Friday, August 24, 2007

The Case Against Touchstone

Someone who goes by the moniker "Concerned Christian" (but who never posts anything except to defend Touchstone when he gets his wittle feewings hurt) has challenged me to document my assertion that T-Stone is a fraud and a liar when T-Stone claims to be a theist. Once more, I am forced to begin with an apology for having to state the obvious for readers who have actually spent the time to read T-Stone’s diatribes in the past.

By the way, it is not only my claim that T-Stone engages in such poor behavior. For instance, Phil Johnson writes:
And Touchstone: Although I have cautioned you repeatedly before, your comments continue to be overtly and unstintingly insulting, and you regularly impute the most sinister possible motives to me. Since you have never first bothered to e-mail me for "clarification" about anything I have said, and you haven't even acknowledged the inappropriateness of the accusation you made at the end of your first comment in this thread, you don't get to pretend to be morally outraged here. Moreover, since it's my blog, you don't get to use a taunting tone again unless you want to be consigned to the penalty box for a few months or possibly even permanently banned.
Now let us provide the history of all our interactions with T-Stone here on the T-Blog. Later, if needed, I will subject myself to more torture and parse through his words in a detailed manner. For now, the general gist and the links provided should be sufficient.

(By the way fellow T-Bloggers—I should mention that I want a 10% raise to recompense for the hassle of doing this post. I’ll put it on Patrick’s Visa for the moment, so you’ll need to work out the details with him later.)

Anyway, as near as I can recall, T-Stone’s first appearance as a commenter in the T-Blog combox was on November 14, 2006. Further note that his own blog, located at http://evangelutionist.com/blog1/, began in November 2006 too—in other words, at nearly exactly the same time as his first foray into the T-Blog combox. Coincidence? Who knows…

T-Stone’s first response is found in Divorced From Science, which was a response to Steve’s post Adam and Evolution. Interestingly enough, in the comments on T-Stone’s own blog (the Divorced From Science post), T-Stone wrote:
One major problem for Christians looking at this issue, though, is the implications of evolution even being *possibly* true. If a Chrisitian [I am merely copying and pasting comments, so all spelling/grammar errors will be in the original throughout – ed.] allows the possibility of evolutionary theory being valid, then major adjustments to many conventional Christian theological understandings have to be reworked, and I’m not just thinking about young earth creationism; it goes well beyond that.
Note that it is T-Stone himself who brings up the differences between his view and "conventional Christian theological understandings," and this on his very first post regarding the T-Bloggers.

In any case, Steve responded to T-Stone with The Evangelutionist, the title of which referred to T-Stone’s website. T-Stone responded with Steve Hays Takes Me To Task On Early Man, although this is basically just to inform both readers of his blog that he had left comments on Steve’s Evangelutionist post.

In any case, Steve responded with Unequal Bias (the section dealing with T-Stone’s arguments begins at the point where Steve writes "Moving along:"). Interestingly enough, this is the post where I first began to interact with T-Stone. At the time, I was not a member of Triablogue, and thus was posting under my own moniker, CalvinDude. Also interesting is to note that our original point of contention remains the same point of contention today (that is, T-Stone doesn’t understand the Scientific Method and confuses it with scientism).

In any case, Steve responded to T-Stone with "Mainstream Science", the name in quotes referring to a comment T-Stone made. Steve pointed out then what T-Stone modus operandi is: "Throughout his commentary the Evangelutionist will resort to the sophistical tactic of labeling as a substitute for argument." You’ll note he does the same thing to this day. Surely Solomon was correct when he said there is nothing new under the sun…

In the "Mainstream Science" comments, T-Stone seeks to establish his credentials as a Theistic Evolutionist (TE). It is important to note this because of the fact that later on, T-Stone doesn’t hesitate at all to criticize other TEs (most notably is T-Stones utter disdain for Michael Behe). In any case, in the "Mainstream Science" comments, T-Stone enters into a discussion with Scrape and in this post, he actually presents several arguments that make it look as if he really does believe in the Bible and that he really does believe in God. We will see a remarkable change once he is challenged, however.

Steve responded to T-Stone in his post The argument from authority. In this post, Steve notes: "Oh, and while we’re on the subject, I don’t see much evidence that you’re ‘committed to the authority of the Bible as God’s special revelation to man.’" (Note that this is still November 2006, specifically it is now November 18, 2006.) Already, you can see that questions about T-Stone’s claims to believe in the Bible have been raised—in essence, the challenge has been offered to T-Stone to document how his position stands up to Biblical theism. Further, note Steve’s complaint:

To repeat myself— which, unfortunately, I have to do a lot of the time in responding to you because you raise the same objections ad nauseum as if I hadn’t already addressed your objections—when I raise questions about ice core dating as a relative dating technique, I referred to *secular* sources of information regarding the vicissitudes of ice core dating.
Note also that Steve points out here:

If theistic evolution doesn’t treat God as a factor in the evolutionary process, then the cash-value of theistic evolution is indistinguishable from naturalistic evolution. As such, the role of God is relegated to a deus otiosus.
It is also interesting to read T-Stone’s response—it begins by mocking the Grammatico-historical method of exegesis:

Grammatico-historical exegesis. Steve, it's the "historical" part of grammatico-historical exegesis that wreaks havoc with YEC interpretations. If we look at literary forms and devices, then work in our historical knowledge -- WHOOPS! that's where the YEC train jumps the tracks, as the overwhelming witness of God's creation paints a picture that invalidates a YEC view as sound grammatico-historical exegesis.
Now while this alone would not validate my claims that T-Stone is not a theist, let alone a Christian, it does show us the beginnings of the pattern of behavior that T-Stone will engage in. Already (just four days into interaction), T-Stone has set up two competing realms of belief: science and theology. With this statement, he demonstrates that his views on science will overrule the Bible every step of the way. His dogma is his version (warped as it is) of the scientific method, and nothing the Bible says matters in that regard. Again, this can be explained by theological liberalism too and is not indicative by itself of T-Stone’s false profession of faith which is why at this point in time I took him at his word.

Thus we continue. Steve responded to T-Stone’s claims with his post Dodging the bullet. The first thing Steve does is point out the errors in T-Blogs understanding of the GHM.

Also of particular interest in this are Steve’s comments:

Yet again, you’re unable to keep track of your own argument. I didn’t volunteer this material.

Remember what you said? I always have to remind you of what you said because you have a habit of forgetting what you said from one post to the next. Here it is again:

"Science is agnostic with regards to metaphysics. It doesn't affirm the existence of God. It doesn't deny the existence of God. If you doubt this, then I'd ask you to produce some scholarly work that suggests that science includes any assertions, or even guesses about metaphysical truths."

So that’s exactly what I did, in compliance with a very specific request from you.

But when I do as you ask, you’re reaction is to engage in evasive maneuvers.
Again, we see the same behavior that T-Stone has always exhibited, his constant gelatinous flow from comment to comment, his utter disconnection to the reality of what has preceded.

Also interesting is Steve’s comment:

Is this a sincere question? Are you genuinely interested in my answer?

Or do you plan to automatically dismiss any answer I give unless I blindly submit to every sentence in the article?
It is important to note that the reason Steve had to make this comment was due to T-Stone’s continual evasions. Those interested in historical "firsts" may note that this was the first time that T-Stone referred to a Google search: "I now understand you are fully capable of doing a Google search for 'metrical conventionalism'."

T-Stone responded as foreseen, prompting Steve to post Sneak-n-retreat. In this post, Steve pointed out:

You have a habit, throughout this thread, of making claims, which I challenge, which you then back away from, complaining about the irrelevance of the issue you yourself chose to raise, to which I merely responded.
T-Stones comments resulted in Steve’s post: Backwards reasoning followed by To be or not to be. At this point, Patrick Chan joined the conversation (which up until that point had primarily been between Steve and T-Stone).

In any case, following responses from T-Stone, Steve wrote The faith of an Evangelutionist. In this, Steve offers an examination of T-Stone’s beliefs:

The conundrum facing the Evangelutionist is that he is a man who suffers from divided intellectual commitments. On the one hand, he finds the case for evolution to be convincing.

On the other hand, he wants to cling to some semblance of Christian orthodoxy. And theistic evolution is the only mediating position available to him.

The best explanation I can offer for his systematic inability or unwillingness to accurately reproduce the opposing position—whether it’s YEC, or OEC, or ID—is that if he allowed himself to even acknowledge the opposing position, that would place unbearable pressure on the rickety compromise of theistic evolution.

So his only refuge is to repeatedly caricature the opposing position, or ignore the repeated answers to the questions he asked, or ignore repeated distinctions, or demand "more."
By the way, of Steve’s posts regarding T-Stone, this is the first one that T-Stone did not respond to. It’s probably because Steve also posted Double-tongued theistic evolution which demonstrated in T-Stone’s own words how T-Stone was playing both sides of the field (it’s a very revealing post and I recommend to all involved that they read this one again).

