Bible Study Banned
In Connecticut? Right!

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine"
To: "Mel"
Subject: To Continue Writing Here, You Must Stop Your Misrepresentation of Atheists
Date: Saturday, February 17, 2001

I only ridicule ridiculous god claims. If your god claim makes sense, you'll be the first. Also, if your god claims are worthy of assent, I'll convert to theism.

You, however, have a long way to go with me because you have started off on the wrong foot by slandering the atheistic position and making (feeble) attempts to ridicule it by calling it "a faith" and a "religion." You'll have to overcome that hurdle before you have any credibility with me.

Ah, but you do a good job at being condescending, in that you claim to have read some of my material, yet you continue to slander atheism and call it something that it is not. Not only that, you take several jabs at atheism -- rather, at your misrepresentation of the atheistic position. If this is not condescending, then perhaps I've been reading the wrong dictionaries.

This is because Christian bigotry has forced these atheists to pretend to be Christians in order even to get along. Meanwhile, the statistics only tell who claims to be a Christian. And again, many claim to be Christian because they've seen what happens to those of us who admit that we aren't Christians.

I want to see your study. I've been looking for ways to increase the credibility of unbelief, and if I could find some studies that go against most of the ones that assert that the majority of Americans are Christian, I could probably point to these to counter those who tell me that I'm wrong simply because so many Americans are Christian!

Besides, you slander agnostics and atheists by calling our position "a faith" when our position is the very lack of faith.

This is worded like a broad-brush generalization, but I cannot for the life of me determine what you're trying to paint with this broad brush.

Meanwhile, you're wrong: I don't believe I'm right; I merely have yet to encounter a god-claim that holds water.

The reason I do this work is because I have been discriminated against and slandered way too many times and I want people to stop slandering the atheistic position and to stop slandering me for being an atheist. I repeat: an atheist is one who lacks a god belief, who has not heard a claim for the existence of gods that holds water or makes sense. What is it about my position that you find so repulsive that you would go to the length of slandering me by calling my position "a faith"?

I don't have a religion, so I have nothing to prove. I am not making any claims. I only state that nobody who has claimed the existence of gods has given me a convincing reason to go along with their lunacy.

You must be willing to back your statement that atheism is rightly called "a faith" (when it is, in fact, the very lack of that faith that distinguishes religious people from nonreligious people) and you must be willing to back your statement that atheism is rightly called a "religion" (when atheism is the very absence of religion). If you can show me that in doing this you do not intend to slander us or to degrade us, I will be happy to conduct a dialogue with you and will be happy to hear your claims.

However, if you continue to slander me and to make fun of the atheistic position without providing good reasons as to why it is worthy of ridicule, I will ask you to stop writing to this domain. Do I make myself clear?

Once more: atheism is the default position. We all start out without a god belief of any kind. Later, some of us are taught to believe in gods. Still later, a few of us realize that we've been duped and that the fairy tales we were taught are not true. So, we revert to atheism.

With atheism, there's nothing to be skeptical about, because atheism, the lack of a god belief, is the default position.

What if God doesn't exist, and this is all in your head?

You see, this is why I don't try to de-convert people to atheism -- like you are trying to convert me to theism by trying to discredit the atheistic position.

Anybody is welcome to be my friend; however, I am unwilling to hang with people who lie either to me or about me. I'd rather be alone than with a liar.

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

Graphic Rule

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine"
To: "Mel"
Subject: To Continue Writing Here, You Must Stop Your Misrepresentation of Atheists
Date: Monday, February 19, 2001

Why do you agree with rejecting someone for being an atheist?

We have found that if we, for example, cross out the "I believe in God" section of, for example, an application to become a Notary Public, at least one of us has had to go to the United States Supreme Court in order to get a job. I have found that if I remain silent about my atheism, I get along just fine. But, if it becomes known that I'm an atheist, things change for the worse.

Ah! That's very convenient!

Meanwhile, since all the studies I've seen that explore this matter contradict what you tell me your studies show, I hereby accuse you of lying to me.

An agnostic insists that one cannot know. I do not go that far. The definition I've given you for the word atheism is the one that has been used by atheistic writers and philosophers almost unanimously since the Enlightenment (when being an atheist stopped being a capital offense in Europe and America).

