RLGN 104 WEEK 2 NOTESChapters Hindson: chs. 2,5 Powell: chs. 2–3 Weider: chs. 2–3
RLGN 104 WEEK 2 NOTES
Hindson: chs. 2,5
Powell: chs. 2–3
Weider: chs. 2–3Hindson 2,5
2 The Existence of God
There are four main arguments Christians have historically used
to prove God‘s existence: the cosmological argument, the
teleological argument, the moral argument, and the experiential
argument. These four lines of reasoning describe arguments about
creation‘s existence, creation‘s design, universal morality, and
personal experience. Used appropriately, these arguments make it
difficult for skeptics to disprove or deny the existence of God.
The Cosmological Argument
The cosmological argument simply suggests that the universe has
a cause and must therefore have a creator. Otherwise, the
universe would merely exist without purpose or cause, but it
clearly does not. Several theories have emerged within the
cosmological argument, but one of the most famous is called the
Leibnizian cosmological argument. It is presented as follows:
There is an explanation for the existence of anything that
If there is an explanation of the existence of the universe,
that explanation is God.
The universe exists.
Therefore, there is an explanation of the existence of the
Therefore, the explanation of the existence of the universe
is God.The cosmological argument suggests that for anything that exists,
there must be an explanation of how it exists. Second, if the
universe exists, the only explanation can be God. This seems to
be narrow-minded at first. Yet it is perhaps the most rational
explanation available. The only adequate explanation for the
origin of matter is an outside, intelligent, and powerful source
of creative power, sometimes referred to as an intelligent
The cosmological argument concludes by acknowledging that the
universe exists, and because it exists there must be an
explanation of its existence. We who believe in God realize the
only sufficient explanation is that God exists. This argument
simply states that for anything that exists there is an
explanation of its existence, and in the case of the universe,
any explanation apart from God fails to adequately give a reason
for the origin of life. One of the most important aspects of the
cosmological argument is that it provides purpose for creation.
According to this argument, there was purpose in creation, there
is still purpose in creation, and there will always be purpose
in creation. Another important aspect of the cosmological
argument is that it provides purpose to creation.
For the Christian, the ultimate purpose of creation is to bring
glory to God (Rom 11:36; Col 1:16–17). The universe declares the
glories of God and ultimately points toward a creator. Any
explanation void of a creator reduces the universe to a simple
accident of nature.
There must be an explanation for the existence of the
universe. God is the only explanation that succeeds in
making clear every aspect of the universe‘s existence.
Only a created universe can have purpose, and since our
universe has purpose, it must have a creator. God is the
only adequate explanation of how the universe has purpose.
The Teleological Argument
The teleological argument in its simplest form argues that the
universe is so well designed and finely tuned that only a
creator could have made it. Naturalism, the philosophy that onlynature exists and the supernatural is superfluous, generally
suggests that the current universe is a product of a series of
evolutions over billions of years. Yet this theory fails to
explain the high complexity and interdependence of the universe.
Only a creator could be responsible for the apparent design of
One of the most famous examples of the teleological argument is
William Paley’s ―watchmaker‖ parable
According to Paley, the watch and the rock both demand a
different verdict, as design of the watch necessitates a
creator. Similarly, the universe demands a creator simply
due to its fine-tuning and complex design.
More recently, scientist Michael Behe discusses this issue in a
concept called irreducible complexity. Irreducible complexity is
the idea that many molecular machines are simply too complex to
have formed via evolution. Behe demonstrates this idea using
bacterial flagella. He proposes that the flagellum, which moves
by propelling itself using a filament, ―is irreducibly complex,
as it consists of a paddle, a rotor, and a motor, which consists
of several bushings, rings, connectors, cytoplasmic membranes,
and rods, which consist of over forty different kinds of
proteins. Behe’s argument is that if any of these parts are
taken away from the flagellum, it is immediately useless.
Further, any of these parts apart from the flagellum are totally
useless. Evolution cannot explain the flagellum‘s origin because
if one member of the flagellum is absent, the flagellum is
immediately rendered useless, as is the separated member, which
before had a specific function
The electromagnetic coupling constant binds electrons
to protons in atoms. If it was smaller, fewer
electrons could be held. If it was larger, electrons
would be held too tightly to bond with other atoms.
[The] ratio of electron to proton mass (1:1836). Again,
if this was larger or smaller, molecules could not
Carbon and oxygen nuclei have finely tuned energy
Electromagnetic and gravitational forces are finely
tuned, so the right kind of star can be stable.
Our sun is the right colour. If it was redder or bluer,
photosynthetic response would be weaker. Our sun is also the right mass. If it was larger, its
brightness would change too quickly and there would be
too much high energy radiation. If it was smaller, the
range of planetary distances able to support life
would be too narrow; the right distance would be so
close to the star that tidal forces would disrupt the
planet‘s rotational period. UV radiation would also be
inadequate for photosynthesis.
The earth’s distance from the sun is crucial for a
stable water cycle. Too far away, and most water would
freeze; too close and most water would boil.
The earth’s gravity, axial tilt, rotation period,
magnetic field, crust thickness, oxygen/nitrogen ratio,
carbon dioxide, water vapor and ozone levels are just
The Moral Argument
The moral argument for the existence of God is a bit
simpler than the previous two arguments. Essentially, the
moral argument suggests that without God, there can be no
true source of morality. Since all people share some sense
of morality, or right and wrong, there must be an ultimate
moral lawgiver. If there is no God, morality is subjective,
becoming a matter of preference rather than a standard to
be met. The key to this argument is to determine whether
there are such things as objective morals.
If there are, then God must exist. Another way of stating
this argument is captured in the following syllogism:
If God does not exist, objective morals do not either.
Objective morals do exist.
Therefore, God exists.
While various people or cultures may disagree regarding what is
right or wrong, every person experiences that there are values
of right and wrong. Even in extreme examples such as a culture
that condones cannibalism, there are community rules and laws
that determine what is acceptable and unacceptable in daily life.
The Experiential ArgumentOut of the four arguments, the experiential is the easiest
argument to understand. It simply comes from personal experience,
rooting itself in the experiences that people have had with God.
If a person has had an encounter with God, then this encounter
is evidence that God exists. Second Corinthians 5:17 teaches
that Christians are a new creation after receiving the gift of
salvation. In other words, encountering God is a life-changing
experience and provides testimony to God‘s existence
Paul stands before King Agrippa, a ruler who does not believe in
God. Rather than emphasizing any of the previous three arguments,
Paul simply tells Agrippa of his experience with God on the road
to Damascus and how his life has since been changed. Paul uses
his experience to prove God‘s existence.
