Marijuana in itself is not evil, but people can easily abuse it, so prudence, or good judgment, dictates it not be legalized for recreational use.
Marijuana and Church teaching
With recreational and medical marijuana legal in states across the country, and the Minnesota Legislature considering a regulatory framework for production, sale and possession of the drug for recreational use, The Catholic Spirit is preparing a four-part series to look at some of the issues involved from a Catholic perspective.
That look begins here, with a story package that includes an article on the Minnesota Catholic Conference’s opposition to recreational marijuana and its neutral stance on medical marijuana, which has been legal in the state since 2014, and some of the politics involved. A second article looks at the moral grounds for the Catholic Church’s opposition to recreational use of marijuana and other drugs. A third element is Bishop Andrew Cozzens’ April 15 address on recreational marijuana at MCC’s Catholics at the Capitol event in St. Paul.
Future series installments will explore the impact recreational marijuana has had on minority, poor and vulnerable populations in states where it has been legalized; outline ways big alcohol and tobacco companies are investing in the push to legalize recreational marijuana; and, following the 2022 legislative session, review efforts to legalize recreational cannabis in Minnesota and what that might mean for the future.
EXCLUSIVE: Former Assistant Secretary of State Chris Ford told Fox News on Wednesday he had “procedural” and “substantive concerns” with the Trump State Department’s investigation into the origins of COVID-19 and whether the virus stemmed from a leak out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China.
The Biden administration terminated the inquiry—which was being led out of the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control and Verification (AVC) bureau, and initially launched at the request of former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo—after being briefed on the team’s initial findings in February and March.
Ford, in an exclusive interview with Fox News, said he learned of the investigation in December 2020. He said it had been kept secret from him and bypassed department and intelligence community biological experts.
Ford told Fox News the team had been told not to share their work with him, or the intelligence community.
“I had procedural concerns and substantive concerns,” Ford said.
“There are all sorts of reasons to worry about possible lab origins, and it’s critical to get to the bottom of this,” Ford continued, adding that “one very particular claim made by AVC purporting to ‘prove’ WIV origin by ‘statistical analysis’ turned out to be junk science and evaporated when subjected to scrutiny by their own scientific panel,” referring to a Jan. 7 panel of experts the AVC had arranged to review its findings.
“I was trying to protect Pompeo and the Trump Administration from having the Department go out there with something that had already been disproved,” Ford told Fox News. “We can’t hold China to account if AVC makes us look like cranks!”
Ford, though, told Fox News he was not opposed to looking into the Wuhan lab, but was concerned about much of the team’s analysis and its desire to operate in secrecy and circumvent the intelligence community.
President Biden, on Wednesday, announced that he tasked the intelligence community to “redouble” its efforts in the investigation into the origins of COVID-19, and noted that U.S. intelligence officials, at this point, have been torn between “two likely scenarios.” Biden asked that the IC report back within 90 days so that the U.S. government could get closer to a “definitive conclusion.”
“The lab origin theory is very possible and China must be held to account,” Ford said.
Fox News obtained an internal email, written by Ford, that was in response to the presentation from the Jan. 7 AVC panel discussion featuring experts assembled by the team investigating the matter.
The email said “a contractor on AVC’s payroll” made the argument that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was “most likely the origin” of COVID-19.
“AVC has apparently been briefing this argument inside the Department and some interagency partners for weeks, apparently on instructions from a staffer at S/P who told them they should not inform me, or others of this work, nor involve the intelligence community,” Ford wrote.
The email stated that the AVC’s argument was “heavily based upon what it claims is the statistical improbability of SARS-CoV-2 occurring naturally, through zoonotic transmission outside of a laboratory.”
“Under examination at the expert panel, however, these claims largely fell apart,” Ford wrote, noting that while the panel agreed on the importance of pressing China to be more transparent, and for information on the “nature of any work done” at the Wuhan lab on novel coronaviruses.
