|Logical Argument of Appeal to Fear / Argumentum In Terrorem|
Logical Argument of Appeal to Fear / Argumentum In Terrorem
The logical fallacy of appeal to fear occurs when someone uses fear to coerce someone into accepting some statement as true. There are ways that fear is used to persuade that are not good. Sometimes, this appeal to fear is connected with ultimatum. Scripture tells us that God has not given us a spirit of fear. John the Baptist wouldn’t accept the Pharisees because they were simply trying to avoid the wrath of God but didn’t truly want to serve Him.
Sometimes, it is good to let someone know that something bad could happen, for instance if a person is walking backwards toward a cliff or if a person is failing to acknowledge God. Parents do well to teach their children to look both ways when crossing a street or not to touch the hot stove. Here, fear is not used to make the child believe that cars exist or that the stove is hot. The logic is: "If you touch something that is very hot, you will get hurt; the stove is very hot; therefore, if you touch the stove, you will get hurt." If the conclusion were, "Therefore, the stove exists," this would be appeal to fear. It is good to let people know that the wages of sin (wandering from the way that leads to life) is death. God has a reason for warning every person about Hell. Only those who truly choose to turn from God will be there, and God is the one who judges who those are. On the other hand, John the Baptist would not accept the religious hypocrites who came out to him when they came to avoid the wrath to come without any intention of submitting to the will of God.
Examples of the Logical Argument of Appeal to Fear / Argumentum In Terrorem
Some Scriptures come to mind: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household." "If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." "that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him." The attempt is to coerce through fear and is usually accompanied by plenty of argument in the doctrines that add to or take from the Scripture. Growing in Christ requires faithfulness, but being born again requires Jesus Christ. Everyone who is born again is born as a baby in Christ with no maturity in Him. Not much appears to be required of a baby other than sincerity and submission that comes with faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the utterance of God. Most who come to be born again hear that utterance of God through the mouth of another person who has Christ living within.
Often, anger is used to generate fear for the purpose of coercion. For many people, this is enough to make them turn from Christ or at least not let anyone know that they know Christ.
This threat is usually not spelled out in this way, but sometimes it is. Political correctness is used to promote sin in many cases. On the other hand, those who follow Christ need to pray for wisdom as to how to best testify to people who have not only not known Christ but who have been taught by corrupted schools, news, and entertainment to be very resistant to Christ. A good strategy might be to talk about the meaning of life. When someone is rejecting Christ, they cannot answer the four most basic questions that everyone asks about life.
Ravi Zacharias' Questionable Answers:
This remark was taken from a blog. First, we have a claim with no proof. There is a band wagon fallacy. Following that, is the logical fallacy of appeal to fear. The way this is used to coerce is two-fold. First, if you don't believe the story, then you will be labeled as extremist and dangerous as a punishment. Second, it is playing to the crowd to try to muster up political energy to use the government for physical coercion.
Last updated: Aug, 2014
Toons & Vids
Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Emotion / Emotional Appeal / For the Children
Logical Fallacy of Argument by Slogan / Simplistic Slogans
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Logical Argument of Appeal to Fear / Argumentum In Terrorem
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Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Flattery / Apple Polishing / Wheel Greasing / Brown Nosing / Appeal to Pride / Argumentum Ad Superbiam / Appeal to Snobbery / Appeal to Vanity / Proof Surrogate
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