• 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.



  • TWIM updates via email.

    Join 13 other followers

  • Feedback

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    -BZ
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You make me smarter...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    -The Exterminator
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
  • Advertisements

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

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

Opening Argument Summary

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

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

Extended Commentary: Vox’s Argument

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

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

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

Extended Commentary: Dominic’s Argument

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

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

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

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

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

…and,

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Conclusion

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

Advertisements

19 Responses

  1. I read these judgments and can’t help but laugh. Anyways, gonna be out of town for a few days. Will be back to check up on things on Monday. Have a good weekend.

  2. I read these judgments and can’t help but laugh.

    That’s what I was thinking while reading your arguments. Don’t get flippant because they’re weak. Take heed and step your game up. At the very least, give a reason why my judgments shouldn’t be taken seriously. Any old schmoe on the internet can be flippant.

  3. They’re all crying over at VP about how the draw isn’t fair. I think you called it like you saw it, so I spoke up. Looking forward to the third round.

  4. cl, one thing I’d ask you to reconsider on your judging: comments by participants made outside of the confines of the strict word limits should have no bearing on your review. Whether Vox or Dominic comment elsewhere, or even on the debate itself, shouldn’t factor in. Both, I’m sure, have commented, in your term, ad nauseum, on these issues, but I don’t think that should factor in. Halftime and postgame commentary by either one of them is as pertinent to the actual score as armchair quarterbacking.

    Devon, draws are annoying in any competition, whether warranted or not. Cl justified his draw, but I think it should come as no surprise that such a call is considered controversial, especially when his call was a potential tiebreaker.

  5. Devon,

    Yeah, what can you do? They cry over there about most anything, even spelling. I’m sure you’ll notice it’s the same few people with their personal vendettas, so I don’t give much weight to their whining at all. Check out the Dishonest Atheist thread if you really wanna laugh… foul-mouthed swearing tirades in Jesus’ name. Gotta love VoxWorld!

    xdpaul,

    cl, one thing I’d ask you to reconsider on your judging: comments by participants made outside of the confines of the strict word limits should have no bearing on your review. Whether Vox or Dominic comment elsewhere, or even on the debate itself, shouldn’t factor in.

    Their “outside the confines” comments didn’t have any bearing on my judgment, whatsoever. I didn’t judge on anything besides my opinion of the arguments. OTOH, I’m glad you seem to agree the draw was justified.

  6. I don’t think it is accurate to claim that anyone is crying about the draw not being fair. First, I have no problem with it nor do I have any other complaints about the judging. Second, most of the people who are complaining were advocating a system that makes it difficult for there to be draws prior to the debate’s start. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that they are less than pleased that their concerns have turned out to be justified.

    But no one is saying it isn’t fair. In fact, the only time the concept even came up was when people declared that the judging had been fair. Which, given the contentious nature of most discussions on this subject, is a tribute to all three judges.

    And it would be very hard to argue that a draw was not a reasonable conclusion when one judge called it one way and another judge called it the other.

  7. I think it’s funny that the most substantial comments about round 2 seem to be “everyone’s arguments fail”.

    This is easily the weirdest debate I’ve seen on this subject in a while.

    For what it’s worth, Vox himself seems to think your review was fair (collectively with all the other reviewers), though yeah, some people do seem a bit pissed at you now.

  8. Whoops. And there we go.

  9. Well, when you say things like:

    “Dominic creates the impression that these two statements are mutually exclusive.”

    I know they’re not, both statements say the same thing, that Vox admitted the source of our moral impulse is a part of us in the midst of arguing that it wasn’t. That was the point. You missed it by a mile. Then, you take it upon yourself rewrite the definition of evil that’s already been agreed upon for the purpose of the debate when addressing B4. Ergo, you’re hard to take seriously.

    But I’ll settle for a draw in a debate where I’m expected to provide some rock solid, knock-out, golden bullet argument that proves a negative against someone who only needs to say “well… maybe gods are real.”

    Ok, gone for reals. Got an early flight to catch tomorrow.

