David Marshall, The A-Unicornist, and a review of reviews

Mike over at The A-Unicornist has spent quite a few weeks working through the Christian apologist book True Reason, chapter by chapter. (Links to all his reviews can be found here.) The book is more or less a response to the relatively recent uptick in atheist writings and whatnot; it contends that Christianity and reason go hand-in-hand while atheism lacks in justification. Most of the chapters are written by different people, the most well known of whom is William Lane Craig. (Craig, popular on YouTube and the debating circuit, is the sort of guy who fancies himself knowledgeable about physics. This is despite the fact that he does not understand anything about the First Cause argument.) Unfortunately, Mike has yet to get a response from Craig. However, he has had several authors respond in his comment sections. A few even made their own blog posts. One of those bloggers is David Marshall.

I have not read True Reason, so I can’t respond to anything specific from Marshall’s chapter unless it has been quoted. However, I can respond to a few of the bad arguments he makes in his response post. Let’s start with this gem:

[Alister] McGrath is Dawkins’ colleague, and his expertise lies in historical Christian theology, so he ought to (and does) know what it teaches.

Richard Dawkins has studied biology and evolution for over 50 years. He has a PhD from Oxford. He has taught at Berkley and Oxford. He wrote one of the most influential books on evolutionary theory in the 20th century. Alister McGrath is not his colleague.

This sort of thing represents the general quality of Marshall’s opening. For instance, he goes on to link to books he has written, bash more atheists, and call Dawkins ignorant while saying John Loftus is basically a liar. But the part that takes the cake is where he attempts to poison the well by, as he admits, biasing us against Mike:

Whether you call [the name of Mike’s website, The A-Unicornist) whimsy or logic, let me begin by asking the obvious question. Is it intellectually humble, or wise, to define oneself as denying the existence of unicorns? If you are a Christian, how can you know God didn’t create any unicorns, and put them in one of the worlds C. S. Lewis locates at the bottom of pools in the Wood Between the Worlds in his children’s book The Magician’s Nephew? (A Christian multiverse already, in 1955!) And if you are an atheist, the Anthropic Principle probably requires you to posit an infinite number of worlds, or so enormously large a number of worlds that the word “astronomical” is rendered quaint. Then on what grounds, having visiting almost none of those worlds (I am not talking to New Agers), that there are no unicorns on a single one of them?

This is an issue that has been covered so many times by so many people, including Mike during his process of reviewing this book. Atheism (and a-unicornism, for that matter) does not mean denying the existence of deities. It refers to a lack of belief in them. That is, atheists are not making the positive claim that there are no gods. We don’t know that. What we’re saying is that no compelling evidence has been presented to convince us of the Christian’s positive claim that there is a god, so we reject his proposition. (The same goes for positive claims made by Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and virtually all other religions.) Hell, Richard Dawkins even has a 7 point scale of belief in The God Delusion where he contends that he is an agnostic because, though no good evidence exists to make a reasonable case for any god, he does not have definitive proof that we live in a godless Universe. Just the same, there is no proof that we live in a unicornless Universe, but there is absolutely no reason to assume that they exist.

At this point Marshall is starting to get into Mike’s actual arguments, but continues with the bad form:

The question is how fairly or incisively Mike has thought through what he claims are the book’s better arguments, or if he knows enough for his opinion to be worth anything.

So Jesus-like.

Let his attempt to “think through” my argument be a test of that. If he fails to accurately grasp the argument I make in this chapter, let’s assume that he flubbed the other chapters, as well, until he proves otherwise.

This is interesting because the post to which Marshall is responding is about chapter 10. One would imagine he might look to the 9 previous reviews (one of which was about a chapter which Marshall also wrote). Or even more significant, since his post went up on October 21 and Mike finished chapter 16 on October 16, one would not be unreasonable in imagining he could have read those other chapters rather than assume they were flubbed. But, no, by all means. Let’s go down that totally logical road and assume that if someone gets one argument wrong, he must have them all wrong. SPOILER ALERT: This ‘logic’ does not work out in Marshall’s favor.

David Marshall, whose previous chapter left me unimpressed . . .

Since I know quite a bit about the subjects of that previous chapter, world religions and the history of Christianity, and Mike evidently does not (read my response in the comments section), let’s just say, that his “thumbs down” critique does not quite break my heart.

(The italicized portion is a quote from Mike whereas the rest is Marshall’s response.)

Oh, well. If you’re an authority in your field, then I guess we’re done here. Unless…wait a minute. That’s right. It turns out logical fallacies are not valid responses. So…I guess we can just assume that Marshall has flubbed the rest of arguments, right?

If Gnus were really open to learning something gnu, shouldn’t the fact that Christians keep denying the definition of faith New Atheism projects on us Christians, tell them something right there?

First, this is an argument from popularity. That makes three logical fallacies (though credence has been lent to Marshall’s argument that we might rightly assume a person who flubs one argument has flubbed them all). Second, atheists have been arguing for who-knows-how-long that atheism is not a positive claim, yet that hasn’t stopped Marshall from ignoring us. Third, the definition Gnu Atheists have had for the sort of faith displayed by those who believe in God (‘belief without evidence’) is correct. If it wasn’t, then we would expect to have all sorts of Christians who came to their beliefs independently of the Bible. That is, the Bible is not a source of evidence anymore than the Lord of the Rings is a source of evidence that Mt. Doom exists. So since that is true and since Christianity requires the Bible, we do not have independent Christians as we would expect if faith was not belief without evidence. On the other hand, scientists come to the same conclusions independently all the time.

Indeed it doesn’t! Here’s Blatant Flub II: Mike quaffs his first quote! (And what he calls an “old canard,” at that!)

He glosses me as saying “faith is just another way of knowing.” But then what he quotes me as actually saying, is rather that faith (as Christians understand it) is the ONLY way of knowing anything!

Here is what Marshall said, emphasis mine: In fact, faith is simply one of two faculties (along with its close cousin, reason) by which we know all that we know.

At least that one wasn’t a logical fallacy.

Also, the sub-text, Mike is admitting that he has often heard Christians say faith is reasonable. This he calls an “old canard,” because he has heard it so often. Why, then (third and most important error so far) doesn’t he allow Christians to explain what we believe for ourselves?

He read your book, didn’t he?

If Christian after Christian says, “Faith is, by our understanding of the word, a function of reason,” shouldn’t our understanding of the word be normative for how we use it? The question is, after all, what Christians think about faith, not what gnus or unicorns or hippogriffs think.

The problem is that Marshall says religious faith is like the ‘faith’ we have in our senses. That premise is what allows Mike to pick apart the argument: There already exists a description of what our belief in the reliability (or lack thereof) of our senses is. It’s called assumption. The things we assume are distinctly different from what Marshall says we must do in order to believe in God; Marshall describes two things as faith, but he is plainly wrong about one of those things. Take this from his post, for example:

When I cross a bridge, I assume it will not fall down. If it does fall down, my assumption will have proven to be in error. But the act of crossing the bridge is an act of faith, in the sense I am using the word, as is the act of praying to God.

