I'm sort of dialoging with Jason Engwer at Triablogue. It's a very disjointed exchange, because Engwer doesn't comment at DC where the initial blog entry that started the exchange is placed. He responds at Triablogue. But he won't allow me to reply at Triablogue. So I've been responding at DC. The reason for this is that I'm banned at Triablogue.
One shining example of my irresponsible behavior that resulted in my being banned can be found here. I've now learned that there are other "criticisms" beyond my citation of Clement in that thread that justify my being banned, but I'm not being told what they are. There is a lot of vagueness in the explanation. This gives the appearance that the reasons have been explained without actually having to explain them.
But whatever. This is not an important issue. But what I notice is this same methodology (vague references to other links where answers are supposedly offered) is the same methodology Jason often uses in other debates.
For instance, in one of my posts I mentioned that Christians purged many heretical documents, which could plausibly explain why we don't have as much information about the variety of views from ancient Christians as we might otherwise have. Jason replies that these claims of mine were answered long ago in threads I abandoned, such as here and here.
I went ahead and read through the first link, where I encountered statements such as the following:
As I told you in the previous thread I linked to above, the fact that such things have to be explained to you is ridiculous. It’s even worse when you continue to misrepresent the subject after having had these things explained to you in another discussion.
I had to wonder if Jason is capable of alternative explanations for why so many people "abandon" discussion with him. I've wondered about this before.
Anyway, back to the supposed "replies" to my claims. In this thread Jason had asked me why Christians didn't continue to forge documents in the name of Paul beyond the time of Marcion. Why even stop? I replied that maybe people did and the orthodox tradition destroyed the evidence. The documents found of Nag Hammadi show a variety of views about Jesus unknown to us moderns until relatively recently due to the (temporary) successful Christian suppression.
Jason's response is far removed from the point I'm making. "Are you suggesting major revisions of Roman history, since Romans sometimes burned evidence? Or U.S. history? What are Constantine's motives? Why would people in the time of Constantine reject books that are accepted by the mainstream? Do you know how hard it is to cover up evidence of widely accepted documents?"
I truly believe that his is pure obscurantism. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Jason just doesn't know what I'm saying. But I've seen this before and at this point I just kind of say forget it. I'm not taking the time to clarify what I'm really saying. Because I kind of think he knows, but doesn't want to address it.
So this is not even a response to my point in that thread, let alone a response to what I'm saying now. But Jason points to this like it's relevant, when it wasn't even relevant in the first place.
This is his method of reasoning. In this same thread where he says he replied to my comments about Nag Hammadi he similarly points to other threads where I'm supposedly answered on other topics.
Jason-You're repeating what you said earlier about Roman Catholic support for my position on Ignatius, but you aren't interacting with what I said in defense of my position in my last post on the subject.
Jon-What in the thread you linked to is in any way relevant to my point (once more for emphasis because you often miss my point) that forgery is all over the Ignatian Epistles as all sides agree, so this means we need to approach them with skepticism. I think you are again waving towards a website that contains supposed refutations that really aren't there.
He had said I'd been answered, so I went through the thread to see. There was nothing. And when I asked him to show me which arguments addressed mine he ignored the question.
Similar methodology can be found here.
Jon-He's certainly talking about figures of speech, but that's not all he's talking about. Here is some relevant information from Carrier.
Jason-Carrier's claims are addressed by Roger Pearse in the material I linked to. You need to interact with what Pearse has documented rather than repeating what Richard Carrier said.
I spent the next two threads trying to get Jason to show me where this argument from Pearse was. He refused. There was no argument.
What about the second thread where Jason claims he replied to my point about Christians destroying evidence? I read that one from top to bottom, holding my nose through comments such as the following:
I'm not going to take the time to write out and discuss all of the relevant passages for somebody as irresponsible and dishonest as you are. You've wasted my time and the time of other readers more than enough already.
There can only be one reason why anyone would cease responding to Jason, right? His arguments are just unanswerable.
Anyway, what of his "replies" to my statements about Christian censorship and purges? The subject doesn't even come up. Are there some comments in that thread that are relevant to my statements about Nag Hammadi? We're not told. But Jason would have us conclude that I've been refuted anyway I suppose.
And once again within this very thread we do see more of Jason using this methodology of "I've answered you elsewhere" and when challenged he goes mute. Here is what is offered.
Jason-You keep repeating objections we've already addressed without attempting to interact with what we wrote in response previously.
Jon-Are you referring to this link here:
where you put forward your gross straw man characterizations of the skeptical position as if it entails that gullible people would never consider evidence? And when I asked you to show us where Loftus had argued in that way you resolutely refused to answer, time and time and time and time again, and then finally appealed to something John didn't write until after your gross straw man characterization? Is this the thread where I need to "interact" with what you wrote previously?....Are you here again proceeding with this misrepresnation and denying that Benny Hinn's followers are also concerned about evidence, or are you again very vaguely appealing to a link with lots of comments and asserting that some sort of refutation of my point is contained within it if I'd only look hard enough? If so, where is this supposed refutation? Show me what you said in that link, and how it is a refutation of what I have here.
Another method of obscuring that is even better than pointing to threads (which can be read and shown to be irrelevant) is to point to books that are not readily available to your opponent. We see this also from Jason in various threads, including the very thread I'm currently discussing. He points to a book from Jefford, and when I reply that I don't have the book, so I can't evaluate the claim, he says:
"your unwillingness to consult that book wouldn't refute my citation of it."
Well, OK. But when we can see how fast and loose Jason is with threads which he claims "reply" to arguments I've made, does it really make sense for me to invest in these books which Jason says reply to my claims? What kind of confidence can I put into assertions like that? I'd need to know that Jason is trustworthy when he claims a source refutes my argument, and I find that he is not.