Need Help:
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With Missionary
Fred Nojd

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Fred Nojd"
Subject: Re: an atheist who needs some help in an email debate with a missionary
Date: Monday, April 03, 2000 2:05 PM

It sounds like you may have allowed them to divert attention from the fact that they have no strong arguments in their favor, and must resort to the pragmatic angle.

First, is believing a lie good for you -- no matter what the result? George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Irish-born British playwright and a founder of the Fabian Society, said: "The fact that a believer is happier than a sceptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality" (Preface to "Androcles and the Lion").

Secondly, read the essay "Atheism" by Joseph Lewis (on our website under Historical, Joseph Lewis) and then read some Robert Green Ingersoll: "Declaration of the Free"; "The Liberty of Man, Woman and Child"; "What Infidels Have Done"; "What Would you Substitute for the Bible as a Moral Guide?" (also on our website). Go through our "Quotes" section and start with George Eliot -- but go through every file and look for quotes from people whose lives are vastly superior because of their atheism. (Many of these quotes have been taken from material posted elsewhere on our website.)

Thirdly, let's assume, for a moment, the statement "Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Mt. 7:16). What are the fruits of organized Christianity? More genocide, the Dark Ages, the Inquisition, the Witch Hunts, the Auto Da Fé, the need for a Reformation, more post-Reformation genocide and burnings at the stake at the hands of Protestants, the Salem Witch Trials, the suppression of science (to this day), social repression (to this day), the suppression of free inquiry (to this day), sexual repression (to this day), moves to abolish birth control and delivery-room anasthesia, the arrogance of the move to post the Protestant Ten Commandments in public venues in America -- all because the arguments for their religion cannot stand on thier own merits, so their force it upon us. And I could go on and on.
 

Finally, ask what is the nature of the "morality" that religion espouses. Is morality from God? That is, is morality simply what God favors? If so, then what protects us from following the false morality of a god who tells us that it is the right thing to dash children against the stones (Ps. 137:9) or sacrifice virgins (Num. 31:40) or commit ritual genocide (Dt. 3:1-7; Num. 31:1-18; 28-47) or commit ritual mutilation (Gen. 17:9-14) or burn unbelievers (John 15:6; Rev. 17:18) or eat bread defiled with human dung (Ezek. 4:12-15)?

On the other hand, if morality is separate from God, and is something that God himself is subject to, then why do we need God to find out what morality is? If morality simply is, and is not necessarily what God has decided is good, then we should be able to discover right from wrong on our own. This dilemma is described in detail in the new book "What Is Atheism" by Douglas E. Krueger (Prometheus: about $17.00).

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Fred Nojd"
Subject: Re: an atheist who needs some help in an email debate with a missionary
Date: Tuesday, April 04, 2000 3:58 AM

Most of them won't, this is why I refuse to engage with a theist unless I have an audience who will benefit from the discussion -- or unless the theist agrees to renounce his or her faith should he or she fail to demonstrate his or her claim (I correspondingly agree to convert should the theist make a compelling case for the existence of a particular god).

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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