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 Message
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/9/1996 3:04:00 PM  

Message 1 in thread 

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Lynne Caulfield <101647.2616@compuserve.com> asks:
> Where did you get this information from?

Yes, Mara is correct. I'm an atheist.

You got a problem with my personal beief system?

Tough. You don't get a vote.

And if that's enough to make you not watch the show...well, the
problem is entirely yours.

I leave my personal beliefs *out* of what I write for TV. I
don't try to impose my attitudes or conclusions on others, or penalize
others for what they think.

You ought to try it sometime.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/10/1996 6:17:00 AM  

Message 2 in thread 

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Lynne Caulfield <101647.2616@compuserve.com> asks:
> You're mad aren't you Joe?

"...you have so many who never question your show that you're
not gonna miss me!"

Lynne...here is where you show your stripes repeatedly in this
discussion. There is a certain type of poster who is under the
curious assumption that only he or she questions me, or this show, and
everybody else is just a follower, never questioning.

And it ain't true. Believe me, I see more questions, go
through more heated drilling about this show than you can possibly
*begin* to imagine; no one here is in the least shy about expressing
their opinions if something doesn't strike them as being correct.

Your comment here, as all have been to date, is
self-congratulatory when no such basis for congratulations exist.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/10/1996 6:18:00 AM  

Message 3 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

Thanks. Like I've said..if I *had* any answers, I'd be happy
to give them in an episode. But all I have are questions.

Television, as well as entertaining, should try where possible
to get us TO think, not tell us WHAT to think.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/11/1996 9:10:00 AM  

Message 4 in thread 

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Daniel M. Upton <75442.1331@compuserve.com> asks:
> PS - Remember after the episodes about the soul hunter and the
> one where the Minbari's belief that their souls were
> transmigrating to Humans was revealed how all the rabid atheists
> jumped down Joe's throat and said that if there was any room for
> the objective existence of a "soul" in his story that it stopped
> being science fiction and became fantasy and that he would lose
> them as viewers?

"The atheist is also denying the existence of God on faith since the
statement that there is no God anywhere in the universe is equally
impossible to prove (all universal statements are impossible to prove
and therefore inherently unscientific)."

That's a well phrased analysis of the situation...the only problem
with it is that it ain't so.

By your reasoning, if you say that there are green penguins at the
north pole, and I refuse to believe it until you prove it, then I am a
believer in non-green-penguinism. I am, therefore, a believer in the
negative concept of everything in the universe that has not yet been
conclusively proven. At which point the very notion of belief becomes
utterly meaningless.

If someone comes up to you and offers you a job if you move cross
country, wouldn't you want a contract, some proof that the offer is
real? Until it's provided, are you believing in non-contractosity?

Bottom line, Daniel...if you or anyone else makes a statement, the
burden of proof is not on me to *disprove* it, it's on you to *prove*
it. Until that point, the question of belief doesn't enter into it.
Is it or is it not provable? If not, then it isn't recognized as a
real thing. Belief is irrelevant. Once you've shown me my new car,
and I've driven in it, it doesn't require faith or belief to know it
exists. For my money, no one has yet proven the existence of a supreme
or minor deity...so for me, it simply doesn't exist. Again, belief has
nothing to do with it.

(I used the phrase belief system only because I didn't want to get
into a prolonged discussion of it, and that seemed the simplest way of
stating it. That'll teach me not to go for the precise terms, even if
it means another few paragraphs of explanation.)

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/11/1996 3:28:00 PM  

Message 5 in thread 

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Daniel M. Upton <75442.1331@compuserve.com> asks:
> On another matter, are scripts from already produced episodes of
> B5 available commercially from any source?

Daniel, you're on a slippery slide into sophistry. Of *course*
one can make a blanket statement about some things. Many things, in
fact. I can declare, in no uncertain terms, that there are in fact no
Minbari. They are a fictional creation. So right off the bat that
negates your thesis.

