The Cowboy Who Wasn't There: E-book Companion Site

Monday, January 7, 2013

Ole' Yeller Strikes Again

For the new year John somehow thought it would be a great idea to re-post his "Outsider Test for Faith" with some additional updates. These key "changes" he makes are found in his recommendation for atheist and counter-Christian apologetics literature. And...once again, he isn't shy of speaking highly of his own published works, and putting them at the very beginning of his list of recommendations:

The problem this year is that I have five books published in five years and I cannot resist the supposition that my books are the best, sorry. Wouldn't you?

That depends on the criteria of comparison that is being used and just how intellectually honest a person is, John. It's all too easy to make the argument that your books are the best because they are your books.  And if you were to look at this with an honest lens, you would realize that it doesn't get much more complicated than this. You tell us (the readers) as the author of these groundbreaking books why they are the best. It isn't a matter of asking the readers if they would judge your books to be best if they were in your shoes or if they happen to be fans of your blog (though the only reason anyone could be a serious fan of yours would be for strictly entertainment purposes). What standard are you using to make such a statement? And why should I take it seriously?

In response Christians typically reply to this yearly challenge with their own list of books. So let me state for the record that I have probably read more Christian apologetics books and articles in 40 years then most of them will read their entire lives. So for comparison purposes, if a Christian apologist responds with such a list then tell us just how many atheist books you have read in comparison to me? I'd like to know. I've probably sold or thrown away more of them than you have read. I've probably read 300-350 Christian apologetical works and thousands of articles. 

Again John, you fail to realize that advertising what you view to be accomplishments and things of worthy note are not actual indicators of your credibility or even your smarts. Someone who continually speaks of their educational history in the manner in which you do would know better than to do that, especially if you are a philosopher. And as a philosopher, this shows your ignorance, tackiness, & carelessness that you would even employ such tactics.

Even if what you say is mostly true, none of this shows that you have a grasp or understanding of these read materials. For instance, I have read John Hick and one of my philosophy classes was based largely on his works. Your critique of Hick among other things glossed over some of his core arguments & contentions. So to say that you have read more than the average joe is not something that should be used to impress or inflate...but it is a dead give away as to how desperate & pathetic your want for recognition is. 

You might notice that there aren't any philosophical books on this year's list. That's because I only have respect for a scientifically based philosophy, that's why, although I value philosophy in general.

Another thing to be aware of here also doesn't add to your case when you admit to being an asshole and having limited perspective when at the same time you tout your merits as a "philosopher." How on earth can you manage to criticize someone like Hick with scientific philosophy when their focus is epistemological & theological philosophy? Oh and by the way, I think it would be a really good idea if you decided to become better versed in ethics, because you could use some friend! 

Again, what do you have to lose?

Time & critical thinking skills???


Friday, January 4, 2013

Are Beliefs That Important?

More and more often you see commentators on here that are not of a religious persuasion much like myself. While just about anyone can come on here and post comments at their own risk, more and more of these people mention just how unwelcoming John's DC blog really is.

One comment has recently grabbed my attention:

This guy is making male feminist allies look bad, he's making non-theists look bad by trying to align himself with us, and he's completely undermining his own attempts at calling himself a rational thinker.

I hate to break it to you, John, but you are NOT a friend of feminists and you are NOT rational. You're trying to be a diva when you're nowhere near good-looking enough to get famous for having tantrums, and you're trying to be respected for your IQ while your EQ is pathetic. Grow up. Feminists DON'T want a paranoid whiner like you trying to speak for us.

We've always repeatedly contended that John's blog doesn't live up to its self purported reputation. But it goes even deeper than popularity contests or theological debates. What about the atmosphere of the establishment itself? Is it not peculiar that there is an increasing consensus amongst visitors of this being their experience as posters on behalf of DC?

This is one of the reasons I do not subscribe to the New Atheist Movement, and I'm not even hesitant to say opposed to it. The core argument at hand is a dispute between two different viewpoints and their domination or exterminating the other. Generally Christians and atheists both contend that the other's belief systems have worked as a crippling force to the framework of Western society.

