Public Roundtable Discussion at the Library: Theist and Atheist Panels

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Public Roundtable Discussion at the Library: Theist and Atheist Panels

Post by Gannster on Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:59 am

ABILENE ATHEIST ALLIANCE
https://www.facebook.com/groups/239326039565760/
http://abileneatheists.forumotion.com/
 
Meetings Notes 21 April 2014 7:45-9pm
1st Roundtable Planning Session
 
In Attendance
Conley
Ryan Busby
Paul Corter
Jared DeMartini 
Justin Gann
Ken Herfurth
Tim Leaf
Alecia Robertson
Matt Robertson
Gabriel Vadney
 
Introductions:
1)      Alecia indicated her goal for the discussions was to show there was “good across the board”
2)      Tim briefly recounted the nature and history of AAA and explained the existence of the Facebook Page and Forum; he also proclaimed himself the “dorkiest person” in the room
3)      The theistic speakers explained their backgrounds: Ken is Eastern Orthodox has Masters in Theology and Philosophy and loves Batman; Ryan has a Masters received at Logsden (HSU) and is a youth minister; Paul also has a Masters from Logsden and is a student of early Christian history; Jared is owner of the Gathering place, debated in high school and college, and has a Bachelors on Political Science
4)      Conley, who will be handling the technology side of things free of charge, has done programs at the library auditorium before; he is a deist with a background in public speaking
 
Points of Discussion:
1)      the Library auditorium will be booked for the even for 3 hours, 1-4pm; realistically, some 15 minutes will probably be needed both for set-up and cleaning up afterwards, so the total speaking time will probably only be 2 ½ hours
2)      Jared discussed the need for everyone to enjoy the experience and want to come back again
3)      The first discussion with not so much be in-depth on issues but introductory, with a goal in mind to prove the format can work and the participants remain civil and avoid getting offended
4)      Each side will have an equal number of participants (1 moderator, up to 5 speakers)
5)      The framework of the discussion witll be a parliamentary procedure in which each speaker is allowed 3 minutes per topic; anyone can yield time to another speaker
6)      Moderators will keep the speakers list and enforce the time limits, working as a team to make decisions such as who speaks
7)      The speakers list will be public
Cool      The moderators will have gavels: one tap warns a speaker of a first offense; a second tap requires the speaker to cease and step down; civility is a MUST
9)      Speakers must stick to the topic on-hand and avoid personal or group attacks and insults
10)  Speakers should not be out to make converts
11)  Speakers should study the logical fallacies
12)  Speakers should be introspective in their responses and try to explain why they hold their own views
13)  Goals and sample questions will be discussed ahead of time
14)  The event will be called “Roundtable Discussion” to avoid the competitive or controversial associations of the word “debate”
15)  Each panel will have a single microphone; 2 powered speakers may be rented by Conley and Ryan plans to bring a projector
16)  Advertising was discussed: newspaper (Brian McCormack wishes to interview someone from each point of view), fliers, Facebook, Forum, etc.
17)  Anyone who wishes to participate should contact Matt Robertson by the evening of April 27th this weekend  Abileneroundtablediscussion@gmail.com

 

Jared's Parliamentary Procedure Explanation:
Layout
            The discussion will last 2-3 hours and will be comprised of 5 thesits, 5 atheists, a theist moderator and an atheist moderator as well as some potentialsupport staff.
 
Parliamentary Procedure:
            In order for the discussion to run smoothly the moderators will be employing parliamentary procedure as the framework of the event. This means that speakers will be given a fixed amount of time, 3 minutes (although this may be changed as needed based on the topics discussed), to express their opinion on a given topic or when addressing an idea that another speaker had before they will yield to the floor and the next speaker. Speakers will raise their hand or a placard (to be provided if possible) if they wish to be added to the speakers list and that list will be publicly maintained by the moderators. When a speaker is finished speaking a moderator will call on the next speaker in line for his/her 3 minutes. The event coordinators will determine if a speaker will be allowed to yield the balance of his/her time to another speaker before the beginning of the event. IF at any time a moderator bangs a gavel this will alert the current speaker that what they are saying has begun to border on offensive, inappropriate, or wildly off topic and therefore harmful to the integrity of the discussion. Each speaker will be given 1 warning for the entire event. If the same speaker receives a second gavel from either moderator for stepping out of line again the debate will halt and that speaker will leave. This is not a request but rather a requirement speakers who with to participate agree to before hand. If a person feels this is an unfair censorship of his/her ideas/beliefs then that person will not be asked to speak at this discussion but may remain in the audience as an interested party. The Moderators will be fair and impartial only worrying about the integrity and civility of the event, not the topics/ideas being discussed. It is for this reason that there will be a theist and an atheist moderator on the dais.
 
