Why Convince Others
That God Doesn't Exist?
From: Juno Account
To: "Positive Atheism" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: A question
Date: Tuesday, April 25, 2000 9:58 PM
Dear sir, I have a question for you, but I first want to clear something up. I read your disclaimer about us theists and I want to formally apologize on the behalf of all Christians for any tirades you receive from those who feel they are doing God a service by lashing out at others. They are wrong in doing so. Well, here's my question. If God doesn't exist, then why have you felt the need to devote your life to convincing yourself and others that He doesn't? If he didn't exist, then why are we talking about Him? You don't really see that many websites or organizations devoted to disproving the exsistence of the Tooth Fairy, do you? Why? Because the Tooth Fairy is such a ridiculous idea. If the idea of God is so ridiculous, as you believe, then why go to the trouble of making a website, doing research, and writing articles? Just a thought...
From: "Positive Atheism" <email@example.com>
To: Juno Account
Subject: Re: A question
Date: Wednesday, April 26, 2000 4:42 AM
If God doesn't exist, then why have you felt the need to devote your life to convincing yourself and others that He doesn't?
First, I have devoted my life to living a productive and enjoyable life.
My work as an atheistic activist has been a very small part of my life. Out of 43 years of existence, I have produced a monthly atheistic magazine for fewer than five of those years. Nevertheless, I am sure that most American theists devote less of their life to propagating theism than I devote defending my position against attacks by theists. I do not propagate atheism. Rather, my entire approach is in the context of a response: if they attack, then I respond; if they act in a dignified manner, then I say nothing on the subject.
Still, what I do is not by any means a full-time endeavor.
Secondly, I don't need to convince myself that none of the god-claims I have heard are true. It is the theist's responsibility to convince me that his or her claims are valid, since it the theist -- not the atheist -- who makes the claims in this matter. Thus far, no god-claim that I have heard makes sense to me: I remain an atheist.
You see, an atheist is (at minimum) a person who lacks theism -- who lacks a god belief. Only a small percentage of atheists vocally and confidently assert that gods do not exist. The rest of us simply have not pondered the matter or have not encountered a god claim that holds water.
Since I am not making any claim, I have nothing to prove. All I ever do is raise doubts about theists' claims. Since most theistic claims are extremely flimsy, I can often detect the flaws before the theist is even finished speaking. Admittedly, some theistic claims are very formidable, but this does not warrant my becoming a theist, it only means that I must actually do some work before I can dismiss those claims as not worthy of my belief.
Thirdly, I am not trying to convince anybody of the validity of the
atheistic position. I write a magazine and host a webpage whose target
audience is people who are already atheistic. I have nothing to
say to theists. I will, however (out of courtesy, and as a learning experience
and a teaching tool), respond to most theists who write to Positive
Atheism and will often post or publish those exchanges.
If he didn't exist, then why are we talking about Him? You don't really see that many websites or organizations devoted to disproving the exsistence of the Tooth Fairy, do you? Why? Because the Tooth Fairy is such a ridiculous idea. If the idea of God is so ridiculous, as you believe, then why go to the trouble of making a website, doing research, and writing articles?
The Easter Bunny doesn't exist (as far as I can tell), but he was the subject of at least a dozen comic strips last Sunday. If the Easter Bunny doesn't exist, why did they talk so much about him in the comic strips this past weekend?
Meanwhile, yes: the notions of Jesus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Yahweh The Volcano God Of Pure Unadulterated Vengeance, that bloodthirsty pair Allah and Quetzalcoatl, and Hump the Wonder Panda are equally ridiculous from my perspective. It is not the ridiculousness of an idea that earns it my opposition, it is how much damage that idea wreaks upon humanity that warrants our vocal opposition to it. When Pat Robertson lies to Congress, and when he cloaks those lies behind a mantle of "God and Country," I cannot remain silent: I must speak out. Way too may people swallow his drivel -- hook, line, and sinker -- for me to place his god-beliefs on equal par with the Tooth Fairy tale.
I have been severely harmed by people who claim that the Christian "God" exists, mostly people who wish for me to share in their delusion, and also by people who hate me for not joining them in thier imbecilities. (I was held in jail in 1988 for refusing to a court order to undergo religious instruction.) If it were the Easter Bunny enthusiasts who were disrupting and damaging my life by trying to get me to assent to that falsehood, I would probably spend more of my time talking about the Easter Bunny. But it is the "God" enthusiasts who want to take away my rights and want to insist that I am second class or sub-human or wicked (or worse: worthy of their sympathy) because I do not believe their claims.
The mayor of Miami, not three days ago, vilified the INS agents who took Elian in from the arms of his rescuerand returned him to his father. The language that the mayor used was, "These are atheists." The mayor used the term "atheists" to vilify the agents. If he had said, "These are Jews" or "These are Roman Catholics," the proceedings would have already begun for having him removed from office. But he said, "These are atheists," and nobody but Positive Atheism Magazine raises a stink about it.
If the mayor uses the word atheists to vilify people he thinks are evil, then obviously the mayor believes in this or that god. It is important for us atheists to find out what kind of god the mayor believes in, what kind of theological and ethical outlook would prompt him to use the word atheists as a synonym for "very wicked people." Only then can we begin to rectify the great harm that has been done to atheists worldwide by this mayor's inappropriate and extremely destructive behavior.
Thus, even when we are minding our own business, our jaws dropping in shock over what the agents did and how they did it, somebody's god comes into the picture do harm us once again. This time, it is the god that the mayor of Miami believes in, as well as the god concepts of those who either supported or ignored his contemptible deed.
And I promise you that the god of the Miami mayor is neither the Tooth Fairy nor the Easter Bunny.
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
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