Logical Fallacies Your Kids Need to Know

In discussions about any number of topics, people often resort to using logical fallacies in an attempt to prove their point. These fallacies appear logical on the surface, but are actually based on poor logic. As a result, the arguments often collapse under the questioning of someone aware of logical fallacies. 

Your children may be exposed to logical fallacies used by people trying to undermine God as well as Christians trying to convince them to obey God. It is not necessary for Christians to use logical fallacies as God is Truth. Teaching your kids about logical fallacies can help them avoid false teaching, attempts to convince them to deny God and other things that could weaken or destroy their faith.

It is crucial that you avoid using logical fallacies in your teaching of the Bible to your kids. Often a little research or re-wording a few sentences can remove the most common logical fallacies used by Christians and actually make your Bible lesson or points stronger as a result.

Below are some of the more commonly used logical fallacies. There are many more you can access online if you wish to explore this topic in more depth.

  • Fact, Inference or Opinion. While technically not a logical fallacy, it can confuse children in a similar fashion. Authors and speakers may state or imply something as if it were a fact, when it is actually their opinion. Follow up questions can often expose a fact or inference as an opinion. Inferences and opinions can be correct, but it is important to understand whether or not there are actual facts that support or undermine them.
  • Existence on the internet equates to verifiable truth. While this also falls under other logical fallacies, it is an important dynamic for many young people. They often get much of their information online. They have come to believe if a statement or source is listed on a search engine it is a reliable source of truth. In reality, anything found online must go through the same filters for truth as information obtained from other sources.
  • Correlation equals causation. This is the assumption that because two things are often found in correlation to one another that one causes the other. This may or may not actually be true and requires further scrutiny to assess causation. Example: Christianity causes mental illnesses. The logical fallacy would assume there is something about Christianity that causes mental illness because a large number of Christians have a self reported mental illness. There could be any number of reasons for the cause of mental illnesses found among Christians.
  • False dilemma. This assumes that the extremes of an issue are the only options. It is often used to portray Christianity as extremist. Example: The Bible says lying is sinful. The false dilemma would assume that therefore Christians believe everyone who tells a lie is going to Hell. This is ignoring the possibility of repentance, forgiveness and other Christian beliefs.
  • Argument from authority. This fallacy quotes an “expert” who may or may not actually know the truth. This could be anything from a secular scientist, to a famous preacher and even taking Bible scriptures out of context. There is also a possibility that what the “expert” said surrounding the quote actually helped to clarify that the speaker believed the exact opposite of the quote.
  • Red herring. This logical fallacy is usually used by someone in the course of an argument, often when they appear to be losing. It is a statement thrown out to distract the opponent and change the topic of the argument. 
  • Loaded question. This logical fallacy makes use of a question in which any answer will make the person giving the answer look foolish. It is often asked not because the person actually wants an answer to their question, but because they want their opponent to appear in a negative light. For example, if someone asked, “Where exactly is Heaven?”, any answer would be problematic. Attempting to give an exact location would cause scorn, because there is no way to prove you are correct. Likewise, responding “I don’t know” makes it appear there is not a Heaven because you cannot identify its location.
  • Possibility fallacy. This fallacy argues that because something could possibly happen, it will probably happen. This can be used for example to make people feel threatened by God in some way. God struck Annanias dead for lying, therefore he will probably strike Bob dead if he is lying, too. God may or may not give everyone the same earthly consequences for disobedience.
  • Ad hominem. In this logical fallacy, a person discounts what is said based on the person rather than analyzing what was actually said. This often takes the form of disparaging the person. Example: “Well of course the Apostles confirmed the resurrection. They had an ulterior motive.”
  • Bandwagon. This assumes that if the majority of people believe something to be true, then it must indeed be true. The truth may actually rest with the minority.
  • Either-Or. In this fallacy, a person presents two unacceptable options as if they are the only possible options. In reality, there may be numerous possible options that are better for one or both parties.
  • Argument from ignorance. This fallacy is used by someone in a discussion when they begin throwing out ideas and “facts” with no actual knowledge of whether those things have been tested or are true.
  • Circular Logic. This is when someone continually repeats their original belief as the support for its validity. Example. “That is just wrong.” “Why?” “Because it is just wrong to do that.”
  • Dogmatism. This person will not listen to any views except their own. Nothing the other person says or does will ever change their mind on the topic.
  • Emotional Appeals. This often occurs when someone trusts their emotions more than any evidence. It can also be used in an attempt to scare the other person into agreeing with them. Example: “God says it is a sin to lie.” “It just does not feel right for God to get upset because someone lied to spare another person’s feelings. Surely, God is okay with those lies.”
  • Fallacy of exclusion. Often this is used by someone who can think of one or two specific examples of the supposed truth of their argument. Those examples, however, may be the exception instead of the rule.  Example: “All Christians are hypocrites. I knew this Christian one time, who was a preacher and I caught him lying.”
  • Faulty analogy. This is an attempt to relate two things that may actually have nothing in common. Example: Christianity is the opiate of the masses.
  • Non sequitur. This is when the conclusion does not follow the premise. Example: If God were good, he would not let bad things happen.
  • Slippery slope. This logical fallacy is itself a slippery slope. Sometimes starting down a road does quickly lead to more intense consequences. The fallacy is in assuming every choice will lead to rapid, desperate consequences. Example: If we don’t have Sunday School on New Year’s Day, the next thing you know, we will never have Sunday School.
  • Lack of evidence. This is when someone claims you cannot be correct in your position, because there is no definitive, irrefutable proof or evidence. This is often used in religion in disagreements that align with, “You can not prove God exists.” and “You can not prove God does not exist.” In reality, neither side will be able to produce irrefutable evidence until Christ returns.
  • Straw man. In this fallacy, one person makes a statement so extreme, no one would agree with it in hopes of destroying the other person’s argument. Example: Two people are discussing Christianity. One person says, “Hitler was a Christian.” As if the fact that Hitler may have been a Christian, therefore undermines Christianity itself.
  • Repetition. While technically not a logical fallacy, repetition is a common tactic in propaganda. The theory is that if you repeat your message often enough and loudly enough, many people will begin to believe it is true – regardless of the statement’s actual validity.
  • Glittering generality. This is when people use a broadly defined word such as “love” without defining it in an attempt to win an argument. Example: Two people are discussing something God has called a sin in the Bible and whether or not they should speak to a fellow Christian regarding that sin.. “But God wants us to love our neighbors.” While that is indeed true, “love” in this person’s argument is used very generally. Love in this case may actually be encouraging the person to repent of their sin, not ignoring the sin.
  • Transfer. This is another technique often used in propaganda. It is portraying someone or something in a particular way in hopes that image will transfer its meaning upon the person or philosophy. It is often employed when portraying Christians in movies and books with actors and characters who appear judgmental, backward and unattractive. The hope is that those introduced to the image will transfer the negative image to all of Christianity and not just that specific example.
  • Snob appeal. This is an attempt to convince an opponent that everyone that person admires agrees with the speaker’s position. It is often most effective with people who are already in an elite circle or are in hopes of becoming part of one in the future. It is a form of peer pressure that focuses on attaining or maintaining a highly desired social status in their culture.

