By Dave Armstrong (1-15-11)
DagoodS' words will be in blue; Vinny's in green; Jon's in purple.
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With Enemies like this; who needs Friends?[Posted on 1-13-11; 11:38 AM]
It could actually be a fun dialogue without the pseudo-paranoid schtick. :-)
You're the one who basically called Christian apologists en masse a pack of liars. But when I turn the tables and call you on it (and this ain't over yet) then it turns into an avalanche of non sequitur nonsense and insult.
In the future, perhaps you'd be well-advised to simply refrain from making the dumb, sweeping statement (thus setting yourself up for a fall). It was the very extremity of the statement that drove my intellectual curiosity, in order to disprove it.
Serious research that investigates the opinion of 150 years ago takes a little time. Or didn't you know that (so you think mocking and waxing ridiculous is in order until I can produce some names)?
Which might be intriguing if he was actually interested in a discussion,
It's fascinating that our atheist friend now says he is interested in discussion, when the paper of his that I critiqued was an indictment of standard Christian apologetics as incessant, relentless "lying." I'm quite happy to discuss anything, but let's not forget the polemically supercharged paper that I was responding to. There was no particular desire for discussion there. Instead, we got the insinuation that Christians are basically liars and special pleaders and that atheists are honest and objective seekers after truth. Nothing new: it's the same old atheist canard of demonization of opponents. At one time I thought DagoodS was above this sort of garden-variety "angry atheist" tactic, but no more.
or presented a coherent argument.
Readers may judge whether it is or not. But simply proclaiming that one offered no argument is hugely different from actually refuting it.
Alas, after removing the condescending sneers, attempted insults and entire civilizations of strawpeople made out of my claims;
Colorful false characterizations, but no substance . . .
the little left is so insubstantial a butterfly’s fart would rip through it.
Interesting imaginative touch . . . perhaps DagoodS should try his hand at poetry?
Most times, I figure it is obvious, why bother responding?
I wonder that many times, myself, in replying to DagoodS . . .
Perhaps, though, it would be instructive as to how apologists work…
Yep; we conniving, scheming, wicked apologists have quite the devious method!
I wrote a a blog entry stating:
As I deconverted, I would read the non-believer’s position. Then I would read the believer’s position. Time and time again, I found the believer’s position to be based on non-truth.Not exactly “Headline of the Day” material! Christians claim skeptics once said Hittites didn’t exist. Hittites DID exist. Therefore, (the thinking seems to go) we need not trust skeptics because they were wrong once—they will be wrong again.
I heard the statement how skeptics once claimed Hittites didn’t exist, but it turns out they did. Not true—no skeptic said this.
But of course, this was not how my thinking went at all. It's not rocket science. Here is what actually occurred:
1) Christians claim skeptics once said Hittites didn’t exist. 2) DagoodS claims they are "lying" when doing so.
3) DagoodS claims that "no skeptic said this."
4) Dave sets out to prove that skeptics did say this at one time.
5) Therefore the Christian apologists are not "lying" about the skeptics of old.
5) But DagoodS is lying about whether Christians have been lying about the old skeptics.
I've laid out all this already, but because DagoodS seems to have the most extreme difficulty in comprehending my arguments (and repeating them back to me and all our readers), it is good to set it out in perhaps a more understandable format.
But…as it turns out…we can never find these supposed skeptics who claimed the Hittites didn’t exist. Where are these alleged skeptics? What are their names; where can we find the quotes? My source for this information is Peter Kirby’s article that likewise demonstrates we cannot find this supposed “skeptic” who stated, “The Hittites didn’t exist.”
I eventually provided 16 names of higher critics and current-day "biblical minimalists." It is more difficult to find bald statements that "the Hittites didn't exist" for a variety of reasons. It's very old material (before 1881, for the most part); a great deal would be in German (since Germany was the hotbed of "higher criticism"); like much of theological liberalism, the language is highly nuanced and not given to succinct statements of this sort. The bulk of the evidence involves a characterization of the early narratives in the Bible as fiction; therefore, this would include the Hittites among many other alleged myths (such as Abraham, etc.). In other words, if Genesis is a "myth," then the stories and reports of the Hittites recorded therein are also myths, as opposed to historical fact.
