Why Fight So Hard
To Suppress Information?

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: thinking
Date: Thursday, March 15, 2001 7:00 PM >

Why do disclaimers like this so often precede people's announcements that they disagree with our opinions? Is it almost to say, "Yes, even atheists have the freedom of speech!" I do not take my Liberty of Speech so lightly that I would even question someone else's Liberty of Speech. I certainly would not take my Liberty of Speech so flippantly as to remind someone, as the introduction to my rebuttal of their statements, that they, too, have Liberty of Speech, or remind my ideological opponent as to who put their lives on the line to establish Liberty of Speech during the Revolutionary War.

I do not say of those opinions I find abhorrent: "Yes, even the Ku Klux Klan, or Earth First!, or Fundamentalist Christians, or the National Man-Boy Love Association have the freedom of speech!" -- as if it is some great and noble accomplishment to tolerate others. They have this right and so do you and so do I. Only when someone pipes up and suggests or even implies that this or that group ought not have this right will I interject with a reminder that everyone has this right because if this right is withdrawn for one, then everyone else's right is in jeopardy.

It seems so begrudging to "allow" the Liberty of Speech to those with whom we disagree. Toleration differs from intolerance only in this respect: toleration says "We will allow you to thrive" whereas intolerance says "We will not allow you to thrive." Liberty, on the other hand, trusts people to decide for themselves how to conduct themselves, and always carries with it the idea that we are all accountable for our actions.

I don't know who it is that you think is suppressing information. Thus, I cannot address your question as to why someone would "fight so hard to suppress the information." If you would provide some specific examples of someone actually suppressing information, I would be able to address those specific examples.

Besides, what information is there to suppress? A lie is a lie and must be exposed as such if we wish to maintain our Liberty of Thought. To expose a lie is not to suppress anything, but to bring more information into the discussion.

We are at Liberty to say what we think is the truth. When we do this, though, our ideas are subject to the scrutiny of others. No idea is sacred. It is an error to say that certain ideas ought to be exempt from scrutiny. I am at Liberty to challenge any claim that comes my way, and the ones making the claims are at Liberty to fight back. Only with this free exchange of ideas can we expect to have the resources with which do determine truth from falsehood.

As to malicious ideas dying a natural death, you are sadly mistaken if you think such destructive ideas as racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, atheophobia or antiatheism, and any of the multitude of bigotries will ever go away simply because they have no bases in reality.

Gamaliel is quoted as saying something along these lines about Christianity. If he did say this (and the tone of reasonableness in that quip is true to what we know both about Gamaliel in particular and the Pharisee party in general), then he exercised a monumental lapse in judgement for even thinking that a "nothing" idea is destined to oblivion. The editors of the New Testament knew it was in their best interest to immortalize Gamaliel's blunder (or, perhaps, to put this blunder into his mouth, cleverly disguised as genuine, through a rare appearance of reasonableness for Pharisees -- at least as they are usually slandered in the New Testament).

This is akin to me asking, "If Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism, then why are there still Jews?" To ask this question would be to misunderstand both Christianity and Judaism. Similarly, your question misunderstands the Theory of Evolution.

If a man and a woman have three children, and then the man dies and the woman remarries and has two more children, the first three children do not suddenly cease to exist or instantly become sterile and unable to procreate the bloodline of the original couple. If you can see this, you are well on your way to answering this popular but very dishonest objection to the Theory of Evolution.

Humans, troglodyte-pan chimps, bonobo chimps, and the now extinct Neanderthal all had a common ancestor which is now extinct but did not need to go extinct in order for parts of the gene pool to evolve. One portion of the tribe need only move to an isolated region, and its self-contained gene pool will begin to pick up its own alterations because environmental differences will make different traits advantageous. If they stay away for long enough, and then return, they might no longer even be able to interbreed with the original species which (for this discussion) underwent no significant alterations.

We cannot provide empirical testing, but can only speculate: if the ratio of neocortical tissue to brain mass is an indication of intelligence, then the Neanderthal would have been the most intelligent of the four because the Neanderthal had about a ten percent higher ratio of neocortical tissue to brain mass than does the human. The chimps are further down the list than even humans.

If intelligence is what determines who is the "Crown of Creation," then the "Crown of Creation" has become extinct, probably because she lacked the aggressive, war-like tendencies of the species who currently considers herself the "Crown of Creation." Similarly, the more peaceful, more intelligent, "make-love-not-war" bonobo is much rarer than her more war-like cousin, the troglodyte-pan, and may go extinct without human intervention.

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

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