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Old 05-03-2001, 09:16 PM   #61
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Part 3 of 3.

NOMAD: From Webster's.com:

Main Entry: fal·la·cious
Function: adjective
1 : embodying a fallacy
2 : tending to deceive or mislead

You did this in spades Earl. So the next time, before you try to bore us with semantics, make sure you are on solid ground. Your argument embraced a fallacy. It might even have been intended to deceive or mislead. Your accusation that Christians do something simply because I did something certainly qualifies under that banner.

So, don't go digging any more holes for yourself to crawl out of Earl.

EARL: What hole? You don't understand the meaning of the word "fallacious," Nomad. You've shown that beyond a doubt now. The second point of the definition you gave points to the word's root, "fallere," or "deceive." This shows the difference between any old error and a fallacy. The two terms are NOT equivalent. And you've been kind enough to give me more evidence that shows that you don't understand this point. Nomad says (my emphasis) "It MIGHT even have been intended to deceive or mislead." Oops. By definition (the root word), the thrust of the word "fallacy" is that for a falsehood to be one it MUST be caused by defective/misleading/deceptive reasoning. Yet Nomad thinks my "fallacy" just MIGHT be caused by deception. Nomad simply doesn't understand the difference between a factual error and an error caused by deceptive reason, a fallacy. Worse yet, Nomad seems to think that the deception involved in the use of a fallacy is "intended." There's nothing whatsoever necessarily intentionally deceptive about the use of a fallacy. The deceptiveness involved in fallacious arguments is not in the proponent's intention, but in the twisted and misleading proof offered. The proponent herself is usually "deceived" or misled by this defective reasoning, which is why she puts forward the fallacy in the first place.

And of course, I've already cleared up Nomad's mountain made out of a mole hill. Contrary to Nomad's typical misrepresentation, I never stated that because Nomad did something therefore all Christians do it. What I did was to fail to state fully my reason for generalizing about Christians, namely my debates with some other Christians. In any case--and this is so obvious that I'm embarrassed now to have to say it--this molehill of mine had absolutely nothing to do with the statements of mine Nomad said were fallacious. Perhaps the deception involved in my molehill was magically transferred to my "fallacies" made elsewhere in the post, thus fulfilling the second part of Webster's definition according to Nomad's deeply impoverished understanding of this definition. Similarly it might help Nomad's case that I lied to my mother years ago about stealing a cookie from the cookie jar. All we have to do is transfer that deception to some of the statements I made in this thread, and presto: a "fallacy" is constructed. Here's the recipe, then, of the Nomadian use of "fallacy: one part unrelated deception or one part intentional deception, and one part mere factual error. Here, though, for those interested is the recipe for "fallacy" as understood by logicians: one part falsehood with the necessary additional ingredient of a defective/misleading/ "deceptive" reasoning procedure, or proof.



NOMAD: Oh, and when ya'll go for your dictionaries:

Main Entry: fal·la·cy
Function: noun
1 a obsolete {snip}
2 a : a false or mistaken idea <popular fallacies> b : erroneous character : ERRONEOUSNESS
3 : an often plausible argument using false or invalid inference

I'm guessing you replied before thinking Earl. Otherwise you would not have been so hasty to accuse me of something without understanding that I had, in fact, labled you correctly.

[SNIP]

EARL: Yes, Nomad, a fallacy involves the quality of erroneousness. But that doesn't make the word equivalent to "error," as if any single kind of error can properly be called a fallacy. Look at the root of the word to determine its thrust: "fallere" or "deceive." This refers to the way certain defective (non-truth preserving) reasoning practices can beguile and mislead us. A fallacy is an error that has the deceptive appearance of being correct, because of the twisted proof offered in support of the false idea. A fallacy is not just any old false idea but one supported by defective reasoning. These defective procedures go by the names given to the informal fallacies, such as "special pleading." My statement that scientists are not emotionally attached to the theory of evolution, for example, is an empirical question of fact, and if wrong would NOT be fallacious. Likewise, were someone to mistype your phone number into her record or misremember your address and go to the wrong house, the person would NOT be guilty of fallacious reasoning. Such counter-examples show unmistakably that, contrary to Nomad, the word "fallacy" is not equivalent to the word "error." A fallacy is an error of a specific kind, namely one supported by twisted logic.

You are getting free lessons in logic and semantics here, Nomad. I hope you learn from this and in the future research terms before you use them. I would like nothing better than for Christians and everyone else to study logic and the fallacies. Much needless debate could then probably be avoided.



NOMAD: See how you are still committing this fallacy? How do non-Christian scholars have a stake in the existence or non-existence of Jesus?

EARL: They don't, which is why I (1) didn't over-generalize and talk about all bible scholars, and (2) didn't commit the genetic fallacy and claim that the Christian scholars are biased and that therefore Jesus did not exist. All I did was point out that Christian scholars have an EXTRA stake in believing that Jesus existed which evolutionists lack, because Christians usually claim explicitly to have some personal, emotional connection to and trust in Jesus. Evolutionists lack this connection to the natural forces that select certain species under certain conditions. As I said, I was careful to stop short of saying that the Christian scholar's faith impedes her rational judgment and that therefore we should doubt that Jesus existed. My point in this thread was only to refute Layman's comparison not to defend mythicism itself. I had no intention of arguing that Jesus didn't exist. All I argued is that Creationists and mythicists are significantly dissimilar because their opponents are so. Evolutionists lack faith in evolution whereas Christian bible scholars, who I contend form most of the consensus in favour of Jesus' existence (this is an empirical question and not even potentially a fallacy), do possess faith in and strong feelings for Jesus. That's simply a very stubborn difference in the way evolutionists and bible scholars treat their opposition. For Christian bible scholars, the matter is personal.



NOMAD: How can you claim that they have a motive that is not tied to the honest pursuit of historical truth?

EARL: I never claimed this. This is your misrepresentation that seems to imply that I've committed the genetic fallacy. I've explained in detail why I haven't committed that fallacy. I said the Christian scholars have an EXTRA incentive BESIDES their critical faculties for believing that Jesus existed. I didn't speculate as to how much the former might impede the latter. I didn't discuss the matter and therefore did not commit the genetic fallacy.



NOMAD: Further, how can you know that Christian scholars are not actually interested in the honest answer to this question, and will pursue it with integrity? Then tell us how you came to know this.

EARL: Again, I never claimed to know this. You have demonstrably misrepresented my position. I was talking about the difference between evolutionists and the majority of bible scholars (who I claim are likely Christian), not the truth of mythicism. I have not defended mythicism anywhere in this thread. I have, rather, attacked Layman's comparison between mythicism and Creationism. The failure of this comparison could, of course, be used to support mythicism but only in a very general sense. The conclusion would be that mythicism is not as bad as Creationism. That would hardly make mythicism true.



EARL: Since I stopped short of using this as evidence of something's truth or falsity, I did NOT commit the genetic fallacy.

NOMAD: You made a truth statement that is false. You claimed that Christian scholars are affected by their Christianity in pursuing this question. You cannot prove this, and further, you have failed to demonstrate at all that they reached their conclusions in any manner that is different from the non-Christian scholars.

EARL: And here Nomad simply gives the game away and makes my job as easy as can be. Nomad unmistakably, right before our very eyes equates "fallacy" and making a "false" statement, as if any old error or falsehood can be called a fallacy. Nomad unbelievably makes this error even though he quoted the root of the word "fallacy." Does Nomad think that every time someone makes "a truth statement that is false" the person has engaged in "deception," the root meaning of "fallacy"? If not, then Nomad should know that "fallacy" and "false statement" cannot be equated.



NOMAD: Don't do it again.

EARL: Yes sir. Heil Hitler.



NOMAD (initially quoting a scholar I cited regarding the nature of the genetic fallacy): "But if reasons for belief are USED AS THOUGH (emphasis in original) they are reasons for truth, this has been recognized for most of the history of logic as an informal fallacy, the "genetic fallacy," in which the origin or the cause of a proposition is taken to have some bearing on its truth. It doesn't."

Not wanting to get too deep into semantic quibbles here Earl, but you really didn't see yourself do this did you?

How sad.

You BELIEVE that Christian scholars are impaired from pursuing the historical Jesus because they believe that He is God. You cannot prove this, and since the conclusions drawn by Christian scholars is identical to those drawn by non-Christian scholars on the essentials of this question (i.e. Jesus lived, taught, died) your claim fails completely. In other words, what you believe to be the truth is not the truth, but you still believe that it is the truth.

EARL: Here Nomad makes such a startling mistake that I'm loathe to admit I feel genuine pity for him. Nomad has badly failed to understand the scholar's comment he and I provide. Why did the scholar (Kelley Ross) highlight the words "used as though"? Evidently for Nomad the reason is connected to why Nomad highlighted "believe" in his charge against me that I "believe" that Christian scholars are impaired and can't form a neutral judgment regarding Jesus' existence. I've already pointed out Nomad's misrepresentation on this point, but now I want to demonstrate once again using this new, astounding evidence that Nomad utterly and completely fails to understand the meaning of the term "genetic fallacy." In a nutshell, Nomad apparently thinks the fallacy is committed when someone uses the mere existence of her own belief as evidence of the truth or falsity of something. This is at least the only way I can think of to explain why Nomad highlighted "believe" in his charge against me, without showing at all how I specifically committed the genetic fallacy.

