Bookstores have Noticed Atheists

Minnesota Atheists notes a new policy at Borders Books — they've put up a small display section dedicated to books about atheism.

If you've ever been frustrated in a search for books on nonbelief in your local bookstore or annoyed by their inclusion in the comparative religion section, Borders Books has remedied the situation. "Atheism and Agnosticism" has been added as a new section for the works of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and many others. We hope other bookstores will follow this example, and encourage our members to suggest they do.

A reader actually sent me a photo of this miracle.

Of course, compare the size of that to the "New Age," or "Religion" section of your typical bookstore, and you can see we've got a ways to go yet. I'm going to have to insist that everyone go out and buy these books. After you've finished reading them, I expect you to write a book of your own, so we can fill up a wide rack of our own.

If you have doubts that you can write a book... have you read any of the books in the New Age or Self-Help or Pop Psych or Religion sections? Lobotomized monkeys could do better.

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You think with God you've found peace?

By MG (Monk)

I once had a question and answer session with a devout Church of Christ member. This was a few years ago, and I couldn't possibly tell you how much of this was/is my thought and how much came from other sources as I was deep into my de-conversion studies at the time. I do not wish to steal ideas (or otherwise plagiarize) but to promote independence, inquiry, and rational thought.

With that prelude, the following is derived from a piece I jotted down after our debate:

To Christians:

Religion is the greatest menace the world has ever known. As long as religion exists, we will never see a unified world, a world at peace. You might ask, "Without religion, why bother with a unified world? What would be the point?" I say for the betterment of man, a LASTING betterment -- to take care of the carnal vessels that have sustained us this far: our bodies, the planet, each other. No one is coming back to save you or your children. If you don't save yourself, nothing else is going to do it for you.

Religion should never have been an end but a means. It should only have been a bridge between barbaric ignorance and modern scientific inquiry. As a means for the well-being of humanity, it has failed; it is obsolete. As a means to control the ignorant and the masses, it always has, still does, and always will excel. Rational thought may one day win, but the battle will be hard fought. Once upon a time, I wished I was wrong when I had these thoughts. I feel overwhelmingly now (as I also did then) that I am not wrong.

You say, "Do you feel that there is no god?" I would be tempted to say that I don't know. How could I? Certainly, the evidence is against a god of any sorts.

As Christianity preaches god... NO, absolutely not. Why does there even have to BE a god?

Do Christians not realize that they are worshiping a man (Jesus) and a god (Yahweh... etc., etc.) that originated in the Middle East? You cannot understand Christianity outside of the context of its region of origin. Resources are scarce, and if you aren’t part of their particular club, tribe, religion, etc, they will probably NOT be very nice to you. They weren’t when they gleefully recorded the genocide of rival peoples in the Old Testament, when they gleefully killed each other for absurd reasons, or when they gleefully slaughtered a man that sought to reform their original decrepit religious views. Not then and certainly not now. Yes, this is the same region that has spawned Islam and Osama bin Laden and 9/11. No, not all Middle Easterners are evil. Nor all Jews (no antisemitism here). None of this changes the fact that Christians subscribe to a religion that espouses hatred, bigotry, ethnocentrism, and the slaughter of all things different from itself. When the bible was written, these people often had to act in these ways to survive, but do you really want to be part of a religion, here, now, in the 21st century, founded on (and laced with) such evil? The good you proclaim your religion has done does not offset the bad. Period.

You say, "But nothing makes sense to me without god." I say which one? The god of the Bible? Zeus? Krishna? The little voice that whispers sweet, delusional nothings in your head? If you want to speak of origins and Christianity's supposed primacy as being the SOLE word of god, consider the many common threads of the world’s religions. I’m not going to list them; go find them yourself. I promise that they are there. Doubtless there was a root to it all... but a root one could trace back to primitive man's need to feel like he could in some ways control or lessen the hardships of life, not one that traces back to an "omniscient" and "benevolent" deity.

Christianity has become little better than a substitute for tribalism; it has NEVER been anything useful. It is perpetually destructive. The Romans tried to use it as a social control mechanism to solidify a crumbling empire and failed. I used to hear it said that "if only the Roman Empire would have been CHRISTIAN, it might have survived." In the end, it WAS a Christian empire... that fell. Why is that? Didn't god care that the most powerful country in the world was Christian and about to fall?

Further, I loathe the guilt... the guilt that Christianity thrives on and that is the SOLE reason that I feel many of the "faithful" pretend to believe. How many people do you think really believe and follow Christianity’s teachings because they truly "love" Jesus and god? And, no, they don't follow the bible—oh no! Even the most devout often remain remarkably ignorant of it... most biblical knowledge comes to Christians in a second hand fashion. I wager that even those that do claim to love god and Jesus are duping themselves into belief. How many deep down are just striving to be "better safe than sorry?" How many are really only looking out for number one (something they hypocritically say is secular humanism's only purpose)? How many are just too lazy and tired of life to try and improve what we know we have: the here and now... what's right in front of us at this moment... reality?

"True" Christians are terrified for me and for my soul. I am terrified for my fellow humans, for the future.

To Christians lurking in the background: why is a sincere questioning of the faith, of the whole dubious enterprise, such a terrible (and apparently, DAMNABLE) offense? What "Father" doesn't want his "children" to learn, to question? How dare he send otherwise good people to a hell to suffer for USING their "god given" ability to reason and then calling foul when they unfailingly find something amiss?

You think with God you've found peace? Why don't you try to finding it with your fellow man?

—MG (Monk)

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Atheist vs. Christian morality

By Eris D

I have been lurking on this site for a long time. Sometimes I comment on the occasional testimonial.

I just want to say that I am constantly amazed at the warped views that the majority of people in America have about atheists. First, many think that we have no morals because we do not believe that the Bible is the infallible word of God and/or we don't believe in a god. Consequently, they think they make negative assumptions about our integrity and honesty in many ways.

Unfortunately, I live in a part of the country where the majority of the people strongly believe in a mythical god and my husband and I hear those code words ''Have a BLESSED Day" almost every day. We know that we must conceal our atheism in order to keep ourselves and our kids safe against retribution from those who will do ANYTHING in the name of their mythical god(s), like defacing our property, harrassing our kids or getting us fired from our jobs.

Last year I pulled up to the drive-thru of my local credit union to check my balance. I had just paid a huge bill, and my funds were running low and I was worried about paying the bills on time that month.

When I drove up to the Pneumatic tube station, I pulled out the tube in order to put in my identification so the teller could give me my balance. Guess what I found in the tube? A roll of $20 bills that totaled over $800.00. I didn't even give it a second thought and immediately closed up the tube and sent the money back to the teller. When she received it she asked me what I wanted to do with it and I told her that it wasn't mine. She was shocked that I had returned it and promptly did a little detective work to find the rightful owner. She said the owner had driven up earlier with a van full of kids and she was busy talking on a cell phone and not paying attention. Then she thanked me for my honesty and took care of our transaction.

A couple of days later I relayed the story to some of my family members who are Christians. They expressed utter shock and amazement at my actions! They asked me why I didn't just pocket the money and leave!!!! I am NOT kidding! Some said they would have had a hard time deciding what to do.

That is when I proudly stood up and proclaimed that I am an atheist therefore I take responsibility for my own actions, and I don't look for some mythical god to forgive my sins, and I don't blame them my shortcomings on some mythical devil! I don't have a problem with being honest. I am an atheist!

That shut em up!

FYI -- In my life, I have been ripped-off, raped, assaulted and battered by so-called Christians. I have never been victimized or scammed by an Atheist.

Consequently, when someone is doing some kind of work for me or selling me something, if they start proclaiming their faith, I usually either disassociate with them or watch them very closely. I know they are not all bad, but I have observed that the louder a person proclaims their faith and belief in god, the more problems they have with honesty.

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The real truth about the Roman Catholic Church

NOTE: This is not a child or work-friendly video.

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Christians don't really think for themselves, despite what they say

By Bill J

The problem with Christians is that they are not taught to look at the Bible critically. They are taught to believe it without doubt, usually from an early age. To most of them, it is inerrant and inspired by the Holy Spirit, so it has to be correct. When I took bible classes in Bible College we always looked at the difficult passages with faith. The kind of faith that believes there is an explanation for why something seemed contrary. The professors always gave some reason for why God had the Israelites kill children or commit genocide. They would explain why God doesn't answer every prayer, even when we follow the Bible literally, like bringing the elders of the church to pray for the sick. Aren't the sick supposed to be healed if the elders pray for them? Only if they are true elders, right, whatever.

