December 28, 2005

An open letter to Men

I have to apologize. I've been hating on you all for awhile now. After having a few of the bad apples from your bunch, a girl can get frustrated and reject the lot of you. Sometimes, when one (or more) of you hurt us bad enough or disappoint us frequently enough, we can start believeing you're ALL like that.

Well, I freely admit when I'm wrong. And, I was wrong. I've met one of yours that is wonderful. He's perfect* (for now anyway *wink wink*).

So, I apologize for letting a few bad apples spoil the bunch. Turns out there *are* good men out there. A girl just has to put up with a few frogs first.

Ain't love grand?

Love and fuzzy bunnies,
Lya

*- perfect defined by me means: Good in bed and likes to get high. (jk)

The Company We Keep, Part 2

In part two you'll find a whole mess of philosophers, authors, human rights activists, politians and some pop culture references. Some have questioned those I chose to put on the list citing some of their less-than-perfect deeds as proof. My intention here is not to present the (false) idea that all atheists are paragons of virture. Unlike theists, I harbor no delusions that my people are inherently "better" than any others. Rather, my intention is to show how atheists/agnostics/non-believers are now, will be and always have been major players on the stage of world history, not a passive, invisible minority. And, as stated in part one - the list isn't populated by atheists alone.

First up- Founding Fathers (for those who think non-true xtians(tm) would not/could not be elected president):

Benjamin Franklin - Inventor, Foundating Father
"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."
"Lighthouses are more helpful than churches."

Thomas Jefferson - American president, author, scientist, architect, educator, and diplomat.
Deist, avid separationist.
"Religions are all alike - founded upon fables and mythologies."
"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the
homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear."
"Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined, and imprisoned, yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites." [Notes on Virginia]

Abraham Lincoln - American president
John T. Stuart, Lincoln's first law partner: "He was an avowed and open infidel, and sometimes bordered on Atheism...He went further against Christian beliefs and doctrines and principles than any man I ever heard."

Joseph Lewis quoting Lincoln in a 1924 speech in New York: " The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma."

William Howard Taft - American President and Chief Justice
"I do not believe in the divinity of Christ and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe."

Ulysses S. Grant -18th President of the United States
"Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private schools, supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and the state forever separated."

James Madison - 4th American president and political theorist.
"In no instance have . . . the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people."

John Adams - 2nd President of the United States
"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity."

Now for some contentious "real estate":

Charles Robert Darwin - English naturalist
He professed himself an Agnostic, regarding the problem of the universe as beyond our solution, "For myself," he wrote, "I do not believe in any revelation. As for a future life, every man must judge for himself between conflicting vague probabilities. (no, he didn't "repent" on his death bed)

Clarence Seward Darrow - American lawyer
"I believe that religion is the belief in future life and in God. I don't believe in either. I don't believe in God as I don't believe in Mother Goose." quoted in Manual of a Perfect Atheist.

Next, a whole mess of authors and philosopers:

Epicurus - Ancient Greek philosopher who was the founder of Epicureanism, one of the most popular schools of Hellenistic Philosophy.
"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) - American Author
"Faith is believing something you know ain't true."
"Religion consists in a set of things which the average man thinks he believes and wishes he was certain
of."

Carl Sagan - American astronomer and author
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

John Stuart Mill - English philosopher and economist
"The time appears to me to have come when it is the duty of all to make their dissent from religion known."

(Mill also said: " Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives. (can't argue with that!)

Arthur C. Clarke - British author and inventor
"It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God, but to create him." Quoted from Clarke's autobiography.

Friedrich Nietzsche - German philosopher
"Which is it, is man one of God's blunders or is God one of man's?"

Ambrose Bierce - American writer
Author of The Devil's Dictionary. Here are some entries:
"PRAY: To ask the laws of the universe to be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy."
"FAITH: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel."
"RELIGION: A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable."
"OCEAN: A body of water occupying about two thirds of a world made for man- who has no gills."
"SAINT: A dead sinner revised and edited."

Dan Barker - Former clergyman, author of 'Losing Faith in Faith'
"You are an intelligent human being. Your life is valuable for its own sake. You are not second-class in the universe, deriving meaning and purpose from some other mind. You are not inherently evil -- you are inherently human, possessing the positive rational potential to help make this a world of morality, peace and joy. Trust yourself."

Lucius Annaeus Seneca "the Younger," - Roman stoic philosopher, writer, and politician
"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful."

Gallus Petronius - Roman courtier and wit .
"It is fear that first brought Gods into the world."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - German author
"This occupation with ideas of immortality is for people of rank, and especially for ladies who have nothing to do. But a man of real worth who has something to do here, and must toil and struggle to produce day by day, leaves the future world to itself, and is active and useful in this."

Arthur Schopenhauer - German philosopher
There was, Schopenhauer believed, no Absolute, no Reason, no God, no Spirit at work in the world: nothing but brute instinctive will to live. [A History of God]

Herbert George "H.G." Wells - English author
"I do not believe I have any immortality. The greatest evil in the world today is the Christian religion."

