Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Examining an intellectual microcosm: how Christians get suckered

Victor Reppert recently made a short but thought-provoking post about utilitarianism. But what's really interesting isn't Victor's post, but what happened in the span of the debate.

I think the OP made a pretty good point about utilitarian thinking, one that cut to the bone and put utilitarianism (and its defenders) in an awkward spot. The comment thread is now over 50 comments long... but the topic is no longer about utilitarianism.

It's about God.

Here's something I've seen happen over and over: a theist makes an argument, or a criticism of atheist or popular secular reasoning. It happens to be strong. Atheists realize - well, THIS conversation can't be won. So they immediately try to change the topic. The best bet: criticizing God, or the religion of the people involved in the discussion, especially if it has nothing to do with the topic at hand. And it's the best bet because inevitably someone decides that they have to defend each and every slight against Christ or God or Catholicism or Protestantism or what have you, and before you know it the topic is no longer the weakness of a given atheist or secular claim, but Christianity or (worse) Christian in-fighting.

In a word, they get suckered. They go from focusing on a failing of an atheist or secular claim to being on defense. And the worst part is, they think they're helping their cause. After all, look at them - they're defending Christianity or Catholicism or whatnot!

Except, sometimes the appropriate thing to say is 'Your criticisms of God are irrelevant here. We're talking about another subject, and it stands or falls regardless of the truth of God's existence, or your views of His moral character.'

The person who never lets an opportunity to argue against a certain topic slide is killing themselves in terms of effectiveness, because they're broadcasting the fact that whenever a conversation is not going the way their critics like, there's an obvious and immediate out available.

11 comments:

BenYachov said...

I jumped in with the "God is not a moral agent" & my Theistic Personalism sucks meme to bitch slap the POE.

Hopefully PL will be inspired to learn more Thomism.

I repeated my standard A Game Argument verbatim from three years ago. I see no reason to re-invent the wheel.

BenYachov said...

>Except, sometimes the appropriate thing to say is 'Your criticisms of God are irrelevant here. We're talking about another subject, and it stands or falls regardless of the truth of God's existence, or your views of His moral character.'

That is a good point but you know sometimes threads get hijacked. I know I jack them a lot. My answer to the Problem of Evil is ancient and elegant(well it's not MINE I didn't come up with it I just use it).

Your arguments presuppose X. But God is not X therefore X therefor Y can't be applied.

As for trying to get a united front among Christians vs Atheist that IMHO is often like hurdling cats.

But that doesn't mean it isn't something to strive for.

Crude said...

It's not as if I'm offering myself up as the champion debater who always knows what's right - I make my mistakes too. The problem is, that is now a very good thread to observe what not to do when discussing things. You can note the precise moment at which the conversation changes. An yes, sometimes threads get hijacked, but - especially on a low-traffic blog like that - it takes a good amount of cooperation.

BenYachov said...

I also jack the thread if I find something else more interesting and as you say other comply.

Anyway I just put up two posts after spanking Skept to put it back on track.

Cheers.

Crude said...

It's not a big deal, Ben. As I said - small blog. But it's a good microcosm to observe things in, because I see this happening on larger scales too.

lotharlorraine said...

I don't think it is a specifically atheistic problem but an all too human tendency·

It is very rare that people admit either defeat or having no good response.

Most of the time they either

1) leave the debate
2) deflect it towards topics where they feel strong and capable of beating the opponent.

It is entirely true that militant atheists (and religious fundamentalists) follow this treacherous strategy much more often than the general population.

They don't want to find truth but to win an ideological war.

Otherwise Crude, I just responded to a vicious attack against both of us.

http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/on-the-delusion-of-crude-and-lotharson-a-response-to-tildeb/

I am sure you might be interested to participate in the discussion.
If Tildeb decides to answer, it is pretty likely he will give you a nice illustration of the principle you have described in this post :-)


Lovely greetings from Europe.

Crude said...

Ugh. He does it -in- the post. He's accusing us of attacking things we didn't criticize, and is just an example of deluded thinking in general.

Oh well. Fun I suppose.

RD Miksa said...

Hello Crude,

Not to "plug" my own blog, but I commented on your post here:

http://idontgiveadamnapologetics.blogspot.ca/2014/02/external-link-crude-rabbit-trails.html

Anyway, just thought that you might be interested.

Take care,

RD Miksa

Crude said...

RD,

Plug away. In fact I'll add you to my blogroll! I'll have a look.

RD Miksa said...

Crude,

Thank you very much. Very greatly appreciated!

RD Miksa

The Famous Brett Watson said...

As for trying to get a united front among Christians vs Atheist that IMHO is often like hurdling cats. -- BenYachov

As in, inevitably someone steps on one instead of leaping gracefully over it, and it's all downhill from there.

Poor kitties. Cat hurdling had better not be a thing. I'm not going to Google it.