Sorry, Vox, I’m not buying it.

Apparently, this blog has once again come to Vox’s attention, prompting a new and different pose.

I had planned to deal with this guy’s chapter-by-chapter approach once Kelly got through with hers. But, since he’s repeatedly demonstrated a near complete inability to make a coherent rebuttal to anything I’ve written, it’s somewhat of a relief to know that I don’t have to bother

[S]ince the clueless wonder declares that I’m incapable of reasonable discourse, there’s obviously no reason to bother with him anymore.

So we’re supposed to believe that Vox Day, self-described “award-winning cruelty artist,” a man who routinely describes the atheist as “an individual who asserts there is no God because he is a socially autistic asshole,” a man who has been trying to spread the idea that Obama is a “vote rapist” just because he was a black man competing against a white woman—we’re supposed to believe that this Vox Day is really a delicate, sensitive soul who’s going to run crying home to mama just because I used the word “fart” in the same sentence as his pseudonym? I don’t think so.

Let’s take Vox’s claims one by one. He claims that I “didn’t grasp the nature of the proposed subject matter,” yet somehow he fails to come up with anything specific that I allegedly got wrong. I did quote his exact invitation to PZ, including the bit where he said, “It is my contention that there is not only substantial evidence for the existence of gods, but that the logic for the existence of gods is superior to the logic for the nonexistence of them.” Perhaps he’s trying to make a big deal out of the fact that he said “gods” plural instead of saying “God” singular? If he truly thinks the evidence for polytheism is stronger than the evidence for Christianity, then hats off to him, but somehow I rather doubt he meant to make that distinction in his so-called “debate.”

Next, he assails the idea that a written debate would be a “reasonable substitute” for an oral debate.

[He] actually thinks that PZ’s “counter-proposal” to post an argument on my blog is somehow a reasonable substitute for a form of discourse that would force PZ to put his reputation, such as it is, on the line.

Granted, if Vox’s goal was to lure PZ into a commitment that would give Vox an hour to take pot-shots at him and to demonstrate the bob-and-weave that honest debaters find so frustrating, the alternative of a written debate would seem less than satisfactory. If the goal, however, is to acquaint the audience with the evidence for and against a given proposition, then a written debate is by far the superior alternative, since it imposes no artificial constraints based on time and is less subject to irrelevancies like personal charisma and presentation skills. By all accounts, Hitler was a highly skilled and influential speaker, but that does not mean the things he said were true. If Vox really has the “stronger arguments” he claimed, he ought to prefer the written exchange. But a written debate would only put Vox’s reputation on the line, with no clear benefit to Vox. Small wonder that he demurs.

Oh, and just for the record, while I did comment on Vox’s predilection for making a stink, I did not claim that he is incapable of reasonable discourse. I’m simply pointing out that he habitually chooses not to do so. His current refusal to offer reasonable discourse on the evidence for God (or gods) is just one more example.

Vox somewhat sarcastically implies that he’s well aware he could have posted these so-called “strong arguments” on his own blog. “Gee, I can post to my own blog? Really? Brilliant! I’d never thought of that!” Um, ok, point taken, he does know that he has that option. Why isn’t he using it then? This is a Vox debate in action: sarcasm in the place of substance. Why would PZ (or anyone) want to sit around for an hour listening to Vox sneer instead of addressing the issues?

I suspect Vox may be one of those people who confesses their own sins by projecting them on others. Consider what he would do if he were in PZ’s place, facing a strong argument:

I’m not about to permit him to play hide-and-snipe, where he only speaks up if he thinks he’s got something and feigns lofty ignorance when he doesn’t. Unsurprisingly, ER doesn’t understand the way in which PZ’s “counter-proposal”, if one can actually call it that, was designed to allow PZ to hide from being intellectually exposed.

Hmm, I wonder if Vox’s projected motivations for PZ have anything to do with the “hide-and-snipe” approach he’s been taking to TIA Tuesday? A written debate, publicly accessible on the Internet, is a great way to expose any intellectual chicanery, since it gives both sides the ability to check the credentials on the claims offered by the other. So Vox’s objection is completely spurious here. But at least this exercise in motivational projection seems to have brought him to the place where he understands, from first-hand experience, why fear might not be the only reason someone like PZ might turn down a debate.

[P]eople have made fools of themselves by making baseless assumptions about my refusal to perform like a trained seal on their schedule.

Right. So when PZ turns down Vox’s bait, it’s because he’s “afraid” and “running away,” but when Vox refuses to reveal his so-called “strong evidence,” he’s merely refusing to perform like a trained seal on “their” schedule. Only guess what? Nobody is trying to pin Vox down to any kind of schedule, or asking him to perform like a trained seal. All I’m doing is pointing out that Vox has had many opportunities, and still has many opportunities, to enlighten friend and foe alike as to the nature of his “strong arguments” for God/gods, on his own schedule. And yet as each situation arises where those arguments would do him the most good, he somehow manages not to use them. Given so many repeated and inexplicable no-shows, one has to wonder whether his hand really holds as many aces as he claims.

