at Rome:

“What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses,

‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’

“It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy ... God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

“One of you will say to me: ‘Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?’ But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?” (Romans 9:14-16 & 18-21)


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Michael Chase Walker
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Michael Chase Walker

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About Michael Chase Walker

Michael Chase Walker is an actor, author, screenwriter, producer, and a former adjunct lecturer for the College of Santa Fe Moving Images Department, and Dreamworks Animation. His first motion picture was the animated classic, The Last Unicorn.
Michael was an in-house television writer for the hit television series: He-Man, She-Ra, Voltron, and V, the Series. In 1985, he was appointed Director of Children's programs for CBS Entertainment where he conceived, shaped and supervised the entire 1985 Saturday Morning line-up: Wildfire, Pee Wee's Playhouse, Galaxy High School, Teen Wolf, and over 10
Print Mon, Sep 02, 2019 - 07:44 PM
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”


― Epicurus

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JohnWilson

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Print Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - 01:40 AM
Regarding your premise - that god has done bad things: "But what about all the bad things he has done."
How do you know your premise is true? Your premise is subjective based on your belief - and what you know. At best it is an opinion based on the knowledge you have. Your knowledge may not be complete.
The theist must have not been able to think on his feet very well.
Sounds like an conversation from the book of Job.


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Bo Bennett, PhD
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Bo Bennett, PhD

Author of Logically Fallacious

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About Bo Bennett, PhD

Bo's personal motto is "Expose an irrational belief, keep a person rational for a day. Expose irrational thinking, keep a person rational for a lifetime."  Much of his charitable work is in the area of education—not teaching people what to think, but how to think.  His projects include his book, The Concept: A Critical and Honest Look at God and Religion, and Logically Fallacious, the most comprehensive collection of logical fallacies.  Bo's personal blog is called Relationship With Reason, where he writes about several topics related to critical thinking.  His secular (humanistic) philosophy is detailed at PositiveHumanism.com.
Bo is currently the producer and host of The Humanist Hour, the official broadcast of the American Humanist Association, where he can be heard weekly discussing a variety of humanistic issued, mostly related to science, psychology, philosophy, and critical thinking.

Full bio can be found at http://www.bobennett.com
Print Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - 06:21 AM
What fallacy is the assumption that god is good because everything he does is good?

There is certainly question begging in there (the "because everything he does is good" part). This is also an unfalsifiable proposition and a self-dealing argument.

Furthermore what fallacy is a man committing if he believes that god is good both because he does good things and because he is good no matter what he does?

A lot going on here including fallacies already covered, plus circular reasoning (i.e., god is said to be good by his actions - his actions must be good because he is god). Ultimately this is a faith claim (appeal to faith) that simply cannot be demonstrated and all evidence against the claim (e.g., the countless Bible verses that show God commanding horrible things) are dismissed based on the same fallacious reasoning (it can't be bad because god has to be good, so any other reason, no matter how improbable, must be the case).

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William Harpine, Ph.D.

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Print Mon, Sep 02, 2019 - 06:29 PM
Alternative: God is good, and the bad things are done by someone else. Still circular, I guess, but solves your problem.


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Steven Hobbs, PhD

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Print Mon, Sep 02, 2019 - 07:05 PM
This seems both Begging the Question and Biased Sample Fallacy.


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skips777

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Print Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - 04:58 AM
"Me: But what about all the bad things he has done."
Here's the logical problem with both sides reasoning.....Assuming a universe in which God (creator, maximally great, infinitely wise) exists.... All "dictation" from God to humanity about good and evil can only logically be what God wants humanity to think is good or evil "to humanity". In our limited wisdom, we surely cannot argue what is good or evil TO God. To interpret what is good and evil TO God, humanity must be as wise as God. We obviously aren't by definition.
Eg. Thou Shalt Not Kill. We can conclude, in a logical context, humanity should think killing 'murder' of one another should be evil to all people. But it isn't 100% bulletproof logic that therefore killing is evil to God. By the commandment, we can logically conclude in regards to what God thinks that God knows people are going to kill. Else why the commandment if humanity was NEVER going to kill, murder? There's also a difference as to what killing is to God versus what killing is to mankind. "Killing" to God must entail killing both physical body AND soul, spirit, etc. For God sees existence in its entirety as what God is capable of killing. Humanity, not possessing the ability to "kill" the soul, spirit, etc., cannot logically define it as anything other than ending the existence of the physical, i.e. body. Subsequently, when God removes the physical existence of any of humanity it is perceived as killing to us. But in order for it to be killing to God the disposition of the soul, spirit, etc. must also be known. Humanity does not know what God does with those souls, spirit, etc. that were "killed", therefore was it actually killing?... Ok, too much typing sucks. That's my best shot at an "argument"....lol


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Denken Karvane

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Print Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - 02:56 PM
First, the Eutiphon Dilemma itself is a fallacy of false dilemma.

Second, the theist just has to propose a third horn to the dilemma, in this case, "The nature of God is good." So, the reason God is good does not depend on an external factor or his will, but because it is part of his nature to be the supreme good.

Third, the theist does not have to justify the third horn, since this is not how it works to argue through a dilemma. In this case, the proponent of the Eutiphon Dilemma has to prove that the third horn is not a viable option and force the theist to choose between one of the two original horns.


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Colin P

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Print Fri, Sep 06, 2019 - 04:59 PM
As you put the arguments, affirming the consequent. But the arguments do not represent Christian theology. And in your grappling with the nature of God I would ask you about the nature of man: can we be good without God?


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Jim Tarsi

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Print Tue, Sep 10, 2019 - 12:22 PM
P1: If God does good things, God is good.
P2: Everything God does is a good thing.
C: God is good.

I don't know the exact name for the fallacy, but he is defining his terms in a way that makes the argument sound. It's a similar idea to the one in the old riddle "How many legs does a dog have if you call a tail a leg? The answer is 4; just because you call a tail a leg doesn't make it one."

There is also the obvious question without an obvious answer, "What is good?" To quote Shakespeare. "There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

I hope I have at least given you something to think about.


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Print Mon, Sep 16, 2019 - 11:06 AM
The weakness of the argument is in the bit that goes "We know . . . " I myself have no idea about the existence let alone the qualities of God - whether He is good or bad, pink or blue etc - and neither does the theist. While talking about the Good etc, may make one feel warm and fluffy, it is all conjecture. The premise (His existence) has not been demonstrated.

Hitchens' Razor: "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence".


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Michael Hurst

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Print Tue, Sep 17, 2019 - 01:04 PM
This answer seems to be a logical fallacy itself. The statement about God doing bad things was based on descriptions in the bible. So you are not questioning the reasoning, only one of the factual bases. Your argument is simply a disagreement about the facts, not the validity of the reasoning.


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Registered User Comments

Colin P
Thursday, September 19, 2019 - 06:13:33 PM
@NJH: The weakness of the answer is that it ignores the evidence :-)

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kylee
Wednesday, September 04, 2019 - 11:13:57 AM
How could you know what is good if you had no concept of bad?

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