That’s one way to do itOctober 28, 2007 — Deacon Duncan
Anthony Horvath has an 1100-word-plus response to my last post, in which he still cannot give any kind of explanation for why he thought Watson would “not fare very well” if he “were to go evangelizing in Africa today,” or why he thought Watson’s remarks were “putting your foot in it,” or what he thought Watson’s remark had to do with “[raising] awareness of the fact that scientists are people just like the rest of us and there is no reason to believe that they are especially more logical or rational than anyone else… or more ethical.” [Update] Or why he originally thought it was “terribly ironic that Darwinists have been defending themselves from the charge that evolutionary theory does not provide a basis for racism and here we have Watson doing just that,” or why he thought he was being called a racist when I pointed out that he was essentially agreeing with Watson. [/update] He claims (now!) that it was never his intention to portray Watson as having said anything amiss, but his recent arguments seem to studiously avoid any attempt to explain the real (revised?) meaning of what he originally did say about Watson being an example of scientists lacking ethical reliability.
Meanwhile, though the bulk of my post was about the absence of God and its effect on the possibility of Christian morality, he makes only a passing mention of its existence, dismissing it as a nonspecific “…rant?” and making no attempt whatsoever to deal with the issues it raises. Instead, he spends his entire post trying to spin my comments into something plausibly culpable. Somewhere, somehow, I must have done something wrong. My first reaction was to shrug. After all, I’m of no real importance, and if it makes him feel better to accuse me, that’s fine. But on further reflection, I realized that there was something very interesting about his reaction.
Remember, Horvath is an apologist. He sells this stuff for money. When confronted with a detailed counter to his claims that secular ethics are “borrowed capital” from Christian ethics, however, he responds with a long witch-huntish post trying to find some error I’ve committed or some way in which I’ve treated him wrong. This may very well be no coincidence. If I’m the bad guy, you see, then he’s justified in simply dismissing my argument without even looking at it. It’s a classic ad hominem fallacy. God-based ethics are a non-starter in a world where God does not literally show up, so instead of confronting my evidence, he tries to disqualify it on the grounds that I’m flawed.
If this were merely a quirk of Horvath’s, we could shrug it off as unimportant. But it isn’t. Look up the word “Darwinism” or “Darwinist” in Google, and you’ll see that Christians thrive on taking this approach to such issues. Horvath’s original post was a case in point: an attempt to discredit secular evidence by arguing for the moral inadequacy of secular authorities. He had no specific evidence to discredit, he did not even raise any particular issue to examine in the light of the evidence, it was just a generic attempt to persuade people to have even less regard for scientific opinions than they do now.
Psychosocially, I suppose, it’s an effective technique. But I can’t say I admire it.
PS — I think it’s fairly obvious that Horvath is just groping for excuses to accuse me, but if anyone thinks he has a legitimate issue, let me know in the comments and I’ll be happy to address your concerns.