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Fallacies of Circular Reasoning

 

 

Whenever a logical fallacy is committed, the fallacy has its roots in Agrippa's trilemma which is simply the fact that the foundation of all human thought (without Divine revelation) is one of three unhappy possibilities. These three possibilities are infinite regression, circular reasoning, or bare assertions without any evidence.

 

Fallacies of Circular Reasoning (Assuming the conclusion as a starting point for proving the conclusion)

  • Logical Fallacy of Circular Reasoning / Petitio Principii / Circulus in Demonstrando / Paradoxical Thinking / Circle in Proving / Circular Logic / Circular Argument / Circulus in Probando / Meatpoison: occurs when the premises are accepted as true only because the conclusion is desired. There are several forms of circular reasoning as this section points out. In some form, circular reasoning is assuming the conclusion as a starting point, and then working logic to arrive back at the conclusion. Begging the question usually uses valid logic in that the conclusion always follows from the premise, since the conclusion is simply the premise re-stated. The premise and conclusion are one and the same. That is why it is called circular reasoning. EXAMPLE "The rocks are used to date the fossils and the fossils are used to date the rocks." This is never stated this clearly, but following the logic through its many contortions, this is how the dating methods actually work. EXAMPLE "We use the scientific method to judge the scientific method." EXAMPLE "We know that these fossils with soft tissue in them are millions of years old because of their place in the geologic column and radioactive dating." The problem is that this doesn't tell us anything, because the proofs that are used for dating the fossils are all based on presuppositions of billions of years and no Genesis flood. EXAMPLE "We know that the Bible is God's Word because the Bible says that it is God's Word." It isn't necessary to use circular reasoning. We know because God says so. How do we know that God is telling the truth? When we hear His Voice and acknowledge Him in submissive reverence, His faith comes to us and we believe. So, we believe God supernaturally because we hear Him and acknowledge Him. Then, we know that the Bible is God's word because God reveals this fact to us by Divine revelation. At a certain point, someone must be believed. Why do Christians believe? Because God has imparted His faith to them. Someone can shoehorn that into a logical fallacy, but doing so makes every observation of science a logical fallacy by the same definition. The choice is between Divine revelation and human fallacies, arbitrary assumptions, and stories. That is not a false dichotomy. Another way is to say it is that you either believe God or you don't. Whom will you believe? This is actually the root of arguments between those who follow Christ and other people, so it is a good conflict to understand. This is why God clearly states: "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of proclamation [literal] to save those who believe." God proclaims through His various methods. If we acknowledge, His faith comes as a free gift. This is not circular reasoning, but it is a largely unrecognized law of how things work.
    EXAMPLE "We know that these fossils with soft tissue in them are millions of years old because these fossils are millions of years old." The problem is that this doesn't tell us anything. EXAMPLE "We don't want to allow research into Creation science because it has no support in the scientific community." This is a circular argument, because scientists who don't enthusiastically embrace the Big-Bang-Billions-or-Years-No-Flood-Molecules-to-Man story (and denounce the Creation-Flood account) are routinely discriminated against in academia, and also in industry. Schools coerce science students on this issue. And then the word, "scientists," is defined to exclude anyone who doesn't kowtow to the sacred cow story.

