Another elephant thrower has emailed me. This time it’s a self-professed 76-year-old “grumpy old man” named Neil C. Reinhardt. He’s an atheist, pro-abortionist, hater of religion, and lover of war. He goes by the moniker “religion sucks.” Like so many people who have too much time on their hands, an internet connection, and a bone to pick with someone, he demands that I should answer all of his objections, no matter how silly, misinformed, unhistorical, or illogical. I can spot an elephant thrower like Neil from a mile away. There are even some atheists who think Neil’s a “nutball.” Here’s another one and another one.
A few years ago, an elephant thrower named Fred Weiss sent me nearly 400 emails over a period of several months, most of them filled with cut and pasted material from the internet. At first, I answered some of his objections, believing he was a rational man who had the courtesy to engage in a spirited and rigorous debate encompassed with civility. Boy, was I wrong. When I pointed out obvious factual errors in material in some of his email material (e.g., the bogus Magellan flat earth citation, the James Watt apocryphal quotation where he reportedly said “after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back,” and the use of the discredited History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science by John William Draper and A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom by Andrew D. White), I knew any further time spent on his outrageous claims and charges was a grand waste of my time. This did not stop him from sending me daily emails filled with similar internet junk and vitriolic and blasphemous comments.
So when I get similar types of emails that seem to be from elephant throwers, I generally respond with a few comments to test the sender’s willingness to engage in a debate that will net some positive results. Sure enough, Neil turned out to be just another elephant thrower, and not a very good one at that. Neil has all the answers. He knows just about everything. In fact, he was quick to inform me of the following:
I AM MUCH more experienced, as well [as] more . . . knowledgeable than most other 76 year olds. I am smarter than over 97% of the world and tested to use my IQ nearly double as effectively as most. And the odds of you, and/or anyone else, being able to prove any comments I make are logically or factually wrong are about zero.
Why would I bother spending time answering Neil when he is smarter than I am and any chance of refuting anything he sends to me is “about zero”?
Any answers to his questions are immediately dismissed because, by Neil’s own claim, the odds are slim to none that anything I say will make a dent in his intellectual invulnerability. I referred to him as a “genius.” Neil was angry that I called him a “genius,” because he never said he was a genius. Being smarter than 97% percent of the population, as he said he is, and having an IQ that has been doubled in some way, would put him in the super-genius category. Since I’m not a genius—I’m not smarter than 97% percent of the population—how could I possibly compete with him intellectually? Guys like Neil are delusional. They firmly believe that they have found the magic bullet that disproves God’s existence. Of course, there is nothing offered that’s new. They bring up arguments that have been refuted ten times over. This doesn’t matter to a guy like Neil, since 97% of the population is beneath him in intellectual prowess.
Neil sent me several emails with attachments, all designed to refute all types of Christian claims. One was about the myth of America as a Christian nation. Since it was an attachment, I did not immediately open it. I made a bet with myself, wagering that he referenced the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli. Sure enough, he did. Here’s how he quoted it: “The United States of America is in NO SENSE a Christian nation.” Not only does Neil not quote it accurately; he doesn’t quote all of the article or make any reference to the context or make note of the revised 1805 treaty that does not include any reference to the Christian religion phrase. What follows is the wording of Article 11:
As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
Neil’s not the first person to use the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli in attempt to “prove” the claim that America’s founding is not based on fundamental Christian principles. The treaty is very clear in what way the Government of the United States is not found on the Christian religion “as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen [Muslims].”1 Unlike Muslim nations, the United States government is founded on a jurisdictional separation between church and state, as is the Bible. One would think that someone as smart as Neil claims to be would check to see if I or anyone else has written on the subject. I’ve written America’s 200-Year War with Islamic Terrorism. Neil needs to read it. But, of course, he won’t. Even self-professed anti-theist Christopher Hitchens notes that the treaty is a weak read to lean on: “[T]hose secularists like myself who like to cite this treaty must concede that its conciliatory language was part of America’s attempt to come to terms with Barbary demands.”2 Exactly! This is similar to the way today our government tries to accommodate radical Islamists by burning Bibles so as not to offend Muslim sensitivities. It didn’t work in 1797, and it’s not working today.
