Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The end of Loftus

He's quitting, at least for the most part.

I have the feeling that there is something problematic about devoting your life to attacking what you are against, as opposed to defending and developing what you are for. I've noticed in showing atheist-theist debates to audiences of students that the atheists in those debates come across as negative and angry. Part of it could be the nature of the position they are taking; they have the job of tearing something down, while the believer is trying to build something up.

But, to paraphrase Richard Nixon, we won't have John Loftus to kick around anymore.

59 comments:

rank sophist said...

Loftus and those like him are perennial guests at an intellectual suicide party. Watching intelligent people kick them around isn't something I find amusing; rather, it's just depressing. Good for him that he quit. In a few years, maybe he'll come back with an argument that won't make Bertrand Russell turn in his grave.

BenYachov said...

If God really doesn't exist then it's about time he "got out"?

I don't believe in Santa Cause but I don't waste my time convincing others he doesn't exist.

According to his ideology thsi life is all he has got. Why waste it promoting Atheist=m. Enjoy your existence now because soon you will loose it and it will be as if you never existed.

If I didn't believe in God I wouldn't give a shit about "enlightening" you people on the "Truth". I would eat, drink, grab all the swag I can, destroy my enemies in a way that couldn't possibly be traced back to me. Then just die.

finney said...

Wait, what did he quit?

Walter said...

Wait, what did he quit?

He turned his blog over to a team of people. He claims that he is going to drastically reduce his presence at his blog, Debunking Christianity.

Andres Ruiz said...

He's just tired for the week.

Does anyone really believe he's going to stop blogging? It's his only avenue to vent, plus it's rather rewarding to vent when you have a choir of people yelling "Amens" to anything you say, even if your arguments are crap. As long as they're arguments against the existence of something we don't believe in, we'll not scrutinize them too much.

Nah, don't be fooled. Someone like Luke from Common Sense Atheism actually followed through with leaving Phil. of Religion behind and focused instead on something he deemed to be a real problem. Loftus on the other hand doesn't have anything else to talk about. Luke is smart, even-handed, and can cooly look at the arguments. Any cursory reading of Loftus's work shows how emotionally attached he is to this cause.

He's not going to go focus on "real" issues, and he sure as hell ain't going to sit at home doing nothing and allow the boredom to consume him.

He'll be back soon and repeat the same crap as usual and the cycle will go on.

He's a "professional" atheist. He's not going to give that up.

Dr. Evangelicus said...

Somehow I'll survive.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic,

There's plenty of Christians willing to take on other Christians on nearly every "viewpoint" imaginable. Loftus was just pointing out the obvious.

Christians debating brain-mind monism vs.dualism.

Christians debating free will and predestination.

Christians debating inerrancy, the meaning of inspiration, creationism, I.D., theistic evolution, the historicity of Adam, etc. Check out the BIOLOGOS website.

Conservative Christians debating each other's inerrant interpretations, fundies versus charismatics and pentecostals, not to mention debates between moderates, progressives, liberals.

I guess they are all "building up" the faith.

a helmet said...

From an atheist perspective, bothering with questions about god and other people's beliefs is actually idle and a waste of time. If faith is irrational then why spend your life coping with it anyway?

Karl Grant said...

Loftus has said he is quitting before (not to mention unsubscribing to this blog, not going to comment anymore on a particular discussion thread) only to do an about-face later. I doubt we have seen the last of him.

Papalinton said...
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Papalinton said...

Loftus's contribution to the debate, about the direction society should move in order to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number of people, has been incalculable. Not only has he established a significant framework by which theism, christian theism particularly, can be and has been truly put under the most intensive scrutiny and the most robust of challenges, he has also blown a huge hole through that contrived and artificial boundary inside which christians demand unearned respect, expect unwarranted deference, and presume pious complaisance in gratuitous obeisance to the 'sacred', regardless of whether that 'sacred' is true or just made-up traditional bunkum. Of course 'sacred' is a purely theological concept.

The form of scrutiny Loftus brings to much of the nonsense that purports to be the 'truth' or 'god's word', about people, about communities, about the environment and the world and our relationships to and in them, is not going to go away. There are millennia of theistic nonsense that has been peddled to the unsuspecting, the gullible and the vulnerable, without justification or good reason; just because others of tradition said so. The groundswell in the community is palpable. Religious expression today is still infelicitously an expected entitlement, a matter of course, by the religiose. And as Loftus understands, this will not do in modern, diverse, and multicultural communities that are now the norm. Public policy must reflect the new norms, and religious behaviour for the most part does not comport to the changed arrangements. The principles of a secular humanist society is foundational to meeting the needs and security that all and every members of a diverse community requires. Any one religion is unsuited to that task. One need only review current events across the globe during the past decade to note the central role religious and sectarian differences play in fuelling unimaginable violence for singularly unjustified reasons. Closer to home, look at the way christians are prepared to not only deny inalienable individual rights to homosexuals but to legislate on the basis of their religious inspired hate for a section of the community simply because of difference.

