How to Leave Comments on This Site

by Luke Muehlhauser on November 6, 2009 in How-To,News

wrong on the internet

I know the vast majority of my readers do not leave comments. But allow me a post to the commenting minority…

There is no “comments policy” for this blog. Excepting spam, I’ve only deleted a couple comments from among 8,000. So for the most part I let people say what they want to say, even if it’s offensive and unhelpful.

So I have no plans to ban anybody for being an asshole.

But I have a few requests.

And these are not to protect me. I don’t really mind the attacks, and I haven’t gotten many anyway. It’s mostly my readers who have been attacking each other. So I’m really trying to protect the dialogue.

I should note that I have not always conducted myself according to the principles below. But I’m gradually changing my approach. I’d like to change the tone of this site if possible. And I need your help to do that.

Here are my requests concerning comments on this blog.

1. Choose the attack mode last.

Only some comments intend to dispute something, let alone “attack” it. You may often want to simply express your agreement or link to a related article or ask a curious question.

But this is a blog about philosophy, a subject in which a great variety of views have articulate defenders, so of course there will be disputes.

But dispute need not always come in attack mode: “God, you’re so ignorant! Have you ever heard of studying before you blabber your mouth about? You’re so wrong you don’t even know!”

Even if such a response is correct and even deserved, it might not achieve the effect you want. People don’t usually respond to such attacks very well. If anything, it gives them an excuse to tell themselves, “Well, this person obviously doesn’t have his head screwed on straight. I don’t need to take what he says seriously.”

Such harsh attacks also inspire the receiver to respond in kind, which leads to a cycle of useless hot air being expelled by both sides.

I’m not saying we should never attack. But I’m saying we should consider some other ways to get our points across, first. For example, you could ask some gentle questions: “Have you studied what the experts have said about the subject? There are some pretty smart people who disagree with you. What do you think of their arguments, for example that…”

Or you could offer your own subjective report: “You know, I actually used to agree with you on that, but then I was persuaded otherwise by the arguments of ____ and ____. The part that changed my mind was…”

You could also offer an unadulterated argument, clean of personal attacks or condescending and dismissive language: “I get what you’re saying but I think Plantinga offers a pretty strong argument against this. He argues that…”

2. Seek understanding before victory.

Philosophy is all about trying to persuade each other (while being open to persuasion yourself, of course). We try to “win” each debate by giving the best reasons and arguments. And part of that is done by showing the weaknesses of your interlocutor’s position.

But first, make sure you understand your interlocutor. So often we misunderstand the other’s position, and make false assumptions. But this just leads to frustration for both parties. Before disputing the other’s claims, make sure you understand them. Ask for clarification about terms that may have many meanings, or arguments that are unclear.

This will also make your interlocutor feel good about you. Everybody wants to be understood, and so feel people take the time to do so. Take an interest in really understanding the other person, and they will appreciate it.

3. Show respect.

“But respect must be deserved!” comes the reply. And surely is does. But I’m not asking us to show people the respect you have for Gandhi. I’m just asking us to show people some respect as fellow humans.

We all make mistakes. All of us are ignorant about nearly everything. We all fall prey to cognitive biases, even with the best of intentions. And all of us – let us admit it – sometimes do not act with the best intentions. We can get carried away in the moment and bend the truth a bit to make ourselves look good. We can trick ourselves into thinking we are smarter or more informed than we really are. We can talk with more certainty than we should – after all, certainty can make us more persuasive, and that is what we want!

Moreover, showing someone undeserved respect may change their tone toward you, get you a better response, and incline him to consider your position more seriously than he would if he felt disrespected. Even Hitler would be more likely to consider your position on the equality of the races if you show him some human respect, though he deserves none of it.

4. Read your comments back to yourself.

For a while, YouTube let you hear an audio preview of your comments before you posted them. The innovation was inspired by a webcomic:

youtube audio previewMy blog doesn’t have a comments audio preview feature, but the idea is this: If you read your comments back to yourself before posting, you may realize that some of them are harsher or less fair than you had intended. And then you can go back and edit them before posting.

