AIG’s Logic: Prepare To Lose Your Mind

The article we’re writing about is probably the all-time worst. Really. No exaggeration. It’s found at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), one of the major sources of young-earth creationist wisdom. AIG is the online ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the creationist Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia. He also brought you the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.

AIG’s mind-warping essay is titled Circular Reasoning. Forewarning: They like circular reasoning. They use it. They recommend it. Their article begins with what they say is a question someone sent in to them:

[I]n a recent discussion with a non-Christian, where I was using presuppositional apologetics, I was accused of using circular reasoning to argue my case. He claims that it is invalid to assume God exists to argue that God exists. On the surface, this seems to make sense. But I still firmly believe that it’s valid to presuppose that God exists.

How should I respond to his claims that my arguments are invalid due to circular reasoning?

The questioner said he was relying on this article at AIG: What Is “Presuppositional” Apologetics? You can read that if you like, but in a nutshell, this is what it says:

[P]resuppositional apologetics is a reasoned defense of Christian beliefs based on recognizing our presuppositions. For instance, my presupposition is that God exists and He has given us His Word (the Bible) that is absolute truth. … If we start off believing the Bible is the Word of God [scripture omitted], then we use it as our axiom. An axiom (often used in logic) is a proposition that is not susceptible to proof or disproof; its truth is assumed. … The battle is not over evidence but over philosophical starting points: presuppositions.

So the question put to AIG is whether their “presuppositional apologetics” amounts to nothing more than circular reasoning. Good question. Your Curmudgeon’s answer is that presupposing the existence of God can be taken on faith and used as an axiom in one’s religion. But although the religion is based on the assumption of God’s existence, it doesn’t prove God’s existence — claiming otherwise would be circular reasoning. This is simple stuff.

But you didn’t come here for our thinking on the question. Here are some excerpts from AIG’s answer, with bold font added by us:

The common accusation that the presuppositionalist uses circular reasoning is actually true. In fact, everyone uses some degree of circular reasoning when defending his ultimate standard (though not everyone realizes this fact). Yet if used properly, this use of circular reasoning is not arbitrary and, therefore, not fallacious.

Aaaargh!! Circular reasoning is always fallacious, in the sense of starting with an axiom and then basing an argument upon it to “prove” that the axiom is true. Let’s read on:

Contrary to what your non-Christian friend said, circular reasoning is surprisingly a valid argument. The conclusion does follow from the premises.

Aaaargh!! Yes, the conclusion “follows from” the premises, but it doesn’t prove the premises. We continue:

Circular reasoning is a logical fallacy only when it is arbitrary, proving nothing beyond what it assumes.

Well, okay. But that’s a sloppy definition of circular reasoning. Here’s more:

However, not all circular reasoning is fallacious. Certain standards must be assumed. Dr. Jason Lisle gave this example of a non-arbitrary use of circular reasoning:

Without laws of logic, we could not make an argument.
We can make an argument.
Therefore, there must be laws of logic.

Aaaargh!! That is nothing more than a demonstration (clumsily worded) that logic is an essential axiom, which must be posited (without proof) in order to proceed with any argument.

That ghastly syllogism has a footnote to something written by Jason. We’ve posted about a couple of his articles in which he describes his scriptural logic, and from those posts you’ll get the full flavor of how he thinks — if you really want to know. See Creationist Wisdom — Example 56 and also Creationism and Logic. Moving along, the article comments — erroneously — on Jason’s brilliant syllogism:

While this argument is circular, it is a non-fallacious use of circular reasoning. Since we couldn’t prove anything apart from the laws of logic, we must presuppose the laws of logic even to prove they exist. In fact, if someone were trying to disprove that laws of logic exist, he’d have to use the laws of logic in his attempt, thereby refuting himself. Your non-Christian friend must agree there are certain standards that can be proven with circular reasoning.

That’s just flat-out stupid. It’s entirely true that the laws of logic are an essential axiom (if they were not, they nevertheless would be, because only logic rules out contradictions). But logic is not self-proving via circular reasoning. Logic is an essential axiom (there are a few others) but it is not an example of “good” circular reasoning. There aren’t any of those. Another excerpt:

Your basic presupposition — God exists and has revealed Himself in His inerrant, authoritative Word — is the ultimate standard.

The ultimate standard for Christian theology he should say. One could just as arbitrarily posit the existence of the Olympian gods and proceed from there. On with the article:

Presupposing God exists to argue that God exists is a reasonable circular argument because without the God of the Bible, we have no basis for assuming the laws of logic and their properties, let alone absolute morality or the uniformity of nature.

Aaaargh!! The article goes on and on (building on that shaky foundation) so we’ll give you just one more excerpt as a sample of what awaits you when you click over there to read it all for yourself, without our benevolent guidance:

Science itself requires the biblical God. Without the uniformity of nature, which can only be explained by God consistently upholding the universe, science would be a guessing game.

We’ve got to stop. Besides, we discussed that sort of thing in the second of our two earlier posts on Jason’s logic, to which we linked above. We don’t want to go through that again. Creationists should never lecture us on logic. It’s utterly alien to their nature.

