Thoughts on the Recent Mormon Posts

A while back, I stumbled onto Lindsey Kirth‘s blog and have remained a reader to this day. I think it’s far and away the most entertaining personal blog I read each day.

I asked Lindsey to post on this site because I hoped some of her humor would translate to discussing religion. I had no idea what her religious affiliation was when I asked; it didn’t really matter to me. When she told me she was a Mormon, we talked about possible post topics. I think it was courageous of her to try explaining Mormonism from an insider’s perspective — knowing full well that her beliefs would be thoroughly challenged by readers. Judging from some of the comments, though, many of you didn’t want any part of that dialogue. And some of you are just plain rude. Lindsey let me know she has decided to discontinue any regular sort of posting over here. (Though I may ask her to guest post once in a while.)

As for any deleted posts, all the contributors to this site have the flexibility to post as they wish and control which of their writings are on the site. If they change or delete their postings, it’s their own decision.

Also, I saw this comment regarding my lack of responding to the discussion:

If you have the time to post new items continuously, do you think, perhaps, just maybe, you might respond where your response is actively being requested?

There are a couple reasons I didn’t respond to the posts…

1) I receive all comments people make to my own postings. I don’t receive comments made on posts by Mike, Richard, or Lindsey. Unless I check them out directly, I don’t necessarily keep track of those discussions. It’s something I’ll fix. In any case, I simply wasn’t aware that people were requesting a response from me on Lindsey’s postings. My fault entirely.

2) The other main reason was nailed by Bjorn:

… My guess is that Hemant, who has a full time job teaching kids how to cipher, on top of grad school, has little time to monkey with the day to day of the site, but rather power blog a whole bunch when time allows, and schedules the release of posts for a later time.

That’s pretty much it. Most posts on this site are written the previous night. I don’t do any writing for the site between 5:30 am when I wake up and 5:00 pm when I tend to get home. If any $#!& goes down on this site while I’m teaching, it won’t be addressed till at least that evening (except for a few rare exceptions).

I’m hoping there will be other contributors in the future and the conversations continue :)

It’s still amazing to me that certain things on this site get people so riled up. But I guess that means they’re paying attention, which is not always a bad problem to have in this medium.

  • Spurs Fan

    I would agree that there were many outright rude comments, though I’m certain they were in the minority.

    However, as stated quite some time ago, I wondered by what criteria Lindsey was able to post here, and am still somewhat confused by this. When asked direct questions, Lindey’s answers were well short of being spectacular or different from what we might be getting otherwise. I would argue that this is in contrast to Mike Clawson, who, compared to mainstream American Christianity, has quite a unique and distinct view of his faith and has at leat caused my skeptical mind to ponder concepts previously not pondered.

    As far as Lindsey goes, her writing style and humor are charming and entertaining. Might this be the reason that many were so willing to “be gentle” with her? Would we have been willing to treat this with kid’s gloves if it were a middle-aged, dare I say, average looking male from Salt Lake City?

  • SarahH

    I think this all kind of snow-balled because of curiosity. Lindsey made an introductory post and lots of us had questions about her Mormon beliefs. The rudeness (which I understand was more evident in e-mails than comments, although I saw a few rude ones) didn’t start until the giant answer post, and I think it was a natural reaction for most readers, when encountering anything that sounds like religious apologetics, to tear it down and ask follow-up questions where there were holes.

    I hope Lindsey is alright – and I would hope that no matter, her gender, age or appearance – as getting bombarded on the internet can be extremely overwhelming. But I would like to defend the caliber of my fellow commenters by adding that I think there were very few comments that were out of line. I read other atheist sites, and the readers here were extremely polite compared to say, many commenters on PZ’s site. I think most just had genuine issues with what was posted and were ready to start debating.

  • http://beggarsshotglass.blogspot.com Sue

    I have only just started reading this blog and I did not see the comments on Lindsey’s recent contributions. Sad turn of events.

  • http://goldmineguttd.livejournal.com/ Abbie

    I asked Lindsey to post on this site because I hoped some of her humor would translate to discussing religion. I had no idea what her religious affiliation was when I asked; it didn’t really matter to me.

    You are clearly as good at vetting as John McCain ;-)

    Anyway good to know she herself deleted the posts. I thought a good conversation was starting, but then she acted like a thin-skinned coward. Not an asset to your blog at all.

  • Larry Huffman

    Wow…I take a hiatus from the site and mormon discussions break out? Usually that works the other way around.

    Hemet, the truth is, there are plenty of us ex-mos out here that can discuss the mormon beliefs from an insider stand point…I for one. The point is…you would get a genuine insider view, without the thin-skin of belief. I can hardly blame Lindsey for becoming defensive or apologetic…if she was not bracing for what I would have thought inevitable.

    I managed a yahoo group for atheists for a while, and I would occasionally start mormon belief threads…post regularly about mormon beliefs and then respond to questions and comments. I am no mormon apologist…I hate the mormon church…but not mormons. And I am honest and wanted to tell the truth. Mormonism hardly needs exaggerations and untruths to shoot itself in the foot.

    An interesting thing is, when I was a devout mormon, the real attacks we had on us were from other christians. Atheists just lumped us into fundamentalist, because, in effect we were.

    So…when I began discussing mormon beliefs on my atheist site, I pulled no punches. I laid it all out on the line…and outlined fundamental flaws that I thought really shined a light on it.

    Guess what? I ended up DEFENDING mormonism. Other christians came out of the woodwork to make all of the same wild claims. Mormons sacrifice children or have orgies in their temples…blah blah. Just nonsense…trust me. If any of that shit happened…well, first of all, going to the temple would have been WAY more interesting…and, I would have a field day with that kind of practice now. But for whatever reason, the amount of lies the other christian sects are able to generate against the mormons is outrageous. And I know…the mormon church has and does bring much on itself…well, maybe..but then christians are supposed to be above lies and fabrications themselves.

    I also had a mormon friend who was a good sport and would log into out forum and participate. The atheists were not the ones who ran him off…they just asked questions in a mildly amused sort of “You believe what?” sort of way……it was our christian guests who were our bad citizens. So the mormon got run off of an atheist web site…by other christians.

    I would keep that in mind when passing judgement about what the atheists on this site may have said to Lindsey. I am betting christians who frequent this site took their fair share of shots at her.

    Anyway…if you read this Lindsey, I could have predicted this…you should have been prepared for it. Just know, any negative you got at a personal level is not in any way representative of the majority of this site. Oh, your religion may not fare the same…but most people who participate here would not share those extreme views that caused you issue.

  • http://lindseysrantings.com Lindsey

    She acted like a thin-skinned coward. Not an asset to your blog at all.

    Ah, Abbie! I never knew you cared!
    I just felt I didn’t have the knowledge required to answer some of the questions being asked of me. I’m still just an idiot girl (and a thin-skinned coward!) with nowhere near enough experience (or TIME) to make defending my religion a full time job.

  • llewelly

    As a former Mormon, I found Lindsey’s answers, particularly about the past and present racism of the Mormon church, to be ignorant at best. Growing up in Salt Lake City, in Mormon Sunday school, I was taught, among other things, that many native Americans became white-skinned by repenting and becoming good Mormons. I imagine these things have been ‘cleaned up’ – and the modern Mormon lay priesthood seldom says such things. But many Mormons still alive today were raised on such tripe; up until quite recently, the Mormon prophets were quite explicit on these points. In modern times, the Mormon prophets received new ‘revelations’. But those ‘revelations’ are no justification for engaging in pseudo-history about past Mormon doctrine.

    Lindsey also seemed deeply ignorant of modern archaeology. The book of Mormon explicitly claims the Nephites and Lamanites had not only horses, but camels, elephants, other Eurasian domestic animals, wheeled chariots, steel weapons, and more. Given that wild horses, descended from those the Spanish brought over (as shown by historical, archaeological, and genetic evidence), reached both southern Argentina and southern Alberta by 1600 CE, it is unbelievable that horses brought over by Lehi’s family in 600 BCE would not have rapidly spread throughout the Americas, and left a similarly strong record of their presence. But from about 11,000 BP to 1500 CE, there’s no evidence whatsoever for horses in the Americas. The lack of evidence for steel and wheels – technologies which should be expected to spread – is also quite telling.

    Further – it is a well-recorded historical fact that many Europeans predating and contemporary to Joseph Smith Jr. subscribed to a pseudo-historical belief that a lost tribe of Jews had reached the Americas ahead of Europeans. Likely Joseph Smith encountered this pseudo-historical belief and was inspired by it, much as he was clearly inspired by the KJV bible.

    It’s not surprising Lindsey was challenged by some and treated rudely by others. Literal acceptance of the Book of Mormon is as absurd as young earth creationism.
    Note: I didn’t go into this in the original thread because I was busy that day.

  • http://lindseysrantings.com Lindsey

    Lindsey also seemed deeply ignorant of modern archaeology.

    Yeah, because it’s boring.

  • http://limadean.wordpress.com limadean

    It just seems like the whole thing turned into something reminscent of high school – a blog post gets some (a few? many? there’s no way to know who was a jerk since it’s gone) troll-y comments, the poster gets offended, it gets deleted, the poster says she won’t post again, but then is happy to respond snarkily to other comments.
    Lindsey, you seem like a nice person. But you did decide to quit posting and you can’t blame it all on the trolls – you just weren’t up to the task.
    I understand it’s a hard job to end up defending something you feel really strongly about, but if you didn’t think there would be some tough questions, I’m not sure what you were expecting.
    Good luck with everything and thanks for the posts, while they were here.

  • Maria

    maybe all of Lindsey’s posts weren’t the most scholarly, but some of the comments she got were downright disgusting, and it’s really sad to hear about the emails. people who consider themselves “rational” really should behave better. as far as I’m concerned, some people on here are no better than fundie xtians, and obviously not interested in dialogue of any kind. how pathetic. between these types and the palin types, the future of this county is a scary prospect.

  • Pseudonym

    Spurs Fan:

    As far as Lindsey goes, her writing style and humor are charming and entertaining. Might this be the reason that many were so willing to “be gentle” with her? Would we have been willing to treat this with kid’s gloves if it were a middle-aged, dare I say, average looking male from Salt Lake City?

    I have no idea what Lindsey looks like. I only have a rough idea how old she is because it came up in one of her posts.

    The best thing about the Internet is that nobody knows you’re a dog. Regardless of sex, age or geography, a charming, entertaining person who writes well and with a sense of humour gets more respect than someone lacking in those departments.

    At least, that’s the way I subconsciously acted.

