Your Freedom
Is Depending
On God's Favour
Jonas

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To:
Subject: Re: Your site...
Date: Tuesday, May 18, 1999 3:03 PM

So, let me get this straight:

I don't get it. This sounds like something I would expect to hear from Ronald Reagan. Please provide some specific details as to why you think I should believe that a god exists. Also provide specifics as to why atheism should be seen as an evil.

As for the United States, our freedom depends upon our Constitution, which was written and developed by men who were not Christians. They decided that the only way to guarantee religious freedom is to eradicate religion from our government.

Many American Christians routinely lie about this aspect of American History. They say this was originally a Christian nation and that we should get back to our Christian roots. No. America was once a Colony of England, which is a Christian nation with a State Church. In 1776, the colonists started a Revolution for independence. In 1789, the Colonists won the war, and erected our government upon the authority of "We, the People." The United States of America, which was founded in 1789, has never been a Christian nation, and nobody, back then, would have thought such.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To:
Subject: Re: Re: Your site ...
Date: Wednesday, May 19, 1999 4:30 PM

With no gods to tell you to sacrifice humans (Gen. 20-22, etc., etc.) you may have developed your own laws from the beginning. Gods are gods, and they are all fiction. People exploit others by convincing them that the gods actually exist. In this way, a community can divest itself of natural human emotion and compassion, and think they are doing good by killing their youngsters. If the god you believe in told you, through your priest or your scripture, to sacrifice your sons or daughters, would you obey?
 

This is a good thing. No "God" has ever spoken to me or revealed itself to me. Therefore, I do well continue my present course, and tell the truth: I have no reason to think that such a being exists.
 

In what language does the "all of the creation" speak? Certainly, it does not speak in English, or I would hear it and understand.
 

So, if I cannot tell right from wrong, I should not be able to tell if your Bible is right or wrong.

As it stands, I cannot distinguish the Bible from fable and fiction. The Moses story sure looks like fable and myth; it has all the signs of being a myth. Therefore, I do well to continue saying that I think the Ten Commandments story is a myth, because it sure looks like a myth to me. If this book of confusion and contradiction turns out to be true, that would be a miracle indeed!

The Moses myth cannot even get straight which "Ten Commandments" are the real "Ten Commandments." In this myth, God gives Moses ten commandments on stone in Ex. 20 I'll give the Protestant version, because the Catholics and the Jews each differ significantly from what the Protestant Bible says are the Ten Commandments:

First Commandment, Chapter 20, Verse 2

Second Commandment, Chapter 20, Verses 3 to 6

Third Commandment, Chapter 20, Verse 7

Fourth Commandment, Chapter 20, Verses 8 to 11

Fifth Commandment, Chapter 20, Verse 12

Sixth Commandment, Chapter 20, Verse 13

Seventh Commandment' Chapter 20, Verse 14

Eighth Commandment, Chapter 20, Verse 15

Ninth Commandment, Chapter 20, Verse 16

Tenth Commandment, Chapter 20, Verse 17

However, if we follow the story from Ex. 20 on to Chap. 24, and then to 32, we see where Moses broke this tablet of stone (v. 15-19), and God said he would write another tablet (34:1).

But, here's why I don't believe the Moses myth: The "Lord" did not write the same words, he wrote a completely different set of commandments on the replacement tablet. These laws are:

I quote Chapter 34, verse 10:

Professor K. Budde, in his History of Ancient Hebrew Literature, has done this, and lists the Commandments as follows:

So, the Bible is not clear which are the real Ten Commandments. Is it the set written on stone in Ex. 20? Is it the set written again on stone in Ex. 34? Or is it the set reiterated in Deut. 5? All three are different from one another. One says to keep the Sabbath because we were delivered from Egypt (although I've never been to Egypt). The other says to keep the Sabbath because the Universe was created in six days (although we know the Universe is billions of years old). The third gives no reason for keeping the Sabbath.

Also, if I, as an atheist, cannot distinguish right from wrong, then I cannot tell if your Bible is right or wrong.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To:
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Your site...
Date: Monday, May 24, 1999 6:46 AM
 

So, then, answer my question: If God, or a voice in your head that claimed to be God, or a Scripture, ordered you to sacrifice or kill one of your sons or daughters, would you obey? Yes, or no?
 

I suppose you think this is a joke?

Tell me, since "all of the creation" speaks the message of the Gospel of Jesus, why am I not comprehending it? Why, when I look up into the sky, do I not see or detect the Gospel message of Jesus?
 

Huh?

Again. Answer my objection: The Commandments story has all the elements of a myth. There is no historical evidence outside of the books of Moses that that number of Hebrews lived in Egypt at that time. None. There are no Egyptian words in the Hebrew language, like you would expect if they'd lived in Egypt for 430 years (or 400, depending on which verse you consult).
 

