Why won’t Paul Copan respond to Thom Stark?

Posted on 09/27/11 208 Comments

They say it is better for a book to be reviled or attacked than ignored. If ever there was a case to challenge that common wisdom, it is found with Thom Stark’s book-length review of Paul Copan’s book Is God a Moral Monster? (Baker, 2011). Stark’s review is called Is God a Moral Compromiser? It was originally published in early June (or thereabouts). The review is a book all its own and is, by my reading, as devastating a sustained critique of another published work as I’ve come across.

Thom took some heat however for some of the rhetorical flare in the original edition and so of course he revised it and put out a new edition in early July because he’s just that kind of guy. That is the edition you should read:

http://religionatthemargins.com/2011/07/the-real-second-edition-is-god-a-moral-compromiser-a-critical-review-of-paul-copans-is-god-a-moral-monster/

Now we come to the important bit. It has been almost three months since the revised and expanded second edition of Is God a Moral Compromiser? came out and still no response from Paul Copan. This is very disappointing. Paul Copan is one of the nicest guys in Christian apologetics. He is also one of the smartest. So for him to remain silent looks suspiciously like (1) he has no answer and (2) he hopes the whole thing will just go away.

But we can never let concerns about careers and reputations and constituencies trump concerns for the truth. So if Paul is unable to respond to Thom he should let us know. If he wishes to retract or revise some of his arguments, he should let us know that too. And if he has decided he needs to adopt a new understanding of scripture he should definitely let us know that.

I am reminded here of an exchange between Professors Sleigh and Chisholm which is recorded by Alvin Plantinga in his autobiographical essay in the book Alvin Plantinga. The setting was a philosophy of mind conference. Chisholm had just delivered a paper on the marks of intentionality which Plantinga described as “clear and ingenious”. However, clear and ingenious apparently didn’t mean perfect because Professor Sleigh then raised a critical problem. This is how Plantinga recalls Chisholm responding: “I see that, ah, Professor Sleigh has, ahum, demonstrated that my paper has at least one philosophical virtue: it is falsifiable.” But that’s not the end of the story, for Plantinga then adds: “a few days later he had an improved substitute. That quality in Chisholm is impressive and is one source of his capacity for constant growth.” (James E. Tomberlin and Peter van Inwagen, Alvin Plantinga, Profiles (Springer, 1985) 29.)

I want to challenge Paul Copan with this parting thought. Perhaps Thom has showed that your book has the philosophical virtue of being falsifiable. If so, let us know. And then get to work on an improved substitute. As Plantinga recognizes, this capacity for constant growth is one mark of a great scholar.

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  • Zach

    His lack of response to the entire review (he has responded to small bits) may have something to do with the fact that he’s writing 5 books.

    • randal

      Zach, I’m writing several books at the moment too. But when an intellectually serious critique of my work is published I try to respond to it as soon as possible. Paul has provided nothing like an adequate response to the first edition of Is God a Moral Compromiser? and has said nothing about the second edition. Thom Stark’s work has been read by hundreds and hundreds of people and has taken off in the skeptic blogosphere. Moreover, very soon it is going to be offered in a form that will make it much more widely available. Every day that Paul fails to respond is another day where the integrity of his work is undermined. If I were him, I’d take a week or two off from writing those five books to respond to Thom’s critique.

      • Robert

        It’s going to take more than a week or two. ;-)

  • Zarathustra Ubermensch

    Despite Copan’s indefensible positions on the bible he has a virtue i.e. he has a higher moral standard than many parts of the bible if you don’t count the bible writers who contradict the immoral positions. He reminds me of the people who try to read science back into the bible showing that they know better than the bible but are not willing to be honest about it.

  • Robert

    Thanks for writing this Randal. I have developed a bias not to trust evangelical apologists in part because they refuse to acknowledge weakness in their arguments. Paul Copan, William Craig and Lee Strobel come to mind.

    – William Craig on theistic morality. He has not (to my knowledge) addressed the criticisms of Wes Morriston. Nor has he changed his rhetoric even after Shelly Kagan gave a good account of secular morality to which he had no good reply.

    – Lee Stroble on everything at infidels. Kyle Gerkin’s critique of The Case for Faith was influential in my own de-conversion. Infidels will publish Christian responses, so it’s too bad that Stroble did not respond.

    • Zarathustra Ubermensch
      • Robert

        Yes, it’s pretty well known in academic circles at least. The Gospels-as-true-myth interpretation is still widely accepted after some modifications from what Strauss originally proposed.

        Take, for example, the account of Jesus walking on the water. Strauss notes that it was common in ancient religion, and in early Christianity in particular, to “liken the trials and tribulations of this life to a stormy impetuous sea that threatens life and limb. Who is able to rise above the fears, the hatreds, the enmities of the world? … Who can walk upright on the stormy sea?” According to Mark 6:45-52, Jesus can. “He is the one who rises above it all, who can master the waves, who can conquer all fear, dispel all doubt, and overcome all suffering.”

        The thing that strikes me about this interpretation is how familiar it is even within conservative churches. How many times have preachers described Jesus walking on the water in relation to the storms of our life? A lot!

        According to Bart Eharman: “Just about the only scholars who disagree [with the general ideas proposed by Strauss] are those who, for theological reasons, believe that the Bible contains the literal, inspired, inerrant, no-mistakes-of-any-kind and no-historical-problems-whatsoever, absolute words directly from God. Everyone else pretty much agrees: the Gospels – whether mostly, usually, commonly or occasionally (this is where the disputes are) contain stories that didn’t happen as told, which are nonetheless meant to teach a lesson.” (Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, p.30)

        • Jouras

          Ehrman is not a scholar, someone need to have the guts to say it.

          He has an agenda as much as any conservative does.

        • http://christthetao.blogspot.com/ David Marshall

          I’m not an inerracist. But I see no logical grounds for deducing that Jesus didn’t walk on water, because other people walk on water in myths. Yes, and they also drink water in myths — does that mean any story that tells of someone drinking water must be myth?

    • http://www.edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com Ed Babinski

      Deconversion? I’d like to hear more. I left the fold too. Edited Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists: http://www.edwardtbabinski.us/leaving_the_fold/babinski_agnosticism.html

      • randal

        A fitting complement to the book Philosophers who Believe.

      • Jouras

        Ed, deconverts have many motivations.

        But deconverts who now obviously hate Christians, like you pal Loftus, were never Christians in the first place.

        Don’t bother defending Loftus, he loses it every once in a while and viciously attacks his former “friends”. Some of the remarks he has made about William Lane Craig are an example.

        At the very least, he is one dishonest mean spirited guy.

        I mean, who would smear his former wife, the MOTHER OF HIS CHILDREN, by blaming her for Lacking Passion in a BOOK.

        A jerk, that’s who.

        If my dad had done that about my mom he would be apologizing fast.

        • http://shelter.nu/blog/ Alex

          I demand a bit of context and citations for such a hard accusation. Oh by the way, ad hominem is latin for you being a dick, so just be careful, um okay?

    • http://www.edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com Ed Babinski

      Robert, And thanks for the links!

      Wes Morrison’s online papers look fascinating! http://spot.colorado.edu/~morristo/selected-papers.html He even has a new one on Ethical Criticism of the Bible: The Case of Divinely Mandated Genocide (Forthcoming in SOPHIA)

      See also blog and new entry on the use of the word “objective” in relation to morality/ethics: http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2011/09/word-objective-is-overused-when-it.html

  • http://leadme.org Jeff

    Nothing to comment, other than to say gute Frage.

  • toryninja

    Hey Dr. Rauser, I seem to remember you were on a panel with Paul Copan. Is that correct? Have you contacted him about why he hasn’t really bothered to respond?

    I’m kind of surprised he hasn’t. His book was praised by Craig in Craig’s debate with Harris. Because of that I think even more people are going to read Stark’s review. If Copan doesn’t respond it is not only going to look bad on him but it could easily look bad on Craig as well.

    • randal

      I think you’re right. Copan has become the “go to guy” for dealing with OT atrocities. Thom’s devastating critique is equivalent to the demolition of the entire east wall of the evangelical citadel leading to a steady stream of Vandals and Goths charging in and wreaking havoc. Paul better either put the wall back up or start negotiations.

      I haven’t asked him why he hasn’t responded.

      • toryninja

        I think your Vandal analogy is quite apt. I’m glad bloggers like you are trying to pressure a response.

        On the flip side, if Copan hadn’t written the book, I wouldn’t have read it or Stark’s excellent review. And I think I am much better informed on OT issues now then I was before.

        So Copan is to be much thanked and praised – at least in that regard! (Stark of course gets some credit to ;) )

      • Jouras

        Oh, what a load of Bull. Stark is a liar, and hes going to pull the devonversion card by the end of next year.

        His critique was not “davastating”. You are just another Neville Chamberlain Christian.

  • http://elbryanlibre.wordpress.com El Bryan Libre

    Since Thom’s review is rather long, are there certain parts you think it would be best to respond to? Could maybe 5 main arguments be highlighted for response by Copan? I woudnt expect him to respond to every single point.

  • David P

    Far as I can tell, Richard Hess and Matt Flannagan have responded a bit, with Copan only giving his preliminary response, here.

    I will give him some slack and assume he is busy. The length and rigor of that review is incredible. He can’t drop all his scheduled projects to post online. Who knows, he may be publishing a journal article in response. Those don’t get pumped out so quickly, or so I hear. :-)

    • Thom Stark

      Matt Flannagan did not respond to my review. He hadn’t even read it when he wrote that very tendentious narrative about our personal interactions.

      Richard Hess wrote a response, to which I responded in detail. Richard Hess corrected me on a few minor points, but obfuscated much more than he clarified. He attempted to show that I had misread him on a number of occasions. On one occasion, I did so and it was my fault (a minor issue). As it turns out for the rest, either he was misreading me, or my misunderstanding of Hess was based on Copan’s own faulty readings of Hess, as I pointed out in my response.

      The whole thing was very transparent and totally inadequate.

      Copan does plan to revisit certain aspects of the genocide question in a paper with Flannagan, and to revisit certain aspects of the slavery issue in a presentation at a conference.

      He attempted to defend his (Walsh’s) reading of “cut off her hand” against Avalos’s criticisms, but ignored all of the most relevant of Avalos’s criticisms, and didn’t respond at all to mine. My second edition contains a significantly expanded critique of Copan’s arguments to date on that passage.

      The truth is, a large number of the criticisms I made there is no getting around. We can quibble on certain issues, and no doubt those will be the ones he gravitates toward if and when he responds. But there is no getting around the fact that numerous times, the texts he used blatantly contradicted the arguments he was using them to make. Such as, for instance, using Deuteronomy 7 to argue that God’s intention was not to kill all of the Canaanites, but to drive them out of the land. In fact, Deuteronomy 7 says that any Canaanite who survives Israel’s attack would be killed by Yahweh himself with plague or natural disaster. Copan’s books is replete with such obvious errors. An adequate response will own up to all of those, and then quibble with issues of interpretation that are at least a little bit more controversial.

      • Jouras

        Thom, do you believe Jesus is Lord?

        • http://theisticnotebook.wordpress.com David Parker

          He believes Jesus and Lord are rigid designators and thus necessarily identical.

          LOL, just kidding. But wait…could anyone else have fit the description? Hmm.

