Monday, August 3, 2009

How not to approach a blogger

I was really hesitant to mention this more than a single tweet, but Pharyngula picked up the story, so now I feel oddly obligated to comment.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post in reply to Pastor Tom over at Hard Truth who seemed to think atheists were taking over the internet. My reply got fairly popular at reddit (athiesm + internet humor + being female = reddit success, apparently). Unfortunately, this resulted in a hoard of atheists visiting his posts to leave comments with varying levels of trollishness, which pretty much solidified his beliefs that atheists were indeed taking over the internet (good job, guys). He wasn't happy with this, including with me:
"A blogger on also felt bashing me was worth her time yesterday. (I didn't see her name on there) While she wasn't nearly as hateful as the first blog I mention, she still did her best to minimize me for my beliefs."
Really, I was bashing him? Minimizing him for his beliefs? I invite you to go read my original post and look over what I said. Probably the worst thing I said is that his post was "both silly and intriguing," and then proceeded to disagree with him. Of course, if I've learned anything from talking to conservative religious people, it's that disagreeing with their beliefs is probably the most offensive thing you can do.

Then he picked up the comic I drew about PZ and Ken Ham's epic battle in the Creation Museum. I'm a little peeved that he posted the whole thing without my permission, but at least he linked back to my blog. His post was so bad that I didn't even want to bother replying to it - literally every single sentence had something worth arguing with, and it wasn't worth my time. I'm really not interesting in debating people who are obviously so set in their beliefs. But the very last paragraph really got to me (emphasis mine):
"And just so everyone knows, I will be [at the Creation Museum] when the thundering herd shows up, and I plan on talking to them and interacting with them as much as they will allow, and if they lie on their blogs, I'll be right here to point it out. So PZ, I can't wait to see you, Jennifer, and the rest of your loyal subjects, and that's the HardTruth."
To be honest, this scared me. No, not the cheesy ending of "that's the Hard Truth" after every one of his posts. Generally when random uber-conservative evangelical internet strangers say they're going to find you and meet you, that causes a healthy paranoia in a person, especially a 21 year old female. Especially when said female was just angsting about how her overprotective father didn't want her to get hurt by religious crazies during her trip. I didn't want to blog about my fear, since it seemed like he read my blog, but I did tweet it:
"First theist just called me out and said he's going to personally meet me at the Creation Museum. A little freaked out."
And...then he found my twitter account and commented:
"@jennifurret C'mon Jennifer, no need to be freaked out. I just want to say hello."
Yeah, sorry, that kind of freaked me out more. I mean, it's not like he stalked me - my twitter feed is clearly placed on my main page. But the way I read "I just want to say hello" in my head was really not helping to assuage my fears. I told myself to think positively about this. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt: normal, kind person until proven scary.

Me: I'm going to tell myself he's just a nice preacher man with a family
Mark: So a rapist and a pedophile?*
Me: gaaaaaaaahhhh shut up shut up
Mark: I'll be around, don't worry.
e: Great, my protection consists of a Jew, a gay, and a girl gamer. That sounds like a bad joke.

I really don't think Pastor Tom is a bad guy - I know he reads my blog, so I don't want him to take this post the wrong way - but I think you can understand my nerves. I'm a new blogger, and I'm always a bit paranoid about how what I say here can affect my every day life. And I'm not going to the Creation Museum for a big debate. I don't want to roam the exhibits trying to refute everything and annoy the other patrons. I just want to have some chuckles with my fellow nonbelievers and get my photo taken riding a Triceratops. I am a bit proud that I was singled out in the same sentence as PZ - what an honor! That gained some applause from my club members yesterday, and according to a Pharyngula commenter I have now elevated to the status of Unholy Woman. Woo!

I'm still excited for the trip this Friday, but I think I'm going to be moving myself to the center of the herd.

*I really shouldn't have to put this disclaimer here, but since this will probably be read by religious, my friend Mark and I do not think all religious people are rapists and pedophiles. He was making a joke just to freak me out more.


  1. Hey Jen,

    Apparently u didn't see my comment under ur last post before u posted this one. I'll copy & paste.

    **I saw ur comment on PZ's site, and I just wanted to assure u, there is no need for paranoia when it comes to my husband. He truly does enjoy blogging with u as well as other civil atheists. Since we live so close to the museum, he just saw it as an opportunity to put faces to names. That's all.
    I get tired of comments accusing him of being dishonest why he gets on these atheist sites. He really just likes getting to know a person's logic and challenging their thought process...just like many sincere atheists try to do on his site.

    P.S. I don't think u'll need to worry about any scary dark figures lurking around the corner waiting for u at the museum. LOL**

    Well, I definately would understand u questioning any stanger's motives for wanting to meet u, but Tom does have a good bit of family photos up on his site for u to check out and hopefully give u more peace of mind. Despite the fact that u both widely disagree, he is as normal as they come, and through ur short conversations he thought the same about u and some other atheists. He never would give anyone a legitimate reason to be paranoid.

    And I guarantee as long as everyone in your group is civil, u should have a good time at the museum and no one will bother u. People keep to themselves just as at any other public place.

  2. If popular music has taught me anything, it's the son of the preacher man that you've gotta worry about.

    I look forward whole-heartedly to this trip.

  3. Kristen, I read your comment - I had just typed this up before I saw the email.

    I really do think Tom is probably a nice guy. I don't want him to take this personally - I would be a little creeped out by anyone who said they were going to meet me, especially someone who so fervently disagrees with issues so important to me. I've had to become a slightly paranoid person. As an atheist student, I've received many verbal threats from theists and have experienced situations where I felt physically in danger. So if my reaction was a bit much, that's why.

    I'm a strong believer that religious belief - or lack thereof - does not necessarily make someone a good or bad person. I know plenty of friendly theists and atheists. I'm honestly not as worried now; I just don't want to have any big debates. A "hello" is fine, but like you said, we just want to be civil.

  4. Well I'm glad u don't seem as worried now. I'm 25, we have a 2 1/2 girl, 1 1/2 girl, and another girl on the way. Just so u know a little about us. But I think to Tom the idea of knowing a person he regularly debates/discusses things with online is something he would always take the opportunity to do if offered. Being a young woman u should obviously be more careful, but u'll be in a large crowd i'm sure & very public so no need to worry in this venue. Tom would never chase someone down to threaten them like maybe some irrational idiots may do. But I'm sure if friendly discussion were able to occur, it would make the online discussion more interesting.

  5. The erosion of good grammar and spelling is a troubling thing.

    Sets my teeth on edge.

