defence of atheism
There is only one thing that excites the
religious person more than Satanism, and that is an Atheist. There is a strong collusion
drawn in the mind of the theist between the two, and they are almost equally condemned.
Some time ago I got a twenty minute spot on one of the talk radio stations and I put
briefly the case for Atheism. The response ranged from the hysterical to the `New
Born who felt pity for me. There was also the odd kindred spirit who thought as I
did, but it certainly opened a can of worms.
I lost my Faith many years ago,
having originally been brought up as a staunch Church of England Christian, going through
the ramifications of the choir and altar boy, and taking a fairly intensive course in
Religious Knowledge, in which I graduated with distinctions. I have also studied
comparative religion and philosophy at university level, and have written a short thesis
on psychology for one of my degrees. I am stating the above to show that I am not a novice
or an illiterate in this field, and that I probably know my subject as well as any theist.
Losing ones faith is not something that happens
lightly. It is a shock to suddenly wake up and realise that there is no God. It is
shattering. All beliefs and hopes lie in ashes and it is as severe a blow as losing a
close relative. No soul, no spirit, no life hereafter. Nothing beyond the grave. All the
comfort disappears. The realisation that the candle goes out once and finally. For the
first weeks I felt overcome with depression before I managed to pull myself out of the
rut. To me this was not a passing phase. It was final. I knew absolutely that I would
never regain my faith again. It was not a temporary lapse. I knew with a certainty that
there was no God and the edifice that surrounded His existence was a myth.
The believer has Faith, which protects him from
the necessity of demanding proof of the existence of a Deity. Where they could
see evidence of God, I saw indoctrination. Where they saw a Plan, I saw self
delusion. It was as though the `scales had fallen from my eyes, to quote the Bible.
What caused this awakening, as it were? There
is no single factor that I can lay my mind to. A questioning of conventional ideas brought
on by a study of philosophy, and the realisation that all religions are bound by
geographic areas. Christians are born in Christian countries, Buddhists in Buddhist
countries etc. Why? The answer is because they are TAUGHT to be Christians, or Buddhists,
or Hindus, or Taoists. It is not a natural thing. Yet all these religions claim to be the
right one and their exponents can be extreme unto death in their beliefs and proselyting.
Religious wars are many and no amount of legislation will breed tolerance.
There is a Jesuit doctrine that says,
Give us a child for the first seven years of his life and we will give you a
Catholic for ever. This, to mind, is pure indoctrination, and is the explanation of
the above query. Children, during their formative years are induced into accepting
religious beliefs, and the ideas which they receive at this period are almost always
permanent. Not all this is as a result of direct teaching. The environment and the
accepted standards of the society that they enter, together with the social mores they are
exposed to, all shape the child and these are the most powerful influences that he will be
exposed to during his entire life. In the human dotage and during senility, these earliest
memories are the ones which once more emerge to the fore with the second
childhood, proving the lasting strength of these early influences. The local society
God is introduced and implanted during these formative years.
But why have a God in the first place? There is
one common reason throughout. It overcomes the problem of Death. Man, being an intelligent
creature, sees and comprehends death. And he fears it. What more comforting thought than
that he will survive it? Despite the demise of the body, somehow the spirit or
soul will live on; generally in perpetuity, rewarded if good, tortured for
ever if bad. It is certainly a weapon used by the Church. In Christian religions it is
amazing how much graphic detail is known about Hell, yet how little about Heaven. Try
asking the question, What is Heaven like? and assess the vagaries.
From my view, God was created to cater for this
need in humanity, and over the millennia, has been vested in innumerable beliefs,
superstitions and rituals, all designed to get the faithful into a sufficient state of
grace to be allowed into the perpetual life cycle. It is also a damned good business on
the part of the cognoscenti, priests and charlatans who prey off the gullible, and sell
everlasting life in exchange for money and power. Pope Julius II once stood in the Sistine
Chapel, and looking around him, exclaimed, Surely the myth of Christ has brought in
But back to basics. Atheism doesnt keep
one foot in the doorway like the Agnostics. It is more positive and more final. With the
harmonious structure of life now in ruins, it is necessary to reconstruct. With the demise
of all gods, so also goes the reason for morality. Conscience becomes part of the
indoctrination process. This too, varies with geography, and what is immoral to a
Christian, is not necessarily so to a Muslim. They have their own tenets. Conscience is a
mixture of deliberate indoctrination and acquired standards of the society in which we are
brought up. Every mother tells her child what is right and what is wrong. This is further
ensconced by school teachers, other adults, religious leaders and ones peers. Some
morality is socially based, other is purely religious. If there is no God, there is no
basis for the latter, but this is a persistent delusion and colours our entire existence,
both personally and officially.
