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An Atheists Answer


KKnox
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A small feature entitled, "MY ANSWER by Billy Graham" appears in my local newspaper every day except Sunday. Often these questions are immature or incredibly naive and Billy Graham offers bible-based advice in response. I've decided to start a new blog in which I offer answers to the same question every day but from a rational atheists perspective. I will replicate the question and then give my answer. I will also provide a link to Billy Graham's website so readers can look at his answer if they'd like.

 

I do not wish to criticize Billy Graham's answer in any way. In fact, I don't plan to address his answer at all and barely even read more than the first and last paragraphs. I would just like to provide an alternative answer from an atheist's point of view. I will also ask readers to offer their own reply to the question in the comments.

 

I believe my replication of these questions is covered under the fair use doctrine of US copyright law. I would like some informed opinions about my replication of the questions on my blog before I release the URL publicly. Will there be any copyright issues? I've pasted the first two posts below. Any and all comments are welcome. I am not looking for a large readership (but wouldn't mind it). I mainly want an outlet for my newly formed opinions (I deconverted over the last year) and to read other's alternative answers.

 

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Expecting Too Much

 

Q: I admit I've made some bad decisions in my life, but a couple of months ago God finally got my attention and I asked Jesus to take over. I know He's forgiven me, but I was hoping He'd also clean up some of the messes I've made, and so far He hasn't. Was I expecting too much? — G. McL.

 

A: Yes, you were expecting too much because your god and Jesus do not exist. The "attention" that you think you received from god was an emotional response to something you felt you needed in your life. You saw what you wanted to see and not reality. The best way for you clean up the "messes" you have made is to examine and redefine your personal morality and priorities such that you will make better decisions in the future. If you then remain true to yourself, you will have nothing to regret in the future.

 

Billy Graham's answer.

 

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Non-Serious Belief

 

Q: I know that some people are fiercely opposed to religion, but most of the people I know just don't think about God very much. Most of them will say they believe in God, but their belief doesn't seem to make much difference to them. Why do you think this is? — L.P.

 

A: In some of these cases, these people are probably agnostic or atheist but are not willing to admit it publicly to friends and family or maybe even to themselves. The social pressure to believe in God (specifically the Christian god) is very strong here in the US and these people may fear being ostracized if they make their true feelings known. In other cases, these people may be deists and do not believe that their god has had any effect on the physical world after it was created.

 

Billy Graham's answer.

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I don't have any idea, one way or the other, about the copyright issues. But I do know this: I love your idea and the way you answered the questions!

 

BTW. there's one of those religious q/a columns in my local newspaper also (not Billy Graham). The answers usually make me gag.

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You need to look at the terms and conditions attached to submitting questions to the column. Some columns specifically state that all letters received are considered the property of the newspaper (or syndication entity), while others do not carry this condition. Look at what you would need to agree to in order to send your own question to "Billy Graham" (I doubt very much that he answers these himself), and that will tell you whether or not the letters are considered the copyrighted property of the publisher.

 

Copyright law says the letters are the property of their authors unless they cede the copyright. But the authors are extremely unlikely to go after you for infringement, while the column syndicator is far more likely to enforce their copyright.

 

Just as an FYI, even if the publisher or syndicate goes after you, the first step would be a simple "cease and desist" order, not a lawsuit. Well, 99% of the time, anyways.

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A small feature entitled, "MY ANSWER by Billy Graham" appears in my local newspaper every day except Sunday. Often these questions are immature or incredibly naive and Billy Graham offers bible-based advice in response. I've decided to start a new blog in which I offer answers to the same question every day but from a rational atheists perspective. I will replicate the question and then give my answer. I will also provide a link to Billy Graham's website so readers can look at his answer if they'd like.

 

I do not wish to criticize Billy Graham's answer in any way. In fact, I don't plan to address his answer at all and barely even read more than the first and last paragraphs. I would just like to provide an alternative answer from an atheist's point of view. I will also ask readers to offer their own reply to the question in the comments.

 

Excellent Idea! A web blog with the right circulation would do the trick, but I doubt your local paper would be willing to put anyone's responses next to Billy Graham's (or any other theist).

 

Linking to Billy Graham's responses is an interesting idea. Quoting the questions from the paper with attribution should not cause any problems, but then a nuisance suit might really hurt, and in this case you are going up against the Big Boys.

 

As much as it may seem to be over the top, a little legal advice from a lawyer that you put on retainer might not be a bad idea.

 

As far as the work involved, once you open the door to questions and responses, you will have your work cut out for you. I would suggest you screen the answers (Moderate) so that you aren't faced with screaming insults or really stupid questions/comments. After all, in the paper, I'm sure a lot of questions were left out by Billy Graham.

 

Isn't he dead?

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<snip>

 

Isn't he dead?

 

Just his brain.

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You need to look at the terms and conditions attached to submitting questions to the column.

Excellent idea! However, I could not find a place on his site to submit questions. I'm pretty sure there are submission instructions at the bottom of the article in the paper. I'll check tomorrow. I may actually have to submit a hokey letter to find out the policies.

 

(I doubt very much that he answers these himself)

No, I don't think he does.

 

Isn't he dead?

Billy Graham is very much alive. His wife died a couple years ago, and I think his son or grandson is mainly running the business now.

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I really liked your second answer. It was factual, plausible and offered useful food for thought.

 

You clearly have the ability to make this a worthwhile read but I think you have some learning too.

 

You first one however was a little condescending. Make your reader think like you did in the second answer and give people alternatives. They can figure it out from there.

 

Sign me up! Can I get this as a daily email?

 

Mongo

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I really liked your second answer. It was factual, plausible and offered useful food for thought.

 

You clearly have the ability to make this a worthwhile read but I think you have some learning too.

 

You first one however was a little condescending. Make your reader think like you did in the second answer and give people alternatives. They can figure it out from there.

 

Sign me up! Can I get this as a daily email?

 

Mongo

Thanks. I've never tried to do this type of thing before and I appreciate your constructive criticism. I see what you are saying and I plan to rewrite the 1st one.

 

According the following site, I think the replication of the original question falls under fair use.

http://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/liability/IP

 

However, in order to protect myself, I still plan to blog as anonymously as possible using Tor or something similar. As soon as I figure out the Tor software and set up the blog, I'll post the URL here. Depending on the blog service I use, you may be able to sign up for daily emails. I'm leaning towards WordPress. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

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I like the idea, but I think that with people coming from a Christian position and experiencing real problems and doubts, answers like "your god does not exist" and "your god is not listening" are not very helpful for where they are. I would feel more like you were giving real answers and not just refuting Christianity if the answers were focused on suggestions for positive behavior instead of how they should stop believing.

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I like the idea, but I think that with people coming from a Christian position and experiencing real problems and doubts, answers like "your god does not exist" and "your god is not listening" are not very helpful for where they are. I would feel more like you were giving real answers and not just refuting Christianity if the answers were focused on suggestions for positive behavior instead of how they should stop believing.

I thought about that, but ultimately I decided this blog was more for me than anyone else. It's not my goal to convert Christians to atheism. I just want an outlet for my opinions. If any one else wants to read them, that's fine with me, but I'm not seeking a large readership. I seriously doubt many Christians (especially the letter writers) will find, let alone read, my blog.

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