  • Thom Stark

    Moreover, any response to my free, self-published and easily-accessible review should be free, self-published and easily accessible, in my opinion. Publishing a response in a book that people have to pay to read or presenting one at a conference isn’t very helpful for the average person who wants to be convinced by Copan. I’m not saying Copan doesn’t have plans to put any responses online. But so far I’ve only seen indications otherwise.

    • Robert

      Is that an ethical ‘should’ or just a pragmatic ‘should’?

      • Thom Stark

        Definitely the latter. Copan can decide for himself about the former.

    • http://theisticnotebook.wordpress.com David Parker

      Totally agree about dialogue outside of the academy. I’m more of a philosopher, and without a university affiliation it’s pretty much a diet of free online papers on faculty websites, and smelly old paperbacks on PaperBackSwap.com! Whenever a new Blackwell Companion to [SomethingYouStudiedReallyHardInGradSchoolOnlyToEditThisOverpricedVolumeOfOtherPeople'sCrap] comes out, I hit Google’s pdf archives and stick it to the man. :-)

      • Thom Stark

        Nice! :)

  • Just Wonderin’

    “Thom Stark’s work has been read by hundreds and hundreds of people”

    How do you know that?

    • randal

      You can always email Thom to ask about concrete numbers since he can track the downloading of the book through google analytics etc.

      I don’t have that data but I can put two and two together. To take one example, Thom’s review was warmly reviewed on John Loftus’s website which has close to 800 followers. In the comments it is clear that many people from DB have read / are reading it. A number of other blogs like mine (and Thom’s own home at “Religion at the Margins”) have featured the review.

      • Just Wonderin’

        “You can always email Thom to ask about concrete numbers”

        Shouldn’t *you* have done this before making your “has been read by hundreds and hundreds of people” assertion?

        “I don’t have that data but I can put two and two together.”

        Yes, anyone can speculate.

        “Thom’s review was warmly reviewed on John Loftus’s website”

        Hardly surprising. And pretty meaninglesss.

        “which has close to 800 followers.”

        And how many have read the book-length “review”? You have no idea, have you?

        “In the comments it is clear that many people from DB have read / are reading it.”

        And this “many” who claim to be reading it translates in your mind into “hundreds and hundreds”? But you have no actual hard data whatsoever? It might equally be “dozens and dozens” or “scores and scores”?

        “A number of other blogs like mine (and Thom’s own home at “Religion at the Margins”) have featured the review.”

        Have you tallied up “hundreds and hundreds” of such blogs? If not, your “”has been read by hundreds and hundreds of people” remains factually speculative.

        Vague “many” and “a number” assertions do not constitute hard data nor do they magically translate into “hundreds and hundreds” of people having actually read the book-length “review.”

        • Thom Stark

          *yawn*

          • Just Wonderin’

            No doubt “hundreds and hundreds” of yawns?

            • randal

              No that was only one. But it will soon be followed by hundreds and hundreds. Indeed, I expect it to go viral by the end of the week.

              • Just Wonderin’

                O come on, why not speculate on thousands and thousands?

          • Thom Stark

            According to my stats, it has been downloaded over 4,000 times. That doesn’t include all the times it has been mass-emailed as an attachment. It has also been uploaded by at least two people to Scrib’d. It has been featured on over two dozen blogs (by my count), and has been featured prominently in several podcast shows. I also know of two professors who are making their class read it alongside Copan’s book. One of these classes is in the U.S., another in the U.K. I’d say “hundreds and hundreds” is a very conservative estimate. I still get multiple emails a day from people who have read it and want to thank me for it.

            But who cares about the numbers? You do, I guess. *yawn*

            • randal

              Wait a minute. You don’t know that those 4000 people read the review. In fact, how do you know it wasn’t one person downloading it 4000 times? And you don’t know that the two dozen bloggers read it. And how many students read all the books assigned to them?

              So Paul Copan shouldn’t respond unless you can provide hard data on how many people have actually read the review.

              Filibuster successful. The bill has been defeated!

              • Thom Stark

                Nice. :)

              • Just Wonderin’

                “Wait a minute. You don’t know that those 4000 people read the review.”

                The point is not what he knows, the point is what you knew before making your “hundreds and hundreds” claim. And it now appears that you had no facts to back that up at all.

            • Just Wonderin'

              “According to my stats, it has been downloaded over 4,000 times…”

              Pity the original poster didn’t find out any of this before making his speculative “hundreds and hundreds” claim. It’s obvious that he had no idea how many people had READ the book but just wanted to talk it up.

        • randal

          Well done Just Wonderin’. With that kind of debating style you could have a long career in politics. I’d love to see you filibuster.

          • Just Wonderin’

            I’m still waiting for your evidence that “hundreds and hundreds” of people have read this book.

          • Thom Stark

            If only Mr/s. Anonymous would hold the authors of the Bible to the same standards s/he holds Randal.

            • Just Wonderin’

              “If only Mr/s. Anonymous would hold the authors of the Bible to the same standards s/he holds Randal.”

              Or rather, if only you would hold your sychophants up to the same standard as you hold Copan.

  • http://www.atheistmissionary.com/ The Atheist Missionary

    Because I just downloaded it and will see to it. Just spreading the good news …

    • randal

      Well that’s another thousand people right there…

      Good old TAM. If Thom’s book review was for sale you probably would have already bought copies for Paul Copan’s whole family.

      • Just Wonderin’

        “Well that’s another thousand people right there…”

        I wish I had your magical ability to know how many people follow through on free books they intend to read.

        • randal

          I wish I knew what your point is. Is it that Paul Copan should defer replying to Thom Stark’s critique until we have hard data on how many people have read Is God a Moral Compromiser?

          • Just Wonderin’

            My point is I’m asking how you know that “hundreds and hundreds” of people have read this book. It seems you don’t.

            • Thom Stark

              Randal, where did you state that hundreds and hundreds of people have read my review cover to cover? I’m not finding that claim.

              • randal

                Hey, my edition didn’t come with covers. I want my money back.

                • Thom Stark

                  rimshot

                  • Just Wonderin’

                    “rimshot”

                    I can see you’re easily pleased . . . when it’s a sychophant.

              • Just Wonderin’

                “Randal, where did you state that hundreds and hundreds of people have read my review cover to cover? I’m not finding that claim.”

                Because he never made it and I never said he did. He claimed that “hundreds and hundreds” of people have read your book when in actual fact he now admits that he had no idea how many people have read it. If he is as shoddy as this with his facts . . .

  • Zarathustra Ubermensch

    Thom,

    Do you think that if you asked for the various sites to take surveys of how many people read it from cover to cover that they would do it just shut people like just wondering up? For the record I read almost the entire thing in the first edition except for the very last chapter. I did read your human faces of god which I also thought was excellent though I guess you are probably going to go over your genocide arguments from there in the copan review. I dont see why you removed the humor. I have been part of various denominations and christians dont ever seem to have a problem poking fun at themselves or even things they consider sacred like talking in tongues. Then they turn around and ridicule people for things they either cannot help or just normal. Some how everybody else’s church music is of the devil but theirs is ok. Some how it is ok for them to ridicule the catholics and orthodox as idolaters but holding their denominational opinion above what the bible actually says is not idolatry. The worst is when someone like Dawkins accurately describes what the bible actually says and then people get angry with him for making fun. (granted he does make inaccurate statements sometimes but he is not quite the prick evangelicals lead you to believe he is.)

    • Just Wonderin’

      “just shut people like just wondering up?”

      Yes, just shut up any opposing views, it’s the anti-Copanists’ way. That’s already happening, as the blogger is now holding my posts for “Moderation” (i.e. potential censorship).

      • Zarathustra Ubermensch

        You are projecting. You can say what you want. I am telling Thom to go out get the data and refute your sad view. You obviously have a persecution complex. Living a in a country with 75% christians you have the nerve to say you are being censored. You can tons of stuff supporting Thom’s views and yours in a library. Considering that you worship an ancient middle eastern deity who likes sycophants I think you are projecting there also. You simply dont like people to disagree with your horribly ignorant view of the bible. I have my differences with Thom’s exegesis which I have written about. Your are an idolater. You worship a book. You are what Karl Barth says: The fundamentalist shouts into a room hears his own voice and thinks its god.

        • randal

          ZU,

          Some conversations are just not worth having.

          • Just Wonderin’

            Especially when you’ve been called on an unsubstantiated factual assertion, eh? Yet some people claim to find such things in books and write whole book-length “reviews” in response.

        • Just Wonderin’

          “I am telling Thom to go out get the data and refute your sad view.”

          The point is, which you and the blogger keep ducking, is that the blogger made a factual claim without a shred of evidence to support it. He didn’t have to do that, he could simply have claimed a vague “many” or “a number.” Which is what in fact he subsequently did when called on the unsubstantiated “hundreds and hundreds.”

          “Considering that you worship an ancient middle eastern deity . . . The fundamentalist shouts . . .”

          Now who’s projecting?

          And ad hominems do not an argument make.

      • http://winlb.wordpress.com ToonForever

        No, to shut up people wasting everyone’s time with mindless pedantic arguments because they lack the fortitude to actually address the material. It is a sure bet that of 4000 downloads that multiple hundreds have read the critique. I didn’t download it to have it. I downloaded it and read it in parallel with Copan’s book.

        Frankly, this smacks of the same sort of dishonest word-twisting Christians (like I was) use to maintain their belief in the face of all reason. Ugly and quite transparent.

        • Just Wonderin’

          “they lack the fortitude to actually address the material.”

          Yes indeed, when is this blogger going to gather up the fortitude to address the Copan material rather than engage in pedantic claims to mass readership?

          • http://winlb.wordpress.com ToonForever

            With 300 pages that address the material. All you do is obfuscate. More dishonesty. Aren’t liars bound for hell? Doesn’t god hate liars?

            Poor thing…

            • Just Wonderin’

              “With 300 pages that address the material. All you do is obfuscate. More dishonesty. Aren’t liars bound for hell? Doesn’t god hate liars?”

              Where has this blogger written 300 pages that address Copan’s material? Nowhere, it doesn’t exist. On the contrary, this blogger’s entire argument is this: Hundreds of people (supposedly, but we’re expected to take his unevidenced word for that assertion) have read Stark’s free download, therefore Copan is obliged to respond to it in kind.

              Sorry, that’s not hundreds of pages. Looks like you’re the one going to hell, buddy.

        • Just Wonderin’

          “It is a sure bet that of 4000 downloads that multiple hundreds have read the critique.”

          And you know this … how exactly?

          The fact is: you don’t know it at all. “Sure bet” = “I guess”.

          • http://winlb.wordpress.com ToonForever

            No sh*t sherlock. It’s called a reasonable deduction.

            Oh, right, that’s the problem – you’ve 86’d reason in devotion to your skygod.

            No wonder you have to sit here and get all pedantic about the most meaningless aspect of the conversation.

            Pathetic.

            • Just Wonderin’

              The way that you swear and name-call, I think you must be Thom Stark in disguise. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if you were.

              Now, no more obfuscation, please. When are you going to stop the childish name-calling and address the points raised?

    • Thom Stark

      Yeah, ZU, I’m not going to feed the troll. Randal is correct. This is an attempt at a filibuster.

      People like this are the reason we all grow weary of otherwise good discussions very quickly.

      • Just Wonderin’

        “I’m not going to feed the troll.”

        Funny how someone who disagrees with your supporter on one small assertion automatically becomes a troll in your eyes. How positively academic (not).

      • Just Wonderin’

        “But who cares about the numbers? You do, I guess. *yawn*”

        Evidently this blogger does, as he was the one claiming “hundreds and hundreds” (now reduced to a suitably vague “many” and “a number”).

