'Christian Bashing,'
Ad Hominem, and Bears
(Oh, My!!)
Brandon Dalby

From: Brandon Dalby
To: Positive Atheism
Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2001 12:56 AM
Subject: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section

I am baffled as to why you could possibly label your forum "Positive" atheism. I've briefly read some of the correspondences and the level of Christian bashing and ad hominem attacks was shocking. Perhaps you can explain what you mean by "positive atheism" because based on the attitude put forth in the letters, your atheism is ANYTHING but positive.

Brandon

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Brandon Dalby"
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Thursday, May 24, 2001 2:00 AM

1. Please give us examples of "Christian bashing" and then explain why it is wrong, because I do not know what you mean when you use this term. Since you used the plural, we'll need several examples, not just one. Then, show us precisely what it is about my behavior that has earned this attack from you; in other words, show us what is wrong with "Christian bashing" (whatever that is). Finally, show us how I ought to respond to the patently abusive treatment that I receive at the hands of Christians who write here solely for the purpose of expressing their bigoted rage.

2. Please explain to us what you mean by "ad hominem." I know what the term ad hominem ordinarily means, and I am extremely cautious in my attempts to avoid practicing that form of dishonesty. So, if I have used this form of dishonesty, I will need to apologize both to the readers and to anyone who fell victim to my trechery -- if, indeed, I have done as you accuse. However, I suspect that you use a different definition for the word than is ordinarily used (or perhaps don't even know what it means -- which is still no excuse). So, I'll need several examples of me using the ad hominem form of dishonesty plus some descriptions of what the ad hominem is, perhaps from reference works or text books or the like. If I have used this form of dishonesty, I owe some apologies; if I have not, then you owe our readers and myself a big apology.

As for what "Positive Atheism" means, this is more than thoroughly covered in our FAQ, including the Gandhian roots of this philosophy. The first and foremost thing that it means is that we refuse to bend over and take abuse and slander from members of the Christian majority. "Positive" means proactive in that we've stopped thinking that it's okay to be treated as second-class citizens and we've stopped acting as if it's okay to be lied to and lied about. If you have any suggestions as to how we might better respond to being lied to, lied about, and degraded, we'd be interested in hearing them, because there are no textbooks out there explaining to us the proper proceedure for responding to bigotry. The answer that I already reject is the one that says we ought to just continue to sit here and do nothing, sending the message that it's okay for members of the Christian majority to continue treating us the way they have since before atheism stopped being a capital offense in the West.

Again: I insist that you give us several examples of my behavior that you call "Christian bashing" and then explain to me precisely what is wrong with my behavior that it would warrant this attack from you. Then, I insist that you give is several examples of how I have used the form of dishonesty known as the ad hominem.

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

Graphic Rule
Added: May 25, 2001

From: Brandon Dalby
To: Positive Atheism Magazine
Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2001 9:35 PM
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section

1. Please give us examples of "Christian bashing" and then explain why it is wrong, because I do not know what you mean when you use this term.

Apparently, you like to play "dumb" in an attempt to obfuscate or overcomplicate the issue. At any rate, here are some selected quotes that showcase your extreme, unhistorical, false, unobjective, callous, couth, and ad hominem attacks: (a.k.a "Christian bashing"):

 

"...I can rest assured that I did the right thing by not worshiping the despicable god."

"...The Book of John is pure bullshit ..."

"..Paul had his head up his ass when he wrote Romans Chapter 7."

"Stop supporting the madness that the Christian religion advocates in its teachings."

"Christians want to take our culture back to the dark ages"
 

 

Finally, show us how I ought to respond to the patently abusive treatment that I receive at the hands of Christians who write here solely for the purpose of expressing their bigoted rage.

Apparently, you find it sensible to respond to patently abusive treatment WITH patently abusive treatment fueled by anti-Christian bigotry and religious prejudice. Whatever.
 

2. Please explain to us what you mean by "ad hominem." I know what the term ad hominem ordinarily means, and I am extremely cautious in my attempts to avoid practicing that form of dishonesty.

Read you own writings. You constantly attack "people" instead of their positions.
 

As for what "Positive Atheism" means, this is more than thoroughly covered in our FAQ. The first and foremost thing that it means is that we refuse to bend over and take abuse and slander from members of the Christian majority.

Sure, and you respond to such abuse and slander by exercising it in return. Not impressive.
 

"Positive" means proactive in that we've stopped thinking that it's okay to be treated as second-class citizens and we've stopped thinking that it's okay to be lied to and lied about. If you have any suggestions as to how we might better respond to being lied to, lied about, and degraded, we'd be interested in hearing them.

As general rule of thumb, you should not USE lies, degradations, and insults as a method to show that they are "wrong". Ever heard the adage "two wrongs don't make a right"? Apparently not.
 

Again: I insist that you give us several examples of my behavior that you call "Christian bashing" and then explain to me precisely what is wrong with my behavior that it would warrant this attack from you.

It is not an "attack" to observe an empirical characteristic of someone's writings.
 

Then, I insist that you give is several examples of how I have used the form of dishonesty known as the ad hominem.

I insist that you quit insisting on the same insistences. Please stop repeating yourself. It's bad enough that on average, you write two paragraphs of rhetoric and atheist propaganda for each isolated sentence.

Cheers,

Brandon

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Brandon Dalby"
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Friday, May 25, 2001 8:18 AM

Apparently, you like to play "dumb" in an attempt to obfuscate or overcomplicate the issue.

Play dumb? Obfuscate? Overcomplicate? These are some very serious charges, especially considering that you here pretend to know what is going on within the privacy of my own mind -- making pronouncements as to what I like or dislike.

Meanwhile, you're the one who's making a big deal over nothing, who's seeing "Christian bashing" (whatever that is) in one man's attempt to defend his reputation against an onslaught of defamation at the hands of Christians. (And since when have I ever done you any harm?)

It is a simple matter to pound your chest and hurl accusations at an individual. Christians do this to atheists all the time, probably because they realize they can get away with it. A member of the Christian majority can say just about anything he wants about a member of the atheist minority and Christians (and even some atheists) will believe him no matter how groundless the charge.

But let's see if you provide us with any reason to take your accusations seriously, or whether we best see your attack for what I initially suspected it to be: a groundless emotional outburst, not based in fact but based rather upon the institutionalized hatred of atheists fostered by the exclusivism inherent in the Christian religion's superiority complex.

