Positive Atheism!?
What About Those
Killed Under
Atheistic Communism?
James Royal

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "James Royal"
Subject: Re: Big List Of Quotations
Date: April 22, 2004 06:38


Had you studied Russian history and culture, you would not be saying something like this. But you have not studied Russian history and culture; instead, you are cloaking your hatred and bigotry as a pretense for knowledge of Russian history and culture.

And had you been a student of Russian history and culture, you would be talking about Communism combined with a certain Russian cultural idiosyncracy. You certainly would not be talking about atheism. This is because atheism is simply the absence of a god-belief, regardless of the reason, regardless of the vehemence (or lack thereof) with which the atheism is held, and regardless even of the atheist's own awareness (or lack thereof) that she or he is an atheist. As such, atheism transcends all ideologies (except theism) and is almost always incidental to each of these ideologies.

Of course, there's no explaining any of this to a person who would write to somebody out of the blue like you did, somebody about whom our writer knows only that she or he is an atheist. And you know nothing more than that about me, I am certain, and yet you make what comes off as a spite-filled remark right off the bat! No greetings, no acknowledgement that we are fellow humans, nothing but derogatory presumption.

Most importantly, there's no explaining any of this to a person who would do all this without first checking the facts -- an "armchair historian, sociologist, and philosopher, all wrapped into one," if you will.

Communism, when practiced as a religion, combined with Russian culture, was the fatal combination. Atheism was incidental to the whole thing. Had Stalin held his atheism like I hold mine, he would have (1) never been accepted as a leader of the Soviet Union, and (2) never permitted the execution of even a single criminal or rebel.

Ah, but Stalin was much more of a Communist than he was an atheist. And Stalin was much more of a Russian than he was either a Communist or an Atheist. His athiesm was incidental to both -- if he was even an atheist at all! Yes -- I said if he was an atheist, because we don't know what Stalin's real feelings were. He did not start out as the Premier of Russia but grew up as a boy and advanced his way through the Soviet military. During any phase of his growth, education, military service, and political leadership, for him to admit any religious faith could have been fatal to his goals, fatal to his leadership, and probably even fatal to his body at one point. If he was religious, then he, like virtually all who suffered under that regime, kept his mouth shut tight. Atheism was enforced because it was the most scientific and because it is almost impossible to form an atheistic movement of any kind (particularly a rebellious movement), whereas religions are very conducive to swaying the membership over to specific ideas and loyalties and thus make dangerous enemies of the state.

In other words, the Communists leaders chose atheism: atheism neither created nor encouraged Communism!

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Of course, trying to explain any of this to people whose understanding of atheism came from the pulpit, from an apologetics video, from radio talk shows, or from television shows (not necessarily The 700 Club), would be like trying to administer medicine to the dead, apologies to Thomas Paine.

For this reason, I will keep my reply short and sweet so that our readers can be inspired to pick up a scholarly article (or three) on Russian history and Russian culture (or perhaps even hold some lengthy dialogues with Russians, as I often do, seeing as how I live in the Russian section of Portland, Oregon, out on SE Foster Road). Perhaps our readers will then be able to see what it took for a man to be held as an effective leader by the Russian public (as if the Soviet ballots ever listed more than one candidate for any given office).

The question in that culture and in those times is this: How many criminals and "rebels" and such would a man need to slaughter before the Russian populace would hail him as their powerful leader, march in a parade, and sing patriotic songs about him (etc.)?

But explaining this is a waste of effort, which is why my sending this to you is but a mere formality, done in honor of Positive Atheism's policy and for no other reason. It is not my burden to provide for you an education in history, culture, or atheism.

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I will say this, however: Have a nice life!

As far as I can tell, this is the only life that we get to live -- ever. For this reason, I try to make the lives of everybody I meet as plesant as I am able, in my own way and acknowledging my own limitations. (I can try, can't I?) While I cannot teach you anything about history (this thing is clear), I can at least be nice to you.

Again: Have a nice life!

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Eight-and-one-half years of service to
          people with no reason to believe

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "James Royal"
Subject: Re: Big List Of Quotations
Date: April 22, 2004 18:45

I fully agree! Add to that just about any ideology you can think of: the ideology does not state the morals nor the intellectual capacity nor the sincerity of any advocate of any ideology. And being fallible, we cannot pronounce any as right or wrong with absolute certainty: to some, the best you have is to take it on faith; to others, the best you have is to give it as much scrutiny as you can muster.

It is for this reason that I encourage atheists (for whose benefit this page is constructed and maintained) to stop "beating up" theists and to start joining whoever's organized efforts to make this world a better place. We have been saying this from our inception and stated as much in our FAQ centerpiece, "Introduction to Activistic Atheism."

If religions wish to make a religious test for their groups, that is their prerogative (and probably a good idea in most cases). But I see no reason whatsoever for atheists to copy this behavior in their social activism. My treatise on this subject is, "Why Advocate For Individual Activists?" with Argentinian Skeptic Juan De Gennaro.

Thanks for writing!

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Eight-and-two-thirds years of service
      to people with no reason to believe

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