A fool’s last hurrah

This is the last we’ll speak of Patrick. He tries to go down swinging with this infantile non-apology that he emailed us and, presumably, all of the people who sent him the emails he asked for on the program and yet somehow failed to give him the validation he so desperately craved.

I wish to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to all atheists for my actions in the past few days.
They were unwise and I have rectified everything with Ray Comfort. The bumper sticker is back for sale. We atheists will for all time, be taken as the evil people that the Christian ministers teach their congregations. That way they can be assured that when their congregations vote, not one of us will ever be elected so much as a dog catcher. And, everyone of you that wrote me, encouraging me to tuck my tail between my legs, and tell them that they are right, and their bumper sticker is the full and complete TRUTH.
I have kept my promise to not file the lawsuit. And all of you have opened your hearts to me, and behaved like total cowards. It’s no wonder that the Christians think we all are so evil. All of you should be ashamed that you even think of yourselves as intelligent.

And I’m taking my ball and going home! Waah. Christ, what a weasel. Seriously, Pat, you ought to take lessons from some right-wing politicians, or, hell, even Nancy Pelosi, on how to do hypocritical blame-shifting and passive-aggressive lashing out skillfully. This kind of foot-stomping petulance wouldn’t even qualify you to run for dog-catcher.

I sent him off with a spanking.

Sorry Patrick. But we stopped taking you seriously long ago, and this “apology” pretty much confirms all we need to know about you: that you’re a childish and dishonest narcissist whose ego is way too invested in being the hero of your own movie. If you honestly think that what people were trying to tell you when they criticized you for threatening to sue Ray was that we all think the bumper sticker was true, then you’re even more of an immature assclown than any of us thought, and your constant recourse to self-flattering bluster is some pitifully obvious overcompensation for the unwillingness to admit that maybe, just maybe, YOU could ever be wrong about something. And your failure to comprehend your own recent role in the damage the reputation of atheists has taken among believers also speaks to the depth of your obtuseness and lack of self-awareness. I’d tell you to grow up, but as you’re already in your 60’s it’s far too late for that. You failed to launch a long time ago.

Heard back from the FCC yet?

And that’s a wrap on Patrick. Next post: back to grown-ups and grown-up matters.

Breaking the Yomin Barrier

Okay, we’re all familiar with the Yomin situation last month, and the coining of the phrase “pulling a Yomin,” which has entered Internet parlance as a term referring to anyone who has an excessive, histrionic, emotional, and deeply hypocritical and dishonest overreaction to any perceived slight, particularly when that behavior incorporates playing the victim when one’s problems can most truthfully be laid at one’s own doorstep. Lately the term has been used liberally to refer to the actions of Patrick Greene, about which you all have been reading for the last couple of days. Well, today, Patrick has outdone himself and entered what can only be called Trans-Yomin Space, a new dimension, not of sight and sound, but dimness and chaos. Get a load of the latest “here is my revenge for the crime of disagreeing with me and failing to herald me as a champion of atheism” letter he’s sent us.

I did some research on the FCC webpage, and called them. I have filed the following complaint with the FCC.

Matt Dillahunty, the host of the Atheist Experience program, read my e-mail to him, referring to him as an “asshole”. I was speaking to him via telephone, when his program was live on Sunday July 27th. During the conversation between us, where we were disagreeing on a subject, he referred to me as an “asshole” live on the program.
I don’t know if this is acceptable language for the middle of the afternoon, when children could be viewing. You can view this program at this website, the top one, #563
http://www.atheist-experience.com/archive/

I can only laugh at this. This is how far this loser has sunk in his need to validate his sense of victimhood and avenge the horrible crime of being disagreed with. Any time anyone says something that pisses him off, he wants to find a way, however specious and feeble, to sic the law or the courts on them. Stupid comes in many colors. I think Patrick has found the Stupid Rainbow Connection. The morons, the dreamers, and he.

By the way, public access cable is not governed by the FCC. Oh well.

