Author Topic: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?  (Read 2144 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Pounamu

  • Undergraduate
  • ***
  • Posts: 178
  • Darwins +5/-0
  • Gender: Male
  • formerly appeared as "Cadillac"
What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« on: November 10, 2011, 07:15:03 AM »
Hi everyone,

I am a member of this forum since December, 2009 and there is one question that keeps exciting me since: Does this forum have a main purpose?

Judging by the WWGHA website, it seams that the main goal is to help christians abandon their irrational beliefs.

However, as far as I understand, the author of the book in WWGHA website doesn't log in this forum very often, and, at present, few members care about what he has written. Thus, if I want to understand what the main purpose of this forum is, I should rather trust the current active forum members.

I remember once Screwtape told me that this forum is for atheists to have a community and “it allows them an outlet where they can know they are not alone”.

Others think that it is very important that the members have fun here. After all this forum is made for them – the members, and if it doesn't make them happier, then what is the point of it?

All in all, it seems that the WWGHA forum is a multi-purpose enterprise, which is not surprising at all, because most internet forums are this way. Is our forum multi-purpose, too, or am I mistaken? If it really is, do you think we should set out a main objective?


Piki ake, piki ake ki te ara poutama, ki nga taumatatanga e wairua, hinengaro, tinana!

Offline jetson

  • Administrator
  • *******
  • Posts: 7301
  • Darwins +170/-6
  • Gender: Male
  • Meet George Jetson!
    • Jet Blog
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2011, 07:27:50 AM »
I think the original intent is to get people thinking.  But the forum itself has morphed into a venue for all sorts of discussions, mainly around religion, I suppose, but definitely diverse.

I'm not sure if a main objective is necessary, as I believe it is to ask the question, why won't god heal amputees.  That alone is enough to spark the conversation, in my opinion. And if we can anchor the forum on that element, it is enough to challenge even the Pope (not that the Pope is special, mind you).

Glad to see you posting!

Offline velkyn

  • Laureate
  • *********
  • Posts: 15420
  • Darwins +169/-6
  • Gender: Female
  • You're wearing the juice, aren't you?"
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2011, 10:44:13 AM »
what would be the purpose or use of a "main objective"?
"There is no use in arguing with a man who can multiply anything by the square root of minus 1" - Pirates of Venus, ERB

http://clubschadenfreude.wordpress.com/

Offline Historicity

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 2350
  • Darwins +80/-2
  • Gender: Male
  • (Rama, avatar of Vishnu)
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2011, 11:01:47 AM »
To find out why the Gods will not heal amputees and then build better temples, sing more pleasing hymns, make better supplications and more satisfactory sacrifices.

Offline Historicity

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 2350
  • Darwins +80/-2
  • Gender: Male
  • (Rama, avatar of Vishnu)
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2011, 11:23:14 AM »
There was a minor league sports team -- hockey, I think -- who were taken over by new management.  There was a fan club, self-organized, which made a great to-do about the logo.

New management changed the logo to some trendy modernist doo-dad with some babble about a new start.  The fan club was angry.  A spokesman for management got all passive-aggressive about the property rights of the management and their artistic freedoms!  (Damn com-symp fans.)

The editorial I read pointed out that sports franchises do belong to the fans tho they do not have legal rights. 

I would add for instance how the Cleveland Browns introduced a pixie character called a brownie as a logo.  One season the backfield players started psyching themselves up before a play by barking like dogs.  It was a habit that would inevitably go away as the roster changed over the years.  But the fans -- particularly the bleachers -- picked it up with all sorts of canine stuff and the Browns became the Dawgs and the stadium became the Dawg Pound.  The Browns organization was wise enough to go with the flow. 

The point is that to some extent the fans make this site what it is by gentle nudges.  Not gentle nudges like Dave Dave's ranting.  He said we all have to sacrifice our friendships, promotions, families by coming out hard and yelling at everyone we know.  Why?  Because (and this makes me weep[1]) there might be a 14 year old boy out there who would have heard of this and it would have given him an extra iota of encouragement to come out to his parents.  We all have our own lives and we are not part of an army.  ("Commands come in 2 parts: A preparatory and a finish, such as 'Atten...tion!' or 'At...ease'.  The position of attention is alert but relaxed.  This is not the British army.  The correct position of the hand is at your side with the thumb lightly touching the palm.")  So Dave Dave left.


 1. Sarcasm

Offline Pounamu

  • Undergraduate
  • ***
  • Posts: 178
  • Darwins +5/-0
  • Gender: Male
  • formerly appeared as "Cadillac"
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2011, 03:41:37 AM »
Historicity, I'm glad you made the point about the fans and the management! I was planning to make the same point somewhere in the course of the discussion, but most definitely, I wouldn't be able to express it as well as you did.

The only thing common between me and Dave Dave is that we both take some time to find out how rational thinkers could become more effective in communicating their ideas to theists. Similarities end here. Well, maybe, I'm a bit more goal-driven than many of the forum members, but nothing like the military mind you're talking about.

Intelligent people don't need extra discipline, all they need is motivation. The more they can expect positive results, the more their activity and concentration rises. In my opinion, there is a  tangible deficit of positive results of the debates in this forum. We need to take measures. 

Predictability is the first step to more positive results. And to make the outcome of the debates more predictable we need to know exactly what we are trying to achieve.

