Anti-Evolutionists are Welcome Here

@gbrooks9, if, by “attack” you actually mean “criticize” or “argue with”, then we absolutely should tolerate such activity. Heck, we should invite it.


Just to be clear where I stand in all this, let me explain a bit.

@gbrooks9, you did not write this out of self interest, and you really do care about the PS project. I’m glad you are here.

It is very important to me that we make clear that Peaceful Science welcomes everyone here, including evolutionists and anti-evolutionists, theists of many sorts and atheists.

For this reason, it is really important not to speak on behalf of Peaceful Science in ways that are unwelcoming. For example, this phrasing really is a problem:

It is also very fraught to describe us in a reductive way, stating we are “all about” one point:

@gbrooks9, I undersatnd your sentiment but there is a better way to express it. You coulld say:

@pnelson, you reallly missing the point, just as @scd is missing the point. And it is because you and he categorically reject the idea that God would use Evolutionary processes to create Earth’s life forms.

Just about everyone at Peaceful Science, including the atheists, know that God could employ evolutionary processes – and STILL using one-off miracles for the creation of Adam and Eve.

This, I think captures your intended sentiment. But it doesn’t speak on behalf of Peaceful Science, and it does not tell @Pnelson and @scd to leave. I don’t meant to call you out harshly to be clear. The only reason I intervened is so that PS is not misrepresented and they do not feel I am asking them to leave by my silence.

As for what we are all about, I have done the heavy lifting here:

This would be the right place to be quoting and using to educate people about what we are doing an dwhy.

Now this worth discussing more. How do we structure conversations and interactions to build trust? Especially for regulars, this is something that should govern our interactions. I do think there are ways for us to improve here.

This forum has actually been a great place for atheists to confront common tropes that circulate within some Christian circles. In my experience, what starts out as an “attack” can be swiftly deflected into common understanding. I have seen many posters stunned at the proposition that atheists are open to the idea of God existing, and that atheism isn’t synonymous with believing God does not exist. I think it is also worthwhile for atheists to explain how they derive morality, and just their overall worldview. Most of the time, it turns out Christians and atheists share a lot more in common than many think.


The mission is clearly stated, but it could use expansion:

Peaceful Science ’s mission is to advance a civic practice of science…

…by seeking dialogue in discord and understanding across disagreements,
…by fostering interdisciplinary scholarship engaged with science and the public, and
…by encouraging conversation around the grand question: what does it mean to be human?

My opinions here.

George wrote that he thinks “we shouldn’t allow” certain kinds of “badgering.” This is depressingly ironic since he just wrote to two participants that they are not welcome, which seems way beyond “badgering” in my book.

But my main point would be that we should all aim for some norms of how to interact that acknowledge and understand the existence of deep differences. A Christian should feel perfectly comfortable asserting the existence of their god, even directly to an atheist, without being accused of “badgering.” If that Christian can provide nothing but blatant assertions and quotes from old books, then they’re being obtuse but they’re not “badgering.” If an atheist complained about this, and cried about being “badgered” by a YEC who thinks that god told her/him something, I would vote we explain to that atheist that boneheaded claims are not disallowed at PS. Boneheadedness need not be judged outside of norms, IMO. But neither should frank and direct rebuttal, including “now that’s just boneheaded.” Reasonable norms would never, IMO, be about whether certain kinds of assertion or disagreement are disallowed, but instead would be about whether certain kinds of dehumanization or exclusion are disallowed.

I’ll note the obvious, though: norms for engagement are not the same as best practices for effective dialogue. Endless repetition (“yes it is! no it isn’t!”) can lie within moral norms but be tedious and distracting and a hindrance to the forum.


I agree it could be expanded and that should be an ongoing project. I would like to offer a personal account of how this happened (clarity about the mission) for me, because it was pretty pivotal in my decision to be an active part of PS.

A few months ago, a few PS participants proposed some specific structuring of the forum. The specifics don’t matter but the basic idea was to wall off certain kinds of conversations so that participants wouldn’t be pestered by people who either do or don’t believe in the relevant gods. Part of the backdrop to the proposal was an explicit claim that PS is about a certain kind of conversation (theological, origins-related, etc.). I read these exchanges with concern, because I wouldn’t be interested in a forum like that. Joshua stepped in with a clear and generous response that made an impression on me:

What followed was an interesting discussion of the forum, its goals, and its unfinished nature. It’s a work in progress.


