Tag Archives: False Dilemma

Logical Gal says: We need another category for God

3 Sep

Have you ever been cornered at the mall by one of those survey-takers? You know, the kind with the clipboard making a beeline just for you?

Survey taker at the mall The kinds of questions they ask always frustrate me because there are not enough options to cover how I really think.  So I am pigeon-holed into declaring a position that doesn’t reflect my views!

Similarly, we Christians sometimes make a mistake of allowing a false description of God go uncorrected simply because we do not have enough categories in our repertoire.

I’m thinking of the false dilemma that atheists try to force us into.  One

If God is a loving being as you Christians claim He is, then He would not allow any evil!

Evil obviously DOES exist

Therefore, God is not loving

A different version of this might be to set it up so that the very existence of God is at stake, with the presence of evil being proof that He can’t exist.

Evil and suffering God allows

What we need, however, IS a category that allows for a good and loving God who has a good and loving purpose for allowing suffering.  Is that so implausible?

I heard just yesterday a man paint a scenario of aliens visiting earth and observing a hospital delivery room where the following is happening:

  • a woman is panting in agony
  • her husband looks anxious
  • one person looks like he is trying to suffocate the woman by placing something over her mouth and nose
  • a sharp needle is stuck in her arm
  • a few minutes later as she is thrashing about, a man takes a knife and slices open her belly
  • he extracts a wailing slimy little person from inside the woman
  • people rush the small creature away from the woman who is holding her arms out clearly wanting to see and touch this life form

The aliens would NOT know the reasons behind this incomprehensible series of events and conclude that earthlings are cruel and bizarre.


What they would not realize that in a short while:

  • the woman would be smiling as she held her living, breathing precious newborn
  • a very relieved husband would be hovering, maybe videoing his new daughter
  • the past agony of an emergency C-section would be considered well worth the pain fear

If such a scenario exists to explain and justify a not so ordinary example of human suffering, is it possible that God might have a ‘good’ reason for allowing what we considered evil?  This is NOT to deny evil, pain and suffering, but is a justification for forming another category for a God who IS good AND allows circumstances which cause us to recoil since we don’t understand or see the purpose.

What we cannot say, like the aliens who don’t have all the information, is that since WE don’t know the reason, there must not be one.


Question:  Which objection to the existence of the biblical God do you encounter most often? 

Logical Gal spots False Dilemmas all over the place

29 Nov

How’s this for that nasty habit of bi-furcation?

“On Dec. 9, 2010, Bolivian President Evo Morales called for both climate change reparations and the death of capitalism claiming that “[t]here are two ways: either capitalism dies or Mother Earth dies.” Morales cited a debunked stat which claimed that 300,000 people die annually from the effects of climate change.”

You can read the above excerpt in context of the following article – Assigning blame in the typhoon disaster

You have to admit that there is rhetorical force in this dramatically stark,  no-win choice President Morales announced.  But that’s about all you can say.  Since he obviously wants us to listen to him, we can turn to this ‘expert prophet’ and ask him some questions.  After all, the burden of proof is on the one who makes the claim.

  • Why are capitalism and the health of our planet mutually exclusive?
  • Why do you think your point of view is correct?
  • What kind of economic system do you have in mind that would replace capitalism?
  • How can you be sure that the system you propose will not have a damaging affect on our planet?
  • How will you help all the families that will lose their livelihood if you eliminate capitalism?
  • What makes you qualified to make this kind of judgment?

Asking questions is the best response for several reasons: 

  • It’s less stressful than having to defend your point of view
  • You learn more and can then see more clearly to ask other questions
  • You don’t need to be an expert in any of the areas of discussion
  • It puts pressure on the one asserting his position
  • It can expose a bluffer who has no reasons for his blustery proclamation

So, don’t be afraid of radical views.  Keep calm.  Take a deep breath and ask a few simple questions.  Besides, you’ll probably disarm your interlocutor who is expecting you to attack back!

False Dilemmas – either you like this post or you don’t!

2 Aug

Welcome back to Fallacy Friday!

What would you say to these Mom-type statements?

·         You can either pick up your toys now or after dinner!

·         Either you take ‘Puppy’ out for a walk or clean up his mess!  

·         It’s either the flute or the violin those are the only instruments that won’t be too loud for this apartment complex.

Moms often frame and limit choices to channel their children in a direction suitable to the parent.  And if kids are wise, they won’t come back with, “That’s a fallacy, Mom!  You’re offering me a false dilemma.  I could pick up my toys tomorrow morning….Dad could take ‘Puppy’ out now, not me…..and what about an acoustic guitar, that wouldn’t be too loud?” 

So when presented with 2 choices, that is to say, a dilemma, we have to determine if the choice is an actual dilemma or a false one, meaning there are other possibilities. Sometimes we intentionally try to manipulate someone along a path they might not choose – creating  a false dilemma and hoping the recipient won’t notice.  But then at times, there truly are only two choices.

Here are some actual, that is to say true, ‘either/or’ situations:

·         Either Susie is pregnant or she is not.

·         Either the check is in the mail or it is not, (if we mean by ‘in the mail’ that we have given it over into custody of the postal service).

But what about the choice below – Is it a false dilemma or a true one?

  • ·         Either you’re with us or you’re against us.

Sometimes armies or political groups or other régimes try to force this black and white choice. But it can be too simplistic and successfully resisted.  Switzerland has tried to maintain neutrality through many conflicts. But it all depends on how one defines ‘against’.

If someone suggested to me that either I join the efforts to fight global warming OR if I didn’t then I would be fighting against their efforts, I would beg to differ.  I would argue that I in fact DO fight global warming but not in the way they perhaps want to dictate.  I conserve resources.  I take active measures not to pollute by choosing to walk instead of drive when feasible.  The only way we would come to any resolution is if I would agree with their vision of what ‘with them/ against them’ looks like. If they defined ‘with’ as more activist steps rather than my passive/conserving measures, then I could understand and perhaps concede their point.

Of course this is all hypothetical in that I have not had this conversation with an activist who fights to raise consciousness of a global warming problem.

In the end, we come back to TERMS.  There is often times no point in discussing someone’s assertion UNTIL there is consensus about terms.  As you can see in the discussion above, even prepositions such as the dual pair with/against must be included in the understanding of concepts.

I hope that the next time you frame a choice or have one imposed on you, that you will stop to ask if there are any other possibilities.  Either there are or there are not!  Now is that a true dilemma or a false one??