25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 7)

25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 7) August 7, 2018

Let’s wrap up our exploration of stupid arguments Christians would do well to avoid (Part 1 here).

Stupid Argument #23: Atheism is an empty philosophy.

“There is no basis in atheism for morality. A consistent atheist would admit that the holocaust was not evil based on atheism. All that he can say is that stuff happens” (from commenter Al).

No basis in atheism for morality? There’s also none in chemistry, but so what? Atheism doesn’t propose to define or explain morality; it is simply the lack of god belief (or some close variant). That’s it. If you’re looking for a formalized approach to secular morality, consider the Humanist Manifesto or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Seriously, Christians, avoid this one. It invites a critique of your own worldview which, unlike atheism, does claim to provide moral guidelines. And they suck. With a God that commands genocide and condones slavery, your morality lives in a glass house.

Stupid Argument #24: You really believe in God.

You must just hate God. Or you’re an atheist because you are too proud to bend the knee. Or because you had a bad father. Or you don’t want to give up your hedonistic lifestyle. Or you had a bad experience with a religious person.

“You really believe in God, you just hate him” was the laughable punch line in the move God’s Not Dead. The mean professor, when a child, pleaded with God to not take away his mother, but she died anyway. (My review here.) Someone who believes in God is not an atheist. And not me.

Some Christians seem determined to begin with “all men are without excuse” from Romans 1:20. If there is no excuse, then atheists’ arguments must somehow be invalid, and they must actually be believers who willfully reject the truth.

I’ve responded to the weak “atheists must’ve had a bad father figure” argument here. The same kind of Freudian analysis by which some Christians imagine that atheists had a poor father figure (and so reject their supernatural father) just as easily argues that Christians who grew up with strong fathers invent a supernatural father to avoid the fear of being alone.

Here’s another angle on this idea that atheists are actually believers. From a pastor (quoted by Friendly Atheist):

How many atheists do you know that want to fuss and fight with you about trolls, and about Smurfs, and about fairies? None of them. They all want to fight about God. Why? Because you don’t fight stuff that’s non-existent. You fight stuff, that, in your conscience, you know is existing.

We push back against Christians because Christianity (at least conservative U.S. Christianity) is the bull in society’s china shop. Christianity supports hateful social policy and attacks the separation of church and state that protects both Christians and atheists.

Stupid Argument #25a: Rationalization.

“Life is . . . like a ray that starts with a point called birth and extends on into eternity. . . . That gives you a very different perspective on suffering, on evil, on anything bad that might happen to you in your life. . . . Any period of suffering . . . becomes smaller and smaller relative to eternity [as you proceed along the ray of life—it becomes] a quick, brief instant.” (from Christian podcaster J. Warner Wallace)

Any injustice you might experience in the world? Just shake it off because we should compare it relative to the all-you-can-eat buffet and bottomless coffee that is heaven. (And you thought Christians didn’t view moral arguments from a relativistic standpoint!)

The Bible puts it this way: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). This is analogous to punching someone and then giving them a million dollars in compensation. Yes, you’ve given compensation, but that doesn’t justify the injury! In the same way, “God compensates for the injustice in your life” doesn’t get God off the hook, since he still caused that suffering.

Rationalization has its place. If you have conflicting claims X and Y and you are certain that X is true, it makes sense to assume that Y fits in somehow. The problem is when X (for example, “God exists”) is assumed true with insufficient evidence.

C.S. Lewis’s rationalization for the Problem of Evil was, “Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” He can’t imagine a bungling god and he can’t imagine no god, so somehow evil must be there for a good reason. Here again we have the Hypothetical God Fallacy where God is presupposed so that we can imagine that omniscient God must have good reasons for things we just don’t understand.

The Bible itself has these rationalizations. Remember when Jesus predicted the imminent end? Rationalization becomes damage control when it doesn’t happen on schedule.

In the last days scoffers . . . will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?” . . .

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:3–8).

So Jesus was wrong by 2000 years and counting? Well, yeah . . . but . . . but that must’ve been part of the Plan® all along. Yeah—that’s what it was! All along, God wanted to bring as many believers as possible to the Kingdom, so he’s just delaying the inevitable. So rationalize a catastrophe by assuming God’s plan is right on course.

Or take the embarrassing conquest of first Israel and then Judah. What happened to Yahweh’s protection? Was he weaker than the gods of the other countries? Well, you have to understand that Yahweh was just using the Assyrians and Babylonians to teach God’s people a lesson (Ezekiel 36:19, for example). Yep, he was in charge all along. No other option is conceivable.

(Ideas on avoiding rationalization here.)

Stupid Argument #25b: God as the unfalsifiable hypothesis.

“Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over the latter” (Christian apologist William Lane Craig).

If prayer works, that’s because of God, and if it doesn’t work, that’s also because of God.

If good things happen, God is blessing you, and if bad things happen, God is testing you.

If God does something good, praise the Lord, and if God does something bad, you just misunderstand (because it was actually good).

Heads, God wins; tails, God still wins. For some people, nothing will falsify God belief. (I’ve written more here and here.)

Conclusion

Christians, get out of the echo chamber. These arguments sound good only before they’re tried out in the real world. Arming yourself with these arguments is like walking the Hollywood set of a Western town—everything is pretend.

But the good news is that now that we’ve gotten these bad arguments out in the open, no Christians reading this will use these useless and embarrassing arguments, right? Surely, that’s the last we’ll see of them.

Christian apologists might say that these 25 arguments (and the ones I’m sure to be blogging about in the future) are ridiculous. Who would use them? I’m afraid that I’ve seen these arguments and more. If you’re saying that these arguments are ridiculous, yes, that’s the point. Spread the word.

The chains men bear they forged themselves.
Strike off their chains and they will weep for their lost security.
— John Passmore

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(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 10/20/14.)

Image via Casey Hugelfink, CC license

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  • Damian Byrne

    Another one they shouldn’t do is and to quote a Christian on a site I debate on
    “Here is how you can test if God is true.. By openly seeking God… You can start reading the scripture (the evidence), determining if the Disciples explanations make sense.


    When I pushed back on that, the response was
    ” I don’t not believe Tcg because it is “personal testimony”, the reason I don’t accept his claim is becuase of the claim itself, to where he claims to have sought God and came up empty handed….I just don’t believe that is the truth because I genuinely believe that anyone who seeks God will find God (which is a quote from Jesus)… And when Tcg makes these claims about seeking there is no way to verify it, which would disprove Jesus’s claim about God which I know to be true. So if I know Christianity is true, and someone wants to assert a completely unverifiable claim as evidence it’s not true… well… let every man be a liar and God true.

    As far as personal testimony goes, saying something is true or false based solely on it being personal testimony, and not on the contents of its claim, would be absurd. We all believe some personal testimony, and we all disbelieve other personal testimony… Any person you think is telling the truth you might believe, while anyone you think may be lying you m8ght disbelieve. I would suggest to you it has nothing to do with “personal testimony” and everything to do with the content of that testimony.”

    Basically, don’t proposes “tests” where you refuse to accept an outcome that contradicts your beliefs, where you force yourself to brand non-believers as liars simply because they say they sought God and didn’t find him.

    • Kevin K

      As if we haven’t read their book of myths…

  • Tawreos

    “How many atheists do you know that want to fuss and fight with you about trolls, and about Smurfs, and about fairies? None of them. They all want to fight about God.”

    I am sure that most of us would rather fight about more important things than god. There are football teams, Star Wars vs Star Trek, Kirk vs Picard,… If christians weren’t trying to push their religion into every nook and cranny they can find we wouldn’t have to fight them on it.

    • Damian Byrne

      “Kirk vs Picard”
      The correct answer is Ben Sisko.

      • Tawreos

        I thought it was established knowledge that Kirk vs Picard was a battle for second place. =)

        • Damian Byrne

          Good, another enlightened soul! Praise Jebus for seeing the truth!

        • Kev Green

          Absolutely. No one can possibly compare to Archer as captain.

      • Grimlock

        Lies!

        To be honest, I’ve always been rather fond of Janeway. (Though not the part where she “evolved”. That was just weird, and I refuse to accept that as canon.)

      • Zeropoint

        Damn straight!

      • Guestie

        Hmm. I recently finished power watching my way through Enterprise. I now on DS9. I never saw Enterprise when it came out. I mostly enjoyed it; especially the built in jokes about stuff that happens in the “future” that we already know about from other series. I had seen a few episodes of DS and was not favorably impressed. Too much like a soap opera (apologies to soap opera buffs). A nephew kinda sneered at me for liking Enterprise and was aghast that I didn’t like DS (though he said the first 2 seasons of DS weren’t very good.) So, I’m halfway through season 2 now. It does feel a lot like drinking boring beer. Too much like a soap opera and I’m finding it hard to like many of the characters (except Dax and Odo.)

        If things don’t improve, Sisko is going to be pretty far down my list.

    • Anthrotheist

      It almost seems at times that there may be someone who actually benefits from the fruitless battles over god’s will on society; particularly those who don’t want to see real consideration of fights like democratic socialism vs laissez faire capitalism, militarism vs de-escalation, and universal vs for-profit healthcare.

    • Grimlock

      Dude. There’s no reason to fight about Kirk vs Picard. Of course it’s Picard.

      Also, am I the only one here who’s geeking out over the new Star Trek series starring Jean Lu Patrick Stewart?

    • Tommy

      I like it when they put God in the category of trolls, smurfs, and fairies. Hilarious.

  • RichardSRussell

    Or take the embarrassing conquest of first Israel and then Judah. What happened to Yahweh’s protection?

    The descendants of Abraham have spent almost their entire existence —thousands of years — in exile, captivity, slavery, oppression, persecution, 5th-class citizenship, and oblivion. If that’s what it means to be God’s “chosen people”, I’m really really glad that God never chose me!

    • Greg G.

      “Let me tell you the one thing I have against Moses. He took us forty years into the desert in order to bring us to the one place in the Middle East that has no oil!”
      ― Golda Meir

    • Raging Bee

      And they’re one of the few peoples who NEVER became an advanced, cosmopolitan empire like Britain, Japan, Spain, China, or even Russia.

      • ThaneOfDrones

        Well duh. How can you become an advanced empire without bacon?

  • I roll my eyes each time I hear a believer say that atheists hate God, are choosing to be rebellious, or just want to sin. No, dingbats, we just don’t believe in god.

    And the “no excuse” argument from the bible is bull feces- where in nature is it evident that the evangelical Christian God, or Allah, or Ganesh, or Zeus, or any other deity is real? And what about believers in non-theistic religions – what are they missing?

    • Greg G.

      The best response I have seen for that is, “I don’t hate God. I hate Santa Claus. Christmas, 1964. He knows why.”

    • Michael Neville

      Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans as a sales pitch for his new religion. Telling them they already believed in his god was part of the pitch, which would have been easy for polytheists like the Romans to accept.

      • Rudy R

        Catholics are actually polytheists, whether they care to admit it or not. Do they not pray to Mary and all the saints to curry favor or to reap some benefit?

        • Greg G.

          Catholics are actually polytheists,

          Quite determined polytheists at that. The Trinity was invented so Christians could worship God the Father and Jesus the Son and still pretend to be monotheists, then they invent saints and worship them, too, and invent new excuses to argue that they don’t actually worship them.

        • Michael Neville

          All Christians are polytheists. They pretend that there are three persons in one god but when asked to explain how that works, “it’s a mystery”. When the First Council of Nicea (325) decided that Jesus was divine it was further decided that the Holy Spirit was also involved (personally I suspect the Christians had three gods so as to not be confused with the Zoroastrians who have two). So it was decided there was a trinity. However the theologians couldn’t figure out how to remain monotheists while having three gods so “it’s a mystery!”

