I’ve been part of the community over on Debating Christianity & Religion since 2005. I initially went there on the recommendation of a different forum whose name I no longer remember because it was stopping all religious discussion because it offended the religious owners. While I find that generally pathetic, it was their site and their rules and I left the forum not long thereafter, moving over to DC&R. It was, at least at the beginning, a breath of fresh air. They had rules that didn’t favor the religious. They expected everyone to produce evidence to support their beliefs. Faith was not an adequate reason for making a claim. Even though the owner was a theist, he tried his hardest not to cater to religious sensibilities, he made sure there were moderators from every possible religious stripe, etc. It was one of my favorite forums for a long time.
Then the theists started to complain that it was unfair to expect them to present evidence for their claims. It was unfair to ask them to back up their assertions with anything other than faith. Unfortunately, the owner decided that theists just didn’t have to follow the rules. It wasn’t an official thing. The rules were never changed on paper, theists just stopped being held accountable. The quality of the debates went down dramatically. Most of them were little more than “I’m right because I believe I’m right, therefore I win!” That’s when I walked away, it just wasn’t worth my time or effort to debate against people who could just declare victory because they had blind faith that they were right.
I was gone for a good, long time, 3-4 years at least. I looked in from time to time to see if things had improved and they never really did and so I’d move on for another 6 months or so before trying again. Recently though, I stopped in and things had changed pretty dramatically. Oh, the rules weren’t any different, theists still weren’t required to back up their claims. what had happened, for reasons unknown, was that atheists had almost entirely taken over the forums.
For some reason, the overwhelming majority of theists have vanished. People who I remember being theists way back in the day were now identifying as atheists. There are literally a mere handful of theists remaining, There are still debates going on, it’s still active, but the majority of them seem to be more academic, between just atheists rather than between atheists and theists. There are a few theists still around but they don’t seem to be very fanatical about their faith and they aren’t winning debates, at least from where I’m sitting. They’re losing. Consistently.
That’s not the only place I’ve noticed this change. On other forums, where healthy debate has always gone on, the theists are vanishing. The ones that remain, by and large, are the zealots. People who are not only ignorant of their own religions, but of the world around them. They are the creationists, the presuppositionalists, the idiots who just demand they’re right because they’re right. They’re little more than laughing stocks who lose every debate because they have nothing intelligent to say.
I’m just wondering if anyone else has noticed this trend. On debate-specific forums, are the theists vanishing? Are they finally realizing that they have nothing worthwhile to say, or are they simply realizing that their religious beliefs are stupid and either deconverting, or just vanishing into the night to hide in a dark corner?
The problem is, DC&R isn’t much fun right now, it’s little more than an echo chamber because most people have no vested interest in religion and the few who do aren’t very skilled at making their case. It seems I just can’t win, either the theists get to ignore the rules and declare victory or they just leave and there’s no one worth debating with. I suppose this is yet more evidence of the downfall of organized religion but I find myself missing the good old days when you could challenge a theist and they had to at least make an attempt at a good showing. I guess even success has it’s downside.