June 15, 2019

Celebrity Fight Challenge and Logic

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

A passel of people are bemused by the challenge made by singer Justin Bieber to actor Tom Cruise. He wants a fight. Not a barroom brawl, but a formal Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial arts event. Bieber taunted that if Cruise ignores the challenge, he is a coward.


Bieber challenges Cruise to a UFC fight. Big deal. Except that there are some things to learn about logic in this.
Shane Carwin and Junior Dos Santos facing off at UFC 131
Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Bad intentionz (CC by-SA 3.0)
Normally, my response would be, "That's silly. How long until it's time to clock out?" (In fact, I had to look up UFC, and I'm not sure I've ever heard a Bieber song. Saw a few movies with Cruise, though. Is it true that he does most of his own stunts?) What got my attention is the claim that if Tom ignored Justin's challenge, then Tom is a coward.


This is the kind of thing that other Christians and biblical creationists have to deal with frequently. We are bushwhacked with the obligatory ad hominems as well as straw man, red herring, and other fallacies. Here we can see both bifurcation (either you accept the challenge or you're a coward) and the appeal to motive fallacy (cowardice, in this case).

Why would Tom Cruise ignore the fight challenge from Justin Bieber?" I could give a better either/or option: either you get ready to slap leather with him, or you have other things to do. As for the claim that he's afraid, well, that's simply a childish taunt. Bieber has no way of knowing what's in Cruise's mind.

If I challenged Tom Cruise to a fight, I would be afraid that he might accept because he would clean my clock. Not a great feat because Bieber could, too.

I've had "debate" challenges that amount to, "I hate you. Come onto this forum run by atheists and other anti-creationists and debate me. But you won't because you're afraid!" (Very confused individual. He made me a BFF bracelet like Joe Biden made for B. Hussein Obama, and I understand that he keeps my picture on is icebox for his own Orwellian-style Two Minutes Hate.) I reject the challenge for many reasons, so we can dispense with the bifurcation part of his foolish challenge with other reasons:
  • I have run rings 'round him logically several times
  • His "arguments" are incoherent
  • He is a Sanballat, occasionally pretending to be reasonable but only means harm
  • My ego does not need to be bolstered in this way
  • It would not be a structured debate, but would more closely resemble a food fight
  • I have a job that takes up a lot of my time
  • Most importantly, I head up The Question Evolution Project, a biblical creation science ministry
  • His sense of humor is seriously impaired and he is probably fuming about the icebox and bracelet jokes (but the Two Minutes Hate thing may not be far off). Other than those things, he's doing fine.
Having dispensed with the bifurcation aspect, let's take a quick look at the appeal to motive part. Like Bieber, my challenger does not know what is in my mind. If I am afraid, perhaps I am afraid of causing him further humiliation. Well, it's a possibility, isn't it?


While I referenced a particularly vindictive individual in the above list, over the years I have had several who are like this. Also, I have observed or read accounts of atheists and anti-creationists on the prod. Their visceral, illogical attacks are very similar for the most part (although some try to pose as somewhat intellectual but can be dismantled). While critical thinking seems to be suppressed in modern educational systems, learning to spot simple logical fallacies is extremely helpful.

The appeal to motive fallacy is something that I loathe entirely. It is easy to find, frequently located in phrases like, "You are doing this because..." Christians and creationists, avoid this as an argument. Don't be like atheists and Darwin's disciples; we have to rise above that for the glory of God. You savvy?


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