• About TWIM


    The Warfare Is Mental (TWIM) reflects the mental warfare of an author, screenwriter, publisher and member of the Writer's Guild of America. Family, friends, health, humor, art, music, science, faith, fun and knowledge are some of the things that are important to me.



    TWIM is the first and only theist blog listed on the Atheist Blogroll, which currently contains over 1,000 blogs. It goes without saying that I don't endorse hardly any of the views of any of them. Contact Mojoey for more information.



    Ironically, TWIM won an award for "Best Atheist / Skeptic Site" from this site. Much obliged.



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    You and your commenters are a feast of thinking — great stuff.

    -C.L. Dyck
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I have no need to engage with racists, so will ignore cl’s further diatribes.

    -faithlessgod,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    cl resists following through on a thought even to provide a solid opposing position, and thus stifles many conversations. It’s a shame since it seems like cl has some brain power that could be applied to the topics at hand.

    -Hermes,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [faithlessgod and Hermes] fit my definition of trolling. I didn’t take any of those attacks against you seriously, and quickly categorized them as trolls.

    -JS Allen,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [cl] is, as many have noticed, a master of this warfare. I’ve been following him for quite some time and he’s one of the most effective Christian trolls out there. No one can completely destroy a conversation as effectively as he does, and with such masterful grace and subtly that he rarely gets banned. This isn’t a blunt-force “U R Hitler!” troll, this is the Yoda of trolling.

    -Eneasz,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    This seems to imply that cl is, at least in part, disingenuous in terms of how he responds/what he claims. Is this most likely true, supported by evidence, or merely a subjective claim?

    -al friedlander,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ...I wanted to get a message to you outside of the context of specific discussions on CSA. You make good, insightful contributions to that site, and since I often agree with you I'm glad there is someone else there defending my positions better than I sometimes can. However I don't think anything of value would be lost if you stopped engaging in personal combat with juvenile snipers.

    -Zeb,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Thank you for your wonderful response - so reasoned in the race of [Waldvogel's] blustering.

    -Annie Laurie Gaylor
     Freedom From Religion Foundation
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Thanks for a great Op-Ed.

    -Marianne Ratcliff
     VC Star
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ...as atheists we need to make sure that someone like cl and any Christian readers of [An Apostate's Chapel] don’t come away with the perception that the atheists caved in or were incapable of responding. I’m sure that a lot of Christians who find cl incomprehensible at times and don’t even bother reading him themselves will come away with an assumption that cl is that sort of rare intellectual theist who can prove that gods exist. And that’s how those inane rumors about the feared xian intellectuals start…

    -bbk
     An Apostate's Chapel
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are in so over your head here, you are embarrassing yourself...
    I am well versed in many aspects of evolution biology, through my academic background, and my professional life. Unless your academic degrees and background match mine, cease and desist. Return to philosophy and rhetoric, or whatever it is you perceive your strengths to be. They are definitely not science, even at the high school level.

    -R.C. Moore
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You're doing a fine job.

    -Prof. Larry Moran
     Dept. of Biochemistry
     University of Toronto
     re: R.C. Moore & others
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Phyletic change and vicariance (or, drift and selection versus population isolation), as cl points out, are much better ways of describing what are unfortunately more commonly known as micro- and macro- evolution, respectively.

    -Dan
     Biology postdoc
     Univ. of Cyprus
     re: R.C. Moore & others
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    cl says, “The minute you call yourself a Christian or an Atheist or whatever the heck else, you automatically get painted by other people’s interpretations of those words, which are almost always different and almost always distorted.” cl’s point couldn’t be more on. As cl points out there is an important reason for not claiming any real religious (or lack thereof) belief. It puts logical constraints on one's arguments due directly to the bias of the individual that is translating the English to mind ideas of what it means to be religious.

    -Bobaloo
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Just who in the bloody hell do you think you are, you Christian piece of garbage, to come here barking out orders? You're an arrogant, condescending piece of shit. You seem to think you're an intellectual of sorts, when all you are is a Christian who's read a few books. John, everyone, this really is the limit. BR, I'm more than a little annoyed that you continue to engage him. I'm out of here. I have better things to do than to waste my time with these cretins.

    -Cipher
     Debunking Christianity
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    How old are you CL? I'd guess you have not yet experienced much life. I'd say you were under the age of 21, too young to be here. I don't give a damn what you think of me or my deconversion at all. You're too stupid to realize that regardless of it you must deal with the arguments in the book. They are leading people away from you [sic] faith. I'm seriously considering banning you cl, as I've heard you were banned on other sites. You are much too ignorant for us to have a reasonable discussion.

    -John Loftus
     Debunking Christianity
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I admired the way you handled yourself in the discussion on John's blog. I'm not patient enough to keep my sarcasm in check with some of them blokes, but appreciate those who are.

    -David Marshall
     re: Debunking Christianity
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    cl, I have to say, while I fundamentally disagree with you, you are an individual which I highly respect. I think your responses are always well thought out and your insights always well thought out and pertinently derived.
    [Y]ou have made me a stronger atheist in my regards to critical thinking and debating. I really can’t wait to hear more from you. Hell, I’d even buy you a drink, good sir. Cheers!

    -Parker
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Bottom line? Sometimes I think he's right about certain arguments, and I don't have a problem admitting that. Other times, however, I think he's wrong, and I've called him on that. But I have found he can be pretty reasonable if you (1) don't overstate your case, (2) make concessions when you have, and (3) insist he do the same.

    -Lifeguard
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I like it when [cl] makes me stop, think and question if I am making unfounded assertions or if I am being sloppy. What has been annoying me about cl of late is that he is being excruciatingly anal...

    -seantheblogonaut
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I really can't thank you enough for catching me on my error in rhetoric. I always love a good debate! And I always enjoy your posts, as well! Keep up the great writing and the excellent eye for detail!

    -BZ
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You make me smarter...

    -Mike G.
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ..thank you, cl. I discovered your blog on a random web search and saw it as an oasis amidst a vast desert of seemingly intractable theist-atheist debate.

    -Sung Jun
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    It's good to be able to discuss with people who are open and respectful, and know that disagreement does not mean disrespect... You are to be congratulated, not only for your patience, but also your ability to hold an ever-growing debate together with an impressive degree of structure.

    -Ritchie
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    My tone is derogatory... [cl is] ignorant and credulous and deserves to be mocked... In the time he's been here, he's shown a consistent pattern of antagonizing everyone he comes in contact with, monopolizing threads, derailing discussions with perpetual complaints, quibbles and demands for attention, and generally making arguments that display a lack of good faith and responsiveness... it's become intolerable. I'm not banning him, but I'm putting in place some restrictions on how often he can comment.

    -Ebonmuse
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    This is no defense of the annoying cl, but what a self-righteous, prissy atheist you turned out to be, Ebonmuse. I'm disappointed in you, stealing a strategem from the theists.

    -The Exterminator
     to Ebonmuse
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I certainly didn't get any bad impression about cl, and I can't relate his comments with any of the things (Ebonmuse) said above. I actually thought it was quite interesting to have him around.

    -Juan Felipe
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Please continue to allow
    cl to post his views and make it clear that he is still welcome. And let me be clear, cl is not a lunatic.

    -Curtis
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    With one exception, you are the most coherent and intelligent theist I've seen on this site...

    -Steve Bowen
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I'm rooting for cl. I hope he perpetually manages to skirt the rules enough to do his damage, forcing rule revision after rule revision, ad nauseum. Awesome! Let's watch as Ebon, ever more frustrated, continues to struggle to figure out how to keep his precious private blog neat and tidy as cl keeps messing up his papers while one by one, readers leave due to an every increasing administrative presence. Outstanding! Well I won't go. The thought of this sounds like the most entertaining thing that probably would have ever happened on Daylight Atheism. Hot damn!

    -PhillyChief
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Your visit has been something of a reality check to me. It seems that when you present rational arguments and criticisms, many commenters feel territory slipping and then work up vaporous or leaky responses. I also want to remark that your presence here has considerably moved me to try being a more careful and understanding debater...

    -Brad
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I do have a lot of respect for you too. You seem to be a very intelligent and thoughtful individual with a knack for getting to the bottom of a problem, cutting through all the bullshit rhetoric on the way down. The fact that many other atheists seem to unreasonably despise you bothers me a lot, because I think that maybe they aren’t acting in good faith.

    -Peter Hurford
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I am not going to waste any more time parsing your comments to decide if they've crossed the line or not... So I banned you.

    -Greta Christina
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Be rude... cl invites rudeness. Would you want an incontinent little puppy coming into your house?

    -(((Billy))) the Atheist
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Note to all my regular readers: Since An Apostate’s Chapel is a free-speech zone, I don’t censor conversations.
    As it appears that cl is a troll, please note that I will not be responding to him any longer. I ask that you refrain from doing so, as well. Please don’t feed the troll!

    -The Chaplain
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    …I can’t reconcile being a "freethinker" with banning speech. [cl's] comments are not offensive in the normal understanding of that term, and he poses absolutely no threat except perhaps to some imagined decorum. Why can’t atheists lighten up, for no-Christ’s sake?

    -The Exterminator
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Is it going to distract from my meal when crazy uncle cl starts blathering out nonsense, pick his ears with a carrot or start taking his pants off? No. In fact, it might actually heighten the experience in some amusing way. So no, I don't see cl's work as damage.

    -PhillyChief
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I am beginning to suspect that you are a troll cl. Albeit an evolved troll, but a troll nonetheless. Perhaps we should all stop feeding the troll?

    -GaySolomon
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [cl is] is either a sophist or an incompetent when it comes to the english language... (sic)

    -ThatOtherGuy
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I’d say cl is pretty sharp... it may be tempting at times to think that “the other guy” is arguing out of some personal character flaw rather than a sincere desire to acknowledge the truth, I still think it’s better to debate respectfully... It is disrespectful to make unsupported accusations against people, e.g. by suggesting that their views are caused by an intrinsically corrupt and immoral nature.

