Thursday, January 13, 2005

More Fun with Dave Armstrong (Part 2)

In part 1 of this entry, I pointed out the many instances in which DA has broken his resolution of interacting with anti-catholics; but I didn’t respond to the “non-interactive” comments he wrote in response to my corrections of the last “non-interactive” comments he posted on his blog regarding Luke 1:28 and Smyth’s grammar. Here is my response to that—which is sure to result in even more “non-interaction” from DA.

I wrote: “Here is DA's most recent example of "ignoring anti-catholic" writers like me.” DA “non” responded:
attempted charge of me going back on my word. In fact, if one searches the text above, they will find that I never say that I would "ignore anti-Catholics." I wrote: “I have decided it is time to cease interacting with them altogether . . .”
I think I’ve adequately shown in part 1 that DA is simply blowing smoke here. What is the substantial difference between “ignoring” and “ceas[ing] interaction”? There is none. But that doesn’t prevent DA from making a distinction without a difference. Behold:

That is; I will not try to dialogue with them anymore, as massive contextual data makes abundantly clear.”
We weren’t “dialoguing” to begin with. Does DA perhaps mean “monologuing”? Because aside from a brief stint in which we were all part of James White’s Sola-L list (mid 90s), DA and I have never “dialogued”—nor has he “dialogued” with James White, David King, or others of us as far as I can tell. Does he really mean “I write articles opposing their views”? Then how does that differ from the same kind of “dialogue” that we have seen coming from his blog on a regular basis since he made his infamous “resolution”?

Later on I also made two very important qualifications: “I will continue to simply document and record the insults of anti-Catholics towards me” [and] “Either someone (including even anti-Catholics, under these strict conditions) responds point-by-point, or I will not counter-reply at all, per the above. I will only record personal insults, in my ongoing effort to document exactly how anti-Catholics usually "argue" their ludicrous case.”
Yes, I predicted he would attempt this. I wrote part 1 of this entry when I noticed he posted a response to my last blog entry, but before I actually read what he had to say. As it turns out, he did just what I thought he would do, and the reader is referred to part 1 of this entry to see why this “qualification” does not apply.

Now to the substance of DA’s “non-interaction” with my points:

I wrote: “And it is somehow “pretentious” to say that Smyth is not important to the issue at hand; in this case the meaning of Luke 1:28?” DA “non” responded:
[clearly, that was not my argument; which was that Svendsen was pretentious to claim that Smyth had no importance at all for Greek studies, when he clearly does; in other words, mocking that about which he knew nothing, by his own admission. I could easily prove this if the text were still available online]
What is clear, is that I made no such statement—nor did I even imply it. I never said Smyth was unimportant to Classical Greek studies; I said he is irrelevant to the issue at hand (the exegesis of Luke 1:28) precisely because he is not a Koine Greek grammarian. Here is an example of how DA engages in context swapping.

I wrote: “The all-encompassing point that anyone who knows what Luke 1:28 says in the Greek MUST AT ALL COSTS be familiar with a footnote reference to a Classical Greek grammar that is used in Classical Greek studies at “many important colleges and Greek courses.” So you see, in DA’s view, the issue is not the meaning of Luke 1:28 after all; the issue instead is whether someone who claims to know what Luke 1:28 says in Greek has heard of one particular Classical Grammarian who is outside the field of koine Greek studies.” DA “non” responded:
[absurd creation of a straw man -- even if sarcastic, because it is utterly wrongheaded -- and equally ridiculous mocking of it]
Lots of smoke, but no substance. My analysis above is indeed correct.

I wrote: “When someone “apologizes” for “questioning [my] abilities in Greek,” and then immediately proceeds to question my abilities in Greek (his point # 5), how meaningful was that apology? And does DA learn his lesson of the meaninglessness of using a source that is irrelevant to the discussion? Not at all.” DA “non” responded:
[misrepresents both the nature of my apology -- thus goes on to unethically question its sincerity -- then completely distorts my whole point about Smyth and ignores the fact that I fully conceded that a classical scholar would have to defer to a koine scholar, in matters of NT Greek. But the distorted, sophistical rhetoric is apparently too good for Svendsen to resist, whether it is true or not.]
The “nature” of his apology? No, I don’t think I misrepresented the “nature” of his apology at all, since the “nature” of his apology was insincerity. And if he concedes that a Classical scholar would have to defer to a Koine scholar, then why was he so insistent that mere familiarity with Smyth carries so much importance to the exegesis of Luke 1:28? Why did it become the all-encompassing point of his more recent blog entry? I’ll tell you why. Because DA is a master of red herring. If he can get his readers off the issues that really matter (you know, the ones he himself raises and then discovers he has absolutely no exegetical footing for his view) and get them to focus on the “importance” of a completely irrelevant point that bears absolutely no weight in the discussion, and press the “importance” of that point over and over again while at the same time acknowledging that it has no actual bearing on the issue at hand, then he will have succeeded in his taking the focus off his baseless exegetical speculations that started the discussion in the first place. That’s the “strategy of deceit” that Paul refers to in Ephesians 4.

