For those who like to debate God's existence and to reason with unbelievers, "Slander, Logic and Venn Diagrams" may be even more entertaining than "Sex, Lies and Video Tape" was in the 1990s. I don't like information censorship and comment screening, and this is how the adventure began in the first place. A common tact with regard to comment slander and Internet etiquette is to simply ignore this kind of abuse. While I do generally take this approach, once in a while I will throw in a summary of the person's actual documented comments to help set the record straight.
This past week, however, the slander level at my blog seemed to reach a crescendo with a comment poster from Russia calling me a liar from one post to the next for the duration of five consecutive blog article posts. He has joined the ranks of two other secular atheists who come to my blog to post false slander. I would like to outline the three false accusations against me and then offer a logical explanation as to why this occurs. I chose to use Venn diagrams because they are a simply means of demonstrating logical truths.
A Templestream Trilogy: Three Adventures in Internet Apologetics
1. Anonymous and the mystery of overlapping word meanings.
2. Imnotandrei and the adventures of a philosophical contortionist.
3. Havok and the search for the home of the unsupported claim.
1. Anonymous and the mystery of overlapping word meanings.
Beginning January 21, 2013, after I posted a piece on the world's top atheists, blogger Anonymous claimed I was a liar: "So no call for infanticide, just statement that not all lifes are equal. As for the murder of old folks...On both accounts you have proven to be a liar, Rick"
And, again, January 24th in the comments of the next post we find the same thing:
"Liar, nowhere does Singer state that infanticide is ok. On the contrary, let me post a quote from his FAQ page again..."
I asked Anonymous, "Where does Singer ever claim that infanticide of "non-persons" is immoral?"
His answer? "I am not that interested in Singer s views in the first place and I am not going to read all his books in details and so on to try in a futile attempt to reason with you."
The debate rages:
R: I see. Call me a liar and then claim your own ignorance justifies your slander.
A: I am calling you a liar at times your distortion of facts is obvious. Like the time you accuse Singer of promoting bestiality and infanticide.
R:define specifically which point or points you have a problem with.
A: Yes and I did point out to you what were your lies. Again, you lied about the fact that Singer promotes infanticide and bestiality. That is blatantly false. You also lied about him "dehumanizing" the concept of humanity.
It wasn't until January 25 that a main issue came to ight:
A: Liar. He does not promote infanticide. You dishonestly corrolate infanticide and euthanasia. That is not the same thing....Rick, do you know the difference between euthanasia and infanticide? Do you know the difference between murder and abortion?"
I offered a standard Webster's dictionary definition with the hopes that would help clear things up:
R: 1. infanticide: the killing of an infant
Does this general definition of infant killing offer any distinction between outright murder or "taking active steps to end the baby’s life swiftly and humanely"? No, it does not.
And, I asked anonymous, "Do you have any dictionary definitions that support your interpretation - that infanticide is always supposed to be considered murder?"
Anonymous did not have any answer to back up his point, instead he just launched into the use of capital letters, which, I suppose, is intended to make his conflated understanding of word defintions more convincing:
"DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INFANTICIDE AND CHILD EUTHANASIA? DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MURDER AND ABORTION?" ...Those are yes or no questions, Rick."
This thread then continues into the comments of a third article:
A: Promoting infanticide and promoting the principles of euthanasia are two distinct things that you CANNOT USE AS SYNONYMS.
R: I have never used them as synonyms.
A: Then you acknowledge the fact you are a liar. Singer has never promoted infanticide.
And through January 27th, the slander continues...
A: Yes, and you are still a liar because you admitted you know the difference between infanticide and child euthanasia, but you still accuse Singer of the same thing.
Here I threaten the use of some formidable ramparts of logic... Yes, the dreaded Venn diagrams:
R: Do I need to make Venn diagrams or something so you can possibly understand that word definition have overlapping meaning without necessarily being synonyms?
By January 28, Anonymous still doesn't get it, but still insists that I am a dishonest liar:
R:You are conflating word usage and word context.
A: No, I am not. It is dishonest to call a proponent of child euthanasia a proponent of infanticide. Full stop.
Then, out of the blue on February 2, Anonymous does a 180 turnaround and makes the follwoing statement:
A: This is getting tiresome, Rick. I already agreed with you that Singer does promote infanticide. What else do you need from me?
He offered a link with a Russian .ru ending that does not seem to work in the US
Instead of admitting that is was wrongful to slandering me for days, on February third he then attempts to shift the blame back on me for quoting Singer where he outlines how "infanticide" would be ethically "permissible"in order to make the greatest amount of happiness for others.
