AiG: You Got This One Right!

I like feeling good, and it feels good to think that I am right.  And when I think I am right I want everyone to agree with me.  True, I do appreciate strong and challenging arguments, but at the end of the day it is nice to be able to settle in with people who share my position on the issues that I spend so much time thinking about.

As much as we hate to admit it, our emotions play a role in our perception and certainly in our rhetoric.  The question is not whether or not it is there, but how much is there and how it plays out.

While I have been critical in regard to Answers in Genesis (AiG) and specifically in regard to Dr. Jason Lisle, I think that he is dead center in his argument regarding emotion.  In his post on the Fallacy of the Question-Begging Epithet, he talks about how some people use emotionally charged content in a seemingly intellectual discussion, which in essence serves by undercutting the character of the other person.

There certainly are people on both sides of any argument who use this strategy, so we all may have something to learn.  However, many are quite aware of this as an issue and I appreciate when they do temper their own emotion when they are holding a conversation on something that they are obviously passionate about.

Unfortunately, as an illustration, Dr. Lisle used a cartoon that definitely appears to include a characterization of PZ Myers who lead the trip to the Creation Museum last month.  Admittedly, I would agree about some of Myers’ tactics, but using such an example is in some ways engaging the epithet itself.

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About Aaron Gardner

Aaron is a counselor and student of the Bible, passionate about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. He lives in central Indiana with his wife, one-year-old son and their two dogs. View all posts by Aaron Gardner

19 responses to “AiG: You Got This One Right!

  • morsec0de

    AiG is upset for the simple reason that PZ (and others) don’t give them the respect they think they deserve. So yes, PZ does make fun of them. And call them names. But he does so while also completely dismantalling their arguments.

  • Shamelessly Atheist

    Is it just me, or does the cartoon version of PZ look nothing like his real self?

  • Nathaniel

    Funny how they have no problem satirizing PZ, but still (in a deliberately satirizing comic) take themselves absolutely seriously. At least PZ doesn’t think his theories are the end-all, be-all of modern science.

    Yes, PZ can be very harsh and is very outspoken about those he criticizes, but he usually has very good reason for it as well. Just take the recent batches of “reviews” back and forth between himself and two people who wrote a book where the specifically and personally criticized PZ. Even though he deliberately avoided even responding to the arguments against himself, his opponents kept baiting him along.

    I don’t claim he’s a victim, but I’m saying that people like Lisle play the victim card a bit too often, and a bit too loudly. Science is not always nice and fair, it’s sometimes brutally honest and cutthroat. If creationists want to be taken seriously, they have to get in the game for real. They can’t just stand on the outside and complain that the big boys aren’t letting them play. In science, the equivalence of throwing down is presenting large bodies of evidence that completely eviscerates previous science. Until creationism can do that, they shouldn’t even be near the field, as far as I’m concerned.

    I’m sorry, I’m ranting.

  • Sabio Lantz

    Odd that all Lisle’s accusations of misuse of logic, language and rhetoric is leveled against one group. And then the beautiful touching off with emotionally-empty scripture quoting ! (Irony — it is great rhetoric)

  • Aaron

    @ Nathaniel

    That is the perception isn’t it? Very astute!

    @ Sabio

    I agree that it is interesting to use some of those same tactics in making his case. However, he does also acknowledge that there are at least times when that is unavoidable. In this case, it may be just that, because in making his case and giving an example would indeed have that implied use of the tactic he is challenging.

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Aaron – sorry, I did not follow you.

  • Shamelessly Atheist

    Aaron, if he is ‘acknowledging’ that there are times when quoting scripture (that we atheists do not recognize as authoritative) is unavoidable (if that’s what you meant – I’m with Sabio; it’s unclear), I would consider that the last refuge of a scoundrel. If one can not get their point across with logic and reason and must invoke something like scripture, that is tantamount to acknowledging that their argument is without support.

  • Aaron

    Oh, I was specifically talking about using emotional language and tactics to make a point, and specifically how the cartoon is emotionally charged, even as an example.

    It does also beg the question about the emotional use of Scripture in debate of this nature. The trouble is that for Dr. Lisle, Scripture is his authority, so to eliminate that from the cards it is difficult for him to have a position at all. (And I saw this will full knowledge that no only is AiG’s position constructed on only one interpretation of the Genesis story, but there is much represented that is not in the biblical account in an attempt to make it make literal sense.)

