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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Loftus Logic (Part 1)

This is the beginning of a new series of tactics I'll be using to analyze the strength and validity of Loftus' arguments. John, our title subject, thinks nothing less of himself than a philosopher. Not only that, John considers his writings and ideas to be major contributions to the field of religious philosophy.

John's credentials amount to three master's degrees (an impressive feat, no doubt), but they are nonetheless irrelevant to whether or not John actually qualifies for having a doctorate-level understanding of his subject matter, which John seems to claim he has on the basis of these master degrees.

In giving John the benefit of the doubt, we'll suppose that John is a philosopher who can hold his own. Yes, on many on the many instances we've cited before it has been shown not to be the case. But we will temporarily assume that no such instances exist, or have been taken out of context. In this series, we will employ a set of methodologies using the tools and resources John least expects of us, most of which come out of a very important philosophical discipline.


There is no more of an effective manner to demonstrate John's grasp of a field in which he either professes to apply quite extensively in his arguments than to test his materials against the basic and bare minimum principles of logic. For the sake of categorization, I may decide to make other "series" evaluating the depth of Loftus' arguments when they apply to other philosophical disciplines such as ethics. For now, we will just cover a few examples of where John fails to live up to a logical and reasoned mindset. Some minor but important issues we will need to clarify before we get going:

Statements: "There is a purple whale in my backyard that eats chickens."

- This can either be true or false.

Arguments: Collections of statements. Hence:

- Arguments are not of true or false value because the statements which make up arguments are either true or false in and of themselves. The coherency of the statements and their relation to each other either lead to validity or invalidity. A completely valid argument (one in which all statements are true and guarantee the conclusion that follows) becomes a sound argument.

We will begin this series with some brief information on the informal fallacies often committed when trying to make arguments. I'll start by using a fairly recent example and how perfect it is in showing how invalid and non-sequitir John's argumentation really is. For the second time on this blog, we'll use John's article God, Sex, and the Orgasm as a "case study":

Logical Fallacy #1 - Equivocation

Definition: Equivocation is a fallacy because it creates ambiguity. It refers the "double-meaning""of a particular word even when that second meaning does not apply directly to the word itself, or the context in which the word is being used.

Example(s): "The power of the orgasm is so strong it motivates some married people into infidelity; some men to rape women; some Catholic priests to direct these urges toward molesting children..."

Being a Catholic priest does not by necessity mean that you go out and molest children. In fact, why can't this example be used in regards to other religions? That's only because Catholic priests have been the ones most commonly identified in our culture for gaining notoriety for child molestation. But in this case it is inappropriate and unwarranted, because John could just as well have said "The power of the orgasm is so strong it motivates...some (child molesters/rapists, etc.) to direct these urges toward molesting children..." which would have been more to the point and indeed, supportable. Neither Catholic priests nor child rapists are motivated solely through orgasm, and it may be based entirely a control factor, such as deriving pleasure from a moment in time in which they are dominating someone or something that lacks basic autonomy and a willpower to resist their advances.

"So why did God make our sex drive so strong? Why didn't he make the the orgasm less pleasurable? The pleasure of the orgasm is just too strong as it is. We all know this. With an evolutionary hypothesis this is what we'd expect to find, for our sex drive is good for the survival of our species. But under a theistic hypothesis it makes no sense."

Here is a perfect example of where John should know better. Had something been used by a creationist and it went along the lines of comparing evolution with theism, John would have ridiculed it for confusing matters of dichotomy. Theism and evolution are completely different categories and trains of thought. Evolution by itself does not imply atheism, and many atheists (including John) would argue this. Comparing the two does not provide for a consistent logical formula.

Fallacy # 2 - False Dilemma

Definition: The positing of a premise that sweeps away any other possible alternatives. Considers the situation at hand to be a matter of "either X or Y, but nothing in between." Basically the foundation for all extremist and black-and-white thinking.

Example: "If the pleasure of the orgasm was reduced there would be fewer sex crimes, and less infidelity. Or, the orgasm could've been created so as not to be pleasurable at all. God could've made the sex drive to be something of an instinct where we only want to do it when we want children, and then also created our desire to have children periodically. If this is what God had done instead, then with divine commands to populate the world, heterosexual people would only have sex for the purpose of bearing children in fulfillment of his commands, and that's it."

Sadly enough, this is highly inadequate reasoning.

1) First, John infamously assumes that "Without X, there would be less Y" without taking into consideration various other variables which may contribute to sex-related crimes.

2)Also consider that if the orgasm drives many to commit sex crimes, wouldn't the orgasm be some sort of instinctual drive towards sex-fulfillment? Sex crimes are often a means of gaining control based on psychological studies of many serial rapists. Having sex is not the main motive for going out and raping another individual.

3) If the orgasm was made to have no pleasurable incentive, then why create the "orgasm" to begin with? Even in such an implausible hypothetical world, without some sort of incentive the "drive" itself would be totally useless and hence, not a drive of any sort. Certainly not one which could be used for procreation.

4) John also argues that God could have created a world in which heterosexuals would only have sex for breeding purposes. But why stop there? Why would God allow the existence of homosexuals if orgasm and sexual desire only led to reproduction? Homosexuals would never have the desire for sex, thus homosexuals would be non-existent (therefore, the use of the prefix "hetero" would be unnecessary).

That's all for today folks. Stay tuned for more additions. ;)


  1. Are you sure John Loftus successfully completed graduate level work in Philosophy?

  2. No idea. Contacting the college where he got his supposed degrees would help to verify this. But when he dismisses the academic credibility of those who point out the errors in his reasoning, I'd say it's very suspect. I simply contend that no professional philosopher would commit to such fallacious logic and then disregard it openly.

  3. John has stated that he dropped out of the Ph.D program he was in, although it is not clear why.

    In WIBA he clearly states that he has "the equivalent of a Ph.D", which is NOT THE CASE since even three Masters degrees do not equal a Ph.D.

    He would have had to write a peer reviewed, and faculty approved thesis...involving at least some degree of original qualify for that, at least at a nationally accredited University.


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