  • http://bjornisageek.blogspot.com Bjorn Watland

    I think that there is a hard distinction between giving respect for an individual and respect for one’s beliefs. Part of the New Atheism is to attempt to rid the world of undeserved respect for religions, but separating that with the person expressing the belief can be hard. After reading The End of Faith, I was feeling really angry at liberal Christians for enabling fundamentalists, the religion and its followers were inseparable to me.

  • http://mylongapostasy.blogspot.com ATL-Apostate

    I have no idea what Lindsey looks like. I only have a rough idea how old she is because it came up in one of her posts.

    Dude, you should check out her blog. She’s pretty hot. Too bad she’s got a boyfriend and I’m married… :-)

    My heart goes out to you, Lindsey. I was savaged on a forum like this many years ago (when I was a professing Christian). I was “defending the faith,” although probably a bit more pompass and rude than you. OK, a LOT more pompass and rude. I walked away from it all, feeling confident that “I was right and they were wrong.”

    Looking back, the innundation with questions from skeptics and atheists actually got me to *gasp* read more about atheism.

    Try to put the personal attacks aside, if you can. And later, when you’re not so pissed off at us, I dare say you’ll revisit the topic again, on your own terms, and maybe, just MAYBE, come to a different conclusion.

    We (atheists) could use someone like Lindsey on our side.

  • http://goldmineguttd.livejournal.com/ Abbie

    I just felt I didn’t have the knowledge required to answer some of the questions being asked of me.

    Fair enough. Rather then deleting the posts, you could have said this.

  • http://ecstathy.blogspot.com efrique

    Actually, I have to say I’m kind of sorry that she has gone. I don’t mind reading stuff I disagree with (if people aren’t disagreeing with me I’m obviously doing something wrong).

    That said, the present outcome umm, … (what’s the word? what’s the exact opposite of surprise? whatever it is, that’s what this is) fails to surprise me, since I felt that this was the likely outcome right from the start. I recall warning of robust disagreement. (Not that all of it was merely robust disagreement – but I guess us atheists get a lot of practice at being abused by people. When people yell in your face that you’re evil and immoral and have no right to express yourself – which has certainly happened to me – nasty emails are mere amusements by comparison).

  • Aj

    I’m sorry but if someone believes in absurd and childish fairy tales I’m going to tell them the merit of such fables. I don’t know about where you come from, but on this blog, people mock stupid beliefs, including Hemant. If anything is to be considered rude then it should be in the context of the community and place.

    If you think the Earth is a few thousand years old you’re not just wrong, you’re wroooooong, by a factor of a million. There wasn’t an Adam and Eve living in the garden riding vegetarian dinosaurs. If this seems genuine to you then I have a theory about pirates and global warming that will be just up your street.

    If you think Native Americans came from Eurasia with Eurasian genes, language, livestock, and technology without retaining any of them with their modern descendents, then let me tell you the equally compelling story of Gulliver, who travelled to a few very interesting new places himself.

    If you think that all the species on the planet were packed into a wooden vessel smaller than the Titanic then have I got some beans to sell you.

  • http://lindseysrantings.com Lindsey

    Don’t you mock Gulliver! He’s kickass!

  • Autumnal Harvest

    Lindsay, I’m sorry to hear that you’re leaving, though I can certainly understand why you would. I enjoyed your posts, and hearing your perspective on things, even though, as an atheist, I rarely agreed with it.

    I think the comments that were really rude were a minority, but they weren’t a tiny minority, and if I was Lindsay, I certainly wouldn’t want to hang around here. For the record, as some people seem confused: No, it’s not that it’s rude to challenge someone’s beliefs, or ask hard questions, or tell someone why what they’re saying is wrong. It’s that it’s rude to be an insulting dick about it.

  • Caerleigh

    Yeah, because it’s boring.

    Lindsey: seriously? I mean, it’s hard to tell sarcasm and humor over the internet, so I really hope you weren’t being serious. Modern archeology may be “boring” (I don’t think it is!) but when one particular nuance of your faith requires some investigation into it, it’s called being informed.

    I mean, I’m reading the Bible. You want boring? Besides all those gory tidbits the Bible is borrrrrrING! But I am an atheist, and part of my atheism is being informed about religions, especially the main one in this country. After I finish with the Bible I’ll know exactly what I’m rejecting – and have some more ammo in the debate against Christianity, if it ever comes up.

    So, boring is not excuse for not being informed! Especially when this is something as important as where you’re going to spend eternity. Seriously, archeology ftw – it played a huge part in my conversion to atheism.

  • Raghu Mani

    This entire episode perfectly illustrates the problem with any sort of dialogue between a believer and a non-believer about religion – particularly the “challenging beliefs” type of discussion. Those typically go as follows

    Believer: I believe X,Y and Z.
    Non-believer: Don’t you see that these beliefs contradict observable reality and are also mutually contradictory. How do you reconcile that?
    Believer: I do, for reasons A, B and C.
    Non-Believer: That’s the biggest load of tripe I have heard in my life!

    etc etc etc

    You could have things reversed – with the believer challenging the lack of belief of the non-believer and the resulting discussion wouldn’t look much different. Regardless of who is challenging whom, these discussions usually take one of two courses.

    1. Everyone stays polite in which case they talk at each other for days on end.
    2. Someone gets rude, the other responds in kind and it all ends with one party stalking off in a huff.

    … and nothing gets accomplished – in the overwhelming majority of such discussions.

    Frankly, I couldn’t care less what Lindsey or anyone else believed and have no interest in either challenging or correcting them unless their beliefs are causing me harm in some way. I am vocal about ID/Creationist beliefs because that could end up compromising my kids’ education. I am vocal about attempts to introduce religion into Government run institutions because they could affect my freedom of belief in the long term. Other than cases like that, I have no desire to constantly challenge someone else’s beliefs.

    It is far more productive to focus on what all of us have in common. Believers and non-believers may differ on religion but can agree on a ton of other issues – and I’d much rather discuss those. I have a ton of friends and family who are believers (belonging to various different religions) and only a miniscule amount of my discussions have anything whatsoever to do with religion. For the most part we talk about our families, the movies we’ve seen, why the Indian cricket team keeps screwing up, how unbearable Hannah Montana is :-), how to salvage something from what’s left of our assets in the stock market and so on.

    Life is much more pleasant that way.

    Just my $0.02 :-)

    Raghu

  • http://amiable-atheist.blogspot.com amiable

    It sucks to get criticized on the internet. And some personality types can’t take it.

    I know I struggle with it and hope it will make me a tougher person in the end(this is not an invitation! lol).

    Perhaps she didn’t really anticipate how hard it would be.

    I agree with whoever said that it is a very thin line between criticizing a person’s beliefs and the person themselves because those beliefs are such a central part of their lives.

  • http://travelfork.blogspot.com/ Sabayon

    Larry Huffman, that’s what I was thinking when I read Lindsey’s original answer post. Why have some one with serious emotional investment in it explain Mormon theology when this site has a number of ex-mormon commenters? I guess the fear is that an exmo might be bitter and therefore biased, but most long time exmos I know, who have had a chance to get some seperation from the church, are pretty reliable and even sympathetic. After all, how inherently and exceptionally ridiculous can you find anything that you yourself once believed in?
    I’ve also found myself defending Mormonism against people who think it involves baby sacrifice, devil worship, or, apparently, young earth creationism. Which is weird for all sorts of reasons. You may be interested in this post on the subject at Main Street Plaza

  • http://tinyfrog.wordpress.com tinyfrog

    Well, I agree with some other commenters – Lindsey’s answers seemed rather “politically correct”.

    She didn’t seem to know about dark skin being a punishment from god, or the deep historical (and theologically-based) racism of the Mormon church. (If the Mormons weren’t racist, as she claims, then why were black people not allowed to serve as priests until a few decades ago?)

    She says that polygamy was sanctioned by God for a while and then was no longer divinely sanctioned (but in contradiction, she says elsewhere that the Mormons gave up polygamy because they follow the laws of the land, and the US had a problem with it).

    She believes that Native Americans were descended from Middle Eastern people – even though genetic studies have shown that Native Americans are genetically related to people from Siberia and East Asia not the Middle East. (In fact, some of the Mormons who were involved in this study left the church because they discovered Mormon beliefs contradicted reality!) Lookup “Genetics and the Book of Mormon” in google. You’ll find information on this study, details about how the Mormon church have back-away from saying that Native Americans ARE descended from Middle-Eastern people (obviously it’s only because their holy book was flatly contradicted by science), plus a lot of weak counterarguments from current Mormons.

    She also seems to believe Noah’s ark actually existed. But, you can figure out from Biblical sources that the flood would have happened around 2350 BC. Guess what? Archeology shows that civilizations existed right through the supposed date of the flood. For example, the Egyptian dynasties go back to 3000 BC. (I have information about this on my website under the title “Creationism versus Archaeology”.) Lindsey’s complaint that ‘archeology is boring’ is unfortunate because it’s important to know whether or not your religious beliefs contradict reality.

    In short, Lindsey’s opinions on these matters are just mirroring the Mormon church’s modern spin on things because the historical reality is embarrassing.

    Second, of course people are going to question Lindsey’s beliefs. If you had someone come and explain that they believe the earth rests on a bunch of turtles, you can’t expect people to nod thoughtfully and “respect their beliefs” by never challenging them. The Mormons have a shakier foundation than most branches of Christianity*, so it’s hardly unexpected that people would challenge them and that she would take take those challenges personally. (*And I say that as someone raised as a Christian fundamentalist, including: six-day creation, Noah’s Ark, speaking in tongues, slain in the spirit, Christian school, Christian college, etc)

  • Spork

    It’s still amazing to me that certain things on this site get people so riled up.

    If you open up your own platform, your weblog, to others, you really ought to read what they post. If you had, you’d understand that the surface-depth responses she provided, the delicate-flower defensiveness, and her generally Polly Anna-ish attitude toward examination of the tenants of her own religion were insulting and not worthy of considered replies.

  • Spork

    I’m still just an idiot girl (and a thin-skinned coward!) with nowhere near enough experience (or TIME) to make defending my religion a full time job.

    Aw, go ahead and be ridiculously defensive, passively aggressive, and throw another strawman onto the fire!

    Lindsey also seemed deeply ignorant of modern archaeology.

    Yeah, because it’s boring.

    It is much simpler to believe in narrative than to examine evidence. You just keep on being blissfully ignorant, you little scamp, you!

  • penn

    Lindsey, You officially lost me with this:

    Lindsey also seemed deeply ignorant of modern archaeology.

    Yeah, because it’s boring.

