Job 38:3 (RSV)
“Pour forth the overflowings of your anger, and look on every one that is proud, and abase him . . . bring him low; and tread down the wicked where they stand.”
This amazing display of condescension came about after I commented on a post from atheist John W. Loftus (author of a bunch of books and webmaster of the influential Debunking Christianity website), having to do with whether God was in time or not. John has a history (with me, at any rate) of flying off the handle, rather than presenting rational counter-replies, when some criticism is offered. The classic case was when I dared to offer criticisms of his deconversion story. His reaction has to be seen to be believed.
I had hoped that (with the passage of time) he had gotten over this skittishness and hair-trigger defensiveness and condescension where I am concerned, but alas, it was not to be. He has even “upped the ante” and continued a stream of insults toward me, for (quite outrageously) being and acting like a Christian confident in his faith and able to defend it. In the past, he has called me a “joke” and an “arrogant idiot” among other things. He has yet to retract any of the epithets.
Now, I’m the first to gladly assert that his reaction should not be seen as one that typifies atheists, or disproves any particular atheist version of reality. Neither is true. But that is not my purpose at present; rather, it is to show how even intelligent people (John has two masters’ degrees) can become utterly irrational and unreasonable when confronted with criticism of their arguments, and how harmful this is to the intellectual endeavor. This is how not to do it, folks!
There is also some considerable humor and amusement to be enjoyed (the section about “obvious”); I simply couldn’t resist. He laid himself out wide open on that one; provided the rope to hang him with. John’s words will be in blue.
. . . look these arguments up before you comment further. Please do my readers a favor here. Read up on this topic before you continue to waste space. Let other more informed people comment.
ME: On the other hand, it is obvious that God must be outside of time, if one accepts the description of Him that the Bible offers.
That he walked in the cool of the Garden of Eden? That he showed Moses his back side? That he appeared to Abraham? That he changed his mind? That he visited us in Jesus? You are ignorant if you think what you just said is obvious.
. . . Anthropomorphism. That saves you, doesn’t it? Then show me one verse in the Bible that could not have been written by an ancient superstitious person. Just one. Show me where there was a prediction of the computer chip, or a vaccine for Polio. Show me where God told people about the vastness and age of the universe.
ME: I suspect you are slanting his full argument. If he is orthodox, he would not put it in such despairing terms.
Read it yourself. Why is it that you distrust what I say? If you distrust what I say then why bother to comment on this at all? Just say you don’t believe he said this and move on.
[I didn’t say I distrusted it, only that there was possible bias in presenting the Christian’s argument]
Dave, you present your uninformed arguments as if everyone should agree with you, and that is what I object to.
You used the words “obvious” and “obviously” twice in this last comment alone, when not even all Christians will agree with you, much less atheists. Why do you continue to insist that the things you believe are obvious? That’s what I think is ignorant of you, for if they were obvious no one would disagree.
But that’s not all. You state “it is nonsensical and utterly illogical.” You state “This is radically unbiblical,” and “impossible exegetically.”
You annoy me, not because of your arguments, but because of your ill placed confidence. Any educated person would not state the things you do with such arrogance. That’s all.
Besides, it does nothing for your argument to add the word “obviously” to it. And if you were informed as you say about this, then you would know that such interpretatons are not impossible since Christians themselves think otherwise.
I mean, really, with you there is no discussion to be had for any topic you write about. You are the answer man. Everyone else is ignoring the obvious. And that’s the hallmark of an ignorant and uneducated man.
You keep being personally insulting, John, and I’ll keep making arguments (just like when I critiqued your deconversion). People can see through that.
If I’m as big of a dolt and an ignoramus as you endlessly contend, then surely you’ll be able to blow my arguments out of the water.
But of course, since you’re far less “confident” than I am, this handicap (or virtue, depending on one’s point of view) would OBVIOUSLY present an opposing counter-weight to your doing so.
Which scholar, for instance, would you point to who says his arguments are obvious?
I don’t know who’s a scholar or who isn’t, but I’ll use examples from this very blog:
Obviously, the problem is that each author of the various books treats ‘Faith’ as something differently.
(I won’t argue whether such a conception of “degrees of individuality” is “true or not” in a philosophical sense, which will obviously get us no where, since how could one prove any of my assumptions above at all)?
