Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Rauser on Spiegel on atheism

There is an aspect of this that I am not sure comes through the discussion. As a Christian, I care about whether atheists conduct their critiques in the way that Richard Dawkins does, or the way that Jeff Lowder does. I think the methods of New Atheism are culturally harmful in a way that the methods of other atheists are not. But if I want to criticize New Atheist methods, then I have to also be critical of similar methods coming from within the Christian fold. So I applaud Rauser's response.

The response, from both extremes, is to say that I am concerned about being nice. It's not about niceness. It's about maintaining productivity in discussion even when what we believe matters to us a lot. 

35 comments:

Ilíon said...

What "productivity" do you have with Lowder? That you both produce a lot of words (or "hot air") without either ever admitting anything of substance is not what I call "productive".

Only getting to the truth of the matter to the extent that one can is productive ... and that, you adamantly refuse to do. 'Cause it wouldn't be "nice".

Cal Metzger said...

If a theist accuses me of being immoral (in the standard ways that we all conform to societal morality, e.g., truthfulness, concern and care for others, reciprocity and fairness, etc.) then I can point to those ways in which this is not true. In short, I can defend my morality -- my ethical beliefs, how I try to adhere to them, where I most likely could do better, etc. I have no problem with this, and I am happy to defend my moral system and my behavior.

However, if I point out that a religious person's beliefs are ridiculous, your defense seems to be, "How dare you!"

In other words, I can show how an attack on my supposed lack of morality is false.

I don't think that believers can show how their beliefs are not ridiculous.

That seems like a big difference, and I wouldn't blame that on new atheism.

B. Prokop said...

Not so, Cal. I myself regard atheism as ridiculous - as well as being self-contradictory, incoherent, narrow minded, arrogant to the extreme, elitist, personally destructive and societally catastrophic, culturally impoverished, intellectually barren, rude, intolerant, bullying, and just plain factually wrong. But I rarely feel the need to say so. Far more productive to explain calmly and rationally why atheism is all of the above.

Cal Metzger said...

Congratulations, Bob, on showing exactly how to insult without demonstrating, and then to pretend that you rise above such things and congratulate yourself for what you did not do!

B. Prokop said...

Thanks, Cal. I rather admired it myself.

Dan Gillson said...

Honestly Dr Reppert, your concerns with the rules of the niceties of discussions are entirely unproductive. You're constantly calling for a foul from the bleachers. Either ignore the rough stuff or get in the game and play it the way you think it souls be played.

Dan Gillson said...

*should, not souls

Ilíon said...

Where is this "productivity in discussion", of which one hears so much, and such good reports, too!, in never calling God-deniers on their (inescapable) intellectual dishonesty, or always pretending that they're just honestly mistaken, rather than actively engaging in intellectual dishonesty ... which is, in fact, a type of lying that is worse than merely lying about facts?

But, to maintain *your* lie (that they are not actively engaging in intellectual dishonesty), you have painted yourself into the corner of not really being able to call out any of their dishonesty.

Look at just this short "discussion", so far. Specifically, look at the two posts Cal Metzger has made -- *everything* he has said in those two posts is false -- intentionally so -- at one level or another. But, who is call out his dishonesty, much less explain some of the ways in which he is lying? Will that Paragon of Rationality, Jeffery Jay Lowder, do it? Will that Paragon of Civility, Victor Reppert, do it?

Psh! I ain't holdin' my breath, and I advise the reader to likewise keep breathing.

VR: "The response, from both extremes, is to say that I am concerned about being nice. It's not about niceness. It's about maintaining productivity in discussion even when what we believe matters to us a lot."

Once again, other than hot air, what *ever* gets produced? Does anyone ever get closer to the truth about the reality of God? Does anyone ever admit, "OK, I have been wrong: God is ... and I am not God!" Having made that admission, does anyone ever say, "Come, let us reason together to see what more we may discover about God now that we all have admitted that he is?"

If a man wants to cut you in two at the waist, what manner of "moderation" is it agree to be cut in two at the neck, lest he and other "fair-minded" people think you an "extremist"?

If a man insists that 1+1=100, what manner of "moderation" is it agree to say that 1+1=3?

If a man insists that what is true is false, or what is false is true, what manner of "moderation" is it agree that it is both true and false?

There are some things about which one simply cannot split the difference? One's neck is one, and truth is another -- trying to split the difference on either is fatal.

B. Prokop said...

Ilion, I just hate it when I have to agree with you.

Cal, you called me out for supposedly "insulting" atheism, immediately after you had just written "I don't think that believers can show how their beliefs are not ridiculous."

Pot, meet kettle. Did you not see the point of my comment?

Jezu ufam tobie!

Ilíon said...

I know how it pains you! And, really, it just breaks my heart to have to force you into such situations.

Cal Metzger said...

Bob, I said "insult WITHOUT DEMONSTRATING", not merely "insult."

As I pointed out above, I could defend my position from the charge that my atheism leads to, or stems from, a lack of morality.

As I pointed out above, believers seem to struggle when it comes to defending their beliefs from the charge of being, well, ridiculous.

I stand by my position. Religious beliefs (in the case of this blog, the Christian ones, such as a triune god, the virgin birth, the resurrection, as well as the various and sundry talking animals of the OT, etc.) are all fairly ridiculous, and Christians here and everywhere fail to come up with reasons they should not be considered ridiculous -- in the same way we can all agree that Apollo riding his chariot across the sky is ridiculous, etc.

To be clear, by ridiculous I mean: inconsistent with what we know about reality AND without evidence (whereas, "It's written down in story form" is not considered "good evidence.") That is why, for instance, the notion that the sun is actually an immortal being riding a shiny chariot across the sky is, well, ridiculous. And Christian beliefs -- the tenets of that faith -- are similarly, well, ridiculous.

Once again, if someone challenges my position (at least in a way that's tractable, unlike the drive-by of incoherent invective we saw earlier from llion) then I should be able to defend my position. The fact that religious believers can't defend their position from being characterized as ridiculous may make them uncomfortable, but I don't think it should be shied away from either -- sometime discomfort is what's needed to face and evaluate one's position.



John Moore said...

I just want to say that for me personally, the discussions on this site have been productive. This is a great website, and we need more places like this where actual discussion can happen.

I don't mind heated argument and insults and all that, but there should be some carefully considered discussion too. There should be more than just insults.

B. Prokop said...

"believers seem to struggle when it comes to defending their beliefs"

Really? Please do not include me amongst this supposed group. I never have to "struggle" to defend what I believe. (If I had to, I probably wouldn't believe it.) All the doctrines you listed are not in the least ridiculous, but stem inevitably from the bedrock nature of being itself. For them not to be true would indeed by ridiculous - and absurd!

"To be clear, by ridiculous I mean: inconsistent with what we know about reality AND without evidence"

A bit of solipsism here, I think? to a believer, the doctrines of Christianity are not only "consistent" with reality, they are what determines reality. And as for "evidence", well, you've been presented with tons of it, right here on this website. The fact that you aren't convinced by it in no way means it isn't evidence, any more than the jurors on the O.J. Simpson trial discounting the DNA evidence means that that wasn't evidence. I.e., the problem is with you, not with the evidence.

And by the way, Ilion's comment was in no way "drive by incoherent invective". He and I have our differences to be sure (he is sadly misinformed about Catholicism, for instance), but I would never characterize anything he says as that. Ilion is consistently one of the most coherent commenters on this blog.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Cal Metzger said...

Prokop, partially quoting me: ""believers seem to struggle when it comes to defending their beliefs"
Prokop: "Really? Please do not include me amongst this supposed group."

Me, more fully from what Bob selectively quoted: "believers seem to struggle when it comes to defending their beliefs from the charge of being, well, ridiculous."

Note that I said what I said, which is quite plain -- "believers seem to struggle when it comes to defending their beliefs from the charge of being, well, ridiculous."

Prokop: "A bit of solipsism here, I think?"

No, I don't think so. I can't even imagine why you would think that.

Prokop: "to a believer, the doctrines of Christianity are not only "consistent" with reality, they are what determines reality."

