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A few days back, I was in a friendly debate with one of my best friends. As usual, it was about the existence of God. He made this statement, ‘”Our eyes have a limitation in seeing objects. It can’t see smaller things beyond an extent. Our ears are also limited so that we can only hear in the frequency interval, 20Hz to 20kHz. In fact, all our sense organs are limited by certain boundaries. So is the brain. Our brain has limitations. So you are incapable of understanding the existence of God because your brain has not yet gone beyond your limitation.”
It seems he made a ‘reasonable’ argument. But the fact is, he made a logical fallacy. There are many logical fallacies generally people use to confuse their opponents in a debate. Logical fallacies always lead us to false conclusions. In this particular case, he used “Non sequitur” (Latin for ‘It does not follow’) argument. This type of fallacies are used very common, and people can be easily fooled by listening to a ‘non sequitur’. In a non sequitur, the conclusion could be either right or wrong, but the conclusion does not follow from previous arguments and is thus fallacious. In simple words, in a non sequitur, a set of thoughts is generally shown first, and then a conclusion is drawn that is entirely unrelated to the first set of arguments. These fallacies are typically focused more on how fluently or beautifully a sentence is framed, rather than the correctness of the logic of the sentence.
I had no time to tell all these formal definitions to my friend. So I replied a similar argument just to show him how weak his reasoning was. I replied, “Our eyes have a limitation in seeing objects. It can’t see smaller things beyond an extent. Our ears are also limited so that we can only hear in the frequency interval, 20Hz to 20kHz. In fact, all of our sense organs are limited by certain boundaries. So is the brain. Our brain has limitations. So you are incapable of understanding the non-existence of God because your brain has not yet gone beyond your limitation. Lol :P”.
I told him that if his sentence is valid, so is mine. But then, how can two complementary concepts coexist? This proves both the sentences are logically wrong.
This is how generally religious people argue. A closer look reveals that all these arguments boil down into one among the logical fallacies.
Following are a few points which tell you how exactly religious beliefs can bend your thinking:
- Religion prompts you to think that using logically fallacious arguments is just fine: Logical arguments are based on logic mathematics. So using logic fallacies will lead you into false conclusions. The pathetic situation is when you can’t identify the fallacy in your arguments. This is because the capability to rethink your arguments/beliefs is turned off at your childhood by forcing you just to believe what you are taught. Then, as you get older, you will start to use the same false approaches to prove or disprove anything. If you were brought up in a religious background, you might have been taught that God exists. Also, people (teachers, parents, relatives, etc.) might have given thousands of analogies and fallacious arguments to support this. In childhood, you accept all these without questioning because of two reasons:
- Your logic /critical thinking is not well developed.
- You believe your elders, so their words.
- Religion teaches you to use analogies to ‘prove’ the existence of God: In fact, this is another logical fallacy generally people use in their argument. An analogy is usually used to make people understand a complex concept in a more straightforward manner. Analogy never proves anything. It compares two concepts and expresses similarity. To make sense of analogy, the concept should be independently tested. E.g., “Everything in this universe has a centre of mass. Similarly God can be considered as the centre of mass of the universe itself.” Here, the first statement, “Everything in this universe has a centre of mass” is used to draw the conclusion, “God can be considered as the centre of mass of the universe itself”. Here this conclusion can never be drawn from the first statement since these two statements are just comparing God with the concept of centre of mass, nothing else. When you practice the use of arguments like these to believe in something, it is highly likely that others can easily fool you.
- Religion makes you incapable of thinking outside your belief: Everyone claims that their faith is right. They are all ‘atheists’ concerning other religions. Everyone thinks that only their religion is right, just because they are utterly incapable of thinking outside their beliefs. Sometimes they even deny scientific shreds of evidence and successful mathematical models which supports Darwin’s theory of evolution. I bet that if you try to teach religion to a person at an age around 20-25, who had not gone through any religious teachings in his childhood, then you will find a hard time to make him believe in God. This suggests that most of the people believe in God just because they are taught so in their childhood.
- Religion teaches to comfortably believe irrational thoughts whenever they are needed: When science says big-bang happened from nothingness, religious people hastily come and say that there must be a God to do it. Because for them emerging of something from nothing is highly irrational. Then if you ask them who created God, they say comfortably that nothing created him, which is again an irrational thought. But they conveniently believe it, just because they are taught to think. I bet that any child who is trained that the universe came into existence from nothing, will comfortably believe in big bang theory without asking for a creator. It turns out that God has no unique role, but your childhood has.
There are many examples to show how religion can influence straight thinking of people. For example, it is implausible for a religious creationist to choose evolutionary biology, which is pure science. Thus a religious doctrine limits people from participating in science. Religion can even destroy your career in science. For example, Kurt wise, a person who has a PhD from Havard in Geology, discontinued his career in science because his religious scripture tells everything opposite to what he studied in science. This is what Dawkin’s said about it:
“”Kurt Wise, who has a PhD in Geology from Havard, said if all the evidence in this universe pointed out to an older earth, then I would be the first one to admit it, but still I believe in creationism because that’s what holy scriptures teach me. You can’t argue with such a mind.“
If religion can do this to a highly educated person, what about ordinary people? It’s time to think…