I have responded to perceived wrongs as a jerk. Like any conflict, the middle east comes to mind, where everyone is saying "well we are justified in doing this to them because they once did this to us," then no one listens and it just builds like a snowball. I must admit that I have been chided by William Lane Craig and he has enabled me to see that I have been wrong in the way I respond to insults.He said that I am egging them on by the way I respond. I know he's right. That doesn't excuse the hateful "Dawkies" but it does mean i am not excused either. The terms "Dawkamentalist" and "Dawkie" are not attempts to make fun of atheists. It's attempt to give us a means of distinguishing between one kind of atheist attitude and another. Atheists have this option with Christians. They can say "it's not all Christians it's jut the fundies...." So we should have same kind of distinction.
I emailed Craig to ask him if Loftus had been his student. I did not do this because I don't believe John, but because I want to silence those who keep calling him a liar. I empathize with John on that score because I have been treated that way by atheists and I will not have my side treating others that way. BTW for the record, Craig says Loftus was his student and a very good student. He also said my responses are too angry. I agree. I can justify that anger, but then I'm sure the atheists say the same thing. The only way to end it is to stop trying to justify oneself. Since I can't make atheists do that, I must do it myself.
Now I am going to present a post which set me off and to which I respond to as a true jerk. I am not doing this to justify my anger, nor am I doing to strike back. I'm doing to try and give you an idea as to what it is that sets me off and makes me feel that I have been attacked.
Anonymous JoeX said...
Nice article although I disagree with it completely. :)
First, regarding your comment about atheists, you seem to take the position that those that don't agree with you haven't thought things through and just need to mull things over more thoroughly. Then your article goes on to state that god can't be proven through empirical evidence. Well that's the point. Wishy washy subjective and anecdotal accounts are not at all convincing to somebody that relies on reason instead of on faith.
This starts out as an attack because the statement that God can't proven through empirical means is a well thought out philosophical statement. To characterize it as "wishy washy" is just plain offensive, because it's already coming from a position of confession. But then I also hold nothing else can be proven empirically either, at least not without traversing some gaps in knowledge such that leaps of faith are always required. Of course the juxtaposition between reason and faith is not done sympathetically but there is an air of supiriority. That tells me the author does not understand the issues because if he did he would not think this is a debilitating problem for theism. My reaction is wrong, but I am put on the defensive from the beginning. I am analyzing my reasons so you will understand what sets me off. This is an attempt to create understanding between people.
The rest of your article is just higlighting the fact that your god is a supernatural being and thus conveniently exempt from any natural laws or possibilities of testing.
Of course that statement is apt to be provocative. To me that statement says "I am alarmed by world views other than my own and I can't tolerate people who look at the world differently than I do." No attempt is made to expalin why he thinks "supernatural" is so terrible. No attempt is made to demonstrate that he understands the meaning of the concept of supernatural. Most people do not, even Christians in the main do not understand their own idea of supernatural. Understanding that concept requies a lot of knowledge of the history of the development of the idea. I do not see any evidence that this person has that understanding. So the effect is to make me think I'm being attacked by someone with a super superior attitude but someone who doesn't understand the issues of the area upon which he tries to pontificate.
That's always a very convenient argument for those defending their super natural beliefs. Reminds me of those that claim some special power won't work in the presence of skeptics. Again a rational person requires something reason-based explanations rather than myth based explanations.
Of course this is extremely insulting because he's comparing real Christian theology and real thinkers such as E.L. Mascal and Mathias Joseph Scheeben (who I'm sure he has never heard of) to the great Kreskin and that guy with the spoon bending thing. That is obviously very insulting because it means he's just ridiculing things he doesn't understanding. He's trying attribute my statements to some nefarious motive for reasons of ignorance, because the reasons allude him and are clearly over his head. All of his by this point has made me very angry because it's just one insult after another. Stating that God is not an empirical issue is clearly not an attempt at special pleading, it's a bleeding fact of the nature of ontology. It's also placing belief in a vulnerable position, so it's something in the nature of a confessional statement and clearly not one that is necessarily to the believer's benefit. The attitude that he takes the issue says to me "well aren't a stupid idiot?" So obviously I find this insulting. He writes with an air of "i am such a old wise one whose seen so many stupid theists and you are just one more." So he's just degrading my education and my knowledge assuming an Idiot because I'm way over his head. Of course I am and it's not arrogant to say that. Do you really think I would spend ten years in doctoral work studying of ideas and not know anything?
