Debate and Commentary, Perceptions and Misconceptions

I recently changed my About information by replacing the word ‘agnostic’ with ‘atheist’ and in the interest of Atheism awareness, included the scarlet A on the front page. I performed a tag search on Atheism and stumbled across a blog entry by a Christian. Of all the Christian entries that popped up, his appealed to me the most. His major claim was not only that an Atheist’s God was Science, but went as far as to say he believed Atheism to be a religion–which is plain ludicrous. I will not address the reasons here as I already stated many on his entry ‘Blinded me with science.’

I commented on Deacon Blue’s blog (is an actual Deacon by the way), because beneath the bad points, I perceived a genuine desire to understand Atheism and his logic skills were a bit better than the average person’s. I thought he was more misguided than anything else, and that had mostly been a byproduct of beginning with a faulty premise. Once you do that, your chances of arriving at truth are severely handicapped.

The debate began well. Yet, soon enough, it went to hell. Anyone who has read my previous posts here and/or comments on other blogs such as Nessa’s, quickly realizes I have a direct and unapologetic attitude. I detest hypocrisy. If I believe you to be deluded and/or misguided for example, I make no attempts to hide it. If I believe my arguments are superior to yours, I will not say, ‘your idea of truth is just as valid as my own.’

Logic has rules for a reason. Some arguments are better than others. I will not lie just to make you feel better about yourself. Conversely, I have no respect for someone who decides to lie to me to keep from offending my sensibilities. Growth comes from being challenged. How presumptuous to think they understand what truths I can or cannot handle. The choice is mine to make. How presumptuous to think I place my own emotional comfort above truth. To do so, is disgustingly weak.

I decided to stop posting on Deacon Blue’s blog. Below is a quote from his response to my final post.

The time I have spent responding to you is time I have NOT spent writing my next post. According to my own internal schedule, I am behind. In fact, I have now missed a day of posting. In that sense, Satan is using you quite nicely, because I have been moved, either through defensiveness or pride…or both…into engaging you even though it is clear that discussion with you has become a circular argument and a dance with no end in sight.

It was not a circular argument. I was pointing out contradictions in his claims, and when his counter arguments contained more contradictions, I pointed those out too. His logic was poor. He accused me of trying to poke holes and tear apart his arguments when that is precisely what the point of debate is. If you make a claim, it must survive rigorous testing or it is just a bad claim.

He then became defensive and emotional. He said that I was attacking him and trying to make him look like a fool. He mistook aggressive debate with aggression against him personally. I said I considered his view a delusion and proceeded to explain why. If my arguments are strong enough to mow down his, it does not necessarily make him a fool. If he felt like a fool, that is an entirely different matter.

He said one cannot help but feel wounded if one loses points. This is not true either. It sounds like low self-esteem. Perhaps he cannot help but feel wounded. But, even if he did, that does not excuse his emotional responses to me. Defensiveness has no place in a debate other than making you look bad. If you ‘lose points,’ then make better arguments to gain more. Do not turn around and say that I am out to get you, when in reality, I am far more interested in the debate itself than in you as a person.

That last claim of his is so baffling to me. I have no qualms about admitting I consider many people to be intellectually inferior. Even so, there is a difference between considering someone intellectually inferior to an extent that simply makes them average in regards to the general population, and then there is thinking someone a downright idiot. Really, if I think you an idiot, you are beneath me. It is not worthwhile for me to acknowledge your existence. I certainly would never post on your blog.

Furthermore, if my intent had been to offend, it would be reasonable to assume given my directness, that I would leave as little to interpretation as possible. I would use my eloquence to annihilate your character, your humanity, and all that you stand for. But, such an act would demand a great deal of emotional investment from me. For someone who is usually by considered by others logical to the point of robotic, such an investment seems . . . not worth the trouble and uncharacteristic at best.

If I may make an analogy, if this site is my dinner-table discussion with folks, you have started to veer into the realm of the guest who in an effort to show just how smart he or she is just forgets when to be quiet and let people talk about something different. That may not be your intention, but it sure seems like it at this point.

