Not A 'True Christian,'
But Still Pesters Atheists:
Matt D Mersereau
I find it very sad that this website actually exists. I see no reason for it. If you choose to not believe in God, then so be it. God gave us the gift of free will, and it is your right to use that gift as you wish. We can use it to please God, or to please ourselves. It is ultimately our choice. The fact that you have this site to proclaim that you do not believe in God is analogous to me deciding that I do not wish to play the guitar, but then buying a guitar so I can tell people "see this guitar, I choose not to play it". The only reason for this site I can see, from what little I have read here, is to defend yourselves. It seems that you feel that atheists are picked on, or vilified by Christians. What you need to realize is that a true Christian would not take part in such activities. A true Christian does not criticize a non-believer, they pray for them. Next time you and your fellow non-believers are criticized by a person claiming to be a Christian, remind them that Jesus did not teach us to judge one another, and perhaps they need to examine their own lives before examining someone else's.
I will pray for you,
From: "Positive Atheism" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Mersereau, Matt D"
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: September 11, 2002 9:26 PM
I find it very sad that this website actually exists.
Oh, my! It's worse than I ever could have imagined! This is not just some sick idea floating around in somebody's sick fantasy: this thing actually exists!
I take it, then, that if you had the power, you would deny us the right to post this web site.
This is our number one complaint against the Christian religion: Christianity tends to encourage its followers to become abjectly greedy. They tend to want everything to go their way, and want, at the same time, to prevent others from having their way, too.
I have encountered nothing more un-American than the philosophy upon which the Christian religion is based.
you choose to not believe in God
This is not true at all.
We do not believe the claims that you make alleging that a thing called a "God" exists. We say nothing about gods, it's the claims that we don't buy. I've just begun my eighth year, here, and I'd have thought that at least one of you might have at least tried to back this claim up with a good old-fashioned demonstration. That's not what the Christians are doing, though. Instead, most of them who write to me simply presuppose that I already believe their claims (judging by the way they talk, anyway).
God gave us the gift of free will, and it is your right to use that gift as you wish. We can use it to please God, or to please ourselves. It is ultimately our choice.
You continue to talk as if you have demonstrated, to our acceptance, the validity of your god-claim. However, you have yet to even make this claim! Instead, you simply assume that we already accept your claim to be truthful!
This is one of the examples of the Christian greed that I described earlier: you want to hold this conversation as if you have already prevailed, and you want this privelege without first even making a move, much less succeeding in that first move. It doesn't work that way in real life: in order to speak as if your underlying claims hold water, you must first prevail in the underlying argument!
And yet because I challenge this claim (that you assume without even making), you want me to forfeit my right to post a web site?
Greed! It's that Christian greed, I tell you!
The fact that you have this site to proclaim that you do not believe in God is analogous to me deciding that I do not wish to play the guitar, but then buying a guitar so I can tell people "see this guitar, I choose not to play it".
Saying that I have this site for the purpose of proclaiming that I do not believe in God is two lies in one! (Is it a candy lie or is it a breath lie?)
First, the candy lie: like I mentioned above, as far as I've been able to determine, there is no "God" for me to not believe in! That is your job, remember? you are the one who claims that this thing called a "God" exists, so it is your responsibility to demonstrate the truthfulness of your claim.
But you have not gone so far as to even make this claim in the first place! No! You simply begin speaking to me as if you and I have already agreed that you are telling the truth when making this initial claim.
Secondly, the breath lie: I challenge you to go to our FAQ section and find a single editorial statement showing that the purpose of this web site is to proclaim anything about believing or not believing anything!
You will find no such description in our web site's FAQ section -- or anywhere else within the content of our editorial statement (the FAQ; the House Replies to over 1,500 Letters; the Monthly Column written by Cliff Walker: all other writings are posted for the reader's convenience).
First, the purpose of this web site is to find ways to put an end to the bigotry we atheists endure from all sides (this lying letter that you wrote to us, for example).
Secondly, its purpose is to uphold the principle of the separation of religion from government, as expressed by James Madison.
Finally, the purpose of this web site is to aid atheists in their quest to understand, accept, and even celebrate our heritage as people unencumbered by superstitious belief, as well as to seek mutual assistance from our fellow atheists who have likewise engaged in this quest.
This last element would include assisting those who grew up being force-fed religion (by the very parents they should have been able to trust), but who have since decided that continuing in said religious belief is akin to leading a life based in falsehood. Such people have a tough road ahead of them. I am uniquely qualified for this work because of my experience both of having been a long-term religious cult member (Calvary Chapel) and of having been raised in a family whose atheistic heritage goes back further than anybody who lived during my lifetime was able to determine (at least four full generations before me: both parents; all four grandparents; all the great-grandparents who bothered to divulge their status in this respect, and one great-great grandparent -- leading to the cultural epicenters of both the American and Victorian Freethought movements of the nineteenth century).
