Thou Dost
Protest Too Much
Gary

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To:
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Tuesday, January 09, 2001 9:31 PM

Wha...?

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

Graphic Rule

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To:
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Wednesday, January 10, 2001 5:10 PM

Man left to his own device is fully human: every reason to be noble.

To call a man a god is not unlike calling a horse a lump of basalt. This is my problem with theism: people tend to call things "god" which are not a gods but are something else entirely.

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

Graphic Rule

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Joseph Hite"
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Wednesday, January 10, 2001 8:34 PM

Who said anything about "collective amebas"? You did, not me.

Who said anything about "top of the food chain"? You did, not me.

Who said anything about "surviving in the jungle"? You did, not me.
 

Someday I will be dead, but if you wish to show me to be wrong, you will need to do so honestly. I suggest that you first find some statements that I have actually made, and refute those statements. Refuting your own fantasies about what I believe is the lowest form of dishonesty.
 

This magazine and website takes in enough money to pay almost half the expenses it incurs. This doesn't even begin to cover my time. (I challenge you to find the part of the website that asks for money!) The rest of the costs are paid for out of my meager disability pension (about a fifth of my income goes toward keeping this endeavor alive). If I needed the money, I'd do something else (perhaps misrepresenting the Christian position and then attempting to refute my misrepresentations of Christianity might be profitable -- I wouldn't know).

I don't do this for the money, and if I were actually making money at this, I'd take a serious look at what I was doing to see if I were doing something wrong. I do this because I am tired of people, particularly Christians, misrepresenting the atheistic position and vilifying atheists unjustly. I am tired of Christian bigotry leveled against me simply because I don't go along with their fairy tale.

Part of how I do this is to expose the bigoted messages sent to this website, hatred that is leveled against us simply because of the word atheism and for no other reason. If you had a legitimate reason to act in a spiteful manner toward us, you would have considered our actual position rather than railing against your own misrepresentations of our position.

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

Graphic Rule

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To:
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Thursday, January 11, 2001 6:33 PM

I don't know many such atheists: This is not based in an accurate understanding of how atheism works.

Atheism is the default position. Some people add to this by developing god beliefs in addition to what they can verify in time-space reality. Others do not, and remain atheists.
 

No, actually, I was in a position to be open to such ideas, having run out of options in the real world, but found those to be empty promises. Faith did not improve anything because, I surmise, there is nothing substantial in faith. I think some people are capable of fooling themselves in this respect and others are not. I am not one who is capable of lying to myself about such things. If I'm going to think something is real, I'd better have a good reason for thinking that it's actually real. If not, I'll leave it alone.

Why I do this (Positive Atheism), again, is because I am tired of people misrepresenting my position and misrepresenting my motives, and thereby painting me as some sort of flawed human when I am not flawed in the ways they say I am.
 

I don't think it's as simple as that. You seem to be trying to trap me into "acknowledging" some sort of good-evil dichotomy, whereas I have a much more naturalistic outlook. Good exists. Evil exists. But these are very minor elements, because the qualities of "good" and "evil" cannot be divorced from the context of a human-made value system.

We must deal with crime, though, contrary to what some of my opponents have painted me as believing. In other words, if someone commits a crime, I think it is only fitting to remove that person from the community (send them to prison). Sentences should be pre-determined to correspond to the crime, and should be meted out equitably. What happens during that time is irrelevant to me, as long as the laws against cruel and unusual punishment are followed, as long as the establishment laws are followed (the state does not sponsor faith-based therapy, etc.) and the laws mandating religious freedom are followed (the state doesn't bar an independent group from making such things as faith-based therapy available to prisoners -- but paid for out of the group's own treasury, not from our tax base).

But as far as some cosmic-scale dichotomy between good and evil or between constructive and destructive, I don't see that and never have.
 

I cannot speak for such people.

I have no reason to believe some invisible "entity" was motivating him or "working through" him. But as for the naturalistic alternative, Charles Manson said something to the effect that "I'd kill you and it would be like going to the drug store." For him, I think, it seemed more of a business matter than curiosity or pleasure seeking. Manson was doing what he felt he needed to do. Manson was fulfilling what he felt the Scriptures had written about him.

I don't know who Bar-Jonah was or is.
 

I like to split the mind itself into two levels, the conscious, rational level, the level that can think ahead to possible and likely consequences of certain actions, versus a much simpler level, in the midbrain, that knows only desire and is too primitive to know how to think about possible consequences. This is just how we found ourselves after evolution brought us here; evolution seldom comes up with something new, but builds on existing functions, and this aspect of humanity is left over from more primitive states.

Fortunately, the voluntary muscles are connected to the more rational level (the neocortex) and the appetites must seek and obtain approval from the neocortical level before anything can happen. The rational level is always in control, but some people allow their appetites to call all the shots, leading to any number of problems, including what we call anti-social behavior.

This model of the human mind, the structural model, as incomplete and oversimplified as it is, proved very effective in working with drug-addicted people. The structural model also explains the behavior of people who do not indulge in self-gratification to the point where it leads to antisocial behavior. The simplistic statement, "We have a self-gratifying nature," does not explain that phenomenon.
 

Occasional? I am constantly explaining various thoughts to myself as "hallucinations" or "appetites." If I did not do this, I'd go crazy and probably would have killed myself by now. I am very appreciative of such people as Albert Ellis and Jack Trimpey, who popularized the above-mentioned model, thereby making it available to me. I am much happier and much more productive now than I ever was without this knowledge -- and certainly more so than when I was using this or that theistic model to explain the activities within my mind.
 

This is, I think, the best way. As the Thomas Jefferson quotation in my current signature says, "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others" ("Statute for Religious Freedom").
 

Free will, within the limitations that physics and biology have placed us, is, I think, the only option to an atheist. Determinism, to me, is the crux of theism, even when it is cloaked in materialistic terms. Gora went much further in this thinking than I do.
 

Whoever he was and whatever he did, he made choices. He may have had limited resources with which to make these choices (such as an impaired mind), but he made choices nonetheless. Nothing outside him was controlling him, be it fate, a demon, a god, or whatever. Everything he did came entirely from within, based on the structures and processes of his brain and in conjunction with the experiences he has endured: the observations he has made (however flawed) and the thinking (reflection) he has practiced.

If what he did resulted in evil (lawbreaking), it was right to put him in prison (I am against the death penalty for numerous reasons). If what he did was destructive, but a court panel determined that he was insane, we still needed to lock him up for the protection of the rest of society and, under certain situations, we will lock people up for their own protection.
 

I don't see your point.

Which "creator" has endowed whom with what "higher purpose"?

Also, why do you cloak my position in terms of "a person who evolved from the slime"? What purpose does this serve if not to prejudice the dialogue and to make my opponent's position appear more noble than it is?
 

I don't believe in my five senses, I use them. I also use my abilities of reason. I also compare notes with other humans.

Why do you go to such lengths to paint my position in such an easily refuted light? Why not see my position for what it is, and if you have any questions about my real position, then we can talk.

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

Graphic Rule

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Joseph Hite"
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Thursday, January 11, 2001 11:53 PM

Thus you contribute to the bigotry problem that I described.
 

That you would portray me as needing your help is, itself, an act of bigotry.

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

Graphic Rule

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