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Subject: Never talk about religion or politics rss

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Mario Lanza
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I used to think the wisdom behind this adage was that you might offend someone. That may be part of it, but I now think the wisdom is primarily that in doing so is a waste of time.

In a recent thread where God came up (I'm setting aside politics), the discussion became nothing more than a fruitless debate. I mean, for one, a person coming into it already has his own long-lived convictions. That is, I am happy to concede that a person on either side has already worked through quite a bit of thinking on the matter and has a firmly-rooted belief. So anytime we read some nonsense espousing an idea so contrary to our own we can't help but try to set it right. "How in the world could someone say [think] that?! I mean, honestly, aren't most people generally incredulous to (even disgusted by) ideas that are diametrically opposed to their own?

In a way, it reminds me how hard it is to reconcile being open minded with being convicted of something we are certain is truth. I see again and again that people are generally not open minded (at least in every area of thinking) and I think that's probably okay. I mean it must be all right to have firm-rooted beliefs, lest every debate cause us to reconsider our very foundations. I guess a person who would reconsider his foundational principles anytime someone disagreed would be very instable, indeed.

Anyway, the way these threads go, someone poses his own position or counterargument and the next guy comes along with his. And as I read one post or another, you can often detect a sense of "Aha! I got you on that one, now, didn't I?!" And so not wanting to be one upped there must be a rebuttal. As this goes on, it's clear to me that everyone is still pretty much thinking exactly what they thought when the whole thing ensued. All that's taken place is a bunch of fruitless chatter. The only return on investment is that maybe someone feels some satisfaction in making the debate and feeling good that their own arguments are so intellectually sound. Even as intellectually sound as we might think them to be, the other side never sees it that way. From their point of view, we're just sounding ridiculous.

Now if your time has no value, you're content to do this for as long as necessary to at least win some concession about how brilliantly you've dazzled your opponent with superior logic. And, let's be honest, these threads can go on and on and usually only wind down when the participants get sick of it, sometimes passing along the baton to new debaters arriving late and not yet weary of the discussion.

I guess, part of the point in all of this, is that's discussing religion and politics in these threads seems to me an idle way to pass our time. It's certainly not, in my experience, productive. I mean what is "productive" but winning? Isn't that why most debates go well beyond a reasonable exchange? Aren't we trying (in vein) to change minds and win concessions? And if we are, how are we accounting for our victory points? Is it most thumbs wins? Honestly, I don't think there's an adequate measure in a sort of contest that starts with and has no rules. We might as well be playing Fluxx. Halfway into the game, I decided the winning condition just before I achieve it. Wouldn't that be grand? A real debate with judges, rules, and a timeframe would be something and maybe even something interesting and worthwhile, but these rambling threads where we bicker over beliefs that no one is likely to change... what are we expecting to gain? Are we changing the world or are we just stroking our own egos? Are you finding value in such exchanges?
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Brian Schroth
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Yes, I find value in such discussions. I rarely change my mind, but that's generally because I don't make up my mind on a subject unless I have a good reason to, so it's going to require a pretty something pretty major to reverse that. But discussing things helps me flesh out my own thoughts on the subject. It's often said that the best way to test your knowledge of something is to have to explain it to someone else.
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Boaty McBoatface
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I think what many are trying 'to gain' is to not have the idea that side X is right because side A cannot put forward an argument. It’s the fear that if my side of the debate is not expressed then the other side wins by default. It’s a bit like having an election where only one party fields a candidate. Its also the fact that often one (or both) sides of an argument claim to represent the ‘silent’, ‘disenfranchised’, or whatever excuse you gives to why your side does not receive the respect (read authority) it deserves, and thus its an attempt to demonstrate that there is another side to the debate.

And yes I do find many of them have value. They often force me to check up on things (to verify if I am right), other times they teach me something I did not know. I suspect they are only 'not of value' to those who already know the truth and seek only to convince others of it.
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Chad Ellis
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I've learned a lot from this type of discussion. I haven't become a theist, and I doubt any theist has become an atheist as a result of speaking with me, but since when is winning the point of discussion?

When I discuss religion (or politics) I learn about how other people think -- which includes, as you point out, thinking in ways that are sometimes radically different from my own. You see that radical difference as an indicator of a pointless conversation; for me it is quite the reverse.
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It's not just religion and politics. Perhaps it's more common in those subjects, but not much more (in my experience) for discussions (especially on the internet) to be 'pointless' in terms of convincing people.

But then I got into a huge argument that went on for pages with a guy how insisted that Super Mario Bros 2 was more similar to Super Mario Bros 1 than Super Mario Bros 3 was.

