Who, me? I don't have a problem with the pope!

Some days ago I was told (she said he said, that kind of stuff) that a friend thought that I had an issue with the pope.

The comment made me laugh but, thinking it over, it is a serious matter.

Probably this friend saw my blog post titled "Condones para el papa" (Condoms for the pope) in which I criticized the pope's statements during that recent, infamous trip to Africa. And this will show the difference between debating a person's ideas and attacking the person.

When ideas are debated, arguments must be used to show the falsehood or impropriety of someone's statetements. Using personal attacks (ad hominem) is not proof that said ideas are wrong.

For instance, if someone comented on this note saying that I am a hard core atheist and that is why I don't like the pope, he would be mounting a personal attack and not debating the correctness of my ideas. I always try to make clear, when criticizing someone's ideas, that it is the ideas I debate, not the person.

In the case of pope Ratzinger, I really sympathize with him. Joseph Ratzinger is a man who has found himself in a difficult situation for which he was not the best equipped person. While the previous pope, Karol Wojtyla better known as John Paul II, had the opportunity to polish his diplomatic skills fighting communism in his native Poland, pope Ratzinger is an academic, who would be content teaching at a university or writing theological treatises on the catholic church doctrine, which is his specialty. Being the head of the church has put him on the spotlight and his tendency to openly speak his mind on catholic dogma issues has gotten him into problems like the one that caused my criticism.

So, trying to prove an idea wrong by using personal attacks is what is called an ad hominem fallacy.

I don't have a problem with pope Ratzinger. I have a problem with his ideas.

This is a free translation of my post yesterday at El Chapín Escéptico (in spanish). I thought it fit well with The Chapin Skeptic.

Share on Facebook

No comments: