10/31/2004                                                                                       View Comments

A Personal Commentary on the Presidential Election

There can be no doubt that this presidential election has divided this nation unlike any other in our recent history.

Here on ExChristian.Net emotions have been flaring and jibes flying on both sides of the political fence - and frankly, I'm glad to see that happening.

Why?

When I was a Christian, I was always strongly encouraged to vote based on such things as a candidate's stand on abortion or some moral issue, regardless of what else the candidate supposedly stood for. If I were to vote for the candidate that supported abortion or gay rights, I'd be condemned from the pulpit mercilessly until my very salvation would be brought into question by my own conscience. If I were a Christian now, voting for Bush would be what would be expected - it would be nearly mandatory.

Now that I no longer believe, it is not mandatory that I vote for Bush. However, unlike the Christian, I do not now have a requirement to vote for any particular candidate, regardless of their stance on any one issue. In other words, I am not required to vote for Kerry either. That leads to the point of why I am glad to see the sharp political disagreements emerging on this site.

The whole point of being a free-thinker is to think freely. I left the bonds of religion, not to swing like a pendulum to an opposite extreme, but to be free of any compulsory views. I am free to make decisions based on my own personal research, my own reasoning ability, my own experiences, and not obligated to decide "truth" based on what the latest "experts" are preaching. (If anyone really believes they haven't been hearing "preaching" from both Democrats and Republicans, um, well...)

The American Revolution was waged with bitter disagreement among those who lived on this continent. Many believed revolting against the King of England was the wrong choice and would result in a horrific waste of life and resources. And for a long time, the Loyalists, as they were called, seemed to be right. The revolution appeared destined for failure. Religious platitudes were touted on both sides of the issue and Bible verses brought into play to support one side or the other. The citizenry of the newly formed Union were not in agreement at all.

The Civil War may be the best example of how decisions that affect our national policies can divide us. Then too religion was used to bolster the intestinal fortitude of the opposing sides. The Bible was quoted in defense of both perspectives.

WWII was entered only after Pearl Harbor was bombed. Up until then, although millions were dying in Europe, the U.S. citizenry believed a separatist philosophy was best. Some who disagreed with the status quo became mercenaries, joining the English military machine, believing that in order to protect America?s shores; Europe would have to be freed from Hitler?s dominance. There is some evidence to suggest that Roosevelt knew of the impending attack on Pearl Harbor and did nothing to impede it, knowing that the only way to motivate America into the world arena would be an attack on its very shores. Whether he really knew about the attack or not, that is exactly what finally motivated the U.S. to become actively involved in Europe and Asia. Various churches were found preaching both for the war and against it.

Today Bush panders to the Evangelicals while Kerry solicits support from Liberal and Black Christians. Both are attempting to use religious conviction to further their personal agenda.

All that being said, I am grateful for the American form of government that allows for disagreements, even sharp disagreements, and allows them to be expressed, and does nothing to silence those who disagree. These last 230 years are a unique time in the history of us homo-sapiens. Throughout most of history, simply publicly disagreeing with those in power would often separate a person from his or her head. In fact, people are losing their heads nearly every day, and it is televised or shown on the Internet - innocent people - non-military people - people whose only crime is that their opinions differ.

Today we in the west are waging an internal war of political ideas, words, and concepts. Arguments are heated, people's feelings get offended, friendships are wounded, but so far we haven't resorted to violence against each other - yet.

My point with all this?

As stated many times before, this site was created to encourage those who have left the mental shackles of Christianity. No longer bound by the lies of myth, we are free to explore the reasons we think what we think and do what we do. Regardless of which candidate you or I vote for, we still remain united in this: we no longer believe Christianity has the answers and we human beings must decide how our world will be run. We must think for ourselves and not become the dupes of the politically owned media, or the most charismatic speaker, or the etc. We must learn to make rational decisions based on all the facts, not just those spoon fed to us on CBS or some other major market media that's looking for ratings.

In my 46 years of life my presidential candidate has sometimes won and he has sometimes lost. Every election I've either been elated or disappointed, depending on my perspective at the time. Republicans have sometimes been in power and Democrats have sometimes been in power, and guess what - my pay steadily increased over the years, my belly was filled, my house was warm, and I grew a year older. Regardless of governmental doomsday rhetoric, mounting reports of unemployment, rumors of uncontrolled inflation, supposedly crashing stocks, stories of crippling poverty, and a host of never before discovered incurable diseases, I continued to live - and live quite nicely compared to most of the rest of the so called "common people" on the planet. Fear sells politics, and fear is used in ALL political pontificating.

Go out and vote for your candidate of choice, and when Tuesday is finally passed, let's make a commitment to get back on target - the target of helping those who are still encumbered by a mind numbing fear that God is judging our nation and will cast all His detractors into hell.

