• 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

False Claims: Why You Should Be Skeptical Of John W. Loftus, IV

I want to preface this installment of the series by focusing on a comrade of Loftus’ named articulett–one of the people who literally trolled every thread I commented on–and now claims the following:

That wasn’t the first “creepy” thing that he wrote, clamat. He has made some “threatening” odd non sequiturs in a few posts and I haven’t read all his posts so there may be more.I started to skip over his posts when he started getting to scarily “irrational” from my perspective. I’m afraid of the irrational. If he believes in devils and demons and that atheists are such or in league with such, then he’s not someone I feel safe conversing with. And a couple time he referenced right wing sorts of rhetoric and it made me wonder if he might be a gun enthusiast. I don’t trust irrational people with guns– even if they are just on the internet. I may be over reacting, but I think the majority of theists posting here regularly are much “saner” sounding. [articulett]

I originally laughed at the irony of using the handle “articulett” while making basic spelling and grammar errors, but, this seems nothing less than blatant character assassination. It could be possible that articulett genuinely believes this heap of garbage, but I remain skeptical because–as usual–this “skeptic’s” claim is not accompanied by any positive evidence whatsoever, despite the fact that John’s out there telling everyone on his blog they should ask for positive evidence for that which they accept as true! Can the inanity really know no boundaries at DC?

Folks, I assure you I made no “threats” or “right wing” rhetoric or any weird gun comments at John’s blog, and I openly challenge anyone to prove otherwise. I’ve already organized an index of all my commentary at DC, so, my words are right there, ready for analysis. Would a person trying to avoid accountability for what they write provide such a courtesy?

Next up on the “let’s make any false claim we want despite the evidence” agenda, we have Loftus himself:

The thing is ana, I have addressed his concerns about me being a hypocrite since I never took the OTF. Then he repeated that accusation again up above. He doesn’t listen. He’s out to smear. It’s idiotic to claim I’m a hypocrite. … You see, cl is a moron who does not learn from me because he does not trust a thing I say. He is in attack mode. Surely not an attitude of mutual learning. And so he needs to become educated from his own side in order to engage us. He doesn’t trust a thing we say because like Satan we’re only here to deceive. [John W. Loftus]

If you look at the thread, you’ll notice that Ana asked John to address my claim instead of railing against my alleged character deficiencies. John, as you can see, replied that he did, but he didn’t–as you’ll see when I quote myself in a moment. He replied to the wrong claim!

Getting back to it, John’s claim that I labeled him a “hypocrite” regarding his failure to take the OTF is absolutely false. Either he isn’t actually reading what I say, or he’s deliberately lying. I do not know which is the case, but I do know those are the only options. The truth is, I was very careful to specifically avoid the charge of “hypocrisy” regarding John’s failure to take the OTF. This is because I honestly don’t know why John didn’t take the OTF he preaches. The fact that he didn’t doesn’t necessarily make him a hypocrite. Maybe he has reason for his exemption that I’m not privy to?

On a tangential note, I dislike those who take the liberty to attribute ill motives to other human beings in internet discussion, where we often lack helpful physical cues like inflection, posture and countenance. I take great pain to avoid charging people with things like “intellectual dishonesty,” because it’s near impossible to know if someone on the internet is really being dishonest. It’s all too easy to let prejudice and confirmation bias mistakenly fill the gaps in our irrational human minds. I’m much more likely to chalk up disagreement to the “communication breakdown” factor. We should pay our interlocutors the courtesy of good faith. Miracles can happen when we do.

Anyways, the evidence for my claim that John either isn’t reading or lying can be found in the very thread John made the aforementioned false claim on, right here:

In other threads, I’ve been accused of charging you with hypocrisy for pointing out the fact that neither your conversion nor your deconversion resulted from an OTF. As I replied then, I do not believe this fact can be attributed to hypocrisy on your behalf. However, this is the point where I will state–unequivocally–that you are being a hypocrite. You cannot say, “We should all ask for positive evidence for that which we accept as true” on the one hand, then turn around and literally litter the internet with claims unsupported by positive evidence on the other. That is hypocrisy.

