CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

The CADRE is launching a new page: Answering the New Atheists

Page description: Do the “New Atheists” offer anything new? Other than their level of vitriol, it is questionable. Nevertheless, they are at least posing the old questions and making the old arguments with renewed vigor and evangelistic zeal. This page meets the challenge and offers responses.

At present, the sections included are:

*The New Atheism
*Richard Dawkins
*Christopher Hitchens
*Sam Harris
*Daniel Dennett
*Resources About the New Atheism

The resources includes articles, book reviews, debates, and books, all devoted to their respective subject. Please let us know if you have any other candidates for special treatment on the page or resources that we missed.

33 comments:

Feel free to add my review of the God Delusion to the Dawkins section if you think it would be helpful: http://www.bede.org.uk/goddelusion.htm

Added.

A fine contribution, now first in the Dawkins Section.

Great stuff guys! I'll leave a link in my own blogsite soon. Thanks.

Incidentally, next week we expect to put up a two part interview here on the Cadre Journal, with author David Marshall, the second of which concerns his recently released book on the New Atheism.

JRP

According to your first link the "New Atheists" don't have any good arguments, they misunderstand religion, they are militant, they loathe religion, and are intolerant of religious beliefs.

You identify them as Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and Dennett.

Fair enough.

Just keep in mind what these atheists have done for the rest of us atheists. They have opened doors just like the militant gay movement got Americans to sit up and take notice. Just as the gay movement was successful because they were not willing to be silent or polite any longer, and just like the civil rights and feminist movements before them did likewise, so also has this new atheist movement.

And just as the ideas of these prior movements were normalized in America in the years that followed, so also you will probably find coming on the heels of these new atheists a normalizing process in the years to follow.

While there have been many good atheist books prior to the "New Atheists," now people will begin to read more of them. And there will be better and more level headed atheists who follow behind the "New Atheists," who will offer better arguments in a less militant manner, with more tolerance for those who disagree.

The battle has just begun.

Good luck to you guys.

You'll need it.

At least we'll keep you relevant, for more people will want to see how you answer us!

I pity those who must defend the evangelical version of Christianity from here on out. Not only have you been shot at by the liberals, and the prior atheists, but with the "New Atheists" people will be paying attention to what is to follow. And it'll be coming next year in several books I know of.

You do realize that most of Europe is non-religious. America has been sliding down that same path the last few decades. With this new assault and the rise of unbelief among the younger generation, you will have your hands full.

Please, no ad hominems, okay?

Loftus,

The New Atheism is not a civil rights movement. It is an intellectual one, if I may err on the side of generosity. Atheists are not fighting for the right to marry or adopt children, but to convince everyone else that they are idiots if they believe in God. The civil rights movement's success depended at least in part on sympathy and empathy. I do not see the New Atheists arousing such emotions or using them to gain converts.

And I did not say that atheists had no good arguments, I said the new atheists did not seem to have any new arguments. As far as I can tell, the "new" part of it reflects tactics more than substantive. The goal seems to be to insult, badger, push, attempt to shame and humiliate anyone who believes in God. Oh yes, and taunt.

At least we'll keep you relevant, for more people will want to see how you answer us!

Speaking for myself, I would love to be out of the apologetics arena.

To the extent America is on a slide towards atheism, it is moving at a galacial pace. Islam is a faster growing segment of the U.S. population than atheists, from what I can tell.

I also think Alister McGrath was on to something in his Twilight of Atheism, where he notes that atheism as a philosophical movement has largely been an across the board reaction to authority. As a reaction to the establishment, atheism was destined to lose potency once Christianity was no longer part of the establishment. This would explain why atheism was never as popular in the United States--where religion was a matter of personal preference rather than state sanction. If there was no oppressor, there is no need for a liberator.

I don't deny that atheists may see an uptick in their numbers. America has changed and is less culturally Christian in some significant ways. But to think that atheism will do more than grab some extra market share is, I think, at least prematurely optimistic. Wait until the job is done, and then go about crowing on Christian blogs, perhaps?

L: The New Atheism is not a civil rights movement. It is an intellectual one, if I may err on the side of generosity.

Not so. For us it is definitely a civil rights issue. We have been trampled on by the Christian majority for far too long, even though our differences are indeed intellectual ones.

L: Atheists are not fighting for the right to marry or adopt children, but to convince everyone else that they are idiots if they believe in God.

Hmmm. Then you misunderstand us. I don’t think people who disagree with me are idiots. Do you think we are idiots? And if this is all you think we want then you are ignorant about this. All you would have to do is to picture yourself as an atheist to understand that we feel marginalized in our society. Then you'll understand what we want, and it has nothing to do with convincing people who disagree that they are idiots, just wrong. Wrong about the issues, but more importantly, wrong to treat us with distain. Wrong to think of us as immoral. Wrong not to take us into consideration when enacting public policy issues. Wrong when it comes to funding religious studies over scientific ones. Wrong to oppose new scientific advances. And so forth.

