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

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Maybe He Needs an Outsider Test?

John just committed unintended irony #5,764,382 with this one...

Quote of the Day by a Christian Named Marcus McElhaney
By John W. Loftus at 8/27/2010

" Emory and Greg, I concede that the Bible is indeed 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.
Uh....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?

The more John talks, the more he helps us out!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Another Moral-Cesspool "Christian" for Loftus

And be sure to check out Stark's reply, which sounds an awful lot like something Loftus would say. Separated at birth?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Quote of the Day by John Loftus

John seems to have decided to turn himself into one of those goofy desktop calendars over at DC, as he posts some "quote of the day" from some rabid fundy atheist friend of his that he no doubt thinks is somehow profound -- which is a way of saying, it's something he might not even understand, so he's impressed by it.

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

John Loftus for PETA?

"Since human beings have evolved from the lower animals we would expect the lower animals to exhibit some of the traits we have developed more fully. There is plenty of evidence they can remember, have emotions, and feel compassion. They also know in limited ways that they are doing wrong. I see this in my cat every day. When we say no he throws a temper tantrum. Some dogs poop on the carpet when neglected to get our attention, if we're gone too long. This evidence bolsters the claim that morality evolved and it also presents theists with what I call "The Darwinian Problem of Evil.""

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

The Debunking Loftus Challenge

Many people come onto this site with a sympathetic view of John Loftus, the founder and manager of Debunking Christianity. Some individuals, like Sarah Boylen, have admitted to their own ignorance of the issues between the ongoing Holding/Loftus fueds despite the fact that she automatically assumes with Loftus and immediately classifies Holding and myself as antagonists:

"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


Monday, August 9, 2010

The Cowboys Who Talk Through Their Hats

2010 is the official year of the new decade.

On August 31, the Internet will once again be exposed to another entry in the "Contra-Loftus" series.

Featuring James Patrick Holding of, 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).

James McGrath's Clouded Moral Loftusvision

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.” 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.