    The statement he makes in this video, if I am representing it correctly, is that knowledge is made possible by the Bible, so for him there is no difference between quoting Scripture and using reason. This poses quite the rift in having discussions about this topic, does it not?

  • Boz

    Aaron, do you agree with the article when it says:

    ““To be a creationist, you’d have to ignore tons of scientific evidence.”
    This remark is the fallacy of the question-begging epithet because it uses biased language (and not logic) to suggest that scientific evidence supports evolution.

  • Aaron

    Well, let’s say that as a young earth creationist, I am sure that Dr. Lisle believes that this statement is true. It seems that creationists believe that they also have evidence for their position, which is one reason that they raise the issue about teaching it, etc.

    In particular, I would agree that the notion of “tons of evidence” sounds like a hyperbole to me. There may be more professional ways to make that statement without the exaggeration.

  • RBH

    One reason there tends to be a good deal of ridicule from those defending science is that we have seen the same specious arguments for years, with no recognition of the counter-arguments. I’ve been reading creationist materials since the mid-1980s, have seen every major argument rebutted by scientists, and yet I still read the same tired arguments as though there had been no rebuttal. Eventually one reaches the limits of one’s patience and merely points and laughs at the next instance of the same tired canards.

  • Aaron

    @ RBH

    Well said and well heard! I hope that this could be said more often, not that the creationists would hear it, but at least the “ridicule” could be used in context. It kind of reminds me of a child who is not getting positive reinforcement from parents, so opts to act-out to get the negative attention.

  • Renier

    You cannot reason with the unreasonable. People who rape science and then tells the world that they have science on their side should be ridiculed for the fools they are. Being nice to them is not going to make them stop trying to indoctrinate people (and children) with their lies. Besides, they will take offence no matter how rebuttals to their lies are worded and presented. They will always cuddle up to their pathetic persecution complex.

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Renier

    I get what you are feeling and there is much to it that is true.
    But I must say, that it is odd how people change beliefs. They usually need time while they reorganize. It may take years. Thus patient perseverance with kindness can pay off — but you are right, often it is wasted time. Hard to tell which is the best strategy. But I am convinced the choice of strategy depends on relationship and can not be decided in general.

    I use to be a psych counselor and still work with mentally ill patients occasionally. And I am reminded how when people who had huge psychotic breaks are brought back to sanity, they thank you for how kindly you treated them during their out-of-control delusional state — they actually remember.

  • Renier

    Hi Sabio.

    If ones make an argument that we should treat YEC’s the way we treat mentally ill patients, then they will be offended 🙂

    For me, personally, ridicule and blasphemy worked wonders on my once held idea that God takes such things serious. It took me a couple of tries before I could through Mark Twain’s Letters from the Earth.

    I generally give Bible Worshipping people a good chance while I try to remain civil. But after hearing the same falsehood repeated ad infinitum there is nothing more to do but laugh, for it is funny, in a sad way.

    Besides. If a person comes up to you in earnest and start going on about a talking snake in a garden… and some god-man had to die because some people listened to the snake… I must be evil, but damn, that’s funny, coming from a grown-up.

  • Aaron

    @ Sabio

    Thank you for your input! That is hitting the perverbial nail on the head. That is such a concern for me, that if we could somehow figure out how to talk to people (and have patience with people) that these percieved rifts would not seem so enormous and we may be able to journey down some roads together, not unlike what we have been doing in this forum 😉

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Aaron — yeah, you are obviously much more skilled at it than I. I error on the side of getting the point across, you error on the side of keeping things smooth. Both good skills, I guess, but I love learning skills I am poor at. So thanks !

  • Boz

    Aaron said:


    Well, let’s say that as a young earth creationist, I am sure that Dr. Lisle believes that this statement is true. It seems that creationists believe that they also have evidence for their position, which is one reason that they raise the issue about teaching it, etc.

    In particular, I would agree that the notion of “tons of evidence” sounds like a hyperbole to me. There may be more professional ways to make that statement without the exaggeration

    I agree that YEC’s are convinced of their position – that is easy to see.

    “tons of evidence” is not a hyperbole (deliberate and obvious exaggeration); there would be hundreds of thousands (millions?) of pages of published peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals presenting evidence for evolution.

    I agree that the quote is unprofessional, but it is not an exaggeration.

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