Do You Want to be A Christian Apologist? Part 12

I'm doing a series of posts dealing with the way recognized Christian apologists defend their faith. I'll number them and tag them all with the phrase "Christian Apologetics" so you can have a link to them in reverse chronological order. So, let's say you want to be a Christian apologist, someone who defends the Christian faith. Then what must you do? The twelfth thing you must do is: Feign ignorance as to what a given skeptical argument is by requiring a syllogism before you will take it seriously. The goal here is to prove to yourself that you are smarter than a given atheist, and if you can prove this to yourself, then the given argument he makes isn't any better. The unspecified premise is that someone who isn't as smart as you could not defend the argument, so it doesn't need to be taken seriously. *Cough* I have met with this kind of elitism far too often that I need to highlight one apologist who recently did this named Calum Miller, on Facebook. [While this 12th thing is similar to the 1st thing apologists do, it is not the same].



Here is his "About" page on Facebook. He describes himself further in these words: "Charismatic Protestant with sympathies for RC and Orthodoxy. Agnostic on most issues (Calvinism/Arminianism/Universalism) but on the liberal end of conservative evangelicalism."

Now for our discussion.

Calum:

John, I have read some of your blog material, and I was disappointed with how many poor inferences, unevidenced assertions and insubstantial critiques were in there. If you can promise me that your book backs up its claims with *valid* arguments with plausible premises, then I will be happy to read it.


John:

Along with others I had pointed him to my books. Colin Murphy said, "I doubt any critic of Christianity knows it as well as John W. Loftus. Read his book WIBA. I have yet to hear an adequate rebuttal, mainly because he goes after every type of Christianity at every turn. There's really nowhere to hide."

Calum:

In fact, instead of book-promoting, let's just simplify everything and take an argument from the book to discuss. Does someone want to provide a logically valid argument here with plausibly true premises (and obviously a significant conclusion) which we can discuss?...John, could you provide an argument here, like I asked for?

John:

I linked to this post about the Black Death Plague and said, "Do the syllogism yourself." I added that "any answer you could offer in response to the problem of suffering, I have already answered it here.

Calum:

John, if I presented to you a few paragraphs of writing, none of which seemed to resemble a particularly watertight argument, and which, near the end, proclaimed triumphantly that Christianity is true and atheism is irrational, would you consider it reasonable of me to tell you to "do the syllogism yourself"?

John:

You're boring Calum, but okay:
If God is perfectly good, all knowing, and all powerful, then the issue of why there is so much suffering in the world requires an explanation. The reason is that a perfectly good God would be opposed to it, an all-powerful God would be capable of eliminating it, and an all-knowing God would know what to do about it.

So, the extent of intense suffering in the world means for the theist that: either God is not powerful enough to eliminate it, or God does not care enough to eliminate it, or God is just not smart enough to know what to do about it. The stubborn fact of intense suffering in the world means that something is wrong with God’s ability, or his goodness, or his knowledge.

Calum:

Thanks, John. I don't go to university to become exciting; I do it to find out more about truth, and to improve my understanding of how to arrive at truth. You're boring and somewhat dim, so it's good that there is some mutual feeling here. Aside from the odd insult, let's take a look at your argument:

Your argument doesn't really seem to me to utilise any standard rule of inference. Your conclusion seems to be that "something is wrong with God's ability, or his goodness, or his knowledge." Your premise seems to be that "a perfectly good God would be opposed to it, an all-powerful God would be capable of eliminating it, and an all-knowing God would know what to do about it". It surprises me that you make this argument, because you said you had taken a logic class in 8th grade or something equally impressive. But, as is quite obvious from anyone who has studied any logic at any level, this argument is not logically valid. So it does not really fit the criteria I asked for. Do you want to try reasoning again, or do you want to continue to lament the poor reasoning abilities of Christians, in a grand episode of pots calling kettles black?

John:

Calum, you are hopeless. I do not argue much here at Facebook. I do so on my blog. I'm done with you.

-----

Calum wanted something more than what I gave him. Until I provide it he doesn't have to consider how he might explain "why there is so much suffering in the world." I offered syllogistic reasoning without a syllogism, yet that wasn't enough. Unless my syllogistic reasoning leads to a conclusion whereby God doesn't exist, then it can be dismissed by him.

He is feigning ignorance as to what the argument from suffering is so he doesn't have to answer it. The unspecified premise in my reasoning is obvious. My claim is that Christian apologists cannot explain "why there is so much suffering in the world." But no, Calum doesn't get it. Right? He's much more interested in showing he's smarter than I am, and having proved to himself that he is, he doesn't need to consider my arguments. But in so doing he proved the exact opposite. Since he could not connect the dots, since he feigned ignorance about the argument itself, he proved he was ignorant. Anyone who could not understand my argument without a syllogism is ignorant.

*Sheesh* Do whatever it takes wannabe apologists, whatever it takes. Prove to yourself you're smarter than others. If you can do that, then you can also conclude people like me don't know enough to challenge your beliefs, without actually dealing with our real arguments.

Make yourself like a greased pig and run around 
the backyard asking us to catch you.
For Calum this was an exercise in who is smarter. The syllogism looks like this:

  1. If I can prove myself smarter than an atheist then I don't have to consider his arguments.
  2. I can prove myself smarter than an atheist.
  3. Therefore, I don't have to consider his arguments.

This is an elitism that misunderstands what I'm doing. I am writing for educated people in the pew, for college students, for honest people of faith, not for the professional Christian philosopher, or wannabe Christian philosophers like Calum, whose idols are other Christian philosophers who do the same. In fact, I like to frustrate people like Calum, I really do. I refuse to play this head game of his. By not playing this game it appears quite obvious to others that he's playing a game. I'm reminded of Jesus' supposed words here: "Though seeing they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand." I let apologists like Calum reveal exactly what they are doing. Only people who are honest, who are willing to see, can see it. He cannot. That's why I say people like him have a virus of the mind, a delusion. He needs help.

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