Should you pay attention to that person who is speaking against you? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
A few nights ago I’m getting ready to go to bed and I get a comment from someone who claims to be a professor of religion and philosophy at the University of Chicago. He is commenting on my review of Raphael Lataster’s book that can be found here. His comment is that the first replies were devastating on Amazon and that I should have just stopped instead of continuing to embarrass myself by responding and my replies would be used in his class.
What was it said that I got wrong? Nothing at all. Just a kind of drive-by remark.
Now my rule for these kinds of things is I wouldn’t really recommend taking the opinion of total strangers online. When I get such a criticism, I generally pass it on to people who I know who I trust and who I also know will shoot me straight. I have a number of mentors in the world after all.
It’s inevitable in this world that you are not going to please everyone. Every blogger, speaker, writer, etc. will have their critiques. If you write a book like Lataster’s, inevitably, some atheists will give it five stars and some Christians like myself will give it one star. (Note I did such for the content. Carl Sagan’s Demon-Haunted World I gave four stars in fact. Sagan is someone who I thought I could actually have a conversation with.)
Also, there are good and bad books on both sides. There are some books on Christian apologetics I think people should avoid like the plague. There are some atheists who actually are much more capable of good dialogue. Generally, I’m reading in the field of NT studies and I would recommend a number of books by atheistic and liberal NT scholars.
Yet when I got this email, my first reaction is honestly amusement at this. I’m in the field and it happens, yet my second reaction was to do some checking. If I have a critic, well I want to know who he is.
So what do I do? I go to do a google search for his name.
Okay. That’s interesting. If someone has a doctorate, they should have something in the field to be recognized, especially if they’re teaching at a university.
So today I decided to take a step further. I emailed the university that he supposedly teaches at and asked if he was there.
No record they found.
And of course, I had found nothing in my search through the university either.
So what’s the word here? Always remember to be cautious on the internet. Anyone can claim to be anyone and be careful who you take as an authority. That includes coming here. Many readers have got to know me over time, but if you don’t really know me for sure, by all means be skeptical. In fact, I encourage it. Check up on what I say. Be willing to look into matters.
On the internet, anyone can easily claim to be an authority and unfortunately with Google searches, it can be easy to fool someone. The internet is a great tool, but it is only a tool, and while there is a gold mine of information online, the best information you will find will be in books and articles. If someone can only link web sites and not credentialed scholars or tell books that they’ve read, be skeptical.
And before heeding the words of a critic, make sure on if they’re really someone worth listening to.
Now if I find out later that my critic is a real person, I will be glad to correct that, but for now, I remain skeptical.