Thursday, January 7, 2010

No True Scotsman: No true Atheist

There is a ploy practiced by many atheist of the type who inhabit places such as the Secular Web and Infidel guy. It's been so institutionalized it's almost a mortar. In fact I've seen this kind of things so many times now, when the Christian apologists get together they can stamp it out, but no soon will they rid the net of one institutionalized atheist fallacy, than another will rear its ugly head.

The fallacy to which I reefer here is the "No true Scotsman," fallacy (NSF). I dot' know the etymology exactly, but the general idea is that in the heat of argument one is likely to say something like "no true American would ever (do whatever)" The way it's used is this:

Atheist claims something like "Hitler was a Christian." The Christian makes the mistake of saying "O but he wasn't a true Christian because bah, so the atheist says 'that's the NTSF So without even thinking about it, they just dogmatically declare anyone was ever a Christian of any kind to have always been one. Once a Christian always a Christian (unless you become an atheist a post on the secular we) and then anything you do that's negative pertains to Christianity as the upshot of being a chrisiatn. So Mao was a Christian because he heard a Bible verse once, therefore, Christianity makes you become the Chairman of the Chinese communist party and write little red books.

This has become such a mantra that it cancels any kind of critical thought. Anytime any apologist comes near any sort of questioning as to one's Christian credentials the atheist says something like "I hear bag pipes playing." We need to make up a Nam for the fallacy of calling everything the no true Scotsman fallacy. What really amusing is that they are using the fallacy in the wrong way, as though they dot' really know what it means! The true fallacy is aimed at people who try to use patriotism to win arguments. No true American would call for pulling out of Irk (or Vietnam or whatever hopeless mess we've gotten ourselves into this decade). But that is not the same saying that any time one says "so and so Is not a Christian" it's the fallacy. That fallacy has nothing to do with the commitment level of a particular individual. It has to do with the way in which I construct another perinea's commitment level. If the commitment level of an individual can be demonstrated toward some affiliation then obviously that person can be said to be or not to be "a true so and so" (whatever it is). The only requisite criteria would be that there must be clear guidelines as to what a true so and so is about. That's why the no true Scotsman thing is a fallacy, because there is no way to know what a true Scotsman would say about any given issue, since being a Scotsman (or an American) is rarely a voluntary affiliation. Of course there are cases in which we CNA say no true Scotsman would do X and it not be fallacious. Fore example; no true Scotsman is born in China of Chinese patrons who no relation of any kind of with Scotland and who have never been to Scotland. Such a person hardly had any claim to being a Scotsman, but even in such a case the idea of being a Scotsman is still rather vel. Perhaps one coulee be a true Scotsman if one pinched pennies, played golf, kept sheep, ate fried Mars bars, and wore lad, even if one had never been to Scotland and was not Celtic origin.

The idea of being a Christian is a bit more voluntary than being a Scotsman, thus it is a big less difficult to pin down. This is true, moreover, because Jesus did says something about what is followers would do and would not do. We can say "no true Christian would be anti-Semitic" since Christ was Semitic. Since worshiping Jesus of Nazareth as the son of God is part of being a true Christian, and this is stated in the manifesto (the Bible) then we just might conclude that one who doesn't' do that is not a Christian. Moreover, the church itself laid down guidelines for being member of the Christian community (the church invented the word "Christian" not Jesus). Those guidelines are embodied in the creeds. So in fact yes we can exactly say with no fear of contradiction or of fallacy that no true Christian would ever say anything contrary to the creeds. Because to say that is to be an untrue Christian. Paul said no one by can say by the power of the Spirit "Jesus be cursed" (1 OCR). He was not committing the no true Scotsman fallacy. He was laying down a statement of spiritual fact. So we can say based upon this fact, "no true Christian prophet can say by the power of God that Jesus is cursed." This is a factual statement, given the assumptions of Christian belief. and not the NSF.

It would not be smart to concentrate too hard on stamping out this silly mortar of the atheists. They will only replace it with another. In the mean time, we know to deal with it, we can always use it to our advantage. If it is a fallacy to argue that so and so wasn't' a Christian, because Christianity is very diverse and we can't say who is and who is not and the attempt to try is always a fallacy, then it must also be the same fallacy to say "all Christians do x." The idea that Christianity causes all these social harms and leads people to be right winners is also the same fallacy.

