Question about forum rules.

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Bat-mite

Rocketeer in MD
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I intend this as a legitimate question about the forum rules where religion is concerned. (I didn't want to further hijack the Col. Nance thread.)

I realize that some of you will disagree with me vehemently, and I am not seeking your ire. I do not want to start a debate, I simply want a rules clarification from a moderator. I take no responsibility for follow-up posts made by other people that do not serve only to clarify the rules.

That being said, I would like to posit that atheism is a religion, and that it should be covered by the same prohibitions as other religious discussion. My case is as follows:
  1. If there is a God, he exists outside of time and space.
  2. Anything that exists outside of time and space is undetectable by the scientific method.
  3. Anything that is undetectable by the scientific method cannot be proven not to exist.
  4. A truly objective, scientific evaluation of the possibility of the existence of God must arrive at agnosticism; i.e., "we don't know."
  5. Therefore, to be an atheist is to believe by faith in the unprovable notion that there is no God, and thus atheism is a religion.
It thus seems to me that the rules of the forum should treat any post that is clearly atheistic as a violation against the rules of discussing a religion.

If I am wrong, I would like for a moderator to explain the fallacy of my logic. Otherwise, I would like to know that any complaints I make about atheistic posts will be acted upon by the moderators.

Thank you.
 
I'm not a moderator, but sometimes I try to moderate with absurdity. That being said:

Therefore, to be an atheist is to believe by faith in the unprovable notion that there is no God, and thus atheism is a religion.

I would disagree with this in that a such thing as a "gnostic atheist" exists- that they are an atheist, and feel that they have proof that God doesn't exist. Whether or not you buy that proof is a different question, but to them, it's not a question of "belief or unbelief" as much as "I know that God doesn't exist".

With that being said, pretty much any atheist related point on the forum is usually in response to some sort of faith related point. I would argue that atheism isn't a religion, but at least on this forum, only comes out when there is a religious discussion ongoing.

note- I would not consider myself an atheist, although I would probably side with them on 99% of "religious" based arguments.
 
I would like to know that any complaints I make about atheistic posts will be acted upon by the moderators.

Thank you.

An interesting question.

I suppose my answer will come off sounding flippant or even a bit agnostic, but... I don't know.

As a general rule, subject that are prohibited on the forum, such as politics and religion, are so because they meet one, or both, of two conditions. 1) they promote antagonism between members and ultimately create ill will, and result in personal attacks, poor behavior, and locked threads or 2) they so threaten many of the items listed in number 1) that the moderators and administrators are compelled to log on more often and spend a great deal of their time babysitting one or two threads. Discussions of politics and religion tend to act as lightning rods for that sort of behavior so rather than recruiting several dozen more moderators and spending hours and hours each day trying to police those subjects, its just easier to prohibit them and prevent all the hard feelings, unpleasantness, infractions, and bans before they have a chance to start.

That said, I don't recall ever seeing an atheist post a thread that got "preachy" and tried to evangelize unbelievers to their point of view. I have occasionally seen an opinion stated, but that's about it. If such a thing has happened, I am unaware of it, and if it has happened, I don't think it has ever acted as a lightning rod the way that the other noted subjects have.

So my answer is... maybe. If someone were to get preachy or evangelistic about atheism, and if the conversation was heated and did not remain civil, then perhaps it would be treated the same way that the others would be because it was meeting the same conditions.

So again, there is is some latitude for mods and admins to make a judgement call.
 
Bat-mite, I agree with your first three steps. I think you define agnosticism correctly. As Huxley said (paraphrased) : I can't know, and neither can you.

But I disagree with your next two steps. First, be careful of conflating 'belief' and 'faith', or religiosity. I believe lots of things. Like that there are 6.022x10^23 molecules in a mole. I could measure it myself - but I haven't. I believe others have, and have worked out any errors to some arbitrary degree of precision.

Secondly, speaking for myself, I believe that there is nothing observed in the natural world that requires a god. So God is an unnecessary theory. And I choose the simpler theory, Occam's Rule being generally preferred. I think that's very different from a spiritual faith in the absence of the Divine. It also flips the rules of debate around. The believer is making the claim, not me (from my perspective).

