The Ultimate Apologetics DVD series by Jason Lisle is one of my favorites. I am able to spot the fallacies Jason teaches about when reading materials of various sources. I also like how he stresses that it is not about the "evidence" but about the presuppositions used to interpret the evidence. However, in Ken Ham's lectures I question some of his logic. I am surprised Jason hasn't caught this. Please help me understand where I may be wrong on this. Ken says, "If there was a global flood, we would expect to find dead things buried in rock layers all over the earth, and we do find dead things buried in rock layers all over the earth. The evidence is crying out to us that there was a global flood." While I do believe God's Word when it says that there was a global flood and AiG saying that this explains the fossils, doesn't Ken's reasoning represent examples of the logical fallacies: affirming the consequent and reification?

– M.C., USA


Dear M.C.,

Thanks for your question.

The Ultimate Apologetics DVD series by Jason Lisle is one of my favorites.

I am glad you like the DVD series. I would recommend everyone watch this series because it helps people defend their faith, starting from God’s Word. The main focus of the series is people’s presuppositions (starting points). All people use their starting points to interpret the way they see things. When two people with different starting points debate a topic, the best method of winning the debate is to “attack” the opponent’s presuppositions rather than the evidence being used.

For example, the best way to win against Christians is to get them to agree not to use the Bible. Once a Christian stops using the Bible, the other side has already won because a Christian’s starting point should be God’s Word. An atheist’s starting point is that there is no God, and he interprets the world based on that presupposition.

I am able to spot the fallacies Jason teaches about when reading materials of various sources. I also like how he stresses that it is not about the "evidence" but about the presuppositions used to interpret the evidence.

I also recommend you read our Logical Fallacies web series by Dr. Jason Lisle, as this series is devoted to pointing out logical fallacies. Furthermore, a book based on this web series has been developed—check out Discerning the Truth. This book has been enhanced with more examples and in-depth information. I have personally used this book in a small group I teach, and we had some great discussions.

However, in Ken Ham's lectures I question some of his logic. I am surprised Jason hasn't caught this. Please help me understand where I may be wrong on this. Ken says, "If there was a global flood, we would expect to find dead things buried in rock layers all over the earth, and we do find dead things buried in rock layers all over the earth. The evidence is crying out to us that there was a global flood." While I do believe God's Word when it says that there was a global flood and AiG saying that this explains the fossils, doesn't Ken's reasoning represent examples of the logical fallacies: affirming the consequent and reification?

The tools I mentioned above can be great to help you find logical fallacies, and I am encouraged you are not only learning this information but also applying it. However, as you may have realized, some of the logical fallacies are not so black and white, and learning how to apply the fallacies in real life situations takes time.

First, we will consider the fallacy of affirming the consequent. This formal fallacy occurs when someone uses the consequent of a condition to affirm the condition. It happens in this form:

  1. If p, then q.
  2. q.
  3. Therefore p.

Here is an example:

  1. If I am flying, I am in the air.
  2. I am in the air.
  3. Therefore, I am flying.

However, flying is not the only condition of my being in the air. Maybe I am simply jumping up and down, or maybe a giant picked me up and threw me in the air. Okay, that last example is a stretch, but it conveys the general idea behind this fallacy. Now if we apply this to what Ken Ham said, the argument would look like the following, right?

  1. If there was a global flood, then there would be lots of fossils.
  2. There are lots of fossils.
  3. Therefore, there was a global flood.

Actually, Ken Ham did not say the third statement. He said only the first and second statements. If he did go on to say the third statement, he would be affirming the consequent. The next statement by Ken Ham, “The evidence is crying out to us that there was a global flood,” is not a concluding statement; he was not using the consequent of the global flood to prove there was a global flood. The purpose of his statements was to show the consistency of God’s Word when we relate it to the world.

Furthermore, we must remember that a Christian’s presupposition is God’s Word. Scripture states the reality of a global flood. The global flood—from a Christian perspective—is not a condition but a necessary starting point. Yes, the statement was in the form of a condition, but we should consider the fact that Ken Ham was not debating but lecturing.

When lecturing, people tend to use various methods of communication to get their points across and make the audience think about what is being said. In an official debate, the debaters make formal statements, but in a lecture-type setting, we can expect communication devices like rhetorical questions, allegories, and even reification.

Reification is making something abstract into something concrete—such as when Ken Ham stated that “the evidence is crying out.” We all know evidence does not literally cry out. However, remember that allegorical or poetic language is sometimes used in lectures as a form of communication with the audience in order to emphasize certain points. Figures of speech like this are even used in historical narrative sections of Scripture. For example, God said to Cain, “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10). Obviously, the blood doesn’t cry, but this type of figurative language is often used in communication.

In other words, Ken Ham’s statement simply emphasized the fact that there are many fossils, which is consistent with a global flood. If there really was a global flood, what would you find? Fossils—many fossils! This was not a concluding sentence; it was simply used for emphasis. Of course, if Ken Ham were debating, the style of the way he presented his points would be changed.

The key item we need to recognize when applying these logical fallacies in the real world is that they are mainly applied in formal debates and formal writing. Moreover, if we applied these fallacies like reification to everyday language, we would see people making many “logical fallacies,” and communication would become boring and dull. Nonetheless, we should still avoid allegorical or poetic language when making concluding statements about debatable topics—just to make sure we are clearly explaining our point.

I hope this helps clear up your question.

Sincerely,

Jeremy Ham

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