Friday, January 21, 2011

Hittites, skeptics, and hearsay

I apologize for this; I don’t generally like to create a post out of comment discussions, as it becomes disjointed. However, as you will see, this will simply be easier to read by putting in posting form. We continue our search for a skeptic who stated, “Hittites never existed.”

For Lurkers, the newest name proposed by Dave Armstrong in our Parade of Characters is E.A.T.W. Budge - prolific writer who wrote extensively on Egyptian history from 1885 – 1930.

We don’t have a specific writing from Sir Budge denying the existence of the Hittites; what we have are the writings of Melvin Grove Kyle (a contributor to The Fundamentals (1909) if that means anything to you!) where Kyle reports, “In 1904 one of the foremost archaeologists of Europe said to me: ‘I do not believe there ever were such people as the Hittites…’”

No name, situation or context is given for this anonymous quote. Dave Armstrong argues (persuasively, in my opinion) Melvin Kyle is implicating Sir Budge with this quote, without directly attributing it to Sir Budge. The documentation provided by Dave Armstrong supports this position:

1) In 1912 (three years after The Fundamentals), Melvin Kyle wrote The Deciding Voice of the Monuments in Biblical Criticism. At pg 105, he states:

Some had even gone so far as to say, though not often for publication, that “no such people as the Hittites ever existed.” Budge, in his History of Egypt, says: “The Kheta, who are, no doubt, the people referred to by the Assyrians under the name of Khatti, have been identified with the Hittites of Holy Scripture, but on insufficient grounds,” and again, “In passing it must be stated that the commonly accepted identification of the Kheta with the Hittites of the Bible is as yet unproved, since it rests only upon the similarity between the Hebrew name Heth, and the Egyptian name Kheta.”

The citation of Sir Budge immediately following the statement about Hittites not existing implicates Sir Budge either directly stated it, or supports it in his writing.

However…we encounter our first problem. Melvin Kyle is quote-mining. Sir Budge wrote a multi-volume set of History of Egypt in 1902. The second quoted sentence comes from Volume Six, page 34 [corrected link] where Sir Budge states
In passing it must be stated that the commonly accepted identification of the Kheta with the Hittites of the Bible is as yet unproved, since it rests only on a similarity of the Hebrew name Heth and the Egyptian name Kheta; on the other hand it may readily be conceded that the people who built the fortress temples of Baghaz-Köi and Eyuk belonged to the same race, if they were not actually the same people, as the Kheta depicted on the Egyptian monuments.

Whoops! Did you catch that? Melvin Kyle only quotes Sir Budge up to “Egyptian name Kheta” and then stops. I don’t know about you, but if I continued a sentence with “on the other hand” I would appreciate being quoted entirely! Sir Budge specifically states it is “readily conceded” the people who built the fortress (the Hittites), belonged to the same race as the Kheta, “if not actually the same people.” (his words.)

Sir Budge is NOT stating, “The Hittites never existed.” He is indicating is that the connection between the Kheta and the Hittites has yet to be proven at the time of his writing. Now look at the first quoted sentence by Kyle Melvin which comes from Sir Budge’s History of Egypt Vol. 4, pg 136 (1902)
The Kheta, who are no doubt the people referred to by the Assyrians under the name of Khatti, have been identified with the Hittites of Holy Scripture, but on insufficient grounds, and similarly the Khabiri have been identified with the Hebrews.

Again, Sir Budge questions whether Kheta is correctly identified with the Hittites. Not whether the Hittites existed at all.

1n 1906, archeology confirmed Kheta was referring to the Hittites.

Sir Budge wrote a book The Dwellers by the Nile which was originally published in 1885, but updated. I cannot confirm publication date of the copy linked, but in it, Sir Budge states at pg 53:

[F]or it was from this race the Khita nation, so celebrated for having waged war successfully against Ramses II, and recently identified with the Biblical Hittites, sprang.

