Enlightening: Thank You!
First of all I just wanted to thank you for introducing me to the writings of "The Great" Robert G. Ingersoll. I had vaguely heard of this literary wizard before, but never read any of his works. The beauty in his writings brought tears to my eyes. I am indebted to you for organizing them and presenting them to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I also must applaud you for your courage, scholastic integrity and essential honesty in not only maintaining such views as you possess, but in presenting them to the world and providing freethinkers like me with the intellectual stimulation, that we need more than food or water. I am including your personal works in this category, Cliff; they certainly made me consider things about A.A. that I had never really thought of before. I'm also of the school of thinking that lumping substance addiction in the same category as medical disease is extremely degrading to the addict, as she or he is made to feel powerless to control their behavior and dependent on a (nonexistent) higher power. In the case of A.A., one addiction is merely substituted for another, crueler one. Thank you for your insight.
Speaking of your writings, where can I find your biography? I know it's on your website because I found it previously and it made excellent reading, but I have been unable to rediscover it. Can you give me the proper link again? I find it inspiring and I want to go over it.
And since I've written you out of nowhere asking you for personal information, some reciprocation seems fair. I'm a twenty-year old college student at New York University (it's in New York, heh). I study biology and am still on the pre-med track as of my junior year, but time will tell.
What else ... I've had to good fortune (or the eternal damnation, according to Christians) to be an atheist pretty much all of my life; my parents are Greek Orthodox, but my mother is an extreme liberal and my personal lack of religion has never even registered on my father's concerns. I suspect that if I ever told him what he very likely knows already, he would shrug and say, "So?" Since I discovered genetics and evolution, religion just hasn't held any appeal for me at all.
I've been reading a massive amount of atheist and rationalist literature over the past month to combat a resurgence of JeJuice in my life. No, I haven't gotten religion ... just a severely Christian roommate. He's a typically devout, Super-Holy first-generation Chinese, and he's living proof that missionaries all need to be put away so they can't do any more damage. He listens to Christian "rock", which has me seriously contemplating brutal homicide, and refuses to accept evolution -- the reason I find this so offensive is that he also wants to major in biology and eventually become a doctor. Idiocy. On a brighter note, he's not a bad guy, and has the good sense to not proselytize to me (he's a freshman, and that might have something to do with it).
I've never really had a major problem with Christians, just the stupid ones. And even there I make exceptions. My best friend in college is a semi-devout Southern Baptist from Texas. I was discussing aspects of biology with him last year and he casually informed me that he doesn't believe in evolution. I nearly had a stroke. Since I'm focusing on genetic changes and evolutionary adaptations in my biology studies, I felt a little like a graduate student who just finished a Master's in French literature, only to meet a cretin who tries to convince her that the French don't exist. I made a curt reply and we both wisely dropped the subject. We still go out every night, I don't let my atheism interfere with our friendship, and he doesn't let his god get in the way of a good time. Well, that's about all for now. Have a blast, Cliff.
Please remind me where I can find your bio; I really want to read it again.
And thank you.
From: Positive Atheism <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: A thank-you and a question ...
Date: Sunday, November 21, 1999 3:18 PM
Thanks for your wonderful compliments.
I know of no biography, but various recollections appear scattered throughout my writings: mostly in the Cliff section and the Letters section.
Novelist Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange) spoke of his need to read rationalist literature due to what he called a "residual" tendency of his to revert to religion -- this after a lifetime of skepticism. I read this in an Isaac Asimov interview, and apparently Asimov had the same problem. That same problem plagues me. I deal with it the same way I deal with the urge to take drugs: it's just a primordial urge -- a misguided appetite -- that is being interpreted as a false "need" to get some religion (or some drugs); these urges are not in accordance with my rationally based decisions, those decisions that I have sat down and given some good thought to and have implemented into personal policy: I don't take drugs and I don't believe in Jesus.
I was dating a fundamentalist Christian of the New Age variety, but unfortunately (or fortunately) I discovered that she just likes to reel 'em in, see how long they are, and let 'em go. Over half her life has been lived, and she still has no prospects, as far as I can tell. Now, I'd rather be alone than to live with the sneaking suspicion that someone likes me only because they secretly hope that I will eventually convert.
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
To: Positive Atheism <email@example.com>
Date: Sunday, November 21, 1999 5:28 PM
Regarding Burgess and Asimov; I can understand exactly. Belief patterns that are hardwired into the brain during the most vulnerable years (i.e. childhood) can't simply be discarded with no second thoughts or qualms. Kind of like a sliver of glass embedded in a healed wound, time and care needs to be taken to properly extricate. I'm in no danger of backsliding, since I have nothing to backslide to. If I had been born two and a half millennia ago, I would have been sacrificing goats to Zeus and begging Artemis for good luck in tomorrow's hunt. Since my parents gave me books on mythology rather than the Bible, I understood religion from day one. I've read the Bible, the Upanishads, the Qu'ran, parts of the Talmud, and assorted other 'holy' works; nowhere do I find anything with more claim to credence than the delightful myths which occupied my formative years. Shift a few names here and there and no one can tell the difference. Ancient Greeks had a flood legend too; right after Pandora was naughty enough to open her box (the one that she was given by the gods as a wedding present but forbidden to open, is this starting to sound familiar?) and all the evils of the world rushed out, the gods decided that the best way to solve this problem would be to drown everyone. Typical. But Pandora, her husband, and all the animals got saved on -- stop me if you've heard this one before -- a boat! Great story, eh? Oh, wait, I see you have heard it before ...
An interesting aside. Pandora was created by the gods out of the finest materials (no dust for our enterprising Hellenistic superpowers, she was a wedding present) but she was cursed by one of the goddesses with eternal curiosity. Bright move. Give an insatiably curious woman an incredibly dangerous artifact and then tell her she can never look inside of it. And then drown everyone else if she does. That's about as stupid as, say, making a human who has no concept of right or wrong and then telling him/her that its wrong if they eat from a random tree. Of course, the only way to gain knowledge of right or wrong is to eat from that tree ... Hand a two year old a bottle of Drain-O and then act surprised when he poisons himself 'cause he can't read the instructions. Congratulations! You just played god!
And have a happy Thanksgiving.
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