The Religion Forum and You

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Kittamaru, Apr 16, 2014.

  1. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

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    Good morning everyone! In light of recent changes, I figured a good place to start on figuring out how to best help out around this forum would be to find out what you, the members, want this forum to be.

    As we already have a comparative religion forum, which is more focused on the factual history, mythological preface, and comparison of raw fact of religion, it seems only natural that this subforum would be in need of some redress. We (the moderation staff) don't want to see it devolve into a mosh-pit of 'my God can punch your God in the face' style pandemonium... but at the same time we have been lacking a distinct idea of why this subforum exists.

    So, in that vein, I would like to put that question out there:

    What do you want to see happen in/with this sub forum? What can we do to make it a place you enjoy participating in? What goals should we set?

    Obviously there are some basics I would like to try and bring back into play, not the least of which includes simple respect for opposing ideas (note, you CAN respect the idea even if you don't AGREE with it, and you can argue for or against an idea even if you do not actually prescribe to its ideals... being able to do so is simply good debating), but beyond that, well, let me know!
     
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  3. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

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    Takeaways from community thoughts:

    Some wish this forum to be virtually un-moderated, to leave members to their own devices. Others want to see a reduction in personal attacks and general uncivilness.

    it seems the general consensus so far is that this should be a place for discussion of religion, as opposed to the more historical debate that goes on in the comparative religion forum.

    It is apparent that tensions/opinions/tempers run heavy here - as a result, moderation will be a little less strict, and it is advised you take this into consideration when you engage in debate herein; minor insults will be considered with a grain of salt, but egregious personal attacks will be dealt with.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2014
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  5. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

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    Placeholder for conclusion/findings/debate/etc
     
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  7. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

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    I'd like to see a positive discussion about how the various religions can update their teachings to better fit in with the modern world. For example, the Catholic Church's stance on contracepton is unsupportable with 7 billion already on our tiny planet. Consider the challenges facing us: overpopulation, climate change, persecution of various groups including each other, hunger and poverty.
     
  8. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I have noticed that Syne isn't listed as a moderator any longer. I hope that he's still around as a participant though. I always kind of liked his posts, even if I didn't always agree with them. I think that it's important that there be a variety of opinion around here and I'm not comfortable with this forum becoming an exclusive clubhouse for self-satisfied atheists.

    What would I like it to be, ideally? Probably a place that hosts university-level discussions about the philosophy of religion, where 'religion' is interpreted cross-culturally and includes the non-Western traditions.

    And there's the thing. That forum is seemingly just a slower and perhaps slightly stupider version of this one. The reason, as always, is that Sciforums is a layperson's board. It's probably unrealistic to expect Sciforums threads to look like university class discussions.

    I liked it the way it was months ago, before somebody called for more moderation and got their wish. Frankly, in my opinion at least, many of the recent problems here were simply made worse by actions of the moderators. (I'm certainly not including you in that Kittamaru, but I think that with regards to some of the other moderators it's obviously true. And I'm not just talking about Syne.)

    I'm not sure why there are two religion fora either. I guess that somebody, at some point, wanted to separate the grownups' university-level discussions from the incessant atheist-theist battling. Unfortunately, that seemingly didn't work as planned, because there weren't enough people here able to keep the grownup's forum going as intended.

    Regarding the 'mosh pit' thing, I don't see that as a big problem. It's what makes the religion forum one of the more active fora on Sciforums. It's what catches people's attention, gets them emotionally fired up and motivates them to post.

    If I was a moderator, I'd basically let threads go where their participants want them to go. Obviously some threads are going to be rather stupid and perhaps intentionally provocative. Or at least some people will perceive them as being that. That's inevitable.

    The way to address that, and the way to raise the forum's tone, isn't to heavy-handedly close threads and ban participants. I'd only do that rarely, as a last resort, if somebody is being an over-the-top bully (that might earn a warning, and if repeated, a chill-out break) or if some content in a thread represents some kind of legal risk to Sciforums. But it would have to be pretty bad.

    The best way to address juvenile and stupid posts is to post an intelligent and adult reply to them. The kids will either have to raise their game or else they will end up looking stupid and inferior in comparison. It needn't always be the moderators doing that. Sciforums attracts a pretty bright crowd and threads are often kind of self-righting if given a little time. If somebody says something dumb, then somebody else is probably going to subsequently point it out.

    First, I would like to thank you for even asking that question. It's very cool and believe me, it's appreciated.

    Again, I don't think that the 'religion' forum needs a whole lot of heavy-handed moderation. Less is more in most cases. Just an occasional nudge to dial flamers in (and maybe a time out now and then if they don't comply).

    I'd like to see moderators being the 'voice of reason' in threads, to the extent that's possible. But... it's going to be hard for moderators to speak with any special authority on the subject of religion when they've had no special training in the subjects of religious studies or philosophy themselves.

