June 21, 2009

Proposing a Project for Atheist Bloggers

== Summary == Universal recycling symbol outli...Image via Wikipedia

I have had this idea for awhile but more urgent things have kept coming up to delay this post. What if several atheist bloggers all started to write down the questions and challenges we constantly receive from Christians and poorly informed atheists? And then what if we could develop a convenient way to share our posts that responded to such questions with each other? If we had some way of group them into a manageable number of categories, we would produce a shared pool of information from which we could each draw.

You see, I am quite convinced that many of the Christians who troll our blogs or e-mail us this stuff are merely recycling a rather small amount of material. From this categorized list, we could write blog posts that provided reasonable thorough responses/rebuttals. That way, when one of us received another one of the comments/challenges, we'd already have the response ready to go - a previous post from our own blog or another atheist blog to which we could link.

To a degree, I've already been doing this. I suspect that most of you have as well (in fact, I know some of you have). But I've been doing it in a much less formal and not especially useful way.

Let me give you a quick example. I have lost count of the number of times I encounter the "atheism requires faith" claim. After realizing it was going to keep coming up and that I was wasting time by writing the same responses over and over in the forms of comments or e-mails, I wrote "Atheism Does NOT Require Faith." Admittedly, it is not one of my better posts, but it at least gave me a starting point for when it next came up.

Here's the embarrassing thing though: I didn't realize when I wrote that post last year that I had already written one with the same title a year earlier! What this tells me is that having a ready supply of such posts is only half the battle. One also needs an effective system for finding them. Of course, this would be even more critical if they were distributed across several atheist blogs.

I'm not sure of the best way to do this logistically. The Atheist Blogroll Search Engine is a great tool, but I haven't found it particularly useful for this purpose. I wonder if something like delicious would be good at such a task. I've been using it to tag posts with keywords to help me find them later when I am searching for recurrent themes (e.g., morality, faith, meaning of atheism, etc.). It can certainly be set up to share this sort of information with others, but there may be better options of which I am unaware.

For all I know, others won't even like this idea. But I thought I'd through it out there in case it appeals to anyone. It seems like it could reduce the amount of time we spend retreading the same ground. It also seems like we would benefit from making it easier to find and use what others are writing on many of these recurrent subjects.