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

Which is why I would suggest that "atheism" is a rejection of thinking in absolutes.
I would also suggest that what we refer to as a "religious" approach to one's mode of living need not conform to any specific religion per se. For example, isn't extreme nationalism or patriotism similar to religion? I would go as far as saying they are exactly secular religions. In fact, isn't a favorite accusation against the atheist, "how can you be a patriot if you don't believe in god" , or some permutation of that? The type of conservatism in the U.S. these days, even if you remove it's overt Christianity, is still another variation of a "religion", ignoring facticity in favor of faith-based politicking. Using religious fervor as tool for political propaganda purposes is a technique as old as humanity.
This entire discussion of atheist "conversion" is a topic that needs to be batted around some more. As you wrote, it is far from clear cut, and not a simple binary process.
In fact, it seems like a perfect new discussion topic to begin.
Go for it. I'd join in.
"My position is that there is no dichotomy of religion and reason. Both are flawed."

Al-KADIM, I don't think it follows from the fact that both religion and reason are flawed that there is no dichotomy. There clearly is. Faith (an important part of religion, at least to many) is the opposite of reason. It's possible to compartmentalize faith and reason so as to retain faith while exercising reason, but you can't apply them both at the same time to the same subject under examination.

Further, it is one of the apologist's lamest dodges to assert that reasoning from evidence is just another kind of faith. It is the absence of faith, the rejection of faith. The absence of bananas is not a kind of banana.

And I realize that I'm mixing terms here. Where you have religion in opposition to reason, I prefer to think of faith (belief in the absence of, or in spite of, evidence) in opposition to science (evidence-based reason). There are certainly those who practice religion only culturally, and maybe that's more common in Judaism and Islam than in Christianity, but all three religions are called faiths for a reason. They all emphasize it in their holy texts and preaching. I think it's a mistake to overlook that, despite differences in levels of emphasis.

I agree with your other point about cultural influence of religions. The Golden Rule is just one formulation of The One Commandment (don't be an asshole). But that the Bible got a few things right doesn't mean we don't reject faith. It's possible to examine one's religious cultural baggage and retain the worthwhile bits while rejecting faith and religion.
I still don't see faith as being opposite to reason. It is simply one of many reasons why we make the choices we do are adopt the ideologies that we do. For example, I know nothing about physics, but I have faith in Einstein that he was right. The same is of course true of Darwinian evolution. I will go out on a limb here and say that more people on this site will defend Darwin to the death than have actually read Darwin. Faith is simply another word for trust, and at some point all of us trust in someone else, whether it is a scientist, a member of the clergy, or some social ideology. BTW, nowhere did I assert that "reasoning from evidence is just another kind of faith." I simply said that reasoning from evidence can also be flawed.

You also say that "all three religions are called faiths for a reason." Actually, they are not. Well, they are in English, because English is a predominantly Christian language, so it uses terms drawn from Christian theology. What you would have to show is that Hebrew and Arabic define their respective religions as faiths. I can't even think of an adequate translation for faith in either language that could describe the religion. They would use the words dat or din respectively, both of which are derived from "laws" (the Hebrew through Persian but that's another story).
Sorry Al-Kadim, but I'm going to disagree here.

Faith comes in gradations; it's on a spectrum.
It might take a little faith to believe that my brakes or going to work, and it might take a little faith to believe that the peer-reviewed conclusions of scientists are going to be accurate, but that's still nothing compared to believing in an invisible supernatural entity for which there is absolutely no evidence.
Oh, I agree faith comes in gradations, but so does reasoning. Descartes, for example, in the Meditations, arrived at a belief in God through fairly sound reasoning, but the reasoning was, at least in my opinion, faulty.
I don't think faith and trust are synonymous, Al-KADIM. Faith, in my opinion, is unsubstantiated belief in something (the evidence of things not seen, to use the Biblical formulation). Faith is eroded by evidence because faith becomes unnecessary to the extent that evidence is available to support an assertion. Trust, on the other hand, is enhanced with evidence. The more times you see something working, the more likely you are to trust that it will work in the future.

This mechanism is obviously not at work when it comes to prayer, for example, where the times that it doesn't work are not ignored, but are explained away on faith. People don't trust that prayer works, because they know it often doesn't, but they have faith that it does, at least when it happens to coincide with God's will.

Faith and evidence-based reason are opposites. If you have evidence-based reason to support an assertion, you don't need faith. If you have faith, evidence only serves to obviate it. They can't both exist at the same time with regard to the same subject.

Referring to a religion as a faith is admittedly a different use of the word, but they are related. That the term is not used so much in Judaism or Islam doesn't alter the fact that the holy laws are "revealed truths" that have to be taken on faith.
Good point, Kid. Sorry for my part in wandering off topic.
I love a good fight, gloves on or off. I do, however, think Kid is right, so I wont respond to Jason here, though obviously I disagree with him. So if you want to take it somewhere else, that is fine by me.

Oh, and Kid, Alfred's translation of Psalms, St Erkenwald, and KJV. Need I say more ...
Ha! You are right. It won't be a specific rule, but an suggested attitude.
I think you guys are perhaps overcomplicating things a little too much. It's really not that hard to make a set of rules that allows for a pleasant atmosphere while still being conducive to discussion. Various forums have Terms of Service that do just that, and I don't see why we couldn't do so here.

For example, one of the most high quality forums that I visit, is twcenter.net (perhaps ironically, a gaming site). It is heavily but fairly moderated,and follows simple rules like this:

"Posts clearly insulting other board members, individually or as a group, directly or indirectly, are not allowed. This includes, but is not limited to:

■Name-calling ("You're an idiot", "You moron")
■Direct insults ("Screw you")
■Offensive orders ("Go kill yourself", "Shut up")
■Using threatening, harassing, defamatory, hate-speech, or libelous language
■Using race, religion, sexual orientation, culture, ethnicity, handicap, nationality, or gender as a means of insult, either directly or implied
■Insinuations ("Are you stupid or something?") or insults towards family ("Your mom...")
Instead, members should criticize the post, not the poster."

That last line in particular (Criticize the post, not the poster) is pure gold, and I wouldn't mind it being enforced here - or any other forum anywhere for that matter. It's a rule that I follow religiously everywhere I go, and while me criticizing a post can come in different varieties (from "That's not quite correct" to "Wrong." to "Garbage"), you will never see me attack a poster. And I consider that eminently fair, even though I might not always bring flowers to the encounter.

So what's wrong with simply enforcing that? If people still get offended because someone criticized their post (i.e. their beliefs) then I recommend that they grow a thicker skin. Oversensitivity about your beliefs is something we atheists often criticize, remember?




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