Atheism Discussion 2.0 - Roundtable Discussion in Progress

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Fire_Ice_Death, Sep 17, 2005.

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  1. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    I think the reality is that religious folks here tend to take far more offense at any kind of criticism or mockery of religion (within the atheism thread, that is) than is true of the converse. It must be okay, I think, for religion to be dissected, attacked and even mocked to some extent, within this thread. No one should attack any member, but it needs to be okay for religion to be, in a word, slammed. Not for the sake of it, but as part of an overall critique or explanation.

    Religious folks take a lot of offense oftentimes to any suggestion that there's a problem within religion (or theirs, specifically), and that's the source of much strife here.
  2. Quixotic-Sith Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 22, 2001
    star 6
    A solution that worked for me in re: problem users was to prohibit them from participating in particular threads (assuming that there was only one or two problem threads and that there were no other conduct problems). For instance, there was a user who frequently made comments about individuals who were not fans of Episode I, and would troll a particular thread meant to allow dissatisfied reactions, but whose conduct was fine aside from that. I banned the user from the thread in question, but the rest of the forum was fair game (provided the TOS was followed).

    And I find it funny people have asked to have me banned. :)
  3. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    That's an option that has been discussed, but it's never really worked in the Senate because of the nature of the topics. Each forum has it own set of challenges and situations that are then wrapped up in the general blanket of the boards.

    A person could be prohibited from the atheism thread, as an example, but what if the issue comes up in the election thread? Or another thread about religion? The original issue just gets transferred around the forum. Abortion is another such topic that when it comes up, it tends to entrench people, but also fits in multiple forums.

    I certainly believe in the "detriment to the community" concept, and there is a line that a person can cross that results in individual action, but I'd prefer that it is preceded by an attempt to get the person to understand the nature of the topic first.

  4. DorkmanScott Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    I agree. But once that attempt is made, especially repeatedly, what kind of action should we expect?
  5. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    A person could be prohibited from the atheism thread, as an example, but what if the issue comes up in the election thread? Or another thread about religion? The original issue just gets transferred around the forum. Abortion is another such topic that when it comes up, it tends to entrench people, but also fits in multiple forums.


    Not really much different from the movie forums. I helped spearhead people being banned from the Yoda/Sidious and Mace/Sidious threads in the ROTS forum back in 2005, and that worked well. Discussion of those issues happened elsewhere at times, but those threads were the focal points, and that's where you should take action.
  6. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Quixotic Sith
    For instance, there was a user who frequently made comments about individuals who were not fans of Episode I, and would troll a particular thread meant to allow dissatisfied reactions, but whose conduct was fine aside from that.

    [face_laugh] That has to be the most eloquent description of the Bashers' Sanctuary ever! lol
  7. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    I disagree with this.

    There should be no need to mock anyone else's beliefs. We don't allow Catholics to mock Protestants in the Catholicism thread, nor Mormons to mock Catholics in the Mormonism thread. Why should atheists be allowed to mock theists (of all types) in the Atheism thread? In fact, that would go directly against the TOS, which says that everyone should respect others' beliefs.

    In my opinion, the standard should be fairly simple. Just like in the Mormonism or Catholicism threads, the rule has always been that it is a thread to promote understanding, the same rule should apply in the Atheism thread. In the other threads, it's a rule that no one needs to prove their beliefs. The same thing applies for atheists. They don't need to prove that God (or any god, if you prefer) exists or doesn't exist.

    One of the key things that makes a big difference is for the regulars in a thread to recognize that they don't have to respond to every demand for a response. This is one of the things that has made the Mormonism thread survive for so long (oldest continuously open thread in the Senate). When someone would come into the Mormonism thread demanding that we prove our beliefs, we would refuse to engage them. If they continued, we reported them to the mods and let them handle it.

    Especially in matters of religion (or lack thereof), no one needs to prove anything to anyone. Religious threads are a matter of sharing perspectives, not knock-down, dragged out debates over who is right or wrong. No one can win a "proof war". All you can do is share your perspective, ask others to share theirs', and leave it at that. Anything more is too much to ask of anyone.

    Kimball Kinnison
  8. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    Point taken about mockery. I withdraw that.

    Religious threads are a matter of sharing perspectives, not knock-down, dragged out debates over who is right or wrong.

    But this isn't a religious thread. It's a thread in part about the absence of religion. Atheists should be able to discuss amongst themselves without having the need to prove, disprove or do anything of the sort.
  9. nancyallen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2007
    star 4
    I can think of a number of issues that need to be addressed. First and foremost, atheists have to be open to the idea of criticism. It reached a point where no discussion that was negative of atheists and atheism were allowed. Perhaps it should be that those who feel they are not mature enough to rationally discuss the topic at hand shouldn't participate. To some extent atheists as a whole should be held up for question as well, because it should be seen where the atheist movement, or atheists as a group, are going.

