Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Word, My Lady?

I think it’s really amazing how many of you have been reading along, and I especially appreciate those of you who have participated by responding and giving this examination a life of its own. I’m thinking that it might be time to let God breathe a minute and move on to other curiosities. Shouldn’t we? Its a big world out there; I’d hate to get caught up on one thing for too long. Regardless, I’d like to respond to those of you who posted comments in the last few days:


“Mikey, you wish there was a benevolent God. There totally is a benevolent God. What greater gift could He have given than to die in our place. He wanted us to have the perfect world all along. No suffering or pain...but we had to go and mess it up.” -- Amanda

Amanda, I respect your response. Perhaps you’re right, and there is a benevolent God who has given us free will to act without God’s knowledge or prediction. However, if we are acting outside Her wishes, then She cannot be omniscient. This simple impossibility is mentioned in my blog post “The Free Will/Omniscience Paradox.” What should be noted here is that if God isn’t omniscient, then the very foundation on which Christian theology is based becomes significantly compromised.

“I still think there is both. Yes, God has a plan. But He can not decide what you will do with it. . .There is no way I can ever believe that we don't have free will. People do too many stupid, cruel, and selfish things.” -- Kathryn

Kathryn, your steadfast belief in free will makes a lot of sense and appears to be grounded in reason, because you have seen concrete empirical evidence which suggests that you and everyone you know makes many choices on her own, every day. The notion of free will, in this context, is merely a philosophical, not religious, principle with connotations ranging from religion to ethics to science. I am sure that you will see what I mean when I say that ‘free will’ can exist without divine origin; however, if you’re saying God has a general plan, but doesn’t know if we will follow it, then you’re suggesting that God might not be omniscient. Once again, God-given free will disproves the notion of omniscience, which is a central tenet of Christianity.

'All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. As it is with the good man, so with the sinner; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them.’ Ecc. 9:2 -- KD

KD, this was a good find. Certainly, if there is a preponderance of biblical evidence to support an omniscient God’s divine plan, then this must suggest that free will cannot exist, as proven in my article “The Free Will/Omniscience Paradox.” However, since many have responded to my blog posts in firm support of the notion of God-given free will, it appears the very existence of God must be put under tough scrutiny.

“I pretty much stopped studying religion when I was 12. (I also started slacking in science, until college, because well, studying the two of them together at the same time made for alot of confusion). . .Yes, logic, reason, science, in most cases they make the most realistic case, and against them, God does not make sense. Alot of things in this world do not make sense to me though, and therefore, I don't believe everything has to fit into the 'realistic' category. . .Though I don't KNOW God exists, I feel he does. I don't really know how to explain it.” -- Kathryn

Well, Kathryn, it appears you found an interest in philosophy. We can never profess to know everything. We should never profess to know anything without proof.  Emily Dickinson penned “faith is doubt.”  Perhaps the reason science makes the most sense is because it is the correct path.   Perhaps the reason God does not make sense is because She just isn’t sensible, having been conceived by man before the advent of science, and hence subsequently and continually disproved by the slow but consistent momentum of scientific progress. If, however, realism is unnecessary, and you only need to just feel that God exists, well, it sounds like you don’t need to be having this exercise of free thought.

“As far as God being omniscient, I believe that He is, to a point. He may know what is going to happen, He may know what situations we will find ourselves in, and He may even know how we will react, but I don't believe that means He chose our reaction. Its more like a prediction. Perhaps He even hopes for us to prove Him wrong at times, though we can never really know.” -- Kathryn

There is no such thing as God being omniscient ‘to a point.’  Nor can an omniscient God hope to ever be proven wrong.  Those very statements are a paradox. Perhaps God is not omniscient?

“Hurricane Katrina didn’t take the lives of over 1000 people...the levee’s that man made that broke did, and then they went and rebuilt them. There’s weather everywhere, God doesn’t have to stop that, but maybe not building levees where ocean is SUPPOSED to be might have let over 1000 God-loving, church-going, poor black people keep their lives....annnd I believe most of them were warned to evacuate and they didn’t...so that’s not God’s fault.” -- xoTLExo

Alright, I will give it to you that an argument can be reasonably presented which proposes that God didn’t kill people in New Orleans, but rather our government’s mismanagement of a levee system in a city constructed below sea level. However, this does not disprove my original point, which was that if there is a God, She is not benevolent. If mismanagement of levees killed NOLA’s poor, what killed over 225,000 innocent people in the tsunami in December 2004? There are plenty more examples, but I think you’ll get my point. There was no free will, nor was there any possibility of mortal lapse. This was purely a deadly “Act of God.”

“As for Skid Row, well...Getting addicted to crack or heroin is your own choice, not God’s. If you’re stupid enough to do drugs because your friend told you it was cool or for whatever reason people get into drugs and now you can’t work because of it, that’s your own fault.” -- xoTLExo

I think it would be a good thing for you to learn more about Skid Row and how people wind up in such circumstances. Yes, often humans make decisions to do drugs which will ruin their lives, but what about the children which are born into this life? What about the babies who are born addicted to crack? What about the children who grow up on the streets of Los Angeles and are raped and beaten and uneducated and hungry? Surely you can see that free will does not apply to them, right?

“He gave the world to us all and we went and f%#&ed his s!*^ up.” -- Noelle

I would agree with you if each child born into this world shared an equal shot, but the very fact that this isn’t true completely disproves the idea of a benevolent, omniscient God who give us all free will. A simple brainstorm will raise plenty of examples where you will see that we are born into this already-cruel world. Perhaps human history has created the cruelty, but the simple fact that we cannot control it is what contradicts the idea of equal dissemination of God-given free will.

“I am a realist, you may disagree with that based on my faith but then as you do not personally know me.” -- Claire

Claire, faith requires you to let go of a certain measurable amount of realism.

“Like Claire said, God gave us free will and I believe that as he gave us, he leaves us free to help others. . .God is not good, God is Just.” -- Bruna

Bruna, is God just? A simple history query will raise plenty of doubts on this point. One that immediately comes to mind is the dogma which proclaims that a benevolent nonbeliever will go to hell even if she haphazardly follows the Ten Commandments. That is not divine justice; it makes me believe that I, and most people I know, can be more just than God.

“You want to know why i dont blame God....because he gave us free will.” -- Claire

A Christian God is proclaimed to be omniscient. Its a central pillar of the faith. If God gave us free will, then She understands that She gave us the ability to defy the will of God; hence, God would no longer be omniscient. If God knows how and when we will defy Her, then she is not benevolent and also the idea of free will ceases to exist because our actions are predestined. Please see “The Free Will/Omniscience Paradox.”  Perhaps there’s nothing to blame for the way things are except the slow progression of history, evolution, nature, etc. Remember, I’m not arguing against the notion of ‘free will,’ I am only arguing it in the sense that it is given to us by an omniscient God.

“There are many many countries where survival is very hard, but this is MAN MADE, how can you blame God who gave us all free will.” -- Joanna

The point I was attempting to make is that free will can be overridden by a host of circumstances, or can be precluded by forebearers. The notion of God-given free will in the context which you write can only apply to the very people who messed these places up originally. This is not a religious debate point, however. This is merely an empirical observation.

“Do you really want God to wave a magic wand, to dictate what we can & can't do, so you want to be a robot in fairy land? Ever heard of Idi Amin???” -- Joanna

I’m not sure what you’re talking about, and yes, I am quite familiar with Idi Amin. I’m not sure how he supports your argument. Idi Amin stripped an entire people of free will.

“I have many instances where God has stepped in I can never not believe.” -- Joanna

In one sentence, you say that God doesn’t intervene because he gave us free will, which is how such tragedies can occur under the nose of a benevolent, omnipotent God. Now you are suggesting that God has chosen to intervene in your life. If you say She did, (and I cannot argue that She didn’t) are there others on this planet who might deserve some divine intervention? If so, why has God chosen you and not them?

“Yes he can wipe out whole nations, he can destroy the Taliban & all terrorists, he can hold back nature BUT YOU DONT WANT TO BE A ROBOT, YOU WANT FREE WILL WHICH IS WHAT WE HAVE.” -- Joanna

Joanna, this is not about being robots, and it most certainly isn’t about what we want. If God exists, it’s exclusively about what She wants, isn't it? 

“As for science DNA has proved we come from one set of parents, that all babies start as female.....” -- Joanna

Please produce concrete scientific evidence to support this fantastic claim. It should also be mentioned here that even the discoverers of DNA are nonbelievers.

"You know if enough people followed your beliefs you would be considered a religious icon, then would that make you a hypocrite?" -- Noelle

I think I can see your point, but it deserves mentioning that Agnosticism and Atheism merely suggest a lack of belief. Therefore, no one would be following my beliefs, since I don’t have any regarding God.

“No proof????!!! proof is everywhere...in everything you "can't explain" -- emotion, nature, death, EVERYTHING.. that's god, because there is no need for explanation when we all know the un- tangible feeling.. the all knowing, all powerful, all good god.” -- Noelle

Noelle, please put down the Koolaid. Proof is everywhere in everything we can’t explain? That’s an oxymoron if I’ve ever read one. Furthermore, if your God is all-knowing and all-powerful, She has not given you free will and She certainly isn’t ‘all good.’

“Sometimes I find myself changing the way the bible goes.” -- Noelle

Read above about the Koolaid.

“We can update the bible a bit. IF he can forgive a murderer, not to sure he'd mind an updated bible, especially for some new aged truth. maybe with new true stories and a pixstar advertisment campagin, we might have some REAL people back on our side... FOR REAL.” -- Noelle

One more time, sweetie.

“What is the definition of a god? The presence of mountains, the colors of a flower, the smile you got from your dad, the way you feel when you get hurt, the knowledge of the difference between green and red.” -- Noelle

If you're looking for the origin of the presence of mountains, I’d point to geology; the color of flowers, botany; the smile you get from your dad, love; the way you feel when you get hurt, doctors; and the knowledge of difference between green and red? Well, I’m red-green colorblind.

“The death of the people helping at ground zero did not come from God hating us. . . Yes he created those people who f#%^ed our s&*t up, but he also gave them free will to kill or love.” -- Noelle

I’m sure you can see how this is a perfect example of a few Islamic terrorists overriding the free will of thousands of Americans. 

“I personally know that God does not enjoy suffering or cause it to happen. I know He orchestrates everything for good even in the midst of despair.” -- Lisa

How do you know? And you cannot say that you ‘just know.’ There’s an abundance of abject misery in this world. If you know that God is good, then why and how does She arbitrarily ‘test’ so many with such intolerable cruelty, while others are given comfort and ease? And if God is orchestrating, then there’s no place or need for free will. It simply ceases to exist by definition of Divine Orchestration.

“i believe that God has given us free will because of His love and allows us to use it, rather than control us.” -- Lisa

This contradicts what you said above about God orchestrating everything. Please see "The Free Will/Omniscience Paradox."