    It’s that anti-intellectual “science is for nerds” bullshit that’s ruining our country. You’ve clearly invested a great deal of time studying Mormon fairy tales about North American history, so how can the truth be boring? You might as well just say you’re pro-ignorance, just like any run of the mill creationist.

  • Hemant

    Spork — I do read every guest post on this site. I may not comment on all of them, though.

  • Spork

    Then your amazement astounds me.

    Then again, I have little to gain from a thin return on any investment in being excessively friendly to hot little ladies from the intarwebs.

    Do you see what your obsession with being so damned friendly gets you? A weak-minded theist fairy tale believing moron has turned your site into her own personal playground of foolishness.

    Nicely done.

  • http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com Felicia Gilljam

    This is so depressing. Lindsey, couldn’t you just have bowed out gracefully? It’s perfectly ok not to want to take the discussion. I do that too occasionally – sometimes you’re just not up to it. Deleting posts and whining about mean angry atheists just isn’t the way to go (and, like some people are pointing out, your returning here with snarky comments really isn’t helping your case). And Hemant, you should realise this as well. I understand that you feel like you should defend Lindsey, but how about admitting that throwing her to the wolves like this maybe wasn’t the smartest thing to do in the first place?

    Also I seriously don’t get on what grounds some keep claiming that people were being rude to Lindsey. Lindsey may have received some very rude e-mails but as she hasn’t published those we only have the comment threads to go on, and they weren’t that bad. I honestly cannot recall anyone saying anything more rude than “these answers/your beliefs are stupid”. Which admittedly is less rude than “these answers/your belief lack foundation in reality”, but still hardly particularly mean. Considering how extremely nasty and personal some internet debates can be, this was NOTHING.

    I realise I may come off as angry, but really I’m just disappointed. This blog is normally awesome and inviting a Mormon to discuss LDS beliefs seemed like a cool idea and then this happened. :( Hopefully we can all learn something from it.

  • SarahH

    I know this is kind of a shameless plug for the forums here, but I think the format of an online forum is much more adapted for back-and-forth discussion and debate about beliefs than a comment thread on the blog.

    We’ve attracted some liberal and even some fundamentalist theists who’ve been posting for months and have even developed friendships with some of the more outspoken atheists on the forums. No one hesitates to dismantle what they see as unfounded beliefs and some of the discussions get heated and go on for some time.

    What’s different is that on the forum, everybody gets to start threads asking their own questions and everybody gets a shot at voicing their opinions on their own time. I think the fast pace of the commenting after Lindsey’s Q&A post may have contributed to her feeling defensive. I mean, the challenges and comments piled up within hours, and the pressure of feeling a need to respond quickly can be debilitating.

    Another nice thing about the forum is that it provides more room for people to back down occasionally and admit they’ve been rude or made a bad judgment call or are changing their mind based on new evidence. Blog posts come and go quickly enough that not everyone keeps following the comment threads, and within days they’re off the main page.

    For the theists who would like to have deeper discussions with some atheists (and vice versa), I’d really recommend the forums – we even have a topic for those who feel the need to evangelize, and we respond to those topics with challenges, but we do read them and consider them an imporant part of the overall discussion.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Spork:

    Do you see what your obsession with being so damned friendly gets you? A weak-minded theist fairy tale believing moron has turned your site into her own personal playground of foolishness.

    Exaggerate much?

    Felicia Gilljam:

    I honestly cannot recall anyone saying anything more rude than “these answers/your beliefs are stupid”. Which admittedly is less rude than “these answers/your belief lack foundation in reality”, but still hardly particularly mean

    IMHO, it’s the other way around. The latter just says that the beliefs are very wrong. The former further suggests that the one holding those beliefs is dumb.

    Sabayon:

    guess the fear is that an exmo might be bitter and therefore biased,

    That’s not the only issue. Ex-mos aren’t insiders, but rather former insiders, and their perspective isn’t going to be the same as that of a Mormon. An ex-mo wouldn’t have written what Lindsey did. I think the fact that Lindsey wrote what she wrote, flaws and all, was educational. Not flattering to Mormons, certainly, but educational.

  • http://www.ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    The way I see it, you guys don’t deserve Lindsey. (or Richard or Hemant, for that matter…) (now Mike, that’s different story – haha just kidding, Mike!)

    She has more heart and brains (and especially sense of humor) than many of you combined. I’ve said it here before, and I’ll say it again – For a group of people who claim open-mindedness as one of their strengths, you sure make me scratch my head sometimes.

    Go ahead, build your walls and be your own elite group. I think there’s something to be said for the phrase: “The dirt always looks dirtier on someone else.”

  • penn

    Linda, please explain who/what comments you are referring to. Who is building up an elite group? Most of the complaints have been about the poor blog etiquette shown by Lindsey by deleting the answer post and significantly altering the second post without explanation. Others have shown fairly typical skepticism about unsubstantiated claims made by the Mormon faith. I would really like to know who you are referring to.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Dan Florien

    Thanks for clearing things up, Hemant. I’m surprised by some of the rudeness here, but that’s one of the occasional consequences of anonymous communication. I have mixed feelings about this whole thing.

    Lindsey, sorry about the rude comments and it sucks to hear mean people emailed you. I hope you didn’t find my comment (on the deleted post) rude — I was merely trying to challenge some of the ideas you presented.

  • http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com Felicia Gilljam

    J.J. Ramsey, of course you’re right. I meant MORE rude, not less. Sorry about that…

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    Hemant, I’m sorry but I think this incident was your fault. Right here:

    I asked Lindsey to post on this site because I hoped some of her humor would translate to discussing religion. I had no idea what her religious affiliation was when I asked; it didn’t really matter to me.

    So it’s true that you just picked a random person to be a guest-blogger. Someone you like, someone you think is funny, but a random person nonetheless. Well now you know: the typical person can’t really handle a discussion about religion on the internet. Lindsey is not thin-skinned, she is just normal. It’s a tough world in the atheist web, even on the Friendly Atheist.

    I’m not saying you should have foreseen this, but just– just be more careful, please.

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    Lindsey said:

    Yeah, because it’s boring.

    So are a lot of general education subjects you will have to take in school. Be prepared for lots of boring subjects on your way to getting your degree in criminal psychology.

    As for your bowing out here, Felicia said everything I would say already. If you do decide to guest post here in the future, then keep all of this in the back of your head. It will help prevent a repeat and increase your credibility on this site.

    Good luck with all of your endeavors.

  • bob

    I haven’t read all the comments, just no time right now, but I would like to say, as a former bible believing Christian (of 25 years) I used to invite the Mormon missionaries in when they came to my door. They were young and dedicated, far more dedicated than the Christians I fellowshipped with. We would sit and talk for hours, them trying to convince me that Mormons were Christians, and me trying to convince them that they were not “true Christians”

    Now, as an atheist, I view Mormons as “true Christians”. I view any person who honestly believes they are a Christian, to be a Christian.

    Personally, I know rudeness is never necessary. It is not an useful tool in the area of dialogue. No one has ever come to accept the validity of my argument because of insults I hurled at them.

  • http://www.ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    Who is building up an elite group?

    Penn,

    Thank you for challenging me. It prompted me to print out this whole thread and read it more closely while having lunch on my deck. It’s an absolutely beautiful fall day in Virgina! I really needed that break.

    I was going to address every single comment and give you my feelings on each, but I decided that would not be productive. (And I need to get back to work sometime today.) :-)

    Other than Maria, ATL-apostate, efrique, Autumnal Harvest, Dan Florian, and Raghu Mani (a class in his own), every other comment was ignorant at worst, dismissive at times, and generally brimming with air of superiority. I’m not sure about Miller’s comment, but knowing him from his previous comments elsewhere, I believe he’s not being dismissive.

    That’s 7 comments out of 37, with 7 of them not really applicable, which leaves 23 that I find less than friendly or intellectually snobby. (The numbers may be off slightly, but you get my point.)

    Please keep in mind that I’m just reporting how things look from my perspective.

  • Larry Huffman

    I think anyone who feels that an ex-mormon cannot give a truthful and explorative description of the mormon beliefs is flat wrong. Isn’t that more a matter of the person’s integrity and ethics (will they lie or exaggerate to make their point) than their current status?

    I could teach all of you mormonism as if I were a true believer. The only difference in my perspective is that I no longer believe. True…that does mean my commentary would be slightly different…and I certainly would not get all bent out of shape and lash out or leave the fray.

    So…the actual passion behind the commentary would be different…but the actual beliefs…including how it feels to believe those things, would be genuine and worthy of the discussion.

    AND…you would get a lot more. For example…Lindsey is NOT going to talk about her temple endowments…she cannot, she has been told they are sacred and not to be shared. I was told the same thing…I think differently now. I can describe the temple proceedings in great detail. I can also tell you that, even as an ex-mo, I have never found a place as sweet and serene and peaceful as the celestial room in a mormon temple. That is not bias and hatred, that is honest opinion about something that was very important in my life for many years…33 to be exact.

    Lindsey is NOT going to have any real ability to discuss things such as the adam/god theory or the King Follett sermon. Those concepts go against her charge to be true to the brethren…meaning leaders. Mormons tend to steer well clear of some of the meatier topics that people on these sites are going to want to discuss. She is not going to engage in any in-depth discussions about underwear…because again, that is too closely related to the temple to give someone the full account…and lets face it, everyone wants to know about the underwear.

    I think it impossible for non-mormons to get a really good, impartial and complete view of the mormon doctrine from a mormon. There is too much they cannot discuss or do not want you to know, because mormons view all non-mormons as potential mormons, and so do not want to be the one to let a piece of difficult doctrine slip and cause you to not be interested. The instructions about the temple endowments, for example, up until a couple of decades ago, included the person making a blood oath not to let any of it slip. basically the person saying they would submit to death if they told anyone. hehe. I would have to be killed hundreds of times over…good thing I determined that I made an oath with a fictitious being. Might as well have made the oath to Bilbo Baggins as well as god…he is just as likely to hold me to it.

    When missionaries talk to potential members…we had a phrase we used (I served two mormon missions, a full time and a stake mission later in life…and also served on a bishopric for some time…fyi)…give them milk before meat. Really what this means is…if we tell people everything about our doctrine, they will not ever join. So certain things are mentioned briefly if at all…the person is brought into the church and then given further instruction. The strategy is…once they belong and have made friends and find a nice welcome atmosphere…they will be more ready to accept some of the less attractive or more controvertial points of doctrine. Well…members feel the same way…and so you can have real disconnects with mormons in a discussion. Things will be moving along, and suddenly they are not being very informative, because you are crossing into sacred or controvertial territory…and most mormons will avoid that. That is not to be discussed until you are a member, and therefore have the holy spirit to help you understand the issue better…yadda yadda.

