Ad hominem, adding or attacking the man as opposed to the argument, is on display for over nine minutes in this hilarious Fox News interview with Reza Aslan. Professor Aslan, you see, is a Muslim who wrote a book about Jesus. And if you say that enough–if you drive that meme like a bulldog–then, of course, no Christian need attend to anything he has to say.
Another thing I find amusing in the clip: the presumption that the opinion of a Christian scholar from the Christian tribe (such as William Lane Craig) necessarily trumps the opinion of a Muslim scholar from the Muslim tribe before any arguments have been fleshed out. This too is a kind of ad hominem, but in reverse: a “positive” man as opposed to a “negative” man has been added to the argument so as to lead the audience toward one bias as opposed to another. (This, of course, is also known among the so-called logical fallacies as “appeal to authority”–an appeal. as substitute for argument, to someone or something the audience presumably likes, respects, trusts, or obeys). If William Lane Craig says the thesis of Aslan’s book (whatever it is) is tired and old hat, then the fundamentalist Christian viewers of Fox News need think no more.
In short, the interviewer’s whole performance provides nice examples of how fundamentalists of whatever stripe–Christian, Jewish, Hindu, or Muslim–shield themselves from serious dialogue, doubt, and inquiry, and why they’re so dangerous. As Voltaire put it, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
And to dampen the positive ad hominem spell that might be brought on in atheists by quoting the secular hero, Voltaire, I’ll add that just because Voltaire said it, it doesn’t make it true. Other things might make it true, but not that. We all need to be attentive to the uses of rhetoric and keep thinking.