Yesterday’s show

This one was a corker, so I thought I’d get it up here right away. Above and beyond the whole exchange with Patrick, there’s “Eve,” aka Microbiologychick, who punks Matt with some of the funniest Poe-ing you’re going to hear all week.

Oh, by the way. Apparently the latest backwash of Patrick’s foolishness is this: Living Waters has announced, I am informed, that they’re no longer going to be selling the bumper sticker that got Patrick all riled up. Now they’ll be giving it away for free!

Bravo, Patrick. You fucktard.


Addendum by Russell/Kazim:

To hear “Eve” call in, fast forward to about 54:00 in the video.

Patrick wants your opinion

Patrick Greene called in to the show on Sunday. The episode is now posted on Google and you’re free to listen to Patrick make his case (with interruptions and clarifications from your rather perturbed host).

While we’re all aware that public opinion is irrelevant to truth, he’d like to hear from you. If you think he’s done the right thing, let him know. If you think he’s made a huge mistake that makes the rest of us look bad, let him know. If you aren’t sure, let him know.

Evidently, he’s just not getting enough email. So, here’s his e-mail address:

peewee_91762 [at] yahoo.com

Patrick Greene checks in

Patrick Greene, the San Antonio atheist who got all up in Ray Comfort’s shit about a stupid bumper sticker, has sent an email to us once again. (He also left a comment here, which I rejected, because it contained his phone number. After the Yomin incident, in which both his and Matt D.’s phone numbers appeared in comments, I have a new policy of no phone numbers on the site at all, even if people wish to post their own. It’s too easy a thing people can abuse, whether through the placing of inappropriate calls, or the wild accusations and blame-assignment of same.)

Patrick’s letter is as follows:

I read your web site and wish equal time on your show.
I want to tell people the truth about the Walmart experience.
And I want to tell everyone about the bumper sticker thing.
By the way, so far Kirk Cameron hasn’t gotten back with me yet.
If I was really screwing up, they would never have taken the sticker off the site.
I have taken all I am going to take from Christians. My wife and I have taken their crap for 30 years.
Call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX any day from noon to 5:00p.m.
Patrick Greene
And you have my written permission to use my full name and e-mail address on everythingyou write about me.
I am not in the closet about anything.

Well, that’s great you’re willing to stand up for yourself, Patrick, though I suspect that Matt will not be terribly sympathetic to your “equal time” request, you having called him “such an asshole” and all. Seems to me you’re just an attention-seeker, quick to fly off the handle not only at any perceived slight to your atheism, but also to anyone who fails to validate your sense of victimhood and join the drill team cheering your fight for justice. And if you really believe that, as you said, “if I was really screwing up, they would never have taken the sticker off the site,” you’re as naive as you are reactionary. Ray Comfort is already making fun of you, and most absurdly of all, he did so simply by repeating the same insipid creationist non-arguments that he’s been using all these years to impress the uneducated. All he had to do was quote you sounding pissed off, which you did, then he simply replied with the stupidest arguments in his arsenal in a calm tone. And he comes out of it looking like a million bucks. Good job, Pat old boy. When you lose the high ground to a clown like Coke Can Man, you’re in bad shape.

As for the “crap” you’ve been put through for so very long by Christians, good grief, what are you talking about? Sounds to me like you’re nursing a persecution complex the size of the Alamodome, though I confess I wasn’t around all those decades Christians were making your life miserable, denying you jobs and killing your dog and peeing on your shrubs and flicking boogers at your car or whatever it was they were doing.

You’d think you would have, at some point, figured out that the majority of the populace in this country were religious, that that fact was unlikely to change in the near future, that some of those religious people will be normal and easygoing to get along with and that some will be offensive and stupid, and simply chosen to live your life accordingly. What horrible history of injustices have you suffered at their hands for so long, that the camel’s back was finally broken by the straw of Comfort and Cameron’s dopey bumper sticker? “That’s enough, goddamn it! I’m suing!”

