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Logical Fallacy of Proof by Appeal to Naturalism

 

Logical Fallacy of Proof by Appeal to Naturalism

Appeal to naturalism is one of the many smokescreens that are used to cover the fact that the reasoning is based on one of the three fallacies of Agrippa's trilemma. Whenever a logical fallacy is committed, the fallacy has its roots in Agrippa's trilemma. All human thought (without Divine revelation) is based on one of three unhappy possibilities. These three possibilities are infinite regress, circular reasoning, or axiomatic thinking. This problem is known as Agrippa's trilemma. Some have claimed that only logic and math can be known without Divine revelation; however, that is not true. There is no reason to trust either logic or math without Divine revelation. Science is also limited to the pragmatic because of the weakness on human reasoning, which is known as Agrippa's trilemma.

The logical fallacy of proof by appeal to naturalism occurs when naturalism, the unfounded assumption that there is no spiritual realm, is used as a base assumption or axiom and treated as if it were a known fact. Appeal to naturalism is not to be confused with the naturalistic fallacy or the appeal to nature. This is a type of hysteron proteron.

When naturalism is used as part of the basis for proof to support a conclusion, it is generally not brought to the consciousness. Scientific writings don't mention it as an assumption for the most part. When it is mentioned as an assumption, it is a fallacy of flawed evidence. When it is merely presupposed, it is a fallacy of limiting presupposition. As a presupposition it is most powerful because it is much less likely to be challenged. It is difficult to expose the fact that it is part of the reasoning behind the conclusion. People are very protective of their innermost thoughts, and this one is very vulnerable, being an arbitrary assumption that has zero truth value.

There is the unnatural fallacy, the naturalistic fallacy, the proof by appeal to Naturalism, the fallacy of Naturalism, and the appeal to nature. You will find these fallacies all confused together in various sources. There seems to be no agreement. In addition, there are many definitions of the word, "natural." Although, it doesn't pay to get dogmatic about a certain definition, it would be nice to know what various authors are trying to say. Remember that the goal is to be able to tell truth from fiction.

Naturalism is not a valid basis for thought.

Examples of the Logical Fallacy of Proof by Appeal to Naturalism

Bill Nye, trying to prove that the Genesis Flood didn't take place to prove that the Creation didn't take place: “You can try this yourself, everybody. I mean, I don’t mean to be mean to trees, but get a sapling and put it under water for a year. It will not survive in general, nor will its seeds. They just won’t make it."

Bill is assuming naturalism without stating the assumption. The assumption of naturalism is a hidden assumption upon which the rest of his argument rests. There are other problems with his proposition to be sure, but this is the most basic problem.

“Many terrestrial seeds can survive long periods of soaking in various concentrations of salt water (Howe, 1968, CRSQ:105-112). Others could have survived in floating masses. Many could have survived as accidental and planned food stores on the ark.” There are explanations for these things as the links below document. Again, Bill resorts to the logical fallacy of hysteron proteron, stating what has not been proven as if it were a fact. However, this is a bit of a red herring as well. The Ark would almost certainly have carried seeds as one of the main food. There is evidence that there were floating islands, huge mats of vegetation during the flood. These would have had many seeds floating above the water. Most importantly, Bill is assuming Naturalism and basing his whole argument on that. It is the unspoken basis for his premises, his proof. This is a form of hysteron proteron, using the unproven assumption of naturalism as proof.

Bill Nye is claiming that the trees could not have survived a flood, therefore that flood didn't happen. However, his claim that the trees could not have survived is based on poor logic and assumptions. So, this is an argument by Bill Nye that pits his poor logic and arbitrary assumptions against Divine revelation. Assumptions are not real and cannot be verified. Divine revelation is real and can be verified, since every single person who comes to Christ will find Christ. Whoever seeks Him finds Him. Anyone can verify this. Of course, they must come in submission and deep respect desiring to do God's will. Once they know Christ, the Holy Spirit will teach them that the Bible is God's Word without error. From that point it is an unfolding revelation pressing toward the mark of the high calling, the manifestation of the sons of God.

