Christians Picketing
Matthew Shepherd's Funeral

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From: "Positive Atheism" <>
To: "Holly"
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Monday, January 08, 2001 1:16 AM

Some ideologies are conducive to exclusivism, fundamentalism, and dogmatism, an extreme form of which we witnessed at Matthew's funeral. Just because a viewpoint lends itself to an exclusivistic approach doesn't mean that all who hold that viewpoint will practice that ideology exclusivisticly. Some forms of atheism (specifically, "No gods exist") can likewise lend themselves to exclusivism. Even science has been known to get out of hand, particularly when forced to fight what many call "pseudoscience." I don't think any ideology is immune to fundamentalism, although some belief systems lend themselves more readily to these abuses while others tend to resist this tendency.

If I were predisposed to being spiteful and vindictive, I could probably justify acting this way from almost any viewpoint (though, again, some viewpoints would make it easier to justify being this way). It is not which ideology (theism or atheism) that concerns me as much as how a perticular belief system is practiced by particular individuals and groups. Thus, I oppose fundamentalism and dogmatism, both within theism and within atheism, but I do not spend much effort opposing theism itself. I wrote about fundamentalism within organized atheism in my December, 1999, column, "Atheism & Fundamentalism."

I spent the afternoon with a gentleman who assures me that I am on the right track when I oppose fundamentalism wherever I find it, while practicing a live-and-let-live attitude when it comes to the question of theism versus atheism.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe
P.O. Box 16811
Portland, OR 97292

"My conclusion is that there is no reason to
   believe any of the dogmas of traditional
   theology and, further, that there is no
   reason to wish that they were true. Man,
   in so far as he is not subject to natural
   forces, is free to work out his own destiny.
   The responsibility is his, and so is the
      -- Bertrand Russell (1872-1970),
         "Is There a God?" (1952)

"The legitimate powers of government extend
   to such acts only as are injurious to others.
      -- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
         "Statute for Religious Freedom"

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