It will be very helpful if we could point out a primary goal, because it could serve as a basis for formulating the mission statement of the forum.

We need a mission statement for several reasons:

Firstly, religion is a very delicate topic. If we are not careful enough in a debate on religious matters, we risk provoking totally unnecessary emotions, thus making the outcome of the discussion highly unpredictable. This unarguably decreases the quality of the debate – imagine thoughts of genius drowning in a sea of frustration. We need to approach the matter with more concreteness and precision. A well formulated mission statement will keep us clear-headed and will always remind us exactly what we do and what outcome we expect.

Secondly, a proper mission statement will help us focus on that group of theist that has a true capacity to contribute and benefit from this forum.

Thirdly, if new members, theists most importantly, became familiar with the mission statement, that would give them the chance to adapt faster to this forum, which will reduce considerably the number of inadequate replies on their part.

And, last but not least, if it is a mission statement that most of us like and agree with, that would make us  more united and organized.

It is true that “mission statement” is usually associated with organisations, but this concept is not alien to internet forums, as well. Most definitely, WWGHA will not be the first forum with its own mission statement, and even if is – so what?       
Piki ake, piki ake ki te ara poutama, ki nga taumatatanga e wairua, hinengaro, tinana!

Offline kcrady

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1326
  • Darwins +433/-1
  • Gender: Male
  • Your Friendly Neighborhood Cephalopod Overlord
    • My blog
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2011, 05:39:12 AM »
Hmmm, I think that if you have some specific "main objective" in mind (let's say, "raising the sanity waterline" or "persuading people to leave religion for rationalism"), that it would probably be more efficient to create a purpose-built forum and then come to this one (and others like it) as recruiting grounds.  If you want to, say, make an electric car, you're better off designing from the ground up than trying to retrofit a gas-powered SUV. 

In the case of this forum, it already has a long history of being a place where atheists lock horns with boneheaded fundamentalist believers.  I think I can pretty much count the theists we've ever had here who do/did not match that mold on one hand: UnkleE, Old Church Guy, Think and Answer, and (maybe) L-Chaim (I haven't read enough of his posts to get a full handle on his theology).  The main "intake port" for this forum is the set of "God is Imaginary" YouTube videos.  Though putatively addressed to "intelligent, educated Christians," their actual audience consists of people who profess to believe that Yahweh actually does (or did) work miracles--that is, fundamentalists.  Just look at the Failbag.  Our stable of atheists also tends strongly toward the more confrontational "New" type.  Accommodationists just aren't drawn in by "Why Won't God Heal Amputees?"  So that's what you get here: New Atheists vs. Fundamentalists. 

This forum is not going to attract Christians like Fred Clark or James McGrath or Bishop Spong in significant numbers, because they have already adapted their theology to fit with a godless Universe, and do not try to defend Biblical miracle stories.  For them, the question "Why won't God heal amputees?" misses the point entirely, because (their version of) Christianity is more about Big Huggy Bunches of Love or some such[1] rather than trying to use the Bible as a textbook of science and history.

So, if your intended mission statement involved reaching these more thoughtful/moderate type of Christians, and making sure not to provoke "totally unnecessary emotions," this forum, from its URL alone, would not be an effective tool.  If you had something else in mind, like an atheist civil rights activist group, attempting to retrofit this forum into that would likely stir opposition from (at least some of) the "fans" who come here for other reasons.  And, you still have that name/URL issue to deal with.

Since the basic setup of this forum and its main marketing tool, the GII Videos, tend to draw in the sort of fact-proof faith-heads least likely to examine evidence and arguments and re-evaluate their professed beliefs, I'm not sure it's even possible for it to be "effective" at changing minds on any significant scale.  It is probably more effective at doing things like creating a community space for non-believers and providing a place where people new to rationalism or already questioning their faith can find a storehouse of atheist arguments and evidence.  It can also serve as a "training ground," providing support for unbelievers looking for better arguments to use in their own lives.  I have seen quite a few requests like that here, of the "My fundy family members say evolution violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.  How would you respond to that?" type.

So, I think if you want to look for a purpose at which this forum can be maximally effective, you have to look to the purposes it's already serving, and see if there's any way to optimize its performance there rather than trying to "organize" members around some new mission statement.  For the latter, creating a new forum with a name/URL, publicity mechanism, logo, etc. suited to the task, then looking for people interested in that task as prospective members, would be a more effective strategy.  At most, this forum could provide a recruiting ground for something like that.
 1. Liberal theologues are notoriously hard to pin down when it comes to asking them what their truth-claims are.
"The question of whether atheists are, you know, right, typically gets sidestepped in favor of what is apparently the much more compelling question of whether atheists are jerks."

--Greta Christina

Offline ungod

  • Postgraduate
  • *****
  • Posts: 580
  • Darwins +15/-9
  • Gender: Male
  • WWGHA Member
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2011, 06:40:59 AM »
To find out why the Gods will not heal amputees and then build better temples, sing more pleasing hymns, make better supplications and more satisfactory sacrifices.
No, no, no, PLANT MORE SEEDS - Benny Hinn has to pay his divorce lawyer, you know!
Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has.
Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding. - Martin Luther

"What good fortune for those in power that people do not think." - Hitler

Offline Pounamu

  • Undergraduate
  • ***
  • Posts: 178
  • Darwins +5/-0
  • Gender: Male
  • formerly appeared as "Cadillac"
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2011, 02:49:40 AM »
Kcrady, thank you for the detailed explanation! Thanks to you, now I have a much better understanding of what this forum is and what it's not, what it can be and what it can't be.

