Comment policy III

AdamDisagreement is welcome. Please don’t call me an idiot.

I admire Less Wrong. Rationalists will have a great deal of fun there, and I earned enough points to post articles. See also RationalWiki. There, I read “to agree to disagree is an expression of contempt”. People capable of rational thought and argument should be able to assess evidence and come to an agreed rational conclusion. Academic debate does not refute this: people craft their papers, which disagree, and continue until consensus emerges. But that occurs over years, not in the rapid to and fro of a comment thread.

One of my themes here is that the concept of God has value. The word “God” is a useful tool to describe human experience. Dogma is not a matter of certainty, for me, but story: what value has the story? The story may not have value, to you, and the Bible might seem an endless series of horrors perpetrated by a bloodthirsty Yahweh, but “this story is valueless” is a matter of judgment and taste in a way that “humans evolved” is not.

I spammed Arkenaten, after more than twenty comments on one post. I was fed up. I won the argument, because he chose the wrong ground, asserting that If you can find a single line of biblical or religious text that clearly shows the character Jesus saying I am God then I will retract my statement. I quoted “before Abraham was, I am”, and unpacked that. He did not choose to argue whether the person Jesus had used those exact words, but accused me of dishonesty in his second comment (though he was too cowardly to make that accusation directly).

So I asked My Atheist Life what he thought about the argument, and he said “Jesus never claimed to be God”. :facepalm: Facepalm. :facepalm:

You will not persuade me that THERE IS NO GOD, or that Christianity is an incorrigible monstrosity. Certainly not in the space of a comment thread. I am Christian because I was brought up Christian, I might not have chosen Quakers had I never been Christian, and still I persist in finding value in it.

I let almost anything through, have felt that courtesy obliges me to reply to acknowledge, and if the commenter comes back I usually give her/him the last word. But WordPress is an open forum consisting of a large number of personal spaces. This is my space.Fallen Caryatid carrying her stone

Wxhluyp wants to persuade me that I transitioned because I wanked too much, and to the wrong fantasies. If you want to see why her/his argument is completely worthless, consider this comment thread. And that one.

I could let things through, and just not engage. My silence does not demonstrate that, faced by the brilliance of your argument, I have caved in. Here, My Atheist Life tells me lots of things, including that my search for value in the Bible is a complete waste of time, a desperate attempt to deny the obvious truth that my Christianity is merely harmful, and that Christian = Hypocrite. Thank you for commenting.

If I delete your comment, it could be a sign that you have got under my skin. If you like, believe that means you have won. By all means, tell me I am wrong, even tell me I am an idiot- but if you comment again on the same post, add evidence or The Burghers of Calaisanother instance, or something. Please do not just keep repeating that I am wrong, an idiot.

Why do you comment on blogs? Why do you comment here?

22 thoughts on “Comment policy III

  1. I comment because I like you- and it’s quite rare that I like people and endure them consistently for more than extremely superficial interaction for any sustained period of time.
    I think you’re entitled to your beliefs- everyone is. In your case they’re benign, so I have no axe to grind.


    • I am honoured. Our friendship can only proceed by reading and commenting, so we read and comment.

      We both have an axe to grind with the homophobic blogs. I comment there to discourage the blogger, by telling them how their views are despised; possibly to communicate with their other readers, knowing they can thwart that by deleting; and occasionally to nudge they in the right direction. A 180° change is not possible, but a 5° change might be.


      • I wasn’t sure what to comment on this, so I have been thinking..

        But Clare, many of us may have an axe to grind with homophobic blogs. Bigots is a perfect and appalling example. I find it unpleasant and quite spooky.

        So please tell me, why, like Pink and many other MAAB, you use the masculine default? If you think you are reclaiming. You aren’t. Do you think it doesn’t matter it does. If you wonder about TERFs, that one example would justify everything.

        Mine not to judge. Just, why Clare?

        Oh, and the links in the post were interesting. I didn’t consider you or Ark won. I also disagree that agreeing to disagree is contemptuous. There will never be agreement between such different views, regardless of the topic. I prefer to find some common ground with people where I can. I prefer them not to argue when they don’t know what they are talking about. That’s why I avoid religion. And the fact that it doesn’t interest me.

        Now Suetonius, who you mentioned earlier is interesting.


  2. I comment on blogs that I enjoy, to let the author know that someone is actually reading and appreciating their posts. I always hope the person I comment on gives my blog a view and a comment, because it’s nice to get some feedback on what you’re doing.