The nature of the genetic fallacy is easy enough to understand. The fallacy consists of the confusion between a proposition's cause and its justification. The source of a proposition is logically irrelevant to its justification or truth status. The source is, rather, just an irrelevant circumstance (at least in most contexts). So, for example, if I was brought up to believe that 2 + 2 = 100, the source of my belief in this equation's truth could not be used as evidence of the equation's truth or its falsity for that matter. The cause of my belief in the equation is logically independent of the equation's truth status. This is what Kelley Ross meant when he (or she?) said, "There is a difference between a reason why something is believed (ratio credentis, an explanation) and a reason why something is true (ratio veritatis, a justification)….But if reasons for belief are used as though they are reasons for truth, this has been recognized for most of the history of logic as an informal fallacy, the "genetic fallacy."" Ross is talking about the difference between the contingent circumstances, such as someone's place of birth, that cause someone to form a belief, and the belief's logical justification or truth status. A "reason" or cause of a belief is not the same as a reason for the truth of something. A belief's source is different from its justification.

So in order for me to have committed the genetic fallacy I would had to have argued that the cause of the Christian scholar's belief in Jesus' existence, being entirely or at least infected by her religious faith and perceived personal relationship with Jesus (neither of which I claimed, Nomad's misrepresentation notwithstanding), is itself evidence of the falsity of the belief in Jesus' existence. I nowhere made this claim. Not once. Neither did I make the much stranger claim that the cause (or as Nomad seems to put it, the mere existence) of MY belief that Christian scholars are biased is itself some sort of justification for accepting mythicism.

And yet amazingly, shockingly, outrageously Nomad appears--someone please correct me if I'm wrong--to believe that my genetic fallacy consists of the use of the mere existence of my (false) "belief" that Christian scholars are biased "as though" this belief were itself a reason for its truth and the truth of mythicism. Although this is a disastrous misunderstanding of the genetic fallacy, I can see no more charitable interpretation of Nomad's claim that one of my statements satisfied Ross' definition of the genetic fallacy ("if reasons for belief are USED AS THOUGH they are reasons for truth," this is the genetic fallacy), together with Nomad's bizarre highlighting of "believe" in his charge against me that "You [Earl] BELIEVE that Christian scholars are impaired from pursuing the historical Jesus because they believe that He is God." What on Earth as it is in heaven does my "BELIEF" regarding the bias of Christian scholars (assuming I said these scholars are biased, which I did not) have to do with the genetic fallacy, which is about the confusion between the CAUSE or SOURCE of a belief as though it were the belief's logical justification? If I've so blatantly committed the genetic fallacy, Nomad should easily be able to state how I've made this confusion. Yes even though Nomad has apparently and very strangely asserted that my genetic fallacy is in regard to MY OWN belief rather than that of the Christian bible scholars, Nomad hasn't said anything about the SOURCE of my belief being used as its justification. He seems to think that the mere holding of this false belief of mine in spite of the existence of non-Christian bible scholars who accept Jesus' existence as historical amounts to the genetic fallacy. Thus Nomad ignores the all-important clause in Ross' definition regarding the confusion between the belief's cause or source and its rational proof or the reason for the belief's truth.

To finish up, Nomad offers a very feeble explanation as to how I've committed the genetic fallacy, revealing once again Nomad's confusion between an error and a fallacy. Nomad says "In other words, what you believe to be the truth is not the truth, but you still believe that it is the truth." Yet this is merely a definition of the act of holding a false belief. Since not all false beliefs are held fallaciously, the thrust of the word "fallacy" involving "deception" or misleading reasoning procedures, Nomad's definition here CANNOT be one of "fallacy." In summary, Nomad has given us more evidence of his ignorance of logical, skeptical terminology perhaps than even we would have wanted to possess.



NOMAD: Try not to do these semantic quibbles with me again please.

EARL: Do you know what the word "quibble" means, Nomad? A quibble is a shifting of focus onto an irrelevant matter in order to avoid dealing with the main issue. So to determine if my explanation of the meaning of the term "genetic fallacy" was a quibble, all we have to do is backtrack a little and see who brought up what and when. In Nomad's first reply to my reply to Layman, Nomad accused me of making a "fallacious claim" (Nomad's words: "The second reason Earl's argument fails is that he makes the fallacious claim that people believe Jesus existed largely because their religion requires them to do this, namely Christianity.") So Nomad was the first to bring up the question of fallacies. I then replied to this accusation by explaining that I did not at least commit the genetic fallacy. This was the only fallacy I could think of that my opponent could accuse me of. After all, Nomad was not kind enough actually to state how my reasoning was defective. Instead he pointed out that my claim is merely false, as if "falsehood" were equivalent to "fallacy." And now Nomad calls my explanation of the term "genetic fallacy" a "semantic quibble." Nomad apparently doesn't understand the meaning of the term "quibble" either. I haven't made any distraction away from an important issue. I've simply replied to your accusation that I committed a fallacy.



EARL: What percentage of bible scholars would Nomad say is non-Christian? The majority? I should think not.

NOMAD: Who knows Earl. Your fallacy is not rooted in numbers. It is rooted in an uprovable (and unfallisfiable) assertion that Christian scholars cannot pursue the historical Jesus with the same level of objectivity as the non-Christian scholar.

Try this... the concensus amongst historians that have studied the question of Jesus' historicity have reached a consensus because the evidence is convincing, and convincing to the point that it is accepted as an historical fact. That would account for the consensus far better than your speculations on the question.

EARL: My "fallacy" is rooted only in Nomad's imagination. And here we go again. Nomad tries to sound skeptical by using the term "unfalsifiable." Has he used the term correctly? Aside from the fact that Nomad has once again resorted to misrepresentation (I never discussed in this thread whether the Christian bible scholar's perceived emotional relationship with Jesus interferes with her study of the evidence for Jesus' existence, nor did I try to "account for the consensus," but said only that the faith-based relationship amounts to an ADDED incentive for the Christian bible scholar to reject mythicism out of hand, an incentive lacking on the part of evolutionists), this claim that Nomad imputes to me is hardly in principle untestable. One way to falsify it would be to test the heart rate and other physiological signs of Christian and non-Christian bible scholars as they are presented with mythicist theories or negative pictures of Jesus to see if there is a difference in the intensity of their reaction. Another way would be to see how willing and for how long the two sets of bible scholars would entertain the notion that Jesus did not exist. How important is the belief in Jesus' existence to the sets of scholars? Equally important? How much does the religious faith of the one set cloud these scholars' judgment? How about setting up a device that reads the minds of the Christian scholars to determine how often they have pious thoughts as they purport to be writing a neutral history of Jesus?



NOMAD: While I don't doubt that you actually believe this, I would suggest that you open your eyes Earl. Human beings have a powerful vested interest in their opinions, and scholars in a particular area of expertise are especially prone to this. If you don't think that scientists are emotionally committed to evolution (and rightly so in my opinion) put them in a debate with a committed YECer, and watch what happens. It is not a pretty sight.

EARL: Ok, so why do evolutionists sometimes get emotional when refuting Creationists? Is the only possible answer that the evolutionists are emotionally connected to the theory of evolution itself? Hardly. First off, I note Nomad's (and Layman's too) strawman attack, as if I ever said scientists never get emotional when defending evolution or that scientists are like the unemotional Vulcans from Star Trek. I said only that they have no emotional attachment to evolution, not that scientists have no emotions or that they show no emotions when refuting Creationism. There is an obvious difference between these two propositions.

Here is a short list of alternative reasons why scientists might get emotional when refuting Creationists. (1) Scientists are likely emotionally attached to the scientific method and the practical advantages this has given us through technology. Since the Creationists pretend to be scientific but in fact misuse scientific principles, Creationists give science a bad name and damage the reputation of science in popular "postmodern" opinion. A scientist's anger at this could come out in a debate with a Creationist. (2) Scientists are likely offended by the influence Creationists have in making social policy, the harmful laws they want passed, such as the right to teach Creationism to young people as though Creationism were science. (3) Scientists are likely offended by the Creationists' indoctrination of the children to whom they have access, depriving the future scientific enterprise of much needed working scientists.

And here's the important point. None of these emotional connections (or others I could think of) serve as a parallel to the perceived emotional connection Christian bible scholars admittedly have with Jesus. An emotional reaction from a scientist need not be explained in terms of an emotional attachment to evolution itself, whereas Christian scholars explicitly claim to have an emotional reaction to the very object of their study, Jesus. They affirm their faith in Jesus' continuing existence, his divinity, his all-important personal and loving impact on their lives. None of this is present in scientists' attitude towards evolution. Indeed, it would be senseless to speak of such a thing. Surely this makes for a major difference between Christian bible scholars and scientists, and therefore between Creationism and mythicism, according to Layman's points of comparison.



NOMAD: This is a clever bit of word play as well, and I just wanted to draw attention to it.

Scientists are not emotionally attached to natural forces. They are, however, emotionally attached to the theory called Evolution. The difference is crucial, and I am surprised that Earl didn't realize it... until now.

