Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Bias Sphere

A reviewer at Amazon has put up a couple of interesting book lists preceded by some political critique. His point is to criticize the political left (on which I make no comment), but he also addresses the conflict myth, both in the commentary and the lists. God's Philosophers makes an appearance in the first one.

Lies, Myths, and the Leftist Bias of History
Lies, Myths, and the Leftist Bias of History Part II

Check out his collection of quotes on this page too (under "Interests"). Via Tigerhawk.

Discuss this post at the Quodlibeta Forum

54 comments:

Noons said...

Well, when it comes to bias in history, I would say that the conflict myth is prevalent on both sides. Even most Christian Fundamentalists will say that the church was wrong in the middle ages (because fundamentalists mostly belong to independent, protestant churches.)

Especially when running an "anti-establishment" campaign, both sides will try to portray the other side as a large, powerful, yet backwards and wrathful entity - very similar to the popular conception of the medieval Catholic Church. Just look at all the Intelligent Design advocates and Climate Change skeptics who try to portray themselves as 21st century Gallileos.

Tim O'Neill said...

Hmmm, is this really the kind of company James' book should be seen keeping? This guy seems to have swallowed every *right* wing myth under the sun and his idea of what is "leftist" seems to consist of anything that he doesn't like or doesn't agree with.

I mean, who wrote this bloody thing - Rush Limbaugh with some assistance from Anne Coulter?

The idea that the Crusades were actually some kind of defensive warfare that bravely turned back the tides of Islamic wickedness from the gates of brave Europe is kooky enough. But when I got to the insane crap about how the Nazis were actually "leftists", partly because they still had the word "Socialist" in their name (long after Hitler purged any remnants of socialism from the Party in the 1920s) I stopped reading.

The idiot who made that list is a loon and being championed by kooks like that doesn't exactly help those of us trying to present "God's Philosophers" as a sober and objective antidote to bias.

The Perplexed Seeker said...

I couldn't agree more. That list is a pic n'mix of craziness and bizarre alt-history. It's not really a compliment to be listed on there in my opinion.

Noons said...

It actually seems to be commonplace in US discourse: talk about something bad that people are doing (in this case, doing bad history to fit an agenda), then claim to correct it, when you are in fact doing the same thing for a different agenda.

Jim S. said...

Yeesh, I was kind of hoping you guys would skip over the politics stuff and just look at the books he listed on science and religion.

Humphrey said...

Some of those books on the list are very good. The ones which I have read or dipped into are:

>Earthly Powers
>Sacred Causes
>Galileo Goes to Jail
>God's Philosophers
>God and Reason in the Middle Ages
>The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages
>Science and Religion: A Historical Introduction
>The Emergence of a Scientific Culture
>God and Nature
>When Science and Christianity Meet
>Science in the Middle Ages

What's dodgy?; anything by Rodney Stark really.

Jim S. said...

By the way, here's irrefutable evidence that Hitler was a leftist.

TheOFloinn said...

The idea that the Crusades were actually some kind of defensive warfare that bravely turned back the tides of Islamic wickedness from the gates of brave Europe is kooky enough.

Perhaps he was confused by the Islamic conquest of the Christian heartland in Palestine, Syria, Egypt, and North Africa in 630-641; the siege of Constantinople in 674 and again in 717; the attacks on Byzantine Sicily in 652, 667 and 720; the occupation of Syracuse in 708; attacks on Sardinia; the conquest of Spain in 711-712; the invasion of Gaul in 732; the razzia through Asia Minor in 781-82 (and pretty much annually thereafter); the destruction of Ankara and Heraclea and the conquest of Tyana in 806; attacks on Cyprus and Rhodes; the conquest of Crete in 824; the invasion of Anatolia (again) in 830-838; the conquest of Sicily in 827, 830 and 875; the devastation of Calabria; the plundering of Ancona and of Adria, in the Po delta in 840; the conquest of Taranto in 840 and Brindisi in 841; the destruction of Capua; the occupation of Benevento from 840-847 and from 851-852; attacks on Rome in 843, 846 and 849; conquest of Taormina in 902 and Reggio Calabria in 918; sack of Thessalonika in 904; attacks on Genoa and Pisa in 934 and 935; massacre of Pisa depopulating the site for a generation; attacks on Pisa in 1004, 1011, and 1012; the occupation of Sardinia in 1015 and consequent additional raids on Genoa and Pisa; the battle of Manzikert in 1071 and the consequent occupation of Asia Minor.