Fun Family Bible Activity: Needs v. Wants

Let’s be honest. We leave in a greedy world. Our society wants us to believe we need all sorts of things that are actually wants. Christians aren’t immune from materialism either. So what can you do to raise kids who truly understand God’s view of needs v. wants?

Grab some magazines, random items around your house and a Bible. Tell your kids the story of David and Bathsheba found in 2 Samuel 11 and 12 and 1 Kings 1 and 2. It’s not necessary with young children to focus on the sexual aspects of the story, but rather that David felt like he needed Uriah’s wife, even though he already had wives of his own.

Explain that David was so intent on getting what he wanted, he committed several sins to get it. Explain that God wants us to understand we actually need very little. Most of the things we think we need, we actually want. Explain that when we get confused, we can often do things that make God unhappy and even sin – especially if we primarily focus on getting all of those things we want for ourselves.

Explain to your kids, you are going to play the game Wants v. Needs. Hold up one of the items you gathered. Ask your kids whether it is something they want or need. If they believe it is something they need, they should also share how much of it they think they need in a given time period. Older children can be asked to support their choices with evidence.

After a few items, give them the magazines. Have them find pictures of things they want versus things they need. Older children can examine ads to see how companies try to convince people they need something, they actually merely want.

Can your family come to an agreement about what your needs actually are in life? Now think about playing the same game if you were a family living in one of the poorest countries on earth instead of one of the richest. Would your answers be different? What if your grandparents had played the game when they were little? What if Jesus played the game when he lived on earth?

End your time by discussing ways your family can be less concerned with getting “stuff”. How can you all be more grateful for the blessings God has given you? How can you share your blessings with others who may not even have everything they need?

6 Thinking Skills Christian Kids Need

As the secular world’s views take permanent hold on every aspect of our culture, it’s more important than ever your kids become critical thinkers. Not to try and rewrite the Bible so God allows them to do whatever they want, but so they can see through the arguments that are meant to encourage them to reject God.

We have had several recent posts about critical thinking skills, but there are some underlying cognitive or thinking skills that will help your kids on their Christian walk. You can do a lot of things at home that will help them sharpen these skills, while also teaching them how these gifts from God can help them stay close to God if they use them well.

