1a. "If There Is No God, Why Have An Organization To Prove There Is No God?" 
Response by Cliff Walker
We do not associate together for the purpose of proving or disproving anything.
This is not the purpose of our organization -- or any atheistic organization, for that matter. Positive Atheism's target audience consists of atheists and those theists who wish to work toward the separation of state and church and toward dignifying atheism. True, we expose the sleight-of-hand persuasion techniques of the evangelists, but most atheists understand that you cannot prove the negative of an existential claim (a claim that something exists). We are satisfied that the burden of proof is upon the person making the claim; in this case, it is the ones claiming that gods and the supernatural exist who must demonstrate their theory.
Atheists do not "evangelize."
It is not our purpose here to do the atheist equivalent of evangelizing theists over to our point of view. Since we think the truth is self-evident, we are baffled as to why people, in C.E. 2000, would still believe in a book that represents the earth as flat and having a lid.  We are ready to give an answer to any valid question (one that make no false presuppositions), but it is not our purpose to convince anybody of anything. (Our only message along these lines would be to entities such as school boards who are considering the use of the book of Genesis as a teaching aid in the science, history and ethics classes.)
Besides, many of us have nothing to say to theists. At one end of the spectrum, Madalyn Murray O'Hair used to say, "If you are religious -- stay that way. You are not intellectually mature enough to join our ranks."  Most atheists are not this caustic about it, preferring, at most, simply to shake our heads and quietly hope that others might become free from theism. There are a few who think that one choice argument may cause someone immediately to abandon their deeply held, life-long, thoroughly ingrained religious beliefs. However, most of us know better than to think this is all it takes.
Almost all atheists have no problem with the private religious beliefs of anyone. However, when certain religious individuals and groups want the rest of us to live according to one specific interpretation of an ancient scroll, then everyone should turn white with fear. This is not just an atheist issue: often, though, atheists are the only ones who jump up and down about state-church separation and the intrusion of religion upon public life.
We desire to associate with others like ourselves.
The main purpose of any society of atheists is to communicate with others without having to associate with people who believe superstitious nonsense or who us on our lack of religious belief. As such, an atheist organization is seen by some an oasis, because during certain functions of various atheistic organizations, you must be a paid member to be there. Most atheists, though, do not join organizations and do not care what an individual believes. This is not how most of us determine who our friends will be.
Atheists often band together to advocate for separation of state and church and for civil rights for atheists.
Our most important message is the need to restore the wall of separation between state and church. The United States was founded as a secular nation with no religious tests. If Ralph Reed and his followers repeat, enough times, that "America was founded as a Christian nation," we fear that a critical mass of people may actually believe him and, for the first time in its history, turn the United States into a theocracy.
Throughout history, atheists have been banned, silenced, and killed for our position regarding religion. Atheistic programs were not allowed on radio or television until the 1960s. Since then, what few programs we do have are viciously opposed by the religious majority. Many of the atheistic books which are placed in public libraries are suspected to have been checked out and "lost" by our religious opponents, for the purpose of removing this information from circulation.
As recently as 1997, the State of South Carolina denied Herb Silverman's application for notary public-simply because he is an atheist.  Since 1868, the South Carolina Constitution has said, "No person who denies the existence of the Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution."  At least six other states -- Arkansas, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas -- have similar clauses in their constitutions, but do not enforce them. Silverman prevailed in lower the courts, and prevailed again in the State's Supreme Court after South Carolina's Republican Governor David Beasley, who is a born-again Christian, appealed the ruling in order to protect the status quo of his religion. At the same time, Christians across the nation are hard at work trying to establish more rights for themselves, at the expense of non-Christians and, in some cases, Christians different from themselves.
No misrepresentation of our purpose will stop us from our work as activists.
Finally, the tone of your question prompts us to wonder about your motive behind the question. Implied in this tone is the suggestion that we are somehow "stooping" to fight something that does not exist. Are you suggesting, by this, that we abandon our efforts altogether? After all, what we oppose does not exist. As Madalyn Murray O'Hair once said to this notion, "I am more offended that you though I would fall for such a sophomoric attempt to delude." 