  10. But I’ll settle for a draw in a debate where I’m expected to provide some rock solid, knock-out, golden bullet argument that proves a negative against someone who only needs to say “well… maybe gods are real.”

    Heh. Rock-solid, knock-out, golden bullet argument that proves a negative? I was under the impression the debate was about the existence of evidence for gods, not proving the existence or non-existence of gods. Kinda funky of you to knock cl for supposedly misunderstanding you and an agreed upon debate term, and then flubbing what the actual debate is about.

  11. Well, why not. Let’s fisk.

    Vox,

    I don’t think it is accurate to claim that anyone is crying about the draw not being fair.

    While the whiners in question didn’t technically say “it’s not fair,” they’re still just whining, whining, whining, like they do about practically everything else that involves dissent. Devon’s point stands: illogical, irrational whining from your supporters. It’s as if they think I should have given credit where I didn’t feel any was due. You know as well as I do that that’s bunk.

    Second, most of the people who are complaining were advocating a system that makes it difficult for there to be draws prior to the debate’s start. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that they are less than pleased that their concerns have turned out to be justified.

    Valid arguments generally prevent draws. If either one of you would have offered valid arguments, I wouldn’t have judged a draw. The only concerns I saw were about judging the entire debate a draw, which I’m hopefully not going to have to do. Was anybody whining about judging an individual round a draw? I don’t think they were, which would mean this bit about their concerns being justified is nonsense.

    And it would be very hard to argue that a draw was not a reasonable conclusion when one judge called it one way and another judge called it the other.

    I agree, and this further supports Devon’s point. It’s silly that people like Nate and your wife can’t see past their “we don’t like cl” glasses. They had nothing positive to contribute to this discussion, whatsoever. No mention of logic, reason, justification, validity, or the lack thereof. Just empty pissing and moaning. Your wife in particular annoys the hell out of me, as her role at VoxWorld is blatantly obvious: attack and denigrate dissenters while rubbing your shoulders and splashing water on your face, deleting any comments that are too unsupportive, with no regard for “The Rules” whatsoever. But, enough of that, you admit the whole show is rigged, and I agree, so… on to the next.

    Look: I think we’ve got a good thing going here, and I respect your respect for the judging, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that your little team of sycophantic defense lawyers bring nothing to the table. They discourage the free and rational thought these things need.

    Crude,

    Kinda funky of [Dominic] to knock cl for supposedly misunderstanding you and an agreed upon debate term, and then flubbing what the actual debate is about.

    Yeah, the irony is that Dominic admitted he didn’t understand the premise of the debate in Round One, yet here he is railing against me, when I simply criticized the premise while understanding it just fine.

    I think it’s funny that the most substantial comments about round 2 seem to be “everyone’s arguments fail”.

    Is that a criticism of my judging, or are you referring to comments at VoxWorld in general?

    For what it’s worth, Vox himself seems to think your review was fair (collectively with all the other reviewers), though yeah, some people do seem a bit pissed at you now.

    I know, but they’re the same whiners who whine about anything I say–unless of course it’s in support of Vox or against the disrespected atheist du jour. It’s pathetically predictable over there, Crude, it really is. As much as Vox likes to think VoxWorld isn’t the same sort of echo chamber as PZ’s hall, I disagree.

    Whoops. And there we go.

    I didn’t get that…

    Dominic,

    …Vox admitted the source of our moral impulse is a part of us in the midst of arguing that it wasn’t.

    You say you didn’t think the two statements I cited were mutually exclusive? Fine. I got that wrong. Will you really be so pedantic to imply that misapprehension of your intent amounts to valid criticism? You certainly think those two statements are mutually exclusive with the rest of Vox’s argument. IOW, I understood the meat of your argument, which you affirmed in the above snippet I cited. Vox didn’t simultaneously argue X and ~X. Prove otherwise.

    Then, you take it upon yourself rewrite the definition of evil that’s already been agreed upon for the purpose of the debate when addressing B4.

