P.S. Concerning Daniel Fincke

P.S. Concerning Daniel Fincke

Daniel Fincke congratulates himself and other atheists for being humble and for eschewing stereotypes. I think it’s worth noting what he thinks of Christians in contrast:

hypocritical, preachy, authoritarian, having a persecution complex, believing without evidence, manipulative, denying the validity of reason, nasty, lazy, using copouts, addressing only the weakest objections, exploiting emotional weaknesses, arrogant, dogmatic, triumphalist, mocking, “riddled with rational contradictions, anti-scientific supernaturalism, and historical fabrications,” living by an “arbitrary, culturally and psychologically engrained double standard,” “downright awful,” obnoxious, demanding, using “any emotional reason whatsoever” [Hah!! see chapter five in True Reason], following “the worst possible bad guy,” opposed to the “spirit of science,” stopping our curiosity with “God did it,” hurting the cause of science, … 

All that comes from one blog post, the one I featured this morning from a different angle. That’s our humble professor speaking. I’m glad he’s not bigoted, aren’t you?

50 thoughts on “P.S. Concerning Daniel Fincke

  1. This description of Christians from Professor Fincke rivals atheists’ list of nasty descriptors of God, a la Richard Dawkins. But then, of course, opinions about God and Christians will vary.

  2. Tom,

    Daniel Fincke may not call us Christians stupid, but it is only because he has this explanation of why we believe:

    “People are not religious because they’re brainless but because they have brains bequeathed to them by evolution that lead them regularly to cognitive errors to which all humans are susceptible.”

    But this isn’t all. Note the many other explanations he gives for Christians’ (erroneous) beliefs from the page you provided the link to. Is his doctoral degree in psychiatry?

    I recommend that you include this link in the article above as more evidence of Professor Fincke’s “humility” in his attitude toward Christians.

  3. And in other posts I have leveled comparably strong criticisms of atheists (see links detailing atheists’ sins below or go to Secularite magazine where I’ve published four straight posts going all sorts of ways that standard atheist criticisms are too simplistic and reductionistic). In the context of my article, most of the words you list above are all raised as condemnations of specific common failures of subsets of Christians or of the filmmakers behind God’s Not Dead, etc. They’re not blanket condemnations of entire people in their entire persons.

    Why I Criticize My Fellow Atheists
    The Very Worst of the Atheist Movement on Display: Major Atheist Orgs Attack Star of David Holocaust Memorial
    On The Uses and Abuses of Tragedies for Atheism
    Stop Calling People Stupid
    You Glance Out Your Window and See a Shackled Black Slave and a Slavery-Justifying Bible Verse. What Do You Think?
    “But Aren’t Some People Actually Stupid?”

  4. Here’s a copy of the comment I left on Dr. Fincke’s page, linked in the previous comment:

    I welcome any reader to visit the page you called “nitpicking,” Dr. Fincke, and to see that my response covered more than “the fact that [you] address issues not explicitly raised in the film.” For example:

    – Christians’ openness to questions
    – God’s goodness
    – Metaphysical naturalism

    But in general, I find your criticism of my blog post ironically similar to your criticism of the movie: “rather than writing detailed responses to many (or even a manageable few) of my ideas….” You were also concerned about the movie’s lack of detailed arguments. But your post was 13,600 words long. A detailed response even to one of your subheadings would have required a full-length blog post. I could have chosen to do that, or I could have chosen to survey your long post. I chose the latter.

    Maybe you think I made the wrong choice, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find some moral or rational basis for that opinion. It’s a matter of preference, I think. You say I put “a lot of energy into pointing out that [you] didn’t write a proper movie review but talked about things not there.” Since this had every appearance of a movie review, I thought it appropriate to respond to it as such.

    Meanwhile, thank you for your assurance that you have a bad opinion of some atheists as well as “Christian culture”, the members of which (from this post) have an “anti-intellectual, anti-philosophical, anti-secular persecution complex,” have a “revenge fantasy,” need a “safety blanket” for our “intellectual insecurities,” and are “fearful,” “paranoid,” “manipulative,” and “domineering.” I haven’t studied what you’ve written about atheists, but maybe you’re an equal-opportunity critic. Does this really, mean, though, that you’re trying hard not to look like a stereotyper?”

