Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Open Letter to John Loftus and the "DC" crowd

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The Peaceable Kingdom, Edward Hicks

The "DC" crowd: the folks at Debunking Christianity blog.

I have two purposes here. I do want to say a word about my manner. This is not an explanation about why I seem insulting at times nor is it another apology. I did apologize and I covered "why" in the last post here. I will say something about it. Secondly, I want to speak to a statement John Loftus made on the Triblogue. He said something to the effect "why don't you block with us and not them (the fudnies) because you have more in common wit us. This is the primary reason for this "open letter."

As for my insulting nature, this is all I wish to say: when I utter words such as "go to college get an education" that is not the devastating insult it may seem. Now I'm not saying that those offended don't have a right to be offended. I do not mean to hurt anyone, and this does come accords in a way that does offend, I am sorry for that and I am trying to change so I don't do it again. I also am not denying that I have been insulting to many in the past. Regardless of the reasons, I have been an ass at times. I do regret that. I am trying to change. Quiting message boards (except for my own) is part of that attempt. Aside from this. I did go to the Gingus Khan school of diplomacy. I am gruff and I can be cold. When I feel insulted I know how to insult back. But just telling someone "get an education" is not the insult it seems. I do not say that to imply "you are an idiot." I know you read it that way. Perhaps there's no other way to read it in the context of a heated argument. I am not making excuses and I am trying to change so that I say it more gently. But I do have grave concern that a great deal of the bitterness of atheists comes from just not knowing enough about religion, theology, and history. I hasten to add Christians, and all people must be included there. The whole culture is less literate than it used to be. We are not taught the kinds of things our parents were taught in therms of liberal arts, literature, history, we are forgetting their importance. We are so hung up on empirical data we have forgotten about other kinds of knowledge. I see the most abismal logic on message boards and blogs, not all from atheists either! I just stay out of moral arguments because neither side understands meta ethical theory and most of those discussions are so messed up it's hopeless.

To me learning is not a fixed position. If you have a deficiency in education, that doesn't mean you are stupid or no good. It means you need to learn more. Do it! I mean it, in a nice way! Read some books, take some classes and try to learn more! I am a teacher. I am a born teacher. It's all I ever really wanted to be since I was in tenth grade and I first faced the realization that I was born to teach. When I see a lack of education in some area I have to point it out. Now, as I say, I could do that in a more gracious way and hopefully I will.


As for John's statement, do I actually have more in common with atheists on DC than I do with fundies? In a way it's true, but it depends upon how you look at it.I was an atheist. But that was a long time ago, and the atheist community was very different then. There was no internet. IT wasn't even thought about. In that day when I first began to call myself an atheist and really up to the point where I was born again, computers were big main fame things with spools of tape, there was only one or at most two in a city no one every thought about having one of his own. Atheists did not come together on the internet, they met primarily through universities. There was only one atheist organization I ever heard of, that was Madelin Murry O'Hair's group in Austin. I knew a good friend of hers, an eccentric English paperhanger who was an old man when I was in highschool. He ran his own discussion group in Richardson Texas. He's long dead. It was a cool group. I got into it through a friend I knew in the McGovern campaign. That's right, it was 1972! That's how atheists had to meet back then, by accident in connection with things held in common. Almost all the atheists I knew before the internet I knew from Universities. Those I met through the English guy who put me on to the O'Hair group, were fanatical and seemed kind of dumb. I didn't hang with them much, I did not like them. I liked the old guy's discussion group. Most of those people were not atheists, but they were generally tolerant and "fellow travelers."

In those days the major influences upon atheism were not from science. Today it seems like a large portion of atheists are either people angry at religion, or people who like scientific stuff, or they overlap. In those days there was a huge influx of Marxists, which you don't find on message boards much. There was a smaller group of those who were existentialists, influenced by Jean-Paul Sartre. I was both, Marxist and Sartian. that was also common since Sartre was a Marxist himself. There was no appreiceable objectivist influence. In those days objectivism was quite rare, and when I did meet one I was instantly an enemy and tried to drive them away. Obviously, because they were anti-Marx. By "drive away" I man out argue in class or in the discussion group, or what have you. I didn't physically drive anyone anywhere.

So what do we have in common? One might think I can related to you as atheists becasue I was one. But I don't. I think the differences in the kinds of atheism I was into and the kind I see today are so great, I don't' feel any real kinship there. I can relate to some basic ideas of enlightening society, struggle to make things better, social consciousness, I relate to that strongly. I have been a political activist all my life. I was a major Dallas organizer for the Central America Solidarity movement in the 80s. I was a Vietnam protester from 6th grade (1968) to the end of American involvement (something around 74). I can relate to that but what I can't relate to is the association of social consciousness with determinism and reductionism. I see these ideas as the enemies of the people, the essence of what is oppressive in capitalistic society. I see atheists today as pulling for the death of humanity, the putting to sleep any real human sensibility and striving to turn humanity into number crunching robots. I lump in with this materialism, brain/mind functionalism, and all those things that reduce reality from an open ended metaphysical question to a quantified and spelled out chemical determinism. To me nothing is more fascist than Dennett's stuff on reducing mind to brain function. Now I don't know what John's views are on these things. But I am sepaking of atheism in general, and I'm probably wrong to generalize about what all of you think.

I saw these issues about social consciousness as disproofs or challenges to Christian belief, even though the core values that motivate them probably go back to my childhood upbringing in the church of Christ. Even so, I held those things out against Christian belief as reasons to abandon it, when I was an atheist, and a young Marxist and existentialist. Those core values that I have always clung to as the standards of what knew so undoubtedly that they could be used to judge even the truth of faith, include: compassion for others, an abstract love of something called "humanity," a desire to make the society we live in better, more humane and more reasonable, and love of the arts and love of learning. These are the ideals I would say my life is about. I would lay odds that good number of you would agree with that list, although perhaps adding some to it. I am guessing you are thinking "these are things we agree upon." They are I'm sure. There's also another sense in which we agree, and that is the modernity of my life. This is something that gives me more in common with John Loftus than with a good many fundamentalists.

