Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Heleen finds it relevant that…

Douglas Wilson has objectionable views.

She (an assumption, sorry if that's not correct, but I am not familiar with the name Heleen) makes her points in comments here and here.

Well, that would be relevant if I were blogging glowingly about Douglas Wilson's virtues in general. In fact, I have written at various times that I disagree with Wilson's views on theonomy, Christian education, the New Perspective on Paul, the Federal Vision, and his love affair with a fantasized version of the Confederacy. Not to mention that way, way back in 2002, in the nascent days of this blog, before I was an ID pariah, I criticized Wilson's misuse of the 2nd Law to attack evolution. On a personal note, being one-half of a racially mixed marriage, I would also question his milquetoasty and unconvincing condemnation of prohibitions against mixed marriages.

The only book of Wilson that I own, somewhere, is his book on classical Christian education. In there, Wilson makes an incorrect statistical argument (paraphrasing): Studies show that students who take Latin do better in other languages, therefore students should take Latin. He needs a bit more classical education himself on the misuse of correlations.

In fact, my most popular post ever (based on the number of emails it generated) was an anti-Wilsonian post, though it doesn't mention him by name.

But when I report on one comment that Wilson made that is spot-on, his views on other subjects are, in fact, irrelevant.

This is, of course, garden variety ad hominem. As defined here, the ad hominem argument consists of three steps:

  1. Person A makes claim X
  2. Person B makes an attack on Person A
  3. Therefore X is incorrect

In this case, Wilson wrote that the two fundamental axioms of atheism are:

  1. There is no God
  2. I hate him

As I wrote earlier, the biblical view (atheist commenters insisting they don't hate God missed or ignored the fact that I wrote the biblical view) is in agreement. They certainly deny God's existence. And, in the same sense that all fallen men do, prior to regeneration, they hate God. This is true regardless of whether or not they "feel" as if they have a personal enmity toward the Creator.

Heleen's argument is:

1. Wilson made those statements

2. Wilson's Wiki bio states, regarding his views on women:

Woman "was created to be dependent and responsive to a man," Wilson writes. Feminists seek "to rob women of their beauty in submission." Women should only be allowed to date or "court" with their father's permission — and then, if they are Christian, only with other Christians. If a woman is raped, the rapist should pay the father a bride price and then, if the father approves, marry his victim.

3. Therefore Wilson is wrong

There are two other places where this kind of arguing often appears. When I write favorably about Martin Luther, someone will inevitably point out that he wrote horrific anti-Semitic rants, and indeed he did. Another place where you see such methods is when it comes to Darwin, where some opposed to evolution insist on pointing out that Darwin made racist comments. And indeed he did: I would say that a fair assessment of Darwin was that he was not a racist in the KKK-like sense, that is he did not advocate ill treatment of other races, but in the "Noble Savage" sense—he clearly believed that the lighter races were superior to the darker.

But when discussing Luther's views on justification and Darwin's views on evolution, their "dark sides" are of no more than historical interest.

Heleen, I would say, doesn't grasp that concept.

Heleen's other mistake is that she did not provide the context for Wilson's quote. Now, it's quite possible that the context does nothing to make Wilson look better, but I don't know. I don't have the full context—I can't find it in the wiki article, or anywhere else on-line.

Update: Heleen insists it was the comment's construction on her part that resulted in her comment appearing to be ad hominem, and I am prepared to take her at her word.

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