But, the email stated that the analysis “rests primarily on a non-published Bayesian statistical analysis” prepared for the AVC by a pathologist, rather than a virologist, epidemiologist, or infectious disease modeler. The email said that pathologist “admitted to us that he had ‘never done a Bayesian analysis before’ this.”
“AVC’s statistical case seems notably weak,” Ford wrote in the email, saying that the analysis “revolves around drawing conclusions about how statistically likely it is” that COVID appeared naturally, compared to being “engineered in or released from a laboratory.”
Ford, in the email, noted that the analysis was “crippled by the fact that we have essentially no data to support key model inputs.”
“I would also caution you against suggesting that there is anything inherently suspicious–and suggestive of biological warfare activity–about People’s Liberation Army involvement at WIV on classified projects,” Ford wrote in the email. “It’s certainly possible that the PLA did secret BW work at WIV, but we have no information to suggest this. And it would be difficult to say that military involvement in classified virus research is intrinsically problematic, since the U.S. Army has been deeply involved in virus research in the United States for many years.”
Meanwhile, State Department spokesman Ned Price on Tuesday denied shutting down the inquiry: “There has been incorrect reporting that the Biden-Harris administration shut down an investigation by the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control and Verification (AVC) into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.” He said the team’s work ended after delivering a report in February and March, adding that “all relevant parts of the department continue to work with the interagency on this matter.”
“The world continues to have serious questions about the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, including its origins within the Peoples Republic of China,” Price continued. “China’s position that their part in this investigation is complete is disappointing and at odds with the rest of the international community that is working collaboratively across the board to bring an end to this pandemic and improve global health security.”
A State Department official earlier told Fox News that Secretary of State Antony Blinken did not disband any cell looking into the origins of COVID-19, and that the department only employed a single contractor who was conducting research on several topics – including coronavirus. That contractor, according to the official, left the State Department before Blinken’s confirmation. The official said the inquiry was closed amid concerns about methodology.
The Biden administration’s investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic is currently being led out of the White House National Security Council.
Jess Kraft | Shutterstock
Russell Shaw – 10/08/21
The Saint John Paul II Institute in Houston is dedicated to perpetuating and propagating the contributions of Karol Wojtyla.
It’s sometimes said Pope St. John Paul II was the most intellectually gifted occupant of the See of Peter ever, but inasmuch as the line of popes stretches back two millennia and includes some known to history only by their names, there is no realistic way of verifying that.
What is certain, though, is that Karol Wojtyla was an original thinker who made important and lasting contributions to the Catholic intellectual tradition.
Partly his intellectual stature reflects the time he spent in the 1950s and 1960s as a member of the philosophy faculty at Poland’s University of Lublin–an era when, one commentator remarks, the Lublin philosophers were considered to be “among the most creative anywhere.”
And in part it reflects not just the remarkable volume of his output as pope–14 encyclicals as well as literally hundreds of other important documents–but also its highly original contents. One thinks, for instance, of the Wednesday audience addresses in which he set out a new, much discussed “theology of the body” as well as the many expositions of his distinctive personalism.
Born in 1920 and elected pope 43 years ago this month, John Paul died in 2005 and was canonized in 2014. Perpetuating and propagating his heritage while situating it in the indispensable context of Polish history and culture are the twofold mission of a new project–the Saint John Paul II Institute at Houston’s University of St. Thomas.
The Houston program (which is not related to the John Paul II Institute for Studies of Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C.) takes its inspiration from something John Paul said: “I am the son of a nation which its neighbors have condemned to death several times but which has survived and remained itself. It has kept its identity in spite of partitions and foreign occupations by relying on its culture.”
“The story of Poland and the story of St. John Paul II are deeply intertwined–to pursue one is to discover the other,” says institute director Dr. John Hittinger. A veteran philosophy professor, Hittinger has lectured and published extensively on the thought of John Paul II. The institute’s assistant director is Dr. Piotr Przybylski, a Krakow native who is first vice president of the Polish-American Council of Texas.
