Why I Blocked Anti-Theist Atheist Bob Seidensticker

Why I Blocked Anti-Theist Atheist Bob Seidensticker August 8, 2018

His words will be in blue.

I had already established beyond all doubt from his own words — three months ago — that Seidensticker (who runs the popular Cross Examined blog at Patheos) is one of the distressingly common condescending atheists, who thinks Christians are (on the whole or generalizing) dishonest, hateful, infantile, anti-evidential (“Christians might sidestep that whole evidence and argument thing”: 7-31-18), anti-scientific, anti-intellectual fools and simpletons, who worship a morally atrocious “god.” I discuss the phenomenon of the “angry atheist” ad how this wrecks dialogue, at length in my Discussion Policy post.

He has proven it all the more with recent posts. In his latest post (yesterday), he wrote: “Christianity supports hateful social policy . . .” Like many atheists, he takes the epistemologically naive and stunted view of scientism: that science is the only legitimate means of knowledge. Hence he stated four days ago: “Science is the only discipline that tells us new things about reality.” He engages in the tired, slanderous “pie-in-the-sky” polemical schtick in a post from July 31st

[T]he Christian worldview is the one that devalues life. Of what value is tomorrow to the Christian when they imagine they’ll have a trillion tomorrows? What value are a few short years here on earth when they have eternity in heaven? . . . a shell of a life, with real life waiting for you in the hereafter . . . 

Christians are essentially dishonest and reality-denying (post of 7-27-18):

Apologists imagine God belief as this kind of obtuse puzzle, not because the evidence points that way but because they’re forced to. They have no choice, . . . Unwilling to give up their beliefs or to admit that they’ve been wrong, they assume Goddouble down on faith, and invent these bizarre rationalizations. . . . A loving creator god who desired a relationship with his creation would just make himself known. We have insufficient evidence to overcome the default hypothesis, that God is yet another made-up supernatural being.

Here’s an example of how he caricatures and savages God Himself: (7-25-18):

Consider the Mr. Hyde Christians make for their god and notice the childish dependency. . . . Let’s imagine that a child from a Christian household dies in an “act of God” sort of way. Maybe it’s leukemia or a birth defect or just an accident. If that family finds comfort in the belief that this was all part of God’s plan, they’ve now created a new problem: they’ve made God into a heartless jerk. This just turns one problem into another. Why can’t God get what he wants done without killing people? He’s morally perfect, so he’d want to avoid killing people, and he’s omnipotent, so he is able to achieve his purposes without killing people (more). And yet he still kills people. Is “My god is a jerk” really easier to live with  . . . 

In the same paper he pulls out the ancient, idiotic “Christians are gullible and infantile” card:

But as she becomes an adult, she must grow up. We leave behind wishing wells, Santa Claus, blankies, and other false comforts as we become independent. No longer are the necessities of life given to us; as adults, we must fend for ourselves—indeed, we want to fend for ourselves. Religion infantilizes adults and keeps them dependent. That’s a good thing for the 100-billion-dollar-a-year U.S. religion industry, but what is best for the individual—a pat on the head and an unevidenced promise of the supernatural, or reality? . . . 

Do people get a dose of some neuropeptide when they curl into a fetal position and have Mommy take care of them? . . . You don’t need to be born again; you need to grow up. Christianity infantilizes its devotees. Putting faith in God has never produced anything. [Dave: of course not!: only trifling things like colleges, hospitals, modern science, the abolition of slavery, the civil rights movement, most of the great art and music (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, etc.) and a host of other things spearheaded by Christianity ]

He even sinks so low as to mock and lie about the Christian concern about legal childkilling (7-19-18):

Abortion makes baby Jesus cry, so apparently Christian voters must step into the breach since Jesus is just a baby and can’t do anything about it. But notice the irony: the last thing conservative politicians want is a society with no abortion because they thrive on anxiety about abortion. If they couldn’t claim that the sky is falling, these Chicken Littles wouldn’t know how to rally their base.

Examples are legion and could be multiplied like the loaves and the fish. All of the above occurred in just a 20-day period.

That established, let’s now discuss his blocking. He obviously wasn’t blocked merely for disagreeing with Christianity or being a manifest bigot against it and inveterate liar about All Things Christian, since he’s been allowed to rant and rave on my blog since at least May. It’s equally obvious that I am not “scared” and “terrified” of interacting with atheists (much less his own facile, inane arguments), since I have engaged in scores and scores of debates with them (often with professors) over the 37 years I’ve been doing apologetics.

