Atheists Have Religion,
And Faith, Too
-- Faith In People!
Larry Standley

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Larry Standley"
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: November 01, 2003 1:47 AM

Who is Wendy?

Why should we be concerned with what she says?

We will respond to a few of your comments in a generalized discussion, but we will not allow ourselves or our organization to be held accountable for words we did not speak.

Nobody from Positive Atheism Magazine ever spoke in interview with Bill Moyers.
 

Knowingly or unknowingly, you are using a deception that is usually called "equivocation," a dodge which exploits the fact that the English language often gives numerous different meanings to a single word. With this ruse, the commentator takes a word (such as faith) which is given a specific meaning in the context of the conversation or commentary, and then switches gears midway during the presentation, giving the word a different definition than was previously accepted during the course of the conversation.

In fact, this particular form of Equivocation (giving multiple meanings to the word "faith") is so common in our Forum that in our FAQ write-up on Equivocation we use the very game you played here as our example!

Atheists are without faith. We lack the kind of faith in al'Lah that would bring to us social acceptance and civil rights in a Muslim country. We do not have saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Yes, many of us are loyal (faithful) to our mates. And most of us have confidence (faith) in humanity and democracy and many other things. This is normal, and warrants no comment in regards to anybody's theism or lack thereof; it is not part of the theistic-atheistic axis.
 

Why is it that so many religionists are so utterly eager to call atheists "religious" or to say that we have religion? This makes it sound as if you're trying to bring us down to your level. (I realize this is a crude and undignified way to say it, but that's exactly what it sounds like you're doing: trying to reduce our dignity as atheists by calling us theists in one sense or another.)

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Eight years of service to people
    with no reason to believe

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Added November 24, 2003

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Larry Standley"
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: November 24, 2003 2:51 AM

That would have made you look flatulently pretentious, besides being unable to keep your feelings under wraps (not to mention having the tendency to reply without the benefit of a careful examination).
 

Thanks for giving me permission to publish that which was legally and morally submitted to me for publication.

If I wish to have your words on my web site, all that needs to happen is for you to send them to editor@positiveatheism.org. If George W. Bush were attempting to send sensitive information to John Paul II about his successes in funneling government money into the anti-choice movement, but inadvertently typed "editor@positiveatheism.org" instead of "jpii@vatican.gov" (or whatever his secret e-mail address might be), then there would be nothing ol' George could do, morally or legally, to keep me from posting what he wrote.

As a journalist, it is my role to be an opportunist in that respect -- as much as I otherwise disdain opportunists and opportunism. But that's the way of this field of work, like it or not. If you still don't understand this, then read our "Guidelines for Submission" page, which has been with us, in various forms, for as long as we've been online.
 

Try again.

Anybody who even tries to understand my Reply cannot help but notice that I had full knowledge that an oversight of some kind had occurred. But even though it turns out that the only copy was sent to the wrong organ, it was clearly to an organ nonetheless; there was nothing to indicate that it was private business and everything to suggest that it was for some organ's publication.

Many people write to (for example) The New York Times and send CC copies to others, including journals and journalists. Often these go out on the day of submission, with instructions not to publish until the addressee has had a chance to publish first. (Usually we already know better because we see the other journal's name in the "To:" field.) Other times the letter has already been published, and the copies, showing the date of publication, alert the others to its publication.

(Then there are those who take a look at what they just did and gasp, "Oh, my gosh! Look what I've done! I'd better think of a way to convince them to take this thing down!" We can fully depend upon this type to make a mistake and then shout at us as if the whole thing were our fault!)

What I did was take a written opinion and respond to it in a general way -- not as if it were written to us but merely as if it were simply "floating around," as they say. What clearly identifies me as a "Gen-X" journalist is the fact that I didn't even consider hiding the name, context, circumstances, etc., but instead used those as "dressing" to make the presentation that much more interesting or humorous, or whatever.

Read it again and see.
 

Correct. I do know because I already did know, as is evident in my Reply. Again, read it again and see.

And correct again. It would not be a form of equivocation, as equivocation is the changing of definitions of words. What you are talking about is my knowingly taking a misdirected letter, mentioning that fact numerous times and in various ways in my reply, and using the letter nonetheless to make some important statements.

I fail to see how this could equal equivocation.
 

In this sense, everybody who ever got their letter posted here is fodder for my particular cause. That's why I post their letters. I do not maintain this web site in order to promote bigotry against atheists; rather, I go to the expense and pain in an attempt to find ways to reduce it.

But would this justify my getting ultra-pedantic about it and placing a disclaimer on each letter?

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Cliff: "This letter is fodder for my particular cause."

Readers: "Duh, Cliff! That's why we read them!"

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I might as well post a disclaimer that says, "Warning: This is a web site! Don't get caught in one, even though that's precisely what webs are for!"

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Eight years of service to people
    with no reason to believe

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