I now strongly suspect that no response to any of the e-mail we get from bigoted Christians would have fared any differently with you. I am beginning to think that you would have attacked any and all possible responses except one: to bend over and pretend to agree with these Christians and to pretend to accept their indignity as just and deserved. After two exchanges with you, I now surmise that only by "staying in their place" can atheists be at peace with you.

Thus I intend to show that the only motive you could have possibly had in writing to me the way you have was to try to goad me into responding in some way that you could call unreasonable. You remind me of the school-yard bully who calls another kid names and tells lies about that kid until he cannot but respond just to save face. Then the bully uses any response the kid gives, any response at all, to justify beating the crap out of the kid.

Oh, and you never told us what "Christian bashing" means. If you wish to use jargon in a public discussion, you do well to at least be willing to define your use of the term. I asked for more than that, I asked for examples. You provided neither, which does not fare well for your credibility, much less your position.
 

At any rate, here are some selected quotes that showcase your extreme, unhistorical, false, unobjective, callous, couth, and ad hominem attacks: (a.k.a "Christian bashing"):

Like I said, it is a simple matter to pound your chest and hurl accusations. And if you're a member of the Christian majority, many Christians will take your word for it without further investigation -- no matter what I have to say about it. Many Christians will believe you simply because you are a Christian and will need no other reason.

And you still have not said a thing about what "Christian bashing" means. Am I "bashing" Christians themselves, or am I expressing my opinion of certain expressions of the Christian religion (which, as an idea, an institution, has no feelings, and thus cannot be injured or offended)?

Finally, I notice that you restrict yourself to my responses to two of the most taunting letters we have ever received, and that you further restrict yourself to letters prior to November, 1998, when I changed the name of what I do from "Critical Thinker" to "Positive Atheism." You deliberately stayed within the first 30 letters we ever received (but we now have almost 1,000 files posted).

Before November, 1998, I had been working for a group which I later left, in part, because I objected to the unreasonably bigoted-sounding style of that group's atheistic activism. Had I realized that this change would instantly triple the subscribership, that this change would multiply the web activity by tenfold during the first few months after the change, I would have done it long ago. Had I realized this change would eventually earn the praises and endorsements of influential leaders whom I could previously only hope to emulate myself, I would not have delayed.

But back then, my personal income was much less and I could not independently finance this project out of my own pocket. So I took advantage of those opportunities which were available to me, and tried not to rock the boat too much, because I thought that my gig depended on the group's good graces. Live and learn, I always say. I will openly admit that I have changed my tune in several respects, but I am not ashamed of any of the things you have pointed out here.

So let's see if the charges you bring forth against these four statements of mine ("extreme, unhistorical, false, unobjective, callous, couth, and ad hominem attacks") pan out despite the fact that we make no bones about this Forum being a learning experience -- an experiment. Let's see if your attacks against even these very early responses hold up to the light of scrutiny:
 

here are some selected quotes that showcase your extreme, unhistorical, false, unobjective, callous, couth, and ad hominem attacks:...

"...I can rest assured that I did the right thing by not worshiping the despicable god."

This is from "If You Were To Die Tonight Where Would You Go?" by an otherwise anonymous "Doug" (December, 1996). "Doug" was not the most honest person to ever write to our Forum by a long shot, and probably holds the record for being one of the most dismally pessimistic Christians I have ever encountered.

Here you wrest a small fragment of a sentence from its context and present it as my entire thought on the matter. You even place a period where no period exists in my original! Since you change my words under the guise of trying to discredit me, to show me a liar, etc., you are guilty of slander in addition to being a hypocrite.

Here is the entire passage, with what you excerpted in light gray, so that our readers can see precisely what you have done in your attempt to paint me as something that I am not:

 

Also, the ethics and morality of the Old and New Testaments are so barbaric as to literally turn my stomach at times. My mother did much better than the "Jesus" described in the New Testament -- and so can I. If it turns out that I am wrong about the Christian "hell," then I can rest assured that I did the right thing by not worshiping the despicable god who prepared such a place for his creatures. Such a god is unworthy of worship, but I can rest assured that such a god does not exist simply by watching the fruits of the religions that teach the existence of a "hell." Those religions (Christianity and Islam) have each done more damage to civilization than all other human-made systems put together.

 

Now, it is your turn to show that the concept of the Christian Hell and the other teachings which I denounced in the "Doug" letter are not "barbaric" and that the god portrayed in the New Testament is not rightly seen by me (or any humanist) as "despicable." Show how these teachings ought not "turn my stomach at times."

And you jack me around for not being "positive"? My gaud! Methinks I hear a pot calling something else a familiar color!

Besides, I am talking about a concept, here, a religious tenet: I have said nothing against any people whatsoever. So what is it about this statement that constitutes "Christian bashing"? or are you suggesting that the Christian religion is above scrutiny and therefore immune to criticism?
 

here are some selected quotes that showcase your extreme, unhistorical, false, unobjective, callous, couth, and ad hominem attacks:...

"...The Book of John is pure bullshit ..."

This is from "If You Were To Die Tonight Where Would You Go?" by the otherwise anonymous "Doug" (December, 1996) mentioned above. "Doug" is a man who appears to have had little more respect for truthfulness and honest discussion than you do. When he wrote, he challenged me by saying,

 

"Do you have the confidence in what you believe in to respond?"

 

When I did respond, however, "Doug" never wrote back!

"Doug" certainly cannot be described as "positive" in the sense of the word that you accuse me of not being. As miserable as the Twelve Steps tend to make those who "work" them, very few Steppers have displayed more pessimism than "Doug" did in his letter to our Forum: this is because the "Anonymous" groups have taken that one little quirk in the Christian religion which "Doug" has latched on to, and they've made an entire religion out of it.

"Doug" taunted me with this classic emotionally charged sales pitch for organized religion:

 

"Do you have enough confidence in what you believe in, to analyze the book of John in the New Testament, maybe a chapter a day, with an open mind, willing to let God speak to you if it was His will?"

 

He repeatedly asked me if I have "enough confidence" in my position. My complete response to this question (unedited by you) is as follows:

 

Thirdly, as for the Book of John, I have read it, beginning to end, over 200 times. Is that good enough for you? I even tried to believe it. How's that? The Book of John is pure bullshit and could not have possibly been written by a Jew of the time Jesus is alleged to have lived. It is most certainly a forgery, attributed (in the text itself) to someone who did not write the book.

