Well, dear ones, we are now safely tucked into our new home for my husbands next assignment. Which means I can happily dig more into this series on logic. Perfect timing, because the Ad Hominem attack is one you’ll come across often regardless of what you’re discussing. This fun to say word is a Latin expression which translates ‘to the man’. It sounds better in Latin, but means exactly what it sounds like it means.
Ad Hominem is a logical fallacy where someone attacks you, rather than your argument. You’ll often hear this when Christians discuss science. In fact, almost all the responses I see on twitter from atheists are Ad Hominem fallacies. ‘You’re too ignorant to understand what you’re talking about’. It’s difficult not to answer in kind, or to stay calm when your personal character is being attacked. Sometimes it’s helpful to take a step back, pray, remember that you’re talking to a human being that’s having their belief systems challenged. Then, once you’re calm, return to the discussion. I’ve never encountered an Ad Hominem in face to face discussions, although I’m sure they happen, it’s much more common online.
If the person has fallen to nothing but Ad Hominem fallacies it’s probably a good time to end the conversation. Although I would leave that up to your discretion, with a case by case bases. It’s important to remember, though, that personal attacks are not just logical fallacies, they’re a reflection of the one using them. You, and I, have to be reflections of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Anytime we begin a conversation with someone about the Gospel we should to so with solemnity, trembling before the weight of what we bring. Eternity is not ours to give or to take, we can only point the way like Evangelist in Pilgrims Progress. We bring Good News, and how beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News?
The point of this series is not just to explain logic, or fallacies, but to encourage and edify you beloved brethren. If there was ever a time in this West, or in the world in general, that the Gospel was heard willingly and happily, today its met by scorn and mockery. We have to dust our feet off, and move on to the next person. A bee doesn’t sting the flower that has no nectar, it simply buzzes off to find a new flower. When you come up against a person who has no nectar, and offers instead the biting Ad Hominem, pray for them and move on to the next person. Some plant, others water, God brings the increase! And as always, beloved friends, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.