Thursday, October 28, 2010
It's nice to know that with all the serious problems with alcoholism in this country -- the broken homes, the fatal and dismembering auto accidents, the abused spouses and children, the climbing rehabilitation costs, and so on -- John is once again setting a fine, sober example by bragging about how "sauced" he was at one of those freethought meetings. How 'bout it, John?
"Who, me? HIC!"
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Quote of the Day by a Christian Named Marcus McElhaney
By John W. Loftus at 8/27/2010Uh....but who was it who said in defense of his "Outsider Test" that the main sign of whether you pass is that you come to believe the same things John Loftus does?
" Emory and Greg, I concede that the Bible is indeed confusing...to both of you! Other people don't agree with you[r or] Greg's thoughts on how confusing the Bible is. Maybe you just need to study harder."
This quote is utterly ridiculous to the nth degree. If we study harder then we'd come to Marcus's conclusions, right? Right! With thinking skills like the ones Marcus displays here at DC, no wonder he believes. If Marcus is the example then we need to be almost brain dead to believe.
The more John talks, the more he helps us out!
Monday, August 16, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
So how about we do a feature like that here -- only each day, it will be something profound by John?
Let's see -- how about this one?
"I'm sorry but it's very hard for me not to just lash out at you with all kinds of phrases that indicate your very low intelligence level."
Or this one?
"You are an idiot. Anyone who will take the time to read through the thread “Is There Such a Thing as an Honest Doubter?” Will see that. I cannot discuss anything with you because you simply cannot understand a mildy [sic] complex argument. You shouldn't even be on this website until you finish your high school level degree. Anything I say gets twisted by you (probably this post as well), so there isn't even a basis for a discussion at all, and I have better things to do. If you were even a half-wit thinker you could answer every one of the questions you asked of me. "
Or even better:
"I recently noticed another blog that apparently started up in March which is very critical of J.P. Holding, here. I personally do not like Holding, but I'm probably not going to waste my time on him, except to point out what others are saying about him."
Maybe the best of all though:
"Seventh commandment? What seventh commandment? It's not clear."
Well, OK, that wasn't a direct quote, but still...
Anyway, Cowboys Who Talk Through Their Hats is coming along nicely. You'd think John would try to make it harder on us....
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
It just so happens that I've picked up on another trait of John's that is common with his DC articles, and this time it is a matter of self-referencing. In an effort to look smart and creative, John coins some fancy schmancy term that has been probably been used elsewhere in the past or is a rip-off of something he most likely found in a philosophy book. Anything to make himself look like he is actually a doctor in the subject. But that is neither here nor there...
The more enlightenment John has to shed about the Animal Kingdom the more and more convinced I become that John just might endorse the animal rights extremist group, PETA. What reasons do I have? Well...
- John advocates that a "perfect" hypothetical world would be one without any predation, where every living being (excluding plants of course) would be vegetarians.
- John obsesses on animals, and continually points to the Animal Kingdom as a source of argumentation against the theist worldview.
- John assumes that the emotional displays and gestures of animals are almost exactly the same as humans, hence:
- John comes up with some rinky-tink term like "The Darwinian Problem of Evil" with many several philosophical errors. First off, do animals have a concept of evil? Do they even view suffering in the same way that humans do? If they don't, then there is no "problem of evil" because it does not apply to animals who are without a concept of good and evil.
There is no beating around the bush that humans are animals just like non-human animals are animals. We share what are called sets of basic instincts. But beyond this, it is not surprising that our minds work differently because of our occupational niche'. Believe it or not, the niche' is what in turn molds us into how we look at the world. If this were not true than it would not be the case that the American economic system has been able to pick itself up even in the midst of crises, such as the one we are currently facing now. In America, people are allowed to build a career out of their passions, in turn offering vitality and strength to the American economy. When concerning matters of evolution, you must never disregard the niche', it is a powerful driving force.
On some common denominator animals can relate to us and foster connections even if we are a different species, such as dolphins having the altruistic ability to save drowning household pets. But again this is almost purely reliant on basic and natural instincts. Keep in mind as animals we share the same genetic code as everything else in life, but what makes the difference is how our genes are expressed, i.e., how they conform to our environment.
If we were to take John's philosophical argument seriously even for just a minute, what would stop us from feeling sympathy for flies and insects when we kill them? What about ants? Spiders? Ticks?
And just like PETA, John assumes that animals have a concept of morality in the same sense that humans do, despite that almost no non-human species out there uses reason or logic to their advantage. Just as PETA suggests that animals out to be treated humanely, without thinking of what it means to be humane.
"Why do they suffer so much if a perfectly good God exists?"
Oh, and, another thing, how do animals suffer in the human sense, John? Do apex predators suffer or something?
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
"I don't know much about Loftus or Holding.
...From what I can tell Holding has been at this for more than ten years and yet he's still less than a small fry. He appears to be an unrepentant internet bully and cheap insult artist
...Your left handed "Loftus is worse" defense is pretty darned shallow. Especially for a self-important anointed man of God.
...Maybe his piddly little ad hominems and backdoor character assassinations are keeping him right where he belongs. Dancing to the same old worn out children's song.
Again, I'm not very familiar with either of them but unlike Holding, Loftus seems to have learned a lesson. He's getting some positive attention. That must get Holding's ample panties in big old bunch."
Doing only the slightest of research and objective measuring of the issues doesn't seem to serve very many people all that well these days. So instead of reciting the same old collected evidence point for point, I am now issuing a challenge to all of those who would rather take Loftus' side than ours, and would rather trust in his judgment rather than actual rationality.
So now it's time to issue our own "challenge" to those of you (and you know who you are) in the audience that are inclined to such a backwards perception. Apparently you guys take the time of day to post on this blog with your comments, surely it must be important enough for you guys to prove to yourselves whether or not Loftus is the lesser of the two "evils."
Put aside your viewpoints, philosophies, and biases for a moment and actually try striking up a challenge to how John runs the show. It's that simple. You owe it to yourself and would be doing a disjustice if you didn't do so. You might want to ask John exactly what he means when he says he isn't insulting the disabled, when he does in fact bring up derogatory references to disabled people not once, but in fact, twice.
Fundamentally speaking, however, only those who are not completely swayed by Loftus' rhetoric will be capable of successfully partaking in the challenge. This is especially geared towards those who choose to sit on the fence and must decide for themselves. The issuance of this challenge is not meant to garner endorsements from participants. It is to hear what your experiences are afterwards. If it can be substantiated that John Loftus is a morally good and sane person, then feel free to show us, then you may lather us all you want with accusations of character assasination and the like.
Until then, as it is often said in these here parts, "put up or shut up."
Oh, and, here are some resources you can use to guide you along in the process:
Procedures of Moral Justification
The Will Theory Approach
KNOWLEDGE, JUSTIFICATION, AND TRUTH
Monday, August 9, 2010
Featuring James Patrick Holding of Tektonics.org, Nick a.k.a. "ApologiaPhoenix" of TheologyWeb, amongst many others old and new.
The follow-up and subsequent entry to 2009's "The Cowboy Who Wasn't There", this time serving as a reponse to one of Loftus' latest releases, The Christian Delusion (early 2010).
It’s become clear that James McGrath, who wrote an ill-advised endorsement of John’s book The Christian Delusion, has a wee little problem with the practice of truth-telling. What we mainly have here is someone who doesn’t tell the whole story and then behaves like the child who has been caught pocketing Skittles at the five and dime. I’ll comment on a few other things as well.
