• 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

I Am 100% Certain That Phil Stilwell Promotes Irrationality (Formerly: Does Phil Stilwell Promote Irrationality?)

P1 Any source that promotes binary and absolute belief/disbelief for human epistemic agents is promoting irrationality [Phil Stilwell, bold mine]

P2 Phil Stilwell promotes binary and absolute disbelief for human epistemic agents: “If you argue that the square triangle in your pocket is made of gold, and produce genuine gold flakes as evidence, we still know with absolute certainty that you do not have a golden square triangle in your pocket.” [Phil Stilwell, bold mine]

C Phil Stilwell promotes irrationality

It seems to me his only out would be to argue that the proposition, “you do not have a golden square triangle in your pocket” is tautological. Of course, this assumes Phil merely forgot to add the qualifier “in a non-tautological proposition” to P1 [which is really P5 as delineated here].

What sayest thou?

12 Responses

  1. Well. It turns out Phil has at least a half-dozen different websites / blogs / internet pages, which makes keeping track of his arguments a bit difficult. While perusing this blog of his, I found the following:

    On the last show of The Atheist Experience, Jen stated that “belief is binary”. If I heard right, she went on to say that “either you believe or you don’t”.

    Did I hear right? If I did, let me state unequivocally that she is dead wrong.

    Belief is warranted only to the degree it maps to evidence, evidence arrives in degrees, and therefore warranted belief is not binary, but must be held in degrees.

    If I don’t find my wallet after a night out, and don’t know whether I dropped it or it was stolen, I do NOT have to choose a default position. As the evidence for either side accumulates, I am only warranted in holding a degree of belief that matches the degree of evidence. There certainly can be a considerable time where I don’t have evidential warrant to place belief in either hypothesis, and may find myself at any position upon a smooth continuum of belief if I am to restrain my desire to “know” to fall in line with the evidence.

    Let me recap. Evidence falls on a continuum. Warranted belief must follow the evidence. Therefore we can expect warranted belief to fall anywhere on a smooth continuum of certainty/uncertainty.

    The only exception to this is where you have logical impossibilities. “Evidence” can be rejected in this case.

    So, it would seem to me that Phil could defend himself against my syllogism by claiming that his “absolute certainty” regarding the nonexistence of the God of the Bible is the result of demonstrated–as opposed to simply demonstrable–logical impossibility. Right?

    Perhaps, but other questions and/or problems remain.

    First, and most importantly, Phil would have to demonstrate the logical impossibility of the God of the Bible. He certainly believes he has done so, as you can see here. However, beginning here, I have shown that Phil’s Faith’s Failure 1.0 argument is unsound. If I can show that his remaining syllogisms are unsound–and I believe I can–he loses support for his certainty, thus becoming guilty of promoting irrationality by his own criteria. He would either have to retract his claim, modify his syllogisms such that they succeed, or plead guilty to charges of promoting irrationality.

    Another concern would be that Phil seems to define irrationality simply on the basis of “binary belief.” However, I deny that we can reliably assess irrationality on that criterion alone. I see no reason a “binary belief” cannot be rational, provided it conforms to the generally accepted rules of inference.

  2. I assume he wants us to believe the first premise…Either you agree with him or you’re wrong.

  3. bossmanham,

    Hey, sorry, I forgot you’d emailed me. I’ll get in there, I promise. I rarely check that email.

    I assume he wants us to believe the first premise…Either you agree with him or you’re wrong.

    LOL! So much for that “continuum of belief” eh? Is it me, or does Phil actually promote irrationality in his argument that promotion of binary belief promotes irrationality? He wrote,

    …let me state unequivocally that she is dead wrong.

    Can a belief get any more binary? Surely, he can’t use the “logically impossible” card in this case.

  4. Yeah, it’s a self referentially incoherent position. In taking the stand that binary positions are irrational, you have taken a binary position.

  5. cl & bossmanham:

    Good points.

  6. Yesterday, I said:

    If I can show that his remaining syllogisms are unsound–and I believe I can–he loses support for his certainty, thus becoming guilty of promoting irrationality by his own criteria.

