I thought that Atheist watch was a group that sought dialog with Atheists. I am getting the impression from Mr. Hinman that he absolutely HATES Atheists. He's interested in spewing his hatred of us. Atheists are simply people who have no god belief. Period.We're a highly diverse group in any/all other matters. It's OK if others worship a god or gods.We don't care. I stopped believing way over 60 years ago, but I have friends & relatives who still believe. No big deal.
I'm glad you raised this issue, as it gives me a chance to clear up some misconceptions. First let me state that
(1) I do not hate atheists
(2) I do welcome dialogue
(3) I have not declined dialogue on this blog, as one might notice.
How can you say that I do not welcome dialogue when the last post was a long huge running dialogue with an atheist? The only comments I've rejected are those that contain personal attacks. I do get hate mail and hate comments sent to the blog that are aimed at destroying my self esteem. Having said that, the purpose of the blog has never been and is not stated to be dialogue. It's not a group, it's me. I am it. I am Atheist Watch, no one else is in on it with me. Let me tell you the history.
I first discovered the internet in 1998 when I was caring for my parents. They both had Alzheimer's and my father had a big heart attack. Rather than put them in a nursing home (60% abuse rate in Texas nursing homes) I took care of them at home. This took a total round the clock effort and I was not free to go out every much. It was like being in prison. The Net was a godsend. After my parents died I continued my apologetic because I had built up over three years an elaborte set of pojects (including my website Doxa, my first board on Inside the Web (long gong now). I made a lot of friends I had a thriving cybre social life. I saw reason to get off. One thing I really enjoyed was the fact that I had made a big splash. The atheists were sort of shocked by my arguments, they couldn't answer them. They didn't really share the same knowledge base that I had as a doctoral candidate in the history of ideas. It did flatter my ego. Some atheists came gunning and would actually "I've heard that you really have something and you can answer all the argumetns I'm here to take you down." It was almost like high noon, the gun fight. I was Marshall Dillon.
My academic career began to slip away during those three years I cared for my parents. But I managed to hang on and got though my language requirement while I was caring for my parents. Then I worked as a TA after they died, but only for a short time. Then I settled down to write my dissertation. My academic career was very important to me. It's the only thing I ever wanted to be (professor) and I began wanting that as a sophomore in high school. But after my parents died (two years apart) I was burned out. I had been so stressed from giving them constant care that even though I was working as a TA I could not write my dissertation. It took a couple of years to get back to a point where I could work on it. But by that time I has began losing the house in foreclosure because the mortgage company lied an cheated and stole the house. I fought them for a year, but I was unable to think about anything else. My brother was arrested during that time. This arrest largely involved Police not understanding people with mental problems. I was caring for my brother just as I done m parents. He helped with the parents too. But ultimately it was on me.
During all of this time I made great strides on the apologetic thing. As my graduate school career went down the tubes I retrenched more and more into my apologetic thing. I had published an academic journal. I was refereed and indexed and part of the academic world. A couple of major people in the field liked what I was doing and backed up. I had to give that up because I did not do that and change my parents bed pans, and change mother's diapers, follower her down the road to keep her from getting killed when she was in the wondering phase of Alzheimer's and so on. I lost everything I ever cared about and then what I wound up with was this internet apologetics thing. It is not a career, I wont be remembered for it. It wont ever be noticed by the academic world. Its' a really poor substitute yet it's all I had. So it was very important to me. It was too important. I agree I was rapidly moving from doing it for the right reason (wanting people to know God) to doing it for the wrong reason--to replace my academic career).
The problem with dialogueing with atheists has always been that there is something atheists do that they do not know they do. I beileve that the primary reason atheists go on message boards and blog and argue with Christians is to feel superior. they like the rush they get from feeling smarter than a whole group of people (the majority of people). Maybe I"m wrong about that, but what I'm not wrong about is that all Christians on the net always feel insulted and harassed by atheists. this problem has always been there. Atheists refuse to see it, they don't understand what they do. Every atheist has at some point presented a snotty attitude to religious people. Some do it not very much, some do it all the time. None of them ever seem to care. Most Christians believe as part of our faith that we are suppossed to respond in love, to just let it roll off your back, answer good for evil, and so on. So most of the time Christians just accept this attitude as par for the course. It's something all Christians talk about and always have. In private emails and in email groups and on private boards where atheists can't come we are always talking about the snotty attitude. The average sort of thing is like this "there's no proof for your sky pixie." The impression is constantly created that we are stupid, we just live by superstition, the atheist world view is based upon reason and logic and ours is based upon stupidity and superstition. Christians had learned that if you go on a message board you will be treated like this. We all accepted it as the price to pay for trying to tell people the Gospel.
