I've been sent comments so far that my previous piece (only been up one night and has not yet even seen the sun rise--I write this at 5:48 am) is "angry" and "unintelligent." One said "you call that a response." This makes me have to ask "do these guys really know what think is? Do they understand what a real exchange of views is?" The paradigm that in which I grew up calls for th expression of a view and the response consisting of counter arguments that call into question the thesis of the previous view. Yet atheists seem to be grossly offended by this. There are basically three responses they seem to give:
(1) Anger and incredulity that anyone would argue with them at all
(2) Some kind of general truth by stipulation position whereby they try and privilege their position above all others with no backing evidence or reasons for the special nature of their view (special pleading).
(3) or a general all purpose argument that says "Christianity is bad because it has hurt people, cases X, Y, Z (usually the crusades, witch trails, and some try to include the holocaust because they stupidly try to lump Hitler in as a Christian, so of course all Christians are guilty if hone is guilty of something), then any argument tot he existence of God or truth of the Bible is met with "but that can't be true because of cases x,y, and z."
Loftus' style is a combination of all three. He starts with a sort of "are you still beating your wife" kind of argument--God is stupid and the bible's a pile of crap and any argument form them is automatically wrong because those these "facts." That's his basic approach. Then he follow it up trying to psychologize the person with whom he is arguing. We see this in the things he says question my motivations and trying to "understand" how I can possibly believe it.
He is totally of my response below. I can't understand why they have a problem here. My basic approch in defending my atonement piece was this:
(1) support for the view point among major theologians
(2) an analysis of the nature of theological positions derived from scripture and including my own as an example of the valid sort.
(3) Pointing out his lack of proof and evidence.
(4) showing what's wrong with the way he tries to deal with my arguments
(5) showing the inadequacy of his approach since he basically pretended my entire view was nothing more than one aspect which was a small part of my view. this allowed him to reflect upon the inadequacy of the proposal but it was truncated and missed the over all point.
To all of this he says it's insulting and bad and it's much of a response and he wonders if dialogging with me is worth. what are they offended by? what are they talking about? its as though the act of disagreement is seen as some kind of big crime. ON their blog they try to portray me as someone who can't tolerate the views of others. why? Because I don't like them panning ideas and methods that I learned n seminary when they know nothing about them.
when you tell them "but you don't know anything about theology" they say "whats' to know? it's stupid because God is made up." I think they deeply offended by thought. They are very simplistic and they have to have things their way and if anyone disagrees they come unglued. Their only understanding of philosophical dialog is rage and incredulity.
In all of this Loftus has not given one single argument based upon evidence. He hasn't dealt with a single passage. He hasn't presented the views of any theologians or scholars. His entire criticism was based upon the the assumption of theodicy and reduction of my view to one aspect (participatory suffering) as inadequate and then ignores huge portions the view, totally misses the redemptive and transformational aspects.
I also put up a ton of material on empirical studies documenting the transformative effects of religious experience. This was completely ignored as though it isn't there but they will, I'm sure, go on asserting that religion has no positive effect or benefit.
Incredibly after all of that he puts through a comment to the effect that my response was angry, inadequate, lacking in any substance. I just have to wonder if he has a clear idea of what we are supposed to be doing here.
Who are these strange people who are filled with hatred and indignation at the faith of others but who can't be bothered to learn anything about it? Why should we try to deal with them when they can't argue without personal invective? Strange angry people who can't concentrate upon a complex idea.