Bill Nye trying to discredit the historical account of Noah's Ark: "Inherent in this worldview is that, somehow, (pause for drama) Noah and his family (pause for drama) were able to build a wooden ship that would house 14,000 individual [animals] . . . and these people were unskilled. As far an anybody knows they had never built a wooden ship before. Furthermore, they had to get all these animals on there, and they had to feed them, and I understand that Ken Ham has some explanations for that which I frankly find extraordinary, but, this is the premise of the ‘bit,’ and we can then run a test, a scientific test. People in the 1800s built an extraordinary large wooden ship, the Wyoming. It was a six-masted scooner, the largest one ever built. It had a motor on it for winching cables and stuff. But this boat had a great difficulty. It was not as big as the Titanic, but it was a very long ship. It would twist in the sea. It would twist this way, this way and this way. (moving his hands to illustrate exaggerated twisting in four directions while making extreme facial expressions). And in all that twisting, it leaked. It leaked like crazy. The crew could not keep the ship dry. And indeed it eventually foundered and sank—loss of all 14 hands. So there were 14 crewmen aboard a ship that was built by very, very skilled shipwrights in New England. These guys were the best in the world at wooden ship building (pause) and they couldn’t build a boat as big as the Ark is claimed to have been. Is that reasonable? Is that possible that the best shipbuilders in the world couldn’t do what eight unskilled people, men and their wives, were able to do?"

There are many logical problems with Bill Nye's speech, but the most glaring is that he is trying to prove that the Ark didn't exist based on a specific form of hysteron proteron fallacy, the fallacy of trying to use the assumption of naturalism as proof. By the assumption of naturalism, Bill makes the unspoken assertion that God was not involved when the historical account clearly states that God was involved. Of course, there are many other problems:

"Inherent in this worldview is that, somehow, (pause for drama) Noah and his family (pause for drama) were able to build a wooden ship that would house 14,000 individual [animals] . . . and these people were unskilled." Bill Nye is using the logical fallacy of circular reasoning. Inserting the word, "somehow." is a way of implying impossibility, which is question-begging, since this is what Bill Nye is trying to prove. It is the logical fallacy of the question-begging epithet. We don't know how many animals were on the ark, but 14,000 is probably high. However, the arc could have handled the animals. (article that explains how) He is assuming evolution (the big-bang-billions-of-years-molecules-to-man story) to prove evolution (the big-bang-billions-of-years-molecules-to-man story). His assumption is that we are evolving, so we are becoming more skilled, so these people would be unskilled. If, however, these people were close to God and all wisdom and knowledge comes from God, and if this wisdom and knowledge increases with age and Noah was probably around 500 years old when he started building and 600 years old when he finished, then he would not be unskilled.

"As far an anybody knows they had never built a wooden ship before." This is a suggestion that no one had ever built a wooden ship previously, which would be a pure assertion without evidence. We do know that God Himself designed the ship.

"Furthermore, they had to get all these animals on there, and they had to feed them, and I understand that Ken Ham has some explanations for that which I frankly find extraordinary," Bill Nye is using the logical fallacy of personal incredulity. The mindset of Bill Nye has no effect on realty.

"this is the premise of the ‘bit,’" The word, bit, here implies a comedy bit. This is the logical fallacy of appeal to ridicule.

"we can then run a test, a scientific test . . ." Bill Nye followed this with a history of a ship that was built that was large and that sunk. If he thinks this is a scientific test that proves that a large ship cannot be built, then we can wonder about his understanding of science. This is the logical fallacy of questionable criteria. If one person fails at something this doesn't prove that no one else can succeed.

"These guys were the best in the world at wooden ship building (pause) and they couldn’t build a boat as big as the Ark is claimed to have been." Bill Nye is using a twist on the logical fallacy of presentism, assuming that the skills of people who are living now can be projected into the past, in this case, assuming less and less skill going back in time.

"Is that possible that the best shipbuilders in the world couldn’t do what eight unskilled people, men and their wives, were able to do?" We are just supposed to take Bill Nye's word that Noah and his family worked alone on the Ark and that they were unskilled. Bill Nye is assuming that Noah didn't hire the best shipbuilders of his own day. Bill Nye is assuming that God didn't design the ship. It is likely that God did build the ship through Noah and his family, and there is nothing that challenges belief in that, except that it violates the no-God worldveiw/fake-reality. It is clear that Noah was on speaking terms with God and that God was directing Him, leading him, and blessing his work. The ship took about 100 years to build, so there would be a fair amount of craftsmanship involved. One of the things that skeptics who love to argue against the Bible do is to make assumptions that would make the thing that they are busy arguing against impossible--if the assumptions were true. In order to use a hypothetical approach to try to prove that something could not possibly have happened, if there is any assumption that could be made that would make the thing possible, then it is not impossible.

We know, by Divine revelation, that the Genesis happened. God predicted that there would be a day when some evil people would deny this. Bill Nye is denying it, but, not surprisingly, he cannot deny the truth without being irrational.

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Author/Compiler
Last updated: Sep, 2014
 
 




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