The best ironclad proof at this point appears to be editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica prior to and including 1881. My task is to track them down. If the reputed quote about the Hittites as "a mythological civilization mentioned only in the Bible" turns out to be accurate, then this pseudo-"debate" is completely over.
Now you may think this a fairly innocuous statement; but not Dave Armstrong! This…THIS…is proof positive I am a liar.
I didn't call DagoodS a "liar." One tires of this disregard for accuracy in reporting opposing views. I never used the terminology of "liar" in my paper or in any combox remarks. "Liar" means "one who regularly engages in deception," etc. I stated that he "lied" when he wrote about Christian apologetics as he did (in other words, I turned the tables, but only in this particular, not in any sweeping sense). The huge charge of being "liars" as a character defect are all on his side. I do not return that insult. But DagoodS seems to think I did, because (it seems) he is projecting his attitude onto me.
1) DagoodS wrote the article entitled, "Why lying is not convincing," not I.
2) It was DagoodS characterized Christian apologetics in the following terms in his article: "You think lying (and that is what it is, once you know it to be false) is O.K. if it gets the point across?"
3) DagoodS chose to write, "I understand people bristle at the accusation of 'Liar'" -- thus making his accusation quote clear.
4) DagoodS decided to link his statement in #3 to another like-minded article, called "The Case Against Lee Strobel," where the author (Andrew), states, among other charitable and complimentary things:
. . . as a person, I think he has absolutely no scruples.5) DagoodS in the present post that I am critiquing (above), chose to reveal one of his sources for his position: an article by Peter Kirby entitled, "Hittites and the Legendary Critics," where the author informs us: "When it comes to the nineteenth century opinion of critics who denied the existence of the Hittites, it is a legend that has developed because of its congeniality to apologetic concerns."
. . . Christians should be aware of the fact that Strobel is a liar, . . .
I find him to be thoroughly disingenuous.
The Case For A Creator is one big series of lies, . . .
All this, yet now he loudly claims that I am treating him and atheists and skeptics the same way. I clearly am not. I'm far more charitable in my remarks about them than DagoodS is toward Christian apologists.
Indeed, he notes since I used the unqualified term, “no skeptic” all he has to do is produce one (1) “prominent skeptic (professor, etc.)” [his words] who denied the Hittites’ existence and he has proven my contention incorrect.
That's right. There is no question that he is already prove incorrect, from the cumulative evidences. All we need is one flat-out undeniable statement that has everything DagoodS requires in it. I think that won't be far off. I'm getting "warmer and warmer."
He has proven me…a liar!
Here we go again with the "liar" thing. I don't use that terminology. Just because DagoodS freely throws around the accusation, it doesn't follow that I have the same view.
And so…after spending “many hours trying to track some down” [his words], Mr. Armstrong wrote a monster 4,000 word blog entry (that’s 8 pages single-spaced) where all he has to do is produce one (1) prominent skeptic who denied the Hittites’ existence.
Go read it, if you like. I’d only ask one thing after you do so—what is the name of that one (1) prominent skeptic who specifically claimed, “Hittites didn’t exist”? See, after removing all the fluff and bibliographies and muddling about, Dave Armstrong fails to do the one thing he needs to do—produce the skeptic!
Oh, he gives examples of specific people claiming “someone” said Hittites didn’t exist—but those people don’t provide names for those skeptics, either.
But the ones who say this are quite reputable archaeologists, orientalists, etc., so it is responsible to take their word for the previous state of affairs in their own fields. Granted, it is far better to have actual statements, but testimony to the existence of a school of extreme biblical criticism is not meaningless or worthless.
Let’s see if I have this straight-- I am stating, “People claim skeptics once said, ‘Hittites didn’t exist’ but do not provide the names of these alleged skeptics.” Dave Armstrong then gives examples of people claiming “Skeptics once said, ‘Hittites don’t exist,’” but do not provide the names of the alleged skeptics.
I'm getting closer and closer. I have several names; I just need exact quotations from them.
Yeah…um…probably not the best way to argue against a claim…by solely giving repeated examples of exactly what the claim is saying! Of course, in the end, Dave Armstrong decides he will believe the Christians who assert “some [unnamed] skeptic once said, ‘Hittites didn’t exist,’” which (to Dave Armstrong) means the Hittite-not-existing skeptic did exist,
I don't divide credentialed scholars into Christians and atheists when it comes to the simple reporting of a fact of past history in one's own field.
which means he has produced a prominent skeptic (albeit we don’t know who it is), which makes me a liar.
