Friday, July 6, 2012

PWNAGE II: The Return of the Symph-athizer

On TektonTV today, I offered a followup vid as a reply to the same emergent Christian to whom a prior vid and Forge post was addressed (link below). There was little in the way of new argument from him this time; what he did offer was mostly a sustained rant, peppered with personal accusations, vacuous slogans, and angry re-assertions of defeated premises (I spent a lot of time referring to prior arguments he ignored or was unaware of!), but this gave me a chance to make a few things clear about my use of harsh language towards certain opponents, as well as address a few other issues.

“All the Time.” The emergent made the rather vague charge that I used harsh language “all the time”. How this is rated is not explained. Obviously, since e.g., comments on YT engage me less than a total of 15-20 minutes a day, and at least 70-90% of those on any given day are not to fundy atheists, “all the time” seems hyperbolic to say the least.

In reality, most of my time these days is spent on writing projects such as an e-book on the atonement and articles for my e-zine (the current article on my docket is on Orthodoxy). It seems rather that the emergent is so obsessed with the idea that it is all he thinks about “all the time.” As I explain in the vid, though, my use of harsh language is governed by occasions brought TO me. I don't go looking to pick fights with fundy atheists in the YouTube comments. In every single case, they come to MY channel -- or to one my work is hosted on -- to pick fights with ME. 

This simple point erases a good number of complaints from the be-nice bellowers:  Those who comment know very well from watching the vids that they're not going to be given a free ride with a song and dance. Most (not all) of the vids contain sarcastic humor, so there's very little chance fundy atheist commenters do not know what they're getting into.

In contrast, a point I do not address in the vid: Although I don't go picking fights in comments, I do sometimes appear to do so when I produce vids. Of the current set of 175 vids, a fair number are directed to a position held by someone who made another vid; of that, a fair number are directed towards persons who "threw the first punch."  Some, however,   are towards persons who had nothing to do with me before -- mostly, two YT users designated ProfMTH and NonStampCollector. 

But hold for the caveat: I picked those two as targets on request of YT users who were distressed by their arrogance and the bullying. So however you look at it -- I'm almost never, if at all, the one looking for trouble. My work is almost completely reactionary.

That's how it was when I wrote articles for Tekton years ago, too. Nothing has changed. If you're an atheist who does civil discourse, and doesn't go out of your way to do poor research or to deceive, you have nothing to worry about and will get the red carpet from me. If you do get called down by me, and acknowledge your mistakes and show a willingness to dialogue and improve your effort -- as has happened with a few atheists over the years -- the same carpet comes rolling out.

But if you're a fundy atheist who doesn't care about the truth, who continues to use sources like Wikipedia or Acharya S or Robert Ingersoll; who makes excuses such as "Christian scholars are too biased so you can't use them" -- I'll roll up that carpet and knock you over the right field wall with it.

As noted in that last entry, Christians like this emergent one who enable such behavior are no better. You'll see in this vid samples of comments from such fundy atheists, who this emergent lunatic has the temerity to say are just "asking questions in the name of God." Which god, I ask? Loki? Eris? (Is there an Aztec god of discord and destruction they're following, maybe?) And I also point out a great irony: By enabling these wolves, the emergent is actually insulting honest seekers and being a “poor witness” to them.

Offensive Christianity. I allude to Christianity being profoundly offensive in its social context. This is the sum of what I call the Impossible Faith thesis. There’s a link below explaining some of the points made in the vid. This thesis formed the basis for one of the sections in my book Defending the Resurrection. It’s been criticized by a couple of atheists (including one who was paid $5000 by another atheist to write a refutation of it!), and I have replied in turn.

Personal Testimony. There’s a link below to a series on my other blog about evangelism and apologetics, and how Christians have placed themselves in a trap of sorts by making personal behavior a judging standard for the truth of the Gospel.

Reading Lists. The emergent coddled a fundy atheist who refused to do assigned reading I offered so that they could comment more intelligently. I should note that I did this specifically to this critic precisely because they were not willing to learn and be inquisitive. Most viewers will not have done the reading before commenting; but most readers will also not rail off with misplaced objections, either. There’s a difference between the way I treat willing learners and those who steadfastly remain willfully ignorant.