McGrath: I was astonished at the level of ire from someone with whom I had never exchanged e-mails or otherwise communicated at any previous point. Is it just a sign of my old age that I think people would normally be properly introduced before attacking one another?
I don’t know about “old age” but it is definitely a problem of narrow perspective. This idea that you have to be “properly introduced” before you can go critique people’s work is a peculiar fancy, one that seems designed to shut down deserved criticisms by hedging them in with a host of contrived rules and regulations.
McGrath is a person with a public record (as am I). I attacked/addressed nothing but the contents of that public record: His book, his endorsement of Loftus’ book. The contents of these things are hardly of insufficient depth for a criticism to be unwarranted.
For years I have been “attacked” by atheists who have never “properly introduced” themselves (whatever that might be defined as this week). I never complained of it on those terms once. Nor have countless other apologists, whether Christian, Mormon, etc. I can’t imagine Daniel Peterson of FARMS, for example, making such a transparently contrived excuse. He and I have had our moments both ways, but neither of us has complained that the other had not been “properly introduced” to us.
If McGrath can’t stand the scrutiny of being a public figure who issues comments on matters of public interest, he should stick with Twittering and stop writing books and book endorsements.
Throughout history, criticism has been leveled by perfect strangers against one another. Jesus and the Pharisees did not hoist beers together before Jesus let them have it. Paul didn’t sit down for hot dogs with the pro-circumcision party before he blasted them. From the other side of the fence, Robert Ingersoll certainly didn’t sit down with the authors of the Bible before he wrote all of his works taking them to task.
McGrath needs to stop making up rules that are obviously designed to stop him having to endure the rigors of criticism.
I found it particularly ironic because this individual's main complain (sic) was that, by suggesting that Christians could learn from reading a certain book by multiple authors that presents atheists' viewpoints, I had associated with a person (the editor of the volume) who is, in this apologist's words, ‘of such disreputable character.’ Since when did writing something like this (just click through and search for my name) constitute an endorsement of the behavior of a volume's editor?
McGrath here is hiding much of the truth. I did far more than simply point out the disreputable character of Loftus with a mere vague phrase. I gave some rather concrete examples – this is exactly what I said in the email:
Your endorsement of John Loftus' latest book, The Christian Delusion, is something I found exceptionally disturbing. Apart from the fact that the quality of the arguments he and his crew produce is exceptionally poor, he is an unusually despicable character who has an extended track record of dishonesty. He is willing to do anything to promote or justify himself; in particular, he debated a friend of mine on an online forum, whom he afterwards derided as a
‘handicapped Wal-mart clerk’ after the consensus emerged that he had lost the debate. He gave his own earlier book a glowing 5-star review on Amazon, which he later erased, and later denied having written. That is just the tip of the iceberg and not the worst of it.
I can forgive McGrath for not realizing that TCD is composed of poor arguments, since it is clear that he isn’t much of a critical thinker himself. But he has continued to refuse to acknowledge the specific serious moral lapses of Loftus that have been presented to him, both in this message and in subsequent postings by others on his blog. This is not honest.
If McGrath would simply have replied to my email by saying:
“I was not aware of these things. Thank you for bringing them to my attention.”
..it would have been enough. But no: He has chosen the route of disingenuous self-justification instead.
As for the last bit, I have never directly said that what McGrath wrote was an endorsement of Loftus’ behavior. However, it may as well be in practice.
Generally, it is recognized that when a person is of a certain level of moral degeneracy, they are supposed to be isolated and cut off from normal human interaction. To use an extreme example for illustrative purposes, no one with any moral sense would write an endorsement of a book written by Pol Pot, even if it were on the subject of tomato gardening. The excuse would not do (as McGrath tried) that the purpose was to encourage others to listen to others’ viewpoints. As I also pointed out to him, but to which he has never replied:
Good point about listening to a range of atheist viewpoints. How about you next write one for say, Kenneth Humphreys, so that we can have a ‘useful opportunity’ to ‘listen to a range of viewpoints’ about how Jesus didn't exist? Better yet, there's a UFO cult I know of that would love to have others get a "useful opportunity" to "listen to a range of viewpoints" about how we can all get a UFO ride to Paradise. Can I put you in touch? And if you're really bold, maybe Prometheus can get you to write one for one of their X-rated videotape guides. A lot of people find those ‘viewpoints’ to be ‘useful’.
In a nutshell, McGrath here puts utilitarianism above moral consideration. The only real question is whether Loftus has done enough to be placed in the category of a moral offender serious enough to be shunned.
He is no Pol Pot of course, but major figures have been shunned for far less serious offenses than denigrating the disabled publicly, or creating fake blogs. (Funny too: McGrath is on about those who conduct “anonymous” criticism on the Internet – that’s exactly what Loftus did with his fake blog about me.)
McGrath: Or do we live in an era in which, before writing a blurb for a book, one is expected to first spend time searching the internet for evidence of inappropriate behavior?
To put it in a nutshell, yes. The Internet has made it possible to do this, and it takes no more than five minutes – McGrath spends more time than that on Twitter each month. He also has a huge blogroll listed, and a huge list of “interesting sites,” as well as offering listings of interesting blog posts he is reading. He can’t take a few minutes from this busy, important list of tasks to check out the background of someone for whom he is writing a book endorsement – one that will appear in a book that will be purchased by, say, at least a dozen people? (wink)
Perhaps all of this chatter on McGrath’s blog is a sign that McGrath has become one of Foreman’s “pancake people” – “spread wide and thin, as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button.” In that case it is quite understandable that he is not up to the task of being a responsible information broker.
In this day we have even fast-food employers scouring online looking for prospective employees’ Facebook pages. When it comes to responsibly brokering information, we should expect no less from a reputedly serious scholar like McGrath.
If we're supposed to search online and get to know those we interact with, then there is still further irony, since it was clear that this apologist had never read my blog (since he sarcastically asked whether I would endorse someone who says Jesus does not exist.)
How would this make any difference? McGrath wrote the endorsement for a book of atheists, which implies that he didn't have any objection to writing endorsements for books he had such wide disagreements with. His lack of epistemic consistency means that I have no reason to think he would never endorse a Christ-myth book. Even a direct profession that he would not wouldn't prove he would not at this point.
I’ll leave McGrath’s further comments about alleged hostility aside; I have some comments on those on TheologyWeb, save to point out that McGrath isn’t really succeeding in obscuring his own passive-aggressive hostilities. His own posting is an act of “war” by his own definition. Just because he decorates his gun with perfumed flowers doesn’t mean he isn’t shooting to kill.
Bottom line though – it’s not hard to see why he wrote an endorsement for Loftus. He has the same problems telling the whole truth.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I'll be starting my own rebuttal of The Christian Delusion next month, but meanwhile, here's one written by the team at Triablogue. This is a descriptive blog post; there's a link to a PDF of the 250+-page rebuttal within.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Reality Check: What Must Be the Case if John Knows Anything about Debunking Christianity?
I hope the majority of you like it.
More to come.
Though it's not usually the case (like with everyone else) that they will come out and say something which may be revealing of one of their weaknesses/vices in a such a way as it is impossible to conclude otherwise, it requires very little psychoanalytical effort to examine the meaning behind many of John's assertions. There is also no difficulty in assuming that we can take on John's perspective for just a second, to see that his claims and his viewpoint leave us with only one dead end: John just doesn't care about true authenticity of genuine sincerity.
