Tag Archives: Islam

My Quest and LSD

Neo slimed

 

I don’t remember it, of course, but I was baptized when just a baby. My parents were Baptists: or at least my father was – I think my mother (being Japanese and raised Buddhist) was just along for the ride. They weren’t very religious; attending church only on occasion. I always hated the sheer boredom of church services and was lucky I didn’t have to attend very often.

When I was in 5th grade, our family moved into an apartment across the alley from a church in Lawton, Oklahoma; to stay while my Dad served the Army in Viet Nam. The front of our apartment building faced the back of the church. I awoke every Sunday morning to the God-awful, off-pitch, singing of hymns. It was while living there that the powerful ideas of Christianity first grabbed hold of me. Not because of that church or its tone-deaf congregation but because of a group of older boys I happened to run across in the neighborhood. They were passionately discussing Jesus and salvation. The concepts involved were a thunderbolt to my young mind. It was my first intellectual awakening: powerful, exciting and moving.

The following Sunday, I decide to attend the sermon at the church next door. I dragged my younger brother (a year younger, in the 4th grade) along with me. The preacher was charismatic. He was much more interesting than the stuffy preachers I’d experienced before. He got everybody excited. The interaction between the preacher and the congregation had an energy of its own. As he neared the end of his sermon, he invited all sinners who wanted redemption to come forward.

That’s when I noticed the tears in my brother’s eyes. He got up. I grabbed his arm but he jerked it away and headed down the aisle to join the others gathering in front of the preacher. I was shocked. How come my younger brother was so moved when he had never shown the least interest in, or awareness of, God? And how come I was not moved despite having been so powerfully moved just a few days earlier with those older neighborhood boys?

And that’s how it was for me all the years afterward until finally turning, slowly, to disbelief. I always wanted desperately to embrace faith: I just couldn’t make the leap! I believed up to the brink of faith but could never runneth over my cup.

In the years that followed, my interest in God and religion waxed and waned. Sometimes I would explore the Bible and, if I had friends who attended a local church, I might go to services with them. I could have remained in this spiritual limbo, indefinitely, were it not for LSD.

At the age of 17, I had already been smoking pot for over a year, when a friend offered me some ‘Orange Barrel’ acid (LSD). I took it and proceeded to receive my second intellectual thunderbolt.

‘Experience’ is the word to use to describe something we can’t describe. There is no way to convey the experience of tripping on acid. Entire worlds opened up before me in quick succession. I saw things in ways I had never imagined and had ideas that never would have otherwise occurred to me. It’s as if the barrier between my conscious and subconscious came crashing down and the two were allowed to intermingle until homogenous, making me super-aware of everything.

And I saw God. Listened to Him. Felt Him. Feared Him.

The experience was so intense, so real, my young, teen-aged, mind was powerless to deny it. That is, until I awoke the following day. Then I realized that I’d better not tell anybody I had seen God while tripping on acid. Obviously, I had seen no such thing . . . and I couldn’t wait to repeat the delusion: it was great!

That initial acid trip changed me permanently. I became obsessed with my quest for the truth. I knew that acid could never provide real answers but, at least, it opened my mind to the questions. Before that first acid trip, I always skipped classes to go smoke pot with the other pot-heads at school. I wasn’t very curious. I was just focused on fun and partying.

Afterwards, I wanted to understand myself and humanity. I read a lot about Greek mythology, and read many literary classics; especially those by Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. I wanted a deeper understanding of the human condition. I read the Bible cover to cover. I read about Buddhism and Islam. I read all of Ayn Rand’s books. I subscribed to Psychology Today. I began collecting short, insightful, quotes. Then science grabbed a hold of me, especially cosmology and physics. I may have been a poor, unskilled young man from a poor family but, by God, I was voraciously curious. I couldn’t afford to go to college but, fortunately, the library was free.

I gained confidence as I gained knowledge. Religion was the last thing on my mind. I was beginning to realize that, if I applied myself, I could learn whatever I wanted: do whatever I wanted. But I knew I was disadvantaged in the job market because of my lack of a college degree. I figured the thing to do was to plumb a new professional field in high demand so that employers would overlook my lack of a degree. In those days, computer programming was very much in demand. It was at this time when, finally, my parents lucked into a modest fortune. I borrowed money from them to go to I.T.T. Technical Institute, in Seattle, to get certified in computer programming. It was a half-year course and I was tops in my class. I was recruited, at the school, by Nordstrom (the high-end department store), before graduating and began employment with them upon receiving my computer programming certification.

After that, I never looked back. Whenever my profession became less ‘hot’, I studied and got certified in a new, high-demand, specialty. By staying reasonably close to the bleeding edge of computer technology, I was able to contract my services and make a much higher salary (though, without benefit plans) than I could as an employee. My wife held a regular job as an executive secretary, so her health insurance compensated for my lack of the same. And as we secured our family and home, my thoughts turned, once again, to God. After all, He had blessed me with many blessings: a great career, my wife and children, our home and all the modern amenities of suburban life.

But wait. Where was He when my family and I were poor? Were my parent’s blessings, and my own, the whim of God? Well, he may not have pulled strings for us but he did give us our talents. Right?

Not!

