Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Loftus on ridicule---from 2006

143 comments:

cl said...

PRICELESS! Oh, how things have changed in a few years, eh?

LOL! LOL!! LOL!!!

Loftus, 2011:

I'm seriously considering banning you cl, as I've heard you were banned on other sites. You are much too ignorant for us to have a reasonable discussion. You need to learn from your side why your arguments are ignorant. You won't listen to us. [http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2008/05/how-do-you-know-that-which-you-claim-to.html#comment-147668945]

How old are you CL? I'd guess you have not yet experienced much life. I'd say you were under the age of 21, too young to be here. I don't give a damn what you think of me of my deconversion at all. You're too stupid to realize that regardless of it you must deal with the arguments in the book. They are leading people away from you faith. [http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2011/02/another-failed-attempt-to-disabuse-me.html#comment-145492472]

I've got others, but these two ought to suffice.

Question: why do so many people take this guy seriously? How does he get to speak at major universities? Do they allow just anyone? Shouldn't there be some kind of standards? This gives me serious concern for the intellectual climate my tax money funds in this country. What a powerful argument for home-schooling, Loftus makes.

Ana said...

That was a fun read! I wonder what kind of feedback I'd get if I copied and pasted it onto the comment section of one of his current threads. And if it was something condescending, I'd respond by saying, those were John Loftus' words, not mine!!

cl,

I haven't yet had John Loftus say something negative to me directly, though I have had it happen to me many times by others on that blog, that are of the same brand of comments as the two you cited above. Here are portions of a (essay long) comment Russ from DC directed towards me once. In retrospect, I actually found the clown parts he wrote to be somewhat amusing:

" When I read your comments here at DebunkingChristianity what comes to mind is a clown riding his tiny little car honking his horn - beep, beeep - to get attention...

Since your man, God, is wrong about the simple observable stuff, there exists no reason whatsoever to imagine it to exist at all, much less to be factually correct with its spooky tales of eternal torture, non-sacrificial human sacrifice, and all the rest. Honk, honk...

How much like a clown you are. You want us to admit this version of supernaturalism - no doubt at its veridical best coming straight from the horses ass (Oops! My bad ... make that mouth) - into our body of explanations when the damned thing is wrong, wrong, wrong! Toot, toot...You're an immoral clown, Ana_v, just for suggesting it. Aaooogaa, aaoooga...

Supernaturalistic explanation during that vulgar Christianity-oppressed time gave us bloodletting; torturing, hanging, burning, and the eviscerating of infants, children, men and women as witches; the chaining and caging of the sick: epileptics, diabetics, the mentally ill. Squawk, squawk...

Aaooogaa, aaoooga, beep, beep, honk, honk, bwaacka, bwaacka. You and your clown act of Christianity aren't cute or funny. You and your clown act of Christianity are sick, pathetic, immoral and inhumane. "

(emphasis mine)

from:

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2010/11/how-science-leads-to-naturalism-at.html#comment-100715129

cl said...

That was a fun read! I wonder what kind of feedback I'd get if I copied and pasted it onto the comment section of one of his current threads. And if it was something condescending, I'd respond by saying, those were John Loftus' words, not mine!!

Great idea, Ana.

I haven't yet had John Loftus say something negative to me directly, though I have had it happen to me many times by others on that blog...

Me too, several times. There is strong hatred and intolerance there. It's really depressing that it occurs under the auspices of "critical thinking."

As for Russ' comment to you, that's pretty sad, especially given the fact that Russ claims to be one who's taught at colleges for thirty years. Like I alluded to in my comment above, it really saddens me to think of people with such a bent educating our children. Though, Jesus said they'd hate us, too.

Victor, on the other hand, is to be commended. I've not seen him lose composure and resort to sandbox technique, ever.

Ana said...

What I think to myself is, I don't know if the general demeanor of atheists on the DC blog, represents their demeanor towards Christians and other theists off the internet-- people they engage with in person.
But if that is not how they conduct themselves, then why do it online? Why abuse the anonymity factor like that?

Victor Reppert said...

It's like the anonymity you get when you're behind the wheel.

Nick said...

Yes. I wonder what Loftus will think when he realizes that this was "recently noticed." Loftus just changes the rules constantly to suit him.

Anonymous said...

A point well made.

I thought the same thing when I saw his recent review of Randall Rauser's book about respect in dialogue and the importance of understanding each other, then next thing on here's he calling someone a moron.

cl said...

@ Anonymous,

I thought the same thing when I saw his recent review of Randall Rauser's book about respect in dialogue and the importance of understanding each other, then next thing on here's he calling someone a moron.

Or, "stupid," or, "ignorant," or, censoring them. Should you follow the link to the den of vipers, pay particular attention to my comment 2/15/2011 at 1:35 PM.

cl said...

So Vic, has Loftus written anything on censorship that you're aware of?

:)

cl said...

Sorry to clutter up this thread Vic, I really am, but I must thank Ana for sticking up for me over at the lion's den.

Thank you Ana. Please keep pressing for answers, you are doing an excellent job of staying on topic and calling them out. I really want to see John reply to the criticism. All the rest of the stuff--funny as it may be--is secondary. Careful though, the iron fist might come down on you next!

John W. Loftus said...

No one can be personally attacked almost daily for six years by people he thinks are delusional without some kind of change in perspective.

If all I ever had to deal with were intelligent and respectful believers then I probably would have never wavered from the ideal expressed in that post.

In some ways my gradual change has been because it has to do with my audience. When I wrote that in 2006 I was aiming at a respectful discussion with respectful believers. When discussing these issues with a believer whom I respect as an intelligent person I treat that person with respect without any ridicule at all.

I am the same person. What changes me is the people I deal with. I adjust my responses to the overall perceptions I have of the people who argue against me.

Just watch at the reactions to what I just wrote and you'll see why they gradually change my perceptions. It's probably impossible not to be influenced by the people you deal with on a daily basis.

So at the right moment Richard Carrier has influenced me too. See this.

You want a decent, respectful discussion from me? Then do this. Be respectful of me as a human being. Be educated and make educated arguments that learn from our past interchanges. Show that you are willing to learn from me. Don't personally attack me or take pot shots at me like this particular post did.

The more that Christians do this the more I'll revert back to the ideal. Randal Rauser does this with me. That's why I've agreed to co-write a respectful book with him.

John W. Loftus said...

cl, here is my comment policy. You violated it.

I have to have one because there are believers like yourself.

Tony Hoffman said...

Every instance of abuse that John Loftus has received over the years from Christians is more evidence that religion doesn't even offer the side benefit of improving peoples' characters. You guys might want to think about that one.

JS Allen said...

Tony, while your conclusion might be valid, that's not a valid inference.

Anthony Fleming said...

Some of this has seemed like a blog soap opera. I think as Christians we should stick to dealing with and attacking ideas and not people. We are told to love our enemies (though I don't see Loftus as an enemy) and bless them when they persecute us. There are some who try so hard to prove the existence of God and no longr care for God himself. C.S. Lewis wrote something like that in The Great Divorce,

Loftus, i do hope good things for you. I've been praying especially for your marriage lately. I know it's delusional from your view but know they are good intentionas.

John W. Loftus said...

Thanks Anthony. Your prayers are working. My marriage is wonderful and has been from the very beginning. Have you been praying for me all these years?

Tony Hoffman said...

JS Allen, so Christians shouldn't expect fellow Christians to behave any better than non-Christians in a debate? And if you do not, do you think that most Christians would agree with you?

Nick said...

Hey Vic. Loftus has already put up a reply:

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2011/02/i-still-want-respectful-educated.html#disqus_thread

Yep. Your pointing out what he said in 2006 is a pot shot indeed.

Anthony Fleming said...

No. I first heard about you when I watched your debate with Dinesh. Since then, I take time and pray for various things. I am very glad to know that your marriage is going great. Also, in case you were wondering, I do know as a husband we are most responsible for our marriages. ;)

As someone who take a lot of time arguing myself, I am consistently interested when (and if) someone responds to me. This has, in the past, caused some wear on relationship until I knew how to handle it. That is the reason I have also prayed for your marriage because I know you spend a lot of time debating.

JS Allen said...

Hi Tony,

You observed that some Christians behave uncivilly toward Loftus (which is true), and concluded that religion doesn't cause people to be more civil.

The conclusion doesn't follow from the observation. From your observation, the conclusion is completely unknown. It could support the conclusion that religion does make people more civil, or that it makes people less civil.

For starters, how do you know that the people in your subset ("Christians who are rude to Loftus") are any less civil than they would be if they were on the other side of the fence? You would need to compare people's behavior before and after conversion/deconversion to make a claim about how religion impacts their behavior.

Likewise, how do you know, on aggregate, that people who get religion don't become more civil? You would need to have some sample that was representative of the general population. Obviously, an anecdotal sample of "Christians who are nasty toward Loftus" is excluding an unknown number of Christians who are not.

