Saturday, 28 July 2012

Preaching to the Choir?

Does the religious blogosphere just boil down to two armed camps?

It’s safe to say that I am really not very good when it comes to regular updates for this blog.

This isn’t because of a lack of trying; there’s a horde of half-written, unfinished posts lurking somewhere on my hard-drive that will probably never see the light of day anytime soon. Writing for this blog has become increasingly harder and harder since I started, and lately I’ve been pontificating as to why this might be rather than writing for it.

In many ways this blog has been extremely useful for me; it’s helped me better understand my own views regarding religion, scepticism and the various things I ramble about. Researching for posts has led to me discovering things I never knew about before, and putting my thoughts and views down into words has allowed me to develop and express them more fully.

Despite this, however, I have found myself questioning the real purpose of me writing this blog of late.

The religious blogosphere (for lack of a better term) does sometimes feel like it’s divided into two armed camps. On one side we have the non-religious; blogs like mine, or such as Grundy’s Deity Shmeity (someone who’s far better at this blogging shenanigans than I ever will be). It can be said that we’re fairly resolute on our stance towards religion, the supernatural and the divine; after all, we’re confident enough about our non-religious stance to be writing about it.

On the other side we have the religious blogs, the opposite ideological stance. They’re just as resolute in their opinions as their opposites; they too are confident enough in their views to be writing about them. Very often, there’s not much room for debate between these two sides. Particularly given that this is the internet.

Though discussions and arguments often occur, very often they boil down to both sides simply yelling their opinions to the online heavens and not really listening to what the other side is saying. Or else it’s merciless hole-picking, ad hominem attacks (from both sides, it must be stressed) and other unpleasant aspects of debating. We're arguing, sure, but not in the spirit of good debate. No-one's walking away re-thinking stances they might previously have held.

Overall, the whole thing just seems a little silly at times.

The people who visit atheist and agnostic blogs are very often either of the same opinion or of the complete opposite opinion. I can’t imagine it’s very often there is someone undecided surfing such blogs. Thus the whole thing feels a bit like preaching to the choir at points; they either already agree with you or have already made up their minds that you’re wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that writing about religion online is a fundamentally pointless exercise. Very often the opposite is true; as I mentioned I’ve learned a lot about my opinions and views in the few short months since I started this blog. But when I read an article spouting the same doctrines, glance through the comments sections where the same inane back-and-forth is occurring I do sometimes find the whole thing a little frustrating.

Maybe I’m just over-thinking all this.


  1. Way to promote my blog and undermine the point of it!

    Just kidding, thanks for the kind words, and I largely agree with you. That said, I became a regular of an atheist blog long before I considered myself an atheist. It's hard to convert the people who have completely made up their minds either way. I think the persuasive religious and non-religious blogs are fighting for the hearts and minds of the undecided yet interested. Showing the value of skepticism is probably more important than showing the value of atheism, but I just don't write well for broad audiences.

    1. I'd like to think that there's maybe some people who's opinions change over the course of looking through blogs like this. Don't know how often, but I'm sure it does happen.

      Thanks for sharing this post, by the way. Was wondering where all the sudden traffic was coming from.

    2. Shit, I don't have that kinda juice. It must be from the web traffic fairy.

  2. Good post. I too sometimes wonder what the real point of writing my blog is. There is definitely some preaching to the choir and there is definitely some pointless yelling back and forth, but that's not all there is. I have had a few good conversations with people who disagree with me, and even if no minds are changed, just understanding each other a little better makes the exchange worthwhile. And you never know if you have planted a seed that will work toward changing someone's mind later.

    1. A good point, that. I do enjoy a lot of what atheist blogs do and the points they raise, and writing this blog has been a lot of fun.

      I think I just need to avoid the arguing in the future; I don't think I'm cut out for arguing issues on the internet.

  3. Outside of the blogosphere, the only writers about religion from the atheist p.o.v. are professional atheists: former pastors, philosophers, biologists, cosmologists, etc. I find it refreshing to hear from other everyday people who are atheists. I'm currently being pummeled by a philosopher who insists that I must use her language and her rules to tell her I disagree with her. Well, I disagree with her rules, *and* her post, and I tell her so in plain English. You don't need a Ph.D. to have a valid opinion. I appreciate those other viewpoints, but I appreciate the voice of everyday average people who have realized the emperor has no clothes. Keep it up!

    1. I have a bit of a love/hate thing going on with Philosophy; it's fascinating stuff to read and learn about, but I really dislike how a lot of modern philosophers get too bogged down in the nitty-gritty of their chosen subject, all the technical terms and phrasings rather than the ideas.

      Failing to see the forest for the branches, or however the bloody phrase goes.

  4. Here's how I look at it...tens of thousands of children, teens, and young adults are getting on the Internet each day with questions about the faith in which they were raised. As someone who went through this before there was an Internet, I can barely comprehend how helpful it would have been to find content like this. As long as we remember this portion of our audience, I don't think we'll ever be obsolete or merely preaching to the choir.