Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chuck Colson responds (response #1)

Chuck Colson has posted a response to my critique of his book at the Zondervan blog. I haven't read the whole thing in depth yet, but he seems to be polite and respectful, and take at least some of my points seriously. On cursory reading, he appears to have focused on my analysis of his prison group, with an impromptu lecture on how scientific studies are supposed to be done. This should be interesting.

Everyone is welcome to read the entry and comment right here, but I will repeat my request that you remain equally respectful and refrain from trash-talk. I'll take your comments into consideration when I get around to my own reply. It looks like Chuck is not done yet, so I may not write another response until after he's finished his reaction to me.

Thanks, Chuck and Mike, for getting back to me.


  1. Russell, can you cite a source for your contention that only those inmates who landed a job upon release from prison were included in Colson's statistics? Although I'm sure you don't want to get bogged down in the finer points of statistical analysis, this seems to be a sticking point.

    Most of the key points in your outstanding initial post have thus far been unaddressed, so hopefully Colson will keep his word and follow up with a 2nd response.

  2. I did cite a source... the original study is linked from the first post.

    Here it is again:

  3. Page 7/59 of the PDF:
    "A program graduate is one who completes not only the in-prison phases of IFI dealing with biblical education, work, and community service (usually lasting 16 months), but also includes an aftercare phase (usually lasting 6 months) in which the participants must hold a job and have been an active church member for 3 consecutive months following release from prison." (emphasis added)

    The only important thing Colson said in the whole post was this,

    "As for the question you raised about whether someone could be paroled, not get a job, and therefore not be counted in our statistics, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard that."

    Considering the above quotation from the original study, it's right there in black and white. The point this round seems to go to you, Kazim.

  4. Thanks, Zurahn! I admit I was second-guessing whether I had done my homework correctly.

  5. The Zondervan blog writer needs to pay more attention to Chuck:

    "Russell Glasser with The Atheist Experience wrote Chuck a 25 paragraph question..."

    Whereas Chuck says:

    "You raised a number of very thoughtful questions..."

    Chuck himself seems a lot more attentive and polite than his publisher. I'm really enjoying this dialog so far.

  6. I will repeat my request that you remain equally respectful and refrain from trash-talk.

    (gasp) You don't think he means me, do you? :-)

  7. Nah, honestly I didn't, Martin. I just anticipated a lot more rabble-rousers going in and trolling on Colson's blog.

    By the way, did you ever finish reading the book?

  8. Haven't started it yet — had too much to do. Will get around to it soon enough though, and I can see it's pretty short.

  9. So far this seem like it could be good. It is refreshing to see both sides showing each other the proper respect. And yes, so far Chuck does seem like he is going to address your points. It is frustrating in a debate when the other side ignores your points and just moves on to their next argument. I look forward to following this.

  10. Martin wrote:
    Will get around to it soon enough though, and I can see it's pretty short.

    Those short books can be deceptive. A couple of JWs gave me their canonical anti-evolution book, and even though it's only 150 pages long, half the size of a paperback, and full of pictures and big margins, reading it is a very slow endeavor, since I keep having to scribble "quote-mine" or "Spiderman argument" or "old source" or something in the margin.

  11. I just wanted to put in a quick plug praising the intelligence and civility of this dialog. Way too often religious/non-religious discussion bogs down in unproductive name calling. I respect Colson as generally articulate and genuinely interested in productive conversation. And I'm equally impressed with Russell's well worded arguments. Keep up the good work of arguing without "sneering" at one another.


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