Thursday, March 01, 2007

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

So I consider myself to be a pretty reasonable person. I try my best to be respectful to people of all faiths (or non-faiths) and I try to play by their rules when I'm on their turf. It's frustrating, though, when they don't even play by their own rules, and then get upset when I ask them to. It's especially upsetting when I feel duped, when I've been told I'm welcome as an equal and actually believed it, only to be scoffed at.

On a recent thread on the ex-CoC board entitled "The Pagan Roots of Christianity" I, against my better judgement, attempted to light-heartedly point out that, since the skeptics' rules are that nothing should be accepted without hard proof, perhaps it would be prudent not to start with the assumption that Christianity DOES have its roots in pagan beliefs. I wouldn't have had a problem with a thread merely discussing the similarities between pagan beliefs and Christianity, and entitled as such. There's just that old post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy thing, after all, that's easy to make, that I thought skeptics, being skeptics, and constantly claiming to hold up reason and logic as the highest goal, would appreciate the sentiment. But apparently, I wasn't aware of the rule that one need not be skeptical or logical if the claim is something attempting to discredit Christianity. Now I know better.

I find it interesting and rather telling that asking the skeptics to play by their own supposed rules of logic simply got more long diatribes about how Christians aren't logical or rational, and so they just don't get it. Out comes the usual comments about Christians relying on "faith" (which I imagine being said with a tinge of contempt, or at least pity), while skeptics (cue the spotlight and triumphant music) rely purely on reason and logic.

Just don't try to point it out when they don't.

I decided to add the ex-CoC board to my list of Lenten sacrifices. It wasn't this incident that prompted me to do so, it was a combination of recent ugliness in general. I normally go there in order to lend and receive support, and to stretch my brain a bit, consider other viewpoints, practice my reasoning skills, etc. All these things are good for me when a basic level of mutual respect exists, but when that isn't there, it becomes harmful and toxic. Recently I've felt the mutual respect wane, and especially at this time of year, I don't want to risk being disrespectul back. So I felt it was best to remove myself from the atmosphere for a bit, and focus on renewing my faith and life in Christ. After all, that's what Lent is all about!

27 comments:

Pup said...

U remember my views on the death penalty right? That we should use them for parts, make their death bennifical to the community they hurt. Well... I spent all morning at Jury duty.. for the sentencing of a Capital Murder crime. I didn't get picked.

Stephanie said...

Ha! I still have never even been called for jury duty (not that I'm complaining!)

Jennifer F. said...

I can totally relate. One of the reasons I closed comments on my site for Lent is that my atheist commentors often say things that make me have very, umm, non-Christian feelings towards them.

So many "skeptics" are as zealous and close-minded as the worst religious fundamentalists, yet if you point it out they completely freak out. Frustrating.

jd said...

Hi Stephanie, just wanted to say that I respect you. I agree, the drama is tedious. I've been kind of taking a break from it too, for other reasons. Anyway, I hope you're well.

Prairie Princess said...

It HAS been a little crazy over there lately. And yes, pointing out inconsistencies in skeptic thought can be kinda dangerous sometimes. I'm guessing that's the kind of thing that goes both ways, depending on who's having the conversation.

Stephanie said...

I totally understand, Jen, I think that was a smart thing to do for Lent!

Thanks jd, I know you do. ;-) Hope your break is a refreshing one!

Stephanie said...

Absolutely, prairie!

Anonymous said...

Stephanie -- I, too, really appreciate your perspective. I'm not a Christian, (just searching!) and I can see that both sides of virtually any debate seem biased. I wrote about this on the ex-coc board, and I got some different responses. Some people said they only appeal to reason (mostly the athiests), while others said they use reason and faith (mostly the believers). I think you inadvertantly proved my belief that EVERYONE relies on faith to decide their core beliefs.

Wasn't it strange to leave the CoC and confront faith for the first time, after being told either out loud, or just through example, that reason was all you needed to be a Christian?

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting and rather telling that asking the skeptics to play by their own supposed rules of logic simply got more long diatribes about how Christians aren't logical or rational, and so they just don't get it. Out comes the usual comments about Christians relying on "faith" (which I imagine being said with a tinge of contempt, or at least pity), while skeptics (cue the spotlight and triumphant music) rely purely on reason and logic.

Exactly! It's dangerous to point that out to them though as I found out today. I called a poster on his attitude (outside the skeptics part of the board) and was accused of being thin skinned at best and having a "christian persecution complex" at best.

I think since all the moves there has been an increasing antipathy towards Christianity.

Sarita
(Sorry if this comment gets posted multiple times. Apparently I forgot my blogger password :) )

Stephanie said...

Wasn't it strange to leave the CoC and confront faith for the first time, after being told either out loud, or just through example, that reason was all you needed to be a Christian?

Absolutely! Thanks for your comments =)

I know what you mean, Sarita, I'm sure people think I'm paranoid for thinking there is anti-Catholicism and/or anti-Christianity around, but I tend to think that a lot of them actually don't even see it.

