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« Are Theists the Only People Who Have the “Burden of Proof”? | Main | Challenge: So Heavenly Minded, They're No Earthly Good »

June 03, 2013


Here's an argument for 'Y'.

1) If Islam is true, then Y.

2) Islam is true.

Therefore Y.

Someone might reject this argument saying That's a religious argument!

Apparently, they're signalling that they're not Muslim.

Or, maybe they're saying that they now expect some support for premise (2).

This is no big deal: Just support premise (2).

Hi Ron,

I am not able to listen to the video clip of Greg at the moment so I am only responding based on the text in the post and your response, so I admit what I write may not be 100% on point. If that is the case, my apologies.

In my experience some people dismiss any argument, even with evidence given, with a wave of the hand saying that it is "religious". Even if arguments are made to support premise #2 (in your analogy) and evidence is given for the theist's position, it is dismissed outright.

Darth Dutch

Darth Dutch,

What do you do when you hear an argument you've heard before and found wanting?


If that's the case you don't dismiss the argument because it is "religious", you would discuss and reasons why you find the argument insufficient.

Rather than deal with the argument itself, I've had people dismiss it outright because it is religious in nature which is to commit the genetic fallacy in my understanding.

Darth Dutch

If the author of this video is not entirely sure what it means to say, “An argument is religious” (as he claimed) then perhaps he ought to read Gregory Koukl’s “Tactics,” which suggests one ask, “What do you mean by that?” This would clarify what the person was thinking, or meant by the statement.

It seems to me that when a person dismisses an argument purely because "it's religious", they are expressing pure bigotry. They've started with the conclusion—all religion is false—and using that conclusion to rule out any and all evidence which contradicts that conclusion. Logically, that's begging the question. Morally, it's prejudice.

Darth Dutch,

This is getting silly.

If the argument depends on the truth of X-ism and you don't regard X-ism as true, then it is clear enough to say I'm not an X-ist or That's an X-ist argument.

That's not a genetic fallacy.

If the argument DOES NOT depend on the truth of X-ism and you say one of these things, that IS a genetic fallacy.

Hi Ron,

I still haven't had a chance to listen to the video because I am at work at the moment, so with that caveat still in place....

One saying they are not a Christian is different than saying the reason they reject Christianity is because it is "religious".

If you have heard an argument you have heard before and found wanting (referencing your first response to me), then of course you reject the argument, but hopefully for reasons beyond just "it's religious". Not sure what is silly about that.

Darth Dutch

saying the reason they reject Christianity is because it is "religious".

It's the rejection of an argument because it is religiously-based that I think we'be been talking about (until now) not the rejection of Christianity because it is is religious.

Take homosexuality. You can argue against it from the Bible. Somebody that professes to believe the whole Bible is true will have to take notice. Others won't.

It's odd, by the way, to see this video. Christian apologists often give secular [winces] arguments for religiously-based positions they hold. I've heard such arguments against abortion and also against same-sex marriage, for example.

Because they make these arguments, it's clear these apologists recognize that arguments rooted in Christianity are not persuasive to many people. Yet, Koukl acts shocked SHOCKED to hear that some 'dismiss arguments as religious'.

Fine Ron. Take Christianity out of it. My point is still that someone dismissing an argument solely for this amorphous undefined reason as being "religious" is not the same as dismissing something for actual reasons. I would hope that someone would have reasons to dismiss something beyond an "it's religious" explanation.

I also don't see why it's such a bad thing to have "secular" reasons for holding a position that also happen to line up with the Bible. If the Bible is true in saying something is right or wrong it makes sense that the "rightness" or "wrongness" of the thing could be seen via other venues, not necessarily religious.

Darth Dutch

RonH is a contrarian.
If Greg states that the sky is blue, Ron will argue all day long that it isn't. Don't waste your time.

1) If Islam is true, then Y.

2) Islam is true.

Therefore Y.

If this argument is bad, it is bad for one of two reasons.

First, the connection asserted between the truth of Islam and Y might not exist. Second, Islam might not be true.

There is no other possible reason in this or any universe that that argument can be bad.

In particular, it cannot be bad because it is religious.

That is the whole Greg's point. He is not arguing that religious premises in religious arguments should get a pass. He's saying that an argument's connection with religion is not an automatic refutation of the argument.

Greg is setting himself against people who are looking for a way to short-circuit discussion by finding that one side has some connection with religion, be that connection oblique (e.g. the arguer is religious, and therefore the argument is religious) or central (e.g. Ron's Islam argument).

Ron, your point that someone might deny premise 2 is totally in keeping with Greg's remarks, since it is a straightforward challenge of the soundness of the argument.

This is all so obvious that I'm not sure why you troubled yourself to even set up that particular straw man. (Unless Lumbergh is right...are you just arguing for the sake of being contrary?)

It should go without saying that arguments can’t be dismissed simply because the person making the argument is religious (that’s ultimately the issue). Greg is not talking about someone saying, “It’s that way because my religion said so.”

On the flipside, can we dismiss all Ron’s arguments because he’s godless?

As in…

1) If God does not exist, then Y

2) God does not exist

Therefore Y.

If anything I see this type of thinking and entrenchment much more from atheists than theists. And I try to get out and about a bit.

Maybe some who reject an argument by saying That's a religious argument mean that the argument is bad because it's religious. Seems bizarre to me but, maybe.

Maybe some intend to suggest that another kind of argument for Y might be more quicker or more likely to convince them. Seems plausible to me.

Maybe some have reasons for saying this that I would never think of.

DagwoodS suggests a way to find out in any particular case: Just say, “What do you mean by that?”

...this question uncovers valuable information; it helps you know what a person thinks. There are two reasons this is important: You don't want to misunderstand him, and you don't want to misrepresent him.

- Guess Who. Guess Where

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