Now in its third year, the Saint John Paul II Institute houses two distinct but related areas of study–one covering the thought of John Paul II, the other devoted to Polish studies. The “flagship” of the John Paul studies is an online MA program–35 students now enrolled–and also includes a certificate program. Both areas of study offer undergraduate minors as well.
Speaking to a meeting of the institute’s newly established advisory board (disclosure: I am a member), University of St. Thomas president Richard Ludwick called John Paul II’s life and work “one of the greatest stories that we could ever tell.”
The institute’s goals are indeed praiseworthy as well as ambitious. But it has its work cut out. In 1998, near the end of Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason), which some regard as his greatest encyclical, John Paul said a fundamental result of the “collapse of rationalist optimism” in the face of the 20th century’s “terrible experience of evil” was that “one of our greatest threats is the temptation to despair.”
The Polish pope’s life and work stands as a bulwark against that temptation. The Saint John Paul II Institute aims to do its part to ensure that his powerful words and deeds continue to resonate.
The abuse crisis seems to never end . . . so how can Catholics keep the Faith without burying their heads in the sand?
There’s a new report out on clerical sexual abuse in France—another in what seems to be a never-ending onslaught of bad news in the Catholic Church. If you are exhausted by it all, you’re not alone. I’m right there with you. Our frustration and sadness are justified.
When I am confronted by my non-Catholic family and friends with the issue of clerical sexual abuse, I don’t downplay it. I acknowledge what has happened. Even if the numbers in the latest bad news report are exaggerated or other organizations are in worse shape than us, it’s still not acceptable. We should hold ourselves and our leaders to a higher standard.
Sometimes it feels as if this is all too much. How can Catholics struggling to process all the bad news remain faithful to the Church that Jesus founded? I do it by trying to keep things in perspective.
There are over a billion Catholics in the world, and some of them are bad people. This should not come as a surprise; after all, Jesus warned us, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15). They are among us, and sometimes they are our leaders.
My faith does not rest on the sinlessness of the clergy, however. I rely on them for the sacraments, and occasionally for spiritual direction. There can be no Catholic faith without our priests. But we all know that the validity of the sacraments we receive does not depend on the holiness of the one administering them, and our faith should not rest on that, either.
I don’t mean by this to throw our good priests under the bus. Part of keeping things in perspective is remembering that there are a lot of them suffering the negative consequences of the actions of some in their ranks. But as brothers and sisters in Christ, we should be careful not to develop saint-like profiles of them in our minds. In fact, I would extend this also to Catholic celebrities. Resist the urge to put anyone on a pedestal, lest you become disappointed one day when you realize that they all have the same human failings as you and me.
Despite all the bad news, there are so many great things happening in the Church. I have had the great fortune to travel around the country in my fourteen-year career behind the scenes in apologetics and evangelization, and I’ve encountered many Catholic brothers and sisters who are unsung heroes for the Faith.
I’ve met Catholics who have started crisis pregnancy centers and who feed and clothe the homeless in their communities. I’ve met doctors, nurses, policemen, firefighters, and others who were driven to public service by their Catholic faith. I’m blessed to work at Catholic Answers with men and women who truly love the Lord, and I’ve met scores of priests and bishops who have been very supportive of our efforts to spread the gospel. I could write an entire book about all the awesome Catholics I’ve encountered in the last two decades. For whatever reason, good news rarely gets the credit it deserves. That’ll make perspective hard to attain.
But as great as all that is, good Catholics are also not the primary reason I am committed to sticking with the Church through thick and thin. This honorary distinction is reserved for the Lord himself, who says:
I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
St. Peter reminds us that Christ suffered as an example for us—not that we should never suffer ourselves, but so we can endure that suffering when the time comes (1 Pet. 2:21). St. Paul drives the concept home as he writes:
Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7).