The civil rights movement's success depended at least in part on sympathy and empathy. I do not see the New Atheists arousing such emotions or using them to gain converts.

They first had to grab your attention by radical means before you took notice and emphasized with them.

The goal seems to be to insult, badger, push, attempt to shame and humiliate anyone who believes in God. Oh yes, and taunt.

Nope. How can you get this so wrong? I don't understand how an intelligent person like yourself can so mischaracterize what the new atheists and others like me are doing. [See above].

Besides, the previous social movements were perceived to be just as offensive as our initial beginnings are by you. The majority just thought these people were trouble makers. Imagine that, a woman who refuses to sit in the back of the bus?” Gays threw condoms during a church service and had gay parades that offended others.

Wait until the job is done, and then go about crowing on Christian blogs, perhaps?

Rhetoric is what it is, and using it is a legitimate persuasive tool, even if you disagree. The job will never be done or finished; there will always be Christians who are sincerely and intelligently deluded, like yourself.

Not so. For us it is definitely a civil rights issue. We have been trampled on by the Christian majority for far too long, even though our differences are indeed intellectual ones.

You just got through telling me in another thread that you were not a New Atheist. Which is it?

Most of the blustery books, articles, and debates I have seen have been much more about arguing for the intellectual truth of atheism than arguing for adoption and marriage rights. Are there laws precluding atheists from marrying each other? There actually may be a place for some atheist activism on some of these issues, but that is hardly the focus of the New Atheism.

Hmmm. Then you misunderstand us. I don’t think people who disagree with me are idiots.

Well, you deny being a New Atheist. So this would not necessarily apply to you. But the New Atheism definitely emphasizes the irrationality of religious belief and believers, such as the whole "meme" argument or the notion that "religion poisons everything."

Do you think we are idiots?

I never said any such thing.

And if this is all you think we want then you are ignorant about this. All you would have to do is to picture yourself as an atheist to understand that we feel marginalized in our society. Then you'll understand what we want, and it has nothing to do with convincing people who disagree that they are idiots, just wrong. Wrong about the issues, but more importantly, wrong to treat us with distain. Wrong to think of us as immoral. Wrong not to take us into consideration when enacting public policy issues. Wrong when it comes to funding religious studies over scientific ones. Wrong to oppose new scientific advances. And so forth.

You want to convince people they are wrong in their entire worldview. And that their most cherished beliefs are irrational, memes, and harmful.

But once again, you claim you are not a New Atheism? Why not? Because you don't agree with their tactics or what?

When the New Atheists style atheists as "Brights," what implication do you think that carries for the non atheists?

They first had to grab your attention by radical means before you took notice and emphasized with them.

So you are a New Atheist and do approve of their belittling tactics? Please make up your mind.

And can we skip the glittering generalities? What radical means? Getting hosed down by water canon and attacked by dogs? Yeah, that did get the nation's attention. But that is hardly what the New Atheists are doing.

Nope. How can you get this so wrong? I don't understand how an intelligent person like yourself can so mischaracterize what the new atheists and others like me are doing.

I base my characterization on the debates I have heard and the articles I have read. Memes? Brights? Religion poisoning everything? Being "deluded" instead of just wrong? The emphasis on no longer tolerating religious belief. Did you read Sam Harris' books?

Besides, the previous social movements were perceived to be just as offensive as our initial beginnings are by you. The majority just thought these people were trouble makers. Imagine that, a woman who refuses to sit in the back of the bus?” Gays threw condoms during a church service and had gay parades that offended others.

I don't think those condom throwing gays are the pivotal turn around you think they were.

Rhetoric is what it is, and using it is a legitimate persuasive tool, even if you disagree. The job will never be done or finished; there will always be Christians who are sincerely and intelligently deluded, like yourself.

Yeah, and I should of course not see an accusation of being deluded as in any way an insult, badgering, pushing, attempting to shame or humiliate, or taunting?

First a continuation from the other thread:

L: …why don't you engage my arguments? I've been active on the net for longer than you it seems and have plenty of material out there.

I actually do in the PB edition of my book where I quote you approvingly when it comes to the Testimonium Flavianum. I said, “According to Christopher Price, ‘The passage contains some obvious Christian glosses that no Jew like Josephus would have written, such as Jesus being ‘the Christ’ and ‘he appeared to them alive again the third day.’" Although, as Price continues to argue, the question is how much of it is authentic, and parts of it may very well be, but my point here is to show that early Christians doctored up texts like this.” It’s a small reference, I’ll admit, but I do read what you write. And my area of expertise is not in the same areas yours are, as you so astutely acknowledged. I think I have meta-arguments that trump your arguments, that’s all.

L: Not much of what you write interests me. Also, I do not consider you much of a threat.

Okay. I understand. I do consider your arguments, a “threat.” But I just don’t think your excellent arguments adequately deal with the larger issues that must be dealt with first, like how we come to believe in something in the first place, and what assumptions are the best ones to use in examining the evidence before us. As in court, the evidence is the same for both the prosecutor and the defense attorney. The debate is not about the evidence so much as it is over who has the best interpretation of the evidence. That’s why I focus on meta-argumentation and philosophical issues.

As far as me huffing and puffing goes, I’m guilty as charged. ;-) And as far as people taking me as seriously as I take myself goes, no one does, nor do I expect them too.

Loftus, you are not being honest if you consider what I said in this thread a lie when I clearly indicated what I was talking about. It is a cheap tactic and you'd have more credibility if you didn't try and manufacture some quid-pro-quo that doesn't exist.

I don’t buy your explanation, okay? I think you lied. If left unexplained you misled people as to what you meant in a latter post, and now you continue to defend yourself…sound familiar? I think we all have that tendency, correct?

L: What concerned me about what you did was that you justified it for so long, only backing off when your co-bloggers relented and put pressure on you.

Why are you even concerned? Do you really care about my credibility? The evidence is against this. I think it’s exactly the reverse, for it was “more than a lie” remember?...and you brought it up unprovoked here, sidetracking this important discussion.

L; Then, you deleted all discussion of that topic from your blog so that no one could see some of the worst you had to offer.

Because I apologized, Holding and I traded blogs, and it was over; kinda like shoving dirt under the rug. ;-) Are you saying that in the interests of my own credibility I should republish that blog entry? How nice of you to be so genuinely concerned for me, if you are. Of course, if you’re not, then you’re deceiving us again, in this same thread.

On top of all of that, you still seem to be misrepresenting the truth intentionally as to whether you reviewed your own book. Perhaps you also admitted that mistake and fessed up, if so, then I would appreciate that clarity.

When I published my first book it came up on Amazon without any information on it at all. No one would know what the book was about except for seeing the title. So I posted something about what was in it, and what I thought about it. In order to do this I had to rate it. If I didn’t rate it I couldn’t write anything about it. So I rated it with a 5 stars (which author wouldn’t?). And since I did so using my own name people would know it was from me, and I even said it was from me. So there was no attempt to deceive anyone. But after that information was placed there by the publisher I deleted what I had written. I think it stayed there a couple of months, is all. Several years later I had forgotten I did this. I am an absent minded type of a guy, okay? So when someone brought it up in a heated exchange I quickly denied it, without thinking about it. Later they showed me I did do this, and I said I was sorry. Sheesh, if that’s all you got on me I’m lucky.

L: You just got through telling me in another thread that you were not a New Atheist. Which is it?

Why, your reading skills, of course. ;-)

L: Most of the blustery books, articles, and debates I have seen have been much more about arguing for the intellectual truth of atheism than arguing for adoption and marriage rights.

They do so with a purpose. Surely you can see this. It’s a purpose which is indeed expressed in their books, and not hard to find. Dawkins, for instance, wrote a whole chapter on it; chapter eight. I am very surprised to learn you didn't know this.

L: You want to convince people they are wrong in their entire worldview. And that their most cherished beliefs are irrational, memes, and harmful.

Yes, except I don’t argue they are irrational.

L: But once again, you claim you are not a New Atheism? Why not? Because you don't agree with their tactics or what?

Because I think I have better arguments. Because I treat my intellectual opponents with human dignity and respect. Because I am not militant in using the belittling tactics that they use or in trying to offend believers. I even capitalize the word “God,” and refer to him in masculine pronouns for Pete’s sake.

L: When the New Atheists style atheists as "Brights," what implication do you think that carries for the non atheists?

I dislike it and won’t use it because it’s not true.

L: So you are a New Atheist and do approve of their belittling tactics? Please make up your mind.

I will not participate or approve of their tactics, but as a pragmatist I can see the results, and the results are positive for what I believe. I can appreciate what has been accomplished without approving how it was done. I think it’s unfortunate that atheists had to grab people’s attention in this manner, yes.

L: Yeah, and I should of course not see an accusation of being deluded as in any way an insult, badgering, pushing, attempting to shame or humiliate, or taunting?

I see you as deluded, yes, but I see you as sincere, intelligent, and educated, just in the same sense as you see me.

John,

I’m sure I won’t be the only one to point out that if you want to distinguish yourself from the New Atheist group...

a.) your methodology should be significantly different;

b.) your arguments should be significantly different;

or at least

c.) you should avoid doing boasting self-promotion about how we should be worried about you and people like you.

I for one haven’t yet detected any significant variances in (a) or (b), and certainly (c) (or counter-c rather) fits right into the rhetorical overreach routinely engaged in by Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, Harris, et al.

{{I can only hope that someday you will engage my arguments, Layman, for that's all that matters.}}

You sure are cruising for a ‘not’ link being posted up here.

{{Yes, Jason, I do think my book offers up a unique and powerful new set of cumulative arguments, especially the PB edition.}}

Must be something different then, than anything else I’ve ever seen you discuss on various boards over the years. (Including in the discussion before the ‘not’ incident, incidentally.) But perhaps you've been holding back all this time.


{{I recently wrote the following few paragraphs to one of your other team members here, and I feel it's worthy of repeating because after some discussion we have made amends.}}

The few paragraphs can be found in the other thread mentioned above.

Interested readers can get the context of that quote here. You’ll have to go through some initial comments before getting to the part of the discussion this refers to.

It will be noticed that John implies the ‘amends’ came as a result of those few paragraphs. Actually, those few paragraphs came about because I pointed out that John, to my knowledge, had not yet made amends to some people on various things. For pointing this out, I got that. In repeated doses.

It does give a good idea of what someone can expect from John concerning any expectation that he might actually make amends, though. Take note!

{{I treat my intellectual opponents with human dignity and respect.}}

Except to the extent that they're believers. Then your explanation for belief amounts to mere unreflective reaction to environmental stimulus. (Most of the comments are about this. Continuations to the discussion can be found here.)

There's a reason why 'deluded' is considered more demeaning than 'mistaken', John.

JRP

Jason said...I’m sure I won’t be the only one to point out that if you want to distinguish yourself from the New Atheist group...
a.) your methodology should be significantly different;
b.) your arguments should be significantly different;
or at least
c.) you should avoid doing boasting self-promotion about how we should be worried about you and people like you.


I’ve explained (a) here in this thread, have you read through it? You have not read my book to know (b), but surely you've read how it is being received? I mean, really, if being recommended by Christian apologists Norman Geisler and James F. Sennett doesn’t say anything about it, what will, unless you actually read it? And I didn’t know (c) is how one partially defines a New Atheist. Even if it does, this partial match does not make one a New Atheist, otherwise anyone who boasts about their book would be one, believers included.

The rest I'll ignore and let people decide for themselves.

Cheers.

"I pity those who must defend the evangelical version of Christianity from here on out. Not only have you been shot at by the liberals, and the prior atheists, but with the "New Atheists" people will be paying attention to what is to follow. And it'll be coming next year in several books I know of."

Oooh, I'm quivering in my stylish cowboy boots.

Actually, if anything I'd say the opposite is happening. Evangelical scholarship is experiencing a renaissance, with evangelicals being increasingly accepted as full professors even in Ivy League schools (and, um, where was it that you lot at debunkingChristianity teach? Harvard? Yale? Princeton?) in philosophy, history, the sciences and biblical studies. Evangelical studies in all these fields are achieving a level of sophisticated that was unparalleled 20 years ago. One of the founding fathers of the evolutionary cognitive science of religion is an evangelical Christian who is linking findings in the field to reformed epistemology, to give just one example. If there is a problem, it is that evangelicals are resting content with Strobel and McDowell and ignoring the rich harvest of scholarship being produced right now.

To be sure, atheistic scholarship is also getting more sophisticated. Graham Oppy's recent work comes to mind. But I will have to respectfully disagree with Loftus's diagnosis about the coming challenges to evangelical apologists. We've never had so much good material to work with.

fwiw, not everyone on the CADRE is evangelical anyway, John. CARM thought Hinman/Metacrock was such a dangerous enough liberal heretic to ban him.

This comment has been removed by the author.

Walters, do you wear cowboy boots or something? I don't. What stereotype are you implying?

You're correct about what you said, but here's what you will have to face in the future, at least from me (although, also from several others better than I). Most of the atheist books on the market right now are either scholarly single issue topics, like does God exist?, or on the problem of evil, divine hiddenness, or an evaluation of the case for the creation model of creation. Then there are general types of popular books arguing against Christianity and in defense of atheism that I consider inadequate for so many reasons which you would agree about, for the most part, which includes the "New Atheist" books.

The problem with scholarship (atheist or Christian) is that it doesn't reach the masses unless there is someone who can write a popular work based upon it that average people can understand. Without popular books the scholars are talking to themselves. But the problem with popular works is that the authors usually misunderstand scholarship or become simplistic in their treatments.

The argument in my book, which I consider one single argument, is based on scholarship, MOSTLY CHRISTIAN SCHOLARSHIP, on a level that the average college student can understand. What I do, for the most part, is reveal to the average person what Christian thinkers are forced to argue on behalf of their faith, and I debunk it. Many Christians will be taken completely by surprised to know the extent to which apologists must argue for their faith (with regard to free will in heaven, the trinity, the incarnation, the virgin birth, the NT use of the OT, the problem of suffering, the scientific method, religious diversity, and so forth). I know I'm tooting my own horn here, but it is a truly a counter-apologetics book that you probably haven't seen the likes of yet, and more of these are coming from others, probably better than mine.

