Tom Gilson

What Is the Arizona Atheist Really After?

I had previously posted a set of screenshots here showing that comments of mine had been removed from the Arizona Atheist’s web pages. I am removing them now, in view of this that he has just posted on his site:

I apologize everyone. I noticed on a number of posts the Disqus comment system disappeared and reverted back to the standard WordPress comment system. I finally saw what happened. It got disabled somehow. I have just re-enabled it but all comments that were in WordPress vanished. Rest assured I will repost everyone’s comments that I can who posted on this post as long as I still have the notification email. I’ll copy and paste all lost comments back here. I just got one from someone named Jenna Black whose comment I want to respond to. It’s late so I’ll have to do it tomorrow. Sorry for the inconvenience.

I wrongly concluded that he had taken my posts down intentionally. Actually, they were the only ones missing, based on my observations of his page through the day, but still, I jumped to a conclusion. I apologize for the error.

Commenting Restored

The comment function here has been out of service, possibly causing frustration, for which I apologize. You can comment again now, and it will save and post as it should do. First-time commenters' comments will not appear, however, until approved in moderation.

14 thoughts on “What Is the Arizona Atheist Really After?

  1. Tom,

    I entered the discussion between Arizona Atheist and you this evening, after re-reading your chapter in True Reason. My post is in moderation now so I guess we’ll have to wait and see if Bob Seidensticker’s ban amounts to complete exile of Jenna Black from the atheists’ blogesphere. I have also posted as CodyGirl824.

    Good luck with this debate.


  2. I wish you’d just focus on the issues and not the shenanigans. If you’re not getting through to that other guy, maybe it’s better to stop talking to him. Let’s have the discussion over here, and just focus on the issues instead of personality or whatever.

  3. I wish you’d just focus on the issues and not the shenanigans.

    This seems like an odd complaint when you go through his blog and look through the many posts where focuses on the issues.

  4. Very important that we spend time bringing Christians into apologetics and a new thinking Christianity…… let’s not get bogged down 🙂

  5. John and Rob, I can appreciate your desire to move on to other things. I’ve amended the OP here, as you can see.

    My substantive posting here has been slowed down by book and article deadlines, but I do intend to keep it going.

  6. Tom,

    Just in case my post to the Arizona Atheist’s website doesn’t make it through the Discus/ Word Press confusion, I’m posting it here.

    July 11, 2014 Posted to the Arizona Atheist by Jenna Black

    I am puzzled by your back and forth with Tom Gilson because you appear to think that you have dealt Tom’s argument some sort of fatal blow somewhere in your copious discussion of his chapter from True Reason titled “God and Science Do Mix.” I fail to find such a fatal-blow argument. In fact, I think that Krauss, Haldane and you all three are committing several equivocation fallacies: namely, equating the ordinary use of the term “miracle” in popular parlance with the term “miracle” in a theological, metaphysical and spiritual sense. When I as a Christian say that it was a miracle that I was able to get a parking space at the shopping mall on the Saturday before Christmas, this is a very different meaning of the term “miracle” than when I speak of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The ordinariness of miracles such as finding a parking space should not be confused with the miracles that we Christians believe are God’s revelation of Himself and His character to humankind, collectively and individually.

    The second fallacy of equivocation that you commit is to equate atheism and science, as if to claim that science supports or affirms atheism, which it does not. This, IMO, is the main point of Tom Gilson’s chapter in True Reason. Science is silent on the question/issue of God’s “existence” (whatever it is that is meant by something named/labeled “God” to do whatever is meant by “exist”). Atheism is not silent on the question of God’s existence, while science is. And whenever scientists as individuals or collectively venture into the realm of speculation about “God’s existence,” they enter into the realm of theology, of which atheism is a branch (position, stance, philosophical perspective). Science is rightfully and ethically silent on issues of theology, although science can and does inform theology. After all, science is only a systematic methodology for inquiry into how God’s creation works.