If the main purpose of the forum is "creating a community space for non-believers and providing a place where people new to rationalism or already questioning their faith can find a storehouse of atheist arguments and evidence", then, I guess, it just doesn't need any modifications, nor yet a mission statement. It's perfect just the way it is! I really have nothing to add to that, nothing to contribute with. Indeed, my ideas are in a different sphere (but they are also quite different from what you suppose).

Creating my own forum, where I can freely develop my ideas, sounds like a great idea to me -  only that I can't do it on my own :). Not only that I don't have the IT skills to do it, but more importantly, I'm still far from having a plan for such a venture. At this point, all I have is a bunch of rough ideas – nothing more.

I was hoping that members of this forum would help me develop them, but after what you told me, Kcrady, I got a bit discouraged, to be honest. Please, tell me honestly: do you think someone in this forum would be truly interested in my ideas, if they are outside the context of debating with fundamentalists?
Piki ake, piki ake ki te ara poutama, ki nga taumatatanga e wairua, hinengaro, tinana!

Offline kcrady

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1326
  • Darwins +433/-1
  • Gender: Male
  • Your Friendly Neighborhood Cephalopod Overlord
    • My blog
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2011, 08:53:51 AM »
WRT creating your own forum, it doesn't take a whole lot of IT skills.  Simple Machines LLC (the company that provides the software for this forum) pretty much does all that, and there are others also.  Link: http://www.simplemachines.org/about/smf/copyright.php  You should be able to google something like "free internet forum" to get some options.  A free forum will most likely have ads, but with Simple Machines (and probably some or all of the other companies) you can pay a fee (I don't know what it is) to get an ad-free forum.

I was hoping that members of this forum would help me develop them, but after what you told me, Kcrady, I got a bit discouraged, to be honest. Please, tell me honestly: do you think someone in this forum would be truly interested in my ideas, if they are outside the context of debating with fundamentalists?

It's hard for me to say, since I have no idea what your ideas are. :)  Could you post your rough ideas here?  Maybe we can help you refine them at the very least.  I am certainly willing to give your ideas serious consideration, and I think others here would be also.  I can't promise you active support since I don't yet know what you are proposing.  I think if it's something more sensible than Davedave's circular firing squad proposal,[1] you will probably get at least some interest.
 1. Quick!  Let's show how organized and disciplined we are by running off anybody who's not enthusiastic about running off other atheists instead of doing anything about religion!
"The question of whether atheists are, you know, right, typically gets sidestepped in favor of what is apparently the much more compelling question of whether atheists are jerks."

--Greta Christina

Offline Pounamu

  • Undergraduate
  • ***
  • Posts: 178
  • Darwins +5/-0
  • Gender: Male
  • formerly appeared as "Cadillac"
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2011, 02:27:59 AM »
Yes, I better post my rough ideas here. I just need a cople of days to arrange them into something readable.
Piki ake, piki ake ki te ara poutama, ki nga taumatatanga e wairua, hinengaro, tinana!

Offline Chronos

  • Global Moderator
  • ******
  • Posts: 2434
  • Darwins +130/-6
  • Gender: Male
  • Born without religion
    • Marking Time
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2011, 08:18:42 AM »
I am a member of this forum since December, 2009 and there is one question that keeps exciting me since: Does this forum have a main purpose?

Judging by the WWGHA website, it seams that the main goal is to help christians abandon their irrational beliefs.

I have been a member since November 2004 or 2005 (whichever year the forum started). I do not think the main goal is to help Christians abandon their irrational beliefs. The goal is to have Christians recognize, first, that their beliefs are irrational and why, and, second, to consider other points of view. It is a guide to Christians about why atheists do not believe in god. (The author, however, abhors the term atheist and prefers the term rational.) Throughout the years, visiting Christians have shown us many examples of how the individual must be skeptical about their beliefs before abandoning them. Atheist arguments are not immediately compelling unless the individual is already in the mindset to understand and appreciate them.

The book is a primer for skepticism of Christianity, specifically, and religion, generally. The book outlines the questions atheists pose to Christians in Chapter 26, and the Executive Summary states:

Quote
In this book we look at God from many different angles. What we find is that God is completely imaginary. God does not answer prayers. God did not write the Bible. God has not incarnated himself.


However, as far as I understand, the author of the book in WWGHA website doesn't log in this forum very often, and, at present, few members care about what he has written. Thus, if I want to understand what the main purpose of this forum is, I should rather trust the current active forum members.

The author doesn't login regularly. I cannot speak for all forum members, but I can tell you that for the first 2-3 years this forum existed the only way to access the forum was to read the entire book. The link to the forum was at the end of the last chapter. Since most of us have read the book, we do not have a reason to re-read it or re-hash the issues it presents. We are here to discuss questions presented by new members, who we presume have just read the book or watched the videos on YouTube, or any other issues related to religion that are topical to the forum. The main purpose of the forum is to provide a discussion area for the topics presented in the book.

I remember once Screwtape told me that this forum is for atheists to have a community and “it allows them an outlet where they can know they are not alone”.

Others think that it is very important that the members have fun here. After all this forum is made for them – the members, and if it doesn't make them happier, then what is the point of it?

See previous comment.