  • Just Wonderin’

    Of course, if Stark could get a publisher and a readership who would actually pay money to read his book (as opposed to free downloads), as Copan has, then this blogger’s claim of “hundreds and hundreds” of readers and Stark’s claim of “4,000” downloads might actually amount to something.

    • Walter

      Of course, if Stark could get a publisher and a readership who would actually pay money to read his book

      Stark got a publisher for the “Human Faces of God” which did critique Copan’s arguments. Why all this obsession with how many people have read his free critique? Stark’s arguments are pretty devastating and need to be addressed by Copan. It does not matter whether four or four hundred thousand people have read it.

      • Just Wonderin’

        “Why all this obsession with how many people have read his free critique?”

        I have no idea why. Ask the blogger who is insisting that “hundreds and hundreds” have actually read the free download, and Stark himself who is claiming “four thousand” have read it (though how he knows this, or even could know it, is anybody’s guess).

        • Thom Stark

          Now anonymous is attributing claims to me I never made. Randal’s original estimate was perfectly reasonable. The troll’s objections are contrived and transparent. Unsubscribing.

          • Just Wonderin’

            “Randal’s original estimate was perfectly reasonable.”

            But perfectly unsubstantiated. Which was my point. Seems this has really bothered both him and you.

            “Now anonymous is attributing claims to me I never made.”

            So what was the point of you claiming “4,000 downloads”? That 4,000 people have downloaded a free book with the vague intention that they might possibly even read it someday? No, your implication was that they had all read it, but of course, just like the blogger’s implication about “hundreds and hundreds” it does not follow that ANY of those people have read more than perhaps the conclusion, or a chapter here and there.

            People are bound to be curious about a rather anal, book-length review of another person’s properly published book. Indulging one’s curiosity to the extent of a free download doesn’t translate into agreeing with your arguments, as you are itrying to imply.

            “The troll’s objections”

            LOL.

            • Robert

              Please, just stop. I think nobody cares about this except you.

              • Just Wonderin’

                “I think nobody cares about this except you”

                How can you possibly know that? You can speak for no one but yourself. Anyway, it seems by their ad hominem responses, that this blogger and his favoured author care very much when a simple challenge is made to something they claim as unevidenced fact. Something that doesn’t even affect the arguments within the book itself!

                Funny how you haven’t asked them to stop their childish name-calling.

      • Just Wonderin’

        “Stark’s arguments are pretty devastating and need to be addressed by Copan.”

        In your opinion. But, of course, this is precisely what’s in dispute. In any case, the blogger was arguing that Copan needs to address them because “hundreds and hundreds” of people have read the free download. I dared to ask how he knew this as fact rather than guess, and have been duly castigated for it and deemed a “troll” by Stark himself.

  • Zarathustra Ubermensch

    No one ever has dealt with the questions raised by the Dutch Radical Critics either. Nor with Peter Enn’s book nor Robert Gundry’s commentary on Matthew. You see even evangelicals cannot deny the cogency of higher critical arguments. Why would you “defend” the bible anyway? As an old testament professor another evangelical once said “Dont ever defend the bible. It is an old book”

  • Jouras

    Lets say you don’t like the way God is handling things.

    Not to say you don’t believe in God, but you don’t approve of his “morality”.

    Here’s the rub…

    That’s tough.

    If God exists he can do whatever the H…he wants.

    Don’t like it?

    Watcha gonna do about it?

  • http://leadme.org Jeff

    Just wondering…what you hope to achieve here. Hijacking this thread over an off-hand comment, made in a blog post?! Thom is right, time to unsubscribe. Are you really so helpless to respond to his work that you must resort to wasting everyone’s time with childish antics?

    • http://leadme.org Jeff

      Nevermind, I get it. You’re hoping to provoke a reaction from Thom and “the blogger” so that you can go high five your blogging buddies about how mean and disagreeable they are. God is adding several gold stars to your tally, no doubt.

      • Just Wonderin’

        “Nevermind, I get it. You’re hoping to provoke a reaction”

        LOL. You seem to be projecting.

        Actually, it’s this blogger who wishes to provoke a reaction in Copan, by obliging him to expend his limited time and energy on Stark’s free download, because it’s been read, supposedly, by hundreds upon hundreds of people (now amended to “many” and “a number”).

    • Just Wonderin’

      “Just wondering…what you hope to achieve here. Hijacking this thread over an off-hand comment, made in a blog post?!”

      Not an off-hand comment, though no doubt anyone questioning it would likely be told that, as I am now being told it. And it is not hijacking to express disagreement! Though, as we’ve seen, verbal abuse has been their “scholarly” response.

      The assertion I questioned formed the basis of the blogger’s argument for why Copan is supposedly obliged to expend time and energy on Stark’s free download i.e. because, supposedly, “hundreds and hundreds” of people have read it. But of course, neither the blogger nor Stark have any factual knowledge of how many people have actually read the free download.

      The likelihood being that many will have dowmloaded it ‘In case they might need it someday’, so to speak. A free book is a free book, better download it before it is gone, eh? Even people who spend money on a book do not always read it, far from it!

      Such gross inflating of numbers, based on mere speculation and wishful thinking, is not very scholarly, to say the least (some would say it was not very honest either).

      • You’re “Just Wonderin'” ABOUT WHAT?

        Randal, I say delete Just Wonderin’ because nobody wants to read a thread that’s as repetitious,lame and infantile as Just Wonderin’ has made it.

        Note to Just Wonderin’ how many people who have bought Copan’s book have read it? And what does that have to do with the arguments in either Copan’s book or Thom’s? Randal would like to see Copan address Thom’s arguments. Copan instead griped about Thom’s opening baseball metaphors and tone, and then proceeded to ignore Thom’s research and arguments.

        Thom’s published book and his free online critique both contained criticisms of Evangelical apologetic arguments employed by Copan and others.

        The only scholar who attempted direct criticisms of some of Thom’s arguments, Thom demolished his counter-arguments, going into detail as to why each one was faulty. I read Thom’s book, I read Copan’s griping, and I read Thom’s demolition of the arguments by the Evangelical scholar, some of whose arguments Copan relied upon when composing his book.

        So Just Wonderin’ If you want to discuss arguments do so. Write your own criticisms of particular arguments in Thom’s book. Take up the challenge.

        But if you want to play the gripe game like Copan has already done, and gripe about how many people read “who’s” book cover to cover, then I suggest Randal delete your posts.

        You really have no idea how infantile you sound? And how little anything you say has to do with the arguments in Thom’s two books?

        Thom’s a good guy, he even rewrote the sections that Copan was orignally griping about, hoping that Copan might engage the substance and not get distracted, just as you have done, by nothing other than your desire to say absolutely nothing over and over again. If you want to say absolutely nothing over and over again.

        • Robert

          I support deleting the thread. It’s an annoying distraction to issues that actually matter.

          At least cl would argue on points that other commenters care about. My justification for such censorship is here.

          • randal

            Robert and You’re “Just Wonderin” ABOUT WHAT?,

            I agree there is a case to be made for deletion. But I have stuck by a policy of only deleting the most offensive posts, not the most inane. To this point that has meant I have only deleted one or two posts. I would prefer not to expand that policy. Let’s just move on.

          • Just Wonderin’

            “I support deleting the thread.”

            Yes, then the Starkists can pretend that everybody agrees with him. Silence all opposing voices! Censorship rules!

            Next time, claim “thousands and thousands” or “millions and millions” and delete anyone who calls you on it! That’s definitely the way to win this debate.

        • Just Wonderin’

          “Note to Just Wonderin’ how many people who have bought Copan’s book have read it? And what does that have to do with the arguments in either Copan’s book or Thom’s?”

          Perhaps you could address your note to the blogger, as it is he (and Stark, who has been quick to claim “4,000 downloads”) who give evidence of being obsessed by numbers? In fact, they formulate all manner of spurious arguments based on these number claims. When called on it, they resort to ad hominem and name calling.

        • Just Wonderin’

          “Thom demolished his counter-arguments, going into detail as to why each one was faulty. I read Thom’s book, I read Copan’s griping”

          There we have it: “Thom’s” “demolition” and “Copan’s” “griping.” Can’t get much more scholarly and objective than that, can we?

        • Just Wonderin’

          “I suggest Randal delete your posts.”

          Yes, censor all opposing voices. Interesting that several of the Starkists have already called for this.

          “Thom’s a good guy”

          LOL. A good guy who loves to verbally abuse someone who disagrees with him.

          And the “griping” Copan is a demon, eh?

          Of course, even if Stark was Mother Teresa it wouldn’t make his arguments valid and it certainly wouldn’t transform 4,000 free downloads into 4,000 avid supporters.

          • Just Wondering when you'll reply to a single point made in Thom's writing

            Hey Just Wondering, Deleting your posts is the only rational thing to do since you will not engage a single one of Thom’s arguments any more than Copan will.

            Neither would deleting your mindless irrelevant babble be equal to “censoring all opposing voices,” as if that’s even possible on the internet or even at amazon.com reviews. Randal addresses questions about the Bible and his arguments on his blog, Thom has addressed questions about the Bible and about his arguments plenty of times. He has not ignored questions related to his arguments. But repeating as you have the question of exactly how many people have read a book, as if that proves anything about the nature of the book’s content, is ridiculous.

            So please oppose an argument made in either of Thom’s books.

            If you refuse to do so then you’re no better than Copan and his actions which were the topic of Randal’s post.

            • Just Wonderin'

              “Hey Just Wondering, Deleting your posts is the only rational thing to do”

              LOL. That’s right, censoring an opposing voice is “rational” when you don’t want to respond to the point being made. Or, rather, only want to respond with verbal abuse, as Stark has done.

              “since you will not engage a single one of Thom’s arguments any more than Copan will.”

              Shouldn’t this blogger be the one engaging with Copan’s arguments, rather than making claims based on “hundreds and hundreds of people” supposedly having read Stark’s free download? “Engagement” by claiming factually unsubstantiated numbers doesn’t seem to bother you.

              “Neither would deleting your mindless irrelevant babble”

              LOL. Mindless irrelevant babble about unsubstantiated hundreds of readers and thousands of downloads is perfectly fine though, eh? They seem to establish the validity of Stark’s arguments in your mind anyway.

              “But repeating as you have the question of exactly how many people have read a book, as if that proves anything about the nature of the book’s content, is ridiculous.”

              Yes, it would be, wouldn’t it? But it’s actually this blogger who made the implication that numbers proved something i.e. that a supposed “hundreds and hundreds” of readers of Stark’s free download thereby obliged Copan to respond to it. But the hundreds and hundreds claim was simply pulled out of the air. Apparently this sort of argument based on numbers is fine with you when it’s someone you agree with doing it, but idiotic and rambling when it’s someone disagreeing with you. Flexible in your preferences, aren’t you?

              “So please oppose an argument made in either of Thom’s books.”

              No, it’s this blogger who should be opposing an argument in Copan’s books, rather than pulling numbers out of the air and basing his arguments erroneously on them. But, I forgot, *that* doesn’t bother you at all.

      • Walter

        Thom’s arguments should stand on their own merits and not be dismissed even if only ten people have ever heard of them. What you are trying to do is paint Thom as some kind of lunatic fringe that is beneath the notice of someone like Copan, who represents the Christian academic establishment. Richard Hess has taken notice of Thom’s work and has attempted discussion with Thom on his arguments. Copan might want to do the same because I guarantee skeptics of “traditional” Christianity are hearing of Thom’s books, free or otherwise. The apologetic answer men might want to actually attempt to answer Thom instead of burying their heads in the sand hoping he’ll go away.