(It appears in his later works Sir Budge refers to “Kheta” as “Khita.”) Reasonably, this was updated some time after 1906—after the discovery linking the two. If we review The Mummy: A Handbook of Egyptian Funerary Archeology published 1893, but updated 1925, Sir Budge repeatedly refers to the “Hittites” as historical without qualification.

At best what we have is a scholar who questioned the sufficiency of proofs whether “Kheta” was referring to the Hittites. Notice he carefully qualifies his statement. He doesn’t say, “Kheta does not refer to the Hittites” nor does he say, “The Hittites didn’t exist, so Kheta can’t be the biblical Hittites.” He says the case is “unproven.”

Further (contra Melvin Kyle’s quote-mining) Sir Budge states whether Kheta refers to the Hittites or not—If Kheta is not actually the same as the Hittites, they must be the same race. How could one claim Sir Budge was stating “the Hittites did not exist”? How could the Kheta be the same people, or at least the same race, as a myth?

Upon gaining new information, Sir Budge readily accepts Kheta and Hittites are the same.

Now to the second document.


2) Melvin Kyle’s entry on Archeology in the International Bible Encyclopedia (1915?) states,

Then grave doubts in the past have been raised concerning the Hittites Occasionally it has been boldly said that "no such people ever existed" (compare Newman, Hebrew Monarchy, 184-85; Budge, Hist of Egypt, IV, 136)

Uh-oh. Do you see those two cites? That first name may be familiar to you—Francis William Newman. He was a previous contestant in our Parade of names and we already blew out of the water the allegation Newman said, “Hittites don’t exist.” Indeed, he demonstrated he did think Hittites existed. And the second citation we have just demonstrated doesn’t hold water, either.

Realizing these entries are not enough, Dave Armstrong claims Sir Budge made an oral statement to Melvin Kyle, who did not attribute it to Sir Budge out of friendship. Curiously, the only support given is that they were in the same occupation (really? Everyone in the same occupation are friends?), and that Melvin Kyle didn’t attribute the quote to Sir Budge.

The second support is question-begging: We know they are friends, because Kyle didn’t attribute the quote to Sir Budge. Kyle didn’t attribute the quote to Sir Budge because they are friends.

I submit it more likely Melvin Kyle did not attribute this quote to Sir Budge, because Melvin didn’t want to be called out on it! Safer and anonymous to say, “I heard it from a leading archeologist” than to actually call out a name!

How many times have we had conversations like that? How many assertions have you heard, started with, “They say….” Or “Scientists claim…” And when we look for the proof (like we are doing here) all of a sudden “they” and “scientists” and “skeptics” become difficult to find!

This is the reason we do not allow hearsay (a witness stating, “She told me…”) in a courtroom. It is unreliable. We don’t know the context, the credibility, the bias or anything at all about the person making the hearsay statement.

Take this simple situation. Bob is testifying:

Bob: Tim told me the truck was red.

But Tim isn’t there; we cannot cross-examine him. What if Tim was color-blind? Or it turns out Tim wasn’t in a position to even see the truck? Or Tim has some bias? This is the reason we indicate attorneys must be allowed to cross-examine the ACTUAL witness. Not what someone else claims the person said.

We have the same problem here. What was the context where Sir Budge talked (if he did at all) to Melvin Kyle? How many of us have heard someone quote what we said, and think, “Wait a minute. I wasn’t saying that AT ALL!” or “Wait, that was taken totally out of context.”

Melvin Kyle already demonstrated he has no problem quote-mining. What if Sir Budge said, “The Hittites as literally described in the Bible? In my opinion, no such people existed”? Many other scholars questioned the literal accounts without questioning the Hittites existence. (The same way if I was talking about Exodus and someone mentioned the Egyptians willingly giving the exiting Hebrews gold, silver and clothing to the point the Egyptians were plundered. Exodus 12:35-36. I could respond, “No such people existed!” I am NOT saying Egyptians didn’t exist—I am saying those particular Egyptians are a myth.)

Melvin Kyle could easily take a sentence out of context or modify it, or mold it to his own wishes.