It's easy to see how someone could get confused.

Of course, in the midst of all this there were counterattacks: by the Spaniards, by the Pisans, by the Normans in Sicily, by the Byzantines (who recaptured most of Syria. Antioch was retaken in 969, lost to the Saljuqs in 1084, then re-taken by the first crusaders in 1098.)

Tim O'Neill said...

TheOFloinn wrote Perhaps he was confused

“Confused” is the word. To believe that the highly intermittent raiding and minor operations in the western Mediterranean in the Eleventh Century somehow sparked the Crusades as some kind of grand strategic response to a genuine threat to Europe could certainly be described as “confused”. Another way to describe it would be “barking mad right wing fantasy”.

There’s an extensive scholarly literature on the many and various causes of the Crusades and the origins of the Crusading movement. Strangely, none of these fine scholars have noted that these raids somehow represented a dire threat to Europe that required and/or triggered an invasion of the Holy Land in response. Oddly, it’s taken right wing American polemicists to reveal this unto us.

Excuse me if I stick with the scholars and not the shrill ranting Limbaugh-style clowns who write crap like The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Crusades.

sparrish said...

O'Neil: I would not use the term defensive warfare myself. I would say instead the crusades were a counter attack after centuries of Muslim aggression. The point is not that there was at that time a direct, dire threat to Europe at that moment. But after centuries of being attacked, and with the fall of most of Asia Minor to the Turks, and with the persecution of pilgrims to the Holy Land, a counter stroke is understandable. That Islam was a long term threat to Europe is shown by the fact that after the crusades, the Muslims began their advance again.

Tim O'Neill said...

Of course there was an element of reaction to several centuries of to-and-fro in the Mediterranean as part of the many complex factors that led to the Crusading movement. But what the Limbaughesque polemicists are claiming was that there was nothing "aggressive" about the Crusades and they were simply justified actions to "defend" Europe from the threat of rampaging Muslims hordes.

That's as much a fantasy as WMDs in Iraq.

Noons said...

Shouldn't contemporary documents be able to shed light on the justifications for the crusades?

sparrish said...

Seeing as the Muslims had conquered over half the Christian world, and had been attacking and raiding ever since, why is a Christian counter-attack aggressive? At the risk of sounding like a kid, the Muslims had started it, and kept it going for centuries. The Christians were fighting to retake lands that had long been Christian. And what does Rush Limbaugh had to do with any of this?

Tim O'Neill said...

Noons wrote:

Shouldn't contemporary documents be able to shed light on the justifications for the crusades?

Yes. And, unsurprisingly, these have been extensively studied in the rich scholarly literature on the causes and origins of the Crusades. The idea that Europe was under threat from rampaging Muslim hordes is nowhere to be found in any of them.

sparrish wrote:

And what does Rush Limbaugh had to do with any of this?

Those who claim the Crusades were some kind of defensive reaction against a Muslim threat are right-wing blowhard polemicists in the mould of the idiot Limbaugh.

People who want to look at what actually caused the Crusades can consult a number of real scholars, not idiot blowhards with a biased agenda. I'd recommend Carl Erdmann's The Origin of the Idea of Crusade and, more recently, Jonathan Riley-Smith's The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading . These gentlemen are more likely to give a sober and objective analysis of history than clowns who want to project Bush's "War on Terror" Fox News soundbite rhetoric onto the past.

sparrish said...

The idea that the crusades were caused by an immediate threat from rampaging Muslim hordes is not what I am saying. I am not sure that any one is. The Christians saw the Muslims as long term threat, and also were living with contemporary Muslim aggression and persecution. They were right to do so.

Your constant attacks on people like Coulter and Limbaugh does nothing to advance your argument.

sparrish said...

That should be "do nothing to advance your argument." My grammar is not that good in the early morning (or any other time for that matter).

Anonymous said...

O'Neill seems to have a bee in his bonnet over this.

Karl said...

I agree with O'Neill. Muslim military operations in the Middle East in the 10th and 11th centuries were no real threat to continental Europe. The only thing they might have done is affect the European-Middle Eastern trade system and hurt some European nations-like Venice-economies a bit.

Tim O'Neill said...

