I Take Great Offense
When
Jesus Christ is Attacked
Dave

From: Dave
To: "Positive Atheism"
Subject: Letters Meant To Hurt
Date: Monday, 27 December 2004

Dear Sir,

I wrote you a letter earlier. I want to say that I understand that this site is for people who believe similarly to you but I find it interesting and now and then find reason to e-mail you.

First of all, I take great offense when Jesus Christ is attacked. If someone doesn't believe in Him, then they should just "not believe in Him." There is no reason to attack Him whether you believe in Him or not.

Second, I see a lot of hate mail directed at you, also. Like, "I hope I see your flesh burn off." I would like to say that I don't wish to see that happen to you or anyone that believes like you.

The fact is, no one who is a true follower of Jesus Christ would ever say that he wants to see harm come to you. That is not what Christianity is about at all. There are loads of people who confess to be Christian but they are simply not.

Christianity, just like any other "attractive to the masses" group, religion, or organization, has been used by those who wish to be powerful. Therefore, any bad thing that comes of it is blamed on the true Christians.

A true Christian is someone who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ and that means to love their neighbor as themselves. If a person is attacking you on your website, then they are not following the truth that Jesus taught.

I am a Christian. I would not attack you and say bad things about you because you have to live your life the way you see it. The only thing I could ever do is to tell you that I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and basically it should end there. If you do not believe, then I am not going to turn around and call you names or even be biased toward you. If I did, then I am not following what I was told to do (and actually, what is now in my heart) by Jesus Christ while He was here on earth.

A lot of what I am trying to get at is that there are a lot of bad things blamed on Christianity, but you have to remember that Christianity has been inundated with "wolves in sheep's clothing" and I believe the more powerful a so-called Christian is, the more likely he just might not be a Christian at all. Jesus was not very powerful in the earthly sense, but He had a great power. The power that he possessed is not evident in most so-called Christians who have earthly power today.

I hope that you wont think so badly of a true Christian even though you don't believe what they believe. Their duty is to obey the teachings of Jesus and to "let their light shine before men." They are not to attack anyone for the way that they believe else they would be driving you away from what they believe is the truth and the correct path to take to achieve the greatest thing that can be achieved in this life.

Sorry this is so long, but I want to say that I do not hate you at all. Just the opposite. I hope that during your life you find what you need to inherit all the good things that you are capable of achieving. I just happen to believe that calls for a sound belief in Jesus Christ. God bless you.

                            Dave

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From: "Positive Atheism"
To: "Dave"
Subject: Letters Meant To Hurt
Date: December 29, 2004

Dave,

I offer my sincerest thanks to you for expressing your thoughts about those who cast aspersions and otherwise try to vilify me, personally (to say nothing of my fellow atheists), and those who malign and disparage our work. Although it's one thing for us to respond forcefully to a falsehood aimed toward damaging our reputation as a web entity or the reputations of the World's atheists, it is another for any or all of us to feel "hurt"(in any sense of the word) by such behavior. I want to make this clear before we respond (gently albeit sternly) to your statement about our "attacking Jesus Christ," especially in the context of our so doing with the specific intention of hurting or harming anybody. If we (Positive Atheism) challenge or even ridicule a specific religious teaching (such as the one claiming that a "Jesus Christ" existed as a historical figure), we do so with the hope of helping others if we have any motives at all.

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Our policy in relation to our fellow humans who happen to adhere to the Christian religion is initially one of friendly cooperation. In fact, we treat all people the same, be they theist or atheist; we try to give all people the benefit of the doubt, if you will, to take their statements at face value and to presuppose (at first) that they at least think they are telling the truth (that they're telling the truth to the best of their knowledge). Why treat anybody any differently, really?

This is not to say that we treat all ideas the same, however. But then (as my former associate Jack Trimpey was fond of pointing out), ideas are not sentient beings, and thus cannot have their feelings hurt. Ideas do not become offended, angered, or embarrassed.

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Normally, we (the individuals at Positive Atheism) ignore the claims and sayings of religionists. It is none of our business what people think within the privacy of their own minds. We do take exception in three instances, however. We will respond or react when we feel that a particular religious act or statement is intrusive, exploitative, or dangerous.

Secondly, our site hosts a library for whose contents we take no editorial responsibility. The material is there, period. Admittedly, we often wholeheartedly agree with much of what is said therein, but this is not always the case. For a reader to hold us accountable for the opinions expressed by, say, Sam Clemens, would be akin to a constituent holding a county supervisor accountable for the opinions expressed in a certain book sitting on the shelf of the public library!

