There’s no quoting all of these—there are nearly 1,400 in total—but it’s tempting. Each is meant to contain a fallacy, (I haven’t read all 1,400), some blatant and others subtle. If you’re still an atheist, chances are pretty good you’ve embraced at least one of these from Ahlquist’s list. Just as if you’re a theist you’ve probably embraced one of the fallacies put out by the Godless Geeks.
This is our great weakness: to hold tight to any bit of evidence which confirms that which we wish or hope is true. Doesn’t make the thing false, but it weakens us.
Both efforts are magnificent resources for teaching logic. Some of these arguments are difficult, like this one from the Godless Geeks:
(1) This is a proof of God’s existence.
(2) If the reader finishes reading this proof, the existence of God will be proven to him/her.
(3) If the existence of God is proven, then God exists.
(4) Therefore, God exists.
This argument is unsound because it is self-referential, but you can see how it can fool by including premise (3), which is a tautology and therefore adds no information. This is a principle—that tautologous premises are information-free—which is a struggle for many to remember, particularly in probability where it is often misapplied (e.g., “It will rain tomorrow or it won’t” which is a tautology is used to fallaciously infer the probability of rain tomorrow is 1/2).
Here’s a common one from Alquist (ellipsis original).
689.ARGUMENT FROM SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION
(1) Religion can’t explain everything.
(2) Science can … or will, someday.
(3) Therefore, God does not exist.
Science cannot even explain itself, let alone “everything”, therefore this argument is unsound—but cherished, usually in longer forms where the fallacy creeps in subtly. For example, swap “evolution” for “science” and “behavior” for “everything”.
Another Godless Geek, which fails in its satiric intent:
498. ARGUMENT FROM INTUITION AND CONSCIENCE
(1) We feel certain things to be right or wrong.
(2) The reason we feel wrong about certain things is because of our intuition, a.k.a. our conscience.
(3) I’ll just ignore the resemblance of intuition with our thoughts, emotions, and animal instinct, or our childhood indoctrination by our culture.
(4) Intuition and conscience are so special! They must be given by God!
(5) Therefore, God exists.
(1) is obviously true, as is (2), except for equating in all instances intuition and conscience. But the implication of (3) is empty or false: because intuition or emotion is sometimes wrong does not prove they always wrong, and because your childhood taught a belief does not make the belief false. (4), taken as shorthand for a classic theistic argument, is true: our most fundamental beliefs are special and seen to be true without proof. The argument still fails, however, depending on how (4) is read. If (4) is used as a separate proof, then the #498 becomes circular.
Here’s another popular one from Ahlquist:
89. PASTAFARIAN ARGUMENT (I)
(1) God is like a flying spaghetti monster.
(2) Honestly, a flying spaghetti monster.
(3) Isn’t that ridiculous?
(4) Therefore, God does not exist.
This reminds me of that great play Dinner With Atheists.
As goofy as this argument is, it’s awfully convincing to many. Just saying “flying spaghetti monster” will get you a wink or a nod from the easily impressed atheist. The we-reject-the-same-gods-as-you-plus-one-more is actually a good effort by atheists, but this argument adds a god to the list of gods for the express purpose of rejecting that god, which is silly.
90. CARL SAGAN’S DRAGON IN MY GARAGE ARGUMENT (I)
(1) God is like an invisible, incoporeal [sic], floating dragon who spits heatless fire in my garage.
(2) You can’t disprove that such a creature exists.
(3) However, claims that cannot be tested and are immune to disproof are “veridically worthless.”
(4) That’s just a convoluted way of me trying to tell you not believe in God for absolutely no reason because we can’t come up with any reasons to justify our position in any way.
(5) Therefore, God does not exist.
Here, a sort of rogue empiricism, which also rejects all of mathematics, since no mathematical truth can be tested.
Anyway, fun lists. Assign chunks of them to your students.
Update Link fixed.