Monday, October 16, 2006

Not <i>Opus</i>!

How long until the imams of the Religion of Perpetual Umbrage issue a fatwa against Opus?

I just wish I knew what he meant by "bad dogs".

Thirty-eight Ways to Win

Telic Thoughts links us to an old piece attributed to Arthur Schopenhauer which the philosopher surely meant as satire. It's titled 38 Ways to Win and Argument, and it's clear that the goal is indeed winning and not arriving at truth. Here are a couple of tactics Schopenhauer "endorses":

8. Make your opponent angry. An angry person is less capable of using judgment or perceiving where his or her advantage lies.

14. Try to bluff your opponent. If he or she has answered several of your question without the answers turning out in favor of your conclusion, advance your conclusion triumphantly, even if it does not follow. If your opponent is shy or stupid, and you yourself possess a great deal of impudence and a good voice, the technique may succeed.

18. If your opponent has taken up a line of argument that will end in your defeat, you must not allow him to carry it to its conclusion. Interrupt the dispute, break it off altogether, or lead the opponent to a different subject.

21. When your opponent uses an argument that is superficial and you see the falsehood, you can refute it by setting forth its superficial character. But it is better to meet the opponent with a counter-argument that is just as superficial, and so dispose of him. For it is with victory that you are concerned, not with truth. Example: If the opponent appeals to prejudice, emotion or attacks you personally, return the attack in the same manner.

32. A quick way of getting rid of an opponent's assertion, or of throwing suspicion on it, is by putting it into some odious category. Example: You can say, "That is fascism" or "Atheism" or "Superstition." In making an objection of this kind you take for granted 1) That the assertion or question is identical with, or at least contained in, the category cited; and 2) The system referred to has been entirely refuted by the current audience.

38. Become personal, insulting and rude as soon as you perceive that your opponent has the upper hand. In becoming personal you leave the subject altogether, and turn your attack on the person by remarks of an offensive and spiteful character. This is a very popular technique, because it takes so little skill to put it into effect.

These and the rest of Schopenhauer's thirty-eight stratagems are certainly in wide use today in the political arena, in theological debates, and in the controversy between Darwinists and Intelligent Design advocates. Some things never change.

Wells vs. Shermer

C-Span will be airing next week a recent exchange at the Washington D.C. Cato Institute between atheistic Darwinian Michael Shermer and Intelligent Design advocate Jonathan Wells. Shermer's remarks were taken from his book Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design. Wells' address followed Shermer's and provided an excellent overview of ID. A transcript of Wells' talk can be found at Uncommon Descent.

If you don't want to wait for the C-Span showing there's a video of the whole event here. A critique of Shermer's presentation can be found at Evolution News and Views.

Challenges and Priorities

Christianity Today features a number of prominent evangelicals who discuss what they think are the challenges which will be facing our society and what should be our priorities over the next fifty years.