  6. Hey Jen you can add me as protection, I am 6'6" that is usually enough intimidation for most people. :)

  7. I knew someone would bring this up, so - be nice, UWC.

    BeamStalk, I will accept your giant superpowers!

  8. I will endeavour to resist temptation.

  9. There you go, Jen, your very own circus freak for protection (tongue firmly in cheek, mate!). You guys shoulda gotten shirts done up. "Atheist Internet Gestapo" or something similar. Would go well with the new boots from the other thread.

    Damn, I wish I was going.

  10. UWC, if u were referring to my post, what's wrong with using abbreviations/shortcuts etc. It's a comment on a blog for goodness sakes, not an article for the Washington Post. If a person were to make a comment that u were not even able to understand due to so many mispells & improper usage of words like there, their, they're, even that would bother me, but no need to act high & mighty over a single mispell or shortcuts like used in texting.

  11. I'm not convinced that Tom's nearly as open to understanding as his frequent protestations try to convince us he is. He seems rather convinced he has "The Hard Truth."

    I'm pretty confident that his interest in "learning how atheists think" has one of two motivations, which have nothing to do with discovering truth: (1) he wants to convert atheists, (2) he wants to understand atheists' arguments so that he can innoculate his flock to them.

    That's it. Actually engaging in a debate that has the merest possibility of his changing his mind in light of reasons is simply not on the table. He's too committed to his profession and his religion to ever seriously conduct an openminded, open-ended inquiry.

    And that's why every time he tries to assert his arbitrary "Hard Truths" he is treated with contempt by Pharyngula's atheists. The problem is less with what he thinks but his decision in advance NOT to think. In other words, his faith. Or, to use, a more honest word, his prejudice.

  12. Wild Cat, it's the internet, mistakes in grammar and spelling are the trade-off in return for habits of constant interactive reading and writing and open-access public debates between people all around the world in real time.

    It's not a bad trade-off if you ask me (as long as the errors reflect the speed and passion of internet debate and not a general lack of intelligence.)

  13. No worries Veritas.

    What good are giant superpowers if you can't use them?

  14. Jen, you have got to be one of the biggest hypocrites I've ever met. You come on my blog, and make very civil, kind comments, and even say you'd be happy to say hello. Then you come one here and act like I'm a freak, who was stalking you.

    I found you on twitter because I was looking at my referrers yesterday and I saw you're site. It showed your twitter widget as the referrer, thus I @ you on twitter. Do you see now?

    Of all the things said about my on Pharyngula, what you said is by far the worst. Bashing me for my beliefs is one thing, acting like I'm stalker/pedophile is altogether different, and something I take very seriously.

    There truly aren't enough words to express my contempt for you.

  15. And that makes it all better...

  16. Wow, apparently you also don't know how to read, or you just have some sort of persecution complex. You know, I started worried about meeting you, went to fine, but now I've really lost all interest. If you want to act like a jerk, don't expect me to be civil in return.

  17. Yes, but Camels, how do you tell the difference?

    Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's not a big deal. Maybe it doesn't matte if people misuse, misspell and mangle words, after all as so many people tell me "YOU know what I meant!". But I like language, and I think it's important for meaning and understanding to survive that it doesn't get diluted to the point of unintelligibility.

  18. But that's just my opinion. You don't have to share it, but I'm free to. XD

  19. You know, Tom, I think Jen did a very good job trying to explain that feeling - and it's understandable. Sorry you don't see it. I like your use of words to express your contempt, though.

  20. Don't get me wrong, UWC, I'm a big grammar fan too and I am also against unnecessary abbreviations (I loathe abbreviations in general).

    My only point is that in internet fora you often read people who you can tell are clearly intelligent from the quality of their thoughts even though occassionally a word is missing or a sentence was clearly edited in such a way that switched the tense or the noun's number and then not every other piece of the sentence was adequately fixed, etc. There are a lot of ways that hurried smart people can get tangled up in words. It happens to me all day, so I'm sensitive on this point :(

  21. Well, Tom certainly seems like a very civil fellow who can keep his emotions in check.

  22. Jen,

    I'll do this one more time, and I'll try to type slow. You said you were freaked out by me, did you not? You said you were going to hide in the middle of the herd, did you not?
    Now, what is it that I'm unable to read?

    It's funny that even after you wrote this article that you thought I'd still want to meet you. My only reasoning initially was because you "seemed" like a normal person. Clearly I was wrong.

    Respond to this if you want. I'm done.

  23. Your wife seems to be more in touch with the concerns of a young women. Maybe you should talk to her.

  24. Silver Fox:

    "if I've learned anything from talking to conservative religious people, it's that disagreeing with their beliefs is probably the most offensive thing you can do."

    I'm a non-conservative religious person but disagreeing with my beliefs is not offensive at all. Atheists are not offensive, just mistaken. They believe in one form of knowledge or epistemology - that which comes from the scientific method applied to the physical world. If you can't form hypotheses, experiment and draw conclusions - then there is no knowledge. Any kind of propositional knowledge or knowledge drawn from internal experiences or subjective epistemic knowledge is what the atheist calls "made up bullshit". That is a denial of a good part of the real world of experience, of course, but it makes sense to them in their limited mindset. They are constantly asking for "scientific proof" of propositional knowledge. The latter is not based on science of the physical world and consequently there is no scientific proof. It's transcendent perceptual knowledge and not knowledge derived from the scientific method. That, for them, amounts to "bullshit".

    The atheists have cut themselves off from at least half the knowledge available to them and they have done so by their own choice. So, they can relate to only half the world

    So, not being able to participate in the wholeness of this world is not offensive to me. It's kind of sad. Trying to get me to go along with their reductionism is not offensive either. It's just sad.

  25. CWH - I sympathise completely, especially considering I missed the 'r' on the end of "matter" in my last post. ;)

    But practice and familiarity with correct language make it easier to pick mistakes. It's far harder to pick errors when they are mixed up with abbreviations, slang and sloppy language.

    Basically, I don't have a huge problem with a mangled sentence in the struggle to articulate a difficult concept, or an incompletely edited change, or even an error because of unfamiliarity with the language (ie not a native speaker). I will even forgive over-abbreviation in text messages, where space is limited. But in general, it just irritates me.

    I must be getting old.

  26. No, there are other kinds of knowledge or, at least, rationally defensible positions which do not come from the scientific method alone. One can develop views about morality, metaphysics, and epistemology itself. You can prove mathematical theories not using the scientific method. You can do messy social science which employs the scientific method as precisely as it can and then tries to reason out various further conceptual issues and work out reasonable conclusions from imperfectly predictable phenomena.

