I knew this was coming. It was just a matter of time before Christians kooks would inflict upon us their old dictum that egregious acts can’t be committed by Christians, because “True Christians” would never commit such atrocities. Here’s an excerpt from the Christian Post wherein Larry Keffer, from the Biblical Research Center, is spouting such nonsense.
Keffer warns that people should not think that just because Breivik says he is a Christian that he actually is one.
“When I was out in Norway,” he said, “the people there thought they were Christian because they were Norwegian.” Many people in the so-called “Christian nation,” he says, claim the faith but haven’t necessarily been genuinely converted.
“A true Christian would not go and … shoot people in a camp or blow up buildings,” he said. “That’s not what a Christian does. So just because a man claims to be a Christian, or even believes that he is a Christian, does not necessarily make him so.”
It’s such a slimy way to absolve the Christian faith of any responsibility for their actions. It is also a well-known logical fallacy–in this case a fallacy of ambiguity–also known as the No True Scotsman Fallacy. Wikipedia puts it thus:
No True Scotsman is an intentional logical fallacy, an ad hoc attempt to retain an unreasoned assertion. When faced with a counterexample to a universal claim, rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original universal claim, this fallacy modifies the subject of the assertion to exclude the specific case or others like it.
The origination of the fallacy was first put forth in 1975 in the book Thinking About Thinking: Do I sincerely want to be right?, by philosopher Antony Flew. Here is how Flew presented the fallacy.
Imagine Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sitting down with his Glasgow Morning Herald and seeing an article about how the “Brighton Sex Maniac Strikes Again.” Hamish is shocked and declares that “No Scotsman would do such a thing.” The next day he sits down to read his Glasgow Morning Herald again and this time finds an article about an Aberdeen man whose brutal actions make the Brighton sex maniac seem almost gentlemanly. This fact shows that Hamish was wrong in his opinion but is he going to admit this? Not likely. This time he says, “No true Scotsman would do such a thing.”
I have to take exception to a specific case, however, and proclaim that No True Scotsman wears underwear with a kilt! My proof?