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Atheism vs. freethought - an important discussion

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MaesterAuron151

Re: Free Thinking

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Ok lets say logic doesn't bring me to the conclusion that string theory is accurate. Does that mean that since I used logic string theory can't possibly be logical and thus must require blind faith?You seem to think logic is static and that opinions are like equasions. Your understanding seems to be Mind + logic = no godAnd I'll bite you have seen it work out that way many times.You've also seenMind + no logic = godbut then there is as you've admittedMind + no logic = no godLets face it the human mind is not a basic system. You can't compress it to a linear equasion, its irrational.Mind + logic could equal anything because the mind is not a static system and logic doesn't interact the same way in every mind for any given question.
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Chris OConnor

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Re: Atheism vs. freethought - an important discussion

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AsanaQuote:Did I mention that before I realized that God is real that I was an Atheist.You never realized that God is real seeing as God is not real. It would be more accurate to say, "...before I became a believer." Quote:I realized God through extensive critical thinking.Asana, you don't think critically. While I think you're probably a pretty nice person, you're clearly not a critical thinker. Heck, you believe you raised a dog from the dead.Quote:If you are confident about atheism then you should not need to shut out other ideas.I've no intention on shutting out other ideas.Quote:Booktalk can grow to a very viable and profitable company if it is allowed to grow in every direction.BookTalk will never be a business entity and will probably always cost me far more then I take in.PeterDF Quote:I think that it is very difficult for a theist to claim that they are a freethinker (We dont' use the word freethinker in England; we say rationalist). This is because for someone to believe in God they must take a leap of faith, or they must rely on some element of intuitive reasoning to make that claim.Exactly.Quote:By the same token, someone cannot claim to know that there is no god because this also requires a leap of faith (it cannot be proved that there is no god).This is also true. While we cannot know for certain than any and all gods don't exist, we sure can refute well-defined gods and logically inconsistent gods. The Christian deity, as defined in the Bible, just doesn't exist. I would gamble my life with no hesitation that this god is complete fiction.Quote:I should probably qualify the last paragraph by saying that I don't like the word atheist either. The word means no theism and no one else defines themselves by something they are not. For this reason I prefer to call myself a humanist.There are numerous reasons why we should not shy away from the word "atheist." I'll hit on a few of them now.This is a term that people search for frequently when using search engines. If we stick with "freethinker" or even go with "humanist" we are never going to achieve the search engine ranking we deserve. Candy-coating our beliefs (or lack thereof) so as not to upset a certain segment of the population is almost giving in to the theists. And our average daily hits is suffering because "freethinkers" isn't as common of a search term as "atheists." And despite what some people will argue, freethinkers are almost exclusively atheists. Why not reap the rewards of calling ourselves what we really are?Tiarella Quote:Go for it, then, Chris! If the word you initially chose carries a different meaning to others than what you were intending, it's common sense to change it to a word that's closer to what you mean - especially if your word choice is causing you grief.For the first several years we didn't have this problem. But now that we're growing I'm finding myself having to continually define "freethinking" and our mission. It is wearing me out. misterpessimisticQuote:I am behind this proposed change 110% and I would help in any way I can.I appreciate the support. You participating in this thread is what I need right now.Quote:And I do NOT state that ALL atheists are freethinkers.Me neither. I've met many uneducated atheists that clearly don't have a clue about critical thinking. Quote:As for Asana's mention of InfidelGuy's change, I saw that myself and was pissed...but maybe that is MORE reason for booktalk to change! We can attract those members that want to be TRUE to our POV.It sounds like Reginald is going through some very serious personal problems. I am under the impression that he needed to make some sort of change. Did you watch the "Wife Swap" program featuring his family? Reggie's life revolved around his web site and it obviously took it's toll on his personal relationships. I wish him the best and hope he finds balance. Quote:And booktalk was always about atheism, IMO.It was, but we drifted.Quote:Just labled to not exclude...but that brought us Asana, so maybe it is not a good thing.But it also brought us a handful of quality members that happen to be theists. Quite frankly I don't want to lose any of them, but I believe that will be a byproduct of making some of these changes, if we do make them.Quote:Oh, and before I forget, screw you.Come on, Nick, we can't have that sort of talk no matter what we have as a slogan. I know he frustrates you, but you really have to limit the attacks or ignore him. You wouldn't tolerate anyone else saying such things to you.Quote:Lastly...I wish those (EXCEPT Asana) who posted above could participate more here...that would alleviate alot of my frustration for one!I agree.Federika22Quote:To me, a freethinker is someone who is in love