Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Armstrong Praises James White - Insults Anonymous Blogger

First the news, then the response.

In the news:
In response to a request by the present "anonymous" blogger to get back to the topic under discussion, Dave Armstrong wrote (italics are Armstrong's quotation of the present blogger's earlier comment, the portion below the line is the second repetition of Armstrong's praise/insult):

I hope we can move on from discussions about Beckwith to discussion of the flaws in your arguments that I have identified above.

Why would I bother? As I wrote above:

I will spend time refuting James White's falsehoods and misrepresentations and mockeries of my work because he has a name (no pun intended) and influence and is a big shot in the anti-Catholic world.

You, OTOH, are simply an anonymous blogger. I know nothing about you (nor do I wish to). Certainly no one who can't even give his real name, has any significance or importance in the apologetic world.

But Bishop White (whatever one thinks of his work and his ethics) does have this importance. So I will spend time shooting down his "reviews" but I see little reason to spend much time on your sophistical inanities.

Obviously the praise of White also includes insults, but it is particularly interesting that Mr. Armstrong would choose to use an "anonymous" blogger's anonymity as an ad hominem reason to avoid responding to the difficult questions raised by said blogger.

In response:

Dave: as I responded in your combox, that's just mean. If you believe that your criticis are providing "sophistical inanities," don't simply assert it, demonstrate it. When you dodge the issues and hurl ad hominem arguments and well-poisoning characterizations of your opponents, your readers start to realize that it's bluster not rebuttal. When you accuse Dr. White of "falsehoods and misrepresentations and mockeries" and can only demonstrate that he mocks you, your readers are left wondering why you do not demonstrate the more serious allegations.

Of course, there are some closed-minded folks who will eat up every criticism of any outspoken non-Catholic apologist, whether it is substantiated or not. Nevertheless, there is also a significant body of readers who are put off by excuses for failing to rebut what one's opponent has to say. If you are simply pandering to the former group, there is no reason for you to continue reading, or for the latter group to continue reading your writings.

But surely the latter group dominates, and you have given many indications that you want their readership as well. Those readers, however, are interested in a consistent presentation of the truth. There is something about your evasion above that gives most of us pause.

Indeed, as most readers would, I find your comments above particularly interesting in view of your previous comments/questions:
Oh goody. Two names. I commend you. Now about about you, Turretin? You feeling brave today?
You asked for Gojira's name (Doug Mabry), and then mine, yet above you claim "I know nothing about you (nor do I wish to)."

And your previous assertion:
"Turretinfan" (who shows up here occasionally and then flees as soon as he is challenged) offers a comment right out of the anti-Catholic "DA playbook" (note the obligatory reference to being taken "seriously").

People can review my blog to try to find a single instance when you "challenged" me, and folks can review your blog for the same elusive instance. Is there even one such instance? But it is plain, here, in this instance, who is running away and making excuses for not responding to a challenge. It's one thing to falsely accuse someone of sniping and quite another to demonstrate it.

My challenges to your arguments stand unrebutted. When you are tired of hiding behind the excuse that I have not told you who I am, you may feel free to interact with my arguments. I am a man (of the male variety) with a Bible, the illuminating aid of the Holy Spirit, and a mind. That is all you need to know, and all the information I give anyone over the Internet. Quit trying to go after my person and address my arguments, if you can. And if you cannot, revise your position, striking the errors from your position. Apologetics, Dave, is not about personalities but positions.

My position is rock solid because it is consistent with, drawn from, and grounded and rooted in the unchanging truth of Scripture. I have not the least bit of fear in responding to the positions of others (including anonymous commentators), because I know the reason why I believe what I believe, and because I am willing to learn. Can you say the same?



Turretinfan said...

Dave's response, from his own combox, is (all bold is Dave's:
It may seem that way, but it makes perfect sense from where I sit. I have a finite amount of time and lots and lots of topics that I deal with, and I want to produce the most impact in my apologetics (as a matter of stewardship under God), so I choose to deal with the most well-known anti-Catholics, insofar as I deal with anti-Catholicism at all, which isn't much, and often, not at all (I stopped for two whole years recently because I had already done so much of it).

Nothing I say about anti-Catholicism or some of its proponents is as remotely "mean" as what you guys say about us. I've never called you a "wolf" and suchlike. I describe your work as "sophistical inanities" but you describe mine as "noisesome rhetoric" etc., and many of the commenters on your blog are much more insulting than that and you sit there and utter no protest, nor do you urge them to exercise the most rudimentary charity, as I would do if someone made vitriolic attacks on my theological opponents. I don't see much difference there; do you?

Lastly, you made the choice to go only by a nickname. I'm sick and tired of disembodied nicknames on the Internet, esp. from my most severe critics, and those who wish to engage in serious debate. If you can't even stand up and give us a real name and some report of an actual human being who exists out there somewhere and has a job and a history, and (possibly) a wife and children (in "real life"), and a photograph, then don't get mad at me that this makes a difference in how people interact with you. That's just how it is; at least in my book. It was your choice. Live with it.