Fundamentalism is an attempt to hide form modernity. Fundamentalism began as a reaction against the encroachment of the modern world. I grew up in the South, in Texas of the 1950s. I was raised in an exclusive group that saw itself as the only true Christians, for a bunch of picky reasons no one outside that group could ever relate to. They were things like "we don't use instrumental music." The Church of Christ of my youth was unlike it is today, unbelievably legalistic, exclusivistic, closed minded, bigoted, ignorant, agnry. I was raise with the idea that modern world is wrong, that's the "world" the Bible warns us of. Like all young atheists and good liberals I went through a coming of age ritual that involved shedding these ideas and embracing the modern world. As a liberal theologian I seek to translate the gospel in to the modern world, while the fundie seeks to hide from the world to save the gospel. So that in a sense does give us some common ground, but there is a problem.

While I did see these values as challenges to the faith I was raised with, when I got saved I saw that there's a much greater fit between these values and the gospel of Christ. These are not challenges to faith, they are result of faith. They are the fruit of knowing Christ. It took time to see this, it good graduate school to see how it all came together; but it does. Faith is Christ is a much better foundation for these values than is atheism. Fudnies would probably agree with most of the list of values as they stand, so the real issues are all in application. Fundies are not going to say "No I hate people, I don't want things to be better of the individual." Now some may actually not want that, but they don't know they don't want it. I always thought the end times stuff was very anti-human. We can't make society better, it's going to get so bad God just has to wipe it all out and call the game an "take us home." Did you not know that Christians haven't always thought that way? Did you knot know that in the days of the abolition movement (which was about 90% Christian) they believed that the social Gospel would make the world good, and Jesus would came back to find a socially perfect world with no war, no poverty, no prejudice. That was called "post millennialism." The Pre millenarianism of today that replaced it (the world will just worse until the whole things is destoryed in fire and Jesus will rapture out the faithful and the evil will burn in hell) that view came in on the heels of post civil war despair.

The sense of modernity I share with you, which includes wanting to understand science, and taking scientific evidence seriously, hence I'm an evolutionist, is tempered with a postmodernist sensibility. I realize that modernism was arrogant, overblown, gave short shrift to the value of the past. As the Great Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky once said, "opportunists think principles are dead weight when in reality they are ballast." I'm not calling John an opportunist, but by the same token the values of the past are not dead weight, they are ballast that help us stay up right in the stormy passages of life. We need continuity. While the postmodern might dismiss faith as a meta narrative, postmodernist itself becomes a meta narrative if we don't recognize when something is pulling us under and when it's acting as ballast and keeping us from capsizing. In post modernity everything is up for grabs. So religion has as much a place on the playing field as any other assumption.

Sartre and Marx were like photographers. Their photos were true images of the world, they just got mixed up as to what was the negative and what was the positive image. Sartre's project was about showing the consequences of the world without God. But he neglected to realize that there is a God. So while he was right that life is absurd, he was wrong about it being meaningless. While he was right about us being radically free, he was wrong about Christianity being a limitation to freedom. Christianity is the basis upon which true freedom is predicated. Thus what Sartre saw as the negative, Christianity, is the positive. His positive, his own ego, was the negative. But the image of the world he presented is a true picture of what's out there. We are free and we are condemned to be free in an absurd world, and a world that often seems meaningless, but the meaning is there if we seek it. Those aspects of modern thought which seek to eliminate freedom and reduce us to robot status are not bridges to a world of human compassion, they are death and they are slavery and death.


Marx' negative of the world is his materialism. The images he saw truly was the need to understand a material critique, social sciences which understand the material limitations and how they govern people's lives, and to see that clearly and scientifically without mystifying it with a bunch of hokus pockus. But he published this image in its negative, where he sees religion as the problem and a totally secular world as the answer. He was deluded by Fuerbach. Ah there's another good photographer who couldn't tell which was the negative. God is the mask of money. Fuererbach got that one right! He gives us a true image, but as with Sartre and Marx we have to turn it around from negative to positive. The need for material social critique does not mean the need for materialist metaphysics.

When I put things together, scientific understanding of social problems, the condemnation to freedom, the truth I find in art, the intrinsic need for meaning, the grounding of world views in values which are themselves ungrounded, it all tells me that these areas of thought I've always sought to follow, to understand, to explicate, my friends, the familiar things I've always lived with, my friends the ideals, these tell not of the need to discord belief in Christ, but the need to embrace it. So while we do have a lot of common values, we have very different orientations about what they mean. I'm speaking in very general terms, trying to cram in a life-time of learning and study into a few simple ideas, and speaking in great generalizations. By and large you can't ground social utopia in a society that can't be any more free than the ability to quantify freedom and reduce consciousness to chemicals. You can't build a better society in world where freedom is grounded in meaninglessness and absurdity. You cannot have a social utopia in a world that is meaningless and absurd. But "utopia" means "nowhere." There is no perfect society in a fallen world. To ignore that and then try to build a better society in a world that can never anything more than meaningless is as bad as trying to pull the holy down from heaven and construct it on earthy by confusing the distinction between the divine and temporal political power.

I bring this up because it demarkakes the line that I am willing draw between who I block and who I do not block with. Those who would cast the aura of the sacred over their temporal projects, the right wing fundamentalists who confuse their own reading of the Bible with God's word itself, are setting society up for a crystal night, but those who would cut off any sort of higher meaning in the name of quantification are merely setting up a killing field. The values I speak of only work if they are grounded in the divine, and if the distinction between the sacred and profane is very clear. That's why Secularization is not bad, its' a good thing. That was the solution to the religious wars, make a vocabulary everyone can share and speak that in the public square.

The most important thing to me is God. I had a classic "born again" experince, with a vintage Pentecostal "baptism of the Holy Spirit" with the famous "signs following."
You can read all about it here. Nothing is more important than the Gospel and representing it fairly. I don't don't expect atheists or even Christians who have not had such experinces, to understand. It was not just a matter of feeling better about things, it was not merely a matter of not worrying about hell, it was like going form death to life. It was as though I spent why life in a coffin and suddenly it was open I discovered a world of wonder and beauty I never dreamed existed. So of course that is the most important thing. Thus I choose alliances lexically, in the order of that which most serves the interest of the Gospel. There have been times that I blocked with the atheists against fundamentalists. But it has to be when I feel that the fundies are a bigger threat to the Gospel the atheists in that given issue. That does happen at times. There was my Falling out with CARM and Matt Slick. You can read about part of that those two previous links and Here. The issue began with evolution. I got sick of all these really stupid posts fundies kept dragging over form the creation board. I tried to put them wise on evolution because all of their criticisms revolved around issues they just did not understand in science. That fiasco ended with the fudnies on cARM calling me "the spawn of satan" and Matt Slick and I exchanging really harsh words. We have made up sense then. I went on to start fundies watch and was banned for six months.

