I’ve been finding it difficult to come up with ideas for blog posts, which is why this blog hasn’t been very active lately. As such, I’d like to leave it up to the readers: what would you like us to write about? Would you like to know something specific about our atheism? Do you have an argument that you’d like us to address? Would you like us to discuss a particular book? Do you have any questions about Philosophy, Biology, or History? Would you like to know our stance on a particular feminist issue? Is there something else you’d like us to write on? Let us know in the comment section.
Tag Archives: books
Logical Fallacies: Some links to help use overcome our greatest obstacle. Ourselves.
While Hessian continues to write posts on a variety of different arguments she comes across it’s imporant to once again remind everyone about those terrors of logic we all must contend with. Logical Fallicies.
Humans are not naturally include to be rational. We mostly make use of heuristics in our thinking rather then pure logical rationals. A heuristic, in the sense I’m using it here, is a cognitive short cut use to solve problems. These can take forms of, rules of thumb, educated guesses, a “common” sense statement or rule. Heuristics have there place due to them often be relatively accurate compared to guessing at random, but exceedingly fast when compared to a formal system of logic. This optimization towards speed is where the problem lies. When using heuristics we are bound to make mistakes, and while we might generally be able to use heuristic effectively, when we get into difficult cases they often send us spiraling into logical dead ends or mistakenly lead on a wild goose chases. This dependance and affinity towards heuristics is largely why we make logical fallacies, and why understanding them, and logic in general, is so important.
I shall focus on a couple key fallacies which I have been seeing regularly in the comments, as well posting links to useful sources to learn more about fallacies.
The Argument from ignorance: This has been the fallacy I’ve been noticing on this blog lately so I think it is the one fallacy that need to be addressed. The basics of this fallacious argument goes as follow. I don’t know what x is, or how x works, because of that it must be y, or is being done by z. This is exemplified when someone claims an unidentified object in the sky must have been a alien craft, when in fact they have no idea what the UFO was.
The most common form I’ve seen of the argument from ignorance in general is the argument for a deity due to the complexity of life. That argument can usually be condensed as follows.
I look at this flower or at the movements of this majestic animal, and I just know (my) God must exist. Now this can break down in to the following formal argument*.
P1: Living organisms are extremely complex.
P2: The Extreme complexity of life can not be explained by natural means.
P3: The only thing which can bring about things unnaturally is my deity.
C: Living organism were brought about by my deity.
*To be clear this does not represent all arguments of this type, there are others, and some are stronger, but as I will mention later on. This is the formalized version of arguments I have regularly encountered.
Funny enough this has several of the fallacies I wish to discuss. Like you might imagine is this an argument from ignorance because the second premise generally come from ideas such as. “I couldn’t imagine such complexity with out it coming from god,” or “It make no sense for complexity to come from “nothing”.” Because they do not know the answer they assume that their deity (and not some other deity) must have done it. Even though they have no idea why life is as complex as it is they appeal to their ignorance and just assume it must have been their god. Which bring us to the second fallacy.
Begging the question: Begging the question is when you assume the conclusion in to the premises instead of deriving, or in the case of induction, supporting the conclusion with premises.
In the example above the argument just assume that this person’s god exists and it could only be their god that did it. This may seem like I’m making a strawman of my opponent, but I have illegitimately ran into this argument dozens of times, over and over again. They have sew the success for there argument into the premises in a way which is whole unsupported. So while if you grant the premises the argument works, but why would you grant this premises to anyone? Would you let a person of a different faith claim it was their god(s) who made all life and that their god(s) exists? If not, and your trying to use this argument, then your making the fallacy of special pleading.
Though in simplest terms begging the question is a kind of circular reasoning where in you guarantee the conclusion with out adequately justifying those premises which give that guarantee.
Black and white fallacy: Also know as a false dilemma. This goes hand in hand with what I’ve already be writing. This is where you argue that there are only two options when in fact there are many. The above argument does not technically make a black and while fallacy, but it is an easy fallacy to explain. “Your with us or against us!” A common use of the black and white fallacy. People often try to limit the options to them verse us, good verse bad. Except it’s rare where you a trapped with a true dichotomy. In the common case of “Your with us or against us!” it is often the case that a person is neither. I could be with you or against you, but I could be against both parties, or have a mix of positions from both, or only like some of the argument from one! Suddenly I tuned a situation from 2 limited options to 5 much open positions.
This reminds me of a joke I some times tell amongst other feminist “All Dichotomies are false Dichotomies! Even this one!”
The final fallacy is one that is rampant through out the internet and that’s the good old Ad hominium. I won’t spend too much time on this one, but but a common mistake people make is think that an Ad hominium is just an insult. An Ad hominium is when you call into question a trait, action, or belief of a person which has nothing to do with the argument at hand. Then the one making the Ad hominium use that perceived flaw as a counter argument to their claim. Even though that character flaw has not bearing on the argument in question!
