Why Would Anyone Not
Believe There Is A God?
Taylor Zerkee

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org> To:
Subject: Re: PA-via_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Sunday, April 01, 2001 5:27 AM

Some of us need more than simply the word of some clown who still wears his graduation gown on Sunday mornings.

What does this prove? Many people don't come out of tragic accidents, or come out of them and must spend the rest of their miserable lives in an iron lung. What does it prove that some people get lucky and others don't?

So, since the good things "happen from God," then whence cometh the not-so-good things? Who made kittens? Who put snakes in the grass? Who made the cute little Galapagos Tortoise hatchlings that crawl to the ocean every year? Who made the predatory birds that know when the hatchlings are due and cruise over to the beach that day for hatchling on the half-shell, leaving perhaps one or two (if that many) to carry on the tradition?

When the Oregon earthquake happened several years ago, a boulder rolled down a hill and slammed into a car, killing the woman driving it. Her husband later thanked "God" and called it "a miracle" that she was driving that day and not he. He wasn't just using rhetoric, he was serious! Perhaps if he'd been driving, he'd have gone a little faster or a little slower, and they'd both be alive. To show that something is a "miracle," you need to eliminate all other possible explanations. You need to demonstrate that the laws of nature were suspended on someone's behalf -- both the known laws of physics as well as the unknown laws.

Perhaps your poor excuse for a "God" helped save that one person who survived a shipwreck while several hundred others each spent their last moments choking on sea water and waiting for unconsciousness to shed her grace upon them and end the terrifying convulsions of suffocation and the panic of the impending and premature end to their only crack at living.

But I doubt that that's what happened.

This is the lamest "proof" for the existence of a "God" on the market. I am offended that you would even think that I'd fall for this one. It slanders the very god whose existence you are trying to prove. Whoever taught you to repeat this one ought to be charged with child abuse.

Theism makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. It often calluses people's natural human sympathies on behalf of trying to sell the religion. Many religious people are so wrapped up in "proving" that their god exists that they'd degrade the memory of those who died in a tragedy, just to "show" that their god displayed a "miracle" and saved one or two people from that tragedy (or arranged for that person not to be near when tragedy struck).

Religion can be very degrading at times. Some religious people will even log on to a website erected for the benefit of atheists and will write snide remarks to the webmaster without even reading what the website is all about. Such religious people offend people and act like fools just to sales-pitch their religion -- and for no other reason. Religion does this and much more to people, and that's why I don't like religion.

Fortunately, most religious people keep to themselves and leave other people alone to live their own lives. We don't hear from them at all. This is a good thing.

When people die, they don't come back. If they "come back" then they never died.

When Muslims think they've died, they tell tales of the Islamic Paradise. When Roman Catholics think they've died, the Virgin Mary was inevitably there; when Protestants think they've died, Mary is never there, only Jesus. When people of other religions think they've died, they all report visions that correspond to the religious teachings of their youth.

Hmmm. This sounds very suspicious.

When pilots reach a certain acceleration, they begin to hallucinate from the loss of blood, and these hallucinations are remarkable in their resemblance to the "experience" of those who think they've died and returned.

When I stopped breathing once, for several minutes, I experienced one thing and one thing only: I experienced the overwhelming realization that if I was going to start breathing again, I'd better stop praying and make an effort to move something to get some air in there. So, all my feeble, half-paralyzed strength went into "Move this muscle -- c'mon! Move it!" and stuff like that. Alone, with nobody to help me (not even a god -- in whom I believed at the time), I was able to get a small but sufficient amount of air into my lungs to keep me alive. Until I concentrated all my efforts and decided that this was my only crack at continuing to live, I laid there and let "God" or "fate" do its thing. This was one of the last times I ever prayed.

No. I've been very sick many times, and have hallucinated profusely as a result. I know that my delusions were simply delusions even though they seemed real at the time. I'm certainly not going to take the word of somebody who was near death.

Surely your god has a more believable way to demonstrate his existence than by the testimony of people who are on the brink of death. If you had magical powers, would you demonstrate them by pulling rabbits out of a hat? I wouldn't. In the same sense, your god (if he exists) ought to be able to do better than to reveal himself to people whose bodies and minds have stopped functioning to the point where everybody watching thought they had died!

I have no idea why so many people fall for this one. It makes the god look like a cosmic huckster and makes those who believe these yarns look like imbeciles. Religion is so very degrading. Keep it away from me! Far, far away!