I struggle to put into words the kind of peace and joy that the Catholic faith brings me and my family, but I can tell you with confidence that the peace Jesus talks about is real, and it’s what shields me from despair. That’s why I’m not going anywhere. Pray as much as you can for this same peace.
I’m not saying we should put on blinders when it comes to issues in the Church. In fact, I encourage all Catholics to hold our leaders accountable. We need to do this respectfully and in the proper way, of course. Now is not the time to bury your head in the sand, but don’t let these issues consume you, either. Maintain perspective.
And don’t lose focus on the Lord. He will save you a lot of heartache.
In this episode Trent explains what the ad hominem fallacy is and how people often mistakenly think it is the same thing as genuine criticism. He also highlights where the fallacy was misused in one of his past debates as well as in a William Lane Craig debate.
Welcome to the Council of Trent podcast, a production of Catholic Answers.
Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Council of Trent podcast. I’m your host, Catholic Answers apologist and speaker, Trent Horn. On the Council of Trent, I want to encourage anybody whether they’re Catholic or non-Catholic to reason well. Just to reason well. We all want to come together. Isaiah, Chapter one, it says, “Come, let us reason together.”
But in order to reason together, we have to reason well. And so we have to avoid fallacies or errors in reasoning. So I’m hoping over the next few weeks, I might cover different fallacies or errors in reasoning that pop up in conversations with one another. I’m going to focus on the fallacies that people misunderstand the most. Because there are a lot of people who will say, “Oh, I’m aware of fallacies. I want to reason well.” They’ll try to call out other people and say, “Hey, you’re making this fallacy” or “You’re making that fallacy.” But they’re actually mistaken. That’s not actually the fallacy that you’re looking for. These aren’t the droids, the fallacies that you’re looking for.
So in reasoning well, we want to understand fallacies and then understand when they occur and when we only think they occur. So today we’re going to talk about the ad hominem fallacy or against the man. But before we do that though, I want to remind everyone about our premium content at trenthornpodcast.com. If you want access to our 18-hour long video Catechism Study series. Goes through the whole catechism. Or the 18-hour long New Testament video study series. You can get all that at trenthornpodcast.com. Become a premium subscriber there. That helps to keep the podcast growing and reaching more people. So definitely go and check that out at trenthornpodcast.com.
All right, now, let’s talk about the ad hominem fallacy. What is it and how do people misuse it? Ad hominem is a Latin term that means against the man. The fallacy occurs when someone says person … well, Smith. In philosophy, it’s always Smith or Jones is the person. Smith’s argument is false because Smith is a bad person. When I put it that way, it’s pretty easy to see the flaw and the argument. You can be a bad person and still have a true argument. It also works in reverse. You could be a kind and caring and charismatic and winsome person and still have a bad argument.
An argument’s truth, the success of an argument, whether it is sound or not … By the way, let me get these terms out here. If an argument has no fallacies in it, no errors in its reasoning. We say it’s valid. It’s a valid argument. But just because it doesn’t have errors and reasoning, doesn’t mean that it’s a good argument. Because if a premise, one of the statements in the argument is false, then the conclusion is going to be false. So you could have a valid argument that has no fallacies in it, no errors in the reasoning, and still have a bad argument because one of the premises is not true.
For example, here would be an example of a valid unsound argument. Anyone from Texas is the President of the United States. Trent Horn is from Texas. Therefore, Trent Horn is the President of the United States. Now, that argument is valid. It doesn’t have any errors in the reasoning. It would be identical to this argument. Anyone who lives in Dallas, lives in Texas. Trent Horn lives in Dallas. Therefore, Trent Horn lives in Texas. The structure is the same so it’s a valid structure. Fallacies are about making sure our argument structure is correct. But to be a sound argument, the premises also have to be true. So our goal is to have no errors in the reasoning and no false premises or false statements in the argument.
