Ad Hominem? (Or the relevance of qualifications)

Recently I was challenged by someone who has a Masters degree in Divinity. They claimed that this gave them the authority/right to challenge my view of Scripture, even my faith. I am sure that when they discover i do not even have the minimum qualification in this country (O level or CSE) in either religious studies or any form of biblical or theological study, that will confirm this belief.
I do have some qualifications for my Preaching but that is as much to do with following the party line as it is a test of knowledge or understanding.
However, I have probably heard everything they were taught and more, I just do not have a piece of paper to prove it, nor do I need one. The only examiner I bow to is not on any human examination board.
People are taught to pass a driving test. Once they get the relevant piece of paper they then learn to drive. What is taught in theory and guided practice will not cover most of what they will find when driving alone. It is no use knowing who is in the right, or what speed is recommended when other drivers or other external circumstances are involved. All this comes from experience. This is also why most employers want more than just a qualification.
I have known atheists with Master’s degrees in theology or Divinity. They have no interest in faith let alone be in a position to question mine.
When I am in the pulpit my job is to proclaim the flavour of faith I represent and explain why we believe what we do. Contrary to popular opinion it is not to force that faith in any shape or form or dictate what people must believe.
When on this, or other forums I express what I believe and why and dispute the accuracy of arguments or interpretations that do not conform to my beliefs. I do not expect everyone to believe what I do, or expect every interpretation to be just accepted because I am a…
Christian, preacher, scholar, teacher, agnostic, skeptic, or any other box you care to make or claim. Where you or I come from is irrelevant. What matters is the credence of the argument.



But when the argument is based on a strawman/caricature of the opponent’s position then it is rightly criticized as invalid. This isn’t ad hominem.


Now Evolution is another matter entirely.
Every now and then I proverbially raise my head and see what is trending or if there is anything new. I will freely admit that I was not aware of the current predilection with DNA and microbiology, nor did I know about herd and neutral drift theory. FIne! I did my research from what was said and some of the references and consider I have a reasonable grasp of what is involved
(Enter the scoffers etc, but give me a chance please)
What i usually find, including here, is that the protagonists know what they know and express it as they were taught, but when I challenge from a different angle or express it in a way they have never even considered they just pull down the blinds and rage about qualifications, specific data, and irrelevancies. Even if I suggest a course of thought that might help their cause it is rejected out of hand.
And I fully expect the same response here. I give notice. I am not responding to those claims here. Even examiners expect you to be able to think beyond what is taught and understand both the dynamics and the consequences of any theory. In all honesty, I have not seen that sort of depth of knowledge/understanding here.


Who are you to declare an argument anything? Without proof? Without necessarily trying to understand it?

Ad hominem?


PS I had not even mentioned Evolution. Perhaps you have an example in the realm of Biblical criticism or theology?

Disagree. Credibility, character, and expertise matter a lot. It’s not ad hominem to dismiss someone as not worth listening to because they lack credibility, character, and/or expertise. Of course there are ways of gaining expertise without formal studies and of course there are ways of undermining your expertise by failing in the credibility and character departments.


It doesn’t take proof to know someone is arguing against a strawman, be it evolution or theology.

My apology. You spend 90+% of your time here arguing evolution so I just assumed. Pretty sure I haven’t seen any argument by you on Biblical criticism but maybe I missed it. I don’t read every post in every thread.


Why? Even a fool can stumble across something of value. Why should you automatically dismiss an argument because of the person who made it? You are judging the person not the argument. If that is not ad hominem what is?

An argument must stand or fall on its own merit. And it also needs to be understood before it is dismissed. Calling something a strawman because you do not recognise the relevance is just dismissal. If you are not even prepared to consider or understand the argument then why have you the right to dismiss or belittle it? Claiming no expertise is just an excuse not to delve into it. Refusing to even consider an option is just dismissal and arrogance. If you have already considered it, can demonstrate that, and it can be seen to be straw, then fine, But I have not seen much, if any sign of that sort of response. And your answer would preclude it.

