Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Reformed Apologist and Expert on Islam, Sam Shamoun Claims that the Catholic Church Murdered "An Estimated 50-68 Million People". My Reply

Sam Shamoun does great work in answering and refuting the claims of Islam. I have recommended his work in that regard for years now (even "liking" his Facebook Page): particularly on his Answering Islam site; and in fact we worked together one day some years ago in discussion with Muslims and had a very cordial meal at a restaurant afterwards. He has actually complimented my apologetics as well: at least that in defense of the Holy Trinity. We got along so well, he wrote afterwards (words in blue throughout):

I am reading your stuff since I think it is the most thorough and perhaps the best defense of Catholicism out there . . . Dave has been nothing but respectful and kind to me. He has shown me great respect despite knowing full well that I disagree with him on the essential issues.

When it comes to treatment of Catholicism, however, Sam, like too many Protestants, shows himself quite less capable of reasoned and sensible argumentation.

In the combox of one of his [public] Facebook threads (dated 4-9-14), he stated, initially replying to someone else: 

I don't believe the Roman Catholic Church is the one Jesus built, . . . Moreover, even though you claim that the Catholic Church has brought more people to Christ it has also murdered and persecuted more people in the name of Christ than anyone else, i.e. the Inquisition where an estimated 50-68 million people were killed by Rome. Just ask the Jews how they were treated by the Catholic Church. Thus, there has been no other denomination or institution that has done greater damage in turning people away from Christ than the Roman Catholic Church. [my bolding]

That caught my eye (being a cherished anti-Catholic myth that I have encountered many times), and I replied, citing his numbers:

Really? Please tell me the name of reputable historians who assert such an absolutely ridiculous figure. Thanks! I've yet to get a name after asking several Protestants who make this ludicrous claim.

And he counter-responded:

It's called Google. ;-)

So instead of deflecting away from the subject [which I didn't do; rather, I asked a simple clarifying question about his claim], ARE YOU DENYING the evil of the Inquisition? [note the clever changing of the subject] Better yet, could you please give me YOUR estimates for how many people your church murdered and YOUR justification for such atrocities? I will be waiting eagerly to read your sources and justification for this evil.

I've tried to post a very fair and balanced article titled "Estimates of the Number Killed by the Papacy in the Middle Ages and later" by David A. Plaisted, published in 2006, but due to its length I haven't been able to do so. I recommend you google it and read through it and tell me what you think since he examines the numbers of those purported to have been murdered by your church. In the meantime, please give me YOUR sources with the estimated numbers of people your church murdered during the Inquisition, and provide your justification for such atrocities, so we can take it from there. If you do not comply by providing what you deem to be credible and reliable sources then consider yourself banned from this page.

Gotta love that threat and "righteous indignation" at the end. Despite this surprisingly acerbic treatment, I replied at length. Here it is:

Plaisted has a Ph.D. in computer science. He's not an historian at all. So I ask for "reputable historians" and the best you can come up with is a computer science guy? That's laughable, and you can do far better. I know that for sure, because I've seen and recommended your work. But it's also a case study in severe bias against the Catholic Church and what it does to otherwise sound and able minds.

The actual numbers, of course, are just a few thousand, according to real (and competent) historians.  For starters, here are two non-Catholic, reputable historians:

1) Edward Peters, professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, author of Inquisition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989).

On page 87 of his book, Peters states: “The best estimate is that around 3000 death sentences were carried out in Spain by Inquisitorial verdict between 1550 and 1800, a far smaller number than that in comparable secular courts.”

2) Henry Kamen, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and professor of history at various universities, including the University of Wisconsin - Madison; author of The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision (London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998).

Their work is featured in the Wikipedia article, "Historical Revision of the Inquisition".

For copiously documented facts and figures, see:  “Beyond the Myth of The Inquisition: Ours Is 'The Golden Age'", by Brian Van Hove. Faith and Reason (Winter, 1992).

I do not "defend" the Inquisition as a practice, but what I do do (what you clearly have not done) is try to properly and accurately understand it in the context of its time (the Middle Ages and early modern periods). In those days, almost all Christians (not just Catholics; minus only a few small groups like Anabaptists and Quakers) believed in corporal and capital punishment for heresy, because they thought (here is the correct premise) that heresy was far more dangerous to a person and society than physical disease was. That is exactly right: heresy can land one in hell; no disease could ever do that.