Often, when people share the gospel, one of their biggest fears
is that questions will be asked and they will not know how to
answer. While it is important to study our faith, we will always
have one explanation of God‘s existence:—our personal testimony.
The existence of God seems basic enough, but this concept
totally rearranges the worldview of believers. If God exists,
there is someone to whom we must all give an account. This
should change the way Christians live, moving us from a selffocused worldview to one that is focused on serving God and
If God exists, there are real consequences for those who do not
believe in him. This must change the way Christians view people
and motivate us to share the truth of God‘s Word with urgency.
If God is real, then everything changes. [Ed Hindson (2017). (p.
20). Everyday Biblical Worldview. B&H Academic. Retrieved from
CHAPTER 5 NOTES
The Trinity: One God in Three Persons
The Bible seems to be filled with mysteries. The first coming of
Christ made many of those mysteries clear. Consider what Paul
says in Ephesians 1:9–10: ―He made known to us the mystery of
his will, according to his good pleasure that he purposed inChrist as a plan for the right time—to bring everything together
in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him.‖
The disciples understood that the mysteries of the Godhead were
progressively revealed to them. One mystery believers continue
to discuss is the doctrine of the Trinity, or the Godhead.
Few things in church history have been debated as rigorously as
the Trinity. Since the fourth century, when Arius was deemed a
heretic for denying the deity of Christ, the Trinity has stood
as a core doctrine of the church despite consistent challenge
from opponents. The Trinity is a unique doctrine of the
Christian faith. It is the belief that there is one God
expressed in three eternal and coequal persons.
Muslims and Jews usually accuse Christians of believing in three
different gods rather than one because they misunderstand the
Trinity. Atheists and other sorts of nonbelievers believe that
the Trinity is a contradiction to the monotheistic claims of the
faith. This is not surprising, however, when considering what
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:27: ―Instead, God has chosen what
is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen
what is weak in the world to shame the strong. Paul also writes
in 2 Corinthians 4:4, ―In their case, the god of this age has
blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing
the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image
The concept of the Trinity is used to explain the deity and
unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Bible
clearly teaches the eternal generation of the Son by the Father
and the Spirit (John 1:14, 14:16, 15:26). The biblical concept
of the Trinity is that of tri-unity. Modalism mistakenly defines
the Trinity as one God who reveals Himself in three different
modes. Tritheism falsely views the Trinity as three separate but
Monotheism in the Bible
Monotheism, or the belief that there is one God, is a core
belief of Christianity. A biblical worldview adheres to the idea
that there is one God and that to believe otherwise is heresy
and deliberate disobedience to the first two commandments (Exod
In the Old Testament, the God of the Bible—the true God—is
referred to as Yahweh (usually translated as Lord or Lord).Yahweh is the God that created the heavens, the earth,
vegetation, animals and organisms, and all people. Yahweh is
also the same God that chose Israel and, starting with Abraham,
developed a unique relationship with the nation (Gen 12:1–7).
Israel‘s essential creed was that God is one. Deuteronomy 6:4–5
reads, ―Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and
with all your strength.‖ The section following this verse is
known as the Shema (―listen‖). Every observant Jewish person
knows this verse by heart. God instructed them to teach their
children this monotheistic creed.
Further revelation comes in Exodus 20, when Moses received the
Ten Commandments from God and gave them to Israel. The first
commandment is to have no other gods before Yahweh. This
commandment was given because God wanted to remind the people
that there is no other god than him. In fact, Israel had to be
reminded of this repeatedly, with stories like Elijah‘s contest
with the false prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel highlighting
God‘s monotheistic nature (1 Kings 18).
Based on Scripture from both the Old Testament and the New
Testament, it is clear that the Bible teaches monotheism.
Christians do not believe the Trinity consists of three gods.
The Bible repetitively declares that there is only one God. The
mystery then, is not whether Christianity is monotheistic, but
rather how the three persons of the Trinity can be one God. But
first it is necessary to understand why each member of the
Trinity qualifies to be God.
The Members of the Trinity
God the Father
God is defined in the Bible by his divine characteristics. He is:
Eternal (Deut 33:27).
Self-existent (Exod 3:13–14).
Infinite (1 Kgs 8:22–27).
Transcendent (Ps 139:7–12).
Omnipotent (Rev 19:6).
Omniscient (Ps 147:5). Immutable (Jas 1:17).
Sovereign (Ps 135:6).
Holy (Lev 19:2).
True (John 17:3).
The magnitude of God’s person is emphasized in the Old Testament.
Yet Psalm 68:5 calls God a ―father of the fatherless.‖ In Psalm
89:26, the writer actually refers to God as his father. However,
the actual concept of God being called Father was uncommon until
Jesus used this term more frequently.
Jesus most likely did this for two reasons. First, Jesus called
God Father to bring to light a nature of God that may not have
been as familiar to the Jewish people of his day. Second, Jesus,
by calling God Father, demonstrated the distinction between
himself and his Father.
The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7) introduced the idea of
calling God Father to many for the first time. Jesus mentions
giving glory to the Father in heaven (Matt 5:16), people being
sons of the Father (Matt 5:45), being perfect as the heavenly
Father is perfect (Matt 5:48), giving in secret so the Father
who sees in secret will give a reward (Matt 6:1), praying to the
Father in heaven (Matt 6:4–8), and receiving good gifts from the
Father (Matt 7:11), along with many other mentions of the Father
in those chapters. Jesus established the practice of calling
Yahweh ―Father‖ to help Jewish people understand the
distinctions between the first two persons of the Trinity. By
using the term ―Father,‖ the New Testament emphasizes God‘s
positive qualities of love, mercy, goodness, and faithfulness.
God the Son
Though the Father’s deity is the most obvious in the Trinity,
the Bible also speaks of Jesus as God. In fact, Jesus himself
made remarkable claims that indicated his deity. For example,
John 5:17–18 reads, ―Jesus responded to them, ‗My Father is
still working, and I am working also.‘ This is why the Jews
began trying all the more to kill him: Not only was he breaking
the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making
himself equal to God.‖
John also records Jesus saying, ―I and the Father are one,‖
further indicating that Christ is a member of the Trinity (John10:30). A few verses later, John also writes, ―‗We aren‘t
stoning you for a good work,‘ the Jews answered, ‗but for
blasphemy, because you—being a man—make yourself God‘‖
How can God and Jesus be one if Jesus is not God? John
specifically notes that Christ is God in John 1:1 and 1:14.
