• 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 suppose the most logical starting point would be the fact that I’m not an atheist, but you probably had that much figured out by now.

It’s not because I think atheists can’t be moral, or because I think that atheists can’t lead happy, fulfilled, meaningful lives. It’s not because I think atheists secretly believe in God and are just lying to themselves, or because I think atheists are just mad at God. It’s not because I think atheism is un-American, or because I think all atheists are liberal commies, or because I’ve got axes to grind with science and evolution. It’s not because I was raised religious. It’s not because I was persuaded by intelligent design or Kalam or the ontological argument. These are all reasons I’ve actually heard people offer for their denial of atheism, and–excepting persuasion by argument–I would consider each of them wrong reasons.

No single word can accurately summarize my belief system, so I apologize to those who feel more comfortable with labels. Somebody might object: “But cl, if we don’t know what the other person believes, it’s easy to make all sorts of faulty assumptions!” I agree! That’s why I discourage assumptions, generally. It’s not the other person’s responsibility to explain each and every nuance of their particular belief system so we don’t mess up; it’s our responsibility to avoid making assumptions and ask the other person if they actually believe what we think they believe before judging them accordingly. Sure, the rational path requires more effort, but do we want to talk past each other indefinitely, or achieve some kind of common ground? Besides, even if somebody labels themselves Christian or Catholic or Buddhist or Sikh or Mormon or Atheist or Aquarian or whatever, so what? Faulty assumptions can be made just as easily with any, all, or none of those labels. That’s the primary reason I try to avoid them, but there are other reasons, too.

What if no single label fits a person squarely? What if somebody isn’t exactly sure what they believe, or if their belief system borrows from a range of religious, philosophical, and scientific ideas? Don’t get me wrong: labeling and classification are great for enabling categorical comparisons, but for me, the whole point of freethought is to think beyond categories.

Consider your average internet (a)theist discussion: Believer A shows up on atheist website B and leaves some comment C that falls anywhere between Cro-magnon man and Stephen Hawking on the intelligence scale. Atheist commenters D – Z then proceed to accost believer A anywhere from Bill Cosby to Sam Kinison on the respect scale, each according to their own ideas of what A’s belief system logically entails. The problem is, say we have at minimum an atheist who’s been sexually abused by a priest, an atheist who was once a passionate believer, and an 18-year-old atheist who argues like he’s reading The God Delusion for his first time while taking bong rips and watching South Park. Each of these three atheists are almost certain to have different interpretations of believer A’s position, not to mention different motivations for engaging believer A in the first place. How is this not a recipe for disaster?

I realize that explaining my distaste for labels doesn’t help the reader understand what I believe, so, what exactly do I believe?

Like the Theosophist, I believe that no religion is higher than truth. I believe there is an important difference between belief and knowledge, so you could say that agnosticism also has its place in my belief system. I agree with deists that the divine qualities are deducible from the world. I believe there is a most-high God ala the Bible, so in that sense, you might consider me a monotheist. Though I do not consider them worthy of worship, I also believe that an entire pantheon of lesser spiritual entities exists, which starts to sound something like polytheism, or more accurately, henotheism. Like many Buddhists, I believe that humans would generally do well to eliminate tanha, and I affirm the wisdom of the Holy Eightfold Path. I believe in an afterlife, and I believe that consciousness can exist without a material body. I believe in libertarian free will and that we can be held ultimately morally responsible for our choices. I reject the philosophies of materialism and epiphenomenalism. I believe that the Bible contains divine revelation, I believe that what the Bible describes as sin is real, and I believe in Jesus Christ crucified and risen by the power of God. I believe that salvation is a gift from God, attained only by grace. These last few affirmations are obviously basic Christian tenets. However, this is where I would echo my concern about labels.

Unlike most Christians, I believe the Bible teaches that the wages of sin is death, not eternal torment. Unlike many Christians, I do not believe that those who’ve never heard of Jesus automatically go to hell. Unlike some Christians, I do not believe that everybody receives eternal life. Unlike many Christians, I accept the truths of many other religions and do not reject them categorically. Unlike many Christians, I am enthusiastic about and respectful of science. Unlike many Christians, I believe the church is guilty of a colossal failure with respect to its treatment of homosexuals. Unlike many Christians, I do not align myself with any political party. Hopefully now you understand why I’m hesitant to label myself a Christian.

Now that I’ve shared a bit of what I believe, I’d like to shift the focus to how I got there.

