Reasoning with Faith, Religion, and Atheism…Reductive Reasoning (Part 4)

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Reductive Reasoning

Reductio ad absurdum (Latin: “reduction to the absurd“) is a form of argument in which a proposition is proven or disproven by following it sequentially to an absurd result.  Another name for this (reductive reasoning) is Proof by Contradiction (which is also called indirect proof), where a proposition is proven true by proving that it is impossible for it to be false.  In simplistic logical form it would look like this:

  • If A being false implies that B must also be false and it is known that B is true, then A cannot be false and therefore A is true.

Explanation of Reductio ad absurdum: 

Reductive Reasoning is really the indirect argument of proving a thing by contradiction.  This is important to know because one of the fundamental rules of logic is the law of non-contradiction.  It states that two contradictory(opposite) statements cannot both be true at the same time.  Reductive reasoning is most useful when dealing with a black-white scenario or a scenario of few choices (preferably two).  Because the proof of the other hinges on the hypocrisy of contradiction of the other.  In other words, in order to verify or falsify the proposition one must resort to logic as a weapon, an act which would be considered logically incoherent.  Here are some examples demonstrating contradiction by proof and using reductive reasoning:

Example 1:

Father:  Where did you go after School Today?

Son: I went to the public library to work on a project.  I’ll probably have to go back tomorrow to finish the project.

Father:  I find that hard to believe, considering the public library has been closed due to renovations all week.  Now do you want to tell where you really were?

Conclusion:  It is impossible to be both studying at the library when it is closed.

*Not the greatest example, but I tried. 

Example 2: (A Philosophical approach to basic theology).

These were posted in response to atheist & agnostics.  So, for a Christian, the contradictions are built into his philosophy, -but for the Atheist/Agnostic they are assumed to be living in contradictory philosophy.  (Only picked out the two that made the most sense and was most applicable to the conversation.)

A: God is unknowable. The contradiction: To know God is unknowable you would have to know everything. Therefore you would be God. Thus proving yourself wrong.

B: There are no absolutes. The contradiction: The statement ‘There are no absolutes’ is said absolutely making the statement self-defeating.

Example 3: (An Apologetics Argument as presented by The Analytical Philosopher)

An Argumentative Proof that Existence is a Great Making Property.

1. Suppose it is false that existence is a GMP.

2. Then existence is either neutral or it is lesser-making.

3. Existence isn’t neutral.

4. So existence is lesser-making.

5. So existence is a property that is better to lack than have.

6. But, very clearly, (5) is false.

So we must reject our assumption. Hence:

7. Existence is a Great-Making-Property (GMP).

Now here are is how reductive reasoning in proof by contradiction applies to Faith, Religion, and Atheism.

Christian Attempt of Reductive Reasoning for the Existence of God

Assume by contradiction that God is not real. Then God does not exist. Then the Bible is false. Then the Bible is not real. Then the Bible does not exist. This is a contradiction since the Bible clearly exists. So, therefore God exist and God is real.


Atheist Attempt of Reductive Reasoning to that God does not Exist

1) Nothing can exist without purpose. Anything that exists must have to exist, or it wouldn’t.
2) An absolute God exists
3) There can be no higher order than an absolute god by definition of absolute.
4) There must be a reason for the absolute God to exist by #1.
5) There must be a higher order than the absolute God due to the existence of a reason for its existence.
6) Contradiction between 5 and 3.
7) An absolute God doesn’t exist by contradiction.

Now the reason why I think reductive reasoning is vital to any critical thinking person, is because it is fundamental in the thought process of logic.  And personally it’s kind of how I see and interpret the Bible, Faith, Religion and God.  I remember when I first learned about logic in my upper level courses in college. My professor gave the example of if you say something is Perfect, how many flaws or errors does it need to no longer be deemed Perfect?  And to what degree of impact does the flaw or error have to be for the object to no longer be deemed Perfect?  –And the answer relies in reductive reasoning.  And the law of Non-Contradiction…….No something can’t be perfect and still have a flaw no matter how many, how few, how small, or how irrelevant the impact of the flaw is.

So I guess I’m begging the question again of why I started the blog and going a little deeper into the topic!  Can Christianity still be true if it is found the Bible is imperfect and flawed?  Can the bible still be perfect and flawed at the same time and still be the inspired word of God.

And, if a man holds this philosophy and lives in contradiction to it, why do they still keep it?