George has a habit of speaking for Peaceful Science and explaining that certain people are not welcome here. If I recall, he’s told me that I’m not welcome on occasion. Fortunately, he isn’t in charge. Still, it would be good if he would stop.


A lot of good comments here.

I think @gbrooks9 does have valid concerns that I also share.

  1. Boneheaded comments are certainly allowed, but repeating boneheaded comments over and over? Whether polite or not, it is boring and it doesn’t move the conversation forward.

  2. Off-topic objections that totally derail theological conversations undermine our mission. It seems far more sensible to first ensure that the objection does not violate #1, and then start a new thread to raise these objections.

  3. Off-topic ideas or insults/uncivil comments. really should not be answered in line with a thread. We should contact the personal directly to delete or move those comments/insults, or flag the post. Once insults, insults or uncivil comments are addressed in a thread, then it is harder for the offender to just delete them.

Sure, @Moderators can split threads, but honestly it would be best if the regulars exercised discipline in staying on topic, and flagging posts from others that are off0topic, rather than responding.


Well, my goal is to avoid those threads altogether. I think it is reasonable for unbelievers to stay out of internecine conversations about the actions and tastes of the gods. There is almost never anything that we can contribute. I’d estimate 60% of the threads on the forum have a title that says “Stephen you wouldn’t be interested in this” and so I simply stay out of them. This kind of “structure” can be really helpful IMO and I could even picture a flexible policy of politely asking people who don’t accept the premise of a conversation (the existence of a god, the reality of common ancestry, etc) to stay out of that conversation. The appeal would be to politeness and respect.

Of course there will be times and places where there is no obvious premise like that, and the topic is actually about the relevance of some science for some belief or vice versa. Norms of respectful discourse would apply, and those include avoidance of mindless repetition, but since these are some of the most important conversations at PS (my opinion, of course), then self-appointed police who tell people they don’t belong should perhaps be flagged in advance and discouraged by moderation.



cc: (@sfmatheson , @swamidass )

Using your logic, we should have as many arguments over unresolvable issues as possible… because that’s the only polite thing to do.

ONE: I am not interested in banning anyone.
TWO: I am not interested in banning any topic.
THREE: But I am interested in properly classifying topics so that NOTORIOUSLY polarizing and divisive discussions can happen without dominating the culture of Peaceful Science.


Could you please quote the sentence in which I said a participant isn’t welcome? If I wrote it, I want to own-up to writing it. But, at the moment, I strongly suspect I didn’t write anything that said that.

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He doesn’t oppose it because he allows for micro-evolution… not macro-evolution.

Do you have a clear, non-insulting way of referring to people who oppose only macro-evolution.

I’m asking for a friend.

I’m not sure this contradicts anything I wrote.

Are you asking because you’re genuinely interested in talking with Paul while displaying a minimal level of common courtesy? Or is it some kind of gotcha question to get me to ‘admit’ that “anti-evolutionist” really is the only possible label to attach to people who haven’t used it about themselves?

It’s in the top of the thread:


I agree with @sfmatheson. @gbrooks9, I appreciate you asking the question. This comment crossed a line, especially when considered alongside the following sentences.

As I’ve stated already, you have legitimate concerns, some of which I and @sfmatheson also share. However, this is not the right way to police them.

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Maybe us regular users can just leave the policing to the admins/moderators, and only “help” them via reporting posts when applicable?


Sending a private and polite note to individuals that helps them understand expectations would be very much encouraged. That is especially true if have some rapport with the offender.



I remember now what I was trying to “capture” and “discuss” when I chose the phrase “out-of-place”. And I can see why it has created strong push-back.

I hereby retract those sentences that use the phrase; Joshua, if you want me to physically edit those sentences, let me know.

But in the meantime, I will state the obvious:
@scd and @pnelson are the two Creationist participants most energetic in picking fights with Atheist contributors… who are honor-bound to defend themselves. I find this to be intentional behavior to deflect and de-rail productive conversations here at Peaceful Science.

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Sure, but it goes both ways. And they are the minority voice here. Don’t minoritize them.

I do appreciate that you are rising to the defense of us atheists but @pnelson seems the opposite of this. He would be justified in claiming that I pick fights with him, and while I hope he doesn’t think that about me, I can say that I have never seen him pick a fight here. More notably I don’t see him pick fights with atheists, or even direct specific criticisms at atheists or unbelief. I’m frankly baffled about why anyone would make this charge. Nelson is wrong about a lot, and he is going in directions that make his ideas and claims peripheral at best. But “pick fights”? That’s not him.