Sparrish said:

The idea that the crusades were caused by an immediate threat from rampaging Muslim hordes is not what I am saying.

Glad to hear it.

I am not sure that any one is.

I’ve come across precisely that “argument” many times in the last few years. I’ve been told that the Crusades were a reaction to a Muslim threat to Europe and were pre-emptive counter-attacks to protect Europe against the wicked hordes of jihadists. You know, “we’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here” etc. In fact, this whole “argument” was pretty much Bush Administration Iraq policy projected onto the Middle Ages, though minus the WMDs fantasy.

And when I ask these people where that got these weird fantasies, I have had them point to precisely the books we can see in the lists on the post above.

The Christians saw the Muslims as long term threat

A threat to the holy places in Palestine.

and also were living with contemporary Muslim aggression and persecution.

In France? In Flanders? In Normandy? What nonsense.

Your constant attacks on people like Coulter and Limbaugh does nothing to advance your argument

Would that be Rush “Obama the Magic Negro” Limbaugh and Ann “Let’s invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity” Coulter? Those wise and judicious purveyors of informed and objective analysis? Give me a break.

Anonymous said:

O'Neill seems to have a bee in his bonnet over this.

Anyone who knows me could tell you I have a “bee in my bonnet” over anyone distorting history for any reason. And that includes people whose ideologies I share, as some of my rueful victims on the Dawkins forum could tell you in some detail.

TheOFloinn said...

To believe that the highly intermittent raiding and minor operations in the western Mediterranean in the Eleventh Century somehow sparked the Crusades

Minor only if you were not a Genoese and saw your city obliterated and depopulated for a generation. How many times do they have to lay siege to Rome? How many Mediterranean islands do they have to conquer? How many coastal towns in Italy do they have to burn and pillage before we allow the Europeans to cop a tude and say 'enough is enough'? Even if it was not centrally planned?

Those who claim the Crusades were some kind of defensive reaction against a Muslim threat

Taking the broad view, they were part of a "rolling reaction": the Reconquista in Spain, the Norman conquest of Sicily, the Pisan raid on Tunisia, the Byzantine recovery of Crete, Cyprus, Syria and Antioch.

Then along comes the Turks who take Antioch back and then break through into Asia Minor at Manzikert. The Emperor calls for help. This resonates with the earlier demolition of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (and other churches in Jerusalem) by the mad Fatimid caliph al-Hakim. Turkish, and with the attacks on pilgrimages, such as that of Bishop Gunther of Bamberg in 1065, from which only 2000 of the original 7000 pilgrims returned. (The Arab muslims had not hassled the pilgrimages; but Arab rule was breaking down.)

I recall in the history of World War One that there were the immediate causes of the war (Bosnia, Serbia, assassination, Austrian ultimatum) but also what were called the deeper causes: rivalry over African colonies, naval arms race, etc. So far as I know, no Allied power cited African colonies as a reason for the actual declaration of war.

I dunno. It may be that history matters. Even if the raids on Italy or the conquest of Sicily (and Sardinia and Malta and the Balerics and...) happened a while back and were not the immediate cause for answering the Emperor's call, it certainly seems to be part of a broad sweep in which Saracen forces were attacking and raiding for several hundred years, from the 7th century to the 11th, and then for about two centuries -- the kingdom of Jerusalem lasted only about a hundred years; but Antioch held out longer, IIRC -- the Europeans returned the favor, after which (under Turkish aegis) the jihad resumed and swallowed up the Balkans to the gates of Vienna in the 17th century. There has now been another respite, from the Russo-Turkish wars to the present.

So taking a step back from the whole shebang, it does look a bit like a 200 year counterattack in the middle of a 1000 year attack.

Tim O'Neill said...

TheOFloinn wrote:

So taking a step back from the whole shebang, it does look a bit like a 200 year counterattack in the middle of a 1000 year attack.

Which makes the mistake of seeing all those many, various, disconnected and often highly local actions and reactions as some kind of "attack" by Islam. They were nothing of the sort.

Of course some of these things influenced the rise of the Crusading movement (as I've already fully acknowledged) - especially the awareness of the loss of Jerusalem, memories of al-Hakim and troubles for pilgrims. And of course the repercussions of the Byzantine loss at Manzikert was a primary catalyst.

