Where Do Atheists
Find Hope, Inner Peace?
[name withheld]

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: [name withheld]
Subject: Re: A question of hope
Date: October 19, 2001 7:50 PM

I have found the equivalent of the "peace of mind" that you describe. I don't need the soothing ritual of prayer and meditation or the numbing effect of believing a comfortable myth. I also get the full sense of camaraderie found amongst a congregation of friendly, like-minded believers. What I don't have to deal with is the exclusivism of the "us-versus-them" mentality (which is likewise an age-old source of false comfort).

This can be found in the local pub, among other places. The best place to find it, I believe, is in the family. I am not fortunate enough to have a family, so I make my own at the pub. I could do it anywhere, a pool hall, organizing for the Union, marching in the streets against police brutality, creating a business (such as Positive Atheism, though PAM lacks the element of physical contact), literally anywhere. I happen to have put all my social eggs into the pub's basket at this time in my life.

There is nothing -- nothing -- that religion has that cannot be found apart from religion, that is, without religion. This includes the good things and the bad things: the threat of anthrax is just as frightening as the threat of the Christian Hell. If you can find something -- anything -- that can be had only with religion, something that is so easily verified that we both can agree that it exists, then I will agree to change my opinion on this matter. However, I have looked into all the common claims of advantage made by religionists and cannot find any that are unique to religion. This makes sense if there is no God, because the religionists are getting their "comfort" from somewhere -- and it ain't God -- so it must therefore be obtained naturally. So if they can get it, why can't we? Well, we can! We must simply figure out what we want and go out and get it! If it costs money, open up your wallet; if it invovles work or sacrifice, bend down or bend over. Do what you think it takes to do what you think you want to do and be willing to pay the price.

What about the "comfort" of knowing that there is an afterlife? Well (I respond), you don't really know, you only hope, you merely believe. If you derive comfort from a promise, a phantom, go for it. I never derived comfort from "knowing" that there is an afterlife even when I was a Christian, because this was not something that I could verify, it was something that I was merely told to trust (I Corinthians 15). And at that, it always seemed so utterly contrived. When I was a Christian, the afterlife was one of the least of my preoccupations.

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

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: [name withheld]
Subject: Re: A question of hope
Date: October 20, 2001 7:10 AM

I have heard this one before. It's circular reasoning, because it defines "joy" as something that one can get only by being a Christian. Watch this:
 

Aha! You see what you just did? Joy is defined here as something that "one can have in a relationship with God"!
 

I was born an atheist and raised that way, too. I became a Christian thinking that I needed something extra in my life, that I couldn't run my life on my own. I later verified what I initially suspected when I first joined: the Christian religion is a fraud. Thus, I no longer believe the claims of the Christian church and have reverted to the atheism of my fathers.
 

I just got through with a letter from someone who castigated me up one side and down the other for not respecting Christians. The deal was that I don't think the government ought to be in the Gospel Tent-Show racket, and he thought I was disrespecting George Bush's right to believe, and that I ought to respect President Bush's religious beliefs. Well, George Bush has the right to believe whatever he wants, but when he turns the Presidency or a national day of mourning into an infomercial for the Christian religion he is breaking the law and trampling my Religious Liberty.

Unfortunately, this fellow then began to lie to me about American history!

No, I will not and cannot respect somebody who will lie -- especially if they are lying for the purpose of squashing my Religious Liberties (or to take IanythingI away from me, or anybody else, for that matter)! And after castigating me like that? C'mon! You tell me this is the best example of morality that your religion can produce? Sounds greedy, if you ask me!

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