And this is what I mean by struggling to not seem ridiculous. Bob goes on to uncork a deepity -- something that sounds profound, but unpacks to... nothing. How is the virgin birth, for instance, "what determines reality?" How would something that never, ever happens in reality something that determines reality? This is to defend what is ridiculous with inanity. And this is what I mean when I say that believers struggle to defend their beliefs from the charge of being ridiculous.

Bob: "And as for "evidence", well, you've been presented with tons of it, right here on this website."

Please provide me what I've asked for, over and over and over on this site: what is the evidence for the most basic of Christian claims, a triune god?

Even better, cut and paste any prior presentation of this evidence, for the triune god, exactly as it has appeared prior (as you claim, the tons of it) on this website.

When you can't angry that you can't do this, please try and not project your anger onto me.

And now do you see why I say that believers struggle to defend their beliefs from the charge of being ridiculous?

Because they do.

B. Prokop said...

"And now do you see why I say that believers struggle to defend their beliefs from the charge of being ridiculous?"

Nope.

Oh, and by the way - no anger here. I have the serenity of the Buddha.

Cal Metzger said...

Prokop: "Oh, and by the way - no anger here. I have the serenity of the Buddha."

That seems true; you haven't been the type to psychologically project, and I should have given you credit for that.

Prokop: "And as for "evidence", well, you've been presented with tons of it, right here on this website."
Me: "Please provide me what I've asked for, over and over and over on this site: what is the evidence for the most basic of Christian claims, a triune god? / Even better, cut and paste any prior presentation of this evidence, for the triune god, exactly as it has appeared prior (as you claim, the tons of it) on this website."

But I am still waiting. And as long as I do, it seems to me that you will be struggling in the way I have described.

B. Prokop said...

"seems to me that you will be struggling"

Nah, it's just me trying to figure out how to condense, for instance, St. Augustine's 470 page exposition of the Trinity into a blog posting. What you demand simply cannot be presented within the character length mandated by this blog host. No more than can, say, a coherent description (to include "evidence") of general relativity be presented in anything less than a fat volume with tons of graphs and footnotes.

For my money, the best and most concise proof for the Doctrine of the Trinity can be found in Mark 15:31, but I (with great sorrow) doubt you'll understand.

So no "struggle" here, just pity.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Cal Metzger said...

Prokop: "What you demand simply cannot be presented within the character length mandated by this blog host."

Bob, if it's not too much trouble, I was mostly looking for the tons of evidence for the trinity on this website that you mentioned earlier. I thought you could just cut and past that because, as you said, it had been presented before. Tons of times.

Prokop: "And as for "evidence", well, you've been presented with tons of it, right here on this website."

---------

As I keep on saying, "believers seem to struggle when it comes to defending their beliefs from the charge of being, well, ridiculous."

B. Prokop said...

Cal,

What has been presented here, many times over in the course of many years, you do not accept as evidence. The only "struggle" going on here is your obstinate refusal to accept entire categories of evidence as evidence. If you dismiss all narrative evidence as "just stories" then I cannot help you. But that's not my problem - it's yours.

For my part, I'm not struggling in the slightest. I understand perfectly well that "stories" are a legitimate type of evidence, and am serenely content in that understanding.

Your attempt to psychoanalyze what I feel as "struggle" is so far off as to approach being funny.

"if it's not too much trouble"

I have no idea how many postings I have made in the past 6 or 7 years to this website. They must be in the many thousands by now. So yes, I am not inclined to undertake the probably several hundred hours of painstaking search it would take to just collect the data necessary to satisfy your request, let alone the hundred hours more it would take to assemble it into a coherent form. Are you willing to compensate me for the time it would require? If not, you can google as well as I can. "The internet is eternal."

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Victor: Thanks for the nice words. But since you mentioned my name, I guess I should have predicted that Ilion would have something to say about me.

Ilion:

What "productivity" do you have with Lowder? That you both produce a lot of words (or "hot air") without either ever admitting anything of substance is not what I call "productive".

