David Wood Is No Longer Worth My Time

This Blog Entry has been reposted because some people still think it's a mutual misunderstanding that Mr. Wood and I have with each other. Some of that is undoubtedly true, but I have just responded to this in comments 58-61 (beware, harsh language at one point).

I still want to stress that I like David Wood very much, and apart from our disputes I would consider him a friend of mine. What I am strictly dealing with are his arguments. Nothing personal is implied, even if I have been frustrated with him at times. He's a good man.

I do commend him for dealing with the problem of evil. My claim is that he is not dealing with this problem head on. I think he ought to take the advice of Adam in the comments below and just say he believes in the goodness of God despite the suffering in this world as a sort of Kierkegaardian leap of faith, and leave it at that. For as long as he wants to figure this out, he won't be able to do so.

Dr. Weisberger told me I'm wasting my time with David Wood of Answering Infidels and The Problem of Evil Blog. Like many others before her, I think she's right. She also advised me to argue with him on my blog, so I am now. I want people to see how he argues. So here we go...

Mr Wood claims that the argument from the problem of evil is an atheist argument. I responded that the problem of evil would have to be dealt with by him even if no atheist argued for it, since it flows out of that which he believes about an omni-God. He responded by distinguishing between the "problem of evil" and the "argument from evil," and the "argument from evil" is indeed an atheist argument. If successful as an atheist, he argues I'm trying to show that "God doesn't exist." But that is High School level thinking. A process theologian could press the argument, as could a pantheist. The conclusion of the argument isn't that God doesn't exist, only that if God exists he either isn't omnibenelovent, omniscient, or omnipotent. So why is it an atheist argument when it may not lead to atheism? A Deist could use it. I think it does show the Christian God doesn't exist, but it most emphatically doesn't lead to atheism. The amazing thing to me is that David does not back down, so far, and I don't expect him to here either.

After disagreeing with Dr. Weisberger's discussion of the burdern of proof , which I in turn agreed with her, Mr. Wood claims something wildly fanciful about that "method" (which isn't a method at all). He wrote:
"So the question arises, "Why would John cling to such an absurd method?" The answer: "Because he can't handle having to support his arguments with evidence." I see no other explanation.

Really now? Is it really true he can see no other explanation? Come on now David, think a little more deeply than that. What other explanations are there for why we argue you have the burden of proof here? Could it be that we think you do, irrespective of anything else? The burden of proof is not on the person who is disputing a claim, especially an extraordinary claim about an omni-God (or that there are invisible gremlins), but on the claimant. The person who makes a claim always has the burden of proof. Furthermore, if what he says is true, that I cannot support my arguments with evidence, then why is it that I am stressing the evidence, and arguing that that evidence is overwhelmingly against him? It's obvious that's what I've argued.

Besides Dr. Weisberger, Dr. Jeffry's also has commented on our debate. After reading both of their comments here's what David Wood said:

I've noticed something interesting, however. Both atheist reviewers (Weisberger and Jeffrys) seem to imply that John's arguments didn't work. That is, Jeffrys's response was "It would have been good to bring X up, and you shouldn't have let him get away with Y." Weisberger, apart from outlining [John's]arguments, responded by showing what she would have said in response to my claims. That is, at no point does either reviewer say "David said so and so, but John proved that wrong when he said such and such." Instead, both reviewers try to explain to readers what John should have said.

David claims that what they both wrote seems to imply my arguments "didn't work." Really? That is so slipshod by way of evaluating what their intent was, that I didn't think it needed mentioning that this is a completely ignorant thing to say. [The reason I mention this now, is because I'm seeing quite a pattern here coming from Mr. Wood and I want to lay a few examples on the table]. They were entering the debate. They were offering their own take on the arguments in the debate. There is no way anyone should ever conclude that because they had their own arguments on the issue that this implies they thought my arguments were ineffective at all! This is a non-sequitur.

But there is more. There was a post at Triablogue about a book called, Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence by David Benatar, where the author discusses whether or not parents should bring children into existence given the harms that life might bring upon them, and that parents should give it serious thought before bringing another child into this world. According to the editorial review, "David Benatar argues that coming into existence is always a serious harm. He argues for the 'anti-natal' view---that it is always wrong to have children. Anti-natalism also implies that it would be better if humanity became extinct. Although counter-intuitive for many, that implication is defended, not least by showing that it solves many conundrums of moral theory about population." You can see the book and the reviews for yourselves here

Okay so far?

Now in comes David Wood, who wrote:

This guy sounds like John Loftus with a PhD.

Really? Is that what I am saying? We'll get to that later.

Then Jim Pemberton wrote:

Let's see a show of hands: who is glad they were born - despite any discomfort? I'm raising mine.

Then David Wood wrote:



You said that you're raising your hand because you'd rather live. But what about all the people who can't raise their hands because their hands have been chopped off in an accident? What about them? Huh?!! What about people who were born without hands! It must be easy for you to raise your hand, since you've got one. But other people don't have them, and they all understand that it would be better to die. Yeah, they understand. They can't play Nintendo like you. Cause they don't have hands. So think about that, Mr. Handman. Think about people with no hands. And you'll see that we'd all be better off not existing. That's why I don't like God, you know. Cause he made me exist and all. And he doesn't give me everything I want. That's just not right.

Now check out my response:

John W. Loftus said (with corrected typos)...
Okay, funny guys.

Have you ever heard of the phrase, "you'll wish you were never born?" That usually refers to someone who is about to be beaten or tortured to a bloody pulp. There have been such people you know. There have been people born who never had a pleasurable day, due to sickness, starvation, and torture. There are teenagers who have merely spoken their minds only to spend the rest of their lives in a gulag and to die, never seeing their parents again. I could go on and on and on, of course.

This is what I'm referring to, and all you can do is to joke about it. But I understand why you must do so. Because you can't face the problem head on for what it really is.

But there is more. After these people die, according to Christian theology some of them, maybe most of them, will suffer eternal conscious torment forever in hell. This is where the other shoe drops.

Face the problem head on. There are people according to YOUR own theology who wish they had never been born.

Stop joking about this real situation from the standpoint of the silver spoons in your mouths.

You actually make me sick.

I do think it's sick to so glibly treat a serious issue of why GOD, not parents, brings people into existence. And I think it's ignorant to even hint that my argument is anywhere close to what David Wood says it is here. He even thinks I wish I never existed! He has even argued that, if I enjoy life, I "shouldn't constantly describe the world as if it's nothing but a cesspool of death, disease, and bloodshed." But that again, is nothing like what I'm saying. He just doesn't understand for some reason. There is good in the world. I enjoy life very much. My questions are about why so many people (other than me) have to suffer so much if there is a good God, and why this God created such a world when he knew in advance that these people will suffer like they do.

Speaking of my questions, that's all he thinks I'm doing, asking questions. He summarized my 20 minute opening statement by placing the following words in my mouth: "I asked 'why this?' and 'why that?' for twenty minutes without making a serious argument." If anyone can read my opening statement and come away thinking I never made a serious argument, he is intellectually challenged.

I have repeatedly asked Mr. Wood to state my argument in his own words, and the two times he tried to do so, he failed miserably. So I challenge him to do so again, if he responds here. For he cannot seriously interact with my argument until he can effectively state it. That's what scholars do before they argue against someone. First they lay out the other person's argument, so that everyone can see for themselves if he did so fairly, with no strawmen. And scholars must do so charitably too, giving it the most charitable interpretation. I suspect he refuses to do so because he cannot effectively argue against it. Whether that's the case or not is to be seen. Maybe I'm wrong on this. But because he misunderstands and misrepresents so much of what I'm saying, I doubt it.

David Wood responded:

"You actually make me sick."


If God exists, why would he make so many people who make me sick? A good God would have put us on different planets, so I wouldn't get sick thinking about you disgusting people and your logic and all that. If I had the choice between living in a world with you people, and not living at all, I'd rather not exist. But here again, God hasn't given me what I want. So I will fight against him with all my might, and I will teach him that no one denies John Loftus! No one!

My concern here is that David Wood is in a Ph.D program at Fordham University in Philosophy where he must logically evaluate arguments. When it comes to the problem of evil he shows little evidence that he can do this. I wonder what his professors would think of this? It does not speak well for Fordham University, in my opinion. What Mr. Wood is saying is filled with many strawmen arguments, including the informal fallacy of "horse laughter."

Then I responded one final time:

John Loftus said...
David, I guess your response either means 1) my questions are silly and have already been answered by you so the only fitting response is to laugh at me, even though my questions about existing are sincere ones, and even though I have never seen you even attempt to answer them, ever, or 2) you refuse to face head on what your theology commits you to, so you refuse to deal with it. If there are other options please let me know what they are.

Bottom tier buddy. Sorry. But that conclusion is inescapable.

Carry on then. Bring on more ridicule. When you actually want to deal with this problem, let me know.

When I referred to "bottom tier," here, I meant that he is in the bottom third tier of those who defend the Christian faith, which parallels his placing the Rational Response Squad in the bottom third tier of those who defend atheism.

There are probably about ten types of things Mr. Wood continues to argue that shows me he's not really dealing with the problem of evil head on, and which shows me he is in the bottom third tier of those Christians who defend the Christian faith.

Now is he worth my time or not? I've just spend some time here, haven't I? Well, then yes, and no. Maybe I'm still hoping that by bringing these things to the light it might help him to take a serious look at what I'm actually saying and respond as the budding respectful scholar he's supposed to be. But until he does, I can no longer take him seriously.