All in all, it seems that the WWGHA forum is a multi-purpose enterprise, which is not surprising at all, because most internet forums are this way. Is our forum multi-purpose, too, or am I mistaken? If it really is, do you think we should set out a main objective?

The purpose of the forum is to discuss the topics the book presents and any additional, related issues that members wish to discuss. There is a Chatter area for non-forum discussions.

John 14:2 :: In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

Online One Above All

  • Laureate
  • *********
  • Posts: 11141
  • Darwins +294/-37
  • Supreme ruler of the multiverse; All In One
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2011, 05:25:44 AM »
I'm not sure about the purpose of the site itself; I think it's just a place for debate (with some areas where we can relax, obviously).
Personally, I am here to learn as much as I can.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken/Lucifer/All In One/Orion.

Offline Pounamu

  • Undergraduate
  • ***
  • Posts: 178
  • Darwins +5/-0
  • Gender: Male
  • formerly appeared as "Cadillac"
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2011, 05:41:35 AM »
After the posts of Jetson, kcrady, Chronos and Lucifer, it's now clear that stating a mission of this forum would be very difficult to do, since even atheist members wouldn't agree on a single main purpose. And let's not forget that we also have christian members, whose presence in this forum is not unimportant at all. I believe their perspective should also fit somehow into the mission statement, which is not ant easy task at all.

If a mission statement is impossible, then I would suggest a statement of core values. I guess this would have an effect similar to that of the mission statement and it shouldn't be very difficult to do.

All in all, I agree with kcrady – if I want to develop my ideas freely, I better make a new forum.

*****

Imagine that tomorrow I decide to create a new forum that, again, is based on a theists vs. atheists discussion.

The first thing I need to know is “how?” - on what principles would I base the construction of my forum.

I plan to adhere strictly to three basic principles:

Principle 1: A clear mission statement. It will be announced to all participants in the forum. In reply #5 I have explained in detail why I think pointing out of primary objective is important.

Principle 2: Members first. The main function of the primary objective would be to serve the needs of the forum members. Only through giving priority to members' needs I could  ensure an evolving forum with an increasing activity and an increasing sense of community.

Principle 3: No trolling. The forum should be constructed in way that doesn't give ground to extreme negative emotions, such as anger and hatred, because such emotions could spoil the proper functioning of Principle 1 and Principle 2.

The next question I need to answer is “who?”. Before I lay out a mission statement, I have to know whose needs it will serve. What kind of people would be the members of my forum? Who will be the atheists and who will be the theists?

I will start with the atheists, of course - as a rule they are the engine of the theists vs. atheists discussion. To be able to attract atheists to my forum, first I have to offer something they can't find in any other internet forum. To determine which particular group of atheists would be more likely to find in my forum something they truly value, first I have to classify atheists.   

Usually, atheists classify themselves according to their behavior: on the one end  of the scale we have the more confrontational type of atheists – the “new atheists” (as they call themselves), and on the other end we have the “accommodationists”.  The greatest advantage of this classification method is that  it is easy to use, since behavior is an easily recognizable attribute.

However, this classification method tells us very little of the motives of atheists, which makes it very difficult to determine their needs. Take the confrontational atheists, for example: even though they are intelligent and educated people, their antagonism is not always driven by purely rational motives – they are human beings after all.

Information about atheists' behaviour alone is not enough to determine their needs – in order to be able to ensure the proper functioning of Principle 1 and Principle 2, I need to know more about their feelings, their problems, their aspirations.

That is why, instead of classifying atheist according to their behavior, I would rather classify them according to how their atheism makes them feel. On the one end of the scale we have the happy atheists, and on the other end we have the unhappy atheists.

The typical happy atheists enjoy being part of the lucky few who cling to rationality. In a debate with theists, they subconsciously seek after strengthening their sense of elitism. Happy atheists usually relish the great contrasts between their high intelligence and the shockingly low intelligence of some theists – that is why the former rarely avert from arguing with fundamentalists. As a rule, happy atheists don't care much about what happens with the theists after the end of the debate.

Unhappy atheists, on their part, can't fully enjoy their own rationality, because they simply find it hard to put up with different kinds of delusions surrounding them.  Very often unhappy theists have family members who are theists, and that makes them even more unhappy, especially when they see how theism makes their beloved so miserable.  They often dream they lived in the future, in which science rulls (literally) and theists are just a small group of eccentrics, whom nobody takes seriously. They also wish they had a magic stick to make all  dumb delusions around them disappear.

Here, I'd like to baldly underline that the descriptions above are just two extremities of a scale. I do not claim that pure forms of happy atheists or unhappy atheists exist in reality. Most likely there is a normal distribution, with most of atheists being in the middle of the bell curve – some of them leaning more towards the happy atheist, some of them on the opposite direction.

The WWGHA forum, as I see it,  provides the perfect environment for those atheists who lean towards the happy type. IMO no internet forums can compete with WWGHA for the attention of happy atheists.

That is why, if I make a new internet forum, I'd rather focus on the needs of the unhappy atheists.

*****

Before I continue – any questions, commentaries, objections?           
« Last Edit: November 28, 2011, 05:43:27 AM by Cadillac »
Piki ake, piki ake ki te ara poutama, ki nga taumatatanga e wairua, hinengaro, tinana!