Note, I'm not saying that religion makes people more civil. I'm pretty sure that religion self-selects for nasty people. But your logic was wrong, and atheism is supposed to make people clear-minded.

cl said...

Sorry Vic, I agree there's definitely a "soap opera" element to all of this, but, what I'm about to say is related to the OP, and, I want everybody to have a full view of the evidence, since Loftus doesn't do too well in that regard. From Loftus' comment policy:

This blog is open to comments by anyone interested, provided: (1) the comments are civil in tone, (2) they speak directly to the issues discussed, (3) they are not spam-like sermons, or book length comments; (4) they don’t monopolize the discussion or repeatedly offer ignorant off topic comments; and (5) they come from Blogger profiles that are make public.

Loftus claims I violated his comment policy, yet, he supplies no positive evidence to support his claim. Isn't it inconsistent to demand that we should all ask for positive evidence for that which we accept as true on the one hand, then turn around and litter the internet with unsupported claims on the other? More to the point, doesn't Loftus' comment policy apply to himself and his atheist comrades? I ask on account of the following, all of which seem in clear violation of (1) and (2)...

From Loftus:

How old are you CL? I’d guess you have not yet experienced much life. I’d say you were under the age of 21, too young to be here. I don’t give a damn what you think of me of my deconversion at all. You’re too stupid to realize that regardless of it you must deal with the arguments in the book. They are leading people away from you faith.

From Loftus:

cl, before even reading what you wrote please tell me of your credentials. Prediction: whenever you ask a non-credentialed hack this question he’ll respond that credentials don’t matter.

From Loftus:

I’m seriously considering banning you cl, as I’ve heard you were banned on other sites. You are much too ignorant for us to have a reasonable discussion. You need to learn from your side why your arguments are ignorant. You won’t listen to us.

From articulett:

Learn to have fun eviscerating the religiotard blowhard. ... I’m glad that suckers like cl believe in them. I aim to support those who are trying to break free. To me, cl is like the Scientologist I linked who was posting at an ex- Scientolgoist site–trying to sucker others back into the fold. These people always seem so slimy to me...

From cipher:

Just who in the bloody hell do you think you are, you Christian piece of garbage, to come here barking out orders? You’re an arrogant, condescending piece of shit. You seem to think you’re an intellectual of sorts, when all you are is a Christian who’s read a few books. John, everyone, this really is the limit. BR, I’m more than a little annoyed that you continue to engage him. I’m out of here. I have better things to do than to waste my time with these cretins.

From Gandolf:

Types like ci [sic] will not likely disappear anytime soon.I understand you getting sick to death of their endless bullshit. But if we don’t tackle dealing with them, they`ll be out there busily crowing that its all because we cant deal with them. Theists like ci [sic] purposely hope to split the ranks. Divide and rule was their motto, just how they did within religion with use of shunning and seperation [sic]. F**k em.

To the impartial reader, I ask: were those comments civil in tone or related directly to the issue?

Did Loftus ban himself? No.

Did Loftus ban articulett? No.

Did Loftus ban Gandolf? No.

Did Loftus ban Cipher? No, in fact, Loftus replied with an apparent nod of approval and a wink. John W. Loftus holds believers to different standards than he holds himself and his atheist comrades to. This is pure, unadulterated, party-lines special pleading, and another in a long list of reasons why we should be skeptical of John W. Loftus.

cl said...

Lastly, and most importantly, the links that would substantiate each of my claims can be found here.

John W. Loftus said...

I have heard that cl has been banned elsewhere. He is ignorant and disrespectful of us so he gets what he deserves. Now he has his badge of honor and can continue to smear me for banning him as if this means we cannot handle his arguments--that's what he really thinks. LOL

Case in point is the reason why I banned him was not shared. You can read why here, and then scroll up to see what he said.

Sheesh, such idiocy. No wonder I have gravitated to the dark side. Believers like him come and go on almost a weekly basis.

At some point you just get tired of this shit.

Ana said...

"If all I ever had to deal with were intelligent and respectful believers then I probably would have never wavered from the ideal expressed in that post."

But John, from your point of view, what would qualify as an "intelligent and respectful believer"? (emphasis mine) And I ask from your point of view specifically, rather than from DC's point of view, because from the looks of it, in general the discussioners at DC think "intelligent believer" is an oxy-moron. They don't believe in such a concept, and the result of that is that the default conduct is to behave condescendingly towards a believer who comments on your blog.

John W. Loftus said...

Ana, I am only responsible for what I write, not what others write, or can I hold Vic to this same standard and ask him why his blog has degenerated too, and it has over the years. I have grown tired of being the hall monitor even on my own blog. If I did that consistently I would be deleting and banning so many people that the word would get out that I ban everyone. I hate this dilemma. So I can only do what I can do. And I can only ban those who are the worst offenders.

There are intelligent Christians, many of them, and there are respectful Christians too. If one isn't intelligent then at least they can be respectful.

I have even allowed several Christian scholars to post blogs at DC unedited by me.

Dustin said...

John, I stumbled across your site a few years ago, before I had any idea who you were, at a time when I was seriously considering giving up my religious belief, and started looking around on it. I remember the slightly scandalized question from my friend when he saw my computer screen: "Why are you looking at a site called *debunking* Christianity?" I was perfectly willing to learn from you. The fact is, you just didn't have anything to teach me.

It's a well known phenomena that gaining more proficiency in a field generally, to a point, causes your perception of your proficiency in a field to go *down*--a bad poet, for instance, probably thinks much better of his poetry than he would if he were a moderately talented poet, because he doesn't even yet understand the things that make good poetry good, and so doesn't appreciate the things that separate good poetry from his. And--I speak bluntly, given the context--it seems the same thing is true with you. Your arguments are really, really bad, but, despite your "PhD equivalent," you lack the competence to see why they're so bad, and so you fancy them as overwhelming powerful. And anyone who doesn't accept them must be stupid or brainwashed or lying.

Anthony Fleming said...

Mr. Loftus, I don't know if you read it or not a few posts back, but I did respond to your question of whether I have been praying for your marriage all these years.

cl said...

@ Loftus:

Case in point is the reason why I banned him was not shared.

Well, why didn't you share it? You see, you send so many conflicting messages that I'm not going to make assumptions. Here, you simply imply that I "violated" your comment policy, yet, I did my best to remain civil, despite all the CLEARLY UNCIVIL remarks from yourself and your atheist comrades. This is hypocrisy and special pleading.

And, guess what? This whole thing started not because of my remark about IP's, but, in response to my attempt to hold you accountable for the inconsistency of your claims. That caused you to "seriously consider" banning me BEFORE I made the remark about IP's. Any rational reader can click your link and see this is fact.

On that note, you lament the fact that I "disrespect your wishes." Besides the fact that, truth be told, I probably WON'T return to your website, ever, I ask: did you respect my wishes to not be insulted and denigrated in the above remarks?

No, you did not.

Did you ban or even chastise any of your atheist comrades for their profane intolerance and uncivility?

No, you did not.

Hence, more special pleading, more excuses, more distraction from the real issue at hand which is the inconsistency of your "positive evidence" demands and your own claims about the Exodus. Those are the issues, John. Atheists, plural, are agreeing with me that you are arguing from the gaps. That doesn't mean I'm correct by default, but, is it not warrant to at least attempt to justify your claims? Will you, lest this whole thing devolve into a more soap-opera-esque endeavor?

cl said...

@ Dustin,

Your arguments are really, really bad, but, despite your "PhD equivalent," you lack the competence to see why they're so bad, and so you fancy them as overwhelming powerful. And anyone who doesn't accept them must be stupid or brainwashed or lying. [to Loftus]

I agree. Ever heard of the Peter Principle? It's a maxim stating that people tend to rise to their level of incompetency, and from their rise no further. There's a book of the same name, which I found an interesting read.

Mr Veale said...

John and cl

I notice that it's getting a little heated around here. I hope that we can get a bit more light into the discussion in a moment.

I can't find "cl" behaving like Holding and co. anywhere. However, sometimes personalities clash for inexplicable reasons. It was John's blog (his "house" if you like), and he can remove whoever he likes.

I've left blogs because I didn't "hit it off" with a particular atheist, even though I've dealt with much more abusive individuals elsewhere.

So maybe the best way to leave things is like this. (1) We should not assume that cl did anything wrong (2) We should not assume that John owes us an explanation for how he runs his own blog.

Graham

Mr Veale said...

Least said, soonest mended?

Mr Veale said...

Okay... on the temperament of atheist blogs.

I noticed this post by the excellent Bradley Wright

http://brewright.blogspot.com/2009/10/asymmetry-of-christian-and-atheist.html

It's based on a comparison of 4-6 of the best known Christian sites with the best known atheist sites as a way of lessening the selectivity.

Now I also noticed that John's post was written prior to the publication of "The God Delusion". It is very difficult to see PZ Myers or Jerry Coyne or Bill Maher writing anything like John's 2006 post. And they have all piggy backed on the shoulders of Dawkin's seminal book.