with reason, and they are an atheist because reason led them to be.I love how you worded this. Freethought is not necessarily about atheism, but atheism is the only option if you insist on using reason as your only cognitive tool. And this is what freethought is all about - REASON.Quote:Are all freethinkers atheists?YES. To claim belief in a god goes against all reasonable thought and shows a defective or delusional method of comprehension in even some of the most, otherwise, esteemed and intelligent minds.I completely agree. And I might add that not a single theist BookTalk member has ever made even one reasonable argument for why they believe in a god. This is the whole problem. If you cannot clearly explain why you believe in a god then you're not a freethinker. And none of you can. Not one of you - not Mad, not Niall, not Dissident, not Asana, not one of you. Not a single theist on our planet at any time in all of recorded history has made a reasonable argument for belief in a deity. It always 100% of the time winds up with the theist being forced to use the disgusting word "faith." If you have "faith" you are NOT a freethinker. You better be able to explain why you believe in something clearly or you're not a freethinker.Quote:As far as booktalk goes, I would love to see a stronger atheist slant here.So would I. Atheism and the associated areas of science, history and comparative religion are my passion and #1 interest in life. Quote:In society atheists are a minority.Amen.Quote:I also think that keeping general non-fiction, fiction, short-story reads and the like are great for booktalk, and give us a chance at learning different things, enjoying each other, and having a general sense of community.Atheists do need a community.Quote:But when it comes to the theme and goal of booktalk, I think they should definitely be atheist in nature.This is what I'd like too.Sakis Totlis I think there is a chance that you and I live in very different worlds. I'm assuming you're still living in Greece.Quote:To begin with, I think that you should not identify yourself (nor your site) in a negative way (A-theist), because "a-theos" literally means "no-god" and it is a kind of victory for theists, because they have you identify yourself in a negative way and indeed in regard to "god" and to their believes.I don't see anything negative about being an atheist. Yes, I fully understand the etymology of the term. The term exists because it has to exist. There absolutely MUST be a term for those people that either lack the belief in a deity or actually believe a deity to not exist. In the United States we are moving closer and closer to a theocracy, so being passive about our lack of belief is socially irresponsible and downright dangerous. Think about it this way. You and I don't believe in Santa Claus. We understand that this is a myth told to children and as results we know better than to believe. There simply is no reason to have a term to define out lack of belief in Santa as this is a non-issue. Nobody gives a damn about our lack of belief in Santa as no mature and educated adults have such a belief. If we needed a term we might go with asantaclausic. But there is no need.The same doesn't go for belief in a deity. The majority of people believe in a deity and those that don't are in a minority. This minority is attacked and ridiculed by the masses. The majority assigns all sorts of false qualities or traits to the minority. The minority cannot hold public office as the ignorant masses will not vote for anyone not similarly deluded with the god meme.A term HAD to be created to define this small group of people, and the proper term is indeed a-theists. We are "without a belief in a god or gods." You see this as a "negative" term simply because we're forced to define ourselves as "lacking" a delusion. Well, we don't really have much of a choice.Quote:Seems to me that a true a-theist is not one who opposes god, but one who sincerely doesn't care about god, neither about his believers, because he is occupied with some more important issue.I don't care about God. How could I care about something that doesn't even exist? What I do care about is the God delusion. The God delusion has directly contributed to the deaths of millions and millions of human beings over the millennia. In the United States the God delusion is making life not so pleasant for the atheist minority. We must unite and defend our rights. Sitting back passive is not an option, or at least not a wise option.Quote:He may occasionally oppose theists but this is not the essence of his identity.Me being an atheist doesn't mean that atheism is the essence of my identity. I'm also a heterosexual, but my heterosexuality isn't the essence of my identity. And I don't want to occasionally speak up for myself and my rights. I'd like to be a bit more proactive.Quote:On the other hand I realize that there is a true need (or an impulsive urge) to fight falsehood, which theism really is. One way to fight is by being inventive. So, the first thing you should invent is a proper new name for your site other than "a-theism".If we were to invent a "new name" for ourselves we'd die quickly as an Internet community. How would like-minded people know we exist? How would they run their search engine searches and find BookTalk? We currently get a few hundred hits on our home page each day. I'd like to see this increased to a few thousand. We won't ever see this happen if we avoid the term that everyone currently uses when they are searching for "people that lack the belief in a God or gods." We're atheists and we need to be proud of our ability to think clearly. Having the courage to reject the God delusion is nothing to hide.Thanks for posting, Sakis. I just think we're living in very different countries. Atheism or secularism is under attack in this country and I'd like to lend a hand in fighting this unjust assault.
nickelplate416