Lastly, your logical argument at the end of the article breaks down immediately at points 1 and 2. You are arguing from an ignorance perspective or a "god in the gaps" pov.
At this point this statement is obviously just slinging mud after hurling a bunch of insults to begin with. The use of the word "ignorance" in calling me ignorant after its clear to me he has no concept of the issues, he is not on the educational level I am. that is merely a fact. It may sound really arrogant to say so, but it's cearly true, if he was he wouldn't say what he said because he should be well read enough to know better. What I said in that article is commonly said in philosophy of religion it's not special and nothing new or "stupid" or anything like that. It's something any philosopher of religion might say. So he has merely demonstrated to me that he is not on the my educational level, then they calls me ignorant, that's obvviously going to be a slap in the face. I don't expect this guy to fall all over himself lauding my brilliance, but why can't he come out and say "this looks like a god of the gaps argument" and wait for my answer? why does he have to make this big build up trying to flaunt his ignorance?
Basically because there are some things that can't be explained then they must have supernatural/mystical origins and so on. That is just relying on ignorance of the causes of x phenomenon. Like when people used to attribute epilepsy to demonic possession. As our learning of how the brain functions we'll be able to explain various states of mind without relying on the need for a supernatural entity. I recommend you keep abreast of the latest developments in neuro science.
AT this point I feel that this is just rubbing salt in the wound. First of all, I never argued that RE is a rational warrant for belief because we don't know what causes it. No wherein my argument did I say anything like that. For him to assume this is the same as saying that he doesn't understand the argument, yet he's calling me ignorant, trying to dismiss what I know as bs, and putting me on the same level as some primitive peasant. But he doesn't even understand the basic argument because he totally confuses what the warrant turns upon.
As a last point, I find it interesting when Christians put forth these type of arguments. Mostly because nothing really implies that their god is any more possible then any other religions god.
After he's already made me furious, he comes on with a supremely ignorant statement. Because if anyone knows me one of the few things that i am known for, other getting angry and begin sarcastic, is the argument that one single reality stands behind all religious traditions. But what did he say? He basically says, although not in so many words, but clearly says, "you are just like all other Christians, since they are morons that means you are a moron. I do not have to listen to you argument or take it seriously, or even try to understand what you said. I just know that you are an idiot so I don't need to listen."
wouldn't it make you made if you thought someone was saying this to you?
But if you mention any other gods or religions they quickly qualify them as silly and wrong.
He's automatically assuring I'm going to say what others supposedly say, which confirms my analysis.
Also, all the discussion of how the christian god defies evidence and can't be tested etc etc, doesn't seem to jive with the old testament god. That god seemed quite involved and didn't seem to mind making his presence known whenever things didn't meet his strict standards. It's very convenient that now in our modern era all of a sudden he seems to shy to make his presence known.
That is a simplistic assumption because clearly I have answers on the OT God and why the images of god depicted in the OT (which are multiple and not just one sort of image) is more than a literal understand and actually constitutes a metaphorical view. But at this point it's just one last shallow un thinking parting shot like it's not enough for him to sling dung on my head, he has to make one last insult.
As these things go this is pretty standard. Point to any message board on any given day and I can show you several wtih the same attitude and the same kinds of insulting comments. The tragedy is he thinks he being terribly insightful but every single statement he makes just say to me "ignorant, arrogant, unread..."
why would this not make anyone angry? Why should anyone be treated this way? I am not saying that I'm right to respond in anger and with sarcasm. But this is the sort of thing that sets me off. If you don't want me to respond this way don't provoke it.
Of course if I analyzed my responses I would have to say I responded in a very rude manner. This guy probably doesn't even understand what he said that would set anyone off.
I did not say all of this to argue that I'm justified. I am trying to turn over a new leaf. You are going to have to help. You are going to have meet me half way.