The ad hominem argument comes up when you say, “Oh, that guy is bad” or “He has a faulty character” or “There’s something bad about him,” therefore his argument’s wrong. But this happens and you might think, “Well, how is this such a common argument when it’s so weak?” Well as human beings, a lot of times we take the low road. We attack or insult other people instead of engaging their argument. We say, “They’re a bad person. You don’t have to listen to them.” I’ll give you an example. I was on a college campus was once doing pro-life work and a heckler shouted at me, “How many children of you adopted?” I hesitated. I didn’t know how to answer the question. And he said, “I thought so.” Here, he’s making kind of a veiled ad hominem argument. Pro-lifers are hypocrites because they don’t adopt unwanted children. Therefore, pro-lifers are wrong about abortion. Therefore, abortion ought to be illegal.
When you run it out like that, when you stretch out the ad hominem arguments or tease them out, it’s easy to see why they’re wrong. When you’re the victim of an ad hominem argument, your goal is to get away from the hominem part, from you, and back to the argument. One of the ways you can do that is by just saying, “Okay, let’s say that you’re right,” even if they’re wrong about the personal attack on you. “Let’s say that you’re right. What does that have to do with my argument?”
A friend of mine, David, he actually got this as well on campuses. People would say to him, “How many children have you adopted?” And he’s actually adopted four children, but he would say to them, “You know what? Let’s say, let’s imagine you’re right. That I’ve never adopted children. Let’s say, I really, really dislike children. I’m mean to them. How would that in any way refute my argument that abortion is wrong because it kills an innocent human being?” How does me being a bad person suddenly make abortion a good thing. And so this is successful because it gets you off of yourself, the hominem part, and off of trying to defend yourself or your character and back to the argument that you want to talk about.
So now you see what the fallacy is and how to respond to it, but it’s important to know when it’s misused. For example, if I say “Smith is a jerk.” That’s not an ad hominem argument. Some people will say that if you criticize them in any way, by saying that they are obnoxious, they are rude, they are inconsiderate, that to point out any character flaw in someone, the person will say, “You are making an ad hominem argument.” That’s the ad hominem fallacy. No, it’s not. Now I could be incorrect. What I’m doing is I’m making a character assessment of the other person or a criticism. My criticism might be true or it might be false, but it’s only an ad hominem argument if I say “Smith is a jerk, obnoxious, inconsiderate; therefore, Smith is wrong about position X.” If I do that, that’s ad hominem. If I just say “Smith is a jerk” or “Smith is mean” or “Smith is being ridiculous,” that’s not ad hominem. It is a critique or a character assessment that might be true or false.
Another example of the misused ad hominem is to say “Smith is untrustworthy; therefore, you shouldn’t believe what he says.” That’s subtle, but it’s different than the ad hominem. The ad hominem, it says, “Smith is a bad person; therefore, his argument is bad.” Arguments stand or fall apart from the person who’s making them because Jones could come along and make Smith’s exact same argument and borrow the premises and reach the same conclusion. So, the argument has no dependence on in your character.
But an argument is different than testimony. Testimony is when you say, “Here is what I saw, here is what I did, here is what I know.” And so, for testimony, you are relying on the other person to communicate something to you that you don’t know. This is different than the premises in an arguments. So the premises are something we can check independently. We can agree or disagree about. But when you have testimony, someone who says, “Here’s what I saw, here’s what I know,” you can say, “Smith’s testimony about X is unreliable because Smith is a known liar. Smith is inconsistent. Smith is hypocritical.” Whatever it may be, you can say, “Look, there are reasons to not trust Smith. Therefore, these are the same reasons to not trust Smith’s testimony.”
Saying somebody is not trustworthy and so their testimony may not be reliable, that is not an ad hominem. Because we’re talking about testimony, not an argument that they’re making that is separate from them as a person. That the strength of an argument is not dependent in any way on the person making it, but only upon the truth of the premises that can be established objectively, and the truth of whether the conclusion follows, whether you’ve reasoned correctly.