But it doesn't take a large stretch of the imagination or a doctorate degree to realize that this battle is an ongoing one with no end in foreseeable sight. Religion is certainly never going to go away. Secular values will continue to permeate systems of law across the world as we try to accomodate the compliant and the variety of their beliefs & lifestyles. So it is a vicious cycle that will seemingly never end, yet both sides continue to hammer away at each other thinking they are fulfilling achievements & accomplishing important life goals.

A simpler analysis accounting for why we have these problems and their pervasiveness would perhaps be rooted in the psyche of mankind. The wretched human brain. Psychology reveals that no one person is immune to the forces of corruption & mind-altering effects. The differences exist only in the level of susceptibility a person may be exposed too or their biological composition, state of mind & environmental influences. Focusing on the negative/positive influences religious & spiritual beliefs have on the brains seems to be so limited & narrow in scope it is too similar to the mentality of those who would advocate the War on Drugs. Is it really worth our investment to focus our energies on harmful mind-altering drugs when alcohol (one of the three top worst drugs for the human body) remains legal?

By emphasizing what a person does or doesn't believe, we appear to be focusing on the small details of the painting without realizing the bigger picture. What is that bigger picture? Human nature and the human brain will likely offer the most substantial answers we may be all looking for.

Debunking Loftus Is Back

After a hiatus of almost two years time, Debunking Loftus has been re-activated and is now back in the works. Some new projects are going to be underway to address some changes. I don't have any specific details in mind for now, but stay tuned!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

To Be or Not To Be a Choir Boy?


I Am An Unfriendly Not-So-Famous Atheist Who is Not Preaching to the Choir

When it comes to famous atheists (i.e., those who have been on the cover of Time Magazine as but one example), many Christians will attack their work and them as people. When it comes to atheists who are not so famous, whether or not many Christians attack their work and them as people depends. It depends on whether or not they are considered friendly or unfriendly to Christianity, and it depends on whether or not they are "preaching to the choir." I find that there are several books written by unfriendly non-famous atheists who preach to the choir that get many glowing reviews from other atheists but are ignored by Christians because they don't consider their works to be informed.

I am an unfriendly non-so-famous atheist who is not preaching to the choir. ;-) So my work and person gets attacked more than other non-famous atheists. I would hope atheists would understand this. Many do.

Actually John, to your own credit you are semi-famous, but I think you try to say that you are "not-so-famous" so that you will actually convince people you are a humble person. Lee Strobel and Matt Wittelberg both mention on occassion and know you by name. So you do have a celebrity, you're just more along the lines of being the Tom Cruise of New Atheism.

And you're not "preaching to the choir"? REALLY? How exactly do you have anything groundbreaking to offer people? Many people including myself haven't seen anything new. You spend more time piggy backing other people's celebrities (atheist and theist) to make a name for yourself or to get your face out there. How is that not preaching to the choir?

You write books where most of the content is written by other people, and yet you still pass yourself off as the main author. You're not preaching to the choir, John?

Your OTF argument is your brand name for an argument that is fairly common amongst anti-theists. You know John Hick after all, I have one of his books for a philosophy class I'm currently taking. In his work Philosophy of Religion (which was published in the mid to late 1980's) he writes: "If I had been born in India, I would probably be a Hindu; if in Egypt, probably a Muslim; if in Sri Lanka, probably a Buddhist; but I was born in England and am, predictably, a Christian...Thus Hume laid down the principle "that, in matters of religion, whatever is different is contrary; and the that it is impossible the religions of ancient Rome, of Turkey, of Siam, and of China should, all of them, be established on any solid foundation."" (pg. 110). David Hume lived in the 18th century, Johnny boy. What's that about you not preaching to the choir, again?

Wait...stop. He's absolutely right. He's not preaching to the choir because the majority of his audience are people who (as I like to say on one of my other blogs) prefer to wear the words "critical thinking" as a fashion statement rather than acknowledge it for being an individual pursuit that can take many different shapes and forms.

Monday, September 12, 2011

John the Seer

"Human beings will evolve into different sorts of creatures, perhaps like the Na'vi of James Cameron's movie Avatar. Then the Bible will clearly be an antiquated book. The salvation of the human race and the incarnation of the second person of the trinity will have no relevance for the creatures we are yet to become. Christianity will fall into the dustbin of history just like all other dead religions. Too bad this assured end is far off into the future. But it WILL happen, just as assuredly as I am writing this today in the year 2011." - John Loftus' prediction for the future fate of Christianity, as can be found here.

I guess John's enchantment with high-budget CGI blockbusters has caused him to believe that there is some truth and reality to the fictional universe of James Cameron. What really sticks out to me as an eye-opener is this bit: "Human beings will evolve into different sorts of creatures...." Yes, evolutionarily speaking, and if you are convinced that everything should still be in place for that long, we will at some point evolve into "different sorts of creatures." But John gets the strange notion that we will eventually end up like an alien species of tall blue and stalky tribal people. Hmmm......

I'm not even exactly sure what such speculation this seems to serve or to what good productive informative purpose this post is directed towards. What is the point? A million different things and outcomes could occur. Who is to say we won't be wiped off the planet before the next thousand years pass? Quite frankly unless we have some sort of imminent knowledge and the resources to act, who cares?

And by stating that the Bible "will clearly be an antiquated book" does John mean to say that it will be regarded as a relic or as a piece of meaningless garbage? Of course we can probably place our bets on the latter, but I would personally "predict" that the Bible will continue to be known as a renowned piece of literature (at the very least) for millenia to come.

In his emotional plight with his "Christian" past, John seeks to mainly give Christianity a bad name almost to the point of speculating and downplaying Christianity's end. Of course religions have come and gone but the unique thing about Christianity and indeed modern times are a few things to be noted:

1. For one thing, it is almost undeniable that Christianity has been perhaps the most influential religion in the world for the past two thousand years.
2. Its influence on the world whether by European colonization and conquered land or through modern technological means and networks such as the internet have given it a global-wide presence that has been unlike any other religion in known history.
3. Given population growth, the rich historical influences Christianity has had on almost every Western nation and civilization in existence, and its global presence through technology and extensive membership is likely to ensure that Christianity will remain a permanent piece of civilized history, however long civilization should prosper.

Even in the event that Christianity should "fade out" in its "validity" or membership does not necessitate that it will be forgotten or even merely regarded as just another "dead religion." Again, John's speculation here comes from wishful thinking. It would seem his past has clouted his objectivity that what he once accepted in his mind is simply unacceptable or most definitely will be for the rest of the living world.

But it seems to me that while people like Loftus would like to hope for the downfall of the Christian religion, reality will paint a different picture. The best indication anyone has of the future in this instance is that Christianity will likely remain a part of mankind forever in some shape or form, even if it loses its institutional endorsements.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Don't Say We Haven't "Told You So"

Remember when I made the prediction that John would continually fall for his own formula with such predictability? A while back I had posted this before John went ahead and decided to work on The End of Christianity:

Books of this type of nature are very much reflective of their titles, and this is intentionally so. John's premise for The Christian Delusion is to quite simply demonstrate that Christianity is based in delusional thinking, not an accurate assessment of reality. Just as well, The End of Christianity is meant to imply that Christianity is a dying movement.

But wait, Sam Harris' book The End of Faith is of the same exact vein. So what grounds does John have for claiming originality or the production of new contributive works?

Is this ultimately the best John has to deal out? The title of his next book might as well be Christianity is Not Great: How Christianity Distorts Everything. This is all in an attempt to divert attention away from the original publication of where this title (and subsequently the premise) is based from, and it seems as if John is fulfilling this predicted line of reason rather unsurprisingly but in a manner which already adds insult to self-inflicted injuries. Sort of like how Stephanie Meyers writes a series of books about old concepts and mythological creatures yet can't get it together to the point of where the story is actually engaging to the reader, or why the reader should even care to begin with. In simpler terms, what does John bring to the table that can't be found elsewhere?