Their explanations seemed plausible to us because we believed the Bible came from God and God must have had a good reason, right? Weren't we taught that God¡¦s ways are above our ways and we can not possibly fathom why God does or did stuff like that, or why He doesn't answer every prayer? My apologetic courses were similar. They never taught you to think for yourself. Seminary was different. At least they didn't try to explain away the difficult passages. They made you talk about it, but they didn't teach you to question your belief in God. They just taught you to modify your belief. Seminary is where I learned that we didn't really know who wrote most of the Old and New Testament, we learned that the Gospels were written decades after Christ¡¦s death and so on. My seminary had at least 40 different denominations so there were a lot of disagreements and debates. It was unity in action. Boy am I glad Christians have the truth and they all agree on what it is.

Most fundies see a site like this as an attack on God. They are committed to proving that they love God and that their faith is real and accurate. This makes them feel good about themselves and re-enforces their beliefs.

When a Christian gets on this site, to argue about why they really know the true and loving God, it¡¦s hard to know what type of Christian you are dealing with, because there are so many different denominations and theologies among Christians. Most evangelicals don¡¦t even understand the other non-evangelical denominations. They only know enough to write them off, as if they are some lesser form of Christianity. They usually believe that they, the true Christians, have it right. Feeling right about their belief unfortunately gives way to feeding the ego. If you believe that you have the real truth, what does that do to you?

It ought to make you sell everything you have and live your last breath serving God. It ought to scare the hell out of you because all your friends and family might go into the fire forever while you lay about praising God for eternity. It ought to make you see how selfish your life is if you don¡¦t do everything you can to insert the Gospel into your daily life and share the good news with everyone. It ought to make you give to the poor and open your home to anyone who needs it. It ought to make you turn the other cheek and offer the coat on your back to your enemy or a stranger. It ought to make you meek, slow to anger and thoughtful. It ought to make you treat your neighbor just the way you want to be treated. It ought to make you love, yes, actually love your enemy as well as your neighbor. It ought to make you rejoice when you experience trials and tribulation. But it doesn't, does it?

So what's up with that? Well, that is the cognitive dissonance Christians try to explain away inside themselves. This is what makes them creatures of hypocrisy and self deception. This is what makes them believe they can keep living a nominal Christian life without really being a "sold out Jesus Freak." This is the point where the Christian says, "I am under grace, because we are all human and God sent his Son to pay for our sins." This literally means, I can not really live up to the teachings of Jesus on a daily basis, but I've got a way out. It¡¦s called forgiveness. I can just keep on living as I please and ask God to keep on forgiving me. Never mind about the Holy Spirit who is supposed to indwell every true Christian and give them the power to overcome sin and serve God. Aren't we supposed to know them by their works? This is the point where false guilt and continued repentance comes in. Some Christians compartmentalize their Christian life (this usually happens after 40). Some always feel like they don¡¦t measure up so they ask God to forgive them on a daily basis. And some don't give a rat's ass as long as they believe the right doctrine and keep doing what their church tells them.

Boy am I glad I grew up and started thinking for myself.

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Over the Hedges

by J.C. Samuelson

Chris Hedges comes across as a decent guy. He laments the intolerant demagoguery of some prominent Christians and their Evangelical followers as well as the violence displayed by radical Islamists. He appears concerned about the forces that continue to divide us, and his persona is very nearly that of a journalistic Rodney King saying, "Can't we all just get along?"

It seems almost cruel to offer criticisms of such an apparently forthright, earnest, compassionate, and likeable person's ideas concerning religion. In fact, it would be quite easy to find points on which we might agree. Yet it would be irresponsible not to offer a critical analysis of some of his ideas, most recently expressed in abridged form in an article titled, "The Hitch in Hitchens' Thinking" (see also here).

High on Hedges' list of irksome issues is the proliferation of atheist polemics addressing religion. He has debated both Sam Harris and Chris Hitchens on the topic of God, and continues to take a liberal religionist stance in which he concocts a brew consisting of emotion, metaphysics, and metaphor that exalts the self-actualizing appeal of faith. That is, he champions the type of faith espoused by those who don't take their scriptures too seriously.

From my perspective, religion bashing alone or for its own sake is unlikely to surmount the barriers between believers and non-believers. For that reason, the polemics presently in circulation seem likely to reinforce the views of both sides; atheists can feel empowered while theists can feel affirmed in their perceptions of atheists. To be sure, there will be (and have been) some theists persuaded by the arguments offered by the polemicists, and atheists are a minority that have long been unfairly stigmatized. However, it seems there must be ways to more effectively promote the desired paradigm shift than by merely offering broadsided attacks against faith.

Having said that, Hedges skirts the real issue by criticizing the polemicists' arguments as uneducated or misguided. Authentic religion, he says, isn't "the ossified forms of religious orthodoxy" he dismisses as charlatanry and claims are (or should be) the real target. Instead, he says real religion is merely an impulse related to the human fascination with "mysterious nonrational forces" that imply transcendency. He therefore avoids having to acknowledge that an "authentic religious life" is usually concerned with structuring mysticism into a codified framework by which to distinguish not simply which mystical path might be correct, but who belongs on the path, who is on the path, and what should be done about those not on the path.

Not having read Hitchens's book, I can't speak to Hedges' criticism that Hitchens ignores or fails to concede our profound inner urge for meaning or our yearing for moments of trancendence. However, having read the other authors he criticizes it's clear that these desires are not only acknowledged, but are worthy of exploration and study. Hedges erects a straw man when he implies that atheists are dismissive of love, beauty, awe, meaning, or even faith. He buttresses it with the claim that atheists who criticize religion externalize evil. Nothing could be further from the truth, in my opinion. In fact, it is for the very reason that we recognize our humanity that religion can be viewed as a poisonous idea, admittedly one among many, that can be and is used to manipulate our inner longings for the sake of a mystical being Hedges himself admits is a purely human concept.

It may well be that many people of faith subscribe to a faith in which God is little more than an abstract placeholder, a metaphor for our deepest impulses. These are the people with whom I would willingly join hands to present a united front against extremism and other pressing issues. Yet these same people also tacitly sanction the core beliefs of those whose behavior they condemn along with the rest of us. Seemingly ignored is the fact that it is those very same core beliefs that drives the behavior in the first place. Thus, like any other idea, religion is worthy of critical scrutiny.

One might also ask why it's so important to cling to a god that's nothing more than a variable or a platitude; a convenient shorthand for a human process. If that's all it is, then believers may as well put scripture back on the shelf, beyond the reach of sociopaths and criminals who might use it to give divine license to their actions. As nonrational as it may be, one can just as easily find comfort in the belief that there is a divine presence without the need for dangerous doctrines. Yet I doubt this is what Hedges is recommending. I rather suspect that a religion devoid of scriptural dogmas and a structured framework of tradition - "the ossified forms of religious orthodoxy" Hedges refers to - would soon lose its appeal as something judged to have any real meaning. Instead, it becomes something to do on certain days of the week, no more or less significant than breakfast.

In closing, Hedges' skills in writing, his apparent concern for his fellow human beings, and his willingness to stand by his convictions are all admirable traits, and he does make some useful observations. His major beef seems to be that he dislikes those who challenge his cherished ideals. To this I reply, welcome to the club. We've got jackets.

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Times-Harris Poll: 1/4th of Us Could Be Atheists or Agnostics

Posted by John W. Loftus

Source: The Nation [from the June 25, 2007 issue]

"We commonly hear that only a tiny percentage of Americans don't believe in God and that, as a Newsweek poll claimed this spring, 91 percent do. In fact, this is not true. How many unbelievers are there? The question is difficult to assess accurately because of the challenges of constructing survey questions that do not tap into the prevailing biases about religion."

"According to the American Religious Identification Survey, which interviewed more than 50,000 people, more than 29 million adults--one in seven Americans--declare themselves to be without religion. The more recent Baylor Religion Survey ("American Piety in the 21st Century") of more than 1,700 people, which bills itself as "the most extensive and sensitive study of religion ever conducted," calls for adjusting this number downward to exclude those who believe in a God but do not belong to a religion."

"Contrast this with a more recent and more nuanced Financial Times/Harris poll of Europeans and Americans that allowed respondents to declare agnosticism as well as atheism: 18 percent of the more than 2,000 American respondents chose one or the other, while 73 percent affirmed belief in God or a supreme being."