 

But "Doug" was so wrapped up in foisting his God complex on me that it never occured to him that I might have already made diligent study of the Book of John. "Doug" acts as if nobody could possibly read the Book of John and still remain in disagreement with what he thinks the book says and means: anybody who reads this book "with an open mind" will de facto come to the same conclusions that "Doug" did when he read it. To him, open-mindedness is a state that always results in conversion to his brand of the Evangelical Christian religion.

The Book of John is based upon the notion that the story of Jesus is contained entirely within the symbolism of the Hebrew Scriptures, and this book betrays its having been designed to conform to this preconception. But only extremist Christian Fundamentalists still insist that the Book of John is historically accurate. It is replete with Christian exclusivism and Christian anti-Semitism (do a study of every occurrence of the phrase the Jews and see). I see nothing positive about the Book of John's portrayal of the Jews -- especially considering that even a cursory (extra-biblical) study of the times shows this portrayal to be slanderous of a very dignified people group.

The Book of John also contains the instructions which were later used for centuries to justify fastening my forebears to a stake and roasting them alive over a slow flame:

 

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
     -- John 15:6

 

Even if it were only a metaphor, this passage is anything but positive. Who but the Bible Jesus would relish the thought of men, women, and children being cast into a fire and burned? Who but the Bible Jesus had ever used symbolism like this, much less spoke of it as literal truth? But Roman Catholic and Protestant alike, despite their differences, agreed that this was a literal commandment from Jesus to burn my forebears -- and to burn them slowly so as to give us the maximum opportunity to "repent" amidst those flames of injustice (even though they couldn't have "repented" because the Christians had torn out their tongues to keep them from speaking out against this injustice -- as if commentary was even necessary -- but this logic escapes the "mercies" of the Christian deities). Who can surpass the "mercy" of the Christian god?

If that weren't enough, the Book of John is the portion of Christian Scripture which has been translated into more languages than any other portion (except certain sections of this book). The Book of John is the portion of Christian Scripture most likely to be shoved into the hands of youngsters, still too young to have developed the critical thinking skills necessary to see through the shallow bigotry advocated in this book.

And you jack me around for not being "positive"? I think I hear the pot calling. Again.

Besides, I am talking about a book, here: I have said nothing against any people whatsoever. So what is it about this statement that constitutes "Christian bashing"? or is the Christian Scripture above scrutiny and therefore immune to criticism?

For me to call the Book of John "pure bullshit" is, in my opinion, way too kind. However, I must maintain at least some air of dignity, and thus will leave the stronger language for another.
 

here are some selected quotes that showcase your extreme, unhistorical, false, unobjective, callous, couth, and ad hominem attacks:...

"..Paul had his head up his ass when he wrote Romans Chapter 7."

This is from "If You Were To Die Tonight Where Would You Go?" by the above-mentioned and otherwise anonymous "Doug" (December, 1996). Like I said, "Doug" is a man who appears to have had only a little more respect for truthfulness and honest discussion than you display. I cannot call his attitude "positive" but must call him one of the most overtly pessimistic people who have written to our Forum. I cannot consider his attitude "positive" even in the sense of proactive, but rather see him as utterly submissive to the dogma of organized religion. "Doug" is welcome to do whatever he chooses with his life, but there is absolutely nothing about what he said that would make me want to do that to myself.

"Doug" had said:

 

"About ten years ago, I came to the realization that I have a sin nature. I can't control that nature, and no matter what happens, I will always have that nature. In fact, because of that sin in my life, I was on a one-way-ticket to eternity in Hell by my own choosing. Not a sadistic God who would enjoy torturing me, but a merciful just God who must have justice, or He is not God."

 

I think this is an extremely warped view of humanity, a view which has caused untold destruction over the millennia, and which still causes much destruction today. The Twelve Step movement has not only adapted this negativism to their own ends, but has instituted it as the basis for public policy in America in the form of the disease model for addiction and alcoholism. To try to counter this extremely pessimistic viewpoint is, to me, one of the most positive things I can do for my fellow-humans; eliminating it from my own philosophical repertoire has been one of the most positive things I have ever done for myself.

After comparing Paul to the Twelve Step movement, I express to "Doug" my honest opinion about the man who originated this putrid view of humankind: "Paul had his head up his ass when he wrote Romans Chapter 7." Since it is physically impossible for a man to literally stick his head up his own ass, I obviously meant this as the metaphor that it is (although some Christians would dispute this just to be contrary, and some Christians would believe them just because a Christian said it and an atheist denied it).

I said this to "Doug" because Paul here pretends to be a Rabbinical scholar, but if any segment of Paul's writings show him to be anything but a trained Rabbi, it is this passage. Unfortunately, this is the passage which serves as the inspiration for the disgustingly pessimistic thinking that "Doug" relates in his story. Being a man of compassion, I cannot bear to see someone think this way, so whenever someone talks like this to me, I will respond with what I consider to be warm encouragement to do better. I love my fellow-humans too much to remain silent when they talk like this to me.

If you disagree, if you think that Paul was making perfect sense, then here is my challenge to you: Please map out the logic behind Romans 7:1-6, the premise upon which is based the rest of this most pessimistic of Bible passages:

 

[1] Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
[2] For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
[3] So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
[4] Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
[5] For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
[6] But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

 

Please explain to me one thing about this passage: just who has died, here? Follow the chain of logic and map out the symbolism: is it the old husband who died? is it the woman? the Church? is it Christ? the Church in Christ? is it the Law? Just who died, here?

If you cannot map out this (poor excuse for) logic, if you cannot provide us with a non-New Testament example of somebody passing drivel such as this as profound Pharisaic thinking, then I rest my case: Paul had his head up his ass when he wrote Romans 7, and people do well not to base their entire self-image upon this most destructively pessimistic of outlooks -- life as seen from a dark, muggy cave; life as seen by The Apostle To The Gentiles.

Paul was certainly not a trained Rabbi, because no Rabbi would have had the dark view of humanity that Paul here expresses. Just compare these thoughts with the bright, optimistic, reasonable, downright positive outlook of the classic Rabinical thinkers.

