Posted: Feb 27, 2010 4:23 pm
by jerome
This used to live on another board...

Very occasionally someone pm's me and asks for advice on how to survive and prosper on this board as a believer. I think to be honest they would be better asking any of the hordes of other theists who play an important and friendly role in the ongoing dialogue here. I seem to get singled out because I have been here a long time and post a lot, but I don't think I have that much useful to impart.

Still, here follows a little perhaps useful advice, or perhaps complete nonsense. You can judge for yourselves!

1. Participate. The only way to make friends and get to know people on the board is to participate. So you should not be constantly starting new threads about your pet ideas, while never responding to other peoples. You sure as anything should not "hit and run" - that is post a long challenge, then never log on again! This means you owe it to yourself and the community to play around in all the sub-forums. You should read other threads in your pet area, and be willing to jump on your fellows if they disagree. Even if you are a Creationist you may see other Creationists talking nonsense -- so say so, and explain why. There are no "sides" in a quest for truth. Honestly though, the key is participation -- open honest and friendly chatting, playful messing around, and getting to know folks. You don';t have to spend all your time on the board - but do step outside your own threads.

2. Be Yourself! This has three meanings --

i) don't try to be super spiritual, and never reveal your human weaknesses. It's silly. I feel comfortable in my online persona and swear an make terrible jokes from time to time, but I'm not "sucking up" -- I'm far worse in real life as those who have met me will attest! Human beings have weaknesses, lack knowledge of some areas, and are often wrong, and fancy people, and -- you get the idea. Be human not some mythical cyber-saint. Share a bit about your self, your problems, your hopes your fears. Don't give away so much you endanger yourself or set yourself up for iD theft though - just chat with mates. And don't tell us you have an IQ of 275 and the miss Joyful Prize for Raffia Work - one of the top respected scientists in the world in his field as far as I can make out posts on this forum, and yet has been modest enough to never tell anyone who he is. It is irrelevant to your arguments if you personally are an all singing all dancing polymath - I'm a often unemployed dude with an IQ of 100 and I manage. :)

ii) NEVER post someone else's arguments from another website unless you actually understand them, have thought about it, and can answer questions likely to arise. Just a give a link to the website, and say it interested you! Cut & pasting huge blocks of text is really frustrating: not only is it little more than plagiarism if you don't credit your source, but the person who writes a lengthy analysis or rebuttal is wasting their time as well, because if you can't discuss their critique you will just end up looking dumb and embarrassed.

iii) THE BEST ARGUMENT FOR RELIGION (not theism) is how you conduct yourself on this board. I always say I have only one argument for my Anglicanism, and I'm it. People often assume all theists are irrational, delusional, bigoted, fanatical and embrace blind faith while being intolerant wankers. The only way to refute that is by not being one - don't let us all down by being a stereotype! We all have things we don't know, and we all meet people on here who know way more than us - never fail to admit your ignorance, and concede you may be wrong. Learn! None of us are omniscient dudes, so even if we see no evidence for the opposing position, it may be that evidence exists outside our area of knowledge. Yes, even on the Mithras thing I admit I may be totally wrong -- if new evidence appears. :) You can argue ferociously your corner, but don't belittle or judge those who differ, and always remember - you hold many thousands of beliefs about all manner of things, if not millions -- and many are wrong! So be friendly, open and honest, and show people religion does not make everyone the kind of loons claimed. This is not a sly tactic - if you are those things be them, there are plenty of bigots in this world, but if you are not, then let people realize that.

More to follow have to go out. Feel free to comment, and add your suggestions and advice!

have fun
j x