(Ed Babinski, 10-20-06)
Obviously, this passage presents some theological difficulties for early Christians. This passage seems to run against the notion that Jesus is God.
(Bill Curry, 11-6-06)
. . . God must take the sum total of His wrath out on the most unworthy recipient, a wholly guiltless individual, who also happens to be Himself? Why is such a belief necessary? And why do Christian creeds insist on the necessity of such a belief, when it obviously does not appeal to all, nor even make sense to all?
(Ed Babinski, 10-20-06)
Conclusive proof that the Bible is NOT inerrant. [title] . . . The God who created the Universe, stars, planets, and our own Sun, obviously wasn’t aware of the very astronomical phenomena he created.
Steve is obviously committing a fallacious appeal to authority, considering he hasn’t yet even evaluated my writing in order to refute it on the grounds of “no formal credentials”.
(Daniel Morgan, 5-11-06)
The Establishment Clause is best understood by the Lemon Test. This situation fails the test on obvious grounds, . . .
(Daniel Morgan, this very day: 11-30-06)
The message was as obvious as anything, but I tried to look for answers. I read up on the responses from all the theological camps, from the conservatives (Blomberg, Marshall, McKnight, Wright, Witherington) to moderates (Meyer, Brown) to the Jesus Seminar.
(exapologist – almost a scholar, going for his doctorate in philosophy, 9-9-06)
Rather it is a book easily proven to be filled with errors and of obvious human origin.
(s burgener, 11-5-06)
Now let’s say a Calvinist offers an answer and is unconvinced by any of my replies. I never said I could convince those who hold to absolutely idiotic beliefs such as this one, that they are wrong. Any thinking person not already blinded by their faith would see the obvious and serious problem here.
(John W. Loftus, 10-15-06)
[I]t is apparent that upon careful examination, several fundamental elements of the Christian faith do not stand up to outside critiques, or even, in some cases, to several passages in the same book. In the case of the ‘virginal birth’ and the accompanying prophecies, it is obvious that the two critical parts of the faith of Christianity can not logically coexist. But then, logic is not what religion is based upon.
(C.J. Baserap, 5-14-06)
But here’s one scholar, at least: William Lane Craig:
There’s another version of Dr. Ehrman’s objection which is even more obviously fallacious than Ehrman’s Egregious Error. I call it “Bart’s Blunder.”
In this paper, presented by you (6-6-06), you yourself state that Craig is a pretty decent scholar, not an idiot and deluded and presumptuous fool like you think I am: “Craig understands symbolic logic, and uses it to his advantage whenever he can. . . . Craig does a masterful job of it.”
Since Dr. Craig used the outrageous word “obvious” with regard to one of his own arguments, or regarding the “obviously fallacious . . . Egregious Error” [his capital letters] and “Blunder” of an opponent, then he, too must be (as you say I am) “the answer man. Everyone else is ignoring the obvious . . . the hallmark of an ignorant and uneducated man.” Nice little foray into symbolic logic there, John . . .
And again you (5-7-06) cite NT scholar James Dunn (one whom Ed Babinski has tried to cite against my position):
“John’s Gospel is ‘obviously different’ [Dunn] from the other three earlier Gospels in terms of style and content.”
So there is another “ignorant and uneducated” scholar, using this dreaded word “obvious” and thus proving that he has no business commenting on anything at all, with such unmitigated gall and hubris, leading him to possess such inappropriate confidence!
Okay Dave. Fine. Where do you get the time to search these things out? For me to answer you I would have to search out the context of every one of these uses of “obviously.” But let me guess. Craig does this only in debates for rhetorical effect. Others were talking about their own notions and personal experiences. Still others are indeed fairly obvious.
There are other usages you pointed to which I’ll let those who used them speak for themselves. But if I’m arguing against a viewpoint that I know my opponent doesn’t agree with, or if I’m arguing a minority viewpoint, or a contestable viewpoint then it’s ignorant to use the word for anything contestable, especially as much as you use it. And even when you don’t use such a word it’s in the whole tone of what you write.
For instance it is “obvious” to me that Christianity is false.
It’s what???!!! But of course, this is not an arrogant use of the word; only when I use it to defend Christianity. Curious logic . . .
That’s my personal belief, and it’s proper to use this word to describe my personal feelings about Christianity. But to say it’s “obvious” that Christianity is false in an argument that attempts to show another person that it’s false, is ignorant, unless done for rhetorical effect, which is merely rhetorical and has no force at all. Ehrman could’ve simply said “this is not obvious to me.”
