Two Rooms in the Forum?

It is understandable that you’d think this but it isn’t true. See here:

We are topically organized around the question: What does it mean to be human? We are launching, initially, with three topic areas: ancestry , art , and artificial intelligence . Questions about human origins are included , but our interests extend far beyond those of origins.

While I’ve personally made several contributions to the conversation on human origins, we are already expanding far beyond merely this. We intentionally chose the term “ancestry” rather than “origins” or “evolution” to include topics such as “race” and “adoption” as first class citizens alongside our work on Adam and Eve.

While a lot of Christians have cared about Adam and Eve, questions of race are equally important to me, and non-Christian members of PS are deeply motivated to see us engage more deeply on this aspect of ancestry. It is no surprise that this is why our first podcast was on philosophy of the mind, and the next two are on race. We are not merely about origins.

This pattern, however, we expect to take into all areas.

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I think you got it right.

I’d just add that I expect that the forum will require a lot more adaptation before it hits its final form. It is very difficult to do a quality forum on a contentious topic. We’ve done amazingly well so far, but I think this is only a small fraction of what it could be, and the forum still ends up sabotaging our larger goals.

Also, the forum is a community, and many of us even became friends here and have ownership in what is happening here.

For both those two reasons, this conversation is important. I’m listening closely, and this conversations and others like it will certainly influence the next iteration. If we make missteps, please give us the benefit of the doubt. My aim is honestly to serve you in our shared goals and mission.

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When I first joined PeaceFul Science, I specifically asked @swamidass whether this was a place for discussions about theology (as it relates to science). Joshua replied that it was.

Am i to understand that has changed?

As a Christian, I am interested in the pure science. However I’m even more interested in the intersection of science & theology as @Eddie is describing.

The problem as I see it, is any discussion of science and faith quickly devolves to a discussion of whether faith is valid (or similar themes). Many of the most prolific posters seem to enjoy pulling all theology related threads in this direction, making it essentially impossible to good discussion of theology and science.

I would add my voice to those suggesting a room where this kind of discussion can exist without these threads always disappearing down the same rabbit hole.

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That’s true from the text you quoted, but there is undoubtedly a larger de facto religious context to Peaceful Science, as seen in the types of people that it brings to its fold (not just the forum) and the personal characteristics and situation of its founder, Josh. There are people who are primarily interested in the science (who might be at home in a venue like the AAAS, NCSE, or other regular public outreach scientific organizations), but also many who are interested in the intersection between science and theology.

I agree, and I hope that more serious Christians interested in the theological questions would post more. However, I think this situation is mostly the result of aggressive atheists and agnostics (or in general, people uninterested in theology) being over-represented among the most prolific and dedicated posters on the forum. This may inadvertently result in a sort of self-censorship effect: people interested in theology are reluctant to spend too much time here discussing theology because the responses will be mostly hostile or skeptical. This leads to a vicious circle.

What is needed is a critical mass of like-minded people who actually want to spend time on these discussions.

“That’s true from the text you quoted” is a baffling response to me. I assumed that my statement might be true because it’s accurate.

There is no question about the place of religion in PS, in its topics of focus, and in Joshua. I would think that was obviously not my point.

What is interesting and valuable about PS to me is the focus on “what it means to be human.” The comparison to those other organizations is weird, and maybe it’s just me, but this seems a backpedaling on what we have already discussed in this thread.

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Thanks for clarifying, Joshua. So you are aiming for a wider discussion than just origins. I get this now. At the same time, my original problem remains. You grant that the science/theology relationship on subjects of origins is still a topic of great interest to many here. And whenever we do discuss science/theology/origins here, the question: “Would scenario X be a possible harmonization of the truths of theology and the truths of science?” seems almost always to turn into: “Why should anyone accept anything theology says, anyway? And in addition to being intellectually unsupported, religion is bad for society.”

As Daniel says in another post, I think this is a function of the particular set of posters we have here. And it’s not unique to PS. Discussions took the same turn on BioLogos. It might start out with an atheist supporting a TE against a creationist regarding the science of evolution, but very often it ended up in some form of “religion vs. science”, with the atheist bashing Christianity in particular or religion in general. So the question is: how to prevent every discussion of the relation between God and evolution, or between theology and science, from getting sucked into that vortex. It seems to me that some refinement of the ideas George and I have put out would solve the problem, and in a way that would not exclude any atheist or agnostic from participating in any discussions. I leave to to greater minds here to fine-tune the suggestion and turn it into something practical.

Thanks for listening.

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What evidence? :laughing:

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No Eddie, that simply isn’t true. Rarely if ever do discussions around origins turn to those topics. In my experience they almost always devolve into the same few people declaring “X is evidence for design” and “can’t be explained by chance”, and the rest of us asking for the (still absent) design model that predicted X. In fact that’s almost exclusively what they’re about.

Sorry but this is simply not true Eddie.

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@Eddie

I think you are proposing way too many rooms.

Some of these topics are attempts to put the entire burden of Evolutionary theory on Joshua’s shoulders…

When all we really need to do is avoid the futile debates over epistemology, or on the irrelevance of Evolution-without-God, and explore how Christians can have their Miraculous Creation AND embrace mainstream science!

George, read what I wrote again. Those are examples. I’m not actually proposing any particular number of rooms. I was merely trying to show that any question that anyone might have, could be explored someplace on the site without subjecting people like you and me to constant off-topic anti-theistic excursions by atheists. I don’t care how many rooms there are or how the topics are divided.

That wasn’t my intention at all, and I have no idea why you would think that was what I meant.

How and whether – let’s keep questions open, rather than assume conclusions before a discussion has even started!

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@Eddie,

Well, I am certainly on-board with what you write above!!!

I do want to make sure that we don’t set too high a standard for our atheist scientists; all I expect from them is to not denigrate the mindset of people who believe in a God.

And I want to make sure it is clear to YECs and I.D. supporters that Christians can believe in a creator God without thinking we automatically endorse creation as something that Science can prove!

See how I re-stated my position (yet again) while endorsing your viewpoint?

Glad you now understand me, George.

As for whether “science” can “prove” creation or God, that depends on what each of those terms mean. I certainly think that science has uncovered relationships in nature that strongly smell of design, but if one stops short of calling this “scientific proof of God”, I have no objection. In any case, I’ve never argued the positive assertion that Christians, to be orthodox, must believe that science has established design; I’ve only denied the assertion of many TE/ECs that God could not have or at least would not have left evidence for design in nature. My position is that God may have left evidence for design in nature, and there’s nothing the slightest bit unorthodox or un-Christian in looking for or at such evidence, where it exists or may exist.

@Eddie,

I think the epistemology of your hope that God “… may have left evidence…” is too easy to be misinterpreted, even by other hopeful scientists. But as long as threads on this topic are in a separate room, I’m all for it.

If the objective is civility, it seems to me that in the recent past, the more theological topics have been the quickest to devolve into inflammatory bickering.

I think this would less often be the case if there were better separation of topics. I suspect that for some of the topics George and I have suggested (e.g., “Exploring Christian Options Regarding Evolution”) many if not most of the atheists who seem most prone to go on the attack (provoking counter-attack from Christians, creationists, ID folks, etc.) would probably voluntarily absent themselves from the discussions, focusing more on topics such as evidence for evolution, weaknesses of ID theory, etc. It’s the constant interjection of edgy critiques of religion that raises the temperature – or at least, that is one of the main causes. But I’ve already laid out my view, so I won’t say more.

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@Eddie,

Nice posting. Very sensible. I agree completely.