Jesus claimed to possess equal glory with God the Father—before
the world even began. John 17:5 records Jesus praying, ―Now,
Father, glorify me in your presence with that glory I had with
you before the world existed.‖
Perhaps the clearest indications of Jesus‘s deity are the divine
attributes that he displayed: omnipotence over people (John
17:2), disease (Luke 4:39), demons (Matt 8:16), nature (Matt
8:26), sin (Matt 9:1–8), and death (John 11:4). Jesus also
displayed omniscience in the case of Nathanael (John 1:48), the
Samaritan woman (John 4:29), the disciples (Luke 9:46–47), the
scribes (Matt 9:3–4), and Judas (John 13:11). More than anything
else, Jesus received and accepted worship (Matt 8:2, 9:18, 15:25,
20:20; Mark 5:6; John 9:38, 20:28), and he claimed to be able to
forgive people’s sins (Mark 2:5–7) and give them eternal life
Jesus claimed to have come from heaven, to be equal with God, to
be the very incarnation of God, and to represent the power and
authority of God. There can be no doubt that he believed he was
God. In addition, the people around him believed he was God.
C. S. Lewis sums this up well:
If those closest to Jesus believed He was God in the flesh why
should we not do the same? If He is a liar who deliberately
deceived others, He is not worthy of our worship. If He is a
lunatic, self-deceived, and out of touch with reality, He is not
worthy of our devotion, but if He is indeed Lord, we have no
choice but to worship Him.
God the Spirit
The Holy Spirit is also a person of the Godhead. He is not
merely an apparition of God. He is God himself. He has a will (1
Cor 12:11), he speaks (Acts 8:29), he loves (Rom 15:30), he
grieves (Eph 4:30), and he prays (―intercedes‖) on our behalf
(Rom 8:26). The Spirit also has the attributes of deity. He is
omnipresent (Ps 139:7), omniscient (1 Cor 2:10–11), omnipotent
(Luke 1:35), and eternal (Heb 9:14). He is clearly identified as
God. Consider these verses in Acts 5:3–4: ―Ananias,‖ Peter asked,―why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and
keep back part of the proceeds of the land? Wasn‘t it yours
while you possessed it? And after it was sold, wasn‘t it at your
disposal? Why is it that you planned this thing in your heart?
You have not lied to people but to God.‖
In these two verses, Peter equates the Holy Spirit with God,
suggesting that Ananias, by lying to the Holy Spirit, has lied
to God. Paul similarly makes a statement suggesting equality
between the Holy Spirit and God in 1 Corinthians 3:16: ―Don’t
you yourselves know that you are God’s temple and that the
Spirit of God lives in you?‖ A few chapters later Paul adds,
―Don‘t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit
who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own‖ (1
Cor 6:19). Just as Paul says that people are a temple of God, he
also says people are a temple of the Holy Spirit. These equal
descriptions of two different persons suggest the Holy Spirit is
The Community of the Trinity
The idea of three different persons being one God can be
puzzling. Yet in this mystery lies the truth of the Trinity.
Though the Father and the Son and the Spirit are three distinct
beings, they exist as one God.
A helpful way to think of the Trinity is to notice the two root
words, ―tri‖ and ―unity.‖ The word ―Trinity‖ is not found in the
Bible, but the idea of a ―tri-unity,‖ or triune God, is clearly
found within Scripture. The concept of the equal nature of
Father, Son, and Spirit is expressed throughout the Bible.
God is infinitely complex. In humanity‘s fallen nature and
limited understanding, we cannot fully comprehend the Trinity.
Yet this infinite complexity of God also helps us understand
that ―God, in the totality of His essence, without diffusion or
expansion, multiplication or division, penetrates and fills the
universe in all its parts.‖
Some use the analogy found in H2O, which can exist in three
different states: solid, liquid, and gas. The chemical makeup,
H2O, never changes. Regardless of whether found in ice, snow,
river water, or steam from boiling pasta, H2O retains itschemical identity despite its various states. Likewise, the
Trinity never loses its identity as God. God simultaneously
exists in three different persons at the same time.
The Trinity is one of the most difficult theological concepts in
the Bible to understand. We may not fully comprehend it, yet the
Bible clearly offers evidence of its reality. The core concept
of the Trinity and of this chapter is that Christianity does not
believe in three separate gods. The Bible certainly upholds a
monotheistic faith, with one God residing in three separate
Powell: chs. 2–3
Does God Exist?
The Cosmological Argument
The word ―cosmos‖ is a Greek word that refers to everything that
exists—the universe itself and all its constituents.
The cosmological argument for the existence of God tries to show
that because anything exists there must be a God who brought it
into existence. In other words, without a God to create it,
nothing could or would exist. It is possible for God to exist
without the universe, but it is not possible for the universe to
exist without God. Thus, the cosmological argument tries to showthat the universe is not a necessary being and therefore cannot
account for its own existence
The thrust of the argument is to show that the universe was
caused by some agent that was neither part of the universe nor
itself was caused.
There are three basic kinds of cosmological arguments;
Kalam, Thomist, and Leibnizian.
The Kalam Cosmological Argument
The Kalam argument tries to show that the universe is not
eternal-that it had to have a beginning.
This argument was first formulated by Christian philosophers,
but it was not until medieval Islamic thinkers devoted attention
to the argument that it found its full force. 1 Kalam is an
Arabic word meaning ―talk‖ or ―speech.‖ Its connotation, however,
is much broader and encompasses something closer to philosophy
or theology. At the core of the argument is an understanding of
the two kinds of infinities: potential (or abstract) infinites
and actual (or concrete) infinites. The Kalam argument takes
what we can know about these infinite series of numbers and uses
that knowledge to demonstrate that the universe must have had a
beginning. Potential infinites are sets of numbers that are
continually increasing by adding another number to the series.
For example, seconds on a stopwatch are potentially infinite.
Once the start button is pressed, a set of numbers or moments
will be generated (1, 2, 3, etc.) until the stop button is
pressed. If the stop button is never pressed, the seconds will
potentially accrue forever. However, potential infinites are
never actually infinite. A potential infinite is always a finite
set of numbers to which another increment can be added. It will
never reach a point where it becomes infinite no matter how long
it is added to.