Why do I have such a tough time believing you on this?

Did I call you a lune? Mercy! I thought I was describing a set of ideas as "lunacy"!

I never thought ideas had feelings and could get offended.

Meanwhile, if you want to make degrading jokes about atheists among your fellow-believers, calling the lack of religion a religion may get you a few laffs, particularly from those who place a higher priority on tribal totem loyalism than they place on truthfulness or the proper use of logic. But approaching an atheist you've never met and suggesting -- right off the bat -- that her or his lack of religion is a religion can easily sound like fightin' words.

Atheism is a religious viewpoint only in the sense that it is an opinion about religion. Wherever your right to be religious is protected by law, my right to avoid or reject religion is equally protected (although this equality is not enforced equitably except in some of the more progressive European countries; when George II takes away our freedom from religion, you can kiss your religious freedom goodbye as well because freedom always means freedom from an imposition or restriction).

How can we talk at all, when the bulk of your end of the discussion has thus far been to misrepresent my position?

I never understood how anyone could possibly find slandering people or lying to them to be interesting. Perhaps you could enlighten me on this.

Why would you want to give me "stuff to think about" unless part of your goal was to change my mind, that is, to see me converted? By trying to make my position look stupid (and especially when you turned down the only counter-question that I specifically asked because, "I cannot purposely aid you in making people unbelievers, right?"), you are trying to convert me. Remember: I did not write to you, you wrote to me! I have stated hundreds of times that I don't care if any theist reverts back to atheism. In several cases, I have stated explicitly that I'd just as soon see a particular theist continue to stump for theism because in so doing they serve only to make my position look better.

Meanwhile, I am willing to listen, as evidenced by the over 2,600 different letters posted on my website plus another over 300 waiting for me to have the time to format them plus thousands that have never even been considered for posting! If I have yet to hear a convincing case for joining the majority of humans in their theism, then it's only right that I keep my mind open to the possibility that I might be wrong, that there might actually be gods out there. However, up to this point in my life, I have only encountered theists in four categories: (1) their arguments are not very convincing; (2) their arguments are unintelligible (or their god is ineffable or "unknowable"); (3) I discover that they are lying to me, presenting verifiably false information to me in their attempt to convince me that mine is a position of falsehood or that theirs is a position of truthfulness; (4) they won't discuss their religion with others because they think religion is a private matter.

However, unless your religion remains a private matter, you open your position up to criticism. In the public forum you have no right to be protected against the free criticism of those who do not hold the views you espouse. Unless and until Mayor Giuliani renders criticism of religion a "hate crime," we are free to respond to the claims of religionists and to express how we feel about those views. Theists have right to demand that their claims be treated as sacred or to preach without challenge.

Thus, when the argument I am listening to does not hold water, I will not remain silent. Not only that, I will show precisely why the argument does not make a case with me by returning my objections to the argument. When I don't understand what someone is saying I go, "Huh?" (and rarely is it due to any lack on my part, seeing as how the English language is my niche of expertise, with a minor in philosophy from the School of Hard Knocks). If what I'm listening to is a lie, I will call it a lie and show it to be a lie. When what I am listening to is slander, I will call it slander -- not only that, I will show why I think it's slander by first telling the truth and then showing how it is easy to interpret that person's particular wording as abusive or derogatory.

I never said I was jailed for my lack of belief: I was placed on a 30-day hold for refusing a court order to undergo religious instruction in the form of a faith-based rehabilitation program. At the time, all such rehabilitation programs in Oregon and Washington were faith-based. The fact is that I did nothing to warrant being ordered into a rehabilitation program in the first place was beside the point: I was willing to do what the judge said as long as it didn't involve undergoing religious instruction. This was the first time I ever called myself an atheist; until then, I was simply "not religious." Unfortunately for America, this one particular religion has a monopoly in this particular field of rehabilitation, and their religious instruction is the only game in town. And they have convinced the authorities and society that not only is rehabilitation of this nature needed (it isn't) but also that rehabilitation works better than no rehabilitation (it doesn't).