“Christian belief is that God is holy & perfect and we are sinful (since the Garden of Eden), so the only way anybody can be with God in relationship or in heaven is by having his or her sins atoned for... in Judaism it's through sacrifices of animals, but Christians believe that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for everyone's sins.” -- Lisa

If Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, then why must we worry about sinning? If God is holy and perfect, than why has She created such an imperfect species as the human race?

“God gave us free will, 9/11 was a result of that. We can torture eachother and kill eachother all we want, we can kill our unborn children, and even our children after they are born... We think and act for ourselves, God doensn't do it for us. We lie, cheat, steal, and God has nothing to do with how we behave.” -- Kathryn

I can see your point, but therefore God cannot be omniscient. Also, the act of killing removes free will from the victim. Why would God allow such a loophole?

“I believe that God does have wrath - but that the wrath of God was satisfied in Christ.” -- Lisa

Given the overabundance of misery in this world, it’s hard to see how God (assuming She exists) has gotten all her wrath out on Jesus.

‘The other thing was the way you described the Bible - if you actually study the Bible it is not a message of laws and damnation, but rather a huge story of God's love for the world, expressed most fully in Jesus.” -- Lisa

No reasonable person argues the fact that the Old Testament is rife with messages of strict laws, cruel vengeance, and fierce damnation. For a mere handful of examples, please see “My God Your God His God Her God.”   Furthermore, it is not “a huge story of God’s love for the world expressed most fully in Jesus,” as the simple exercise of dividing the Bible at the end of the Old and beginning of the New Testaments will prove that the Bible is much more heavily weighted toward the Old.

“In response to the above, yes there were people on that list who i have also respected but i personally just because i respect someone doesn't mean they will shape my beliefs.” -- Claire

Actually, many of the people on that list have shaped your beliefs; its just that you might not even think about it since their contributions to the scientific world are, by now, so widely dispersed and part of general knowledge. You believe in Ego, yes?  Freud shaped your beliefs.  The Socratic Method?  Thank Socrates.  Do you wish for the return of Monarchy? No? Thank John Locke for your freedom. Do you support the practice of Civil Disobedience over violence? Thank Henry David Thoreau and Gandhi. Evolution? Thank Darwin. I’ll stop myself. I think you’ll see my point.

“You did have alot of people I've spent my life respecting in there too though, so I'll give you that. I can only hope that they are the ones who are wrong though.” -- Anonymous

If I were you I would be thankful that these people were right. Otherwise, we would not be here having this conversation.

“In my opinion, the first Biblical passage that should have been mentioned regarding free will is in Genesis when God told Adam & Eve not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil, and they did (therefore introducing sin into the world). That was a free will decision. God didn't prevent them from eating the fruit.” -- Lisa

You’re right. I should have mentioned this; however, the question remains: Did God know that they would eat the fruit? If so, it was predestined, and therefore disallows free will. If he did not know that they would eat the fruit, then God is not omniscient. The two are mutually exclusive.

“He created us and knows us intimately, so that is why He knows what we will choose. He doesn't force us to do what He wants, or we wouldn't have any sin in this world at all. He doesn't cause us to sin or hurt others.” -- Lisa

If God knows our moves before we make them, then free will does not exist. However, for the sake of argument, if God knows what we will do, but chooses not to intervene, then not only does free will not exist, but God is also not benevolent. If an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God would choose to stand and watch in cases where free will is overridden by bad people exercising free will to commit atrocities and overriding the free will of his people, then only one reasonably conclusion can be reached: God is malevolent.

“Jesus called us to start fixing things down here - "the Kingdom of God is at hand" - the Kingdom God created where there is no suffering and pain and inequality (even though that's what you are saying that God endorses).” -- Lisa

If God is omnipotent, why doesn’t She just fix things Herself? If Jesus, as the flesh of God, called on us to fix things for Her, why did God create such a flawed species in the first place? Did God make some kind of mistake somewhere along the line? If God is omniscient, didn’t She know things would come to this level of misery and chaos for so many of Her people?

“I think one thing, though, that would be nice is if you at least had some respect for believers, understanding that they might have used reason and logic to arrive at a faith decision.” -- Lisa

Since only 10% of the United States are nonbelievers, it’d take an awful lot of disrespect. I love people. I love seeking knowledge and asking questions. I love diversity. If you have searched within, asked yourself all the tough questions, found all the contradictions and malevolence in the Bible, learned all that science has discovered, exhausted your free will to challenge assumptions and prophesy, and learned in depth about all the other other religions that exist and have existed rather than accepting the one you’ve been given or is closest in proximity and history, and you still come back to Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, I will not only have the highest amount of respect for you -- I will want sit down and learn from you.

An Exercise in Perspective

If God actually exists, how lucky we are to be the only thing he cares about or mentions!  How lucky we are he chose a land so close by to bear a son.  A lot of wasted space indeed.  Come, have a look:

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Slow Conversion of One

Here's another aim conversation I had today.  This person was a firm believer in God before I started blogging this subject a week and a half ago.  Don't forget to read my earlier post about the paradox of the coexistence of an omniscient god and god-given free will.  This is the Age of Reason.  Stay a while.

1:43 PM
You blog is causing me sleepless nights!
aww, don't worry....consider this
if there actually IS a god

she will be happy to know that you exercised the mind that she gave you
And she will have you to thank for that!
I have a lot of respect for your blog
thank you
from my perspective, if god exists, and i get to whatever place of judgement when i die, and god says to me "mikey, you chose not to believe"
i'll say "God, you gave me intellect which i used to come to some pretty clear conclusions about your existence."
"now that i'm seeing you standing here, i'll buy it"
"and furthermore, let me make a suggestion"
"why not just do something....ANYTHING...if you are omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent...why not just make yourself a tad more obvious to the people of earth? you know, EVIDENCE..."
"right now, it seems down there like you're running amok...harming good people, protecting bad people...allowing such misery to exist when you don't have to"
"why not do something to show your grace and mercy and power?"
"cuz you're really starting to lose credibility down there, you know?"

Can i ask you something.........Do you wish that there was a God and that you had faith?
i don't wish i had faith
faith defies reason
i'd rather have reason, but
yes, i wish there was a benevolent god
wouldn't that be nice?

suffering would end
there would be concrete and visible consequences

You continue to amaze me
its not me; its just reason
i'm just the messenger

No its you.....the fact that you have had enough sense to actually research it...
as well as have thought out a conversation with God if he showed himself to you
hahaha well some would say i need to stop thinking so much
I disagree
you are a rare breed!
I think its great
thanks :)
Honestly i have enjoyed myself thinking about these things
so i take it you read my free will argument?
yes i have read it briefly
I need to read it and think
haha yes you do
I see where you are coming from on every point
Which is why i respect you....you dont talk rubbish without fact and logic
and even though i disagree with you
i understand why, if that makes sense
Im pleased you changed direction too
2:00 PM
haha oh changed direction to free will?
off of the existence of god?
No because to argue that we are still basically arguing the existence of God
otherwise there would be no argument
i suppose there's no sense continuing to argue it after the facts have been presented
scientific facts are irrelevant to the pious
2:05 PM
or they're molded to preexisting beliefs
It was going to turn nasty at some point too
yeah i saw it starting to
But im impressed it lasted so long
i mean, there comes a time when reason will not only not work, but will also really piss people off
its like telling someone their dad is an alcoholic
even though they may see every bit of evidence that's cited, no one wants to believe it, so they don't want to hear it
but denial of facts do not make them go away

See in that case i wouldnt be like that
my faith is the only thing im like that over!
but why? does that make sense?
Dammit no it doesnt
But that doesnt change it
if you saw someone from another time and place saying this about another, perhaps obsolete god, would you think it sensible?
How can i answer that?
only with faith or reason
i do not know how i would react
id prob freak the f^*% out!
do you think they'd freak out if they saw what and how our civilization believes?
Probably i dont know
Mikey i haven't spent any of the kind of time you have thinking about these things
well thats just it
i think most believers haven't thought much about it

and i think thats wrong
I think i need to start thinking more
and reading more
believers believe and facts and evidence are totally irrelevant
Its not irrelevant
you know -- "god is good"
god is not good
god can be awfully malign
what did the poor children of africa do to deserve their fate?
that should be reason enough to say "know what? a good god would never allow such things"
you have a healthy child
you're lucky. you should thank your country's wealth and health care system
not god

why did god pick you to have such a beautiful child?
when he arbitrarily causes such suffering elsewhere?
this is not about free will
this is about simple fact

Mikey if i didn't look after my child she wouldn't be healthy
this is true
and thats science

I accept that at any moment my life could all go to s*^#
I take responsibilty for my actions
and i am aware of others actions
thats just simple cause and effect
do you think that bacteria can go to heaven or hell?
or are humans the only ones who fit the paradigm?

Humans only
so, what happens to animals?
do they only die?

i dont know the answer to that
why not? surely God has a plan for them too, right? why hasn't he mentioned it?
lol I dont know, Mikey
scientific evidence states that we are products of evolution
therefore, we ARE animals
so all life, including humans, must, if God exists, be judged by the same rules, no?
i know this sounds ridiculous
but thats my point
this whole idea of God is a tad ridiculous
there have been countless gods over the ages
and you don't believe in any of them
and you don't lose any sleep over it

why not go one more?
itd be a mere drop in a bucket

Which is true
Even i wasn't aware of how many
It seems that i am not aware of much
well, to believe in God/Jesus, one must either twist or deny a lot of knowledge
its not that you aren't smart
its just that religion doesn't want us to learn too much

because if we do?
Faith is lost
I think you are right
2:25 PM
i know it can seem a depressing thought to 'lose god'
but really, it's the most liberating experience of all
now there's a whole world in front of you
so much to learn
and pieces will start to fit

What about if i learn it......
but still keep my faith
If i have all the facts and am aware
but still have faith
isn't that what a lot of scientists do?
umm, not really
Are you telling me scientists are not religious?
i can't speak for all scientists
but i’m confident most advanced scientists are either agnostic or atheist

How do you know this?
scientists say god with respect to their awe at the complexity of the universe
for that which is not yet understood
they may say ‘God’
for example
einstein mentions god throwing dice, but he is an out and out unbeliever
i could name more scientists

but lets just name the important ones off the top of our heads
einstein, newton, galileo

all nonbelievers
What about believers?
nikola tesla was a firm believer, but it was i think because he was completely insane and was brought up in a weird religious environment
ben franklin? didn't believe
jefferson? didn't believe
watson and crick, discoverers of dna? didn't believe
edison? didn't believe
marie and pierre curie, pioneers of radiation? didn't believe

I need to read more
carl sagan? didn't believe
Direct me
2:35 PM
cicero, aristotle, plato, socrates, voltaire? didn't believe
When you were younger
and you had faith
did you really?
or was it your parents influence
epicurus, nietzsche, freud? didn't believe
Freud was a fool
haha no he wasn't
he might've gotten some things incorrect, but he is the father of psychology