For instance, let's say you had a CD collection that was
infinitely large, and each CD had an infinite number of songs onit. If you listened to one CD, you hear as much music as if you
had listened to all of the CDs—an infinite amount—and yet those
infinites are of different sizes—a nonsensical notion. Let's
also say that there were only two artists in your CD collection,
Bach and the Beatles, and that every other CD was by the Beatles.
This would mean that you had as many Beatles CDs as you would
Beatles and Bach CDs combined; they would both be an infinite
number. But at the same time they would be different sized
infinites. And would the number of Beatles CDs be odd or even?
It must be one or the other, but to speak of infinity in such a
way is irrational.
if this makes your brain hurt or is confusing at all,
then you are beginning to understand why actual
infinites do not exist in the physical world. These
examples are not just interesting brainteasers or
puzzles. The fact that if X=Y then X cannot also be
twelve times greater than Y is extremely important. You
would never want to cross a bridge, ride in a car, or
live in a house designed by an engineer who didn't
recognize or didn't care about the absurdities of
This demonstration of the non-existence of actual infinites can
be applied in two real-world areas, time and causality. The best
way to show that time is not infinite, that it had a beginning,
is to observe that there is a ―now.‖ If now exists, then time
cannot be infinite. To show this, picture the moment ―now‖ as a
destination, like a train station. Then picture time as train
tracks that are actually infinitely long. If you were a
passenger waiting on the train to arrive, how long would you
have to wait? The answer is: forever. You can never reach the
end of infinity; thus, infinitely long train tracks cannot ever
be crossed. There is no end to arrive at, no station. If
infinitely long train tracks could be crossed, they would be the
equivalent of a one-ended stick, a nonsensical notion
Just as potential infinites are finite numbers that can never
turn infinite, actual infinites could never reach the end of
their infiniteness and turn finite. But there is an end, a ―now";
the train did arrive at the station. This means the tracks of
time cannot be infinitely long. There cannot be an infinite
number of preceding moments prior to the present moment. Thepast is not an actual infinite. Thus, time had to have a
Time, however, did not cause itself to spring into existence. If
it had a beginning, then something initiated it. This is where
causality comes into the picture. There is no such thing as an
effect that was not caused. You are an effect of the biological
process caused by your parents. These words you now read were
caused by my typing on a keyboard. The current state of the
universe is an effect caused by various astronomical and
physical conditions. Note, however, that each of the causes
mentioned are also effects. For example, your parents are not
only your cause, but they are the effects of their parents who
were the effects of their parents, and so on.
Thus, there must be a cause that is not an effect, an uncaused
cause, or first cause. Since the universe is an effect, it must
have had a cause itself.
The Kalam argument tells us that the universe had a beginning
and that the beginning was caused by an uncaused cause. At this
point there are only two options: either the cause was personal
or it was impersonal. Reflection on what this uncaused cause
would look like leads us to a conclusion rather quickly. The
first cause would require an ability to create. Without this
ability nothing could be created. It would also require an
intention to create, a will to initiate the universe. Without
this will to create, nothing would be created. It would require
a non-contingent being, one whose existence depends on nothing
but itself. If it was contingent, then it would simply be one
more effect in the chain of causes and effects. And it must be
transcendent. The cause of the universe must be outside of and
apart from the universe. Now add all these things together.
What kind of thing relies on nothing for its existence,
has the power to create something from nothing,
has a will to do it or not do it andhas the characteristic of existing outside of the
Does this sound like a personal or impersonal being? Personal,
of course. Thus, the Kalam argument brings us to the conclusion
that the universe had a beginning that was caused by a personal,
powerful, transcendent being.
A question that frequently arises at this point has to do with
God's infinite characteristics.
― If there is no such thing as an actual infinite, then how can
God be infinitely good or loving?‖
When we speak of God's infinite characteristics, we are speaking
in more of a metaphorical manner. We do not mean that God has an
infinitely large quantity of goodness and love with which He
funds His grace and mercy. We mean He is the ultimate embodiment
of goodness and love. These characteristics are without measure
and speak to the quality of His character, not the quantity of
His characteristics. [DOUG POWELL (2012). (p. 33). HQSG to
Christian Apologetics. B&H Publishing Group. Retrieved from
The Thomist Cosmological Argument
In the thirteenth century, Thomas Aquinas gave three forms of
the cosmological argument in his Summa Theologica as a part of
his ―five ways‖ of proving the existence of God. Aquinas's
thinking was this:
Thomas Aquinas (1225/27–1274
―Since nature works for a determinate end under the direction of
a higher agent, whatever is done by nature must be traced back
to God, as to its first cause. So also, whatever is done
voluntarily must also be traced back to some higher cause other
than human reason or will, since these can change and fail. For
all things that are changeable and capable of defect must be
traced back to an immovable and self-necessary first
principle.― 3Aquinas first tried to demonstrate God's existence from
motion. Motion is an effect and as such, needs a cause.
According to Aquinas, ―whatever is moved must be moved by
another.‖ 4 This chain of one thing moving another that moves
another cannot regress infinitely.
As we have shown above, this is impossible. Thus, there must be
a first cause that sets all others into motion—an unmoved mover.
Although everything may be fully capable of functioning, without
a first, uncaused cause to initiate the action, everything would
remain idle and useless. Without the unmoved mover to open the
lid, the universe would become like a wound music box that
remained forever closed, motionless, and silent. Furthermore, to
suggest the music box needs no unmoved mover to open the lid is
to suggest that the wood and metal assembled themselves into the
music box without the need of a craftsman. This first cause or
unmoved mover is what we call God.
Aquinas employed a variation of this argument to arrive at his
second proof. This argument, rather than being based on motion,
is based on existence or what he calls ―efficient cause.‖ 5
Everything that comes into existence owes its existence to
something else. There is nothing that brings itself into
existence or causes itself. Thus, existence is an effect of a
cause that is itself an effect of a cause, and so on. But once
again we cannot trace this lineage of causes back infinitely.
There must be a first cause to explain why any cause exists.
This first cause must be a self-existent being that does not
rely on anything for existence. This self-existent, noncontingent being is called God.
Third, Aquinas based an argument on the possibility of existence.
Nothing we see in the universe has to exist. Everything we see
could just as well not have existed. This makes everything that
exists simply possible, not necessary. But something does exist.
―Therefore,‖ says Aquinas, ―not all beings are merely possible,
but there must exist something the existence of which is
necessary.‖ 6 Thus we know that a necessary being must exist in
order to account for the possible beings that do exist; it makes
the possible beings possible. A being that is necessary for the
existence of all things is called God.