28 comments:

Kristen said...

I have gotten to where I avoid the issue altogether by saying, "such and such a teaching is not a tenet of Christianity as taught by Jesus and the apostles."

That way, I'm not defining Christianity by what someone who professes it does or doesn't do, but by what the founders of the faith actually said.

Metacrock said...

very good point!

A Hermit said...

"We can say "no true Christian would be anti-Semitic" since Christ was Semitic."

So Martin Luther wasn't a "real Christian" then? ;-)

Metacrock said...

We can say "no true Christian would be anti-Semitic" since Christ was Semitic."

So Martin Luther wasn't a "real Christian" then?

Probably not. are you gonna sign up as a follower?

A Hermit said...

Seems to me that you're narrowing the number of actual Christians down to a very small number of people who fit the category of "people agreeing with Metacrock about everything"...;-)

Metacrock said...

that's so idiotically stupid. how could anyone with half a brain think in that. how fucking stupid can you get.

so it's either anyone says "I am a Christian has to be definitive of Christianity no matter what they believe or else I'm narrowing it to just those I agree with totally.

what an idiot. I told you could post here if you didn't just try to cause trouble and that's exactly what you are doing because you can't that stupid.

A Hermit said...

"so it's either anyone says "I am a Christian has to be definitive of Christianity no matter what they believe or else I'm narrowing it to just those I agree with totally."

No, that's not what I'm saying and if you'd calm down and think a little you'd realize it.

Do you seriously not think that someone, like Martin Luther for example, could have some wrong opinions and beliefs and still be a Christian?

You told me to come back and address the issues; that's what I'm doing. If you can't face a contrary opinion or a little friendly criticism without resorting to insults and profanity that's your choice I suppose, but don't accuse me of being a troublemaker when you're the one calling me names and cursing at me.

Loren said...

Kristen and Metacrock, your definition would rule out nearly all of Xianity, including yours, because it all involves various departures from Jesus Christ's teachings.

How many do I have to list?

Metacrock said...

Kristen and Metacrock, your definition would rule out nearly all of Xianity, including yours, because it all involves various departures from Jesus Christ's teachings.

How many do I have to list?


you don't understand anything I believe. you don't pay attention to anything I say, like Hermit you twist my wrods, either though malicious entent or just not knowing enough to understand what you are going. But you don't enough about Christian theology to say what's screwed up and what isen't.

You want a hard and fast identification so tis' easy to pigeon hole people. That's why Hermit can't accept that an single atheist could fabricate statistics, because if he does that means all atheists guilty of it.

*Since God sees the heart we do not have to know or decide who is saved and who is not. God knows that we don't get to decide it.

*we can know clearly what Chrstian teaching invovles and what does not involved part form knowing the eternal fate of each individual.

*It's a relationship, you have to know God on an individual basis. The extent to which one keeps teachings is the extent to which your hear is seeking to please God not the following of the letter of the law.

this is all because salvation is by grace, unmerited favor, not by works, keeping rules and law. We don't get to decide who get's in, God does. But we can know what the teachings are.

Metacrock said...

HermitDo you seriously not think that someone, like Martin Luther for example, could have some wrong opinions and beliefs and still be a Christian?

Of course! Duh! I'm shacked and horrified that anyone would think that you got to hell for having a wrong opinion on some issue.that's cretinous thinking. Although I guess it's just a matter of your background.

But everyone has some issue where they are wrong about something that's just a given.

If salvation is based upon always being right then its' earned. In the protestant world salvation is nto earned it's grace, unmerited favor.

A Hermit said...

SO on the one hand you tell me that you can't know who is or isn't "saved", yet you seem to be able to determine quite definitely who is and is not a "real" Christian.

Explain to me how that works?

Metacrock said...

SO on the one hand you tell me that you can't know who is or isn't "saved", yet you seem to be able to determine quite definitely who is and is not a "real" Christian.

Explain to me how that works?

you can say who is and who is not representing Christian beliefs properly.

Atheists invented that answer so they could accuse Christians of being Nazis. But by the same logic that means atheists are communists and Stalinists and share the guilt of Stalin.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I've never seen the No True Scotsman fallacy used in this manner. I, and many ex-Christians use it when some fundie tries to tell us we were never a True Christian.