So I have to ask...has there been a general coarsening of the dialogue between Christians and Atheists since the advent of the New Atheism? I'm not sure that John can just shrug his shoulders and blame it all on the Christians (after all Vic has received the same (or worse) abuse, and has not responded in kind).

Graham

cl said...

@ Mr. Veale,

We should not assume that John owes us an explanation for how he runs his own blog.

Technically true, perhaps, despite that fact that he's already given his explanation. However, I submit that John most certainly does owe us an explanation for why he holds himself and atheist comrades to different standards, both in argumentation, and in running his blog.

This is about logic and consistency in my opinion. Why does he claim I violated his comment policy--without evidence--then ignore the incontrovertible evidence proving that he and his atheist comrades violate the policy?

Is that "rational" or "logical" in your book? It's special pleading in mine.

Mr Veale said...

In other words, there is a deliberate rhetorical strategy absorbed by atheists from "The God Delusion" and "God is Not Great". And, quite naturally, "Debunking Christianity" has moved with the spirit of the times.

Graham

cl said...

@ Mr. Veale,

I'm not sure that John can just shrug his shoulders and blame it all on the Christians (after all Vic has received the same (or worse) abuse, and has not responded in kind).

How could he? Look at the list of comments from he and his commenters I provided. Mind you, that's a partial list. I say he needs to be held accountable, but... I'm beginning to get the feeling I'm wasting my energy.

And, quite naturally, "Debunking Christianity" has moved with the spirit of the times.

Hence, my persistence in claiming that John W. Loftus needs to evaluate his own arguments and his own strategies with the same degree of skepticism he evaluates Christian arguments and strategies. IOW, he needs to stop using the OTF as a rhetorical device, and actually use it for it's stated intent.

Mr Veale said...

cl

As I've said, my assumption is that you did nothing wrong. And I don't think that John needs to be logical or consistent to have the right to throw you off his blog.
But I think I'd rather focus on atheistic rhetoric since "The God Delusion".

Graham

Mr Veale said...

cl

I should add that John can use DC for whatever purpose he likes (within the law). He seems to rely on rhetoric rather than argument on his blog, which deters me from posting there. (I do mean rhetoric - not sophistry). That's his right. Rhetoric is powerful and important. Preachers use it. And it appears in Scripture - Isaiah uses it against idolatry, for example.

But, apart from the occasional exchange of jokes, it's not how I choose to approach this debate.

Graham

cl said...

@ Mr. Veale,

As I've said, my assumption is that you did nothing wrong.

I know, I saw that, and I thank you for it.

...I don't think that John needs to be logical or consistent to have the right to throw you off his blog.

I wholeheartedly agree. He can practice censorship for whatever reason he wishes, or, no reason at all. My question to you was meant to be strictly in the context of rational rigor, having nothing to do with John's motive for resorting to censorship. I'm simply asking you--and anyone else here--whether or not they see a blatant discrepancy between John's claim that I "violated" his comment policy, and the half-dozen comments I provided from himself and his commenters. Don't you think those comments clearly DO violate the policy?

Tony Hoffman said...

JS Allen: “You observed that some Christians behave uncivilly toward Loftus (which is true), and concluded that religion doesn't cause people to be more civil.”

JS Allen, yes, I wrote carelessly, although I think that my point was fairly easy to pick up. But I agree with pretty much everything you wrote.

One nitpick: “But your logic was wrong, and atheism is supposed to make people clear-minded.” I’d say that atheism is a result of clear thinking, not the other way around.

cl said...

@ Tony Hoffman:

I’d say that atheism is a result of clear thinking, not the other way around.

This, too, is a misstep in logic. Sure, atheism can be the result of clear thinking, but, so can theism or agnosticism. You imply that clear thinking entails atheism, on aggregate, but, that's as incorrect as the claims JS Allen initially challenged.

Jason Pratt said...

John: {{You want a decent, respectful discussion from me? Then do this. Be respectful of me as a human being. Be educated and make educated arguments that learn from our past interchanges. Show that you are willing to learn from me. Don't personally attack me or take pot shots at me like this particular post did.}}

But for goodness sake, don't base any of your arguments (for your own beliefs or against his arguments) on the premise that John himself is a responsible thinker whose existence and qualitative honor as a rational person ought to be respected and defended.

(And certainly don't begin by affirming that John is not "Socratic cole slaw". Because then hilarity will ensue.)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

John: {{No one can be personally attacked almost daily for six years by people he thinks are delusional without some kind of change in perspective.}}

Well your perspective on totally disrespecting your opponents, by considering them delusional, hasn't changed since 2006.

"Delusional" is a much stronger term than, for example, "mistaken". And you can protest all you want (such as in the comments here that it can mean something more like being merely mistaken. But if you only meant mistaken it would be no problem to only use mistaken.

And those of us who have memories know what "delusional" actually means to you, John. It doesn't mean merely mistaken. It means (and I quote) "brainwashed". As you exemplified in the comments recently here on Victor's journal, insisting on using that to describe someone whose only trait of being "brainwashed" was calling a weakly presented argument from you ridiculous (while exhibiting many characteristics counting against his being brainwashed.)

When you start from a standpoint of total disrespect of your opponents, then obvious results will follow.

JRP

Nick said...

Note that in his debate with D'Souza, Loftus kept saying brainwashed people don't know they're brainwashed.

Brainwashing is a quite strong term. To simply be strongly convinced is not the same as brainwashing. It's a deliberate action done by deliberate people for a deliberate purpose.

I can see why it was totally unconvincing to an audience and it boils down to Loftus saying "Agree I'm right because I say so."

Jason Pratt said...

Yep; the same exact phrase he used for trying to browbeat the person in the recent thread I linked to, too.

Now, having said that, I'm going to vent a moment in the other direction: Christians (and other theists), in other words people on my own side of the aisle, have a strong tendency to claim that people who don't believe what they (we) do are "deluded". Same word, basically the same strong negative meaning--and basically the same fundamental disrespect for their opponents as rational human beings.

That doesn't excuse J'oftus from doing it, too; although in several ways, including ways that might not be very flattering to him, it may help explain why he does it. John may have subconsciously learned that this was proper procedure back when he was a Christian (and studying formally from Christians); and I suspect in any case he thinks so thanks to Christians who have done the exact same thing first. The abused child will always have a strong temptation, whether habit or instinct or some combination, to turn around and do the same thing in return once they think they're clear to do so. (A point not unrelated to how Christians had a tendency to behave from the 4th century onward once they ascended to institutional power.)

But sauce for his goose is sauce for our gander when our side does it. I'm on record elsewhere standing against that kind of thing when Christians do it, including on Victor's site, and including in explicit defense of John Loftus.

JRP

Mr Veale said...

Guys, we're making John the issue, and I don't think that's helpful. Type a comment on Common Sense Atheism, or the Dawkins Forum. You'll be subjected to foul mouthed abuse very, very quickly.

Now I think that Dawkins should be held responsible for this type of rhetoric, and this style of argument. (And John is, in my experience, well mannered and polite in comparison.)

So the question I'm posing is - did the publication of The God Delusion have a noticeable effect on these online debates?

graham

Victor Reppert said...

What in blazes makes you think this is a potshot? I was simply pointing out that you have moved away from the kind of commitment to civilized discourse that you affirmed in 2006. I had hoped this appeal might bring you to reconsider your previous commitment.

You can't use terms like "brainwashed," "delusional," etc. and expect people to continue to believe that they are engaging someone committed to civilized discourse. You can't say that you are out to overwhelm your opponents, that you will do whatever it takes to engage in persuasion, and expect people to be respectful. On a few occasions I have deleted comments about you from this blog because I thought they were unacceptably ad hominem and concerned matters not germane to the subject at hand. You implicitly approve of the vitriol that is spewed out by your "peeps" on DC, but ban Christians because they are "too ignorant" and "won't listen."

If you go beyond arguing that Christianity is false to arguing that it is delusional, and in particular to saying that it is delusional in place of real argumentation, then people on our side are not going to react to you the way they do to a Flew or a Mackie. Basically, what happens is that your operation devolves into a propaganda machine.

The irony is that the OTF beings by appealing to a sense of intellectual fairness, the avoidance of double standards, etc.

Nick said...

Vic. It's a potshot because it goes after him. You need to remember that first and foremost in his world, it's about him. Consider it also some well poisoning for his followers.

cl said...

@ Mr. Veale,

Type a comment on Common Sense Atheism, or the Dawkins Forum. You'll be subjected to foul mouthed abuse very, very quickly.

As far as CSA goes, this is not true in my experience, despite the fact that I've been labeled a "racist" and "troll" over there, the latter by Luke himself. Sure, CSA has it's share of pottymouth, temper-tantrum style atheists, but John's blog much, much more so in my experience. Further, John hasn't ten percent of the integrity, patience and humility Luke has--and that's not to offend John, either. I don't post on the Dawkins forum, so I can't comment about that.

