What do Atheists recommend? (Theists too!) [Kill Em With Kindness]

skeptnick
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What do Atheists recommend? (Theists too!) [Kill Em With Kindness]

 Hey everyone,

I'm a Theist, and I'm interested in hosting some sort of get together between Theists and Atheists where both sides can meet, hang out, and talk about the issues at hand in friendly atmosphere where real, edify debate can take place between both sides.

My question to Atheists is this: What are some contexts in which you would feel comfortable getting together and talking to Theists? What type of areas can we speak your language in?

My goal would be to have a place, say a pub or a bar, where believers and nonbelievers could get together, and the voices of both groups would be empowered. Where skeptics would engage believers with real doubts and real problems about faith and religion, and where the believer would be made to feel relaxed enough to clearly think through and spell out his or her reasoning.

I want a context in which anyone can come, show up, and know that, though it would be hosted by believers, the event would really be after dialogue, not propaganda.

Any advice anyone could offer would be a help! Thanks in advance!

 

- Skeptnick


Cpt_pineapple
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What city?

What city?


shelley
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dialogue in a bar? yeah,

dialog in a bar?  yeah, you know we have so many intellectual discussions at our happy hours...

who are you planning on inviting (as in the speaker)?  you could just ask them what setting they would prefer.

 


Hambydammit
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Quote:I'm a Theist, and I'm

Quote:
I'm a Theist, and I'm interested in hosting some sort of get together between Theists and Atheists where both sides can meet, hang out, and talk about the issues at hand in friendly atmosphere where real, edify debate can take place between both sides.

It's an interesting idea, but I have my doubts about its effectiveness.  First, I think it's going to be difficult for you to get a group of theists and atheists who really aren't going to get mad at each other.  The thing is, this debate isn't about finding middle ground.  Either atheists are right or theists are right.  Dichotomies like that tend to produce rather bitter disputes, particularly when each side is pushing for real life changes in politics, economics, science, and law, and each side's changes are abhorrent to the other side.

Second, I think you're going to find that the atheists who are best at refuting theism are somewhat reticent to reduce it to a bar room chat.

Quote:
My question to Atheists is this: What are some contexts in which you would feel comfortable getting together and talking to Theists? What type of areas can we speak your language in?

I'm much more comfortable in an online context, to be honest.  For one thing, I've received too many threats of violence or death from theists to trust any of them enough to spend a lot of time making myself personally available for such endeavors.  A couple of years back, I was working on planning a very public atheist event in my town, and later realized that the security cost and risks were too high and ditched the idea. 

As far as what language we can speak together, that's also difficult because the very heart of the difference between theists and atheists is that we live in different universes.  Belief in a deity requires a fundamental opposition to rational materialism.  Without overstating things, it's safe to say that atheists and theists speak a different language.  The most basic concepts don't mean the same things to you as they do to us.  Knowledge, evidence, proof, validity, faith, logic -- all of these words mean different things to us than they do to you.

For my part, I have to tell you that I view the dialog between theists and atheists as a war of ideas, with all the implications of war.  That's not to say I can't hang out with theists, or that I think they're horrible people.  I don't.  I believe (based on science!) that most people are basically good most of the time.  I respect the fact that most theists simply have no idea how dangerous their beliefs are.  I don't fault them for this.  In fact, I pity theists -- especially American theists.  It's not their fault they were born into the most religious country in the civilized world and indoctrinated by parents who didn't know any better.

As I said, my interest is not in finding common language or making ideological peace.  I want your belief eradicated from the face of the planet.  I desperately want it to remain a war of ideas, as I abhor physical violence.  I need to say that because I have received numerous angry letters accusing me of wanting to kill theists or outlaw religion.  I have no such goals.  I want to promote science and reason so effectively that society transforms, and it becomes patently silly to believe in gods and spirits and demons.

Quote:
I want a context in which anyone can come, show up, and know that, though it would be hosted by believers, the event would really be after dialogue, not propaganda.