Which i have studied
carl marx? didn't believe
napoleon? didn't believe
stalin? didn't believe

Marx i study every year
john adams? didn't believe
protagorus, hobbes, hippocrates? didn't believe
bill gates? doesn't believe
wozniak, maker of the apple pc doesn't believe
jung, kant, kierkegaard? didn't believe
st thomas aquinas didn't believe
What made you lose faith
So you woke up one day and thought...fuck it
but the kicker?
an old girlfriend with whom i am still friends
her father was on the board of mensa
and head of the edgar allen poe society
BRILLIANT man; didn't believe
his wife was agnostic
daughter, my ex girlfriend, is also brilliant....and was raised in a totally nonreligious fashion
yet that family has more moral authority than many religious people i have seen
and to them it's not even worth discussing. the answer is blaringly obvious
see, the only people who have a hard time with this are believers
everyone else is like CMON MAN

yesterday i took my nephew out on a 4-wheeler
i put a helmet on him that was way too big for his head
and it shook around and prolly hurt him
but when i found the helmet that would really fit his little head?
no way!!! i like this one!!! don't take this helmet from meee!!!

he didn't want reason
in his mind, the helmet he had been initially given was the right one, period
so i snatched it off his head and put on the smaller one...

and POW!!
happy boy

2:45 PM
things are obvious when you're on the outside looking in
take relationships:
you can see clearly when its not your relationship
"get out, honey! he's no good for you! you guys fight all the time! can't you see its not gonna work? it hasn't been working since day one!"
ever had someone say that kinda stuff to you?

Haha ooh yes.
so you get my point
when your on the inside, you cannot apply logic the same way as when youre on the outside looking in
things are less obvious on the inside; there are ways to bend truths
people believe what they want to believe in the face of irrefutable evidence
and that's why the believer shuts her eyes and ears
and says 'you're wrong...i don't even have to get into why you're wrong, you just are'

and thats what faith is
faith in god
faith in our choices in life
faith in our relationships
faith in our parents
and reason doesn't work where there's a protective shell of faith
when faith is vulnerable a second, and reason is allowed to permeate
things start to make more sense
and there are moments of aha!!
and it all just begins to click
because the whole of knowledge is symbiotic
everything is a part of everything else
and thats what science is all about
and thats a really amazing and beautiful thing
Frank Lloyd Wright: "I believe in God; I just call it NATURE"

now, want your mind to really be blown?
go on then
go watch part one of 'Zeitgeist'
What is it?
there are three parts, with a long intro
just watch the intro and then part one
should be like 40 mins altogether
then get back to me

will do!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Free Will/Omniscience Paradox

There’s been an argument in favor of ‘free will’ put forth in several comments. It’s a common go-to which fills gaps in reason within the framework of Christian dogma, especially when believers confront and try to come to term with illogical aspects of God’s mercy or lack of mercy. The concept of free will suggests that we are given, by God, the freedom to exercise control over our thoughts and decisions.

Before we tackle the subject of free will, it should be noted that “free will” is not specifically mentioned anywhere in the bible. Here are the pertinant verses with respect to predestiny and free will:

"And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." -- Acts 13:48

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate.... Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." -- Romans 8:29-30

"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." -- 2 Timothy 1:9

"See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your
God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong [your] days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live. -- Deuteronomy 30:15

"If you love Me, keep My commandments." -- John 14:15

"He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will." -- Ephesians 1:4-5

"God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation." -- 2 Thessalonians 2:13

"God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned." -- 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12

"For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation." -- Jude 4

"For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth. .... For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction." -- Romans 9:11-22

I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life. -- Dt.30:19

Choose you this day whom ye will serve.... But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. -- Joshua 24:15

As you can see, the whole concept of “free will” takes creative interpretation to find as a concrete and inarguable biblical tenet. Lets assume, though, for the benefit of the doubt, that free will is clearly implied in the above scriptures.

Most Christians subscribe to two main points:

Determinism, which states that God has a divine plan, which is to say that God knows our fates and who will and will not be saved; and/or
God is omniscient.

Here, I will argue that the two aforementioned concepts, Free Will and Determinism, can not coexist.

To begin, free will can only apply to voluntary behavior. No philosophers or theologians debate this important point. If man has not chosen his thoughts or behavior, then the concept of free will cannot be applied to a situation. In addition, most suggest that free will is a necessary component of social responsibility. That is to say we must choose to be good people in order to be saved. Running this theory backwards implies that if free will didn’t exist, there would be no social responsibility since our actions and thoughts already would have been predestined by God; thus, if God is omniscient and has a master plan, social responsibility is predetermined, and ‘free will’ ceases to exist. I know this is a brainbender, so take a moment to chew.

So, does God have a plan or do we have free will? Therein lies the Christian paradox. You can find evidence of it in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans 9:21: "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?" If God preprograms us to be either good or bad, then any human behavior is just part of God’s plan, and God remains omniscient. If God is omniscient, then he knew each choice we make in our entire lives before we were ever conceived; therefore, free will cannot exist.

I know that this is a toughie, so lets take a little break from the paradox and talk about cases in which free will can not apply, like rape, murder, theft, etc., where actions of another override one’s ability to practice free will. Remember, free will can only apply to voluntary behavior. Consider this famous case: In the early morning of February 4, 1999, Amadou Diallo, a Guinean biochemistry student was standing on a sidewalk near his Bronx apartment upon returning home from a meal. Four undercover NYPD officers crept by in an unmarked Ford Taurus. Tensions were already high in this area -- criminal activity was commonplace on this Bronx block, so the “Street Crimes Unit” maintained a low profile in order to catch criminals in the act. What happened next took place in a matter of mere seconds. The officers spotted Diallo, and mistook him for a wanted serial rapist. Diallo, noticing the fast approaching unmarked Taurus, made a dash for his front door, believing he was going to be robbed. The plainclothes officers sprang from their vehicle, in hot pursuit. Mid-panic, Diallo reached for his wallet to throw to his would-be attackers, which was, in the immediate chaos, mistaken by the four officers as a gun. 41 bullets were fired in rapid succession, and Diallo died on his own front porch, shot nineteen times. While the whole episode probably took less than 20 seconds, the officers' decisions to fire took place in the fraction of a second. This is a tragic story, and it shines a light on the concept of free will, which requires a moment of reason to function. Without that moment of reason, the decision to open fire on Diallo was completely involuntary. Immediate circumstance and misunderstanding caused the officers behavior. There was no freedom of thought; this was pure animal impulse. The Diallo story and many others are dissected in Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Blink,’ a pop-psychology book which focuses on the science and consequences of split-second decision making.

The concept of free will, if it can exist at all (God is not omniscient/predestiny, though covered ad infinitum in the Bible, nonexistent), can only apply to voluntary behavior. Man must be in control of his actions for free will to function. If man cannot control his behavior, then consequenses as a result of the free will concept cannot apply. If free will exists, it only exists when the mind and its perception of reality are united. Man must also be responsible for his mental state in order to have so-called ‘free will’. Other examples of cases where free will cannot apply include mentally incapacitated individuals (Schizophrenia, Tourette, OCD, etc.) and addicts who cannot control their actions, despite their will. Within this paradigm, it could be successfuly argued that the 9/11 hijackers suffered from delusions, whereby extreme societal and religious idealism overtook their mental state, thus removing free will. Consider African children, who were not their mother or fathers. They were not their society’s originator. They did not make themselves, nor shape their surroundings. Their mental state and decision-making processes are, at least partially, beyond their control. Their will, therefore, is not entirely free. Thus, if God hasn't predestined this fate for Africans, then at least their free will was overridden by circumstance or never existed at all. Other examples of the removal of free will are instances of rape, slavery, and torture. Inner and outer freedom must coexist for will to be free.

If God grants some of us free will, others not, and allows for situations where free will can be circumstantially overridden, why and how does she arbitrarily decide not only who can exercize it, but also when and where? The existence of omniscient God negates the notion of free will through a simple exercize of logic. Ask yourself: Does God know if an individual will be good or bad? If you answered ‘no’, then God is not omniscient. If you answered ‘yes’, then free will does not exist. So, which do you choose: an omniscient God, or free will?

Lets look at this a slighty different way. If god is omniscient, then he knows all. If he knows all, then he can accurately predict behavior. Free will assumes that God either cannot or does not predict our decisions. This implies that God doesn’t always know how we will act. If he doesn’t know how we will act, then he is not omniscient. Therefore, an omniscient God cannot exist if we have free will. That is the paradox: An omniscient God and free will cannot coexist. There is, however, one reasonable counter-argument, which is that perhaps God is omniscient with regard to everything that can logically and reasonably be possible to know. But this is the point at which we ask if God follows rules of logic and reason. If so, then the believer must rework her entire stance, applying logic and reason to the very existence of God herself.

And that is a discussion for another day.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Harsh Truth

Toby and Claire, you're right. There is a lot of beauty in this world, and much of it is concentrated in your respective filthy-rich first-world countries.  It might seem to cover this vast planet of ours when we drive down our nice streets through charming towns.  I, for one, sometimes forget how fortunate we are to be citizens of such civilized nations.  England and the United States happen to be the two most recent world-dominating powers.  North America and Europe collectively are home to only 15% of the world's population, but we own over 50% of its wealth.  It would make sense that we see beauty everywhere we turn.  Asia is home to over 50% of the earth's inhabitants, and owns 30% of its cash.  This leaves a whopping 35% of the earth (South America, Australia, and Africa) owning less than 20% of its remaining wealth.  Please take a moment to digest these figures.

It probably won't surprise you then to know that we, our European friends, and other wealthy first-world nations share the lowest infant mortality rates of anywhere on our planet.  England's is less than 0.5%.  Perhaps, Claire, your pregnancy might not have fared so well in Angola, where almost 20% of newborns die before their first birthday.  But since we're talking about Angola, lets look at some more statistics.  There, almost 50% of children under 5 are malnourished and over 25% will die before they reach that age; less than 40% of their population has access to clean water and proper sanitation; over 10% of children under 14 have lost one or both of their parents; over 30% of children 5-14 are working, and most can expect to die by the time they turn 42.  Is this the beauty you speak of?  This issue is not specific to Angola, either.  They are but a drop in a larger bucket of peoples who do not see the beauty you see; in fact, of the thirty countries on earth with the highest infant mortality rates, almost all are African.  To boot, these same nations have the highest birth rates of anywhere else.  So, if you run the numbers, its safe to say that there are a lot of unlucky parents in Africa, assuming they even survive long enough to see their children make it to their fifth birthday.

Why does your God turn a blind eye to these people?

