A few weeks ago when I posted about being a “Skeptical Believer”, one of the comments brought up the “No True Scotsman Fallacy” . For those of you not familiar with it, or just need a refresher, it is a logical fallacy where a person tries to protect a statement/belief from counterexamples by changing the definition on the fly (ad hoc) to exclude the counterexample. For example:
Person A: “No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”
Person B: “But my uncle Angus is a Scotsman and he puts sugar on his porridge.”
Person A: “Ah yes, but no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”
This has lots of uses in religion, and has found its way into LDS discourse as well. The most common in religion is:
Person A: Anybody who has a testimony of the gospel and is converted will never leave the church.
Person B: Bishop Johnson bore his testimony every Sunday for five years and he left the church.
Person A: Well it wasn’t a real testimony, and he wasn’t really converted (he wasn’t a “true Mormon”)
I see variations of this ad hoc changing of the original statement used all the time when I speak up in Sunday School or HPG Elders Quorum.
Brother Know it All: “Callings are inspired by God”.
Me: “Why then did God call a Mission President that molested missionaries?”
Brother know it all: “Not all callings are inspired, people have free agency”
There are other common logical fallacies I hear at church. Affirming the consequent fallacy:
The true church will grow until it covers the earth.
The church is growing
Therefor the church is true
(This one will stop being used then the church stops growing)
Affirming conclusions from a negative premise
No good Mormon can be a democrat
Harry Reid is a democrat
Harry Reid is not a good Mormon
Even the Anti-Mormon crowd falls victim to these fallacies. Like the perfectionist fallacy.
The LDS church has a very poor track record with regard to treating LGTB fairly, Therefore the church should not be praised or even recognized for the good they do.
So what logical fallacies have you seen used, both by the church, and against it?