Thanks for stopping by!

Cheryl said...

Sorry to hear how things are going over there. :/

We had an interesting discussion/study on doctrine and tradition tonight - ending (to make a long story short) with the conclusion that tradition is NOT a great evil, and is in fact itself scripturally supported, provided the tradition itself does not contradict doctrine.

And so the discernment and study continues.

Stephanie said...

Sounds like a good conclusion, Cheryl!

Anonymous said...

Steph,

Your problem is that you feel bound to live up to the expectations of the skeptics. That is, when they tell you that you must be rational, you humor them. You voluntarily agree to play by the rules they have imposed. The problem comes when you expect them to reciprocate. Just because they give you rules to play by doesn't mean the rules apply to them.

I suggest you pay no attention to their complaints about 'faith.'

--Bill Carson

Stephanie said...

Guilty as charged, Bill! I'm learning, slowly but surely =)

kate said...

The Pagan Roots fallacy is such a myth. I'd go over there and say so, but I don't have the energy after the PF business.

Stephanie said...

Completely understandable! (I was bad and looked earlier today, and now there's an abortion debate going on...yeah, I took the link off my favorites for the time being just so I wouldn't be tempted to look, lol!)

Anonymous said...

Be glad you didn't look. Not only are believers irrational, but if we don't believe in abortion we're also callous and unconcerned with suffering.

There's at least one overtly anti-Catholic comment in the thread. I think I'm just about done with the ex-board. There's too much negativity there anymore.

Sarita

Stephanie said...

It's really pretty sad :-/

Thomas J. said...

Well, as the guilty party, i must first apologize, as there was NOT contempt present, and if you will recall, I am one of the folks who pretty much always has your back.

The difficulty is, very simply, that you entered the discussion from a defensive standpoint, where most likely, you maybe shouldn't have entered that discussion at all.

That is not to say, Stephanie, that it is "none of your business", but to very simply say, that you KNOW where most of us in that dialogue are coming from, and to enter, basically asking for the topic of the discussion to be reworded because it did not fit in with the presuppositions which you possess regarding the authority and sanctity of the Catholic church.

When I have participated in discussions on the ex coc board related to Catholicism, or Christianity, I have entered the discussion "as is", without taking issue with the nature of Catholicism or the sovereignty of the Church or anything of the sort. If I have felt unable to do that, I have refrained from commenting on the thread.

When I have participated in discussions on THIS blog, related to your leaving of the c of C for Catholicism, I have tried to meet you on your own playing field, rather than questioning your faith at this time. In doing so, I think that I have demonstrated SIGNIFICANT respect for you and your beliefs, even though I do not share them.

If you doubt that I am speaking the truth, a quick review of both YOUR blog and MY blog should reveal that.

I must admit that I did respond rather snarkily, and for that I DO apologize, as I think that you are a wonderful person with the best of intentions. I am saddened, that rather than addressing me DIRECTLY via email or PM, you simply left the discussion board altogether, and then posted this blog entry, which is somewhat inflammatory. I think that I have demonstrated very clearly my willingness to communicate with you directly.

It would be inappropriate for me to go into a discussion of Catholics, and immediately begin to address all of the things which I think are fallacious about Catholic theology. Likewise, your immediate entrance into that discussion, with your dukes up, was not appropriate.

Keep in mind, that this discussion took place on a forum in THE SUPPORT GROUP BOARD. rather than the DISCUSSION board. This is a significant distinction. The primary purpose of that board is to provide support for individuals who have left the church of Christ. There are forums on that board for Christians to discuss ideas of a Christian nature, and a forum for those who belong to other, non-Christian faiths. The Skeptics forum is, like those other forums a place for those of us who have left the church of Christ to discuss our thoughts, feelings and ideas. It just so happens that those of us who consider ourselves "skeptics" have left Christianity as well. I am not sure why the rules change and all of a sudden it is a discussion and debate board.

Again, I regret that you got your feelings hurt and felt attacked in that discussion. i DO think that you are a wonderful person. I just think that your love for your faith can make you very defensive at times, and you feel the need to jump to the defense of the Church that you love. I am not saying that is a bad thing. But in many settings it is not appropriate. I believe this is the case in the discussion in question.

In all sincerity, I have nothing but the warmest thoughts for you,

Thomas J. Wilson

Stephanie said...

Thanks for stopping by, Thomas.

First let me say, while the incident was kind of the last straw for me, I didn't leave just because of it. I have felt an increasing animosity lately that just wasn't good for me. I also didn't want to make a big deal out of it on the board, but I was frustrated and wanted to get it out somewhere, so I chose here.

And in all honesty, if the comment had been from some of the more obviously and overtly anti-Catholic/Christian posters, it wouldn't have frustrated me as much. I expect inconsistency from them. I think, though, perhaps you don't even realize why I'm so frustrated?