I think you are way too flippant with what is about to hit the national bookstores. I look forward to a real debate here someday in the future.

Ahhh, but I remember being that flippant myself at one time. ;-)

You REMEMBER being flippant? So what word would you use to describe your current attitude?

Again this insistence that your book is something we've never seen before. So let me say this plainly: IT ISN'T. I already knew about the Insider/Outsider problem from religious studies well before your book showed up. All the other arguments you develop, like the tenuousness of historical knowledge (Lessing, anyone?), the gullibility of people in the ancient world and so on are all old hat. The only novelty is hearing these same arguments being regurgitated by a former Christian.

You are of course right about the problem of good scholarship not reaching the masses. But that's changing too. See Gregory Boyd's "Lord or Legend" for example.

I do not doubt that solid scholarly work by atheists is forthcoming. Just a look at the new releases catalogue of Prometheus Books confirms that. But sophisticated new evangelical studies are also in the works which I believe will more than compensate for them.

Fair enough, Walters. My main point is that good atheist scholarship is about to hit the masses. Your point that it will occur on the Christian side too, is well taken. Onward we go....

Loftus,

You are not paying attention to what I write. You seem to claim that I had no idea that atheists were arguing for "equal rights" of some sort. I made plain that I new that some of that was done, but that the new atheists "have been much more about arguing for the intellectual truth of atheism than arguing for adoption and marriage rights."

The notion that the New Atheism is a civil rights movement is simply not going to carry the day.

I look forward to a real debate here someday in the future.

Pick your poison, Loftus. We produce substantive arguments here on a regular basis. We have a website full of original articles by CADRE members as well.

The lack of a "real debate" with us -- if you truly seek it -- rests entirely on your decision not to engage in one. If you show up here bragging about victories not won and books not published, then don't complain that the resulting response is not a "real debate."

John (and hereafter for a while):

{{I’ve explained (a) here in this thread, have you read through it?}}

Yep, pretty much. By your report in this thread (up to the point you asked the question):

1.) You distinguish yourself from the NAs by not engaging in militant rhetoricizing as a promotional tool.

2.) You engage in militant rhetoricizing as a promotional tool at the outset and defend your legitimacy to do so.

3.) You distinguish yourself from the NAs by treating your opponents with intellectual dignity and respect (i.e. just wrong, not idiots or mentally deluded.)

4.) You persistently consider theists to be deluded (as the NAs do), not just mistaken (i.e. just wrong).

5.) You identify yourself with the NAs in considering your atheism to be a civil rights issue; and you make it pretty clear you proceed by that method of appeal, too.

6.) You consider your initial beginnings, along with the NA's, to be perceived to be offensive by your opponents, as previous social movements were perceived to be offensive. The implication seems to be that the opponents were silly to be offended by them. (A colored woman refused to sit in the back of the bus, imagine that.)

7.) You sympathize with the NAs grabbing attention by radical means in order to gain notice and empathy. (Similarities drawn to gays throwing condoms at churches, etc.)

8.) You consider the NAs-and-others-like-you to be mischaracterized by the goal description “to insult, badger, push, attempt to shame and humiliate anyone who believes in God. Oh yes, and taunt.”

9.) You admit that NAs engage in notions like religion being a hostile memetic virus; “Brights”; religion poisioning everything; being “deluded” instead of just wrong; and the emphasis on no longer tolerating religious belief.

10.) You distinguish yourself from the NAs by refusing to use the term “Bright” and, one might presume by implication, doing any of the other things in that list. Unlike them--because those are belittling tactics that the NAs use in trying to offend believers. (Also, you won’t use the term “Bright” because “it’s not true”.)

11.) You persist in considering religious belief to be a delusion (like the NAs) and consider it (like the NAs) to be harmful and (incidentally?) a meme.

12.) Unlike the NAs you don’t argue people are being irrational to have religious beliefs.

13.) In one of those pages here on the journal I linked to, incidentally, you persisted in considering the religious beliefs of the people there to be mere reaction to their childhood cultural environment (even when one of them continually reported his childhood environment was atheistic!) as opposed to your rational scepticism. (Except when you opined that maybe your scepticism was just as much a mere reaction to your environmental stimulus as the theists’ beliefs were, as a tu quoque tactic.) We do have memories about such things. And since we didn’t erase that page we can point back to it. {g}

14.) You will not participate or approve of the NA tactics, though you approve of the end results. You think it’s unfortunate that atheists had to grab people’s attention in this manner.

8.) You consider the NAs-and-others-like-you to be mischaracterized by the goal description “to insult, badger, push, attempt to shame and humiliate anyone who believes in God. Oh yes, and taunt.”