So they believed in punishing the heretic for the sake of the good of the society. I deal with these issues at length, on my web page, "Inquisition, Crusades, and 'Catholic Scandals'".

What Protestants often do, however, in direct proportion to how much they are anti-Catholic, is to exercise a double standard in condemning the Catholic Church for engaging in this practice, and exaggerating grotesquely by positing ridiculous, ludicrous numbers that would be far more than the entire population of Europe in those days, and even enlisting clowns like Plaisted, who is not an historian, to bolster their uninformed prejudices.

This being the case, I inform my readers that Protestants (including Luther, Calvin, the English "reformers", Zwingli, Melanchthon et al) have a long list of "scandals" and inquisitions as well. In just one example among many, Martin Luther and John Calvin both accepted the execution of Anabaptists (by a mocking drowning) due to their belief in adult baptism. They considered this sedition. They also executed many Catholics in England, often by drawing and quartering and ripping out their hearts) simply for being Catholics (think: end of Braveheart: William Wallace was hanged, emasculated, disemboweled, his heart cut out, and all four limbs and head cut off). This is what Henry VIII and his successors did to many Catholics, simply for worshiping as their ancestors had done for 1500 years. I document this at great length and excruciating detail on my web page: "Protestantism: Historic Persecution and Intolerance".

I've answered your question in great detail, under penalty of being banned if I didn't. But I did. Now the ball's in your court. You can choose (and dare!) to keep this post up and reply to it in a reasonable manner (with substantiation from real historians this time, as I requested), or get rid of it as severely damaging to the myth you have tried to promulgate above. Your choice.

But since you have threatened to ban me, I will preserve this thread and my answer on my blog, in case you delete it and my careful work in answering your question is all in vain. I know all these dubious tactics from 18 years' experience online. I'm not naive enough to not preserve work I do from folks who love the delete button when they are unable to refute . . .

Dave Armstrong, let's try this one more time. Instead of plastering a book length response here which no one will read, answer my questions succinctly. I will even put this in caps in order to help you answer directly. PLEASE GIVE ME THE ROUGH ESTIMATE THAT YOU THINK WERE MURDERED BY YOUR CHURCH DURING THE INQUISITION WITH A LINK OR NAME OF A REPUTABLE SOURCE FOR ME TO VERIFY IT FOR MYSELF. SECONDLY, PLEASE PROVIDE THE JUSTIFICATION FOR YOUR CHURCH MURDERING THESE PEOPLE. Hopefully that helped you understand how not to answer and how to properly answer a question. Take care.

ALREADY DID ALL THAT. I wrote, "The actual numbers, of course, are just a few thousand, according to real (and competent) historians." You were obviously among the persons that didn't read my post (i.e., before you deleted it). I gave you two reputable historians (Edward Peters and Henry Kamen), and their books and credentials, and cited Peters, saying: " “The best estimate is that around 3000 death sentences were carried out in Spain by Inquisitorial verdict between 1550 and 1800, a far smaller number than that in comparable secular courts.” But I guess you didn't read that, either, since we're on this imbecilic, rude playground level you have chosen to descend to. I predicted that you might very well play the ""that's too LOOOONG for me to read!" evasion on my Facebook page, since you did it with someone else, and deleted his comment, too.

I also dealt with corporal and capital punishment as something done by almost all Christians during the late middle ages and 16th century period: a somewhat complex thing that we should try to understand rather than lie about. But I don't defend it in terms of actually favoring such a thing; never have. My position is that the early Church and current view of almost all Christians, of religious tolerance, is far preferable.

Extremely disappointing. I would have no more thought you would assert and dig in over something this stupid and idiotic than I would have thought you would become a Muslim.

I'll now remove the links I have had to your work with the Muslims, that have been up for years, and "unlike" your Facebook page, because in my opinion, you have lost all intellectual credibility. If you can lie and act like a complete ass and fool to this extent, towards a fellow Christian (one that you have even highly complimented in the past) and His Church, I no longer trust you to accurately represent Muslims and Islam.
For those who have any shred of fair-mindedness, here is the link to my reply paper again, before you delete this and block me [link to this paper].

