Atheism And
Rationalism In India
James Mathew

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "James Mathew"
Subject: Re: Positive Atheism, Cliff's Writings
Date: September 30, 2001 6:00 AM

We only know about The Atheist, a print magazine from Atheist Centre in Vijayawada, AP. Just write to Atheist Centre, Benz Circle, Vijayawada, AP (you don't need the address and I don't know the postal code).

We also subscribe to the Rationalist International e-list. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail message from their address to
    Rationalist-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
or simply send your e-mail address to
    HQ@rationalistinternational.net

Of course we assume that you know about our own Atheist Centre web page, which contains many of the writings of Gora, founder of Atheist Centre, and many others. Be sure to check out the Souvenir booklets.

I had been planning to attend the 100th anniversary of Gora's birth in February, but am not sure I'll be able to go if George Bush starts this war of his. As it stood, I would barely be able to scrape together the money to go, but if his militarism escalates, I surely will not be able to afford it. In addition, I would need to find somebody else who would want to go with me, as I could not muster the nerve to go to some place like India by myself. I have only been outside of the Pacific Time zone once in my life.

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

Graphic Rule

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "James Mathew"
Subject: Re: Positive Atheism, Cliff's Writings
Date: October 02, 2001 3:58 AM

I likewise had read the Bible 11 times by the time doubt started eroding my faith. I had the chance to read it one more time as an atheist, because I was later jailed and they only allowed us to read religious material. So I told them I was Jewish so they would give me a Gideon Bible, because the New Testament is both extremely boring (as reading material goes) and way too bigoted for my post-Fundamentalist tastes.

The whole point of atheism, to me, is that the theists are making the claim. Atheism is simply the absence of religious belief; that is to say, we just don't buy their claims!

Most atheists realize that they don't believe and then move on to more important matters. A few of us realize that there is a great need out there, especially when it comes to those who are struggling with the adjustment which follows a deconversion from theism. If I were to decide to become a Christian, I could, within a twenty-minute walk, find a dozen church ministers who would more than gladly spend hours and hours of their time helping me adjust from a rationalistic viewpoint to one based in faith.

However, when we deconvert from theism (particularly when that theism was pounded into us from infancy), we are on our own. Ministers are routinely lauded for helping people adjust to a faith-based point of view and even for trying to convince people away from rationalism! However, if I put up a shingle and advertised that I offered these services, I would be denounced and would probably even meet violence for doing this.

So what I do is provide resources with which newly deconverted atheists may come to terms with their atheism on their own. This is really the best way to adjust to atheism, is it not? It's certainly the most self-consistent way, to me.

India is probably a different story than most other places in the world, because India is so utterly ravaged by the effects of a series of cultures all dominated by superstition. However, India is also rich in atheistic history. Lavanam has told me about India's rich history of atheism -- ancient expressions of atheism predating even Epicurus, Cicero, Diogenes, and the Greeks, but I have no way to even begin finding out about this history.

By assembling and posting some information on India's atheistic heritage, we will all be that much more enriched when it comes to celebrating our heritage as atheists. If I knew where to even start looking, I could probably go far, though this material is probably in Sanskrit -- in which case I would be lost. Surely there are some articles in English which explain what Lavanam was telling me.

Perhaps you might wish to contribute to every atheist's study of our heritage as atheists by helping me to figure out what Lavanam was saying when he told me that India's history is rich with atheistic tradition. This goes for atheism in any culture: we would love to put together a collection of the historical roots of atheism from around the world: how have atheists and skeptics tackled and endured the various religious views that have dominated various parts of the world? This would be one fascinating study, an the Internet now allows us to do this with relative simplicity.

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

Graphic Rule
Added: October 6, 2001

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "James Mathew"
Subject: Re: Positive Atheism, Cliff's Writings
Date: October 06, 2001 8:02 AM

What I am saying is only what I've heard from Lavanam. He told this to me directly, the last time I saw him in person.

It's not farfetched, considering that much of the ancient Greek tradition was what we would today call atheistic. Any time you have a huge and varied culture, atheism will flourish because then the people are able to compare the claims of numerous myths. Only when you have a single idea allowed, such as Roman Catholicism during the Dark Ages, are ideas actually suppressed to the point where it becomes impossible to know how many people are atheists simply because everybody's too afraid to admit their own point of view.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six 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.