You dodged my objection again. Don't you believe in obeying I Pet. iii. 15 ("be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear")?

I asked you why the Lord told Moses that He would write the same Commandments on the second tablet that He had written on the first, but it turns out that He wrote a completely different Ten Commandments on the Second Tablet, one of which is "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother's milk."

It would take a miracle indeed if I were to go ahead and believe something that I can clearly see is a myth -- a self-contradicting story, written by opportunistic men for the purpose of exploiting the gullible.
 

You are asking me to let God be my teacher, when you haven't even convinced me that God exists. Isn't that putting the cart before the horse?

I will ask my question again: If I cannot tell right from wrong without believing in Jesus (as you have stated), then how can I be expected to tell if you are right, considering that I cannot tell right from wrong?

Does it not make more sense that perhaps I can tell right from wrong? Perhaps I do have a brain? If God existed, I would assume He would want us to use our brains!

Please answer my objections. Please do not side-step my questions this time.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To:
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Your site...
Date: Monday, May 24, 1999 5:21 PM

You wrote to me, telling me how good your religion is compared to my atheism. If this is true, if I am wrong, I want to know.

The questions I have asked come straight out of the Bible and are in response to what you said. I did not raise any questions except regarding what you claimed.

I still want to know why your god said He would write the same thing on the second Tablets, but He did not do this, he wrote entirely different laws. I had always thought the Ten Commandments were the Ten Commandments and that's that -- until I read this.

This question is the main reason why I think the whole Ten Commandments story is probably a myth.

You need to explain to me that the Ten Commandments story is true, before you can truthfully claim that your morality is better than mine. You need to be able to give a "ready defense" (I Pet. iii. 15) before you can tell me that I "can not discern wrong from right" without the Ten Commandments.

Which Ten Commandments? The first set (Ex. xx.)? The second set (Ex. xxxiv. et. seq.)? The summary in Deuteronomy iv.? There are three different sets of Ten Commandments.

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"[Yada yada]" is a way of saying "etc.," but meaning you don't believe what I am saying here.

Again: would you kill your son or daughter if you thought God told you to do so (Judg. xi. 30-40)?

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The sky is part of "all creation" (assuming this mess was created), and so is my lawn. Should, then, I be able to look (or listen to) my lawn and detect the Gospel message of Jesus Christ clearly enough that I am "without excuse"?

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True Christians? To me, anyone who calls himself a Christian is a Christian.

And yes, I read in the paper all the time about people who pray, and get left out in the cold. No gods answer their prayers; no gods perform miracles to save their children from dreadful diseases.
 

I went to Church for several years and felt no such thing. No excuse, now, because I was diligently looking and honestly and sincerely seeking.
 

I don't understand your point here, either.

Here is my question again: The Ten Commandments story has all the evidence of being a myth, written much later than when it happened. There is no independent evidence that Moses ever lived. This being the case, why should I believe that the Ten Commandments hold any weight?

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You missed my point entirely. (Do I detect a trend, here?)

I will ask again: You told me that your morals were superior to mine because you have the Ten Commandments. You said: "The consequences from atheism with no God as a center for living will form a people that can not discern wrong from right, thats because the ten commandments is a basic for our living."

Thus, you claim superiority over me because of the Ten Commandments. You say that I cannot discern right from wrong.

These are very strong claims you made, and I insist that you back these claims up with a "ready defense" as I Peter puts it.

If you cannot make a "ready defense" in the spirit of I Peter, then I want you to apologize to me and to the readers of this forum. Tell us that you are sorry and that what you said is not really true.

If you neither make a "ready defense" nor apologize to me, then we will know that what you say is not true, when you told me you have a superior sense of morality than I.

To me, any good sense of morality at all would never make claims that are not true. Any sense of morality will admit when we make errors. We can protect ourselves by not making claims about things that we don't know about. I claim the Ten Commandments story is fiction. I have a right to make this claim because I have read many of the major works regarding the historical evidence of Moses. I at least know some of the arguments, even if I don't believe them.

I suggest that you study some of the things that atheists say about themselves, before you go telling an atheist that your morals are superior to his. Many atheists have a very powerful sense of right and wrong, and quite a few of them can explain to you why they think their sense of morality is better than any found in the Bible.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To:
Subject: Re: Some quotes
Date: Friday, June 04, 1999 6:42 PM

Sir, I am growing weary of your constant falsehood and your refusal to answer my specific questions to you. You simply make claims and leave it at that. This time, you claimed that Washington and Lincoln were devout Christians, and nothing could be further from what history says. Lincoln was known by his closest friends as "not a Christian" and "an infidel, perhaps an atheist." Washington said almost nothing about religion (not what we would expect from a devout Christian) and certainly acted like you would expect a nonreligious person to act, who was under obligation to be polite about it. We know more about what kinds of liquor Washington liked to drink than about his religious beliefs.