May God bless you abundantly in all things, this Holy Week, as we recall with thankfulness, all that our glorious Lord and Savior and Redeemer Jesus did on our behalf in His passion and death on the cross, saving all who will humble themselves and call upon His name, in order to be saved in the end.

Sam then responded to another Catholic in the thread in a way that suggests he thinks the same about my reply:

. . . instead of making excuses to run away from defending your church's atrocities, why not try to respond in the same manner that I . . .  have done, instead of posting book length responses whose sole aim is to try to overwhelm your opponents with empty rhetoric masquerading as a substantive response? Try it since it will do your soul some good.

This is straight out of the James White Anti-Catholic Ultra-Condescension Handbook. Classic . . .

I wrote the above before his final parting shots. Am I a prophet or what? Here are his latest rantings:

Dave Armstrong, I was going to allow your post to stand because you managed to edit it down from a book length response filled with fluff and evasion to a manageable size where we can actual read through your bluster. However, seeing your rather stupid childish comments and accusations, i.e. "since we're on this imbecilic, rude playground level you have chosen to descend to. I predicted that you might very well play the 'that's too LOOOONG for me to read!' evasion", you have less than an hour to remove yourself from this page before I ban you. Moreover, next time I show up in Michigan I will be more than happy to set up a live debate between you and me on the satellite shows which I do out there. Then we will see who will end up sounding imbecilic and childish. Time is a tickin!

Gee, how original of you Dave Armstrong: [cites this paper] I guess I should be flattered that you have done a post on me, much like you have done with nearly every Protestant apologist from James White to Eric Svendsen. Is this how you try to get people to financially support your ministry, by giving the impression that you are capable of debating and refuting the "big guns" of Protestantism? It obviously isn't working now is it? You have less than 30 minutes to remove yourself as I ban you.

There you have it, folks. This is what you get, trying to have a rational discussion about historical facts with a raving anti-Catholic zealot. I never expected this from Sam. Apparently over time, he's become an embittered parody of a satire of James White: the Grand Poobah of the anti-Catholics and greatest slanderer of them all. And that is a sad thing to be.

[see also the Facebook discussion about this paper]

* * * * *


Mark Alan said...

Good Evening Mr. Armstrong!

There is also a good television documentary that was broadcast on the BBC several years back, which can be found on youtube. It does a pretty decent job of revealing all the myths, hyperbole, and hysteria that surrounds the "evil Inquisition" stigma. Considering that it is presented from the angle of mostly protestant historians, it seems to become more acceptable to hear, rather than coming from a Catholic angle.

God Bless!

Dave Armstrong said...

Yes, it was about the Spanish Inquisition, and is from 1994 (someone else mentioned it today on Facebook). It's excellent, and showed knowledge of the "new" research being done on the topic.

Adomnan said...

The distinguished historian Henry Kamen, whom you mention, Dave, gives an estimate of those executed by the Inquisition that is in line with that of Prof. Edward Peters:

"Taking into account all the tribunals of Spain up to about 1530, it is unlikely that more than two thousand people were executed for heresy by the Inquisition...for most of its existence that Inquisition was far from being a juggernaut of death either in intention or in capability."

By Kamen's estimate, for example, "it would seem that during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries fewer than three people a year were executed in the whole of the Spanish monarchy from Sicily to Peru, certainly a lower rate than in any provincial court of justice in Spain or anywhere else in Europe."

These quotes are from Prof. Kamen's book, "The Spanish Inquisition, A Historical Revision."

Oh, and by the way, the much-maligned Pope Alexander VI wrote to the Spanish government to complain about the severity of the inquisition in that country. So whatever was going on was hardly the Pope's fault.

In sum, we see that the "dreaded" Spanish Inquisition in four centuries actually killed fewer people than the Reformed Oliver Cromwell murdered for being Catholic during a slow week in 17th century Ireland. Yet Cromwell's much, much more exuberant riot of murder and cruelty merits not a passing thought from the Reformed, like Mr. Shamoun, who are content to point out the mote in another's eye.

