Tuesday, July 12, 2005

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Evidence!

Some of the latest comments from Kevin Johnson regarding the Damage Control post:

You see….what is missing here is the fact that I never intended to present an argument against Mr. McGrew or Mr. Svendsen or anyone else that has commented on Tim Enloe’s original entry. As I said earlier, we’re not involved in the sort of abstract argumentation that characterizes the academic community of the Western world. Putting an argument forth is not always the best or most proper response to comments that are made attacking someone.

By way of reply:

Dr McGrew merely responded to Enloe's essay and pointed out some serious errors/omissions. The response was an "attack" in the sense that some publicly displayed contentions were shown to be based on poor historical background, faulty reasoning, or a lack of breadth in the relevant literature. How this is a personal attack is beyond me, if McGrew's comments are factually correct.

This sort of tactic is the same sort of tactic I've seen first-hand in the academy, and in dealing with people who have a leftist and/or relativistic flair: deny the need to produce evidence to support one's strong claims. In dealing with people who have imbibed portions of postmodernism, I get the same response. At this point, I suppose one just walks away when the other refuses to substantiate claims.

Here’s what I would like to know. Mr. PP, Cryablogue, Svendsen and others seem to think they can dictate the nature of any discussion on these topics by calling for this argument and that response and crying foul when people like myself refuse to cooperate. This is not the hallowed halls of pompous academia. This is not the place where an exacting argument reigns supreme (if that were true, I think they would have problems here as well!). This is not the place where they either control the flow or nature of the discussion at hand. The Internet is not under their thumb and the idea that they can hold others accountable to a standard that is clearly something other than is just laughable.

By way of response: I'm sympathetic to Johnson's idea of "pompous academia," and my bet is that he and I would agree on a large collection of people/ideas/etc that could be considered "pompous." But, the general rules of argumentation are not elements of the set of pompous academic things. By asking for evidence and such, we're not appealing to some radical set of rules on an argument. We're merely appealing to the notion that if you want to make sweeping or strong claims to people who are not already in agreement with such sweeping or strong claims, then some sort of actual argument has to be given.

One possible response is that Johnson, Enloe, and other Reformed Catholics aren't talking to those who would disagree. And this response, if it were offered, would be fine, apart from the fact that it stands in a certain degree of contradistinction to
the following claim found in the initial post at Communio Sanctorum:

This journal seeks to explore issues related to catholicity and to provide a forum for Reformed and other Christians to examine issues related to what the Heidelberg Catechism calls “our catholic, undoubted christian faith” (Q/A 22) with an eye to the unity our Lord prayed for in John 17.

Given the dismissal and the attempt to equate a request for evidence with an authoritarian exercise, it seems clear, at least to me, that the notion of a "forum for Reformed and other Christians to examine issues" related to the Christian faith means next to nothing. I would think a forum would be a place where ideas and their merits are discussed, but that's probably just my acute case of logocentrism flaring up again!


Blogger centuri0n said...


That's what you get for using the objective exegesis machine on the words over at communio sanctorum. If you expect them to mean what they say, well, you are the one who brought the word "mean" into the conversation. That makes you mean.

Then there's the use of the word "attack", which none of those fellows use with any kind of restraint. For example, I think it would be fair to say that when I told Kevin that if he really believed in a truly catholic (small "c") church he could muster up the intestinal fortitude to stop church-hopping and actually practice some personal catholicity toward actual humans in actual churches, that was an attack. No doubt.

However, when he called Dr. McGrew's response to Tim Enloe's mistakes and failures of insight "attacks", how does he qualify that? In what way is Dr. McGrew's letter an attack but Enloe's work is only ... what? Musing? Rumination? Persiflage? Palaver? Panegyric?

It's a clown car, and just when you think the last one got out there's another big floppy foot coming out the door.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 8:54:00 AM  
Anonymous CalvinDude said...

Actually I think I would have responded to KJ the following way:

As I said earlier, we’re not involved in the sort of abstract argumentation that characterizes the academic community of the Western world. Putting an argument forth is not always the best or most proper response to comments that are made attacking someone.

Response: And you wonder why no one takes you seriously?

Oh well. It's fun to play sometimes. If KJ is not putting forth an arguement, then all he is putting forth is an opinion (and even an opinion is often nothing more than a veiled argument put forth by those with no spine to defend it). Thus, KJ really has no basis to complain that others think his opinion is bunk. Either KJ must defend his opinion with an argument to show his opinion is actually true or he must admit that, by George, other people can have opinions that differ from him and (gasp) maybe they have a reason to hold to what they hold to!

I have a nephew who is almost 1 year old. He believes he is the center of the universe. One wouldn't expect him to realize that his opinions don't shape reality. I used to hold KJ, TGE, et. al. to a higher standard. But frankly, I see no reason to now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...


(1) Congratulations on finally figuring out my "secret" identity!

(2) I like the clown car analogy, but somehow we want to work in pie-throwing too.

CD --- no disagreements with anything you wrote!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 12:44:00 PM  

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