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Christianity and Science, Creationism, Science, Young Earth Creationism

Adam, Animals, and the Fall: A response to ‘Defending Genesis’

I recently argued that Young Earth Creationism makes a theological blunder in that its picture of God is morally impermissible. Please read the full post here, as well as my response to the Answers in Genesis critique here.

The post has generated a large amount of discussion and a number of critiques. I am thankful for numerous thoughtful responses and while I can’t respond to all of them I’d like to at least answer a few more criticisms.

First, let me restate the argument:

1. If animals did not die before the fall, then their death must be the result of sin.

2. Animals are incapable of sinning (they are not morally responsible agents)

3. Therefore, animal death must be the result of a morally culpable agent’s sin.

From this, I concluded that because God kills animals due to Adam’s sin, and not their own, this would make God unjust. As  I noted in my response to Answers in Genesis, “The argument as it stands contains a few assumptions which I’ve found in YEC literature. 1) Animals did not die before the fall; 2) Death is inherently a bad thing; 3) all physical death is the result of sin. Now a denial of these assumptions can undermine my argument; I grant that. My point is that if one holds to these three assumptions, my argument shows that YEC is morally impermissible.”

Now, the post has received another lengthy critique from “Defending Genesis” over at http://siriusknotts.wordpress.com/. The post in question can be found here.

I’d like to thank Rev. Tony Breeden for his thoughtful criticism of my post, but still offer my response and hope that any dialog that continues can ensure that iron sharpens iron.

One criticism that has been repeated, and Rev. Breeden continues in this vein, is “At no point does his [my, J.W.’s] argument start with the Bible because he is supposing he can simply use Young earth Creationism’s presuppositions against us. So he’s not asking if Young Earth Creationism is Biblically correct but whether it will stand up to his rational critique. In this regard, his objection is more philosophical than theological.”

Others, like Elizabeth Mitchell at Answers in Genesis, have stated the objection more simply, “He cites no Scripture…”

Again, I must reiterate that in no way is exegesis the limit of theology. Those who wish to discredit my argument by this subtly veiled ad hominem seem to be unaware of the entire practice of analytic theology. I can’t help but think that these two examples are much less an attempt at getting to the issues as they are an attempt to discredit me personally because I did not use a passage from Scripture in my argument. Let me point out something: if someone’s theological background leads their position to paint a portrait of God that is unjust, that is very much a theological problem.

Moving on, the Rev. Breeden writes, “In any case, we can firmly establish that he’s not starting with the Bible as his ultimate authority.”

I’m very curious as to where this statement comes from. Clearly, God is my ultimate authority. The Bible, as I’ve argued elsewhere, is God’s inerrant word. I can’t help but think that this quotation is a not-so-subtle ad hominem. Perhaps it’s not, but one can’t help but wish that those criticizing my argument had stuck to the premises rather than going off on tangents and speculation.

Unfortunately, that is not the only tacit hint at my lack of Christian fortuity hinted at in the article. The Rev. proceeds to say, “In his rebuttal, Wartick admits that he remains oblivious [to Romans 8:20-22]…” Of course, in the post to which he is referring, I do not say anywhere that I remain oblivious. Rather, I pointed out that the verses do not establish that which Answers in Genesis (and apparently Rev. Breeden) want them to.

Thankfully, Rev. Breeden does turn to the arguments eventually. He agrees with my contention that animals are not moral agents (he says that it is “true enough”). Yet the Rev. does not believe that God’s character is called into question despite the notion that if YEC’s contentions are true then God would have apparently decided to start killing animals due to Adam’s sin. Rather, he turns to Romans 8:20-22 and a bit of exegesis in order to draw out this point.

Writes Breeden, “The passage referenced [Romans 8:20-22] notes that all of creation has come under the bondage of corruption. It also admits that the whole of creation was not made subject to this futility willingly, which admits the point that it suffers but not of any decision it made itself. So why was it made bondage to decay, so that the whole of creation groans and travails in pain until now?”

Again, as I read this, I note that there is nothing here which states that animals did not die before the fall. Rather, as will be seen shortly, it seems the YEC control belief that animals could not have died before the fall forces this interpretation of the passage. Note that Rev. Breeden’s own words say that creation is subject to bondage and decay. There is nothing which mentions the explicit death of animals suddenly starting to occur post-fall.