Marcel Proust- French author

Ezra Loomis Pound - American poet, critic
"Religion, oh, just another of those numerous failures resulting from an attempt to popularize art."

Robert Frost - American poet
Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee
And I'll forgive Thy great big one on me.

E. M. Forster - English novelist
"Faith, to my mind, is a stiffening process, a sort of mental starch, which ought to be applied as sparingly as possible.... I do not believe in it for its own sake at all."

James Joyce - Irish Author
"There is no heresy or no philosophy which is so abhorrent to the church as a human being."

Virginia Woolf - British Author and Feminist
"I read the book of Job last night, I don't think God comes out well in it. "

DH Lawrence - British writer
"God is only a great imaginative experience."

H. P. Lovecraft - American author
"We all know that any emotional bias -- irrespective of truth or falsity -- can be implanted by suggestion in the emotions of the young, hence the inherited traditions of an orthodox community are absolutely without evidential value.... If religion were true, its followers would not try to bludgeon their young into an artificial conformity; but would merely insist on their unbending quest for truth, irrespective of artificial backgrounds or practical consequences. With such an honest and inflexible openness to evidence, they could not fail to receive any real truth which might be manifesting itself around them. The fact that religionists do not follow this honourable course, but cheat at their game by invoking juvenile quasi-hypnosis, is enough to destroy their pretensions in my eyes even if their absurdity were not manifest in every other direction."

Pearl S. Buck - American author
"I feel no need for any other faith than my faith in human beings."

George Orwell - British author
From A Clergyman's Daughter, 1935:
"When I eat my dinner I don't do it to the greater glory of God; I do it because I enjoy it. The world's full of amusing things - books, wine, travel, friends - everything. I've never seen any meaning in it all, and I don't want to see one. Why not take life as you find it?."

Ayn Rand - Russian born American author
"Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be waiting for us in our graves -- or whether it should be ours here and now and on this Earth."

Jean Paul Sartre- French philosopher and author
"Dostoievsky said, ‘If God didn’t exist, everything would be possible.’ That is the very starting point of existentialism. Indeed, everything is permissible if God does not exist, and as a result man is forlorn, because neither within him nor without does he find anything to cling to. He can’t start making excuses for himself.”

Robert A. Heinlein - American science-fiction author
"History does not record anywhere or at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But, like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it." [Lazarus Long in Time Enough for Love]

Simone de Beauvoir- French author, feminist, and philosopher
"I cannot be angry at God, in whom I do not believe."

Douglas Adams - British author 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy'
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?"

Albert Camus - French author
Preached a heroic atheism. People should reject God defiantly in order to pour out all their loving solicitude upon mankind. [A History of God]

Activists, Politians, Revolutionaries:

Jesse Ventura - the 38th Governor of Minnesota
"Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people" -

Gloria Steinem -women's rights activist
"By the year 2000, we will, I hope, raise our children to believe in human potential, not God."
"It's an incredible con job when you think about it, to believe something now in exchange for something after death. Even corporations with their reward systems don't try to make it posthumous."

Simon Bolivar - Venezuelan soldier and South American liberator atheist. Excommunicated by the Catholic Church.

Matilda Joslyn Gage - American feminist
"From Augustine down, theologians have tried to compel people to accept their special interpretation of the Scripture, and the tortures of the inquisition, the rack, the thumb-screw, the stake, the persecutions of witchcraft, the whipping of naked women through the streets of Boston, banishment, trials of heresy, the halter about Garrison's neck, Lovejoy's death, the branding of Captain Walker, shouts of infidel and atheist, have all been for this purpose."

Marilla Ricker - American feminist and activist
"“A religious person is a dangerous person. He may not become a thief or a murderer, but he is liable to become a nuisance. He carries with him many foolish and harmful superstitions, and he is possessed with the notion that it is his duty to give these superstitions to others. That is what makes trouble. Nothing is so worthless as superstition. . . .”

Olive Shreiner - Peace and Anti-Apartheid campaigner

Joseph McCabe - English anti-religion campaigner
The epitaph he requested was "He was a rebel to his last day." [The Secular Web]

Fenner Brockway - peace campaigner
Brockway was a labor leader who opposed British imperialism and advocated giving freedom to its colonies.

Ferdinand Magellan - Explorer
"The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church."

"Oh-So-Typical" Scientists reference:

Richard Dawkins - British ethologist and popular science writer.
"We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further."

Thomas Henry Huxley - English biologist
Huxley coined the term "agnostic."

Burrhus Frederick "B. F." Skinner- American Psychologist
In an interview with CBS radio a few weeks before his death, Skinner was asked if he feared death. He replied, "I don't believe in God, so I'm not afraid of dying."

Composers, Artists, General Eccentrics:

Irving Berlin - American composer and lyricist
In her biography of her father, Irving Berlin: A Daughter's Memoir, Mary Ellin Barrett mentions her father's "agnosticism," (p.123) and refers to him as a "nonbeliever," (p.124)

Howard Hughes- American manufacturer, film producer, and recluse

Vincent Van Gogh - Dutch painter
"I can very well do without God both in my life and in my painting, but I cannot, suffering as I am, do without something which is greater than I am, which is my life, the power to create."