I have now quite carm for good, but that was because of the atheists not because of Matt. The point is I am willing to block with atheists against fundamentalists, but only when the fundies are being a bigger danger at the moment, a danger to spreading the gospel, then are the atheists. That has to be the deciding factor because that's the most important thing in the world, because that's life. that's where life is found, knowing God. That's what its all about and nothing is better than that. The sense of being a modern person and learning understanding the world and so on those are all illuminations that help illustrate the path, they are not the path itself. the mistake atheists are making is they are using the illuminations to obscure the path instead of following where they really lead. The fundies are a bigger danger to the Gospel when they make following their social agenda the true test of the Gospel. When they confuse the temporal power they seek with the end for which they seek it, they are a greater danger. When they make agreement with their opinions the true test of faith, when they forget what grace is and think the Gospel is about idolizing the bible, they are a greater danger.

The answer is not so simple as to just start mocking the fundies, because the atheists can be a danger too at times. No one sets out to be a danger. Everyone is seeking truth, but everyone want it on his own terms. The only answer is to keep saying the truth. If that means fighting against both sides, that's just the way it has to be.

44 comments:

jim said...

Although I am an atheist, I am deeply sympathetic to your point of view. Unlike your experience, I was born to left-wing parents. During my teenage years, I had a teenage rebellion, but it was completely opposite of yours. I moved to the right wing, and I embraced quasi-fundamentalist Christianity. To my shame, I embraced young-earth creationism for a while (but my flirtation with it did not last long, only about 3 months or so). All throughout high school my belief system was like a house of cards, and I was quite good at keeping my doubts at the back of my mind. I was never content to simply accept what I had been taught, and so I tried to justify my beliefs. And so I tried Christian apologetics, but it seemed really shallow.

However, right after I graduated from high school my worldview simply collapsed - there is no other way to describe it. I became frustrated with living under a set of doctrines that simply could not satisfy me intellectually.

I toyed with Christian existentialism for a while. I was a particularly avid fan of Dostoevsky, and completely imbibed his existential worldview (except for his Russian Orthodoxy, Russian nationalism, and anti-semitism). I thought that most of the evils of the twentieth century ultimately sprang from atheist materialism.

But nevertheless, the whole system just didn't work for me. Accepting Christianity because it makes humanity more moral (something I dont accept anymore, btw) will not work for the simple reason that humans are born with curiosity. Curiosity tends to kill religion. For that reason, I think that humanity is going to eventually have to come to terms with a godless, meaningless universe. Protesting that fact, as Christian existentialism seems to do, will not change reality.

At least that's my current opinion. It may change as I read more and experience more of life (I am currently in my 2nd year of college).

J.L. Hinman said...

Hi Jim, thanks for your comments. My parents were odd for middle class Americans. They were fundamentlits of a kind, even though C/C is not like other forms of evangelicalism. But they were sort of left leaning politically in that they where huge Roosevelt supporters. They lived through the depression, that meant they usually drifted to the left to an extent, along the iines FDR social democracy.

I think the problem in your story is that you can't really expect a think venier of apologdetics to build a faith, and you can't base a relationship with God on the need to ground ethics. That need for grounding stuff is good, and it's a nice indefeasible rason, but it doesn't meake for faith.

Your final statement is wrong.

Curiosity tends to kill religion.

wrong. It leads one to seek God. atheists often confuse board um with curiosity.

For that reason, I think that humanity is going to eventually have to come to terms with a godless, meaningless universe.

No, you have will have to come to terms with God. Not with ideas and arguments but with God. you will have to come to terms wtih the fact that God is the basis of meaning, not you.

Protesting that fact, as Christian existentialism seems to do, will not change reality.


Christian existentialism is not about protesting anything. It's about finding our who you are. It's about returning to the source of your being.

jim said...

Another thing to note. I go to an academically high-end college. The proportion of students who are atheists, agnostics, or skeptics there is simply staggering (probably between 35-50%). It will be increasingly harder to be taken seriously if your committment to Christian theological beliefs goes beyond mere nominal church membership, especially for members of the younger generation such as myself (this is not an argument against Christianity, btw).

J.L. Hinman said...

Another thing to note. I go to an academically high-end college. The proportion of students who are atheists, agnostics, or skeptics there is simply staggering (probably between 35-50%). It will be increasingly harder to be taken seriously if your committment to Christian theological beliefs goes beyond mere nominal church membership, especially for members of the younger generation such as myself (this is not an argument against Christianity, btw).

8:46 PM


the reason for that is not hard to figure out at all. No one reads great literatrue anymore either. I bet probalby 90% of the kids at yoru school think poetry is no more imprtant than Christmas decorations.

The situation we have is one in which society as a whole has been growing more one-dimensional since WWII and at the same time, the fundametalists killed off the only real movement that could have saved it in an attempt to reap short term political gains. They sacrificed the long term state of the country in terms of faith in order ot win a couple of elections.

The reason people try a a dab of Christian existentialism an then decide it's no good and give up and become atheists is because Christian existentialism was never and end in itself. It's not a substitute for a relationship with God. It has to assume the relationship is in place first.

Liberal theology assumes the truth of the gospel first, then it asumes there's a need to translate the gospel into the modern world. But you have a basis in knowing Jesus first. Its' a relationship. you have to experince the presence of God. You have to keep to know God. that's what' its all about.

John W. Loftus said...

I came from a Church of Christ background myself, the instrumental variety, so we have even more in common!

The essence of your answer is this:

You can't build a better society in world where freedom is grounded in meaninglessness and absurdity. You cannot have a social utopia in a world that is meaningless and absurd. But "utopia" means "nowhere." There is no perfect society in a fallen world. To ignore that and then try to build a better society in a world that can never anything more than meaningless is as bad as trying to pull the holy down from heaven and construct it on earthy by confusing the distinction between the divine and temporal political power.

I bring this up because it demarkakes the line that I am willing draw between who I block and who I do not block with. Those who would cast the aura of the sacred over their temporal projects, the right wing fundamentalists who confuse their own reading of the Bible with God's word itself, are setting society up for a crystal night, but those who would cut off any sort of higher meaning in the name of quantification are merely setting up a killing field. The values I speak of only work if they are grounded in the divine, and if the distinction between the sacred and profane is very clear. That's why Secularization is not bad, its' a good thing. That was the solution to the religious wars, make a vocabulary everyone can share and speak that in the public square.