  5. Wow, Tom out of curiosity I actually took the time to attempt locating these damning adjectives you’ve listed in this quote mine of yours… funny thing is I searched the article (really easy just use the find function in your browser) it seemed to either turn up zero. Meaning the word wasn’t even in the post or you’ve used it as quote completely out of context… one in particular that I think is very applicable to your attempts here is you’re quoted use of “lazy, using copouts.” This is found in it’s original context as a section title “Creating A Strawman of Philosophers is a Lazy Copout” … which makes it kind of an interesting twist of words to get your desired usage wouldn’t you say?

    Don’t worry though it seems your intended spin has been conveyed completely as evidenced by your follower Jenna’s response “This description of Christians from Professor Fincke rivals atheists’ list of nasty descriptors of God, a la Richard Dawkins.” Only problem is that Dan Fincke didn’t make that list, you did.

    Yes, score one for the misrepresentation of the enemy in the name of Jesus… congrats.

  6. Dan, maybe you didn’t notice that some of those adjectives had quotation marks around them, and others didn’t. This one didn’t. It was a paraphrase of, as you said, “Creating A Strawman of Philosophers is a Lazy Copout.”

    What is it about that heading that contradicts the idea that he’s accusing us of being lazy, using copouts? What’s “spin” about that interpretation?

    I’m all ears.

  7. Again Tom your obviously intended goal of this blog posting was achieved as evidenced in the statement of your disciple Jenna “This description of Christians from Professor Fincke rivals atheists’ list of nasty descriptors of God, a la Richard Dawkins.”

    It’s interesting to note that instead of correcting Jenna with what you’ve just shared with ME here “some of those adjectives had quotation marks around them, and others didn’t…” you simply allow the delusion of your listing being a full quotation similar the one Dawkins did to continue… but not only that you add yet a further jab and misrepresentation with “But look: Never once did he call us stupid” You flippantly use that line as a joke, ignoring the actual context of that article which argues that it’s Not okay to call people stupid.

    If you want to hold onto your disagreement with Dan Fincke regarding the movie review, that’s fine, debate the concepts and ideology presented in the movie but THIS post sir is a personal attack and pure ad hominem and if my atheist friends will forgive me the faulty moral basis of this pun is very “unchristian” of you.

  8. Mr. DeMura, my goal in the blog post was to highlight Prof. Fincke’s expressed attitudes concerning Christians. I do think I met that goal.

    I asked you a question in #9, which you have not answered yet.

    I have another question for you now. You say,

    you simply allow the delusion of your listing being a full quotation similar the one Dawkins did to continue

    I don’t think Jenna saw this being a “full quotation.” Maybe it’s because I have context you do not have: I know she has been on this blog enough to know that I use blockquotes or quotation marks for actual quotations. I know also that she is intelligent enough to click a link and inspect the source of that list for herself.

    Actually, when I pulled that list from Prof. Fincke’s blog posting, I did with the expectation that every reader would have that same level of savvy. It never occurred to me that anyone might think it was a direct quotation: the styling is all wrong, and I made the original source evidence too easy to check.

    So my second question for you is, did you think this was a direct quote when you read it?

    Two more questions:

    What exactly is it about this post that misrepresents Prof. Fincke?
    and,
    Since ad hominems bother you so much, where on Daniel Fincke’s blog can I find you advising him that he has aimed ad hominems inappropriately at Christians?

    I’ll look forward to your answers to these four questions. Thank you.