But that is nothing like the right-wing polemicist fantasy I'm objecting to and which is presented in the books in those lists linked to above.

Jim S. said...

Tim, I can't stand Rush Limbaugh, but it was a Democrat who referred to President Obama as a "magic negro". Limbaugh then mocked this Democrat and this attitude.

Daniel Hychuck said...

@Tim:

If you were only objecting to a polemicist fantasy that would be fine, but neither Limbaugh nor Coulter (in neither of whom I have any interest whatever, to be clear) were involved in anything that's being discussed here, and your frequent digressions involving them are both distracting and lame. Nobody was defending them, much less promoting them; Sparrish, in particular, simply mentioned as much himself, and you responded as though you issuing take-downs of their failings was somehow germane either to his comments or to the subject at hand. It isn't.

Also, I object strongly to your characterization of those who hold the positions you condemn. Perhaps some really are polemicists and/or deceitful ideologues; it's more likely, however, that they (especially if casual readers rather than pundits or what have you) are the recipients of incomplete information who are nevertheless attempting to challenge the mainstream "everyone knows" characterisation of the Crusades as some act of naked, unprovoked aggression on the part of a Christian Europe that had never had any cause to be uneasy about the Islamic powers beyond their Brown Otherness. That's a far more pernicious and widespread view of the campaigns in question, and you'd do better to help those standing against it with charitable and informative correction rather than this ridiculous, misdirected outrage.

You're not coming off very well in this, even if you are right. It's true that you might reasonably ask who the hell I am to say that, but I don't really care. I've greatly liked your work at the Armarium, but I am not liking it here.

Karl said...

Tim,

It was Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid that originally made the "Magic Negro" comment.

http://open.salon.com/blog/ajcalhoun/2010/01/11/harry_reid_and_his_magic_negro_moment

When Limbaugh mentioned it on his show he was mocking Reid. I don't always like Limbaugh but give credit where credit is due.

Noons said...

Daniel,

I'm actually going to side with Tim on the Limbaugh/Coulter thing. These historians who Tim is rightly taking to task are interpreting the past in a very similar way to how Limbaugh, Coulter etc. interpret the present: Through a very thick lens of their own worldview.

Now back to the important things. As an International Relations major, I do find it fascinating to look at this period in history from a Foreign Policy Realist perspective.

Also, I think one of the things going on here (in viewing the Crusades as defensive wars) is a tendency to "crunch" history past a certain number of centuries ago. These polemicist historians seem to have no problem with saying that the Europeans were still being threatened in the 12th century because they had been mercilessly attacked in the 8th century. Though it would be madness to say that a 20th century aggressive war was justifiable because of a defensive war fought in the 17th century.

Tim O'Neill said...

Karl observed:

It was Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid that originally made the "Magic Negro" comment.

And this makes the drug-addled moron Limbaugh somehow credible and the nonsense about how the Crusades were counter attacks against Al Qaeda somehow sensible history. Or something.

For every sensible post I see on this blog I find some barking mad nonsense in the comments that really make me worry about its readership.

sparrish said...

About 200 hundred years after the fall of last crusader states, the Turks were attacking Vienna. And about 25 years before the launching of the first crusade, the Byzantine Empire, which had long blocked the Muslim advance, had been badly weakened by Manzikert, and the loss of most of Asia Minor. There was a long term threat.

Tim O'Neill said...

About 200 hundred years after the fall of last crusader states, the Turks were attacking Vienna. And about 25 years before the launching of the first crusade, the Byzantine Empire, which had long blocked the Muslim advance, had been badly weakened by Manzikert, and the loss of most of Asia Minor. There was a long term threat.

And were these "threats" co-ordinated by some evil Muslim mastermind or was this simply localised and unrelated geopolitical jockeying and to and fro? The idea that this was "ISLAM" (dramatic chords!) attacking "us" (sweet, tinkly happy music!) is weird fantasy.

Get a grip please.

sparrish said...

O'Neil: You are attacking a strawman. There was no Muslim mastermind, of course. There was the usual aggression and conquest we find throughout history. But there was also the Islamic doctrine of Jihad to justify aggressive war on non-Muslims. The countries of the Near East and North Africa were once Christian, then turned Muslim by force. If you were a medieval Christian leader, I think that you might worry about this.