And in case those don't float your fancy, here's more pop-culture-friendly examples:

Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin - British born actor, director, and producer
"By simple common sense I don't believe in God, in none."

W. C. Fields - American entertainer
An acquaintance of Field's recounts the story of Fields, an atheist, having once been found reading the Bible. When asked what he was doing reading the Bible, Fields responded, "I'm looking for loopholes." [Movie W. C. Fields: Striaght Up]

Gypsy Rose Lee - stripper
"Praying is like a rocking chair - it'll give you something to do, but it won't get you anywhere."

John Lennon - English Rock Icon
"Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
living for today"

From the song, "God,"
"God is a concept
By which we measure
Our pain
I don't believe in magic
I don't believe in I-Ching
I don't believe in Bible
I don't believe in Tarot
I don't believe in Hitler
I don't believe in Jesus
And, from the song, "I Found Out,"
There ain't no Jesus gonna come from the sky
Now that I found out I know I can cry
I found out!"

Frank Zappa- American composer, guitarist, singer and satirist.
"If you want to get together in any exclusive situation and have people love you, fine -- but to hang all this desperate sociology on the idea of The Cloud-Guy who has The Big Book, who knows if you've been bad or good -- and CARES about any of it -- to hang it all on that, folks, is the chimpanzee part of the brain working." [The Real Frank Zappa Book, ("Church and State" chapter) by Frank Zappa and Peter Occhiogrosso, p. 301]

Barry White - American Singer
"Referring to religion, Barry told Reuters in 1999 interview, "I don't like stories, things I can't prove."

Dave Matthews - South African rock musician
"I'm glad some people have that faith. I don't have that faith. If there is a God, a caring God, then we have to figure he's done an extraordinary job of making a very cruel world."

Lance Armstrong - American professional road racing cyclist. Seven time winner of the Tour de France race.

Interviewer: "For a miracleman, you're not very religious."
Armstrong: "I don't have anything against organized religion per se. We all need something in our lives. I personally just have not accepted that belief. But I'm one of the few."

George Carlin - comedian
"Religion is just mind control."

Angelina Jolie - Actor
"There doesn't need to be a God for me. There's something in people that's spiritual, that's godlike."

Neil Jordan - Irish Film Director
"Because God is the greatest imaginary being of all time. Along with Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, the invention of God is probably the greatest creation of human thought."

Jodie Foster- Actor
"“I absolutely believe what Ellie [Arroway, the atheist astronomer in the movie "Contact"] believes--that there is no direct evidence, so how could you ask me to believe in God when there's absolutely no evidence that I can see? I do believe in the beauty and the awe-inspiring mystery of the science that's out there that we haven't discovered yet, that there are scientific explanations for phenomena that we call mystical because we don't know any better.”

Seth Green - actor
"The Onion: Is there a God?
Seth Green: Is there a God? It really depends on what religion you subscribe to.
O: Oh, man, that's cheap. Everyone else was like, "I don't know. Maybe."
SG: God is, to me, pretty much an idea. God is, to me, pretty much a myth created over time to deny the idea that we're all responsible for our own actions.

Barry Manilow - Singer
"Q: Do you believe in God?
A: Yes. His name is Clive Davis, and he's the head of my record company.
Q: How important is your Judaism to you?
A: It isn't. My humanism is. "

Todd McFarlane - Comic Artist/Writer
"In the letters page of his comic book Spawn, a Christian writer criticised McFarlane's heavily satire-laden portrayal of religion and God. In the following response, McFarlane went on to explain his religious beliefs. "I go on record by stating that I do not believe in God," he wrote at one point."

Jack Nicholson- Actor
"In an 1992 interview in Vanity Fair, Nicholson said, "I don't believe in God now," but he added that "I can still work up an envy for someone who has a faith. I can see how that could be a deeply soothing experience."

Homer Simpson - Animiated American Icon
"I'm normally not a praying man, but if you're up there, please save me Superman!"

Christopher Reeve - Actor
"Even though I don't personally believe in the Lord, I try to behave as though He was watching”

And last to be listed, though #1 on the list: Pat Tillman
I'm sure you've heard the charge that atheists are not or cannot be patriots. I'm sure you've heard the charge that "there are no atheists in foxholes."

And I'm sure you've seen countless professional atheletes thank god for their victories at every turn. Funny that they never mention him when they lose.

Pat Tillman was a safety for the Arizona Cardinals. Instead of signing a three-year, $3.6 million contract, he enlisted in the Army when the Afghan war began. He was killed on April 22 at the age of 27. He was an atheist. His eulogy by his brother Kevin

(You never see the ones thank god leaving their posh lives behind to join up and defend the country, do you.)

Sources (in addition to those cited in part one):
http://en.thinkexist.com/by/curiosity/by_religious_belief/atheists/
http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/atheistquotes.html
http://www.atheistfoundation.org.au/quotes.htm
http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/schrein.htm

December 16, 2005

The Company We Keep, Part 1

This time of year, it's easy for atheists to feel like they are alone in the world. At least, this is what happens to me. Being constantly blasted whereever I go by reminders that only Xtians have the right to a holiday in December gets annoying. (Though, watching them get in fist fights over toys is kinda funny - as long as no one actually gets hurt).

