Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Personal Negation Fallacy

On more than one occasion I have had someone respond to an argument or position with simply, "I don't like that." That seems to be popular in this day and age, especially in regards to religion. A person might say, "I can't believe in a God like that," or, "I don't like that God would do such a thing." From this, the person concludes that the thing must be false.

The problem is that merely negating something does not automatically make it not true. Let me put it this way: a person may not like a 55 mph speed limit and want to drive 70 mph, but that isn't going to stop a policeman from pulling them over for speeding. Simply not liking the speed limit did not magically make the speed limit dilemma disappear, or make it conform to what the person desired. Reality did not suddenly transform to the person's personal opinion.

In like manner, this same standard can be applied to negations within faith. Saying "I don't like the idea of a God who sends people to hell" does not suddenly mean that God must not send people to hell. Saying "I prefer a God who does this" does not suddenly make it so that God does as you desire. Reality does not conform to your personal whims and desires, and sooner or later - whether it's when the policeman clocks your speed, or you appear before God on the day of judgment - you will have to answer to reality.