Along about 2004 it got about ten times worse. This was when the first rash of books for the "new atheism" came out. People started using the phrase "new atheist." The attitude of the new atheists had first began to really hit the message boards. Atheists who had already been somewhat snotty suddenly became totally unapproachable for dialogue. A wave of vicious hatred was unleashed. Atheists would not accept and did not understand that they exhibited the old snotty attitude, they were totally in the dark about the way they came across (and I don't think many of them really cared anyway). This situation made me angry because it seemed by compensation for losing my career was being taken away. I came to realize that it is impossible to have a dialogue with someone who thinks this about you. you cannot have a rational discussion with unlevel playing field. People who treat you like you are a piece of shit will not listen to your view point fairly in a dialogue. If you think that people who vote for Bush (for example) are really dumb and that to vote for Bush is a sing that they are not bright and all there views are based upon ignorance, then you are not going to listen to what they say in a dialogue. Now I did not support Bush. If truth be told I though he was pretty stupid, I didn't think all his supporters were (I'm using that as an example, nothing more).
As this situation developed, I lost the house, we had to move to a bad apparent complex with lots of drugs and violence around. I couldn't find another job, I had to quite my studies right at the door step of getting the Ph.D. At that point a snow ball effect began to occur with the way atheists related to me and the way I related to them. The problem is I'm not content to be a door mate. I fight back. Atheists became extremely insulting, I insulted back. Well that may not be Christ-like, but it was definitely provoke. When the situation go to a certain point the atheists on secular web began a systemic campaign of character assassination. They spread the word, when I make arguments they can't answer they would turn to my personality. They began to circulate the ideas I'm arrogant vicious and insulting. Of course it never dawned on them that this might have been in response to the way they were treating me. Then they hit upon the one tangible short coming they could find: my spelling. They were too immature and ignorant to understand anything about dyslexia. They were not about to start researching it. They would just say "look how bad your spelling is" as though that answers all my arguments. Then they realized they could connect the two. They decided I must be lying about graduate career because after all, how could a guy with a Ph.D. spell as badly as I do? None of them knew anything graduate school. It never occurred to them that I put much more effort into papgers for school than I did for a board no the net! I would post about probably 20 posts a night on a slow night. I had a message board that I abandoned last year, went from summer 2000 to a year ago and has 25,000 posts by me. That is just a small fraction of the posting I did. I did maybe 14 short papers (1-2 pages) and about eight long papers a semester as a student. So of course I would put much more effort. I git my mother to proof papers when she was alive and in her right mind. I got others to proof them latter.
They spread the word, they would come on my blog and say "you lied, you never went to graduate school." "Now you know you never were a doctoral student, they wouldn't let you have a Ph.D you are too stupid." I earned a Ph.D. I did everything required and did it well. I had a 4.0 for five years. The only thing I didn't do was oral exam defense and turning in the dissertation. I even did my qualifying exams an the professors said "this is the best qualifying exams I have ever seen that this university." but the idiots on the internet don't know anything about Graduate school. It never dawned on them that when I spoke of the graduate experinces I reflected real experinces that I would not have known had not been a graduate student. they didn't know the material so it never dawned upon them I was highly conversant on the issues of the topics I spoke of. they have crummy vocabularies so it never dawned upon them that I have a 50$ per word vocabulary when I want to write that way (and I used to do that a lot). None of that meant anything,I can't spell, and spelling = intelligence in their stupid ass little minds so therefore I can't be smart. That dug in my heart like a knife. Here this was the compensation for losing the career I spent a life time developing and yet I was being cheated out of it by people who could not know what I went through, didn't care, had no concept of what I was talking about, with whom I could not communicate.
The Character assigns spread all over the net. When they got too hard to deal with at CARM which had become my main haven. Then the big atheist massacre on CARM came and the bright one's left. The one's remaining were totally hostile. The systemic character assassination spread throughout the net. I would try to find new boards and people on boards I had never heard of would say "O you are that Metacrock guy, we don't want you here because you lying about being a student and your real insulting and real stupid." The one thing I had left to hand on to that came out of the disintegration of my life (parents died, house stolen, career lost) was posting on the net and now it seemed I was universally thought of as a pariah by all atheists. If they would never take my arguments seriously there would no ponit in even trying to post. I had found my blog so I retreated largely into my own boards and my own blog and just began to react and lash out against them.