    • eric

      On top of it’s baloney-ness, it’s also circular: citing a biblical claim as true in order to try and argue that we should accept biblical claims about God as true.

      Because of this, it seems to me the ‘secretly believers’ argument is really an internal policing one – something Christians use on other Christians, in order to address any questioning of faith. You’d have to be pretty dense to think “the bible says you’re really a believer” is going to be a cogent argument to sway someone who rejects the bible as any source of authority.

    • Rudy R

      And add to that, atheists don’t believe in sin.

  • Kev Green

    I really don’t have that big a problem with the idea of being rewarded later for suffering now. In fact, if someone wishes to punch me in the face for a million dollars, contact me. I’ll expect half up front before we meet.

    But, if infinite reward justifies finite suffering, doesn’t that also mean that infinite punishment can never be justified by finite sin? By putting in perspective the difference in scale between finite and infinite they reveal their God to be a monstrous sadist.

    • Greg G.

      It’s only $900,000 to punch me in the shoulder.

      • Careful. You’ll make it a race for the bottom.

      • Tommy

        A lifetime supply of pizza to kick me in the shin.

        • Michael Neville

          So for two lifetime supplies of pizza can I kick you in both shins?

        • Tommy

          Maybe a lifetime supplies of pizza and bread sticks to kick me in both shins.

        • Michael Neville

          That price is too high. You’ll have to kick yourself in the shins.

        • Greg G.

          I get a lifetime supply of pizza and I get to kick you in the shin? Well, as long as it isn’t Papa Johns.

    • Their religion has more plot holes than the Chris Pine reboot of Star Trek.

      • Tommy

        A cemetery has better plots than their religion.

        • Greg G.

          A cemetery promises a better afterlife for most people than the Christian religion as a whole.

  • Raging Bee

    “Atheism is an empty philosophy” is pretty rich coming from people who deliberately empty their lives and minds of everything that isn’t directly about Jesus and nothing else.

    • Ficino

      Especially since lack of belief in a god or gods is not a philosophy.

      • Raging Bee

        Neither is belief in a god or gods. Some religions do build up more of a philosophical system than others, but in most cases, I suspect the belief comes first, and the philosophy is made up — oops, I mean built up — on/around it.

    • ThaneOfDrones
  • Grimlock

    Christians, get out of the echo chamber.

    Spinning off of this, here’s a challenge to any Christian reading this, that will allow you to demonstrate your familiarity with the opposing position. Let us choose an apologetics argument with which we are both somewhat familiar. I will defend it, and you criticize it. Let’s see who does the better job.

    Here are some suggestions for apologetic arguments: Kalaam cosmological argument, Plantinga’s modal ontological argument, Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism, the argument from contingency, the fine-tuning argument, the moral argument, or an historical argument for Jesus’ resurrection.

    The gauntled has been thrown at your feet. Will you pick it up?

    With a God that commands genocide and condones slavery, your morality lives in a glass house.

    Somewhat off-topic, but I read your recent exchange with Armstrong on slavery, and I can’t comment there, as he locked the comments. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I particularly liked your suggestion that he get a trusted friend to summarize his behaviour. That gave me a good laugh.

    The same kind of Freudian analysis by which some Christians imagine that atheists had a poor father figure (and so reject their supernatural father) just as easily argues that Christians who grew up with strong fathers invent a supernatural father to avoid the fear of being alone.

    Not to mention that, according to the authors of Why we believe in god(s): A concise guide to the science of faith, several people with bad parental figures actually seek out Christianity to gain such a parental figure. (The aforementioned Armstrong had a fairly recent post on the “absent fathers hypothesis”, to which I made a rather extensive response. Which, predictably, he ignored…)

    How many atheists do you know that want to fuss and fight with you about trolls, and about Smurfs, and about fairies? None of them. They all want to fight about God. Why? Because you don’t fight stuff that’s non-existent. You fight stuff, that, in your conscience, you know is existing.

    This gets my goat every single time I see it. How hard is it to comprehend or even figure out that atheists in general just don’t like the negative consequences of organized religion? Is it such a foreign idea?

    ETA: Typos.

    • Kevin K

      I fight about Smurfs quite a bit with people who tell me I’m going to hell for not believing in Papa Smurf and Handy Smurf, who fixed things for our sins. And because of that, we should never-ever masturbate, because that makes Smurfette cry. Or how we shouldn’t allow gay people to get married because we’ll be caught by Gargamel.

      Yeah, I’m quite sure it’s the Smurf fans I’m arguing with.

      • ThaneOfDrones

        And because of that, we should never-ever masturbate, because that makes Smurfette cry.

        Also, it turns your skin blue.

    • Rudy R

      KCA does not argue for the existence of a god. There is no word “god” in the argument.

      • Kevin K

        According to the website “Philosophy of Religion”:

        The Kalam Cosmological Argument
        (1) Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.
        (2) The universe has a beginning of its existence.
        Therefore:
        (3) The universe has a cause of its existence.
        (4) If the universe has a cause of its existence then that cause is God.
        Therefore:
        (5) God exists.

        • Rudy R

          According to that website, but that’s not the KCA. It stops at #3. WLC adds the extra baggage.

        • Michael Neville

          Other apologists also add the extra. The KCA was originally a Muslim apologetics argument..

    • I particularly liked your suggestion that he get a trusted friend to summarize his behaviour

      I honestly was trying to help him out. Did you see that he wrote a post today about how he banned me? I suppose we’re all blind in this way to some extent, but it’s amazing that he could reread the comments and not see that his comments had a lot of anti-Christian attitude.

      I can see a Dave Armstrong drinking game: you take a shot whenever he brags about how he’s been putting atheists in their places for 9000 years, brags about how he’s got it all figured out (vs. the other Christians), uses the Courtier’s Reply (“Yeah, come back when you’ve had a little education in philosophy and religion, OK?”), or is simply hateful.

      I haven’t read his latest, but you might OD if you played this game while reading it.

      • Otto

        >>>”…his comments had a lot of anti-Christian attitude.”

        Jesus approved…that makes it OK

      • MR

        Say, isn’t this your second banning on his site?

        • Michael Neville

          Apparently the first one didn’t really count or wore off or something.

        • You know how I hate to brag.

      • Grimlock

        I assume you were trying to help, but I’m not surprised that it wasn’t taken that way. I made a couple of remarks on the post he wrote, and it looks like it’ll be one of the more lively comboxes over there. Might get fun.

        That drinking game sounds fun! But it’d go contrary to my wish of keeping my liver alive.

    • Pofarmer

      How many atheists do you know that want to fuss and fight
      with you about trolls, and about Smurfs, and about fairies? None of
      them. They all want to fight about God. Why? Because you don’t fight
      stuff that’s non-existent. You fight stuff, that, in your conscience,
      you know is existing.

      This gets my goat every single time I see it.
      How hard is it to comprehend or even figure out that atheists in
      general just don’t like the negative consequences of organized religion?
      Is it such a foreign idea?M

      Yep, if they’d shut up about it, there’d be no arguing.

  • John MacDonald

    Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes? (Groucho Marx)

  • Rann

    How many atheists do you know that want to fuss and fight with you about trolls, and about Smurfs, and about fairies? None of them. They all want to fight about God. Why? Because you don’t fight stuff that’s non-existent. You fight stuff, that, in your conscience, you know is existing.

    No….. Trolls and Smurfs may exist but I never fight them because they’ve never disturbed me, EVER…. let alone knock on my door. I choose to fight asinine “Christians” that knock on my door, uninvited, and disturb my R&R on Saturday mornings with their ravings.

  • Ficino

    “We push back against Christians because Christianity (at least conservative U.S. Christianity) is the bull in society’s china shop. Christianity supports hateful social policy and attacks the separation of church and state that protects both Christians and atheists.”

    Exactly. I don’t see a lot of anti-Jain or anti-Pharsee pushback from atheists, at least in the US.

    • Kevin K

      Fucking Jains… /s

  • Ficino

    Great series, Bob. What can a Christian reply? Not much except maybe “You fail to understand Act-Potency” and then to fall back on “you love sin.”

    Keep on writing!

    • Kevin K

      Simple answers:

      You fail to understand Act-Potency

      There is no such thing. We live in a quantum universe. Act-potency is dead as a doornail in a quantum universe. Everything … meaning everything … is probabilistic in nature. There is a non-zero chance you could type the next comment while sitting on a mountain on Mars (right before you die of exposure and oxygen deprivation). It’s a really-very-infinitesimally small chance … but it’s real.

      You love sin

      Sin is as non-existent as the gods. Sin is defined as an offense against the gods. Since gods do not exist, therefore it is impossible to offend them. Ergo, sin is non-existent. There are behaviors you personally find acceptable, and behaviors you personally do not find acceptable. The ones you don’t find acceptable, you try to cheat by claiming it’s a god who finds them unacceptable.

    • Thanks! I’m glad you enjoy it.

  • Yeah, how about that claim in 2 Peter 3.9. It makes no sense whatsoever, even the math is way off. God would have to delay his judgement indefinitely if he wanted to avoid punishing most of mankind. That’s because new ‘unsaved’ humans are appearing all the time – about 353,000 are born every day. The longer God leaves it, therefore, the more unsaved humans there will be, simply because, as time goes on, the more of us there are. If he’d got on with the judgement in the first century, like Jesus said he would (Matthew 16.27-28 etc), then the unsaved would have been far fewer.

    BS from beginning to end.

    • A great example. Add to that: 2 Peter is pseudepigraphical.

      Christianity is like a liar who gets caught in a lie and then makes another lie to fill in. The result is a pile of nonsense.

  • Rudy R

    #24 is also a failure in that even if I did believe the Abrahamic god existed, I would never worship that vile and immoral being.

    • heleninedinburgh

      I always like ‘Who are you to judge God?’ Er… I’m a person who doesn’t want to kill thousands of people in floods, earthquakes and tsunamis, make children die lingering painful deaths, and invent bubonic plague, smallpox and Ebola.

      • Rudy R

        And aren’t theists “judging” god to be good? This one seems to allude whatever logical thinking they’re capable of.

        • heleninedinburgh

          I wonder if it’s a tacit admission that if their god were judged by the same standards we use for people he’d probably be sent to Broadmoor.

  • Hey–did you hear the one about how I was mean to Patheos Catholic blogger Dave Armstrong? He spills all with “Why I Blocked Anti-Theist Atheist Bob Seidensticker.” What’s fascinating is how he looks at our conversation and determines that I am the one who’s hateful. Anyway, here it is, for anyone who’s interested. (I haven’t read it.)

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/08/why-i-blocked-anti-theist-atheist-bob-seidensticker.html

    • Otto

      Oh I am interested…I will give him some credit though. Of all the Christians I have dealt with on the blogosphere he is quite probably the worst and most dishonest. So there is that.

      • Raging Bee

        That’s a pretty bold claim to make!

      • Ficino

        So, Brandon Vogt by comparison?

        • Otto

          I don’t know him.

        • Pofarmer

          Not a huge loss. He’s a failed engineer and atrocious liar who currently works for Bishop Robert Barron of Word on Fire ministries, who isn’t much better. They are styling themselves as “Evangelical Catholics”>

        • Otto

          >>>”They are styling themselves as “Evangelical Catholics”

          Oh….my. There is a scary image.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s worse in practice.

        • Otto

          Great…now I have to look and see what this is about.

        • Greg G.

          He’s a failed engineer

          He decided that making an honest living wasn’t for him.

        • Pofarmer

          I have a feeling it’s much simpler when no one can check your work.

        • Greg G.

          Getting hired as an experienced engineer depends on reputation.