15.) When Layman expressed some confusion about whether you were claiming or not claiming to be a New Atheist, up to this point, and asked which is it, you answered, “Why, your reading skills, of course. ;-)” Which aside from being a grammatic non sequitur to the question (strictly speaking), and also not actually an answer to that question, looks a lot like an insult of his reading skills.

I think that’s pretty comprehensive of your comparison/contrast material here in this thread before I wrote “a.) your methodology should be significantly different.” Did I miss something?


{{You have not read my book to know (b)}}

True, though I’ve been reading your board comments in various places for several years now, which is why I opined that perhaps you’ve been holding back the significantly different arguments all this time. That’s not impossible. It might even be considered a good promotional tactic (e.g. so as not to spoil the unique value of the book.)

{{And I didn’t know (c) is how one partially defines a New Atheist.}}

Based on your previous comments about militant rhetoric partially defining a New Atheist, which you explicitly attempted to distinguish yourself from, I have to say I’m somewhat sceptical that you didn’t know this.

But maybe you didn’t know that boasting self-promotion about how we should be worried about you and people like you (get ready you’re coming, you pity us to be going up against you and your ilk, our days are numbered and our work is cut out for us, we’re going to have our hands full, etc.) might be counted as militant rhetoric.


{{Even if it does, this partial match does not make one a New Atheist}}

True--it could even, if (a) and (b) were drastically different, make one a fundamentalistic Christian of an aggressive stripe! But my remark wasn’t about (c) alone making one a NA. And I intended to mean that even where (a) and (b) held in comparison, we’d be less likely to think of you as a NA without the (c).


As it happens, I appended a long and detailed list of proposed NA characteristics as the first comment to the second portion of the David Marshall interview (which I put up this afternoon), partially to address typology more fully (and fairly), and partially to give readers a better idea of the scope of David’s book than we discussed in the interview. I expect I’ll post it up again as a main journal entry next week, after some tweaking. (Among other things I’ve already spotted a couple of grammatic blips left over from composition changes. Those’ll need fixing.) Comments are welcome. It’ll also provide a better venue for distinguishing yourself from the NAs.


{{The rest I'll ignore and let people decide for themselves.}}

Fair enough. Though I think it’s interesting you also ignored my speculative comment about whether this unique and powerful material was ever included in your various forum posts over the years. I was a little curious about what your answer would be to that. I suppose you either forgot that comment was included, or else by implication you had already answered in agreement with my ‘perhaps’ (and you figured this was clear enough already without needing to repeat it.) I wouldn’t count either option against you in any way, but still I was curious. {shrug}

{{[To JD] Many Christians will be taken completely by surprised to know the extent to which apologists must argue for their faith}}

Uh-huh. I’m trying to figure out why experienced apologists, though, are supposed to be completely surprised at the extent to which we apologists must argue for their faith. (Especially those of us who aren’t presup-theologians. I can see how they might be somewhat surprised, and even annoyed, at how much of their faith depends upon reasoning; but many of us here, including myself, are classical apologists.)

But then, it’s your arguments (not your targets') that are supposed to be unique and powerful in the book, and that I haven’t run across before (including, one is led to suppose, in your forum posts over the years) so that I would be surprised and at least threatened (or even discconcerted) by those. Unlike the stuff I’ve actually seen from you so far over the years such as (to take the most recent example that occurs to me) your attempt a day or two ago at trying to paint Christian faith in general and especially David Marshall’s in particular as hanging so totally on such a fragile historical scaffold that even the tiniest threat would rationally bring it crashing down. (Wow never saw that tried before... in the past couple of weeks... more than twenty or thirty times... fiftyish tops...)

Hopefully the revelation that apologists have to argue extensively for their beliefs isn’t one of those unique and powerful ideas that are only to be found in your book that I haven’t seen from you yet. (Well okay admittedly I don’t personally recall having seen that idea from you before, but I mean, really, yeesh...)

Incidentally, I went ahead and posted up David’s reply to you on my own account. He wasn’t impressed or disconcerted by it either. You’ll like it though: it’s vastly less than 14-pages long. {g}

{{[To JD] Ahhh, but I remember being that flippant myself at one time. ;-)}}

Joe Hinman(Metacrock) would probably agree with JD and Layman that that time was in the past couple of days. (You misunderstood Meta’s ‘bring it on’ bravado taunt in the DMPart1 thread--it was intended to mimic how your boasting looks to us. You correctly identified it as being “too flippant”. Uh, yep, we agree.)

JD: {{The only novelty is hearing these same arguments being regurgitated by a former Christian.}}

Which, to put it bluntly, isn’t much of a novelty either.