Metacrock said...

I've seen it used that way a lot. You don't post on CARM or Sec web.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Yeah, I don't post on CARM, because I'm not looking for a fight.

Kristen said...

Yes, there is a converse fallacy that goes like this: any person who claims to be a member of a certain group is representative of that group, no matter how poorly said person meets the actual defining criteria of that group.

I guess we could call this the "No False Scotsman" fallacy. *grin*

Metacrock said...

Blogger Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Yeah, I don't post on CARM, because I'm not looking for a fight.

It was not a criticism. Just an explanation.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"It was not a criticism. Just an explanation."

Oh I know, just getting my 2 cents in about CARM and you being a glutton for punishment. ;-)

Metacrock said...

with Hermit I don't need carm

A Hermit said...

"you can say who is and who is not representing Christian beliefs properly."

Unfortunately we can find more Christians who say YOU are the one who is not representing Christian beliefs properly (CARM again...)

"Atheists invented that answer so they could accuse Christians of being Nazis. But by the same logic that means atheists are communists and Stalinists and share the guilt of Stalin."

The difference being that you won't hear atheists denying that Stalin was an atheist.

Metacrock said...

Yes I have. I have seen atheists try to deny that Stalin was an atheist. They also try to deny that communist atheism is really "true" atheism like the kind they have.

Kristen said...

Yes, atheists do distinguish between atheistic communism (atheism wed to ideology) and atheism alone (simple lack of belief in God). But to compare atheism and Christianity along those terms is a false comparison. If atheism is nothing but a lack of belief in God, then it must be compared to theism (simple belief in God), not any particular expression of theism, such as Christianity-- and certainly not to Christian right-wing fundamentalism, which is theism wed to ideology, just as communism is atheism wed to ideology.

If atheists want to distinguish between simple atheism and atheistic communism, that's fine, but they should allow theists to distinguish along the same lines when it comes to right-wing fundamentalism.

I would also say that evangelical atheism (the kind of atheism that seeks converts, seeks to de-convert Christians) is also atheism-plus, and not simple atheism alone. As I'm sure you must realize, Hermit, it's these "evangelical" atheists that Metacrock is writing about on Atheist Watch. He's not writing about people who simply don't believe in God. If the shoe doesn't fit you-- then stop accusing Metacrock of trying to put it on your foot! *grin*

As for this:

"Unfortunately we can find more Christians who say YOU are the one who is not representing Christian beliefs properly."

That is their right-- but it's beside the point here. The point is not that there is disagreement among Christians regarding certain tenets of their faith-- the point is that there IS a central core of teaching that defines Christian beliefs (see Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis). And you can't just say that anyone can believe anything they want about those core beliefs and still be representative of Christianity.

Kristen said...

Just thought of a practical example: No matter how many Christians, through the centuries, have practiced "kill the heathen," the fact remains that "kill unbelievers" is not a tenet of Christianity. There is no place in any of the founders' teachings where such a thing can even remotely be interpolated. Therefore, those who practiced "kill the heathen" were not representative of Christianity in so doing. I agree that it would be the "no true Scotsman" fallacy to claim absolutely that they weren't Christians-- but those actions were not the tenets of Christianity, and we cannot claim that just because some Christians did them, that this was a "Christian" thing to do. That would be what I am calling the "no false Scotsman" fallacy.

Get my drift?

GEO777 said...

Hitler's first move towards the churches of Germany and

Austria was to remove the bible and replace it with Mein

Kempf. No *professing* Christian (true or not, fake or

real) would do that. He did it because once he got total

power he could reveal who he thought the real god was

without fear of recrimination---himself!
Atheist argumentation is grasping for straws when trying