When it gets to feeling a little lonely, and when I tire of psychos like Falwell, Robertson and O'Reilly bitching about the imaginary "war on xmas", it cheers me up to remember who's company I keep. And though I'm obviously biased, they are infinitely superior to the likes of Falwell, Robertson and O'Reilly. I am not speaking of strickly atheists - though there are plenty on this list. I am speaking of all people who have issue with organized religion, as I do myself. Belief in god is not the problem, organizing it into a heirarchy with stone cold dogma for which you are willing to discriminate, slander or kill, is.

Noteworthy Atheists/Freethinkers/Agnostics/Deists*(in no order at all)

Personal heros:

Margaret Sanger - American birth control activist, founder of Planned Parenthood
"No Gods, No Masters."

Susan B. Anthony - American civil rights
What you should say to outsiders is that a Christian has neither more nor less rights in our Association than an atheist. When our platform becomes too narrow for people of all creeds and of no creeds, I myself shall not stand upon it." [Susan B. Anthony: A Biography, by Kathleen Barry, New York University Press, 1988, p.310]

Elizabeth Cady Stanton - American social activist
The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women's emancipation.

Voltairine de Cleyre -American feminist and activist
"I die, as I have lived, a free spirit, an Anarchist, owing no allegiance to rulers, heavenly or earthly."

List:

François-Marie Arouet Voltaire - French Enlightenment writer, essayist, deist and philosopher
"The first clergyman was the first rascal who met the first fool"

"Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense." [Philosophical Dictionary, 1764]

"If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities."

Denis Diderot - French philosopher and writer
"Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest"

Robert G. Ingersoll -American political leader and orator
"As people become more intelligent they care less for preaches and more for teachers"

Abu Ala Al-Ma'arri -Syrian poet and writer
"The world holds two classes of men - intelligent men without religion, and religious men without intelligence."

Thomas Edison - American inventor
"I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious ideas of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God."

Sigmund Freud - Austrian physician and pioneer psychoanalyst
"In the long run, nothing can withstand reason and experience, and the contradiction religion offers to both is palpable." Sigmund Freud, Austrian physician and pioneer psychoanalyst (1856-1939).

George Bernard Shaw - Irish playwright
"No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says; he is always convinced that it says what he means."

Frank Lloyd Wright - American architect
"I believe in God, only I spell it Nature."

Albert Einstein - German born American threoretical physicist
"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." [From a letter Einstein wrote in English, dated 24 March 1954. It is included in Albert Einstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, published by Princeton University Press.

Ernest Hemingway - American author
"All thinking men are atheists." [A Farewell to Arms]

Isaac Asimov - Russian-born American author
"I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say that one is an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or agnostic. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time."

Gene Roddenberry - Creator of Star Trek
"We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes."

"I condemn false prophets, I condemn the effort to take away the power of rational decision, to drain people of their free will--and a hell of a lot of money in the bargain. Religions vary in their degree of idiocy, but I reject them all. For most people, religion is nothing more than a substitute for a malfunctioning brain."

Stephen Hawking- Theoretical Physicist
"At a physicist's conference Hawking was attending after his book A Brief History of Time was published, a reporter approached him to ask if he did in fact believe in God, given the "mind of God" reference near the end of the book. Hawking responded quickly (suggesting his answer was pre-prepared) "I do not believe in a personal God."

Stephen King - Author
"The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance...logic can be happily tossed out the window."

Edgar Allan Poe - American poet, short story writer, editor and critic and one of the leaders of the American Romantics.
"The pioneers and missionaries of religion have been the real cause of more trouble and war than all other classes of mankind." [ Ira D. Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief]

Bertrand Russell - British logician, philosopher, and mathematician
"So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence."

Oscar Wilde - Anglo-Irish playwright, novelist, poet, and short story writer
"When I think of all the harm the Bible has done, I despair of ever writing anything equal to it."

Andrew Carnegie - Scottish-American businessman and major philanthropist
"I give money for church organs in the hope the organ music will distract the congregation's attention from the rest of the service."

"I don't believe in God. My god is patriotism. Teach a man to be a good citizen and you have solved the problem of life."

Annie Wood Besant - Theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator
"No philosophy, no religion, has ever brought so glad a message to the world as this good news of Atheism."

Christopher Marlowe - English dramatist and poet
"I count religion but a childish toy and hold there is no sin but innocence." - the character Machiavel, in The Jew of Malta, "Prologue." The lines are often modernized: "I count religion but a childish toy and hold there is no sin but ignorance."

Percy Bysshe Shelley - English poet thrown out of Oxford University for writing the essay, The Necessity of Atheism in 1810
"If God has spoken, why is the world not convinced."