So, when you begin your otherwise silly attempt at refuting us with the premise that the purpose of this web site is to proclaim something about not believing something-or-other, where, then, did you come up with this idea?
I repeat: Where did you come up with this idea?
The answer is quite simple: you invented this notion in the privacy of your own imagination! Not a bit of what you say, here, is the result of any observations that you have made or any reasoning that you have performed.
No, you simply made it up as you were going along!
The only reason for this site I can see, from what little I have read here, is to defend yourselves.
See what I mean?
It seems that you feel that atheists are picked on, or vilified by Christians.
And after a letter like yours, you would dispute such a notion? After you join the average of two dozen Christians who will log on to our Forum today alone and start lying about us for the purpose of trying to convince us that Christianity is a position based in truthfulness and ours is an outlook based in lying and falsehood, you would question our claim that we are routinely vilified not just by rank-and-file Christians such as yourself but by politicians, and, most importantly, the very source of the problem, the paid Christian pulpits across the land.
You hire these men to lie to you, to come up with convincing-sounding rhetoric to help enable you to avoid facing the reality of biological life. That is your prerogative: be my guest! However, the problem with the paid pulpits of the Christians is that they do so at the expense of innocent people!
What you need to realize is that a true Christian would not take part in such activities.
I have shown that you not only vilified us -- without cause -- but that you went out of your way to do so, logging on to a web site that is clearly marked as having a target audience of atheists.
On top of that, you went so far as to lie about us during the course of your vilifying us!
Since by your own admission you are not a "true Christian," what, then, is the point of vilifying atheists? What have you to gain in so doing if you are not doing so for the purpose of upholding the reputation of the Christian faith?
Next time you and your fellow non-believers are criticized by a person claiming to be a Christian, remind them that Jesus did not teach us to judge one another, and perhaps they need to examine their own lives before examining someone else's.
I hate to have to be the one to break this to you, but your friend Jesus is alleged to have taught those who imagine his existence not to judge one another, but to examine their own lives before examining the lives of others.
I will go further: I strongly recommend that you examine the lives of others before commenting on them. By so doing you can avoid a world of embarrassment.
Have a nice life!
If you ever see a post on a Christian web site signed "Cliff Walker, Publisher, Positive Atheism Magazine," which serves only the one purpose of criticizing Christians or Christianity in general, I want you to immediately come up to me and slap me silly! For me to gratuitously criticize Christians or Christianity is so blatantly opposed to the core concepts of dignity that my human experience has taught me to uphold and to practice that if I ever did to anybody, for being a Christian, what you just did to me, for being an atheist -- even if I did so without resorting to the use of falsehood in my attempts to make my case -- then remind me of my promise to you that I will immediately close down this web site and cease publication of the magazine.
Now, if a Christian individual or group engages in activities that are, in only to say something about it but also to work diligently toward putting an end to this group or individual's intrusive, exploitative, or dangerous activities.
But simply for holding the viewpoint that Jesus is Christ or that all atheists will burn in the Christian Hell forever and ever (Amen!), you will hear not so much as a peep from me!
I choose to live my life as if this is our only crack -- ever -- to live, that is, to even exist! This is what I get and mine has not been a particularly happy life, having endured so many health problems and having disabilities which virtually guarantee that I'd live my life as a loner, I can't say that I've been dealt a very good hand.
However, if the tendency toward honesty, facing the facts, and following truth wherever she may lead is genetic, I got those genes in abundance. Ditto for compassion upon and empathy with all of life: I know that the goal of the Jainist is impossible, so I live like I do and suffer the feelings I get for being aware of the fact that life can exist only through cannibalism.
I have also experienced a variety of things that numerous people have told me they could only wish they had the nerve to even try to attain (those "Who Scared You?" experiences described by Ginsberg, Watts, Morrison, and others, experiences from which many, alas, do not return intact).
Probably the most brutal "Who scared you?" experience is to gaze directly into the eyes of the finality of death: to realize that in order to even be, we must ultimately die. Had I married my childhood buddy, one of us would have to bury the other -- unless we got lucky and died prematurely together during the same mishap.
Most of all, though, since we know that all memory is developed and maintained within the tissues of the brain, we thus realize that the brain must exist and be healthy for us to remember, to know, or even to experience conscious awareness: we cannot do this without a functioning nervous system. Thus we realize that when a brain becomes destroyed through death, with it goes the "person" who had at one time been established by means of that brain's structures, processes, growth, and experience.
In other words, when it's all over, it will be, for me, as if I had never existed in the first place.
Each of us is here because an overwhelmingly complex chain of events went down precisely the way they did, and had one small link had been different, a link as seemingly insignificant as which direction a dinosaur turned its head when it sneezed one day, neither you nor I would have ever existed at all. Until our gene pool had reached the point where it could self-sustain, humanity's eventual existence hung upon contingencies less tenuous than that!