        • Susan

          Brandon Vogt by comparison?

          Worse.

    • Otto

      After a quick peruse….Slavery is complex! Owning other people as property is very complicated, and you just can’t get it through you head that the Christian position of “Love your neighbor” doesn’t automatically lead to outlawing slavery. It takes thousands of years to mesh those two concepts in Christian theology. Since you can’t see that and you refused to look at ALL the Christians who have rationalized that issue, and won’t take Armstrong seriously when he tries to explain just how complex the whole issue is (even when a simple rule is in place to Love your neighbor), you are a bigot and a troll not interested in a complex discussion. Banhammer engaged!

      • I’m much more sympathetic to the very quick dismissal of the entire project: Christianity got the easiest question–“Is slavery morally acceptable?”–wrong, so it can’t be backed by a good god. Since Christianity claims that its god is good, it fails. QED.

        I suppose Armstrong is playing a reasonable game, given that he’s holding a very bad hand of cards. He’d do himself a lot of good if he’d drop the asshole persona, but I suspect that’s just who he is.

        • Otto

          1) I don’t know your experience with Catholicism but it really is built around taking simple issues that don’t make much sense and making them as complex as possible in an effort to make them seem reasonable. The fact that you won’t buy into that mind wankery drives Catholics like Armstrong right up a tree.

          2) He is a complete arrogant asshole and I doubt that has a whole lot to do with his religion, other than exacerbating the problem

        • Pofarmer

          I dunno. They took things that make sense now, and made them as convoluted as possible to cram them into their theology. Now they stamp their feet and pout as they are found to be wanting.

        • 3vil5triker .

          For a different take on the subject I recommend checking out Mark Shea’s recent article: The Death Penalty Kerfuffle.

          I’ve seen at least two distinctly different approaches to Catholic doctrine. The first one, used by Armstrong, takes the position that the Church is and has always been free from error, so they place a lot of value on consistency. As a result, they find themselves playing an increasingly more complex game of “Simon Says” and force themselves into a corner to defend the indefensible in order to maintain that illusion of extensive backwards compatibility.

          The other approach places more emphasis on the doctrine’s continuity, on how it progresses over time as basic moral principles become applied more consistently, similar in some ways to a secular humanistic approach. I find these to be more intellectually honest and willing to call a spade a spade, at least when it comes to their own Church’s past and present failings, blind spots and shortcomings.

          That’s why in Mark’s piece, he responds to the question of “Is slavery morally acceptable?” with an unequivocal “no”, and to the question of if the Church supported it in the past, he’s free to say: “yes, and they were wrong to do so”.

        • Otto

          Yep, hardliners and liberals. In the past the liberals were the heretics. Now they are the ones dragging the Church into the 20th Century, but it might be too little too late.

          Good for Mark, but it shouldn’t be a difficult conclusion.

        • Long ago, I responded to one of Shea’s snarky anti-atheist articles. I don’t have much regard for him, either, but it is nice to see that he does confront the slavery issue a little more honestly.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/01/response-to-an-angry-christian-2/

        • 3vil5triker .

          Eh, I think he’s mellowed a bit out since then, especially since a significant portion of his audience and commentators are atheists themselves.

          Also, people are complicated and multi-layered. I think a subject like Atheism plays against the core tenets of their beliefs, where they have invested a significant portion of their identity, whereas other subjects are less threating and give them significantly more leeway in their approach.

          in this sense, when dealing with Atheism, not only are Christians holding a very bad hand of cards, but they’re forced to go all-in all the time. I know it varies per individual, but seriously, what would happen if they admitted that the atheist position was reasonable? Their entire worldview would crumble.

          I guess what I’m suggesting is that we should cut people some slack when it comes to the subject of Atheism; there is a lot more going on under the surface. Of course, if they throw down the gauntlet all bets are off, but also keep in mind that there is more to them than their approach and reaction to Atheism.

    • MR

      Ha, ha, his typical m.o. 😀 He should have to deal with the likes of Dishonistes Clementes and some of the other trolls you get around here. Then he might appreciate you!

      • 3vil5triker .

        Well I heard from See Noevo that he got banned by Dave, so there’s that. Then again, he admitted to getting banned from most Patheos Catholic blogs, so overall they have way less patience for his particular brand of nonsense.

        • MR

          Yeah, that makes sense. Plus Dave seems pretty self-centered. It’s part of one there.

    • Lark62

      Congratulations. Well done.

      When I tried to comment, I found that I have also been banned and didn’t even know it. If I care I’ll look thru my history to find the offending post. It’s probably just as well as I wanted to ask what’s so fucking complicated about “don’t own people”? He probs wouldn’t like that.

      • Grimlock

        I think he wrote a post about interacting with you around the time he started an argument with Jonathan Pearce. I remember it because he made a big deal out of his annoyance with anonymous nicknames, a criticism which I found to be in rather bad taste. I’d bet you could find the post by searching for your name on his blog.

        • Lark62

          I’m famous and didn’t know it!

        • Damien Priestly

          Actually, that happened to me too !! Dave created an OP about my comments, and I didn’t even know it — for a few days !!

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/06/reply-to-a-condescending-atheist-re-science.html

          He always resorts to the “scientism” pejorative…and demands we accept things outside of science such as philosophy or theology as equal or better ways to get to a god. Yet he refuses to accept that these fields are fungible, and can reasonably or logically conjure up any kind deity or lack of deity without any empiricism.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          So I should expect to be referrenced in the follow up?

        • Grimlock

          Looks like you were. Much fame!

        • Damien Priestly

          If it wasn’t for atheists…he would not have anything to post about !!

        • Otto

          It is what gets his blog moving. Have you ever looked at a post he has done about some fine point about Catholicism?….tumbleweeds

        • Pofarmer

          Gotta have the 5 minute hate to get the troops moving.

        • Lark62

          LoL. I’ve been famous for over a year and never knew it. I feel so speshul .

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2017/07/atheist-double-standard-demands-empirical-evidence.html

          It was nice of Davey to repeat and amplify all my comments so well.

        • Lark62

          I have to share. I am rarely bluntly rude, but since I was gonna be banned by Dave anyway, why not.

          And he wasn’t sure if Lark 62’s Anonymous Nickname was Lark62?If “Lark 62’s Anonymous Nickname” is “Lark62” he’ll find out? Wow. It was a tad obvious.

          Hope you enjoy as much as I did: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/aa8cec13ac9880a3f6009306b5e7b843ac008a62f0f13f661bd3c6864a297cff.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/325fe3018b84b9afeb7a594814025ba36ffb4bd28aec9b7295bd126b27faba39.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9aa1be1a2ab63a16a767977754877ea6ddaae16fc4553c1b483b43fcc83cec47.png

        • Grimlock

          I have to say that I found your response perfectly appropriate!

        • Ctharrot

          Okay, this is small beer, but using “papers” to describe blog posts? (A not insubstantial number of which appear to be just repurposed comment threads.)

          Pappy Ctharrot would’ve called that “puttin’ on airs.”

        • Pofarmer

          50 books? You don’t need 50 books to prove relativity. Fer Pete’s sake.

        • Otto

          I am betting very little in those books has anything resembling evidence for the claims of Christianity or Catholicism.

        • Pofarmer

          Are you saying Dave’s a bullshitter?

        • Otto

          I would say he seems so backed up his eyes have a definitive earth tone color.

        • Greg G.

          So, you’re saying his brown eyes don’t come from eating chocolate.

        • Pofarmer

          I had to explain to him why I used an anonymous nickname. Mainly because theists are assholes.

    • Raging Bee

      Hey–did you hear the one about how I was banned from Dave Armstrong’s blog for reasons never specified? Neither did I, until just now, when I typed one character in his comment box and got a little red message saying I was banned.

      And he goes to such ridiculous lengths to quote you and explain why he’s blocking you. Sort of like the little kid who has to announce to THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD that he’s ignoring someone…

      • Otto

        I got banned for refuting a claim he made about the Catholic Church with citations….oh and he didn’t like my tone.

        Probably the easiest site to get banned from on Patheos

        • Susan

          Probably the easiest site to get banned from on Patheos.

          Yes. He’s developed quite the reputation for cherry picking visitors quotes, editing out any substance and proclaiming victory.

          I wonder how long I would last.

        • Otto

          >>>”I wonder how long I would last.”

          I would put the over/under at 2.5 post and personally bet the under.

        • Grimlock

          I wonder how long I would last.

          Only one way to find out!

      • Welcome aboard! I’m in good company.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        I’m on the ban list over there too, but in the words of Monty Python (modified), I’m NOT a little conciliatory…

        • Greg G.

          If you complain, nothing happens. You may as well not bother. Armstrong’s blog is abuse. If you want an argument, you must go to another page.

        • Otto

          Stupid git…

        • And unlike the Monty Python skit, you can’t even pay to get it. You’re just excluded.

    • Damien Priestly

      Well, he sure pays a lot of attention to your blog…he notes that CE is popular and quotes it like crazy! So maybe he is a contrarian fan…probably looking these comments over right now…

      …Hi Dave, what’s new in the Catholic Church these days?…Oops that abuse stuff; sorry I asked !!

      • Perhaps Dave has been a Poe all along, and he’s doing our dirty work over there, making Catholics look bad with his faux asshole persona. If so, I’m sure he’s following these posts.

        Nice work, Dave!

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t think it’s a faux asshole persona. But, maybe.

        • Unfortunately, I think you’re right. I don’t know if he’s just that way naturally, or being pressured into confronting uncomfortable truths about the weakness of his position makes him desperate. Either way, not a pleasant person.

        • 3vil5triker .

          The thought has crossed my mind on several occasions. Either he’s a Christian Apologist who’s really bad at this job, at least when it comes to Atheism, or he’s an excellent troll that has everybody fooled. Or it could be both: a bad apologist that resorts to trolling from time to time.

        • But here’s the frustrating thing: I think he makes poor arguments so that an objective observer would give him a poor grade as an apologist. Nevertheless, he could be effective in giving some Christians whatever pat on the head they need. He sounds kinda smart, he’s very confident, so he scratches their itch.

          We live in a strange world.

      • Lark62

        Not to quibble, but abuse in the Catholic Church is hardly new….

    • Grimlock

      Fun fact: It didn’t take long before a variation of #24 popped up in the comments over there.

      • Note to self: consider writing a “25 stupid arguments” series with just stupid arguments made by Dave Armstrong.

        • Grimlock

          If you’re going to respond, that is a delightfully suitable way to do it! Please do.

        • Otto

          Oh…please please please please pretty please

          Edit: I saw 4 or 5 just in his responses to Grimlock and Lark and JAA2 in the comments of the piece.

        • Greg G.

          25? Are you sure it isn’t the same three or four over and over?

        • Lark62

          Sounds like a plan. I’ll bring the beer.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Title it so he’s aware his writings are under the microscope?

          😉

        • It’s very tempting to drop down to his petulant level, though I want to take a shower afterwards. I think I’ll just look at Dave falling back in my rear view mirror.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          “Living well is the best revenge” to borrow from Robert Heinlein.

        • Otto

          I don’t see anything wrong with examining his brand of apologetics since he claims to be so gosh darn good at it.

          Of course I would say to change the name to something else, you can address the issues without the invective’s.

        • That’s the crazy thing about it. When you’re trying to do it so that Jesus would be pleased, and then your enemy points out how badly your hatred presents your side, I’d have thought that you’d rein it in. But nope, that’s not how Armstrong rolls.