In the grand scheme of things, our talents were not exceptional. It was determination and hard work and, yes, a little luck, that improved our circumstances. But wait . . . isn’t it hubris to think that? To think we control our own fate is arrogance. Isn’t it? God is in control. Right?

I looked back on my life. I saw how God and the Bible always had a depressing effect on me. But life was engaging and rewarding whenever I focused on myself and my family. The correlation was undeniable: God was no good for me. But dare I trust only in myself?

Well, relying on myself had worked pretty well thus far. I couldn’t argue with success, could I?

Nonetheless, I couldn’t give up on God just yet. Instead, I blamed religion. I became anti-religious. I convinced myself that religions were an unnecessary and corrupting intermediary between God and me. I had the Bible as my guide, surely there was no higher authority than the word of God Himself!

I read the Bible again. This time, it seemed like a completely different book. I felt tempted to go buy another Bible in case the one I had was a mocked-up forgery. What’s up with this God guy? He’s got serious problems! The more I read, the more I wondered what those stories of incest, vengeance and scorched-earth battlefield atrocities were doing in a ‘holy’ book – and why I didn’t notice how perverse they were the first time I read them. Is this really God’s idea of right and wrong? Of morality? Surely these are the words of uncivilized, ancient, ignorant, men . . . not a timeless and perfect God!?!

For me, that was the last nail in God’s coffin. Throughout history, the Bible has created more atheists than any other book. It takes an intentional act of self-deception to ignore the immorality and impossible claims of a tribe of uncivilized, ancient, ignorant, men and pretend it’s some sort of glorious, immutable, truth. Faith is the suspension of disbelief. What, exactly, would require me to suspend disbelief? The obvious answer is: a lie.

If I trust myself and face facts, the biblical God becomes a joke. A very sad, sick, painful, joke. Religion is its predictable punchline. I just hope, in the end, humanity has the last laugh.

 


© Copyright 2013 AtheistExile.com
eMail: AtheistExile@AtheistExile.com


 

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Is That You, Miss Lebanon?

Over 4 years ago, a Yahoo! Answers member posted a question asking, “What are some modern day examples of religious discrimination?“. My reply nabbed the Best Answer honors. Here’s the text of my reply:

  • Terrorists insist on being Muslim.
  • The first President Bush declared atheists untrustworthy.
  • Seventh Day Adventists get doors slammed in their faces.
  • Pope Benedict XVI slams Islam.
  • Muslims clerics slam everybody and anybody who is NOT Muslim (by the way, “Islam” is “I slam” without a space).
  • Science keeps forcing religion to backpedal on doctrine.
  • Voters and courts keep rejecting Intelligent Design (and affirming evolution) in public schools.
  • After thousands of years, supernatural entities are STILL prevented from leaving evidence of their existence.

In an attempt to drum up visitors to my website (AtheistExile.com), I entered my site’s URL as a “source” for my answer.

Here’s the thing . . .

. . . Ever since then, somebody, has used that link to visit my website on a regular basis. This means that they first go to Yahoo! Answers, then revisit Miss Lebanon‘s question, then click on the link there to my website. A bookmark would be so much easier! I’ve always wondered who this person is and why he/she uses Yahoo! Answers to visit my website.

At first, I thought it must be Miss Lebanon who is visiting my website via Yahoo! Answers. But then I realized that she didn’t even choose a best answer (much less, mine). The best answer was chosen by “voters”.

So, maybe, the mystery person was one of the voters.

Well . . . I’m tired of wondering. I’d like to know who this person is. He/She is, after all, one of my most enduring followers. Over four years now! The next time you visit (whoever you are), the image featured in this post should be very familiar to you and grab your attention (I’m hoping).

Whoever you are, mystery person, I would appreciate it if, the next time you visit my site, you comment on this post or send me an email to identify yourself. I am REALLY curious to know who you are.

Either you share the interests I blog about or . . . you’re a Muslim keeping tabs on me 🙂

 

Where Ex-Atheists Come From

The blue pill is religion. The red pill is atheism. Cypher represents an ex-atheist.

Where Ex-Atheists Come From

Every once in a while, we read or hear about an atheist who has converted to Christianity or Islam or Judaism. I just can’t wrap my mind around what that process must entail. How do you move from atheism to religion: rationality to superstition? It just doesn’t make sense. However, it’s a bit easier to understand if the ex-atheist became a Buddhist, deist or pantheist: these belief systems aren’t really full-blown religions – they don’t have a personal God who meddles in human affairs or performs miracles or answers prayers.

Atheists have, ostensibly, reasoned their way free of superstition, religion and God(s). This implies an aptitude for the application of logic. Yet we sometimes run across atheists who see conspiracy theories everywhere they turn . . . or who soak up Islamic, vegan, or other extremist propaganda without critical analysis . . . or who get suckered into New Age bullshit, like pyramid power . . . or who are prone to anthropomorphizing . . . or who reason viscerally, by feelings, rather than logic. These kinds of things make me question if their atheism is well grounded in reason. If they reason so poorly with other issues, how well did they reason with God and religion?

Then it struck me . . . this is where those inexplicable ex-atheists come from. They never really grounded themselves in freethought. They may have wanted to . . . but simply failed. Fortunately, ex-atheists are a rare breed. I guess that’s testimony to the staying power of enlightenment. So now I have a plausible theory for what might actually be happening: some people identify with freethought but have never really freed their thoughts. Their atheism was never really solid in the first place. It’s not so much that they’re ex-atheists; rather, they’re failed atheists.

