Yesterday I spent an afternoon trying to help John Loftus figure out what his argument is. It was a laborious exercise, to be sure, but it did have a reward. And the reward was that it became clear John didn’t actually have an argument in the first place.
So here’s the rundown of what happened since. I posted the link to my analysis on John’s website with a request that he explain the meaning of the tortured first premise of his argument, and then waited. And waited. And then I prodded him gently, asking him again to reply. Finally he did:
“Randal, I love giving you enough rope to hang yourself. I tempt Christians like you to show your true colors. Thanks for doing that in this case.”
Wow, this vacuous rhetoric was surprising, even by John’s lofty (or should I say “Loftusy”?) standards. No articulation of his argument. Just a bizarre claim that he “tricked” me into showing my “true colors”. (Yes, I admit it. I prefer non-opaque and non-prolix premises.) All that was missing was the obligatory “Bwahahaha!”
There was so much I could have said here. But I restrained the temptation to put the spotlight on John’s ridiculous comment because doing so would potentially take away from the main fact that he was still refusing to articulate his argument. So instead I provided a minimalistic reply with a touch of sarcasm and a dollop of irony:
“Yes John. I’m hanging myself. And while I’m swinging from the rafters maybe you could explain what your argument is.”
John replied soon after by attacking my character again:
“You really are not an honest person with your faith, are you? And you do not even realize it. Wow! You are one of the most deluded Christians on the planet.
“You should be congratulated, or something.”
I immediately replied:
“John, it seems like you’re much more comfortable insulting people than articulating the premises of your argument. But my neck is beginning to hurt with the rope that I used to hang myself, so could you please suppress your tendency to insult for a moment and instead articulate your argument?
“You’re not afraid to do so, are you?”
I guess he was afraid, because he refused to say anything after that.
So here we are. John often makes outrageous claims that beg closer analysis. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to call him to account for every one of them. But I did take the time to do so in this case and found that he did, in fact, have absolutely no intellectual ammunition to back up his rollicking claim.
The lesson, however, extends far beyond John Loftus. How often do people make claims that rest not on the foundations of a valid logical superstructure of concise, clear and plausibly true premises, but rather on an invalid, prolix, opaque skeleton of rust and dripping oil?