2014-12-29

Blocked by the Exploding Cakemix

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by Neil Godfrey

James McGrath has finally got rid of the one gad-fly who continually sought to keep him honest in his reviews of mythicist works and to pull him up when he substituted ad hominem for reasoned argument. No wonder, most recently one of his supporters complained to me that I was making him look incompetent. But since McGrath has begun to review Richard Carrier’s book I have been posting more frequently on his blog — especially since I have found him to be almost as unprofessional as he was with Doherty’s book. I guess I’ll have to return to re-posting my comments on his reviews here, now, instead.

The two reviews of Carrier’s book to which I have responded on both the Bible and Interp site and McG’s blog are

 

Screen shot 2014-12-29 at 10.39.39 AM

I attempted to deliver this post shortly after I sent James McGrath the following email in response to his spamming another comment of mine. I was bemused that there were so many comments expressing indignation over Valerie Tarico referring to her three interviewees as “scholars” at one point and nothing addressing the actual points raised for discussion and exploration:

Dear James

Can you explain why I am not allowed to point out that all of my arguments have all been avoided while people focus on ad hominem issues instead?
Thanks
Neil
Needless to say I received no reply to my email. Presumably serious argument that actually challenges his claims and assertions is now forbidden.

Of course he plays the innocent victim-card in the process:

Just so folks know, Neil Godfrey will not be commenting here any longer. One of his comments got caught in the spam filter, and he quickly wrote to me via e-mail and also complained about it on his blog. Despite his really atrocious behaviour towards me in the past, which led me to decide not to interact with him any longer, I had allowed him to continue to comment, since there were other people here who seemed to like interacting with him. But he has refused to respect my choice to not interact with him directly, and so if you wish to interact with him, you can try his blog Vridar.

 

9 Comments

  • Mo Kip
    2014-12-29 01:02:08 UTC - 01:02 | Permalink

    The more I see from so-called biblical scholars in the blogosphere, the less confident I am in modern biblical scholarship. It truly seems as though many do the hard work and stay inside the lines for just long enough to secure some sort of post and then start letting it all hang out; allowing personal and personality issues completely displace thoughtful and strict debate around claims and arguments. It’s become juvenile and petty. Sad, really sad.

    • Paul Thomas
      2014-12-29 10:39:58 UTC - 10:39 | Permalink

      I think to some degree it’s more of the same as it’s always been.

      To quote from William Prop – “The evidentiary bar outside biblical studies is much higher than in religion” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6TsppQ5UNY, timecode: 3:10).
      When many scholars also profess a religious belief in the divine resurrection of the guy they’re studying there are going to be problems as far as history is concerned and the more you move away from their claims, the more vitriol your claims will be met with.

      I completely agree with Hector Avalos in his book “The End of Biblical Studies” – as the title suggests biblical studies as it is needs to end, it needs to be replaced by a more robust and mathematical system; even mythicist scholar Robert M Price has admitted he knows practically squat about mathematics much less probability theories which is just one example that demonstrates how little training and actual application of probability some of these scholars have (I certainly won’t speak for all of them).

      • 2014-12-29 15:29:45 UTC - 15:29 | Permalink

        I don’t think it’s just lack of training in Price’s case. From the way he talks whenever the subject comes up, he sounds to me like a real mathophobe.

        Indifference, if not outright aversion, to mathematics is not just a problem in biblical or religious studies. It infects all the humanities. Nothing has changed, so far as I can tell, since C. P. Snow delivered his Two Cultures lecture.

      • Mark Erickson
        2015-03-20 05:07:53 UTC - 05:07 | Permalink

        Great talk by Propp, thanks for the link. Watch the whole thing, it parallels the Exodus to the fascinating story about WWI Battle of Mons. But at least go to just after 1 hour and hear the concluding remarks.

  • Vinny
    2014-12-29 16:06:41 UTC - 16:06 | Permalink

    Refusing to interact with someone’s comments never seemed like a workable approach to me. Either ban him or answer him. I think it speaks well of you that your comments never gave him any excuse to ban you and that he had to premise it on an e-mail.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2014-12-29 19:47:52 UTC - 19:47 | Permalink

      I do not understand his email explanation, either. The comment I emailed him about had not been “caught up” in the spam filter but appeared to have been removed according to the same process he had removed other comments on mine when he explained he was “moderating” them. That was the subject of my email — why had he removed an on topic comment that was in fact censuring unscholarly responses. But it may be he is too livid with me to recollect clearly.

      • Tim Widowfield
        2014-12-29 20:53:19 UTC - 20:53 | Permalink

        So, what was that “atrocious behavior,” he was talking about?

        • Neil Godfrey
          2014-12-30 07:22:31 UTC - 07:22 | Permalink

          I would love someone to make inquiries and try to pin him down on that one. Up until that day he began moderating my comments and sending some to the spam bin he had complained about my being a “troll” (but no hint that I was personally treating him badly at all — I was in fact ignoring him on the assumption that he was ignoring my comments as he had said several times he was doing.) The “troll” charge was apparently based on his view that I had always ignored his answers and kept asking the same questions over and over.

          He even asked his commenters to complain about me on the understanding that he would ban me if they complied. To his chagrin, I can well imagine, a couple replied saying they appreciated my comments on his blog. No hint of “atrocious behaviour” in my treatment of McG at all.

          So I think Vinny’s observation hits the mark. One can only suspect that his real reason was that this unwashed outsider layman regularly made him look foolish, incompetent and vindictive whenever he broached his pet hate, “mythicism”. And it was becoming acutely embarrassing to have someone able and willing to highlight the patent fact that he has no more grasped the essence of Carrier’s arguments than he ever did of Doherty’s — and this at a time he is trying to wage his quixotic war in Bible and Interpretation.

          I seem to recall one of his fans even complaining to me that I made him look incompetent. How dare I! At least with his peers he has cuddly supports who, mostly as good Christians, warmly accept all and anyone who is part of that guild no matter how invalid, uninformed and idiosyncratic their theories are. (Just so long as they do not rip out the foundations of all they have built their careers — and faith — upon.)

          • Vinny
            2014-12-30 15:04:16 UTC - 15:04 | Permalink

            I do not think that it would do any good to try to pin him down about the nature of your atrocious behavior because I think that trying to pin him down was the essence of it. When he didn’t address a point or answer a question, you would try to get him to do so. As often as not, he would raise a different point upon which he thought mythicism was vulnerable and we would have Minchin’s metaphor of two tennis players hitting shots on different courts.

            On the other hand, I rarely bother to point it out when he doesn’t address a point or answer a question. I simply wait for another opportunity to raise it, which I know that I am sure to get. My approach isn’t for everyone though as it can be a very tedious process.

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