    -Deacon Duncan, 3-9-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [cl] cannot refute my facts, so he needs must find (sic) some scapegoat in order to claim that he has confronted the enemy and proven them wrong... cl, sadly, has proven himself to be the sort of guest who comes into your living room and sneaks behind your couch to take a crap on the floor, just so he can tell all your neighbors how bad your house smells and what an unsanitary housekeeper you are... an interesting case study in the negative effects a Christian worldview has on a reasonably intellectual mind.

    -Deacon Duncan, 6-17-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I strongly discourage discussion of the character, abilities, motives, or personal ancestry of individual commenters, as tempting as such comments may be at times. I discourage the posting of comments that make frequent use of the pronoun “you,” as in “you always…” or “you never…” or “you are just so…”, when directed at a specific individual.

    -Deacon Duncan, 4-9-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I won’t be publishing your most recent comment because it’s a return to the same sort of schtick you’ve pulled here before: re-writing other people’s arguments to make yourself look misunderstood and/or unfairly accused, taking “polyvalent” positions so that when people address your points you can claim to have said something else, distorting other people’s arguments, trolling for negative reactions, and so on.

    -Deacon Duncan, 10-8-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [E]gomaniacal troll.
    You win... You’re a disingenuous sophist through and through, cl. And a friggin’ narcissist to boot! Since I’ve thoroughly and purposefully broken the Deacon’s rules of engagement, I shall consider my right to post henceforth annulled, and move on - dramatic pause, lights out.

    -jim
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    He either thinks in a very weird way or he's quite the con artist.

    -mikespeir
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I will gladly admit that I have a boner for cl. Maybe some day I’ll even earn a place of honor on cl’s Blog of Infamy.

    -Eneasz
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Long time reader first time poster... I like reading what you
    have to say over at Daylight Atheism so I figured I'd pop in here.

    -Pine
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    He's just a jerk
    that likes to argue.

    -KShep
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You’re not a reasonable thinker in my book. You’re simply an arguer, for better or worse. I’m Michael Palin, you’re John Cleese. You’re just a disputation-ist, bringing everything into question...

    -jim
     Reason vs. Apologetics
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Motherfucker, this is an interesting blog... Quite the group of commenters.

    -John Evo
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are very articulate, and I can only assume that it's a result of high intelligence; an intelligence that's interested in, and can understand, healthy debate. However, at every turn, that's not what I or others seem to get.

    -ex machina
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are a troll, a liar, and a useless sack of shit. Not only that, but you're still wrong even after moving the goal posts and trying to re-write history. So, you can stop cyber stalking me now and trying to provoke me. I know what you are doing, and you are doing it so that you can whine about how I'm being irrational and mean to you and stroke your pathetic martyr complex. You're a pathetic attention whore and I've already given you too much attention. So, back the fuck off, stop following me around the intarwebs and trying to provoke me, and fuck off.

    -OMGF
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I would just like to say that, OMGF, having read the debate as a neutral observer, some of the things cl says about your style of argument are true, IMO. It is quite hasty, which means you occasionally haven't got the central point cl is trying to make...

    -John D.
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ...this is a difficult question that deserves more than a kneejerk reaction, not to imply that you're kneejerking. You're the least kneejerking person I've met.

    -Quixote
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    If you’re here playing devil’s advocate, then, hey, you do a great job at it, it’s a service, keep us sharp... You’re a smart guy, but those are exactly the ones who give the worst headaches!

    -Lifeguard
     An Apostate's Chapel
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are a waste of time, cl. A big fat black hole of bullshit sucking in everyone who comes into contact with you.

    -Spanish Inquisitor
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    As for all that harsh invective that's come your way, umm... I gotta say, I've seen some of the invective, but I haven't seen the behavior on your part that called for it. Maybe I've just not seen enough? I don't know... from what I've read, I can tell that you're a smart person, and whether you deserved any of that treatment or not is quite frankly immaterial to me; I just want to deal with the smart person at the eye of that storm.

    -D
     She Who Chatters
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I now think that you’re an atheist, just having fun at other atheists’ expense. If that’s the case, kudos.

    -The Exterminator
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    

We’ve Moved!

So I’m back after a reaaaalllly long break and this is officially TWIM’s last post on WordPress’ server. All in all, it’s been great!

If you haven’t already found it, I openly invite you to the new TWIM (which should be redirecting within a day or so). Although I’m still fine-tuning the subscription and social media aspects, it has all the content and features of this blog, plus a bit more. Quite a bit more, actually, and I think it looks much better. I’m going to try to export the few comments that accumulated in the interim plus any that might show up in this thread, but be aware the dates might not match (if I end up having to re-enter them manually).

Either way, I hope to see you there, we’ve got some new posts, improved resources and live debates ready to go!

Study Suggests Atheists Suppress The Truth

There’s been a lot of hubbub over this “Atheists and Asperger’s” study that recently surfaced at the Scientific American blog. For me, this was the interesting line:

In a second experiment, Heywood and Bering compared 27 people with Asperger’s with 34 neurotypical people who are atheists. The atheists, as expected, often invoked anti-teleological responses such as “there is no reason why; things just happen.” The people with Asperger’s were significantly less likely to offer such anti-teleological explanations than the atheists, indicating they were not engaged in teleological thinking at all. (The atheists, in contrast, revealed themselves to be reasoning teleologically, but then they rejected those thoughts.)

