• 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

A Message To The Uber-Rationalist

I’ve noticed this thing where uber-rational people judge others as “irrational” based exclusively on whether or not the belief in question has **unassailable scientific evidence. When the uber-rationalist makes that move, they misapply a legitimate but isolated truth-criterion without consideration for the full context in which the “irrational” person holds their belief. I say “misapply” because I generally disfavor a myopic approach to reality and I believe truth is best demonstrated through multiple criteria.

Asteroids are perhaps my penultimate example. “Huge, flying rocks in space? That’s absurd!” the uber-rationalist pompously declared to the free-thinker of centuries past. “It’s more likely that you were just hallucinating when that little rock fell out of the sky and cut your head, and as far as that huge, round hole in the ground, you’re probably just seeing a pattern where none really exists.”

“Well…” the free-thinker replies with noticeable annoyance, perhaps at the subjective use of ostensibly mathematical terms. “I maintain that my position is rationally held. I saw what I saw and in my opinion, the only thing wrong with that huge, round hole in the ground is that it’s not big enough for you to bury your head.”

Despite it’s usefulness in making predictions and identifying false propositions, science necessarily plays catch-up with reality. If you are an uber-rationalist, you might want to remember this the next time you’re tempted to look down on others as “less rational” than thou.

** Existence debatable. An uber-rationalist can doubt anything.

22 Responses

  1. Clearly what you term an “uber-rationalist” in fact holds a rather irrational position.

  2. I would never accuse someone of being less rational unless they believed something so stupifyingly ridiculous as, say, that two thousand years ago in the Middle East desert the invisible deity in the sky decided to trot around a patch of dirt for the purpose of allowing his own creation to hang him to a tree and savagely beat himself to death as a sadistic blood sacrifice for the “sins” that his creation inherited by some ignorant mammal who picked some fruit from a tree in a magic garden 6000 years ago.

    Of course, no sane person living in 2011 would actually believe in such asinine , Stone Age lunacy!!

    (Would they?)

  3. I so believe.

  4. @Daniel,

    Then you “so is a moron”

  5. So if we listen to the uber rationalist (in this case) we get: probably we are wrong.
    If we listened to supernauralists we got (not now, thank Gods): it’s a message from the gods, a warning etc.
    If we listened to scientists we got: don’t know yet, how about we start throwing some cannonballs off towers and think hard. We might get to a good answer after a whole bunch of half baked ones.

  6. joseph,

    No, that’s not what I was saying at all.

  7. lackofcheese,

    IME, most who term themselves “rationalists” are really “uber-rationalists” as I describe, and that especially holds on the internet. Hell, we’ve even got one in this thread, and that with under five commenters!

  8. I think apologists and theologians guilty of the same exact brand of skepticism, except they wear the shoe on the other foot. Even top of the line philosophers like Plantinga do this all the time, and I don’t see you incessantly sniping at someone like him.

  9. InsultsOverTruth/TruthOverfaith,

    Is it wise to ridicule those whom you think are your intellectual inferior. I think I should be more worthy of your pity than scorn. Needless to say, I think it would be a bit more accurate to call my beliefs “bronze-age” lunacy than “stone-age”.

    Perhaps you are able, with your high intelligence, put your arguments to me in a language simple enough for me to understand. You might yet help me out of my insane ravings. I await your arguments.

  10. Oh settle down. First off, I don’t “incessantly” snipe at anyone. I do make occasional swipes at subsets of people who share a common characteristic, and less-occasional swipes at specific people for specific reasons [one of which, by the way, has been William Lane Craig. I don’t read much Plantinga. Though definitely an advocate of getting the basics down pat, I try not to overcloud my mind with everything that’s been said before]. The rest of the time I’m devoted to quality of evidence / consistency of arguments, and you know it. So spare the flare.

    That said, this post was about people who judge those who hold certain ideas as “irrational” based solely on their perceived comport with “science evidence.” I watched the video you linked to, up to the 3:38 mark. What uber-rationalist offense do you allege Plantinga did? I’m guessing the “disease” remark and if that’s the case, no, that’s not anything like the uber-rationalist described in the OP.

  11. Thinking Emotions,

    I don’t take Plantinga to be advancing any sort of hyper-skepticism at all. I understand his defense of belief in God as properly basic as completely counter to skeptical methods. He argues that one is permitted to accept a properly basic belief unless there is good reason to think otherwise. He then argues for the proper-basicality of belief in God. Many criticize Plantinga’s brand of reformed epistemology for not being skeptical enough and allowing any far-out belief to be counted as properly basic, e.g. the Great Pumpkin. So if anything, Plantinga is uber-fideistic not uber-rationalistic.

  12. @CL,
    I meant you have to balance open mindedness with some scepticism. We all get it wrong, but I don’t think anybody is truly an uber rationalist in all aspects of their lives, but neither is anybody an uber antisceptic (sorry for inflicting that on the english language).
    Acceptance of the supernatural (in the traditional definition) is somewhat unrestrained, and very open to, shall we say, politics.

