logo

Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2
Policy suggestions for the Atheist/ Agnostic Forum #366152
01/13/08 11:26 PM
01/13/08 11:26 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 38
Colorado
A
AJ Hill Offline OP
BellaOnline Editor
AJ Hill  Offline OP
BellaOnline Editor
Newbie
A
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 38
Colorado
Welcome to the Atheist/ Agnostic Forum. From what I can see things have been rather quiet here recently. As the site�s new editor I aim to change that � with your help. I�m required to post something here as part of my training, so I�ve decided to address an issue that confronted my predecessor on the site. If I take a clue from her, maybe I can avoid the problem she encountered.

Like Ali I want to encourage a wide range of visitors to our site and to our forum, including not only agnostics and atheists, but also people of faith, many of whom can contribute signicant insights to our discussions. There are two problems with this inclusiveness. Religious people don�t share our reverence for empiricism. When faith conflicts with observation, they generally come down on the side of faith, which is pretty much the antithesis of our approach. When the participants in a discussion adhere to such different standards of truth, the quality of debate suffers. They wind up merely talking past one another, usually at great length!

Even more problematical is the tendency of religious fundamentalists to pass moral judgment on those who disagree with them. I experienced this during a year of almost daily interaction with Creationists on the Townhall website. A relatively small cadre of religious zealots uploadeded long, rambling diatribes into nearly every thread, filled with apocalyptic threats, personal invective, and specious arguments based on Scripture. They seemed to believe that the more biblical text they block loaded, the more convincing their arguments became. This is not to say that religious people were the only offenders. Posters on my side often treated religious posters with open contempt as if they were superstitious morons. Tactics like this stifle constructive dialogue and create bad feeling, both of which I�d like to avoid.

Here�s what I propose:

(1) It makes no sense for people to argue, when they hold diametrically opposite views about the nature of truth. There's no basis for agreement on anything. Therefore I suggest that each thread on this site be classified as either �faith based� or �empirical�, depending on the form of truth-testing to be used in it. The person who starts the thread and defines the topic should also make that choice and everyone who posts on the thread subsequently should agree to abide by her decision.

(2) The next one�s easy. I think that personal attacks in any form should be out of bounds. This isn�t a subtle determination; people know when they�re attacking others. I suggest that those who use ad hominem language on a thread be given a single warning before being banned from that thread. This includes not only disparaging a person's intellect, but using religious language or Biblical quotations to condemn her as a sinner or threaten her with damnation.

These policy suggestions are not intended to discourage civil debate, but to do just the opposite. If you have an opinion one way or the other, please post a comment. I look forward to hearing from you!

Last edited by AJ Hill; 01/13/08 11:36 PM.
Re: Policy suggestions for the Atheist/ Agnostic Forum [Re: AJ Hill] #368892
01/23/08 04:47 PM
01/23/08 04:47 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 2
C
choose2live Offline
Newbie
choose2live  Offline
Newbie
C
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 2
and I quote you; "Religious people don�t share our reverence for empiricism."

Wow....that is really stereotyping "religious" people and seems bigoted in my estimation.

Some of us "religious" types came to our conclusions based on science and our observation of the creation.

It takes just as much "faith" for you to be an atheist as it does for me to be a creationist.

Re: Policy suggestions for the Atheist/ Agnostic Forum [Re: choose2live] #369979
01/26/08 09:13 AM
01/26/08 09:13 AM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 38
Colorado
A
AJ Hill Offline OP
BellaOnline Editor
AJ Hill  Offline OP
BellaOnline Editor
Newbie
A
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 38
Colorado
choose2live -- Thank you for posting your thoughts in the A/A Forum. You�re the first person to respond. I hope you won�t be the last. And I hope you�ll keep coming back too. I think that religious people have a lot to contribute to the type of discussion I find most meaningful: about ethics, about what we do with our lives and about what we can become as human beings.

I�m sorry that you found my remarks offensive. They weren�t intended that way. I believe in treating everyone with respect, but that doesn�t mean giving credence to bad ideas and misinformation.

Since you say you�re a �creationist�, I�m going to guess that you�re not a scientist and that you have little training in science. That�s not an insult. It�s just a fact that the vast majority of creationists aren�t scientists and very few scientists are creationists � in spite of what you�ve been told. I have no doubt that you know a great deal about many things - things that I know nothing about. Maybe you�re an expert cook, or musician, or banker, or mechanic. Yet somehow you�ve been convinced that you understand enough about sophisticated sciences like molecular genetics and thermodynamics and biochemistry to contradict the experts in those fields. I find that really weird. And frustrating.