And, again, you miss the point...the statement is not "X does
not exist," that's the usual argument brought out to try and make
someone prove a negative, which is nearly impossible. I repeat: the
burden of proof is NOT on the person saying "show me," the burden of
proof is on the person making the assertion. You say there's a god.
Show me objective, scientifically verifiable, quantifiable, repicable
evidence of same. Otherwise, I can say that there is no evidence in
it, therefore I don't believe it.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/11/1996 3:59:00 PM  

Message 6 in thread 

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Daniel M. Upton <75442.1331@compuserve.com> asks:
> In other words, who's challenge will you accept, Mark Twain's or
> Pascal's?

"This is a discussion that *has* to take place on two different
levels. One is the purely empirical where saying "there is a God" and
"There is no God" are both statements of nonsense devoid of real
meaning because they both claim to describe some aspect of reality yet
no test can be devised (again short of dying) that can falsify either
of them."

Once again, your knowledge of logic is faulty. The attempt in logic,
debate or science is not to "falsify" or disprove anything; the goal is
to PROVE something. Repeat after me: you cannot prove a negative. The
burden of proof of any statement belongs with the person making the
assertion, NOT the person receiving it to disprove it. You are simply
misstating how science and logic work in order to make a debating point
that doesn't hold up under scrutiny.

"Without a transcendent God imposing a transcendent morality upon man
there is no basis for rights save the state. Without a source of right
and wrong that exists outside of the human race there is no basis,
except for fickle human opinion, to say that Mother Teresa is better
than Adolf Hitler."

Another debating trick that also doesn't hold up to close inspection.

The notion of a monotheistic god -- *GOD* -- is fairly recent in human
terms. The Greeks managed to build an entire civilization that was
known for its arts, its philosophy, its advancement in all areas
(military included) using a host of household and minor deities who
were in NO way ANY kind of guide to what was right and wrong; half of
them were capricious and just plain nuts, the the other half were off
mating with human women and then writing off their kids.

Yes, in time Greece fell. But so did Rome, the spearhead
(figuratively and literally) for Christian propagation worldwide in its
early history, so I wouldn't necessarily throw *that* into the mix.

Very, very, very few people decide not to murder because God wouldn't
like it. They don't murder (assuming they choose that) because they're
afraid of being apprehended and sentenced under the laws made by humans
in order to facilitate cooperation and progress and safety. (If
anything, people have proped up the notion of god as rationale for
murder for centuries on all sides of the theological coin.)

I'm not saying that religion is per se bad, it's like any other human
artifact, including technology, it's what humans make of it. But at
the same time it's self-indulgent in the extreme for folks who believe
to write off the whole of human history and say that if it weren't for
their particular deity, we wouldn't know right from wrong, or positive
from negative, that we'd just be staggering around blindly...when the
notion of that sort of god is extremely recent in human consciousness,
and prior to then we did okay; not perfect, we had wars and bloodshed
and the like...and we still do. Most of it by believers in one thing
or another.

When was the last time you heard of an atheist car bombing an embassy
because he thought it would bring him closer to the void? When was the
last time you heard of an atheist murdering his entire family because
he *didn't* hear the voice of god talking in his head? When was the
last time you heard of an atheist declaring a crusade or a jihad or a
pogrom? (And don't even try to bring the old soviet union into this;
that was a political madness that had less to do with belief systems
and more to do with the accumulation of personal power at the expense
of EVERYthing, that wouldn't allow for ANY divergence from what they
considered the norm.)

You can write off "fickle human opinion" all you want, but from where
I sit we haven't done too badly, all things considered.

If my tone seems to imply I took some small offense...the operative
word is "small," because I'm used to this. On the one hand, I pretty
much don't have a problem with anything anybody believes so long as
nobody's hurt by it. On the other, religionists tend to mutter darkly
that if it weren't for some god-inspired notion of right and wrong, if
we don't have that, well, we're just anchorless, as prone to murder a
child as give somebody a gift. That it's all caprice.

Well, I happen to be an atheist, and I *can* tell the difference
between Mother Theresa and Hitler. And your inference that one can't
is simply wrong and condescending. As an atheist, I view every life as
*incredibly* valuable because we only get one turn around the merry go
round, and then it's over; no backsies, no second chances, no heavenly
choir to sing one into the pearly gates no matter how terrible or
abusive a life one's led as long as at the end one chooses to Believe.
Every life is rarer than the rarest diamond, and since the only future
we have is that which we make, the only signs we were here are that
which we create, life must be preserved, nourished and given the chance
to grow.

Because those Greeks -- you remember, the ones who didn't believe in
your particular god, with its rules for right and wrong -- actually had
the audacity to once define happiness. Not in terms of right and
wrong, but in even larger terms. I noted them at Macon. To wit: "The
exercise of vital powers along lines of excellence in a life affording
them scope." It's about the only creed I live by.

Not bad. Bet they could even figure out this whole Mother
Theresa/Hitler thing, too....

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/12/1996 6:58:00 AM  

Message 7 in thread 

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Chris Croughton (UK) <100014.3217@compuserve.com> asks:
> Joe, are there any other TV people who believe that?

Yes, there are definitely other TV folk who feel that way;
difference is, you just don't hear about them a lot.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/12/1996 12:02:00 PM  

Message 8 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

"One of the bedrock elements of science is that for a theory to be
taken seriously it must be falsifiable."

Nope. If that's what you're thinking, then I suggest you go back and
check, because that's not correct in any respect. To take the green
penguins at the north pole scenario again, I can search for 165 years,
and not find any, and you can say, "Well, I guess you just missed them,
but they're there."

It is not the purpose of scientific endeavor to *disprove* every
assertion, only to prove them.

Your statement is simply false. I'm sorry. Saying it's so doesn't
make it so. So everything that proceeds from that is equally flawed.
Any scientist or logician here will back me up on this. You may not
want to hear it, Daniel, but you're simply wrong on this.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/12/1996 12:02:00 PM  

Message 9 in thread 

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{original post unavailable}

No, I'm an atheist. I prefer to define myself.

I don't say "maybe there is, maybe there isn't." There isn't.
There is no proof to this statement.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/12/1996 12:02:00 PM  

Message 10 in thread 

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{original post unavailable}

No, see my note to the, er, feeder...not an agnostic, an
atheist.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/12/1996 12:02:00 PM  

Message 11 in thread 

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Daniel M. Upton <75442.1331@compuserve.com> asks:
> Since you don't believe in God what standard do you use to judge
> Mother Teresa better than Hitler if it isn't human? Without a
> viewpoint that exists outside of the human race what basis do you
> or the Greeks have for saying that one is ultimately better than
> the other that doesn't finally come back to human opinion?

Daniel, I hate to burst your balloon, but *everything* comes
down to a human standard, to human opinion. Christianity as it's
practiced today is nothing like what was originally there around 100
AD.

For a long time, the church had no problem with the concept of
slavery. Even used sections of the bible as proof that it was a proper
activity. Only later, after society began to change, did they come
around. Why? Because they reacted to changing human opinions. Once,
the proper way to deal with heretics was to burn them at the stake, or
press them with stones. That changed as society changed.

And I'm sorry, but I've *read* the bible, twice, cover to cover,
and I don't see any perfect guide or example of right and wrong there.
I see a fictional deity that is capricious, slightly insane, petty,
inconsistent, vindictive...jealous, by its own admission, a trait we
would deplore in ourselves.

The whole Adam/Eve thing was a mean-spirited setup. The tree
was the tree of knowledge, remember; the penalty was death. But
insofar as we know, nothing died in the garden, certainly no other
people had died. So to say "you shall surely die" was a meaningless
concept. They were children, they didn't know what the penalty meant.
And the kicker is...if the tree truly *were* the knowledge of good and
evil, and they didn't have that knowledge until after they ate the
fruit...then THEY DIDN'T KNOW IT WAS WRONG WHEN THEY DID IT. They'd
only know it was wrong AFTERWARD.

And for this they and their inheritors across ten thousnd
generations were sentenced to pain and death?

This is the example of transcendental rightness you would hold
before me?

