Following Jesus
Is The Only Answer
That Works
David Sims

Graphic Rule

From: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: Sims, David V LTC
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Tuesday, November 09, 1999 7:50 PM

What is involved in following a mythical character?

Also, can you verify that "following Jesus" works and that nothing else does?

What do you mean by "works"?

And what was the question?

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

Graphic Rule

Graphic Rule

From: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: Sims, David V LTC
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Wednesday, November 10, 1999 3:10 PM

These are simply statements and nothing more. I have asked you to make your case for me. I will ask you to back up your statements.

If you can do this, then you have the right to be respected for your work in trying to convert me. If you merely make a series of pronouncements, you deserve, at best, to be marginalized for your efforts and, at worst, to be scorned. While you are always entitled to your opinions, I am here talking about how respectable are your efforts to convert me, and how honorable is your act of even making these claims to me.

Abraham Lincoln, the only verifiably atheistic President of the United States, said: "It is an established maxim and moral that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false is guilty of falsehood, and the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify or excuse him." I agree with this statement, and have long said that somebody who makes bold, unqualified claims, but who cannot back those claims, is no better than a liar who willfully fabricates a story and presents it as truth.

I had asked:

You still need either to address this question of mine or to correct your earlier statement to this effect.
 

But I'm sure you will agree with me that the Jesus story has all the trappings of a myth, just like the Zeus, Venus, and Hercules myths do. How do we tell the difference if by all appearances they are, at best, fictional exaggerations and, at worst, outright fabrications with no basis in reality? How can we tell that what you are saying is true, that even though the Jesus story appears to be a myth, it is not, in fact, a myth but is true?

Also, please explain why so many elements of the Jesus story also appear in the Buddhist story, which predated the Jesus story by about 500 years? Remember that Buddhism had made a small impact in Palestine and the Mediterranean by the time Jesus is alleged to have lived, and that the Buddhist body of Scripture was available to those who developed the Jesus myth.

Please be aware that I am a life-long history buff, and that your answers must withstand the same criticism that any historical society would apply to any tale that is alleged to be true. If your answers cannot endure the criticism I give them, I have no business believing you.
 

Millions have seen him? This is a new one for me. You are the first person ever to tell me that "millions of people ... have seen" Jesus. You'll have to do much better than this, simply because this claim defies even the most conservative, loyalistic Christian arguments, that it would overthrow physics and history and almost everything else that humans agree that we know about reality -- and would even overthrow the claims of mainstream Christianity itself.

First, how do you know this is true? Do you have their names?

And do you know it was really Jesus that they saw? How can you eliminate the possibility that they were hallucinating, or lying, or deceived? Can you dispense with the likelihood that we are just hearing a fabricated account and that the people to which you refer would themselves dispute this claim? Is it not more reasonable to believe that two men would lie than that a woman would fly up through a chimney on a broom?

Meanwhile, millions of people believed the earth was flat, so what does the opinion of "millions of people" prove or disprove? I prefer to remain within a legitimate discussion of tangible, meaningful argument -- where we can examine each others' claims and subject them to the same criticism that any claim must endure.
 

Really!? What does he look like? What does his voice sound like? is it strong? deep? mild-mannered? effeminate? How tall is he? Does he still limp from the alleged nail wounds in his feet? How long does he keep his hair and his beard? Is he handsome, as the modern portrayals of him show, or is he pathetically ugly, as the ancient portrayals show? Is he light-skinned or dark-skinned? Could you sketch a picture of him for me?
 

I don't know what you mean, here; please explain.
 

I don't know what you mean by "empty."
 

So, what happened?

I mean, it's not any of my business, but perhaps we should talk. I am concerned, and I care.

It always grieves me to think that someone has so lost touch with their human emotions and human identity that they must flee reality and cling to a myth, that they must abandon their responsibility to humanity and to life itself and join an exclusionist group, that they so utterly fail to grasp the human emotion of love and compassion that they think they can only find it in a despotic phantom who defines love as obedience to his commandments and loyalty to his elite group.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

Graphic Rule

Graphic Rule

From: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: Sims, David V LTC
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Friday, November 12, 1999 1:48 PM

And you call me misinformed!? The motto "E PLURIBUS UNUM" was developed by Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, and remained our motto until the 1950s, when those terrorized by and terrified of Sen. Joseph McCarthy replaced it with "IN GOD WE TRUST." It was not on every coin and every bill until later in the 1950s. Before then, it was one of several slogans which appeared on this or that coin now and then. I have several pre-1950s bills and a small safe full of old silver coins, and was a coin collector as a little boy. I even remember when they changed the Pledge of Allegiance to include the words "under God" during the McCarthy era. In 1960, our teacher was still trying to get used to the change. I was born in time to be able to say, I didn't just read about it in the law books, I saw it with my own two eyes.

Meanwhile, "IN GOD WE TRUST" was, at one time, an anti-Lincoln slogan, meaning "in God we trust -- not this atheist Lincoln." Herndon, Lincoln's former law partner, called Lincoln an "infidel" and an "atheist." I read Herndon's biography of Lincoln again within the past year; he described Lincoln as having a policy of giving lip service to religion and the Bible because if you don't the Christians are ruthlessly unfair with you. All atheists in America know this. Mary Todd Lincoln said, "Mr. Lincoln was not a Christian." Upon the death of Willie Lincoln, Abraham told Judge Wakefield, "My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them."

Please study American history. Don't simply repeat a pronouncement simply because a preacher told it to you. In fact, since you made a pronouncement about the origins of the motto "IN GOD WE TRUST" without having checked the facts, Lincoln himself would probably call you a liar. Chiding an Illinois newspaper editor, he says: "It is an established maxim and moral that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false is guilty of falsehood, and the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify or excuse him."

You will need to be more honest if you wish to continue writing us. We are interested in spirited debate, but dishonesty and falsehood -- for the purpose of trying to make your case for the Christian religion -- is unacceptable on this forum.

And please don't call me "brother" for any reason -- especially in an attempt to be flippant. Only one person remaining has that right; please do not tarnish the memory of the only other person -- who never lived long enough to pronounce the word.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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