I commend you on your contribution to the intellectual progression of humanity with the positive atheism website.
I am studying physics and math in college right now and take a personal fascination with the "theory" of natural selection. Personally, I feel that to deny it is to deny that the earth is round.
I work with a number of Christians who are aware of my scientific viewpoints and gosh darn it, they always seem to know more about the universe than I do. Naturally, since I've begun to work there (at the College) I've been engaged in the most absurd debates on a day-to-day basis. In one such debate, number of months ago, a vehement Christian and WW II veteran told me that I was just an "ignorant kid," that I haven't really experienced "the real world," and that "there are no atheists in the trenches." With the utmost respect I told him he was probably right, I haven't really lived yet. But honestly I asked him, "Who can think clearly when they are being shot at?"
I wish I had a nickel for every time a Christian has informed me that "in reality, Darwin repented on his deathbed." I always tell them that whoever told them that was either a liar or misled, and that the claim is completely unsubstantiated.
But lets face it, people do and think crazy things in the face of death, and for the sake of debate I tell them, lets assume that Darwin did in fact repent on his deathbed (which is absurd). Lets assume that one day certain undeniable accounts of his repentance are evoked. It still doesn't mean anything at all. Had Galileo also revised his discoveries on his deathbed, would the Jovian moons suddenly cease to exist? Would the Sun orbit the Earth? I think not.
How would Darwin's total repentance change anything about his discovery?
Casey N. Meyering
From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Casey Meyering"
Subject: Re: Question about Prof. Darwin's "Repentance"
Date: October 09, 2004 08:20
Yes! I fully agree with your sentiments! Who on Earth thinks they can trust the mind of someone whose health has become so thoroughly impaired that they're gonna die at any moment!? In fact, I'm surprised that I cannot remember having posted this angle before, 'cause it's exactly what I've thought of the Darwin Death Bed Hoax for a long, long time. Maybe I have posted it, perhaps numerous times but just can't remember. I know I've written along these lines in response to that ol' Atheists-In-Foxholes canard.
Besides, I think your Christian friend, deliberately or otherwise, is not being truthful with you on two counts.
First (according to my Pastor, a Baptist), the trenches were strictly a World War One thing. There is no more trench warfare: nobody's that stupid (or so my Pastor tells me)!
He told me a joke about how the Allies would yell out, in a loud whisper, "Hey, Fritz!"
Inevitably some German would stand up and go, "Jah!" -- to which the Allies responded with a rip-roaring round of applause. Well, that's what it sounded like, I hear, when several guns of that vintage were being fired at the same time!
The Germans eventually caught on to this, he says, and started yelling out, in a loud whisper, "Hey, Tommy!"
Some Ally would respond, "Is that you, Fritz?"
The poor German would then stand up and say, "Jah!" -- only receive that ol' round of applause again!
I told my Pastor, "The moral seems to be that even when the Germans called out the name of the deity worshipped by Rastafarians, it didn't do them any good." Unfortunately, my Pastor is a bit lax on his Comparative Religion studies, and wasn't familiar with the ways of Rastafarianism (or their god, Jah). Go figure!
But hey, there are no atheists in the trenches -- because there are no more trenches!
Secondly, I have known many, many atheists to face what they thought (or even knew) was certain death. I am one of them, in fact; I thought I was dying as a Christian and didn't pray. Instead, I reserved all my thoughts and wits about me for the very tricky task at hand: to keep myself from losing consciousness. I thought, at the time, that to pass out would mean certain death! Whether or not I was right about that is irrelevant. Of course! Whether or not I would have been right to pray in case the Christian claim that a place called Hell exists would have been equally irrelevant! Of the other "endangered" atheists I've known, however, not a one of them called out for Mister Wizard to twirl his magic wand and chant, "Drizzle, drazzle, drozzle, drone / Time for this one to come home!" (or however that old cartoon used to go: I haven't seen it in over 40 years). None of my atheist friends suddenly started to believing in Santa or Jesus or any of the mythical figures we all learned to "trust" as children.