Thank you, but I'll apply elsewhere.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/12/1996 12:02:00 PM  

Message 12 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

Here's a little interesting aside...I used to write for Madeline
Murry O'Hare's magazine, AMERIAN ATHEIST, back when I was in college.
I did a humor column, the occasional article, that sort of thing.

But over time, I came to the conclusion that she wasn't just
trying to push for rights for atheists, but in fact was working to
*eliminate* religion, which I had a moral and ethical problem with.
The constitution is there to allow anyone to believe, or not believe,
whatever they choose. If the day comes when certain relgions are
banned, I'll be right there on the front lines with everybody else
fighting for the restoration of those rights (though I have a quiet
suspicion that the same might not happen if the situation were
reversed). I felt that this was supremely wrong, and resigned as a
result.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/12/1996 5:04:00 PM  

Message 13 in thread 

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Daniel M. Upton <75442.1331@compuserve.com> asks:
> At what point does anything you said address my point that a
> standard that isn't divine must therefore be human? Otherwise what
> stops me from decreeing that I have a "right" to everything you
> own and backing up that claim with the fact that I am better
> armed than you?

"Otherwise what stops me from decreeing that I have a "right" to
everything you own and backing up that claim with the fact that I am
better armed than you? Rights must be granted by some force greater
than the individual. That leaves God or the state."

And, of course, this is exactly what happened on a regular basis
throughout human history until only the last couple of centuries.

If it was god doing this granting of rights...where was he for the
last six thousand years? Snoozing off in a corner somewhere?

No, the rights you speak of were won by humans, fighting for their
right not to be trammeled upon by greater forces, and bonding together
in common cause to make sure it doesn't happen again in this place.

While many of the "founding fathers" were believers, many others were
simply deists, or freethinkers...they didn't do what they did because
suddenly they figured god had given them the right, but because they
got pushed to the wall, and we were 3000 nautical miles away from King
George, and they in their very human way got fed up with being pushed
around and decided it was time to push back, and create a set of laws
that would prevent the tyrant from trying it again, or rising from
within.

Sorry, Daniel, we did this on our own. God's a credit jumper.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/12/1996 5:22:00 PM  

Message 14 in thread 

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Daniel M. Upton <75442.1331@compuserve.com> asks:
> The closest thing to an insulting term that I have used is to
> call human opinion "fickle" but if that isn't a proper term for
> the race that produced both Mother Teresa *and* Adolph Hitler,
> George Washington *and* Bill Clinton, Babylon 5 *and* Star Trek:
> Voyager then what is?

Dan, I know you don't understand how one could take offense at
some of this, which is why I've more or less been riding closely on my
reactions. Let me try and explain:

Your statement is that without a "transcendental" outside force,
a deity, to tell us right from wrong, that we have no way of
distinguishing good from evil, Mother Theresa from Hitler. That's what
you *said*. Now, I don't buy into the deity business. Therefore, *by
your definition*, I'm one of those folks who can't distinguish a
humanitarian from a mass murderer.

The problem, Daniel, is that there's so much jingoism in this
argument that statements like the one you made are put out there almost
reflexively, without thinking.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/13/1996 9:14:00 AM  

Message 15 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

Yes, Daniel, but you keep dancing away from the fact that the
catholic church, and the Jewish religion, have also had changes and
schisms and fractures, as the result of *changes in human opinion*. If
there were an eternal truth being practiced, then it should be
unchanging. But religion is *constantly* changing because of
alterations in social mores and opinions. The role of women in the
synagogue. The changes from latin to english mass. The final decision
by the church that maybe the sun *doesn't* rotate around the earth.
The ordination of women rabbis. The dietary restrictions as set forth
in the Bible.

Heck, Daniel, the Old Testament goes on and on at great length
to explain how the laws work, that the laws are the only ways to get
over to the pleasant side of the afterlife...then suddenly in the new
testament it's all, "No, no, forget the laws, THIS is how you do it."
What, god was just kidding for the preceding couple thousand years?

Go back to the early Catholic records, read the Dead Sea
Scrolls, the early Roman records, and you'll find that the practice of
Christianity today is utterly unlike its early history. Religion
changes as the world around it changes...or it dies.