"Yes, you were and are still a liar. For the who-knows-which-time, it does not follow from your quotes that Singer promotes infanticide."
The quote in question was referenced from one of Singer's books:
“We should certainly put very strict conditions on permissible infanticide, but these conditions might owe more to the effects of infanticide on others than to the intrinsic wrongness of killing an infant.” (p.154 per Google Books version)
Contrary to the claim of Anonymous, support for "permissible infanticide" based on considering "the effects of infanticide on others" is most definitely ethical support for infanticide. This is a very straightforward sentence. If it is not straightforward, before labeling me a liar, Anonymous has the burden of proof to offer some plausible manner in which this sentence could mean anything other than the straightforward meaning. In terms of slander, the onus is on the accuser to point out proof for serious accusations such as calling someone a liar. It is a basic maxim of law. In fact, in both God's law and Man's law, the onus of proof is on the accuser.
If Anonymous wishes to challenge the plain meaning of Singer's words, he needs to explain in what possible manner he is offering a different meaning, or how he may possibly be speaking in parables like Jesus, who often used sentences that had two overlapping metaphorical meanings. Since Singer's own quotes suggest that medical infanticide should be ethically and legally permissible, Singer is proposing that it should become a regular convention in society supported by the state. That would definitely qualify as a promotion from its existing status as completely illegal in any form.
The following Venn diagram outlines why Anonymous is wrong for continuously calling me a liar with regard to word meaning:
The blog poster Imnotandrei has made repetitive false and slanderous claims about me claim that are herein documented. One of the main problems is Imnotandrei's devotion to defending secular atheist public figures who are quite talented as philosophical contortionists but quite lacking in logical thought.
Out of the blue one day, Imnotandrei stated that one of my articles had been "discredited." And I had to challenge him for comments on end until he finally admitted that his comment was not true:
If it is so important to you, I'll say it -- on August 28th, it had not been formally discredited. However, even in his admission of slander, he offers new unsubstantiated slander.
1. Imnotandrei made a false and slanderous claim that my article had been "discredited" and I had to continuous challenge him until he admitted this statement was an error. The article in question had not been discredited.
2. The word "discredited" suggests an article is not true and has been somehow disproved.
3. In his admission, Imnotandrei claims the article was "informally discredited", still suggesting it is not true, and, thus, he is still slandering me without offering any objective evidence to support his claim. What is actually meant by "informally discredited" is not clear. But the definition of propaganda would count as such in accordance with the definition of that word. Technically, these types of false statements could fall under the definition of libel: "a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression."
"A published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation; a written defamation."
And then there's Imnotandrei's second case of spontaneous slander. Amazingly, after finally admitting that he made a false statement at 7.44 AM, by 10.26 AM he was back at it, calling me a liar. Imnotanrei wrote "Hence, Rick, you're a liar." because he found a post where Law had used a little bit of logic in analyzing another philosopher's work. But I did not state that Law never uses logic. I stated that Law does not use demonstrable logic in his own arguments:
"You, AnonyRus, call me a liar and you have no example to back up your claim. Show a clear example of a quote and a link where Stephen Law uses a valid logical form and structure in one of his arguments. Show where he at least summarizes his arguments in a logical sequence of premises."(September 10, 2012 at 10:06 AM)
Therefore, Imnotandrei's claim that I am a "liar" is clearly false when taken in context. Law's favorite argument, The EGC, does not show any demonstrable use of logical consequence. It is an extremely long-winded argument and Law refuses to offer any kind of premises in conjunction with it. In defense of his calling me a "liar" Imnotandrei offered a link to a critique made by Law. Mentioning logical concepts in a critique of another philosopher's argument is not the same as demonstrating the use of logical principles in your own argument, hence, Imnotandre's knee jerk claim that I am a liar is unjustified and slanderous.
That entire discussion had stemmed from another discussion in which I pointed out that top atheist apologists generally avoid logic like the plague.
Imnotrandei and others are incensed that I would make such a claim. However, the article points out the documented facts. Stephen Law is not even considered a top atheist apologist according to reviews by secular humanist websites. So he would be excluded from the group in question in the first place. Additionally, Law's blog comments consistently show an underlying disregard for logical principles. In a post of his, Stephen Law had claimed that he was "more impressed" by Dawkins' chapter in the God Delusion outlining his central argument after Law had read it for the second time. Later, however, when repeatedly asked to comment on the logic of the chapter, Law stated,
"I think Dawkins argument is non-scientific, and probably flawed (which is not to say he doesn't do a fairly good job of dealing with some lines of objection - hence my "rather more impressed than was on first reading comment)."(October 7, 2012 at 10:34 AM)
I did not ask Law about the scientific validity of Dawkins' writings, rather, I specifically asked Law three times in the same thread here, here and here about the logic of Dawkins' argument. As was the case with his own EGC argument, Law did not seem to pick up on the importance of logical principles and logical consequence.