Lets get back to the first world. We are rich. Our friends are rich.  Our neighbors are rich. Places we visit are rich. Even the places we visit abroad generally tend to be wealthy tourist centers.  We, the lucky civilization, sometimes have to really try to place ourselves in situations that aren't very pretty, but we all know that they exist.  

Why are we more qualified for God's mercy than anyone else?

It's easy to cite Africa, however, as a cesspool of despair, so why don't we talk about what we know?  

Hurricane Katrina took the lives of over 1000 God-loving, church-going, poor black people.  Did they not pray enough?  Claire, you say you don't go to church, but you're still alive.  Does this make sense to you?  This is the part where you say God works in mysterious ways.  

Los Angeles is a pretty enough place.  But the palm tree-lined streets of Hollywood are less than five miles from Skid Row, a world-famous human landfill where up to ten thousand under the age of 18 are addicted to crack or heroin and sell survival-sex for food and shelter, right now.  Is this what you mean when you say 'there's too much beauty in the world to not believe in God?'

If the terrible loss of almost three thousand innocent mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, cousins, and friends in the September 11th attacks is not shocking enough, consider the countless volunteers who worked tirelessly to clean up ground zero only to wind up with serious pulmonary diseases, sarcoidosis, and cancer as a result of their exposure to the toxic dust below their feet.  If I had a God, he would treat good people better than this.  Wouldn't yours?

Some children in your neighborhoods are born with birth defects.  Some wind up in trash cans.  I'm not sure what to call this but it isn't beauty.  This is reality, and it's happening right now in our beautiful isolated enclaves among a vast world full of misfortune.

I don't thank God that I am alright.  I am no more deserving than any poor Angolan child.  I am just one of the lucky ones so far. 

Friday, December 26, 2008

Oh Musikavanhu!!

Kathryn, I'm glad to hear you got an A in science, but it worries me that your inability to grasp the complexities of the mass of factual information within the world of science causes you to doubt its truth. The fact is that there is absolutely no information about your god except what exists in the Bible and in your imagination. A lack of understanding does not make evidence go away. You also mentioned that you 'live with the knowledge that [you] will be punished for [your] life." On what what evidentiary foundation do you base this knowledge?  Let me ask you this also:  If I, an Agnostic, lived a decent life -- don't kill anyone, don't lie, don't cheat, don't steal, I'm still going to hell because I denied God; however, the murderer across town who lied, cheated, killed, stole, repented, and believed, gets a ticket to heaven? I've asked ministers this question. They give me some really twisted answers. Turns out it's true: the murderer goes to heaven, and the good nonbeliever goes to hell. This is your jealous God?  This is your omniscient God?

Anonymous, you've taken a comprehensive list quotes from history's smartest people, grabbed one name that isn't as powerful or historically significant, and used it to make a blanket statement about the entire thing.  I'm sorry to say it, but Woody Allen's presence on this list does not detract from its importance, nor does it in any way negate the words of the most respected minds in recorded history. 

How much smarter or more qualified to answer questions of the unknown than these people do you believe yourself to be? What reason, if any, do you have to suggest that these people might all be simultaneously incorrect about one god in a million for whom not one single shred of evidence exists? What do you know that they do not? More importantly, what do they know that you do not?  You can only hope that Cicero, Einstein, Jefferson, Adams, Plato, Aristotle, Franklin, Galileo, Lincoln, Buddha, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, the Curies, Watson and Crick, Voltaire, Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud, Newton, Madison, Marx, Locke, Hobbes, Napoleon, Gates, Socrates, Jung, Kant, Epicurus, Aquinas, Taft, Cleveland, Quincy Adams, two Popes, Edison, Paine and countless mentioned and unmentioned luminaries are all wrong? I'm not sure I understand what you mean. These are the brightest minds in history.  If they were all wrong, we would still be living in the Dark Ages.  

What if YOU are wrong?  

Claire, a cult is a religion generally considered to be false. Since no one has proof of any of this, the only thing that sets religions apart from cults are sheer numbers.  Secondly, you say you have nothing to lose, but if you are wrong, you have everything to lose.  At least if you hold off on solidifying a choice, you can make up your mind when you meet your maker, whoever she may be.  After all, no one really knows.  Are you suggesting you do?  Not even the most respected believers would claim that.  Also, are you suggesting the Egyptians were wrong? The Romans? The Greeks? The Muslims? The Assyrians? The Native Americans? How convenient that you and your Christian neighbors are the only ones who got it right on your first and only try.  I bet believers of every other religion think the same exact thing.

Lets try another exercise here:

Here's a list of deities. Find yours within.  Why are you hopeful or sure that you picked the right one?  Keep in mind that in different places and in different times, societies were just as sure as you are now that theirs was or were the only correct path to salvation.  I would venture to guess that almost everyone who reads this post is Atheist with regard to all of these gods except Jesus. Why not go one further?