"A more general issue affects American surveys on religious beliefs, namely, the "social desirability effect," in which respondents are reluctant to give an unpopular answer in a society in which being religious is the norm. What happens when questions are framed to overcome this distortion? The FT/H poll tried to counteract it by allowing space not only for the customary "Not sure" but also for "Would prefer not to say"--and 6 percent of Americans chose this as their answer to the question of whether they believed in God or a supreme being. Add to this those who declared themselves as atheists or agnostics and, lo and behold, the possible sum of unbelievers is nearly one in four Americans."

"All this helps explain the popularity of the New Atheists--Americans as a whole may not be getting too much religion, but a significant constituency must be getting fed up with being routinely marginalized, ignored and insulted. After all, unbelievers are concentrated at the higher end of the educational scale--a recent Harris American poll shows that 31 percent of those with postgraduate education do not avow belief in God (compared with only 14 percent of those with a high school education or less). The percentage rises among professors and then again among professors at research universities, reaching 93 percent among members of the National Academy of Sciences. Unbelievers are to be found concentrated among those whose professional lives emphasize science or rationality and who also have developed a relatively high level of confidence in their own intellectual faculties. And they are frequently teachers or opinion-makers."

Thanks to Edward T. Babinski for finding this.

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Chess and the Problem of Evil

One of the most popular Christian arguments in defense of the belief in a perfectly good omnipotent God in the face of intense suffering is that the atheist does not have an objective or ultimate moral standard from which to press this argument against the theist. I have tried and tried to explain why these are two separate problems. In my latest attempt I said this:
On the one hand is the problem of suffering for you who believe in a perfectly good omnipotent God. On the other hand there is the problem of objective morality for those of us who do not believe in God. If you press the second problem on me as an answer to your problem, then you are skirting the issue of your problem. It's that simple. You cannot respond to your problem by saying, "yeah, well you have one too," and I cannot respond to my problem by saying, "yeah, well you have one too." I have dealt with my problem here. When will Christians deal with their problem? Their problem arises from within the things they believe. If they believe God is perfectly good and omnipotent, then they need to explain why there is so much suffering in the world. This argument is used by atheists, but it's not an atheist argument, per se. A Christian could make this argument and ask his Christian teacher to give him an answer. Many Christians have become panentheists because of this problem irregardless of whether on not they ever talked to an atheist or read what one wrote.

The fact that many professional philosophers agree with this can be seen in reading through the book, The Evidential Argument From Evil, edited by Daniel Howard-Snyder. Not one scholarly Christian theist attempted to make this argument in that book; not Swinburne, not Plantinga, not Alston, not Wykstra, not Van Inwagen and not Howard-Snyder. I suggest it’s because they know it is not dealing with the problem at all.

But let me relate it to the game of chess. We call the game "chess" and we all agree to its rules. However, let’s say I make the chess pieces move differently than the accepted rules and/or I set the pieces up differently than we presently do. Let’s say I reject the conventional rules of chess, okay? For the sake of clarity I’ll call the conventional game “t-chess” (as in theistic chess), and my game “a-chess” (as in atheistic chess).

I can still watch as two players play t-chess, and say someone made a bad move, or that another move is better, even if I reject those rules and think the rules of a-chess are better ones. You see, it does no good to say I need to accept the rules of t-chess before I can criticize how someone plays by those rules. I can still think those rules are ignorant and yet show how someone could play the game of t-chess better.

Doing so is merely using the logical tool for assessing arguments called the reductio ad absurdum, which attempts to reduce to absurdity the claims of a person. The technique is to force a claimant to choose between accepting the consequences of what he believes, no matter how absurd it seems, or to reject one or more premises in his argument. The person making this argument does not have to believe what the claimant believes to do this. In fact, he does not believe the claimant and is trying to show why her beliefs are misguided and false to some degree, depending on the force of his counter-argument. It’s that simple.


Even though I’ve made my main point here, let me go further. It does not make any difference if the theist claims that God made the rules for t-chess, or that God is the one playing the game of t-chess. I can still assess these theistic claims by arguing that God did not make the rules and/or that if God exists he does not play the game well.

When a theist claims God made the rules of t-chess, I can assess whether or not God in fact created these rules by arguing that these rules are not good ones based upon the believers own claim that God is perfectly good and revealed these rules for believers to follow in a divinely inspired book. I can also legitimately evaluate whether or not believers actually play by these rules and whether God consistently plays by these same rules.

For the theist to effectively counter my arguments he cannot merely assume God exists, or that he doesn’t like the rules for a-chess. He can do this, of course, but doing so skirts the issue at hand. The issue at hand is whether God exists, and the rules of t-chess do not lead me to think he does. In fact these rules are evidence against the existence of a perfectly good God, for the theist has to explain away this evidence. The issue at hand is whether t-chess rules are good ones based upon the standard of goodness laid out in God’s so-called inspired book about the game, not by the standards of a-chess rules. So once again, the issue isn’t about whether the rules of a-chess are good ones. This is a distinctly separate issue.


Lastly, let me drop the whole distinction of t-chess and a-chess, and just talk about the game of chess as it is accepted and played around the world. Let’s say the theist claims God is playing chess and he makes a move. What if every world class champion and every Grand Master thinks he made a bad move? What do we do then? It depends on how bad the move is. The worse that God’s move is then the less we can continue to believe God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenelovent. That’s called evidence, and if world champion chess players cannot see the move as a good one, this is important evidence against the claim.

For my purposes let’s consider the 2004 Indonesian tsunami which killed a quarter of a million people. Who can look at this and be happy that it took place? Who would actually walk among the bodies, smell the stench as they decompose, and lift their hands in giddy praise for God’s goodness? Who can watch as a mother holds the body of her dead son and the next Sunday during worship say, “Praise God for the wonderful tsunami he didn't stop from happening!” Who could watch as half naked kids stumble around from building to building looking for their parents in the aftermath, and tell them to thank God for what he has done with a million dollar smile on her face? Does any Christian do this? We all intuitively recognize what is obvious. This was a bad chess move.

Actually there are some bad chess moves that not even an omniscient God can make good, once he purportedly makes them. Some moves lead to a loss of a chess piece, loss of positional strength, or checkmate, that even a novice chess player can take advantage of. That’s how bad I think God’s moves are. And I’m supposed to believe there is an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenelovent God? No. There is overwhelming evidence here against such a belief.

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Hell and the Narrow Road -- A Letter to Kara

By John John Fraysse

This letter was inspired by a comment posted in response to a Testimonial by perianwalsh (Wanting Heaven and Escaping Hell) on July 23, 2007. The comment by Kara, presumably a fundamentalist Christian, suggested that leaving Christianity might help one enjoy life and even help others do the same. However, after these admittedly positive benefits, it was suggested that ultimately Hell was waiting for us all if we don't choose the "Narrow Road".


Dear Kara:

My reason for writing is not to de-convert you, but rather to help you understand just a few of the reasons (and there are many more) why millions have rejected Christianity.

I assume it is the "God of the Bible" that you worship and serve and also his Eternal Hell that you fear. Of course you know that your god has a "Love Me or Burn Forever" kind of love. If you have children or one day hope to have them, would you consider them "your enemy" from birth and send them to an eternal punishment if they didn't love and serve you? Sound absurd? Well, yes, it does, but unfortunately this is exactly the fundamental Christian dogma of "Original Sin" which condemns ALL Humans, young and old, male and female, past, present and future to an Eternal Hell because of "Adam's Sin".

The "Narrow Road" to which you refer, if Christian, is not without virtue but there is also a very dark side that is littered with the blood of ten’s, if not hundred’s, of millions of individuals slaughtered by "Christians Soldiers" over the last millennial. The "choices" given to the conquered were such as 1) Convert or Die or worse yet, 2) Convert and Die anyway since "God" doesn't like you, heaven is better than this life and "God's Soldiers" must inspire the requisite level of fear. And don't say that they "misread the scriptures" because they were following the Biblical God’s example, except with more mercy than he allowed at times. And surely these actions were with the approval of "God's Holy Spirit", lest he would have restrained them if this was not what he wanted. After all "God" executed poor Uzza for just trying to prevent the Ark of the Covenant from falling to the ground. The all-powerful, Biblical God appears to be very strict and it should have been an extremely easy task for him to keep his wayward soldiers in check if they had strayed from his perfect will.

Bottom line, the "Narrow Christian Road" is horribly tainted with unconscionable acts and God himself seems to be either at fault or at least complicit. For this reason alone, one can see why those who have researched Christianity’s sorted history might choose to avoid any association with it altogether.

How can any rational, caring person abide the body count and human suffering and not challenge the authority, sovereignty or existence of the "God" that allowed or directly commanded these atrocities on BOTH sides of Christ's Advent? This behavior can not be from the heart of an unchanging, all-good, all-powerful and Loving Heavenly Father!