The point is I am willing to block with atheists against fundamentalists, but only when the fundies are being a bigger danger at the moment...


My response:

1) You are clearly wrong about atheism leading to the killing fields. Hector Avalos looked at those type of issues in his book "Fighting Words." 2) Because of (1) I think you are also clearly wrong to say atheists are the greatest danger. Atheists are the voice of reason, especially when compared to fundamentalism.

Cheers.

J.L. Hinman said...

Avalos dealt with it? pardon me if I'm not shaking. I don't mean to insult Hector, but I am not impressed. I also find this to be just another hit and run "it's in there somewhere" kind of statement that you guys toss around so freely. that's the thing really gets me about the way you argue; you don't!

you just inform us of an opinion "it has been dealt with" round up the usual suspects, and don't bother to really get into it.

I think misinterpret what I said. I did not say atheists are the greater danger. I don't who is. I said the one who at the moment, that time, is the doing the most to negate the gospel, in so far as I can see that, that's the one I have to oppose. Sometimes that will be you sometimes it will be Triblouge.



"Atheists are the voice of reason, especially when compared to fundamentalism."

No I am the voice of reason!;-)

J.L. Hinman said...

ok so the voice of reason is a bit whiny and gets up set a lot. What do you expect in an unreasonable world?

John W. Loftus said...

Okay then, from my book (it isn't formatted correctly so it's tough to read):

The goal of world domination under a totalitarian regime by cultic societies was
the dominating factor in the atrocities committed during the past century in world
history, not atheism. Case in point is the fact that Hitler, Mao, and Stalin, weren’t the
only ones killing masses of people at that time in history. Japan was a religious
society that worshiped the emperor as “a god.” The Japanese committed many atrocities
against other people, especially the Chinese. Mussolini was a Catholic whose
thugs were largely practicing Roman Catholics.
The fact is that religious views, or nonreligious views, are used by people to justify
whatever they want to do. It’s not clear Hitler was an atheist, but he was certainly
the type of maniac who would use anything he could to advance his egomaniacal
power over people. Besides, Hitler had the support of Germany, which was a
Christian nation at the heart of the Protestant Reformation. These German Christians
had a built-in hatred for the Jews due to centuries of Christian propaganda that they
were “Christ killers,” most notably from Martin Luther himself, which made it easy
for them to plunder, rape, and kill up to six million of them (see note).8 The bottom
line is that civilized people today are less likely to commit such crimes because we
have all learned our lessons from history, both Christians and atheists. Why?
Because that’s how human beings learn our morality, through trial and error and the
lessons of history.
-----------
Footnote #8.

Dr. Hector Avalos summarized this case, in “Avalos Contra Weikart”:
Luther’s seven-point plan is similar to that of Nazi policy. In order to understand
this point, let’s quickly summarize Luther’s seven-point plan, which is found in
“Martin Luther, On the Jews and Their Lies” (translated by Martin H. Bertram, in
Luther’s Works: The Christian in Society IV, ed. Franklin Sherman [55 volumes;
Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971], pp. 268–72.

First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt
whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them.
What Is Life without God? 415
This is to be done in honor of our Lord and Christendom, so that God might see that
we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying,
cursing, blaspheming of his son and of his Christians. . . .
Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. . . .
Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such
idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them.
Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of
loss of life and limb. . . .
Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways by abolished completely for
the Jews.
Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasures
of silver and gold be taken from them for safekeeping. . . .
Seventh, I recommend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a distaff, or a spindle into
the hands of young strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in
the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen. 3:19).
Avalos tells us: “Every single point in Luther’s plan was implemented by Nazi policy.

J.L. Hinman said...

First of all John, the number of people killed by atheist regimes (commies of course) is 100 million. That's more than all the others put together. But its not a number game. I said I have to opose the point at which the Gospel is being denied or negated at the moment.

I am not talking about atheism in some cold war terms; it's evil, its spreading, blah blah let's all be afraid. I'm saying whoever is making the challenge to Christ at the movement is the one I have to fight.

Within the context of a given situation. Literally tomorrow it might be the fundies.

As for Hector, this is typical Hector thinking, ahistorical.

First, its' guilt by association. O Luther's plan was the like the Nazi's therefore, Luther was a Nazi.

Secondly, it has history backassword. obviously the Nazis got it form Luther since Luther couldn't get it from them.

Thirdly, Luther was a racist idiot. that has nothing to do with anything. I already established the fact that I'm willing to oppose fundies when they are wrong and they making a mess of things. That doesn't mean I will take you side against them automatically every time. It means it depends upon the situation.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Joe this is one of the best posts I've read by you, and not just because I agree with a lot of it. ;-)

The argument here isn't over who is worse. The argument is over the importance of Jesus and the Gospel. While we may all agree 100% on social issues, we are not likely to agree on Christ and the writings associated with him. Fundamentalists, moderates,and liberals all get their ideas from the same source. The moderates and liberals do not see the Bible as the most important thing, but rather the inspiration behind the Bible. Whereas the fundamentalists see the Bible and the source for the Bible as one and the same.

I think there are some wonderful things in the Bible, but I also think there are some terrible things in it. I think Jesus was credited with saying some wonderful things and some terrible things. These differences are enough for me to believe that this collection of writings is far from perfect. Were they inspired by a god? I don't know, but of course I doubt it. Is the Bible evidence for a god? Not as I see it. What's left then to make me think a god exists? The fact that we are here? That doesn't do it for me. if it does for you, I have no problem with that.

John W. Loftus said...

I won't long tary with you on this oft discussed subject, especially if you won't at least go the library to check out Avalos's and Hitchen's books (chpt 17).

Suffice it to say that you don't understand the history of that which you claim to do. Not at all. There is no single cause for the 100 million people who's lives were taken in the last century. That, my friend is simplistic thinking, something I would suppose you are against. It also fails to understand that in that era we discovered bombs, created tanks, machine guns, grenades, and planes. You discount what we as Americans did with the atomic bombs, too. That's what Christians do, in my opinion, count the hits, and discount the misses, when it comes to prayer as well as when it comes to arguments that suit their interests. Real historians see each event as having a multiple of causes. The era you speak of was an era of male chauvanism and world dominance now that they had weapons of mass destruction. It was the same impulse to conqueror as we always had, it's just that with these new weapons it was a race to see who could acquire and use them first for world dominence. People with bombs kill more people then people without bombs, silly. I wonder how many many more millions the church would have killed if they had this arsenal at their disposal?

Such simplistic thinking deserves to be squashed.