Romans 1:18-20 reads,

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (ESV)

Obviously, my title is loaded, in that I take it for granted that God is the truth. Though only a single study and by no means sufficient to justify broad conclusions, these preliminary findings seem to directly confirm Scripture. The study suggests what the Scriptures declare: that atheists have internal access to the truth of God’s existence just as much as anyone else—that they naturally reason teleologically—but that they “reject” or “suppress” it.

Who would have thought?

The Illogic of Vox Day

Welcome to my new series, The Illogic of Vox Day.

In his post Killer Game, Vox Day, internet “superintelligence,” writes:

I don’t believe I could recommend this as a strategy for most men, but it surely educational to learn that raping and killing a woman is demonstrably more attractive to women than behaving like a gentleman. And women, before all the inevitable snowflaking commences, please note that there is absolutely nothing to argue about here. It is an established empirical fact.

Absolutely nothing to argue about? Is he for real?

Vox’s use of “established empirical fact” led me to believe he’d linked to, you know… something like credible scientific research supporting his claim. What did he actually link to? A single non-scientific article discussing a subset of Japanese women who seem to have taken a liking to Tatsuya Ichihashi, the Japanese student who allegedly murdered teacher Lindsay Ann Hawker. Does Vox’s claim that “raping and killing a woman is demonstrably more attractive to women than behaving like a gentleman” follow from the fact that a subset of Japanese women have idolized this guy? Hardly. Perhaps some female commenters can offer their own opinions.

I’m skeptical of Vox’s claim. Are these Japanese women indicative of all women? Might it be more likely that these women represent the fringe? Have social scientists investigated Vox’s claim? Furthermore, that a subset of Japanese women idolize this guy says nothing about the degree to which they are or are not attracted by gentlemen. Maybe in some weird, twisted way, they actually see Ichihashi as a gentleman? Unless he’s alluding to some hitherto undisclosed sources, Vox is clearly pulling stuff out of his behind here. For all his dictionary fetish, he apparently operates under his own definition of “established empirical fact” and then makes the hasty generalization that the actions of a few Japanese women are indicative of women.

Hence, the illogic of Vox Day.

Banned From VoxWorld!

Big surprise, right? From the Queen of VoxWorld herself:

Well, I have to admit: she’s right. She did tell me what to do, just a few comments prior. In response to my claim that she deletes comments critical of Vox and the blog—and by implication, comments that support my criticism of Vox and the blog—she said,

…and so, what did I do? Why, I did exactly what she asked for! She asked me to back up the “naked” assertion that she filters a significant subset of the comments which criticize Vox Day and Vox Popoli. So I posted this deleted comment from philip—a comment which supported one or more of my criticisms about Vox Day and Vox Popoli—as my first example:

Before the brouhaha between cl and Spacebunny escalated to where cl resigned as judge in the debate I made 2 short posts, one simply affirming agreement with some of cl’s comments and another in response to taylor saying that “cl had insulted everyone on this blog” where I said that was not true in that I wasn’t insulted. I posted those under “philip.” I was fully prepared to be lambasted, ridiculed, cursed or mocked, but I was totally flummoxed to find that they had been just simply EXPUNGED–no 1st warning, no 2nd warning, no reason, no nothing, just “poof.” I note cl’s post that I commented on is still there intact, as is taylor’s. I’ll await your response before I go with what I think is the explanation.

Spacebunny deleted it within seconds! You can probably keep waiting, philip, because something tells me Vox Day would never admit that his wife fights his battles for him. What man would?

Now Taking Suggestions For A Credible Debate Scoring System

Well this whole PZ Myers Memorial Debate sure sparked quite the fiasco, but it’s really got me thinking. A few commenters both here and at VoxWorld have tossed out some pretty decent ideas as far as judging debates are concerned. If you were to judge a debate, what would you look for? What sort of things would you award or penalize? Have you seen any successful debate scoring systems before? What sort of scoring do you think would be fair? Based on what we’ve seen in the recent judging, what sort of things would you advise for or against? Where did the judges do well? Where could we have done better? Was there anything you wanted to see, but didn’t? Let’s see what we can come up with.

The PZ Myers Memorial Debate: I Resign

In what will surely be joyous news to many at VoxWorld, I officially resign my role of honorary judge in the PZ Myers Memorial Debate [with a caveat I’ll explain at the end of the post].

There are several reasons for this announcement. One is because a contestant—internet “superintelligence” Vox Day—went ahead and instantiated his own scoring system midway through the debate without so much as even mentioning it to any of the judges. Some commenters continue to misunderstand my complaint as one over math, despite several attempts to make crystal-clear that it is not. I understand that awarding each contestant a “.5” score on behalf of my draw does not skew the debate one way or the other, mathematically. That’s not my complaint. As I said to Vox before his better half began to delete my comments, what if one or more judges disagree that Dominic’s arguments in Round Two merit the same amount of points as Vox’s arguments in Round One? I can’t speak for the others, but I certainly don’t think Dominic’s “first explanations are usually wrong” argument deserves the same score as Vox’s “plethora of testimonial evidence” argument. Oh well, what do I know? I’m just a whiner, a narcissist, a fag, a retard, an idiot, a cunt, a girl, and all sorts of other not-so-Christian things according to the upstanding “Christians” at VoxWorld.