No longer will any form of christian theism be allowed a free 'get out of jail' card. And that is just as it should be. Not even the pope's 'men of the cloth' be ever again trusted and be given the benefit of the doubt as society once did. That form of institutional trust has been destroyed. The form of scrutiny Loftus highlights much of the nonsense that underscores the ambivalent and unreliable nature of the gospels in the treatment of morality, ethics and social well-being.

Ed Babinski succinctly encapsulates much of the nonsense that preoccupies christian thinking. Christian theism really is a dog's breakfast. Loftus knew that, and helped many through the arduous process of debriefing from religious indoctrination.

B. Prokop said...

"the most robust of challenges"

Boy, am I ever glad to read that! If Loftus is the best that atheism's got, we have nothing to worry about.

Hmmm... Let's see. One one side of "The Debate" we've got Aquinas, Dante, J.S. Bach, Giotto, Andrej Rublev, C.S. Lewis, Augustine, G.K. Chesterton, Isaac Newton, Gregor Mendel, Charles Williams, Chaucer, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. On the other side there's Loftus, Dawkins, Hitchens, and Ayn Rand.

And the Winner is...

Doug Benscoter said...

@B. Prokop

Hahaha good point.

I'm proud of the tradition of great thinkers we as Christians have. I was watching the History Channel special, "Proving God," and was amazed at how the myth of science versus religion was apparent throughout the beginning. Since you mention Newton, it's worth noting that the very foundations of science itself presuppose the uniformity of nature. How did early (but still modern) scientists, like Newton, explain the uniformity of nature? With God, of course!

To be fair, I do think there are some great atheistic thinkers, as well. Bertrand Russell immediately comes to mind, though he was technically agnostic. I understand the jovial nature of your post, though. :)

Andres Ruiz said...

What a silly story.

BenYachov said...
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BenYachov said...

To be fair Bob Ayn Rand is way smarter then those three guys.

Plus she would not much care for their politics.

Anthony Fleming said...

Papalinton, maybe someday I will become an ex-reverend atheist who promotes subjective and weak arguments based on a misunderstanding of the divine reality from the other world religions. If so, I will be sure to have you on my potential list of eulogizers. Your a fantastic Loftus surrogate!

steve said...

Some people are gone but not forgotten while others are forgotten but not gone. Loftus is forgettable, but he will linger like a poltergeist.

Bilbo said...

I'll miss his hat.

Ilíon said...

Why does everyone keep acting like Bertrand Russell was "all that"? He was a fool and an intellectual hypocrite, but I repeat myself; he was his generation's version of Loftus (and Dawkins).

Ilíon said...

"But, to paraphrase Richard Nixon, we won't have John Loftus to kick around anymore."

I wonder, did Loftus getting kicked around have anything to do with that big "Kick Me!" sign he always affixed to his ass before venturing out in public?

Morrison said...

Loftus is just crying and stamping his feet for attention.

He is classically passive/agressive.

He will be back.

Remember...he is an admitted liar.

Papalinton said...

Bob
It isn't about the numbers. It is about the argument. And given 2,000 years of indiscriminate accretion, all we have for the total of christian apologetics, at the end of the day, is befittingly described by Ed Babinski in an earlier post on this thread.

By comparison, the burgeoning knowledge base and understanding that has been acquired through a systematic and persistent empirical methodology, predicated on the concept of falsifiability, since the 17th C CE, [a mere blink of the eye in relative terms to the length of christian parasitism], simply dwarfs the quantum and quality of religious knowledge obtained through repetition, iteration, interpretation, ritual, ceremony, custom and tradition. The religious corpus of knowledge is of a form that has, like the horse and buggy, reached its use-by date. And there is nothing wrong with this realisation. It simply is a reflection of the greater and more sophisticated needs of the modern community to explore and use other methods and processes, based on a far broader foundation of testable and verifiable information and experiences than that traditionally prescribed in primitive christian writings founded on a cultural context far removed from the challenges which contemporary society must progressively and transformatively address.

The somewhat arbitrary and capricious perspectives that a largely amorphous and shapeless structure of christian theism provides, do not have the capacity or the where-with-all to meet today's fundamental needs.

