We have just added the following to our “Frequently raised but weak arguments against Intelligent Design” in the “Resources” section linked on our home page:
41] What About the Canaanites?
Whataboutism is a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy that attempts to discredit an opponent’s position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument.
A frequent example of whataboutism employed by materialists:
ID Proponent: “The Holocaust was objectively evil. Therefore, objective moral standards exist.”
Materialist: “What about God’s command to kill the Canaanites? If the Holocaust was evil, wasn’t that evil too?”
Notice what the materialist did not do: He did not even address the ID proponent’s argument, far less refute it. Instead, the materialist tried to discredit the argument by charging the ID proponent with hypocrisy.
Materialists employee whataboutism frequently because it works. It puts the ID proponent on the defensive, and time after time arguments about whether objective moral standards exist get bogged down in attempts to justify God’s commands concerning the Canaanites 3,400 years ago.
From a strictly logical point of view, there is no reason this should ever happen. The proper response is to decline the invitation to change the subject: “I don’t believe it, but let’s assume for the sake of argument you are right. Getting back to the argument before you tried to change the subject . . .”
Strictly speaking, whataboutism is not a “weak argument.” It is, rather, an attempt to derail an argument, and many times it has been used very effectively by the materialists that frequent these pages. Arguments about whether objective moral truth exists go nowhere, because they are bogged down by theists’ apologies for God’s commands to the Israelites 3,400 years ago.
No more. UD’s purpose is to serve the intelligent design community, and while there is a great deal of overlap between that community and various stripes of theists, they are not the same thing. UD is not a platform for apologetics. Therefore, henceforth, materialists’ whataboutism tactics designed to derail arguments similar to “what about the Canaanites?” AND apologies from theists who fall for the tactic will be discouraged. We hope warnings will be sufficient, but reserve the option of deleting comments and/or putting commenters in moderation if the warnings are ignored.
To the materialists who are disappointed this particular tactic for derailing arguments will no longer be available at UD, don’t worry. We are sure you will find other ways to try to deflect from a reasoned examination of your views.
To the theists who are disappointed they will not be able to post apologies for God’s commands concerning Canaan, you too should not worry. There is a time and place for apologetic concerning this matter. UD is not the place.