As I've said in many other threads, I believe that it takes different approaches to solve a problem as big as theism.  I suppose there are atheists who would be interested in such an endeavor, and maybe through their efforts, a few theists would be exposed to enough reason to give up their irrational beliefs.  I certainly don't want to dissuade you from giving it a try.  I know you believe that such a setting could possibly have the opposite effect, winning a few converts to theism.  You might be right.  I also get that you believe this kind of dialog might lead to some kind of peace between atheism and theism.  As I hope I've made clear, I will be standing in opposition to any such peace.  The two ideas are irreconcilable.

I'm not writing this to try to tell you it's a stupid idea, or to generally harass you.  I'm giving you my honest viewpoint in the hope that understanding my beliefs (and more notably, my fears) will give you a perspective that will help you answer your questions.

If you'd like to know more about my belief in the fundamental difference between theism and atheism, and why it's a war of ideas, read this essay:

Religious Moderation

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
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Wonderist
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skeptnick wrote:What are

skeptnick wrote:

What are some contexts in which you would feel comfortable getting together and talking to Theists? What type of areas can we speak your language in?

No proselytizing. No 'argument from scripture'. All disagreements are resolved by appealing to evidence, not faith or authority.

Quote:
I want a context in which anyone can come, show up, and know that, though it would be hosted by believers, the event would really be after dialogue, not propaganda.

Good luck. I think it will be difficult to find theists who won't, when confronted, resort to either propaganda, or failing that, the old "Well, I just have faith" cop-out.

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skeptnick
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 Hey again,So in terms of

 Hey again,

So in terms of city I'm talking New York City.

In terms of structure, I suppose my initial ideas were to either host sort of a one-on-one style conversation (not debate) where a representative of Atheism and a representative of Theism could get up and interview one another with a moderator who's job was not to ask questions, but just keep the conversation moving if necessary, and then field questions at the end. After which Theists and Atheists would be welcome to stay, hang out, and open it up for discussion.

Or just have an open room, tables, benches, free food, etc. And then pick a topic, could be anything, and people could come, bring their friends and hang out and talk to people one on one or in smaller groups, you know? More of a street-level interaction.

I'm sorry you've received death threats from theists, Hambydammit - holy crap! Well it's okay if you'd rather talk via the internet, seriously, it's not worth risking your life.

I would, however, open the invitation up for more suggestions on this because I think it's something that people would be interested in taking part in.

 - Skeptnick


totus_tuus
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I find my front porch or

I find my front porch or living room to be a nice venue for such events.  My neighbor, a former fundamentalist now agnostic, and I are fond of passing hours there occasionally over cigars and coffee (sometimes we slip a single malt scotch or a snort of bourbon in).  My 18 y/o joined us several times over the summer, the 16 y/o has listened in.  With folks I don't know well, I'd probably forego alcohol in order to avoid inflaming passions too much. 

It's a shame there aren't more friendships between the two schools of thought, agnostic/atheist and theist.  One of the great friendships of the last century was that between G.B. Shaw and G.K. Chesterton.  Shaw thought Chesterton a "colossal genius".  Chesterton called Shaw a "disappearing pleasure" as opposed to a "Coming Peril" (the title of an essay he had written).   Civility like that seems a rare commodity these days.

 

"With its enduring appeal to the search for truth, philosophy has the great responsibility of forming thought and culture; and now it must strive resolutely to recover its original vocation." Pope John Paul II


The Doomed Soul
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natural wrote:skeptnick

natural wrote:

skeptnick wrote:

What are some contexts in which you would feel comfortable getting together and talking to Theists? What type of areas can we speak your language in?

No proselytizing. No 'argument from scripture'. All disagreements are resolved by appealing to evidence, not faith or authority.

No pants... what? thats just me?

 

Anonimity of the internet... is a wonderful thing, and its probably best to leave your idea there Skeptnick, the insurance for a bar full of 2 opposing factions, is a killer

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Plenty of pubs in London

Plenty of pubs in London that were ex churches, I believe you can even get wine/beer in a couple of catherdals these days Smiling

 

 

 


latincanuck
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No offense

But I understand that the history of alcohol and debates is very colourful, lots of red, black, blue and purple. I really never seen a "group" in a bar/pub debate anything A) Coherent, B) in a non violent way. Now one on one sure, 2 vs 2 ok....anything beyond that your asking for trouble. Never mix debates and alcohol....just like alcohol and ex's never a good thing to do.

