'Pity For The Poor Atheist!'
(April, 2000, Column)
Boyd Dunford

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Boyd Dunford"
Date: Tuesday, June 06, 2000 8:56 PM

The spontaneous response I gave to her reflected what I had been reading lately, and this column was written for the purpose of getting that message across.

Positive Atheism Magazine is dedicated (among other things) to ending bigotry against atheists and opening doors of communication between atheists and theists. We do this by pointing out instances of bigotry, examining the thinking that leads to such bigotry (as I did in the column), and trying to be reasonable toward theists (as we hope theists would be toward us).

PAM downplays the style of atheism which criticizes or pokes fun at specific theistic beliefs (though we do occasionally indulge in such practices, and have in the past).

I realize that superstition is a common component in fostering bigotry, but I think the real culprit is fundamentalistic (loyalistic and unscientific) thinking. Superstition is just one form of thinking that can be treated fundamentalistically to foster bigotry. If we see superstition as the culprit, and not fundamentalistic thinking, then we run the risk of seeing ourselves as immune to bigotry (because we're not superstitious). My experience has been that atheists can be just as bigoted as theists, and I have suffered more severely at the hands of bigoted atheists (defending the cause of atheism) than I have at the hands of bigoted theists (in the name of God).

I do agree with all your thoughts regarding the unknown. However, if I were to experience this same situation again, knowing what I do now and having considered your letter, I would still want to respond by asking, "Why do you feel sorry for me?" and by thinking that this condescending attitude is a cause of bigotry against atheists.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

Graphic Rule

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.