Is Ethan McReynolds unresponsive? Well, that’s a good question and it’s one that remains unanswered.
You probably have never heard of Ethan. I hadn’t either until this week. An article written by an apologist referring to him came across my Facebook feed.
It seems that Ethan is a young man from my part of the country, East Tennessee. Evidently he was involved in some sort of church ministry in Lenoir City, a small town just outside of Knoxville. From what I can tell, he has left the Faith and has become an evangelical atheist, telling his deconversion story in a new blog called Saving Souls and Finding Holes.
It wasn’t his Facebook feed that crossed mine though. It was the feed of Ryan Moore, an apologist from the same area.
In his article An Open Letter to Churches in Loudon County: It’s Time, Ryan called churches in the area to wake up to the need of apologetics for their congregations. As I read his article, I was introduced to Ethan’s story. I followed the appropriate links to Ethan’s blog and read his article Response to Ryan Moore. The back and forth has been interesting. As usual there seems to be some talking past each other. Ryan seems to be engaging Ethan and his articles in hope to offer some rebuttal of Ethan’s claims. Ethan seems to be saying that he is making no claims, only telling his story.
In Ethan’s article, Response to Ryan Moore, Ethan claims:
- He is not rebutting Ryan’s claims.
- Ryan is not a serious blogger.
- Ryan does not take his writing seriously.
- Ryan’s arguments do not solve Ethan’s claims because apologetics arguments are false.
- Both the Christian arguments and the atheist’s arguments are the same as usual, and people know that the Bible and Christianity have errors.
- Ethan already knows (all) of the apologetics arguments.
There are only a few remarks I would like to make about this article.
The title to Ethan’s article is Response to Ryan Moore. In the first paragraph Ethan writes “I won’t be doing a rebuttal to his response”, referring to Ryan’s article about Ethan. He then writes about five hundred thirty five words in response to Ryan’s article.
This is what is normally referred to as a contradiction. Ethan may not realize it, but he has actually contradicted himself. To say that one will not respond (A) and then to respond (non-A) at the same time in the same context is exactly what Ethan accuses the Bible of in Genesis 1 and 2.
What Ethan misunderstands to be a contradiction is actually not. The first two chapters of Genesis are not a case of A and non-A are true at the same time but rather A and B are true at the same time. Although it may be difficult for Ethan to understand how both A and B may be true at the same time, it doesn’t follow that they are not by necessity.
Ethan’s next two points seem to actually be the same point. He seems to be making a couple of assertions by his implicit ad homonym attack on Ryan.
The first assertion is that Ryan’s article is not worth responding to because of Ryan’s lack of seriousness. The second is that because Ryan makes some grammatical errors, Ryan is not taking Ethan seriously.
Ethan’s genetic fallacy here is subtle but that is only because it is masked in ad hom attacks. He makes an informal logical error by disregarding Ryan’s claims on the basis of Ryan’s supposed sincerity, otherwise known as seriousness. It is alright to decide to ignore Ryan’s claims, but Ryan’s character is not a sufficient reason for Ethan’s un-response.
Basically, the next three reasons that Ethan gives of his unresponsive response are all the same. Ethan says that he knows the arguments of Christian apologetics and he is not impressed with any of them (my summation of Ethan’s implication).
That’s quite a claim. In just a few short years, months, or however long Ethan has been an atheist or at least skeptical, Ethan has read every apologetic book, listened to every apologetic podcast, and absorbed all things apologetic and found every one of them (so far) wanting. It is this particular faith in atheism that displays his lack of understanding.
For example, I am a Christian. I believe Christianity is true and evidence can be given to point to its validity. I don’t believe that atheists have presented enough evidence to the contrary. I am not arrogant enough to say that they have presented no evidence whatsoever! There are some good arguments given by atheists. I ultimately disagree with them, but I would not say that there is a total lack of evidence.
Ethan is not interested in the evidence. He says that there is none for Christian truth claims. He is being intellectually dishonest.
More than likely, there is another, more intimate concern separating Ethan from faith in Christ. I don’t pretend to know Ethan, but his rhetoric seems to be quintessentially volitional.
There is one other point I’d like to make about Ethan’s attempts to discredit Ryan by attacking his “seriousness” as a writer, calling to task Ryan’s spelling and grammer. This atak is cumpleetly uncaled four and it haz nuthin two do with the truth uv it.
All of this is written with the hope that the reader will enjoy it through his or her sense of humor. It’s all in good fun.
In all seriousness though, Ethan, if you are going to attack Christianity, if your intentions are to evangelize your unbelief, by your own admission you should understand that you might have a target on you. The question you should ask yourself should not be “will I be challenged”, but “will my new beliefs be able to withstand challenges”. You can choose to ignore challenges to your new faith, but they will come nonetheless. You can pretend to have comprehensive knowledge of all things apologetic, but how does that exhibit intellectual vigor? You can reduce your response to ad homonym attacks, but as you know, that is usually a sign of a fragile confidence in your own argument.
The question from now on will be, “is Ethan McReynolds Unresponsive”?
My prediction…I doubt it.