• 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

Phil’s Failure: Responding To Faith’s Failure, 2.0

So, right about here, atheist agnostic blogger Phil Stilwell popped up and claimed that “Christianity refutes Christianity,” offering, among others, the following argument:

P1 Jesus considered those who believe with less confirmatory evidence more blessed that those who believed with more evidence. (John 20:19-31)

P2 Falsehoods are more likely to have less confirmatory evidence at their disposal than have truths.

P3 Those who believe with less confirmatory evidence are more likely to believe falsehoods.

C Jesus considered those who are more likely to believe falsehoods more blessed. (P1 – P3)

My initial response was that P2 is mere assertion. Phil asked me to state what I believe about evidence and justification, and I answered. I later explained that even if I accept P2 for the sake of argument, Phil’s syllogism remains unsound on account of P1. In between his insults, Phil kept asking me to repeat myself, which I did here, here, here, and here. Now, Phil’s offered a new argument, and I’d like to address it separately from Faith’s Failure 1.0, which–I believe–we are still discussing.

P1 The degree of belief/disbelief in any non-tautological proposition must map to the calculated balance of relevant confirming/disconfirming evidence as assessed by the epistemic agent for that belief/disbelief to be deemed rational.

P2 A human epistemic agent accesses the world subjectively, and therefore is necessarily limited to subjectively obtained relevant confirming/disconfirming evidence when entertaining a non-tautological proposition (rather than having an objective view and understanding of the totality of all the confirming/disconfirming evidence).

P3 For a human epistemic agent, the calculated balance of relevant confirming/disconfirming evidence for a given non-tautological proposition necessarily falls on a continuum inside the poles of absolute confirmation/disconfirmation to qualify as rational. (P1 & P2)

P4 Any rational belief/disbelief of a human epistemic agent in a non-tautological proposition necessarily falls on a continuum inside the binary poles of absolute certainty. (P1 & P3)

P5 Any source that promotes binary and absolute belief/disbelief for human epistemic agents is promoting irrationality. (P3 & P4)

P6 The Bible promotes binary and absolute belief/disbelief for human epistemic agents. (Acts 16:31 / Acts 8:37 / Romans 10:9 / John 3:16 / Mark 11:24)

C The Bible promotes irrationality. (P5 & P6)

My first goal will be to translate Phil’s premises into simple language, because they strike me as unnecessarily verbose, and unnecessary verbosity tends to detract from clarity. Unless one wishes to portray an air of academia, why use 30 clunky words where 5 or 6 simpler ones will suffice? Once I have paraphrased Phil’s argument to his approval, I will then go on to address it’s premises. My interpretation of Phil’s argument follows:

P1 rationally-held beliefs require a preponderance of evidence.

P2 humans have limited access to evidence.

P3 evidence puts one somewhere between absolute confirmation and absolute disconfirmation.

P4 rational beliefs fall somewhere between absolute confirmation and absolute disconfirmation.

P5 promoting certainty is irrational.

P6 the Bible promotes certainty.

C The Bible promotes irrationality.

So, Phil… again the ball is in your court. Which of your premises would you say I’ve accurately paraphrased? Which would you say I have not?

A Recipe For Victory – Acts 1:8

For some time now, I’ve felt pressed to give TWIM a bit of a new direction. Make no mistake: I will still address arguments in philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind, science, etc. However, I feel the need to share some of my writings directed specifically at believers, in the hope that they might find a different sort of encouragement here. In keeping with that, today I offer a short piece I wrote almost ten years ago, in hopes that somebody might be encouraged, regardless of their beliefs. As a matter of fact, I’ve been encouraged merely from re-reading the piece, especially at this pivotal time in my life. I hope another can say the same.

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An Open Challenge: Why You Should Be Skeptical Of John W. Loftus

A few months ago, John Loftus claimed that science debunks Christianity.

I’m not a fan of these types of claims, which are essentially sweeping generalizations that contain what I’ve referred to in the past as “the precision of 2×4” as opposed to, say, that of a sharpened #2 pencil. Of course, any (a)theist who’s spent even in a minute in the trenches knows that both science and Christianity are usually emotionally charged keywords that carry more baggage than a bellman at Luxor Grand. The author’s choice of words literally begs the reader to plunge headlong into a frenzy of racing and polarized analysis, fueled on reaction determined by the color of one’s glasses.

Talk about fodder for the culture wars.

Nonetheless, I’d like to focus on a few of Loftus’ claims, and specifically challenge Loftus to take responsibility by supplying the necessary emendations to justify his arguments as needed, and/or admitting their lack of cogency as hitherto presented. Of course, the challenge is open, which means I’m interested to hear your input as well. In fact, I suspect Loftus won’t even respond, but… we’ll see. May he prove me wrong.

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There Just Might Be Roller Coasters In Heaven

Atheists often remark that they would find traditional concepts of the afterlife boring and unsatisfying. I tend to sympathize with them: I would, too. You might think that’s an odd thing for a believer to say, but, allow me to explain.

In a recent discussion on William Lane Craig’s argument that life without God is absurd, Polymeron described heaven thus:

Bliss that is eternal and irreversible. To me, personally, this still lacks something; I don’t know that heaven is something that I could feel I am working toward, so it does not really qualify for what I consider purpose.