If you remain anonymous because it would harm you to be known, then perhaps you should consider getting off the Internet altogether, if it is that risky of an enterprise and something to be so ashamed of that it requires anonymity. I am completely serious and sincere; I'm not trying to make a mere insult.


Dave, the "not enough time" excuse may be legitimate. In this case, I think most people will view it as pretext, given that you did not list it first. IOW, the time issue is not the real issue.

That this is a mere pretext is confirmed by your rant regarding anonymous Internet commentators. Their anonymity has no bearing on their arguments. If you were an apologist who dealt with arguments, not the people who give the arguments, anonymity would not matter.

Evaluate the arguments, and respond to them if you can. If you cannot, revise your position to the point where it can take the heat of criticism, without having to attack the person of your critics.


Turretinfan said...

And Dave's Second reply (again) from his own combox (Dave's comments in bold):

Without missing a beat, Turretinfan makes his reply, claiming that I am a coward who won't defend my beliefs.


(-_-) zzzzzzzz....................

What else is new? Man, these anti-Catholics need to get some fresh strategy. They're altogether too predictable.

Meanwhile, Bishop Jimbo White (how many times must I point this out?) can ignore literally a dozen or more of my in-depth critiques of his work, and that's fine.

I invite any reader to point out where I call Dave a coward. I don't need to call Dave names, I rebut his arguments, and he is unable to recover from the rebuttal.

The most has has come up with is an ad hominem attack on me for being anonymous.

That's not a rebuttal, Dave.

But I don't actually attribute your refusal to address the issues to cowardice, but to positional weakness. Your arguments cannot withstand theological scrutiny. That's why you cannot substantively reply, not because you are yellow.


Dave Armstrong said...

Dave, the "not enough time" excuse may be legitimate.

All the more so now, since I just started on Thursday a non-writing full-time job that is in addition to my apologetics, which I have been doing full-time (hours-wise) since 1997.

One chooses who they will respond to. I gave my reasons why I choose not to respond to you in depth. You can either accept them or not. They have nothing to do with inability, either, as you are now making out.

It's called "stewardship". I'm sure you understand that idea. We are responsible under God for how we use our time. The apologist applies that principle in specific ways in deciding who to respond to.

I explained some of that application already:

1. James White is a very well-known anti-Catholic apologist; therefore it is more sensible to reply to him than to you, because he influences many more people. Therefore, my reply can potentially reach that many more people.

2. I don't care (generally) for dealing with people who refuse to give their real name. If you're so ashamed of what you argue here that that you can't give your real name, then I think you should seriously reconsider your presence on the Internet.

Imagine if, for example, I went to my new job and when they asked me my name I said "Aquinasfan." When pressed to give them my given name, I reply that it has no bearing on how good of a worker I am. How ridiculous would that be?

Yet you expect me to take you as seriously as James White when you won't even tell us your real name or anything about you.

Sorry; that IS relevant, when you are demanding that I take my more-than-ever limited time as an apologist to refute everything you write. I have to make the choices that I think are most sensible, under God, as I live for and to Him, not you.

Turretinfan said...


Again, the "not enough time" reason would have a more legitimate ring if had simply stated so up front - stating it after your primary reason has been debunked makes it far less credible.

The idea that I'm not a big enough fish to fry might seem reasonable, but then again, you recently responded to Mr. Mabry's posts, and he's not that much of a bigger fish in the apologetic world. (No offense, Doug!)

You also responded recently to the "Reformed Catholicism" group, which isn't particularly significant apologetically either.

So again, the idea that you only respond to major apologists starts to run afoul of the historical data.

Finally, of course, the conclusion of your post is more complaints that I am anonymous, with an irrelevant comparison to the labor market (Must I also give you my SSN? I would have to if I were applying for a job).

The argument "If you're so ashamed of what you argue here that that you can't give your real name," shows only your own desire to know the names of your opponents.

Likewise, the complaint that "you are demanding that I take my more-than-ever limited time as an apologist to refute everything you write" is plainly absurd. Neither is any significant amount of what I write even germane to you, nor do I "demand" that you respond.

What I do "demand" is that you not substitute ad hominem insults for reasoned argumentation.

I don't know how quick you are on your feet, but presumably in the time it took you to gripe about not knowing my name or anything about me personally, you could have tried to address one of the substantive critiques of your position.

Perhaps it would be good stewardship not to waste your limited time explaining why you don't want to interact with people whose real names you don't know, but instead to address the substantive arguments (they could be mine, or White's, or Mabry's, or those of a myriad of others).

Oh yes, I almost forgot - I notice that you interact with Mr. Incredible, all the while mockingly calling him "one of the logical and exegetical giants that populate" Gojira's blog comments.

Yeah, I don't think any but your most loyal supporters are buying the idea that you only respond to such major apologists as Dr. White, or that you don't deal with people who don't give their real name.