And then there is Hell -- a scare tactic for sure, but worse yet, the very antithesis of the unconditional love that Jesus supposedly taught. Why can't the Biblical God keep his "Love Definitions" straight, since he is also supposed to be “Unchangeable” by nature? My lousy "human love" would not want anyone to love me because they feared what I would do to them!

Further, an Eternal Hell is not a just punishment for the slightest impure thought or momentary "sin" and is totally incompatible with a Heavenly Father that loves unconditionally and commands that we humans love and pray for our enemies that are killing or abusing us. Millions have concluded that if a Just and Loving God exists, an Eternal Hell can not and if the Biblical Hell does exists then these same millions will enter into it proudly, having resisted the Unjust and Evil God that created it!

Nevertheless, it does seem that the God of the Bible has brought his Hell to Earth as he endorses human slavery, the abuse and subjugation of women, the murder of unruly kids, the stoning death of people picking up sticks on the Sabbath and the hatred and murder of homosexuals and everyone who is not part of the Hebrew and Christian “clubs”. In addition, the Biblical God admits that he created evil and birth defects and allows or sends natural disasters, not to mention all those starving and abused children. This god also does not explain why he is so blood thirsty or why he seems to delight in the destruction of those he did not “choose” or “pre-destine” to love him. Again, very human-like behavior reminiscent of a tyrannical, capricious, bigoted, sadistic, egoistical maniac – not an unchanging, all-good, all-powerful and Loving Heavenly Father!

A critical review of the Bible's teachings and the canonization process itself, in its historical context, reveals a consistent, man-made theme of CONTROL over the masses and the establishment of a National Identity for Israel as a "chosen" and privileged people. Then there is the New Testament mission of the Church as the "New Israel" to "Conquer (convert) the World". These provide a near perfect arrangement for the unholy marriage of the Roman (Catholic) Church and the Roman State. The rest, as they say, is (blood-stained) History!

As a consequence, it is clear to Perianwalsh and millions of others that the morality of the Biblical God came from the ancient (and arguably evil) men who wrote and compiled its many chapters –- not the converse. Attributing Biblical authority to a "God" renders the Bible a "self-licking" ice cream cone leading to the outrageous circular arguments:
  1. "God" wrote the Bible because the Bible says so and
  2. The Bible says, "God is good" and can do anything he wants therefore anything the Biblical God does is defined as “good” even if his actions violate his own Laws and alleged Nature.
If there really is a Creator-God, then this God must be manifestly upset with the way we have defiled its honor by murdering, oppressing, deceiving and brainwashing billions of (mostly) innocent human beings while claiming to be implements of "God's Will". We are indeed guilty of misusing the good minds given to us! If there is such a thing as "Sin" then surely this must be its quintessential definition!

Finally, as stated before, my reason for writing this letter was not to de-convert you but rather to broaden your understanding of why many have left or turned away from the religion to which you are espoused. We all must be at peace with whatever we believe. This inner peace is one of life’s most precious blessings. May you always possess it!

Grace & Peace, John

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Finding a Way Forward

by J.C. Samuelson

Just over two weeks ago, I wrote an article briefly discussing the controversy that exists, even among secularists, concerning the revitalization of atheism in relation to expressions of cultural or political bias against non-believers. The goal of that article was to show that a bias does exist, and that it does manifest itself in the public arena. Yet that article was woefully inadequate to the topic, particularly in terms of examining the public relations aspect of the issue, what relationship that might have to the persistence of bias, or how far secularism has come, where it might be going, and what, if anything remains to be done.

For the record, I do not think of myself as a member of a downtrodden minority. Nor do I think non-theists should adopt that sort of attitude. In spite of its religious heritage, America functions as a pluralistic and largely secular society, not a theocracy. The instruments of government prohibit the establishment of a state religion, and for the most part Americans seem to go about their daily business without giving the religious leanings of their peers a second thought. Those who wish for a theocracy are a minority in spite of the seeming prevalence and insistence of religiously-minded people pushing a religious agenda. Indeed, we are far better off today than our forefathers were.

During the colonial period, many states enacted statutes requiring compulsory church attendance. Virginia, for example, had in place a law which imposed progressively worse punishments for the crime of non-attendance in church. For the first offense, provisions were withheld for a week. For the second, a person was whipped in addition to losing provisions for a week. For the third, the death penalty! Other states had similar laws proscribing work, travel, or other activities on Sunday while simultaneously requiring attendance in church. Additionally, several states enacted laws against blasphemy, one of which was used to jail Abner Kneeland in 1838. Obviously, these laws persisted for some time following the incorporation of the United States. However, the substantial influence of reason and tolerance since have rendered virtually unimaginable - to the Western mind, at least - these archaic notions of justice for imaginary crimes.

To be sure, religion still plays a major role in elections and is considered by most to be an important part of our cultural identity. Public debates over such things as stem cell research, abortion, euthanasia, school prayer, science education, and so on are usually grounded in competing notions – theistic vs. secular – of what constitutes right thinking. Evangelicals are still a powerful constituency, of which a significant proportion believes Jesus is coming soon, and politicians still pander to the religious ideals held by voters. Yet cracks continue to appear in the religious facade of America.

Most Americans are equally appalled by the irrationality and violence displayed by religious extremists regardless of whatever their own professed attitudes toward faith might be. Though offended by unflattering depictions of their religious icons, very few religious Americans would resort to murder or the kind of mass violence exhibited by their Muslim counterparts overseas. Furthermore, an increasing number of religious Americans look askance at leaders like Pat Robertson or groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church who, with every uttered inanity or act of intolerance, make belief in a biblical notion of God appear to be the epitome of ignorance. Indeed, it seems that today the god America worships is for the most part an abstract redeemer, a well-spring of love, forgiveness, grace, and morality rather than the exclusivist judge of the Old Testament. That this god and its former incarnation are based on the same inconsistent text seems lost on most Americans.

Another sign of the decline of religious influence is the sputtering Intelligent Design movement (ID). Initially, many Christians embraced it as a scientific vindication of their belief in a biblical God and a viable descendent of creationism. However, it has since been stripped of all pretensions, having been revealed as nothing more than a different spin on evolution, with an undefined intelligence being used in place of natural selection to account for complexity. Prominent creationists such as Henry Morris have distanced themselves from the movement because it fails to promote a biblical model of creation (see Design is Not Enough by Henry H. Morris), while the Clergy Letter Project has gathered over 10,000 signatures from clergy across America supporting evolution. These things, combined with the efforts of scientists and educators such as Jerry Coyne, Kenneth Miller, Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott, and many, many others to inform the public, along with a defeat at Kitzmiller v. Dover (in front of a believing judge, no less), seem to have forced ID out of the public spotlight.

Of course, there is still the booming market for apologetics. Yet I personally believe that this is another sign that religion is, in some sense, losing its grip. Americans want more than just platitudes from the pulpit, blind obedience, and an ignorant faith. They want assurances that their beliefs have a solid basis in evidence. Such a thing would have been virtually unheard of in colonial America, when attitudes toward faith were markedly different. Thus, the proliferation of apologetics works may be less a sign of a return to pre-Enlightenment thought and more of an indication that people desire good reasons for belief. To my mind, this is somewhat encouraging because it seems to mean people are thinking about their beliefs rather than simply holding them to be true.

On top of this, respect for diversity of beliefs has increased. It seems as if Enlightenment rationalism has left an indelible mark on the American psyche, affecting even deeply held religious convictions. Still, we may ask why are non-theists, whom it may be argued are a direct result of Enlightenment philosophy, met with such mistrust or outright hostility? Though there has been a parallel increase in tolerance for nearly all social groups, the gap between non-theists and other groups remains large.

Last year, a study conducted by the University of Minnesota's American Mosaic Project found that atheists are the least trusted minority in America. The study, titled Atheists As “Other”: Moral Boundaries and Cultural Membership in American Society (Edgell, Gerteis, & Hartmann; American Sociological Review, 2006, VOL. 71 (April:211–234)), created quite a stir partly because it seemingly validated atheists' perceptions of themselves as an unfairly stigmatized minority. Indeed, the study reveals that American perceptions of atheists (and, by extension, other non-believers) are rarely, if ever, based on personal experience. Rather, they are based on somewhat abstract ideas about what constitutes being a good American, a member of society in good standing.

