Why Do You Blog? May 27, 2008

Why Do You Blog?

Great Christina raises some important questions in another terrific post:

What is your mission statement?

Why do you blog?

I’ll add a few more:

What is our endgame as atheist bloggers?

Do we want religion to become eradicated?

Do we want more theists to treat atheists and atheism with respect? — This would involve the notion that laws would not be passed based on religious beliefs.

Do we just want to rant?

Personally, I feel like I’ve done something worthwhile when I hear from people who say this blog has helped them come to terms with their own atheism. Or even if they remain religious, being part of the conversations here has allowed them to loosen the grip that religion had on their lives.

It’s also nice to hear from people who may not feel comfortable with a more in-your-face approach to atheism that some of our talking heads (or typing hands) employ, but they don’t mind the tone that they find here.

It’s not perfect. I know some of you don’t think it’s always friendly and don’t like some of the things on here — I’ll be posting about that in a few hours. It’s a work in progress. It’s a fine line between respecting religious people and criticizing their religious beliefs. Sometimes, it’s very easy to do the latter with no regards to the former. And I’ve tried to take steps to make sure religious people — at least the more “liberal” of them — aren’t afraid of coming here and joining in the conversation. Again, more on that shortly.

Over time, the site will get more consistent and focused, and hopefully, it’ll allow more “borderline” atheists to be comfortable coming out of their closet — They would feel that the postings on this site reflect the way they think and they’re ready to say so publicly.

So why do you blog?

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  • Bad

    When even PZ Myers doesn’t really want religion to be eradicated, you just know something’s wrong with that simple characterization of what most atheists want.

  • Like Christina I’d like to see reason take the place of superstition. At it’s very worst Christianity is superstition, at it’s best it is a great ideal to aspire to. I’d want people to move towards the good idea end of the spectrum and embrace compassion and friendship for others. I want people to move away from the fire and brimstone, Fred Phelps school of god hates fags. I don’t think that this is unreasonable.

    I’d like to see people sharing ideas and being free to change their minds or even just to be wrong about stuff. I get to be wrong all the time, it’s great because I get to learn from my errors. Religions have adherents who say that they are right but refuse to answer questions that contradict them. They refuse even to consider these questions.

    I want government to stop supporting religion and I want religion to stop supporting government. Your constitution should guarantee that but it seems that there is no will to enforce a separation.

    I don’t see me changing anyone’s mind though. I doubt if one single Christian, Hindu, Jew or Muslim will become an atheist as a result of reading my opinions. People might become more tolerant of my opinions and more accepting of the idea of living without gods. I think that’s the best I can hope for. Equally I’ve found myself learning a great deal from atheist\Christian dialog and must say that I’ve become much more accepting of the views of theists as a result.

    I don’t see an exit strategy. I think it is an iterative process, for everyone.

  • It would take me all day — or a week — to compose a proper response to this. I can’t do that right now because I have other obligations.

    In January 2006, I wrote this on my personal blog:

    My purpose will be to help make the world safer and more comfortable for women and minorities.

    How will I accomplish this?

    By creating things that provide comfort, such as hand-knit items to donate to charity and knitting books that allow others to create comfort, and by continuing to provide free knitting patterns and charity knitting information on this blog.

    By using my writing to advance reason and enlightenment and to oppose fundamentalism and the beliefs that breed hatred, violence, intolerance, and ignorance.

    By valuing–and encouraging others to value–the ideas, creativity, and contributions of women.

    By supporting secular organizations that help women and the glbt community.

    By speaking out whenever I can in private and in public to point out injustice and to defy the censorship that silences those with no political power.

    In each of these areas, I will volunteer, work for pay, and develop personal projects.

    I forget about this a lot as I go through my busy life and daily activities. But it’s good to come back to it once or twice a year to see if I’m on track or if I need to update my mission statement. I think it needs to be updated a little bit, but that will have to wait until fall or winter.

    On a related note, I just read PZs blog this morning and I find that I’m less and less interested in what he has to say. I don’t want to come across like a mean prick like PZ does because that will do nothing to further my cause. I am beginning to understand what people mean by the term “fundamentalist atheist” and I am beginning to think that those who put all religious people in the same basket are playing into the fundamentalists’ hands by forcing moderate religious people to take sides with the fundies. I want them to take sides with me in support of tolerance, reason and science (yes moderate religious folks use reason in their decision making), secular values in society, and the separation of church and state.

