Listen For The
Knock On The Door
Alan Stevens

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To:
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Friday, January 21, 2000 11:49 PM

What knock? What door? Explain.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Alan Stevens"
Subject: Re: [Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section]
Date: Saturday, January 22, 2000 8:46 PM

What if that "something missing" is Mom?

I'll tell you what: I was an Evangelical Christian once, and now realize that my emotions will never be entirely intact, and that I will always be reaching out for -- whatever. This, I think, is normal, healthy human experience; if I didn't feel this way, I would think something is wrong with me (that, perhaps, I had joined a cult or have become addicted to drugs or something of that nature). I have taken drugs and know what it is like not to have this feeling (although the cults -- including the cult of Evangelical Christianity -- were never powerful enough to arrest this feeling of longing).

Actually, I feel more "complete" now that I have abandoned Christianity, now that I have decided to live my life the way I see fit (and not the way somebody else thinks I should run my life), now that I take full responsibility for my actions, now that I have learned to be happy with myself as my only companion (if need be).

Sometimes it gets lonely -- fiercely lonely. I have spent the past four months going to these two bars that are owned by the same fellow. I don't drink, but I love to sing, and both bars offer karaoke. I have a large collection of my own karaoke CDs and like to bring them in rather than sing what is usually at the bars. Well, guess what? The owner was talked into not allowing people to bring their own CDs to play. (I refuse to cave in and go with the flow on this one; there are many other places that allow you to bring your own CDs and I will start afresh at one of these places.)

Now the entire social situation that I have built for the past several months is gone! After about a week of coping with depression and loneliness and the feelings of betrayal, I am ready, once again, to find other situations in which to meet people. The investments I made in meeting people are not in vain, because I can keep the social skills I learned (and -- I am a little bit wiser to the wiles of some humans).

But yes, something is missing from my life right now: my entire social group is suddenly gone and I am alone.

I now must ask you to demonstrate to me, from this feeling that I have (that you accurately describe) the following: (1) that a god exists; (2) that that god is the Jesus you describe; (3) that this Jesus you describe is "knocking" at the "door" to my "heart." How does the one inevitably lead to the conclusion you present? (Be sure to show your work.)
 

You should listen to me. Mine is the final word on what I believe and what I know -- not some ancient scroll whose credibility is hotly disputed.

I will tell you in all honesty what I believe and what I know and what I see: When I look at my environment (what you, prematurely, for this discussion, call "creation"), I see no evidence for the existence of any beings that answer to your description of "God." (I don't see a "God" even when I am looking for such a being and even during those times when I have wanted for there to be such a being!)

Some Christians cite Romans 1:18-24 in order to denigrate atheists and to misrepresent what we see when we open our eyes. To say that we all know, deep down, that a "God" exists, is pure bigotry on the part of the Christians who do this to us atheists. In our Letters section, I have extensively discussed this common practice.
 

Can you demonstrate to me that this "Satan" character (of which you speak) has not deceived you? In other words, how do you know that you are not following "another gospel" such as is described in Galatians?

How do you know Paul himself was telling the truth, seeing how he disagreed so vehemently with Peter -- as is admitted in Galatians 2? How do you know that the "truth" settled upon Paul's followers, and that it did not die off in Jerusalem when she was wiped out by Titus in C.E. 66-70 and C.E. 132? How do you know that the "truth" that survived is the real one, and that the "truth" that died off with its messengers was falsehood?

Have you ever studied the claims of the Ebionites? They maintained to have been the original followers of Jesus, that Paul was a charlatan and an opportunist, and that Jesus was not a god but a man whose goal was to save his country from Roman tyranny. This is not a story that would have survived unless the Judaeans had prevailed over the Romans. The Romans, it turned out, prevailed, and this version died off in favor of the Gospel we have today (which, by the way, offers nothing but praise for the Roman characters and has nothing good to say about Jewish loyalists).

One saying that is attributed to Christ (but which is much more ancient than the times of Christ) is, "By their fruits shall you know them." Whether any "Christ" said this, I cannot say; however, I agree with the interpretation that says that a moral philosophy is useless if it does not inspire people to be more moral than they ordinarily would be.

Christians, throughout history, have been cruel beyond imagination. We are not talking about Mencken's "off-duty" Christians (sitting in their homes and feeding their families), but the Christians who are actively stumping for Christianity (the preachers, the priests, the missionaries, and the Christian-based governments enforcing Christianity as the state religion). The Christians who have answered the so-called Great Commission have been frightfully cruel throughout history; when Christianity has been the officially enforced state religion, human progress has gone backwards and human misery has reigned and the stench of premature death has filled the air.