        • Just Wonderin’

          “What you are trying to do is paint Thom as some kind of lunatic fringe”

          You said it, not me. What this blogger is trying to do is suggest that “hundreds and hundreds” of people have read Stark’s book and that therefore Copan is OBLIGED to spend time replying to him. But the blogger has no evidence to support this claim and has now amended it to a suitably vague “many” and “a number.” He should have just abandoned the argument altogether.

  • Jouras

    Thom is an anti Christian.

    When is he going to have the guts to come out with it? I predict by the end of next year the deconversion will be exposed.

    He really does talk out of both sides of his mouth, and I truly despise the ones who don’t have the guts to come out with it.

    Of course, the idea is that he can finish off the Church from within.

    Can you imagine the damage duplicitous admitted liars, who admit they continued to preach after they no longer believed, like Johnny Loftus and Danny Barker could have done if they had remained in the church?

  • JOURAS is mine

    Jouras, You sound like you have never known anyone who has changed their beliefs without becoming either a devil or an angel, at least in your jaundiced eyes. You appear ignorant of others and perhaps yourself, and fearful of things other people may say or write. Perhaps you are fearful that others will change in a direction of belief you don’t approve of, so you attempt to prejudge any changes that their beliefs have undergone or may undergo, dreaming up a hidden agenda hypothesis. Thom has been honest. He is not an “Evangelical” Christian (neither is there only one type of “Evangelical” Christian). Thom is not trying to destroy anything. He is trying to understand the Bible. Copan in comparison is not seeking to understand the Bible, not in its original historical context, but is attempting to stretch whatever data he can to reinterpret it to make all the obvious questions it raises vanish.

    If you want to deal with some of the questions the Bible raises I suggest you read Thom’s book, The Human Faces of God. Neither is Thom the only person pointing out questions.

    Christianity Today had a cover story recently about the debates going on within Evangelicalism (Thom has not said he is an Evangelical, though I don’t know about his youth), concerning whether or not an historical Adam and Eve ever existed. That’s a question Evangelicals are raising.

    And John Walton at Wheaton College has raised awareness among Evangelicals that the ancient Hebrew authors of the Bible most likely believed the earth was flat and water lay above a solid firmament, and heaven lay not far above the clouds. So you could read Walton, or Peter Enns (whose book on the Adam question is coming out early next year, a companion piece to his book on the questions raised by the “inerrancy” proposition. Or there’s God’s Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship by Kenton L. Sparks; or there’s Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology by Gregory A. Boyd; or there’s The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture by Christian Smith (not yet published). Whether or not all of those writers remain Christians or their beliefs concerning the Bible and Christianity change, or, some of the them leave Christianity entirely is up to them. Either way the questions are there for all to see, as well as a growing spectrum of opinion concerning them even within Evangelicalism. And no amount of hypothetical answers to try and resolve such questions and make the Bible appear “inerrant” and “ethical” in all it says, seems likely of working. Neither are those like Copan themselves inerrant. So really, what’s an “inerrant” Bible worth if it still raises questions, and if those who supply hypothetical answers to such questions are not themselves able to supply “inerrant” interpretations?

  • Jouras

    JIS, if you would reread my post you will see that my issue is not with changing their beliefs.

    It is with people who lie about it.

    Loftus, Barker and the like.

    You will find Stark going down the same road.

    Regardless, do you really think all your exuses will mean you never be ultimately be held responsible for your life?

    Yeah, keep reassuring yourself of that.

    You are the one who is scared. Scared shitless in fact.

  • Just Wondering when you’ll reply to a single point made in Thom’s writing

    Jouras, You’re totally off topic. In fact you’re growing hysterical. You’re just trying to invent more excuses for Copan and yourself to avoid interacting with Thom’s two books and the arguments they contain. Read the books, choose a substantial point that Thom makes, and argue it. Post it as part of a review at amazon.com. Or send it to Thom via the book’s homepage.

    Thom is not “Christian” by your standards, we get that. In fact some Evangelicals are not Evangelical enough according to some Evangelical’s standards.

    Thom is not lying about being a “Christian” by his own standards and growing knowledge of the Bible, its language, history, contents.

    Loftus doesn’t claim to be a Christian. Neither does Barker. What exactly are you accusing them of?

    And for every person who writes about leaving the fold, or changing their beliefs in one way or another, there’s more people out there who simply do it and don’t write about it. It’s happening all the time.

    • Steve

      Both Loftus and Barker are liars; by their own admission they continued to preach when they no longer believed.

      Being liars, they have lied about their reasons for deconversion.

      Loftus is particularly ridiculous, because he blames a seductive stripper and his frigid ex wife for his fall.

      I kid you not, he talks about in in WIBA, the first chapter.

      Now he wants to destroy Christianity.

      So does Thom Stark, he is just going about it in a different way.

      Mark my words, Jouras is right. This will all be out in the open by late next year.

      • Steve? ha. Stick it up Jouras.

        Steve, I know Thom, I’ve been reading his stuff even before it was published. And I have discussed my agnosticism with him and discovered Thom is still more Christian than full blown agnostic. Albeit he’s not an Evangelical Christian (apparently the only kind you believe exists), there’s things Thom loves about Jesus and about the Bible and about being a Christian, things he has loved his whole life. He’s not hiding his love for such things. And he’s not denying it. Neither is he denying NOT BEING AN EVANGELICAL. If Thom’s views change it will be Thom’s decision. But he’s not lying to anyone what his views are, and you can read all about them in his two books. The last chapter of The Human Faces of God elucidates his present views.

  • Just Wonderin’

    “Ehrman is not a scholar, someone need to have the guts to say it.

    He has an agenda as much as any conservative does.”

    I agree that he has an agenda but disagree that this means he’s not a scholar.

  • Steve? ha. Stick it up Jouras.

    STEVE WRITES: “Loftus is particularly ridiculous, because he blames a seductive stripper and his frigid ex wife for his fall.”

    Steve, Do you know what the name of the logical fallacy is when somebody like you rejects every argument in another person’s book because the person who wrote that book committed adultery with a stripper? Neither do I. But man you’re ridiculous for suggesting it.

    Also, did you ever read the book, The Infidels by Paul Johnson in which he discusses the sex lives of famous atheists? You’d love it. But it turns out the book’s devout Christian author, Paul Johnson, had himself been having an 11 year long affair. “British historian and conservative moralist Paul Johnson, whose recent essay on marriage to honor his 40th wedding anniversary so annoyed his mistress of 11 years that she ratted him out to British newspapers, admitted in a subsequent interview in London’s Observer in May, ‘I’ve been having an affair, but I still believe in family values.'” Now THAT’S the very definition of ridiculous.

    By the way, atheists seem to have pretty good marriages and a relatively low divorce rate even according to Barna’s polls. While Born Agains seem to be doing relatively poorly in that arena according to Barna’s polls.

    And hey, have you been keeping up with cases of child molestation by ministers in both Catholic and Protestant churches, including Baptist churches?

    And have you ever heard of the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Charles Stanley? Prominent Christian minister, TV and radio Bible teacher, author of numerous inspirational books? After 44 years his wife couldn’t stand being married to him. But all either of them would say to the public after the divorce was something about “childhood difficulties” that Stanley had, and that their marriage was “irretrievably broken.”

    I don’t envy anyone marital difficulties, or financial ones, or health difficulties, or getting caught in a disaster. But it’s ridiculous to try and paint such people’s arguments the same jaundiced irrational color as the insides of your eyelids, and I’m directing that at both Steve and Jouras. (I’m not saying you’re the same person, you both just happen to think with a similarly irrational noggin’).

    Now I suggest you both get on with reading Thom’s too books so you can come up with some good questions for him, instead of pecking the ground in ignorance like Copan your mentor does so well.

    • Robert

      What’s the deal with these author names? Unsubscribed.

      • Just Wonderin’

        I agree; some of them are very childish, and verging on the downright nasty.

    • Robert

      And this thread is embarrassing. If Paul Copan actually does read this, he’s going to think Randal has a bunch of idiots following his blog.

      • Just Wonderin’

        Speak for yourself.

    • Jouras

      Stick Up Jouras? Ha. Yesterday you were “Jouras is mine”.

      “mine” what? Are you looking for a date?

      But I disagree with Steve if he means that because he had an affair then the arguments Loftus makes are invalid.

      I do believe that Loftus is liar though, because he continued to preach after he no longer believed, and because of other things like making of blogs about people, etc.

      So, how can we trust his “devonversion” story?

      His goal now is to destroy Christianity.

      He promotes books on his site for that purpose.

      Thom’s is one of them.

      He’s throwing it right in your face.

      • Jouras stinks

        JOURAS wrote: Yesterday you were “Jouras is mine.” “mine” what? Are you looking for a date?

        REPLY: If you read literature, it’s a euphemism, like “God hath given him unto mine hands for destruction.”
        ______________

        JOURAS wrote: But I disagree with Steve if he means that because he had an affair then the arguments Loftus makes are invalid.

        REPLY: Fine, now DEAL WITH THE ARGUMENTS, Thom already has two books out. Pick an argument that Thom makes and address it.
        _______________

        JOURAS wrote: I do believe that Loftus is liar though, because he continued to preach after he no longer believed, and because of other things like making of blogs about people, etc.

        REPLY: A lot of preachers have doubts and continue to preach. Some have severe doubts and no longer believe as they once did. Loftus got out of the preaching business. That was honest of him. He’s also honestly expressing his current beliefs in his books.

        On the matter of the blog, yes, Loftus created a blog to reply to J.P. Holding, and he created it anonymously, or tried to maintain anonymity. And he lied about not being that blog’s creator. But before Loftus even tried to create such a blog he had been hounded for years by fans of J.P. who refused to show their true names or faces from “Frank Walton” to “Truth” something, to “The Discomfiter,” and others. There’s two such blogs right now I think both devoted to trying to discredit Loftus using every rhetorical and personal attack one can conceive of. When it was pointed out by Loftus on his blog that his home needed repair and that he’d spent so much time researching and editing his recent books that his other business wasn’t doing well, and was seeking contributions to get by, the attack blogs reposted the pics with the heading, Loftus’ House of Horrors. I won’t even get into the Discomfiter episode and the slanders spoken by that anonymous figure (Paul Manata it turned out to be). But none of these episodes have to do with particular arguments in Loftus’ books, and that last three books Loftus edited were contributor based, so the arguments are varied and by various people.

        SO WHY ARE YOU BRINGING UP LOFTUS SO MUCH WHEN THE POST WAS ABOUT COPAN AND STARK?
        _______________

        JOURAS wrote: So, how can we trust his “devonversion” story?

        REPLY: Deconversion stories are deconversion stories. They aren’t “holy writ.” But there are enough of them out there to make anyone aware that people’s beliefs, even of very devout people, can and do change.
        ________________

        JOURAS wrote: His goal now is to destroy Christianity. He promotes books on his site for that purpose. Thom’s is one of them. He’s throwing it right in your face.

        REPLY: What does any of that have to do with the actual arguments in Thom’s two books? Thom didn’t pluck his arguments out of thin air. He’s studied the OT, the Hebrew language, read a wall of biblical scholarship, and tried to help people like you (and Copan) understand what those scholars are saying. You should be thankful that at least somebody is trying to help educate people like yourself and challenge you to read and understand what the world’s top most scholars are saying about the OT and the NT too.