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WASHINGTON:

The George Washington quote is known to be false. It has been floating around Christian circles in America for years. It has never been verified, despite attempts by Washington scholars. Consequently, the man who initially popularized it, David Barton, has officially asked his followers to stop using it. Barton's group, WallBuilders' issued a one-page document titled "Questionable Quotes," a list of 12 statements allegedly uttered by Founding Fathers and other prominent historical figures, that are now considered to be suspect or outright false.

I have read Washington's writings extensively, and he makes very few utterances of a religious nature. We do know this much: Washington used to attend his wife's church, but would duck out the back door before Communion was served. His rector (pastor) publicly denounced his acts. After this, Washington simply did not show up when he knew Communion was to be served.

Also, some people wrote about having visited the Washington family for dinner, and they remarked that George did not pray over the meal, as was customary for the father to do at meals in those times. When he died, his only concern was that he not be buried for at least three days. He said nothing of a religious nature during his final hours -- nothing to indicate that he looked forward to an afterlife of any kind. We have this from the man who was there when he died.

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LINCOLN:

The Lincoln quotes go completely against the grain of what Lincoln believed and said. I challenge you to give sources for these quotes. Both quotes entirely contradict what we know A. Lincoln has said about the Bible, and what his wife said about him:

"My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them." -- Abraham Lincoln, to Judge J. S. Wakefield, after Willie Lincoln's death.

"Mr. Lincoln was not a Christian." -- Mary Todd Lincoln.

"It is an established maxim and moral that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false is guilty of falsehood, and the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify or excuse him." -- Abraham Lincoln, chiding the editor of a Springfield, Illinois, newspaper.

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Sir, I issue a heartfelt challenge to you to pay serious attention to the third Lincoln quote I have given you. According to Lincoln, if you make an assertion without finding out if it is true or false, you are guilty of falsehood (lying). I have yet to go this far with you. In my last letter, I had accused you of deliberately lying to me, but I deleted that sentence before I sent it to you. This does not mean I think you are a truth-teller.

I did, however, ask that you demonstrate the truthfulness of your claim that the Ten Commandments are a superior moral system than any atheist could develop. I also asked that if you cannot provide an argument in favor of the Ten Commandments, that you apologize for having make that claim without having a "ready defense" for your claim.

Also, you still have yet to answer my original question to you: If God ordered you to kill your son or daughter, would you obey? This question requires no research or knowledge. It is a simple "Would you do it? Yes, or no?" question that requires no Bible scholarship. I believe you were the one to first mention human sacrifice in this discussion, and your context is that Christianity and its Ten Commandments are superior to the religion of the ancient Swedes whom (you say) practiced human sacrifice.

Yet I have shown you that the Hebrew Scriptures, which you deem the Word of God, advocates Human Sacrifice in at least three passages: Genesis 20-22; Judges 11:30-40; and especially Numbers 31:40, where 32 women were "the Lord's trubute" as commanded by God through Moses. This is the same Moses character who allegedly wrote the Ten Commandments (three different versions of them), that you tell me we ought to obey.

Yet, you fail to answer my question about one of the auxiliary commandments: Would you sacrifice your child if your God told you to, or if a voice in your head or a scripture on parchment commanded you to? Remember what Psalm 137:9 says: "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." Would you do this if it meant eternal bliss in Heaven?

I don't think you actually believe this stuff. I think you have simply been told to repeat a dogma and then to tell others that that is what you believe. I doubt that you would sacrifice one of your children even if Jesus himself appeared to you and ordered you to do it. I know I wouldn't sacrifice any child -- mine or anyone else's -- not for any Jesus, and not for any God.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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After this demand for an apology, we heard nary a peep from Mr. Jonas of Sweden -- even almost two years later at the formatting of this dialogue.

 

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Material by Cliff Walker (including unsigned editorial commentary) is copyright ©1995-2006 by Cliff Walker. Each submission is copyrighted by its writer, who retains control of the work except that by submitting it to Positive Atheism, permission has been granted to use the material or an edited version: (1) on the Positive Atheism web site; (2) in Positive Atheism Magazine; (3) in subsequent works controlled by Cliff Walker or Positive Atheism Magazine (including published or posted compilations). Excerpts not exceeding 500 words are allowed provided the proper copyright notice is affixed. Other use requires permission; Positive Atheism will work to protect the rights of all who submit their writings to us.