Dude, we all find it infuriating, the things Christians get up to in this country. Undermining science education, denying fundamental rights to gays and lesbians, covering it up whenever their priests rape children, filling school boards with unqualified ideologues to promote their superstitions as facts to impressionable students, distributing propaganda movies calling scientists Nazis, what have you. What we do about it is try to come up with some positive pushback, through the efforts of such groups as Texas Citizens for Science and the NCSE, through outreach to other atheists via our media efforts, through getting people active at the polls (the stupidity of Ellen “Don’t Vote” Johnson notwithstanding.)

There’s a thing about picking your battles wisely. Making a spectacle of yourself over the imagined injustice of a bumper sticker doesn’t qualify under the “wise” category. “Petty,” “childish,” “shallow” and “over-sensitive”? Yeah, those, sure, all day long. Let me repeat this: you gave Ray Comfort, of all people, an opportunity to make himself look good. If that doesn’t spell E-P-I-C F-A-I-L, nothing does.

Seriously, man, you’re pulling a Yomin big time.

But if you really want to come on the show and undergo the dubious pleasure of being dressed down to your face by Matt Dillahunty…well, as I said, scheduling the guests is no longer my duty on the show. Though I suspect, if you did come on, it would be an experience you’d not forget in a hurry, and would probably become one of the show’s most popular downloads ever.


PS: Right before I posted this, Patrick replied to my reply to his original email, with examples of all the horrible injustice he’s endured at the hands of Christians. Seriously, I don’t know how the man has survived.

Try being denied an apartment because we are atheists.

So find a better apartment complex. There has to be more than one in your town. And why would your atheism need to come up while apartment hunting at all?

Try being given death threats because we are atheists.

I used to host the TV show, fer cripessake. I probably got 20 death threats for your every one.

Try being denied payment for a taxi trip, because I am an atheist.

Hardly compares to the rack or the stake, but I probably would find that annoying. So were you the cab driver in question here? Again, why would your atheism have come up? How many cabbies get ripped off every year by ride jumpers for reasons having nothing to do with religion?

Those are only the beginning.

Remember that scene in Reservoir Dogs with Steve Buscemi and the World’s Smallest Violin?


Addendum, Sunday: Patrick says he’ll call the show today, and sent us a lengthy letter explaining why he was turned down for an apartment (which, to hear his description, is one incident 20 years ago), and assuring us that he is shocked — SHOCKED! — that other atheists would dare criticize him! Which, obviously, means that we are ashamed to be atheists and afraid to defend ourselves. Which should be plain as day to anyone who’s watched the TV show and read this blog, right?

He also added:

My lawsuit was going to be based on the fact that they [Comfort and Cameron] were taking an opinion [on the bumper stickers], and making it a fact to all believers.
Dumbshits believe that.

Yes, Patrick, you’re absolutely right.

An irrational atheist

Today a gentleman whose privacy I’ll respect by not revealing his name sent an email to the TV show address with the subject line “Victory for atheists.” I’m afraid it’s anything but. Indeed, it’s a textbook example of how to fumble the ball.

The fellow in question had sent an irate letter to the Laurel and Hardy apologetics team of Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron, complaining about an insulting anti-atheist bumper sticker they were selling online. Boasting to us that his letter had persuaded them to remove the offending sticker from their site, he went on to quote himself in full, and he doesn’t start off badly.

Your Item #500 Atheist Day bumper sticker is a very un-Christian insult to all atheists. Just because your Bible states something, does not mandate that you use this information to insult atheists like me.

I am not a fool, and I want you to change the wording of your sticker. The average driver can easily read the words:

NATIONAL ATHEIST’S DAY
APRIL 1ST

But the words of Psalm 14:1, which are below these words, cannot be easily seen by any motorist.

Then, as the letter progresses, you can see his emotions starting to run away with him.