The Leibnizian Cosmological ArgumentWhy is there something rather than nothing? 7
This is the famous question of philosopher G. W. F. von Leibniz,
whose cosmological argument took a slightly different approach
than Aquinas's. Instead of arguing from cause itself, Leibniz
argued there must be a sufficient reason for the existence of
Leibniz bought into Aquinas's arguments regarding cause but saw
that it did not address the why of the cause. Things that are
caused and states of affairs do not just happen without reason.
And in the same way that everything that is caused has a prior
cause, Leibniz observed that everything that exists has a reason
outside of and prior to its existence. And just as there can be
no infinite chain of causes, there can be no infinite chain of
reasons. Thus, the universe cannot provide a sufficient
explanation for its own existence or state of affairs. The only
sufficient reason must be found outside of the universe in a
being whose existence is ―self-explanatory…(and) logically
necessary.‖ 8 And this being is who we call God.
There are a number of examples of how these various forms of the
cosmological argument play out in the real world. The second law
of thermodynamics, for instance, is often used as an
illustration. 9 However, the best and most easily understood
example may be the big bang theory.
The Big Bang
In the 1920s Astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered that our
universe was bigger than previously thought. In fact, it was
much bigger. Until he saw outside our galaxy, the prevailing
thought was that our galaxy was the entire universe. Hubble was
the first to recognize that ours was only one of billions of
galaxies.Late in the decade he was studying the light from distant
galaxies and found it was not what he expected it to look like.
The light he saw did not correspond to any known element or
combination of elements. Then he noticed the light was uniformly
shifted to the red side of the spectrum. All the characteristics
he expected were still there, just at a slightly different
location on the color spectrum, the red end. This phenomenon
became known as the red shift.
Hubble found an explanation for the red shift by applying the
Doppler effect. The Doppler effect says that if sound is emitted
from an object moving toward you, the sound waves are compressed
or shortened. The shortening of the wavelength increases the
pitch of the sound; it is shifted to a relatively higher place
on the register. The farther away the object is as it moves
toward you, the shorter the wavelength and the higher the pitch.
Conversely, if the object is moving away from you, the sound
waves are lengthened. The lengthening of the wavelength
decreases the pitch, shifting the sound to a relatively lower
spot on the register. The Doppler effect is what describes the
change in pitch you hear in sirens from ambulances. As the
ambulance gets closer to you, the sound you hear drops toward
its natural pitch. When it is next to you, you hear the siren at
its natural pitch. As the ambulance gets farther away the siren
drops progressively lower than its natural pitch.
The Doppler effect says that if sound is emitted from
an object moving toward you, the sound waves are
compressed or shortened. The Doppler effect can also apply
to light waves, and this is just what Hubble did to solve the
mystery. The blue end of the light spectrum is composed of the
shorter wavelengths, while the red end is composed of the longer
wavelengths. Everywhere he looked in the universe he saw a red
shift in the light. This meant the objects emitting the light—
stars—are all moving away from each other. Thus the universe is
Other scientists took this discovery and built on it. If the
universe is expanding, it must have a point of origin from which
it was expanding. Other discoveries were made that showed the
expansion is slower now than it was when it began—like an
explosion. This explosion became known as the big bang, the
beginning of the universe.The two primary challengers of the big bang theory are the
steady state theory and the oscillating theory
The steady state theory argues the universe has always existed
and always will exist. Not only do the observations that support
the big bang militate against this view, but it would require
the existence of actual infinites. The fact that there is a now
makes the theory of an infinite number of preceding moments an
The oscillating theory says that the universe will eventually
stop expanding and contract back to a singularity which will
then explode and continue a cycle that will forever repeat.
Again, the theory would require the existence of actual
infinites, a series without beginning or end. But since we exist
in the current oscillation, there must be a start to the cycle.
The other limiting factor is the second law of thermodynamics.
The energy in the universe is not infinite. Just as a rubber
ball bounces lower and faster with each bounce until it stops,
an oscillating universe would eventually run down. Again, an
oscillating universe must have a beginning.
The big bang remains the best explanation for the current state
of the universe. But if the big bang was an explosion, why did
it explode? What exploded and where did it come from? Explosions
are effects and effects need causes—they do not cause themselves.
The cause of the big bang is not to be found in the physical
universe because that is precisely what exploded Also, the
matter that exploded did not create itself. The non-existence of
actual infinites shows that matter cannot be eternal.
So, because the universe had a beginning, something must have
initiated it. It did not start itself. The cause of the universe
must be found outside of the universe; it must be transcendent.
The cause must be powerful in order to create the entire
universe ex nihilo, out of nothing. The cause must not be an
effect but is an uncaused cause. Otherwise, we would fall into a
nonsensical chain of infinite regress. And this cause must not
rely on anything else for its existence; it must be noncontingent—or necessary.
Note that this description only describes what is necessary for
the big bang to work. But if there is such an entity as the one
described, it is still not sufficient for the creation of the
universe. Just because this entity does exist does not mean theuniverse must exist. Something is still missing—intentionality,
a will to make it happen.
A car that has a working engine, a healthy battery, a properly
connected electrical system to start the engine, and is full of
gas has all the necessary conditions for running. Yet parking
lots are full of cars that have the necessary conditions but are
not running. Although they have the necessary conditions, they
lack sufficient conditions. Cars that are moving down the street
have necessary and sufficient conditions for running—that is why
they are moving. What do the moving cars have that the parked
cars do not? They have drivers. And what is a driver? It is a
being that is not part of the car, that has the power to start
the car, that does not rely on the car for its existence, does
not rely on anything outside itself to be able to operate the
car, and has the will to start and direct the car. And if they
are particularly clever they may have even built the car.
Thus, the universe needs a driver, an intelligent agent that
is capable of choosing whether to create the universe or not.
This necessary and sufficient cause of the universe is what we
The cosmological argument has a long history and is employed
effectively by numerous religions. It does not seek to show all
of the attributes and characteristics of God, only that God does
exist. But while the argument does not show which of those
religions is true, it does expose several religions and
worldviews being incompatible with the features of the universe
that the cosmological argument brings to light. These will be
examined in chapter five. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity,
however, hold a view of God that is compatible with the
characteristics of our universe on which the cosmological
argument is based.