Not surprisingly, others have made observations of John's weaknesses in his methods of attack. Someone (presumably Christian) writes to John's blog saying he needs to deal with intellectual "heavyweights", something John seems eager to dismiss:
In my opinion there are no heavy weights for Christianity just as there are no heavy weights for Scientology or Islam or Orthodox Judaism or Hinduism. It's all improbable to the core and I see no reason why one religious myth's scholar is any better than another.
Oh, and did I mention logical inconsistencies, as well? We can clearly see this being the case, that John does disregard Christianity as superstitious nonsense and won't even bother dealing with its various shades. It's all stupid and without merit. Period.
But somehow John seems bent on debunking it. He seems bent on ranting about William Lane Craig and clearly has an obsessive interest.
Again, why John, do you insist on debunking something that is stupid and outdated and superstitious in the first place? Aren't you preaching to the choir when you do this? You don't even want to handle the complex arguments being put forth in defense of Christianity. You admit to this.
But when the opportunity arises for showmanship, you can guarantee John arrives to the scene. He eagerly and hastily flaunts his debates with notable Christian figures like Dinesh D' Souza. He wants to broadcast his name in show lights. He cannot deny this.
There is no mistaking the fact, however, that John admits to his intellectual laziness, even if he doesn't think so:
My specific target audience is conservative "Bible believing" fundamentalist evangelicals. In order to do an effective job of debunking religion one must specialize, you see. So I do. Since I know the most about Christianity I focus on that. And even that's not specialized enough. The Christian religion is too large to take aim at because no matter what I write there will always be Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, or liberals who will come along and claim I'm not saying anything against REAL or TRUE Christianity--their version of it.
My goal is a negative one. I aim to push evangelicals off dead center so they will have to start thinking for themselves rather than proof-texting from an ancient canonized set of barbaric and superstitious writings. While I do point Christians in the direction of atheism I leave it to others to take up where I left off. Keep in mind that I'm not ignorant about liberal versions of Christianity. I was once a liberal myself after leaving evangelicalism then drifted toward agnosticism and ended up being an atheist.
John W. Loftus
John reads our material? NO WAY! Far out, dude!
It's funny though, John, just how intellectually lazy you are and everything. Let me see if we can put to test your claim of how "specialization" is required to debunk a set of kooky beliefs:
Reality Check: What Must Be the Case if Christianity is True? (#28)
That God's punishments are good, right, and just, even though it means sinners are thrust into a surprisingly dangerous world and in death will be blindsided by an eternal punishment in hell, which is "Christianity's most damnable doctrine." In this world how do you think human beings first learned that venomous creatures like certain kinds of spiders, snakes, ants or scorpions could kill us? People/children had to die, lots of them. How do you think human beings first learned that polluted water or lead poisoning could kill us? Again, people/children had to die, lots of them. It was inevitable since God never told us what to avoid in order to stay alive. We had to learn these kinds of things firsthand. The same thing can be said for hell. People do not know their choices will send them to an eternal punishment in hell. For if we knew this, and if it was possible not to sin at all, we wouldn't sin. Do you doubt this? Then consider that if you knew with certainty that by crossing a line drawn in the sand you would get beaten to a pulp by a biker gang, you would not do it!
Now personally speaking, based on my lack of life experiences and short-lived time here on this planet, I can say that I know of NO evangelical non-denominational apologist who would agree with this in any sense that it is being said. No apologist I have ever read has argued along this line of reasoning, but rather, the exact opposite. From my knowledge of general Christian apologetics, the argument goes that those ignorant of Christianity cannot be held accountable for their particular beliefs, even if they run counter to Christian theology.
Time to add some meat to those bones, girly man...
Friday, July 2, 2010
Hmmm. John is a self-promoting narcissist who treats women badly, thinks he's cool, and chooses black as his color theme....who does that remind you of in the cartoon world?
Dang. I think I have an idea for a new comic series...
Friday, June 25, 2010
The point? John is coming out with another book like he promised us all. It's none other than a follow up to his latest work, and is merely an expansion of what he's written thousands of times in the past. What I mean to convey here is that John's venue of attack lacks tactical professionalism. It's unoriginal. It's redundant. It's a cash-cow franchise.
Just like Twilight, John compiles together a book from the simplest of resources at his disposal to pass off works like WIBA, The Christian Delusion and his upcoming latest, The End of Christianity.
Previously I had elaborated on how The Christian Delusion is unoriginal in and of itself, and now, it seems, John is continuing down the same erroneous path deliberately ignorant of these criticisms in what he sees as beneficial (yet realistically damaging) to his cause.
Again, the title of the book. In the post I allude too here I had pointed out that The Christian Delusion is perhaps John's own specialized version of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion. John probably doesn't want to hear this, but he ends up doing the exact same thing with his new book.
The End of Christianity, John? Why, where have we heard of such a title before? Does Sam Harris' The End of Faith ring a bell?
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?
Well our friend John, are you capable of finding a way out of the rat's maze?
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Without going through the painstaking yet unbearable simplicity of quoting John word for word and then providing commentary, I'll just paraphrase here. It's not like much of anything we haven't heard before, but John is once again rambling about how Christians say he is ignorant because of his atheism and because he broke away from the faith and believers just can't accept that. Well...
A fundamental error in this calculation is that John neglects there are non-Christians who will call him on his ignorance, like myself. So if there are criticisms of John's ignorance coming from non-Christians, then John is in trouble.
It's not even as though John proves that he isn't ignorant, so what reason do we have to believe him when he says he is not? If John makes a statement generalizing about world religions such as "there isn't a single religion that I know of that has a nebulous god" that is an example of IGNORANCE. Hinduism is one religion that comes to mind where Brahma is a very nebulous deity force.
So the conclusion then is that John is simply ignorant of his own ignorance. And we could beat it in his head that his blog doesn't really offer anything different from a Joel Osteen type church: It relies on personal testimonies, pleads for money donations, and literally rants in circles with little to no new material. Just like your typical cash cow church.
Will John ever realize this reality? Chances are probably not, because if John were to realize his own ignorance, the existence of Debunking Christianity might be never more.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Many people will get the impression that because this website is run by myself and JP Holding, who has assisted me in most of my major web projects thusfar, that I am probably a Christian myself or that I am part of what might be considered the 'typical' TheologyWeb mindset. I'm here to put these myths to rest to establish what the purpose of this website is and why it is important. Not that I haven't done this before, but this takes on a slightly different degree of shading.
The issue of rampant and unjustified censorship on the part of the TheologyWeb forums has generated a great deal of complaints in the past from both atheists and Christians, as well as other theists. The management behind TWeb has all the right in the world to impose restrictions it sees fit, but the point is that many of TWeb's rules are just flat out ridiculous, and in saying this I am making explicit that I have no official endorsement of TWeb's policies nor do I agree with many of them. I am primarily referring to TWeb's restriction on citing sources that may contain profane or extremely offensive language, even if it is not directly quoted within the citation. For a website like Theology Web, it is noble to uphold standards that make the site "family safe", however....
The internet is the internet. My generation and those to follow are literally surrounded by electronic devices and the conveniences the internet now provides that didn't even exist more than a decade ago. TWeb fails to account for the accessibility of information across a wide range of topics, and it's always important to remember the internet does not filter its own content. It is what it is. Ultimately it is the responsibility of one's self or their caring social environment (i.e., family and friends) to dictate whether or not someone should have the means of accessing adult materials or coming across "profane language" even it will indeed threaten their wellbeing within the respective environment.