  • Circular Generalization Fallacy: occurs when an exception to a conclusion (which would normally mean that the conclusion was not true) is claimed to be compatible with the conclusion and even proof of it. Generally, this involves a just-so story, which is an ad hoc hypothesis to explain away the contradictory evidence. The real problem is when the contradiction is then used as proof for the conclusion with which is conflicts. EXAMPLE The Inflation story is an ad hoc hypothesis designed to rescue the Big Bang, and then is sometimes used as proof for the Big Bang, but it's just a story. EXAMPLE The Dark Matter-Dark Energy story is an ad hoc hypothesis designed to rescue the Big Bang, and then is sometimes used as proof for the Big Bang, but it's just a story.
  • Logical Fallacy of Begging the Question / Vicious Circle / Chicken And Egg Argument: occurs when the conclusion of the argument is one of the premises/axioms/principles on which the argument itself rests. That is, when the conclusion, the very thing that is in question, is assumed in a premise. The presence of the conclusion being the basis for the premise is usually well concealed and difficult to detect. This is a form of circular reasoning.
  • Logical Fallacy of Circular Reference: occurs when a series of logical arguments are stated, one depending on the other until the final argument supplies the premises of the first argument. This is a type of circular reasoning that is very difficult to detect, since most people don’t even follow their own reasoning back more than a few arguments.
  • Question Begging Analogy: occurs when an analogy is made between two things, but the analogy rests on an assumption that amount to circular reasoning. It is a type of circular reasoning. INVALID FORM “A is similar to B (the similarity is dependent on an assumption which is dependent on the conclusion]. A is C. Therefore, B is C.” EXAMPLE “Creation scientists are like uneducated people. [assumes the conclusion]. Uneducated people don’t understand science. Therefore, Creation scientists don’t understand science.” The false assumption is that Creation scientists are like uneducated people. Since this is an assertion contrary to fact, the only way it is supported is by the conclusion of the argument--for which it is the premise. EXAMPLE “The Bible is similar to an anvil that can’t be broken. When you hammer on anvils, they are strong enough to take a beating. Therefore, when you hammer on the Bible, it is strong enough to take the beating.” This is an example of the fallacy where the conclusion is actually true despite the fact that the logic is flawed. And flawed logic is totally unnecessary to defend the Bible. Without the word, "therefore," the analogy would have been a good, but limited, analogy. We don’t believe that the Bible can stand up to any attack because it is like an anvil, though. We know, by Divine revelation, that the Bible is God’s Word without error. God speaks this into our innermost minds. Then, He speaks the same thing through the Bible. People with a dogmatic belief in not-God will assert that God doesn’t reveal anything, but they are basing this on a use-mention error. If they were interested in the truth rather than just winning an argument (what is the prize?) they would simply test Him by praying to Him with persistence, sincerity, humility, repentance, and a will to do His will. They would need to want to leave sin behind, though.
  • Logical Fallacy of Question-Begging Epithet: occurs when biased, often emotional, language is used to persuade rather than logic. To be question-begging, it must presuppose the thing that it is trying to support or prove. Question-begging epithets are attempts to stir emotions in order to distract people's attention from the meat of the logic--especially when playing to the crowd. Question-begging epithets can include claims with no support for the claims, rhetoric, empty words, or any remarks without substance. The other part of the problem is that the entire communication is based on circular reasoning or question-begging.If you assume the very thing that you are trying to prove, you are guilty of the fallacy of circular reasoning.
  • Logical Fallacy of Question-Begging Complex Question / Framing Fallacy / Loaded Question / Not Understanding the Problem / Defining the Problem Incorrectly / Trick Question / Multiple Question / Plurium Interrogationum / Fallacy of Many Questions / Surfeit of Questions: occurs when a question that requires several answers is asked. Often, a single simple answer is demanded. The question or problem is often posed in a way that steers the conclusion or when a solution or answer is sought without first correctly defining the problem/question. These types of questions have presuppositions hidden within them, are asked. The problem is being misunderstood because of presuppositions. Presuppositions are hidden in words and phrases like obviously, why, when, how, we already know, or anyone can see that. Presupposition is a powerful method of deception and one of the tools of the hypnotic technique of neuro linguistic programming. EXAMPLE Bill Nye, arguing against Creation Science: "Then, uh, by the way, the fundamental thing that we disagree on, Ken Ham, is this nature of what you can prove to yourself. This is to say, when people make assumptions based on radiometric dating, when they make assumptions about the expanding Universe, when they make assumptions about the rate at which genes change in populations of bacterial in laboratory growth media, they're making assumptions based on previous experience. They're not coming out of whole cloth" Bill Nye is focusing on the wrong problem. It is not what you can prove to yourself. It is about what you can really know. If you allow yourself the leeway to make just one assumption, you can prove anything to yourself. Anything! This is why two people can look at the same creation (or the same Bible) and come to radically different conclusions. Bill sees a small part of it, but is still defining it incorrectly, so he can never solve it from that mindset. The problem is a comparison between two things, yes. One of those things, as identified, is whether it is valid to think "you can prove things to yourself" that is, know anything by making assumptions. The other thing, which Mr. Nye has not identified, is whether you can know anything by revelation. This brings us to the old philosophy of rationalism. Unfortunately, the word, "rationalism," and the word, "rationalize," sound a bit like the word, "rational." However, they are the opposite. To rationalize is to think something irrational and make believe that it is rational. Rationalism is an assumption, a philosophy, a religion, that says that the human mind can create knowledge, miraculous revelation, without the benefit of either observation or revelation. Stating the thing that we fundamentally agree on in simple terms, it is about the nature of what you can know (not what you can prove to yourself, since you can prove things that are untrue to yourself) is it more reasonable to say that the human mind miraculously reveals knowledge or that God miraculously reveals knowledge? The question stated another way is this: Is the human mind a god, or is God God? And this is the argument in a nutshell. Both are looking at the same creation and using the same scientific method and scientific tools. Mr. Nye worships his own mind and the minds of those who tell him what he wants to hear. Mr. Ham worships God.
  • Circular Cause and Consequence: occurs when the consequence of the phenomenon is claimed to be its root cause.
  • Logical Fallacy of Question-Begging Rejection of Faith: occurs when faith is rejected based on a presupposition. EXAMPLES Atheism, Naturalism, Materialism, or Scientism when they are taken as presuppositions without verifiable, deductive proof are philosophies based on the question-begging rejection of faith.
  • Self-Referential Fallacy: occurs when a sentence, idea, or formula refers to itself. Example: Picking oneself up by one's own bootstraps. EXAMPLE "The Universe (creation) created itself from nothing."
  • It Ought To Be True, So It Is: occurs when an arbitrary assumption is made about what ought to be true and this assumption is used to reason that it is true. This is a form of circular reasoning, since it assumes the conclusion in the premise.


Author/Compiler
Last updated: Sep, 2014
 
 


Logical Fallacy of Begging the Question/Circular Reasoning

Circular Generalization Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Begging the Question / Vicious Circle / Chicken And Egg Argument

Logical Fallacy of Circular Reference

Logical Fallacy of Question Begging Analogy

Logical Fallacy of Question-Begging Epithet

Logical Fallacy of Question-Begging Complex Question / Framing Fallacy / Loaded Question / Not Understanding the Problem / Defining the Problem Incorrectly / Trick Question / Multiple Question / Plurium Interrogationum / Fallacy of Many Questions:

Logical Fallacy of Circular Cause and Consequence

Logical Fallacy of Question-Begging Rejection of Faith

Self-Referential Fallacy

"It Ought To Be True, So It Is" Fallacy



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