  13. joseph,

    I meant you have to balance open mindedness with some scepticism.

    That’s irrelevant to the post, though. The point is that the uber-rationalist ironically ends up making irrational judgments because they’re so fixated on science that they misjudge everything according to whether or not it’s been replicated in the laboratory.

  14. Oh sorry, point seemed to be that scepticism = close mindedness, my bad.

  15. The point was that uber-rationalism promotes irrationalism, by promoting a myopic consideration of whether or not a given belief is “irrational.” Do you agree or disagree?

  16. The point is that the uber-rationalist ironically ends up making irrational judgments because they’re so fixated on science that they misjudge everything according to whether or not it’s been replicated in the laboratory.

    I wonder about this. I agree with you, but I actually think the “fixation on science” thing has a habit of being very selective, not to mention warped.

    The problem for me is that the sort of people you’re talking with are often labeled as subscribing to ‘scientism’, which in turn gets taken as ‘having an inordinate amount of faith in and respect of science’. I think that’s bull, in the same way yelling about how important reason is doesn’t make a person a respecter of reason. I think this history deserves vastly more remembrance than it currently gets.

  17. I think that rationalists are definitely capable of being irrational, I am unclear whether that is a flaw of the system of rationalism or it’s human practicioner…
    In the same way as I am unclear that Christianity is to blame for the Inquisition (despite Dawkins).

  18. Really appreciate that link, thanks Crude.

  19. cl,

    I’m sorry: incessantly sniping has a very emotionally charged connotation, and I didn’t mean this in a negative way at all. Something you focus on refuting is atheism/naturalism, no? Don’t take it personally.

    His response to the very first question irritates me (it’s certainly logically permissible, but that has little to do with why it bothers me). His response is almost equal to: “Well, everything body of mass we know of obeys gravity, but that doesn’t mean gravity is true.” Why is “a mind requires a brain” such a contentious statement? I’m not saying it isn’t, but I’m curious as to how it became one. A kind of mind that could live without a brain would be a radically different kind of mind from the type of mind we’re acquainted with… perhaps that’s the point Plantinga was trying to make with his extraterrestrial life analogy, but that’s not what I got from it. Likewise, a “rational creature” (whatever that is) that could survive without Earthly conditions would be radically different from us.

    I love his comment around 7:39 about how God may delight in having as “many different kinds of things as possible.” All sorts of floating intergalactic rocks that can careen into Earth at any moment… that’s nice! Great artistry, but poor pragmatics. It’s a shame He didn’t apparently delight in having lots of different kinds of rational beings, eh Plantinga? If you ask me, science accounts better for asteroids striking the Earth than religion ever could. Not that religion can’t account because it’s logically possible for it to, but science definitely seems to have the epistemic and explanatory advantage there.

    Oh, it’s also rational to assume that God loves us, is the four omni-‘s, and wants all to go to Heaven, but it’s not rational to infer His other motivations based on occurrences and actions.

    What do you mean that “science necessarily plays catch-up with reality?” If it means what I think it means, that science is careful to avoid mistakes and bias at the cost of progression, then I would argue that’s a good thing. Just because our understanding of existence and reality is constantly evolving and growing more complex doesn’t ever mean we’ll validate spiritual claims/explanations or come across the need for them; the best analogy I can offer here is the more complex something becomes through knowledge we’ve built up over the years, the more questions that can be raised about its reliability and veracity.

    After all, more elements = more assertions = more to be accepted or explained. God did it is simpler and lot easier to swallow, which is why theistic explanations may seem “more basic,” therefore more correct. This really just makes those arguments facile though, I think.


    There are lots of good reasons not to believe in Christianity. Anyone who fancies themselves as an intelligent Christian ought to know almost every single one of them — not stabbing at it, just saying. If I construct a building, guess who knows exactly where all the strategic weak points are? Me. This applies to every other belief as well.

    Also, Plantinga’s fideism may as well be a kind of philosophical skepticism.

  20. “Penultimate” means “second to last” not “very ultimate.”

  21. “Penultimate” means “second to last” not “very ultimate.”

    I suspect cl meant to suggest that God is his ultimate example.

  22. I learned something. Vox’s Nineveh/Hittite history is supposed to suggest that someone who doubts God is using the same flawed epistemology as the Hittite/meteorite doubters.

    Problem being that the scientists did come to believe in the Hittites and the meteorites. All you gotta do is wait.

    Other problem is that I’m using a different epistemology. Standard scientific epistemology’s flaw, as illustrated here, is obvious for any honest observer. And it is arrogance. They had to change their mind, and they could (should) have known they’d possibly have to in advance – but never admit to it.

    More importantly, being wrong doesn’t make you bad. It implies your beliefs are incorrect – that’s all. And if they work for you anyway, why should I care? Science apologists clearly care, but they can’t care for any honest reason.

    Only it would be nice if incorrect people didn’t often make the same mistake and pretend to care what I think.

    (Should be obvious but let me make sure: doesn’t apply to you. I’m implicitly inviting criticism. By symmetry, you’re welcome to uninvite me to your comment section.)

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