Think about this for a moment: If profanity is of such a concern to upholding family values, then maybe it is time to consider whether using a keyboard contributes to anything positive for families to begin with. How far would universities get if they were to instill standards limiting students and faculty to quoting and citing references authored only by individuals who have never made any known offensive statements in their work and in other related entries?
No message board that exists has the capacity to do a complete background check and to verify the age of a user who has several different ways of remaining anonymous. It's silly and completely unreasonable to restrict the citation of sources which may contain "adult" language, only because somewhere down the line, someone who shouldn't be exposed to such intense materials will discover them out of a type of rebellious nature. Prohibition, anyone?
There is perhaps some truth to the statements about non-Christian discrimination at the TWeb boards as well, even though in most cases they stem from the bickering of individuals that have certain extremist strides within them, and seek only to be divisive and difficult to deal with. I am not one of those individuals. But I am one of the many who has been slapped on the wrist many times at TWeb for committing arguably petty offenses. "Blasphemy", (a crime of which I have been apparently guilty of) can consist of simple postings phrased in manners such as these: "Oh my God! etc., etc., etc...." Yet to classify these as blasphemous is without logical merit. It is not being charitable to the intent by which the words were arranged within the post, and it unreasonably demands that individuals of a different belief system act according to a religion that doesn't apply to them or that they would otherwise never adhere too in their daily lives.
Many of whom I would call my bretheren on sites such as these hail from TWeb and may even call it their cyber home. But make no mistake that much of my activity is limited on the forums simply for reasons such as these and more. My blog was created to assess and evaluate the rationality behind the mindset of such prominent philosophies such as the ever-growing New Atheism, more specifically a blog which has gained popularity within the New Atheist movement. Being the founder of this blog, I want to make clear that I do not take sides with the management or concept of TheologyWeb, just as I do not take sides with the management or concept of Debunking Christianity. My motive can be derived from a philanthropic desire to spread the true faculties of reasoning onto the rest of the world, but doing so in a conservative fashion. Yes, I am a political conservative, but I am also for the progression of ideas and the betterment of a society. I refuse to side with the extremists. I do not endorse extremist viewpoints, whether they are generally maladaptive and harmful or if they simply mistake censorship for righteousness.
It should also not go without mentioning to say that individuals who venture onto cyber-space should not be allowed free reign to the extent that potential predators and unwanted websites and organizations start retrieving information and or gaining control over your computer and confidential data contained therein. But these are simply matters of the law, and the law is different from aspects of ethics. The law in the simplest of terms can only be used as a successful tool for maintaining order and structure, it cannot be used to control and to persuade. Those are determined by the willpower of the individual alone.
As a prospective philosopher the world must be acknowledged for what it is, and I do not doubt for a second that various world perspectives, whether religious or political, can come to this understanding and find commonality. The world has always had its dark aspects in reality, but we are now living in a time where globalization has a overwhelming involvement with about 98% of our daily activities. We can no longer expect ourselves to resolve our crises and overcome challenging obstacles by giving into our egos and letting our ideologies rule our lives. Now is the time to come together in a true and fruitful manifestation of progressivism. We cannot let the future become a world where the majority will profess logic but will disregard ethics as lovey dovey nonsense. We also cannot override logic with our emotions. We must seek the doctrine of the mean. If you do not seek balance in virtue, then the only expectation is that you will seek out vice.
Going back to TWeb I fear that it misses the degrees of extremity and contextual meaning behind certain things much in the same way that Loftus is blinded by his own embitteredness that on some level he is unable to recognize his highly flawed arguments or even his own condemning hypocricy. For TWeb, it is much like a parent restricting a child from having any exposure to nudity as if nudity was the same as pornography. Many TWebbers would undoubedtly be quick to point this out as being an extreme and misrepresentative analogy on behalf of the policies established by TWeb management because it is not as though the people at TWeb are oblivious to such things. But this point still remains: You cannot strip reality of all of its horrors and truths, because as soon as you do, you only set yourself up for delusions and a mentality of fear.
Places such as TWeb and Debunking Christianity may attempt to be forums of open and healthy exchange, and even while TWeb is the lesser of two evils (in a more or less sense), it remains that both are unfortunately based in insecure fragility. Period.
Friday, April 23, 2010
I’m honored that some college professors use my book Why I Became an Atheist (WIBA) in their college classes, like Dan Lambert, at John Brown University, and Richard Knopp, at Lincoln Christian University, as I mentioned earlier. I’m also honored that David Reuben Stone has decided to write a book against WIBA, called The Loftus Delusion. While I do not like the title of the book, which is misleading for a few reasons, including the fact that Stone does not deal at all with my most recent book, The Christian Delusion (TCD), Stone's book is a respectfully written one.
Would John like to tell his audience what is misleading about the book's title? I mean John, aren't you delusional?
To reiterate, isn't someone who denies evidence contrary to their claims in delusion? Like this, for example?
Now I do actually agree that the book is a little misleading. Take a look at it briefly and you'll see that the book, at least from the subtitle on the cover, addresses issues pertaining to Messianic Zionism vs. the New Atheists. That is perhaps misleading. But it is not misleading to rebut John on his assertion of possessing whatever special knowledge and insight is required into debunking the Christian faith.
Because John is far from qualified from debunking or arguing anything worth serious consideration. Instead, John offers arguments about a hypothetical world in which every living being was a vegetarian and we were all created to be pacificistic flower-frollicking hippies which is somehow to be automatically assumed as a perfect universe that only a perfect sovereign creator would spawn into existence.
Yep, that's about it as far as John's intellectual depth goes.
The question we ought to be asking here is not if the book actually backs up the meaning of its title. What we ought to ask is whether or not Loftus is delusional and if this can be verified outside of any published materials. And we certaintly think it has and can be verified and always will be verifiable.
Stone considers his book “the definitive critique of the anti-Biblical atheism of John W. Loftus” (seen on the back cover of his self-published book). [And to think, people don’t like my self-promotion ;-) ] Is he right? Not even close. He asks me for a response to his critique in the interests of a “charitable dialogue” that “could benefit us both in our search for truth" (p. 162). Okay. Here goes, very briefly.
And look, it didn't take long for us to spot something. John clearly seems to think people like myself have a problem with John because he promotes his own works. WRONG. The more accurate response is that we anti-Loftuscites don't approve of dirty political tactics in order to promote one's book. We don't appreciate an obsessiveness with oneself and trying to make themselves sound like an objective third-party source. And so on.
So John, its time you learned how to grasp that concept and actually come up with something real and supportive. Instead of trying to oversimplify the issue, you could say "People don't approve of my methods" and you might actually have a leg to stand on.
But then again...
Stone begins his book with a “newly discovered mathematical proof” of a critical component of the intelligent design (ID) thesis in chapter one (which can be seen on Amazon). Don’t get me wrong here. I can do the math. It’s just that it takes time to work through it; time that I must think is worthwhile if I’m going to want to do so. It’s just that I have lots of reasons for thinking it’s not worth it, so I didn’t. This chapter is the kingpin of his whole book. It’s Stone’s natural theology. If he’s right about it then he seems to indicate the rest of his case follows. If he’s wrong then his whole case fails. It’s that simple.