When challenged by circumstance or fact, the
Church will exhort you to have faith and try to impress you with the doctrine
that God moves in mysterious ways. Governments follow suit Yours
is not to reason why
.etc In other words, dont ask inconvenient
questions. The very antithesis of Atheism that asks questions about everything. No wonder
they have been persecuted throughout the ages!
Being an Atheist forces one to re-evaluate
every single aspect of life and society and return to first principles. Why?
is the major question. Take any action, any tenet, any law, any political belief, any of
the things that society holds dear and ask the question, Why? In nearly all
cases it will be found that it is tradition and we do it, or believe in it or accept it
because we have never been taught to query the validity of whatever it is and is accepted
blindly. In a very large number of cases, this has been created by those with a vested
interest in the outcome and a desire to control. Occasionally there is a good social
reason why we behave in the way we do, but by-and-large, this is the exception. Why
shouldnt we covert our neighbours ass, or his wife, or his estate or anything
else where in modern society, envy and greed appears to be the norm, especially in the
current competitive commercial world? Why should we bow down to an authority we disapprove
of, or be taxed for services we do not receive or want? Most of the moral and social
taboos have their origins in religious, political or social fictions.
There is a belief propagated that the Law is
above the Man, because initially God gave man his laws in the early chapters of the Bible
and in the Ten Commandments, and therefore this has been extrapolated to include the
fiction that all law has the tacit backing of God. This is complete and utter bullshit,
but is a useful doctrine for keeping the masses under control, making lawyers rich and
keeping governments in power. Why should we accept that the law is above the very men who
made it, when in reality, the law, in theory, at least, is merely a set of self-made rules
by which we agree to govern ourselves, but nevertheless are subject to change either when
politically convenient or when social standards change?
Certain rules are just plain common sense and
based on survival. Thou shalt not kill, for instance. This is a good
fundamental doctrine, because if it is adhered to, it will also prevent someone from
killing you. Now take the actual scenario. Fundamentalists in religious practices ignore
this and the rule is immediately overridden by any politician seeking power or a material
advantage for himself or for the nation, and when it is broken by a government there is
the implication that God approves of these actions. Hence whole nations can go to war, and
priests on both sides will claim that God is with them and bless the combatants, the bombs
and various weapons of destruction.
Again, if killing is outlawed by God, why are
there so many weapons in the world? It remains the largest commercial enterprise on earth,
outweighing energy and food! A gun has only one purpose, and that is to kill. If
governments truly believed in Peace, as they say they do, and pray to God for guidance at
the opening sessions of parliament, then they should immediately get rid of every single
instrument of death they possess or are possessed by the citizens. What do you think the
chances of that are? How do they reconcile the different definitions, of murder, genocide,
justifiable wars and war-crimes if they all involve breaking the command of God? Is there
not an element of hypocrisy involved here?
This is this sort of problem that one is faced
with, being an atheist. An examination at the grass roots level of the entire principles
of life. Not why are we here, but how, and what are we going to do about it now that we
are? Gradually one begins to form ones own morality and code of ethics, and to my
mind, although less generally acceptable, it is far more sound than the current code of
the day, largely because it is a product of reason and not a blind acceptance of tradition
or propaganda. It is based on sensible principles of largely, do unto others,
but it does cut out many of those ritualistic things and opposes many of the accepted
regulations that authority demands we comply with.
One of the things that comes across strongly
when starting from first principles is the number of labels that people, especially
politicians, stick on things that are just the opposite of the reality or are blatantly
and deliberately untrue. By associating a label with an action or situation, they hope the
definition will adhere. It is the basis of propaganda. It is a convenient tool especially
when used against an opposition policy, and to then shout at the label as though it is the
matter itself. Try looking at Democracy. Supposed to be the opposite of tyranny, but in
the hands of politicians it is usually a label stuck on their own policies which will
allow them the gain the same power they desire which the opposition currently holds.
