Monday, October 18, 2010

Jason Engwer Verbally Abuses Greek Professor

Jason, do you realize that you are leaving a record of your behavior online for all time? Don't you think you should consider how your treatment of others will be perceived, at least for posterity?

Jason was provided a rare opportunity recently. A professor of a university was interested in dialoguing with him on matters of church history, a topic that is of great interest to Jason. In my world this is a chance to exercise the brain and learn a lot. You can argue with typical internet debators and you may not learn much, but a man of this caliber that disagrees with you will push you to your limits. You'll gain much from it.

Richard teaches classical Greek at a university. Richard is Yale educated and speaks 12 languages. His writing style reveals a level of intelligence that is off the Triablogue scale. Find a commenter there with this level of ability. He tells us that he rarely engages internet apologists due to their objectives, methods, and manner, but he's making an exception here.

If Jason was interested in learning he would probably consider avoiding the abusive language that he typically uses. He knows immediately that this is how you chase this intelligent person away. So obviously he would be foolish to engage in the type of verbal abuse that nearly got him banned from str. Telling people how ridiculous their arguments are, triumphantly proclaiming yourself the victor in an exchange. These are things that are not uncommon in Jason's typical exchanges with lay people, but real professors are unlikely to stick around for this kind of thing.

So here is an example of how Richard initiated a post with Jason:

Hi Jason,

Thank you for attempting to provide some primary literary evidence for some of your assertions. As a historian and literary scholar, I feel most comfortable dealing with the primary documents, particularly in their original languages. I would thus prefer if you would keep your primary references within this thread and use citations to set forth your points. Your work in this regard is much appreciated and has a higher potential for being engaging if not compelling.

Richard's tone was like this throughout. Take a guess at how Jason's tone turned in short order:

You keep making these irrational demands of early Christian sources, then you act as though their failure (or alleged failure) to meet those demands is problematic. Instead, the problem is with your irrational demand.

You've failed to demonstrate that sources like Ignatius are analogous.

Your dating of Luke to the middle of the second century is ridiculous.

Your initial claim was ridiculous, and your revised claim is still ridiculous.

This might be enough to chase away many professors, but Richard persisted, writing things such as the following.

You do not need to say (as you have) that my ideas are "ridiculous" or "lack support". You can simply and cordially ask. I suppose this is where the apologist and I are on very different planets. I believe in mutually beneficial discourse where everyone is intelligent, has something to offer, and has something to learn. Whereas the apologist often only wants a spectacle, a dogfight aimed at demonstrating the viability of the signature claims of his socio-religious group. That is why I have chosen to exclude Evangelicals from my academic dialogues. Such loaded intentions typically skew the discussion so pathetically that they end up resulting in hostility, social abuse, and obfuscation of the central issues. I hope, Jason, that you can surprise me by conducting yourself as a gentlemen, thus disturbing my stereotype, should you find it offense or unfair.

So we can see that Richard's prior suspicions are being confirmed in his own mind, and if Jason is remotely interested in continuing this conversation he should immediately attempt to scale back the obnoxious rhetoric. Here is how Jason replied to the above comment.

Your references to "Evangelical apologists" and your dismissing of scholars like Ehrman and Ludemann don't allow you much room to object to terms like "ridiculous" and "lack support".

And with that Richard departed the conversation. Who talks to people like this? This guy is perhaps middle aged or slightly older. Maybe old enough to be a grandfather. Who speaks to their grandfather this way? It was tough to read the whole thing as I envisioned this person reacting to this childish abuse.

It was additionally unfortunate in that I was very interested in reading a dialogue between these two well informed people. Jason saw to it that this didn't happen. Again, this type of treatment is not unusual for Jason. He does this to me and to others. That's perhaps partly understandable in the rough and tumble world of internet debate. Personally I think it's a defense mechanism for Jason. He abuses people until they leave. That way he can avoid difficult arguments. Some people are mostly unfazed by the abuse. Me, Touchstone, David. In that case to avoid dialogue it is necessary to ban. But seriously Jason, can you not set the personal attacks aside for a professor tentatively considering engaging internet apologists? Apparently not.


GREV said...

Simple question -- education proves that you know something? Or does the wisdom to use the education you have received prove that you know something?

Personally, it matters little to me how many of the ancient languages a person may speak, read or write.

If that person then starts with presuppositions that declare I AM the one capable to declare for all time what is the true knowledge of God.

What we wrestle with is what we receive and in the end we only see through a glass darkly.

I get the impression that a finite bound in time and space person, feels capable to comprehend in total the infinite.

And that I could not disagree with more.

GREV said...

I would agree that the people at Trib ... are often a bit aggressive. But the folks there and this Professor begin at different starting points and the professor's seemingly complete dismissal of everything that does not support his views seems as narrow minded as the folks at Trib ... which you object to.

Jon said...

What gets me, GREV, is not that Jason is rude. That's old news. I've already documented that enough. I suppose I'm beating a dead horse with points about his rudeness. What bothers me is that the reason I read some of the posters at Triablogue is because I think their mindset positions them to be open to things I might not see. So I deal with their obnoxious behavior partly because I think I might pick up something. Here's a great opportunity to have a dialogue that will be beneficial to anybody that might be interested in learning. It could produce argument that would make Triablogue more worth reading. It was nixed by Jason's typical rudeness. It's just a waste.

Richard may have an inflated sense of his own intelligence or he may not. He may be narrow minded or he may not. Doesn't mean a discussion with him isn't productive. I speak with narrow minded people all the time. Those that are intelligent, even if they are less intelligent than they would admit, still provide me an opportunity to learn. Isn't Richard smarter than 99% of the people that post at Triablogue? That means even if he's flawed he's someone that can be learned from.

In my opinion Triabloguers aren't interested in learning as much as they are interested in putting on a show. That was Jason's priority. Too bad for all those that are interested in learning.