The Need For
Organized Atheist Groups
[unsigned]

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To:
Subject: Re: via What is Positive Atheism?
Date: Sunday, December 12, 1999 6:13 AM

Atheism is but a small part of anyone's overall world view, and is never the world view itself.

Organized atheism exists only to counter the claims of theism. Anything more than this belongs in another category, and is not rightly called atheism.

One's atheism can influence one's activism in certain subjects. For example, in my home state of Oregon, we passed a wonderful Death With Dignity Act. This Act has powerful protections against abuse, and is even covered by the Oregon Health Plan. The bulk of the funding for the opposition came directly from the Vatican, and the rest from other religions interests. They tell us that it is wrong for Catholics to kill themselves. I say that if you are a Catholic, then your only option is to suffer out a long, expensive, painful death (if that's the hand your body deals to you). I don't understand why I should obey a rule that exists only in religious teachings, so I supported the Death With Dignity measures and called it atheistic activism.

I don't know how you would organize atheists. My experience is that those who tend to organize into groups also tend to be somewhat fundamentalistic in their approach to atheism. I oppose fundamentalism of any kind more viciously than I oppose even theism. (This is part of the reason why I am no longer involved in any organized group activities.)

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To:
Subject: Re: via What is Positive Atheism?
Date: Sunday, December 12, 1999 12:39 PM

First, I said that organized atheism exists only to counter the claims of theism. Atheism itself simply is, being nothing more than the lack of theism, but would not be noticed or discussed were it not for the claims of theism.

"Positive Atheism" (as we use the term) is a proactive ethic, a more comprehensive philosophy than mere atheism.

Atheism is but one element of "Positive Atheism," which itself is not a comprehensive outlook (although it contains more elements than just simple atheism).

We encourage people who are already atheists to practice self-consistency as a means to freedom. Gora said, "The insistence on truthfulness does not disturb the freedom of the individual. An atheist is free to say or to do what he likes, provided he does what he says and says what he does." Elsewhere Gora talks about keeping no secrets, and I have discussed not doing anything which I would want to be kept a secret. The other important element we derive from Gora is in our current signature: "Changes take place, not independent of man's will, but on account of man's wills. Civilization has progressed by man's interference with material conditions." However, we don't go so far as to assert that any surrender is a form of theism. (I'm not convinced that Gora meant this either; his grasp of the English language was good but not excellent, so some of his statements are tough to pin down.)

As such, a variation of "Positive Atheism" (the outlook) is, I think, most conducive to the activities and organization you seek. Perhaps a visit to the Atheist Centre may be in order. At minimum, I think you do well to study the works of Gora, and to discover what grand things the Atheist Centre in Vijayawada, India, has done to help people in both material aid and also in showing India's brands of superstition to be not only groundless but highly debilitating.

You can read the prototype of our mission statement at: and you can read Gora's book. But please be aware that we do not subscribe to Gora's social plan; we only strongly consider some of his personal ethics and build from there.

We also recognize that all atheists rightly develop their own system of ethics. In this sense, we are not telling anybody what to do, neither are we saying that our understanding of atheism is superior to another version.

We recognize that organized atheism has suffered major setbacks because certain prominent leaders (and many local leaders) have expressed openly hostility toward any and all theists. "Positive Atheism" Magazine has begun seeking out people willing to become official advisors. The first such person to agree to such a role is a seminarian -- an up-and-coming pastor -- whose views I find quite refreshing, and who has shown a willingness to help us formulate our message so that it can appear more credible in the eyes of theists. If we express any disdain, it would be toward fundamentalism, which is not limited to theists. Our distaste for fundamentalism outshines even our aversion to theism.

Aside from our outlook, we advocate for two things: (1) dignity for atheists; (2) state-church separation, and we are quietly busy at the local (Oregon) and national levels.

This is what we're doing in our neck of the woods. I wish I could stomach any of the local atheistic groups here, but I cannot. This is the forum I now have, and I use it to the best of my meager ability to make what tiny of an impact I can on how atheism is seen by both atheists and theists.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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