American Culture

Jesus wept: Sports, reality TV and those embarrassing public displays of piety

Some people think I hate Christians. My occasional comments on Tim Tebow probably have something to do with that perception, although you have to aggressively project a hater stereotype on me to make that work. Which a lot of Christians are happy to do, make no mistake.

I won’t lie, though. I’m very much not a Christian myself and I’ve read my Dawkins and my Harris. I’m a persistent fan of evidence, and I’m not idiot enough to think that we know all there is to know. In particular I’m intrigued by the study of energy and the question of whether perhaps it coheres once we die. But this is a question of science, not blind religion. I feel no particular need to believe in a “higher power” or in the existence of a spirit realm. I’m certainly spiritual, but since spiritualism as expressed by humanist awareness is more than I’ll ever unravel, I have no need for superstition.

Let’s also understand my long, deep relationship with Christianity. I grew up Southern Baptist. Some of the finest human beings I ever met are Christians. This number would include my grandmother, who raised me from the time I was three as though I were her own son and who was, without question, the single most important person in my entire life. There may be people reading this who knew her, and they can attest to the fact that she was a saint navigating a harsh world on crutches with never a bad word for anyone, no matter how much they deserved one. Also in that number you’d find one of my sisters and her family, several of my closest friends and half the guys in my wedding party.

So no, I don’t hate Christians.

I do, however, have a tremendous distaste for Christianity as an institution, which has done unspeakable damage to every culture it has touched throughout the centuries. This argument, though, isn’t really about Christianity per se – what I’m reacting against is a natural function of any creed that attains a certain level of political power. I have lots of neo-pagan friends and have been known to describe myself in those terms, but I know without question that had this set of religions gained the status and influence that Christianity enjoys they would be every bit as corrupt and anti-human. The Holy Druidic Empire? Be afraid.

Since I live in Denver, home to our nation’s most rabid cult of the moment, Tebowism, I’ve had ample opportunity lately to reflect on what, exactly, bothers me so much about our currently fashionable epidemic of “faith.” I’m obviously concerned about the fact that 85% of Americans can vote whatever the hell they want into law, especially when the Supreme Court itself becomes co-opted. But at an even more elemental level, I think what gets to me is the arrogance and the hypocrisy.

First, the arrogance of evangelism. If you don’t believe what I do you’re going to burn in an actual lake of fire for eternity. I even got this pitch a couple of times back when I was a Christian because apparently I wasn’t Christian enough. (You could tell because I was a member of the highly suspicious fringe liberal Southern Baptist denomination.) I was taught that Catholics were going to hell because their kind of baptism didn’t count. Imagine, then, what awaits those of us who don’t even pretend.

You can’t argue the point, of course. If you do, that just proves that you’re doomed.

The most annoying form of arrogance on display in the US today? PDPs: public displays of piety.

Sideline Reporter: “Steve, that was a remarkable diving catch in the end zone to win the game. How did you beat the coverage?”

Wide Receiver: “Janice, I’d like to thank my lord and personal savior, Jesus Christ.”

Ummm, okay. But he’s just expressing his faith, right? And that’s in the Constitution, you say? Fine, let’s test that theory:

Sideline Reporter: “Steve, that was a remarkable diving catch in the end zone to win the game. How did you beat the coverage?”

Wide Receiver: “Janice, I’d like to thank the dark lord of this world, Lucifer.”

Still good?

And did you see this last weekend?

No, this isn’t bowing. It’s Tebowing. I kid you not. And it’s bigger than the Cabbage Patch, Disco and the Loco-Motion put together. I quote no less a source than NFL.com – it’s a sensation.

Because in this, our most ostentatiously pious of eras, your religion doesn’t count unless a lot of people are watching. When a guy scores a touchdown and points to heaven, we don’t look at heaven, do we?

I can’t help thinking about the fact that the best Christian I ever knew in my life, my aforementioned grandmother, Helen Marshall Smith, never once engaged in untoward PDP. She was a fervent believer but I don’t even recall us even having a blessing when we went out to dinner with Christian friends. Unforgivable, huh?

Then there’s the hypocrisy. This isn’t new, of course, nor is it unique to members of any particular religion. But the bigger a show you make of your piety, the more appalling it is when you fail your own standards. This past week gave us an incredible example of what I’m talking about, and if you watch Survivor, you already know where I’m going.

The Upolu tribe (“Upolu” is the Samoan word for “praise Jesus because the cameras are rolling”) features a couple of the worst jackasses in the game’s history, Coach (Ben Wade) and Brandon Hantz, the clueless fuckwit nephew of the show’s most notorious villain, Russell Hantz. Coach made a name for himself on Survivor: Tocantins as one of the game’s greatest wack jobs, but his “dragon slayer” act wasn’t the best part. The best part was the way in which he played an exceptionally deceptive game and then developed total amnesia, insisting that he had played honorably, that he had never lied, etc., despite all the actual footage.

Russell Hantz was pure unadulterated evil on a scale that would make Satan nervous, but Brandon quickly established himself as being less about ubiquitous malevolence and more about basic psychological instability (and a disturbing degree of misogyny born of some deep-seated demons I don’t even want to guess about).

However, these men are bound together by … wait for it … an unwavering and extremely public faith in God that has grown with each episode. This past week’s show might as well have been a praise rally, as the tribe was gathered for on-your-knees, hand-holding chest-thumping prayer at least three times (and this doesn’t count Coach’s Tai Chi/I’m Not Worthy Father workout routine, which was played with a performative subtlety worthy of a Commedia dell’Arte).

The moral of this story isn’t the annoying PDP, though. It gets better. What they were praying for was that the tribe could find the hidden immunity idol. Which is sacrilegious to start with – you think The Lord Most High gives a fuck about Survivor? Please. He’s got enough on his hands trying to save the Denver Broncos from Tim Tebow’s inability to read a safety blitz.

Hang on – even that isn’t the good part. No, the real payoff is that Coach already has the idol. He’s had it for days and has been keeping it a secret from Brandon because, well, because Brandon’s crazier than a sack of bats on nitrous. Two other members of the tribe know, as well, so there they are, on their knees on national television, using God as a red herring. Which proves there’s no god pretty conclusively, I’d think. If there were, He’d have “voted the whole tribe off the island” on the spot, if you catch my meaning.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a worse display of hypocrisy on television in my life, and I’ve lived through Jimmy Swaggart and the Bakkers.

Mercifully, Coach and Tim Tebow aren’t like most Christians. If they were, you couldn’t go to drive-through at McDonald’s without enduring a testimonial. “Can I get a Big Mac and a Coke?” “Yes sir, and I’d like to dedicate this order to my lord and personal savior, Jesus Christ.” Or the bank. “Hi, I’d like to deposit this check.” “Welcome to Bank of America, ma’am. Have you accepted Jesus into your heart?” I don’t even want to contemplate trying to get a lap dance down at the Diamond Cabaret.

No, most Christians are capable of getting through the day without clubbing somebody to death with their copy of the New Living Translation. I also imagine that they see all the Tebowing and are made a little uncomfortable. Some of them, anyway. And the pompous charades of asses like Coach (who, I assure you, will have no memory whatsoever of the events of this past Wednesday’s episode if he’s called on it) must be absolutely infuriating because of the light in which it casts other Christians.

In the end, public displays of piety, especially when performed in front of large audiences, aren’t about Him, they’re about You. And the more you perform, the less I believe you.

I hope that America’s more sensible Christians will, at some point, pull their self-aggrandizing brethren aside and have a quiet word with them.

125 replies »

  1. Hi Samuel,
    You said: “In the end, public displays of piety, especially when performed in front of large audiences, aren’t about Him, they’re about You. And the more you perform, the less I believe you.” Well said…
    Have You read Foxes book of Martyrs? There are several “public displays of piety” described therein, whose “grand finale’s” can only be termed: “genuine”.
    You can read it here:
    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/22400/22400-h/22400-h.htm
    Perhaps no other account of historical “Christianity”, other than the Bible itself describes the difference between good and evil, concerning religion and belief.

  2. “In the end, public displays of piety, especially when performed in front of large audiences, aren’t about Him, they’re about You. And the more you perform, the less I believe you.”

    Not well said. By this logic, your essay here is less sincere because you said it in public.

    What’s the difference between “Tebowing” and writing an essay? Other than you like one and dislike the other.

    As for the unspeakable damage Christianity has done, there is no doubt about this. Think how much better the world would be without all the orphanages, hospitals, and universities the Christians have built over the years.

    Typical atheist illogic.

  3. Why do “publc displays of Piety; get up some peoples nose? Why are they so intolerant?
    What does it matter to them? As far as I am aware Tim Tebow does not go around “Bible Bashing’ or making a nuisance of himself. The fact is, that Tim Tebow is simply a witness to something better- the power of Gods Spirit to wonderfully enhance Human life, and some people simply can`t handle it- darkness cannot tolerate light!

  4. Many, many players have been striking this exact same “prayer pose” in the end zone after a score or win for years. Why is “PDP” now so distasteful? It doesn’t bother anyone when the PDP is shameless self-promotion. But when Tebow (or Kurt Warner) does it, you know its not. It’s isn’t PDP that is disturbing to some– it’s genuine piety.

  5. Perhaps, FT, the PDPs were distasteful before, but they’ve crossed a line where they can’t be politely ignored anymore. Just a guess on my part.

    Tebow, we can also talk about all those wars fought because of Christianity (the Crusades and the wars between protestantism and catholicism for starters), the removal of “savage” Native Americans from their families to be placed with “godly” families expressly for destroying their tribal affiliation and their culture, child abuse by priests, allowing those same hospitals to deny life-saving abortions to women, laws that permit “moral” pharmacists to deny a woman birth control or morning-after pills for use after a rape, and so on.

    Christianity has no moral authority to denigrate anyone. Neither does Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Shintoism, or any other religion in the world. Learning just a tiny amount of history is all you need to know this.

    I personally don’t care what someone’s faith is. It’s when someone shoves it down up my nose (or down my optic nerves or into my ear canal) without giving me a choice about it that I get annoyed. If I want to learn more about your beliefs, I’ll come to you. Hell, even my conservative Mormon friends get this point, and if they can avoid evangelizing me, Tebow and people like him can avoid thanking god for every stupid touchdown.

    I think this song is remarkably appropriate.

  6. Man, if someone tries to serve me Jesus as a side order at the drive-thru window, then i’m going to start punching people.

    Thankfully, i was raised without religion at all (not atheist, just without religion). I’ve never been baptized and i think that’s great, mostly because had i been there’s a chance i’d end up in heaven (lolololol). If that happened, then i’d have to spend eternity with Christians.

    …i suppose this means i’ll have to go to heaven for the eternal damnation i so richly deserve.

  7. There’s another good reason PDP is bad. It’s embarrassing for our country! Europeans think the USA is dominated by bible thumping nutbags -and they’re increasingly right. I’m embarrassed by PDP and for the people doing it. Faith has become’s a mass delusion. Maybe the more atheist’s ridicule it, and science erodes it, the more people will think twice about whether they want to label themselves that way – as IDIOTS, that is. Thanks for your contribution Sam!

  8. Point understood, and sure you can point out poor behavior by Christians. However, with the same reasoning in your article, but from the other side, consider that every second is given to you by a loving and long suffering Creator, and you are taking every chance you have to disparage and deny Him. That is, deny him in public and private, from a POV that somehow you are in control of some things yourself. It is not like you don’t have the evidence and the responsibility. But, nevertheless, you still choose to do what you do.

    Some say why would God send some to Hell. What if He doesn’t. People simply choose it because they can’t stand the alternative. They want to get as far away from Him as they can. Well, they eventually do.

  9. “….consider that every second is given to you by a loving and long suffering Creator…”

    Can you prove that? And if something has the ability to create everything else out of nothing, for what would it suffer? Because i don’t acknowledge him? Jealous god indeed and that flatly contradicts the loving description.

    Does the baby Jesus weep every time a Buddhist is born? After all, that loving Creator created them too, right? If so, then He must have seen something good in doing so. And if He created Buddhists too (and Muslims), then why do His followers dislike and attempt to persuade everyone else that they must be Christian?

    If something else created all the non-Christian things, then your god isn’t all that after all, is he?

    The problem a lot of us have with Christians is that you don’t make any fucking sense.

  10. Samuel, to “…consider that every second is given to you by a loving and long suffering Creator…” you asked, “What evidence can you provide for this statement?”

    By the things that are made that cannot make themselves. By the testimony of your own conscience that you do wrong. And, by that, that there is an ultimate “Right.”

  11. @Tebow: So, your counterargument for Sam’s correct assertion that Christianity “has done unspeakable damage to every culture it has touched throughout the centuries” is to basically say “Well, we’ve done some good things too”?

    That is weak and evasive. Your faith in god does not, or should not, allow you to use it to ignore or blanket over the literal and cultural moral evils which the practitioners of your Christian faith have historically perpetrated on others.

    You don’t think that non-Christians wonder “Okay, down what possibly dark path is this headed?” every time some over-paid NFL meat bag or a reality TV idiot like Brandon points to heaven or falls to a knee to pray? You Christians have made us all holy gun shy. Your public expressions of your faith aren’t an innocent expression of a belief in, and love of, god anymore. They’re constant reminders of Christianity’s dark past, and the current cultural holy war Christians are waging against what is supposed to be a secular American government and society.

    And perhaps more immediately than this, Christian PDP are also perfect reminders of what hypocrites you are. You don’t love and celebrate god and all his wondrous, diverse creations, because you don’t want many of those wondrous and diverse creations to exist. You hate the naturally-occurring existence of homosexuality, you hate the supposedly god-given free will women have to decide how to deal with pregnancy, and you hate the supposedly god-given free will other people (even within your own religion) have to worship in different ways than you do.

    You’ve been sold a bill of goods, pal, and your Christian PDP is just a way to sell that bill of goods to other weak-minded theistic saps.

    • Dan and Tebow: The other problem with the “well, we did good things, too” argument is the point that Sam Harris makes. To wit, there is literally nothing good that has ever been done in the name of god that couldn’t have been done without religious motivation. Literally nothing. And the point is true.

      • Harris isn’t quite right with that point, however. He might be right since the Enlightenment, but I have a really hard time applying that point pre-Enlightenment, due to the gradual nature of human cultural development.

        But I’ll grant he might be right, if not today then in the next 50-100 years. If we live that long as a civilized species, anyway.

        • No, it assumes that society couldn’t have evolved without religion. And there’s a growing body of anthropological evidence that supports the idea that religion, settlements, and agriculture co-evolved, suggesting that all three were likely necessary conditions. To be fair to Harris, however, a lot of this evidence post-dates his book, so he couldn’t have been aware of it when he was writing.

        • My point re: Harris isn’t about Christianity, it’s about religion in general. It’s possible, based on physical anthropological evidence, that human society in general would not exist had religion not been a part of it.

          However, society exists already, and so we now have the choice to move beyond religion if we want to.

          Still, I’ve threadfucked more than I expected – somehow every response of mine to a Harris comment of yours seems to go that way.

        • Brian: It’s possibly true that the evolution of human society invariably involves various superstitions. However, that doesn’t rebut my original point, which was more specifically about Christianity. Harris, I think, is making a more essential argument about the role of the Abrahamic religions in modern society, and in that context I can’t find an example that proves him wrong.

  12. Lex, I don’t like your language. Consider its not making sense because you’d prefer it not to. There are explanations. There is considerate language.

  13. My close friends who are Christian, and like Sam I do have and treasure them, always explain away the evil done in the name of god to the gift of free which he has bestowed upon us. Again, how weak and evasive. PDP gives all the glory to god, and free will assigns all the hate and damnation to mankind.

    It’s a hell of a way to run a company, because it credits to god the absolute assignation to us of free will and allows us to willfully and even pridefully wash our hands of the quest for the true nature of our deep moral beliefs in the difference between good and evil.

    God is responsible for all of it, we can take ownership of none of it. Well, fuck you, I want to think we are greater than that. Believing in god and pointing your finger to heaven every time you make a touchdown or deflower a cheerleader is an insult to the inherent greatness of our potential and a crutch upon which to hang unquestioned and unexamined failure. It keeps us from learning who we are, who we can be, and why we can be better than the things we do.

    Every time I see idiots like Brandon on “Survivor” point to heaven and praise the lord, I think “When is shit like this going to stop holding back our intellectual and sociological evolution as a species?”

    Because that’s what god does, holds us back and down and keeps us from becoming gods ourselves.

  14. Seriously, Gary? I used one bad word and didn’t even direct at you in the manner of personal attack and you’re going to scold me for naughty language?

    There are not explanations that follow logic/make rational sense. I’ve read your book multiple times, chunks of it in Greek even. It is, on-the-whole, an interesting mythology with a great deal of good that could come from it; the same set of good things that can come from any other world mythology. But your faith’s practitioners since the time of Constantine (the anniversary of which was late last week, btw) have mangled what good is in your book and thrown away much of the good that was part of your religion before it sold its soul to the Roman Empire for riches and power.

    When you can show me Christians, the majority of them, walking Jesus’ walk in the real world, every day rather than brandishing public displays of piety to a church that your lord and savior had nothing to do with…then we can start talking about explanations.

    I’ll start listening when you start giving away all your possessions to live a humble life in service to your fellow man, and that goes for Tim Tebow and all your wealthy church fathers too.

    I know Christianity pretty well, Gary. And my only conclusion is to echo Gandhi and say, I like your Christ, but i do not like Christians or the Church that creates them in its own image.

    …or you can actually provide some evidence to exemplify your explanations.

  15. I could sit here and educate you on the Crusades and such, but you’d only come up with more ignorant examples of why to live a hateful, atheistic life. But make no mistake, the reason you hate Tebow so much (while denying it) is because he is a mirror to the failures you chumps are as people. He’s a good and successful man, and you’re all semi-illiterate losers who can barely put a sentence together. If there wasn’t such a difference between what Tebow does on his knees and what you guys do, there is really no reason to care about what he does.

    • Oh, Tebow, I’m not an atheist. Far from it. I argue with Sam over Harris’ book “The End of Faith” precisely because I’m NOT an atheist. I’m just not Christian because I’ve logically proven that god, at least as Christians understand him, can’t exist.

      I despise PDPs because it points out that, when it comes to religion, I’m an oppressed minority in a country where religious rights are supposedly guaranteed but where people like you deem people like me to be second-class citizens.

  16. “Okay, let’s test this hypothesis a tad. Give me an example of the good done by Christians that could not have been done without them.”

    This is a ridiculous question. It’s like asking me to name something *you* did that was good that couldn’t have been done without you. Maybe all the good things you have done in your life could have been done by someone else, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get credit for them.

    Much *could* have been done without Christianity, but much wasn’t. After all, Jesus came into a world where it was commonplace to nail people to crosses for simply talking about being nice and healing people. Christianity made the conditions possible for a kinder world. To deny this is to be historically obtuse.

    • “Christianity made the conditions possible for a kinder world.”

      And this just shows how little you know about Buddhism, Taoism, or Hinduism. Christianity doesn’t have any particular claim to greatness just because you believe it. I often find I respect Islam more than Christianity, because at least Islam is up front about violence being OK – Christianity has to commit hypocrisy in order to slaughter other people in the name of saving them.

  17. I would point out to those with open minds here this little fact. Notice the sleight of hand here. Christianity is to get all the blame for all the perceived things it has done wrong and none of the credit for the things it did right. Wars would have never happened without Christianity (yeah, right), but its hospitals were something anyone could have done. Heads I win, tails you lose.

    Again, typical atheist logic.

    • Tebow: I want to thank you for dropping by. With a post like this, it’s always helpful when someone who disagrees proves your point.

      In any case, I am, and always have been, willing to give credit where it’s due. Saying that a thing could have been done without Christians is a) true, but b) doesn’t say they didn’t do it. If you’d actually read WHAT I WROTE, and had extended the courtesy of considering that I might actually mean what I said, it would be obvious that I give fair credit. As I do with the greatest human being I have ever personally known, my devoutly Christian grandmother. Or with another of the best people I know, the guy I asked to be best man in my wedding. And so on.

      But if you admit that I actually said that and that I meant it, it does serious damage to the straw man job you’ve constructed to argue with.

      In any case, just as I am willing to credit Christianity for its accomplishments (and by the way, my doctoral dissertation dealt largely with centuries of Christian accomplishments), I need to hear the Tebows of the world owning the atrocities of Christian history. And I don’t. Never have.

      Others in this thread have neatly noted the no-lose game of Christian ideology. Own the success, blame the failure on someone else. But for people who think intelligently about society and humanity in general, accountability matters. You want the praise, you take the blame.

      • Sam: “just as I am willing to credit Christianity for its accomplishments (and by the way, my doctoral dissertation dealt largely with centuries of Christian accomplishments), I need to hear the Tebows of the world owning the atrocities of Christian history. And I don’t. Never have.”

        He he – reminds me of the movie Dogma, esp. Cardinal Glick arguing with the Last Zion and the 13th Apostle: “Mistakes were made….”

  18. I’m perfectly willing to take the blame for the things Christianity has done wrong, but often the complaints about Christianity are based on ignorance or idiocy or bias. Now, if we want to talk about atrocities, we could talk about the roughly 100 million murders that atheistic regimes have been responsible for in the last century alone. You can’t talk about Christian misdeeds without comparing it to the philosophy that aims to replace it. If Christianity by your measure is cruel, what do you call the atheist philosophy responible for the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror and the Russian gulags and Mao’s mass slaughters?

    But no, we don’t want to do that. Doesn’t fit your dumb meme.

    I read what you wrote. I wasn’t impressed, but I read it. However, you clearly haven’t read what I wrote, which is why you never answered my original complaint that, according to your logic, you must be more insincere for every new person who witnesses you act.

    • Tebow, your original point was a non sequitur, so of course Sam didn’t address it. You chose to ignore the difference between a public figure like Tebow acting in a public arena where the public is all but compelled to observe the PDP to a private citizen acting in a semi-private forum that no-one is forced to read who doesn’t visit of their own free will. So how does your logic follow, exactly?

    • Tebow: I don’t think anyone here would ever deny the atrocities that have been committed by non-religious types. Can you point me to your source for that 100M number, though – I’d like to see that.

      You’ll never find a complaint about Christianity that results from ignorance coming from me, though. I grew up VERY Christian. A vast majority of the people I know and have known in my life have been Christian. I’ve certainly studied Christianity a good bit and wrote a PhD dissertation that examined the role of Christianity in driving technological development over the last several thousand years.