Re: Atheism vs. freethought - an important discussion

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Quote:Further, I take issue with the notion that faith is the essential dividing line. As I've argued time and again in this forum, all arguments, no matter how logical, are built on a foundation of premises which must be taken on faith, for the simple reason that to continually undergird our premises with further logical elaboration would involve us in a infinitely regressive pattern of thought.I don't see the infinite regress here. Our reliance on logic is not an act of faith; we just happen to have observed that those are the rules under which reality works. We have built entire bodies of knowledge based on that observation. We have evidence that this system "works". It is not a human construct either, as scientific experiments have shown that other species are capable of solving problems - relatively simple problems, but that's besides the point - that involve logic and reasoning. Sure we can't really "break down" the fundamental premises upon which this system is built, but that doesn't mean we are taking them on faith, it simply means that we don't exist outside of reality. Just because I can imagine a non-logical foundation doesn't mean that it exists or worth discussing.
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Re: Atheism vs. freethought - an important discussion

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garickerQuote:Do I think freethinkers can be theists? I used to think so, but I'm less and less inclined to these days. If free thought requires a committment to reason, then the answer must be "no" because god-belief is inherently irrational. I'm prepared to revise that position if and when someone presents me with a god-idea that is rational, but I won't hold my breath.Notice how you readily admit that you would be willing to revise your position if presented with a god-idea that is rational? This is the essence of being a freethinker, so congrats! You're open minded and willing to change in light of new information. I'm not holding my breath either though, but I am boggled as to why none of our resident theists seems to be able to explain their god belief without resorting to using the word faith. How can you claim to be a freethinker if you admit to believing something without evidence or proof?Quote:Do I think changing the name is a good idea? The only negative I can see is that some people who don't believe in gods any more than I do view "atheist" as a label they don't want to wear.We'll lose some people, but we will probably gain plenty to replace those that leave. We cannot be all things to all people. Quote:However, if atheism is understood to be "without god-belief" or "without gods," which is the way I understand the term, then we could probably educate those who are put off by the negative connotations of the word.Maybe that should be one of our explicit goals. There are some misconceptions about atheism that our community could strive to set straight. The same goes for the field of evolution.Quote:That said, I haven't been participating in this forum very long and will be comfortable whether you leave things as they are or make the change you are proposing.We all joined at some point. I'm just glad you're here now and I hope you continue to contribute. TaraQuote:I am in agreement with Peter's thoughts on religious people taking a leap of faith and therefore being disqualified from the label of freethinker.I think this is what this whole issue boils down to.If you believe in a deity because of evidence and reason then present to us the evidence and your reasoning. If your evidence isn't really evidence and if your reasoning is completely irrational then feel free to call yourself a freethinker, but I'm not going to follow suit. Just the claim that you used reason to come to the conclusion that God exists doesn't mean you really did use reason. What if I claimed that my belief in 3-legged levitating Ruffledips was arrived at through the utilization of reason, does this claim make it so?If you believe in God because of faith then you're not, by definition, a freethinker.Quote:I understand the problems with the term atheist. This is a problem we have discussed here in the past. However, other terms (like Brights) have not taken off. I am sure there are many reasons for that, but until another term is widely accepted and used, atheist is the best term.Exactly, Tara. I'm not interested in trying to create a new word. I've got better things to do with my time and energy.Quote:So, in theory, there is no reason to change freethinker for atheist on our site. Yet, if we want to eliminate debates about theists claiming to be freethinkers, changing to an atheist community might fix that problem.And this is where we have to make a decision. If we stay as "the freethinkers' book discussion community" we're going to need to make some edits so that it is crystal clear that we have an agenda, which is to educate people about atheism, critical thinking, separation of church and state, and the scientific method.If we change our name a lot of the confusion is gone instantly. Another benefit to using "atheists" is that this term is searched for probably 10x as much as "freethinkers." We'll get more hits and attract more atheists to the community.Quote:I would support Chris' decision to change from a freethinker community to an atheist community. It would also be ok to leave us as a freethinker community, but define freethinker on the about page and call that the final word on the issue.I appreciate the support and agree with you that it would be nice to hear some more opinions on this subject. I am willing to leave the "freethinker" in our slogan, but I will insist on editing the site to