Saturday’s Story: The Barber Shop

The Barber Shop
by unknown

A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation and talked about so many things and various subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: “I don’t believe that God exists.”

“Why do you say that?” asked the customer.
“Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn’t exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can’t imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things.”

The customer thought for a moment, but didn’t respond because he didn’t want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt. The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: “You know what? Barbers do not exist.”

“How can you say that?” asked the surprised barber.
“I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!”
“No!” the customer exclaimed. “Barbers don’t exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside.
“Ah, but barbers DO exist! That’s what happens when people do not come to me.”
“Exactly!” affirmed the customer. “That’s the point! God, too, DOES exist! Because people do not look to God for help is why there’s so much pain and suffering in the world.”

 

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2 thoughts on “Saturday’s Story: The Barber Shop

  1. Yao Ming says:

    When a person speaks with god, we’d say that he is religious. If that person claims that god spoke to him, he is psychotic.

  2. logic says:

    i saw this “god does exist” piece appear on my wall a couple of times, and thought i would have a go at trying to identify some logical fallacies in this so-called proof of existence. now i’m not very good at this logical fallacy thing, so don’t crucify (hur hur) me if i get the fallacies wrong. :p

    AFFIRMING THE CONSEQUENT fallacy –

    example:
    1) IF i own an island, THEN i am rich (“consequent”).
    2) i am rich,
    3) therefore i own an island.

    assuming statement 1) is true, if you affirm the consequent (“i am rich”), it does not necessarily mean that the antecedent (“i own an island”) is true. one might be rich, but that does not mean one owns an island.

    in the story, it is slightly more complicated, and the author suggests that

    1) IF barbers exist,
    2) and some people have long hair,
    3) THEN it means that these people don’t go to barbers.

    and goes on to falsely assert, by affirming the consequent, that

    4) people don’t go to barbers, (“that’s what happens when people do not come to me”)
    5) therefore they have long hair,
    6) and so barbers exist even if people don’t go to barbers.

    quite obviously, people who don’t go to barbers will not necessarily have long hair. some people prefer to cut their own hair. remember scissors and electric shavers? but the author uses this fallacy to “prove” that barbers exist, and continues to use this fallacious argument to attempt to prove that “god does exist” by affirming the consequent that

    1) “when people do not go to him and don’t look to him for help”.
    2) “that’s why there’s so much pain and suffering in the world”.

    following on from the above logical fallacy, another two used by the author are the

    FAULTY ANALOGY and EQUIVOCATION fallacies –

    along with the previous fallacious argument, the author, by using the “barbers do not exist” argument, comes up with the FAULTY ANALOGY between barbers and god. the author highlights the similarity of the barber’s job to the god’s job with the “god exists/barbers exist” argument, and uses this analogy to falsely assert that the barber and the god are alike in other characteristics.

    1) “Ah, but barbers DO exist! That’s what happens when people do not come to me.”
    2) “God, too, DOES exist! That’s what happens when people do not go to Him and don’t look to Him for help.”

    these two statements seem analogous, and seem to make sense. however, the faulty analogy occurs because the author uses the EQUIVOCATION FALLACY (yes, another one).

    consider “come to” and “go to” in the above statements. statement 1) makes use of logical reasoning to assert that barbers exist because if we “come to” or “go to” a barber, then obviously we will have proof that he exists – we can see him and feel him (not in a naughty way!). but what does it mean when we “come to” or “go to” a god? i will not attempt to define its meaning, but in the statement 2) above, it certainly does not entail literally seeing the god. however, the author uses the EQUIVOCATION FALLACY to make the FAULTY ANALOGY as above.

    and the final fallacy that i think appears is the

    ARGUMENT FROM IGNORANCE (or is it the FALSE DICHOTOMY) fallacy –

    the author writes in the story that “barbers do not exist”, but eventually leads the reader to conclude, with faulty logic (affirming the consequent fallacy), that the statement is false. if the statement “barbers do not exist” is false, then the converse must be true, right? well in this case, it is! because past experiences (unless you’ve never seen or been to a barber) tell us so. it is easy to obtain proof of existence of the barber. therefore, since “barbers do not exist” is false, then we know that barbers exist.

    however, with the FAULTY ANALOGY as mentioned above, the author leads the reader to incorrectly come to the conclusion that “i don’t believe that god exists” is false. here is the important bit. even if the statement “god does not exist” is false, it is not proof enough that the god exists! it is not a simple either-or (FALSE DICHOTOMY) scenario.

    leading with the title “god does exist” is fallacious in this case, as the story does not actually prove that god exists.

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