John is in the right here but can he apply this argument introspectively? John's book Why I Became an Atheist would rely entirely on John's personal testimony of his experiences managing churches and related groups. So, if John at first states that his reasons for leaving the faith are unconventional and did not rely on reason, John cannot state the exact opposite ahead of time:
"...Some former believers rejected their faith based upon the evidence itself. My initial arguments for rejecting the Christian faith are not the same ones that others have had..."
"Nearly two years later, I came to deny the Christian faith. It required too much intellectual gerrymandering to believe.."
So, does John's case rely on his personal experiences or on his ability to interpret evidence? If John can't make up his mind, does he even have a case?
He criticizes my “Outsider Test for Faith” (OTF) and proposes an alternative called “Stone’s Test Of Neutral Evidence” (STONE). He criticizes the OTF for arguing for on behalf of skeptical agnosticism rather than for neutral agnosticism. He thinks we should be neutral agnostics rather than skeptical agnostics. Rather than starting our examination of the evidence “from above” with the assumption of God, or in starting “from below,” with the world, STONE argues we should start “from the middle,” even though he grants with me that “utterly pure and complete neutrality may be impossible to attain with respect to all belief systems.” (p. 73) Now this is all high sounding rhetoric, but rhetoric it is. It’s the democratization of extraordinary miracle claims that Bob Price criticizes so effectively in TCD. Stone, just like Boyd and Eddy in The Jesus Legend, wants us to take seriously all claims no matter how bizarre or outlandish so they can smuggle in their own extraordinary Christian claims. This so-called middle position of theirs is a strange land to stand on. They never started on this piece of ground in the first place. No, they were born into a Christian culture and accepted what they were taught to believe in this culture. There is no middle position. Human beings are not Spockian type creatures. We are given our religious worldviews. They are inherited; caught, not taught. The question the OTF asks us is how can we properly test the ones we were given. Given the fact that we are born into them, and given the fact that the odds are that ours is wrong from the geographical distribution of religious faiths, we should test our handed down faith with skepticism.
This is what John would call a "case study in cognitive dissonance reduction" because he seems to be incapable of answering the mounting criticisms there are against the OTF and why its limitations are perhaps its greatest weakness. If high-profile institutions such as the CIA relied on John's material for guidance instead of intelligence research, we might all be dead by now:
Saying that religions are merely by-products of enculteration is narrow-minded and ignorant. Sociologically speaking, we can view religions as various different items within a collective marketplace. Individual "consumers" pick and choose what religion or religious ritual best fits into their own lifestyle. Predominantly religious countries such as India are starting to make economic progressions and are realizing their place in the world despite having been affected by the detrimental caste system for many thousands of years. If John were correct in his thesis, then we would suspect that nations which are predominantly religious have little to no hope of ever improving their status on a worldwide scale. And yet they do, and will continue to do so. The notion that even theocracies are permanently static in their progress is a cariacture itself. The Islamic world can be credited with many advances in practical fields such as algebra, and yet the Islamic world has been dominated by a strict adherence to ritual and and a constant reverence for Allah since its inception. In fact, Islam is the only religion, according to comparative religion scholars, that delibrately fuses politics and theology with each other.
Oh and, in deductive logic, theism and atheism are both positions rooted in what is known as the Appeal to Ignorance Fallacy.
The most amazing thing about Stone’s book though, is that after he argues against my skeptical control beliefs he dismisses the second part of my book in ten pages (139-149). He says so. “Loftus’ unjustified Biblical perspectives may be dismissed due to their logical grounding in those unjustified controls beliefs.” (p. 139). The second part of WIBA criticizes the Bible and its foundational miracle claims and doctrines. For instance, since he thinks he’s undermined my skeptical control beliefs then without so much as trying to answer my arguments with regard to the atonement he basically says that since my control beliefs have been shown wrong I am unjustified in rejecting the doctrine of the atonement.
Ahhhhhh.....now I get it. Materials exist which finally do get at addressing what you bring up in your book, but they're obviously not good enough because they never got to "part 2"!
John, John, John, you are no logician. You use equivocation, appeals to ignorance, red herrings, straw men, and amphibolies to make your points about 98% of the time you make an "argument." If you were to specify what you meant by certain terms in the context that they get used, or if you were to elaborate on what it is you are actually trying to say, people would take you less seriously than they already do now. And of course, you and I both know this. Which is why you rely on logical fallacies rather than on true sound reasoning.
Wait just a minute, Stone. I was once an insider. The second half of the book describes why I could not remain a Christian GIVEN a believing set of control beliefs. It’s the considerations of the second half of WIBA that caused me to reject the Christian faith and led me to my skeptical control beliefs in the first place. So until or unless you actually deal with the arguments in the second half of my book, you have done nothing to support your natural theology project. And until you actually flesh out for us what it means to treat all religious truth claims “neutrally,” as you claim to do, then you must examine in detail the arguments in the second half of my book. You cannot merely say that with your neutral stance you would accept these biblical doctrines and claims. That’s NOT being neutral, you see, or very critical as a thinker. You need to show us from a neutral starting point why you would accept the claims of an incarnation, the atonement, or the resurrection, and you did no such thing.
Again, its time to place the microscope back on yourself, Lofty. No one else can or should have to do that for you. When it comes to actually coming up with something tentative, your primary tactic is to beat around the bush.
So John, from what I can tell, you do not acknowledge the evidence that is out there contrary to your assertions. You make no real attempts to address the criticisms of what you believe to be your most well constructed and hard-hitting arguments. When you've been backed into a corner, rather than man up to your flaws, shortcomings, and wrongdoings, you will divert the attention onto someone else, something else, or change the subject entirely. You are an individual that prefers to plug his ears when he is removed from any hint of the shadow that is their comfort zone. You are, quite evidentially, delusional.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Fallacy #3 - Appeal to Unreliable Authority
Definition: This would apply to someone who is actually a biologist pretending to be an expert in physics and so on. However, the fallacy itself also extends to those who rely on themselves to be an authority on things not objectively measurable.
Example: Case in point:
As with John's last work, Why I Became an Atheist, he offers a review of his own book for the second time in a row:
I really like this book. Dan Barker recently described it as a "powerhouse of a book" in an interview he did with me. It is. And not just because I compiled it and wrote four chapters for it. Let me explain why.
Notice, that much of the remaining review contains little to no substance about the book's actual content. Observe:
The book was made to have eye appeal. It just has a good look and feel to it. When holding it in your hands at 422 pages, it makes you see that there is a lot of information in it for the price.
Nothing could be more explicit to how pathetic the book itself probably is. This is like giving unalienable authority to the KJV Bible because of the elaborate designs on the front cover.
The authors are experts in the areas they write about. Let me give you a few examples. Who is better to write a chapter arguing that Christianity is a cultural phenomenon than cultural anthropologist David Eller? Who is better than psychologist Valerie Tarico to write on Christian belief and cognitive science? Who is better to write a chapter on Biblical cosmology than Ed Babinski, who has spent years studying this topic? Who is better than Biblical scholar Hector Avalos to write a chapter on the barbaric tribal God of the Old Testament? Who is better than Robert Price to write a chapter on what we can know about Jesus? Who is better than Richard Carrier to write a chapter on the resurrection of Jesus? The three last chapters in the book on morality by Eller, Hitler by Avalos, and the origins of science by Carrier, are each by themselves probably worth the price of the book.
