In an argument about circular reasoning the opponent does nothing but state over and over that if 'God exists because the bible says so and the bible is true so god must exist' is circular reasoning, then using reason and logic to determine that your reason and logic is logical and reasonable is also circular reasoning.

I argue that one just feeds itself, claiming that the thing proves itself because it says the thing proves itself because it proves itself cos it says so etc etc, but using 'logic and reason to examine the evidence and available information to come to 'x' conclusion' simply does not fit the criteria for circular reasoning.

Is there a name for his argument/claim, is it even a valid argument on his behalf, and what is the rebuttal to such a claim, if it is, as I understand it, a completely fallacious argument that amounts to nothing more than 'if I am this then so are you'?

I appreciate any information to help me on this, to better understand if I'm wrong or how to rebut if not.

  • Since I'm hearing his argument second-hand, it's hard to properly evaluate it, but it seems that he's making a good point. How do you use logic to defend logic? As Wittgenstein once said: "As if giving grounds did not come to an end sometime. But the end is not an ungrounded presupposition: it is an ungrounded way of acting." God's existence may not be provable by logic, but we know that He exists in a way similar to how we know that logic is a valid way of assessing arguments.
    – user3017
    Nov 21, 2017 at 7:44
  • That sounds like a predetermined conclusion based on personal belief, not a logical conclusion based on available information and evidence from outside and independent sources.
    – Aaron Hird
    Nov 21, 2017 at 7:54
  • And I don't know god exists. In fact nothing I have ever seen or heard has even remotely suggested that this may be true. But I know logic is a valid way of assessing arguments because when used properly it comes to deductions and conclusions that match what one finds in the real world. I don't see any comparison between the existence of logic and the concept of god.
    – Aaron Hird
    Nov 21, 2017 at 8:01
  • Why would you be looking for a "logical conclusion" when I never presented an argument? We recognize God in a way prior to any such argumentation just as we recognize the validity of logic in a way prior to any application of it. The ability to recognize God's hand, so to speak, is one that all of us have by nature, so any inability is the result of the suppression of truth, especially because of sin. That may be remedied by seeking reconciliation with God through faith and repentance.
    – user3017
    Nov 21, 2017 at 9:42
  • That implies everyone recognises god.. And that is not true. Otherwise there would be no atheists/non believers. You are making a claim based on your belief that god exists, and I don't believe such a thing. I see nothing to suggest such a thing. I see no logical or empirical evidence for such a thing. So implying that all recognise god inherently is, to be blunt, bullshit. And saying things like 'inability to recognise this is suppression of truth' is only your own bias being forced on everyone else.
    – Aaron Hird
    Nov 22, 2017 at 0:44

5 Answers 5


In a certain sense your protagonist is correct. If your starting position is that logic and reason are correct, then applying logic to conclude that logic and reason are correct will always be circular.

The trick is to not get all "truthy" about it. Logic is a useful tool for drawing inferences from a set of statements. That's all, nothing more mystical than that.

And you need to be a little careful. In a comment you state:

logic is a valid way of assessing arguments because when used properly it comes to deductions and conclusions that match what one finds in the real world

This is dangerous. Logic says nothing at all about the real world by itself. At best, if your input statements are consistent with the real world then logic can produce other statements that are consistent with the real world. This can be valuable, for sure, and can help to gain insight but is limited by its inputs.

For example, let's reword your initial problem a little:

The Bible says that God exists, the Bible is true therefore God exists.

This is perfectly reasonable logic, not circular in any way. If you accept the two premises then the inference follows quite naturally. It only gets interesting when you try to map the premises to the real world. The first is fairly uncontroversial, the second somewhat less so.

  • Thanks (+1) for pointing out that his comment erroneously suggests that logic could be established empirically. If it could be established empirically, it could also be defeated in that way, undermining the very structure of math and science. I also found the following answer helpful on this subject: "Does mathematics become circular at the bottom?"
    – user3017
    Nov 21, 2017 at 13:28
  • @PédeLeão To be clear. I didn't say Aaron Hird was wrong as such, just that he needed to be careful. I mean, logic can be used to deduce real world artifacts but only as long as the premises belong to the real world. Logic won't enforce real world deductions on its own.
    – Alex
    Nov 21, 2017 at 14:12
  • My point is that he says "I know logic is a valid way because..." of empirical evidence, and it's an error to believe that logic's validity can be established that way. In a reductio ad absurdum argument, for instance, a contradiction invariably leads to rejecting one of the premises. However, if logic were based on empirical evidence, it would be equally valid to reject the logic itself upon which the argument is based. Of course, nobody does that for the very reason that we assume that logic has a much more solid basis than empirical evidence.
    – user3017
    Nov 21, 2017 at 14:22
  • 'The bible says god exists, the bible is true, therefore god exists'. How does one determine the truth of the bible? You can't just make an arbitrary claim because it suits your preconception. What supports the truth claim? The bible? So the bible is proving itself to be true because it claims to be true? With what basis? Makes no logical sense to me to accept a books claim of itself without anything else to support it. However if one were to show how external sources provide that conclusion, then it's not circular. Otherwise it is. And my argument is based on that fact
    – Aaron Hird
    Nov 22, 2017 at 0:46
  • @AaronHird. I already addressed these questions. Maybe if you reread what I said, it might make sense to you.
    – user3017
    Nov 22, 2017 at 0:54