So the question I'm posing is - did the publication of The God Delusion have a noticeable effect on these online debates?

I would say yes, although, tracing the exact influence might be difficult. But, in general, I'd say yes. There were atheist jerks before Dawkins, but now, it's getting out of control. Part of the reason, IMHO, is the infantile brand of atheism the New Atheists have spurred. Contrasted to say, Bertrand Russell, the New Atheists have motivated the younger generation to be rude and irreverent.

My two cents.

@ Vic,

You implicitly approve of the vitriol that is spewed out by your "peeps" on DC, but ban Christians because they are "too ignorant" and "won't listen." [to Loftus]

Since that seems to be alluding to me among possible others, I maintain that anyone can look at the threads in question and find that I listened quite well. In my counterarguments, I cite John verbatim, inlcuding links. Contrary to being ignore-ant, I haven't ignored anything John's said all year. In fact, I've been keeping close watch, specifically so I can know what I'm talking about when I call him out. Lo and behold, many atheists are agreeing with me. Sure, a few aren't, but look and I think you'll see a consensus of disagreement regarding John's resorting to censorship.

For anyone interested, I've kept an index of all my comments at DC [excepting the latest fiasco, which is already linked to in this thread]. A willfully ignorant, uncivil and duplicitous person would not do that.

Anonymous said...

Who does Loftus think he is kidding?

He has been personally attacking people from the beginning of his blog.

I actually feel sorry for the guy, I think is is seriously disturbed, and that his Bankruptcy pushed farther over the edge.

The man needs help, but probably can't afford to get it.

Nick said...

Whoever the anonymous poster is, I agree with him. Every time Loftus degenerates more and more, I see more and more a hardening of the heart. There is factual doubt and emotional doubt, but Loftus has the worst kind of all, volitional doubt. I think he has to do the worse he can every time to further eliminate any fear he has. He wants to face a fear each time that Christianity really is true and the way to defy that fear is to act on it.

True psychology, but psychology does not change reality.

Blue Devil Knight said...

This takes the cake, it just takes the cake. I pray I don't need to even comment on the irony:
You want a decent, respectful discussion from me? Then do this. Be respectful of me as a human being. Be educated and make educated arguments that learn from our past interchanges. Show that you are willing to learn from me.

Love it. Was tired, this made me laugh thanks John for the irony bolus.

Then:
Don't personally attack me or take pot shots at me like this particular post did.

So, linking to his writings, without any commentary whatsoever, is taking a pot shot. That is awesome.

cl settle down for goodness' sake. ;p

JS Allen said...

@Tony Hoffman:

"I wrote carelessly, although I think that my point was fairly easy to pick up. But I agree with pretty much everything you wrote."

Agreed. And I only pushed back because I know you normally don't write so carelessly.

"One nitpick ... I’d say that atheism is a result of clear thinking, not the other way around."

As a former atheist, I would've argued that's it's a symbiotic thing -- disbelief in faeries makes one more rational in other areas. But point taken.

cl said...

@ BDK:

cl settle down for goodness' sake. ;p

I'm settled. :)

@ anonymous:

At the risk of whatever, while I certainly agree with most everything you've said about Loftus, I think you crossed a line in your last remark. As much as I think John did me wrong, hell, as much as I think John's done multitudes wrong, I still have to stick up for him in the sense that the comments about him "needing help" and the "bankruptcy" are just too personal. We all need help and that's part of the reason I'm a Christian. If he really is that unstable, comments like those are likely to hurt, not help. It's one thing to mock his illogic or point out the inconsistencies in his claims, but another entirely to dig so deeply personal.

If I've offended or otherwise isolated myself from you, well... that's a risk I took. Like I said, I think you're right on the money in just about everything else you say. Despite the fact that he's been blatantly insulting myself and others aside, and despite the fact that I believe censorship is antithetical to the pursuit of truth, at the end of the day, this is still another human being we're dealing with.

With that, I leave my last remark about John W. Loftus in this thread.

Anonymous said...

Loftus has a place in my heart too. He just wants to get it out of his system. I think there is a good chance he will return to the faith after he's done the circuit.

Jason Pratt said...

cl: {{It's one thing to mock his illogic or point out the inconsistencies in his claims, but another entirely to dig so deeply personal.}}

Agreed.

May I add, by the way, that I wish BDK was running DebunX? Now he's an awesome opponent! Dueling against him is always a good and honorable workout. {bowing in his direction!}

JRP

John W. Loftus said...

Vic, there have been Christians who come to DC with the express purpose of being banned who can then wear it like a badge and use it to smear me, perhaps cl for all I know who has been banned on other sites. I know this. You have not experienced the brunt of crazed lunatics who believe I am personally assaulting their best friend, Jesus. Once you experience this you might understand.

My thinking has evolved as what happens to everyone. There are scholars you know who have changed their minds, like Rorty, and Putnam. So what? I describe my evolution right here.

And it's hard for me not to think you're taking pot shots at me, but I'll tell you what Vic, make a better effort to assure me you are not doing so and I'll make a better effort to stop responding as I do from time to time. One of the problems we both have is the people on our blogs. When I go here "your" people ridicule me. When you come to DC "my" people ridicule you. When you write something about me or my arguments you know "your" people will chime in with ridicule. It's hard for me not to think you do this knowing they will. It would be much different if we sat down over a beer. I would like that someday. It would make for a better discussion between us.

John W. Loftus said...

Vic said: You can't say that you are out to overwhelm your opponents, that you will do whatever it takes to engage in persuasion, and expect people to be respectful.

I see you're referring to this post of mine, which I edited today in response.

Anthony Fleming said...

Somehow this definitely turned into a blog soap opera.

Anthony Fleming said...

On a side note. Mr. Loftus, what are your requirements to come for a public debate?

John W. Loftus said...

Anthony, I did read your response regarding praying for my marriage. Thanks.

Go to my blog and find my email address and we'll talk about that proposed debate.

John W. Loftus said...

Or, just click on my name here.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Thanks Jason that's very kind, but Loftus is much more qualified. He knows a lot more than I do about Christianity, philosophy of christianity, everything about Christianity. (I am not being sarcastic here: them's the facts). This is why I am so bugged by his style here: he could do so much better, he actually knows more than you would think based on his posts here.


Also on his behalf, there obviously are some crazy jerk nut Christians that attack him obsessively. I can't imagine the toll that would take, but it is unfortunately that he lumps Victor in there, because that's simply unjustified. Not all Christians are like that, obviously. That's why I still come here because they are fairly rare here (e.g., Ilion).

Anthony Fleming said...

John I sent you a very disorganized email with my thoughts on a debate and some questions.

Bob Prokop said...

John,

I just clicked on your name as you suggested, and frankly, am appalled at your taste in movies and music. Forget such trifles as theism vs atheism! Really, "Happy Gilmore"? Dust in the Wind? Really???

cl said...

@ John,

In lieu of further public conversation, I would like to send you a brief email--not in hopes of ongoing exchange, either. Of course, it'd be nice if you did respond, but, that's not what I'm after.

The problem is, for whatever reason, I can't get the link on your blogger email to divulge your address. I don't have the credentials for this computer, such that I can set up the POP mail account. I imagine that you don't want to share your email publicly in this thread, but, how do you suggest we proceed? If I supply my email, would you email me, so that I can respond? If so, I'm willing to take that risk, even though I generally don't like posting my email in public, either.

If not, no hard feelings, and cheers anyway.

cl said...

@ John:

In fact, wait a minute: don't you have my email already, because I was commenting on your blog? If so, by all means, please drop me a line.

John W. Loftus said...

cl, are you the same person who wrote this to me:

"...even if you do take the fascist's way out and ban me, IP's come a dime a dozen these days. Surely you don't want the burden of moderating all comments just to be sure little ol' me doesn't get to speak, right? I assure you I'll be back. I promise you that I'll be on you like stink on dung, buddy boy, whether on my own blog or here. Think about it."

This comment was the reason I banned you. No one threatens me like that in my own house. No one. It shows an utter disrespect for me as a human being.

And now you want to talk?

Nope. Not a chance.

Anonymous said...

That doesn't sound like cl, but if it was then I think the ban was appropos. But you can never confirm the e-mail - it could be anyone trying to cause trouble.

BenYachov said...

>Thanks Jason that's very kind, but Loftus is much more qualified. He knows a lot more than I do about Christianity,

Actually by his own admission he only knows about evangelical and fundamentalist versions of modern Christianity.

That is kind of limited IMHO.

Cheers!

Tony Hoffman said...

"That doesn't sound like cl, but if it was then I think the ban was appropos. But you can never confirm the e-mail - it could be anyone trying to cause trouble."

That's easy to figure out when both parties are present. Just ask CL -- he should be able to confirm or deny that.

John W. Loftus said...

No, it's easy to figure out. Just have Cl post a comment on DC. If he can't do it then it was him. ;-)

cl said...

One last time...

@ LOFTUS:

cl, are you the same person who wrote this to me:

Why yes, I am, and you are silly if you think a little cajoling constitutes threatening you in your own house.