  • Why Do I blog?
    I try to show that there is an alternative to religion, obviously. But, more so, to show that its alright if you don’t have all the answers, and its even better to be asking the questions.
    I am one of the atheists that isn’t also science lovers. I’d really like to build a stronger community of for people that don’t, necessarily, make the switch from religion right into science’s open arms.
    But really, I blog because it feels good.

  • The reason I blog is so that those of us who blog for no reason have a voice in the Atheosphere.

    I think that may be a version of Russell’s Paradox, but I’m not a philosopher so I can’t be sure.

  • On one level, I just blog just because I want to. But since I’m blogging, I have a choice of what to write. So I choose to write stuff that encourages people to think critically. The religion topic is there because it draws in a lot of people, and it tends to make for pretty good examples of critical thinking.

    As far as ultimate goals go, I, like Greta Christina, think it would be ideal for people to stop believing wrong things. This does not necessarily mean the end of religion, but it does mean the end of many religious beliefs and other beliefs. And this goal should be achieved only by means of persuasion (certainly not by coercion or ridicule). But unlike Greta, I think the scenario in which all religion is tolerant and ecumenical is a much easier goal to achieve.

  • I like to make simple, effective, layman’s-terms breakdowns of religious fallacy arguments I read on the internet and debunk them point-by-point, in such a way that (while they are time-consuming to type) they can be read by people who don’t have a whole lot of scientific knowledge in a particular area—people like myself, in other words.

    I do a lot of research as a result of things I read on other people’s blogs, or links I find when trying to find evidence to use in a discussion on someone’s blog, or from people who ask me questions on my own blog. As a result, I’m constantly learning stuff about scientific theories and evolution and—most importantly, I think—the way the fundamentalist Christianity side sees a lot of things; the identifiers they use to shape particular zany beliefs they might have.

    Bottom line; I like to start from the beginning and focus on Fundie arguments for particular causes (my most recent one is on homosexuality, and I wrote it after hanging out at Crossexamined.org for a week or so—you can find it at the link at the end of this comment), taking them down by starting with the most obvious points. I think that far too often, when arguing with fundies, people try to skip straight to the complicated parts, with no regard for the fact that a simple, commonly-understood belief has been overlooked, and that if we backtrack to the simple part and briefly discuss it, we’ll find that the other guy just doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

    (P.S. here’s that link I promised:)


  • Why do I blog?
    – because there are things that I feel force me to speak out, things that make me say something, which is why I named my blog You Made Me Say It!

    What is our endgame as atheist bloggers?
    – I don’t know what “our” endgame is. I don’t feel I have an endgame. I do however find it important for atheists to speak out to challenge people and ideas that threaten us. The result of such behavior is manyfold. Such challenges may be the ONLY challenges found anywhere, and as such can draw attention to threats, make people realize something is a threat, and can be the proverbial snowball that becomes an avalanche to crush such threats. Another important factor for atheist blogging is in many ways to be a beacon, a lighthouse in the storm for other atheists and freethinkers. Make no mistake, there are sadly many places in the US as well as the rest of the world where it’s frowned upon, even dangerous to express such things openly as we do on our blogs. I think the very existence of our blogs, at the very least, lets others know that it’s both ok to be an atheist and that they are not alone in this world in their thinking.

    Do we want religion to become eradicated?
    – Personally, yes, but by choice, not by some mandate. I want it to be something people overcome and outgrow, something people come to realize is folly and discard, but not something I want to kill or deny someone of. The best analogy I can make is perhaps smoking. I see smoking as detrimental and something I would love to see everyone stop doing, but I feel I have no place to force someone not to smoke. As long as their smoking has no ill effect on another and they don’t force it on anyone else, fine, smoke ’em if ya got ’em. Same for religion. If practicing your religion doesn’t hurt anyone other than yourself and you don’t try to impose it on others, knock yourself out.