  9. If your goal in THIS post is to “highlight Prof. Finke’s expressed attitudes concerning Christians” then I’m sorry I do not see that you’ve achieved that goal and I find that goal rather immature and yes ad hominem considering you’ve connected it directly to your criticism of his said review. As well I have no interest in entertaining you in dissecting the full context and misuse of every single adjective you’ve listed here in a character assassination of someone that you supposedly have compassion for in the love of Christ?? That should suffice as answer for your #9

    Perhaps it’s simply the inability to convey proper tone via text on a screen but I’ve met you in person (I know you probably don’t remember) and had lunch with you about a year ago so I know you’re not this big of an ass and I would like to give you the benefit of the doubt because I remember you as being for the most part a decent guy. However, I see on your blog that you are very much connected with this film Tom so it’s completely understandable that you find any criticism of it troublesome, but if your goal is to win non-believers to Christ… I’m simply sharing with you that THIS post and your continued defense of it (as well as implied insults to the intelligence of anyone who questions your motives for posting it) isn’t much of a witness, you can ponder that or disregard it as you choose.

    Moving away from personal vitriol… I would love your response to this review of the movie… Why the movie GOD’S NOT DEAD works (An Atheist On Why Christians Like It )

  10. Character assassination?

    Anyway, I’ve been interacting with this blog in one for or another for about a year now and in that time I’ve never seen Tom come close to insulting anyone’s intelligence. Perhaps you can point me in the direction of this insult you detected, Dan?

  11. Well Billy Squibs, correct me if I’m wrong but you’re part of the Choir are you not? How about you give me your thoughts on that link I provided.

  12. Call me Billy, please.

    So I ask you in a non-hostile fashion to provide evidence that Tom has engaged in character assassination and was insulting the intelligence of others and you answer like this? Come on, Dan! I’ve no time for a comment that is in part insinuation and in part dodge.

    I have previously stated that I don’t have much desire to see the film and I have not read much in the way of reviews apart from stuff from Tom and Daniel Fincke. Thus I don’t feel like reading the review that you posted much less reviewing the review.

    Now, back to the original questions I directed at you. Can you answer them?

  13. Dan, if you want to know what I think about why Christians are so interested in this movie, I’ve written on that already.

    The post you linked to mentions the David and Goliath theme, which I also mentioned in my earlier article. It camps on the film’s use of stereotypes, which I think we’ve discussed enough here already for you to know what I think. Speaking of which, however, “So they try to encourage pity for the Muslims, who, they think, secretly want to be Christian.” I’m sorry, but I’ve never had a conversation with any Christian who thinks “the Muslims… secretly want to be Christian.” This is a nice evidence-free generalization over Christians: a stereotype, in other words.

    In some places that article gets rather too analytical, I think. One example:

    The reasons for the discomfort Christians feel towards Wheaton’s girlfriend (her “revealing top,” her unsubmissiveness, and her domineering personality) are used so that the Christian is led to think that any discomfort with her behavior should translate to the belief that her stance on the proper place for God in one’s life is wrong.

    For my part, I don’t think the film led me by the nose in quite that manipulative a way. Her stance on the proper place for God in one’s life was wrong. Her attempts to control Josh were wrong. That’s the way her character was written and directed. I didn’t need to be led emotionally or dramatically to those conclusions; I’m quite able to form those kinds of opinions on my own.

    I think the key passage in there is this one:

    So the film consistently uses relationship dynamics to inflate or deflate the amount of pity and anger the audience gives to those watching the film, and it conditions the audience to do this by starting believable and then keying into the audience’s tropes and life experiences to ramp it up and validate these tropes and experiences.

    I’m not quite sure what to make of this assessment. I’m not sure which film the writer was talking about, or rather which film the writer wasn’t talking about. If this is a criticism of this movie, it’s a criticism of virtually every movie.

    That pretty much encapsulates my whole sense of this movie review. It’s not so much a description of how this movie works, as it is a case study illustrating how movies work. This reviewer disagrees with the overall message and impact of this film, but there’s nothing new about that: lots of movies have messages, and effects, on viewers that lots of people disagree with.

    And I think that’s really all I have to say about that review.

  14. It’s not so much a description of how this movie works, as it is a case study illustrating how movies work. This reviewer disagrees with the overall message and impact of this film, but there’s nothing new about that

    Fair enough… but if this film is essentially a fantasized Sunday School lesson on screen written by Christians for Christians… why does it surprise you that atheists would rip apart the stereotypes littered throughout the film, including the conversion of the Muslim girl?