My life as an American Atheist has been unalterably changed by your bumper sticker. I would never be elected to any political position in our country, because your bumper sticker has poisoned most believers minds.

I demand that you use your own savior’s command to Love your neighbor as yourself, and change your bumper sticker to read something like this:

PSALM 14:1 SHOULD BE READ

Well, the inability of atheists to make much headway in American politics, despite the Constitution’s ban on a religious test (a ban that is openly violated by the constitutions of a number of individual states, like Texas), is rooted in a religious bigotry against unbelievers that was in play long before Frick and Frack decided to sell a stupid bumper sticker online. But then our writer starts to run right off the rails…

I understand that the U.S. Constitution guarantees you freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press. However, that does not give you unlimited license to publicly insult those who do not share your beliefs.

Uh…well, yeah, dude. It does.

Free speech is exactly that. Insults are not illegal. There are actionably libelous and slanderous remarks that one can make that are not Constitutionally protected. But merely lobbing an insult at somebody doesn’t qualify. And there is no Constitutional protection against having your feelings hurt. Here, our writer is simply making as big a fool of himself as the Catholics who have been throwing a colossal group shitfit these past several days over PZ Myers’ mocking of the Eucharist cracker.

Regrettably, our writer, figuring “in for a penny, in for a pound,” wraps everything up with an Oscar-worthy exercise in shark-jumping.

If, by August 23, 2008 your bumper sticker has not been changed on your web site, I will file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, in San Antonio, and have a restraining order issued to order you to change your sticker.

Insert sound of screeching tires, a loud crash, followed by a sustained explosion.

Hmm, what does this kind of pissy, bully-boy rhetoric remind me of? Certainly it’s nothing I’d attach the word “rational” to, and indeed, no offense to our writer here (though I can’t imagine I’ll avoid it), while Psalm 14:1 does not apply to atheists or atheism as a philosophy, it applies like hell to his behavior here.

It’s one thing to sue or threaten to sue if you have actually been harmed, or if an actionable offense has been made. But threatening legal action simply as a means of stifling the speech of someone who simply holds a view different to your own, and who has only made remarks that have bruised your feelings, is reprehensible behavior, full stop. And if you were dumb enough actually to file such a suit, expect not only an immediate dismissal but quite possibly a Rule 11(b) ass-reaming on top of it.

As Matt has pointed out to this fellow, not only has he moronically validated the bigotry Cameron and Comfort hold against atheists by being such a reactionary hothead over something as banal as a bumper sticker, but, if they did indeed remove the sticker from their site in response to his email, then this is simply something that we can fully expect them to use, in their next blog posts and podcasts and whatever else they do, to paint themselves as the calm, reasonable ones, the charitable, kind Christians who out of the goodness of their hearts will honor this poor unsaved person’s feelings, despite his hostile and bullying tone, which is, of course, just the way you are when you’re godless and lost. In other words, this dumbass has just handed the two most dishonest and inept apologists in all of pop-Christianity a three-pointer.

So let this be a lesson to atheists everywhere. We’re human, and certainly can’t expect to be entirely rational and unemotional when things affect us as humans, and cause us to feel a level of hurt. But unlike PZ’s Catholic mob, we ought to have a perspective they lack. Nothing here that was “holy” or inviolable to atheists was damaged by this bumper sticker. And I cannot for the life of me think how this writer can prove he’s suffered any kind of harm because of its mere existence. As rational beings, we must know that we live in a world of many differing and often hostile views, none moreso than those between religious believers and skeptics. Some people we’ll have civil disagreements with, others will be more heated and emotional. But we all have a right to expression, and to use bullying threats to silence someone’s opposing views while claiming bogus “harm” is something no rationalist can or should countenance.

If our writer thought he’d find a sympathetic ear and support when he emailed us to boast of his “victory,” I’m afraid he got a rude surprise, one which I’ll happily make ruder by exposing his foolishness here as an epic fail for which he should feel duly embarrassed. I expect this kind of thing from extremist religious ideologues. I expect better from atheists, as we should always be guided by reason, even when we’re a little bit cranky that day. Atheists who go four-alarm-irrational will find themselves thoroughly hosed if we hear about it.


