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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

“If you don’t believe what we believe about this doctrine, you are going to go to Hell.”

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.

“I get so angry when I hear about people like you who follow Jesus Christ. There is no God.”

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.

“If you say that [such and such] is a sin, I will report you and you will lose your job.”

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:
1. What is the nature of evil? Can you talk of evil without first assuming a moral framework, definition of right and wrong? No.
2. What is the nature of justice? Can you cry for justice without knowing the justifiable source for all moral law? No.
3. What is nature of love? Can you talk of love unless you ask the question of life's intrinsic value? Is there essential value to a human being? No.
4. What is the nature of forgiveness? Can you talk of forgiveness unless you talk of alienation and atonement? How do you talk about forgiveness coupled with justice unless you have someone who pays the price so forgiveness can take place? No.

“What cannot be mistaken is the fact we have evolved. Even if the argument becomes macro v. micro evolution - no one can deny we have evolved, and if they do, they are extremist and dangerous.”

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.

Fallacy Abuse

Rocky: "Let me quote Mark 16:16. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."

Sandy: "You're just trying to make me afraid. That is the fallacy of appeal to fear."

Rocky: "Actually, this is just talking about reality, like the friend who keeps his friend from hurting himself by giving a warning. I didn't say this to prove that Jesus is real. God has revealed Himself to you in many ways already. The problem is not an intellectual problem. It is a problem of your innermost mind, a problem of your heart that has stubbornly resisted acknowledging Him. Most of the time, when someone resists Him, it is because they don't want to yield their will to Him. What is your reason?"

Last updated: Aug, 2014
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Toons & Vids



Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Emotion / Emotional Appeal / For the Children

Logical Fallacy of Argument by Slogan / Simplistic Slogans

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Force / Argumentum Ad Baculum / Argument to the Cudgel / Appeal to the Stick / Argument by Vehemence

Logical Fallacy of Argument by Vehemence

Logical Fallacy of Argument to Veneration / Appeal to Respect

Logical Fallacy of Argumentum Ad Invidia / Appeal to Envy

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Anger / Appeal to Spite / Argumentum Ad Odium / Appeal to Hatred / Appeal to Loathing / Appeal to Outrage

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Spite

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Guilt / Appeal to Shame

Logical Argument of Appeal to Fear / Argumentum In Terrorem

Logical Fallacy of Pollyanna's Ploy, Unbridled Optimism

Logical Fallacy of Chicken Little's Fear and Pessimism

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Complexity

Logical Fallacy of Argument by Poetic Language

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Contempt

Logical Fallacy of Bluffing / Appeal to False Bravado / False Show of Confidence / Turning Up the Rhetoric / Bluster

Logical Fallacy of Hifalutin' Denunciations

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

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Pride / Argumentum Ad Superbiam / Appeal to Vanity

Logical Fallacy of Appeal to Humor / Appeal to Ridicule / Reductio Ad Ridiculum

Logical Fallacy of Argument by Emotive Language

Logical Fallacy of Emotion-Biased Decision-Making Phenomenon

Logical Fallacy of Loaded Language

Logical Fallacy of Magic Words

Logical Fallacy of Motivated Reasoning

Logical Fallacy of Guilt Induction Fallacy / Appeal to Guilt

Logical Fallacy of The Norm of Reciprocity / Reciprocity Norm



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