Ad hominem arguments and intelligent design: Reply to Koperski

Zygon 47 (2):289-297 (2012)
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Abstract Jeffrey Koperski claims in Zygon (2008) that critics of Intelligent Design engage in fallacious ad hominem attacks on ID proponents and that this is a “bad way” to engage them. I show that Koperski has made several errors in his evaluation of the ID critics. He does not distinguish legitimate, relevant ad hominem arguments from fallacious ad hominem attacks. He conflates (or equates) the logical use of valid with the colloquial use of valid. Moreover, Koperski doesn't take seriously the legitimate concerns of the ID critics, and in doing so, commits the straw man fallacy. In the end, I show that no one disagrees with the criticism of improper use of fallacies as methods of evaluation. But what constitutes proper, relevant evaluation of the ID theorists and their motivation is a matter of dispute. And sometimes attacking a person as a method of evaluation is justified, and thus is not fallacious. The definition of ad hominem arguments as either a “good way” or a “bad way” rests on justification, which I argue ID opponents have. The basis for these good objections relies on the motivation many Christians have to share their faith with non-Christians, which they call the “great commission.”



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