The Pot Calling
The Kettle 'Pagan'
Ariel Cruz

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <>
To: "Ariel Cruz"
Subject: Re: The pot calling the kettle "Pagan"
Date: Saturday, July 29, 2000 6:59 AM

If you can go online to such websites as Advanced Book Exchange or Powell's City of Books or even the very spendy Barnes and Noble used book service, you might find a copy of Man and His Gods by Homer Smith (circa early 1950s, with introduction by Albert Einstein). I'll bet your university library has it. This book is on my to-do list of full-length books to eventually convert to HTML. I have two copies: one for keepers and the other to trash on the scanner. If you know anybody who would be willing to do the scanning and initial OCR -- or even just the scanning (which is tough on me because of scoliosis) -- I'd be glad to do the final copy editing and/or OCR work. Michael Jordan's Encyclopedia of Gods is a real hoot, but lacks anything chronological, being simply a listing of over 2,500 deities and consorts, with descriptions.

A great new book on the origins of Christianity (and note the plural origins), is Deconstructing Jesus by Robert M. Price, which takes on the Historical Jesus movements (note the plural here, too). This brilliant post-Punk work argues that the common notion that there was ever a pure form of Christianity "before heresy set in" is just a myth. Rather, the "heresy" lies in the notion that there ever was a pure form of Christianity before Constantine's and Augustine's initial revision of Christian history. Thus, Price advocates what he calls "Jesus agnosticism" because even if a historical Jesus existed, we cannot know who he was or what he was like. And this book is far from dry: the more familiar you are with the various Jesus hypotheses throughout history, the more you will find yourself rolling onto the floor with laughter over the subtle, humorous jabs Price throws toward these suppositions. Many phrases that would come off to a regular reader as quirky wording are actually subtle "in" comments to a reader familiar with the issues and literature. I can send you just about anywhere with the Jesus bit, but Price's book has recently usurped them all in our eyes. Almost anything published by Prometheus will be an eye-opener, and the bibliographies in those will lead you to the main historical works.

While this use of the word god is in the dictionaries, the Christian application of it here is still wrong. When they lay this one on me, telling me that atheism or Darwin is my god (or worse, that I am my own god), I have gone so far as to suggest that the Bible or Fundamentalist Christianity or the Religious Right is their god. In doing this, I show that this use of the word god is inappropriate for such discussions. They are engaging in the fallacy of equivocation, which involves using two different meanings for the same word in the same context. In this case, they apply one definition of god for themselves and another for their opponents.

Yahweh the Volcano God: I stole that one from philosopher and agnostic occultist Robert Anton Wilson. It's so -- perfect! I also got the "oriental despot, only bigger, and invisible" bit from him (not to mention a good chunk of my personal outlook -- which is basically his stated outlook taken with a grain of salt).

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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