Consider the following argument:

I have been born on Earth, during a time of relative prosperity. The probability that I was born at this moment, of all moments, is very small. Therefore, this is evidence my existence owes itself to a divine being.

Although the probability of being born at a particular moment is indeed small, it's clearly fallacious because something has to be born at any arbitrary moment in order to make the other births improbable. Each person born could use the same logic to assert they owe their existence to a divine being.

I'm sure there's a term for this, I just can't find it. I've tried searching for "selection fallacy" but only come across selection bias, which is different.


4 Answers 4


See the Divine Fallacy:

The divine fallacy is a logical fallacy that occurs when someone assumes that a certain phenomenon must occur as a result of divine intervention or a supernatural force, either because they don’t know how to explain it otherwise, or because they can’t believe that this isn’t the case.

Like many fallacies, The Divine Fallacy is also a form of Non-Sequitur:

When the conclusion does not follow from the premises. In more informal reasoning, it can be when what is presented as evidence or reason is irrelevant or adds very little support to the conclusion.


The divine fallacy may be the most specific fallacy for this.

More generally, this is called an argument from incredulity or an appeal to common sense:

[The argument from incredulity] asserts that a proposition must be false because it contradicts one's personal expectations or beliefs, or is difficult to imagine.

One might also say this is a probabilistic argument (going with what is most likely, which is not necessarily a fallacy) combined with a special pleading fallacy to avoid having to address the question of how likely God's existence is.

Special pleading is an informal fallacy wherein one cites something as an exception to a general or universal principle, without justifying the special exception.

The argument from ignorance is also related: we don't know, therefore God.

[The argument from ignorance] asserts that a proposition is true because it has not yet been proven false or a proposition is false because it has not yet been proven true.

[The proposition in question could be "God exists and created the universe".]


Is there a term for a fallacy in which one believes something to be divinely inspired due to [its] being improbable?

I do not know if there is a word for this reasoning (though there should be). The reasoning, as such, is fine:

All improbable events are the work of God.

My birth is an improbable event.

Therefore, my birth is the work of God.

This syllogism is AAA in the first figure, which is valid.

The problem is in the middle term ("improbable event"). Your own birth is indeed improbable. But so is that of your murderer. And that of a Parisian taxi driver.

Eventually, the sum total of contradictory and irrelevant events destroys the notion that God could have created any one of them intentionally. And that conclusion, in turn, dissolves the major premise. And that approximately describes Futlitarian’s Divine Fallacy.

  • My birth is not an improbable event, but an absolute necessity, otherwise I couldn't be typing this comment. Same with your birth, because I wouldn't be commenting on your post had you never been born.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Mar 28, 2023 at 0:03

You are correct in that it is a fallacy but the reasoning you give in your question is ironically a fallacy as well. You point out that the probability of someone being born is high. But this assumes that this figure is relevant. If there was a God whose sole purpose was to intervene and create John from Kentucky but leave the rest of mankind to be created naturally, the probability of someone being born would still be high. Does this imply that God did not create John?

The relevant probability to look at is, still, the probability of you being born. What matters is comparing this probability (which is very low) to the probability that you were created by god. The latter is undefined since we have no evidence god exists, and something being improbable naturally is not evidence that god exists which is the fallacy in the original question

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