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.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.
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.
Also interesting is Steve’s comment:
Is this a sincere question? Are you genuinely interested in my answer?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'."
Or do you plan to automatically dismiss any answer I give unless I blindly submit to every sentence in the article?
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.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).
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."
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.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:
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.
Steve,This individual then quotes 1 Peter 3:15-16 and 2 Timothy 2:24 before ignoring his interpretation of them completely by saying:
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.
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.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.
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,
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:
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.
touchstone....excellent.(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.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:
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."
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.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.
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.
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:
Again, T-Stone always manages to garner such loving endorsements, doesn’t he?
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.
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:All this was stated by December 22, 2006. Nothing much has changed in T-Stone’s tactics.
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.
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.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.
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."
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.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.
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 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.Yeah, that’s the sound of the Bible believer for you.
It's this kind of holier-than-thou pretense that has Evangelicals wondering "Hey, what's happening?"
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.