These are all subjective statements about the quality of content in John's book. They make no critical analysis or assessment as to why we should believe the contributors offer more than their own slanted bias when coming into the framework of things. This is also a perfect example of another fallacy: Begging the Question - "X is true because X says so." Circular reasoning, as it is more commonly identified. The conclusion is the same as the assumption, and there are no other reasons to suggest or think otherwise. We have no other standard in this review to assess the credibility of any of these contributions other than John's heresay and those already convinced by the writings of these individuals. It does nothing for the individual interested in gaining a fresh new perspective.
And the flow of the book is good too. Most skeptical books dive right in on the arguments. But not this one. In the first part of the book we show how believers first adopt and defend their beliefs. We show that believers are not rational to accept what they first learned in this Christian culture on their mama's knees. Jason Long shows in his chapter how believers cannot reasonably think they have truly examined their adopted faith. And I close that part out with the Outsider Test for Faith, in what I consider my most mature defense of it ever.
We've examined the Outsider Test for Faith on here before, and have pointed out its anadequacies. Mainly, the problem with the "test" itself is that it leads us to the inference that someone can separate themselves from their culture to the point where beliefs are non-existent. Otherwise, if this is not Loftus' intent by crafting such a "test", then it remains that because someone happens to be Muslim because they were raised that way, it is irrelevant because of several different possibilities and explanations:
1) Not everyone raised in a particular culture is destined to believe in their cultural ideals and childhood background for life. Indeed, such cases arise where a Muslim may convert to Christianity, and vice versa.
2) Differences in cultural beliefs do not automatically lead to the conclusion that anyone who might have a belief based on their cultural background is necessarily wrong in their belief, just as they are not necessarily right by appealing to their culture.
Then there are the many glowing blurbs from Christian as well as atheist/agnostic scholars to be found on the back cover and inside pages. Here are three of them:
From Dr. Michael Martin, professor of philosophy emeritus and author of The Case Against Christianity and Atheism: A Philosophical Justification:
"John Loftus and his distinguished colleagues have certainly produced one of the best and arguably the best critique of the Christian faith the world has ever known. Using sociological, biblical, scientific, historical, philosophical, theological and ethical criticisms, this book completely destroys Christianity. All but the most fanatical believers who read it should be moved to have profound doubts."
From Dr. Dale C. Allison, Jr., author of Resurrecting Jesus: The Earliest Christian Tradition and Its Interpreters:
"Forget Dawkins. If you are looking for a truly substantial, well-informed criticism of the Christian religion, this is your book. Defenders of the faith will do believer and unbeliever alike a disservice if they do not rise to the challenge and wrestle with the thought-provoking arguments of Loftus and company."
From Dr. Keith Parsons, Professor of Philosophy, University of Houston, Clear Lake, and author of the book, God and the Burden of Proof:
"For nearly two thousand years apologists have striven mightily to show that the dogmas of Christianity are rationally defensible. For much of the Christian era critics have sought to debunk those apologetic claims. In that long tradition of criticism, there can have been few works as effective as The Christian Delusion. The essays are incisive, rigorous, and original, shedding new light on old issues and boldly exploring new paths of argument. The selection of topics is outstanding--at once both comprehensive and innovative. For fresh insights into an old debate, The Christian Delusion is strongly recommended."
Much more credibility is afforded to the review based on these excerpts. However, John closes with:
I think every skeptic who wants to understand Christianity and/or who argues with Christians should get it. I think every Christian apologist worthy of the name should get it. I think every believer who is having questions about his or her faith should get it. And I can only hope every devout believer will get it too.
"Worthy of the name"? To what John may be referring too, we cannot be certain. This could be constured in terms of how popular and well-liked someone is, but it says nothing about the truth value of their arguments or if in fact they tell the truth.
That's enough for a while now. Hope you've all enjoyed this so far. But alas, I have more important matters to attend too.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
John's credentials amount to three master's degrees (an impressive feat, no doubt), but they are nonetheless irrelevant to whether or not John actually qualifies for having a doctorate-level understanding of his subject matter, which John seems to claim he has on the basis of these master degrees.
In giving John the benefit of the doubt, we'll suppose that John is a philosopher who can hold his own. Yes, on many on the many instances we've cited before it has been shown not to be the case. But we will temporarily assume that no such instances exist, or have been taken out of context. In this series, we will employ a set of methodologies using the tools and resources John least expects of us, most of which come out of a very important philosophical discipline.
There is no more of an effective manner to demonstrate John's grasp of a field in which he either professes to apply quite extensively in his arguments than to test his materials against the basic and bare minimum principles of logic. For the sake of categorization, I may decide to make other "series" evaluating the depth of Loftus' arguments when they apply to other philosophical disciplines such as ethics. For now, we will just cover a few examples of where John fails to live up to a logical and reasoned mindset. Some minor but important issues we will need to clarify before we get going:
Statements: "There is a purple whale in my backyard that eats chickens."
- This can either be true or false.
Arguments: Collections of statements. Hence:
- Arguments are not of true or false value because the statements which make up arguments are either true or false in and of themselves. The coherency of the statements and their relation to each other either lead to validity or invalidity. A completely valid argument (one in which all statements are true and guarantee the conclusion that follows) becomes a sound argument.
We will begin this series with some brief information on the informal fallacies often committed when trying to make arguments. I'll start by using a fairly recent example and how perfect it is in showing how invalid and non-sequitir John's argumentation really is. For the second time on this blog, we'll use John's article God, Sex, and the Orgasm as a "case study":
Logical Fallacy #1 - Equivocation
Definition: Equivocation is a fallacy because it creates ambiguity. It refers the "double-meaning""of a particular word even when that second meaning does not apply directly to the word itself, or the context in which the word is being used.
Example(s): "The power of the orgasm is so strong it motivates some married people into infidelity; some men to rape women; some Catholic priests to direct these urges toward molesting children..."
Being a Catholic priest does not by necessity mean that you go out and molest children. In fact, why can't this example be used in regards to other religions? That's only because Catholic priests have been the ones most commonly identified in our culture for gaining notoriety for child molestation. But in this case it is inappropriate and unwarranted, because John could just as well have said "The power of the orgasm is so strong it motivates...some (child molesters/rapists, etc.) to direct these urges toward molesting children..." which would have been more to the point and indeed, supportable. Neither Catholic priests nor child rapists are motivated solely through orgasm, and it may be based entirely a control factor, such as deriving pleasure from a moment in time in which they are dominating someone or something that lacks basic autonomy and a willpower to resist their advances.
"So why did God make our sex drive so strong? Why didn't he make the the orgasm less pleasurable? The pleasure of the orgasm is just too strong as it is. We all know this. With an evolutionary hypothesis this is what we'd expect to find, for our sex drive is good for the survival of our species. But under a theistic hypothesis it makes no sense."
Here is a perfect example of where John should know better. Had something been used by a creationist and it went along the lines of comparing evolution with theism, John would have ridiculed it for confusing matters of dichotomy. Theism and evolution are completely different categories and trains of thought. Evolution by itself does not imply atheism, and many atheists (including John) would argue this. Comparing the two does not provide for a consistent logical formula.
Fallacy # 2 - False Dilemma
Definition: The positing of a premise that sweeps away any other possible alternatives. Considers the situation at hand to be a matter of "either X or Y, but nothing in between." Basically the foundation for all extremist and black-and-white thinking.