Analogy: if six years ago somewhat beat you to a pulp and stole half of your belongings, and then at frequent intervals ever since had hit you and stole your things whenever he could, you would rightfully fear what he might do next, even if he hadn't hit you for a month.

Your insults do nothing to advance your argument.

Tim O'Neill said...

Sparrish wrote:

O'Neil: You are attacking a strawman.

(i) My name is Tim O'Neill. If you're going to keep trying to refer to me by my name, get it right. It's really not that hard. Cut and paste if all else fails. Sorry, but that sort of thing annoys we Irishmen. We're funny that way. We bomb people for less.

(ii) I'm attacking the nonsense idea in the books on the Crusades listed in the post above. If you aren't defending that barking mad right wing bullshit, feel free to stop responding to my comments.

Have a sweet and lovely day.

Karl said...

Tim,

And this makes the drug-addled moron Limbaugh somehow credible and the nonsense about how the Crusades were counter attacks against Al Qaeda somehow sensible history. Or something.

I didn't say that Limbaugh credible; in fact, I said I don't always like Limbaugh and I disagree with a lot of what he says. I merely pointed out that it wasn't Limbaugh who made the 'Magic Negro' comment.

For every sensible post I see on this blog I find some barking mad nonsense in the comments that really make me worry about its readership.

Tim, in all honesty, you are the one who comes off as barking mad a lot of times. I don't even like Limbaugh and I think you are overreacting when his name is brought up.

sparrish said...

O'Neill then: Fine, I apologize for mispelling your name. I have made my points, and will probably stop posting. If you wish to attack the books on the list though, it might be better if you actually quote what they say and refute that.

Tim O'Neill said...

Deary me ...

Karl actually said (no, really):

you are the one who comes off as barking mad a lot of times

I'll let those who know my writing judge that "interesting" comment.

sparrish wrote:

If you wish to attack the books on the list though, it might be better if you actually quote what they say and refute that.

I have. If you want to defend them, feel free to do so. That should be fun.

Toodle pip.

Tim O'Neill said...

Daniel Hychuck wrote:
Perhaps some (are) attempting to challenge the mainstream "everyone knows" characterisation of the Crusades as some act of naked, unprovoked aggression on the part of a Christian Europe that had never had any cause to be uneasy about the Islamic powers beyond their Brown Otherness.

And I'd have every bit as much scorn for that "mainstream characterisation". Because it's every bit as much a load of nonsense as the idea that the Crusades were some "Bush Doctrine" counter attack against "Islam".

You're not coming off very well in this, even if you are right.

My only position here is objectivity. And I am right. If you think scorning modern political bias - whether it's "left" or "right" - means I'm "not coming off very well", I think I'll live with that. I have a visceral hatred of skewed history. And I don't care who is doing the skewing or why. Or if I agree with their perspectives or not. It you warp history, I'll cane you.

I've greatly liked your work at the Armarium, but I am not liking it here.

It's the same work. Like it or not - that's your choice. But this "the Crusades were defending Europe against them damned raghead MUUUSSLIMSSS!" bullshit is bullshit and will be called as bullshit by me and any objective analyst.

TheOFloinn said...

Europeans were still being threatened in the 12th century because they had been mercilessly attacked in the 8th century.

a) and also in between, most recently by the Turks in Anatolia. That's why the Emperor called for help.

b) on another board, another historian just took a fellow to task over Franco-British rivalries, citing the long history of conflicts between the two. The Napoleonic wars were not a specific counterattack in response to the Hundred Years' War, but history probably matters.

TheOFloinn said...

And were these "threats" co-ordinated by some evil Muslim mastermind or was this simply localised and unrelated geopolitical jockeying and to and fro? The idea that this was "ISLAM" (dramatic chords!) attacking "us" (sweet, tinkly happy music!) is weird fantasy.

It is almost impossible for the modern and the post-modern to take seriously anything that is not centrally planned and directed. Everything is seen through the thick prism of modern categories of thought.

Karl said...

Tim,

I'll let those who know my writing judge that "interesting" comment.

Well, let's see; you are the one who brought Limbaugh's and Coulter's names up. Nobody else mentioned them nor was anybody supporting their work. You have subsequently went on several tirades on both their opinions and character that have about as much to do with this discussion as does the price of tea in China. You miss-attribute a quote to Limbaugh and when I correct you on this you jump down my throat (I had thought that someone who prides themselves on their only position is objectivity would have wanted to get the damn quote right.) I even agree with you on the damn issue of the Crusades but I still think you are ripping TheOFloinn and sparrish's words and arguments out of context and needlessly belittling them.