And you simply cannot dismiss the impact that the teachings of Martin Luther had on the protestant Lutheran majority in Germany who represented most all of the men in the Nazi armies, without showing an utter ignorance of their hatred of the Jews for Christian reasons as "Christ Killers." Can you take that influence out and then see what would have happened? NO!

J.L. Hinman said...

I won't long tary with you on this oft discussed subject, especially if you won't at least go the library to check out Avalos's and Hitchen's books (chpt 17).


I read his book on destorying scholarship and he wont discuss it or debate it. I wrote two critiques and he wont deal with them.

you think you can pass of the burden of proof to me by asserting arguments then not backing them up and making references to your "books" but that is not an argument. My text was first. you have to make an argument or shut the hell up. this hit and run stuff is not cutting it.

typical slip shot argumentation that I've come to associate with the DC crowd.


Suffice it to say that you don't understand the history of that which you claim to do.


speaking of fighting words...did you see Mike's comments? he gets it. you don't. It's not about who is worse.



Not at all. There is no single cause for the 100 million people who's lives were taken in the last century. That, my friend is simplistic thinking, something I would suppose you are against.


bullshit. there's a difference in compllex analysis and mystification. The reason they dided is obvious and simple:

Political people thought their ends were more important than the lives they had to destroy to achieve those ends. they treated people as means rather than ends because they don't value life as much as Christ did.




It also fails to understand that in that era we discovered bombs, created tanks, machine guns, grenades, and planes. You discount what we as Americans did with the atomic bombs, too.


100 million combatants did not die in WWII, nor did that many die at Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

the 100 mil were not fighting soldiers they were civilians whose crimes was in being Jewish, Christian, capitalist or just getting in the way.




That's what Christians do, in my opinion, count the hits, and discount the misses, when it comes to prayer as well as when it comes to arguments that suit their interests.



that's a pretty nonsesical comment. what misses? where there millions of people the communist almost killed but didn't? what are you saying?

what does prayer have to do with this? This is about killing innocent people.

btw I have yet to hear you give any astounding historical analysis. You allude to complexities you aren't willing to name, that is not an argument.



Real historians see each event as having a multiple of causes.


but real historians and real philosophers and real thinkers and real smart people don't promise the hint of an argument to answer an argument and never make it but put the burden go read about it on others. that is crap. that is "slough?" we had a name for it in debate it's called "sloughing off the argument." There's a name for the kind of debater you are, it's called "greasier." you slide past he arguments.

Real historians don't hint at complexities they are not willing to name.


The era you speak of was an era of male chauvanism and world dominance now that they had weapons of mass destruction.


so that means that the atheists leaders of the atheist societies didn't contribute to it did they? they were blessed little lambs being oppressed by the evil Christians in America right?


It was the same impulse to conqueror as we always had, it's just that with these new weapons it was a race to see who could acquire and use them first for world dominence.


atheist societies played as much a role in it as did the capitalists. American wasn't Christian it was capitalist. But the atheists did not show us a new humanity. Marx was wrong! they did not show us an enlightened society of proletarians, they were just as bas as we were.




People with bombs kill more people then people without bombs, silly. I wonder how many many more millions the church would have killed if they had this arsenal at their disposal?


Stlin and Mao killed a hundred million. so we know what happens when atheists get arsenals. you want us to blame Christianity for what they might have done and stick our heads in the sand and pretend the atheists didn't do anything.

Such simplistic thinking deserves to be squashed.


yea how about that. I have an answer to that. but you have to go buy my book to see it. it's real cleaver it deviates what you said in no uncertain terms, but you gotta wait until my book is ready before you can read it.

speaking of simplistic. there are lots of complex answers to this. I'm not going say what they are or talk abut they they are there and I'm sure you don't understand them.




And you simply cannot dismiss the impact that the teachings of Martin Luther had on the protestant Lutheran majority in Germany who represented most all of the men in the Nazi armies, without showing an utter ignorance of their hatred of the Jews for Christian reasons as "Christ Killers." Can you take that influence out and then see what would have happened? NO!


Yea that's not simplistic is it? like there are jus so few veriabls between the time of Luther and the Time of Hitler there's just no compleixity there is there? Lutehr made Hilter happen, end of story no complexity don't think about it.

O you understand history so deeply john.and to prove it we can all buy your book right. somewhere in that book there's a sentence or two about this that refers us to another post or something right?


It still hasn't even dawned upon that I said it's not a contest between which side is worse. man please pull your head out of your ass. I know you are smart person I know you are well read, I want to see you do your best. pull your head out and start listening now.

J.L. Hinman said...

Joe this is one of the best posts I've read by you, and not just because I agree with a lot of it. ;-)

thanks man.

The argument here isn't over who is worse. The argument is over the importance of Jesus and the Gospel.

exactly! Please try to exlplain that to John.





While we may all agree 100% on social issues, we are not likely to agree on Christ and the writings associated with him. Fundamentalists, moderates,and liberals all get their ideas from the same source. The moderates and liberals do not see the Bible as the most important thing, but rather the inspiration behind the Bible. Whereas the fundamentalists see the Bible and the source for the Bible as one and the same.


that's a fair statment

I think there are some wonderful things in the Bible, but I also think there are some terrible things in it.


of course it was written by barbarians.



I think Jesus was credited with saying some wonderful things and some terrible things. These differences are enough for me to believe that this collection of writings is far from perfect. Were they inspired by a god? I don't know, but of course I doubt it. Is the Bible evidence for a god? Not as I see it. What's left then to make me think a god exists? The fact that we are here? That doesn't do it for me. if it does for you, I have no problem with that.


The evidence for God is God. The only reason religion exists at all is because people have been experiencing God first hand since before humanity was human. Neanderthals seem to have had ideas of afterlife and spiritual power.
9:25 AM

larryniven said...

Okay, first thing? Learn to be concise. You talk too damn much. Second thing, and this pertains to your argument, if it isn't about who's better but rather who's right, what the hell do you keep talking about who's better for? Why even bring it up? It would be relatively easy to prove you wrong about any given topic, from what I've seen of the level of argumentation you present here, but you don't ever stand still. Are you willing to say, for instance, that the text beginning at "In those days the major influences..." and ending with "...make a vocabulary everyone can share and speak that in the public square" is entirely besides the point? Because I didn't see anything in there about who was right or wrong, just who you thought was better or worse. If you are willing to say that, then do us all a favor and delete that text out of this post: it's badly written and irrelevant. If you aren't willing to say that, then make your position explicit and stick to it, already. It's much easier to get at the truth when one concentrates on a single area of inquiry instead of jumping around whenever a threat reveals itself.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"The evidence for God is God. The only reason religion exists at all is because people have been experiencing God first hand since before humanity was human. Neanderthals seem to have had ideas of afterlife and spiritual power."