    Nonsense. I based my dismissal of your claim that B4 was false on the subjective nature of “changed much over time.” Right? Right. So, while it may be true that I think the definition of “evil” as “a self-aware force” is wholeheartedly stupid and deserving of scorn, I’ve judged both of your arguments according to the definition you agreed on, not in defiance of it. I mean, let’s be real here: evil is “a self-aware force?” That’s stupid, Dominic, entirely, absolutely, irrevocably stupid. I have no idea why you two even agreed to that terminology, and in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not the only one who’s taken that terminology to task. It’s ridiculous. Nonetheless, I judged you both according to it. I didn’t redefine anything.

    Ergo, you’re hard to take seriously.

    Why, because you mistakenly thought I misunderstood the meat of your objection to Vox’s “external moral sense” argument then went immediately into flippant dismissal mode? Surely you jest.

    But I’ll settle for a draw in a debate where I’m expected to provide some rock solid, knock-out, golden bullet argument that proves a negative against someone who only needs to say “well… maybe gods are real.”

    If that’s what you think Vox’s argument amounts to, you should really just throw in the towel and save us all the time. That you would caricaturize his argument thus is pretty sad. Vox’s “plethora of evidence” argument is intact, and your sole response is, “gods aren’t real because the evidence is evidence of something else.” Of course, no mention of what this “something else” is, you just expect us to take your word for it that it’s not gods. If you think that arguments deserves respect, you’re high as a kite. Get some R&R over the weekend, come back with a fresh mind, and let’s talk.

  12. cl,

    Is that a criticism of my judging, or are you referring to comments at VoxWorld in general?

    I’m only referring to Vox’s/Dominic’s arguments and the consensus of the judges. Even the guy who voted for Dominic seemed to think everyone’s arguments were failing. It’s not really a criticism of anyone, just an observation.

    I think coming down on you for declaring the round a draw is silly – it’s clearly not against the rules, and you ARE a judge, so that’s that. On the other hand, you keep bringing up your problems with Vox’s site and style in the middle of the judging, which will clearly rile people. On the other other hand, like you care about riling anyone, eh?

    I know, but they’re the same whiners who whine about anything I say–unless of course it’s in support of Vox or against the disrespected atheist du jour. It’s pathetically predictable over there, Crude, it really is. As much as Vox likes to think VoxWorld isn’t the same sort of echo chamber as PZ’s hall, I disagree.

    I’ve been lurking at Vox’s for a while, and I now and then check over at PZ’s. I really don’t think it’s the ‘same sort of echo chamber’. Vox clearly has his fans, but he also just as clearly has his detractors, some of whom are regulars. And some of his most prominent fans have disagreements with him and spar at length over those. My impression of Myers is that he tends not to even dive into the comments section unless it’s to pile on someone who the pack is already against.

    That said, of all the people I’ve seen challenge Vox, you honest to God gave him the biggest fight I’ve ever seen. And to Vox’s credit, he kept responding. Myers would have hidden behind his comment monkeys and immediately clammed up. Coyne would have holed your comments instantly.

    I didn’t get that…

    Right as I was saying ‘I don’t think Vox was complaining about your vote’, Vox showed up to say he’s not complaining about your vote. That’s all.

    BTW, did you add some new code to this site? Because every time I double-carriage-return it’s pulling me out of the comment box. Kinda frustrating.

  13. Crude,

    I’m only referring to Vox’s/Dominic’s arguments and the consensus of the judges. Even the guy who voted for Dominic seemed to think everyone’s arguments were failing. It’s not really a criticism of anyone, just an observation.

    Gotcha.

    On the other hand, you keep bringing up your problems with Vox’s site and style in the middle of the judging, which will clearly rile people. On the other other hand, like you care about riling anyone, eh?

    I didn’t say anything about the site, and I only dedicated a passing line to my distaste of the condescending style. I’m not sure that can qualify as “keep on bringing it up.” But I see your point. No, I really don’t care if the sycophants get riled, and I expect that they would, in the same way anyone else would if their idol was being criticized.