I've even heard Fundamentalists suggest that this passage must have been tampered with, it poses such serious problems upon close examination. But no textual evidence points toward such tampering: this is pure, distilled, unadulterated Paul at his "finest" -- this passage shows precisely what I think of Paul. I thought this way in the 1980s, when I first concluded that it was Paul who had his head up his ass, and not I; I thought this way again, when "Doug" reminded me of why I first came to this conclusion about Paul; I still feel this way today, even in the face of your empty charges that I am engaged in all these intellectual crimes against humanity. This is the same Paul who denounced anyone who would oppose the institution of slavery in First Timothy 6:1-5. This is the same Paul who ordered that women are not to speak in the church service, but are to settle for an explanation from the husband after they get home. No: It is Paul who was the intellectual criminal, by teaching countless millions of people that they are powerless, that they cannot change so they might as well believe in Jesus and be forgiven for their irresponsibility.

And you jack me around for not being "positive"? Do I hear a pot calling once more?

Besides, I am talking about a single religious figure, here, and am discussing his behavior, specifically what he wrote: I am holding him accountable for the ideas that he propagated as a Christian leader. I have said nothing personally against any living people whatsoever. So what is it about this statement that constitutes "Christian bashing"? or is the Christian leadership itself above scrutiny and therefore immune to criticism?
 

here are some selected quotes that showcase your extreme, unhistorical, false, unobjective, callous, couth, and ad hominem attacks:...

"Stop supporting the madness that the Christian religion advocates in its teachings."

This is from "If You Were To Die Tonight Where Would You Go?" by our otherwise anonymous and above-mentioned nemesis "Doug" (December, 1996). "Doug" had just condemned me to spend eternity burning in the Christian Hell for disagreeing with him. This concept of the Christian Hell and the notion of morality based upon the threats of punishment and the enticements of Paradise is, to me, pure madness, and I've always felt this way -- even when I was a Christian. This teaching is one of the many reasons why I eventually renounced the Christian religion and started speaking out against it.

Instead, I advocate to "Doug" that we all drop the rhetoric wherein we threaten people with physical violence for their ideas (which is what the whole notion of the Christian Hell is, a threat of physical violence), and that we instead work together to solve some of the real problems that face us as a species.

If you had the integrity which you pretend in your pompousness toward me, you would have at least finished my thought in your quotation of me.

"Doug" had said:

 

"Depending on my "religious efforts" or being pious isn't getting me to heaven. I can't save myself by going to church every Sunday or singing in the choir."

 

I replied:

 

"I agree. Stop wasting your time and live your own life. Stop supporting the madness that the Christian religion advocates in its teachings. There are important things to be done and life can be fun at times. You cannot save yourself because you don't need saving. You are human and that is good enough. (At least, that is good enough for me!)"

 

But in abbreviating my response, culling out only those words which, taken out of their context, make me appear bigoted, you have turned out to be every bit as dishonest as I initially suspected, and have done little more than bring further shame to the Christian religion.

And you jack me around for not being "positive"? calling me dishonest and all other manner of evil? Jeez! The pot is definitely calling the kettle black!

Besides, I am talking about a set of religious tenets, here: I have said nothing against any people whatsoever. So what is it about this statement that constitutes "Christian bashing"? or is the Christian religion itself above scrutiny and immune to criticism?
 

here are some selected quotes that showcase your extreme, unhistorical, false, unobjective, callous, couth, and ad hominem attacks:...

"Christians want to take our culture back to the dark ages"

This is from "Darwin Is Not Opposite Of Jesus So Why The Little Fish With Legs?" from Charles Gause (June, 1997). Mr. Gause is a man who appears to have had less respect for truthfulness and honest discussion than you do -- or even "Doug," for that matter. In this passage that you misquote, I was responding to Mr. Gause having called the vast majority of biologists, biochemists, zoologists, oceanographers, geologists and paleontologists "fools." He also degrades a well-respected historical figure by calling him by a name that he never himself used -- akin to someone engaging in a serious discussion but giving Jesus Christ the middle initial of "H."

Mr Gause said:

 

Professing to be wise many have made fools of themselves by following the teachings of Charlie Darwin.

 

But you edited my response in such a way as to make it appear that I said that all Christians want to take our culture back to the Dark Ages. Had I actually said this, I would have indeed been guilty of bigotry. You did this by removing the qualifying adjective many from before the word Christians. For me to catch you in this act of deception (slander) does not fare well for your position. You didn't even bother to use the virgule to indicate that this is a sentence fragment, and not the complete sentence.

My actual response was a comparison between what I see as the symbolism of the "Jesus Fish" symbol and the "Darwin Amphibian" parody of the "Jesus Fish" symbol -- which are still being sold by the organization that I used to work for.

Here is the segment, in its entirety, with what you excerpted in light gray:

 

Charles Gause: Darwin is not opposite of Jesus so why the little fish with legs?

Cliff Walker: The little "fish" with legs is supposed to represent an amphibian. Darwin does not represent the opposite of Jesus, but represents one of many elements in the more accurate and more useful replacement for the highly destructive Jesus myth. The Darwin Amphibian is moving from left to right -- forward on the timeline -- while the Jesus Fish is moving from right to left -- backwards on the timeline. This is significant seeing that many Christians want to take our culture back to the dark ages, and seeing that Christianity has consistently opposed any and all advances in science. The one exception is when those advances later turn out for the good of all; in which case, the Christians almost always give their god retroactive credit for having "inspired" scientists to find the cure, etc. Never mind that the Christian god spent thousands of years keeping such knowledge hidden from man before he allegedly inspired a hard-working scientist to discover it.

 

Note that my use of the word many changes this entirely from the false way in which you have portrayed me. Many Christians do want to take us back to the Reformation and before. They are not satisfied with living in the neo-Dark Ages themselves, but insist on bringing the rest of society with them. Were this not the case, I would have had no work to do during the past dozen years that I have been an atheistic activist. And were all Christians this way, then I could not say that most of my allies in this struggle are themselves Christians who oppose these other Christians more bitterly than I because those Christians taint the name and reputation of the Christian religion.

So, what is your objection to what I really said? And precisely how does what I really said constitute what you have called it?
 

Finally, show us how I ought to respond to the patently abusive treatment that I receive at the hands of Christians who write here solely for the purpose of expressing their bigoted rage.

Apparently, you find it sensible to respond to patently abusive treatment WITH patently abusive treatment fueled by anti-Christian bigotry and religious prejudice. Whatever.

That was not my question: I asked you to show us the proper way to respond to bigoted Christians (such as yourself) when they log on to our website (which is clearly marked as having a target audience of atheists) and issuing abusive treatment -- lies, empty charges, chest-pounding, posturing without explaining to us what you're posturing about, etc. How might an atheist have responded without incurring the wrath of someone such as yourself? (Or would you have attacked any response from an atheist -- any response short of acquiescing to the claims of the Christian religion?)