        Now please suggest some arguments that run counter to Thom’s on any subject raised in Thom’s two books.

        If you don’t have anything else to say except that you dislike a person (Loftus) who likes some but not all of Thom’s arguments in his books, then you have not made any argument at all. EVEN COPAN doesn’t argue like that. I give him credit for that. You’re acting less reasonably than the guy you’re trying to defend, Copan.

  • Just Wonderin'

    “By the way, atheists seem to have pretty good marriages and a relatively low divorce rate”

    Richard Dawkins, the most famous atheist in the world, has divorced two wives and is now on his third.

    • randal

      What could possibly be the general significance of this observation?

      My friend had a Honda that broke down several times. Is that evidence that you ought not buy Hondas?

      • Jouras

        Yep.

      • Just Wonderin’

        It’s significance is it’s a fact, whether you like it or not.

        Unlike unsubstantiated, non-factual numbers plucked from the air, such as “hundreds and hundreds have read” Stark’s free download.

    • Wonderin’ What’s Logical About your Arguments

      JUST WONDERIN’ wrote: Richard Dawkins, the most famous atheist in the world, has divorced two wives and is now on his third.

      REPLY: What does that have to do with the arguments in Thom’s two books that you refuse to reply to? What does it even have to do with the arguments in Dawkins’ books?

      Also, have you READ the Bible? Do you know what “Marriage Equals” according to the Bible? Here’s a chart for you: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=295508193798187&set=a.198925606789780.60172.100000170274871&type=1&theater

      • Just Wonderin’

        I never said it had anything to do with Stark’s free download — please try to pay attention.

        It’s a factual response to the unsubstantiated assertion: “By the way, atheists seem to have pretty good marriages and a relatively low divorce rate”

  • Just Wonderin’

    “I suggest you both get on with reading Thom’s too books so you can come up with some good questions for him, instead of pecking the ground in ignorance like Copan”

    And I suggest you compare Copan’s academic qualifications to Stark’s and see who comes out ahead, since you seem so concerned about calling well- published scholars at accredited universities “ignorant” (and maybe you can remind me where Stark teaches, and which professorship he holds?).

    • Robert

      Argument screens off authority. Qualifications are valuable, but truth is not handed out with diplomas.

      – I did unsubscribe, but got curious and came back for another round. Why do I punish myself? :-)

    • Walter

      You don’t determine truth by comparing degrees. I have read that over ninety percent of the members in the prestigious National Academy of Sciences do not believe in a personal God. Does that resolve the question of God’s existence? Of course not.

      I don’t care if Thom is in the tenth grade of high school or is a tenured Professor at a major university , he raises some very valid points that deserve more than a simple hand-wave dismissal.

      • Just Wonderin’

        “I don’t care if Thom is in the tenth grade of high school or is a tenured Professor at a major university”

        LOL. He’s not. Copan is. Yet apparently Copan is the “ignorant” one, when in actual fact he is the one whose books actually get published and people pay money to read them.

        “he raises some very valid points that deserve more than a simple hand-wave dismissal.”

        In your opinion. But that is precisely the point under debate.

    • Wonderin’ why you won’t read Stark and ask questions concerning his arguments

      JUST WONDERIN’ wrote: “I suggest you compare Copan’s academic qualifications to Stark’s.”

      REPLY: The point is compare their arguments, not their qualifications. Stark cites scholars whose qualifications in ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN BIBLICAL STUDIES far out weight Copan’s expertise in that area. And as Stark points out, Copan appears to misapply this scholarly source material.

      So read Stark and ask him some questions based on the arguments in his two books and quit stalling.

      • Just Wonderin’

        Precisely, so why don’t the Starkists stop the name-calling and the verbal abuse and start addressing the arguments? Maybe you should put your own house in order before pointing fingers?

  • Jouras

    Loftus is a liar, he has admitted that.

    So why should we believe the details about his “deconversion”? Did he really have this great faith that was destroyed by a big tits stripper and a frigid wife?

    In face, did he really have this great faith in the first place? Who knows? He is a liar and has admitted it.

    There is no logical folly involved in being suspicious of liars like him.

    Now, he does state his goal is the destruction of Christianity.

    Is that a lie? Well, his actions are consistent with trying to destroy Christianity.

    So, why does he promote THOM STARKS book?

    Is it because he just wants better understanding of the Bible, or because he wants to continue on his agenda of destroying Christianity.

    Its not diffficult to figue.

    And that is Thom’s goal too. People in bars have big ears Thom.

    • Jouras Keeps Braying Irrationally

      JOURAS wrote earlier: But I disagree with Steve if he means that because he had an affair then the arguments Loftus makes are invalid.

      REPLY: Fine, now DEAL WITH THE ARGUMENTS, Thom already has two books out. Pick an argument that Thom makes and address it.
      _______________

      JOURAS wrote: I do believe that Loftus is liar though, because he continued to preach after he no longer believed, and because of other things like making of blogs about people, etc.

      REPLY: A lot of preachers have doubts and continue to preach. Some have severe doubts and no longer believe as they once did. Loftus got out of the preaching business. That was honest of him. He’s also honestly expressing his current beliefs in his books.

      On the matter of the blog, yes, Loftus created a blog to reply to J.P. Holding, and he created it anonymously, or tried to maintain anonymity. And he lied about not being that blog’s creator. But before Loftus even tried to create such a blog he had been hounded for years by fans of J.P. who refused to show their true names or faces from “Frank Walton” to “Truth” something, to “The Discomfiter,” and others. There’s two such blogs right now I think both devoted to trying to discredit Loftus using every rhetorical and personal attack one can conceive of. When it was pointed out by Loftus on his blog that his home needed repair and that he’d spent so much time researching and editing his recent books that his other business wasn’t doing well, and was seeking contributions to get by, the attack blogs reposted the pics with the heading, Loftus’ House of Horrors. I won’t even get into the Discomfiter episode and the slanders spoken by that anonymous figure (Paul Manata it turned out to be). But none of these episodes have to do with particular arguments in Loftus’ books, and that last three books Loftus edited were contributor based, so the arguments are varied and by various people.

      SO WHY ARE YOU BRINGING UP LOFTUS SO MUCH WHEN THE POST WAS ABOUT COPAN AND STARK?
      _______________

      JOURAS wrote: So, how can we trust his “devonversion” story?

      REPLY: Deconversion stories are deconversion stories. They aren’t “holy writ.” But there are enough of them out there to make anyone aware that people’s beliefs, even of very devout people, can and do change.
      ________________

      JOURAS wrote: His goal now is to destroy Christianity. He promotes books on his site for that purpose. Thom’s is one of them. He’s throwing it right in your face.

      REPLY: What does any of that have to do with the actual arguments in Thom’s two books? Thom didn’t pluck his arguments out of thin air. He’s studied the OT, the Hebrew language, read a wall of biblical scholarship, and tried to help people like you (and Copan) understand what those scholars are saying. You should be thankful that at least somebody is trying to help educate people like yourself and challenge you to read and understand what the world’s top most scholars are saying about the OT and the NT too.

      Now please suggest some arguments that run counter to Thom’s on any subject raised in Thom’s two books.

      If you don’t have anything else to say except that you dislike a person (Loftus) who likes some but not all of Thom’s arguments in his books, then you have not made any argument at all. EVEN COPAN doesn’t argue like that. I give him credit for that. You’re acting less reasonably than the guy you’re trying to defend, Copan.

      • Just Wonderin’

        “What does any of that have to do with the actual arguments in Thom’s two books?”

        What do plucked-from-the-air claims of “hundreds and hundreds have read” the free download have to do with the actual arguments in Stark’s “review”?

        Honest answer you won’t give: the square root of damn all.

  • Jouras

    By the way, as of yesterday when I checked, Loftus has pictures of books that he believes will help destroy Christianity on his blog…on the right hand column.

    So far as I can tell, only one is pictured twice.

    Thom Stark’s.

    Of course, is just because John wants us all to “understand” the bible better.

    Sure, Johnny, Sure.

    • Walter

      Loftus sees Thom’s arguments as valid criticisms against typical evangelical apologetics. Loftus disagrees with Thom’s conclusions concerning God. John Loftus may very well wish for an atheist revival to sweep the world, but the pragmatist in him is probably pleased to at least see Christianity shift to the left to a more agnostic and less dogmatic faith.

    • Jouras Keeps Braying Irrationally

      JOURAS wrote earlier: But I disagree with Steve if he means that because he had an affair then the arguments Loftus makes are invalid.

      REPLY: Fine, now DEAL WITH THE ARGUMENTS, Thom already has two books out. Pick an argument that Thom makes and address it.
      ________________

      JOURAS wrote: Loftus has pictures of books that he believes will help destroy Christianity on his blog…on the right hand column. So far as I can tell, only one is pictured twice. Thom Stark’s.

      REPLY: What does any of that have to do with the actual arguments in Thom’s two books? Thom didn’t pluck his arguments out of thin air. He’s studied the OT, the Hebrew language, read a wall of biblical scholarship, and tried to help people like you (and Copan) understand what those scholars are saying. You should be thankful that at least somebody is trying to help educate people like yourself and challenge you to read and understand what the world’s top most scholars are saying about the OT and the NT too.

      Now please suggest some arguments that run counter to Thom’s on any subject raised in Thom’s two books.

      If you don’t have anything else to say except that you dislike a person (Loftus) who likes some but not all of Thom’s arguments, then you have not made any argument at all. EVEN COPAN doesn’t argue like that. I give him credit for that. You’re acting less reasonably than the guy you’re trying to defend, Copan.

    • Jouras isn’t even worth coveting (as in the commandment, do not covet they neighbor’s ass/donkey

      JOURAS wrote: Dawkins has been divorced twice.

      REPLY: SEE THE FOLLOWING EXAMPLES OF DIVORCE AMONG CHRISTIAN LEADERS

      Charles Stanley, well-known Southern Baptist pastor and former president of the SBC, recently went through a divorce.

      The wife of Ned Graham–son of Billy Graham, divorced him on the basis of “infidelity, domestic violence, and drug and alcohol abuse.” Ned is head of East Gate Ministries, which distributes Bibles in China, and he continues to be supported in that capacity by his famous father.

      Well-known Christian author Hal Lindsey has been divorced multiple times.

      Bob Larson is divorced. Many others could be mentioned.

      CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSICIANS
      Divorce among Contemporary Christian “artists” is rampant. Just a few of the divorced or separated CCM musicians are Sandi Patty, Deniece Williams, Sheila Walsh, John Talbot, Randy Stonehill, Larry Norman, Tom Howard, Ralph Carmichael, Steve Archer, Amy Grant and Gary Chapman (both Amy and Gary have gotten remarried since their 1997 divorce), Stacy Jones of the rap group Grits, and all of the members of the now disbanded Barnabas. Melody Green, widowed wife of Keith Green (who was killed in a plane crash in 1982), recently divorced her second husband, Andrew Sievright.

      CHARISMATICS
      Divorce is also rampant among Pentecostal-Charismatic leaders. Aimee Semple McPherson, founder of the Four Square Pentecostal Churches, was a divorced adulteress, as was famous Pentecostal evangelist Kathryn Kuhlmann.

      Richard Roberts, who is in the process of taking over the ministry of his father, Oral, divorced his first wife and married a Oral Roberts University student.

      Jim and Tammy Bakker (of the PTL Club) divorced.