I know that nobody has actually ‘freed their thoughts’ entirely. We’re human, not Vulcan. So I suppose it must be a matter of degrees. Nonetheless, I think most atheists are reasonably grounded in logic and that there’s no chance in hell they’ll ever renounce logic in favor of superstition — not even for an 11th-hour, or death-bed, conversion.

Most ex-atheists who adopt a formal religion probably never really shook themselves loose from God’s grip. To them, God is a meme they can’t ignore.

 


© Copyright 2012 AtheistExile.com
eMail: AtheistExile@AtheistExile.com


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Leftist, Politically Correct, Apologists for Islam

(Originally posted at http://AtheistExile.com)

Mormon (LDS) missionaries, who come knocking at your door to proselytize for their church, all receive formal training to ensure they provide approved canned answers to questions and objections from prospective converts. This tactical training previously came from a book called ‘The Uniform System for Teaching the Gospel’. I once had a couple of doorknockers visit me to tell me all about the Mormon faith. Whenever I asked a tough question, they would refer to what they both called ‘the brown book’ for answers, which, I now presume, must be The Uniform System for Teaching the Gospel. In 2004, this book was replaced by ‘Preach My Gospel’, which shifts tactics to ‘teaching by the Spirit’ (designed to cater to ‘individual needs’ of potential converts). I’m not sure if the brown book is so named because it has a brown cover or because it’s contents are derived from the works of Scott Kent Brown (who edited the Encyclopedia of MormonismJournal of the Book of Mormon Studies and the Historical Atlas of Mormonism). I’ve never actually read the brown book . . . it’s not, after all, intended for popular consumption.

It seems that leftist, politically correct, apologists for Islam have developed their own version of the Mormon brown book. In forum and group discussions and debates all over the Internet and other media, you see the same tactics used; as if they’ve all been prepping from the same apologist brown book. I’ve never read this book either but it must be out there somewhere; secretly passed around from apologist to apologist.

Political correctitude, over the last few decades, has evolved to become a leftist, totalitarian, dogma. We all know the routine by now. Criticism of Islam is racist (even though Islam is not a race). Alarm at the consequences of Islamism is fear mongering. Pointing out Muhammad’s questionable morality is hate speech. Anger or frustration at Muslim rioting is intolerance. Support for the anti-burka law in France means you’re a misogynist. The mere mention of the abject failure of multiculturalism in Europe makes you an ultra-conservative wingnut. By impugning your character, apologists for Islam often walk away from an argument without ever rebutting a single point made.

But in order to succeed with these tactics, apologists must shift the target of your criticism away from ideologies and doctrines by, instead, emphasizing the adherents. Be wary of this ploy. Always return focus to the ideas – not the people. If you don’t, they will label you a bigoted hater (ad hominems are okay if they’re politically correct).

Apologists for Islam bend over backwards in an ostentatious display of accommodation and inclusion of Muslims. It’s very nice to accommodate and include people: even when they tend not to accommodate or include you in return. Accommodation and inclusion are among the finest of liberal ideals. Human rights, equal rights, anti-discrimination and all that. But Islamism is different. In order to explain the difference, you need to keep focus on Islamic ideology and doctrine, not on the adherents. Do we really want to accommodate and include Sharia and Jihad? Of course not! But neither do we want to single out Muslims in any way . . . including extending them special treatment.

Which brings us to the difference between pluralism and multiculturalism. America has traditionally been a ‘melting pot of nations’. Ours is a pluralistic society which encourages immigrants to blend in while still embracing their own cultures, if they choose. Nobody gets special treatment. In contrast, Europe, for many decades, has adopted the approach of multiculturalism; partly to accommodate the special demands of Muslim immigrants. This policy has led to Muslim enclaves in Europe’s cities – entire areas dominated by a culture and values foreign to their host countries. By extending them special treatment, Europe has not succeeded in integrating Muslims into their societies and is now waking up to the abject failure of their multicultural experiment. From restrictions on the height of mosque minarets to banning the burka: we are witnessing, in Europe, a backlash against a multiculturalism that has failed its main goals to include and accommodate.

European multiculturalism has failed because it doesn’t understand just how alien the Islamic worldview is to their own. European culture and worldview is rooted in (reformed) Christianity and Greek philosophy. Islamic culture and worldview is rooted in the Quran and Arab philosophy. Everything about Islam: it’s hadith, traditions, culture, Sharia law and Jihad is based on the unerring truth of the Quran. Logic takes a back seat to Allah’s will: if Allah willed it, it’s right: end of discussion. Islamic culture precludes questioning or challenging its sources and, thus, does not evolve – much less, reform itself.

I should, belatedly, distinguish Islamism from Islam. Islamism is not just the religion of Islam; it is also a political (Jihad) and legal (Sharia) ideology. I criticize the religion of Islam as a rabid dogma. And it is. But MOST adherents are like most of us — they just want to live their lives with as little drama as possible. I know this from the 6 months I lived in Kuwait.

