When it comes to atheist/agnostic groups, I believe a lot of them become wrapped up in a great debate with the theists.  But what is accomplished in these debates?  Very rarely is a theist convinced to see things from another perspective.  These people are already fixed in their beliefs, to a point where they want to get into debates with the other side.

 

Little is accomplished with these debates, in my opinion. I am agnostic, and I feel there is no need to push my beliefs on someone or debate with people who will not see eye to eye with me in the long run.   

Instead, I have a vision of a stronger freethinking community.  A place where like minded people come together to discuss ways of living better.  A physical place to educate their children on our way of life.  The theistic community is often wrong about what it is to be atheist/agnostic.  We are strong minded individuals with a deep sense of morality.  Our morality does not come from what an ancient culture wrote down thousands of years ago, it comes from our ability to rationalize and empathize with a given situation. 

 

I believe it is easy to become alienated in my area from not being a theist.  There are strong cultural values implanted from generations of religious traditions.  It's tough not having an outlet.  Ultimately, I would like to form a group that brings together people from all areas, so no matter where we go, we will find friends.

Religion is strong because of its community.  Despite what we disagree on fundamentally, the idea of helping one another, and giving back to the community is a good thing.  This is what a group of atheists and agnostics should be.  Not to debate and boast its superiority, but to strengthen its community by cultivating its ideas of living better with one another. 

I'd like to form this group, part of the reason I joined this site; to find other people who share a vision of a stronger community.  

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Comment by Nicholas Yanoshak on May 19, 2013 at 2:35am

Thank you for the encouragement Easton.  I have started to find more people in my area.  I pitched the idea to my co-worker and he if willing to help build this community.  We will be reaching out to others in the area, once we have a clearer definition of what the group should be.   I'm glad that I am finding more people all over the world on this site.  I believe it is a good place to cultivate ideas.  

Comment by Easton Le on May 18, 2013 at 2:40pm

Nicholas, I encourage you to research resources in your local community relating to what you are interested in. I've begun doing the same in Seattle since I've recently decided to become more active as an atheist. Wilkes-Barre looks like a sizable town, I'm sure you will be able to find a handful of people to discuss a potential organization if one doesn't already exist. Even if it's just two or three people I think you will have succeeded. I'd also like to encourage you to create a web presence as well as posting any taped discussions on Youtube if you think they'd benefit the greater community.

Off-topic, but I'm just curious, why did Wilkes-Barre/Scranton/etc develop as a city like that? Topologically, I mean. I looked up your city on Google Maps to see if you lived in a small town or large city and started scratching my head because of its shape.

Comment by Nicholas Yanoshak on May 17, 2013 at 2:46am

The overall goal is to be a part of a solid community where people of like-mindedness get together and work towards bettering each others lives.  A solid foundation for a person to help raise a family with good secular morals and ideals.  Children to be presented these ideas at a young age.  I admit, i was raised Roman Catholic, and I have no idea how to even begin to raise a family.  Most of my family traditions stem from a religious background.  

A community would be a place to discuss matters such as these. Also, host events, like  philanthropy, single get togethers, cookouts, etc, etc.  

Comment by Easton Le on May 17, 2013 at 12:02am

Maybe I should just start blogging instead of writing comments.

Comment by Easton Le on May 17, 2013 at 12:01am

(I am just beginning to learn about philosophical history so I apologize if anything I write is inaccurate or outright wrong.)

Our morals may not come from a thousand years ago but before the rise of Christianity we were exploring morals and many other intellectual pursuits that began in Philosophy. In Greece we had Thales of Miletus, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle as prominent names, and their schools of philosophy in Academy, Lyceum, and Gymnasium, which also served other purposes but for the sake of discussion we'll regard the schools of thought. I'd also like to point out that these schools existed in the presence of religious institutions.

The schools survived for a very long time and influenced the lives of people throughout Greece. If it weren't for Justinian the schools would have continued in their explorations about life outside of religion. Instead they were ordered closed because they were directly and successfully competing with religion.

There were probably many other great thinkers in that long period of intellectual exploration but only a number of their works survived. You probably already can guess why. But these works in time were utilized by religion, Christianity, at least, to legitimize those religions and make them more effective. From what I've learned Aristotle and Plato were very agreeable to later Christian thinkers.

I'm pointing out these schools of thought because I think they're very important in regards to the future of atheism.

When I think of religion I think of something that argues validation from ludicrous examples of divine revelation to support mythologies as factual stories. And these stories are the arguments for moral behavior. There may be inquiry about these stories but there are no real questions. None that matter. And this is reflected in religious institutions. The conversation is ALWAYS one-way. Even when it isn't.

I read that Socrates was a very convincing man. But Socrates was a teacher and he listened to his students. He continued to seek knowledge about life and questioned what he already knew to make sure it was accurate. I suppose as effective a teacher Socrates was, he could've gotten away with just sharing his knowledge and ignoring the probing questions his students presented that confronted his arguments. But he didn't. And he grew from it. So did the schools of thought after his time.

Though I think it's important to wrench back many assets that were absorbed by religion over the millenia, or even useful discoveries made by religion that are actually secular in nature, I don't think the future of atheism lay in supplanting old institutions with newer, better ones.

I think it will grow from new schools of thought. Places, like in the past, where people could go, learn, of their own free will and leisure (people have lives), ask questions, and only take from them what they think will improve their lives. Places where life and morals are continually being explored and may change over time. Doctrines may not exist but there will be plenty of reading material. And questions! Lots and lots of questions!

It would sort of be like college, in some ways, but you'd go once a year and skip class early to throw darts at the pub.

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on May 16, 2013 at 9:47pm

Theists are sometimes persuaded by atheists. Done it. Seen others do it.

Silence is at odds with deconversion, acceptance and tolerance. Racists thrive in such an environment. Homophobes thrive. And the failure to oppose theism leaves the edifice of Islam intact.  

Comment by Loren Miller on May 16, 2013 at 9:24pm

Theists don't want to be convinced.  No true believer ever does, and indeed, they CAN'T be convinced.  They've been scared beyond any consideration of any opinion other than their own.  They aren't worth my time, my words or my effort.  The only ones who we MIGHT reach are those who are tentative, who aren't sure, who are still open to new data.

If I run into someone like that, I treat them like fine china.  I let THEM talk and I listen ... and where they need clarity or elucidation, I offer what I know.  The fact of the matter is, THEY Are The Ones Who Need To Come To Their Own Conclusion. 

If I can catalyze that, then great.

Comment by Sentient Biped on May 16, 2013 at 9:14pm

The reason Nexus exists is to foster community among nontheists.  As time passes, it may or may not be the community that you need, but I hope it is.  Welcome.

My favorite quote, which I use a lot:

My creed is that: Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so.

Robert Green Ingersoll

Comment by James Yount on May 16, 2013 at 7:52pm

I don't feel I'll ever convince a determined theist that they are wrong.  However the debates do serve to give them another foundation for things if they ever start questioning things on their own.  One cannot ignore the fact that atheism has sharply risen since people like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins decided to be more outspoken.  

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