        • Otto

          That is the thing, I don’t feel I (or any of us here) am/are an enemy of Christianity other than pointing out the obvious problems with it. I am certainly not an enemy of Christians, most of the people I interact with professionally and personally are Christian. Dave wants to pretend like he is approached the question from a neutral position and the evidence/reasoning lead him to his conclusion. We are willing to have that discussion but as soon as we don’t see things his way he reverts to an emotional defense of claiming we are hateful bigots and dismisses us on that account. The sooner in his mind that he can rationalize our criticism as hateful the sooner he can dismiss everything we have to say. In my opinion that is the reason he picks through criticism, not to actually address valid issues but to try and find where he can label his opposition as just hateful throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

        • He’s gonna be hateful, so as soon as he can infer hatefulness in our comments, he’s happy–maybe that’s his approach.

        • Otto

          I really do think he injects a lot of snark and attitude in his own comments to get his opposition to respond in kind, and then dismiss them quickly. Whether this is a conscious behavior is up for debate, but is is unquestionably a defense mechanism… I have seen enough to draw my own conclusion.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          That’s not how any Christian seems to roll. Point out that they’re pushing people away from Jesus with their shitty attitude, and they immediately become even more hostile.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      I tried having a discussion with Dave, but he wasn’t too up for it, particularly distinguishing between “science is the only discipline that tells us new things about reality” and “science is the only legitimate means of knowledge”. The former is Bob’s comment and the latter is Dave’s reformatting of it, which strikes me as a rather obvious misrepresentation. As I said in a reply, I don’t need science to know that I’m thinking about a baby elephant in my garage, but I do if I actually want to know if there really is a baby elephant in my garage.

      Dave actually had an interesting rebuttal to this: that mere observation is enough to form that conclusion, which isn’t the same thing as doing “science proper”. This is a reasonable distinction to make, but IMO it is mostly linguistic – you began the scientific process but the nature of the claim required no further investigation. More importantly, surely anyone who made Bob’s statement concedes this point, no?

      Since Dave had levied accusations of scientism toward Bob and I, I felt a follow up was necessary. So I asked:

      The question then becomes, would someone blinded by scientism claim that mere observation isn’t enough to substantiate that an elephant is in their garage? Or how about something more mundane; does scientism require more than mere observation to know it is raining outside?

      The best way to summarize the follow up is simply to offer what I would have posted if Dave hadn’t locked the thread.

      There are constructive discussions that could be had about many aspects of scientism or near-scientism

      Great, so why not have them?

      even the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics were not initially “scientific” at all. Rather, they were non-empirical and philosophical / mathematical.

      Are you under the impression that using math and philosophy to generate hypotheses/predictions is not part of the scientific process? Even if we make this distinction, when do we consider something known about external reality, when the hypothesis/prediction is made or when it is substantiated by empirical evidence?

      You can probably surmise that the first quote was a snide dismissal about how I really wasn’t interested in the conversation. The second is more interesting, though, because it illuminates Dave’s thought process. He seems to think that once the beakers and bunsen burners are put away, people stop doing science. That the process of drawing inferences from the data and forming new hypotheses lies purely in the realm of philosophy. He doesn’t seem to realize that science was once called “natural philosophy”.

      If he wants to draw such a hard line, then that is perfectly fine. But he doesn’t get to pretend that he is using terms the same way Bob (and I) meant. Nor does he get to accuse others of dogmatic thinking that it required his own equivocation to conclude.

      • Otto

        >>>”Dave actually had an interesting rebuttal to this: that mere observation is enough to form that conclusion”

        It is an interesting rebuttal. But what if instead of an elephant we thought a dragon was what we saw. We would most likely need to do more observations, and if each subsequent observation seemed to confirm the original, at some point actual science would be done I think. We wouldn’t just stop and go ‘yep it was definitely and without a doubt a dragon’. Then add that instead of actually seeing it ourselves our neighbor told us about it but we never saw it, or now a group of people in Australia saw it. Are we ever just going to take the word of other people about such a claim?

        The type of thing seen matters, our previous experience matters. Dave is right that we as humans make a LOT of assumptions all the time and just go with them rather than doing hard science, but he doesn’t seem to realize that some claims are SO extraordinary that nothing but hard science should convince us.

        Now imagine trying to get Dave to have this discussion….ugh.

      • Grimlock

        The topic is open again. I’d be very interested to see you attempt to continue the conversation.

        • Otto

          I read your very thorough and completely fair assessment of the disconnect between what Dave perceives of his own interaction and his perception of Bob. You were absolutely spot on. You did not allow him to veer off topic and held the discussion right where it should be, but apparently there are just too many things that Dave views as self-evident, and if you don’t agree with his proclamations, well, complete dismissal is his last line of defense. Well done Grim. I commend you for not doing what many of us here have fallen for, which is being baited by Dave and falling for his trap so he can dismiss any criticism by claiming he is dealing with an unapologetic bigot and banning you. You put a whole lot of work into that reply and he summarily dismissed the whole thing unceremoniously.

          I highly recommend that anyone who is interested in how a person like Dave can be confronted on his behavior, without stepping on the land mines laid out for them, should read Grim’s response. Bravo. http://disq.us/p/1uo7rx9

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c0a9d9e01af39335cd12bf22d5c95476958051a5dbd67bb67fc50589d6d9a98b.gif

        • Grimlock

          Thank you! It’s always nice to be appreciated when one makes an effort.

        • Otto

          I read your latest response and his latest complete dismissal and deflection from the topic. I mean why would you deem yourself worthy to question his behavior on a post that supposedly is geared towards that issue? Watching a conversation between you and Dave is like watching a soldier run across no-man’s land, narrowly escaping every bullet and bomb, and the landmines he can’t see. I can’t believe you haven’t been banned yet…not that you have done anything ban worthy but that has never been an issue for Dave.

        • Grimlock

          Thanks. Unfortunately, I stepped on a landmine when I (once again) quoted his own words at him and made him look like a hypocrite. Clearly, that’s not acceptable behaviour on his blog. Oh well.

        • Otto

          Did you get banned?

        • Grimlock

          Yup!

          Pretty sure I can live with it.

        • Pofarmer

          To Quote Will Wheaton on “The big bang theory” about being on Sheldon Coopers Enemies list, “It doesn’t take up a whole lot of your time.”

        • Otto

          Unreal…I really don’t know how he can claim with a straight face that he is open to discussion and opposing arguments….don’t get me wrong, I am actually surprised you lasted that long…but you were always on point and never rude. My guess is he was pissed he couldn’t get you rattled.

        • Grimlock

          Agreed. It’s rather astonishing. To me it looks like his confirmation bias has gone into overdrive.

          To be fair, at some points I was rather blunt, but I always tried to never exceed the tone and rudeness he exhibited.

          I haven’t really been following his blog after he banned me without justifying it. Have you?

        • Otto

          I have glanced at a few things. I find it hard to read his stuff because I find him so dishonest. Mostly I like to watch people take issue with him in the comments. I kept an eye on your interaction with him because I found it fascinating to watch you ‘walk the razor edge’ as I explained before. I knew you would get banned though in the end, not because you actually did anything wrong but because that seems to be how he deals with actual arguments that he finds difficult. Yes you were blunt, but I don’t know how we are supposed to take an opposing view with him without being blunt. I grew up Catholic and so I am used to his type of behavior, he views the Catholic Church as the Ultimate Authority and he is the Church’s loyal officer, so to take issue with him is the same as taking issue with the Church…and that is just beyond allowable and is an insult in and of itself.

          It took me about 3 or 4 posts to get banned, I didn’t swear or call him names, but I was extremely blunt in my criticism and like I said, he views THAT and an insult and proof of bigotry. There is no way to ever have a civil disagreement with someone like that because disagreement is itself uncivil somehow.

        • Grimlock

          I skimmed some of the recent comments. Didn’t bother with the blog posts themselves. I… Was not particularly impressed.

          It seems a bit unfair to elaborate too much on what I think he does wrong now that he’s (justifiably) banned from responding here. Blah blah moral high ground blah blah. Let’s just say that your assessment matches my experiences, and for anyone reading this I recommending reading our interactions and make up their own mind if they’re in doubt.

        • Otto

          >>>”It seems a bit unfair to elaborate too much on what I think he does wrong now that he’s (justifiably) banned from responding here.

          I again commend you for your sense of fairness, I can’t say I share it completely but your point is well made.

        • Lark62

          Congrats, you’ve made it into the “Dave has misquoted me and used me for a blog post” club.

          Anytime now you should be earning a promotion to the “I’ve been blocked” level. Your certificate of accomplishment is in the mail.

        • Grimlock

          Thanks! But to be honest, this is actually the sixth post dedicated to an attempt to rebutt me. I’ve been semi-regular there since when he started trying to pick a fight with Bob back in May. There seems to be a rather predictable pattern to how I end up in a blog post; I make a comment he doesn’t like, and be makes a response in a blog post that doesn’t actually address the points that I was making. I then make a detailed counter-response in the comments (e.g. here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/07/predestination-mysteries-dialogue-with-an-atheist.html ), and he ceases the conversation.

          Haven’t been banned yet, but I suspect that it’s been close a few times.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s funny that he’s complaining about you taking his articles and comments apart piece by piece and then refusing to respond further. That’s kind of the fricking point. When put together it doesn’t make sense.

        • Otto

          And yet his blog is now practically dedicated to taking atheist comments and trying to rip them apart piece by piece.

          ‘Do as I say…not as I do’ should practically be part of the Catholic catechism.

        • Pofarmer

          Do you think he’s admitting the technique is effective?

        • Otto

          Well that is just self-evident…right? /s

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          PART??!! It’s the Zeroth Commandment!

        • Grimlock

          Agreed. I find it to be an excellent illustration of how apologetics at its core is all about reconciling believers with their difficulties, and not about investigating the truth claims of, say, Christianity.

        • Pofarmer

          If by reconciling you mean papering over.

        • Grimlock

          Well, yes. Reducing cognitive dissonance, or some such.

        • Grimlock

          Shoot, you were right. I got banned. Apparently, I made him look like a hypocrite when I quoted his own words at him. Clearly a ban-able offense.

      • 3vil5triker .

        The whole thing is a red herring.

        He can’t properly justify his own methods for “acquiring knowledge”, like divine revelation, miracle claims or appeals to faulty arguments, so he resorts to shifting the burden of proof by attacking science. But the point isn’t if “science is the only way of knowing anything” or if there are “other methods of gaining knowledge”. The point is that science, however limited in scope you want to define it, actually works: you can make claims, test them, verify them and ground them to reality.

        You can’t do that with the other methods he wants to use, so when confronted head-on he’ll obfuscate the issue however he can.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Yes, there does seem to be a whiff of “we can’t know reality is really real…. so my bullshit should just be taken at face value.

          That said, I do enjoy hearing other perspectives. The question of whether knowledge gained from a single observation counts as science is one I still find fascinating. Certainly if I continue the discussion I’m going to get agreement around these items.

        • Pofarmer

          What do you mean by “Single observation.” ?

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          That we don’t need any tests or hypotheses to know that it is raining outside, just look out the window.

        • Pofarmer

          Got it. But might you look again just to be certain?

        • eric

          Seems kind of a semantic issue to me. Rather than a binary knowledge/not-knowledge categorization, there’s a range of confidence we can have in conclusions, depending on how much observation supports them, how well they are explained, etc… This is even quantified in science. Three or four sigma confidence might be okay for some conclusions, but for others you really want five or six. I’ve produced data with big error bars. I’ve produced data with little error bars. It seems silly to me to try and create some bright line cut-off and say “lo! This first number be known, while this second number be merely guessed.” The error bar is a much more useful and precise tool than any English word label. I don’t really even need the label; I don’t care what some philosopher calls it, the math tells me more about it than their categorization does.

