apologetics · atheism · Christianity

“No True Scotsman” Gambit

And Mark Chu-Carroll has had enough if it:

If you talk to a christian about, say, the holocaust, they’ll say that the Nazi’s weren’t really christian. The crusaders who raped and pillaged their way across Europe? Not really christian. The inquisitioners, who tortured and killed all of those innocent people in the name of christianity? Not really christian. Tim McVeigh? Not really christian. Anyone who’s ever done anything bad? Not really christian. But man, those damned muslims and atheists – look at how many people they’ve murdered! They’re evil, pure evil!

And the atheists? Same damn thing. One of the atheists who persistently peppers my mailbox every time I mention my Judaism has repeatedly said “Only religious people blow themselves up, there are no atheist suicide bombers”. I pointed out a number of purely secular groups that have used suicide bombers. “They’re not really atheists; just because they’re part of a secular movement doesn’t mean that they’re atheists”. How do you know that they’re not atheists? “Because only religious people blow themselves up.” Wait, isn’t that circular? “No, because atheists are rational, and blowing yourself up is irrational, therefore if you blow yourself up, you’re not an atheist”.

Same stupid argument: People like me are good and reasonable; anyone who isn’t good and reasonable can’t be like me. It doesn’t matter what they say they think. It doesn’t matter what they say they believe. I know better – if they do something that I don’t like, then they’re not part of my group. 

3 thoughts on ““No True Scotsman” Gambit

  1. And Timothy McVeigh really *wasn't* a Christian. He said so himself. I will give him most of the rest though.

    Also, to be fair, the "They were't *really* Christian" is a tactic of certain Protestants, not Catholics (and not even all Protestants). Some forms of Prot ecclesiology hold that only "real disciples" are truly Christian. Catholics are much more loosey goosey. If you are baptized and haven't renounced the faith you are Christian. You may be a very *bad* Christian, but Christian you still are.

    A friend of mind once endured a class on the Holocaust in which the rabbi quoted various anti-semitic remarks. Evangelical were asked if this was said by a Christian or a non-Christian. They blithely stated "non". The rabbi then revealed the source: "So, you're telling me that Martin Luther was not really a Christian?" They assumed it was one of those Dark Age Catholics they could easily blow off as not of the True Faith.

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