    My impression of Myers is that he tends not to even dive into the comments section unless it’s to pile on someone who the pack is already against.

    I agree, but that’s difference between Vox and PZ, or Coyne and PZ using your latter example, not VoxWorld and PZWorld, or VoxWorld and CoyneWorld. The worlds surrounding these characters strike me as identical. So, to recap: yes, there are slight differences in the host of each echo chamber. The chambers themselves strike me as identical all the way through. Dissenters get mocked with foul-mouthed name-calling by New Atheists on the one side and New Christians on the other. There’s hardly ever a reasoned argument and heaps of backpatting. Each are their own social scenes. Etc. IMHO, all that crap simply deters from cold pursuit of truth.

    That said, of all the people I’ve seen challenge Vox, you honest to God gave him the biggest fight I’ve ever seen. And to Vox’s credit, he kept responding.

    Did he? Last I recall, he said “I have nothing more to say on this,” and left TobyTemple and others to bat cleanup. It got awfully quiet over there once I exposed his false claim [that I redefined “morality”]. Then again, I haven’t been back to that thread in a while. I’ve got something more ambitious up my sleeve… [folds hands] :)

    BTW, did you add some new code to this site? Because every time I double-carriage-return it’s pulling me out of the comment box. Kinda frustrating.

    No, WordPress is just quirky like that. I’ve been meaning to yoink everything out of their system and code my own site for some time now, I just haven’t got around to it. Personally, I always write my comments in a text editor first, then paste them in the combox. I’ve had far too many comments vaporized by WP bugginess.

  14. I’ve been a lurker at Voxworld for a number of years and though I don’t have time to get involved in extended back and forth, I just wanted to say I agreed with almost everything you posted there and that your responses to some of the individuals echoed exactly what I was already thinking.

    So much for an echo chamber.

    The most amusing thing to me was that while those with an IQ of less than 100 were quick to attack your decision to call Round 2 a draw, that not one of those light bulbs thought to question judge Alex’s decision on how he came to award the round to Vox.

    I say this because you gave what I thought was an extended and *rational* defense of your decision while Alex offered little to no support for how he came to his. (Though in fairness to Alex, he did offer to send extended commentary to those that asked.)

    Perversely, I’m thinking, “If cl had just declared the round a draw without giving any reasons, how much more vicious and nasty could Nate, Spacebunny, toby and taylor be?”

    Your last rejoinder in the comment thread to Vox over the scoring and then taking him to task was well done and well put. And for the Christian, there is Scriptural support for the criticism you tendered.

    Looking forward to Round 3 of the debate.

  15. Philip,

    Nice to make your acquaintance.

    alexamenos’ extended commentary matched mine almost point by point, and I think it was really well-reasoned. If he gives permission, I’d be happy to link to his PDF from here. I think you’d concur with most or all of it, as I did.

    As far as Round Three goes… see my latest post. I’ve resigned as judge. I’ve got better things to do than pander to their self-aggrandizing scene, but it’s not necessarily over yet. I mention a caveat that might pull me back in, but only because I respect my fellow judges and don’t want to trash their hard work.

    Enjoy your weekend.

  16. While the whiners in question didn’t technically say “it’s not fair,” they’re still just whining, whining, whining, like they do about practically everything else that involves dissent. Devon’s point stands: illogical, irrational whining from your supporters.

    Ridiculous. Devon’s point doesn’t stand at all. He made a completely false claim. Not a single person was whining about fairness. A few people didn’t want the possibility of a draw before the thing even got started and their concerns have proven to be well-founded, so they complained. And there is more active dissent at VP than on practically any site of similar traffic out there. For crying out loud, the inflation vs deflation argument alone is going on six years now.

    Your wife in particular annoys the hell out of me, as her role at VoxWorld is blatantly obvious: attack and denigrate dissenters while rubbing your shoulders and splashing water on your face, deleting any comments that are too unsupportive, with no regard for “The Rules” whatsoever.