Moving on, he writes, “The answer is found in Genesis 1:28, where God gave dominion over all creation to Adam. This is the answer to Wartick’s objection and to the more common atheist objection that God is unjust for making the rest of us culpable for Adam’s sin: just as when a kingdom suffers for the actions of its king, all of creation [including animals and humanity itself] suffered for the sin of the one who had been given dominion over them.”

Now this is the exact response one astute reader of the original post gave, and I admitted that this does seem to have some plausibility (of course my admission to plausibility was translated by Rev. Breeden into “So it appears his argument is refuted by his own admission…” which is hardly the case–again it seems that I am refused a fair hearing. But what is the problem with this interpretation? Let’s look at the verse in question, Genesis 1:28:

 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (NIV)

Does this verse establish a link between Adam’s death and animal death? I do not see how it does, at all. In fact, one could just as plausibly read it in conjunction with Romans 8:20-22 to show that mankind’s fallen state has lead to a misuse of man’s dominion over the earth which has indeed subjected it to decay and ruin–as anyone who does research on our impact on the environment could attest to. Such a reading does no damage to the text. Adam’s fall led to the corruption and decay of the earth due to Adam’s subjugation and dominion over it.

As pointed out by GeoChristian, the passages YECs cite to support their  contentions only lead to this support if one assumes YEC is correct to begin with. And here again we see that the reading of Genesis 1:28 in conjunction with Romans 8:20-22 is linked to animal only by the control belief that animal death is the consequence of the fall. The verses don’t say anything about animal death; that is simply read into the text.

Thus, it seems to me that despite my initial nod to the potential plausibility of this response, the texts that YECs use to support it do not offer anything near the robustness of the link between Adam’s dominion and animals’ death that is required for their position.

Moving on with the ad hominiems, we find that:

“For example, he [I, J.W. Wartick] suggests that a traditional orthodox reading of the text is incorrect and must be modified. This impugns the doctrine known as the perspicuity of Scripture, for he suggests that the traditional reading of Genesis is unclear; it also suggests a form of neo-Gnosticism, for it suggests that the Scriptures cannot be understood without an understanding of 21st century science.  While he claims that his argument shows that the traditional Biblical interpretation of Genesis is morally impermissible, he admits that his argument is partly a reaction to [dare I say, rebellion against] the point that a compromise with extraBiblical millions of years requires pre-Fall animal death, and that, as he notes, ‘animal death before the fall makes God morally questionable.'”

I would like the Reverend Breeden to point out where I made these assertions. Nowhere have I suggested that a “traditional orthodox reading of the text is incorrect” (unless one assumes that the YEC reading is the traditional, orthodox reading, contrary to evidence that as far back as Augustine, this has not been the required reading). Further, I do not suggest that reading Genesis is unclear. I have nowhere done this. Nor do I endorse neo-Gnosticism.

I noted on his blog that there seemed to be at least one subtle ad hominem in his post (and one seemingly can’t deny the string of unestablished claims about my Christian character above) and the Rev Breeden responded, saying “This is not an attack on you personally, but on your presuppositions, which begin with man’s fallible ideas rather than the Bible…”

I must object and point out this is simply false. One can’t help but notice several points throughout the post where Rev Breeden poisons the well regarding my character. A quick survey: “If you’re reading that from an orthodox Christian worldview [contrasted with my worldview]…”; “we can firmly establish that he’s [meaning me, J.W.] not starting with the Bible as his ultimate authority”; “if he were to examine the consequences of his own worldview, he would come to some troubling conclusions” [again suggesting that I am not an orthodox Christian]; “your [my, J.W.’s] presuppositions, which begin with man’s fallible ideas rather than the Bible” [in other words, I am accused of not taking the Bible as authoritative (again)]; “I would expect an apologist to recognize the difference between an ad hominem and a critique of one’s starting points” [a not-so-subtle hint that I am an inadequate apologist].

I’ll let the reader decide here. Read through my site, and notice that I defend the inerrancy of the Bible; that I argue for the existence of God; affirm the deity of Christ; have defended the Trinity against errors; have continually attacked naturalism; etc. Contrast that with Rev Breeden’s comments, in which he implies repeatedly that I am not orthodox, that I am “oblivious” to the Bible, and that I do not use Scripture as a starting point for my theology.

Frankly, I’m insulted, but I’m here going to publicly offer my forgiveness to the Reverend Breeden for his hopefully unintentional poisoning of the well in regards to my character. If he wishes to continue this dialog, I’d be happy to do so… but only provided he abstains from insulting my character in the process.

