How Do You
Know That God
Does Not Exist?
Jason Klassen

Graphic Rule

From: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: jason klassen
Subject: Re:
Date: Sunday, August 08, 1999 7:32 PM

I cannot begin to answer this question because you have not told me what you mean by the word "God." This word has many different meanings to many different people, and I need to know what you mean by it before I can address your question. Also, I don't usually say "God does not exist," but, rather, "I have yet to encounter a valid reason for believ

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

Graphic Rule

Graphic Rule

From: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: jason klassen
Subject: Re:
Date: Monday, August 09, 1999 4:33 PM

I do not know to which branch or which sect of Christianity you refer. I will cover some of the basic tenets of the flavor known as Evangelical Christianity -- only because it is the most intrusive of that already intrusive religion which was invented by St. Paul.

The Christian religion is premised upon two things: (1) the testimony of the Bible; (2) the historicity of Jesus.

1. The Bible contains countless errors and many documents that are known to have been forged (e.g., II Peter). It is not to be trusted. If the Bible is actually the word of a deity, then we can assume it would be infallible. It would have "the universality of the law of gravitation and the perfection of the arithmetical table" (Joseph Lewis). The Bible is far from perfect and thus lends itself to a multitude of interpretations. A perfect work would never lead anyone to this conclusion; an arithmetical table, for example, has only one interpretation.

I challenge you to reconcile the two genealogies of Jesus with each other. I challenge you to reconcile the genealogy of Matthew with itself (count the generations: there are not fourteen plus fourteen plus fourteen generations listed in Matthew -- although Matthew says that there are). I challenge you to reconcile either genealogy with the Old Testament.

2. The earliest descriptions we have of Jesus Christ, those of St. Paul, give no details about where he lived, when he lived, or what he did. The only say that he lived sometime in the past, somewhere in the Palestine area, and that he died. This early testimony does not differ at all from the various myths that were floating around in those days -- myths that all Christians discount as fable.

It was only in about 90 C.E. that alleged details about Jesus' life begin to materialize and be circulated, in the form of Gospel stories. These details contradict one another, from Gospel to Gospel, because each Gospel was developed in a separate region and a separate sect. Mark was used to create Matthew and Luke, and each of the latter is clearly an improvement -- a correction, if you will -- of Mark. The Jesus character gets grander and more all-powerful with each succeeding Gospel. (For example, in Mark, Jesus could not heal certain people because of their unbelief, and had to use salves and other physical means. These are "corrected" in the later gospels, as it was unthinkable, at this later time, that Jesus would have such limitations.) John is so far out in left field that it barely squeaked by the ratification process several centuries later. (Yes. The canon of the Bible is the result of a vote: the books that were included in the Bible won, and the books that are not in the Bible lost.)

Only after there had been plenty of time for the Gospel fables to mature do we find references to specific details of Jesus' life (such as that he allegedly lived during the time of Pontius Pilate).

Thus, for me to even believe that a man named Jesus even lived during these times is a stretch. For me to accept the Gospel accounts at face value would compromise my sense of truthfulness. In other words, for me to say that these accounts are trustworthy in any sense would be for me to tell a lie. I have similar doubts about whether Mohammed and Moses ever existed. In other words, I can explain the existence of Christianity without there needing to have been a real Jesus, just as I can explain the existence of Judaism without there having been a Moses, just as I can explain the existence of Islam without needing to resort to a historical figure named Mohammed.

Since the Bible can be shown to speak falsehood concerning things we can verify, we cannot trust it concerning things that are controversial -- such as its claim that a god exists. Nobody disputes that the sun exists. The sun can be detected and even measured by anyone. Not so with a god -- gods are invisible, hidden, and undetectable. Claims for the existence of a god, then, must be much stronger than other claims.

If I told you that an invisible leprechaun lives in my Chicago Cubs baseball cap, would you believe me? Could you prove that there is no invisible leprechaun in my hat? Of course you cannot. The way this works is you make a claim. I don't have to believe your claim unless you bring forth evidence -- very strong evidence -- that I should believe your claim. Strong evidence is needed in this case for two reasons: (1) You are making an extraordinary claim (in this case, a supernatural claim), you must bring forth extraordinary evidence, because the idea of the supernatural, if shown to be true, would turn everything we know about nature on end. We are not simply establishing that a man with a history of violence and anti-American sentiments, Timothy McVeigh, bombed the Murrah building in Oklahoma City. (2) Your specific claim for the validity of the Christian religion (and thus the existence of its god) has many things working against it. You must overcome the astonishingly violent history of the Church (whose corruption continues to this day), you must overcome the multitude of errors and misstatements and contradictions found in the Christian Bible, you must overcome the vast lack of contemporary evidence which otherwise would point to the existence of a historical figure named Jesus.

All this must be done before I will even consider your claim that the god of the Christian religion exists. This claim requires much more to substantiate it than the other problems -- which, to me, are insurmountable.

So, as far as the god of the Christian religion is concerned, I am an atheist. If you want to know why I don't believe in the 4,999(+) other gods that mankind has endorsed, fire away. I'm sure you don't need to know about those 4,999(+) other gods, because I assume that you likewise are an atheist in respect to those gods. The difference between you and I is that I act like an atheist regarding 5,000(+) gods, and you act like an atheist regarding only 4,999(+) gods.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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