Offline EV

  • Postgraduate
  • *****
  • Posts: 624
  • Darwins +52/-1
  • Gender: Male
  • Philosopher, Atheist, Musician, Philanthropist
    • My Website
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2011, 03:32:00 PM »
Before I continue – any questions, commentaries, objections?           

I think that I am an unhappy atheist. Especially at Christmas.

I think you state your ideas well, but I think that especially WWGHA would have a very hard time formulating a purpose.

Is it not just enough that it is here, and we enjoy it? Do we need a mission statement?

For many living in America, it is a form of relief for the tribulations of a non-secular society. For others, a place to get some laughs and learn about basic philosophy/world issues/religion in a new light.

Since everybody has different intentions, you cannot classify everyone under the same 'Atheist Band'. You mention this which is good :)

-Elliot
Quote
"Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative."
- Philosopher John Stuart Mill, from a Parliamentary debate (May 31, 1866);

Offline Pounamu

  • Undergraduate
  • ***
  • Posts: 178
  • Darwins +5/-0
  • Gender: Male
  • formerly appeared as "Cadillac"
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #15 on: November 29, 2011, 02:51:30 AM »
Is it not just enough that it is here, and we enjoy it?

If you feel more like an unhappy atheist, then you shouldn't be asking this question :) It's very sad when people are unhappy only because they cling to rationality, don't you think? Wouldn't you try to change this if you had the chance? This is exactly what my forum will try to assist you with.
I think it's time I state the intended mission statement:

The main purpose is to provide informational support in solving problems caused by various irrational beliefs mostly originating from Christianity.

I'm not saying that WWGHA doesn't provide such a support, of course it does! However, this is not the main purpose of the WWGHA forum (as it doesn't seem to have a main purpose), which makes it questionable how effective it is in providing such a support.

So, Elliot, would you be interested in joining a forum that actually helps you in solving your problems associated with Christianity?

And why are you unhappy especially at Christmas? :)
Piki ake, piki ake ki te ara poutama, ki nga taumatatanga e wairua, hinengaro, tinana!

Offline EV

  • Postgraduate
  • *****
  • Posts: 624
  • Darwins +52/-1
  • Gender: Male
  • Philosopher, Atheist, Musician, Philanthropist
    • My Website
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #16 on: November 29, 2011, 06:27:49 AM »
I probably would, but the thing is that the only way to solve my problems to do with Christianity is really to be somewhere without any Christians.

I like forums, for some reason my college does not block this one, but blocks all others. I'd only be able to post every three weeks...

I'm generally saddened by the state of the world, and religion plays a large part in that, as does capitalism and so on.

There is a topic addressing my dislike of Yuletide here:

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,20752.0.html
Quote
"Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative."
- Philosopher John Stuart Mill, from a Parliamentary debate (May 31, 1866);

Offline Pounamu

  • Undergraduate
  • ***
  • Posts: 178
  • Darwins +5/-0
  • Gender: Male
  • formerly appeared as "Cadillac"
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2011, 03:40:23 AM »
Ellliot, all I can say is that the future of this planet is in the hands of people like you! People who have the courage to gaze at the ugliest faces of the problem. People who feel so responsible to make a difference, that they even feel guilty if there aren't any sensible changes. People who feel the problems of other people as their own problems.

I saw the “I hate Christmas” thread – it's hard for me to say which would be the most effective way to help the starving children in Africa. At this point I am mostly focused on the problems of atheists like you and me. I think it's wiser to try to solve our problems first, before we try to solve other people's problems.

So what is the problem of atheists? Recently I saw a film about a young whale who got stuck in the shallows because of  the quick ebb tide. I think that's how most atheists feel – they feel like they are stuck in the shallows, because of the extremely low sanity waterline. Many of them feel like social outcasts or even have problems with family members who are theists.

There are many methods through which atheists try to solve their problems. I divide those methods in two basic categories: independent and interactive methods.

Independent methods, are methods that seek solving the problem independently – i.e. without interacting with theists.

A typical independent method is escaping – i.e. moving to a place where there are not many theists around.  At first, this sounds good, but it is actually very hard to do in reality. Escaping usually means being away from friends and relatives. Also, atheistic environment is not a full equivalent of a place where rational people feel happy.

Another independent method is the opposite of escaping – conversion (or becoming a theist). This method I call “out of the frying pan, into the fire”. It might help someone to stop feeling like a whale into the shallows, but it could hardly guarantee their happiness. Theism, especially Christianity is notorious for causing a lot of misfortune to many of its followers. Furthermore converts can hardly enjoy the taste of “sweet” delusion, once they have tasted the freshness of rational inquiry.

Assembling is also a popular independent method. To most atheists the opportunity to connect and gather with other atheists is a big breath of fresh air. This is the opportunity that the WWGHA forum gives them. Thanks to this forum, atheists have a chance to gain more courage, gain more knowledge, make more friends and feel less like social outcasts.

After this quick review of the most popular methods for solving atheists' problems independently from theists, it could be said that those methods have a temporary soothing effect rather than being actually able to solve problems. Unhappy atheists can't solve their problems independently, because no matter what they try, the negative effects of religion will always chase them – unless they completely eliminate those negative effects.

The only way to eliminate the negative effects of religion is through interactive methods. Interactive methods are those methods that seek interaction with theists. This interaction is expected to result in shift of theists' perception, attitude or behavior.

I recognize two basic interactive methods: the centralized interactive method and the decentralized interactive method.