There were a few other early modern inquisitions of note, aside from the Spanish: the Roman Inquisition and the Portuguese Inquisition.

From Wikipedia: "Italian historian Andrea Del Col estimates that out of 51,000 — 75,000 cases judged by Inquisition in Italy after 1542 around 1,250 resulted in a death sentence."

The number of executions by the Portuguese Inquisition, which existed from 1536 to 1794, was 1183 (throughout the Portuguese empire, which extended to India and beyond) out of 31457 found guilty (of something).

There were also medieval inquisitions, but the numbers of executions are hard to determine. The numbers would be in the hundreds, though, not the millions. The most significant medieval inquisition by far was the one directed against the Cathars/Albigensians in southern France in the 13th century. While there were a significant number of deaths, on both sides, during the civil war in France known as the "Albigensian Crusade," only a tiny faction (certainly way under 1% of these) were inquisitorial executions.

It is also crucial to keep in mind that many of the executions ascribed to the various inquisitions were not carried out for heresy, but for acts that are still -- or have until recently been -- recognized as crimes even in our secular society, such as crimes of immorality like bigamy. Other crimes punished by the inquisitions, such as blasphemy, were punishable in Western countries until the current century. The U.K. did not abolish laws against blasphemy until 2008.

So what it is, Mr. Shamoun, fewer than ten thousand or sixty million? Does it make any difference to you what the truth is?

Parenthetically, I do believe the inquisition, at least the Spanish Inquisition, can be described as a boon to humanity.

Bear with me. Here's why: An estimated 150,000 people were put to death in Europe for witchcraft over the centuries, mostly in Protestant areas. The Spanish Inquisition executed very few "witches" indeed, because the men running it were wise enough to reject the witch hunting hysteria as bunk. It's clear that many little old ladies and other "witchy" people were saved from horrible deaths.

In other words, the Spanish Inquisition saved far more people than it killed. Don't we owe a least a nod of gratitude to the inquisitors for that? I'm sure many an eccentric old woman, hauled by alarmed villagers before the tribunal of the Inquisition, felt that gratitude.

Adomnan said...

All "Bible Christians" would have to concede, it seems to me, that the Catholic Church was being quite Biblical when it established inquisitions to investigate heresy or secret practice by professed Christians of other religions, which was the biggest concern of the inquisitions in the Spanish and Portuguese empires.

This is from Deuteronomy 13:

12 If you hear it said about one of the towns the Lord your God is giving you to live in 13 that troublemakers have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods you have not known), 14 then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly.

Bornacatholic said...

Dear Mr. Armstrong. Great job; and I'd like to piggy-back on your work:

Moses, the 1st inquisitor killed 23 thousand one day (Exodus 32)

Moses, the 1st Inquisitor, Killed 24 thousand one day (Numbers 25) including all of the women and children

Forty Seven Thousand killed by The First Inquisitor, Moses, in two days.

Non-Catholic historian Edward Peters:, in his work, Inquisition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989, p. 87),

The Spanish Inquisition, in spite of wildly inflated estimates of the numbers of its victims, acted with considerable restraint in inflicting the death penalty, far more restraint than was demonstrated in secular tribunals elsewhere in Europe that dealtwith the same kinds of offenses. The best estimate is that around 3000 death sentences were carried out in Spain by Inquisitorial verdict between 1550 and 1800, a far smaller number than that in comparable secular courts.

I thought it opportune to parade a few facts by. I doubt one in one hundred million Christian Catholics, say nothing about Jews and Protestants and atheists, know the facts about Moses as the first Inquisitor and how his record compares unfavorably to Frey Tomas De Tourquemada, about whom the vast majority of Catholics are ignorant and so they consider it funny to hear his name and reputation continually blackened (Mel Brooks)

A William Thomas Walsh notes in, "Characters of the Inquisition, "Moses put to death, in the name of religion, a far greater number of human beings than Torquemada did. Yet his name has been venerated by orthodox Jews and Roman Catholic alike, and alwys will be, while that of the Dominican monk has become a stench in the nostrils of the modern world, and a symbol of something indefensible."