Of course one could also argue that God is merely a vestigial remnant of our primitive past.

It all comes down to perception. You perceive God, and I do not.

J.L. Hinman said...

Okay, first thing? Learn to be concise. You talk too damn much.


It's my blog. fuck you. is that concise enough for you?

Second thing, and this pertains to your argument, if it isn't about who's better but rather who's right, what the hell do you keep talking about who's better for?


I don't. you and Lofty have totally misconstrued what I'm saying. I also didn't say it was about whose right.

why can't you guys listen? I said "this is about who is a bigger danger to the Gospel at the moment. on each issue, point by point.I was talking about how to block remember? hum, did you actually read the post?




Why even bring it up? It would be relatively easy to prove you wrong about any given topic, from what I've seen of the level of argumentation you present here,


Ok that tells me at once you don't know anything. You don't have the educational background to get what I"m talking about you need it spelled out for you becasue you are ignorant.

you think can disprove anything I said, please try. but you better be concise about it.



but you don't ever stand still. Are you willing to say, for instance, that the text beginning at "In those days the major influences..." and ending with "...make a vocabulary everyone can share and speak that in the public square" is entirely besides the point?

no, why would I say that? It was exactly to the point. you sure are dumb. you are another one of thise little natter nabobs who thinks the secret to refutation is not dealing with the argument but knit picking about the way people say it in an attempt to make opponent seem incompetent. as I explained to John, saying "O I can disprove this you are don't know nuth'n" is not an argument. you are not making yourself look smart, you are making yourself look like shallow and picky.



Because I didn't see anything in there about who was right or wrong, just who you thought was better or worse.

where? where did I say "better or worse?" where did I ever say it's a matter of better or worse? I said fundies have mas cured people. You didn't get that? you can't figure out that the bit about dragging heaven down to the earth was as much a denouncement of them as the line about killing fields? So you want to me me look stupid and yourself to look so cleaver and you miss something so ovbious, it's clealry you do not understand what the damn thing is about?

I am over your head.



If you are willing to say that, then do us all a favor and delete that text out of this post: it's badly written and irrelevant.



since you don't get the overall maning of the entire essy how can you know if it's relivant? as for badly written you are no mother fucking James Joyce yourself asshole.

what teacher cursed you with the idiotic idea that making little caty gabs at people's writing styles is a fair way to argue? what a fool.

you are an idiot. don't come back.

J.L. Hinman said...

no come on guys. did that last guy say one single thing that had any content to it at all?

this is just what they do to me all the time. they can't understand what I'm talking about, they don't get because they don't have they don't have learning; I dbout taht that guy has ever heard of half things I mentinoed. so they come on knit pick about "you a't write, you dont' know anything, you don't underand anything."

did say one mother fucking thing about hte content, the only content he commented on he clealry doesn't understand, no substance nothing but continued character assasination.

that is why Christianity is failing in our culture, becasue this army of uneducated slander merchagnts just wont shut the fuck up and allow a fair and friendly echange of views.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Being arrogant and calling each others arguments stupid isn't going to accomplish anything. I respect John and the DC crowd, but I also respect Joe and what he has to say. Granted I tend to agree a lot more with John and crew than I do with Joe, but I sure would like to see a truly calm and rational debate without any of the snide remarks from either side.

I swear if someone says "but he started it" I'm gonna have to pull the car over. ;-)

J.L. Hinman said...

where did I attack their writing styles? Did I say they didn't know anything? maybe i did but after they saidit to me. Ok that's a flourish. saying "You don't know what you are talking about." that can be ok with social distance. like I say that to my brother all the time every time we argue but he knows I still think he's brilliant. I would not dare say it to Billy Abraham.

I don't have that kind of social distance with these guys.

I did not knit pick on their writing. I did not tell them they can't write. I told John he's not making arguments, and he's not. I didn't say he wrote it badly.


I would love to have a reasonable friendly calm good natured debate with them and go in depth on everything. But when are they going to start showing the kind of civility they expect from me?

now that guy may not be part of the DC group I'm not sure. But by "they" I mean atheist on the internet in general. one's like you excepted.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Joe wrote to Jim: : Your final statement is wrong.

Jim: Curiosity tends to kill religion.

wrong. It leads one to seek God. atheists often confuse board um with curiosity.


Jim: For that reason, I think that humanity is going to eventually have to come to terms with a godless, meaningless universe.

No, you have will have to come to terms with God. Not with ideas and arguments but with God. you will have to come to terms with the fact that God is the basis of meaning, not you.

I respond: Well, both of you have opinions and neither one of you will know if you are correct until the day you die.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Regarding schools and the leanings and education of students: I studied Christian ministries at a conservative evangelical friends college. Few of my fellow ministry students had any background at all beyond what their pastors had indoctrinated them with. It was sad to see them slowly become mirrors of their favorite professors. Very few thought for themselves.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

John W. Loftus said: "1) You are clearly wrong about atheism leading to the killing fields. Hector Avalos looked at those type of issues in his book "Fighting Words." 2) Because of (1) I think you are also clearly wrong to say atheists are the greatest danger. Atheists are the voice of reason, especially when compared to fundamentalism."

I would say anyone who acts like a fundamentalist of any kind is the most dangerous, especially in large groups and with potential political power, Christian groups, atheist groups or any other group.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Joe said: I also find this to be just another hit and run "it's in there somewhere" kind of statement that you guys toss around so freely.

How is this different from you telling someone they need to get educated? He's just telling you about a book that dealt with the subject.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Joe said: "First, its' guilt by association. O Luther's plan was the like the Nazi's therefore, Luther was a Nazi."

To me it was pointing out that someone who many consider the father of protestant Christianity was an evil racist SOB. Certainly not exactly like Hitler, but if they both wanted to persecute Jews that is hardly an unfair comparison.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

John W. Loftus said: "Such simplistic thinking deserves to be squashed."

Sometimes the simplest answer can be the best one. If it is wrong thinking then counter it, but belittling people only pisses them off and what cause does that serve?

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

John W. Loftus said: "Not at all. There is no single cause for the 100 million people who's lives were taken in the last century. That, my friend is simplistic thinking, something I would suppose you are against."