It shows an utter disrespect for me as a human being.

No it doesn't; it shows disrespect of your own censorship threat. Speaking of disrespect, are you the same person who FIRST said:

How old are you CL? I’d guess you have not yet experienced much life. I’d say you were under the age of 21, too young to be here. I don’t give a damn what you think of me of my deconversion at all. You’re too stupid to realize that regardless of it you must deal with the arguments in the book.

...and:

cl, before even reading what you wrote please tell me of your credentials. Prediction: whenever you ask a non-credentialed hack this question he’ll respond that credentials don’t matter.

...and:

What a moron! Cl is responding with the very thing that is being questioned!

You need to swallow your pride, Loftus. This is PURE hypocrisy, and other atheists are calling you on it. You made all those insults BEFORE I broke out my cattle prod and cajoled you.

So, with that, I shake the dust. I offered my olive branch. If you wish to persist in hard-heartedness like the superficial "Christians" who wouldn't forgive you, I fully understand. I will limit my criticism of you to my own blog.

Take care of yourself; I wish the best for you and your family.

cl said...

@ ANONYMOUS:

That doesn't sound like cl, but if it was then I think the ban was appropos.

No, it was me, and, I disagree with you. I think threats of censorship are fascist and UNappropos. While I would never disrespect somebody in their own house, I'll mock anybody who has the gall to weasel out of tough questions by resorting to authoritarian control of open forums, especially AFTER he and his atheist comrades just got done with a litany of personal insults and attacks on my character. John and his atheist buddies clearly violate DC's comment policy on the regular, but, he doesn't say much about that, does he? Like most everyone else has noticed, a different set of rules for John and his atheist congregation.

@ VICTOR:

Thanks for the link. "See" you around.

Mr Veale said...

We won't settle any important debate by deciding on who is and who isn't a jerk. I've tried pointing this out, and pointing to more substantial issues. But, what the hey. If you can't beat 'em...

Mr Veale said...

Nyah, yah boo, prrrft!

Mr Veale said...

I'm the best debater, I said first, multiplied by infinity, no takey-backsies.

Mr Veale said...

And now, I jinx you all! You can't talk till somebody says your name.

Blue Devil Knight said...

cl: being banned from someone's personal blog is not censorship.

I'm surprised Loftus is still playing the 'uncredentialed hack' card. That's backfired enough you'd think he would learn.

What degree does the argument from evil hold? The ontological argument? Should we even discuss them before we know what degrees they have?

Arguments rise or fall on their merits, not based on the number of letters after the name of the person uttering them. It's a pathetic appeal to authority, the refuge of someone that can't rely on their own wits.

Nick said...

Not only that but Loftus says the sciences are our only hope and we must rely on them when he also says the sciences are his weakest area and he has no credentials in them.

Mr Veale said...

And he wears a silly hat.

Anonymous said...

being banned from someone's personal blog is not censorship.

Sure it is. When you say "you no longer are able to communicate here, and I'll make sure you don't" you're censoring. But censorship in certain contexts can be completely justifiable, which I don't think anyone here is denying.

John's totally within his rights to ban cl. I think even cl cops to this. But there's something very interesting about how it went down, and I'm glad cl called attention to it.

John W. Loftus said...

I'm tired of having to deal with the likes of cl. When I do it's like wallowing in the mire with a pig. But now that he's gone there will come another fucking idiot on his heels at DC, probably in a week.

I can't win.

Just when I'm wondering if I should give it up and do something else you pour gas on the flames of my passion.

Good luck with that. How's it working for you?

Thanks for motivating me even more.

I'm unsubscribing.

Anonymous said...

We know from science that when a person like John is faced with evidence that he is wrong about something, the evidence not only will typically fail to persuade him - it can make him dig into his position even deeper.

Science at work here, folks, getcher cameras out!

Nick said...

And once again, Loftus blames everyone else for what he does, but yet on his blog, he keeps saying that it's just who he is.

It's just never his fault.

BenYachov said...

>I'm unsubscribing.

Again?

Blue Devil Knight said...

This thread is sort of ironic too...like most Loftus threads, it degenerates into people ridiculing him...I am susceptible to this guilty pleasure myself. Being a condescending know-it-all is an invitation for ridicule in the blogosphere, and I have difficulty refusing such invitations (whether in skeptic, Christian, or what-have-you).

Blue Devil Knight said...

I was banned at Loftus' site. When I was just disagreeing with people there I was not banned. Once it became personal I was banned (I basically called him the crazy cat lady of atheism for his behavior at this blog: such as an obsessive focus on credentials and other ways of seeming completely incompetent when it comes to rational argument and discussion).

Overall, not that unreasonable. My blog I moderate comments because I don't want to deal with the crazies. On the crazy cat lady scale, he is lowest in his non internet writings, worst at Christian sites where he comes in dressed in full Simpsons crazy cat lady regalia.

What bugs me the most is the evangelical fundamnetalist streak he still has. For instance, repeating the same arguments over and over despite the fact that they have been refuted (e.g., his "reductio" argument against dualism that if dualism were true, we wouldn't need brains, truly one of the worst arguments for any position I have ever seen).

I'm unsubscribing.

Nick said...

Ben. Get used to it. Loftus used to regularly say he was leaving TheologyWeb for good to which we'd say "See you in two weeks!" and then start making predictions on when he'd come back.

Nick said...

Well Loftus is over at his blog now saying he gets attacked.

Yeah. Put forward a contrary opinion, claim your opponents are delusional and/or brainwashed, and then you complain. You get what you give out.

Fun thing to do however. Go through Loftus's blog and see how many posts are about him.

I can only think of one post really about me at my blog and I write nearly every night.

JS Allen said...

@BDK - The "bunker mentality" and persecution complex are fundamentalist traits, too. How often have you seen a fundie react to criticism with, "See, they're attacking me BECAUSE I'M RIGHT!".

Fundamentalism seems to ruin people, leaving them crippled and unable to ever truly be an "outsider". James McGrath recently blogged about this:

"This is why I dislike fundamentalism so much: it ruins the person both while they profess fundamentalist ideology and when they leave it."

Mr Veale said...

JS

I'm not sure about that. I suppose that my background could be described as Fundamentalist. I've never considered that to be a disadvantage

Of course, a lot depends on what McGrath means by "fundamentalist". It means different things to different theologians, different historians and different social scientists.

If you use "fundamentalist" as a synonym for "theologically conservative and abusive", fair enough. That will damage people. But then the term doesn't really tell us much.

Graham

JS Allen said...

Mr. Veale,

In the U.S., "fundamentalist" no longer means what it meant to J Gresham Machen, nor what it probably means in Ulster. In the U.S., fundamentalist is identified with the SBC types, and the term is often used as short-hand for all of the negative associations of the sect.

BenYachov said...

>What bugs me the most is the evangelical fundamnetalist streak he still has.

Notice that too eh? I won't name names but some Catholic Apologists have that too(not that I want to sound like I'm convert bashing).

Also is it me or is Loftus' constant use of the catch phrase "You are deluded!" sort of his new way of saying "What do you know? You are un-saved!"

Bob Prokop said...

Ben,

Have what, too? I admit to being dense at times, but I honestly don't understand your comment. Kindly identify the antecedent to your pronoun "that".

BenYachov said...

Bob Prokop

I was addressing BDK 6:58 AM.

Mr Veale said...

Well, I have noticed that "ex-apologist" and "ex-Christian" types tend to refute a crude form of inerrancy, or a naive religious epistemology, and then assume that they have refuted Christianity.

In fact, they rarely engage with mainstream evangelical scholarship, nevermind mainstream Christian scholarship. When they do engage, it is to caricature, or to reinterpret the mainstream scholar's claims in terms that a fundamentalist would find acceptable.

So we get crude caricatures of Swinburne and Plantinga, or Meier and Dunn, with no real effort to understand their scholarship.

Graham

Mr Veale said...

They also seem to do a lot of their research online, or by reading each others books. For example, Luke Prog and John rely on Carrier; and quite frankly, that doesn't suggest a firm grasp of the relevant scholarship.

Graham

JS Allen said...

Graham, I agree, and that raises another interesting point: Loftus and Luke both cite Carrier's claim that ridicule can be an effective persuasion tactic.

I've read and own quite a few books on the topic, and try to keep up with the research. I don't see a lot of support for ridicule as a persuasion tactic, and in fact have seen recent research suggesting that ridicule backfires in most cases, causing one's opponent to take one's arguments less seriously.

So it's telling that both guys rest their claim on the authority of a historian and a personal anecdote or two. I thought science was supposed to be the authority over everything? I also find it telling that neither of them seem to spend much time using the more effective non-ridicule persuasion techniques that actually have firm scientific support.

