Still Only A Religious
'War Of Words'
Congratulations on your discovery of a kindred "soulmate." May your happiness far exceed any "rapture" experienced by the faithful.
I have been devoting most of my online time giving the fundamentalist Christians in the religious forum of SeniorNet a lesson in knowledge, logic and reason. Thanks to your web page and some knowledgeable fellow non believers, the fundies are in a real dither and are starting to call us names. When that occurs one knows they have no response worth posting other than their Biblical quotes. Fortunately it is still only a religious "war of words."
The computer is mightier than the pen and sword
From: "Positive Atheism" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Ray Franz"
Subject: Re: PAM
Date: Tuesday, May 23, 2000 8:27 PM
We normally refuse to post letters that contain slurs such as "fundies" but this topic is important, so we will post your letter with this clarification.
Many theists (and recently, many atheists) suffer from the delusion that the question over the existence of gods is important. The truth is that this is one of the most unimportant questions to which we could possibly dedicate our time and energy. Unfortunately, many people tend to act as if it is important, and the result has brought much misery to the world. Thus my motive for establishing "Positive Atheism Magazine."
Yes. When they resort to name-calling and mud-slinging, we have not made our point. We must regroup and try something different.
Our material is posted for personal edification (so that readers can determine for themselves what they do or do not think about various things), and we do not recommend engaging with theists for any reasons except: (1) as a response to them after they have made claims or other intrusions, or (2) in the spirit of cooperation toward a common goal (such as the recent Baptist/Humanist and Mormon/Humanist dialogues sponsored by Paul Kurtz). Apart from these things, theists are our fellow humans, and "Positive Atheism" strongly urges all atheists to treat theists with the same dignity one would grant to any fellow human.
Remember, theists and atheists tend to agree on the most important life matters, disagreeing primarily on whether gods exist (a very unimportant matter, indeed). Unfortunately, the more dogmatic theists teach one another that the existential questions about gods are crucial, warranting action ranging from bigotry to outright persecution and even brutal executions. Some atheists have recently begun to make this same mistake.
If we can create strong bonds over the issues on which we agree, then we are less likely to become victims of this bigorty and persecution, because we have already established ourselves as strong members of our communities.
Since you mentioned new girlfriend Pam, I will use her as an example: She is a theist (more along the lines of a Deist, but a theist nonetheless). The fact is that our likes and similarities revolve around much more important questions than whether a god or gods exist. The theism-atheism question is way down the list to the point of being unworthy of our time. Sure, we joke about it at times, and we do express (and even delight in) our differences, but it would never come close to becomming important enough to endanger the love we have for one another -- which is based mostly on taste and ethics and values and -- most of all -- the mutual attraction that comes from having endured similar difficulties in life. I will state categorically that I have never met a woman who thinks more like I do than Pam does. Nevertheless, she is a theist and I am an atheist. Go figure? No. The theism-atheism issue means very little to either of us.
Pam is not the first one. Several years ago, Jeanne, my highschool sweetheart, tracked me down and contacted me. We eventually decided that we love one another, and had planned to marry as soon as her divorce was final (she was going to divorce him anyway; this had nothing to do with me). Meanwhile, Jeanne was a fundamentalist Christian of the type who believed that the Jonah and the Whale story was literal history -- that it actually happened. No. We had so much more in common (so much more of the important things) that the Christianity-atheism question was way down on the list. When it ended, I wrote the following poem:
She was the very best of friends
(Exquisite taste in minds and mens!)
Sad brown eyes and pouting lips
A tasty fullness 'round her hips
The gifts she gave to me each day
The sweet sound of her voice so gay
Her secret hope to me she told
That we, together, might grow old
Old Mexico where we did meet
When we were seventeen, so sweet
We grew up and our ways did part
This left a gash upon my heart
Tough times had we, and wou'nt you know?
Down sim'lar roads we each did go
And had hard luck, then moved away
To get a grip and seize the day
In one score years I got a call
From her, and in love we did fall
When I confessed to her my doubt
Assured me, she, we'd work it out
But from her mouth came strange, dark tales
Of Noah's ark and Jonah's whales
And Jesus walking on the drink
Such chatter oft' made me turn pink
The talk of angels seem'd so odd
And Yahweh, the volcano god
Embarrassed? Me? To say the least!
But still that did not spoil the feast
I've never been a bigot, once
And never called someone a dunce
For what you think means naught to me
'Tis what you do -- that's all I see
And for her talk I cut much slack
Like water off a duckling's back
Instead, I strove to be her friend
And chose to be there 'til the end
I set my plans and told to all
That I would answer to her call
And move away to be her man
And be the best one that I can
But suddenly, she said goodbye
Lacking candor as to why
'T seems she leads the men astray
And them she'll later toss away
"Available soon!" -- her mating call
And other men for her shall fall
I still don't see how someone can
Do evil to their fellowman
I should have seen it on the wall
But I, you see, can't know it all
My mind is all I have to tell
What's clean and true or what doth smell
So now, I'll let the healing work
And spend time watching Captain Kirk
And at the Karaoke bar
The lyrics to the songs I'll mar
And one day soon "that look" I'll see
And feel "that feeling" inside me
And trust once more -- not that I'll know --
'Cause actions, nothing more, doth show
Though the difference of opinion regarding the existence of gods was, at times, stressful, the relationship was marred by something much more important: her lack of integrity.
Time and time again I see atheists "lowering themselves" (so to speak) to the behavior that we would expect from dogmatic people. Atheism is not a dogma, but the simply lack of belief: they make the caims and we can either accept them if we find them convincing, or cintinue our openmindedness if we are not convinced by those claims.
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
From: "Ray Franz"
To: "Positive Atheism" <email@example.com>
Date: Wednesday, May 24, 2000 5:02 PM
Thanks for your reply. It once more put me on the right track in dealing with the fundamentalist Christians and the religious right who seem to create the biggest problem.
I am returning to my original posture of promoting knowledge and the concept of freedom of belief, of which non belief is part and parcel. That is what originally brought me to those forums, but I got testy after all the threats and bad mouthing that I endured.
I am back on an even keel and in the Positive Atheism mode.
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.