Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Ad Hominem Argumentation (With Outer Space Update Added)
01/04/2005 - James WhiteFirst, Patrick reminded me that I did not include the single worst sub-title from Hahn's book on Mary, "Fetal Attraction." Yes, that one takes the prize.
A quick refresher for all those who seem to be easily confused about forms of argumentation. At the moment a fairly small group of folks are filling up the blogosphere with the constant assertion that I have engaged in ad hominem argumentation in my reviews of Armstrong's book, mainly because I have concluded sections by noting Armstrong's inability to seriously engage the topic at hand (i.e., provide meaningful exegesis). Now, Mr. Armstrong may not like that I have pointed this out. Evidently, it is not allowable in our society to point out when someone provides shallow, errant, and generally worthless argumentation in a written form: seemingly this is particularly the case when that writing appears in a religious context, for whatever anyone writes about religion is equally good with whatever anyone else writes about religion, or so we are told. In any case, Mr. Armstrong may not like the fact that I have concluded that he is not able to handle the information he claims to present in his book, but let us be very clear on one thing: that is not ad hominem argumentation. It is not, in fact, argumentation at all.
If I began my review by saying, "Dave Armstong has funny hair, therefore, what he claims about the Bible is in error," that would be an obviously logical fallacy. The shape, color, texture, or even presence, of DA's hair, is irrelevant to his claims and arguments. Or if I said, "Dave Armstrong has offended me by his language in the past, therefore, his arguments are in error," once again, a clear logical error exists. But as anyone can see, this is not the nature of my arguments in response to Armstrong. Nowhere have I presented Mr. Armstrong's exegetical inabilities as the substance of my argument: I have documented his errors, and made this the substance of my argument. I have stated his position, examined it, found it wanting, and, in the process, observed that when he is forced to attempt to deal with specifically exegetical material, he is out of his depth. He has as much as admitted this himself. So why am I reading page after page of accusations of how mean and nasty I am for reviewing Armstrong's book?
Most importantly, if one will take the time to look over the following materials, here and here, one will find an amazing thing: no Roman Catholic in this material, to this point in time, has even attempted to respond to the substance of my reviews. None. If my material is so poor, why not respond to it? Instead, all I am reading (and the comments keep piling up) is about how persecuted Dave is. To call this a "melt-down" is to engage in understatement to an absurd degree.
UPDATE: Sorry, if all you've been reading is what has appeared here, then the following will seem like it was beamed in from the Delta Quadrant:
You can think I am a hypocrite or a coward or whatever you want. Join the crowd. It doesn't concern me. People continue to read my material, and there are conversions as a result (I hear about them all the time; I have one in my mailbox right now). Bottom line; this is a large reason for the anti-Catholic hostility towards me. I have an effective ministry, and have helped convince many dozens of Protestants to convert to Catholicism (even though I am never pushy with regard to any particular individual; I just let my writing "do the talking" and persuasion). The anti-Catholics have been unable to defeat my arguments with Scripture, history, and reason, and so they have made a concerted effort to attack my person. It will only backfire. And they will continue to make fools of themselves, as they are currently doing, with all their ludicrous assertions and idiotic speculations about why I stopped interacting with White and other anti-Catholic anti-intellectual fundamentalists.