God, when ever I get in a conversation with you-and even when I agree with you-on this site you make me want to slap you for being such an aggressive, arrogant bastard. And if Daniel's comments are anything to go by, I am not the only one who feels the same way. So yeah, we will let those who know your writing judge that "interesting" comment.

Tim O'Neill said...

It continues thus ... :

Well, let's see; you are the one who brought Limbaugh's and Coulter's names up.

Can you think of better examples of archetypal right wing blowhard idiots? Or would you like to pretend they aren't right wing blowhard idiots? Sorry, what are you saying, exactly?

You miss-attribute a quote to Limbaugh

Whether it was original to him or not, he uses it. And his particular use of it doesn't exactly support the idea of Limbaugh as a wise and sober analyst of anything much at all. Though I'll grant you he's fractionally more credible to those of us with more than three brain cells than that shrieking harridan Coulter.

I want to slap you for being such an aggressive, arrogant bastard

When you go to bed tonight perhaps you can clutch your pillow and console yourself that many atheists on the Dawkins forum and many "leftists" on other forums feel the same way. What they have in common is that they let their ideology skew their analysis of facts in general and history in particular.

If you feel like them, perhaps you need to ask yourself WHY.

Sleep well. ;>

TheOFloinn said...

So taking a step back from the whole shebang, it does look a bit like a 200 year counterattack in the middle of a 1000 year attack.

Which makes the mistake of seeing all those many, various, disconnected and often highly local actions and reactions as some kind of "attack" by Islam. They were nothing of the sort.

As I said, moderns and post-moderns seem to have trouble with non-centralized movements. What did it look like to the people of the time. Lukacs used to say that we must look at the Battle of Salamis "as if the Persians might still win" and that it is mistaken to view the past with the categories of thought we use today. Did the Byzantines and Latins think of themselves as having been suffering centuries of attacks and losses of territory? Did they think of it as "finally, we strike back!" along with the Reconquista, the Normans in Sicily, and the Pisan attack on Tunisia?

It seems to me often possible that, by avoiding one error so far as possible, we can fall into an opposite error. Post-colonialist historiography cannot help but view the actions of Europeans as somehow aggressive, imputing to them such notions as "ragheads" or the "brown Other," which would have puzzled them considerable, I think. Because religion is no longer central to post-modern life, we imagine that it could not have been central to medieval life. (Muslims of my acquaintance still find this attitude puzzling and not a little scandalous.)

Tim O'Neill said...

TheOFloinn said:

Because religion is no longer central to post-modern life, we imagine that it could not have been central to medieval life.

You hardly need to tell that to ME, of all people. And I regularly find myself pointing out the extensive evidence that the Crusades were not just substantially motivated by genuine religious belief, but that this was actually the primary motivation. This is in the face of people who insist that the "real" motivations were "greed", or "loot" or "power".

That the implications of infidels controlling the holy places of Palestine were a major motivator of the Crusades is beyond doubt. That still doesn't present a shred of support for the moronic right wing fantasy of the Crusades as a "defensive war against Islamic jihadists".

Karl said...

Tim,

Can you think of better examples of archetypal right wing blowhard idiots? Or would you like to pretend they aren't right wing blowhard idiots? Sorry, what are you saying, exactly?

That maybe you should address other people's comments directly rather then try and link them to the opinions to a couple of right-wing pundits, whose opinions and comments you are probably also exaggerating and taking out of context, and launching ad hominem assaults on those pundits?

Whether it was original to him or not, he uses it. And his particular use of it doesn't exactly support the idea of Limbaugh as a wise and sober analyst of anything much at all. Though I'll grant you he's fractionally more credible to those of us with more than three brain cells than that shrieking harridan Coulter.

He used it to mock the guy who made the comment in the first place and the entire line of thinking. Wise and sober analyst he might not be but he was correct in this situation. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

When you go to bed tonight perhaps you can clutch your pillow and console yourself that many atheists on the Dawkins forum and many "leftists" on other forums feel the same way.

Cute and you wonder why I call you arrogant?

What they have in common is that they let their ideology skew their analysis of facts in general and history in particular.

