On Jim Versluys's Piece
About Atheist Groups
Gil Gaudia

Dear Mr. Versluys:

Since you apparently are not someone who needs approval or praise I am reluctant to write to you about my agreement with so much of what you say in "Why Most Atheists Will Never Join...." I too have no horror story about religion from my childhood. I had a Catholic father and a Jewish mother and I used to wear both a Miraculous Medal and a Star of David (to ward off catastrophe). I strongly identify with your description of growing up and experiencing a "steady de-believing" because of a "natural inclination toward the philosophical questions of life". I would accompany my Catholic friends to confession and wait outside for them and ask them when they came out if they could now go and repeat all the evils they had just committed with impunity. They gleefully admitted that they could and I was incredulous. I accompanied my Jewish friends to their training sessions for their Bar Mitzvahs and was similarly astounded by the lack of consistency between the rituaIs they had just performed and their behavior on the streets (of The Bronx) only hours afterward.

I also agree with your descriptions of atheists who are capable of the most rigorous analyses of biblical fallacies and at the same time behave like idiots in most other areas of human interaction. It could be called "compartmentalization" meaning that we all are capable of restricting our powers of reason to the domains that we choose to and allowing our psyches to run roughshod selectively over people and subjects we don't like. That might explain your apocryphal criticism of Einstein and his alleged racism. If he was "a prick to many people", it is possible that he justified it with the socially acceptable view of the 1920's that blacks were a subspecies of homo sapiens. In other respects from what I have read about him he seemed like a man of high ethical values and great social responsibility.

You might be right, that there are no atheist organizations you (or I) would care to join. I simply just haven't done my homework as you apparently have. The few web sites I've visited such as skeptic.com seem to me to be quite interesting and free of major lunatic infestations I've never attended an atheist organization meeting. The closest I've come is joining a Unitarian Church when my children were small because my wife and I believed kids needed to have some religious upbringing and Unitarians seemed the least dangerous of the lot. Nevertheless I cannot as yet rule out the possibility that one exists. I have paid for a subscription to Cliff Walker's Positive Atheism; does that qualify as "joining"? Maybe you and I suffer from the "Groucho Marx Syndrome".

I have a few questions. When you say there is only one person you would care to hold a conversation with "and he is printing this piece that you see right now", can you possibly be referring to yourself, as I and two other very competent readers agree (one is my wife)? Or do you mean, as we all hope, Cliff Walker, because that at least absolves you of hubris.

Secondly, what is the evidence of Einstein's racism? I'd be interested in reading about that since he is on my list of persons I most admire.

Third, and least important, why in an otherwise well-written, serious and thought-provoking article do you include jarring and inconsistent terms like "prick" and "bunny-fucking my girlfriend"? These completely legitimate and useful descriptions in other contexts seem inappropriately chosen simply because they clash with the tonal quality of the rest of the work. As one who himself has frequently erred in this department I have developed the habit of having my wife critically evaluate my creations before displaying them to public view. I assure you that this practice has frequently (unfortunately, not always) prevented me from introducing an intrusive distraction into otherwise well-received writing.

Gil Gaudia, Ph.D.

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