The circular argument – the con artist

In the Round Table Discussion “The Four horsemen”. Dennett points out to notice the bag of tricks that have evolved to protect religion in debate –  the arguments that are circular, and could be about anything. They could be used to sustain anything – forms of non argument which con artists use.

What got me thinking was this discussion based on my religion and tolerance blog, the comments which run as follows:

  1. isaiah30v8 said, on January 14th, 2008 at 2:59 am

    Actually I am able to tolerate athiests. If atheists did not exist it would be more difficult to believe in the bible. So thanks!

    Oh yes, here is why:



  2. homoeconomicusnet said, on January 14th, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    If I had a pound for every-time someone suggested science was like a religion then writing this blog could be a full time occupation.

    You mention original sin but do not actually define it (in your blog) which misses the point a little.

    You do have to separate philosophy and science. Philosophy is about asking the right questions about life. Science is about exploring the natural world. Science does not tell you how you should live your life or base your moral opinions on – nor should anyone seriously suggest it does.

    By reflection and deliberation we may come to an appreciation of what leading a good life is like to that end my blog the way we are may interest you:

    I read the bible. That is why I am an atheist.

  3. isaiah30v8 said, on January 14th, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    “By reflection and deliberation we may come to an appreciation of what leading a good life is like.

    You can be like God knowing Good and Bad.

  4. homoeconomicusnet said, on January 15th, 2008 at 12:21 am 

    No I could never live up to a fantasy figure.

    But we can try and figure things out.

  5. isaiah30v8 said, on January 19th, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    In a prophetic end time scripture the Apostle Paul described the success of Satan’s unrighteous deception using words like “POWERFULL” and “WONDER”.

    2 Thessalonians 2
    9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.;&version=50;

    Some bible translations even use the word “MIRACLE” to describe Satan’s success.

    You and many others are a living manifestation of Satans extreme success!

    Your existence provides a large amount of support for my continued belief in the bible, God and Jesus Christ.

    Thank you.

  6. homoeconomicusnet said, on January 19th, 2008 at 8:51 pm 

    Funny how all religions think non believers are deluded, and in league with the evil one, isn’t it? Almost like religions use it to shield themselves from criticism.

    A circular argument, that is a loop, which never can be wrong because the logic is so flawed that nothing could disprove it. The only purpose it serves is to stop you thinking the unthinkable. The more arguments against yours you read the more it is proof you are right! QED you cannot be wrong even if you are!

    Muslims, Hindus and Christians think this too.

    An honest inquiry into the legitimacy of your belief would be:

    What would it take for me to leave my faith, or think there is no god?

    If believing in Virgin Births, resurrections, and walking on water is what you think it takes to lead a righteous life then you really need to try and understand that thinking about moral problems is not dependent on thinking ancient texts come from god.

    But if you cannot understand that about humanity, then can I at least point out the futility of quoting bible passages at me?

    The bible is proof that men wrote the bible over a period of time. It explains the conflicts, different opinions and is a product of the times. The evidence is there in print. This is the work of men. The significance is what you give it – but it has no more authority over me than the Koran or the Pali Canon.

    We are all atheists about someone else’s god. Some of us just go one god further. The abandonment of god is the leaving behind of an idea. The god concept is not the only thing holding up moral behaviour. If you are only moral and righteousness because you can read a book and think god is watching then your heart is not in the right place. If you could not be moral without god then there is something questionable in your motives.

It is self sustanining for this person. Anyone that has a counter argument to his belief is proof that his belief is right is evidence that he is correct. An opposite argument must be wrong and in league with the devil. Now that is not based on reason. It is a logical fallacy and a non argument.

Let us put it to something else. Liberalism is the only right way to care about people. If you have a different political opinion than you do not care about people. An opposite argument must be wrong and in league with President Bush.

Aldershot Town will win promotion to league football this season. This is their destiny. It is going to happen because I am turning 30 this year. I was 16 when I went to my first game, and they have been in existence now for 16 years. Numerology predicts that the shots are going up and now you are going to believe this. My faith in my team means they will be promoted this season. A lack of belief by the faithful will allow the evil one (Torquay) to win and we cannot let that happen. We must believe.

Now if I hold to these circular arguments (not recognising them as such) you will not convince me I am wrong unless I recognise the flaw in the argument. So all I can do is point out how ridiculous the reasoning is. And that all it does is keep you in a rut, while making others dizzy.


Sometimes all you are left with is humour, and thanks to the tag surfer came across this video  by Pat Condell, enjoy:



Filed under Dennett, Humour, Philosophy, Religion

2 responses to “The circular argument – the con artist

  1. amandajanelle

    Well, now here’s another imaginary pound to add to your account; some certainly treat science as a religion. There are those who have no understanding of the changing face of science or the possibility for new discoveries, new understanding of old ideas. Many of those call themselves “evolutionists”. If science one day retracted the theory of evolution or attached a radically different interpretation of the workings of the world these people would have nothing to do with it. They would stand by their old dogmatic beliefs they’re constantly fighting for. These people, I would argue, have created religious beliefs out of science.

    Not that that was really the point of this post…..

    Btw, thank you for dropping by.

  2. I doubt it. But there is no dogma in science – the last word on any subject is never written. Discoveries are waiting to be found.

    Of course there are disagreements among biologists on some areas of evolution, in the sense of how it works. Whether a better scientific theory will come along that is better than evolution to explain what is going on seems remote.

    But if it does it will be based upon a body of evidence, testing, verified and have valid predictions.

    That is quite a different proposition from the existence of those that do not believe verifies my belief as true.

    Got a feeling you may want to comment on the “Science Education” blog that was done 20 January GMT.

    Imaginary pounds are a bit like treasure in heaven.

    I guess what matters is how do you define religion? My definition is the belief in the supernatural which by means of how we live, act or think we can influence such super natural agents for our benefit now or in the future.

    In that sense it is ridiculous to call science a religion.

    If you mean faith without evidence, well I agree that science alone will not solve the worlds problems. It can show problems, possible solutions, the means by which we may solve an end. The issue is whether as a society we want to take up those means. It is conceivable that we may refuse. Let us hope it is not out of a timid ignorance about the issues at stake and ignoring the evidence hoping that there will be a celestial intervention.

    We have to do the best we can given our human nature. I hope that we make the right choices.

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