Then I began looking at the Atheist community as a whole. I moved beyond the little personal bickering matches in which I was bogged down and I began to ask myself "what is going on with these guys, what can I compare them too?" It seemed that a large segment of the message board atheists were just a bunch of thugs. they had no desire to talk and they just lashed out with a bunch of petty concerns designed to do nothing more than frustrate real argument. I had a long list of a whole bunch of boards and looked at them and showed that all Christians on there were treated like lepers, like scum. They were ridiculed, regaled, treated liked like pariahs. Atheists seemed to have an aversion to actually arguing they would just go for the personality of the apologist first thing. I explored these boards and even posted on them and found myself attacked this way just for trying to lay down serouis arguments: sec web, infidel guy, Atheist. org, and a several others that don't even exist and several I can't remember. In the beginning there were a couple of boards like this: the Wasteland, the Godless zone. Most of us just knew to stay away from them. After 2004 I could not find a single atheist message board that was not like that.
I used to put down a challenge to atheists to pretend to be Christians and go on those boards. Make serious but polite arguments and really try to defend the bible and see how you are treated. I've never heard form anyone who claims to have done it. Once I actually got the atheists on carm to go on atheist net and say " we are atheists we want you to argue seriously with Metacrock" and some did this, there were still a few that liked me then on CARM. They even cursed at those atheists and called them names, just for asking them to talk with me seriously. Slowly it began o dawn on me that there was a segment of the atheist community that was simply a hate group. I never thought it was the whole of all atheists. I never said it was.
The original Atheist Watch has as it's mission statement and slogan "keeping tabs on hate group atheism." Atheists took this to mean "all atheists are a hate group." I specifically denied that I meant it of all atheists. But no one ever acknowledged that I made this distinction. I said it over and over again in the beginning and yet they would say "you think all atheists are a hate group." I specifically said "No I don't think that." Next time they would go "you think all atheists are a hate group." I was aware of friend atheists who would help me and be nice to me. But they were the minority, the small minority. I began comparing this segment of atheists to the FBI hate group profile and find that up to stage four (there are about seven stages) they fit perfectly. God back and see the first post on this blog and you will find that comparison.
In spite of all of this I still see the Hate movement aspect as confined to a small subset of the whole. I was an atheist. I know what it's like to be one. I once faced down a whole class of first year philosophy students who were just a bunch of redneck hicks in a Texas university trying to fulfill a requirement. They wanted to beat me up because I was an atheist. But I didn't back down. Yet, the atheists today remind me more of the rednecks who wanted to beat me up then they do of the atheists I knew in college. I get hate email all the time. They don't just "you are stupid" they really try to smash my whole concept of who I am as a person. They curse my life, they say my whole reason for existing is gone and I should kill myself. Some have accused me of lying about my parents they were never sick I didn't care of hem ect et. Some have alluded to my penis size, which of course they do not know. They are nothing but scum. I know this is not all atheists. I know all are not like this, but there's no question that there is a segment who are like this.
I concerned me that I saw the hate segment growing. I still see it growing but i think it has slowed down a bit. I still see now real understanding among atheists about how the come across to religious people or any consciousness of what they do that sets religious people off and makes them feel insulted. For a while I focused on trash. I focused on the most hateful things I could find among atheists. Then I began to realize focusing on hate made me more hateful. Now I am not concerned with unearthing the hate incidents on the net. I also found that there is a paranoid right wing among the fundies who think they are begin persecuted when they are merely being disagreed with. I think it's more important to create understanding between the two groups than to make the atheists aware of how bad some of their ranks can be.
Atheist watch was down for a few months becasue I purged the old examples a dredged up of hate speech among atheists. The new mission is rational criticisms and an understanding of why atheists think as they do. Maybe I've focused more upon the arguments agianst atheism than I have on understanding why they think as they do, but I do feel that the New Atheist Watch is a lot more fair minded and balanced and civilized than the first go. Maybe there is still room for improvement. But I think atheists have to be honest with themselves and become critical of their own movement. I don't yet see any real desire expressed among their ranks to understate this change. In the long run I think development of these qualities will serve your cause better than continuing to deny that there are any hate elements among atheism at all.
They have made my personality the target of their vile attacks so long that I began to act like this is all about me. It's not about me. It not about my personality. I am arrogant. I think a right to be to an extent. I really did have a find education and I did have a bright future I will never see now. I can be very insulting and I have been insulting to people, but it was never just because I'm mean slob. It was always a response to perceived abuse. Yet there comes a time when you have to just stop responding to the crap and shut up. Otherwise it just goes on and one. So I am not going to defend myself any further. I think the only real cure is understanding. But atheists must begin to look at themselves critically.