You Have To
Let Go Of Your Logic
And Believe
Peter

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Peter "
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: February 01, 2002 5:53 AM

It is a simple and unchallenging matter to jump up and down and declare, "This is the Truth" (although why you would capitalize the simple noun truth in this context escapes me at this moment, unless, of course, you are sending the message that what you mean to say is something other than that you are not lying to us).

However, simply telling us that you speak the truth is not good enough. You must demonstrate to us that what you say to us here is not falsehood; otherwise, we have no business believing that you are telling us the truth.

Please provide us with a compelling reason to believe that what you tell us is, indeed, true, and please also be prepared to answer any objections that we might have to your explanation. If you are willing to do this, you have a willing and openminded audience. If you are not willing to provide us with valid reasons for granting our assent to your claims, then we are left with but one option: to pronounce you as being one of the lowest forms of liars ever to have evolved from that universally ancestral "primordial soup" which brought forth life as we know it: the religious charlatan!

I will tell you up front that you have not given yourself any kind of advantage at all by claiming me as your friend: I don't even know you. Thus, I must insist that you allow me to reserve the term friend for the special meaning that it has always had for me (and has for most English speaking people).

Certainly none of the five definitions Encarta (1999) gives for the word for the word fit your relationship to me -- at all. 1. We do not have mutual affection, neither are we emotionally close to one another. 2. We have no casual acquaintance or even a business relationship. 3. We are not allied in the sense of not being opponents or enemies (we are ideological opponents, as I can think of no social force more worthy of my opposition than Fundamentalist Christianity). 4. You are not an advocate of any causes that I endorse, and I certainly would never want to be considered "a friend of Fundamentalist Christianity"! 5. You are not a patron of any institution that I support, and I wouldn't want to be considered "a friend of the Fundamentalist Christian Church."

In light of all this, please do not call me your "friend." Got that!?
 

It is a good idea to read the Guidelines for Submission before submitting material to a publication. According to our Guidelines (conspicuously linked in the very same table cell which contains the e-mail icon you clicked to send this letter) you have, by sending this material to us, granted us permission to post your bigotry for all to see. And this we will do, as a warning to whomever will open their eyes and see that taking the Christian religion seriously can damage the human sense of morality.

Have a nice life: as far as we can tell, this is the only life that any of us get to lead. I'd sure hate to realize, even for the flash of a moment, that I had spent this most magnificent of opportunities treating people the way the Fundamentalist variation of the Christian religion instructs its victims to treat those of us who disagree with that most contemptible version of what has the potential of being a noble and even beautiful religious expression.

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

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Peter "
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: February 04, 2002 7:32 PM

Logic aside, if it is beyond my grasp, then what is there for me to even see, much less agree with (believe)? If you cannot explain to me what I'm supposed to believe, then to what am I expected to grant my assent?
 

You're asking quite a bit, considering that what I'm supposed to "accept" is "beyond our logical grasp."
 

What does the heart have to do with an explanation? The heart is a pump -- a muscle -- muscle is not how we come to an understanding of anything.
 

And according to me, nobody has been able to provide me with a valid reason for believing that there is any such thing as a "personal God." According to me, these fellows, "the Fathers of the Church," were in error in more ways than simply whether the Earth is shaped like a grapefruit or a pizza.

Why should I trust the "Fathers of the Church" on matters that we cannot test (Heaven; Hell; the Cross), when they've failed so miserably on matters that are very easily tested (the shape of the Earth; the relative size of various seeds in comparison to the mustard seed; whether a mustard seed grows to a large tree or simply a shrub, which is no tree at all)?
 

The bottom line is this: One of only two responses could possibly be appropriate to what you have said (all that you have said): Either I say,

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That's very interesting. Thank you for sharing that with me. I am always fascinated whenever somebody provides me with a report of what is going on within the confines of her or his imagination. I realize that you have no intention of expecting me to take you seriously or to go along with your statements or claims, but that you are simply giving me a little picture of what it's like to be you.

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Or I say,

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Oh, really? And you're telling me this because you think I ought to go along with this? that I ought to believe what you say to be objective truth? Really, now! If you wish for me to give assent to what you have just claimed, you've got your work cut out for you, because these claims are among the most farfetched that I've ever encountered, coming from the mouth (or pen) of an otherwise straight-faced man! Thus, if you wish to carry this any further, we will first need to agree upon the game rules we will use in our discussion. If we cannot agree to abide by some semblance of liberal scientific method, then you and I cannot discuss whether or not your claims are something to which I ought to give my assent.