  15. Dan (@#17), thank you for adding ad hominem to stereotype. I’m curious, though: where did you get the idea that I was surprised by atheists’ responses? I’m not that naive.

  16. Other movies with messages:

    Golden Compass
    Footloose
    Pocahontas*
    Carrie
    Jesus Camp
    Religulous

    *If you don’t know why I included that one, compare the real history of Pocahontas with the movie’s version of what happened.

  17. I’m at a lose on how you interpret my inference of ‘surprise’ as ad hominem, but if that is so I do apologize because there was no implication of you being “naive” whatsoever. In fact I think you’re far from naive I think you’re very intelligent… but Tom, I’m beginning to get the sense the word humble doesn’t work well within your apologetic agenda and frankly not sure what you’re real goal is?

    I’ve obviously not spent much time on your blog but over the past day I’ve poked around in a few of your blog entries… your words you shared in other post regarding your conflicts with an athiest I think are very applicable here

    If we can get to the point where we are each willing to do the work [to] understand what the other is saying, then maybe we can move on to discussing whether one side makes more sense than the other.

    So please tell me what is it that you think I’m trying to convey to you?

  18. Billy @#15 Considering Tom saw fit to delete my original #18 response to you as he evidently deemed my use of a word that describes the game in which participants compete to see who can urinate the highest, the farthest, or the most accurately as being a foul word for his blog… I’ll respond here to you once again briefly. “Can you answer them?” Yes, I could but considering it’s not really your fight and the whole point of my comments here are in relation to the OP was that turning this conversation into a personal vendetta isn’t much of a witness. I’ll say again my case is publicly available for you to read and you are free to ponder that or disregard it as you choose.

  19. Dan, the ad hominem wasn’t the “surprise.” It’s no wonder you couldn’t figure out why I considered it to be, since I didn’t.

    I used the wrong fallacy name, really. My error there. What I was referring to was your toxified description of the movie: “essentially a fantasized Sunday School lesson on screen.” It was an informal ad hominem by way of belittling, bereft of substance yet delivering a jab, a poke.

  20. Again fair enough… belittling wasn’t intended, even in that regard so I apologize for that. I think the word you found offense in that statement was perhaps “fantasized” but that’s a description of what movies are, no?

    If I phrased this as the “film is essentially a dramatized Sunday School lesson on screen written by Christians for Christians” would you still find that offense? Was the film not essentially a pro-gospel message? Was the movie not targeted toward a Christian demographic in order to encourage them in their world view?

    The biggest question I think at the heart of the conversation regarding the film [not the OP, I wish you’d demonstrate some humility by deleting this particular post and I’d be fine continuing this conversation on your other post regarding the review] but the question I would ask you is, do you Not see the film itself as being filled with stereotypes?

  21. @Tom Gilson:

    This talk is completely bizarre. Practically every great writer (and I will speak only of Literature, which is what I know best) is tendentious, polemical, and with views on Human nature that are more often than not, and if judged with equanimity, deplorable. Dante glorifies in subjecting his enemies to the torments of Hell. Milton’s views on liberty are deplorable. Dostoievsky was an anti-semite. Swift is a universal acid. Etc. and etc.

    This is what we can find in Great Art and Literature; I will refrain from commenting on the state of popular culture, which for large parts, only inspires revulsion, scorn and contempt.

  22. Professors who act like the one in the movie are hardly a caricature. Our kids suffered through stuff like this in a Freshman Composition class that had everything to do with liberal/libertarian canards and almost nothing to do with English Composition. I wrote about just a small subset of the goofiness they suffered as it was happening. This was not their only class where this kind of thing happened. The circumstances and methodologies might have been different, but the worldview and demagoguery were the same.

  23. What are you saying, G. Rodrigues? That it’s not true that the definition of quality art includes “pleases everybody, offends nobody”? Who’d have ever thunk that?

