Atheist Neil Carter Promptly Banned Me During the Discussion on His Blog
Atheist and anti-theist Bob Seidensticker, who was “raised Presbyterian”, runs the influential Cross Examined blog. He asked me there, on 8-11-18: “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?” He also made a general statement on 6-22-17: “Christians’ arguments are easy to refute . . . I’ve heard the good stuff, and it’s not very good.” He added in the combox: “If I’ve misunderstood the Christian position or Christian arguments, point that out. Show me where I’ve mischaracterized them.” Such confusion would indeed be predictable, seeing that Bob himself admitted (2-13-16): “My study of the Bible has been haphazard, and I jump around based on whatever I’m researching at the moment.”
Bob (for the record) virtually begged and pleaded with me to dialogue with him in May 2018, via email. But by 10-3-18, following massive, childish name-calling attacks against me, encouraged by Bob on his blog (just prior to his banning me from it), his opinion was as follows: “Dave Armstrong . . . made it clear that a thoughtful intellectual conversation wasn’t his goal. . . . [I] have no interest in what he’s writing about.”
And on 10-25-18, utterly oblivious to the ludicrous irony of his making the statement, Bob wrote in a combox on his blog: “Someone who’s not a little bit driven to investigate cognitive dissonance will just stay a Christian, fat ‘n sassy and ignorant.” Again, Bob mocks some Christian in his combox on 10-27-18: “You can’t explain it to us, you can’t defend it, you can’t even defend it to yourself. Defend your position or shut up about it. It’s clear you have nothing.” And again on the same day: “If you can’t answer the question, man up and say so.” And on 10-26-18: “you refuse to defend it, after being asked over and over again.” And again: “You’re the one playing games, equivocating, and being unable to answer the challenges.”
Bob’s cowardly hypocrisy knows no bounds. Again, on 6-30-19, he was chiding someone for something very much like he himself: “Spoken like a true weasel trying to run away from a previous argument. You know, you could just say, ‘Let me retract my previous statement of X’ or something like that.” Yeah, Bob could! He still hasn’t yet uttered one peep in reply to — now — 45 of my critiques of his atrocious reasoning.
I thank you for writing this and will share it on my Catholic Facebook page [which I did] because I think it is important that human beings understand those who are different from them.
I can’t help but notice the irony, however, that even when the writer of such an article is not an anti-theist, as you say about yourself, the combox below the article is (inevitably?) full of anti-theists and the usual echo chamber-type yucking it up and mockery of Christians and Christianity. I’ve never seen an atheist combox that wasn’t like that. Does one exist anywhere?
And you say this because of the contrast between atheist blogs and Christian blogs? You’re saying this because the atheist blogs are echo chambers while the Christian blogs are open and friendly discussions of a wide variety of topics with nothing off limits? You need to show me where you hang out, because I haven’t seen such Christian blogs.
I wasn’t discussing Christian blogs, but since you brought it up (and since I’m banned on yours),
You say that as if I haven’t been banned on yours. Twice.
I heartily agree that almost all Christian blogs have worthless comboxes as well (inter-Christian squabbles are as boorish and tedious as atheist-Christian ones: believe me!).
For those sites (STR, Cold Case Christianity, and many others) without commenting features, I think I can see their reasoning. They want a monologue rather than a dialogue. Of course, the rules are theirs to set, and I’m free to go elsewhere, so I can’t complain. Still, I do sense that part of that motivation is the realization that they couldn’t win a fair fight and must rig the game.
My own is welcoming of those of all beliefs under the sun, as long as they behave in a civil fashion.
That’s why I’m banned? Oh, OK.
Hence, recently, I’ve been in discussion with two atheists: “gusbovona” (also active on your blog), who enjoyed the discussion (said so), as did I. I just put up our exchange two days ago. We were discussing my response to one of your arguments (since you have refused to reply to now 44 of my critiques of your stuff, after directly challenging me to critique it).
Ironic, isn’t it? I respond to what seems like countless Christian articles, and I rarely get a Christian responding to my stuff. I live for debate. And I finally find someone who has written, apparently, 44 replies, but I have zero interest in engaging. Ain’t life crazy?
The other one goes by “abb3w”.
Yes, those are thoughtful commenters.
Perfectly amiable, non-insulting discussion. It’s a joy to me when this happens. Therefore, I hang out on my blog, where such discussion actually exists. Granted, it’s relatively rare (because few atheists want to actually talk to and dialogue with us Christians), but the possibility is always there, if any atheist wants to come and discuss things. As long as they don’t start insulting and mocking, they are always welcome (serious, constructive, inquiring, person-to-person dialogue). But if they do act up, I will ban (just as you do yourself).
Let’s not imagine a perfect symmetry here. I’m very slow to ban. Perhaps you’ve seen commenters complain about that (and they are likely correct). Before I do ban, I almost always coach the offender with the good behavior I’m looking for. Unfortunately, they have never reformed.
I’ve banned many more Christians than atheists. When you banned me from your site, I was in a serious, amiable discussion with someone else there. But you didn’t want that to take place, I guess, so you hit the eject button.
Yeah, seeing you have a fruitful conversation must’ve been too much for my stony heart. I confess that I don’t remember the details of either banning. I think an objective observer would see the unfairness differently than you do.
When I banned you from my site, it was because you violated my ethical guidelines, as I explained at length at the time. I’ve also written several articles of a conciliatory nature, regarding atheists:
16 Atheists / Agnostics & Me (At a Meeting) [11-24-10]
Should We Ignore Atheists or Charitably Dialogue? [7-21-10 and 1-7-11]
Legitimate Atheist Anger [10-7-15]
[the above material was all (initially) posted on Neil Carter’s site. When I went to respond to Bob’s second reply, I discovered that Neil had banned me, too, and deleted my comments. Very impressive. But here is the reply I (would have) made, if I was allowed to]:
As I have said, I explained why you were banned. You violated my ethical standards for conduct (precisely as you think I did on your blog). It has nothing to do with what you believe, and certainly not for any imagined prowess in argument that you think you have against Christianity. I have refuted you 44 times now without reply. But I’m scared of you, according to you.
That’s certainly an interesting “see no evil / hear no evil” spin that the facts massively refute. But carry on. Should you ever decide to engage my critiques and live up to your triumphalistic rhetoric I’d be more than happy to counter-reply.
[meanwhile, Bob, thinking I deleted my own comments and not knowing I was banned, posted further]:
(Dave deleted his comment above.) It is odd how memories differ. In Dave’s mind, he has a well-publicized and quite reasonable list of rules that any civil person would want to follow, but I just couldn’t be bothered. And he was a gentleman on my site, but I just couldn’t tolerate him making so much gosh-darned sense. My memories are rather different.
I’ll let you, dear reader, detect and enjoy the numerous delicious ironies and ludicrous hypocrisies in this incident with regard to both Bible-Basher Bob and Hair-Trigger Neil Carter. These are the folks who are supposedly so vastly intellectually superior to us poor, lowly Christians? This is how they act? I had critiqued Neil as part of my previous critique of bob, on the issue of the “zombies” who rose from the dead: described in Matthew 27:51-53. Apparently, that critique was too much for him to take, and so he decided to ban me and try to forget that it ever happened.
Not impressive . . . If one has a case, then they defend their arguments in the face of criticism, rather than ban and flee for the hills and hope their readers never saw their arguments being roundly refuted.
Photo credit: [public domain / Piqsels]