          If Mr. Armstrong wants to claim he has a high confidence in conclusions garnered through other methods, more power to him. If he wants to claim everyone else should have confidence in them, I don’t see why we should. The reason people have confidence in science isn’t because it’s conclusions fulfill some philosophical definition of ‘knowledge,’ its because of its past and current/ongoing history of success. Planes fly. Antibiotics work. Your computer works. For the public to gain that same confidence in philosophical or theological ‘knowledge’, it’s going to have to start working first – before people accept it. The acceptance and confidence in a method for knowledge-production comes after the working. [Which I guess sends us back to Hume’s problem of induction, but if it’s an inevitable human trait that we use induction even when we shouldn’t, then theological and philosophical knowledge-production methods are going to have to work with that flaw of human nature rather than merely whine about how unfair it is. Merely proclaiming that they don’t need no stinkin’ record of success because that presupposes induction isn’t going to hold water with most people.]

        • Pofarmer

          It seems theological knowledge only “works” when you can’t actually test the results.

        • Pofarmer

          Ah, yes. To make their pretend knowledge acquisition tenable they have to call all knowledge into question. Now where have I seen that before?

        • epeeist

          To make their pretend knowledge acquisition tenable they have to call all knowledge into question.

          Except of course they don’t, it’s our old friend the isolated demand for rigour. They want you to jump over something as high as pole vault when it comes your knowledge but place the pole on the ground when it comes to their knowledge.

        • Pofarmer

          And yet, they’ll never actually explain what their own level of rigour is, or how they delineate real knowledge from false knowledge. They’ll just whine about “other ways of knowing” but never how, ya know, actually reliable it is.

        • epeeist

          They’ll just whine about “other ways of knowing”

          On this front I tend to like the claims to Gould None-overlapping magisteria, Wittgenstein language games, Kuhn paradigms or Nietzsche perspectives so that they can claim you can’t judge theological knowledge claims by the same criteria as empirical claims.

          To which the response is, “Oh, you are a truth relativist”.

        • Otto

          Or they do the opposite and want the pole to be the same for accepting that a deer walked through your yard and their claim that God did [X].

        • Pofarmer

          Well, and he has to use special pleading to justify his special revelations but not all them other guys. It’s a mess.

      • eric

        [from Dave, I guess…]even the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics were not initially “scientific” at all. Rather, they were non-empirical and philosophical / mathematical.

        What the heck is he talking about? Einstein started thinking about special relativity specifically to resolve an issue in observational science: why, if moving charged particles produce a magnetic field, doesn’t something co-moving with a charged particle seem to ‘feel’ this field?

        And QM’s early history and the problems it considered (the ultraviolet catastrophe etc.) are well-documented. True, the early expressions started off as hypothesese and the math came before the testing, but that’s pretty much true of most hypotheses these days. You come up with a quantitative (i.e. mathematical) hypothesis that mostly fits what you know, and then you test to see if it fits what you don’t know too.

        • Pofarmer

          So, you/re saying Dave’s full of shit? In addition to being a thin skinned bully.

        • eric

          Well, I wouldn’t expect Joe random philosopher or theologian to know much about the origins of QM or relativity. So I wouldn’t normally think much of them getting it wrong. But yes, anyone who’s going to make assertions that Einstein (et al.) was doing non-empirical philosophy should at least go to the trouble of looking up the frakking title of his first relativity paper from 1905. It’s a dead giveaway to what he was concerned about. He was trying to figure out a way to apply Maxwell’s equations to moving bodies. How is that not science?

        • Pofarmer

          What Einstein was doing is explained perfectly by Aristotlean metaphysics. How could you miss that?

        • eric

          As lol as that is, it would still fail as an explanation since ‘explained by’ /= ‘motivated to do it by’

        • Pofarmer

          It’s motivated by The Fall! I mean, what else?

      • Pofarmer

        I wonder, how does Dave dilineate “Properly basic” Catholic beliefs from “Properly basic” hindu beliefs?

        • Grimlock

          Well, he just started blustering and ignoring me when I brought up the distinction between an internalist and externalist account of properly basic knowledge. So I’m pretty sure he’s simply quoting stuff without actually understanding it.

        • Pofarmer

          The hell you say?

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          It’s also confusing how a question of “how can we know?” can be answered with properly basic beliefs. The question is clearly asking for a methodology and beliefs – no matter how properly basic -are not a methodology.

          Sure, you could say that awareness of PBBs can contribute to the process of reaching other conclusions. But this raises the question, what beliefs could this not be said of?

    • Pofarmer

      You old meany you. Dave certainly has the aggressive/hateful schtick going on. He even uses it on other theists who rub him the wrong way.

    • Grimlock

      Can I ask a couple of question? Armstrong interpreted a remark you made to mean that you think that the only legitimate knowledge is scientific. I’m of the opinion that this is an utterly uncharitable and unreasonable interpretation.

      The remark you made is this,

      Science is the only discipline that tells us new things about reality.

      The context is discussing scientific results (e.g. abiogenesis, cosmology) that contradicts the Bible. The post: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/08/25-stupid-arguments-christians-should-avoid-part-6/

      Two questions:
      1) Do you believe that there are non-scientific knowledge, such as abstract knowledge like logic and mathematics?
      2) In the comment above, were you talking about scientific results, empirical reality, and such, as opposed to all types of knowledge?

      If you wanna answer, do you mind if I quote you on your answers?

      (If this works, I wanna write a paper titled “The very reasonable effectiveness of asking questions”.)

      • 1. Yes, logic and math is another kind of knowledge (though perhaps they are tools rather than a kind of knowledge?). Another important category would be fields that aren’t precisely science but are evidence-based, like history. I’ve noticed apologist who are quick to point out “yeah, but there are other types of knowledge besides science!” (meaning history and math, for example), but they don’t usually then go explore whether religion (or its ways of “knowing” like revelation and revealed scripture stand up to scrutiny like sciencey approaches do).

        2. My main point was that religion is where we get precisely none of our knowledge about reality.

        I’m not sure how helpful this is. Feel free to quote me, but keep in mind that the philosophically precise parsing of different fields, what the “scientific method” means or should mean, and so on is not my forte.

        • Greg G.

          The most reliable history is backed up by empirical evidence, too.

        • Pofarmer

          If religion is “another way of knowing” what exactly are we “knowing” about and how do we verify it?

        • Yes, that’s it. If empiricism is the way science does it but religion has its own approach, how do you know it’s a valid approach … without empiricism?

        • Pofarmer

          See, there’s that ugly scientism again. If only you had properly basic beliefs.

        • Grimlock

          Thanks for the answer! Unfortunately, I am now banned (after this exchange: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/08/am-i-the-christian-equivalent-of-the-angry-atheist.html#comment-4031441181 ), so I, for one, won’t be following up that discussion there. Oh well. Three months before I got banned! Is that some sort of record? I should get a medal.

          I’d say that religion gives us knowledge in one sense. You know DnD, right? With made-up rules and magic systems and whatnot? Religion gives us that kind of knowledge. The knowledge of made-up rules.

        • You hang out here–I’m not surprised you’re a naughty boy. Armstrong was just giving you a little tough love (or so he probably thinks).

          Yes, religion is like dungeons ‘n dragons. Or like the local sports team. Or even like the person who’s read the Harry Potter canon many times and always wins Harry Potter trivia. The difference, of course, is that those players know that these are just pastimes, and (deep down, anyway) they know that there’s no deep, objective truth in these games.

          The theists have other pretensions.

        • Grimlock

          Or even like the person who’s read the Harry Potter canon many times […]

          That would be me! Though not for few years. But I did recently read the Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality fan fiction over at LessWrong. Great read.

      • I just noticed that Dave wrote about you yesterday. His title is bizarrely self-reflective: “Am I the Christian Equivalent of the “Angry Atheist”?”

        Thankfully, after a quick browse, I see that his question was just rhetorical. Whew–the planets are back in their orbits.

  • Raging Bee

    Where the AF did you get that photo?! And why did you use it in this thread? It kinda reminds me of the weird broken statues in Vegas in “Blade Runner 2040-Something”…

    • It’s a nutty situation, and I’m talking about nutty arguments. I usually use flickr (filtering for Creative Commons permission) to find images.

      Often, my images are just interesting or eye-catching because I can’t find anything that directly relates to the topic.

  • Otto

    OK Dave ended his newest “paper” (lol) with this line.

    I think this outcome is inevitable if a person is in fact bigoted against Christianity (as I proved, I think, about Seidensticker back in May, documenting from his own words). They are incapable of having an honest, open discussion with a Christian.

    The first time I had ever heard of Dave was when he showed up on this blog to post. He had discussions with several of us and ended up writing blog posts about some of them and then invited us over to comment. He subsequently banned a number of us from his site. He has continued to ban more of us as we have commented. Bob has been banned twice now. Dave to my knowledge is still free to post here as are any of the Catholics that frequent his blog.

    Bigot: noun
    a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions.

    I would say banning people is about as intolerant as you can get on a blog. It is at times necessary and it is certainly at the discretion of the blogger. But c’mon….who is really showing themselves to be a bigot (a person intolerant of those holding different opinions)? This isn’t even a close call. Dave can’t stand to hear anybody offering blunt, stark criticism of Christianity or especially Catholicism, it does not matter if the criticisms hold validity or not. Now on the other hand Christians come to this site and spew all kinds of nonsense about atheists and atheism…and the response here is to talk to them, very rarely does anyone get banned. Dave’s lack of self-awareness is really something to behold.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      Ha! If I knew that I’d be the subject of a “paper”, I would have put more effort into wording everything more precisely from the get go. Live and learn, I guess.

      • Otto

        Now if we could just get it peer reviewed…;)

      • Pofarmer

        It’s a special kind of chicken shit to pull someone’s comments out of a blog without notifying them or at least allowing them to comment.

        • Tommy

          With people like Dave, chickenshit is their middle name.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Dave’s not lacking in self-awareness, IMHO.

      He’s just projecting like thermonuclear IMAX, to fool the rubes and keep them quiescent and in the pews.

    • [Dave said:] if a person is in fact bigoted against Christianity (as I proved, I think, about Seidensticker back in May, documenting from his own words)

      Bob: “… and that’s my opinion on boxers vs. briefs.”

      Dave: “And there you have it, my friends! Documented proof in his own words that Bob is bigoted against Christians, Christianity, and cute puppies.”

  • Greg G.

    Maybe we should all take this SMBC personally:
    https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/reverse-victorianism

    • Otto

      Haha…ok that is apt.

      My favorite saying I learned from my wife….’Hey! I resemble that remark!’

  • Pofarmer

    So, I’ve been quoted on Armstrongs blog. Wasn’t notified, and I have been banned there for a long time. The chickenshit comment stands. That’s a whole lotta butthurt over there.

  • Pofarmer

    Oh, and Shem the Penman is still a nit.

    • Doubting Thomas

      I always thought he was purposefully obtuse. He seems to be an atheist with a religious mindset and verbiage.

      • Pofarmer

        I think he wants to be accepted by both sides. Except he throws atheists under the bus every chance he gets.

        • Dave Armstrong

          So when you’re done gossiping and lying about me, you guys go after other atheists, huh? Don’t you have anything better to do? It’s embarrassing.

        • Pofarmer

          Shem is free to comment here, as are you.

          I would have responded to Shem on your blog, but I can’t.

          I am not free to comment on your blog, as are most others.

          Ironic, huh?

          It’s all your doing Dave. Your little shit show.

        • Damien Priestly

          For somebody who uses idiotic doctored graphical faces when creating new OPs to subdue “angry” atheists…”nit” is hardly out of line.

