This business of my supposed “hatred” of atheists started up again, when there was a huge attack-fest and ad hominem extravaganza at my expense over on Atheist John Loftus’ site, Debunking Christianity.
It was literally 100% personal attacks and not a single rational reply to my twelve posted articles, in reply to Dr. David Madison’s series of twelve podcasts (see the link below): including not a peep (not even an attack) from Dr. Madison himself.
But the most notable (though utterly predictable) personal attack was from John Loftus himself: the Big Cheese of the blog, who exploded / imploded way back in 2006, when I dared to critique his views, including his deconversion story. Here is what he wrote on 8-5-19 over there (his words will be in green henceforth):
What does it say that you have about 46 comments for your last 20 essays? Given your mean spirited attitude, one probable interpretation is that your headlines grab attention from the massive amount of readers attracted to Patheos. But when people see how you treat others they leave you to your anger. And you are angry. That is clear. You hate people who disagree with you, which actually proves Dr. Madison’s point, that Jesus wants you to hate others in deference to him. Readers see this quickly then they go away.
My response was that in our postmodern culture today, to disagree with someone is to “hate” them. It can’t possibly be otherwise, because now people are their opinions (x = y); not separate from them (x has opinion y).
The people who commit these horrible acts of tough love must have hidden nefarious motives: so we are informed by the upholders of the secularization zeitgeist and idol. There are no absolutes. We either agree with other people (in which case we “love” them), or we disagree, which is intolerance and hate. Those are the only two possible scenarios. We can’t disagree and love them. Disagreeing (by definition) is hatred and touchy-feely / warm fuzzy agreement is love.
I am not a postmodernist and so, must necessarily (so we’re told) be a hater in the postmodernist’s eyes, because (routinely, in the course of doing apologetics) I dare to disagree with someone, and beyond that, even outrageously dare to tell them sometimes that they are wrong, for their own good (and to accept the same criticism coming my way). Thus, the “bad guys” in this brave new thought-world are those who reject postmodernist subjective-mush-relativism.
I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve been accused of “hating” someone just because I had an honest disagreement concerning what they believe or do. But fuzzy, illogical thinking is also part and parcel of postmodernism. John Loftus, chimed in again:
Your speech betrays you. I can get a bit angry when purposely misunderstood by self-proclaimed know-it-alls like you. But you enter a debate angry! You write as if Dr. David Madison is a non-entity, a non-being, who is mere fodder for your supposed “superior” debate skills. I cannot convince you of this I’m sure, but that’s what I see, and it’s one good reason I ignore you.
This is true ad hominem rhetoric, and possibly suggests (I do not assert it) that Loftus hates me: since the true haters out there very often project their attitudes onto others, where it isn’t present. I don’t hate anyone, including John Loftus and Dr. Madison. Nor am I an “angry”-type person. This is a falsehood and the opposite of the truth. I am of a very mild temperament, and get truly angry only very rarely. Anyone at all who knows me in person can easily verify this.
If anyone is hating (and again, I don’t even claim it here, but am merely being rhetorical and turning the tables), it is the 100% ad hominem (minus any rational substance in reply to my arguments) insult-fest directed towards me at Debunking Christianity. It can’t be justified, and is an embarrassing farce.
The discussion along these lines continued underneath my chronicling of the debacle of the attack-fest at Debunking Christianity. “abb3w” is a cordial atheist, who frequents my blog. I engaged him on this topic (his words will be in blue below).
You and I disagree quite a bit. Have you perceived this rank hatred coming from me?
The closest impression to such an attitude to most atheists that I’ve noticed so far from you in your various posts might be more accurately termed contempt, rather than hatred. However, it seems people often don’t distinguish the nuances between them, or don’t consider the distinction important enough to convey.
I have contempt for what I think are false and harmful ideas, not people.
Your 2006 discussion of the deconversion account of Loftus does not appear to clearly convey that distinction.
