Read This One,
Its Interesting, Even!!
To: Positive Atheism
Sent: Thursday, April 22, 1999 4:36 PM
Subject: Read this one, its interesting, even!!
As a young (I am a mere 15 years old) atheist, I appreciate the fact that there are such marvelous online magazines as Positive Atheism. I think its great that there is an outlet for all the amazingly different ideas there are out there about atheism and religion. Personally, I dont believe in the Catholic Church, the Protestant church, the Methodist, the Buddhist, the Hindu, etc etc. hence, as I mentioned earlier, I am an atheist.
However, I do believe that all of these churches must be right for some people, otherwise they wouldn't exist. At the end of your list of articles there is a banner that says "Open Your Mind, Not Your Bible." If your mind were to be truly open, you would be able to accept that about 95% of the world believes in a god of some sort, and that is the way of mankind. I think it's marvelous that so many of my friends have great faith in God, and he is a priority in their lives. At times, I am even jealous of their seemingly unwavering faith and trust in their lord. I wish i could believe such things as they do, my life would be so much easier.
Thats all, and keep up the great work!
From: Cliff Walker <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section---> Read this one, its interesting, even!!
Date: Friday, April 23, 1999 4:05 AM
I am experimenting with a concept I learned while reading the book "Nonbelief and Evil" by Theodore Drange. He calls this concept "the 'mumbo-jumbo' theory of some religious language." I eventually want to do a piece about Drange's theory, since he only briefly describes it.
According to this notion, most people religious people learn their faith in early childhood. They learn to recite certain sentences, and to tell people that those sentences reflect what they believe to be true. However, most people who recite such sentences have never, ever thought about what they are saying, or examined the sentences to see if they are even possible, much less likely or true.
Therefore, according to Professor Drange, these people do not actually believe what they say they believe. They cannot conceptualize or describe or defend their statements: they simply repeat them and that's that.
Does this possibility change (a little) what you said about all the churches being right for some people? What do you think the world would be like if nobody taught their kids religion until they were, say, 13 years old?
Also, as to your statement that 95 percent of the world believes in a god, this is not true. I would put the number at less than 80 percent worldwide -- certainly over 1200 million people. In the United States, a very religious country, about 90 percent or less are believers. A reader in Iran tells us that over 40 percent there are actually stone-cold atheists, but dare not admit it; so, they are all counted as theists. The article called "Atheism" by Michael Martin shows a graph.
If you place the atheists and the nonreligious together, and count them as a single group, there are more nonbelievers than there are Roman Catholics -- by far the largest sect of Christianity. Add to this cases such as that mentioned by our friend in Iran (that most atheists there are counted as Muslims), and add to that the fact that more than one major religion (such as Buddhists) does not teach the existence of a god.
You have made some fine points, and I hope to hear from you again. It is only by discussing these things and by thinking about the discussions that either of us can hope to learn anything. What I hope to learn most of all is to try to understand, just a little (if I can), what it is like to walk in my fellow-man's shoes. Cliff Walker "Positive Atheism" Magazine
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