To the Atheists who Join our Discussions


(George Brooks) #1

As we know, many of our postings are splashed with the discussions and views of Atheists … people who are very keen on Evolution … but for some reason think it is important to come to BioLogos boards (notoriously run by CHRISTIANS!) … so that they can dispute, of all things, God…

It’s like moving to Rome so that you can complain about the Fish on Fridays…

The meme I just bumped into says it well, I think … but rather than the word “Christianity” … the meme works just as well if it says “. . . It is not the task of Theists to Provide Easy Answers …”


(Henry Stoddard) #2

I believe they should know that they are entering a Christian Forum of science. Others are able to participate; however, these individuals should not come to attempt to make people here non-theists. That is how I feel, and I am sure others feel that way too. If a non-theist does join, he or she should have respect for believers’ views. Also, we do not have the answers to everything since we are not “God.” I like what George has posted here. Good job.


#3

I haven’t been on these forums for very long, but this is something that has puzzled me. I am not sure what the appeal is for people who stridently and actively don’t believe (and seem to hold significant contempt for those who do). I don’t see the benefit. I am happy to talk to anyone, but I usually don’t come on these boards to argue about whether God exists. I come here to develop my knowledge of where faith and science “intersect.”

I think the respect issue could be a factor in whether this forum grows in thoughtful people or devolves like so many others.

Just my 2 cents.


#4

Look at the contempt some believers here have for other believers! So the contempt of atheists should hardly be a surprise.


(George Brooks) #5

I completely agree with you. It’s exceptionally confusing to have to offer respectful discussion of Atheist positions when we have enough trouble working things out between the two (or more!) camps of Christianity!


(Mervin Bitikofer) #6

Well, regarding the one recently participating atheist that made himself known … I haven’t seen him here recently. Did he get chased away?

Be careful what you wish for. Your wishes, whether commendable or not may have already been granted. It is true that this is a Christian site run by Christians. It is also true that we are to be salt and light to the world. I think we are missing something valuable if atheists are made to feel unwelcome in any way more than just the inevitable disagreement and respectful argumentation.


#7

Just to clarify my above point in light of Mervin’s good point. This is an open forum, and everyone is welcome. I was specifically addressing non-believers who come into discussions on a Christian board, and write post after post in a rude and disrespectful manner. I have seen this here, and it has puzzled me because this seems like an odd place to go to pick a fight, so to speak:-)

A thoughtful and curious non-believer adds to the discussion and encourages us to tighten our own beliefs and thought processes. I welcome that type of interaction. I would think, though, that someone who feels open and significant derision for faith would find other, more appropriate places to vent it.

I got the impression that we were talking more about where the line is between constructive disagreement and vitriol.


(Christy Hemphill) #8

I think many of the atheists who stick around for a while are looking for friendly conversation and intellectual stimulation the same as anyone else here. We do want this to be a place where no one is directly attacked or ridiculed for their beliefs. People who get too many warnings for failing to adhere to forum guidelines for gracious dialogue (atheist or Christians) are given an enforced time out for a while. Whether or not they come back again is up to them. I can see how some people might find it insulting and find other places to spend their time, but we have to enforce the standards somehow.


(Henry Stoddard) #9

Perhaps what I said was a bit strong. That was not my intention. If you wish to remove it, I can understand. Sometimes written language is not as clear as the spoken word. You are correct. I wish to thank you for the reminder.


(Christy Hemphill) #10

@Henry

I actually agreed with you. :grinning:

It was accidental that I replied to you, I was directing it to the whole conversation, so it wasn’t meant as a personal reprimand at all. It is a Christian forum. Atheists are welcome to come hang out, but it is going to be on our terms, not a free for all. @Mervin_Bitikofer was wondering why some people have been absent and I was just trying to explain that we do communicate with people privately about their interactions and we do tell people to take a break from time to time if they are repeatedly flagged or if we have to delete too many inappropriate or inflammatory posts.


(Henry Stoddard) #11

I wish to thank you, Christy. Charles AKA Henry :wink:


(sy_garte) #12

I am happy to see Christy’s post about privately monitoring and taking action when anyone steps outside of the proper way to participate in this forum. As for atheists, the silver lining is that Biologos has become quite well known to followers of militant atheists like Jerry Coyne, PZ Myers and Larry Moran. They love to talk about the “creationists” at Biologos, and in fact seem quite disturbed that scientifically literate and intelligent people actually believe in a “Sky Daddy”. It sort of disrupts their anti theistic agenda.

