I have commented before on the lack of police for the blogosphere. It is a disconcerting thing. The reality is that anyone can say anything on a blog, which is fine. The problem is that some people feel no responsibility to actually make an argument or give evidence in support of their charge, even when directly asked.
This is a basic argumentative distinction: An assertion (or a conclusion) vs. an argument (or a premise). An assertion is a proposition: X is Y. It is, technically, a conclusion in most cases. An argument is a collection of evidences (e.g., logical induction or deduction, citation of quotations, etc.) that support the assertion and shows its foundation. An assertion needs arguments to demonstrate its validity. Arguments show why an assertion should be accepted as true.
I bring this up because recently, I saw a particular charge made, one that I have seen before. Once again, as with every other time I have seen it, there was no evidence put forth for this charge.
When I asked for some evidence, I was told that if I couldn’t already see it, this person did not know what to say to convince me.
I said, (in essence), “That’s easy an easy one. Give me a quote from someone. Point me to something that was said that supports your charge.”
I was met with a stony refusal.
Why? My gut tells me it is because this person knows that they have no evidence that supports this. They know it’s not true,or at least that they can’t show it is true. They know that they cannot make a believable case for it. That’s just my gut. I may be wrong, but to me, it should be easy to show if the evidence is as abundant as this man says it is.
Now, I don’t know this fellow apart from a few exchanges on the blogosphere. I have read his blog perhaps four or five times in my life. I found this article because it was linked somewhere else. So my point is not to go after this person (who is intentionally unnamed), because my point is not really about him per se, but about a bigger problem.
Here’s my point: This lack of argumentation is not a good thing. If you are going to say “X does Y” then show us where X does Y. Show us how you arrived at your conclusion. Or as our elementary school teachers used to say about our math, “Show your work.”
Your word means nothing when it comes to making charges against other people. And don’t bail out with “It’s plain and everyone can see it.” If it’s that plain, then it should be no problem to show it.
There are, in my opinion, some people who think they have the license to say whatever they want with no accountability. Let me be clear that I am not necessarily referring to this man who I don’t know and don’t read. But there are some who believe that their words alone are enough to prove something, and that nothing else should be required. The guy who asks about it is the bad guy, the dumb guy because he can’t already see it.
I wonder if this, in part, hearkens back to the day of pastoral authority that operated on the basis of “Because I said so, and you don’t question the man of God.” It smacks a bit of the appeal to authority, lacking only the authority.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why I am the bad guy for asking for a simple demonstration of how one arrived at a conclusion.
Fundamentalism needs to get past the day where “I said so” was considered an appropriate reason for anything past parenting a toddler. A toddler should be expected to obey because “I said so.” But we, as fellow believers, should not be expected to believe something “because you said so.”
Prove it; it should be easy. Or don’t say it until you can. Asking for evidence is hardly a “bizarre obsession.” It is actually the only reasonable response, isn’t it?
So let me conclude: If you want to say that fundamentalists have a love affair with John Piper, Al Mohler, or whoever else, then make an argument and show us why you think that. And subject yourself to peer criticism. Don’t think that your word is sufficient proof. It’s not. If the evidence is as widespread as you think it is, then it should be a relatively easy task to cut-and-paste a few things (with their links so that we can see them in context) as evidence for your assertion.
NB – If you have evidence for the supposed “love affair” please post it here in the comments, or send it to me privately. I would honestly like to know what in the world is being referenced here.
I am not saying it’s not true. I am saying, I haven’t seen the evidence for it. Now, I admit up front to not reading many fundamentalists blogs. And you may use “love affair” differently than I would. But let’s put the cards on the table—(you better not be playing cards or we will turn you in)—let’s be plain about what we are talking about.