And I’m another. Which does not mean that there aren’t atheists who are dishonest or incoherent, but atheism doesn’t require either dishonesty or incoherence – or lack of a sense of beauty, or lack of morality. There are plenty of decent atheists in the world, many of my best friends and relatives among them. But atheism tends not to put its best foot forward when the subject of discussion is “origins.” It frequently becomes angry, dogmatic, aggressive, unfair in argument, and insulting when that subject is brought up, as is apparent from the behavior of many celebrated atheists and many of their camp followers on blog sites that discuss origins.
For you and @AllenWitmerMiller
If you believe an atheist is being totally coherent in their thinking, how do you point them to God? By what basis do you say: you may be thinking about things the wrong way? or have you thought about it this way?
I didn’t mean they were coherent in their thinking about everything. I meant they could be coherent in their love of the beauty of nature.
As for how to point atheists to God, that’s a difficult question. There is no single answer. It depends on the atheist and the context. Certainly, as you can see from this site and others concerning origins, a certain kind of hard-boiled atheist is not going to be won over to belief in God through design arguments. (The few exceptions to this, such as Antony Flew, tend to be trained as philosophers rather than as biologists or biochemists.) Also, we have to deal with the cultural fact that “Christianity” and even “God” have acquired certain negative associations (due to the failure of religious believers to live up to their own standards, in many cases, though also due to systematic misrepresentation of Christians and Christian belief), so that when these words are uttered, many atheists tend to stop listening to what the religious believer is actually arguing or saying, and react against the negative stereotype they have in their minds.
On this site, even though the owner is Christian and many Christians post here, the discussions tend to be dominated by a group of half a dozen or so atheists who tend to be brittle and defensive about their atheism, and to have a chip on their shoulder (sometimes due to a deformed religious upbringing in defective forms of Christianity) regarding Christianity, God, the Bible, or religion in general. The atmosphere is generally combative and the discussions aren’t exploratory, but showdowns. And given the fact that the atheists in question are all male, and thus the existence of the testosterone factor (certain males rarely back down or even compromise when challenged in public, a stubbornness no doubt explainable, ironically, in evolutionary terms, as part of their primate ancestry), even those who might have some doubts about their atheism and some openness to religious faith, tend to conceal such things in the heat of combat. Sites like this are not the place to convert the hardliners. If any hardliner atheist here is ever to be converted, it will be off-camera, in a non-combative context, by encounters with special people or situations in their private lives which will force them to do some rethinking. And that will take place only over time, and not in view of the people reading the blog sites.
However, there is some value in these sites, in that there may be hundreds or even thousands of silent readers who don’t enter the fray, but merely watch the combat and observe the arguments and behavior of both sides. There are probably many religious “undecideds” out there, who are genuinely open to the possibility of God, but have been told by the media and the intelligentsia that belief in God is a sign of poor education or low intelligence. It’s really for those people that I participate here. I feel it’s necessary to show them that the militant atheists here frequently make overclaims, including scientific overclaims as well as philosophical and religious ones, so that they will feel less intimidated by atheist bullying, and more empowered to actually investigate the possibility of God without pressure. Whether I’ve done any good by this, I can’t say, but it has seemed worth the effort.
Of course, when I’m dealing with less militant types, my approach is quite different. There are all kinds of ways of getting open-minded people to think about God. Such people can be approached through their love of nature, or history, or music, or literature, or many other things. And they’re interested in conversation rather than argument.
I agree with about 95% of what you wrote. Thanks! I particularly enjoyed this part.
I figure if I enter the fray with a lot of men; I need to be at least twice as stubborn to earn any respect Doing that while being kind is really tough, but I’m learning a lot about myself along the way.
Yes, and it’s wrong that any woman should have to feel that way. Someone, I think Joshua, once noted that women are vastly underrepresented here. That was the case on Biologos as well. In fact, it’s the case on all origins sites I know about. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the case on most internet debating sites period.
The question is why women are less interested than men in participating in discussions on web sites. It’s not because of lack of intellectual ability – the last statistics I saw, women get higher grades than men, on average, in both high school and undergraduate years. I suspect it’s because of the “culture” of web sites. They tend to be places of competition rather than cooperation, of debate rather than exploratory discussion. I suspect that many (I don’t know what percentage of) women find conversations of that type less pleasant and less useful than many men do.
There has been much talk here from male posters about how we need a society that is more inclusive of people of color, of homosexuals, of atheists, etc. There been comparatively little talk about how posters on internet sites could change their dialogical behavior so as to make those sites more inclusive of women. Perhaps that is a subject that could be taken up by someone in a new column at some point in the future?
Your post and some of the language in it and in the subsequent post on this thread reminds me of a conceptual metaphor called “ARGUMENT is WAR” that I have only briefly read about (capitals due to convention of conceptual metaphor theory as far as I recall
Basically we take two cognitive domains and we blend them together to create a metaphor that shares elements of both. In this conceptual metaphor, the more abstract domain of argument is framed in the more concrete elements of the war frame. Thus we get language such as “winning an argument”, “destroying an argument”, “opposite sides” “opponents” etc.
Again, if I recall correctly, this isn’t seen just as a linguistic phenomena, but metaphors are embodied and inform the way we think. So the war-like attitude of “argument as war” would possibly lead to combative behaviour. This could explain why some posts here seem like a need to “win the argument” as though to not “win” is to lose a battle, rather than be edified.
I am not saying your post represents the combative attitude, nor the responses of @thoughtful, I just found it interesting. I would be interested in hearing from @Faizal_Ali on whether he sees any substance in this.
Happy for this to be split out to something else if needed, but really just a side note that others may find interesting as well
I don’t think this is accurate. Aside from threads where atheism vs theism is explicitly discussed, most threads touch on evolution. YECs have this tendency to conflate evolution with atheism and that’s why it seems like that’s what is always talked about or defended by.
This is a weird statement. Many people have left Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Evangelical Christianity, and Reformed Christianity to become atheists, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, so by your logic the Christian denominations that constitute most of Christendom is defective.
That is an unfair characterization of the atheists in this forum. The ones I have privately chatted with are congenial and willing to help me learn more about evolutionary theory. Like I said as long as YECs here keep on conflating evolution with atheism, and their arguments get rebutted, it will seem as if they are being attacked.
I think a thread should be started, where only Christians who accept evolution and atheists converse on some gray areas in the field of evolution, so that you see how such discussions go without that conflation of atheism with evolution. I think it has been done somewhat with GAE. Even atheists like the Crocodile Lord (@John_Harshman) and the Protein Sage (@Rumraket) agree that GAE is sound and has no quarrel with science. There is no bullying here.
Thank you; that’s kind of you.
I originally came here for cooperation and exploratory discussion. But I stayed for the debate and exploratory discussion. I wish I had taken a debate class in school. That and a physics class are things I should have done. But I didn’t really recognize then what those opportunities were then.
I’m guessing I’m a little odd. My husband has autism - I’m used to alpha male on steroids I suppose. I like stretching my brain, and I know I’m outmatched in conversations here that I have no educational background in. Oh well, they seem to have fun pointing out where I’m wrong. Then I just go research whatever they’re telling me. I’ve always enjoyed learning new things.
This is a good idea. You can’t really be inclusive without creating an environment conducive to it. Likely a lack of women in the sciences is a contributing factor.
This is the first time I’ve seen your name here. How long have you been a contributor here? And how long have you been reading the debates here?
No. You have made a gross logical error in drawing your conclusion. It does not follow from what I said.
I agree with you here. For the most part (with some exceptions) the conversation is reasonable until religious viewpoints are represented as fact, or that someone who thinks differently is dense…which alienates opposing sides and comes with a superior tone (whether atheist or theist). I have tried to temper my own failure in this respect and it seems to have lessened the offenses I generate through my own strong beliefs. That doesn’t mean I concede my belief, just that productive conversation doesn’t occur when I press it on someone that strongly disagrees.
Less than a month, I think.
Early this year. I was searching for information on Adam and Eve. Stumbled on Swamidass’s genealogical argument. I didn’t buy it at first, but on further reflection, I saw it had no qualms with science.
Then you should start reading how people, including yourself, have responded to me. They’re only nice to you because you don’t threaten what they believe.
Come now. You don’t threaten what anyone believes. And don’t confuse not being nice with bullying. Some people are blunt with you. Some are frustrated by your annoying habit of avoiding serious discussion. I don’t think anyone has bullied you.
Let’s not forget that just a couple days ago, you accused scientists in general (and perhaps some forum members in particular, since they work on COVID) of needlessly causing the death and suffering of thousands of people.
It was a thought experiment - you don’t believe GE is true, right?
Also, I admit it was over the top and I edited it the next day - you can look and see. I was angry and frustrated that scientists are ignoring a talented geneticist when his research definitely affects public health if it checks out.
I haven’t seen Valerie’s most recent writings, and I won’t. (Explained below.) I’ve seen Eddie’s comments and I think they are pretty typical and should be ignored. (Atheists bad, boo hoo, spare me.) But I think everyone on the forum should be willing to expand their view of “bullying” to include situations in which bullying is not intended but is experienced. Most notably when one person finds themselves in a disagreement with more than two others. There is nothing particularly atheist/Christian/Zoroastrian about that, and IMO it matters little whether the 3 or 4 people on one “side” are being nice to the other person. It can feel like bullying and if someone says they feel that way, we should IMO take notice and do something about it.
I won’t offer this as a procedure for mitigating the feeling of being bullied (or ganged up on, more accurately), but it can have that as a secondary effect: I have muted Valerie and another forum participant after I decided that I was in an impossible ethical position. These people take positions that require them to partially (but significantly) dehumanize me, and specifically to assert that I am cognitively damaged and deficient. Perhaps a fuller explanation, under a topic like “a humanist dilemma,” would be appropriate (or not), but the dilemma is whether to respect that person’s testimony about themselves or to assume/assert that they themselves are cognitively damaged or deficient. The former makes a legitimate conversation or relationship unworkable, for me. The latter is exactly the ethically indefensible behavior that these people exhibit. I chose the former, and felt compelled then to end any conversation or relationship.
For me, there have to be some basic foundational principles underlying the kind of community that the forum should be. There have to be some lines that can’t be crossed without wrecking the relationship. I don’t expect anyone else to do as I have done, but I do expect us to acknowledge that lines exist and that exploring what it means to be human has to involve a few fundamental commitments to the value of other humans.
While I certainly don’t think GE has any merit, I do appreciate that you edited your comment (which I hadn’t realized).
If you define “bullying” as being dismissive or unnecessarily snarky, then I owe you an apology, because I have being both to you. I am sorry.
If you define “bullying” as repeatedly trying to correct an erroneous impression of a process that is data-based, then I am not sorry. I gladly bully alkaline water and cancer quacks too.
Maybe atheists don’t want to be pointed to God. Maybe they want to live their lives without there being any God.
I also have to say I don’t think it is fair to say the idea of GE has been ignored. The fact that people have not referenced Sanford’s book or his papers in rebuttals papers and books of their own, does not mean that nobody has looked at it or responded to it.
Now this may seem like it is insulting to say, but I don’t know a nice way to say it so I’ll just have to be blunt. Some things are just nonsense, and it would be a waste of time and effort to give it undeserved attention in the form of publishing rebuttals in the peer reviewed literature.
There’s a flat Earth society where flat Earth believing people are writing flat Earth books, and you generally won’t see that cited in the peer reviewed literature either.
And if some flat Earth true believer has managed to sneak a paper into a legitimate journal, which in some way indicates (without explicitly stating) that the Earth is flat, I don’t think researchers from the physical sciences are under any obligation to start publishing rebuttal articles to it either, because that would amount to giving it undeserved credibility. Then we’d immediately see claims of victory from the flat Earth true believers who think their research has suddenly become Really Important™. Even if every single one of those papers cited massive amounts of evidence and solid arguments against a flat Earth.
So, now why do I say nothing would be gained by the scientific community citing Sanford’s work in peer reviewed publications? Because we can see it has no effect on this very forum, by reading your own posts.
Multiple threads exist on this forum where people have responded to the idea of GE at length. You yourself have had concepts explained to you, the contents of papers detailed and contrasted with Sanford’s articles, videos linked to you, and so on. And to what effect? None whatsoever. You appear to still be convinced that Sanford is right, and all these other people are wrong, despite having admitted you don’t even understand any of the relevant concepts, and are basically just siding with Sanford because he shares your YEC views alone.