Member Rara Avis
So, we did not succeed in making the point that ideas are being stifled here by a few who flood threads with Christian advocacy and preaching ...
Sorry, but no, you didn't. While preaching is a loaded word, with some rather negative connotations, advocacy and persuasion are still welcome here, at least as long as other Guidelines are observed.
More importantly, however, I've seen no indication that threads are being flooded. This one hasn't been. We could probably pick out a few more, too. I think religion in general, and Christianity specifically, only enter a thread when appropriate (though perhaps not always only when invited).
Do we really want a forum dedicated to "Myths, Mysteries, and Metaphysics," but, oh by the way, all Christians please stay out?
... who turn discussions into contests ...
A contest, I think, implies competition and a prize. We certainly don't give any prizes, and while we can't (and won't) stop people from being competitive, I think it remains up to each individual whether they want to compete. A one-person contest, in my experience, ends very quickly.
I suspect what you would call a contest, icebox, I would probably call a challenge, not to a person, but rather to the ideas being presented. I think challenging ideas, both old and new, is a good thing.
... inquiry into score kept debates ...
Who's keeping score?
... and who turn away any others with ridicule, belittlement and sarcasm.
That's an entirely different issue, one quite apart from any subject being explored. Whether it's religion, politics, or "Myths, Mysteries, and Metaphysics," attacking the poster instead of the post should never be allowed. It's often a fine line and I'm sure our staff doesn't always resolve things as "everyone" would wish, but we do try to maintain a civilized decorum in ALL of the forums. As always, we very much welcome the help of anyone willing to point out specific examples.
Writers draw on all experiences, not just those that may be listed as being in keeping with points won. The freedom to explore ideas in a non-combative environment, and perhaps to share that exploration with friends is essential in expanding a writer’s awareness.
I suspect that is, indeed, the crux of the matter, icebox, and you'll probably be very surprised to discover that I completely agree with you. That's exactly why we have Poetry and Prose forums, and why we usually try very carefully to steer replies to address the work and not the theme. There have been numerous times over the course of our years when controversial poems have incited debate and, in each instance, we've tried very hard to maintain that non-combative environment we both value. It's, again, not always easy to separate craft from theme, but we do try.
However, the minute you add a Discussion tag to a forum, that necessarily changes.
The message is being preached clearly on this site: accept and believe or shut up and get out.
On the contrary, icebox, that is precisely what I'm trying to avoid.
I personally don't think I want a discussion forum labeled "Myths, Mysteries, and Metaphysics" where people are expected to accept and believe or shut up and get out. Do you?
In some people's belief system, it is wrong to argue to change another's belief system -- they must find the truth on their own.
Iliana, I'm honestly not sure how to even respond to that.
What do they talk about? I mean, the minute they open their mouths to say something there is the danger they will change another's belief system? Indeed, as soon as they tell me it's wrong to argue to change another's belief system, they are arguing their own belief system? I just can't conceive how something like that would work.
That's okay, though, because I don't need to understand to accept. Those people are certainly free to post here, and are equally free to ignore the challenges to their ideas that will almost inevitably follow. I'm sure they wouldn't want to try to convince anyone that the challenges are misguided or wrong?
I do think Piptalk's community discussion forum has room for these types of discussions (I've seen it done before) but many of us have given up on the philosophy forum.
You shouldn't, Karen, because the Philosophy forum, like all of the forums, is exactly what people make of it. Points can be made, but points can also be ignored. For example, I long ago stopped spending much, if any, time on semantic quibbles from people with a poor understanding of semantics. Life is much too short, and I content myself now with encouraging people to think without actually trying to teach them how. They should have to do some of the work, after all.
Be that as it may, however, I agree that the existing forums, even if Philosophy is excluded, already have room for the discussions being suggested in this thread. I think the reasons being offered for why a separate forum is necessary are, at once, unfounded and probably unenforceable. People who want to preach to the choir can't expect the choir to meet in the middle of the mall, lest they suddenly find themselves preaching to unbelievers. I think they need to find a secluded church if they are to escape disagreement. The good news is, those secluded churches exist on the Internet. This just isn't one of them.
Personally, I think exploration without discomfort is impossible. I don't believe writing is about letting people "find the truth on their own," so much as it's about sharing our own vision of truth. And those versions are bound to conflict at times, bound to cause a little discomfort, and when we're really lucky, bound to incite a little deeper thought and exploration. Truth doesn't just float to the surface, though it's often easy to mistake the scum we can see for the depths that we can't. Diving in search of what is lurking on the bottom isn't easy and probably shouldn't BE easy either.
You know what the first thing is they teach when training for scuba diving? The vital importance of the buddy system.