Enough is enough! 

There has been way too much silliness and name-calling on Nexus lately. People are joining groups they disagree with simply to argue with group members. Others are stalking and chasing members around the site simply to harass them. Thin-skinned or not, this has caused visits to Nexus to be a chore for many, and a few have left the site. 

The only qualification to be a member of Nexus is to be a nontheist. Other than that we are a community. Civil debate is welcome in the forum, but should not be tolerated in individual groups (unless this is the purpose of the group), and on member pages.

If you are unsure what is acceptable behavior, check out the Site Rules. If you are having a problem or you notice anyone violating the rules, please use the "Report an Issue" link at the bottom of every page. 

Finally, I am seriously considering adding the title of the below Phil Plait speech to our rules.

Click to open video in a separate window: Don't Be A Dick

What do you think? Good idea or not? I am interested in any feedback and open to solutions. I'm not looking for complaints.

Be forewarned that NO member names will be allowed in comments.

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Replies to This Discussion

I think you are reading more into what I write than is actually there. In its most simplistic terms, I am saying that if you want to form a community, you have to first define what community means.

I don't find you condescending or self-righteous. I do, however, think that there is still a tinge of religiosity in your argument. Your argument basically boils down to, "There's a text that says we are a community, so we are a community. That's simply the way things are." Replace the word "text" with "verse" and you will see what I mean.

Oh, and for the record, I hardly consider myself battling against fundamentalist Islam. In the film I mentioned, if anything, I consider the mother no less a victim than her kids. I was simply trying to understand it. When dealing with subject matter like that, the worst thing you can do is pigeonhole it in terms of good and bad or pass judgment on it in any way. Battling against fundamentalist Islam has such a Crusader tone to it. And the attempted honor killing I mentioned involved a relationship between a Jew and a Christian.
I think you misunderstand me as well. Perhaps some time we can communicate further. Right now, we are way off topic. Thanks for your insight.
Short answer...

We are an atheistic community not an atheist community. :-D
Thank You.
I have been struck by so many people's stories of "conversion" to atheism elsewhere, as though there were something there to believe in in the first place. Lurking behind most of these stories is a creeping agnosticism, that somehow it's safer to hedge one's bets just in case.
The point has to made clearly and repeatedly that atheism(or non-theism)is not a substitute belief system.
It can become problematic then for a "community" to exist around a notion of non-belief in the non-existent. Serious discussions of theism generally become indistinguishable from metaphysics. And as has been pointed out some time ago, there are ample grounds for questioning whether metaphysical problems are "real" problems at all.
I think it is safe to say that this can be a community of people who can agree that the non-existence of deity is not a problem. (I almost hate myself for being so glib like that, but what the hell)
I think a place to start, a problem we can agree is real, is that of the increasingly negative impact that religious ideology is having upon our politics and our lives. You point out two perfect examples, Mama Grizzly and Mein Beck. Their sectarian differences don't matter a whit. I do think however that a discussion needs to start somewhere about the impact this latest manifestation a quasi-religious conservative political ideology has on the lives of us all.
There are people in this country ready to lynch the President because they "believe" that he is a Muslim(in addition to the usual reasons). Can you even begin to imagine their reaction if he were an avowed atheist?
I consider that a very real potential problem.
Thanks for commenting as you did. I've also been really disturbed by the "conversion stories" to atheism, particularly since they are simply adopting religious memes such as conversion into what should be an a-religious environment. It is, indeed, a creeping agnosticism.

At first I really liked what you said that "It can become problematic then for a "community" to exist around a notion of non-belief in the non-existent." When I thought about it a bit more, however, I started to wonder if that statement is a fair representation of contemporary atheism. If we were to define the "non-existent" as Superman, for instance, it would not be a fair comparison, since no one that I know of believes Superman is real and lives their lives according to his teachings (note that I did not say Jedi). On the other hand, plenty of people do believe in some god or gods, live their lives according to his precepts, and what more, expect everyone else to live that way too.

You answered that with the suggestion that, "a problem we can agree is real, is that of the increasingly negative impact that religious ideology is having upon our politics and our lives." In theory, I agree with you wholeheartedly with that. The problem is that even then, there is such a diversity of opinions here that I wonder if, even then, we can find common ground, or if we do find common ground, is it universally common, or common only to the US, but not Sweden or Iran, for instance (both countries are represented here).

