• Invincible Ignorance


    For a little while, I’ve wanted to share a short post about my favourite logical fallacy.  Not to be confused with the Catholic doctrine of the same name, the Invincible Ignorance Fallacy refers to the situation where one party in a debate “simply refuses to believe the [opponent’s] argument, ignoring any evidence given”.

    I could list numerous examples of this fallacy in action, and I’m sure my readers (on all sides of all debates) can point to many cases from their own experience.  But a classic example happened a few days ago, when I shared my recent blog, Deny Christ or die… or… , on the Reasonable Faith Facebook page.  That generated some discussion, but ultimately led to a very frustrating conversation with a Christian who thought he had a silver bullet:

    Are you basing your moral evaluations of Christianity on an objective or subjective moral standard?

    Obviously, if I simply answered Objective!”, he would say “Oh yeah, well you can’t have objective standards without God”, while if I replied “Subjective!”, then he would respond “Oh yeah, well why should anyone else think your subjective standard holds any sway?”.

    Naturally, as anyone who has thought deeply about these questions would know, it’s a bit more complicated than that.  I referred the Craig fan to my previous blog, Morality: just a theory?, in which I consider that question at length.  I suspect he never read it, but in any case, despite my frequently addressing his question, he continually claimed that his challenge had gone unanswered.

    I’m happy for my ideas to be dissected and critiqued.  I’ll defend my ideas if I think the critique is inadequate.  But I’m perfectly happy to change my views if I become convinced I was wrong, as evidenced by my deconversion from Christianity.  However, repeatedly saying “You haven’t answered my question” (when this is not the case) is not a critique that needs to be taken seriously – it is not really a critique at all, and is nothing more than the Invincible Ignorance Fallacy.

    Category: Logic


    Article by: Reasonably Faithless

    Mathematician and former Christian