    In short, there are many ways to reason defensibly that do not involve using the scientific method and atheists throughout the academy and throughout the public sphere do it all. the. time.

    The reason atheists do (or at least should) reject religious epistemology is not scientism (the belief that the only knowledge possible is scientific knowledge and that natural science is capable of solving every rational question). The problem is that "theological" claims, insofar as they make appeal to arbitrary claims of religious texts, prophets, and traditions, do not provide adequate, publicly accessible and assessable reasons.

    Your beliefs in the sacrificial system, or the Holy Spirit, or the resurrection or that God tells you things, etc. are all either contrary to what we know of how the world does work or pure fantasies with no supporting reasons.

    There is NO reason to believe that the principle of all being forgave people their sins as long as they would slaughter their animals and pour the blood out and let the priests eat them. You don't have reasons, defensible evidence scientific OR OTHERWISE to believe that. Your choice to believe it is therefore arbitrary and rationally indefensible.

    You do not have good enough reason to suppose you know any mysteries of anything inexplicable within the terms of the natural world (again be these scientific explanations or other kinds). THAT'S why you're not justified in religious beliefs, because they are not corroborable even in principle by reason but must, by the religious' own admission, be accepted by a subjective choice to believe, by a faith.

    Atheists are not closed mindedly rejecting a source of knowledge, we are rejecting that fantastic claims about supernatural realms are not sources of knowledge because they do not admit of any sort of evidence or other rational justification, scientific OR otherwise.

  27. No, I think we're basically simpatico, UWC. I'm just very sensitized to all those understandable blogging errors because I've made so many of them this last month and a half (which I've spent blogging my head off).

    And just last night I got all fired up with anti-grammar backlash when I read this great article that understood my pain and told me that I wasn't the one with the problem, the grammar nazis were! :)

  28. Jen, It occurred to me when I saw your cartoon posted in its entirity on Tom's blog that this constitutes a copyright violation. If he had used only one or perhaps even two panels, it might have fallen under "fair use" guidelines. But posting the whole thing without your permission is a copyright no-no. Something you might consider bringing up with him, if you're so inclined....

  29. I hope she is inclined, because then I'll bring up defamation of character.

  30. Somehow, I doubt lawsuits will be involved here. There's no point in anyone being a dick about this, I'd say. 'course, who am I?

  31. CWH:

    "The problem is that "theological" claims, insofar as they make appeal to arbitrary claims of religious texts, prophets, and traditions, do not provide adequate, publicly accessible and assessable reasons."

    Of course, subjective epistemic knowledge is not publicly assessable. It is knowledge to the knower and does not allow for second party confirmation. But for the knower who is enlightened by faith, it is an ontological reality. However, the problem involves the atheist seeing this as stuff of subjective belief that is "publicly" confirmable. So, the atheist is left to conclude that this kind of knowledge is delusional

    My position is that there can be no accommodation with atheist for there is no space for philosophical commonality. The believer knows this is not delusional because he knows there is a perceptual "gap" which is not explainable by physicalism or naturalism. The believer knows this and therein lies the basis for subjective epistemic knowledge. The atheist, absent the condition for this knowledge, is left to explain this kind of knowledge in terms of a function of the mind, with the mind being a property of the brain. So, for the atheist there is no "gap". It just happens as an outcome of evolutionary development. For the atheist this epistemic knowledge, if explainable at all, is seen as a phenomenon of the evolved brain attempting to meet emerging adaptational challenges over time. Lacking faith, which he concludes is delusional, he is left only with evolutionary biology. He can speak about the "exploding" size of the human brain in the last couple of hundred thousand years but he has no conclusive explanation for the "gap". For the believer there is no problem with the "gap". It is part of the dualism of human nature.

  32. Hmmm, looks like Tom had a nice dish of red herring for dinner tonight. Would love to see him point to anywhere Jen 'defamed' him. (Give "defamation" and "libel" a little google, Tom, and then try again.)

    Copyright infringement trumps hurt feelings any day. And Veritas, you're right, no need for lawsuits--point being, as a law-abiding man of honor, Tom would take down the copyrighted work or at the least seek permission from the creator to post it. ;-)

  33. Silver Fox:

    I have no idea what "gap" you refer to, what "duality" in human nature you refer to, or what "subjective knowledge" even is supposed to mean in this context.

    You can't posit "ontological realities" on your gut intuitions interpreted through the fantastic stories and wild speculations of barbaric peoples which do not stand up to conceptual and evidential appeals.

    Your commitment to belief in cosmic salvation plans or God's will guiding you either can be explicable and defensible in terms of common reason or you are indeed not entitled to those beliefs.

    Subjective knowledge---at least of the sort you describe is no knowledge at all, it's not an epistemology but a permission of anarchy in epistemology.

    But, fortunately, you at least are trying to acknowledge the need to give reasons for your ontology and epistemology by trying to argue that your account in some way more fully captures our experience or our nature in a way that proves it as knowledge conducive. Unfortunately you use the words "gap" and "duality of human nature", etc. so vaguely as not to make any real argument to me but in principle you are TRYING to argue within REASONS, publicly available to my reason to consider. You're more than welcome to try to convince me on such terms that you have a more compelling ontological account of experience.

    But insofar as you defend epistemological relativism where you "just see" with your impeachable "subjective knowledge" that requires no rational appeals to others for justification, you're justifying irrationalism pure and simple.

    So either bring with the reasons for the superior explanatory and descriptive power of your ontological and epistemological account or stop talking since by talking and reasoning you give pretense that you actually think reasons matter and you can give them. If ultimately you have contempt for the demands of reason and can believe whatever you decide you want to and call it "subjective knowledge" without so much as an offering of a fuller ontology and a more sensitive, objectively defensible and justifiable epistemology, then all pretenses to actually discuss with me are in bad faith.

  34. In addition, to Silver Fox:

    I find myself taking some offense at the definition you set forth that those who identify as atheists are missing a "space for philosophical commonality". This is an attempt to define those of us who identify as atheist, or humanist, or what-have-you as "other", as missing something, whereas suggesting that theists have a unique quality that makes them in some way superior.

    I am perfectly capable of understanding philosophy and partaking in religious experience. It's a feeling I've had during my life, that wonderful feeling of belonging to this brilliantly communal shared feeling of spirituality. I just know enough to understand that it is false. I can take the "leap of faith"; I have chosen not to.