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

Graphic Rule

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine"
To: "Mel"
Subject: To Continue Writing Here, You Must Stop Your Misrepresentation of Atheists
Date: Tuesday, February 20, 2001


But do you think I am justified in feeling short-changed?

I need to see this. Who is sponsoring the studies? How much extra traffic and noise do the neighbors have to endure? Does the law specify Bible meaning it's okay to have at-home Koran studies? Why has this not been covered by the ACLU News Service? They'd love to get their hands on a case like this one!

This sounds like Cal Thomas's report about little Ashley Pollack, of Millcreek Township School District in suburban Erie, Pennsylvania, who was informed that she "must not write or even speak about religion in school." Or how Pat Robertson's report about little 5-year-old Shannon of Kingsville, Texas, who was told by her teachers that she couldn't say grace over her meal?

You know what? Neither Ashley not Shannon even exist! The Rev. James Watkins of the Old South Church of Christ in Kirtland, Ohio, has made a very thorough study of claims of Christians' rights being violated in America -- kids not being allowed to pray silently; kids not being allowed to talk about Jesus even with their fellow-Christians; people being reprimanded, suspended and even fired because of their beliefs and participation relating to prayer in public schools -- and Rev. Watkins concludes that they are all "lies, lies, and damned lies." Watkins writes that those with the wild assertions, "when asked by informed investigators ... are unable to produce one bona fide instance of a student's right to pray being violated by a public school official anywhere."

Not too long ago, the story circulated of an atheistic University professor at USC who would "prove" that there is no God by challenging "God" to keep a piece of chalk from breaking as he'd drop it onto the floor. Well, the story goes, the chalk slipped out of his hand, rolled down his trouser leg, and fell gently to the floor without breaking, wherein the good professor promptly ran out the door -- wherein the Christian who had challenged him took to the lectern and "shared his faith" with 300 students. Regan Lowery, a former Positive Atheism correspondent and a Christian who denounces the use of fraud to spread the Gospel, asked USC to verify the accuracy of this story. Professor Dallas Willard, who had been there for thirty-two years, affirmed that nothing like this happened during the time he was here. There have been no professors that meet the detailed description of the atheist villain, and USC offers no classes that meet the description of the one in which this incident is alleged to have occurred.

In discussing where the story had come from, Edwin McCann, Director of the School of Philosophy at USC told Lowery:

"The answer is surprisingly straightforward: it is a transformation of a story (itself perhaps apocryphal) published in the book 70 Years of Miracles by Richard H. Harvey (Beaverlodge, Alberta Canada: Horizon House, 1977). The story is set out in chapter 11, 'The Flask Story,' pp. 63-66. In the first paragraph of the chapter Harvey says that he has been telling the story 'for more than forty years,' which would date its occurrence (supposing it did occur) to the mid-thirties at the latest. It is interesting to note that Harvey does not relate a personal experience, but at best is passing along hearsay; he does not give the source of the story, and the only corroboration he offers is the report of a woman he met 'a few years ago' -- hence long after the incident allegedly occurred -- that she had taken this class from the same professor and 'heard him make the same challenge' (in other words she does not claim to have witnessed the incident.)"
     -- letter to Reagan Lowery dated 19 November 1998

So, at-home Bible studies have been declared illegal "in, I think Connecticut," but those of us who monitor closely any and all compromises of religious freedom don't know about it?


You see, I would die this evening if I knew that doing so would guarantee your right to practice your religion without fear of reprisal. I'd do this for two reasons: First, the Altruist in me tells me that you have every right to believe however you wish. Secondly, my selfish side wants to maintain (and in some sense, acquire) the right to reject religion without fear. However, the only way I can be free to reject your religious views is for you to have the right to hold your views; the only way for me to be able to voice my opposition to the religion you practice is for you to be able to advocate that others practice your way of life. And the inverse is also true: your right to openly profess religion requires my right to openly reject it.

