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Atheism vs. freethought - an important discussion

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MadArchitect

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Re: Free Thinking

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misterpessimistic: See Chris...Mad agrees! Lets get to work getting rid of all the theists!!!I've always agreed. That's the problem with being an idealist -- it means that you always favor the purity of an idea. If BookTalk really is about providing a bullwark against theism, then you guys would do well to isolate yourselves from theist arguments. I think such a move would be in strong contradiction to the freethought idea that I valued in BookTalk, but it would certainly be condusive to providing an atheist forum untainted by theist ideas. What BookTalk is or was when you and I stumbled on it is really immaterial. It's all a matter of what Chris wants BookTalk to be.
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Frank 013
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Re: Free Thinking

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Quote:Again, historically, it was not an exclusively atheist term. Many of the first people to call themselves Freethinkers were Deists. Deism has its problems as a philosophy, but it's certainly a kind of theism.Yes but it was recently brought back as a more positive term for atheist.Quote:What would be the point, really? As many people on this thread have noted atheist has a negative social reaction and seems uninviting to many people. By adding freethinker it lets people know that other avenues of rational thought are still welcome. Later Edited by: Frank 013 at: 11/29/06 1:44 am
MadArchitect

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Re: Free Thinking

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Frank 013: Yes but it was recently brought back as a more positive term for atheist.When, and by whom? I don't say this to be antagonistic -- I think the history of the term really is pertinent to the questions Chris raised. If we can nail down some specific time or place in which freethinker lost its initial historical meaning and started being used exclusively as a more positive term for atheist, then I for one would like to know about it, and pointing to the actual historical event would go a long way towards stilling the debate going on in this thread. If, ultimately, the answer is that it's this forum, or the administration of the forum, that has reconceived freethinker as a synonym for atheist, then fine -- it has every right to use the term however it likes -- but let's at least be upfront about that.As many people on this thread have noted atheist has a negative social reaction and seems uninviting to many people. By adding freethinker it lets people know that other avenues of rational thought are still welcome.We wouldn't really be adding "freethinker", though -- that's already part of the site's language. We'd be adding "atheist", and if we're not really going to prefer "atheist" contributions to those "other avenues of rational thought", then what's the point of adding it at all? If "freethinker" isn't a synonym for atheist, it at least encompasses atheist though, so why bother emphasizing that fact? And if it is a synonym, then there's no need to play at allowing for theistic thought.Ultimately, all I'm suggesting is that you avoid ambiguity. If you really think theists can't be freethinkers, then either drop the freethinker label, or drop the theists. Otherwise, you're going to run up against this kind of debate on a regular basis.Personally, I think this site has a much better chance at serving a very important social role if it continues to embrace all forms of rational, critical freethought -- and continues to maintain that freethinking is a method, while atheism and theism are conclusions. But it isn't my site, and Chris' convictions are, and should be, the ultimate criteria for how this site aligns itself. Edited by: MadArchitect at: 11/29/06 2:12 pm
Asana Bodhitharta

Re: Free Thinking

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Quote:Personally, I think this site has a much better chance at serving a very important social role if it continues to embrace all forms of rational, critical freethought -- and continues to maintain that freethinking is a method, while atheism and theism are conclusions. But it isn't my site, and Chris' convictions are, and should be, the ultimate criteria for how this site aligns itself.Excellent statement! Now, that's a freethinker!
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A compliment from Asana. It's like getting a kiss from an elderly Aunt who smokes way too much.Or so I'd imagine.
Asana Bodhitharta

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Quote:A compliment from Asana. It's like getting a kiss from an elderly Aunt who smokes way too much.Or so I'd imagine. Don't hate participate!
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Chris OConnor