Or maybe he didn’t. Maybe Sir Budge said to him privately, “All this Hittite nonsense is bunk. No Hittites ever existed.” That is the problem with hearsay—we don’t know! This is why we must rely upon our sources, and avoid inferring something not there.

Finally, it appears anachronistic for Sir Budge to write about the similarities between the Hittites and the Khetas—if not the fact they were actually the same people!—and then privately proclaim the exact opposite. A hearsay statement conveniently fitting what a quote-mining apologist wants to hear, who carefully avoids attributing it to Sir Budge.

The actual quotes do not align with what Sir Budge claims—the fact Melvin Kyle cut out a most important portion should cause heavy concern regarding his reliability. Not to mention citing Newman, who we have already seen, contended Hittites existed. If Kyle is willing to misrepresent Newman and is willing to misrepresent Sir Budge, why should we consider him reliable for claiming an anonymous statement, implicating the opposite of what Sir Budge wrote?

32 comments:

  1. Yep, "liar" seems to be DagoodS' stock answer to every Christian counter-claim. We must be lying about it. What else could possibly explain our maddening intransigence and refusal to bow at our atheist overlords' feet and accept their manifest wisdom?

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  2. Your link to History of Egypt, Vol. VI, p. 34 is wrong. Here's the correct one.

    I added this link to my 3rd paper today, as an aid to quick reference for my readers.

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  3. Yep, "liar" seems to be DagoodS' stock answer to every Christian counter-claim.

    Sadly, that's because too many Christian claims turn out to actually be lies. The only honest Christians I know are the ones who don't take their religion very seriously.

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  5. I certainly wouldn't waste time with folks I consider inveterate liars. But of course there are very few I regard in that way.

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  6. Read Dave Armstrong’s reply. One word: Spin.

    Longer explanation: Dave Armstrong considers Kyle’s quote-mining of Sir Budge’s quotes (twice) by chopping out the end of sentences which conflict with his (Kyle and Dave Armstrong’s) position not important because…

    …those portions of the sentences were “not relevant.”

    No--I’m not kidding.

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  7. I made my arguments, and they were quite involved and systematic. You can choose to ignore them or misrepresent them (as you usually do), or actually interact with 'em: take your opponent seriously enough to grasp his argument and show everyone what is actually wrong with it, rather than simply calling it names (like "spin"). I know it's a novelty, but I think there is a good chance that you might like it if you tried it sometime.

    There has been no conflict demonstrated between Budge's words and my interpretations of what I believe was his pre-1904 position. Quite the contrary.

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  8. Do I have this conversation right? It's convoluted with webpages that refer to themselves etc, so I might be lost.

    Dave-As proof against DagoodS I offer my first piece of evidence (usually believed by the prosecution to be his strongest evidence.) FW Newman.

    Jon-(In comments section). Would he qualify as a skeptic on DagoodS' understanding?

    Dave-Yep. Look at how DagoodS uses the term "skeptic" elsewhere. You're stuck with him. Mwahahah.

    DagoodS-Well looky here (in comment section). FW Newman affirms the existence of the Hittites.

    Dave-I never said otherwise. Only that he severely doubted biblical particulars.

    Then why strain to show that he belongs in the skeptical camp? Color me confused. We proceed to Round 2.

    Dave-All right, another crack at it. Sumner is the one.

    DagoodS-Uhmmm. Isn't he affirming their existence with that quote?

    Dave-Just exactly as I expected. Not a bit surprised at your response. In fact I told a friend last night that this is what you'd do.

    DagoodS-WTF??

    Round 3

    Dave-Here it is. It's Budge. Not a quote from him. A quote from a guy that says AN UNNAMED PERSON told him he didn't believe the Hittites existed and we think he was probably referring to Budge.

    DagoodS-I think we're done here.

    Do I have this right?

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  9. Jon,

    Yeah…that’s about right.

    The only thing I would add is Kyle deliberately cutting out Budge’s sentences that indicate Budge stated Hittites did exist. And Dave Armstrong considers that part (where Budge is indicating the Hittites exist) “not relevant.”