See the problem? It lies in the phrase “in the sense I am using the word”. That would be fine if his argument was narrowly construed, but it isn’t. He is attempting to apply his sense of the word to situations in which a different definition already exists. Again, this is what allows Mike and everyone else to tear his argument apart.

How can Christians be “abusing” language for using the word “faith” consistently as we have used that word for thousands of years, and its ancestors, before the modern English language even evolved into being?

This isn’t a logical fallacy, but it is a bit of hipster theology, and that’s just as bad, if not worse.

Again, Mike is completely missing the point of this chapter. It is not to prove that the Bible is accurate — I wrote two books arguing that the gospels are essentially historical, but their arguments are completely irrelevent to what I am saying here.

What elicited this response was a claim by Mike that one will not be convinced of a particular portion of Marshall’s arguments unless one assumes the Bible to be true. Marshall understood that to mean Mike was saying a full defense of the Bible needed to be given in the chapter. Again, perhaps that first logical fallacy wasn’t so far off the mark, what with how many times Marshall has flubbed his responses.

I’ve actually skipped quite a bit of what Marshall had to say because it was largely just a series of insults directed at Mike. He calls him thick, ignorant, numbskull, and says he is acting dumb. Taken with his earlier poisoning of the well, it isn’t a big leap to conclude that this guy isn’t entirely secure with his arguments. He commits a number of logical fallacies (maybe 5, counting the ad homs? I think I forgot to include the poisoned well, but who knows at this point) and all he has to rely on is pulling rank and insisting that everyone needs to buy into his definition of faith. Then, just to compound it all, he says this in his comment section:

Mike: “His whole post was like that. Bragging about how he’s an expert and I’m not, saying that I’m “arrogant” and a “numbskull”, that Sean Carroll “worships science”, that I have a “thick skull”…. the dude’s certifiable. And a pretty major (novel obscenity — DM). If his arguments had a leg to stand on, he wouldn’t be steeped in that kind of vitriol.”

This seems a bit peculiar, because just a few posts earlier, Mike had been calling William Lane Craig a “hypocrit,” “dishonest,” and an “f-ing theologian.” And in this post he uses stronger language than “numbskull” about me. So is this a concession that his own arguments have no leg to stand on?

This is a common mistake people make about ad homs. It is not a logical fallacy to insult the hell out of one’s opponent when the point of the insult isn’t meant to undermine the arguments being made. It is only when an ad hom is used in place of actual rebuttal that it becomes a logical fallacy. I think it is clear that, while Marshall does respond to Mike’s arguments with actual arguments of his own, he is also attempting to undermine Mike’s credibility throughout the entire post. As for the language Mike used about Marshall, he called the guy a major dickhole well outside the purview of any attempt to present further argumentation; he was just stating his opinion of the guy, not trying to undermine anything.

At any rate, this post has gone on for far too long, so let me sum things up: There are a lot of good reasons to reject the arguments David Marshall presents. Also, he is a bit of a dickhole.

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37 Responses

  1. Thanks dude, this was quite thorough. As I said in a couple recent posts, I’m moving on to other projects and have no interest in further debates over the book. I’m glad others are willing to take up the torch.

    I do want to make one observation though. Even if Marshall is totally right about what an insulting prick I am, let’s not forget that the whole point of this book was to portray gnu atheists as loud, vitriolic and irrational while portraying Christians as calm, polite, and reasoned. Carson Weitnauer has a short epilogue to the book, and spends much of it describing how ill-tempered atheists are and contrasting it with how “graceful”, “reasoned” and “respectful” Christians are. So Marshall could have used this as an opportunity to show how much more graceful and respectful he is than I, rather than using my criticisms of others out of context to justify his own slander. But hey, maybe he just enjoys being a dickhole.

  2. Michael: You advertise bad arguments, and you certainly provide them:

    (1) McGrath is an expert in CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY, the relevant discipline. Dawkins in an expert in nothing at all related to this subject, or half the subjects he yammers on about.

    (2) Mike aside, I never call Mike an “insulting prick.” I do say he is being thick,. which he is. I also accurately report that he uses some nasty insults, even while complaining about my very mild and purely rhetorical insults.

    (3) I DO NOT call Loftus a “liar,” basically other otherwise. You are being dishonest about that. John is a friend, and we get along fine.

    (4) Appealing to an authority is not a “logical fallacy.” It is standard procedure in almost every form of scholarship.

    (5) Nor do I only appeal to myself. I appeal to dozens of leading Christian scholars. Since how Christians understanding faith is the issue, that is a valid argument.

    (6) As is my main argument in that chapter, that the Bible supports my definition of faith.

    (7) What is your point with the “another way of knowing” quote? You don’t show that I’m wrong in any way.

    (8) I already explained how the words “faith” and “assumption” differ. You don’t interact with my explanation.

    (9) I don’t know what you mean by “hipster theology.” I’ve never claimed to be “hip,” God save me.

    (10) I do call Mike “thick,” etc, but I also say I think he’s smarter than his incredibly dumb argument. (Which you don’t even bother to deal with.) This hardly counts as insulting compared to the really nasty things Mike says about William Lane Craig. (Let’s not count his favorite insult for me, since I went first.)

    This is not a question of ad hominems, it is a matter of tone. Mike disavows rudeness on his blog: it is, therefore, hypocritical for him to offer those juvenile taunts.

    I am not taunting Mike, or you. I am asking you to grow up, and think about these issues in a serious and honest way. I say that precisely because I think you both ought to be above that kind of thing.

    Either of you is welcome to attempt to show where I am wrong in True Reason, or elsewhere, in relevant posts on my blog, on Amazon, or wherever you like. I’m not offended by your little servings of vitriol: but please don’t make my much milder pokes excuses to back away from dealing with reality, here.

  3. Either of you is welcome to attempt to show where I am wrong in True Reason, or elsewhere, in relevant posts on my blog, on Amazon, or wherever you like

    We would post on your blog, but nobody reads it, Dave.

    smooches.

  4. Ooo. Argue-by-numbers. I’m game.

    1) So? You said McGrath and Dawkins were colleagues. Not only is that not true given the actual work Dawkins has accomplished, but you even now argue that the sort of thing McGrath does is unrelated to what Dawkins does. It’s clear that the two are not colleagues – your own argument admits as much. (But for the record, I will acknowledge that you were merely trying to move the goal posts, not confirm my point.)

    2) Sean Carroll described your sort of argumentation as being an abuse of language. It comes as no surprise, then, that you would take a description of what you said said and pretend like the person was directly quoting you. Moreover, I’m less than flabbergasted that you would direct your response to me even though the point was made by someone else.