Chup Kamui, Sin, Illat, Hilal, Hubal, Sin, Ta'lab, Wadd, Coyolxauhqui, Metztli, Tecciztecatl, Ixchel, Sin, Ilazki, Menily, Jarih, Nikkal, Góntia, Lair báln,Chia, Chie, Gleti, Napir, Chons, Thoth, Losna, Artemis, Hecate, Phoebe, Selene, Rhea, Kaskuh, Anumati, Chandra (Indu), Soma, Kusuh, Coniraya, Ka-Ata-Killa, Mama Quilla, Dewi Shri, Silewe Nazarate, Alignak, Igaluk, Tarquiup Inua, Marishi-Ten, Tsukuyomi, Shitta, Meness, Ataegina, Kidili, Ahau-Kin, Ixbalanque, Ixchel, Tilion, Si, Yoołgai asdząąn, Mani, Papare, Madonna Oriente, Aglibol, Pah, Mah, Mayari, Men, Avatea, Fati, Ina, Hina-Kega, Hina-Uri, Lona, Mahina, Marama, Sina, Ul, Arebati, Diana, Luna, Terah, Dapie, Myesyats, The Zorya, Nanna, Udó, Bendis, Ari, Selardi, Kalfu, Teshub, Adad, Hadad, Tarhunt, Zeus, Jupiter, Summanus, Brontes, Indra, Parjanya, Taranis, Ambisagrus, Leucetios, Þunraz, Þunor, Donar, Þórr, Thor, Perkunos, Perkunas, Per(k)un, Perëndi, Gebeleizis, Zibelthiurdos, Ukko, Perkele, Horagalles, Aplu, Lei Gong, Ajisukitakahikone, Raijin, Tenjin (kami), Susanoo, Thunderbird, Xolotl, Chaac, Apocatequil, Cocijo, Aktzin, Jasso, Haokah, Tupã, Set, Shango, Oya, Azaka-Tonnerre, Mulungu, Xevioso, Xewioso, Heviosso, Haikili, Tawhaki, Kaha'i, Uira, Vayu, Anemoi, Boreas, Notus, Eurus, Zephyrus, Venti, Anemoi, Fūjin, Njord, Norðri, Suðri, Austri, Vestri, four stags of Yggdrasil, Stribog, Atum, El, Elohim, Kamui, Izanagi, Izanami, Mbombo, Unkulunkulu, Vishwakarman, Ranginui, Hathor, Ra, Helios, Sol Invictus, Surya, Amaterasu, Sól, Gaia, Inanna, Amaterasu, Odin, Tyr, Horus, Awondo, Nyambi, Tonatiuh, Amun, Wadjet, Sekhmet, Hathor, Nut, Bast, Bat, Menhit, Isis, Chalchiuhtlicue, Tlaloc, Savitr, Adityas, Karna, Kunti, Mithras, Brahma, Allah, Pangu, Demeter, Persephone, Hermes, Hecate, Heracles, Hecate, Chaos, Aether, Uranus, Hemera, Chronos, Eros, Nyx, Erebus, Ophion, Tartarus, Poseidon, Apollo, Ares, Hephaestus, Dionysus, Hera, Aphrodite, Oceanids, Pontus, Nereids, Naiads, Hades, Iacchus, Trophonius, Triptolemus, Erinyes, Athena, Nereus, Atlas, Hestia, Tethys, Mnemosyne, Themis, Iapetus, Sunna, Svarog, Triton, Proteus, Phorcys, Helead, Anapos, Aegir, Nerthus, Rán, Manannán mac Lir, Dylan Eil Ton, Manawydan, Llŷr, Nabia, Nabia, Mazu, Idliragijenget, Sedna, Aipaloovik, Arnapkapfaaluk, Bangpūtys, Susanoo, Ryūjin, Watatsumi, Repun Kamui, Tangaroa, Nyami Nyami, Varuna, Yemaja, Davy Jones, Ochún, Mami Wata, Breksta, Nótt, Ratri, Shalim, Tezcatlipoca, The Zorya, Cyclopes, Anulap, Coeus, Erlang Shen, Fabulinus, Mímir, Ogma, Omoikane, Saraswati, Frigg, Cofgodas, Lares, Gabija, Bes, Ekwu, Chantico, Berehynia, Matka Gabia, Hob, Heinzelmännchen, Tomte, Brownie, Kobold, Domovoi, Cybele, Dione, Ninhursag, Tiamat, Ninsun, Asherah, `Ashtart, Ishtar, Çatalhöyük, Potnia theron, Juno, Frau Holle, Umai, Mahimata, Durga, Devi, Aditi, Kali, Krishna, Yashoda, Yaganmatri, Mary, Jesus, Triple Goddess, Jord, Lakshmi, Sita, Parvati, Navadurga, Ganesha, Murugan, Hanugan, Indra, Deva, Shiva, Matrikas, Sati, Freyja, Opis, Saturn, Tawaret, Brigid, Dyaus Pita, Dyeus, God the Father, Aizen Myō-ō, Albina, Anteros, Astarte, Astrild, Cliodhna, Freyr, Himerus, Huehuecoyotl, Hymenaios, Milda, Kamadeva, Peitho, Prende, Qandisa, Turan, Venus, Xochipilli, Ayao, Izanami, Larentina, Eingana, Morrígan, Belet-Seri, Gefjun, Hel, Meng Po, Loviatar, Chicomecoatl, Cihuacoatl, Alaisiagae, Dea Tacita, Mana Genita, Maman Brigitte, Proserpina, Nephthys, Neith, Naenia, Tuonetar, Yami, Miru, Ereshkigal, Itzpapalotl, Ixtab, Marzanna, Mania, Melinoe, Rohe, Merau, Keres, Kalma, Kebechet, Ah Puch, Anubis, Charon, Hapi, Acolnahuacatl, Baron Samedi, Daiske, Mictlantecuhtli, Jabru, Supay, Varuna, Dis Pater, Batara Kala, Imset, Viduus, Eshu, Flins, Osiris, Yama, Peklenc, Qebehsenuef, Andjety, Aken, Imiut fetish, Ta'xet, Saa, Tuoni, Wepwawet, Wōden, Whiro, Degei, Enma, Nga, Seker, Pluto, Picollus, Peklenc, Orkus, Duamutef, Donn, Aker, Agrona, Alaisiagae, Anann, Ankt, Anat, Cariocecus, Cocidius, Camulus, Brigantia, Boudihillia, Bellona, Ekchuah, Ffraid, Honos, Ekchuah, Chi You, Indra, Maahes, Macha, Laran, Kukailimoku, Hadúr, Mextli, Neit, Nike, Nemain, Rudianos, Segomo, Ricagumbeda, Resheph, Perun, Oro, Set, Trebaruna, Victoria, Vacuna, Sopdu, Smertios, Ogoun, Neith, Menrva, Mars, Enyo, Jeebo, Jengu, Waaq, Amlak, Jah, Ngai, Mwari, Nyadenga, Musikavanhu, Brekyirihunuade, Kwaku Ananse, Anansi, Asase Ya, Bia, Agé, Da, Gbadu, Gleti, Gu, Logo, Lisa, Mawu, Nana, Buluku, Zinsi, Xevioso, Abassi, Atai, Ala, Adroa, Adroanzi, Mantis, Prishiboro, Ajok, Tsui’goab, Gamab, Heitsi-eibib, Sakpata, Arebati, Chiuta, Nana, Babalu Aye, Olorun, Ozain, Khonvoum, Iemanja, Tharapita, Oxossi, Orunmila, Two Ladies, Cleopatra, Tefnut, Satis, Khnum, Anuket, Heket, Mut, Ammit, Aten, Apis, Apep, Hapy, Iusaaset, Heget, Kuk, Mafdet, Meretseger, Khepry, Mnevis, Naunet, Nekhbet, Menthu, Min, Ptah, Reshep, Satis, Selket, Sobek, Seshat, Qebui, Swenet, Wadj-wer, Wosret, Shu, Bmola, Azeban, Gitche Manitou, Gyhldeptis, Lagua, Kokopelli, Aholi, Nankil'slas, Malsumis, Tabaldak, Angwusnasomtaka, Muyingwa, Koyangwuti, Airesekui, Heng, Iosheka, Taiowa, Nanook, Nerrivik, Pinga, Torngasoak, Kewkwaxa'we, Niskam, Estanatelhi, Glispa, Tonenili, Tsohanoai, Yolkai Estasan, Canopus, Whope, Wi, Haokah, Onatha, Hahgwehdiyu, Gendenwitha, Gaol, Adekagagwaa, Gohone, Hastshehogan, Eagentci, Hagones, Hawenniyo, Kaakwha, Amotken, Sila, Nuliajuk, Atlaua, Atlacoya, Chicomecoatl, Citlalicue, Cochimetl, Chiconahui, Chalmecatecuchtlz, Chalchiuhtotoliq, Camaxtli, Amimitl, Mayahuel, Mixcoatl, Matlalceuitl, Macuilmalinalli, Macuiltochtli, Patecatl, Paynal, Temazcalteci, Oxomoco, Tlaloc, Tonacatecuhtli, Tonatiuh, Xochiquetzal, Chicomecoatl, Yacatecuhtli, Ah Ciliz, Alom *PV*, Balam, Chaac *L*, Colel Cab, Cum Hau, Ekchuah, Colop U Uichkin, Cizin, Hun Hunahpu, Hun-nal-ye, Hunab Ku, Huraqan, Ixtab, Kinich Ahau, Kinich Kakmo, Qaholom, Tohil, Vucub-Caquix, Yaluk, Zipacna, Votan, Apocatequil, Cavillace, Ataguchu, Ekkeko, Illapa, Inti, Kon, Mama Pacha, Mama Zara, Pacha Camac, Paricia, Mama Allpa, Viracocha, Urcuchillay, Illapa, Coniraya, Cavillace, Arasy, Tupã, Teju Jagua, Mbói Tu'ĩ, Moñái, Jasy Jatere, Kurupi, Ao Ao, Luison, Bondye, Loas, Erinle, Nana Buluku, Obà, Aganju, Eshu/Legba, Orunmila, Shango, An, Enlil, Enki, Ashur, Inanna, Nanna, Ninurta, Marduk, Ki, Utu, Shamash, Nergal, Adramelech, Nimrod, As Shalla, Oannes, Samnuha, Kubaba, Adonis, Anat, Chemosh, Derceto, Melqart, YHWH, Elyon, Astarte, Moloch, Resheph, Yam, Yarikh, Qetesh, Amurru, Ereshkigal, Lahmu, Mummu, Amesha Spentas, Ahuras, Angra Mainyu, Tarhunt, Kumarbi, Pegasus, Kushuh, Ea, Shimegi, Hebat, Mitra, Varuna, Atys, Hipta, Lukos, Pldans, Omfalē, Asterios, Anax, Artimus, Damasēn, Gugaie/Guge/Gugaia, Kandaulēs, Kaustros, Moxus, Mēles, Hullos, Bacchus, Hucau, Uastyrdzhi, Uacilla, Safa, Donbettir, Tutyr, Fælværa, Æfsati, Kurdalægon, Satana, Saubarag, Huyændon Ældar, Kutkh, Tengri, Ame-no-Uzume, Amaterasu-Ō-Mi-Kami, Ame-no-Koyane, Fūjin, Hachiman, Hachiman, Inari, Izanagi, Izanami, Omoikane, Raijin, Ryūjin, Sukuna-Biko-Na, Susanoo-no-Mikoto, Tenjin,Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto, Rama, Rudra, Bathala, Bakunawa, Kan-Laon, Mangindusa, Altjira, Anjea, Bagadjimbiri, Baiame, Banaitja, Bamapana, Bunjil, Dilga, Eingana, Gnowee, Julunggul, Karora, Pundjel, Numakulla, Kunapipi, Mangar-kunjer-kunja, Wuriupranili, Rhiannon, Sabazios, Zalmoxis, Darzalas, Kotys, Fufluns, Laran, Selvans, Tinia, Turms, Wōdanaz, Donar, Nerþuz, Frījō, Fullō, Ermunaz, Wulþuz, Boldogasszony, Hadúr, Abiafelaesurraecus, Albucelainco, Ataegina, Debaroni, Dominus Cusus Neneoecus, Coso, Cabar, Coniumbricenses, Igaedo, Nabia, Dercetius, Luruni, Ocaere, Moelio, Luruni, Laepo, Laho, Vestio, Saur, Trebaruna, Tongoe, Miraro, Erbina, Epona, Edovio, Quirinus, Belobog, Cislobog, Crnobog, Dajbog, Hors, Jarilo, Juthrbog, Perun, Podaga, Marowit, Radegast, Stribog, Svarog, Triglav, Vesna, Zirnitra

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Little Help From My Friends

I'm sure that with enough brainwashing and blind faith there are ways for the more devout believer to brush off the magnitude of the quotes below. Perhaps he'll say he needs more context. Perhaps she'll say that the argument presented is one-sided. Perhaps, in quiet denial and defiance, he will simply close this page resigned to remain proudly ignorant. The way I see it, these are the words of many of the greatest thinkers of recorded history. Its almost 2009. Its really time we turn on our minds. God is an addiction from which we must break free.