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks for all the excellent comments, guys!

Mark Alan said...

This guy's response is absolutely stunning and absurd! This man's behavior is a mirror image of my neighbor up the street, who asked me to explain why I would want to belong to a Church that "killed so many people?". I printed out pages and pages of research material and photocopied all kinds of reports and gave him some books for the guy to review and read. When I handed them to him, he simply threw them on the floor of his house and screamed; "Lies! All lies and deceit!". Needless to say, he never even bothered to read a single page and still continues his cat-calls and derogatory slander whenever I walk past his house.

Truly sad and unbelievable.

You got guts of iron and nerves of steel Mr. Armstrong.

Dave Armstrong said...

No, I have a sense of humor, is what I have! This nonsense is far funnier than any Monty Python or Saturday Night Live skit. :-) You couldn't make it up.

Adomnan said...

Sam Shamoun is covering his ears and shouting to avoid hearing the truth. He's a liar and propagandist, nothing more, as morally bankrupt in this respect as a Goebbels, who is famous for having said (paraphrasing), "If you repeat a lie over and over, it eventually becomes the truth."

Shamoun is "Reformed?" What about all the victims of Calvin's inquisition in Geneva, like Michael Servetus who was burnt at the stake? Calvin felt demonic glee in hearing the reports of his innocuous victim's screams and useless pleading, as Calvin himself detailed with relish in a letter. What about that, Mr. Shamoun? How many people did your church murder and what was the justification? (As "Reformed," Shamoun must consider Calvin, the founder of Reformeddom, a member of his church.)

Instead of hurling accusations at others, Pharisee-like, Shamoun should examine his own tradition which, whenever it had power, was as intolerant, murderous and persecuting as any of "those others" that Shamoun so complacently condemns.

Dave Armstrong said...

The comparison to Goebbels is over the top, but essentially it is true what you write. Calvin did mock Servetus, even as he was being burned to death. It's chilling to read how he talked about it.

Adomnan said...

I compared Mr. Shamoun to Goebbels only in the respect that Shamoun, like Goebbels, is willing to let an oft-repeated big lie serve in place of the truth. If someone less infamous than Goebbels had said something so pertinent, I would have cited that person instead.

Maybe it would have been better to have written, "A propagandist once said...." That way I would not have run afoul of Godwin's Law. What I wanted was the quotation, not the "reductio ad Hitlerum."

Adomnan said...

I looked up Mr. Shamoun's source for his anti-Catholic stats, David A. Plaisted. Plaisted is a fundamentalist Seventh Day Adventist. Seventh Day Adventism is anti-Catholicism organized into a "church," with vegetarianism optional.

Shamoun relies on the ranting of a SDA kook, a credulous student of Ellen White's "prophecies," while dismissing the work of real historians.

Dave Armstrong said...

It's especially fun given the Ellen White prophecy nonsense. This is our stellar "historian," huh? I guess Sam the Sham thinks so.

Dave Armstrong said...

Another guy in the combox cited what appeared to possibly be several real historians, but their figures were all in the low thousands.

I asked how those (even granted for the sake of argument) added up to "50-68 million"? Needless to say, no reply, but my comment is deleted now, so no one can see it except on my blog and Facebook.

Adomnan said...

"Needless to say, no reply, but my comment is deleted now, so no one can see it except on my blog and Facebook."

The truth wasn't working out, and so Sam decided it was safer to stick to the big lie.

Mark Alan said...


Do you have an apologetics page or blog? If so, I'd love to have the link.

Adomnan said...

I only comment on Dave's blog from time to time, Alan. I have no blog or page of my own.

Unknown said...

Mr. Armstrong,

People like this fellow have made up their minds already and are prejudiced against the Church no matter what. He put on airs of respectability and erudition initially but when put on his back against the wall,he gives you exactly the treatment you received. What you did was expose his hypocrisy and overweening hubris.

Jose Joseph/ CTW24 said...

I am christheway24, I notice the insults at sam shamoun by comments made by individuals on this post. I suggest to debate sam on these issues. Let's be professional and move this to an academic setting.

Mark Alan said...