Well, that’s it! I enjoy the discussions that occur here, and I’d like all my readers to have as fun and constructive an experience as possible. Thanks for your help!

Cheers,

Luke

P.S. Also see How to Debate.

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Todd White November 6, 2009 at 9:26 pm

Luke: I like the cartoons. The rest of the post was good too ;)

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Geoffrey of Ballard November 6, 2009 at 9:31 pm

It’s tough to find considerate discussion in meatspace, and even harder on the Internet.

I usually read your blog, as they say, for the articles.

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lukeprog November 6, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Is “meatspace” a reference to this classic short comedy?

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Geoffrey of Ballard November 6, 2009 at 9:45 pm

@lukeprog That’s a great short story…thanks for reminding me of it again!

I’m not sure where I picked up the term. Apparently it’s been in the OED since 2000.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meatspace

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lukeprog November 6, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Huh. That’s a useful term. I usually just put “real life” in quotes, which is annoying because online life is perfectly “real.”

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Ben November 6, 2009 at 10:57 pm

The people that need the most correcting are also the ones with the most excuses and who are the least likely to listen.

“If you are a troll, stop trolling.” Trolls don’t think they are trolls.

“If you are stupid, don’t comment.” Stupid people don’t know they are stupid. hehe

I appreciate the intent at least, but in my experience, I just end up giving myself advice because I always end up concluding no one I want to listen is going to listen.

Good luck, though.

Ben

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Jeff H November 7, 2009 at 7:49 am

Luke, this whole post is entirely and absolutely wrong. Why don’t you get a brain, you stupid, ignorant twit.

:)

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Cecilieaux Bois de Murier November 7, 2009 at 10:14 am

Excellent. I may steal some of it for my blog.

Could I recommend something, apostate blogger to apostate blogger? It would be really nice if you would reply to your commenters.

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lukeprog November 7, 2009 at 10:43 am

Cecilieaux Bois de Murier,

I do my best. I usually do reply, at least to those who request a reply.

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Silver Bullet November 7, 2009 at 3:18 pm

I’ve been pondering just these matters over the last few weeks Luke.

I allowed myself to get caught up in the insult slinging with Vox over at his blog (I just couldn’t resist), and I’ve regretted it ever since.

I remain in admiration of your maturity, particularly given your young age.

Best,
SB

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Lee A. P. November 8, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Luke,

Your a total stoopid and I’m total greatness for posting this. God sux. I saw u neked on youtube. Theists are stupid shits. I can’t use your and you’re properly. Plus, I mispell and typpo a lot of stuff and I post when I drink.

Theists should lick my sphinktor and smell my shit because they are totally wrong.

Love,

Lee

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Rick Duoos November 11, 2009 at 11:51 am

I have never been an atheist and I don’t believe they exist. I have seen you-tube videos from the Amazing Atheist and I didn’t find his ranting and cussing the least bit amazing. I listened to a debate from the author of The God Delusion and I was embarrassed for him. I have debated a friend on the topic of evolution and I was saddened by his deliberate choice to disbelieve creation by presenting unprovable credos. He had a lame excuse for constellations, for example. He said that the stars will change position in 100,000 years because light moves so slowly. I believe the Genesis account that God holds the stars in place for signs and for seasons. (Genesis 1:14) In reality, the stars would kaleidoscope through the sky if there was no One to hold them in place. Each star’s light comes to us from a different time in light-years making God’s feat all the more awesome. I have a mathematical problem for any intelligent person that will prove that the Earth can not be as ancient as our school-books tell us. (When Jesus turned the water into wine, He made something new appear to be old.) Will anyone accept the challenge of intelligent debate? Here is the problem-
It has long been known that the sun is it’s own self-contained energy source. It’s annual shrinkage is carefully and scientifically measured. Using scientific sources and simple algebra, answer the following questions.
1.What is the present diameter of the sun?
2.What is the rate of shrinkage per year?
3.What is the diameter of the orbit of the Earth?
4.How long ago (in years) was the diameter of the sun equal to the diameter of the orbit of the Earth?
When the Bible is carefully studied, it becomes obvious that it is a science and history book, not a silly religious book like so many others. Always pray for guidance before you read. God bless you.