Responsibilities
            Moderators: Moderators will be responsible for maintaining decorum for the speakers, administrating parliamentary procedure, being fair and impartial, and facilitating the general topics for discussion. They will have the exclusive ability to warn and dismiss a speaker who chooses not to comply with the rules for the discussion. Because the moderators are so invested in the success of this discussion they will have the exclusive ability to control of who is approved to speak and must agree on each speaker's approval unanimously. This process should be fairly simple and easy, but does allow the moderators to veto a self nominee who would be potentially destructive to the discussion.
            Speakers: Speakers will be responsible for engaging in civil discourse with other speakers on the topic at hand. It is expected that speakers will be passionate and will have differences in opinions, however; direct attacks on other individuals or vague derogatory insinuations about faiths/ideas represented will not be tolerated. We all believe in the first amendment’s right of freedom of speech/expression but this discussion will have that freedom curtailed to civility, respectful disagreement, and mutual respect for both the people present and the ideas expressed. Speakers who feel this is unfair or are worried they may become over zealous with their ideas and violate these rules will not be requested to speak on this panel this time. This discussion is not the place to convert others to one's point of view or to belittle another's point of view with your own but rather to discuss why theists/atheists believe the way they do on an individual level and to approach topics with the goal to delve into the underlying reasons why that ideal is held and why it has the value assigned to it that one does. Speakers will be representing their faith/ideas on behalf of many who espouse them so they will be held to a very high standard of respect and decency. IF a person wishes to be a speaker at this event and feels they can comply with the requirements to do so they may submit their name for approval to the moderators.
            Support Staff: As this event dictates, support staff will comprise volunteers who will help us with logistics, recording equipment, and other necessary tasks. Staff will work with the moderators and speakers to facilitate a smooth discussion and audience experience. Please extend your flexibility to all of those willing to volunteer their time to make this event a success.
 
Reasoning:
            Speakers will be chosen not only for their ability to comply with the rules set forth for this discussion but also for their ability to reason and employ critical thinking to arguments. Audience members will be greatly interested in the reasoning behind statements panelists make as they seek to understand more fully the differing perspectives offered on a topic. An idea presented with no reasoning or thought behind it isn't an opinion but rather a statement. The event coordinators and moderators encourage the speakers selected to have seriously thought about the beliefs they have on a topic before speaking on it. We understand mistakes and misinformation may exist in a person's argumentation and expect to see that happen during the course of the event. It will not be acceptable and is highly discouraged to employ fallacies in place of sound reasoning. A fallacy is an error in reasoning that is deceptive, misleading, and results in an unsound argument. This discussion has no room for fallacious reasoning as it halts intellectual discourse. Please be aware of the most common fallacies and try to avoid them if you want your arguments to be sound and credible to other speakers and the audience. Atheist and theist positions can be devoid of fallacies and the prevalence of them in the reasoning of mainstream society is indicative of the general lack of critical thinking this discussion hopes to combat. Here are some examples:
 
ad hominem: Latin for "to the man." An arguer who uses ad hominems attacks the person instead of the argument. Whenever an arguer cannot defend his position with evidence, facts or reason, he or she may resort to attacking an opponent either through: labeling, straw man arguments, name calling, offensive remarks and anger.
 
appeal to ignorance (argumentum ex silentio) appealing to ignorance as evidence for something. (Because we have no knowledge of alien visitors, that means they do not exist). Ignorance about something says nothing about its existence or non-existence.
 
excluded middle (or false dichotomy): considering only the extremes. Many people use Aristotelian either/or logic tending to describe in terms of up/down, black/white, true/false, love/hate, etc. (e.g., You either like it or you don't. He either stands guilty or not guilty.) Many times, a continuum occurs between the extremes that people fail to see. The universe also contains many "maybes."
 
loaded questions: embodies an assumption that, if answered, indicates an implied agreement. (e.g., Have you stopped beating your wife yet?)
 
red herring: when the arguer diverts the attention by changing the subject.
 
slippery slope: a change in procedure, law, or action, will result in adverse consequences. (e.g., If we allow doctor assisted suicide, then eventually the government will control how we die.) It does not necessarily follow that just because we make changes that a slippery slope will occur.
 
statistics of small numbers: similar to observational selection (e.g., My parents smoked all their lives and they never got cancer. Or: I don't care what others say about Yugos, my Yugo has never had a problem.) Simply because someone can point to a few favorable numbers says nothing about the overall chances.
 

straw man: creating a false or made up scenario and then attacking it. (e.g., Evolutionists think that everything came about by random chance.) Most evolutionists think in terms of natural selection which may involve incidental elements, but does not depend entirely on random chance. Painting your opponent with false colors only deflects the purpose of the argument.


Last edited by Timinator on Mon Jun 02, 2014 11:28 am; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : Fixed Formatting; made Global Announcement)

Gannster
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Re: Public Roundtable Discussion at the Library: Theist and Atheist Panels

Post by Timinator on Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:30 pm

I would like to add that this is a great site for researching various logical fallacies: 

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/home
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