The centralized method is what I also call “killing god”. At first glance it seems to be the more effective approach, that's why it's preferred by most atheists.

Religion, especially Christianity appears to be a very endurable system. In the world we live in, the most endurable systems are usually very well structured – they have a core, visible boundaries, interdependent elements. It is then quite reasonable to suppose that the reason why Christianity is so sustainable and resistible is because it is a very well structured system. The most effective way to deactivate a well functioning system is to alter or destroy the core of the system – in the case of Christianity this is god.

So that's the logic of the centralized method: the very idea that there is an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent being that fully controls our lives is harmful, that's why we need to get rid of it. We have to erase it from people's minds, we have to kill god.

However, we seem to forget that “god” is nothing but a blank screen, on which believers project themselves, mostly their superego. Every Christian has her/his own god, so in reality “killing god” transforms into “hunting gods”. Besides the problem that we should kill a new god each time we interact with a theist, there is this problem that shooting at someone's god is like shooting at someone's hologram. It is pointless.

We can't destroy the core, because there is no core! This notion that Christianity is a well structured system is really an illusion. Christianity is nothing but a pile of unproven ideas, beliefs and superstitions. I repeat - a pile of unproven ideas, beliefs and superstitions.

Someone might ask: If Christianity is not a well structured system, then how come it is such a sustainable phenomenon? The main reason for this is the fact that we, as a spices, are quite vulnerable to unproven ideas, beliefs and superstitions – Richard Dawkins explained this fact at length in his book “The God Delusion”.   

So, if Christianity is not a well structured system, then the decentralized approach would be much more effective. We need to identify all the detrimental ideas and beliefs of Christianity and gun down each of them indepedently – that's how the decentralized approach works.  After all, that's our ultimate goal, isn't it: to get rid of the detrimental beliefs and ideas coming out of Christianity? 

Not only the decentralized method is more effective, but it is also the safer approach. I totally agree with Anfauglir's comment in another thread that trying to eliminate religion and marginalizing believers might be dangerous at a certain point. The better approach is to reduce the negative effects of religion, rather than trying to completely eliminate it.   

The decentralized approach is also the easier approach. All we have to do is to explain to the theist the actual effect of a certain belief or an idea on the reality we live in – how their belief (or an idea) is harmful to our society, how it is hurting them – the believers, and how it is hurting us – the non-believers.

If we judge from the GII videos on Youtube, this method does seem to work. The Child Abuse video is the only video that focuses on one specific aspect of christianity – christian methods of bringing up children – and explains patiently how supporting christianity could be very harmful to children. This is an aspect of Christianity that affects absolute everyone's reality, without any exceptions, and that is why it is the most liked video of all the GII videos. This IMO means that it is best accepted by Christians. On the other hand the most abstract video of all the 12 GII videos – the Optical Illusion video – is the least liked video and most probably not accepted very well by Christians.   
« Last Edit: December 05, 2011, 03:53:25 AM by Cadillac »
Piki ake, piki ake ki te ara poutama, ki nga taumatatanga e wairua, hinengaro, tinana!

Offline Pounamu

  • Undergraduate
  • ***
  • Posts: 178
  • Darwins +5/-0
  • Gender: Male
  • formerly appeared as "Cadillac"
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2011, 07:44:32 AM »
To facilitate everyone and to increase the quality of the discussion, I will highlit the main points of my posts so far:

1. When interacting with theists, we should care more about the needs and the problems we have as atheists (if we have any problems whatsoever), rather than try to save the world.

2. Instead of trying to convince Christians that there is no god, we better communicate to them every single negative aspect of Christianity on a one-by-one basis.

3.  Whatever we claim, it must have a strong connection with the reality Christians live in. And if possible - explain them how a given aspect of Christianity affects them personally.


****

In the post above I used the terms "centralized method" and "decentralized method", but maybe "centred" and "non-centred" would be better. 
« Last Edit: December 05, 2011, 07:53:33 AM by Cadillac »
Piki ake, piki ake ki te ara poutama, ki nga taumatatanga e wairua, hinengaro, tinana!

Offline kcrady

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1326
  • Darwins +433/-1
  • Gender: Male
  • Your Friendly Neighborhood Cephalopod Overlord
    • My blog
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #19 on: December 06, 2011, 08:10:28 AM »
Just to make sure I'm understanding you correctly, your decentralized method aims to get Christians to be more like Fred Clark, so they're easier to co-exist with, rather than convince them to leave Christianity?  If so, how do you think atheists could go about doing something like that?
"The question of whether atheists are, you know, right, typically gets sidestepped in favor of what is apparently the much more compelling question of whether atheists are jerks."

--Greta Christina

Offline monkeymind

  • Fellow
  • *******
  • Posts: 2592
  • Darwins +44/-4
  • Gender: Male
  • I don't understand what I know about it!
    • How To Know If You Are A Real Christian
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #20 on: December 06, 2011, 09:15:50 AM »
The most natural state (we are born that way) is to not have a belief in God, or anything else. It bothers me that I should have to explain that to anyone, so I applaud others, who like you, feel strongly about helping others understand this.

I wonder how one goes about explaining what being a human being is all about?
Truthfinder:the birds adapt and change through million of years in order to survive ,is that science, then cats should evolve also wings to better catch the birds
Mailbag:On a side note, back in college before my conversion, I actually saw a demon sitting next to me in critical thinking class.