Do not be afraid of being free thinkers! If you think strongly
enough you will be forced by science to the belief in God, whichis the foundation of all religion. You will find science not
antagonistic but helpful to religion. 10
— Sir William Thompson, a.k.a. Lord Kelvin
Weider Chapters 2-3
What is the difference between supervision and oversight? Break
those two words apart (supervision and oversight). You have
"super" correlating with the word "over," and you have "vision"looking pretty similar to the word sight. But I think you would
agree that there is a difference between someone who has
"supervision" over an entire department and when that same
employee forgets to perform an important task and apologizes for
In each of the examples above, understanding the context is
necessary in the process of critical thinking. Discernment is
needed in every area of our lives, but the path to discernment
is through critical thinking. Some in American culture even
reject the idea of questioning what another person believes by
championing the idea of tolerance and pluralism. What a person
believes is important and being able to critically think and to
intelligently challenge incorrect thinking is essential in the
process of making wise decisions in life.
WHAT IS CRITICAL THINKING?
Critical thinking is a self-guided, self-disciplined process
which directs individuals to think correctly about themselves
and the world around them. It is an essential method that guides
its adherents toward truth. It involves investigation, analysis,
and self-corrective decision-making, which provide a consistent
and coherent way to solve problems and come to conclusions.
The word critical comes from the Greek word kritikos from which
the English word critic is derived. It means to judge or to
discern, to make sense of, to recognize and comprehend. It is
through the process of questioning what is read, heard, seen,
and experienced that you can come to the best possible
conclusion about a matter in order to make wise decisions.
Humans have the unique ability to think and to make
discriminating choices. Homo sapiens means "thinking man." As
supported in Scripture, the image of God refers to the fact that
we human beings have the same intellect, emotion, and will as
God has… but not to the extent of God's infinite omniscient
(all-knowingness), perfect understanding. God's emotions are
derived from His divine holiness.
Therefore, if you want to be a balanced "critical" thinker, it
is imperative that you follow these three important steps: Rehearse: You must evaluate the evidence and "so-called"
Reflect: You must reflect on the meaning of statements and
Reason: You must test the reasonableness of statements and
REHEARSE: RECOGNIZE AND EVALUATE THE EVIDENCE AND "SO-CALLED"
When people provide their position on a particular issue, we say
that they offer their opinion. For example, some people prefer
deep, dark, warm, rich colors and others prefer fluorescent
colors like hot pink, lime green, and bright turquoise. Some of
us love the beach and others of us love the mountains. These
opinions about our personal preferences are neither right nor
wrong—they are based on how we are wired. But when it comes to
our opinions about a specific topic or an issue, it gets a
little more complicated. Everyone has a right to share their
opinion about a particular issue, but all opinions must be
scrutinized to determine how much credence one should give to
that particular opinion. In other words, everyone has a right to
an opinion, but that does not make every opinion accurate and
correct. And because it is a personal thought, it has the
propensity to be consistent or inconsistent, logical or
illogical, factual or nonfactual. While it is true that opinions
are formulated throughout one's life experience—and experiences
are indeed valuable—it does not guarantee that a person's
opinion will therefore be normative, or what every other person
should adhere to. For people who have no desire to persuade
another to adopt their opinion on an issue, they are simply
sharing their "preference." But a person who wishes for their
opinion to be adopted by another, their view must be formulated
based upon sound evidence, and not just emotions and/or
As a critical thinker you must be able to recognize if the
opinion is based upon sound evidence or based upon personal
preference. And the only way in which someone is able to process
evidence critically is to do his/her own proper and sound
investigation and evaluation of the information presented to
determine if it was accurately obtained and factual.
Therefore, each person who desires to think critically must be
committed to asking the "Who/What/Where/When/Why/How" questions.It is necessary to ask these questions prior to declaring
something as sound and reliable evidence upon which to hold a
REFLECT: REFLECT ON THE MEANING AND SIGNIFICANCE OF STATEMENTS
A critical thinker must be intentional about reflection.
Reflection in this context refers to the process by which you
contemplate the meaning of the statement, the motive of the
statement, and the level of significant impact of the statement.
Reflection can help you at home with personal decisions, at your
job with business obligations, and in spiritual matters of the
heart. It should become an important part of your daily life
that allows you to process information correctly instead of in a
reactionary way. Reflection is necessary for a proper response.
REASON: TEST THE REASONABLENESS OF STATEMENTS AND IDEAS
What about preachers? The authors of this book are both
ministers. Every week we are in front of hundreds of people. So,
how do we feel confident that what we are saying should be
adopted and adhered to?
We firmly believe that Christians should not be exempt from
critical analysis. When we present the truths of the Bible, we
welcome our audience to critically rehearse, reflect, and reason
regarding what has been presented about the Christian faith. In
our lives we have seen many critical thinkers contemplate the
teachings of the Bible only to become persuaded as to the sound
evidence and logic of the Christian faith. Fortunately, in
addition to the number of evidences for the Christian faith
found within the Bible, its validity is also reinforced by
testimonies of how these evidences altered the lives of some key
people in history.
The apostle Paul, the writer of the majority of the New
Testament, is considered to be the greatest apologist of
Christianity, and he was tested. In the book of Acts, the author,
Luke, illustrated this process of critical thinking when he
stated, "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than theThessalonians, for they received the message with great
eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what
Paul said was true" (Acts 17:11).
ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
When you were a child and your parents asked you to do something,
did you ever ask, "Why?" And did you ever hear the response,
"Because I said so"? If you are a parent, have you ever said
that to your child(ren)? How did it go? What reason did you have
for responding that way? Was it legitimate or did you honestly
just not have the energy to explain yourself? Was it the right
way to respond?
Questions and answers like these between parents and children
are often very common and at times appropriate. Parents rightly
see themselves in an authoritative role in which they expect
compliance or agreement. A problem with critical thinking can
exist, though, when children grow up not knowing how or why to
ask the right questions. This will directly affect their ability
to make good decisions.
Other decisions we make can have more lasting consequences like
choosing a major at college, accepting an offer for employment,
or deciding on the right person to marry. There are three
primary approaches all of us take when making decisions:
Indecision—not making a decision—is actually a decision in
itself. There are times when indecision is necessary because you
do not have all of the facts needed to make an informed choice.
The second approach is passive decision-making. This approach is
taken when a person chooses not to evaluate what they see or
hear. They just accept the opinions of others as truth, thusmaking someone else's opinion their own without ever applying
critical thinking skills.
Using the bomb analogy, it would be like choosing a wire based
upon the opinion of an inquisitive person standing next to you.