The multi-talented poetess, sculptor, and composer Laurie Anderson has a song (if one would call it a song) which is basically a story with a musical bed behind it. The story recounts her experience on an airliner that suddenly lost power and started simply falling out of the sky over the ocean. She makes no mention of prayer. She made no mention of any deities at all, for that matter. Well, okay, she takes the pilot's announcement and works it up into a faux "Simon Says" game: "Simon says, 'Put your head between your legs.' 'Put your hands on your hips!' Aha! Simon says, 'Put your hands on your head....'" Okay, so perhaps "Simon" is symbolic for "God," here, I wouldn't know. Actually I do know: Anderson, as far as I can tell, is not a theist in any sense that most of us are familiar, to the point where if it were any of our business, we could probably put good money on the likelihood of her atheism!
As for the extremely popular "atheists outside of foxholes" yarn, all you need to do, really, is log on to our Front Page and enter the word "foxhole" into the search. (I've tried to make sure that it's spelled correctly at least once in each letter where it appears!) Several readers have related their experiences along these lines. In fact, don't just search our web site. When you're done, click the radio button to "WWW," click again. Better yet, browse on over to our Web Guide, and see what the atheists on the other web sites have to say about the subject of atheists in foxholes. I'll bet this lie is addressed on more atheistic web sites than any other single topic, simply because it's so popular and, at the same time, so insidiously bigoted. (It's insidious in that it makes them feel good for engaging in behavior that, it turns out, is spiteful and vindictive.)
These Christians (not all of them, just the ones who act this way) have a high level of arrogance in that they think we all secretly agree with the faith of their fathers, as it were. I mean, over five thousand-plus (5,000+) gods and goddesses (and their consorts) have been endorsed by humankind over the millennia. What makes them think that the tribal "god" that their religious leaders foist on them is really real in the minds of the rest of us? What makes them think that the "god" that they think they worship (by sheer accident of birth) is the one which so occupies the minds of the rest of us that when we're in trouble we call out to that neighboring clan's totem!?
Their real problem is this: Christianity is losing force in America just as it did in Europe fifty years ago. Atheism is the fastest growing ideology both in percentages and in sheer numbers. The Evangelicals are getting desperate, and are willing to lie -- to deliberately lie -- just to win a convert.
Notwithstanding, a single reading of the coverage of Darwin's death in Darwin's Autobiography (prepared by family), plus the letters he wrote during the days preceding, will clear up any doubts regarding this wholesale slander leveled against one of the two greatest scientists of the past thousand years -- the other being Isaac Newton. Yes, when I interviewed M. Reza Ghadiri, one of three biochemists who have synthesized self-replicating molecules "from scratch," if you will, he assured me that Darwin and Newton would be the only scientists of this period still remembered two thousand years from now.
Far from having "repented," Darwin became more and more agnostic as age and pain took him from among the still living. Those who insist that Darwin "repented" need to cough up some evidence that he did this:
To whom did he relate these alleged sentiments?
Okay, I'm listening!
If there were any accounts of the Darwin Deathbed Dodge, then we would have answers to all these questions and more. But no such accounts can be found. All we have are unsubstantiatable claims, like the slanders they wrote for countless others of humankind's heroes.
For an interesting read on this subject, check the Internet Infidels' online copy of the book, Infidel Deathbeds. I almost put this book in PAM's library, before the Infidels had theirs up. (We both went online at the same time, and we agreed early on not to "mirror" one another's material except when one has a special edition, such as my Ingersoll book versus their pamphlets.) But at the time I thought the subject was absurd: "The Christians don't still do this, do they?" I thought. Oh, how wrong I was on that matter! You better believe they still do this! In fact, it has gotten much worse, even, than when I was a teenager listening to preachers soberly expound on this and that lie (what I now know to be lies, anyway).
Thanks for writing!
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