Tuesday, October 29, 2013

To Someone Who Claims To See My Point About Saying "Bronze-Age Goat Herders," But To See No Satisfactory Alternative To The Phrase

No, you don't see my point at all, which is about how insisting on reciting Dawkins' Holy Scripture and repeating "Bronze Age goat herders," word for word, time after time after time, makes YOU sound: namely, like someone who either hasn't heard that the oldest parts of the Old Testament were written by Iron Age city dwellers or doesn't care about describing things accurately, but still somehow wants to come across as someone with scathing critiques to offer. Historians who are unconcerned with describing things accurately? Outside of the Bizarro-World of places like the History Channel (about your speed, perhaps) such people generally aren't called historians. People who intentionally are inaccurate for rhetorical effect? They're generally called liars. That's certainly what I call them. If I belonged to a group who called some 20th-century Americans who weren't farmers "Iron Age soybean farmers" and insisted that they had "stolen science from the Renaissance" and then stood there high-fiving each other with smug looks on our faces like we thought we'd really ripped them a new one, it wouldn't make anyone look bad except us. We wouldn't be impressing anybody except each other. And we'd probably vanish from history fairly promptly, apart from historians of the absurd.

If you think it's essential to offer negative criticism of someone, and accurate description of them doesn't do the trick, doesn't cast them in a sufficiently negative light, and you see yourself compelled to be inaccurate in order to be "effective," something is drastically, and very obviously, wrong with your situation. It may be time to pause and consider whether you have your head way, way up your ass. Perhaps people like Ehrman are 100% correct to compare people like you to climate-change deniers and Holocaust deniers, if you feel you're on a mission too important for you to be bothered with things like the truth.

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