Jose Joseph

So did you fail to notice the slanders and insults that Sam INITIALLY gave Mr. Armstrong in his reply? When given historical evidence contrary to Sam's ludicrous claims, Sam simply ignores the documentation and results to slander and accusation.

So I guess that a double standard is perfectly fine and acceptable for anti-Catholics and that such double standards are allowed to be brought to the academic arena for debate but only by anti-Catholics. The uncharitable manner in which Sam responded is what's being criticized and laughed at here.

It's going to be hard to debate an individual who refuses to read the vast amounts of "academic" evidence which has been written and documented by well respected, NON-CATHOLIC historians that disprove Sam's (and Jack Chick's) claims, when that individual has nothing more than an anti-Catholic axe to grind. I should know, as I used to be one over fifteen years ago.

I can tell you first hand, NO amount of documentation will ever change such a mind because pride is at the VERY center of that anti-Catholic hate. It was only by the Grace of God, that I was able to break through that and see things as they really were. It was a very humbling and humiliating experience, but I thank God that it happened.

Blessed Easter

Dave Armstrong said...


I don't debate the intellectual equivalents of flat-earthers; nor do I debate anti-Catholics (that's been my policy since 2007).

Sorry to disappoint you. Sam the Sham had his chance to engage in normal discussion and chose to act like an ass.

I don't waste time during my time on earth with vain controversies and stupid discussions (per St. Paul). The harvest is ready and the laborers are few. I'm here to spread the message of the gospel and the fullness of the Catholic faith.

Adomnan said...

Jose Joseph: I suggest to debate sam on these issues. Let's be professional and move this to an academic setting.

Adomnan: You mean a public oral debate? I doubt that either Dave or Mr. Shamoun is interested in that. Nor should they be.

There is only one "issue" here: the grossly, wildly, obscenely, ridiculously exaggerated so-called "stats," which Mr. Shamoun irresponsibly picked up from a Seventh-Day Adventist kook and used to slander the Catholic Church.

Dave and the others here who commented on Dave's post corrected the record using actual facts provided by real, professional historians who are expert in the field. For some reason, Mr. Shamoun covered his ears and shut his eyes and refused even to listen to the correction.

What's there left to "debate?"

Paul said...

Dave, and Adomnan I have a thoughts on this phenomena I would like to share and get your opinions.

I was thinking about his when reading Doug Beoumonts announcement this AM. I wrote him congratulations and expressed that he'd probably heard already from both sides that "I saw it coming." But then I thought, yeah, I hoped, but I knew the odds still weren't there. I've seen a lot of people draw close. Along the lines of the Chesterton quote mentioned above, I've seen people get close enough to get touched. THEN, I've seen them go off into crazy land which is often enough becoming even more anti-Catholic. One pretty well known blogger that several people were corresponding with and had a lot of attraction to Catholicism. He went through a phase where he seemed like he was opening up, then pulled away. Within weeks he was getting pretty far out developing his own personal brand of theology. Solo Scriptura all the way. Another personal friend I thought was right about to start RCIA, then came up with excuses, then dropped my friendship and became from what I here very angry with Catholicism.

I think, as in every Journey, there comes a jumping of point. When people pull away, I think it often becomes emotional and they can't let themselves try to treat the subject fairly.

Another guy I had ready to enter RCIA. He backed out and returned to the Gay lifestyle and moved in with a partner. He also found excuses to be angry with the Church and with me. But... in that case, Mary had had his heart for a few years already. She took care of it. I sponsored him in RCIA 3 years later and he's been Catholic for a few years now.

Dave Armstrong said...

I would say three things about that:

1) It's a spiritual battle and sometimes Satan wins and causes folks to go astray.

2) Conversion is an intensely personal and emotional phenomenon, and people sometimes do strange things under those conditions.

3) Conversion involves an underlying framework or presuppositional grid, through which other things are interpreted. This can change and go one direction or another.

Adomnan said...

What Dave said.

It's a very difficult question. I would add to what Dave wrote:

1) Many people are hopelessly ignorant and confused. That's just the way it is. Such people cannot reflect rationally on any set of beliefs or ideas. Their worldview and their beliefs simply emerge "full-grown" from the unconscious, although they sometimes attempt to rationalize them. Their rationales are never reasons. These people are essentially unreachable, except by grace.