      Jimmy Swaggart paid a prostitute on multiple occasions to give him a private strip show and even asked her if she would take money to have her daughter strip for him. The woman declined the second offer.

      In July 2007 two well-known Charismatic pastors got divorces (Ray McCauley of Johannesburg, South Africa, and Clarence McClendon of Los Angeles).

      John Jacobs, founder of the Power Team, was divorced from his wife of 16 years this summer. Hundreds of other Charismatics could be mentioned.

      FUNDAMENTAL BAPTISTS
      Pastor Peter Ruckman of Pensacola, Florida, is twice divorced and thrice married. He has written a booklet to justify his position.

      Pastor Jack Hyles has counseled divorced men to go into the pastorate and has encouraged others to stay in the pastorate after their divorces. Hyles calls adultery a “mistake”; and in his sermon “The Good Man Versus the Spiritual Man” (Dec. 20, 1987) Hyles said that the only difference between those who commit adultery and those who do not is that in the latter the sin of adultery is “in remission.”

      http://healtheland.wordpress.com/2007/04/20/divorce-is-rampant-among-christian-leaders/

      BUT THIS WAS SIMPLY A COUNTER TO YOUR IRRATIONAL ATTEMPTS TO DERAIL THE CONVERSATION AND THE CHALLENGING ARGUMENTS FOUND IN STARK’S BOOK THAT NEITHER YOU NOR COPAN HAVE RESPONDED TO. Read the books, pick an argument. Respond to it. Is that too much to ask?

      And even Copan does say the irrational stuff you do to try and get out of commenting on Stark’s arguments.

      • Just Wonderin’

        YOU WROTE:
        ***REPLY: SEE THE FOLLOWING EXAMPLES OF DIVORCE AMONG CHRISTIAN LEADERS

        Charles Stanley, well-known Southern Baptist pastor and former president of the SBC, recently went through a divorce.

        The wife of Ned Graham–son of Billy Graham, divorced him on the basis of “infidelity, domestic violence, and drug and alcohol abuse.” Ned is head of East Gate Ministries, which distributes Bibles in China, and he continues to be supported in that capacity by his famous father.

        Well-known Christian author Hal Lindsey has been divorced multiple times.

        Bob Larson is divorced. Many others could be mentioned.

        CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSICIANS
        Divorce among Contemporary Christian “artists” is rampant. Just a few of the divorced or separated CCM musicians are Sandi Patty, Deniece Williams, Sheila Walsh, John Talbot, Randy Stonehill, Larry Norman, Tom Howard, Ralph Carmichael, Steve Archer, Amy Grant and Gary Chapman (both Amy and Gary have gotten remarried since their 1997 divorce), Stacy Jones of the rap group Grits, and all of the members of the now disbanded Barnabas. Melody Green, widowed wife of Keith Green (who was killed in a plane crash in 1982), recently divorced her second husband, Andrew Sievright.

        CHARISMATICS
        Divorce is also rampant among Pentecostal-Charismatic leaders. Aimee Semple McPherson, founder of the Four Square Pentecostal Churches, was a divorced adulteress, as was famous Pentecostal evangelist Kathryn Kuhlmann.

        Richard Roberts, who is in the process of taking over the ministry of his father, Oral, divorced his first wife and married a Oral Roberts University student.

        Jim and Tammy Bakker (of the PTL Club) divorced.

        Jimmy Swaggart paid a prostitute on multiple occasions to give him a private strip show and even asked her if she would take money to have her daughter strip for him. The woman declined the second offer.

        In July 2007 two well-known Charismatic pastors got divorces (Ray McCauley of Johannesburg, South Africa, and Clarence McClendon of Los Angeles).

        John Jacobs, founder of the Power Team, was divorced from his wife of 16 years this summer. Hundreds of other Charismatics could be mentioned.

        FUNDAMENTAL BAPTISTS
        Pastor Peter Ruckman of Pensacola, Florida, is twice divorced and thrice married. He has written a booklet to justify his position.

        Pastor Jack Hyles has counseled divorced men to go into the pastorate and has encouraged others to stay in the pastorate after their divorces. Hyles calls adultery a “mistake”; and in his sermon “The Good Man Versus the Spiritual Man” (Dec. 20, 1987) Hyles said that the only difference between those who commit adultery and those who do not is that in the latter the sin of adultery is “in remission.”

        http://healtheland.wordpress.com/2007/04/20/divorce-is-rampant-among-christian-leaders/***


        What has any of this to do with Stark’s free download and the unsubstantiated claim that “hundreds and hundreds have read it” and therefore that Copan is obliged to reply to it for that reason?

        Please try to stick to topic and address the arguments.

  • Pitch

    Where did Jouras write that Dawkins was divorced twice?

    And who cares if Jouras is a jerk? The point is not that Loftus is divorced, the ooint is that he is a damned liar. He lies about why he “devonverted”, he fakes blogs. Etc.

    The point is, Thom Stark wants to destroy Christianity.

    As Jouras pointed out, Loftus displays pictures of some thirt anti christian and atheist books on his site.

    And Starks is among them. You thinks its just cause Loftus is looking for understanding? Are you that frigging stupid?

    Its because he and Stark have the same agenda.

    The truth will come out you ignorant saps.

    • Hey, Feverish Pitch

      Dear Feverish Pitch, You are correct,

      Wonderin’ is the one who wrote Dawkins was divorced twice.

      But the points made in my post stand even if they were misdirected at the wrong poster. Both Jouras and Wonderin’ and now you, Feverish Pitch, are attempting to sidetrack the conversation about Copan’s silence. Loftus? Atheism? Adultery? Get on whatever sidetrack you want and keep repeating it to avoid facing Thom’s arguments. In this you are all acting less rational than Copan whom you are trying to defend.

      Thom writes in his books things that the world’s top most scholars are currently discussing, pointing out Copan’s flawed understanding and fallacious arguments. Deal with those arguments, pick one from Thom’s two books. Instead of inventing excuses for not wanting to read Thom and for not wanting to direct your fine intellects at responding to some of his arguments.

      Also, you wrote that Loftus fakes blogs, plural? I only know of the one instance in which Loftus tried to create a blog that was questioning Holding’s arguments and Loftus tried to remain anonymous. He lied about being that blog’s creator, while all three of you folks are proving the point that Loftus has continued to be tracked and attacked on the web by anonymous Christians who want to turn anything and anyone into a conversation about Loftus being an apostate who lied about creating an anonymous blog. Woopie for you. Now get back on the topic and track of this blog entry and read Thom’s two books, and comment on his arguments instead of griping about Loftus.

      Thom’s book, The Human Faces of God, was also praised by biblical scholars including J.J. Collins. Look him up and his qualifications. Collins wrote the foreword to Thom’s first book. Greg Boyd and Tony Campolo are also names known in the Evangelical world who praised Thom’s book.

      If you don’t like Thom’s book, please note that Thom is far from being the only person pointing out questions. It was his reading of biblical scholarship in seminary that raised Thom’s awareness of such questions. Even Evangelicals are starting to ask more questions, ranging from questions about inerrancy to whether ot not an historical Adam and Eve existed.

      Christianity Today had a cover story recently about the debates going on within Evangelicalism (Thom has not said he is an Evangelical, though I don’t know about his youth), concerning whether or not an historical Adam and Eve ever existed. That’s a question Evangelicals are raising.

      And John Walton at Wheaton College has raised awareness among Evangelicals that the ancient Hebrew authors of the Bible most likely believed the earth was flat and water lay above a solid firmament, and heaven lay not far above the clouds. So you could read Walton.

      Or you could read Peter Enns (whose book on the Adam question is coming out early next year, a companion piece to his earlier book on the questions raised by the “inerrancy” proposition.

      Or there’s the book, God’s Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship by Kenton L. Sparks.

      Or there’s Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology by Gregory A. Boyd.

      Or there’s The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture by Christian Smith (not yet published).

      Apparently the beliefs of the above writers have undergone changes of one sort or another over time. Even J.P. Holding’s beliefs have changed over time. He used to believe that citinng OT prophecies “about Jesus” was a good apologetic. Now he says it is not. He used to believe hell was eternal torture, now he says it isn’t physical torture, and he added recently that he’s pretty sure 85% of everyone on earth will be saved. What a softie J.P. must be at heart, probably his Bahai upbringing finally reemerging with age. But even Billy Graham has grown softer with age, admitting that he didn’t know if even some atheists might not be in heaven.

      Whether or not the beliefs of such writrs concerning the Bible and Christianity change, or, some of the them leave Christianity entirely is up to them. Either way the questions are there for all to see, as well as a growing spectrum of opinion concerning a long list of questions raised by Evangelical theologians. And no amount of hypothetical answers to try and resolve such questions and make the Bible appear “inerrant” and “ethical” in all it says, seems likely of working.

      Neither are the believers in inerrancy capable of supplying inerrant answers to such questions. So really, what’s an “inerrant” Bible worth if it still raises questions, and if those who supply hypothetical answers to such questions are not themselves able to supply “inerrant” answers to them? That means the questions remain. You can read about some of them in Thom’s two books. And if you don’t like the one in which he responds to Copan’s arguments then I suggest you begin with Thom’s first book, The Human Faces of God.

      You guys are excuse monger machines, and avoidance apologists. I guess if you don’t read Thom you can hate him more and teach others to hate him as well, without getting to know him or read him, or try to understand his arguments or interact with them on a meaningful level.

      • Jouras

        Now JIS is Feverish Pitch. Just another liar for Loftus changing names on us; thats a tactic Loftus uses.

        As to Thom’s arguments?

        What about them? They are directed at destroying Christianity, while the sniveling weasel Thom acts like it just about understanding the bible.

        Balderdash. Its about destroying the Bible, thats why Loftus promotes it.

        Thom bellyaches about the tactics the Jews used. Too violent. Just too bad they lived in a culture that wanted to destroy them. He prefers the tactics they used in world war Two…quietly marching into the gas chamber.

        But it was the allies who had to use tactics to level whole cities, to incinerate and kill every man, woman, child, cat and dog in them to cripple the Nazi war machine.

        That was very nasty of them.

        The should have reasoned with the Nazis.

        The Jews were just to uppity in olden times.

        Thom does not like uppity Jews.

        He will be coming out by the end of next year. But I don’t hate him.

        Far from it. I simply despise him as I despise any double dealing weasel who is playing both sides of the game.

        He is nothing more than something I wipe I my shoe if I stop on doggie do. Like you.

        • http://winlb.wordpress.com ToonForever

          Nazis? Wow – you lose.

          I’ve counted, what, 12 or 13 rants? All of them fact free, and now you start calling Thom a Nazi anti-semite. You disgust me.

          Christian? I thought Christians weren’t supposed to lie. It’s amazing how un-Christian Christians become when their fairy-tale is under fire…

      • Just Wonderin’

        “Thom writes in his books things that the world’s top most scholars are currently discussing, pointing out Copan’s flawed understanding and fallacious arguments.”

        In your opinion. When are you going to supply some of the substantiating arguments that you keep demanding from others?

        “You guys are excuse monger machines, and avoidance apologists.”

        LOL. Because I asked for factual evidence of the “hundreds and hundreds” claim? Get real.

        “I guess if you don’t read Thom you can hate him more and teach others to hate him as well”

        But “four thousand” others are reading his free download, supposedly. Then again, maybe not. As for the “hatred”, please stick to the arguments and forget the amateur psychology.