Vox’s spin on this whole debacle is that PZ “ran away,” but the fact of the matter is that PZ had nothing to run away from. It was Vox who initiated this exchange by claiming to have strong arguments for God; PZ has been saying that he only refutes weak apologetics because no one is offering any strong ones. By using my post (my post?) as an excuse not to reveal the arguments which would prove PZ wrong, Vox is leaving things as they originally were: PZ can still truthfully claim that he only refutes the weak arguments because nobody has presented any strong ones. Thus, this whole exchange has only served to demonstrate the truth of PZ’s original claim.

Nice going, Vox.

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Posted in Unapologetics. 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “Sorry, Vox, I’m not buying it.”

  1. VorJack Says:

    What is this drive for verbal debates that we see on the apologist side? Anybody with a moments experience in formal debate know that the winner is determined by style and sophistry rather than substance. Or did I just answer my own question?

    Throughout history, the written form has been the way to develop and convey important ideas. A book or an article give you the chance to refine your idea before publication, to examine the implications and anticipate arguments. It give you the time and space to explore your idea. And the internet gives you the ability to do all of this, publish it almost free, then go back and make modifications or engage in discussion with your audience. The great thinkers of the past centuries would have killed for a blog. Can you image what history would be like if, for example, Galileo could have written and published without having to suck up to the Medici family for patronage? And yet, so many apologists and anti-evolutionists clamber for formal debates in which to present their ideas. It boggles the mind.

  2. jim Says:

    I had a little dialogue with Vox a few months back, and can’t imagine trying to debate him in a standard debater’s venue, simply because it would take an hour to untangle ONE of his convoluted premises…and he fires them off like a Gatling gun! He seems to consider himself an historian of sorts, and yet he can straightfacedly ask a rhetorical question like “how do you know Thomas Jefferson existed?”, equating the historical evidence with that for the existence and life of Jesus Christ. A remarkable lack of understanding concerning real historical investigation, not to mention his failure to grasp the hierarchical approach to different kinds of evidence. He’s great at burying somebody under mountains of debatable minutia, but seems almost autistic in his ability to reasonably synthesize information.
    So I don’t imagine we’ll be seeing much in the way of ‘proofs’ for God from him; he doesn’t seem to have that sort of aptitude.

    On the plus side, it seems his sense of self-esteem is thoroughly and unshakeably intact.

  3. valdemar Says:

    You’ve done an excellent job revealing that VD’s grasp of science, history and rational discourse is mediocre at best. That he’s now pretending to have a stinging argument for the existence of god suggests that he’s a pathetic attention-seeker of a rather obvious sort. Maybe he also knows where the Holy Grail is, along with Atlantis and Ben Stein’s career?

    VD claims:

    1. Religious faith is a jolly good thing and without it our civilisation is doomed.
    2. Atheism is a jolly bad thing and should it prevail, the whole doom thing will indeed happen.
    3. The New Atheists are getting a lot of attention and the culture wars may well be going their way.
    4. A decisive, new and irrefutable argument for the existence of god might settle their hash.
    5. VD has devised such an argument – one that nobody has ever thought of before. Wow!
    6. But he’s not going to tell anybody what it is. Because he just won’t. So there.

    Brilliant. With friends like VD, does god need Richard Dawkins to test the faithful?

  4. merkur Says:

    If he truly thinks the evidence for polytheism is stronger than the evidence for Christianity

    It’s better than that – he believes that Christianity is a polytheistic religion (you’ll have to find it on his blog for details, I lack the stamina). He doesn’t seem to have realised that, if sincerely held, this belief means that he isn’t actually Christian. None of his camp followers seem to have noticed this, however.

  5. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Sounds like he has resolved the paradox of the Trinity then. ;)

  6. Galloway Says:

    Mercur says ” He doesn’t seem to have realised that, if sincerely held, this belief means that he isn’t actually Christian. ”

    In chapter 15 of his book, VD seems to say that the god that he worships is NOT omniscient, which, if true, puts him in direct conflict with mainstream Christianity. Is he starting his own Christian sect?

  7. merkur Says:

    I think it’s fair to say that Vox Day is by nature a contrarian in both his political and religious views. It is questionable whether he is in fact a Christian or libertarian at all – he apparently holds those positions in order to make himself feel superior to the “mainstream”, but even within those groups he insists on taking positions that do not fit with an orthodox reading.

    He’s basically trying to have his cake and eat it – needless to say, his readers are not intelligent enough to notice this.