In other words, how do I respond to someone who, from all appearances, desperately wants me to be rude to him? who seems to be trying to goad me to act rudely just so he can shine his nails and say, "That atheist was rude to me! I will therefore write off all atheists and will even dismiss the entire atheistic position because that one atheist responded to my rudeness in kind!" What is proper decorum in a philosophical discussion for dealing with somebody who is literally asking for it?

I asked you the first time to show us examples, and you did not. Sure, you edited a few excerpts to make it appear that I was acting this way, but my question remains: How do I respond to someone who says that I am issuing "patently abusive treatment" but who will not show my writings to be "patently abusive"? And how do I respond to someone who lies, goads, calls me a fool, and tells me I'm going to end up in the Christian Hell for disagreeing with him without saying something that exposes me to charges of "patently abusive treatment" and "bigotry" from people such as yourself?

Give me one reason why I ought to see your behavior here as anything other than an attempt to goad me into responding in a way that you can later denounce!

If you can explain to us how to respond to Christian sales pitches and the Christian superiority complex without even sounding like we're being rude, you stand to make a mint -- because most atheists I know find being the targets of Christian evangelism to be the epitome of awkwardness. I would pay good money to find out a polite and appropriate way to respond to Christians' overt, intrusive, patently dishonest, and utterly condescending attempts to entice or coerce me to go along with organized religion. If I had to choose between the two, I would much rather have a bum threaten to beat me up for not giving him a cigarette -- that is how awkward and embarrassing I find most attempts at converting me to the Christian religion or similar attempts to "set me straight" on matters regarding the Christian faith. I just cannot fathom people approaching their fellow-humans and treating them this way!

And of those attempts to "set me straight," yours ranks as one of the more degrading simply because of the sheer dishonesty in your presentation.
 

2. Please explain to us what you mean by "ad hominem." I know what the term ad hominem ordinarily means, and I am extremely cautious in my attempts to avoid practicing that form of dishonesty.

Read you own writings. You constantly attack "people" instead of their positions.

Your dishonesty and laziness are showing again: I asked you to give me examples, and you did not. Why? Because there are no such examples! The closest I ever come to attacking people is by showing what I disdain about their behavior toward me -- such as my attacking your dishonesty. This is my style, and I have been using it on this Forum since its inception. You had to go back to the very beginning to even come close. And even then, you had to edit my words in order to make them even sound like how you want to portray me.
 

As for what "Positive Atheism" means, this is more than thoroughly covered in our FAQ. The first and foremost thing that it means is that we refuse to bend over and take abuse and slander from members of the Christian majority.

Sure, and you respond to such abuse and slander by exercising it in return. Not impressive.

Once more you make noise but do not even try to make your case. This is because such a case cannot be made. All that's left is for you to merely state that I do this: you cannot show me doing this at all.
 

"Positive" means proactive in that we've stopped thinking that it's okay to be treated as second-class citizens and we've stopped thinking that it's okay to be lied to and lied about. If you have any suggestions as to how we might better respond to being lied to, lied about, and degraded, we'd be interested in hearing them.

As general rule of thumb, you should not USE lies, degradations, and insults as a method to show that they are "wrong". Ever heard the adage "two wrongs don't make a right"? Apparently not.

Again, you make noise and merely state that I lie, but cannot even begin to show that your charges are true.
 

Again: I insist that you give us several examples of my behavior that you call "Christian bashing" and then explain to me precisely what is wrong with my behavior that it would warrant this attack from you.

It is not an "attack" to observe an empirical characteristic of someone's writings.

If this were an "empirical characteristic," then it would be a simple matter for you to provide us with specific examples of what you are attacking. But your attack is groundless because my writings do not contain the "characteristic" that you claim they do. My writings do not even say what you claimed they said, as I showed above when I repeated entire sentences to show the context.
 

Then, I insist that you give is several examples of how I have used the form of dishonesty known as the ad hominem.

I insist that you quit insisting on the same insistences. Please stop repeating yourself. It's bad enough that on average, you write two paragraphs of rhetoric and atheist propaganda for each isolated sentence.

Is this all you have to say for yourself?

And how is providing two paragraphs of carefully defending oneself against vicious slander by showing that slander to be groundless inferior to your method of simply making a one-sentence assertion and not backing it up? Perhaps stupid people will be more willing to read short paragraphs than long ones? I don't get it.

I insisted that you back up your attacks against me and you not only failed to do this, but continued simply to make bald assertions.

Have a nice life! As far as we can tell, it's the only one we get.

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

Graphic Rule
Added: May 27, 2001

From: Brandon Dalby
To: Positive Atheism Magazine
Sent: Saturday, May 26, 2001 5:17 PM
Subject: Response 2
 

Apparently, you like to play "dumb" in an attempt to obfuscate or overcomplicate the issue. 

Play dumb? Obfuscate? Overcomplicate? These are some very serious charges, especially considering that you here pretend to know what is going on within the privacy of my own mind -- making pronouncements as to what I like or dislike.

Pretended ignorance must be the only reason that someone of your age would not know what it means to be "Christian bashing". Christian bashing (or bashing of anything else) is when a person or groups of persons set out to discredit, undermine, dismantle, or insult a person or groups of persons for what they believe or how they live, or what they look like. In your case, it is Christianity and those of the Christian faith, thus, "Christian bashing".
 

It is a simple matter to pound your chest and hurl accusations at an individual.

Yes, and it is equally a simple matter to read your words and see that my "accusations" are merely basic observations.
 

But let's see if you provide us with any reason to take your accusations seriously, or whether we best see your attack for what I initially suspected it to be: a groundless emotional outburst,

There wasn't even an ounce of emotion in anything I stated; so don't even try to pull out your tired little "emotion vs. reason" false dichotomy because it won't work with me, nor do I give an crumb for your stereotyping.

(By the way, it looks like you just assumed to know what's going on within the privacy of my mind----making pronouncements of it's emotional content).
 

not based in fact but based rather upon the institutionalized hatred of atheists

Another assumption about what I think or "hate". Furthermore, I do not "hate" persons, atheist or otherwise, but I do hate the falsehoods and misinformation they like to propagate. ... fostered by the exclusivism inherent in the Christian religion's superiority complex.

The truth is always superior to falsehood. There is no "complex" involved here.
 

