It's God's Gym,
So Play By His Rules
William Lantz

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "William Lantz"
Subject: Re: PA-via_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Thursday, March 08, 2001 4:52 AM

You lost me: I still haven't been told a reason to even believe that a god exists.

Meanwhile, to say that we "deny" the existence of a god so that we can "forfeit the accountability to Him for our actions and lives" is pure slander on your part.

If I could become convinced that there actually is a "God's Gym," as you say, I'd surely "play by the rules" of that "Gym."

However, since I see no reason to think that any supernatural entity has posted any list of rules, it is my responsibility to figure out for myself how I am to run my life. This is a much graver responsibility than simply parroting a slogan or following a posted list of rules, because this makes me ultimately and fully responsible for every one of my actions. I cannot chuckle and say, "Well, He told me to do it," and I cannot -- for one second -- assume that I'll eventually get forgiven for any misdeed that I may commit.

Since this is our only crack at living (that we know of), it behooves me to treat all my fellow-humans with as much compassion and dignity that I can muster. If you can show me that a god has made it clear that I should act otherwise, I'd like to see it.

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

Graphic Rule
Added: March 9, 2001

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "William Lantz"
Subject: Re: PA-via_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Friday, March 09, 2001 7:44 AM

I've heard that there is a god who has erected some special method for determining truth from falsehood, an exclusive method which is unavailable to a person like myself -- someone who honestly and sincerely tries to discern truth from falsehood; someone who works very hard at finding out what is and is not true; someone who utilizes every resource available to him, including the very mind which was "given" to him; someone who uses all the best methods for testing whether someone is pulling the wool over our eyes. I've heard that one can determine whether or not a god exists only by utilizing this exclusive (and, I've discovered, very evasive) method.

I say that if such a god does exist, and if that god has erected a system similar to the ones that have been described to me (almost always in conjunction with verses such as II Corinthians 2:14), then I can make a case that this god respects neither honesty nor hard, diligent work.

Many even go so far as to tell me that I must already believe that a god exists (or at least act as if I believe) before I will be allowed to know whether or not a god exists. They almost always call this state "open-mindedness," but they inevitably fail to distinguish for me the difference between "open-mindedness" and credulity.

Therefore, I think it much more reasonable for me to suspect that this system is just a ruse, stumbled upon by opportunistic hucksters who quickly discovered this system to be very effective at evading the scrutiny of any who would bother to question the pronouncements of authority, or to suspect the State Church of perpetrating a big hoax for the purpose of keeping the masses in line.

As the woman I described in my piece, "And The Scientists, Too," told me: "If God were to choose to reveal Himself to mankind, he would do so in a way that even the scientists would be able to see him."

I go even further than that: If there exists a god who would not respect honest inquiry and hard work, but who would, rather, utilize a secretive, elusive, and exclusive method for detecting His existence, I want nothing to do with that god. "Hell" may be pure pain, but I would not feel right going to "Heaven" on such pretenses and under such conditions.

Fortunately for me, the places I hear about "Heaven" and "Hell" are from books such as the Bible and the Koran. These books contain documentable falsehood: I can easily disprove many of the claims made in these books. If these books are wrong about things that I can verify, then why should I trust their word on untestable claims such as "Heaven" or "Hell"?

And why should I trust the word of an individual who would settle for anything less than honest inquiry, hard work, and doing the best you can with what little you have?

No. The people who demonstrate to the world that they settle for nothing less than honestly acquired knowledge admit to me that they don't know that a "Heaven" or a "Hell" or even a "God" exists. Only those who would try to do an end-run around honest inquiry will insist to me that there are methods, currently unavailable to me, whereby they have determined that a "Heaven" and a "Hell" and a "God" do, in fact, exist.
 

Not okay!

What have I to lose? My integrity, for one, and my very dignity which is based, in part, on my integrity.

I am not bold enough to pick a fight with truth: I will lose every time.

I am not open-minded enough to accept just any notion that comes my way: I must first find reason to accept a claim before I will act on it -- unless I have no choice and must make a decision without all the facts: then I make a decision that I think I can live with, that I can at least defend or justify later (if need be).
 

I put aside all my preconceived notions a long time ago, shortly after reading Robert Anton Wilson's biographical sketch of R. Buckminster Fuller. With the preconceptions gone, what remains fits into two categories: (1) ignorance and suspended judgement; (2) opinions on matters that I have spent half a lifetime diligently considering.

After reading the sketch on Bucky Fuller, I decided that unless I can verify a claim, I will not call it true. I will not call a claim likely unless I can make a case that it is at least likely. I will not call a claim possible unless I can show that it is at least possible.

