What are some examples of circular reasoning in issues that Christians debate?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
Simply put, circular reasoning is an attempt to support a statement or claim by repeating it in different or stronger terms. Circular reasoning is false logic, and it shows up in many fields where ...

July 01 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie Supporter Housewife, Artist, Perpetually Curious
Circular reasoning is an argument or chain of arguments wherein the conclusion is assumed in the founding premise. This may be in identically terms, "God exists, therefore God exists", or it may be paraphrased. "She works a lot because she is very busy". Logically speaking, the argument is valid, since if the premises are true the identical conclusion must be true as well. However, the reasoning is considered a fallacy, because one is basically arguing "A is true because A", offering no further support but the assumption of one's conclusion. One has "proven" nothing.

It is important to point out Circular reasoning has not occurred if the premise is different from the conclusion.

For example: "I trust the Bible, because the Bible is trustworthy" is circular reasoning. Conversely, stating "The Bible is true, the Bible states God exists, therefore God exists" is not circular reasoning. It would become circular reasoning if the argument took the form, "The Bible is true, the Bible says to trust what God says, God says the Bible is true, and therefore the Bible is true."

It is also important to note that circular reasoning does not make the premise/conclusion automatically false. "I am ten years old because I have lived for ten years" doesn't become false because of the faulty reasoning. Rather, circular reasoning is a fallacy because it cannot prove or support the truth of something. Other supports and proofs should be used.

Circular reasoning [also known as 'begging the question], as well as other logical fallacies, are used at times by most everyone regardless of whether or not they are Christian. Sometimes we use them for lack of time to list other things, or as a 'truism' for poetic purposes. Use of circular reasoning does not mean that there may not be other supports available. Nor is circular reasoning equivalent to the use of axioms, presuppositions or assumed truths, as a starting premise for larger arguments of philosophy. 

Here are some common circular arguments that can be thrown out by Christians, though more often used to accuse Christians of what they believe, and how to break the chain:

 'The Bible is innerant because whatever the Bible says is true' 

If one finds oneself using this, try using a support that is different from the conclusion. 'Scripture is self-consistent and harmonious', 'textual criticism supports the integrity of translation, Paul states that all scripture is God-breathed, 'Jesus is faithful and true', 'archaeology has supported much, and never contradicted, events and places in the Bible', 'The Bible contains eyewitness accounts and testimonies', 'The truth of scripture is an axiom underlying Christianity; the self-consistency of scripture and consistency of scripture with the real world defending that axiomatic presupposition', etc.

 All have sinned, so all have fallen short of the glory of God 

Since sin is by definition missing the mark of God's righteousness, it's the same thing. The best way out of this loop is to use Rom 3:21-26 in context as a premise, not a conclusion. -Because- all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. -Because- all have sinned, we all need to receive righteousness through belief in Christ.

 God doesn't approve of alcohol use, so Jesus must have changed the water into grapejuice. Jesus changed it into grapejuice, because God does not approve of people drinking.  Or, "Women can't be deacons, so the women in I Tim 3:11 must refer to the wives of deacons and not to deaconesses. Since Paul did not mention female deacons, women can't be deaconesses" .

Some debates in the church boil down to circular reasoning of this type. A conclusion is assumed to make a premise, a verse read in light of that premise, and then the verse used as proof of the conclusion. A good way to avoid this trap is taking verses in context, and not building core doctrine off of single verses.

May 14 2015 1 response Vote Up Share Report

1338238681 Daryl Schlotthauer
Another example of where circular reasoning is when people try to use Luke 23:43 to prove that people go straight to heaven when they die, instead of sleeping in the grave until the resurrection like the Bible tells us concerning what happens when we die.

I've had people tell me that since Jesus said to the thief on the cross "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" that proves that you go directly to heaven when you die. When I point out that there wasn't any punctuation in the original text and that was something that the translators put in they they translated to English and they really should have written it "Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise". They say "No, that comma belongs before the word 'Today', since you go straight to heaven when you die".

April 11 2015 5 responses Vote Up Share Report

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