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It's as simple as that.

If you are merely telling me what you believe, giving me a report of what goes on within your imagination (and, most likely, what goes on only within the confines of your busy and fruitful imagination), then it would help if you would preface what you say so that your listeners and readers will not confuse this with a (very common) situation wherein the speaker is making a claim and wants the listener to go along with that claim.

But if you are making a claim, intending for me to go along with that claim, then you'll need to do this using the convention that humans generally use when making claims that they expect others to believe, the convention we use when discussing and assessing the validity of claims people make (or the lack of validity thereof).

If you don't, then you come off looking both ignorant and arrogant for expecting me to play by a set of game rules that only you honor.

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

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Peter "
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: February 07, 2002 6:35 PM
 

Oh, I get it! The sheer number of people who "testify" to a "truth" is what determines whether or not a claim is, in fact, true. This means that from about 600 B.C.E through about 250 C.E. the Earth was a globe. Then for about fifteen decades, the Earth suddenly became flat -- literally and physically -- if and only if what you say here is valid, that something is physically true because a large number of people just couldn't be wrong about this. Then, if what you say is valid, once people encountered the work of Galileo and Kepler, who essentially improved on the work of Copernicus, who was merely resurrecting the science of the Greeks that the Christian Church had suppressed (squashed, actually) in favor of its Bible, the Earth's physical, material shape literally and physically transformed back into that of a globe.

Okay, everybody has "the same imagination" because this "imagination" happens to, in fact, be literally true.

This leaves me with only one big puzzler (the rest of the puzzlers being somewhat insignificant in light of this one): Why do those who all testify to "the same truth" always, and without exception, "testify" not to what can be independently verified, but to what has been written in a certain book? Christians "testify" to the "truth" of the dogma that is written in their Bible, and none of them testify to what is written in the Qu'ran. Muslims, on the other hand, all (without exception) "testify" not to what can be independently verified, not to the dogma written in the Bible, but to what has been written in the Qu'ran!
 

You mean, in order to know The Real Truth (that is, your "truth"), I must stop trying to discern whether or not some religious charlitan is trying to take me for a ride, and simply believe whatever someone tells me (as long as that "whatever" coincides with what you tell me is "The Truth")?

Now why would I want to do a thing like that? I might end up writing to people I've never met and telling them that things are "the truth" which, in fact, cannot be verified as true! For me to do that (that is, for me to do to to others as you have done to me), would be for me to tell a lie!

I am a man of morality and I am of the strong opinion that it is morally wrong for me to lie to other people -- even if they deserve it!
 

That's it! We finally figured it out! Roman Catholic miracles are proof that the Roman Catholic deity is The One True God, Mormon miracles are proof that the Latter-Day Saints deities are The One True God, and Hindu miracles, the stories of which dwarf anything the Christian have ever tried to foist upon the unsuspecting public, are proof that the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva is The One True God!

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200,000,000,000,000,000,000
FLIES CAN'T BE WRONG:
EAT SHIT!!!

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Thanks for straightening me out on that matter. I'm glad you came by and rescued me from the clutches of logic and reason and science and all that! I could have missed out on some wonderful truths! I might have missed out on the great message of The Miracle Of The Holy Fire At Sepulcher Church, which happened in Jerusalem in 1547, which proves to us today of the great things that were spoken to these illiterate peasants way back then: that God is not simply an invisible phantom but that God Himself actually exists and we can know this juicy fact without having to prove our case the way other people, such as scientists must prove their points! Just think of what might have happened if I hadn't learned that in order to see the truth of what you tell me, all I've got to do is let go of my logic and believe that what you tell me is the truth! Just believe! That's all! Can you imagine?

Can you imagine me not having thought of that before, not having been taught that by my parents or my professors? Can you imagine something so simple having eluded even my own natural thought processes?

Boy! And to think I had spent all these years as an atheist, groping my way through life using logic and reason and science instead of believing whatever some clown sends to me in the e-mail.