Henry Stephens Salt - Founder of the Humanitarian League
"...when I say I shall die, as I have lived, rationalist, socialist, pacifist, and humanitarian, I must make my meaning clear. I wholly disbelieve in the present established religion; but I have a very firm religious faith of my own - a Creed of Kinship I call it - a belief that in years yet to come there will be a recognition of brotherhood between man and man, nation and nation, human and subhuman, which will transform a state of semi-savagery, as we have it, into one of civilization, when there will be no such barbarity of warfare, or the robbery of the poor by the rich, or the ill-usage of the lower animals by mankind." - [Henry Stephens Salt, Man of Letters.]

Pierre Curie - French chemist and physicist & Marie Curie - Polish-born French chemist and physicist (1867-1934).

Periyar - Indian social campaigner
"He who created the god was a fool; he who spreads his name is a scoundrel and he who worships him is a barbarian."

Diego Rivera - Mexican muralist painter & husband of the brilliant Frida Kahlo
"If there really is a Holy Virgin or anyone up in the air, tell them to send lightening to strike me down or let the stones of the vault fall on my head. If you are unable to do that Mr. Priest, you're nothing but a puppet taking money from stupid old women. You're no better than the clown in the circus coaxing coins from the public. If God doesn't stop me, then there must be no God. Get out of here! You see, there is no God! You're all stupid cows!"

Jawaharlal Nehru - Indian statesman
A self-professed atheist, he said of India, "No country or people who are slaves to dogma and dogmatic mentality can progress." [Key Ideas in Human Thought]

Sir Alfred Hitchcock - Film director and producer
Driving through a Swiss city one day, Hitchcock suddenly pointed out of the car window and said, "That is the most frightening sight I have ever seen." His companion was surprised to see nothing more alarming that a priest in conversation with a little boy, his hand on the child's shoulder. "Run, little boy," cried Hitchcock, leaning out of the car. "Run for your life!"

Katherine Hepburn - American actress
In an interview in the October 1991 Ladies' Home Journal that was advertised as her "most candid" ever, Hepburn said, "I'm an atheist, and that's it. I believe there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for each other." p.215 (Hepburn on Internet Movie Database).

Quentin Crisp - English writer, actor and homosexual rights campaigner
"When I told the people of Northern Ireland that I was an atheist, a woman in the audience stood up and said, 'Yes, but is it the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom you don't believe? "

William M. Gaines - American publisher of MAD Magazine
He was quite definitely an atheist, according to Frank Jacobs's biography, The MAD World of William M. Gaines. When emphasizing his sincerity, Gaines would declare, "On my honor as an atheist . . ." Also, when long-time contributor Dave Berg would greet him with "May God give you his blessing," Gaines would politely reply, "Dave, shut the hell up!"

Charles Schultz - American cartoonist
"The term that best describes me now is "secular humanist."

Madalyn Murray O'Hair - American atheist activist

Kurt Vonnegut - American author
"Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile."

Helen Keller - American lecturer
"There is so much in the bible against which every insinct of my being rebels, so much so that I regret the necessity which has compelled me to read it through from beginning to end. I do not think that the knowledge I have gained of its history and sources compensates me for the unpleasant details it has forced upon my attention."

Funniest quote to finish:

Dr. James Watson - American biologist, (Discoverer of DNA.)
"I don't think we're here for anything, we're just products of evolution. You can say 'Gee, your life must be pretty bleak if you don't think there's a purpose' but I'm anticipating a good lunch."

*- Deists are included because of their rejection of organized religion. Deists are the most sensible, logical and sane of all theists- and therefore our natural allies in the realm of believers. (imo, anyway).



sources:
http://www.jmarkgilbert.com/atheists.html
http://www.wonderfulatheistsofcfl.org/Quotes.htm
http://www.celebatheists.com/w/index.php?title=Main_Page
http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/ath/blath_bio_index.htm
http://no-god.com/article/quote.html
http://www.infidelguy.com/modules.php?name=Black_Freethinkers
http://quinnell.us/religion/famous/cd.html

December 13, 2005

Hail to the King, Baby!!

You're Ash, baby.
Gimme some sugar baby.


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December 08, 2005

Lamar Advertizing says: Threatening atheists is A-OK!

The Democratic Party
VirusHead

Lamar Advertising, a billbord company refused to allow an ad from the Democratic Party (depsite being under contract)admonishing Jean Schmidt for her vile behavior because it was “too negative.” But this is evidently perfectly acceptable:




The DNC is pissed that their message won’t be on the billboard. Personally, I feel the outright threat against atheist being deemed NOT too negative for a billboard is MUCH more distressing.

Pissed? Want to air your grievances?

Write to:
Mr. Kevin P. Reilly, Jr.
Chairman & CEO
Lamar Advertising Co.
5551 Corporate Blvd.
Baton Rouge, LA 70808

Call: (225) 926-1000.
Fax: (225) 926-1005.

Lamar Pres and CFO and CEO contacts:

kreilly@lamarhq.com
sreilly@lamarhq.com
kistre@lamarhq.com

December 07, 2005

Deeper into the Neverending Well of Lies

After having stacked the deck in favor of his ridiculous premise in his first article, Mr. Eby has written a second, even more awful article to support his spin on the truth.

