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Characteristics Which Define the Average Theistic Evolutionist

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#1 Kay



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Posted 08 May 2015 - 05:55 AM

Characteristics Which Define the Average Theistic Evolutionist
(Submission by one of our Forum Readers  what they have observed in the many debates. They have used as a primary example brother Jonathan Burke who is one of the most vocal proponents in his endeavour to "convert" the brotherhood to a belief in evolution, that is  universal common descent – the style of debate Jonathan Burke uses is analysed).
There are a number of characteristics which define the average Theistic Evolutionist, they are generally:
– Intimidated by qualifications
– Intimidated by consensus
– Believe in the incorruptibility of peer review 
– Have an unrealistic faith in the infallibility of science
– Hierarchical in their thinking
– Black white literalists who lack critical thinking
– People who generally have jaded, controlling or fringe mentality
– Supercilious and unable to concede or back down
– People who define themselves as intellectually rich

Jonathan ticks a lot of these boxes and understanding how he operates is crucial when reading his work or engaging him in discussion.


When engaging with Jonathan on these matters or any other kind of disagreement one needs to understand a few ground rules.


Jonathan does not discuss, he debates and as such treats the whole exchange as a battle for superiority in which he sets himself the challenge to dominate his opponent and win at all costs.


Anyone attempting to disagree with Jonathan needs to be aware that Jonathan will always assume an authoritative role in any discussion; he fancies himself in the role of an instructor and will often demand specific evidence or inform you of what you need to do in order to improve your arguments and your credibility in his eyes.


For those who accept Jonathan’s terms and conditions and seek to redeem themselves in his eyes, the discussion is over before it begins. Like all skilled debaters Jonathan is looking to impose his authority and corral his opponent. Accepting his terms and conditions grants him the control he is looking for, what follows is a protracted war of attrition where Jonathan will proceed to steer, control, dominate, intimidate, deride and dismiss until most people become exhausted and simply give up.


In the absence of his opponent, Jonathan proceeds to claim the coveted last word and declares victory. Truth in Jonathan’s eyes seems to be the right of those who can get the last word.


It needs to be understood before one engages with Jonathan, that if you are opposing him and you are perceived as beneath him he will never admit he is wrong, he will never concede a point, ever, he will never apologise, he will never back down and he will always get the last word. This is about mastery, vindication and the humiliation of his opponent. Truth, fairness, a brotherly spirit, benefit of the doubt does not enter into it.


When opposed Jonathan is caustic, derisive and shows no respect whatsoever for his opponent. There are a few who Jonathan perceives as above, the rest are arrayed below and Jonathan will not tolerate dissent.

"seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" Matthew 6:33

#2 Kay



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Posted 08 May 2015 - 05:59 AM

Jonathan is a master at framing the discussion in such a way as to steer and corral his opponent into defending themselves according to Jonathan’s conditions and measures. Take a discussion Jonathan initiated with a brother earlier this year.
Brother A1. “it is simply impossible for such highly sophisticated intelligent information to evolve”.
Jonathan “This is a statement without evidence. Brother Roberts claimed it was impossible for machines to fly; he even said this was a killer argument against evolution. The first mechanical flight took place the very next year. He made a fool of himself. You need to prove you’re not making a fool of yourself.”
Look at how Jonathan frames this argument and uses Robert Roberts to intimidate and then corral the brother into a position where failure to answer Jonathan's charges against him to Jonathan's satisfaction according to the terms and conditions that Jonathan has established renders him a fool.
How is our Brother supposed to find evidence that information can not evolve? There is simply no evidence that it can, and this is not for lack of trying. Millions have been spent on this question and still an explanation is non-existent. 
Yet still Jonathan demands evidence when it is the absence of evidence which proves our brothers point.
As you can see these knee jerk demands for evidence are not designed to be constructive, they are designed to place Jonathan’s opponent on the back foot, intimidate him and discredit what is a very powerful point. All attempts to find a natural explanation for intelligible information have failed spectacularly. 
Having made his demands, Jonathan chooses a completely unrelated argument based on comments made by Brother Roberts. Jonathan’s verdict is wrong and he is guilty, again, of misrepresentation, this time it is Brother Roberts turn to feel the authority of Jonathan's pronouncements. Brother Roberts did not make a fool of himself, brother Roberts was comparing the intricacies of birds with anything man could invent.
Jonathan uses own his assessment of Brother Roberts being a fool to frame his opponent as a fool unless he can provide the non-existent evidence which Jonathan himself has demanded.
Credit where credit is due, what Jonathan has done is a clever debating ploy designed to gain the mastery over his opponent, but that is all it is. A debating tactic that is not aimed to advance constructive dialogue, truth or honesty. 
Engaging in this kind of discussion under these terms and conditions is doomed to fail and the moment one does, Jonathan knows he is well on his way to that coveted last word.
So much of Jonathan's arguments are contingent on the weight he places on his own imposed authority. 
Jonathan deems the statement to be without evidence
Jonathan deems Brother Roberts to be a fool
Jonathan deems another Brother just as foolish unless the other brother can satisfy Jonathan's demands.
Can you see the pattern?
Asking the question, who on earth does Jonathan think he is? Goes a long way to removing the mythology of authority which Jonathan places around himself.

"seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" Matthew 6:33

#3 Kay



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Posted 08 May 2015 - 06:02 AM

Other strategies employed by Jonathan to dominate his opponent is to knee jerk deny any statement or assertion as completely false.


More often than not Jonathan’s denial relates to a slight variation or his desire to argue the difference between two closely related words.


But such a strategy is not designed to be constructive, it is yet another debating strategy designed to dominate and get his opponent on the defensive.


Here is an example of such behaviour. An assertion was made that Jonathan has complained that atheists are nicer to him than Christadelphians. Jonathan stringently denied that this had ever happened. Evidence was produced demonstrating that Jonathan had made these statements only 7 days earlier.


Jonathan’s response was to persist in his denial of the facts on the following grounds.


Jonathan: I know exactly what I have written. I did not say “even atheists are nicer to you than we are”, nor does that statement of mine you quoted say that.


Brother: I love it, so on the grounds that you never said those exact, precise words in that exact precise order, you deny and of course you stand by your denials and no doubt you are positioning yourself to argue to the death, house by house, syllable by syllable. Arguing like that is certainly a form of denial I’ll grant you that.”


So Jonathan’s denials are in many cases ploys to evoke a defensive reaction. However when called out on this behaviour, Jonathan adopts a ridiculously pedantic position, splits a hair and gears up for a confrontation over the difference.


Jonathan will also minimise any statement of fact made by his opponent as unremarkable, obsolete, old news or discredited. This is often not the case at all, but Jonathan will rely on his debating skills and make the assertion anyway. This is designed to intimidate his opponent with his vast knowledge on all manner of topics and the futility of engaging him. “You thought this was remarkable, it isn’t, and because I knew that and you didn’t it proves you know nothing at all”


Jonathan will scour a list of facts for one error or debatable point and then use this as a wedge to discredit the entire argument and the person making it.


His treatment of intelligent design is a classic case in point. Many valid and valuable arguments are raised by the ID movement, but on the grounds of a few inaccuracies or a tax evasion charge from one of its proponents, Jonathan will dismiss them as discredited and unworthy of consideration.

"seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" Matthew 6:33

#4 Kay



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Posted 08 May 2015 - 06:04 AM

Another ploy of Jonathan’s is to set a demanding pace from his opponents. Jonathan prides himself in rebutting all charges in record time with a massive amount of cut and paste responses clad about with a list of demands and intimidating statements which render his opponent humiliated by default unless he satisfies Jonathan’s terms and conditions.
If his opponent does not answer in the time frame set, Jonathan will goad and torment him until he does.
When confronted with his behaviour, Jonathan will of course deny and assume innocence. But whereas most reasonable people will at least examine themselves to see if the charge is valid. Jonathan will demand evidence of his behaviour, generally 6 points of evidence, in full, word for word.
This technique of setting the terms and conditions of your own accountability is once again just another red herring designed to evoke a defensive reaction. It does not matter if the incident occurred weeks, days or half an hour ago. Jonathan’s default response to any charge of misbehaviour is to demand a highly specific list of evidence detailing his wrong doing. When evidence is produced he will then split hairs and argue each point or attempt to make counter charges.
Once again, the best way to counter this is to point out the behaviour, produce a single example and challenge Jonathan to demonstrate his intellectual honesty by conceding.
Jonathan will not concede and will work at a frantic pace to deflect the argument away or counter attack. Repeating and sticking to the point is the best way to demonstrate that these patterns of the presumption of innocence until a third part can establish guilt is not normal or brotherly.
The intention of these tactics is once again about domination, mastery and saving face. One gets the distinct impression that Jonathan is so confident of these tried and tested debating techniques and his tenacity in prosecuting them that few will take him on. Sadly he is right which only reinforces the behaviour.
Jonathan will often frame his arguments with the great need for intellectual honesty or berate his opponents for failure to demonstrate the same. This is once again another technique of assuming the highest moral ground and anointing the validity of his own arguments. It carries with it the presumption that surely a person urging us to intellectual honesty would himself be intellectually honest.
Examples of tactics and debating polys could be multiplied and confirmed by anyone who has had the pleasure of discussing anything with Jonathan.
The point should be clear by now that discussing anything with Jonathan is an exercise in futility.
Jonathan does not discuss in a reasoned, considerate and brotherly way. Jonathan has one objective in mind and that is taking control of the conversation, dominating and intimidating his opponent and the vindication of his own position and perceived authority.

"seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" Matthew 6:33

#5 Kay



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Posted 08 May 2015 - 06:11 AM

Many brothers have attempted to reason with Jonathan on the basis of an assumed mutual respect and a spirit of brotherly consideration only to find acid thrown in their face in the opening salvo as Jonathan manoeuvres himself into a dominant positon.
A necessary step in any discussion with Jonathan is to:
– Never accept his authority
– Never submit to his terms and conditions
Reframe the discussion to a more level playing field, but even this is a futile exercise. If Jonathan perceives you as beneath him, Jonathan will never concede, admit error, compromise or discuss in a brotherly manner.  With no basis for an honest, reasoned dialogue and with a protracted 24/7 tenacity guaranteed, the question each Brother needs to ask is:

At what point does one give up on the point being argued and highlight the futility and un-christlike nature of Jonathan’s behaviour?
The intention in highlighting this is because these traits manifest themselves in Jonathan’s style of writing. 
Truth is not something that people embody in their hearts and minds. Truth is the domain of credible experts who have arrived at a consensus opinion.
Consequently Jonathan will establish his truths, not on the strength of a well-reasoned argument, but with a broadside of experts and reams upon reams of references in what has been described by an ardent admirer as an intellectual “take that” Jonathan style.
In his recent book “Living on the Edge”, followers of Jonathan were marvelling at the 120 page Bibliography and the fact that some pages only contained 5 of his own words, the rest was a multiplication of experts, a kind of gathered consensus around the idea and opinions Jonathan was advancing.
It is part of the new kind of gospel which is gaining popularity with the Theistic Evolutionists.
Attached File  DebateTEECJBUD.pdf   250.86KB   157 downloads

"seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" Matthew 6:33

#6 TrevorL



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Posted 12 May 2015 - 04:52 AM

Greetings Kay,


My assessment of this thread is that it is in bad taste, not only in content but also the fact that it is anonymous. My suggestion is that this thread should be deleted.


Kind regards


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#7 Librarian



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Posted 12 May 2015 - 08:05 AM

My assessment of this thread is that it is in bad taste, not only in content but also the fact that it is anonymous. My suggestion is that this thread should be deleted.



True, Trevor, in a sense about the anonymity of the post - however, the content is true of anyone who has ever engaged with Jonathan Burke, what eventuates.

I will ask the author of the comments to identify themselves in the post - but again, after years of debate with Jonathan, others need to be warned in the sense that they still think Jonathan is retrievable, only to be disappointed and coming to the conclusion that this is just not the case.

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#8 leviathan

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 04:08 PM

Hi Kay,


I am one of many who has tried to discuss this topic with Jonathan in a civil manner only to find the dialogue following the same old script as you have described above.


Jonathan's views place him well outside the BASF and his conduct and behaviour is highly divisive.

Together with Ken Gilmore, Jonathan runs a number of pages attacking our publications.

I am one of many who feel the time has come to mark those who cause division. Jonathan's behaviour needs to be highlighted.


Yes is is negative and unpleasant, but this is simply a reaction to a pattern of behaviour that has gone unchecked for too long and has led many astray who tragically mimic many of the techniques they learn from the likes of Jonathan.


This needs to be called out.

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#9 cindyb6

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 01:24 AM

One of the problems that we have with the attitude displayed here, is the demand for people to accept the peer-reviewed "consensus" view by scientists on evolutionary biology. This demand is couched in many ways, but the most confronting version is when any dissenter or questioner is asked what qualifications they have to be able to go against those with degrees in these sciences. And, even if you can supply qualifications (which most of us can't), then they are either not in the right sciences or the dissenter has not published any peer-reviewed papers. This makes it extremely difficult to have a reasonable discussion on the issues and often leaves a person feeling crushed and beaten, rather than reasoning together as brethren. 

A comment I recently read, seems relevant in this context:

"How can we distinguish the good papers from the poor? This can be very difficult without actually attempting to reproduce their findings. Short of that, apply the same critical thinking skills and healthy skepticism to scientific papers that you do for political, historical or religious claims. 21st century science can often be heavily influenced by poor experimental practices, unproven computational models, political agendas, competition for funding, and scientism (atheism dressed up as science). When going over a paper ask questions like, how large was the data set? What sort of statistical analysis was performed? Are there other papers that independently support or disconfirm these findings? What is not being discussed? One thing for sure, don’t accept something simply because ‘hundreds’ or even ‘thousands’ of papers say so, especially if Darwinian evolution is the topic. Practice critical thinking with the question in the back of your mind, 'Is this one of those papers that will be retracted?'."


We may not have the relevant man-made degrees but, as students of the Word, we need to be able to discuss these aspects of the Word of God, without being bullied into submission.

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