    I now realize this is not true. I don’t need to demonstrate the unsoundness of all of Phil’s syllogisms. I only need to demonstrate the unsoundness of those which claim to demonstrate the logical impossibility of the God of the Bible. Of the eight syllogisms on that page, I don’t see that any of them would prove logical impossibility if sound. For example, even if I grant Phil that he’s proven the absurdity of penal substitution, faith, or objective morality, such proofs do not constitute proof of the logical impossibility of the God of the Bible. If the syllogisms were sound, they would demonstrate the logical impossibility of traditional Christian exegesis at best. So, I’m going to rest on my claim that Phil Stilwell promotes irrationality by his own criterion. Unless I’m overlooking something, I believe Phil needs to modify his syllogisms and/or create new ones such that they succeed, or plead guilty to charges of promoting irrationality.

    Of course, this is separate from my claim that Phil promotes irrationality in his argument that promotion of binary belief is irrational, as bossmanham and myself seem to have shown. The sad part is, I suspect Phil has rested in his conclusion that I “lack the philosophical acumen and honesty to have a productive exchange,” which means he may not return, which means he may still be laboring under the impression that his arguments are sound, and that he is not promoting irrationality.

  7. Some may have noticed that I changed the title of this post. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy writes:

    A deductive argument is an argument in which it is thought that the premises provide a guarantee of the truth of the conclusion. In a deductive argument, the premises are intended to provide support for the conclusion that is so strong that, if the premises are true, it would be impossible for the conclusion to be false.


    P1) Sound deductive arguments promote binary belief in non-tautological propositions;

    P2) Phil Stilwell claims it is irrational to promote binary belief in non-tautological propositions;

    P3) Phil Stilwell attempts to craft sound deductive arguments;

    P4) Phil Stilwell promotes binary belief in non-tautological propositions;

    C) Phil Stilwell promotes irrationality.


  8. Cl’s attempt at constructing a valid argument above says it all.

  9. Hmmm… since you’ve been unclear, just what does “says it all” actually mean? Isn’t this about *your* attempt to construct a valid argument? More specifically, how your attempt at constructing a *sound* deductive argument qualifies you as “promoting irrationality” given your own P1?

  10. “Cl’s attempt at constructing a valid argument above says it all.”

    Uh…what about rule #3 found at theimpossiblegod?

    “3. Don’t speculate on the character or motivation of the post’s author. Address the argument.”

    You can’t make it up better than this :)

  11. Hey Boys,

    Still foolishly worshiping an imaginary god who can’t simply just forgive without bloodshed due to his righteousness? Thought so.

    Try this on. Imagine Jesus were to marry and have sinful kids due to the absurd way sin nature is alleged to be like a genetic disease. Would Jesus be compelled to torture his children and exact bloodshed due to his righteousness? The more righteous you become in the image of Christ, do you also become more blood-thirsty? Be honest. This connection between righteousness and the need for bloodshed is really silly now, isn’t it?

    And this is one of many absurdities inherent to your faith. But don’t let that stop you. We need clowns like to demonstrate just how low you can go when surrendering yourself to credulity and dogmatism.

    Go for it boys. I’ll be watching.

    (If any of you get a clue about how amazing a godless life is, look me up. I was in your shoes far too long spouting far to many of the same arguments not to have a bit of sympathy. Cheers.)

  12. For anyone interested in where certainty is possible, consider a man George telling you they have a golden square triangle in their pocket, then producing flakes of gold as evidence for their golden square triangle. You need not entertain the gold flake evidence, for George is positing the logical absurdity of square triangles.

    Now consider the possibility of a loving and patient god so unloving and inpatient that he condemns to the flames of hell all upon their very first transgression, and a transgression that is perfectly in line with a nature they did not request, do not want, nor can avoid. Remember when Jesus childishly cursed the fig tree for not bearing fruit for him in a season it had no nature to bear fruit? That’s the golden square Jehovah these apologist clowns are trying to sell you.

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