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lukeprog November 11, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Is Rick Duoos an atheist plant? What do we think?

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JamesFox November 19, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Hey Luke
Good job with the blog and all your other thinking and writing efforts. You’re now on my blog roll. Lucky you! One small thing. I’m not able to open the page “My Story”, It only opens a blank page with the blue sky and cloud background and the title bar on top.
Cheers ~J

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lukeprog November 19, 2009 at 3:30 pm

JamesFox,

Still works for me. Try another browser or reset your browser settings…

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JamesFox November 21, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Seems to work on my home computer but not at work. I’ve set this blog as one I follow on Facebook through Networkblogs. You would need to put your self in as the author. I also sent you a friend request on Facebook (real name Jacob Vohs)
~J

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Cena December 3, 2009 at 12:58 pm

works as charm on my home computer…

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atheismisdead December 19, 2009 at 4:39 pm

Looks like your website is under attack from supernatural forces…

http://dyn.politico.com/members/forums/thread.cfm?catid=2&subcatid=7&threadid=3449994

you really need to add comment moderation to your blasphemy…

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Joel December 22, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Hey, pretty good website. I would like to say, however, that your arguments are really out-of-date and pretty illogical. You should check out apologetics315.blogspot.com for relevant arguments from professional Christian apologists. As a Christian, I would really like to see up-to-date, relevant, thorough argumentation from atheists.

Have a great week and a relaxing weekend,

Joel

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Yeah...right January 6, 2010 at 12:41 am

It’s funny how Atheists always use the argument that EVERYTHING was fabricated and missapplied. Where do you see any prophet who has remotely fulfilled the prophesies. How about Isaiah 53? Can that be misquoted. And don’t tell me the suffering servant is Israel, because Israel isn’t without sin or blame, and earlier in Isaiah it states that Isreal has sinned against God. So how can Isreal die for the sins of the world? Do some rethinking, moron. You lose.

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Mark Smith January 8, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Jan 8, 2010
Hi Luke;
Didn’t see you at the Dec. 9th debate- was looking forward to it. Would like to discuss web construction etc. issues with you sometime face to face (I live in Orange County).

Here’s a link to a highlights of the debate.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LzKVilag0k

I got the DVD in the mail, and in watching it, still can’t believe the number of points the xtians didn’t even try to respond to. Easier to ignore than answer.

Anyway, send me an email sometime- would like to meet you. We’re planning a beer/pizza DVD watching party sometime soon down here if you’re interested.

–Mark Smith
JCnot4me.com

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Doug Peterson January 25, 2010 at 5:39 am

I was following the Luke-Tim Challies letter exchange. However, after weeks of effort I have never been unable to access Luke’s second letter, dated December 22, 2009. No document appears on that page in the archive. Has anyone else had that problem?

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lukeprog January 25, 2010 at 10:23 am

Doug,

This page doesn’t show up for you?

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Tom January 31, 2010 at 2:11 am

Luke,

Aren’t you just saying that fulfilling more or greater desires has intrinsic value?

Tom

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lukeprog January 31, 2010 at 4:34 am

Tom,

Good question. See the 6th question down in the FAQ.

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Vic Stenger February 9, 2010 at 6:46 am

Nice website but name is grammatically incorrect. It should be Commonsense Atheism.

See Manicstreetpreacher for review of my debate with Craig.

http://edthemanicstreetpreacher.wordpress.com/2009/12/20/stenger-craig-debate/

Vic

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lukeprog February 9, 2010 at 8:52 am

Stenger,

That’s a good post; thanks for the link.

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Neil Manson February 11, 2010 at 9:38 am

How, exactly, do you know whether a person is an atheist or a Christian? Clearly you do not know this by asking them personally. And clearly you don’t know it by asking acquaintances of all of these philosophers of religion what their true stance is, since many philosophers of religion keep their beliefs to themselves. I suggest you add a new category in your classification of philosophers of religion: “orientation unknown.”