You get the same patterns everywhere. The topic is largely irrelevant.
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Brian Schroth
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BagelManB wrote:
Yes, I find value in such discussions. I rarely change my mind, but that's generally because I don't make up my mind on a subject unless I have a good reason to, so it's going to require a pretty something pretty major to reverse that. But discussing things helps me flesh out my own thoughts on the subject. It's often said that the best way to test your knowledge of something is to have to explain it to someone else.


As an add-on to this, while it's rare (if ever at all) that I change "sides", it's extremely common that I at least modify my stance slightly- either expanding the depth/breadth of my position or outright reversing some aspect of it.
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
I've learned a lot from this type of discussion. I haven't become a theist, and I doubt any theist has become an atheist as a result of speaking with me, but since when is winning the point of discussion?

When I discuss religion (or politics) I learn about how other people think -- which includes, as you point out, thinking in ways that are sometimes radically different from my own. You see that radical difference as an indicator of a pointless conversation; for me it is quite the reverse.


Oh Chad, if only more people were like you! In RSP, you are part of a small minority. It very much is about winning arguments for the rest of them. I'd be lying if I didn't include myself from time to time, though I do attempt to see things from both/multiple sides occasionally as well.

The art of mutual understanding is a lost one. People are too afraid that they might 'lose' if they acknowledge that an opposing viewpoint from theirs is even partially valid. They're terrified that they might somehow cede ground by making an honest attempt to understand their opposition or show any amount of kindness or respect.
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Brian Schroth
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
I've learned a lot from this type of discussion. I haven't become a theist, and I doubt any theist has become an atheist as a result of speaking with me, but since when is winning the point of discussion?


Actually, I got a PM (on a different forum) from a guy I had debated with in ancient times. He said:

"Because I distinctly remember going on a zealotry kick in the debate forum, trying to prove that evolution was Satan's lie. I also distinctly remember you kicking my ass."

He's now an atheist. Sure he deconverted nearly a decade after arguing with me, but I'm totally still claiming credit.
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Mario Lanza
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
When I discuss religion (or politics) I learn about how other people think -- which includes, as you point out, thinking in ways that are sometimes radically different from my own. You see that radical difference as an indicator of a pointless conversation; for me it is quite the reverse.


It's not radical difference that I see as pointless. It's the endlessness of the discussion. Supporting one argument with some principle and then that principle is knocked down by the other side. It feels that each foundational principle is itself subject to debate. As you move from tangent to tangent and you feel that, at every step, the opposition cannot usually connect with any point you're attempting to make, it very much feels that such discussions would demand hours and hours of your time. After devoting 90 minutes or so to defending something you realize that you're not close to "done" because things could potentially go on and on for as long as someone else disagrees on some finer point, which will always be the case.
 
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Mario Lanza
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KissaTaikuri wrote:
In the specific case of religion two people with firm beliefs will not change their minds but a neutral party reading along might be swayed one direction or another.


A valid point. It's one reason I sometime step into the fray.
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Mario Lanza
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KissaTaikuri wrote:
You can't talk about it at work without risking being fired or looked down upon. Just yesterday when asked if I celebrated xmas I said, no. They then asked if I was an atheist. My yes response was met by the entire department's collective audible "aww", followed by the standard,poor lost soul, he's gonna burn in hell type looks and comments of "you're such a nice, smart guy, how can you not believe in god." Experience has taught me not continue these types of discussions at work.


I can understand that. I sorta have the sense that the reverse is true here on BGG, that the believer will more likely be poo pooed. (One recent poll indicated a 3:1 favor in atheism over theism.)

In any case, I appreciate the thoughts expressed so far. I'm interested in reading what makes people tick.
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BagelManB wrote:
He's now an atheist. Sure he deconverted nearly a decade after arguing with me, but I'm totally still claiming credit.


This is the approach I take with why I engage in these online conversations. It's the long view, acknowledging that I don't have any control over peoples thought processes, nor over what might resonate with someone.

Having worked with at-risk populations and children for a couple of decades, it was really hammered home to me not to get sucked into a hollywood illusion that you can manufacture this "movie moment" where you deliver this devestating and/or profound argument to someone, which induces this conversion to your position.

Instead, just respectfully present yourself and then let it do whatever it will do. Perhaps a decade from now your influence will be felt, perhaps not, but don't try and replicate emotional and intellectual conversions you see in a movie.