JRP

Hi Jason, once again you win in the war of words. I haven't got the time for this. But you continue to mischaracterize me, and I think it's on purpose because you don't like me. Say it isn't so, but anyone who actually reads what I write on my Blog knows I am not a militant atheist based on any SUFFICIENT CONDITIONS for what one is. Call me your friendly atheist, okay? ;-) Just because I argue my case does not make me militant. I hope you can make these distinctions. Of course, I can can get upset with people who fail to make such simple distinctions, so if a militant atheist is someone who gets upset at this, count me in. But then you'd also have to count anyone who gets upset for the same reasons as a New Atheist, even believers.

I suppose I do have some of the same characteristics of the New Atheists in that I'm a male, I live in the western world, I'm an atheist, and I think my arguments are good ones. But not all of these characteristics are even necessary conditions, much less sufficient ones for defining what a New Atheist is.

Cheers.

Well done, Jason.

Poor, poor, Loftus. Thinks that none of these deluded irrational Christians like him.

Point of fact. As far as I can tell, Jason likes everyone. He's a better Christian in me in that regard.

You are definitely emotionally engaged, Price. Did I say "none"? And didn't I say Christians are not "irrational?" You don't like me. That I believe. But I don't care either. Them feelings is mutual. Oh, but wait, does that makes me militant? Then I guess we should just say that if an atheist dislikes a particular theist and doesn't care, that makes him a militant atheist too?

And you claim to be looking for a real debate, Loftus?

You've spend loads of time here lately and commented on everything but the substantive points and posts available.

Price, by treating me with disrespect you've encouraged me to stay until we agree to actually discuss the issues themselves.

If you're ready, so am I.

Nice links I must say. Lot's of material to sift through. I'll take a look. Thanks.

John,

{{you continue to mischaracterize me}}

Apparently I did this by explaining why someone might be confused about whether you shared methodologies with the NAs based on your mentions of the topic in this thread up to the point where you asked me the question. To which I added a reference to your attempt a few months ago, here on this journal, at explaining to Bill and some other Christians why they’re still believers--an attempt that had precisely nothing to do with claiming anything other than that they were (still) merely reacting unreflectively to their cultural environment without rationally thinking about the issues.

Now, if you think I mischaracterized you in all the other points, you’re certainly welcome to point those out. (Except, notably, you didn’t.)

If you think I mischaracterized you and your theory about religious belief in that particular point, you’re certainly welcome to point that out, too. (Except, ditto.)

In fact, I kept asking you back then, too, to affirm that you were doing something differently than what you seemed to be doing. What I got in return was a convenient ignoring of a crucial three-letter word in the middle of a simple seven word sentence, and then ad homming off the face of the earth.

What I didn’t get was an explanation that you were actually doing something different in your theory about religious belief than you seemed to be doing.

{{and I think it's on purpose because you don't like me.}}

No, I don’t like you. There are lots of people on the planet I don’t like. (Chris’ very kind compliment notwithstanding. That meant a lot to me anyway Chris, thanks. {s}) But I affirmed, in the links I gave, that you had a legitimate intellectual right to be a sceptic, and that I was required to respect this and not to write it off as being mere unreflective reaction to your cultural environment (or to anything else). Furthermore I was exceedingly consistent about this--as anyone who reads what I wrote can see for themselves. All I asked in return was that you do the same thing, especially since you were expecting us to treat you that way.

But you didn’t. And you’re still refusing to do so. When you claim someone is deluded, you are in fact claiming they’re behaving irrationally. They aren’t only making mistakes. If you really meant anything different from that, you’d have no problem dropping the charge of ‘delusion’ and replacing it with ‘honestly mistaken’. (Unless maybe you never learned that people under delusions are, insofar as their delusion goes, behaving irrationally. Now you know. Adjust accordingly. Or not, but then stop saying you aren’t claiming people are only being irrational about their beliefs.)

{{Just because I argue my case does not make me militant.}}

I agree. I never said otherwise. Nor did anyone else here.

{{I hope you can make these distinctions.}}

Yep, quite entirely capable. Which is one reason I never said otherwise.

{{if a militant atheist is someone who gets upset at this, count me in.}}

Strangely, that wasn’t one of the points I brought up where you agreed about NA methodology, and then showed you did the same (including where you claimed you weren’t doing the same because you weren’t a NA). Nor, oddly, was that one of the very many typological points I put up for discussion in the more recent thread.

I did however mention something (in the later thread) about strong reliance on rhetoric. One common rhetorical tactic is to completely ignore what the other party is talking about and pretend they were talking about something else totally different instead. For example:

{{I suppose I do have some of the same characteristics of the New Atheists in that I'm a male, I live in the western world, I'm an atheist, and I think my arguments are good ones.}}

And yet, none of those made the list here or there either. Hm.

{{But not all of these characteristics are even necessary conditions, much less sufficient ones for defining what a New Atheist is.}}

Good thing I never once mentioned them, then, huh? That would have been ridiculous of me.