I wrote: “DA keeps pointing to the fact that Smyth is “important,” “well-known,” “prominent” and that his work is “widely-used.” What he keeps forgetting to add here is that Smyth’s importance, prominence, renown, and usefulness extends only to Classical Greek.” DA “non” responds:
[non sequitur, as it has absolutely nothing to do with my subsequent criticism after my apology, which was that Svendsen mocked the man as if he was an insignificant scholar altogether. Thus, my point had nothing whatsoever to do with the koine vs. classical Greek distinction, which I have always accepted -- precisely because I know nothing about the subject matter, and thus defer to those who do; including Svendsen]
Just for the record, I never “mocked” Smyth. That’s only DA’s distorted interpretation of the dialogue. You will not find any statement coming from my pen that represents “mocking” of Smyth. All I suggested was that IF he was making the point about the grammar of the New Testament that DA was making, then he was in error. As it turns out, he wasn’t making a statement about the grammar of the New Testament—he was only being misrepresented by DA as doing so. Hence, for DA in turn to suggest I “mocked” Smyth is simply a lie.

I wrote: “No, he didn’t apologize. A true apology implies the very next sentence is not going to be the same accusation for which he has just apologized.” DA “non” responds:
[Again, he denies my sincerity in apologizing, and then totally mischaracterizes my subsequent complaint and argument, which was entirely different from what preceded it]
He questioned my knowledge of Greek studies (“Well Smyth says this and it contradicts your point”); apologized for it (after it was pointed out to him that Smyth’s is not a koine Grammar); and then questioned my knowledge of Greek studies again (“How deep could your knowledge of Greek be since you did not know that Smyth was a Greek grammarian?”). The only difference between the charge that prompted the “apology,” and the subsequent charge, was that the subsequent charge was completely off topic—a red herring at best, and a purposeful deception at worst.

I wrote: “And his mistake would be “innocent” only if he didn’t persist in perpetuating the same mistake in subsequent writings, including this one. He still wrongly thinks that Smyth is some important voice in the discussion on the meaning of Luke 1:28!” DA “non” responded:
[Of course I have done no such thing. Nor can Svendsen prove it (which is why he never does from my words; he merely keeps repeating the bogus charge). It "works" for him to pretend and wax eloquently about my supposedly having done so, so a point can be made about how stupid, dense, and hypocritical I allegedly am. Anything to make me look foolish; damn the facts and logic and even basic decency towards another human being!]
I think the facts speak for themselves on this one.

I wrote: “no one can simply use a Classical grammar as a decisive source for New Testament Greek.” DA “non” responds:
[No kidding . . . ]
Then Smyth is a non-issue (oops, I keep forgetting that in DA’s Bizarro-Apologetics world, “non” is actually “non-non”; a “non-response” is actually a response, “non-interaction” is actually interaction, and perhaps a “non-issue” is actually an issue).

I wrote: “DA has gone to a lot of trouble to show that Mike Taylor and Eric Svendsen contradict each other on this point (a strategy of deceit that he uses all the time—witness his most recent attempt where he tries to pit me against James White).”
[Gotta be a liar and deliberately deceitful person, in there somewhere . . . ]
It’s certainly not a popular thing to say these days, but I think it’s a real option (and so did the New Testament writers, by the way).

I wrote: “Now, since DA seems to want to violate his New Year’s resolution so soon after making it (I told you he would).” DA “non” responded:
[see my first footnote above]
See my part 1 of this series.

I wrote: “I’m sure he’ll also want to address his exegetical incompetence that was brought to the fore by James White. Or will he continue to cower under the cover of red herrings?”
[I ceased trying to dialogue with White because he utilized personal attack and distortion of opponents' views extensively, just as Svendsen does here. That decision has no bearing whatsoever on how I might have tried to answer his charges of my supposed utter exegetical incompetence]
So DA “non” responds to me and “non-non” responds to James White, even though we’re both guilty of “utilizing personal attacks” (something DA has never done, of course). As has been pointed out repeatedly, James did not engage in personal attacks (at least no more so that anyone else with whom DA freely “dialogues”). What he did do—and did it quite well, I might add—was to expose the utter folly of the ridiculous claim inherent in the subtitle of DA’s book: “95 Bible Passages that Confound Protestants.”