Addendum: The original writer has finally been reduced simply to calling Matt “such an asshole” in response to Matt’s explanations as to why he did the wrong thing. That says all that needs to be said about the guy’s character, I do believe. I wonder if he’ll threaten to sue next?

Apology Apologetics

We’re sorry that the Pope just doesn’t know what a proper apology looks like. An apology is a request for forgiveness for harm done. However, a proper apology requires that the person apologizing admit to the harm he has caused and display an understanding of the impact on the victim. A proper apology requires a demonstration of learning to show that the perpetrator has changed his ways and will avoid making the same mistake in the future. A proper apology means taking responsibility for one’s own actions. Such an apology is a sign of moral maturity and growth as a human being. The Pope’s July 19thapology” to victims of the Catholic church’s pedophilic predilections simply doesn’t measure up. We’re sorry that anyone thinks the Pope has offered a valid apology.

The Pope did not bother to address the victims of the Church’s crime. Instead, he issued his pretend apology to an audience of bishops and seminarians. He certainly didn’t admit his own wrong doing. Ratzinger actively perpetuated a long-standing policy of official secrecy of sex abuse claims by clergy and issued an order for clergy to obstruct justice in sex abuse claims. We’re talking tens of thousands of victims over more than forty years. Simply put, the Catholic Church is a racket.

His attempted apology, said in part, “Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice.” He certainly didn’t want to draw any attention to his own role in this sordid affair or that of the Catholic hierarchy. Remember that in 2005, he requested diplomatic immunity in the US for his crimes to evade a lawsuit where these facts would be front-page news for weeks. That would be bad for business. Besides running a pedophile ring, he is the head of the pretend nation called the Vatican. We’re sorry that the Pope has no intention of taking responsibility for his actions. We’re also sorry that the Pope, presumably the very best that Christianity has to offer, doesn’t even meet remedial standards of moral behavior.

We’re sorry that the Pope’s edicts put the Catholic hierarchy in the US in a conflict of interest. Were they to follow the Pope’s order and actively impede criminal investigations, lie, blame others, and claim church-state separation to avoid taking responsibility for their actions? Or would they do the right thing, follow US law, and side with the victims in bringing the criminals to justice? We all know the answer: “screw the victims.” Let us count the ways. We’re sorry that the Catholic hierarchy is all too happy to sell out children to save their own sanctimonious butts. We’re sorry that anyone looks to the Catholic church for moral advice.

We’re sorry that the media will dutifully print the latest moral ramblings of a cad in a funny hat, but they give a free pass to a foreign head of state who is actively controlling his Bishops here in the US. These stooges are systematically violating our laws with impunity. In this age of “the war on terror,” you would think that someone would give a shit about some actual harm done to Americans on US soil by foreign interests. We’re sorry that the media aids and abets such blatant contempt for our country, our citizens, and our laws by simply ignoring it.

We’re sorry that the Catholic laity still amply funds the Catholic church despite their systematic abuse of children. We’re sorry they don’t get to watch the real-life kiddie porn they’ve funded with their tithes. We’re sorry that so many people are happy to sell out children for magic crackers and make-believe trips to see Jeezus after you die, somewhere over the rainbow. We’re sorry that the rest of Christianity is so enthralled with the concept of “religious tolerance” that they’re happy to overlook the problems of their Catholic brethren, so that the Catholics will do the same when they perpetrate their own immoral acts. We’re sorry that Christians are largely ignorant of the long history of crimes of their religion.

We’re sorry the Bible says nothing negative about pedophilia. Children are disposable property in the Bible, owned by their father. We’re sorry that believers worship a god who is either too powerless to help children or who gets off watching the show. We’re sorry that believers think that because they worship such a god, they have done their part to make the world a better place. We’re sorry it never occurs to them that maybe their god doesn’t exist, they should stop being dupes, and maybe stop the harm.

