• 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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Open Response To Alonzo Fyfe

In Luke’s post Morally Permissible Slavery, Alonzo Fyfe of Atheist Ethicist has implied moral defects in my character, here. The backstory: commenter antiplastic said this to Luke Muehlhauser, who replied not by addressing antiplastic’s objection, but by attempting to cast doubt on the sincerity of both antiplastic and myself to understand the theory. IOW, Luke chose to make it personal instead of keeping it professional. Then, Alonzo chimed in, lambasting antiplastic with what were in my opinion uncalled-for accusations about antiplastic’s character. Then, of course, when I came to antiplastic’s defense, Alonzo turned him judgment towards me.

My response follows, written to Alonzo.

You wrote,

If you want to make a meaningful contributions (which I doubt), identify a proposition held true by desirism and demonstrate that the proposition is false.

I have, on more than on occasion. For example, the proposition that “a good desire is a desire that tends to fulfill other desires” is false. Others have agreed, and, you eschew them. By “them” I mean people like Thomas Reid, Cartesian, and TaiChi – who said he was “sympathetic to Cartestian’s example” [although I acknowledge that was some time ago and one or more of them may have changed their positions since].

Your two most recent responses do fit the technical definition of an ad hominem fallacy. You would rather talk about Luke and myself than about the theory.

Actually, I’d much rather talk about the theory. I tire of you, Luke, Kip and people like faithlessgod making false accusations of everything from “not listening” to “cl is obviously a racist” against whomever isn’t sold on your theory. Look over the thread, Alonzo. Luke’s the one that had to open his mouth and start talking about people as opposed to the theory. Besides, you’re apparently redefining the ad hominem fallacy to suit your own liking. The ad hominem fallacy occurs when we reject premise X on behalf of something objectionable about person Y. In fact, you defined it as, “…an invalid inference of the form, You are a bad person; therefore, your conclusion can be rejected.

Did I say that you are a bad person, therefore, your conclusion is wrong? No. Did I even say you were a bad person? No. I don’t even know you. Not once in the thread have I used things I find objectionable about you or Luke to support a conclusion that anything you say is false. So, you’re simply mistaken to accuse me of the ad hominem fallacy, and you’re equivocating on the definition you just supplied.

This whole “Good desires tend to fulfill other desires” is a bit silly IMHO. The truth of that claim assumes that the “other desires” are good. [cl]

Would you care to demonstrate that this assumption is required? I don’t see it. [Alonzo]

Like I said, myself – and others – have tried, several times, and you either flat-out ignore the attempts or give the arguments short thrift.

It all depends on the pre-existing balance of desires. If the pre-existing balance of desires is one of predominantly “bad” desires, then, a desire that tends to fulfill other desires would actually be a “bad” desire. Or, in the other direction, if the pre-existing balance of desires is one of predominantly “bad” desires, then, a “good” desire will be one that tends to thwart other desires. There’s a corollary in the old saying that in times of corruption, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. If the majority is bad, the person who thwarts their desires by doing what is right is good.

The problem – as I have explained time and time before – is that Alonzo’s judgment assumes all people have the same values. [cl]

False. Episode 3 of the podcast provides a clear example of agents who do not have the same values. [Alonzo]

I wasn’t talking about Episode 3. You’re response to my objection is out-of-scope. I was talking about your claim in your essay Irrational Desires that “smoking is an irrational desire.” As stated, that judgment assumes that everyone has desires which smoking would thwart. That’s not true. It’s an overgeneralization on behalf of the majority. In The Value of Desire Fulfillment, you yourself write that, “For an agent with a desire that P, states of affairs in which P is true have value.” In Irrational Desires, you define an irrational desire as “a desire that tends to thwart other desires of the agent.” Therefore, for an agent without the desire for health or long life, smoking is not an irrational desire. My conclusion is 100% valid and uses terms exactly as you yourself have defined them.

I have written a number of essays on the harmony of desires that argue that there are cases in which desires are thwarted when people acquire the same values and that people are better off with different (harmonious) desires.

That’s irrelevant to my arguments at hand, and not currently under dispute. That you included it demonstrates that you’re responding to my objection in a general scope, instead of the specific scope of the smoking example.

Some people really don’t care whether they live or die. Some people want to die young. Who is Fyfe to judge smoking as an irrational desire for them? [cl]

I sincerely doubt that your premises are true. But, even if true, it provides no criticism of desirism. [Alonzo]

It is undeniable that agents with a desire to commit suicide exist, so, my premises are true. As for whether my argument provides criticism of desirism, it wasn’t intended to. It was intended to demonstrate that your claim “smoking is an irrational desire” is an overgeneralization – and that’s true – as you essentially concede here:

It would follow precisely on the lines of whether the desire to smoke does or not conflict with other desires (including future desires). The only reasons that exist for an agent to have or to avoid a desire to smoke are his other (including future) desires.

