Randal Rauser Implores Christians and Atheist to Engage in Civil Discourse, Cannot Seem to Follow His Own Advice


Admittedly, I thought I was done talking about Randal Rauser. In all honestly, I tried really hard to wash my hands of Randal’s nonsense. But sometimes a person just does something so shocking, so unbelievable, that you have no choice but to comment on it.

For those that haven’t heard, he’s released a new book imploring Christian and Atheist alike to engage in civil discussion and express a more charitable behavior toward one another.

Those familiar with Randal Rauser and his blog might find this ironic, if not highly amusing, since Randal has a very poor track record when it comes to civil and charitable discourse. Mike D., aka The A-Unicornist, now writing exclusively at his new blog the Mind of Mike D, has written a nice summary (click HERE) of Randal’s condescending attitude and his general dismissal of other people’s intelligent responses, often calling them ignorant, or implying they are, in the most condescending fashion imaginable.

In Randal’s new book, Is the Atheist My Neighbor?, he recounts anecdotal stories regarding atheists as told by Christians in various fields, from the layman to the apologists and the preachers, of which Randal analyses and claims that there is a tendency for Christians to be uncivil and uncharitable toward atheists.

Indeed, in the so-called “Great Debate” and the passion driven discourse regarding personal conviction strong emotions fueled by conviction often cuts both ways, and atheists can be found being acerbic, uncivil, and uncharitable to believers as well. In the realm of ideas, where people’s convictions run strong, it is often difficult to divorce ourselves from our feelings of what we strongly believe or disbelieve. I think Randal’s call to better civility and charitable behavior is a good one, but it also rings hypocritical.

You see, Randal has a poor track record when it comes to being civil or charitable himself, especially toward atheists who might strongly disagree with him.

I’ve written about my own encounters with Randal before, documenting the times when Randal has called me names, such as “nasty,” “puerile,” “vindictive,” and said that I wasn’t a “charitable” person, even though there is nothing to indicate that I had ever been less than charitable to him (albeit the one time I was less than cordial, I apologized for it. I documented parts of the discussion which can be read HERE).

Looking back, I find it strange that the comment that actually got me banned had nothing to do with the so-called insult Randal said I had lobbed at him, and which, upon closer inspection, could barely be considered an insult at all. 

At the time, Randal had thrown a small tantrum because a critic of his book about Heaven had claimed he made some stuff up. After Randal blew a gasket and called his critic “ignorant” and a “troll” (you can read the details HEREI jumped in to point out that Randal was acting overly defensive for what seemed a non-issue, and I said it seemed as though he was acting butt-hurt for no good reason. Randal took offense by this and said I was attacking him personally. I wasn’t.

You see, I wasn’t commenting on Randal’s personality but rather, his behavior. There is a difference, after all. For example, saying that a person is acting as though they might be drunk, and wondering why, is not the same as calling them a drunkard in an attempt to belittle them in anyway. Likewise, saying a person is acting in a hypocritical way, and wondering why, doesn’t mean you are calling them a hypocrite simply to belittle them. So when I said Randal was acting butt-hurt, and wondering why, he thought I was attacking him personally just to be mean. And even though I expressed that my intent was never to merely belittle him but point out an inconsistency found in his behavior, Randal seems to have completely ignored this.

Consequently, despite my best efforts to lay the issue to rest, Randal went on to claim my character was “vindictive,” “puerile,” and said that I’m generally a “mean” person. After which, I called Randal “the consummate unprofessional” because I’ve never met a professional scholar, serious about educating those who genuinely might be ignorant, or who is serious about pressing philosophical issues, turn right around to neglect to consistently adhere to a civil and charitable discourse.  

The comment that actually got me banned was when I sarcastically pointed out that Randal claimed a fellow PhD was “just a troll” (Randal’s exact words, mind you), and I pointed out how this way of marginalizing someone trying to engage in a serious philosophical discourse wasn’t charitable behavior coming from Randal. Yup. That’s the comment what got me banned. I documented it and you can see the screen-caps of the comments HERE.

That’s right. I got banned because I pointed out that Randal was being uncharitable, and as a consequence not adding any to the conversation, and so he claimed that I wasn’t adding to the conversation, by going off topic, and this was his reason for why he banned me. Do you see why that might just be a tad bit hypocritical?

Of course, it goes without saying that you can’t ask others to have a meaningful conversation then shut down the discourse every time they might disagree with you. That is clearly hypocritical. Calling them “ignorant” or “just a troll” or “vindictive and puerile” without any evidence to back these claims up, thereby marginalizing their point of view by talking down to them and demeaning them, by treating them as less intelligent than you (regardless of whether this may be the case), is simply bigoted.

Personally, I have no time for people who act like this and treat others this way. Marginalizing others when you disagree with them is just poor sport, and although I have often disagreed with Christians and atheists alike, I have tried my best not to belittle them or call them “just a troll,” “ignorant,” “vindictive and puerile,” simply because I disagreed with them. If I ever called anybody anything less than flattering, such as “butt-hurt,” then I had a very good reason for doing so. But it appears the only reason Randal requires is if he doesn’t like you. 

After all was said and done, I realized Randal didn’t actually care about having a civil or charitable discourse with anyone who had a different point of view than his. Not really.

Furthermore, Randal didn’t do himself any favors by flame baiting his interlocutors with condescension and insults only to use their defensiveness as an excuse to ban them for, in his opinion, not adding to the conversation. 

Personally, I don’t find this type of abusive behavior acceptable, not in the real world and certainly not online in forums where we are trying to engage in serious philosophical and theological discourse. When I was the moderator of an art forumn, flame baiting people into a heated argument was the quickest way to get you banned. Yet it is a tactic Randal employs regularly so he can ban people he disagrees with.

So, I said to hell with Randal Rauser. He’s not worth my time. In fact, I have spent more than enough time debating with him and putting up with his overall rudeness, and I was happy to wash my hands of him.

But now…well, now it appears Randal has written a book calling Christians and atheists to be more charitable to one another.

No lie.

After I laughed long and hard about the irony of that, I decided to write one last comment on Randal Rauser and his hypocritical tendencies. You see, I can’t just idly sit by and let Randal lecture others on what it means to be civil and charitable to one another when he has proved, time and again, that he cannot seem to follow his own advice.

In the end, I think Randal’s behavior and words speak for themselves. And that’s all I’m going to say on the subject.


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