    With that said, the second issue is bias in examples given is a problem. For example as perhaps the most extremist Christian church to claim Westboro as a portrayal of Christians as a whole is unfair, the same as it is to say atheists are all like Darwin Bedford. However if example after example after example of a particular case can be given, or we were to examine a proper work such as a published book or formal speech (as opposed to a Youtube user expressing their opinions) then they should be held up for examination.

    That there is very much a bias for atheists is a concern that must be raised as well. In regards to bias we have seen discussion being one sided, changing the goalposts around so that atheism can be defended and favoritism shown to atheists in any form of discussion that is held. It makes the forum very unwelcoming to those who feel they have an important matter to discuss and are perhaps scared off by the idea that they will be ganged up on. There should be more even room for theists to discuss atheism, as they are not allowed to discuss it anywhere else. As it stands at the moment however the thread has become a theist no go zone.

    Lastly, and most importantly, attitude and respect should be addressed. Basically, to belittle and talk down to someone you don't agree with is not on. Baiting comments is not on. Accusing someone of lying is not on. Demanding that someone leave the forum is not on. Attempts to bully someone out of the forum is not on. Threats and stalking are actually legal issues, to stress how serious this is they are a criminal offense that are reported to ISPs who will then terminate Internet accounts. Quite bluntly those who cannot participate without doing these things shouldn't be here. That, or maybe the idea of utter zero tolerance should be toyed with.
  10. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    That's why, I didn't simply say that this was a religious thread. If you look at what I said, the sentence before what you quoted (as well as the rest of that paragraph) speaks about that very thing:
    This thread may not be specifically religious, but it is in very much the same vein as the other religious threads in the Senate. It makes sense to follow the same sort of standards as those threads would use.

    Kimball Kinnison
  11. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    This thread may not be specifically religious, but it is in very much the same vein as the other religious threads in the Senate. It makes sense to follow the same sort of standards as those threads would use.


    But, again, this is a thread about atheism. So, in a sense, this is "home turf" for atheists/agnostics, a place where people of such views can be free to discuss them without the need to defend what they believe. The terms of this thread are based on atheism, not as an equal opportunity place for everyone to chime in. Everyone can chime in, of course, but atheists shouldn't need to explain themselves if they don't want to. That applies to the Mormonism thread too, I believe.
  12. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Firstly, I'd say K_K is entirely right about the mocking of religion not being neccessary. That said, I don't think its a violation to voice an opinion that is highly critical of religion or the logic therein.

    I also will agree that, similar to how the religious threads don't force the constant proving of religion, the atheism thread should at least have an option to focus on topics and not be distracted in that process by having to constantly defend why people catagorise themselves as atheists. I do think that, simply because atheism is nothing beyond not believing in god, the reasons for that view are worth looking at periodically, but the conversation shouldn't be limited to that. In this way it does differ from the threads on specific religions, which just consider that to be a topic not to be dealt with. I'd just like to ensure that the challenges to why one considers oneself an atheist be spread out somewhat to allow other topics to be discussed as well. E.g. DarthKomar's criticisms of atheism were from a poster new to the thread, and it had been a while since the topic had come up, and so I felt it was alright to spend some time on that topic since it had been a while since it was last discussed and there might be new views and perspectives.
  13. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Nancy, I'm glad you made it, so both perspectives are represented.

    Now, I'm going to address your concerns as I see them.

    First, we want to post where you want to, but you have to keep some perspective, and this applies to anyone. Maybe at times, you need to take a break from the atheism thread, and relax a bit by participating in a thread that isn't so serious. Sometimes, in a desire to defend one's own viewpoint, a person comes across as antagonistic.

    Look at this this way-how effective would anyone be by running into a smoking bar and yelling at all the patrons that smoking is bad for them? They're already at the bar and are already smoking, so it's not going to be the most productive outlet to change anyone's mind.

    The purpose of moderation is to uphold the overall flow of discussion. This applies to any forum. A single person could have the best intentions in the world, but if it is a single person standing against a dozen of other people in the thread, it's going to be easy to misinterpret that person's intent.
  14. nancyallen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2007
    star 4
    If this is the only place that it is allowed to discuss atheism it's intensely dishonest and unfair for those who have a negative viewpoint to be made to feel they cannot participate.
  15. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    That brings up the question of why atheism is important to you, and what causes you to participate in discussions revolving around or involving atheism/agnosticism. Are you looking for certain admissions from atheists? Perhaps just some answers to questions? What brings you to a thread like this?

    Your motivations have much to do with what you'll get out of it.
  16. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I would stress that there were no accusations that I recall implying that DarthKomar (as a recent example) couldn't try to criticise atheism. And that its rather logical that there would be no shortage of people that would be countering his posts.
  17. nancyallen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2007
    star 4
    Questioning things written in The God Delusion and speaking out against intolerance, surely these are issues that can, nay, must be addressed.
  18. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    So, perhaps it's more Richard Dawkins that upsets you. But, I don't think anyone here is going to be able to allay that. There must be a point at which you would be willing to move on from that particular issue.
  19. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    That's exactly it. If it comes to that, there is nothing wrong with saying "we agree to disagree" and move on. It's not going to be productive to fiercely debate a point until the people explode.

    That's what I'm trying to point out to you. It's the atheism thread, no one should have to feel like they "must" address anything. Simply present the best viewpoint you can and then move on. There has to be room for compromise and willingness to allow everyone to disagree.
  20. DorkmanScott Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    As I pointed out -- again repeatedly -- I saw few if any valid criticisms of atheism at all. I'm happy to hear real criticisms, but I'm fairly tired of having to explain that I don't kill puppies or eat people, that other atheists don't kill puppies or eat people, and that even if they did, it is neither a reflection on me nor on atheism.

    Now, if we wanted to have a discussion re: The God Delusion -- and not "HES INTOLERATIONING ME AND SO ARE YOU!!1!" -- then that might be a worthwhile conversation, assuming everyone has access to the book and/or someone who did was willing to post relevant passages. In fact I think that might even be a great topic moving forward, since I'm guessing most people who have a problem with The God Delusion haven't read it past the title.

    But if there's to be criticism of atheism, it has to be a criticism of ideas, not of actions. Because atheism, as has been explained -- again repeatedly -- is not a religion. It has no central doctrine and thus, unlike religion, one cannot point to a "passage" in a "holy book" as justification for why any particular action is taken. Atheism is ideas; the ideas can be criticized, but the actions of people who happen to be atheist are no more representative of atheism as a whole than the actions of people who happen to be vegetarian are of vegetarianism.
  21. nancyallen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2007
    star 4
    It's not just him. Everywhere I look I see atheist intolerance of religion. It's not just individuals on Star Wars forums. Whole forums and web sites are dedicated to hatred of religion. There is condemnation of public figures who hold religious beliefs. There are calls to remove children from parents who are Christian. There is the whole 'Imagine a world without God' campaign. Book after book after book is published condemning God and religion. Certainly my biggest fear is seeing the level of intolerance I see take hold, because I don't want the situation to reach the point where we have people persecuted for their beliefs. Atheists would argue that would never happen, but the specter of Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao and Hitler looms large in intolerance of religion, and I firmly believe that we are inching closer to something I don't think any of us want.
  22. DorkmanScott Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    The question becomes: so what? Does that give you the right to come and be intolerant of atheists who may NOT be intolerant of religion? In so doing you only increase the likelihood that they will become so.

    This is a discussion thread, not a pulpit. If you're going anywhere with the idea of "speaking out against" anything, you're coming at it from the wrong direction.

    The rest of the post is re-starting the conversation, which we have been told not to do.
  23. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Nancy, I mean this is all seriousness, but you can't take the burden you just described all on your own shoulders. You just can't.

    Don't use a single forum here as a representation of everything you find to be wrong. It's not fair to everyone here. Like I said, just provide the best basis for discussion you can, and realize that people are free to agree or disagree with it.
  24. ShrunkenJedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2003
    star 5
    You'd have a point if you could show that atheists are any more intolerant than our religious cousins. Sunni against Shia, Jews against Palestinians and just about everyone else against Jews, Catholics and Protestants, recent incitement of hatred against Muslims because of the radicals in their ranks who can't seem to stand anyone else having a different lifestyle... it goes on and on. And on. And as has been demonstrated by the recent topic of 'do you openly tell people you're atheist', there's still considerable prejudice against atheists for nothing except not believing.
  25. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    It's not just him. Everywhere I look I see atheist intolerance of religion. It's not just individuals on Star Wars forums. Whole forums and web sites are dedicated to hatred of religion.

    This is just one sentence, but I think the rest of your post (and probably posts in general) repeats the theme. You strike me as someone who's on a crusade of sorts, and you absolutely won't allow anything that you deem to be intolerance of religion pass without saying something. But, I must say that what seems to the rest of us as valid criticism may strike you as intolerant, and further, you're not going to win any converts over here. You're going to see what you classify as intolerance everywhere, including here, and there just isn't anything you can do about it.

    I see stuff I disagree with, and often just make a post or two to put it on the record that I disagree. You can't really expect much more than that. You can't change the world from this forum, nancy.
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