After two exchanges with you, I now surmise that only by "staying in their place" can atheists be at peace with you.

Geez, don't look now, but that's your THIRD assumption about what I think.
 

Thus I intend to show that the only motive you could have possibly had in writing to me the way you have was to try to goad me into responding in some way that you could call unreasonable.

There's assumption number 4. Don't stop now, you're on a roll!
 

here are some selected quotes that showcase your extreme, unhistorical, false, unobjective, callous, couth, and ad hominem attacks:
 

 

"...I can rest assured that I did the right thing by not worshiping the despicable god."

 

Here you wrest a small fragment of a sentence from its context and present it as my entire thought on the matter. You even place a period where no period exists in my original! Since you change my words under the guise of trying to discredit me, to show me a liar, etc., you are guilty of slander in addition to being a hypocrite.

Oh get over yourself! I hardly doubt accidentally adding a period constitutes slander! I hope this kind of hyper-selective, ultra sensitive nonsense is not what I can expect from you in the future.
 

Here is the entire passage, so that our readers can see precisely what you have done in your attempt to paint me as something that I am not:

 

Also, the ethics and morality of the Old and New Testaments are so barbaric as to literally turn my stomach at times. My mother did much better than the "Jesus" described in the New Testament -- and so can I. If it turns out that I am wrong about the Christian "hell," then I can rest assured that I did the right thing by not worshiping the despicable god who prepared such a place for his creatures. Such a god is unworthy of worship, but I can rest assured that such a god does not exist simply by watching the fruits of the religions that teach the existence of a "hell." Those religions (Christianity and Islam) have each done more damage to civilization than all other human-made systems put together.

 
 

Now, it is your turn to show that the concept of the Christian Hell and the other teachings which I denounced in the "Doug" letter are not "barbaric" and that the god portrayed in the New Testament is not rightly seen by me (or any humanist) as "despicable."

First, it is not my responsibility to show why something is "not". It is YOUR responsibility to show why something IS since you are positively calling these characteristics and moral judgments into existence. So get busy with providing the objective basis for your moral judgment. If can't or won't provide this objective basis, then I can rightly dismiss your moral judgments as arbitrary, whimsical opinions and your rejection of the Christian God can be laid to rest as merely a result of the Personal Incredulity fallacy.
 

And you jack me around for not being "positive"? My gaud! Methinks I hear a pot calling something else a familiar color

Quit listening to your dishware and start actually building a evidential case for your moaning, bitching, and complaining towards Christianity.
 

The Book of John is based upon the notion that the story of Jesus is contained entirely within the symbolism of the Hebrew Scriptures, and this book betrays its having been designed to conform to this preconception. But only extremist Christian Fundamentalists still insist that the Book of John is historically accurate. It is replete with Christian exclusivism and Christian anti-Semitism (do a study of every occurrence of the phrase the Jews and see). I see nothing positive about the Book of John's portrayal of the Jews -- especially considering that even a cursory (extra-biblical) study of the times shows this portrayal to be slanderous of a very dignified people group.

This is merely your interpretation and is far from conclusive in any way. (Also, please provide all of the historical data that undermines the historical authenticity of the book of John and explain in detail how and why that data absolutely NECESSITATES your interpretation).
 

The Book of John also contains the instructions which were later used for centuries to justify fastening my forebears to a stake and roasting them alive over a slow flame:

 

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
     -- John 15:6

 

Even if this were only a metaphor, this passage is anything but positive.

"Positive" things are not "supposed" to happen to the godless, so pointing this out is hardly revelatory.
 

Who but the Bible Jesus would relish the thought of men, women, and children being cast into a fire and burned?

The passage does not say anything about Jesus "relishing" any such concept.

Please quit adding your own queer predilections into the text.
 

Who but the Bible Jesus had ever used symbolism like this, much less spoke of it as literal truth? But Roman Catholic and Protestant alike, despite their differences, agreed that this was a literal commandment from Jesus to burn my forebears -- and to burn them slowly so as to give us the maximum opportunity to "repent" amidst those flames of injustice.

The misinterpretations of external readers does not negate the text's validity or meaning. Besides, the atheist Stalin had millions of Christians put to death. I suppose that means that atheism is a horrid position and is responsible for their deaths? I don't think so.
 

If that weren't enough, the Book of John is the portion of Christian Scripture which has been translated into more languages than any other portion (except certain sections of this book). The Book of John is the portion of Christian Scripture most likely to be shoved into the hands of youngsters, still too young to have developed the critical thinking skills necessary to see through the shallow bigotry advocated in this book.

These are more of your empty assertions and personal opinions. Perhaps you define "critical thinking skills" to mean: "agreeing with Cliff's subjective opinions and interpretations." If that is the case, (which it is) you better get busy proving that your opinionated interpretation is absolutely necessary and that all other interpretations are invalid. If you can't or won't, then your above commentary can be readily dismissed as nothing more substantive than bitching and moaning.
 

For me to call the Book of John "pure bullshit" is, in my opinion, way too kind. This ridiculous comment only begs the question of how you define "kind".

However, I must maintain at least some air of dignity, and thus will leave the stronger language for another.

Well, you utterly failed to either show dignity OR present reasonable arguments to back up your crass insult to the book of John. (Or any other book of the NT for that matter)
 

I think this is an extremely warped view of humanity,

No, it's an accurate view of humanity and human history has proven it's accuracy countless times. Sorry, but you will need to show why only "happy, fluffy" views of humanity are true and that anything "negative" is necessarily false; otherwise your insult of calling this perspective "warped" isn't worth the breath it takes to utter, or the energy it takes to type.
 

a view which has caused untold destruction over the millennia, and which still causes much destruction today.

Please verify and document this alleged "untold destruction over the millennia" and prove it's inextricable linkage solely to a belief in a sin nature. IF you can't or won't provide this evidence, your charge can be once again dismissed as bitching, moaning, and more empty spouting of the mouth.
 

After comparing Paul to the Twelve Step movement, I express to "Doug" my honest opinion about the man who originated this putrid view of humankind: "Paul had his head up his ass when he wrote Romans Chapter 7."

Perhaps you made this comment because your head has been up Carl Sagan's ass, or up the asses of the writers of the Humanist Manifestos?
 

Since it is physically impossible for a man to literally stick his head up his own ass, I obviously meant this as the metaphor that it is (although some Christians would dispute this just to be contrary, and some Christians would believe them just because a Christian said it and an atheist denied it).