Now, the trustworthiness could come in if one of the premises is essentially Smith’s testimony. If one of the premises is based on testimony that only can be found in Smith and Smith isn’t reliable, that could infect the argument. So I hope you see the difference here in saying someone is not trustworthy so we can’t trust their testimony, that is not the same thing as the ad hominem fallacy. Arguments stand or fall apart from the people who make them.
So let me give you two examples of the misused ad hominem argument from debates. The first one would be William Lane Craig’s debate with Hector Avalos. Hector Avalos is an atheistic biblical scholar and Craig and Avalos were debating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now, Craig had seen Avalos in a previous debate engage in an underhanded tactic. Avalos was debating Rubel Shelley on the same issue. Avalos asked Shelly to identify by sight a new Testament manuscript. He made fun of him in the debate saying “Professor Shelley, if you think these manuscripts are so reliable, you can’t even tell us which manuscript this is.” Which is not fair because that’s not how New Testament scholars recognize or work with manuscripts. Most of them work with copies or reproductions of the manuscripts, not the original ones that are locked away in a museum somewhere.
And so Craig was concerned Avalos would make try a similar trick with him. He wanted to undercut Avalos before he had a possibility of doing that so he brought this up in his opening statement and talked about how inappropriate it was. Apparently, one of the students in attendance, I guess an Avalos fan, he was not happy about Craig doing this. He gets really worked up about it and you can hear him accuse Craig of engaging in the ad hominem right here.
I’d first like to thank you for coming, but I’d like to question you on your tactics. I kept tally of the number of logical fallacies you committed and it was 25, the highlights of which were four occurrences of shifting the burden of proof, three occurrences of argumentum ad populi, and I’ll skip over all the others to get to the highlight. Within 60 seconds of standing at the podium, you committed argumentum ad hominem. The equivalent of a five year old calling names. Shame on you.
William Lane Craig:
All right, yeah, shame on me. I’m also a professional philosopher as well as a New Testament theologian. I understand logic.
Well, obviously you have no self-control.
Allow the speaker to answer the question, please. Be quiet so the speaker can reply.
William Lane Craig:
I don’t think I committed any of these informal logical fallacies. I think all of my arguments are carefully formulated according to the canons of logical inference. I do want to say something though about the ad hominem point because I felt very uncomfortable about opening as I did. But I felt I had to do it in light of what I had seen in this earlier debate by way of preempting that happening in tonight’s debate. Because in front of an untrained audience of undergraduates, mis-impressions can arise and so that was why I did that. I didn’t like doing that, but I felt it was necessary in order that we conduct this debate according to professional rules of etiquette and decorum. But I don’t think that was ad hominem because I wasn’t saying that what Dr. Avalos said was false because of anything about him. That’s what ad hominem means. You say a position is false by attacking the person and I never suggested anything of that sort. So I think that the charge is not correct.
So, Craig is right. He was not saying that Avalos was wrong about the resurrection because he had engaged in this unprofessional behavior with Rubel Shelley. All Craig was saying is that Avalos was wrong to do this and anyone listening to the debate should not fall for it if Avalos were to do it again. He was not saying Avalos’ entire position is wrong because he did something that was inappropriate. Simply, he did something inappropriate so watch out for it.
Something similar happens when you address double standards sometimes. When I was debating Rafael Lataster in Australia several years ago. He was a Ph.D. student at the time. Now, I think he is a professor. We were debating the issue: Does God exist? At one point, Lataster criticized my argument that I was giving saying it relied on a theory of time that only a minority of philosophers hold. He was critiquing my argument saying that it relied on a theory that only a minority of people accept in academia. And so, when time came up for my rebuttal, I pointed out Lataster is a mythicist. He does not believe that Jesus even existed, which is a radical, radical fringe theory that I’m not aware of anyone with a Ph.D. in the relevant fields teaching at a major university who holds the view that Jesus did not exist. Or if there are, there might be like one or two of them. There were way more experts who held that my theory of time than held to Lataster’s mythicism about Jesus.
