If you’ve spent any time at all reading about creationism online, you’ll be familiar with the infuriating experience of attempting to have a reasonable conversation on the subject. Creationists are notorious for quote mining, for a seemingly wilful ability to misinterpret the clearest of arguments, for ad hominem attacks, and for repeating the same arguments after they’ve been addressed. This has been so widely observed that it’s led to the internet adage that arguing with a creationist is like playing chess with a pigeon: They’ll knock over the pieces, crap on the board, and then strut about clucking like they won.
What’s really interesting, though, is seeing creationists use these same tactics on each other. I first observed this when I was a kid, and I should have seen through the whole enterprise back then.
From Marianne Talbot, I have learned a useful expression: a self-sealing argument. This is an argument which cannot be refuted, because it doesn’t allow any counter-argument. Almost every fundamentalist argument is self-sealing. This is why, in the end, I concluded that fundamentalism couldn’t possibly be true. Some will accuse me of scientism for this, but I concluded that unless a belief is testable, there’s no point holding it. All will become clearer if I show you an example.
The worst insult a fundamentalist can ever throw at you is ‘unbeliever’. On the face of it, this is a very strange accusation to make.
Liberal Christian: “I don’t believe the virgin birth was a literal event.”
Fundamentalist: “A pox on thee, UNBELIEVER!!!!!!!!!”
LC: “Er… yes, I don’t believe that, so you could well describe me as an ‘unbeliever’ if you like.”
Fundamentalist: So you admit it! You are full of UNBELIEF!!!!1111!!!
LC: *puzzled face* Read the rest of this entry