In my experience, most people acquire their religious beliefs from their parents or their culture, but neither my parents nor the culture I grew up in were religious. I recall that my grandmother attended an informal Bible study when I was young, but nobody in the family attended “Sunday church,” if you know what I mean. As far as I recall, my first visit to that kind of church came at the behest of a former girlfriend, and I’m really not sure why I went at all.

Her family attended what’s called a “Foursquare” church, and it all started one day when she invited me to check out the youth group. At the time, we were freshman in high school, and I had already developed that sense of independence typical of the age. Needless to say, I wasn’t particularly impressed with certain aspects of youth group! Still, as the “youth pastor” spoke, I couldn’t deny that some of what he said required no explaining and contained the ring of truth. There was no denying that despite great joys, ours is indeed a fallen world, and that each of us contribute to this condition through types of behavior the Bible denotes as sin.

I attended youth group with my girlfriend a few more times, but quickly tired. To me, the various side activities were distractions from the search for truth. I didn’t see the use in spending the night with 20 other kids whom I didn’t really know, wasting time on G-rated recreational activities just because we were all ostensibly of the same ideological creed. On the one hand, I knew I believed in some of what the youth pastor was telling me, but on the other, much of what I saw in church seemed to bear little import to life’s real questions. I didn’t want slumber parties locked in church with doughnuts and games; I wanted to know who I was, how I got here, and where I was going–and I wanted the answers to make sense.

After I expressed to my girlfriend that I had no further interest in youth group, she suggested that we start attending the regular Sunday service for adults. I agreed.
At first glance, I liked “Sunday church” better, if nothing else because the “adult pastor” didn’t dumb down his messages. Don’t get me wrong, “adult” church has its own distractions like the revivals and the getaways and all that stuff, but in my experience, the conversation in grown-up church makes better effort at addressing life’s questions.

So, after a few months of procrastination, one Sunday morning, I ended up believing. By believing I mean used my volition to acknowledge and accept the fact that I was a sinner, and that nothing other than the grace of God could ever possibly hope to address that. I then used my volition to consciously acknowledge a need to accept Christ’s provision and conform to God’s will the best I knew how. Nothing happened. I didn’t feel any different. I didn’t fall backwards on the floor and start speaking in tongues. The next day, life was pretty normal.

And here we are.

Over the next year or so, I met another friend who attended church, he introduced me to a girl he liked who also attended church, she ended up liking me and we went out because I was no longer with the girl I first attended church with. During this time, I went around to other churches to check them out and see how things compared against the one I’d started attending. Nothing much stood out. The formula was pretty much the same everywhere: show up, wait for the proper starting time, sing the songs in unison (which I always disliked and still do), listen to the message and eat junk food afterwards.
After I broke up with her, I started reading all sorts of other books on spirituality and things religious. Enter astral projection experiments, the precognitive experience at the Tower Club. At this time I checked out Huna and embraced much of what we could call shamanism. I read Millman’s Peaceful Warrior books again and again. I also got into paranormal studies and reading the mystics: Blavatsky, Bailey, Steiner, et al. I went through a period where I was inspired by motivational writing: Napoleaon Hill’s PMA, that Supreme Philosophy of Man (Albert ?) book…
Progress in these areas actually began to give me something that I felt was missing in church. As I said, my repentance really produced nothing that I could point to or feel, but I could actually practice and feel astral projection! I could actually see precognitive visions and feel vindicated when they played out before my very eyes! Whatever force it was that I’d tapped into, I knew it was strong, and real.
I knew that the Bible frowned on dabbling in the occult, but I also knew that the churches I had checked out were missing something.
My experiences with astral projection came to a head when I worked at Tower Club. Although I was making progress with my abilities, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was playing with fire. I figured, I believed in God, maybe these were just legitimate ways to explore our spiritual side, methods the churches had either lost or repreessed beneath all the political leanings and dogma? I figured that I could ask God for an answer, so I did.
I prayed that if the stuff was good, to show me a sign, and likewise if it was bad. That was the night I had the reaper experience.
After that, I completely stopped all reading and practicing of those activities, and got rid of the books. Took a complete break from all of it.
I’d stopped going to church for the most part, yet still studied the Bible and other books. I moved to Arizona, and attended church a few times on Sundays with my roomates. I kept my own journals and tried to learn my own spiritual lessons. I often found that the real lessons were learned in life experiences, and many of my life experiences confirmed truths of scripture. For example…

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