The constant, unchanging religion you cite doesn't exist in
reality. It's ALL a case of "it seems to me." Every time a new pope
comes in, you get a massive case of it.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/13/1996 9:14:00 AM  

Message 16 in thread 

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Al Lipscomb <75204.2225@compuserve.com> asks:
> Is any of this making any sense?

Exactly. That's a *very* good point; I'd forgotten about Romans
2:14. There are sections that imply that those who don't hear The
Gospels will be judged by their own actions and their own conscience,
which implies the presence of a conscience (as does the quote you cite)
even in the absence of a "transcendental" being, that is, knowing right
from wrong. Excellent point.

"...the largest problem we have in this country is that we have
moved from a justice system to a legal system."

Wow...I've never heard that put so simply and so succinctly.
And it's absolutely correct. Nicely done.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/13/1996 9:14:00 AM  

Message 17 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

Exactly. The constitution (this is from memory, so I may get a
word out of place) stipulates "Congress shall make no law respecting
the establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof."
Which means the state should have nothing to say about it one way or
the other. It's a personal matter for each individual. It's a bit of
wisdom that goes back about 2,000 years; "Render unto Caesar that which
is Caesar's; and to god that which is god's."

That the line gets blurred sometimes is really in violation of
what the bible seemed to suggest. The pharisees were synonymous with
hypocrites, they had allied themselves with the government of the time,
and that was their downfall in the final analysis; the state invariably
corrupts religion. The overall sense was to keep away from the
government, to strive for something higher. These days a fair amount
of religion has become mass theater, much in violation of the
suggestion to "go into your closet to pray," and the suggestions that
those who made a show of their beliefs were not exactly role models.

The state should be religion-neutral, neither encouraging nor
discouraging. Sometimes this is unfair to one group or another, but
as long as it does so consistently, not favoring either side, then it's
okay. The best compromise is one in which neither side feels it's
entirely won. (Yes, some of the questions of where and when religious
artifacts can be put up stray into grey areas...but at least the
patriotism of those involved is not usually up for grabs. During one
Presidential election, then Vice-President Bush, on a campaign stop in
Chicago, was asked about his reaction to atheists, and he said, "Well,
that's certainly their choice, though I don't see how anybody could
call them patriots, since this is one nation under god." Substitute
catholics or jews or moslems or japanese or irish for atheists in that
sentence, and you'd have a firestorm that would've brought down the
whole campaign. Here nobody even seemed to notice.)

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/13/1996 9:14:00 AM  

Message 18 in thread 

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Shane S. Shellenbarger <104305.3404@compuserve.com> asks:
> Have you heard anything different?

Not only haven't I heard anything new, I hadn't even *learned*
that she was missing until about a week ago...the perils of being
buried alive in a story.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/13/1996 1:48:00 PM  

Message 19 in thread 

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Daniel M. Upton <75442.1331@compuserve.com> asks:
> So by what authority do you say that "A" is bad and "B" is good
> and why should I respect it?

"Alright, you and I are both humans. We are in essence equal. So by
what authority do you say that "A" is bad and "B" is good and why
should I respect it?"

You respect if if there are more people than you are who believe A is
bad and B is good, and they pass a bunch of laws requiring your
adherence to this.

Furthermore...

You, as a christian, say A is bad, B is good, suggesting the
transcendental guidance of your particular deity or prophet.

A moslem says B is good, and A is bad, based on the transcendental
guidance of HIS particular deity or prophet.

So how is this resolved?

See, this is one of the problems people bring to the table on this
argument; they argue that truth always comes from transcendental
god...omitting that they mean THEIR PARTICULAR god, that this alone is
real truth...and the other guys are just misled. "Ours is BETTER. Our
god can beat up their god."

It's like those who want creationism taught in schools...oddly, when
they bring this up, it's always the christian version of this...you
don't tend to hear much about the one where Earth is carried on the
back of a giant turtle....