make our community more inviting to atheists. I'll also edit out title tags and metatags so that atheism is more of a focus.MaesterAuron151 Quote:So you believe that it is impossible to come to any conclusions other then your own unless an outside force prohibits them.In some ways...yes. I do believe that you need to reject the belief in a God if you are to be considered a rational person. There isn't one iota of evidence for a God, so the God belief is literally a delusion. If you disagree with me on this I am not willing to consider you a freethinker. In my opinion there is no more evidence for a god than there is for the existence of 3000lb magnetic gerbils operating casinos on the Moon. Belief in either renders you a poor thinker. And don't assume I get some kick out of telling people that they lack critical thinking skills. I'm actually tired of pointing this out. This is why I'd like for BookTalk to start attracting more members that don't lack these skills.Quote:Suppose I said a free thinker couldn't be a liberal because I've arrived at the conclusion that concervatism is the superior political stance through critical thinking.This is an invalid analogy. We're talking about the existence or lack of existence of something. In other words we're discussing an element of objective reality. We're not talking about something that is subjective.Quote:Its popluar to claim that those who disagree with you do so because they lack the same information as you, because they have an alterior motive or any other such dismissal.It is popular because it is often true.Quote:But the truth is the answers we all seek can't ever be found.Bullshit. If you fail to demonstrate to me that 3000lb magnetic gerbils operate casinos on the moon then I have all the answers I need. Oh, I might not have the answer on whether or not these casino operators actually exist, but I have enough information to know that I should reject the belief in them. Anyone who doesn't reject the belief doesn't think effectively. The EXACT same thing goes for your belief in a god. If you cannot show evidence, yet you still believe, you should be ashamed of yourself.Quote:In the end I believe it comes down to a basic instinctual belief.I find this quite disgusting.Quote:Now people don't like to acknowledge the feeble nature of their own opinions.Some of ours aren't feeble.FrankQuote:To come to a solid conclusion without any solid evidence on a subject disqualifies one from the free thinker definition.Well said.LoricatQuote:The word 'freethinking' is more inclusive...and makes me feel welcome. To be honest, I would have come, looked, and left had BookTalk.org been labeled 'atheist'.Yes, but all freethinkers are atheists, so even without the word "atheist" in our slogan you have been a member of an atheist community. I'm thinking of this subject as a Venn diagram with atheism being a big circle representing everyone who lacks the belief in a God or gods. Inside this big circle is a smaller circle, almost the same size as the larger circle. The smaller circle represents "freethinkers'." All freethinkers are atheists, but not all atheists are freethinkers. Those atheists (inside the big circle) that are outside of the smaller circle came to their atheism through adherence to atheist dogma or authority or they are implicit atheists. So changing our slogan from freethinkers to atheists could be considered an expansion as the total population of atheists is greater than the total population of freethinkers. Quote:I realize that there seems to be a need to differentiate oneself in the USA. And fight this overwhelming theism that seems to want to run the country...We really do have a problem with religion in this country. Quote:But one of the things I've admired about BookTalk.org is the core group's ability to (seemingly) accept freethinking, rationalist, humanistic agnostics, and mild theists with only the mildest hiccup.There is no reason this has to change. I have no desire to see this aspect of our community change either.What do I want out of a slogan change?1. I'd like to attract more atheists2. I'd like our web site to get more search engine hits - the word "atheists" is searched for far more often than "freethinkers." More hits = more traffic, members, posts3. I'd like to continually be reading and discussing books that defend and promote atheism and the subjects of interest to atheists. This world is filled with the opposite message and there ought to be a place where atheists can go and feel at home and be surrounded by like-minded nonbelievers. Quote:I'm not the least bit interested in reading & discussing books on atheism. Fortunately, we will never focus exclusively on atheism. That could get a bit boring. I just want to have one book per quarter that is either about atheism or subjects of interest to atheists. Most of what we're discussing in this thread pertains to our "freethinker" selections. garickerQuote:Chris is certainly more than capable of speaking for himself, but my impression is that in changing the name of the group, he is thinking more in terms of identifying a perspective than in confining us to a discussion that is limited to "atheism by atheists."You've hit the nail on the head. I don't want our community to be exclusively about atheism and only open to atheists. But I do want our community to have a clear message and agenda. We currently read two nonfiction books each quarter and one fiction book. Of the two nonfiction books one is supposed to be a "freethinker" book. There appears to be a ton of confusion about what this term means. I'd like to eliminate the confusion.I'd like to continue to read one "general interest" nonfiction book each quarter and then one book either about atheism or about subjects of interest to atheists .
Sakis Totlis

