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Everything posted by wellnamed

  1. I tend to prefer discussions to debates but the same ideas probably apply, except maybe the expectation that it's about changing people's minds? But I also suppose my criteria for participation is whether or not I find something interesting and not whether I think it fulfills some other purpose I would definitely have given up on internet message boards a long time ago if I thought the goal was to change people's minds on anything. I think it's clear though that people do change their minds about all kinds of things, it's just that it usually happens slowly over time rather than some eureka moment as the result of a single interaction. So maybe I should say "if the goal was to change people's minds in an immediately visible way". That's probably especially true dealing with something like religious belief, where it involves really fundamental aspects of a person's worldview, the kind that we tend to take for granted. Christians may have trouble communicating with non-Christians not just because they're socialized into obedience and conformity but also because those conversations involve challenging ideas we tend to take as a given. Christforums described belief in the existence of God as axiomatic, for example. I think the belief functions that way for a lot of people, it's just something that seems self-evident given their socialization. Maybe the difference between "obedience" and "socialization" is like six of one and half dozen of another but I think it's worth remembering that those socialization processes are inescapable for all of us. It's not really some special failing of Christians that they have unchallenged or naive beliefs which they take mostly for granted. That's kind of the default state. One of the fun things about having discussions with people with very different beliefs is that those conversations make those assumptions stand out more, providing opportunities to actually interrogate them and think about them more deeply. If you take broadening of intellectual horizons as a humanist goal then this is pretty useful, so much so that you could call it another potentially useful purpose for debate. Notwithstanding the fact that people are often bad at taking advantage of the opportunity
  2. I don't think this quite exhausts the list of reasons why one might choose to debate. I might debate a topic even when I expect that neither myself nor my interlocutors are likely to change our minds, if... - I think I might learn something new (even if it doesn't change my overall perspective). - I'm interested in understanding better how other people think about the topic, or in trying to understand more precisely where I think they are wrong - I'm interested in refining my ability to present a particular type of argument, or in figuring out better ways to communicate my view on the topic - I'm interested in presenting information which others might find useful (not necessarily the people debating)
  3. I don't think this thread is even particularly hostile, but I also think it might be too much to expect no hostility. It's an interesting question though, about what the goal ought to be. It's an interesting idea that there is value to having an active Lion's Den for the benefit of demonstrating arguments against Christianity. I'm not sure everyone would agree with that though. Or, it's not clear whether that's preferable to just letting people ask questions about Christian arguments they are troubled by, no Christians needed? I can understand why some people are more hostile than others just in terms of how traumatic their deconversions were, or how recent. I could understand how some might find value in an active Lion's Den while others might prefer that the whole site is a space where they are free from dealing with Christians. I'm not sure there's any right answer, so my default would just be to let people decide for themselves, including being pretty tolerant of some open hostility towards Christians.
  4. It's not the only consideration, but it's one that I find reasonably important. For example I would argue that there are theological constructions and views about a properly Christian way of life which would be easier to sustain if there was actually good evidence for something like the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. To be clear, there are also a great many theological and historical claims which I think are unsustainable regardless of the above. How one evaluates the likelihood of a virgin birth, a resurrection from the dead, or a great flood doesn't depend much on how Christians act, either now or historically. But if one is motivated by an ideal of union with a God of love and personal transformation in the Spirit of God then the reality of how Christians live is more directly relevant.