Not at all an uncommon character trait and many people who think they are above such things exhibit it even as they ridicule others for having it.

If you feel like them, perhaps you need to ask yourself WHY.

Maybe it is because you are an arrogant, aggressive asshole? Nah, that couldn't be it. It has to be because the great Tim O'Neill is never wrong and all those that disagree with him are idiotic losers blinded by their own fantasies. That is the only logical explanation.

TheOFloinn said...

the moronic right wing fantasy of the Crusades as a "defensive war against Islamic jihadists".

We're probably not too far apart, though any argument stuffed with words like 'moronic' and 'fantasy' might be taken as tendentious. It may be less a matter of 'defensive war' than 'counterattack.'

Did the US, for example, engage in a defensive war against Germany in the 1940s? After all, Germany not only had not attacked the US, but was logistically incapable of attacking the US. Her Navy was under strict orders not to engage US ships, even if fired upon. Was it even, strictly speaking, a 'counterattack'?

I think it boils down to how we envision what is meant by 'defensive war' or 'counterattack.' whether it must involve an imminent threat or whether a long history between the parties is sufficient, whether it must be centrally planned or not, etc. Thus, one can say 'yes, it was a counterattack' and the other say 'no, it was not a defensive war' and both be correct because each has a different mental image of the thing being discussed. Recall that Lagrangists and Laplacians could draw opposite conclusions from the selfsame experiment because Laplace and Lagrange had used different conceptualizations of 'pressure.' If this is true in physics, how much more so in history?

James said...

An email from a Dawkinista once accused me of fancying Anne Coulter. This worried me as I had no idea who she was. So I googled for a picture and on that basis alone thought that actually I might.

Noons said...

Should this be moved to the forum?

I think all that bickering in the middle came from some misunderstanding, because that's quite a lot of bickering between people who are agreeing on most things.

Anyway, besides the bickering about historians and TV pundits, I do find this discussion fascinating, so I propose it be moved to the forum.

Kristofer said...

Karl

Your Christianity is just shining again isn't it? You never bought much into that notion of loving you enemies did you?

Joel said...

Tim is right here. Yes, the centuries of war against the Muslims (and particularly recent Muslim advances against the Byzantines) were one of the factors leading to the Crusades, but only one of them. The roots of the crusades are complex. They were not completely unprovoked wars of aggression, but they cannot be baptized (especially the First Crusade) as defensive wars or counterattacks to protect Europe.

Karl said...

Kristofer,

I already explained to you how turn the other cheek does not apply in every case. I provided you with scholarly links to back up that point and the point Christians are allowed to defend themselves (that includes their positions in a debate); both of which you seemed to have ignored. I have pointed out that somebody (namely you) who rejects Christianity and its teachings and argues repeatedly against said teachings has absolutely no right to try and hide behind those teachings when the debate gets heated.

And last, but certainly not least, the person who starts throwing insults and condescending remarks in a debate has absolutely no right to play the Poor little me, my opponent is bullying me act when his opponent responds in kind. Tim, at least, has a definite leg up on you in that regard; he gives as good as he gets and has never once tried to play the victim. Now are you don't making cheap, unwarranted shots at provocation in attempt to boost your wounded ego and pride? Or are you willing to actually contribute to this discussion?

Kristofer said...

Karl

I really don't mind you acting this way. I consider you a perfect example of why someone should not be a Christian. In the Book of Acts Agrippa remarked to Paul you almost convinced me . You have the exact opposite result on people Karl.

I want people to read your arguments. I want people to see your conduct. I want people too see your shallow reasoning and your crass insulting. I want them to be disgusted by your existence like I am. As soon as I saw the response to Tim even without looking at who authored it I knew it was you.

I have no wounded ego Karl. If you think in our last " discussion" you "scored one for Christ" then you are truly deluded. I will happily show and have shown our discussion to non Christian and Christians I know and none of them found the virgin birth to be any more likely after reading your "arguments". Frankly the Christians were ashamed of you.

One response from you is worth any ten skeptical article, so please keep it up Karl.

Karl said...

Kristofer,

I really don't mind you acting this way. I consider you a perfect example of why someone should not be a Christian. In the Book of Acts Agrippa remarked to Paul you almost convinced me . You have the exact opposite result on people Karl.