Religion has historically been associated with morality, values, meaning, and purpose. As such, it has formed a basis for defining cultural identity and has reinforced a sense of solidarity within groups. Additionally, shared ideals provide a framework for civic engagement through which these ideals are expressed, and have promoted strong communities of like-minded people. Even many non-theists recognize this, though it is often framed in negative terms (e.g., control, manipulation, etc.) or is argued as having a basis in obsolete or barbaric notions of the past. However, it's notable that it doesn't matter that shared ideals needn't be based on something real or tangible. They quite easily coalesce around abstract symbols that represent something imagined to be universal or eternal. Thus, even a symbol - such as a flag, a cross, or even a principle - may help people develop clearly defined boundaries between who is an insider and who is an outsider, both of which are important in forming a collective identity.

Gradually, formerly strong religious boundaries in America have softened, becoming more inclusive and pluralistic in character. Ideas concerning tolerance and acceptance which are a natural result of Enlightenment rationalism, combined with historical events and a shared sense of civic purpose in general, have since helped define a unique American identity. This American civic religion (to give it a name) is most tolerant of those who are perceived as having some foundation in a concept of eternal or universal truth which, as has already been mentioned, provides a framework for civic engagement. Thus, today most Americans consider some sort of religious grounding to be a necessary prerequisite for good citizenship. Though religious boundaries remain, it seems that it's more important that a person have some religion rather than none at all. It may be, as one astute commentator noted in reference to the previous article, an issue of tribalism.

What does this have to do with non-theism as an intellectual position in relation to theism? Very little, apparently.

Again according the study above, for most Americans the non-theist symbolically represents a broad category of persons not bound by the shared ideals already discussed. That is, lacking a concept of the greater good or intentionally working against it. The in-depth interviews that were part of the study also reveal that this symbolic non-theist can be placed at either end of the social hierarchy. Some associate it with illegality or criminality from a lower rung on the social ladder. Others associate it with rampant materialism or cultural elitism from above. Though seemingly contradictory, both are equally regarded as expressions of antisocial conduct or self-interest in which individual gratification supersedes that of the collective.

Many non-theists would be quick to object, pointing out that our jails are filled with those claiming some religious affiliation. Many would also point out that non-believers do, in fact, frequently work for the greater good of society, either through military service or engaging in various forms of philanthropy at the local or national level. Most non-theists, at one time or another, have also argued that morality, values, meaning, and purpose needn't be based on any superstitious beliefs held by our Bronze Age ancestors. These facts notwithstanding, the common perception of non-believers as misanthropic malcontents persists.

At this point it's worth noting that perceptions usually manifest as attitudes. In turn, attitudes are expressed through social interactions and politics. As perceptions change, so do attitudes, thereby influencing social acceptance and policy. Thus, perceptions are what I believe lie at the heart of cultural resistance to non-theism. If we desire change, our efforts may achieve their best effect by focusing on working toward changing erroneous perceptions.

Sadly, some of us unwittingly reinforce erroneous perceptions. While I do not mean to suggest that the onus is on the non-theist to placate those having these perceptions, how well-received we are partly depends on both our conduct and how we express ourselves. As one example, wearing a t-shirt with "Religion: The easy way out of thinking" emblazoned on the front is, though humorous to us, likely to only provoke defensiveness in a theist. This doesn't make it wrong, or the person wearing it intolerant or unfeeling, but it does set up a barrier to effective communication. Another example is the use of direct or indirect ad hominem in discussions with theists. While passions often run high, and theists do frequently impugn the character of non-believers during such discussions, to my mind it's counterproductive to resort to name calling. As someone who likes to think of himself as a rational individual, I believe it's possible to be firm but fair, simultaneously avoiding personal attacks while pointing them out and chastising those who use them from the other side of the invisible fence.

I do admit to being human, however, and have occasionally enjoyed the temporary (and illusory, I might add) satisfaction a lack of restraint in that area can bring. However, the result is almost always a complete shut down in meaningful communication.

Returning to the issue, sometimes it's our conduct that does the job for us. Abstaining from or refusing to participate in the political process or community involvement, even in innocence, can inadvertently and adversely affect how others perceive us if they also know (or think they know) something of our beliefs. People are often willing to be forgiving of personal beliefs if those who hold them are clearly working toward a goal that can be associated with solid, shared principles. This is not to say that non-theists should run out and join the nearest charitable organization (though that couldn't hurt), but we better serve both ourselves and the communities we live in if we have meaningful interaction with those around us, even when it's confrontational. Illustrative is the Smalkowski case mentioned in the previous article.

The Smalkowski family, by taking the stand they did, were able to exemplify the sort of behavior that many in their community (and indeed elsewhere) undoubtedly aspire to; that of calmly facing enormous odds to stand by one's family and one's convictions, winning out in the end against bigotry. In other words, they engaged the community in a meaningful way that can easily be associated with solid, shared principles of fairness and justice. It would not come as a surprise if at least some members of their community have had their perceptions of atheists significantly altered in favor of tolerance. Even a shift into neutrality would have to be an improvement based on the description of the prevailing attitudes that existed at the start of the debacle. It's probably too much to expect that any fundamental beliefs about God or the Smalkowski's place in the universe have changed, but it may still be a step in a positive direction.

It might have been decidedly different had the Smalkowski family avoided interaction with their community. Though they may have averted conflict, the Smalkowski's would have had to sacrifice their convictions as well as willingly accepted isolation. Had members of the Smalkowski family publicly belittled their neighbors by calling them stupid for their beliefs or otherwise positioned themselves as intellectually superior, it might have been even worse for them.

One of the reasons I think non-theists have had trouble making inroads is that we have never constituted a meaningful subculture. Many of us have contented ourselves with playing along while harboring a streak of individuality, non-conformist ideals, and lacking a shared sense of purpose. While it's possible to live a perfectly happy life leaving well enough alone in public, if we expect to be counted as equals we have to stand up and get involved in our own destinies and that of our communities. We've always been very good at finding fault with religion, but haven't always been quite as good at promoting rationalism. Believe it or not, there is a difference.

At, a couple articles were recently posted (see here and here) that discussed "atheistic evangelism." Both seemed to express a sense of hopelessness for the future. One asked if such a thing could succeed, while the other suggests this is the wrong approach. Personally, I think it's a mistake to call it evangelism in the first place. Evangelism is a purely religious term that refers to preaching the "Good News." Unlike evangelism, speaking out in favor of reason is not about preaching non-theism to misguided theists, or about bashing religion. I do not consider it evangelistic to promote critical thinking, science, medicine, or good education. Nor do I think it evangelistic to fight intolerance, injustice, bigotry, and irrationalism. Neither is standing for what you believe. As for whether reason can triumph, I submit that it can. America - indeed, the West in general - has been a reasonably successful (if imperfect) experiment in applying Enlightenment rationalism toward entire societies and methods of governance. What is needed is time. Time and an ongoing promotion of reason simply, plainly, and without equivocation, respecting that theism is not the result of an absence of intelligence, but an intellectual position one takes.

By now it should be apparent that to change perceptions requires tact, timing, patience, courage, willingness toward social engagement, and a degree of intrepidity. Fortunately, many non-theists have these in spades, and recognize the necessity of engaging our theist brothers and sisters as motivated, moral, value-driven, and rational human beings without a belief in gods. Some form organizations that support non-theists or promote science, reason, or secular worldviews. The National Center for Science Education is one such organization. The Secular Coalition for America is another. Others include Atheist Alliance International, American Atheists, the Council for Secular Humanism, the Rational Response Squad, the Atheist Volunteers, and of course the Brights Network along with many, many other organizations large and small across the country and around the world. Still other non-believers write books and articles, or organize local Meetup groups here and abroad.

Clearly, many non-theists are already actively engaging their communities and the world in positive ways or have been for some time. Non-believers can be a powerful constituency when they so choose. Though I have some ideas as to what and how more non-believers can engage society, I put the question to you first:

What, if anything, do you think non-theists and other secularly-oriented people can do (or continue to do) to promote rationalism while promoting themselves as valuable individuals and good citizens, worthy of equal standing?

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Can a god exist?

By Bob P

For a god to exist, He (She, it?) must possess intelligence. I believe the faithful would agree. Let's take a look... Again, as usual, Occams Razor is the standard.

Intelligence, as we know it, exists in (most) humans, and perhaps in some animals. Intelligence here will be defined generally as awareness, observation, understanding, acceptance/reconsidering, and a memory.

There are additionally four basic conditions for intelligence to exist as we know it. Anything beyond these conditions can only be in the imagination of someone desiring it.

1: Location: Intelligence has only been observed on the earth. At no time or place has any intelligence been observed, elsewhere. Intelligent life may and probably does exist elsewhere in the universe, but we have yet to observe it.

2: Matter: Intelligence requires matter. There has never been any intelligence observed except in matter. There is no observation of intelligence in a vacuum.