Conclusion

To sum up my answer to this criticism. First, my argument clearly has not been answered by “Defending Genesis.” As I pointed out, the majority of the criticisms were in fact just thinly veiled (if at all) insults, for which I have offered forgiveness. The substantive part of the critique focused upon a few verses for which I’ve pointed out at least one alternative, and which I have noted do not, in fact, establish the point that “Defending Genesis” attempted to make. I pointed out that only with the assumed truth of the control belief that animal death is the result of the fall will those verses be read as YECs do. I noted that the case for linking animal death to Adam’s dominion is not nearly as robust as it would have to be in order to establish the link YECs hope to establish.

Thus, it seems my argument has not been refuted. It still seems that if we grant the YEC control belief that animal death is inherently bad and link it to the fact (granted by “Defending Genesis”) that animals are not moral agents then we find that according to the theological tenants of YEC, God unjustly punishes animals.

Finally, I have made an appeal to those in this debate to stay away from personal attacks. I have demonstrated that I have already weathered some of these, but have offered my forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ for these  personal attacks. Going forward, I hope these can be avoided.

Image credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:R%C3%B8d_r%C3%A6v_(Vulpes_vulpes).jpg

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

14 thoughts on “Adam, Animals, and the Fall: A response to ‘Defending Genesis’

  1. JW,
    I’ll admit that I haven’t had my eye on this post, so I’m a little behind. This may be a tangent or you may have already answered this somewhere else, but I’m immensely interested in this line of reasoning from Breeden:

    “The answer is found in Genesis 1:28, where God gave dominion over all creation to Adam. This is the answer to Wartick’s objection and to the more common atheist objection that God is unjust for making the rest of us culpable for Adam’s sin: just as when a kingdom suffers for the actions of its king, all of creation [including animals and humanity itself] suffered for the sin of the one who had been given dominion over them.”

    It has been mentioned that atheists object to the culpability of people for Adam’s sin as well as the culpability of animals as you discuss. There are actually two things I’d like the chance to discuss. One is the idea that God punishes the members of a kingdom for the sins of the king, which I find repulsive, and two is where sin begins and where death begins in your view of creation/evolution. Again, if you’ve already dealt with these issues elsewhere, then I hope you’ll just point me there.
    Walt

    Posted by Walt | March 28, 2012, 7:52 AM
    • Walt,

      I have extensively explored these articles in my reading, but the issues are so complex and diverse that it would be hard to keep on top of every detail. So let me offer a response.

      I do think there is something a bit odd about the punishment of individual members in a kingdom for the sins of a king. However, it does not seem unjust for God to punish a kingdom (as a unit). The distinction is important, and I’m not entirely sure how to deal with it in the context of humans and animals.

      My view of creation/evolution is a bit hard to nail down. I’m constantly reading more on the topic and, due to the theological or scientific insights I’m receiving (not trying to draw a hard line between theology and science–indeed, I think they are in unison) I update my view. I’d have to say at this point I do not think that animal death entered with the fall. I certainly do think human death entered at the fall: it makes the most sense of the Biblical text, but nowhere do I see explicit mention of animal death. And, as I suggest in this post, it seems there are a few readings which allow for all of creation to groan/decay even without death explicitly entering at the Fall.

      Does that help?

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | March 28, 2012, 9:41 AM
      • Hey JW,

        Thanks for the response – it seems you’re getting flooded with comments, and I appreciate your feedback.

        Would you explain the distinction between punishing individual members of a kingdom and punishing a kingdom as a unit?

        I admire your willingness to say you don’t have it nailed down yet. I don’t want to force the subject too much, but I do want to explore a view possibilities. Maybe you could give me a yes, no, or maybe on these options that I see:

        1) Adam was the first human and also the source of original sin – sin and death originated with Adam, and animals were punished and started dying as a result.
        2) Adam was the first human and also the source of original sin – sin originated with Adam, but death is not necessarily bad, so animals had already been dying for awhile. Death originated for humans with Adam.
        3) Adam was a marked evolutionary transition from the other great apes to what God called human and was also the source of original sin – sin originated with Adam, but animals and pre-humans had already been dying for awhile.
        4) Adam was a metaphor, and we don’t know when God first considered Great Apes to be moral agents, but there was original sin at some point, and death had already been occurring for awhile.
        5) Other

        To be frank, I’m interested in this point because original sin makes sense with old or young earth creation, but punishment of the kingdom as a result of a single person’s sin is repulsive to me, and because original sin in the context of evolution seems like a hard case due to the need for a line to be drawn between “Adam” and other great apes. Thanks for the discussion.