But the Islamic fundamentalists are another matter entirely. They are the pawns of Islamism: manipulated by callous and calculating leaders who hate everything we stand for. Islam is a rabid dogma that provides Islamism with the fanatics and license for violence needed for Jihad.

Apologists for Islam want to deny this. They want to embrace those who hate us, in some sort of holier-than-thou vision of an uber-liberal utopia. They don’t understand that Islamists see this cumbayah vision as a weakness. Islamists laugh up their sleeves at these clueless apologists while thanking them for helping to undermine our values and way of life.


© Copyright 2012 AtheistExile.com
eMail: AtheistExile@AtheistExile.com

Islamism: Penetrating the Apologist’s Skull

If you had no prior indoctrination, reading the Quran for the first time would be eye-opening: not because of its spiritual depth (it has none) but, rather, because of it’s entrenched, self-reinforcing, fundamentalism. It represents the most totalitarian foundation of any religion I’ve ever looked into. To me, this is THE most notable thing about the Quran.

Many of us who have read the Quran are alarmed by it. It’s hard to see how any religion based on it can have moderate adherents . . . unless they are simply ignorant of what is in the Quran (in the same way so many Christians are ignorant of what’s in the Bible). If I were to beat a drum against one religion, it would be Islam. It’s a major mind-fuck. No question about it.

I don’t care what all those “religion of peace” liars claim; the Quran promotes an intolerant us-versus-them mindset at every turn. Don’t get me wrong . . . Islam’s adherents determine, individually, how they integrate their religion into their lives. Just as with Christians, Muslims practice their religion selectively: cherry-picking what they will and won’t adhere to. I claim only that, if understood and taken seriously, the Quran — on which Islam is based — promotes a totalitarian, xenophobic, worldview. However, I recognize that some adherents aren’t really practicing Muslims and that many just want to live their lives in peace, like most of us do.

But the more you adhere to the Quran, the more totalitarian, intolerant and xenophobic you must be. And, of course, this rabid dogma gives license to anybody who would abuse the Quran to justify their own agendas. From Jihad recruiters, to the fatwas of Islamic clerics, to Iran’s bad-faith nuclear negotiations: Islamism represents a value system diametrically opposed to Western values. Indeed, human rights, protection of minorities, and other democratic values are seen as weaknesses to Islamists. Liberal-minded apologists for Islam fail to grasp this central reality. Their commendable desire for open-mindedness, acceptance and inclusion plays right into the hands of Islamists. Unfortunately, they simply don’t think like we do. They were raised on different values and principles.

These facts are disconcerting when you consider the demographics of Islamic regions of the world. Although education levels are climbing in most of these regions, the illiteracy rate is still alarmingly high and tends to accompany both a high poverty rate and a high birth rate. This is fertile ground for Islamists to pursue their extremist agendas and recruit Jihadis.

We need to keep in mind that the source of Islam is Allah and that we only know him via the Quran. And in the Quran, Allah repeatedly makes it abundantly clear that if you shirk the battle for Jihad, you’re a scum-ball in his omniscient eyes.

This does not portend well for the West.

Let’s imagine that you’re an illiterate but Allah-fearing Muslim. Moderate Muslims tell you that Islam is a religion of peace. Fundamentalist Muslims tell you that Islam can only be at peace AFTER infidels are silenced (converted or killed). You don’t know who to believe.

So you learn to read. You find some (but not many) commendable, tolerant, suras in the Quran but you also read the unrelenting harangue exhorting believers to keep believing and vilifying unbelievers, misbelievers, disbelievers, nonbelievers and ex-believers. You read that you shouldn’t associate with, or give any credence whatsoever, to infidels. As Muhammad was fond of saying, “We bring you glad tidings of grievous woe.” Because of your prior indoctrination, you probably won’t realize that if you removed such harangues from the Quran, there wouldn’t be much left. You probably won’t recognize that xenophobia is woven into and throughout the Quran. But you will recognize that Allah really, really, wants infidels to go extinct and that Jihad is your moral and spiritual responsibility.

What do you do? What do you believe after reading the Quran for yourself? Prior indoctrination would surely play a large part in your response. Which is why the spread of extremism in Islam is so toxic. BECAUSE THE QURAN BACKS UP EXTREMISM. The Islamists, fundamentalists, militants, and even terrorists are actually practicing what the Quran preaches. We can’t really get rid of Islam, so we should counter Islamism by promoting progressive, moderate, Islam. And Islamic terrorism should be prosecuted as the murderous crime that it is . . . whether or not it pleases Allah.

The “religion of peace” mantra is a propaganda ploy that well-intentioned but clueless apologists mindlessly repeat. Islam is not peaceful or tolerant and won’t be as long as extremists control the Islamic agenda. But it could be reasonably peaceful and tolerant if Muslims decide to reform their religion and reject Islamism by ejecting Sharia and Jihad. If you value human rights and democratic values, nothing less will do.


© Copyright 2012 AtheistExile.com
eMail: AtheistExile@AtheistExile.com


God in the Constitution

I ran across this public domain essay by Robert Ingersoll (a 19th century atheist) and found that it’s still contemporaneous. I kept thinking of Islam as I read this, even though it’s really directed at Christians. There are some really good points covered: particularly the secular nature of our constitution and the the break it represents from the divine authority previously assumed by governments. Check it out . . .

