Online debates

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by Neil Godfrey

I have reset the spreadsheet in my previous post to ensure the stats are fully visible. Meanwhile I was thinking of doing the same sort of analysis on Tim O’Neill’s recent post but the tone of that one does not even rise to the level of double digits and it is Tim once again exercising his unenviable talent for insult and slander. He’s about as low in the gutter as one can go but somehow I suspect a number of scholars opposed to mythicism will be thankful for his contribution. No thank you. Where is the memory of Philip Davies when we need him?

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15 thoughts on “Online debates”

  1. While I object to rudeness as much as any decent person should, it is possible that beneath the insults, he may make good arguments. I honestly wish that all person involved in debates about Jesus’s existence would address each others’ ideas rather than attacking each other’s characters, competence, training, or motives.

    1. I have invited Tim O’Neill to debate and discussion a few times now (on any venue, not just here) but he has declined each time. The reason? I have stipulated one condition: that he refrain from insults. (Others have also invited him to debate me but again his reply was further insult.) If anyone finds that too much of a condition to meet I suspect he is not interested in having his arguments tested in a civil manner. No, Tim’s insulting rhetoric, I have seen many times in the past, is there to hide a multitude of logical fallacies and misinformation. Without his insults and intimidation his arguments are too easily exposed.

      By the way, Tim has visited this blog under a false name more recently and when I protested that he was again resorting to insults he justified himself by saying he was not insulting me but the author whose work he was criticizing. McGrath and Hurtado and their ilk love him!

      Another time I asked Tim why he was not prepared to discuss a question in a professional manner his response was to accuse me of being “up myself” or pretentious for using the word “professionalism” even though an amateur.

      If you seriously think Tim has sound arguments you are welcome to raise them here, stripped of all his anti-intellectual rhetoric.

      (How many supporters of Tim would concede Carrier’s sometimes snark is the cover of sound arguments?)

      1. “(How many supporters of Tim would concede Carrier’s sometimes snark is the cover of sound arguments?)” Probably none, it is true. But Carrier does himself no favours by using emotionally charged language that insults those whom he is arguing with. Others may have started the trend (I know not) but I think that Carrier might gain more respect if he were to avoid all snark.

        1. No doubt. But at the same time one has to wonder about those who lap up the posts of Tim O’Neill and others who use no less snark. Somehow snark is less offensive, even apparently excusable, from those we have a predisposition to support the author like Tim anyway.

          Tim’s snark hides the weaknesses of his arguments and warns off critics.

          I understand McGrath’s comments on his Carrier post are full of insults against Carrier. Why? Why do people love this sort of shit from the O’Neills and McGraths and co?

  2. I get a little irritated when Carrier knocks people for not having an ivy league PhD like he does. For instance, Carrier writes:

    “Another sign of a crank is being a total amateur who can’t get anything published under peer review, and instead mocking any opponents who have prestigious credentials and publication histories. O’Neill likes to hide or disparage the fact that I have a Ph.D. in ancient history from Columbia University (a prestigious Ivy League school) and numerous peer reviewed academic publications, including two books and several journal articles on this very subject. Tim O’Neill has no relevant credentials, no relevant graduate degrees, and no peer reviewed publications in history—at all, much less on the subjects I write.”

    “So O’Neill’s argument doesn’t even make logical sense. Which is likely why none of my paper’s peer reviewers saw a problem here. And they would have been actual experts, with relevant Ph.D.’s and subject-specific publications and experience, not rank unpublished amateurs like O’Neill.”

    see: https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/14324

    1. Carrier is not knocking Tim O’Neill for not having an ivy league PhD but attacking him for being an arsehole. O’Neill in his bully-boy ignorance was attacking Carrier for having his degree, implying Carrier was not up to the mark because he had qualifications O’Neill was saying were irrelevant or in some way lowered Carrier’s quality of argument. Of course it is right to point out that such a mocker is himself ignorant and without qualifications — a case of a village idiot throwing mud at a doctor or professor, by analogy.