to point to Hitler as a professing Christian either a

"true one" or a "false one". I've read and studied Mein

Kempf in English (you can still find it at academic

libraries in large universities for free) and this is not

a religious man either Christian or otherwise he is

psychologically focused on intense nationalistic politics

re: Germany.
If I was an atheist I wouldn't focuse on such arguments

about 'hitler was a christian' smokescreen because its so

easily proven that Hitler was not a religious man, that is

religion did not motivate him: political nationalistic

'love' for Germany and the 'Germanic People' did. His

favorite thinker was Nietzche so much so that he sought

out Nietzche's sister who was still alive to tell her what

an influence that man was on his life. Nietzche was not

exactly a christian philosopher to put it mildly. He

opposed christianity and judaism. However he was opposed

to racism and hated the Nazis. But his sister was an eager

anti-semite and was overjoyed with Hitlers view of her

brothers 'will to power' philosophy. What she did in

promoting her brothers philosophy was willfully add the

racism aspect to it and was so pro-Nazi that the Party

started giving her an allowance for her work and hitler

attended her funeral. Hitler's working 'religion' if you

will was a mangled version of the original will to power

(for like I said Nietzche was not a racist and hated the

racist aspect of hitler's views).

GEO777 said...

A quote from a professional Times journalist:
"The kidnapping of Nietzsche's thinking was complete when

a copy of Thus Spake Zarathustra, a poetic work of anti-

dogmatism, was laid in the Tannenberg Memorial

(commemorating a victory over Russia in the First World

War), alongside a copy of Mein Kampf"
read the whole article:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/ben_ma

cintyre/article3634609.ece
Also this great student research work:
http://www.history.ucsb.edu/faculty/marcuse/classes/133p/1

33p04papers/MKalishNietzNazi046.htm
and the wiki entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisabeth_F%C3%B6rster-

Nietzsche#National_Socialism

Hitler and Neitzhes sister (social visit and funeral):
http://books.google.com/books?id=-

MS2pTEK_MwC&pg=PA151&lpg=PA151&dq=nietzsche's+sister+hitle

r&source=bl&ots=g110rOaxlh&sig=03KvGxShxwZlIIjp6vvZPWtvQaE

&hl=en&ei=jUhLS5vrMdTqlAfil_WJDQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=re

sult&resnum=7&ved=0CBcQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=nietzsche's%

20sister%20hitler&f=false

Hitler's 'religion' was an intense Germanic political

nationalism with a twisted intepretation of Nietzche's

'will to power' thanks to Nietzche's sister. Religion,

chrisitian or otherwise, politics, pyschology were

irrelevant to him. What was relevant was to bring the

Germanic peoples their "rightful" place as leaders of the

world and the Reich as the dominant Empire of the world.

Christian? inspired by Christianity? Hardly.
Also the Nazis in their internal meetings brought back

some Norse God worship because they believed that a

Germanic people should worship something 'essentially

Aryan' --christianity was viewed a la Nietzche as a

"Jewish import" even a trojan horse to weaken the 'great

aryan race'. Ásatrú is the name of the old Norse pagan

religion which he tried to pervert and which his inner

circle practiced. This is a historic fact by the way

attested to by many German's who attended the rituals.
For sources (there are many) check out Michael Burleigh,

The Third Reich: a New History, Pan, 2001

GEO777 said...

Here is an excerpt from one source showing that the

distortion of Norse paganism (remember he preverted it

Norse paganism is not racist or against Jewish people)

even reached the Hitler youth:
" A Hitler Youth marching song (book: Grunberger, A Social

History) illustrates it:
t:

We follow not Christ, but Horst Wessel,
Away with incense and Holy Water,
The Church can go hang for all we care,
The Swastika brings salvation on Earth.

(Horst Wessel was an early Nazi party Sturmabteilung

street-fighter murdered by communists and turned into a

martyr by propaganda chief Josef Goebbels.)

Reverend Veritas said...

I never use the Scotsman argument, not that I don't have the opportunities but because Christians frequently don't bother reading or contemplating what they've read in the Bible so I post verses that show their words and actions contradict the teachings of scripture. It's annoying that as an atheist I have to read and understand their Bible, even the Quran, to refute claims yet they can misinterpret, fabricate and out-right lie about the topic and rarely bother fact-checking themselves - Which I also have to do. I might as well have a one man debate where I argue with myself because I'd still do a far better job than many theists.

Joe Hinman said...

Everyone makes mistakes.

one is born a scotsman that's why it's fallacious to say "no ture Scotsman would do X." It is not fallacious to say "X behavior contradicts Christian teaching, becasue that's voluntary. One chooses to be a Christian. Thus living up the teachings or not is a possibility.