          Nothing unreasonable was said above about Shem…except for the hypersensitive. Shem, who I agree with sometimes; sometimes not…is free to come and add his input and defend himself…and you are too. I’m glad this is a free flowing blog, not an authoritarian one.

          …Unlike for those you quote in your posts who can’t respond themselves — because they have been banned.

        • Dave Armstrong

          Anyone here can get their words posted on my blog for all the world to see, because I’m not scared to present the other guy’s viewpoint in MY articles. Just take on one of my posts, point-by-point. That will guarantee my response, and then I’ll put the whole thing up in a new dialogue — both sides — and voila!, you get your wish to be read on my blog. It’s real simple. You can then stop your bitching and whining about non sequiturs, and be read by hundreds of Christians: whom you think you will persuade to become atheists: all courtesy of my love of dialogue and confidence that free dialogue will be a net victory for my side.

          You can find my email easily enough, to contact me and let me know about your in-depth rebuttals. I’m not gonna plaster it here.

        • Pofarmer

          This may be one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read. And that’s saying a lot.

        • Damien Priestly

          Yeah, lets all email Dave…hope he’s not holding his breath looking at his inbox.

          So frickin presumptuous!

        • Pofarmer

          Presumptuous is a good word, I think. Just imagine, Dave can share the troof of yahwehJesus with us. It will be grand. And if we don’t accept it unquestioningly. We’ll be banned.

        • Agreed. Assuming that last comment of Dave’s was in earnest, it is hard to imagine where you go from there. He has an inverted view of the world where he’s the seeker of truth, eager to see everyone get their say so that truth will win out.

        • Pofarmer

          Eric Hoffer.

          “The True Believers.”

          It all makes sense now. Dave has all the answers! Dave wants to show the world! Dave will save us all from HELL!!! HELL!!! and lead us gloriously to YAHWEHJESUS!

          At least in his head. When it doesn’t go as planned, that has to be frustrating.

        • Write a post that makes an interesting argument and I’ll think about it. You seem to prefer the “Atheists Were Mean to Me AGAIN!!” post.

        • Otto

          >>>”because I’m not scared to present the other guy’s viewpoint in MY articles.

          No you are just scared to let them comment.

          >>>”Just take on one of my posts, point-by-point.”

          Nah, we have seen what you do when that happens, you just ban or ignore.

          >>>”and be read by hundreds of Christians: whom you think you will persuade to become atheists:”

          You do most of the work for us and we really appreciate it.

        • ildi

          “Just take on one of my posts, point-by-point. That will guarantee my response, and then I’ll put the whole thing up in a new dialogue — both sides — and voila!, you get your wish to be read on my blog.”…”all courtesy of my love of dialogue and confidence that free dialogue will be a net victory for my side.”

          The way you do it is not what most people would consider free dialogue.

        • Adam “Giauz” Birkholtz

          I don’t care what one believes or doesn’t. Going after other people and their rights crosses my line Mr. animals grunting = informed consent. Whether anyone loses their religion or not is at best secondary to criticizing poor argumentation for religious beliefs.

        • Grimlock

          Just take on one of my posts, point-by-point. That will guarantee my response […]

          False.

          Proof by counter-examples:
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/05/bad-or-absent-fathers-as-a-strong-indicator-of-atheism.html#comment-3910492317
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/06/dialogue-w-atheist-origin-of-the-universe.html#comment-3971141502
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/07/predestination-mysteries-dialogue-with-an-atheist.html#comment-4006928836

          You’ll also note that we generally don’t find your editing of your so-called dialogues to be unbiased. You also appear to severely overestimate people’s desire to be the subject of your so-called dialogues.

        • Otto

          The last one was most glaring…he said the discussion ended in an atheist insult from you. I read your response 3 times and there was no insult. The closest I could fathom was when you called something he said a ‘ridiculous assertion’. That’s not just being hypersensitive, that is literally seeing things that are not there. In an interpersonal relationship his behavior is pretty much gaslighting. I have no idea what he is like in real life but if it is anything like what he portrays on the blog he is not a decent person to be friends with, or be in a relationship with. What he shows on the blog is highly abusive behavior…I hope that like most people his real life persona is different than the online version for the sake of the ones that share his space.

        • Greg G.

          What he shows on the blog is highly abusive behavior…

          That is the impression I got from where he said his rules were so simple a five year old could follow them. It’s like he has one basic rule – Don’t make me mad – but it means walking on egg shells not knowing what arbitrary thing will make him mad.

        • Otto

          Exactly…that is a trait of people with Borderline Personality Disorder…I am in no way saying he has that, but if I saw that in my professional life in working with one of my clients it would be a huge red flag. It is a control technique to keep people off balance because nobody knows what will set them off, that way people always try and ‘please’ the other person rather than risk aggravating them and then have to suffer the consequences. People like that never admit any substantial fault, because that would weaken their position, relationships are to be dominated, not exist as equals.

        • Grimlock

          That’s very interesting… While I don’t mean to imply a diagnosis either, I can’t recall Armstrong ever admitting to being wrong in a discussion. Despite at times it being overwhelmingly apparent that he’s wrong.

          In one of the first posts that I commented on, he wrote something that seemed to imply that he saw apologetics as never conceding that something could be evidence against Christianity. Naturally, I asked him to clarify ( http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/05/exchange-atheists-beating-christianity-straw-men.html#comment-3902959350 ) if that was in fact what he meant. He didn’t respond.

          Another time I tried to point out the distinction between A provides evidence against Christianity and A disprooves Christianity ( http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/06/evidence-for-god-inconsistent-endless-atheist-demands.html#comment-3936058372 ). But he was unable to give a clear answer.

          I guess I suspect his… struggles… with admitting to being wrong in a discussion could be related to how he perceives his role as an apologist.

        • Pofarmer

          Admitting doubt could let the sheep get out of order.

        • Otto

          There is that, and it is a very Catholic authority behavior. Catholics on the whole will take responsibility like anyone else, Catholic authorities not so much.

          Again I am not making a diagnosis, only commenting on what I see. If you are interested look up BPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder is closely related in symptoms but is slightly different) , the people who have that conditions are highly functional in society, that being the case it is far more prevalent than people realize. I tend to deal with people who exhibit such behaviors because of my profession more than probably most people.

        • Great–and we’re stuck dealing with the emotionally fragile apologist. Ah, well–it’s not like I had anything to actually do instead.

        • Greg G.

          Looks like Patheos is down but Disqus works. Or did Dave ban us all from Patheos? I tried two browsers on one network and one on my cell phone.

        • Yes, and for many hours. Everything’s fine now, I think.

        • Pofarmer

          People like that never admit any substantial fault, because that would
          weaken their position, relationships are to be dominated, not exist as
          equals.

          Holy shit but Catholicism is rife with that.

        • Otto

          I remember back before my wife and I got married, the Pope JP II apologized for a few things, I think it had to do with the Church’s involvement with the Nazi’s, stuff against Jews, etc. I was about 25 years old and it was on CNN. My jaw literally dropped and I watched it wide eyed. My wife couldn’t understand my reaction, I had to explain it was the first time I had ever seen a Catholic authority take responsibility for anything. I know it happens now but it is like seeing a white Rhino, extremely rare.

        • Pofarmer

          They did finally apologize to Galileo.

        • Otto

          Oh…another White Rhino!…lol

        • Raging Bee

          More like the fossilized remains of a white rhino!

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          That is god in a nutshell. From putting two ignoramuses in a garden with a tree that serves no purpose aside from being a source of danger and a slick talking serpent…. to expecting his “children” to worship him for an eternity, god has no interest in taking responsibility or helping us mature into healthy equals.

          It is quite possibly the worst parenting model ever devised.

        • Greg G.

          I wonder if serpents have free will.

        • MR

          I was thinking earlier, I hope he’s not married.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Anyone here can get their words posted on my blog for all the world to see, because I’m not scared to present the other guy’s viewpoint in MY articles.

          PURE bullshit.

          I just tried to post, and you still have me on your blocklist.

          Also, you’ll let stuff be posted….but then erase/twist it to make yourself seem a victim.

          WHY should we waste our time giving you text and clicks? You’re acting like an asshat and being completely unethical and opaque in your blog censorship.

        • Pofarmer

          Hold on. You’re not willing to grovel sufficiently in front of teh Dave to get posted on his Catholic blog? Well I never………

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          🙂

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Just take on one of my posts, point-by-point.

          Grimlock *did*…

          You banned Grimlock.

          QED

        • The only thing I said at Dave’s blog was that yeah, scientism is a thing. There’s no such thing as “external” reality, there’s just reality, and many modes of inquiry thereof.

          This guy Dave seems like a real jerk. But come on, what would you guys do without creationist trolls like him?

          Now carry on.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          The Problem of Hard Solipsism is interesting, but hardly useful in daily life.

          Until you can demonstrate relevance, I’ll go with science that demonstrably, REPEATABLY, shows us things about the Universe or helps us find out new things about the Universe.

          And if you don’t like that, that’s just too damned bad.

        • I think there’s a perfectly valid range of acceptable positions ‘twixt scientism and solipsism. I just think we tend to idealize science instead of looking at it in its proper philosophical, historical, and political context.

        • Damien Priestly

          Glad you came Shem…buI I am assuming Dave’s Catholic apologetics blog is following the RCC magisterium. Catholics are perfectly happy with evolution…so I would hope Dave’s blog is not a creationist hangout.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, sorta. They believe in “special creation” for humans.

        • Just when I thought Dave and I were going to go on tour together, he deleted my one post on his blog and banned me.

          I fear a discussion may follow.

        • Dave Armstrong

          Except I’m not a creationist.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          “External” or “empirical” reality are perfectly valid descriptive concepts. Are you saying our necessarily subjective perspective limits certainty around what is actually external?

          While this is true, it has little bearing on the discussion. Whether certain parts of reality or truly external or not, we still need a word to distinguish it and it still has its own means of investigation.

        • We use different modes of inquiry for “external” reality too. If we want to study black holes or ancient glaciation events, sure, our personal perspectives are going to be of limited help. That’s why we developed formalized, professional processes of theoretical inquiry.

          But most of what we as individuals know about reality just derives from sense experience and vaguely coherent processes of reasoning. That won’t suffice if we’re studying the Big Bang, but it gets us accross the street. And if we’re in value-laden territory like deciding what constitutes a just society or great literature, science alone won’t answer the questions.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          I don’t contest ant of this…. But I also don’t see how it rebuts what I said earlier.

        • I didn’t mean to “rebut” it, just to point out that I’m not making the weird claims about external or empirical reality that people hereabouts seem to think I’m making.

          Science is the only way to answer certain questions. But plenty of important matters aren’t scientific.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Ok, I did think you were veering dangerously close to solipsism. Thanks for clarifying.

        • solipsism isn’t so bad as long as it’s used properly.

          in fact, it can be a pretty useful way of looking at the subjectivity of knowledge.

          for example, when looking to understand the relationship between what what they can agree on, and what they’re willing to negotiate.

          if i picture this as not 1 world, but about 8 billion worlds, each beginning in us and extending as far as we can perceive + what we negotiate, it brings me to a much more effective way to understand disagreement.

          In some reactionary’s world, Trump is the savior of the nation.
          In my world, Trump is an unprincipled degenerate narcissist.

          I probably won’t convince the reactionary of anything that challenges that notion.

          His world is already mostly fixed. so is mine.

          But none of ours is *the world*, because there isn’t a universal common understanding of a world.

          Can I live with that?
          Can he?

          Where are my options for changing him? We’re in two separate worlds.

        • epeeist

          solipsism isn’t so bad as long as it’s used properly

          Yes, I am surprised that more people aren’t solipsists.