Joe Replied: "bullshit. there's a difference in compllex analysis and mystification. The reason they dided is obvious and simple:

Political people thought their ends were more important than the lives they had to destroy to achieve those ends. they treated people as means rather than ends because they don't value life as much as Christ did."


Joe, your last paragraph could apply to any massacre, regardless of political, or religious affiliation, and John is right there were many factors in each of these cases.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

John W. Loftus said: "That's what Christians do, in my opinion, count the hits, and discount the misses, when it comes to prayer as well as when it comes to arguments that suit their interests."

I would have added the word "some" I hate broad generalizations. I do agree about Christians and prayer though and I would use the word "most" here.

"God blessed me as the sole survivor of this plane crash!"

"God must have not healed little Suzie's cancer because he needed another angel."

They count them all as hits.

One can receive identical results from praying to a rock or even to Joe Pesci. ;)

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

larryniven said: "It would be relatively easy to prove you wrong about any given topic, from what I've seen of the level of argumentation you present here, but you don't ever stand still."

That would be a much more impressive statement if you were to have actually countered anything Joe said instead of just insulting him.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Joe said: "where did I attack their writing styles?"

I wasn't pointing the finger at any one person.

J.L. Hinman said...

responding to Mike's block of 10 posts.

I respond: Well, both of you have opinions and neither one of you will know if you are correct until the day you die.

wow, thanks for all your comments mike. I can see you spent some time on that and I appreciate it.

Yes, we wont know until we die, that's true. and I'm wrong I will still say (if I have any consciousness after death) "it was worth it to follow Jesus because I still wasn't' wrong about my core values and their connection to belief


______________

Regarding schools and the leanings and education of students: I studied Christian ministries at a conservative evangelical friends college. Few of my fellow ministry students had any background at all beyond what their pastors had indoctrinated them with. It was sad to see them slowly become mirrors of their favorite professors. Very few thought for themselves.

such is the case in all walks of life. It certainly can be found in Christianity a lot. That's one of my lifelong crusades is to get Christians to see the need for liberal arts education.

_________________

I would say anyone who acts like a fundamentalist of any kind is the most dangerous, especially in large groups and with potential political power, Christian groups, atheist groups or any other group.


thank you! that's what I was saying it's ashamed all they can see is the defensive position, becasue they totally misunderstood what I was saying. You got it.

________________


Joe said: I also find this to be just another hit and run "it's in there somewhere" kind of statement that you guys toss around so freely.

How is this different from you telling someone they need to get educated? He's just telling you about a book that dealt with the subject.

I almost always follow up such statements with explanations. That phrase is most often my segway into a lecture on some topic. Loftus never does that. It's his way of sloughing off an argument.

________


Joe said: "First, its' guilt by association. O Luther's plan was the like the Nazi's therefore, Luther was a Nazi."

To me it was pointing out that someone who many consider the father of protestant Christianity was an evil racist SOB. Certainly not exactly like Hitler, but if they both wanted to persecute Jews that is hardly an unfair comparison.

No he actually drew the link trying to argue that Luther cuased Hitler. just for the record Luther was a racist sob. But everyone was racist before the twentieth century.


__________


John W. Loftus said: "Such simplistic thinking deserves to be squashed."

Sometimes the simplest answer can be the best one. If it is wrong thinking then counter it, but belittling people only pisses them off and what cause does that serve?

thank you. BTW to Lofuts, read Trotsky the Revolution Betrayed he says Stalin was an evil jerk who didn't have to kill anyone.

_______________


John W. Loftus said: "Not at all. There is no single cause for the 100 million people who's lives were taken in the last century. That, my friend is simplistic thinking, something I would suppose you are against."


Joe Replied: "bullshit. there's a difference in compllex analysis and mystification. The reason they dided is obvious and simple:

Political people thought their ends were more important than the lives they had to destroy to achieve those ends. they treated people as means rather than ends because they don't value life as much as Christ did."

Joe, your last paragraph could apply to any massacre, regardless of political, or religious affiliation, and John is right there were many factors in each of these cases.

Of course it could appy to any mascre. they are all wrong. I'm not defeding one set of masacres above another.

John is not wrong. Read Trotsky, it didn't have to happen. There is a mass of complexity around the Russian revolution and I'm will I know a hell of a lot more about it than he did. I doubt he's ever read Trotsky's history of The Russian Revoution. But read that and the Revolution betrayed and you will see how stupid it is to try and defend STalin's murders with the calim that' "it's complex." no it's not, he was megalomaniac.

Can you say that about the Holocaust? it's so complex you are just reducing it to simplicity to condemn it.????

well it's not so much that it's Stalin was a monster as it is that he thought noting was of greater value than his ends. What I said about he valued the ends he saw and treated people like a means to an end is exactly right. that's just what caused it.



____________


John W. Loftus said: "That's what Christians do, in my opinion, count the hits, and discount the misses, when it comes to prayer as well as when it comes to arguments that suit their interests."

I would have added the word "some" I hate broad generalizations. I do agree about Christians and prayer though and I would use the word "most" here.

"God blessed me as the sole survivor of this plane crash!"

"God must have not healed little Suzie's cancer because he needed another angel."

They count them all as hits.

One can receive identical results from praying to a rock or even to Joe Pesci. ;)

bull shit. You can't. studies have been done. Besides you go through a truamatic escape and see if you don't feel something was pulling for you. That's a ludicrous argument against prayer anyway. tis' stupid to argue agasint prayer that's like arguing against wishing. weather prayer works or not weather it is real or not people are going to do it just as they are going to wish--in this life you need any break you can get, and there's gobs of evidence that it works.

J.L. Hinman said...

arryniven said: "It would be relatively easy to prove you wrong about any given topic, from what I've seen of the level of argumentation you present here, but you don't ever stand still."

That would be a much more impressive statement if you were to have actually countered anything Joe said instead of just insulting him.

7:58 PM

thanks man

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I said, very wisely: "One can receive identical results from praying to a rock or even to Joe Pesci." ;)

Joe said: "bull shit. You can't. studies have been done. Besides you go through a truamatic escape and see if you don't feel something was pulling for you. That's a ludicrous argument against prayer anyway. tis' stupid to argue agasint prayer that's like arguing against wishing. weather prayer works or not weather it is real or not people are going to do it just as they are going to wish--in this life you need any break you can get, and there's gobs of evidence that it works."

