From: Brian Holtz []
Sent: Sunday, March 06, 2005 8:51 PM
To: ''
Cc: 'Loren Petrich'
Subject: RE: About your Atheist Deconversion page - ASA Jones and CEM Joad

 Brian, that's the thing about you.  You're so conceited and vain

invite you to adduce evidence for this charge.  In our earlier discussion you attempted similar drive-by defamation with "arrogant", but were struck dumb when asked repeatedly to back it up with even a single quote from me.  You join a growing list of Christians who malign me without having the decency to even attempt to substantiate such character assassination. I don't mind -- it speaks volumes about not only their standards of truth but also their standards of morality.

that when an opponent tells you that 'they are astounded with the quality of debate that you put forth', it never enters your mind that they are being sarcastic.

It of course depends on the context. In this context, you

So given the facts in evidence, I don't see how anyone but you can have any confidence that you indeed were being sarcastic. Indeed, it's unclear how well you now remember the details of our discussion from two years ago, and it might be that in the intervening time you've subconsciously built up a forgetful and self-serving theory about how it transpired.  I've now included the relevant emails from you at, in case you need to refresh your memory.

Every time I come across your site and see that you have advertised that bit of sarcasm, I chuckle and wonder if anyone else is picking up on it.

Methinks she doth protest too much. If you really think there are chuckles to be had here at my expense, I would love for you to annotate a link to and embarrass me to your heart's content.

You are more verbose than Farrell Till, and despite having an admirable vocabulary

I use my vocabulary for precision and conciseness, not verbosity. Any comparison of my oeuvre with Till's will show that I make more points with fewer words.

you have an inability to stay on subject. You even inspired me to write debate tip #3 in, which I added after our e-mail exchange:

**3) Stay focused and limit your discussion to the main argument. Every now and then, you will meet a hyper individual who hops around the discussion like a kangaroo with a hot foot. The debate will start off simple enough. He will ask one question or make one comment and you will return a paragraph explaining your position. He will then send you a 15 page rebuttal, filled with misconception about what it was that you said, and introduce a dozen new points of contention.

I just re-read our entire discussion, and I defy you to point to any case of me expanding its scope beyond topics raised by your own comments. On the contrary, at the end of my last message I listed the six topics from your comments (not mine) that I was willing to discuss, and explicitly disavowed interest in debating you on five other topics each of which first came up in our discussion due to something you wrote. In my polemical correspondence, I in fact consciously strive to prevent arbitrary dilation of the discussion by attaching each of my comments to a point raised by my interlocuter, and to use an average of at most three or four sentences to rebut each substantive point that she tries to make.

He will expect you to return a 45 page counter-argument, addressing every point and misunderstanding, and will claim victory by default when you fail to spend the rest of your life replying to him. This type of person usually doesn't know the difference between presenting an argument and being argumentative.

LOL. I explicitly invited you to answer a challenge that I designed expressly to eliminate the potential for consuming ever-increasing amounts of time and space. I pride myself in answering every point my opponents make, but this still allows them two escape routes: either the opponent flees with the presumed belief that she could have answered my last response, or (in just two cases, one being Turkel) the opponent's non-answers to me are just too dilatory and weak to deserve anything approaching timely rebuttal. I'd gladly lock my best arguments in a space-constrained arena with that of any Christian apologist, but none of them seems willing to foreswear both of these safety nets.

Keep your presentation as short and concise as possible, because the more you write, the more he will misconstrue.

In our debate I made you admit that you had misconstrued the (plainly-stated) purpose of my deconversion study. I defy you to identify a single instance in which I misconstrued what you wrote (as opposed to what you thought you wrote).

Dissecting his argument into its basic syllogism for your analysis can be very effective because it will limit his ability to wiggle around.

You didn't once attempt this with me. The closest you came was an ineffective smokescreen about the meaning of "if" when I caught you blatantly begging the question about Jesus' position on Hell.  (This coincided with you withdrawing  from our discussion.)

Be relentless and keep pressing home your point, even if it means repeating yourself.**

In our case, your relenting is a matter of public record.

I was going to link to you in an effort to show readers an example of how people don't stay on topic during a debate, but I decided that a shorter, more concise description would be funnier than an actual transcript.

Funnier by far would be you pointing to the transcript of our discussion and saying it's an example of me not staying on topic.

There are several rebuttals that I have printed and linked to througout my site. You just didn't make the grade.

It's quite clear that the reason you dare not link to me  indeed involves a threshold effect, but the polarity of the threshold is obviously the inverse of what you here claim with such contrived condescension.