Saturday, 21 November 2009

Atheists in a pseudo-fundamentalist world

It's a strange thing being segregated. It's even stranger when you consider that I'm 13 697km away from their physical location.

I've mentioned before that I spend time one the CARM Discussion Forums (an apologetics group) however the current turn of events makes me wonder if they are actually apologetics.

I didn't actually spend a lot of time on the "Atheism" section, I found it to be rather dull because the few Christians who were there were either those actively proselytising or just trolling. There may have been a few actually interested in what Atheists do and the likes, but not many.

However, a post from the President of CARM (Matt Slick) changed everything. This is where the post is located. Since registration is required the entire post is reproduced below:
Atheists are now restricted to post only on the atheism (future sub boards) and evolution board.

Super Member Atheists will be permitted to keep current privileges to other forums only until their membership expires and then they will be restricted to the Atheism/Evolution board. Any renewals of Supermembership now/thereafter will be restricted to atheism/evolution board.

More changes are coming.

Why? Trolling.
I suggest you don't argue with me about it or bannings will occur.

So because some Atheists were trolling that means that all of us are to be segregated from the religious people because some Atheists troll.

So we are limited to two sections, the Atheism one, and the Evolution and Intelligent Design one. Now these two subforums are in a section called "Secular". There are 11 sections just there alone. All in all there are 100 main sections, each with varying numbers of sub-sections. Atheists are no permitted to use 2% of the entire forum. But that's ok apparently because according to their vice-president, Diane Sellner (Diane S) who says here:
Important notice concerning Atheists/Agnostics

If you want to debate Atheists/Agnostics/Secular Humanists, you will have to go to the Atheism forum, since they will be restricted to the Atheism forums. We will be making a few sub forums in the next day or so for the Atheists/Agnostics.

They will NOT be permitted to debate on the Apologetics or other forums on CARM but Evo/ID for now. Again, at your own risk, don't expect them all to "play nice" you will have to debate the Atheists on the Atheism forum, copy your last post to them and MOVE your discussions to the Atheism forum if you wish to continue your discussions.

See, they're going to give us some subsections so we can talk about similar yet different issues to the rest of the forum.

I guess the reason they aren't banning us outright has to do with their purpose and scope:
The CARM discussion boards exist for several reasons. First, they are to promote conversation among people with different viewpoints. Second, they are to help train Christians on how to deal with false religious systems. Third, they are to help Christians become better equipped to defend the Christian faith against non-theological systems.
This is apparently to allow conversation among people with different viewpoints. This is because this is an "apologist" site. In order for apologists do do what they do they need to be exposed to other viewpoints. It's a logical approach to take because apologetics requires a person to know what their belief says, and also what others think of their beliefs.

Continuing on:
Because of the nature of discussion and facing false doctrines, this means that Christians will be exposed to anti-Christian arguments from such groups as the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the atheists, the evolutionists,1 etc. Some Christians think that this is a bad idea. They say that it is better to have only a discussion board where Christians can talk to Christians without the intrusion and challenge of the unbelievers. If this is how you feel, then these boards are not for you.

Again they stress the need to have different viewpoints. In a way the ideal of the forum is one that allows apologists from different faiths to do their thing.

But the underlined is the interesting bit. In segregating atheists they are creating a board where Christians can talk to Christians (to be specific I mean all denominations) without seeing a non-theist appearing to put forward their point of view.

Then there is this part of the quite extensive rules:
19. Censorship:
  1. Please feel free to agree or disagree without fear of censorship or ridicule. CARM does not stand for censorship but will enforce requirements of decency per the board rules. You are, of course, free to discourse within the limits of the rules.
Technically their actions actually violate their own rules.

But I can't conclude without saying that I understand that it's a private organisation and I'm at their whims when I agreed to join the forum. It's just that it essentially undermines their purpose.

The fact of the matter is that the atheists there are now caged on CARM. We're there to look at unless you want to discuss things with us.

Unfortunately the few Christians that will appear will be trolls and essentially all Fundamentalist Protestants. To be honest the reason I joined was not to argue solely with those people. When I was able to look around I saw many varied posts from people of different faiths, denominations and from a wide range of religious viewpoints. I learned things about moderates and I've become more tolerant of religious people in general.

Now I can look. I can watch all these people discuss things but I won't be able to ask questions of people who will never venture into the Atheism section. CARM has, essentially, censored the Atheists from their forum but at least they threw us a bone. It might be a crappy bone, but it's a bone nonetheless.

I say this now because of a response from a poster calling himself 1TrueDisciple who said in response to me saying that if he were in charge all the Atheists would be banned:

If I were in charge, there wouldn't even be an atheist forum.

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