We’re not sorry for the secular courts and twelve-member juries of ordinary people who have done more to clean up this sorry mess than God and all of Christendom with its empty claims of moral authority and power.

There is a little lesson in there somewhere.

What’s the Difference?

When I first recognized I was an atheist, I hadn’t read any atheist literature. I studied and came to my own conclusions about god after being brought up as a fundamentalist (and for many years accepting the Bible as the inerrant word of god). After a few years as an atheist, visiting atheist forums and debating and dialoging with atheists and theists alike, I stumbled upon ACA in my community. I had already begun drawing Atheist Eve–a character who reflected my own perspective of what I saw as problems in my own past “logic” and who also voiced my assessment of current Christian doctrines and trends.

I was so ignorant of the atheist community and what it offered that I recall a discussion on the ACA list where someone quoted Richard Dawkins. I replied, “Who is Richard Dawkins? And why should I care what he says?” Interestingly, while I’m not proud of my ignorance, I am happy with my response. Here’s why:

As a Christian, I was always reading the Bible, attending Bible studies and reading commentaries that reinforced my fundamentalist beliefs about doctrine and interpretation. I wanted to be thoroughly informed about what I “believed” (although I have a lot of trouble calling something I have to learn and constantly reinforce _my_ “belief”).

With atheism, it didn’t work that way. I observed and studied all I could about the nature of existence around me, and concluded that god appeared to be a metaphor.

While I can’t claim that no one might read Dawkins and change their mind with regard to religious beliefs, I can claim that I never was “swayed” by Satan in the form of any atheist writer. No silky smooth sophistry confused me into atheism. No angry incident with my church or a preacher made me hate god. No rebellion against the Christian lifestyle or rules and regulations made Christianity impossible for me. No desire to sin with abandon drove my motives. (In fact, later, when I began to adopt a more Buddhist perspective, I was far more morally restricted than I ever had been as a Christian. Personal sacrifice has never been an impediment for me. I’m simply not a highly materialistic person). The truth is, believe it or don’t, I just put my mind to the task of considering the question and studied relevant data as much as I could, and I determined god is a metaphor.

What made me happy about my own ignorance, though, is that there is something to be said for being able to respond to apologetic criticisms that I’m being blindly led astray by the intellectual prowess of such as Dawkins, by pointing out that it can hardly be a valid criticism while it is aimed at someone who has never read any atheist author’s views on religion, and who doesn’t know who Dawkins is. So, even after discovering Dawkins, I never read more than one article. I didn’t want to “learn” arguments from him. I didn’t want to be accused of adopting the beliefs of others and simply labeling them as “my own,” in the same way I had done in my religious years. There is no atheist leader. There is nothing in atheism to follow. And if I disagree with Dawkins, it’s OK to say, “So what if Dawkins says it? I don’t agree.”

When is the last time a fundamentalist posted, “So what if the Bible says it? I don’t agree.”

That’s the difference. And it’s a biggie. And so, if there could ever be a positive result to ignorance, hopefully it was illustrated in my reply on the atheist list those years ago.

But Dawkins is a man, and the Bible, well, that’s god, isn’t it? That’s why you won’t hear that from a fundamentalist. That’s what I would have said as a fundamentalist in response to my own point above. After taking a course of Josh McDowell’s materials with my preacher at about 15 years old, I would have insisted it was inarguable. The Bible was the inerrant word of god. My church said it. My family said it. My school never disputed it. My community held to it. Everyone knew the Bible was the word of god. Everyone knew that if there was a god, then Christianity was the option. And none of us ever bothered to confirm any of our assumptions.

Now, after many years of avoiding reading books about atheists and atheism, I feel I’ve proven my point—mainly to myself, but perhaps to some others—that atheism is my fully informed choice and “my” belief based on “my” conclusions. I have not accepted the claim of atheism from someone else. I’ve given theists their opportunity. I’ve looked at the world and universe around me, and after crunching the data, god is a metaphor.