In any case, one of T-Stone’s arguments involved the apparent age of the universe, thus prompting Steve’s response, Apparent age. After T-Stone "responded", Steve noted:

I must say that in all the interactive blogging I've been involved in, the Evangelutionist has the unique distinction of being the only person I've dealt with who never misses a chance to miss the target. He's infallibly fallible in his inerrantly errant ability to misconstrue whatever his opponent said.



All you have are a set of prepared answers. When you come up against an opponent whose arguments are new to you, you're lost. Totally lost. Without map or compass on the open sea.
Better words to describe T-Stone’s normal methodology have yet to be penned! Interestingly enough, in the comments on this post we have an anonymous poster who wrote:

Steve,

Easy buddy, you sound as if you are about to blow your top! It's hard standing up for something (6 literal day creation or YEC) when even the majority of conservative Reformed seminaries aren't even teaching it anymore. You are truly a dying bread, Steve, but your demeanor is what really worries me. As a Christian, your not supposed to resort to name calling and insults.
This individual then quotes 1 Peter 3:15-16 and 2 Timothy 2:24 before ignoring his interpretation of them completely by saying:

That's just not very professional, oh, I forgot, your not a professional at all, you like pasting these huge theological commentaries and articles that you think support your view, as if quantity=truth. Remember, though, this post started off dealing with science, not theology. You do claim correctly that you seek to prove your point by philosophy, well Steve, that's a one way street going nowhere. It doesn't explain flap doodle, but only presents your presuppositions.

Basically Steve, I find it a waste of time to read or participate in debates with you. Your mind is made up, and no matter what, you will twist everything you can to fit your position. If the evidence doesn't fit your position, then the evidence is just wrong and that's it. After that, there is really no point in continuing the debate.

Not that it matters to you, but I will no longer come to this site. I just about find myself stooping to your level whenever I do, and I refuse to be a part of that. Oh,

God Bless.
I suspect that this anonymous individual may be none other than "Concerned Christian" rising in defense of T-Stone for the first time on November 21, 2006.

In any case, back in the comments on "Double-tongued theistic evolution", T-Stone argued with Patrick Chan that Genesis is ahistorical. This prompted a response with the following posts too:

The days of creation, written by Gerhard F. Hasel and including 123 footnotes with it. This was followed by Biblical chronology, which was some quotes from liberal James Barr. And finally Patrick Chan’s post, An argument for Genesis as historical narrative. This post was actually just a reposting of comments that Patrick had made with T-Stone before.

Steve responded once more with Mystical dreamers, which is actually a response to quotes from the "Apparent age" post. Then, due to the responses on the various Genesis posts, Steve wrote Shop talk, stating:

When a theistic evolutionist simultaneously claims to honor the authority of Scripture while, at the very same time, allegorizing Scripture whenever it comes into conflict with the scientific establishment, then it’s entirely legitimate to discuss the correct interpretation of Gen 1-3 or whatever else is on the table.
This is important because of the dealings with T-Stone up to that time. T-Stone had claimed to be a believer, yet he was treating the basis of his belief as a lump of clay he could mould. This statement by Steve on November 22, 2006 began a sort of turning point. Up until that moment, the issues of evolution had been discussed in the main, but now more and more questions regarding T-Stone’s belief in the Bible were coming into play.

Patrick Chan continued this line when he posted Picking and choosing. Patrick concluded with:

To be honest, at this point it seems to me like you're picking and choosing when to allegorize and when not to based on whether it fits with the theory of evolution. The common denominator in your Biblical interpretation seems to be the theory of evolution; the Biblical text is thus rendered malleable to the theory of evolution while the theory of evolution is a fixed, unchangeable constant. But as a professing Christian shouldn't it be the reverse? Shouldn't the Bible be the final arbiter of truth?
After T-Stone’s attempts to dance around the issue, Gene Bridges weighed in, noting that T-Stone had not done any of the prerequisite exegetical work to come to a conclusion that Genesis 1-3 was allegorical. Gene’s comments are especially relevant as they deal specifically with what must be done by someone who wishes to maintain his theistic credibility.

After T-Stone responded, it’s interesting to note how the atheists responded:

(applause)

Touchstone, you are really putting these neanderthals in their place.

This is the most telling moment in your post above...

"So my rationale for my "higher criticism" is this: YEC theology is cyanide for the spread of the Gospel. It’s Dawkins most powerful asset. He’s got nothing, nothing close to the powerful argument he has in merely pointing reasonable, honest folk at guys like Steve, and you, from what you’ve said here."


These guys, with their dogma, their cultish 'covenant' pronouncements, their ad hominems, smug demeaners, and silly sola scripture commitments, absolutely create a chasm between rationality and their worldview. This drives all but other members of their cult, the easily impressionable, and people looking for a hate group to join running for the door.
And:

touchstone....excellent.


steve....SNIZZZ!!!
(This last one was especially wonderful since the original post was written by Patrick and only Patrick and Gene had responded in the comments—Steve had nothing to do with anything there!)

In any case, Steve responded with Touchstone or Wishbone? In this post, he concluded with the statement "You’re a professing Christian on Sundays, but an honorary atheist on Mondays." As you can see, the interaction with T-Stone has, by November 22 (just eight days after T-Stone first began to comment) already lead more than one person to point out where T-Stone’s thinking goes. Of course, Steve doesn’t actually say T-Stone is an atheist here. But there is obviously something about T-Stone that leads one to wonder…

Likewise, Steve continued with Mediating theologians where he compared T-Stone’s theological positions to the path of apostasy.

Patrick then responded with Fern-seed and evangelutionists. One interesting comment Patrick made was:

It seems that you have a proclivity for putting words into the mouths of others or attributing to them positions they have never clearly defined themselves.
Oh, if only I had read more clearly these posts before I started to engage with T-Stone myself…

In any case, Steve responded to T-Stone in Pander Bear meets Groucho Marx and "Cosmic" trees. Here Steve engages yet again with T-Stone’s hermeneutical methodology, or rather the lack thereof.

Now at this time, Paul Manata wrote Pretty Clearly, Christianity is True. In this post, he took exapologist to task. In the process, since exapologist resorted to ad hominem, Paul retorted in a reductio ad absurdum. T-Stone decided to weigh in on the post, and shock of all shocks did so by attacking Paul Manata’s reductio ad hominem instead of exapologist.

Moving on, Patrick wrote Smoke and mirrors which responded to T-Stone’s previous comments on Patrick’s previous post. Patrick was dealing with T-Stone’s allegorical understanding of Genesis.

Steve once more provided evidence for T-Stone’s duplicity in his post The two faces of Touchstone. Interestingly, in this post T-Stone first gives us his touchy-feely version of apologetics. We’ll come back to it in a later post.

In any case, since there had been so much criticism by Concerned Chri—I mean, the anonymous poser, Steve wrote False teachers to examine some of those claims. Note that in all these instances, it was once again people playing the heartstrings to poor, suffering T-Stone. This is why Steve’s comment, after quoting the vicious statements T-Stone had made about YECers, was so appropriate:

So don’t rewrite the history of the thread and cast the Evangelutionist in the role of the lamblike victim of an unprovoked attack. He initiated the attack on YEC.

There was nothing in my original post on "Adam and evolution" that couldn’t be written by an OEC.

He chose to turn this into a debate over YEC, and he uses a number of choice words to characterize the ramifications of that position: "It’s a ‘flat earth’ or geocentric astronomy equivalent"; "It scoffs at God’s Word"; "cyanide…a cynical hoax…and a lie."
Again, T-Stone shifts the debate into a personal attack against Paul Manata in the comments. This resulted in Paul writing Gird Up Thy Loins Like A Man, which T-Stone immediately responded to by calling Manata unregenerate:

You're thinking everyone's offended. I don't see that as the case. I'm not offended. Instead, I think your tone and style says "unregenerated" even as you paste bible passages and other people's quotes in with your commentary.
So clearly, T-Stone was the first to bring up the unsaved aspect to the debate, when he accused Paul’s style (but later insisted not Paul himself) of being unregenerate. Somehow, Concerned Christian missed all this…

And thus far we’ve only gone through the first two weeks of interaction that T-Stone had on T-Blog.

Steve’s next post that mentioned T-Stone was The "immanent" return of Christ. Here it was a somewhat satirical use of T-Stone’s support of exapologist against both of them at the same time.

About the only good that came from this is the shift moved away from T-Stone for the next several posts. Then, Evan May posted a response to DagoodS’s post about Job’s miserable comforters entitled: Miserable Comforters. In the comments on this post, T-Stone opined:

I see a lot of parallels between the "miserable comforters" in Job and conservative evangelical theodicy. You sort of make fun of how stupid these guys are for thinking that Job's suffering is related to sin.
Again, we can see T-Stone’s disapproval of "conservative evangelical" beliefs, this time when it comes to theodicy. Patrick later responded to T-Stone in this same post, although T-Stone did not respond to that and it is very possible that he missed the response, buried as it was in the midst of all the atheists responding to Evan.