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lukeprog February 11, 2010 at 10:38 am

I already have an ‘unknown’ category. As my page states, many of these are guesses. But you’re right, perhaps I should be more generous in classifying people as ‘unknown.’

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Rodger Tutt February 17, 2010 at 7:04 am

It is infinitely more difficult for me to be atheistic when I am asked to believe that Creation, with all of its awesome intricacies supposedly just evolved out of subtances that had no first cause, than it is to believe that an intelligent Creator (i.e. Jesus Christ) started it all. 1Corinthians 8:6

My problem has never been, “Is there a God?”
My problem has always been, “What is He like?”

I think one of the primary causes of atheism is Christianity’s doctrine of everlating suffering for everyone who dies without becoming a Christian. I would rather live out my life as an agnostic, and try to treat everyone the same way that I would like to be treated by them, and hope for the best in the next life, than try to love a god who would let anyone suffer forever.

That is why I am glad there is evidence that God is not like that, eg
http://www.godfire.net/eby/circularity.html

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ZarathustraMike February 18, 2010 at 8:08 am

On the subject of Martyr-dumb….. If they worship being a Martyrs…. I sugest we NUKE their entire Village and make their dreams come true!

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anonymous February 21, 2010 at 11:43 am

the reason no atheists are arguing / debating with you is because you (one who has ‘religious faith’) are mentally ill. at least, that is why i do not. the truth is, your arguments (especially “scientific” ones) do not hold up to even minor scrutiny, and are not worth addressing, as there is volumes of REAL scientific evidence against you (carbon dating, fossils, etc.), and almost no real scientific or any other evidence in your favor. (other than claims made in your religious texts, which is inadmissable as real evidence in any case.)
i won’t be returning to respond, so don’t bother.

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Rodger Tutt February 21, 2010 at 12:06 pm

If it’s a sign of “mental illness” to trust in a God who loves me, then I hope that I never recover.

I’m convinced that after we have thought the very best thoughts about God, we can be sure that He is even better than that because He is able to do above what we can even think, Ephesians 3:20. And IMHO I cannot think any higher thoughts than universal transformation.

I believe that after our resurrection from the dead God will eventually somehow transform every second of everyone’s suffering into something better that it happened.

That includes both the unexplained and seemingly unjustifiable suffering that we all experience in varying degrees, as well as what the Bible calls “kolasis aionion” which means age-during corrective chastisement that everyone who needs it will experience.

I believe that God will eventually fit every unique individual into His master plan in a positive way that necessitates their unique temporary involvement in evil and suffering that will enable God to manifest, and glorify, and magnify the many facets of His character in a way that uniquely involves that person, and everyone else involved in that person’s life too.

I believe that God has both the ability and the intention to save all fallen creatures from everything from which they need to be saved, and He will not fail to do so.

I believe that God’s determination, within the wise counsel of His DECRETIVE will which is that which MUST occur, to eventually rid all of creation from suffering, will in every case, overcome the strongest will that is temporarily opposed to God’s PRECEPTIVE will which is what His creatures OUGHT to do.

I believe the only mistake that I am probably making is in grossly underestimating just how gloriously God will achieve this universal transformation through what Christ accomplished for everyone by His death and resurrection, through the power in the blood of his cross. That is the kind of God that I see in the Bible.

Realizing that he is including everyone without exception, the following quote by universalist Dr. Leslie Weatherhead nicely sums up what I believe. I’ve had it memorized for many years and love to quote it frequently.

“God’s purposes are so vast and glorious, beyond all guessing now, that when they are achieved and consummated, all our sufferings and sorrows of today, even the agonies that nearly break our faith, the disasters that well nigh overwhelm us, shall, seen from that fair country where God’s age long dreams come true, bulk as little as bulk now the pieces of a broken toy upon a nursery floor, over which, thinking that all our little world was in ruins, we cried ourselves to sleep.”

