The First Logical Fallacy: Circumstantial Argumentum Ad Deum

crush-serpentWhen we consider that Christ is the Logic, Reason, Wisdom, and Truth of God, it sheds light on our understanding of certain passages of Scripture that we might otherwise have passed over cavalierly. For instance, in the case of the temptation of our parents in the garden, it is easy to miss the fact that Genesis 3 contains the first logical fallacy recorded in Scripture. Contextually, remember, God has told Adam and Eve that on the day that they eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil they would surely die. The proposition, of course, is de facto true, for God is Truth. There is, therefore, no way for it to be other than truth. Furthermore, consider the fact that God has created all things and, consequently, has determined their causal relations. It is impossible, therefore, for God’s Word to be anything but True. He is Truth, and He is the Creator of all things; therefore, if He states “If x, then y,” it is necessarily the case that “If x, then y.”

After Eve’s mishandling of God’s Word [cf. Gen 3:2-3], however, note that the serpent denies the Word of God and states the following:

“You will not surely die.For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [Gen 3:4b-5]

The serpent’s argument is a circumstantial ad deum fallacy. This fallacy occurs when an individual denies the veracity of his opponent’s assertion on the grounds that his opponent is only making the assertion out of self-interest. More concretely, the serpent denied that God’s Word was true and his reason for doing so was his claim that God wanted to keep godhood, which would otherwise be obtained via eating the fruit, to Himself. In essence, he stated: God only told you you would die because He wants to selfishly hoard godhood to Himself.

Note, moreover, that in addition to arguing fallaciously the serpent also presents God as having attributes other than those which Adam and Eve had come to understand by God’s own revelation to them. In Genesis 1:26-30, we read:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image,
 in the image of God he created him;
 male and female he created them.


And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

Whereas the serpent says God does not want man to be like him, God declares that He has made man in His image. Whereas the serpent says God is withholding some good food from them, God tells man “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” Whereas the serpent claims that God is withholding some good from man, God’s words to Adam and Eve are called a “blessing.” God has already declared His Word to the original couple, revealing to them that He is their Almighty, Omnipotent, Holy, and Wholly Benevolent, and Just Creator. He has told them that they are His own creatures, made in His image, given all good things by Him, from whom He has withheld no good thing.

Soli Deo Gloria

-h.

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