Thursday, September 16, 2010

Responses to Militant Secularists are Lenin's protege

A secularist friend of mine who saw my previous post actually told me that I was wrong because I draw a relation between his secular cause with that of Lenin. He put it this way, "[S]ecularism and leninism are not related except in the books of some conservative christian circles! take this connection into philosophy classes anywhere, and you'll be laughed out of the room."

My friend is aware that secularism and Leninism are not related and to say that they are is actually philosophically ridiculous.

I thought that militant secularists simply don't know about equivocation fallacy. Why I thought so? Because they always relate contemporary theological engagement on public issues with the crusades and inquisition of the medieval era.

If secularists like my friend know about such fallacy and don't wish themselves to be identified by such fallacy, why then do they keep using this fallacy on others? All this while they keep emphasizing a relation between current theological discourse over public issues with crusades, inquisition, and other affairs of the dark age. In fact my friend lumped me together with the works of Thio Li-Ann by labeling me as a 'Thio-logian'. Either they are being inconsistent or simply unreasonably biased.

Do note the ad hominem in the sentence "[S]ecularism and leninism are not related except in the books of some conservative christian circles!" (Emphasis added)

The syllogism of my friend's statement works this way:

Premise 1: Materials produced by conservative Christian circles are philosophically wrong.
Premise 2: Secularism and Leninism are not related.
Premise 3: Sze Zeng's post shows that there is a relationship between secularism and Leninism.
Conclusion: Therefore Sze Zeng's post must be from materials produced from conservative Christian circles and hence philosophically wrong.

The ad hominem is obvious at Premise 1. Assuming that my friend was right that we can meaningfully categorize 'conservative' (which we can't unless we apply caricature, sweeping generalization, and misrepresentation. Hence personally I stop using category like conservative, liberal, etc), do all works produced from conservative Christian circles are philosophically wrong?

Those who disagree with my post have two ways to rebut:

(1) They can argue that the attempt to relate contemporary secularism and Leninism is philosophically ridiculous, as both are situated in different era and context and dealing with different issues.

(2) They admit that secularism is related to Leninism and continue to argue that secularism should be the adopted way in conducting public discourse.

If they chose (1), as I have stated above, they are simply showing themselves either as inconsistent or unreasonably biased. If this is the case, all their rhetorics to champion reasonable discourse and equality on public issues are washed down the drain. They are just as bigoted and preposterous as how they charge their opponents to be.

If they chose (2) in order to avoid being seen as inconsistent and unreasonably biased, their secular cause straightaway loses all political appeal.

So it does not really matter whether they deny or affirm the point that I brought up. They lose their credibility in both.

Besides, none of the books written by Christians that I read mention Lenin. The quote that I got is from Lenin's own writings, from primary sources. My friend tried to discredit the point that I made by linking it with a category ("conservative") which he thought was philosophically unreliable. Could the fact that my friend has to resort to ad hominem to dismiss the point that I made actually is a diagnosis of the secularists' prevalent attitude to public discourse, they are unable to engage except by ad hominem?


Israel Lee said...

Your friend is trying to maintain modernistic viewpoint between Lenin and secularism whereas you are decontructing it from a post-modernistic view by reinterpreting the primary resources. ;-) His method of rebuttal is of course tasteless, and he himself is in danger to be labelled as 'conservative secularist' by his approach, if I may coin the phrase. :P

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Israel,

That's an interesting perspective from you.

I see it more as an attempt to deliberate contemporary public discourse with hindsight that takes into account both wrongs done by Christians and non-Christians alike.

On reinterpreting Lenin, well, probably I didn't as much rob it off its meaning, but to supplement our current understanding based on his thoughts; bringing Lenin into our era to see where does he fit.

scruffy said...

unfortunately, it looks as though your last sentence is true. I've not seen any secularists (if you have, please point me in the right direction, josh) deal with this issue in a way that isn't ad hominem. Like i mentioned in your earlier post, appreciate your posts/blog alot. One of the reasons for that is because you are attempting to apply a contextual hermeneutic to interpreting primary sources for contemporary understanding.

I don't see the point in people pointing out the millions of people who died during the Crusade and saying, "See! religion is bad!"; neither do I see the point in people saying "look at communism and how much MORE people they killed!". I'm really glad you don't do that - because what is the point of comparing the degree of our idiocies and tendencies for such violence? The key thing is that both sides of the coin have a bloody history that is not easily forgotten. If we were to lump everyone and label them based on instinctual and prejudiced leanings without allowing that, perhaps, we have learnt from the mistakes of the past, then all discourse would be voided. We are all products of those who have gone before us, so if we are to keep paying for the mistakes of those who preceded us then where does it stop?