We present this letter precisely how we received it. We do this because the letter pretends to be scholarly (though it is not) and because it was sent from the domain of a prestigious American university.
First of all, your heroes like Thomas Jefferson and benjiman franklin were deist, they at least believed in God. Why atheism? is the whole world an accident? are we bodies without souls? if so how are we different than the animals? That just doesnt make sense. just because youdont see positive evidence of God doesnt mean there isnt any.
anyways, that is not the point of this email. i would like to discuss your blatantly anti-catholic propaganda in the ten commandments section. I recently converted to Catholocism from being methodist, and i had to deal with some of the things that catholic people have done in the past. but you cannot judge an institution by what some of its people have done. The united states has assasinated, been underhanded and selfish in its dealings with foreign nations, and has practiced espionage and lying as a way of life, but that does not make our great country evil. for every incredible sinner in the church there has been a great saint who left his family, home, security, and plans to do gods will. could you leave everything right now and say "God, do with me what you will." i dont think i could, but they did. but their actions alone doesnt make the church strong or holy or good. it is the church itself. i wish you would understand that so that you would not publish material that blatantly misquotes saints who had great devotion and belittles their accomplishments. i would like it at the least if you would not attack my faith that is my life and the life of millions, but if you have any other personal questions about the faith that you would like answered just write back. i promise it makes sense, i once believed that God wasnt really real, but the truths of the church do make sense. sincerely, david yeager
Not wanting to accuse anybody of a Discordian-esque hoax up front, we responded to the writer's questions by taking them at face value. The writer made several bold statements including false accusations against Positive Atheism Magazine, and we insisted that he back them up. As of the time of reformatting this file, November 2, 2000, we have heard nothing from this person.
From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 8:36 PM
First of all, your heroes like Thomas Jefferson and benjiman franklin were deist, they at least believed in God.
First of all, you don't need to explain to us that Jefferson and Franklin were deists, because we have gone to great lengths to document this on our website. We have even gone as far as explaining why they were deists and not atheists (this having quite a bit to do with which year Darwin made his famous discovery).
Second of all, did they believe in the same "God" you do? Hardly. The "god" that Jefferson believed in would never be honored by someone going to the trouble of trying to set an atheist straight. Jefferson's "god" (his use of lowercase) was indistinguishable from what I call Nature.
Because I lack a god belief. You folks have not done a very good job at making your case, and I thus have every reason to suspect that you have no case at all. At all.
is the whole world an accident?
Yes. An accident that just happened to end up with the properties and in the situation that allowed it to survive as a planet. This does not render my life futile, though.
are we bodies without souls?
We are bodies with nervous systems (minds) but I cannot answer your question as stated because I don't know what you mean when you say "souls."
if so how are we different than the animals?
I don't know how to answer this question because your phrase "if so" makes this question contingent upon my answering the previous question, which I refused to do due to your use of an enigmatic and controversial term.
I will say that we differ very little from the bonobo and the chimpanzee, and we differ vastly from bees.
That just doesnt make sense.
Of course it doesn't. What you asked was a trick question, so any response we could possibly give would make no sense -- except to point out your dishonesty. That's what trick questions are for: to place your ideological opponent in an uncompromising position, to the end that you can gloat, within the privacy of your own mind, over the notion that you tripped up your opponent.
Try asking some honest questions -- those that seek to discover the truth, rather than those make you appear to have "won" the argument. Then you'll begin to understand beyond the fetters of your narrow, prefabricated mindset.
just because you dont see positive evidence of God doesnt mean there isnt any.
And just because you think you do doesn't mean that there is. There is more to the discussion than that (unless, of course, your purpose is to try to trip someone up by asking trick questions).
Many have made claims to me that this or that god exists. Not a one of them has gotten very far in making a case that he or she is making a truthful claim. So, I am still waiting for someone to come along with an argument that is both honest and convincing. If such an event occurs, I will become a theist. Until then, I lack a god belief, being unconvinced by any of the arguments I have heard (especially yours), and I remain an atheist.
The sheer dishonesty of most of the god-claims I've heard (particularly yours) actually prejudices me toward skepticism; however, I am trained to accept an honest argument as such, and don't think this prejudice is influencing my assesment.
i would like to discuss your blatantly anti-catholic propaganda in the ten commandments section.
The Roman Catholic Church propagandizes against itself: it doesn't need my help.
I recently converted to Catholocism from being methodist, and i had to deal with some of the things that catholic people have done in the past.
And you still give your credence and support to this monster? Shame on you! How could you!? At least John Wesley never burned anyone at the stake for disagreeing with him!
but you cannot judge an institution by what some of its people have done.
No. You judge an institution by what the institution itself has done. The Roman Catholic Church (the institution, not "certain individuals") burned people over slow fires for disagreeing with the Church.