“All governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

In this country it is admitted that the power to govern resides in the people themselves; that they are the only rightful source of authority. For many centuries before the formation of our government, before the promulgation of the Declaration of Independence, the people had but little voice in the affairs of nations. The source of authority was not in this world; kings were not crowned by their subjects, and the scepter was not held by the consent of the governed. The king sat on his throne by the will of God, and for that reason was not accountable to the people for the exercise of his power. He commanded, and the people obeyed. He was lord of their bodies, and his partner, the priest, was lord of their souls. The government of earth was patterned after the kingdom on high. God was a supreme autocrat in heaven, whose will was law, and the king was a supreme autocrat on earth whose will was law. The God in heaven had inferior beings to do his will, and the king on earth had certain favorites and officers to do his. These officers were accountable to him, and he was responsible to God.

The feudal system was supposed to be in accordance with the divine plan. The people were not governed by intelligence, but by threats and promises, by rewards and punishments. No effort was made to enlighten the common people; no one thought of educating a peasant — of developing the mind of a laborer. The people were created to support thrones and altars. Their destiny was to toil and obey — to work and want. They were to be satisfied with huts and hovels, with ignorance and rags, and their children must expect no more. In the presence of the king they fell upon their knees, and before the priest they groveled in the very dust. The poor peasant divided his earnings with the state, because he imagined it protected his body; he divided his crust with the church, believing that it protected his soul. He was the prey of throne and altar — one deformed his body, the other his mind — and these two vultures fed upon his toil. He was taught by the king to hate the people of other nations, and by the priest to despise the believers in all other religions. He was made the enemy of all people except his own. He had no sympathy with the peasants of other lands, enslaved and plundered like himself. He was kept in ignorance, because education is the enemy of superstition, and because education is the foe of that egotism often mistaken for patriotism.

The intelligent and good man holds in his affections the good and true of every land — the boundaries of countries are not the limitations of his sympathies. Caring nothing for race, or color, he loves those who speak other languages and worship other gods. Between him and those who suffer, there is no impassable gulf. He salutes the world, and extends the hand of friendship to the human race. He does not bow before a provincial and patriotic god — one who protects his tribe or nation, and abhors the rest of mankind.

Through all the ages of superstition, each nation has insisted that it was the peculiar care of the true God, and that it alone had the true religion — that the gods of other nations were false and fraudulent, and that other religions were wicked, ignorant and absurd. In this way the seeds of hatred had been sown, and in this way have been kindled the flames of war. Men have had no sympathy with those of a different complexion, with those who knelt at other altars and expressed their thoughts in other words — and even a difference in garments placed them beyond the sympathy of others. Every peculiarity was the food of prejudice and the excuse for hatred.

The boundaries of nations were at last crossed by commerce. People became somewhat acquainted, and they found that the virtues and vices were quite evenly distributed. At last, subjects became somewhat acquainted with kings — peasants had the pleasure of gazing at princes, and it was dimly perceived that the differences were mostly in rags and names.

In 1776 our fathers endeavored to retire the gods from politics. They declared that “all governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed”. This was a contradiction of the then political ideas of the world; it was, as many believed, an act of pure blasphemy — a renunciation of the deity. It was in fact a declaration of the independence of the earth. It was a notice to all churches and priests that thereafter mankind would govern and protect themselves. Politically it tore down every altar and denied the authority of every “sacred book,” and appealed from the providence of God to the providence of man.

Those who promulgated the declaration adopted a constitution for the great republic.

What was the office or purpose of that constitution?

Admitting that all power came from the people, it was necessary, first, that certain means be adopted for the purpose of ascertaining the will of the people, and second, it was proper and convenient to designate certain departments that should exercise certain powers of the government. There must be the legislative, the judicial and the executive departments. Those who make laws should not execute them. Those who execute laws should not have the power of absolutely determining their meaning or their constitutionality. For these reasons, among others, a constitution was adopted.

This constitution also contained a declaration of rights. It marked out the limitations of discretion, so that in the excitement of passion, men shall not go beyond the point designated in the calm moment of reason.

When man is unprejudiced, and his passions subject to reason, it is well he should define the limits of power, so that the waves driven by the storm of passion shall not overbear the shore.

A constitution is for the government of man in this world. It is the chain the people put upon their servants, as well as upon themselves. It defines the limit of power and the limit of obedience.

It follows, then, that nothing should be in a constitution that cannot be enforced by the power of the state — that is, by the army and navy. Behind every provision of the constitution should stand the force of the nation. Every sword, every bayonet, every cannon should be there.

Suppose, then, that we amend the constitution and acknowledge the existence and supremacy of God — what becomes of the supremacy of the people, and how is this amendment to be enforced? A constitution does not enforce itself. It must be carried out by appropriate legislation. Will it be a crime to deny the existence of this constitutional God? Can the offender be proceeded against in the criminal courts? Can his lips be closed by the power of the state? Would not this be the inauguration of religious persecution?

