Two Rooms in the Forum?

That’s not why I said was valuable to you. Perhaps go back and read the reasons why I said it would be valuable.

This is something that @gbrooks9 suggested and I think it is worth consideration by the @moderators

Though to be clear, the forum isn’t really how progress will be made in most cases. That will require academic work.

I can see how people would like this, but since I’m not interested in the conversations of room 1 and not welcome in room 2, I’d vote no.

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I think you’d be welcome in room 2, because you aren’t constantly questioning the the premises of Christianity,

Eddie, if you want to discuss some ideas in a Room 2, you can just request the moderators to keep it that way. We can shunt off-topic Side Comments to a different thread.

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It says room 2 is for those that accept Christianity as true. I don’t. (Ftr, I think it’s perfectly fine to have certain environments for people who wish to engage discussion from within a certain perspective.)

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Then I think you would need a third room – for those of us who are not interested in endless arguments about whether God exists, but are also not particularly interested in theological disputes.

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I’m quite willing to modify the description – I was thinking of doing so, anyway, but decided to keep it shorter and simpler. I could modify it to: "In Room 2 the discussion will focus on various Christian theological approaches to evolution and other scientific issues. Participants need not themselves be Christian, but must be willing to work constructively along the lines of “for someone that thinks Christianity is true, such and such a harmonization shows promise, or has weaknesses, etc.” They must voluntarily refrain from drawing the conversation off with “there’s no evidence that Jesus rose from the dead” or “theocracy is bad” or “Discovery wants to impose Christianity on America” or “what gives you the right to assume that the Bible is trustworthy?” or “I don’t believe God exists, so the proposal that he intervenes in evolution is rather silly to me.” But expressions such as, “Though I’m not a Christian, if I were, I would not think this proposal harmonized well with the plain meaning of Genesis 1, which says…” or “I’m not a believer myself, but if I were, I would be a Barth-type fideist and therefore would reject all arguments from nature to intelligent design” would be perfectly fine, as they would advance the discussion rather than attempt to derail it.

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Seems like that could be a reasonable condition to impose on at least some threads. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons I’m here, to help explain evolutionary science (and explain why ID is not a strong alternative) to those who are uncertain about it for whatever reason. I am certainly not here to discuss the evidence for and against Christianity.

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I agree; you are not one of the people I had in mind, whose constant anti-religious harpings have driven me to my proposal.

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I am with Nathan on this. Isn’t Peaceful Science a place to discuss science? I thought the whole purpose for PS was for Christians and non-Christians to discuss science free of religious dogma and doctrine with scientific experts in all fields of science.

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Just a suggestion. Many forums I have frequented over the years have had subsections dedicated to specific topics. They seem to have worked fine. People can click on the topics they find interesting and read and participate under a ruleset that says off-topic posts will be moved to different categories.

A “science” topic, possibly with sub-categories for biology(with a medicine sub-category), chemistry, physics and/or astronomy, and possibly also mathematics. This is just for reporting on or discussing new and interesting or particular scientific findings, not for discussing their relevance to theism or atheism, nor creationism/intelligent design). Bringing up Jesus or atheism in such topics will get the post moved to “theism and atheism” or some other appropriate category.

A philosophy section for philosophy in general(almost anything goes in philosophy, but typical issues are epistemology, ontology, free will, ethics etc.), a section for “theism and atheism”(explicitly for discussing and debating the possible truth of theism), which might or might not have a sub-category dedicated to “creationism and intelligent design”(some times this was an entire category on it’s own outside of both the science and philosophy sections), another for “Christianity”, “islam”, and so on.

Discussions could be moved into these categories as appropriate.

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The overall idea, of having a few rooms or categories or whatever, devoted to broad topics or goals, seems fine to me.
Risks/costs:

  • Risk of siloing, with community existing as a few separate communities.
  • Risk of unreasonable demands on moderators

Comment on those risks/costs:

  • For me personally, both are already challenges at PS, since posters can and do choose particular topics to discuss and moderators already have a big job after the recent decision to subject some threads to active moderation.
  • The siloing thing is for me a huge risk and would undermine what I take to be the mission of PS. More below.

Benefits:
A bit more organization will help people find information or discussions of interest.
Moderation strategies/policies/norms might get clearer and this might make the job less onerous.

Big big big challenge:
Defining and protecting the mission of the whole thing.

The proposal in the OP is not about Peaceful Science. That proposal seeks to organize the whole community based on religion, and the proposal gives the impression (to me) that theological discussions are a huge goal of the forum. Like at least one other commenter here (@NLENTS), such a forum would be of no interest to me. I think we can use the proposal as a springboard for discussion and redesign, but also to ask ourselves whether the ‘Science’ in Peaceful Science is central to the goal(s) of the forum.

There is no right answer to the question. We might not even really know who ‘we’ are and what ‘we’ want. So my comments above are not about whether the proposal above is ‘right’ or even ‘good’ but whether ‘we’ ever wanted to put time and effort (and emotional resources) into a discussion board about theism and theology.

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It also acts as a form to discuss evidence for Christianity.

@NLENTS

Ahhh… I see the “sticky wicket” here…

Eddie described Room #2 as for Christian believers. And no doubt I have offered that kind of description at least once myself.

What I have intended to mean is that Room #2 is not about challenging Christianity… but including discussions for what Christians can do to embrace science.

Thanks, @swamidass, for sending this thread in the right direction!

With that as the description, that would very much interest me. We non-believers (or non-Christians, more broadly) could be reminded to stick to explaining, discussing, and questioning the evidentiary basis of whatever scientific matters are being discussed, and refrain from challenging the evidentiary basis of religious matters. I could live with that restriction. There are plenty of forums for the latter anyway, and the uniqueness of PS is its work in the former. (Perhaps this underscores a “separate magisteria” approach that @Eddie laments, but I don’t think so. It’s not that religious topics would be forbidden altogether, it would be for scrutinizing and explaining the science side of things, not the religious ones, and those interested in how science can inform religious views can explore that without constantly being attacked for those views.)

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I would suggest that there are two different topics here, at least that’s what it looks like to me.

One topic is about the mission and values of Peaceful Science. @swamidass and his team have been working on setting and clarifying those things, and have made significant changes on the forum to solve some problems but also to better align the forum with those values. They are discussed here:

At one point, Joshua is explicit about the non-religious nature of the core mission of Peaceful Science. That’s here:

The other topic is the goals/nature/values/mission of the forum. It seems to me that some in this conversation are equating the forum with Peaceful Science. It’s a common mistake–for example, people regularly talk about what BioLogos “thinks” about something after they read a comment on the open forum there. I am sure the PS team wants the forum to align with the organization’s mission and values, and again, that seems to have motivated some significant recent changes. But, at least in my opinion, the forum and Peaceful Science should not be equated.

This can help us a lot, I think. It can mean that opinions about the value of theology or the utility of debates about god’s existence need not be judged “off mission” but also cannot be defined as the mission (or even a primary mission) of the forum. First, because the mission of PS is pretty explicitly NOT centered on Christianity or even on religion. Second, because the forum is not itself Peaceful Science. It’s a forum hosted by and aligned with Peaceful Science.

Disclaimer: I don’t speak for @swamidass or in any way for Peaceful Science, and my impressions are my own and may very well misrepresent what the Peaceful Science team intends or wants.

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I think my original proposal of just two “rooms” was too crude to capture what I was driving at. I think the objections above from Nathan and Neil could be accommodated within my general idea, thus:

Section 1: Discussions for People Interested in Debating the Truth, Usefulness, or Goodness of Christianity, or Theism in General, or Religion in General. (Debates and quarrels about the Bible, about the existence of non-existence of God, about whether religious people are on the whole any more moral or socially co-operative than non-religious people, etc., would take place here.)

Section 2: Discussions for People Not Interested in the Discussions of Section 1.

Section 2 would be divided into any number of “Rooms” which might include:

Room A. Proposals Regarding the Synthesis of “Good Science” with Various Religious or Theological Positions. (No subscription to Christian faith required, only openness to the questions as valid intellectual questions, and a promise not to try to turn the discussions into Section 1 Discussions.) In Room A, proposals such as GAE would be discussed, and also other proposals, e.g., those of Robert Russell, Hugh Ross, Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig, etc.

Room B. Discussions of the Relationship between Intelligent Design and Evolutionary Thought. (Deliberately avoiding personal and political speculations about the social, political, or other motivations of ID proponents and evolution defenders, and concentrating on the scientific data, philosophy of science issues, method issues, etc.)

Room C. Discussions of Various Scientific Subjects Impinging upon Origins Questions, Evolution, etc. (These would not need to have any theological focus at all, and usually wouldn’t discuss theology except in passing; they would be more like an information exchange regarding the latest findings and notions scientists have put forward regarding origins or the sciences connected with origins.)