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  10. Do I have this right?

    No, but it is entertaining and excellent for a good belly laugh. Thanks!

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  11. Hey, one other point, Dave. We say you sound different typed then you seem in person. Much more pleasant in person. You say the difference is that you don't get enough opportunity to talk. 16 atheists and one Christian you can't be expected to express yourself fully. WRONG. At your house we spoke one on one for a couple of hours. You were perfectly nice the whole time and had all the time you needed to express yourself. You're a really nice guy in person. Don't try and deny it.

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  12. I don't deny that I am a nice guy in person! LOL I just deny that I all of a sudden become a total ass in print. People get angry when they are disagreed with. I can't help that. I ain't gonna sugarcoat what I think is the truth. I refrain from personal attacks in print. That should be enough. But it isn't. People get upset and very insecure when they are hit right between the eyes, argument-wise.

    I'm a bulldog in argument. But again, I deny that this is the equivalent of being a jerk. No; it's simply vigorous argument. Most people can't handle that. They have no experience with it. They equate it with quarreling and putting people down.

    We don't say, e.g., that very intensely competitive athletes are jerks because they play so hard. They're nice, too, off the field or court. But you wanna play one-on-one with Kobe or LeBron and see how "nice" they are then? They don't have split personalities, either. They try their hardest in the sports competition. I fight hard when I am in argument, doing my apologetics. Their sports competitiveness ain't personal; neither are my apologetic arguments.

    You know I am a nice guy and you know I'm not an idiot. Yet to characterize what I was doing in this lengthy exchange the way you did above was absolutely ridiculous.

    You KNOW better than that. So does DagoodS. I'm either a "nice" or "pleasant" person or I'm not. I don't change like Jekyll and Hyde between writing and talking in person. Vastly different styles, yes, but no change in character or demeanor. I either have a few brain cells (as you have stated in print more than once) or I don't. I didn't all of a sudden become an imbecile in this discussion.

    But the quick descent to ludicrosity and mutual monologue is apparently the destiny of virtually all atheist-Christian discussion after a round or two. It's a disgrace. This is the sad state of our culture: everything is polarized; the other guy is demonized. No one seems to be able to bridge the gap and talk across the rigid party lines.

    Christians are regarded as dumbbells and self-righteous prudes and liars by atheists. Atheists are regarded as immoral and evil and ultra-left-wing by Christians. I have bent over backwards making it clear that I don't fit into the mold you guys put Christians in and I don't put you in the box that you are so often put in.
    Doesn't matter. We disagree on a few things, and it all goes to hell in a handbasket and becomes a farce.

    If you think that is my fault, or four-fifths my fault, go ahead. But it IS undeniably a farce, wherever the fault lies. And I don't have time for that. I only went this far with this Hittite stuff because of equal parts of Scottish stubbornness and intellectual curiosity.

    But any attempted interaction is pure misery because, as DagoodS himself freely admitted (with scorn), he never intended to dialogue with me at all. I should have known better, but as always, my idealism and optimism got the better of me. Mea culpa.

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  13. Let me lay out the case. Dave accused Dagood of not just being mistaken, but of lying. There are three "elements of the crime": definite falsity, intent or negligence, and relevance. Dave has not proven any of these elements; at best he has shown that Dagood's statement that no skeptic has said, "The Hittites never existed," might not be absolutely true. Even if the statement were definitely false, the depth of Dave's investigation to find a counter-example actually proves Dagood not guilty of negligence.

    The question of relevance is especially important. For something to be a lie, the sense in which it's definitely false has to be relevant. (This prevents accusations of lying on uncharitable interpretations: If I tell my auto insurance agent that I've never been in an accident, the relevant sense is "an automobile accident at which I was at fault;" I'm not lying even if it were true that I accidentally fell down the stairs yesterday and broke my foot.)

    And what's the relevance of Dagood's statement? He is giving an example of Christians saying something as generally true when it is generally false. Skeptics do not and have not typically or generally said that the Hittites never existed. Relevance cuts both ways: If there's a technical but irrelevant sense in which a statement is true, but that sense is irrelevant to the statement's intent, then that "truth" is not really a defense.