And consistent with Babinski's rightly posited perspective, it is religion that is shapeshifting and morphing in order to inveigle itself into the new community, dropping off or shedding much of the nonsense that was once sacrosanct and nonnegotiable in christianity. Virgin birth has dropped off the twig, as has heaven and hell, and limbo. Even the historicity of Adam and Eve is at best a 50/50 bet these days among the faithful. Without a historical A and E, there cannot have been original sin and therefore the concept of sacrificial propitiation was a non-event. All allegorical these days, except for the literal interpretation from the fundies.

Anyway, Lpftus saw through all this humf, and responded as any reasonable and intellective person would.

AmirF said...

I repeat myself; he was his generation's version of Loftus (and Dawkins)

Ilion,

Russell co-wrote the Principia Mathematica, widely regarded as being one of the most important works in mathematical logic and philosophy in all of human history. He utterly revolutionized logic and the philosophy of language, and was a great figure in metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophy of mind. Though he was indeed a fool when it came to the philosophy of religion and Christianity in particular, it is wrong of you to compare him to the likes of Loftus and Dawkins.

Morrison said...

Principia Mathematic was outdated by the time it was published, as Russell knew when he realized that any system is going to involve unprobable axioms...something he thought he could avoid.

It threw him into a depression for some time.

But I agree that he was a fool when it came to the philosophy of religion...and in that sense he share much with Loftus and Dawkins.

Morrison said...

Papalinton ignores the fact that the more we learn, the more we realize we don't know.

And the mere fact that knowledge about the physical world has increased is not an argument against creation in the first place. He has created a false dichotomy, and is as emotionally motivated as Loftus.

Loftus is obviously depressed and had repeated lamented his lack of recognation by Dawkins...maybe he shouldn't have had blurbs dismissing Dawkins on the backs of his books? ...snicker...

Papalinton said...
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Papalinton said...

Papalinton ignores the fact that the more we learn, the more we realize we don't know.

On the contrary. I, for one, make no apology in championing science and the empirical method, and therefore am quizzical as to how one could misconstrue that I ignore such a fact. Science has never been backward in saying, "I don't know" when indeed it does not know; and I wholeheartedly subscribe to that sentiment.

And you are perfectly correct; " .. the mere fact that knowledge about the physical world has increased is not an argument against creation in the first place." There is no argument for creation is the first place. The creation story is just a story, a myth, one of thousands if not 100s of thousands extant. It is somewhat embarrassing when one comes to the full realisation that there are supposedly mature and responsible adults, grown-ups, that still, still imagine and subscribe to some of the most ridiculous and fanciful religious nonsense, concocted in a time of ignorance.

Religion was born out of the ignorance, superstition and widespread illiteracy [both communicative and scientific] that characterizes our primitive antecedents; and religion remains largely sustained by that superstition, ignorance and low levels of education today. There is a clear and unmistakable correlation between increased levels of religious belief that is inversely proportional to qualitative levels of basic education. This has been born out in many wide spectrum studies and surveys.

Equally, there is no reason to create a false dichotomy, and it can hardly be described as a product of emotional motivation. Any ardent practising christian today would be unrecognisable to Aquinas and doubtless would be branded a heretic by him. But that in itself should not be construed as an improvement in christian thinking. That is not progress, in the scientific, empirical methodological sense. It is simply christian theism masquerading as if 'in tune' with the community. Christian theism does not progress, it simply morphs depending on the sentiment of the prevailing group on the day.

There are no lessons to be learned from christian theism that hasn't already been trotted out over the centuries. No, christianity does not progress in any sense of the word and definition, just re-arranged.

And through convenient and selective memory loss pious believers on this site ignore the fact that Loftus was a card-carrying, community-involved faithhead for much of his life, running the same rituals, supplicating to the exact same phantasm, eating the same cracker, drinking the same blood, performing the same sacraments. He knows what it is and what it takes to be a faithhead.

Zach said...
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Zach said...
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Walter said...

Nothing against John, but I like the diversity of arguments that are now being produced by his team of guest bloggers. John was getting a little too fixated on the OTF.

Ilíon said...

"... John was getting a little too fixated on the OTF."

What's the saying? "When you *think* you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

Zach said...
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Zach said...
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Zach said...
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rank sophist said...

Zach,

No idea what you have against me. Note that your comments at the end of the BDK argument awhile back were content-free "neener-neeners" in response to a quote taken out of context. BDK insisted on having his Aristotelian cake and eating it too, as you would have seen had you read the entire debate. Good luck with that chip on your shoulder, though.

grodrigues said...