Different saddle on the same donkey! Democracy originally meant to mean rule by public
consent but is now a system whereby we ensconce our next dictator, sometimes after an
election along severely limited party lines and with pre-selected party candidates. A far
cry from the original meaning of the word, but nevertheless, still a powerful label. Think
also of Freedom. Where does it exist in any real sense? A century ago, Jules
Verne wrote a story called Round the World in Eighty Days where the hero did a
complete circuit of the world, including innumerous adventures in that amount of time. He
didnt pack a passport for this journey and managed to travel through an enormous
number of the countries of the world without let or hindrance. Try it today, with all our
United Nations etc. Think about it next time you stand in an immigration queue at one of
the airports. Try planning an overland trip from Australia to London and see the number of
countries where you simply cannot go anymore.
It is now generally accepted by most Christian
religions that a belief in the old legend of Adam and Eve is less likely that the theory
of Evolution as advanced by Darwin, yet the Church continues with the ritual of infant
baptism. This is supposed to wash away the Original Sin that is innate in man from the
time of the Fall, when Adam broke the laws of God. Strange that they no longer believe in
this Fall, but the ritual persists, and is still a cornerstone in the religious doctrine,
being the key to Heaven, without which, infants, should they die, will be consigned to an
eternal roasting in the fires of Hell! They are being punished for inherited sins that
they did not commit and by a forgiving God! Somewhere, some logic is lacking.
Free will? You will get arrested if you ever
try to use it nowadays!
Through this end of the telescope, life looks
different and it is amazing how quickly one starts to recognise the foibles of society.
However, as an individual in the midst of a mass, it is very difficult to survive without
having to make some concessions and from the angry-young-man beginnings where
everything is a challenge, one gradually matures into accepting that one has very little
power to change the world and eventually becomes to accept for the sake of comfort, some
conformance with the daily demands of society at large, however ill-advised or irrational
one may consider them. Most atheists still pay their taxes, but it does create a
generation of grumpy old men.
One thing that it has taught me, that if I do
not get as much out of life as I can while I am here, I wont get a second chance. I
intend taking a first class ticket through life, and those who want to inhibit themselves
and others for the sake of a hoped for reward in the next life, to them, I shall give a
special sort of sign and a wave in passing.
The disapproval of a Mother Grundy can
generally be taken as the measure of the success of this philosophy. I would like to
finish with a poem I once wrote.
- Whats it all about, this thing called
- The Arachne thread so tautly drawn
- By which we hang and ponder on our being.
- The twilight wish, this search beyond
- Our small horizons, questing other dawns.
- Caught briefly here between the pangs and
Pains that mark lifes ends, wondering
- And listening for that immortal whisper
- On which to pin our hopes forlorn.
- Is there some rekindling of this brief candle
- In spheres beyond our thin philosophies,
- In sunshine worlds free from the small
- Restrictions of these Earthly frames?
- Whats it all about?
- Whats it all about?
- Passage of time salves all our griefs
- And sights of Future in the Past
- Help ease us oer the passing sorrows.
- Belief in Faith pours oil upon our troubled
- Minds and smoothes the way from this life
- To the next, but Thomases draw small comfort
- From the Sage or Priest, and one Eternal
- Question mocks their brows.
- Is purpose there, or is it not?
- When Atropos, with scissors sharp,
- Cuts that thread and life departs,
- Where goes the soul, if soul there be
- And is it for Eternity?
- But still the question nags our minds,
- Whats it all about?
- Whats it all about?
- Should we live our life for now
- And take our chance on things unknown,
- Or curb desires for fear the loss
- Of latter-day rewards, exchanging all the gifts
- We have for vales of tears and Earthly strife,
- Or should we cast our caution to the winds
- And shout at Fate that we shall LIVE
- And hang the consequence of Sin. Life is mine,
- And briefly as I fly I shall extract the
- And in passing light the touch that will
- Illume the world before I go, and say to Death,
- I fear you not!
- Perhaps, just perhaps, that is
- What its all about.
- What its all about!