May 1, 2012

Liars, Accusers and Other Sycophants

Revised 19 May 2013.

I have written about this before, but it's time to have another go at it and make it better. It's about accusations of "liar".

Some other people and I took someone to task in a forum for using the pathetically obtuse and detestable accusation, "liar for Jesus", something that people like this probably picked up from Dawkins. I have yet to see that garbage used by someone who was not simply attempting to provoke a negative reaction. Here are some reasons that this libelous phrase is agonizingly stupid:
  • It implies that the accuser knows the motives of the person, including a desire to deceive
  • The accuser does not stop to consider that God does not condone lying
  • How it is inconsistent to accuse someone of lying to get someone to believe in a holy God
Judging from my own observations and experience, other accusations of "liar" come from people who are unable to differentiate between lies and a difference of opinion. This is painfully obvious among the so-called "New Atheists" (the only things "new" are the noise level and the ridicule), such as the vituperative P.Z. Myers and his sycophants with their name-calling of creationists and accusations of "liar". I wonder if types like this even know the real definition of a lie.

Guess what, Buttercup — "Deceit" and "a difference of opinion about the interpretation of scientific evidence" are not the same thing. It is also contrary to the spirit of scientific inquiry to dismiss alternative explanations as "lies" instead of examining the evidence.

Further, this foolishness of calling someone a liar out of hand commits several fallacious things at once: Poisoning the well, appeal to ridicule, commit an abusive ad hominem and others. This trick conveniently dodges any truths that the other person may be saying that the attacker finds inconvenient; it's a kind of preemptive strike.

The accusation itself is not the same as a conviction, despite what some people pretend.

A fact is a fact. The interpretations of facts cause the friction. When a creationist says that the scientific evidence, the observed facts, refute evolution and affirm that there is a Creator, the intelligent response is not, "You're liars! All creationists are liars!" Of course, these people are crying from behind the safety of their computer keyboards and not making their absurd accusations face-to-face. 

Can you imagine this happening in other situations?

At the restaurant, f'rinstance:
"I have had four Dell computers. Three of them lasted a short time before meeting the scrap heap, the fourth is the worst computer I have ever had the misfortune of owning. My eMachine computer has outlasted and outperformed all of them. I will never go back to Dell."

"You're a liar! You hate Dells, that's all! Everyone knows that eMachines are junk! Why don't you submit your material to a scientific peer-reviewed journal and get a Nobel Prize for proving that a big-name computer company is bad? You Dell haters are all the same, a bunch of liars!"

"I'm speaking from my own experience, Poindexter. Now, are you going to serve my breakfast or shall I go to your competitor?"
Absurd, right? So is the accusation without evidence. Yet, it happens frequently online when evidence is presented that threatens evolution and an atheistic worldview, or people just don't like it. No need to examine, just use the presuppostion that evolution is true and work from there (circular reasoning based on a faulty premise).

Why would atheists care if we were actually lying? Since they have no consistent moral standard, no objective moral truth, why can't we just act like so many of them and say whatever we want? By pretending that they think something we do is "wrong", they are affirming our ultimate moral standard, which comes from God! How can there be a "good" atheist? Compared to what standard

I'm going to put this to those people: When making such an accusation, you must give evidence (as well as motive) that the other person is actually lying. Back it up, Bertram. Not that you disagree, not that they are mistaken, not that they are using hyperbole to make a point, not that they are making a joke, but genuinely lying. Otherwise, I fully believe it is reasonable to accuse you of being the liar, attempting to manipulate the opinions of non-thinkers in your favor. And you being a liar would disappoint Sam Harris.

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