Abraham Lincoln
-- 1809-1865 (Sixteenth President of the United States)
  • "The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma."
  • “It will not do to investigate the subject of religion too closely, as it is apt to lead to Infidelity.”
  • “My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them.”
Albert Einstein -- 1879-1955 (Theoretical Physicist and Nobel Laureate)
  • "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religion than it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."
  • "I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own -- a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism."
Plato -- 428-348 BC (Classical Greek Philosopher, mentor of Aristotle, and student of Socrates)
  • “For though a man should be a complete unbeliever in the being of gods; if he also has a native uprightness of temper, such persons will detest evil in men; their repugnance to wrong disinclines them to commit wrongful acts; they shun the unrighteous and are drawn to the upright.”
Thomas Jefferson -- 1743-1826 (Architect, Inventor, Archaeologist, Founding Father, Author of the Declaration of Independence, Political Philosopher, Third President of the United States, and Founder of the University of Virginia)
  • “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.”
  • “The hocus-pocus phantasy of a God, like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs.”
  • "The Christian god can easily be pictured as virtually the same god as the many ancient gods of past civilizations. The Christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious. If one wishes to know more of this raging, three headed beast-like god, one only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites."
  • "Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man."
  • "Religions are all alike – founded upon fables and mythologies."
  • "And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors."
Siddharta [Buddha] -- 563-483 BCE (Spiritual Teacher and Founder of Buddhism)
  • "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it .. or who said it .. no matter if I have said it .. unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."
  • “Doubt everything. Find your own light.”
  • “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions only because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
Benjamin Franklin -- 1706-1790 (American Founding Father, Author, Printer, Satirist, Political Theorist, Diplomat, Statesman, Scientist, Enlightenment Figure, Inventor, Activist, and Founder of the American Public Library)
  • "I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absenteed myself from Christian assemblies."
  • "Lighthouses are more helpful then churches."
  • “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason: The Morning Daylight appears plainer when you put out your Candle.”
  • “Many a long dispute among divines may be thus abridged: It is so; It is not so. It is so; it is not so.”
Gandhi -- 1869-1948 (Spiritual Leader of India and Pioneer of Civil Disobedience)
  • “The most heinous and the most cruel crimes of which history has record have been committed under the cover of religion or equally noble motives.”
  • “Do you think I am superstitious? I am a super-atheist.”
  • “The concepts of truth may differ. But all admit and respect truth. That truth I call God. For sometime I was saying, "God is Truth," but that did not satisfy me. So now I say, ‘Truth is God.’”
Upton Sinclair -- 1878-1968 (Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author of ‘The Jungle’)
  • “There are a score of great religions in the world, each with scores or hundreds of sects, each with its priestly orders, its complicated creed and ritual, its heavens and hells. Each has its thousands or millions or hundreds of millions of "true believers"; each damns all the others with more or less heartiness -- and each is a mighty fortress of graft.”
Henry David Thoreau -- 1817-1862 (American Transcendentalist, Philosopher, Naturalist, and Author of ‘Walden’ and ‘Civil Disobedience’)
  • "There is more religion in men's science than there is science in their religion."
Andrew Carnegie -- 1835-1919 (Industrialist, Philanthropist, and founder of Carnegie Mellon)
  • "I don’t believe in God. My god is patriotism. Teach a man to be a good citizen and you have solved the problem of life."
Blessed Mother Teresa -- 1910-1997 (Albanian Catholic Nun and Nobel Laureate)
  • "Where is my faith? Even deep down… there is nothing but emptiness and darkness... If there be God — please forgive me."
  • “Such deep longing for God… Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal.”
  • "If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true."
  • “In my own soul, I feel the terrible pain of this loss. I feel that God does not want me, that God is not God and that he does not really exist.”
Pope Pius XII -- 1876-1958 (Leader of the Roman Catholic Church 1939-1958)
  • “Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid ... research and discussions ... with regard to the doctrine of evolution.”
Max Planck -- 1858-1947 (German Physicist, Nobel Laureate, and Founder of Quantum Theory)
  • “Religion belongs to that realm that is inviolable before the law of causation and therefore is closed to science.”
  • “An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out and that the growing generation is familiarized with the idea from the beginning.”
Richard Dawkins -- 1941- (British Ethologist, Evolutionary Biologist, Popular Science Writer, and Oxford Professor)
  • “We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.”
Gertrude Stein -- 1874-1946 (American Author and Poet)
  • “There ain’t no answer. There ain’t going to be any answer. There never has been an answer. That’s the answer.”
Edgar Allen Poe -- 1809-1849 (American Poet, Editor, and Author)
  • “The idea of God, infinity, or spirit stands for the possible attempt at an impossible conception.”
  • “No man who ever lived knows any more about the hereafter ... than you and I; and all religion ... is simply evolved out of chicanery, fear, greed, imagination and poetry.”
Noam Chomsky -- 1928- (American Linguist, Philosopher, Cognitive Scientist, Author, and Political Activist)
  • “It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and expose lies . . . as for the various religions, there’s no doubt that they are very meaningful to adherents, and allow them to delude themselves into thinking there is some meaning to their lives beyond what we agree is the case.”
Blaise Pascal -- 1623-1662 (French Physicist, Mathematician, and Religious Philosopher)
  • “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”
George Orwell -- 1903-1950 (English Author of ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘1984’)
  • “In 1984, the concept of Big Brother is a parody of God. You never see him, but the fact of him is drilled into people’s minds that they become robots, almost. Plus . . . If you speak bad against Big Brother, it’s a Thought-crime.”
  • “One defeats a fanatic precisely by not being a fanatic oneself, but on the contrary by using one’s intelligence.”
  • “What can you do against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?”
  • “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
Jean Jacques Rousseau -- 1712-1778 (Genevan Enlightenment Philosopher, Writer, and Composer)
  • “Christ preaches only servitude and dependence.... True Christians are made to be slaves.”
Robert Frost -- 1874-1963 (Pulitzer Prize-Winning American Poet)
  • “I turned to speak to God, About the world’s despair; But to make bad matters worse, I found God wasn’t there.”
  • “Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee, And I'll forgive Thy great big one on me.”
P.T. Barnum -- 1810-1891 (American Showman and Founder of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus)
  • “The orthodox faith painted God as a revengeful being, and yet people talk about loving such a being.”
Francis Bacon -- 1561-1626 (English Philosopher, Statesman, Scientist, Lawyer, Jurist, Author, Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England)
  • “Atheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation; all of which may be guides to an outward moral virtue, even if religion vanished; but religious superstition dismounts all these and erects an absolute monarchy in the minds of men.”
  • “Truth can never be reached by just listening to the voice of an authority.”
  • “Knowledge is power. (Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est.)”
Aldous Huxley -- 1894-1963 (English Writer, Humanist, Pacifist, and Intellectual)
  • "You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, intelligent enough."
  • “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
  • “Maybe this world is just another planet's hell.”
Robert Pirsig -- 1928- (American Philosopher and Author of ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’)
  • "When one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity; when many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion."
Isaac Asimov -- 1920-1992 (American Physicist and Science-Fiction Author)
  • "I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say that one is an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or agnostic. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time."
  • “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.”
  • “If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul.”
Mikhail Gorbachev -- 1931- (Russian Politician, General Secretary of the Communist Party of The Soviet Union, and Final Head of the USSR)
  • "Nature is my god."
Marie Curie -- 1867-1934 (Polish Physicist, Chemist, Nobel Laureate, and Pioneer in Radioactivity)
  • “[Pierre Curie]. . .belonged to no religion and I did not practice any.”
Kurt Vonnegut -- 1922-2007 (American Author of ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’, ‘Cat’s Cradle’, and ‘Breakfast of Champions,’ and Honorary President of the American Humanist Association)
  • “Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile.”
Ernest Hemingway -- 1899-1961 (Pulitzer Prize-Winning American Writer, French Expatriate, WWI Veteran, and Nobel Laureate)
  • "All thinking men are atheists."

Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso -- 1935- (Spiritual Leader of Tibet)
  • “God in the sense of Creator or something absolute, that is difficult to accept.”
Carl Sagan -- 1934-1996 (American Astronomer, Astrochemist, Author, Astronomer, Natural Scientist and SETI Promoter)
  • "My view is that if there is no evidence for it, then forget about it. An agnostic is somebody who doesn't believe in something until there is evidence for it, so I'm agnostic."
  • “The method of science is tried and true. It is not perfect, it's just the best we have. And to abandon it, with it's skeptical protocols is the pathway to a dark age.”
  • “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
Steven Pinker -- 1954- (Canadian-American Psychologist, Cognitive Scientist, and Popular Science Writer)
  • “I never outgrew my conversion to atheism at 13, but at various times was a serious cultural Jew.”
Daniel Dennett -- 1942- (American Philosopher)
  • “God is like Santa Claus, a myth of childhood, not anything a sane, undeluded adult could literally believe in. That God must either be turned into a symbol for something less concrete or abandoned altogether.”
Ayn Rand -- 1905-1982 (Russian-American Novelist, Philosopher, Playwright, and Screenwriter)
  • "Faith is the commitment of one's consciousness to beliefs for which one has no sensory evidence or rational proof. A mystic is a man who treats his feelings as tools of cognition. Faith is the equation of feeling with knowledge."
Bertrand Russell -- 1872-1970 (British Philosopher, Logician, Mathematician, Historian, Social Activist, and Pacifist)
  • "I am myself a dissenter from all known religions, and I hope that every kind of religious belief will die out."
  • "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts."
  • "We may define faith as the firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. Where there is evidence, no one speaks of faith. We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence."
  • “One is often told that it is a very wrong thing to attack religion, because religion makes men virtuous. So I am told; I have not noticed it.”
Dr. Francis Crick -- 1916-2004 (English Molecular Biologist, Physicist, Neuroscientist, Nobel Laureate, and Co-Discoverer of DNA)
  • “If revealed religions have revealed anything it is that they are usually wrong.”
  • “A knowledge of the true age of the earth and of the fossil record makes it impossible for any balanced intellect to believe in the literal truth of every part of the Bible in the way that fundamentalists do. And if some of the Bible is manifestly wrong, why should any of the rest of it be accepted automatically?”
Lucretius -- 99-55 BC (Roman Poet and Philosopher)
  • "Nature does all things spontaneously, by herself, without the meddling of the gods."
George Carlin -- 1937-2008 (American Comedian)
  • "Religion is just mind control."
  • “I would never want to be a member of a group whose symbol was a guy nailed to two pieces of wood.”
  • “And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn’t want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer, and burn, and scream, until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you. He loves you and he needs money.”
  • “If this is the best God can do, I'm not impressed.”
Grover Cleveland -- 1837-1908 (22nd and 24th President of the United States)
  • “I know that human prejudice -- especially that growing out of race and religion -- is cruelly inveterate and lasting.”
Cicero -- 106-43 BC (Roman Statesman, Lawyer, Orator, Political Theorist, Philosopher, and Roman Constitutionalist)
  • “In this subject of the nature of the gods the first question is: do the gods exist or do they not? It is difficult, you will say, to deny that they exist. I would agree, if we were arguing the matter in a public assembly, but in a private discussion of this kind it is perfectly easy to do so.”
Voltaire -- 1694-1778 (French Enlightenment Writer and Philosopher)
  • "Every sensible man, every honorable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror."
  • "Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense.”
  • “The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reasoning.”
Epicurus -- 341-270 BCE (Greek Philosopher and Founder of Epicureanism)
  • “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is God both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
  • “If the gods listened to the prayers of men, all humankind would quickly perish since they constantly pray for many evils to befall one another.”
Rev. Jerry Falwell -- 1933-2007 (American Evangelical Christian Pastor, Televangelist, Conservative Pastor, and Founder of Liberty University)
  • “I feel most ministers who claim they've heard God's voice are eating too much pizza before they go to bed at night, and it's really an intestinal disorder, not a revelation.”
Charles Darwin -- 1809-1882 (English Naturalist and Father of Modern Biology)
  • “Generally an agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind.”
  • “I am aware that the assumed instinctive belief in God has been used by many persons as an argument for his existence. The idea of a universal and beneficent Creator does not seem to arise in the mind of man, until he has been elevated by long-continued culture.”
  • “When I view all beings not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Cambrian system was deposited, they seem to me to become ennobled.”
  • “It appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against Christianity and theism produce hardly any effect on the public; and freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men's minds which follows from the advance of science.”
  • "I do not believe in any revelation. As for a future life, every man must judge for himself between conflicting vague probabilities."
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle -- 1859-1930 (Scottish Author and Creator of Sherlock Holmes)
  • “It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgement. Insensibly, one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.”
  • “Dogmas of every kind put assertion in the place of reason and give rise to more contention, bitterness, and want of charity than any other influence in human affairs.”
Emily Dickinson -- 1830-1886 (American Poet)
  • “Faith is Doubt.”
Sir Julian Huxley -- 1887-1975 (English Evolutionary Biologist, Humanist, and Internationalist)
  • “The sense of spiritual relief, which comes from rejecting the idea of God as a supernatural being, is enormous.”
René Descartes -- 1596-1650 (French Philosopher, Mathematician, Scientist, and Writer)
  • “The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest men of past centuries.”
Demosthenes -- 384-322 BC (Greek Statesman, Lawyer, Logographer, and Orator)
  • “A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true.”
Galileo Galilei -- 1564-1642 (Tuscan Physicist, Mathematician, Astronomer, Philosopher, Scientific Revolutionary, Father of Modern Science, Father of Physics, and the Father of Astronomy)
  • "They know that it is human nature to take up causes whereby a man may oppress his neighbor, no matter how unjustly. ... Hence they have had no trouble in finding men who would preach the damnability and heresy of the new doctrine from the very pulpit."
  • “You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself."
  • “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”
  • “In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.”
Nietzsche -- 1844-1900 (German Philosopher and Classical Philologist)
  • “Faith means not wanting to know what is true."
  • "The most serious parody I have ever heard was this: In the beginning was nonsense, and the nonsense was with God, and the nonsense was God."
  • "A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything."
  • “Christianity was from the beginning, essentially and fundamentally, life's nausea and disgust with life, merely concealed behind, masked by, dressed up as, faith in "another" or "better" life.”
  • “What is it: is man only a blunder of God, or God only a blunder of man?”
George Bernard Shaw -- 1856-1950 (Irish Playwright and Orator)
  • "The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one."
  • "No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means."
Ethan Allen -- 1738-1789 (American Revolutionary and Guerilla Leader)
  • “I have generally been denominated a Deist, the reality of which I never disputed, being conscious I am no Christian, except mere infant baptism makes me one; and as to being a Deist, I know not strictly speaking, whether I am one or not.”
Rev. Doctor Bird Wilson -- 1777-1862 (Post-Founding Episcopalian Minister)
  • "The founders of our nation were nearly all Infidels, and that of the presidents who had thus far been elected [Washington; Adams; Jefferson; Madison; Monroe; Adams; Jackson] not a one had professed a belief in Christianity....Among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism."
John Quincy Adams -- 1767-1848 (Sixth President of the United States)
  • “There is in the clergy of all Christian denominations a time-serving, cringing, subservient morality, as wide from the spirit of the gospel as it is from the intrepid assertion and vindication of truth.”
Robert Oppenheimer -- 1904-1967 (American Theoretical Physicist and Scientific Director of the Manhattan Project)
  • “There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry. There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors.”
Helen Keller -- 1880-1968 (Deaf-Blind American Author and Activist)
  • "There is so much in the bible against which every instinct of my being rebels, so much so that I regret the necessity which has compelled me to read it through from beginning to end. I do not think that the knowledge I have gained of its history and sources compensates me for the unpleasant details it has forced upon my attention."
Vladimir Nabokov -- 1899-1977 (Russian Novelist)
  • “The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.”
Herman Melville -- 1819-1891 (American Novelist, Short Story Writer, Essayist, and Poet)
  • “I'll try a pagan friend, thought I, since Christian kindness has turned out to be hollow courtesy.”
Sir Isaac Newton -- 1643-1727 (English Physicist, Astronomer, Mathematician, Natural Philosopher, Alchemist, and Theologian)
  • “If the ancient churches, in debating and deciding the greatest mysteries of religion, knew nothing of these two texts, I understand not why we should be so fond of them now the debate is over.”
  • “I know not how I seem to others, but to myself I am but a small child wandering upon the vast shores of knowledge, every now and then finding a small bright pebble to content myself with while the vast ocean of undiscovered truth lay before me.”
James Madison -- 1751-1836 (Fourth President of the United States and Founding Father)
  • "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution."
  • "In no instance have the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people."
  • “Ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects.”
John Adams -- 1735-1826 (Second President of the United States and Founding Father)
  • "The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity."
  • "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it."
John Locke -- 1632-1704 (English Philosopher and Enlightenment Thinker)
  • "Every sect as far as reason will help them, gladly use it; when it fails them, they cry out it is a matter of faith, and beyond reason."
  • “New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.”
Lucius Annucus Seneca -- 4 BC-AD 65 (Roman Philosopher, Statesman, Dramatist, and Tutor and Advisor to Nero)
  • “Religion is considered by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.”
Christopher Hitchens -- 1949- (British American Author, Journalist, and Literary Critic)
  • “What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.”
Karl Marx -- 1818-1883 (German Philosopher, Political Economist, Historian, Sociologist, Humanist, Political Theorist, Revolutionary, and Founder of Communism)
  • "The wretchedness of religion is at once an expression and a protest against real wretchedness. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the feeling of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of unspiritual conditions. It is the opium of the people."
Andy Rooney -- 1919- (American Radio and Television Writer, Humorist, and Commentator)
  • “I am an atheist. I don't understand religion at all. I'm sure I'll offend a lot of people by saying this, but I think it's all nonsense.”
Gore Vidal -- 1925- (American Novelist, Screenwriter, Playwright, Essayist, and Politician)
  • “Once people get hung up on theology, they’ve lost sanity forever. More people have been killed in the name of Jesus Christ than any other name in the history of the world.”
  • “I'm a born-again atheist.”
  • “Once people get hung up on theology, they've lost sanity forever. More people have been killed in the name of Jesus Christ than any other name in the history of the world.”
Leo Tolstoy -- 1828-1910 (Russian Novelist)
  • "To regard Christ as God, and to pray to him, are to my mind the greatest possible sacrilege."
  • “Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking; where it is absent, discussion is apt to become worse than useless.”
Protagoras -- 490-420 BC (Greek Philosopher)
  • “As to the gods, I have no means of knowing either that they exist or do not exist.”
Federico Fellini -- 1920-1993 (Italian Film Director)
  • “Like many people, I have no religion, and I am just sitting in a small boat drifting with the tide.”
Pearl S. Buck -- 1892-1973 (American Sinologist, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Writer, and Nobel Laureate)
  • ”When men destroy their old gods they will find new ones to take their place.”
  • “Believing in gods always causes confusion.”
Napoleon Bonaparte -- 1769-1821 (First Consul of the First French Republic and Emperor of the First French Empire)
  • "Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet."
  • "All religions have been made by men."
  • “As for myself, I do not believe that such a person as Jesus Christ ever existed; but as the people are inclined to superstition, it is proper not to oppose them.”
James Joyce -- 1882-1941 (Irish Expatriate Author)
  • "For me there is only one alternative to scholasticism -- skepticism."
Hippocrates -- 460-370 BC (Greek Physician and Father of Medicine)
  • “Men think epilepsy divine, merely because they do not understand it.... We will one day understand what causes it, and then cease to call it divine. And so it is with everything in the universe.”
John Lennon -- 1940-1980 (English Singer, Songwriter, Actor, and Peace Activist)
  • "Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try, no hell below us, above us only sky.”
  • "God is a concept by which we measure our pain.”
George W. Bush -- 1946- (Forty-Third President of the United States)
  • “Americans practice different faiths in churches, synagogues, mosques and temples. And many good people practice no faith at all.”
Thomas Hobbes -- 1588-1679 (English Philosopher and Modern Founder of the Social Contract Theory)
  • “Religions are like pills, which must be swallowed whole without chewing.”
  • “Fear of power invisible, feigned by the mind or imagined from tales publicly allowed, [is] religion; not allowed, superstition.”
Victor Hugo -- 1802-1885 (French Poet, Playwright, Novelist, Essayist, Statesman, Activist, and Exponent of the French Romance)
  • “There shall be no slavery of the mind.”
  • “Every step which the intelligence of Europe has taken has been in spite of the clerical party.”
  • “The true division of humanity is between those who live in light and those who live in darkness. Our aim must be to diminish the number of the latter and increase the number of the former. That is why we demand education and knowledge.”
Frank Lloyd Wright -- 1867-1959 (American Architect, Interior Designer, Writer, and Educator)
  • "I believe in God, only I spell it Nature."
Lord Byron -- 1788-1824 (British Poet and Leading Figure in Romanticism)
  • “If I am fool, it is, at least, a doubting one; and I envy no one the certainty of his self-approved wisdom.”
  • “I do not believe in any revealed religion. I will have nothing to do with your immortality; we are miserable enough in this life, without the absurdity of speculating upon another.”
  • “We have fools in all sects, and impostors in most; why should I believe mysteries no one can understand, because written by men who chose to mistake madness for inspiration and style themselves Evangelicals?”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe -- 1749-1832 (German Polymath)
  • “Strictly speaking, you only know when you know little. Doubt grows with knowledge.”
  • “We are so constituted that we believe the most incredible things: and, once they are engraved upon the memory, woe to him who would endeavor to erase them.”
  • “The web of this world is woven of Necessity and Chance. Woe to him who has accustomed himself from his youth up to find something necessary in what is capricious, and who would ascribe something like reason to Chance and make a religion of surrendering to it.”
Warren G Harding -- 1865-1923 (Twenty-Ninth President of the United States)
  • “In the experiences of a year of the Presidency, there has come to me no other such unwelcome impression as the manifest religious intolerance which exists among many of our citizens. I hold it to be a menace to the very liberties we boast and cherish.”
Stanley Kubrick -- 1928-1999 (American Film Director, Screenwriter, and Producer)
  • “I will say that the God concept is at the heart of 2001 but not any traditional, anthropomorphic image of God. I don’t believe in any of Earth's monotheistic religions, but I do believe that one can construct an intriguing scientific definition of God, once you accept the fact that there are approximately 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone, that each star is a life-giving sun and that there are approximately 100 billion galaxies in just the visible universe.”
Charles Bukowski -- 1920-1944 (German American Poet, Novelist, and Short Story Writer)
  • “For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can't readily accept the God formula, the big answers don't remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command or faith a dictum. I am my own God. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state and our education system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”
Mark Twain -- 1835-1910 (American Author and Humorist)
  • “A man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows.”
  • "Faith is believing something you know ain’t true."
  • "If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be -- a Christian."
  • "If there is a God, he is a malign thug."
  • "It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand."
  • “When one reads Bibles, one is less surprised at what the Deity knows than at what He doesn't know.”
Sam Harris -- 1967- (American Non-Fiction Writer and Philosopher)
  • “It is safe to say that almost every person living in New Orleans at the moment Hurricane Katrina struck shared your belief in an omnipotent, omniscient, and compassionate God. But what was God doing while Katrina laid waste to their city? Surely He heard the prayers of those elderly men and women who fled the rising waters for the safety of their attics, only to be slowly drowned there. These were people of faith. These were good men and women who had prayed throughout their lives. Do you have the courage to admit the obvious? These people died talking to an imaginary friend.”
  • “120 million of us place the big bang 2,500 years after the Babylonians and Sumerians learned to brew beer.”
  • “The president of the United States has claimed, on more than one occasion, to be in dialogue with God. If he said that he was talking to God through his hairdryer, this would precipitate a national emergency. I fail to see how the addition of a hairdryer makes the claim more ridiculous or offensive.”
  • “Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply an admission of the obvious. In fact, "atheism" is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a "non-astrologer" or a "non-alchemist." We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs. An atheist is simply a person who believes that the 260 million Americans (87 percent of the population) claiming to "never doubt the extended of God" should be obliged to present evidence for his existence -- and, indeed, for his benevolence, given the relentless destruction of innocent human beings we witness in the world each day. An atheist is a person who believes that the murder of a single little girl -- once in a million years -- casts doubt upon the idea of a benevolent God.”
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard -- 1813-1855 (Danish Philosopher and Theologian)
  • “Christianity demands the crucifixion of the intellect.”
Steve Wozniak -- 1950- (American Computer Engineer and Co-Founder of Apple Inc.)
  • “I am also atheist or agnostic (I don't even know the difference). I've never been to church and prefer to think for myself.”
Bill Gates -- 1955- (American Business Magnate, Philanthropist, and Chairman of Microsoft)
  • “Oh, I guess agnostic, atheist: I must be one of those things.”
  • “I'm not somebody who goes to church on a regular basis. The specific elements of Christianity are not something I'm a huge believer in.”
  • "Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There's a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning."
Robert E. Lee -- 1807-1870 (US Army General and Governor of Virginia)
  • “Is it not strange that the descendants of those Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the Atlantic to preserve their own freedom of opinion have always proved themselves intolerant of the spiritual liberty of others?”
Christopher Reeve -- 1952-2004 (American Film Actor, ‘Superman’)
  • “Even though I don't personally believe in the Lord, I try to behave as though He was watching.”
Woody Allen -- 1935- (American Film Director, Writer, Actor, Comedian, and Playwright)
  • “Not only is there no god, but try getting a plumber on weekends.”
  • “How can I believe in God when just last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?”
James Buchanan -- 1791-1868 (Fifteenth President of the United States)
  • “I have seldom met an intelligent person whose views were not narrowed and distorted by religion.”
Henri Frederic Amiel -- 1821-1881 (Swiss Philosopher, Poet, and Critic)
  • “Emancipation from error is the condition of real knowledge.”
  • “A lively, disinterested, persistent liking for truth is extraordinarily rare. Action and faith enslave thought, both of them in order not to be troubled or inconvenienced by reflection, criticism or doubt.”
Carl Jung -- 1875-1961 (Swiss Psychiatrist and Founder of Analytical Psychology)
  • “The word "belief" is a difficult thing for me. I don’t believe. I must have a reason for a certain hypothesis. Either I know a thing, and then I know it -- I don’t need to believe it.”
Immanuel Kant -- 1724-1804 (German Philosopher and Enlightenment Thinker)
  • “The wish to talk to God is absurd. We cannot talk to one we cannot comprehend -- and we cannot comprehend God; we can only believe in Him. The uses of prayer are thus only subjective.”
  • “The death of dogma is the birth of morality.”
  • “Reason can never prove the existence of God.”
St. Thomas Aquinas -- 1225-1274 (Italian Catholic Priest, Theologian, and Philosopher)
  • “What can be accomplished by a few principles is not effected by many. But it seems that everything we see in the world can be accounted for by other principles, supposing God did not exist. For all natural things can be reduced to one principle, which is nature, and all voluntary things can be reduced to one principle, which is human reason, or will. Therefore there is no need to suppose God's existence.”
Robert Ingersoll -- 1833-1899 (Civil War Veteran, Political Leader, and Orator)
  • "The inspiration of the Bible depends on the ignorance of the person who reads it."
  • "Why should I allow that same God to tell me how to raise my kids, who had to drown His own?"
John Updike -- 1932- (Pulitzer Prize-Winning Writer and Critic)
  • “Whenever religion touches science, it gets burned. In the sixteen century astronomy, in the seventeenth microbiology, in the eighteenth geology and paleontology, in the nineteenth Darwin's biology all grotesquely extended the world-frame and sent churchmen scurrying for cover in ever smaller, more shadowy nooks, little gloomy ambiguous caves in the psyche where even now neurology is cruelly harrying them, gouging them out from the multifolded brain like wood lice from under the woodpile. Barth had been right: totaliter aliter. Only by placing God totally on the other side of the humanly understandable can any final safety for Him be secured.”
Susan B. Anthony -- 1820-1906 (American Civil Rights Leader and Suffragist)
  • "I was born a heretic. I always distrust people who know so much about what God wants them to do to their fellows."
Vincent Van Gogh -- 1853-1890 (Dutch Post-Impressionist Artist)
  • "I can very well do without God both in my life and in my painting, but I cannot, suffering as I am, do without something which is greater than I am, which is my life, the power to create."
William Howard Taft -- 1857-1930 (Chief Justice, Governor General of the Philippines, Secretary of War, and Twenty-Seventh President of the United States)
  • "I do not believe in the divinity of Christ, and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe."
Aristophanes -- 446-386 BCE (Greek Comic Playwright known as the Father of Comedy)
  • “Shrines! Shrines! Surely you don't believe in the gods. What's your argument? Where's your proof?”
Pope John Paul II -- 1920-2005 (Catholic Pope)
  • “Today, almost half a century after the publication of the Encyclical [of Pius IX], new knowledge has led to the recognition in the theory of evolution of more than a hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favor of this theory.”
Aristotle -- 384-322 BC (Greek Philosopher, Student of Plato, and Teacher of Alexander the Great)
  • “Men create gods after their own image, not only with regard to their form but with regard to their mode of life.”
  • “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
  • “Prayers and sacrifices are of no avail.”
Larry King -- 1933- (American Television and Radio Host)
  • “I remember always questioning the Bible. I thought the God of the Bible was vindictive and petty -- that "smite my enemies" and "pray only to me" stuff. I couldn't accept faith blindly, which you were required to do as an Orthodox Jew. The older I got, the less religious I got.”
Thomas Edison -- 1847-1931 (American Inventor and Businessman)
  • "Religion is all bunk."
  • “There is no expedient to which a man will not go to avoid the real labor of thinking.”
  • “Incurably religious, that is the best way to describe the mental condition of so many people.”
  • “I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious theories of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson -- 1803-1882 (American Essayist, Philosopher, Poet, and Transcendentalist Movement Leader)
  • “We must get rid of that Christ, we must get rid of that Christ!”
  • “The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next.”
T.S. Eliot -- 1888-1965 (British American Poet, Dramatist, Literary Critic, and Nobel Laureate)
  • “Human kind cannot bear very much reality.”
  • “To justify Christian morality because it provides a foundation of morality, instead of showing the necessity of Christian morality from the truth of Christianity, is a very dangerous inversion.”
Thomas Paine -- 1737-1809 (English Revolutionary, Pamphleteer, Radical, Inventor, and Intellectual)
  • "The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall."
  • "Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind."
  • "All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."
Joseph Stalin -- 1878-1953 (General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s Central Committee)
  • "You know, they are fooling us, there is no God... all this talk about God is sheer nonsense."
Jared Diamond -- 1937- (American Evolutionary Biologist, Physiologist, Biogeographer, Lecturer, and Pulitzer Prize-Winning Nonfiction Writer)
  • “It is often government that organizes the conquest, and religion that justifies it.”
Dr James Watson -- 1928- (American Molecular Biologist, Nobel Laureate, and Co-Discoverer of DNA)
  • “I don’t think we’re anything, we’re just products of evolution. You can say ‘Gee, your life must be pretty bleak if you don’t think there’s a purpose’ but I’m anticipating a good lunch.”
  • “The luckiest thing that ever happened to me was that my father didn't believe in God, and so he had no hang-ups about souls. I see ourselves as products of evolution, which itself is a great mystery.”
  • “Today, the theory of evolution is an accepted fact for everyone but a fundamentalist minority, whose objections are based not on reasoning but on doctrinaire adherence to religious principles.”
Woodrow Wilson -- 1856-1924 (President of Princeton University and the Twenty-Eighth President of the United States)
  • “May it not suffice for me to say ... that of course like every other man of intelligence and education I do believe in organic evolution. It surprises me that at this late date such questions should be raised.”
Richard P Feynman -- 1918-1988 (American Physicist and Nobel Laureate)
  • “God was invented to explain mystery.”
  • “You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong.”
Charles Schulz -- 1922-2000 (American Cartoonist known for ‘Peanuts’)
  • “And those sickly-sweet images of invisible deceased grandparents looming protectively over the kids. Oh, I can't stand that. You could get diabetes reading them, couldn't you?”
  • “The term that best describes me now is ‘secular humanist.’”
Sigmund Freud -- 1856-1939 (Austrian-Jewish Psychiatrist and Founder of the Psychoanalytic School of Psychology)
  • "Neither in my private life nor in my writings, have I ever made a secret of being an out-and-out unbeliever. "
  • “The rest of our enquiry is made easy because this God-Creator is openly called Father. Psycho-analysis concludes that he really is the father, clothed in the grandeur in which he once appeared to the small child.”
Salman Rushdie -- 1947- (British Indian Novelist and Essayist)
  • “God, Satan, Paradise, and Hell all vanished one day in my fifteenth year, when I quite abruptly lost my faith . . . and afterwards, to prove my newfound atheism, I bought myself a rather tasteless ham sandwich . . . no thunderbolt arrived to strike me down . . . from that day to this I have thought of myself as a wholly secular person.”
  • “I don't think there is a need for an entity like God in my life.”
Oscar Wilde -- 1854-1900 (Irish Playwright, Poet, Short Story Writer, and Novelist)
  • "When I think of all the harm the Bible has done, I despair of ever writing anything to equal it."
  • “Truth, in matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived.”
Emile Zola -- 1840-1902 (French Writer, and Major Figure in the Political Liberalization of France)
  • “Has science ever retreated? No! It is Catholicism which has always retreated before her, and will always be forced to retreat.”
Virginia Woolf -- 1882-1941 (English Novelist and Essayist)
  • “I read the book of Job last night — I don't think God comes out well in it.”
Tennessee Williams -- 1911-1983 (Pulitzer Prize-Winning American Playwright)
  • “All your Western theologies, the whole mythology of them, are based on the concept of God as a senile delinquent.”
Thomas Henry Huxley -- 1825-1895 (English Biologist and Supporter of Charles Darwin)
  • "That it is wrong for a man to say he is certain of the objective truth of a proposition unless he can provide evidence which logically justifies that certainty. This is what agnosticism asserts and in my opinion, is all that is essential to agnosticism."
Archbishop Desmond Tutu -- 1931- (South African Cleric, Activist, and Nobel Laureate)
  • "God, we know you are in charge, but why don't you make it slightly more obvious?"
Charlie Chaplin -- 1889-1977 (Academy Award-Winning English Comedic Actor and Director)
  • "By simple common sense I don't believe in God."