It was a metaphor designed to personally attack Paul, which is, by definition, ad hominem. Quit with your silly tap dancing and admit your error.
 

I said this to "Doug" because Paul here pretends to be a Rabbinical scholar,

Please provide the specific historical documentation that conclusively exposes this deception that Paul allegedly committed.
 

but if any segment of Paul's writings show him to be anything but a trained Rabbi, it is this passage.

Wrong. That is merely your interpretation and is merely only one of MANY.
 

If you disagree, if you think that Paul was making perfect sense, then here is my challenge to you: Please map out the logic behind Romans 7:1-6, the premise upon which is based the rest of this most pessimistic of Bible passages:

 [1] Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
[2] For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
[3] So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
[4] Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
[5] For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
[6] But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
 

Please explain to me one thing about this passage: just who has died, here? Follow the chain of logic and map out the symbolism: is it the old husband who died? is it the woman? the Church? is it Christ? the Church in Christ? is it the Law? Just who died,

Your poor ability to think theologically is flagrantly obvious. I will explain exactly what Paul is saying. First, read these passages in a less antiquated translation - (NIV):

 

1 Do you not know, brothers--for I am speaking to men who know the law--that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives?
2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.
3 So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man.
4 So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.
5 For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, [1] the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death.
6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

 

Paul is laying out the transition of law-based justification to spiritually-based justification through Christ. He explains this transition by using an ANALOGY of the law involving marriage, death, and remarriage. (Did you catch that? An ANALOGY). Paul is likening the spiritually-based justification of the new covenant to a woman who is no longer bound to her husband that dies. He explains this in verse four. The body of Christ represents the "law" (that was once the basis for justification). Once the body of Christ died, our bondage to the law (for justification) was broken (just as the wife's bondage to her husband is broken when he dies). The marriage to "another" represents the "glorified" body of Christ that he attained after he was raised from the dead. Paul speaks of this "spiritual" body (of the risen Christ) as the new "husband" to illustrate our freedom through spiritual justification. With this in mind, Paul in verse 6 is figuratively saying that we "die" to the law that once bound us, so that we are "released" to serve the new way of the Spirit". (Just as a woman is released from her husband once he dies). So in summary, no one is literally dying here. Paul simply was using an analogy to expound theological principles regarding justification through Christ.
 

Paul was certainly not a trained Rabbi, because no Rabbi would have had the dark view of humanity that Paul here expresses. Just compare these thoughts with the bright, optimistic, reasonable, downright positive outlook of the classic Rabinical thinkers.

I'm not sure what rabbinical thinkers you are referring to, but if they base any of their thinking on the perversions and disgusting morals of the Talmud, I hardly doubt their outlook would be "positive".
 

I've even heard Fundamentalists suggest that this passage must have been tampered with, it poses such serious problems upon close examination. But no textual evidence points toward such tampering: this is pure, distilled, unadulterated Paul at his "finest" -- this passage shows precisely what I think of Paul.

There are no "serious" problems whatsoever. The "problems" rest completely with you and your lack of ability to understand analogies and/or spiritual concepts.
 

I thought this way in the 1980s, when I first concluded that it was Paul who had his head up his ass, and not I;

Perhaps you should reevaluate the other possibility. (Just kidding).
 

This is the same Paul who denounced anyone who would oppose the institution of slavery in First Timothy 6:1-5.

Nonsense. Paul did not say slavery was "good" or encouraged people to engage in it. He was merely addressing the issue that many slaves were converting to Christ and he was simply advising Timothy to encourage them not become rebellious because if Christian slaves began to rebel against their masters in any way, the Romans would associate the rebellion to Christianity and would start to respond to Christians as socio-political revolutionists. Your short-sighted and ill-considered conclusion exposes your dishonest, biased, and skewed approach since you did not carefully think this through or evaluate other possibilities for Paul's comments in First Timothy 6.
 

This is the same Paul who ordered that women are not to speak in the church service, but are to settle for an explanation from the husband after they get home.

It also implies that "men" in the congregation are not to speak either. It would be kind of chaotic to have a church service if you have 5 different people preaching 5 different sermons at the same time, don't ya think?
 

No: It is Paul who was the intellectual criminal,

No you are and your slander against Paul is totally unjustified.
 

by teaching countless millions of people that they are powerless,

Nonsense. Paul believed that: "all things are possible through Christ who strengthens me".
 

that they cannot change so they might as well believe in Jesus and be forgiven for their irresponsibility.

Wrong. This is your ill-considered assumption based on your slanderous attitude against Paul. Try again.
 

Instead, I advocate to "Doug" that we all drop the rhetoric wherein we threaten people with physical violence for their ideas (which is what the whole notion of the Christian Hell is, a threat of physical violence),

Hell is a condition of spiritual separation from God that Jesus described in metaphorical terms. As a spiritual condition, it cannot be considered a "physical" threat.
 

But you edited my response in such a way as to make it appear that I said that all Christians want to take our culture back to the Dark Ages. Had I actually said this, I would have indeed been guilty of bigotry. You did this by removing the qualifying adjective many from before the word Christians. For me to catch you in this act of deception (slander) does not fare well for your position. You didn't even bother to use the virgule to indicate that this is a sentence fragment, and not the complete sentence.

Those still were your exact words so it cannot be considered a "misquote".

Perhaps I should have included more detail on that quote and I'm sorry if it implied a misrepresentation of your views. I offer my apologies.
 

Finally, show us how I ought to respond to the patently abusive treatment that I receive at the hands of Christians who write here solely for the purpose of expressing their bigoted rage.

Apparently, you find it sensible to respond to patently abusive treatment WITH patently abusive treatment fueled by anti-Christian bigotry and religious prejudice. Whatever.

First, that was not my question: I asked you to show us the proper way to respond to bigoted Christians (such as yourself)

Would you care to demonstrate exactly how and why I am a "bigoted Christian"?
 

And of those attempts to "set me straight," yours ranks as one of the more degrading simply because of the sheer dishonesty in your presentation.

Nonsense. I have only selected your EXACT words to highlight your extreme prejudice against Christianity, Christian doctrine, and Christian people.
 

And you did not: Why? Because there are no such examples!

It is foolish to ask a question and then answer yourself in the same sentence. However, an example of your attacking a person is your insulting Paul personally by saying that he has his "head up his ass". Please quit being evasive and admit your error.
 

