It is not uncommon for unbelievers and other opponents to stoop to criticizing and dwelling on our method of interaction, to the omission of discussing the matter at hand. Perhaps, in some cases, they are simply offended by our methods, and enjoy criticizing them more than actually staying on topic. In other cases, criticizing an opponent’s methodology makes a nice-looking smokescreen for covering up the refutation of one’s arguments. Express some righteous indignation about all the bad things your opponent is doing, and voilà, your bad arguments can slip out the back door without being noticed.
The point of this page is to address some of these potential points of criticism up front, and explain why these things are done this way. Most of these points simply come down to the fact that we don’t have time to waste haggling with people who refuse to engage in honest and substantive dialogue. I use the term “haggling,” because it is an apt description of what many discussions turn into when one party refuses to dialogue honestly and substantively. To avoid this, I have written the following, to provide both a disclosure and defense of certain actions that some individuals may find disagreeable. As a disclosure, this document serves the purpose of mitigating any shock factor: “oh my, how could he have done that?!” These terms are publicly available, and actions described in these terms should therefore come as no surprise. As a defense, this document can be cited when such criticisms arise. If you don’t like the actions described in these terms, you need to deal with the reasons given for them in this document.
Note: when I say “us” or “our” in this page, I am referring to myself as well as like-minded brothers in Christ who engage in similar kinds of apologetic activity online. These terms are extended solely by me (Matthew C. Martellus), though the reasons underlying many of these are also accepted by many like-minded believers.
Engage in honest and substantive discussion.
This is straightforward enough. If you engage in discussion honestly, reasonably, and substantively, then the rest of this page does not apply to you.
I may ban or refuse to interact with you directly.
If we are interacting on a site for which I am an admin, I may decide to ban you. The reasons for this are to put an end to disturbances that you are causing, and allow honest, substantive conversations to continue unhindered. Our sites are not a platform for you to come in, cause a ruckus, and spew your invective. Comment sections are open as a courtesy for those who wish to have an honest, substantive discussion. Respect that, or you will be banned.
I also reserve the right to talk about you in the third person, addressing certain points that you have raised to the other parties of the conversation. The purpose of this is to continue to destroy lies and misinformation that you are promoting, when it seems to my judgment that interacting with you directly will have no worthwhile effect. This bears no essential dissimilarity to refusing to acknowledge a heckler when addressing a crowd. We engage in apologetic interaction for the benefit of those who would conduct an honest and substantive discussion, and from this it follows that we should not divert our time and energies to those who would not. However, such a refusal to divert time and energies to direct interaction does not mean that lies and misinformation promoted by such individuals should not be addressed, especially if such proves to be a detriment to those who are attempting to have an honest and substantive discussion.
In addition, being banned and/or refused further direct interaction does not mean that I will not resume direct interaction if I judge continuing such interaction to be more beneficial than maintaining the cessation of such interaction. Such occasions, however, are the exception, not the rule.
God has not called us to spend endless hours going around in circles with scoffers.
If you show yourself to be a scoffer, and after rebuke do not repent and produce fruit in keeping with repentance (cf. Matt. 3:8), you will be banned and/or refused further direct interaction. For more information, read this.
Deal in issues of (intellectual) substance. Attacking someone’s character does not qualify. Dwelling on specific character flaws of specific individuals in an apologetic context is simply a diversion, and those who raise such diversions will be banned and/or refused further direct interaction.
Do not misconstrue our arguments.
Anyone who continues, after explicit correction, in misrepresenting our arguments is simply lying about us. And, as a general rule, it is a diversion and waste of time to haggle with those who are intent upon lying about and misrepresenting what you have said. Anyone who tendentiously misrepresents our arguments will be banned and/or refused further direct interaction.
Do not be surprised if reference materials are cited.
I have neither the time nor the ability to lay out every argument in detail, or to respond to every point. One of the reasons that books and articles are written is so that the authors don’t have to “reinvent the wheel” every time someone wants to learn the material contained in the work they have authored. Books and articles are meant to be read. If they are cited, read them. There is a certain extent to which it is reasonable to expect one to explain how a citation is relevant, or supports a certain contention. It is not reasonable to expect one to explain in minute detail how a citation is relevant, or supports a certain contention. This defeats the purpose of the citation. There is no reason to haggle with someone who refuses to accept a citation for what it is and why it was made, and refuses to respond substantively. Such haggling simply wastes time and diverts our efforts away from more important works that we should be about doing. Anyone who refuses to substantively interact with citations, and continues to merely raise objections in a manner that equates to telling a Christian to “Dance, Monkey, Dance!” will be banned and/or refused further direct interaction.
Do not be surprised if I recap the discussion.
Many drawn-out discussions become hard to follow, and it is not always easy for a reader to know which point have been answered (and how), and which points have not. In other cases, people sometimes stubbornly refuse to address or acknowledge points that would be destructive to their position. For any, or all of these reasons, I may decide to write a recap of the discussion and show which points were answered (and how), and which points were not.
It should be made clear that recapping a discussion is not equivalent to “treating someone like a moron.” Authors provide summary sections in their books and articles, and debaters (such as William Lane Craig) “flow” their debates for the purposes listed above. It has nothing to do with treating the readers/audience like morons. Criticizing a recap in such a manner, without demonstrating the correctness of your criticism, will get you banned and/or refused further direct interaction.
There will probably be more items that will need to be added to this document as time goes on. I reserve the right to modify these terms at any time. If you actually care enough to interact with these terms, it is your responsibility to make sure that you interact with the most current version.