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/14/1996 6:39:00 AM  

Message 20 in thread 

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Dimitri M LaBarge <71501.3353@compuserve.com> asks:
> Who was right, what was the proper interpretation of this church?
> Yet, aren't Pelagius' ideas of an human-powered Christianity
> equally as valid as the self-hating Augustinian conception?

Good points. (And of course, there's Martin Luther and his
fistful of theses nailed to a door....)

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/14/1996 4:13:00 PM  

Message 21 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

"Generally whichever side has the most people left alive at the end of
the war gets to decide."

Exactly.

So much for eternal verities and transcendental truth.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/14/1996 4:13:00 PM  

Message 22 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

"The reason for the multiplication of Old Testament laws was because
when Moses brought down the first ten the people promised to obey them
to God's satisfaction. This proved that they had missed the point,
which was that God's law is impossible for man to keep to God's
standards because his standard is perfection and we are imperfect."

So in other words, this was sort of god's version of "pull my
finger...."

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/14/1996 4:13:00 PM  

Message 23 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

Right.

And that's why they were so sad, you see....

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/14/1996 4:13:00 PM  

Message 24 in thread 

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Jon A. Bell <74124.276@compuserve.com> asks:
> Is it just me, or is there something wrong with this picture?
> (Then again, I live in San Francisco, and becoming an Ordained
> Minister of Anything in California is probably just a matter of
> filling out a form and paying $20 to someone.) The Church of
> Silly Walks, anyone?

"My stepfather, a tax accountant, informed me that the pay of ordained
ministers does not have Social Security taxes taken out of it, on the
grounds that in their dotage, their flock will take care of them. Is it
just me, or is there something wrong with this picture?"

Yes, it proves that the social security system is completely flocked.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/14/1996 6:18:00 PM  

Message 25 in thread 

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Richard M. Perry <76461.2737@compuserve.com> asks:
> FWIW, every time I show that post to anyone who hasn't seen the
> show, I get the response, "What show is this? When is it on?

Thanks. I will confess I go back and forth about getting into
this kind of conversation on the nets; either way, it will have an
effect on how people perceive the show. And, basically, I'm here to
talk about the show, and be responsive to questions, not necessarily to
put my beliefs, attitudes or prejudices out there in other people's
faces. I'm not what matters here, I'm not terribly interesting...it's
the show, and those two can't ever be allowed to get confused. I was
kicking myself for days for allowing myself to get dragged into this
(and it's nobody's fault but my own that it happened). It's not really
my place to go around lecturing anyone or spouting off to anyone about
what they believe, and a few times, when the debate got really warmed
up, I did that.

What I do or don't believe is fundamentally irrelevant to the
discussion, as long as I can keep it out of the show. (The one area
where it does get through that you note -- the importance of life and
the right to choose one's own road through that -- is there, granted,
but there aren't a whole lot of reasonable counter-arguments to that
one.)

Because I make this show, I have -- for lack of a better phrase
-- a platform from which to spout off. People tend to at least note
what I say, even though most of it is rather silly, though I don't for
a second buy into the notion that people are overmuch influenced by
anything I say here. Particularly those on-line, who tend to be a
fairly hardy bunch, intellectually speaking. But there's still an
obligation not to misuse or abuse that platform, or take advantage of
it to spout notions that don't really touch the show per se at any two
contiguous points.

In short...sometimes I say more than I should, and should learn
to just Shut Up once in a while. If this time out the discussion has
done some good, then that's great. But I still think some days I
shouldn't have allowed it to happen. If somebody wants to take a pot
shot at my beliefs, let 'em. It's only pixels.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/15/1996 7:54:00 AM  

Message 26 in thread 

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{original post unavailable}

Nah, it really isn't understatement...people who spend a day in
my company invariably come away with the suspcion that there's
considerably less there than meets the eye.

The invitation is, however, much appreciated.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/15/1996 12:28:00 PM  

Message 27 in thread 

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Tom Knudsen <72347.1626@compuserve.com> asks:
> Do you actually find this when you spend time with the folks that
> know you online??