Example: "If the pleasure of the orgasm was reduced there would be fewer sex crimes, and less infidelity. Or, the orgasm could've been created so as not to be pleasurable at all. God could've made the sex drive to be something of an instinct where we only want to do it when we want children, and then also created our desire to have children periodically. If this is what God had done instead, then with divine commands to populate the world, heterosexual people would only have sex for the purpose of bearing children in fulfillment of his commands, and that's it."
Sadly enough, this is highly inadequate reasoning.
1) First, John infamously assumes that "Without X, there would be less Y" without taking into consideration various other variables which may contribute to sex-related crimes.
2)Also consider that if the orgasm drives many to commit sex crimes, wouldn't the orgasm be some sort of instinctual drive towards sex-fulfillment? Sex crimes are often a means of gaining control based on psychological studies of many serial rapists. Having sex is not the main motive for going out and raping another individual.
3) If the orgasm was made to have no pleasurable incentive, then why create the "orgasm" to begin with? Even in such an implausible hypothetical world, without some sort of incentive the "drive" itself would be totally useless and hence, not a drive of any sort. Certainly not one which could be used for procreation.
4) John also argues that God could have created a world in which heterosexuals would only have sex for breeding purposes. But why stop there? Why would God allow the existence of homosexuals if orgasm and sexual desire only led to reproduction? Homosexuals would never have the desire for sex, thus homosexuals would be non-existent (therefore, the use of the prefix "hetero" would be unnecessary).
That's all for today folks. Stay tuned for more additions. ;)
Over on TWeb, I'm conducting a poll on whether I should put together a rebuttal to John's new book:
Come on over and cast your vote. As of this moment, the yea votes outdo the nays by a sliver of one cipher.
It'll really tick John off and may even send him once and for all to Arkham for treatment. Just check his promo post on the book. You'd swear that he was taking it to bed with him every night and cuddling with it. (Cigarette, John?)
It'll provide great entertainment.
It'll take some time to compose a rebuttal. Say, 3-4 days all together. After all, it's not like John or his friends have anything new to say, and his contributors include some of the nuttiest people on the planet, like Jason Long and Dan Barker and even Hector Avalos.
John will take it as a sign that his book is so good it is in need of rebuttal. Of course, John has this way of putting "spin" on any reaction to his books such that it means something good. If Norman Geisler used it as toilet paper, John would consider that as a positive because it meant Norm was so engrossed in the book that he was even reading it while he was on the toilet. With John, if you rebut it, it's because it was so good it needed rebuttal; if you don't rebut it, it's because you were scared to do so and knew it was unbeatable.
Naturally, John is quite deluded to think such a thing. It remains that I've had absolutely ZERO requests to rebut John's book, and as noted in a prior entry, the same could be said of one of the world's largest apologetics ministries. In contrast, I've received dozens of requests to refute Zeitgeist. Apparently, if we use John's logic, Zeitgeist is a better rebuttal to Christianity than anything he's written. How 'bout that.
Of course, there's a mediate position too, which I plan to use if the vote ends in a tie, which looks possible right now.
I can always turn the rebuttal over to this pretty face....
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
So why is chocolate such a powerful motivator? It's not like we need it. We just want it. The power of chocolate is so strong it motivates some thin people into obesity; some kids to waste allowance money; some chefs direct these urges toward disgusting recipes like chocolate-covered ants; and it drives the candy and dessert industries, including Betty Crocker cookbooks.
Chocolate just does not look like something that a divine being would create. It is way too powerful of a motivator. The three masters of suspicion, Nietzsche, Marx and Freud all argued respectively that the three motivators in life are Power, Money, and Sex. But they forgot to add chocolate. Yum. (SNARF, chew chew chew chew….burp.)
So why did God make our desire for chocolate so strong? Why didn't he make the taste less pleasurable? The pleasure of chocolate is just too strong as it is. We all know this. It can’t possibly be my own self-control that’s the problem. With an evolutionary hypothesis this is what we'd expect to find, for our desire for sugar energy is good for the survival of our species. But under a theistic hypothesis it makes no sense.
If the pleasure of chocolate was reduced there would be less obesity, and less health problems. Or, chocolate could've been created so as not to be pleasurable at all. God could've made the desire for energy to be something of an instinct where we only want to do it when we want energy, and then also created our desire to have energy periodically. If this is what God had done instead, I wouldn’t have to hear all that crap about me needing to behave myself, have self-control, and having to do something about all that unsightly drooling. It’s God’s fault. I’m not the least bit responsible.
Moreover, the urge for chocolate seems to be too strong for most of us to overcome it. So why would God create us with this powerful urge and then make it so we got fat and unhealthy if we gave in to the urge too often? I mean, is God nuts, expecting us to actually control our behavior? To consume too much chocolate certainly involves gluttony, does it not? But Jesus is found to prohibit gluttony. What about eating too much chocolate? What's wrong with that? Most people in today's society, even Christians, eat too much of it at times and barf all over the carpet, like I do. And what about diabetics, and people allergic to chocolate? Why would God create this strong urge for them and also make it so they can’t eat it? This too makes no sense on a theistic hypothesis.
Hey, I'll even bet all this talk about chocolate will cause some readers to do a search right now for a chocolate bar in the pantry, even Christians. Say it isn't so. Christian, you go to the candy store. Yet you feel guilty about it. The problem is that any prohibitions that make you feel guilty about this do not come from God.
The bottom line is, God is an idiot if he expects us to actually monitor our own behavior and become responsible on terms of the management of our health and welfare. If He really existed, He’d encase us all in plastic bubbles and never let us out.
Now excuse me, I’m going to go stuff myself with an 18-wheeler’s worth of “Special Dark”.
Monday, March 29, 2010
They've had as many as I've had -- ZERO.
The hilarity of this is that for the longest time on TheologyWeb, John was boasting about how we'd better be sure and refute his book, because we'd be getting a lot of questions about it.
We didn't. Not one.
This apparently hit John in the ego pretty hard, because despite his profession that I could now be "safely ignored" he just HAD to respond to the above on TWeb:
BTW: That's a good thing. My books just might be sleepers and change many minds before a leading apologist decides to deal with them. You are clueless about the impact they can have to my target audience: Christian university students.
Um, no, John. Both myself and this other ministry hear from plenty of "Christian university students" -- and not one has asked us to refute you. NONE. Though several I hear from do consider you to be a really bad joke -- especially after that heroic showing you put in against D'Souza and Wood, where you sounded nearly as you characterized that guy as being with a disability, which you made fun of some months back. (Remember, the story on that is at http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?t=132208.)
The reality is that for anyone who knows apologetics well, and who knows atheist arguments, John has had nothing new or special to offer since he first popped into TWeb and made a fool of himself. He seems to think his latest volume does better, and has managed to convince a credible Christian or two to say so, but having already seen the names of the contributors and what they write about, I know better -- and so does everyone on TWeb who has seen John's postings. You can be sure he wishes he could erase that sad chapter in his career, but it's going to come back to haunt him again and again.
We'll make sure of that.
I wrote a full refutation of John's last book, by the way, and have had all of (cough) ONE person ask for it by a special order -- and they asked for a lot of other stuff I had, too.
Will I write a refutation of this one too?