It�s frustrating, because you spend so much time debating issues you know nothing about, instead of contributing to constructive discussions about the things you do understand.

This has gone on long enough for one post. I�ll just deal with a single issue specifically. You say it takes faith to be an atheist. This recent addition to creationist dogma depends on a lack of understanding of empiricism and of faith too. The best definition of faith � and the most beautiful one - that I know comes from Hebrews 11:1. Faith is �the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.� At one time religious people acknowledged their faith candidly and proudly. It inspired them in good times and sustained them in bad. Sadly that�s no longer enough. They�ve been told that their beliefs must also withstand the empirical testing of science. It�s a pernicious lie, which requires them to accept all manner of nonsense, mostly about science.

Scientists don�t trust in anything without question � not anything. Even the basic epistomological underpinning of knowledge � that the universe is orderly and accessible to rational understanding � is subject to continual doubt and testing. If observations ever indicate that the universe doesn�t behave as we think it does, we will abandon that assumption. This is empiricism. It sure isn�t faith.

I think it�s very sad that religious people have started treating faith as an insult to throw at atheists, instead of a matter of pride in themselves. As I said, you shouldn�t be angry with me, but with the cynical people who have filled your head with falsehoods in order to take away that pride.

Re: Policy suggestions for the Atheist/ Agnostic Forum [Re: AJ Hill] #370032
01/26/08 05:53 PM
01/26/08 05:53 PM
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 4
Cambridge, ma
CoffeeDrinker1980 Offline
Newbie
CoffeeDrinker1980  Offline
Newbie
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 4
Cambridge, ma
Hello,
I agree with your suggested rules and think they are a good one. I am an atheist, though I tend not to love the word, perhaps that is directly related to being raised in a strictly catholic family. I have participated in a lot of discussions with those on both sides of this issue and what I seem to find over and over again is that those of faith always in the end revert back to damning the atheists to hell and the atheists hitting the religious over the head with books about Darwin.Everyone taking every statement personal. Although choose2live didn't damn you to hell so thats a good starting point and thus I think the rules are wonderful. I can never seem to find a middle ground but hopefully that will change. I'm going to start reading the God Delusion here soon so perhaps Ill come back and post something when I'm done.


Dink and proud
Re: Policy suggestions for the Atheist/ Agnostic Forum [Re: CoffeeDrinker1980] #370069
01/26/08 09:04 PM
01/26/08 09:04 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 38
Colorado
A
AJ Hill Offline OP
BellaOnline Editor
AJ Hill  Offline OP
BellaOnline Editor
Newbie
A
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 38
Colorado
CoffeeDrinker '80 -- Good to hear from you and thanks for your input. I agree with you about the term "atheist". Besides its historically provocative connotation for people of faith, the word itself sounds harsh, maybe because it sounds too much like "anti-theist". I'm currently working on an article about Humanists, who use the term "nontheist" instead. It seems a lot milder.

You're right: choose2live didn't damn me. In fact, I thought her post was perfectly appropriate, because it challenged what I said. I hope she'll contribute again. Regarding the rules of discussion, assuming enough people comment on them, I'm going to keep track to see if there's a concensus. My impression is that unproductive ad hominem filled arguments grow in a chain reaction. One impolitic remark elicits another and before long, everyone's angry. If the exchange of unpleasantries can be curtailed immediately, maybe our discussions here will remain civil.

I enjoyed The God Delusion although I had a few caveats. I hope you'll come back after you've read it and give us your impression! With so many books coming out from both sides regarding religion, it would be great to have a number of threads based on them.

Beyond that I hope to encourage discussions about other issues besides whether God exists or not. For an atheist making that first decision is in many ways the easiest step! I'm interested in the choices that come later, when people reach critical points in their lives and without relying on supernatural authority have to decide what to do.

I hope to see you again.

Last edited by AJ Hill; 01/26/08 09:07 PM.
Re: Policy suggestions for the Atheist/ Agnostic Forum [Re: AJ Hill] #370728
01/29/08 03:29 PM
01/29/08 03:29 PM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 655
M
Ms A Offline
Gecko
Ms A  Offline
Gecko
M
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 655
I'm wondering, for #1, if there may be a possibility of cross-over. Not any specific topics in mind, but the possibility exists, I think.

#2 is just politeness, which I heartily agree with! (Wish more people would exhibit it, especially on-line. There was an article, I think in Scientific American, about how the anonymonity of the internet makes many feel free to be far ruder than they would if they had their identity out there.)

Anyone who doesn't agree with these is a stupid idiot -- ;-) (I'm sorry, I just can't resist joking around!)

BTW, in case you are wondering, I'm a second-generation agnostic. My son seems to be leaning that way (dh is athiest, but was raised Christian) -- we have tried to encourage him to think things out, and to be respectful to those who believe whatever they believe. (As long as it doesn't hurt others. I have a real problem with hurting others!)

Re: Policy suggestions for the Atheist/ Agnostic Forum [Re: Ms A] #370785
01/29/08 07:18 PM
01/29/08 07:18 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 38
Colorado
A
AJ Hill Offline OP
BellaOnline Editor
AJ Hill  Offline OP
BellaOnline Editor
Newbie
A
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 38
Colorado
Ms A - Thank you for contributing. You make a very good point about "cross-over" topics that would profit from both empirical and faith-based viewpoints. If a consensus ever develops (or if circumstances make such a rule desirable) I'll probably follow your suggestion and implement all three categories.

Re: Policy suggestions for the Atheist/ Agnostic Forum [Re: AJ Hill] #398018
03/25/08 12:38 PM
03/25/08 12:38 PM
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 988
Vermont, USA
Shannon L. Wolf Offline
Parakeet
Shannon L. Wolf  Offline
Parakeet
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 988
Vermont, USA
Hi AJ,
I hopped on over to this discussion after seeing on the editor forum that you were resigning. I'm glad to see that you chose to stay! I don't get a lot of visitors at my stomach issues site, either. But I understand that not everyone has a connection with the topic and there isn't a whole lot to debate about there other than perhaps which remedies a person believes in.

I think that this is a great topic and I completely agree with your approach. It can be tough to find people who don't tenaciously defend their belief system, even though they don't honestly understand what they are defending. They seem to think that "right fighting" is the same thing as faith. True faith comes with a purity that the defensive ego can't attach itself to.

So, I do have some curiosity about what it means to be an atheist or "nontheist" (though to me they say the same thing - the prefix "a" meaning "non" - to change this appears to be splitting hairs.) Where do you believe that life comes from? Is atheism empirical in it's nature because you see no evidence of a God? Is the search for evidence based upon the "menu" of religious choices you have encountered that have fallen short of meaning for you? Do you believe that there is a distict separation of "ego" and "self?"

I have struggled all of my life with trying to find God. I always had the sense that life began with something - that awareness in and of itself was proof enough for me that life exists beyond matter. Yet I found no comfort in the Christian religions that I encountered. They all seemed to be "right fighters" who if you lined them all up, were saying exactly the same thing. I'm "right and you are wrong," therefore God loves me and hates you. Talk about an ego trip! Same message, different ritual to adhere to. I couldn't relate to Catholicism or Buddhism, because there is an inherent belief system in each of them that one needs to adhere to, based on a specific storyline and ritual. Without the storyline and ritual, there is no actual religion.

I went to a medium/intuitive counselor and told her nothing about myself. She said to me that I have a real problem with religion - because I was a nun more than once in past lives! Heh, that is a whole other topic (or two) but I had to raise an eyebrow...

Then I encountered the Tao. In the Tao, if you can name "God" then it isn't God. God has no name, no substance, no form. God is the nothingness and the all-ness simultaneously. The only way to feel "God" is to sit in silence. In the Tao, "God" is awareness. It's all about separating the ego from true awareness.

I feel that the Tao is perfectly scientific in it's nature. If you understand quantum physics, you know that there is no actual form. Only compiled energy. That energy, to my understanding is "God."

Again, thanks for a forum free of "bashing!"

Shay

Re: Policy suggestions for the Atheist/ Agnostic Forum [Re: Shannon L. Wolf] #398193
03/25/08 06:08 PM
03/25/08 06:08 PM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 655
M
Ms A Offline
Gecko
Ms A  Offline
Gecko
M
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 655
>Where do you believe that life comes from?

Shay, I can't speak for AJ, but my understanding of life on earth is that it started here. (That doesn't preclude the possibility -- imo probably a highly likely possibility, given the number of planets we already know about with our limited technology, of life on other planets.) There have been some exciting experiments done that -- in a limited time (and of course, this process happened over a far too long time period for human experiments to yield results as complex as life), given the raw materials that were likely on early Earth, along with lots of electricity (to simulate lightning), they formed amino acids -- the building blocks of life.

The questions that boggle my mind are more on the origins of the universe, and ultimate destiny of it, as well as the whole concept of finite and infinite. What precipitated the big bang? Where was all the matter and energy prior to it? How can the universe have boundaries? How can it not have boundaries?

Life, given the right materials and enough time, seems a much more simple concept to me!

I like seeing a different definition of God -- I use my own version to be able to agree to the BSA's policies for now. (I would love to get them to change their religious policy, since it is based on a fallacy, but this is not the time for that fight for me.)

And I agree -- a "bash-free" zone is always a good thing!

Re: Policy suggestions for the Atheist/ Agnostic Forum [Re: Ms A] #398212
03/25/08 06:48 PM
03/25/08 06:48 PM
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 17,644
Reno, NV
Phyllis Doyle Burns Offline
Highest Posting Power Known to Humanity
Phyllis Doyle Burns  Offline
Highest Posting Power Known to Humanity
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 17,644
Reno, NV
Hello AJ,

I, too, am glad that you decided to stay on. I enjoy reading your posts.

I was raised as a Christian, Baptist, and have always believed in God and Jesus. I have had indisputable trials and experiences that have reaffirmed this in my mind and in my heart. I do, however, also have a very strong affinity and bond to Native American beliefs, which at times are similar to Christianity in the belief that there is but One Creator, God, The Great Spirit.

The Native American beliefs came with the first peoples on this continent who came from Mongolia and Northern Japan and other Asian parts. The Mongolians practiced Shamanism and you will find, even today, many Native American rituals that are definitely Shamanistic in their approach and practice. It is a very interesting area of research and study for me.

I admire and appreciate your "rules for the forum" and also truly appreciate your invitation to persons of all beliefs to join in on good, clean discussions.

"Faith" is a very difficult word to understand. I have "faith" in my mix of beliefs and traditions and the way I pray, you have faith that your beliefs are right for you. I admire anyone who is strong in their own beliefs, whether they are like mine or not.

I wish you luck in this forum. Judging by this thread, you are going to be very successful in your endeavors to succeed. I will at times, I am sure, be back to join in on some discussions and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to do so.


Walk in Peace and Harmony.
Phyllis Doyle Burns
Avatar: Fair Helena by Rackham, Public Domain
Page 1 of 2 1 2

Brand New Posts
John Lennon's Imagine Film Back in Theaters
by Angela - Drama Movies. Drama Movies
08/14/18 10:10 PM
Very First Gaming System?
by Nancy Roussy. Computer - Console Gaming Help
08/14/18 09:07 PM
What is your stress level today?
by Nancy Roussy. Stress Management
08/14/18 07:16 PM
Where are you and how is the weather?
by Nancy Roussy. Inspiration
08/14/18 07:14 PM
What are you looking forward to today?
by Nancy Roussy. Self Development
08/14/18 07:13 PM
What will you do today?
by Nancy Roussy. Inspiration
08/14/18 07:10 PM
What's your Typical Daily Menu?
by Nancy Roussy. Home Cooking
08/14/18 07:03 PM
Did you dream last night?
by Nancy Roussy. Dreams
08/14/18 07:00 PM
Spiders!
by Nancy Roussy. Clairvoyance
08/14/18 08:11 AM
2018: On this day . . .
by Mona - Astronomy. Astronomy
08/14/18 05:57 AM
Privacy
This forum uses cookies to ensure smooth navigation from page to page of a thread. If you choose to register and provide your email, that email is solely used to get your password to you and updates on any topics you choose to watch. Nothing else. Ask with any questions!
Channel List
Beauty & Self
Books & Music
Career
Computers
Education
Family
Food & Wine
Health & Fitness
Hobbies & Crafts
Home & Garden
Money
News & Politics
Relationships
Religion & Spirituality
Sports
Travel & Culture
TV & Movies
Safety
We take forum safety very seriously here at BellaOnline. Please be sure to read through our Forum Guidelines. Let us know if you have any questions or comments!
Sponsor


| About BellaOnline | Privacy Policy | Advertising | Become an Editor |
Website copyright © 2018 Minerva WebWorks LLC. All rights reserved.


Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.6.1.1