Atheists: PAM's Target
Audience (Here's Why)
Rob Dirne

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <>
To: "Rob Dirne"
Subject: Re: Human_Love_As_Proof_Of_God's_Existence_9627
Date: Friday, June 08, 2001 3:55 PM

Rev. McDowell:

As I mentioned to you several times in private responses to your almost nonstop attempts to get your views posted on our web site, Positive Atheism is here for the benefit of people who are already atheists. If you wish to give air to your views, we suggest that you whip out your credit card and purchase your own domain and web space, pay for your own promotion, and work almost full-time for several years to build a reputation for yourself. I refuse to foot the bill to give air to lengthy material which is of such a low quality and of such a desperate nature that it is not even worth my time to address.

To respond to this one letter (just to showcase the depths of depravity to which Christian fundamentalism will prompt people to stoop):

You don't have to be here! I told you several times, in private requests to leave us alone, that the Positive Atheism Magazine web site has, as her target audience, people who are already atheists. We have nothing to say to people who believe in gods and the supernatural.

Why do you continue to obsess on our web site? Why can't you just move on and do something more constructive than reading material that you find so controversial that it just sends you into conniption fits? This is not healthy at all. At all.

Nevertheless, you remain a believer?

We are not asking or expecting anybody to believe anything we have posted or published. We assume that readers are smart enough both to read what we have posted and published, and then to assess what they have read and come to their own conclusions (or suspend judgment, as the case may be).

No matter how simply and clearly I explain the fig tree controversy, there are a few Christians who sit there and stubbornly refuse to even read what I have written. Instead, they pretend to respond to something else entirely, suggesting that such Christians have cribbed their "response" from a pat "explanation" out of one of those "Bible difficulties" books -- sold by the box-load, for a premium price, at Fundamentalist Christian bookstores across the country. This almost blind refusal to even read what I've written speaks volumes about just what a sore point the whole fig tree story is for those who take the Bible much more seriously than the fig tree passages (and many others) suggest that we ought.

1. It doesn't matter what the "Bible difficulties" books say about when fig season starts -- Mark himself tells us it was not fig season, giving this as the reason why no figs were on the tree. Got that? Mark -- the Bible -- tells us it was not fig season and says that's why there were no figs. Dancing around the two-month gap between when the story is alleged to have taken place and when the more popular "Bible difficulties" books tell us the season starts serves only to provide you with justification for using haughty, emotionally charged language with which to attempt to make it appear to the casual reader that you might have a point. But your particular "Bible difficulties" book appears to place the beginning of the "inerrancy" fig season much earlier than even the ones I've read. Perhaps the "Bible difficulties" book authors are becoming more desperate due to my popularization of the Fig Tree Enigma over the past decade.

2. Misquoting me, that is, responding as if I expressed views that I did not express, will not change anything, either. I never once even implied that I thought the fig tree withered right before their very eyes the following day ("It doesn't say it withered as they passed by, which it didn't, since it had already withered immediately the day before"). Your behavior, here, clearly shows you to be grasping at straw -- chaff -- which is the only thing that the inerrancy position has left you to grope for.

3. Trying to portray this as a moral "lesson" of some sort does not resolve the problem of a Bible character killing a tree in response to it not having fruit! (That it wasn't even fig season is beside the point!) Even if it is only a moral lesson and never really happened, this moral lesson teaches violence as a way to solve a problem or settle a dispute -- not a lesson I would want my kids to learn (or anyone else's kids, for that matter, because we all live in the same world).

4. Neither does portraying this as "symbolism" solve the violence problem: the symbolism here is the notion that a destroying a people group (assuming the fig tree to symbolize the Jews) is a valid response to their not acting the way one thinks they ought to act or, in this case, believing the way one thinks they ought to believe. Again, please do not teach this lesson to any children!

5. The fig tree in the story did not simply "become dried up" as you imply by your symbolically applying the story to an individual's life; rather, it was willfully and deliberately destroyed (withered) at the behest the Jesus character, in response to his disappointment over not getting a meal.

6. Stretching the wording of the passages and looking for subtleties at the molecular level, in order to smooth out a contradiction which is apparent from a natural reading of the passage, does not fare well with me. According to the natural reading, the disciples in Matthew marveled over how it withered right then and there. In Mark, they noticed it withered the next day and marveled the next day, acting (according to a natural reading of the text) as if this was their first experience with someone cursing a tree and it actually withering -- rather than the curse being merely a symbolic gesture, or metaphorical, or done one morning in a fit of pique (sing rickety tickety tin).

From every appearance, Matthew was trying to correct the various mistakes in Mark, and Luke was trying to improve both Matthew and Mark. We have every reason but one to believe that the early Jesus groups were in competition with one another, that they were trying to outdo one another.

Why does so much of your case rest upon the Straw Man and the False Dichotomy?

So, do you think Mormon charlatan Joseph Smith was murdered for telling the truth? Smith wouldn't have died for his cause had he actually known that he plagiarized the Book of Mormon and invented the Golden Plates tale!

Again: Why does so much of your case rest upon the False Dichotomy?

I do not like to discuss the god question with Fundamentalist Christians because I do not like to deal with dishonest people! I explained this to you several different ways in my brief responses to your earlier blather (none of which I intend to post because, as I explained, I do not wish to provide you with free web space). You must think I am a monumental liar, because I gently hinted, several times, that I do not wish to converse with you. Then I stated outright, forcefully (and at least once, even rudely), that I do not wish to continue playing your little game.

I have nothing to say to Christians in general and I have nothing to offer to dishonest people in particular. Thus I have suggested, several times, that you go find some other atheist to practice your skills at psychological warfare -- some atheist who can spare precious time out of her or his life for the purpose of chasing the shadow of hope that a dishonest Fundamentalist Christian just might some day listen to reason or find honor in practicing truthfulness (or that such an event, even if it did occur, would matter). I, for one, do not pretend to have this hope with dishonest Fundamentalist Christians in general, and I certainly do not hold out this hope with you in particular. I don't care what you think. At all. Just leave me alone, okay?

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

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