Backlash from

The Fig Tree Enigma

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To: R&E SysOp
From: Cliff Walker

Please tell me why my file, "The Fig Tree Enigma" was never placed in the Atheism Library.

I did not violate any copyright, as all wording, except the Bible quotes, are mine; I did not copy any of this from Hyam Maccoby's book which was mentioned in the article. Maccoby merely mentions the Fig Tree point in passing to bolster an entirely different argument. Here, I take the point and run with it.

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From: R&E SysOp
To: Cliff Walker

The file was released to the Interfaith Library since it was about Jesus which certainly is not an Atheist subject.

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From: Cliff Walker
To: R&E SysOp

The R&E SysOp said: The file was released to the Interfaith Library since it was about Jesus which certainly is not an Atheist subject.

I am relatively new to online services; please forgive me if I am not familiar with the workings of the political machinery here.

As an active and vocal atheist, I am interested in exchanging viewpoints with other members of this minority -- especially opinions and findings regarding the beliefs and claims of those who hold the dominant viewpoint -- Christianity.

My article, "The Fig Tree Enigma," reflects on the findings of Jewish scholar Hyam Maccoby (a world-renowned specialist in the New Testament origins of historic and modern anti-Semitism) and expounds on their significance to members of the atheistic community. We atheists (and others) find ourselves constantly bombarded with pressure from the vocal Christian majority to acknowledge, dignify, and even join their religion. Much of their attempted influence is designed to reach deep within our emotional centers, attempting to bypass one's ability to reason or to apply critical thought to counter Christians' persuasion. Therefore, any perspective that will help us reach a more accurate and informed position -- in our own minds and in our discussions with Christians and others -- is most certainly is an atheist subject.

I did not intend for my article to be released to the Interfaith Library. I uploaded it to the Atheist Library because it is a perspective on the atheistic view of our culture's most popular and prevalent myth: the Jesus myth. My article is not about Jesus -- it is about flaws in the official textbook most commonly referred to by proponents of the Jesus myth. "The Fig Tree Enigma" was written for an audience of atheists, agnostics, skeptics, humanists, and freethinkers. I do not think faithful Christians will find it very funny.

Please reconsider my initial request that it be uploaded to the Atheism Library, where it belongs. (I should know where it belongs, I spent several hours writing it!) If you also want to leave it on the Interfaith Library, you now have my permission.

Sincerely,

Cliff Walker
Member: Board of Directors
Center for Rational Thought -- Atheist Community Center
415 SW 13th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97205

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From: R&E SysOp
To: Cliff Walker

Cliff Walker said: "The Fig Tree Enigma" was written for an audience of atheists, agnostics, skeptics, humanists, and freethinkers. I do not think faithful Christians will find it very funny.

I have re-read the file and my decision stands. While the above paragraph may be true, it is also true that the file is "about" Jesus, Christianity etc. and therefore is an "interfaith" topic and while Christians may not find it funny, they certainly may want to debate it. This could end up filling the Atheism library with a lot of Christian vs Atheism files that do not belong.

R&E SysOp

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From: Cliff Walker
To: R&E SysOp

The R&E SysOp said: it is also true that the file is "about" Jesus

Sir,

No. The atricle is not "about" Jesus, it is about "Jesus" <g>. There is a big difference. You presuppose the existence and deity of Jesus; I speak, from an atheistic viewpoint, of the Jesus myth.

Almost all opinions we atheists hold (while acting as atheists) are about religion -- usually the dominant religion. We don't want our kids to pray to this or that god (or "God" or "Him") in our public schools or in Little League or anywhere else that the dominant religion forces itself upon us. We don't want mention of "God" on our nation's coins or currency; we do not want alcohol abusers and offenders to be sentenced by our judges to worship "God" or "Him" in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings ... and the list goes on.

And on, and on, and on.

From the perspective of a religious person (especially a person who practices the majority religion) these intrusions usually go unnoticed -- because they are not intrusions. But from the perspective of an atheist, these intrusions constitute major disruptions to our lives. How would you feel if the whole world shut down on Friday instead of Sunday. You would spend a perfectly good day doing nothing, and you would need to get special permission to take Sunday off. How would you like it if your city paid a full-time salary to a mullah or an ayatollah to "minister" as a Chaplain to the Police Force?

Almost everything an organized atheist does and says, as an organized atheist, is to comment on the intrusions we suffer at the hands of the powerful religious zealots. Some of these intrusions are indirect, like the slogan on our money or like having a Christian control the Atheism Forum on this online service. However, many of these intrusions are direct: religious people, usually Christians, approach us and try to convert us to their point of view. Many Christians are very good at what they do, and most of them are not entirely honest in the claims they make about their religion.

It is these direct intrusions that are the focus of the article "The Fig Tree Enigma." We atheists need to be well-informed on issues raised by the Christians who endeavor to proselytize us. One such issue is the claim that the Bible is infallible -- that it contains no errors. As you well know, there are a couple of folders in the Atheism Forum dedicated to the Bible. Atheists (and other non-Christians) are interested in this claim of infallibility and we discuss it among ourselves often.