EARL: Wordplay? What's the parallel to the object of the Christian scholars' emotional reaction, the theory of evolution or that which justifies the theory, evolution itself? Do Christian scholars have feelings for the theory that Jesus existed or for Jesus himself? The answer is the latter. They are emotionally attached to the person of Jesus, not to their books about Jesus. They have faith not in the theory that Jesus existed but in the person of Jesus himself, that which causes their theories about Jesus to be true, namely Jesus' actual existence. Likewise, if there were to be a parallel scientists would have to be emotionally attached not to the theory of evolution but to that which causes evolution, the set of natural forces that justifies the theory.



NOMAD: Thanks Earl, but next time, please try not to be both excessively verbose, and excessively wrong in the same post. Replying to this kind of stuff takes a long time, and if you could sum up your arguments in briefer points, we could save a lot of time.

EARL: My obligation is not to save your time. It's to refute your arguments to the best of my ability, and in this case to expose the emptiness of your strategy to sound like a skeptic by using skeptical terminology, such as your references to evolution and the fallacies. This I have done.

 
Old 05-03-2001, 11:25 PM   #62
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Here we go again. Earl is going to bury us in a mountain of bullshit, then accuse me of making mountains out of molehills. The irony really is rich.

At the same time, I am not going to inflict as much damage on the braincells of the viewers of this thread as you do Earl. I guess you think that nothing that can be said in 20 words shouldn’t be said in 2000, then live by the rule, but the howls of protest you proclaim don’t really need quite so much verbage in response. So, three posts in one, let’s get started:

PART 1:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Earl:

EARL: And as usual I take your increasing sarcasm, arrogance, and all around abuse as sure signs that you've run out of answers on the subject. So far from demonstrating that you do understand the meaning of the words "fallacy," "special pleading," "genetic fallacy," "begging the question," and "metaphysical extraordinariness" you have given ample evidence in your last post that you still don't have a clue. So I repeat: leave the skeptical terminology to skeptics and stick to Christian arguments, until you research those terms and understand them. Stop throwing around terms of logic and science as if you knew what they meant. </font>
So what we see here, folks, is an admission that Earl is engaged in a pure semantic debate. Cool. Let’s do it, and when we’re done, everyone’s eyes can glaze over and we can go home and hang ourselves.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Although I haven't remotely obeyed Nomad by writing a brief reply, I will make the following compromise. This will be my last major post in this thread. After this I will not respond to your reply point by point. I will give you the last word and let the reader judge. </font>
Let’s hope so.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> EARL: They [Christians] usually fail to understand the skeptical arguments.

NOMAD: Since this statement is sufficiently qualified, it actually doesn't say anything at all. It sure looked like it did at the outset though, didn't it?

EARL: Oh, but I substantiated that statement by showing throughout the post that you, Nomad, are apparently one of the Christians who doesn't understand the terminology often used by skeptics. So I was saying something after all.
</font>
Ah, but you see Earl? You weren’t really saying anything, because if had responded to your first statement, you could have just as easily slipped away and said “didn’t you notice how I said USUALLY? This means I did not say always, so why are you misrepresenting me like this?”

See how well I have learned how you mind works Earl? You didn’t say anything, and covered your ass. This is cool. I just wanted to make sure anyone reading this noticed it too.

Alright, next point.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Here is a classic example of special pleading. The theist commits the fallacy when she says something that amounts to this: "We have to be very skeptical of the holy Scriptures from other religions, but trusting regarding the Scriptures of my own religion. We have to doubt the validity of the testimony regarding miracles in other religions, such as Mormonism, but not that of the testimony from my own religion." </font>
Doherty tells us that we must be sceptical of the interpretations of the Greek offered by all scholars except himself, but trusting of his own interpretations. We must doubt the validity of the testimony from other scholars regarding such interpretations (like what you see from the Biblical Scholarly community), but not the testimony for me, Doherty.

Don’t be so dense Earl (and not you Doherty, I apologize that this will look confusing because of the two Earls now here).

In any event, enough of Earl’s pathetic rants. I apologize that I had to subject everyone to this. I should have known that he was going to respond in so much depth, and say nothing at all through it all. I suppose we could boil Earl’s argument down to “it isn’t special pleading when I or those I am quoting do it, so don’t accuse me of doing this.”

Tough Earl. I still call spades spades.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> EARL: It wasn't exactly easy to find, since it's several months old. But I found it. See the thread "The Unfairness of Divine Revelation," found at The unfairness of divine revelation</font>
Don’t put dots in your URL links. They don’t work when you do that. I’ve fixed it so it will work now.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">{Snip my argument this time}

Earl: And Nomad goes on and on like this. Here's Bd's reply to Nomad's misrepresentation of skepticism regarding miracles (from Bd's September 05, 2000 12:59 AM post): "I didn't stack the deck, Nomad. The real world did, by stubbornly refusing to bring forth a single verifiable example of a miracle in my lifetime, to say the least. (And by verifiable, I mean verifiable according to "naive" standards which ignore the fact that miracles are, at best, exremely infrequent and that therefore any given alleged miracle is extremely unlikely. Otherwise the argument would be circular.)</font>
Since most miracles are singular events (actually all of them are), then of course they are going to be rare. The fact that many of us have never experienced one that we can identify as such does not invalidate them any more than claiming even an extremely unusual natural event has never happened to us. I have already conceded that the level of evidence required to prove a miracle is higher than for any natural event, so I am not even sure what your problem might be.

Now, don’t accuse me of misrepresenting you or sceptics every time I hold up the mirror and show you how they actually look. Once you see how unconvincing they really are it is no doubt hard to accept, but that will not stop me from holding up that mirror. With luck, some here will also see it, even if you refuse to do so.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> EARL: Does Nomad understand what it means to call something extraordinary in this philosophical sense? I think not. Something can be extraordinary only RELATIVE to something else. Thus the term EXTRA-ordinary.
NOMAD: Thanks for the tautology.
EARL: It was just a definition.</font>
And for all your grandstanding in the rest of the post, you never got beyond this point. You still think that there is nothing extraordinary about the theory of evolution. I am telling you that there is, and that no one alive understands all of its complexity. Once again I am going to refer you to Bede and PhysicsGuy (one Christian, one atheist, both scientists) and tell you to take it up with them. PhysicsGuy told us on these very boards that the acceptance of the theory requires years of technical training, and is not even close to intuitive, nor something we can or even should accept in an ordinary fashion.

I have also already TOLD you that an extraordinary amount of evidence is available to demonstrate the soundness of the theory, so it meets the required threshold.

The Law of Gravity is not extraordinary for most of us. The Theory of Relativity is. So is the Theory of Evolution. And if it helps, you don’t need faith in science to believe in gravity. You do need to have faith in science to believe in Evolution.

PART 2

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">{Snip all the stuff on Evolution}</font>
I am the first to admit that I know nothing about Evolution, and am happy to accept it as being true. Rather than get myself into trouble, and betray even more of my ignorance on this topic, I will defer to others. With luck Bede or PhysicsGuy, or someone else deeply interested in this stuff will jump in (although it is hopelessly off topic, and will likely need another thread).

What I will say here is that for the layman like me, there is nothing about Evolution that makes simple basic, ordinary sense. Lots of scientific theories fall into this category, and to me, that makes it very extra-ordinary. I guess that means Earl thinks I am just plain dumb. So be it. All I know is that I am force to rely on the expertise of those who know about far more about the hard sciences than I do, and I am content to do this.

BTW, whatever made you think that a claim can only be extraordinary if it is metaphysical in nature? And further, do you know a scientist alive that thinks that the Theory of Evolution does not make metaphysical claims? To hear the laymen like you use it, I have seen many of you treat it like a weapon to attack the theist, and that makes it a metaphysical claim, and a very extraordinary one. At the same time, like I said, it has extraordinary evidence to support it, and the Church has not found any reason to reject it.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> NOMAD: But don't go simplistic on me, and try to tell us that evolution is just plain common sense. It isn't, and if you want to go there, talk to Bede and PhysicsGuy, who are both trained scientists (something neither you nor I happen to be, in ANY field) and learn something.
It is the kind of simple minded faith that people like you have in science that drives many theists crazy, even the ones that happen to agree with you on this issue.
EARL: This is simply too laughable for me to respond to. I'll let the reader decide who has been over-simplisitc and flat out ignorant about such skeptical concepts as evolution and the fallacies.</font>
Interestingly, I too would like to leave this in my thread and allow the reader to decide for themselves.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> EARL: To use Bd's example, if common human experience reveals that humans can't run a mile in 10 seconds, the claim that a particular human succeeded in running a mile in 10 seconds is extraordinary relative to common human experience.
NOMAD: Um... we aren't talking about the 10 second mile here. We are talking about a guy that was born, lived and died about 2000 years ago. NOT extraordinary. Now stop being confused please.
EARL: The combination of your bad arguments and your arrogant tone makes me embarrassed for you. Were we talking only about the non-extraordinary question of whether Jesus existed?</font>
As a matter of fact, yes we are Earl. You wish to state that we should be sceptical of the existence of Jesus because the evidence is insufficient to make a positive claim in the matter. At least you are consistent, and apply your deconstructionist views to other ordinary historical events like Caesar’s assassination, but from my point of view, I think that makes you look extremely dogmatic.