Viewpoint: The religion of atheism

Mr. Eby has now decided that he knows better than all us poor deluded atheists, and has basically parrotted the common theist canard that all people have religion - whether they know it (and like it) or not. Please note the despite all this fluff and nonsense Mr. Eby has failed at proving how neutrality in regards to religion is giving privledge to atheism.


WASHINGTON -- My article "Giving privilege to atheism in today's America" in the World Peace Herald (www.wpherald.com/storyview.php?StoryID=20051123-091553-1212r) provoked numerous responses and comments from atheists who claim that this article misrepresents what atheism is and what atheists actually believe.

If we accept the usual or most prevalent definition of religion, a definition in which religion is explicitly tied to belief in and/or service of a supernatural god or supreme being, then atheism could not be a religion because active atheism can be defined or described as the positive rejection of the existence of any supernatural god or supreme being. Atheism is the active belief that there is no god. As one atheist put it, "Atheism is the rejection of supernatural belief. As an atheist, I do not believe in the reality of any supernatural being, and as a result of this, reject religion."


That usual or most prevalent definition of religion is defective, however, because it is too narrow. Religion has to do with what a person thinks or believes about first or ultimate things. German theologian-philosopher Paul Tillich (1886-1965) was especially insightful and instructive on this, saying that religion has to do with what he called "ultimate concern." "Our ultimate concern," he wrote, "is that which determines our being or not-being." Furthermore, "every human being exists in the power of an ultimate concern, whether or not he is fully conscious of it, whether or not he admits it to himself or others." In this sense of religion, religion is unavoidable because every person does have an ultimate concern and therefore has a religion. The theist finds his ground of ultimate concern in a supernatural supreme being or God. The active atheist asserts, tacitly if not explicitly, that no such supernatural supreme being exists so his ground for ultimate concern cannot be found in or rest on such a being. Both the theist and the atheist do make an assertion, tacitly if not explicitly, about ultimate concern, although they find or ground that ultimate concern in very different places. So they both do hold a view that is properly understood as being religious, in this extended and more accurate understanding of "religious."

The situation of the atheist with respect to religion is similar to that of the logical positivists in philosophy, who declared that metaphysics is meaningless and should be eliminated. The problem is that this statement or declaration is itself a metaphysical statement, so the logical positivist program could not succeed because it was internally inconsistent and possibly even incoherent. In a similar way, the religious fundamentalists who declare, for themselves, "I have nothing to do with philosophy," do in fact have something to do with philosophy because their statement is itself a philosophical one. It is the same for atheists: Their statement, "I do not believe in any religion or any god," is itself a religious statement.

In discussing atheism we do need to distinguish between passive and active disbelief. Passive disbelief is to be uninterested in the question, to have no opinion one way or the other. If I know nothing about X or am completely uninterested in X, then I cannot have either an active belief or active disbelief in X. Some atheism is indeed of that sort in that some people have no opinion about or interest at all in any supernatural being or any received religion. But those are not the atheists who agitate for changes in American law so as to eliminate references in it to God or religion. The atheists who do such agitation are active atheists or active unbelievers, and it is those active atheists I am concerned with here.

One atheist objected to my article that, under the definitions given in it and taken from Webster's, where religion is defined as "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith," and faith is defined as "allegiance to a duty or a person; loyalty; fidelity to one's promise,' then - as this respondent wrote - "anything that one clings to fervently can be a religion: Naziism, fascism, Ba'athism, communism, even capitalism could be considered a religion under this definition." That respondent is correct. Nazism, fascism, Ba'athism, communism, even capitalism function as religions for many people who adhere(d) to them or have (had) an ardent faith in them. For those people these things do function as what Tillich called their "ultimate concern," and thus they are indeed their religions, at least functionally.

One commentator wrote, "What boggled my mind in your piece was that you attempted to show that "A" and "not A" are equal. Quite a feat. In your world 0 = 1. So, by your peculiar logic, to be with god (theism) and without god (atheism) mean the same; they both mean religious."

Although this respondent's way of putting his point is misleading - I do not and did not say that 0 =1 or that "A" and "not A" are equal - he is correct in attempting to say that I hold that active belief and active disbelief are logically equal. Each can be fully expressed in terms of the other. To say that I actively believe in the existence of X (the theist position with respect to God), for example, is exactly the same as saying that I actively disbelieve in the nonexistence of X. To say that I actively disbelieve in the existence of X (the atheist position with respect to God) is exactly the same as saying that I actively believe in the nonexistence of X.

I do indeed hold that theism and atheism are both religious. The atheist who thinks otherwise is mistaken because he is using a tendentious or incorrect definition of religion, a definition that attempts to privilege atheism and give it a logical, legal, and evidential status over the usual notions of religion. But that is unwarranted. The theist cannot prove that his belief is true; his belief is metaphysical and a statement of faith that goes beyond the observable evidence for it. And the atheist cannot prove that his view is true either; his belief is also metaphysical and a statement of unbelief that goes beyond the observable evidence for it.