Sometime we will get a commenter here who is a devotee of one of those blogs, and who will try to “take on the creationists” They generally trot out the same old stuff about evil and God, and irrational lack of evidence and so on. They dont stay long. Others seem genuinely interested in how real scientists (of which there are probably more here than on the atheist sites) can deal with what they see as contradictory world views. I think it is useful to discuss things with them, and not always a waste of time. I do agree with Professormom that some comments are simply not worth replying to, and with Beaglelady that these are not restricted to strident atheists.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #13

I do affirm your original concern, @Professormom. I do feel protective of this site as a special place that is probably more welcoming of a greater variety of viewpoints than most. I’ve also been frustrated when atheists repeatedly try to force presuppositions that are obviously going to be non-starters on a thread that is primarily Christian … e.g. that God must be a scientifically verifiable entity within this universe … or that science is the only valid key to any useful or true thought, etc. Rehashing all that may be of value at times, but it is frustrating if somebody’s approach is always locked down to those basics and can never even imaginatively venture beyond them. Anecdotally here at least, it seems to me that thinking Christians on the whole do a better job of “entering the atheistic worldview” along with them than they have been able to do with religious thought — probably because we all get steeped in materialist worldviews a lot more than materialists get steeped in any mature Christian thought given our present cultural milieu.


#14

I think it’s wonderful that atheists have a forum they can visit where they are reminded that Ken Ham, Ray Comfort, Kent Hovind, Chuck Missler, and other “interesting” ministry leaders do not speak for all Christians.

And unlike the websites run by those ministries, there is no fear of informative posts and no need for 24/7 censorship. Anyone who visits the Facebook pages of the best known Young Earth Creationist ministry leaders will be amazed at how quickly a comment which is not 100% paying-homage to the “YEC celebrity” is purged and the commenter banned. A couple of years ago on the old Bible.and.Science.Forum email newsletter we had a friendly contest entitled “Survival of the Fittest” where for a given set of four experimental comments posted to various “creation science” ministry staff Facebook pages, readers would estimate how many of the four comments averaged a survival time of more than one hour.

We had done the posting-to-YEC-websites experiment several months before and were playing around with interesting ways of presenting the results to our constituents. We posted each of the three sets of four comments so that our readers would have several days within which they could vote and submit their estimates on that particular set. Then on April Fool’s Day [Sorry, we hadn’t deliberately planned it that way. Honest.] we posted the “survival stats” for each comment and the readers with the very best “scores”. Most importantly, we posted the “punchline” of the entire experiment: To our surprise, *NOT EVEN ONE of the twelve comments managed to survive for an average of sixty minutes!

These weren’t rancorous comments. They weren’t even necessarily anti-YEC. They included comments like these:

(1) “I was frustrated that Mr. ____'s article was so critical of the atheist scientist’s blog but didn’t provide a clickable link so that I could easily read it and understand what Mr. _____ was talking about. Why not provide clickable links?”

(2) “I looked up the definition of Uniformitarianism online and I didn’t see how Mr._____'s definition fits within the meaning of the term as used by modern day geologists. Why such a radical difference?”

(3) “Isn’t ‘one animal turning into another kind of animal’ a straw man definition of evolution? I took two semesters of biology when I was in college and that doesn’t fit at all the definition we were taught. So I’m confused. Can you explain the difference?”

(4) "The article says that Uniformitarianism is hopelessly flawed. Yet almost all of the 101 Evidences for a Young Earth extrapolate into the past the present day observed rate of some process. So those are Uniformitarian arguments So how can I know when Uniformitarian arguments are valid and when they are invalid? Can you please explain the difference?

I wish I had the list at hand because those four that I can still remember do not capture the wide variety of 12 comments we used in the experiment. Yet, we were all surprised at just how extreme was the fear and vigilance behind the rapid censorship on YEC webpages. We wondered how many readers of the deleted comments (and the banned posters) were thinking, “That’s a good question. I’m curious to learn the answer to that as well.” Were most readers aware of their censorship? Were many of them curious as to why the comments were considered so dangerous?

Likewise, I’ve wondered if atheists who are accustomed to such Young Earth Creationist websites visit Biologos and are amazed at the contrast. To what do they attribute any such differences? Do they consider a non-censorious atmosphere a strange aberration? Or do they realize that millions of Christians reject the science-denialism of so many Young Earth Creationist ministries?

I don’t know.


(Albert Leo) #15

And not just atheists. There are also ‘maverick’ Christians like me. I cannot but wonder what the result would have been had BioLogos Forum been available to the two sides of the Augustine-Pelagius debate. I would have defended the Pelagian heresy that humans do NOT enter this world as enemies of God.
Al Leo


(Christy Hemphill) #16

Well, it helps when no one in the discussion has the power to ex-communicate anyone else. And as long as you’re a gracious heretic, Brad won’t even ban you.


(David Hume (nom de plume)) #17

I am an atheist (and former Christian) who visits for a combination of reasons. My chief reason is to see how Biologos is holding up, because I believe its success is important for science in the US. The pervasiveness of anti-scientific sentiments among Christians in the US is something that worries me. BL is one of a few reasonably competent attempts to combat this. I am opposed to Christianity but very much in favour of BL’s mission.

I sometimes find intelligent conversation here, sometimes even friendly intelligent conversation. But that’s not usually what I see, and that’s what the pub is for. Neither there nor here do I attempt to convert (or de-convert) people.


(Christy Hemphill) #18

You must have better pubs than we do. :beers:


(David Hume (nom de plume)) #19

Aye friend, of that I am sure. But keep looking! You might find just the right place.


(Albert Leo) #20

Am I the only one who sees this as an oxymoron?
Al Leo