    3) You said Loftus knows better than to make the arguments he does but he pretends he does not. That sounds to me like you called him a liar without actually using the term. And while we’re at it, you also implied that Mike was not dealing with matters in an honest manner. That also sounds like a veiled way of calling someone a liar.

    4) First, there are different ways in which one can use an appeal to an authority. One of those ways is a logical fallacy, so your statement is, at best, off the mark, at worst wrong. Second, there are a number of times when you attempt to rely on arguing that either you or someone else knows the material in question so well that we shouldn’t question you/him. For instance, you complain that people questioned the Pope’s arguments about faith. Implicit in this complaint is the notion that the Pope is such an authority on the subject, he shouldn’t have been questioned.

    5) First, no one said you only appealed to yourself. I will assume, however, that you are at least willing to admit that you relied on an appeal to your own supposed authority. (What is your background, anyway?) Second, your argument equated the Christian idea of faith with belief in the reliability of our senses and a few other like things. Everyone has been responding to that portion of what you argued. As I said in Mike’s comment section, it’s like you’ve argued that you view a potato as a fruit, and no one said boo about it – that is, until you then said it is a fruit in the same way apples, pears, and bananas are fruit.

    6) You equated your definition with an outside concept. Your definition is in conflict with that outside concept. Again, you don’t get to call your potato a fruit if you want to compare it to apples, pears, and bananas.

    7) You complained that Mike muddled a quote of you. You claim that he was wrong to say you believe faith is just another way of knowing because, you contend, you said it is the only way of knowing. I provided a quote in which you say it is “one of two” ways of knowing. In summary, Mike was correct and you are mistaken about what you said earlier. (I presume you’re a big Mitt Romney fan, but I digress.)

    8) First, no, you did not explain the difference. All you did was say that your bridge assumption could be wrong before you asserted that the result of your assumption (crossing the bridge) was an act of faith. That doesn’t explain anything. Second, it appears the definition of faith you are using is simply, “to believe without 100% certainty”. Well, good for you.

    9) I was pointing out that you sounded like a hipster by saying that Christians were using a particular idea of faith before anyone else.

    10) First, you’re right that I don’t deal with a lot of Mike’s argument. I think he covered things pretty well. Besides that, he read the book, not me. I can only respond to the direct quotes and blog posts. Second, haven’t we been over this part about insults? I tire of it.

    I am asking you to grow up, and think about these issues in a serious and honest way.

    But you definitely aren’t implying that I haven’t been honest, right?

    I’m not offended by your little servings of vitriol: but please don’t make my much milder pokes excuses to back away from dealing with reality, here.

    To this point I have made sure to refer to the content of what you’ve written, including your insults, because I don’t know you and I don’t have an opinion of you personally. That is, any old person could put up posts like you have and I would respond the same, even if that person ultimately had a wildly different personality from yours. However, I do feel compelled to point out that you strike me as a wonderfully bitter person. Even in your attempts to act like you’re the one taking the high road you can’t resist talking down to others, throwing in adjectives like “little”.

  5. David, being told by an egomaniacal intellectual cretin such as yourself to “grow up” and “think … in a serious and honest way” is like being told by Liberace to quit acting gay.

  6. Ed: My mother doesn’t, I know that. :- )

  7. Michael: 1) “So? You said McGrath and Dawkins were colleagues. Not only is that not true given the actual work Dawkins has accomplished, but you even now argue that the sort of thing McGrath does is unrelated to what Dawkins does. It’s clear that the two are not colleagues – your own argument admits as much. (But for the record, I will acknowledge that you were merely trying to move the goal posts, not confirm my point.)”

    Here’s how the Free Online Dictionary defines colleague:

    “A fellow member of a profession, staff, or academic faculty; an associate.”

    By that definition, Dawkins and McGrath were colleagues.

    (2) I’m not following your point, here.

    3) “You said Loftus knows better than to make the arguments he does but he pretends he does not. That sounds to me like you called him a liar without actually using the term.”

    Maybe to you. To most people “you know better than to say that” is a lot milder and less insulting that “you’re a liar.”

    4) “For instance, you complain that people questioned the Pope’s arguments about faith. Implicit in this complaint is the notion that the Pope is such an authority on the subject, he shouldn’t have been questioned.”

    Stop finding “implicit” arguments, and address the real ones. You’re being way too subjective and nit-picky. Here you’re just being ridiculous: of course the Pope knows better what Christians believe about faith than you or Richard Dawkins. But I’m not a Catholic, I’m happy to question the Pope when he gets things wrong, all day long. It would be the heighth of arrogance for me to glibly question his considered claims about “what Catholics believe,’ though.

    5) “First, no one said you only appealed to yourself. I will assume, however, that you are at least willing to admit that you relied on an appeal to your own supposed authority. (What is your background, anyway?) Second, your argument equated the Christian idea of faith with belief in the reliability of our senses and a few other like things. Everyone has been responding to that portion of what you argued. As I said in Mike’s comment section, it’s like you’ve argued that you view a potato as a fruit, and no one said boo about it – that is, until you then said it is a fruit in the same way apples, pears, and bananas are fruit.”

    My relevant authority on this subject is less my doctorate in theology, than the fact that I have made a case for my definition of faith that has been tested in many forums, read and affirmed by many leading Christian thinkers, and is itself based on what Christians have been saying for thousands of years, as I show.

    6) “You equated your definition with an outside concept. Your definition is in conflict with that outside concept. Again, you don’t get to call your potato a fruit if you want to compare it to apples, pears, and bananas.”

    This is just begging the question.

    7) “(I presume you’re a big Mitt Romney fan, but I digress.)”

    I sure do wish he had been elected in place of the imcompetent demagogue we have now, but yes you do digress. I assume your own presumed support for Obama derives from your general affection for turkeys. :- )

    “However, I do feel compelled to point out that you strike me as a wonderfully bitter person. Even in your attempts to act like you’re the one taking the high road you can’t resist talking down to others, throwing in adjectives like “little”.”

    That’s pretty thin-skinned, and a bad guess about me. I meant what I was responding to was slightly vitriolic. No, I’m not bitter towards atheists: I’ve taken much more abusive language than that, without being phased. But sure, I’ll often fire back, when fired upon.

  8. Mike Doolittle: “David, being told by an egomaniacal intellectual cretin such as yourself to “grow up” and “think … in a serious and honest way” is like being told by Liberace to quit acting gay.”

    The Liberace line isn’t bad, but “egomaniacal cretin” would work better without a superfluous “intellectual” between the adjective and the noun. Less is more. Word to the wise.

  9. I’m largely out of fucks to give other than to point out that you clearly are trying to define faith in a way that is entirely unrelated to the way it has been understood and used for centuries. Moreover, you’re trying to use your made up definition in a way that conflicts with other concepts.