I would and I have: several place in my editorial column I have described why I became a Christian during my early 20s. Throughout the Positive Atheism Forum I allow Christians and others to present their case. In fact, I openly challenge people to make their case for believing that gods exist. Among the 3,000 or so letters that we've either posted or slated for posting lie some of the finest arguments for the existence of gods that humankind has pondered. To be rejected from our forum, a letter must be poorly written, poorly thought out, and arrogant to the point of hatefulness. But mostly, it is the letters that are virtually unreadable that get rejected, and I promise you that you yourself would just as soon not have these things representing your side of the argument. If you want to see some of the finest arguments for believing in Christ, check our Letters section. You'll see my response, to be sure, and I will not tell you which letter once had me on the verge of conversion, but the letters are there. Not all theists who write to Positive Atheism are jackasses.

Why would I do this? Because truth is more important to me than ideology; truth is more important than being an atheist or even retaining the value of my investment in Positive Atheism. If someone were to make a convincing case that I ought to take up faith in Quetzalcoatl, I would drop what I'm doing and pursue faith in that Aztec plumed serpent of yore. I submit to Liberal Scientific Method, and will follow truth wherever it may lead. I submit to Liberal Scientific Method which forces me to submit my own views to the most rigorous of scrutiny, and to accept the findings of that scrutiny. I submit to Liberal Scientific Method where one of the greatest joys is to be shown that one's pet theory is erroneous -- because this means that we have all come to a greater understanding of the world around us.

I consider this a classic example of the core dishonesty that I find so abhorrent in so many forms of religion.

Meanwhile, the best debaters can successfully argue either side of the question. Larry King once told of a debate he had on his radio talk show. I forgot who the participants were or what the issue was, but I'll bet this incident is described in his first book, because he was telling the story about the time he wrote that book. (I submitted a spoof of King's show in 1980, and he played it during the break after Jackie Gleason was the guest: Gleason got to hear my work!) Anyway, after the debate, the three of them went out, and King challenged the two guests to take opposite sides just for fun. These guys were serious about arguing their position, and I guess had never heard of swapping sides, but they tried it. King says that the debate was superior in every way to the debate that aired on the radio show. It turns out that in order to be on guard, you must know every trick that the other side is capable of pulling -- and you must know your weak points (I certainly know mine).

So, are you afraid that you might find out that most studies contradict the one you described? that religion in general and Christianity in particular have been on the rise in America since 1776? reaching one peak during the 1950s and reaching an all-new high during the Reagan administration? Are you afraid to submit the study you've read to my test? Do you not have any faith in your own ability to think things through and to asses apparently conflicting data?

I am not asking you to submit your faith to empirical testing, articles of faith cannot be tested in that manner. But you are talking about how many of whom are members of what church denomination -- this is the stuff of Liberal Scientific Method, and we both serve only to gain by sorting out the truth in this seeming contradiction. We're not talking an article of faith, but a matter of fact.

No. Some agnostics rule out the possibility of anybody ever knowing. I simply don't rule out this possibility.

I am quite convinced that I have heard all of the major arguments for the existence of gods, and I think I have weighed them quite honestly, seeking truth rather than to bolster the position I currently hold (that's how I came to the position I hold, which differs significantly from the views I held fifteen years ago, moments before I rejected the notions of supernatural help and the "All-Is-One" idea of some pantheists and the interconnectedness of Jungian synchronicity. Now, I made this decision with a revolver pointed to my head, but I made it nonetheless. Years before that, I rejected the notion that the Bible is telling the truth. This decision took me years to complete. By then, I had read the Bible cover-to-cover eleven times, and have read it cover-to-cover once since then (and still study it today). However, if there is an argument that I haven't heard, it's because whoever holds it is not working very hard at presenting it to the public forum -- perhaps it is known only to an isolated tribe, or perhaps only the ETs know it.

But if there is a god who wants us to know about His existence, and if that god has the power both to plant convincing arguments into the minds of His followers and to inspire them to want to share those arguments with others, then I'd say that that god has not done a very good job at achieving this goal: He is, and always has been, "The Hidden God."

