Just as a heads up the next few weeks of Definition Friday are going to be dealing with logical fallicies. I’ve been somewhat studying them in my spare time. There is a great resource here if your interested in reading more. I’ll spend a little time defining the fallicies and then give examples from how they’ve had an effect on my life. Anyway on with the show!
Special pleading, sometimes referred to as “moving the goalposts”, is when one puts out a specific set of rules, or premises that apply to everything inside a set and then saying that something inside that same set has a different set of rules. A good real world example of this is nepotism. A company has a set of standards that every applicant must go through in order to be hired. The company’s owner wants his son to work at the company even though he isn’t qualified. The owner tells HR to put him in the job anyway, circumventing the rule that applies to everyone.
Bringing this back around to my atheism, I never realized how much special pleading is used in defense of god. The first that comes to mind is “killing people is wrong, unless god does it. Then it’s ok because it’s his will.” I’ve heard people say that “he created us so he can destroy us.” Really? I created my son does that make it ok for me to kill him? Me thinks no. What kind of mental gymnastics did I go through to think that this was in anyway ok?
I’ve recently come across a bunch of theist vs atheist debates on the youtubes. One of the arguments that I hear time and time again is what’s know as the Kalam Cosmological Argument. In a nut shell it states that everything that has a beginning has a cause, the universe has a beginning, therefor the universe has a cause…which must be god. The first time I heard this argument I was lead to follow it. It seemed to make sense. Then I thought, well if the universe had to have a cause, and that cause was god, what caused god. It leads to an infinite regress of “well then who created that?”
Typically the defense that I hear back is where this logical fallacy comes into play. It goes something to the effect of “well god lives out of space and time so this doesn’t apply to him.” There is the special pleading. You can’t have a set of constants and then say that these constants don’t apply to something within that set.