    Defining atheists as having a lesser capacity for anything is both incorrect and arrogant. I do not like being told I am incapable of understanding certain things; I believe if I truly wanted to, I could belong to a religious community and participate in a manner similar to yourself. I do not want to belong to that - I would rather see the cold hard truth before me than close my eyes and be swept off by promises that can never be shown as valid. That's snake oil, to me.

    The difference is that I can accept that you have a right to engage in that behaviour and believe it is true. I disagree, but I would never define our disagreement as stemming from an inability to understand reason - simply two mindsets that happen to stand off from each other.

  35. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  36. Didn't think I was gonna comment on this (either via Twitter or my blog), but ...

    Tom Estes, if you read what Jen writes/wrote and somehow translate it into defamation, or especially calling you a pedophile (which was a totally unrelated joke, as she clearly pointed out) as you mentioned above, then you have a serious mental disorder and lack of basic reading comprehension. And I'm not even kidding.

    All she's said is she feels a bit freaked-out at being singled-out, as anyone else would unless they're relatively use to exposure. Which she isn't. Quite frankly, give her a damn break.

    And then you come up with "defamation of character" – are you serious? Not to mention that you have, indeed, violated copyright law in posting her works in full on your blog. Your feelings towards her are irrelevent: what you did is simply illegal. Is that clear enough?

    You clearly have a huge problem and are currently making yourself out to be tenfold the hypocrite you accuse Jen of being (which, for the record, is a false claim at any rate. I've read her posts, here and on your blog, and there is simply nothing hypocritical about what she wrote).

    "And that's the HardTruth."

  37. Heh, let me try this one more time lol [the last time, I got my grammar and spelling all wrong, so I asked Jen to delete it, because I couldn't find a way to edit it]

    I think you have every right to be just a bit freaked out, whenever you are singled out like that in a turn of phrase it can send a chill down your spine regardless of the intentions of the other person. Even if they do mean well, its a unknown stranger who is saying that they want to interact with you in a real manner.

    That kind of thing can really throw a person off balance. That said, There's no need for anyone to get their feelings hurt over the matter, I think its clear to everyone that Jen is trying to be as silly as she can with the whole matter and means no harm to anyone. She can be a little brash with her views on religion, but I think she remained quite calm with regards to the blogpost, and even more so its a big subject and its a little more emotional than say "what is your favorite cake flavor".

    Anyway I hope you guys can sort this all out :D No need to be getting angry! :D

  38. Silver Fox:

    "I have no idea what "gap" you refer to, what "duality" in human nature you refer to"

    Sorry about that but these are pretty familiar terms. Dualism, I would suppose goes back to the early dialogues of Socrates. You see it clearly in a dialogue like the Euthyphro where Socrates is exploring the idea of Holiness. This explication is an early precursor to Plato's Theory of Forms. He holds that man is composed of two elements: one material and the other immaterial. Like all material things, the material component will decompose while the immaterial - not subject to material decay will live on in a better state once it is freed from what he calls the "prison of the soul" - the body. Later, Descartes was a dualist. Contemporary physicalists reject the notion of dualism as proposed by Descartes, that is, the separation of the physical and mental properties. They would hold that one is subsumed by the other or one supervenes on the other. So, they are either monist or some form thereof.

    If you look at someone like Chalmers, he would hold that, in a theory of consciousness, something foundational to ontology needs to be added since everything in physical theory is compatible with the absence of consciousness. This is what is referred to in the literature as the "explanatory gap".

    This is a major problem in discussions with atheists. They hold a position that is rooted in naturalism or materialism exclusively and cannot discuss phenomenal mental states, processes or events except within the parameters of those ideologies when, as Chalmers would note, something needs to be added. In other words they just don't seem to have an adequate philosophical vocabulary to discuss their own commitments outside of a rather narrow mindset.

    At any rate, that's "dualism" and "gap".

  39. Note that Pastor Tom has removed a couple of frames of Jen's cartoon, with a link back which reads "To see the rest of this cartoon, visit the Blaghag." Of course, he's still using 60% of the 5 frame comic, which may or may not fall within "fair use" guidelines. Nonetheless...


  40. Thanks for the update, random Anonymous commenter.

  41. Silver Fox,
    What evidence does Chalmers present for this missing something? Why does he hold that consciousness cannot be an epiphenomenon of the brain? Why, when we observe changes in brain chemistry/function that correspond to changes in mental state, do we require something extra, invisible and undetectable to explain what already appears to have a natural and physical cause?

  42. UWC:

    Silver Fox:

    "What evidence does Chalmers present for this missing something?"

    You could use the axiom of Occam's Razor. If you have a physicalist model that works well without the need for consciousness, adding in consciousness defeats parsimony and simplicity. However, if you had a perfectly good model and had consciousness as a supervening property, that would explain consciousness as an immaterial phenomenon (not an epiphenomenon of the material brain) that would explain the dualistic construction and preserve the parsimony of the physical theory.

    *Chalmers, D. J.: (1996) The Conscious Mind in Search of a Fundamental Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press

  43. Aren't you lucky, Jen? You've attracted the attention of notorious troll Silver 'When I find myself in times of trouble Ereshkigal comes to me' Fox, a master of inane vacuity, intellectual dishonesty and rank cowardice.

    He's banned from PZ's place and has been laughed out of many others.

    Now that you're here, SF, perhaps you can try and answer the question you've been asked - and which you've fled from in terror, foxy fox on the run - so many times.

    Namely, this: if two people present contradicting, incompatible and/or and mutually exclusive claims with nothing other than this 'other way of knowing' that you present as fact, by what means are people able to determine which is the correct one?

    I don't really expect an answer from you. Why should you start showing character now?

  44. Why should there be a need for consciousness? Consciousness could simply be a side effect of another trait, for example, complexity. After all, what is consciousness? At its simplest, it's an awareness of thinking, or "thinking about thinking". Is there a simpler explanation than "the brain is such a complex thinking engine that it started to think about its own thinking"?

  45. I love it when people like Tom Estes act like they want to tangle in the public forum but prove to be nothing but petulant, litigious auto-martyrs. How sad.

  46. Tom,
    just read what she wrote:
    " I mean, it's not like he stalked me"
    "I really don't think Pastor Tom is a bad guy"
    "I'm a new blogger, and I'm always a bit paranoid about how what I say here can affect my every day life."

    Your wife did seem to get it, though...

  47. That does come off as possibly creepy/scary if you don't personally know the person. I'm a pretty big guy and I wouldve been wary of someone sending that to me.