Let's use a current dilemma I'm facing. Is visible light, visible? Replace (God) with (visible light) and (The bible) with (insert a dictionary of your choice), and it's the exact same situation. Most of the answers I'm getting are along the lines of: (It's called visible light. Visible implies that we can see it. Therefore we can see light.) It's hard to argue with such logic. But my argument is not, about the definition of visible. My argument is whether light itself is actually visible. What are the factors which determine whether an object is visible or not. Why is this particular type of light, called visible light. I'm in no way saying that a visible object is not visible. It's this circular reasoning which prevents people from seeing the question I'm actually asking. Your question is open to interpretation. You need to explain your argument to specifically exclude irrelevant interpretations.


The problem I see from the start is that

'God exists because the bible says so and the bible is true so god must exist'

is not necessarily circular. It can be more properly formatted as:

  1. The Bible is true.
  2. The Bible says God exists.
  3. Therefore, God exists.

Whether or not you accept the premises are another factor altogether. Additionally, while

using reason and logic to determine that your reason and logic is logical

can seem circular (or just redundant) at first, we need to examine what Logic actually is. It is a framework for constructing coherent arguments, using premises and conclusions. The logic does not prove the logic, it attempts to prove your specific argument. It is also important to note that faith and logic don't play nicely, as faith is another (different) basis for proving arguments. If anything fallacious, your counterpart may have set up a straw man argument for the basis of logic.

It is also important to note, by looking at some responses, that logic CAN in fact "prove" the existence of God. Take a look at Anselm of Canterbury's Ontological Argument:

God is which that nothing greater can possibly be conceived.

To cut to the chase; logically speaking this will always follow to the conclusion that God is real due to the notion that at some point "something greater" will be a real God.

This may suggest logic isn't perfect, faith and logic don't mix, God is real, or any number of things. A key takeaway though has to be that the premises and the proper setting of them must be scrutinized, as is clear in both of your initial arguments.

  • It becomes circular when: 4. The Bible is true, because God says it is true. Nov 23, 2017 at 10:13
  • @ChrisWohlert: Your statement does not prove circularity because it is not true. God did not say that the Bible is true - some human said it.
    – Guill
    Dec 1, 2017 at 9:00
  • @Guill, Okay, I thought he did. Dec 1, 2017 at 11:34

[If], [in] an argument about circular reasoning, the opponent does nothing but state.. that... 'God exists because the bible says so, and the bible is true; so god must exist' is circular reasoning, then using reason and logic to determine that your reason and logic is logical and reasonable is also circular reasoning. [edited quote]

So how can logic rest upon groundwork which is not itself circular? Your best bet is to find premises similar to the laws of thought. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_thought These three laws are not derived from any statement that is more basic. However, the claim is that they avoid circularity because they are so fundamental that the very act of thinking would be impossible without them. To the extent the laws of thought can be proven, that is the proof. Logic needs similar premises.

  • The laws of thought do not serve as premises for logic because they are themselves principles of logic. They avoid circularity only to the extent that we don't try to justify them with logic, because doing so would indeed be circular. The point is not that they aren't necessary for thinking but there is no further grounds for justifying their use other than our natural capacity to recognize that necessity. In the same way, we know of God's existence not because of any logical deduction but because of a natural capacity to recognize His moral goodness and wisdom.
    – user3017
    Nov 22, 2017 at 13:23

It appears that you and your opponent are arguing about "circular reasoning." Fortunately for you, your opponent is using an invalid example to prove his point.
To rebut his argument, you need to recognize that he is making an invalid claim.
His claim that the statement "God exist because the bible says so and the bible is true so God must exist" is circular - is invalid.
The validity of the first and third parts (God exists because the bible says so... so God must exist) depends on the validity of the second part (the bible is true). But this part has not been proven! Therefore the first and third parts are invalid.
It is not reasonable to accept an invalid statement as proof of "circular reasoning," or anything else.

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