I know that your question was directed to Victor, not me. I wanted to mention that, for my part, I think my exchanges with Victor have been productive insofar as (1) I've learned that some atheistic objections are fallacious; and (2) I've gained respect for certain theistic arguments (i.e., they're not stupid).

Cal:

If a theist accuses me of being immoral (in the standard ways that we all conform to societal morality, e.g., truthfulness, concern and care for others, reciprocity and fairness, etc.) then I can point to those ways in which this is not true. In short, I can defend my morality -- my ethical beliefs, how I try to adhere to them, where I most likely could do better, etc. I have no problem with this, and I am happy to defend my moral system and my behavior.

In my experience, the kinds of theists who post on sites like this do NOT accuse you of being immoral. Rather, they claim that you have no basis or foundation for morality. Those are two very different claims.

However, if I point out that a religious person's beliefs are ridiculous, your defense seems to be, "How dare you!"

No doubt that many believers "in real life" might respond that way, but I don't think that's representative of Christian philosophers or Internet apologists. Those theists could likely give many arguments for their beliefs.

That seems like a big difference, and I wouldn't blame that on new atheism.

In other words, I can show how an attack on my supposed lack of morality is false.

I don't think that believers can show how their beliefs are not ridiculous.


I wonder if "ridiculous" is an inherently subjective concept. What's ridiculous to you may well seem rational to others and vice versa. I don't find that a very productive way to think about this.

In my opinion, a MUCH more productive way to frame the issue is in terms of "intrinsic probability." I am persuaded by the writings of Paul Draper that (generic) supernaturalism and naturalism have equal (objective) intrinsic probabilities, whereas naturalism is (objectively) intrinsically more probable than theism (because theism is a much more specific hypothesis and so there are more ways for it to be false). But theism is not so (objectively) intrinsically improbable as to be absurd.

In my experience, many atheists fail to distinguish between 'generic supernaturalism' or 'generic theism' from VERY sectarian doctrines, such as, say, the Resurrection or transsubstantiation (sp?). Such doctrines make very, very specific claims and so are even less intrinsically probable than mere theism.

John Mitchell said...

The remarkable thing is that this might be the hundredth call for civility initiated by the author of this blog and the response is always basically the same.

First some obligatory, probably rambling, post from this blog's somewhat disturbed pet. No need to read

Then Cal comes in calling Christian beliefs ridiculous. Yawn

Then comes B.Prokop's 'I'll do you one better' - post cramming a whole bunch of adjectives into a few lines to describe atheism. More than a little over the top.

From then on everything devolves into a discussion between Prokop and Cal that, of course, has to mention the doctrine of the Trinity and that is just as obscure as it is boring.



Oh yeah, in between all that somebody described appeals to civility and reasonable behavior as 'unproductive'
I think the evidence for that is undeniable.


For all his firm belief in and almost stoic insistence on the value of moderate discussion Dr. Reppert's blog attracts some mighty interesting people.

The fool hath said in his heart 'Reasonable people may disagree about the alleged truth of theism'

Ilíon said...

The reader may recall that I'm all the time playing off a favorite the Gnu Atheist (alleged) witticism (*), and saying something like: "'Atheists' don't even get a seat at "the kid's table", they belong on the floor, snuffling for scraps with the other dumb brutes." That is, *until* a man admits to the reality of the Creator, he literally has nothing to contribute to the discussion about God or Christianity ... and everything he says will be offered as a distraction.

As witness, in just this thread alone, the antics of Cal Metzger.

Here is the blogger, Wintery Knight, discussing the phenomenon" Is asking “Am I going to Hell?” a good rebuttal to scientific arguments for theism? -- "I start off by explaining to them scientific evidence for a Creator and Designer. ... But many of these atheists don’t become deists like the honest atheist in the story. Why not?
.
Well, the reason why not is because they interrupt the stream of scientific evidence coming out of my mouth and they start to ask me questions that have nothing to do with what we can know through science. See, evangelism is like building a house. You have to start with the foundation, the walls, the plumbing, the electricity, etc., but you can’t know all the specific details about furniture and decorations at the beginning. But militant atheists [Ilíon: and the "non-militant" ones, too] don’t care that you are able to establish the foundations of Christian theism – they want to jump right to the very fine-grained details, and use that to justify not not building anything at all. Just as you are proving all the main planks of a theistic worldview with science, they start asking “am I going to Hell?” and telling you “God is immoral for killing Canaanite children”, etc. They want to stop the construction of the house by demanding that you build everything at once.
"


