Monday, October 9, 2023

Circular Reasoning

 

Circular Reasoning: Vicious and Virtuous

Bodie Hodge, M.Sc., B.Sc., PEI

Biblical Authority Ministries, October 9, 2023

I received a question that I’ve heard many times because there are quite a few people who don’t realize the intricacies of circular reasoning. I hope this helps clarify, God bless.

Here was the original correspondence:  

 

Sent: Thursday, October 5, 2023 12:06 PM
Subject: Confound the Critics by B. Hodge
 

Good day Mr. Hodge-- 

I have recently completed reading and studying from your book. First--I must thank you and your co-authors for your time and efforts in this writing. Second--I find this book to be VERY helpful and resourceful. 

I for one strongly agree with the Creation concept as God presents in the book of Genesis.

I was baptized 4 years ago and have learn a lot since. It does baffle me to now see what I so badly missed for so very long. (I am 67 years young today:):):) 

In all of the reading of your book I only have one question--Or maybe one ask--Rebuttal to a comment I have heard from a couple of Evolutionist Theory friends-- 

"Circular Reasoning-- Or Circular logic

They are claiming that we are using the Bible to prove our Biblical point of creation theory. 

As I see this somewhat accurate I am left without a concrete response to offer them. Can you educate me on how to respond to this? 

Again--Thank you and your entire team for your many hours of service to God and his word.

Y'all are amazing--Keep up the GREAT work of the Lord. 

With great respect, 

God Bless, 

JB 

 

Response: 

Thank you for reaching out. This is a common claim by atheists back at presuppositional apologists regarding the existence of God and the truthfulness of His revealed Word. However, the atheist has failed to realize there are two forms of circular reasoning. The first is an arbitrary form (often called vicious circular reasoning). The second is non-arbitrary (called absolute circular reasoning or virtuous circular reasoning). The arbitrary form is fallacious. 

In logic, circular reasoning is unique because it is valid. It only becomes fallacious if it is not sound, which is due to the arbitrariness. For instance, if someone asks me where I live and I say, “With my wife”. They respond, “Okay then, where does your wife live?” and I say, “With me”. Again, they respond, “Well where do the two of you live?” I respond, “With our kids”.  “Well, where do your kids live?” “They live with us”. 

This is circular; but notice an interesting fact here—everything that I said was true. But it was arbitrary (not sound) because we never really got anywhere. This would be an example of a vicious circular argument. 

However, consider my dream the other night. I could tell someone all about it. But if they respond, prove it logically; I have no choice but to appeal to myself about my dream as the authority. I must start with myself to tell anyone about the dream; thus, I am appealing to myself, which is circular. The difference is that I am the only one in a position to know my dream (outside of God of course).[1] So, although this was circular, it is non-arbitrary and virtuous. 

It works the same way with God. If God is God, He can only reveal Himself by final and absolute authority—a virtuous circle. This is because God is the absolute authority on all matters—including the existence of Himself as well as the existence of logic, knowledge, truth, love, revelation, and so on.  For more on the two types of circular reasoning please see: 

https://answersingenesis.org/apologetics/circular-reasoning/

https://biblicalscienceinstitute.com/apologetics/bahnsen-on-circular-reasoning/ 

Even so, I can’t help but deal with the elephant in the room though. The evolutionary mindset (which comes out of naturalism and materialism) has no basis for the existence of logic, if their worldview is true. In fact, truth can’t exist in a materialistic and naturalistic worldview either since truth, logic, and knowledge are not material. So, for the evolutionary atheist to acknowledge logic, they must give up their professed worldview to do so. Hence, they are borrowing from a biblical worldview when they admit logic exists. 

I pray this helps, God bless, 

B. Hodge



[1] Consider Pharaoh or Nebuchadnezzar’s dream where God knew them and how to interpret them (Genesis 40-41 and Daniel 2 and 4).

Welcome

  Welcome to Biblical Authority Ministries !   As the name implies, this Christian ministry is focused on biblical authority.  Simply put,...