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There have been so many comments and suggestions. I'm not sure I have the energy to respond to all of them. But I have read and thought about everything presented.Here is where I stand. I'd like to keep the logo as it currently stands. Our slogan can continue to be, "the freethinker's book discussion community." There are some changes that I do want to implement, but they will take time and don't expect much before the end of the year. I'll explain the changes below.Frank, including both terms in the slogan would make our slogan too long. It just wouldn't fit in our header in an attractive way. Right now the slogan is nestled under the URL and it fits nicely right up against the last letter, "G." Also, it flows smoothly right now and would become harder to spit out if it were lengthened.Now, Frank has been making the argument that "freethinker" is almost interchangeable with "atheist" these days. I have to agree with him. But I'm not going to expend the time necessary to "research" the term and justify my thoughts on that subject. I live in the atheist world. I have been affiliated with numerous atheist organizations for decades. I have spoken at numerous atheist conferences and gatherings. Atheists consider the word "freethinker" to be a gentle way of saying, "I don't believe." Just because the origins and history of the word say something else, the point is that these words are almost synonyms today. The key word is "almost." This seems to be what some wish to focus upon. And I can live with this discrepancy. I'll explain more about this later.There are very few atheists that aren't also freethinkers.Those atheists that were indoctrinated with atheist dogma and simply fell for it are obviously not freethinkers. But I'd say this is a really small group of people. These people frustrate me just as much as ignorant theists (not all theists are ignorant) and I have been known to challenge them in vigorous debate. Usually I'll pretend I'm a theist and throw at them the most common arguments us atheists hear. It is humorous to hear these people stumble around.There are very few freethinkers that aren't atheists.Some of our members claim they are freethinkers, yet they have arrived at different conclusions about the god subject than us atheists. Ok, fine. We don't have to debate this any further. We're all entitled to our own opinions. Like most atheists I don't accept the claim that theists have approached the god subject openly and freely. And as the owner of this community I am hereby stating my personal opinion. In my opinion a person has made serious errors in reasoning if they have concluded that a god of some sort exists. There isn't any evidence or logic behind such a belief, so the belief is irrational. And irrational beliefs should not be entertained by freethinkers.If one of you believes goats drive race cars on the moon you are also guilty of stinking thinking. But if you want to call yourself a freethinker have at it. Who am I to tell you what you can call yourself? And I am not trying to drive away the theists who really believe they're freethinkers. I just wish ONE of you would step up to the plate and speak loudly and clearly and explain how you can believe in a god. I won't hold my breath. I already know not one of you is up for the task. Don't feel bad. The Pope would fail at this challenge. And that's my damn point. If you cannot answer such a simple straight-forward question without stuttering and stammering and rambling on about all sorts of irrelevant philosophical principles you need to step back and rethink your beliefs. How the hell can anyone argue that their god-belief is based on reason, yet not have the ability to explain it? If some theists wish to elevate their beliefs and assume the title of "freethinkers" that is their choice. I'll be the first to admit that the theist members we have here at BookTalk are extremely intelligent, educated, articulate and rational. For the most part, our community theists present equally compelling arguments as even our most staunch atheist members...oh, unless we're talking about their god. Then they talk in circles, quote obscure philosophers and attempt to baffle us with emotional bullshit. It truly is humorous at times, but I'm always led back to the cold reality of the real world where believers of one sort or another are beheading believers of another sort. The humor fades quickly.So do we assign the title of "freethinker" to these people - since they're clearly using freethought principles in "most" of their thought processes? And who gave any of us the right to assign or not assign titles? At this point I'm starting to look at it differently. I'm stepping back and trying to form a game plan for 2007. In all honesty I don't want to drive away a single member, but I am also aware that attrition is a part of any online community. BookTalk will survive even if our most active members leave us tomorrow. I'll see to our survival because this place means too much to me.So this is where I stand. I am willing and comfortable with the idea that not all of us are going to agree on what constitutes "freethought" or "clear thinking" or even "reason." Our visitors need to look around and make their own decision of whether or not they would be a good fit with our community. If they believe in gods so be it. I have no intention of making atheism a criterion for membership or respect here. Everyone is welcome to join and enjoy BookTalk, provided they don't break our rules too often.But what I do want to do is start being more true to my own beliefs. I'm an agnostic atheist. I lack the belief in a God or gods. I don't know for a fact that a deity doesn't exist, but I don't see sufficient evidence to warrant the god-belief.I'd like to attract more educated freethinking people to our community. I believe most of them will be atheists because most freethinking people don't believe in imaginary beings. But those that join that happen to believe in gods are welcome to participate fully and with all the same rights and privileges as the non-believers. I plan to start building up the content of our web site. Not the forums, but the actual site. And this is where my own personal beliefs and agenda will come into play. Not everyone has to agree with every decision I make, but I have to start being more honest with myself about my atheism. I do have an agenda and I'm going to allow it to influence this content of the site.I'm not going to spend too much more time detailing my plans or I'll be up all night. But I will explain the big picture. The goal will be to attract non-believers AND freethinking theists. There are many ways to do this so I'll talk about a few.The top priority is going to be building content for the site. This means creating literally hundreds of new pages with quality information of interest to atheists or people interested in atheism and the subjects atheists care about. Was that a run-on sentence?The reason we need content is because we get hundreds of visitors each day, but few stick around, join and participate. We have to give them reading material. We need to be a resource where they come here and get something valuable in return. The longer we can keep them on our site the higher the chances...1.&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp they will join our community2.&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp they will click on our Google AdSense links and earn ad fees for us3.&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp they will have the name BookTalk embedded in their brains4.&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp they will bookmark usRight now we're counting on these visitors clicking on the "FORUMS" link in the top orange link bar and figuring out that we're worth their time. But the only way they will figure out about our quality discussions and content is if they delve into those forums. Yes, some people do dig deeper and these end up as new members. But most visitors hit our Home page and leave within 30 seconds. We need content to keep them here.After researching site design over the past several months I have had an awakening. I now realize that our site has an inefficient hierarchy. Most of the pages on our site are only 1-level below the Home page. Think of the shape of a pyramid. The very top of the pyramid is our Home page. Below that should be a handful of pages
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Chris OConnor

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Re: +

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The way I plan on attracting more atheists is by creating quality content of interest to atheists and freethinkers.I'd like a page called, Atheist & Freethinker Authors. This would be an alphabetical listing of atheist authors. Each link would go to a single page devoted to each author. Bio info would be up top followed by links to all of their books that pertain to atheism, freethought or issues important to atheists and freethinkers. Then again...this page might be better named Atheist Books.
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Chris, along with this, I think it might be useful to develop sound text suggestions for different topics. For instance, if the current reading selection on evolution is generally agreed to be a good study, then it could be included in book suggestions regarding evolution. I think one of the hardest things to do, when exploring a new topic that one is ignorant about, is to find good beginning sources. It would be like the ABCs of "name topic" which could give a handful of solid sources for a neophyte to explore. For instance, I am totally ignorant about science. Where do I begin? Do I read about general biology? Do I (can I) jump right into evolution? What sources should I look at first? You could have topics such as "separation of church and state"; "religion and education"; "logical thinking"; a topic Mad brought up in the thread on faith "secular morality". I'm throwing things off the top of my head, but I think you get the point. This forum could really develop into an authority on atheistic education and exploration.Just some thoughts. I know it would be helpful for me, so assume it would be for others.
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Chris OConnor

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Thanks for those suggestions.
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