Yes, exactly, that’s what I just said a few sentences prior. There you go. You’re now agreeing with me. From there, can you now admit that your statement “smoking is an irrational desire” was in need of emendation? If not, I suspect it’s because you think “including future desires” somehow saves your case. If so, I can reply one of several ways. I can reply that since future desires are unknown to the agent at the time of the decision to smoke, there is no way the agent can know that the desire to smoke would thwart their future desires, and if there is no way the agent can know the desire to smoke would thwart their future desires, then there is no basis on which you can judge their desire as irrational.

In your introductory article – which comes up fairly quickly for Google searches on your theory – you say we are to maximize desire fulfillment. Then, a few years later, on your blog, you say it doesn’t. Should I conclude from the fact that you haven’t made the necessary emendations to your website that you lack the desire for other people to understand your theory as clearly as possible? [cl]

You will make that assumption. That’s the kind of person you are. The assumptions yo u make tell us a lot about the type of person you are. It reveals a lot about your moral character. [Alonzo]

I was asking the question rhetorically, because you were drawing inferences about antiplastic’s character on the basis of nothing other than antiplastic’s comment. In reality, you don’t have enough information about antiplastic to judge antiplastic’s character thus. Similarly, I don’t have enough information about you to judge your character thus. That’s precisely why I wouldn’t make the assumption that your moral character is defective: disagree with you as I may, I’m still going to treat you as a professional and give you the benefit of the doubt. The spirit of my comment was, “I’m not going to focus on what I perceive to be inconsistent aspects of Alonzo’s arguments to draw inferences about Alonzo, the man.” In other words, you shouldn’t be doing that to us.

Yet, that’s exactly what you did. I believe it’s unprofessional and I believe you ought to be condemned for that. You imply moral defects on my behalf when you don’t know the first thing about me. You implied that antiplastic lacked the desire to understand. Yet, I could just as easily focus on the fact that you allow contradictory statements to persist in your arguments to arrive at the same invalid conclusion. Get it now? I hope so, because you have no right to call yourself an “ethicist” while you sit there and jump to conclusions about people’s moral character on the basis of blog comments.

The fact is, I haven’t visited [my own website] in 3 years and I don’t remember the passwords I used to set it up or to make changes.

The fact is, that you can’t keep track of your own personal information is your own problem, and that doesn’t absolve you of your responsibility to promote maximum clarity in your arguments. The fact is, you could at least have written on your blog – which you obviously have the password for – that your position as of six months ago is in direct opposition to your position as stated in your introductory article on your own website – which isn’t even dated. You could have at least provided your readers with that much, but, you didn’t. Is it really any wonder why people get confused?

If anything I have said in the past contradicts the podcast, the correct conclusion to draw would be that I have changed my mind.

Oh, I assure you, there’s no “if” about it:

We are seeking to maximize desire fulfillment over desire thwarting. [Alonzo Fyfe, Desire Utilitarianism, section VII, no date provided]

Desirism does not talk about maximizing some entity called ‘desire fulfillment’. It talks about making or keeping true those propositions that are the objects of our desires. [Alonzo Fyfe, The Value of Desire Fulfillment, May 19 2010]

Now, imagine somebody who had just heard about your theory and wants to check it out to see what it’s all about. They Google “Alonzo Fyfe Desire Utilitarianism” and the first two links point directly to your essay Desire Utilitarianism – which isn’t even dated! They read that first, and come to understand your theory as one that says exactly what you said it says – that we are seeking to maximize desire fulfillment. Of course, such a person would not have read your blog yet, but even if they did read your blog – which doesn’t even have an index or a single page that outlines the basics of your theory – how, for the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, would you expect them to know that you’ve actually changed your position? I mean, if you don’t want people to understand as best as possible, that’s one thing, but if you do, well… help ’em out a little.

I have, in fact, made some substantive changes in the theory over the years when people have brought up sound objections. I expect to make more changes in the future.

That’s fine, even commendable. I take that as a sign of intellectual pliability. I’m not criticizing you for changing your mind. I’m criticizing you for changing your mind and not cleaning up after yourself. I’m criticizing you for changing your mind and not syncing your own writings, and then having the audacity to blame others for misunderstanding the mess you made. It’s nothing personal. It’s entirely professional and has to do with courtesy to your readers.

As I said at the top, if you want to make a meaningful contributions (which I doubt), identify a proposition held true by desirism and demonstrate that the proposition is false.

As I said at the top, I have, and so have others. The ball’s in your court.

…Fyfe continues to claim that he uses moral terms in “substantially the same way they’ve been used,” which is false. Personally, I think he should just admit that desirism isn’t even a fake Rolex, but a different type of wristwatch entirely. Then we could sidestep all the semantics. [cl]

This is not a proposition held true by desirism (though I think it is a true statement about desirism), but, whether true or false, it’s not important. [Alonzo]

Well, I suppose whether or not “it’s important” depends on what we value, doesn’t it? I would say that it’s important for the person who values clarity. I would say it’s important for the person with a desire to avoid what you call The Great Distraction. You yourself lament the obfuscatory semantic debates that ensue over your own theory, yet, you yourself have the power to put an end to it by simply taking a step back and saying right up front – as Yair and many, many others have suggested – that desirism doesn’t use moral terms in the same way other moral theories do.

At least then people would know what they’re getting into, but, do what thou wilt.


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