(*) to wit: that Christians (or "theists" as some people say) belong at "the kid's table"

B. Prokop said...

"Then comes B.Prokop's 'I'll do you one better' - post cramming a whole bunch of adjectives into a few lines to describe atheism. More than a little over the top."

Actually, I was probably being too subtle there, as no one got the joke. I was attempting to imitate Clark Griswold's rant near the end of Christmas Vacation. ('Tis the season!) Yet another reason why I have no future as a comedian.

Cal Metzger said...

Lowder: "In my experience, the kinds of theists who post on sites like this do NOT accuse you of being immoral. Rather, they claim that you have no basis or foundation for morality. Those are two very different claims."

Actually, theists do both. But it doesn't matter -- my point is that even though I find the insinuation (that my lack of belief is a moral issue) vaguely insulting I don't struggle to refute the claims or show how they are specious. What I am drawing attention to is that when theists like Victor say they find atheist criticism insulting (like pointing out how their beliefs are ridiculous, in the same way that other religious claims are ridiculous), they struggle to refute these claims or show how they are specious. (See Bob's shifting responses above.) I am pointing out that avoiding certain topics is not a problem for atheists, and the insistence on being nice in this matter could also be a way for theists to dodge the issue; if we insist on niceness above all in these discussion, then the heart of the matter could be taken off the table. And I like to discuss the heart of the matter.

Lowder: "I wonder if "ridiculous" is an inherently subjective concept. What's ridiculous to you may well seem rational to others and vice versa. I don't find that a very productive way to think about this."

I wondered the same, and that is why I defined how I meant the term above -- "inconsistent with what we know about reality AND without evidence (whereas, "It's written down in story form" is not considered "good evidence.")" I'm sure we could nitpick that definition, but I think it works well enough for getting at the heart of the problem I am describing.

Lowder: "In my opinion, a MUCH more productive way to frame the issue is in terms of "intrinsic probability." I am persuaded by the writings of Paul Draper that (generic) supernaturalism and naturalism have equal (objective) intrinsic probabilities, whereas naturalism is (objectively) intrinsically more probable than theism (because theism is a much more specific hypothesis and so there are more ways for it to be false). But theism is not so (objectively) intrinsically improbable as to be absurd."

Really now?

I call BS on that. I would imagine that you convince almost no one with that argument. My point being that although you are technically correct, and you should be able to persuade people with that argument, the truth is you really don't. How many times do you have to hit your head against that wall to realize that all you are probably doing is giving people enough room to confirm their biases and rationalize further? And worse, you're providing a veneer of respectability to an unfounded belief system that thrives on confusion, misinformation, and a pretended sophistication.

Don't get me wrong; I am not saying that one shouldn't know how to navigate the arguments you describe. I am saying that those arguments are not truly productive when it comes to changing the mind of your garden variety apologist and those they influence -- not as productive as the other techniques that use social cues, plain language, and avoid pretense.

For every Bayesian explanation describing the unlikelihood of a religion like Christianity, I'd imagine 10,000 people have been deconverted by exchanges that go like this:

Non-Believer: "I don't believe in prayer."
Christian: "Why not?"
Non-Believer: "It don't work."

And that is why I think it's always helpful to go back to the part where apologists try to explain how it is that their beliefs aren't, in fact, ridiculous.


Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

There is much more I could write, but in the interest of time--I really should focus on my day job! -- I am going to comment on just your last part.

For every Bayesian explanation describing the unlikelihood of a religion like Christianity, I'd imagine 10,000 people have been deconverted by exchanges that go like this:

Non-Believer: "I don't believe in prayer."
Christian: "Why not?"
Non-Believer: "It don't work."