Likewise, I had asked Stephen Law three times to outline the premises and the logical syntax of his favorite argument:
1. "...what would you consider your strongest argument in favor of atheism? Can you present it here in a logical syntax? Can you offer it in a few premises and a conclusion?" (April 15, 2012 10:03 PM)
2. Also, if it's not too much trouble, can you outline the premises and conclusion of the EGC argument for atheism, as you understand them. (April 17, 2012 3:42 AM)
3. When I asked you what you consider the best logical argument for atheism, you stated, "I like the EGC". Can you please show the premises and conclusion of this argument, as you best understand them? (April 18, 2012 5:54 AM)
When he replied with regard to his own favorie argument, this was his answer:
"The argument is already out there in various forms, Rick. Engage with them or don't."(April 19, 2012 at 11:53 AM)
In accordance with the bare minimum of logical consequence, the form and wording of an argument are highly important and so we can see that Law does not seem to hold a high regard for very basic logical principles. Thus, Imnotandrei's knee-jerk claim that I am a "liar" is shown to be unsubstantiated based on these previous quotes
While Stephen Law may claim that his EGC argument is logically air tight, he has not demonstrated why there should be any sense of logical consequence in the long-winded presentation. Law claims that it would basically be impossible to present his argument in any kind of valid summarized form. He wrote, "Like many philosophical arguments, the EGC argument/challenge is fairly complex. Setting it out formally would require pages and pages. Condensing it to a few short bullet-point premises and conclusion inevitably produces a straw man."
In short, Law is basically saying, 'Trust me, it's logical, even though I haven't demonstrated why it should be considered to have any sense of logical consequence based upon specific premises in a specific syntax.'
And, if Law's argument is only valid in a lengthy narrative format, as he states, then why did he consider engaging in any (straw man) version I could find on the Internet to be a valid means of understanding his argument, as he had originally suggested? The fact is, Law's argument is based on a straw man argument, by focusing on only two aspects of God's nature and ignoring other critical aspects, as noted in another article, "Stephen Law: EGC Illusionist Debunked".
The Sound Reasoning Venn diagram helps to outline why a higher caliber of logic is found in demonstrating the use of logical principles in your arguments, not merely telling people to trust you that the logical consequence is 'in there somewhere' so don't worry about it.
3. Havok and the search for the home of the unsupported claim.
A blogger named Havok at one time seemed to be fairly civilized in his online debating, but one day he seemed to snap. All of a sudden, he began a diatribe of unsubstantiated slander against me. He claimed, for example, "Rick, all of the supposed proofs you've posted have been flawed. The many of the flaws have been pointed out to you." However, he is still unable to validate his slander with any comments made prior to December 7, 2011, when the slander torrent began. In other words, if the article "How Identity, Logic and Physics Prove God's Existence" has a logical flaw or had been disproved by a valid and relevant comment, then where is the comment quote that shows this is true? Havok has yet to provide it. In this case, no Venn diagram is necessary. Havok has not even entered the realm of discussable evidence. He prefers to carry on with purely manufactured lies and slander.
These three examples of Internet slander are actually supportive of biblical truth. Firstly, 2 Corinthians 4.4 offers, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."[NIV]. In all three of the examples there is a sense of denial. There is a refusal to admit certain plain, obvious and documented facts. A "blinded mind" is a mind unaware of the underlying nature of reality. Because these three Internet slanderers cling to a false view of reality, they must revert to a state of denial when their false worldview is challenged on a fundamental level.
The second support of biblical truth here is underlying sense of hatred. Luke 21.17 states, "All men will hate you because of me." The phrase "all men" refers to the world that is opposed to Christ. The act of falsely maligning a person is a hateful act. False witnesses slandered Christ throughout his ministry and as witnesses at the mock trial before his crucifixion. The name Satan means slanderer, and the second half of Revelation 12.10 outlines the Satanic nature of false slander against Christians: "For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down."[NIV].
Tags: Internet apologetics, Internet etiquette, Internet censorship, Internet slander, burden of proof is on accuser, satanic nature of slander,Venn diagrams in apologetics, definition of libel