No, I Don’t Consider It That Kind of Game

I don’t expect anything I write here to change JT Eberhard’s mind about me or about Christianity. I just want to wonder out loud which of his values and beliefs he thinks he is expressing in this blog post.

Values With Respect To Other Persons

  • The title of the blog post is “Tom Gilson wants to play with me.” That’s a baiting and belittling approach.
  • Using profanity while purportedly carrying on reasoned discussion.
  • Assuming throughout that “reason has jumped ship” among Christians—a dehumanizing assumption.
  • Using abusive language with respect to God. Granted, he thinks belief in God is stupid. He thinks Christians are stupid. In most interactions, most persons do not take that kind of belittling disdain as license to speak abusively of what other persons value.

Values With Respect to Scholarship and Intellectual Integrity

  • Insisting in classic fundamentalist fashion that his 21st-century Western reading of Genesis 1 and 6 is the only allowable one, ignoring all textual, historical, and literary context, paying no heed to any of the actual scholarship on the matter.
  • Pronouncing with no apparent awareness of the history of science that “the flatness of the earth, geocentricity, and a bounded universe were all major parts of the Church’s dogma for well over a millennium.” (One of those in particular is astonishingly easy to refute.
  • Misrepresenting church history in the context of science (“The Church burned scholars at the stake for speculating about the nature of the stars.”)
  • Laughing at an epistemology that accepts the reasonable conclusions of science, pretty much throughout his blog post.

Values with Respect To Reasoned Argumentation

  • Ignoring evidence provided for an assertion (“Splendid. Trot it out.” — immediately following a link to the very evidence he had requested.)
  • Constructing straw-man versions of many of my arguments:
    • Are you really asserting that most Christians don’t believe miracles to be supernatural in nature?” I did not say that.
    • “We don’t require a totally consistent universe, which is how an apple turned into tiger during this step.” I said nothing resembling that.
    • Miracles as you define them (not how dictionaries or other Christians define them) are just rare events that do not require the magic violation of natural law. I did not say that (although what I did say did not include “magic,” it did involve God’s supernatural intervention.)
    • The events in the bible were just rare, but natural events. (I did not say that.)
    • Christianity provided the philosophical foundation for doing science.” I said it provided part of the philosophical foundation, along with what the Greeks and Muslims (most notably) also provided; that each culture’s contribution was significant and probably necessary.

It’s not my intention here to fisk his article (refute it point-by-point with documentation). I think that’s what he was baiting me to do, and I have no need to participate with him in it. It would take thousands of words. Given JT’s track record, I think there’s a very high risk the next round would be focused on correcting misrepresentations of what I said, rather than dealing with any productive substance. It’s not worth the effort for me to get involved in that kind of interaction.

So if you want to check out what I’ve written here, you can search out the sources yourself. So can he. Comments are closed specifically because he used the language of “wants to play with me” in his article. I don’t consider this to be that kind of game.

Tom Gilson

Vice President for Strategic Services, Ratio Christi Lead Blogger at Thinking Christian Editor, True Reason BreakPoint Columnist

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