Seidensticker was free as a bird to interact here, provided he simply observed the usual protocol of the Internet: exhibiting at least rudimentary respect for the views of the site where one is commenting. To not do so is to be a troll: defined by the Urban Dictionary as follows:

Trolling – (verb), as it relates to internet, is the deliberate act, (by a Troll – noun or adjective), of making random unsolicited and/or controversial comments on various internet forums with the intent to provoke an emotional knee jerk reaction from unsuspecting readers to engage in a fight or argument[.]
*
Trolling on-line forums as described above is actually analogous to the fishing technique of “trolling”, where colorful baits and lures are pulled behind a slow moving boat, often with multiple fishing lines, covering a large bodies of water, such as a large lake or the ocean. The trolling lures attract unsuspecting fish, intriguing them with the way they move through the water, thus enticing these foolish fish to “take the bait”. Not unlike unsuspecting internet victims, once hooked, the fish are reeled in for the catch before they realize they have been duped by the Troll/Fisherman[.]
.
This guy made a really rude and off the wall comment about my You Tube video, I think he was just trolling for a response, but I ignored him[.]
More simply, I define a troll as one who isn’t serious about discussion: either out of apathy, or inconsideration and rudeness, or being so bigoted against a particular view that he or she cannot possibly fairly or constructively interact with it. Hence, the one who comes to a site with that hostile outlook is essentially a game-playing sophist. My blog isn’t a platform for various hostile opinions to be preached, minus legitimate discussion.
Hence in the present instance, Seidensticker wanted to talk about slavery, in a thread devoted to the killing of the Amalekites. Someone else introduced it first, and then Bob took it up, which was fine. But he soon showed that he wasn’t interested in open and honest discussion, even when I took up his challenge. I referred the first questioner to an extensive treatment of Slavery laws in the Old Testament from the very thorough Protestant apologist Glenn Miller. Seidensticker, true to form, blew that off, calling it “a thorough commentary” but then singling out one line and ignoring it otherwise.
So I thought (not wanting to get into the rather complex topic at that particular moment) I would offer him my own collection of links on slavery. The idea was to educate him on the relationship of Christianity to slavery, so that he can be disabused of his prejudices. But precisely because of those biases, he wasn’t interested. I made my intentions clear:

Not interested at the moment in a huge debate with an atheist about slavery. I’ll simply note that it just so happened that Christians were always or almost always in the forefront of banning it.

No matter, he went right on with a goading, provocative comment. I guess he hadn’t figured out that I don’t fall for that sort of baiting. I’m interested in serious discussion with open-minded opponents: not sophistry and one-way nonsense. Someone else chimed in and Bob answered with a longer comment. In it, he made a false statement about the ancient Hebrews:

What we know for certain is that “love your neighbor” covers a lot fewer subjects than you’d think at first. “Neighbor” only meant “fellow Israelite.”

This was something I had recently addressed (thus could easily reply to with a cut-and-paste without taking up too much of my time), so I responded:

You’re completely full of hot air. It so happens that I just refuted Richard Dawkins, spouting the same kind of inane, asinine biblically illiterate nonsense:

“Jesus limited his in-group of the saved strictly to Jews, in which respect he was following the Old Testament tradition, . . . ‘Thou shalt not kill’ . . . meant, very specifically, thou shalt not kill Jews. . . . ‘Neighbour’ means fellow Jew.” (The God Delusion, p. 254)

I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony. Where to begin?! This is an absurd, asinine, ignorant, completely false claim. Let’s see, for starters:

[then I cited a lengthy argument from my earlier paper against Dawkins, ending as follows]:

Once again, Dawkins flails away at the straw men of his own making. He does that throughout his whole book, as I have repeatedly shown in these four critiques. In a word, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about (hardly even has a clue), and doesn’t know that he doesn’t know. It’s sad and beyond pathetic that such an educated man (a scientist) — indeed, the most renowned atheist in the world — could exhibit so much disinformation and lack of comprehension of that which he professes to be intelligently critiquing.