  • Just Wonderin’

    “Thom took some heat however for some of the rhetorical flare in the original edition and so of course he revised it and put out a new edition in early July because he’s just that kind of guy.”

    From the name-calling and verbal abuse he engaged in in this thread before high-tailing it, it’s clear that he still hasn’t learned his lesson.

  • Just Wonderin’
  • Let’s change the name of this thread to

    Let’s change the name of this thread to

    “Christians avoid facing a single one of Thom’s arguments in either of his books, instead resort to calling Thom names.”

    Making excuses for Copan’s silence by keeping your own, and predicting that Thom will leave the fold? Even worse, claiming he is hiding something by not coming out atheist today?

    Thom is a man of reading and argumentation. You could learn a lot about the state of modern biblical scholarship in general from reading Thom’s books. Unfortunately neither you guys nor Copan want to learn anything.

    As for whether or not Thom will leave the fold, that’s his decision. He’s about as liberal as a theologian can be, but many librals remain in the fold. He’s in dialogue with the Bible and views the Biblical authors as being in dialogue with each other as well. In the “beginning was the argument,” as he says in the first chapter of The Human Face of God. And he points out examples in which different biblical authors held different opinions and were arguing with each other’s views on this or that issue. It’s a fascinating book based on mainstream biblical scholarship.

    • Just Wonderin’

      “Thom is a man of reading and argumentation.”

      LOL. And, as we’ve seen in this thread, a nasty name-caller when challenged.

      • TruthOverfaith

        Just Wonderin’

        Perhaps you should try “Just Thinking” for a change.

        • Just Wonderin’

          Perhaps you could try addressing the issue I’ve raised for a change?

          Or does silence imply defeat, leaving you with nothing but cheap, meaningless personal jibes? Take my advice, leave those to Thom Stark.

    • Just Wonderin’

      Actually, we should change the name of this thread to: “I claim, without evidence, that a lot of people have read Stark’s free download, therefore Copan is morally obliged to respond to it in the same format and same detail as Stark’s “review”.”

  • http://www.angelfire.com/linux/vjtorley/index.html Vincent Torley

    Hi Randal,

    Thought you might like this. It’s my take on the slaughter of the Canaanites, and it has a new twist.

    http://www.angelfire.com/linux/vjtorley/dawkins.html

    If you can alert Dawkins or one of his friends, that would be great. Thanks.

    Best wishes,

    Vincent

    • randal

      This is an outstanding list of well documented charges. I hope people follow the link to read it, for it is quite damning. Thanks Vincent.

    • TruthOverfaith

      Vincent,

      You appear to have far too much time on your hands.

      The fact that you felt compelled to spend the necessary time to try and “catch” Richard Dawkins in some kind of lie or misstatement, regarding why he refuses to debate a particular religious nutbag, and then list them in a blog post is rather bizarre.

      Do you have a particular fixation on Mr. Dawkins for some reason?

      Why do you care why Dawkins refuses to debate any particular religious nutbag?(And Craig is, indeed, a nutbag of the highest magnitude-he almost makes Kirk Cameron appear sane. Almost.)

      • randal

        This is the lamest response I’ve seen in a long time. Ignore the documentation and just insult the person. Why do you bother to post such trite insults? You appear to have far too much time on your hands.

        • TruthOverfaith

          Randal said “This is the lamest response I’ve seen in a long time.”

          Perhaps you should try reading your own posts?

          • Just Wonderin’

            Perhaps you should stop the trolling?

            • http://leadme.org Jeff

              “Perhaps you should stop the trolling?” -Just Wonderin’

              The most hilarious comment yet.

              • Just Wonderin’

                Another Starkinista with nothing to contribute except personal attacks.

                • http://leadme.org Jeff

                  All in fun, JW, all in fun! You gotta admit, that comment was a bit funny coming from you, right? Or have you been making a sincere effort at dialogue here?

                  • Just Wonderin’

                    More sincere than you, evidently.

                  • http://leadme.org Jeff

                    JW, I think you’d find that most of us “Starkinistas” are more than happy to have a sincere conversation about the content of Stark’s and Copan’s arguments.

                    • Just Wonderin’

                      It’s this blogger’s fallacious argument that I’ve been addressing. Appeals to address other people’s arguments are just a smokescreen to divert attention away from that.

  • TruthOverfaith

    And then Jesus came upon his disciples and said, “What’s this shit I’m hearing about a human sacrifice!!? What kind of Neanderthal bullshit is that!? What are we, living in the fucking Stone Age!!?
    Blood sacrifice!!!!! Have you lost your goddamned minds!!!?”

    And his disciples responded, “Ummm, come again, Master?”

    • Just Wonderin’

      “And then Jesus came upon his disciples and said, “What’s this shit I’m hearing about a human sacrifice!!? What kind of Neanderthal bullshit is that!? What are we, living in the fucking Stone Age!!?
      Blood sacrifice!!!!! Have you lost your goddamned minds!!!?””

      I can certainly see why you’re a defender of Thom Stark.

      • TruthOverfaith

        @Just Wonderin’

        Thanks so much for taking time away from your gerbil experiments and your Michele Bachmann newsletter to comment.

        Kirk Cameron was wondering when you were going to be through using his brain?

        And then Jesus said, “Praise me, praise me, praise my holy name. The rest is total donkey shit. Amen”

  • Just Wonderin’

    Stark seems to attract supporter-trolls like you.

  • Jim Moore

    Hey, ‘Just Wonderin’ sounds an awful lot like the infamous Alan of Rhoblogy fame. Same tenacious, “bite and hold until dead” approach to argumentation. He appears to have attracted the support of “Steve,” most likely the infamous Steve Hays of Triablogue. Dealt with these gentlemen before and the posts here seem to carry several of their signature traits. And when one of the Triablogue group gets into a big dustup on another site there is a good chance others will show up to support him. Come on, Just Wonderin,’ are you a Triabloguer operating incognito?

    To be fair, I’m the infamous ‘Dean Dough.’ And yes, now you know my real name.

    • Just Wonderin’

      “Dealt with these gentlemen before”

      Nope, you haven’t. Now how about addressing the points under discussion instead of playing juvenile guess-the-poster games?

      • Jim Moore

        OK, so either you are a Triabloguer with an idiosyncratic definition of “deal with” or you don’t know what you’re talking about. Either one rules out dealing with the issue at hand as far as I’m concerned.

        For everyone else who happens to read this blog, if you encounter a Triabloguer in a combox conducting him/herself as “Just Wunderin'” has, the best response is to ignore, ignore, ignore.

        • Just Wonderin’

          “the best response is to ignore, ignore, ignore.”

          LOL. So why aren’t you ignoring? Or did you just come here to post a trivial hit-and-run ad hominem?

  • Just Wonderin’

    Funny how people who see nothing odd about a 300-page book review can, without sensing the tiniest little bit of irony, accuse Vincent Torley of having far too much time on his hands!

  • http://www.paulcopan.com Paul Copan

    Hi, Randal. One can think of a few other reasons than the ones you mentioned: (3) Paul Copan has a wife and six children; (4) this summer his wife experienced a herniated disc, had to have surgery in late September, and continues to need time to recover; (5) Copan’s 86 year-old mother-in-law lives with his family and requires care; (6) Copan has a number of book-editing and book-writing projects that are either in progress or have been significantly delayed or postponed; (7) Copan has a full-time job; (8) Copan just got word of this blog conversation yesterday (:). The list goes on, but in the meantime, Merry Christmas to all!

    • randal

      Thanks for those additional reasons Paul. It reminded me of this scene in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7L-7XREY08
      not because your reasons were threatening like Lucy’s but simply because after I read them I echoed Linus: “those are good reasons!”

    • randal

      At the same time I do think Thom has presented a tremendously important critique and you should place it as high on your priority list as possible.

      • Just Wonderin’

        Your opinion is noted. Strange, though, that it’s supposedly such a tremendously important critique yet Stark can’t find a publisher for it but has had to give it out for free . . .

        • randal

          Where did you hear that Stark was looking for a publisher of the manuscript?

  • Just Wonderin’

    If it was any good, publishers would be *coming to him* for it . . .

    • randal

      Not only do you know nothing about the publishing industry but your comment about Thom spoken out of ignorance is, to say the least, hypocritical.

      • Just Wonderin’

        As usual, you resort to ad hominem (just like your buddy Stark, though you are less foul-mouthed than he is).

        So . . . Dr. Copan has no trouble getting published and is currently working on several books for various publishers. Whereas Stark can’t get his diatribe in print anywhere, except via vanity e-book/free download. And yet I’m the ignorant one, according to you. Thankfully, these facts speak for themselves.

        • randal

          Apparently you don’t understandc the charge of ad hominem very well. It is an unjustified attack on the individual’s character instead of their argument. There are two reasons I didn’t do that. First, you’ve never had an argument to attack. Second, you contradicted your own maxim and thereby became a hypocrite. For however many dozen posts you have defended in the most pedantic way imaginable the claim that in order to believe p you must have evidence for p (or something like that). And then you went and made a claim about Stark seeking a publisher with no evidence whatever.

          And then you deepen the irony by attacking my character as a way of deflecting my justified criticism against you. So not only are you hoist by the petard of your own claim, you are also hoist by the petard of your own charge against me. That’s absolutely rich!

          • Just Wonderin’

            That’s right, Stark doesn’t want a publisher. After all, no would-be scholar could possibly want to see his would-be scholarship published, eh?

            Of course he would like his diatribe in print, rather than having to pathetically offer it as a free download to anyone willing to take it.

            As for ad hominem, all you have done on this entire thread is attack Copan and anyone who disagrees with you on this issue. Where in the entire thread have you addressed the arguments in Copan’s book? Nowhere is the only honest answer.

            • randal

              “Where in the entire thread have you addressed the arguments in Copan’s book?”

              I already reviewed his book over several blog posts.

              • Just Wonderin’

                And I have commended it elsewhere. Of course, Stark’s “book” is impossible to review, as review copies don’t exist!

        • Walter

          Thom’s work must really be threatening to your fragile faith, since you are trying hard to discredit Thom by ad hominems (by playing the credentials card). You are right about one thing though: facts do speak for themselves, and objective facts don’t change regardless of the fact-giver’s credentials.

          • Just Wonderin’

            I can tell you’re a Starkinista — like the rest of them you’ve failed to address a single argument from Copan’s book!

            • Morrison

              Stark is working at destroying Christianity, while pretending he is not.

              Only self deluded idiots will deny this.

              Its an excellent tactic. Think of the damage ex preachers like John Loftus and Dan Barker could have done if they had stayed in the chruch.

              Stark is just smarter about it than they are.

              • Just Wonderin’

                I think he’ll have to get published first.

            • http://leadme.org Jeff

              JW, now you’re suddenly so interested in discussing Stark’s and Copan’s arguments? Then what of this previous exchange here:

              Me: “JW, I think you’d find that most of us “Starkinistas” are more than happy to have a sincere conversation about the content of Stark’s and Copan’s arguments.”

              You: “It’s this blogger’s fallacious argument that I’ve been addressing. Appeals to address other people’s arguments are just a smokescreen to divert attention away from that.”

              Stop trolling and go do something more productive with your time.

              • Just Wonderin’

                You might want to take your own advice. I have been posting about this blogger’s claim that Copan is somehow obliged to respond at length to Stark’s free download because, the blogger claims, “hundreds and hundreds” of people have supposedly read Stark’s download. But the blogger, when challenged, could produce zero evidence to support this claim, and admitted it.