Later, the threads moved on to the subject of religious experience. Steve wrote a post entitled The varieties of religious experience. Once again, T-Stone displayed where his loyalties lied (er, lay, I meant lay) by immediately attacking Steve:

I get the distinct impression now after reading a lot of your posts that you use technical/philosophical language to obscure your arguments. I don't know whether that's a conscious choice or not, but this post is a good example of needlessly ornate forms getting in the way of an idea.
So now we have seen that in posts not dealing with evolution, T-Stone has immediately taken the stand with the atheists and against both Steve and Paul, and he tried to do so with Evan too (although Evan avoided it easily enough by pointing out that T-Stone’s statements had nothing to do with what Evan had posted in the Miserable Comforters post).

In any case, Steve responded to T-Stone’s personal attack with "Distinct impressions":

I get the distinct impression now after reading a lot of your comments that you use impressionistic language to obscure your poverty of arguments. I don't know whether that's a conscious choice or not, but this comment is a good example of needlessly impressionistic verbiage getting in the way of an idea.
More importantly, Steve diagnoses the problem: "What the Evangelutionist is really attempting to do is to play both sides of the fence. He is raising an intellectual objection to my position, but he’s also retreating into an anti-intellectual bunker." This is indeed the common thread to all T-Stone’s comments so far.

What is really interesting about this particular post is that now T-Stone defends Mormonism. Indeed, he argues that there is no way for a Christian to say that a Mormon’s religious experience is actually false. So now we have T-Stone not only defending atheists, but he’s defending Mormons as well. We are glad he can follow his ABCs—Anything But Christianity should be defended! By the way, Patrick also noted in the comments on this post that T-Stone was taking the position of the atheist, so it was not just my observation.

Steve responded to T-Stone’s complaints with Knowledge by acquaintance. Interestingly, when Paul Manata asked T-Stone point-blank whether he believed Mormons were saved (since he was defending Mormons and all), T-Stone responded with:

For the record, I don't claim to know if Mormons are saved or not. I don't know enough, and am not an authority on the subject. I love and respect my Mormon friends, even though I think they are seriously mistaken on many issues. My Mormon friends think I'm similarly mistaken, and love me right back, all the same. We are on equal footing in that regard.
In any case, this is the point where I finally entered the fray on a consistent basis (my previous comments being fairly limited). After using a reductio against T-Stone, I pointed out that his subjectivism was a fatal flaw to his belief. T-Stone challenged my assessment, but I think everything I said in response still stands to this day. T-Stone would do well to read this section, IMO. (I would ask him to re-read it, but he has difficulties with reading something the first time through so the "re" wouldn't apply.)

T-Stone’s subjectivism also resulted in Steve penning It’s all relative—relatively speaking. Steve then responded to Jon Curry with his post Unreasonable reasons. In the comments, Curry responded by stating:

I think Touchstone is right. The more a person brags about how he's refuted all of his opponents the more he demonstrates that he really doesn't understand what he's talking about. You are locked in a world where everyone is answered. Everyone is stupid but you. Not just skeptics, but even old earth Christians, Arminians, theistic evolutionists, and pre-millenialists. You simply do not internalize and truly comprehend the views of your opponents.
It’s quite something to see who endorses T-Stone and who T-Stone will defend, isn’t it?

In any case, Patrick responded with a satirical post about T-Stone’s defense of Mormonism and his assertion of subjective truth in A generous heterodoxy. And with that post….

We finally leave November. Thus, from November 14 – November 30, T-Stone managed to attack conservative theology, the Grammatico-Historical Method, and the idea of objective truth; he defended atheists on at least two different occasions, as well as defending Mormons; he attacked Steve, Paul, and tried to attack Evan; he was defended by John Loftus, exapologist, and Jon Curry; and the anonymous poser who always manages to show up whenever T-Stone gets offended made his first appearance. Not too shabby for half a month.

Let’s move on. The first post for December 1, 2006 was Steve’s post entitled: Insiders & outsiders, wherein Steve examined T-Stone’s inability to understand an internal critique. Steve then posted The Hermetic Order of the T-Blog wherein Patrick Chan was ushered in as a T-Blogger. Ironically, one of my comments was: "The Latin imprecations are why I'll never be a T-blogger...." Hey, I can admit I was wrong there. All my imprecations were in Greek.

Anyway, Steve also posted Something from nothing? which has uncanny relevance to my most recent post. Steve’s post was not about T-Stone; he was dealing with an e-mail correspondent.

Nevertheless, T-Stone commented and once again tried to take Steve to task. This time, I pointed out that T-Stone was working with a flawed understanding of science (since he was trying to assert his scientism without any kind of philosophical underpinning). Ironically, T-Stone responded to my comment by stating: "I think you *do* understand Hawking, then. Thank you." I think this is the only time T-Stone has ever agreed with me. Of course, I wasn’t a T-Blogger back then, and he tried to use his faulty understanding of my comment against Steve, so we have to consider that.

In any case, our discussion was deeply involved with the idea of scientific positivism, scientific control philosophy, and the like. I highly encourage everyone to read it to get a flavor for how the original discussion between us went.

In any case, Steve’s response was found in his new post, "It could be right". T-Stone never responded to these comments. Instead, when Steve posted The joy of rape, robbery, murder, and mayhem in response to a Debunking Christianity blog article, T-Stone weighed in…once again on the side of the atheists. Indeed, T-Stone defended the moral virtue of atheists quite virulently in this post, attacking myself, Paul, and Steve continuously. By the way, T-Stone’s comment prompted Charlie Sebold to state:

I know this is going back a bit, but if there is anything that Touchstone has said to demonstrate that he is "out of touch" with Christianity, it would be this question. Meriting grace? That's like asking a parent to list the hours that his child worked to merit a Christmas present.
My response to that quote was to state:

Thus far, Touchstone has given me absolutely no reason to believe he is a Christian. I have more reason to believe he is an atheist pretending to be a Christian. He spouts atheist arguments on every single issue, and thus far has demonstrated no ability to grasp basic Christian concepts.

Sorry if I don't buy the whole: If it looks like a goat, sounds like a goat, eats trash like a goat, but says it's a sheep, then we must believe it's a sheep. So until Touchstone can show me evidence that he actually believes the Gospel (a good way to start demonstrating this would be if he stopped attacking it), I'm going to label him as a non-Christian.
Needless to say, Steve’s post generated a lot of controversy. It continued in his next post, addressing T-Stone’s claims, entitled: Debate-stoppers. Once more, T-Stone attacks me in the comment section on that post as I demonstrate atheists have no basis for morality and T-Stone just can’t help but defend atheists.

Continuing in the same theme of morality, Steve wrote Morality & criminality. Then Steve wrote The faith of a militant fideist. His finishing paragraph is quite germane:

One wonders where you [T-Stone] will be 5 or 10 years from now. Given your abusive treatment of someone as customarily charitable as Calvindude, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if your current position isn’t a transitional phase on the way to atheism or agnosticism.
I quote this not for the comment about myself (which Concerned Christian, T-Stone, and other atheists will reject anyway, cuz...well, Steve said it so who needs a reason?), but for the fact that Steve is also observing T-Stone’s trend toward atheism as well.

Of course, at this point Daniel Morgan weighed in saying that in his opinion I had been rude to T-Stone from the start, but mysteriously couldn’t provide evidence for this when I asked him to demonstrate it. I also pointed out in those comments:

As to accusing him of being an unbeliever, I still do. He's given me no reason to change my mind on that issue. As far as I can tell, Touchstone is gonna get up to heaven and say, "Lord, Lord, didn't I do all this awesome equivocating and fuzzy feel-good sessions with atheism in your name?" And Jesus will say, "Depart from me, I never knew you."
These comments also illustrate the complete inability of T-Stone to grasp presuppositionalism, but that’s another story.

Steve then wrote Bread & circuses, after which T-Stone bowed out of the morality thread. Steve continued with It’s all subjective—subjectively speaking and Abstract objects & Abstract universals.

After this, Steve wrote a critique of Richard Dawkins: Richard Dawkins: Man of Faith. To no one’s surprise, it is to be noted that T-Stone immediately rushed to Dawkin’s defense. I mean, that’s obviously the "Christian" thing to do—defend the guy who wrote The God Delusion. I’m sure God felt honored.

In any case, this resulted in Steve’s: Touchstone’s broken record. T-Stone didn’t respond to this.

What he did respond to was Steve’s later post: "I’m the ultimate arbiter!" which was a response to Jonathan Prejean, a Roman Catholic. As was par for the course, T-Stone took the position of…Prejean. In the process, he attacked not only Steve but Eric Svendsen as well. He would later accuse Gene of being a hypocrite (but of course no anonymous Concerned Christians popped up to critique T-Stone then…how amazingly odd).