Now, his response to this thorough treatment of the aspect of “neighbor” in the Old Testament was what proved to be his undoing (in terms of freedom to comment on my blog), because it demonstrated beyond doubt that he had not the slightest interest in the actual truth of the matter. He is the typical hostile atheist who thinks he’s an expert on the Bible, but approaches it as (I always like to say) a butcher approaches a hog. Rather than interact with my extensive presented reasoning (a direct reply to something he asserted), he ignored it and blew it off:

Oh, come now. We know each other well enough that you needn’t be coy. Drop the Christian charity and tell us what you really thought of his arguments. Dawkins is right—“neighbor” means fellow Jew. . . . This is how a courtroom lawyer makes a case–finding bits here and there and then cobbling together a case. Any contrary information he ignores. That’s how it works in the courtroom, but someone trying to find the truth looks at all the evidence.

After a few other exchanges that can be read on the thread, Bob stated:

What’s startling is that neither God nor Jesus set the world straight on slavery or even abolished the institution instantly. It’s almost like they didn’t see much wrong with it. Christians did their work against slavery and for civil rights 1800 years after Jesus in spite of the clear teachings in the Old Testament, not because of them.

I replied, knowing the game he was playing, and so resorting to some sarcasm:

It’s complex, which is why I gave you a bunch of links for you to explore, that deal with the issue in sufficient depth. I know how very concerned you are always to treat Christianity with the utmost fairness, so knock yourself out reading!

And he comes back with passive-aggressive BS:

Did you give me resources to help me out with my lack of understanding, or was that just a smokescreen? Sure, I could wade through all that. Given past history, however, I doubt I’d learn anything new relevant to my question: what do you think about God’s support for slavery for life in Lev. 25:44-46? If you can cut to the chase, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Or, if you don’t have time, that’s fine. [my emphasis]

This was the usual routine with atheists who don’t give a damn about truly learning the actual Christian position on things (rather than toying with mere caricatures of them that they can mock and dismiss, in an illusory show of alleged argumentative “strength”). I’ve seen it dozens of times. If you provide the typical hostile / angry / “know-it-all-about-the-Bible” atheist with serious material to actually learn something (after they inquire and start the discussion), they complain that they don’t have time, and only want to hear your opinion.

This is a dead giveaway that they are either engaged in sophistry or some other sort of trolling: not honest discussion. Otherwise they would offer thanks for the resources and get busy reading, so the discussion could advance to the next stage, with knowledge, not atheist talking-points and salivating “gotcha!” rhetoric only. Since his “anti-dialogue” motivation was utterly obvious by that point, I called him out:

If you don’t have time to do the necessary research on a complex topic, I don’t have the time to play your “gotcha” games. We know you’re a bigot against Christianity. That was already established from your own words on your site.

This was, of course, too much for him to handle, and he started in on the gratuitous insults (whereas my statement was purely based on documented facts of how he had acted; what he had written, per the above information). He pretended that the whole problem was with my approach, not his (i.e., the projection game):

You couldn’t just go with the “An interesting question, but this requires more time than I have at the moment, sorry” brushoff? You had to give me the Armstrong love bombing approach?

Tip: find a trusted friend who can read and summarize your comments–either for a week, or maybe just your interactions with antagonists, or maybe just this one brief conversation with me. Ask them how they think you come across to objective readers and see if there isn’t a little room for improvement in your approach.

I replied to someone else:

As I told Bob, it’s complex (and it’s also a matter of definition: slavery in the Bible is not identical to that in the South in the 1750s, etc.), which I why I provided all the links. This is much more complicated than mere fodder for yet more atheist “gotcha!” polemics.

Bob then basically accused me of one of his pet charges against Christians: intellectual dishonesty, then I responded:

Interact with the actual Christian argument for once and cease with the smart ass sound bites. I think you’re capable of it. I showed at length that you (just like Dawkins: another biblical “expert”) don’t have a clue what you’re talking about, with this “neighbor” business. The wise man learns when corrected. You were educated about how the ancient Hebrews viewed “neighbors.” And so you ignore it and go right on with your usual schtick. It just doesn’t work here. You’ll have to make actual on-topic arguments. I don’t play the hit-and-run games.

He replied: “You’re playing some kind of games.”

I wasn’t at all. I was trying in vain to have an honest, open discussion with him. He wasn’t interested, and we know why he wasn’t (his existing bigotry against Christianity). This was the final straw and so he was blocked. He flatly refused to have a real dialogue, so I decided to no longer allow his anti-Christian, anti-God, anti-Bible bilge on my Catholic site. That’s trolling, and is universally understood to be unethical.

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. The reason has nothing whatsoever to do with either of those bogus claims, and is exactly what I laid out above.

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Photo credit: katutaide (7-1-09). Anti-Christian graffiti in Tampere, Finland [Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license]

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