You ask them, "Which wire should I cut?" They say, "Cut the red
one" and you cut it. Two things might occur at this point. The
bomb might be defused and everyone would be safe, or the bomb
could explode and you and others would die. Sometimes you get
lucky by choosing the passive decision-making approach. But do
you really want to live your life based on luck? We hope not.
The third approach is active decision-making. Everyone has to
make important and/or difficult choices. When that happens to
you, what process do you go through to make the best decision?
Active decision-making is a process of asking the right
questions of yourself and others to come to the best possible
conclusion. These questions might include:
What is the decision I must make?
What values do I need to incorporate in making this
What do I need to know in order to make a wise decision?
Can I trust the sources I am using to make this decision?
What alternatives are available within the scope of this
Have I investigated the issue enough to make an informed
Am I willing to make a decision and follow through on my
Again, if we use the bomb illustration, how would an active
decision maker decide which wire to cut? Let's use the questions
above to illustrate the third approach. First, I must defuse
this bomb. I need to do this because lives are at stake and
human life is precious. I need to know which wire to cut. What
does the person next to me really know about defusing a bomb?
Nothing! Ok, I am not going to take his or her opinion. Is there
anyone else around who knows how to defuse a bomb, or is there
an instruction guide to use?
WHAT IS AN ARGUMENT?Have you ever had an argument with someone? What is the first
thing you assume when you argue with someone? Did you answer,
"I'm right"? What is the second thing you assume? "They're
wrong" is the common response. It is interesting to note that at
the core of these assumptions is the idea that there is an
ultimate right and wrong with regard to opinions.
When you think of the word argument, what comes to your mind? Do
you envision a heated exchange between two or more people? That
is a common interpretation. However, that is not the approach of
this book. We are defining this term in its classical
philosophical sense rather than how we commonly understand and
An argument is an attempt to offer evidence to demonstrate the
soundness of an opinion. An opinion is a personal belief or a
conclusion about an issue or a topic. It can be the result of
using critical thinking or simply an emotional response to
information presented. Opinions are often changed when the
argument presented is more reasonable than competing arguments
because it is supported by better evidence and/or reasons.
Arguments can be sound (logical) or unsound (illogical). Coming
to a conclusion about a matter involves investigating the
evidence or reasons for a belief to determine if it is sound and
WHAT IS EVIDENCE?
Evidence is the basis or cause of a belief. It is a statement of
justification and explanation of a belief or an action. It
answers the questions, "Why do you believe…?" or "Why did you do
that?" There are two primary ways evidence is gathered: personal
experience and data gained from an external source.
The evidence of personal experience is one way data is obtained
to develop an argument. The apostle Paul used this approach when
he was given permission by King Agrippa to defend himself at his
trial in Acts 26. As a part of his argument Paul shares his
personal experience of being confronted by the risen Christ on
the road to Damascus. At the end of Paul's argumentation, after
hearing the evidence, King Agrippa said to Festus and Bernice,
"This man is not doing anything that deserves death or
imprisonment" (Acts 26:31). Paul had won his argument with King
Agrippa.Personal experiences can be very effective and persuasive to
people who find personal experience more appealing than a list
of facts and empirical data. However, personal experience is
limited in its ability to be persuasive since it cannot
necessarily be proven to be true and should not be relied upon
completely in the development of an argument.
FALLACIES USED IN ARGUMENTS
There are numerous fallacies used in presenting arguments. A
fallacy is simply any error, whether intentional or
unintentional, in reasoning. The most common kinds of fallacies
are informal in nature. Think of them as counterfeit arguments.
The following is presented as a sampling of informal logical
fallacies (listed alphabetically).
AD HOMINEM FALLACY
Ad Hominem literally means "to the man." This fallacy seeks to
discredit a person's argument by attacking their personal
character, origin, associations, etc., rather than their ideas.
It is often used when one person realizes that he cannot defend
his beliefs, so he attempts to win an argument in a popular way
through personal or humorous attacks.
Example #1—A politician will attack the opponent personally
rather than attack the opponent's ideas to win a campaign. It
becomes a popularity contest rather than being focused to choose
the best qualified candidate who represents the people's values.
In a debate a question is raised regarding abstinence education
and one of the candidates says, "Here is my opponent, speaking
to you of the values of abstinence and abstinence education when
everyone knows she had a child out of wedlock while she was a
teenager herself!" The argument says nothing about the issue of
abstinence education, but it concentrates on the fact that the
other candidate had a child as a teenager before she was married
APPEAL TO AUTHORITY FALLACY
The appeal to authority argument is used when a person appeals
to the opinions of an expert in a field rather than doing their
own research. It is assumed that their conclusions are true
based solely on their reputation. It is also used when a personappeals to the authority of a popular, well-liked person, who is
respected by the audience, but the person has no real authority
on the matter.
Example #1—Dan Barker, in his book Godless, argues against the
idea that the universe we live in is not unique, but there are
many potential universes like our own. He states, "Many or most
cosmologists are now convinced that some kind of multiverse is
likely. A multiverse is a collection of universes, and there are
many scenarios." The assumption is made that these cosmologists
are correct without investigating their research.
APPEAL TO IGNORANCE FALLACY
Appeal to ignorance is used when a person claims something is
true simply because it cannot be disproved, or that something is
fictitious because it cannot be proven to be true.
Example #1—The existence of God, either the affirmation or the
negation of His existence is often argued using the appeal to
ignorance. In the affirmative it is argued, "I know that God
exists because no atheist, no matter how clever, has ever
provided evidence to the contrary." It is also argued that God
does not exist. "The only reality is what can be known through
the senses, and since I cannot see God, He doesn't exist."
Example #2—Conspiracy theories can be argued using this method
as well. "The government is hiding the truth from us. I know
that aliens exist because the government has not proven that
The Bandwagon argument is used when a person justifies a course
of action because "everyone else is doing it." This argument is
often used when peer pressure (fear of rejection or promise of
affection) causes a person to defend their action or inaction.
Example #1—Ellen: "Mom, can I get a tattoo?"
Ellen: "That's not fair. Everyone at school is getting one for
Ellen is arguing on the basis of the fact that all of her
friends are getting tattoos for graduation. However, she is
offering no good evidence for her reason to get one.Example #2—"I cannot believe that the U.S., as civilized as it
is, still allows the death penalty. Most other countries have
already made capital punishment unlawful. How can the U.S.
continue this barbaric practice?" In this example, the U.S. is
accused of being immoral for allowing capital punishment. But
what valid argument or arguments are given to indicate that
capital punishment is immoral? None were given, so the argument
BEGGING THE QUESTION FALLACY
This argument is sometimes referred to as "circular reasoning."
