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Welcome! This is the place to ask the community of experts and other fallacyophites (I made up that word) if someone has a committed a fallacy or not. This is a great way to settle a dispute! This is also the home of the "Mastering Logical Fallacies" student support.


Dr. Bo's Criteria for Logical Fallacies:

  1. It must be an error in reasoning not a factual error.
  2. It must be commonly applied to an argument either in the form of the argument or in the interpretation of the argument.
  3. It must be deceptive in that it often fools the average adult.

Therefore, we will define a logical fallacy as a concept within argumentation that commonly leads to an error in reasoning due to the deceptive nature of its presentation. Logical fallacies can comprise fallacious arguments that contain one or more non-factual errors in their form or deceptive arguments that often lead to fallacious reasoning in their evaluation.

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Jim Hildreth

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Jim Hildreth


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Sat, Mar 09, 2019 - 10:53 AM

Is there a fallacy here

The atheist says, “There is no God, he doesn’t exist”. Isn’t the atheist asking us to believe that he knows everything that
exists? Wouldn’t a more logical statement be, I don’t believe God exists, or as the agnostic says, I don’t know if God exists?
What fallacy, if any, is there in the statement “God doesn’t exist”?



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Michael Chase Walker
Screenwriter, producer, mythoclast

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Michael Chase Walker

Screenwriter, producer, mythoclast

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About Michael Chase Walker

Michael Chase Walker is an actor, author, screenwriter, producer, and a former adjunct lecturer for the College of Santa Fe Moving Images Department, and Dreamworks Animation. His first motion picture was the animated classic, The Last Unicorn.
Michael was an in-house television writer for the hit television series: He-Man, She-Ra, Voltron, and V, the Series. In 1985, he was appointed Director of Children's programs for CBS Entertainment where he conceived, shaped and supervised the entire 1985 Saturday Morning line-up: Wildfire, Pee Wee's Playhouse, Galaxy High School, Teen Wolf, and over 10
Print Fri, Mar 22, 2019 - 09:18 PM
In other words, you're not disputing the claim itself, but merely assuming it is wrong because they are an atheist and have incorrectly arrived at their "belief" when they might have stated it more specifically to your preference. That could be a logical distraction and a fallacy in itself.

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Author of Logically Fallacious

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Bo Bennett, PhD

Author of Logically Fallacious

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About Bo Bennett, PhD

Bo's personal motto is "Expose an irrational belief, keep a person rational for a day. Expose irrational thinking, keep a person rational for a lifetime."  Much of his charitable work is in the area of education—not teaching people what to think, but how to think.  His projects include his book, The Concept: A Critical and Honest Look at God and Religion, and Logically Fallacious, the most comprehensive collection of logical fallacies.  Bo's personal blog is called Relationship With Reason, where he writes about several topics related to critical thinking.  His secular (humanistic) philosophy is detailed at PositiveHumanism.com.
Bo is currently the producer and host of The Humanist Hour, the official broadcast of the American Humanist Association, where he can be heard weekly discussing a variety of humanistic issued, mostly related to science, psychology, philosophy, and critical thinking.

Full bio can be found at http://www.bobennett.com
Print Sat, Mar 09, 2019 - 11:08 AM
It is not a fallacy; it is just a claim.

Isn’t the atheist asking us to believe that he knows everything that exists?

It depends how God is defined in the conversation. For example, I have heard some atheists claim to be gnostic atheists (claiming to KNOW that God does not exist) based on the fact that the attributes of being perfectly good and all the acts attributed to this this God in the Bible (millions of deaths, command to stone gays to death, allowing people to suffer in Hell for eternity, etc.) are incompatible and therefore, this (version of) God cannot exist. Whereas if "God" is generically defined as some eternal creator, then yes, the claim that he knows this God does not exist is irrational.

Also have a look at https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/193/Amazing-Familiarity.

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William Harpine, Ph.D.

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William Harpine, Ph.D.


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Print Sat, Mar 09, 2019 - 11:47 AM
I agree w/ Dr. Bennett here. There is no obvious error in reasoning. I'd say that the atheist in your story is stating a claim that is difficult if not impossible to prove, but that just makes it arrogant, but not fallacious. (Disclosure: for what it's worth, I'm a believer.)

One fallacy might be: "You can't prove God is real, and therefore God does not exist." That is appeal to ignorance; that is, the correct answer to a claim that cannot be proven is to say that we don't know whether it's true or not. But that's not what your atheist said.

Or: "I have evidence that God isn't real, but I refuse to present it," which doesn't have a name that I know of, but which would still be fallacious.