T. K. Cheyne is one; though he is not an absolute skeptic as to their existence.
Thus the reason discussion is no longer fruitful with him.
The reason it is not "fruitful" for DagoodS (as in the past, in my runarounds with him) are because 1) I disagree with him, and 2) he approaches discussion with so many polemical tendencies that fruitful discussion (by its very definition) is made quite difficult from the outset.
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I would think that in order to qualify as a "skeptic who denied the Hittites," a person would have to cite the non-existence of the Hittites as proof of the inaccuracy of the Old Testament. If everyone who has ever generally questioned the historicity of the Old Testament is a "skeptic who denied the Hittites," then I would qualify as well even though I have never given a moment's thought to whether the Hittites existed or not.
It's simple logic:
1) Six early books of the Bible contain 27 references to the Hittites.
2) Skeptic denies that these six books are historical, or thinks they are mostly mythical / legendary, etc.
3) Therefore, before the time of the confirming archaeological discoveries (mostly after 1875): when most of the higher critics above lived, to deny the historicity of those accounts, was to deny the historicity of the Hittites, since at that time, only the Bible had any information at all about them.
You virtually equate two propositions that are not the same at all:
A) "skeptic who denied the Hittites,"
B) one who cites the non-existence of the Hittites as proof of the inaccuracy of the Old Testament.
The two are clearly not the same. You say that in order to qualify as A one has to deny B. But to deny X is different from "asserting X as proof of Y." The second is not necessary in order for the first to be true. The question at hand was A, not B.
DagoodS claimed that Christian apologists have been lying for years about skeptics in the past having denied the existence of the Hittites. I showed that these skeptics did indeed do that (mostly before 1875).
Therefore, these apologists were not lying or woefully ignorant. They report a thing that actually happened. Granted, they usually don't document who said this (which made it a lot of work for me to track this stuff down, though if I had thought to search "higher critics" earlier, it would have been a much quicker process), but that is not absolutely essential or necessary to maintain their integrity.
Folks say things all the time without documenting them. I could state, for example, "lots of people used to think that Homer's Troy did not exist." That would be a true statement. I don't need to document names in order for it to be a true statement. It's true whether it is documented each and every time it is stated or not. It's now common knowledge for anyone with the slightest acquaintance with the history of archeology.
DagoodS, therefore, lied about the Christians who state this. I have defended their integrity and have shown that DagoodS made a false accusation. He did the very thing that he accused others of doing.
A certain historical Personage Who is also doubted by some today would say that is "hypocrisy." So would I.
Context is the key Dave. You have to evaluate the meaning of “skeptics deny Hittites” in light of the refutation offered by the Christian apologist. If, as I suggest, “skeptics deny Hittites” means “skeptics cite the non-existence of the Hittites as proof of the inaccuracy of the Old Testament,” then the Christian apologists may reasonably claim that proving the Hittites existed refuted the skeptics claim. On the other hand, if, as you suggest, “skeptics deny Hittites” means “skeptics think that the books that mention Hittites are mostly mythical/legendary, etc,” then the skeptics aren’t refuted by proving the existence of the Hittites any more than they are refuted by proving the existence of the Egyptians.
Curious. It is demanded I grant charity to these Christian apologists for laxity in claims,
I am demanding that he tell the truth and be accurate in his statements . . .
but the Christian apologists are not required to hold to the same standards. Therefore, I am a “liar”?
No; I haven't claimed that. One must distinguish between pointing out one example of a "lie"
(i.e., falsehood, untruth) and calling a person a "liar" as a character judgment. I did the former, not the latter. DagoodS utilizes the latter charge against virtually the entire class of Christian apologists, who, so he thinks, habitually lie, and know that they are doing so. I hold everyone to the same ethical standard.
Ah…the new Golden rule of Christianity—“You must do to me what I want, but I don’t have to.”
Nice try, but as I've repeatedly shown, there is no parallelism in the present instance.
To avoid confusion, let’s look at the two claims: 1) Christian apologist state, “Skeptics claim Hitittes did not exist.” 2) I state, “Christians apologists are incorrect when they allege, ‘Skeptics claim Hittites did not exist.’”
