Saturday, February 25, 2006

Separating the men from the boys

Thus saith the exbeliever:

“Okay, this is definitely the LAST time I am dealing with you guys.”

Wow, I don’t know if Evan, Gene and I can cope with the emotional withdrawal symptoms if exbeliever carries through with his threat of suspending the inestimable privilege of “dealing” with us. In the psychiatric literature, this is known as PTDD (Post-Traumatic-Debunking Disorder).

I better stock up on beer to drench my sorrows and numb the pain.

Gene, Evan: Should I buy an extra six-pack or two for you guys while I’m down at the 7-11?

“So, I'm supposed to trust your exegesis of passages, when you miss the biggest freakin' red letters on the planet that say, "The following is added by John..." [That's John Loftus, not exbeliever] and then go on to attribute the whole thing to me? You address all of your comments to me when I didn't write anything that you quoted.

It's called reading, my friends. I'm afraid that this is typical of your intellectual abilities.”

Ah, yes, reading comprehension. Let me walk you through the process, exbeliever.

You do a post. The post is later amended. The addendum is by Loftus, but it’s not a separate post. Rather, it’s stuck on to your original post as an extension of your initial argument.

That’s called a collaborative effort. You and he coauthored this post.

If you don’t like it, then you should delete it and repost your original sentiments.

The “red-letter” words are attributed to Loftus, but the post is attributed to you. We can attribute it to either of you since that comes from the composite authorship of the post itself.

So, yes, it’s called reading, exbeliever. I’m afraid this is typical of your intellectual abilities.

“So, am I going to get an admission of a mistake?!”

Well, ordinarily I don’t admit other men’s mistakes for them, but since you insist, yes, it was a mistake for you to let Loftus amend your original post.

I completely sympathize with your plight. If I were in your situation, I’d want to put distance between myself and his addendum as well.

It’s bad enough to be personally liable for the faulty reasoning of the original post--twice as bad to be held responsible for the faulty reasoning of your coauthor.

But that’s the price you pay for working on a chain-gang. If one goes over the cliff, they all go over the cliff.

In future I’d advise you and he to post separately so that you two don’t sink under the multiplied weight of each other’s incompetence.

Either that or you can always amend his amendment by adding a disclaimer of your own, something along the lines of:

“To whom it may concern: don’t blame me for all the dumb things that John says in this post, and don’t blame John for all the dumb things I say in the very same post. We demand our individual intellectual property rights for the division of laborious ineptitude.”

Thus saith the Loftus:

“And look how they can sidestep what the Bible says. Isn't that interesting when it doesn't suit them. I suppose someone could also say that only those who have never heard of the gospel need to hear it too. Since we've heard it, they don't need to tell us about it. Or, the command to love others only applies to those who know nothing about the gospel too.”

What we did was to interpret 1 Peter in context. Notice that Loftus hasn’t said anything at all to challenge our contextual exegesis.

“Gerrymandering. That's what I've seen so often from Christians who want to justify most anything they want to. And as we look down through the history of the church they have indeed done just that.”

And as we look down through the history of infidelity, we see unbelievers who justify most anything they want to: the Holocaust, the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, the legal fiction of a Constitutional right to abortion, the Maoist and Stalinist purges, the mass graves of the Baathist party, &c.

“But to think that the NT contains different and even contradictory approaches to handling unbelievers is something they would never think of accepting.”

i) Notice how Loftus is unable to think straight for three brief, consecutive paragraphs. In the first two paragraphs he accuses Gene and me of “sidestepping” or “gerrymandering” 1 Peter. Of interpreting the verses about apostates and false teachers in a manner inconsistent with 1 Peter.

So the implication of this charge is that all these passages are ultimately harmonious, and it is only by “sidestepping” 1 Peter and “gerrymandering” the NT as a whole that we can draw a distinction.

But now, in the third paragraph, he attributes “different” and even “contradictory” approaches to the handling of unbelievers.

Yet, in that case, Gene and I were not misinterpreting either 1 Peter or the other verses. We rightly interpret each set of verses on its own terms (occasion, audience, life-setting).

ii) John’s simple-minded exegesis notwithstanding, there is no contradiction here.

It’s fine to treat everyone the same all other things being equal, but unbelievers do fall into distinct classes.

There are unbelievers who oppose the faith out of sheer prejudice and ignorance.

That was true back then, and that is true today.

There are also unbelievers who have extensive exposure to the faith, and knowingly turn their back on the faith.

That was true back then, and that is true today.

When we apply Scripture to a contemporary situation, that’s an argument from analogy. And, yes, it’s an elementary feature of an argument from analogy that the analogue is, indeed, analogous.

