The Matt Slick Fallacy – Update

On the 10th of January 2016, I went on a YouTube show / podcast, called the BibleThumpingWingnut and talked to Matt Slick for about 2 hours on the subject of his TAG argument, and how it is guilty of the fallacy of begging the question or false dichotomy:

 

The whole discussion with Slick was conducted in a friendly and non-confrontational manner. I enjoyed it, even though it was very late at night (whiskey helped). I think he understood the points I was making, but it was hard going at times to get agreement. This is probably because those guys have no formal training to logic or exposure to analytic philosophy. Even though I was showing that the argument doesn’t work, we left on good terms, and I would happily speak with him again.

Quick note: there were some hints that maybe I was just diagnosing a problem with the ‘wording’ of the argument, which would leave the possibility that a way could be found to repair it. The temptation might be to rephrase it as something logically equivalent; like instead of ‘p or ~p’, the first premise could be reformed as the logically equivalent ‘~(p & ~p)’. That would make the argument of the form ‘It cannot be both this and that, and it is this, so it must not  be that’. But this would fail, as follows:

~(p & ~p)

~p                             (i.e. the second option)

Therefore, ~p        (i.e. not the first option)

Any logically equivalent reformulation like this though will (provably) fall into the same trap; it is just as obvious that the above argument begs the question. The rewording will not help, because fundamentally the same first premise has been entered into the same pattern of reasoning (i.e. we are still using disjunctive syllogism in essence, even though the first premise is now a conjunction). No tactic like this will ever work.

On the other hand, any reformulation which is not-logically equivalent will be a different argument, not a ‘rewording’. Therefore, the argument cannot be ‘reworded’ in such a way to get round the problem. A new argument is needed to get to the conclusion. I’m not holding my breath that one will be forthcoming.

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10 thoughts on “The Matt Slick Fallacy – Update”

  1. Hi Alex,

    Great write up (and initial engagement). I also get the impression that Matt thinks the actual argument is still valid and just needs rewording, whereas you plainly spelled out both in the discussion and above that it’s logically invalid even if worded correctly to avoid the dichotomous problem. Be worth following up at some point to see if he has actually dropped it altogether, (although I doubt it as these problems have been pointed out to him many times).

    Cheers,
    Dave.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Matt’s back :-). And I’m right, apparently Christians have pointed out to him that it’s *your* logic that is invalid Alex, and so he’s back to it only being worded incorrectly in its original form.

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  2. It’s quite bizarre how they see the conversation. Slick seems surprised I claimed it to be a refutation, even though the second sentence of my original ‘Matt Slick Fallacy’ post, which he had read prior to me talking to him, was: “His version is one of the easiest to refute that I have come across.” I spent over two hours explaining how either way the argument is cashed out leads to issues, either that it is unsound or that it is trivial. They are saying that it is an issue of ‘wording’ still. This is an indication that they don’t understand the notion of logical form. Andrew also seems not to understand what validity is. Contrary to his claim, I never said that Matt’s arguments were invalid. There are other ways an argument can be deficient than by being invalid. At root, they are claiming that I didn’t refute the argument because a) they don’t understand what I said, b) they don’t appear to have a clear idea of what the logical form of Matt’s argument is, and c) they don’t understand what a refutation is. I showed clear examples of logical problems with the argument, all of which were about the logical form, not the wording. They missed that. They claim that even though I clearly landed false dichotomy and begging the question, the argument is still not refuted. Next time Matt says ‘That’s begging the question’ or ‘thats a straw man’ to an atheist, they should reply ‘well, that is just about the wording of what I am saying, not my actual point’, and see how they get out of that.

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  3. Great discussion, thank you for your patients throughout it.

    The fundamental problem seems to be their unwillingness to let go of their presuppositions long enough to analyze them.

    I don’t have any training in Logic and struggled when I first encountered these types of arguments in favor of god. I rejected them, but couldn’t express why.

    After listening to this conversation I got it. Your patience helped me get it. I even say when you attempted to refute Jason’s logic, but they all took it as a challenge. Oy vey.

    So, you attempted to educate them. But that education, if truly considered would be a wedge in their theology. Therefore, they need to not understand and remain there.

    That said, good show.

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  4. Can your humanistic/atheistic worldview justify or account for the following tenets of reality?
    The basics of it are:
    1. We start with our ultimate starting points in our worldview, i.e. The special Word of God, the bible. Atheists and some religions start with themselves as their final arbiter of truth. To prove one’s starting point requires proving the proof and proving that proof, etc. It results in an infinite regress fallacy of an endless backward proof set.
    2. Only the Christian God is both personal (in Christ) and absolute (beyond the material world and expanding into infinite space and is eternal and all-knowing and everywhere at once). All other gods are either one or the other; personal and just a little larger than man, i.e. Greek gods. Or…they are so abstract and absolute that they are unknowable, such as Allah.
    3. Since the Christian God is both personal and absolutely powerful and all present at the same time; only the Christian religion is coherent and can be the foundation for experience and reality.
    a. The Christian God can be the source of keeping nature uniform for science to operate.
    b. The Christian God can account for the existence of invisible entities such as laws of thought or logic, beauty, propositions, spirits, etc.
    c. The Christian God can be the only true source for personal morality and these morals are an expression of an absolute powerful and all knowing God. Therefore, since this morality (expressed in the ten commandments and other biblical laws) is above man, it is a perfect source for government laws, Church laws, and personal morals.

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  5. Why does the atheist think that using propositional logic is the answer to everything? Aren’t they assuming the transcendence and absoluteness of math and/or logical laws that are invariant, immaterial, and universal? How does the atheist justify the existence of these absolutes that are true, irrespective of the material world. If they are conventions, then they lose their transcendence, also as mere brain constructs, they lose their universal application. The atheist cannot examine ‘All’ in a major premise, as in induction, only probability can be used and that begs the question of future uniformity that requires appeal to the past, thus circular reasoning.

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