Vox Day has an interesting strategy for dealing with hostile facts. Step one: make a pretense of agreeing with the truth, so as to give what follows an air of impartiality. Step two: introduce some kind of fallacious or erroneous quibble, so as to make it sound like you’re presenting the other side of the argument. And step three: pile on a huge stack of well-documented but irrelevant facts so as to make it sound like you’re proving your point. There’s no step four, because all that really matters is creating the impression that you’ve refuted step one, and if steps two and three don’t do that for you, you’re probably dealing with someone who is unreasonably biased in favor of objective truth, and you shouldn’t waste your time trying to convince them.
We’re in the last section of Chapter 12 of TIA, in which Vox tries to deny the charge that Aztec human sacrifices is an example of religion leading to a needless loss of human life. Here he is giving us Step One of the three-step tactic.
If one looks at the history of the world, there are two facts which no reasonable man can deny: first, that people do bad things, and second, that religion has been central to people’s lives for as long as history has been recorded. The centrality of religion in past societies means that it has been a mechanism for an amount of these bad things people have done, which occasionally makes it appear that religion is the source of the evil behavior.
Despite the weasel-words (“occasionally makes it appear that religion is the source…”), this is a fair concession that religion and violence do go hand-in-hand at times, and that, far from being an irrelevant fantasy that has nothing to do with how people behave, religion is actually central to many people’s lives and how they live them. Halfway through the second sentence of this section, however, we’re already easing our way into Step Two.