Omen, I’m a little late to this party and I’m short on time, but I’ll toss in my unorganized two cents.
Thanks Zankuu, you're the first person I think that has contributed some useful criticism. My concern is whether or not I'm being uncivil unfairly, which I have been accused of repeatedly with little regard to promoting solid criticism of realistic examples. This has increasingly made me angry as people keep making accusations, but never adequately support the kind of accusations they make.
Your posting style is prickish.
The tone of your posting style has been brought to your attention before. Hell, one of the last threads from the old forum in 2008 has you defending yourself from being “uncivil”, but I guess that's neither here nor there.
I’ve mentioned this to you before. Why do I give a shit? I give a shit because I view your overly aggressive style as enabling. It makes theists want to run off and enables them to do just that by giving them an emotional out: “Omen is mean, goodbye cruel forum”. Take Jst for example: Grimm crafted a specific thread for Jst, extending a warm and friendly hand, and you beat the ever loving snot out of him in that thread. To what end? What was the purpose? What is your goal with Jst? I think Adzgari’s question concerning goals was a legitimate one that you avoided.
I'll agree with you that I am very aggressive and very unapologetic. However, I don't perceive these things as 'bad', where as some other people do. I also don't agree with Adzgari's reasoning about what kind of goal I have or even the notion that I avoided explaining myself. I told him up front that goals change based on what/who you're talking too, which he then later agreed with me. He seemed to want a more precise goal and I said I wanted the goal of rational discussion, which as a goal has never once strayed from any of my posts. I do not see the attempt to discuss 'goals' as relevant to the problem, since my goal has never changed. The complaint seems to extend from having posted a lot and posted aggressively, which I unabashedly admit too.
The primary issue, for me anyway, is this:How can you have a rational discussion with someone if they refuse to cooperate with supporting their claims?
Now, you say that I am 'enabling' the theist to not take posts seriously, but I can't agree with the criticism considering the theist in question was never taking posts seriously before, during, or afterwards. My involvement is just one of a long list of convenient excuses as to not take any post seriously, just as I posted the example
for azdgari to consider since my primary concern was to get a description of my posting behavior and what is wrong with it. In that particular example, dozens of individuals and moderators literally plead with the individual to just respond, but his desire to get back at me overwhelms his desire to be honest. The irony is that some of our 'nice' posters supposedly contributed in this particular thread and unsurprisingly they were as discarded as easily as I. No matter how nice you are, the result was the same. Now, there is a lot of ambiguity in this and I'm not saying you're wrong, but the primary example is in my favor here. Most theist come here with no intention of learning or listening, their primary goal is more often than not to do nothing but confirm what they want to believe.
With that said I doubt you intend to come off as a prick, but people who visit WWGHA that don’t know you think you’re a prick, like Jst. Yes, you want support for claims, you want accountability, you want them to realize and correct the logical fallacies they commit (I want all of that too). But it seems like you want it all to happen in the very next post. It won’t happen of course. Most of the theists we get here have been indoctrinated since birth. And you’re right, indoctrination doesn’t excuse their behavior, but it is the reason they aren’t able to instantly admit their reasoning is wrong. They know for a fact Jesus rose from the dead and all the other nonsense, so when you present them with contradictions or cold hard facts or anything solid that goes against what they “know”, then it gets confusing and the mental gymnastics begin. It’s precisely the reason you get the dodging, etc.
They have a support system built upon emotional dependencies and often other kinds of rhetorical reinforcements for which to rely upon ( such as tautological in group language in the bible, that either praises those who believe or condemns those who do not believe ). This is a well known phenomenon and one I've deeply thought about, but I disagree on who is or is not 'enabling' them. I find that enabling them involves encouraging their confirmation bias through any means possible. Now that includes being aggressive and unapologetic, but it also includes not challenging their presumptions or engaging in rhetorical games where as long as you never address their presupposition they will always rationalize towards that presuppositional unquestioningly.
Biblical contradictions is the best example of this, where effectively a person has assumed a context for a conclusion that all future rationalizations are made towards. Whenever you point out a biblical contradiction, that person will always rationalize it through any effective means available to reach the conclusion that they've already assumed. I see this too often to count when atheist are busy going in little circles, seemingly perplexed at how a theist literally makes up an answer to confirm what they want to believe without ever questioning why they would initially ever believe it. This is a little bit of a pet peeve of mine watching other non-believers engage in it, but I am not saying this to distract from any other criticism.
Do theists dodge my questions? Yes. A theist recently dodged me hard about his god and it’s obsession with blood. Did I allow it to happen? Yes, because I realize my goal of freeing him along with other theists from their mythology won’t happen overnight. It’s going to take time and that’s why I try to be patient with them. It’s why I don’t use your approach and bludgeon them over the head in every single reply, demanding they face the facts. It doesn’t work. If anything it creates hostility and bitterness- neither of which help in a discussion. Yes, some do lie to save face and you’ve rightly called them out on it. But there are those that are lying to themselves and don’t realize it, and you get the unintentional byproduct of that. I think because you were never indoctrinated, the inability for a theist to instantly cut through irrationality will probably always be alien to you.
I don't walk into any conversation with the assumption that I'm going to convert anyone and I find the idea a little obnoxious. Most conversations I choose to take part in are often in the defense of science or human rights, but occasionally a theist can draw my ire if they behave more condescending than I like. I also disagree with whether or not my tactics do not or have not worked, on the contrary I have had results. You're going to mention Vynn in the next paragraph, but I really was a fundamental part of those discussions with Vynn and we became close friends. I bludgeoned him with the same unapologetic fervor as I bludgeon anyone else. I am also not some kind of inhuman force, I recognize the need for compassion and during the period with Vynn we talked privately quite often, he became a very important friend in a very dire time in my personal life ( the murder of my wifes brother ). They are not always going to have the same results, just as consistently not calling them on their behavior is going to have any result. If you don't challenge them emotionally on what they believe emotionally, they'll never budge from their pedestal.
And I've mentioned this before also, but I don’t think you and some of the others have been particularly patient with the recent theists. For instance Alzael mentioned he has put in “so much” effort with Jst. Jst only has 550-ish posts under his belt. Effort and patience were displayed by those that helped chip away at Vynn’s convictions on the old forum. Before the WWGHA members helped free Vynn he had upward 7,000+ posts as a theist.
I like you, Omen. You have a better bullshit detector than I do and you’re able to recognize flaws in theists’ arguments from more angles than I can, and to that I tip my hat to you. But as far as being personable and caring about the people you’re having a discussion with- you’re a goddamned robot. What Christian is going to listen to the hostile "angry atheist" that seems like he has a chip on his shoulder? Present your compelling facts and hold them accountable, but damn it man, be as polite as you can.
Your description of being robotic is one of a habitual exercise for me, I've already admitted to being OCD in the past and in order for me to operate 'normally' in real life I often have to concentrate on multiple tasks to keep my brain busy. I am not without emotion, but when I'm just analyzing a post, there really is no investment of emotion in it for me. The emotion only becomes apparent when a theist refuses to be honest. I am capable of being nice and don't really believe that I haven't been nice, I think the worst anyone can say is that I have been consistently aggressive and unapologetic. I do hear your criticism about whether theist will listen or not, but in my experience I've never seen a person come here and convert that wasn't a fence sitter anyway. On the other hand, I see not taking them to task on their claims as simple enabling them by confirming what they want to believe.
In my personal life I'm married to a wonderful woman, who is a believer, and I do not have a single friend who is an out non-believer. I have a strange collection of friends from differing religious backgrounds, including a former JW who has progressed out of the cult with my friendship. Emotional experiences are obviously not alien to me.