Now, Vox Day’s overcontrolling wife—Spacebunny Day, the trigger-happy overlord of VoxWorld depicted in the satire above—has attempted to force my compliance to her ultimatum: she has actually replaced one of my comments with her own, as you can see here:

Really? Really?

See the Dishonest Atheist thread, 9/11/11 9:15pm. In the interest of avoiding unproductive back-and-forth with the irrational and emotional women who comment there, I promised that I would not respond to Spacebunny or her pal Taylor on that blog anymore. Of course, that didn’t stop either one of them from continuing their mean-spirited assault on everything and anything they could possibly imagine. He’s lived in San Francisco, he must be a “liberal fag!”  So logical, and so Christian, isn’t it? It’d be hilarious if the rest of the world weren’t judging Christians on their “fruit.”

Now, the overlord is attempting to force me to reneg on my word or forego the “privilege” of commenting at VoxWorld! Ha! You’ve got to be kidding! I spit with irreverence on Spacebunny’s attempt to control me, and I shake the dust. Jesus Christ never sought to control anyone. He simply spoke His mind and left it at that. If there’s one thing I find repulsive, it’s censorship and moderation, both of which I take as signs of weakness and control issues. As you can see, Spacebunny claims her bossiness is justified because I “insert myself into the debate,” yet, as with every other claim I’ve seen her make at VoxWorld, she fails to provide a single scintilla of evidence. Of course, nobody calls her on it, after all, she’s Vox’s wife and she holds a constant itchy finger on the censorship button. I’m sure hardly any of the “Dread Ilk” want to incur her wrath, else they might lose their “privileges,” too.

So I ask my readers: did any of you get the impression that I entered into the debate as opposed to judging it? Is providing a detailed justification for one’s judgment the same as entering the debate? Did alexamenos “enter into the debate” for doing the same damned thing? Scott Scheule? I don’t think so. If anybody else sees something I’ve overlooked, by all means, speak up.

Now that I’ve been effectively banned from commenting at VoxWorld—what does that make it, ten blogs I’ve been banned from now?—I’ll have to field some of the remaining comments here:

Daniel,

The only potential quibble (and it is a senseless one) anyone could have would be that the score should be 4 judgments in favor of gods to 1 against gods, with draws not scoring.

Sure, if you want to simply assume Vox’s Round One arguments deserve the same score as Dominic’s Round Two arguments, but I don’t share that assumption. I think that if a scoring system was desired, it should have been discussed and fine-tuned with the judges before the debate commenced, not instantiated midway through by one of the contestants, where conflict of interest is undeniably present. I told this to Vox from the very beginning.

You are blazingly, glaringly, unequivocably in the wrong on the issue of the score, or of the host’s right and obligation to share it with the audience.

I disagree, and counter that you are blazingly, glaringly, unequivocably in the wrong on the issue of when and how a scoring system should be instantiated, and by whom.

It’s cl’s seemingly random objections to basic things like the current score (which is mathematically indisputable, and not something Vox formulated, in any way, out of thin air) of the debate that seem to be at the heart of any real contention.

Not at all. If you want to know the real source of contention, read my comments a bit more carefully. I’ve spelled it out clearly both here and there. Let’s talk.

Spacebunny,

… you were asked a direct question dear – by me no less, answer it or don’t comment….

Who-hoo! Yes ma’am, I cower under the authority you seem to love lording over others as the Romans did to the Jews! What was I ever thinking to ignore you? My goodness, it’s as if I actually believe I’m accountable to God and not some woman who thinks she’s something! My bad.

why do you keep trying to enter the debate instead of just judging it?

…and now a few questions for you:

1) Is whining about perceived whining somehow not whining?

2) Is offering detailed justifications for one’s judgment the same as “entering into the debate?”

3) Is it Christian to selectively enforce the rules at VoxWorld?

4) Is it Christian to call others names like “retard,” “bitch”, “fag”, and “girl?”

5) Isn’t it ironic for a girl to insult another person by calling them a girl?

Taylor,

…the little bitch, who has insulted everyone on this blog, gets on his high horse and slams all the bad Christians for using naughty words against him.

Your claim that I’ve insulted everyone on the blog is false. I’ve responded harshly to a few people, but I’ve abstained from name-calling with the exception of “trolly Nate” which was uttered more in jest than anything else. Can you say the same? Here is your very first comment to me, which directly violated Rule #5 at VoxWorld:

Apparently, you think this atheist vs Christian thing is some kind of polite word game, a let’s agree to disagree situation. It’s a f*cking war, and you’re concerned about being fair to the enemy. Fairness, magnanimity, patience, kindness only makes it easier for him to destroy you. You appear to be the tepid sort that God immediately spits out. I can certainly see how some atheists would think highly of you. cl, you’re a chump.

