Dinesh D'Souza and Modesty

Dinesh D'Souza reports that Michael Shermer recommended his book What's So Great About Christianity, using these words: "Whatever your beliefs, you should read Dinesh's book...It is the best defense of Christianity that has ever been published."

Hmmm. Isn't that interesting? I wonder what the criteria was for Shermer to say that, since there have been some historically great defenses of Christianity down through the ages?

Anyway, D'Souza is trying to maintain some modesty, and he wrote about this struggle here.

In reporting on how most people thought he won his debate with Christopher Hitchens, D'Souza wrote:
Atheists like to think of themselves as akin to champions of the round earth, confronted by religious ignoramuses who keep insisting that the earth is flat. But is it even conceivable that a round-earth advocate should lose a debate to a flat-earth advocate? To put the question differently, if atheists are truly the party of reason, and believers like me are truly the party of "blind faith," how come reason keeps getting its butt kicked?
So, in order to help D'Souza maintain some modesty let me make a few comments about this.

For one thing, D'Souza hasn't debated people like Hector Avalos, John Beversluis, Keith Parsons, or me yet ;-)! D'Souza is planning on debating some of the top skeptics and saving them in an archive for future prosperity, so maybe he will! Besides, as far as I know people didn't conclude D'Souza decisively won his debates with Michael Shermer.

Debates do not decide the truth anyway. Few people are convinced because of watching a debate one way or another. They are entertaining and educational. They are a sparring match between two people, and that's it. Someone on one side can legitimately say the debater on the other side won the debate and still think his position is wrong for other reasons not stated by the person representing his side.

Anyway, I've read D'Souza's book and I must say it's premised to a very large extent on one big non-sequitur, and it's very interesting if he doesn't see it. He argues that Christianity has been good for western society; that it is growing in numbers in today's world; that it produced modern science; ended things like slavery; and was the foundation of limited government. He argues that atheism has been bad for society and that the Christian past isn't as bad as the atheist past.

Little of D'Souza's argument defends the claims of the Christian faith over against the claims of atheism, although he does argue that the supposed design in the world points to a creator.

The fact is that even if I grant him that Christianity has been good for western society in contrast to atheism (and I don't, not by a long shot), it does not follow from what he says that Christianity is true. Maybe true ideas produce bad results? Maybe delusionary beliefs produce good results? His is largely a pragmatic argument which first demands a defense of the Pragmatic theory of truth, and with it a denial of the Correspondence and Coherence theories of truth, something I think that as a Christian he wouldn't want to do, but of this I don't know.

I have challenged him to debate me. Maybe he won't do it. If not, I'd understand, after all, why would he risk losing a debate now? ;-)

Hi Dinesh!

48 comments:

Oliver said...

D'Souza once said in a debate against Daniel Dennett that he remains a Christian for two reasons: First Cause and Pascal's Wager. He actually referred to Pascal's Wager by name, as if there are no troubling implications of accepting the wager.

I hope he debates you guys at DC. I'd watch all of them.

Josh said...

While I have no doubt that you would win any debate with him, as oliver points out, D'Souza is hardly a reasonable person. He will claim victory no matter what, and the choir he is preaching to will believe him.

He also seems to have a strange epistemology, based on something like the argument from popularity, which is also what his latest post is about. Because he 'won every debate' he must be right. That's a non-sequitur. In every debate I've ever seen that included him was full of them. He obviously needs to take some lessons on logic.

Lamar said...

One problem I had with his whole book is the following: if you want to argue (as D'Souza does) that we need Christianity to be moral, then fine. Insult humanity all you want. Perhaps that is true.

But you simply cannot then go and say that therefore we must be Christian so we can enjoy the great values of Christianity, becuase in order for that argument to work at all, one has to take it as a premis, BEFORE accepting Christianity, that the moral values of Christianity are good. And if someone can do that (which D'Souza must assume) then we obviously don't need Christianity to value the good moral values of Christianity. In other words, the premis necessary for his argument to work actually proves his argument wrong!

I wrote a post about it on my blog if anyone's interested:

http://lhiii.blogspot.com/2008/01/whats-so-great-about-christianity.html

Lee Randolph said...

John,
please, if you do get to debate him, consider these topics:
* Establish criteria for acceptable evidence, then when he gets all wishy washy, apply that criteria for evidence to law, science, medicine, finding your way to an unfamiliar place, who broke the vase, who drank the last cup of coffee, etc
* Why should the bible be considered authoritative over any other religious texts.
* Why should personal experience have more weight than evidence when it comes to knowing that a thing exists.
* What evidence is there that an influence apart from biology is exerted over peoples behavior.

Then when he starts bending sound principles, apply the bent principle to applicable analogies and see if they pass "the reality check".

Bugger_Butt said...

There is no doubt that atheists get their feathers ruffled when they lose a debate. All the excuses start flying: "It wasn't a written debate", "Craig is a better speaker so he only looked like the winner", etc. etc.

D'Souza is exactly right in this case; if you guys are the champions of reason that you claim to be then you should own every debate, oral or written. Such is not the case.

And, my irony meter exploded when I heard you, John, talking about someone else's modesty.