No. When we fight at all, we fight ideas: stupid ideas; harmful ideas. While we would never try to enact legislation that bars someone from freedom of speech and freedom to practice a religion in privacy, we feel duty-bound to speak out against the madness and destruction that is religious faith. "The god idea, the christian belief package, can be demonstrated as being harmful to individuals, to groups, to countries, to whole cultures, in all eras of humankind.... I am not fighting 'a god' that does not exist, I am -- rather -- engaged in an effort of trying to free the human mind of some unnatural restrictions which have been placed upon it." 
1b. "You Seem To Have A Lot Of Anger And Intolerance And Devotion For Something Which You Claim Does Not Exist."
Response by Matt Edwards
I do not have anger and intolerance for anything imaginary. This is the mistake Christians always make. Why would I bother trying to fight something that is just make-believe? No, I go after the people with the belief. They exist. They are my target.
But I do not hate the majority of them.
It is the fundamentalist leaders, the powerful Mafia bosses of Christianity, that I despise. They want to force their way on everyone. They want a theocracy despite the constitution. They want America to be Iran.
And I will die fighting that.
2. "It Takes Much More Faith Not To Believe In God Than It Does To Believe In God." 
Atheism is not a different variety of faith, but the absence of faith altogether.
We are not here talking of faithfulness as opposed to disloyalty, but faith as "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."  The faith which is entirely absent from atheism is the faith that says, "Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed,"  and which boasts, "We live by faith, not by sight."  Such talk has no part in atheism.
Madalyn Murray-O'Hair said, "Gora  pointed out to me that just as the word 'independent' meant freedom from dependency, that I should emphasize that the word 'Atheist' meant freedom from theism."  In its positive sense, atheism is entirely different, as a system of thinking, from theism. Rest assured, however, that atheism is not faith. Saying that an atheist has faith betrays a misunderstanding of the traditional ideas both of faith and of atheism. Atheism is the absence of faith; atheism is freedom from faith.
To say that unbelief is a kind of faith is akin to slandering unbelievers. To us, "being certain of what we do not see"  is not a virtue. Many atheists see faith as a vice, a "habit of flouting reason in forming and maintaining one's answer to the question whether there is a god."  Zoologist Richard Dawkins doesn't mince words: "Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence." 
To be fair, some theists assert that faith results, in part, from evidence, such as history and personal "religious experience." An atheist would surely put to the test any alleged evidence from history (particularly claims brought forth in an attempt to establish Christianity, Judaism, or Islam). If such evidence forces one to conclude that any of the above religions are true, an honest seeker would join that faith immediately. In lieu of compelling evidence, the reasonable position is to doubt the truthfulness of the claims.
Nobody, however, can dispute someone else's personal "religious experiences." Such experiences are entirely subjective, occurring exclusively to the person in question. Before a mystic can relate a subjective experience to another, he or she must leave, for a moment, the subjective state; the very discussion of subjective experiences occurs, like all communication, in the realm of objectivity. Thus, even to relate such an experience to another, one must defy the subjective state he or she is trying to describe. This is not unlike the solipsist (one who thinks himself is the only thing that exists) who attempts to persuade others of the truthfulness of solipsism. "Mystical experiences" have no meaning in any discussion of the objective validity of a religious claim.
Unable to demonstrate the superiority of faith, many theists reproach reason.
In lieu of proving the superiority of a model, it has become popular to derogate the opponent's model. Maybe this is a ploy to make faith appear less unrealistic by positing that "everyone has faith, even atheists have faith!"
Perhaps the theists who declare that "atheists have faith" unwittingly "reduce" atheism to the level of faith. People who talk this way are certainly trying to reduce atheism to some level! An insight made by H. L. Mencken, while covering the Scopes trial, reflects this practice: "The so-called religious organizations which now lead the war against the teaching of evolution are nothing more, at bottom, than conspiracies of the inferior man against his betters." 
Examining the illogic of our current question shows clearly that something like this is happening here. If faith is good, and if it "takes much more faith" to be an atheist than it does to be a theist, then (according to this illogic) atheistic "faith" would be superior to theistic faith. We cannot assume, however, that our inquirer advocates atheism over theism. Our alternative is to assume that this remark is designed to denigrate atheism. Thus our writer says that atheism requires "much more faith" -- meaning "much more credulity." The writer did not anticipate, however, that he would end up smearing faith itself by equating it with credulity!
In any event, it is dishonest to say on the one hand that reason alone is inferior to reason plus faith, and to say on the other hand that those who rely solely upon reason actually have faith.