Dr. Leslie Weatherhead mentally ill?
We should all wish for such a sickness. :-)

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ZarathustraMike February 21, 2010 at 1:50 pm

You just proved my point, Tutt. You’re DELUSIONAL!!!! That’s a mental ILLNESS! In case you haven’t heard. You can assign all kinds of imaginary powers to your MAKE-BELIEVE ‘Ghourd’….. That still doesn’t make him real! It just proves the depth of your affliction! And, Just because your name is Tutt, don’t ASSUME you’re some kind of King of Logic…….. You’re not. All of your arguments have been proposed millions of times before…. and NONE of them have ever been proven!

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Rodger Tutt February 21, 2010 at 5:12 pm

ZarathustraMike: You just proved my point, Tutt. You’re DELUSIONAL!!!! That’s a mental ILLNESS! In case you haven’t heard. You can assign all kinds of imaginary powers to your MAKE-BELIEVE ‘Ghourd’….. That still doesn’t make him real! It just proves the depth of your affliction! And, Just because your name is Tutt, don’t ASSUME you’re some kind of King of Logic…….. You’re not. All of your arguments have been proposed millions of times before…. and NONE of them have ever been proven!  (Quote)

I am confident that in the after life, after you and I have been raised from the dead my arguments will be proven to be true.

Until then I don’t mind being perceived as delusional and mentally ill. I’m 71 and I live a happy because of what I believe.

Are you happy? And if you are happy, why are you happy?

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ZarathustraMike February 21, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Hey Tutt, ever see people with Downs Syndrome? They walk around happy all day too!

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Rodger Tutt February 22, 2010 at 4:15 am

ZarathustraMike: Hey Tutt, ever see people with Downs Syndrome? They walk around happy all day too!  (Quote)

I believe that God has the desire, the ability, and the determination to transform all the negative situations in our life into something better that they happened for everyone involved after we have been raised from the dead.
THE PURPOSE OF EVIL
http://thegloryrd.com:80/apadams/evil.html

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ZarathustraMike February 22, 2010 at 4:46 am

Dear Tutt, BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT! Evil does not have a purpose! Evil is a HUMAN trait, just as being good is a human trait…it’s not a living being. Get your head out of your ass… or I myself will have to become EVIL… because you’re too stupid to even get what I’m talking about. You’re fucked up because of the ignorant stuff you read…. and you don’t have the intelligence to get past some the very wrong thinking expressed in what you read. And, by the way.. why does your OMNIPOTENT ‘ghourd’ allow EVIL if he’s so OMNIPOTENT? Either he’s not…. or he just doesn’t care! WHICH MAKES him EVIL!

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ZarathustraMike February 22, 2010 at 5:44 am

Rationalization! What a wonderful thing! Helps you explain what you can’t any other way……. kind of like belief in ‘ghourd’…. the unknowable, Omnipotent one!

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Rodger Tutt February 22, 2010 at 9:05 am

ZarathustraMike: Dear Tutt, BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT! Evil does not have a purpose! Evil is a HUMAN trait, just as being good is a human trait…it’s not a living being. Get your head out of your ass… or I myself will have to become EVIL… because you’re too stupid to even get what I’m talking about. You’re fucked up because of the ignorant stuff you read…. and you don’t have the intelligence to get past some the very wrong thinking expressed in what you read. And, by the way.. why does your OMNIPOTENT ‘ghourd’ allow EVIL if he’s so OMNIPOTENT? Either he’s not…. or he just doesn’t care! WHICH MAKES him EVIL!  (Quote)

For me as a Christian universalist, the answer to your question is quite simple, yet profound.

Looking back from the point of view of the consummation of God’s plan for the ages of time
THE EONS OF THE BIBLE WITH CONCORDANCE
http://www.saviourofall.org/Tracts/Eons2.html
everyone will agree that it was better for everyone that everything happened the way that it did.

I believe that after our resurrection from the dead God will eventually somehow transform every second of everyone’s suffering into something better that it happened.