        • I don’t know that solipsism can or should be a primary mode of understanding with which one should move through life.

          but it can be a helpful tool in certain situations.

          i also don’t understand why people – who always do operate under different theories of meaning under different contexts are so adamant about finding a core one to live by.

          Seems pretty simple to me though, use what is useful, when it’s useful.

        • epeeist

          Ah, you didn’t spot my (admittedly obscure) reference:

          As against solipsism it is to be said, in the first place, that it is psychologically impossible to believe, and is rejected in fact even by those who mean to accept it. I once received a letter from an eminent logician, Mrs. Christine Ladd-Franklin, saying that she was a solipsist, and was surprised that there were no others.

          Coming from a logician and a solipsist, her surprise surprised me.

          Betrrand Russell, Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Value

        • yeah, I appreciate Russel, but I don’t read him a lot.

          He’s far from my favorite philosopher or theologian.

        • Some of my favorite theologians aren’t even theologians, but capture the essence of scripture better than folks like Stringfellow, or Wittgenstein.

          The Baedan collective’s A Journal of Queer Nihilism does a better job of capturing the setting off of antagonistic forces as a war between good and evil, and without ever referencing scripture, profoundly illustrates the dynamic of salvation and damnation better than most.

          Lee Edelman’s No Future similarly, approaches the outcasts in scripture better than Aquinas or really anyone that calls themselves a theologian.

          Hell, those cats brought me back to God.

          Even while being antagonistic toward the God of Abraham.

        • Taneli Huuskonen

          Solipsists of the world, unite!

        • Greg G.

          Dyslexics of the world, untie!

        • Greg G.

          Yes, I am surprised that more people aren’t solipsists.

          Yes, but you don’t really exist, do you?

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          No doubt, but appealing to solipsism to pretend that there is no difference between various forms of knowledge/exploration – which is what I thought Shem was saying – is definitely not proper usage. 🙂

        • i am not sure he was doing that, but i’ll let you two chew the fat on that. i’m not really here for it. no offense.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          He wasn’t, we cleared that up a few comments ago.

        • Dave Armstrong

          Duly noted.

        • Don’t you have anything better to do? It’s embarrassing.

          And you’re the one who answered, “So then why are you here now?” with “Mainly entertainment purposes, boredom . . .”

          So you’re just a trolling asshole. I’m surprised you’d make that so plain. Be sure to include this in your next post.

        • Dave Armstrong

          If you think I’m a troll, then ban me, since you say you have banned dozens of people. What stops you?

        • Pofarmer

          I’ll not speak for Bob, but my guess is because he thinks you might have something to add and might actually have some redeeming qualities.

        • And you change the subject. Of course.

          The subject is your childish, schoolyard attitude. You got nothing thoughtful to say? I’ve got 1000+ posts here attacking your worldview. You just going to let that stand? Or could you present a helpful new perspective that I’ve ignored on one or two of those posts?

        • Jim Dailey

          You have 1,000 posts from about 5 people.

        • Grimlock

          Not sure what you’re getting at..?

        • Pofarmer

          Not what he’s talking about.

        • Greg G.

          Bob means articles, not comments. If you mean comments, this particular article has nearly 400 comments from at least 17 different people, but none from regulars Susan or Ignorant Amos.

        • I was referring to the 1000 posts from me. I do have a handful of guest posts in addition, if that was your point.

        • Grimlock

          Hey Jim. It seems to me that you misunderstood Bob’s point. If so, don’t you think that mature thing to do is to concede as much?

        • Jim Dailey

          Whatever. So sorry.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You’re just an asshole, no more annoying than a fly.

          You’ll have to up your game to be considered a troll around here.

        • RoverSerton

          Dave is right, Ban the troll.

        • RoverSerton

          Dave wrote “I wrote this piece, because whenever I block a prominent atheist I catch hell either from the person involved, or his comrades, who then engage in tirades, lying about how I did so because I was scared or because I am an arbitrary censor who wants to shut down critiques of Christianity.” regarding the Banning of Bob.

          How do you “catch hell” when you ban any discord? He is a hack but please don’t ban him. If he isn’t here, I have now way of mocking him since I am banned on his site and don’t want to give him the traffic.

        • Dave had his 15 minutes here. Actually, quite a bit more. He had plenty of time to make himself obnoxious, so I’m afraid he’s been banned.

          I like your attitude, but at some point, a pest needs to be dismissed.

        • Susan

          a pest needs to be dismissed

          He would have bolted without banning. He can only survive so long when he’s not in control of everything.

          LIke his minions.

          I agree with Rover that it’s only outside of his domain that one can address him and show him for what he is.

          At the same time, I can’t imagine what it’s like to be the article writer and the sole moderator when everything else in your life has to be dealt with all day every day.

          Either way, Dave was just going to go back to his little patch of grass and proclaim victory.

          But the more rope you gave him here, the better it would be for lurkers who wanted to see how his arguments fared.

          They only fare well where he can edit, allude and call atheists names.

        • RoverSerton

          (Visions of Dave screaming at his computer “You can’t HANDLE the truth!”) LOL.

        • Pofarmer

          Like I said in another post. He’s whoring around on the wrong side of the tracks.

        • MR

          Clearly using you to try to drum up traffic to his site. Not sure how that helps him when he just turns around and bans everyone. Guy seems a little mental to me, though. This isn’t normal behavior unless you’re a 13 year old.

        • Otto

          I have a 13 year old…she stopped acting like this 2 years ago.

        • This is bullying behavior, not the behavior of anyone actually interested in the exchange of ideas.

        • Pofarmer

          MAGA

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Make A God Angry? (;

        • Damien Priestly

          My nine year old would not pull this crap.

        • Dave Armstrong

          Nice try. First of all, I was second in traffic for the last month of records at Patheos Catholic, out of some 65 blogs. Secondly, we have a way to actually see what is generating traffic, called Google Analytics (Bob can do this for his site, too). Checking out mine for the period of July 1st to now, I see that the top ten most-visited posts have nothing to do with atheism:

          1. Cain and his wife
          2. Chappaquiddick
          3. Papal guidance
          4. Death penalty
          5. Biblical canon
          6. Death penalty
          7. Early development of the papacy
          8. Luther’s view of priestly celibacy
          9. Titles: “Catholic” or “Roman Catholic”
          10. Death penalty

          Looking at the next ten most popular, I see two articles about atheism. 2 out of the top 20 hardly suggests that I have to rely on Bob’s site (or any atheist site or interaction with them) to drive traffic to mine. It’s ridiculous, and those are the objective stats to prove it. This isn’t a normal “argument” unless you are a three-year-old.

        • I was second in traffic for the last month of records at Patheos Catholic, out of some 65 blogs

          Yes, that’s true. Patheos lists the top 3 Catholic blogs for last quarter as The Deacon’s Bench, Biblical Evidence for Catholicism, and then Through Catholic Lenses.

          As for MR’s comment, he’s just trying to make sense of your actions. And they don’t make sense. And that could just be our fault–we assume that acting like a thoughtful adult is the best route. If you’re succeeding by being a petulant schoolyard bully, that is surprising.

        • Pofarmer

          Holy shit. if “The Deacon’s Bench” is first. Wow, that’s bad.

        • MR

          He’s not trying to drum up traffic but conveniently provided a list of top posts. Yeah, right. I’m just surprised he didn’t provide the links.

        • Grimlock

          Where do you find visitor statistics for Patheos blogs? It’d be interesting to have a look.

        • They’re not made public, I’m afraid. You have to be a blogger.

          Personally, I’d be happy seeing the monthly hits for each blog made public. Patheos has a policy by which they won’t, but I don’t know why.

          Friendly Atheist is #1, sitewide, I believe. Hemant puts a lot of work into it, so that position is well deserved.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          It was a link to FA that somebody sent me that 1st got me reading patheos Atheism (or Nonreligious as it is now called). Enjoy your work too (obviously).

        • I’m amazed at the output at Friendly Atheist. Lucky for me, the focus there is more on timely, newsy topics, which I don’t usually get into.

        • I didn’t think it was very community-oriented of FA to rejigger their site so that no other Patheos Nonreligious discussions show on their pages. Their discussions are still featured on everybody else’s pages and on the All Nonreligious Blogs page.

        • epeeist

          I didn’t think it was very community-oriented of FA to rejigger their site so that no other Patheos Nonreligious discussions show on their pages.

          Given the total botch that the Patheos team produced in their “redesign” and their seeming inability/interest in fixing the problems then one can understand why it was done though.

        • How so? It wasn’t Bob, Ed Brayton, or the rest of the Nonreligious bloggers who screwed up their redesign. But we all have to advertise FA’s content, while they’re not obliged to return the favor anymore.

        • Grimlock

          Wait, what? That doesn’t sound good. One of the things that I like about Patheos is that feature. Even if the perspectives are all in one, ah, belief category they still provide a bit more variety than individual blogs do.

        • Yes, I did notice the format change. Was there a post on FA that discussed that?

          I suspect that Patheos needs FA more than FA needs Patheos, so Hemant can ask for a few exceptions. His success gives him some justified clout. That an atheist blog is the most popular blog at a nominally religious site is something we can all get pleasure from.

        • Grimlock

          That’s too bad. It would’ve been fun to have a look. For instance, I suspect that one could drive up visitor numbers simply by posting something new each day. I expect sufficiently detailed visitor numbers would’ve revealed enough information to make such assessments.

        • Agreed. I’m not sure what the logic is. I suppose it’s like salaries being secret?

          Yeah, in my efforts to improve the popularity of my blog, I’d find it helpful to see the most popular blogs and try to figure out what they’re doing right. Ah, well.

        • Grimlock

          I’m not sure I see the analogy to keeping salaries secret? I’ve always thought that was mostly to the benefit of those paying the salaries. It’s not like Patheos is the ones giving you the readers. Not directly, at least.

          The reason I figured that one would get more views by a post per day is (in part) the feature that recommends popular blog posts. At least if one has a reasonably popular blog, and that feature is being used quite a bit. For instance, I pretty consistently see your new posts in that feature. While I have no idea how personalized Patheos’ system is, simply putting out decent quality blog posts would (maybe) be enough to increase the absolute number of views, because people click in on any new posts. Thus giving an incentive to pour out posts without too much concern for the quality, at least if one has enough high quality posts mixed in.

          (I’m not implying that Friendly Atheist does this, by the way. If I were to guess, I’d say how his topics tend to generate outrage at outrageous behaviour by religious plays some part in his popularity. But I’m not a regular reader at FA, so I wouldn’t really know.)

        • Greg G.

          How many of those Catholic blogs accept comments?

        • Pofarmer

          Over/under at less than half.

        • Grimlock

          I skimmed through the newest posts of the 65 Catholic blogs. Of those, some seemed a bit inactive, but all but nine had a combox. (One of which was a good old fashioned guest book. The rest was Disqus.) A couple of comment sections were closed, but that could easily be due to the newest post being rather old.

        • Pofarmer

          No, it’s because the comments sections are closed. Permanently. More than a few show comments sections which won’t work, or are moderated so heavily that commenting, in effect, doesn’t occur. Go through and try to comment on any number of them and see what happens.

        • Grimlock

          That’s definitely possible. I think I’ll pass on going through and commenting, that’s a bit too much effort. It’s certainly believable, though. Many of the comments were completely empty, though some of that is probably from the fact that the topics were recent.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, I get it.