    Mormons are also poorly prepared to defend their doctrine. Most of the controversy about mormonism is completely kept from them. They are taught that to study what the world says about the church is not productive, and that is what Satan wants…to distract the good mormon from their more positive studies of doctrine. So when you ask them about something tough…they will give you unsatisfactory answers…and then usually rely on the passion of their testimony to convince you. This results in emotional outbursts and usually them running off, as Lindsey did.

    I agree 100% that there are ex-mos out there who would be terrible to learn from…they will be biased and not give you the real story. That is that individual’s ethical approach to the information, however, not merely because they are an ex-mo. Many of us, however…those of us who believe that the doctrine as it stands is enough to shoot the church down, have no problem being completely, even brutally honest about being mormon. I lived it my entire life…loved it…served it…and fought like hell to not lose my faith, though I did. I believe that I (and many ex-mos) can speak about the church honestly and openly, without misleading. I could explain the mormon doctrine in a completely truthful way…a way that Lindsey could not argue with at all, and yet it shows clearly the flaws and errors in the doctrine. So…I believe firmly that an honest ex-mo can discuss the real doctrine of the mormon church far better than an active mormon is allowed to do, or capable of doing.

    And lastly…how the ex-mo feels about the church and mormons is a good barometer. Take me, for example. I hate the mormon church as an organization…and I hate (and find comical) the doctrine. But, I am also honest and feel that there is no need to lie or exaggerate the doctrine in order to display it’s falsehood. I love mormon people, however. They frustrate me, make no mistake…but I completely understand what the church means to them, and so I respect that, and when they behave a certain way, I understand. I understand when they get angry and lash out (sometimes tearfully) and then leave…that they had something important to them trodden on, and it hurts them deeper than a non-religious person may be able to know. I understand that there is a breaking point with each, and if that line gets pushed a predictable set of reactions is going to occur…case in point, Lindsey.

  • Aj

    Linda,

    …dismissive at times…

    Of ideas like Noah’s ark, creationism, and Mormon alternative history of the Americas? Damn right they’re going to be dismissed. Open minded doesn’t mean what you think it means, it doesn’t mean people should accept all ideas, just that they should hear new ones.

  • Old Beezle

    Good post, Larry Huffman! I concur with most of what you said. I too am an ex-mormon and my ENTIRE family still believes it…literally–golden plates, visiting angels, temple rituals, etc. As a mormon you are not taught to view your own beliefs with an eye of skepticism. You’re instead taught to verify that the church is true by reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it. These are two entirely different approaches to affirmation. One presupposes the answer—-it’s obvious which one.

    Lindsey, for all her good intentions, balked when people challenged her ideas (not all of them nicely, but whatever…). Maybe she expected something different from us “friendly” atheists. I don’t know. It is however a tad naive to think that you can ‘introduce’ mormon ideas to a bunch of atheists who are the epitome of skepticism and not expect a few very pointed questions. And you haven’t even gotten to the juicy bits of mormons’ secrets…most here haven’t heard about the secret/sacred temple rituals and handshakes nor heard that Joseph Smith married other men’s wives–yes, while they were still married! Forget polygamy–how ’bout polyandry?!

    Lindsey, as a mormon, you’re wearing a big red target of wacky ideas just waiting to be challenged. Cutting off communication doesn’t seem to be the way to deal with it.

  • penn

    Linda, thanks for the response, but could you give just a couple specific examples of this elitist group think that apparently pervades this thread? I’m really not seeing it.

    I also don’t believe your 7 out of 37 number. I don’t see elitism in my three posts. Also, Lindsey herself posted twice. Then several people became hostile to her “Archeology is boring.” line. I don’t see how that is elitist. Also, one of those 37 was yours and a few people were disagreeing with each other, so I don’t see how they both were defending elitism.

    I guess I really don’t get what specific comments you are taking exception to.

  • SarahH

    Linda, since you didn’t have time to compile a list of responses to every comment (understandably) and I wasn’t on your list of polite posters, I would like to ask what you found ignorant or dismissive or superior about what I wrote, because I don’t want to come off that way and I certainly didn’t think either of my comments did in this thread.

    I don’t think this is a black-and-white situation where someone has to be horrible and someone else is In The Right. Lindsey’s posts weren’t perfect and some of the responses weren’t either. Some involved name-calling and insults, and those were unquestioningly rude. But I still stand by my comments and those of many of my fellow posters who have merely questioned and have kept snarkiness and rudeness out of our parts of the conversation.

    If by “less than friendly” you include neutral – not really emotional either way – then I suppose most of my posts here are neutral. But in this case I genuinely feel for Lindsey and know how much it can sting to be criticized online, by tons of people at once. And I do feel a desire to encourage discussions (as I said in my plug for the forums) between atheist and theists that don’t devolve to the point where people are rude.

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    Linda wrote:

    Please keep in mind that I’m just reporting how things look from my perspective.

    Perception is 9/10ths of most things, and based on your summary of what you read, maybe what’s written doesn’t tell the whole story.

    Like others, I’d like to see an example of what you consider is friendly vs. dismissive.

    Have to take advantage of all sunny days before the cold weather kicks in.

  • http://www.ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    SarahH,

    Yes, your comment was neutral. I don’t have anything negative to say about that, except that you seemed to be defending the rudeness by others:

    I think it was a natural reaction for most readers, when encountering anything that sounds like religious apologetics, to tear it down and ask follow-up questions where there were holes.

  • SarahH

    I don’t have anything negative to say about that, except that you seemed to be defending the rudeness by others:

    I guess we part when it comes to definitions of rude. I think that dismantling arguments and challenging perceived flaws is not rude – I think at worst, it’s intimidating and at best it’s constructive. I think that name-calling and insulting is rude, but I think arguments and beliefs are fair game for criticism. There were some comments that included valid arguments and questions for Lindsey yet also incorporated unnecessary rudeness, and I definitely am not defending those posts.

  • http://www.ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    Okay… :( I’ll give you the run down (my thoughts are in parentheses):

    what criteria Lindsey was able to post (uhh, a thinking person who’s view on life is refreshing, perhaps?)…well short of being spectacular (that can be said for many other posts)…acted like a thin-skinned coward…not at asset to your blog…there are plenty of (other more qualified?) ex-mos…found Lindsey’s answers to be ignorant at best (she never claimed to be an expert)…seemed deeply ignorant of modern archeology (didn’t know that was a pre-requisite)…something reminiscent of high school (blatantly condescending if you ask me)…I have no idea what Lindsey looks like (or who she is? you could have taken a little time to get to know her)…After reading The End of Faith…religion and its followers were inseparable to me (basically indicates that you will not have any respect for anyone with a belief)…Rather than deleting the posts, you could have said this (about not having ample knowledge – she said this from the get-go, and still you all jumped down her throat for being honest)…Linday, seriously?…boring is not excuse for not being informed (?? she didn’t come on the blog to discuss archeology with you. I thought it would be great for her to bring her fun personality into otherwise often boring and one-track minded discusssions.)…she didn’t anticipate how hard it would be (obviously. I was hoping you guys would be a little more mature than the average atheist blog)…She didn’t seemed to know (again, she never claimed she was an expert)…Spork’s comments speak for themselves…

    Penn, your reply was also directed at Lindsey’s archeology remark. Is not not okay to find it boring? Whether you meant it or not, it sounded very much like an attack.

    I found the following statement to be the most humiliating and arrogant of all (disguised as level-headed and mature):

    I realise I may come off as angry, but really I’m just disappointed. This blog is normally awesome and inviting a Mormon to discuss LDS beliefs seemed like a cool idea and then this happened. :( Hopefully we can all learn something from it.

    Yes, I’m calling on you as a whole. Lindsey deserves respect like anyone else who would take the time to come here for an attempt at a dialogue with you. I mean genuine respect – not the kind that hides behind intellectual superiority. She was very clear from the beginning in letting you know what her limitations were. This isn’t the first time you ran someone off with the same crap. Instead of pointing fingers at someone else all the time, let’s try taking a good hard look at ourselves.

    Yes, you really learned a good lesson, didn’t you? …that you want to be accepted for who you are, yet you cannot do the same for others?

    I think Lindsey deserves an apology. I hope you’re big enough to admit that.

  • Spork

    Well, well, well. Aren’t Hemant and Linda so very friendly? Apparently, we aren’t supposed to call stupid fairy tales exactly what they are. Calling a belief in magic rocks stupid is just so mean! That just wouldn’t be friendly now, would it?

    Linda, I hope you invite me into your home some time. With your attitude, I could kick your dog and you’d find some excuse, like cultural relativism, or my upbringing, or that I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to kick your dog and let me off the hook.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Larry Huffman:

    I think anyone who feels that an ex-mormon cannot give a truthful and explorative description of the mormon beliefs is flat wrong.

    Who here has said that? The catch is that if an ex-mo tells others what Mormons believe, and some of those beliefs seem too blatantly wrong to be true, then there’s still that suspicion that the ex-mo is exaggerating or happened to be unlucky enough to be among a lunatic fringe of Mormons. That’s nothing personal, just garden-variety skepticism.

    On the other hand, if someone who is still a Mormon, and a fairly friendly and generally reasonable Mormon at that, starts saying that they believe these very wrong things, then it’s easier to buy that it really is true that Mormons believe that stuff, and it isn’t just exaggeration. This in turn confirms and gives credibility to what the ex-mos are saying is wrong with Mormonism.

    BTW, Linda, I have to say that the criticism about Lindsey deleting her posts isn’t rude but fair.

  • Polly

    spork, you said:

    Apparently, we aren’t supposed to call stupid fairy tales exactly what they are. Calling a belief in magic rocks stupid is just so mean! That just wouldn’t be friendly now, would it?

    but you said earlier (emphasis mine):

    Do you see what your obsession with being so damned friendly gets you? A weak-minded theist fairy tale believing moron has turned your site into her own personal playground of foolishness.

    It’s not just beliefs you’re attacking.
    Anyway, you can always skip the Mo-posts if you’re not interested. Just like TV, simply change the channel when you don’t like the show.

