Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Ad hominem arguments

I just posted the following to the Internet Infidels Discussion Board:

Originally Posted by Ahab
And I would recomend it to anyone as a great example of the intellectual mush that passes for christian apologetics today.
To me it seems that its primary purpose is to provide a morale boost to those already convinced of the truth of its message. Secondly, to help dissuade those wavering believers from leaving the faith.

VR: Mr Carrier and I have profound disagreements; we both think the other mistaken. However, I think he would probably not use the term "intellectual mush" to descibe my book, (You've read it carefully I'm sure) and I am sure he does not think that much is to be gained by speculating about the motives of our intellectual opponents. I present and defend my arguments because I believe them to be good. I probably could have made stronger claims on behalf of my arguments (and some of my supporters think I should have) but I want to defend claims and positions that I really do think are defensible. I have no doubts about Mr. Carrier's sincerity, nor do I have any concern at all to speculate about his motives. He thought I was making an argument from motive against naturalists, but I was able to show him that I reallly think motive arguments can be addressed to all sides all day long and that they come out to a wash.

If my arguments played a role in someone's conversion, or if they prevented an otherwise wavering believer to remain a Christians, of course I would welcome that, but I am primarly concerned, like Mr. Carrier, in defending what I think is true. If I thought something else was true, I would be defending that. Some of my favorite discussions about theism and Christianity have been with atheists who have come, after the discussion, not to give up their atheism, but simply to recognize that Christianity, or C. S. Lewis, or theism, or what not, had more credibility to it than they had previously thought. To me, that's a huge success, even if the person remains an atheist for the rest of their lives.


Edwardtbabinski said...

Speaking of Ad hominem arguments, Christians do it best... TO OTHER CHRISTIANS.

Catholic and Protestant web-pologists, respectfully, Dave Armstrong, and James White are currently enjoying a gargantuan online debate, and other Catholics and Protestants have joined in.

Dave's web page that lists his many encounters with Protestant "Anti-Catholics," is located here:

While Pastor James White's web page, demonstrating how he heroicially defends his Protestant beliefs against a myriad of heretical Catholic errors and powerplays that strangle the seeds of true Christian faith round the world, is located here:

Judging from the lengthy and numerous debates listed at the above sites, it would appear that Protestant and Catholic apologists grow most eager and energized when it comes to debating EACH OTHER, perhaps because in the end they suspect there can be only one Highlander. *smile*

And then there's that OTHER church, the one that's as old as Catholicism, the Orthodox church, that was created as a result of the biggest split in Christendom, i.e., back when the head of the Christians in the western half of the Roman Empire excommunicated all the Christians in the eastern half, and vice versa. Unfortunately English-speaking Orthodox apologists are rarer than either Protestant or Catholic apologists on the web, since they come out of Greece and Russia, less prosperous nations that still don't have as much web-presence yet. I can't wait till they do, and the argument becomes a three-way. Though I should add that Franky Schaeffer--the son of Reformed Protestant apologist, Francis Schaeffer--converted to Orthodoxy and has written glowingly of his new faith and critiqued the foibles and follies of his father's "Evangelicalism" in a few theology books and semi-autobiographical novels.

But the current debate between Dave and James is hilarious (and reminds people like me why we became freethinkers). The verbiage between the two is growing enormous, but you don't have to read their replies to enjoy the caricatures of each other that each has posted at their respective Christian websites. Dave also felt inspired (by heaven knows what) to compose a few poetic verses lampooning James's views. Meanwhile, James White's oldest sister recently converted to Catholicism. Though James can point in return to the fact that in South America and Hispanic North America, the Catholic majority continues to leave Catholicism for Protestant and Pentecostal denominations.

The debate and circumstances are also personally hilarious to me because James White sought me out 20 years ago, sending me photocopies of some of his earliest articles to try and reconvert me (back when I was publishing Theistic Evolutionists' Forum), and Dave sought me out last year to debate me concerning a small piece I had written on the psalms. So I have grown to know and love both of them.

CHRISTIAN CARICATURING CHRISTIAN (The same thing happened during the Reformation when the Protestants printed pictures of the Pope as a devilish looking "Anti-Christ," and Catholics reviled Luther and other Protestant leaders).

CATHOLIC APOLOGIST, Dave Armstrong, lampooning both Martin Luther and James White in CARTOON form and in VERSE:

Caricature (animated gif) of Martin Luther speaking angrily:
From :

Caricature of James White (as the Pope):

Caricature of James White (on a soapbox with a large beam in his eye):

Caricature of James White in verse:


PROTESTANT APOLOGIST, James White (Protestant apologist), lampooning Dave Armstrong in CARTOON form:

Caricature of Dave:

Dave's response:

More "Fun With Dave Armstrong" by another Protestant apologist who has exchanged loads of words with Dave.

STEVE RAY (Protestant friend of James White): Last evening I sat in the Coming Home Network chat room (I was informed I just missed Mrs. Bonds’ presence in the same chat room [Mrs. Bonds being James's older sister who had recently converted to Catholicism]) and watched as Dave Armstrong, Phil Porvaznik, and others, engaged in the same kind of diatribe. Every aspect of my personality was attacked and impugned. Interestingly, when I came back under a nick they would recognize, all was sweetness and light. The hypocrisy was almost too much to take.

A tip of the hat to Dave the Catholic apologist for writing about "The Wickedness of Christian Division, Anti-Catholicism, & Anti-Protestantism" Though he does not yet see how the Bible and various Christian traditions (coupled with primate blind trust in alpha male leadership, and religious indoctrination at a young age), are all helping to perpetuate such "wicked divisions" round the world.

Neither has the possession of the world's only alleged "God-revealled book of truth and instructions," coupled with "regenerate hearts and Jesus living inside them," and, the "Holy Spirit leading them into all truth," helped Christians avoid a history of divisions and weird branching evolutions too numerous to mention.

Dave and James each have blogs were you may leave comments for them:
Edward T. Babinski (author of Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists)

Steven Carr said...

One other form of ad hominem is to say that because a person believes A, it is evidence against A, if a person also believes B, where B contradicts A.

People do often have contradictory beliefs, but saying that somebody believes B is no evidence against that person's arguments for A, even if B is a total contradiction of A.

This is ad hominem, because you are referring to a person's beliefs , rather than address his arguments.

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