  10. Michael: You don’t know what you’re talking about. As I said, I showed in True Reason that the New Testament defines Christian faith in this way. In “Faith and Reason,” I show that it has been the norm for Christian thinkers for 2000 years. Don’t pretend to know, when you don’t. It’s bad for the soul.

  11. Most of your arguments seem to be composed of little more than passive-aggressive snark.

    All you’ve shown is that you have used the word “faith” in a particular sense which is unrelated to how anyone has ever meant it, or even means it nowadays. That is, you want to conflate the assumptions we have in our day-to-day lives – assumptions which are provisional and/or built upon memory and our daily experiences – with the belief that there is a God. Those are two different things. The first is built upon something whereas the other is not; your entire basis (which, again, is unrelated to the Christian arguments for the past 2000 years*) is that we don’t have 100% certainty in the validity of our daily assumptions, something which parallels the fact that no one can have 100% certainty in the existence of God. Good on you for finding a common feature of two things, but bad on you for building an entire argument off that. It’s weak and out of line with mainstream Christianity.

    *Hell, a core feature of most religions – and especially yours – is that faith is a virtue because it requires such will power to maintain a belief without any evidence – something we do not do when it comes to our day-to-day assumptions.

  12. Michael: I’ve published my arguments, which are replete with textual and historical evidence, and affirmed by leading scholars who have spent their lives studying these matters at the highest levels. You haven’t read those arguments, you don’t know those scholars, all you can do is repeat like a parrot the “Blind Faith Meme” that you hear from your fellow atheists.

    The “will to maintain belief without any evidence,” indeed.

    I’ve yet to meet a Gnu who could honestly grapple with the historical evidence; you don’t even pretend to try.

    Your parrot-like repetition of Gnu talking points, without the slightest attempt to actually think, learn, or even argue rationally, is not just disappointing, it’s become a bore.

    I’ll be off.

  13. I have an extensive background in Christianity, including attending a Catholic school for 9 years. I’m not new to any of this. However, you appear to be new to basic English: You are redefining a word, conflating it with an entirely different concept solely because they have a feature in common. You haven’t even bothered to address this argument other than to make appeals to authority, whether yours, the Pope’s, or some unspecified theologians’.

  14. “Richard Dawkins has studied biology and evolution for over 50 years. He has a PhD from Oxford. He has taught at Berkley and Oxford. He wrote one of the most influential books on evolutionary theory in the 20th century. Alister McGrath is not his colleague.”

    Not sure what this is supposed to prove. Alistair McGrath has studied science and theology for over 50 years. He has two doctorates from Oxford one in molecular biophysics and one in Theology. He has taught at Cambridge and oxford and written some of the most widely used texts on theology. I suggest that in fact when it comes to the topic under discussion the relationship between science and theology its actually McGrath who has the more impressive publication record.

    You seem to think that citing Dawkin’s credentials and ignoring Mcgraths makes some kind of point, it doesn’t.

  15. Matthew: Quite true, and you’re putting it mildly. As far as I know, Dawkins has neither conducted any at all relevant research, nor published any scholarship in any relevant field whatsoever. He is to Christian theology and what Christians think about “faith,” exactly what I am to steam engine maintenance. McGrath, on the other hand, is one of the world’s leading experts. This is very much a Bambi vs. Godzilla sort of confrontation.

  16. When I had looked up his credentials, I didn’t see that he had a degree in molecular biophysics. This would make him Dawkins’ colleague.

    But as to your ‘point’ that I had no point, your complaint is with Marshall, not me. Though I was mistaken in my response, he had attempted to place the two men on equal footing, much as he has attempted to place faith and reason on equal footing. (Fortunately, he has only succeeded in one of his attempts since, with the latter, he merely conflated faith and assumptions.)

  17. On the contrary, I wouldn’t THINK of placing Dawkins and McGrath “on the same footing” in regard to knowledge about any field relevant to this discussion, as I just explained. McGrath is an expert: Dawkins, an almost complete ignoramus.

    This is the clear point of the very first sentence you quote from me.

  18. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t colleagues, as you now concede.

  19. You can revise the history of what you wrote and meant, just as you have revised the history of what Christians have always meant by faith, but it’s plain as day that you were speaking of the high professional level each man has achieved in comparison to each other.

    As for me conceding anything, you misunderstand, unsurprisingly. I have said that they are colleagues whereas I now know that McGrath has real credentials in a real field that is related to Dawkins’ real credentials in his real field. This is as opposed to my previous belief that McGrath only had degrees that related to the non-field of theology. (For some perspective: If you were to declare that someone with degrees only pertaining to theology was a colleague of any biologist with a Ph.D, I would maintain my disagreement with you.)

  20. Here again is the quote you found so offensive:

    “McGrath is Dawkins’ colleague, and his expertise lies in historical Christian theology, so he ought to (and does) know what it teaches.”

    Clearly, I am already “conceding” that McGrath’s primary expertise is in a field other than that of Dawkins, and am using “colleague” in the common sense of “fellow professors within the same university faculty.” So on your account, denying what I explicitly fail to affirm, even if it had been accurate (which it was not), would have been senseless.

    The sentence you complained about turns out to be in every way correct, especially in the sense I obviously meant it, and even in the artificial and irrelevant sense you introduced so as to manufacture difficulties. Why don’t you just admit you made a fool of yourself, and move on? You’re not making yourself look better by continuing to dig.

    As for faith, I haven’t “revised” what Christians have meant, I’ve researched — as did McGrath. If that gives me an unfair advantage over the likes of Dawkins and U-Unicornist, and it does, well, it’s Nature, red in tooth and claw out there, baby.

  21. You said they were colleagues as a preface to your clause that McGrath is an expert in theology. In other words, you said McGrath rises to the same professional level as Dawkins, though in an adjacent field. If McGrath’s only qualifications were in theology, as I originally thought, then they are not colleagues in the sense you clearly intended. I haven’t relinquished that point, nor have I given you any information that could possibly help your case. The only thing that happened here was that I skimmed the academic biography of McGrath too quickly. Furthermore, you are one of the last people who should be debating me when it comes to writing.

    At any rate, you go ahead and continue thinking that assumptions and faith are the same thing. Perhaps one day you might ask yourself why you don’t spend any time convincing and reinforcing your belief that bridges you cross won’t collapse, or why you must use phrases like “in the sense I am using the word [faith]“.

  22. If David Marshall is stupid enough to argue that discrediting one set of Mike’s arguments would justify the assumption that all of Mike’s arguments are discredited, then that opens Marshall up to the counter-argument that discrediting one of Marshall’s books would justify the assumption that all of his books are worthless.