I will not degrade you, personally, but the point of philosophy is to assess for oneself the questions that have challenged humankind as far back as we can collectively remember. And part of this process is to discover whether an idea holds water, or even whether it makes sense. Part of psychology and sociology is to assess whether people are being malevolent when they do destructive things to themselves and others, or whether they actually seek to do good but are unable to think through to the likely outcome of their destructive behavior. The architects of religion, the Pat Robetsons and Saint Pauls and the Joseph Smiths and the David Koreshes of this world, are, to me, malevolent: I think they know they are lying. But their victims, the ones who would die just to see a few more people enter the fold because they think this is a good thing to do, I think, hardly ever realize that two plus two does not equal five.

I also know only too well why so many atheists quietly go to church on Sunday: we've just grown tired of fighting the social pressure to be some kind of theist (though the pressure to be orthodox has lifted somewhat over the past century). But I was slighted earlier this afternoon by a Pagan -- a Witch -- who said she would never have anything to do with atheists (or Satanists, she says). And to think we met in the context of advocacy for religious freedom! I bent over backwards to laud her work, but I had to get real tough just to get her to post a copyright notice under some work of mine that she'd glommed from my website!

The press for Christian orthodoxy has lifted, to be sure, but those who lean toward the fundamentalistic style of thinking have simply created newer vehicles for their fundamentalistic ways.

But to answer your question, no. If I think an idea is foolish, I'll call it foolish and will tell you exactly why I think it's foolish.

Meanwhile, atheism is not itself an idea, but the absence of a specific type of idea -- the absence of theism. Some people are theists, they have come to believe that gods exist. Those of us who have not come to this belief (or who have rejected previously held theism) are atheists in that we lack the idea of theism.

How can I say you are being untruthful without calling you a liar? and how can I point out that you have lied about me here, without you accusing me of arguing with cut-downs rather than facts?

The fact is this: for you to say that I do not want to speak to a Christian is a bald-faced lie. Worse, it is a lie about something that you cannot possibly assess: the true motives within my mind. But, my statements and my actions speak powerfully against your lie: I not only openly and repeatedly state that Christians are welcome to write to my forum, and I not only documented the fact that I was to marry a devout Christian several years ago (though it ended on a purely natural note, having nothing to do with religion or atheism from either side), but I have posted over 2,400 letters on the Forum, many of which are from Christians. If I did not want to speak to Christians, I would post that on my website, I would ignore the letters from Christians, and I would probably have at least one atheistic friend, rather than all my close friends over the past several years having been either Christians, Wiccans, Buddhists, Satanists or very confused about the whole matter (oh, one atheist friend in San Diego -- that's it).

This sounds like an empty charge -- a broad-brush. Please elaborate.

And how can you speak of seeing something from an atheistic approach, when you cannot even get it straight what atheism even is?

I have attacked your groundless claims, but I cannot discern whether they are "innocent." You make a statement to me and I'll respond to it the best way I see fit. If I think it's groundless, I'll say as much. If I think you're painting with a broad brush or if I suspect that you're just talking and don't have any facts to back up your statement, I'll point that out.

I am only curious about one thing you've said, but you refuse to elaborate, I guess, because you want to protect your position from criticism -- or something. I'm not sure what. Meanwhile, UPS just brought me a 200-page book from Prometheus that I have to read within the next day or two (preferably by tomorrow morning) and see if I want to review it for them. Kinko's just brought a box of back-issues I had printed, and the idiots stapled them together! Now I must decide whether to spend six to ten hours carefully removing staples from over 300 magazines, or whether to insist that they print the job over and jeopardize my relationship with them (this is the third time in a row Kinko's has botched between $75 and $170 worth of my work over some extremely minor miscommunication and had to do it over). It's the 20th and I haven't even begun the issue that's due out on the 1st. I haven't gone out singing more than four times in as many months, and have been isolating in this cracker box just trying to recover from the computer virus attack of December 4th while still keeping the website up to date and still answering letters (this is the second of four this size I that I got just today). And it's 10:30 P.M. and I still haven't eaten, though I've been at it since 7:00 this morning, spending over five hours on the phone with USWest (QWest?) trying to see why a repair order for my DSL line that I placed last May still isn't even being processed -- much less completed -- despite numerous, very time-consuming follow-ups on my part. So I spent two more hours writing a letter to their CEO, in hopes that I can get these phone numbers swapped so I don't have to pay for two lines any more. Last May! And you think I want to continue a conversation along these lines? No! I only wish either to verify your claim and take action or to call it what I think it is: more vicious slander of atheists. But you refuse to back up your claims, so I must call them slander. If you were being truthful, you'd immediately cooperate in the interest of truth.