Organisms evolved and those which obtained even the most rudimentary ability to detect certain aspects of their surroundings and to locomote their bodies toward sources of nourishment and away from prospects of becoming some other organism's source of nourishment gained advantage. Alterations that brought improvements to this system were always favored by natural selection whenever improvements of this kind could occur (and for many, such as the cockroach, the current system apparently annot be altered so as to effect an improvement).
The organisms which developed locomotion also developed a conscious awareness. However crude and rudimentary the sensory perception was for some of these organisms, however dim their sense of cognitive awareness, what they had was good enough to sustain the gene pool. Most had room for improvement, and the increasing competition for limited resources forced many strains to either improve or die off. Of course, whenever the system grew into a state of increased complexity, that is, whenever there was more and better "hardware" and a more efficient and accurate flow of "software," the sense of cotnigive awareness always became more sophisticated. This allowed species to develop, with their hardware and software, the capacity for elaborate social structures: the mating songs of birds, the pecking order of cats, the pack mentality of dogs: we all see these things in animals even if we refuse to acknowledge their counterparts in humans.
We can all see our arms in terms of levers and axles; we can see our middle-ear systems in terms of hammer, stirrup, and anvil. Then Pavlov demonstrated that a function as involuntary as salivation at the thought of food was purely "mechanical" as brain mechanisms go. How many other systems in the dog -- and in the human -- are just as mechanical, albeit much more sophisticated than the process of salivation or the desire for food and sex?
Why is it so hard, even for the evolutionist, to see the conscious, aware Self, in terms of mechanism, structure, chemical reaction, algorythm, the meta-system of a family unit, a clan, an entire species, and even the meta-meta-system involving not simply other species that live today, but in terms of events that have occurred over the course of millions of years?
Eventually, hope against hope and with no guidance whatsoever, we emerged, having grown (for some inexplicable reason) a neocortical cavity that was significantly larger than the rest of the brain's mass to be able to ponder these things. We were "blessed" (or "cursed") with the ability to see life (and death) for what it is.
This is how it works and we all know it: we all know that the atheist's position is more than simply "very strong." Then again, we also know that it's quite ominous, one that most would flee from if they could. I have not simply pondered your position, I have lived it. In addition, there is not a day that goes by where I don't break down in uncontrollable tears precisely because I know that your position is not true. This is all we get. Death is final. My little brother never got to live and never will.
Before my Grandma died, she used to say, "When you go, that's it! You're gone!" I think we all carry a very strong suspicion that death truly is the end. Everything about it points to the likelihood that we are organisms, period. Even the Christians will cry at a funeral, particularly that of a younster. Why? That young person never got to live much of a life at all! It's as if they're saying this is all there is to life, even though they'll look you stright in the eye and insist that there is a Heaven and that the deceased is now "with the Lord." This is always described as glory so great that all of life here on Earth pales to nothing by comparison. Bit tjeu
But they're still very, very sad whenever someone from among them enters this state of "glory"! And whenever this happens they usually insist with such vehemence that it's hard not to think of people desperately trying to convince themselves that the afterlife is really real!
Oh, she's "with the Lord," all right! If He existed, he died and is gone like the rest of us go.
My Grandma is gone, and she will never live again. For her it is as if she never had been. All that's left of her having lived is in our memories, the works that she did, the single childless son that she bore, and the numerous others that she and her Half-Breed Mother's extended family nurtured into adulthood.
Being neither White nor Indian, rejected by both cultures, the family became free from cultural baggage. This cultural influence, of course, is the single most powerful source of religiosity going. Almost every religious person alive today belongs to the very same sect to which his or her family belonged. Some do switch, usually for marriage purposes and less often out of conviction.
I hate to be the one to have to inform you that the single most popular change of religious affiliation happens to include those who jettison religious faith altogether. My skills, talents, and (most of all) vast range of experience in these matters give me a unique qualification to help others adjusat from the propaganda-induced faith-based outlook to one based solely upon one's own human faculties, my work is cut out for me and there is no shortage.
And you think you can affect me by treating as literally true the allegories of an ancient anti-Semitic political tract designed to keep the dregs of Roman society under control?
The single most common argument I get from Christians on this Forum goes something like this:
How could you stand it if this was all there is? How could you even function without a purpose for living?
I will pray for you
If this did not pale in comparison to the other matters, I'd invite you to take a good hard look at what you just wrote, here, and see just how better-than-thou rude you look for saying this to a known atheist -- particularly when all you know about that atheist is the fact that he is an atheist!
Ah, but we're Christians! We want to be able to act boorishly if we want to, nose-in-the-air insolence, even! But no way are we willing tocthe consequences normally wrought by such behavior! We shouldn't have to: we're xzhappen to me or bad things. All I ask is that you keep me out of it. When you tell me you'll pray for me in the context that you have done here, what you're saying is that you are superior to me.
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