  • http://limadean.wordpress.com limadean

    Linda said:

    something reminiscent of high school (blatantly condescending if you ask me)…

    I guess I wasn’t clear enough that I was talking about both sides here – the people who were rude to Lindsey in comments and Lindsey’s reaction of removing all of her posts so anyone wanting to take a look couldn’t.
    When Lindsey first started posting, I was excited. I decided not to post any comments and just read what she was writing on the site and consider it on my own. I looked at her blog, and as I said in the above comment, she seems like a very nice person. I’m sure if I knew her in my day to day life I’d like her very much.
    If my first comment on this post came off as upset, it’s because I was. I didn’t write it thinking I was superious to Lindsey or anyone else, just upset with what had become of the whole process of Lindsey posting.
    I stand by my point that the trolls aren’t the only ones to blame. I don’t doubt that they got the ball rolling on what Lindsey eventually did, but I find it incredibly intellectually (oh no! is that getting too hoity-toity?) dishonest of her to delete all of her previous posts in response. It’s not fair to delete any evidence of whatever went on before but then respond to comments to this post.
    Either keep posting so those of us who are interested can participate or quit, but don’t drag it out, please.
    That’s what makes it like high school. I really thought that’s what I was saying in my first comment, but apparently I needed to write a novel to round it out.

  • llewelly

    Linda:

    … ex-mos…found Lindsey’s answers to be ignorant at best (she never claimed to be an expert)…seemed deeply ignorant of modern archeology (didn’t know that was a pre-requisite)

    When I was in first grade, in Salt Lake City Utah, I was taught that when Europeans arrived in the Americas, Native Americans had neither domestic horses nor elephants, nor steel, nor wheels.
    How does one fail to see the contradiction between that and the Mormon belief that Lehi’s family brought horses, steel, and wheels from the Middle East across the Indian and Pacific Oceans to the Americas?

    The dispute was not over materials covered only in obscure graduate level courses taught only once every 3 years. It was about material covered again and again as I went through Utah’s (mediocre at best) public schools.
    Linda, if I said someone who didn’t know that a 1-pound lead ball and 10-pound lead ball, if dropped from a height (or rolled down a ramp) would fall (or roll) at the same rate was ignorant, would you call me ‘rude’?

  • Julie Marie

    I remember my first experience with rapid fire atheist logic. It was hard to take, and I bowed out of the thread as gracefully as I could, and re-engaged in other threads while I picked up the pieces of my puzzle that had just been thrown against the wall, so to speak.

    I don’t think I could have stuck with the conversation at all if it had happened 25 years or so ago…(guessing Lindsey is in her early 20s). Having your beliefs mocked as fairy tales does feel mean, no matter how much its couched in “its not you I disrespect, its your beliefs…”

  • llewelly

    Linda:

    I found the following statement to be the most humiliating and arrogant of all (disguised as level-headed and mature):

    I realise I may come off as angry, but really I’m just disappointed. This blog is normally awesome and inviting a Mormon to discuss LDS beliefs seemed like a cool idea and then this happened. :( Hopefully we can all learn something from it.

    If you’re so eager to willfully misrepresent politeness as ‘the most humiliating and arrogant of all’ – I don’t see why people should make any effort to be polite to you.

  • SarahH

    Lindsey deserves respect like anyone else who would take the time to come here for an attempt at a dialogue with you. I mean genuine respect – not the kind that hides behind intellectual superiority.

    And many of us were respectful and interested, albeit skeptical. I feel as though you are implying that it was wrong to challenge Lindsey’s beliefs and ask hard questions of her. Yes, as I’ve said several times, there were very rude posts as well, but the commenters on this blog are separate, individual people who each said something different.

    We don’t all “as a whole” owe anyone an apology. Some of us have expressed sympathy for Lindsey and have stayed in the discussion not to be rude, but rather to recuperate and try to understand where things went wrong. Being friendly doesn’t mean holding back honest criticism, but it does mean making sure that no feelings get hurt unnecessarily.

    Lindsey certainly deserves an apology from those who insulted her personally or called her names. This is the internet, and she won’t get those apologies. I think your demand that we give Lindsey a collective apology (which, mind you, would likely only be given by the posters who weren’t involved in anything inappropriate or rude) is uncalled-for.

  • Maria

    I don’t know about where you come from, but on this blog, people mock stupid beliefs, including Hemant

    Umm, no, it’s called discussion. The purpose of this blog is for people to discuss things. Not the same as mocking, though to you I’m sure they’re one and the same.

    Who is building up an elite group?

    sounds to me like you are-no one who treats non-atheists with any sort of civility allowed-damn dirty appeasers!

    Well, well, well. Aren’t Hemant and Linda so very friendly? Apparently, we aren’t supposed to call stupid fairy tales exactly what they are. Calling a belief in magic rocks stupid is just so mean! That just wouldn’t be friendly now, would it?

    no, but calling someone a moron and sending her a barage of harrasing emails IS. Or did you forget to read that part?

    Linda, I hope you invite me into your home some time. With your attitude, I could kick your dog and you’d find some excuse, like cultural relativism, or my upbringing, or that I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to kick your dog and let me off the hook.

    That is such bs it’s laughable. Are you for real? Saying we should try to be somewhat civil and act like rational adults is not the same as being passive. A lot of people have the same ideas as Linda and you wouldn’t get the past their doors if you tried that c*** Everything is not either passive or aggressive.

    If you’re so eager to willfully misrepresent politeness as ‘the most humiliating and arrogant of all’ – I don’t see why people should make any effort to be polite to you.

    there’s enough eagerness to misinterpret stuff to go around.

    If it were the other way around, half the people on here would be going on about how unfair it is

  • Spork

    Polly, she believes in the power of magic rocks. MAGIC ROCKS!

    Yes, she’s a complete moron for that belief.

  • Spork

    Having your beliefs mocked as fairy tales does feel mean, no matter how much its couched in “its not you I disrespect, its your beliefs…”

    I’ll tell you right now. I feel no compunction to be respectful of a person who believes in such foolishness as the Moron religion. No physical evidence, even though such is claimed (civilizations, horses, buildings, machinery, etc.), magic rocks, genetic descent, what have you. To believe in such is beyond silly, it is repugnant and stupid, and should be treated as such, as should the adherents of such stupidity.

    To devote one’s entire life to such stupidity does, indeed, make one thunderously stupid.

  • Julie Marie

    well Spork, I’ll give you this. You aren’t trying to couch your beliefs in pretty language.

  • http://www.ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    If you’re so eager to willfully misrepresent politeness as ‘the most humiliating and arrogant of all’ – I don’t see why people should make any effort to be polite to you.

    llewelly,

    Hmm… perhaps I misread the comment. In light of the previous paragraphs in the comment in question, I took it to mean that having Lindsey as a contributor to the blog ruined the blog’s awesomeness. A statement was made that “I’m disappointed…The blog is normally awesome…then this happened,” after criticizing the way Lindsay conducted herself. I didn’t know that was an example of politeness. My apologies.

  • http://www.ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    SarahH said:

    I think your demand that we give Lindsey a collective apology (which, mind you, would likely only be given by the posters who weren’t involved in anything inappropriate or rude) is uncalled-for.

    Okay… fair enough. I could have overstated some points.

    However, this is a view from the outside looking in:

    An atheist blog named “Friendly Atheist” with regular commenters will cause one to assume that they are a cohesive group.

    Even if there are a few fair and friendly responses, too many antagonistic or combative remarks directed at a newcomer who is not familiar with the dynamics of the group will make him/her assume that is the general consensus.

    Whether you like it or not, whether you want to be or not, each of you are seen as a part of the whole and will be associated with such by someone who is new to the blog.

    I represent my family, my culture, my country, and ultimately the human race to anyone who may see me operating within the context of the particular group. If a family member has wronged someone outside of the family, if an Asian has wronged someone outside of the culture, if an American has wronged someone abroad, if a human being has caused harm to another species… I feel it would be appropriate for me to apologize as a part of the whole.

    But maybe it’s just me…

    I usually see atheists here so eager to support each other and stand together as one. I thought maybe it would also apply in a situation where an apology is called for.

    I believe one sincere voice of concern/validation can change the perception that someone has of the entire group. It happened to me twice. Both were atheists. That’s why I will defend you to the end against my fellow Christians who have misconceptions about atheists. It’s not because of your (admittedly) superior arguments, and it definitely is not because you often put me in my place (which you do so well). It is only because of the courageous kindness I received from the two people which transformed my view of atheists.

  • Aj

    I think it’s best to assume ignorance or deep delusion instead of going straight for the “moron” explanation. However, if there’s some sort of pattern in someones thinking, then they’re a moron. If their brain can function on other subjects they’re not.

    Maria,

    Umm, no, it’s called discussion. The purpose of this blog is for people to discuss things. Not the same as mocking, though to you I’m sure they’re one and the same.

    Did you miss those posts or are you in some sort of denial? If the owner and primary author of this blog mocks religion then who are you to say the purpose is anything other than mocking?

    If you want a discussion of fairy tales so be it. You can’t tell anybody else to join in, the lunatics haven’t taken over the asylum yet. I’ll take this to mean you can’t understand fiction from reality.

    Linda,

    I usually see atheists here so eager to support each other and stand together as one. I thought maybe it would also apply in a situation where an apology is called for.

    We’re not responsible for what others say, we’re not part of a collective group, no one here speaks for me. An apology by someone not responsible is meaningless.

  • http://tinyfrog.wordpress.com tinyfrog

    Regarding “rudeness by others” Linda Says:

    Okay… :( I’ll give you the run down (my thoughts are in parentheses):

    She didn’t seemed to know (again, she never claimed she was an expert)…

    In my defense, I don’t think “she didn’t seem to know” is really that rude or offensive. And if I was attempting to be harsh, I could have worded that differently. (Try paraphrasing my statement 10 different ways – I bet most of them will be more rude than my phrasing.) I was remaining factual and illustrating the fact that she doesn’t know about the less savory aspects of Mormonism, and believes the spin of the Mormon church.

    Regarding the racism of the Mormon church just after that phrase, here’s what Lindsey had written a few days ago (just so you can judge for yourself whether it’s rude to say someone doesn’t know something):

    Do mormons believe that darker skin color is a punishment from god?

    No. Goodness, no. In the Bible, it said that Cain, as his punishment for killing poor Abel, was given a ‘mark of blackness’. The Lamanites also received a mark of blackness, but it was only to differentiate between the people who were ‘with’ god and those who weren’t. This clearly has nothing to do with race and skin color TODAY, Mormons are not racist in any way. Dark skin is also in no way a reflection of spirituality and closeness of God, and Mormons don’t believe it is.

