Starting off he writes:
Some might think that atheists would be content with simply not believing in God and leave the theists to themselves. After all, if God doesn't exist then what's the big deal? Why not let the theists believe in God the way a child believes in the tooth fairy? To the atheist, neither exists. So why bother?
This actually has been addressed a number of times before, but people may have short memories. What Pastor Mike conflates here, is that tooth fairies have no real world effects while belief in God assuredly does.
No one sees "tooth fairists" going out and lurking in Malls or parking lots, waiting for some unsupecting citizen to pass, then pouncing on him or her and attempting to "witness". I.e. cite chapter and verse of scripture to convince the wayfarer his soul is at risk and he or she had better act expeditiously to save it.
In earlier exchanges with Mike, for example, I elaborated on exactly why witnessing constitutes psychological terror and not "free speech".
What is the purpose? It is to entice people to “be saved” in order to avoid consequences of death. A fiery eternal residence in HELL... Consider this question which Pastor Mike offers as an example to a prospective witness is to pose to his “marks”……errrrrr…..recipients:
“IF YOU WERE TO DIE TONIGHT WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD BE?”
Hello! What the blazes is this, a trick question!
There is only ONE correct answer: you are no place. Your consciousness no longer exists, since your brain is dead- so there is no “YOU” anywhere to be found other than in a newly cooling corpse that will soon be rotting unless special measures are taken (in the case of burial, using special preservatives to feed into the veins, and otherwise – burning the body in cremation).
Here we detect the thrust and underlying meme of the question. Translated to the target’s sub-conscious: “Death is a terrifying experience and as soon as you die there is a supernatural part of you that will TORTURED forever and ever unless it is SAVED!”
But this is bare bollocks on a number of fronts.
First, death is not a terrifying experience unless one succumbs to Pastor Mike’s claims that it is! Death is wholly natural. Unless old beings are removed by death, so new beings can take their place the world will: a) become vastly over-crowded – soon ending with not enough food available for all the multiplying (undying) species, b) Since no new genes are introduced into any species, since there is no death, then species’ genomes will not change. Thus, NO evolution will occur!
Thus, death is an essential element of the natural world in controlling the numbers of species and populations that can occupy the planet at one time or one era, and in enabling the basis for further evolution of new species.
There is NO supernatural part of anyone, no “soul” that can be tortured, no matter what the religious hare brains may say. IF there were a soul it would have been exposed by now to the light of evidence and drawn scrutiny. But it remains as inaccessible and unreal as the “God” these people propose.
Thus, the psychological terror inheres in taking a perfectly NATURAL act, and transmogrifying it into a fearful, fretful possible transition to HELL. In this way, the natural human fear of death is metastasized and magnified out of all proportion to its actual import – leaving the person in near despair unless they are prepared to surrender control of their minds to the “witnesser”.
Emmett McLoughlin has noted that this sort of dynamic is responsible for hurling more people (all believers) into insane asylums and institutions than any thing else – even drug use! He estimates in one of his essays (‘Let the Statistics Tell Their Sad Story’) that more than one in every two now languishing in insane asylums or prisons are there because they succumbed to an inordinate fear of death.
Yet this is what Pastor Mike and his minions seek to sow!
All of this pivots on the belief or acceptance that their God-man (Jesus) is unique and that only absolute belief on him as Savior can spare a dying soul from Hell. But this is hogwash, since Jesus is not unique, even as a God –man!
Oxford scholar Geza Vermes in his own great work (The Authentic Gospel of Jesus) notes that the words “Son of God” are not even uttered by Jesus himself as a self-reference. They are only muttered by others, and then in mocking fashion – as when a Roman soldier referred to the “Son of God” while whipping him. Some references fond in Matthew are later additions, inserted there to try to compel belief in the FICTION that Jesus was a Son of God.
Given all this, the inescapable fact is that witnessing is: a) fraudulent (in that it isn’t based on true historical fact) and b) is psychological terror in that it takes a natural event – death- and ratchets it into a possible “eternal door” to horror in some afterlife UNLESS one surrenders one’s mind and will to the Christian zealots.
As we have seen in India, this practice has aroused so much ire in the Hindi population, that they have taken to burning down the churches and homes of all evangelical witnesses. Is this what the good Pastor wants here? We would hope not.
On another front, or other fronts, religious belief fuels absolutism and this breeds insane and irrational actions. Let me hasten to say here that NO single religious believer can assert HIS way is superior, or better, ....since they all aid and abet psychotic acts. Case in point, it was the belief in 72 virgins that drove the 19 9-11 hijackers to plow their planes into the Twin Towers and kill thousands. This was done by their religious belief.
Meanwhile, Christian beliefs have already been responsible this year for the murders of two abortion providers, in Washington state and Kansas. The murderers were driven to their dastardly deeds by the absolute conviction of their own righteousness. Not even a hint they could be wrong. (Or to quote the words of one poor wretch, ca. 1400, tied at the stake just before the Inquisitor torched him...."Pray consider, Sir, that you MIGHT be wrong!")
But you see, to the staunch absolutist there is no such consideration. He is right, absolutely right. This is what prompted author and philosopher Jacob Bronowski ('The Ascent of Man') to write: (On pointing to the remnants of the gas chambers and ovens at Auschwitz:
'This was done by dogma. This was done by absolutism. When people believe they have the absolute truth without any doubt, this is what they are capable of"
Apart from the outright murders, and insanity, organized believers have the potential to get at weak politicians and convince them to repeal laws that now benefit most of the rational people. Laws such as keeping prayers out of our public schools (as it is we are losing enough time teaching evolution), and prohibiting abortion. Thus, making a comeback for hangers and brutal do-it-yourself butchery.
