Have been an atheist since 14 (now 42). Have been an enthusiastic Bright since shortly after they formed (love the idea, hate the name). However, since there is no Bright's Constituency group around here I have joined the ACA.
About me: Interested in civic action, not "debate" with the religious. Have a large knowledgebase of Christianity (minored in theology in college), a good bit of Islam and Buddhism, and some knowledge of other religions (Wicca, etc). However, I am not really interested in debates with believers most of the time because I tend to know their religious books better than they do. And I'm not out to convert anyone; I just want to see the worldview of non-believers take an equal footing in society. The way to do that is civic action, not wasting time arguing over concepts most people don't have the education (formal or self-education) to understand the issues let alone argue them. (Sadly, this is true on both sides. Astonishes me how often I meet someone who says they "believe" in evolution but can't articulate the most basic principles of evolution).
Anyway, just saying Hi. One recommendation I'd like to add: On the Bright's forum they have a section for newbies to say Hi and tell about themselves, sort of a little introduction section.
There are numerous subjects on this message board that are interesting, but many were interrupted by nonsense from ignorant theists. There are discussions on evolution, string theory etc. A few theists are not rude and do discuss things with atheists without insulting them, but they are few. Most theists do want to make claims, but they want them to go unchallenged, and when they can't support their claims they usually resort to insults.
If the atheists try to discuss things like the attempts to stigmatize atheist, or all the false accusations against atheists that are used to prejudice society against them, they will be interrupted by rude and overbearing theists who claim they don't know any theists who are like that. Then I wonder why I have read so many stories by atheists who had to leave this country to become writers and so forth? I have read stories by atheists who claim they have tried to ruin their lives. But none of these theists are belittling atheists and all the other religions besides their own, and just mentioning the incredible contemptuousness against atheists is persecuting theists.
There are people who do need support because they want to get out, but most theists want to believe because they need the feeling of belonging to something, and they can't stand the idea that some people don't. Any group that allows them the opportunity to take control of the group and set the agenda is making a big mistake. I don't think it is wise to let theist's issues dominate an atheist group. I do think that their unsubstantiated claims should be debunked, but when they are told 'what's real and what's not real' and they just keep on interrupting because someone finally told them off, it should not be tolerated.
When theists debate atheists the theists actually have far more to lose than the atheists, who do not have convictions, and that is why theists become so very hostile when they are challenged. They are vehemently protecting something that they have an interest in keeping going. In many instances it is a system that has favored people because of their piousness and not on their merit. That is why these less than talented people start insulting their opponents when their arguments don't hold water, and when the recipient of their insults retaliates they cry foul. Look how badly you are treating a blameless believer. They are not very smart and that is why they have developed underhanded and cunning traits. Anyone who tries to reason with them is letting themselves in for some very nasty stuff. Some of them get off on playing games, and some of them do infiltrate groups in order to wreak havoc on them. None of them really understand that there is nothing that they could expound upon that would make an atheist sign up. Most of these people have far bigger problems than could ever be addressed by just pointing out to them the flaws in their beliefs. There is no way to rationalize with people who really need deprogramming.
Some of them say they don't have a religion they just believe in God and most of the time that is a lie because they simply have a different interpretation of the Bible; it's still a religion. Some of them do not believe the Christian religion is valid, and they say they believe that it is impossible to know what God is or what God is like, and that is religious agnosticism not atheism. Accepting that a doctrine is flawed says nothing about whether or not that person believes there is a God, and not knowing exactly what a supreme being's attributes are is not atheism.
There are logical people with the ability to use critical thinking and learn something, but when someone tries to converse with them they are often interrupted by religious fanatics who think they have something to say that these people have never heard. Usually if someone posts an interesting topic the religious preaching and blather overwhelms the original point, and these fanatics never get the point. Some people have never heard anything but the religious dogma that was forced on them since birth, and a few of them do want to learn and have learned. These people are important because they need and deserve support, but there is really no reason to try and tell someone something that they don't want to know. They are not interested in learning anything new, and that does have a lot to do with being conditioned to memorize things instead of learning things. They are incapable using logic or listening to anything that rocks their imaginary world. They do deliberately take up valuable time on purpose that could be spent on people who want some answers.
I appreciate the smart people right here who are willing to keep up the good fight against spreading ignorance.
I wouldn't encourage giving out personal information on a message board. We really don't need to know anyone's age or background to discuss subjects, and why would people who are mostly using fake names care anyway. It's pretty easy to determine a great deal about people from what they write about, or don't write about without it. So, I don't' see the point in cluttering up the message board with useless information, and personally I wouldn't give out that kind of information.
If someone is interested in civic issues or any other subject they shouldn't have a problem posting some information, or just inform people about some event.
There are theists who use this message board to proselytize that don't want anyone to disagree with them, but I think they have found out that in fact they have nothing to say that will be undisputed. Theists can't use the message board to spread the same lies that they hear every Sunday without counter-arguments. There are plenty of discussions on this message board by atheists that attests to a rare knowledge of religious history. Wisdom is not essential for regurgitating theology; it's the confutation that requires facts and information. Although, it depends on what university someone attended, but theology and the study of the history and origin of religion are not usually the same things in academia. A person can study theology without having any scholarly knowledge concerning ancient history, languages, archaeology or the kind of education that is necessary to understand the origin of religion. Theology is not necessarily interested in the advancement of this kind of knowledge. In most cases the theologians are being taught things that support their religion. There is no enlightenment through the study of inspired holy books either because studying their origins does not support their claims of truth or authenticity. The real study of religion is finding the origin of the sacred traditions by studying the ancient writings (both secular and religious) and ancient cultural artifacts, but that's not the same thing as learning how to practice a religion, which is what is usually taught in religious theology. Some theologians do look for answers by doing their own research; that often winds up with them leaving the ministry, but most theologians rarely apply sound reasoning to empirical evidence, as the researchers must do when they study ancient people and their religions.
I have found that there are people on this message board who think they know a lot about science who are just well versed in pseudo-science. The people here seem to be quite capable of answering very difficult questions about evolution, and science in general. Even though, to answer the questions you do have to know the difference in pseudo-science and science.
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From the officers:
The ACA Lecture Series continues Sunday, February 4th, 12:15pm at the Austin History Center, 9th and Guadaupe. Chase Hunter will speak on "Inside Scientology 2: the Sea Org". The lecture is free and open to the public. The building opens at noon.