          The only reason that I’m fairly certain is that I used to comment, or attempt to comment, on several of the Patheos Catholic blogs. The most conservative ones generally won’t allow comments at all, even if it appears they have a combox. Or, they’ll only allow fauning comments or comments they want to criticize. I’ve complained to Patheos about the behavior more than once to no avail. You identified, right off the bat, around 20% of the Catholic channel blogs that either don’t have comboxes or are out of date and have comboxes that are closed. I’d bet there’s easily another 20% more that appear to have comboxes but never approve any comments or only approve positive comments. I’ve had the same thing happen on the Evangelical channel. One poster offered to do email exchanges in lieu of a comments box, which kind of defeats the whole purpose of open and public discourse. How many atheist blogs don’t have open comboxes?

          None, to my knowledge.

        • Grimlock

          I shall certainly bow to your experience on the subject. It seems plausible based on the (relatively few) interactions I’ve had with Catholic bloggers online. I’ve only commented on a couple of Catholic blogs on Patheos, though. Armstrong’s, and, ah… “suspended in my jar” or something. That last writer seemed to have a lively combox, even though from what I remember, she did receive quite a bit of crap from her fellow Catholics on the posts that I read. (I rather liked the posts I read there.)

        • Otto

          I know of one atheist blog that does not. Across Rivers Divide…but that is the only one I know of.

        • Pofarmer

          Isn’t Galen Brodus a Pantheist or Pagan?

        • Otto

          Not sure

        • Otto

          Does Dave’s count?

          Maybe a 1/2

        • Greg G.

          I am wondering if Dave’s monthly total of comments beats any of Bob’s individual articles.

        • I have a couple of posts with over 10,000 comments, which always amazes me.

          The comments are half the fun (unless you’re thin-skinned and doubt the truth of the worldview you’re obliged to accept, or unless you think you’ve already got it all figured out and don’t need others’ input).

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Here, I’ll add to this #, just because (:

          Seriously though. I remember years back when I was driving cab and only had an AM radio that would pick up one station that broadcast non-stop right wing BS like Rush and Hannity. People would call in just to say ‘ditto’. Gee wiz sheeple, can’t you at least TRY to contribute to a conversation. Nope, they want to bow down before their leaders, just like their totes 100% perfect god tells them to.

        • This sounds like the same odd human reaction by which they seek out infantilization by Christianity. Getting a hug from an imagined parental figure that gives them a kiss on the head and says, “Daddy make it all better” makes them feel good, whether that figure is Rush Limbaugh or an imagined god.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/07/downsides-to-the-hope-offered-by-christianity-it-makes-god-a-jerk-infantilizes-christians/

        • Pofarmer

          I’ve learned a SHIT TON in the comments here and elsewhere. I learned a bunch in the comments at Strange Notions and Outshine the Sun. I think I started out by finding “The Friendly Athiest” and seeing unapologetic atheists in the comments there. When you started comparing arguments, it was sort of all down hill.

        • If I needed to see this blog as my chance to show how smart I was, I’d have a hard time with comments, just like Dave. Luckily, I realize that I’m just a student of this stuff, like everyone else. Being corrected is sometimes easy and sometimes painful, but it’s necessary either way.

        • Pofarmer

          I think the reason this blog “works” is because it’s not an authoritative author answers all experience. It’s basically an open forum for learning on specific topics. Many blogs which shall remain nameless simply won’t allow that.

        • MR

          Still doesn’t mean you aren’t trying to use Bob to drum up traffic to your site. And your behavior is still that of a 13 year old, though it appears others appear to find you even more immature. Have you been drinking or something? This is not normal behavior.

        • Dom Saunders
        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          So, AGAIN, you’re the first in the last pathetic group of stragglers.

          And you’re *bragging* about it?

          How sad and featureless your life must be if THAT is your bright spot.

        • Raging Bee

          Do you really want to “drive traffic” to your site? It seems to me you have to visit other blogs to make your arguments and stay relevant, because you routinely ban dissenting commenters on your own blog, so fewer people go there to see what you have to say.

        • Greg G.

          He only wants to drive traffic to his site so he can ban them.

        • Raging Bee

          The Lord’s most embarrassingly stoopid followers work in mysterious ways…

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I don’t see any gossiping or lying.

          How about some EVIDENCE?

          Or don’t YOU go in for that kind of thing, as it would hurt your narcissistic self-image?

        • Pofarmer

          Hey, hey, hey. There’s that Scientism rearing it’s ugly head. We’ll have none of that evidence talk mister.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          😉

      • Greg G.

        He complained that my claims were speculation so I put up plenty of evidence in support. Then he complained that it was a “useless wall of text”.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh THAT was the guy. Yeah, he’s a real treat.

        • Otto

          You got Armstronged by Shem….lol

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Yep, DEFINITELY moving the goalposts to keep people off balance.

    • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

      I can’t believe he has his own blog on Patheos now. I called him out for being a shitty writer once, since his comments always caused arguments, and he’d have to clarify his statements over and over again. I told him that if his writing causes that much misunderstanding, he really needs to learn to write to his audience, instead of talking down to them all the time.

      • Pofarmer

        Not being middle headed wouldn’t hurt, either.

      • Otto

        He can sure point out a general problem…not much on what might be done about it though.

      • I forget where you schooled me and why. Feel free to come to my blog and point out the flaws in my writing or reasoning.

      • Looks like he’s been a Patheos Nonreligious blogger since last December.

        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/driventoabstraction/2018/01/atheist-shem/

        • You even contributed to one of my discussions, Bob, the one about “The Earth Has Been Round Longer Than You Think.” How time flies.

        • My memory for people is just slightly imperfect. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Pofarmer

    I’d just like to note, that Dave Armstrong is here, complaining about the posters here commenting behind his back and being snide, when, for months, he’s been stealing quotes without notifications or the possibility of many of the posters in question responding.

    Hypocrite much?

    • It’s probably legal, but it’s unethical.

      But hey, how would he know about such things? It’s not like he’s a Christian or anything.

      • Pofarmer

        But hey, Dave’s a sinner. Plus there’s man’s fallen nature and all that. And he can go to confession and it will all be good anyway. No biggie. I mean, it’s not like they claim to have the fount of objective morality or anything.

      • Damien Priestly

        Unethical? Ahh, but I remember as a Catholic kid, Confession, in a creepy church stall — then a few Hail Mary’s later…I’m scott-free of any unethical act !!

        So it can’t be too much of a problem for him.

  • Dave Armstrong

    ..

    • There’s not a lot of content to chew on here, but I must admit that I can find nothing objectionable with your attitude.

      Well done.

      • Dave Armstrong

        Thanks! I thought maybe two dots would bring forth thunderous condemnations of me as an insufferable ass, hypocrite, etc. Delighted to be wrong!

        • Time for you to leave, don’t you agree?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Well, you avoided being an insufferable ass, hypocrite, etc. for ONE comment.

          It’s a start.

          Keep striving.

        • Alas, Dave won’t get the chance to show us that he’s improved. He’s in timeout, which might’ve been the goal of his shit storm all along. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/20f313e62c6e32be3c8ff3c57c96b570e45ad6f15a3d21573a5f767d77438c81.jpg

        • Otto

          Countdown to martyrbation in 3…2…1

        • MR

          I kind of wondered if that wasn’t his goal. I really don’t know how to explain his bizarre behavior. Does he now get to gloat by writing a post about how he got banned over on Cross Examined? Maybe claim how intolerant atheists are of his views, as if people can’t see for themselves that it’s his behavior that got him banned? He really needs to print out these full exchanges in context and take them to his local priest. Maybe they can get through to him that the problem is him.

        • He’s having a hard time distinguishing “all atheists are mean” vs. “my arguments suck, and my doubling down on them after errors are pointed out provokes angry responses from atheists.”

        • Pofarmer

          Dude has issues.

    • Otto

      From your recent critique of a deconversion story…you said.

      Why should she think they are fables? Has she never read any of the abundant archaeological evidences in favor of the high accuracy of biblical descriptions?

      Please explain on your next post exactly what “abundant archaeological evidences” there are for any of the following…
      -Virgins giving birth
      -Jesus turning water into wine
      -Jesus healing lepers
      -Jesus curing blindness
      -Jesus being able to magically make food
      -Jesus being able to bring people back from the dead
      -Jesus Jesus being raised from the dead by God after 3 days

      Despite your claims to the contrary, it is not Theresa’s job to prove Christianity is false, the burden is on you to provide evidence that it is true…and you claim you have archaeological evidence for all of it, I would very much like to see it please. It is not honest to expect Theresa or any other atheist to prove these things did not happen….it is on you to establish they did, and pretending that Theresa has ANY burden for the claims of Christianity is downright underhanded.

      We will wait over here

      • Pofarmer

        OH, OH, OH, ME, ME, ME!!!!!

        I know where those stories come from! Can I, Can I?

      • Kevin K

        He can’t even prove things for which there should be archaeological evidence. Show me the ample archaeological evidence for a giant-assed flood, a massive migration out of Egypt, a glorious conquest of a walled city, and all the rest.

    • Raging Bee

      Oh dear, did you suddenly get a sense of shame and delete your own comment? It doesn’t look like you were banned or held in moderation, so that’s my guess at least…

      • Greg G.

        He deleted many comments when he didn’t see one of his posts and apparently assumed it was deleted but the two dots was the original. It must have been a test to see if he was banned.

        He got his wish of getting banned here, though.

  • Pofarmer

    Why does the threading of comments suck so badly? I know that there were good responses to John MacDonald From Greg G, but when I look at the thread they don’t appear on patheos. I don’t know if they would show up on the Disqus comments page or not. All that show up on my feed are my comment’s and John’s. When you know someone else made good points, because you saw them, and then you want to refer back to them and they are gone, that’s a real pain in the ass. Disqus and Patheos need to kind of get their shit together.
    And while I’m at it. Why in the HELL do they link to 2 year old and more articles on the Non-religious home pace, and completely ignore new content other places? It’s ridiculous.

    • Greg G.

      I think it has to do with what Disqus asks the browser to do for each comment. Each comment is polling to check for updates on replies and votes, possibly even reporting data mining figures, and saving responses as they are typed. When you open too many, the browser becomes sluggish and might even crash. So Disqus tries to limit the number of responses. When there are few responses to an article, all of them are shown. When there are lots, it trims it down to a subthread and those comments directly above it.

      I wish they would put a number for the number of replies to the thread that would open them, even if it was 20 or 50 at a time.

      Just wait for the quantum computer version of Disqus.

    • Grimlock

      If I try to go directly to a comment, it looks like part of the thread is skipped. So I end up opening the entire comment section most times I wanna respond, which is a hassle when there are 500+ comments.

    • Raging Bee

      Disqus gets a bit wonky when there’s lots of comments in lots of nested subthreads, especially when some of those comments start getting flagged by other commenters, or banned or deleted by the author. And by “a bit wonky” I mean notoriously unreliable and capricious, to the point where the order and arrangement of comments changes radically from one hour to the next.

    • The only way I’ve found for this kind of problem is loading all comments (yep–50 at a time) and then, being careful to remember to not close this window until you’re done, search for what you want.

  • Albionic American

    Rational people should just ignore C.S. Lewis. He makes me think of Jack Chick, only with a few more IQ points, an elite but useless literary education and an inability to draw childish cartoons.

  • Raging Bee

    There is no basis in atheism for morality.

    Actually, yes, there is: once we’ve admitted there’s no god(s) giving us laws and direction, the immediate consequence of that admission is the realization that we have to think for ourselves, take responsibility for our own choices, and thus establish rules of conduct that everyone can obey, and trust each other to obey, in order to improve our lives and ensure the greatest good for the greatest number. The second consequence of atheism is the understanding that when we decide on our moral code, we do so based on what’s observably beneficial for real people, NOT on the alleged demands of an imaginary superbeing.

    That’s a pretty silly argument; sort of like saying an empty living-room has no basis for a new and more comfortable sofa.