    But let's look at an even deeper sense of relevance: So what if skeptics really did generally say that the Hittites never existed? Skeptics are wrong all the time, especially when the evidence is thin. This kind of wrongness, of accepting some "default" position awaiting evidence, keeping it if the evidence never shows up, and changing it when the evidence shows up, is built in to the skeptical method.

    More importantly, the relevance of this statement to Christian apologetics is extremely suspect; I cannot understand why an apologist would ever think the statement, "Skeptics say the Hittites never existed," would prove anything. If it's not probative, why use it? I can't imagine a reason unless you're intending to somehow deceive someone.

    I've seen this time and again for the ten years I've been talking to theists, especially Christians: a complete failure of rigorous "don't fool yourself" intellectual integrity, weaselry (saying things that are in some sense technically true, but are intended to give a false impression to the listener), and outright lying over matters of fact. I've never met a Christian (or Islamic) apologist (as opposed to those who just say it's a matter of pure faith) who showed a shred of intellectual integrity, honesty, good will. I've never met a Christian who was an honest seeker after the truth. And we can confidently conclude that Dave has continued this long tradition.

    That's why I (and I suspect Dagood as well) have simply stopped trying to have a "dialog" with Christian apologists. Not because we disagree, not because they're rude, but because it is a tedious exercise in futility to have a discussion about a substantive issue with someone who is not an honest seeker after the truth.

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  14. For the lurkers there: All the theist apologists, all the Christians, all the Muslims, all the Mormons, all the Scientologists (and I suspect the Hindus and mystical Buddhists as well) who are not stupid or ignorant are simply lying and/or bullshitting you. They are not honest seekers after the truth. You cannot retain intellectual honesty and argue for the existence of a god. There just isn't any meaningful kind of god at all; there's no truth to any meaningful religion (on the ordinary definition of god and religion that includes Christianity).

    I'm sorry if that truth makes you feel uncomfortable. In much the same sense, I'm sorry that the law of gravity will kill someone who has fallen off a cliff. But that's the truth: We humans are alone in a cold, indifferent universe, and all we have is each other. There is no Heavenly Father who is watching out for us and making sure everything ends up all right. If we survive and prosper as a species, it will be because we ourselves — not god, not Yahweh, not Allah, not Jesus, not Muhammad, not Buddha, not Zeus, Thor, Isis, Ahura-Mazda or Zarathustra — find a way to do so. And we could do everything right and a meteor could hit the Earth next year and wipe us out anyway.

    That's the way the world is. Not comforting, but true. And, sadly, it's too late for all you doubters. Once you begin to wonder if it's all really true, once you (unlike Dave) admit to yourself that you care more about the truth than you do your own superficial comfort, then you're just screwed.

    Welcome to the club.

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  15. Many thanks for the superb confirmation of exactly what I've been saying. Christians are a bunch of despicable liars. Rarely have I seen such a clear example of pure prejudice. This is as bigoted as it gets.

    You lie about my supposedly classifying DagoodS as a "liar" (he showed the same noncomprehension of my position, even after I clarified it). When I used the term "Lies" in the first paper, it was a rhetorical use, since he had the word "lying" in his paper I was critiquing.

    But it was "lie" in the sense of falsehood; not deliberate, knowing, deceptive falsehood.

    If you look up "lie" in any dictionary, it's true that the first definition is knowing deception. But a secondary meaning is simply "untruth" or "falsehood." That was my sense. If it wasn't clear at first, it was after I clarified (at least to anyone who is willing to receive it, rather than concluding that I was deceiving and "lying" in the first sense).

    So I didn't call DagoodS a "liar": contrary to his later semi-paranoid overreaction. But he has certainly called many Christians and apologists that, and you without question classify virtually all Christians into the category of dishonest, deceptive liars who care nothing about truth. I have never EVER said anything remotely approaching this sort of bigotry, about atheists. I don't believe it. It couldn't be any further from my position than it is. There is no comparison. Yet the myth around here is that I'm the one who has supposedly engaged in all these "personal attacks."