About the only other example of our expressing opinions about religious faith would be in the context of helping those who have recently deconverted from religious faith. If somebody converts to the Christian religion, she or he need only walk to the nearest church (which, in this country, is rarely farther than a short stroll). Here, our convert is sure to find someone (with an office, even, and usually a salary) who is willing to assist that person in his or her endeavor to jettison the reason-based thinking style and to unlearn those life-habits that are based upon thinking for oneself. In their place, the pair will carefully construct a regimen for living a faith-based life which often includes such concepts as "trusting God" and "leaning not unto one's own understanding."

(Just imagine! What would be the reaction of the neighbors if I were to rent an office or a building and hang a shingle announcing that I offer assistance to those who have decided to abandon their religious beliefs? I'd put good money on the likelihood that the shingle would be vandalized within a few days, tops. I say this even about Portland, Oregon, easily the major city having the highest concentration of nonbelievers [nontheists; atheists] in the country. Even if they did leave my office intact [and my person], numerous organized efforts would rise up against me, seeking to discredit me in an attempt to render my work ineffective. Yes, it's socially acceptable to be an atheist these days -- but don't let them think, even mistakenly, that you are trying to help others come to an understanding or an acceptance of your atheistic view.)

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Please keep in mind our intentions, particularly on those occasions when we do make statements of this nature. When we criticize religious claims, we do so because we think it could be degrading or even dangerous for people to believe or to adhere to the dogmata that happens to have developed over the centuries in relation to these various claims.

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We do not attack Jesus Christ. We cannot attack Jesus Christ! At minimum, if he did exist during the era most say he did, then he has been dead and his body decomposed for about two thousand years. At most, we've (I've) been given absolutely no reasons (whatsoever!) for believing the popular claim that a "Jesus Christ" once existed (or that he still exists, for that matter).

In other words, Jesus Christ, as far as we can tell, is no longer a person (if he ever was a person and not a wholly mythical figure).

Today, "Jesus Christ" exists entirely as an idea.

We need more than what has been offered before we can, in all honesty, grant our assent to the claims that somebody answering to one of the various descriptions given of Jesus Christ (the man) are statements of truth.

For you to take personally attacks you perceive to be directed toward another is your business. However, I am of the opinion that such is a palpably and unguardedly foolish thing to do, and I strongly recommend that you stop it this instant!! Do you hear me!? I say this out of a profound sense of dignity, toward the human species in general and toward you in particular.

If somebody says something mean and nasty about my Mother, that person has not insulted me (although that may have been his or her aim). Rather, such an individual would have insulted my Mother. Whoever did something like this would nevertheless have me to reckon with, not for having insulted me (nobody would have insulted me) but because I am committed to protecting the dignity of friends and family.

When I challenge the "Jesus Christ" claims, I am doing just that: challenging claims; I am doing no more than this.

When I challenge claims, I am, at minimum, suggesting that the people making the claim check their facts (and anybody who did this would stop saying "Jesus Christ existed as a historical figure"). At most, I am calling that person a willful liar, for knowingly stating as fact what she or he doesn't know to be fact, but only thinks to be true.

Abraham Lincoln happens to be the one who, in my opinion, best described this moral or ethical situation:

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It is an established maxim and moral that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false is guilty of falsehood, and the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify or excuse him.
-- chiding the editor of a Springfield, Illinois

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To summarize:

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1. I am not challenging Jesus Christ: he is either myth or dead or both. The New Testament is not telling the truth about him; this is easily shown: which "spin" do you want?

2. I am, instead, challenging the claims that various people have made about "Jesus Christ." All of these claims are the ideas of people other than yourself. Had they been the fruit of your own thinking, I might see a temptation on your part to take offense.

3. Even if I could directly challenge Jesus Christ, it would be inappropriate for you to take it personally. In fact, one of our pastors suggested that if I were to attack you personally, it would be Jesus Christ who would rightly take offence (at least according to New Testament teaching), as you are supposedly working or acting directly on Christ's behalf.

4. If you make such claims, you may take my challenges personally only to the extent that, if you don't know or can't tell if a claim is verifiable truth, and yet call it truth nonetheless, then you are among those who practice the behavior which I, by challenging the claims, refer to as "committing falsehood" or "lying." (Perhaps I should henceforth call these "Lincoln Lies"?)

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Thanks for writing!

Thanks especially for the opportunity to answer to the claims that we attack Christ or even Christians.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Entering our 10th year of service
    to people with no reason to believe

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