My dinner-table discussions must be very different from his. Heaven forbid I say enough to make me sound smart. If I see a multitude of holes in an argument, I must point out only one just to show that I am paying attention. I must not say any more or others will start to feel inferior and defensive. I must be quiet so that others get a chance to contribute and therefore feel we are all intellectual equals.

If they proceed to counter with an argument that has holes, I cannot say more because it its not my turn yet. When my turn comes again, I cannot propose a counter an argument against what anyone said whilst I sat quietly in waiting or it would be proclaimed a circular argument. Worse, if that counter argument is strong, I will unfortunately show just how smart I am. It may not be my intention, but I will make a nuisance of myself!

At any rate, Deacon Blue claims in his last response to me that I am welcome to post on his blog as along as I follow the rules from his particular version of dinner-table discussion–rules which by the way, he states only now and were supposed to be obvious before. I do not know what would possess him to say that. Political correctness? I stated several times that I enjoy debate and even went on to describe what type. It is entirely incompatible with his penchant for commentary only. My approach is disruptive to him. Satan is ‘using me quite nicely’ to prevent him from making new blog entries because he continues to respond to my comments ‘either through defensiveness or pride . . . or both.”

The above, are poor reasons to debate. Avoid ulcers by doing so because you like it. The main problems with Deacon Blue is that he is prone to overreacting, making arguments that contradict, and lacks specificity. At one point, he refers to our exchange as a never ending dance. If this were so, there would be no need for defensiveness and overreacting. Those responses make sense if you see yourself in a quarrel or at war, things which he keeps denying all the while acting in ways that undermine his objections.

He ends with the following:

*sigh* Now I probably look like someone who doesn’t want to hear any other opinions. And maybe I have overreacted. But I’m tired of hashing out a dead topic.

Actually, he does sound like he wants to hear other opinions–the latter being the operative word. Opinions do not have to be supported. Arguments on the other hand, demand it. It may not make you sound very open minded, but that is a price to pay for your desires. When you make any type of stand, you must be prepared to deal with the consequences. If you cannot handle people picking apart your statements, do not claim to be open minded to all types of discussions. He should make this clear, because evidently his blog is new and when more Atheists stumble upon it, what happened between us will occur once again.

To avoid it, he should make a note on his About Page that opinions are preferred over arguments. Of course, not only will he not be respected by most Atheists who read it, but also written off as another Christian that lives in a bubble. If he wants to appeal to Atheists, he will need to grow thicker skin and welcome rigorous arguments or else eliminate Atheists from his list of target audiences. This is no doubt a difficult decision to make for someone who sees himself as fighting a war against Satan.

As for my own blog, I will not say that I welcome all types of persons to comment. I definitely do not. I am not receptive to bullshit.

You need not be a genius. Your logic need not be equal or superior to mine. But, if you cling to bad arguments just because and fail to acknowledge a superior argument out of pride, this is not the place for you. If you are prone to overreacting and allow your responses to be influenced by that, this is not the place for you. If I attack your arguments aggressively, it does not mean I am attacking you as a person or that I am out to get you. If you have a genuine desire to learn and value self-improvement, I encourage you to post even if you do not consider yourself an accomplished debater.

I admire the desire to improve. Compared to what I am capable of, my skills are rusty. I have not had the opportunity to debate in a long while. In fact, the main purpose of this blog is to use it to improve. I have had the fortune of debating others in the past whose logic was equal or superior to my own, and those experiences were amongst the most rewarding I have had in my life.

Debate is a form of mental intimacy. My most intense friendships and romantic relationships were born through debate. Generally speaking, this is easy for INTPs, other Rationals, or Thinkers of other types to comprehend, and yet ever so bewildering for the rest. The human mind can be absolutely fascinating.

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7 responses to “Debate and Commentary, Perceptions and Misconceptions

  1. I’m not going to clutter up your comments by pointing out all the ways you were being petty, albeit in a lofty and intellectual manner that probably made you look quite superior to me. But maybe I wouldn’t have take such offense if you had stopped pointing out my logical holes long AFTER I admitted I approached the blog post from a bad perspective and admitted that everyone who posted there had proved their point that I had made an interesting but erroneous set of observations. There, I’m done.