    And unfortunately for Marshall, discrediting his book on the new atheism is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel with no water in it. In fact, Marshall’s book on the new atheism appears to be little more than a tissue of lies. Here are some 30 or so blatant falsehoods and other obviously deceptive arguments in Marshall’s book. (Numbers in parentheses refer to pages in Marshall’s “The Truth Behind the New Atheism.”)

    NOTE: Marshall has known about most of these allegations for years, and yet as far as I know he has not addressed even a single one of them anywhere in any genuinely substantive manner. His silence speaks volumes IMO.

    1. Marshall falsely accuses Dawkins of being inconsistent in claiming that the search for irreducible complexity (IC) is both scientific and unscientific. (63)

    Marshall concocted this false accusation by taking Dawkins’ statements out of context. Dawkins’ actual argument is that IC is: (i) scientifically relevant in trying to *falsify evolution;* but (ii) scientifically irrelevant in trying to *prove ID.* Since Dawkins’ two statements relate to two different functions (disproof vs. proof) and two different theories (evo vs. ID), it’s obvious that they are no more inconsistent than a report that the Yankees won the first game of a double-header and lost the second game. Those latter two reports are not logically inconsistent, because they refer to two different contexts. Dawkins’ two statements are not logically inconsistent either, for exactly the same reason.

    Interestingly, when Marshall was challenged on this point in another forum, he defended himself by concocting yet another falsehood, claiming that Dawkins had basically said that it’s OK for evos to point to biological structures that disconfirm evolution, but not for creationists to do the same thing. Marshall never provided a citation for this remarkable claim, possibly because he knows it’s an outright falsehood, just as his original accusation was.

    Such incidents make Marshall look like an unrepentant, serial liar.

    2. Responding to Dawkins’ comments about Christians relying on blind faith, Marshall implies that Dawkins doesn’t cite any actual Christians (16), but in reality Dawkins cites several prominent Christians, including Swinburne, McGrath, Martin Luther, and Unwinn, among others. (“The God Delusion,” pp. 54, 105, 107, and 190) Marshall’s accusation is an outright falsehood.

    3 – 4. Marshall excoriates Dawkins for defining “faith” as meaning “in the teeth of evidence and reason.” “I’ve done the research,” Marshall proclaims, and “For 2000 years Christians have defined faith as inseparable from reason and evidence.” (21-22)

    Despite Marshall’s pompous claims about his “research,” he cites both the wrong author and the wrong book at one point. Hilarious.

    Much worse, he blatantly misrepresents Dawkins’ statement in two ways.

    First, Marshall treats Dawkins’ statement as if it were an actual definition, but in reality the statement comes from a list of hypothetical examples. It’s not a definition at all.

    Second, Marshall treats Dawkins’ statement as if it referred specifically to Christianity, but in reality the quote refers only to religious memes in general, which makes Marshall’s shrill attack seem not only dishonest but pointless.

    Anyone can screw up a footnote – though doing so while boasting about his own scholarship makes Marshall look especially silly – but Dawkins’ statement is a central focus of one of Marshall’s most vehement attacks on Dawkins, and he just blatantly misrepresents it.

    5. Marshall excoriates Dawkins again, because “Dawkins … said nothing at all in response to McGrath’s argument about faith.” (23)

    But in reality, Dawkins has a very pointed response to McGrath’s argument (TGD, 54-55). Marshall’s claim is an outright falsehood.

    6. Marshall claims that even the highly respected skeptic Michael Shermer “recognized” that some of the most common justifications that Christians give for believing in God are “essentially rational.” (24)

    In reality, Shermer actually spent almost an entire section of his book explaining why he does *not* recognize those justifications as rational. Marshall twisted Shermer’s opinion into pretty much the exact opposite of what he actually said. Such dishonesty is simply contemptible.

    7. Implying that scientific evidence is no more reliable than the evidence for religious faith, since both are contained in secondhand reports, Marshall claims that “In fact, scientific evidence *is* based in faith – exactly the same sort of faith as informed Christians have in God.” (29) (Emphasis in original.)

    Granted, both religion and science use hearsay reports, but the key aspects of scientific reports generally refer to observable events that can reliably be and frequently are independently replicated, while the key aspects of religious reports generally do not; so only a fool or a liar would argue that the two types of hearsay are “exactly the same” as Marshall claims.

    8. Marshall quotes Harris’ statement that “Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.” (42)

    Marshall makes Harris’ statement seem especially objectionable by taking it out of context, but Harris was apparently referring to believers, like militant Islamists, who advocate violence during times of war. In that context, Harris’ argument might justify targeting believers like Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki, which would undoubtedly be quite acceptable to many Christians, so Marshall’s out-of-context quoting seems like a deliberate attempt to deceive.

    Marshall’s attack on Harris is also dishonest, because it fails to disclose that the New Testament says something very similar to, or perhaps even worse than, what Harris said. (Luke 19:27) Harris’ statement appears to apply primarily during wars or similar situations, while Jesus appears to be advocating the wanton slaughter of people who aren’t physically threatening anyone at all. When comparing atheism and Christianity, an honest person would treat both sides fairly. Marshall’s failure to disclose Luke 19:27 here seems pretty contemptible.

    9. Marshall claims that “Karl Marx convinced a third of the world … that money was the real problem.” (55)

    When challenged, Marshall angrily refused to provide a citation to document that claim, perhaps because he knows it’s an outright falsehood.

    10. Marshall implies that scientific evidence confirms that life appeared in roughly the pattern reported in Genesis (61). But Genesis 2 says that humans were the first animal life form on Earth. Only a fool or a liar would claim that scientific evidence confirms that.

    11. Marshall cites a Hubert Yockey e-mail about an origin-of-life issue and then says, “Therefore (Yockey doesn’t suffer fools gladly), Dawkins and his ilk were the real religious fanatics.” (65)

    But Yockey’s e-mail never even mentions Dawkins. Marshall’s implication that Yockey is specifically criticizing Dawkins is highly misleading, if not downright false.

    12. Dawkins says that one in a billion is a really pessimistic estimate of the probability of life arising spontaneously on any given planet. Marshall says, “[Dawkins] calls this `the most pessimistic estimate’ …,” (66) and implies that Dawkins is being dishonest, because other scientists have calculated much longer odds.

    Marshall’s argument implies that Dawkins explicitly said that his estimate was the most pessimistic estimate ever given, but in reality Dawkins did *not* say that, rather he said that *in his opinion* one in a billion was a really pessimistic estimate, which is radically different from what Marshall implied. Before Marshall accuses others of deception, perhaps he ought to do something about his own deceptions.

    13 – 14. Marshall complains that Dawkins’ responses to the creationist challenges, “What is the use of half an eye?” and “What is the use of half a wing?,” don’t answer the real question about missing half of the parts. (74)

    Marshall’s twin accusations are both false. In reality Dawkins does answer the “half of the parts” question for both eyes and wings. Part of Dawkins’ response directs readers to his book “Climbing Mount Improbable,” where his discussion of eyes and wings covers over 100 pages and includes stages in both cases having far, far less than “half of the parts.” The real problem here isn’t that Dawkins’ explanation is missing half of the parts, but rather that Marshall dishonestly leaves out half of Dawkins’ explanation.

