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January 10, 2012

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I love the blog. I read every post. It's almost always very intelligent and most importantly short and concise. Also, I am not a fan of Santorum. So I have to say I was pretty bummed to see you use some pretty sophomoric "gotcha" type rhetoric in this post.

Saying, "If The Bible must be obeyed literally, and The Bible advocates stoning to death adulterers, does Santorum also support stoning as part of modern public policy?" is baseless, and in reality a little strawmanesque. First, the Bible, as a book, cannot advocate anything. The Bible is a compilation of many authors writing from, and about, many different cultures and eras. The Bible reports God instructing the Israelites to stone Blasphemers in Leviticus, but it also reports Jesus instructing his disciples to turn the other cheek in Matthew. The book cannot be said to "advocate" either view, much like you cannot say that the NY Times advocates murder when it reports on murder. Also, as an Episcopalian you should know from the Biblical narrative the New Testament commands supersede the Old Testament's. So to speak of "literally obeying the Bible" including stoning is all the more incoherent.

Second, Santorum never said we should stone people. To equivocate what he says about gay marriage with stoning people is just that, equivocation, and a type of strawmaning, and probably ad hominem too.

Dear Somehearts: Thanks for your support of the blog. Regarding this particular post, can I plead guilty to it all?

I agree, by the way, that The Bible itself cannot advocate anything without reflection and discussion by those who use it. Most Christians and Jews do reflect and discuss, and do not blindly adopt public policies simply because they are recorded in The Bible.

But some opponents to gay marriage do cite The Bible, and use quotes from both the Old and New Testaments to justify it. Santorum has used religion as a foundation for his ethical views and proposing public policies, so it is fair game to ask on what basis this is to be done.

You are correct that he has not proposed stoning—so that is strawmanesque (as you note). But using reductio ad absurdum to advance an argument is sometimes helpful, which was my intent. Sorry it didn’t work in this case!

Thanks for your insightful comment. --JW

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