Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Schumacher responds (still stupid)

the stupid! it burns! Robin Schumacher, the author of the burningly stupid post that I recently criticized, responds to my criticism. Here's his comment in full:
Hello Larry –

Let me see what I can do to address your concerns.

First, no I did not provide sources for my quotations. Reference usage many times depends on the vehicle being used for communication. It is perfectly acceptable for various informal articles and news stories to contain quotes without references, and given this is a personal blog entry and not something like an academic journal article, I didn’t provide references.

However, since you would like them, let me see what I can for you. The story of the professor (Dr. Carlson) and biologist is referenced in Dr. Norman Geisler’s (the former head of my seminary) book, “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist”, page 163.

The Huxley quote appears on that same page in Dr. Geisler’s book and is footnoted in the Notes appendix. However, this may be insufficient for you. Perhaps a quote from his younger brother Aldous – who sports the same position for rejecting God – will suffice (From Ends and Means, 1969, pp. 270, 273): “I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; consequently assumed it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption....The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics; he is also concerned to prove there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom”. Let me know if you would like me to swap the quotes.

The George Klein quote comes from his book “The Atheist and the Holy City: Encounters and Reflections”, page 203.

My Nagel quote is not out of context whatsoever. Of course the statement was made in regard to his fear of religion. That’s pretty much my point.

My primary argument in the blog post that you say fails to meet the high school test boils down to two positions: (1) Atheists reject God because of the rebellious will that we all (including myself) have and they look for any rationale to reject God’s moral commands - something that has strong Biblical support; (2) Scientism-driven atheists reject God because of their a priori commitment to philosophical naturalism, a point that the quotes in the article aptly demonstrate. I’m sorry it wasn’t framed more to your satisfaction.

Lastly, as to me being a fool… In the same way the Apostle Paul defines fool in the worldly sense, I can be called a fool (cf. 1 Cor. 1:21; 4:10). However, I am not a fool in the Christian sense: “The fool has said in his heart. ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1). What kind of fool are you, Larry?

A suggestion: in the future, rather than resort to character assassination and ad hominem attacks, why not respectfully and calmly ask for references that are absent in an article or clarification of a position? I find it amusing you attack me for supposedly not living up to a particular standard while you violate a very basic one yourself.

I hope this helps and I appreciate your suggested corrections. God bless.



Your excuse that personal blog posts don't require sourcing references is without merit. We can excuse the lack of citation in a non-academic context only when there is no serious controversy over the accuracy of the quotation. I don't demand full MLA or APA references, but if you're going to use someone's words to make an argument, it is incumbent on you to at least point vaguely to the primary source.

Norman Geisler does not appear to be a reliable secondary source. He has on at least one occasion misrepresented a quotation. Additionally, I asked for the Huxley quote, and you apparently have a secondary source available (Geisler's I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist) which you assert points to the primary source, but you fail to provide it. Curious. Finally, I've requested Klein's book; I assure you I'll be checking whether you have taken this quotation out of context.

As to Nagel, you are using his words to establish the cause of his atheism. That he is afraid of religion does not establish, as you assert, that this fear is the cause of his atheism. You are not just "missing a step", you are misrepresenting the intended meaning of the quotation.

The Aldous Huxley quotation doesn't help your argument; Huxley is a writer, not a scientist, and even for a writer he's kind of weird. Remember, one of my criticisms of your post was that you did not cite contemporary scientists to support your thesis about the cause of contemporary scientists' disproportionate atheism. Neither Aldous nor Julian Huxley are contemporary scientists.

As to your essay overall, it is hardly surprising that you consider your arguments persuasive; if you did not, you would not have made them. And it is hardly surprising that I consider my criticism persuasive and you do not. These are issues each individual reader will have to determine for herself.

Finally, you apparently did not read my conclusion. I've been dealing with bullshit, lies, quote mining, and egregiously fallacious arguments for more than a decade. I've lost my patience for superficial politeness. Your suggestions are unnecessary.

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