        Posted by Walt | March 28, 2012, 12:05 PM
      • Walt,

        I think the distinction I’m trying to make with kingdoms is one of intent. For example, when the Allied powers levied a number of fines upon the German government after WWI, they were not intending to punish individuals in Germany, but rather the nation as a whole. The example is a stretch because the punishment had huge affects on the individuals as well, but the point I’m trying to make is that it seems there is a distinction between punishing individuals and punishing a country. While punishing the country may (and almost always probably does) punish individuals, this is a matter of intent: is one intentionally punishing individuals? I hope that helps a bit.

        Regarding your questions:

        1) No, I do not think that animals died due to Adam’s sin.
        2) I think this view lines up more with my belief.
        3) I’m not entirely sure I’m reading this one correctly. If the suggestion is that humans specifically did evolve from apes, I do not hold that position. I do think humans were specially created.
        4) I definitely don’t hold this position either.

        And I do not hold to punishment of the “kingdom” for Adam’s sin. I do think, however, that the discussion of decay in context with Adam’s sin points to how humanity has contributed enormously to change and decay on Earth.

        Does that help?

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | March 29, 2012, 4:23 PM
      • Hey JW,
        I think I understand your distinction based on intent, but I don’t see how it would apply to an omnipotent God. For example, if America had the ability to bomb key targets rather than carpet bomb Dresden, you would think it evil that America chose to unnecessarily carpet bomb. I find your post-WWI analogy fascinating, because this punishment certainly didn’t help us avoid WWII. This minor point seems unrelated, but I would argue that punishing the nation of Germany was counterproductive at best. The overall point I’m trying to make is that it doesn’t make sense to me why a benevolent being would unnecessarily bring grief to individuals in a kingdom when this being most certainly has the power to specifically target punishment to those deemed worthy of punishment. The conclusion here is that God must be targeting every human individual since Adam, so I hope you can continue to clear this up for me.

        Thanks, your answers to my questions helps me understand your current views. I have one follow up question. If death was not necessarily bad before sin arrived on the scene (indeed it is the circle of life), then would there have necessarily been no hard feelings in regards to death before sin? In other words, would the pain of losing a beloved pet deer or tiger or whatever Adam may have experienced in the garden or whatever grief intelligent animals like elephants and dolphins would have experienced have been different before sin? Thanks for the interesting conversation.

        Posted by Walt | March 29, 2012, 9:02 PM
      • Walt,

        Thank you for explaining the difficulty you’re encountering more. Regarding humankind’s death, there are a number of positions about how all are tied to Adam’s sin. I hold to a stronger view of original sin than some–which I believe is tied to one’s soul. It’s not that one has a soul created by God which God then inserts sin into–rather the soul is an inherited substance much like the body. Now, I do not think that the metaphor of a kingdom and the punishment of a kingdom is the proper model for explaining humankind’s death. What I’ve been trying to note is that I don’t think it is terribly implausible to hold that a kingdom can be punished as a singular entity. I have not been trying to say that’s how I believe death has affected all of mankind.

        Regarding your follow up question: I’m not sure I can answer that question. I don’t know.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | March 30, 2012, 8:42 PM
  2. J.W., you and I have had our disagreements (in fact I disagree with the reasoning behind your original post that started this blog back-and-forth), but you’re absolutely right that Breedan’s rebuttal is unconvincing and, frankly, rather poor in taste.

    1. You’re correct to point out that Breedan *assumes* that Romans 8:20-21 refers solely to creation after man’s Fall when this is not made explicit.

    2. Breedan *assumes* that death is always bad. (Imagine a world without bacterial death!)

    3. For all his praise of Scripture, Breedan ignores Genesis 3:22-24, which indicates that man was miraculously kept immortal by the “Tree of Life.” Man did not lose his immortality upon rebelling; he lost his immortality when access to the “Life Tree” was cut off. In contrast to the invented lore of the origins-literalists, creation did have to undergo a substantive change for man to start dying. He started dying when, and because, he got expelled from the Garden.

    Posted by Stan | March 28, 2012, 10:33 AM
    • Stan,

      As always you bring interesting things up for discussion. Thank you!

      I admit I remain puzzled by the YEC conviction that death = bad by necessity. Your point 2 underscores this. I was once YEC, and I did hold that death was always bad, but looking back I still can’t find a reason I held that belief, other than the fact that other YECs I read said it was true.