{{Price, by treating me with disrespect you've encouraged me to stay until we agree to actually discuss the issues themselves.}}

Obviously, one of the key issues recently here is what your theory of religious belief is. In the not-so-distant past, you spent a lot of effort here trying to tell us that religious believers only continue to believe for the same reason they started believing in the first place: unreflective reaction to their cultural environment. This synchs very well with your claim about ‘delusion’, not incidentally.

Is this what you maintain? Or do you maintain something else?

If you care to debate that, I’ll debate it with you on its own entry here on the journal. It need not even necessarily be a debate--I just want it cleared up. Chris can hardly say no to it, because he’s the one who made the challenge. (Besides, if we took a poll around here I’m pretty sure I’d be the one voted as having given you the most credence and credit of all of us, including behind the scenes where you can’t see it.)

But if he or another admin vetoes the idea, that’s fine, I’ll do it at DebunX. Or if you’d rather do it there anyway, that’s okay, too. You’ll need to let me know; I think my email address is available behind my link somewhere.

JRP

Jason, I'm not interested in debating someone who doesn't like me. Such a childish thing reminds me of trying to hit another person by other means. In such a scenerio rather than to have a duel at noon, civilized people will have a foot race, as if the winner was right all along or the better person. Not interested.

However, do you play chess?

{{Jason, I'm not interested in debating someone who doesn't like me.}}

What part of “you have a legitimate intellectual right to be a sceptic, and that I was required to respect this and not to write it off as being mere unreflective reaction to your cultural environment (or to anything else)” sounded “childish” to you?

I’m not required to like you. I’m required to respect you as a human being. I think it’s interesting that you continually avoid admitting that I’m explicitly recognizing an obligation I have in your own favor, and trying to make out by any means necessary that I’m doing the opposite. But, as you will.

{{However, do you play chess?}}

Yes; though I don’t have much practice at it. I’m pretty good at Warhammer40K right now, though, and several dozen other computer games of that sort (turn-based or real-time.) None of which I would substitute for a debate about whether a person was right or wrong on a particular point (apart from tactical or strategic considerations in the games themselves.) That includes fencing duels, btw; where, as a teacher and as a judge, I insist on respect for the opponent, whether one likes the opponent or not. (And no judge who refuses to judge fairly, including against teammates and his or her own students, is allowed to continue judging.)

I’m not especially interested in playing chess against you though, or any other game. I offered to have a serious discussion with you on a point, based exactly on what I said I was basing it on (as I bothered to quote again above). You ignored that distinction in order to treat me as being “childish” instead--as a ground for refusing the discussion offer, moreover. I therefore withdraw the offer and accept your refusal as given.

JRP

Jason, once again, since you didn't listen the first time, I'm not interested in debating someone who doesn't like me.

However, if you'd like to debate me then I have already made my opening statement in my book! The proposition is this one: "The Christian faith should be rejected by modern civilized scientifically literate people." Now it's your turn.

Accept it or reject it. I personally don't care if you do.

{{Jason, once again, since you didn't listen the first time, I'm not interested in debating someone who doesn't like me.}}

It's odd that if I didn't listen the first time, I somehow managed to write a comment where I directly referenced the topic twice and indirectly referenced it in every paragraph (and not to contravene that you aren't interested in debating someone who doesn't like you, either). Must've been by divine inspiration. Alert the Pope!

{{However, if you'd like to debate me then I have already made my opening statement in my book! [...] Now it's your turn.}}

I had something to say recently elsewhere about the ridiculousness of trying to have "a debate" on such a macroscale topic (generalized or not).

But if you insist, {ahem}: "The Christian faith should be accepted by modern civilized scientifically literate people."

Are we having fun yet?

JRP

Jason said...I had something to say recently elsewhere about the ridiculousness of trying to have "a debate" on such a macroscale topic (generalized or not).

Has it not occurred to you that you could debate what I say my book, one successive chapter at a time?

Has it occurred to you that if you write a vast run-on sentence in answer to a question about a debate topic, then you're essentially implying that you require the debate to be on that one huge sentence as 'the topic'?

I think this has occurred to you; some of your readers certainly got the point: all or nothing.

Debating one chapter at a time is, of course, more sensible--though as I'm sure you're aware a chapter can cover many topics in itself! And so we're back to particular topics being debated each in turn, hopefully in some feasible order.

And so (again) we come back to the previous offer, having made needless detours. I suggested a very particular topic to debate. This was refused, and two alternates suggested that could not be feasibly debated by any human being. I have refused those (as any sane human would), and so we are back to particular issues.

I don't know the organizational scheme of your book. But I do know that the best results are likely to be achieved in a systematic progression, carefully considering each topic (and evaluating discerned options within each topic) in turn.

I will try next week to put up an entry giving an idea of how far back I prefer to start. If it corresponds to the relative topical order of your first chapter, great, you can point that out and we'll at least be in agreement about where to begin.

JRP

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