When To Appeal To Authority
|M & M’s can be dangerous. It depends on which ones you choose.|
I used to be a lay believer. That is someone who is not a professional person of faith; just a regular old peep that goes to church on Sunday and believes in the Great Surveillance Camera in the Sky. If you are clergy or are a biblical scholar, then I consider that a professional believer. Right now I call myself a lay atheist. I have no degrees in philosophy or sicence and I’m not on the professional debating tour. In fact, I believe that most peeps, whether you have belief or not, are lay peeps. So what is a lay person to do when contemplating all the great questions…appeal to authority.
Appealing to authority is actually considered a logical fallacy, which in many cases is a no no, no frackin’ way. The reality is, is that one must appeal to authority to get information. Afterall, that is how we learn. If everyone was an authority on everything (impossible) then we would not need colleges, blogs, newspapers and, my favorite, the super awesome atheist blogsophere. I guess the trick is doing it at the right time(s).
Today’s post at Debunking Christianity is a great example. Today John, who has three masters degrees in divinity, has let Dr. Hector Avalos (End of Biblical Studies) respond to a Dr. Flannagan (believer). That is a lot of degrees y’all. The folks at DC are responding to lawyer believers that run the Christian blog called M & M.
To me, a lay atheist, when I go to M & M (and yes I do go to Christian blogs. To know them is to debate them…and win) I’am overwhelmed by….err, how frackin’ smart they are compared to me. Honestly, if there were super smart Christian peeps leading me (and deceiving me) when I was younger, then I probably would never have become and atheist-probably. I think it was last year when John (Debunking Christianity) was debating them in a series of online exchanges. It all went over my head (and yet still informative). Likewise, I could never argue or debate with William Lane Craig or Dinesh D’Souza (Ray Comfort, fo sho. I’d destroy that dude). They are just too smart (and even tho I know that the Christian Gawd is impossible, I know that their debating skills and rhetoric are just too much for me. Just being honest). So what is a lay atheist to do.
If you are not an authority on something, or an expert in a certain field, then you must, must, appeal to authority. That is just how it is. I don’t care how smart you are, or how much college you have or how much life experience you have-no one is an expert at everything. At some time we all have to appeal to authority. I guess the trick is picking the right, or correct authority.
For example, there are atheist peeps that believe that a man who walked the erffs in first century Palestine, that would be Jesus, never existed. There are peeps that gravitate to Tim Callahan and Robert Price-two authorities in that area. But what about Acharya S. She says the same thingies, but her critics, and there are many of them, totally poo poo her (and ya know what, I don’t know why). If you are a believer, then you might appeal to the authority of the Pope or William Lane Craig, but would ya consult Westboro Baptist Church or the disgraced pastor Eddie “my porn name is the same” Long. I would not.
The majority of us, on either side, need to appeal to authority to learn. In fact, that is how one learns many times. But who…who do you choose? Personally, I stick to peeps that are mainstream-ish (and that is generally speaking). If you want to study physics, then you should stick to the mainstream and generally accepted scientists out there. There are exceptions. A dude, Hassim Haramein, that is offering a nu-physics.
He claims to be an outsider in the science community and has claimed to have discovered the theory for everything (that is micro and macro physics all in one. The general theory of relativity that explains everything. The thingy that real scientists have been looking for for years. OK?). But he also believes that UFO’s have intentionally left crop circles on the erffs to leave a message for earthlings. OK again). So who’s authority do you appeal to, traditional and credible science, or the outcast. In this case, I choose the traditional.
The same goes for everything atheist and skeptic. We are not all experts in textual criticism or understand ancient Aramaic. Do we believe the traditional biblical scholars that are towing the line to save their jobs, or do we, in this case, go for the Bart Erhmann’s and the Hecotr Avalos’ (the later in this case). Personally, as far as analyzing Christianity, Debunking Christianity has done me right, so right. I have no reason to not believe John, or his guest posters.
Once again we have a choice. Who do we believe. who do we not believe. who’s authority do we appeal to, or not. Now that one my friends…is up to you. Good luck.