And The Atheists
Shall Inherit The Earth
From: "tC Watson"
To: Positive Atheism <email@example.com>
Subject: And the atheists shall inherit the earth...:)
Date: Friday, May 12, 2000 1:32 AM
First off: excellent magazine! This is one of the best general resources for atheism I've found so far; of course, there a lot of others, but they are usually devoted solely to creationism vs. evolutionism, or Biblical contradictions. Since I am not concerned specifically with these issues -- I consider them secondary, since an atheist qua atheist doesn't have to have any opinion on either the Bible or evolution.
Also, your detailed correspondence with the "loving Christian" was interesting, and I was impressed with your ability to dismantle arguments. I often argue in religion chatrooms on Yahoo! and I envy the skill with which you reduce fallicious arguments to so much dogmatic rubble, lol.
Ok, enough compliments.
Essentially, I would like to know if you have any tips (books to read, exercises, etc) that would help one become a more effective warrior against the sinister ravages of theism. If I am being overly-dramatic, there is a reason: I consider religion, at least in the way it is practiced now, to be a destructive force, one that must be opposed. And it is not hard to oppose it if one is dealing with the run-of-the-mill fundamentalist; apologists are a little more difficult, however.
Anyway, any advice you have, whether on directly arguing theism, or on critical thinking in general, would be appreciated, but if you don't have time, I understand. Bye for now :)
From: "Positive Atheism" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "tC Watson"
Subject: Re: And the atheists shall inherit the earth...:)
Date: Saturday, May 13, 2000 10:33 PM
I would start with "Atheism: The Case Against God" by George Smith. It lays down the basic issues in the first chapter (which I have posted online). This book changed my entire outlook on atheism and on defending the atheistic position.
After that, you might be able to handle "Nonbelief and Evil" by Theodore Drange. Understand that this book is highly self-referential: you have to bookmark several pages and understand the shorthand that continues throughtout the book. This book also changed my entire outlook on atheism and on defending the atheistic position, bringing me to a level beyond where Smith brought me. However, I needed Smith to be able to get the most out of this book.
Between the two, you should be able to present atheism not as a positive argument but as the default position. By this I mean that it is the theists who are presenting the argument (that a god exists), not the atheists (who simply don't buy the claim that a god exists). Since they are the ones making the existential claim, it is their responsibility to make the case for their claim.
With these elements of reasonableness in your quiver, you may want to memorize the arguments in Douglas E. Krueger's 1999 book, "What Is Atheism?: A Short Introduction." These arguments, as presented in Krueger's book, lack the tactfulness of Smith's book, and the necessary hesitancy of Drange's book (in that they are presented dogmatically), but they are powerful nonetheless.
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
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