And if there is to be an acknowledgment of God in the constitution, the question naturally arises as to which God is to have this honor. Shall we select the God of the Catholics — he who has established an infallible church presided over by an infallible pope, and who is delighted with certain ceremonies and placated by prayers uttered in exceedingly common Latin? Is it the God of the Presbyterian with the Five Points of Calvinism, who is ingenious enough to harmonize necessity and responsibility, and who in some way justifies himself for damning most of his own children? Is it the God of the Puritan, the enemy of joy — of the Baptist, who is great enough to govern the universe, and small enough to allow the destiny of a soul to depend on whether the body it inhabited was immersed or sprinkled?

What God is it proposed to put in the constitution? Is it the God of the Old Testament, who was a believer in slavery and who justified polygamy? If slavery was right ‘ then, it is right now; and if Jehovah was right then, the Mormons are right now. Are we to have the God who issued a commandment against all art — who was the enemy of investigation and of free speech? Is it the God who commanded the husband to stone his wife to death because she differed with him on the subject of religion? Are we to have a God who will re-enact the Mosaic code and punish hundreds of offenses with death? What court, what tribunal of last resort, is to define this God, and who is to make known his will? In his presence, laws passed by men will be of no value. The decisions of courts will be as nothing. But who is to make known the will of this supreme God? Will there be a supreme tribunal composed of priests?

Of course all persons elected to office will either swear or affirm to support the constitution. Men who do not believe in this God, cannot so swear or affirm. Such men will not be allowed to hold any office of trust or honor. A God in the constitution will not interfere with the oaths or affirmations of hypocrites. Such a provision will only exclude honest and conscientious unbelievers. Intelligent people know that no one knows whether there is a God or not. The existence of such a being is merely a matter of opinion. Men who believe in the liberty of man, who are willing to die for the honor of their country, will be excluded from taking any part in the administration of its affairs. Such a provision would place the country under the feet of priests.

To recognize a deity in the organic law of our country would be the destruction of religious liberty. The God in the constitution would have to be protected. There would be laws against blasphemy, laws against the publication of honest thoughts, laws against carrying books and papers in the mails in which this constitutional God should be attacked. Our land would be filled with theological spies, with religious eavesdroppers, and all the snakes and reptiles of the lowest natures, in this sunshine of religious authority, would uncoil and crawl.

It is proposed to acknowledge a God who is the lawful and rightful governor of nations; the one who ordained the powers that be. If this God is really the governor of nations, it is not necessary to acknowledge him in the constitution. This would not add to his power. If he governs all nations now, he has always controlled the affairs of men. Having this control, why did he not see to it that he was recognized in the Constitution of the United States? If he had the supreme authority and neglected to put himself in the constitution, is not this, at least, prima facie evidence that he did not desire to be there?

For one, I am not in favor of the God who has “ordained the powers that be”. What have we to say of Russia — of Siberia? What can we say of the persecuted and enslaved? What of the kings and nobles who live on the stolen labor of others? What of the priest and cardinal and pope who wrest, even from the hand of poverty, the single coin thrice earned?

Is it possible to flatter the infinite with a constitutional amendment? The confederate states acknowledged God in their constitution, and yet they were overwhelmed by a people in whose organic law no reference to God is made. All the kings of the earth acknowledge the existence of God, and God is their ally; and this belief in God is used as a means to enslave and rob, to govern and degrade the people whom they call their subjects.

The government of the United States is secular. It derives its power from the consent of man. It is a government with which God has nothing whatever to do — and all forms and customs, inconsistent with the fundamental fact that the people are the source of authority, should be abandoned. In this country there should be no oaths — no man should be sworn to tell the truth, and in no court should there be any appeal to any supreme being. A rascal by taking the oath appears to go in partnership with God, and ignorant jurors credit the firm instead of the man. A witness should tell his story, and if he speaks falsely should be considered as guilty of perjury. Governors and presidents should not issue religious proclamations. They should not call upon the people to thank God. It is no part of their official duty. It is outside of and beyond the horizon of their authority. There is nothing in the Constitution of the United States to justify this religious impertinence.

For many years priests have attempted to give to our government a religious form. Zealots have succeeded in putting the legend upon our money: ” In God We Trust; ” and we have chaplains in the army and navy, and legislative proceedings are usually opened with prayer. All this is contrary to the genius of the republic, contrary to the Declaration of Independence, and contrary really to the Constitution of the United States. We hare taken the ground that the people can govern themselves without the assistance of any supernatural power. We have taken the position that the people are the real and only rightful source of authority. We have solemnly declared that the people must determine what is politically right and what is wrong, and that their legally expressed will is the supreme law. This leaves no room for national superstition — no room for patriotic gods or supernatural beings — and this does away with the necessity for political prayers.

The government of God has been tried. It was tried in Palestine several thousand years ago, and the God of the Jews was a monster of cruelty and ignorance, and the people governed by this God lost their nationality. Theocracy was tried through the middle ages. God was the governor the pope was his agent, and every priest and bishop and cardinal was armed with credentials from the Most High and the result was that the noblest and best were in prisons, the greatest and grandest perished at the stake. The result was that vices were crowned with honor, and virtues whipped naked through the streets. The result was that hypocrisy swayed the sceptre of authority, while honesty languished in the dungeons of the Inquisition.