This is unforgivable.
Meanwhile, I would never do what you seem to be asking me to do: judge the institution of the Roman Catholic Church by what some individuals have done in that some Roman Catholics think it is wrong to torture people. Unfortunately, those individuals are not the Roman Catholic Church herself, and I cannot absolve the Church for the honorable sentiments of a few individuals who disagree with the Church's historical stance regarding the ritual of auto-da-fé.
The united states has assasinated, been underhanded and selfish in its dealings with foreign nations, and has practiced espionage and lying as a way of life, but that does not make our great country evil.
Sure it does. Don't give me that!
I live here because I have no choice. I haven't the resources to move to a country such as the Netherlands or Sweden or Switzerland or some other country that has not, during the current structure of regimes, committed these atrocities. If I had these resources, I would have moved long ago.
for every incredible sinner in the church there has been a great saint who left his family, home, security, and plans to do gods will.
I would call this person a sinner, not a saint. Anybody who would leave their family behind to propagate religion (or any other ideology) rightly earns the disdain of the world.
could you leave everything right now and say "God, do with me what you will."
No, because as I discussed above, no "God" exists -- to my knowledge.
Also, I wouldn't do this even if I thought a god existed because it is wrong to let someone else do my thinking for me. My mind is mine, and it is my responsibility to use it and contribute my share toward making this accident of a planet a better place to live.
i dont think i could, but they did.
I commend you and denounce them.
but their actions alone doesnt make the church strong or holy or good.
No. It makes the Church that much more evil in that the Church used falsehood and empty promises of Heaven to entice away them from their responsibilities as members of the Human species.
These people have gone beyond simply believing a lie, they now propagate that lie by doing good and then giving the credit to the liars -- the Church. Had they simply done good because it was the right thing to do, or had they done good just because that's the only way that others will get the help they need to have even a reasonable quality of life, I would commend them.
But these "saints" (as you call them) are doing good solely for the purpose of giving credibility to the Church -- but this Church deserves the sternest form of discrediting we can muster for its past and current treatment of humans.
i wish you would understand that so that you would not publish material that blatantly misquotes saints who had great devotion and belittles their accomplishments.
I do understand: this is why I post this material. This is why I have responded to you the way I have.
But I want you to document your accusation that I have published material that "blatantly misquotes saints." I will need to know: (1) which saints; (2) what I said that they did not say; (3) what they actually said; (4) where I said this (volume and issue number, date of publication, URL, etc.).
If you cannot do this, I will ask you to retract your false accusation against me. If you refuse to retract, I will boldly go on record as calling you a liar of the worst kind, in that you "bear false witness" against me (as the Ten Commandments say).
You see, my morality is superior to the Ten Commandments in every way -- particularly, the Ninth Commandment (the Eight Commandment in Roman Catholicism, because the Roman Catholic Church lied to the public about the Second Commandment so that she could practice idol worship -- so the count got all screwy).
Anyway, I not only refuse to bear false witness against my neighbor, I stubbornly refuse to bear false witness against anybody. If there was an honest way for me to see Pope John Paul II imprisoned for his crimes against humanity, I would do it -- but I would never lie to accomplish this goal. If I could testify against him, my testimony would be true -- even against a criminal such as he.
So, I insist that you back up your claim. If you do, I will post a public apology; if you don't, I call you a liar of the worst kind: a false witness who gives false public testimony against someone for the purpose of propagating Roman Catholicism.
i would like it at the least if you would not attack my faith that is my life and the life of millions
Are you saying that a man engaged in combat with superstition should be polite to superstition? I fear not! You have every right to argue your case, but you have no right to be protected from my criticism of your absurdities. And it is my very obligation to point out your dishonesty -- especially when you engage in this dishonesty in a public forum.
Thus, I will attack your faith because you have not only brought it to my attention (instead of keeping it private) but you have lied to me for the purpose of trying to convince me of the truthfulness of your position. And you have done this in a public forum, so it is imperative that I attack your faith and the object of your faith publicly.
I cannot remain quiet about your lies. To do so would be immoral, and I am a very moral man.
but if you have any other personal questions about the faith that you would like answered just write back
My only question is based upon you having drawn attention to your faith: What kind of faith needs to bolster itself with falsehood? Why don't you take a good look around your world and tell it like you see it, rather than repeating soneone else's lies and falsehoods in order to convince others of the truthfulness of organized religion's prefabricated dogma?
This I do not understand. This I will never understand. This is what has baffled me about religion since I was a small child.
If you can explain to me why the Roman Catholic religion needs for people to lie in order to convince others of its truthfulness, you will have done me a world of good: you will have explained to me a mystery that has haunted me since I was about five or six years old.
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