Sunday, September 22, 2013

Recent argument logs

Nothing too exciting here, but I like to link up logs of my online discussions here once they're pretty well concluded.

Over on Victor Reppert's blog, what started out as a minor correcting of someone's obvious mistake about Intelligent Design turned into a lesson about the pitfalls of Cult of Gnu atheism. The big lesson: being a member of the Cult of Gnu doesn't automatically make you well-informed about religious and scientific matters, and it certainly doesn't make you smart. I know it's kind of a faux pas to question someone's intelligence, not only among Christians in general but in whatever passes for 'blog culture' too. But really, I stand by my actions in that thread, and on Dangerous Ideas generally - generally the blog where I'm on my worst behavior.

Christian have done themselves a lot of harm by trying to remain civil and respectful with people who not only grant them neither, but who don't really merit either. If you act respectful and even praiseful of a jackass who insults and belittles your faith and others' faith, you're not 'being the bigger man'. You're enabling intellectual bullying. Knock it off, please - even if you prefer to do it with more grace than myself.

17 comments:

malcolmthecynic said...

I'm going to post about a similar experience soon. This argument stuff is addicting, if not "fun" in the traditional sense.

Crude said...

I try not to do too much of it anymore. If I want to convince people and change minds, there's better avenues than arguing in blog comments sections. But now and then it's helpful to jump in.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Crude this sounds like Dawkins.

He also thinks he has good reasons to be a dismissive jerk. Many atheists I know think they have good reasons as well. Reading this is like listening to people I briefly and naively wanted to interact with socially in skeptical communities.

They sound eerily like you--the Christian know-it-alls are stupid jackasses who don't know anything but like to simply attack atheists in a knee-jerk way because they are idiots--why should we act respectful toward them? And the downward spiral continues.

This attiutude is so rarely justified that it is better to be respectful as a rule, and err on the side of assuming people are not stupid.

Note I realize I do not adhere to this as well as I should (e.g., with Ilion), but it is an ideal I think we should strive toward. And I am very suspicious of any argument that disrespect should be employed (go read Loftus).

Crude said...

Crude this sounds like Dawkins.

Horseshit. Complete, utter horseshit.

Dawkins' attack on respect and civility is total with regard to Christians. I focus specifically on the Cult of Gnu, who - as a rule, nearly as a dogma - engage in mockery, attacks and disrespect of any Christian they can manage it with. No matter how civil, no matter how polite to them.

You can try to find me advocating disrespect of atheists, irreligious, agnostics, non-Christians, etc, full stop. You'll try in vain. I always qualify my statements and pick out the Gnus specifically - and differentiate between the "New Atheists" and atheists generally. If Dawkins' words were "We shouldn't show Westboro Baptist any respect", I wouldn't have much of a concern. I'd agree with him.

If an identifiable group of Christians act like jackasses - if they have as a core belief 'insult, belittle, and mock those who they disagree with' - then sure, go to town on them. But the fact is, there is a noticeable gulf on this one. There are a considerable number of Christians and Christian groups who advocate respectful dialogue, including my Pope.

The number of outspoken atheists who encourage the same? Shockingly few. Now, I still don't advocate a lack of respect towards atheists generally, because I've run into various respectful, reasonable atheists (and certainly agnostics and irreligious) before. But the fact is, when it comes to respect with people who disagree with them, even if I specifically target only Gnu atheists, the atheist community generally has a serious goddamn problem on its hands.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Just because your disrespect has a different scope doesn't mean you aren't instantiating the same attitude. I stand by what I wrote. Also, your estimate of the number of people who deserve your derision just seems way off. Also, you seem to err on the side of derision, not respect (e.g., im-skeptical at Victor's blog doesn't deserve your derision).

aporesis said...

Crude wrote:
"If you act respectful and even praiseful of a jackass who insults and belittles your faith and others' faith, you're not 'being the bigger man'. You're enabling intellectual bullying."

Not that it's worth much but I think this is a really important point. We do need to articulate robust intellectual defences of our faith and its implications. Especially in the face of the hostility and general ignorance shown by many of the New Atheists.

I can't remember seeing a pre-emptive lack of respect shown by Crude in, say, the comments of Feser's blog, and I would be very sorry if he stopped what he is doing there.

malcolmthecynic said...

I'm going to have to agree with Crude. I'm all for respectful dialogue with people who show respect in return. Gnus have shown repeatedly that they're not willing to learn and when cornered will either try dodging the question (Dr. Feser called it the "Myers shuffle") or spewing out hateful invective as if it constitutes an argument.

You really expect me to be respectful to a man who compares teaching your child your religion to child abuse?

Lothar Lorraine said...

"Christian have done themselves a lot of harm by trying to remain civil and respectful with people who not only grant them neither, but who don't really merit either. If you act respectful and even praiseful of a jackass who insults and belittles your faith and others' faith, you're not 'being the bigger man'. You're enabling intellectual bullying. Knock it off, please - even if you prefer to do it with more grace than myself. "

Hello Crude.

As a blogger this is exactly what I am struggling with.
There are many militant atheists who are truly hateful and constantly bullying.

Yet they are my enemies and so I'm supposed to love them.
But Jesus got also quite angry against some religious bigots.

So I don't know how I should behave?


Friendly greetings from Europe.
Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son
http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

Crude said...

Just because your disrespect has a different scope doesn't mean you aren't instantiating the same attitude.

Yes, BDK - the scope is precisely the problem. I advocate a lack of respect specifically for people who lack respect, who pick up the Dawkins mantle of 'mock and belittle and shame people into silence'. That's my "scope". Dawkins' scope is "theists" / "religious people". Rather broad, and it's the broadness that's the problem - not the mere act of disrespect. If Dawkins said, 'I don't think we should treat WBC with respect!', if he acted disrespectful towards that group of idiots in particular but was civil otherwise, where would my complaints be?

So let's be clear here. What you're saying is that Dawkins and company deserve respect and such in debate, hot on the heels of 'Make fun of every Catholic, they believe stupid stuff!' and 'Don't show respect for religious beliefs! If you mock them and try to isolate them, you'll shame some of them out of their beliefs!' and 'A Catholic upbringing is worse than sexual abuse!'?

Also, your estimate of the number of people who deserve your derision just seems way off.

Where did I estimate the number? I pointed out that the 'atheist community', insofar as respect comes, has a serious goddamn problem on its hands. You can try to deny it, but the moment you do, I'm going to cite examples of who among them has been given awards by atheist and humanist groups, I'm going to cite the official sanction of 'Blasphemy Day', and more. That's not a debate you'll come close to winning, and I'm more than happy to have it.

Also, you seem to err on the side of derision,

Oh, I don't rule out that I've made mistakes in the past. But the funny thing is, the latest exchange with Skep - did you even read my link? - had me going out of my way to be civil, even with him. That whole exchange started out with a derision level of 'No, your claim that Intelligent Design doesn't deal with the OoL is wrong.' But no, he stupidly escalated and mocked in a stupid situation to do so - at which point, yeah, I laid into him with a quarter of the vitriol the average Gnu displays when you mention you went to confession within earshot of him.

I really have to ask this as well. Do you go to Cult of Gnu atheists - their blogs, their sites - and chastize them for their behavior? I would actually love to see an example of you doing so. Throw me a link.

Crude said...

Lothar,

As a blogger this is exactly what I am struggling with.
There are many militant atheists who are truly hateful and constantly bullying.

Yet they are my enemies and so I'm supposed to love them.
But Jesus got also quite angry against some religious bigots.

So I don't know how I should behave?


Keep in mind that Jesus had exactly zero problem frankly estimating people who were wrong, cutting off conversation with them, or even describing them in some pretty insulting terms. Keep in mind the last part: there's a difference between trying to hurt someone by insulting them, and saying something that they'll take grave offense at. I do not advocate making any individual into an enemy you hate. I absolutely advocate, in the face of someone who is engaged in mockery and bullying remarks, showing them a lack of respect, or silencing them.

There's not a single person I actually, say... wish was miserable, or hope to see damned. I can just wish and hope they change their minds, and I have zero interest in falling into that trap. On the other hand, I have no problem calling a Gnu who comes across as stupid, stupid. (I won't do this lightly. Their merely being mocking and insulting isn't sufficient. I really have to see evidence that they are, at the end of the day, slow.) I think the two poles are pretty far apart.

For the record, I also don't have much patience for religious people who are extreme jerks either.

Gotta add your blog to my list.

Crude said...

Malcolm,

Gnus have shown repeatedly that they're not willing to learn and when cornered will either try dodging the question (Dr. Feser called it the "Myers shuffle") or spewing out hateful invective as if it constitutes an argument.

Pretty much. Really, for me the tipping point came when I saw Dawkins expressly embracing mockery and derision as a means of conversion.

Keep in mind, these guys can dish it out but they can't take it. John Loftus is a great example. He expressly endorses mocking and belittling Christians to change their minds. He does not put up with half of that treatment very well.

BenYachov said...

>im-skeptical at Victor's blog doesn't deserve your derision.

I respectfully disagree too my friend. Even Bob's lost patience with him as well as Paps.

This is Bob who more often then not takes me to task for being a dick.

Crude said...

aporesis,

Thanks for the vote of confidence. I'm sure I've screwed up in the past - only human and all - but reading that is encouraging.

Part of the reason I write about this is that I see a number of Christians who seem to believe that they should be respectful and civil and perpetually forgiving of intellectual bullies, and who 'seek dialogue' with them. Dialogue is impossible without sincere mutual respect, and one-sided respect aids and abets some rotten stuff.

Conor said...

Crude,

As a longtime lurker at both Reppert's and Feser's blogs, all I can say is this: never stop posting.

There ARE true agnostics out there. We want to know, one way or the other. Our conundrum is that, while our intellects pull us one way, our emotions pull us another. Our curse is that those directions are ever in flux.

We need people who pull no punches.

Neither Linton nor IM on Dangerous Idea are interested in truth. Their lazy anti-intellectualism is the hallmark of those who seek nothing but self-aggrandizement. I'm shocked BDK doesn't see this; indeed, I lamented his lack of posts on DI a few weeks back.

Crude, keep calling the posers on their BS. You're only doing the world a favor.

Crude said...

Thanks, Conor.

I definitely know there are true agnostics out there, and I don't have a beef with them. Or even with atheists who just think, with an appropriate amount of self-skepticism, that there is no God. I may have disagreements, I may think some arguments go wrong, but mere irreligion isn't a problem. I hope you've seen me act polite, even if questioning, with guys like Dan and others on DI.

Lazy anti-intellectualism really is the problem. Doubly worse since it's done by people who end up posing as intellectuals in the process.

Blue Devil Knight said...

>>Do you go to Cult of Gnu atheists - their blogs, their sites - and chastize them for their behavior? I would actually love to see an example of you doing so. Throw me a link.

I prefer to go to blogs where the overall tone is one of respect and reason, as then I tend to engage in kind and not get sucked into blog toilet behavior. Victor's blog used to be like that, but hasn't been for a while. I now mostly post at philosophy of brains.

You are particularly frustrating, because you are obviously good at analysis, would probably be a great professional philosopher, but the discussions you have tend to so quickly degenerate into people being angry with you and we end up in blog toilet. I haven't quite figured it out, frankly, why you are so damned good at pushing buttons. I mean this as a compliment, not an attack.

Crude said...

but the discussions you have tend to so quickly degenerate into people being angry with you and we end up in blog toilet.

I've had plenty of conversations with people who disagree with me, and which don't end up in the toilet - including with agnostics and atheists. Of the times things do end up in the toilet, take a good look at who I'm up against. Skep? Skep's transparently pig ignorant with a chip on his shoulder. Linton? I knew Linton was literally lacking comprehension of most of the things he "discussed" (even if he instinctively agreed with it) well before catching him plagiarizing red-handed. John Loftus? Ilion? Do I even need to explain what goes on there?

I'm not offended at all. I do think my track record is better than you suggest - I tend to get under the skin of spinners, fakers and the emotionally motivated. I humbly suggest that most people who sincerely enjoy analysis tend to also be - for whatever reason - extraordinarily forgiving in the face of BS and insults and put a bizarre premium on always maintaining decorum and being perceived as respectful and civil in the face of insults and idiocy. I don't place much value on being the most soft-spoken and civil guy in the conversation.