3: Life: Intelligence requires life. There is no documented evidence that supports intelligence without life. (No, your computer doesn't count)

4: Communication: Intelligence must possess communication to relate this intelligence. Rumors to the contrary are undocumented.

If the imagined God of the universe lacks matter, life, location and communication, then intelligence becomes a moot point. No claim to the contrary has ever been observed or documented by any credible observer.


God is the result of man's fertile imagination and need for control. Creating a deity is useful to this end. Does this 'prove' that god does not exist? No, it does not, it's illogical to 'disprove' anything especially anything as vaguely defined as god. There is no good consensuses on what god is anyway. Having a deeply devout belief in something this vague can only be the result of having been brainwashed as children.

Why do I care, anyway? Because it's 'payback' time for the religion that was stuffed into me as a helpless child. Perhaps I can 'save' others from this most ridiculous form of mind control misrepresented as something desirable. Religion is a form of child abuse in that it prevents or at least cripples the ability of children to ask intelligent questions. Religious intolerance is not only child abuse, it's abuse at any age.

The modern world should divorce itself from all forms of superstition, especially religion. I'm not sure that can ever happen, given how superstitious mankind is, but imagine a world of humanitarians who do not require a reward or a punishment to be humanitarians. It would be a time when atheism would enjoy the rightful and honorable position it so richly deserves.

Bob P Kansas City

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A Lack of Basic Understanding

By Micah Cowan

I have recently subscribed to Answers magazine, produced by Answers In Genesis, famous for their recent opening of the Creation Museum.

I received my first issue a couple months ago. The chief reason I subscribed was that I wanted to keep abreast of anti-evolutionary arguments, and Creationist reactions to recent scientific discoveries as they occurred. The issue I first received was almost entirely dedicated to the stories of the global flood and Noah’s Ark.

I was rather disappointed to discover that there was actually rather little in the magazine for me to actually evaluate, as most of the writing offered no references to back up their claims and assertions; thus, there was nothing for me to reason about—only rhetoric. I have just received the next issue, which I have not yet opened; I’m hoping there will be more interesting arguments in that one, and hopefully some references to back up a few of the claims.

However, I was struck by this very brief snippet of an article (it was, IIRC, less than half of a page in length). I think it illustrates rather well the extreme lack of understanding of basic principles of evolutionary theory or mechanics, or even terminology:

The textbook authors recognize that the resistance is already present in the bacterial population (Fig. 15.5) and then claim that selection for resistant bacteria in a population is direct evidence for evolution. Selecting for something that is already present does not provide support for the information-gaining change required for evolution.

Of course, this text completely ignores the question, how did the variations between resistant and non-resistant bacteria arise in the first place? No biology textbook will claim that the selection itself is how an individual organism becomes stronger: selection only explains why the percentage of resistant bacteria will tend to get stronger. But, evolution does explain how the variation arose that allowed some of the population to become more resistant than the others.

Of course, I have to wonder about a group who struggles with the idea that a colony of bacteria can develop minute changes allowing some of them to become resistant to antibiotics, but clings to the concept that lions and house cats evolved from the same animal “kind” (which was represented by a population of two to seven on Noah’s ark), and dogs and foxes from another, in the last 4,000 years, while, of course, rejecting the idea that evolution could have caused any transition from one “kind” to another.

The article also claims that evolutionary biology textbooks say there is support for the claim “that molecules can change into completely different kinds of creatures.” So much for proof-reading.

It appears I may have been a tad optimistic in expecting to find some shred of reasoned argument in this periodical…

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Life and Religion

By Chad M

This is the time of change.

This is the time of wonder.

Religion does not bring change.

Religion destroys the sense of wonder.

Religion is not courageous. It is fearful and cringing.

Religion is not loving. It is tyrannical and abusive.

Religion is not the truth, the way and the light.

It is lies, misdirection and darkness.

A cross on the wall and a nail in the coffin.

Both are resounding and final.

Both are found at the end of life.

I choose Life and Wonder over Fear and Regret.

Religion calls the brave man a coward and the wise man foolish.

Religion acts with self loathing and hatred towards itself.

Religion denies the nature of the universe and kills all hope.

Religion is man dreaming of his God.

Religion is man creating his creator.

Religion is the man made controller of man.

God is Dead as myths must die

to make way for the dawn of reason

and the limitless sky of curiosity .

The blood of a human god does not spill easily and without cost.

The free gift of redemption from our true selves

requires only our Spirit and Mind and Body

locked in perpetual gratis slavery to the scapegoat of God.

God will see the fires of Hades rise in smoke forever

with the bodies of good men and bad cast down to perdition.

In this Law: Believe you in me and I'll enslave you to me

But out of Love will I cast you to the flames if you do not

Religion: Repressive Elitist Ludicrous Isolating Governing Insulting Oppresive Nihilistic

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Life and rRligion

By Chad M

This is the time of change.

This is the time of wonder.

Religion does not bring change.

Religion destroys the sense of wonder.

Religion is not courageous. It is fearful and cringing.

Religion is not loving. It is tyrannical and abusive.

Religion is not the truth, the way and the light.

It is lies, misdirection and darkness.

A cross on the wall and a nail in the coffin.

Both are resounding and final.

Both are found at the end of life.

I choose Life and Wonder over Fear and Regret.

Religion calls the brave man a coward and the wise man foolish.

Religion acts with self loathing and hatred towards itself.

Religion denies the nature of the universe and kills all hope.

Religion is man dreaming of his God.

Religion is man creating his creator.

Religion is the man made controller of man.

God is Dead as myths must die

to make way for the dawn of reason

and the limitless sky of curiosity .

The blood of a human god does not spill easily and without cost.

The free gift of redemption from our true selves

requires only our Spirit and Mind and Body

locked in perpetual gratis slavery to the scapegoat of God.

God will see the fires of Hades rise in smoke forever

with the bodies of good men and bad cast down to perdition.

In this Law: Believe you in me and I'll enslave you to me

But out of Love will I cast you to the flames if you do not

Religion: Repressive Elitist Ludicrous Isolating Governing Insulting Oppresive Nihilistic

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Deliver us from evil

If you haven't seen this film already, rent, borrow or buy this movie as soon as you can. This is an absolute MUST SEE -- WM

From Wikipedia:

Deliver Us from Evil (2006) is an Academy Award-nominated documentary film directed by Amy Berg which tells the true story of the pedophile Catholic priest Oliver O'Grady, who sexually abused potentially hundreds of children between the late 1970s and early 1990s. The film won the Best Documentary Award at the 2006 Los Angeles Film Festival. The title refers to a line in the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father."

The film chronicles O'Grady's years as a priest in Northern California, where he committed his crimes. After being convicted and serving seven years in prison, O'Grady was deported to Ireland, where Amy Berg interviewed him in 2005. O'Grady speaks candidly about his crimes. Additionally, the film presents trial documents, videotaped depositions, and interviews with activists, theologians, psychologists and lawyers which suggest that not only were Church officials aware of O'Grady's crimes, they actively took steps to conceal them.

The Irish Independent criticized Amy Berg for filming children in Ireland without their knowledge.

The film was very well received by critics, earning a rare 100% 'fresh' review from As of April 6, 2007, the film ranks 3rd on Rotten Tomatoes' list of the best reviewed movies of all time.

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Observations about Christianity

By Tuskin R

It could be simply stated that I have a brain, and a heart. Each of these organs are much more valuable than a soul, in my opinion.

I was raised in a strict pentecostal household for twenty years, terrified and spiritually repressed into believing that some "guy in the sky" was going to burn my six-year-old body to cinders if I didn't sacrifice my happiness for him.

My father told me once that he loved me, but that he loved GOD more. Good for him, I guess. I liked my imaginary friend a lot, too -- when I was three. That was the beginning of my fall from grace, I guess. Eventually, a series of irreconcilable paradoxes I'd found within the religion (both ethically and factually) helped me decide that Christianity was an utter lie built to control and destroy everything "human" that exists within the upright walking amazing animals. Here are some key things that may help you to turn away from Yahweh:

1. Christians tend to pick and choose what to believe from their unalterable text: for example, cross-dressing is obviously a sin (Deuteronomy), but eating pork isn't? There basically right beside each other!

MORAL: Christians make it up as they go along.

2. Lot is praised for trying to sacrifice his daughters to the sex crazed hordes of Sodom (who, to their credit, wouldn't accept them).

MORAL: God condones rape.

3. In Genesis, Satan actually tells the truth about the tree, while god says that Adam and Eve will drop dead if they eat the fruit that grows on it.

