Thursday, April 22, 2010

Answering the Fallacy of The "No True Scotsman Fallacy"


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.


Rex said...

There are a couple of issues here.

One is that when a christian does something wrong, like say murdering a doctor in a church because gawd told him that the doctor was a tool of satan, then immediately all of the other christians will say, "well he did this horrible thing, so he wasn't a true christian". That is a problem.

If someone buys into the whole John 3:16 thing, and SELF IDENTIFIES as a christian, then that is how they are grouped.

Hitler self identified as a Catholic.

When all of the members of the Hutaree Christian Militia were arrested for conspiracy to commit domestic terrorism, immediately the gawd teamers said that they were not true christians. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. These loonies were doing gawds work the best way that they could interpret it, they self identify as christians, and the outside world's opinion makes no difference.

Christianity has tried for centuries to take credit for every good thing in the world, and chalk up everything bad to non belief or the work of the devil. Sorry, but you don't get off that easy any more. You gotta take the good with the bad, and lately with the Catholic pedophiles, and with the christian leadership blaming earthquakes on sin, the bad for the gawd team is front page news.

When an atheist does something bad, we have to take it on the chin and say yep, he did it and he should be punished.

Besides, christianity is so splintered, with so many sects and sub sects, that they all conflict enough that there is no sorting out who is a true christian any other way than how they identify themselves. The Catholics don't consider any other sect to be true christians, nor do the protestants, or the baptists etc.

Self identification is the only real way to group them.

Besides, you like to repeat over and over that christians make up 80% of this country, and that number would be much smaller if the people who are not "true" christians were removed from the list.

You can't have it both ways.

Metacrock said...

I am going to answer this in the main blog spot tomorrow.