• 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.

    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.

    [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,
    [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.

    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,
    ...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.

    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…

     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.

     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.

    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.

     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!

     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.

    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...

    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!

    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.

    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.

     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.

     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!

    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...

     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.

    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?

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

     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.

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

    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.

     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.

    He's just a jerk
    that likes to argue.

     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...

     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.

     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.

    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!

     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.

     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
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Spooked In Los Angeles

I've heard people talk about the value of "walking in doubt" lately. I certainly think there's a grain of truth in that statement — but then again — there's a grain of truth to, "Reagan was a good President."

Saturday, commenter left a response to The Non-Existent Upstairs Neighbors that corroborated some of the same phenomena we've been discussing lately:

I myself am experiencing similar events. I live in Los Angeles, in an old house built way back in the early 30's or 40's. I live alone and I hear foot steps in my attic, in the hall way, and tapping/ thumping noises coming from the other rooms (mostly from the master bedroom). There were two counts in the summer when there was no air, no breeze and the back door closed on its own. Even with a strong breeze, the door wouldn't shut close, it would have been pushed open by the wind. There was no explanation that I can think of on why and how the back door closed shut. I feel that my house could be haunted, definitely. I haven't seen a ghost materialize, at least not yet, and I don't want to see one. I feel a presence constantly, like someone is watching you from behind. Its a very disturbing feeling to look and no one is there, its very chilling every time. I ignored it for sometime, but now its getting annoying and quite freeky. Every time I hear the foot steps, taps, and thumps, I think it might be an intruder, so I check out the sound with my weapon drawn, every time… Where is this "noise" coming from then?
Steve Kang, 9

I can definitely relate. The sane individuals who experience these things find themselves between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they're rational, normal people most like anyone else: they know that normally, doors don't close themselves, stacks of games don't fly across the room landing stacked, and there are no non-existent neighbors walking around upstairs or on the roof. Normally, an anomalous noise might not even catch our attention. Key word: normally.

I can't help but wonder how those who only believe in what science permits would react to something like this. In all reality, I believe these are exactly the type of experiences skeptics need to have. It's like when I told somebody it's possible to ride a skateboard over the N Judah tracks: she didn't believe me, because it just doesn't look possible. Yet, there's this one angle that allows you to get over them pretty easily.

"I'll believe it when I see it," she said. 

Like her having a hard time understanding how anyone could skate over the mess of meandering iron that is the N Judah tracks, many can't even fathom "the supernatural" because it just hasn't happened to them. Because it hasn't happened to them, and because science doesn't allow them to believe in it, they don't even need to think about it. That's one thing I don't understand about skepticism as a philosophical outlook: why limit your mind, when you can expand it? The more I learn, the farther I go, and the more I see, the more I realize as possible.

I don't know what you think, but I'd say that just like my friends A and L across the street whom I've been reporting on, Steve's quite justified to believe that something spiritual, paranormal or possibly "supernatural" may be going on at his house. More, what Steve describes is eerily similar to what's been described — and some of which I've witnessed — at A and L's house: noise loud enough to grab a weapon because one couldn't reasonably exclude an intruder, creepy vibes, things moving themselves inside the house, etc. 

Denial won't do people like Steve much good. Neither will doubt. Should Steve doubt what his senses are plainly telling him? What possible good could that accomplish? An overly-skeptical mental attitude impairs just as much as an overly-passive one. When stuff like this happens, regardless of how well we can explain it, the phenomena represent empirical facts that require not only an explanation, but a strategy for dealing with — whether science approves or not.

As much as my friends and I know when we see green grass in front of us, we know when a stack of games undeniably violates the known laws of physics. Likewise, Steve knows that loud noise and shutting doors don't just happen without sufficient cause. Yet just today I had yet another one of these smarty-pants atheists tell me that my beliefs are "unfounded," as if this person's ever spent a single day in my shoes. 

I've come to realize that a certain subset of people simply refuse to grant others permission to believe in God or ghosts or anything spiritual, regardless of the empirical facts they themselves have witnessed. Yet for thousands of years, our ancestors have documented these and many stranger phenomena, across every culture. If we can simply deny whatever can't be reproduced in the laboratory, then it seems to me that we can equally deny any sentient experience anybody's ever had. That, my friend, would be the gateway to solipsism.

What would you do if you were Steve? Would your beliefs change at all? If so, in what way?


10 Responses

  1. Thing is, I’ve had exactly this experience.
    About 30 years ago I was a Biology Undergraduate in East Anglia, a very rural part of England. I shared an old farm house with some friends during my second year. The place was spooky enough as it was over three hundred years old, run down and miles from anywhere. But one night, a few of us were in a downstairs room together and in a quiet moment heard thumps and footsteps from the room above. Someone said, “Ians making a lot of noise up there”, I said “Ians not in yet”. I remember at that point we each looked at the other in trepidation, assuming an intruder. In the event I went upstairs, one step behind a much bigger lad (brave ain’t I?) and opened the door to Ians room to see… nothing. The footstep sound had gone as far as we could tell too. We went back downstairs only to hear the footsteps again minutes later. The sequence was repeated a couple of times and stopped only when Ian came home. We told him what had happened but as he was pretty drunk he didn’t care, so went to his room to sleep.
    The following morning Ian recounted waking up in the middle of the night and battling with something invisible pulling on his bed covers, he would’nt sleep in the room again. In fact we were all pretty spooked and claimed to feel presences all over the place. Within a week or two we had all found different accomodation.
    Now I have probably recounted that story dozens of times since, originally as a ghost story. But these days I would probably use it as an illustration of how what was probably a mundane noise (heating pipes, rats, (plenty of those about)tree branch knocking you name it) got interpreted by impressionable young minds as spooky, and then was reinforced by the group and ended up giving Ian a nightmare. Once we had decided it was unnatural, that is what it became for us and what kept us spooked long enough to leave the place (I’d spend the night alone there today though, honest)

  2. My ghost is made by iRobot. Every now and then I forget that I put the Roomba in a back bedroom to run and I hear it banging up against stuff. My sister has one that is on a schedule and she had a plumber over once and they were both down in the basement. They heard banging and were both freaked out. The plumber took a big wrench and went to investigate with my sister behind him. They both had a good laugh once they found the Roomba banging into walls and furniture. ;-)

  3. cl, I’ve seen and experienced events that the pseudo-science of Richard Dawkins & Co. would not be able to comprehend, never mind explain. Like you said, the narrow of mind would be overwhelmed and go into meltdown if they ever experienced what many live with on a daily basis.
    Of course, anything I could say here is not verifiable, so I won’t bother. Some idiot infidel would merely scoff at it. I’ll just say that the time is coming when the whole world will have the proof it needs that there is, indeed, a supernatural world. Many, too, will have awoken too late from their infidel slumber to resist the wiles of the Prince of Darkness when he performs ‘miracles’ that pseudo-science says is impossible.

  4. Steve Bowen,

    Once we had decided it was unnatural, that is what it became for us and what kept us spooked long enough to leave the place

    You’ll definitely get some sympathy there. Anybody who researches anything should always keep abreast of their own biases. However, just before this, you said,

    ..these days I would probably use it as an illustration of how what was probably a mundane noise (heating pipes, rats, (plenty of those about)tree branch knocking you name it) got interpreted by impressionable young minds as spooky, and then was reinforced by the group and ended up giving Ian a nightmare.

    I just see that as post hoc rationalization, custom tailored to your new worldview. Note that nothing in your assessment is scientifically credible, whatsoever. Just, speculation.
    So, do those things work well at all? They sure look neat.

    ..anything I could say here is not verifiable, so I won’t bother.

    Remember though, not everybody who reads here is a denialist. I’d love to hear your experiences. Here, or on your own blog, or at your favorite truckstop for that matter.

    I’ll just say that the time is coming when the whole world will have the proof it needs that there is, indeed, a supernatural world.

    I strongly agree. The minute beings manifest – or whenever those first flickers of consciousness kick back in after death – the denialist won’t have the slightest idea what to do, precisely because they’ve chosen to remain ignorant. And that under the pretense of knowledge.

    Many, too, will have awoken too late from their infidel slumber to resist the wiles of the Prince of Darkness when he performs ‘miracles’ that pseudo-science says is impossible.

    Again, I agree. That’s exactly the danger of relying on miracles for “proof” of a being’s nature: it’s utter foolishness. I get the feeling those who ask for such things would bend over at first sight. That’s too bad.

  5. Before I was a Christian, I was a lot more open to paranormal things. I played D&D, and was always wondering if there was more to the world than the official story.
    Since my conversion, I am actually more skeptical.
    I believe there are demons, but I think their influence is minor (in the physical realm). Although, I am believe some practicers of the occult may be tapping into something. There are some pretty scary anecdotes coming from people who used to practice “automatic writing” and similar things.
    But I don’t believe there are spiritual beings besides angels (demons being fallen angels). No ghosts or what-not.
    So, if something goes bump in the night? Probably not an angel, and I doubt a demon has time to waste scaring kids…

  6. Hey cl,
    Let me get on record as involved firsthand and personally as well…much more up close and personal and sensational than creaks and moans. Very striking, intense, genuine, protracted, unnatural, and unforgetable experience. That’s not to discount your accounts, Steve and Steve Bowen, to any degree. Thanks for sharing.
    I’m with Gideon on the scoffing aspect, and as my account involves a group of folks who may not want the story told, I don’t disclose it in public. Other than that, it’s a bit odd, but I tend to see things the same as Ned.

  7. I just see that as post hoc rationalization, custom tailored to your new worldview.

    Possibly, but why should that be any less reasonable than the supernatural assumption.
    In any case even if “things that go bump in the night” really do not have a mundane explanation it does not automatically imply that there is a mind or intentionality behind them. If there is some shadowy existence not yet penetrated by science it could be that it has dodgy central heating too.

  8. We love our Roomba. It doesn’t replace an actual good vacuuming,but it helps us keep up.

  9. Check out this site: http://www.ghostpix.com
    Goto to: GALLERY {MEDIA} – EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena)
    Next pay check I’m buying a recorder and trying this in my house.

  10. Steve Kang,
    I checked out the site. Definitely some relevant stuff. The next post will touch on some of it.

    Next pay check I’m buying a recorder and trying this in my house.

    Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about, though, even if you get something – or many things – I fully expect the hardline skeptics to remain unconvinced. After all, who wants to deal with the cognitive dissonance that entails one’s entire worldview being dashed to pieces?
    I’d say your attitude of testing and inquiry seems always more useful than an attitude of denial and mockery.

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