Date: July 02, 2013 01:28PM
Tortoise: Achilles, I owe you an apology. You were right. An atheist indeed is simply anyone who is a non-theist, that is anyone has no substantive belief in God.
Achilles: [Guardedly, noticing a twinkle in the Tortoise’s eye] That’s wonderful Tortoise. I am glad you are finally on the side of true atheism. Tell me, what did it for you.
Tortoise: It was actually quite easy. I just threw away all of my logic and reasoning, and went with my gut feelings, and, of course, putting my trust in the thoughts of the great atheist prophets, such as yourself.
Tortoise: But I do have a few questions?
Tortoise: So, just to get this straight, an atheist is simply a non-theist; anyone that does not have a belief in God. And a baby, for example, is an atheist until such time as he or she might be indoctrinated to theism. Thus, until becoming a theist, the person is in the natural state of atheism, and atheism is therefore the default position. Is that correct, Achilles?
Achilles: Yes, you are quite correct, Tortoise.
Tortoise: And later, if the theist can be persuaded to abandon his or her belief, and cease to believe in God, for example through the introduction of true facts and reason, the person then becomes a non-theist, and thus an atheist again. And, heaven forbid, if it so happens that the atheist comes to believe again, then for the second time, that person becomes a theist. Is that correct, Achilles?
Achilles: Quite right. Yes, Yes. Can we drop this now?
Tortoise: Well, you will be happy to know that I am taking this concept and using it to convert my theist friends and relatives to atheism. I want them to understand perfectly that they were all atheists until that insidious religion entered their minds, and that they can return to atheism, the true light of being.
Achilles: Go for it, Tortoise. Advise me of your progress.
Tortoise: Well, I already have something to report. The other day I met an old theist friend, a Dr. Zeus. Zeus was a devout Christian; a pastor of great Christian faith. Every week for 50 years he prepared his sermon and delivered a passionate address to his flock. And he said his prayers faithfully all these years, with full confidence that they would be answered. He has also been active all his life in Christian community service. He has paid his tithes and offerings without fail, and raised his children to be firm believers in the Christian faith. You can see, I had quite a challenge before me, Achilles.
Achilles: Indeed. How did it turn out.
Tortoise: It was marvelous. A site to behold. When we met on the street, and before I could utter a single word to Zeus, a lightning bolt descended from the sky seemingly out of nowhere, and zapped poor Zeus to the ground. For a moment he lost all consciousness. Then, a few minutes later he revived, but he had forgotten everything. He didn’t even know his own name. Naturally, my first thought was to inquire about his religious beliefs, and in particular his Christian faith. But he couldn’t remember anything. He was like a baby. And then it hit me. How fantastic! How wonderful! Zeus had become an atheist! At that point he was clearly a non-theist. He had no thoughts of theism, Achilles. It was a miraculous transformation. A great deconversion.
Tortoise: Of course I rushed him to the hospital, hoping against hope he would not regain his memory, and become a dreaded theist again. Imagine my delight when I checked him into the hospital and encountered the words, “Preferred religious affiliation.” Yep. In large letters I wrote “ATHEIST!”
Tortoise: But it gets better, Achilles. When lying in his hospital bed motionless, Zeus was visited by a large group of his religious friends. They wanted to give him sort of blessing; perform some nonsensical religious rites on him. Of course, I advised them all that such things are worthless and without effect, and that Zeus was a committed atheist, and from the opinion of the doctors, he might very well remain an atheist for the rest of his life.
Then the leader of the group argued with me vehemently. “This man,” he said, “is the most devoted and sincere Christian I have ever known. He is absolutely not an atheist. He has been a Christian all his life, and never in his life believed in atheism.” Wrong, I pointed out. When he was a baby, he had no theistic beliefs, and was therefore an atheist. And now he is an atheist again. And there is nothing either you, or he, can do about it.
Then, the old gentleman became completely flustered, and said: “That is the most ridiculous and absurd thing I have ever heard of.”
And I responded, proudly: “Yes, but it is a beautiful doctrine.”
Tortoise: [Laughing uncontrollably] Goodbye my friend.
[As the Tortoise was leaving Achilles chuckled. “What a joke upon poor ole Zeus and his former theist friends,” he thought. But then it occurred to him. Maybe that sly ole Tortoise was not laughing at Zeus after all.