    • Precisely. Feedback is valuable. Blogging is reciprocal. I would love to be The Blogger, with 873 people actually reading every word I write, but it is not like that.

      Welcome, Sarah, and thank you for commenting. I will now pop over to see your stuff. Hong Kong- how exciting! and Interesting!


  3. I find your posts to be a refreshing combination of benign and provocative. I enjoy that mix of erudition and quiet humour.

    You know what you know because of your life and your experience. Therefore, what you know is inviolable, just as that experience of others is inviolable to them. Until, we experience each other, and change just that little bit. Benign change comes from being loving, not from hurling insults. Strange, that these who insist there is no god and that believers of any complexion are idiots, feel they have the right to be so offensive about it. Their atheism doesn’t seem to soothe the savage breast, does it?

    Bless you, forever. XXXX 😀


    • Some atheists feel so blessed by their atheism that they want to share that blessing, in an Evangelical way. Pink gets it: I am entitled to my beliefs, and in any case they are benign. Ark did not get my distinction between believing Christianity and practising it- or not in the way I do- he rubbished it, then went back to talking of my "faith". I have no faith in anything I cannot justify from my own experience.

      Oops, rambling. So I have to allow my commenters to ramble. I have added, above, By all means, tell me I am wrong, even tell me I am an idiot- but if you comment again on the same post, add evidence or another instance, or something. Please do not just keep repeating that I am wrong, an idiot.


  4. I love the sculpture images here. Reminds me of one my parents had, “The Thinker.” I can tell you are a deep thinker and are stimulated by a volley of thought provoking comments. Your policy fosters that!!


    • Oh, well done! They are Rodin. Click on the first, Adam (I think just after leaving Eden) to find an excellent source of free images.

      Welcome, Dianne, and thank you for commenting.
      “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the [woman] who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8). Well, yes.


  5. While it’s a given that there are people who just “Like” a post and don’t really read it, it does not mean they’re not interested or that they haven’t taken an interest in the matter blogged about etc etc…commenting I think is a deed done when there’s enough energy + time about to actually write a comment … to me while I love comments and exchange of opinion on a blog I am also aware that just “Liking” also means that the reader wants the blogger to know: “Hey, I visited you today” etc etc and also that “I liked what I read but am in such a battle with the time that I simply cannot get around writing a comment…” …


      • Know what you mean re “Likes” and I have come across people, bloggers, who feel the same. To me “Like” is valuable because I go from myself: I do not press “Like” if I don’t like what I have read. “Likes” add to the dynamics of blogs I think.


  6. [Clare: extracts from Arkenaten’s long, rambling comment:]

    There are many lines that contradict the I AM one.

    [Clare: pointless and boring, because already answered.]

    But you blog in an open forum…as do I , thus inviting interaction…If you make a statement pertaining to religion then expect it to be challenged by someone.

    [Clare: absolutely, just not with endless repetition. If you want more space, do a post on your own blog, and pingback here if you want.]

    It also allows me to challenge your assertions and ask for evidence to demonstrate the veracity of your claims.

    [Clare: veracity, he says. He really does not get it.]

    If religion is so wonderful and a benefit to humankind then perhaps it is about time its adherents – such as you- started telling the world why and not simply condemning them ( overtly or tacitly) because of some ancient text/s that most believers do not even read let alone understand.

    [Clare: When I tell you its benefits to me, you do not hear. When did I condemn anyone on the ground that s/he was outside Christianity? I condemn Christians freely.]


  7. Agreeing to disagree is a kind of consensus: we do not care so much about this issue that we want to come to blows over it.
    Given the fragmented state of our culture, it is often the best we can do: our big arguments are between competing systems, competing visions of reality, with different points of departure, different rules of logic.
    I think that is why some people so quickly fall into ad hominem argument. They can’t fathom someone else thinking in a different system, so they imagine the source of disagreement is some mental or character defect on your part.


    • The claim that agreeing to disagree is a mark of contempt is based on certainty coupled with a belief that the other will not budge. It could be a mark of respect, instead: we recognise that we do not have time fully to explore this issue, do not have a control-freak need for everyone to agree with me all the time, and that the other’s experiences leading hir to this conclusion have value.

      Eventually I delete the accusation of character defect.


  8. I comment if something interests me or if I feel I have something to add – not necessarily to challenge others views, although there is nothing wrong with having an intelligent discussion about certain things. I think discussions about religion are always the most likely to get heated because it is something that people can feel very passionately about.