That is not all that he stated, and he knows it. If it had been put in these terms, it would simply be an honest gentleman's agreement. I probably wouldn't have wasted another minute on it. But he wanted to say that Christians are deliberately lying about this and making up "facts" out of whole cloth. That is what was outrageous, and why I decided to spend considerable amounts of time debunking it.
At this juncture we have proposed names, but we still do not have a Skeptic quotation specifically stating, “Hittites did not exist.” The first statement’s basis.
Keep piling it on; you'll just look more foolish if and when I provide that. I don't think it is too far off.
What we do have are skeptics who question the historicity of events within the Tanakh—something I long recognize skeptics have done (and have been incorrect as well.) But questioning the events does NOT necessarily equal questioning the existence of specifics within the event.
All kinds of positions can be found on the spectrum, of course . . . but radical skepticism did indeed exist.
I am persuaded the Exodus is not historical. This does NOT mean I am therefore claiming Egyptians, Hebrews and Philistines did not exist. This does NOT mean I am therefore claiming the Nile, the Jordan and the Red Sea did not exist. This does NOT mean I am therefore claiming straw, mud and bricks did not exist.
But there were folks who claimed that the Hittites did not exist. They were small in number, but they existed.
If 150 years from now, someone states, “DagoodS said the Exodus was not historical, which means he is claiming Egyptians did not exist” they would be 100% incorrect.
The skeptics I have reviewed so far have been quote-mined by the Christian apologist, where the Apologist extrapolates out similar unwarranted conclusions. Take the most oft-cited F.W. Newman mentioned in Mr. Armstrong’s blog entry. Instead of quoting Mr. Newman stating, “the Hitties did not exist” we have a quote from a Christian apologist alleging what Mr. Newman said.
William Wright (the Christian Apologist) states Newman “speaks of the Bible references to the Hittites as 'unhistorical,' and as 'not exhibiting the writer's acquaintance with the times in a very favourable light,'” pg 178-179. BUT, if we look at the actual work, History of the Hebrew Monarchy at pg 178-179, we see Newman is discussing the 1 Kings 7 Syrian invasion of Israel, and how it is unlikely the Hittite King would muster enough forces to be a threat, as compared to the more likely threat of Judah. Go read it!
Do you get that? Newman not only agrees Hittites exist; he makes definitive statements about their existence—they did not have the strength of Judah. If you search the rest of the book, he refers to the Hittites without questioning their existence.
True, Newman states the Tanakh’s account regarding the Hittites as being “unhistorical;” but he is definitely not saying the Hittites themselves are “unhistorical.” (Just like I claim the Exodus’ account regarding Pharaoh is not historical, doesn’t mean I claim Pharaohs are not historical.) Yet ever since Mr. Wright wrote this piece, poor Mr. Newman has been cited over and over as the skeptic claiming, “the Hittites didn’t exist.”
Precisely for this reason, I stated in the first draft of my paper (how it was when I first posted it; I have since added quite a bit):
Note, however, that neither Newman's nor Cheyne's positions entail an absolute denial that the Hittites existed: only a severe doubting of many particulars and the general thrust of the biblical accounts, which have since been corroborated by archaeological evidence.
So the Christian apologist is allowed to magnify the claims without question.
Several quotes I have seen myself are a bit sloppy and lack specificity and precision, but this is true of many people of different persuasions. That doesn't make the ones who do it "liars." It makes them guilty (sometimes, not always) of imprecision and insufficient documentation and research.
Yet if I dare…DARE…call the apologist on it, not only am I incorrect, I am “liar” for requesting accuracy.
No; for the fifth or so time, I didn't call DagoodS a "liar." He did definitely call Christian apologists as a class a pack of liars. I object to that characterization, but I do not return the insult in kind.
If I say, “the apologist is not quoting accurately,” I am a “liar”; If the apologist fails to quote accurately that is just fine.
Ditto. Some apologists missed important nuances and qualifications; without question. But DagoodS has blown it as well by spewing falsehood about the overall picture and using this as a means to call entire classes of people liars.
Thank you for the names. I ran a quick google search on the names with “Hittite” and could not come up with a single quote associated the two. Can you give a citation with even one (1) name where they said “Hittites did not exist”? (Claiming the broad “Tanakh is mythical” is not what I am looking for. If that is the best you have; okay.)