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

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Added: February 12, 2002

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Peter "
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: February 11, 2002 1:00 AM

Prove it to me!

Also, how come you spell it with a capital "T"? Are you here indicating that you mean something other than what the rest of us mean when we spell the word the conventional way? If so, then it's worse than I initially thought (which was already pretty bad). Then you're not only playing Humpty Dumpty with words, but you're being so sneaky about it that you haven't even bothered to alert your readers to the fact that you're making up your own private language, as well as your own private reality.

But you know what? I don't care! You got that? The machinations of your imagination, with their associated intrigues, secretly devising those cunning plans and complicated schemes go right on by (by and by, bye-bye! I just don't buy it). None of it means diddly squat to me. Do you hear me? None of it!

I would care if you had something to tell me about reality, but you don't have anything to say about anything that is real. All you ever talk about is what is going on within the privacy of your own mind. And, frankly, I'm not interested in what goes on in there. Reality is too precious and to fascinating and too exciting for me to waste any time with people who would be so dishonest as to talk about their imagination but try to convince others that they're talking about reality.
 

I'm glad you cleared that up for us:

What you're telling us, then, is that you have nothing to say to me about anything that is real, that is, anything that is to be considered factual. All you have to say falls entirely into the category of descriptions of what is going on within the privacy of your own mind. If your claims cannot be tested with the same rigors to which we willingly and happily submit our simple scientific pronouncements, then what you're telling us is that your claims are not meant to be believed as fact, but are something else, such as poetry or music or fiction or sculpture or something along those lines.

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

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Peter "
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: February 12, 2002 5:06 PM

It's really too bad that you refuse to keep this to yourself. The landscape can be quite pleasant as long as we don't clutter it up with cigarette butts and McDonald's wrappers.

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

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Peter "
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: February 12, 2002 7:55 PM

How come I have such trouble believing that you're telling me the truth?

Why do you come off as such a bald-faced liar?

What is it that makes your words sound just like every charlatan, huckster, scoundrel, slumlord, and used-car salesman that I've ever even heard of, much less encountered? I know numerous Christians who would agree with this assessment. In fact, the next time my closest Christian friend, a pastor, comes over to visit me at my home, I'll show him the earlier parts of your exchange and ask him what he thinks. I'll do this without showing him my responses or even the title of the thread. I'd wager dinner for a week that "dishonest" will be a prominent part of his assessment of your message. And this guy's pretty orthodox, at least as orthodox as you think you are.

Why is this? Why? Why do you display all the signs of somebody who has something to sell and who must make that sale regardless of who gets hurt in the process?

Is it your message? is it the Christian Gospel?

No, it's not the Gospel, because most Christians who write to me don't come off like you do. Yes, several have come off just like you; most, even the vehement ones, even many of the patently dishonest ones, have not.

If it is not your message, then must be your approach! What is it about your approach to the Gospel that reminds me of a slumlord or a used-car salesman?

Could it be that you don't really believe what you say? Could it be that you have fallen into the same trap that young Martin Luther did, when he finally confessed to his mentor that he didn't think the Gospel was true? His mentor replied, "Preach until you believe." He was telling Martin Luther that for the sake of his own faith, he was to go out there and preach, preach, preach, even though he didn't believe. If he'd do this, the mentor said, he'd begin to believe, again.

We don't know what happened to Martin Luther's faith itself, because what he did after that was go out there and learn how to lie, lie, lie! He learned how to preach even though he didn't believe, which is the same thing as saying that he learned how to become a very convincing liar. Thus, we don't know if he ever told the truth again: once you get caught in a single lie, says United States founder and anti-Christian author Thomas Paine, your credibility is gone, and though you have a thousand truths to your credit, they all may as well be lies because of being caught in that one lie.

So did you wake up one morning and realize that you don't really believe? Did that thought frighten the daylights out of you? What did you do? Did you do what Martin Luther did? go ahead and immerse yourself in the message and start preaching to people no matter what the context or situation, no matter how much the Gospel is brought to shame by the thoughtlessness inherent in your style of evangelism?

I tell you, people who are strong in their faith do not act like you are acting. When they encounter someone who disagrees with them, they wait for an invitation from that person before they evangelize. Healthy Christian will not brandish their Kalashnikov Arms for an open assault upon their target.

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

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