      Your third point is particularly poignant; it is one I have avoided because I’m trying to stay away from this becoming a battle of exegesis. However, I think it is a remarkable point that most YECs ignore.

      Thank you!

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | March 29, 2012, 4:25 PM
  3. I must confess that, while I have read your previous posts on this issue, I haven’t actually kept up with the resulting discussion in the comments and so I may be repeating what others have already pointed out so bear with me here. Frankly I have a hard time believing in animal death prior to the fall (it is perhaps the single greatest problem I have with the Old Earth proponents) and it might be the case that I am extremely biased but I simply have a hard time buying the above argument. At the end of the creation cycle, God pronounced that his works were good and subsequent passages in the Bible teach us that death is the enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26; Revelation 20:14) and the complete restoration of creation will not be concluded until this enemy is destroyed. Now how do you reconcile God admission that creation prior to the fall was wholly good with the fact that death is explicitly called the enemy if it should be the case that death was present before the fall?

    As far as the claim that animals being punished with death for the sin of Adam goes, I’ll leave you with this:

    14 “‘In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the LORD chooses shall come forward clan by clan; the clan the LORD chooses shall come forward family by family; and the family the LORD chooses shall come forward man by man. 15 Whoever is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the LORD and has done an outrageous thing in Israel!’” […] 20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels[d] of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.” […] 24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today.” Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. 26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor[f] ever since. — Joshua 7:14-15, 20-21, 24-26

    From the above we can clearly see that Achan’s livestock (and children) were punished for his sin and only after this was done was God satisfied. So from the Bible, it seems quite clear that it isn’t unfair for animals to have been damned with death due to Adam’s sin and I have heard, read and could repeat arguments on the basis of philosophy for why this could be a legitimate case of justice. I choose not to do so here because I think that the above is more than enough.

    Anyway, I hope to hear from you soon and God bless.

    Posted by methodus | March 28, 2012, 10:42 AM
  4. I originally made this into its own post but I decided to take that one down and just leave it for the comment section. The following is an outline of the comments Defending Genesis and I have had back and forth.

    In the interest of honesty here, I’d like to simply share the interactions I had with Rev. Breeden. Let the reader decide between us.

    Here is a survey of quotes he wrote about me, without commentary except to note who he is talking about:

    “If you’re reading that [what I wrote] from an orthodox Christian worldview…”; “we can firmly establish that he’s [meaning me, J.W.] not starting with the Bible as his ultimate authority”; “if he were to examine the consequences of his own worldview, he would come to some troubling conclusions”; “your [my, J.W.’s] presuppositions, which begin with man’s fallible ideas rather than the Bible”; “I would expect an apologist to recognize the difference between an ad hominem and a critique of one’s starting points.”

    Again, I left these without commentary. The quotes can be read in context at the original post on his site.

    I wrote about the nature of this comments and argued that they were indeed attacks on my character (see my reasoning here). Breeden took issue with this and commented at length (see below).

    Now I will allow myself some commentary. The Rev. Breeden wants to say that he is not attacking my character. Let’s look at what he actually has said.

    “If you’re reading that from an orthodox Christian worldview, something about his argument should be bugging you right from the get-go, but we’ll get to that.”

    This quote is Breeden’s response to my original philosophical argument against YEC. Now, grammatically, this comment is set in contrast to what I said. Thus, by implication, the “orthodox Christian worldview” is being contrasted with my own. I’ll let the reader decide if I’m correct here.

    “In any case, we can firmly establish that he’s not starting with the Bible as his ultimate authority.”

    I am not sure I really need to comment on this to draw out the implication. Breeden simply says it, in black and white, that I am not using the Bible as my ultimate authority. Now, on this site I have publicly defended the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy and have spent a great deal of time writing about issues related to Biblical authority and defending it against “problem verses.” So contrast this with Breeden’s odd statement. Again, let the reader decide.

    Breeden then wrote, “In answering his [my, J.W.’s] argument, Answers in Genesis stated that he “seems oblivious to Romans 8:20–22, which explains the connection between Adam’s sin and animal death.” In his rebuttal, Wartick admits that he remains oblivious, so perhaps the case must be made more obvious.”

    Now Breeden has stated that I supposedly admit I remain oblivious. The post he is referencing has nowhere that I say I am oblivious. Rather, I charge that the reading of the text is incorrect. Oh well. Moving on…

    “[H]e [I, J.W.] suggests that a traditional orthodox reading of the text is incorrect and must be modified.”