Now, as you can see above, I most certainly did accuse Loftus of hypocrisy, but not regarding the OTF as he falsely claims. Rather, I charged him with hypocrisy because, as we discussed here, he cannot say, “We should all ask for positive evidence for that which we accept as true” on the one hand, then turn around and literally litter the internet with claims unsupported by positive evidence on the other. That is hypocrisy. I stand by that claim, and submit that I have justified it. Did I “repeat the accusation” that John is a hypocrite for not taking the OTF? No, a thousand times no! I never made that accusation. As far as I recall, I charged him with hypocrisy one time. I just explained why and provided the link. Yet, John thunders on about me not listening!

So, there are a few more reasons why you should be skeptical of John W. Loftus: he makes false and derogatory claims about people who challenge him, and either negligently overlooks or purposely distorts the things they say. If by chance Loftus decides to read this, hey buddy, no hard feelings, but… you’re in the wrong here.

Lastly, I’d like to ask anyone who feels I might be worth it to go to that thread and demand positive evidence for both articulett and Loftus’ false claims I’ve mentioned in today’s post. Ana is doing the best she can, but, as usual, they’re ganging up on her and making non-sequitur after non-sequitur. The question of why atheists at DC argue in packs aside, I think John would be more open to hearing what another atheist has to say on this matter, but I encourage anyone to get in there.

Back to your regular programming, and I promise the next few posts will not have anything to do with John W. Loftus.

Egregious Special Pleading: Why You Should Be Skeptical Of John W. Loftus, III

I realize some of you are probably as bored of this as I am, but, I need to take a few moments to add to the record here. Over at Victor Reppert’s, John implied that he banned me because I violated his comment policy [comment February 16, 2011 5:50 AM]. I’d like to take a few moments to point out the problems with this claim, and cite them as further evidence in support of my claim that you should be skeptical of John W. Loftus.

Of course, we’ve already touched on the first problem, which is the inconsistency between John claiming that we should all ask for positive evidence for that which we accept as true on the one hand, then turning around and littering the internet with unsupported claims on the other. As you might expect, he continues this trend when he accuses me of violating his comment policy while failing to include even a single link that would substantiate his claim.

Alas, from Loftus’ comment policy:

This blog is open to comments by anyone interested, provided: (1) the comments are civil in tone, (2) they speak directly to the issues discussed, (3) they are not spam-like sermons, or book length comments; (4) they don’t monopolize the discussion or repeatedly offer ignorant off topic comments; and (5) they come from Blogger profiles that are make public.

Now, unlike Loftus, I happen to be a fan of including links to substantiate my claims whenever possible. What is my claim? John W. Loftus holds believers to different standards than he holds himself and his atheist comrades to. For example, from Loftus, in violation of (1) and (2), when I simply expressed concern over the fact that neither his conversion nor his deconversion resulted from the OTF:

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 of 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 faith. [source]

Was that comment civil in tone or related directly to the issue? From Loftus, again in violation of (1) and (2), when I simply mentioned that I’d wrote this in response to his claims about science debunking Christianity:

cl, before even reading what you wrote please tell me of your credentials. Prediction: whenever you ask a non-credentialed hack this question he’ll respond that credentials don’t matter. [source]

Was that comment civil in tone or related directly to the issue? From Loftus, again in violation of (1) and (2), when I asked him to reconcile his claim that we should all ask for positive evidence for that which we accept as true with his claim that science has shown there was no Exodus:

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. You need to learn from your side why your arguments are ignorant. You won’t listen to us. [source]

Was that comment civil in tone or related directly to the issue? From articulett, both in violation of (1):

Learn to have fun eviscerating the religiotard blowhard. [source]

…I’m glad that suckers like cl believe in them. I aim to support those who are trying to break free. To me, cl is like the Scientologist I linked who was posting at an ex- Scientolgoist site–trying to sucker others back into the fold. These people always seem so slimy to me… [source]

Were those comments civil in tone or related directly to the issue? From Cipher, after he engaged me on the question of science’s proper scope, in violation of (1) and (2):

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. [source]

Was that comment civil in tone or related directly to the issue? From Gandolf, in response to the aforementioned transaction with Cipher, in violation of (1):

Types like ci [sic] will not likely disappear anytime soon.I understand you getting sick to death of their endless bullshit. But if we don’t tackle dealing with them, they`ll be out there busily crowing that its all because we cant deal with them. Theists like ci [sic] purposely hope to split the ranks. Divide and rule was their motto, just how they did within religion with use of shunning and seperation [sic]. F**k em. [source]

Was that comment civil in tone or related directly to the issue?

