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Has answering questions here affected your views on the topic of atheism?

I’ve been answering questions here for a couple of years now, and have a question for my fellow correspondents: do you feel your opinions, on atheism and related topics, have evolved or been improved by your participation here?

In my case, the main change I’ve noticed, to my views, is that I now see the questions as bigger than religion vs, atheism. The irrationality that manifests itself as religion can also lead people to irrational stances on politics or science too, and atheism is but one aspect of my opposition to dogmatism and ideology.

Posted: November 27th 2009

flagellant www

What an interesting question!

Firstly, I’ve been very interested in the replies posted by others on the panel and I’ve absorbed some of their well-reasoned arguments, and their links. Occasionally, I’ve used both in subsequent answers of my own. Answering questions has, I think, helped me to refine my arguments, the better to present them.

I share your irritation with those who peddle and believe in quack medicine, who dismiss science and the scientific approach – largely because they find it too difficult, I think – and people who have 'new age’ attitudes and beliefs. To some extent, these irrational beliefs are on a par with religion and require a similar gullibility. (I recognize that there’s a lot of money in quack medicine, though.)

I have stronger objection to the mainstream religions because they have more influence, and they are more generally acceptable than 'fringe’ ideas. I object to their undue influence on society, on the individual, and on me in particular. In my view, religious people should not be allowed any form of power, nor should they even be consulted about policy. In fact, they should be treated as being part of the lunatic fringe to which we both object.

I look forward to the day when, as well as being denied influence in society, religion is routinely mocked and derided until it truly becomes 'A matter for consenting adults in private.’

Posted: November 30th 2009

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Eric_PK

I think the answer is “not really”, but I spent a lot of time on usenet in the 1990s discussing (and debating) religious belief, and I don’t think I’ve come across a lot of new insights.

I do think that trying to distill your position down can be a useful learning experience.

I am saddened with the quality of questions. In the early days (before the rise of the web), I could forgive a lot of questioners for not knowing things, but it’s clear that many people who ask questions haven’t even spent the time to read the wikipedia article on the topic. Not that wikipedia is the be-all for these areas, but it generally has pretty good information.

Posted: November 30th 2009

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logicel

I have always regarded my atheism as being the least important aspect of my view. However, participating here has given me better handles on presenting that view to others.

Theists, those highly skilled goal-post shifters, are just one kind of person that evades critical thinking. At present, I am also involved in fighting the good fight against alternative medicine.

In both of these cases, my focus is on the lack of evidence, not alternative medicine or theism itself.

There are some writers here that are more parsimonious than myself, and I have learned from them to focus on the core of any argument, not its embellishments.

The research that is required to answer some questions is very welcome also. In addition, it’s great to have a chance to write which affords an important opportunity to hone one’s argument so one is more able to debate on one’s feet in the heat of the moment.

Posted: November 29th 2009

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