I think Peartree had the core of it. It's rarely simple belief that's a problem. It's public evangelism in a manner that leads to discord. I have met faithful who feel that my rejection of their evangelism is somehow counter-evangelism. But I've never understood it.
 
Thanks for the civil discussion, guys!

Here is the kind of thing that frustrates me. First of all, I don't think I have ever evangelized on these forums. I am 99% sure that I have not. But what I have done is clearly state my opinion on certain things, and oftentimes my opinion is contrary to the popular 21st century worldview.

So, here is an example. If someone started a thread stating that evolution had proven some such thing or other, and I followed up by saying, "I don't think so. I don't believe in evolution, I believe that God created us, and that creationism explains the phenomenon equally well," then would I get accused of turning the thread "religious?" In my opinion, the thread was already "religious," and I simply disagreed.
 
That being said, I would like to posit that atheism is a religion, and that it should be covered by the same prohibitions as other religious discussion.

By that logic, then are you claiming SCIENCE is a "religion"?

That you do not "believe in science"?

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I think that your example is unlikely in this forum, though it's possible that someone might refer to a new article in the science media, or perhaps discuss airfoil design using naturally occurring flight forms as models.

If everyone could leave it at the initial statements, I personally don't think it would/should flag a thread for moderation.

But if the OP couldn't bring herself to ignore your reply, and you (or others on your behalf) insisted on arguing the underlying schism on the spot, then I think the -argument- would (quite rightly) get shut down.

You may want to argue that descent with modification by natural selection is a theological hypothesis, but I'm not biting.

I don't believe the Bernoulli Principle is what holds airplanes up. That doesn't make airplane design religious to me.
 
By that logic, then are you claiming SCIENCE is a "religion"?

I think that is exactly the claim, whether or not Bat-mite is conscious of making it (although it sounds like he is).

I'm certainly not going to tell anyone what to believe, but I would object to equating evidence-based reasoning with faith-based reasoning. And this is what would commonly start the downward spiral of the discussion.
 
  1. If there is a God, he exists outside of time and space.

You need to prove this first otherwise your other points collapse immediately.

"My religion defines God as being outside of time and space" is not proof.
 
By that logic, then are you claiming SCIENCE is a "religion"?

No. Science deals with measurable, observable phenomena. When those measurable, observable phenomena lead people to draw metaphysical conclusion, for instance that there is or is not a God, then it has strayed from science and moved into philosophy.

As an example, there was a Newsweek article this week with the title, "Can Science Prove God Doesn't Exist? Vastness of Space Suggests There Is No Almighty Creator." There is some science mentioned in the article: size of the universe, size of the Milky Way, distance between Earth and the sun. But every single one of their "conclusions" is a philosophical discussion. The whole argument is a straw man attack. "If there were a God, he would have created the universe differently from what we observe. Therefore, there is no God."

Philosophers and theologians may argue over how God would have created the universe, but scientists can only observe and measure the universe and report the results. I could just as easily say, "If I were going to write a play, I would give it a happy ending. Romeo and Juliet doesn't have a happy ending; therefore, Shakespeare never existed."

Nothing about science can prove or disprove the existence of God based on the size of the universe. That is a philosophical debate.
 
You need to prove this first otherwise your other points collapse immediately.

"My religion defines God as being outside of time and space" is not proof.

No. I am not offering proof that God exists. I am claiming that God exists outside of time and space, and arguing that one cannot prove that he does not. I also admit whole-heartedly that I cannot prove that he does. I admit that faith is required to accept the existence of God. But faith is also required to deny the existence of God. Therefore, a true scientist can only be an agnostic, not an atheist.
 
One needs to understand the definition of religion which is as follows: the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. Atheists just don't go there, period.
 
