My Talents, Goals and Target Audience

I carry on various discussions via emails, blogs and on Facebook. Here's an interesting one that took place recently over at Vox Popoli that I'll pick up in midstream:

Just some guy wrote:
Again, the importance of reading what opponents of Christianity have to say is important for Christians, just as it's important for atheists to read up on what theists argue. But just as one can do a lot better than, say.. Jim Bakker for "Christian arguments", one can do a lot better than Loftus for atheist arguments
I responded:
One thing you should know is that I'm taking scholarship down to the level of the university student. I'm able to explain their arguments in ways that students in the universities can understand. I do this on purpose. I aim to reach more people with good scholarship than the scholars can reach because they write over people's heads. But precisely because you can understand me you think you can so easily dismiss my arguments. Okay, I guess.

But the scholars know better. They know my arguments are scholarly without being over people's heads. It seems as though people like you think that if you can understand me you have the educational background to argue with me. But you don't. So when many different scholars on both sides of the fence say my arguments are good ones, I would think you should take heed. This is a puzzling phenomenon to me. I compare it to a Bible thumping teenager who thinks he can argue against me because all he needs to do is quote from the Bible to show me I'm wrong. See how easy that was? See how little that atheist knows? He don't know jack sh*t.

While that is an exaggeration to make a point, the point is that if scholars from both sides say my book is an important one then if you think it's no better than reading the arguments of Jim Bakker this is much more telling on you than it is about my arguments.

You think you're better able to judge these things than they are, and you and others have already found ways to dismiss what they say. It seems to me that you cannot understand the force of my arguments until you're at least up to speed educationally. Of that you will not agree, that is, until you are better educated. This isn't to say you will agree once you become better educated. It's just that you'll see what these scholars see that you fail to see right now.
Amigo responded:
Yeah...that's it. It's not because these guys are your friends from seminary or have become your friends at SBL meetings and such, is it? Or because you send them copies and then cut and paste the parts of their blurb that you like (something that I'm not condemning since it's common practice)? It couldn't be that they find your book the best of the bunch, but still not very convincing? I guess the Christian friends (I mean professors) who support your book are simply among the deluded as well and incapable of fully understanding your argument. Those deluded ignorants! At least you can still use their blurbs, right?

Almost monthly there is a new "five views" book, or a new collection of essays on theism/atheism with contributors from both sides of the issue. Some of these books include some of your friends (Linville, Sennett, Giesler, Craig, etc.), yet I haven't seen your name and arguments included in any of them...I wonder why these contributions would miss the opportunity to include the end-all-be-all of atheist apologists if the arguments were so convincing. It's a shame that your devastating arguments can't reach the masses but are confined to "academic" publishers like PB. I guess all of the big publishers are just deluded as well.
I responded:
I'm the new kid on the block, okay? Who knows what the future will bring? But if one of these publishers wants to edit a book on why Christians disagree over how to properly interpret the Bible I hope they ask me. But I suspect they won't even do such a book.

And come on, I never said anything remotely akin to your mischaracterization of me above. With such thinking skills no wonder you believe.
And then again Amigo wrote:
By the way, if your routine was two or three years old, we could consider you the new kid on the block. Unfortunately, you've been doing this for much longer, have been read by apologists and atheists alike and still don't seem to be getting asked to join in the more serious discussions...maybe it's not because you are a newcomer, but simply because you aren't making a worthwhile contribution yet? If you want to be taken seriously, then stop the self-promotion, go out and work hard to get the proper credentials for the authority you claim (sorry, we don't buy the whole "equivalent" of a Ph.D.), and then start publishing academic work. If your arguments are so strong, then this shouldn't be a problem. As it is, I've read your work, find it lacking and no matter how many arguments from authority you present (so and so loves my book, so it must be good), I remain unconvinced.
I responded:
The only book most people know of is the one I had published just one year ago. So I know why I'm not asked in some skeptical circles to speak at their conferences; it’s because I’m still unknown. It’s also partly because I think there was a historical founder to the Jesus cult, the atheist shibboleth. And I take Christian arguments seriously rather than dismiss them like many skeptics do with the flying spaghetti monster. My target audience is Christians, so I cannot really expect skeptics to take notice of me, although they are. And my forte is not science either, but theology, apologetics and philosophy, disciplines which many scientifically trained skeptics shun. Then too, because I don't have a Ph.D. degree many intellectual skeptics don't think I know what I'm talking about. Although, this is changing. You did read the blurbs for my forthcoming book, didn't you? And maybe you'd like to consider who I got to write chapters in my next proposed book. When I trash Dinesh D’Souza in our debate, as I think I probably will, then I’ll get noticed. But in fact I was asked to debate him by the head of a department at the University of Illinois, so that means intellectuals are already taking notice of me. Plus a debate with William Lane Craig is in the works, despite Craig saying he won’t debate me.

I have no intention of getting a Ph.D. or in publishing in scholarly journals. I would consider that a distraction from my goals. I have no need to be recognized as having written a scholarly article. Many scholars just talk to themselves. I have a target audience and I plan on sticking to it. Rather than the shotgun approach of targeting religion in general, I target evangelical Christianity. And rather than write for the accolades of scholars, I write for the university student. I see nothing wrong with knowing where I fit it and then fitting in. My goal is to change the religious landscape, and I know where my talents are best used to do this. You might as well try to distract me by asking that I debunk Islam or Scientology too, but anything like that is a distraction from my target audience and my set goals. You can disagree all you like but it won't change what I'm setting out to do. The narrower one's focus is then the more apt someone is able to do what he sets out to do.

Okay, sometimes I have too much time on my hands. It's just a bit of fun.


Winston Smith said...

Appeals to "heed the scholars" and to "blurbs" are simply a form of appeal to authority.

Your arguments stand or fall on their own, no matter what is said about them by "scholars".

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

When all the Christian opponents are gone, then there will be plenty of atheists/agnostics remaining to oppose one another - it's the same pattern that you complain about in the Christian community.I guess 'pridefulness" is a human hearted infection, that transcends the lines of demarcation (religion, gender, socioeconomic, political, etc. etc.).

Then this, "The narrower one's focus is then the more apt someone is able to do what he sets out to do."

Sounds like "targetting" or persecuting to me. Doesn't your family practice Christianity? This sort of answers that question you posed about "Would you worship a god who would send your family to hell?" but instead, your stance is, "If God won't send my family to hell, I'm gonna try to!"

Just for fun..

John W. Loftus said...

MMM, I'm targeting Christians with my arguments, silly, not fists and guns. Again, I'm trying to change the religious landscape. I'm doing so with my arguments. I think Christianity is a delusion and the world would be better off if there were fewer Christians, Muslims, and Jews in it. I'm concerned with this world, not the other imaginary one you believe.

Houx said...

I'm comming to see that I can't help those who don't want help. I can't change people who don't want to change. I don't try to force my views about God on others. I just help those who want it. And even here all I can do is say what works for me. I don't try to control what others believe about God. When I say the serenity prayer, I ask God to give me a kind of calmness. It helps me to accept the fact that I can't change other people and the way they are living their lives. Today I'll accept the things I can't change and get on with living my own life. Today I let Go and let God deal with the people I can't change. As much as I would like to change the people arround me, I'm comming to see that I'm the only one I can change. I can't help those who don't want help.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Hi John - you said, "I'm concerned with this world, not the other imaginary one you believe."

Well, you certainly are the superior person here I must admit. But if God has His way, His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. I agree that that does seem imaginery when there isn't a lot of grace and good will between ppl.

I don't really think you can be trusted with a compliment at this time, so I will refrain from sharing any with you right now. Suffice it to say, that inspite of our differences (I perceive your efforts as being effective in debunking idolotry rather than God or faith in God), I do have a soft spot in my heart for my opponents here and I do recognize that your ventures are heartfelt even though misguided (see, I can be conceited too...)


Houx said...

Just one more thing. It's been my experience that sometimes love is letting go.

See ya John

Gandolf said...

Just about everyones got different ideas, of what they think should be considdered "talents" or what the "goals" should be or who the audience is etc.Many supposed (experts) still have their own critics,sometimes for good reasons and sometimes not..But whats the big deal? its not a real biggy, most everyone gets something wrong along the line somewhere in their lives.Most of us more than once too!.Why worry about it...Its being a human

Why worry so much what others think of us?,just do your best!...Dont take onboard to many expectations of others standards ....If you allow folks to forever be imposing guidelines and standard expectations upon you all the time,folks in turn will just use it against you.By throwing it back at you like some narcissist bitching parent maybe not getting enough sex? who is almost impossible to ever fully please, winding you up (all) the freakin time!..And there is just no real gain for you in that mindset.

No John my humble opinion is set to your own standard and goal you feel you enjoy and are (comfortable) working with,and those that dont like it? fuck em!.

Ive been silently watching the Vox thread because i was interested to see what happened.

Seems to me these things start off with somebody wanting to please people and feel accepted, with something of their interest to show people, and its usually something they have put much time and effort into and really want to feel an achievement and feel a little pride and acceptance for.

The narcissism of the opposition is geared toward dragging in any shortcommings and (personal) failures they can find,even gathering imformation from personal vendetta type scorce if need be....Which often turns into a fued on both sides

I did like it better the way you handled the flak this time John.Hey dont we all gotta learn to role with the punches.

I wanted to watch for awhile to see how Vox himself reacted,to the christian mercenary and combined personal vandetta assassination type crowd that i knew would soon roll in.Supposedly he is a christian,i wanted to see what he said about what was said.,i like to keep my mind open to possibilities of real evidence of any real sign of honest workings of the holy spirit turning up.

And mostly it panned out how i had expected.Except i noticed Vox was wary of getting involved too much in the gunfire.Which was wise,because he`s no do very (less) of a self promoter that you are really the way i see it anyway.And im sure he himself wishes to feel he has achieved and been accepted too.

And i felt surely he too himself knows everyone does make a few mistakes here and there, and can have things a little fucked up,and in all reality he knows nobodys ever perfect either.

I have a wee chuckle sometimes about the problem some people seem to have with our many human imperfections,specially when they are christian or faithful folk.Like its some strange phenomena we need to become aware of, that simply cannot be explained other than assertion of supernatural forces like devils or talking snakes or something.

Personally i think faith/superstition has played a big part in implanting this narcissistic bigoted ignorant type attitude of putting a infinitely immpossible to ever obtain standard amongst our communities. Of the goals always being (everyone) should really have this need of needing to strive to always try to be "the" best.

John honestly i think what matters most is some folks have enjoyed your book.

And hey im willing to wager more than half those christian folks running you down! willing of giving absolutely no credit! and hating so badly seems their faithfulness would love to see you roasting in hell,likely havent even started trying to even write a book yet.

I willingly admit im not so very educated myself.But im wondering, how inteligent is some of that shit they do?.

Gandolf said...

Ohh and seems over there on Vox site, they dont think Beelzebub is really quite the beez knees either.For some reason??

Having put a few posts up obviously sure the opinion wasnt accepted, obviously knowing it would likely be deleted.So i saved a few.


"Beelzebub 12/24/09 4:21 AM
One more thing I will offer for deletion, and I don't think this contradicts my claim to now being a milquetoast advocate for atheism: It is interesting that the phenomenon that I predicted and that Vox specifically dismissed appears to be happening. The first round of "New Atheist" books is giving rise to a second, and I personally don't see the end of the barrage on the horizon. In fact, if the trend expanded geometrically I wouldn't be surprised. What I'm wondering now is to what extent this has been fueled by the internet. In terms of social nexus and motivation this is a never before seen phenomenon, that few have predicted.

A less dramatic take on it would be that this is a type of "bubble," atheism is a topic that sells. But still, one wonders if there might be something more profound underlying it."


And then there are those that dont really mind Beelzebub, but need to then deal with the wrath of the gods.

"Jason1975: 12/23/09 11:56 PM:
Hey, don't be dissing Beez, I like Beez."

"Taylor: 12/24/09 12:34 AM:

Are you talking to me?

You really like a God-hating, Christian-bashing, leftist retard, who, by continuing to post even after being banned, displays his utter contempt for the blog host, including and especially, his wife? So, you like this human garbage because he amuses you, he's cute, he turns you on, he has such wit and humor? Seriously. What exactly is it about that scumbag that you like? Is he like a pet snake to you?

It is beyond my comprehension that anyone would find this duplicitous creature anything other than reprehensible. Nevertheless, I recognize that it is your prerogative to like whom you will. You fail to recognize that it is my prerogative to rip him to shreds at every opportunity I deem him deserving of it, which would never occur if he had even an ounce of decency to respect his banishment and stay away."


Sure enough .L.o.L ..i see today Beelzebub posts were all gone and quickly vanquished to hell

Gandolf said...

Hmmmmm ...Maybe they dislike folks having sense of humor?.


You're going to pop a blood vessel. How anyone can get that worked up over a blog persona is beyond me -- and perhaps that's what he means, that the silly internet personality I play is mildly humorous. Since when did this become "The Most Dangerous Game"? I wasn't aware that we're hunting human. And btw, aside from a bland comment or two now and then at Luke's site I ran up the white flag on the atheist debate months ago. Eventually it dawns on anyone paying attention that if people can eat crystals and think they're going to heal them, and if people think a spinal adjustment will cure cancer, people will believe anything -- and there isn't a hell of a lot you can do about it.

12/24/09 5:00 AM

Piratefish said...

Thank you for presenting your knowledge in plain language so more lay people like me can know what you know, I think all scholars should do the same, hope this'll be one of your guiding principles in all the future books you're going to write.