The name ‘Red herring’ has become associated with the logical fallacy of introducing irrelevant material to the issue being discussed, so that everyone’s attention is diverted away from the points made, towards a different conclusion (see here).
For a long time I’ve been suspecting that preachers use this tactic on purpose, in order to try and change the course of the discussion if it becomes inconvenient (for them). Recently I’m getting convinced that it represents a certain way of thinking, which causes such discussions’ diversions innocently. It may even be the case that religious believers are influenced by over-dealing with texts and with “sort of logic”, such as the one found in the Hebrew Talmud.
Note the following (actual) example, within a discussion about “are most people killed by nature or by man”
Him: Is ‘wisdom’ realized in having some academic degree? How should this turn our world into a better place? Let’s see: We will learn how to build atomic bombs and then we will drop them on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Children will be killed, women and old people also, who cares.
Me: The purpose of science is to reveal the truth. Different people may then do different things with these findings, depending on their own characteristics and purposes. Some may develop a cure for cancer; others may promote terror and wars. Our world today is a better place – until not too many years ago, infant mortality was the prime reason for death worldwide. Almost every serious infection ended in death. Life expectancy used to be about half of what it is nowadays. People were cold in the winter and suffered from heat during the summer. The biggest disasters in history have always been originated by nature (“by God”, according to you) and not by man. Bacteria and viruses alone, during the last two centuries, killed more than all human wars in history.
Him: I checked your claim about deaths by diseases vs. deaths by wars. For your information, there have been countless more deaths by wars and genocides, than by diseases. In the first and second world wars alone, more than 100 million people were killed.
Me: In the first and second world wars combined, about 80 million people were killed. During the whole 20th century, about 200 million people were killed by wars and various human acts of hostility. At the same time, during that century, about 1.5 billion people died of various infectious diseases, including some 300-400 million people who died of smallpox, about 200 million of malaria, about 50 million died of the Spanish flu, and some additional 10 million of AIDS. More than a billion others died of various types of cancer and heart diseases. Throughout history, about half of all children died of hunger or infections.
Him: Most of today’s deadly diseases have no medicines!
…Say what? What is the connection between “most of today’s deadly diseases have no medicines” and the discussion about “are most people killed by nature or by man”? We haven’t been arguing about the reasons…