Here T-Stone attacks sola Scriptura, stating:

I don't know Mr. Prejean might state things any more clearly. Here and in his blog he has supplied his reasons that a sola scriptura starting point makes an exegetical exercise completely pointless for him. Both Mssrs. Hays and Svendsen appear (reading back to exhanges from 2005 between Svendsen and Prejean) to be unable to think outside their own presuppostions.
This resulted in Prejean stating:

Touchstone:
I'm glad to see that someone here knows the score. I'm sure we have some major disagreements, but we're at least on the same planet.

Again, T-Stone always manages to garner such loving endorsements, doesn’t he?

In the same comments, T-Stone claimed:

Mr. Svendsen, I'm a Protestant, and on the whole I think I would reject Mr. Prejean's thesis. Your attitude in your above comments bring shame on your faith. If this is what your theology produces, it's not worth very much, is it?
While we could point out the ad hominem, let it suffice to point out that T-Stone’s claim to be a Protestant comes in the exact same thread he defends a Roman Catholic e-pologist, just as his claims to being a theist come in the exact same threads he defends atheists. Were it not for his claims to be either theist or Protestant, there would be no way to differentiate T-Stone from atheists or non-Protestants.

In any case, this resulted in an anonymous poster by the handle John Paul II stating:

Ooooh, a stinging indictment from someone who wants to call himself a Protestant but denies most of the tenants of Protestantism. It seems to me Touchstone will align himself with anyone who disagrees with the T-bloggers.
Patrick also chimed in:

Hm, I agree, it is pretty weird how often Touchstone seems more than willing, and at times even going out of his way, to disagree with what Steve says, for example. But maybe that's because one of his presuppositions is nothing on this weblog could possibly be right. Which stands right next to everything Paul says is mean. And evolution is true ipso facto. And a few others.
This is, indeed, the methodology that T-Stone has resorted to. In fact, Patrick’s later characterization needs no further elaboration:

Generally speaking, the problem is as follows:

1. Touchstone brings up certain arguments against a position.

2. Steve, for example, shows him how his arguments are incorrect.

3. Touchstone then resorts to tactics rather than argumentation. These tactics include personal attacks (such as against some of the T-bloggers), poisoning the well (such as by implying that YECs are hardly different from flat earthers before hearing out the argumentation), hasty generalizations (such as by attributing YEC to those who do not find evolutionary theory compelling), and shifting the burden of proof (such as when he wanted me to come up with an heuristic for allegorical myth by which to read Genesis when I never made the argument that Genesis should be read as allegorical myth in the first place). And several others.

4. Steve shows him that he's resorting to debating tactics rather than honest argumentation.

5. Touchstone proceeds to impute vague ambiguities to Steve. Such as he (and the other T-bloggers) can't think outside his own box. Yet without ever specifying the particularities he has in mind in such a broad-brushed statement. For instance, what "paradigm" does he believe we, the T-bloggers, are working with in Steve's exchange with Prejean?

6. And/or, alternately, Touchstone begins to play the victimization card. He'll cite how mean and unfair the T-bloggers have been to him, with the implication that he is the victim of their verbal abuse. He'll make an emotional appeal for "understanding" and "sympathy," because, after all, when it's all said and done, it's not about winning or losing (truth or falsehood?), but it's about "getting along well with others." Of course, I don't disagree with the sentiment to be respectful and courteous in discussion and debate -- although that's not exactly what Touchstone has in mind -- but I do find it odd in light of the fact that Touchstone has been at least as harsh towards those with whom he disagrees.
All this was stated by December 22, 2006. Nothing much has changed in T-Stone’s tactics.

Steve’s next post was entitled Common design, in which he critiqued T-Stone’s blog entry. In this post, Steve points out:

Notice how t-stone, who poses as a Christian, never takes into consideration the possibility that there are times when, in fact, "Goddidit" is the correct answer. He's a functional atheist.

He doesn't ask, "What is true?" but only "What is scientific?"

He'd rather believe something that's "scientific," but false over something that's true, but "unscientific."
T-Stone and I go back and forth a bit on the concept of Natural Selection as a tautology here too, well worth looking at.

Steve then wrote Richard Squawkins. The next post related to T-Stone occurred when Patrick wrote Theistic devolution. T-Stone responded on his own blog. This lead to Patrick’s response, Imposing upon the text and Picking up the pieces.

In the meantime, Steve wrote "A carefully crafted illusion" which T-Stone comment on, leading to Caponizing physics. This, in turn, lead to To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven, wherein Steve dealt with many objections from various posts. And that brings us up to the end of 2006.

Amazingly, T-Stone was blessedly silent until January 11. At that point, Paul Manata wrote Atheist Eschatology and the False Prophets. Once again, T-Stone went out of his way to criticize the atheists.

Just kidding. He ripped Paul again, as you knew he would. After he was finished, T-Stone fell silent. Until Steve wrote Sunday school atheism against John Loftus. If those ignorant of T-Stone can sense the trend—he defended Loftus. Thus, Loftus responded:

Touchstone and David; You two are the voices of Christian reason, and it's a real joy to read what you write. I won't engage you here. You two don't belong here. You are both a cut above the rest. Excellent arguments! Kudos.
Yes, that ringing endorsement from the guy who owns Debunking Christianity surely must swell God’s heart with pride for what T-Stone has accomplished.

I pointed out in the post that T-Stone’s argument relies on his complete subjectivism, a point we will return to later. When Patrick chimed in, he pointed out:

Before I address this, and as has been noted before, it is striking how often Touchstone takes the opportunity to misrepresent and/or argue against Biblical Christianity.

And although he's been corrected on several accounts by Steve, CalvinDude, and others, it just doesn't get through for some reason. Not sure if it's because he's intellectually incapable of following an argument or if it's because he'd rather be unfair than to concede he's wrong? Both?
In any case, after this T-Stone dropped off the map for a while again. He didn’t even respond to Steve’s post, Arguments for evolution (February 4, 2007) unless he did so anonymously. The next major event in our discussion here occurred on February 17, when I became an official T-Blogger. Still nothing was heard from T-Stone. He didn’t even comment on my own Stephen Jay Gould’s Consilience Argument post of March 2, 2007.

In fact, T-Stone’s next comments would not appear until April 8. Then, in response to Paul Manata’s Would You Chuck The Bad Arguments? he, as usual, goes after Paul Manata instead of the atheists that Paul was critiquing. (Would you expect any less?) Included in the critique was John Loftus, who once again had nothing but a glowing report about T-Stone: "Who are you, Touchstone, to be so reasonable? Wow. You amaze me, even if we disagree."

Yeah, utterly amazing that T-Stone, after vanishing for three months, would return to defend an atheist. Who woulda seen that one coming?

In any case, at this point T-Stone engaged not only with Paul but also with Jason Engwer, meaning thus far Steve, Patrick, Paul, Jason, Evan, Gene, and myself had all dealt with T-Stone at some point or another.

On April 11, I then posted A Question of Logic which was met with T-Stone’s brilliant response: "How about letting sik90 and others know you are just recapitulating the TAG here (the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God, which, of course, is paired with the TANG (the Transcendental Argument for the Non-existence of God." It should be noted that once again, T-Stone took the side of the atheists in a discussion, thus my response: "How about you letting everyone know you're not really a theist, T-stone? Seriously, is there any issue that you won't take the atheist's side on? I certainly haven't found one yet."

And I should note having now gone through the archives, I STILL haven’t found an issue that T-Stone commented on where he actually agreed with any argument a T-Blogger put forth.

In any case, in this post T-Stone offered the gem defense that: "It doesn't follow if you exist-not-exist in a state that defies the Law of Non-contradiction." Yes, just take everything you know about logic and chuck it out the window there.

In any case, by this point given the weight of all the above evidence, I issued An Open Challenge to Touchstone:

T-stone, I challenge you to present a positive argument for the existence of the God you claim to believe in. If you've already done so on a different site, feel free to provide a link; otherwise, please comment below.
In any case, T-Stone did reply. He gave a…well, it was an "answer" I guess. Read it for yourself, as there is no way that I could summarize it here. In any case, as I pointed out then:
However, I have to say that when I read what you wrote here and compare it to the arguments you've presented against Steve, Paul, and myself, I find glaring inconsistency. In other words, your arguments against Christian apologists in no way reflect your claim that "the Bible represents both a plausible history and a compelling love story", for instance. Instead, I find you dismissing whatever the Bible says in every instance.
Paul also weighed in here. The net result was Paul wrote Touchstone’s Pickle, illustrating the logical problems that T-Stone had fallen into. Here, Manata showed explicit contradictions in T-Stone’s own beliefs (which should come as no surprise, given the past posts Steve wrote on T-Stone’s duplicity).

After this, T-Stone once again faded away until May 10. Then, in response to my post Thoughts on Modern Evangelicalism, T-Stone returned with a completely ad hominem attack against me. After an anonymous poster quoted Scripture to him, T-Stone mocked:

There you go -- Psalm 119 as the rebuttal of the post-modern epistemology. Wisdom literature as the refutation of the geological strata.