As for a debate topic, well everyone would have to agree to a specific topic, say the historical facts of the bible, or the moral stance of the church/religion and try not to deviate from it, as well get someone neutral to make sure everyone one stays on topic.


I AM GOD AS YOU
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 I agree with the replies

 I agree with the replies here. I also don't see this idea working as to achieve much, especially not knowing personally the others. Besides atheists win all "god" debates against the religious, as there is no debate. "Man debates god" .... is just silly, unless "g-o-d" is a science word for the unknown, as it is for me. 

I must also say I'm not interested in "debating" the validity of any separatist god idol of worship of any "traditional" theistic definition I now of. I don't "debate" that god and I say religion is obviously wrong. I am quite aware of the religious ideas. I like sci-fi tho.  

Me buzzed to demonstrate - "Me or the highway as that atheistic Jesus would say. I am only interested in telling you theists why you are wrong, and ethically a curse to humanity, because I care. You do not know what you do." etc.

Sure I'm riding the high horse here, but I cannot appease the idiocy of religion. I am not worldly smart or educated, but when I simply sum religion up, it really does suck.

In my personal life I have 5 regular cool xain musical friends who visit very often, and know my vocal atheism. They also know there is no bending nor softening my views. They have certainly softened as I got more interested and vocal on this world religious problem of human nature.

"I am god, and if you are not also god, I am troubled." ....  The innate nature of we humans and therefore our religious inventions of separatism idol worship is a thing to overcome.

As Hamby said, definitions vary. Yeah, and they are subtle, especially on this subject of awe. (( g-awe-d ))   God luck on your path to awaking, understanding the "saving good word",  ATHEISMMost Gawedly it is ....

 

 


skeptnick
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Perhaps I should rephrase

 I have no problem with people who wish to stay home and debate via internet. I have no problem with those who just don't want to meet theists and talk. Let's approach the question more like this:

Say your an atheist who is set on not conversing about religion, skepticism, belief, disbelief, etc., in a public fashion outside of the internet - but you have an atheist friend who is! What advice would you give someone like myself if I wished to host an event that your friend could come to to talk about the issues, and not feel cornered or attacked, but free to address their doubts in a relaxed fashion?

Sure, not all atheists are up for debate, nor is every theist, there are people on both sides who'd rather stay home than come out and talk publicly, and there's no problem with that. My question was simply addressed to and about those atheists who would be.

So again, even if you yourself are not interested in coming out, would you mind at least offering some advice to me on how to better host the atheists who would? Any advice would be great since this is something that is probably going to happen, good idea or no.

- Skeptniick


shelley
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trash the 'debate' idea. 

trash the 'debate' idea.  just have a topical conversation about (insert topic of interest here) and invite a bunch of people.  in a casual setting, i think that would be a much more thought producing constructive event anyway.

btw, you could just call up an atheist group and see if you can co-host something with them?


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skeptnick wrote:... What

skeptnick wrote:

...

 What type of areas can we speak your language in?

...

Any advice anyone could offer would be a help! Thanks in advance!

 

- Skeptnick

A topic on which athiests and Christians are garaunteed to agree, but for interestingly differing reasons, is on the divine claims of every figure outside of Christian umbrella. I have been on the recieving end of a lot of preaching. I would be much less interested in a topic I percieved as preaching, such as the reliability of the bible, or whether the holy spirit gives us moral sense. I would be much more likely to attend a meeting where there is commonality between both parties.  It is less threatening and confrontational to say we believe the same thing, but arrived there different ways, and explain those ways. Another topic for potential agreement would be seperation of church and state, but that is only true if your group agrees that it is important.

For nearly any other controversial topic, you will find the controversy exists within the athiest group. Abortion, gun control, etc, it's impossible to contrast the Christian stance to the athiest stance because there is no coherant athiest stance. As such, we come back to the mostly coherant Christian viewpoint verses a lack of representation (I am assuming here, that you won't give every athiest the same oppritunity to present thier individual viewpoint, as from a group perspective it is unfair), which takes us back to feeling preached to. Those are my .02$. You are welcome to take it for what it is worth.

 


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Hey! I know a big building

Hey! I know a big building that is mostly empty we can meet in. You'll know it by the big tower with a X on it.

 

BTW, I'm in NYC - I'm game.

Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly.
Isaac Asimov