  5. This is nitpicky but I think it's OK to call it a choice. Although I know what you mean, i.e. I think you mean that it's a choice which is compelled by the strength of the evidence (or lack thereof). It's not an arbitrary choice or a simple matter of subjective preference. It's a decision which we believe to be justified. We choose to disaffiliate from various religious groups, or to cease certain religious practices, or to disavow certain beliefs for good reasons. But I also think some people choose to continue their affiliations, practices and beliefs in many cases long after they have acceded to the intellectual arguments against them. I say that because I think you could count me as such a case. But we find ways to make that work, i.e. by shifting to more symbolic interpretations or more mystical ones. Basically there's enough room to maneuver that it is possible to find ways to continue in religious belief or practice even under those conditions. There really is a choice involved in going beyond the intellectual acknowledgement to a change in one's way of life or worldview. So I think it's OK to call disaffiliation a choice, or atheism a choice, in that sense. It's just not an arbitrary one. I don't see a reason to implicitly accept the premise that the only good choice could be faith. It's also interesting to me that it might make clear that there are multiple facets to it. There's the purely intellectual questions about things like the existence or characteristics of a deity, but there's also the choice to reject communities of believers for various reasons. I always thought for example that one of the best arguments against Christianity was the line in the Gospel of John that people will know Jesus' disciples because of their love for one another. I found that hard to reconcile with my actual experiences of Christians even as a Christian, and it's an example of a reason to be skeptical of the religion that has nothing to do with arguments about the existence of God.
  6. I think one of the goals of the authors is to try to find out exactly what people do mean by "spiritual", in order to see patterns across the variety of usages. You can gain interesting insights into the world that way, although maybe it's mostly of academic interest.
  7. I'll have to read the actual article, but from the abstract one thing that seems curious to me is: what is "spiritual" adding to "ethical" in the category of "ethical spirituality"? Is it something to do with notions about the source of moral truths, some belief about the way reality is such that certain ethical precepts are justified? Because otherwise it's not entirely clear to me how being ethical in a spiritual way is different from just being ethical. Like I expect that my moral beliefs are very similar to someone in the US who would describe themselves as an ethical spiritualist. I think we'd similarly talk about human dignity, compassion, love, etc (arguably one of the most useful aspects of the whole "made in the image of God" idea, despite the lack of consistent application...). I just don't tend to think of my ethical commitment to those ideals as spiritual. I've always tended more towards the non-theistic/pantheistic natural transcendence style of spirituality, and have tended not to care very much for religious or quasi-religious approaches to ethics, so the above may just reflect my own biases
  8. So now that we're done with the main part of this conversation, can I just ask whether anyone feels put off by errant apostrophes? Like a dagger being driven into my eyeball. What can be done about this? The worst is when I find them deployed in my own post's. Oh the humanity.
  9. Agreed on both points. Although I feel like there's a fundamental problem with any kind of dualism, which has been known since Descartes. If there's some non-physical thing, but it has causal power over the physical world (which it must, for us to observe it at all; we know all our senses are physically based), then how is that even possible? Even if there were some hidden aspect of that phenomena (akin to hidden variables theories of QM) we would still physically investigate the causal nexus, which is basically just how science works anyway. So I'm not sure the philosophical distinction between monism and dualism matters a lot? I guess the world in which the distinction becomes really important is one in which the causal behavior of some plausible non-physical agent is neither predictable nor stochastic, where it was obvious that there must be some hidden kind of agency or process. Otherwise such a phenomenon would just look like every other physical process, where there's some association between state A and B, and we attempt to understand how that association works.
  10. Yeah, that's why I specified "physical in the sense of being something a physicist would study" rather than physical like I can poke it with a stick. Gravitational fields, microwave radiation, and so on are also "physical" then. Philosophically, one of the more interesting consequences of the triumph of physics is basically that we've given up on ontology, in the Greek sense of wanting to know what kind of stuff exists. What's an electron, really? From a physics perspective it's just a bundle of measurable properties, mostly just mass, charge, and "spin", whatever the hell that is But that's why I say the differences between "spiritualism" and "materialism" are more epistemological than ontological. From a materialist standpoint the idea isn't that some really spooky phenomena can't exist; QM has you covered. It's just the expectation that all the spooky stuff can be studied using empirical methods which make no assumptions that this process must involve something fundamentally different from the rest of the natural world. There's lots of practical reasons why the scientific study of X or Y might be difficult from a materialist perspective, but no philosophical reason why the scientific study of any phenomena would be impossible. Whereas non-materialists generally hold that at least some such non-physically-investigatable phenomena exist.