The closest to this specific demand (that I have found or heard about) appears to be the 1881 entry on Hittites in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, by T. K. Cheyne. I have not been able to access that [though Wright and others cited portions of it]. I may be able to find it in libraries. I went to a seminary library, and that probably didn't have an old set of the Britannica. A more general library might have one or more.
Reference was made to Cheyne having changed his mind (due to archaeological discoveries) by William Wright, in 1885:
"Dr. Cheyne saw reason more than two years ago to modify his views with regard to the 'Hittites of Genesis.' . . . The Saturday Review, referring to the point at issue between Dr. Cheyne and me, fitly sums up the case thus:
'Granting that the sacred writers were unscrupulous, it would still be impossible to imagine why they should fill their early records with the most matter-of-fact references to a purely imaginary people. There is no nonsense that the professors of the Higher Criticism will not talk.'
I have his 1888 entry, but he had already broadened his views by then. I have also read claims that 1881 and earlier versions of the Britannica refer to the Hittites as a "mythological people of the Bible" or some such.
If this can be proven it is certainly decisive. It would show the general consensus of the period, and would be more than an adequate basis for Christians to then make statements about skeptical denials of the Hittites. It's not based on nothing. Clearly this strain of thought existed; thus, these apologists then and now are not "lying" about it.
I just added (right before my conclusion in my paper) a further 1888 letter that I found, of Wm. Wright discussing T. K. Cheyne's views on the Hittites. Cheyne (based on Wright's repeated references) had obviously retreated quite a bit from his original hyper-skeptical views, expressed in 1881, and it was because of archaeological discoveries.
Good for him, that he could admit he was wrong and bow to new discovery and fact, but that doesn't change the fact that his earlier views were quite different, and that is what this controversy is about: whether there ever was such a skeptical view expressed: some memory of real, actual skeptical views that apologists are reflecting today.
It looks (from what I have learned) that perhaps the locus of this skeptical view (in the English language) is found in Cheyne's article in the 1881 Encyclopedia Britannica (Vol. 12). I will try to locate and view this old set myself, as soon as possible.
But the item that is by far the most interesting to me at this juncture is whether older editions of the Britannica (prior to 1881) refer to the Hittites as "a mythological civilization mentioned only in the Bible." I have seen more than once this very quotation, given with quotation marks. If it can be found and verified, this debate will be so over it won't even be funny.
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*shrug* It appears this is the only way Dave can fathom doing on-line apologetics. He has been arguing with other internet apologists who perform similarly, and apparently thinks this the way it is done. Curiously, in person he is much nicer (you literally would not recognize it was the same person!) Another demonstration of the difference between what is considered courteous in-person as compared to on-line.
DagoodS' friend Jon (in my combox: 1-8-11) advanced this same armchair psychoanalysis, as if I supposedly become a vastly different person online, compared to face-to-face:
I wonder if you don't know this, but you come across very differently in written word as opposed to spoken. When we've met you're always very charitable and easy to have a discussion with. For instance I don't think I have ever felt like you were being insulting.
That can hardly be avoided in apologetics. It's an occupational hazard. We're always judged harshly because we disagree with folks. The reason is that writing is far, far more substantive and has infinitely more detail. I can critique things to the nth degree if I want to. In-person communication is vastly different.
Even if I wanted to make the same points I do in writing, I would never have any remote chance to do so in a crowd of 8-16 atheists. I'm never able (or allowed) to talk that long: especially with DagoodS. I'm lucky to make the slightest argument about anything, let alone a sustained, elaborate one.
So I'm seen as a nice guy (in person) because I am courteous. But you want to make out that I am so vastly different in writing. I'm not. I'm just able to express more content, so that makes you angry because the Christian is never supposed to have an adequate answer to atheist profundities and wisdom. We're always supposed to be the gullible dumbbells who believe in talking snakes and donkeys (as you [Jon] delightfully pointed out in a moment of candor) and the cosmic equivalent of Santa Claus, etc.
If you thought about it long enough you would figure out that I wasn't being insulting to DagoodS in this exchange [about Joseph of Arimathea]. You should understand that, having met me. But you won't extend that charity. He can't take strong criticism of his views, so he had to make it personal, and you followed right along, . . .
