Shout About It
Harold J Lyster
I have been an atheist for almost 50 years. Most people who know me think of me as a good Christian. I attend church every Sunday, I insist on ethical behavior, I try not to lie, I am honest in financial matters, I am live according to Christian (and all other religions) rules because I believe in them.
To me atheism is simply a lack of belief in a supreme being, it is not a philosophy, a plan, a plot, or a subversion. I accept the fact and go on with my life which is in the Christian community. Those close to me know my lack of belief, hope I find the "truth", and wonder that I can have an ethic at all but know that I do.
Am I not an atheist because I do not shout it from the rooftops?
From: "Positive Atheism" <email@example.com>
To: "Harold J Lyster"
Subject: Re: via What is Positive Atheism?
Date: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 2:55 AM
Thank you for your timely comments. They are to the point, and right along the lines of some other conversations we have been having.
"Positive Atheism" magazine opposes the idea that one must be an active atheist to be considered an atheist. We even go so far as to count among atheists those who do not think upon the subject at all. To us, an atheist is someone who simply lacks a god-belief -- for whatever reason.
While some atheists (of the activistic variety) might question why you attend church, or why you allow people to think of you as "a good Christian" (implying that Christianity is the source of your upstanding morals), we oppose this thinking as well. People must do what they must do in order to survive and to function in a society. While we encourage atheists to "come out of the closet" and help us dignify the atheist position, we try not to criticize individuals for deciding to play along with the cultural norms.
I like a point that H. L. Mencken made, about certain Evangelical Christians being cordial when they are "off duty." I think Mencken might be on to something, here; sometimes it is the religion itself that we are dealing with, and not necessarily the religious person. I was talking today with an associate who writes a syndicated column. He is an atheist, but he told me that he has, as an advisor, a Pastor. I replied that I have recently begun asking a seminarian for advice on some of our positions. This was a wonderful revelation for both of us. I have, in the course of this project, also consulted a Rabbi, several Hindus, many Christians, and many Buddhists.
This whole project is a public dialogue amongst atheists and between atheists and theists. We don't know everything, and cannot rightly assert that we hold ultimate truth. The most proper thing to do in this respect is to express ourselves and allow others to scrutinize what we have said. If I can accomplish a small amount toward minimizing the misunderstanding between theists and atheist (and between atheists and theists, too), I will have done well.
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
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