Logical Fallacies: Accident

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters, where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’m going to take another look at a logical fallacy tonight and it will be the fallacy of accident. No. It doesn’t mean just making a mistake in your reasoning, though you shouldn’t do that.

We all make generalizations at times. I’m not saying that’s wrong. I don’t really know much of a way that we can avoid it. The problem with the fallacy of accident is that it takes a general statement and treats it as if there could be no exceptions whatsoever to that statement.

A good example of this in biblical studies is the book of Proverbs. We all know of people who have said that the book of Proverbs says X, and they did X, but it did not happen. For instance, not everyone who does good has a long life. Proverbs however are not meant to be ironclad statements of reality that always follows. They are general principles that tend to lead to a desired result. Chances are, if you live life the way you ought to, you will live a longer life.

This is often the case with moral dilemmas. What do you do about the Nazis who come to your door and ask you if you have any Jews? Generally, we would agree that you should tell people the truth. However, this is a case where I would argue that the Nazis do not deserve the truth and it is justified to lie to them. You could lie to them while still believing in the ninth commandment since you realize a valid exception to the rules.

This is another one that skeptics also have a problem with, especially when it comes to miracles. We are told that the laws of nature have no exceptions whatsoever to them. If that is the case, then there can be no miracles. We’ve seen hundreds of cases after all where people die and they stay dead. Why should we believe that a miracle has taken place?

The Christian arguing for the resurrection however is not arguing against the principle that dead people come back to life by natural means. That would be pretty silly. They in fact agree with the principle. If they did not, it would not make a resurrection so incredible. It would be a case of “Well yeah. That guy came back from the dead. It happens every now and then. So what?” Death itself has to be a constant reality for the resurrection to be considered a miracle.

What the Christian is saying that all things being equal, dead people do stay dead, but in the case of Jesus, things are not equal. There is an outside agent interfering that brings about the resurrection. You don’t have to start with the outside agent, namely God. You can argue that Jesus was raised and then from that point determine that there must have been an outside agent and then establish the identity of said agent.

The one claiming there are no exceptions to dead people staying dead is making an a priori judgment. It could be the case that no miracles have occurred, but it is hardly fair to the evidence to assume this prior and then look back and when you see what could be an event that is miraculous, throw it out ad hoc.

Be wary of generalizations. They are not always absolute rules.

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