OF FREEDOM AND THINKING

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Chris, I had a new post ready for the name of the site, which I will post right now and I will come back for an answer to your last post on me. If the dilemma is the name of a site, then semantics cannot be ignored nor common sense. Why looking for a new name when we have good old "freethinker"?"Freethinker" is a good positive name and I prefer it to "atheist". So much though I disliked communism and I often argued against it I preferred not to identify myself as "anti-communist." Apart from anything else, it would have been very flattering for communism. As exactly flattering is for a theist to have me identify my site or myself as "atheist".I am a freethinker, which I am sure a theist cannot be, as most participants of this site seem to agree on; as Webster also says it in plain and accurate words: a freethinker is ..."especially one who doubts or denies religious dogma." Do theists "doubt or deny religious dogma"? Dictionaries express the meanings of the words the way most people use them and understand. A word (especially the name of a debating site) should communicate a clear and positive message to all. For most people the term "freethinker" includes the meaning of "atheism" but primarily denotes "freedom" and "thinking" directly and in plain words. I like that. I identify with that with all my heart. Who wouldn't? A theist. Even though a theist may claim to be a freethinker we would all know he is not and we can feel quite confident on that and we can even feel a secret pride that he claims and tries to be one of us. Even more, secretly he will also know that he does not deserve the name. He will be on awkward ground for claiming something he does not deserve, not you or me. In reason we trust, but the bedrock of reason is common sense. When all is said and done the essence of the opposition between theists and freethinkers is that theists try to force upon freethinkers the name of "atheists" and freethinkers try to force down their throats the name "freethinker", which theists do not deserve and they know it and they secretly envy it, because in our times "reason" has the upper hand.I won't abandon this strong stance to play the game on the ground they prefer.Ever since the Renaissance theists have been trying to dress their arguments with clean pure logic, (to fight off strong enlightened minds) but behind the luster of their sophisticated arguments theistic daily practice is impossible to depart an inch away from the Middle Ages. Last month 7/10 and 23/10 both my parents died within 15 days. After many very difficult months of hospital going (doctors, nurses, catheters, water mattresses and all), we started a new cycle of church going for two funerals and other such double ceremonies, because my parents were religious. The churches were packed. The priest told us that it is common practice to have a certain ceremony for the first three days, because, as he put it explicitly, "the soul of the dead is hanging around". Then we had to pay for one more ceremony on the ninth day (because that day "the soul was rising to heaven") and then one more ceremony on the 40th day "because the soul was sitting on heaven". What can theistic "freethinking" say about that?
MaesterAuron151