So I conclude that their claim of "We use ridicule, because it has been shown to be effective" is not accurate. I suspect that the ridicule actually serves two other purposes. First, if you can't move your opponent, ridiculing them can serve to dehumanize them in your own mind, and allow you to explain away your failure to move them -- "Nothing I can do, he's DELUDED!" Second, it can serve to stifle free thought in people on your own side who might be tempted to consider your opponent's argument seriously. By "making an example" of your opponent, you show your own clique (who presumably want to stay in high esteem with you) what will happen to them if they think too freely.

Ana said...

Personally, after this whole incident, I'm deciding to no longer participate in the discussions at DC. It's just generally too hostile of an environment that doesn't know how to accomodate the presence of people with'alternative' (i.e. non-atheistic) views. I really would have only myself to blame if I continued commenting on that blog despite knowing that standardized insults await me.

That saying "if you don't like it, leave!", well I'm self-applying it! Leave I will.

But I do hope that one day John does some repair work on his (uneven) method of applying his comment policy.

Nick said...

Actually, it's been used by the church regularly throughout history. It only changed in recent times. The idea is also to shame your opponent and I have had a number of skeptics who have responded much more kindly after they've had a good smackdown.

Those who are seeking truth will be open. Those who are not will only let their emotions get in the way and break down.

JS Allen said...

Thanks, Nick. It sounds like you're appealing to selected personal and historical anecdotes.

How would you respond to this:


Leeches have been used by doctors regularly throughout history. It only changed in recent times. The idea is also to shock the immune system and I have had a number of friends who have responded much better to antibiotics after they've had a good leech.


I know there are people who think that way, but someone who claims that science is the ultimate authority should know better.

Nick said...

Hi JS. I would say that the difference is we see our Lord and the apostles doing this in Scripture and the early church fathers. What changed in modern times? The cult of the individual rose up.

Ridicule is not always to be used, but it's also something never to be used. If you have only a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you have only a caress however, everything looks like a kitten.

I reserve ridicule for wolves. Paul said they'd come. I treat wolves like wolves.

JS Allen said...

Well, I didn't see any of the apostles using mockery, ridicule, or satire against the "wolves". They were rather more direct than that. So I don't think you can support ridicule based on anything but the most tenuous Biblical example. Furthermore, I don't think the Bible ever suggested that our response to "wolves" (via ridicule or otherwise) would be an effective means of persuasion, which is what Carrier and Loftus claim. The Bible provides exactly zero warrant for the claim that ridicule is an effective means of conversion.

Having said that, I'll admit that I'm a sucker for the sort of satire that Iranaeus dished out. His bit about "delirious pumpkins of Valentius" still evokes gales of laughter in my family.

Nick said...

Correct. By ridicule, I mean any form of shaming. It does happen in the OT when Elijah taunts the prophets of Baal. "Hey guys! Maybe your god's sitting on the toilet!" Isaiah wrote about cutting down a tree, cooking meat with the wood, then setting up a pedestal so the remainder will not topple and then bowing down to it. He thought that was hysterical and was simply saying "Have you not thought about what you're doing at all?" Luke's accounts of Paul in Lystra and on the island of Malta were mockeries to show how fickle the pagan mindset was.

Do I seek to persuade people like Loftus or Carrier? Honestly, no. They're in attack mode. They want to destroy the faith of anyone they can. There are some atheists who like to discuss this stuff without wanting to destroy. I have great respect for them and give them what they give me. For others, my goal is to keep them away from the flock. Also, online debates just like professional debates are not for the debaters to convince each other. They're for them to convince the audience.

Again, I am not saying use riposte exclusively. I am saying however to not disable a tool in the tool kit and if Christ did not hesitate to call those who were enemies of the truth sons of Hell in his day, then we could ask ourselves why we're so scared to say something that will shame our opponents.

Anonymous said...

"Loftus and Luke both cite Carrier's claim that ridicule can be an effective persuasion tactic."

John Loftus:
"But ridicule is likewise an informal logical fallacy, and several Christians have resorted to that. To ridicule is not to make an argument at all."

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1097106&postcount=75

Tony Hoffman said...

Many times I have heard a former believer cite the desire to stop having to use arguments that are so easily ridiculed as one of the prime motivators in their deconversion. So I think that it's not inherently unscientific to eschew the tactic entirely. Also, it seems obvious to me that most theistic religions are easier to ridicule that skepticism, and the desire to remove ridicule from the list of approved tactics could be portrayed here as self-serving.

I do draw a distinction between ridiculing and threatening. I have no problem with the former, although I have to say that those who do it well ridicule arguments, not the arguers.

Mr Veale said...

Ridicule is powerful rhetoric. The question should be "when are we morally justified in using this weapon?"

For example, Chaplin's "Great Dictator" would be a good use of ridicule.

Graham

Nick said...

I agree with Tony. I'll also say that I'm very much equal opportunity. For instance, I am not a macroevolutionist, but I've seen some Christians making really bad arguments against macroevolution and not doing any studies in the science and have done what I could to knock them down. I'm against bad argumentation no matter where it comes from. I have more respect for an atheist who argues well than a Christian who argues badly.

unkleE said...

I have just read though this entire discussion, and I must say I feel a little sick at heart. Yes, there may be a place in debate for rhetorical ridicule, but never for personal insult and mockery, and that is what mostly occurs.

Remember, those of us who claim to follow jesus, doing what he would want (as much as we can know that) is our number 1 priority. So I can't help feeling we should all be asking:

1. Why am I discussing at all with atheists? Am I motivated by love, by wanting the best for the other person? Is this what God has called me to do, or should I be serving in some other way?

2. Do I have the emotional and spiritual maturity to handle the pressure, or will I give in to ungodly tactics? And be too immature to admit it and change?

3. Do I see adversarial argument as the main way to win converts? Or do I see that prayer, the work of the Holy Spirit and a caring approach are also important? And if so, do I actually pray before I write?

4. Do my words obey the scriptural advice? "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." (1 Peter 3:15-16).

I think John is wrong about most things but he is surely right to expect better behaviour from followers of Jesus. Let's resolve to do better, or apologise or get out of the pressure situations. Let's stop justifying bad behaviour even when provoked.

Michael Baldwin said...

Loftus can claim all he like that he really did ban cl for good reasons, but never once did she (i think she's a she? :D) call someone a rude name or swear at anyone. Yet she gets the ban whilst the atheist commenters calling a Christian 'a piece of sh*t' gets a nod of approval and a wink from Loftus. Oh the double standards!
How are you going to justify your little back-patting to your loftus-worshiping atheist commenters who swear at believers and call them disgusting names, but then ban a questioning believer who simply says that she will always keep you accountable for what you are doing and keep questioning what you are doing??
It makes me laugh so much :)
But I'm not going to particularly angry because we shouldn't really expect anything less. The whole 'infidel' crowd on the internet breeds this name-calling culture whilst laughably calling themselves free-thinkers and rationalists, and many of them engage in loads of censoring. As I said, we shouldn't be surprised that Loftus would stoop to such levels so I wouldn't get too angry about it!

Just more evidence of our sinful nature as human beings, anyone?! ;)

Nick said...

Unkle: I have just read though this entire discussion, and I must say I feel a little sick at heart. Yes, there may be a place in debate for rhetorical ridicule, but never for personal insult and mockery, and that is what mostly occurs.

Reply: Apparently, Elijah never got that memo seeing as he mocked the prophets of Baal. Israel never got it seeing as they came up with the name for the devil of "Lord of the Flies." Christ himself never did as he asked the Pharisees about the Scripture "Have you not read?" Tertullian never got it as he said Marcion had a pumpkin for a brain.



Unkle: 1. Why am I discussing at all with atheists? Am I motivated by love, by wanting the best for the other person? Is this what God has called me to do, or should I be serving in some other way?

Reply: Wanting the best for the other person can mean being tough with them. Do you think Jesus was not acting out of love when he called the Pharisees blind guides and sons of Hell or that Paul wasn't when he said he wished the circumcision crowd would go the whole way and emasculate themselves?

Unkle: 2. Do I have the emotional and spiritual maturity to handle the pressure, or will I give in to ungodly tactics? And be too immature to admit it and change?

Reply: The reality is that even if you were right in what you say, here, you're begging the question. Why assume this is ungodly when it is done throughout the Bible?

Unkle: 3. Do I see adversarial argument as the main way to win converts? Or do I see that prayer, the work of the Holy Spirit and a caring approach are also important? And if so, do I actually pray before I write?

Reply: Believe it or not, a lot of dialogues I have with atheists are not to win the convert but to keep the wolf away from the flock and make him think twice because he never knows when another Christian could be around to knock down his argument. Also, I am not for winning converts. I am for winning disciples.

Nick said...

Unkle: 4. Do my words obey the scriptural advice? "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." (1 Peter 3:15-16).

Reply: Actually, this verse has nothing to do with apologetics. The context is nothing about it. What it is is that in the ancient world, you were not one who did something for nothing. If you helped someone, you expected something back. However, when a Christian was asked "Why do you do this?" he was simply to say "We do it for the love of Christ."

Mr Veale said...