Over about the past half-century the courts in the United States have moved to acceptance of the view that atheism constitutes a religion, at least for purposes of law and public policy. In the 1961 case of Torcaso v. Watkins, the US Supreme Court said that a religion need not be based on a belief in the existence of a supreme being; the Court described "secular humanism" as a religion. Two cases dealing with defendants who claimed the status of conscientious objectors to military service, decided during the Vietnam War, dealt at least indirectly with this question. In United States v. Seeger (1965) the US Supreme Court held that adherence to some form of religious orthodoxy is not necessary in order for the person to be a legitimate conscientious objector. Five years later, in Welsh v. United States (1970), the Court held that "A registrant's conscientious objection to all war is 'religious' ... if this opposition stems from the registrant's moral, ethical, or religious beliefs about what is right and wrong and these beliefs are held with the strength of traditional religious convictions. In view of the broad scope of the word 'religious,' a registrant's characterization of his beliefs as 'nonreligious' is not a reliable guide to those administering the exemption."

Most recently, in August, 2005, a federal court of appeals ruled that Wisconsin prison officials violated an inmate's rights because they did not treat his atheism as a religion. "Atheism is [the inmate's] religion, and the group that he wanted to start was religious in nature even though it expressly rejects a belief in a supreme being," the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said, deciding that the inmate's First Amendment rights were violated because the prison refused to allow him to create a study group for atheists.

Concerning this last case one respondent wrote, "While it is true that some atheists claim that they follow a religion, as you cited with the prison inmate, this is usually done for some cynical purpose." But this is incorrect. The locution "cynical purpose" is tendentious because the commentator does not know what was in the mind of this prison inmate; it is entirely possible and even likely that the inmate was totally sincere. Moreover, using the words "cynical purpose" assumes what the commentator needs to prove, namely that any atheist who admits that his belief is a religion is mistaken and is doing so for some untoward reason.

The conclusion then is that the courts have finally gotten this issue right. An atheist's faith and belief system is and should be on the same logical, evidential, and legal status as Roman Catholicism, Islam, Methodism, and every other religious belief system, protestations of atheists to the contrary notwithstanding. And, since Article VI coupled with the First Amendment are properly understood as requiring government neutrality with respect to religion, it must not privilege atheism either.

One respondent did see correctly where this leads us. He wrote, "While I will not dispute that Atheism can be considered a religion, I don't think that the absence of a God alone constitutes Atheism. If that were the case, then we would really have a problem in America because the Government would have to by that view endorse a religion." He is correct. I doubt that it is possible for government to be completely neutral on this question. Government does indeed have to endorse religion, at least to some extent.

For that reason the view that government could and should be completely neutral concerning religion and religious issues does tend to break down because that view was built on a foundation that is legally, logically, and philosophically weak and perhaps even incoherent. The courts thus have to tread very cautiously here. They should be especially wary of attempts by atheists to privilege the atheist position at the expense of their theistic opponents. The so-called naked public square with respect to religion - religion now understood in the usual theistic sense -- is not really so naked after all; it is instead a public square that has a high probability of having given undue regard and privilege to atheism.



December 01, 2005

The Neverending Well of Lies

I've always wonder where theists get the (completely wrong) idea that Evolution is a religion. Here's something that may explain it.

You MUST see this load of garbage. (thanks to the Atheist Coalition forum)

Giving privilege to atheism in today's America

Viewpoint: Giving privilege to atheism in today's America
By Lloyd Eby
World Peace Herald Contributor
Published November 23, 2005

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Article VI of the Constitution of the United States says that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." The First Amendment states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Article VI and the First Amendment, although originally applying only to the federal government, have now been expanded to cover all governments and all governmental entities within the US, whether at the federal, state, or local level.

Some of the Founding Fathers may have been secularists and even atheists. But most of them were not; they were, instead, more or less devout, and those who were religious were Christians. They knew about Judaism, but no Jews were among their group. I doubt that they even knew about Islam, much less Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Jainism, and the rest of the world's religions. They did, however, know about the religious wars that had raged in Europe as a result of the various Reformations within Christendom, and they wanted none of those wars within the new nation they were constructing. Their solution - the best solution that has ever been found - to the problem of the havoc that occurs when differing religions fight over public power, benefit, and influence, was to forbid any religion from being privileged in any governmental way. A privilege is "a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor; [a] special enjoyment of a good or exemption from an evil or burden; a peculiar or personal advantage or right," and "privileged" means "not subject to the usual rules or penalties because of some special circumstance." (Webster's Third New International Dictionary)

The fact that the Founding Fathers put the second clause in the First Amendment, the one known as the "free exercise" clause, shows that they did not expect religions not to have any public role or expression; instead, they saw the first clause, known as the "establishment" clause, as making possible the free exercise of religion. They understood, quite correctly, that there cannot be free exercise of religion and freedom of religion if there is a governmentally privileged establishment of any religion.

[Visit a blog post related to this article: http://blog.wpherald.com/wphblog/?p=120 ]

The phrase "wall of separation" is frequently used as a shorthand description of the relationship that they had set up between government and religion. This phrase does not occur in the Constitution, but was used by Thomas Jefferson, one of those Founding Fathers, in a letter he wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut on January 1, 1802. They were a religious minority and had written to him in 1801, complaining that, in their state, "the religious liberties they enjoyed were not seen as immutable rights, but as privileges granted by the legislature -- as 'favors granted.'" Jefferson did not directly address their concerns, but he did say, "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."

