4 Informal Logical Fallacies & Biblical Examples

By Billy Dyer

Is logic foreign to the New Testament? Is it a field of study we should reserve for the philosophers and let the theologians be by themselves? Of course not! Logic is logic and works in every field of reality. If God is the God of Truth then we should expect to see Him, the inventor of logic, using logic. Humans didn’t invent logic, we simply use it, name it, and study it. Today I want to look at a few examples of Informal Logical Fallacies and how the Bible actually uses these principles correctly.

The Law of Non-Contradiction

  • It states, “Two contradictory statements cannot possibly be true at the same time and in the same relationship.”
  • For example you couldn’t say, “The Earth is round and not round.”
  • This law is fundamental to thinking. You cannot have a conversation without it. We all use it intuitively. If someone denies this law then you can point out they are actually using it right now. What do I mean? If I were to say, “There is a Law of Non-Contradiction” and someone said, “No there is not” then they would be contradicting me to say there is none!!!
  • 1st John 2:4 says, The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” John states it is a contradiction to profess to know Christ and yet not obey him. You cannot do both at the same time.

Hasty Generalization

  • This law points out the fallacy when we jump to a conclusion without sufficient data. We extrapolate from a small sample to create a general rule.
  • People/Organizations formulate rules or policies from accidental or exceptional situations.
  • For example…When the youth group has an overnighter and someone breaks a window. The Church will then make a rule that we can never have another overnighter because they are destructive to the Church building.
  • Biblical Example…Someone reads a story of God destroying Sodom/Gomorrah and concludes He is a wrathful and mean God. They did not collect enough data to balance God’s characteristics.

Dicto Simpliciter

  • If hasty generalizations go from a small sample to a general rule dicto simpliciter is when you presume that what is true in general, under normal circumstances, is true under all circumstances without exception.
  • For example…The speed limit on the highway is 65 mph in Maryland. But police cars exceed that speed all the time. Well they are not under normal circumstances if they are chasing an armed robber or responding to a call for help.
  • Biblical Example…I read an article a few years ago which denied that Enoch and Elijah were translated directly to heaven. What was their basis? Romans 5:12 which says, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Their reasoning was this; If death spread to all men then Enoch & Elijah couldn’t have circumvented death. The author was guilty of the dicto simpliciter fallacy for the Bible clearly says that a whole group of people are going to escape physical death if they are Christians when the Lord returns.

The Reductive Fallacy

  • This fallacy occurs when we attempt to reduce a complex entity to only one of its many aspects
  • Key words that are generally used for this fallacy are “just”, “only”, “merely”, “simply”, “nothing but”.
  • For example…”Man is just an animal” or “Music is nothing but sound waves.” These states hold truth but not the whole truth. Man is more than just an animal and music is more than sound waves. My burp is a sound wave but it surely isn’t music.
  • Biblical Example…Have you ever heard someone say, “God is love”? Would you agree or disagree? I guess as is we could agree with the statement but I might disagree with the intent behind the statement. When people use this phrase most of the time what they are really attempting to say is that “God is only love”. But God is also Holy. There is a balance to His nature (Romans 11:22).

The Church needs to be wary of using logical fallacies in our theology. If we want good theology we need to use good logic. Can you think of better biblical examples than what I used?

For more articles like 4 Informal Logical Fallacies & Biblical Examples go to Billy’s website at DyerThoughts.com

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10 replies
  1. toby says:

    If God is the God of Truth then we should expect to see Him, the inventor of logic, using logic.
    How does a god invent logic? If you persist in this then you have to admit that he is not bound to it and can do the logically impossible (which apologists claim he cannot do). Or you’ll have to fall back on “logic flows from god’s nature and thus we exhibit it as we are ‘made in his image'”.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      Right. And isn’t inventing something in itself a logical act? Therefore it needs to exist before someone starts creating anything.

      If logic required creating then before its creation the law of non contradiction wouldn’t apply. Meaning the laws of logic could both exist and not exist, before it was created!

      Doesn’t it make more sense to simply say that the laws of logic exist necessarily and therefore apologists cannot ‘steal credit’ by attributing it to a God?

      Reply
      • toby says:

        Doesn’t it make more sense to simply say that the laws of logic exist necessarily and therefore apologists cannot ‘steal credit’ by attributing it to a God?
        They’d never do that. They’ll fall back on the “his nature” junk. Which is no explanation at all. Asked why god is logical they’ll reply, “Because he’s god and that’s just the way he his. It requires no explanation because he’s the greatest possible being.” There’s really no justification for saying god is logical by default. They say, “With god all things are possible,” but they need to put a footnote on that that says, “Except things we can’t understand and call ‘logically impossible’.” Apologists are good at finding the cracks to wriggle through in attempt to keep their dogma valid in their minds.

        Reply
        • craig says:

          …They’d never do that. They’ll fall back on the “his nature” junk. Which is no explanation at all.

          Why is it “no explanation at all”? According to whom? Non-theists have no problem accepting nor question the existence of The God Delusion as being solely the product of the mind of Richard Dawkins which is far more complex than the book (to paraphrase Lennox). It requires no further explanation than that. Why is that explanation okay and “his nature junk” not?

          Reply
  2. Lamar says:

    Logic being intrinsic to Gods nature requires no more justification than 2+2 = 4. Also the “all things are possible” verse needs no footnote. An illogical set of conditions isn’t a “thing”. Its a “non thing”. It doesn’t and can’t possibly exist.

    Reply
  3. William Dyer says:

    Gentlemen,
    I concur with what you said. The Laws of Logic were not invented. That was probably a poor choice of words on my part. To restate what I intended to say the first time let me say that God did not invent logic. What I meant was that God instilled logic, that flows from his very nature, into our universe. I don’t find that as slipping through the cracks of anything. If you do think it is then please explain.

    Reply
    • toby says:

      What I meant was that God instilled logic, that flows from his very nature, into our universe.
      And how do you know that? What keeps god from having a higher logic than our own that makes him capable of doing what we perceive to be logically impossible? Yours and other apologists feelings? I think you’d readily admit that your god is greater than you and “his ways are not our ways”. Has he revealed all about himself?

      Reply
          • Van says:

            Toby no one doesn’t.. one only needs to define the attributes of God, of a perfect supreme being. Reason (logic) does not come from the bible, it comes from God. Therefore requiring proof that the bible is of divine origin in order to show that God is not self contradicting is a red herring.

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