Re: [asa] A caution about the conversation on the "soul" and Christianity

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Fri Sep 25 2009 - 16:38:29 EDT

I'm going to have to agree with Ted - and I'm sad to see that Ted's simply
mentioning that there are limits to what is appropriate on this list being
construed as being defensive against "threats", or worse, indicative that we
"can't answer". If I'm ejected from a Council of Secular Humanism meeting
after I repeatedly attempt to proselytize them, it isn't indicative that
they got rid of me because I was threatening, or because I kept bringing up
arguments that they couldn't answer. Maybe it was just an inappropriate time
and place for what I was doing. Hell, maybe I was just plain annoying.

Nor do I think it's evident that Bernie's agenda is "to determine the truth
or falsity of Christianity" - I don't like to engage in psychoanalysis,
whether it's accusatory or defensive of a given individual.

I will repeat something I've said before: Not every gathering of Christians
(even a diverse gathering) has to also have the door wide open to atheists,
or even to non-Christian theists, to come in and argue. Sometimes the
ability to discuss things primarily among people with a common attitude and
shared belief is not only desirable, but very important. Especially online,
it is easy - tremendously, crazily, radically easy - to find outright
apologetics, or atheist v theist interaction, dialogue, discussion, debate,
argument, what-have-you. It's not nearly so easy to find what this list has
right now - a diversity of Christians discussing topics amongst themselves,
from a variety of perspectives yet in union on some (however basic)

On Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 11:30 AM, John Burgeson (ASA member) <> wrote:

> 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
> >
> >
> --
> Burgy
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Received on Fri Sep 25 16:39:40 2009

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