May God Have Mercy
On Your Soul
John Mixon

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From: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: John Kennedy
Subject: Re: In response to your website
Date: Thursday, September 23, 1999 6:06 PM
 

But that vindictive ogre-god Jesus did not stop at this: He allegedly promised that those who disagree with him would be sent straight to the Christian Hell, where a single individual will suffer more pain than has been endured by all the creatures who will have ever lived on this Earth put together. Jehovah "The Jealous God" only slaughtered people's bodies (or ordered them to be raped, etc.); Jesus, on the other hand, pursues people beyond the grave into eternity. What Jesus and his followers teach is reprehensible; I disrespect anybody who tells me that the Bible Jesus is a model for human morality.

We humans tend to allow for our gods those character traits that we would never tolerate in another human. If I can encourage anybody to "stumble" away from the destructiveness that is the Christian religion, then I will have accomplished much good during my brief existence.

If you think I should stop doing what I am doing, you need to explain what is wrong with what I do in terms that do not threaten me with physical violence. Physical threats are not a very good way to win an argument, and are certainly no way to discover the truth about a matter.

Cliff Walker, Publisher
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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From: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: John Kennedy
Subject: Re: Dialogue
Date: Thursday, September 23, 1999 9:07 PM
 

The doctrine of eternal punishment is firmly established in the New Testament (but entirely absent from the Hebrew Scriptures). Let's start with Mark 9, the passage immediately following the one you paraphrased for me (which I will repeat for continuity):

Luke 16 is particularly graphic in its description of Hell, and the text does not introduce this as a parable or a metaphor, but leaves us to understand that this is a literal description:

If earthly life is temporary, any pain we suffer is finite. Since Hell is depicted as eternal, lasting forever, then naturally a single individual would eventually endure more pain in Hell than the combined pain suffered by all beings that ever live -- human and animal -- while they lived on earth. In other words, if only one person was sent to Hell, that person would suffer more pain than all the pain suffered by all the fauna put together for the entire history of the planet.
 

Perhaps you could point out some cases where I have done this or where I have posted articles that are like this.
 

I said this once myself.

Facing up to what I eventually discovered was very painful.
 

I was a passionate and compassionate believer, working tirelessly to learn how to explain the basics and the mysteries to those who were seeking (what I then thought was) truth. I struggled with all the difficult passages, but missed the big picture. During this time I read the Hebrew Scriptures cover-to-cover twelve times. I read the New Testament over 50 times, and translated the books of Romans and II Timothy using a lexicon. It wasn't until I began studying church history and trying to defend the historicity of the New Testament books (particularly those attributed to Peter) that I began to crack.

There were other reasons involved, and had these studies come out differently, had the Bible remained unscathed by my critical eye, the other reasons would have been overpowered by the biblical argument. As it stands, the biblical problems merely underscored the other situations, giving me independent verification, from the Bible (if you will) of what I had seen with my own eyes.

Early on, I routinely let street preachers live in my home and regularly visited my friends who were still on drugs and tried to give them hope for a better way. (I still help people get off drugs; now I know how it's done, I know several techniques that will work with just about anybody and I can even explain how they work; before I had no clue and called it "faith.") I finally let a woman stay at my house so she could get on her feet, and the church excommunicated me for "the appearance of sin." (I guess you don't have to actually be guilty, you only have to be an object of their sick imaginations!) I once risked my life trying to calm down an acquaintance of mine (my cab driver; an atheist) who had flown into a rage after a drunk took pot shots at his children with a rifle. He was shot by the sheriffs a few days later.

Until then, I awoke at 4:00 A.M. every Sunday and traveled by taxi and then on three different bus systems to another town so I could volunteer at the church library. After the morning service, I hung around at places like Dairy Queen until the evening service because I lived too far away to justify going home and returning. Then I worked the church library and usually tried to hitchhike home (though seldom would any of the 4000 church members give me a ride: three or four per year, if that). Then, when the last bus went by, I jumped on it and reversed my route through three bus systems and a taxi. I did this for almost three years.

And the hours and hours I spent crying at the thought that people were going to live in Hell forever. I tried to see if the Bible could be interpreted in such a way that Hell was not literal torment forever, but I could not. Arguments such as those made by the Jehovah's Witnesses did not hold up to scrutiny if one is to base one's beliefs in what the Bible says.

Believe me: I know what it's like.
 

What I do is point out that religion is falsehood and that it is not good for you. You are not going to Heaven and I am not going to Hell.

There is a much better life. You seem to have discovered some of it in that you give of yourself to better your community and the world around you:

Just because I think Christianity and other religions are bad for you and destructive to society and to mankind, doesn't mean that I think Christians commit "the world's horrible deeds." To think this of me is unfair and erroneous.

When it comes to intrusive religions, I go for the throat every time. Certain Christians in America want you and I both to practice their very narrow brand of religion. They cannot persuade us through reason or argument, so they seek to enforce their religious views upon us through legislation. They seek to increase their power by funneling our tax money into their charitable organizations (so they can get the credit but not have to spend money out of their own already tax-exempt treasuries). They want you and I to pay for the indoctrination of youngsters with their religious dogma -- most of which fosters bigotry.

It is this activity that our magazine and website fights tirelessly to suppress. One way that we do this is to show religion to be the dangerous falsehood that it is. The most popular format for doing this is through our Letters section. This section accurately reflects the amounts of the various types of mail we get. I have posted material from Christians that I would call flattering to the Christian position. In the letter called "The Jesus-Chalk Hoax" I commend a certain Christian as a man after my own heart. Unfortunately, most mail we get from Christians reflects very poorly upon Christianity. We do not go out of our way to post the most unreasonable mail we get from Christians; such mail happens to be the vast majority of the mail we get. Most of our mail does not come from atheists -- our target audience -- but from Christians who speak to us in a condescending tone and who seek either to convert us to the Christian religion or simply to threaten us with Hell fire.

In contrast, you will not see much on this website written against Zen Buddhism, because this is a very unintrusive religion. Buddhists do not write to us trying to convince us to join them, and they are not enacting legislation to place a koan on the wall of each public schoolroom. They leave us alone and practice a private religion -- at least in America.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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