You do not think we should believe anything about history, and that is interesting.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> NOMAD: Since the rest of your post on this topic is mere assertion, give us your definition of a "LOT" of evidence Earl. You feel free to toss out evidence everyone trained in the field has found acceptable. Why do you do that? Are your skills as a sceptic superior to those of a Donald Akenson, or Michael Grant? How about Morton Smith or John Domminic Crossan? Where did you aquire your confidence in your ability to be sceptical about such things? What authority do you rely upon, or is your own doubts sufficient?
Do you apply the standard evenly? And while we are at it, was Julius Caesar assassinated?
[SNIP]
EARL: The evidence should at least be unambiguously firsthand as opposed to hearsay.</font>
Since we do not have firsthand evidence that can be trusted, this is going to mean that you will not state with confidence that Caesar was assassinated. (Which you do shortly)

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Regarding Caesar's assassination, I'm not guilty of any double standard if that's what you're implying. I don't have a strong belief one way or the other regarding how he died, and I'm perfectly happy to admit that we know much less about what exactly happened in any ancient historical episode than we might think or that might be represented in popular culture…I'm not particularly confident that we know how Caesar died, and likewise I'm not confident that we know anything in particular about Jesus. No inconsistency here. </font>
First, I implied nothing. I just wanted to make sure that you were consistent in your historical know nothingness, and you are. Personally, I think it is pathetic that you can treat history so lightly, but such is your right. That said, you are consistent, and for that, I commend you.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> EARL: Fallacious? Really? Why do Christians want to try to sound like skeptics when they're unfamiliar with skeptical terminology, in this case elementary logic and the nature of the fallacies?
NOMAD: You are not talking to ChristianS Earl. You are talking to me. Don't lump us all together here. If I have erred, it is mine alone, so don't go trying to tar the rest.
Luckily, I didn't err, but I thought you should be cautioned about this bit of propagandizing and grandstanding on your part. It was impressive, but you should have known better.
EARL: You've made a mountain out of a molehill.</font>
Your protests to the contrary, I merely pointed out exactly what you did Earl. You did not qualify your statement about Christians, and since sentinel (for example) saw fit to accuse me of lumping ALL sceptics together in one of my posts, I thought it only fair to point out that you have done the exact same thing here.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> EARL: Hello! Earth to Nomad. I asked you to name the fallacy I committed, and you said you had already done so and would do so again. Yet you haven't named any fallacy. </font>
Since you snipped my demonstration of your fallacy, I will allow the readers to go back and reread the post. Don’t do this again though Earl.

Now, I defined “fallacy”. It is called an “error”. In fact, the dictionary definition said exactly that. So Earl launches himself into yet another holy lather to protest that I do not understand what a fallacy is. I guess we just have to let the readers decide for themselves again.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: Which scholars have mocked the mythers as you have asserted here Earl? Could you quote them please? And could you offer some context? Also, are you saying that a Christian is incapable of engaging in the kind of critical thinking necessary to judge the historicity of Jesus? If so, how did you make this determination? I understand that you have nothing but contempt for our intellectual abilities and honesty Earl, but once again, your grandstanding is getting you into trouble. Such a broad brushed tarring of Christians is very close to being bigoted, and we would want that to happen would we?
EARL: I was tailoring my objection to Layman's fourth point of comparison, "Both YECS and Jesus-Mythers make money off of their "pop" books, which are not taken seriously be the academic community." If a book isn't "taken seriously" then it if it taken at all it must be done so in a humorous way. I wouldn't call him a scholar, but J.P. Holding certainly mocks mythicists (as well as everyone else he doesn't agree with). You, Nomad, as well as Metacrock and other Christian debaters in this forum have also mocked mythicism. Indeed calling mythicism no better than Creationism is a form of mockery. </font>
Now you know why I asked for SCHOLARS that do what you accused them of doing: namely, mocking Mythicists. I knew you could not do this, and while I am flattered that you have called me and a couple of my friends scholars, we are no more scholars than Earl Doherty is a scholar (although Meta is on his way to becoming a true scholar, and I doubt his opinion will change much visa vie the Mythers once he completes his thesis).

I suppose the best thing to do would be to ask you to tone down your rhetoric and think about your post more before you do this again. Scholars do not mock the mythers, they ignore them, and thus far, the reason that they do this is because we do not have a single scholar that is a true myther. It that ever happens, then perhaps you will hear the mockery. Until that fateful day, you will have to content yourselves with the likes of me, JP and Meta.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I stand by my claim that evolutionists are not emotionally attached to the theory of evolution per se, whereas Christian bible scholars are emotionally attached to that which makes their belief in Jesus' existence true, namely Jesus himself.

…Oh well, here we go again. More pretend skepticism from Nomad. Nomad continues to talk about my "fallacies" without naming any defective reasoning procedure on my part. Instead he confuses "factual error" and "fallacy" (error by deception and defective reasoning rather than misperception, misremembering, absent-mindedness or some other non-deceptive procedure). This time we have the Nomadian use of "question-begging." Begging the question is the presupposition of the conclusion in a premise used to arrive at the conclusion. Now I argued that Christian scholars who believe Jesus existed have an extra incentive for harshly rejecting mythicism than do evolutionists who mock Creationism.

…The extent to which that extra incentive, namely their religious faith and perceived personal relationship with the individual in question, clouds their judgment is NOT something I commented on.

... In any case, we don't know why non-Christian scholars believe Jesus existed. Perhaps they believe Jesus existed not because they think the evidence demands this belief, but merely for the practical reason I mentioned above regarding belief in Caesar's assassination. </font>
So, after all of that (and yes, I snipped a lot), you are ending off by saying that the Christianity of some of the scholars won’t affect their judgement or critical thinking ability? Thank you for admitting this, but that leaves me to wonder why you brought it up in the first place Earl. I mean, if they will think just as clearly, and just as rationally, and arrive at just as solid a conclusions as will any non-Christian scholar, why mention that they are Christians at all? Why not mention that some of them are tall or short, or fat or skinny?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> NOMAD: Do you think it is credible to say that every scholar except Doherty (who actually isn't a scholar, but that is another can of worms even I am hoping will not get opened) comes to the same conclusion about the historicity of Jesus, but the Christian scholars are somehow coloured in their conclusions simply because they are Christians? Perhaps you could go about proving this claim Earl. I would love to see you do it.
How about this, show us a true scholar that agrees that Jesus is a 100% mythical invention. I don't even care if you know his arguments or not. I'll look them up if you can find such a person.
EARL: Or better yet, why don't you show that the non-Christian scholars believe Jesus existed because they think the evidence demands this belief? How strong is their belief in Jesus' existence? Most of the Jesus Seminar scholars, by the way, are self-professed Christians.</font>
I hate to have to tell you this Earl, but a question is not an answer to a question. I asked you to give me one bona fide scholar that thinks that Jesus is a mythical construct. I didn’t even ask you to produce his or her arguments. Just give me the name, and I will do the work and look up what he has to say.

Can you do that please? (I know you can’t but that only proves my point really)

PART 3:

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Main Entry: fal·la·cious
Function: adjective
1 : embodying a fallacy
2 : tending to deceive or mislead
You did this in spades Earl. So the next time, before you try to bore us with semantics, make sure you are on solid ground. Your argument embraced a fallacy. It might even have been intended to deceive or mislead. Your accusation that Christians do something simply because I did something certainly qualifies under that banner.
So, don't go digging any more holes for yourself to crawl out of Earl.
EARL: What hole? You don't understand the meaning of the word "fallacious," Nomad. </font>
Gee Earl. I only showed you that a fallacy is an error (erroneous). I don’t know how much clearer I can make this for you so that you can actually understand this truism. If you are in error, you embrace a fallacy. In embracing a fallacy, you make a fallacious argument. Why did you want to go down this road and make me tell you this for a second time?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> The two terms are NOT equivalent. And you've been kind enough to give me more evidence that shows that you don't understand this point. Nomad says (my emphasis) "It MIGHT even have been intended to deceive or mislead." Oops. By definition (the root word), the thrust of the word "fallacy" is that for a falsehood to be one it MUST be caused by defective/misleading/deceptive reasoning. Yet Nomad thinks my "fallacy" just MIGHT be caused by deception. Nomad simply doesn't understand the difference between a factual error and an error caused by deceptive reason, a fallacy. </font>
I was giving you the benefit of the doubt here Earl, and giving you the opportunity to demonstrate that you now understood your error, and had no intention to deceive. Since you have refused to do this, and continue to embrace your error, even after knowing that you are in error, now there can be no doubt about your intention to deceive. This is truly sad.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> And of course, I've already cleared up Nomad's mountain made out of a mole hill. Contrary to Nomad's typical misrepresentation, I never stated that because Nomad did something therefore all Christians do it. What I did was to fail to state fully my reason for generalizing about Christians, namely my debates with some other Christians. </font>
Not good enough Earl. Sentinel has since taught me that it is not good enough to later state that a generalization was not meant to embrace everyone in a specific category (in my case sceptics, in yours Christians). As you can see, I am learning the techniques of the sceptics, and I am using them. I am pleased that you do not like it, and find the logic faulty, but I think the need to hold up the mirror is important enough to continue to do this.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Main Entry: fal·la·cy
Function: noun
1 a obsolete {snip}
2 a : a false or mistaken idea &lt;popular fallacies&gt; b : erroneous character : ERRONEOUSNESS
3 : an often plausible argument using false or invalid inference
I'm guessing you replied before thinking Earl. Otherwise you would not have been so hasty to accuse me of something without understanding that I had, in fact, labled you correctly.
[SNIP]
EARL: Yes, Nomad, a fallacy involves the quality of erroneousness. But that doesn't make the word equivalent to "error," as if any single kind of error can properly be called a fallacy. Look at the root of the word to determine its thrust: "fallere" or "deceive." This refers to the way certain defective (non-truth preserving) reasoning practices can beguile and mislead us. A fallacy is an error that has the deceptive appearance of being correct, because of the twisted proof offered in support of the false idea. A fallacy is not just any old false idea but one supported by defective reasoning. </font>
Now, I have to admit, I had assumed that you were accusing Christian scholars of being incapable of forming objective judgements about the historicity of Jesus because they are Christians. You have since backed off on this, and said that you meant nothing of the sort. So now I am wondering why you brought up their Christianity at all. Your fallacy appears to have changed, but you are still engaged in fallacious reasoning. I just don’t know which argument you want to put forward now, that your reference to the Christianity of certain scholars meant something (that their Christianity would impede their reasoning, methods and conclusions) or that it is meaningless (in which case you are engaging in some kind of insinuation against them, based on your own reasoning and motives).