Think that way if you want: I'm through trying to defend my credibility against your subtlety.

I'm listening; however, if you continue to misrepresent my position in your attempts to refute it, I will state as much. Also, I am quite leery of anyone who would cite a source in a discussion but then refuse to reveal that source when asked. These two things, more than anything, have tarnished your credibility with me. I don't care what any other atheists have told you, just like it would be unfair for me to judge your faith based upon what other Christians have written to me and said. Unlike Christianity, which is a comprehensive world view touching almost every area of life, atheism is an extremely small aspect of any atheist's outlook.

I was not an alcoholic or a drug addict. I was never arrested for drugs, except for marijuana as a teenager. Alcohol has not caused me problems since I was a teenager before I learned how much you need to drink in order to achieve certain effects. Even then, I learned pretty quickly and have had only two serious incidents with alcohol in my entire life: once, the first time I ever drank; the other time, I passed out at a campfire. When I later realized what happened, I learned some tricks to quickly and accurately assessing how much I have had to drink and how close I am to my limit. I have had nothing resembling a problem or an incident with alcohol ever since.

I went to jail for theft. I stole because the sudden loss of hearing simultaneous with the sudden onslaught of a crippling condition in my feet rendered me unable to function even in the Rescue Mission scene. You have to at least be able to walk when the police come and tell you to move on, and this was impossible without drugs and alcohol. And you do well to be able to hear (or at least be seen signing with other hearing impaired people) if you want to avoid getting beat up down there. Also, I didn't have any glasses, and without them I cannot even see the eye chart: the chart itself is just a round blur; I'm completely off the scale and my prescription is about -470.

So I squatted in various empty houses that were being repossessed by the Veterans Administration home loan program, and would shoplift to survive. Drugs and alcohol lifted the pain enough for me to sort of get around. I could have never made it in the Rescue Mission system with no income to buy the drugs and alcohol that purchased for me very limited mobility with which to come up with more money. My bail was set at $540,000. For shoplifting! I must have been one evil atheist! The hearing in one ear eventually became usable, but I did not get treatment for my feet for nine months (hoping it would go away) and the treatment itself took another six to nine months. For this they jailed me again (after serving the time for shoplifting) simply for refusing a court order to undergo religious instruction in a faith-based rehabilitation program.

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

Graphic Rule

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine"
To: "Mel"
Subject: To Continue Writing Here, You Must Stop Your Misrepresentation of Atheists

Studies! At-home Bible Studies! You told me that they have been banned "in, I think Connecticut," and I need to verify this claim -- I don't believe you are telling the truth, here. You're not even sure where this happened, but you expect to make a case based upon a single snippet of gossip that you cannot even verify? qossip which alleges an event that goes against the grain of everything we know about religious life in America!?

If I were to state that I know someone who was falsely accused of possessing marijuana and is now serving an eight-year sentence, people would have no reason to doubt me because thousands of Americans have been framed by the DEA.

But if I were to try to make a case by pointing out that a large mob lynched an African American and hung him on a tree last week, you'd rightly demand to know my source for that information, because these things just do not happen very often any more -- and when they do, those of us who pay attention to bigotry issues learn about it real fast. In the same sense, I am about as up-to-date on Religious Liberty news and goings on as you get, and nothing of the sort that you've described has crossed my desk.

Send me the news article.

I need to know which group "in, I think Connecticut," is sponsoring at-home Bible studies that have been banned. I want to contact them and verify the story. If it's true that they were banned because they were Christians or because it was a Bible study (as you state in so many words in your previous post -- placing this claim in the context of Christians having a tough time in America), I'll make a big stink about it.

As I said, you must stop slandering if you wish to continue. You state that I was never a Christian and you don't even know me!

Honesty would not be afraid of information that would contradict or disprove one's current position, because the quest for truth follows truth wherever it may lead and drops any currently held falsehood like a hot potato. Many religious leaders cover up known facts and twist others and tell flat-out lies in order to persuade people that their religious dogma is true.