@rank sophist:

Really puzzling, never having interacted with Zach, is that he also launched a tirade against me, dubbing me the tortilla man. Now, I do not mind such an epithet, as there is something incongruously funny in imagining myself as a tortilla on legs lumbering through the streets and trampling the hapless passersby. What *really* rubs me the wrong way, is that he did not even deign to spell my name right, using the Spanish spelling ending with a "z" (thus the tortilla reference I presume) instead of the Portuguese one, which ends with an "s".

rank sophist said...

grodrigues,

Very bizarre, and (more than) somewhat racist.

In addition, his posts before indicated that he had something against Thomists in general, but he's a follower of the Just Thomism blog--a site that even I find too traditional. Can't figure him out.

Victor Reppert said...

Russell had a great philosophical mind, but he had it turned off when he wrote his anti-religious works. He didn't have enough intellectual sympathy with his opponents to engage them in any reasonable way.

Papalinton said...

Russell had a great philosophical mind and he used it to great effect most particularly when challenging the foundations of christian theism. He clearly delineated that which was mistakenly construed as philosophy and posited it back where it properly resided, theology.

Philosophy, the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, [esp. when considered as an academic discipline] is egregiously segued with theology, "the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; especially : the study of God and of God's relation to the world" [Miriam-Webster dictionary].

Here is an interesting theological take on philosophy vis-a-vis theology: http://www.prophecyandtruth.com/theology_vs.htm

I add the final remarks of the above piece; "God gave us His word that we might know and understand Him. We must stay away from philosophy and deceit. We need to read the bible enough, and study it enough that the theologies we learn are true and irrefutable."

So much for philosophy in a theologically-driven worldview of scripture.

Ilíon said...

AmirF: "Russell co-wrote the Principia Mathematica, widely regarded as being one of the most important works in mathematical logic and philosophy in all of human history. He utterly revolutionized logic and the philosophy of language, and was a great figure in metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophy of mind. Though he was indeed a fool when it came to the philosophy of religion and Christianity in particular, it is wrong of you to compare him to the likes of Loftus and Dawkins."

As a wise man recently wrote, "Those who do not bother to read and attempt to understand (*) what they wish to dispute would do well to avoid clicking the 'Publish' button" -- and especially they should avoid this when their disputation is logically equivalent to "Well, sure, you're right, which just shows how wrong you are."

Russell *knew* he was not reasoning correctly when he made his pseudo-arguments against Christianity. Russell *knew* he was not being intellectually honest when he constructed his straw-man-and-red-herring pseudo-arguments against Christianity.

Russell was intellectually dishonest; which is to say, he was a fool. He was his generation's version of Loftus and Dawkins and Carrier and PZ and Dennett, and so on, ad nauseam.

Ilíon said...

VR: "Russell had a great philosophical mind, but he had it turned off when he wrote his anti-religious works. He didn't have enough intellectual sympathy with his opponents to engage them in any reasonable way."

Russell's problem was not a lack of "intellectual sympathy with his opponents"; his problem was a lack of intellectual honesty with respect to "religion".

VR: "Russell had a great philosophical mind, but he had it turned off when he wrote his anti-religious works."

He had even less excuse for turning off his mind than someone like Loftus or Dawkins, who are, after all, only middling intellects.

Zach said...
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Doug Benscoter said...

It's important to remember that a person can be brilliant in one field, while ignorant (in a technical sense, and not in a disparaging sense) in another. With respect to Russell, he was a brilliant philosophical mind, but I also agree that his arguments against religion were very poor. So, I agree with Vic's assessment. One need only listen to his debate with Copleston.

Zach said...
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Crude said...

rank sophist,

Pay no mind to Zach. It's not really personal: the guy flips out at anyone disagreeing with him and holds grudges like crazy in response to being shown up. The quasi-racism isn't too surprising - you're not exactly dealing with a smart man in Zach.

As for the OP - I see Loftus finally realized he'd never make real money with his schtick. He doesn't have the talent much less the mind for it, and he could never build a rep other than "slimy, even by Cult of Gnu standards".

Ilíon said...

"E.g., Ilion knows this. He is happy to (rightly) give Crude the what for, even though they likely agree on many key issues."

I can think of a few different words or terms one might use to denote a person who will not criticize the same flaws-of-reasoning employed by those with whom he broadly agrees that he would not hesitate to criticize when employed by those with whom he broadly disagrees. I cannot think of any such term I wish able to be honestly applied to myself.

If the price of a man's friendship is dishonesty, I don't need it.

===
But have no fear, the areas of agreement between he and I will likely shrink in the near future -- the logic of human illogic, the logical result of trying to assert both 'A' and 'not-A' simultaneously, all but guarantees it.

