Belief: Just Thought
In The Mind, And
Needing No Proof
Eyal Porat

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Eyal Porat"
Subject: Re: "We Will Pray For You Always -- Cam Pearl"
Date: August 22, 2001 9:38 PM

Thank you for your comments! This is a very good perspective to keep in mind when dealing with people who approach us and try to change our basic philosophical outlook -- as if they know best how we ought to live our lives.
 

Our whole point is to support ourselves as atheists, not to try to convince theists of anything. So if it helps us to cope or if it reduces the incidence of them behaving this way, I'm all for it. For me to carry it further and try to change his views is to make the same mistake he's making with me.

If we can convince some of them to treat us with more dignity, all the better. (The Cam Pearl letter is a classic example of my attempt to do just that.) But if all I got out of that exchange was a clearer picture of the fact that he is not being very polite toward me (whether he's being an oaf or whether he is simply misguided), then that is sufficient to help me cope with some of the indignity that we endure almost daily when our views are well known.

In this case, since I posted the exchange, we all may benefit from this one experience. We can also hope for additional input such as what you have provided for us (I will cross-link the two posts). Since my spin on this situation is (I think) unique (I haven't seen it elsewhere), the possibility exists that I'm the one who is wrong. By posting this exchange, I am more likely to find out if I am wrong for objecting to his announcing to me that he's praying for me.

And perhaps Mr. Pearl (or some other reader) will think twice before announcing to an atheist that he is praying for them. Since this behavior is just one manifestation of the attitude of superiority that goes along with certain types of theism (particularly monotheism), perhaps some will be able to see the root causes and make some changes there.

At minimum, it is we atheists who need to be able to see this behavior for what it is -- to demystify it -- and thus better be able to cope when it happens to us. It is much tougher to cope when something happens to us and we experience uncomfortable feelings but do not know why we feel this way. By being able to pinpoint what is happening, we can identify our feelings and perhaps even prevent ourselves from wondering if it's something we did wrong.

Never has it been my goal (or that of Positive Atheism) to convince a theist to deconvert to atheism. To do that is to commit the same error that Cam Pearl committed, by assuming that we know better than he what is best for him. I fail to see his point about the existence of gods -- I remain unconvinced by his (or any other) god-claims -- and that's as far as I take it. If he eventually decides to deconvert, and has any questions, I'll (hopefully) be available to him to help him through that extremely rough transition. In lieu of that, the only thing I have to say to him was that his remark to me, announcing to me that he would pray for me simply because I am an atheist, was off the wall.

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

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