I am new to this stack exchange, and it may appear strange that my very first post is one on meta. However, I want to make sure that my presence will not be a pointless source of frustration. I am an atheist, but I am also curious about religions (not specifically the Christian one, but I will of course not ask questions about other religions here), and often seek to understand how they can fit a logical framework.
Other meta posts seem to have a general agreement that atheist questions asked in “good faith” (no pun intended) are welcome. However, humans are complicated creatures, and people easily feel attacked when someone seems to question something that is sacred to them. Therefore I would like to ask some guidance on how I can peacefully participate to this website through questions and comments.
Here are a few points that could be problems:
- My questions would sometimes “challenge” either the very existence of God, or other important elements of the religion. The goal is obviously not to try to “convert” anyone to atheism, but simply to understand the answers of Christians to some apparent logical problems in the dogma. I understand however that, in my personal experience, it often makes people feel defensive. Questions could revolve around specific takes on topics such as the problem of evil, the coherence of ethical questions in the Bible, etc…
- My questions would not be specifically addressed to one community. Virtually everything I would ask would be very general, and fall under the overview category?
- I tend to consider some arguments such as “god’s plan are beyond our understanding, and you cannot apply your limited logic” or “you have to believe first to understand” as non-answers, as they shut down the possibility of critical thinking from a non-believer. This may feel frustrating to some posters.
- I have very little knowledge of theology. In other stack exchanges that I am more familiar with, “layman” questions are accepted but I am not sure if this is the case here.
- English is not my native language, as you might have noticed by now. I understand the particular importance of careful phrasing when discussing sensitive topics with sensitive people (which, statistically, this website must have). However, my clumsy English might not allow me all the necessary oral precautions
- I am not especially sensitive myself, but I would be put off by people actively trying to convert me, or warning me about the eternal damnation that awaits me (which is a warning I never heard spoken seriously when discussing irl, but which comes up often online)
- I would be very grateful to get logical answers to my questions, helping me understand the Christian viewpoint. I am however likely to come up with counter arguments. This could lead to an endless debate, which, especially online, is cumbersome and almost always pointless. To mitigate the problem, I was thinking of the following general “plan”: asking a question -> getting an answer -> posting a comment to it to expose my counter arguments (if any) -> invite counter-counter arguments but mentioning that I will not answer them to avoid an endless discussion. Do you think it is wise?
Here are a few stuff that play in my favour:
- I come in peace.
- It’s a great occasion to showcase the tolerance of Christians.
- If people that answer my questions are likely to have already heard a version of it before, other readers might benefit from both the question of an outsider and the answers of their peers.
- I think that’s it. I’m not selling this well, am I?
I would be glad to know if you have any suggestions to mitigate the problems mentioned. If, in your honest opinion, you think that, in practice, no good will come out of this, by all means, let me know.
EDIT: Would you recommend that I specify that I am not a believer when asking a question? I don't want to be misleading, but I aslo don;t want it to be read as provocative (or cause people to not go further in the question)