    15 – 16. On at least two occasions (76 and 189) Marshall falsely implies that Christians invented science.

    Marshall’s dishonesty has two aspects here.

    First, both of his statements are presented as statements of settled fact, when in reality, his claim is anything but a settled fact. Scientific knowledge and methods were used in agriculture, medicine, metallurgy, and architecture for many centuries, if not millennia, before Christ was even born; astronomy was closely studied for at least several centuries before Christ was born; and Islamic scientists made significant advances in both chemistry and optics hundreds of years before the earliest Christians cited as scientists by Marshall were born. Presenting something as a settled fact when it is not a settled fact is dishonest.

    Second, while many historians do argue that Christians can claim priority in the invention of science, those priority claims necessarily exclude earlier students of nature from being considered “scientists.” And the reason that’s a problem here is that Marshall himself strenuously argued that exclusions like that are illegitimate in the case of ID-proponents at the Discovery Institute; so if exclusions are illegitimate in one case, then how can Marshall treat them as legitimate in other cases? It seems highly likely that Marshall is simply talking out of both sides of his mouth here.

    Marshall’s inconsistency here seems especially obvious, since some of the “scientists” at the Discovery Institute have argued that both geocentrism and astrology count as “science.” Both of those theories pre-date Christ by centuries, so how can Marshall honestly argue that a science which includes both theories didn’t arise until after Christ?

    17. Marshall claims that “Species do not … change as gradually as Darwin anticipated – something dramatically new appears, then remains much the same for long periods.” (77)

    That’s another flat out falsehood. In reality, Marshall’s description of the tempo of change is virtually identical to Darwin’s own description in “Origin” that, “… each form remains for long periods unaltered, and then again undergoes modification.” (6th ed., pp. 119-120)

    If Marshall wants to criticize Darwin, THEN HE OUGHT TO READ HIS DARN BOOK FIRST! Sheesh!

    18 – 19. Marshall accuses Dawkins of misrepresenting both the story of the Levite who cut his concubine up into twelve pieces (Judges 19-21) and the story of Jephthah, who sacrificed his own daughter to God (Judges 11). Marshall argues that neither story should be used as an indictment of religion, because the last verse in Judges says that “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (pp. 97-98)

    In both cases it is actually Marshall who is misrepresenting the Bible.

    Many of the actors in the first story were clearly devoted to God, and many of them went on to commit further acts of violence, after first expressing their devotion to God.

    And in the second story, Jephthah made an explicit deal with God, promising a human sacrifice to Him in return for a military victory; and God demonstrated His acceptance of the deal by granting the military victory Jephthah had prayed for. For Marshall to pretend that God played no part in that transaction and in the resulting human sacrifice seems highly dishonest.

    20. Responding to Harris’ gibe about God making Shakespeare “a far better writer than Himself,” Marshall claims that “Even Nietzsche thought Luther’s Bible the best thing in German.” (111)

    Marshall provides no supporting citation for that claim, probably because it’s an outright falsehood.

    21. Straining to emphasize how miraculously prescient the Bible is, Marshall implies that it was written in the Stone Age. (114)

    I’m not kidding, Marshall really does say “Stone Age,” a falsehood so blatant it would make the Father of Lies himself blush.

    22. Marshall’s claim that Dawkins “interviews a Lutheran terrorist who shot an abortion doctor and his bodyguard” (173) is simply false.

    23. Marshall claims that “Some old folks in `progressive’ Holland now die involuntarily at the hands of their own doctors.” (182)

    Marshall seems to be implying that doctors in Holland are allowed to deliberately kill old people against their will. Naturally, Marshall provides no citation for what appears to be yet another monstrous lie. Indeed, a fairly recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that doctors in the Netherlands are legally *required* to obtain patient consent. Marshall seems to be just a compulsive liar.

    And Marshall’s NEJM-documented dishonesty is not the end of his dirty tricks. Amazingly for a book against atheism, Marshall didn’t actually establish that even a single person, much less a majority of the people, connected with the law that Marshall found so offensive was in fact an atheist. Marshall could actually be blaming atheists here for something that Christians did.

    That kind of scapegoating is completely contemptible, of course, but Marshall engaged in exactly that kind of sleazy behavior on other occasions (see #27 below for just one of several examples), and it seems a real possibility here too.

    24 – 25. Marshall says: “After telling us he `dislikes unfairness even more’ than religion, Dawkins says that being brought up Catholic is `undoubtedly’ worse than child abuse!” (185)

    This is a two-fer, with Marshall uttering two falsehoods in a single sentence. In reality, Dawkins was not talking about disliking religion in general, rather he was talking about disliking the Catholic Church (which was then enmeshed in a child sex abuse scandal); and he said that being raised Catholic is “arguably” worse than child abuse in particular cases, not “undoubtedly” worse in the global sense that Marshall implies.

    In both cases, Dawkins’ actual claims seem fairly reasonable. I suspect that Marshall knew that if he told the truth here, readers might agree with Dawkins on one or both points, and so Marshall simply lied to make both of Dawkins’ claims appear more objectionable. Such deception seems utterly contemptible.

    26. Marshall claims that the cause of the Holocaust was “simple,” i.e., “Having rejected Christian morality, some of Darwin’s followers derived their ethics from evolution….” (194)

    The brazenness of Marshall’s dishonesty here is indicated by the fact that, among other things, the only source he cites for the key facts in this section is Weikart’s “From Darwin to Hitler;” but Weikart explicitly disavows conclusions like Marshall’s. “It would be foolish to blame Darwinism for the Holocaust ….” (FDTH, p. 232)

    27. Marshall cites Kaiser Wilhelm II as one of the apparently atheistic Darwinists who espoused racist beliefs (195), but according to Wikipedia, Kaiser Wilhelm II was a Christian. It seems pretty contemptible for Christians like Marshall to blame atheism for the misconduct of Christians. And since Marshall himself brought up the Holocaust, it’s interesting that Marshall’s scapegoating tactics here resemble some of the Nazis’ scapegoating tactics against the Jews.

    28. Marshall claims that Weikart argues that the Holocaust was the result of eight decades of the corrosive action of Darwinism. (195) In reality, Weikart explicitly states that, “It would be foolish to blame Darwinism for the Holocaust ….” (FDTH, p. 232)

    29. Marshall makes it look like Sam Harris suggested that killing a human being with a low IQ or other cognitive deficits might be ethically justifiable. (196)

    In reality Harris was actually *opposing* that proposal. For Marshall to twist Harris’ opposition into advocacy is simply contemptible.