The atheistic outlook requires thought, nerve, and diligence -- but not "more faith."
True, it requires diligent thought (but not "much more faith") to conclude, philosophically, that claims of gods and the supernatural are logical absurdities and physical impossibilities -- especially when one has been raised in a theistic atmosphere. It also takes a lot of nerve (but not "much more faith") to go against one's culture and upbringing. To think for oneself demands fortitude (not "much more faith"). Nobody will "deconvert" from the world-view of one's parents and culture without having thought long and hard about the issues and the consequences. In this sense, it is harder to be an atheist than it is to be a theist. However, faith is not an element in this struggle.
Many atheists prefer truth over comfort, and will follow truth wherever it may lead -- even at the expense of comfort (and sometimes even at the expense of life itself). To this effect, George Bernard Shaw wrote, "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." 
Finally, not all atheists are of the philosophical variety (those having chosen not to believe after much thought). Some of us are infants and some of us are imbeciles, and some of us are members of isolated tribes who do not have a god-belief built in to the tribal world-view. Others of us rejected the faith of our parents out of resentment toward the parents, not because we thought about it philosophically. The most common atheist is the one who rarely, if ever, thinks on the subject. They know they are not religious, but haven't taken the issue beyond that fact. The rest of us either have challenged the theistic traditions handed down to us and have rejected them on philosophical grounds, or were raised atheistic.
3. "Life Would Certainly Be Depressing And Meaningless If There Was No Hereafter." 
Does the fact that an idea makes you feel good make it true? What would happen if you thought there was a hereafter but it turned out that there actually was no hereafter? What if it turns out that the notion of a hereafter is a lie? Would you feel better believing a lie? Does feeling good justify telling a lie? Does this make lying morally right?
Abraham Lincoln said, "It is an established maxim and moral that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false is guilty of falsehood, and the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify or excuse him."  Thomas Huxley agreed: "It is wrong for a man to say he is certain of the objective truth of a proposition unless he can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty."  So, according to this logic, someone who states a belief in the afterlife, but who either cannot prove its existence or does not know whether there is such a thing as an afterlife (but merely accepts the idea on faith), is guilty of falsehood.
Again: Does feeling good justify speaking falsehood? Does the fact that it makes you feel good make lying morally right?
One might ask if the same holds true for those who assert that there is no such thing as an afterlife. No. The person who makes a claim (or holds a theory or says that something exists) is the one responsible for providing proof (or a valid argument) to back up his or her position. If the one making such a claim cannot do this, it is perfectly reasonable for the rest of us to doubt the claim.
The very nature of the modern views of afterlife protect those views from being tested. The notion is now cloaked in language that defies all attempts to discussion it. In Mohammad's day, when Heaven was thought to be up in the sky, Mohammad says, "Gabriel mounted me upon Buraq [a two-winged animal of a size between that of an ass and a mule],  and having carried me upwards to the lowest heaven called out to open the gate."  It is said of Jesus that "while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven."  Lest anyone think this being "carried up" is a metaphor, the book of Acts says, "while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." 
The book of Genesis, which creationists wish to be taught as science and history in our public schools, describes the sky as "firmament" above which is water: "And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven."  The Noah's Ark tale describes how "the windows of heaven were opened." This is not a figure of speech, here, but a description of real windows in the sky, through which the rain pours.
Today, we know that our atmosphere is several miles thick. After that there is empty space and, here and there, tiny amounts of matter -- mostly hydrogen -- with no known end. The first man to travel in space, atheist Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (1934-1968), said during his historic mission, "I don't see any god up here." 
Most theists are reluctant to abandon an idea that is shown to be falsehood. Instead, the modern believer has simply revised the old notion by removing those elements which no longer pass as mystery, and shrouding it in what today passes as mystery. It's always a mystery, though; it must be, or it would never attract attention, never attract a following.
In Benjamin Franklin's day, lightning was a mystery, and many though it was a judgement from a deity. It was not understood by the masses; consequently, most churches refused to install "Franklin's rod" in their steeples. Today, lightning is understood as an atmospheric phenomenon with a known cause. Other things continue to baffle most people, such as mental illness. Such things are thus thought by many as being the works of invisible malevolent entities.