Chances are....I (and some friends) already have -- because John has never had anything to say that hasn't already seen the light of day.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Worst of all, John has already revealed that most if not all of his rails against Christianity are directed at conservative and fundamentalist crowds, not any type of sophisticated theology or Christian philosophy. If John is trying to persuade the masses that fundamentalist and ultra-right wing Christianity is bad for society, then he has already attained victory. But once you start breaking away from the typical Christian soundbites, cliche' remarks, and outdated arguments, then Loftus is probably without any limbs to stand on. In fact, if you have deviated from most of Loftus' attempts at convincing you how great his arguments are by addressing the things he almost never brings up, you quickly discover Loftus is without a starting platform.
Why should I even begin to point out that the "Why faith fails" premise is a stupid one? If Loftus, like so many others, defines faith as "believing in things without evidence", then why is he writing books supposedly full of substantial evidence to disprove the validity of faith?
One could say that The Christian Delusion is an unclever takeoff on The God Delusion which seeks to demonstrate the delusional precepts of theistic beliefs, just as John is trying to do with Christianity.
My predicition is that when push comes to shove, nothing contained in The Christian Delusion will provide any insight. It is a rehashing of sentiments put forth by those much more experienced than John, and perhaps it is the case that John knows this. There is nothing wrong with making a name for yourself: That is the American dream. Yet, it is wrong to sell something you probably know doesn't work to someone who is expecting a lot more in return. No ethical person is a snake-oil salesman.
So, much like how McDonalds calls its food "nutritious in value" and how Taco Bell tries to pass itself off as the new Subway, we can probably state with reasonable expectational standards that The Christian Delusion is another repackaged remake of things that stood out much more in the past than in the present. More people are apt to have the iPhone than any other smartphone out there, but that doesn't stop Google from making its own product, albeit slightly fashioned after the Apple's original design. Hence, an apparently obvious principle of marketing is that you can't get people attracted to something they expect is already in existence in terms of function and intended purpose. Instead, you take concept A, dress it up, make a few rearrangements to it, and then pass it off as concept "B".
DC post link: http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2010/03/christian-delusion-books-have-been.html
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Why Do My Arguments Not Convince Devout Believers?Apparently, Loftus is too dull to realize that was he is saying here is that his arguments are most persuasive when people are in a state of mind that is not calm and rational. You have to be afflicted by some sort of emotional turmoil -- at a time precisely when your critical thinking and objectivity is at its lowest -- to be convinced by what he says.
I merely offer up good arguments against their faith. That's all I can do. Devout believers (my target audience) won't seriously consider them until such time as they have some sort of crisis in their lives that cannot be adequately explained by a good God. They'll seriously consider them at that time. My arguments are like seeds of doubt ready to sprout if and when they experience that crisis. Since many believers do experience some kind of crisis in their lives there will be a certain percentage of believers who, having been previously exposed to my arguments, will leave their faith at that time. It's a waiting game.
Well, that's what we've been saying all along, isn't it?
Saturday, January 30, 2010
I was thinking of doing my own post on this topic. I have heard Christians say Pat Robertson is a moron for suggesting the Haitian disaster was a divine judgment for too long now. No, they are the morons. Pat Robertson represents Christian tradition, not them, as Dawkins said in a Washington Post column:
Haiti and the hypocrisy of Christian theology By Richard Dawkins
We know what caused the catastrophe in Haiti. It was the bumping and grinding of the Caribbean Plate rubbing up against the North American Plate: a force of nature, sin-free and indifferent to sin, un-premeditated, unmotivated, supremely unconcerned with human affairs or human misery.
The religious mind, however, restlessly seeks human meaning in the blind happenings of nature. As with the Indonesian tsunami, which was blamed on loose sexual morals in tourist bars; as with Hurricane Katrina, which was attributed to divine revenge on the entire city of New Orleans for harboring a lesbian comedian, and as with other disasters going back to the famous Lisbon earthquake and beyond, so Haiti's tragedy must be payback for human sin. The Rev. Pat Robertson sees the hand of God in the earthquake, wreaking terrible retribution for a pact that the long-dead ancestors of today's Haitians made with the devil, to help rid them of their French masters.
Needless to say, milder-mannered faith-heads are falling over themselves to disown Pat Robertson, just as they disowned those other pastors, evangelists, missionaries and mullahs at the time of the earlier disasters.
Loathsome as Robertson's views undoubtedly are, he is the Christian who stands squarely in the Christian tradition. The agonized theodiceans who see suffering as an intractable 'mystery', or who 'see God' in the help, money and goodwill that is now flooding into Haiti , or (most nauseating of all) who claim to see God 'suffering on the cross' in the ruins of Port-au-Prince, those faux-anguished hypocrites are denying the centrepiece of their own theology. It is the obnoxious Pat Robertson who is the true Christian here.
Where was God in Noah's flood? He was systematically drowning the entire world, animal as well as human, as punishment for 'sin'. Where was God when Sodom and Gomorrah were consumed with fire and brimstone? He was deliberately barbecuing the citizenry, lock stock and barrel, as punishment for 'sin'. Dear modern, enlightened, theologically sophisticated Christian, your entire religion is founded on an obsession with 'sin', with punishment and with atonement. Where do you find the effrontery to condemn Pat Robertson, you who have signed up to the obnoxious doctrine that the central purpose of Jesus' incarnation was to have himself tortured as a scapegoat for the 'sins' of all mankind, past, present and future, beginning with the 'sin' of Adam, who (as any modern theologian well knows) never even existed? To quote the President of one theological seminary, writing in these very pages:
"The earthquake in Haiti, like every other earthly disaster, reminds us that creation groans under the weight of sin and the judgment of God. This is true for every cell in our bodies, even as it is for the crust of the earth at every point on the globe."
You nice, middle-of-the-road theologians and clergymen, be-frocked and bleating in your pulpits, you disclaim Pat Robertson's suggestion that the Haitians are paying for a pact with the devil. But you worship a god-man who - as you tell your congregations even if you don't believe it yourself - 'cast out devils'. You even believe (or you don't disabuse your flock when they believe) that Jesus cured a madman by causing the 'devils' in him to fly into a herd of pigs and stampede them over a cliff. Charming story, well calculated to uplift and inspire the Sunday School and the Infant Bible Class. Pat Robertson may spout evil nonsense, but he is a mere amateur at that game. Just read your own Bible. Pat Robertson is true to it. But you?
Educated apologist, how dare you weep Christian tears, when your entire theology is one long celebration of suffering: suffering as payback for 'sin' - or suffering as 'atonement' for it? You may weep for Haiti where Pat Robertson does not, but at least, in his hick, sub-Palinesque ignorance, he holds up an honest mirror to the ugliness of Christian theology. You are nothing but a whited sepulchre.
The entirety of John's post can be found here: http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2010/01/richard-dawkins-on-haitian-disaster-pat.html
What I'm about to follow through with will address the views of Loftus and Dawkins directly. The issue of "hypocricy" might seem convenient given that most Christians today have little vested interest in the laws of the Old Testament. But in order to sift through the context in which Pat Robertson made his remark, we shall have to look at the picture as a whole:
If you listen to Pat's words closely enough, you will notice that he deliberately makes a comparison between Haiti and its neighboring islands. He blames Haiti's misfortunes on its voodoo practices. Unfortunately for Robertson's logic, most if not all of the Carribean islands and their neighbors are guilty of practicing some remnant form of voodooism. In light of this, you have only two options:
1) Pat Robertson speaks out on a topic he knows very little about (as always).
2) Pat Robertson is trivializing the tragedy in order to make his movement more widespread.
All theology aside, there is no hypocricy on behalf of Christians for pointing out Pat Robertson's misconduct here.