    Aeast he won't know what you look like so you can hides.

  48. I asked for definitions because words like "duality" and "gap" and "subjective knowledge" while "familiar" are vague unless you put some content into them.

    So, your argument then is one from a dualist metaphysics, which is a philosophical position that you want to enlist Chalmers, who tries to gives actual reasons to support. If atheists interpret the available psychological and physical evidence differently, this is not an "inferiority" on the atheist's part or an inability to grasp "subjective knowledge" that the theist grasps. This is simply a philosophical and metaphysical disagreement. Rational people can disagree on rationally defensible but inconclusively proven accounts.

    And not all atheists are physicalists. Atheism itself requires no such thing. There can be all sorts of intermediary positions between dualism and physicalism. Personally, I'm most sympathetic to Dewey, Nietzsche, and Spinoza on these questions---the mental and the physical are distinguishable aspects of the same exact reality. That's far more parsimonious to me than positing two substances, one mental and one material that have to mysteriously interact and, as was said above, requires the magic coincidence that when the physical brain is manipulated through purely physical means the mysteriously separate mental substance just happens to regularly respond to that physical manipulation.

    But, I'm not a philosopher of mind so I won't commit too hard to my two inseparable modes of the same more fundamental substance account of mental and physical.

    What matters for our discussion is the following: either you have a philosophical defense of dualism or you do not and either believe in it only insofar as you think you have good philosophical and psychological reasons or you commit yourself to believing in it regardless of philosophical justification. Not everyone has to have the same philosophy of mind. It's the leap to believing without appeals to rational evidence.

    And, so, again, if someone finds the metaphysical concept of a perfect being or a ground of all being philosophically defensible, I am more than willing to listen as they give me reasons.

    Where the line gets drawn though and where we atheists stop giving counterreasons (like as to why we think that dualism is false or that accounts of God which involve any reference to explanation of the natural world) is when all of a sudden you start asserting things like "a man rose from the dead" "there is a God who is one substance and three persons" "there is a sacrificial system that the perfect being set up whereby sins were expiated with calf blood and then with god-man blood". The leap from a controversial but intellectually arguable philosophical theory of dualism (which even some atheists could accept) to these sorts of bald fantastical assertions is where faith in that which has no reasons behind it comes in. And the leap also happens whenever you start talking about events which contravene the natural order, which postulate "God's will" or "the power of prayer" when there is no statistical way of proving these means of causation. Causation claims are not like ontological claims of fundamental metaphysical relationship about which philosophers may speculate abstractly. Causal claims require bars of credible evidence and consistency to be worthy of being called "knowledge claims."

    So, in sum, you can be a philosophically legtimate dualist (even if I think it's a bad account) without introducing a relativistic, subjectivistic knowledge or waving away requirements of publicly accessible and assessable reasons. Dualism has long been debated on widely accessible and assessable appeals to internal phenomenology we ALL share. No physicalist is unfamiliar experientially with mental states and how different they appear from observance of the world outside us. Physicalists simply interpret how to theorize about what those things indicate differently. No "subjective knowledge" involved. Just contrary inferences.

  49. Wowbagger,

    I have never ran into Silverfox before, but I was thinking of the same question. SF just made the claim they know they are not delusional, how? If two people hold opposed positions, say like Muslims and Christians or Protestants and Catholics, both claiming this "other source" as their source. Then who is right and how do you know?

  50. Given that SF didn't answer my question, I'm pretty sure I'm going to ignore everything said by the fellow now.

  51. Atheists aren't taking over t'internet. They're taking over the world. Natural progression of modern thinking over outdated and unrequired philosophies. Belief in magic is something for the past.

    S'called evolution.

  52. Jen;

    They say that a compliment from your opponent is the highest form of praise. Bearing this in mind, let me say that Tom Estes and I have had a few disagreements in the past. Some of his ideas seem strange to the ears of people such as you and I. I personally feel that he may have gone to Pharyngula with an agenda other than that which he stated on more than one occasion, though I have no proof of this. From his statements on this blog and Pharyngula, it seems evident that he may have some difficulty with maintaining an even temper while responding to posts he considers critical of himself or his beliefs.

    However, I do not believe for one instant that Mr. Estes is actually dangerous or presents a physical threat to your person on any level. In all his posts I have never seen him make any explicit or implicit threat of physical violence to anyone. For all that the belief system he espouses may have elements of intolerance toward some viewpoints or lifestyles, I think that Mr Estes would never act upon his intellectual and theological opposition to atheism with force.

    Mr Estes is a pastor and as such a public figure within his religion. As a rule of thumb, such people have the pulpit from which to express their world view and so do not tend to act out violently. The threat comes from those who either lack the capacity to express themselves coherently and cogently or feel that they have somehow been denied their rightful opportunity for self expresion. Mr. Estes and I may not see eye to eye on many things, but I do not believe he falls into this category.

    I hope this makes you feel a little better.

  53. Sorry, the post that starts;

    "They say that a compliment from your opponent is the highest form of praise. Bearing this in mind, let me say that Tom Estes and I have had a few disagreements in the past."

    Is from me, Gregory Greenwood of Pharyngula fame (sort of). I had to post under anonymous because I am not subscribed here yet.

    Sorry about that.

  54. Hi, Its Gregory Greenwood again.

    Silver Fox;

    I was reading your post earlier about the concept of intellectual dualism and I wanted to ask you, as other contributors have, why it is that if the consciousness exists seperately from the physicality of the brain it is possible for personality and mental acuity to be altered by brain injury or chemical means? Surely, if the consciousness is seperate from the brain mass, and is by your own terminology 'immaterial', then it should be beyond the reach of physiological trauma or tampering.

    It has also occurred to me that it is wholly parsimonius to suggest that what we call consciousness, that is to say the capacity of self aware sentient beings to perceive and understand the universe around them, might have developed as a consequence of the evolution of ever larger and more complex brains as a survival mechanism.

    As the brains of protohumans grew more complex in order to be better able to manipulate their environment so as to offset the physical superiority of their competitors and predators, at some point a threshold was crossed where the brain became complex enough to not only exploit its environment but to begin to formulate questions about the nature of that environment. Why are things the way they are? What is the nature of my environment? What is my purpose?

    Of course, early humans are unlikely to have conceptualised their curiosity in quite such a modernistic fashion before the advent of language but is it not possible that the spark of a desire to understand might have been as important a cognative evolutionary development as the hand was an important devlopment of dexterity? From this intellectual acorn might not the oak tree of modern intellectual pursuits and understanding have grown by the usual process of natural selection? Afterall, there would still be a selection pressure for larger and more complex brains capable of sustaining more advanced problem solving skills in such an environment, and a greater understanding of the broader universe would go hand in hand with such development.