Please reconsider your decision to ban my article, "The Fig Tree Enigma" from the Atheism Library. I wrote it for the Atheism Library for a reason, and I submitted it to the Atheism Library because I think that is where it belongs. I wrote it for atheists, want other atheists to read it, and do not care if anyone else reads it. I do not think it belongs in the Interfaith Library because, as an atheist, faith has not part of my life (as long as I can help it). Unlike many Christians, atheists are not out to convert people. As an atheist, I am not trying to tell Christians anything, and have only discussed the subject of the fig tree enigma with two Christians in the past ten years (before this unfortunate experience on the online service). In other words, with "The Fig Tree Enigma" I am (pardon the metaphor) preaching to the choir.

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From: Jerry Billings
To: Cliff Walker

Read your letter and downloaded your file and read it, too. Both were well done. Don't expect any slack from the R&E SysOp. He is a born again and makes no bones about it. Several of those who are active in Bible Contradictions have written to the online service management objecting about the R&E SysOp. It is too obvious for comment that allowing a fundamentalist Christian control over an Atheist board is not right. He has been known to delete messages which he finds offensive although there are no clear standards for such censorship. Maybe, if enough people object, we can get some action.

I suggest that you e-mail a copy of your letter and addendum to a really aggressive Atheist whose name is K. He is ... an excellent writer on bible contradictions. You may use my name as an introduction but you do not need to do that.

Jerry Billings

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From: K.
To: Cliff Walker
CC: Jerry Billings

The R&E SysOp is a disingenuous critter. Three years ago we atheists got together and petitioned for an Atheist Forum, and it was only formed in spite of months of the kicking and screaming of R&E SysOp, who kept asking, "What are you atheists going to talk about?"

The R&E SysOp can't seem to understand that atheists exist only as a reaction to the bogus claims of theists. They must discuss theistic subjects like the frauds of Jesus, Yahweh, souls, heaven, hell, sin and forgiveness (and other mental pathologies as well).

Recently, the R&E SysOp deleted several well attended folders on the Atheist Forum since he couldn't see them belonging there for the same idiotic reasoning.

I complained, and I'm convinced he lied when he said he "inadvertently" lost the one I missed.

He's a jerk.

Sincerely, K

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From: Cliff Walker
To: Online Service Management

Hello,

I have a serious complaint against the leader of the Religion and Ethics Forum. From what I've heard from several regulars on the Atheism Forum, I am not alone in my feelings.

I wrote an article called "The Fig Tree Enigma" and uploaded it to the Atheism Library (Religion & Ethics). They never posted the file, so after some research, I found out that they moved it to the Interfaith (Christianity?) Library without my permission and without notifying me that they had done so. (It is in the Interfaith Library if you want to read it.)

I wrote to the forum SysOp and asked why, and he said that the article is about Jesus and thus belongs in a Christianity setting.

Excuse me. The article is about the Jesus myth and never once presupposes that a Palestinian named Jesus ever existed as a historical figure. The article is very atheistic and is intended for atheists as readers. It has nothing to say to or about Christians.

I am very offended that he would (1) move the article without notifying me and (2) move the article without my permission and (3) refuse a second request (and requests by others) to place it in the Atheism Library where it belongs.

It is evident that the Atheism Forum is controlled by a fundamentalist Christian and we think it is not a good idea to have a Christian run the Atheism Forum. Many of us have lodged complaints against this guy; here is one more.

I wrote "The Fig Tree Enigma" especially for the Atheism Library in response to several postings in the Bible Study folder of the Atheism Forum. This folder contains mostly trite or commonly known Bible "contradictions"[*] and does not contain any heavy stuff -- like "The Fig Tree Enigma" and other arguments I would like to post if I could trust that they would end up where I send them.

If you cannot place my article in the Atheism Library where I intended it to go (where my friends, associates, and colleagues exchange ideas) please do not use my article anywhere. I write for, and associate with, Atheists -- not Christians or anybody having anything to do with faith. I have nothing to say to the Interfaith Forum and did not spend several hours composing an article for the benefit or edification of the faithful.

Sincerely,

Cliff Walker

*NOTE, added on February 29, 2008: A great many of the "contradictions" offered by the atheists, at the time, turned out to be based upon unfortunate wording in the otherwise majestic King James version. To be fair, numerous instances show the King James to be the only translation that retains this or that error likewise found in the original language manuscripts, the other translations having covered up said problem. See my eMail discussion with Mike Boston for four examples of this.

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From: R&E SysOp
To: Cliff Walker

Cliff Walker said: Some of these intrusions are indirect, like the slogan on our money or like having a Christian control the Atheism Forum on the online service.

First to clear up your misconception: "having a Christian control the Atheism Forum ..." is a misnomer. Actually, it was me, a Christian who gave you the Atheism Forum. The atheists are welcome to go elswhere if they wish but those who feel they fit under the umbrella of "religion" are welcome to use this forum as long as they play by the rules.