                And what have you been posting about on this thread? Just a sad series of ad hominems. Go get a life buddy.

            • http://leadme.org Jeff

              Morrison, whatever Stark’s motives may or may not be, that’s completely irrelevant to whether it is his or Copan’s arguments which are more persuasive. The juvenile “defenses” of Copan, such as yours, that have littered this thread are a disservice to everyone here. Perhaps most notably to Copan himself.

              • Just Wonderin’

                You would know a lot about “juvenile defenses.”

                • http://leadme.org Jeff

                  JW, do you think Copan is grateful for your efforts here?

                  • Just Wonderin’

                    Why do you think this blogger is grateful for yours?

                    • randal

                      I don’t know who this mythical blogger you always refer to is, but Jeff rocks.

                  • http://leadme.org Jeff

                    Randal can speak for himself, and has. Copan thus far has chosen not to respond substantively to Stark, so all we’re left with is boring, evasive responses such as your own. You are doing much more to hurt Copan’s case than to help it.

                    • Just Wonderin’

                      Talking about boring, evasive responses — when are you going to stop repeating yourself? If you’ve nothing to add other than petty name-calling, wouldn’t your time be better spent acquainting yourself with the issues?

  • MGT2

    I am just making sure I do not miss Copan’s response when he gets around to it.

  • Just Wonderin’

    “I don’t know who this mythical blogger you always refer to is”

    On the contrary, you know perfectly well.

    “but Jeff rocks.”

    Yes, it doesn’t surprise me that you express childish adoration for anyone willing to support your non-empirical claims.

  • Justin

    I have not read Copan’s book and I only read a small section on Stark’s. I must have read a bad chapter of his book because the logical flaws were everywhere. Particularly strawmen fallacies. I did not think the book was worth reading as I thought I would have to spend more time fallacy hunting then reading. Time’s too short for that unless I wanted to respond to him. Now I hear that many think Stark’s critique destroyed Copan’s book! The only way I see that is if Copan’s book was one of the worst books ever. Even if Copan’s book was full of fallacies, using fallacies to argue against fallacies is not intelligence. Possibly I should read both books.

    • randal

      Justin, can you list some of the “logical flaws” you found “everywhere”? Perhaps a dozen would suffice to make your point. Including page references.

  • Justin

    I will look and provide that later (been a while since I read the chapter) One that comes to mind is he uses an argument from ignorance. He says something to the effect that the Canaanites did not receive any warning of their impending doom. How would Stark know this? Sure, it is not mentioned in the Bible but what is written in the Bible is hardly exhaustive history. Stark merely asserts a baseless claim. However, it does seem that the Canaanites did know something. (Joshua 5:1) Rahab seemed to have understood something of these Israelites. (Joshua 2) Not only is Stark’s assertion baseless, it goes against the little evidence we have on this particular subject.

    If you want, I can go through and find more logical fallacies in this chapter. If I was indeed to find 12 as you requested, this would indeed be a horrendous book and you should stop focusing on Copan and instead laugh at Stark’s book. 12 in one chapter would truly be astounding. I might go through this for fun as it was obvious to me that Stark did not have must focus on logic but a big focus on rhetoric. Logical fallacies are easy to find in such a contextual environment.

    Anyways, if this was not already provided Copan has responded. Here is the link

    http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2011/06/is-god-a-moral-monster-revisited-preliminary-replies-to-thom-stark/

    Copan is planning to write a second edition which will address some points that Stark presented.

    • randal

      Justin, please don’t work off your memory (as you say, it’s “been a while since [you] read the chapter”) of what you think Thom said or suggested.

      Quote the actual passage. Thanks

  • Justin

    The above fallacy quote:
    “One would think that that would have been the ideal time to send a prophet to them, before their hearts were so hardened that they could no longer repent.”

    Argument from Ignorance. Prophets were often raised by God inside a country such as Egypt or Babylon. Did the same thing happen to Canaan? I don’t know and Stark doesn’t as well.

    “Also fortunate for Israel was that everybody else, even those just a few miles outside the borders of Canaan, well, they were pretty cool cats.”

    This is a Strawman. Of course, the Promised Land was part of the equation. But, as the Passover of Egypt demonstrated, God did not ignore other nations. Stark build from the first fallacy to get to this fallacy. God never ignored other nations because they were “cool cats”. However, Albright says, ““We are as yet in no position to say that the Northwestern Semites were more ‘depraved’ (from a Yahwist point of view) than the Egyptians, Mesopotamians and Hittites, but it is certainly true that human sacrifice lasted much longer among the Canaanites and their cogeners than in either Egypt or Mesopotamia. The same situation seems to hold true for sexual abuses in the service of religion, for both Egypt and–on the whole–Mesopotamia seemed to have raised the standards in this area at a much earlier date than was true in Canaan.”

    “Of course, what Copan fails to realize is that at this stage in Israel’s history, Yahweh was believed to have been a junior mem-ber of this very same Canaanite pantheon.”

    Stark here contradicts himself. He says Canaan knew nothing of the coming destruction yet knew the God of Israel. This would show that they knew the basic morality of God, yet acted against this knowledge by offering children sacrifices for example. They would also know that this God will not turn a blind eye to such things. They would also know that their land was Promised to Israel. Therefore, when Israel came a knocking they knew. They chose to follow false gods instead. A contradiction like this is a serious logical flaw.

    I have only gone through 3 pages and have found 3 fallacies, 2 major and one minor. Three fallacies in 3 pages makes me surprised that anyone takes Stark’s work seriously. It all makes for good rhetoric which seems meaningful to some, but hardly adds anything credible.

    Should I search for more?

    • randal

      Justin, first you need to provide page numbers. No reader can benefit from a critique that quotes sentences without the surrounding context.

      Second, you’re begging the whole question against Thom by assuming that the text is a reliable historical narrative of the events it narrates. Thom is arguing on the contrary that it is an ideologically driven narrative which is not a reliable account of historical events. To be blunt, the only argument from ignorance here is your ignorance of (a) what Thom is arguing and (b) of your own uncritical and undefended assumptions about the text.

  • Just Wonderin’

    “they were pretty cool cats”

    Now that’s what I call scholarly writing. No wonder he can’t find a publisher.

  • Justin

    The page numbers starts at page 209 and go to 212. But I wasn’t writing a scholarly review. But, I will remember to include the page numbers in the future.

    If you read my responses closer I did not say Stark committed a fallacy by not interpreting the Bible literally. The argument from ignorance was because Stark said that there was no one to warn Canaan of their impending doom, yet provides no reason that I can see for knowing that. It might not be mentioned in the Bible but that does not mean it did not happen. Notice this argument of mine has nothing to do with how you interpret Scripture. He can interpret Scripture anyway he wants and still his argument is an argument from ignorance.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance

    Saying “To be blunt, the only argument from ignorance here is your ignorance of (a) what Thom is arguing and (b) of your own uncritical and undefended assumptions about the text.” does nothing to invalidate my point. Plus, your point (b) seems very out of place. This discussion is about Thom’s writing, not my “assumptions about the text”. I haven’t had any reason to give a defense of my assumptions and so I should hardly be criticized that I did not. If I ever give a defense of my “uncritical and undefended assumptions about the text” then you are free to comment on them. As your statement stands, it is a non-sequitur. I cannot know how you can know whether my assumptions are “uncritical and undefended”. Unless you can read my mind. Are you able to do that? All you have from me is negative appeals, you have no positive apologetic of mine as far as I know.

    • randal

      “The argument from ignorance was because Stark said that there was no one to warn Canaan of their impending doom, yet provides no reason that I can see for knowing that. It might not be mentioned in the Bible but that does not mean it did not happen.”

      Justin, Thom’s interlocutor is the biblical text. If you want to talk about what actually happened, most archaeologists and ANE scholars do not accept the historical narrative of Joshua. They believe it is an ideological text that was compiled hundreds of years later. There are solid archaeological and textual reasons for believing this and Thom has discussed some of them.

      For that reason it is completely beside the point to suggest that something in history could have happened when the history of the entire narrative is called into question.

      Thom is rendering his opinions on Joshua as an ideological text which is intending to forward a particular viewpoint. His argument is rooted in the data of the text.

      You, on the other hand, are forwarding an argument from silence that evinces a complete misunderstanding of the nature of the debate.

      • Just Wonderin’

        “most archaeologists and ANE scholars do not accept . . . ”

        Oh well, that settles it then. Argument based on: ‘(supposedly) great numbers of scholars support me, therefore I must be right’. Logical fallacy anyone?

        Of course, once again, if he was asked to cite empirical statistics of scholars who support him and those who don’t, he would — once again — have zero verifiable figures at his fingertips.

        This blogger is great at making up statistics.

    • Just Wonderin’

      Well said. This blogger has nothing but made-up figures and ad hominems (invariably accusations of other people’s ignorance) in response.

  • Justin

    Just Wonderin’

    Ya, this book seems full of rhetorical genius like this.

  • Josh

    I’m very late to this discussion, but I am surprised to see Randal make these statements.

    Copan had already responded to Thom Stark on the Credo House Ministries website three months before Randal leveled these accusation against him.

    Paul Copan’s response was not long-winded but very satisfying. I was impressed with how graciously he handled it and will be wishing him the best of luck with his work.

    If he does not wish to write a book in response to Stark, I would not hold it against him.

    It would be nice of you, Randal, if you retract some of the incorrect statements you made in this post, just so people don’t get the wrong impression.

    • randal

      I would ask people to read Thom’s expansive critique and then read Paul’s very, very terse response, and then come to their own conclusions about whether Paul adqeuately addressed Thom’s critique.

      • Josh

        Fourteen paragraphs wouldn’t be terse. You can’t throw 300 pages at someone and then make insinuations about them just because they don’t write a book in response. It seems intellectually dishonest.

        Is it because he’s a conservative?

        In any case, it looks like he took the high road and is updating his book, which means Stark did make some valid points.

        As for me, I just couldn’t get through Stark’s book. Statements like

        “If Yahweh’s idea of wooing a lover is to strike her with plagues, to kill her children, and the like, then Yahweh has issues.”

        take away any sense of credibility that Stark might have had as a scholar, and unfortunately justify Copan’s indifference.

        If someone’s criticism of my work sounded like something someone would say in a high-school cafeteria, I wouldn’t bother with it either.

        • Just Wonderin’

          >>It seems intellectually dishonest.

          Agreed.

          >>Is it because he’s a conservative?

          Very probably.

          >>As for me, I just couldn’t get through >>Stark’s book.

          My point exactly: thousands of free downloads means very little, as almost no-one may have actually read it, or read more than a few sentences/ paragraphs, or a chapter or two. When you pay money for a book like Paul Copan’s, you tend to actually read it.

          >>If someone’s criticism of my work >>sounded like something someone would >>say in a high-school cafeteria, I >>wouldn’t bother with it either.

          Precisely.

    • Just Wonderin’

      I’m surprised at Randal too; he’s usually quite rational.

      Indeed, if you want succinct and to the point, read Paul Copan; if you want verbose and long-winded, read Thom Stark.

  • Josh

    The least Randal could have done was acknowledge that Copan did respond, while maintaining his position that the response was inadequate.

    After all, an inadequate response is still a response. And Copan’s response was sitting on the internet for a while when Randal suggested to his readers that Copan didn’t respond.

    For me, the question is- did Randal make this post not knowing of Copan’s response? Or did he know that Copan made a response, but still tell his audience he didn’t?

    Randal, let me know. I’m curious.