The zeal to obey "The Great Commission" has produced: the witch hunts; the Inquisition; the destruction of science in Europe and elsewhere; the enslavement of African humans; subordination of women; the degradation and slaughter of homosexuals, infidels, and the mentally ill (and this indignity continues in one form or another even today; it is even hinted at in your letter to me, with your Romans comment). This one fact is more than reason enough for me to reject Christianity out of hand: I need look no further than this to be satisfied that I have made a wise decision in rejecting Christianity (and even in denouncing it). The Christian religion cannot be anything but falsehood. If there was such thing as a "Satan" I would accuse him of inventing Christianity.

You have a long way to go before you even approach my objections to the "God" idea. Even if you can get me to come over to your side on the "God" issue, you still have a monumental up-hill battle in answering my objections to the Christian religion. I am not telling you that I am closed to your claims (although I have heard the same rhetoric thousands of times); I am saying that you must first get beyond my objections to the existence of "God in general" and then, after that, you have the task of getting beyond my numerous (and fierce) objections to the Christian religion -- starting with the validity of the Bible message and the historicity of Jesus.

In other words, you have made your claim, but you have not made your case. Your claim is just that: a claim.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Alan Stevens"
Subject: Re: [Re: [Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section]]
Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2000 2:27 PM

This reply is typical of fundamentalistic thinking, and typical of someone who wasn't there and who doesn't know the facts. Here is fundamentalism: either I did something wrong, or someone else did something wrong -- but Christianity can do no wrong. That is the essence of fundamentalistic thinking; I should know because I was a fundamentalist (Evangelical) Christian once.

More importantly, I am deeply offended that you would be so flippant on a subject that has caused me untold grief and over an incident that has caused me permanent damage. Still more crucial than that is that you would so casually dismiss what I have discovered to be the truth about the Christian Bible: it is myth, the word of no god, and it is not to be trusted.

I left the church upon discovering that the Bible is falsehood and that the central figures of the Bible -- Jesus, Moses, Jehovah -- are mythological, and not historical. If anybody or anything can be said to have hurt me, it was the Bible and its message. I talked myself into believing it to the point of knowing it could withstand any scrutiny I could muster (after all, I told myself, it's the Word of God). I wanted deeply for the Bible to be true because my very life depended on it being true (or so I thought). Well, it didn't withstand very much scrutiny. Once I finished the Josh McDowell books and moved on to some bona fide apologetics, the whole thing unraveled before my very eyes. So did my life, because my entire life was caught up in the Bible and in Christianity. I refused to continue preaching or even practicing what I then knew to be a lie -- the monumental lie of all history.

This was a tough decision for me to make, because I not only lost my entire world view and my entire social structure, I lost my God. God Himself had failed me -- by turning out to have been fiction, a figment of my imagination.

Upon making the decision to leave, I had to spend years working toward adjusting to my new world-view. There are many help programs to help you adjust to converting to Christianity, but there are no help programs to help you adjust to leaving the church. I was alone: friendless and with few social skills beyond what I had taught myself in Church. Again, I am deeply hurt that you would marginalize what may have been the most painful and traumatic experience of my life.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Alan Stevens"
Subject: Re: [Re: [Re: [Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section]]]
Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2000 7:40 PM

The fact that what you said about me is falsehood (and I should know better about my motives than anyone) is what is so offensive about your comment.

Like I said, fundamentalism says that the revered dogma "has to be true" -- regardless of anything that may or may not actually be true.
 

By assuming that I don't want to listen, you continue your fundamentalistic theme and ensnare yourself into further falsehood. If I did not want to listen, I wouldn't entertain questions from theists; the statement on our front page would state that this website is exclusively for the benefit of atheists. While I don't enjoy receiving the same abuse from theists -- letter after letter of it -- my official position is that I am open to hearing a new argument for the existence of God and for the validity of the Bible. This separates me from many atheists who are just as fundamentalistic in their atheism as you appear to be in your Christianity.

Again, I know more about my motives than you do, and you offend in presupposing things about my motives and then proceeding to argue against your presupposition. You do well, instead, to discover my actual position and to argue against that position.