That’s interesting. So to describe an argument as “obviously wrong” is insufferably arrogant, but to utilize a number of different arguments to make a statement describing one’s conclusion that an entire religion is obviously false, is perfectly prim and proper. It’s a silly distinction. Just let people say what they want to, and give them the freedom to use whatever words they wish. John finds my style offensive and overly-confident. I find his insulting and condescending. Does he really think my being confident that an argument is “obviously wrong” is more offensive than him calling me an “arrogant idiot” and all the additional insults (most aimed at my knowledge and intelligence) seen presently?
I am annoyed by people like you, and it may be a personality problem. I’m annoyed with pompous self-righteous know-it-all’s, especially when I know they don’t.
See, there you go! LOL Yet another to add to my collection. So John lectures me about supposed attitudes, using examples that don’t prove his point, and then absolutely proves that his attitude is far worse than mine, by any objective criteria.
And that is how you come across. Now it might go over well with your supporters and visitors to your site, but not here. Here you will find people who disagree with you a lot more often.
Not only do you think you’re right when you haven’t read the relevant literature. Now you are attempting to defend the arrogant way you argue. You’re just right about everything, or, at least you always come across that way. And in my book that reveals you are an uneducated, ignorant, arrogant know-it-all.
What I am probably going to do is to delete these comments tomorrow so that we can start this discussion all over again. You may copy them if you want to, but they are off track.
Yes, of course (precisely why I knew I had to preserve them). I suppose I would do the same thing, if something made me look like a fool, as this stuff does regarding John.
[to someone else]:
I think people who argue in the manner I see over at Triablogue [an anti-Catholic site], and even Dave Armstrong to some degree, don’t care about us as persons. They only want to show to others, whom they do care for, that we are wrong. Many of them think we are ignorant or willfully ignorant deceivers who don’t care about the truth at all. So they treat us like non-persons.
Yes, of course. I disagree with a position, and this sort of hyper-paranoid tripe is what I get back. But John is clearly (whoops, OBVIOUSLY) showing tons of “care” for me as “person” when he uses the following descriptions (all now a matter of record):
you continue to waste space
You are ignorant
you present your uninformed arguments as if everyone should agree with you
Any educated person would not state the things you do with such arrogance.
with you there is no discussion to be had for any topic you write about.
You are the answer man. Everyone else is ignoring the obvious. And that’s the hallmark of an ignorant and uneducated man.
I am annoyed by people like you, . . . pompous self-righteous know-it-all’s
Now you are attempting to defend the arrogant way you argue.
You’re just right about everything, or, at least you always come across that way.
you are an uneducated, ignorant, arrogant know-it-all.
I think people who argue in the manner I see over at Triablogue, and even Dave Armstrong to some degree, don’t care about us as persons.
Many of them [implied, including me] think we are ignorant or willfully ignorant deceivers who don’t care about the truth at all. So they treat us like non-persons.
(all on 11-30-06)
Not bad for a day’s work, especially for one who is lecturing another about how to treat folks respectfully. What else has John said about me in the past?:
Dave, as I read this [my critique of his deconversion] I thought to myself, he doesn’t think of me as an equal. He looks down his nose at me. As I’m writing he looks for loopholes. He doesn’t think I was sincere. I’m probably not even a person to him.
You’re a joke. I’m surprised you have an audience. You’re also a psychologist, eh? Wow! . . . Again, you’re a joke.
. . . that quite frankly is stupid of you.
You’re a joke, and I just don’t have the time to teach you what you need to understand.
To think you could pompously proclaim you are better than me is beyond me when you don’t know me. It’s a defensive mechanism you have with people like me.
You have shown yourself to be non-objective with me and to parade before the ignorant how smart and how much more faith you have than I did.
It’s called respecting people as people, and Dave’s Christianity does not do that with people who don’t agree with him.
I’m just tired of pompous asses on the internet who go around claiming they are superior to me in terms of intelligence and faith. Such arrogance makes me vomit.
. . . self-assured arrogant idiots out there, like Dave, who prefer to proclaim off of my personal experience that they are better than I.
(10-16-06; wow, it’a close call between these two insult-days. I give the nod to 10-16, though, because I love “arrogant idiot” and “joke” the best)