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Logical Fallacy of Ad Ignorantiam Question


Logical Fallacy of Ad Ignorantiam Question

The logical fallacy of ad ignorantiam question occurs when an question (sometimes unanswerable such as a request to prove a universal negative) is used as proof of a claim rather than giving a reason to believe the claim. The logical fallacy of ad ignorantiam question claims that something is either true or false based on another person's ability or lack of ability to answer a certain question.

If someone makes a statement that is a universal negative or other statement cannot be proven, there is no fallacy in asking for proof of any claim. It is also not a fallacy to ask a question that points out that a dogmatic belief cannot be defended. This fallacy occurs only when a question (that can't be answered, at least not at the moment) is taken as proof that a claim is true (or false). This is a very common form of ad ignorantiam argument, so it gets its own definition.

Examples of the Logical Fallacy of Ad Ignorantiam Question

"God exists! What proof do you have that He doesn't?"

Of course no one can prove that God doesn't exist, but that is not why we believe. We believe because we know Him personally.

Bill Nye trying to prove that trees could not have survived the flood: “You can try this yourself, everybody. I mean, I don’t mean to be mean to trees, but get a sapling and put it under water for a year. It will not survive in general, nor will its seeds. They just won’t make it. So how could these trees be that old if the Earth is only 4,000 years old?”

(Bill Nye probably meant to ask how the trees could have survived the global flood of Genesis, and there is an answer to that question.)

So Bill Nye's argument is that he doesn't know how this happened, and he is betting that you can’t explain how it happened, so he asserts  that based on this lack of knowledge, he knows that the Bible has an error. However, your knowledge, or Bill Nye’s knowledge or lack thereof has no effect at all on reality. Bill Nye is using the logical fallacy of an argument from ignorance. All of these questions that Bill Nye is asking would fall into the class of fallacies known as ad ignorantiam. This is a common tactic of asking a question, or, in this case, a long series of questions, then claiming that if the other person can't answer them (or doesn't have enough time to answer them in this case), then that proves something or some things (in this case that a young Earth, a global flood, and creation) are impossible. These fallacies can sound very convincing, however, they are irrational. Just because Bill Nye the science guy doesn’t know some things about science doesn’t mean that those things are impossible.

"It will not survive in general, nor will its seeds." “Many terrestrial seeds can survive long periods of soaking in various concentrations of salt water (Howe, 1968, CRSQ:105-112). Others could have survived in floating masses. Many could have survived as accidental and planned food stores on the ark.” There are explanations for these things as the links below document. Again, Bill resorts to the logical fallacy of hysteron proteron, stating what has not been proven as if it were a fact. However, this is a bit of a red herring as well. The Ark would almost certainly have carried seeds as one of the main food. There is evidence that there were floating islands, huge mats of vegetation during the flood. These would have had many seeds floating above the water. Most importantly, Bill is assuming Naturalism and basing his whole argument on that. It is the unspoken basis for his premises, his proof. This is a form of hysteron proteron, using the unproven assumption of naturalism as proof.

Bill Nye is claiming that the trees could not have survived a flood, therefore that flood didn't happen. However, his claim that the trees could not have survived is based on poor logic and assumptions. So, this is an argument by Bill Nye that pits his poor logic and arbitrary assumptions against Divine revelation. Assumptions are not real and cannot be verified. Divine revelation is real and can be verified, since every single person who comes to Christ will find Christ. Whoever seeks Him finds Him. Anyone can verify this. Of course, they must come in submission and deep respect desiring to do God's will. Once they know Christ, the Holy Spirit will teach them that the Bible is God's Word without error. From that point it is an unfolding revelation pressing toward the mark of the high calling, the manifestation of the sons of God.



Last updated: Sep, 2014

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Toons & Vids



Logical Fallacy of Stacking the Deck / Cherry Picking / Cherry Picking Data / Suppressed Evidence / Fallacy of Incomplete Evidence / Argument from Selective Observation / Argument by Half-Truth / Card Staking / Fallacy of Exclusion

Logical Fallacy of Ambiguity Effect

McNamara Fallacy

Head in the Sand / Ostrich Fallacy

Suppression of the Agent Fallacy

Fading Affect Bias / FAB

"What I Don't Know Is Not Important" / Unteachable Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Argument by Selective Refutation

Logical Fallacy of A-Priorism

Logical Fallacy of Audiatur Et Altera Pars / Failure to State Assumptions

Error of Ignoring Historical Example

Logical Fallacy of Overlooking Secondary Consequences

Uncontrolled Factors Fallacy

Missing Link Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Moving the Goal Posts / Gravity Game / Raising the Bar

Gravity Game Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Argument by Demanding Impossible Perfection / Unfalsifiable Claims / Demanding Impossible Evidence

Unfalsifiable Claims Fallacy / Unfalsifiability / Untestibility

The Invincible Ignorance Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Ignorance / Ad Ignorantiam / Argument from Ignorance / Argument from a Lack of Evidence

Logical Fallacy of Ad Ignorantiam Question

God of the Gaps Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Argument from Silence / Argumentum Ex Silentio

Logical Fallacy of No True Scotsman (a type of stacking the deck)

No True Scientist Fallacy

Fallacy of Opposition

Frozen Abstraction Fallacy

Falsified Inductive Generalization Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Argument from the Negative

Logical Fallacy of a dicto simpliciter ad dictum secundum quid / Accident Fallacy

Converse Accident Fallacy / Reverse Accident Fallacy

Best-in-Field Fallacy

Abductive Fallacy / Retroduction Fallacy / Retroductive Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Denialism / Denial

Logical Fallacy of Reductionism / Oversimplification

Persimplex Responsum Fallacy / Very Simple Answer Fallacy / Very Simple Solution Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Reductionism / Oversimplification

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