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> A fallacy is an error of a specific kind, namely one supported by twisted logic. </font>
Which form of twisted logic are you employing here Earl? I had assumed it was the one about Christian scholars being affected by their Christianity. If I am wrong, then it must be that you wanted the reader to draw a conclusion from a set of statements that you did not believe to be true yourself.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> NOMAD: How can you claim that they have a motive that is not tied to the honest pursuit of historical truth?
EARL: I never claimed this. This is your misrepresentation that seems to imply that I've committed the genetic fallacy. I've explained in detail why I haven't committed that fallacy. I said the Christian scholars have an EXTRA incentive BESIDES their critical faculties for believing that Jesus existed. I didn't speculate as to how much the former might impede the latter. I didn't discuss the matter and therefore did not commit the genetic fallacy.</font>
See what I mean? If their extra incentive doesn’t mean anything, then why bring it up?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> NOMAD: Try not to do these semantic quibbles with me again please.
EARL: Do you know what the word "quibble" means, Nomad? A quibble is a shifting of focus onto an irrelevant matter in order to avoid dealing with the main issue. </font>
Time for the supreme irony of this ENTIRE discussion.

Look up Earl. See the title of the thread? It is called “How Many Myth Founders Where There?”. Now, NONE of your past few posts have ANYTHING to do with the topic of the thread. Instead, you have tried to quibble with me about semantics, demonstrating only that you do not even see how you commit each of the errors I have leveled against you. You have attempted (wittingly or not) to drag this thread so far off topic, and bury it under so much bullshit that everyone will forget the topic of discussion.

While we are at it, how many myth founders were there? You have not addressed this question at all on this thread. If you want to do so, then do it. If not, what are you doing here?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> EARL: Wordplay? What's the parallel to the object of the Christian scholars' emotional reaction, the theory of evolution or that which justifies the theory, evolution itself? Do Christian scholars have feelings for the theory that Jesus existed or for Jesus himself? The answer is the latter. They are emotionally attached to the person of Jesus, not to their books about Jesus. They have faith not in the theory that Jesus existed but in the person of Jesus himself, that which causes their theories about Jesus to be true, namely Jesus' actual existence. Likewise, if there were to be a parallel scientists would have to be emotionally attached not to the theory of evolution but to that which causes evolution, the set of natural forces that justifies the theory. </font>
Please tell me that you are not this naïve Earl. Scientists are committed to Evolution for emotional reasons. Many of them even draw metaphysical beliefs out of the Theory itself (see Dawkins and Sagan as good examples). Lay men are even worse at doing this. So don’t go trying to tell me that you think the source of an emotion makes it qualitatively different or important to the subject here. Like any other belief, if a scientific theory is challenged, the defenders (scientists and non-scientists, scholars and non-scholars) are going to get emotional. This is not even necessarily a bad thing. Emotions make us who we are, namely human beings. So get over it.

My apologies to Layman for having to respond to this on his thread. With luck, now that I have taken care of all of Earl’s nonsense, the thread can get back to the real topic.

Good night,

Nomad

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited May 04, 2001).]
 
Old 05-04-2001, 11:15 AM   #63
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I can't resist responding to just a few of Nomad's last statements. I am surprised that he hasn't admitted any of his mistakes after I went to so much trouble to explain them to him. He still thinks metaphysical extraordinariness (the kind relevant to a discussion of the burden of proof) is the same as vastness of scope or "complexity," that raising a minority interpretation is a fallacy of inconsistency, specifically special pleading, and that errors in general are all "fallacies."

Nomad says again flat-out "You still think that there is nothing extraordinary about the theory of evolution. I am telling you that there is, and that no one alive understands all of its complexity…. PhysicsGuy told us on these very boards that the acceptance of the theory requires years of technical training, and is not even close to intuitive, nor something we can or even should accept in an ordinary fashion."

He says this after I showed in some detail that the type of extraordinariness in question is not the same as complexity or vastness in scope. A claim can be simple and yet extraordinary enough to require extraordinary evidence. Indeed, most miracle claims are simple in this sense and yet require extraordinary evidence. So evolution's complexity, how much training is needed to master the subject, or the fact that no one comprehends all the data regarding the theory, are all totally irrelevant. As for evolution's intuitiveness, Nomad said earlier that if it were intuitive ancient thinkers would have come up with the idea. I showed indeed that the Presocratics had come up with the underlying ideas, which shows that these ideas (algorithmic adaptation, biological change resulting entirely from materialistic forces) are not counter-intuitive. The broad ideas and forces, essentially materialism, behind evolution are not counter-intuitive nor are they unfamiliar in human experience. We experience them every day, although we don't directly perceive their long-term effects.

The theory of evolution should indeed not be accepted in an "ordinary fashion," but that's because it's so vast in scope and complex, not metaphysically extraordinary. The theory doesn't require extraordinary evidence, because it's naturalistic and familiar. Take a species from its initial habitat and remove it to an isolated one. It will adapt or die, and the genes of any survivors will be passed on to its descendents. In time the species will be physically transformed to best match its new setting. What's extraordinary about this algorithmic process? What the theory has is A LOT of ordinary proof, not any piece of metaphysically extraordinary proof. Belief in evolution is not faith, since it's warranted purely by the evidence.

****

Nomad says now that Doherty makes a fallaciously special plea by telling us "that we must be sceptical of the interpretations of the Greek offered by all scholars except himself, but trusting of his own interpretations. We must doubt the validity of the testimony from other scholars regarding such interpretations (like what you see from the Biblical Scholarly community), but not the testimony for me, Doherty."

Yet this is exactly what anyone does when merely offering a minority opinion on a subject. A person in such a minority position would say 'I disagree with the majority opinion and therefore claim that their view is wrong whereas mine is right. I am offering a minority opinion, which by definition disagrees with the consensus, yes even the opinions of most scholars on the subject.' That is just offering a minority interpretation, Nomad, not the fallacy of special pleading.

We know for a fact that offering a minority opinion isn't fallacious, since it wouldn't be a truth-preserving rule to disregard automatically every new, and thus not commonly held interpretation as fallaciously "special pleas." Once again, the fallacy is to be INCONSISTENT, not to be merely in the MINORITY. That is Nomad's confusion. Nomad must show that Doherty is inconsistent in applying certain standards to other scholars and then breaking those very standards himself, demanding special attention to his own interpretation whereas he himself does not give that attention to other scholars' interpretation. That would be inconsistent and therefore fallacious. Nomad only shows that Doherty is in the minority, which is not fallacious. Doherty does indeed appreciate and deal with the interpretation of opposing scholars. He shows no inconsistency.

****

And Nomad continues to equate "error" and "fallacy," even though I explained the difference in detail and gave counter-examples of errors that are plainly not fallacies, such as misreporting, misjudging or misremembering something. Yet Nomad says outright "Now, I defined "fallacy". It is called an "error." In fact, the dictionary definition said exactly that." And worse yet Nomad says, "Gee Earl. I only showed you that a fallacy is an error (erroneous). I don't know how much clearer I can make this for you so that you can actually understand this truism. If you are in error, you embrace a fallacy. In embracing a fallacy, you make a fallacious argument. In fact, the dictionary definition said exactly that."

The dictionary also gives the root word and thus the context in which errors can be considered fallacious. When a computer misreports someone's name as "Stann" instead of "Stan," that is a factual error but not a fallacy. No one would say that the computer had committed a fallacy. When I misperceive your shoes as brown instead of black, that is a factual mistake but not a fallacy. Empirically based misjudgments, misrememberings, and misreportings are all kinds of errors but not fallacies. Therefore the word "fallacy" CANNOT mean just "error." A fallacy is an error supported by "deceptive" (misleading and non-truth-preserving) logic or reasoning procedures, such as "strawman," "special pleading," and so forth.

