Dr McGrath has a bee in his bonnet about mythicism and says a lot of crazy things about it and anyone who presents an argument for it or (in my own case) even presents an argument that leaves room for it as a valid possibility.
This sort of response to my views took me a bit of getting used to and I look back and see there are some things I said or ways I said things that I have come to regret.
It is clear that Dr McGrath relies upon ad hominem, personal attacks and innuendo, to make his case. I cannot say I have always remained patient in all of my responses. Sometimes I have expressed even the mildest sarcasm on his blog and have been met with pounding of reprimand from Dr McGrath for my tone. (Meanwhile, of course, others will stoop to foul language and crude insults against me without a blink from him.)
I think it is important to stand up to Dr McGrath’s fallacies and hold him accountable for his assertions. It is important to have it on record that his claims do not go without a response.
But what I would ask is that, even if it is against our clearest judgement and the facts of the evidence before us, that we refrain from giving Dr McGrath the sort of material that he is eagerly looking for from us — that is, insults in kind, abusive remarks, character attacks. He has said, for example, that he cannot post on this blog because people abuse him. Well, I don’t think that was the case at all, nor is it the real reason.
Let the records and the evidence speak for themselves. We need do nothing more than argue the case, present the evidence, and let others draw their own conclusions about his character and integrity.
The main reason is not so much for the benefit of any exchanges with Dr McGrath — he will never change his spots no matter what. But to me it is important that this blog be seen as a reasonable and professional sounding voice in the debate in the wider community.
I don’t, however, reject any good-natured humour or satire. Dr McGrath is not averse to having a laugh at mythicists from time to time and I am sure he is big enough to laugh at his own side of the fence with good natured comedy, too.
I know I have said things I regret and cannot make promises for the future. But I’d like to try anyway.
And I’m glad that there has been very little personal attack on Dr McGrath on this blog. I’m sure we can keep it that way.
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2 thoughts on “Appeal to Vridar readers re Dr McGrath”
I am glad to read this post. As frustrating as the responses of mainstream scholars might be to mythicist arguments, almost any direct response to ad hominem attacks is not merely a waste of time, but actually feeds the false characterizations of mythicists. It doesn’t really matter whether McGrath cannot consider your arguments due to his own confessional interests, his own professional interests, or his own perfectly human load of self-satisfaction. It remains that he typically misses your point. I think you can accomplish more by turning a blind eye to the ugliness and accusations in his responses, and respond only to his substantive claims.
If someone unfamiliar with mythicist approaches to understanding Jewish and Christian scriptures reads an exchange between you and McGrath on a particular issue, where McGrath responds to your points in ways that don’t advance the argument, and you respond by complaining about his ad hominem, his red herrings, or his other reactionary expressions, you run the risk of confirming his insults to that new reader. That is just the way the human mind works. If instead, you politely steer him back to the unanswered substance of your original argument, you avoid the appearance of defensiveness. The effort to characterize mythicism as nutty or eccentric is highly effective because most people (self included) are kooks about something or another, and most kooks are defensive about their special area of kookiness. If someone calls me a kook, I confirm it to the audience when I become defensive or combative about the abuse. Robert M. Price is probably the most effective mythicist out there simply for his “a soft answer turneth away wrath” approach.
And I get the fact that some people are going to need to respond to insult with put-down. I understand it. I just don’t think it gets you anywhere.
I think it would be better to ignore the good doctor altogether.