However, stating a claim without giving evidence is arrogant and disrespectful, but is not necessarily an error in reasoning.

Of course, the great philosophers have argued about God's existence for millennia, and I imagine that they will continue to do so.


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L

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L


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Print Sun, Mar 10, 2019 - 08:47 AM
I agree with Dr. Bo here, but can't help thinking that it's weird to use "Knowing everything" as the issue here. If the subject wasn't God, but something like a new law of physics that sounds very counter intuitive (happens all the time), you probably wouldn't respond with "You don't know everything, I have seen the effects of *insert one of the many laws of quantum mechanics*, I believe it does exist." But here you do.


We also don't know what sort of God this is. If it's one of those niche interpretations of what God is, like "This Totem/emotion that rarely comes" then you actually cannot prove this God doesn't exist because it's a physical phenomenon, defined in a certain way.


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Colin P

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Print Sun, Mar 10, 2019 - 10:43 AM
No, there isn't a fallacy, there is an irrational claim, and according to Christianity an immoral irrational claim. Irrational because of the lack of evidence for the claim and existence of evidence to the contrary; immoral because of the consequence for people of adopting atheism.


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Kaiden

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Kaiden


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About Kaiden

I enjoy fitness, listening to and playing music, laughter, spending time with my grandparents and discussing ideas with other people. Intellectually, I am especially interested in topics in philosophy and theology. I am a student of philosophy at Indiana University.
Print Sun, Mar 10, 2019 - 12:47 PM
Hi, Jim!

Unless the first statement that “there is no God” is being used to support the second that “God doesn’t exist”, I don’t think a fallacy has occurred. Rather, it is just an emphasized single statement “God does not exist.” A fallacy can only occur in the course of an argument or inference and the statement “God does not exist” is neither of those.

Having said that, you must keep in mind that although a lone statement is given, this does not mean no logical flaws are present. “Jacob is a married bachelor” is a lone statement—yet a logically flawed one. Assuming Jacob is a man, “bachelor” refers to his unmarried status. So, the statement is logically flawed because it affirms both of two contradictory statements that “Jacob is married” and “Jacob is unmarried.”

In your question, Jim, perhaps you were not especially asking what fallacies might be present, but in general what FLAWS might be present in the statement “God does not exist.”

If so, then let me tell you that attempts at the answer are not easy to comprehend or explain. Not unlike the example of the married bachelor, many prominent philosophers, past and present, HAVE argued that the denial of God’s existence is a contradiction or that God must exist in all possible worlds. (In both cases, no person could be consistent in affirming the proposition that “God does not exist”). Arguments in this vein are called Ontological argument. The Ontological Arguments are considerable enough that philosophers are still intensely debating them.

People in this online community are being very helpful to you with your question. However, in order to be sure that you are gaining a rich understanding of whether or not the proposition “God does not exist” is internally flawed—if it was flaws in general that your question sought, rather than fallacies especially—I encourage you to engage with professionals in the philosophy of religion. If you don’t know where to start, I can point you to some names and material if you’d like to know more about discussions on the ontological argument, Jim!

I think that your subquestions about the reasonableness of the atheistic position versus the agnostic position have received good answers from the community, so far. Though, when you describe the alternative position, you say that it expresses a “more logical statement.” I see what you mean here! But “logical statement” in this use is a misnomer if you just meant that the alternative position expresses “a statement that is more reasonable to admit.”


Thank you for sharing your question, Jim.


From, Kaiden


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Joseph L. Hughey, Ph.D.
Joseph L. Hughey, Ph.D.

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Joseph L. Hughey, Ph.D.

Joseph L. Hughey, Ph.D.

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About Joseph L. Hughey, Ph.D.

Ph.D. Chemistry, UNC Chapel Hill
M.S. Computer Science, UNC Chapel Hill
B.S. Chemistry, Georgia Tech

Origin: Georgia

Interests: Gardening, Investing, Tutoring.

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Print Sun, Mar 10, 2019 - 04:49 PM
Re: The assertion “God doesn’t exist” ... all by its lonesome self.

Jim, I think the fallacy is Argument by Assertion. The person makes an honest assertion without reason, believing it will be accepted as Absolute Truth.
Joseph L. Hughey, Ph.D.


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Michael Chase Walker
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Print Fri, Mar 22, 2019 - 08:19 PM
There's no error in claiming there is no God or that God doesn't exist. But there could be a Bulverism fallacy by
assuming the claimant is wrong because s/he is an atheist (ad hominem guilt by association) and then suggesting their claim is just an erroneously arrived at belief and should be restated and revised according to your suggestion rather than actually disputing the claim itself.


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