10/26/2004                                                                                       View Comments

10/24/2004                                                                                       View Comments

The Critias fragment

sent in by Ficino

I thought readers of Ex-Christian might be interested in this expression of atheistic sentiment from the 5th cent. BCE in Athens. It's a fragment of the play, Sisyphus, attributed to Critias or Euripides. I'd send it in as a "letter" but I don't know how to do that. I tried sending a message to the webmaster but, as happened at first with my testimony, I don't think it went through. Maybe the Sisyphus fragment isn't germane to the interests of the website, but if you think it is, here's a link to an e-text:

http://www.wku.edu/~jan.garrett/302/critias.htm

Here's the text written out:


The Critias fragment

from Sextus Empiricus, Adversus Mathematicos ix 54
(trans. R. G. Bury, rev. by J. Garrett)


I revised Bury's translation a few years ago when I was translating a book on Aristotle by Richard Bodéüs, who discusses the Critias fragment in chapter 3. The book has been since published by State University of New York Press: Aristotle and the Theology of the Living Immortals (2000).--J. G. 8-09-01

1 A time there was when disorder ruled
Human lives, which were then, like lives of beasts,
Enslaved to force; nor was there then reward
For the good, nor for the wicked punishment.

5 Next, it seems to me, humans established laws
For punishment, that justice might rule
Over the tribe of mortals, and wanton injury be subdued;
And whosoever did wrong was penalized.
Next, as the laws held [mortals] back from deeds

10 Of open violence. but still such deeds
Were done in secret,--then, I think,
Some shrewd man first, a man in judgment wise,
Found for mortals the fear of gods,
Thereby to frighten the wicked should they

15 Even act or speak or scheme in secret.
Hence it was that he introduced the divine
Telling how the divinity enjoys endless life,
Hears and sees, and takes thought
And attends to things, and his nature is divine,

20 So that everything which mortals say is heard
And everything done is visible.
Even if you plan in silence some evil deed
It will not be hidden from the gods: for discernment
Lies in them. So, speaking words like these,

25 The sweetest teaching did he introduce,
Concealing truth under untrue speech.
The place he spoke of as the gods' abode
Was that by which he might awe humans most,--
The place from which, he knew, terrors came to mortals

30 And things advantageous in their wearisome life--
The revolving heaven above, in which dwell
The lightnings, and awesome claps
Of thunder, and the starry face of heaven,
Beautiful and intricate by that wise craftsman Time,--

35 From which, too, the meteor's glowing mass speeds
And wet thunderstorm pours forth upon the earth.
Such were the fears with which he surrounded mortals,
And to the divinity he gave a fitting home,
By this his speech, and in a fitting place,

40 And [thus] extinguished lawlessness by laws.

Note. Sextus Empiricus (3rd c. AD) assumes that "Critias" is the same Critias as Plato's uncle, the leader of the Thirty tyrants who ruled Athens briefly at the end of the Peloponnesian War. This citation is generally taken to be an extract from a tragedy or satirical drama called Sisyphus, a discourse placed in the mouth of one of its characters. If the historical Critias is its source, then this document goes back to the 5th century B.C. In any case, it probably reflects ideas of approximately that time.


------------------------------------------
Cheers, Ficino

10/16/2004                                                                                       View Comments

A Poem

Speakable Joy I think therefore I am Why should you give a damn Are you jealous that I am free Free like i'm suppose to be Why is your face scary rotten green with envy Afraid of being wrong I see I am Atheist-Humanist standing tall and proud In a large crowd I stand out Because i'm also African-American I escaped mythology's slaveries I love the fact that I abolished them from my system for me Rising out of the ashes into a new birth of Ex-Christianity

Emotional the journey has become
For the first time I am actually being challenged Challenged to become a better and better and better me I am human in a human's clothing Instead of mythology's blind ass wolf with a sheep's appearance I delivered myself from the fiery pits of imagination's "heaven and hell"
Read my lips oh religious one
If you try to assimilate me again, watch will happen You will not be happy at the end of the day As you are not happy right now that I left the game

That's right all religion is game
The best pimpology around
However, I decided to leave that being state Where one is religion's hoe Being screwed around in your spirit Directly intertwined with your heart and mind Don't play me now cause I know that I know I'm not going back to mythology Atheism-humanism is what makes me realistic, happy, and what makes me grow Case closed

Keep the cross bling bling necklace for your stash I don't want it and that's that Keep the religious rhetoric for those churches better known as assimilation pointes I know you are in a nation of free speech but have some respect for others Keep the invitations to your cultic affairs to yourself I don't want to go places just to hear and see psychotic nonsense

Yea, as an African-American I would have an easy life being christian or muslim But that is not my case I live to be real, know truth, and go through life self-selflessly I don't need the "deity/villain" thing to breathe and live life Nor do I need it to deal with any pain, tragedy, misery or strife I have me and that's all I need You think that without your cult, I am nothing Well, you're wrong Without your cult, I am everything you wished you could be and more I am a freethinker so hear me roar and see me soar

Jason Gastrich vs Dan Barker





Jason Gastrich, or someone using that pseudonym, used to post here regularly. I doubt that person was authentic because his style differed markedly from Gastrich's stuff on sermonaudio.com.

Regardless, I've decided to make available a podcast of Dan Barker's debate with Jason Gastrich. If you take the time to listen, leave a comment or two. On semonaudio.com Gastrich was praised as the clear winner (would you expect otherwise?). A poll of who wins a debate is worthless when the only the choir is polled, but it would be interesting to get some feedback here with opinions on which arguments were the most thought provoking. Leaving specifics is most helpful.

Those who would like to purchase or read some excerpts from Dan's book, please click on this link: Losing Faith in Faith