      Tim really does have no university qualifications in history as far as I am aware and posts of his that I have read indicate to me that he does not understand the fundamentals of the nature or philosophy of history and is merely a mouthpiece and apologist for the current conventional wisdom of mostly Christian biblical scholars.

      His rudeness, his insults, do not hide good arguments as someone here suggested, but actually serve to hide just how fallacious and often misinformed his arguments really are.

      I can understand Carrier’s response but I am also disappointed with it because he is being sucked right in to the response that O’Neill wants from him and that he and others can exploit against him.

  3. You may try getting a debate with Tim O’Neill, on Youtube. He seems to be in the grace of The Non Sequitur Show, who are nice guys but have their flows like any other human.
    I tried proposing this after watching ching O’Neill with a 2 hour gargle about the myth of Hypathua and the burning of the library. The guys didn’t answer directly to my proposal, but considered it an argument against what theur guest was bubbling. Anyway, I still believe that they may be interested in this.

    1. Debates over Hypatia and similar are one thing, but even with those Tim sets up straw men. He seems to imply each time that atheists in particular have all these wrong ideas out of bias and ignorance, but I really don’t know of too many atheists who care one way or the other or who are not willing to change their mind if they are given more information. No problem. What Tim seems not to be aware of is that it is very often Christians, and often just mainstream views in society, that are often misinformed. No need for some sort of atheist crusade.

      But Tim, I seem to recall, did once say that he was embarrassed to be associated with atheists who are ignorant of history or some such thing. Maybe he has insecurity issues. I don’t know. To me, being an atheist is not an issue. I don’t associate it with anything except not believing in a god or gods. Full stop. Nothing to set up as some sort of identity marker or anything. There are probably the same proportion of smart and dumb atheists as there are Christians or Hindus or whatever in the world.

      Tim O’Neill has never spoken about me without dishing out puerile insults. I have no intention of any exchange with him unless there can be some control to ensure it is civil and courteous — professional, even. I cannot imagine Tim restraining himself in a live interview situation.

      Why he finds some thrill in insulting others so much I don’t know, but what I find more disturbing is the numbers who cheer him on. Just like McGrath followers.

      1. The cheering crowds are concerning, indeed. And, come to my mind names with greater cheering crowds, many times for wrong opinions.
        My main issue with Tim is his apparent bias. I am looking for raw information and learning tools to interpret it. This helps me to better understand the reality, and continuously “change my mind” as I find and interpret new data. Tim is encapsulating everything he says in a thick layer of bias making his arguments hard to use.
        I would be interested to see him in a real debate, but I don’t believe this will happen – among others, for the reasons you mentioned. Also, the non sequitur show (and other channels of the same team), don’t seem to be the most balanced environment for civility (btw, I mistyped my email when submited the previous comment – deh,… ipad typing; I apologize).

        1. If I can bring myself to stomach the idea I might yet some time go through Tim O’Neill’s post and give my own responses to his actual arguments, if I can find a way to avoid the vomit in the process.

  4. I listened to O’Neill’s declaration for Jesus’ historicity on that Non Sequitur show. I couldn’t believe my ears that one of his arguments was the Tacitus passage. He just accepted it as authentic and worthy of being evidence for his position.

    1. Do you have any record of Tim’s responses to the counter-arguments? I would be very surprised if they are not laden with ad hominem, ridicule, and such. That Tim resorts to such argument (Tacitus) is one of the reasons I believe he has no awareness of the questions that are raised in serious discussions of methodology in history. He poo poos those with qualifications but has no higher education courses in history to his name as far as I am aware.

      1. The NonSequitur Show (15 Jun 2018) “History For Atheists: Tim O’Neill” —mythicism segment @ 42 minutes & 38 seconds
        • Uncritically appeals to Tacitus.
        • Argument from authority fallacy per Testimonium Flavianum.

        NB: At the end of the show Tim notes that he skated over mythicism. The hosts indicate that he is invited back for more in-depth topical discussion on the Destruction of the Library of Alexandria, etc.

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