It occurs in an argument when a person assumes that their
conclusion is true by the premise itself, or that the conclusion
is supported by itself, or by simply restating the conclusion in
a different way. Such an argument is begging the question,
instead of answering it.
Example #1—A Christian is asked to defend their belief that the
Bible is true. Their response is to quote Scripture. "All
Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking,
correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Tim 3:16). The
argument then is that the Bible is true because the Bible says
it's true. Unfortunately no evidence is given to support the
conclusion other than the source itself. Can you see the
circular reasoning? That would be like arguing that your opinion
is right because it is your opinion. Other religious texts also
claim to be true, but that argument alone does not make them
FALSE ANALOGY FALLACY
An analogy is a comparison of similarity between two things. A
false analogy occurs when an argument is formulated on the basis
of a comparison of unrelated things. People often apply their
knowledge of one thing and use it in conjunction with an
unrelated area. Sometimes that approach is appropriate. For
example, a preacher might use an example from nature to describe
a spiritual truth. However, there are times when an argument is
given, but its comparison is not legitimate. A false analogy has
Example #1—A biology textbook instructs its readers about the
evolution of arthropods. Examples of arthropods include the
extinct trilobite, and modern day spiders, crabs, andbutterflies. The argument in part is presented as follows: "The
first arthropods occurred in the sea more than six hundred
million years ago. Since then, arthropods have moved into all
parts of the sea, most freshwater habitats, the land, and the
air… This early body plan was modified gradually. Body segments
were lost or fused over time… Arthropod appendages also evolved
into different forms that are adapted in ways that enable them
to perform different functions. These appendages include antenna,
claws, walking legs, wings, flippers, mouth parts, tails, and
other specialized structures."
The authors then attempt to provide a practical example of this
evolutionary process. "These gradual changes in arthropods are
similar to the changes in modern cars since the Model T, the
first mass-produced automobile. The Model T had all of the basic
components, such as an internal combustion engine, wheels and a
frame. Over time, the design changed, producing cars as
different as off-road vehicles, sedans and sports cars.
Similarly, modifications to the arthropod body plan have
produced creatures as different as a tick and a lobster."
FALSE DILEMMA OR EITHER/OR FALLACY
A false dilemma occurs in an argument when a person
oversimplifies a complex issue to make it appear that only two
alternatives are possible. There are times when only two options
exist. For example, there are only two choices in responding to
the question, "Does God exist?" He either exists or He doesn't
exist. There isn't a third alternative to choose from and the
answer to that question doesn't commit this fallacy. However,
when a false dilemma does occur, you should ask yourself whether
additional options are plausible.
The false analogy is evident by their comparison of a
hypothetical evolutionary process change in arthropods with the
intelligent design change of modern automobiles. Body parts from
the Model T did not just fall off or fuse with other body parts
to one day become a Lamborghini. (Citation: Miller, Kenneth R.,
Levine, Joseph, Biology, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
HASTY CONCLUSION FALLACY
A hasty conclusion occurs when one makes a judgment on the basis
of one or even a few samples. This argument is used when a
conclusion is made without enough evidence. When using criticalthinking you want to have a good reason for why you have
concluded something. In this case, it is necessary to continue
to investigate before coming to a conclusion and especially
before sharing that conclusion with someone else.
Example #1—"My friend told me that her philosophy class was hard.
I'm in a philosophy class and it's hard, too. All philosophy
classes are hard." Although each person's experience may be real
and true to them, the opinions of two individuals do not
constitute enough evidence to prove the fact that all philosophy
classes are hard.
IS/OUGHT NATURALIST FALLACY
The is/ought or naturalistic fallacy occurs when a person comes
to a conclusion about the way things ought to be on the basis of
how things are or are assumed to be. It is coming to an "ought"
from an "is." Unfortunately this is a very common fallacy that
is used by people to justify everything from the use of hymnals
in our churches to acting selfishly in our decision-making.
Example #1—Pastor: "This Sunday we are going to be led in
worship by our youth group. They won't be using the hymnals as
we usually do, but they will be leading us in praise and worship
using a PowerPoint presentation. The words will be on the screen
for us to follow along."
Deacon: "Pastor, I don't think it's right to sing these new
praise and worship songs."
Pastor: "How come?"
Deacon: "Well, we've never done it any other way. It's just not
In this case, no good reasons were given not to sing praise and
worship songs other than tradition. It was assumed that
something ought to be continued because of the way that it is.
An overgeneralization argument is when a judgment is made about an
entire group of people based upon the behavior, usually undesirable, of a
few in that group. This is also known more popularly as stereotyping.Stereotypes are overgeneralizations that can become assumptions and shared by many
people and at times, an entire group. Some stereotypes are of things such as public
education, modern music, the arts, churches, synagogues or mosques. Other examples
of stereotypes include people such as politicians, televangelists, feminists, athletes and
Example #1—"All homeless people are lazy. They just want a hand-out. If our city is
ever going to be safe, we need to take drastic measures and send all of these homeless
people to another city." In this example, an entire segment of the population is being
labeled as lazy. [Lew Weider (2015). (p. 48). Finding Your Worldview: Thinking
Christianly about the World, Revised Ed.. B&H Academic. Retrieved from
An oversimplification argument is to conclude that an effect has only one
cause when in reality it is the result of multiple causes. It is also ignoring
the complexity of the issue and omitting other vital information to draw a
conclusion. Unfortunately, this type of fallacy is used by some individuals when
people are asking legitimate questions about why something tragic has occurred. It can
also be used in everyday reasoning about common situations.
Example #1—"Can you believe the shooting that took place at school yesterday? It was
tragic that so many innocent lives were killed. How could something like this occur in
our town? If gun laws were stricter, this wouldn't have happened."
Regardless of your opinion about gun laws, this is an example of an oversimplification
fallacy. It might be one reason that the killings occurred but unless further information
is gathered, the issue is too complex for one reason to be given. More than likely the
shooting was the result of multiple causes. What other reasons might be given for this
incident? Be careful when making a judgment about why something occurred. There are
usually many reasons to consider.
RED HERRING FALLACY
A red herring argument is raising an irrelevant issue to divert attention
from the primary issue. This fallacy often appeals to fear or pity. The
argument also can use guilt to manipulate others into agreement and action. It is often
inserted into an argument to help a person win the argument without directly dealingwith the real issue. It is irrelevant to the real issue at hand, though it may seem to be
Example #1—"Euthanasia should