    Whatever DagoodS thinks about Christians in general is hard to tell (he sends mixed signals), but I do know that he is unwilling to dialogue with me. So this continues to be a sheer farce. It's simply post-mortem analysis now.

    I continue to be astonished at how dimly my arguments, my motivation, the thrust of my reasoning throughout this, are understood. But what can I do? This is what happens, when the opponent is demonized and caricatured from the beginning. I agree with Plato and Socrates: that true dialogue is literally impossible with those stacked conditions of hostility and relentless suspicion of motives.

    Apparently the goal on this site is to pat each other on the back and cry in your beer about how terrible and cruel and stupid and what a bunch of liars Christians and God are. There is little interest in discussion with someone who differs. The goal is to refute Christianity at all costs. It ain't the goal to interact with a Christian who dares to disagree with the cynical, jaded portrayal of the Christian faith that occurs here on a regular basis.

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  16. The Barefoot Bum,

    I am not quite as pessimistic towards Christians. I think many are truth-seekers, but the environment and culture is not very amicable towards it. The fact we see deconverts come out of Christianity would be sufficient evidence such truth-seekers exist.

    As for Christian apologists…I do dialogue with many—and quite amicably. I think such discussions are helpful more for lurkers than any hope of one converting the other. To see how the arguments pan out, what the facts are, etc. However I quite agree with some it becomes a “tedious exercise in futility to have a discussion about a substantive issue with someone who is not an honest seeker after the truth” and further discussion becomes a waste of time and effort. Commodities best spent in other endeavors.

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  17. So you classify me as "someone who is not an honest seeker after the truth," right DagoodS? That's why you have no desire to dialogue with me.

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  18. Dave Armstrong,

    Yep. Although don’t short yourself here--that is only one of many reasons I choose when and when not to reply to you.

    Plus it is always fun watching how long you string out your insistence in having the last word.

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  20. Sorry to dwell on this. Maybe it's not important. But Dave, I find you to likewise be a bulldog in person. You seem competitive and not a shrinking violet in person. The same is true for your written debate. The difference is that the personal discussion seems a lot more pleasant to me.

    I think that bit of unpleasantness in your written debates makes written communication more difficult and potentially hostile. Ask yourself why do you think it is that it's only the written communication that descends to levels you (and I) don't like. You and I will never have a problem in spoken discussion and you know that. So there's a difference between the written and spoken. Is it me? I think it's you. But if it's me tell me.

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  21. Blasted typos!

    Thank you for your frank reply. Let it be known that I don't return that insult. Be well.

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  22. Is it me?

    I think so.

    I think it's you.

    You're entitled to your opinion.

    But if it's me tell me.

    I did.

    Do you agree that I am not "an honest seeker after the truth," as DagoodS just confirmed was his opinion?

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  23. Perhaps you missed my question, Jon. If so, I'll repeat it:

    Do you agree that I am not "an honest seeker after the truth," as DagoodS confirmed above was his own opinion?

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  24. I do not think you are dishonest. But let me ask you this. Have you learned something through this exchange? The claim of the apologist is that skeptics used to deny the existence of the Hittites and this reveals that they are in some way defective, or perhaps "hyper-skeptics" grasping at demonstrably false claims in their efforts to discredit the bible. Is that a fair characterization of skeptics generally based on what you've learned about their claims regarding the Hittites? I hope you would say no. I would hope you would at least agree that the apologetic characterization is not fair. Will you go that far?

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  25. Okay, cool. So we have three atheists, and three opinions of me. I'm quite the controversial (and complex) figure:

    Bum:

    Dave in person (though the man has never met me he purports to know all about me personally): ass, loser, etc. ad nauseum.
    Dave in writing: ass
    Is Dave a liar?: yes, cuz all Christians are.

