Ben Wallis Poisons the Well and Dodges the Issue…Again

In my last post I directed readers to some comments that have been posted on Ben Wallis’ blog concerning Brian Knapp’s post on the Atheist’s Burden of Proof. As expected, Ben was not very happy with what I had to say in that post. All indications are that he has run out of pseudo-rational justifications for his hatred of God, and so has resorted to attacking my character. Ben writes the following in the comments of the aforementioned post on his blog:

In his characteristic mocking style, Chris Bolt has published another strange post on his blog here, which consists of some opening sarcastic remarks followed by what looks like a verbatim quotation of my entire discussion with “Paul” from above! Here’s hoping that visitors to his blog will take the time to read those quotations.

Note the rhetorical “characteristic mocking style,” “strange post,” and “sarcastic remarks.” Rather than stooping to Ben’s level of fallacious reasoning here and firing back with similar rhetoric I will just point out the ridiculousness of his complaints. First, mocking is hardly characteristic of me, though I have engaged in it before, sometimes rightly and sometimes not. Second, there is a place for mockery within the context of the Christian worldview. Third, there is no objection to mockery within the context of the unbelieving worldview to which Ben subscribes (but cannot articulate, as is evident from his confusion regarding his agnosticism/atheism). Fourth, Ben provides no evidence of this alleged “mocking style” beyond the post in question. Fifth, whether or not the post in question evidences the “characteristic mocking style” Ben wrongly ascribes to me is questionable, if not entirely subjective. Sixth, the only thing I can even see in the post in question that one might think warrants the accusation is my comment that the exchange I linked to is “somewhat humorous,” but calling an exchange “somewhat humorous” is hardly mocking the exchange or Ben; I simply find the exchange somewhat humorous, because Ben is doing all he can to run from the points that are being brought against his unbelief, and he is doing a poor job at it. In another sense then, the exchange is somewhat sad.

The same things might be said with respect to the alleged “sarcastic remarks.” First, sarcasm is hardly characteristic of me, though I have engaged in it before, sometimes rightly and sometimes not. Second, there is a place for sarcasm within the context of the Christian worldview. Third, there is no objection to sarcasm within the context of the unbelieving worldview to which Ben subscribes (but cannot articulate, as is evident from his confusion regarding his agnosticism/atheism). Fourth, Ben provides no evidence of these alleged “sarcastic remarks” beyond the post in question. Fifth, whether or not the post in question evidences the “sarcastic remarks” Ben wrongly ascribes to me is questionable, if not entirely subjective. Sixth, the only thing I can even see in the post in question that one might think warrants the accusation is my comment that the exchange I linked to is “somewhat humorous,” but calling an exchange “somewhat humorous” is hardly¬† being sarcastic about the exchange or Ben; I simply find the exchange somewhat humorous, because Ben is doing all he can to run from the points that are being brought against his unbelief, and he is doing a poor job at it. In another sense then, the exchange is somewhat sad.

Ben’s comment that my post is “strange” is, well, strange. Of course I could see where Ben might want to lead his readers to believe that the post in question, like others, is “strange” in order to call into question either my credibility or the credibility of my post(s). Unfortunately that sort of fallacy is not going to fly around here.

Instead of even attempting to deal with any points I make anymore against his position, Ben has resorted to making me out to be the “Big Bad Bolt.” I am just a particularly nasty Calvinist e-pologist out to make a name for myself and mock kind, reasonable people like Ben Wallis. Well if you would like to believe that then I cannot stop you from doing so. I certainly hope those things are not true of me. However, even if they are, none of it has anything to do with Ben’s failure to engage the points that have been brought against his position.

With all due respect, Ben needs to be a big boy here. He has a counter-apologetics podcast and a blog where he attacks particular elements of the Christian worldview. He has engaged in debates on the existence of God. One would assume that he can handle himself in the type of atmosphere where people are called upon to provide reasons for the things that they believe, but in his recent exchange with Paul he has refused to do so. Instead, he poisons the well against those who address his foolish thinking, and that is, well, just more foolish thinking!

Ben continues, “In that post, Chris again alluded to his desire to arrange a second Skype debate with me.” While there may have been an allusion, this was not foremost in my mind. The language I used was not specific, but referred to any debate with anyone, including, of course, Ben.

“He had previously misunderstood an open call to find a possible debate opponent as a challenge directed at himself (among others).”

Read this very carefully and tell me how an “open call to find a possible debate opponent” is not a challenge directed at me and others. I misunderstood nothing. Ben issued an open debate challenge, I responded to that challenge, and Ben took down the challenge. It was as simple as that, and I did not read anything else into Ben’s actions.

“I explained to him in an email, though, that I wasn’t interested in debating him right now.”

Which I noted here.

“However, I regret that I wasn’t entirely forthcoming in that email. Trying to spare his feelings, I told him only that some things had ‘come up on my end.’ (Those things include but are not limited to my upcoming third qualifying exam, ongoing PhD research and some intense summer catch-up on my French studies.)”

I mentioned this as well in my previous link, and took Ben at his word. Ben’s justification for taking away his debate challenge is certainly understandable.

“What I didn’t mention is that even if I find time to do that sort of thing again, I will not be debating with him.”

Perhaps Ben needs to clarify this the next time he offers an open debate challenge? This is sad to hear of course, as I very much enjoyed my debate with Ben, and he did as well, as he states in Episode 9 of his podcast. Click here and go to 3:40 in the audio clip if you want to hear it for yourself. Those who have listened to my debate have commented on how civil the tone of the debate was. You may listen here if you would like to confirm the truth of their comments.

“The reason is, I think, fairly obvious to anyone sufficiently familiar with his conduct in the blogosphere.”

The reason that Ben would write this of me is, I think, fairly obvious to anyone sufficiently familiar with his conduct in the blogosphere. You see, “two can play that game!” In all seriousness, Ben is attempting to further poison the well here by making general, rather than specific claims concerning my allegedly unacceptable behavior in the blogosphere. I already addressed this nonsense above, and I do not have the time to address it again. If Ben wants to resort to calling me nasty instead of responding to the reasoned responses I provide on this site then he is free to do so. It only hurts his case, not mine.

“Nevertheless, Michael Long wants to have him as a guest on the podcast Goodness Over God, which we both co-host. So far Chris has declined the invitation (he’s apparently disinterested in anything but a formal, adversarial debate), but if he ever changes his mind we may have one more (informal) debate in that context.”

Actually my words in an email to Michael were, “Perhaps we could work something out with a podcast/interview in the future, though I am really very interested in getting a good formal debate together right now.” You see, Ben issued the debate challenge, then backed out, then recommended in an email to me that Michael might be interested in a debate. So yes, I am in the immediate sense interested in a formal debate just as Ben was in the beginning. That does not mean that I am not interested in coming onto the podcast at some time in the future, although I cannot imagine why Ben would think it a good idea to have such a nasty guy as the Big Bad Bolt on a podcast with no formal parameters or moderator when he does not think it is a good idea to have the Big Bad Bolt in a formal, moderated debate with him. Can you?

But what does any of this have to do with the points I raised in my previous post against Ben’s position? Nothing.

 


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