PAM's Honesty 'Not Good Enough':
Religious Right Does It 'All The Time'
[unsigned]

[Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations currently says:]

Transparent Spacer
Quote Graphic Rule 2

Questionable Thomas Jefferson Quotation

We inquired of the Jefferson Library as to the veracity of the following quote, and they tell us that its status is currently "not found."

Transparent Spacer
Quote Graphic Rule 3

Quotation 'Not Found':
"The Christian god can easily be pictured as virtually the same god as the many ancient gods of past civilizations. The Christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious. If one wishes to know more of this raging, three headed beast-like god, one only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites."
-- Quotation 'Not Found,' allegedly in a letter to his nephew, Peter Carr

Quote Graphic Rule 3
Transparent Spacer

This doesn't mean that the quote is not genuine: to prove this one must cough up the forger, and that is almost impossible. It is impossible to disprove a quotation apart from finding someone who deliberately fabricated it.

Thus, to say it is "false" is incorrect. The correct way to state this is, "The Jefferson Library has searched for this quotation and cannot find it within their collection of known Jefferson writings."

-- Cliff Walker,
July 8, 2002

Quote Graphic Rule 2
Transparent Spacer

[Numerous advertisements removed. -- editor]

Graphic Rule

Transparent Spacer
Quote Graphic Rule 1

 

Unbeknownst to this writer, the blurb in question was a hastily posted something until we could make time to cover the subject in more detail. This explains why the blurb does not read the way it is represented as reading in this exchange. However hastily posted it may have been, though, it did (and does) reflect our position and our policy: we have no regrets about anything that was said in any of our posts, either the original one repeated above, or in the one that currently lives in its place.

 

Quote Graphic Rule 1
Transparent Spacer

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: [unsigned]
Subject: Re: This just is not good enough
Date: July 12, 2002 8:48 PM

This is a very serious accusation: We want you to document it, because we do not see this level of honesty, that is, admitting that a quotation is probably false and showcasing it as such, being practiced by the "religious right" (as you claim) "all the time." In fact, we have showcased one instance where David Barton knowingly encouraged people to continue using quotations that he had previously admitted were probably false.
 

Secondly, we do not see why you have a problem against warning the atheistic communities that a quotation that's very popular amongst their quotes lists is probably false. Please explain how warning the community of this fact is worthy of your stern denunciation whereas simply ignoring it and looking the other way (maybe whistling an old Tom Waits tune in the process) is, in your opinion, commendable.
 

Finally, since you opted not to sign your letter, then perhaps we ought not to print it because we cannot provide a full and valid cite for the quote.
 

I'm sorry, if you can do a better job at creating and maintaining a list of quotations, almost all of which I have personally transcribed from print media that I trust (and most of which was subsequently "mirrored" on other atheistic quotes lists without attributing who did the work and using the copyrighted portions without permission), then we welcome you to get yourself a credit card and buy some space on one of the top web hosts in the country.

History is not an exact science: far from it; for you to represent it as such, by implication, when you castigate somebody for not being as absolutistic as you think the science of history ought to be, is patently dishonest.

(Tell me: Which is my "real" response: the version I sent to you or the version I ended up posting? Okay, what is my "real" name? Is it Cliff Walker? or is it the one on my Social Security card? or is it the one on my birth certificate? Which birth certificate? I have two: one was supposedly with the family but was lost. When we got a new copy, they sent the other one, the one that had been sealed by a court: Ooh! That settlement could be worth a few hundred grand if I gave a rat! or if I didn't give a rat, and wanted to screw our government -- depending on how you look at it! I'm just trying to point out that there isn't necessarily one single version of the truth, and as soon as we can start seeing this, the faster we can jettison our tendencies toward fundamentalism.)

If you want us to take you seriously, that is, if you want us to think that you telling the truth when you say these things about us, then you do well to document your accusations, particularly your comparing what we do with "what the religious right does all the time." Let's find two significantly different lists of "religious right" organizations and then find any sequence of ten on each list: if nine organizations from each list warns their readers not to use quotes that they have described as probably false, then (and only then) will I accept your charge as truthful.

Then, if you would explain to us why warning readers that a quote is false (by emulating the Jefferson Library, the Madison Library, Bartlett's, Encarta, and many other resources) is "not good enough," but that simply ignoring it (that is, "not to carry the quote," in your words) is the only honest and useful way between the two to go about this particular chore, then we might go along with your pronouncement.

However, since you simply pronounce that the act of warning your readers of a probably false quote is "not good enough," cloaking your pronouncement in stern-sounding and dogmatic e-yelling, we will strongly suggest that you owe our readers an apology for trying to discredit us without cause.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Seven years of service to people
    with no reason to believe

Graphic Rule

Material by Cliff Walker (including unsigned editorial commentary) is copyright ©1995-2006 by Cliff Walker. Each submission is copyrighted by its writer, who retains control of the work except that by submitting it to Positive Atheism, permission has been granted to use the material or an edited version: (1) on the Positive Atheism web site; (2) in Positive Atheism Magazine; (3) in subsequent works controlled by Cliff Walker or Positive Atheism Magazine (including published or posted compilations). Excerpts not exceeding 500 words are allowed provided the proper copyright notice is affixed. Other use requires permission; Positive Atheism will work to protect the rights of all who submit their writings to us.