In 1962 in the case known as Murray v. Curlett, the US Supreme Court, acting on a suit originally brought by Madalyn Murray (later Madalyn Murray O'Hair) and others, voted 8-1 to ban organized prayer and Bible reading in American public schools. O'Hair went on to found the American Atheist Association and to work, until her murder in September 1995, to promote atheism and to expunge any form of or reference to religion from American public life. Since that time there has been a concerted effort by secularists and atheists to carry out that goal, including such things as attempting to have the Ten Commandments removed from public buildings and removing creches and other symbols of religious holidays and celebrations from public buildings and grounds. Such present-day organizations as Americans United for Separation of Church and State and People For the American Way continue to agitate and litigate for the removal of all symbols and expressions of religion from American public life. A recent effort has been to remove the words "In God We Trust" from US currency.

What is actually happening when these efforts by atheists and secularists succeed is that a particular religion -- atheism -- is in fact being privileged and set up as an establishment by government. But that is something explicitly forbidden by the Constitution.

It may seem strange to call atheism a religion, and nearly all atheists adamantly resist that claim. But, for purposes of this debate, atheism is properly understood to be a religion and to be called a religion.

The usual or more common definitions of religion are "(1) the service and worship of God or the supernatural, (2) commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance, (3) a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices." But there is a fourth definition, "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith." "Faith" is defined as "(1) allegiance to a duty or a person; loyalty; fidelity to one's promises; sincerity of intentions, (2) belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion, (3) firm belief in something for which there is no proof, (4) something that is believed , especially with strong conviction." (Adapted from Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary) On the basis of that fourth definition of religion, and given that adherence to atheism is indeed a form of faith since it is a firm belief with a strong conviction in something for which there is no proof, it follows that atheism does count as a religion.

The US courts have, in fact, held that atheism is a religion. In August, 2005, a federal court of appeals ruled that Wisconsin prison officials violated an inmate's rights because they did not treat his atheism as a religion. "Atheism is [the inmate's] religion, and the group that he wanted to start was religious in nature even though it expressly rejects a belief in a supreme being," the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said, deciding that the inmate's First Amendment rights were violated because the prison refused to allow him to create a study group for atheists. Moreover, in the 1961 case of Torcaso v. Watkins, the US Supreme Court has said a religion need not be based on a belief in the existence of a supreme being, describing "secular humanism" as a religion.

Besides these church-state litigation conflicts and efforts to expunge religion from American public life, there is another very important domain in which secularism and atheism are being privileged today: the evolution vs. intelligent design controversy. Proponents of secular and naturalistic Darwinian evolution invariably claim that proponents of intelligent design have wrongly left the realm of science and have entered the domain of religion because intelligent design implies the existence of a designer, and that designer is understood to be God.

Proponents of intelligent design do argue, tacitly if not explicitly, that the complexity of the structures in living organisms -- "irreducible complexity," in the terminology of some intelligent design advocates -- means that the most plausible or reasonable explanation for those structures is that they come about through the agency of an intelligent designer, and some of them do believe that this designer is God. But not all proponents of intelligent design are theists. Moreover, the intelligent design position is indeed a scientific one in that it offers evidence that the received Darwinist account of evolution is incomplete, implausible, and insufficient to explain or account for all the perceived complexity of observed biological organisms.

What few proponents of Darwinian evolution acknowledge is that their position, given a fair definition of religion, is also a religious one in that it holds that a genuinely scientific account of the origin of biological complexity must be secular and naturalistic, but this secular naturalism is itself a form of religion.

Richard Dawkins, one of the most vocal and adamant proponents of neo-Darwinism and also a vocal and adamant atheist, has been honest enough to admit that this debate is, for him, the equivalent of a religious struggle because the truth of secular and naturalistic Darwinism is necessary in order that atheism can be fulfilling. In his book The Blind Watchmaker he wrote, "An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: 'I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn't a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one.' I can't help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist."

Dawkins and similar proponents of secular Darwinist evolution are attempting to have things both ways. Their secularist naturalism and atheism are really religious claims, and their heated defense of Darwinist evolution is really a defense of their religion. If religious claims are ipso facto out of bounds in a scientific endeavor or investigation, then their own stance is out of bounds. Thus they cannot be allowed to get away with holding that their secularist naturalism and atheism are to be privileged as scientific, while claiming that intelligent design is religious and non-scientific.

So a particular religion -- atheism -- is being privileged today, and this privileging of atheism both violates the US Constitution and attempts to have things both ways in today's debate about what counts as science in the evolution vs. intelligent design controversy.

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Lloyd Eby holds a doctorate in philosophy and teaches business and professional ethics at the George Washington University in Washington, DC
.

Notice what field of study Mr. Eby's credentials do not include - SCIENCE. Given that, what exactly makes this guy think he's qualified to make his false assertions about both atheism and Evolution?