'Positive Atheism' Discussion
Needs 'Basic Atheism' Section
Matthew Gosselin

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Matthew Gosselin"
Subject: Re: via What is Positive Atheism?
Date: Tuesday, July 11, 2000 5:51 PM

I noticed this as I was reading that section last week. I had such a discussion there at one point, and got lots of flack over it, because it was more a discussion of the basic issues pertaining to atheism than a discussion on how Positive Atheism differs from either. Then I became very busy and lost track of what I was doing with that piece. I think it is time to consider moving some of these discussions we've been having on the Letters forum over to the What Is Positive Atheism? section, and mirroring both discussions in our FAQ section.

Meanwhile, the letters linked from the Michael Shermer letter: "Atheism, Agnosticism, Theism, And Keeping A Level Head" by Johan Grahn and "Semantics and Gawd: On Michael Shermer's Response" by James Beacham cover this topic nicely, as do the two pieces by George H. Smith, "Defining Atheism" and "The Scope of Atheism." We agree with Smith's definition of atheism as expressed in these two pieces, and I am constantly referring readers to them.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Matthew Gosselin"
Subject: Re: via What is Positive Atheism?
Date: Thursday, July 27, 2000 11:17 PM

Just an update on our last response:

We would like to thank you for suggesting that we take another look at our Mission Statement and FAQ. This idea has sparked a lot of work on our part over the past two weeks, and much of what has ensued can be seen only as a stoke of luck.

We began rewriting the "What Is Atheism?" section of our FAQ, but it is not finished. Once we have finished it, the entire FAQ needs to be reformatted because the endnote numbering changes on down the line with any change at the top of the document, and "What Is Atheism?" is the first section. So all the endnotes in the entire document will change after I alter the first section. I also must rewrite several sections in the "What Is Theism?" section as well, particularly the Pantheism and Deism sections.

We have been revamping our description of the philosophy of Positive Atheism. These changes resulted from a discussion with pantheist John Love-Jensen, and have been refined in dialogues with pantheist Trene Valdrek, and atheist Bill Garrett.

Basically, I have come up with four points, which are included as optional points within the scheme of the philosophy of Positive Atheism. Positive Atheism includes any or all of the following points: (1) Positive Atheism may include a proactive ethic which makes truth and truthfulness the supreme ethic. (2) Positive Atheism may be seen as positive in the cooperative and uplifting sense, as opposed to "slamming" theism and theists. I've been telling people that I think every believer has valid reasons for believing. (3) Positive Atheism may advocating the "weak" definition for the word atheism ("I simply lack a god belief" -- for whatever reason) rather than the "strong" definition ("No gods exist") as being a powerful tool both to bolster the atheistic position and to minimize the stigma that we all have endured for so long. (4) Positive Atheism may describe that sense of awe toward nature that prompts some to become pantheists and others to become Deists or even creationists. In this sense, Positive Atheism would see Deism, creationism, and pantheism as inadequate expressions of this sense of awe that some of us feel toward nature.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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