Ilíon said...

D.Benscoter" "It's important to remember that a person can be brilliant in one field, while ignorant (in a technical sense, and not in a disparaging sense) in another. With respect to Russell, he was a brilliant philosophical mind, but I also agree that his arguments against religion were very poor. So, I agree with Vic's assessment. One need only listen to his debate with Copleston."

Russell's problem was not lack of knowledge, it was lack of honesty and integrity. He knew quite well what he was doing; he had no excuse.

And *your* problem in this matter, as it is with so many other people in all sorts of other matters, is that you're trying to have it both ways -- you're trying to have it that man whose "arguments" against Christianity were logically equivalent to "You Christians are a bunch of stupid morons (*) ... Ergo, Christianity is false ... Ergo, there is no God" was a reasonable and "civil" man with whom one might have rational discourse over a matter of disagreement.

What? Do you think God cares about any pats on the head you may get for refusing to see what is right in front of your face? Don't you think that if God had wanted doormats, he'd have created doormats rather than men?

(*) Yet, considering that most "intellecual" Christians didn't then, and refuse even to this day to call him on it, perhaps he had a point.

Ilíon said...
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Crude said...

I can think of a few different words or terms one might use to denote a person who will not criticize the same flaws-of-reasoning employed by those with whom he broadly agrees that he would not hesitate to criticize when employed by those with whom he broadly disagrees.

States Ilion, forgetting for a moment that A) he and I broadly agree on many things, and B) I demonstrably have zero problem criticizing not only his reasoning when it fails (this entire tantrum by him was caused by me refusing to regard Rush Limbaugh's slut comment as either a smart or proper thing to do, and him failing miserably to make his counter-case), but criticizing his behavior.

You desire no friends, Ilion. What you crave are bootlickers who always agree with you - good luck with that.

But have no fear, the areas of agreement between he and I will likely shrink in the near future

Lawdy lawdy, I'm gonna disagree with Ilyawn in the future? Say it ain't so! Whatever will I do? ;)

Ilíon said...

The logic of human illogic and irrationality, the logic of the decision to embrace what one knows to be false, the logic of refusing to admit that one was wrong (and, more importantly, that one was in the wrong), compells one go further and further into error, to make oneself more and more in the wrong.

Crude said...

the logic of refusing to admit that one was wrong (and, more importantly, that one was in the wrong),

Then you, my friend, had really better hope that - all appearances to the contrary - you were right. Because otherwise, you're the one walking down that road o' illogic right now.

cl said...

This sort of stuff bums me out. It's hard for me to respect quitters. Honestly, I think Loftus has betrayed his professed commitment to rationalism.

Ah, who cares... this, too, is meaningless.

Morrison said...

John Did Not Quit.

He is STILL POSTING.

I told you he was lying. Again.

He was just throwing a hit and crying and stamping his feat for attention, but now he has some other people posting too.

Remember how he alway bragged about his "firepower" at DC and had all the other Team Members?

Well, that went down the toilet.

This Too Shall Pass.

Zach said...
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Ilíon said...
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Ilíon said...

"Ilion discussed "the logic of refusing to admit that one was wrong"."

The 'logic' of refusing to acknowledge that one has been in the wrong is even more powerful than that of not acknowledging that one has been wrong. Having been wrong is not, gnerally, a moral issue; at least, not initially.

Crude said...

A nice job of internet engineering left so that in the 800 future threads when he cannot admit he is wrong, and he is called out on it, he will point to that one time he said he was wrong.

Oh wow. Yes, Zach, it was allllll part of a conspiracy on my part. Sure, I've admitted I was wrong multiple times in the past. I was wrong in my conversation with Bob. But clearly, the fact that I admitted I was wrong is just evidence that I never admit I'm wrong. Like I said - you should be a school teacher. ;)

crude thinks it is personal. No: you'd know if it was personal.

Yeah, I would. You know: you'd act like Zach, screaming at everyone and calling them racist (oh, I'm sorry, "anti-cultural") nicknames at times. And of course they're all morons and moral failures besides, nonsense attacks that I never get into unless warranted. (Go watch me get in a nasty yelling match with Bob Prokop. I accused him of various mental failures regarding his party affiliation and political inclinations. I never called him a moron or a coward even at the worst time, because I know that someone disagreeing with me does not make them that.)

C'mon, Zach. Let your true colors show. Rant about how Obama is a ****ing n*****r. You're just criticizing their culture when you say that! ;)

Emanuel Goldstein said...

I, for one, admit that it is personal.

It goes beyond a theism/atheism debate.

I despise Loftus.