Did Loftus ban himself? No.

Did Loftus ban articulett? No.

Did Loftus ban Gandolf? No.

Did Loftus ban Cipher? No, in fact, Loftus replied with an apparent nod of approval and a wink:

cipher, how unlike you! ;-) [source]

So, unless he’s blatantly guilty of the most egregious special pleading ever, why did John W. Loftus really ban me? Might it be because, like I said yesterday, we should be skeptical of John W. Loftus because he holds believers to different standards than he holds himself and his atheist comrades to? Might it be because of my persistent questioning and demanding that he reconcile the inconsistencies in his arguments? Might it be because, at the behest of my persistence, at least one of his precious atheist comrades couldn’t take the heat and left John’s blog for good? I’ll let you decide.

Let me know if any links are broken.

Banned In DC!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist! Skateboarders, old-school punks and other misfits will certainly appreciate this parody! Besides, a half hour in Photoshop on a rainy night was more than worth the uproarious laughter I enjoyed while doctoring this little gem! Just look at the Loftus, black hat and all, his right hand raised almost too conveniently in the appropriate salutary position associated with one of history’s most famous demagogues—who also wasn’t much a fan of free speech!

For those not privy, Banned In DC is the name of one of my favorite Bad Brains songs. They wrote it after finding themselves the victims of an “unofficial” ban in the nation’s capital. As I explained here, the moniker also describes my fate at the hands of the Loftus, das Führer over at the “critical thinking” blog, Debunking Christianity, often referred to as DC. Banned in DC! Get it? You might not think it’s too funny, but I assure you that I’ve been laughing so hard I practically wet myself! So, there you go: even cl stoops to mockery when it seems appropriate, and here, it seems appropriate: censorship is un-American, and antithetical to free thought. Feel free to use this image on your own blog or website, or anywhere else for that matter. If you decide to make T-shirts or stickers, gimme gimme.

In all seriousness though, since when has censorship brought us any closer to the truth?

Inconsistency & Personal Attacks: Why You Should Be Skeptical Of John W. Loftus, II

I suppose the question for tonight’s installment is, Where should I begin?

In his post, Listing of Cognitive Biases, Loftus states, unequivocally, the following:

We should all ask for positive evidence for that which we accept as true.

Okay, if there’s one thing I admire in (a)theist discussion, it’s a firmly cemented goalpost, and I think the above certainly qualifies. How about you? If you agree with me, perhaps it won’t be much of a stretch to gain some empathy for my consternation at the transactions that follow. As I mentioned in the introduction to this series, in his article, Top Seven Ways Christianity is Debunked By the Sciences, Loftus states, again unequivocally, the following:

[science] has also shown us there was no Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt.

Rhetorically persuasive, perhaps, but the problem is, in direct contradiction to his claim that we should all ask for positive evidence for that which we accept as true, Loftus accepts this as true, without a lick of positive evidence! Worse, as I pointed out, John completely ignores bonafide positive evidence that challenges his claim, like the fact that we find references to a nomadic tribe of Israel in Egyptian epigraphy, for example the Stele of Merneptah, discovered at Thebes by Sir Flinders Petrie. Written in hieroglyphics, the stele records the boasting of Merneptah, who ruled Egypt in the early thirteenth-century BCE and claimed that he had “humbled Israel.” The omission of the customary determinative sign denoting “land” implies that the “Israel” Merneptah humbled was a nomadic tribe. This is significant because a nomadic tribe of Israelites in early thirteenth-century Egypt is most certainly a prerequisite for the Exodus. Further, if Merneptah conquered this nomadic tribe—as the stele records—is it unreasonable that a remnant fled? The point is, Loftus argues from the gaps, plain and simple, after hypocritically crucifying believers over and over for doing the same thing.