This I posted a week ago right around when John revealed the time that The End of Christianity would finally be published:

It's a sheer disappointment John can't present a work that doesn't:

A. Piggy-back the publications of other, more well known celebrity figures.
B. Start from a point of reference that isn't initially reactionary or an attempt to strongarm the opposing side.

Let's face it though, this is what we have gotten in the past and this is what we are going to receive from John. His whole purpose here is to go out on a limb against Christianity (at least, that's the tentative purpose and it works on the assumption that his blog truly deals with such). Make no mistake my readers, this will be an ongoing pattern to come.

And now:

Hmmm...right before John releases his newest book, he starts work on another (again, with the title derived from a atheist figurehead much more widely known and respected than himself). Is this not an indicator of immense desperation?

Eventually John will run out of inspirational material and will be forced to come up with something from scratch. The question is not whether this is a likelihood or a possibility, but if John has the capacity to execute this task when the time comes.

Does John have enough to muster an offensive force by himself, like he would have you believe? I suppose in John's mind the rapid rate and frequency by which these books are published would communicate to the world that John is a formidable opponent in the academic world. He can take on anything. He's dedicated to the finish and he won't rest until he sees things through.

He lays out his "goal" quite succinctly on the home page to the site for The End of Christianity:

My goal as an atheist author and editor is to help provide the intellectual underpinnings of the New Atheist movement with regard to the Christian faith. As best as possible I plan on leveling broadside after broadside after broadside against the Christian faith in hopes that together we can help sink the good ship Christian in this century. As a former evangelical myself I also wish to introduce my evangelical friends to these skeptical authors.

I think skeptics who are genuine critical thinkers would beg the question: If John's books are based on other people's books which have the intent on changing the mass' minds in regards to religion and faith, then what good do these books serve?

If the books John pens due to their ability to incite inspiration already effectively achieve the objective of demonstrating to many that religious faith is a bogus scam, why does John need to get out there and "contribute" in such a manner? If John needs to do this, then there should be at least one individual out there for every single religion known to man, right? We need an atheist or former believer to write books attacking Islam and the same goes for Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, paganism, voodoo, Judaism, Anglo-Saxon Norse mythology, etc., etc., etc.

Realistically, we are faced by more of a threat from radical Islamic terrorism than we are any other ideology at this point, and on a world wide scale. This is almost indisputable fact. Is the religious right in America a problem for our political system? Yes. Does the Religious Right manipulate and deprive people of their finances and quality of life? Arguably so. These problems do exist and are concerning. But they are not to the extent of such forces as Al-Qaeda, who will stop at nothing to see our climactic demise.

So with that said, I say John is doing a greater disservice on behalf of the community than he is doing a service. In essence, he offers nothing that his audiences aren't most likely already convinced of and are aware about. It's just that many of them would rather cling on to a published work which reaffirms these beliefs more and more and more. That's it in a nutshell.

And as far as John goes by being diplomatic with those he desires to persuade, it seems that he is again reluctant to acknowledge his own vices:

As I see it, John is utterly and direly confused my friends. He confuses competitive teen-like angst as constructively handling his relationships with others and thinks that he is helping to fortify houses by toppling bricks on top of roof tiles.

We can only wonder if and when John will ever learn his lesson.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Motives of Disingenuousness

I'm not a fan of going on a full out crusade against an individual (unless of course, you were Osama bin Laden, prior to getting shot in the noggin ;)), and it's certainly no one's business to point out whenever someone gets caught lying or trying to commit other such "sins" on a 24 hour basis. Some people (like Arnold Schwarzenegger and yes, even Mel Gibson) need to be accepted for being human and thus imperfect.