    If my logic holds, I fail to see the need for a dualist concept of the mind in order to explain sentience.

    The idea of dualism is true in one sense in that the body, while being physical matter, emits electromagnetic radiation. Within this radiation one could posit the existence of some kind of, for want of a better phrase, 'soul field' I suppose. However, no special form or spectra of radiation unique to the human body has yet been discovered to the best of my knowledge and if no such special radiation is to be found then one could just as easily say that the transformer outside my house has a soul, it certainly emits energy on the electro magnetic spectrum.

    If the soul is undetectable, and there is a fully parsimonius explanation for the human consciousness that does not require a seperate immaterial componenet, dualism seems to me to be somewhat redundant.

    I am interested in your thoughts on this. If anyone sees a huge glaring hole in my logic please let me know. It wouldn't be the first time I have made an obvious mistake.

  55. @The Jules regarding atheists taking over the world. Just look at the progression of most popular religions-- initially something on the order of pantheism, replaced by polytheism, replaced by the monotheism that dominates today...

    Look at the pattern, which is progressively pushing 'the divine' into smaller and smaller regions, widespread atheism is the next logical step, and the evidence is that we are heading there.

  56. Hey Jen, Sherry from Pharyngula.
    I have a 20yo daughter and would NOT want her to go to the museum if nut-case Tom were fixated on her the way he is fixated on you.

    As is often the case with nut-case preachers, his wife does seem to be perfectly nice and reasonable. Makes me think she was brought up to be a preacher's wife and simply has not developed critical thinking skills. I find most Christian women are nice and most Christian men are without compassion. In any case, if I had children with that someone who got so angry with a 21yo and put words into her mouth the way he is, I'd take my kids and leave the country.

    That man is TOXIC and scary. Don't go. People will be worried about protecting you and you will be looking over your shoulder. It won't be as interesting or entertaining as it could have been.

    Can you imagine an officer at the Denver Museum of Science and Natural History acting like Tom Estes? Hell-- they'd be taken off the board without any ceremony at all.

    Obviously, whatever form of Christianity Tom Estes has embraced isn't one of those based on kindness and compassion. Remember, according to their Bible, Satan can spout scripture too. Tom Estes is from the DARKSIDE!

  57. I don't know if Sherry's idea is the best one possible. To be honest, I would think that not going to the museum would show a certain fear. Jen, you'll be with 200+ people. Hell, you even have your own giant to deploy as needed. I expect you'll turn out OK - go and have fun. And if this fella turns up and harasses you in any way....well, we've already determined there'll be security there en masse.

  58. Sherry again. I spent 10 years in the military. My husband is in law enforcement. I'm hyper aware of crimes against women and children. I also have a daughter (also atheist) who is about your age. So I'm feeling protective toward you.

    How about you just let T.Estes think you aren't going? That'll make me feel better.
    Then afterward you can write about it.

    Ok -- just go and do what you gotta do. (I'm an Ohio State alum) Just stay safe, ok sweetie? Stick with the 6ft+ atheist men. Practice drop and roll. And if someone is flying a small plane and shooting at you, don't run away from the -- run TOWARD them.

  59. Sherry, I really appreciate your concern. I know my dad would probably be crapping his pants if he read my blog (thankfully he doesn't). But I really do think I'll be okay. I'll be alert and stick with my friends. Hopefully the paranoia will have not been necessary.

    Hmm, and thanks for the plane tip! Did not know that. Though if I made it through Alaska without Sarah shooting at me, I'm not sure when's the next time someone will be shooting at me from a small plane...

  60. Better be careful, she has a lot more free time for hunting nowadays.

  61. Tom Estes proves he's a liar - as well as a thoroughly nasty piece of work generally - right here on this thread. At 6.00PM he ends a post "I'm done". At 9.11PM, he posts again.


  62. I'm going to make one more comment here.

    My issue with Jen is NOT the paranoia. Not the paranoia. Do you understand? Not the paranoia. My wife is 25 years old, and I want her to be careful at all times. So again, NOT THE PARANOIA.

    My issue is her coming to my blog, being very nice, telling me she's looking forward to saying hello, which she did, and here is her comment, in it's entirety:

    >Haha, I do get people correcting my spelling mistakes/typos occasionally. If a commenter doesn't do it, a friend of mine will. Honestly I don't mind - I consider it a second level of spell check.

    And to be honest, while I'll be happy to say hello, I'm not really looking to get involved in a debate or discussion or anything. I just want to enjoy myself looking around the museum and take a photo riding a dinosaur.>

    Does that sound scared to you? No? Hmm. Because after that comment she writes this blog and tells how scared she was at first. And in a recent comment she says, "But I really do think I'll be okay." Really? Well, I'm glad you were finally able to get over your nonexistent fear of me.

    Is there anyone else who wouldn't be angry about that? She's a liar, that's my problem, and I know because you all are atheists and I'm a Christian, you'll be on her side, but you know deep down this would bother you as well.

    And Jen, you have nothing to worry about, you will not be acknowledged by me in any way.

  63. I made it clear that I WAS afraid. Past tense. When I made that comment on your blog, I was no longer afraid. Now that you've overreacted about this whole thing, I started expressing my unwillingness to meet you again. Is that so hard to understand?

    If you're going to keep this up, Tom, why don't you just stop acknowledging me here while you're at it? Kind of like how you said you were done, but now you continue to keep posting. Who's the liar?

  64. ...and again. Still, if a Christian does it, it's not really lying, eh Tom?


  65. Estes: "She's a liar, that's my problem"

    Oh?! ~That's~ your problem? The irony burns...

  66. Hey, I like this thread.

    // I'm going to make one more comment here. \\

    Kinda like when you said you wouldn't?

    // My issue with Jen is NOT the paranoia. Not the paranoia. Do you understand? Not the paranoia. My wife is 25 years old, and I want her to be careful at all times. So again, NOT THE PARANOIA. \\

    Yeah, we kinda get the point. It's also not why we have a problem with you.

    Here, allow me to make a quick rundown of the events for you.