To address a related point: I don’t attack disagreement. I attack willfully and stubbornly unintelligent, misinformed, tendentious disagreement. And fundy atheists specialize in that (as is to be expected, since that was their mode as fundies, too).

Seeking Weak Christians. One thing the emergent fails to grasp – being too ensconced in his role as an enabler of bullies – is that the set of fundy atheists I deal with are “anti-evangelists” who are specifically seeking weak victims. Very few openly state that they are out to deconvert Christians; John Loftus is one of those who does. This set of fundy atheists has a strategy set, which includes the “guilt trip” of declaring that you sure are unloving if you don’t just accept their manipulative ways and become their doormat. They also tend to use “reason, logic and evidence” – the words, not the actual products – as a bludgeon. Used their way, this becomes an insult in itself (as it indicates to the Christian, “you are oblivious to reason, logic, and evidence”).

There’s no basis for doormat Christianity. Even acts like giving your clothes away to someone who sued you was in fact an act designed to shame your opponent – just like Gandhi shamed the British with his non-violence (which I expect escapes the emergent sorts as well). The emergent uses the Message “translation,” which, as the vid notes, offers the ridiculous rendering that you are to “gift wrap” your item of clothing and make it a present. That not only adds a great deal of words to the text, it also adds our cultural presuppositions.

As part of their anti-evangelism, I noted, these fundy atheists will even leave comments on vids that are just devotionals. Now I imagine it will be said that Christians will also evangelize on vids that have to do with eg, evolution. And that’s true. But it’s also just as inappropriate and not an excuse.

Millennial Change. In close -- as TektonTV approaches 1000 subscribers, I have decided on a solution to the problem, one that will shut down the complaints once and for all -- though not in a way you might expect. You can look for that once TektonTV passes the magic number. My final note on this is a clue – I design my riposte such that those who take themselves least seriously will have the least problem with it. That’s all I’ll say – those who have ears to hear, will hear.


  1. I am not as up on this emergent church thing as you but there apears to be some problems with it as you mention. Dan Kimball and Rob Bell seem to be 2 big names in the movement and both are people I have issues with.
    “What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births? …Could you still be a Christian? Is the way of Jesus still the best possible way to live?” –Rob Bell (Velvet Elvis, p. 26-27)

    Dan Kimball and his mystic experiences are also a little odd IMHO.
    “The old paradigm taught that if you had the right teaching, you will experience God. The new paradigm says that if you experience God, you will have the right teaching.” –Dan Kimball

    It just seems to me this emergent church thing is a cover for lazy intellectualism and poorly thought out scholarship. Fine, be nice to people do not believe as you do. But if someone were to come and say things that are not true, do we coddle them or correct them?

  2. @jfrontier: Yes, I have written articles on both of them for my e-zine. Bell is not as bad as Kimball, but he does make a lot of really crazy statements like that one.

    I do agree that it is a way to avoid intellectual engagement. And if they follow the typical emergent model, they won't correct them, but will spend 5000 words explaining that there are different points of view, that they respect the views of the person who says Mithra was virgin born, and they may be right who knows, but hey, here's Jesus! How about that!

  3. Correction: It wasn't Kimball I wrote on, it was Doug Pagitt. My mistake.

  4. So, a riposte re-design is coming up? I'm rather a fan of G. K. Chesterton's works; I think he's great at making a jest of himself and his opponents at the same time. Does his style qualify as riposte? One example, the first coming to mind:

    "One of my first journalistic adventures, or misadventures, concerned a comment on Grant Allen, who had written a book about the Evolution of the Idea of God. I happened to remark that it would be much more interesting if God wrote a book about the evolution of the idea of Grant Allen..."
    --G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, Chapter 4

  5. @khigh -- Heh, nope. The change is new rules at TektonTV -- I now ban fundy atheists and whiners as soon as they show up, like my friend Kabane52 does. :)

    Chesteron would qualify, though, yep.