I really think you are on the right track, but the idea has to be honed a bit more.
re:" non-belief........." Points to what I was alluding to in terms of metaphysical problems. I think the term "non-theism" is a more accurate(but somewhat clumsy) term. I was also tangentially referring to the mistaken perception of many people that atheism is somehow an ideology. And of course, Superman is just another fictional character(unless you were thinking Nietzsche?), then again, have you ever been to a big science-fiction convention? One could do worse than believing in Superman, I'd take him over Yahweh anytime. (Actually, the depth of the literary mythology surrounding Superman is astonishing)
On a personal note: I'm one of those apparently rare people that have been able to dispose of religious tendencies at a very early age(believe it or not, about 5). The reasons I had as a child were of course, .... childish, but age and experience have done nothing but reinforce my early convictions.
As for diversity of opinion. What could be better? It would be self defeating if we all agreed on everything, we would become just another variety of religion.
I think Sweden and the other Nordic countries have begun to move towards truly secular societies, but wouldn't it be fair to say that Iran has a larger problem with religion than even the U.S.? Perhaps we can do something to help, if not them in particular, maybe some of the fence-sitters. That's probably naive, but might this not be a good place to start? Even if it's only something as simple as getting people to read, perhaps Russell, Hitchens or Dawkins, there's plenty. ( I came across old Bertie as a young teen, not that I needed persuading, but I became sure of what I had always thought was more than justified , and that I wasn't alone in my convictions.)
I have recently been on a large public site, and the discussions of atheism I encountered for the most part there have been juvenile and specious. Thank you for allowing me to find people that are well worth talking to.
I look forward to more.
Some people (like myself) have stories of "de-conversion." This is not the same as a "conversion" at all. It is coming to the acceptance that there is no god(s). It usually begins with a form of deism. Then it transmogrifies into agnosticism, and eventually a surrender to reason and acknowledgment of atheism.
I'm going to respond to this in a somewhat radical way that shows a divergence in core understandings. As a writer, I place a lot of emphasis on words, and the precise meanings they carry. The way you chose to phrase your response is very telling.

I'll start with a little credo I've developed that "It is harder to take the Church out of the Christian than the Christian out of the Church"--the same could be said about synagogues and Jews or mosques and Muslims. In other words, even the sharpest rejection of religious beliefs does not necessarily mean that the values and thought processes that engender those beliefs have been rejected.

What does that mean in practice? Essentially, that even if someone rejects Jesus, for instance, this does not necessarily mean a rejection of other Christian values and ideals. Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing--just because someone rejects Christianity doesn't mean that one should reject the concept of "Do unto others." At other times, it becomes more problematic. For instance, Abrahamic religions have a concept of Good and Evil, when in fact, those are very loaded terms that establish a dichotomy that may not always exist. Most things, perhaps all things, are really gray. Based on what you wrote above, I would suggest that some of that dichotomy perseveres. You seem to be talking about religion v. reason, when I would suggest that this preserves that dichotomy. In fact, both are fallible. We all admit that religion is fallible, but I would add that reason can also be fallible because it can so often based on faulty perceptions, programmed biological responses, the intrusion of values, and the fact that as humans we are incapable of seeing the whole picture (that's another interesting point. Even many atheists conform to the wholly religious belief that humanity is the pinnacle of existence/creation). My position is that there is no dichotomy of religion and reason. Both are flawed.

There is also something unique about Christianity that distinguishes it from other religions, such as Judaism, Islam, or Hinduism. Christianity is faith-based. In other words, the primary precept is to believe. Judaism and Islam, on the other hand, are action-based. If you fast on Yom Kippur or Ramadan, no one cares whether you are doing it out of piety or because you're anorexic. In fact, I know many practicing Jews and Muslims who are atheists, but "go through the motions" for various personal reasons. In such cases, you would never have a de-conversion, because there was never a conversion in the first place. You would have a de-practicing.

If that is the case, then stories of conversion or de-conversion are very religious specific, or perhaps even Christianity specific. On the other hand, what you wrote hints at the centrality of faith or the rejection of faith to your particular approach. Three terms stand out for me--"de-conversion," "surrender," and "acknowledgment." All of them seem to imply a shifting of faith, rather than the utter rejection of faith.

I can't speak for David Perry, but at least that is what I mean by stating concern over terminology like "conversion."
Again good points, and not contrary to mine at all. I was speaking of my personal experiences, and responding to use of the word "conversion."

Keep in mind that we all have different cultural and life experiences. We also speak in cultural terms. Being a former Christian, I sometimes speak in "Christianese." Many cultural Jews still use certain Yiddish phrases. I personally try to understand that and move on.
Sure. Of course, Christianese (a term I like) has certain ideological underpinnings to it, while what survives of Yiddish is based on an ethnic language spoken by a largely secular group in pre-war Eastern Europe. I used to know this wonderful old lady who would boast that she never opened a Bible in her life. She could also quote Marx in Yiddish and sang the Internationale in Yiddish (she had great stories. Her husband fought with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spain).

More simply, there are far more religious underpinnings to a Christianese term like convert than to saying "I shlepped down there because of that shmuck" (I dragged myself down there because of that dick).
Ha! Yeah Southern Christians like to say things like, "Bless his heart." This of course means, "That little bastard."

It is getting to the point that if I see your name, I can't wait to read what you have written. You are turning into one of my favourite commenters here on A|N, not that my opinion matters, but I like to give credit where it is due.




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