Monday, May 3, 2010

No comments

My plea a few weeks back for feedback on expanding public outreach at CORE met with a tepid response. I guess most people are happy or at least apathetic towards what we're doing? (Seriously, that email address listed in the welcome message? toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com? That's for feedback.)

One person did respond with the suggestion that I turn this blog into a real blog with multiple contributors and feedback comments turned on. As far as multiple contributors, that would require rebranding the entire blog. Considering the hours I spent coming up with my clever title, that ain't gonna happen. "The Todd and Co. Blog?" I don't think so.

As for allowing comments, that issue gets raised again and again, usually as a criticism. I'm supposedly afraid of critical questions that I can't answer or I practice "censorship" or some such nonsense. Granted, the person who suggested it this time was actually viewing comments as a positive, but the usual context is scoffing. I understand AIG gets badgered about this too. Here are my reasons for not having comments on my blog, in no particular order:

First of all, the subject matter of this blog is too volatile to open comments. Tempers flare, insults are exchanged, people get angry, blasphemy is posted. This blog was conceived as a respite from that kind of atmosphere. This is supposed to be a place for thoughtful commentary on creationism and evolution. Maybe I don't always succeed, but at least I'm not stooping to petty insults.

Why not just open it up to moderated comments? Yeah, Paul Garner tried that, and it didn't work. He wound up spending too much time blogging and not enough time living his life and doing his job and stuff. Worse, he spent a lot of time repeating himself to critics who seemed more interested in scoring points against creationism than actually engaging in conversation.

Then there's the ridiculous sense of entitlement people get. I've seen it happen across the internet: A forum opens with very loose (and loosely enforced) rules. The forum grows in popularity, and the community decides it needs to enforce some order to make the forum manageable or useful or civil again. Then some users get all offended and start whining about censorship. It doesn't matter what the forum is about, every forum I've ever been involved with seems to go through the same growth pattern.

Most of all, I'm concerned what opening comments might do to me. I was talking to a Christian college professor a few weeks ago, and he observed that many groups in the creation/evolution have become personality cults, where individual loyalty is more valuable than the truth. Well that certainly sounds familiar, doesn't it? I do not want a personality cult around me. I do not want people forming a little community around my "teachings." I do not want a crowd of yes-men cheering on my wacky ideas. If I started actually listening to my "followers," I could easily abandon my self-critical attitude, which makes me a good scholar and scientist. I can't afford that.

Some of you are thinking, "That's some ego he's got if he thinks he'll actually start a personality cult." OK, that's true. I probably wouldn't attract much of a following, but it's the principle of the thing. I'm trying to make a statement here.

Value truth more than loyalty. Because in valuing truth, you value Christ, who is the Truth. I'm just one sinner. I'm probably wrong about a lot of things. That goes for everyone else in this debate. No one's perfect, and no sinner deserves unwavering loyalty.

So there you have it. There's basically two extremes I'm avoiding by disallowing comments: the scoffers out to mock creationism and the groupies out to canonize it. If you've got thoughtful feedback (and many of you do), feel free to write to me at the email address in the welcome message (that's toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com). I'm very grateful to receive thoughtful reactions, and I'll respond here if I think it's of general interest (like I did in this post).