Rule #5 says, “You are expected to be polite to your fellow commenters, especially if you don’t know them.” You then proceeded to unleash a barrage that included the following “Christlike” statements:

You’re a hypocrite as well as a pussy […] I wasn’t even addressing you, asshole. I wasn’t addressing anyone, just stating my position. That you find it mean-spirited or whatever is not my problem. Seriously, go f*ck yourself to death, you yammering fraud […] You really are a stupid bitch and a fraud. Get over yourself, idiot.

Ah, yes… that’s the way to shine the light of Jesus Christ! So, do you speak like that to the other people at Bible study? Just curious.

Boetain,

Vox’s scoring method is flawed and should be discarded. With his method, at the end of the debate (3 rounds?) You could have a guy ahead on two judge’s cards and still lose by points. For example:
Judge 1: vd,vd,vd
Judge 2: vd,ds,ds
Judge 3: vd,ds,ds

Yes, exactly. I can’t tell you how happy I am that at least one person seems to get it. Call me clueless to your heart’s content, at least we can agree on this! Although, something tells me you won’t get called everything from “bitch” to “girl” to “faggot” for your dissent. Here’s the thing: using Vox’s scoring method, Vox is guaranteed to win unless all three judges vote for Dominic in Round Three. In that case, we’d have a 4.5 tie, which would require a tiebreaking round—else we end up with precisely the state of affairs Vox’s “Dread Ilk” wished to avoid in the first place, a draw on the whole debate—and all because Vox failed to recognize his proper role in the debate. Suspicious? Me too.

Vox,

You’re ridiculous, CL. You’re a whiner, a crier, and you’re not very intelligent. You clearly didn’t understand the obvious because you asked “So you’re awarding “1.5 points” for each positive judgment?”

Of course! After all, it just can’t be that I thought somebody as superintelligent as Vox Day would see the obvious flaws with his scoring system! You see, charity is the difference, Vox. Since you claim to be superintelligent, I assumed you were easily intelligent enough to see the problems. I didn’t think for a second that you would be so unintelligent as to award points for failed arguments, which left “1.5 points for each round” as the only plausible alternative.  In the end, I guess there’s a risk with both charity and assuming everybody else is another stupid member of the ignorant masses, or a lying snake! Ah, if only I could be a member of MENSA. If only!

Because you’re not smart enough. And the idea of you accusing me of trying to act like a judge when everyone has seen you referring to your own arguments is simply absurd.

Oh, look, another exaggerated rhetorical claim from the bastion of accuracy! So, “everyone” has seen me referring to my own arguments as judge? Evidence, please? Can’t make your case logically, or without insult? No matter! Just call names and accuse others of being unintelligent! As if we haven’t seen that strategy exhausted ad nauseum at VoxWorld. Get real, buddy… get real.

If the judges wish to decide on that, they can certainly do so. But I’ve never seen any debate where the judges – or rather, a judge – has tried to stick himself into the center of the discussion like you have.

Oh come on. Now you sound like your crying wife. In fact, are you both the same person? Is it a “good cop, bad cop” show you’re running behind the scenes over there? She’s McGavin and you’re Hodges, ala “Colors”? Criticizing you for instantiating your own flawed scoring system midway through the debate without so much as even asking the judges does not entail that I’ve “stuck myself into the center of the discussion,” if that’s what you mean. Think rationally. Don’t just parrot your wife.

If I may flip this for a second, I’ve never seen any debate where one of the contestants sprung there own scoring system in the middle of Round Two without consulting the judges. Like I asked, are you a contestant, or a judge? That’s right. You’re a contestant. Let the judges keep score and judge as they see fit, lest you rightfully incur suspicion related to conflict of interest.

No one said points were awarded for failed arguments, the partial points were awarded for a draw… Are you such a blithering idiot that you genuinely think a team that ties loses three games and ties one is equal to a team that loses four games? You awarded a draw. That’s half points for both, dimwit.

Correct, Vox, you awarded partial points for a draw. Now, why did I pronounce Round Two a draw? Failed arguments. That’s right, say it again: failed arguments. Then, connect the dots: you awarded yourselves points for failed arguments. IOW, contrary to what you just claimed, points were awarded for failed arguments. Not that it matters, as that’s not even my chief gripe—at least you awarded points for failed arguments equally—I just wanted to point out how often you fail to see the obvious, despite your loud protestations that such errors are reserved for the “ignorant masses.” Next time, follow the chain of logic instead of denigrating and insulting those you see as less intelligent than your superintelligent self.

In Conclusion

I’ve washed my hands and my soul of this poisonous chimera. Now, for the caveat.

I deeply respect the patience and effort that Scott Scheule and alexamenos have put into judging this debate. If Vox recants his scoring system, I will resume my role as judge. Alternatively, if Vox refuses to recant his scoring system, and both judges award Round Three to Dominic, I will judge Round Three anyways. I’m doing this for no other reason than respect for my fellow judges, so we can at least have some semblance of consistency and impartiality, lest all our time be wasted and this debate shown for the pyrrhic victory Vox Day appears interested in making it. If either of them award Round Three to Vox, and Vox doesn’t recant his scoring system, it’s over. I don’t even need to chime in. Vox did the scoring for us.

Way to go Vox! It’s easy to win when you’re both contestant and judge!

