The Raving Theist

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What Have I Done?

April 17, 2006 | 12 Comments

This e-mail might have wounded me deeply, if I had the slightest idea what its author was getting at:

Good grief. Your blog is filled with specious logic and rhetorical excess to rival the worst religious and right-wing propagandists. It’s so bad that it’s no more worthwhile arguing the issues with you than it is to try and shake a christian fundamentalist out of his biblical literalism. “It is impossible to reason a man out of something he was not reasoned in to.”

I’m a fellow atheist, and I agree with many of your positions, but you argue them so ineptly that I’m almost ashamed to agree with you. Only “almost”; the Christians manage to at least slightly exceed your own philosophical ineptitude, and, of course, I don’t choose my beliefs based on others’ argumentative or intellectual failures in the first place.

Still, I’m sincerely glad we’ve built a society in which (at least at the moment) *everyone*, idiots and intelligensia (1) alike, can speak their minds.

No idea which of my thousand-plus posts might have triggered this attempt to provoke an argument with someone who it’s ostensibly not worth arguing with. Perhaps I mishandled Mackie’s refutation of Craig’s defense of the second premiss of the Kalam cosmological argument? I wouldn’t be the first atheist to botch that one. Thank God this fellow has the sense to pick his theological beliefs based on the truth, rather than blindly siding with whatever blog argues them least ineptly.

Or is something else bothering him? Let me guess. It probably has something to do with:

Abortion. He disagrees with my anti-choice position. I’ve (1) failed to logically agree with developmental biologists that human life begins at viability or birth or self-consciousness or teenage or stage x, y or z and to express disapproval only after that point, or (2) failed to logically realize that because developmental biologists disagree, the cut-off point must necessarily be set at the latest stage that any one of them proposes, (3) failed to logically realize the developmental biology is completely irrelevant because abortion is always an emotional, social, economic, and personal decision no matter what it kills or when, or (4) failed to logically realize that the fetus is always a parasite, or (5) failed to logically realize that abortion always an agonizing decision because every woman recognizes that the fetus is human, or (6) failed to realize that even though Nos. (1) through (5) conflict, only my particular position could be unreasonable.

Agnosticism. I’m a “fundamentalist atheist” because I (1) fail to recognize that “atheism is just a belief like any other” and (2) fail to acknowledge that it’s no more philosophically reasonable than belief in the Easter Bunny, and (3) fail to acknowledge that every belief about anything is equally magical (except pro-choice beliefs with a cut-off no earlier than viability). Plus I’m “arrogant” and too mean sometimes.

Hypocrisy Too few of my posts attempt to disprove the existence of God by pointing out that Jerry Falwell and other members of the religious right are hypocrites because they have too much money.

(1) I don’t judge other people’s intelligence by their spelling, but still, “intelligenTsia” is the last word you want to misspell if you’re trying to convince people you belong to it and the guy you’re attacking is an idiot.

Comments

12 Responses to “What Have I Done?”

  1. Mister Swill
    April 17th, 2006 @ 11:51 pm

    Or maybe it’s the long standing pattern of turning every argument you receive into an extreme, straw-man version of itself before responding to it with incredulity. Just a thought.

  2. Dada Saves
    April 18th, 2006 @ 7:27 am

    Oh sure, Mr. Swill. So you’re saying that TRA is incapable of honest debate because the slightest disagreement makes him utterly blind to alternate views and he never entertains the remote possibility that he could be wrong?

    (I tried to straw-man the shit out of your comment, but failed. This is what you’re saying.)

  3. IA_
    April 18th, 2006 @ 8:58 am

    You accuse him of sloppy arguments yet you cite his “long standing pattern of turning every argument you receive into an extreme, straw-man version of itself before responding to it with incredulity.”

    You, Mister Swill, are setting up a strawman yourself. You made a vague generalization about his “long standing patterns,” then you call him an idiot! Oh, I’m sorry, you have his “intellectual failures” to back you up.

    Irony?

    Perhaps you would want to give us examples of his “philosophical ineptitude” so we can better understand your point.

  4. IA_
    April 18th, 2006 @ 9:01 am

    Mister Swill, I apologize if you didn’t write the article. I attributed it to you immediately due to your knee-jerk response to Raving’s rebuttal. If you didn’t write the article I apologize, but I extend my invitation to whoever the author is to back up their strawman with particular examples. If you did or did not write it Mr. Swill, it would be nice if you would enlighten us since you seem to share his views.

  5. Mookie
    April 18th, 2006 @ 1:10 pm

    Hey Chris the Shitty Moderator,

    My comments are at least a small step above the crap of #5. Do your job and clean up some comment sections.

  6. Mister Swill
    April 18th, 2006 @ 1:29 pm

    Yah! I didn’t see that coming, though perhaps I should have.

    For the record: No, I did not write the e-mail featured in this post. The RA and I have certainly butted heads over the years, particularly on the issue of abortion, but I would not go so far as to call him an idiot or his arguments inept. Nor would I pompously declare myself a member of the “intelligensia[sic].”

    I responded to this post the way I did because I recognized a couple of those numbered points in the “Abortion” paragraph as clumsy, toothless versions of my own arguments. I was also utterly unsurprised, since clumsy, toothless versions of other people’s arguments are featured in this space all the time.

    I think RA’s biggest rhetorical problem is his compulsion for absolutes. Virtually every argument RA receives must take a distinct black-or-white, yes-or-no, right-or-wrong position, and if it doesn’t then he’ll either shoehorn it into some absolute declaration or call it wishy-washy. But I don’t think RA does this because he’s inept. I think he does it because he’s a lawyer. A lawyer’s basic job is to make clear, distinct decisions based on the law and there isn’t much room for nuance. That’s fine in the appropriate context. But we must remember that lawyers are not making decisions about what is true or false or what is right and wrong. They are making decisions about what is permissible according to the law.

  7. Don Peterson
    April 18th, 2006 @ 4:20 pm

    If he was ticked on abortion, he may have been arguing that life begins at conception. I have suggested if that is so everyman must carry a Day Timer and record the date, time and satisfaction of the event. Have 2 scales, man’s and woman’s, rating the sexual experience from one to ten. A little family history to show the kids. How nuts can the Catholics be.

  8. The Raving Atheist
    April 18th, 2006 @ 5:46 pm

    Virtually every argument RA receives must take a distinct black-or-white, yes-or-no, right-or-wrong position, and if it doesn’t then he’ll either shoehorn it into some absolute declaration or call it wishy-washy.

    Is your statement about what I do a black-and-white, right-or-wrong proposition, or is it possible that (1) I don’t do this at all, or (2) that when I do, I do it because I’m right?

  9. Kevin
    April 18th, 2006 @ 8:21 pm

    Dude! That was funny as hell (no, not that hell, the other hell)! Was I the only one who thought so?!? People just don’t have a sense of humor anymore…

    I particularly like the comment in Chinese (?). Don’t know what it says, but it looks impressive.

    K

  10. IA_
    April 19th, 2006 @ 12:14 am

    Like I said, sorry Swill, that was me jumping the gun.

  11. Mister Swill
    April 19th, 2006 @ 1:07 am

    Is your statement about what I do a black-and-white, right-or-wrong proposition
    I can’t fathom a way that it could be interpreted as such. Was “virtually every” unfair? Maybe I should have written “the vast majority of.” For the record, I thought that the third to last paragraph in this post was pretty reasonable.

    or is it possible that (1) I don’t do this at all
    Sure. The same way it’s possible that I’m a brain in a jar and all of my sensory experiences are created by a computer.

    or (2) that when I do, I do it because I’m right?
    I’m sure that whenever you do it, you do it because you think you’re right.

    Anyway, I’m tired of this argument. I think I’ve stated my case pretty clearly in the numerous comments I’ve made. You’ve made it pretty clear why you think abortion is wrong. I think I need to take a break from ravingatheist.com for a while. Would you be so kind, RA, as to e-mail me or something if you ever get around to addressing my questions? Or if you hold another cartoon contest? Those are fun.

  12. john
    April 21st, 2006 @ 10:48 pm

    “but still, “intelligenTsia” is the last word you want to misspell if you’re trying to convince people you belong to it and the guy you’re attacking is an idiot.”

    It WAS kind of funny! Then again, in fairness, he didn’t say you were an idiot. He accused you of philosophical ineptitude (and spelled both words correctly)! Overall, I try not to be one of Spelling Police, even in such a ludicrous situation. Brilliant people misspell words. I know because I did it once.

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