I talked about it briefly before when discussing Leah Libresco's rejection of The Case For Christ but I thought I would develop it a bit more in response to some recent comments. They both follow very similar lines and have very similar problems. Here are a few:
- They both start by dismissing all the evidence that points to the current theory. Not for any good reason but simply because it points to that theory. So biblical and extra-biblical sources are not to be trusted on matters of history. That means any document that supports the bible. In the same way evolutionary propaganda should not be taken seriously. That means any scientist who argues in favor of evolution.
- Frequently declare that there is no evidence for the theory. Of course you mean no evidence that you didn't exclude in step #1. So a creationist will say there is no evidence for evolution without actually declaring that he know about lots of evidence and just does not feel it meets his standard. In the same way a skeptic will declare there is no evidence for the resurrection without saying it is because he does not count the bible or the early church or any other writers that might have been influenced by Christians.
- They subtly suggest a conspiracy without really suggesting it. There is something to this. There is a tendency even among experts to be unduly influenced by the standard way of thinking on a matter. Pretend the other side has this problem and your side does not. In fact, suggest the problem is so bad that you can safely ignore many of the worlds leading experts on the topic. So experts in biblical history are ignored because they are Christians. Experts in evolution are ignored because they believe in evolution.
- Appeal to matters of faith a lot. Make statements like, "We don't have to reject the bible based on this lame theory" or "We don't have to believe the bible based on this lame theory." It commits the fallacy of a false dichotomy. That is accepting all of atheism or all of fundamentalism. You not only connect logical questions that could be evaluated independently but you also inject a lot of emotion into the discussion.
- Complain a lot about the other side being anti-Christian or anti-reason. Make sure to question their motives and declare your motives to be pure.
- When somebody is arguing too strongly always remember the response, "Were you there?" Were you there when the dinosaurs walked the earth? Were you there at Jesus' grave on Easter morning? This forces your opponent back to first principles and having to explain why we have any confidence at all in historical research or archeological research.
- Never explain anything. Always sit back and shoot at the other person's theory and demand impossible standards of proof. But don't make any serious attempt to explain the data with your own theory. How did Christianity change the world based on miracles that never happened and stories that are obvious legend? Who knows? How did the fossil record get like it got? Who knows? Or God did it, which amounts to the same thing.