2) The examples you give appear to be people who have attempted to reflect rationally on what they believe but then have surrendered to unreason. The first set of people I described lack the ability to be rational. Those who can glimpse reality but then reject it, on the other hand, lack a commitment to the truth. They lack this commitment because they fear the truth. They don't realize that there is nothing to fear, that the truth is beautiful and more consoling than any falsehood. What they put in the place of the truth is what they feel "ought" to be true.

That's why "sola scriptura" is so popular with some people. They need bring nothing to a text other than their prejudices and so there is nothing to prevent them from "interpreting" God's word to mean what they want it mean, what they think it "ought" to mean. Thus, all "revelation" becomes a reflection, a mirror, of their own feelings and preferences. Or, to put it another way, what they bring to the word is what they take from it.

Now, where do they get their preformed ideas of what the truth "ought" to be? From a false image of God that resides, largely unexamined, in their minds. From a delusion, in other words.

One way to overcome this imprisonment in the self is by cultivating objectivity and considering perspectives that aren't merely curved in on themselves. That can only be accomplished by deference to an authoritative interpreter outside of one's own mind.

What I am trying to describe is the same as Dave's "underlying framework or presuppositional grid, though which other things are interpreted."

Clint Ufford said...

Keep up the good work Dave.

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Clint. God bless you.

Kinana said...

Dear Mr. Armstrong

I commend you for your patience, evident scholarship and attention to detail. I concur with your assessment that Mr ‘Shamoun does great work in answering and refuting the claims of Islam.’ However, his work in this field is not damaged by his lazy and arrogant approach that he takes with you on this issue. It is possible that a person can be expert in one endeavour but not see his blindness when he steps into another arena. It is a shame that he does this though because it does reputational damage to himself. And it is a warning to all of us to be more cautious (and humble?) when we venture beyond our own field of expertise.

It is also ironic because he does not apply the same methodology when discussing and criticising Islam that he does when challenging you and making claims about the Catholic Church. The claims of the Islamic faith are contained in the texts as revealed through the Quran, hadith, the Sira, etc. Anyone who wants to challenge him can easily go to those same authoritative texts and argue the point. Mr Shamoun knows this and he yet refuses to look seriously at authoritative texts when making statements about history or the Church. He wants you to provide evidence and proof but then says you provide too much evidence and proof!

He wants something to be and wants it so bad that he refuses to use his powers of reason to see the reality. There might still be a bit of Islam in him!

Thank you

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks for your excellent comment. I was inclined to agree that this has no bearing on his expertise on Islam, but to believe something so ridiculous does, it seems to me, cast some general doubt on his credibility.

I linked to his work on Islam for years. I no longer do, because I feel he can't be trusted for accuracy and attention to important detail after this pathetic performance.

It may be that most or all of his work regarding Islam is sound, but without examining it, the reasonable conclusion to me, in light of how he "argued" here, is that it very well may not be.

When people do dumb things they have consequences; as you say, "it does reputational damage to himself."

It sure did . . .

Christophe M said...

HI there Dave,

I have to say that I am a big fan. I recall the biblical evidence for catholicisim many years ago and am glad to see you here. I love your work and the articles...I have been trying to see if one day I can develop greater knowledge about the holy Catholic and Apotolic Church. I'm wondering if there is a way to contact you directly by email for any additional supports... I work in RCIA and would really like some extra good articles for the classes, especially next year (9 people just entered the Church at Easter).

I also have a question about the recent attacks against pope JPII and JohnXXIII saying that they should not be canonzized due to the sexual abuse scandals. In your section on the scandals, I couldn't find and good articles about this...I find it frustrating to hear lies about the Church and the inconsistencies with historical record (like you noted in this articles by SAm Shamoun)

God Bless you.

Christophe Maguet Winnipeg, Mantioba, Canada

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks for your kind words, Christophe.

The material is all there for ya on my blog: well-organized and accessible: 2,500+ papers, + 43 books. I don't really have time to do e-mail exchanges. Sorry!

I have links to many articles on the scandal here:

Weigel has a great article on it: