BH: Thus in at least eight ways I explicitly stopped far short of asserting that your deconversion was "a purely emotional reaction". Replace "purely" with "partly", and your statement becomes true -- and also loses its accusatory force.It's ironic that your response to my demonstration of you misrepresenting me is to claim that I use "protective camouflage" and write "between the lines". You can imagine all the hostility you want, but nothing you write can incur it in me.
AJ: I can write entire letters without explicitly stating much at all, yet I remain very effective in making my point. You’re very adept in using verbiage as protective camouflage while sniping away. There is a term for that, but I shan’t say it here, explicitly. I’m sure that you are skilled at reading between the lines, since most of your writing takes place there.
BH: It's odd that some of the most prominent "witnesses for Christ" on the web -- Turkel aka Holding, you, "India" at rationalchristianity.net -- are so secretive about their identity."So many" here in no way implies "most". My point was obviously that the notion of Christian witness would make any secretiveness seem odd. (Also, I reiterate my qualification "on the web". In person, Christians tend to be quite willing to witness for Christ.)
AJ: If I was “so secretive about my identity”, I would have never given Mr. Bendewald that information in the first place and I would never have given him the permission to publish it. However, I prefer that any focus not be on me, but on what I have to say. You imply that most prominent witnesses for Christ
AJ: have something to hide.By "something to hide" you of course mean something embarrassing. No, if I wanted to say that, I'd come right out and say it -- e.g., as I've said about Turkel's fear of linking to me. I'm perhaps one of the most literal and careful users of English you're ever likely to encounter, and I'm simply at a loss to understand why your site in particular reveals so little of personal situation -- not to be confused with identity -- while nevertheless saying that the best way to witness is to "live your Christianity".
AJ: Probably you will now say that that isn’t what you “actually” saidIs it too much to ask that you only interpret me as saying what I actually say?
AJ: and that it is my own paranoia over actually having something to hide that makes me take offense at that which you never wrote.Sorry, I still don't think you have something embarrassing to hide. However, I'm led to suspect that you're projecting -- i.e. that if you ever said something about atheists being anonymous, then you'd be thinking that atheists have something embarrassing to hide. However, an equally likely explanation is that you've encountered a lot of hostile atheists and so assume hostility from me. (You won't get any; when Christian apologists bait and insult me, I like to turn the other cheek.)
AJ: Heehee. I've played this game a million times.I don't doubt you've debated a lot, and have won much more than you've lost -- and this may be the problem here. One can't win every debate one engages in, and the more accustomed one is to winning, the more traumatic it is when one finds oneself not winning. Such occasions of not winning thus become an interesting character test.
AJ: your best play would be to come on hard and not deny that you are accusing Christian witnesses of some sort of deception.I don't accuse deception -- I accuse a missed opportunity to exhibit courageous public witness, of (say) the Glenn Miller variety.
AJ: How about we both agree to cut out any of this type of bullshit, okay? I’ll even pretend to overlook it when I find it in the remainder of your response.Is there nothing I can say to convince you that I already mean what I say and say what I mean? If not, then feel free to pretend that I agree to whatever stipulation is required for you to henceforth take what I say at face value.
BH: So my intention is to scope my time budget for atheist polemics more toward critiques of leading Christian academics, and less toward lop-sided debates with web apologists.
I'm happy to let this sophisticated satire go unanswered if it means I'll be spared from the temptation of rebutting substantive criticism by you of any of my assertions. :-)AJ: I’m sure that no one, not even the leading Christian academics, will be any match for you, Mr. Holtz. I have complete confidence that you will tear their arguments into shreds. In fact, I would like to take this opportunity to back out of my proposed challenge. I certainly don't want to take up any of your time with my naïve and inadequate apologetic. It wouldn't be fair to you and it may even damage my insecure faith.
AJ: Gee, I dunno..Gosh [..] Infer…wha? [..] Looky there! [..] fallacy thingies [..] fallac symbols[..]Please don't take offense at my sarcasm. Theology in the absence of humor is a drag.
AJ: A biographical account is not intended to be a presentation of a formal argument. Thus, when a biography contains the statement, “I became angry at the man for kicking his dog”, this is not held to be a ‘fallacy involving emotional appeal’ because it is outside of the presentation of argument.
[BH: My assessment was geared precisely toward "investigat[ing] whether atheists having long-term experience with both sides' arguments ever later convert to Christianity purely because of comparing those arguments." If you can give me any more data for this investigation than what is available in your deconversion essay, I'd be grateful. In particular, I'd love details on the specific philosophical arguments and positions that you were familiar with before becoming a Christian.]You utterly ignored my earlier reiteration of my intentions (restored in brackets above), and by repeating your contrary characterization of my intentions you are effectively calling me a liar. Is this what Jesus would do? And are you saying it's metaphysically impossible for me to sincerely want to find the best arguments against atheism by seeking those most like me who later converted to Christianity?
[..]AJ: Come on, Mr. Holtz. I’m sure you are aware of this. You wrote what you did in a cheap effort to turn your audience. When you resort to such maneuvers, you may gain the admiration of the ignorant but you lose all credibility with anyone who knows what's going on. Blah.
AJ: speculation and unsupported opinion.How amusingly ironic - you complain (incorrectly) that I accuse you of failing to make formal arguments, and then you make the facile accusation that I don't provide (an arbitrary regress of?) "support" for some of my asserted judgments. Since you identified none of my assertions, I'll take this as an effective admission that you recognize that each is quite supportable.
BH: If you think any of my assertions are unsupported and unsupportable, then I invite you to identify them.
AJ: Hey, if you don't know what an opinion is, I’m in no position to tell you.
BH: If your work is first-rate, and if your ability to defend it is better than what I've seen so far from web apologists, then I'll be happy to "take a go". :-)
Many things; see http://holtz.org for a taste. (By "web apologists" I obviously meant Christians, so I'm not in the antecedent class of that phrase, if that's what you're wondering.)AJ: What do you consider yourself, Mr. Holtz?
AJ: Miracles usually describe actions that leave behind no objective evidence.That's a convenient habit that miracles have. :-)
AJ: I couldn't be converted to any other religion. My faith in Christ is based on the content of His words and there are no other words that can compare to HisCould his "words" not have been better in any conceivable way? For example, if the gospels had omitted Mt 15:26 and Mt 18:8, would you be saying "this guy's words are pretty good, but I'm looking for somebody who compares non-Israelites to dogs and punishes finite sin with eternal hellfire"?
AJ: The evidence isn't compelling at all. It is hidden, just as a 3-D image in a stereogram is hidden from someone who hasn't the right focus.
I’m an atheist every other minute and a Christian in between. The evidence for atheism is right in front of me, but it is the same evidence for Christianity. Let me try to explain this in a way that is certain to invite ridicule, but that is the most accurate I can give. Are you familiar with the optical illusion of the pretty, young lady and the old, ugly woman? The lines that form the former are the same that form the latter. The vision of one comes into focus and with the blink of an eye, the other takes its place. Neither picture can be both.
I will be convinced of atheism when someone objectively proves to me that there is no young lady and no old woman in the picture; that both are products of my imagination and that the picture in question is only an abstract, with no design or intention to produce the optical effect.