Monday, July 4, 2011

FacePalm of the Day #98 - Debunking Christianity: More Straw Man Arguments, This Time by David Marshall

Well, John Loftus is at it again.  This time he turns his attention to David Marshall and accuses him of using straw men to argue against the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF). Let's just see who is using straw men arguments.

Christianity can only be defended by blind ignorance involving so many informal fallacies it can make one's head spin. Case in point today is David Marshall, a nice guy and budding scholar who has written a few books. I guess he was feeling left out since I have been highlighting these things with other Christian scholars. Now it's time to turn my attention to him. ;-)

Funny, how Loftus starts a post against using straw men arguments with a straw man argument.  No where in the post does he explain how Marshall or anyone else  is blindly ignorant or even what Marshall is blindly ignorant about. Maybe this will get better,

When Christian apologists argue against us they are so blinded by their delusion they must argue against Straw Man versions of our arguments. You would think that someone who has read a lot of what I've written about the OTF wouldn't misread it so badly, but he did, when he said:
But the OTF asks us to adopt a perspective outside of Western culture.
Guess not. I wonder if this means that Loftus is backing off of his often asserted and blindly ignorant concept that where you are born determines your religious belief - even in the face of many counter examples! I have heard Loftus in debate and on this blog say that the only reason one is a christian if because one is raised up in it and if anyone of us were raised Muslims we would be Muslims. Also a citation for when and where Marshall said this would be nice.

Based on this false understanding he goes one to say
But all outside perspectives are also biased in different ways. It's a useful suggestion on John's part, but one shouldn't talk about an "outsider" perspective in the abstract, and then just ignore what's actually out there. For instance, John talks about the fact that almost everyone in Saudi Arabia is a Muslim. Yeah, well, if you convert, you might get drowned in your uncles swimming pool! Or tortured by the police! So generally, John can debunk Christianity all he likes; but when the talks about outside tests, we need to look outside.

He still doesn't get it and it cannot be my fault. The OTF is not asking a believer to step outside of his or her particular culture. This should be quite obvious unless he actually thinks that those of us who are no longer believers have entered into a different culture. We are still westerners because we were raised as westerners. The only thing we rejected were our culturally inherited religious beliefs. I submit to you that one can stay a westerner with the same values other westerners share, like using the English language, the love of family, a materialistic mentality, the importance of democracy, embracing the due process of a secular law, and so forth, and leave his or her faith behind. Ex-Christians who leave their faith are doing this on a daily basis.

I don't think that Marshall is making that argument at all. If he was, then Loftus should have picked a better citation. I don't think Marshall is trying to say that Westerners who give up being Christians  give up being Westerners. But I guess that means that Loftus no longer thinks that religious affiliation is always determined by culture. I would argue that without Christianity, a Westerner has no basis or grounding for the values and morals we like to associate with Western culture, but that they can still inconsistently hold them. I also find it interesting that Loftus chose to list "using the English language, the love of family, a materialistic mentality, the importance of democracy, embracing the due process of a secular law, and so forth,"  as values that define Western morality as if no one from non-western traditions would hold these. 

The OTF merely asks believers to examine their own religious faith with the same standard used when examining the other faiths they reject.

Sure would actually like to see Loftus demonstrate this. He hasn't. One of those standards is to accurately examine what a Christian believes and not something made up. Just look at what he thinks faith is for an example. Definitive straw man argumentation.

So it is false, utterly false, to suggest that Muslims inside a totalitarian state with a thought police that punishes thought crimes is a relevant criticism of the OTF. Just because it is politically impossible to declare oneself a non-believer in one of these cultures does not render the OTF false or minimize the need for it. He's surely right that it would make it very difficult, but he's merely pointing to political realities as if they have a bearing on epistemological ones. They don't, not at all, not a chance.

Considering how badly John Loftus butchers what the Bible says, I don't trust his reading of what Marshall has said or what Marsahll meant. References and citations go a long way to understand what Loftus is talking about. I think one problem with Loftus' approach is again that you can't evaluate a religion from outside of it if you don't know what the religion holds.

Debunking Christianity: More Straw Man Arguments, This Time by David Marshall
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