    Here’s a wikipedia section on that subject:

    After the death of Joseph Smith Jr., the Prophet Brigham Young Sr. taught that “Negroes” were black due to the mark of Cain, which also meant that they were Canaanites and were under the curse of Ham. For this reason, most blacks of African descent—along with a smaller number of non-blacks that the Church also deemed to be Canaanites—were ineligible to be ordained to the Priesthood. They were also barred from participating in the Endowment and celestial marriage, but were allowed to enter the church’s temples to perform baptism for the dead.[2] While this policy existed for over a century, it was always with the promise that “the time will come when they will have the privilege of all we have the privilege of and more.”[3] In 1978, church leaders said they had received a revelation that this long-promised time had come.

  • Spork

    I represent my family, my culture, my country, and ultimately the human race to anyone who may see me operating within the context of the particular group.

    You represent only yourself.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Dan Florien

    @ Spork: You said, “Yes, she’s a complete moron for that belief.”

    Are you so right about absolutely everything, that you don’t believe something that might qualify you as a moron? Nobody is right about everything and everyone I know has some kind of absurd belief about something. I guess by your definition, everyone is a moron, which makes it pretty much meaningless. Why do you feel the need for name-calling? It does no good — it just hurts others and makes you look like a bully.

  • http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com Felicia Gilljam

    Linda wrote:

    Hmm… perhaps I misread the comment.

    Yeah, ouch. What I was really trying to say with that paragraph that you singled out as the worst of all was that I wished Lindsey would have stayed and not deleted her stuff! “This” referred to the whole meltdown of discussion that ensued. (Especially the parts where some of us have felt the need to criticise Hemant. Hemant, if you read this, you know I still think you’re awesome, right?)

    When I said I hope that we all learnt something was that I hope Hemant will pick his contributors a little more carefully in the future (warning them that they WILL be harshly criticised), that Hemant’s future contributors make sure they’re wearing their thick skin when reading comments (Linda, you keep saying Lindsey warned us beforehand that she’s not an expert – I’m afraid that’s not enough. She’s not precognisant but she should have guessed that any opinion posted on this site will be subject to scrutiny. And above all, her reaction when she realised she couldn’t handle the discussion was absolutely wrong – I would happily have accepted a “sorry, can’t do this”, it’s the deleting of posts I don’t like), and that the rest of us try not to pile on too much.

    Maria said:

    no, but calling someone a moron and sending her a barage of harrasing emails IS

    One thing I would like to point out to Lindsey’s defenders is that a lot of us here have NOT sent Lindsey any rude e-mails. So please stop throwing out collective accusations, as if we’re a concerted group who have some sort of control over what anyone else reading this site does. I certainly haven’t sent anyone any e-mails over this, and especially not rude ones – I view internet interactions as every bit as personal and serious as real life interactions and hence I try my utmost to act respectfully (of people, mind you – not their beliefs). If you think something I said wasn’t respectful, please tell me and let me elaborate on what I said and why I said it.

    My point is, we’re all here acting as individuals – if our actions look concerted to you that might be because we’re all pretty much skeptical atheists. But please note that many of us have made a point of deploring that Lindsey has been harrassed by e-mail! We still think she is wrong about a lot of things, especially censoring the discussion, but there are no excuses for harrassment, ever.

  • Steven

    I can’t believe that no one has uncovered the Truth about Ms. Kirth’s presence on the Friendly Atheist website.
    Clearly, she is in collusion with Mr. Mehta to increase his web traffic and raise comment numbers to greater heights.
    She has also done a terrific job of exposing which atheists are far too friendly.
    I’m very disappointed that she has chosen not to post any further insights into her Mormon beliefs. From what little I can gather from her blog she seems grounded in the material world, yet she holds fantastical beliefs about reality. It seems a shame not to explore that further in dialogue with her.
    I also hope that she was kidding in describing archeology as “boring” as that is the exact opposite of the attitude I will strive to instill in my kids.
    I hate to say it, but maybe Ms. Kirth’s Mormonism is not as strong as she would like if she is forced to retreat from the barbed words of some comfortably anonymous commentors. I don’t doubt her strength of character for a moment, but could her faith be a tad wobbly?

  • Gullwatcher

    She’s not precognisant but she should have guessed that any opinion posted on this site will be subject to scrutiny.

    Frankly, we’re still being kinder than those determined to chastise us give us credit for. I’d go further – even a casual survey of the kinds of posts and responses on this site would have told someone what to expect, and that if someone puts out something poorly reasoned, inadequately researched, or long since discredited, the reception for the post will not be kind.
    This crowd is not kind to apologetics, nor is there any particular reason that they should they be.

  • cautious

    So if we try to put a positive spin on this and call it a learning exercise, what did everyone learn from the experience?

    Lindsey possibly learned that she, as a theist on an atheist website, was a target for those of us who have an axe to grind against religion.

    Hemant possibly learned that people who write a good personal blog might not be the best kind of people to write a blog discussing their faith.

    Some people learned that being a jackass in comments and/or email got them exactly what they wanted.

    I …well, I have/had no interest in Mormonism since I don’t believe in magic rocks. But I was potentially interested in what this one human being had to say about her faith.

    The recent brouhaha caused me to read up on what little of her words are left here. She claimed that she was an agnostic and a searcher for 2 years of her life and settled upon Mormonism. That sounds interesting, that coulda made an interesting post, and now that post will probably never exist. Thanks to the aforementioned jackasses.

    I’m aware that the idea was that she’d come in and talk about Mormonism, maybe answer some questions about the faith. Speaking as a person without religion, without faith, I don’t care about theology. Even if cute ladies on the Interwebs are the ones talking about it.

    If some other theist gets incorporated into the blogroll, may I suggest that they please never ever never ever never spend any of their time talking about theology? Even if they’re a member of a religion that’s relatively tiny in numbers, like Jainism or Shintoism, the odds are that they will get at least some atheist feedback that is condescending.

  • Polly

    Hemant,
    Can you make a rule that no posts get deleted? It’s mere SELF-censorship, sure, but it creates a lot of confusion.

    People can put time and thought into their commets only to see the whole discussion evaporate.

    I hate to think that I may be wasting my time if or when I comment on a guest post in the future.

  • Marzipan

    Hmmm… Frankly, I didn’t see many personal attacks in the three-hour research post, but now I’m wondering if the “friendly” bunch considered me to be among the rude commenters. There was someone who said something to the extent of Lindsey possibly having an excuse of being brainwashed from birth when she said it was her choice to be a Mormon, which sort of ascribes false consciousness to her, and it is never a nice thing to do whether it’s true or not because it’s a slippery slope. I assure you it’s possible to choose to be a Mormon as an adult. And it’s also possible to choose to stop being one, whether you were dragged into it as a child or later in life.

    Other than that, I don’t recall anything resembling a personal attack. Even Spork justifies his choice of epithets with the fact that Lindsey believes in fairy tales (which she does, no?). One of the uses of the word moron is to describe a person with poor judgment. Somehow I don’t see someone who professes fringe beliefs about the history and fauna of the continent and at the same time considers archaeology too boring to look into for evidence of said beliefs as having good judgment, at least in that particular matter. Dawkins once said that anyone who denies evolution is either ignorant, stupid, or insane. Or, possibly, malicious. That’s not a personal attack, it’s a statement of fact. He drew that conclusion based on their denial of a well-documented phenomenon, and it was based entirely on the statements those people have made, not on their personal lives or histories.

    Also, Linda said:

    I represent my family, my culture, my country, and ultimately the human race to anyone who may see me operating within the context of the particular group. If a family member has wronged someone outside of the family, if an Asian has wronged someone outside of the culture, if an American has wronged someone abroad, if a human being has caused harm to another species… I feel it would be appropriate for me to apologize as a part of the whole.

    Yeah, sure, it’s very noble on your part to want to apologize for everything humanity has ever done wrong, but it’s a dangerous mentality. People who perform honor killings share the same mentality (and this is not a personal attack on you, either, BTW, but a statement of fact). They can’t just say “Oh, it was my daughter’s choice to sleep around or just talk innocently to that British soldier. I don’t approve, but it is a choice she made herself, and I had nothing to do with it”. No, they feel as though it looks like their family give full endorsement to their daughter’s actions unless they brutally murder her. It’s one thing to disagree, or even apologize for stuff you didn’t do if that rocks your boat, but it’s quite another to treat individuals as part of a whole instead of just what they are – individuals. I can’t be bothered about everyone on the Internet who is unable to see me as the individual that I am or is going to base their opinions of all atheists (the only common thing between whom is lack of belief in gods) on one or two people. People should not be responsible, behave a certain way, have certain obligations, or be denied certain opportunities because of things they did not choose. People who think otherwise are responsible for most, if not all, of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, ageism, adultism, etc. etc.

  • llewelly

    Linda:

    llewelly,
    Hmm… perhaps I misread the comment.

    On second reading, I apologize for claiming that you misinterpreted it ‘willfully’.

  • http://www.ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    Marzipan,

    From reading your comment, you are clearly biased. Anyone who can defend Spork’s ridiculous remarks has to be biased. You are not as neutral as you portray yourself.

    Also, you said:

    It’s one thing to disagree, or even apologize for stuff you didn’t do if that rocks your boat, but it’s quite another to treat individuals as part of a whole instead of just what they are – individuals.

    Yes, it does rock my boat, because I’m a team player but will not stand by and defend a team member if they were in the wrong. And I will try to do whatever is in my power to clear misunderstandings.

    I never suggested that we should treat individuals as part of a whole. I was only pointing out that’s how people are perceived and misunderstood. Of course it is not the desired effect. But it’s the reality of what happens.

    Don’t atheists often see theists in the same manner? Oops! I mean, don’t some people (who I am told always act as individuals and never as a group and yet many of whom label themselves with a funny-looking A) see theists in the same manner?

    Someone made a comment about the book “A Letter to a Christian Nation” earlier in this thread. That whole book was grouping people together as if no Christian is an individual who can think for themselves.

    My point is, just because you say something is so does not make it so unless it actually can be shown to be the case. I think a group called atheists taught me that. ;-)

  • Aj

    Linda,

    Someone made a comment about the book “A Letter to a Christian Nation” earlier in this thread. That whole book was grouping people together as if no Christian is an individual who can think for themselves.

    I think you reach for that criticism too often. This is a fundamental misreading of the book, statements of sociology and psychology don’t include the individual but they don’t deny that the subjects are individuals either. This shouldn’t be an obstacle to a reader unless they have confused notions about free will or ignorance of anthropology. If you think that about the book, then you should perhaps have been thinking while reading it.

    Marzipan,

    Even Spork justifies his choice of epithets with the fact that Lindsey believes in fairy tales (which she does, no?). One of the uses of the word moron is to describe a person with poor judgment. Somehow I don’t see someone who professes fringe beliefs about the history and fauna of the continent and at the same time considers archaeology too boring to look into for evidence of said beliefs as having good judgment, at least in that particular matter.