Re: OF FREEDOM AND THINKING

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Quote:It sure does, but one or both must be wrong, continued testing should be done before a conclusion is made, to come to a belief at this stage is premature.What do you define as belief? In science don't scientists take sides when determining factuality?Quote:However, the testing must be done properly and variations of excepted conclusions must be proven. So often in today's age science has been undermined by pseudo science in articles and other materials that intentionally twist the meaning of scientific findings or leave out important details that affect a conclusion's credibility. Quote:I have yet to see any such evidence for god. There is no evidence being debated.There are several arguments for the existance of some form of diety. Quote:The debate is over what theists want to believe is evidence; but the argument always falls back to the "god of the gaps" or no evidence position.If you know of some type of evidence for god, debated or not, please direct me to it.I recomend you read up on Anthony Flew. He seems like an over all logical person, his choice to become a deist seems entirely independent not influenced by a desire for social acceptance nor an old age fear of death as some have suggested. The most interesting think about him is he was a major secular author for half a century.If Anthony Flew's argument doesn't make sense just keep looking. Do you frequently debate with theologysts and people well educated in the debate?The main arguments for god are: The ontological (this one makes no sense to me) The teleological (thats the one that Flew accepts I find it questionable) The cosmological and The moralNow I'm sure you've debated each of these countless times with countless people. Now I recomend you find some very well educated individuals who have devoted a great deal of study into one or more of these arguments. Remember when you meet a person there's a 1 in 10 chance that he/she is an atheist. Atheists run into theists all the time so they will most likely be quite adept in defending their stance. Theists on the other hand rarely encounter atheists and thus have not developed their debating abilities. It may be that critical thinking is rare in Theists simply because they rarely need to use it to defend their position. It may be that these arguments are all just rubbish, but I find it more likely that the average person just never gave any of them much thought.Oh just a warning if you look online you're going to see a lot of bullshit surrounding these arguments. Try to ignore it because even a lot of the very retarded pages still have some good information. Edited by: MaesterAuron151 at: 11/27/06 12:42 pm
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Re: OF FREEDOM AND THINKING

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Interesting thread this.Honestly, the whole "defining freethinker" discussion is something I'll leave alone. A rose by any other name and all that crap. There are issues I'd have with a few of the arguments being made, but this is not the thread in which to record them.I just want to through out a few thoughts I've been having.First, I'll leave booktalk when it's not fun for me anymore. A name change isn't going to stop me from talking.I don't think that the likes of Asana are going to be deterred from joining because of the name change. In fact, if anything then the increased number of hits will bring both increased numbers of theists and atheists and probably, I'd imagine, a fair few preacher types as well. So I'd advise that the PTB be prepared to police a little more often.Promoting atheism is all fine and well, but I'm not sure how you plan to do this. If I were in your position, I'd consider adding relevant articles and links to stories to the mainpage regularly. The frontpage should be something that people come back to time and time again. Add more resources for atheists, and they'll come back more often, meaning that there's a greater chance that they'd join the board. As it stands, people have to read through long threads before the appreciate the place. If you don't have one, start a mailing list. E-mail links and summaries of various articles that would be of interest to atheists to the list regularly. Also include links to various Hot Topics on the boards alongside the more provocative blurbs.If you're considering change the name, then I'd consider making a general re-launch of the site. Try and get two or three relatively high profile names (no easy task I know, but perhaps some of the past guests might be willing to return if you're re-launching) to help with the relaunch. If you're going to have more members, then try begining chat sessions by including a section at the start where the guest only talks to the discussion leader, who selects questions posed by everybody else there. Not every guest will be familiar with the chatty room format. So a little structuring could put them at ease.If you're going to be discussing atheist books, then try to make them new releases. People would be more interested in reading new books than old ones. Be careful what you wish for. The strength of booktalk as I see it, is that while there are relatively few participants, the posts tend to be of a relatively high standard. More participants means more dross. Full of Porn*http://plainofpillars.blogspot.com
Metaphorm