It's this kind of holier-than-thou pretense that has Evangelicals wondering "Hey, what's happening?"
Yeah, that’s the sound of the Bible believer for you.

In any case, this post also began T-Stone’s decent into another anti sola scriptura rant, where he claimed "orthodoxy" was linked to the Apostle’s Creed instead of Scripture. The result of this would be that soon T-Stone would be arguing on behalf of Orthodox too.

Anyway, in response to T-Stone here, Steve wrote The real me, which was a satirical response that garnered T-Stone’s comment: "Well, what can I say? Surely, this is one of your best posts, ever!" Of more substance was Patrick’s response, A disingenuous orthodoxy.

In those comments, T-Stone asserts Orthodoxy is affirming four creeds: the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Confession of Chalcedon, and the Athanasian Creed. In this post T-Stone also states: "A trivial Google search or two should provide more than you need to convince yourself this is not a controversial view of creeds or orthodoxy" (which is exactly how he came up with the list, IMO).

In any case, this continued with Patrick’s post, A few questions for Touchstone. In this post, T-Stone’s responses alternated between his subjectivism and a Catholic Answers tract.

Steve then posted Arkeology 101, which T-Stone (obviously) immediately had problems with. This despite the fact that Steve argued, via the GHM, for a localized flood. T-Stone didn’t even grasp this, and instead went flailing away at Steve, assuming Steve was holding to typical YEC views.

Dusman then wrote A Friendly Critique of the Cameron and Comfort vs. Rational Responders Debate Part I to which T-Stone replied, "Ugh. Really, this is more disastrous than Cameron and Comfort at their worst." He then proceeds to attack presuppositionalism, which he obviously detests—yet he can never form arguments against it (indeed, he cannot even accurately represent it). Read the comments and see for yourself.

As a result of his attitude, Patrick wrote Sola Touchstonia, after which I wrote The Radical Skeptic.

T-Stone responded by giving a statement with every sentence beginning with "[I subjectively hold that]", and later gave a "cleaned up version" for "those that aren’t hung up on the ‘objectivity’ thing." Which only demonstrated that T-Stone is a radical skeptic like I claimed.

After this, I wrote Touchstone’s Subjective Objective in Being Objectively Subjective, which further critiqued T-Stone’s radical skepticism when it comes to epistemology.

After this, Dusman wrote Responding to e-Hecklers. In his comments on that post, T-Stone assures us:

I'm not an atheist, but having debated them at length many times over many years, I can give you a rendering of the argument.
Yeah...

In any case, with T-Stone commenting the discussion quickly went downhill. Read for yourself his continual logical blunders.

Next up, Steve wrote Townes on ID theory, which T-Stone actually said was a good article (Townes’ article, not Steve’s blog post) before saying: "It's unfortunate that ‘Intelligent Design’ has been co-opted as a synonym for ‘anti-evolution’."

This, however, is nothing of the case. In fact, Michael Behe is an ID and a TE…and T-Stone still despises him. What are we to think of that?

Patrick next wrote A failure to miscommunicate, which T-Stone never responded to. T-Stone was, in fact, very quiet until I wrote On The Debunker’s Bigotry and Hatred.

This was a rather special post, seeing as how it was merely a direct quote of Joe Holman from the Debunker’s site with the subjects changed from theists to Debunkers. T-Stone, of course, missed this and immediately attacked me for posting it. In this case, I didn’t have much of a problem with his attack per se—after all, my post was done deliberately to demonstrate the fallacy of Holman. But despite the fact that I even told T-Stone that he’d been punk’d by the post, he persisted in making a fool of himself, and even attacked sola fide in the process.

In any case, I let T-Stone know the details with He Done Got Punk’d! Mathetes provided a brilliant comment right off the bat: "Apparently Touchstone believes the case for atheism is so strong that it necessitates his rushing in to rescue it every time it comes under attack."
And this also provides us with my favorite John Loftus quote:

Peter, in my opinion you misled Touchstone, and other potential readers. Knowing his ability to understand what someone writes, his was almost certainly an honest mistake. I personally have not read through what you wrote, but I have a strong hunch Touchstone was misled because you didn't provide the proper clues to understand what your intent was. I guess we all do that from time to time. But you share the blame.
In any case, on June 3, Steve and I co-wrote YEC & Flood Geology. T-Stone, naturally, was not pleased, as you can determine by reading the comments yourself. Part of T-Stone’s tactic was to say Steve wasn’t peer reviewed. As a result, Steve responded with Peer review. Additionally, T-Stone claimed I didn’t understand the scientific method, so I wrote Falsifying Touchstone.

After the comments on those two blog posts, Paul Manta offered Josh McTouchstone’s Evidence Ad Infinitum That Demands A Verdict. Followed immediately after by Dumb and Dumberer. In these two posts, Paul systematically destroys T-Stone’s concepts of logic, but just to really settle it, Paul also gave us Evidentialism and Touchstone’s Evidentialism, Weighed and Found Wanting.

Meanwhile, Steve asked What’s an atheist?, which T-Stone responded to in his characteristically flawed philosophical manner. Due to this poor handling of philosophical data, I accused T-Stone of Intellectual Laziness, backed up with evidence showing T-Stone wasn’t even reading what he was responding to.

Paul then issued his own challenge: Challenge: Throwing Down The Guantlet. This satirical post was actually designed to show T-Stone’s many self-contradictory statements, and as you can read for yourself it worked perfectly.

I then provided The Touchstone Fossil, which demonstrated (as per Gee) the impossibility of inferring lineage from fossils. T-Stone’s comments in response serve to highlight his inability to read yet again.

Steve then posted Pining for Darwin, a review of Philip Kitcher’s book Living With Darwin. As per usual, T-Stone was quick to defend Kitcher, who was vigorously attacking Christianity with his book. Par for the course for T-Stone, naturally. As a result, Steve posted Truth By Stipulation, demonstrating T-Stone’s blindness here. Steve also wrote Instant apostate: just add water, looking at how T-Stone’s path is headed toward apostasy.

Steve also gave us a review of Ridley in "The Evidence for Evolution" and finally In Search of Evolution, a critique of Futuyma. The comments on those posts again demonstrate T-Stone complete lack of reading comprehension. Indeed, T-Stone simply begins with a "Witness the annihilation of science at the hands of the special creationist!" on the second post, and keeps digging from there. One of the things he emphasized was parsimony.

This lead to my posting The Entropy Paradox. This later lead to Unprobable Evolution (which was about Wonderful Life by Gould). The errors T-Stone made in those comments lead to I Apologize In Advance For This Post, which was a reposting of the original post but with my extra added logical analysis of the claims I made (since I perceived that T-Stone couldn’t grasp it). This lead to Concerned Christians first attempt to rebuke me (unless that was also him previously as anonymous). As further evidence to bolster my previous claims, I provided What Does An Unscientific Imbecile Know?

After this, I reviewed Stenger’s latest work in the post Stenger’s Failed Hypothesis, and T-Stone still had to respond in this, once again taking the side of the atheist.

This brings us finally to A Teapot In Space, which again T-Stone decided to take the side of the atheist on, and again Concerned Christian popped up to rebuke me (necessitating this post).

So, here we have it. I spent the last ten hours going through the archives to cull this material. I will provide more later, but since I stayed up all night to provide this to Concerned Christian I won’t do so now—I need to get some sleep (this is the benefit to currently being on vacation, and still being under 30 years old—I can stay up all night doing research and it won’t kill me).

But before I do that, allow me to summarize some points.

A) None of my statements are unique to me. When I doubt the validity of T-Stone’s profession of faith, I am not the only one who does so. I am probably the only one who speaks as definitively on it (that is, I’m probably the one with the least amount of "tact"), but others have brought up their doubts several times.

B) I am obviously not the person who has responded the most to T-Stone throughout his time here. Just in terms of posts posted, by my rough count Steve had 56.5 to my 16.5 (the 0.5 represents the post we co-wrote); further, Patrick wrote 12 posts, Paul wrote 10, and Dusman had 2. Evan (unintentionally caught up by T-Stone’s zeal) can be counted as having 1 relevant post here. That gives us 97 posts total that have dealt in some manner with T-Stone, or that T-Stone has responded on. Of course this doesn’t quantify the word count in the comments, but for the entire first three months I only said two things to T-Stone, so again there is no way that I was the most verbose in communicating with him.

C) Simply reading T-Stone’s comments demonstrates he is hardly "innocent" in this himself. He slings mud; he should expect to get it in return. As I said before, if you throw mud expect to get hosed.

