November 1, 2008

My Letter of Admonishment to Professor Doug Groothuis

Dr. Groothuis,

I don’t know if you remember me, but I took a philosophical ethics class from you in the Spring of 2002. I learned a lot from the class and came to highly respect you as a person. Nevertheless, I feel the need to send you a letter of admonishment, as I feel that many of your recent blogs are a disgrace to both your profession and your religion.

I’m not all that troubled that you’re supporting John McCain for President. I personally think it would behoove Christians to vote for the Constitution Party candidate, but that’s beside the point. What troubles me is that you refuse to support many of your attacks against Obama with any evidence. This has been pointed out to you many times by different bloggers, yet you refuse to change.

Let me give you a few examples of what I mean. In August, one blogger asked you to provide evidence for the following statement, which you had made a couple months earlier:

“Vote for McCain! Unless you want:
1. Far more abortions, and your tax dollars paying for it.
2. Defeat in Iraq and Afganistan.
3. Coddling terrorists.
4. ‘Talking’ to dictators.
5. Race based politics at every level.
6. Another 9/11 attack in the US…”

You responded by writing:

“2. Defeat in Iraq and Afganistan. O has no foreign policy experience; he doesn't believe in American military power to be used for the good.

“3. Coddling terrorists. Modern liberals do not understand evil; they chalk it up to economic ‘root causes’ and/or blame America somehow. As Jean Kirkpatrick used to say about liberals, ‘Blame America first.’

“4. ‘Talking’ to dictators. He said he would do this without preconditions. It's in the record. Maybe he changed his mind by now…

“6. Another 9/11 attack in the US…It is far more likely, given his unwillingness to take a strong stand on domestic anti-terrorist strategies, etc.”

Now as a philosopher you should realize that you didn’t really provide evidence to support your assertions. For example, an Obama presidency would lead to defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan because he has “no foreign policy experience”? How does that follow? Obama doesn’t believe the U.S. military should be used for good? How do you figure that? Your proof that Obama would coddle terrorist is that he’s a liberal and liberals believe in blaming America? Don’t you see a problem here? Don’t you see why I’m frustrated? You haven’t given any evidence at all. Rather, you’ve simply backed up your unsubstantiated assertions by making more unsubstantiated assertions!

It’s easy to find such irrationality in the blogosophere. But from you? A philosophy professor, who should reject dogmatism in favor of rational argumentation. A Christian, who shouldn’t make damaging statements against his fellow man without providing substantiating evidence. Can you see why I’m disappointed?

What if one of your students was to “argue” in this manner? What if one of your students, say, set out to show that Hume’s rebuttal of the teleological argument fails because “Hume was obviously trying to push a secular humanist agenda and all the evidence in the world wouldn’t have convinced him that God exists”? How would you respond, Dr. Groothuis? Would you be frustrated? Would you fail the student? I hope so. So why then don't you seem to think that these standards apply to yourself?

If you believe an Obama presidency would lead to another 9/11, then fine, you’re certainly entitled to believe that. But why not make a rational argument? Simply saying such an attack is likely “given his unwillingness to take a strong stand on domestic anti-terrorist strategies, etc.” doesn’t cut it. What does that even mean? What anti-terrorist strategies? And how do you respond to the claim made by many, including Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA’s bin Laden unit, that Americans are only in danger of another terrorist attack because of our bellicose foreign policy? These are big, complicated issues, and it is the height of idiocy for one to think that his views can be adequately defended in a mere sentence or two.

Yet you continue making such assertions and you continue failing to provide anything in the way of evidence. On October 20, for instance, you again claimed that an Obama presidency would invite another terrorist attack. And to support this claim, you merely claimed that Obama would defund the military (while offering no evidence that such would happen) and that he would put the international community above American interests (again offering no evidence).

As I wrote to you several months ago, I write to you again: Stop making all these claims if you’re not willing to provide any evidence. There’s no merit in merely stating one’s opinion. Everyone in the blogosphere does that.

Don Emmerich


Groothuis' Response:


I urge you to repent of your false accusations.

I give links and arguments for what I say. Do I give exhaustive detail? No. Moreover, blogs are typically more conversational than scholarly. I offer my opinion about what an Obama regime would be. I have gone back and forth with many posters on this on the blog.

Please calm down and show some respect.

Doug Groothuis

* * * * *

A friend and former Groothuis student wrote me the following email after I forwarded him the above correspondence:


Wow, you are officially my hero...that is awesome! You took him to task! And his response is BS. I've had this problem with Groothuis (as we've discussed in the past) for years...I agree that he's an admirable person, but his scholarship is lacking. I remember his arguments for Bush in 2004 were similar--he gave us a handout with bulleted points, but offered no substantial content.

Your letter is well written, clear, and to the point. I don't think it has anything to do with 'false accusations' (where did he even get that?), but is merely asking him to provide better evidence for his propositions. And as much as he wants to claim blogs are "conversational," he is in a different category because 1. he's a published professor of philosophy and apologetics, 2. he is posting blogs that are not 'conversational' in content, but instead are political arguments. So I 100% agree with you on this. We need more people like you, thoughtful Christians who are sick of sound bytes and poor scholarship. Groothuis is the one who needs to 'repent,' not you...

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