Help Me Out Here

I’ve been carrying out a short dialog with Tim over at Splinters of Silver. He’s a Christian, with an obvious Christian viewpoint on everything. My comments have been directed, for the most part, to the conflict between religion and science. He doesn’t seem to really grasp the issue, at least from my point of view. It’s frustrating, but in the most recent post, entitled, Faith v. Unbelief, he makes a stab at understanding the atheist position. As I noted, it’s a start in the right direction, but it’s still wrong. I’m trying to explain the atheistic viewpoint, but it’s not getting through.

I know, most will say it’s not worth the effort, that strongly held religious beliefs probably won’t be changed. I’m not really trying to do that. I’m writing this more for myself, than for him. But if anyone feels like jumping in, feel free.

Personally, when frustration sets in, the tendency is to become more abusive, but I’m trying to be the better blogger. So far, what I’ve read from him, he maintains a civil tone, despite some provocation.

It’s a good topic, and deserves proper argument. I’m writing more there, I find, than here, but what the hell…

14 thoughts on “Help Me Out Here

  1. John:

    I looked only at the latest post at Splinters. If you took part in other back-and-forth sessions, tell us the titles of the original entries over there. I had little patience to wade through all his garbage.

    In that latest post, you did a valiant — and extremely articulate job — presenting an atheistic viewpoint. But the blogger at Splinters is not interested in hearing what you have to say. He reaches for the most facile rebuttals, and shows no depth of thought whatsoever.

    I must admit that when I saw all his quotes from the bible (and in colors, yet) as his “evidence” for faith over nonbelief, it made me gag.

    So it’s an interesting exercise to hone your debating skills over there. I think conversations between atheists and believers about religion are rarely fruitful. You can write all the comments you want: you’re not going to convince that idiot of anything. He’d sooner believe a ventriloquist’s voice coming from a blastocyst than you.

    [LATE ADDITION: In heading back to the Splinter site, I did see a new post on which I left a comment, referencing you as a “decent human being.” I hope that doesn’t ruin your image with anyone.

    I also noticed that the blogger is moderating comments. That makes me very suspicious about his open-mindedness and even his motives. If a response is really offensive, it’s a simple matter to delete it. So why must the blog-owner read every single comment before allowing it to post?]

  2. All I’d add is that Tim was a fairly disruptive troll on my blog for quite some time until Beast chased him away. Based on how he interacted with others, my hunch is that he’s less open than many other Christians you’re likely to encounter.

  3. Just one last thought on Tim’s site:

    It seems that Beast made a threat a few days ago, and Splinters got bent out of shape. So yesterday, Splinters wrote an outrageous post further goading Beast. Of course there were plenty of back and forth comments (in one of which I cited our very own Inquisitor as a decent human being, and asking that all atheists not be implicitly classified as threateners.) I also explainted to Tim that his consistently inane responses to comments led to plenty of frustration, and that while I didn’t condone Beast’s verbal excesses, I thought that Tim was encouraging them. Why, I asked, didn’t he just moderate them out — instead of hypocritically fanning the flames?

    A miracle happened. Tim’s counter-attacking post disappeared. And today he issued an apology to Beast. So maybe Splinters is marginally reasonable. But not reasonable enough for me to visit his site again now that I’ve seen the resolution of the last “controversy.”

  4. Vjack – disruptive? He was the only civil-tongued commenter on your sight. I think you need to go back and re-educate yourself on your own blgging policies.

  5. I didn’t realize that Tim at Splinters of Silver was the Tim who had been posting comments on Vjack’s site.

    He left a couple of comments on my blog in my post “The Chosen People of the Supreme Being Test – Chapter 1 – You Call This A Promised Land?”

  6. Sorry to post and leave,, but I was away for a day.

    I knew Tim was the same “troll” from Vjacks’ site, though I hate to characterize anyone as a troll unless it appears that his sole purpose of commenting is to harass and annoy. Even Tim and BWC seem to believe the things they post, so I couldn’t characterize them as trolls any more than Tim could fairly characterize myself and Beast as trolls on his site. If you put up a site dedicated to a particular subject, and someone aggressively disagrees with you, well, that’s the cost of doing business, as they say. It’s only words.

    I see underneath Tim’s posts an honest belief in what he writes. Misguided, wrong, completely stupid, (not him, what he writes) yes, those would all be fair comments.

    I agree with Ex. As I originally mentioned in my post, it is very frustrating laying out evidence upon evidence, only to have it “refuted” by a quote from the Bible. I think at the base, it’s because Christians don’t use logic or reason. They don’t analyze anything they say. Their whole belief system is wrapped around a single book, which replaces logic and reason for them.

    With Tim, I see a man struggling to understand the world around him. He found his answers in that book, but he is willing to put his answers out there for scrutiny, and he does seem to have the ability to change his mind, or at least attempt to change his mind when confronted with logical argument. I saw that in the post I referred to where he tried to encapsulate our arguments. Of course, he then went back to his source of logic, and defeated the whole exercise, but I still thought it was worth pursuing.

    We’re not going to change the thinking of the world by changing society overnight. It’s only going to happen one person at a time.

  7. I submitted a post there, which I also posted on my own blog Quarkscrew under the title “Two Gods: The Irrelevant and the False”. I’ll be interested to see his reaction. I don’t think I was confrontational, but dismissive might be a fair cop.

  8. First, I would like to say I appreciate all of the kind thoughts here. 🙂

    Are any of us really interested in what the other has to say, or do we simply spend our time defending our own beliefs and rebutting the others? I am unclear as to what standard you suppose a Christian should use when defining/defending their beliefs, if Scripture is not appropriate. To acknowledge and trust in God means His Book indeed is true and holds the Truth, whereby we must accept it as authority. I understand you do not, but as a Christian, I do. If you talk to a Christian, you will get Bible as an answer.

    As for moderating comments: The reason I now moderate comments is because of a particular commenter that has gone rampant (or did) on my blog with unnecessary vulgar language, blasphemy, pornographic links, etc. multiple times on multiple posts every single day. I understand that this is not common with all Atheists and I understand that not all believe in God, but to come to a known Christian blog and spend so much time with such unnecessary writing was tiresome. I did not use “Jesus Speech” all over the Atheists blogs I visited multiple times on multiple posts every single day. Also, with blogger, I was not getting all of the update notifications properly and was having to search through all my posts daily to see if I needed to delete the unnecessary filth from my site, that yes, children may also view it. They don’t need to see that.

    As far as being open-minded and such because I moderate my site, every comment has been posted except for one person that I had constant confrontation with. And the only comments I deleted were those that were personally directed at me, were vulgar, pornographic, or simply gave nothing to the topic. I would say this is a big difference than banning people simply because we disagree, as such has happened elsewhere with Atheists blogs.

    I am somewhat disappointed in your thoughts, for you know what you have written is not the case. I indeed did post more before than I do now at your blog, but it was your common commenters that would attack my comments over and over again, and when I would reply to them, you claimed I was a troll and even banned me for a while. Even my last post – where you clearly noted in your comment policy that the blog is not to argue among each other but comment toward the topic – I made a comment and the common commenters returned to attack me. I understand and accept that they will do so, but to claim it is I would is causing all the disruption , when you can count my posts (and compare) to theirs is not altogether true.

    BT Murtagh,
    I did see your comment on my blog. I hope to get to it this week. I may actually move your comments into a post of their own.


  9. Tim

    I was wondering when you’d show up. 🙂

    A couple of things:

    1. I understand that you and other Christians will always fall back on “the book”. It’s the MO of religious people. Perfectly understandable. However, what we can’t figure out is why. It’s just a book, one of millions that have been written since writing and language was invented. Why that one, and that one only? Why not Shakespeare? Or Bacon. Or …anybody?
    The authority of the bible is contained from within, and as such is suspect. It’s also circular reasoning to say that the Bible is the word of God because the Bible says so.

    2. If you refer to scripture to answer an assertion or question that uses logic, reason, evidence and brain cells, why would YOU expect us to remain placid? It looks more like an attempt to avoid the question at hand, than a serious attempt to answer it.

    I guess this underscores why there is little effective communication between atheists and theists, because we’re talking in one language, and you’re responding in another.

    3. I’ll stick my head out on the chopping block here and say that I do find it distasteful when a Christian comes to a site and is immediately shouted down, often with ad hominems and profanity. It reminds me of white blood cells attacking a virus entering an otherwise neutral blood stream. As soon as the presence of a Christian commentator is noticed, everyone attacks.

    OTOH, I think that is to be expected, to a certain point. I prefer a certain amount of decorum, because I think it’s more conducive to civil discourse and a freer exchange of ideas. If one is always on the defensive, personally, it makes it harder to see the argument and effectively respond to it. Anger intrudes, and the next thing you know, it’s name calling time. But you have to expect that if your statement is unsupportable by anything other than your book, your statement will be attacked. By multiple attackers.

    But if you come to a known atheist blog, you have to expect that many people, having had scripture thrown up at them at every turn, might just snap when they hear it thrown up again in response to an otherwise civil, reasonable, logical argument.

    The point is, you’re not responding to logic with logic; reason with reason; evidence with evidence. In effect, you’re saying that all the evidence and reason we work so hard to analyze and understand and communicate is worthless. That we are somehow stupid for not chucking it all, and swearing allegiance to a book written by unknown authors at an unknown time, for reasons unknown to us now, that purports to impute wisdom that, on further analysis, is not all that wise.

    Ever pull your hair out in frustration? Hold on to that feeling.

  10. Some how I left this comment on the wrong thread so I’ll repost it here where it belongs and where someone might actually UNDERSTAND IT in the correct context! Damn, I can be dumb sometimes…

    “While I fully agree with those who would suggest you are most likely wasting your time trying to enlighten someone with a fixed belief that is not susceptible to reason, always approach in with the audience in mind.

    “You don’t know who is reading/listening. Someone out on the border, with a mind open enough to accept a well reasoned argument, could be swayed by you. I admire your desire to take the high road for this very reason.

    “Also the idea that you are doing this more for yourself is a valid one. It’s always good to use an opportunity like this to get your thoughts in order.”

  11. I wondered about that, John. I thought it was more responsive to a different post. 🙂

    I’ll delete the other one.

    I agree with you about the audience. I think for every person that comments, if I’m looking at my stats correctly, there are, on average, about 60 people looking at each post. Those lurkers are important too. Maybe I won’t change Tim’s mind, but if I get one of the 60 others, then it was worth it.

  12. I did what I could, but faced with having to explain why Noah’s Ark couldn’t be literally true I decided I had best leave while I still had the patience to remain polite.

    The commenter seemed like a genuinely nice person, but the stupid, it burns… the goggles they do nothing!

  13. You can’t have intelligent argumentation with Tim-types because whatever point you reason out, they will come back with “The Giant Purple Donut says otherwise,” and that’s the end of the discussion. They are unwilling to untether their minds from the GPD to engage in genuine argument. All GPDs are self-referential and thus useless in argumentation.

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