This is in response to comments left by John Armstrong, creator of the site God vs. the Bible. I confess that in many ways, I have misconstrued or overlooked key points of the site and its individual sections, so I feel it my duty to retract some of my past statements and clarify others to be fair to Mr. Armstrong.
First, I want to express my thanks to Mr. Armstrong for two things: 1) keeping me honest about what I write and 2) reminding me that there is another person on the other end of entries like the one I made. I don’t generally have as much of a problem with the former as the latter, but I will admit my faults and try to make amends. (I hope there will be some reciprocity in regards to the latter as well.)
I also think it fair to thank – in a very small way – John for putting together this page that sort of catalogues the different references he makes to different Christian apologies or apologists. He did so obviously at my request, although I must admit that it was my fault the first time around for noting that he does at least address some of the objections to his points against the Bible. When I left a comment about this, however, I was under the impression that there were parts of the site devoted purely to answering apologists, which is why I didn’t catch what John was referring to at that point. Either way, I’ll take responsibility.
So now I’ve gone back for a second look, with the help of some of John’s links, and I will make a few more comments.
Despite misconstruing some of the things that John said, I still think that a large portion of the E-book consists of attacking straw men. For instance, John looks at my mention of this page which discusses the existence of unicorns in the KJV and points out that we are in agreement that ‘unicorn’ is a mistranslation in that version but that he was specifically directing his argument against fundamentalist Christians. This is all true, and I did overlook a qualifying statement of sorts before his sardonic mention of the fundamentalist parody church Landover Baptist. Unfortunately, it seems as if the vast majority of the arguments against Scripture have to do with a literalist/infallibilist view of Scripture. In fact, most of the apologists referenced in the page John created at my behest are some of the mildest defenses to what I would call “reasonable Christianity” that I could possibly imagine: Kent Hovind, Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel (who I would hardly consider an apologist; he’s more a collector of others’ apologies), and Pat Robertson. That’s one “creation scientist” (who has consequently been found guilty of tax fraud), two mainstream apologists (one trained, one not), and…well, Pat Robertson. I don’t think I have to explain any further how this does not, in and of itself, constitute strong evidence against Christianity any more than gaps in the fossil record constitute strong evidence against Darwinian evolution.
These sorts of straw men constitute the greatest number of errors, but there are others. We have the ubiquitous Jesus-myther fallacy of post hoc, ergo propter hoc, “evidence” of anti-Semitism in the Pauline epistles (Armstrong must either not realize Paul’s background or think that Paul suffered from some serious cognitive dissonance, especially given what he says in Romans 11), and a touch of threatiness directed to “liberal Christians”:
Let the liberal Christian beware. As you invest in the Bible any credibility as the “Word of God”, that same credibility goes directly to these fanatics and helps their cause. [source]
Was I unfair on many counts? Undoubtedly, and for that, I wish to offer sincere apologies to John Armstrong. But I stand by my criticisms of the work as a whole. It may not be quite to the level of absurdity, but it certainly does not attain the level of rationality that it presumes.