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Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Some Catholics As Sowers of Discord

I taught debate and argumentation. I taught in the Socratic Method. So many of those who write on line on blogs, or twitter, or other social media do not know how to argue points without falling into name calling. There are some Catholics on line who do this on a daily basis. Some are in America, some Great Britain.
But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou Fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Matthew 5:22 DR

I have distanced myself from all those who use ad hominem in their efforts to fight abortion and heresies. These types of words create strife and have nothing to do with debate or evangelization.

Do not get involved. There is a huge campaign in the States at this time and some Catholics are allowing themselves to join the group which is calling a prominent person a name.

Let me explain something. Arguing a moral point should never include a reference to the persons in the debate. This not only lowers the tone of the argument, but is the fallacy of ad hominem.

Ad hominem aims at discrediting the person in a debate by undermining their character or authority. This is one of the weakest and most inept fallacies.

For a Catholic, it is also a sin. If one wants to become an apologist or fight the good cause against abortion or ssm, one cannot, must not descend to name calling or personal attacks. One can go to hell doing this according to Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Calumny involves lies and defamation;  and scandal is the malicious spreading of either lies or truthful situations about a person or group. I would place these sins under maliciousness and treachery. It is possible that such sins fall under wrath and anger. I think these are sins of hatred.

Logic was required in private Catholic high schools in the States, at the freshman or ninth grade levels, until the late 1970s. It should be required again.

Some modern moralists disagree with this traditional fallacy and claim that it helps understand a moral position to understand the guilt by association, for example, involved in ad hominem.

As a person who has won debating contests in the past and who taught debate, I learned the fallacies in order to avoid these, and, more importantly, to win an argument.

Please do not lower yourself in using inappropriate language, and stick with facts.

The truth will win every time.

See also....


Suzanne Carl said...

I so appreciate your posts, and this one in particular. I also teach fallacies of reasoning, evidence, etc. in my public speaking classes. As a blogger with a monicker, "Ranting Catholic Mom" I do occasionally use ad hominem humorously (I hope) or to demonstrate the ridiculous nature of someone's position. Maybe I need to rethink that usage. I'm tiring of 'ranting' and it doesn't really suit what I am doing now. Well, ME, ME, Me... Thank you for a post that has caused me to rethink the vanity of my use of language. You are spot on.

Supertradmum said...

Thanks, Suzanne, ranting is anger in many cases and not righteous anger. If we are truly going to evangelize the world, we need to learn what apologetics means and when to use debate. Sadly, the younger ones among us are steeped in subjectivity and cannot separate ideas from people, which we must do.

bill bannon said...

Part of the problem is the New Testament which has John the Baptist calling out to the pharisees " brood of vipers" and has Christ calling them " whited sepulchers over which men walk unawares "
But both John as prophet and Christ as God knew that the pharisees were close to filling up the sins of their ancestors...Matthew 23:32 " now fill up what your ancestors measured out!". Only God or a prophet could know this. The concept of completed sin is found in Gen.15:16 wherein God tells Abraham that His punishment of the Amorites is not yet due because their sins are not complete: " But in the fourth generation they shall return hither: for as yet the iniquities of the Amorrhites are not at the full until this present time."

Therefore we as non prophets should avoid thinking we know the degree of others' guilt as though we were John or Christ.

Supertradmum said...

Bill, you missed the point. We can recognize sin and avoid it. We do not have to fall into sin. The virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit include wisdom, which is discernment to know when an action is evil.

Of course, we do not judge motivation, but we can say some activities are malicious and evil. The seven deadly sins are usually obvious.

I am not judging guilt nor culpability, but objectively noticing and avoiding serious sin. I would assume this is no different than an alcoholic not going into a bar, or a person who is prone to any sin avoiding those who refuse to repent.

Being holy and pursuing holiness is an objective journey.

bill bannon said...

I didn't make it clear that I was not talking about you but about those who use ad hominems after the example of Christ and John doing so. Christ and John cannot be followed down the ad hominem trail because they knew the secrets of hearts and debaters don't.

Supertradmum said...

Bill, in arguments or in debate and in apologetics, as in St. Thomas's Summa, we can use ad hominem fallacy to show that one must not attack at person, but the sin. Do you see the difference? When people are attacking a person instead of their ideas or religious stand, that is ad hominem. We must never attack the person on personal grounds. That is the point.

paschal said...

I think it perfectly legitimate to call a spade a spade. Eg. The President. If he's a liar call him one. We need to speak the truth so others learn and don't cave in to societal pressure thereby perpetuating myths.
Too much political correctness has got us where we are today. Let's get back to being like Jesus....Yes, by challenging the present fear of offending.

Supertradmum said...

Well, Howard, if you do not know, I am not going to be specific. Just pay attention to Catholic blogs and twitter. Avoid sin.

Supertradmum said...

Howard, we can judge what we see, not what we cannot see, and I am referring to individuals, not to movements or agendas, which, of course, call for wisdom and discernment about motivations.