It is interesting that certain members who should have an interest (from other threads) avoid some threads. Perhaps they think they are above them? (Or conversely, the proponent is beneath them)? Let others waste their time?


Accepted. But please, I would rather not go down any Evolutionary argument here, whether you think it applies or not. That is not the purpose of this thread.


Because it is a waste of everyone’s time to wade through foolishness evaluating mostly worthless arguments just in case there is something of value. I have a list of about 100 valuable books that I will probably never have time to read. People should pay attention to the people who deserve to be paid attention to.

Also, no one is qualified to evaluate arguments in every field and most people can’t even recognize whether something is foolish or brilliant because they don’t know enough basic facts in any given field to know whether people are deluded, lying, or mistaken. An argument can be coherent and logical, but if the givens are false, the conclusions won’t follow. In fields they haven’t studied, most people lack the knowledge needed to evaluate whether givens are true or not, whether the facts marshalled as supporting evidence are indeed facts or are being interpreted correctly, whether the definitions employed are standard ones, etc. It is an idealistic myth that we can all go around evaluating arguments purely on their merit. We don’t do that. We can’t do that. We pick people we deem good and credible with trustworthy expertise, and we believe them.


I would suggest then you clarify the title of the thread. It echoes the complaints you made in many of your other threads.

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Disagree. It is true that even a fool will be right occasionally (rather like a stopped clock’s ability to very occasionally display the correct time). But on a planet with billions of people wouldn’t it be foolish not to do some rough sorting for where and from whom to seek out the real pearls of wisdom?

I don’t like the anti-elitism fervour being promoted in this thread. In a democracy we need people to have some grasp on issues which do not merely serve someone’s political goal who is clever about spreading misinformation. I consider the thrust of this line of argument to go against civilization and everything sacred. I could never take seriously any theistic point reasoned for by someone serving such an unholy purpose.


Ad hominem

So you have already decided that the arguments are foolish and the data is not accurate.

Sorry to be a waste of your time. It was nice of you to drop in here and confirm it.


Alas, in science, what prevails is not the merits of the argument, but the truth of the evidence. You can have a perfect argument, but if based on faulty data, it is vanity, it all is vanity.
You are correct that credentials are not necessary to make a valid point, but if you need surgery, you probably would want someone to operate who has documented training, a good reputation, a good record on success etc, rather than a guy working in his garage after watching lots of YouTube’s. Although, after reading of people getting butt lifts from people using Fix-A -Flat, taking horse medicine, and other such nonsense, maybe I give humanity too much credit.
However, ultimately, it is entirely possible to win an argument and be completely wrong. While there are times like debate contests where that may win you points, for most of us, truth is more important than winning, and the probability of someone who has good credentials being correct is higher than someone who does not, especially in areas that are complex and difficult to master.


No one has ever even looked at the data I use let alone proved it to be faulty. They do not assess it, They often can’t even comprehend the discription or assessment of it. Everyone just assumes…

I know


…was first mentioned ↑ in this thread right there.

So, @RichardG, you are referring to another conversation?

Thus, I don’t know what you are apologizing about. Color me confused, at least now and then.

Could you clarify your data?

Now I am sure (pretty sure) you have never actually posted any data on any topic. Analogy != data.

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After the post I referred to.

It is not in the start-up post.

Get your facts straight.


Not here.


No, I have decided that some people have not earned a hearing. The way you earn a hearing is by having qualifications and a track record and convincing knowledgeable peers that what you are sharing is valuable. You don’t earn a hearing because you published stuff to your blog, self-published a book, recorded a YouTube video, or otherwise declared yourself to be an expert.

You were the one who brought up “even a fool can stumble across something of value.” I am saying I am not going to waste my time with people who haven’t proven they aren’t fools. When I want to learn things, I am going to spend my time on credible, reputable, qualified sources. I’m not going to spend my time evaluating some rando Joe Schmoe’s arguments, just in case he might be right about a few things.


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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