    DagoodS

    Dave in person: nice guy
    Dave in writing: ass
    Is Dave a liar?: yes

    Jon:

    Dave in person: bulldog in argument, but a nice guy
    Dave in writing: bulldog, but an ass
    Is Dave a liar?: no

    Fascinating. Thanks again for the comedic value of that. And I'm delighted to see that we have come so immensely far in our personal friendship that you can readily admit that I am not a liar. Now there is something very positive and encouraging to build on, ain't it, Jon? I'm not an inveterate liar because I disagree with you on something. I actually like truth, as you do.

    Have you learned something through this exchange?

    I learn something -- lots of things -- in every exchange I have. That's why dialogue is fun. One doesn't enter it in order to always be right, but to learn and grow. I do think I succeeded in providing sufficient evidence for what I suspected would be the case.

    The claim of the apologist is that skeptics used to deny the existence of the Hittites

    They did. That has been shown to my satisfaction. My Christian friends think so too. You guys think the opposite. Such is life. We think the evidence for the existence of God is quite sufficient. You don't. What else is new? I accept the report of reputable archaeologists in talking about their own field, even if I don't see exact quotes. Thinkers do that all the time in many fields of inquiry. We accept the word of the expert. We can't do everything ourselves.

    and this reveals that they are in some way defective, or perhaps "hyper-skeptics" grasping at demonstrably false claims in their efforts to discredit the bible.

    It shows that they wouldn't trust the Bible's historical accuracy (due to the poison and bankruptcy of much of higher criticism) and were proven wrong. I entered this whole debate because DagoodS called apologists who mention these 19th century skeptics inveterate liars. They weren't lying. There was lots of skepticism, to differing degrees. Granted, much of this skepticism was not total, but then, many of the more nuanced scholarly claims made by Christians scholars were not necessarily claiming it was always total. There are gradations. This is what one usually finds in any intensely detailed and comprehensive study. It's like seeing a mountain in the distance, but then up close you really how many topographical features it has. It ain't "smooth" at all. It's not simply described.

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  26. [cont.]

    Is that a fair characterization of skeptics generally based on what you've learned about their claims regarding the Hittites? I hope you would say no.

    My position is that atheists and other biblical skeptics are driven by their hostile premises, and these premises are false. I analyze peoples' thoughts and where I believe they go astray, not their hearts and motives. That is the game of DagoodS and Bum: "Christians are liars and dolts; that explains why they don't agree with US, the smart people who get it."

    I would hope you would at least agree that the apologetic characterization is not fair. Will you go that far?

    I have made a number of statements critical of sloppy research and lack of documentation. No one knows that better than I do, because I've been out here busting my butt looking for stuff for two weeks, only to put up with DagoodS' condescending mocking and systematic disregard for my arguments, because (as we now know) he never had any intention of dialoguing in the first place, and regards me as a liar, not interested in truth.

    Christians exaggerate claims and atheists do also. It's a general human tendency. I've said this all along and it has been my opinion for as long as I remember. So I haven't learned anything new in that regard. I was only surprised by the extent to which DagoodS resorts to "liar" as an explanation for almost anything. He has gotten much more bigoted and cynical compared to when I first encountered him. But this is what happens. The more you hang out with atheists (people like Bum) who despise Christians and think they are imbeciles and liars (and the less you hang around thinking, halfway decent Christians), the more you will tend to think that way. We are what we eat. If young people hang around other kids who do drugs and steal baloney from the store, they will tend to start doing it, too, the longer they hang out with 'em. People are sheep. That's how they act. Christians do the same thing, and not always in a good way.

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  27. [cont.]

    The claims have been exaggerated, and things passed on that lack nuance and the proper distinctions. I saw a lot of that, and fully agree with you in despising it. I'm the one who has to deal with the backlash of that, as an apologist, not you, so I have at least as much motive (if not much more so) in detesting distortion, as you. It's not the way I have always operated.

    That said, I have shown that such skeptics did exist, in various different ways. The key thing I found is, unfortunately, the report of a spoken communication. I accept the word of the Egyptologist who reported it; DagoodS does not, and essentially calls him a liar, too. So he's a liar and so am I. That is DagoodS' excuse to flee the debate and respond no further. I predicted early on that personal insult would be the result, the more I pressed the issue, and sure enough, it was.