As far as faith is concerned, as an atheist I have faith in getting in my car and driving from point (A) to point (B) without issue. No different on an airplane, that too takes faith. The difference is that I am placing faith in conditions that ALREADY have a known outcome from multiple, prior interactions which are repeatable. There ARE known perimeters already in place to give me an accurate indicator of the outcome. Another issue is of course providing evidence that something does not exist if it in fact does not. Prove to me Zeus or Heredites does not exist. To have faith in these things I call blind faith which is faith without evidence.
 
I think that if you insist on the position that the philosophy of strict naturalism and the system of discerning fundamental principles and assorted data, hypotheses and theories that we collectively call 'science' is a religion because it has an underlying philosophy, that you hold a minority view.

And I will reword my original statement. I believe nothing supernatural exists. And also that that belief is the simplest possible.

If you make claims that require the supernatural, then we will never debate in any satisfactory manner.
 
I think that if you insist on the position that the philosophy of strict naturalism and the system of discerning fundamental principles and assorted data, hypotheses and theories that we collectively call 'science' is a religion because it has an underlying philosophy, that you hold a minority view.

And I will reword my original statement. I believe nothing supernatural exists. And also that that belief is the simplest possible.

If you make claims that require the supernatural, then we will never debate in any satisfactory manner.

And I believe it is quite fine for us to disagree, as we are doing now, and have a rational discussion about it. I am, as originally stated, seeking to understand what the position of moderation is for the forum. I guess my basic question is this: if two posters vehemently disagree on a matter of philosophy in a thread, is the person who argues for the existence of God automatically wrong? And better yet, could we be allowed to disagree without automatically banning a certain type of opinion? And best yet, could we moderate behavior as opposed to topics?
 
Here is something else, I do believe in the distinct possibility there was once a Jewish carpenter who spoke to the masses and was killed for it. I see NOTHING out of the ordinary with this as we can witness all three conditions repetitively. I also believe in the distinct possibility that there was once a man who designed, built and delivered toys to the local villages boys and girls. I slam the door shut when one mentions flying reindeer, rising from the dead only to raise more of the dead, elves, talking serpents, delivering toys worldwide in only 24 hours and talking burning bushes and then some.
People just LOVE to embellish.
 
Here is something else, I do believe in the distinct possibility there was once a Jewish carpenter who spoke to the masses and was killed for it. I see NOTHING out of the ordinary with this as we can witness all three conditions repetitively. I also believe in the distinct possibility that there was once a man who designed, built and delivered toys to the local villages boys and girls. I slam the door shut when one mentions flying reindeer, rising from the dead only to raise more of the dead, elves, talking serpents, delivering toys worldwide in only 24 hours and talking burning bushes and then some.
People just LOVE to embellish.

Sorry, but this is not relevant to the topic of what is permissible under forum rules.
 
have a rational discussion about it.

The difference here, is that for the most part, we're discussing beliefs (or lack thereof) in an abstract manner. The issue comes out when any topics arise that involve "my beliefs tell me I should act in a certain way towards others". As I think everyone can agree, the issue is when "the other side" uses their opinion as a way to cause things like public policy changes that affect all people.

With all that being said, I would like to state that I know that Chicago style deep dish is the best kind of pizza out there. With sausage and mushrooms.
 
And I believe it is quite fine for us to disagree, as we are doing now, and have a rational discussion about it. I am, as originally stated, seeking to understand what the position of moderation is for the forum. I guess my basic question is this: if two posters vehemently disagree on a matter of philosophy in a thread, is the person who argues for the existence of God automatically wrong? And better yet, could we be allowed to disagree without automatically banning a certain type of opinion? And best yet, could we moderate behavior as opposed to topics?

I would also argue for moderation on behavior rather than content (or even merit) - aside from the content specifically forbidden due to legal concerns (and that have closed forums).

I think you'll have much better luck arguing your belief in God, and the sufficiency of special creation as a theory (which are pretty inarguable, being your beliefs) than try to argue that descent with modification by natural selection is a religious tenant, or that creationism is a science. I think you'll find that most people will counter that you've jumbled definitions in order to make those arguments, and will shout you down.
 