My position is this: I have yet to encounter an argument for the existence of God that holds water. I have yet to encounter an argument for the validity of the Bible that I find convincing. Since I am making no claim (such as, "God exists" or "the Bible is true"), then I have no obligation to back up my claim. I need merely listen. The one making the claim is obligated to back up the claim, or I don't have to believe the claim.

I have read the Bible many times (perhaps more times than you have; certainly more times than the vast majority of Christians have). I have weighed it and it is found wanting. That does not mean I am closed to the matter, but that Bible apologists have a monumental task before them if they are to bring credibility to the Bible in an atmosphere of critical inquiry.

Thus, if, in dealing with me, you wish to base your arguments on the Bible, you must first bring credibility to the Bible in my eyes: the Bible must withstand the criticism I have against it. Simply telling me that "the Bible says such and so" won't work because I have no reason to believe that the Bible is a book of truth.
 

This reasoning goes beyond simple fundamentalism and enters the realm of the cultic, of full-blown brainwashing techniques.

It is also the classic example of Circular Reasoning found in so many introductory books on logic and reasoning: The Bible is the word of God because God says it in the Bible, which is the word of God. And around and around.

Meanwhile, if God wants me to believe, and if God can show me (or even open my mind to see), then why do I remain unconvinced? Why do so many remain unconvinced? (There are more atheists and nontheists than there are Roman Catholics or non-Catholic Christians or Muslims.) Why do we insist that we see no reason to believe in God? How could the number of non-Christians be so great if God can enable us to see, and if God wants us to see?
 

Sure I can. Not only that, but the vast majority of those who call themselves Christians acknowledge that the Bible contradicts itself and also contradicts reality.

C. Dennis McKinsey has written an entire Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy. Have you answered all the objections McKinsey has raised? (Can you answer any of them? I can answer some of them, but most of them are rock solid and I doubt they can be answered. My proof of this is the fact that the newest translation, the New International Version, has deliberately altered the text in order to cover up many of the problems raised by McKinsey and others.)

Better yet, can you answer the objection that initially baffled me? (I did not get this one from McKinsey; I have seen nobody else expound on it as a Bible problem.) It is what I have since called "The Fig Tree Enigma" and is posted in the collection of Cliff's writings, and is reiterated in our National Bible Week Poster -- both of which are linked from our front page. Please answer the objections raised in the Fig Tree Enigma before you continue your abusive tone.

The Fig Tree Enigma
by Cliff Walker, from our National Bible Week Poster

Mark 11:12-14, 20-21:

The next day..., Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again."... In the morning..., they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter ... said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree ... has withered!" (NIV)

Points to remember

  • Jesus was hungry.
  • He looked for figs on a tree.
  • But it was not fig season.

Questions to ponder

  • If it wasn't fig season, why would even a moron look for figs?
     
  • Is killing a tree for not bearing fruit out of season a reasonable response by any standard?
     
  • Matthew 21:18-21 (written after and based upon Mark) says it withered at once. Mark says they saw it the next day and then marveled. Something's terribly wrong, here. Was Matthew possibly dissatisfied with a Jesus who'd take an entire day to wither a damned fig tree?
     

Any more outbursts like this and I will ask you to stop writing. I've been very patient with you.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To:
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Saturday, July 08, 2000 3:25 PM

Here it is:
http://www.positiveatheism.org/mail/eml9622.htm

This one was like watching a Mexican and a Chinese arguing with each other in their own respective languages.

You refused to address my questions and continued making assumptions about me even though I pointed out that your assumptions were wrong.

Your replies consisted of long block paragraphs of the same biblical drivel that I get day after day from Fundamentalist Christians who log onto a website that clearly states that its target audience is atheists, but who want to try to "set us straight" anyway. I've heard this stuff for years (and even spouted some of it myself as a confused young adult) and I already know what I think about it.

Most frustrating is the thinking style that goes along with the Fundamentalist Christian outlook. I have trained myself in how to think and am saddened that someone could waste their mind by memorizing rhetoric and defending an absolutistic dogma rather than learning to think through any given situation and learning to discuss an opposing viewpoint. Oh well. It's not my life so I cannot get too bugged about what you do to yourself, can I?

Finally, you were patently dishonest about this whole thing, accusing me of thinking a certain way (simply because an obscure Bible verse, when interpreted by a certain sect, appears to say that all people think this way). You refused to let me state what is on my mind and what I believe and how I see things, even though mine if the final word on that matter.

I was on the verge of blocking your e-mail address from our domain when the "conversation" (thankfully) ended.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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