    It's easy to dismiss the other side of an argument as all liars and dumbbells. I don't approach discussion in that way.

    And that is why this goes nowhere. The stakes were high from the beginning of this, because of how DagoodS framed the question: making an absolute statement that "no one" ever denied their existence, and then calling apologists en masse liars for denying his take.

    My main mistake was in naively assuming that mere reason would work with a person who starts out with that sort of ludicrous and intrinsically hostile outlook. I should have known better, but I don't regret doing the work, because it was instructive on several levels and fascinating.

    I especially loved learning more about and being able to defend the Bible in terms of what it stated about "kings of the Hittites" and of the Egyptians, in the time of Elisha, and how current archaeology and historiography backed it up.

    So I am blessed after this. It was bound to end up with ill feelings because DagoodS began the whole thing with those same feelings. Garbage in, garbage out . . .

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  28. Aye…I’ve always had strong feelings about Hittites. *chuckle*

    Dave Armstrong, three points:

    1) This has never been a personality conflict…at least not for me. Hasn’t needed to be—the arguments were sufficient. You kept claiming such-and-such skeptic said “Hittites never existed”; I kept looking at what the person wrote, demonstrating the skeptic did claim Hittites existed.

    That is it. That is this entire discussion.

    I’m sure some frustration showed through from the repeated methodological error. You bring up some skeptic as the definitive answer, I shoot holes in the claim, you move on to the next skeptic while committing the same mistake.

    This exchange nicely demonstrated a point made in the the original blog entry --how many Christians embrace non-truths to sustain their belief without researching. A few times you brought up a skeptic, your comments would say [paraphrased], “Yay Dave!” I would demonstrate the claim incorrect, you buried it (what ever became of Sumner?), and bring forth another skeptic. Your comments would say [paraphrased], “Yay Dave!” without thought of, “Hey, what happened to the last skeptic?” or ”Maybe we should start doing some research of our own.”

    2) Drop the persecution complex. This whole mess started with your accusation I was lying. (Your defense this was rhetorical is seen for the tenuous rationalization it is. You didn’t put lying in quotes, although you did when referring the Christian Apologists. It was only after we demonstrated skeptics did not say this, and you discovered how hard it would be to support your claim that you back-pedaled, claiming you didn’t mean lying when you said lying.)

    You’ve utilized words like “irrational,” “unreasonable,” “disturbed” and “confused” when referring to me. Understand, I don’t mind in the least—it is somewhat amusing. I personally consider it a bad tactic for a person to call another such things, when they are losing the argument! I figure if I am “confused,” but my arguments prevail over the other person’s…what does that make the other person? Call me a liar, but then be unable to prove what I said was incorrect…it’s funny.

    But don’t whine when some mud you fling splatters back on you. This is (sadly) typical of many Christian apologists. They come bursting in with name-calling, bad arguments, long-winded posts, rudely insistent on having the last word, and when we dare reply even slightly in kind, cry out with pain, “Oh, you are picking on me because I am a Christian; Blog owner, make them STOP.”

    It never crosses their mind we may actually be reacting to them simply because they are dunderheads.

    3) I’m puzzled by this grousing about my choices when to discuss with you. Did I sign some contract? Did some legislation pass mandating I must discuss every single item with Dave Armstrong?

    You started this interaction; you chose to critique my blog entries. I didn’t ask for it; I wasn’t begging to dialogue with you.

    So you embarked on critiquing portions of blog entries. Fine. Great. I started to discuss with you on one, looking for some clarification. But after asking the same question three times, and you refusing to answer three times, what am I supposed to do? Ask a fourth time? Go forward with possibly the wrong presumption? [I think we all know how THAT would turn out! *grin*]

    After seeing my position misrepresented, the quote-mining, the strawpeople and the refusal to clarify, I decided it was no use.

    Why must I continue to dialogue with that? Why would I?

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