Dear Think Atheist Community,
Here at TA, we have two primary goals. The first is to break misconceptions about atheism in general, and the second is to create a little corner in cyberspace where we can socialize.
Behavior of late has run contrary to these two objectives.
Discussions and debates have decayed into personal attacks. Some have been shut down entirely, and that is a pity. If communication stops, so does the exchange of ideas. When we throw off the chains of superstition and magic, we adopt the mindset of rational, logical adults. Please have a look at the guidelines page if you need a reminder. Please step away from your computer if your temper is going to get the better of you. If someone born into a religious home were to come here to explore their doubts, is this really the kind of welcome we want to send? I'm sure it resembles something very close to "The Angry Atheists" among other stereotypes we are attempting to shatter.
Discussions get heated. That is a fact of life, but we are fortunate enough to have delayed-response technology. Posting online isn't the same as having a verbal discussion. There is no tone of voice to convey sarcasm, gentle chiding or teasing. Each letter you type is black and white. This is a difficulty. However, we have the ability to read a post, step away from the computer and calm down before replying. This is a major benefit.
If you ever fear that you are holding up a discussion, simply saying "I need to walk away right now. I'll respond when I've cooled down." is an incredibly mature, reasonable response. It is one worthy of admiration. it will also keep our little space in the internet respectful, friendly and most importantly....fun.
No one will participate in an online forum that is nasty. No one will feel a sense of community unless a community is nurtured. Passionate debates are welcomed, but respectful exchange is mandatory. If you can't perform the second, then maybe this isn't the place for you. Please consider this message as the week unfolds. Remember that we have enough conflict set against us in the real world that we don't need it here.
Debate the idea, not the debater.
I want to thank you for taking my side as a (poor, struggling, striving) author. There is no room in a discussion for calling someone a "fraud" or any other disparaging remark. I am not fully aware of the other issues you describe, and I want you to know that my girlfriend and I are definitely in the pro-woman camp. And if you criticize religion (especially Islam) for its anti-woman behavior, I am in full agreement. Indeed, I could write another book about what I cannot defend about religion. I took the defending religion side mainly because I believe religion offers our culture so much, and it is a direction that no other atheist has taken.
Religion does offer individuals and society many benefits -- but at the same time, like any institution, it has motivated and continues to motivate heinous behaviors, especially towards women.
I hope that the issues addressed with other T/A members are resolved. Being honest here, as much as I attempt to promote controversy with my book and my blog comments, unlike Hitchens and Dawkins and other militant atheists, I can also acknowledge the validity of my opponents' position. Hitchens and Dawkins are intellectual performance artists. I am not even sure they really believe what they say with the vehemence they say it. But I can say that I am not an extremist, and I can tell that neither are you.
I apologize if I DID offend anyone in this thread. And thank you again for sticking up for me.