It almost seems like atheists don't want to believe in God. Do you just simply not want to believe in God because you don't want to give up your own free will?

ADMIN EDIT: Mercedes has left ThinkAtheist.com on her own accord. This discussion will remain, however do not expect a response from the author. 

~Dan.

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Read atheistforums.org and see how polite folks are here.

Public debate can be gentle and instructive, or it can be antagonistic - which do you think is more beneficial to all concerned?

The very fact that it is a debate makes it antagonistic on both sides. How antagonistic depends upon the parties.

Apparently we have different debating styles.

There are indeed two debating styles.

The best known style might be named Courtroom Debate. At about the time of the Civil War, lawyers developed it to train themselves to prevail in courtrooms.

A lesser-known style might be named Legislative Debate. I first saw it about about thirty years ago when visiting a San Francisco college prep high school. Its purpose is to train people to function in legislative bodies where the goal is to develop policies. One big difference is that debaters may change sides.

The Repubs in Congress? They flunked the course but didn't let failure stop them.

I don't think I was harsh with her.
I went out of my way to be as nice and patient as i could be.

I can't say I've ever seen you otherwise - if memory serves, you were equally patient with Ariceli.

And that's the whole point.
When we ridicule and attack anyone who comes here just out of curiosity, then we are acting just like the religion they follow. I will answer any theist's questions about atheism, no matter what I think of the question. What happened here was really disappointing. She came here asking a simple question, answered the only way she knew how, and not once told us we are going to hell, or that we are lost souls, or any of the usual bullshit we get from theists. What did she get in return? People jumped at this girl like she was tearing heads off of puppies and juggling with them in front of an orphanage.

This girl, just like Araceli before (whether she was a poe or not) and just like at the time, Jessica (Sarah/Belle) did nothing wrong. They all came here with a question, and while some were respectful and took the time to answer, which I'm sure you all would expect if the role was reversed, others felt the need to attack like a swarm of angry bees in that one R rated Winnie the Pooh movie I imagined... poor Eore.. at least he had reasons to be glum now... and Pooh, ripping those 42 children to pieces for ma-- never mind, THAT was in the Bible. I tend to mix up my stories from time to time.

Anyways, back on topic. People sadly seem to forget that they, or others here were not that much different than Mercedes, or any of the other theists that come here. There is a lesson I learned from a decade of hardcore gaming that I tend to apply to many situations in my life.

Everybody was a noob at one point. Even you.

When they profess to have great hidden knowledge like our ET friend, or Michael, or any of the other comic book characters we get here, and refuse to have a conversation, then it is fine to ridicule, but when the person professes ignorance and wants to know about us, why not just answer and have a discussion? What did we accomplish as a community in this forum aside from scaring away a curious person and reinforcing all the negative things she heard, and will hear about the "hateful, angry atheists."

There is a time to ridicule and poke fun; this was not it.

To the folks that took the time to answer this girl (and others who have been here with simple questions and curiosity) fairly and respectfully, I have put on a hat, just so I can tip it to you now.

To those who attacked this girl, and who attacked Araceli (or anyone else who has come here out of curiosity and who answered your questions to the best of their ability), I really expected better from you.

One of the great benefits of retirement has been NOT being in staff meetings where people ask questions like I am going to ask. They lead to hours wasted saying nothing. But on the off chance it might contribute I will do it. You can shoot me later.

What is the purpose of this forum? Is it to educate visitors? Is it an atheist "only" exchange? Is it to defend against theists? to support those ready to "come out" as atheist? Is it to invent questions like this?

Have you read the "About TA" page?  You may find your answers there.  As far as what the purpose is for individual posters, I suspect the answer is wide and varied.

Now I have. So it is an atheist only website.

It's constructed for atheists - hence the name TA, Matt.  But what we choose to do with it is much more varied :)

I like the idea of providing information to the curious.  I sometimes get a bit frustrated with the adamant theist, but that's just me.

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