Wondering About
Strange Everyday Occurrences
Jill Lonergan

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Jill Lonergan"
Subject: Re: PA-via_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Friday, February 16, 2001 9:29 PM

You don't understand our objective because you reacted immediately upon reading the word atheism and did absolutely no investigation as to what atheism even is.

For you to characterize us as "saying no to God" is to presuppose the very question that we are asking: Can you give us valid reasons for believing that this "God" even exists? Without such valid reasons, we have no business believing the claims of theism -- we remain atheists.

An atheist is someone who has yet to encounter such valid reasons for assenting to the various god claims (about 5,000 different gods by one count -- the representatives of each one claiming that theirs is a valid claim and that the other god claims are invalid, but none providing valid reasons to believe they are even telling the truth). Some atheists reject the very idea of gods and the supernatural because we think that idea makes no sense or is self-contradictory or goes against everything we have observed. Others of us reject specific god claims as falsehood (for example, I can show that the Christian claim is a flat-out lie -- ditto for Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, and many other claims I have investigated). However, all atheists have one thing in common: we lack a god belief. For you to say that we "say no to God" is pure slander -- unless you are willing to show that we do, in fact, secretly "acknowledge" the "truthfulness" of your particular god claim.
 

This is a popular slander of atheists and agnostics that is broadcast from pulpits across the land every Sunday. It is completely groundless and ignores the facts: (1) most humans have purpose in their lives regardless of their beliefs about gods and most theists have purpose in their lives independent of their beliefs about gods; (2) religion cannot claim anything in this respect that cannot be had without religion; (3) many religious values are detrimental (such as the Christian idea that only Christians know what morality is or that only Christians have purpose in their lives -- not to mention the biblical commandments to subjugate women or to commit genocide?).

Meanwhile, what do you mean by "complete anarchy"? Where does your sense of morality come from? Before you converted, did you have absolutely no morals whatsoever? I doubt that! Even the most die-hard problem drinker, whose wife has given him The Big Ultimatum, will exercise enough control to sneak down to the basement to grab a swig -- that "alcoholic" is exercising control and making decisions, and is (hopefully) willing to live with the potential consequences of his actions.

Where does your sense of morality come from? the Bible? If so, do you obey the commandments to commit genocide? to subjugate women? to practice human slavery? to kill witches? to kill homosexuals? to kill adulterers? to kill rebellious children? to kill any bride found not to be a virgin? If not, why not? who determines which "laws" are to be obeyed and which ones do not pertain to us? Is this not human thinking which determines which "laws" pertain to us?

Also, where does your "Word of God" come from? can you prove -- conclusively -- that it is not the work of humans to begin with? If you cannot do this -- conclusively -- then who is to say that the writers of these ancient scrolls knew better how you should live your life than you do?
 

The new converts are usually the most adamantly dogmatic in their views: they have not had much time to test the claims made by the Christian religion and usually have never bothered to study either the history of the Church (from both sides -- the "official" version versus those of us who claim that the "official" version is a lie). Neither have they bothered to examine the even the common criticism launched against the claims of the Christian Church. The closer you get to the Seminary, the higher the per-capita population of agnostics and atheists.
 

Of course. Faith is the only way to justify believing the way you do: it does not pass the test of reason and certainly does not pass the test of truthfulness. So, you must posit this thing called "faith."

My question remains: Can you give us valid reasons for believing that this "God" even exists?

If you cannot do this, then I suggest that your faith remain private, that you refrain from entering into the public discussion in an attempt to convince others to go along with your claims.
 

I have a profound sense of purpose in my life, and I'm sure that almost all humans have similar feelings toward their own lives.
 

The evidence makes a very strong case that this is what happened. The two alternate hypotheses, that we were created by one or more of over 5,000 gods, goddesses, and their consorts (creationism), or that the universe has always existed and that life on Earth is a biological testing ground for an alien species (Raëlianism; Timothy Leary's "Starseed") simply don't hold water: they are not very convincing claims and do not withstand any amount of scrutiny.

That does not prove evolution (there could be a fourth model that has yet to be discovered), but all the evidence points toward evolution through natural selection and all the claims of the theists and the Raëlians come up extremely short on making a convincing case. As for the Raëlians, their model does not explain where the alien species came from. The Genesis creationist model is full of contradictions:

Did God create the fowl from the ground (Gen. 2:19) or from the waters (Gen. 1:20)?

Did God make the beast first (Gen. 1:25) and then man (Gen 1:27, 1:31) or did he make man first (Gen. 2:7) and later the beast (Gen. 2:19)?

Was the earth first covered with water with land appearing later (Gen. 1:2, 1:9-10) or was the earth dry land first with water later appearing (Gen. 2:4-6)?

Did God create man in his own image (Gen. 1:27) or did man later "become as one of us" -- as one of the gods (Gen 3:5, 3:22)? And which one of the gods did man "become as one of"?

Did God divide the light from the darkness on the first day (Gen. 1:4-5) or on the fourth day (Gen. 1:14-16, 19)?

Such questions need to be answered, as well as questions relating to the age of the earth and other demonstrations showing the universe as having needed no energy in order to begin (since it contains a total of approximately zero energy today and since its initial stages were not order but almost pure chaos).

Meanwhile, if you are able to demonstrate that the theory of evolution through natural selection is false, I am willing to reject it. If you are able to show an alternate theory to be true, I am willing to embrace it. The two are not connected, though; to show evolution to be false is not to show biblical creationism to be true.
 

No. The concept of "strange everyday occurrences" is an oxymoron: if they're strange, they're not everyday occurrences, but strange occurrences.
 

Lots of things have yet to be explained by science, and everything science currently says is subject to being overturned by new evidence.

Meanwhile, give me some examples of what you're talking about. This talk is all very vague -- such as what one might hear from a pulpit. If you can ask me some specific questions, I can do my best to address them or to show the questions to be flawed.
 

This is a trick question because it calls "unexplainable" something that has perfectly valid explanations -- and then asks me to explain it.
 

Why would a Christian, who has been instructed to love a god (at the threat of hell-fire), even bother with human emotion? If it means your eternity, you'd do well to drop anything and everything that might get in the way of your salvation -- such as the natural emotions common to all humans.
 

The only fight you'll get from us is if you slander us by representing as our position something it is not our position, or by seeking through legislation to inflict upon the rest of us policies which are unique to your religion (school prayer; Ten Commandments posting on public buildings; Sunday laws), or by expecting us to support your religion financially through taxation (the faith-based partnerships of President Bush) or via tax exemption of organized religion (which forces the rest of us to pay more for services such as police and firefighting, as well as boondoggles such as faith-based partnerships).

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

Graphic Rule

Material by Cliff Walker (including unsigned editorial commentary) is copyright ©1995-2006 by Cliff Walker. Each submission is copyrighted by its writer, who retains control of the work except that by submitting it to Positive Atheism, permission has been granted to use the material or an edited version: (1) on the Positive Atheism web site; (2) in Positive Atheism Magazine; (3) in subsequent works controlled by Cliff Walker or Positive Atheism Magazine (including published or posted compilations). Excerpts not exceeding 500 words are allowed provided the proper copyright notice is affixed. Other use requires permission; Positive Atheism will work to protect the rights of all who submit their writings to us.