So, I've spent several months over on a discussion forum, called Is God Imaginary instead of here blogging. I find the quality of the posters there is amazing, and, ya know, there are more of them than there are regular readers of this blog.
Anyway, I've done well enough with that that the powers that be on that forum have decided to make me an admin. Which means I (along with another guy) take care of the database, and can suggest and implement changes to the software and structure of the forum. It's open-source, so there are ongoing tweaks so that we can give structural/institutionalized support to positive discussion practices, and discourage things we don't like. Give everyone enough space so that there's a community, some private spaces where sub-groups can connect, and some public spaces where everyone can mingle and learn about each other.
Why is that interesting to you, my five or so readers? Because that's where my focus is going to be, and it's actually a pretty cool place. There are people there from all over the world, from all kinds of different backgrounds and beliefs (from Quakers to Catholics to young earth creationist calvinists, atheists, agnostics, pacifists and Republicans). It can be a volatile mix, but the strong emphasis the admins have on running it in a way that is transparent, and their genuine hope to build a place where respectful discussion takes place, means I find it unique and really interesting to participate in. So, if you've liked what you've seen on this blog, and you want more of the same, IGI is the place to be. And, if you take a look and think something there could be changed (particularly to make it a more welcoming environment for new members, because they're still in a growth phase) your suggestions would be welcome.
Since I'm doing my thinking over there now, mainly, what I might do is cross post some things I wrote there. For example, here's a discussion I started yesterday, titled "God: the stone in the stone soup of life?"
I remember when I was a kid, there was this story my parents read to me, called Stone Soup.
Details are here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_soup
Basically, guy has stone + pot full of water, and describes how amazing stone soup tastes, and convinces everyone around to chip in a little. And everyone does, and in the end, they all had an amazing meal. Soup, from a stone.
This made me think of religion. So far, I haven't seen reliable evidence of God. But I have seen evidence of the power of the idea of God. Kind of like the power of the idea that stone soup tastes great. And in the end, it does.
So, what do you think? Is God like the stone in the stone soup of life? And if so, if you take the stone away, what replaces it? In a godless society, what stone will we coalesce around to promote charity and communal behaviours? There is evidence that religious people give more generously to charity (I think some is on Unkle E's site). So, is the lack of a stone for our stone soup a problem?