I had said that Christian bible scholars have an extra incentive to believe that Jesus exists, namely because they have what they perceive to be a personal relationship with and feelings for the person in question, Jesus. I did not say, contrary to Nomad's misrepresentation, that this incentive necessarily renders the scholars incapable of forming a neutral judgment regarding Jesus' existence. It may or it may not. But I didn't get into that question, because it made no difference to my objective, which was to refute Layman's comparison between Creationism and mythicism. I just wanted to show that those two positions are very different, not that one is true.

But even taking the claim Nomad falsely attributes to me, we can see that if it were wrong it would be a factual error, an empirically based misjudgment and not a fallacy or a false idea based on twisted logic. Is it fallacious to think that some scholars' faith or emotions can get in the way of their objectivity? Has this never once happened? It's an empirical question, as I see it, not a matter of defective logic. Therefore it's at best factually wrong not fallacious, the two not being equal.

****

As for a scholar who doesn't believe Jesus exists (Nomad means a scholar above Doherty's caliber, even though Doherty's works are scholarly--are they submitted for peer review or just not reviewed?), Robert Price would be an example. He thinks we should be agnostic regarding Jesus' existence. See his book "Deconstructing Jesus."

****

Well, that's enough for me in this thread. Yes, my replies to Nomad were not directly on topic for this thread, although my reply to Layman and my defense of that reply to Nomad was. My posts on skeptical terminology were meant, though, to impeach Nomad's credibility in general, and therefore indirectly the posts are relevant. Showing that your opponent misuses his terms in general is not quibbling over details. I replied not only to these terminological issues that Nomad himself raised by falsely using the terms, but also to his substantive points against my reply to Layman, which was directly on topic. Nomad is the one who took me off-topic by consistently misusing his terms. Moreover, several of these points about terminology are in defense of Doherty, and are therefore not irrelevant in this thread about mythicism. My posts on terminology also demonstrate that when Nomad runs out of good arguments he tends to get more abusive. Everyone should watch for this tendency in the Doherty debate. With Doherty, however, Nomad will be in his element discussing Christian terminology. He should stick to that terminology and stay away from skeptical terms, such as evolution and logic, until he has better researched these areas which I'm sure he is capable of doing.


[This message has been edited by Earl (edited May 04, 2001).]
 
Old 05-05-2001, 12:00 AM   #64
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Earl:
I can't resist responding to just a few of Nomad's last statements. I am surprised that he hasn't admitted any of his mistakes after I went to so much trouble to explain them to him. . . </font>
I hope that was tongue in cheek. (There doesn't seem to be a smilie for that.) Nomad does not admit mistakes in thinking, only minor mistakes of fact. He throws words like weapons. He will never concede an inch, even after being shown to be wrong on the facts and the logic. This seems to be some kind of warfare for him.

I know that Nomad does not understand what a null hypothesis is, but I have no illusions that I could convince him of it. I know that anyone with a statistics background reading this will know that Nomad is slinging terms around that he doesn't understand.
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Old 05-05-2001, 04:35 AM   #65
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
He says this after I showed in some detail that the type of extraordinariness in question is not the same as complexity or vastness in scope. A claim can be simple and yet extraordinary enough to require extraordinary evidence. Indeed, most miracle claims are simple in this sense and yet require extraordinary evidence. So evolution's complexity, how much training is needed to master the subject, or the fact that no one comprehends all the data regarding the theory, are all totally irrelevant.
</font>
I don't necessarilly have a problem with theistic evolution, but it seems that the sum total of all its claims chained together is in fact, extraordinary, so you seem to be applying this as a semantic sort of difference more than a fundamental one. Adding scope to a simple idea *is* extraordinary sometimes, especially when it's hard to prove that that scope applies... That's not to say that evolution hasn't upheld that with evidence, but I don't think that it can be properly considered to be an 'ordinary claim' ...

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
The theory of evolution should indeed not be accepted in an "ordinary fashion," but that's because it's so vast in scope and complex, not metaphysically extraordinary. The theory doesn't require extraordinary evidence, because it's naturalistic and familiar. Take a species from its initial habitat and remove it to an isolated one. It will adapt or die, and the genes of any survivors will be passed on to its descendents. In time the species will be physically transformed to best match its new setting. What's extraordinary about this algorithmic process? What the theory has is A LOT of ordinary proof, not any piece of metaphysically extraordinary proof. Belief in evolution is not faith, since it's warranted purely by the evidence.
</font>
If it's not ordinary, it's extraordinary... If I cannot accept it in an ordinary way... I think that you would do better to say that the total of the small evidences forms an extraordinary evidence--rather like it does to support Christianity. I understand why you'd shy from that route, though :]

But, umm, I thought that this thread was about myths? I take some of Genesis as a sort of parable because of its symbolism [I don't know what a literal 'tree of the fruit of good and evil' would be save a symbol... :], but not "myth" exactly, due to the connotations of that word. I guess I don't see how you're getting on about this when its so offtopic? I rather like the real debate here better :]

I guess that below is the divider between the pointless part and the real arguement?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
****

Nomad says now that Doherty makes a fallaciously special plea by telling us "that we must be sceptical of the interpretations of the Greek offered by all scholars except himself, but trusting of his own interpretations. We must doubt the validity of the testimony from other scholars regarding such interpretations (like what you see from the Biblical Scholarly community), but not the testimony for me, Doherty."

Yet this is exactly what anyone does when merely offering a minority opinion on a subject. A person in such a minority position would say 'I disagree with the majority opinion and therefore claim that their view is wrong whereas mine is right. I am offering a minority opinion, which by definition disagrees with the consensus, yes even the opinions of most scholars on the subject.' That is just offering a minority interpretation, Nomad, not the fallacy of special pleading.
</font>
How much of a minority? A minority of one? A small group? It *is* a special plea to say all the world but me is wrong... I just don't see that the evidence for this can be established under any other interpretation of the facts but theirs, the other interpretation goes against a long tradition of scholarly oppinion and they haven't offered enough evidence to *prefer* their interpretation to the consensus, unless you believe their interpretation to begin with. As such, it *is* special pleading, plain and simple. I just don't see how we can accept that position without being prejudiced twords it to begin with. It's not extraordinary to say merely that a certain Jew *existed* in 1st Century Palestine, -without- supposing anything else about them for now; it *is* extraordinary to invent a conspiracy to pretend they did exist, unless you can give reasons to prefer a conspiracy over a real person.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
We know for a fact that offering a minority opinion isn't fallacious, since it wouldn't be a truth-preserving rule to disregard automatically every new, and thus not commonly held interpretation as fallaciously "special pleas."
</font>
But the logical conclusion of this [mind you, I'm taking you literally here, so our interpretations of what you meant -hopefully- differ!] is that there *are* no special pleas! I'm just in the "minority" if I claim that the invisible pink unicorn sneezed the world into existence from the Hall Of Unicornity!! So what if the only "proof" is that the color pink exists & old paintings of unicorns? It's not a special plea!!! :]

In short, this is absurd. You -have- to support your position such that we should *prefer* the minority oppinion to the majority. It is evidence, not numbers, that decide which is right. This sounds horribly like a reverse ad populum... It is -not- ad populum to refer to the *reasoning* of a group of experts to support the notion that a conclusion is sound given the evidence. As it has been said--"be open minded, but not so open mindend that your brain falls out."

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Once again, the fallacy is to be INCONSISTENT, not to be merely in the MINORITY. That is Nomad's confusion. Nomad must show that Doherty is inconsistent in applying certain standards to other scholars and then breaking those very standards himself, demanding special attention to his own interpretation whereas he himself does not give that attention to other scholars' interpretation. That would be inconsistent and therefore fallacious. Nomad only shows that Doherty is in the minority, which is not fallacious.
</font>
Whoah! The burden of proof is on the other back! *They* need to give us reason to *prefer* their interpretation to the scholarly one, without begging the question. Even if I come up with a consistant construct, I should have to show you a reason to prefer it over the existing one, that's just basic reasoning...

****

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
And Nomad continues to equate "error" and "fallacy," even though I explained the difference in detail and gave counter-examples of errors that are plainly not fallacies, such as misreporting, misjudging or misremembering something.
</font>
Mmmm, I'm finding legitimate fallacy here... All error is not fallacy, but all fallacy is an error in reasoning.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Yet Nomad says outright "Now, I defined "fallacy". It is called an "error." In fact, the dictionary definition said exactly that."
</font>
All fallacy is an error of reasoning, but *not* the other way around. You have a dictionary over there? My reading implies a one way link, not two. As such, you are wrong unless he meant it as a two-way link, that is, that all errors are fallacious.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
And worse yet Nomad says, "Gee Earl. I only showed you that a fallacy is an error (erroneous). I don't know how much clearer I can make this for you so that you can actually understand this truism. If you are in error, you embrace a fallacy. In embracing a fallacy, you make a fallacious argument. In fact, the dictionary definition said exactly that."
</font>
Please use http://www.webster.com/ if you cannot afford a dictionary. I don't see why you're reading that as a two-way link, I only see it going one way, which is correct.

