The comment was from a Christian blogger named Mark Tetzlaff. His blog? “The Pullman WA Gospel Messengers“. The blog’s purpose? It is “devoted to the broadcast of the good news about Jesus Christ that every human being needs to hear.” Tetzlaff’s comment? “Personally I find many problems with Dawkins argument. See my blog …” And he linked to his review. I clicked through as I was interested in any and all reviews on Dawkins’ book.
Tetzlaff’s review (which you are welcome to read here) includes portions of a paragraph from “The Greatest Show on Earth” which were written on page 8 and 9 in my copy of the book. It is a section found in the introductory chapter, and by no means was ever meant to stand on its own as proof of evolution, but a cursory statement leading readers into the crux of Dawkins’ work.
However, Tetzlaff’s review only refutes this one portion of this one paragraph found at the beginning of the book. I say “one portion” because he left out some of the paragraph, probably for sake of space or superfluous statement in Tetzlaff’s opinion.
At college, if I reviewed or reported on a book, and my professor found that it was a review based on a paragraph in the first chapter, he or she would deduce that I hadn’t read the book and would fail the paper, as I would not have demonstrated a working knowledge of the book’s contents in any way.
My response to Tetzlaff was harsh. You can read the ugliness at the first link above. I criticized his review as “whiny” and pigeon-holed Tetzlaff having an argument based on nothing substantial. I said, “When you’ve got a review based on merit and evidence, I’ll consider your stance valid.”
Tetzlaff mistook my criticism of his stance and “opinion” as an attack of his person. Otherwise, he would not have criticized my retort as “ad hominem.” In the body of Tetzlaff’s review, he criticizes Dawkins for an ad hominem attack as well. As if Dawkins was writing the book and said, “Hey, that guy Mark Tetzlaff is a complete buffoon. Only an idiot like Tetzlaff wouldn’t accept the idea that god did it.”
That would have been ad hominem … a direct attack of person. Otherwise, it’s just a debate. And there’s a huge difference that Christians can’t seem to get through their thick skulls.
What happens is, Christians can’t decipher themselves from the arguments in which they promote. Their tendency is to spout all kinds of insubstantial rhetoric, and any debate against their arguments becomes personal attack.
At this level of discussion, both sides can easily accuse the other side of repeating a script. While I say, “Hey, you’re just repeating what you’ve been taught or something you read.” The same can be said for me, as I’ve never conducted a DNA exam. My research is limited to what’s been presented in books and documentaries. I’ve never discovered fossils. I’ve never personally come in contact with a direct example of evolution. By all means, criticize me for having a sort of faith.
Although, I’ll argue all day long that my faith includes pictorial evidence, Christian evidence is based completely on abstract ideologies and by taking a flag, sticking it in the universe and saying, “This is so great, GOD must have done it.”
What I have done is reviewed several sides of many arguments about evolution, creationism, intelligent design in great detail. The conclusion that I have reached is that evolution is superior to creationism, that naturalism is superior to supernaturalism, and that the message of the bible isn’t as positive as Christian’s claim ad nauseam that they think it’s GREAT! Personally, I am waiting for a decent response to evolution as I’ve yet to read just one. I’m waiting for the love of god to equal “love” and not some cruel form of hate that it really is. That’s what I talk about here in this blog, but I don’t go out searching for Christians to anger. I write about my experiences. That’s it. I’m not reaching out proselytizing to others blogs. If you want my opinion, it’s here for all to read.
Tetzlaff’s “review” of “The Greatest Show on Earth” isn’t based on the book in its entirety. It’s based on a bold claim that Dawkins’ wished to prove through the rest of the 400+ pages in his work.
Over at John Loftus’ blog Debunking Christianity, he made up the DB Challenge, which was for Christians to read a list of books and respond to them. If the Christians kept their faith after they read that list, everybody wins. The Christians’ faiths remain strong and atheists get the pleasure of knowing that the debate playing field has been leveled, because we find hardly any Christians have ever read a non-Christians argument, let alone ten of them. If the Christian loses his faith, then it wasn’t that strong to begin with and the Christian can move on to a stronger foundation of erudition. Win-win-win-win situation.
So to Tetzlaff, I posed my own challenge. I said that he must finish reading the book (or at least finish a detailed review in the event he has read the entire book). He can post full review to his blog, and I would be very happy to post here at Le Café if he wants me to. In return, he has to give me — not one — but TWO books to read and review. I will read any two Christian apologist books of his choice. We will track our progress and our thoughts at their conclusions.
Even if the books are ones I’ve read before, I will read them again. I’ll be up front with Tetzlaff. If I tell him I’ve read one or both recommendations, and he decides to provide another option, I’ll do that.
I imagine Tetzlaff’s goal was to get hits to his site by blindly copying and pasting his little link on atheist blogs. I didn’t invite him here. He came on his own. He didn’t take the time to get to know the blogger at this web address, and I believe it’s going to bite him in the ass. Had he read anything about me, or perhaps gotten to know me first, he may not have been so capricious to leave his little finger print on random post back in September.
So what do you say Mark? Will you accept the duel?