D) T-Stone has disagreed with Steve, Paul, Jason, Patrick, Dusman, Charles, Evan, Gene, and me. We are not monolithic here. While we share many beliefs in common, we do not all agree 100% on even such issues as presuppositionalism or YEC (in fact, my own view allows for the possibility of non-Darwinian "theistic evolution" to a limited extent). Yet T-Stone has found reason to disagree with all of us. Further, he attacked Eric Svendsen and he has expressly placed himself against conservative Christianity (which would not mean he’s an atheist, but would call into question his Christianity), the validity of logic (which does make him irrational), and the ability of language to communicate (which makes him a hypocrite every time he writes anything).

E) On the other hand, T-Stone has argued on behalf of Jon Curry, John Loftus, Richard Dawkins, Victor Stenger, exapologist, Daniel Morgan, and interlocutor, evolutionists Kitcher, Ridley, et al.—not to mention providing Catholic Answers tracts and agreeing with Orthodox in an attack on sola scriptura, as well as denying sola fide, he defended Jonathan Prejean, and Mormonism in general.

F) T-Stone has, however, said he’s a Christian, specifically a General Conference Baptist.

G) Given D, E, and F, what reasonable person would conclude that T-Stone is a theist? What reasonable person would conclude that T-Stone is an atheist? What evidence has T-Stone given to determine which way we should choose on this? Does T-Stone’s mere statement that he believes in God counterweigh all the times he argues against theistic positions and all the times he bends over backwards for atheistic positions? I’ll let you be the judge.

Concerned Christian, you now have before you the entire list of every post that ever dealt with T-Stone, as well as all the posts that I could find that he commented on (there may be, I concede, one or two that I missed). Ignorance is no longer an excuse for you…if it ever really was one.

16 comments:

  1. Wow, it's like a Touchstone Commentary! I wonder if D.A. Carson or Douglas Moo will do a follow-up.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Quick question. If I were to consistently criticize certain skeptics (one comes to mind that consistently treats Christians in an exceptionally rude manner, and in my opinion makes skepticism repellant to open minded Christians) and in the process were to basically defend a lot of Christians against his rude behavior, would that mean I was in fact a Christian?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Obviously not, Jon.

    And I fully understand you're trying to make this equivalent to what T-Stone is doing. But this doesn't work here. In order for there to be equivalence, you'd have to change the question a bit:

    If I were to constantly criticize certain skeptics by not only defending a lot of Christians, but also defending Christian beliefs and attacking skeptical arguments, would that mean I was in fact a Christian?

    In this case, the fact that someone defends Christian beliefs in the process of criticizing the skeptics would lead one toward the belief that said individual is, indeed, a Christian--for why would a skeptic defend Christian beliefs?

    Perhaps that's not the best equivalence though. After all, for a skeptic who only lives for today and tomorrow is dead, arguing against his own beliefs may be some kind of diversion.

    But how can a Christian consistently argue against the beliefs of Christianity in any sort of consistent manner? Given the eternal aspect, such a person would have to be a very evil person indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Can we get back to dealing with Perry Robinson and Orthodox?

    Who cares about T-stone anyways?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous asked:
    ---
    Who cares about T-stone anyways?
    ---

    Well, I guess I do.

    I mean, sure he annoys me with his (willful) inability to read and his (intentional) creation of strawman arguments he claims you said.

    But if I didn't care about T-Stone, the first thing I'd do is say, "Right on! You go girl!" and pat him on the back and let him march off to Hell.

    I'd prefer that wasn't the end result.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Concerned Christian8/24/2007 5:05 PM

    Well I have now looked at Peter Pike’s 27- page brief: “The Case against Touchstone”. Pike has claimed that T-Stone is not a theist, not a Christian, an apostate. Has Pike substantiated any of his claims? NO.

    As to whether or not he is a theist, T-Stone’s comments clearly show him to be a theist. Just today he stated that he believes God has aseity, self-existence, is not caused to exist by anything outside Himself. T-Stone also argues for theistic evolution. Now you may argue against theistic evolution, but anyone knowing the position knows that **only** a theist affirms theistic evolution. No where does Pike present a clear and convincing case that T-Stone is not a theist.

    How about the issue of T-Stone being an apostate? An apostate begins by affirming orthodox Christianity and then renouncing it (e.g Heb. 6:4-8). Pike provides absolutely no evidence of T-Stone renouncing any essential Christian doctrine. Search through Pike’s 27 pages and you will find no references to any denial of beliefs such as the Trinity, the deity of Christ, salvation by faith alone, the virgin birth of Christ, and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. None of these essential doctrines are referred to anywhere in the brief as far as I could see. Nowhere is is shown that T-Stone denies any of these beliefs. Apostates will and do deny these kinds of beliefs.

    What you do find, over an over is evidence that T-Stone espouses theistic evolution. But affirming theistic evolution is not denying essential Christianity. B. B. Warfield held to theistic evolution and I know no one who would accuse him of being an apostate for holding this belief. Mistaken yes, but being an apostate No. What I also note throughout the 27 page brief is that what it seems to boil down to is a debate between Young earth creationists (the Triablogers) versus a theistic evolutionist (T-Stone). What also seems to come out is that both sides have been less than charitable towards the person(s) espousing the opposing view point.

    If this was a court case and the charges were that T-Stone is not a theist, is an apostate from the Christian faith, this case would be quickly and easily dismissed. The evidence that T-Stone is not a theist or is an apostate has not been presented in Pike’s 27 -page brief. Pike and some of the others may hate T-Stone, they may hate his theistic evolution, but they are not justified in declaring him to be a non-theist or apostate. Rather than engaging in the repeated personal attacks of T-Stone, why not merely present arguments against theistic evolution? It seems to me that this is where the discussion, if one is going to be carried out between the opposing parties (i.e., Triablogers and T-Stone), should be focused.

    Pike states his charge at the very beginning of his brief:

    “Someone who goes by the moniker "Concerned Christian" (but who never posts anything except to defend Touchstone when he gets his wittle feewings hurt) has challenged me to document my assertion that T-Stone is a fraud and a liar when T-Stone claims to be a theist.”

    T-Stone has not been shown to be a non-theist by anything presented in Pike’s 27 page brief.

    Pike concludes his brief with:

    “So, here we have it. I spent the last ten hours going through the archives to cull this material. I will provide more later, but since I stayed up all night to provide this to Concerned Christian I won’t do so now—I need to get some sleep (this is the benefit to currently being on vacation, and still being under 30 years old—I can stay up all night doing research and it won’t kill me).

    But before I do that, allow me to summarize some points.

    A) None of my statements are unique to me. When I doubt the validity of T-Stone’s profession of faith, I am not the only one who does so. I am probably the only one who speaks as definitively on it (that is, I’m probably the one with the least amount of "tact"), but others have brought up their doubts several times.

    B) I am obviously not the person who has responded the most to T-Stone throughout his time here. Just in terms of posts posted, by my rough count Steve had 56.5 to my 16.5 (the 0.5 represents the post we co-wrote); further, Patrick wrote 12 posts, Paul wrote 10, and Dusman had 2. Evan (unintentionally caught up by T-Stone’s zeal) can be counted as having 1 relevant post here. That gives us 97 posts total that have dealt in some manner with T-Stone, or that T-Stone has responded on. Of course this doesn’t quantify the word count in the comments, but for the entire first three months I only said two things to T-Stone, so again there is no way that I was the most verbose in communicating with him.

    C) Simply reading T-Stone’s comments demonstrates he is hardly "innocent" in this himself. He slings mud; he should expect to get it in return. As I said before, if you throw mud expect to get hosed.

    D) T-Stone has disagreed with Steve, Paul, Jason, Patrick, Dusman, Charles, Evan, Gene, and me. We are not monolithic here. While we share many beliefs in common, we do not all agree 100% on even such issues as presuppositionalism or YEC (in fact, my own view allows for the possibility of non-Darwinian "theistic evolution" to a limited extent). Yet T-Stone has found reason to disagree with all of us. Further, he attacked Eric Svendsen and he has expressly placed himself against conservative Christianity (which would not mean he’s an atheist, but would call into question his Christianity), the validity of logic (which does make him irrational), and the ability of language to communicate (which makes him a hypocrite every time he writes anything).

    E) On the other hand, T-Stone has argued on behalf of Jon Curry, John Loftus, Richard Dawkins, Victor Stenger, exapologist, Daniel Morgan, and interlocutor, evolutionists Kitcher, Ridley, et al.—not to mention providing Catholic Answers tracts and agreeing with Orthodox in an attack on sola scriptura, as well as denying sola fide, he defended Jonathan Prejean, and Mormonism in general.

    F) T-Stone has, however, said he’s a Christian, specifically a General Conference Baptist.

    G) Given D, E, and F, what reasonable person would conclude that T-Stone is a theist? What reasonable person would conclude that T-Stone is an atheist? What evidence has T-Stone given to determine which way we should choose on this? Does T-Stone’s mere statement that he believes in God counterweigh all the times he argues against theistic positions and all the times he bends over backwards for atheistic positions? I’ll let you be the judge.