What isn’t an Ad hominium is when you call into question a trait which does relate to the argument at hand. Perhaps your arguing against a known lair. When the known lair makes an unsupported claim you can call into question their honesty without committing an Ad hominium. However, if they then substantiate their claim to an acceptable level. Then you can no longer use their dishonesty as an argument, without making the Ad hominium fallacy, until they again make a claim that they could again be reasonably be lying about.
Before we get into the links it is important to reiterate that there a several names for the some fallacies. For example The Black and white Fallacy is the same basic idea as the false dilemma fallacy, and the Argument from ignorance is also called an appeal to ignorance.
The first link I’d like to share is “The Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments” It’s cute and that probably why I’m linking to it first. I don’t like all of the examples, but it does the job of running through a good number of logical fallacies in a memorable manner.
Next is a link to the poster “thou shalt not commit logical fallacies!” It’s a fun one with an interactive poster on the website. It’s also where I got two of the images for this post.
And finally for those of you whom are include to watch you tube videos here is a playlist by PBS idea channel about logical fallacies.
I suggest looking into more on logical fallacy if you get through all of those, but the above links are an excellent starting place.
Edit: Here is another link provided by clubschadenfreude
It gives a few more special cases not discussed in the other links as well as more examples.
How Many Kinds of Feminism Are There?
A lot. There are a number of schools of thought within feminism, some of them are better known than others. While there is a misconception that feminism is divided as a result of these various schools, the differences between the schools are differences in methodology and not differences in their end goal. All feminists want equality of the sexes. This has always been the main goal of feminism. But different types of feminism believe that female inequality is caused by different things. Few feminists fit in to only one school of thought.
The different schools are as follows:
Liberal Feminism: Liberal feminists accept the classical liberal notion that all people are inherently rational. Since women are people, women are rational. Liberal feminists believe that it is this rationality that makes women deserving of equal treatment.
Marxist Feminism: Marxist feminists believe that the inequality suffered by women is caused by capitalism. They believe that eliminating capitalism will bring about equality of the sexes.
Radical Feminism: Despite popular belief, radical feminism is not the idea that women are better than men. Radical feminists hold to the idea that female biology (our ability to get pregnant) is what causes the inequality we suffer. According to radical feminists, equality of the sexes won’t come until childbirth and child rearing aren’t only the duty of women. Radical feminists also believe that the patriarchy is responsible for this inequality. Patriarchy doesn’t mean that each individual man oppress all women. It means that there is a system of control whereby women and women’s bodies are controlled by men. It’s a systemic problem, not an individual problem.
Socialist Feminism: Socialist feminism mixes Marxist and Radical feminism. According to socialist feminists, both capitalism and the patriarchy cause the oppression of women. Some socialist feminists believe that capitalism and the patriarchy are one in the same thing. Others believe that they run parallel to each other, both oppressing women, but in different ways.
Cultural Feminism: Cultural feminists focus on gender, not sex. They believe that it is the behaviours and traits associated with women (nurturing, caring, emotional) that cause women to be oppressed. They tend to accept these traits as real and believe that women should be given equal rights because of these traits. Cultural feminists believe that the compassionate traits of women can only improve society, and can work with the rational traits of men.
Womanist (Intersectional) Feminism: Womanist theory was developed as an attempt to make feminism more inclusive. Traditionally, feminism focused on the issues faced by middle class white women. However, women of all classes, countries, and ethnicities, as well as women/females within the LGBT community, also suffered as a result of inequality of the sexes, so womanism was born. Womanist theory points out that there is no one cause of oppression, and different women/females have different experiences, so each case of oppression is unique. As such, we must look at the intersections (of various causes of oppression) where oppression occurs. Womanism tries to avoid privileging anyone.
Postmodern Feminism: Postmodern feminism is a collection of ideas. They avoid grand narratives of explaining oppression. Postmodernist feminists do not believe that there is any one cause of oppression. They also look at language and thought to see how it is masculine centered.
Third World Feminism: This form of feminism focuses on the problems faced by women in former colonies. Third wold feminists focus on the history of colonialism to determine the causes of women’s oppression.
Ecofeminism: Ecofeminism focuses on things like pollution that result from racism. For example, they point out how black and Latino communities are more affected by pollution than predominantly white communities. They then look at how women are affected by the racism and the pollution. They look at how women are hired to do certain jobs that are harmful because they can be paid less and are less likely to complain.
These are not the only feminist theories, but they are some of the best known theories. I hope this helps you understand the various types of feminism. If you would like more information, I would recommend reading Feminism by Sally J. Scholz.
Don’t forget to take my surveys if you haven’t already:
Situations that may or may not be considered Feminist issues:
Are various Feminist causes helpful or hurtful for the Feminist movement?http://kwiksurveys.com/s.asp?sid=i8d3kq6z73ems49471695
How do you perceive Feminism?
Does Feminist have a bad reputation?