Nick

Elijah's attack on Baal worship or Isaiah's satire of idolatry do not give Christians a "blank cheque". Elijah slaughtered the priests of Baal afterwards. I doubt that we'd want to apply that standard to John.

Public ridicule is a powerful weapon that should be used carefully. If there is a good relationship between the disputants, then a bit of banter does no harm.

However, it isn't the ridicule of John's ideas or arguments that concern me. It's (1)the personal comments, which are bound to be hurtful; (2) say John did run his blog unfairly. So what? What, of consequence, follows exactly?

I just don't understand this obsession with John's character. And it's only his online personality that we can comment on. Unless you've met John f-2-f, you don't have any insight into the man's personality.
I haven't met him, but like Bob, I think I'd get on quite well with John.
As for his online personality - he gets a bit prickly, and throws the odd tantrum. But he's good fun. And I've read worse arguments from atheists with good academic credentials. (Open "The God Delusion" at random and begin reading...)

Graham

Mr Veale said...

Furthermore, Nick, the principled use of good manners is binding. I don't think that you've replied to Uncle E's critcisms at all.

Nick said...

Veale: Elijah's attack on Baal worship or Isaiah's satire of idolatry do not give Christians a "blank cheque". Elijah slaughtered the priests of Baal afterwards. I doubt that we'd want to apply that standard to John.

Reply: Never said anything about a blank check. I just said that this exists in the Bible and this was before his success. When he succeeded, it meant that in a theocracy, these people were found guilty of treason. They were following the law of Deuteronomy then.

Veale: Public ridicule is a powerful weapon that should be used carefully. If there is a good relationship between the disputants, then a bit of banter does no harm.

Reply: So you think the Pharisees and Jesus had a good relationship? They wanted to kill him.

Veale: However, it isn't the ridicule of John's ideas or arguments that concern me. It's (1)the personal comments, which are bound to be hurtful; (2) say John did run his blog unfairly. So what? What, of consequence, follows exactly?

Reply: As were Christ's. He told the Pharisees they were ignorant of Scripture. Tertullian said Marcion had a pumpkin for a brain. I wonder what happened in the 20th century that changed this.

Veale: I just don't understand this obsession with John's character. And it's only his online personality that we can comment on. Unless you've met John f-2-f, you don't have any insight into the man's personality.

Reply: I think I know his personality quite well as I've been on the receiving end of several of his remarks. I've laughed at them.

Veale: I haven't met him, but like Bob, I think I'd get on quite well with John.
As for his online personality - he gets a bit prickly, and throws the odd tantrum. But he's good fun. And I've read worse arguments from atheists with good academic credentials. (Open "The God Delusion" at random and begin reading...)

Graham

Reply: Good fun? He's the most narcissistic atheist I've ever met and I don't trust him an inch.

Mr Veale said...

OK. Say that's true Nick. What follows?

JS Allen said...

I love it when random Internet Christian soldiers proof-text to put themselves on the same level as Jesus and Elijah.

Michael Baldwin said...

JS Allen, I hardly think what he's doing is putting himself on the same level on Elijah and Jesus, and I think it's a bit unfair to say that he is.
As Christians, Jesus is our paradigm, Jesus showed us how to live, speak, act, listen, serve. And so if Jesus did something or didn't do something, I wanna take notice of that so that I can understand the principle behind that.
If I understand what Jesus did and why, that can help me to follow him better. So if I find that he called out the Pharisees for being brood of vipers, then I want to know why he did that and what that means abotu how I should act.
For what it's worth, I think he wasn't ridiculing them but publicly rebuking them, which is a very different thing. I can't think of a single example of Jesus giving a snarky, ridiculing comment back to someone. He simply asked a question in answer to someone asking him a question.

When the Pharisees kept trying to pin him down and embarass him with trick questions, he didn't ridicule them- he astounded them with his wisdom. That's what I want to be able to do one day, but I don't it's likely. At least I can strive for it, right?

GREV said...

Mr. Veale:

I once visited the house of a friend at whose table was seated a swearing profane man who happened to be a lawyer.

The man left after awhile.

The next day I saw my friend who said he had told the lawyer who I was and the lawyer had said why didn't you say so -- I would have changed my behaviour.


A person's conduct should be consistent on the Internet or off or anywhere else for that matter. Or else it becomes a matter of their truthfulness, stability and a whole of other things.

Nick said...

Veale:

OK. Say that's true Nick. What follows?

Reply: What follows is that there is a place for confrontational evangelism and too many Christians are writing it off immediately and condemning all usage when we do not see that in Scripture.

Note that Scripture does tell us to win disciples, but also to refute those who contradict and Paul refers to them as wolves. The early church had the same passion and used stronger terminology than Paul.

As a newlywed, I have a devotion to my wife that grows more and more every day. She calls me her Superman and I assure you that if someone tried to hurt my wife, I would not be mild-mannered. However when someone tries to lead people into apostasy and does not care about the truth, I'm supposed to say "Well I guess I'd better make sure I don't hurt their feelings." It's a victim mentality. Want to see the result of it? Look at Canada where you can no longer say anything against homosexuality because that's hate speech.

Consider Loftus. He has put up a naked picture of Jesus on his blog for blasphemy day and even has a post designed to be hit by pastors struggling with sexual sin to lead them into apostasy.

My greater concern is with truth more than with feelings.

Nick said...

JS Allen:

I love it when random Internet Christian soldiers proof-text to put themselves on the same level as Jesus and Elijah.

Reply: And I can't stand hypocrisy. You have a problem with ridicule and yet you just used it. Let's take a look.

"random Internet Christian soldiers."

That's a mocking insult that you present as if I'm someone out there who's just some guy on the internet. Tell me JS. Do you know what I do offline and online both, or are you making an assumption?

You also say I'm comparing myself to Elijah and Paul. No. I'm looking at their behavior and seeing them as examples. Note also that the Bible does the same thing. James 5:17-18 tells us that Elijah was a man just like us and tells us of his power in prayer. Paul tells us in Philippians to imitate him as he imitates Christ.

Or are we only supposed to look to these people as examples as long as their behavior is what we like?

What you have done is used ridicule and all the while you were saying you don't see it as effective, even though you admit you like reading about it in the church fathers and consider some of their lines favorites.

I appreciate what Michael said and I'll be replying to him. If you don't feel comfortable using ridicule, that's a good reason to not use it yourself. Why should I be restricted from it because you don't like it?

Nick said...

Michael:

JS Allen, I hardly think what he's doing is putting himself on the same level on Elijah and Jesus, and I think it's a bit unfair to say that he is.

Reply: Thank you. I find people who condemn riposte often end up using it either forthrightly or in a more passive-aggressive stance.

Michael: As Christians, Jesus is our paradigm, Jesus showed us how to live, speak, act, listen, serve. And so if Jesus did something or didn't do something, I wanna take notice of that so that I can understand the principle behind that.

Reply: An excellent approach. How amazing! To determine how to live, we look to Jesus.

Michael: If I understand what Jesus did and why, that can help me to follow him better. So if I find that he called out the Pharisees for being brood of vipers, then I want to know why he did that and what that means abotu how I should act.

Reply: Correct again.

Michael: For what it's worth, I think he wasn't ridiculing them but publicly rebuking them, which is a very different thing. I can't think of a single example of Jesus giving a snarky, ridiculing comment back to someone. He simply asked a question in answer to someone asking him a question.

Reply: I gave one. Jesus said to the Pharisees when they questioned him about his disciples picking wheat "Have you not read?"

What did the Pharisees pride themselves on? Their piety which included their knowledge of Scripture. Jesus is saying "Hey you Scripture scholars! You ever read this passage?" It was a mockery to them. The same with the Sadducees on the resurrection. Jesus asked them "Have you not read?" and then gave one of the key verses they prided themselves on.

Michael:When the Pharisees kept trying to pin him down and embarass him with trick questions, he didn't ridicule them- he astounded them with his wisdom. That's what I want to be able to do one day, but I don't it's likely. At least I can strive for it, right?

Reply: He did both. The two are not exclusive. How good was he at this? Well he got crucified. In such a challenge, throwing a punch would be admitting defeat. Jesus was the victor in each one. Note his silence before Pilate for instance. What's he saying? It's essentially, "Pilate. I know who you are, and you're not worth answering." Pilate got the message! That's why he was so stunned.

Mr Veale said...

Nick

So nothing about the truth or falsity of Christianity, or the truth or falsity of Atheism, follows?

Graham

Mr Veale said...

I've met narcissists in the Church. So I don't see where these ad hominems get you. I don't mind being confrontational. I've been confrontational with John. But you seem to expend a lot of energy establishing nothing of note; and you score something of an own goal when you stoop to Dawkinseque personal attacks.

Your line about your wife, and zeal for the truth, is worrying. I've seen that used to excuse ruthless behaviour in the Church. Still, congratulations on your wedding. It's nice to hear nice news.

Graham

Mr Veale said...

