Exposing PseudoAstronomy

November 11, 2009

Logical Fallacies: Argument from Final Consequences


Introduction

Continuing my series on logical fallacies, this post will address the fallacy of the Argument from Final Consequences.

What is the “Argument from Final Consequences?”

The “Argument from Final Consequences” fallacy can effectively be stated as: “Something exists, therefore [this] caused it.” In other words, it confuses cause and effect, starting with an effect and then assuming a cause.

Main Example from Creationism

One of the best astronomy/physics-related examples of this logical fallacy from Creationism (and Intelligent Design) proponents is the apparent fine-tuning of the universe. Since I have addressed this argument in detail in a previous post, the very short argument goes as follows: “In order for us to exist, the universe has to be very fine-tuned in order for that to happen, therefore God (or an “Intelligence”) was the one that created it.”

If we deconstruct that argument, we have an observation and conclusion of an effect — the universe must be fine-tuned for us to exist here — and then we have the cause — God did it. In other words, we have the effect placed before the cause in the argument, or an Argument from Final Consequences logical fallacy.

A more honest ay of addressing this situation is to observe that we exist the way we do because of the way the universe is. We have the cause — the universe is the way it is — and the effect — we exist as we do to take advantage of the physical laws of the universe that we inhabit. Saying that we could not exist if the universe were different is probably true, but that does not mean that no type nor form of life could exist, just our particular kind of life.

Final Thoughts

The Argument from Final Consequences is a little harder to spot in discussions because you generally have to pause, deconstruct the argument, and really look at what they’re claiming to be the cause and effect to determine if they are using the effect to justify the cause.

3 Comments »

  1. Douglas Adams has a bit about an intelligent puddle amazed that the depression in ground was just the perfect size for it and it must have been created by a kind loving god. As time goes by, half the puddle dries up. And lo the depression is still the perfect size for it. Yet further proof of the hand of the creator.

    An all powerful god could have created intelligent life that survived on hard radiation and hard vacuum.

    Comment by mindmetoo — November 11, 2009 @ 6:27 am | Reply

  2. Any chance we can have a greater variety of examples to illustrate these “fallacy” catagories other than Creationists? Or is a change of Blog title in order?

    Comment by Shaine — November 26, 2009 @ 5:06 am | Reply

    • I realize that many of my examples are from creationists. Unfortunately, other than the 2012 stuff, that has been what I’ve written most about, mainly because many of their arguments are fairly easy to pick apart. For this entire Logical Fallacies series, before I address the fallacy, I go through a list in my head of the topics that I have discussed in this blog so far: 2012, Planet X, young-Earth creationists, Intelligent Design, or Flat Earthers. Then I think of the topics that I haven’t discussed yet, but are still applicable: UFOs, astrology, Richard Hoagland’s many claims, pareidolia issues in astronomy, and a few others.

      For the first two, 2012 and Planet X, most of the fallacious stuff can simply be summarized by, “The logical fallacy is they made $–t up.” That’s not really a formal fallacy. For UFOs, the main two fallacies are the jumping to conclusions and argument ad populum, the latter of which I have not yet addressed. Astrology is mainly correlation does not imply causation. And for the others, it’s generally the same as the 2012 and Planet X.

      Only, really, does the YEC group consistently commit the greatest variety of fallacies, which is why I have used those examples the most. In addition, I have also given an hour-long lecture of YEC astronomical claims that concludes in a run-down of the fallacies that there were, and so it is with what I am most familiar and already have material prepared.

      This blog is not specifically attacking YEC claims. The purpose is all bad astronomy that’s out there. It just happens to be that, as far as fallacious logic is concerned, young-Earth creationists are among the broadest equal-opportunity committers.

      Comment by astrostu206265 — November 26, 2009 @ 8:29 am | Reply


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