    Concerned Christian, you now have before you the entire list of every post that ever dealt with T-Stone, as well as all the posts that I could find that he commented on (there may be, I concede, one or two that I missed). Ignorance is no longer an excuse for you…if it ever really was one.”

    None of Pike’s “evidence” overcomes (F), T-Stone’s claim that he is a Christian, specifically a General Conference Baptist. Pike asks in (G) whether a reasonable person would conclude T-Stone to be a theist or an atheist? In law the reasonable man standard is sometimes applied. If that were to be done here, I have no doubt the conclusion would be that T-Stone is a theist who believes in theistic evolution.

    Pike says in (C) that: “He slings mud; he should expect to get it in return. As I said before, if you throw mud expect to get hosed.” A couple of comments here. First it seems both the Triablogers and T-Stone have engaged in some unnecessary verbal insults and attacks. Both sides need to eliminate this and stick to the arguments. Second, the NT does not teach that the Christian response is to retaliate when mud is slung at us. Actually it says we are to forgive and not respond in kind but to overcome evil, if it is directed towards us, with good. Even if T-Stone were acting like a total jerk that does not justify acting like a total jerk in response. That is not what the bible teaches. As Christians we have higher standards than the world.

    Peter I am wondering whether or not you believe that a genuine Christian can hold to and openly espouse theistic evolution, or not?

    If a person holds to theistic evolution does that automatically make them an apostate?

    Could a genuine Christian be mistaken in his beliefs concerning subjects such as science, evolution, the proper interpretation of Gen. 1-3, and still be saved?

    Could a person affirm the gospel and hold to theistic evolution simultaneously?

    I ask these questions because it seems to me that T-Stone’s greatest “crime” in the eyes of Peter Pike and the other Triablogers is his espousal of theistic evolution.
    In conclusion, Pike has not proven his case in his brief that T-Stone is not a theist or is an apostate.

    CASE DISMISSED!

    Concerned Christian

    ReplyDelete
  7. How about the issue of T-Stone being an apostate? An apostate begins by affirming orthodox Christianity and then renouncing it (e.g Heb. 6:4-8). Pike provides absolutely no evidence of T-Stone renouncing any essential Christian doctrine. Search through Pike’s 27 pages and you will find no references to any denial of beliefs such as the Trinity, the deity of Christ, salvation by faith alone, the virgin birth of Christ, and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. None of these essential doctrines are referred to anywhere in the brief as far as I could see. Nowhere is is shown that T-Stone denies any of these beliefs. Apostates will and do deny these kinds of beliefs.

    Au contrare, what TS actually does is waffle between saying that he believes in justification by faith alone, justification by faith alone may be right or may be wrong, and attacking it. He certainly denies that it is necessary to give a credible profession of faith, and when confronted on this has gone to great lengths to defend that latter stance, as if we can legitmately just throw it away.

    He states that he believes in the Trinity because its part of one of the creeds. (I'd add that if he thinks the Apostle's Creed and the Athanasian Creed are ecumenical, he's sorely mistaken). He denies the authority and perspicuity of Scripture, so his belief isn't in God by way of Scripture, but God by way of creeds. His rule of faith is "find consensus across as many groups as possible." Ironically, that's the same rule of faith he uses for his scientific judgments. So, in reality, there's nothing "sacred" about his thinking at all - it's all secular.

    And, I would point out that the case for apostasy in Scripture is not simply doctrinal. If the case was simply doctrinal, CC, then you might have a point, but the Bible teaches that a person can intellectually affirm doctrines and still be unconverted.It doesn’t require spiritual discernment to believe true doctrines. It only requires intellectual discernment. It’s quite possible for an unregenerate person to discern the true meaning of Scripture or a creed. For the unregenerate, the spiritual impediment is not with the meaning of Scripture, but with the authority of Scripture. Indeed, it’s because the unregenerate are in a position to know better than their unbelief is culpable. And TS rejects the authority of Scripture frequently.

    The case is also ethical. In that department, he utterly fails, for where has TS displayed any love for the brethren? He has attacked the brethren, not just here, but elsewhere. TS goes out of his way to do this, and when he comes to another's defense, it's to the Catholic, the atheist, the pagan, and the apostate. He's demonstrated that he's the man about whom James wrote in James 2.

    If you think that the problem we have with him is because he says he's a TE (and if he's a TE, why is so dismissive of other TE's?), you are sorely mistaken.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous said:

    "Can we get back to dealing with Perry Robinson and Orthodox?"

    There's something in the pipeline, soon to be posted, on that very subject.

    ReplyDelete
  9. CC says:
    ---
    Well I have now looked at Peter Pike’s 27- page brief: “The Case against Touchstone”. Pike has claimed that T-Stone is not a theist, not a Christian, an apostate. Has Pike substantiated any of his claims? NO.
    ---

    I don't know where you got the 27 pages from. It was only 18 on my computer. Perhaps a font size issue? It's not really relevant.

    But surely you did not read all the relevant comments on all the posts. Even I did not do so as 1) I have a pretty good memory and 2) I was there the first time the conversations occured. It still took me ten hours to go through it all.

    In any case, I've already stated:
    ---
    Later, if needed, I will subject myself to more torture and parse through his words in a detailed manner. For now, the general gist and the links provided should be sufficient.
    ----

    So apparently you want more. Thanks for wasting another day for me.

    The rest of your comments have already been addressed before, although I will answer this question:
    ---
    Peter I am wondering whether or not you believe that a genuine Christian can hold to and openly espouse theistic evolution, or not?
    ---

    Yes, I do believe someone can be a Christian and hold to theistic evolution.

    But someone cannot be a Christian who openly denies sola fide, as T-Stone has done. I am Reformed, and that happens to be an article upon which I make a Biblical distinction between who is considered saved and un-saved.

    Read what T-Stone said in this post. In fact, just read that entire post, and read T-Stone's reaction to it. If you've read nothing else, this one ought to be a real eye-opener for you. Ask yourself how T-Stone behave in his responses here.

    Here's what he said:
    ---
    Science marches forward. Secularism has been vigorously active, with a renewed energy in the last decade (thanks in part to the cluelessnes of the Evangelical elites). Post-modernism is progressing beyond simple desconstruction into advanced meta-heuristics. The Catholic and Orthodox churches cycle on, forging, each in its own way a model for integrating and harmonizing faith, science, and culture in a way that works toward the practical goals of the Gospel.

    Evangelicalism, by contrast, seems to be grind to a halt intellectually.
    ---

    Now tell me what takes priority in T-Stone's life--is it religious views, or is it his precious "science"? Which ought the theist hold in primacy?

    Further, he belittled core doctrine of the Reformation--and he knew he was doing such, for he specifically said:
    ---
    So, Peter Pike can go on and on about Calvinist shadings of justifcation or the latest thinkings from MacArthur on the noetic effects of the Fall, but ask him about what Christianity means in terms of existin in and ministering to a post-modern culture, and he's a fish out of water.
    ---

    So get this straight. T-Stone is not simply a theistic evolutionist. He's an anti-evangelical, anti-Reformed bigot who would be considered an apostate immediately by virtually every single Reformed believer by the basis of his denial of sola fide already.

    The reason I think he's an atheist plant is due to the fact that while he addresses theistic concerns--he even says a great deal about them in this post--the theism is always used as a front to cover his blessed and most holy of holies: scientism.

    By the way, I have to ask: If T-Stone is so dismissive to Biblical theology, labeling those who believe it as "enclosed in a bubble; an echo chamber that is deaf and ignorant to the intellectual proceedings of the world around it" full of "trite self-consolations" that keep the "happy in their vacuum chamber" while they are "chattering on the sidelines" engaged in "holier-than-thou pretense[s]" that only allow people to see issues through "a jingoistic caricaturization of the subject"--all of which is characterized as: "That's just self-indulgence and cowardice in the face of competing ideas. So much putting your fingers in your ears and whistling Dixie (or maybe an old tyme hymn)"--then how in the world can you say he believes in the same thing that the people he's criticizing believe in? And all those quotes came in the same comments section. And I didn't even finish going through it yet.

    If T-Stone spews this much venom toward my postion, there's no way that I could rationally say, "Yup, T-Stone believes in the same God I do."

    T-Stone doesn't believe in the same God I do.

    Further, it is no small leap from speaking this way about Bible-believing Christians in general (while simultaneously defending every atheist who he's ever interacted with on the T-Blog) to my conclusion:

    A) WHEREAS T-Stone does not believe in the God of the Bible and

    B) WHEREAS he sides with those who do not believe in any God whatsoever

    C) THEREFORE there is no reason to treat him as anything but an atheist.

    If he changes his tune, I'll acknowledge him to be a theist. If he can provide a single link to any comment he did on any post anywhere before today where he actually defended theism against atheism, then that would count as counter-evidence to my claim. But given as we have never seen such evidence, there is no reason for us to disagree with my conclusion that T-Stone is an atheist plant.