My Theology Book Choices
As you all know, I’ve been reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis along side the Bible. I have made my decision as to which other books I will read. I have chosen Summa Theologia by Thomas Aquinas, Fundamentals of the Faith by Peter Keeft, and Confessions by St. Augustine. I also intend to read some counter-arguments against all four books, but I haven’t decided what I’ll read quite yet.
All four of those books focus on Christianity. I will look at some non-Christian books when I have finished reading the Bible. I also intend to read other Holy books. However, I’m going back to school in a week and will likely be unable to finish the Bible before the end of the school year. It may take me even longer to finish the four books along side it.
Theology Books Part 2
Thanks everybody for the help with finding some theology books. Here is the list so far:
Defending the Faith by Cornelius Van Til
The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas
The Mustard Seed by Osho
The Hebrew Pharaohs of Egypt: The Secret Lineage of the Patriarch Joseph by Ahmed Osman
Introduction to Christianity by Joseph Ratzinger
The Will to Believe by William James
The Will to Doubt by Bertrand Russell
Reason for God by Tim Keller
Van Til’s Apologetic by Greg Bahnsen
Knowing God by J.I. Packer
The Knowledge of Holy and The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
Basic Theology by Charles C. Ryrie
Sacred Fragments by Neil Gillman
Theology and Sanity by Frank Sheed
Fundamentals of the Faith: Essays in Christian Apologetics
You Can Understand The Bible: A Practical And Illuminating Guide To Each Book In The Bible
Introduction to Christianity by Joseph Ratzinger
Jesus of Nazareth volumes 1 and 2 by Joseph Ratzinger
Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
Basic Christianity by John Stott
I’ll be looking at it more carefully over the next little while to decide which ones I’ll be reading. Feel free to give me your input on which ones you found helpful and which ones you didn’t. I’ll be sure to let you know which ones I’m going to read as soon as I decide.
Why Christians Should Stop Telling Atheists to Read Books When You Yourself Have Not Yet Read Them
Subtitle: Yes, This Includes the Bible.
There are two major reasons for not doing this. The first is that you have no idea what you’re telling them to read. Many christians do this to atheist family members. Often they have heard that the book is highly recommended or got high reviews, and sometimes it merely has a famous name on the cover. But if you don’t know what you’re sending or recommending, don’t do it. Make sure that the book is actually worth recommending before you recommend it.
The second reason is that it shows a blatant disrespect for the person’s beliefs. You cannot convert someone by simply convincing them to read a book. What if the book that you recommend doesn’t address their reasons for being an atheist? We are not all atheists for the same reason and not every christian author addresses all the possible reasons. In fact, I don’t think any do. If you want to recommend that we read something that will convince us that your god is real, first find out why we are atheists and what it would take to convince us otherwise, then find a book that addresses what we have told you. That tells us that you actually care what our beliefs are and are genuinely concerned.
I think a lot of this problem stems from our societal belief that we can cure anything by reading a book. Want to become rich? Read this book. Want to get rid of your cancer? Read this book. Anxious? Depressed? Over weight? There’s a book for that. Books don’t solve everything. They can be useful guidelines, but they are still just books. We need to realize that if we want to help someone we must do more than simply recommend a book. This goes for atheists too. Reading A Manual For Creating Atheists will not turn you into a christian-converting expert. And recommending Richard Dawkins and Richard Carrier books will not convince christians to become atheists.
Why Are the Atheist Books in the Science Section?
This is something that has always confused me. If an atheist writes a book about science, like the many written by Dawkins, then it makes sense to find their books in the science section. But why would someone’s memoir, like Seth Andrews Deconverted, be in the science section? Shouldn’t that be in the memoirs? What about The God Delusion? That is a book specifically aimed at debunking the belief in a god. Shouldn’t that be in the religion section? Or the philosophy section?
I know not all book stores are the same, but I have found this trend in a lot of places. When I was on Goodreads, half of the science section was books on atheism. I’ve found a similar trend on Amazon. When I go to Chapters, I often have to search half the store for a particular atheist book.
So why does this happen? Why is it just assumed that atheism and science go together?
Writing a Book
I have been writing a book for the last few months. It is almost done and it is already being edited. I would like to discuss the aspects of writing a book that happen after the book has been written. Once I have finished writing the book and it has been edited for the first time, I will need to fix what ever needs fixing. I will then need to hire a copy editor. The purpose of a copy editors is to ensure that the grammar, word choice, punctuation, and spelling of the book has been done well and will not take the reader out of the story. Copy editors also ensure that style guidelines are met.
Once my book is completely edited, I will begin looking into getting it published. I have two choices. First, I could self-publish. Second, I could find somebody to publish me. This, for me, is the hard part. Self-publishing gives me more control. It allows me to get the book out to the public and allows me to create my own cover. Being published, however, saves me some work where marketing is concerned and allows me to get the book out to a wider audience. It will also cost me more initially, but may well make me more in the long run. These decisions are tough and I will have to think about what to do thoroughly before I make my final decision.