Then, I insist that you give is several examples of how I have used the form of dishonesty known as the ad hominem. 

I insist that you quit insisting on the same insistences. Please stop repeating yourself. It's bad enough that on average, you write two paragraphs of rhetoric and atheist propaganda for each isolated sentence.

Is this all you have to say for yourself?

No. I have plenty more to say. And you?
 

And how is providing two paragraphs of carefully defending oneself against vicious slander by showing that slander to be groundless inferior to your method of simply making assertions and not backing them up?

You are missing my point. Through much of your correspondences, I noticed how you would rant for paragraphs in response to a short sentence. Those tirades cause these exchanges to mushroom unnecessarily into behemoth messages. I am suggesting that you keep your words few and to the point and please avoid lengthy tangents if at all possible.
 

Perhaps stupid people will be more willing to read short paragraphs than long ones? I don't get it.

This is not a question of intelligence, but an issue POIGNANCY.

Brandon

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Brandon Dalby"
Subject: Re: Response 2
Date: Monday, May 28, 2001 9:05 PM

"Positive" things are not "supposed" to happen to the godless, so pointing this out is hardly revelatory.

Here is where you and I part company. I now see precisely where you're coming from, but somehow suspected this all along. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction. I would never have dared to carry a description of bigotry this far -- without thinking I might come off as "Christian bashing" or something.

So why did you initially say you were "baffled as to why [I] could possibly label [my] forum 'Positive' atheism" (your emphasis on the word positive), and then proceed to call me all those names -- as if the notion of positive atheism is even conceivable? Now you say that "'positive' things are not 'supposed' to happen to" atheists (your use of quotation marks in both instances escapes me). Does this suggest that the notion of positive atheism is, to you, oxymoronic and that the terms are, in your opinion, mutually exclusive? Did you simply throw in the name-calling and slander for good measure? simply because we're atheists? and as such deserve whatever forms of abuse come to mind at a given moment?

Have a nice life nonetheless.
 

Pretended ignorance must be the only reason that someone of your age would not know what it means to be "Christian bashing". Christian bashing (or bashing of anything else) is when a person or groups of persons set out to discredit, undermine, dismantle, or insult a person or groups of persons for what they believe or how they live, or what they look like. In your case, it is Christianity and those of the Christian faith, thus, "Christian bashing".

Okay, now I know what you mean by "Christian bashing": if being highly critical of the viewpoint propagated by "X" or the behavior practiced or advocated by "X" is "X bashing," then your concept of the term bashing differs from mine. I have never understood viewpoints to have feelings or the ability to be offended. Never have I respected the notion that a particular viewpoint is "sacred" -- that is, above scrutiny or somehow immune to criticism. But "[whatever] bashing" is a vague term: based upon the various ways in which I've heard it used, it could mean any number of different things, ranging from what I think it probably means (how I would use it were it even part of my vocabulary) to what you now tell me it means when you use it.

This is precisely why the term atheist bashing does not occur anywhere in our editorial content. I prefer simply to describe what I am talking about and to make my case rather than using jargon and simply making pronouncements, and then claiming that I don't have to back them up, as if I am somehow above such decorum. Not being a member of the Christian majority, I do not have the luxury of being able to get away with acting this way toward my fellow-humans.

If I did use the term bashing, I would apply it only to personal attacks based solely upon someone's association with a group (i.e., condemning someone simply because that person is a Twelve Stepper, without having encountered any untoward behavior from that particular individual). I say this because the term sounds like an accusation of immoral or improper behavior, and of all the things you mentioned above, I find nothing improper: it is entirely legitimate to criticize a particular viewpoint as long as one is willing to at least try to make a case for oneself and as long as that individual is willing to field counter-criticism. The only things I can think of that I'd call improper would be: condemning somebody simply for their affiliation ("Better stay out of his taxi, he's a Nazi"); condemning an entire group based upon the behavior of some (saying "Christians want to take us back to the Dark Ages" asopposed to saying "some Christians want to take us back to the Dark Ages"); lying for the purpose of making your position appear truthful -- particularly lying about your opponent or your opponent's position and thus defaming that person or his position unjustly (this would include making bald assertions without being willing to back them up -- a common but not universal behavior among those Christians who have written to our Forum).

The rest of your response appears to resemble that of Franklin's "divines":

 

"It is so."
"It is not so."
"It is so."
"It is not so."
     -- Poor Richard's Almanack (1743)

 

So I am not going to repeat myself: I suspect that anything I have to say ("the Earth is a globe") would be countered with the opposite ("no it isn't, it's flat").

Your behavior is not something that I wish to emulate.

As I said before, have a nice life. The best that I can hope for you is that you quickly get over your problem with what I am doing and find something more productive to do than to attack me. Certainly there are some truly destructive, truly dishonest individuals who actually deserve the amount and intensity of effort that you have put in to saying bad things about me. Since this is probably the only life I get to live, and since I will probably fall way short of the average life expectancy, will use my time wisely and will attack only those institutions and ideas and behaviors which have consistently caused me harm.

Not going along with the Christian head-game has prompted more numerous and more vicious reactions than everything else put together, having begun when I was a small child. So I will spend most of my energy helping those in similar situations, the victims of bigotry and slander at the hands of Christians. And part of this will be to respond to those acts of slander and bigotry that come my way and to showcase them for what they are. My ultimate motive is the hope that someone might find a method for responding to bigoted Christians that will not attract charges of "Christian bashing" even from the more bigoted Christians among us.

One of my closest friends at this moment, a prominent Christian leader in this town, tells me that this will never happen, that any criticism of Christianity, no matter how valid and no matter how politely stated, will always draw bitter and dishonest responses such as yours. He assures me, though, that Christians exist who do listen to criticism of Christianity in the hopes of making their presentation of the Christian message more meaningful.

I certainly hope you eventually get over your problem with what I'm doing. I know what it's like to let what someone else does eat away at one's very existence, and I wouldn't wish that on anybody. But since I have control only over myself, I can solve only my own problems. So to solve this particular problem of obsessing on what other people do, I renounced my faith in the Christian religion and became an atheist. Since doing this, I do not care what other people think do or say, except as their behavior directly impairs my own quality of life, including my reputation, which is really all I have worth protecting.

And if you don't like it, here's the exit.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe --
          having read but a small part of one Carl Sagan book,
               having never seen a Carl Sagan film or TV show,
                    and having never read the Humanist Manifesto

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.