I have every reason to think you are lying because your claim is so unlikely, going against everything else we know about the subject, and because you refuse to back it up.

Who called you a "chicken"? I told you that you must stop your slander if you wish to continue writing to us. To imply that I called you "chicken" is a low-blow since you know that I never did that!

So, are you saying that you would protect the reputation of your religion even if it meant lying to somebody about that religion? I other words, is it okay to misrepresent the facts, the truth, if it means that someone might think good things about your religion, or even might join your religion (under false pretenses)?

Oh, so we get funny with the definition for Christian versus the definition for church member in order to cover up our little deception?

Okay, then, how do I, an uninvolved observer, determine what constitutes a "Christian" in your little world, versus what constututes a "Christian" in everybody else's world?

What's this supposed to show other than one company could afford to make many, many copies of it's company handbook -- hundreds and hundreds of years after it is alleged to have been written?

Only because the monks, during the Dark Ages, worked for a company that could afford to pay them to copy these things (because that company stole the money from people such as myself, before they burned my philosophical forebears at the stake). Now, because these guys didn't have to get real jobs, they sat around and made copies.

None of those manuscripts date back to within fifty years of their supposedly having been written, and none of the originals were written within forty years of the time Christ is alleged to have lived. And none of the manuscripts came from the part of the world where Christ supposedly lived: they weren't in the same language and they betray an utter ignorance of the geography and the socio-political situation they purport to describe.

Finally, the New Testament canon was not decided even at the times of Martin Luther, who thought the book of James was bogus. The books to make the original canon were not decided upon until a few hundred years after Christ is alleged to have lived, and some of them didn't exist until shortly before that vote was taken. They decided which books were the Word of God by appointing a committee of representatives from the various churches and voting as to which ones were "really" God's Word, as opposed to which ones were forgeries!

You are lying to me for the purpose of trying to convince me that Christianity is a religion of truthfulness.

The "Testimonium" of Josephus is not a strong source because it is admitted by all but the most dishonest Christians to have been a forgery, put in about the time of Eusebius (and many suspect him to have done this, becuse Eusebius openly advocated lying to the public about the Christian religion for the purpose of hoodwinking people into becoming members). I'd point to my write-up on the "Testimonium" but you have convinced me that you would rather believe a lie.

Meanwhile, even if the "Testimonium" were genuinely the work of Josephus, it would be the strongest. I dare you to tell me of any stronger non-Christian source than Josephus. No. You lie to me!

How so? Is the fact that I wrote this tonight evidence of the truth that my writing proclaims? What does that have to do with anything?

Why do the Gospels that were written later contain more embellishments on the same story than the ones written earlier? Why, in Mark, does the fig tree take a day to wither, whereas in Matthew, written later, it withers instantly? If the Gospels were not written until after Jerusalem was flattened by the Romans, and if the Gospels were not written even in the same country as the events were alleged to, and if each Gospel contradicts, in places, what the others assert, then why should we not treat them as the myths and political tracts that they give every appearance of being?

I am not going to continue this discussion, because your understanding of truthfulness and my understanding of truthfulness come from two completely different sets of values. I place a high value upon truthfulness, and you seem to satisfy yourself with both believing and espousing whatever seems convenient to promoting your cause of Christianity.

I did not first decided to become an atheist and then spend the rest of my life justifying that decision. Only after years of soul searching did I finally submit to what I saw as the truth: there is no reason to believe the claims of the Christian religion.

For doing this -- for stating the honest thoughts in my mind -- I constantly endure slander such as your slander that we "atheists" have banned private Bible studies. It is slander because my research verifies there are no news reports of it in the states that you have mentioned. A quick call to Associated Press in those areas is all it takes: nothing of the sort is being reported in legitimate news sources. If it's being reported at all, it's on some show like Pat Robertson, which has a long history of reporting false news stories (hoaxes) for the purpose of maligning atheists.

Have a nice life: as far as we can tell (and no credible reports confirm otherwise), this is the only life we get. For me, I will not go on record as having deliberately spread falsehood for the purpose of discrediting other people more than they discredit themselves by their own actions.

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

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