The government of God was tried in Geneva when John Calvin was his representative; and under this government of God the flames climbed around the limbs and blinded the eyes of Michael Servetus, because he dared to express an honest thought. This government of God was tried in Scotland, and the seeds of theological hatred were sown, that bore, through hundreds of years, the fruit of massacre and assassination. This government of God was established in New England, and the result was that Quakers were hanged or burned — the laws of Moses re-enacted and the “witch was not suffered to live”. The result was that investigation was a crime, and the expression of an honest thought a capital offense. This government of God was established in Spain, and the Jews were expelled, the Moors were driven out, Moriscoes were exterminated, and nothing left but the ignorant and bankrupt worshipers of this monster. This government of God was tried in the United States when slavery was regarded as a divine institution, when men and women were regarded as criminals because they sought for liberty by flight, and when others were regarded as criminals because they gave them food and shelter. The pulpit of that day defended the buying and selling of women and babes, and the mouths of slave-traders were filled with passages of scripture, defending and upholding the traffic in human flesh.

We have entered upon a new epoch. This is the century of man. Every effort to really better the condition of mankind has been opposed by the worshipers of some God. The church in all ages and among all peoples has been the consistent enemy of the human race. Everywhere and at all times, it has opposed the liberty of thought and expression. It has been the sworn enemy of investigation and of intellectual development. It has denied the existence of facts, the tendency of which was to undermine its power. It has always been carrying fagots to the feet of philosophy. It has erected the gallows for genius. It has built the dungeon for thinkers. And today the orthodox church is as much opposed as it ever was to the mental freedom of the human race.

Of course, there is a distinction made between churches and individual members. There have been millions of Christians who have been believers in liberty and in the freedom of expression — millions who have fought for the rights of man — but churches as organizations, have been on the other side. It is true that churches have fought churches — that Protestants battled with the Catholics for what they were pleased to call the freedom of conscience; and it is also true that the moment these Protestants obtained the civil power, they denied this freedom of conscience to others.

Let me show you the difference between the theological and the secular spirit. Nearly three hundred years ago, one of the nobles’, of the human race, Giordano Bruno, was burned at Rome by the Catholic Church — that is to say, by the ” Triumphant Beast”. This man had committed certain crimes — he had publicly stated that there were other worlds than this — other constellations than ours. He had ventured the supposition that other planets might be peopled. More than this, and worse than this, he had asserted the heliocentric theory — that the earth made its annual journey about the sun. He had also given it as his opinion that matter is eternal. For these crimes he was found unworthy to live, and about his body were piled the fagots of the Catholic Church. This man, this genius, this pioneer of the science of the nineteenth century, perished as serenely as the sun sets, the infidels of today find excuses for his murderers. They take into consideration the ignorance and brutality of the times. They remember that the world was governed by a God who was then the source of all authority. This is the charity of infidelity — of philosophy. But the church of today is so heartless, is still so cold and cruel, that it can find no excuse for the murdered.

This is the difference between theocracy and democracy — between God and man.

If God is allowed in the constitution, man must abdicate. There is no room for both. If the people of the great republic become superstitious enough and ignorant enough to put God in the Constitution of the United States, the experiment of self-government will have failed, and the great and splendid declaration that “all governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed” will have been denied, and in its place will be found this: All power comes from God; priests are his agents, and the people are their slaves.

Religion is an individual matter, and each soul should he left entirely free to form its own opinions and to judge of its accountability to a supposed supreme being. With religion, government has nothing, whatever to do. Government is founded upon force, and force should never interfere with the religious opinions of men. Laws should define the rights of men and their duties toward each other, and these laws should be for the benefit of man in this world.

A nation can neither be Christian nor infidel — a nation is incapable of having opinions upon these subjects. If a nation is Christian, will all the citizens go to heaven? If it is not, will they all be damned? Of course it is admitted that the majority of citizens composing a nation may believe or disbelieve, and they may call the nation what they please, A nation is a corporation. To repeat a familiar saying, “it has no soul”. There can be no such thing as a Christian corporation. Several Christians may form a corporation, but it can hardly be said that the corporation thus formed was included in the atonement. For instance: Seven Christians form a corporation — that is to say, there are seven natural persons and one artificial — can it be said that there are eight souls to be saved?

No human being has brain enough, or knowledge enough, or experience enough, to say whether there is, or is not, a God. Into this darkness Science has not yet carried its torch. No human being has gone beyond the horizon of the natural. As to the existence of the supernatural, one man knows precisely as much, and exactly as little as another. Upon this question, chimpanzees and cardinals, apes and popes, are upon exact equality. The smallest insect discernible only by the most powerful microscope, is as familiar with this subject, as the greatest genius that has been produced by the human race.

Governments and laws are for the preservation of rights and the regulation of conduct. One man should not be allowed to interfere with the liberty of another. In the metaphysical world there should be no interference whatever. The same is true in the world of art. Laws cannot regulate what is or is not music, what is or what is not beautiful — and constitutions cannot definitely settle and determine the perfection of statues, the value of paintings, or the glory and subtlety of thought. In spite of laws and constitutions the brain will think. In every direction consistent with the well-being and peace of society, there should be freedom. No man should be compelled to adopt the theology of another; neither should a minority, however small, be forced to acquiesce in the opinions of a majority, however large.