  2. You are being misleading by implying I kept commenting on the original post. You never said you ‘approached the blog from a bad perspective.’ You conceded some points and then went on to say ‘but . . . [insert counter argument]’ and I kept responding to your counter arguments. If the additional information and explanations you kept adding did not contain holes, there would have been no need to respond. It is as simple as that. It is no fault of mine that your poor arguments led your to becoming defensive and essentially perceiving personal grievances. You projected your frustrations unto me and assumed I was out to get you.

    Now, I’ve had precious little sleep and a lot of pressure these past few days, so maybe I WAS a jerk and maybe I’m being an ass. If so, please someone let me know. Someone other than Satoruvash, though, since it’s clear he and I are mixing about as well as water and magnesium right about now…

    Someone other than Satoruvash . . . water and magnesium . . . LOL. Now that is just genuinely very funny. Very quotable.

    I dutifully refrain from making any assessments.

  3. Oh, awesome. I just spent the last hour and a half reading the debate at Deacon’s blog and following it here. I’m tired like I had run a marathon, but it feels very good.

    About the subject itself though, I think I have nothing else to add that is new or interesting. So I’m just going to say thanks for the ride. Maybe one day I’ll be able to directly participate in it, as much as I’m afraid to do so.

  4. Oh, awesome.

    Agreed. Before it went to hell, I was actually enjoying myself. This should come as no surprise to anyone, considering that I have stated numerous times my main reason for being there was debate. In that sense, I got exactly what I wanted. 🙂

    I’m tired like I had run a marathon, but it feels very good.

    Religion is often treated as if it should be respected more than any other ideas, untouched, and exempt from scrutiny. This should not be so. It should be scrutinized just like anything else.

    I have made long posts on your blog, and in them was equally if not more direct. The major topic with you was Psychology and not Religion. I got far more personal on your blog than I ever did on Deacon’s and yet you saw my extended analysis and long posts as a compliment. At no time, did you actually think I was out to get you. Given this, it is entirely understandable that you enjoyed reading the debate on Deacon Blue’s blog.

    On another note, it appears that he has posted even more comments about the situation on his blog. The main purpose is to ask readers who they believe is at fault. The word ‘fault’ implies emotion. This only proves even more how much we differ. He views this as an emotional issue. There was never any substantive emotion for me. It was all about the arguments—precisely why you do not see me asking my readers to make emotional value judgments. The arguments speak for themselves. If you like debate, the exchange is a reward in itself, just as you demonstrate with your comment.

    By the way, Nessa, welcome back. I read one of your latest posts detailing everyone in your blogroll. It is always interesting to see how others view one’s personality and character. It was quite amusing. “[Satoruvash] is a complex person, unusual… probably the weirdest human I’ve had the chance to talk to, EVER.” Blasphemy! When did I start being human? This unit has not changed.

  5. satoruvash, the comment chain we had going over at asl001’s spot is something I’d love to continue more fully; interested in posting a general outline of your views to which you and I can comment?

  6. poppies wrote:
    satoruvash, the comment chain we had going over at asl001’s spot is something I’d love to continue more fully; interested in posting a general outline of your views to which you and I can comment?

    The comments made on asl001’s blog, can be viewed here.

    To be clear, what specifically would you like me to expound on? The discussion began with how to derive purpose in life, then branched into how to be moral without a God(s), and finished with moral relativism. It is important to note that both Theists and Atheists can believe in moral relativism. In fact, it is a popularly held belief especially in North America. I however, am an Atheist that believes in objective morality.

    As for your proposition, I am willing–pending a response. You may need to give me a few days’ time to produce an entry. The weekend is a busy time.

    With regards to commenting on my blog, as I said in this particular entry, I welcome thought out responses and have no aversion to lengthy replies.

  7. Sorry, I should have been more clear. I’m particularly interested in discussing the possibility of moral objectivity within an atheist framework. I’m currently of the opinion that it’s quite impossible, and that an atheist worldview allows only for subjective morality typically dominated by powerful or aggressive individuals, but I’m open to the idea that I’m wrong.

    I understand that you’re busy, I totally relate. I’ll be more than patient waiting for the post, I’ll check for it when I can.

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