    So perhaps moderators should position themselves as peer-counselors, so to speak, as discussion facilitators as opposed to lecturers. In other words, moderators shouldn't pretend to have answers when they don't and should largely concern themselves helping ensure that everyone has the chance to seek answers for themselves in as friendly, inclusive, thoughtful and inviting an environment as possible. Keeping in mind of course that other people disagreeing with what we say is inevitable and not typically a bad thing at all, and that some passion is inevitable and perfectly fine as well, as long as it doesn't descend into insults and bullying.

    One thing that's really crucial here is that moderators MUST set good examples. They can't be insulting and flaming people, or posting incoherent poorly-thought-out rants, and then turning around and banning participants for doing exactly the same things they do. The board starts to unravel when that happens.
     
  9. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    I don't think it needs too much change from what it is/was... issues of moderation aside. People will raise thread topics as and when the mood takes. That's what all forum are for.
    Not sure there needs to be two fora for it... if Comparative Religion isn't part and parcel of a religious forum, you're cutting out much of the inter-religion debate.

    Personally I'd like to see threads clearly labelled as to whether they are for theist/atheist/both comments, so that not every thread devolves to the "I believe X" vs. "Prove X is true" debate.
    And in the grand ol' theist vs. atheist debate, more about how people tackle things that religions often consider themselves the sole provider of (e.g. moral compass etc) - so not so much of the "you can't prove it", but some comparison of what belief can offer, and how those with lack of belief can also achieve such (if they do) etc.

    I.e. sensible, meaningful debate.

    But to be honest, just some lively and respectful debate would be good, as it should be in all such fora/forums/whatever.

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  10. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

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    Lots to reply to here Yazata, so I'm going to do it in my mod color within the quote just to make sure I don't miss anything

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    Indeed... being the "voice of reason" in a subject so intrinsically tied to personal belief and opinion is difficult... I like to think I am rather good at it (and please, let me know if I'm not!) because of a method of separating myself I've learned to use over the years as a way of dealing with my ADHD and other emotional volatilities. I basically separate my emotional side from my logical side and try to observe the issue from both parts separately - this allows me to, usually, refrain from acting impulsively based on what I believe instead of what is "right" or logical, even when the subject matter is something I disagree with. It isn't perfect, but it tends to work, at least in short bursts lol.

    And that is what I am, ultimately, hoping for; the theological debate that isn't "scientific" enough for comparative religion can become very heated at times, and I hope I can step in and, if not mediate then perhaps soothe it back to a level of reason as opposed to raw emotion

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  11. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    How do you debate myths?
     
  12. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

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    I would handle it somewhat similar to how the Star Trek vs Star Wars thread went down - even in fiction, there is a sort of classification of "fact" that allows for evidence.
     
  13. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

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    Pity no one likes my idea. No abuse, no flaming, just sensible discussion. Still, this is Sf....

    **sulks**
     
  14. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

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    Now now, who said nobody likes your idea? Sorry I didn't reply to it directly mate, though I agree with you wholeheartedly. Ending abuse, flaming, and personal attacks is pretty much my primary goal at this time

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  15. Balerion Banned Banned

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    I don't think we should be expected to respect someone's ideas. Respect isn't a default position.

    When I asked for moderation in the Religion forum, what I was looking for was someone to keep an eye on the flaming and baiting, which was most obvious in the posts of people like jan and wynn (and Syne, ironically). I didn't want an iron-fisted ruler to start demanding we all play nice. This forum operates well when there's room given for a bit of incivility. That's how argument works.

    I've learned my lesson. Asking for anything from this team is futile, because they'll always make the wrong choice, the one that further empowers them at the expense of the rest of us. Just leave the forum as it was. We'll sort it out.
     
  16. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    That's good to a point, except here the Trekkies actually have pointed ears and stuff. They are actually living the script, in real time. With real consequences.

    I have always thought the religion forum here was a place to take the religious pseudoscience away from the science threads, as a sort of overflow. Some of the topics I normally participate in are:

    (1) Christian fundamentalism: why do people interpret myth, legend and fable as historical narrative? What value does the field of exegesis bring to bear in this? What of all of the artifacts which attest to historical facts? What of all the science?

    (2) the Religious Right on social policy: given the commandments from Jesus to take care of disadvantaged people, why does this group work so hard to oppose pubic aid to the needy? What do they oppose amnesty for illegals who would be seriously harmed by deportation? Why do they oppose the rights of mothers to terminate their non-vital fetuses? Why do they care what same sex partners do behind closed doors? Why do they lobby for stiffer penalties for crimes? Why are they opposed to universal health care?

    (3) the Religious Right on science: Why do they oppose the teaching of evolution in the schools, and why do they oppose climate scientists? Why do they sometimes attack science at large, and seek to defund research, or to staff college science programs, or to meddle in the internal policies of government science agencies?

    (4) morality vs ethics: why do religious people find it necessary to inject God into any discussion about ethics? What else is morality but ethics with the metaphysical aspects of God woven in to it?