If there be an infinite being, he does not need our help we need not waste our energies in his defense. It is enough for us to give to every other human being the liberty we claim for ourselves. There may or may not be a supreme ruler of the universe — but we are certain that man exists, and we believe that freedom is the condition of progress; that it is the sunshine of the mental and moral world, and that without it man will go back to the den of savagery, and will become the fit associate of wild and ferocious beasts.

We have tried the government of priests, and we know that such governments are without mercy. In the administration of theocracy, all the instruments of torture have been invented. If any man wishes to have God recognized in the constitution of our country, let him read the history of the Inquisition, and let him remember that hundreds of millions of men, women and children have been sacrificed to placate the wrath, or win the approbation of this God.

There has been in our country a divorce of church and state. This follows as a natural sequence of the declaration that “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed”. The priest was no longer a necessity. His presence was a contradiction of the principle on which the republic was founded. He represented, not the authority of the people, but of some “Power from on high,” and to recognize this other power was inconsistent with free government. The founders of the republic at that time parted company with the priests, and said to them: “You may turn your attention to the other world we will attend to the affairs of this.” Equal liberty was given to all. But the ultra theologian is not satisfied with this — he wishes to destroy the liberty of the people — he wishes a recognition of his God as the source of authority, to the end that the church may become the supreme power.

But the sun will not be turned backward. The people of the United States are intelligent. They no longer believe implicitly in supernatural religion. They are losing confidence in the miracles and marvels of the dark ages. They know the value of the free school. They appreciate the benefits of science. They are believers in education, in the free play of thought, and there is a suspicion that the priest, the theologian, is destined to take his place with the necromancer, the astrologer, the worker of magic, and the professor of the black art.

We have already compared the benefits of theology and science. When the theologian governed the world, it was covered with huts and hovels for the many, palaces and cathedrals for the few. To nearly all the children of men, reading and writing were unknown arts. The poor were clad in rags and skins — they devoured crusts, and gnawed bones, The day of science dawned, and the luxuries of a century ago are the necessities of today. Men in the middle ranks of life have more of the conveniences and elegancies than the princes and kings of the theological times. But above and over all this, is the development of mind. There is more of value in the brain of an average man of today — of a master-mechanic, of a chemist, of a naturalist, of an inventor, than there was in the brain of the world four hundred years ago.

These blessings did not fall from the skies. These benefits did not drop from the outstretched hands of priests. They were not found in cathedrals or behind altars neither were they searched for with holy candles. They were not discovered by the closed eyes of prayer, nor did they come in answer to superstitious supplication. They are the children of freedom, the gifts of reason, observation and experience — and for them all, man is indebted to man.

Let us hold fast to the sublime declaration of Lincoln. Let us insist that this, the republic, is “A government of the people, by the people, and for the people”.

Islam and the Subjugation of Women

I’m really sick of Western apologist propagandists for Islam who’ve never even read the Quran. The notion that “true” Muslims and “true” Islam are peaceful, is completely bogus. If such people would just read the Quran, they’d know that militant extremists conform to the Quran better than so-called “moderate” Muslims.  Their pretense to knowledge is pathetic. In fact, the Quran repeatedly makes it clear – and all Muslims know – that avoiding the battle for Jihad is despicable to Allah. EVERYBODY should read the Quran . . . informed is forewarned.

But many from the opposing point of view are also wrong-headed and attempt to demonize Muslims. They’re just people like everybody else. I know, because I spent 6 months in Kuwait and currently live in thePhilippines, where there are many Muslims in the southern regions. Blame the ideology, not the adherent.

After 9/11, President Bush declared that extremists have hijacked Islam. He got it backwards . . . it’s Islam that has hijacked extremists. The root problem is not the adherents, it’s the religious/legal/political ideology of Islam. The sacred texts (Quran and ahadith) of Islam give license to violent Jihad. ISLAM IS NOT A RELIGION OF PEACE. Period. Read the Quran and see for yourself.  You’ll find the Quran pays lip service to peace but it’s true message is one of submission and dominance.

Any self-respecting Muslim must concede that extremists and militants actually answer the call of Jihad and thus honor the perfect and immutable word of Allah. If only people understood the Muslim mindset . . . then we would all be better informed about how to deal with the problem of Muslim expansion, terrorism and subjugation of women. The Quran and hadith set up cultures with different values than the West has. Delaying tactics; reneging on agreements; laying low until the right opportunity arises; intimidation; turning tolerance on its head . . . these are all time-honored tactics practiced by Islams greatest leaders since Muhammad. Remember Ayatollah Khomeini?

The religious/legal/political ideology of Islam needs to be reformed before change (much less, peace) can come. The first thing that needs to change is the subjugation of women. We all know how women are minimized in Islam. It’s an indisputable fact. By Shariah law, their word is literally worth only a half that of men. Rape is almost unpunishable and, in fact, often leads to the victim being punished for promiscuity. If Muslim women could be liberated, then Muslim men would have healthier relationships with women. This central, core, component of Muslim societies is probably the most responsible for poisoning peace. Violence follows Islam wherever it spreads because sexually frustrated and immature Muslim men abound in abundance. Muslim men aren’t expected to control their urges: it’s the women who bear the responsibility for “provoking” men’s passions. There will never be a shortage of Jihadi warriors as long as Muslims keep their women in abject subjugation. There can be no peace until Muslim women claim their human rights.


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