Atheists Criticize
The God-Idea,
Not God Himself!
Mark Schumaker

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Mark Schumaker"
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section: Epicurus to Christ
Date: September 04, 2002 3:43 AM

Interesting: I've never before heard Christ quoted as saying that! Are you sure? How do you know?

Oh, yeah, that's right! "You've got a lot to live, and Pepsi's Jesus's got a lot to give!" Or how about "I found it!" Etcetera. How long have the makers of the god-man been putting the wisdom of the world (not to mention it's most effective advertising jingles) into the mouth of the One who will not stand to be upstaged by a soft drink or a pizza joint.
 

Precisely!

The problem is not with "God," what you say is the object of your idea, which, by the way, you have failed to show even exists. Rather, the problem is with us for making claims that we cannot verify. As for the rest of us, who are not making (essentially) false claims, we're still in deep doo-doo for tolerating such behavior without challenge. In so doing, we are as guilty as those who speak the falsehood, at least in the sense that we have no business complaining about the tragic consequences of living in a society that is utterly overcome by superstition.

The atheist's criticism of "God" is a criticism of humankind, but what you've been going around and telling people about us is not true: Our criticism of "God" is not the criticism of a "thing" or an "object" named "God"; rather, our criticism is that of an idea! Specifically, we criticize the god-claim; that is, we criticize the very popular claim that a thing called "God" exists which defies all attempts to detect its presence, thus defying any attempts to verify the truthfulness of the god-claims.

A concept: what a concept!

And to think that you've been telling people for all these years (even your own children, I suppose) that atheists criticize God Himself!

I beg your pardon! We do no such thing!

When I (and most other thinking atheists) say the word God in a context similar to the Epicurean Riddle, we are criticizing an idea and nothing more.

I cannot criticize the object of an idea if the idea remains but an idea and has yet to be associated with a verifiably tangible object. Until then, all I can criticize is the idea! I cannot criticize the object unless you show me the object!

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Note: We atheists and other nontheists will never see an end to the brutal bigotry leveled against us from every side (especially your side) unless you and people like you become willing to stop lying about us, stop misrepresenting our position!

In addition: You must think we atheists are pretty stupid when you say that we criticize God Himself! Why? Because who in their right mind would go up against a deity such as that described in the Christian Bible if we knew that such a being existed!? Only the foulest abject fools would do such a thing!

To this notion I have two responses:

First, I am offended to the core of my being that you would even suggest such a thing about me, especially since you don't even know me!

Secondly, I cannot for the life of me understand why it is that so many people who do believe in the Bible God (or so they tell me) and yet the log on to my Forum and LIE, LIE, LIE like there's no tomorrow, while at the same time threatening me with an eternity's worth of tomorrows roasting on a slow-turning spit simply for refusing to believe their lies! Unless you can show that the idea accurately describes something that is demonstrably real, something that is demonstrably and consistently tangible, something that is demonstrably and consistently and universally detectable, and unless you can do this without any major controversy, we are not having a dialogue.

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Before you can discuss your god-claim with me, you must show that what you claim exists is something that you and I can both approach and agree that we have sensed this and that sensory perceptions, have made thus and so measurements, have performed hither and thither calculations, have worked out helter and skelter inductions and deduction, unless we can agree that the object of your idea exists in time-space, we are not having a dialogue.

And we can never have a dialogue unless and until you do one of two things:

First, you might demonstrate that the object of your idea exists, and do so in a manner that I and hundreds of millions of non-Christians would be able to say in all truth, "Okay, I see that!"

Secondly, you might roll back your railroad train of an argument just a tad and admit that you are not talking about an object, but are expressing an idea, that is, making a claim.

Since I doubt very seriously that you'll have much luck with Door Number One, I strongly urge you to enter Door Number Two and restate what you just said in the terms I described above.

As far as this discussion goes, the two of us agree on one thing and one thing only: we both agree that you are making a claim, an existential claim, to be exact. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and admit that I have never heard YOUR god-claim; however, I have heard perhaps as many as 4,000 different Christ-claims in the past 30 years. (I had never heard of Christ until I was well into my teens; our family for at least four generations is strictly atheistic with a strong old-school Unitarian base and a splash of "Cultural Islam" in the same sense that some call themselves "Cultural Jews" and "Cultural Catholics.")

I have heard about 4,000 different claims that Christ is someone that I ought to pay attention to for some reason. However, nobody has yet shown me why I ought to do this! Many have gotten real wide-eyed and started threatening me with this thing called "Hell fire" but again, this is just an idea, a claim, unless and until it can be independently verified by anybody who does whatever it is that y'all do to verify the truthfulness of these claims.

And frankly, even though it is my policy to presuppose that all of you have or think you have valid reasons for thinking the way you do, sometimes I find it almost impossible to imagine that so much as a one of you has lifted a finger toward verifying what you people circle the globe telling other people is fact!

And if you could come up with a way for me to independently verify that what you say is true (your claim that God and Christ exist, as implied in your letter), then I would become your very next convert. I have been making this offer for years: Cough up a god and I'll believe!

Ah, but this is not something that Christians do, unfortunately for the credibility of their testimony.

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

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