RE: [asa] A caution about the conversation

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Fri Sep 25 2009 - 11:42:28 EDT

Ted told me I didn't violate any rules (not deserving a yellow or red flag), yet I am doing something contrary to the goal of the discussion list.

I think the obvious solution is to make rules, then chastise someone according to the rules if there is a problem. If you can't point to a rule, then it isn't fair to chastise someone.

Ted responded that it would be too difficult to create and maintain such a rule set.

So until then, I think you are inviting controversy because of the subjectivity of the whole thing. Everyone has different opinions as to who should be on the list and what is appropriate or not.

As a leader of an interfaith discussion group myself, I've found that making rules perfectly solves the problem. Supposedly this list is open to people of all belief systems too.

The easiest way to determine rules is to look at current problems, isolate the nature of the problem, then make a rule against it. It could even be very general, like "be respectful."

I would like to be a 'friend of the ASA' because I believe in what you are trying to accomplish... and I'm still learning, as John mentions in his lawyer example below.


-----Original Message-----
From: John Burgeson (ASA member) []
Sent: Friday, September 25, 2009 8:30 AM
To: Ted Davis
Cc: Dehler, Bernie;
Subject: Re: [asa] A caution about the conversation on the "soul" and Christianity

A quick answer, Ted.

It is a poor lawyer who cannot argue his opposers case.

Bernie's agenda, which I share, is to determine the truth or falsity
of Christianity, or at least some aspects of Christianity. I think
personally he has not explored the questions as much as he might --
certainly his arguments for atheism are pretty weak (IMHO). AS are
those of Dawkins,, BTW.

Specifically -- I do see "helping someone make a case against
Christianity" as a useful thing to do. Not because I hold that
position, of course, but for just the opposite reason. Having read a
lot of opposing views, I think I understand how weak the arguments for
atheism really are.

In sum, I do not see Bernie's posts as a threat, but as an opportunity.

Thanks for responding. The fact that we disagree on this does not
lessen our friendship!

On 9/25/09, Ted Davis <> wrote:
> I reply to Burgy's question below. Here it is:
> Do I understand you, Ted, to be saying that there is only one way of
> understanding; that Christianity is that way, and that no dissent from
> that position will be tolerated?
> If that is so, it may be time to leave the ASA. Bernie has given us
> all a lot to think about. I benefit from his struggles, even as I
> don't see my own faith under attack nor being in any danger of
> collapse. If we can't answer Bernie (and others) perhaps we ought to
> retreat into fundamentalism. I won't go there myself.
> My 2c worth. I think your dismissal of Brenie from this dialog is way off
> base.
> ***
> Burgy, as ASA president I note your opinion. I think you have read more
> into my comments than they contain.
> For me as your president, Burgy, it comes down to this: is the ASA
> interested in helping someone to "build a case against Christianity," as
> Bernie stated it? This isn't a question of anyone's right to dissent from
> someone else's opinion, whether or not it has anything to do with
> Christianity. It's a question of what the ASA list is for: to serve our
> members, and I just don't see where Bernie's agenda is consistent with ours.
> Do you disagree with this assessment?
> The specific topic of the thread, and the opinions that Bernie or anyone
> else expressed in it, are simply not the issue for me. And, like you, I
> don't see my faith being threatened here; nor would that be a proper reason
> to make the ruling I did. I simply cannot reconcile our identity and
> mission with helping anyone enhance their case against Christianity. If a
> person follows our conversations (which are public and publicly archived)
> and learns things to use in arguments against Christian faith, that's one
> thing. I might not like that, but there is nothing I can do about that and
> it's really no different from reading published literature by advocates of
> certain views and then arguing against them. That's what free discourse is
> about, and I'm all in favor of free discourse -- including free discourse
> among our members in this forum, as long as the topic is relevant to our
> identity (and the "soul" clearly is). It's a very different thing, however,
> if a person enters into conversation with our members with the specific
> stated goal of building a case against what we represent. That doesn't
> sound like open-minded inquiry, let alone faith seeking understanding. That
> sounds to me like using us to advance an agenda that is directly opposed to
> ours. Am I missing something here, Burgy?
> Ted

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Received on Fri Sep 25 11:43:30 2009

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