  24. Billy @#15 Considering Tom saw fit to delete my original #18 response to you as he evidently deemed my use of a word that describes the game in which participants compete to see who can urinate the highest, the farthest, or the most accurately as being a foul word for his blog… I’ll respond here to you once again briefly. “Can you answer them?” Yes, I could but considering it’s not really your fight and the whole point of my comments here are in relation to the OP was that turning this conversation into a personal vendetta isn’t much of a witness. I’ll say again my case is publicly available for you to read and you are free to ponder that or disregard it as you choose.

    It’s not about this being a fight. I’m asking you to justify your comments about Tom. You made specific accusations and I’m interested to see if you can back them up.

    In the prior time it has taken you to respond to me you could have copied and pasted the offending comments and still had time to make a cup of soothing chamomile tea. That you are unwilling to do so looks mightily suspicious from my perspective, and I would think that if the shoe was on the other foot you would feel the same.

    So here is the deal. If you choose not to respond to my request for clarity I wont continue to ask. People can make up their own minds about our interaction.

  25. Rude arrogant Christians exist too do they not? Is that an archetype you wish to be portrayed as an example of?

  26. IMO, it is undeniable that there is stereotypying of Christians going on in the discussion of the movie God’s Not Dead. More troubling than just a series of adjectives that convey negative descriptions of Christians, there is “analysis” of the reasons why Christians believe in God and why we are Christians. The image (stereotype) that Daniel Finckle puts forward in several of his blogs that I have read is one of the Christian who is “exploited” and “manipulated” by religious institutions into accepting the notion that “God is working in their lives” and so on. The underlying assumption here is that Christians do not make an intelligent, reasoned and deliberated decision and commitment to our Christian faith. This is what is troubling, especially coming from someone who self-identifies as an academic, because he cites or references no research in any academic discipline regarding faith development and the influence of religious faith on life factors, despite the fact that there is a credible body of research on these topics.

    I have not had the opportunity yet to see the movie, but what I see is that the core message is that Christianity is intellectually defensible, a fact that atheists want to refute. This I believe is a motive that arises out of a desire to make atheism appear to be an intellectually superior world view to faith in God. This core issue in the discussion/debate about religion is a legitimate issue to be portrayed and explored through the story-telling inherent in a movie. My question is this: Why do some atheists fail to recognize the attitudes and mind-set behind stereotyping of Christians and all people of faith while claiming to object to stereotyping of any individuals or groups, including atheists?

  27. So in your mind this film is justified and you not only defend but celebrate every misrepresentation it contains of non-believers, Muslims etc by labeling them as archetypes instead of stereotypes because art isn’t intended to “pleases everybody” or “offend nobody”?

  28. I have not had the opportunity yet to see the movie, but what I see is that the core message is that Christianity is intellectually defensible, a fact that atheists want to refute.

    Jenna, most the atheists I know aren’t worried too much about the message of Christianity presented in this film that they found intellectually superior but are more bothered by the misrepresentation of atheism and the philosophical debate as a whole. Are you really saying that you feel atheists are unable to refute any of the arguments for God presented in this movie? Which one?

    What I’m trying to get across to Christians is that this kind of presentation of Christianity isn’t doing your side any favors. I know it may be a feel good movie from a Christian perspective but as another atheist blogger put it…

    “Films like this aren’t created to show nonbelievers “the light” or even make them question their lack of faith. Instead, they only strengthen Christian opposition to nonbelief and aim to put all secularists into the category of angry atheism.”

  29. Tom, “putting words” in your mouth? I asked you regarding your defense of the representation of the atheism as being angry and if you would appreciate being represented as an archetype of rude arrogant Christian and your answer was #31

    That it’s not true that the definition of quality art includes “pleases everybody, offends nobody”? Who’d have ever thunk that?

    How am I putting words in your mouth?

  30. Dan, this is getting tiresome.

    I have already stated what I think. You’re interpreting it for everyone according to your bias. I’d rather they interpret it for themselves. If I complied with your request and re-stated what I’ve already said, I’m sure you would re-interpret it again, and round and round we would go.

