In free time, I sometimes go back and check blogs or sites that I’ve posted on in the past, and there are a couple of sites (Talking to Theists, which I blogged about here, and Atheism is the Rational Response, which takes its name from the infamous Rational Responders site) that I check despite the fact that neither have been updated in over two months. When looking at the latter blog, I finally paid close attention to the tagline:
A blog created to initiate intelligent discourse between atheists and theists.
Compared to the tagline of the former site:
Theism is full of holes, silly, and irrational. Here are discussions that show this.
this is a big improvement. In all fairness, it is an ambitious goal, one which one tends not to see on the Internet (I might suggest Victor Reppert’s dangerous idea blog as a notable exception).
However, when one looks at the content of what the author (“Maragon”, although her real name is Meagan, I believe) has to say, it really does not appear all that much different from the Talking to Theists blog (which she has contributed to in the past). One entry, entitled “You know what really blows my mind about Creationists/IDers?“, is (as you might be able to guess from the title) excessively combative, an outraged rant with vitriol spewing in particular at Way of the Master and other various creationists like Ken Ham (and here I use “creationist” in the narrow sense). If there was any intelligent discourse to be initiated on the topic, then certainly “Maragon” didn’t go about it the right way. To co-opt the old adage, the entry is dripping with vinegar, and one ought not to be surprised that the proverbial flies aren’t buzzing. (Aside: I commented on the entry, pointing out that there was clear-cut stereotyping and guilt by association going on, and “Maragon” responded by saying “Your tone as of late has been moving away from polite dissent, I’d appreciate it if you’d watch that.” I guess vitriol is only good one way on the blog, not that I was even that forceful in my words.)
And this isn’t the only evidence of a rather heavy-handed approach to any so-called “debate”; in comments to a “CJ” over the factuality of modern evolutionary theory, “Maragon” (here under the handle “maragonevolved”) got a little frustrated and started throwing around language that made it quite clear that the debate, insofar as there was an attempt to have a fair and honest discussion, was over. In response to several misunderstandings of what evolutionary theory says, “Maragon” said, “I could show you empirical evidence of evolution, CJ, but I am almost certain that you would simply dismiss it. That’s what people do with evidence that doesn’t fit within their theistic world view” (emphasis mine). After she used the word “skygod” to refer to the Christian God, I came right out and said that, although I was pretty much in agreement with her over evolution, what she was doing was ruining any chance of a worthwhile exchange. There was no response to that comment.
None of this should be taken as representative of atheists (or even atheist blogs), of course, but it is sort of disquieting that someone could profess to be promoting free inquiry but yet stifling it in action. If you’re going to profess integrity and fairness, then let it show through your practice, not just in your tagline.