Of course, this was all covered in my opening to this series, so, I’d like to introduce a few more examples of Loftus making claims without any positive evidence to substantiate them. From Victor Reppert’s blog, in the context of miracles and their persuasive power:

Here’s a dilemna [sic] for the modern charismatic/pentecostal church: Either their experiences of miracles, speaking in tongues and exorcisms are the same as what the NT believers and disciples experienced, or they are not. If yes, then why is it those experiences do not convince anyone but those who already believe; that is, why is it these miracles have little or no convincing power? [John W. Loftus, comment January 30, 2006 2:43 PM]

You see what just happened there? Never mind what he said earlier about the requirement for positive evidence; Loftus simply asserts what he needs to bolster his case, and again, he ignores bonafide positive evidence that would challenge his claim. In that same thread, in direct contradiction to Loftus’ claim, we find the following two comments:

John, this may be true of your experience, but is certainly not true of mine. I am not a charismatic/Pentecostal, but I attended a Pentecostal church for six years. I went initially because a good friend of mine, a lapsed Catholic and a very intelligent and worldy person (basing his life, on his own admission, on “sex and drugs and rock n roll”) was invited by a friend to attend a vibrant and contemporary Pentecostal church. He was so impressed with the miracles and the apparent work of the Holy Spirit that he came to me as the only “regular christian” he knew to ask me questions. His first two questions were: “Do you believe in speaking in tongues?” and “Do you believe in divine healing?” He was very impressed and ultimately convinced by the things you have just suggested no-one is convinced by… [unkle e, January 22, 2010 5:34 PM]

First of all, let me say that my belief in the miracles of the Bible are not because they are written in the Bible, but because I have seen them today. [Anthony Fleming, February 15, 2011 12:56 PM]

Clearly, Loftus needs to admit he was wrong, retract his claim, make the necessary emendations, and try again. Has he? Not yet. Am I surprised? Not at all. Are you?

Moving along, here are two more examples illustrating why I believe you should be skeptical of John W. Loftus. In his post, Reppert on Ridiculing One’s Opponents, the Loftus tells us:

I totally agree with [Reppert] when he wrote: “I really dislike ridicule, from either side of the fence.” [Reppert] also said, “I consider the ridicule heaped on atheists that I see on some blogs to be a bad witness.” I think the same as [Reppert] does when it’s the atheists who are doing the ridiculing. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for some of it in some forums specifically addressed to the proverbial “choir” for venting and/or entertainment purposes. It’s just not something I pander to here at DC from either side of the fence. [John W. Loftus, emph. and brackets mine]

Really now? Granted, that post was from 2006, but, did John W. Loftus have a change of heart and conveniently forget to tell the world? I ask because, as recently as this month, he’s directed the following towards me:

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 of my deconversion at all. You’re too stupid to realize that regardless of it you must deal with the arguments in the book. [John W. Loftus]

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 W. Loftus]

I don’t know about you, but it sure seems to me that Loftus is more than willing to pander to that which he unequivocally claimed he was not. As for the whole “banning” thing, well… guess what? He banned me! Loftus writes:

…what made me decide to ban cl was his statement that he would come back here no matter what I did. I was not going to ban him until he said that. It revealed an utter disrespect for my wishes.

Oh, excuse me! I can’t help but wonder: did John think his insults revealed utter respect for my wishes? Again, we get a double standard. All of a sudden, the Loftus would have us believe that being respectful of one’s wishes is something he’s concerned about. If that’s the case, why did he contradict his stated position on insults by showering them upon me? I assure you, I did not wish to be insulted. Again, what’s good for the goose apparently is not good for the gander. Pure, unadulterated hypocrisy. You can read all about it, right here. I encourage you to comment, since I can’t defend myself anymore.

So, to summarize: you should be skeptical of John W. Loftus because he holds believers to different standards than he holds himself and his atheist comrades to. You should be skeptical of John W. Loftus because he eschews cogent rebuttals in favor of childish insults. Lastly, and most importantly in my opinion, you should be skeptical of John W. Loftus because, when held accountable to his own claims, he resorts to the aforementioned stratagems borrowed from fascists and other authoritarians throughout history.

Since when has denigration and censorship brought us any closer to truth?

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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