This is the only kind of religion that I respect.

Had you kept it private, I would leave it alone. But you here use a private religious experience as an alleged "proof" that your experience is shared, rather than private. So, here's my response:

If you knew that you were just playing around, it would be pretend. It's not pretend because you have been deceived into thinking that Jesus is really real.

If Christ is who the Bible says he is, I want nothing to do with him because I am a man of truth and a man of peace. The Christ figure is by far the most brutal character to come out of all of mythology, expressing wanton disregard for the feelings and the struggles of even his followers -- much less his enemies (John 15:1-6). No wonder your forebears tied my forebears to poles and set them on fire -- after tearing out their tongues so they could not "utter blasphemy" during their horrifying death throes.

But you have a wonderful relationship with this creep. So? I had a wonderful relationship with my stuffed puppy when I was a kid. Most people who become Roman Catholics have a wonderful relationship with the Virgin Mary. And most people who become Wiccans have a wonderful relationship with The Goddess (more convincing than any alleged relationship with the so-called Christ). And I know a whole bunch of Satanists who -- never mind!

A friend of mine described an occult exercise that he did for several years: he would find some deity that he's read about in mythology and try to invoke that god or goddess. Then, as soon as that deity "appeared" to him, he'd immediately find some other deity to invoke. He did this (I think) to several dozen deities before he got tired of it -- and each one of them appeared (or so he says -- but he doesn't believe the deities actually exist, it's just an experiment that he picked up from Crowley). But he eventually outgrew this "phase" just like I outgrew my stuffed puppy.

This shows only that some people will fall for anything.

Trick question: You must first show that "somebody" put us here before you can ask this one.

Trick question: You must first show that the universe and humankind were created and that they are not natural to the environment before you can ask who did the creating.

Who taught you the ethic of honesty?

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In the first century of the Common Era, there appeared at the eastern end of the Mediterranean a remarkable religious leader who taught the worship of one true God and declared that religion meant not the sacrifice of beasts but the practice of charity and piety and the shunning of hatred and enmity. He was said to have worked miracles of goodness, casting out demons, healing the sick, raising the dead. His exemplary life led some of his followers to claim he was a son of God, though he called himself the son of a man. Accused of sedition against Rome, he was arrested. After his death, his disciples claimed he had risen from the dead, appeared to them alive, and then ascended to heaven. Who was this teacher and wonder-worker? His name was Apollonius of Tyana; he died about 98 A.D., and his story may be read in Flavius Philostratus's Life of Apollonius.
     -- from Randall Helms, Gospel Fictions, p. 9


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With Jesus, as with Apollonius, all we have to go on are the Gospel accounts, admittedly biased political tracts, copied one from the other with minor modifications to account for doctrinal differences amongst the three or four Jesus sects that existed at the time. These accounts appeared at least 40 years after Jesus is alleged to have died. We don't have any independent contemporary mention of a historical Jesus, and we don't even have any Christian corroboration of the story before the fall of Jerusalem -- when Jesus's original followers (if he even existed) were likely slaughtered with all the other inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Paul, who probably invented the Christian religion as we know it today, says nothing about Jesus except that he was crucified sometime in the past and that he was a god -- just like all the other Pagan gods and goddesses -- except that Paul had a hallucination one day while the sun beat down upon his head, and Paul henceforth thought that his god was really real.

One sect, the Ebionites, claimed to have been the direct philosophical descendent of the Jerusalem sect, and they taught that Jesus was just a man and that Paul was a charlatan and an opportunist who transformed the historical figure of Jesus into a Pagan god.

Also, like Jesus and Apollonius, everybody who was anybody (from the great scientist Pythagoras to the great Caesars) was born of a virgin and was raised from the dead. If you weren't born of a virgin in those days, you were a nobody.

Another trick question. You must first show that miracles have occurred, and that they are not mere trickery or perhaps natural phenomenon that cannot be explained right now because we don't know everything about science yet. So, if you can show that something along these lines actually happened (and we're not just dealing with a Benny Hinn or a Peter Popoff), then you must show that what happened cannot be explained by any known or unknown laws of physics.

And for you to cover the unknown laws of physics part would impress me much more than had you been able to show that an actual suspension of natural laws had occurred.

It depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If what you want to do is make the subjects of your kingdom placid and to prevent them from rising up and demanding justice, then you do well to encourage that they pray.