One more thing, as Columbo would say.
A bit of straight talking. You seem to get very angry over criticism (replying to each point in a terse manner).
You need to distinguish between an attack on your position, an attack on you personally, and an attack on the faith.
I can't help feeling that, on an emotional level, you get the three mixed up. Put it this way - if you can tell the difference intellectually, but feel the same indignation at each, you need to ask yourself if it is good for you as a Christian to be involved in public debate.

Graham

JS Allen said...

Hi Superman,

I don't claim that my mocking behavior has Biblical endorsement, nor do I believe it's an effective persuasion tactic. Do you see the difference? If anything, your reaction provides evidence in support of my claim.

Nick said...

@Mr. Veale.

Is anything fundamentally Christian in danger? No. However, I do believe an individualistic Western mindset is harmful to Christianity in the long run making it all about the individual instead with an emphasis on personal testimony and feelings instead of truth. I simply respond because I am not to let what I view as good be spoken of as evil.

You consider the behavior Dawkinesque. Are you aware the church fathers did such? It has happened with many in the past, including Chesterton with his sanctified wit. Was Tertullian Dawkinesque when he said Marcion, who was dead at the time, had a pumpkin for a brain?

Do I have great zeal to protect my wife You bet I do. That's one reason my in-laws had no problem trusting her to me. Our pre-marital counselor said our levels of devotion are off the charts and my current counselor sees my devotion as does everyone else.

I have no doubt people misuse zeal, but I never condemn zeal. I condemn zeal not in accordance with knowledge as the Bible does. Paul tells us it is good to be zealous after all and maybe some more zeal could be good.

And as for Loftus, my biggest beefs with him have not been his attacks on me but his attacks on Christ. Attacks on me have made me laugh. Seeing his naked Jesus post and his post to lead pastors struggling with sexual sin astray is angering, as it should be.

If you really want to see some outside testimony however, I simply recommend going to TheologyWeb where I'm on staff and asking around.

Nick said...

As for JS, the main point however is I have given biblical references. The Bible takes the point of rebuking quite seriously which in the culture would have involved shaming the opponent. I have also given examples from personal experience where this approach has produced good fruit and got a number of atheists to start listening. These were ignored. If you have a case, make it from the Bible. Instead, I would say you are giving into the culture and not realizing it. I have also made it clear to not treat every opponent like a nail with my holding a hammer, but also don't treat each like a kitten while you have a caress. Check my exchange awhile back with Tony Hoffman. I can respect Tony. We had a friendly give and take. Papalinton? Not a bit. He's using plagiarism and no research and his agenda is deadset against Christianity. As the Bible says, they are wolves to the flock and Paul told us to watch out for them. Tell me, if you're a shepherd, are you not to keep the wolves away from the flock?

JS Allen said...

Superman,

A few personal anecdotes from someone with a bias toward being a superhero for Jesus are not sufficient scientific proof of mockery's effectiveness. Personal mockery's ability to persuade is an empirical matter that can easily be scientifically tested. The only study I've seen on the matter suggested that personal mockery actually hardens the opponent's stance. Please do let me know if you have scientific evidence to the contrary.

Also, I disagree strongly with your Biblical eisegesis. Do you remember what Elijah did to the prophets of Baal after he mocked them? He slaughtered them. Do you really want to go there?

Nick said...

Who said anything about being a superhero for Jesus? I was talking about my devotion to my wife and making a parallel that I would not be so mild-mannered.

As for what happened with Elijah, I have already given an answer to that. It is mentioned above. Do you want to go there and read it?

Mr Veale said...

"Are you aware the church fathers did such?"

That question is patronising. Tertullian is often criticised for attacking the man and not the ball.

As for Chesterton - I don't discern any likeness between your comments and his books.

Graham

Mr Veale said...

i'll persist with this as you seem ally yourself with JP Holding's aggression.

JS Allen is entirely correct to accuse you of eisegesis. To claim that Jesus was "mocking" the Pharisees is pure eisegesis, and shows a lack of historical sense. You do not consider how agonistic cultures function, for example.

Your arguments make little sense.

(1) I have a deep affection for my wife
(2) I should protect my wife.
(3) I have a deep affection for Jesus.
(4) It is a hate crime to oppose homosexuality in Canada.
(5) The Saints and Church Fathers used insults.

therefore

(6) I should protect Jesus by insulting John Loftus.

How on earth does a rational person respond to that? It's emotive nonsense.
You are leaving apologists open to ridicule, and with the best will in the world, you really need to stop.
Graham

Mr Veale said...

Again, Elijah slaughtered the priests of Baal. Should we follow suit?
Do we have the same authority as Paul?
Is Peter's demand for civility binding?

It is acceptable to condemn John's blasphemy as repulsive and evil (it is).
It is acceptable to mock his arguments, if you are mocking a key premise.

But you gain nothing, and lose everything, by arguing that your opponent is a jerk. It just makes you look petty and ill-informed.

Graham

unkleE said...

I'm not going to enter into a point by point discussion of the replies to my post. I think that would be exactly the wrong response. But I think we should note:

1, We are in the new covenant now, not the old, and there are many things in the OT that we should not do as christians.

2. Jesus spent lots of time praying, and he was the son of God. I think he may have had the right to do and say things that we don't. And he lived in a very different culture to ours.

3. I don't recall anyone saying in reply that they spend time praying for their opponents. What does that tell us? I wonder if those of you who defend rudeness would be wiling to stop and spend a few weeks asking God what he approves of?

4. The NT commands that we behave respectfully are not limited to 1 Peter 3:15-16, but also include: Romans 12:17-18, Colossians 4:5-6, Matthew 5:22, 1 Corinthians 13:5, Ephesians 4:15 & 29, etc.

So I can only say again, I think generally rudeness, scorn, insult or petty bickering are not of God, and I am ashamed of much that has been said in this discussion. Directness is good if spoken in love and after prayer, but most of what I read doesn't appear to be said in that spirit, and doesn't appear to serve any constructive purpose, even the ones you put forward.

But now I have said my piece, I don't propose to continue. I see more and more signs of rude and (it seems to me) immature christians doing harm to the kingdom, and I feel sick at heart. Best wishes.

Jake Elwood XVI said...

Nick writes "And as for Loftus, my biggest beefs with him have not been his attacks on me but his attacks on Christ."

Well then don't worry Nick, like Jesus really needs your, mine or anybodies help.

Anonymous said...

"Nyah, yah boo, prrrft!"

Mr Veale, you are clearly a very immature individual. Can't you get a hold of yourself?

GREV said...

Vic:

I think you need to pull the plug on this one.

GREV said...

24 And the Lord’s slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient, 1Tim 3:2; 25 correcting opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance and then knowledge of the truth Gal 6:1; 26 and they will come to their senses and escape the devil’s trap where they are held captive to do his will.

Mr Veale said...

Hmmm.

I generally agree with the warnings from Uncle and GREV.
I've a few concerns.
1) A bit of banter is fun, and I think desirable. As long as you signal, very clearly, that you like the person that you're bantering with.

2) Sometimes it is necessary to hit an idea pretty hard. I think you need to make sure that the person that you are in conversation with is ready for that, and won't take offence.

So I might be very direct with John, because he's been very direct with me, and he seems to enjoy the "give and take". I do want debates to be fun.

But, yes, sometimes it's better to lose an argument than to lose a friendship...or even to lose contact with someone who is prepared to listen to and challenge your ideas, beliefs and convictions.

In other words, patience is a virtue.

Graham

Mr Veale said...

There was a substantial point that I wanted to discuss - the influence of "The God Delusion" on the Internet. Given that this is not going to happen now, and that I've said all that I wanted to say, I think GREV is right. Time to kill this thread off.

Jason Pratt said...

Mr. Veale: {{And it's only his online personality that we can comment on. Unless you've met John f-2-f, you don't have any insight into the man's personality.}}

Incidentally, all of what little I've heard from people who have met John face to face (selling his book at Christian conventions typically), indicates he behaves quite differently offline and in person. And I consider those people to be reliable reporters.

JRP

Anonymous said...

Unless you've met John f-2-f, you don't have any insight into the man's personality.

Yes, we do have insight into his personality based on how he acts online. He may act differently in a different situation, but he's not a completely different person. It isn't like John, or anyone else, becomes a role played by an actor simply in virtue of his being online.

As for "the guy who calls everyone stupid and deluded, mocks them, lies, and generally behaves like an ass online, is different in person", why is this surprising? Have you ever met people who will say nasty things behind your back, or when you can't retaliate, but to your face they are pleasant? Same thing.

Jason Pratt said...

{{Have you ever met people who will say nasty things behind your back, or when you can't retaliate, but to your face they are pleasant? Same thing.}}

There's a lot to be said in favor of that as well. How people act when they think they can safely get away with it (when there are fewer consequences to their consequentialistic ethics, for example {g}), can reveal a lot about their true personality, for better or for worse.

Still, I did want to report something in favor of John if I could, so for whatever it may be worth there it was. {s}

JRP