Okay now, if you decide to read the whole AIG essay, you do so at your own risk. We’ll close with a bit of our own circular reasoning:

Self-Proving Truth Certificate

Everything written by the Curmudgeon in this blog is true. The presence of this Certificate is your proof. Our logic is undeniable.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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20 responses to “AIG’s Logic: Prepare To Lose Your Mind

  1. Hambo’s repeated circularity gives me acute vertigo. Where’s the dramamine?

  2. RetiredSciGuy

    Certificate of Authenticity

    This is to certify that everything that has been written in this blog, as well as everytrhing that will be written in this blog, is authentic.

  3. RetiredSciGuy

    It does not, however, certify that all posts shall be free of typos.

  4. RetiredSciGuy says: “It does not, however, certify that all posts shall be free of typos.”

    But it does certify that all typos will be true typos.

  5. Ham writes in defense of circular reasoning!?! He is truly his own worst enemy.

    The problem with Ham is that he lives and works in a bubble. Everyone around him is selected because they believe like he does – they can’t work there if they don’t – so he has no one to bounce ideas off of or get feedback from. It’s just an echo chamber. So no one is there that can tell him “no, Ken, circular reasoning is always bad, and you will look stupid if you say otherwise”.

    Ham needs to stop by a bar on the way home from work once in a while, and field-test some of these ideas.

  6. I am 30, slender, gorgeous, intellectually brilliant, have perfect eyesight and no physical ailments. I know this is true, because I just said it, therefore, I can say it and know that it’s true. I don’t have a certificate, but you should believe me anyway, because I said it…and I never make tpyos.

  7. This is the internet, Ellie. Of course I believe you.

  8. Dear Curmudgeon:
    I used to think your letters were made up, but I have to tell you what just happened to me. I’m a hunky 21 year old with an eight…

    Oh never mind. I. Just. Can’t.

  9. SY, meet Ellie. Ellie, meet SY. You two have a lot in common.

  10. This just mimics the rest of AIG’s festering drool academic publications: it has just enough complimacated words ‘n stuff to convince the average Liberty drop-out that it must be a devastatingly forceful refutation of all the wrong stuff that the Abortion Corps preach.

    It’s wonderfully Truthy: Do you really think they give a day-old dog turd whether it actually makes any sense?

  11. RetiredSciGuy

    Ed says, “Ham needs to stop by a bar on the way home from work once in a while, and field-test some of these ideas.”

    Ed, we’re talkin’ rural Northern Kentucky here. Not too sure there are many folk hangin’ around bars in that neck of the woods who know what circular reasoning is, except that it’s not the same as a circular saw. And even if they did know about circular reasoning, it’s a good bet they think like Ken Ham anyway.

    Ham probably did some market research before locating his museum there.

  12. RetiredScienceGuy: Exactly – you just have to count the number of churches per block.

    This gives a figure that rationalists term “religious density”.

  13. And Creationists grump about the Geologic Column being “circular reasoning” — that is, supposedly the fossils date the column and the column dates the fossils. And since that’s circular reasoning, which is bad, that makes it not so, and everything defaults to Creation in six days! It’s a little more complicated than that…

  14. Well, doggonnit, a bar or two in Ham’s neck o’ the woods would do the lot of ’em some good. Wasn’t that moonshine country at one time?

    If I were to open a bar, a good place might be right across the road from the creation museum. There would be a steady stream of people who, by the time they stumbled out, would really need a drink, or two or three. I might call it “Noah’s Bar” and put a street statue of an old battered cowboy hitchin his tired dinosaur to a post out front.

    Shoot, some folk might need a drink before they go into the museum.

  15. RetiredSciGuy

    Ed, I like the hitching post for dinosaurs. Maybe we can find one somewhere in the geologic column — perhaps in front of Fred Flintstone’s house.

    And if creationists grump about the geologic column being circular reasoning, they don’t understand a thing about it. The fossils don’t date the column; it’s primarily the decay rates of radioactive isotopes found in igneous rock layers that fix the time scale. Once you have a date derived from radiometric means, *then* you can use certain index fossils to estimate the age of sedimentary layers. The creationists must have been sleeping through 7th grade Earth Science classes. Or, more likely, they just blocked it out because their preacher told ’em they’d go straight to hell if they believed that “science stuff”.

  16. Way, way off topic, but all this talk about dinosaur hitching posts puts me in mind of Tex Avery’s The First Bad Man (1955), narrated by Tex Ritter and produced at MGM 5 years before The Flintstones premiered on television. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_First_Bad_Man

    It features enough outrageous anachronisms to make any creationist jump for joy, assuming he has a sense of humor. (Although horses haven’t evolved yet, the dinosaur-riding, outlaw of the title carries a 19th Century revolver, which leaves gaping, Fearless Fosdick-like bullet holes in man and beast…) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylmoCC9yAyI&feature=related

  17. “That’s just flat-out stupid.”

    That’s what I keep saying!

    🙂

  18. LRA says: “That’s what I keep saying!”

    You’re so judgmental! Try to be more open-minded.

  19. Ugh! “Presuppositionalism” is the worst form of anti-reason; pure intellectual Onanism.

  20. techreseller

    Ellie | 28-May-2011 at 11:58 am |

    I am 30, slender, gorgeous, intellectually brilliant, have perfect eyesight and no physical ailments

    So Ellie, I am, ummm, let’s see, 40, slender, handsome, intellectually brilliant, almost perfect eyesight and no physical ailments. You available?