    In the immortal words of Derrick Coleman, whoop-de-damn-do. She thinks you’re an idiot. And if you can’t figure out how to comment there without being annoying and officious, that’s really your problem not anyone else’s. Hundreds of people have managed to do it every single day for eight years now. And you have completely misunderstood her role… since you don’t realize how little attention I pay to the comments. They’re there for the readers, not me.

    It’s just that your little team of sycophantic defense lawyers bring nothing to the table. They discourage the free and rational thought these things need.

    If you think they’re sycophantic defense lawyers, you truly do not understand how VP works. Nate, just to give one example, is my leading inflationist critic and fantasy football bete noire. They think for themselves, they’re not interested in defending me. Everyone, including Spacebunny, knows I’m perfectly capable of handling that.

    Did he? Last I recall, he said “I have nothing more to say on this,” and left TobyTemple and others to bat cleanup. It got awfully quiet over there once I exposed his false claim [that I redefined “morality”].

    There was nothing more to say. Everything required to conclusively show how your assumptions were incorrect had already been said. Everyone else understood it. Now, you can dismiss them as sycophants and demigod worshipers if you like, but that won’t make it true.

    CL, I don’t have a problem that you are such a prideful little fellow. That sort of thing doesn’t happen to bother me. But you really appear to have a serious inability to admit that you are wrong, or to back up and reconsider things when someone tells you, repeatedly, that you have failed to understand something significant. And insisting that you understand something while demonstrating to all and sundry that you quite clearly don’t is neither an effective nor convincing tactic.

  17. Erm. I fail to see why it matters that Vox proposed a new scoring system halfway through. Clearly what matters is whether the judges accept it. Once Vox and Dominic declared you the judges, the only say they have in the matter of scoring is the one you let them.

    If Vox’s proposed scoring system at the end of round 3 declares him the winner, but the judges say ‘I award Vox 2 points for round 1, 0 points for round 3 etc.’ then it’d be a little bit difficult for him to then say ‘yeah, but I totally win based on this scoring system I proposed halfway through without consulting anyone’

    It is entirely plausible that VD and SB are inconsistent in enforcing their own commenting policy, but “their place; their rules” — their rules are still legitimately their rules, even if they’re not the ones they have written down.

  18. @Vox

    Before the brouhaha between cl and Spacebunny escalated to where resigned as judge in the debate I made 2 short posts, one simply affirming agreement with some of cl’s comments and another in response to taylor saying that “cl had insulted everyone on this blog” where I said that was not true in that I wasn’t insulted.

    I posted those under “philip”.

    I was fully prepared to be lambasted, ridiculed, cursed or mocked, but I was totally flummoxed to find that they had been just simply EXPUNGED– no 1st warning, no 2nd warning, no reason, no nothing, just “poof”.

    I note cl’s post that I commented on is still there intact, as is taylor’s.

    I’ll await your response before I go with what I think is the explanation.

  19. Philip,

    So check this out… scroll down 70 comments or so, or do a search for “9/26/11 1:35 AM” where you will find another ultimatum from Spacebunny:

    You are controlling because you filter a significant subset of the comments which criticize Vox and this blog, [cl]

    Feel free to back up that naked assertion before you comment again. Exact numbers would be helpful, wouldn’t want you pulling anything else untoward out of your backside now would we dear? [Spacebunny]

    …so I posted your comment above, in it’s entirety, as it is one of many examples of Spacebunny deleting anything critical of Vox Popoli, Vox Day, etc. She deleted it, and I assume that means I’m no longer allowed to comment there.

    Isn’t it odd? She asks for an example of her deleting comments supportive of criticism against Vox, I give it to her, and she just replies “…no dear…. anecdotes won’t cut it.” LOL! So, what? I’ve got to supply a randomized, double-blind trial to prove that Spacebunny deletes comments that don’t portray her man Vox Day in a positive light?

    That place is crazy.

    Hunt,

    Remember when you came over here a few weeks ago, when the Dishonest Atheist thread was going off? Do you remember the comment of yours Spacebunny deleted? Was it critical of Vox and/or supportive of me? If so, there’s another example.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: