Tentative Forum Goals and Policy

We’ve concluded that no new rules will be instituted, however a disclaimer will be added. Please comment on the disclaimer if you care to have it worded differently.

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Continuing the discussion from Official Launch of the Forum:

We’ve had a bit of a rough patch on the forums as we have grown. That is very normal, even though I personally made some missteps that certainly made this more challenging (sorry).

At this point, I want to clarify some of our goals and values. After getting feedback from people and adjust a bit, it will become our official “guide book”, and can be relied up on by people (e.g. @moderators) , especially when I to busy to lay down the law.

How do you think we should explain ourselves and set rules?

A few things I hope to make clear:

  1. We seek peace by (1) seeking to understand one another, (2) identifying and defending common ground, (2) helping other’s make sense of their deeply held beliefs, with a non-confrontational engagement with science, and (3) emphasizing that our confidence comes from Jesus, not scientific arguments.

  2. We see the Origins Debate as a test of Christian unity; will we love those with whom we disagree as family? Will we find greater reason to build bridges than to deepen divides.

  3. We week to build finding ways to build bridges, and increase understanding. We seek to show how deeply held theological beliefs can be consistent with mainstream science, including evolution.

  4. Participants do not have to affirm mainstream science personally, however this is not a place to litigate anti-evolution arguments, ID arguments, or arguments about how science should or should not be conducted.

  5. Putting forward a idea, especially one that that attempts to challenge mainstream science may be met with rebuttals, and if this is difficult, do not make these arguments. Instead, seek to understand what you reject.

  6. Casual insinuations of racism, both direct and indirect, are not acceptable, and will not be tolerated. Racism is too serious and real a problem to cry wolf.

I’m sure there will be more to add, and much to adjust. Please give me your thoughts. Hopefully we can solidify our policy here, at least initially, by next week.

It seems we might start with a solid disclaimer for the site.

Please provide comments here (or in the back channel) if you want shape how this forum grows.

So this is tentatively the text that I propose. Please give comment. It will be found in a couple places, for example: https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/t/guidelines-and-disclaimer/5#disclaimer

The host of this forum is Peaceful Science, which is run by Dr. S. Joshua Swamidass, a professor at Washington University in Saint Louis. See his scientific work here: http://swami.wustl.edu/.

Dr. Swamidass affirms mainstream science, including evolutionary science, the common descent, and an old earth. He opposes political action to change science curriculums, and is a frequently and visible critic of Intelligent Design, and scientific creationism. He also advocates presenting scientific findings in a theologically-neutral manner, so as to reduce conflict with religious communities. He places a high value on building bridges, so do not mistake kindness to others as endorsement of their claims.

This is an open forum where everyone polite is welcome to engage with the grand questions of origins. The ideas expressed in this forum cover a wide range of topics, from a wide range of beliefs. Dr. Swamidass, for obvious reasons, does not endorse most things said by others on this forum. He also does not have time to directly refute every statement with which he disagrees.

Nonetheless, there is value in free exchange of ideas, such that legitimate questions can be addressed, and real concerns uncovered. For this reason, there will not be tight restrictions against posting heterodox ideas on this forum, even if they are strongly disputed and disagreed with by the host. If one intends to make a case against mainstream science here, however, do not be offended if others dispute you strongly.

Slight wording change for readability…

More tweaks. Readability stuff…

So, at this point, I think we’ve decided we need a good disclaimer. We will try this and see how it goes from here. Propose edits if you feel it is necessary, especially if there is a way to (1) make things more welcomign and (2) more clearly distinguish my opinion from everyone elses.

As we go forward, I hope friends of the forum (and of me) will quote from this when appropriate to help me out. With that, we may be able to keep this forum going with out clamping down on rules, and keep things free, without restricting rules.

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A lot of this depends on who you want your audience to be. It can’t be everyone, but rather must have a focus. Who is that focus, i.e. your intended audience?

What I read here could be written in almost any private evangelical Christian college in the USA. Is that your intended audience? If you intend to reach beyond evangelicals, in a way different than BioLogos says it is doing, then how are you going to do that? What is your extra-evangelicals strategy at Peaceful Science, Joshua?

Another way to look at it is to ask what composition of YECs do you expect? That is BioLogos’ primary audience. But it needn’t be here. Or, how many monotheists, polytheists and atheists would be the preferable balance for healthy dialogue? If it is mainly a Christian conversation, as you speak of “Christian unity” and “the Church” while an evangelical protestant, then in what way is this or isn’t this just a conversation between evangelicals and other Christians that you seek? In my view it is quite obvious that more mature, coherent and sensible discussions and views about evolution and creation are held by Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians than evangelical Protestants. So it becomes a question of how much you can and will include these views among “the Church” and how much others are needed who can help you.

“We see the Origins Debate as a test of Christian unity” - @swamidass

So, what to do with Muslims, Jews, and Bahai’s from within the Abrahamic religious traditions? Are their views of Adam and Eve, for example, simply to be ignored, left out (aside from the ‘if they come, they can share their views’ obvious invitation)? And what if unity (certainly not of outcome) isn’t the primary aim of the effort for most Christians who are not divided on the issue?

If I were you, I’d stay away from such private evangelical Christian university ‘affirmations’ as #1-4 as being far your forum goals & ‘membership’ policy. It is the ‘stance’ that is most important in how you position this Forum & Blog. It is rather easy to identify upfront certain ‘diversions’ that are all too common coming from those who would disrupt the conversation, rather than adding something positive to it. That might be stated differently than a Disclaimer.

Who is welcome and unwelcome? Who will be protected and featured? What are the lines between the ‘insiders’ & the ‘outsiders’ in your budding community? How to treat people who use real names and those who use pseudonyms or who write anonymously for various reasons? Which starting points (e.g. Forum topics) are allowed and which ones frowned upon? How many diversions and flooding of threads by ‘hyper’ posters will be tolerated? Etc.

What if mentioning ‘mainstream science’ as an abstract standard bearer is a convenient fantasy that is easily debunked by highlighting the diversity of sciences in today’s university, some of which blur science and philosophy, or science and worldview too willingly?

#4 is somewhat strange & confusing. Anti-evolution? Is there none possible of that name, or is at least some of it (anti-evolutionary psychology) acceptable? Litigation?

An offer of assistance with navigation might seem more welcoming than laying down regulation.

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We are ditching those rules. I’m actually gonna just make this topic unlisted, so we can focus on the discliaimer.

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