They have forsaken the Lord (Part 10) – James’ Reply

Robert, unfortunately you have committed a logical fallacy specifically called a semantic etymological fallacy. An etymological fallacy is a linguistical misconception based on the idea that the etymology of a word or phrase is its actual meaning. An apologist is someone who defends a belief; it is not someone who apologizes.

What I like is how you string together philosophical ideas and string them together to somehow make my points or ideas mute.  Like your consistent usage of the term fallacy and your addition of the term etymological.  Neat.  I tend to speak in more “common” terminology.  If I were to sum up my dialogue with you it’s more of a debate on epistemology.  I get where your going with “apologist”, however what you didn’t analyze is that specific term actually does have more than one perceived understanding in exactly the same context that you used.  An apologist can either make excuses like they are trying to cover something up (what I thought you implied), or they can defend a belief (what you clarified as your true implication).  Nevertheless, our “debate” isn’t completely about semantics…is it?

From Wikipedia:

Today the term “apologist” is colloquially applied in a general manner to include groups and individuals systematically promoting causes, justifying orthodoxies, (your implication) or denying certain events, even of crimes. Apologists have been characterized as being deceptive, or “ whitewashing” their cause, primarily through omission of negative facts (selective perception) and exaggeration of positive ones, techniques of classical rhetoric. (my initial understanding of what I thought you were impliying) When used in this context, the term often has a pejorative meaning. The neutralized substitution of “spokesperson” for “apologist” in conversation conveys much the same sense of “partisan presenter with a weighted agenda,” with less rhetorical freight.

Moving right along….

Before “moving right along”, perhaps you should learn how to take defeat constructively. You used the word “apologist” incorrectly (and in a logically fallacious way); when you play these semantic games with your audience you are indirectly insulting our intelligence as we all have dictionaries at our disposal. For the last time, the word “apologist” does not have the meaning you ascribe to it. The fact that you refused to acknowledge this transgression underscores the type of apologist you are (i.e. your characteristics as an apologist) and makes this “debate” all the more difficult for any opponent who argues according to the rules of diction, grammar, logic, etc.

I mean, without these rules of grammar and semantics, without structure, I can say anything I want in response to any claim you make and still walk away feeling justified and victorious because without rules there is no way to objectively evaluate or constrain any assertion. Welcome to intellectual anarchy. By the way, you asked if our debate was “completely about semantics” to which I must respond, of course! If we can’t agree on the meanings of the words we use then why are we even having this conversation?

There is in fact, no objective lexicon, dictionary, nor authoritative source that will help you justify the way you tried to misuse the word “apologist.” Normally, I would not be so pedantic about such a seemingly insignificant offense; in fact, I would have ignored it were these types of mistakes not so pervasive in your responses so far. The mere fact that you chose to quote Wikipedia as a proof text (which is not just unsubstantiated and unverified but demonstrably unreliable as anyone can add to or edit any Wikipedia entry) shows that you do not intend to seriously look at the objections brought before you. Now don’t get me wrong, Wikipedia has it’s uses, in fact, I too in the past have used Wikipedia as a means to an end; however, anyone quoting Wikipedia had better be sure that what ever information they reference can be corroborated by an authoritative source.

Everyone reading your response knows that if I was truly wrong about your careless misuse of the word “apologist,” you could have easily countered my claim by providing a “dictionary definition” and that would suffice. Instead, you chose to quote “Wikipedia” because you know that you are wrong and hoped that by finding a source that was deemed somewhat official (unfortunately only by the misinformed) you could introduce ambiguity to the definition of a word (apologist) whose meaning is not.

If you can misrepresent the meaning of the word “apologist” and even after objective correction you defiantly refuse to admit that you have done so, how can I have assurance that you will not misrepresent the rest of your arguments (as you have manifestly done so far) and (despite sound rebuttals) refuse to acknowledge your transgressions? Why should I spend anymore valuable time engaging in further dialogue when you do not respect the rules of logic or grammar? Wouldn’t any additional effort on my part truly be a waste of time? Any reasonable person would probably advise me to abandon this discourse as you have given no assurance that you have the aptitude for objectivity.

Now, for grins and giggles, let’s look at your Wikipedia reference.

Apologists have been characterized as being deceptive, or “ whitewashing” their cause, primarily through omission of negative facts (selective perception) and exaggeration of positive ones, techniques of classical rhetoric…”

Who cares that apologists have been characterized as being deceptive or “whitewashing” etc. Lawyers and preachers have also been characterized likewise; yet, their definitions do not change. Word definitions stand independent of any “characterizations” that may exist about the word. Hopefully, it is now evident that even this quasi-official source does not bolster your attempt to misuse the word “apologist.” Incidentally, you have misrepresented “apologist” at least twice now, as your first usage (someone who apologizes) differs from the one you wish to now embrace based on the Wikipedia excerpt (someone who is characterized by deception etc).

Robert, it is not my intention to embarrass you or to be petty; I simply would like to know that if I am to continue in this conversation I do so with a partner who is willing to yield when established authority (i.e. logic, dictionary, grammar …) demands so. Yet, judging by your responses, you seem to have a disdain for order and reason.

To go off on a related tangent, it is somewhat ironic that this misfortune (failure to acknowledge and adhere to structure and order) should befall you especially because this is primarily the reason why the Quran is not taken seriously.  As mentioned earlier, the Quran has no context, no chronology, it is not topical, and it is very disorderly. Yet, when these accusations are brought up, instead of addressing them with appropriate and relevant rebuttal, all you do is repeat the same counter attacks (against Christianity) you have said before and usually in a way that disobeys sound logic.

I would like to think that the main purpose of any debate is ultimately to learn how to better defend a position. The purpose of a debate is not to defend a position at any cost (i.e. even at the cost of losing one’s credibility to be objective) If you are willing to admit to your fault above, I will take that gesture as your intent to engage in discourse that is objectively verifiable and continue to dissect the remainder of your response. However, if you continue to defiantly refuse to admit that you used the word incorrectly, I will be compelled to spend my time more wisely.

In his grip,