    If anyone here wants to know what I think, I’m a better source for my views than Dan is.

  31. If anyone here wants to know what I think, I’m a better source for my views than Dan is.

    Tom I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for clarification considering your only answer to my question was… “Dan, see #31” (#35) but you’re free to disengage from the conversation if you so choose, it’s your blog.

  32. So here is the deal. If you choose not to respond to my request for clarity I wont continue to ask. People can make up their own minds about our interaction.

    Billy, people will always make up their own minds about any interaction. So not that I any longer expect an actual demonstration of humility from the Christian side of the conversation on this blog, but to satisfy your curiosity… I will answer your question.

    My original comment to Tom was in regard to the comparison made by Jenna “This description of Christians from Professor Fincke rivals atheists’ list of nasty descriptors of God, a la Richard Dawkins.”

    My statement of implied insults to the intelligence of anyone who questions the motives of posting this colorful list of adjectives was prompted by his defensive reply of “Maybe it’s because I have context you do not have:..I know also that she is intelligent enough” and “I did with the expectation that every (that emphasis in original) reader would have that same level of savvy.” and ultimately the belittling question of “did you think this was a direct quote when you read it?”

    Now, please note I let all this slide because this is Tom’s playground and honestly confidence in myself as a person does not depend upon his opinion of me… but I’ve answered your question.

  33. Dan, yes, I’m disengaging from your interpretations.

    I wish you the best Tom… for the record I’m not sure what “interpretation” you’re referring to when I’ve asked for clarification in what you mean by “Dan see #31” but I’m sure you have your reasons for avoiding a direct answer.

  34. This has been an amusing couple of days on this blog. I read through Dr. Fincke’s analysis and as a non-theist, thought it was spot on. The ensuing fireworks were very entertaining.

    Basically my take on it, similar to others, is that the movie is preaching to the choir. It will be ignored by the mainstream, and dismissed by anyone who is not already a serious Christian. There’s no point in getting worked up about it in my opinion, simply because it’s not meant for non-Christians.

  35. Dan, you’re spinning this like a top. And you’re wondering “what ‘interpretation'” I’m referring to. I can’t believe you don’t know.

    I have given a direct answer to every question asked, up to the point where it was clear that a direct answer would not be taken as a direct answer, but would be spun off on some spiral.

    For the record, the following words are yours, not mine, they are your interpretation, not mine, and they are your opinion not mine. Nevertheless you represented them as being my opinion:

    So in your mind this film is justified and you not only defend but celebrate every misrepresentation it contains of non-believers, Muslims etc by labeling them as archetypes instead of stereotypes because art isn’t intended to “pleases everybody” or “offend nobody”?

    If it isn’t clear to you by now what I’m talking about, Dan, then you’re blind to the obvious, which doesn’t make for a very positive representation of your position.

  36. So then, Dan, you can choose to press this by continuing to miss the obvious, or you can recognize it and acknowledge it, or you can just drop it. That’s your choice.

    If you continue to press it, I’ll have to choose whether to let stand what you write or to treat it according to item 9 in my discussion policy.

    Let me remind you, though, that missing the obvious is no help to your position.

  37. @Chris

    I agree with you, but there is a need for discussion and getting at least a little “worked up”.

    Proponents of the film have a double standard – they will praise it’s feel good message and embrace its propaganda and call it “authentic”, but will dismiss any criticism by saying “oh, it’s just a movie”, as Tom has innumerable times.

    If everyone took it as “just a movie” then there would indeed be nothing to be worked up about. The fact remains, though, that it is a movie aimed at a target audience, with a specific message, and filled with elements that would enhance its mass appeal – from the tired stereotypes to the inclusion of celebrities and a major musical act. Since it was meant as propaganda, it should be clearly exposed as such.

    I am sure that many will dismiss the film’s flaws and resulting criticism as Tom has (like relabeling them as “archetypes” and not “stereotypes”, lol!) but for perhaps a few of the faithful the healthy discussion and criticism will help temper some of its salacious pandering.

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