This tendency toward revising the mystery to accommodate increased knowledge (by constantly demystifying the unknown) is carried over into modern views of the afterlife. Since Yuri Gagarin's historic flight, hardly anybody thinks of Heaven as being in the sky. "I don't know where it is -- I know it's not up there, 'cause I believe that the earth revolves, man, and sometimes you can go to heaven at 12:07. You can go to hell at 6:30."  So, if it's "not up there" any more, then where is it? Theists struggle with this one because they cannot abandon the myth of heaven altogether, so the best they can do is "spiritualize" it -- whatever that means!
Back to the subject of there being no afterlife, most people cannot accept the finality of death. The idea that this is the only known existence you get can be terrifying. My little brother did not get to live much of a life, and he does not get another crack at living -- not any life that we can know about, that we can verify. Any claims to the contrary are just that: claims. Someone who attempts to comfort me with the notion that my brother gets another chance is making a claim, and needs to make a strong case before I will believe it. As tempting as it is to want to fool myself by believing that life somehow is fair and that he will get another chance, I cannot do this because it would be dishonest.
Another aspect of death that terrifies many theists is the notion of hell. Not every theist is certain that he or she will be able to avoid hell. Although you'd think that an atheist, knowing there is no such thing as hell, would be free of such fear, but this is not always the case. Novelist Anthony Burgess described the "vestigial fear of hell" in his mind that no amount of reading of Freethought literature would abolish.
Notion of afterlife cheapens life. Many a young soldier willingly and eagerly went to his death on the promise of a reward in the afterlife. Arnaud-Amaury, Abbot of Citeaux, 1209, justifying a wholesale massacre during the crusaces, was asked by a commander how they should tell who were the Christians and who were the enemies of God. "Kill them all; for the Lord knoweth them that are His" was his reply, suggesting that God would rectify the situation on the Judgement Day by vindicating the Christian victims of this slaughter.
Finally, lack of belief in an afterlife can and does to motivate moral behavior in people. Joseph Lewis said, "With this recognition of the finality of death, no one should willingly withhold acts that would bring benefits, joy or happiness to others."
4. "You Are On Our Prayer List. We Will Pray For You Always."
Response by Cliff Walker
Your practice of a superstitious ritual will not harm us one whit.
However, we are curious and must ask, why? Why do you do this? What do you expect to accomplish? And please explain to us how it works. We have never understood how a person can, simply by thinking or talking, effect situations beyond one's physical reach.
Also, we insist on knowing why you would go so far as to inform us of your activity? Do you, by telling us this, intend to communicate to us that you think you are in some way superior to us in that you feel you must not only pray for us, but announce to us that you are doing this?
We agree with the Jesus character in the Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 6, who allegedly said:
 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
We feel that activities such as superstitious ritual -- along with other vices such as masturbation, recreational drug use, and the discussion of racist sentiments -- are best done in private where they will not bother innocent bystanders who might be offended by such activities. My editorial column "Prayer As Intrusive Outburst" explains why this is our position.
That you would announce that you are praying for us, in the context in which you did, implies that we need something that we lack (because we're atheists) and therefore implies a claim of superiority. You are welcome to try to spin it how you will, but this is the implication of telling an atheist (about which one knows nothing else) that one is praying for them.
Had you known, for example, that I had taken ill, but did not know that I am an atheist, such an announcement, cloaked in the context of failing health, would be understandable. Had you known that I was ill and that I was an atheist, I would be tempted to call such an announcement thoughtless or perhaps even rude. My only hesitation is that atheists are such a widely and viciously despised minority in the United States and elsewhere that we cannot expect the common etiquette manuals to discuss doing such things as saying "Bless you" to an atheist who has just sneezed or telling an atheist "I'll pray for you" -- or worse, "Why don't you pray about it?"  However, even though it's not in the books, yet, it is only common courtesy, and I don't see how this particular courtesy could be anything but intuitive.
But the context of my web presence is as an atheistic activist, and I can assume that you know nothing more about me than my atheism. Thus, whether or not you've thought this through, when you tell an atheist that you are praying for him or her, and it is clear that all you know about that person is the fact that they are an atheist, you are implying some form of superiority over that person.
5. "Why Feature Historical Writings Of People Who Were Not Atheists?"
A. It was a capital crime to criticize Christianity or espouse atheism in Europe, from the beginning of the Christian Church in the fourth century until well into the Enlightenment. Therefore, those who were atheists during these fifteen centuries or so either did not write their views down, or their views were burned -- along with the author.