The PZ Myers Memorial Debate, Round Two: And The Winner Is…

The interlocutors submitted their second round of arguments and this time, they limited themselves to one piece each. You can read both pieces in their entirety over at VoxWorld. If you don’t read their arguments first, my judgment won’t make as much sense.

Opening Argument Summary

Vox’s argument can be summarized as, “E/L->gods because I can’t think of any better way to explain alleged moral consistency.”

Dominic’s argument can be summarized as, “E/L->no gods because first attempts at explanation are almost always incorrect.”

Extended Commentary: Vox’s Argument

In a move that can only be described as a strategic blunder, Vox spent 500+ words—over 15% of his total argument—trying to justify this loosely-defined “gods” concept as the subject of the debate, as if he hadn’t already covered this ad nauseum in the comment threads. Interestingly, even though Dominic admitted to “the mistake of overlooking the topic of the debate,” Vox reminds the less intelligent, “The atheist position that Dominic is championing is not defined as disbelief in the existence of the Christian God, but as disbelief in the existence of all gods. To his credit, Dominic understands and accepts this, and everyone would do well to follow his example.” For Pete’s sake Vox, we get it already. This would be much more enjoyable were it not so obvious that Vox thinks practically everybody besides himself is a complete moron worthy of talking down to.

When Vox gets around to debating, he wisely opts to strengthen his argument from moral evil, which I criticized as “fancy poetic metaphor” the first time around. Unfortunately, he doesn’t give the argument the support it needs. Specifically, Vox attempts to prove A) that the existence of evil requires the presence of a source of good, and B) that the only entity capable of dictating an objective and definitive good is the Creator or His agent. He proved neither, and honestly, aside from his comments about pedophiles, I found his argument bloated, boring, and non-sequitur, filled with naked assertions to boot. Reference to an “internal brake” doesn’t prove anything. The failure of psychoanalysis doesn’t prove anything. Repeated allusion to the “failures of the materialist consensus” doesn’t prove anything. Vox simply asserts a “relatively small range of variations in moral sensibilities,” but a semi-educated person must wonder what planet he’s referring to. IMHO, the variations throughout history cannot be called anything but gaping. People used to toss others to lions for entertainment. Slavery used to be a-okay. Even the Israelites used to stone people for things we teach in elementary school. Need I go on? Hell, Vox himself seems to think that the “Law” is arbitrary. Even if we granted Vox’s claim—which we ought not—moral consistency doesn’t prove an external Law or a Lawgiver. Moral consistency is just as consistent with common evolutionary and biological underpinnings, as Dominic noted in Round One.

Returning to the creative writer within, Vox writes, “The Law can only be broken if the Law exists. Evil can only exist in the presence of the Good.” Spare me! This is the same poetic nonsense I rejected the first time around. People exist. They do things. There are some things most people like. There are other things most people dislike. None of this proves any sort of “law” or “evil” or “good” or “lawgiver.” Since this is the only argument Vox offers in this round, I have no choice but to conclude that he has not advanced his case.

Extended Commentary: Dominic’s Argument

Dominic attempts to falsify Vox’s claim that it is ahistorical and unscientific to dismiss the plethora of testimonial evidence for gods, but his attempt strikes me as hair-splitting hypocrisy: “The true statement would be that it is ahistorical to dismiss all testimonial evidence out of hand.” Dominic tries this “out of hand” distinction thinking it saves him, yet, astonishingly, he uses “cultural influence” as a reason to dismiss the testimonial evidence for gods out of hand! No longer does one need to evaluate case-by-case as Vox correctly suggested in Round One, Dominic can just dimiss it all categorically because of “cultural influence.” The support? “…show me someone who is possessed by a demon that spits on both the cross and the name of Christ who has never heard of Christianity or been exposed to anything Christian. Show me someone recounting an experience of being sexually molested by little grey aliens with big heads and huge hypnotic eyes who’d never heard of or been exposed to Hollywood films or other popular culture sources that tell us what aliens do and what they look like. There has been no such showing yet.” Pure chutzpah. Dominic should have done the research. If he or anyone else wishes to accuse me of unduly swift dismissal, we can have it out in the comments. I will supply what Dominic claims has not been shown.

Along similar lines, Dominic writes, “[testimonies of alien abduction are] a class of testimony that is equivalent to and practically indistinguishable from testimony of interactions with gods, as opposed to testimony of interactions with the mundane.” Dominic still doesn’t seem to understand that alien abduction testimonies are indistinguishable from testimonies of interactions with gods because they are testimonies of interactions with gods, according to the loose definition of “gods” supplied. Trying to draw this line of distinction is a failed endeavor. Further, to claim the two classes of testimony are “indistinguishable” is to completely undermine Dominic’s conclusion that “Gods are not real because the true reason for the eyewitness testimony that they are based on is something else entirely.” If he can’t distinguish between the testimonies of gods and aliens—as Dominic undeniably admitted—on what grounds does he distinguish enough to claim that testimonies of gods are based on something else entirely? This just isn’t adding up. Dominic didn’t show A3 false, and actually committed the error he sought to establish.