    (5) created vs evolved nature of the human being: why do religious people insist that the conscious mind is anything more than a direct consequence of biological processes? Why do religious people take the dim view, the people are basically evil and need to be punished/threatened to change? Why do they treat human behavior as something arising from a "devil" or, as they often think of themselves, from "the sanctifying grace of God"? What does anthropology add to this discussion? Biology? Behavioral Science?

    (6) metaphysics and belief: what value does religious metaphysics have in the modern world? How does the adherence to metaphysical ideation differ from superstition? What makes religious metaphysics sacred? How is it different from belief in random ideas, dreams, or fantasies like UFOs? Does God exist?

    (7) epistemology, truth, logic: what constitutes a valid proposition? How does religion reconcile paradoxes and fallacies? Why do religious sites promote pseudoscience and disinformation? How does religion treat evidence? Are the faithful victims of propaganda and manipulation? If so, how does that reconcile against the ethics of religion? What is truth and what is knowledge?

    (8) atheism, intellectualism and humanism: why do atheists reject religion? Do atheists care what religious people think? Why? Do religious people care what atheists think, and why? Does atheism impart any values or ethics? How do these compare with religious values and ethics? What is the central conflict between atheists and believers which is played out in the culture wars? What do religious people think of intellectuals, and why? What is the nature of humanism and how does it compare to the religious notion of charity?

    (9) freedom, law, codes of conduct, and taboos: what is the role of any person or any society in regulating the behavior of others? How does religious law both condemn people and at the same time aid them, rehabilitate them, bring them back into recovery? How do religions do this, what are they doing, what works and what fails? How does religion "do no harm"? How does it balance freedom against restraint? What are religious taboos? Where do they originate? Which ones are obsolete?
     
  17. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    I liked it. I was just busy gathering my own thoughts. In fact what you suggested is like taking the ideas from "what will religion be like in the future" and putting them into present, asking what needs to change now. I think that's perfectly appropriate for this forum.
     
  18. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

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    Balerion, that is a very cynical attitude... though one that is understandable. I would contend, though, that you can be respectful towards a person even if you despise their ideas (assuming of course said ideas do not infringe upon inherent rights or moralities). By respect, I simply mean the basics; no name calling, no flaming, etc.

    I'm not going to demand you play nice, or even request it - in religion, such convictions and opinions are so strong as to make "playing nice" a virtual impossibility... but as I said, respect can still be paid.

    As to it not being a default position... well, that is your opinion, but I feel that to be incorrect. True respect must be earned, yes, the same as trust... but a basic respect should be given as a courtesy to all of fellow man.
     
  19. Balerion Banned Banned

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    What you're asking us, then, is to be respectful of the forum. That, I have no problem with.

    However, keep in mind that even you do not follow the rule of no name calling and no flaming. You're my friend, but I could dig into several threads and find posts--recent ones--where you violate this rule. Same is true of virtually every moderator. It's true of me, and of many posters. So I think the question should be, to what extent need the rules be followed.
     
  20. Arne Saknussemm trying to figure it all out Valued Senior Member

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    First, as one of the few sincerely religious members of these fora, I appreciate the moderators considering the issues and problems of the Religion sub-forum.

    Thank you very much!

    The reason I joined SciForum was to seriously discuss religious topics in a scientific way and vice versa. One way I want this forum to be is for non-believers to butt out of religious and spiritual discussions. Universal netiquette, which seems to go largely unheeded on Sci Forum , dictates that if one does not accept the premise to not participate in a discussion. Every time anyone at all, even a new member with his first post starts a religious discussion anywhere on these fora about half a dozen of the most active members jump on him and tell him that his god is nonsense and that there is no point even discussing whatever religious or spiritually based topic he has brought up because he is in self-righteous and superstitious and has no place here.

    The other change I want to see is the end of Christian and Muslim baiting. Topics such as, 'What will we replace religion with?', 'What religious people do to each other', 'Alternatives to the Crucifixion story' and even 'Bid to boost feminism among Muslim women' are all bald provocation and pathetic cries for attention. How are such topics even allowed? Can no one see that the posters have no interest in serious discussion, and are just trying to get a rise out of believers?
     
  21. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

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    Indeed I am guilty of this especially when I lose my temper dealing with people who predicate ideas on faulty or absent logic. Its a fault im working on. I dont expect perfection from anyone though
     
  22. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

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    Well, since this is, after all, the religion forum, you should pray to your god for forgiveness. And don't forget these things ''''''''
     
  23. Balerion Banned Banned

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    Fair enough. But that's you. This thread is admittedly a question posed by the moderation team, suggesting that more than one mod might be vested in the outcome, and the potentia. Candidates are, to varying degrees, rotten. Which brings me back to my original proposition: Leave us be. We'll sort ourselves out. Well-armed militia, and all that.
     

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