MORAL: God lies.

4. God tells Abraham to kill his son, Isaac, but then recants this in the nick of time. Did God lie again? I think so...

MORAL: God likes toying with people.

5. Jesus was actually sent for the "lost children of Israel (Jews)", not Gentiles. Remember the parable of the rich man and his son's wedding? Gentiles just happened to get lucky because Jews wouldn't accept Christ.

MORAL: You're not really worth saving.

6. If god loves everyone like a father loves his children, why would god burn them alive for eternity if they disobeyed him?

MORAL: God doesn't love you.

7. Why is there so much evidence which refutes creation? If God created the universe, why did he stuff our earth full of proof that he doesn't exist?

MORAL: God doesn't stand up to the effing facts.

8. If God knows everything, how can we possibly have free will?

MORAL: God wants us to be slaves to him.

9. This is the best one: Name any good thing that Christianity has done that even halfway compensates for the six thousand years (including the Old Testament) of torture, murder, discrimination, rape, destruction, infanticide, slavery, genocide, war and hatred it has created.

MORAL: Christianity is a worthless dung pile of fear mongering, idiotic, primitive and childish crap.

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You're bloody lucky to be alive

Sent in by MothandRust

Has the universe always been here in some form, or did something create it at some point?

Consider the Andromeda Galaxy - it looks a lot like our own, I'm told - not that I've ever stepped back far enough to check out the similarities - but there are many many more like it to show that our galaxy is just one collection of spinning matter in what is an immeasurable expanse of space and 'stuff'. The interesting thing about our Milky Way galaxy (named after the famous chocolate bar) is that it's not actually big... it seems big because we're so small, it's relative, it is not huge, it is not immense and it may or may not be infinite. The incredible amount of galaxies that make up what we can see of our universe may in fact be just one cloud amongst many universes .

These steller bodies are moving, colliding and collapsing all over the shop and there's evidence to suggest that the universe has been doing so for billions and billions of years, and perhaps forever. There's no need to mystify the idea of time, because before we were intelligent enough to acknowledge and measure the movement of heavenly bodies we were happy to hunt by day, sleep by night, and die when we got too old to pump blood through our brains. Eternity isn't a supernatural concept best left for gods to calculate... like the size of the universe, it's relative albeit conceptual. The universe simply was and is and always will be - no matter how many pigs fart methane into the atmosphere of our little blue green orb.

Douglas Adams joked that the universe is so big and so randomly chaotic that chances are somewhere somehow there are lifeforms growing that could be useful to any interstellar hitchhiker. One planet somewhere surely has shifting spanners growing from trees, and animals that could easily be used as mattresses. I think it's amazing that this planet was lucky to have a temporary run of life on it long enough for its inhabitants to actually design and use a shifting spanner themselves. When you consider the incredible numbers of planets spiraling and circling throughout this vast cosmos you must entertain the thought that for some bursts of time a planet would be in the rolling in the right place at the right time with the right conditions to allow moss to gather on it.

Now, if I were lucky enough to have been born into a planet that had the 'golden' measurements of being close enough to a sun, and protected by various larger planets around it, I'd feel very fortunate, and I do. This particular planet probably isn't the first to have encountered such idyllic conditions but you have to stand in awe of the probability factors involved when you happen to be on it. Of course, it seems like someone created it only because you aren't one of the impossible inhabitants that couldn't have possibly lived on the multi-billion other planets that can't sustain life.

You're bloody lucky to be alive and I seriously don't blame anyone for inventing a god to praise to concerning the delights of simple existence. Every culture we know of usually does this very thing. It's perfectly natural and normal to sing to the sky in appreciation, because most of the people we share the planet with don't seem to really appreciate existence enough to really marvel at it with the wide-eyed wonder it deserves.

Many people I've spoken to recently say that there must be a god, because the scenery here is bloody tremendous and a lot of female boobs look really really good. But this planet actually looks like crap compared to watching the Wallom beasts swimming through the molten mountains of Somtranus V in the Andromeda galaxy (pause). We have no basis of comparison and of course every type of vegetation filled crevasse looks quite interesting to us. The rock and continents have been shifting and eroding for billions of years to make many varied and interesting formations. It's a weather beaten planet that has evolved wildlife and vegetation over an unbelievable amount of time. It's when we try to fit it into the mythical six days and six thousand years of bible time that everything looks like it's science fiction.

And boobs look wondrous because if our programming didn't allow them to be then we would have died off ages ago. Of course boobs don't look appealing to all mankind, but that's ok... there's enough of us who do to keep the population rolling along until we collide with another planet and simply cease to be. Somewhere, sometime, another species will come into being that appreciates the landscape around them and may even have mammary glands that the other gender finds appealing.

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If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed

By George D

I sat yesterday in traffic in front of the Third Baptist Church waiting for the interminably omniscient red light to grant mercy by letting me free from yet another delay. I was running way behind schedule. Seemed like every "Sunday driver" was out in force, conspiring with slow moving construction vehicles and endless red lights to make my day typical of one in hell -- if such a place exists. The sign read, "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." I couldn't figure out if the church secretary, who no doubt posted the sign, was thinking of the red traffic light, encouraging motorists to pray for a light change and experience first hand the power of freedom through prayer, or if the words, taken from the lips of Jesus allegedly 2,000 years ago, were to be applied only to more esoteric matters, like taking that one-way drive through Hades and its countless red lights. I was hoping it was the former, not the latter.

As a former fundamentalist, I once thought the words were supposed to be applied to my life on an everyday basis. I was taught that if Jesus set me free, I would be free from personal hang-ups, free from psychological anomalies, free from life-dominating sins, free from prejudice, free from low self-esteem and free from debt. That I would be free from God's judgment, free from my sin nature, free to love my fellow man and free to become anything, (in Christ, mind you), I wanted to be. Coupled with this verse was also parroted the fact that I “would know the truth and the truth will make me free." Neither of these verses, in my thirty five years as a Christian, ever turned out to be an actual experience in my life. In fact, as I looked at the lives of my fellow believers it was not true for them, either. I saw personal hang-ups by the truck load: in fact, I began to realize people are drawn to the faith because of their hang-ups, not in spite of them. "Church should be a hospital for the soul-sick and weary," pastors often proclaimed. Boy was it ever. I saw psychological problems of every variety, largely unsolved as the sufferer was waiting on God for the miracle of "being set free."

I knew a grown man who wept like a third grade girl for weeks because a teenage boy he had "nurtured" through the years was going off to the Marines instead of Bible School. The man's wife could only look on in helpless puzzlement. I saw prejudice of every stripe and variety: especially against those who didn't quite believe the same doctrines, or prayed to a statue of a woman with her heart hanging on her chest instead of in it. And I met people who couldn't handle money, so steeped in debt they would never see daylight, praying for a financial miracle while faithfully dropping their tithe in the offering plate as a "seed" for God to work with. (As if he needed any seeds...didn’t he once say all the seed-bearing fruit was given to man, not to give back to God, but to eat?)

Most important, though, I never found that all-elusive freedom so often promised by Jesus and his followers in my own experience... until I left the faith. Then I found freedom from an oppressive code of conduct, from an all-frowning God, from a nit-picking, backstabbing, critical people and from my own condemning conscience. My advice is this: don't believe every church sign you read. Especially if they're planted at red lights.

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Atheist finds god! (But it's not what you think)

By Bob P

After having abandoned God for more than 55 years, I finally decided to take a new look, since God's followers are so adamantly convinced there is a god. Here are the results of my recent investigation:

1: Yes, there is one God, but it's been misrepresented, They should have said it's ONE God per person, not just one god for everybody. (more later)

2: God in the sky? No! not at all, again we have been mislead. There is no such thing as 'up' in the universe. God is as unique as every person who claims to have one. Every culture throughout history has created a different god

3: Where does the name 'GOD' come from? Who is God? Good question, G.O.D. is merely an acronym meaning 'Gremlin Of Detention' .....You ask, what does that mean? It means that if you allow a god (any god) to detain your mind, you are a prisoner of a belief system! Why would a rational person shut down his (her) mind from all the possible answers for a simplistic monotheistic mythology? How could there be a Christian god that condones the stoning of bad children and women, condones slavery and murders everyone who manages to irritate his schizophrenic personality? Christianity is a verbal, not a literary religion. When asked if they have ever read the bible most claim to have read some of it, but when confronted with some of the bloody verses, many will deny it was from the bible or will merely give a blank stare. It's not surprising since reading it would promote atheism better than anything I could say.