In response to Vox’s analogy from Round One, Dominic writes, “That it would have been silly for a hypothetical group of Aztecs to deny the existence of hostile Spainards before ever meeting a white man is intentional obfuscation, because Vox’s own argument is entirely dependent on the idea that the gods have in fact been met.” Good point, but to say Vox is “intentionally obfuscating” is presumptuous. Dominic doesn’t know that. After all, it remains possible that despite his MENSA membership, the “internet superintelligence” might have simply missed the obvious. After all, truth is stranger than fiction, right Dominic?

Turning towards Vox’s argument from moral evil, Dominic claims that Vox dashes his own argument to pieces by stating both:

…[the moral sense] is something that is simultaneously internal to the consciousness and outside the desires and the awareness of consequences,

…and,

It could also be a pre-programmed implant, in which case we would speak of the implanter rather than the transmitter.

Dominic creates the impression that these two statements are mutually exclusive. They are not. “Internal to the consciousness” doesn’t mean “generated / sustained / informed entirely from within.” It seems Dominic was too swift in his dismissal there. He did not show B3 false.

As for B4, whether or not man’s moral sense has changed much over time unfortunately depends on an arbitrary idea of what “changed much over time” means. As we’ve briefly explored, history shows a significant moral trajectory. On the other hand, some things have remained fairly constant, e.g., our concept of a “good” person is one who abstains from the seven deadly sins. Dominic uses vengeance to argue that our moral sense reverses polarity even in the here and now, but he overlooks the reason the death penalty is not murder. Murder is the taking of an innocent life. A true reversal would be Joe murdering an innocent person, then demanding justice when somebody else murders his wife. Even then, that wouldn’t necessarily prove a reversal. Joe may have had the “internal brake” present when murdering. Additionally, one might say the universal recognition of and desire for justice is a powerful argument in Vox’s favor: people have historically shown an unshakeable belief that the world should be—or at least could be—just. That’s beside the point. Vox didn’t show B4 true, but Dominic didn’t show it false.

Turning to his argument for the non-existence of gods, Dominic attempts to clarify and strengthen his “truth is stranger than fiction” argument. He appeals to phlogiston, ether, and geocentrism as examples proving the hypothesis that, “For any new experience or phenomenon, when man attempts to explain the phenomenon using the tools for understanding at his disposal, the first attempt at explanation is almost invariably wrong.” I grant that this seems intuitively true. After all, Darwinian gradualism was wrong much to the dismay of twentieth-century atheists, but what of Lyell, Kepler, Einstein, Hubble, and the Herschels, to name a few? Each of these individuals made first attempts that appear correct. It seems easy to offer examples that challenge his hypothesis, which makes one suspect Dominic is simply cherrypicking his way to the goal line. Regardless, Dominic doesn’t give any analysis to prove his point. How many “first explanations” have been correct? How many have been incorrect? He needs to give us a reason to believe that “the first attempt at explanation is almost invariably wrong.” That some first attempts have been wrong doesn’t entail that they are almost invariably wrong. Additionally, even if we grant his hypothesis, that almost all first attempts are invariably wrong doesn’t entail that any particular first attempt is necessarily wrong.

More importantly, “first explanations are usually wrong” only carries weight against explanations, which are distinct from experiences and observations, which are the prime constituents of testimonial evidence. The “plethora of evidence” Vox alludes to is mostly—perhaps even entirely—based on experiences and observations. With the exception of philosophers, the “plethora of evidence” wasn’t people saying to themselves, “Gee, I wonder what created the world, oh it must be this thing called God.” Rather, these were people going about their business then suddenly T-boned by the “supernatural” and miraculous. Granted, these things were explained as “gods,” but if gods are superhuman beings with control over nature, it doesn’t take much explanation to verify an instance. In contrast to celestial quandaries where definitive answers often elude, superhuman beings have either appeared and controlled nature, or not. No imagination is necessary. No explanation is required to observe this phenomenon, therefore it doesn’t seem vulnerable to the “first attempts at an explanation are almost invariably wrong” objection.

Dominic writes, “The response received so far to this argument has been a dismissive wave of obvious to Dominic does not make it true. The counter examples being perfectly mundane references to Starbucks and Internet porn. No imagination is necessary to postulate the existence of either, and the retort so far has been remarkably asinine. There is no need to rely on extrapolation to paint a complete picture when acertaining either Starbucks or Jenna Jameson is real.” That’s not entirely fair, as his claim has evolved a bit. The first time around, he said he finds “simple claims too convenient,” and although Vox’s rebuttal missed the mark, mine did not [murder convictions sustained by straightforward forensic evidence; Ockham’s razor]. So there was more than a “dismissive wave” behind the rejection of his first claim, and there is more than a “dismissive wave” behind the rejection of its descendant: myopic focus on incorrect first attempts doesn’t demonstrate the hypothesis, which itself is not germane to testimonial evidence.

In Conclusion

Vox did not persuasively demonstrate his argument from moral evil. Dominic failed to show A3 and B3 false. B4 seems irrevocably tied to subjectivity hence still up for grabs. Dominic did not persuasively demonstrate his hypothesis that the first attempt at an explanation is almost invariably correct, nor did he attempt to account for the fact that testimony is distinct from explanation. I declare this round a draw.

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