    30. Marshall claims, “Harris blames America’s high rates of abortion, teen pregnancy, and sexually transmitted disease on Christianity.” (204)

    If you check Marshall’s source, Harris never said what Marshall attributes to him. Marshall’s accusation is just a brazen falsehood.

    31. Marshall claims that “we have seen that the view that Christianity asks for `unjustified belief’ is itself unjustified!” (198)

    But of course Marshall hasn’t shown that at all. What about Mary’s perpetual virginity? Transubstantiation? Papal infallibility? Those are all important, arguably “unjustified beliefs,” and Marshall doesn’t even mention them, much less justify them. Marshall’s claim appears to be highly misleading or even downright false.

    32. Marshall says, “Dawkins tells us we must not ask questions about `purpose’ and `meaning.’” (215)

    If you check Marshall’s source, Dawkins himself discusses what he obviously thinks are important questions about purpose. Marshall’s accusation is downright false.

    33. Marshall continues, “[Dawkins] refers to the asking of such questions [i.e., about purpose and meaning] as `childish teleology.’” (215)

    That’s another outright falsehood. Dawkins does *not* use that term to refer to “the asking of such questions,” rather he uses it to refer to the childish habit of naively attributing purpose to inanimate objects; e.g., “Pointy rocks are so animals could scratch on them when they get itchy.”

    There are many other deceptive arguments in Marshall’s book and his posts, but I think I’ve made my point. Marshall just seems to be a pathological liar. Why trust anything he says?

    I’ll conclude by pointing out how interesting it is that so many prominent Christians, like Harvest House Publishers (Marshall’s publisher), Ralph Winter, Paul Griffiths, Allan Chapman, Rodney Stark, Guillermo Gonzalez, Miriam Adeney, Randal Rauser, Earl Palmer, Tim McGrew, and Tom Gilson of the Campus Crusade for Christ, apparently don’t mind Marshall’s sleazy dishonesty. Too many Christians just don’t seem to care much about the truth. And that’s the saddest part of all.

  23. “You said they were colleagues as a preface to your clause that McGrath is an expert in theology. In other words, you said McGrath rises to the same professional level as Dawkins, though in an adjacent field.”

    You’re confusing “say” with “imply,” “reading” with “mind-reading.” Obviously, it is Dawkins who completely fails to “rise to the same professional level” as McGrath on any conceivably relevant body of expertise in this case. Still, they ARE colleagues.

    “If McGrath’s only qualifications were in theology, as I originally thought, then they are not colleagues in the sense you clearly intended. I haven’t relinquished that point, nor have I given you any information that could possibly help your case. The only thing that happened here was that I skimmed the academic biography of McGrath too quickly. Furthermore, you are one of the last people who should be debating me when it comes to writing.

    Don’t be so hard on yourself. At least you seem able to make subjects and verbs agree.

    “At any rate, you go ahead and continue thinking that assumptions and faith are the same thing.“

    Now if you just gain the ability to understand and represent opposing arguments accurately . . .

  24. “John Smith” is almost certainly a pseudonym . . . This “gentleman” is known by myself, and by many others (including the Amazon editors), as one of the sleaziest and most blatantly dishonest posters to ever show his nose on Amazon, and I almost always decline to dignify his slop with an answer. Not that rebutting his allegations is at all difficult, but conversation with a person of such a character carries no rewards.

  25. John – That may be the most epic take-down I’ve ever seen.

    David – Theology isn’t a profession in any useful sense of the word, thus theologians are not colleagues with anyone who has any real degree. McGrath is only Dawkins’ colleague because he has respectable degrees that bear no relation to theology; you don’t get to call two people colleagues by virtue of their employment at a mutual place and then pretend like you’ve said something substantial. If you did, the janitor at Oxford could be called a colleague of a math or chemistry professor. You’re implying an equal academic level. That doesn’t exist when we compare the non-field of theology to legitimate fields such as biology.

    Now if you just gain the ability to understand and represent opposing arguments accurately . .

    Given your well-documented quote-mining of people like Dawkins and Harris, I would say that problem is yours. Where I’m concerned, you’ve confused disagreeing with a revisionist definition of “faith” with misrepresentation. Perhaps some day you might gain an interest in the history of Christian thought so that we can have a fruitful discussion here.

  26. Michael: Teaching you to think clearly, when you prefer to think unclearly, is beyond me.

    “Colleague” does not, of course, denote usefullness. (See the dictionary definition I provided above, if you don’t have a dictionary of your own.) Two generals on Kim Yun’s staff are colleagues, though neither contributes so much to society as a rabid dog. Lots of university lecturers teach useless subjects: that does not make them other than colleagues to those who teach useful subjects. You are simply confusing yourself with nonsense — no wonder you like “John Smith’s” work.

    Also, of course theology is a field, whether you like it or not. McGrath is recognized as a master of a body of knowledge — what Christians have thought about God over the centuries — that requires a great deal of informed study of primary and secondary literature in many languages. That you don’t believe in God, has absolutely nothing to do with the matter. I may not believe in extraterrestrials, but that doesn’t mean the search for them is illegitimate, still less that one can refute claims about ET (made in light of a great deal of knowledge in many fields) without bothering to learn what those claims really are.

    My “well-known quote-mining” of Dawkins and Harris? Nonsense, again. I quote them both accurately, and in context. (Unless by “well-known” you mean, “I read allegations to the contrary from a guy who has been kicked off Amazon for his dishonest sleaze, and who appears on my site giving one of ten or so pseudonyms.”)

    Some day I may “gain an interest in the history of Christian thought?” Yeah, I only have a PhD in the subject. My work in related areas has only been recommended by leading experts at schools like Duke, Marquette, Baylor, Bristol U, Penn State, and Yale. That can hardly compare with a man with nine years of Catholic education!

    Equating Alister McGrath with a janitor makes you look even more like a fanatic and a fool, Mike.

    And that’s what makes this a bore. You don’t need to be such a fool. A little humility, the willingness to admit you have some things to learn even from people you disagree with, and I might begin to feel like I was talking with a serious adult who really cared about truth.

    But apparently you prefer inane ad hominem babble. Suit yourself: it’s a bore to me, and I think I’ll be off.

  27. It is true…

    Theology is the study of nothing.

    Or at the very most: the study of unverified god concepts.

    Same difference, basically.

  28. Tristan: Lots of research is on objects that haven’t been verified. But theology is usually not just abstract thinking about God (valuable as that is), it also involves a body of historical, philosophical, moral, and exegetical knowledge that would take more than a few lifetimes to master, and often also involves the study of astronomy, mathematics, biology, social science, art, language, and everything else under and over the sun. To dismiss someone because they are a “theologian,” is to demonstrate that one is a fool, and that somewhere in Arkansas, a village has lost its atheist.

    I feel sorry for the Secular Humanist community, when atheists go down that road.

  29. What is it with you and revisionism? As I already established, you were using the term “colleague” to denote an equal academic standing. Again, if McGrath was merely a theologian, then he isn’t a colleague of any expert any more than a janitor is a colleague of a professor because they work for the same institution. (And, again, you obviously were not using the term in a way which would establish that a low-level employee is a colleague of a high-level employee. You’re just backtracking.)

    It seems at least a little ironic for you to go on and on about your degree and the people who have cited you while admonishing me for not having sufficient humility in the face of your greatness. I think you may outdo yourself, however, when you complain about ad hominens coming from other people. But, hey, I’ve got to give you credit when credit’s due: I find it honestly impressive that you’re able to recognize proper agreement between subjects and verbs despite your persistent misuse of paragraphs and commas.

  30. Here, Mike, is what I wrote (the subject was how hard it is to get atheists to grasp what Christians really mean by “faith”):

    “Of course I’m not the only one explaining this to atheists. It’s become a cottage industry. Alister McGrath, Oxford professor of theology, wrote a book large parts of which were dedicated to drilling the actual Christian concept into Richard Dawkins’ thick skull, were it at all possible. McGrath is Dawkins’ colleague, and his expertise lies in historical Christian theology, so he ought to (and does) know what it teaches. As I show in The Truth Behind the New Atheism, he might as well have saved his breath — in one of Dawkin’s ears, out the other.”

    “Colleague” means, in this paragraph, exactly what it means in the dictionary definition I gave above.

    I make it crystal clear, half a dozen times, that I DENY Dawkins has anything like “equal academic standing” with which to dispute McGrath’s claim about “what Christians mean about faith,” which is the ONLY relevant expertise in this matter. He is a complete amateur, and ignoramus.

    But they were still colleagues, as defined above, on the Oxford faculty. Dawkins knows who the man is, read his book, and OUGHT to have listened to him carefully. But did not.

    This is not rocket science, Mike. You can spend the rest of your life trying to convince yourself I once used the word “colleague” incorrected — even if in accord with the dictionary definition and common usage on college faculties — and become like “John Smith.” Or you can get a grip.

  31. So in other words when you said, “McGrath is Dawkins’ colleague, and his expertise lies in historical Christian theology, so he ought to (and does) know what it teaches”, what you were saying was that McGrath is a co-worker of Dawkins’ who has expertise in theology, thus McGrath’s combined status as an associate and expert means that he rises to the same academic level as Dawkins. This is clear bullshit, Dave. Your point that McGrath is knowledgeable relied upon your claim that he’s an expert who works at a high level. I dispute that a theologian works at any substantial level. Stop revising.

    It’s great and all that you deny whatever about Dawkins, but you’re just creating a strawman. Dawkins is a professional and an academic. Theologians are not. It isn’t relevant that you’re confused and think that anyone is saying Dawkins’ expertise is in theology.

    But they were still colleagues, as defined above, on the Oxford faculty.

    Along with Bud the janitor on the Oxford payroll.

  32. Hasn’t it been two times now that you’ve said you’d be off? Would you like to revise that statement and pretend like you never said it?

  33. Mike,

    Thanks for your comment. I wish I could take sole credit, but there are quite a few posters who have given Marshall a good shellacking in other forums, and some of my comments actually came from them.

    In any case, Marshall’s response here is pretty standard for Marshall. He claims my comments are easy to refute, but it’s been several years now since he’s known about the 30 or so allegations in my previous post, and yet as far as I know he hasn’t refuted a single one of them. Not even one! So I kind of suspect that Marshall might be lying again, just as he lied in his book.

    Marshall insists that his references to Dawkins and Harris were accurate, but anyone who actually checks Marshall’s citations will immediately see that Marshall simply lied about quite a few of them.

    Marshall also accuses me of being a liar, but he fails to provide any evidence to support that accusation, while I’ve provided what any reasonable person would probably agree is overwhelming evidence to suipport my accusations. Gee, I wonder if that means that I’m telling the truth, and Marshall isn’t?

    I think the evidence to date shows that David Marshall is a liar, pure and simple. And Marshall’s habit of simply running away from these allegations just makes him look more dishonest, IMHO.

    And it’s also interesting to see how many other prominent Christians just don’t seem to mind Marshall’s dishonesty. Ralph Winter, Paul Griffiths, Tim McGrew, Carson Weitnauer of the Christian Apologetics Alliance, and Tom Gilson of the Campus Crusade are all fairly prominent folks. Where the heck are they in this matter? Why do they leave it up to others to point out Marshall’s nakedness?

  34. And that’s what makes this a bore. You don’t need to be such a fool. A little humility, the willingness to admit you have some things to learn even from people you disagree with, and I might begin to feel like I was talking with a serious adult who really cared about truth.

    “Serious adults” are capable of having substantive discussions and spirited debates without resorting to this kind of childish condescension.

  35. This is utterly amazing.

    After what Marshall said to me, he then had the nerve to tell Mike:

    “You don’t need to be such a fool. A little humility, the willingness to admit you have some things to learn even from people you disagree with, and I might begin to feel like I was talking with a serious adult who really cared about truth.”

    Wow, talk about pots and kettles! Marshall is not only one of the most fluent liars I’ve ever seen, he’s also one of the biggest hypocrites.

  36. @David Marshall,

    I don’t exactly know what you’re getting at. Theology isn’t a relevant field of study as it is the study of God.

    What you mention, i.e. philosophy, history of religion, etc., are different fields of study.

    My comment that theology is the study of nothing is reflected in the fact that theology adds nothing to these other already well established fields of investigation aside from the aforementioned speculation in unverified claims.

    I would add, much of theology is outright unfalsifiable, and can never hope to add anything, thereby making it simultaneously a useless field of study, for why not simply become a philosopher or a religious historian?

    But you seem to assume that because I say it is a useless field, that my being an atheist means I couldn’t possibly find any theological works of value.

    That is a baseless assumption and one you incorrectly assume.

    I am currently reading through the works of Luigi Giussani at the behest of my friend who, like you, has a PhD in theology.

    One of my favorite writers is the Christian theologian Thomas Traherne.

    So just because I find theology to be a dead-end as a field of investigation doesn’t mean I write off all theologians or the great thinkers, philosophers, and men of letters who have made theology their life’s ambition.

    Anyone who can ask questions can be a philosopher, but you have to have a bias toward the proclivity of faith based belief to be a theologian, and although I distinguish between philosophy and theology, my friend does not. It is a debate we are still having after near a decade, and so I do not believe your sharp quips will likely persuade me toward any set conclusion.

    As for the rest of your comment, about Arkansas and village atheists, I do not get the reference or the meaning.

  37. […] of believers who have managed to publish books. I took on a post by one of those apologists, David Marshall, who was responding to Mike. It wasn’t that I thought my assistance was needed (it […]

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