    The worst thing about religion is this unwillingness to accept any other view than your own although I can understand that if as a person you allow yourself to question what your own beliefs are (particularly if they are deeply rooted in you from childhood) you can be afraid that it will turn your whole understanding of life on its head and there are many people who just don’t want that. I will stress that when I say religion, I am thinking of atheists and scientists also (although I am sure many of them will not like my view, but I think they are just different belief systems). There are things about many religions that I would question, but I am the type to question everything. I have to agree with the premise that the only thing I can ever know is that I know nothing. Not in terms of religion and the question of human existence. The only things I can truly know are how I feel right now and as I become more experienced in life how certain words and actions are likely to make me feel. There was a time when I did love to tear apart people’s religious beliefs, basically because I thought I was being smart, but I will never forget one day in English class when I tore apart Christianity in a debate with a very religious but very nice young girl. If I met her again, I would apologise, because no matter what my beliefs are I don’t have the right to attack their belief system.

    I have had quite a few Christians like and comment on some of my posts which clearly show some views that are not Christian in nature (I am not sure you could label my religious beliefs, but they are influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism and my belief in the universe could be defined as monist) and they say “although I don’t believe everything you are saying, I really like your writing/description …”).

    It’s one thing to discuss religion, it is another to tell someone that their beliefs are wrong – because none of us know that. If we knew how we got here and why, it wouldn’t be something that would interest me.

    There are so many possibilities – so I listen to other people with interest, I tell them what I think, but I don’t have to convince them that I am right to convince myself.


    • Mmmm. Monism. One must distinguish “stuff monism” from “thing monism”. According to stuff monism there is only one kind of stuff (e.g. matter or mind), although there may be many things made out of this stuff. According to thing-monism there exists strictly speaking only a single thing (e.g. the universe), which can only be artificially and arbitrarily divided into many things. I had not heard the word “Monism”. Thing-Monism gives the ego a bit of a battering- yet seems valuable to me. Thank you.

      Have you read The God Delusion? Scientific materialism makes a great deal of sense. Those who convert to it from fundamentalist Christianity feel liberated, and feel that others who hold to the old faith are enslaved. Professor Dawkins, and Arkenaten, call teaching children such Christianity “child-abuse”.

      I don’t know all human knowledge, and for me Christianity includes many ideas which are helpful in understanding my world. I like Buddhism, but moving into it seems too much like hard work to me- speaking a new language. I speak Christian. It is not, what I believe about God- credo in unum deum, patrem omnipotentem etc- that matters, but what I believe about myself and others. Similarly if I channel Qi for the healing of another (or stand behind her, with my hands out and a glaikit-pious look on my face) and she feels better, that is a good thing.

      Whatever works.


  9. It’s easy to respect you, Clare, because you are smart. I’ve learned a lot from your blog. I don’t comment much because I feel like I don’t have much to add. Instead I take the posts and file them away for slow digestion and analysis–like a snake having swallowed a rabbit whole.

    I think basic respect for others is key to interacting with the world. If we don’t grant each-other basic status as sentient humans, capable of reason then there is no value to conversing. If you aren’t intelligent enough to teach me something, then you aren’t intelligent enough to learn something from me. If, however, I think you are smart enough to understand what I’m trying to say, then you are intelligent enough to have learned things on your own so you probably know things I don’t.

    When someone is rude, insulting, and fails to grant you that basic respect then all they are doing is wasting both of your time. Deleting them opens up time and space for actual productive discourse.

    That being said, I’m an Agnostic. Devout. Orthodox, even. 😉 I do find it curious that Jesus does not say that he is God in Mark (correct my if my biblical scholarship is wrong) and that was the earliest written. My favorite Gospel was John, but that’s probably because it’s the most lyrically written, and I love a good story.


    • Thank you. I love your dating for the perplexed series, everyone here should have a look.

      I found reading the tao te ching that the bits which spoke to me were lessons I had already learned in life, yet seeing Lao Tzu’s expression of them helped cement them in me. He definitely was smarter than I, and better at expression.

      Mark? People suggest Mark 13:6, Many will come in my name and say, “I am he!”[note: or “I am”] or the claim of authority to forgive sins in Mark 2:1-12, but given that in ch 2 he uses the name “Son of man”, an identification as human, I think that is a bit of a stretch, and given that the prophecy of the fall of the temple is thought to have been written after the fall of the temple, he might not have said that. I dunno.


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