  • Comprehension. Do your kids really understand what they are being taught at church and home about the Bible and what God wants from them and for them? Be careful. Just because your kids can quote a neatly turned phrase, doesn’t mean they really understand what it means, why it’s important to God or how to apply it to their lives.
  • Analysis. Can your kids analyze a doctrine, argument, philosophy and their own lives and compare them to God’s standard? Or are they comparing things to some other, less reliable or godly standard?
  • Creation. Can your kids take what they read in the Bible and create a life that is pleasing to God? Can they create a personal ministry that serves others and teaches them about God? Can they eventually create a family of their own that will be the Christian family God wants?
  • Creativity. Can they take the commands and principles in the Bible and apply them in situations that aren’t an exact match for what is in the Bible? In other words, can they take the commands and principles from a story like the Good Samaritan and apply them appropriately to a situation that doesn’t involve a man robbed and beaten, but in which god would expect the same commands and principles to be obeyed?
  • Communication. Can your kids clearly communicate what they believe to others? Can they communicate the Gospel message in a compelling way? Can they explain how God makes a difference in their lives? Can they explain what God wants from them and for them so others understand the importance of obedience?

Helping your kids work on these thinking skills can better prepare them for critical thinking, living the Christian life and sharing their faith. They’re part of the strong faith foundation your kids need to remain faithful to God in this secular world.

Fun Kid Craft For Giving Anxieties to God

We live in anxious times and the anxiety level of the average child has raised exponentially from previous generations. When kids aren’t taught healthy, godly ways of managing their anxiety, they can become susceptible to all sorts of unhealthy, dangerous and ungodly ways to cope.

Children raised in Christian homes, may have been taught to turn their anxieties over to God, but not really understand how to do it. There’s an easy craft project you can do with your kids that can not only help them understand the concept, but also encourage them to practice it.

Grab a Bible and tell your kids about some of the times in the life of David when he may have been anxious. You can find some great examples in 1 Samuel 21 – 24. Explain that when David was anxious we know one of the things he did was talk to God. We know this, because he wrote some of his prayers down in the book of Psalms. (You may want to read Psalms 23, 27, 34, 61, 91 or others to them.)

For older children, it’s important to point out that God didn’t always take away the stress from David’s life immediately. When God left the stressful situation in David’s life for a time, David had to trust that God would help him get through the situation. David learned to lean on God by turning his anxieties over to him, even if they continued to exist for long periods of time.

Explain to your kids that sometimes when we are anxious, we forget to pray to God about it. Instead we spend a lot of time thinking and worrying about the things that are making us anxious. Suddenly, we can’t sleep or maybe we start feeling ill from the stress.

A great way to remember to pray about the things making them anxious – and to let God handle them for them – is to have a visual cue to remind them. Grab empty tins for mints or other small containers. Have your kids each decorate one. If the containers are large enough, they may want to write their favorite verse from the Psalms you read on them.

Inside the container put lots of slips of blank paper and a pencil (golf pencils work well for smaller containers). Tell your kids whenever they worry, they should write what is worrying them on a slip of paper. Then they should pray about what they wrote. When they are finished, they can close the slip of paper in the container or dramatically destroy it to remind them they have given it to God to take care of for them.

After completing the project, make sure your kids place their containers somewhere in their room where they will be easily seen. When they seem anxious, remind them to write it down, pray about it and let God handle it. Helping them establish good prayer habits can also help them manage their anxiety levels.

Do Your Kids Need Christian Apologetics?

Christian apologetics isn’t what it may sound like. It’s not apologizing for being a Christian or for Christian beliefs. Rather it provides the answers to the questions and challenges to Christianity in the world.

It’s part Bible knowledge, part critical thinking skills and part good communication skills. Done well, it relies primarily on scripture while pointing out the logical fallacies and error in the question or challenge.

Because apologetics is based on truth, most great apologists are kind and loving as they present their case. Since God’s Truth is on their side, there is no need for the emotional ugliness that is often a part of debates. While great apologists hope those listening are persuaded, primarily because of the eternal consequences of rejecting God, they are usually passionate about the truth while still being considerate and respectful towards those with whom they disagree.

This doesn’t mean that apologists are perfect. Some may still have been swayed by inaccurate theological arguments from time to time. Most of them seem to avoid topics, however, that can divide Christians and focus on the basics of Christianity upon which most Christians would believe.

Apologetic materials are much easier to find than in the past. Many have materials designed for kids and teens, as well as adults. You can find some information free online. There are videos on Right Now Media, to which many churches will give families free access codes. There are also plenty of books which you can purchase from almost anyone who sells books.

Some apologists are so well known, you may be familiar with their work. Lee Strobel, Ravi Zacharius, J Warner Wallace and Sean McDowell are probably the best known. While I haven’t read everything each of these men has written, the things I have read were well done and biblical. As with anything though, it’s best to read any books or watch the videos before sharing them with your kids.

There are also highly focused groups that are part apologetics and part science. Answers in Genesis has some great scientific materials that are strong in both apologetics and science. Lee Strobel also has a book, Case for the Creator, which is filled with more scientific information than your kids probably care to digest.

Apologetics used to be somewhat optional. With even some ministers and churches questioning what have always been considered main tenets of Christianity, it’s important your kids thoroughly understand what they believe and why they believe it. Not only will it strengthen their personal faith foundations, but it will also make it easier for them to share their faith effectively.