      Bias? Well, depends on what you mean. If you mean preconceived and ideological, then no. Not a shred of that. If you mean have rational and deliberate considerations of the evidence led me to informed conclusions, that’s another story entirely. By that measure, I’m also biased against child abuse and world hunger.

  19. What do I see when I see PDP (at least in the US Christian sense)? I see someone essentially wearing a cheap slogan T-shirt that reads, Proud Hypocritical Bullying Liar. It’s the very act of the PDP that clues me in to the hypocrisy. I need no other evidence.

    Let’s accept, for the sake of argument, that Jesus is God. Through the miracle of absolutely perfect recall and inspired journalism, no less than 40 years after the disputable fact of his walking around talking to people and doing things, his words, God’s very own personal words find themselves verbatim in the Good News transcripts selected by the Holy Editorial Board. God himself, clothed in his Jesus suit, says a great many things about how we (read: the Jews he was speaking to, which I’m not and I wasn’t there) ought to behave. He makes occasional reference to the rewards for doing so, thus advocating for a species of ethical egoism over altruism. He also makes infrequent reference to other advances in Sheol that he must have forgotten to tell his Chosen People about over the previous few thousand years, a hell of torment.

    To believe, REALLY believe, that there is a God, that he incarnated as Jesus, and that he said some things, is to believe that those things said came from the very mouth of God himself. That to ignore those things by behaving otherwise is to guarantee consignment to eternal torment. Yet people who profess to believe behave glaringly otherwise. To wit, they behave as if they, themselves do not actually believe in the risk of torment, for if they did, they would most certainly not run afoul of God’s own dictates.

    One such dictate is entirely topical here. Matthew 6:6 – But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. [NIV]

    PDP thus flies directly in the face of the dictates of God himself. There’s the hypocrisy. To engage in PDP is to directly refute the belief in eternal torment. And, as you noted, it becomes all about the person engaging in PDP and not at all about God. There’s the pride.

    That same person is thus, while evidencing their own lack of faith, espousing that very faith, evangelizing it, to all onlookers as if to say, “there is a fiction in which I don’t believe in which you should.” There’s the lie.

    When you take enough proud, hypocritical liars and wrap them in flags and bibles, you have a voting bloc that hesitates not at all to enforce legislatively, judicially, and by executive decree, the very things in which they evidently do NOT believe on everybody. There’s the bullying.

    Obviously, this doesn’t apply to all Christians, but it applies to enough of them, either by their direct actions or by their complicit silence, as to stain the entire body of them.

    This, then, is the source of my own righteous indignation and rebellion. To observe this in action, daily, ubiquitously, makes me feel like a black man at a Klan rally, unwelcome even a little, subject to the great, ugly evil unfolding before me, and nearly powerless to do anything about it. This is the current state of oppression as I see it.

  20. Brian, I don’t deem you a second class citizen, I just deem you as wrong. If you want to try being a second class citizen, head over to an atheist country like 20th century Russian and be a priest in the Orthodox Church. When they get done torturing you, you can complain to Stalin until he ships you to Siberia and shoots you in the back of the head.

    By the way, you haven’t logically proved anything. At least not to me. Making as assertion like that is not a convincing argument.

    • Axioms of a Christian god: God is omnipotent, God is omniscient, and God is benevolent. If the Christian God lacks one, then Christianity’s God is disproven.
      Further axiom: Evil exists (or even simply “bad things happen.”).
      Argument 1: If God is omnipotent and omniscient and he permits evil to exist, then he cannot be benevolent – he has the knowledge and the power to stop evil but chooses not to, which is the antithesis of benevolence. Therefore the Christian god doesn’t exist.
      Argument 2: If God is omnipotent and benevolent and he permits evil to exist, then he cannot be omniscient – he has the power to stop evil and does so when he’s aware of it, but since evil continues to exist, he simply cannot know about it all. Therefore the Christian god doesn’t exist.
      Argument 3: If God is omniscient and benevolent and evil still exists, then he cannot be omnipotent – he knows about evil and he wants to stop it, but he lacks the power to do so. Therefore the Christian god doesn’t exist.

      Now, if you think, as my Jewish friends do, that God doesn’t have to be benevolent, then you’re fine – that kind of god can exist. But the God I was raised to believe in had those three characteristics, and they’re mutually incompatible – any two are possible.

      However, there’s an even better argument.
      Axioms: Multiple religions exist. God is omnipotent. God is benevolent.
      Argument 1: God is omnipotent, so he’s capable of making himself understood perfectly if he chooses to do so. Since multiple religions exist, he has clearly not chosen to make himself understood perfectly. That means he’s clearly not benevolent OR he’s not actually capable of making himself perfectly understood. Either logically disproves the Christian god, and he doesn’t even have to be omniscient this time.

      Someone once pointed out to me that God is above logic, so no logical argument mattered. But that doesn’t work either, because if God is omnipotent, he’s capable of making himself perfectly understood to mere mortals. That he’s chosen not to means he’s either NOT omnipotent or he’s not benevolent, and again he’s not the Christian god.

      Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam are the three largest religions in the world, Tebow. I can’t help but chortle when someone claims that any one of them is a persecuted minority. Torture, hate, and violence are wrong no matter what. So is evangelizing, demonizing, and dehumanizing, and those are what I’m subject to from too many of your fellow Christians. As most non-Christians (or non-Jews) in the US.

  21. Tebow: Thank you for proving my point.

    “[A]nd you’re all semi-illiterate losers”.

    A) The hubris. I can’t speak for everyone here, but I’ll stand behind Sam, his PhD, and his field (journalism). Semi-illiterate? Really?

    B) Matthew 5:22 – But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. [NIV]

    IF you actually believed your own BS, you’d tread far more carefully when it comes to ad hominem, no?

  22. Frank’s argument is silly. His idea, which I don’t like him need 10,000 words to say, is that if someone gives into temptation then he never believed in God in the first palce. Very silly. Temptation is *temptation*. It wouldn’t be tempting if it wasn’t. The Christian philophy says that mankind is fallen. There is no greater proff of this than that, even while in possession of the truth, he nevertheless chooses evil. It doesn’t ptove there is no God, or that scripture is false. It proves man is in need of grace.

    Also, Matthew’s verse is not a condemnation of public piety– otherwise why would we have a public Mass. Does anyone think that Tebow doesn’t pray in private? Get real…

  23. Tebow, please, sit here and educate us about the crusades. Pretty please.

    I know i could use a refresher on some of them. Please concentrate on the early ones; the one’s where the Church busied itself exterminating other Christians. “Kill them all. God will know his own.” Or maybe those trips through Constantinople for slaughtering Orthodox Christians on the way to the Holy Land.

    Tell me about this religion of peace and love and how it treated its own. Then, by all means, explain the more commonly known aspects of the Crusades against the evil Muslims. If you have time, an explanation for Christian treatment of Jews right up through the Holocaust would be very much appreciated too.

    P.S. Don’t try to pin that, “Atheists are just as evil and violent…” rap on me. I would never disagree, mostly because i don’t see much relevant difference between humans and our chimp cousins. The point is whether Christianity fundamentally changes our base, primate nature or it doesn’t. Educate me.

    • Lex, I’m reminded that one of the reasons the US has a non-establisment clause in the Constitution is because of the Christian-on-Christian religious wars that devoured Europe after the Reformation. A nation that has such a clause in its governing document should have a populace who treats all religions, and the lack of religion, with equal respect. Instead we have a nation where too many Christians (and in this case I’m talking about the evangelical, born-again Christians, not your garden variety Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Catholics) think that everyone else is going to Hell or worships Lucifer.

      News flash – Satanists are Christians too, just Christians who reject Christ. I can’t be a Satanist if I reject the existence of Satan just as thoroughly as I reject the existence of the Christian God. That’s just simple logic, people.

      Sorry, time to turn off rant mode….

  24. A) The hubris. I can’t speak for everyone here, but I’ll stand behind Sam, his PhD, and his field (journalism). Semi-illiterate? Really?

    Absolutely. Journalists are known for their advanced knowledge of theology.

    B) Matthew 5:22 – But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

    Again, if you want to look at it that way, temptation is temptaion. But the truth is actually more complex. You have to look at motivation, not just action. Calling someone a fool if it is to save his soul is an act of mercy, like chopping off an arm is acceptable if you are trying to save a patient’s life. These subtle distinctions are maybe a little complex for your current skill level. Like most partially educated people, you can read the verse, but you can’t understand it.

  25. Tebow: Yes, I’m long-winded. I stand behind my point, which you mistake when speaking for me, in large part by being too pithy. It’s not about giving in to temptation. It’s about actually believing that, if I do A, then B will happen. If I jump off this cliff and land 100 feet down on the jagged rocks below, then I will wind up a bleeding, broken pulp. I believe that about cliffs. It absolutely informs my decision to not walk off them. So far it works wonders. If I actually believe that “sin” (i.e., acting contrary to God Jesus’ words) leads inexorably to damnation, I would damn well listen to what he says, especially when it’s actually pretty easy to do. The temptation to do otherwise exists, sure. You evidence that yourself while you cave in to it here. What you do NOT evidence is possession of some truth with a capital T. My argument isn’t against the existence of god, or for the falsity of scripture. My argument is against the actual existence in your alleged faith in those things.

    As for “grace”, good luck proving your point without recourse to further illogic.

    As for Matthew’s verse not being a condemnation of public piety, I would like to thank you for making it clear to me that this is a waste of time. You obviously something in that verse I fail to, because when I read it, that is exactly what it condemns. We are at loggerheads. But, you do realize, I hope, that there were no public Christian masses when Jesus spoke, right? That was a few centuries later. I hope you’ll pardon me, in your good Christian forgiveness, for thinking you incapable of either logic or reading comprehension based solely on the merits of what you write.

  26. Tell me about this religion of peace and love and how it treated its own. Then, by all means, explain the more commonly known aspects of the Crusades against the evil Muslims. If you have time, an explanation for Christian treatment of Jews right up through the Holocaust would be very much appreciated too.

    I have neither the time nor patience to give you an education that you should get by reading. That you have bought into every single slander against Christianity ought to tell you something about your objectivity. That said, the Crusades were mainly a defensive act against a religion that to this day means to spread itself “by the sword.” As far as I know, Islam didn’t start in Palestine and it certainly didn’t spread far into France (when it was finally beaten back) by the use of persuasion. But enough. A person has to know when someone’s ignorance is too large to defeat in an internet thread. And you, Lex, are such a person.

  27. Shorter Samual: I still haven’t answered the original complaint. I am avoiding it because I know I can’t. All this other stuff is a nice smokescreen to mask this fact.

      • Journalists are known for their advanced knowledge of theology.

        Nice sidestep, Tebow, and one that demonstrates your intellectual dishonesty. Because you somehow manage to pretend that there was nothing in that paragraph of mine that spoke directly to my qualifications on matters theological. But go back and try again, and please pay close attention to the “grew up Christian” part and the dissertation that was largely about Christianity. Do YOU have doctoral level work directly related to the intelectual history of Christianity?

        Also, since I’m on the subject, I had the pleasure of studying, in that doc program, with the guy who is generally regarded as the world’s foremost authority on Christianity and media in culture.