Steven Carr said...

This round earth/flat earth analogy is interesing.

Stalin and Hitler believed in a round earth.

Therefore the world is flat.

I think I have caught the spirit of D'Souza's arguments for Christianity.

Steven Carr said...

I have a debate on the resurrection at resurrection debate and a whole page of debates at Debates

The Christians tend to put up pitiful showings

In one case reduced to claiming that lunatics can levitate...

Robert_B said...

bugger_butt typed "D'Souza is exactly right in this case; if you guys are the champions of reason that you claim to be then you should own every debate, oral or written. Such is not the case."

D'Souza argues from Christianity's false definition of morality and contested allegations of superior efficacious practical behavioral applications when the question at issue is whether the claims of Christianity are true or not. Thus D'Souza cannot have won any debates on the issue of the truth of Christianity because he does not argue that Christianity is true.

To be true, an idea must be in accordance with the actual state or conditions and conform to reality or fact. The issue of whether Christianity's claims are true can be easily decided by evaluation of those claims in light of the available evidence. Christianity claims the literary character Jesus of Nazareth meets the Old Testament prophetic conditions to be the Jewish Messiah. The evidences for that claim are contained in the canonical Gospels. The prophecies are contained in the Old Testament.

A karaite Rabbi named Issac ben Abraham wrote a book in 1593 called the Chizzuk Emunah that completely and thoroughly destroys Christianity's claims that its god, Jesus of Nazareth, was also the Jewish messiah by comparing the former claims with the later prophetic utterances. The book is fully available on Google Books as "Ḥizuk Emunah (romanized Form): Or, Faith Strengthened". This version is an abridged English translation that was printed in 1851. Chizzuk Enumah is also available online at Faith Strengthened.org

The following is from faithstrengthened.org and explains how Jesus did not fulfill the main criteria necessary to be Jewish messiah.

"I was once asked by a Christian scholar, "Why do you Jews refuse to believe that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, evidence concerning him having been given by the true prophets, in whose words you also believe?"

And this is the answer which I gave him: How is it possible for us to believe that he was the Messiah, as we do not see any actual proof of his Messiahship throughout the prophetic writings. As for the passages which the authors of the Gospel adduce from the words of the prophets, to demonstrate that Jesus the Nazarene was the Messiah, they advance nothing relating to him, as will be shown in the second part of this work, in which we shall, in regular succession, point out the fallacies set forth in the Gospel. On the other hand, we shall see many incontrovertible proofs in support of our conviction that Jesus was by no means the Messiah. A few of these arguments may be here introduced,

He was not the Messiah is evident:--

1st, from his pedigree;

2ndly, from his acts;

3rdly, from the period in which he lived; and

4thly, from the fact that, during his existence, the promises were not fulfilled which are to be realized on the advent of the expected Messiah, whereas the fulfillment of the conditions alone can warrant a belief in the identity of the Messiah.

1st. As to the pedigree of Jesus, he was not a descendant of David, being merely affiliated to him through Joseph, as is testified in the Gospel. For in Matthew, chapter 1, it is written, that Jesus was born of Mary during her virginity, and that Joseph knew her not until she had given birth to Jesus. According to this statement, the pedigree of Joseph can be of no avail to Jesus, and at the same time it is quite evident that the ancestry of Mary was unknown to the authors of the Gospel. But even the relationship of Joseph to David is wanting in proof, there being a discrepancy between Matthew and Luke in their account of his pedigree, which appears clearly, when we compare the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 1, with that of Luke, at the end of chapter 3. Here we see conflicting testimonies; and where that is the case no belief can be attached to either statement. The prophets, on the contrary, predicted to us that the expected Messiah should be no other than a descendant of David.

2ndly. As to the works of Jesus, we find that He says of himself, Matthew 10:34, "Think not that I am come to make peace on earth; I came not to send peace but the sword, and to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." On the other hand, we find Holy Writ attributing to the true and expected Messiah actions contrary to those of Jesus. We see here that Jesus says of himself, he is not come to make peace on earth, whereas Scripture says of the true and expected Messiah, in Zechariah 9:10, ''And he shall speak peace unto the heathen," etc. Jesus says he came in order "to send the sword on earth," but Scripture says, Isaiah 2:4, "And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Jesus says he came "to put father and son at variance," etc, but Malachi says (at the end of his book) that "before the coming of the true Messiah the prophet Elijah shall appear, and turn the heart of the fathers to their children, and the heart of the children to their fathers." Jesus says, concerning himself, Matthew 20:28, that he is not come to be served by the son of man, but to serve others. Concerning the true Messiah, however, Scripture says, Psalm 72:11, "Yea, all kings shall prostrate themselves before him; all nations shall serve him." And Zechariah 9:10, "His dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the end of the earth." Thus states also Daniel, 7:27, "And all rulers shall serve him and obey him."

3rdly. As to the period of his existence, it is evident that he did not come at the time foretold by the prophets; for they predicted the advent of the Messiah to happen at the latter days, see Isaiah 2:2, "And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains," etc. Further we read there, verse 4, concerning the king Messiah, "And he shall judge among the nations and arbitrate among many people, and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruninghooks," etc. Thus is also recorded in Scripture concerning the wars of Gog and Magog, which are to take place in the time of the king Messiah. Vide Ezekiel 38:8, "After many days thou shalt be visited; in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword," as will be explained in the proper place. The same is evident from Hosea, 3:5, "Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and shall revere the Lord and His goodness in the latter days." So we read also in Daniel 2:28, "And (God) maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days." Which passage refers to the subsequent prophecy, ibid verse 44, "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the sovereignty shall not be left to other people," etc. Hence we see clearly that the prophets predicted that the coming of the true Messiah would happen at the " latter days," and not before.

4thly. We have to consider the promises contained in the words of the prophets, which were not fulfilled in the time of Jesus, but are to be realized in future at the time of the true Messiah, who is still expected. They may be classed under the following heads:-

(a.) At the time of the king Messiah there is to be only one kingdom and one king, namely, the true king Messiah. But the other empires and their rulers shall cease at that period, as we read in Daniel 2:44, "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." Whereas, we now actually see that many empires, different in their laws and habits, are still in existence; and that in each empire a different king is ruling; consequently the Messiah is not yet come.

(b.) At the time of the king Messiah, there is to be in the world but one creed and one religion, and that is the religion of Israel, as is proved by Isaiah (52:1), "Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean." And further (chapter 66:17), "Who sanctify themselves and purify themselves [we prefer the literal translation of this obscure passage to the unwarranted and still more obscure translation of the Authorised Version] in the gardens, behind one in the midst of them who eat the flesh of the swine, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together saith the Lord." "And (verse 23) it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come and worship before me, saith the Lord." Moreover, it is written in Zechariah (14:16), "And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles." In the same book (chapter 8:23) we read, "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men of nations of diverse languages shall take hold, even shall take hold of the skirt of a Jew [Authorised Version renders it "of him that is a Jew"], saying, We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you." There are many other passages in that book to the same effect.

(c.) At the time of the Messiah, the idolatrous images and their memorial, as also the false prophets and the spirit of profanity are to vanish from the earth, as may be seen in Zechariah 13:2, "And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols from the earth, and they shall no more be remembered, also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit [literally 'the spirit of uncleanliness'] to pass away from the earth." So also it is written in Isaiah 2:18, "And the idols he shall utterly abolish." So it is also said in Zephaniah 2:11, "The Lord will be terrible unto them, for he will cause all the gods of the earth to waste away, and men shall worship Him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen."

(d.) At the time of the Messiah, there will be no sins and iniquities in the world, particularly not among the Israelitish nation. Thus we find in the law (Deuteronomy 30:6), "And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart and the heart of thy seed to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live." Again, in Zephaniah 3:13, "The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies, neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth." Again, in Jeremiah 3:17, "At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem, neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart." Again, in Ezekiel 36:25, "And I will sprinkle clean water upon you: from all your impurity, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. And I will give unto you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them." Moreover, see Ezekiel 37:23, "Neither shall they defile themselves any more with the idols nor with their abominations, nor with their transgressions, and I will save them out of all their dwelling-places wherein they have sinned, and I will cleanse them, and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, and David my servant shall be king over them, and they shall have one shepherd, and they shall walk in my judgments and observe my statutes and do them."

(e.) At the time of the king Messiah and after the war with Gog and Magog there will be peace and tranquility throughout the world, and men will no longer require any weapons of war. So it is written in Isaiah 2:4, "And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." See also Ezekiel 39:9, "And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire seven years (ibid verse 10) so that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests, for with the weapons shall they kindle the fire." With these words agrees the prophecy of Hosea 2:20, according to the division of chapters in the Hebrew Bibles, (in the English version it is chapter 2 verse 18) "And I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and I will make them to lie down safely." So says also Zechariah 9:10, "And the battlebow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace unto the heathen," etc.

(f.) At the time of the king Messiah there will be peace in the Holy Land between the ferocious and domestic animals, so that they will not injure each other, and much less injure a human being, as is evident from the following prophecies of Isaiah 11:6, "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion, and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them." (Verse 7) "And the cow and the bear shall feed together; their young ones shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox." (Verse 8) "And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den." (Verse 9) "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord," etc. and (ibid 65:25) "And the wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock, and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord." (See also Ezekiel 34:25) "And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land, and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods." (Verse 28) "And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them," etc. (See also Hosea 2:20, or in the English version, 18) "And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground," etc.

(g.) At the time of the Messiah there will be no troubles, cares, and anxieties, among the restored Israelites, who will then be blessed with a prolonged and more happy life, as is foretold in the following passages of Isaiah (65:16). "He who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth, and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth, because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes. (Verse 19) "And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people, and the voice of weeping shall no more be heard in her, nor the voice of crying." (Verse 20) "There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days, for the child shall die a hundred years old, but the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed." (Verse 21) "And they shall build houses and inhabit them, and they shall plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them." (Verse 22) "They shall not build and another inhabit, they shall not plant and another eat, for as the days of a tree shall be the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands."

(h.) At the time of the Messiah the Shechinah (effulgency of divine presence) shall return to Israel as in former days, and the people of Israel increase in prophecy, wisdom, and knowledge, as may be seen by the following quotations from the prophets. (Ezekiel 37:26) "Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will establish and multiply them, and set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore." (Verse 27) "My residence also shall be among them. Yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people." (Verse 28) "And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore." (Ibid 39:29) "Neither will I hide my face any more from them, for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God." (Ibid 43:7) "And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever," etc. (Ibid 48:35) "And the name of the city from that day shall be, ‘The Lord is there’" (Joel 2:27) "And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and there is none else; and my people shall never be ashamed." (Ibid 3:1), in the English Version 2:28) "And it shall come to pass afterwards, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." (Ibid 3:17) "So ye shall know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through it any more." (Ibid 3:21) "For I will avenge their blood that I had not avenged, for the Lord dwelleth in Zion." (Zechariah 2:14; in the English Version, 2:10) "Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for, lo! I come and dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord." (Isaiah 11:9) "For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." (Jeremiah 31:34) "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall know me, from the lowest of them to the highest, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more."

The above indications pointed out by the prophets as indispensable attributes of the true Messiah, have not been fulfilled in Jesus the Nazarene. Nor have we hitherto seen realized the prophetic assurances already named, or others that we have omitted, to avoid prolixity. And we therefore arrive at the just conclusion, that the true and expected Messiah has not yet come. In him alone all the predicted attributes undoubtedly will be manifested, and through him alone and in no other way, the scriptural promises will be accomplished."
*************************

Since D'Souza argues against strawmen and for non-essential ancillary positions with no bearing upon the issue of truth vs falsehood of Christianity, his silly claims are Non Sequitur.

exapologist said...

Hmm. I don't think theists win every debate (cf. Draper v. Craig, Draper vs. Plantinga, Tooley vs. Craig, Sinnott-Armstrong vs. Craig, Smart vs. Haldane, etc.). But I guess I'm not seeing the connection between truth and debate -- that is, debate of the sort that people learn from high school and college. Those have to do with a certain set of skills that aren't tightly connected to truth (point-scoring, rhetorical skills, etc.) After all, it's not as though scientists and philosophers practice their discipline by having formal debates to determine who's right.

Craig works in my discipline (philosophy), and his arguments for God don't fare so well in the peer-reviewed journals. so whether he manages to convince some lay-people in a debate, he doesn't "win" where it matters.

In science, the relevant issue is whether you have a successful theory -- one that explains the data better than the others, one that makes novel predictions, one that suggests new lines of research, etc. Is Christianity "winning" here?

John said...

I don't see what good comes out of debating fools like this. I really don't. It serves no purpose but to imply that their positions are actually worthy of debate.

John W. Loftus said...

Dinesh just wrote me this:

I'm open to the idea of debating you, if we can find a good sponsor and a good venue...Let's keep an eye out for suitable opportunities.

He also said, I was being ironic and a bit satirical in celebrating my own (imperiled) modesty.

Josh said...

exapologist,

You said:

Craig works in my discipline (philosophy), and his arguments for God don't fare so well in the peer-reviewed journals. so whether he manages to convince some lay-people in a debate, he doesn't "win" where it matters.

A better way to put would be "where it matters to you."

Lay-people are not going to pick up a peer-reviewed philosophy journal to learn his arguments. They may pick up a book, or go to one of these debates. That experience will completely define not only what they think about his arguments, but what they think about our own arguments.

I wouldn't debate Craig, or D'Souza for that matter, because I thought they would be able to change my mind, or in order to get them to see the error of their ways. That'll never happen. I would debate them in hopes of changing the minds of the people who are watching the debate.

D'Souza is an idiot, but if the 'crowds' side with him, we have a serious problem. Truth doesn't matter in that case, and that scares the hell out of me.

NAL said...

Sponsor? As in "get paid?" Do the debaters get a stipend? All expenses paid?

Please post the audio/video for downloading to iPods.

exapologist said...

D'Souza is an idiot, but if the 'crowds' side with him, we have a serious problem. Truth doesn't matter in that case, and that scares the hell out of me.

Me too!

Bugger_Butt said...

Craig works in my discipline (philosophy), and his arguments for God don't fare so well in the peer-reviewed journals. so whether he manages to convince some lay-people in a debate, he doesn't "win" where it matters.

Another "intellectual bully" running about on the internet, I see. It's actually a load of crap coming from you as better philosophers than you respect Craig's work (one being Quentin Smith) and person (and would never call him intellectually dishonest). There are many current philosophers who do have work in peer reviewed philo journals and such that promote many of the theistic arguments. There are always going to be replies and then replies to those replies. It's not always the last word that matters and you are not going to change the world and convince them of how rational you and atheism are.

BTW, I did not say that theists win every debate, they certainly don't (I don't see how Draper beat Plantinga however) and that doesn't matter. You win some and lose some. Anyone with a degree in philosophy could beat me at a debate. The point is that if atheists were the champions of reason that they seem to proclaim so much, that theists would not win any debates. All your bs talk and putting theists down because some cater to a lay men audience is arrogant and short-sided. If you feel Craig is so unworthy, then step away from the blog world, pull out your real identity and have a go.

Richard R. said...

D'Souza "argues that Christianity has been good for western society; that it is growing in numbers in today's world; that it produced modern science; ended things like slavery; and was the foundation of limited government. He argues that atheism has been bad for society and that the Christian past isn't as bad as the atheist past."

This is standard Christian fare in that they take full credit for all developments deemed positive, but deflect responsibility onto others for any developments deemed negative.

Thus, I fully expect, in maybe a hundred years, they will take full credit for ending the persecution of gay people. But the truth, as we know, is that they are being dragged kicking and screaming toward acceptance of gays by the more secular part of society.

klas_klazon said...

"Thus, I fully expect, in maybe a hundred years, they will take full credit for ending the persecution of gay people. But the truth, as we know, is that they are being dragged kicking and screaming toward acceptance of gays by the more secular part of society."

That's why I hope someone in our time will write a book documenting how the religious only very, very reluctantly are accepting homosexuals.

exapologist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
exapologist said...

Another "intellectual bully" running about on the internet, I see. It's actually a load of crap coming from you as better philosophers than you respect Craig's work (one being Quentin Smith) and person (and would never call him intellectually dishonest). There are many current philosophers who do have work in peer reviewed philo journals and such that promote many of the theistic arguments. There are always going to be replies and then replies to those replies. It's not always the last word that matters and you are not going to change the world and convince them of how rational you and atheism are.

I guess it's not for me to say whether I'm an intellectual bully or not, and you're certainly right that Quentin Smith is a better philosopher than I. However, I don't throw around charges of intellectual dishonesty lightly; nor do I argue that all Christian philosophers do shoddy or dishonest work. A good number of my friends and colleagues are Christian -- or at least theistic -- philosophers, and they're not only a great bunch of people, but they do top notch work. And if you visit my blog, you'll see that in the last month alone, I've written four posts devoted to highlighting particular Christian philosophers and recommending their excellent work (this month, the ones I've spotlighted are Michael J. Murray, Timothy O'Connor, Michael C. Rea, and Linda Zagzebski).

Mike Almeida, Dean Zimmerman, John Hawthorne, Daniel Howard-Snyder, William Alston, Peter van Inwagen, Michael Rea, Michael Bergmann, Thomas Crisp -- I could keep going for a good long while -- are Christians who do excellent philosophical work, and who are also great people.

So it is not as though I'm criticizing christian philosophers in virtue of being Christian philosophers. But William Lane Craig isn't always on the level. I say this as someone who was a Craig acolyte for over ten years. Sorry, but I call them as I see them, and I'm certainly not alone among philsophers -- whether christian or non-christian, by the way -- who thinks so. See, for example, Clayton Littlejohn's comments on this matter in the threads at Dangerous Idea. He's a young up-and-coming philosopher who does excellent philosophical work, and who is friends with many Christian philosophers and praises their work when deserved. However, he comes down with the same verdict as I when it comes to William Lane Craig.

Bugger_Butt said...

But William Lane Craig isn't always on the level. I say this as someone who was a Craig acolyte for over ten years. Sorry, but I call them as I see them, and I'm certainly not alone among philsophers -- whether christian or non-christian, by the way -- who thinks so.

You may not be alone, but that doesn't mean much. Craig wrote a chapter for The Cambridge Companion To Atheism (I think ch. 4). I'd say that's pretty damn good for a scholar that's not always on the up and up as you claim. Obviously some very esteemed philosophers don't mind being acquainted with Craig. It would seem if he was so dishonest, that Michael Martin, et al would want another representative for theism. You can stand behind something all you like -- and be very wrong about it.

sconnor said...

Dinesh said about his article, How I Became So Modest I was being ironic and a bit satirical in celebrating my own (imperiled) modesty.

A bit satirical? More like oxymoronic. His article was the rant of a humble egotist.

--S.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Bugger_butt,
How does it follow that because Craig got an article in that book...etc...?

If Craigs argument is bad, but thats "as good as it gets" on the christian side, then why wouldn't the opposing view be represented by Craig in a Cambridge book, presuming that an opposing view was the intent of its inclusion?

Shygetz said...

bugger_butt said: D'Souza is exactly right in this case; if you guys are the champions of reason that you claim to be then you should own every debate, oral or written. Such is not the case.

Which is why wrong ideas never win support in the public sphere. Look far and look wide, and you will never find an incorrect idea winning popular support due to more skillful speakers, irrational arguments from consequences, and other logically faulty but emotionally appealing arguments. Flat-earthism itself only managed to stick around in educated Christian circles a mere 900 years after the earth was proven to be round; surely it disappeared from the non-scholarly circles just as fast.

As a case in reference, you will NEVER find Creationists winning public acclaim from debates against scientists, even though many of the audience members are personally emotionally invested in Creationism being true because of their personal beliefs, because all of the facts are on the scientists' side. No Creationist has ever been perceived by the audience as winning a debate. Creationism hasn't poked its head up in popular circles since the days of Darwin, and we shall never see its like again.

Does it cause you physical pain to be so very wrong, bugger_butt?

bob said...

bugger_butt said - "The point is that if atheists were the champions of reason that they seem to proclaim so much, that theists would not win any debates."

Could there be a more stupid claim? Who is doing the judging?

I have viewed numerous debates in which I was mildly embarrassed at the "performance" of the atheist, but still concluded that his argument was more sound than the theist.

Bugger_Butt said...

Could there be a more stupid claim? Who is doing the judging?

Well obviously it's the atheists. I mean no one told you that atheists are champions of reason and they and they alone decide what is rational and who wins a debate? Step up to the new atheism my friend. If you can't win on merit, win on writing popular books.

I have viewed numerous debates in which I was mildly embarrassed at the "performance" of the atheist, but still concluded that his argument was more sound than the theist.

Ahh...the old "The theist won on prose but the atheist won on content" excuse. Hopefully my response won't entail a long-winded response from robert_b who uses such phrases as, "contested allegations of superior efficacious practical behavioral applications". I mean, I learned to steer clear of those that stir their waters to make them appear deep. At any rate, stop with the excuses, atheists nor theists win every debate and the debate will continue despite your heated internet musings, blogs, message boards, etc.

Winning a debate on the internet is like having Jeopardy for people with IQs below 50; no matter who wins they are still dumb.

And it's not that I don't like this blog. I look at it quite often and have for years. There are some good points here and I have thought about many things said here. But what is needed is more honesty and less arrogance.

Shygetz said...

But what is needed is more honesty and less arrogance.

Christians say "God has properties A, B, and C and has performed historical acts X, Y, and Z." Atheists say "Show me the evidence; otherwise, there's no way you can know that." I just LOVE it when people who claim to know the identity, actions and purpose of god(s) call those who proclaim ignorance of such matters "arrogant". Irony is a dish best served unintentionally.

Steven Carr said...

People like William Lane Craig can write things like ' God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel.'

Wow! Craig can tell us what his alleged god knew would happen in a hypothetical future that never came to pass.

How does Craig know what his alleged god did or did not know would happen in an alternative universe?

He simply made it up and then claimed that it was what 'God knew'.

The absolute arrogance of Craig is beyond ridicule.

But we have a new prophet in our midst who can tell you the mind of God.

All you have to do is sign up for the free newsletter, and William Lane Craig will tell you the mind of God on a regular basis.

How's that for a bargain?

Ruthie said...

The thing that made me reject D'souza's book outright was when I flipped to the chapter when he argues, in response to the atheist claim that religion in general and Christianity specifically has been the cause of most of the murder and wars throughout history, that in fact atheism has caused more deaths. He cites Stalin, Mao and Hitler as the great atheist mass murderers.

If anyone knows anything about Hitler, you should be saying, "Wait, what?" Because while Stalin and Mao I'll give him, who were proclaimed atheists who indeed committed mass murder of religious citizens in their power, there's something that most Chrisitans hate to admit but which they can't avoid:
Hitler was one of them.

Hitler, much as the vast majority of modern Christians hate to admit it, was Christian. He was born and baptized Catholic, and he was never excommunicated or in bad standing until he committed the unforgivable sin of suicide. He professed his Christian faith frequently and cited it as his inspiration for his extermination campaign; in fact he said it was his duty AS A CHRISTIAN to make war against the Jews. He believed in Jesus. He included Christianity in Mein Kampf and in his platform for the Nazi party. Modern Neo-Nazis and white-power members often view themselves very much as Christians doing "good work".

Obviously this is not "mainstream" Christianity as we know it now and it had (and still has) horrific consequences. But this is in fact a denomination. It's still about Jesus and Christianity. Some argue Hitler wasn't a "true Christian" or that what he did was a subversion of the "real Christian way" and that may or may not be true, but he was in no way an atheist and he drew inspiration from the Christian tradition.

D'souza should know this, if he's writing a book about it. It's not like it's uncommon knowledge. But "Hitler denial" and "Nazi denial" is common amongst those who don't like to associate the reality of Hitler's beliefs and their results with their own, often intolerant, religion. And frankly, again, if he's writing a book about it and making money because of it he is not allowed "ignorance" as an excuse, being generous and assuming it was a mistake instead of a deliberate act of misinformation.

So in terms of that aspect of his argument and book, take 6 million off the atheist body count and add 6 million to the Christian body count. Who loses the "better/worse for mankind" contest now?

Steven Carr said...

'The thing that made me reject D'souza's book outright was when I flipped to the chapter when he argues, in response to the atheist claim that religion in general and Christianity specifically has been the cause of most of the murder and wars throughout history,'

Suppose D'Souza was right.

His argument is still not sensible.

It is like arguing that driving while drunk is fine, because look at all the accidents caused by sober drivers.

Still, Muslims will be pleased that D'Souza is not one of those Christians who claim Islam was spread by the sword.

After all, no war has ever been fought to advance a religion.

All those Christian claims about Islam being spread by the sword are baloney, as even Christians like D'Souza scoff at the idea.

sconnor said...

Bugger Butt said, There are some good points here and I have thought about many things said here. But what is needed is more honesty and less arrogance.

Isn't it ironic that the Christian club you belong to -- professes humility, all the while condemning scientists or the non-religious of arrogances? When, in fact, your world view revels in egregious arrogance: "our triune Christian God is the one and only true God and is the creator of the universe who, takes an interest in me, loves me, accepts me, will reward me with the blissful pleasures of heaven, after my death; all my beliefs, extracted from scripture, will always be the best statement of truth, forever and anyone who disagrees with me will be tortured in the flames of hell, for an eternity."

This is a level of delusional, arrogance and superiority that is astonishing.

Paraphrased from, The End Of Faith

--S.

david said...

Someone may have already posted the Hitchens debate, but here it is if not:

http://www.isi.org/lectures/flvplayer/lectureplayer.aspx?file=v000187_cicero_102207.flv

Bugger_Butt said...

Isn't it ironic that the Christian club you belong to -- professes humility, all the while condemning scientists or the non-religious of arrogances?

You have no idea what "Christian club", if any, that I belong to. You are just another in a long line of ignorant atheists and/or non-believers that assumes one thing and goes with it. And to think that you would quote Sam Harris' book tells me that you have little actual critical thinking skills and believe whatever you read.

And yes...I have The end of Faith, Letter to A Christian Nation, The God Delusion, and God is Not Great.

sconnor said...

Butt,

Oh then you don't believe that the triune Christian God is the one and only true God and is the creator of the universe who, takes an interest in you, loves you, accepts you, and will reward you with the blissful, pleasures of heaven, after your death? You don't believe in scripture, and it will always be the best statement of truth, forever and anyone who disagrees with you will be tortured in the flames of hell, for an eternity.?

Do tell.

--S.

Bugger_Butt said...

Oh then you don't believe that the triune Christian God is the one and only true God and is the creator of the universe who, takes an interest in you, loves you, accepts you, and will reward you with the blissful, pleasures of heaven, after your death? You don't believe in scripture, and it will always be the best statement of truth, forever and anyone who disagrees with you will be tortured in the flames of hell, for an eternity.?

Do tell.


No, I don't. There, I did tell.

sconnor said...

Do tell.

No, I don't. There, I did tell.

Ah, a loquacious, bullshitter, who cowers under his comfy-cozy, bunker, where he keeps his, not so strong beliefs, hidden from scrutiny, as to not undo him.

--S.

Bugger_Butt said...

Ah, a loquacious, bullshitter, who cowers under his comfy-cozy, bunker, where he keeps his, not so strong beliefs, hidden from scrutiny, as to not undo him.

I see. So YOU make an assumption about my beliefs and YOU are WRONG and because YOU are WRONG, YOU start insulting me?

You never asked what I believed, you assumed it. Furthermore, I feel no need to share my beliefs with you or anyone else here to be examined or scrutinized. I know what I believe and I don't need your opinion on the matter so why don't you move along and go and be WRONG about someone else.

exapologist said...

Please don't feed the trolls.

Bugger_Butt said...

Please don't feed the trolls.

I try not to but sometimes their comments need addressing when they are so off the mark.

sconnor said...

Butt,

I see. So YOU make an assumption about my beliefs and YOU are WRONG and because YOU are WRONG, YOU start insulting me?

You never asked what I believed, you assumed it. Furthermore, I feel no need to share my beliefs with you or anyone else here to be examined or scrutinized. I know what I believe and I don't need your opinion on the matter so why don't you move along and go and be WRONG about someone else.


Yeah, let's go with that fanatically irrational, rationalization.

First, I didn't insult you. Everything I said is true. You hide your beliefs. You are a coward and you are a bullshitter -- all very apparent by your answers.

Second, I did ask you. Remember when I said, Do tell?

You chose to answer with a non-answer, only bolstering your cowardice.

Thirdly, I suspect, I am more right, then wrong, otherwise, you would have shared with me why I was wrong. Maybe you are a Unitarian Universalist, but I doubt it. What's perectly clear, is you won't share, only leaving us to ponder why. I say you are a poltroon, cowering under the skirt of deception and manufactured mystery and you have zero to offer this discussion.

--S.

Bugger_Butt said...

First, I didn't insult you. Everything I said is true. You hide your beliefs. You are a coward and you are a bullshitter -- all very apparent by your answers.

You keep believing your own hype.

Second, I did ask you. Remember when I said, Do tell?

I remember, but apparently you don't. You outlined a series of beliefs and asked if I believed in those. I replied, "No." You did not ask what I believed.

You chose to answer with a non-answer, only bolstering your cowardice.

Boy, you put some people behind a keyboard and they turn into you.

Thirdly, I suspect, I am more right, then wrong, otherwise, you would have shared with me why I was wrong. Maybe you are a Unitarian Universalist, but I doubt it. What's perectly clear, is you won't share, only leaving us to ponder why. I say you are a poltroon, cowering under the skirt of deception and manufactured mystery and you have zero to offer this discussion.

Much like I said, I feel no need to share what I believe anymore than exapologist feels a need to reveal his identity. I could care less what you think because you are some person behind some keyboard who suddenly becomes ten feet tall with empty words. Your opinion means about as much to me as some stranger in the mall walking by me.

Here are the facts: You have no clue what I believe, whether I am a theist, deist, agnostic, etc. About all you do know is that I am NOT an atheist. You are about as ignorant as they come which makes me even less likely to share anything with you. If I am going to have a discussion it will be with someone with much more intelligence than yourself. So I guess I'll see ya, if it makes you feel better, you can have the last word.

exapologist said...

I try not to but sometimes their comments need addressing when they are so off the mark.

I wasn't referring to sconnor.

Bugger_Butt said...

I wasn't referring to sconnor.

Yeah, I know. That should probably tell you something (why you think I am trolling seems a bit strange).

By the way, I actually enjoyed your exchange some time ago with Alan Rhoda on abstracta and God's mind, did you learn much?

sconnor said...

Butt,

Butt said, Your opinion means about as much to me as some stranger in the mall walking by me.

And yet, you continue to rant in the ear of that stranger, incessantly, babbling on.

Methinks you doth protest too much and the protesting you doth, is nothing but meaningless excuses, cowardly pontificating, and delirious diverging.

Exapologist said, I wasn't referring to sconnor.

Butt replided, Yeah, I know. That should probably tell you something.

You -- know -- now.

Butt relinquished and said, you can have the last word.

And also observed, That should probably tell you something.

Hmmmm, I wonder what that tells us?
Since you're giving me the last word, how about this -- you're an asshole, suffering from delusions of grandeur, playing chicken-shit, peek-a-boo games, with your beliefs.

'Bye.

--S.

goprairie said...

when someone will not tell me what they believe, it is usually because they know their beliefs cannot stand up to my ability to argue and debunk them. only those secure enough in what they believe who have confidence that they can defend it are willing to take a stand and declare what they believe.
a person who argues against statements you have made but has made no concrete declarative statements of their own to counter does not play a fair game. they can imply, by what they argue, that they beleive a certain thing, but when you argue against what they have implied they believe, and seem to be winning, they can pull the rug out by saying 'oh i never really beleived that and i never said i did'. you are right, it IS a chicken game and we should have policy here of debating and discussing only with humans willing to take a stand and not with chickens. i will not name names, but we have seen some who come back again and again and do this while refusing to answer to what they believe. some write lengthy obtuse things on their websites and send us there instead of answering simple questions about a belief. some of them hide behind friendly chipper personal greetings and argue against things while offering no real statements of what they believe. they ARE trolls and should be ignored as such, but it is difficult to do when they pick and provoke.

Bugger_Butt said...

when someone will not tell me what they believe, it is usually because they know their beliefs cannot stand up to my ability to argue and debunk them.

There goes my bull crap meter again. What makes you so special that your opinion of my views would make me care? I have already read critiques by Hume, Russell, Michael Martin, Quentin Smith, et al so what makes you better than them?

Your whole problem is that you see debate, not as a learning process, but as a winning or losing type of deal. And of course your mind is already made up as to who the winner is. Share my views with a bunch of village atheists? No thanks. I'd much rather sit back and point out how ignorant many of you are. You would think that you would learn something but apparently some of you are so obtuse and have such a (undue) high opinion of yourself and your ability to argue and debate, you are well beyond reproach,

sconnor said...

Goprairie,

I agree. Isn't it curious, that Butt argues atheists have an undue high opinion of themselves, which is exactly what he is guilty of? Evidently, his argument is we are intellectually challenged and have zero to offer his over-inflated ego, because he has stuffed his mind with intellectual giant like Hume, Russell...etc.

Which begs the question, if he doesn't want feedback or discourse with a bunch of village atheists at DC, and we are all moronic and intellectually inferior to the super-genius Butt, then -- why - is - he - here?

He sure is spending an inordinate amount of time, stomping around like a two year old, claiming he is far more superior to us, the lowly atheist (without any credible back-up), while, he relentlessly, guards his insipid beliefs, by being morbidly illusive and entirely evasive.

He's worse than a fundamentalist, because at least they can lay their delusional beliefs on the line, with the intellectual and non-intellectual, alike.

--S.

goprairie said...

Not having even a basic idea of the definition or purpose of debate, i wonder if he is perhaps not about 14 or at least in an arrested state of development around that age? He seems to be offended by people who have beliefs that they have thought about enough that they hold them strongly enough to argue for. Interesting that he is not proud enough of his own thought processes or confident enough in his own views to state them clearly. And it IS very odd that he has stated that he is leaving yet won't go away. I wonder what that means? Like a kid who gets mad and says he is going home and then hangs around hoping someone will ask him back in the game. How lame is that? But then his pseudonym he has given himself makes you wonder how much pride or self confidence he has anyway. I think he is merely out to shock and offend like the toddler who cusses to see what will happen or the 6th grader who implies to his parents he smoked at school when he really didn't have the nerve to but wants them to think he is the cool rebel and wants to see how they will react to that. Isn't it fun playing amatuer psychologist to the religious kooks?

Carbon Based said...

Is it possible "Bugger_Butt" is a catholic priest? And his refusal to declare his beliefs would reveal that fact? :)