    1 – You personally single out Jen (along with PZ) in saying you'll meet her in your post.
    2 – Jen is understandably freaked-out. Guess what, some people aren't used to being singled-out like that. It unnerves them.
    3 – She writes a comment or two on your blog, acting all nicely because -- um -- she IS nice. She was being polite.
    4 – You try to reassure her, via Twitter and such, but express yourself in a way that only leads to her getting even more nervous.
    5 – After a few more exchanges, during the course of which you rapidly become less and less pleasant, she finally stops being afraid or nervous and stops to care altogether. This, of course, is what you perceive as "bashing" you.
    6 – Then you come here with all those ridiculous claims about her defaming you (and even calling you a pedophile – I'll have to remember that one) which is completely and utterly false. All this means is either you can't read well, or are simply making shit up.
    7 – Surprise: now Jen (and everyone else following this) is/are ticked at you.


    // She's a liar, that's my problem \\

    You being unable to tell when someone is afraid, or has subsequently gotten over said fear, does not a liar make of them. It means you fail at understanding context and subtext.

    // I know because you all are atheists and I'm a Christian, you'll be on her side, but you know deep down this would bother you as well. \\

    Aaand let the painting begin. Of course, it's impossible we agree with her because the behavior you've exhibited has been erratic at best (and boorish at worst) – it has to be because we're all a (not-so-)merry bunch of atheists. You know, conspirin' against you an' all that.

    Right now, the only thing bothering "us" is you and your attitude. Want us to leave you alone? Get off your high horse, drop the martyrdom, and leave Jen be (which, yes, I know you've already said you would do).

  67. I discovered you (Jen) and this blog via your submissions to the last Carnival of the Godless. And am I glad I did. This is a rawking place ;-)

    I ran into Tom over at the big P and thought his sudden switch from amicable theist trying to understand the opposite point of view to raving lunatic/victim of teh mean atheists quite startling. After reading what his wife said I thought maybe there was a modicum of sensibility in the Estes household, but then Tom showed up and set me straight. I notice that she hasn't commented since. Interesting.

    Anyway, I'm surfing and avoiding work and thought I'd say hey. Keep up the good work!

  68. I think everyone here, with the exception of Tom, understands why Jen would be freaked out. I'm a 6 foot tall male with weapons experience and MMA trainging and I'm a bit freaked out by what I've seen from the guy. In fact, I think I, like many here, believe that at some level Tom must know how this series of actions might freak someone out.

    Young earth creationism is seen as an extremist fundamentalist movement, and not even part of mainstream christianity. Anyone that belives in basic human freedoms, reason, and intelegence, views extreme religious fundamentalism as dangerous -- history has shown that these types of movements harbor dangerous people.

    Tom has demonstrated a level of emotional unpredictability and an inability (or unwillingness) to stick to his word. Thus his statement of, "I just want to say hello," could be equally interepreted as a civil invitation, a cynical threat, or a meaningless plattitude.

    Take a look at his blog and you see a man that appears to believe he can read minds and predict the future -- rambling on about what other people are thinking and feeling, what their motives are coming from, and prognosticating about what's going to happen after this event, and who's going to be "owned," etc. Believing that you can read minds and predict the future is delusional.

    And the whole thing about reposting the comic without permission is really minimal, overall, but it does add another indication that there's a lack of understanding of basic social and civial mores.

    I'm not saying Tom is dangerous, I don't know, but there is enough odd behavior and background here to understandibly raise some red flags.

    Just from what I've seen over the last week, I have the impression that Tom is dishonest, social akward, delusional, and emotionally unpredictable member of an extremist group. I wouldn't want that type of person to approach me, especially in a location that has a particular meaning to that brand of fundamentalism. (a logical, reasonable fundamentalist? ok, but an unpredictable, delusional one? no way)

    At the same time, I have a hard time believing anyone's that messed up, so I say to myself, "he's just coming across poorly on the internet," but, yeah, this isn't how you approach bloggers, and really, it isn't how you approach anyone.


  69. I think it's clear that Tom and Jen have nothing left to say to each other, and that Jen will have plenty of people to come to her defense in the case of any unwanted interaction between them.

    Tom, the progression of Jen's feelings about the situation has been very rational and well communicated. The progression of yours has been erratic, hypocritical, and has made you appear to be a bit obsessive. If that was not your motive, then you should just consider this attempt at communication a failure, and try again with someone else.

  70. Tom, atheists don't all defend another atheist from Christians just because the attacker is a Christian. In this specific case, we defend an atheist because you're an asshole with seriously fucked up beliefs about the world.

  71. I am the last atheist who will defend someone *just* because they're an atheist. Hell, the whole reason my blog initially got popular was because I wrote a scathing critique of a horrible, horrible fiction novel about atheism by an atheist:

  72. @Jen
    Actually, you'd think the guy was an angry Christian attacking Atheism with a horrible parody-slash-caricature, considering how downright ludicrous his depiction of atheism and atheists was.

    Talk about scoring in the wrong goal altogether (and then gunning your team down).

  73. I just followed I comment I liked from FA, but you know.

  74. my how this all got out of hand...

    Awesome thread.

  75. Wowbagger:

    Silver Fox:
    Hi! Wow -How nice to see you here. Taking a little time off from PZ.? Maybe he doesn't have any polls for you to crash at the moment. Or, since Chris and SK are off on a book signing tour you don't have to be over on their site trashing them for their negative portrayal of PZ "I'm going to write a book someday" Myers, in Chap. 8 of their book. It doesn't matter to you that their portrayal of him was spot on.

    But getting down to the business at hand:

    "if two people present contradicting, incompatible and/or and mutually exclusive claims with nothing other than this 'other way of knowing' that you present as fact, by what means are people able to determine which is the correct one?"

    Well, WOW you already know the answer to your question because we have been over that ground before. But, I'll play the game: They are both correct because they are different forms of knowledge not "different ways of knowing". They are complimentary not contradictory. They derive from different methodologies, One derives from scientific inquiry and the other from propositional status.

    By the way, WOW, when you get back home be sure to say hello to PZ for me. Thanks.

  76. Have you seen Toms Facebook? (Seach for "HardTruth"
    I almost died laughing.

    That Fat Ass Peice Of Shit doesnt look the LEAST bit like a threat.

  77. Fat jokes are the last resort of the intellectually weak, not to mention completely unnecessary. Also, I went and took a look at his pic, and Tom is far from fat.

  78. Really, how he looks or how much he weighs has no bearing on his arguments or his personality.

    His arguments can fall over and smell bad all on their own, there's no need to get personal.

  79. Silver 'Sing a song to Sutekh' Fox wrote:

    Hi! Wow -How nice to see you here. Taking a little time off from PZ.?

    I go to any place that interests me, and where I'm not banned. How about you?