And that is why I think it's always helpful to go back to the part where apologists try to explain how it is that their beliefs aren't, in fact, ridiculous.


You seem to think that the dialogue you've presented is an alternative to a Bayesian approach. It isn't.

I'll close with a Jedi Mind trick:

Lowder: (slowing moving right hand horizontally, from left to right) "This isn't the rebuttal you're looking for."
Metzger: "This isn't the rebuttal I'm looking for."
Lowder: "You want to go home and rethink your approach to evidence."
Metzger: (standing up, preparing to leave) "I'm going to go home and rethink my approach to evidence."

B. Prokop said...

"the insinuation"

It's no insinuation. Faith is listed amongst the Virtues for a reason, and it therefore follows that lack of faith is a lack of a specific virtue.

(See here for why Faith is a Virtue.)

"Bob's shifting responses"

Now there's a genuine insult. Just where did I shift? All my comments here are entirely consistent with each other.

"I'm sure we could nitpick that definition, but I think it works well enough for getting at the heart of the problem I am describing.

Damn straight we could! It works well enough for you to so load the table ahead of any discussion that no outcome is possible other than your preconceived notion. How's this for a "tweaking"?

"Ridiculousness is being inconsistent with what we know about reality AND without evidence (whereas good evidence includes physical observation, philosophical reasoning, logic, history and historical documents, art, literature, music, poetry, liturgy, architecture, personal experience, the example of others, a night out under the stars in a dark sky, insight, and revelation)."

How about it Cal, willing to go along with that one? It works for me.

"[Prayer] don't work."

But it does, Cal, it does.

Jezu ufam tobie!

SteveK said...

"Well, the reason why not is because they interrupt the stream of scientific evidence coming out of my mouth and they start to ask me questions that have nothing to do with what we can know through science."

I have similar experiences. Sometimes I'll start with the evidence from science and what science thinks about that evidence, which is this: every natural explanation we've encountered is in need of an explanation.

I realize the above statement is not a fact of science, but rather it's "what science says".

At this point I get a lot of pushback, but my only point (at this point) is to expose the fact that naturalism requires a certain level of faith that goes BEYOND the evidence and BEYOND "what science says".

Science says "I don't know what these explanations are", but the naturalist is saying "I believe they are natural".

Cal Metzger said...

Lowder: "You seem to think that the dialogue you've presented is an alternative to a Bayesian approach. It isn't."

If the Bayesian approach is meant to demonstrate to believers that their belief is fallacious, then absolutely the dialogue I presented is an alternative approach to get to this same conclusion. My dialogue about the efficacy of prayer is made to ask even the simplest of believers to reconsider the evidence -- what they mean by prayer, who or what they would be praying to, what would prevent that prayer from being answered. You see, the approach I present leads the believer to ask themselves some questions (on their own time, where they are less likely to feel compelled to confirm their thinking). I agree that your Bayesian approach should be conclusive, but I can't delude myself into admitting that it most often is not. And that's my point about not pretending that some basic beliefs are, despite the pretend sophistication layered over them, patently ridiculous, and that pointing this out is something we shouldn't be afraid to do.

Lowder: "You want to go home and rethink your approach to evidence."

Um, sure I do. Thanks for the tip.

B. Prokop said...

Whether or not prayer works all depends on what you mean by "works".

The typical atheist challenge on the efficacy of prayer usually assumes that those praying regard God as some sort of ATM machine. Slide your card in, enter your PIN, and voila!, out comes your latest wish fulfillment.

Sorry to disabuse anyone, but that's not how prayer "works" - it's not even what it is. Prayer is an encounter with God. The best description I've ever heard of it was a person who said that prayer was when "I look at God, and He looks at me."

I personally pray (formally) a minimum of three times a day: (selections from) The Divine Office in the morning, the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 PM (the "Hour of Mercy" - look it up), and the Rosary just before going to bed. I regard these times as me telling God, "I'm aware that you're here with me, no matter what happens (or has happened) today," and Him telling me "You're right. Here I am." And I can assure you, my prayer works quite well, thank you.

Jezu ufam tobie!

SteveK said...