    It may be true but it’s still a personal attack. It’s not the only explanation for believing in blatantly false things. Moron usually means low IQ, although on this site and in general culture people use it more flippantly most of the time.

    In many of these kind of threads there’s a group of people who overreact. They’re really zealous about protecting other peoples beliefs as long as they’re nonoffensive to them. Lindsey decided to call people morons in her final thread, I didn’t see the fake outrage.

  • http://lindseysrantings.com Lindsey

    Linda,
    You’re probably the sweetest person on the internet.

    Spork,
    You’re probably the biggest jackass in the WORLD.

  • http://tinyfrog.wordpress.com tinyfrog

    Meh. I don’t really see the point in calling people names.

    On the topic of having someone come and explain their beliefs at this website, here are a couple thoughts. I think Larry Huffman is right in saying an ex-Mormon could do it, though it wouldn’t be very useful if they were just grinding an axe. On the flip side, a Mormon who shows up and sees everyone as a potential convert is going to give only the most socially acceptable version of Mormonism – which isn’t very useful, either. A lot of my knowledge of Mormonism comes from an old coworker of mine. He was a Mormon, and he told us (me and my coworkers) about Mormonism over lunch breaks. He wasn’t really trying to be a staunch defender of Mormonism, either, which was good. He didn’t really believe certain parts of the book of Mormon. For example, he didn’t seem to believe the Book Of Mormon’s claims about a massive war in the Americas – with millions of deaths and technology that was improbable for the time. He said that it’s improbable that all of that actually happened, yet no one has found any archeological evidence of it. He also thought it was improbable that a group of Jews sailed from the Middle East to America around the 6th century BC. And he said the fact that the golden tablets disappeared seemed rather suspect and a little too convenient (as if it was a made-up story). He also thought it was suspect that Joseph Smith would miraculously get these revelations from God about polygamy – enabling him to marry some hot girl he had his eye on. (And, if I remember correctly, in some cases he even married other men’s wives!)

    His doubts also put him into a position where he didn’t feel the need to defend the Book of Mormon. If someone said, “Isn’t it silly to believe what the Book of Mormon says about…”, he didn’t need to provide a defense. He could simply say, “Yeah, kind of silly”. It might sound like he was a lax Mormon – and maybe he was when I had talked to him, but he did serve as a Mormon missionary in South America for a year (or is it two years that Mormons are supposed to serve?). That was probably about 5-10 years earlier.

    Despite the fact that he didn’t believe sections of the Book of Mormon, he was still a Mormon. I don’t know if he still is. Maybe he remains a Mormon for family reasons, it’s convenient, and there’s no other religion he wants to be a part of. But my point was this: he wasn’t pulling punches. He wasn’t censoring his presentation of Mormonism to make it acceptable. He wasn’t looking at all of us as potential converts. That kind of Mormon could probably be trusted to give a decent education of Mormonism.

    I also hope Lindsey is reading this and sees that even Mormons can see certain Mormon claims are doubtful — despite the fact that they are the very people who should be biased towards believing it.

  • Spork

    Lindsey:

    Spork,
    You’re probably the biggest jackass in the WORLD.

    So what? I’m still right, and you’re still a self-deluded magic-rock-believing moron. What you believe is a pack of lies crafted by a delusional polygamist scam artist. What about the Rosetta Stone? His “translations” predate it, and were completely wrong.

    But, that kind of research into explicit claims is too boring for the average moron, which is something below which you rank.

    Horses. Civilization. Genetic origins. Magic rocks. Child brides. Magic underpants!

    It’s asinine, even as religions go. I’d have more respect for you if you believed in fairies, to be honest. You’re just astoundingly stupid beyond measure for believing in such complete and obvious nonsense.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Spork: “So what? I’m still right”

    No, you aren’t for the most part. One can be quite intelligent and still hold false beliefs, which means that your sweeping claims that Lindsey is “astoundingly stupid beyond measure” or a “moron” to be supported by … well, nothing, really. And your earlier claim that Lindsey has turned this site “into her own personal playground of foolishness” has no foundation at all.

  • Gullwatcher

    @AJ

    Lindsey decided to call people morons in her final thread, I didn’t see the fake outrage.

    She did do that, didn’t she? Yeah, it’s getting hard to tell the real from the fake these days, since either kind has become such a popular tool for changing the subject.

  • SarahH

    Just throwing this out there – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with polyamory or polygamy or polyandry, so long as everyone involved is a consenting adult. The history of polygamy and Mormon practice certainly includes some horrors, but I don’t see what’s wrong with polygamy itself. The weird reaction against it seems to stem from the same cultural squeamishness as homophobia.

    But back on topic – well, actually I think this topic kind of died now that Lindsey has resorted to insults and other posters are continuing to insult her as well. I guess I just wanted to point out that “polygamist” isn’t an insult, at least not in my book, and shouldn’t be used as one.

    Carry on.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Aj: “Lindsey decided to call people morons in her final thread, I didn’t see the fake outrage.”

    There’s a bit of false equivalency here, and an exaggeration. Lindsey didn’t call people morons, but said that tinyfrog “sound[ed] like such a judgemental moron” for his/her presumption that she’d “decide that Mormonism is right because atheists don’t like her or are ‘mean’.” She at least was kind enough to say only that tinyfrog sounded like a moron, which is something that even intelligent people can do on an off day. Spork can’t honestly claim that.

  • Aj

    You’re right, I wasn’t 100% on the details. Although “sound like such a judgemental moron” and “jackass” aren’t that much different to calling someone a moron. Also, people get called “moron” on this site and no one cares most of the time. This “friendliness” we hear so much about is pretty selective.

  • http://tinyfrog.wordpress.com tinyfrog

    SarahH Says:

    The weird reaction against [polygamy] seems to stem from the same cultural squeamishness as homophobia.

    No it isn’t. Polygamy (which in practice is really one man with multiple wives, not the reverse) has all kinds of problems with it. The first is that it requires that women be subservient. There’s the old joke that married men pity a guy who has lots of wives. It’s based on the presumption that each wife is like his wife (i.e. she wants to be treated as an equal). A man with four wives cannot possibly give as much time to each of his wives as a monogamous man can give to his single wife. The end result is that in order for polygamist relationships to work, all of the women MUST necessarily be in a subservient role. A man with four wives gives 1/4th the attention to each of his wives as one man with one wife. In addition to dividing his time among his wives, he must also divide his money (which ends up with the result than many women and children in polygamist relationships are desperately poor). Similarly, his time is also divided among his children (which, due to sheer numbers, get very little attention from him). So, in some ways those women and children are more similiar to a single-woman raising children by herself than a married woman.

    In effect, he is the king, and they are his harem. He is a human being and they are his breeding stock.

    One of the side-effects of this subservience of women, is that it leads not only to suppression of women’s rights, but often degenerates into a situation where women are told whom they marry. They are “prizes” to be traded by old men to their friends and allies, often given away at young ages.

    And let’s not even get into the fact that polygamy necessarily results in single men being without wives (in effect, stolen away by a richer, more powerful man). The polygamist communities like Warren Jeffs end up with a number of male children who never have wives. They might as well be eunuchs. This leads to a situation of jealousy, resentment, anger, and community instability. Further, it’s well documented that single men are much more impulsive and likely to be involved in crime than married men. Why? Because they’ve got very little to lose – they’ve only got themselves to look after, not a wife and not children. This leads to irresponsible behavior.

    So, no, polygamy is NOT like homosexual relationships.

  • http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com Felicia Gilljam

    Now we’re derailing a lot but, please – don’t confuse polygamy with polygyny and be ESPECIALLY careful not to confuse the cultural institution of polygamy with polyamory. While there may be good reasons not to allow people to formally marry more than one person, there certainly shouldn’t be any limit to how many people any person is romantically involved with at any time.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Aj: “Although ‘sound like such a judgemental moron’ and ‘jackass’ aren’t that much different to calling someone a moron.”

    True, but again, there is a false equivalence here. tinyfrog was presumptuously pretending to read Lindsey’s mind, while Spork was exaggerating and being obnoxious. They earned the invective thrown their way. The worst that could be said about Lindsey is that she was relatively thin-skinned compared to the regulars here and responded accordingly.

    Aj: “Also, people get called ‘moron’ on this site and no one cares most of the time. This ‘friendliness’ we hear so much about is pretty selective.”

    Yes. Generally, we are friendlier to those not going out of their way to be jackasses.

  • SarahH

    I just think it’s silly that it’s okay to have many loves (polyamory) but not okay for those loves to marry. The cultural institution of Mormon polygamy is one thing, but the word polygamy simply means plural marriage and has been around since well before Mormons existed. Polygyny and polyandry simply refer to one man & more than one woman and vice versa. They’re sub-sets of polygamy. The idea that having “relationships” is just fine with multiple people but that formal marriage is somehow not acceptable is just as silly as the idea that non-hetero relationships are okay but marriage just isn’t for them.

    Feel free to go off about all the possible difficulties of insurance plans and tax forms, but when it comes right down to it, when people deserve civil rights they should get them, whether it’s easy or difficult to implement.

  • Spork

    Spork was exaggerating and being obnoxious.

    Yes. Because it’s so much more reasonable to believe in magic rocks and magic underpants and blind faith in such is a sign of a great intellect…

    She. Is. A. Credulous. Moron.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Hemant,
    Can you make a rule that no posts get deleted? It’s mere SELF-censorship, sure, but it creates a lot of confusion.

    People can put time and thought into their commets only to see the whole discussion evaporate.

    I hate to think that I may be wasting my time if or when I comment on a guest post in the future.

    Polly — It’s a good rule, but I don’t know if I can enforce that. I’ve had to delete posts in the past because the subject didn’t want their name online or their story to be public and I felt their request was a reasonable one. I’ve had to delete comments for similar reasons.

    It’s nothing malicious, and it’s never public figures. But there can be good reasons for removing online content.

    I hope those things only happen in the rarest of occasions and I think there is an understanding between the remaining contributors to this site that we do not want to take down our postings because of personal reasons or because we are being criticized.

  • Polly

    Hemant,
    Understood.
    I will continue to comment with reckless abandon. :)

  • Aj

    J. J. Ramsey,

    True, but again, there is a false equivalence here. tinyfrog was presumptuously pretending to read Lindsey’s mind, while Spork was exaggerating and being obnoxious. They earned the invective thrown their way. The worst that could be said about Lindsey is that she was relatively thin-skinned compared to the regulars here and responded accordingly.