    • Tebow makes an important point re: Islam and the Crusades. As bad as the Christians were, they weren’t the only bad guys in the movie.

      The problem is that with respect to the point on the table, Christianity and Islam are the same thing. Two faces, same coin. So pointing to them as if that lets you off the hook doesn’t work.

  28. Tebow: Really, truly, my last post on this. You further prove my point about this dialog with you being a waste of time:

    “Absolutely. Journalists are known for their advanced knowledge of theology.”

    Since when does literacy equate with any knowledge of theology, much less an advanced knowledge? Seems to me you’d do quite well locking yourself in a closet with a dictionary for a while. Godspeed.

  29. Brian, your post is far off topic. I could answer it thoroughly, but I would have to spend a long time to do so. I have football to watch, and, frankly, I wouldn’t change your mind anyway because you don’t seem to be truly questing for knowledge, but believe you’re in possession of it completely. That said, your argument is not nearly as cut and dried as you think, and it’s very easily rebuffed with the concept of free will and the fact that any parent knows that nothing grows, certainly not a soul, without some pain. For instance, in order for a child to strengthen its neck muscles, you must give it “tummy time.” Many children hate this, and yet without it the greater danger of crib death is possible– or simply retarded development for walking, etc. It is therefore an act of love to make the child feel pain. Also, why would a loving God want to make drones who will worship him without choice. But in order for there to be choice there must be the chance of separation from God. Separation from God *is* pain. And so on. Again, these points have been answered a million times by intellects far greater than mine. And of course, there are any number of Christian denominations that do not think God is all powerful. I don’t feel the need to educate you when such books are easily available– and have been for a long time. The Book of Job, for instance.Anyway, the idea that you have “logically” proved there is no Christian God is, frankly, laughable. You’ve done no such thing. You’ve not even define which “Christian” God you’re talking about.

    • Sorry, Tebow, but free will doesn’t change the argument in any way. Neither does the parental argument. As you yourself pointed out, simply asserting something doesn’t make it true. Put up or shut up, Tebow.

      Oh, and you’ve misread Job, I’m afraid. The Adversary is only doing those things to Job because God permits it – the text makes it clear that God has the power to prevent the Adversary from slaughtering Job’s family and otherwise ruining his life, but God doesn’t act. Which pretty much means that the Old Testament itself demonstrates that God isn’t benevolent. Re-read Job with an open mind next time.

      The Book of Job is probably the single most influential thing I’ve ever read with respect to my religion, because God’s mistreatment of Job is what drove me away from Christianity.

  30. All this talk about doctoral work– you do realize that’s an argument from authority fallacy, right? Because you have a PhD doesn’t make you right. It just means every time you are wrong you can whip out the degree and claim victory.

    • Actually, Tebow, the fallacy is “Argument to misleading authority.” If Sam actually is an authority, it’s not an argument to a misleading authority fallacy. If Sam was claiming his authority on Christianity after doing a dissertation on Hinduism, then you’d have a leg to stand on. Alas, he didn’t and he is.

      Nice try, though.

    • All this talk about doctoral work– you do realize that’s an argument from authority fallacy, right? Because you have a PhD doesn’t make you right. It just means every time you are wrong you can whip out the degree and claim victory.

      To repeat, shorter Tebow: anything you say proves I’m right. If authority is irrelevant, then why did you seek to dismiss the argument a moment ago because you thought I was a mere “journalist”? Hmmm.

      Separation from God *is* pain.

      No it isn’t. It’s been one of the most liberating things that has ever happened to me.

  31. Non-sequitor? Please. Each is a public demonstration of beliefs. The comparison is valid. It won’t be answered because it can’t be. It’s a complete loser.

  32. Nonsense, the argument from authority must hold two parts. One that the person is an authority, and the other is that there is a consensus in the field that his opinion is right. Since there is no consensus among Christian “experts” about public piety, say, then he cannot use his authority to rebuff other arguments, but must make his argument stand on its merits.

    Here: educate yourself:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority

    • Ummm. So the authority has to be from “Christian experts”? Yeah, I missed that part entirely.

      Let me apply this principle to another argument and see how it feels. There is no consensus among pedophilic experts that NAMBLA is wrong to promote sex with boys, therefore…

      I don’t know. Doesn’t seem right that we should need a consensus on the part of the people committing the offense in order to conclude that it’s wrong. And I can’t find that Wikipedia page, either.

  33. Enjoy your liberation, Sam. But you won’t answer the point and now you’re boring me. I’m going to liberate myself from this thread and go watch football.

  34. “That you have bought into every single slander against Christianity ought to tell you something about your objectivity.”

    No, Tebow, that’s not slander, because all the things that i mentioned are very much a part of the history around the Crusades. I have read quite a bit. In fact, i have a degree in religion. I asked you to educate me because you professed to have some knowledge that the rest of us don’t. Given that you, apparently, have great knowledge and wisdom, i simply asked you to address things that would be difficult … that is exemplify your profound knowledge.

    That your explanation for the underlying motives behind the Crusades – and not, by the way, the ones i wanted the most clarification on – boils down to “They started it,” tells me just about all i need to know.

    And again, if the point of (some) Crusades was to liberate the Holy Land…and i’m sure you know that there is no scholarly consensus that the stated reasons were the only reasons for those expeditions, then i’d still like an explanation for the slaughter of Christians in Constantinople.

    I am very much interested in Christian history, granted, the formation of Christianity before c. 300 is much, much more interesting than anything that came after. Mostly because it’s this small, rather hazy window that’s our only insight into the actual religion rather than Christianity as a willing tool of the Roman State.

  35. Lex, in answer to your question. See 10/30/11 message from Andy Stanley, Northpoint Community Chruch.

  36. Jeez, everyone here has a degree in religion. People who hate religion are always busy getting religious degrees, I guess. You now, someone might just question the reality of some of these degrees. After all, I could claim to be, say, Tim Tebow. Doesn’t mean I really am.

    Now, for any interested people coming across this thread, please take note what has happened. Because they are very standard tactics in internet debates of all kinds, but especially used by atheists.

    1. Some ridiculous thing is said by the atheist. Such as, public displays of [anything] are by nature less genuine because they are made in public. The more public, the less genuine. The fact that the atheist is speaking public, and does not realize it, says everything about his ability to reason well.

    2. A theist points out that statement is ridiculous.

    3. The atheist and all his buds bring up all kinds of nonsense that has nothing to do with the original point. Most of these things are complete nonsense, biased, or flat-out stupid, but it would take the theist hours and hours to correct them on each and every stupid point that is made. It is much easier to bring up an objection than to answer it. Very easy to say, “The Crusades!” Very difficult and time-consuming to explain the causes and justification for the Crusades.

    4. The theist tries to bring the point back on topic.

    5. More ridiculous off topic assertions are made. They become increasingly hysterical and so many it would take a troupe of scholars weeks to answer them all. Still, the atheists (and pantheists), outnumbering the theist many to one, bring up ever more points that have nothing to do with the original point. When the theist successfully rebuffs some of these points, they simply make more or say the theist is not qualified to argue or declare everything he says “proves” the point they made, which is never about the original point.

    6. The atheists claim victory when the theist decides the level of intellect present does not warrant his continued effort.

    7. The theist goes back to watching football.

  37. Another strong atheist argument. Did someone bring up ad hominem attacks earlier? Yeah, that’s right. They did.

    • I’m not really sure what you mean. I was merely noting that your past comment was so unhinged from any recognizable objective reality that it looked like what I’d expect of over-the-top satire. I’ve written satire myself, and the secret to making it work is to begin with what the target would say, then exaggerate. I mean, you characterize internet debates on religious subjects as “Some ridiculous thing is said by the atheist.” That’s too silly for it to be uttered by a serious person, so I begin to wonder if I’ve been going back and forth with somebody all morning whose real goal was to subtly discredit Christians.

      I don’t know you, so I can’t say. But if you are, in fact, a non-Christian playing satirist, my hat’s off to you. You really had us going.

  38. Yep, and after someone tries to actually engage Tebow and asks him to back up anything he’s talked about with some substance, he’s off on a tangent.

    Did you notice how long it took for me to bring up my degree (which actually centered on Mahayana doctrine after a broad survey of the world’s religions; yours really isn’t that interesting from an intellectual/philosophical perspective)? And i wouldn’t have done it except your answer to me asking you to actually bring forth some of your vast knowledge was, “Do I have to educate you. Read a book.”

    I’ve read lots of books. Lots on Christianity, like i said much earlier, i’ve read your book multiple times. I’ve read serious books about the Crusades. I’m starting to wonder if you have.

  39. BTW, looks like someone’s getting Tebowed for real on the turf at Mile High Stadium. Suffering, he is, like Jesus.

  40. Picture books don’t count as serious books.

    We are now several more posts down the road without an answer to Post 2.

    • Tebow: You forgot to add the “neener neener.”

      There’s a lesson here. When I was young, we were taught in church how to testify to and defend our faith. We were taught the right, smart answers.

      The problem, as one learns the hard way, is that those arguments work great in a vacuum, against an opponent who sticks to the script. But that script doesn’t account for critical thinkers with real educations. I am a former Christian instead of a current Christian in part because I was aware of where the things I had been taught to believe didn’t stand up to scrutiny.

      Something to reflect on, perhaps.

  41. I am a former atheist, for over 25 years, and I have as much education as you. I don’t live in a vacuum. Far from it. Your arguments are weak, even given atheism’s weak arguments. It’s like none of you even bothered to read Nietzsche or Kant or, for that matter, any Christian apologetics, which long ago supplied the answers to most of the objections made here. Do you really believe nobody ever thought up an answer to them? Boiling it down, the entire argument here, taken in total, seems to be this: Christians did bad things, therefore Christianity is wrong. But this is irrational. The truth is not dependent on good acts or constant adherence to a belief. Hypocrisy does not defeat reality. If a person says drugs are bad for you, and then does drugs, it doesn’t make drugs good for you. Christianity is either true or it is not, but it is not untrue because you don’t like (or know anything about) the Crusades.

    Frankly, Sammy, I see no evidence here that justifies your vanity. Declaring yourself a champion of reason doesn’t make you one.

    After all, you still haven’t defended the reason behind things become less genuine the more public they are.

    You know, from Post 2.

    Now I’m done with you. This is pointless. You will find out soon, very soon, just how wrong you are.

    • 1: You keep carrying on about “#2” as if you’d made a real point. Of course, you ignored Brian’s response in #35, which I think is pretty clear. You’ve also ignored about 85% of the substance laid before you in this thread as though it never happened, which is what you do when you don’t have answers.

      2: You have dismissed education and detailed familiarity with the issues in question, and that type of anti-intellectualism is central to the Christian rhetorical method. That you mention the names of Kant and Nietzsche here proves that … well, that you’ve heard their names. And you have a PhD? In what, and from what institution?

      3: You misrepresent the positions of others in fairly stunning displays of intellectual dishonesty, such as “Christians did bad things, therefore Christianity is wrong.” That has never been the point.

      4: In the end, you come full circle in proving my initial point about Christian arrogance: “You will find out soon, very soon, just how wrong you are.” I couldn’t have scripted a straw man any better, really. And the thing that people like me realize, and that people like you seem not to understand, is this: if I were wrong, it would give you a great deal of satisfaction. That your hyper-violent war god would commit to eternal anguish those who disagree with you, that is the source of an eternity of smugness.

      You promise that you’re done with me. We’ll see, I guess.

  42. Yeah, I’m done., Just noting that I read your tripe and you still refused to answer #2, which has never been answered by anyone since calling it a nonsequitor is not a response. Satisfaction? Nope. I wasted almost a whole day trying to talk sense to you. But I failed. You pride in your intellectual abilities is too much for any humility before your Creator to worm through. I take no pleasure in that. Of course, neither will you. Have a nice life.

    • Just to assure closure, then, it has been noted that the comment in #35 more than answers your all-important non-sequitur in #2. You ignored it when it was made and have done so several more times, including just now, in the theory that if you do so it never happened and that intelligent readers won’t notice.

      You take smug pleasure in the idea that those who disagree with you will suffer for all eternity, and yet I’M the one who’s prideful.

      And you assert that you have as much education as I do, but when called on it you pretend you never said it.

      Thanks for your time today. You’ve been incredibly helpful and we couldn’t have done it without you.

  43. Oh, Tebow, you’re such a picture of class and intellectual rigor.

    Come back when you’re actually ready to have a discussion rather than complaining that no one will discuss things with you and how stupid everyone else is.

    In any case, i’m only too happy to have let my Detroit Lions express my feelings about Tim Tebow on the football field. Even better that they were Tebowing after sacking his sorry ass. Take heart, Donkey fans, if this keeps up maybe you’ll get to go with plain old Luck as your next superstitious quarterback.

  44. #35 Tebow, your original point was a non sequitur, so of course Sam didn’t address it. You chose to ignore the difference between a public figure like Tebow acting in a public arena where the public is all but compelled to observe the PDP to a private citizen acting in a semi-private forum that no-one is forced to read who doesn’t visit of their own free will. So how does your logic follow, exactly?

    Okay, I was giving you the benefit of the doubt and thought you might want to give a real answer to the question. Since you declined, and have doubled down on this answer, I will simply pull this apart and then walk away for good. Okay?

    Tebow is not a “public” figure in any different sense than a writer posting essays on a (um, semi-public?) website is a public figure. What makes a public figure? That he’s on television? That he’s making a lot of money? That he has a larger audience? What? The fact is both agents and venues, the NFL QB and television, and a writer and a website are public, not private, figures and ventures.

    The public is no more “compelled” to watch football than I was “compelled” to read this illogical dreck. People watch a Broncos game of their own free will just as they come here of their own free will.

    This is maybe the worst possible answer to my point. It shows exactly how poorly reasoned every Tebow antagonist here has been. And if this small point is so poorly reasoned, how exactly is anyone to trust you when it comes to important, complicated issues, like whether God exists or whether Christianity is true?

    Sadly, the lot of you have not even been an intellectual workout. You call yourselves educated, but it seems to me you are merely indoctrinated. There’s no depth to your knowledge. You erect poorly reasoned or strawmen arguments, work the ad hominem attacks, and otherwise avoid any kind of serious inspection of your own poorly formed ideas.

    As I said all along, typical atheists.

  45. Wow, I step away for a few hours to carve pumpkins and have dinner with the family and the thread goes even more bonkers.

    So, if I may add something to Sam’s excellent summary: Tebow committed a non-sequitor, committed a fallacy fallacy (incorrectly accusing Sam of committing an argument to misleading authority), showed he’s a hypocrite by accusing Sam of arguing to misleading authority when he was doing it himself, committed another non-sequitor with his “Christian experts on public piety” BS, committed an ad hominem by rejecting Sam’s arguments on the basis that Sam was only a journalist, and generally refused to address logical arguments with opposing logical arguments, preferring to rely on statements instead of logic and facts. I’m sure that I missed a few things, however.

    I’m with Lex on this one.

    For the record, I don’t blame Tebow’s logical inconsistencies today on his Christianity. I just think that he wasn’t up to the task of demonstrating he was correct, for whatever reason. I look forward to his returning another time, possibly commenting on something where someone else here knows a lot (climate/science/tech for me, finance/business for Gavin or wufnik, foreign affairs for Russ, etc). No fair for Sam to have all the fun on his thread. 😉

    • Oh, I don’t blame his logical inconsistencies on his religion, exactly. I think it’s more a case of he’s not committed to thinking his way out of the ideological trap he’s placed himself in. And I’ve certainly known plenty of people who went most of their lives without religion, and then something scared them into it. Sometimes people have drug or booze addictions that nearly kill them, sometimes it’s relationships, work issues, who knows. Having kids does it, as well, because people feel like they have to teach their nippers values and that’s all they know. Again, not talking about premier intellects here, just regular people who lack the wil or skill to work through on the hard questions and answers. So they opt for the easy answers.

      As for you, Tebow, this makes the third time you’ve promised to go away. Your promises aren’t worth much, I’m starting to think.

      In any case, millions of people didn’t hit S&R today hoping to watch football, only to be exposed to an annoying, self-indulgent display of faux-righteousness. There’s an established context here. We’ve been at this for a few years and several thousand posts, and our readers show up with an idea of what the purpose is.

      If they click over to S&R tomorrow and we’re all of a sudden a porn site, that’s another question.

      As I say in the post – which I’m still not sure you read – if I ask you how you beat that cornerback, praise my lord and personal savior is the wrong answer. If I order a Big Mac, I don’t need a testimony. These things seem pretty obvious and the amount of work you’re having to put into twisting it all into something confusing (well, confusing for you – I don’t think the rest of us are terribly baffled) is interesting to watch, I suppose. But just because the wheels are spinning doesn’t mean the car is moving.

      So, are you going away again, or are you the Brett Farve of blog commenting?

  46. First, let me say that your repeated claim of “typical atheist logic” and variants on that phrase are themselves ad hominem.

    S&R gets, on average, in the low tens of thousands of views per month. Tebow gets hundreds of thousands to millions of views every time he plays football and tens to hundreds of thousands of views every day from fans. That difference matters, and it’s the difference between a public figure and the writers here at S&R.

    And don’t kid yourself, Tebow – a stadium is WAY more public than a website is. If S&R got the traffic of the NYTimes or Daily Kos or Fox News, you might fairly compare the site to an authentic public forum. We don’t, so my point that S&R is semi-private (not private, like a closed forum would be). If you’d prefer, I’ll grant “semi-public,” but that’s it. Again, the difference in size matters.

    As for my point about compulsion, let’s talk for a minute about the realities of football. When you’re watching a game, you watch the ball go up and down the field. When someone scores, you see that unless you’re unlucky enough to miss it. When they perform a PDP in the end zone, unless you looked away immediately to chug a beer or deal with the obnoxious fan next to you, you see that too. You are not forced to watch the PDP, but by nature of the fact that you’re in the stadium and watching the ball and the player with it, you are compelled to watch. So yes, you can turn away or close your eyes. But what good Bronco fan will do that?

    Let’s move to an even more clear-cut example – televised games. In the case of televised games, you don’t have a choice about what you watch – you watch what the camera shows you, and if the camera lingers on a PDP, you’re compelled to watch it, again shy of turning your face away or closing your eyes. At least in the case of attending a game you can turn away and still watch the game – the kicker lining up for the extra point, special teams coming on, the defense lining up. When watching a televised game, you don’t get even this level of choice.

    So if you’re a sports fan and the person who scores does a PDP, I say you’re compelled to watch it. Not forced, but compelled.

    And as Sam pointed out, there’s a bait and switch going on. People go to a sporting event expecting to watch sports, not to get Christianity shoved down their optic nerves. You came here knowing what you were getting into – an argument about faith and the appropriateness of public piety as practiced by Tim Tebow and many, many others. I expect that you’d be offended if you went to church one day expecting to learn about the teachings of Jesus and had to sit through a homosexual kiss by your priest after every “amen.”

    You committed a non-sequitor, Tebow, along with a host of other informal logical fallacies that I identified in #81 above.

  47. Heh, i’m just waiting for Tebow to come back and share the vast wealth of knowledge he claims to have. “Winning” an argument by claiming that you know things but don’t feel like explaining them is the best rhetorical technique of all time. It’s like saying that God created everything but not being able to prove God’s existence.

  48. Look, if you’re going to keep attacking me, I will come back. And then we’ll all waste more days doing this. I personally think Samuel could use the time to work on his poetry, which is in real need of improvement.

  49. I don’t. And neither do you. Isn’t your PhD in Popular Culture– or something like that? Who were your faculty advisers for your dissertation, Justin Bieber? Lady Gaga? Snoop Dog?

    **deleted by editor**

    By the way again, we should get into a discussion about what ad hominem is. Most people here, especially Brian, can’t tell the difference between an ad hominem argument and a simple insult.

    • You really are getting more hateful, which proves the point I set out to make in the first place. But you’re right – my PhD isn’t in English. It’s in Communications, from a very multidisciplinary program that immersed me in a lot of Cultural Studies (both Brit and American, so everything from Williams to Carey and back again). PoMo theory, which I hated. My particular program had me doing maybe a third of my work outside the school, mostly in English Lit with a smattering of American Studies.

      Now, the MA was, in fact, in English (with a CW concentration).

      None of this automatically makes me right about anything, of course. I simply read, discuss, think and write, and have historically been fortunate to be surrounded by lots of incredibly smart people. Much of what I know comes from discussing and debating with these folks, and so many of the lessons came from having them demonstrate to me that I was wrong.

      I’m pleased with all of this and never had any illusions that I might convince you of anything. No, the real purpose was to make a point for our readers, and your participation helped me do that far better than I could have on my own, so again, thanks.

      At this point, I think I’ve said what I want to say and you have, too. I trust our readers to draw whatever conclusions seem warranted to them.

    • Tebow, you were not simply insulting Sam or Lex or myself. “Typical atheist illogic” and “typical atheist logic” were the terms you used. True, you did not explicitly claim that Sam’s argument was wrong because he’s an atheist, but it was obviously implied. If you care to make your point more explicitly and say that you were only intending to insult Sam, Lex, and myself and that you did not mean to suggest that our arguments were flawed because we’re non-Christians, then I’ll retract my claim of you having committed an ad hominem fallacy.

      Similarly, if you’d care to demonstrate where, exactly, any of us attacked your arguments by claiming that YOU were the problem, then I’ll also retract my claim that you committed the fallacy fallacy (claiming something is a fallacy when it isn’t) with respect to your ad hominem claims against us.

  50. You said you should not have public displays of piety.

    What is this essay then? Isn’t this just public display against piety? Funny.

  51. Also–

    You should read Yale professor Lamin Sannah’s book, “Who’s Christianity is it anyway?”

    He is an African who basically says in the book that Christianity has done less damage to the cultures of Africa then secularism. He says secularism does not believe in an afterlife, and in the spiritual world. That worldview comes in and mocks Africans and their deeply spiritual sense. Christianity, on the other hand for many Africans completes their story, instead of nullifying it.

    Is it any wonder that in Africa and Asia right now we are seeing the largest growth in Christianity in history?

  52. Crazy, I recommend you read comments #35 and 83 before you make claims like you did in #90. Summary – Tebow is a celebrity and public figure; the S&R authors aren’t; the difference matters.

    • Upon further review:

      Tebow, we’re not here for personal attacks, although sometimes things get nastier than we’d like. Fine. But we’re especially not here for the purpose of slandering literary journals. The journal you insult is a very highly regarded publisher of original writing by Southern authors. Whether my inclusion in their pages is to their credit or whether I drag their reputation down is another argument, perhaps, but no, you’ll not be launching ad hominems against them just because you think it will upset me.

      That said, the comment is yet another case of intellectual dishonesty. So we want to use Duotrope’s ratings of selectivity as the yardstick, huh? You found some of the places I have published and snooped through them for the one that’s the most lenient, and then you try and use that as a stick against me (and them)? That’s called cherry-picking, and it’s yet another reason why I knew you were lying when you started talking about how educated you are.

      Why didn’t you mention the one with the 2.38% acceptance rate? Or the one with the 2.17% acceptance rate?

      Whether I’m a good poet or not is incredibly unrelated to this thread or the original post, and the fact that I have been pubbed in some highly selective journals doesn’t make me the stuff of legend. But your attempted dishonesty here does provide further evidence of a certain form of moral corruption.

      If you’d like to behave responsibly – and as silly as much of what you have written is, you didn’t cross the line until this morning – please feel free to do so. But until it’s clear that you can be trusted not to use our site as a vehicle to insult those who have no part in this discussion, consider yourself on moderation.

  53. Free speech champions, I see. I didn’t slander the journal. I described it exactly as it is: a journal that takes over 70% of the material sent to it and ranks as the 4th easiest market to get work inside. It’s also not highly regarded. I wouldn’t list it on a cover letter if you paid me. You simply censored me because it’s true and it hurts. Well, okay.

    As for the ones with the lower acceptance rate, such as storySouth, you published in there in 2004! When the journal was fairly new. (What was their acceptance rate then? Probably nowhere near 2%.) So if we’re going to talk about cherrypicking, we must also talk about deception.

    Face it, you’re not much accomplished as a writer, not nearly as accomplished as I am (hint, hint). You guys have been the people to brag so much about your “expert” status. So when you and your buds throw out your credentials as proof of your opinion being superior to mine, this is problematic, no? Shouldn’t you be accomplished in the field in which you have a Master’s degree? At least more than the person who is supposedly so uneducated and stupid?

    Here’s the funniest part– the editor of the journal I supposedly slandered, she’s a devout Christian.

    [Admin: You haven’t been censored, Tebow. You’ve been warned that this community has standards and expects commenters to adhere to them. If you’re unsure what those standards are, please click on the “Comment Policy” below.]

    • You’re taking liberties with the facts again, but that’s the MO we’ve come to expect. Nobody here says we’re right because we have more letters after our names than you. You said we don’t have a platform to know what we’re talking about and I noted that, well, I do know a thing or two. That is, I was responding to your challenge re: credibility. I then said that the degrees don’t make me right automatically and I also made clear that none of my pub credits, whether they measure up to your standards or not, necessarily mean I’m Yeats. Some folks like my work, any number of editors have taken a pass, and I keep working to improve.

      Your comment certainly asks the reader to think otherwise, but hey, it’s all there in the thread to read in black and white.

      As for the editor in question, I don’t know her intimately, but I’d be surprised to hear her coming out in favor of Tebowesque PDPs, which, lest we forget, is what this thread is allegedly about. I won’t speak for her, though.

      And as for your credentials as a writer, hell, I don’t know. You may be one of the best writers alive. Or you could be making shit up – not much we’ve seen here supports your claim to the levels of education you’ve claimed. Not much way I can know for sure, though, while you hide behind “Tebow@Jesus.com.” If you are, congratulations, although I’m even more disappointed in you for taking a cheap shot at a journal that published your work. That says something … I don’t know.

  54. Thanks Brian I read the posts.

    It seems the argument in both posts essentially say–Tebow is MORE public then the figures in this blog and therefore should be held to a higher standard? Is that right? That since he gets millions of viewers every month and you guys only get tens of thousands of viewers, it isn’t the same thing?

    I was going off the fact that we are all public beings, and whether we are viewed by one or by millions, we are still all displays various acts of “piety” or in this case “anti-piety.” Obviously both are based in opinion, and as you have said in other places in this blog, when we express our opinions publicly they are always meant to sway others towards our view.

    All I was saying is that if we all judge humans equally, regardless of how famous they are, then we all are expressing ourselves publicly and the reasons to do so is to sway others. You are no different then Tebow. I am no different then you–by posting this comment. That is, we are all wishing to sway others to our side of things. Dawkins and Harris publicly speaking out their issues should be no different then Tebow “speaking” out his issues. Right?

    Cheers guys.

  55. Oh and I went to the definition of “public figure” link you sent: It seems the distinction matters only for (from the website): “A term usually used in the context of libel and defamation actions”

    So again, my point is that, shouldn’t the standard be the same for everyone? How are you, or I different then Tebow? We are all wishing to sway others to our views. Saying he is more important is not a good enough argument for me. Thanks.

    • Crazy, no, the standard shouldn’t be the same for everyone. People with a high profile have an outside influence on other people. As an example related to this discussion, look at the actions of Catholic priests who have abused children. They had a position of power and authority and abused it to enable their pedophilia. Their position as leaders in a religious community makes their crimes worse than if they’d only been a sicko. They are held to a higher standard and should be.

      Tebow, by nature of being a sports celebrity and Christian, has been made into a community leader, both of the community of Broncos fans and of a community of Christians. This means that his behavior should be held to a higher standard. And as much as I’d love it to be the case, S&R simply doesn’t have a high enough profile to qualify as leaders in the community of liberal blogs. Perhaps one day, but not today.

      The same reasoning applies to politicians who demonstrate that they’re actions don’t line up with their words – as political leaders they are held to a higher standard. Well, supposedly, anyway.

      You may well be no different from me as we discuss these issues. But we are both quite different from a high profile figure such as Tebow (or Dawkins).

  56. Ok. Thanks Brian.

    I think you may have nothing to worry about in a year or two. Tebow looks like he sucks as a QB and he will be out of the league in 3-4 years. Ha!

    As for Tebow and Dawkins–I guess that is my point–there are “famous” people on both sides of the issue use their piety or anti-piety to sway people. Maybe you are right there is a difference between us and them–but surely between “famous” people they both are using their famousness to push their agenda. One does it through lectures and books (Dawkins), the other does it through bowing, kneeling, “giving it up for god”–or whatever.

    Anyway, have a good one.

    • Crazy, I also see your point. Perhaps there was a miscommunication initially, back when this whole thread started. Perhaps Tebow meant a more universal “people who are bothered by PDPs” instead of “Sam” when he initially questioned Sam’s logic back in #2, but I think the exact quote makes that unlikely. But regardless, I see your point. And if an celebrity used his or her status to leverage something else, I’d probably wonder about their sincerity. They could be totally sincere, but the fact that they’re leveraging their celebrity to push a cause always makes me cringe.

      That said, I think that the nature of the celebrity in question has to be considered as well. Dawkins is a celebrity precisely because he is an outspoken atheist. As such, any time he tries to influence the public toward atheism, it’s expected. If he tried to leverage his celebrity to push for a ban on clubbing baby seals, I may still agree with him, but I’ll question whether or not it was seemly for him to use his celebrity that way (Dawkins is a tricky case, however, as I personally allow avowed religious figures more latitude on what it’s OK for them to speak out on, and Dawkins is a (anti) religious figure too). I’d expect Rick Warren to leverage his religious celebrity to push things that are in line with his beliefs.

      But with Tim Teblow, it’s my understanding that he’s a celebrity because of his time as a football QB in college, not because he’s a religious figure. So I think it’s unseemly for him to leverage his celebrity for religious purposes.

      In this case, once equal celebrity is established, it comes back to the bait and switch thing.

      • Look, we’re letting ourselves be cornered on this question by pure silliness. Mainly, this is happening because we’re allowing some pro-Christian tacticians to pretend, without being challenged, that there is no difference between a celebrity and an expert. That a celebrity, who is famous for athletic prowess or musical virtuosity or a gift on the stage or, as is too often the case these days, simply for being famous (see Shore, Jersey) is somehow equivalent, when leveraging that fame onto a cause, with a highly qualified expert in a field who, if he or she has any fame, it’s BECAUSE OF that expertise.

        Let me illustrate. When Dawkins talks about atheism, he is not a celebrity. He is an authority, and one of the foremost in the public realm. If you show up at one of his lectures and instead of talking about science and religion he starts off by trying to convince you that Crest is better than Colgate, THAT is celebrity behavior. That is the Tebowing bait-and-switch, the “praise Jesus” postgame interview answer instead of the “well, they were in cover-two” answer.

        If, on the other hand, the subject is football, I have no evidence suggesting that Dawkins is an expert at all, so in those circumstances we’d take Tebow as the expert opinion (although after the last couple of Sundays, even that’s a harder case to make).

        So there is ZERO validity to any attempt to conflate Dawkins on this topic and Tebow. Were it not for football Tim Tebow would have no platform beyond perhaps that of a youth minister in a church back home in Florida. This entire thread is about one party promoting false equivalence in an attempt to short-circuit the work of an expert and another party being way too accommodating in letting him/her get away with it.

        FAME is not EXPERTISE. Perhaps this is my fault for not jumping all over this clever little misdirection when it first reared its head upthread. In any case, consider it on the record now.

  57. “You’re taking liberties with the facts again, but that’s the MO we’ve come to expect. Nobody here says we’re right because we have more letters after our names than you. ” –Sammy

    “I can’t speak for everyone here, but I’ll stand behind Sam, his PhD, and his field (journalism).” –Brian

    “please pay close attention to the “grew up Christian” part and the dissertation that was largely about Christianity. Do YOU have doctoral level work directly related to the intelectual history of Christianity?” –Sammy

    No, I did not take any liberties with the facts.

    Now, that said, someone did take liberties with the facts. It was you when you said (twice now) I slandered the journal. I did not. To slander something you have to lie about it. I never lied. Anyone can make a public search and see the journal takes over 70% of material submitted. This is not ad hominem. This is a fact. Anyone can head to Duotrope and see it ranks high on the easiest markets. Again, no ad hominem, fact. Anyone can guess that any such a magazine is not the cream of the literary crop. Not fact, but certain an opinion supported by the facts. This is not to say it’s not an okay market for beginners, those who are just starting and need to know the feel of an acceptance, but it isn’t a place that people with PhDs should be publishing gobs of their work. If taking 70+% of submitted material and being the 4th easiest market to place work in is “highly respected”, what exactly do you have to accept to be a beginner’s market? 100%?

    Now, as for the editor of the magazine, she is very much a Christian and unabashed about it. I don’t know the woman personally, so her religion is out there in public. She regularly talks about it in interviews and says that her writing is spiritual in nature. The person who has insulted her is you– by mocking her beliefs repeatedly as stupid. By stating only people who get “frightened” become religious. By repeatedly calling the religious idiots, in so many words. By claiming any public display of devotion is not sincere.

    By the way, she is also much more widely and better published than you are.

    Now how can that be? How can two people who are believers in Christ be kicking the pants off you in a field in which you have an MA? Aren’t we supposed to be dopes? What’s going on here?

    Maybe we’re just not as stupid as you think and claim.

    By the way, Crazy isn’t so crazy. He’s eating Brian’s lunch on the public-private issue and talking a lot more sense than any of you guys.

    Also, did you guys catch the classless Detroit player mocking Tebow? I doubt we’ll see an essay condemning it here, whether that player is a public figure or not.

    • Even in explaining why you weren’t guilty of lying you’re lying. Yes, we mentioned credentials. We did so in response to your challenge on the subject. You ignore that. I also said that my credentials don’t automatically make me right. You ignored that. Decontextualizing and cherry-picking is all you’ve got, and your dishonesty throughout this thread is why I have arrived at the point where I don’t believe a word you’ve said, including the parts about your own education and especially the part about being a published writer.

      You’ve engaged in nothing but bad faith and rhetorical misdirection since your first comment.

      This thread is now closed to all but good faith discussions.

    • Tebow #101. I didn’t speak the quote you attribute to me. Frank did, in #37.

      As for Crazy and I, he’s not eating my lunch at all. He’s accepted the point that I was trying to make (and that you rejected or refused to address), namely that the level of celebrity (or, if you prefer, authority) matters. I accepted his assertion that, if you’re talking about people with equal authority and public stature, then the point you made way up in #2 is probably valid, but I posited a caveat about people leveraging their celebrity to push for things outside their area of expertise. Crazy hasn’t responded yet to say if he accepts my caveat or not.

      Regardless, however, you yourself just indirectly confirmed what I’ve been saying all along (and what Crazy agreed with), namely that your claim from #2 doesn’t hold water because S&R is “an obscure site” (you, #106) whereas Tebow is a public figure.

      Sam, I appreciate that Dawkins probably qualifies as an authority. But he is also a celebrity, precisely because he’s an authority on atheism. Except in odd cases (Paris Hilton comes to mind), most celebrities were authorities first. My statement doesn’t change just because Dawkins is an authority as well as a celebrity. Celebrity is simply a result of being well known and widely referred to, nothing more, the antics of Paris Hilton and her ilk notwithstanding.

  58. Crazy, i see your point. I’ll admit to not having read my Dawkins or any of the other atheist heavy weights. As i see it, listening to them argue that there is no god is pretty much equivalent to listening to a minister argue that there is one. And in the end, neither can really prove his thesis (can’t say for sure, but i doubt that Dawkins as ever published a serious, philosophical proof of god’s non-existence); furthermore, neither argument will sway people who believe…no mater how rational the argument is.

    There’s nothing in the anthropological record that suggests humans have ever had a period without the religious impulse. The gods change and the system of beliefs that inform behavior in this world change, but not the underlying belief in the other remains. Attempting to remove that impulse completely can be very dangerous to the human condition. God gets replaced with something, be it a lax knowledge of science bordering on belief or money or a cult of personality.

    That being said, Christianity is just one of the expressions of that religious impulse and it’s no better or more true than any of the others. It could be argued that it’s worse. I would, but that’s not because it’s intrinsically wrong or evil. It’s because fairly early in its history it completely sold itself to the Roman empire. All one has to do is look at the Christian texts that preceded the Council of Nicea to see a very different Christianity.

    That’s why i asked Tebow about the early crusades that were waged against other Christians, when the Catholic Church still hadn’t solidified its dominance and ability to declare orthodoxy. The Christians before those crusades against heresy were very much Christian and very different from anything we see in the modern Church or its members. The Cathars, for example and as best as we can know anything of them, didn’t see God as a great being except that he was powerful. They called him a demigod, an imperfect being that created an imperfect world. Christ and Sophia were higher, and above them rested the true god who was unknowable. So they called the Catholic Church the Church of Satan, because it worshiped the demigod and lusted after earthly power.

    There was the Church of John the Baptist (of whom Jesus was a disciple) that apparently had outposts beyond the Holy Land as Paul found its churches in his travels. This is obliquely referred to in the Bible in the stories about Simon Magus. There were the Gnostics and the Egyptian sects of Christianity. We know a Christianity molded heavily by St. Augustine’s personal, sexual issues, but if we look back at Augustine’s time we can see the great arguments. They were decided, in the end, by the State to form our present Christianity.

    And that was horribly tangential, but might serve the point that we should not mistake the religious impulse and its myriad manifestations for modern Christianity. It is not the one and only, or even necessarily the best…no matter how many times its adherents attempt to convince us it is. Dawkins and his cohort argue against Christianity (best as i can see), making the same mistake as Christians: assuming Christianity and its modern conception of God to be the only conception of God/religion.

    • As i see it, listening to them argue that there is no god is pretty much equivalent to listening to a minister argue that there is one.

      No, Lex, it isn’t the same. It’s the exact opposite. Ministers arguing for the existence of god – and sweet hell, do I have lots of first-hand experience of this one – appeal to every raw emotional trick and fallacy in the book, but never to fact or evidence. “Look around you at the majesty of His creation” is not evidence, and Dawkins deftly dismembers every one of the faux-logical and philosophical forays they employ.

      Dawkins, on the other hand, makes use of nothing but fact, evidence and logical analysis. I’ve read my Dawkins and I’ve read plenty of Lex, and it’s fair to say that Dawkins has written the stuff that you would have had you taken the challenge on.

  59. I guess a good faith discussion is anything that agrees with Sam Smith.

    Frankly, I care not a whit if you believe I’m a published writer, which is why I remain anonymous. It’s sort of like the God question. Because you don’t believe in it doesn’t make it any less true. You expect a disbeliever to disbelieve despite all evidence to the contrary.

    And there is plenty of evidence. A person with a little insight might put two and two together. He might say to himself, Gee, the guy knows all about Duotrope, relatively obscure markets, completely obscure editors, and so on, so there’s a good chance he’s published *something*, especially give we’re talking about one market that will take the work of rank beginners. (The fact is you haven’t a credit I don’t have– and I have many, many more.)

    Moreover, he might ask himself why he came to such an obscure site as this in the first place. Could he have come here as a potential market for his writing, only to be sideswiped by anti-religious bigotry in much the same manner that the Tebow hater here claims to be sideswiped by some guy on television taking a knee?

    You see, Sam, you’re not really as smart as you believe. And finding that out is the first step to true intelligence, which is wisdom. It’s something I had to learn as well, so I have a good deal of compassion. I was very much like you once, and I didn’t turn back toward some decent humility because I was scared, or had a kid, or whatever, but because I opened my mind to the counter arguments in favor of Christianity. In short, I started reading C. S. Lewis.

    I also grew up in the faith. This is not enough. This does not teach you all you need to know about the history and doctrines of Christianity. Any fool argument can defeat that childhood half-understood faith. A 14-18 year old hasn’t the intellectual heft to decide there is a God or there isn’t. He can learn somethings, but he is hardly able to learn everything, and, despite the fact everyone seems to have lots of paper on the walls, it is unlikely that anyone here but me has put a serious study into the works of Chesterton, Lewis, St. Augustine, Belloc, St. Thomas, Lee Stroebel, William Lane Craig, and other Christian apologists and authors.

    I bolster my case for this by your last statement in which you claim there are no use of “evidence and logical analysis” for the faith– or that all are and must be appeals to emotion. Nobody who is aware of the authors I named would claim this with a straight face– and in a room of very educated theists and *atheists* would be laughed out of the room. Again, this is because you are dealing with Christianity from the viewpoint of a child, from one sect (Southern Baptist, right?), and with hostility born of an evangelical group of atheists who are frankly risible. Moreover, if you think that Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and the rest do not use emotional and rhetorical tricks, not to mention outright deception, to advance their cult of disbelief, you are simply a fool.

    The fact is that the New Atheists like Dawkins get their heads handed to them every time they debate a theist. Even atheists, to their chagrin, admit this– and often gnash their teeth saying Dawkins missed this opportunity and Hitchen that rebuttal. This is why Dawkins cowardly refuses to debate William Lane Craig. He knows he would not emerge victorious because he’s certainly read books like “The Dawkins Delusion” and “The Irrational Atheist” (by Vox Day, which incidentally is where I pulled the 100 million murdered by atheist regimes number, and is a very interesting book for someone who does not believe in an all knowing-all powerful creator– I don’t agree with all of Vox’s doctrines, but he sure puts the wood to the New Atheists).

    Hell, Lex above hasn’t even read HIS side, let alone the counter-arguments, and yet still feels he is educated enough to argue the topic publicly. This happens, even to people with PhDs. You think you know something, but what do you really know? What do any of us really know?

    Well, I know this. I doubt anything I said will worm through. It took me 25 years from the onset of my atheism to my reopening my mind and giving the benefit of the doubt to the idea of God. For some people, that step is simply too difficult.

    • And again, you ignore the direct points demonstrating your dishonesty. Ironic, after screaming for two days that I had apparently failed to address one of your little misdirections.

      At this point, we have a sufficient record on which to evaluate your position. Our readers are the jury.

  60. Nonsense, Dawkins was a celebrity scientist before he was an atheist evangelist. Dawkins is the ultimate bait and switch because he claims that things that are theological are “scientific.” You go into a Dawkins book expecting science and get anti-religious philosophy and dogma masquerading as science.

    And repeatedly calling me “dishonest” is not an argument. You know, ad hominem.

    • You really don’t know what the term “ad hominem” means at all, do you? Pointing out that you say things that are not objectively true is more or less the opposite of ad hominem.

      You also demonstrate that you haven’t read much Dawkins. His books tend to be VERY much about science and the things it proves. Darwinism is still science, I’m pretty sure.

  61. His science books are most assuredly science. His atheist books are most assuredly not. Dawkins is an expert in Darwinian evolution. He is not an expert in theology. He owns no degrees in the field and is not recognized by anyone as an expert on religion, except by his acolytes like you. The very fact you hold him up as an expert in a field where he is clearly not an expert speaks to *your* intellectual dishonesty.

    Tebow is a celebrity and at expert at football (or at least a professional). Dawkins is a celebrity and an expert in Darwinian evolution. Neither is an expert in theology. And yet one passes himself off only as a layman believer given to spontaneous acts of devotion, and the other passes himself off as an expert in theology given to long screeds on a topic about which he is not learned.

    Who is more dishonest?

    • Again, either you haven’t actually read Dawkins or you’re misrepresenting him. He isn’t a theologian. He draws on the objective record of science to dismiss the claims of theologians as they transgress beyond the mythical into the realm of the science.

  62. Are you saying that “The God Delusion” contains nothing but science? Are you saying that it makes no claims about the existence of God? Do you have to read any further than the title to see he is making a theological statement– that God doesn’t exist but is a delusion?

    Like the ESPN guys say. Come on, man.

    Anyway, going by your own admission then that he is not an expert in theology. He has therefore used his unrelated celebrity to champion a religious position, atheism– making millions of dollars in the process. By your own logic then, he must be tossed in the same pen with Tim Tebow. And you have argued yourself into a corner.

  63. See, Tebow, this is where you expose yourself as a fool. Lex doesn’t have a side. Lex has never declared himself an atheist.

    And i’m pretty sure i explained my issues with the likes of Dawkins clearly in that comment. You chose to ignore all that and assume that i’m an atheist just because i’m not a Christian. But, see, i have read most of the people on your short list. In fact, i addressed Augustine in my last comment.

    You assume, wrongly, that anyone who’s ever put serious study into those thinkers/writers will come away with the same conclusions as you do. You’re suffering from the Tebow delusion.

    Now, have you read the Indian/Buddhist philosophers? Nagarjuna’s thinking makes Augustine look like a four year old arguing with his mother, and i’m not a Buddhist. You have a very narrow world view which you think is all encompassing. That’s why you can’t handle any challenge to it. It’s why you won’t engage in actual discussion about difficult subjects.

    One final note – and i really am done arguing with a person who pretends but never says anything to prove his learnedness: i’m not an atheist, nor am i a Christian, or a believer in any religions. I’m also not agnostic, because that means not knowing. I don’t care, which is not the same as uninterested. I don’t care if there’s a God as described by Christians. It has no affect on my life.

    Further, i don’t care if you or the Sweet Baby Tebus or anyone else is Christian. I don’t stop your kind in the street to try and convince them of anything. Keep your religion to yourself. I have no use for it as a matter of faith. It pisses me off that you’re so insecure in your own faith that you have to shove it down everyone’s throat. That’s the only reason i tell your kind that come to my door selling Jesus that i like your Christ very much and fucking hate Christians. You would think that there would be some maturation over the course of 2000 years, but instead we’re all burdened with your psychology of the nursery.

    Not everyone shares your petty fears of eternal hellfire or yearns for your chintzy ideal of eternal paradise. Some of us are tired of your stupid conflicts with related, Abrahamic religious traditions.

    P.S. I know you’re going to say, “But Sam wrote an essay shoving his beliefs down my throat!” Always the persecuted, you Christians. Sam wrote it in response to Tebus’s display. No one has ever knocked on my door to convince me to become an atheist. No one.

  64. Lex throws out names and thinks it means he’s educated. Because you mention Nagarjuna doesn’t mean you’ve read him, or Augustine for that matter. Your indifference is not an ideology. It’s a negation of the intellect. It’s the very essence of the fool. I prefer Sam’s honest atheism to your wishy-washy can’t pin me down because I won’t declare jibberish.

    Anyway, I’ve done my due dilligence on various other texts. The Tao, the Quran, and so on. Am I an expert on every tiny sect that that has 12 followers, no. And neither are you. This is clear in that you on the one hand you are talking about very early Christianity being diffferent from the Church after they “sold out” to the Romans and Augustine had his mother issues in roughly 300 AD, and on the other hand use as an example the Carthar heretics who date around 1200 AD, a full 800-900 years after this supposed early takeover of the religion. Not that there weren’ t other heresies earlier, but this is a clear indication that you have some knowledge but are basically winging it. You don’t really know what you’re talking about.

    Anyway, I am far from persecuted. I never claimed to be. Christians have been persecuted in the past, and continue to be in many places, but I am not. Neither is Tebow. But neither have you been persecuted because you happened to see a guy take a knee and touch his head. You guys are the ones with the persecution gripe. I’m very much willing to admit I have subjected myself to this discussion. You cannot admit you subjected yourself to seeing a QB you know is going in is going to make some kind of religious gesture.

    And the question is why not? Why is this point so hard for you to grant– when it is so obvious to anyone else? Might it be that if yoiu grant it, not only the whole Tebow piety point gets flushed, but maybe the whole thing that drives your life philosophy gets called into question– which is, we are the smart ones, the perfect ones, the people with all the answers, and those religious dopes know nothing?

    You see, a believer has his hope. The agnostic has his confusion. But all the atheist really has is his pride.

    Brian, if Frank did indeed say that, I apologize for misattributing the statement to you. As for the rest if it, I’ll deal with it later.

    • Tebow (#116) said: “Because you mention Nagarjuna doesn’t mean you’ve read him, or Augustine for that matter.”

      So you ask us to accept that you’ve read “Chesterton, Lewis, St. Augustine, Belloc, St. Thomas, Lee Stroebel, William Lane Craig, and other Christian apologists and authors” but refuse to grant that Lex has read Augustine and Nagarjuna? Sorry, but you don’t get to question Lex’s authority while claiming your own based on nothing but an assertion. You yourself said (#34) “Making as (sic) assertion like that is not a convincing argument.”

      Is it too much to expect a little consistency?

      Also, you said “Am I an expert on every tiny sect that that has 12 followers, no. And neither are you [referring to Lex].” While this is almost certainly true (that Lex isn’t an expert on every religious sect in existence), your explanation of why doesn’t make sense. Are you talking about religious sects in general (suggested by the fact you were discussing the Quran and Tao before you criticized Lex) or Christian sects in particular (suggested by the examples you give)? If the latter, you need to be more clear. If the former, then your examples are a non-sequitor.

      Tebow, you may well be a well published author, but at a minimum your arguments here need better editing for clarity.

  65. The real question is, does Tebow (the quarterback)–or any other professional athlete–blame God for losing football games the same way he thanks Him for winning?

  66. Okay, sorry for taking so long to get back to this. I’m a practicing writer, so I’m always busy signing contracts and mailing out manuscripts and such. I will say this is my last comment on this thread– and probably this site. There’s just so much time I can spend with people who are so bigotted. It’s depressing.

    I’ll take your last two points, Brian. The second one first. My knowledge of those authors is deep and wide. I could prove this to you by making a big show of different books I’ve read from each author. I could bolster my case by talking about secondary sources about the authors. (For instance, there’s an excellent Teaching Company set of lectures on Augustine by Profs. William Cook and Ronald Herzman. Very much worth your time.) But it is important to point out here that my expertise does not matter here, since I have not claimed an expert status or condemned any thinker specifically, except maybe Dawkins, and I clearly know what I’m talking about when it comes to him.

    When Lex dismisses authors, having shown no knowledge about that author, what is one to believe except that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about?

    Moreover, as I said earlier, the complaints made here about Christianity, some of which are flatly wrong (like the time scale for the Cathars), makes a guy wonder if the person knows anything more than a few facts that he doesn’t understand and is merely parrotting. In any case, these repeated banal attacks on basically Catholicism (as if that was the only denomination) clearly indicates people who think there is no answer for these complaints. Moreover, they clearly do not know the answer.

    A real laugher. You can almost predict every word that’s going to come out of an anti-Christians mouth every time a Christian shows up. Crusades. Inquisition. Catholic/Protestant schism. Gallileo affair. Black Legend. Hitler’s Pope. Pedophile priests. The piles of bodies the atheists littlered the 20th century with are always besides the point.

    All of these points are rebuffed with a little education, but the anti-Christians aren’t after answers. To make a defense in one area only invites the next attack, and then the next, and then the next. Show you know everything about Chesterton, and then they’ll demand you explain Lewis. And so on. Show that the Crusades were an understandable exercise in self-defense, and then you’ll have to point out all the evidence that exonerates the Catholic Church in the Gallieo affair.

    This is because all you mean to do is to win a point. You care nothing about expanding your knowledge, the truth, and defeating your bigotry.

    Now, I have a lot of respect for old-fashioned atheists– especially the ones before the atheists filled all those mass graves of the 20th century and showed the true result of a world that has forsaken God. It seems to me that Nietzsche, whatever else he was, stood his ground as an honest thinker. He saw exactly what atheism was and what it would mean. Without God man would be “beyond good and evil” and the man who accepted that “God was dead” would be the “ubermench” or “over-man,” sometimes called Superman, though never in the Kaufman translations. The ubermensch would be as good with killing a baby and eating it as he would be supporting universal health care, depending on his own whims. This is the truth of atheism: total nihilism. Nietzsche understood this, and thus went mad. The new Atheists like Dawkins, not so honest, try to invent reasons to keep Christian morality while also throwing away Christianity. Saying such nonsense things lie: evolution says we should. (Well, why should we care about what evolution thinks? Jeffrey Dahmer said that if man is naturalistic, then anything is persmissible, and was echoing Dostoevski.) This refusal to admit that atheism must degenerate into nihilism is fundamentally dishonest, an intellectual fraud. I sometimes think I left atheism because atheists became stupid.

    And so, yeah, I know Neitzsche, Schopenhauer, etc., as well as Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and also Anthoiny Flew, the (truly great) 20th century atheist intellectual who in his 80’s decided the case for theism was stronger than the case for atheism. Now there’s a man who has a respect for the truth. He was still open to changing his mind– unlike the much lesser lights of the New Atheists and the even lesser lights here.

    It is unlikely that anyone here could talk competently about the works of Christian apologists like Chesterton and Lewis, not to mention Christian geniuses like Augustine and Aquinas, like I just did about the atheists. And that should trouble you. How can you respect your own beliefs when you do not know all sides of the argument?

    Now, onto your former point, the one that started this all. Perhaps you think by typing a lot and inserting a lot of legalese you can muddy the waters enough that common sense will not prevail. But I will return again to the original quote.

    “In the end, public displays of piety, especially when performed in front of large audiences, aren’t about Him, they’re about You. And the more you perform, the less I believe you.”

    Okay. Now according to you this is a perfectly fine statement because Tebow is a celebrity and the people here are not. But this is absurd.

    There are two parts of this statement. 1) The display is public. 2) It is therefore less sincere.

    The distinction you make between yourselves and celebrity is a distinction without a difference. For the purposes of the metaphor, it is a distinction of degree and not of kind. A house is still a house whether it is a mansion or a townhouse. A tree is still a tree if it is a sequoia or a sapling. And an audience is still an audience if it is millions or thousands. A performer is still a performer if he is Tim or Sam.

    This biggest absurd conclusion derived from this statement is this. If you follow your logic, for every additional person who watches Tim Tebow, he become slightly less sincere in his beliefs. If one person watches him pray, he is so much sincere. If two people watch him, he is slightly less. If three people watch him, he is still less sincere.

    In this idiotic way of thinking, whether I choose to watch the Broncos game will determine how sincere Tim Tebow’s public display of piety is. If I choose to read Sam’s next essay (probably not), I will determine how sincere he is on that topic. Don’t read it, more sincere, do read it, less. This is so stupid, so contrary to common sense, I can hardly believe we are still talking about it in this thread. You can question Tebow’s general sincerity (good luck with that), but his sincertiy changes not a whit by how many people are watching him. It is a static, objective amount of sincerity.

    It is a tribute to your refusal to budge even an inch to reason that we are still here days and 120 comments later debating this overly obvious fact.

    On second thought, I do believe it. We live in a time when no one can admit he’s wrong– and everyone has an opinion no matter how uninformed. When you pointed out that I was wrong to misattribute the earlier statement to you, I didn’t argue with you, or obfuscate, or deny, or throw in a bunch of legalese. I simply manned up and said, well, sorry. You were right.

    But I don’t expect anyone here, ever, to be so mature. Like I said before, the thing that drives most people largely is pride. In the end, those who have thrown off the idea of a Creator do so for the oldest sin of them all– the one from the Garden. Eat this, and ye shall be as gods.

    • Let me summarize Tebow again: “I’m smart because I say I am.”

      Like I tell my students, show, don’t tell.

      So, is this promise to go away going to be like the last four?

  67. Interesting conversation that had the potential to be an intelligent debate but failed repeatedly. My friend Sam made some good points, but was also provocatively arrogant at times. Tebow made a couple of good points too, but waited until post 119 to do so, and was equally provocative and arrogant beginning with this first post.

    An edited version of this comment thread would actually be very interesting to read, but would unfortunately remove about 90 of the comments (mine included no doubt).

    And Frank, whoever you are, you need help. As in therapy, anger management, or simply the love of a good woman. You are wound way too tight bro.

    Peace