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Claim a fallacy and win the argument?

March 12th, 2019

The internet sure has opened up space for people to argue. We’ve got plenty of quantity but not always so much quality!

Often an argument is met with the claim that the proponent has committed a fallacy. Sometimes the accusation is true, but not always.

Here are three alleged fallacies I have come across recently. I wonder how you think they stand up?

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Did the universe have a beginning? Did it arise from nothing?

February 24th, 2019

I suppose it is quite natural to look at the night sky, especially away from city lights, and be in awe. When we learn that the universe apparently contains something like 100 billion galaxies, each with about 100 billion stars, our amazement and awe increase.

It is also natural to ask where it all came from. Has the universe always existed? What caused it?

And of course these questions lead naturally to the question: Is this all evidence of God?

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An ultimate explanation for everything?

January 10th, 2019

Humans are a curious species, and we like to answer the question “Why?”

Some of the really big questions concern why does the universe exist and what is the purpose of life? Some say God is the answer to those questions. Others say there is no answer to the questions.

Still others say that science will hopefully one day give us answers. One day we may understand that the universe just is because it could never have been otherwise.

But if God is the answer, or if science tells us the answer, does that end the questions?

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Suspended between belief and disbelief

December 10th, 2018

Over the years I’ve talked to a number of people who find themselves unable to commit to belief in God, but equally unable to reject belief. They say they would like to believe, for they cannot think atheism is true, but they find themselves unable to give assent to a particular religion or set of beliefs about God. God may be there, somewhere, but maybe she’s unknowable? We can be sure of scientific information, they may think, but spiritual matters are somehow beyond our ability to know.

For some, their belief can depend on their mood or circumstances – some days they believe, some days they doubt.

I was wondering if there is any way forwards for these people when I realised there are at least some things they do feel we can know. Radical doubt doesn’t necessarily permeate their lives, it may only cripple their ability to feel sure about God, and it may only be temporary.

And that started me thinking ….

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God 0 – atheism 5 ?

February 8th, 2018

We all like to think we’re right in our beliefs, whether it be about God, politics or how our football team can play better. The interesting thing is how strongly we can disagree.

A while back I came across an old newspaper column by an atheist, titled The five best reasons not to believe in God, a clever title because it implies that the author has many other reasons not to believe, but he’s just giving us the best ones.

So I was interested to check it out to see how good the best reasons were. Is it really God 0 – atheism 5?

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Logical truth and psychological truth

January 17th, 2018

Most of us like to think that our beliefs are logical and based on the evidence. But we also know that very few things can be known with certainty – after all, this may all be a dream.

But we need to live our lives and make choices. So sometimes we have to act despite the uncertainty.

I have been thinking how this relates to my beliefs (and yours too). How certain am I of my beliefs, and how much do I live with uncertainty?

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From polite discourse to no discourse

January 5th, 2018

I have been a christian believer for about 55 years, and throughout that time many of my relatives, friends, work colleagues and internet acquaintances have not. Most of the non-believers have been agnostics or ‘don’t cares’, but there have been some atheists, a couple of Buddhists and Jews, a few Muslims and a few whose belief cannot be easily categorised.

And so of course I have had many discussions about belief and one thing stands out – all of the face-to-face discussions I can remembers have been civil and friendly. Disagreements about belief haven’t led to discourtesy. But it seems the internet has changed all that.

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Can we trust our intuition? (A question from a reader about the start of the universe)

December 26th, 2017

I am grateful to a reader Mustahsin Mir, who asked me some questions about an argument in the book Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism by David Mills.

I haven’t read the book, but the argument can be followed in Amazon’s Look Inside, with Mustahsin’s questions relating to the section on page 78. I thought it interesting and worth commenting on.

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