    Again, read the original post, and tell me where I suggest an orthodox reading is incorrect. Rather, Breeden is assuming that his reading is the only possible orthodox and traditional reading. But of course he doesn’t establish this, he just asserts it. And contextually, he asserts it in such a way that his readers will assume that I in fact am attacking the “orthodox” position and therefore am outside of orthodoxy. Simply reading this quote one finds again that I am contrasted to an “orthodox” position.

    “[H]e [I, J.W.] suggests that the traditional reading of Genesis is unclear; it also suggests a form of neo-Gnosticism, for it suggests that the Scriptures cannot be understood without an understanding of 21st century science.”

    Again, it is said that I am contrasted with the traditional reading. Furthermore, my position is supposed to entail neo-Gnosticism. Readers, again, decide between us. Is my character being attacked?

    Now I wrote to Breeden and asked him to stick to issues instead of insinuations. He responded:

    “This is not an attack on you personally, but on your presuppositions, which begin with man’s fallible ideas rather than the Bible…”

    Again, notice the explicit contrast. Unlike Breeden, I am supposedly basing my ideas on “man’s fallible ideas.” Breeden himself, of course, is the one who is contrasted as placing his presuppositions on the Bible. Is this an attack on my character?

    But Breeden went on to say:

    “I would expect an apologist to recognize the difference between an ad hominem and a critique of one’s starting points.”

    Again, this is really not very subtle. It seems to me to be an underhanded attack on my abilities as an apologist. Readers, let me know.

    After I responded to Breeden, pointing out the fact that the majority of his post simply painted me in a poor light, he wrote,

    “Respectfully, there were no insinuations about your character, as I will demonstrate. You’ve made mountains out of molehills, suggesting that I have a great deal more than I actually have and, in the process, you’ve thatched a straw man argument to beat up in my name. Apologetics is an art and like every art, it takes a bit of practice and patience to learn it, so I excuse your errors for I recognize in you my counterpart at an earlier time. Nevertheless, if you do not learn to supress your sophomoric tendency to assume that your opponent means a great more than he’s said, and, more importantly, to separate an attack on the argument or the pressupositions behind it from a personal attack, you will make a lousy apologist… and an excellent whipping boy for every atheist troll who crosses your path. Of course, if you take it as a personal insult every time someone tells you you’re wrong, well, there’s nothing I or anyone else can do for you.”

    Now I’ve already pointed out numerous examples I took to be an attack on my character. I’m asking readers to decide between us, but again this comment alone seems to establish my case. Does Breeden know me personally? No, he does not. Has he observed my interactions with atheists? No, he has not. Yet he continues to say my efforts are “sophomoric” and that I will be a “whipping boy.”

    What’s the point of pointing out this transaction? I simply want to have the record straight here. I do not hold the positions Breeden asserts I hold. Rather, he is censuring me for views that are not mine, and then condescendingly hinting that one day I’ll know better. I merely want the record straight here.

    Posted by J.W. Wartick | March 29, 2012, 11:25 PM
    • Breedan is being transparently dishonest with his attitude and his insinuations. He knows what he’s doing, but since it’s obfuscated by innuendo, he feels empowered to play coy. It’s not cute, it’s not charitable, and it’s not working.

      You cannot have a constructive conversation with someone who is dishonest with himself and others. You’re in the right here; don’t get caught in the quagmire of attempting sincere interaction with disingenuous people. The title of reverend does not make one entitled to reverence.

      Posted by Stan | March 30, 2012, 12:36 AM
      • I concur with Stan, it looks to be impossible to have a meaningful conversation with someone that knows they are right and therefore any argument they might use to protect their truth is justified in their own minds. Breeden is much like some political characters know nothing but to talk on script and repeat the same mantras until you either fall in line or reject him completely. He doesn’t care if you reject him because that will just be further evidence to him that he was right in the first place.
        People like this are a bit of a conundrum since left unchallenged the can dupe many people into following their words but confronting them often brings them a greater platform from which to speak and gives them the resolve to be all the more aggressive in their evangelistic efforts. Probably best to take a few shots that are even keeled and unemotional but be prepared to walk away from a discussion when it is not fruitful.

        Posted by Natural Historian | March 30, 2012, 5:04 PM
      • Thank you, Stan, for your honesty.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | March 30, 2012, 8:42 PM

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