Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Fundamentalist Argument Clinic. Part 1: Introduction

STOP PRESS 24/12/10: Network Norwich and Norfolk appear to have censored the thread that is the subject of this blog post. I had prepared for this not unexpected eventuality by copying the entire thread and will in due course be presenting it on this blog . NN&N appear to delete forum material regardless of whether or not it breaks their house rules; in fact in this particular connection I saw no violation of the house rules. The underlying and unarticulated policy seems to be one of suppressing contention. Thus my policy is to keep a close watch on NN&N and grab the gems as soon as they make an appearance. This material is too precious to leave in the hands of those who find themselves under pressure to censor it. (Note: The thread seems to have reappeared recently!)

This discussion thread on the local Christian website Network Norwich & Norfolk is noteworthy for reasons that I hope will become clear. I have copied the comments of the main protagonists and I will be reproducing them on this blog over the next few posts. The creator of the thread is someone who signs in as “g.s.” - I shall call him GS. GS is a fundamentalist. He appears to be unwilling or unable to sustain a reasoned argument over more that two or three sentences and instead engages in strong but bald assertions and accusations of wrong doing against God. He is a man of few words, a kind of evangelical terminator who well earns the term “Godbot”. A couple of sensible commentators attempted to redeem the thread from what was basically a cesspit of intellectual debauchery, but to no avail – I will not be publishing their particular comments as the thread is unworthy of their contributions.

The key to understanding the Christian fundamentalist approach to reasoning is their concept of the Holy Spirit. The fundamentalist may make a token effort to back up his assertions with appeals to his proprietary interpretation of the Bible, but in the final analysis the fundamentalist has a low view of reasoning of any kind regardless of whether or not such reasoning employs Biblical references. In fact, as I have said, in the extreme case of GS supporting argument is almost completely absent (even absent of the use of Biblical references). What inclines the Christian fundamentalist to a low view of reasoning is that he believes the Holy Spirit is arguing for the truth of his bald assertions in the privacy of the nonbeliever’s heart. Thus, the fundamentalist is released from the work of arguing – he can just assert his conclusions and leave the rest up to the Holy Spirit if needs be. He can walk out after he has dropped his slanderous spiritual bombshells knowing that those who don’t agree with him are in complete darkness, have bad consciences and at worst are knowingly blaspheming the Holy Spirit. This not only relieves the fundamentalist of the responsibility of making reasonable representations, but it also gives him license to abuse his antagonists with spiritual insults; to him those antagonists must have heard the promptings of the Holy Spirit in their hearts and therefore must be disobeying God. It also allows the fundamentalist to condemn those he has never met or listened to: “If you are not with us you are against us. If you are against us you are against God”; “It’s our way or the blasphemous way”. As with the Islamic Jihadists the world beyond their legalistic sectarian community is thought of as a Satanic domain of war, conflict and contention upon which God’s judgment rests; the fundamentalist therefore has a prerogative to despise it. The tactic of exploiting the name of the Holy Spirit to underwrite a form of gnosto-fideism is common to the whole of the Christian fundamentalist scene – from the wacko charismatic sects through the Mormons and JW’s, to the traditional strict and particular evangelicals, they are all quite capable of asserting black is white if they believe the Holy Spirit is testifying to it!

Anyway, without further ado let me set the scene by reproducing the first two entries of the thread in question. (See italics below) I have added my comments in non-italics underneath the entries. Just one note of caution: The contributor GS has proved such a caricature of fundamentalism that there has been some doubt as to whether he is real or just a troll. I have reason to believe he is the genuine article, but draw your own conclusion.

Believing in evolution is blasphemy against God
To observe the great creation of which we are a part, and then to attribute that to evolution, is a vile form of blasphemy against God.
g.s. (Guest) 04/11/2010 11:10

So we’re off to a flying start, straight in with an accusation of blasphemy, the worst sin any one can commit. Too dull to be subtle GS can’t work up to it in stages but presses the nuclear button right away. Fundamentalist spiritual insults, especially directed toward Christian evolutionists, don’t come much stronger than this. Interesting to note that he conflates “evolution” with the whole of creation and not just biological change. But what makes this thread really notable is the comment that now follows:

geocentric believer (Guest) 04/11/2010 17:22  
You are a hypocrite g.s. How can you claim to be following the word of God when you don't believe the Earth to be stationary?

Wahey! This is going to be exciting! Looks like we’ve got a fundamentalist vs. fundamentalist death match on our hands. Fundamentalists often have huge egos – they will both be assured that the Holy Spirit is especially on their side and this will lead to a classic “immoveable object meeting the irresistible force” altercation.

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