Positive Atheism Forum
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Readers' Comments on
Pastor Jeff's Sermon Itself
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We received the first two at about the same time, and neither had seen the other's work (as far as we can tell). If you'd like to see what Pastor Jeff wrote, Click Here; if you'd like to add your own Al Jaffe-type "Snappy Answers To Stupid Assumptions" response, Click This E-Mail Link.

 

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From: "RCJ21483"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Logic to Combat Pastor Jeff
Date: Monday, March 12, 2001 6:40 AM

Cliff,

I mentioned in one letter that pastor Jeff uses illogical ways to combat atheism. While you have the discussion open to allow other atheists to question Jeff, why not let other atheists use logic to attack his sermon? I have my own attack here, taken from his sermon with my responses. I hope you enjoy these:

 

TEN TOP PROBLEMS OF ATHEISTS Lynn Newsletter 9/14/92
10. The only good thing you do on your knees is scrub floors.

 

Tell that to the atheist paramedic who gives mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a person who can't breathe.

 

9. You wake up in the morning feeling really grateful, but to whom?

 

I loathe waking up in the morning because I have to go to school.

 

8. You call Dial A Prayer and no one answers.

 

Is there any such hotline as "Dial-A-Prayer?" I'd like to see what they say about me not converting, assuming they exist.

 

7. All the change in your pockets says "In God We Trust," and you can't relate

 

All of our money was changed during the McCarthy era to say that. Prior to that, nearly no U.S. coin ever said "In God We Trust."

Besides, how many Christians (and others) can relate to their God being advertised on public notes and coinage? how many of their missionaries can relate to their God being so forceably allied with the United States, a country who is not by any means universally respected among the nations and peoples of the Earth.

 

6. You have to tell that tender, small voice to shut up all the time.

 

I never tell my mind to quit thinking. I don't want to convert to bigoted religions like so many denominations of Christianity.

 

5. At some point in your life you'll say, "It just can't get any better than this," & you'll be right!

 

True for anybody: heaven comes to you after you're initially dead.

 

4. That little statue of Madeline Murray O'Hare on the dashboard just doesn't work.

 

Is there any place I could get a statue of her?

 

3. Your idea of a higher power in the universe is the IRS.

 

Atheists recognize that the universe consists of much more than just the Earth and the United States. And since when has the IRS ever taxed any aliens in another galaxy, or for that matter, any person outside the U.S.A.?

 

2. Limited profanity -- why bother to curse in the name of someone who doesn't exist?

 

Since the god claimed by the Christians doesn't exist, it raises a lot of Christian eyebrows, and we don't have to fear Him getting mad that we took his name in vain.

 

1. No matter where you go when you die, there won't be any atheists there.

 

Who said that you have to go any place at all when you die?

- R.J.

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From: "Kris L Nielsen"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Pastor_Jeff's_Sermon_9192
Date: Monday, March 12, 2001 1:39 PM

Just wanted to throw in some comments, pardon me if they sound satirical:

 

TEN TOP PROBLEMS OF ATHEISTS Lynn Newsletter 9/14/92
10. The only good thing you do on your knees is scrub floors.

 

I scrub floors on my feet, with one of those thingies on a stick...I think it's called a "mop." I certainly don't go down on my knees to "worship" anything.

 

9. You wake up in the morning feeling really grateful, but to whom?

 

I don't wake up grateful. I wake groggy, hungry, and needing to pee...just like everyone else.

 

8. You call Dial A Prayer and no one answers.

 

Prayer has a hotline? So, they don't even need to touch you to heal you anymore. Well, I guess now I should believe it, right?

 

7. All the change in your pockets says "In God We Trust," and you can't relate.

 

This is the point where they hit the nail on the head. And we don't like it because of the other, more serious problems that the phrase points to.

 

6. You have to tell that tender, small voice to shut up all the time.

 

The voice isn't tender or small, it's my voice when I talk to myself, and I think I make rather good company.

 

5. At some point in your life you'll say, "It just can't get any better than this," & you'll be right!

 

There has to be one time per day that I tell myself that, so I guess I'm never right.

 

4. That little statue of Madeline Murray O'Hare on the dashboard just doesn't work.

 

I have this habit of not depending on statues or idols to influence my life. That must be why.

 

3. Your idea of a higher power in the universe is the IRS.

 

Yeah, the IRS is up there, but I still hold the power of the universe and nature to be the highest.

 

2. Limited profanity -- why bother to curse in the name of someone who doesn't exist?

 

Are you implying that theists use filthy language and take their god's name in vain?

 

1. No matter where you go when you die, there won't be any atheists there.

 

True. And I won't be there, so I don't care.

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FROM A CHURCH BULLETIN BOARD
"Merry Christmas to our Christian friends. Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends. And to our atheist friends, good luck."

 

Why would an atheist be reading a church bulletin board?

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"Hast thou ever seen thy brains?

 

Yep, in lots of pretty colors on a CAT scan.

 

Hast thou ever felt thy brains?

 

Ever had a hangover?

 

Hast thou ever smelled thy brains?

 

I haven't tried, but being a paramedic, I have smelled others' brains.

 

And thou sayest thou hast brains!"

 

And let me guess: You don'tClear Spacer, 3x3!?

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QUOTE: Can atheists get insurance for acts of God?

 

I regard them as Acts of Nature. Pretty sad that theists must insure themselves against their own god.

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These quotes are those that atheists have heard over and over again. I just think it's fun to put sassy, one-liner responses to them. Thanks for you time.