No, it's not that...but in person, I generally tend to be fairly
quiet and reserved, almost verging on shy. In groups I tend to vanish
into the wallpaper. You'll usually find me at the back of the room,
observing. I'm not terribly extraordinary looking, rather average
really, in contrast with what some perceive of me online, as evidenced
by an email note I got just today where someone fancied me a mix of Sam
Kinneson and Sean Connery, based on the messages here and elsewhere.

I can gear it up when I have to go to a convention and perform,
but the rest of the time...I'm nearly invisible. And I mean
*invisible*. As some small proof of this, when I went to my 20th high
school reunion, I knew every face and every name I saw. Out of the
hundreds of people who showed up, two
-- TWO -- vaguely sorta kind remembered me, but that's about it. I
passed through their ranks without leaving even a footprint. This is
the norm, not the exception. Online, I can be Cary Grant...but
offline, closer to Don Knotts.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/15/1996 4:09:00 PM  

Message 28 in thread 

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{original post unavailable}

It's okay, kiddo...I'm used to it.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/15/1996 7:31:00 PM  

Message 29 in thread 

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Dimitri M LaBarge <71501.3353@compuserve.com> asks:
> Is one set more valid just because it's got "production values"
> and a storyline?

Hrmmm...I dunno...maybe. I'll have to think about it. I guess
it's this particular topic, more than anything else, that has the
potential to polarize people the most, and B5 tends to be about
bringing folks together, not splitting them apart into camps. We'll
see....

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/16/1996 9:37:00 AM  

Message 30 in thread 

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(blocked) asks:
> Surely, someone who does not question themselves, their beliefs
> and their opinions cannot grow?

Lengthy, perhaps; confused post, no. Thanks.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/16/1996 3:33:00 PM  

Message 31 in thread 

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Daniel M. Upton <75442.1331@compuserve.com> asks:
> You want to censor the internet, or ban guns?

Daniel, you Keep Missing the Point.

If "free speech (and) the right to keep and bear arms are God
given rights," then why didn't God give them? Why did it take a number
of humans to *decide* that it was time to strive for something better?
The rights you speak of were never given by god, they were given by
those who spent their life's blood in an effort to create something
better for their inheritors. If god had anything to say on this issue,
he should've said it in the 6,000 years preceding, and *done* something
about it. He didn't. We did.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/17/1996 12:10:00 PM  

Message 32 in thread 

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Penny J. Legner <103643.763@compuserve.com> asks:
> Isn't that what we're doing here?

Yes, that's the dream...of course, there are many days when
netspeak and the dream are far, far removed from one another.....

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/21/1996 4:18:00 PM  

Message 33 in thread 

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(blocked) asks:
> This is a bit off-subject, but I was wondering: as an athiest,
> where do you believe that life came from originally? The cell
> theory states that all cells must come from pre-existing cells,
> but where did the first one come from?

You tell me where god came from originally, and I'll tell you
where that first bit of matter came from originally.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/21/1996 9:47:00 PM  

Message 34 in thread 

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Cathy Holley <75204.1515@compuserve.com> asks:
> Then if I told you that God always existed, you'd tell me that
> matter has always existed as well?

Yup. In one form or another, one Big Bang leading to a
collapse, and another Big Bang...if one can say god has always existed,
then one can equally say that perhaps the universe has always existed,
in one form or another....

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/22/1996 7:11:00 PM  

Message 35 in thread 

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Cathy Holley <75204.1515@compuserve.com> asks:
> If you saw a house in a forest, full of furniture, but made
> entirely of foresty stuff, would you conclude that the house
> formed on it's own? without a designer?

Yes, I've heard the "looking at a house" notion...and I've also
noted the Rohrscharch test, in which you look at random drawings, and
the human mind, which seeks out patterns, takes that which has no
meaning and puts a meaning onto it.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Joe an atheist?
      To: CIS  
    Date: 5/23/1996 6:50:00 AM  

Message 36 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

Ah, but physics is now postulating that there's not just one
big bang, but there have been numerous ones...perhaps an infinite
number of them, as the universe collapses, then bangs, collapses, then
bangs.

jms

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