If he would simply have answered my critique with a counter-argument, just as he does every day in his legal work, then we could have been discussing the issues rather than having this same stupid "meta-discussion" about how to talk and how I supposedly insulted his person when I did not.
I'm far more disgusted about all the "meta-discussion" and hyper-analysis of words than I was with the original argument itself. I want to discuss the issue (that DagoodS initiated and I critiqued), not all this garbage.
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As I said to you before--while I enjoy theistic discussion, our interaction is anything but. Feel free to continue the misrepresentation of my position, avoiding my questions, and making up whatever strawpeople you find necessary to entertain yourself.
I wrote this blog entry for a particular reason; the reason is fulfilled.
If you ever do find a quote from a skeptic who stated, “the Hittites did not exist” I would appreciate the information (although I don’t think wild elephants could hold you back if you ever find it! *grin*)
If I am incorrect about this situation regarding Skeptics & Hittites, I would like to know.
Excellent. I plan on searching for old Britannicas today or in the next few days. I shall look forward to your retraction (in the eventuality that I do locate what I think is likely that I will find). That would be a breath of fresh air, given the extremity of the charges you have made.
But we all learn and fall on our faces. I don't begrudge anyone that shortcoming, since I share in it too often myself: as long as they make it right once they have been corrected.
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There is a huge difference between passing on information one thinks is correct (but later discovers is not) as compared to deliberately passing on information one knows is false. Indeed I made careful distinction on that very point in my original post about why using lies is not convincing. Alas, no one bothers to actually read the post—instead relying upon what Dave Armstrong characterizes my position is. *shrug*
I carefully (at least I thought) differentiated between “non-truth” and actual lie. My concern was two-fold;
1) First, don’t initiate the lie; and
2) Once you discover it incorrect, don’t promulgate it.
The only person, so far, I have seen who I would suspect lying regarding this miniscule issue is William Wright regarding F.W. Newman’s position. Wright’s quote-mining is troublesome. My original point being I would hope it would be equally as troublesome to Christian apologists.
I cited numerous examples of how non-truths are unknowingly spread, and how Christians would actually gain credibility by acknowledging the inaccuracy upon discovering it. One such example was this “Skeptics claim Hittites didn’t exist.”
Somehow it became blown up to allegations I am accusing ALL Christian Apologists of ALL lying and therefore I am a liar. Apparently that makes for much better story-making and furor than the rather dull point originally intended.
Keep spinning away, DagoodS! You remind me of those guys who used to be on The Ed Sullivan Show, who would spin ten plates at the same time.
You make the Clinton advisers green with envy with your ability to spin and obfuscate.
As an additional humorous touch, DagoodS cites another post of his that wasn't even the one I originally critiqued, and complains: "Alas, no one bothers to actually read the post."
Generally, when making such a comment, the post referred to is the one actually being critiqued (the one in question). But alas, not in DagoodS' case . . .
Now DagoodS goes after William Wright. He didn't lie about Newman's position at all. Here is what he wrote:
It is desirable that this investigation should be undertaken, because the casual references to the Hittites in the Bible have been used by the enemies of Divine revelation to discredit the historical accuracy of the book, and some of the weak friends of the Bible have begun to propagate doubt where they cannot disprove.
In 1857 Professor F. W. Newman, fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, in his History of the Hebrew Monarchy [Pp. 178, 179, Vol. xii], speaks of the Bible references to the Hittites as 'unhistorical,' and as 'not exhibiting the writer's acquaintance with the times in a very favourable light,'
Note that Wright did not claim that Newman denied that they existed at all. Nor did he equate Newman with the "enemies of Divine Revelation." Rather, he is one of the "weak friends of the Bible" (a delightful description of a theological liberal).
No "lie" here that I can see; no distortion of another's position. Perhaps DagoodS can explain to us how he sees "lying" in any of that.
I'd also be curious to see DagoodS document where I made the following outlandish accusation:
"I am accusing ALL Christian Apologists of ALL lying and therefore I am a liar."
I never called him a "liar." This is a comical exercise of broad brush caricature to the extreme, but I don't see how it helps DagoodS to avoid the huge mess he has (like Laurel and Hardy) gotten himself into.
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