I constantly prayed for my grandfather to be relieved of his excruciating pain, and now take as much pain medication as he did when he was alive. He died 20 years earlier than he should have because the pain wore him out. The pain began the very year he retired.

The parishioners of Lake Oswego (Oregon) Baptist Church, whose kids who were molested and raped by Timothy Andrew Park, the teen-aged baby sitter from the Church, surely prayed for the safety of their children.

Leona and Larry Cottam of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, surely prayed night and day, but their child starved to death because they'd set their food money aside as a tithe to the church.

DeWitt Finley wrote in his diary that God would provide, so he remained in his broken truck in sub-freezing weather in the Klamath (Oregon) Mountains until he died of starvation. Teenagers found his body the next spring, only a few hundred yards from the main road.

Michael Beaudin, a member of the Rose and Cross sect, surely prayed for his son, but came to the conclusion that his son needed to be ritually "purified." So he repeatedly administered enemas with over 400 times the recommended dosage of water, killing the boy.

Awilda Lopez surely prayed for her daughter, Alisa Izquierdo, who Awilda felt sure was possessed by Satan -- but to no avail. So Awilda took matters into her own hands and tortured the little girl to death. Alisa's body displayed a roadmap of pain so frightful that paramedics who tried to revive her needed counseling. Perhaps the paramedics also suffered from the delusion that prayer works.

Does prayer numb people's thinking? Almost as effectively as "speaking in tongues" or chanting the Transcendental Meditation mantra. Does it do any good? Absolutely not!

Ah! There's your problem! You err in supposing that anybody has all the answers to anything! And if you are telling people that atheists have all the answers -- or even think that we have all the answers -- you are lying about people who have done you no harm.

The difference between an atheist and a theist is that the atheist does not write the word "God" into the answer blank to any of life's questions. They are questions, and we may or may not find the answers, but history has shown that, from lightning bolts to mental illness, uttering the word "God" has always been the wrong answer to all of the questions for which we have found answers. In fact, "God" has such a dismal track record that I'd prefer saying "I don't know" even if I strongly suspected that there was a god.

Have a nice life. As far as we can tell, it's the only one we get. When yours is over, don't let anybody say that you spent yours making life unnecessarily miserable for a class of people who did you no harm. If you say anything about atheists as a class, be sure that what you say is the truth about each and every member of this group of people. Because there's nothing wrong with saying, "I don't know: I'm the wrong person to ask about this matter."

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

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: PA-via_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Sunday, April 01, 2001 11:11 PM

Au contraire! I do not try to convince anybody that there isn't a god. I merely showed you why I wouldn't go along with your stated belief -- why the reasons that you gave me don't cut it with me. Had you given me different reasons, I would have addressed those reasons on their own merits. And had you given me reasons that I would consider valid, I would have converted to theism. I do not try to convince others that no gods exist, but I will tell people who try to convince me that gods do exist why their arguments don't earn my assent.

The reasons you gave me are exceedingly lame, though, and I strongly denounce whoever taught you to repeat those reasons to others in trying to show that a god exists. Also, the god you described isn't worthy of being worshipped as a god, but more resembles a monster than anything else. If that god really exists, we're all in very big trouble.

There is valid religion, in my opinion, and that religion is always privately held and always leaves others to find their own path.

And there are very strong reasons for believing that gods exist; however, these reasons are well-thought-out and show a respect for truthfulness (the sense of truthfulness which thinks it can show something to be true before going so far as to call it true).

If you intend to bring your expression of faith into the public arena, I suggest that you study the classic arguments rather than depending on the arguments found in those little comic book pamphlets.

We make fun of the idea of gods for the same reason people make fun of George Bush's ideas: they are absurd, but they nevertheless wield power over our lives. Humor is an extremely effective way to get people to think while at the same time disarming their hostilities against us.

The religions that cause the problems are the monotheistic religions, which foster exclusivism. Polytheistic and pantheistic religions, as well as most expressions of atheism, do not start bloody wars in an attempt to straighten the rest of us out; neither do they try to inflict their own ideas and policies upon the rest of us.

People have the right to hold private religious beliefs -- however absurd these may sound to the rest of us. It is when they try to persuade us to go along with those beliefs (evangelism), or worse, try to enact laws based upon those beliefs, that they overstep the bounds of private faith and earn the swift and stern condemnation that they deserve.

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

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