Because Of The Atrocities,
We Learn To Trust Ourselves
I'm not what you call religious. I believe in God, but not necessarily the Bible as it depicts God. As far as atheism is concerned it seems like you support sound ideas: humanity, respect for women, and free thinking, rather than old antiquated beliefs or the questionable writings of the Bible.
I was outraged to read that the Bible supports slavery, the subjugation of women, and the stoning of children. Frankly, I see this as fundamentalistic and repressive thinking as well as oppressive behavior.
And I begin to question, Would God really condone these things? I find I must side with reason and say that He didn't. He had intentionally meant the good of all his children. A lot of writings in the Bible don't actually represent God, they represent Man and all his prejudices and distorted thinking.
It's good to challenge belief systems and ideals especially if they cause or threaten to cause suffering among humanity. I am for whatever seeks Truth, but I cannot blindly or rigidly believe or adhere to ideas that make no sense, ideas that often represent misogyny and bigotry and hatred toward select groups only because "they don't believe as we do."
There is a long history of atrocities that have been committed in the name of religion. Because of this, we each need to examine our conscience and thinking to see what really seems right or moral to us. We cannot depend on something outside of us that tells us what to think or feel or believe. We must learn to trust our own hearts and convictions.
From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: February 02, 2004 8:16 AM
Thanks for writing!
First, atheism speaks only to whether or not somebody is a theist: if you believe one of the god-claims (or if you have our own ideas along those lines), then you are a theist; if you don't, then you are an atheist. Once we have discovered that someone does not have a god-belief, we know exactly one thing about that person. The problem with atheism is this: if all we know about a person is that she or he is an atheist, then what we know is not very important to that person! By the end of the day, I could think of over one thousand things about my viewpoint that are much more important to me than the fact that I am not religious. In fact, the fact that I was raised without religion is, to me, much more interesting and important to who I am than the fact that I remain an atheist to this day.
Very few atheists (nontheists, unbelievers, whatever) sit around thinking about religion. At all. Most are only vaguely aware of their own atheism! And since atheism itself is little more than a way to distinguish ourselves from religious people, atheism will become all-encompassing like religion is for the fundamentalist. The fact that atheism tells what is not true about a person is a natural protection against atheism itself becoming problematic in that way.
Based upon what you wrote, here, I am certain that you would enjoy reading a book written by the United States of America's real Founding Father, Thomas Paine: the book is titled, Age of Reason. In it, he shows how the Bible "slanders God" (his words) by claiming that He ordered His children to commit these atrocities. To Paine, God would do no such thing; to me, no god would do such a thing! (It's such a minor detail wherein we differ, is it not?) Paine was the first to erect an anti-slavery activistic organization, and his first work as (arguably) America's greatest writer was an anti-slavery tract! I have a special, modernized edition posted on Positive Atheism, as this was the first book that I both typed in by hand and spent a large sum (for me) to obtain.
It was Thomas Paine who sparked the Revolution: three months before he wrote the anonymous tract that set fire to the hearts of the colonists, George Washington himself was opposed to the idea of independence! Once his "Common Sense" pamphlet series hit the streets, nobody could stop the idea that we need to be independent and self-sustaining if we want to be free. It was also he who financed the War, personally traveling to France to obtain millions of dollars in aid from Louis XVI (grudge money against England, actually). And Thomas Paine is the one who first coined the phrase, "The United States of America." I'll bet neither you nor your children nor your parents, even, learned any of this in school!
Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (Independence Edition). There are other segments of writings that people have incorporated together and called The Age of Reason but these are the two original parts of the book, as the author wrote them.
Because he wrote this, his rightful place as America's primary founder was taken away from him by persistent religious ninnies. These busybodies (sore losers, actually) who also claimed (and some still claim) that he died a miserable death and underwent a deathbed conversion involving devils rattling chains and the like. (See George Foote, Infidel Death Beds [off site].) His secretary, who was there with him when he died, wrote a letter that sets the record straight, however. (See Robert Green Ingersoll, Vindication of Thomas Paine.) In addition, numerous publishers and booksellers have been jailed for publishing or selling as little as a single copy of this book!
You are very right about the deity that the Christians think they worship and about this character's influence upon the morality of those who think they look up to Him! And Paine was not alone in his sentiments: Revolutionary fighter Ethan Allen wrote a similarly scathing tome against the Christian religion and in favor of the use of human reason to solve questions and obtain knowledge. Even Thomas Jefferson, when he uttered the following words,
I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion.
was writing against "the clergy [who hold] a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity [throughout] the U.S.;...especially the Episcopalians & Congregationalists." I have the full letter in the Jefferson portion of our Historical section. This is a favorite quote of the "Christian Nation" revisionists, because, they say, it has Jefferson speaking like a pious Christian! The joke's on them for two reasons: first, the word god is in the lowercase in the original (find it our Quotes section). I doubt if any pious Christian (who knew how to write) would do such a thing, at least not in those days! Secondly, as I mentioned above, this very statement is somewhat anti-Christian in its nature!
Paine's other work, which is even better because instead of being anti-religion it is pro-humanity, is The Rights of Man. I have not posted it because there are already too many copies of it online. If I ever lack for something to do around here (Hah!) and cannot find a copy of the Independence Edition of it, I'll put it up. But a copy of it is as close as your Google button. Personally, I recommend the version on the Internet Infidels, because they are our hosts! I also heard that they worked very hard to remove the typographical errors from the copy they first put up eight years ago when we both went online within a month or so of one another. (See: The Rights of Man: Part One; Part Two; Appendix; Notes.)
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