What frustrates me to no end when religion and politics come up on this forum is that there is a subgroup of people for whom the conversation goes "You don't believe what I believe. Therefore what you believe doesn't matter." It is particularly galling when the person has swooped into a discussion that otherwise had no religious/political content and then made it political or religious.

I don't demand that you believe what I believe. I'm a vegetarian, but you can go right on enjoying bacon as long as you don't try to slip it into my sandwich. People asking others for prayers for family members doesn't bother me. But don't come in and tell me that when science and the Bible conflict, I should believe the Bible because you do. You're welcome to see the Bible as 100% factual, and I should be welcome to see it as a story that has some very good advice on how to live a good and ethical life, but is allegorical or outdated in many places.
 
Sorry, but this is not relevant to the topic of what is permissible under forum rules.

You already brought up: "That being said, I would like to posit that atheism is a religion, and that it should be covered by the same prohibitions as other religious discussion. My case is as follows:
If there is a God, he exists outside of time and space.
Anything that exists outside of time and space is undetectable by the scientific method.
Anything that is undetectable by the scientific method cannot be proven not to exist.
A truly objective, scientific evaluation of the possibility of the existence of God must arrive at agnosticism; i.e., "we don't know."
Therefore, to be an atheist is to believe by faith in the unprovable notion that there is no God, and thus atheism is a religion."

Bringing up gods existing here or there I believe is also not relevant to the topic of what is permissible. Nor is calling atheism some sort of religion which actually ignore the very definition.
 
I really don't even want to argue. I'm just trying to figure out how much of myself I need to hide from the public on the forums, and where the leeway is, and what the definitions are. I honestly believe that we should be able to have rational discussions, if and when the opportunity occurs, and that anyone who chooses to use personal attacks and hate language should face the consequences, not based on the content, but based on the behavior.

Perhaps the rules should change to say that personal attacks based on a discussion of religion or politics is forbidden, as opposed to saying that discussion of religion or politics is forbidden.

For example, if I posted, "God blessed me with a wonderful Christmas," I have probably violated forum rules; yet, I have attacked no one, I have evangelized no one, I have proselytized no one, and I have told no one what he or she should believe about God or Christmas. So what's the problem?
 
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I would also argue for moderation on behavior rather than content (or even merit) - aside from the content specifically forbidden due to legal concerns (and that have closed forums).


In an ideal world, I would agree. The reason that certain *topics* are prohibited, is that long experience has proven (ie. demonstrably repeated phenomena) that those topics simply do not remain civil and as such, require an inordinate amount of attention on the part of the mods/admins until such time they come off the rails and get locked. We all volunteer here. We have jobs, families, lives, etc. We just don't have the time to constantly oversee controversial threads although, occasionally, they might be allowed as long as they remain civil. That said, now you've encountered another variable in the area of "discretion". If a conversation has been going on but seems to be headed south, but has not yet gone off the rails completely, and all the mods are on the way out of town, or some are away on business/vacation, and no one will be available to take action on short notice, then odds are good that we won't wait as long to lock a thread as we might if we had full-time paid moderators. These sorts of threads are really time consuming (including this one) and sometimes, it's simply that no one has the time.
 
For me personally I simply choose NOT to go out of my way and START a political or religious discussion, until someone else does who insists on skirting around the rules. I don't say things like "Godless America" even if it's permissible under the same rules allowing "God Bless America". It's simply not necessary. What's wrong with that?
 
For example, if I posted, "God blessed me with a wonderful Christmas," I have probably violated forum rules; yet, I have attacked no one, I have evangelized no one, I have proselytized no one, and I have told no one what he or she should believe about God or Christmas. So what's the problem?

Has a statement like that ever triggered moderation? I can't think of any examples.
 
Has a statement like that ever triggered moderation? I can't think of any examples.

Probably not. I'm just trying to walk the line, but the line is blurry. And it looks like it will remain blurry. I guess I don't have anything else to add. Thanks, all.
 
The line only becomes blurry when you dance on it. Stay far away and no problem.

Staying that far away would require me to cease being who I am. I cannot compartmentalize "religion" from the "rest of life." For me, there is no such compartment.
 
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