No Need for Circular Reasoning

Circular Reasoning

Some prominent Christians defend circular reasoning. Some say that all reasoning is circular but some circular reasoning is not OK and other circular reasoning isn’t OK. The fact is that not all reasoning in circular. If I tell you I know my wife exists because I’m with her right now, that’s not circular. If I tell you I know God exists because I’m with Him right now, that’s not circular. If I tell you I know the Bible is God’s word because the Holy Spirit is telling me that right now, that’s not circular. And yet, Christians sometimes use circular reasoning. They never have to.
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Circular reasoning starts with infinite regression. The difference is circular logic loops back into itself eventually, yet we can’t always easily recognize circular reasoning since persuaders have ways to hide the fallacy. For instance, circular reasoning can have as few as two steps, but it often has many steps, making it seem reasonable since we seldom check logic back more than a step or two. As a concrete illustration, let’s look at one of the most widely used examples of circular reasoning.
Ungodly thinkers love to make fun of Christians and accuse us of circular reasoning. And, sometimes, we’re guilty as charged.
Christian: “The Bible is the word of God without error.”
Questioner: “But what makes you think the Bible is God’s word?”
Christian: “The Bible tells us it’s the word of God without error.”
Questioner: “But why believe what the Bible says?”
Christian: “The Bible is infallible.”
Questioner: “But how do you know it’s infallible?”
Christian: “The Bible is the word of God without error.”
The Christian completes the circle of reasoning. The premise and conclusion are the same: “The Bible is God’s word without error,” so this reasoning reaches this conclusion using a circular reasoning fallacy. However, another choice exists to reach this conclusion. We can reach this conclusion sanely using sound reasoning. While some Christians choose to use a circular reasoning fallacy instead of being rational, it’s never necessary for Christians to be irrational. Later, we’ll look at rational Christian reasoning for concluding that the Bible is God’s word without error. But, for now, we’ll continue explaining the circular reasoning fallacy with another example of circular reasoning using ungodly thinking:
The skeptic says, “God doesn’t exist because there’s no evidence for God because any evidence for God isn’t evidence because God doesn’t exist.” That’s one way that ungodly thinkers use to claim that God doesn’t exist, but they have other ways since they can obviously resort to other fallacies to avoid circular reasoning. However, they’ll still commit fallacies. Indeed, they can’t reason without fallacies. They base every conclusion on fallacies. Sadly, ungodly thinkers have no way to reason other than by being irrational. On the other hand, those who follow Christ have a way to think rationally, and God wants us to choose the rational way more often than we do.
We can see why circular reasoning doesn’t prove anything.
Circular defense of the Bible: “I know the Bible is God’s word because the Bible is God’s word.”
Circular defense of the Atheism: “I know God doesn’t exist because God doesn’t exist.”
Dr. Jason Lisle brings up some logic that’s circular but not the circular reasoning fallacy.
“Without laws of logic, we could not make an argument. We can make an argument. Therefore, there must be laws of logic.”
Dr. Lisle points out that this logic isn’t a circular reasoning fallacy, but there’s repetition, so we could call it circular. Here’s why it repeats. It mentions “an argument,” which assumes a logical argument, and it also mentions “laws of logic.” But “laws of logic” and “logical argument” refer to the same thing since laws of logic govern a logical argument. The laws of logic define what a logical argument permits, but Dr. Lisle’s entire logic centers on two points: “laws of logic” and “argument.” We can’t separate laws of logic from logical argument, so it’s circular, but, as Dr. Lisle points out, it’s not a circular reasoning fallacy. If Dr. Lisle’s point seems hard to understand, we’ll look at a simple illustration using a bicycle.
“If bicycles didn’t exist, I couldn’t ride a bicycle. I’m riding a bicycle. Therefore, bicycles exist.”
If we call this reasoning “circular,” we run the risk of confusing the fallacy of circular reasoning with the nature of reality. Reality always proves reality. Reality is a true premise since reality is truth. Circular reasoning does something different from that. Circular reasoning dresses up an unproven premise and pretends it’s a proved premise.
As a side note, neither of these two arguments proves that reality exists. We had discovered earlier that God reveals that reality exists. Therefore, divine revelation proves that reality exists. Once we know that reality exists, we can talk about bicycles existing.
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