    No, they certainly did not earn retaliation in kind. Lindsey is just as wrong, her charges are just as valid as theirs. To think of this as “well, they were mean first” is childish, and on the same level as the people throwing insults in the first place.

    Yes. Generally, we are friendlier to those not going out of their way to be jackasses.

    Some people here see certain religious people as allies and defend them. It’s not about being a jackass or calling people names at all. It’s about separating out irrational beliefs into ones to protect, and ones to attack. As long as the religious person doesn’t disagree with them on social issues they have protection. They believe in belief, and want to work with religion. They use this fake out rage to try to bully others. All this “friendliness” is thrown out the window when it comes to their fellow atheists.

  • http://tinyfrog.wordpress.com tinyfrog

    J. J. Ramsey Says:

    tinyfrog was presumptuously pretending to read Lindsey’s mind, while Spork was exaggerating and being obnoxious. They earned the invective thrown their way. The worst that could be said about Lindsey is that she was relatively thin-skinned compared to the regulars here and responded accordingly.

    BS. Go back and read my post. I said:

    Additionally, I think Lindsey is personalizing critiques of Mormonism. It seems like she thinks atheists don’t like her (note the URL of this entry: the-atheists-dont-like-me). And, she will probably decide that Mormonism is right because atheists don’t like her or are “mean”. Again, that’s not really a good argument, it’s an emotional reaction. I’d hate to think Lindsey is going to escape back to the illusion of Mormonism because she thinks the people “out there” are mean and the Mormonism is right because it’s safe and comfortable and they accept her.

    I never claimed to know what she was thinking. And I definitely do think that emotions play a role in a lot of people’s religious choices (I certainly was not singling Lindsey out). I talked about what she might be thinking and how she might react. If I was presuming to “read her mind”, as you falsely claim, it would’ve been written like this:

    Additionally, Lindsey is personalizing critiques of Mormonism. She thinks atheists don’t like her (note the URL of this entry: the-atheists-dont-like-me). And, she believes that Mormonism is right because atheists don’t like her or are “mean”. Again, that’s not really a good argument, it’s an emotional reaction. Now, Lindsey is going to escape back to the illusion of Mormonism because she thinks the people “out there” are mean and the Mormonism is right because it’s safe and comfortable and they accept her.

  • http://tinyfrog.wordpress.com tinyfrog

    … I was merely saying that I’d hate for a bad emotional reaction to play a role – any role – in her religious choices (as I would expect it would for any person).

  • J. J. Ramsey

    tinyfrog: “I never claimed to know what she was thinking.”

    No, you just were awfully presumptuous in your speculation. What’s this about “she will probably decide ….”?

    tinyfrog: “I talked about what she might be thinking”

    You were far more certain than just a “might be”.

    Aj: “It’s about separating out irrational beliefs into ones to protect, and ones to attack.”

    Yes, and the belief that being religious makes one a moron is irrational.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Okay, now that I’m done watching the presidential debates, I’ll elaborate and fix a few things.

    tinyfrog, I’ll concede that my comment on “mind reading” was an overstatement. That said, as I noted before, you were still more certain than just a “might be,” and Lindsey rightfully called you on it, her choice of words notwithstanding.

    Aj: “To think of this as ‘well, they were mean first’ is childish”

    And I never argued the “mean first” line, but rather that Lindsey’s invective wasn’t as overblown as tinyfrog’s or Spork’s–especially not Spork’s.

    Aj: “It’s about separating out irrational beliefs into ones to protect, and ones to attack.”

    Earlier I wrote, “Yes, and the belief that being religious makes one a moron is irrational.” I’ll drop the “Yes, and” that I wrote in haste, but keep the rest. This isn’t about coddling irrational beliefs, but about responding to irrationality with more irrationality. I have no quarrel with those who have argued with Lindsey’s beliefs like adults, or more to the point, like honest skeptics, pointing out the flaws in her claims without overreaching and making unsupportable claims about her overall intellect. In contrast, when I see Spork go on about Lindsey being a moron, I do not see just rudeness, but also intellectual dishonesty.

  • JohnB

    tinyfrog said:

    Additionally, I think Lindsey is personalizing critiques of Mormonism. It seems like she thinks atheists don’t like her

    I didn’t see this as so much a presumptuous statement, but rather an observation that religious people will often interpret criticisms of their beliefs as personal attacks. Indeed for the same reason, some of the skeptics here seem to have a problem separating the belief from the believer. Hence the personal insults. It isn’t necessary and it isn’t productive, and it says more about the insulter than the insultee.

    It would be interesting to hear from Lindsey herself about what she got out of this experience.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    JohnB: “I didn’t see this as so much a presumptuous statement”

    That wasn’t the presumptuous bit that led to Lindsey saying that tinyfrog sounded like a “judgemental moron.” The presumptuous bit was tinyfrog saying that “she will probably decide that Mormonism is right because atheists don’t like her or are ‘mean’.”

  • Aj

    J. J. Ramsey,

    And I never argued the “mean first” line, but rather that Lindsey’s invective wasn’t as overblown as tinyfrog’s or Spork’s–especially not Spork’s.

    When you said that they “earned” it, since by the same logic they’re also not necessarily stupid, I thought you were justifying Linsey’s outbursts on some kind of retaliatory principle.

    This isn’t about coddling irrational beliefs, but about responding to irrationality with more irrationality. I have no quarrel with those who have argued with Lindsey’s beliefs like adults, or more to the point, like honest skeptics, pointing out the flaws in her claims without overreaching and making unsupportable claims about her overall intellect.

    Perhaps not with you, but the rest selectively withhold judgement on similar cases when “overreaching” occurs pointed towards someone or a group they don’t like, sometimes coming from themselves. Generalized jokes aside, I don’t think it’s right to call religious individual morons, unless it’s for their general behaviour.

  • Spork

    I do not separate religious belief from other aspects of rational, or critical, thinking.

    In order to live with the cognitive dissonance of believing in magic rocks and magic underpants and that native Americans descended from the populations of the Middle East, one must shut off a part of one’s thinking process. The process of which I speak is the one used to analyze data and reach conclusions based on evidence and the application of reason and logic.

    When one shuts off such a significant process, one becomes vulnerable to such foolishness as believing in magic underpants, that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, that science is evil, that evolution didn’t happen, and that one must simply believe what one’s cult authorities have instructed one to believe.

    Once such a basic part of human reason is deactivated in the human mind, that mind is made less. It is made stupid, moronic, dumber than a sweater on a cat.

    Lindsey has shut off that part of her mind and believes in magic underpants.

    Just think about that for a moment.

    Magic underpants.

    Now, magic rocks are bad enough, but they appeal to the moron’s desire for talismanic magic, and to have a focus for magic in tangible objects.

    But…magic underpants? That aren’t even very comfortable in the first place?

    She has shut off the part of her mind needed to examine evidence and apply logic. She no longer thinks critically. People who refuse, not those who can’t such as the mentally disabled, but those who flat-out refuse to think critically are, in fact, willfully stupid. They wallow in it.

    I asked her how she could believe in a religion founded by a guy with magic glasses. Her response was a tautological fallacy about the book of Mormon. That’s it! That’s all she had to offer! No critical thoughts about it. No personal examination of motive. Just regurgitating the same pablum she’s been having crammed into her head by her favorite cult leaders.

    So, yes. Lindsey is a moron, an idiot, a stupid jackasss, thick-skulled maroon. There is no room for any other conclusion here. She’s a moron, and that is a direct result of her willful disregard for the facts of physical evidence (and the lack thereof) and a refusal to simply think.

    A moron.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    In order to live with the cognitive dissonance of believing in magic rocks and magic underpants and that native Americans descended from the populations of the Middle East, one must shut off a part of one’s thinking process. The process of which I speak is the one used to analyze data and reach conclusions based on evidence and the application of reason and logic.

    Nice theory. Empirically, it doesn’t quite work. In practice, people can and do have false beliefs while still being able to use reason and logic. Ken Miller is one example. If you want to go back far enough, the Founding Fathers are an example. If you really think these people are “dumber than a sweater on a cat,” then you are far more reality-challenged than the people that you rail against.

    I asked her how she could believe in a religion founded by a guy with magic glasses. Her response was a tautological fallacy about the book of Mormon. That’s it! That’s all she had to offer! No critical thoughts about it.

    In other words, she acted like someone untrained in critical thinking. Lindsey isn’t bird-brained; she’s ape-brained–as are the rest of us. Like most products of evolution, the human mind is a messy kluge that uses quick and dirty heuristics. We are no more natural skeptics than we are natural mathematicians. That doesn’t make Lindsey an idiot; it just makes her unpracticed.

    If you can’t tell the difference between being unpracticed and being a moron, what does that make you?

  • http://lindseysrantings.com Lindsey

    Oh, Spork, for the love of GOD, no one said the underwear was magic!
    Also, GET OVER IT!
    And just for the record, my beliefs may, in your opinion, be ‘stupid’, but yet YOU believe that anyone on the internet gives a good goddamn what YOU think.
    So, who’s the real moron?

  • Awesomesauce

    I care what he thinks…

    Well, I don’t really, but I like to disagree over the internet. It keeps me fresh!

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Careful, Lindsey. Where do you get the idea that Spork believes that anyone online cares what s/he thinks, or even worries about it? If you want to attack him/her, attack on real faults, not what you imagine Spork’s thoughts to be. Remember that tinyfrog tried to make claims about what s/he imagined your thoughts to be, and you understandably told tinyfrog where to shove it. Why repeat tinyfrog’s mistake?

    Bear in mind that you are dealing with two groups here:

    * jerks whose comments boil down to a noun, a verb, and “moron,” and

    * adults who are criticizing your claims without making personal attacks.

    I suggest worrying more about the latter than the former.

  • Spork

    Senator Oren Hatch claimed his magic underpants protected his skin from fire where his holy drawers covered him, moron. That’s certainly a magical pair of underoos.

    Go find some magic rocks and pretend your cult makes sense, you whackaloon.

  • http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com Felicia Gilljam

    I realise this thread is pretty much dead now, but I’d like to point out to Lindsey that several of us have asked for the proper discussion we wanted in the first place, and yet you’re only ever responding to the person (people?) calling you a moron. What’s up with that?

  • SarahH

    The whole thing reminds me of the last exchange in Burn After Reading:

    CIA Superior: What did we learn?
    CIA Officer: Uh…
    CIA Superior: Not to do it again.
    [pause]
    CIA Superior: I don’t know what the fuck it is we *did*, but…


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