About M. Rodriguez

When I first received Christ salvation, I made it a priority to read the whole bible and I did. But it was the Bible that made me question my faith. For I found it flawed and lacking. Due to this I launched a personal inquiry/investigation into my faith, and ultimately realized that the Christian God of the Bible was indeed man-made. Now I Blog about those findings and life after Christ.
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13 Responses to Reasoning with Faith, Religion, and Atheism…Reductive Reasoning (Part 4)

  1. My mind is not one that understand logic easily. I don’t mean in a ‘duh, I’m blond’ kind of way; I mean I genuinely don’t always clearly comprehend how one step follows another. That said, I do think that Christianity can be true (can; not necessarily is) given that Bible is imperfect. I’ve never embraced the perfection of the Bible so it’s not an issue for me.

    Great post, by the way.


  2. plasticpatrick says:

    The Bible itself never claims to be perfect or flawless. This is a doctrine that has been derived. The verse that this is derived from primarily is 2 Timothy 3:16. Go look at it. It is not claiming the Bible is perfect. Scripture is useful for teaching, reproof, correction, training, just like any high school math book, which generally aren’t perfect. The math book teaches about math, the Bible teaches about God, love and how we should live our lives. Just because a math book is wrong doesn’t mean that math is wrong.

    • M. Rodriguez says:

      I have studied this topic more than you know.

      Actually this doctrine has been around since the early starts of christianity. It was initially not applied to all the bible, but only the Old Testament septugaint. There were a few early church fathers, that considered the gospels inerrant/inspired, but inerrancy toward the N.T. writings did become a taught doctrine until the 4th century.

      • M. Rodriguez says:

        Early History of Biblical Inerrancy…it was with Augustine of hippo that inerrancy began to be a regulary taught doctrine.

        Just to give you an idea I have an entire blog page dedicate to this topic. Maybe you should check it out.

        And yes I am very familar with 2 Timothy 3:16-17…I did an entire post on it.

        Now just to give you an idea, the KJV/ NKJV use the word inspired. But according to other translation, the better greek transliteration is “God-Breathed.” Some say take this believe that these are the very words that god breathed. So that means they are more than inspired and dictated. However that is just one interpretation of it.

        However based off of many scholars, this is where the general idea of inerrancy starts, but this is not the only arguement. There are more. First some of the deductive arguments:

        “The Bible is inspired, but is it inerrant, that is without errors? The reason for a positive answer is simple: The Bible is the Word of God, and God cannot err; therefore, the Bible cannot err. To deny the inerrancy of the Bible one must either affirm that God can err or else that the Bible is not the Word of God.” (Norman Giesler )

        That since God is perfect, it is completely rational and reasonable to assume he could give us an inspired and perfect bible.

        Secondly there are many scriptual and side arguements which I address in this post. I Actually go through both sides of the argument in this post.

        ■“The Words of the Lord are Flawless” – Psalms 12:6
        ■“Your Word, O Lord, is eternal, it stands firm” – Psalms 119:89
        ■“Every word of God is flawless, he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” – Proverbs 30:5
        ■“God—His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is pure.” – 2 Samuel 22:31
        ■“No prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” – 2 Peter 1:21

        As one person put it…”I also asserted that if Scripture is not inerrant, it cannot be accepted as reliable and authoritative, because there no longer exists any basis for that authority. It is to be expected that such logic is denied by those who deny inerrancy….The guiding principle of inerrantists with regard to Scripture is “False in one, false in all.”” -(From Dave’s Theology Blog)

        *I’ve done the full comprehensive study, maybe you should too.

    • M. Rodriguez says:

      Oh lastly, just to let you know, I majored in Mathematics in college. 🙂 And I can tell you in math, it builds upon itself. If the fundamental foundation of math is not true than the whole foundation of not just math, but all science fails.

      So like in my conclusion, if the foundation of christianity fails, how can the rest stand?

      • M. Rodriguez says:

        Stay Thirsty My Friend…

      • plasticpatrick says:

        I will do some posts of this myself and get back to you when they are done, but for now:
        Any typical Christian believes:
        I am made by God -> God made me in his “image” -> I am flawed
        I am “inspired” by God in that his actions should inspire my actions -> I am flawed
        Not everything that is inspired by God or made by God is perfect, myself being a prime example.