Beyond that, with internet forums you've gota wider audience. All of the lurkers are reading what you have to say and they are possibly less emotionally invested in the engagement of the argumentsbefore them. Articulate yourself well and be respectful and you may be more compelling than with the person you're debating.
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Boaty McBoatface
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mlanza wrote:
KissaTaikuri wrote:
You can't talk about it at work without risking being fired or looked down upon. Just yesterday when asked if I celebrated xmas I said, no. They then asked if I was an atheist. My yes response was met by the entire department's collective audible "aww", followed by the standard,poor lost soul, he's gonna burn in hell type looks and comments of "you're such a nice, smart guy, how can you not believe in god." Experience has taught me not continue these types of discussions at work.


I can understand that. I sorta have the sense that the reverse is true here on BGG, that the believer will more likely be poo pooed. (One recent poll indicated a 3:1 favor in atheism over theism.)

In any case, I appreciate the thoughts expressed so far. I'm interested in reading what makes people tick.


Is not atheism a form of belife?
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Brian Schroth
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slatersteven wrote:
mlanza wrote:
KissaTaikuri wrote:
You can't talk about it at work without risking being fired or looked down upon. Just yesterday when asked if I celebrated xmas I said, no. They then asked if I was an atheist. My yes response was met by the entire department's collective audible "aww", followed by the standard,poor lost soul, he's gonna burn in hell type looks and comments of "you're such a nice, smart guy, how can you not believe in god." Experience has taught me not continue these types of discussions at work.


I can understand that. I sorta have the sense that the reverse is true here on BGG, that the believer will more likely be poo pooed. (One recent poll indicated a 3:1 favor in atheism over theism.)

In any case, I appreciate the thoughts expressed so far. I'm interested in reading what makes people tick.


Is not atheism a form of belife?


Atheism is a belief the way bald is a hair color.
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Boaty McBoatface
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KissaTaikuri wrote:
mlanza wrote:
KissaTaikuri wrote:
You can't talk about it at work without risking being fired or looked down upon. Just yesterday when asked if I celebrated xmas I said, no. They then asked if I was an atheist. My yes response was met by the entire department's collective audible "aww", followed by the standard,poor lost soul, he's gonna burn in hell type looks and comments of "you're such a nice, smart guy, how can you not believe in god." Experience has taught me not continue these types of discussions at work.


I can understand that. I sorta have the sense that the reverse is true here on BGG, that the believer will more likely be poo pooed. (One recent poll indicated a 3:1 favor in atheism over theism.)


I think that this is only true for RSP. If you take a look at the number of people with christian microbadges they far outnumber people with atheist microbadges. That doesn't take into account the other religions. Atheists are still vastly in the minority. You just hear more from them here because they tend to be more vocal when there aren't the typical societal repercussions to keep quiet. The worst that happens is that someone doesn't want to play a boardgame with me or thinks me an arsehole.

That's not so bad when compared to losing friends or making enemies of people in your neighborhood, or trouble at work.


Or maybe atheist don't need to wear thier ideas on thier sleeve (after all you have to pay to have such a badge). Remember you are far more likely to be pesterds by a Christian on the street then an atheist (and wnat to know why discusions end up being refutation after refutation, people trying to win arguments by saying that we are the silent majority).
 
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Boaty McBoatface
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BagelManB wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
mlanza wrote:
KissaTaikuri wrote:
You can't talk about it at work without risking being fired or looked down upon. Just yesterday when asked if I celebrated xmas I said, no. They then asked if I was an atheist. My yes response was met by the entire department's collective audible "aww", followed by the standard,poor lost soul, he's gonna burn in hell type looks and comments of "you're such a nice, smart guy, how can you not believe in god." Experience has taught me not continue these types of discussions at work.


I can understand that. I sorta have the sense that the reverse is true here on BGG, that the believer will more likely be poo pooed. (One recent poll indicated a 3:1 favor in atheism over theism.)

In any case, I appreciate the thoughts expressed so far. I'm interested in reading what makes people tick.


Is not atheism a form of belife?


Atheism is a belief the way bald is a hair color.


Not according to the theist's here at RSP, who constantly claim it's a belife system.
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Boaty McBoatface
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KissaTaikuri wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
Is not atheism a form of belife?
only if you consider the absence of belief a belief.


As I said its what the Thiests are allways claiming, as such its not a case of belivers being atacked by non-belivers.
 
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Brian Schroth
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slatersteven wrote:
Not according to the theist here at RSP, who constantly claim it's a belife system.


They're also constantly claiming there's an invisible man in the sky who cares deeply about your sex life. Who cares?
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Boaty McBoatface
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BagelManB wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
Not according to the theist here at RSP, who constantly claim it's a belife system.