Pray Studies: Scientific proof that, under carefully controlled laboratory conditions, God does what God wants to do.

Cal Metzger said...

Prokop: "Now there's a genuine insult. Just where did I shift? All my comments here are entirely consistent with each other."

Okay.

Prokop: "And as for "evidence", well, you've been presented with tons of it, right here on this website."
Prokop: "What you demand simply cannot be presented within the character length mandated by this blog host."

So which is it? How can I have been provided with tons of evidence on this website, but the same evidence won't fit on this website?

Prokop: "The fact that you aren't convinced by it in no way means it isn't evidence, any more than the jurors on the O.J. Simpson trial discounting the DNA evidence means that that wasn't evidence. I.e., the problem is with you, not with the evidence."
Prokop: "So yes, I am not inclined to undertake the probably several hundred hours of painstaking search it would take to just collect the data necessary to satisfy your request, let alone the hundred hours more it would take to assemble it into a coherent form."
Prokop: "If you dismiss all narrative evidence as "just stories" then I cannot help you....I understand perfectly well that "stories" are a legitimate type of evidence, and am serenely content in that understanding."

So which is it? Do you have data (like DNA evidence?), or do you have just stories. And if it's just stories, as in the whole of the New Testament, why would it take you hundreds of hours to point that out?

And that is how you shift your position here. From there's evidence on this website to the evidence wont' fit on this website. From there's all this data that would take hundreds of hours to compile to actually there are really just stories. Just like how theists will say that prayer works. And then when pressed, they will explain that we have to shift our definition of what we mean by "works."

Etc.

B. Prokop said...

"but the same evidence won't fit on this website?"

Oh, it'll fit. Just not into a single posting, which was exactly what I said. I never said it wouldn't fit onto the website as a whole, and I hope you know that. 'Cause if not, then you're either too stupid to continue this conversation with, or you're as dishonest as "im-skeptical" was, who took every opportunity to twist people's words into something that was never meant. Please assure me you're neither of those. Besides, it's already there. Why copy it? You've got google - look it up! Just because you demand something from others doesn't mean they're obligated to do your heavy lifting for you. Typical atheist ploy. Demand the equivalent of a Master's Thesis from someone, and when they don't oblige, they get accused of "dodging the question"!

Cal Metzger said...

Prokop: "Besides, it's already there. Why copy it? You've got google - look it up!"

As I said, you struggle to do what you said you could do, all while insisting otherwise. Why do you suppose that is?

Prokop: "Typical atheist ploy. Demand the equivalent of a Master's Thesis from someone, and when they don't oblige, they get accused of "dodging the question"!"

If the shoe fits and all that.

T said...

I find discussions "productive" when I learn something. Ie: when I gain increased understanding of something, whether it's an argument, a specific topic or just a general sense of where the other person is coming from.

A while back, Victor wrote something along these lines: that basically, understanding each other is what differentiates a good discussion from a n unhelpful one. I agree.

Needless to say that many online discussions (I have taken part in plenty) do not result in more understanding (at least not without a significant degree of acrimony), but that is due to a whole bunch of factors. What I'm personally trying to do now is more swiftly identify the direction of the discussion and simply avoid the temptation to continue discussions that are unproductive.

Cal Metzger said...

T: "I find discussions "productive" when I learn something. Ie: when I gain increased understanding of something, whether it's an argument, a specific topic or just a general sense of where the other person is coming from."

I'd agree with that. I go in and out of what I gain from these discussion. For awhile I stopped altogether, realizing that they didn't do much good in the world.

But I've come back, mostly because I feel compelled to speak out against hypocrisy, inconsistency, and sanctimony. Ultimately, I suppose, it's what we feel compelled to do that motivates us.

Also, I participate because it gives me an opportunity to observe (others, and also myself) and to learn from these observations. I used to learn more when I first started out (regarding the tools of the trade regarding apologetics, or in my case, anti-apologetics), but now mostly I look for rhetorical experience--it's one thing to know why an argument is bunk, it's another to be able to expose it quickly, efficiently, and in a way that the most observers can easily understand.