So you say that the book of Acts almost convinced you, but words are cheap on the internet. And I have the exact opposite result on you, don't presume to speak for everyone. And I consider you to be a real sterling example of everything that is wrong with your typical internet skeptic.

I want people to read your arguments. I want people to see your conduct. I want people too see your shallow reasoning and your crass insulting.

Really? This coming from a guy whose arguments are pretty much a text-book list of every logical fallacy there is? But no matter, I will let them judge my previous conduct (and yours) in the two previous discussions I had with you.

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=5074683&postID=7504242297220833952

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=5074683&postID=8201144640749480864

As soon as I saw the response to Tim even without looking at who authored it I knew it was you.

I find that hard to believe Kristofer for the simple fact that the author's name is at the top of the post and in bold letters. It is usually the first thing people's eyes are drawn to.

I have no wounded ego Karl. If you think in our last " discussion" you "scored one for Christ" then you are truly deluded. I will happily show and have shown our discussion to non Christian and Christians I know and none of them found the virgin birth to be any more likely after reading your "arguments".

So you say, but I will say it again; words are cheap on the internet. I could just as easily say that I have shown your comments to a bunch of my friends, colleagues and students and most of them found your rationalizations, evasions, insulting attitude and intellectual cowardice to be sad and pathetic. Could be true, could not be true. Anyway, if you think I am going to lose sleep over what a bunch of anonymous internet dumbasses think of me you are sorely mistaken.

Frankly the Christians were ashamed of you.

Kristofer, for some reason I think the average Christian is going to have more problems with your rejection of the Virgin Birth, Jesus's claims of Divinity, your accusations of fraud and deceit on the part of the Biblical authors then with me responding in kind to your insults and condescending attitude.

One response from you is worth any ten skeptical article, so please keep it up Karl.

And one response from you is worth its weight in gold. Normally I have to pay money to get quality comedic entertainment that actually makes me laugh. Now I am going to ask you again, are you actually going to try to contribute to this discussion? Or are you just simply going to keep trying to bait me?

Kristofer said...

Karl I will leave this as my last comment. Lets just let people read our responses in the last discussion.

What is your real name Karl, just so I can watch the news. If you act like this in real life someone is going to put a bullet through your head. I for one think that will be a favor to humanity.

Just crank out a few more responses, make sure you don't reproduce and lets hope your parents didn't make any more like you.

Karl said...

Kristofer,

Karl I will leave this as my last comment. Lets just let people read our responses in the last discussion.

Oh, I am all for that.

What is your real name Karl, just so I can watch the news.

Karl is my real first name. And no, I don't give out much of my personal information on the internet.

If you act like this in real life someone is going to put a bullet through your head. I for one think that will be a favor to humanity.

You don't get out much do you? Most people have thicker skin then you do. What I have said to you is mild compared to what people like PZ Meyers say to people they disagree with. What insults I have thrown your way is mild compared to some of the insults I get. Hell, Tim O'Neill has insulted me worse then I did you.

Just crank out a few more responses, make sure you don't reproduce and lets hope your parents didn't make any more like you.

You say something like this and then expect me to be nice to you? You say something like this and then you try to play the victim?

Kristofer, grow up.

Anonymous said...

Yo. Christian here. Although I can't say I appreciate Karl's attitude, Kristopher has had the exact opposite effect on me than what he claims.

I had a post on one of his more bizarre assertions (Missionaries claimed Jesus was a warlord? LOL WUT?) but it seems to have disappeared into the winds of the internet. Oh well. Just pretend you read a witty, well-thought and crushing critique, or alternately just think about that claim for a few minutes.

Kristofer said...

you mean like was discussed in this post Anon?

http://bedejournal.blogspot.com/2009/08/saxon-saviour.html

Here are some interesting quotes from it

‘Christ, the most powerful of kings decided to go to Capharnaum, the great hill fort, with his followers. His forces of good men, his HAPPY WARRIOR COMPANY assembled in front of him’

‘Christ’s deep fear before battle, his last salute in the garden’ and ‘Christ the CHIEFTAIN is captured, Peter the MIGHTY SOLDIER defends him boldly’

"Christ’s WARRIOR COMPANIONS saw warriors coming up the mountain making a great din"

I do in fact think the missionaries somewhat sold Jesus as a warlord to the Saxons, don't you Anon?

Anonymous said...

Well, then, I admit I am in error. Have a nice day.