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The dictionary also gives the root word and thus the context in which errors can be considered fallacious. When a computer misreports someone's name as "Stann" instead of "Stan," that is a factual error but not a fallacy. No one would say that the computer had committed a fallacy. When I misperceive your shoes as brown instead of black, that is a factual mistake but not a fallacy. Empirically based misjudgments, misrememberings, and misreportings are all kinds of errors but not fallacies. Therefore the word "fallacy" CANNOT mean just "error." A fallacy is an error supported by "deceptive" (misleading and non-truth-preserving) logic or reasoning procedures, such as "strawman," "special pleading," and so forth.
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A fallacy is an error in reasoning. I will now snip any part which makes me do nothing but repeat this.

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I had said that Christian bible scholars have an extra incentive to believe that Jesus exists, namely because they have what they perceive to be a personal relationship with and feelings for the person in question, Jesus. I did not say, contrary to Nomad's misrepresentation, that this incentive necessarily renders the scholars incapable of forming a neutral judgment regarding Jesus' existence. It may or it may not.
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You had better not. You're close enough to poisoning the well as is... Even offering this as 'evidence' is dangerous, unless you can support it with specific examples of obvious prejudice relevant to the sources cited here...

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But I didn't get into that question, because it made no difference to my objective, which was to refute Layman's comparison between Creationism and mythicism. I just wanted to show that those two positions are very different, not that one is true.
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Best not to go there to begin with, but I suppose it's excusable if you stop. I don't like it because it seems to encourage fallacious reasoning on the part of spectators, which is bad. I'm not perfect, but I know that I wouldn't want anyone to believe in Jesus due to fallacious reasoning [especially myself; don't worry, I've checked--I don't :] since I've seen too many who seem to have been "formerly brainwashed fundies" :[ I don't like it more than they do.

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But even taking the claim Nomad falsely attributes to me, we can see that if it were wrong it would be a factual error, an empirically based misjudgment and not a fallacy or a false idea based on twisted logic. Is it fallacious to think that some scholars' faith or emotions can get in the way of their objectivity? Has this never once happened? It's an empirical question, as I see it, not a matter of defective logic.
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Mmmm, you're going back to poisoning the well or encouraging it. It is *very* bad form to just talk about "it could happen" or "it probably did" *unless* you give *specific* examples *relevant* to the sources given. Otherwise, yes, you *are* committing fallacy. Yes, I suppose that it has happened, but unless you give support to a specific claim, you're encouraging fallacious reasoning on the part of spectators, which is very bad form. Please support a relevant claim or desist. Vague nothings like that are meaningless--I could just as well say "well, all scientists only believe in evolution because of their commitment to materialism; or at least *some* of them do, so we should not be ashamed of the minority position of the IPU sneezing at dirt to create every type of creature from nothing." You -do- think that absurd, right? Ergo, it constitutes reductio ad absurdum of your reasoning, since it uses the same form to "prove" nonsense. Since no well-formed logic can do that, it cannot be well-formed and is invalid.

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Therefore it's at best factually wrong not fallacious, the two not being equal.
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See above :] If you allow special pleading, I can use it to support utter nonsense. It's "at best factually wrong" ... :] At worst, I do not care to know... You cannot disprove common sense with sleight of mind; I'm sorry.

****

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As for a scholar who doesn't believe Jesus exists (Nomad means a scholar above Doherty's caliber, even though Doherty's works are scholarly--are they submitted for peer review or just not reviewed?), Robert Price would be an example. He thinks we should be agnostic regarding Jesus' existence. See his book "Deconstructing Jesus."
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Mmmm, you'd all do better not to focus on who is "scholarly enough" ... Having a weakly supported minority position is one thing, but deciding who is "scholarly" is not somewhere anyone should have to go...

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Well, that's enough for me in this thread. Yes, my replies to Nomad were not directly on topic for this thread, although my reply to Layman and my defense of that reply to Nomad was. My posts on skeptical terminology were meant, though, to impeach Nomad's credibility in general, and therefore indirectly the posts are relevant.
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I don't think you've done that right. It seems to me that you're misreading Nomad's statement--I simply don't read it the same way you do & my reading says that it -is- correct. You're hung up on saying that "all errors are fallacy" but I don't see that from your quotes of Nomad. All fallacy *is* error, just not the other way around. I don't really think you've impeached anyone's credibility & I think most of this is sleight of mind, since you cannot escape fallacy when you really do commit it.

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Showing that your opponent misuses his terms in general is not quibbling over details. I replied not only to these terminological issues that Nomad himself raised by falsely using the terms, but also to his substantive points against my reply to Layman, which was directly on topic.
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-You- seem to be misusing the terms. You're reading something into his posts which I just don't see there. I think that this should stop. It's just like if you posted "I don't believe in God" and I started complaining that you were just wrong, since that's ad ignorantiam. [To do that, I have to read that it implies that you believe that there is no God, because of a lack of proof; yes, that really is fallacious, but that's also why most intelligent athiests define themselves as having a lack of a belief, not a negative one. This confusion can be pervasive at times; I hope that I have clarified the issues here so that you don't waste your time :]

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Nomad is the one who took me off-topic by consistently misusing his terms. Moreover, several of these points about terminology are in defense of Doherty, and are therefore not irrelevant in this thread about mythicism. My posts on terminology also demonstrate that when Nomad runs out of good arguments he tends to get more abusive.
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That is ad hominem, abusive. The irony is not lost on me :]

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Everyone should watch for this tendency in the Doherty debate. With Doherty, however, Nomad will be in his element discussing Christian terminology. He should stick to that terminology and stay away from skeptical terms, such as evolution and logic, until he has better researched these areas which I'm sure he is capable of doing.
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I don't think that skeptics have a monopoly on logic, but I do think that you should avoid a waste of time on evolution. I don't find that very relevant to this issue, so I have included it only in response to it being raised here. I don't think that the language of historo-critical schorlarship is "Christian" either, even though certain terms would be used to describe certain passages & events. But this is neither here nor there, so I hope I can go back the the spectators' seats now :] I guess that I cannot just let ad logicam stand; I hope it has ended.
 
Old 05-05-2001, 04:56 AM   #66
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[B]LAYMAN: No comparison is going to be perfect, but the comparison is very useful.

EARL: On the contrary, the comparison is untenable.
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The problem is this: who has the burden of proof? The fact is that it's only reasonable to suppose a man before a conspiracy that creates that man. Given that and the fact that this conspiracy isn't uncovered for such a long time afterwards, we're given to a strong presuppositon that there really was a man, even if he was only a man. Unless there's a "smoking gun" to implicate the conspiracy, it can be no more than a theory & one which we have no reason to prefer.

A conspiracy, no matter what you might think, is *not* a null hypothesis nor can it be ... it, in facts, asserts an awful lot, so you cannot "default" to it the way you seem to want to. It simply is not logical. As such, whoever said that the null hypothesis is that Jesus didn't exist is simply wrong. We know that either He existed, or there was a conspiracy. Saying that an ordinary man existed is not extraordinary; saying that a conspiracy was invented around someone who didn't exist most certainly *is* extraordinary.

Now then, that does *not* mean that you cannot prove that it really was a conspiracy--you just need to have good evidence for the conspiracy. IMHO, it's wanting, but that is what debate is meant to expose...
 
Old 05-05-2001, 05:17 AM   #67
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NOMAD: You made a truth statement that is false. You claimed that Christian scholars are affected by their Christianity in pursuing this question. You cannot prove this, and further, you have failed to demonstrate at all that they reached their conclusions in any manner that is different from the non-Christian scholars.

EARL: And here Nomad simply gives the game away and makes my job as easy as can be. Nomad unmistakably, right before our very eyes equates "fallacy" and making a "false" statement, as if any old error or falsehood can be called a fallacy. Nomad unbelievably makes this error even though he quoted the root of the word "fallacy." Does Nomad think that every time someone makes "a truth statement that is false" the person has engaged in "deception," the root meaning of "fallacy"? If not, then Nomad should know that "fallacy" and "false statement" cannot be equated.
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There is just too much of this, I'm sorry Earl. I just don't have the time to point out how deep your ad logicam goes. *YOU* commited both a factual error and a fallacy in that statement. As such, Nomad's statements do not establish a material equivalence between factual error and fallacy, save in the given example. You seem to have no trouble poisoning the well, or coming as close as you can in encouraging others to at least, yet you still read him as saying 'all errors are fallacy' and I don't get that. I think he's saying it the other way--that 'all fallacy is an error in reasoning' which *is* correct. Also, most factual errors in an arguement most certainly can be fallacious...