Offline kin hell

  • Professor
  • ********
  • Posts: 5380
  • Darwins +152/-7
  • Gender: Male
  • - .... . .-. . /.. ... / -. --- / --. --- -.. ...
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #21 on: December 06, 2011, 09:32:08 AM »
To facilitate everyone and to increase the quality of the discussion, I will highlit the main points of my posts so far:

1. When interacting with theists, we should care more about the needs and the problems we have as atheists (if we have any problems whatsoever), rather than try to save the world.

2. Instead of trying to convince Christians that there is no god, we better communicate to them every single negative aspect of Christianity on a one-by-one basis.

3.  Whatever we claim, it must have a strong connection with the reality Christians live in. And if possible - explain them how a given aspect of Christianity affects them personally.


****

In the post above I used the terms "centralized method" and "decentralized method", but maybe "centred" and "non-centred" would be better.


Hey Cadillac

I have read the thread and have a couple of points.

Without meaning to be argumentative, I think you may be failing to recognise that the personal problems/issues/irritations you mention in point 1 are probably already a significant impetus for much of the atheist energy seen here (allowing for the obvious tribal/social rewards of, hard to find elsewhere, likemindedness etc).

I would be surprised if the atheist forum members on the whole actively engaged with the premier intent to save the world, to much the same degree, god-killing as the "ultimate aim" is seen often in blanket statements of position, but the actual mechanics of trying to show evidence of "there is no gods" is evident more in the continual pursuit of the specific failings of religions (much as you describe).

Illogic, hypocrisy, social injustice, tyranny, cognitive dissonance (in fact the entire ghastly spectra of the effects and requirements of god-belief and faith) are all only working titles that must be (and are) presented and explored in detail, time and time again, on a one by one basis right across the boards.

The whole premise of the WWGHA question is exactly what you seem to be describing, in that it attacks just one facet of one religion. While it may seem to be an "aiming at god-killing question", in fact it is no more so than accurately describing any other specific religious untruth or negative religious effect.

I have no doubts that suffering personal negative experiences at the hands of religion is a continuous irritation/torture for many atheists here, but these are not the kind of fora to fail to express their dissatisfactions, in loud logical and hard to deny voice.

And very occasionally they are not only heard, but thought about and in some cases, even understood and acknowledged.

Perhaps the social engineering side of any new forum has not to be aimed at the atheist intent/method, but at the theist capability of insight.

The "low sanity waterline" is a misleading concept.

Here, no matter how deep the pool, the majority of theist visitors are driftwood. 
They skim a very shallow surface only. Their only voluntary immersion in education seems to start and finish in baptism, and they seem incapable and uninterested indeed impervious to soaking up of  any challenging knowledge whatsoever. Rational thought is the anti-faith.

As kcrady showed, the exceptions to this, are bloody exceptional. 

No doubt, I may be missing something, and perhaps there is a formula that may attract a more open minded theist to be met with a more simpatico atheist, but there is a very broad range of atheist here, and I am left believing it is the sad slice of the bell-curve theist visitor here that makes the positive outcomes you desire problematic   (at least on this forum).

 

"...but on a lighter note, demons were driven from a pig today in Gloucester."  Bill Bailey

all edits are for spelling or grammar unless specified otherwise

Offline monkeymind

  • Fellow
  • *******
  • Posts: 2592
  • Darwins +44/-4
  • Gender: Male
  • I don't understand what I know about it!
    • How To Know If You Are A Real Christian
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #22 on: December 06, 2011, 10:48:06 AM »
To try and define an atheist as Happy or Sad, this or that, would exclude others that might not fit into those narrow slots. Each individual has to define themselves.

Not sure any mission statement would encompass the broader spectrum of human beings without belief in god(s).  Of course, you seem to be looking for a specific type of individual (the Unhappy Atheist), so this may not be important to you. However, you may be limiting the size of your forum to an unsupportable one.

Also, if :
Quote
The main purpose is to provide informational support in solving problems caused by various irrational beliefs mostly originating from Christianity.
Then, I’m wondering how you would draw in the Christian? Would you also narrowly define which Christian you are looking for (the Unhappy Christian)?

And if:

Quote
2. Instead of trying to convince Christians that there is no god, we better communicate to them every single negative aspect of Christianity on a one-by-one basis.
Are you proposing debate rooms for this one-by-one or do you mean only one question at a time? Or do you mean addressing each Christian on a  person-by-person basis?   Not sure what you are proposing here.
Truthfinder:the birds adapt and change through million of years in order to survive ,is that science, then cats should evolve also wings to better catch the birds
Mailbag:On a side note, back in college before my conversion, I actually saw a demon sitting next to me in critical thinking class.

Offline Pounamu

  • Undergraduate
  • ***
  • Posts: 178
  • Darwins +5/-0
  • Gender: Male
  • formerly appeared as "Cadillac"
Re: What is the main purpose of the WWGHA forum?
« Reply #23 on: December 13, 2011, 05:13:07 AM »
kcrady, monkeymind, kin hell, I'm really thankful for your comments! I assure you that all of them are much appreciated by me!
You all, guys, seem to be pretty astute, indeed (especially monkeymind).

