Wednesday, September 26, 2012

U2, Loftus?

John Loftus is to arguments against Christianity what Ronald McDonald is to hamburgers.  The quality may not be very high, but given mass-production techniques, the quantity is unprecedented.  Maybe that's what his cowboy hat is all about -- like Colonel Sander's beard, or Ronald McDonald's clown costume.  Billions and billions served! 

"Thousands and thousands
This morning he's come up with a new one: the "You Too, Fallacy."  The tomato is oozing off of the bun, and the hamburger patty is off-center, and the katsup machine misfired -- in short, the argument is a bit of a mess. I'm not even sure whether John is saying I commit the fallacy, or that I criticize someone else for committing it -- so feel free to read it for yourself.  Loftus also objects when someone points out that his own faith of Secular Humanism fails his "Outsider Test for Faith," far more callamitously than Christianity does.  But this morning, the matters Loftus has on his mind are the "Problem of Pain," and the use of so-called "faith-based reasoning."  (Here's where I embrace the U2 fallacy with open arms -- atheists do and must think by means of faith, and without faith, cannot reason.  All reasoning is based on faith, in the Christian sense, as Descartes and the latest Matrix film show with equal clarity.  Unless you trust your mind, you cannot reason. Unless you trust your senses and other people, for good reasons, of course, as the Bible demands, you cannot use reasoning to learn much of anything.)

Anyway, here's my brief (cross-posted) response:

You're all over the board, here, John. Did you drink too much coffee last night? Or was it some other chemical? 

C. S. Lewis very clearly states that the Problem of Pain is a problem for theists, not for atheists. He puts it in black and white, couldn't be more direct. Since you don't bother to even quote Lewis in that post where you accuse him of this so-called "you, too fallacy" -- which you really should do, if you want to call his argument "asinine," and quote him accurately and in context, too -- let's just call this the "blogging in bed, too lazy to get up and pick up a book" informal fallacy.

An informal fallacy? 

One would think all that coffee would eventually MAKE you get up.

As for the "U2" fallacy, it's a great rock band, but when did it become a fallacy? How is asking you -- repeatedly, ad nauseum -- to live up to just a few of the intellectual standards you impose on Christians, unfair, cruel or some sort of a humans rights violation? Sure, atheism and theism are different beliefs, and therefore arguments that tell against one may not always tell against the other -- they are not exactly symmetrical. But both theists and atheists are human, and many of your gimmicks would tell against your beliefs far better than against Christianity (like the "Outsider Test for Faith"), if you would only drink less coffee and listen to more good quasi-Christian rock.


Southern Anglican said...

Yes. It is a fallacy to point out where your opponent is inconsistent.

How convenient.

cl said...

"John Loftus is to arguments against Christianity what Ronald McDonald is to hamburgers. The quality may not be very high, but given mass-production techniques, the quantity is unprecedented."

LOLOL! Right on.

Cristofer Urlaub said...

Mr. Marshall, I do have some disagreements with Loftus, but you watch how you talk about that hat! ;)

David B Marshall said...

I consider myself duly warned.

Tony Lloyd said...

I've got to agree with both you and John here. The C. S. Lewis argument cited doesn't commit the Tu Quoque fallacy and it is utterly asinine.

"How do you know a line is crooked without having some knowledge of what a straight line is?”

Lewis, firstly, confuses the existence of a truth with knowledge of that truth. A particular bugbear of mine but probably secondary to the fact that you can tell all sorts of things without one of these "absolute standards" that people keep screaming for.

So how can you tell if a line isn't straight? Drive three stakes into the line. Look along them. If you can see all three at once then you do not have a straight line. No ruler necessary (how do you think the Romans built all those straight roads?).

The Kelvin temperature scale measures temperatures from absolute zero. Does it work? Yes. Does absolute zero exist? No.

Is the earth a perfect sphere? No. Is there a perfect sphere to compare it to? No.

Whilst by no means perfect are you, John and I better chaps than Hitler? Yes. Is that judgement made by comparing us to a prefect chap (or perfectly horrible chap)? No: we compare to each other.

Is there a Perfect Rock Band? No (and it's certainly not U[expletive]2) but some rock bands are better than others. Some things bluer than others with no "perfect blue", some things hotter than others with no ultimate standard of heat, some noises louder....

David B Marshall said...

Well, I'm not sure it's possible to reason with someone who hates U2. And I don't make much use of the Moral Argument, myself -- there are better people for that.

But in Lewis' defense, by looking down the sight line of three pegs, you show that you already DO have "some idea of a straight line," and are judging the actual line by that Platonic ideal. That's why you're looking. True, with lines that doesn't mean there needs to be any actual configuration of marks that "line up" perfectly.

Similiarly, the Earth does give us "some idea" of a sphere, and a pretty good idea, too.

Whether that implies anything about morals, one can't of course tell by plucking a single sentence out of Lewis' book, and pretending that was the whole argument. Since I don't have the whole book, oddly enough, unless you provide more context, I don't think we're in a position at the moment to say anything at all about the success of his argument.