I set up the "Atheism" area, after impassioned pleas from the atheistic members, who claimed that they certainly could post messages that were pro-atheistic rather than simply using the area as a sounding board to attack religion and the religious. And for the most part, it has remained that way. Your file, is nothing more than an attack on the validity of the Christian Bible and as such, has no place in the atheist area. I do feel that it is well written though, and does bring up some valid points and that is why it was placed as it was.

Secondly, you say your file was written strictly to an Atheist audience. Why in the world would you write to Atheists about something they don't believe? Mmmm. If someone placed a file disclaiming the "tooth fairy" (who by the way, along with Santa Claus was shoved down my kids throats by non-believers at school) I certainly wouldn't take the time to download it. I know there isn't a tooth fairy. So it appears that you actually wrote to try and convince someone that the Bible is not infallible and therefore, the file should be placed where it is.

However, I do like your style. You are persistent, you are calm and you write a very reasoned note without screaming, shouting and accusing. It was simply a plea for reconsideration and therefore will be honored. While I do not feel it belongs there I will move your file to the Atheism library. I must mention though, that should a bible believer write a rebuttal, it would have to go in the same library.

R&E SysOp

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From: Cliff Walker
To: R&E SysOp

Dear R&E SysOp,

Thank you for listening and responding to my letters and thank you for placing the file "The Fig Tree Enigma" into the Atheism library. On consideration of your argument recommending that it belongs on the Interfaith Library, I agree: It probably has a place there. However, if I have only one choice (as is probably the case on this online service -- I don't know all rules) I wholeheartedly prefer the Atheism Forum because, as K. says:

If it is true that a file can enjoy more than one home, the Interfaith Library would be acceptable to me, but only in addition to the Atheism Library. If it can only go one place, I (obviously) prefer the Atheism Library.

Your remark about Santa Claus expresses the sentiments and illustrates the points I've been trying to make --

(Oh, by the way: Unlike many atheist writers and others, I capitalize the proper names of fictional characters such as Santa Claus, Rhett Butler, Markoff Chaney, John Jacob Jingleheimer-Smith, Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout, Eddie Koochie Catchie Kamma Tosanara Tosanova Samma Kamma Whacky-Brown, Hump the Wonder Panda, and God.)

The R&E SysOp said: If someone placed a file disclaiming the "tooth fairy" (who by the way, along with Santa Claus was shoved down my kids throats by non-believers at school) I certainly wouldn't take the time to download it. I know there isn't a tooth fairy.

If my kids were being inundated with stories of Santa Claus (or other characters whose non-existence was obvious to me); and if all the other kids believed in one or more of these fictional characters; and if my kids were in a quandary about who is really telling the truth; I probably would not expect my kids to simply take my word for it -- especially if there was a well-funded, highly organized effort to convince my kids that Santa Claus was a real fellow who regularly gets away with -- rather, is lauded for -- routinely violating various aviation laws, as well as those against trespassing and voyeurism.

We would sit down together; examine the claims of Santa's believers for what they are: claims, not undisputable truths. We might see which claims can be tested and which claims are untestable, and compare the claims that can be tested with what we experience in normal reality. Maybe we might run all the claims through some basic logical tests and, if need be, sit up all night and wait for "Santa" to slide down the chimney (like I did when I was a kid -- I refused to believe that Santa could climb out of the fireplace without being burnt. I found out who "Santa" really is! Not only that, I found out what happened to the neighbors next door, who had no fireplace). Perhaps we would find some books to help us (such as the Christian book Santa Claus, Are You For Real? -- author mercifully forgotten; book thankfully out of print). Or maybe other people who were equally concerned about the Santa myth would post files with various online services. Oh, about the chimneyless neighbors: they were Jews. It didn't matter because they had their own source of wintertime joy and festivities.

Now, you will agree with me that, aside from the aforementioned book, such articles are unlikely. The Santa myth can easily be tested, and very few people have been disowned by their families or persecuted or killed for refusing to acknowledge the literal truthfulness of the Santa myth. If there were some effective articles that would help us come to an informed decision as to the role the Santa should play in our lives, however, I would download those files in a heartbeat.

And if references to the Santa myth appeared on our nation's coins, currency, national motto, and Pledge of Allegiance; and if people could get away with denying me a job because of my denial of the Santa myth; and if the only way to get help with an alcohol or drug problem was to turn my will and my life over to the care of Santa as I understand Him (and the courts mandated me to do just that with "God"); I would surely become an activist in trying to debunk the easily-disproved Santa myth. Especially if the majority blindly and blithely believed in the myth, spent hundreds of billions propagating the myth, and refused to associate with those who didn't believe the myth.

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From: Z
To: Cliff Walker

Apparently the SysOp doesn't understand the reason that Atheists and freethinkers write about Bible contradictions comes with the fact that many people believe in the Christian superstitions and that many Christians express their intolerant beliefs against other people. If many people believed and acted according to Tooth Fairy beliefs, we would, no doubt, concentrate on Tooth Fairy myths and why they don't hold up to evidence.

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Minor corrections adn other changes made, March, 2008.

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