Unhappy Christians is exactly the group of theists that I plan to focus my forum on – this is the group of Christians that will be most open to everything atheists have to tell them. Furthermore, their perspective would perfectly fit into the intended mission statement of my forum.

kin hell, I guess I have to make it very clear – I have never claimed that my ideas are something revolutionary, something that we can't find in this forum! I am not surprised they seem familiar to you – that's exactly how it was meant to be. My forum will be only slightly different form the WWGHA forum.  The trick is that when we deal with sensitive topics like religion, the slightest differences might make a big difference.

The idea that the needs of the members are of primary importance I copied from the WWGHA forum. The only difference is that in my forum this idea will clearly be the basis of the forum.

Nobody denies that the most typical problems of an atheist are a significant impetus for much of the energy drawn in the WWGHA forum. All I'm saying is that solving the problems of the atheist doesn't seem to be the main purpose of this forum, and as a result its structure might not be fit enough to serve this necessity.

And I am very far from the thought that the members of the WWGHA forum are trying to save the world. Quite the contrary – my impression is that most members are pretty grounded people with very realistic expectations.

The idea to focus on specific failings of Christianity I also copied from the WWGHA forum and then I modified it slightly.
In the WWGHA forum those failings are always linked to the idea that god is imaginary and Christians are delusional. This is something that won't happen in my forum – I will cut this link, because it leaves the impression that every discussion of a failing is actually a trap set by the god hunters.
The other modification is that I will focus on failings that cause real problems to society and discuss those problems at length.

I agree with you observation that the typical unhappy atheists are not some of the most fruitful in this forum – either they seem to be unbalanced and spoil other members' discussions, or they rarely login, or at best they are quite new to this forum. That's why they need a new forum – I truly believe in their capacity to contribute to a thoughtful and fruitful discussion. 

Monkeymind, thank you for sharing your concern that focusing on unhappy atheists might limit the size of my forum – I think it's quite reasonable! Personally I am not afraid that this might happen – judging on the experience of the WWGHA forum. In my opinion WWGHA focuses on a much narrower slot – the confrontational atheists. Also, "intelligent Christians" is an extremely narrow slot, I can't even think of something narrower than that. Yet, there is a great diversity of backgrounds and perspectives in this forum. How does this happen? There are two reasons for this:

The first reason is that a particular type of people is hard to find in its purest form in nature. As I've said earlier, happy-unhappy, confrontational-accommodational, etc. are just extremities of a scale, nothing more. Few atheists are always happy/unhappy that they are atheists. I personally, would put myself in the less happy part of the bell curve, but I also recognize quite distinct features of the happy atheist. 

The second reason is that when a forum focuses on a particular type of people, it doesn't mean that it is designed exclusively for those people. I won't say: “Hello this forum is for unhappy people only, so if you feel kinda happy, please don't make an account!”. Everyone's perspective will be valued! Most definitely, there will be various types of sections serving various needs and various perspectives – similarly to the WWGHA forum. They will mostly serve the needs of the unhappy atheists and unhappy Christians, but not exclusively their needs.     

I wonder how one goes about explaining what being a human being is all about?
       
Monkeymind, that's the big question! Christians believe that their whole moral system is derived directly from the bible, so they have this constant fear that if they lose their faith they will lose their morality along with it. Because of this fear, it is indeed very hard to convince them to abandon Christianity.

The greatest advantage of my decentralized method is that I don't have to make Christians abandon their faith, therefore I don't have to explain what being a human being is all about. I wouldn't try to give Christians a new meaning of life, my goal is to make them abandon their most harmful beliefs and superstitions.

They only reason why I would try to explain what being a human being is all about is when there are people who really feel they want to give up their faith, but they are not sure what to substitute it with.  I would try to help such people, only because I feel sorry for them. Their state is a really  miserable state – I know this from my personal experience.

How do I help them? I'm pretty sure that to this question you can give a much better answer than me! You certainly have more knowledge and experience. I have some ideas too, but they are not fully developed yet – I am still working on them.   

Are you proposing debate rooms for this one-by-one or do you mean only one question at a time? Or do you mean addressing each Christian on a  person-by-person basis?   Not sure what you are proposing here.
With “one-by-one” I rather meant that failings of Christianity should be discussed independently – independently from each other and independently from the idea that God is imaginary.
 
Kcrady, to be honest, I don't have a clear vision of what christians should be like, and I don't feel obliged to have such a vision. Evolution of Christianity is none of my business, and I'm really not interested in it. As I've already said, my dream is to make Christians abandon their most harmful beliefs and superstitions. I really don't care whether they will transform into more bearable Christians, or they will completely abandon Christianity.

So how do I make Christians abandon their superstitions? Like I've said in my previous posts, I will try to explain to them how their superstitions affect them personally. I will give you an example to make it more clear:

If I make a video about prayer, similarly to GII video, I would also take some time to explain why it is illogical to expect that prayer would work and I would also claim that prayer is a superstition. There are some differences though:

Firstly, instead of addressing this video to intelligent christians, I would address it to unhappy christians.
Secondly, I would try to explain to Christians why leaning on prayer is bad for them – how substituting knowledge and action with prayer might completely destroy their life.
Thirdly, I would not claim that god is imaginary, I would not call christians delusional and I would not ask them to abandon their faith.

****
All in all, WWGHA is a really successful forum. I like it and I can hardly make a better forum than that. My goal is to make a forum that is a good partner of WWGHA.     
« Last Edit: December 13, 2011, 05:18:13 AM by Cadillac »
Piki ake, piki ake ki te ara poutama, ki nga taumatatanga e wairua, hinengaro, tinana!