Saturday, August 05, 2006

Dr. Geoff's Guide to the Logical Fallacies

BeepBeepIt'sMe has posted a link to a BBC Morality Test. (And, sucker that I am for these online quiz things, I took it.) The test is largely based upon the work of psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg, particularly his famous "Heinz Dilemma." Here's how I fared:

Your score [39 out of 44 as I recall] puts you in the highest category of social reasoning. You will see ethical and moral values as important to the needs of society and will appeal to basic rights or values. You might say "Honesty is a standard which everyone should accept" or "Life is sacred."

Conformity to ethical norms is important to you, in terms of a responsibility, obligation or commitment for all individuals, although you may be willing to consider exceptions in some particular circumstances. You are likely to suggest that with entitlement or privilege comes responsibility.

You will appeal to considerations of responsible character or integrity in others, preferring a consistent or standard practice of behaviour in order to avoid damage to social institutions such as the legal system.

However, you will want to see an adjusted case-by-case application of standards for the sake of fairness to all people. Lastly, you are very likely to appeal to standards of individual or personal conscience, as well as of honour, dignity or integrity.
BeepBeepIt'sMe (who fared much the same) is quite forthcoming about her atheism, and the responses she tends to receive from certain quarters of the 'sphere as a result of her frankness seems to bear out my own theory that, as a rule, non-atheists tend to find atheists more confronting than theists who simpl observe a different belief system. So I suppose you could say she was asking for trouble when in the same post she asserted the following:
The point of doing a test like this can be expressed in a variety of ways.

The most obvious result of this test is this ~ Neither religious belief nor the lack of it, ensures morality.

In other words, one is neither moral nor immoral because of a religious belief nor moral or immoral because of the lack of a religious belief.

Neither religious belief nor the lack of it, guarantees morality.
Let's just say that it was inevitable that a theist would take umbrage. And the subsequent sermon doubles as a case study in muddle-headed thinking. Let's just call it . . .


The Naturalistic Fallacy
"It's not that atheists can't display morality or moral actions. It's that a belief in morality is inconsistent with atheism. If we are just atoms bouncing around morality is just an illusion. [. . .] Atheists who say otherwise, like yourself, have the impossible task of explaining how meaningful objective morality (or even meaning) can be derived from atoms bouncing around."

Begging the Question
"You want to say "hey, atheists can be moral and theists can act bad." No one said otherwise. But when you uphold morality you are stealing from theism. I would argue that is because God has implanting things in you that you can't avoid. The general knowledge of right and wrong is one of them and they point to His existance."
(In other words: "Morality comes from God. How do we know God exists? Because we have morality.")

Straw Man
"There have been some atheists you have tried to maintain that they think morality is subjective. I doubt most of them really believe that, but they are at least trying to be intellectually consistent with their atheism."

Argumentum ad nauseam
"I would postulate that God existed prior to all those ancient tribes, so if all those ancient tribes who had no belief in God also had beliefs in right and wrong it has no bearing on my argument. They would be presupposing theism without knowing it, just like you."

Non sequitur
"I could give you evidence of God's existance (the Resurrection, the fine-tuning of the physical laws of the universe, etc., etc.), but I would rather show you all the things you are already presupposing which require theism."

Thankyou, Dr. Geoff. Tune in next time for "Ask Dr. Geoff."

("Hmmmm. No sir: I don't like it.")