Another commenter, Steven, wrote:

Back as a Christian, when I was told that Heaven might be worshiping God for eternity, I despaired. It seemed so boring. But for my pastor, it was the grandest thing.

An old buddy of mine–the Spanish Inquisitor–recently dedicated an entire post to this subject. SI begins by reproducing a snippet from the Catholic Dictionary:

In Holy Writ the term heaven is used to designate the dwelling-place of God, His angels, and saints, as well as their happiness…The supernatural beatitude of heaven fundamentally consists in the intuitive vision of God, i.e., the seeing of God face to face and in experiencing perfect happiness through this beatific vision.

In response, SI writes:

I can’t speak for anyone else, but to me that’s very unsatisfying. If I’m a good boy all my life on earth, and I qualify for a slot in  eternal nirvana, all I get, as my just reward, is an “intuitive vision of god”? WTF? Am I finally going to meet this guy, face to face, or will I only intuit the meeting? I thought heaven was a fun place where you got to have ecstatic, near orgasmic experiences; where existence had no down side, no negativity, where everything was always positive, always creating joy and happiness, where all the suffering we experienced on earth was non-existent.  A beatific vision is simply a joyful vision. While that might be uplifting for a few seconds, what about the rest of eternity?

A few paragraphs later, SI asks the million-dollar question:

Is it possible that the blueprint for heaven is already in front of us?

My answer is an emphatic yes, but we’ll return to that shortly.

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3 Questions From Leah

I recently discovered a blog called Unequally Yoked, maintained by Leah, a Yale student. In her post Your Faith Is Vain; Ye Are Yet In Your Sins, Leah invites believers to answer a few questions regarding their faith. Here are my initial offerings:

1. What earthly evidence could cause you to reject your faith (if any)?

I was just thinking about this [yet again] the other day, and while I'm hesitant to say any of the following would cause me to reject my faith, each would certainly cause me to have stronger doubts:

1.1 If recorded history could be reliably proven to extend back hundreds of thousands of years, as opposed to 6,000;

1.2 If scientists could prove that the universe always existed;

1.3 If there were no such thing as entropy;

1.4 If we had an absence of spiritual accounts instead of a consistent abundance of them spanning across multiple cultures in all times;

1.5 If the Jewish race had been exterminated or otherwise died off;

1.6 If humans lived to be significantly older than 120 years without the aid of science.

2. Have you researched these possible disproofs yourself/read the work of scholars in the field?

You bet.

3. Does your faith make any empirical predictions about the earthly world? What are they?

I believe the Bible makes quite a few empirical statements about the future of the earthly world. Here are a few off the top of my head:

3.1 The writer of Hebrews states that the cosmos will "wear out like a garment." That's certainly an empirical statement, in fact, one that seems empirically verified [hence my 3 above];

3.2 The Bible states that the Jewish race would be extant up until the final hour;

3.3 In Revelation, John of Patmos describes a state of affairs where nobody will be able to buy or sell goods without the "mark of the beast."

Reason, Intellect, Religion, & Belief

I feel the need to clarify a few things. In general — but in this post especially — when I say belief, I refer specifically to the belief that God exists as described in the Bible. When I say believer or saint, I refer specifically to those who have believed and known God, and henceforth accepted the provision of the Gospel: Jesus Christ. Unless in the pre-stated context of Roman Catholicism, when I say the church, I refer to the body of believers and saints spread across the world.

The biblical definition of a believer is one whose spirit has been regenerated by God. Does this mean that any person who utters with their mouth "I believe" is regenerated thusly? Certainly not. Although the church is the body of believers, not every person who attends church believes. In fact, the Bible grimly suggests the opposite, and such is borne out by the testimonies of former Christians everywhere. The difference between being a member of the church and simply attending church is precisely this matter of regeneration. Again, belief refers to something that actually happens to the subject in the spiritual realm. Anything less than this is a mere puffing up of the religious mind.

I prefer these words to the generic Christian or Christianity because they tend to provoke less emotional activity and confusion. I further believe that denominations are error, and please take caution not to interpret that statement as an expression of smugness: I'm not saying that all denominations are false and that I myself am privy to some special revelation besides that which God is freely willing to give to whomever He pleases. Rather, I mean that the existence of denominations is itself an error of division within the body of believers. In the interest of promoting unity, I will tend not to categorize believers as Baptists or Calvinists or Methodists or what have you.

That being said, I would like to make it clear that belief cannot be effected by reason, intellect or religion. The reason simply stated is that only God can regenerate a dead spirit. Only God can enable our belief (John 6:65). We will expound on these points in much greater detail in weeks to come, as they tie directly to the tripartite model of consciousness we'll discuss later this week.

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MiracleQuest Continues: Another Response To jim

While doing some "fall cleaning" around here, I found today's post in the "drafts" folder.

Although the original exchange occurred over a month ago, and I'm unsure why I'm responding to a guy who banned me from his blog for an unspecified "breach of honesty" while he apparently has no problem calling me names like "mealy-mouthed prick" all over the internet, but dedication to the arguments must overlook the uglier sides of debate. Granted, I know what one or two of you might be thinking: "Ah cl, we hate it when you rehash these 'he said this, I said that' arguments. Why burden us with your own online social difficulties??" It's not that. Rather, I feel there are some cogent rebuttals here on my part, and I thought it would be a waste to just trash the post.

So, let's get to it. Comments welcomed.

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