  7. There’s only one way to extract oneself from a quagmire like the one over there: by stopping, and by ignoring the accusations that you’re stopping because you can’t handle the arguments they’re bringing to you. Here’s one of the arguments AA is sticking with. I had written,

    It is a complete non sequitur to say that “If God had intended the world to be readily understandable at a macro level, then God would have intended it to be readily understandable at the quantum level.” So it’s also a non sequitur to suppose (as you wrote), that “If he created the world (meaning all of it) then it [the quantum world] should be easily understood, according to your argument.”

    He responded,

    It is not a non sequitur to argue that if god [sic] created the world he would make all of it understandable. The regular and quantum are inseparable, but you apparently don’t know anything about physics. It thus follows that if your god [sic] created the world then he created all of it and made all of it understandable. He did not, therefore your argument fails. This is not rocket science.

    And then he told me I need to “learn to write more clearly and not to get so riled up when someone points out that what you have written and what you argue do not appear to sync up.”

    So here I am venting a moment over the sheer frustration of trying to reason with someone who can’t see the most obvious logic, and yet tells me I’m the one who’s wrong. It’s really quite amazing.

  8. I was thinking of offering him a wager: If he could get three college/university philosophy professors to publicly agree with him that I was wrong about that being a non sequitur, I’d shut my blog here down for a month. Five professors, and I’d take it down for a year.

    The thing is, while I’m sure that would be a safe wager, it would be making the same mistake I tend to make too often: staying in too long, trying too hard, caring too much about what a logically incompetent blogger thinks. So I refrained from making that move.

    Someday I’ll learn to keep out of these mud pits.

  9. Tom,

    I posted again this morning on the Arizona Atheist’s website regarding your back and forth with him. I see why you are putting closure on the discussion. I sense that we Christians are recognizing the need to clarify the purpose and meaning of Christian apologetics in the world of “key-board atheism” and the internet.

    God bless your work.


  10. @Tom Gilson:

    Even though I myself do not follow this advice as I should, here goes:

    I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.
    — George Bernard Shaw

    note: I cannot help but quote this:

    I said that naturalism describes this quantum world better than Gilson’s supernaturalist view. I said this because on the Christian view god supposedly created the world so we can understand it, but apparently we are unable to understand a large part of the world. This makes no sense on a supernaturalist view of the world, but makes perfect sense on a naturalist view of the world.


  11. It is not a non sequitur to argue that if god [sic] created the world he would make all of it understandable.

    This short snippet is all you need to spot the non-sequitur.

  12. Tom,

    After a few more exchanges with the Arizona Atheist, I am as puzzled as you are about what he is after. He is now claiming that reports from Christians about God’s intervening in their lives are “facts” that refute your claim that miracles are infrequent, since these Christians, AA claims, themselves call these interactions with God “miracles.” How, strangely enough, we have an atheist claiming that claims of miracles are facts and that all of these are cases of God’s “violating the laws of nature” because in the Christians’ testimony, they call them miracles. It’s a really weird argument, all in an effort to make you wrong (and Krauss right.)

    One outcome of this conversation, bizarre as it is, is my recognition of the need for us Christians to be clear in our conversations and in our testimony about what we mean when we speak of miracles and the miraculous. This example of argument by re-definition reminds me a bit of Peter Bogghosian and how bogged down he got himself in redefining the term “faith.”

    I don’t know how much longer I’ll hold out since it’s getting very repetitive. Any suggestions?

  13. If AA accepts miracles as fact, then I think the appropriate question to ask is why are you still an atheist?

  14. Jenna, thanks for your encouragement and your tenacity.

    He thinks it is not a non sequitur to argue, “If God wants us to be able to readily understand the macro world, then he wants us to be able to readily understand quantum physics,” and he has stuck with that through a couple rounds of questioning on it. That means we’re not going to get through to him with rational reasoning. No sense in trying any longer.

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