That includes both the unexplained and seemingly unjustifiable suffering that we all experience in varying degrees, as well as what the Bible calls “kolasis aionion” which means age-during corrective chastisement that everyone who needs it will experience.

I believe that God will eventually fit every unique individual into His master plan in a positive way
that necessitates their unique temporary involvement in evil and suffering that will enable God to manifest, and glorify, and magnify the many facets of His character
in a way that uniquely involves that person, and everyone else involved in that person’s life too.

Then, after God has used the existence of evil and suffering to achieve all the reasons why He
temporarily allowed them to exist, He will erdicate them both from existence.

I call it “universal transformation.”

Here is a good writing on the subject, written of course from a Christian universalist point of view.
THE PROBLEM OF EVIL AND THE JUDGMENTS OF GOD – A.E. Knoch
http://www.concordant.org/expohtml/TheProblemOfEvil/index.html

What is it that makes you glad to be alive Mike, if you don’t mind me asking?

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Julie March 23, 2010 at 7:02 pm

wow if you think im delusional for believing in God, thats ok….I love God! :)I wont argue with anyone here about whether God exists or not, that is not my purpose in being here. I have just discovered this blog and will continue to peruse it, as a friend of mine is doing a bit of resarch on atheism and when I stumbled accross this blog thought it interesting and might be helpful in gaining an understanding on how athiests think. Many of those who dont believe in God have been “attacking” my friend and some have been quite abusive for exercising her right to believe in God and also exercising free speech. It is anyones right not to believe in God as long as those who dont dont try (though laws, protests and any other method) and take away my right to do so :)

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Adam Christopher Grubb March 24, 2010 at 6:10 pm

I just wanted to say to all the Atheists, I love you as people and I plan to pray for those that post on this message. I have friends that I care about that are firm Agnostics and Atheists, and as I don’t care to debate with them I always let them know that they are in my prayers and my heart. I wish that more “Christians” were open to listening before judging, but none of us are perfect. I find my glory from being who God made me, and I just hope that everyone finds thier own peace. Thanks for reading, and for those like me have a blessed day. For those not like me have a awesome/rocking day as well.

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Trace March 27, 2010 at 6:24 am

I would love to help give you all a common sense look at the bible.Alot of how you feel is lack of understanding,from what you have been taught or read on your own.I saw the same things and felt the same way.i went to church untill i was 15,it was all about sin going to hell and being punished.I did not believe the ot stories they were impossible,also who was there writing down the conversation between God and satan.How do you get a china man and woman out of noah.Do you know what happens to a child when brother and sister get together,Its not good.It does not speak of the dinosaurs.
My life was awful,and i was a very good person.i blamed God for allowing this to happen,at 25 i couldnt take any more told God as i was driving that You told me you would not put on me more than i could handle,and i cant handle no more.I turned off the road at 100mph and hit a tree dead on.When i opened my eyes i was sitting up next to my car.Not a scrach on me.I looked up to God and said why,are you not done tormenting me.This went on for 13 years.I tried many times to be saved,and baptized.If you cant beat Him join Him.It never helped and when i tried to read the bible it was like in another language.I was so angry at God so once again iwas done at the end of my rope made a plan and when i went to go through it,things happened and i ended up in a mental ward for a month then a pastor who i went to to get saved directed me to a religous program.Now i still believe what i said earlier but i had a family and was willing to try again.Many things happened there that i just could not deny God working in my life.It was amazing but not even close to the end of my troubles things got worse then worse but i never quit studing and learning and seeing God work.Why all the problems from trials it makes you stronger and teaches patience.Patience is earned and when earned is a wonderful gift.Even what i believe God helped me,and answered all my questions i had about the bible.I have a understanding that makes so much sense from what we know today.I watch people my whole life and i understand so much i spent the last 6 years learning and putting together a message that doesnt exempt any one.If you are interested in hearing it i would like to know.Theres one catch you must be willing with your heart not your mind.If you think you already know then you cant be taught something else.

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