Sunday, March 6, 2011


I've been doing some research about this topic lately, and I find it to be a very interesting subject.  Of course, since beginning my journey away from Mormonism, the process of reasoning, thinking, analyzing, evaluating and arriving at my own conclusion has become much more vivid in my mind.  For so many years, I just went along - and I was sadly caught in the never-ending cycle of Circular Reasoning.  Breaking away from that vicious cycle was difficult, as was leaving the Mormon mindset behind, but the benefits have been numerous.  Knowing that I am thinking for myself now, and that I am living an authentic life, is a huge reward.

When looking at the FAIR and FARMS websites, I can now see just how deeply Mormon apologists are caught in a cycle of Circular Reasoning.  Since their initial premise which underlies everything they say or think is that "the Mormon Church is the only true church on the face of the earth," they bend each fact to that end.  And when they seem caught, they simply bear their testimony.  Now that solves everything, doesn't it?

Independent, unbiased deliberation requires abandoning all preconceived notions, but since they do not leave anything on the table before beginning their studies, it is not possible for them to reach an unbiased opinion.  They close their minds before even beginning the process of "studying" the question - and they have arrived at their conclusion before beginning the "analysis" as well. 

A classic example of Circular Reasoning was apparent to me when I told my very TBM brother that I was no longer going to church.  Of course, his first response was that "it's never too late" to return to the fold.  When I told him that I didn't want to "return," he said, "Well, it all boils down to whether or not you believe that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God.  If you believe he was a Prophet of God, then the church is true.  But if you believe that he wasn't a Prophet of God, then the church is not true.  That being said, I believe that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, and therefore the Church is true."  Circular Reasoning in a capsule.

On the Logical Fallacies website, the following is said about Circular Reasoning:
Begging the Question / Circular Reasoning

An argument is circular if its conclusion is among its premises, if it assumes (either explicitly or not) what it is trying to prove. Such arguments are said to beg the question. A circular argument fails as a proof because it will only be judged to be sound by those who already accept its conclusion.

Anyone who rejects the argument’s conclusion should also reject at least one of its premises (the one that is the same as its conclusion), and so should reject the argument as a whole. Anyone who accepts all of the argument’s premises already accepts the argument’s conclusion, so can’t be said to have been persuaded by the argument. In neither case, then, will the argument be successful.

(1) The Bible affirms that it is inerrant.
(2) Whatever the Bible says is true.
(3) The Bible is inerrant.

This argument is circular because its conclusion—The Bible is inerrant—is the same as its second premise—Whatever the Bible says is true. Anyone who would reject the argument’s conclusion should also reject its second premise, and, along with it, the argument as a whole.

Real-World Examples
The above argument is a straightforward, real-world example of a circular argument. Other examples can be a little more subtle.

Typical examples of circular arguments include rights-claims: e.g., “I have a right to say what I want, therefore you shouldn’t try to silence me”; “Women have a right to choose whether to have an abortion or not, therefore abortion should be allowed”; “The unborn has a right to life, therefore abortion is immoral.”

Having a right to X is the same as other people having an obligation to allow you to have X, so each of these arguments begs the question, assuming exactly what it is trying to prove.
Of course, religion is an area in which Circular Reasoning is used to try to explain much of its rhetoric.  The statement that the Bible is the Word of God because the Bible tells us so, and since the Bible is infallible it is obviously the Word of God is a great example of Circular Reasoning. 

Naturally, though, when caught in the web of Circular Reasoning, particularly in a religious discussion, it is very difficult to make the other person see the errors in his/her line of thinking.  Knowing that the Bible is the Word of God simply because the Bible tells us so, and since the Bible is infalliable, it is therefore true is a mind-boggling statement.  Of course, many Mormons believe the Book of Mormon is true because they have been told it is true by their leaders, and since they believe their leaders are lead by God, they assume that nothing those leaders say or do could possibly be wrong.  Getting in these types of discussions can be very frustrating for a thinking human being.

On Yahoo Answers, the following question was asked:  "Is it circular reasoning to quote the Bible as proof of God?"

Here was the answer:  "If they could quote a verse of the Bible that describes an occurrence or a phenomena (that mere mortals could not have known) that was only later confirmed by an extra-biblical source, then the Bible may serve as evidence. But to date, I've only heard outrageous interpretations ("See this verse that says rivers don't fill up, that's clearly a reference to the complicated water cycle we only now understand") or blatant ignorance ("See this verse written a few years after this war, it predicted that war")."

Here's a few very good examples of Circular Reasoning, which I found on a discussion board on
We're doing 10 minute presentations in English and I'm doing mine on fallacy number 21: Circular Reasoning.  For those who don't know what circular reasoning means, here's an example:
And one of the responses:
Is there a God?  Yes.
How do you know?  Because the Bible says so.
How do you know the Bible is correct?  Because it was inspired by God.

In other words - God is because God is.
And here's one of the responses:
Why don't atheists believe in God?
Because they have no faith.

Why do they have no faith?
Because they don't believe in God.

Hence, atheists don't believe in God because they have no faith, or they don't have faith because they have no belief.

Okay, here's another less inflammatory example.

I am rude and discourteous to women.
Why?  Because women are evil.

Why are women evil?
Because men are rude and discourteous to women.

Or how about this?

Did your significant other cheat on you?  When you ask them if they cheated, they said they didn't.  But you knew they were lying because all cheaters lie.

Basically assumption or conjecture is the mother of circular logic.
Interesting statement.  "Basically assumption or conjecture is the mother of circular logic."  Without any type of "proof," some religious people try to argue that God exists through circular logic.  It's one thing to say that they believe in God because they have faith in his existence, but it is another thing entirely to try to "prove" his existence through use of the Bible or other religious-based "evidence."  But Mormon apologists go several steps further in trying to "prove" that Mormonism is true.

While I overlooked the circular arguments for a very long time, and bought into Mormonism lock, stock and barrel, eventually I realized that the whole thing makes no sense.  And after doing extensive research, I finally realized that everything I had been taught since childhood was filled with lies and deception, as well as contradictions and cover-ups.  At that point, it felt as though my head was going to explode.  Since I had never really thought about it all before, I came to realize that those feelings were simply mind opening up to real thinking, examination, evaluation, interpretation and analysis.  Deciding for myself - not relying on what others had told me to believe.  At this point, I consider myself to be an Agnostic because I do not know one way or the other whether God exists, and I don't feel comfortable taking the leap to atheism because it may very well be that God does exist.  But whether he exists or not, I know for certain that the Mormon Church is NOT his "only true church on the face of the earth."

While I was doing research on Circular Reasoning, I came across some interesting information on, which gives examples of Circular Reasoning as:
"I'm right because I'm right."

"There isn't a problem with the rule, because if everyone obeyed it there wouldn't be a problem."

"Piracy is wrong because it's against the law, and it's against the law because it's wrong."

"X is stupid because he's an idiot."
The Urban Dictionary website also gives a definition for "Circular Logic," reiterating the religious argument of:
Atheist: How do you know God exists?Believer: The Bible says so. Atheist: How do you know the Bible is the absolute truth?Believer: Because it came from God.Atheist: How do you know God exists?
and so on...

Some closing thoughts:  

It may have been better to say, "Circular reasoning"; circular logic strikes me as oxymoronic.
I don't use circular reasoning in my arguments. I know this because my arguments are never circular.

(Both of the above quotes were by "Wandering Soul," posted on, 1-23-2011, 2:30 pm).

nd just remember:

Circular reasoning is not logically valid because it isn't.

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