        When people say “The Word of God” or ” The Words of God” = “The Bible”, I believe they are in error. When people talk about the “Words of plasticpatrick”, it better be a direct quote or they are not being entirely correct. Even the gospels which in theory are the words of Christ don’t agree because nobody remembers it the same way. It doesn’t mean it isn’t a reliable record, it just means that it is potentially fallible in factual detail.

        These verses are talking about the actual words of God which stand forever, are perfect, etc. People have extended that to mean the whole Bible. How could a verse in Samuel be talking about Matthew? They are separated by several hundred years, so I don’t believe the verse in Samuel can apply to something he didn’t know about unless it is a prophecy, which I don’t believe this passage can be interpreted to.

        I understand where you are coming from on the inerrancy issue. I was raised with this doctrine as well but as a believer, you need to prove things for yourself. Scholars and commentators are fine, but they are just derivatives of the Bible. I’m sure Augustine was wrong about other things.

        The foundation of Christianity is Christ, not the Bible. The Bible is important and it should be read and studied daily if you consider yourself a follower of Christ, but it isn’t God. Some people are guilty of making it an idol in itself. It only points to God, a historical reliable record.

        The real difficulty I have with many of the scholarly writings and systematic theology is that the end result separates God from his person-hood and from humanity and reduces him to a theory.

        It is true, that many of these writers were totally inspired and had amazing faith, but they arrived there through a relationship with God, not exclusively studying other people’s writings.

        Jesus constantly attacked this type of justified legalism. I too, believe you can make a case for the theory of God, etc. based on nature but at some stage you have to make a leap of faith to accept the person of God, as in a specific god or interpretation of him/her/it.

        If you are married or in a relationship, your partner wants more than just the things you do, they want your heart. God is no different. He wants your heart. That is at the core of Jesus’ message.

      • M. Rodriguez says:

        I am made by God -> God made me in his “image” -> I am flawed
        I am “inspired” by God in that his actions should inspire my actions -> I am flawed

        I have to say this syllogism is not the most intelligable. This leaves the blatant question of if God is perfect, should he still be considered perfect if he created a flawed creature?

        I think maybe you should consider my Christian-Theist Challenge.

        The foundation of Christianity is Christ, not the Bible.

        I would consider this a true statement, but how do you know all about christ. What does your information and knowledge of christ come from? u see where I am going here. If our guide book is deeply flawed, how do we know it won’t lead us astray.

        How can I ever trust the person-hood of christ and his deistic qualities, if the guidebook that tells me all about him is deeply flawed.

        And yes, we could say holy spirit or our expierence with God and christ, but how do we even know that not emotions or simply just group think?

      • plasticpatrick says:

        “This leaves the blatant question of if God is perfect, should he still be considered perfect if he created a flawed creature?”
        The short answer is I don’t know but it stands to reason that one has to be a higher degree than your creation. You could always make something worse, but not better. That leaves the question of what would be God’s motivation to make such a flawed creature? The short answer is I don’t know but I do know that it leaves freedom of choice open even if it is a clouded choice. I believe God made us in the way that he did to allow us to choose him over the alternatives. You might call it love.

        How can you trust a flawed guide book? Do you know any flawless source of knowledge that has the same sort of breadth of the Bible? You trust in something despite its flaws because on balance of probability it is more likely to be right than wrong. In order for it to “lead you astray” it would need to be written with ill intent, which if you believed that, it would disqualify it as a potential source of truth for you. For me, it just needs to stand up to the same historical veracity that we would expect of any other book of its time. If it is a reasonable account of the facts, such as any unbiased newspaper might produce, then why is there need to treat it with suspicion?

        Science too is flawed, yet we generally believe that what it produces is valid. Some people say that science is better because it has a self correcting tendency. However, you have to recognize you are not comparing like with like as historical documents are not amended. Nobody talks about “fixing” Josephus or Plato but nobody views them with suspicion in the same way that the Bible attracts suspicion from people that claim it was written to control people or whatever.

        How can you make any decision free of emotion? People claim to make emotionless decisions all the time but it doesn’t really happen that way. For example: all male stock traders is a bad idea because the testosterone makes them make foolish trades. In bull or bear markets they all start making the same type of trades and it turns into herd behavior. Even your blog reflects the emotion of the decision to leave your faith: The BitterSweet End could also be an apt title to a poem to your ex.

  3. Pingback: Reasoning with Faith, Religion, and Atheism…Introduction to Reasoning (Part 1) | The BitterSweet End

  4. Pingback: To PlasticPatrick | The BitterSweet End

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