For example: the existence of the Loch Ness monster is possible because new species of fauna are discovered every week, but it is not likely because many have searched diligently for decades and have come up empty-handed -- and those who claim they have seen Nessie all fit the profile of a huckster who has ever been found out by everybody except himself.

I go further: If I can show that an idea's only source is gravely flawed, I will go so far as to use this as a valid reason to show that the claim is falsehood. For example, I can show the extremely dubious origins of the New Testament Gospel accounts, and can show that the Gospel stories of Jesus have no independent verification -- even in the undisputed epistles of Paul. I can show internal inconsistencies and I can point to many stories, contained in more than one Gospel, which show evidence of tampering and editing. The accounts also describe events that could never have occurred through natural means. They also describe their main character as having abilities that every hero in Roman mythology had. In other words, it is much easier for me to believe that four men would lie than it is for me to believe that one man would raise himself from the dead.
 

I did that once -- several times a day for about three years, in fact.

What happened is this: I returned to admitting that I am an atheist.

Here's a challenge to you: Stand upon a hilltop and shout out to the sky, "Quetzalcoatl! Millions of Aztecs have stood in awe before you, and for many centuries testified to your great influence and were convinced that no aspect of life went untouched by you! Now I command that you reveal your powers to me!" Do this until you feel that Quetzalcoatl has revealed Himself to you. Then, quickly go to the ocean and stand at the edge of the surf and, in a similar manner, summon Neptune until you feel Neptune has shown Himself to you. Continue this exercise, instantly switching deities and techniques the moment you feel that the deity has revealed him- or herself to you. To one deity, command as a worthy superior; to another, tremble as an unworthy inferior; to a third, level with that deity as an equal; to a fourth, entice and flirt coo as a lover, to a fifth, play as if you are the deity's puppy, to the sixth, play as if the deity is your puppy!.

This is an ancient occult exercise which differs from the one you describe in but a single respect: the occult exercise I described shows that no matter what experience follows your conjuration (and an extremely vivid experience likely will follow any sincere attempt at conjuring), you will know better than to attribute objective reality to any of your occult experiences. I maintain that no objective reality can be attributed to your subjective occult experience, which experience you mistakenly attribute to genuine powers of an objectively real deity.

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

Graphic Rule
Added: March 10, 2001

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org> To: "William Lantz"
Subject: Re: PA-via_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Saturday, March 10, 2001 4:37 AM

Like I said, if you seek any deity "with all your heart" you will feel something.

So, since we agree that getting on my knees and praying for a god to appear is not a valid test to determine whether or not that god exists, what's next?
 

I haven't got that far, yet: I still want to know whether a god exists, or whether this is a bunch of hooey -- just like we agree that the other 4,999 god claims are nothing more than snookerdoodles.

What is it about your god claim that distinguishes it from the other god claims -- which we both know are pure horsefeathers?
 

No. That's not the reason. I promise you.

If it turned out that there is a god, and it turned out that God is a package of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, I would go along with it -- if and only if I had a valid reason to believe that a candy bar was a god.

Please take my word for it that I am an honest man. I've eaten crow many times, and believe me: it's no big deal.
 

It's impossible to humble yourself before any "Heavenly Father" -- unless, of course, that "Heavenly Father" exists! This is what I need to know, and I need to know it first: does such a creature exist? If so, does that creature demand that I humble myself before it (assuming it has bigger guns than I do)?

I will not humble myself before what I currently think is probably the object of a fairy tale that got way out of hand. I need to know: What is it about this story that makes you think that it's an accurate description of reality? Why is this one different from all the other Rube Goldberg inventions that I've studied?
 

They love their god so much that they've even been willing to tie people up and set them on fire for thinking that their god is an invention of man. They would do this for their god!
 

I don't blame any gods, because I don't know of any that exist. If I'm mistaken, and one does exist, He (or She or It) is fully to blame for creating this mess. The gods who hate sin are the very ones who are ultimately responsible for sin. This is why I like to think of the monotheistic gods as "an Oriental despot, only bigger, and invisible" (Robert Anton Wilson).

In short: I appreciate any private expression of religion. That expression stops being private the moment a practitioner tries to convince another person to go along with that religion. Then, the claims of the religion become subject to public scrutiny.

The founders of your religion knew this, and that's why they warned you that you'd encounter opposition for preaching the Gospel.

"It's not supposed to make sense! It's faith! Don't ya know what faith is? Faith is when you believe somethin' that nobody in their right mind would believe!"
     -- the Archie Bunker character

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

Graphic Rule

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