  11. materialism here probably just means the idea that everything that exists is fundamentally physical, in the sense that it all reduces (ontologically, if not in terms of useful explanations) to the kinds of processes that a physicist might study. A common misunderstanding here is that materialism doesn't mean that only physicists are studying real phenomena, or that only a concept of some phenomena expressed in terms of sub-atomic particles is meaningful. You can be a materialist and think that psychology is a useful field of research and that psychological ideas should be expressed in idiomatic language. You just also believe that all of those phenomena do amount to some gloriously complex behavior of a physical system with no "spiritual" components outside the domain of natural science. Sometimes people use the word naturalism to mean something similar, so for example scientists usually practice methodological naturalism which doesn't entail having a strong prior belief that nothing supernatural exists, but does entail a methodological commitment to proceeding with scientific investigations as though no such supernatural world exists. The only methods allowed are methods which would make sense assuming that any given phenomena had some natural explanation. I think it might be better to say that the point of contention between self-identified materialists, or naturalists, and self-identified spiritualists, is in epistemology in general, which incorporates difference in understanding about the role of logic and reason (as opposed to some kind of intuition) but isn't exactly the same as saying that spiritualists reject the use of logic and reason entirely. It's more that they admit some methods which the materialist or methodological naturalist would reject, i.e. some kind of intuition thought to be grounded in processes that transcend the physical world.
  12. Cliff notes: everyone may need a little woo in their lives, a bit of narrative, a horizon against which life can have some meaning. It's good to get all anthropological about that shit. But insist on a higher quality of woo than quantum sorcery. It's a buyer's market, we have options.
  13. I already answered your question about why I think it matters and what I think should be done. I understand your reasons for not responding to what I wrote, but I don't think it's useful to act as if I didn't already give you an answer. In any case, while I understand the rationale behind the rule against public discussion of moderation, my opinion is that this issue has been festering on this site for literally years (it was a problem the first time I was here in 2015) and absent public discussion I doubt it will ever really be addressed. But at the very least I would encourage you to consider what I actually wrote privately, if not publicly.
  14. I got distracted (obviously :P) but just wanted to say you're right. You were talking about government and I was thinking only about this forum. Sorry about that.
  15. I think there's a discussion to be had about the site's mission and if a discussion about whether women deserve to be able to vote actually contributes to that mission or impedes it instead. But, more immediately I don't actually care that much if he gets to express his opinion. I care that he is a moderator. You'll recall that a few days ago ToT got a timeout and a bunch of threads were deleted. That happened after I complained about Skip's threat to lock orbit's thread. Why did Skip do that? Why was that thread a problem while so many other threads in ToT -- many far less civil and productive -- were apparently not? Why did he go out of his way to treat her so insultingly in the process of threatening to close it? I would suggest the reason is because she's a feminist woman, he hates feminist women, and his actions demonstrate the way in which his bias clouds his ability to mod fairly. After all that, why did he immediately create a new thread approvingly linking to just about the ugliest misogynist he could find on the internet, while throwing in references to sociologists as a jab? Why does he so often refer to femininity in a pejorative way, i.e. when he refers to "estrogen driven hipster... mankees" or complains about society succumbing to a "nutless androgynous so thought equality." Again, it's the same reason he approves of Roosh V. The misogyny is the point. I recall that just in the last day or so we've had posts from ex-Christian women talking about the joy of being liberated from Christian dogma that makes them subservient to fathers and husbands. I wonder how they might feel about a discussion forum for ex-Christians where one of the principle moderators shares those same repressive views?