Other notable Skeptics: Alfred Hitchcock, Democritus, Marlon Brando, Fidel Castro, Jean Luc Godard, Michael Crichton, Brian Eno, Mao Tse-tung, Francois Mitterrand, Arthur Miller, Randy Newman, Eddie Vedder, Roman Polanski, Ron Reagan Jr., Larry Flynt, Billy Bragg, Katharine Hepburn, Bruce Willis, Warren Buffett, Howard Hughes, Dave Matthews, Vic Chesnutt, Billy Joel, Paul Watson, Michael Stipe, Lance Armstrong, Ani DiFranco, Bob Geldof, Adam Carolla, David Cronenberg, John Malkovich, Ricky Gervais, Ira Glass, Bob Odenkirk, George Soros, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Antonio Banderas, Richard Dreyfuss, Richard Branson, Ted WIlliams, Henry Rollins, Matthew Sweet, Rodney Dangerfield, Janeane Garofalo, Micky Dolenz, Tom Lehrer, Bruce Lee, Angelina Jolie, Howard Stern, Vincent Bugliosi, Kathy Griffin, Bjork, Dov Charney, Noel Gallagher, David Gilmour, Diane Keaton, Joe Simpson, Robert Smith, Trent Reznor, Chris Robinson, Roger Waters, Zac Efron, Bill Nye, Neil Peart, Sean Penn, Keanu Reeves, Steven Hawking, Steven Jay Gould, Winston Churchill, Matt Groening, and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on ad infinitum...