In the same email, Neil extracts a selected quotation from David Brewer, the Supreme Court Justice who wrote The United States a Christian Nation, in attempt to disprove what Brewer explicitly does prove—America was founded, to use Brewer’s own words, as a “Christian nation,” thus the title of his book. Here’s the paragraph from Brewer’s book that Neil claims supports his position that the United States was not founded as a Christian nation:
“But in what sense can [the United States] be called a Christian nation. Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or the people are compelled in any manner to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’ Neither is it Christian in the sense that all its citizens are either in fact on in name Christians. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within its borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all.”3
There is nothing in this quotation that I would disagree with. It’s obvious that Neil found this quotation on the internet and copied and pasted it in his email to me. But on the next page of Brewer’s book, Brewer offers a “nevertheless”: “Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian Nation—in fact, as the leading Christian Nation of the world. This popular use of the term certainly has significance. It is not a mere creation of the imagination. It is not a term of derision but has substantial basis—one which justifies its use. Let us analyze a little and see what is the basis.” Beginning with the early American settlements and including “quotations from charters [that] are in the archives of the several states; the laws [that] are on the statute books; judicial opinions [that] are taken from the official reports; statistics from the census publications,” and much more, Brewer builds his case. He argues that he has not presented any “doubtful facts” or statements that are “debatable” in concluding that “this is a Christian nation.”4
His comments on abortion are equally bad. It’s obvious that he has not read my article on Exodus 21:22–25, “Aborting a Bad Argument.” Once again, like Fred Weiss before him, Neil is an elephant thrower extraordinaire.
But it doesn’t matter what points I’ve raised or facts I’ve accumulated, Neil is smarter than I am and nearly everyone else, and there is almost zero chance that I could refute anything he says.
You can tell when an elephant thrower is getting ticked off, because he starts writing in CAPITAL LETTERS! He’s frustrated that I won’t take the bait and spend hours answering his demands. So he starts SHOUTING. Maybe then I’ll listen to his arguments. When I don’t, the personal attacks start flying. Here are some of them:
- WOW! ARE YOU STUPID.
- YOU HAVE ALREADY PROVEN [YOU] ARE A LIAR AND HAVE NO INTEGRITY.
- YOU ARE DERANGED!
- EITHER YOUR READING SKILLS ARE REALLY TERRIBLE, OR MUCH MORE PROBABLY, YOUR BRAIN IS JUST NOT [A] VERY WELL FUNCTIONING ONE.
- YOU CAN KISS MY DEEP SEA DIVING, PARATROOPING, BAR BOUNCING, BEACH-VOLLEY-BALL PLAYING WRINKLED OLD ASS!
To really put the fear of his no-god in me, Neil threatened to send our email exchanges to the 400 people on his email list: “I HAVE COPIED EVERY THING BOTH OF US HAVE SAID, PUT IT IN AN EMAIL WHICH I WILL BE SENDING TO ALL THOSE I SEND EMAILS TO. SO SOON, SOME FOUR HUNDRED WILL BE SEEING WHAT A TOTAL IDIOT YOU ARE.”
Of course, this really scared me. I in turn told him that I will be sending my comments (this article) to the 1.2 million people on my email lists. If you are reading this, you are one of them.
- Turkish müslüman and Persian musulmān, modification of Arabic muslim. [↩]
- Christopher Hitchens, “Jefferson Verses the Muslim Pirates,” City Journal (Spring 2007). [↩]
- Brewer’s quotation is found on page 12 of the original edition of The United States a Christian Nation (Philadelphia, PA: The John C. Winston Co., 1905). It is found on page 1 of the reprint edition published by American Vision. [↩]
- Brewer, The United States a Christian Nation, 2 (new edition). [↩]