I, too, attempt to play by the rules wherever I am. Actually, it was taking the rules to heart which prompted my posting. Is it not the position of skeptics that nothing is to be accepted without logic and reason and proof first and foremost? I was under the impression that this applied to EVERYTHING?

When I read the first post, my first reacion (honestly, not even in a defensive way, just a questioning, "skeptical" way) was, "Hmm...has this assumption been put to the skeptics' test, or are they just accepting this on faith?" I felt that my attempt at pointing out what I saw as an inconsistency in the usual skeptic rule of life was unfairly attacked.

If there had been a "skeptics only" tag (which I still think is a good idea) or even a disclaimer acknowledging the assumption that Christianity has Pagan roots was, in fact, an assumption, but that it wasn't up for discussion at that point, I wouldn't have intruded as I did. I was honestly trying to be consistent using the skeptic's way of thinking.

I look at it this way. When you go to a Christian thread, you, as you say, discuss "as is," as if their assumptions are true, not questioning their faith or basis of belief while on their turf, yes?

To me, the way to reciprocate that in the skeptic's area is to procede as if their assumptions are true...thing is, the very nature of skepticism is that there aren't supposed to BE any assumptions! So if I adopt that attitude when discussing with skeptics, there should be no fault on MY part for questioning any assumptions and asking for proof, of ANYTHING. Isn't that, after all, what skeptics say they rely on?? I did not go in there expecting skeptics to agree that Christianity was true, or to share any of my personal assumptions, or even to prove Christianity doesn't have Pagan roots. I went in there to ask a fair question, with what I thought would be a skeptic's point of view.

So, perhaps I inadvertantly came across as having my "dukes up," when I was actually just trying to play by the rules as a skeptic.

The resulting message I got was basically that skeptics don't have to be skeptical when it comes to something that is contrary to Christianity. I, personally, find that inconsistent, and inconsistency (especially among a group of people who supposedly pride themselves on being meticulously logical and consistent!) drives me a little crazy.

I hope that helps explain my POV, and how I felt I was actually very much trying to play by the skeptics rules, and wasn't just posting to be defensive. Perhaps, if you see something wrong with my understanding of what the rules of skepticism are, you can explain to me where I misunderstood.

As far as the Skeptic's Lounge, I've received conflicting messages about whether believers are welcome to post or not. I wish there was a more definitive set of rules, or at least a clear "skeptics only" message when that is wanted. I think from now on, it will just be easier to stay out of the folder completely.

When I have posted there in the past, I HAVE tried to set aside my "Christian" hat and procede as a skeptic, as much as I can. I do try to avoid any arguments or statements that have Christian assumptions at their roots. I think, though, that sometimes skeptics can be at a slight disadvantage.

You see I, as a Christian, am very much aware of the assumptions I hold, it's pointed out to me often enough...I think that skeptics, though, often aren't aware that they have their own assumptions lurking under the guise of skepticism, and they tend to get defensive when those assumptions are questioned, because their battle cry is that they have no assumptions. That has just been my experience, but I still try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes, I get burnt because of it, though.

Anyway, hope that makes my feelings a bit more clear.

Thomas J. said...

You know, I went back and reread your comment, as well as my response. You made a good point, and I was out of line. We are all fallible humans trying to cope with the changes going on in our world view.

Stephanie said...

Thanks Thomas, that we are.

jd said...

http://atheistethicist.blogspot.com/2007/02/lost-tomb-of-jesus.html

Steph, your point reminds me of this recent article I read about selective skepticism. You might enjoy it. He is pretty much in line with your reasoning. The article uses the recent Jesus tomb story as context, but it's main point is the one you are making.

Stephanie said...

Now THAT is my kind of skeptic! ;-) I especially liked what he said about free speech...it bugs me to death when people complain that someone criticized their film/music/whatever, because "I have a right to free speech." Uh, yeah, and so do they, lol.

Good article, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind, that this discussion took place on a forum in THE SUPPORT GROUP BOARD. rather than the DISCUSSION board. This is a significant distinction. The primary purpose of that board is to provide support for individuals who have left the church of Christ.

It's this attitude that is the problem. The ex-CoC board is not really a SUPPORT GROUP, it's an ENABLING GROUP. An unhealthy attitude prevails on the board. Stephanie is right: posters need to learn to show RESPECT for one another. Only by showing respect will the board truly be a SUPPORT GROUP.

--Bill Carson

wilsford said...

cannot relate to the tensions too much over threre (avoidance behavior) as i am so fed up with the presumption that we, as humans, have it all figured out--whether from the corner that argues that human knowledge is all-encompassing (the "rational" religion) or based on the perceptions put forth by another body of knowledge (the "faith" religion.

imnsho, nobody knows the full story of existence and faith is valuable. i realize that statement is so vague as to be practically meaingless 8-(

what i really want to say is that i value your perspective and think you are a neat person.

Stephanie said...

Thanks Wilsford =)