    Do we want more theists to treat atheists and atheism with respect? — This would involve the notion that laws would not be passed based on religious beliefs.
    – I want EVERYONE to treat EVERYONE ELSE with respect, period. I see no point in making distinctions of who should be doing the respecting and who should be getting the respect. Laws can’t be made solely on the grounds of religious belief. That’s inherently exclusionary and contrary to what at least the US was founded upon, and contrary to what I feel should be the bedrock of all nations. An idea can have it’s origin in a religion, or might simply be an idea that a religion endorses, but that alone is not enough to make it a law. Like ALL ideas, it must have merit on it’s own, and if it does, then it should be considered for making into a law.

    Do we just want to rant?
    – Well yeah, that’s part of it. 😉

  • Karen

    Slightly off-topic, but somewhat related, an interesting story about blogging as confessional was the cover piece in Sunday’s NY Times Magazine.

  • What is our endgame as atheist bloggers?

    I dont really think there is an end game – for me blogging and being a secular/skeptic blogger isn’t about finding some sort of definitive end or conclusion. it’s about opening people’s minds to things and getting them to question what they read. I think that a lot of people get the wrong idea about my writing because I often challenge and question people – and they sometimes take that the wrong way. But really I’m just trying to get people to look at things and question the hell out of them instead of just taking things as they are – even if they’re coming from someone they think is a source they can just trust and go along beside.

    Do we want religion to become eradicated?

    Yes and no. There is a certain kind of religion out that that is absolutely beautiful. It gives people peace of mind, it gives them an outlook on the world that is just strikingly gorgeous and helps them to be forgiving – now religion isn’t necessary for all of that, I’m aware. The religion that needs to be eradicated is that which infiltrates the public sphere and kills people.

    Do we want more theists to treat atheists and atheism with respect? — This would involve the notion that laws would not be passed based on religious beliefs.

    And vice versa. I don’t like Dawkins at all. I strongly strongly dislike him because of his complete lack of respect for religious people. I would love every atheist and theist to have the same relationship that I have with the minister I live with. When one has a question about the other’s faith (or lack of) we go to one another and it turns into a big long discussion. It’s good. I like.

    Do we just want to rant?

    Everyone just wants to rant.

  • Robin Sampson

    Five Reasons I Blog

    1. To bring glory to God: This blog is my expression, a celebration of things I enjoy and believe will encourage others. God is the focus of my life and will therefore be reflected here. Blogging with this goal is obedience to Titus 2 . This passage instructs older women to ” teach others what is good.” Blogging helps me do this with other homeschoolers and with my grown children. I can give homeschool advice, spiritual insights, recipes, and scrapbook pages to my married daughters or anyone else who stops by. How neat is that?– to be able to document (by date) thoughts and ideas for your children.

    2. To grow spiritually: Journaling is an important part of my spiritual walk and part of my process of Bible study. I record insights, prayers, quotes, and things I discover. I used to write by hand on legal-size yellow notepads. Now I keep my journaling on my computer and blog. Here you will get nuggets of my personal trials, struggles, growth, joys and triumphs in my relationship with God.

    3. To learn new things: I write to learn. I record my personal reactions to matters by writing as I study topics–I learned about blogging by writing about it. I comprehend the material, record my findings, restructure the new information, and then share my understanding. When I began homeschooling I wrote down my goals and checklists that turned into my first book. I continued documenting our homeschool journey and the methods that worked for us and it turned into a 500-page book. I journaled my experiences studying Christianity’s history, Hebrew roots, and the biblical holidays and it turned into a 600-page book. Recently I’ve been writing to learn about Web 2.0.

    4. To make friends: Blogging is more powerful than journaling because of the interaction aspect. Writing to encourage others is good, but relationship encouragement is better. Jesus is our example. He was an effective communicator, not just because of who He is and what He said, but because He listened.Your comments give me another viewpoint (good, bad, or indifferent) and allow me to develop a relationship with you. Blogging with other Christians is fellowship. When readers allow me to know what they are thinking and feeling, it helps me to serve them and others better.

    5. To organize my thoughts and writing: When I write my thoughts, feelings, perspectives, rants, and opinions on legal-size yellow pads, it’s random and disorganized. Placing these thoughts in a blog requires instant categorization. I begin by writing randomly but drag, drop, move, cut and paste drafts to their proper home and sit back and feel good about it–like the feeling you get when house is sparkly clean.

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