  16. The entry I cited is linked from the page Skip cited. It's one click away, there in the sidebar with it's glorious headline: "Women Must Have Their Behavior And Decisions Controlled By Men". I found it by reading the page. But this is beside the point given skip's response. What do you think he meant when he wrote that he was not sure if there would be many who "would be ready for my reasoning nor opinions about results and costs to society of universal woman's suffrage"? I contend that the meaning is very, very obvious, and even more so in context. As is his claim that he does not disagree with Roosh about much. If you want to pretend that the meaning of his response is not clear then you are free to do so, but I'd suggest you read it again in context because it's not particularly ambiguous. And by all means, ask him yourself if you want. He's welcome to post here and say that he does not agree that women's rights should be restricted. Also, and I feel like I shouldn't really even need to resort to this kind of argumentation, but also it just seems kind of obvious, if I linked to a Roosh article and someone dug up that quote and asked me about it, my response would not be to double down on the fact that there is not much I disagree with him about. I would say I disagreed with him about that! And again it's obvious he is aware of Roosh's more inflammatory views. He said as much. I also think it's silly to ignore the fact that the stuff in the "neomasculinity" article is highly misogynistic all on its own. It's not like it was necessary to go find more, it's just that that article provided such a succinct summary of what is somewhat more diffuse in the other page. But all that talk about "the true nature of women" and the benefits of patriarchy is already awful male supremacist misogyny. Again, you can choose to ignore that if you like, that's your prerogative. But don't try to tell me that reading what is obviously there is a failure to give the benefit of the doubt. There is no doubt.
  17. I don't have to make any assumptions, he's said as much himself. You'll have to forgive me, since I'm currently unable to access ToT it's difficult for me to quote the thread, but he was asked explicitly about the quote I cited above, and his response was this: So he explicitly agrees with depriving women of the right to vote and refused to disagree with Roosh's views on women's inferiority, instead stipulating his wide agreement with him. And it's not at all plausible that Skip didn't know of these views beforehand, nor does he argue that he was uninformed. The OP itself rather coyly refers to Roosh's radioactively toxic views. There's a reason Skip chose to approvingly link to those same views. And as far as skip being generally toxic to conversations, it's kind of obvious just in the choice to start that thread, as well as so many of his previous interactions with posters over the years. Like I said, I don't think there's really any "civil" way to say this, the root issue is probably more just that he's an asshole to everyone who doesn't share his views.
  18. Although really, to cut to the chase, I think the bigger question is this: should this forum have a super moderator who believes that women are inferior and have too many rights? Can someone with those opinions fairly moderate discussions involving politics and social issues? Maybe the problem isn't actually the extreme views, but his seeming inability to participate without being an asshole to anyone who disagrees with him, but I feel like the two are related.
  19. You are saying sure we should allow evangelical Christians to post anywhere on the site, or sure we should only allow them to do it in the Lion's den? Is restricting them to the Lion's Den a form of censorship? You wrote that "either we have free speech or censorship". I'm trying to understand what limits on "free speech" are tolerable to you, since clearly this site already has limits on what you can say, as was already pointed out previously in this thread. Do you think the rule against personal insults amounts to censorship also or should personal attacks be allowed? I guess the other problem with what you wrote, and it's also been pointed out a few times, is that moderation on this site is not at all like "totalitarian government", precisely because this is one website and not the government. The guidelines again make this point succinctly: My opinion is obviously that the guidelines that already exist make sense, are neither censorship nor a violation of anyone's rights (by definition), and are vastly preferable to a completely unmoderated forum, but mainly here I was just trying to get at what I see as a false dichotomy between "free speech" and "censorship". I suppose in this sense I think florduh makes a mistake to ask whether these statements ought to be tolerated by a civil society. I'm only really concerned about whether they should be tolerated by this forum. Hate speech laws are a different problem from forum moderation and it's probably not helpful to conflate them.
  20. Do you think this site should allow evangelical Christians to proselytize members anywhere they want across the forums, and if not do you consider the fact that they are disallowed from doing so censorship?
  21. I understand. I agree that it's a two-way street. Sometimes it's hard to convey that while criticizing one thing at a time. Also hopefully it's obvious that I'm not against refuting arguments. Most of the time I probably wouldn't say anything here at all, but this meta conversation about the site has been happening in a bunch of different places recently and I guess I'm sticking my nose into it a bit. Maybe too much
  22. wellnamed


    Interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing.
  23. I'd like to add one to your list, since it is of relevance here recently: "As long as we continue to treat women as equals to men, a biological absurdity that will one day be the butt of many jokes for comedians of the future, women will continue to make horrible decisions that hurt themselves, their families, and their reproductive potential. Unless we take action soon to reconsider the freedoms that women now have, the very survival of Western civilization is at stake." -- Roosh V
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