Had Christians
No Ulterior Motive,
Would Atheism Differ?
Kevin L. Donihe

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Kevin L. Donihe"
Subject: Re: A question
Date: Thursday, July 05, 2001 3:54 AM

Had Christendom ever been a system of true humanitarianism, it would never have dominated Europe. Other viewpoints would have had equal access, and the Christian message might have some influence on some people. Perhaps we would all be Muslims had nobody been driven enough to oppose them. Or perhaps nobody would be Muslims because no Christians would have evangelized or offended or accosted Mohammed and thus inspired him to come up with a better system. This is hard to say.

But if Christianity had been this way and were still as influential today as it has become through the means that did bring her to this place of prominence, I, for one, would not speak out against her. I really have nothing to say about private, unintrusive religious expression. I have nothing but good things to say about humanitarian efforts that clearly have the interests of the people in mind.

True, I think most religion is patently absurd, but then so are many people's ideas of what constitutes quality time in the evening (just look at how many people spend their spare time watching television). But I will not walk into a man's home and switch his television set off (well -- maybe the guy downstairs, but only because he often keeps it so loud that it drowns out my very thoughts). In the same sense, I will not try to convince other people to change their religious beliefs just because I think they're weird, dishonest, destructive, or the like.

Atheism is the simple absence of theism. But to say "I am an atheist" is to go much further, in that I am acknowledging that I disagree with the theist on the God question. This usually means that the theist has made the God question an issue of some sort. Had it not become an issue, I would simply ignore it like I'd probably ignore someone's enthusiasm for Snoop Doggie Dogg if they would just turn it down a bit. Christianity is to religion what Hip-Hop is to music because its adherents cannot satisfy themselves by keeping it a private, personal experience.

Theism is weird, to be sure, but so is Tom Waits -- so if you don't like it, then don't come visit me when I'm in the mood for a "Jockey Full Of Bourbon." Nobody else would know what I think about the Christ myth if the Christians had simply left me alone about it.

But this is not something they seem willing to do.

Almost all Christian "humanitarian" projects have been so transparent in their self-promotion that it is virtually impossible to show their "humanitarianism" to be much more than a commercial advertising campaign for the Christian religion. Most of them have done very little in the way of trying to hide the fact that Christianity is about Christianity -- it does little else than strive for domination over the rest of us.

I am being asked by my President to financially support an organization called Teen Challenge, a group which prides itself in turning a captive audience of Jews into what they call "Completed Jews" -- that is, Jews who have succumbed to the high-pressure sales pitch of a Christ-based drug rehab program. Teen Challenge is an inpatient program, which means that if you try to leave, you get sent back to prison, or wherever.

Just this morning, my President announced: "Today I call on the United States Congress to pass laws promoting and encouraging faith-based and community groups in their important public work -- and to never discriminate against them." My President thinks that my Constitutional right to avoid financially supporting this blatant, coercive, and unashamed conversion of Jews into Christians equals discrimination against organized religion. My President is asking that I be required to practice Christian bigotry.

This is where it becomes wrong for me not to voice my opposition. Christianity is not about what you have fantasized above. Christianity has almost always been about promoting itself at all costs -- wars; bloodshed; land-grabs (grabbing the estates of my forebears); attraction through enticing words of deceit.

Because of this, I must stop being a simple atheist and must loudly proclaim, "I am an atheist!" I must say this to President Bush and I must say this to the judge who orders me into a faith-based rehab program which seeks nothing short of seeing me become a Christian -- by hook or by crook.

The hook and the crook are all the Christian religion has left, because she has been unable to convince me by sound, reasoned persuasion. She has not demonstrated the truthfulness or the advantage or the moral superiority of her position. In lieu of honest, peaceful means of gaining and retaining members, the only methods left to her are dishonesty and violence. She has not only failed to provide me with reasons to go along with her, she has given me compelling reasons to stand up to them and loudly proclaim, "No way!"

You are correct in suggesting that the actions of the believers have colored the reactions of the atheists. In your fantasy, I could have remained a simple atheist and muttered to myself, "I cannot call this a good thing." But in the real world, I've been forced to become an activist who cannot sit and mutter but must stand up and shout, "This is a great evil!"

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

Graphic Rule

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Kevin L. Donihe"
Subject: Re: A question
Date: Thursday, July 05, 2001 6:08 AM

This is just a saying.

In the New Testament, Christian "Love" equals obedience, and thus the "agape" of Christ conquered all of Europe for about 15 centuries. But that is merely Europe, and that was only 1,500 years.
 

I speak as an atheist who honors truth above all things, and falsehood being called truth is never a good thing, in my opinion. Good may result, but this is not, itself, good. If the resulting good is used to argue for the truthfulness of the falsehood, then I'd say that there's nothing good about any of it.
 

Your theists would never win those who honor truth above all things regardless of whatever good they do, because a theism bent on humanitarianism is still theism. Humanitarianism does not prove the claim that gods exist.
 

We do know that the brain functions of the part which goes to sleep maintain that element of awareness that is "missing" during the mystical experience. We have no reason to believe that this is being caused by something outside of or apart from the body -- we have nothing to indicate that this is happening. This does not prove that this is not happening, but those who say that it is need to make a strong case before we can entertain the idea.

Thus, thee Burden of Proof prevents this from being called "inconclusive," because the proponents have only conjecture at this point (and very sloppy conjecture, in my opinion).
 

As far as I can tell, at this point in my education, I have been given no reasons to believe that gods exist. None of the god claims that I've heard (and I've heard most of them by now) have even come close. However, this does not mean that I've heard them all or that I've properly considered them all. Thus, in that sense, I have not closed my mind to the remote possibility that one of the god claims might turn out to be true.

However, there comes a point where one must go ahead and stop worrying about it and get on with life. So, though I have not "closed my mind" in the strict sense, I have chosen to live my life as if none of the god claims are true, and to avoid suggesting to people that one of them might be true.

I really don't care what others think, but I feel responsible for what I say, so what I say reflects the fact that I seriously doubt (in the Pascalian sense, I bet my life -- my eternity) that all the god claims are as patently false as the god claims I've encountered and examined.
 

If I thought it actually were beautiful fiction, I might go along with you. However, most the God stories I've heard belong not in the "Romance" section but the "Horror" section -- and all of them belong in the "Fiction" section.
 

If it is fiction, it was created my humans in the first place.

To suggest that it got corrupted is to suggest that it was originally pristine. If what we have are not the original fables, then we cannot show this. If what we have are the original fables, then I rest my case about it belonging in on "Horror" shelf of the "Fiction" aisle.

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

Graphic Rule

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