4: So where is GOD? Good question, God is simply in the mind of every believer, there is no evidence to the contrary. No two gods are alike since he's a product of the individual mind. The many gods of the world are as different as fingerprints. There is absolutely NO evidence whatsoever that a central controlling puppeteer is pulling the strings of human behavior.

5: So is God good or bad? The answer is both, some God believers are responsible for great deeds and actions, while others are quite the opposite. The same is true for atheists. Neither religion nor atheism hold the key to morality. Man alone is his own keeper.

6: Is there any advantage to being a Christian? Yes, but it's here on earth, not in the hereafter. When looking for a job, it's always best to (claim to) be a Christian.

7: Is there any advantage to being an atheist? The only advantage I know is the satisfaction of being entirely honest with one's self, and one's dignity. Expect little else......Culture protects the common religion. (It's not nice to discuss religion and politics in company is a self serving protection scheme) Religionists have been told they are right for so long there is no argument that could ever dissuade their beliefs. Once a person believes that faith is stronger than logic, he is a victim of the Gremlin Of Detention.

Bob P, Kansas City

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Conversation between an atheist and a theist

By Bob P

This is to illustrate a typical discussion with a fundamentalist. Any similarity to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. For obvious reasons, I have omitted the usual shouting, cursing and insulting that frequently results.

You: You're an atheist, is that right?

Me: Yes I am. I have been an atheist since 1951, I was 17 at that time.

You: Why don't you believe in God, everyone else does?

Me: I don't believe in your god or anyone else's god because all the gods are the creation of man's fertile imagination. Everyone does not believe as you do, there are an estimated 13-14% atheists in the US population, and much higher in other advanced countries. Additionally, there are many more gods than just the Christian god. Only 1/3 of the world is considered a 'Christian' nation and obviously not all of them are Christians. Additionally, there is no evidence that any god exists or have ever existed. For an advanced country, the USA has a disproportionately high percentage of fundamentalists.

You: I don't understand why anyone would want to be an atheist. Why do you want to be one?

Me: Everyone is an atheist to the other guy's god. If you don't believe in Amun-Ra, the sun god, then you too are an atheist. There is no term for anyone who doesn't believe in unicorns (A-corns?) but we atheists are labeled similarly to a demon or devil to fit the perceived image that religion creates. Every religion needs something to praise and something to demonize. Stephen Roberts says it all so eloquently*

You: You didn't answer my question, why do you WANT to be an atheist?

Me: I don't 'want' to be anything except honest. If a god can be proven to exist, I'll readily change my position, I'm not closed minded, however I do reject anything which can not be verified, falsified or replicated. I also reject anything that's termed 'magic' or miraculous, as that would require violating physical laws, something that has never been documented. True, atheism is a somewhat negative term meaning A=against Theism, but then I consider theism to be a negative. (Two negatives make a positive.)

You: Can you prove that God doesn't exist?

Me: I was waiting for this. No, it's illogical to prove that anything doesn't exist, I can't prove that unicorns don't exist, but I have no reason to believe they do. The burden of proof always lies with the claimant, not the skeptic. It's YOUR god so the burden of proof is in yours, not mine. If I professed that unicorns existed, you'd insist that I produce one or shut up, right?
But here's a thought I'll bet you never considered.....IF there were a REAL GOD who was concerned about humans, why are there so many different religions? Wouldn't a REAL god unify the world into a cohesive common religion? Perhaps if there were a REAL GOD, why would there be any need for religion, at all? Religions exist to tell you about the god they wished existed. A REAL GOD could tell you himself, obviating the need for religion. The fact that over 2500 gods have been identified is clear evidence that man makes the gods, not the other way around. By the way, who was the last man that God saw fit to speak to? Was it Noah or Moses?

You: Well, then what about love, can you prove that love doesn't exist?

Me: Ah, that old argument, eh? Well love is an emotion, hardly a reasonable comparison to the existence of a deity. I don't have to prove love, hate, fear, elation or any other emotion.

You: I get comfort from believing in God, He leadeth me down the paths I find so comforting. I know I'm going to meet him, one day. What do atheists believe in?

Me: I don't consider self delusion comforting at all, but I also know that's not a good answer for a 'believer'. I guess the desire to know reality trumps the comfort of 'faith' induced belief. I don't feel a need to be lead anymore. Religion is an addiction, if it provides comfort and satisfaction. I could say the same thing for alcohol and drugs, too. I'm amused by the different levels of 'believers', most Christians (luckily) just give religion lip service, but the 'true believers' are the fanatics like David Koresh, Jim Jones and Tim McVay who commit atrocities . Just what level of 'belief' is the 'correct' one? I observe that small doses are not only best, but are the most common.

You: I believe just what the bible says.......

Me: The bible is a hodge podge of poetry, nonsense, some good and it's a blood bath of murder and slaughter. I'm sure you're 'bible knowledge' is what you've been told, verbally. I suspect that you too are a 'cafeteria' Christian that chooses the parts you like while ignoring the murderous and bloody parts. It's obvious that few Christians, including you, have ever read their beloved Bible. Who wrote the bible? We have no evidence that it has any credibility at all. Nothing was written about Jesus until some 70-90 years after his alleged death. That sounds like an old wives tale.

You: Well, the bible was written by man but it was inspired by God, naturally some mistakes are to be expected.

Me: The irrefutable 'word of god' has flaws, you admit? I submit that if it contains even one flaw, it should all be subject to questioning.

You: OK, OK, so it has a few flaws, so what? I think it's a good thing for the morality it provides. Without religion we would have no 'moral compass." Everyone would run around murdering, raping and stealing, without religion.

Me: Not that OLD argument again!.......You believe that because the 'preechurs' have told you that. There is no basis to believe that believers are more moral than non believers. If one is moral simply because he expects a reward or the escape of punishment, I submit is not morality but a form of mental bondage. Is not an atheist who's moral without expecting a reward not more ethical than someone wanting a selfish reward or the escape of punishment?

You: I hear you, but I can't take a chance on going to hell, what if you're wrong? I'll play it safe and stay a believer.

Me: I somehow expected this answer so I'll answer with this thought. What you've posed is know as Pascal's wager. It states that if you believe and there is a God, you'll go to heaven but if there's no god then nothing was lost. If an atheist doesn't believe and there is a god, then he's doomed to hell, so it's a 'covered' bet. The problem is, this is based on the notion that merely saying you 'believe' will suffice one to glory. I'll not degrade my honesty or integrity by falling for such a shallow bet that has no more evidence than this.

You: I never heard all your arguments before, where do you come up with this stuff? I think you're going to go to hell.......

Me: If I do, at least, I'll be in the company of the world's greatest scientists, philosophers and thinkers. Who wants to be in a place that has no dogs, cats or birds, anyway?*


Me: Oh well.....I tried.

Bob P, Kansas City

* Some Christians maintain that only humans go to heaven, others claim that heaven furnishes it's own dogs, cats and birds. Other Christians claim the new testament replaces the old testament. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

*"I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
~ Historian Stephen Henry Roberts 1901-71

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By dano

Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, got the last laugh. I saw her last night on the Larry King show and it was like staring death in the eye.

She has lung cancer that has spread fro her colon and weighs 65 pounds, but there she was, scary eye makeup and all, looking like a skeleton from one of those horror movies, with her husband, at her own request for her interview with Larry King.

Although she had difficulty talking, she was alert and cognizant of every thing Larry king asked her.

Tammy, although obviously under the influence of lots of morphine, for what she described as constant pain, sat there with a twisted smile and was generally upbeat in her demeanor.

After answering all of the generic questions from Larry. He asked her whether she was afraid to die, and she answered predictably, no. She has put herself in gods hands, and discussed her obvious impending death, unemotionally and with good humor.

Who would have believed that Tammy Faye would be sitting there on network TV, on what must be one of her last days on earth, demonstrating to the world, how Christianity works.

She was telling the world how she was absolutely sure that she was going straight to heaven.

I had a brush with death recently, and God or heaven never crossed my mind, but I must admit that to watch that goofy little woman, who had requested the interview, was disturbing, because she must have solidified the religious beliefs of at least a couple of million people, with her absolute assurance that she knew she was in gods hands, and she was eager to meet Billy Grahams wife in heaven, and a lot more of the great televangelists who have gone before her, to their great reward.

I consider myself to be one of the most skeptical people on earth, and hate the way the religious right is attempting to take us back to the dark ages, but I guarantee you, that no Agnostic or Atheist on earth would have the audacity, to even insinuate to that poor little woman that she was delusional about her beliefs.

People have been making fun of Tammy Faye for years, but in my opinion she got the last laugh.

Dan, Agnostic

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