Atheism was not an intellectually viable position until Darwin disposed of the Argument from Design in 1859, with his publication of Origin of Species.
An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: "I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn't a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one." I can't help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.
Some pre-Darwin writers, though they spoke of "God," had viewpoints that were otherwise essentially indistinguishable from modern atheism. An example of such a thinker would Spinoza, whose views are difficult to categorize:
Scholars continue to debate the question of whether Spinoza was really an atheist; and if this debate seems incapable of resolution, this is partially because the key term "atheist" is rarely used in a clear and consistent manner. The question "Was Spinoza really an atheist?" can be interpreted in (at least) three different ways. If we apply the label "atheist" only to writers who never employ theistic terminology, then Spinoza was not an atheist in this superficial sense. If, by "atheist," we mean a thinker who explicitly disbelieves in any personal, transcendent, or supernatural God, then Spinoza was indeed an atheist. If however, we mean "Did Spinoza view himself as an atheist?" then the issue becomes far more problematic.
Positive Atheism Magazine thus follows the cue of George H. Smith in his book Why Atheism? by encouraging our atheistic readers to study their heritage as atheists. This heritage includes those writers and thinkers whose ideas either encouraged breaks from Orthodox dogma or developed ideas which eventually led to modern atheism.
3. Madalyn Murray O'Hair, in Jon Murray and Madalyn Murray O'Hair, All the Questions You Ever Wanted to Ask American Atheists: With All the Answers (1982), vol. i., p. 29.
4. South Carolina Governor Beasley vs. Herb Silverman (1997). See "South Carolina Supreme Court Okays Atheists for Public Office" by the American Civil Liberties Union, May 30, 1997.
5. "Lawsuit Challenges South Carolina Policy Banning Atheists from Government" from Maranatha Christian Journal (1993).
6. Madalyn Murray O'Hair, in Jon Murray and Madalyn Murray O'Hair, All the Questions You Ever Wanted to Ask American Atheists: With All the Answers (1982), vol. ii., p. 41.
7. Madalyn Murray O'Hair, in Jon Murray and Madalyn Murray O'Hair, All the Questions You Ever Wanted to Ask American Atheists: With All the Answers (1982), vol. ii., p. 40.
9. Anonymous, in Hebrews 11:1 (New International Version).
10. Jesus, to the "doubting" Thomas character, in John 20:29 (New American Standard Bible).
11. Paul, in II Corinthians 5:7 (New International Version).
13. Madalyn Murray O'Hair, in Madalyn Murray O'Hair and Jon Murray, All the Questions You Ever Wanted to Ask American Atheists: With All the Answers (1982), vol. ii., p. 106.
14. Anonymous, in Hebrews 11:1 (New International Version).
18. George Bernard Shaw, "Androcles and the Lion" (1916), Preface.
19. From the unsigned letter "Critical Thinker Web Page: A waste of Internet space," received May, 1996.
21. Thomas H. Huxley, Agnosticism and Christianity, (1894) vol. v., pp. 310-11.
22. Ibn Warraq, Why I am Not a Muslim (1995), p. 46.
23. William Tisdall, Original Sources of Islam (1901) p. 80., quoted in Ibn Warraq, Why I am Not a Muslim (1995), p. 46.
24. Luke 24:51.
25. Acts 1:9.
26. Genesis 1:7-8a.
27. Quoted in James A. Haught, 2000 Years of Unbelief (1996) p. 290.
28. Lenny Bruce, "The Carnegie Hall Concert" (performed on February 4, 1961), Capitol/World Pacific reissue CD, "Christ and Moses" routine, disc 2, track 1, elapsed time 9:45.
29. See our Forum question, "Do You Suffer From Burgess's 'Vestigial Fear Of Hell'?"
33. This slur is not uncommon within the Twelve Step Program. The context of the Program is that you help each other. Once, when Cliff Walker asked a woman friend how an atheist should respond to the bigotry within the Program that prevails against atheists, she retorted: "Have you prayed about it?" Though this is the most overt instance (the topic was the atheism and bigotry), several others who knew someone was an atheist have responded to personal requests for advice by suggesting that the atheist pray. Sometimes it is even prefaced with a disclaimer: "I realize you don't believe in God, but, ..." Hey! If you realize that we don't believe in any gods or saints (etc.), then to suggest that we pray is rude at best and comes off as bigotry.