Room D. Discussions about Science in Modern Society. (These could include discussions about anti-science attitudes in culture, where they come from, how they can be constructively addressed; discussions about the place of scientific expertise in the political ordering of modern democratic societies; discussions about the problems with Scientism; etc. People who wanted to complain that Bush or Trump or Republicans etc. were anti-science, or that science research should receive more generous funding, or that Science should not be privileged as the only or even the most important road to Truth, would post their ideas here.)

Room E. Ethical Issues Potentially Connected with Evolution. This could include discussions of real or alleged historical connections of Darwinian ideas with eugenics, with Nazi ideology, etc.; it could also include questions of medical ethics that might arise from an evolutionary perspective, or questions whether close evolutionary relatives of man such as chimpanzees should have legal rights, etc.

I have given only a few examples of the “Rooms” that would be possible. But I think they are enough to show that atheists, agnostics, etc. would be able to participate in discussions in any of the Rooms, subject to their willingness to respect the purpose of discussions in that Room. If ever they found a particular Room too confining, they could go and converse in one of the other Rooms where their specific concerns could be aired more freely and fully.

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Well said. Any proposal for reorganizing the discussion depends on what people perceive the discussion here to be for; i.e., why are the various people that are here, here in the first place?

My understanding was that Peaceful Science was founded, not to deal with “science in general” or “how to have peaceful discussions about anything that has anything to do with science”, but to deal with the friction and acrimony and partisanship that often seems to attend origins questions – questions which inevitably bring in people’s own leanings regarding both religion and science. Joshua’s idea, I took it, was that the discussions don’t have to be so polarized and acrimonious; there are ways of approaching the questions that allow for constructive dialogue, give and take, and arrival at some agreements, even if not total agreement.

The Genealogical Adam proposal is an example of a proposal that allows “good science” to inhabit the same universe as Christian theology. And, given that in the USA, origins questions tend to revolve around the relationship between science and Christian theology, I would expect that any discussion based in America, with a large number of American participants (and the remainder apparently quite familiar with American culture wars, religious vocabulary, etc.), will frequently refer to Christianity. It’s not that other religions are entirely irrelevant to the discussions, but the people who seem most interested in religion/science discussions regarding origins seem to have strong positions regarding Christianity.

If most people here are genuinely interested in the intellectual possibility of a constructive synthesis of science and Christianity regarding origins, even if they aren’t personally Christian, then it should be possible for discussions here to have common goals, even without reorganizing the forum as I suggest.

However, if a number of people here have a natural aversion regarding Christianity (or religion in general, or at least theism in general), to the point where any even hypothetical proposal of synthesis irritates them and gets the finding fault with Christianity, then I would suggest that there aren’t common goals animating everyone here. Hence the idea (floated by George before) of creating sections of the forum where certain kinds of discussions can go on peacefully (peaceful science, remember) without constantly bringing in all the centuries-old arguments about atheism vs. faith, the historical accuracy of the Bible, etc.

My perception here is that a number of people have already pretty firmly made up their mind that Christianity is false, that theism is false, and that religion in general is not a good thing for human beings to engage in, and that these people just can’t restrain themselves from voicing these views, sooner or later, in discussions of any topic brought up here. That’s why I have proposed some kind of limiting structure, so that “peaceful science” discussions (meaning peaceful discussions of origins, among people who are least in principle interested in proposals harmonizing Christianity and science, or theism and science, or faith and science) can take place on a regular basis.

I’m not wedded to any particular set of subtopics or “rooms”; my original suggestion was just to give a rough idea. But Joshua had made a remark that here in this forum, my ideas could be discussed in a more constructive and forward-looking way. (I.e., if I could forget about the flaws of BioLogos, and discuss the subjects in a better way than BioLogos did.) My point was that they can’t – if every time I or a similar poster airs a suggestion, the same tired old discussions that kept BioLogos from ever reaching its proposed synthesis of Bios and Logos (the tired old discussions about whether the Bible is true/revealed, whether miracles can happen, whether Jesus can be proved to have risen from the dead, whether Discovery is controlled by Bible thumpers who want to turn the US into a theocracy, whether God exists, etc.) keep coming up. If there were some way device to allow those with anti-religious animus to “vent” – some separate section of the forum where people whose main interest is not synthesizing the best of science and religion but “debunking” religion could get rid of all their hostility by dumping on religious people and politicians and beliefs – that might clear the air in the rest of the forum for the discussion (even if only “for the sake of argument” in the case of unbelievers in religion) of how science and religious belief regarding origins might be synthesized. I think that such an approach would help Peaceful Science live up to what I took to be Joshua’s original goal – to create a more civilized, positive, and constructive forum for origins discussions that involve faith and science.

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That’s why I come here. I enjoy hearing the different perspectives.

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