Since you are the king of minutiae and details, I’m delighted that you actually provided a proposed example of where I allegedly showed “contempt” for a person, as opposed to their actions or ideas. Here is that paper, and his reaction. If you demonstrate that I showed contempt for Loftus as a person, I will retract it and publicly apologize to him on the same thread where he is trashing me as a hater. Good luck.
Of course, it’s Loftus’ own view that I “hate” him because I critiqued his deconversion. That’s why he exploded and we basically haven’t dialogued since. He falls prey to these tendencies: every disagreement = hatred. That is sheer nonsense.
As one highly attentive to minutia and details, In can see that any such demonstration would be contingent on our agreeing as to what criteria would establish this, which would seem likely to take what seems far more time than I can spare at this time of year. (The start of the academic year tends busy for me, and this year worse than most.)
It’s simple. You just provide an example where I directed obviously strong vitriol or animus against him as a person, rather than against his ideas that I consider false. You have this impression that I crossed that line, from somewhere. I may have (not being perfect, like all human beings), and am willing to revise it if I did. But I don’t think so, because I’m always extremely careful not to (in this line of work, always having to disagree with folks).
If you want to see innumerable examples of such crossing of this ethical line, just look at how atheists treat me or virtually any Christian in their comboxes when we disagree. You will immediately see a distinct difference.
[no reply for four days, so I barge ahead . . .]
Very well, then, I will look through my own two papers mentioned above to see if I committed this wrong of attacking a person, rather than what I believe to be falsehoods in their opinions. First I look at my critique of Loftus’ deconversion. This is the one that “abb3w” claims “does not appear to clearly convey that distinction” [between contempt for ideas and for persons].
I’ve looked it over again now for the second time and can’t find anything that might be construed as a direct attack upon John Loftus’ person (name-calling, insults, personal attacks, etc.). So I don’t see what he sees, and if he sees something particular, to prove his contention, he needs to produce it (when he has time, of course). Or I’d love to see anyone else who thinks this of the article do so, because I can’t find it.
So on we go to a second paper, that contains Loftus’ reaction to my critique of his deconversion. I wrote on 12-5-06 on his blog, in the midst of commenting on someone else’s deconversion story:
I make no claims on either your sincerity or the state of your soul or moral character. None whatsoever. I simply critiqued the reasons you gave for your deconversion. I don’t see why that would be insulting to anyone (as it is merely entering into the arena of competing ideas), yet John Loftus blew a gasket when I examined his story.
This approach and attitude and spirit applies also to my analysis of Loftus’ stories, and any others of the same nature. One can read Loftus’ whole response at the linked paper, but part of it was this:
You are an idiot!
Dave, I can only tolerate stupidity so long.
He has also called me things like an “arrogant idiot,” a “joke,” and a “know-it-all” (the latter repeated above, more recently). See the vast difference there? Now, does this prove that he “hates” me? I wouldn’t say so, but I would say that hatred, if it exists, is quite consistent with a blanket condemnation of someone as an “idiot” and “stupid.” In other words, these are the sorts of things that people who hate might or would say. But it doesn’t prove it. Loftus is the one slinging around accusations of my alleged “hatred” (not the other way around). I don’t reciprocate that.
Even fellow atheists could see that John was acting improperly. One (“amber”) wrote on his own blog:
Dave, as a bystander with no axe to grind, I agree John was being a jerk. I don’t know where he gets off ragging on you. And for the record, I’m an atheist.
Another atheist at the same time wrote to me privately and said that I was one of the few polite theists that he had come across. But John Loftus continued his attacks:
You’re a joke. I’m surprised you have an audience. You’re also a psychologist, eh? Wow! . . . Again, you’re a joke.
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.
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. (all on 10-16-06)
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. (all on 11-30-06)
Again, I see nothing of this nature in my comments about John’s views in the follow-up paper, either. But there is no doubt what John thinks of me personally.
Secular Humanism & Christianity: Seeking Common Ground (with Sue Strandberg) [5-25-01]
16 Atheists / Agnostics & Me (At a Meeting) [11-24-10]
Photo credit: [public domain / NeedPix.com]