Almost consistently we have attempted to outline a framework detailing the motives of John Loftus. I'm not a fan of Freudian psychoanalysis either, and despite the claims and suggestions of some who have posted here in the past, I'm not obssessed with John Loftus as a subject of study. No, my intent is on unveiling the true substantiated contents (if they could be called such) which are an extension of John Loftus' bodies of "work", so to speak.

That means if John Loftus is going to lie to make a point about an organization that lies to get their way, I would like to clear things up for people that aren't going to notice it at first. This is not based on an opinionated bias as John has admitted in the past (and sorry, you'll need to search through our archives if you're not familiar with the information I'm alluding too) that lies and deceptional tactics are irrelevant to what the goal or objective is. In that sense, John is very much of a utilitarian mindset.

As regulars have probably noticed whenever I log on here I catch a glimpse of news over at Debunking Christianity, just to see if I could venture even slightly into new material for this blog. Sure enough, I found another post in which there are glaringly loose ends that need some serious fastening:

I am against sexism, most emphatically, without any doubt at all. In fact, one of the main reasons I do what I do is because of what religion has done and continues to do to women. I argue against religion for that reason alone. There are a lot of women bloggers for which I am truly thankful. But it seems as if there are few women scholars to link to in the blog world. Several of the ones PZ Myers links to have not yet earned a college degree, or they have just entered into a master's program. Oh, I know, the women atheist scholars of tomorrow are with us today in training, so yes, let's encourage them by all means. But where are the women atheist scholars of today? We need your voices more than ever. Help us, please. We are mere men.

It seems to me that anyone with basic brain functioning would easily pick up on another pattern John has used, and it's no surprise it deals with partial truth (in essence, constituting lies). Is this really why you have a bone to pick with Christianity John? Doubtful. You've blamed your devestation of faith on a woman you chose to have an extra-marital affair with and you hardly own up to any responsibility on your part. Yet you are seriously suggesting that the reason why you are opposed to faith is because it promotes sexism?

For argument's sake it would be a pleasant luxury to actually trust what John relays to people myself included. But it seems he is only capable of producing face-palm tragedies.

Honestly John, what do you really hope to accomplish with this?

Enlightening others to the realization that Christian is false?

Promoting your name to establish a legacy amongst the New Atheist movement?

To alter the cultural perceptions of "religion" as you would call it?

To convince people that atheism is more of a beneficial philosophy to the mind and body of the individual than theism is by comparison?

These goals are more distinct than I think people would like to acknowledge, especially with regard to the culture wars. And more like a professional politician, it would seem that John will make as many stabs as he can at issues which have little to do with each other and string them together to rally support for himself and the establishment of his own legacy. At the end of the day, as has been established in numerous different contexts and in the not-so-distant recorded past, it still stands to reason that actions speak louder than words.

I am not a prude, nor a feminist (at least in a strict sense), and I am not suggesting that John is a mysognist. But this is fishy to say the least, as are most of John's claims about similar issues. John, you cannot essentially put the responsibility of your deconversion on a seduction which you did not have the willpower to overcome and then expect to at the same time be a champion for the cause of female atheists. Because if your deconversion is based mostly on the actions of women that were involved in your life, how can you be combatting religion on the basis that it is sexist against women? Isn't accusing Linda (your partner in the affair) of being nearly wholly responsible for that point in your lifetime sexist by itself?

John and friends miss the point when I bring such things to light in that they will no doubt interpret this as a mallicious strawman or ad hominen tactic. But this is important to discuss nonetheless. If John is truly concerned with being open, honest, truthful, and rational with his intended audience, he would address these issues at some point. Unless he makes the assumption that they are too stupid to figure these tidbits out for themselves.

And of course, if the latter is true, it is not enlightening to suppose that this would make John out to be more like the enemy than even he himself realizes. Suppose that he addresses sexism in order to illicit ranks from an additional demographic that he has only had slight affiliation with in his writing career. If that is the case and he thinks he can get away with this without being caught, then he would indeed be more of a sexist than he would probably be willing to admit.

And while we're at the heart of this therapeutic breakdown, we might as all well be asking John one simple direct question:

Can you tell us how you really feel?