Thursday, May 10, 2007

Straw Men and Ad Homimem Attacks Do Not Make a Debate [Serge]

In the comments following Scott's post here, Bob Enyart challenged Scott to a debate on Theology online regarding pro-life strategy. Both Pastor Enyart as well as commenter james c have been given numerous chances to respond to Scott's post, and both have declined.

Jay has given some excellent responses that I don't think I can improve on, although I will add a few comments at the end:

James,

I appreciate your passion for this issue, but I caution that your comments have no spirit of debate. Why would anyone want to debate in a forum where one side is accusing the others of a failed strategy that you seem to hold responsible for all of the deaths by surgical abortion?

Point 1 - Bob claims in his literature that Dr. Dobson once held a position that he agreed with. Dr. Dobson amended his own tactics, to the displeasure of you and Bob. But why did he amend those tactics? You accuse him of falling away from the “Godly strategy” and into a heretical form of legal positivism. The moral debate over that position aside, I have yet to hear you articulate how that former position was yielding positive results prior to Dr. Dobson's apparent switch in strategy.

Point 2 –As you have yet to express your tactical plan, I can only assume that you champion the civil disobedience approach of Operation Rescue given your association with that organization. As Rescue has been active the entire time, how do you account for the failed advancement of the cause under those tactics. The incremental approach is only one tactic that is being used. Other tactics have either equally failed or equally share in the successes, of which you claim there are none.

You have yet to address the points that Scott made in a post that already exists. No need to wait until a formal debate to articulate your position beyond accusing others of miserable failure and laying the entire body count of abortion on those who are fighting in a manner that you disapprove. It is not constructive and it fails to intellectually address any point of stated contention. It will be much easier to assess and understand your claims that Scott is all wrong and that you and Pastor Enyart champion superior tactics when you present your actual positions.
Also read Jay's other comment, which is excellent and is only omitted here for the sake of brevity.

Ad hominem arguments are one's that do not address the points that have been made, but instead attempt to paint one's opponent in as poor light as possible. Unfortunately, it seems that this is the tactic that both Bob and James have chosen to use in their interactions here. Furthermore, it is instructive to check out this page regarding the rules at Theology Online
4. Thou SHALL NOT call other TOL members names without cause. Appropriately identifying the wicked is not only allowed but encouraged.
One should always be able to make their argument based on the substance and not having to resort to name calling of any sort. The fact that this is not only tolerated but encouraged by this forum says a lot about it. Furthermore, "identifying the wicked" by name calling is a very interesting Christian concept. As human beings affected by sin, we are all in a sense "wicked". Identifying each other as such may be accurate but I'm not sure that what they are talking about. Human beings also have views and ideas that, in themselves, are wicked. It is very important to identify and refute such views, but that is most effectively done by confronting them and using evidence and logic to challenge them. Name calling is not only not necessary, but is often fallacious.

Scott is his own man, but agreeing to debate an individual who seems reluctant to respond logically regarding the points that we have already addressed, and is prone to misrepresenting his opponents views and encouraging "name calling" in their forum, would not be fruitful. Maybe I will be defined as wicked by that forum, and those members will be encouraged to call me names identifying me as such, but I am committed to the search for truth. I sincerely hope they are also, and welcome more interaction on this forum with them.

5 comments:

  1. Did Jesus ever call people names in the Bible? How many times?

    Does God call people names in the Bible?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Not very persuasive, James. Jesus wasn't calling people names to score debate points, like Bob does. He was pronouncing eternal judgement on wicked individuals which He, as the omniscient Lord of the Universe, has every right to do.

    Now, unless you want to say your man Bob has that same authority, I don't think your appeal to Jesus in this case makes much sense.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It was just two questions for you and Serge to consider Scott.

    SK said, "Jesus wasn't calling people names to score debate points, like Bob does."

    Is this an ad hominem attack on Bob to score debate points Scott?

    At the very least, it is quite an accusation and it seems pretty presumptuous on your part to assume you know his motives.

    And how do you know Bob calls people names to score debate points? You've witnessed this and know you know his motives?

    I don't think it is very Christian to go around slinging out names at everyone, but occasionally, in prayer for God's wisdom, could there be any benefit to calling someone a name like Jesus, our Father God and the Prophets have done, other than to "pronounce eternal judgment?" Say, to stigmatize an unhealthy behavior? You wouldn't need to be God to do that and you could actually help that person to see their sin and turn to the Lord. I've seen it happen. Christ did it, when he often insulted the Scribes, the Pharisees, Lawyers and the general public; “Blind Guides, Sons of Hell, Satan, Hypocrite (used 23 times in the gospels), Your Father the Devil, Swine.” But you condemn His followers for not being nicer than Him?

    Interesting Scott, in what other ways would you and / or Serge have us not follow Christ’s example?

    ReplyDelete
  4. James, when Enyart directly says pro-life leaders have deliberately misled people on PBA, how does he know that? That's a very strong claim to which he provides no proof. Even if they were mistaken about impact of the PBA bill (yes, some did overstate their joy), he has no way of knowing their true motives in promoting a ban.

    Again, had Bob simply said, "hey folks, this ruling does nothing good for pro-lifers," I would still disagree, but that's a whole lot more defensible than judging the thoughts and motives of people he can't possible read.

    That's where, in this case, Bob goes awry with his judgements.

    ReplyDelete
  5. James,

    Quotes from Bob's G v. C piece:(CAPS ARE MY COMMENTS INSERTED)

    "Throughout the 15 years that millions of Christian pro-lifers supported this effort, many, if not most, were led to believe that this PBA ban was going to outlaw all late-term abortions.(EVIDENCE PLEASE) The responsibility for that flow of misinformation and the wasted years, money, and blood, lies squarely with our local and national pro-life ministries, our "conservative" media personalities, and our Christian and pro-life leaders."
    (OTHER PRO-LIFERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR FAILING TO END ABORTION BECAUSE WE FAILED TO FOLLOW WHAT BETTER CONCEIVED STRATEGY? OH, THAT PART IS MISSING.)


    "Our pro-life and Christian leaders have turned the wicked humanist values of moral relativism and legal positivism into the greatest obligation of government."
    (THIS COMES AFTER A SEGMENT ON SCALIA THAT DOES NOTHING TO BUILD A CASE FOR THIS STATEMENT. IT DOES DRAG SOME PEOPLE THROUGH THE MUD WITHOUT SPECIFIC CHARGES SUPPORTED BY EVIDENCE.)

    "the error of regulating murder is not only evident in the ill-conceived PBA ban, but in every example of compromised incrementalism where "pro-life" laws further erode the personhood of the child by concluding with the meaning, "and then you can kill the baby.".(IS THIS SUPPOSED TO BE A FAIR REPRESENTATION OF THE INCREMENTALIST APPROACH? I CERTAINLY UNDERSTAND WHY BOB DOES NOT LIKE IT IF THIS IS HOW HE DEFINES IT.) The "conservative" Supreme Court justices are NOT "moving toward life" as our leaders claim. Rather, the pro-life campaign around the ban, and now around its ruling, is instead a public relations ploy to convince pro-lifers that our ministry leaders are effective and worthy to receive continued donations and support."
    (THAT SURE DOES APPEAR TO BE A DECLARATION OF VERY NEFARIOUS MOTIVES WITHOUT A SHRED OF EVIDENCE.)

    Thank you,
    Jay

    ReplyDelete

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