Sorry, John, to treat you to a remedial course in rudimentary logic. I realize that intellectual sophistication is not a prerequisite for apostasy. But if you’re going to engage a Christian epologist, you’ll have to come up to our level, unless you’d rather have us talk down to you all the time—which, I admit—you do make unavoidable much of the time.

And since, as I’ve said before—try hard to pay attention this time, the modicum of intellectual effort would be good mental discipline for you—there are aggravating degrees of guilt corresponding to ascending degrees of knowledge, witting rebellion, and culpable ignorance, the NT does, indeed, have a different policy for apostates and false teacher than it has for those with no Christian background.

I understand that these distinctions may be hard for you to grasp at first, but if you apply yourself, then with bit of practice the light-bulb may actually switch on. I apologize if Gene and I overestimated you. We can always retrace our steps and go as slowly as you need on this.

Debunking Christianity started out with this high-minded pose of pseudointellectualism. But as soon as Gene or Evan or Paul or Walton or I exert a wee bit of rational hull-pressure on your bubble of unbelief, the cerebral tone vanishes while you and exbeliever throw a temper tantrum and reduce the level of discourse to a cussing contest.

I have news for you. The blogosphere is not for sissies. If you thought you could take cheap shots at the Christian faith without return fire, you were sadly mistaken.

If you’re going to bawl like a bunch of cry-babies because you can’t rise to the intellectual challenge, then you’d best pack up your toy soldiers and go home while the big boys pick up the intellectual tab.


  1. They've responded to you here:

    and disabled comments, so I'll write this here: they seem to be doing the same thing they're accusing you of doing: it was Bridges who mistook the Loftus comment for being part of the original poster's post, and here they are mistaking you for Bridges in a very similar manner.

    Anyway, atheists kids, is this really be a standard for intelligence?

  2. Excuse my syntax. (And I was just shaking my head looking at all of Hugh Hewitt's typos...)

  3. k7,

    You wrote: "They've. . . disabled comments."

    No, John disabled comments. I don't have any control over it.

    You wrote: ". . .it was Bridges who mistook the Loftus comment for being part of the original poster's post, and here they are mistaking you for Bridges in a very similar manner."

    Wrong, again. In steve's original post that "Bridges" merely commented on, quoted John and added, "posted by exbeliever" even though John explicitly stated that he was speaking for himself and not for me.

    Additionally, in that same post that "Bridges" merely commented on, steve never addresses John, but only addresses me when he says, "So that, Exbeliever, is the proper exegesis of these verses." (emphasis mine)

    So, now will you admit that you are wrong in saying that I "seem to be doing the same thing [I've] accusing [steve] of doing: it was Bridges who mistook the Loftus comment for being part of the original poster's post, and here [exbeliever is] mistaking you for Bridges in a very similar manner"?

    Can you admit your mistakes?

  4. Yes, I admit my mistake.

    I mean, without trying to find the original comments I will take your word for the matter. I recalled wrongly.

    It's still silly, though. Making such a thing a standard for intelligence and all that.

    But that's obvious.

    If, shifting subjects, the Bible is currently not your cup of tea may I suggest you read the Homeric epics? I mean, just read them until you get them into memory and understanding. They can be an influence that awakens some people...

  5. k7,

    Thank you. That's one of the few shreds of honesty I've seen on this blog.

    steve still seems to think that he is justified in attributing ideas to me even though 1) they were added without my knowledge, and 2) the added comments EXPLICITLY state that they are not my words but someone else's.

    Of everything he quoted, not a single word was mine, yet he feels that it is okay to quote only someone else (who said he was not speaking for me) and attach "posted by exbeliever" to it. He is using his convoluted reasoning to say that he was quoting the "post," but he only quotes the part that John added and explicitly stated that it was not my work.

    It's the equivalent of taking a quotation in the middle of a book and attributing it to the author of the book, not the person who actually said it, just because the author's name is on the cover.

    Try as he might, steve still proves that he is a mental midget.

    In his new post, steve writes, "And, of course, his whole exercise is a diversionary tactic to distract attention from the substantive comments which he is impotent to rebut. Cute decoy, but the rubber ducky doesn't look like the real quarry."

    For some reason, steve thinks I have some obligation to respond to his arguments against something that I didn't write and that I'm attempting to distract attention away from my inability to answer his objections to something I didn't write.

    Yet, I've already said that I didn't read what he wrote, because it was directed at John, not me. I don't need a decoy because I have no obligation to answer his criticisms of an argument that I didn't make.

    Try as he might, steve looks like an idiot.