    Maybe he doesn't have any polls for you to crash at the moment.

    Got any evidence that I've crashed a poll? Please feel free to cite any post from PZ's blog where I indicate I have done so. Go on, I dare you.

    Well, WOW you already know the answer to your question because we have been over that ground before. But, I'll play the game: They are both correct because they are different forms of knowledge not "different ways of knowing". They are complimentary not contradictory. They derive from different methodologies, One derives from scientific inquiry and the other from propositional status.

    Actually, this is the first time you've actually responded to this request, at least when asked by me. Though I'll admit it's possible that you've done so somewhere I haven't gone back to check, so I'm not going to harp on it.

    But you've answered here, and I'll deal with it here.

    Unfortunately, you've missed my point; I'm currently unsure whether it's due to your poor comprehension or deliberate obtuseness.

    I'm not talking about where someone has actual evidence and someone else has 'other ways of knowing' evidence, I'm talking about two people who _both cite 'other ways of knowing' for their beliefs, which are contradictory, incompatible and mutually exclusive.

    Let's say someone comes to you and says, 'I have faith that if you don't sacrifice a goat - and only a goat, not a pig - to my god then you're going to die' and another person says, 'I have faith that if you don't sacrifice a pig rather than a goat you're going to die; if you sacrifice a goat then my god will strike you down'.

    By your rationale - that there are 'other ways of knowing' that are beyond any doubt and above analysis - you are obliged to accept both claims as true and valid.

    So, with that in mind, what do you do? Do you sacrifice a pig, or a goat, or both, or neither?

  80. Wow:
    From Silver Fox:

    "Unfortunately, you've missed my point; I'm currently unsure whether it's due to your poor comprehension or deliberate obtuseness."

    Unlike you I have no doubt why you miss the point. It's why you've always missed the point: You have an inadequate base of knowledge to reason philosophically. You have no clue as to how one comes to propositional knowledge.

    But again, I'll play the game.

    "Let's say someone comes to you and says, 'I have faith that if you don't sacrifice a goat....another person says, 'I have faith that if you don't sacrifice a pig....."

    What you have never understood is that what they have in common is a belief in God. That is the product of propositional knowledge. You have always become entwined in what they call their God, i.e. Zeus, Atun, Yehweh, etc. There are thousands of names. That is nominalism and it has nothing to do with the product of propositional knowledge, that is, belief in God. Whether they sacrifice a goat, pig, dog or virgin is the form of their cult ritual. Again it has nothing to do with the propositional knowledge they share in common.

    You really need to get back to Pharnygula where the level of philosophical reasoning in at a level that you can handle. I can't post there because as you note PZ sent me to his dungeon probably when, on another site I referred to him as a fifty odd year old tiresome old fart. He is a fifty odd year old tiresome old fart but he apparently took offense at that. When you get back home be sure to tell him hello for me and ask him if he could possible keep his sycophants in his own corral. Thank you.

  81. Wow, way to dodge the question SF. That was Matrix like dodging.

  82. Silver 'What a friend we have in Vishnu' Fox wrote:
    What you have never understood is that what they have in common is a belief in God. That is the product of propositional knowledge. You have always become entwined in what they call their God, i.e. Zeus, Atun, Yehweh, etc. There are thousands of names. That is nominalism and it has nothing to do with the product of propositional knowledge, that is, belief in God. Whether they sacrifice a goat, pig, dog or virgin is the form of their cult ritual. Again it has nothing to do with the propositional knowledge they share in common.

    Oh, I understand it perfectly - I just dismiss it as yet another baseless claim made without evidence or argument to support it. Do all adherents of all religions agree with you? If not, how can you be correct? Why are you right and they wrong?

    But that's only part of your epic fail here. As for our pig- and goat-obsessed friends; what you're saying - in your slimy attempt to avoid answering the question - is that you don't actually believe either of them. You tout 'other ways of knowing' for your own religious beliefs, but when it comes to the crunch, if those beliefs don't happen to be the same as your own, they aren't worth considering.

    Why is it you don't need to take their beliefs seriously and yet you expect us to treat yours with respect?

    You really need to get back to Pharnygula where the level of philosophical reasoning in at a level that you can handle.

    Really? If you're such a first-rate mind, why was it so easy for me to devise a trap for you, one in which you would freely admit the baseless vacuity of your claims? You walked straight into it, and displayed for the nice people here exactly how incompetent you - and your uncompelling, third-rate apologetics - are.

  83. Silver Fox, I don't think you're using the words "propositional knowledge" the way any other source I know of uses it. "Propositional knowledge" refers to a type of knowledge indicated by description -- by proposition. Knowledge of facts vs. knowledge of procedure, that sort of thing. I'd like you to point me to some philosophical literature that uses "propositional knowledge" in the way you claim, which to me looks identical to "making stuff up and calling it knowledge".

  84. Silver Fox:

    "I'd like you to point me to some philosophical literature that uses "propositional knowledge" in the way you claim"

    One recent reference you might want to consult is this:

    Alter, T. and Walter, S. (Eds.) 2007. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge: New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism.

    Also, these Essays in the same volumn:

    Chalmers, D.J. Phenomenal Concepts and the Explanatory Gap. pp.167-94.

    Levine, J. Phenomenal Concepts and the Materalist Constraint. pp. 145-56.

    Papineau, D. Phenomenal and Perceptual Concepts. pp. 111-44.

    Good Luck

  85. Hey, guys. Instead of taking up yet more comment space with a bunch of semantic bullshit that no one cares about, how about you move the conversation to a where that is else? Some of us are checking this comment thread to see if Tom shows up with more hilarious bawwwing.

  86. I just still can't believe how un-Christan Tom Estes proves himself to be EVERY TIME he POSTS. A pastor? His wife gave off great vibes. Him, not so much.

    He seems hateful, short-sighted and not at all interested in setting a good example. It sucks.

  87. It's not his Christianity that pisses me off, it's the thinly-disguised contempt. He puts on a show of being open-minded, curious, and sympathetic; but he can only keep it up for a the shortest time before he cracks and the ugly comes pouring out.

  88. A few hundred comments ago Tom Estes said:

    "Does that sound scared to you? No? Hmm. Because after that comment she writes this blog and tells how scared she was at first. And in a recent comment she says, "But I really do think I'll be okay." Really? Well, I'm glad you were finally able to get over your nonexistent fear of me.

    Is there anyone else who wouldn't be angry about that?"

    I'm just hear to say - I would not be angry if someone was afraid of me, but then got over it and expressed it as much.