Question for Atheist/Skeptic Visitors


Here's a question for atheists and skeptics here.

Suppose you had a chance to tell your story here, to explain your spiritual/non-spiritual journey, what's impressed you about religion if anything, what's seemed wrong to you about it especially in the offline world; and even something about yourself that you think might be of general interest or might add context to what you're saying (if anything) in discussions here. Suppose the point of it all was mutual understanding, and suppose there was a strict moratorium on judgmentalism in response.

Would you be interested?

(I'll be asking the same of Christian visitors later.)

13 Responses

  1. ordinaryseeker says:

    That would be very different than anything I’ve seen here before.

    I might do it.

  2. Ron says:

    I’d be interested.

  3. Tom Gilson says:

    Then go for it! Please send it to me via the contact form so I can format and post it as an OP.

    Ordinary Seeker, if you want to try to get it done by tomorrow you could hit an anniversary date. Your first comment here was on December 10, 2007. I discovered that yesterday when I was looking through some comment history. You probably also commented on the blog system I used to use, but that’s harder to track down; I was using a third-party commenting host then that has since shut its doors. Those comments are recoverable but not easily.

    Anyway, you’ve posted some 334 comments across five years. And this is what strikes me as strange, though it’s a commentary on the medium of online debate, not a criticism of you: I still don’t think we know whether to refer to you as he or as she. (If that ever came up, I missed it, or I forgot.) Where else could actual human beings be so involved in debate without knowing a thing about each other as real people?

    For anyone who participates: as you write, please avoid naming names where they shouldn’t be named, and recognize that I don’t post inappropriate language here. Don’t expect me to post all of these responses at once. Do be aware that this is part of a new effort I’m undertaking to help us recognize that we’re all human beings here. Please try to make it as much a story of yourself as possible, rather than a philosophical essay. (I’m just realizing I need to update my “About” page to accomplish the same thing there.) Feel free to protect your anonymity, but I’d appreciate it if you’d help me test a theory, which is that the more we know each other as flesh-and-blood persons the more likely we are to treat each other that way.

    Once your story is posted, I’m going to strongly encourage others to ask questions, and I’m going to enforce the above-mentioned moratorium on judgmentalism. (I will precede your post with a general disclaimer saying that it doesn’t represent the views of the blog or of Christianity in general, so that should cover that.) The questions people ask you should be for the purpose of understanding you for who you are, rather than something like, “How could an educated person like you come to such irrational conclusions?” which is really just judgmentalism in thin disguise. Of course if you bring philosophical/atheist apologetical topics into your story, those things are open for people to ask you about.

    I’ll repeat these guidelines when your story is posted.

    This is a new thing here and I may make adjustments as we go along, based on what works and what doesn’t. Thanks for participating.

  4. ryan says:

    I’d be interested as well.

  5. Tom Gilson says:

    Please feel free to send it, Ryan. See the note to Ordinary Seeker above.

  6. Sault says:

    I hesitate. All too often when I relate my personal story it becomes an excuse for others to point to events in my life and say “Oh, see, that’s why you’re an atheist!” and completely disregard any intellectual or philosophical reasoning that I have developed.

    I will have to think about it.

  7. ryan says:

    You know, on second thought, I’m not sure about this.

    “…moratorium on judgmentalism in response.”

    So far, I don’t think this audience is quite ready to replace judgement with exploration of personal stories like this. Haven’t seen much empathetic intelligence. Philosophical and logical, yes, but devoid of a human aspect.

    Great idea though. I think I will write this up for myself as a practice in introspection. Would really like a community where this could work.

  8. Tom Gilson says:

    Speaking of judgmentalism…

    If you don’t believe my word on that moratorium, then you don’t believe it, but I’d like you to consider this an opportunity to introduce the human aspect you mentioned.

  9. Sault says:

    …on the other hand, there are many reasons why we believe what we believe, and there are events in our lives which form who we are. It is part of what makes us human. Christians will have a chance to share their conversion stories, so its only fair that we have a chance to share what are often our deconversion stories as well. I may disagree with Tom on many levels, but I take him at face value – I think that his heart is in the right place on this. Sometimes personal stories can be a point from which mutual understanding and respect can be reached; this is something that I have experienced in the past. I’ll write up something and send it in.

  10. Tom Gilson says:

    That would be great. Thanks, Sault.

  11. Ray Ingles says:

    I think I’ll try to do this, newbie though I am. Given that I agree that mutual understanding is kind of crucial, it makes a lot of sense.

  1. December 13, 2012

    […] week I invited atheist and skeptical readers to tell their non-faith stories. The idea was that if we had some idea of the person behind the discussion, we might have a better […]

  2. December 20, 2012

    […] couple weeks ago I invited atheists and skeptics to share their stories here, in hopes that it would help us see one another […]