I Don't Own That Car,
So Where's My Receipt?
SSgt Darren M Rawlings
I am in need of assistance. Since I am currently without a Ferrari, I need to verify to my insurance agency, through the usage of a Ferrari VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) that I don't own one. Can you help in this matter? I mean, we create a term for the absence of religion, surely there must be a VIN for the absence of the car I would love to own!?
Also, maybe we could create words for the following situations:
I do not have a driver's license, so what's my driver's license number?
I am a non-U.S. citizen, so what state code do I use on my taxes?
I am not in the Navy, so what is my rank?
I am not in the Boy Scouts, so what merit badges have I earned?
I have no computer at home, so which operating system do I use?
I do not own a VCR anymore, so how many heads does it have?
I am not homosexual, so what is my boyfriend's name?
Keep up the good job Cliff, and all you other guys (and girls, if any) at Positive Atheism.
SSgt Darren M Rawlings
From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <email@example.com>
To: "Rawlings Darren M SSgt 43MOS/PS&D"
Subject: Re: I don't own that car, so where's my receipt?
Date: February 09, 2004 9:07 PM
I sure wish my atheism were as unimportant to other people as it is to me! I'll tell you what: my atheism is even less important to me than any of the things you mentioned would be if they applied!
To me, "I am an atheist" means the same thing as "I am a human being": the two phrases are synonymous in my mind and in my experience. Since I was born an atheist, and since all theists learned their theism later in life (usually by being brainwashed as small children), then atheism is the default position among religious opinions and nonopinions.
Now for the good part: I really like your concept, here, and would like to see the community of active atheists develop it. (Active atheists, if you remember, are those few who actually think about their own atheism rather than ignoring it like the vast majority of atheists do.) You got us started, but I'd like to add something to the game rules which, I hope, will give a healthy kick-start to the game-plan. I want to incorporate one small detail, a limitation, really, which, I think, will give your example a very powerful focus. Hopefully a large number of people will at least become aware of the issue, here.
Here are three examples: see if you can tell what I'm doing, what specific focus I have given to your algorithm.
My doctor says I have perfect health for my age. What disease do I suffer from?
The rest of what was left of my hair finally fell out last year, leaving me bald as a cue ball. What's my hair color?
Here's a tougher one:
I quit cigarettes. What brand do I smoke?
In of these examples, I have something, I am something, or I do something (respectively), but when we examine what it is that I am, have or do, we make an interesting discovery: that "something" which I have, am, or do, is actually nothing. What's being described is an absence -- but each absence is described with its own specific word whose meaning incorporates the notion of that absence!
Health is the absence of disease.
Bald means the absence of scalp hair.
To quit, a rather tricky word, means to bring about an absence of action.
What I'd like to see readers do is send us examples of other words whose meanings specifically indicate an absence of some sort
Even though I am in the process of converting all our e-mail links to take the reader to a specific page (to cut down on spam), here's perhaps our very last e-mail link for a Forum piece:
Positive Atheism Magazine
Eight-and-one-half years of service to
people with no reason to believe