    It would be irrational to come to another conclusion given the evidence.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Gene said: "I'd add that if he thinks the Apostle's Creed and the Athanasian Creed are ecumenical, he's sorely mistaken"

    What do you mean by them not being ecumenical?

    ReplyDelete
  11. An ecumenical creed would be Nicea-Constantinople or Chalcedon. These are creeds drawn up by what are/were considered ecumenical councils. We call the "ecumenical" because they were products of East and West at those councils, whereas these below were not.

    The Apostle's Creed is a baptismal creed that gradually accreted over centuries. See Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology text. He has an excellent chart that shows how it developed over time.

    The Athanasian Creed is a creed, but it too is a creed that, while purporting to be from him, is really one that developed over time. There is also no authorized text in Greek. What there are in Greek are translations from the Latin.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Peter,

    Well, that's quite a piece of work!

    I think this has been made clear, but when you ask "But how can a Christian consistently argue against the beliefs of Christianity in any sort of consistent manner?" (right near the end of your post), I think that it's quite in many ways quite a distorted and self-indulgent for of Christianity you advocate/practice here. And that's not a problem salvation wise for T-Bloggers. As far as I can tell, and I'm not qualified to judge another man's salvation to boot, you've got the essentials down.

    Part of my interest in Triablogue was having a "seeker" friend and colleague, who'd finally gotten serious about inquiring into the claims of Christ send me an email linking to a blog post here at T-Blog, saying "This is Christianity? What was I thinking?" . Shortly after that, *another* agnostic friend of mine agreed to go to church with a Christian co-worker in Northern VA, where my office was at the time, and I got an earful on Monday morning. He was quite upset, insulted and embarrassed at sitting through the presentation of visiting YEC apologist at the Sunday night service. Other small vignettes in this vein brought the conversation topic up -- what's going on? How has evangelicalism got to this point, to such a counterproductive position in so many parts?

    Reading some of Triablogue, I think it is the best poster child for the problems I identify that beleaguer, discredit and defeat evangelical Christianity today. Sharing this conversation with my friend who'd picked up on this cluster of events, he emailed me one day, sending a link to another T-Blog post: "Why don't you say something?"

    That's a good question. There are atheists and non-believers who speak against Triabloguers' ideas, but the "suppressing fire" of say a Steve Hays makes the hassle/reward curve unattractive for Christians who think through and process what Steve says to press their objections.

    In short, this post -- albeit the long version (!) -- is how Triablogue defends itself from criticism: by attacking the integrity of its critics.

    Thinking that through a bit then, I realized I was in a position to actually take up that opportunity to speak up and speak against the distortions and general bogosity of the Triablogue ideology. I don't have too much trouble dealing with the personal accusations, and the kind of sustained questioning of my ability and commitment to say what I mean and mean what I say. So, that suggests to me right there that I'm one who *should* speak up, simply because I can without too much problem.

    Moreover, having been brought to really look at modern evangelicalism by that cluster of events, I developed the strong sense that evangelicalism was on a path toward oblivion, embracing a broadly anti-intellectual and increasingly mystical kind of insulation from reality.

    That conviction, combined with my thick skin in dealing with the kind of "suppressing fire" Triablogue has learned to use to protect itself from intellectual criticism and liability, it seemed a worthwhile project to take up, as time and interest allowed.

    Behind that all is the conviction that the theology, apologetics and attitude at places like Triablogue have gone far astray from reasoning, orthodox Christianity, far from a faith that was both faithful and engaged with the real world. I certainly don't think I'm one to single-handedly (or otherwise) change or fix *that* problem. But I was, and am convicted that a reasonable, faithful, and evangelical Christianity offered a whole slew of observations and objections to what is offered here regularly at Triablogue, and that those observations and objections should be put out there, as best I could.

    As I've said before, and as investigators confirm as the get interested, and meet the "dark side" of evangelicalism, Triablogue offers a lot of arguments that are ultimately good, solid fodder for the *falsehood* of Christianity -- YEC doctrines being a prominent example here. That's quite painful and tragic to see, and I think it's worth contesting, when it's presented, if for no other reason than a single voice (if that's all it is) in the comment stream presenting a more reasoning and faithful rendering of Christianity, one that has does not simply crumble liek a house of cards when it encounters the real world.

    Peter and others here suppose that criticism makes me an apostate, or an atheist, or any number of other bad things, as they pop into their angry heads at the moment. As said in the "teapot" thread to Concerned Christian, there's a silver lining of sorts in that. Fanboys will lap this kind of approach up from the Triabloggers. But the people I'm interested in that are reading will pick up important "meta-messages" from Peter, Steve, Gene, and Paul -- this is how they react, and this is the way they reason when there are contested ideas and arguments on the table. For the constituency that matters to me here, this makes an important point -- at least sometimes, according to feedback I receive on the proceedings here.

    Who speaks against the distortions, the folly, and the self-indulgence of the Triabloggers and the faction of Christianity they represent? Does it only come from non-Christians? For the most part, that seems the natural pattern, as those people are impervious to the accusations that the T-Bloggers reflexively reach for. Just as a novel idea on an important issue, I thought: what if someone, an evangelical Christian, took some of this bad stuff to task? Wouldn't it have a different impact coming from a Christian, from a fellow evangelical?

    Looking back, I think it *does* have a different impact, and I submit Mr. Pike's post here as a proof point of this. Not just the length, but the thesis -- this criticism simply can stand as "inhouse" criticism in their view. It *must* be sourced from outside, as it's too problematic to address from the standpoint if "in-house" disagreement.

    Triabloggers believe that unbelief is a disqualification in and of itself in rational debate -- see the VanTillian influence through this group. It's just too tempting, over my express affirmations to the contrary, to box what I say up as "apostasy" and "undercover atheism". It relieves them from having to look the argument in the eye.

    I can't do anything about it, so I don't sweat that. It sends a useful message to attentive readers on its own, and I'm fine with that. This is the 'real' Triablogue speaking here, and I am as content as Peter is with that being the case.

    For my part, I just say my piece. If it's a bogus argument, I say so, and try to provide my reasons for asserting that. I'm happy to answre questions, and defend my faith, and be liable to criticism and critical examination. That kind of exchange, in moments where the ad hominem stuff reaches a momentary lull, can be quite edifying and thought-provoking. The criticisms very much need to be leveled in my view, but it's really only productive when my points can tangle with their points in a confrontational, yet reasonable way.

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  13. Due to his incorrigible abuse of the combox, the team members of T-blog have decided to ban TS from our blog. Subsequent comments by TS will be summarily deleted. For further explanation, see rule #4 of The Rules of Engagement (upper sidebar).

    ReplyDelete
  14. For the same reasons, the same ban now applies to Jon Curry.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Touchstone wrote:

    “Part of my interest in Triablogue was having a ‘seeker’ friend and colleague, who'd finally gotten serious about inquiring into the claims of Christ send me an email linking to a blog post here at T-Blog, saying ‘This is Christianity? What was I thinking?’ . Shortly after that, *another* agnostic friend of mine agreed to go to church with a Christian co-worker in Northern VA, where my office was at the time, and I got an earful on Monday morning. He was quite upset, insulted and embarrassed at sitting through the presentation of visiting YEC apologist at the Sunday night service. Other small vignettes in this vein brought the conversation topic up -- what's going on? How has evangelicalism got to this point, to such a counterproductive position in so many parts?”

    If only the guest speaker had been Touchstone instead, perhaps delivering a presentation in which he defends Richard Dawkins’ arguments or argues against intelligent design. Then his friend probably would have become a Christian.

    Whatever problems there may have been with the young earth creationist’s presentation, shouldn’t we also consider the probability that there were many problems with the sinfulness and misconceptions of the agnostic who heard the presentation? He probably would have been offended by the cross as well.

    Touchstone continues:

    “Reading some of Triablogue, I think it is the best poster child for the problems I identify that beleaguer, discredit and defeat evangelical Christianity today.”

    Touchstone couldn’t find anything worse on the web? We’re “the best poster child”? Comments like that reflect how reasonable Touchstone is in his evaluation of such issues. Maybe he thinks that we’re the worst because we’ve argued against him the most. But why should arguing against Touchstone be the primary criterion?

    ReplyDelete
  16. In the "Links to this post" section you will find "Stone-Cold Liar" from the Pyromaniacs blog, which refers to the admission of atheism by Touchstone on his blog now.

    Peter was not being insensitive or unwise, condescending or arrogant. The post was in one sense a show of concern to another blogger (I probably wouldn't spend that much time responding to an irrational person) and a good example of Jude 17-18 and 2 Pet 3: 2-3 lived out. We are not to walk around with our head in the clouds, assuming that every creature that acts like a wolf and howls like a wolf and attacks like a wolf is, in fact, a shepherd because he wears a shirt (Matt 7:15)
    Such discernment is unfortunately not common in "the Church" today. We must continue to affirm the words of Jesus when He said "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matt 12:34)

    ReplyDelete