The Real Issue

by Robert Kunda

I spend a bit of time on the Christian Apologetics Alliance Facebook page. It’s a place for people to discuss Christianity and apologetics. Overall it’s a good experience. I’m surrounded by a bunch of people sharper than I am (as if that were a high ladder to climb), as well as some thoughtful atheists and skeptics. One of the challenges, though, in posting there is trying to discern if someone asking a question is really asking a question, seeking dialogue, or actually trying to refute some element of Christianity—or, if the poster is merely a troll that thinks Christians are Jerry Springer (does he still have a show) guests that are amusement and fun for the mocking. I’m near convinced that trolls like that make up the majority of posters when it comes to all things religion. Whilst the thoughtful skeptic is a breath of fresh aid, the norm is not such as this. And what do most of these folks trumpet? They love the ‘New Atheists,’ and they ‘argue’ accordingly. For a good description on how this works, I refer you to a recent blog post by Ed Feser:

Argumentum ad Himmlerum

Step 1: Launch an unhinged, fallacious attack on your opponent, focusing your attention on arguments he has never given.

Step 2: Studiously ignore the arguments he actually has given.

Step 3: Declare victory and exchange high fives with your fellow New Atheists, as they congratulate you for your brilliance and erudition.

Step 4: When your opponent calls attention to this farcical procedure, accuse him of making unhinged, fallacious attacks on you….

Step 5: Exchange further high fives with your fellow New Atheists.

Step 6: Repeat 1 – 5 until your disconnect from reality is complete.

Feser goes on to detail what prompted his post, but I think his overall summary is applicable to more than just the example he gives, as he points out. We see this in a lot of the New Atheists. Just consider the debates William Lane Craig​ has done with some of the leading New Atheists like Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and the almost-debate with Richard Dawkins (side note: consider that Dawkins has been unwilling to defend even his own books). While only some of the examples that could be presented, in formal debates on “The Existence of God” little or no arguments are ever given to actually argue for there being no God by the people that dedicate their professional careers to maligning people that affirm there is one. And consider that many of the Christian arguments go unchallenged, either by refusal to engage the actual argument overtly, or passively by misunderstanding the argument (either by intent or ignorance) and instead refuting straw men.

Most of the attention in these debates (and careers) is spent instead drawing attention to how evil religious people are (Hitchens) or how stupid they are (Dawkins), and all seem to focus on how evil, wicked, unjust, unloving, etc., God is…

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