Friday, May 1, 2009

The rhetoric of Evangelism or maybe I should go to the seminary

because I’ve been listening to this local Evangelical radio all day and I’m finding it pretty riveting, like listening to someone try to explain away evidence that is staring you right in the face. My first impulse was to compare it to a burglar trying to explain why his fingerprints were on the cash register and his face on the store video camera but I don't want to be that disrespectful because it was actually quite impressive. This one preacher who--in addition to a charming Irish lilt to his voice--had a bunch of cool tricks up his sleeves. Here are couple

1) False oppositions that set a masterful divine intention against a red-herring counter-intuitive vision of Darwinian chaos. (I mean: look at the window: does creation look random to you?).

“In some cases it is true that some animals and humans share characteristics--the chimpanzees can use tools for instance- but isn’t it likely that God in his infinite wisdom and majesty would choose, CHOOSE, to replicate certain elements of his design across variations of his creation. Isn’t that logical? Isn’t that more logical than that we are merely some set of random atoms swirling through space that just happened to form, by CHANCE, into the miracle of mankind over millions of years.


2) Sudden shift in the register of rhetoric from a precise vocabulary and high-academic diction to describe the creationist position to groundling comedy when he was was claiming to representing the evolutionary argument.

3) Often in combination with the partial admission of opponent's point (to disarm listeners sense that he was being polemical or one-sided) only to completely take back the admission with the following statement:

“Now I admit the differences between man and animal are sometimes differences in DEGREE rather than differences in KIND but these DIFFERENCES between man’s capacity for reason and intellect, to build and create, have faith and wisdom and knowledge of eternal life and an animal’s abilities are SO VAST that they canNOT be simply dismissed by apparent similarities.

Now, I know there are some of you in the audience that are thinking right now that you have a really smart Labrador or golden retriever. And I know you’re thinking that your Labrador can do some pretty neat tricks. But I never saw a bunch of Labradors at Starbuck’s discussing THE HOLY TRINITY? (laughter) And I know that some of us SEEM to act like animals sometimes. Maybe your Uncle Charlie even LOOKS like a gorilla a little bit...

Ba-da-boom! The crowd goes wild

Seriously.

I’m addicted

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