Claim Against
'Atheist Rhetoric'
Challenged
Report from Cliff Walker

We visited a website called Doubters Dot Net -- registered domain and all -- apparently operated by Darren Weeks. It didn't take us long to find what appeared to be gratuitous slander against atheists and other secularists. "That is the purpose of Doubters Dot Net. It is to shine the light of truth -- to cut through the clutter of secular humanism, atheism, and agnosticism, revealing the folly of their rhetoric."

We spent almost a half hour looking for actual examples of "atheist rhetoric" -- actual quotes -- and arguments against those athetists' statements. Though we searched for clues like quotation marks, paragraph indentations, and reference notes, we found no actual quotes from atheists.

What we found was yet another example of that pesky old form of slander, the Straw-Man Fallacy. This fallacy paints a false, easily refuted picture of the opponent's views, and then refutes the false picture -- rather than addressing the opponent's actual views.

Considering that he also says, "Generally speaking, the atheists and agnostics with whom I have spoken refuse to accept any ideas with an open mind," we began the following discussion with the WebMaster at Doubters Dot Net, in the hope of addressing just one example of a website dedicated entirely to slander against atheists.

From: "Positive Atheism"
To: Doubters Dot Net <mail@doubters.net>
Subject: the folly of their rhetoric
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 1999 08:11:28-0700

We found the following claim on your website:

"That is the purpose of Doubters Dot Net. It is to shine the light of truth -- to cut through the clutter of secular humanism, atheism, and agnosticism, revealing the folly of their rhetoric."

What rhetoric? Give us some examples, some real examples, and explain how this is folly.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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From: "Positive Atheism"
To: "Darren Weeks" <mail@doubters.net>
Subject: Re: the folly of their rhetoric (fwd)
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 1999 15:27:50-0700

You apparently did not even read my question. Try again. The question is very clear.

What you described are assumptions on your part.

Please give me some actual examples of "atheist rhetoric" (as you put it) and then explain to us how these actual examples of "atheist rhetoric" constitute "folly" (as you put it). By actual example, I mean actual quotes from atheists that are representative of what prominent atheists say. In other words, no fair quoting from Matthew Hale or someone like that, who is far from representative of what atheists usually say.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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From: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: Darren Weeks <mail@doubters.net>
Subject: Re: Rhetoric versus Beliefs
Date: Tuesday, July 20, 1999 9:31 PM

So, then, we can conclude that ... the "atheist rhetoric," which you called "folly," is simply what your imagination thinks atheists say and not what atheists have actually said.

This is what we thought from the beginning.
 

Neither. I own and publish "Positive Atheism" magazine.

Positive Atheism, as we use the term, comes from India, and is based upon a secularized version of Mohandsas K Gandhi's philosophy of Satyagraha -- which teaches us to insist on the right to insist upon truthfulness in all transactions. Self-consistency is the key, here.

Since atheism, by its nature, calls theism falsehood, it naturally follows that an atheist would have a certain respect for truthfulness. This is why we decided to give you an opportunity to come up with some actual examples of what you call "atheist rhetoric" and an opportunity to demonstrate that these examples are in fact folly before we went ahead and called you a liar.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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