Oh, the religious will say they are not after that at all, but in fact, when they organize politically and browbeat politicos to do their righteous bidding, they are!
No tooth fairy believers do such things. NO tooth fairy believers murder people who try to keep their teeth, or tell those who don't believe in them that they are destined for eternal, toothless hell.
Thus, Pastor Mike argues from false analogy. He is comparing chalk and cheese with predictable results.
He goes on to write:
Even though many atheists don't care if people believe in God or not, others feel obligated to fight what I have often heard them label as "oppressive religious bigotry." To this end, many of them are active in politics, social groups, the internet, and even use lawsuits to change society into a more atheistic temperament. They often consider Christians as a threat to freedom, common sense, and a good life. This kind of statement is quite common in atheist circles. It is inflammatory, illogical, and paranoid.
Again, for the Pastor's benefit, we are active in political life because in this country, we HAVE to be! You snooze, you lose! If we were politically disinterested we would see Roe v. Wade overturned overnight or piecemeal. Raped women and girls would have to seek out back alleys to get relief.
We'd have prayer and bible teaching back in schools, and sucking up so much precious time that science education would descend ten further notches down. And instead of being behind Singapore and Malaysia as we are now, we'd be way behind Botswana or even Sudan.
To the extent Christians attempt to dilute school teaching by interjecting insidious religion, and prevent abortions, and prevent atheist speech - like placing our posters on buses- they ARE a threat to freedom, common sense and a good life. Make no mistake. and anyone who doubts it needs to see the movie 'The Handmaid's Tale' about when the U.S. is turned into a full blown theocracy.
You will have nightmares for years.
Mike goes on:
Many atheists I've spoken , including my oldest brother , Phil , tell me that I cannot think logically, that I am deluded, and that I believe in myths. They tell me that I am bound by foolish antiquated beliefs and need to abandon my religious bigotry and become a 'free thinker' like them. In other words, they don't want me to think the way I do.
Totally misrepresenting what we are saying! In fact, the last thing I want or demand is for Mike to become a freethinker like me. What I prefer is that he think for HIMSELF, but do so rigorously- and at the end of this thinking - decide what in fact is best for HIM- while leaving ME and my fellow atheists out of his picture.
Thus, if HE finds the KJV bible absolutely true and fulfilling all needs, fine, but concede this is valid for HIM! Not for everyone on the face of Earth.
Because once he overextends that, then his reasoning does break down, and zealotry replaces logic.
Now, when I consider Mike's beliefs "foolish or antiquated" I do not do so in an absolute universal sense (as if to say they can have no value for anyone) - but only that they have no value for ME. I have studied all or most of what he believes now, had to at Loyola, but have now put those aside, like a suit that no longer fits.
As for belief in "myths" - yes, that is what I regard 2000 -year old bible tales as. NONE have been validated in any scientific way, and to me - that is the only ultimate criterion for objective truth. It is the best option we humans have right now, at this time. (Minus workable time machines to venture anywhere, any time in the past).
If Mike can prove to me, for example, that the town of Nazareth existed befor 400 CE I will happily turn my ear toward his sermons and pay more attention. But he can't.
Forget for the moment that the name borne by the earliest followers of Yeshua (nee: Jesus) was “Nazoreans’ - NOT “Christians” – And Yeshua was known as “the Nazorean”. This is a sectarian term of which the Hebrew is ‘Notsrim’ and is NOT connected directly with a place called “Nazareth” or with the messianic “Nezer” branch from the roots of Jesse.
Nazoreans’ members proclaimed themselves the “preservers of the true faith of Israel”- but this claim was also made by the Samaritans, inhabiting Samaria (Shomron) who represented themselves as the ‘Shamerine’ – the custodians or keepers of the original ISRAELITE religion, as opposed to the Judeans (Jews)
In his article ‘Where Jesus Never Walked’. (American Atheist, Winter 1996-97, p. 34) Frank Zindler notes “Nazareth” is not mentioned once in the entire Old Testament, nor do any ancient historians or geographers mention it before the beginning of the 4th century. As Zindler points out:
“The Talmud, though it names 63 Galilean towns, knows nothing of Nazareth. Josephus, who wrote extensively about Galilee (a region roughly the size of Rhode Island) ….mentions Nazareth not even once – although he does mention by name 45 other cities and villages of Galilee. This is even more telling when one discovers that Josephus does mention Japha, a village which is just over a mile from present-day Nazareth!”
"Although the New Testament tells us very little about our mythical municipality, it does tell us enough to allow us to conclude that present day Nazareth couldn’t be the biblical city referred to say, in the fourth chapter of Luke”
Like the White Queen whom Alice met in ‘Through the Looking Glass’, Christian pilgrims have always been able to believe six or more mutually contradictory, impossible propositions every morning before breakfast. Unlike the White Queen, however, the Christians have been able to maintain such belief after breakfast as well.”
In the end, Mike is the one who is "paranoid" about atheists. In truth, all we desire is to live and let live, and not interfere in anyone else's life or domain.
I promise Pastor Mike here and now, if he and his ilk will refrain from insinuating themselves into my life and affairs - and those of my fellow unbelievers- we will refrain from doing so in his and that of his followers.
What could be simpler? But if we are to refrain, and HE and his are to allowed to do whatever...from witnessing, to putting prayer back in schools, to stopping abortion.. then conflict can be the only outcome. The days of the passive, quiet little atheist are over and done with.
Those interested in reading my latest atheist book, Dialectical Atheism, can now purchase it at lulu.com:
It contains assorted altercations, debates I have been involved in - both here in the U.S. and overseas.