Kris Nielsen

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http://www.angelfire.com/journal/krisnielsen
Vote NO on school vouchers and increased drug war funding!!

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From: "CHESTER TWAROG"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: "Open Letter" Forum
Date: Thursday, March 08, 2001 4:14 PM

Dear Cliff,

I am not sure if my own personal experience raising two sons will help on the "atheist" forum, however,

Both of my sons were not "baptized" nor ever attended church services. My wife and I raised them in a loving and caring family setting, corrected them when they talked back or were disrespectful. I occasionally spanked my first son when he misbehaved badly but felt remorse when I was once more severe with him at age eight, regretted it, and only verbally corrected him afterwards.

We did not read from nor teach the Bible. However, we taught both to be honest, caring, loving, not to steal or lie or cheat, to have safe sex if they were to engage in it as teens, that they would be free to choose their own religious beliefs as they needed when they became of age, and they could come to us with any problems. They won't drink wine with our meals when we do have it. My wife and I are also non-smokers.

My wife and I were raised in religious families. I became an Atheist on my own at age 20 when I finally realized that all gods and goddesses were imaginary. My wife is a nonpracticing Catholic. She can attend church if she wants to but has not.

I am proud to write that my oldest son, now 19, and attending Boston University is not interested in any drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or sex (nudity or pornography)(for now--actually refused sex with a dorm student when she came on to him), believes in a "god" initiated the universe and its physical laws but no longer interactive, studies hard, friendly, gets along with mostly everyone, doesn't fight, does not used profanity, etc.. He's studying to be an astrophysicist.

My twelve year old son is a great child, too!

I am a retired Air Force sergeant, disabled. My wife is an elementary teacher.

To answer the religious; I do good deeds, help out when I can, return lost valuables, give to some secular charities, will return monies when I am undercharged or receive too much change, honest as I can be, do worry about "poor" weather forecasts, etc., because I feel really terrific and proud of myself--it makes me feel good. I care deeply hoping that someday we all will come to realize its only "us" that will it all work out. I care about the natural biodiversity and wonder at all of the amazing universe science has "revealed" for us to marvel at for its own sake, respect it and appreciate it. When I rescue a turtle or snake or an alligator off of a busy roadway, it makes me feel good.

Chet

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In other words, I have fine moral and ethical values as an Atheist. Our modern society could not exist without them.

But I do discriminate against those that hate, who are intolerant, who murder or kill, who destroy our biosphere, who are anti-intellectual, anti-knowledge, anti-naturalism (sex, nudity, or suicide), who just make our Earth and society a junkyard and worse off, etc.

Or, like President Bush who was quick to come on TV to condemn the student who shot and killed students in CA, "we need to teach good values and respect for life", and not when a Catholic girl in a Catholoic School shoots a handgun and wounds a Catholic student.

Chet

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From: "Darrell Rowbottom"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Response_To_Pastor_Jeff_Sermon_9192
Date: Sunday, April 15, 2001 1:02 PM

Perhaps the most preposterous claim in the good Jeff's collection of notes (he claims it is not a sermon, and I see no reason not to take him at his word) is as follows:

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"The above quote {from Huxley} is probably the best explanation I have ever heard about why people do not want to become Christians. This was written by a non-Christian (obviously) as a justification of his rejection of Christianity. If everything is meaningless why not do whatever you want. If there is no superior being, with knowledge of right or wrong, why not live life based on your own desires?"

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Presumably, this is the best explanation he has ever 'heard' just because he is not well read in philosophy. It is incorrect on three counts (at least).

First, he fails to recognise that the debate about moral relativism vs. moral absolutism is logically distinct from questions about the existence of God. Indeed, many Christians are moral relativists in their reading of the Bible -- "Well, it was okay to cut a criminal's hand off for stealing in those days, viz. in that societal context, but it's wrong now." And there is nothing incoherent about positing absolute moral rules, even as abstract metaphysical entities, without invoking the concept of 'God', or the notion of 'superior being'; many philosophers have done so, and continue to do so. Conversely, there is nothing incoherent about positing a divine being who is radically amoral (since morals might just be 'human things').

Second, he presupposes that Huxley needs to justify his rejection of Christianity. But this is just to misunderstand where the burden of proof lies -- it is epistemologically 'backwards'. It seems he is suggesting that we should live our lives on the maxim that "If it ain't disproved, it's true." This is obviously absurd, since there are an infinite number of disproved (and sometimes unfalsifiable, period) statements that one might utter. I, for one, think I need not accept the truth of statements such as: "Grass will become poisonous to cows at 9:00pm this evening", "If I stab a knife through my heart, I shall not be harmed", and "Everything we experience is just the result of a Cartesian demon." Jeff misses the very basic philosophical distinction between what is possible, and what is actual. And while almost any metaphysician would want to say "There are possible worlds in which God exists", he wouldn't want that statement to be understood as saying anything, whatever, about the actual world.

Third, even if one believes that the statement "God (actually) exists" is true, we might ask why this should make one want to become a Christian, per se. Why not a Jew, a Muslim, or a Druid? Why not take Spinoza's view of God, as constituting the whole physical universe?

This really is terrible stuff. Confusion about metaphysics. Confusion about moral philosophy. Confusion about epistemology. Confusion about 'God-claims' as opposed to 'God as Christianity says he/she/it is-claims'. Dare one say "confusion", period?

Regards,

Darrell.

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