Originally Posted by Mikeymike1
"What exactly is a "free thinker" and why would it not be aggressive?"
It is a way of thinking based on science, logic and reason Without influence form tradition, dogma, etc.
I asked for an ethical consideration of the interests of other species given the acceptance that we all evolved from common ancestors. I suggested discriminating on the basis of species was as arbitrary as discriminating on the basis of skin colour.
I expected some debate around the ethics that reflected the forum's commitment to free thought. So the aggression and lack of engagement on the issue was a surprise. No better than in society in general.
I think what's key to almost any type of discussion is to know our own motivations. (I'm a philosopher by nature, and literally EVERYTHING is in shades of grey in my mind. So bear with me if I sound like I'm rambling......) Sometimes we are seriously trying to create a positive influence in the world, and sometimes we're just needing to feel superior. But even the need to feel superior isn't necessarily a bad thing. If you've been treated or taught to feel inferior your entire life, making a change that allows you to feel superior is only the pendulum swinging to the other side and countering the prior effect. Eventually if people don't fight you on that need, it will likely lessen and bring you back to center where it's not superiority but a balanced confidence in your actions. Then your motivation is simply a positive influence. That whole growth and maturing thing, lol.... Sometimes it's really hard to avoid interfering with where they are in the process at the time because we're looking at it from our standpoint with our own egos involved and man, it's tough to listen to at times.
I think your discussion on the atheism board is really, really good. It's important to keep those kinds of conversations going even if you feel like you're arguing against a brick wall. Their "pathway" for the moment may be the need to feel superior but if you don't rise to challenge and threaten that need, there's a very real likelihood you're going to, slowly, through the exchange of information give them reason for moving into free thinking mode and once that door opens lives can change. So don't give up and don't feel like you were naive. Just keep talking. You never know when a tiny little ripple can become a tsunami!
Oh, and there was a book written maybe 20-25 years ago called "The Secret Life of Plants". If it's been reprinted or available in an ebook, I highly recommend it. It will absolutely make you reconsider whether or not plants are sentient, I promise.