I can't cite anything off the top of my head, but many of the studies I've read don't differentiate between what people are praying to. Yes, one can say that God hears all prayers, but then he would hear my prayer to a rock too.

The fact is that some people pray for things, really selfless things, and they don't come true. When this happens they still credit God. "God works in mysterious ways." etc.

Flipping coins works sometimes too.

I will read your page on miracles.

Oh, and there were times when I was a Christian where I was in a serious crisis and I did feel like something was pulling me.

J.L. Hinman said...

Yes we do know who they were praying to, becasue they had an experimental group and the people were praying to the object of their belief system.

you can' go by hit rate, becasue we are not dealing with an automatic process. We are not evoking a law of phsyics or a taking a pil or doing anything that has to happen every time. there is a will on the other end.'

you could play the same game with your wife. how many times does she say 'I love you" when you leave the house? she says it, you say "Ok she loves me good." if you count how many times she doesn't say it, maybe those are more. does that mean it doesn't count when she does say it?

you have to go case by case with prayer becasue you don't know God's will and that's what evokes the answer.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Am I misunderstanding Joe, or are you saying that I can't claim prayer doesn't work, because it's not measurable, but that you can still claim that it does work?

I'm more than willing to concede that sometimes the desired results of prayer occur, as I'm sure you will concede that sometimes the desired results of prayer do not occur.

Maybe prayer works? If it does, who knows why? Certainly a positive outlook is better for someone's health. I know that in some of the studies that the people being prayed for were not told they were being prayed for, but that doesn't mean they were being negative about the outcome of their care.

Kristen said...

May I say, Mike, that I think when you speak of Christians saying everything is a "hit" in answers to prayer, that you are confusing the idea of looking at prayer in terms of "hit or miss" answers-- a more or less scientific inquiry viewpoint-- with the ideas of Christians themselves in prayer, as a personal interaction with Someone they implicity trust. None of us look at relationship interactions in terms of "hit or miss." If we have entered a trust relationship, then we speak of what we believe are actions by the other party-- in this case, God-- in terms of that trust. In a relationship, we don't say, "ok, the person kept our appointment 70% of the time and stood me up 30% of the time. So I can look on that person as having a hit-miss factor of 70%. So now I'm standing here, and the person is late, so I'm assuming I've been stood up and the person is unreliable." We say, "When that person I love and trust stood me up, I trusted he/she had mitigating circumstances-- which turned out to be true. So this time, as I'm standing here, I know my loved one. I will trust once again that it's true this time, and that she/he is not unreliable."

My point is that it is one thing to do a scientific study of prayer, and another to talk to an ordinary person about their experiences of God in prayer. They aren't being scientific about it-- they're being relational. Don't treat the second as if it was the first.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Hi Kristen,

I can evaluate my friends just like that. I have a friend who I love dearly who has a real problem with trying to please everybody, usually the person he is in contact with at the moment. I've been friends with him for nearly 30 years and I can count on him to disappoint me on a regular basis. That's not really my point though, my point is that if he doesn't show up for an event we have planned, I know it's him. If he doesn't come through with something that he's promised to do, I can verify it is him.

No one can verify that God does anything.

I don't expect believers to not believe in prayer, in fact if it helps them in some way, then I'm glad. I do, however, think it's just as valid to not believe in prayer as it is to believe in it.

Regardless of it being a loving, trusting relationship it is still hit or miss, unless you are praying about something really vague.

J.L. Hinman said...

I'm not saying stop talking here, but since the thread wasn't really about prayer I opened a therad about it on the boards and I put the things you have said here.

http://www.doxa.ws/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=172&p=2057#p2057

Kristen said...

Joe wrote:

"Political people thought their ends were more important than the lives they had to destroy to achieve those ends. they treated people as means rather than ends because they don't value life as much as Christ did."

Popular science fiction author Terry Pratchett, who is an Anglican, has one of his characters say that "sin" is most basically defined as "treating people as if they were things."

I agree that even the most complex motivations can be often be distilled down to something like this.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Terry Pratchett and I agree. Guess I better get started reading that Discworld series. My Dad has read them all and given most of them to me. ;-)

A Hermit said...

"Everyone is seeking truth, but everyone want it on his own terms. The only answer is to keep saying the truth. If that means fighting against both sides, that's just the way it has to be."

Fair enough (and thanks for this post, by the way, it's the best thing I've seen from you in a long time...).

But as you keep pointing out, we atheists are a tiny minority in this world, and only a tiny minority of atheists take the extremist position (and none of them, that I'm aware of, are currently throwing bombs or forcing conversions at gunpoint... So I think the thing that puzzles some of us us why you spend so much time and effort fighting the nearly non-existent threat of atheist extremism and why in the course of all that effort you lash out so often and so strongly against those of us who are actually much closer to you on these issues than the fundies ever could be.)

J.L. Hinman said...

Thanks Hermit. I am really gratified. I am serious. You have a great question, why waste my time on the extremists?

Well, you notice I took down atheist watch. The reason I took it down was not because so many atheists kept making negative comments. Everytime an atheist made a negative comment the hit rate went up 50 hits. I could have kept that blog going and eventually gotten enough hits o make add sense pay off, had I felt like reducing my self to the level of a professional wrestler.

I came to realize that's what I had become. I was so focussed on the yammering, the anger, the galling statements that were so outregious that's all I could think about. I was becoming a crank or hack because of that. I was wasting time having p-ing contests. You get the picture. It's easy to get cought up on that. That's why I wont do message boards anymore, except my own.

from this point on this blog will be dedicated again to the positive and I just wont do the negative.

btw I have come to the conclusion that the negative sort of atheist troll extremist is fed by the nature of message boards and that has as much to do with it as anything. They are not that way because of atheism per se. Being an atheist in and of itself doesn't do anything. It's what you do with mind that determines where you go with it.

I don't you are an extremist and you are very welcome to comment on this blog.

J.L. Hinman said...

that should say "I don't think you are an extremist."

I need to get glasses.

A Hermit said...

"I don't (think) you are an extremist and you are very welcome to comment on this blog."

Thanks; I think I'll just lurk for now; between work, family and band I don't have the kind of time to do real serious commenting, and frankly I've been so badly stung by some of our past exchanges that I'm reluctant to dive in here again.

But I'm glad to see you taking a more positive approach, and if I feel I have something positive to contribute myself I'll try and do that.

Regards

Mark

A Hermit

J.L. Hinman said...

OK, thanks Mark