In celebrating my release from the feeling of obligation that I need to respond to those who would accuse me of succumbing to Satanic atheist dogma that presumably corrupted my brain, I now have begun reading atheist literature. I read some Bertrand Russell, some George Smith, some Dawkins, and now I’m reading Ehrman. I enjoy some of it. I enjoy some of it somewhat less. I find some of it hard to read. I find some of it easy to read. I agree with some of it. I disagree with some of it. But I am able to evaluate all of it and make up my own mind whether or not I deem it as valid based on what I know of the world around me and how it operates.

The Erhman book I’m reading currently reminded me very much of my own experiences with religion in my past. And I decided to write some notes about that to someone, and I’m going to share a portion of that correspondence (somewhat paraphrased) here for anyone who likes that sort of thing:

“…At 15, I still would not commit to Christianity, because I was too unsure if there was a god or not. Finally, a preacher invited me to attend a series based on the materials of Josh McDowell, who puts forward the inerrancy of scripture via historical ‘evidence.’

“I was so swayed by McDowell (back then there was no Internet, and local libraries in small towns weren’t overflowing with controversial books that questioned mainstream ideas). It wasn’t until college that I even met anyone who questioned whether or not the foundation of my beliefs (the Bible–and even the existence of god) was something I should probably think more about. [Because truth was important to me, I took their advice.]

“Outside of my normal course load and my part-time job, I made time to spend in the evenings at the university library, looking up religious history–especially regarding the production of the Bible. What I finally determined (much to my dismay) was that the criticisms of my fellow students (many of whom were taking history themselves) were well-founded. In the end, as a layman, sitting many nights at a table with my books all spread out, I was able to piece together the information–that is today put forward in the book ‘Misquoting Jesus’–from many different sources–some religious, some secular (none, however, which were atheistic or anti-religious). Once I recognized that the history of the Bible–even as presented by honest, god-fearing Christians promoting Christian doctrine–indicated a group of texts one should take with a heaping pile of grains of salt–my mind was finally freed to pursue honest truth.

“Thanks to books like Erhman’s and the Internet, there is today a place for fundamentalist youth (or even the aged) to go and find this information in a simpler fashion…for a layman, this information isn’t really old hat, nor is it easy to necessarily even find and put together. But it is becoming more common and available, and that’s because of the work of people like Erhman. At the time I was a teen, Josh McDowell’s claims could stand completely unchallenged by schools, churches, and communities in America. There was no independent, unbiased source to go to, to see if what McDowell claimed was verifiable. Erhman is part of a structure that is slowly growing and finally making sure that all sides of the fundamentalist story are available to the public.

“Freedom of choice surely needs to be respected, but what is
the difference between an uninformed choice and no choice at all? By keeping people ignorant, freedom of choice is clearly impeded. Books like Erhman’s open up real choice to people who might not otherwise realize they even have options. This is upsetting to some people…But they need to ask themselves what ‘truth’ should have to fear from facts. If my version of truth cannot withstand the full brunt of complete disclosure of facts, my version of truth requires re-examination…”

I’m not sure what else to say about it. I no longer have any dogma or doctrine that requires defense against reality or facts or data. I can accept whatever I observe and see how it fits into the rest of the facts and data. If it doesn’t fit, I can re-evaluate the whole enchilada if I have to. Nothing need be too sacred to examine. No question need remain unanswered merely because it’s a taboo of the highest order to even ask it. I have no stake in any “belief” any longer. It can now be purely about truth alone. I have nothing of value that requires me to reject data. In fact, I doubt I would today be capable of valuing anything that would require such a thing from me. I have no bias I’m aware of that causes me to deny what can be observed or to distort its meaning so that it force-fits within my preconceived framework of reality. But as a Christian, I could not have honestly claimed that.