They're also constantly claiming there's an invisible man in the sky who cares deeply about your sex life. Who cares?


I was making the point that if its a belive system its not a case of belivers being attacked by non-belivers. It may be a case that it's a case if one faith Vs another style of faith, but that is not what was said. Its an example of trying to have your cake and eat it. it's a faith when it suits our argument and its not when it does not suit or argument. By the way I don't think they claim that god is invisible.
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mlanza wrote:


I guess, part of the point in all of this, is that's discussing religion and politics in these threads seems to me an idle way to pass our time. It's certainly not, in my experience, productive. I mean what is "productive" but winning? Isn't that why most debates go well beyond a reasonable exchange? Aren't we trying (in vein) to change minds and win concessions? And if we are, how are we accounting for our victory points? Is it most thumbs wins? Honestly, I don't think there's an adequate measure in a sort of contest that starts with and has no rules. We might as well be playing Fluxx. Halfway into the game, I decided the winning condition just before I achieve it. Wouldn't that be grand? A real debate with judges, rules, and a timeframe would be something and maybe even something interesting and worthwhile, but these rambling threads where we bicker over beliefs that no one is likely to change... what are we expecting to gain? Are we changing the world or are we just stroking our own egos? Are you finding value in such exchanges?


The unexamined life is not worth living.

If you see these conversations as being about 'winning' or 'losing', then you're in the wrong place.

Darilian
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KissaTaikuri wrote:
Darilian wrote:
The unexamined life is not worth living.


I once believed this but no longer feel it's true.

Why?
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KissaTaikuri wrote:
Darilian wrote:
The unexamined life is not worth living.


I once believed this but no longer feel it's true.


Then feel free to turn this off and go back to watching American Gladiators.

I, however, am with Socrates on this.

Darilian

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Darilian wrote:
KissaTaikuri wrote:
Darilian wrote:
The unexamined life is not worth living.


I once believed this but no longer feel it's true.


Then feel free to turn this off and go back to watching American Gladiators.

I, however, am with Socrates on this.

Darilian



What American Gladiators? that will be an intersting show.
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KissaTaikuri wrote:
whac3 wrote:
KissaTaikuri wrote:
Darilian wrote:
The unexamined life is not worth living.


I once believed this but no longer feel it's true.

Why?


Having put myself through the proverbial ringer as far as examination is concerned, I don't see myself any better off than a person who just follows their base instincts without much thought.

With all that I feel I've learned and think that I understand, my perceived accomplishments have left me in the same place as every other animal, plant or even particle in this universe.

My life is no more or less worth living than any other sentient or non sentient being or thing.


Ahh.

A Nihilist.

I mean, what do you want- some magical spirit to rub you on the tummy to tell you that everything is going ok and that you are a special and wonderful snowflake? If you don't even TRY- don't even attempt to live a life that is magical and special, then then that won't happen. Your life will remain what it is.

Sorry to hear that you've given up on the very project of trying to determine how your life has meaning. Truly sad- as everyone is capable of creation.

I literally can't comprehend that form of nihilism- the idea that since everything isn't given to one on a platter, its better to just give up.

Companions the Creator seeks, not corpses. Fellow Creators the Creator seeks.

But if you've already given up, you might as well just turn up your soma drip and await death.

In the end, all that matters is whether or not you have lived your life in sorrow.

Darilian

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Darilian wrote:
KissaTaikuri wrote:
whac3 wrote:
KissaTaikuri wrote:
Darilian wrote:
The unexamined life is not worth living.


I once believed this but no longer feel it's true.

Why?


Having put myself through the proverbial ringer as far as examination is concerned, I don't see myself any better off than a person who just follows their base instincts without much thought.

With all that I feel I've learned and think that I understand, my perceived accomplishments have left me in the same place as every other animal, plant or even particle in this universe.

My life is no more or less worth living than any other sentient or non sentient being or thing.


Ahh.

A Nihilist.

I mean, what do you want- some magical spirit to rub you on the tummy to tell you that everything is going ok and that you are a special and wonderful snowflake? If you don't even TRY, then that won't happen.

Sorry to hear that you've given up on the very project of trying to determine how your life has meaning. Truly sad- as everyone is capable of creation.

I literally can't comprehend that form of nihilism- the idea that since everything isn't given to one on a platter, its better to just give up.

Companions the Creator seeks, not corpses. Fellow Creators the Creator seeks.

But if you've already given up, you might as well just turn up your soma drip and await death.

In the end, all that matters is whether or not you have lived your life in sorrow.

Darilian



Maybe its time for him to go home.
 
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