Attack the Useful Strawman, not the Real Enemy

A snippet from Mises’ fine article, Stones into Bread: The Keynesian Miracle

—<Quote begins>—

Although Keynes looked upon “the strange, unduly neglected prophet Silvio Gesell” as a forerunner, his own teachings differ considerably from those of Gesell. What Keynes borrowed from Gesell as well as from the host of other pro-inflation propagandists was not the content of their doctrine, but their practical conclusions and the tactics they applied to undermine their opponents’ prestige. These stratagems are:

  1. All adversaries, that is, all those who do not consider credit expansion as the panacea, are lumped together and called orthodox. It is implied that there are no differences between them.
  2. It is assumed that the evolution of economic science culminated in Alfred Marshall and ended with him. The findings of modern subjective economics are disregarded.
  3. All that economists from David Hume on down to our time have done to clarify the results of changes in the quantity of money and money-substitutes is simply ignored. Keynes never embarked upon the hopeless task of refuting these teachings by ratiocination.

In all these respects the contributors to the symposium adopt their master’s technique. Their critique aims at a body of doctrine created by their own illusions, which has no resemblance to the theories expounded by serious economists. They pass over in silence all that economists have said about the inevitable outcome of credit expansion. It seems as if they have never heard anything about the monetary theory of the trade cycle.

—<Quote ends>—

When Christians speak, they can be attacked by all sorts of deceptive and faulty arguments, including ad hominen attacks against their character, designed to gain the applause of the masses… but typically, nothing of substance, nothing that follow and challenges the chain of logic. “A lot of noise… and no meat.”

There are, upon occasion, real challenges to Christian arguments. These substantial and reasonable arguments must be treated with respect, and investigated. Errors in these arguments must be addressed… and strengths in these challenges must be acknowledged. “Metal sharpens metal; and steel, steel.

A good example of this I posted about comes from the sciences, where substantial rebuttals (not mere heckling form the atheistically ignorant) to Intelligent Design arguments are themselves carefully responded to.

Within Christian circles, there isn’t a lot of arguments from non-theonomists I can use nowadays, as Christians who don’t actually believe in the authority of God to lay down the law – to punish the wicked today, and reward the righteous today – prefer to pretend that their challengers don’t exist, instead of dealing with the arguments.

…there will be no successful attempt by scholarly leaders of the various pessimillennial camps to respond to Chilton. There is a reason for this: They cannot effectively respond. As we say in Tyler, they just don’t have the horses. If I am incorrect about their theological inability, then we will see lengthy, detailed articles showing why Chilton’s book is utterly wrong. If we don’t see them, you can safely conclude that our opponents are in deep trouble. To cover their naked flanks, they will be tempted to offer the familiar refrain: “We will not dignify such preposterous arguments with a public response.”

That is to say, they will run up the intellectual white flag.

Gary North, in his introduction to David Chilton’s Days of Vengeance

And once again, first-rate atheistic scholars prove to be better – and have more integrity! – than fourth-rate Christian ones.

(With Mises himself – a Kantian atheist – being a solid demonstration of this fact.)

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