So when I got up for my second rebuttal, I simply said, Lataster has criticized me for using a theory of time. His only argument is, “Well, it’s only embraced by a minority of scholars.” But that shouldn’t be a good argument because Lataster himself embraces a theory that a tiny, tiny minority of people hold, which is that Jesus never existed.
I also find it rich that someone says my argument relies on a fringe theory from someone who wrote a book that Jesus didn’t exist, which among historians is the fringe of the fringe of the fringe. So I think that’s very humorous. So, when it was time for Lataster to get up again for his response, he accused me of making an ad hominem.
I do want to say, I think it’s an ad hominem argument to mention my work on Jesus that’s been peer reviewed. I’ve been published in Cambridge on that. The University has supported me on that. I’m technically a Jesus agnostic as well. I’m not a fringe mythicist. But that’s irrelevant. We didn’t discuss Jesus here tonight so I think that was a very poor form to bring that up.
So, of course, when I got up from my rebuttal, I pointed out that no, I did not make an ad hominem. I was just pointing out an inconsistency here that if you are trying to make an argument against me based on something that I believe is only held by a minority of scholars, then that argument is going to undermine Lataster’s position on something like the existence of Jesus. I’m pointing out his inconsistency. I was not saying Lataster is a mythicist; therefore, he is wrong about the existence of God. That would be an ad hominem argument. Rather, I was pointing out an inconsistency as you’ll see here.
I’m also going to say that when I brought up your work with Jesus, I wasn’t making an ad hominem attack. I wasn’t saying there’s something bad about my opponent and that he’s wrong. I was just noticing it’s funny that his only argument against my first cause argument was that it relies on a theory of time that a minority of philosophers accept. Even though the majority of philosophers haven’t weighed in on theories of time. So he was critiquing my argument because only a minority of people accept it. But really, it’s not even that small of a minority. About 15% of philosopher, 25% for the competing theory. So, it’s still a very viable theory that many people accept.
I think it’s funny. That’s his only argument against my first cause is that a minority of scholars accept it. And yet, he’s written an entire book and defended a position that’s extremely fringe and extremely minority. I’m not denigrating his work. I’m just saying that just as Rafael would say, we can’t discover truth by counting heads with Jesus, we can’t do it by counting heads with God. We have to examine the evidence and the evidence tonight, I think, shows that God does exist.
Two points here as we kind of wrap everything up. First, that was a very fun debate. I think it was at the University of Melbourne, but I can’t remember. It was in Australia several years ago. And I think actually, some of my points that I made showed up later in Rafael’s completed dissertation, that’s now his Ph.D. and now he teaches down there. Maybe we’ll have another debate in the future. I will say, though, I could have been clearer about his position. I might have misunderstood it. But my argument still holds that even if he does not outright deny that Jesus exists, the Jesus agnostic position, the idea that, well, it’s reasonable to believe that Jesus didn’t exist or the evidence for and against his existence is equal. That itself is a fringe theory among historians and New Testament scholars. Bart Ehrman in his book, Did Jesus Exist? Ehrman, of course, is an agnostic scholar of the New Testament, says that virtually every expert on the planet holds that Jesus existed. But I could have been more precise, but the argument still holds.
Number two, I was really tired before that debate. My host, I think the day before, I was doing a speaking tour in Australia. And so I was traveling all over Eastern Australia. On my day off, they took me on a 10-mile long nature hike. Although I got to see wild kangaroos and that was a lot of fun. But I remember being super tired, but that debate, I had still enjoyed that debate and I thought I went very well. If you want to watch it, I’ll leave a link to it in the description below.
But I hope this was helpful for you so you can identify an ad hominem argument, know how to handle it when it’s thrown against you, and how not to misuse it when you’re engaging other people. So hey, thank you guys so much, and I hope you have a very blessed day.