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By Alisa Childers

It has happened to many of us. We post an¬†encouraging Bible verse like Psalm 145:9 on Facebook:¬†“The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”¬†By¬†noon an atheist from somewhere in social media land has found the post and leaves a lovely comment:

Really? Your god is good? He’s so good and compassionate that he decided to literally¬†drown the whole world in a flood? So good he’s okay with slavery? That god? Yeah‚ÄĒhe sounds awesome.¬†

‚ÄčThe person who leaves comments like these probably isn’t looking for a real conversation, but they are a great example of the abundance of bad logic waiting to be discovered in the dark corners of cyberspace. Here are the 5 most illogical people you will meet on the internet, and how to spot their fallacies:

The 5 Most Illogical People You Will Meet on the Internet

1. The Straw Man

How easy do you think it would be to knock down a pretend man made entirely of straw? It would be a lot easier than knocking down a real man‚ÄĒthat’s for sure. This happens in the world of social media disagreement All. The. Time. The “Straw Man” is a fallacy in which¬†someone oversimplifies or misrepresents the view of their opponent (builds a straw man), and then argues against that false view (knocks the straw man down). Straw men can often be found in discussions about abortion:

  • You: “I think there is good¬†scientific evidence that life begins at conception.”
  • Straw man:¬†“So what you’re saying is that¬†women should lose their rights and this country should be sent back to the ‚Äė50s? That’s ridiculous.”

You made a claim about scientific evidence‚ÄĒnot women’s rights.¬†The straw man has misrepresented your argument and created one that is much easier to refute.

2.  The Red Herring

The “Red Herring” fallacy is committed when someone brings up an irrelevant point that diverts attention from the original point being made. Changing the subject doesn’t actually win an argument, but it¬†can¬†make people forget what they were disagreeing about in the first place.

  • You: “I¬†believe¬†the Bible teaches that Jesus claimed to be God.”
  • Red Herring: “The Bible is just a human book‚ÄĒno different from any other book.”

The red herring has diverted attention away from what the Bible¬†teaches¬†to the credibility of the Bible¬†as a book. It’s a worthy discussion, but it’s a different discussion‚ÄĒdon’t take the bait.

‚Äč3. ¬†The Character¬†Assassinator¬†

This fallacy is called “Ad-Hominem,” and attacks¬†the character of the person making the claim, rather than addressing the person’s actual argument.

  • You: “I believe it’s in the best interest of children for marriage to be between one man and one woman.”
  • ‚ÄčCharacter Assassinator: “You only believe this¬†because you’re a bigot.”

The character assassinator has shifted the focus from your claim to their perception of the motive behind it‚ÄĒthus avoiding the actual argument.¬†The straw man, red herring, and character assassinator can all be handled in a similar way‚ÄĒby gently bringing them back to your original point.

‚Äč4. ¬†The Self-Defeater

The self-defeater is a person who makes a statement that refutes itself. You can spot a self-defeating statement by taking the claim that is being made and applying that claim to the statement itself.

  • You: “I believe Christianity is¬†true.”
  • Self-defeater: “There is no such thing as truth”

‚ÄčIf you can spot this self-defeating statement, one simple question¬†will bring the fallacy to the surface: “Is¬†that true?”

5. The Gish Galloper

The “Gish Gallop” is a fallacy in which someone introduces so many (often individually weak) arguments in one space, that you could never possibly answer them all. This tends to happen more often in live-debate settings, but there are internet gish gallopers as well!

  • You: “I believe Jesus was resurrected from the dead.”
  • Gish galloper: “We can’t trust¬†anything the Bible says¬†because the Gospels were written hundreds of years after the apostles were alive, and they all tell different stories. In fact, the Old Testament flood and creation stories were simply copies of myths from the surrounding culture, and frankly, resurrection can’t happen because science has¬†proven¬†that miracles are not possible.¬†The story of Jesus is just a re-telling of other myths about dying and rising gods in agrarian¬†Mediterranean societies. Paul wasn’t really an apostle so we can’t trust what he said, and Jesus probably never even existed anyway.”

Notice that the gish galloper has introduced several¬†possibly related¬†but unsupported statements which no person with a life or a¬†real job would be able to sit down and answer in one sitting‚ÄĒit would take all day! There are a few different ways to handle a gish galloper but the simplest would be to stay within the scope of your original claim.¬†You didn’t make any claims about the Bible, flood or creation narratives, or Paul’s status as an apostle. You DID make a claim about a miracle, so that’s a good place to start.

Conclusion:

It’s easy for any of us to fall into some of these traps, so be looking for these 5 illogical people as you interact on social media‚ÄĒand be careful to not be one yourself!

Recommended resources related to the topic:

I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Paperback), and (Sermon) by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek¬†

Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Greg Koukl (Book)

Defending the Faith on Campus by Frank Turek (DVD Set, mp4 Download set, and Complete Package)

So the Next Generation will Know by J. Warner Wallace (Book and Participant’s Guide)

Fearless Faith by Mike Adams, Frank Turek, and J. Warner Wallace (Complete DVD Series)

 

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Alisa Childers is an American singer and songwriter, best known for being in the all-female Christian music group ZOEgirl. She has had a string of top ten radio singles, four studio releases, and received the Dove Award during her time with ZOEgirl. In later years, Alisa found her life-long faith deeply challenged when she started attending what would later identify as a Progressive Christian church. This challenge pushed Alisa toward Christian Apologetics. Today you can read, listen and watch Alisa’s work online as well as purchase her recently published book on Progressive Christianity titled Another Gospel.

Original Blog Source: https://cutt.ly/lcXvn9j

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