There’s a great article by Hector Avalos over at debunkingchristianity which I heartily recommend. Dr. Avalos is a professor of Biblical Studies at Iowa State University and the targets of his post are six rhetorical devices commonly used by “religionist” biblical scholars when they attack the “secular” approach to the Bible taken by scholars like Avalos. The featured six are based on flawed logic, so their effectiveness is merely rhetorical. Yet apparently even in an academic field (and Biblical Studies is supposed to be an academic field) rhetoric often carries the day over logic and evidence.
Atheists will immediately recognize many of these rhetorical “themes”, as Avalos calls them. The six are as follows: the accusation of fundamentalism (secularists/atheists are “no different from religious fundamentalists insofar as they believe that they are correct, and all other positions are wrong”), omnifideism (” all worldviews and approaches are ultimately based on faith, and so deserve equal validity as scholarly methods”), the accusation of exclusivism (that excluding faith as a legitimate method of scholarship is “close-minded”), the angry atheist (ignore us, we’re just angry people), psychoanalysis (the real explanation for atheism can be found in the “biography” of each atheist), proprietary rights (the Bible is a religious book therefore “only people of faith can rightly understand [it], and atheists have no business studying it”). [Quotes are taken from “Six Anti-Secularist Themes: Deconstructing Religionist Rhetorical Weaponry” by Dr. Hector Avalos.]
Secular biblical scholars aren’t alone in being subjected to these rhetorical “weapons.” Most of them have been repeatedly employed against evolutionary scientists (starting with Darwin, of course), skeptics studying occult and “supernatural” claims, and of course atheists.
Read it for yourself. I strongly recommend it.