Re: Atheism vs. freethought - an important discussion

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I became aware of this thread by means of an unusual looking email in my hotmail inbox. Admittedly, my level of participation in this community has dramitically declined in recent months, but I remember when this all began and I remember why. Booktalk exists because there was and is, perhaps now more so than ever, a desire among secular thinking individuals to encounter those of like mind--to exchange ideas and thoughts, to devour book after book after book after book, never slowing down, never stopping, never deigning to breath the miasmic stench of dogma or to gaze into the myopic fog of ignorance because an entire lifetime is not enough to satisfy the hunger that is felt when once you have tasted true flight. True flight, not in the sense of an exclusive, true and correct ideology, particular to atheists or freethinkers or any other categorization of belief, but in the sense of the kind of atmosphere that we long to achieve. It is without a doubt agonizing to burn so desparately for such great heights, to desire minds like diamonds, individuals of character and competence, who would steal fire from the gods if it were withheld, who are sorcerers happily wagering their very souls for knowledge, blasphemous creatures embracing damnation with a grin while pointing to the heavens and softly saying - there are not enough stars.As to the question of which labels we use, I'm not sure that it matters all that much. Since the beginning, I have seen the same old hackneyed debates reanacted again and again in varying degrees of eloquency and humor. To me that suggests a real need for that sort of dialogue. It is how I began to question my own convictions. At the same time, there is also a need for something more, a need to progress beyond the mainstream questions. The biggest obstacle to this, I think, is not the labels but the immaturity and self-importance of the participants. I'm twenty-seven now. I started posting in communities like this, perhaps as early as seventeen. It took me a long time to even understand that much of my behavior was rooted in self-importance--the need to be right, or more intelligent...to prove someone wrong. It's something very prevalent in "intellectual" communities and I still struggle with it to this day. I probably always will. To realize this, I needed the respect of those who disagreed with me and the freedom to be wrong, and a lot of good books. I had to answer the questions on my own or fail on my own...and that's what I did. I think that's what it means to be a freethinker--to respect yourself enough to form your own opinions and to respect others enough to value that quality in them, no matter how crazy their conclusions seem. The craziest beliefs make for the BEST conversation once you are able to get beyond the barrier of self-importance and that's what booktalk is all about--good books, good company, and good conversation.
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The Battle

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Sakis: Question: what should be the positive name of a site that would fight theism yet won't identify itself according to theism?I think this is an excellent question. I think it helps get to the core of Booktalk's mission. I think Booktalk is a refuge for embattled Atheists: a place to build solidarity and gather resources for the greater struggle. The greater struggle is Theistic Hegemony and its sway over politics, popular culture, academics, and its threat to general survival of the planet. Booktalk is a place for Atheist soldiers in that battle to support one another with ideological armor and epistemological weaponry. Freethinking is key to this battle, in that Theistic Hegemony is antithetical to thinking freely or thinking carefully and critically about freedom. Freethinking and Freethinkers are under attack: the weapon is coercive theologies supportive of outdated moral systems, anti-scientific world views, and feudal political structures. These coercive theologies severely limit critical thinking and reduce intelligence to merely conformity and submission to power: they avoid logic, reason and evidence...while imposing faith, fantasy and delusion.Booktalk is an effort to counter these forces of Theistic Hegemony with an alternative way of thinking and describing the world. Booktalk is resistance, is rebellion, is radical, is revolutionary in this sense: it tells the Theistic Hegemon, "Don't tread on Me".And it works to dismantle the Theistic Hegemon: exposing its fallacies, inaccuracies, immorality, lack of scientific justification, logical inconsistencies, outright fabrications, and its long, ugly history of blood and tears...its histories of witch burnings, brutal auto de fes, religious persecutions and bloody wars, assaults on independent minds and movements for social justice and freedom around the globe, and its criminal disregard for the earth and its ecosystems in its delusional promises of heaven.But, what does Booktalk offer as an alternative? What kind of world will arise when Freethinkers are free to think freely?
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Re: The Battle

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I'll respond to the remainder of the posts later tonight. Sakis has some great points and he is causing me to lean towards wanting to keep the "freethinkers" in our slogan, but seed the site with plenty of reference to atheism and agnosticism. The reality is our slogan doesn't effect search engine ranking since it appears embedded in a jpeg image. The search engine spiders don't even see it. For us to attract more atheists we can include the word atheism or atheists in our title tags, metatags and site text as keywords. I'm still hoping for more feedback on this subject. My primary interest is in attracting more atheists AND reading and discussing a book of interest to atheists at ALL times. This means Richard Dawkins is not only fair game, but moves to the top of the list. Dawkins is the leading voice for atheism in the world today and I'd like to forge a partnership with him.
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