I'm sorry, Earl. You would appear to be nit-picking anything you can to try to impeach Nomad's credibility [to which I reference your own statment claiming to have done that]. I think that you're taking some of the statements wrong [to which I give the evidence of the debate over the meaning of error and fallacy], since that's the best way for you to support a charge of fallacy. I find your charges weak enough that I am would charge you with fallacy, ad logicam for the lot of it. Worse, I don't think you see why. I know that I am capable of it too, but I watch myself for this, as you also should. Yet still, you can easily take someone's words the wrong way to find them in error. Please watch for this--it is insidious. That is why I had that long mention of how I was deliberately taking you the right way in my reading, but probably *not* what you meant, just to make the point of how it's done that you might see it. I can only hope that you will take note of this that you not waste your time over what amounts only to a mismatched idea of what a word or phrase meanas. The fallacies of ambiguity are some of the worst... :[
 
Old 05-05-2001, 08:20 AM   #68
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Hello Earl (number 1 I suppose)

I knew you could not resist trying to get in the last word.

In any event, thank you to Photocrat for trying to help Earl see the error of his ways. Perhaps you will have had more luck than I have. He is a stubborn sort though.

For me, closing points:

1) I asked for a scholar that asserts that Jesus is a 100% mythological construct. You gave me one (Robert Price) that takes the null position, namely that we do not have sufficient evidence to make a claim one way or the other. That means that he is as far from Doherty's position as he is from those that accept that Jesus did exist.

Try again if you wish, but I suppose my point is sufficiently made. There is not a scholar alive that believes that Jesus is a mythological construct, and this will be an important point when the discussion begins (especially as we explore the idea of conspiracy theories and fallacious reasoning).

2) Your effort to impeach my credibility was clearly your main point Earl. Again, I suppose that is to be expected here. After all, attacking the credibility of sources is another of the common sceptic tactics on these boards, and you are merely playing to the crowd. On the other hand, I am going to stick with having Doherty demonstrate and prove his points with evidence and supports. Assertions and special pleading just won't do.

3) Remember that when we are talking about positive assertions (even ones like Jesus never existed, meaning he was a mythological construct) do require proof.

Now, if ya'll are quite finished here, I hope someone will return to the topic of the thread.

Again, my thanks to Photocrat.

Be well,

Brian (Nomad)

P.S. If you have done anything Earl, you have reminded me to keep an eye out for the common sceptical tactic of well poisoning. Thank you for that. I don't expect Doherty to do it in the debate, but if you (or others) do this again with me or Christian scholars on the side threads, then I will have to point it out to you.

[This message has been edited by Brian Trafford (edited May 05, 2001).]
 
Old 05-05-2001, 10:22 AM   #69
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Photocrat,

I'm just going to address some of your statements. I've explained my position more than enough in my three-part post. And once again, although these points about terminology aren't directly relevant to this thread, they are relevant to mythicism and Doherty since they're in response to terms Nomad uses against Doherty, especially "special pleading."

I'll note here as well that given Nomad's confusions in terminology, my reply to Layman's comparison between mythicism and Creationism stands unscathed. (My three-part post more than covers Layman's reply.)

****

First of all, regarding the fallacy of special pleading you make exactly the same error as Nomad when you say "It *is* a special plea to say all the world but me is wrong." Here are several definitions of the fallacy taken from logic sites on the internet.

(1) From http://www.nizkor.org/features/falla...-pleading.html :

"Special Pleading is a fallacy in which a person applies standards, principles, rules, etc. to others while taking herself (or those she has a special interest in) to be exempt, without providing adequate justification for the exemption."

(2) From http://www.dissension.com/logic/specialplead.html :

"Special Pleading, logically, is self-exemption from an argument….

"Definition: The speaker makes an all-encompassing statement and then exempts himself or herself from it.

"This argument is a fallacy because a speaker who says that "All people..." and has a predicate must mean himself as well within all people, or be logically contradicting himself."

"Examples:

(a) Hitler: People shouldn't kill, except German people.

(b) Andrew: We should be more caring of our fellow man.
Danny: Yeah!
Andrew: Except me, I should go eat some candy."

(3) From http://www.aros.net/~wenglund/logic101a.htm#pleading :

"Special pleading (double standards) and self-undermining reasoning: refusing to apply the same principles to oneself that one applies to others."


So what have we learned, Photocrat? "Special pleading" is a synonym for "double-standard" or "self-exemption." Yet you and Nomad say "It *is* a special plea to say all the world but me is wrong." What you leave out in your definition is the part about inconsistency, which alone makes special pleading illogical. Doherty must not merely be in the minority to commit the fallacy of special pleading. He must also logically contradict himself by violating the same standards or claims he applies to everyone else. The reason it's not necessarily a special plea just to be in the small minority is because of the difference between new reasons (which Doherty offers) and inconsistent reasons to hold a belief. It's possible to argue that everyone else is wrong because of a new set of arguments offered by those in the small minority, without fallaciously exempting oneself from the criticism the minority applies to the majority. The two are logically separate (newness and inconsistency) and therefore your definition of "special pleading" is insufficient.

Some of your points show either that you didn't read what I wrote or else didn't follow the whole discussion. For example, in reply to my point about the difference between inconsistency and minority you say "Whoah! The burden of proof is on the other back! *They* need to give us reason to *prefer* their interpretation to the scholarly one, without begging the question. Even if I come up with a consistant construct, I should have to show you a reason to prefer it over the existing one, that's just basic reasoning..."

So when did I ever say Doherty could get away without offering new but not inconsistent reasons in support of his position? Of course Doherty has to give reasons to believe Jesus didn't exist. But these reasons can be new, contrary to common consensus and yet not inconsistent (or special pleas). You and Nomad wrongly equate "newness and minority" with "inconsistency," as if everyone who offered new arguments that subsequently became the majority position were at first guilty of inconsistency or special pleading. Was Copernicus, for example, guilty of inconsistency when he challenged common opinion about the position of the sun? He offered NEW arguments and evidence not inconsistent ones. An argument can challenge the majority position without contradicting itself simply by being new.

****

Likewise in reply to my statement that "Nomad continues to equate "error" and "fallacy," even though I explained the difference in detail and gave counter-examples of errors that are plainly not fallacies, such as misreporting, misjudging or misremembering something" you say "Mmmm, I'm finding legitimate fallacy here... All error is not fallacy, but all fallacy is an error in reasoning."

Your confused statement here agrees with mine and disagrees with Nomad's. Some groups are part of other groups but not the other way around. All dogs are animals, but not all animals are dogs. Dogs are a sub group within animals. This is truly elementary. Likewise, all fallacies are errors but not all errors are fallacies. Fallacies are a type of error. Nomad, however, says that all errors are fallacies. He says "Now, I defined "fallacy". It is called an "error."" But that is not a sufficient definition of fallacy, of course, because "fallacy" isn't equivalent to "error." A definition of "fallacy" rather than "error" must show how the two words are different by giving the sufficient conditions that distinguish them. We know for certain that not all errors are fallacies, so Nomad's "definition" that a fallacy "is called an error" is insufficient. It's like defining a dog by saying "a dog is an object." Well, yes, a dog is an object, but much more besides. A dog is alive, an animal, a canine, and so on. Likewise, a fallacy is more than just an error; it's an error by way of deception or defective reasoning, which rules out the empirical statement I made that Nomad called "fallacious."

In case you have any doubts, Nomad goes so far as to say outright "If you are in error, you embrace a fallacy." This is exactly like saying "If you are an animal you are a dog" or "If you are a human you are Socrates." Nomad gives a one-way account of fallacy that goes the wrong way! The correct way is to say that "If you commit a fallacy you commit an error," whereas Nomad reverses this to read "If you are in error you commit a fallacy." Nomad reverses the truth and fails to distinguish between "error" and "fallacy," whereas dictionaries commonly distinguish the two words by supplying the special root word of "fallacy" which is "deceive." Not all errors are types of deception, whereas properly speaking all fallacies are.

You say (my emphasis) "A fallacy is an error IN REASONING." This is correct. Unfortunately, Nomad said "I defined "fallacy". It is called an 'error,'" "I only showed you that a fallacy is an error," and worst of all "If you are in error, you embrace a fallacy." All of these oversimplifications fail to distinguish between different kinds of errors, namely those which are fallacies and those which are not. The fact that he has failed to admit this is telling. Talk about stubbornness.

****

And it appears I can add Photocrat to the number of Christians who like to sound skeptical without being so. Photocrat says that I've come close to "poisoning the well." In fact, as I pointed out in my earlier post, an opponent can say that I came close to committing the genetic fallacy, which differs from "poisoning the well." (I did NOT commit the genetic fallacy, however, as I showed in abundance.) "Poisoning the well" is a way of discrediting with negative information about an opponent ANYTHING the opponent might say in the future. At best, however, the statement that Nomad falsely attributes to me about Christian scholars' faith tries to discredit SOLELY these scholars' belief in Jesus' existence.

Since Nomad has just come out in favour of Photocrat's confusion between "poisoning the well" and the genetic fallacy, by saying "If you have done anything Earl, you have reminded me to keep an eye out for the common sceptical tactic of well poisoning," I can add this term to the list of skeptical terms that Nomad abuses. (Logic and evolution are only skeptical terms, however, because skeptics like to learn about and emphasize them, not because Christians are somehow barred from doing so.)

****

As for Nomad's last post, I'll keep my word and give him the last word. Mind you I already did keep my word, since I said that after my three-part post I wouldn't reply again to Nomad "point by point," which I didn't do.
 
 

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