Reply To Grant Kemp’s Letter

Gil Gaudia

From: “Positive Atheism”
To: “Gil Gaudia”
Date: November 18, 2006
Subject: Positive Atheism and Stephen Jay Gould


We recently received this letter criticizing one of your works.

Tell me what you think of it.



From: “Gil Gaudia”
To: “Positive Atheism”
Date: November 18, 2006
Subject: Positive Atheism and Stephen Jay Gould

Hi Cliff,

My first response to your above question is — Boy am I happy to hear from you!

In my opinion, since you are, by far, the person who has been most influential in the advancement of Atheism in recent years, I have been saddened by your apparent retreat from your involvement in your website. I know there have been medical and financial factors that were the underlying causes, but I hoped that you would return with the full vigor and competence that you always displayed at Positive Atheism. Are you back on the job? How are you feeling?

My wife Jeanne and I are in the Florida half of our privileged annual existence, and have been involved with American Atheist Magazine for several months as “editorial assistants.” We volunteered to Ellen Johnson (after subscribing to the publication and becoming aware of the large number of typos, misspellings and poor grammar) to proofread some or all of the manuscripts that she was contemplating publishing. She gratefully and graciously accepted our offer, and we are pleased to brag that we believe the quality of the magazine has benefitted from our work.


As for the writer of the criticism you enclosed, in true sophomoric fashion, he has focused on the trivial failure on my part to attribute Gould’s comment to the person (or persons) Gould was quoting. Gould’s actual words were, “To cite the usual cliches, we get the age of rocks and religion retains the rock of ages; we study how the heavens go, and they determine how to go to heaven.” Anyone with an ounce of literary acumen would recognize that the reference to “the usual cliches” makes it highly unlikely that the quote is original with the writer.

What Mr. Kemp fails to address is my point that people such as Stephen Jay Gould (and most scientists, politicians, and journalists, for that matter), in their reluctance to publicly challenge the patent nonsense of religions, rationalize and hypothesize ludicrous concepts like Gould’s “non-overlapping magisteria” (NOMA) in the hope that they will avoid the pain that would be inflicted by theists.

If I were to adopt Mr. Kemp’s strategy, I would point to his illiteracy, his inaccuracy and his illogic. I am glad, however, that he enjoys your work, because it gives him an opportunity to improve his own thinking, which is woefully inadequate (despite his “final year of undergraduate in honors Biochemistry”).



PS I see, now that I have just gone to your website, that you are celebrating your “50th Anniversary.” Does that mean “birthday”, and if so “Happy Birthday!”

Also it says, “Cliff will take calls...” I’d love to talk with you, so please send me your phone number and the best times to call, and I’ll ring you up.