Lucifer's Echo

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############################################################ ############################################################ ______ / / / / / /__ __ / / ) (__ / / (__(__ __ |\ ( ) ) / / | \ | / / . _/_ . __ / . __ __ | \ | ) ) / / ) / ) / / ) __ ) / ) ) \| (__(__(___(__(__(___(__(__(__(__(__(__/ (__ ============================================================ **The*E-Zine*of*Atheistic*Secular*Humanism*and*Freethought** ============================================================ ############################################################ ###### Volume I, Number 6 ***A Collector's Item!***###### ################### ISSN 1201-0111 ####################### ####################### OCT 1994 ########################### ############################################################ nullifidian, n. & a. (Person) having no religious faith or belief. [f. med. L _nullifidius_ f. L _nullus_ none + _fides_ faith; see -IAN] Concise Oxford Dictionary [formerly Lucifer's Echo] The purpose of this magazine is to provide a source of articles dealing with many aspects of humanism. We are ATHEISTIC as we do not believe in the actual existence of any supernatural beings or any transcendental reality. We are SECULAR because the evidence of history and the daily horrors in the news show the pernicious and destructive consequences of allowing religions to be involved with politics and nationalism. We are HUMANISTS and we focus on what is good for humanity, in the real world. We will not be put off with offers of pie in the sky, bye and bye. ==><====><====><====><====><====><====><====><====><====><== || Begging portion of the Zine || ==><====><====><====><====><====><====><====><====><====><== This is a "sharezine." There is no charge for receiving this, and there is no charge for distributing copies to any electronic medium. Nor is there a restriction on printing a copy for use in discussion. You may not charge to do so, and you may not do so without attributing it to the proper author and source. If you would like to support our efforts, and help us acquire better equipment to bring you more and better articles, you may send money to Greg Erwin at: 100, Terrasse Eardley / Aylmer, Qc / J9H 6B5 / CANADA. Or buy our atheist quote address labels, and other fine products, see "Shameless advertising and crass commercialism" below. ==><====><====><====><====><====><====><====><====><====><== || End of Begging portion of the Zine || ==><====><====><====><====><====><====><====><====><====><== Articles will be welcomed IF: ( they are emailed to: ai815@FreeNet.Carleton.CA; or, sent on diskette to me at the above Aylmer address in any format that an IBM copy of WordPerfect can read; ) and they don't require huge amounts of editing; and I like them. If you wish to receive a subscription, email a simple request to: ai815@FreeNet.Carleton.CA, with a clear request for a subscription. It will be assumed that the "From:" address is where it is to be sent. We will automate this process as soon as we know how. 1994-05-08 Yes, please DO make copies! (*) Please DO send copies of The Nullifidian to anyone who might be interested. The only limitations are: You must copy the whole document, without making any changes to it. You do NOT have permission to copy this document for commercial purposes. The contents of this document are copyright (c) 1994, Greg Erwin and are on deposit at the National Library of Canada You may find back issues in anyplace that archives alt.atheism, specifically mathew's site at ftp.mantis.co.uk. Currently, all back issues are posted at the Humanist Association of Ottawa's area on the National Capital Freenet. telnet to 134.117.1.22, and enter at the "Your choice==>" prompt. /=\_/=\/=\_/=\/=\_/=\/=\_/=\/=\_/=\/=\_/=\/=\_/=\/=\_/=\/=\ Shameless advertising and crass commercialism: \_/=\/=\_/=\/=\_/=\/=\_/=\/=\_/=\/=\_/=\/=\_/=\/=\_/=\/=\_/ Atheistic self-stick Avery(tm) address labels. Consisting of 180 different quotes, 30 per page, each label 2 5/8" x 1". This leaves three 49 character lines available for your own address, phone number, email, fax or whatever. Each sheet is US$2, the entire set of 6 for US$11; 2 sets for US$20. Indicate quantity desired. Print address clearly, exactly as desired. Order from address in examples below. Laser printed, 8 pt Arial, with occasional flourishes. _________________________________________________ |"Reality is that which, when you stop believing | |in it, doesn't go away." [Philip K. Dick] | |Greg Erwin 100 Terrasse Eardley | |Aylmer, Qc J9H 6B5 Canada | | email: ai815@FreeNet.Carleton.CA | |________________________________________________| _________________________________________________ |"...and when you tell me that your deity made | |you in his own image, I reply that he must be | |very ugly." [Victor Hugo, writing to clergy] | |Greg Erwin 100 Terrasse Eardley | |Aylmer, Qc J9H 6B5 Canada Ph: (613) 954-6128 | | email: ai815@FreeNet.Carleton.CA | |________________________________________________| Other stuff for sale: Certificate of Baptism Removal and Renunciation of Religion. Have your baptism removed, renounce religion, and have a neat 8" x 11" fancy certificate, on luxury paper, suitable for framing, to commemorate the event! Instant eligibility for excommunication! For the already baptism-free: Certificate of Freedom from Religion. An official atheistic secular humanist stamp of approval for only $10! Poster 8x11: WARNING! This is a religion free zone! All religious vows, codes, and commitments are null & void herein. Please refrain from contaminating the ideosphere with harmful memes through prayer, reverence, holy books, proselytizing, prophesying, faith, speaking in tongues or spirituality. Fight the menace of second-hand faith! Humanity sincerely thanks you! Tastefully arranged in large point Stencil on luxury paper. Likewise $10. 4. Ingersoll poster: "When I became convinced that the universe is natural" speech excerpt. 11"x17" See the June 1994 issue of the _Echo_ for full text. $15 Order from the same address as above. Order now to celebrate the rebirth of the Invincible Sun! /=\/=\_/=\/=\_/=\/=\_/=\/=\_/=\/=\_/=\/=\_/=\/=\_/=\/=\_/=\ Explanation Have I caved in? Does it really matter what the zine is named? Does anybody really care? One person has found me offensive enough to killfile me. Another kindly person took one look at the title (after being lead to subscribe by the Freethought Today article, I think) and cancelled by return email. Anyway, I have decided that the zine shall henceforth be known as The Nullifidian. I feel as if *this* is the title I was searching for when I came up with Lucifer's Echo. At the time I kept seeking for another title, but nobody came up with anything that felt right to me. "The Nullifidian" does seem right to me. Perhaps that says more about me than anything else. It happened this way: I was trying to verify whether the dimly (and quite possibly incorrectly) remembered Latin phrase _de nullis_ was really the right way to say "from nothing" for the review of Tom Flynn's _The Trouble with Christmas_. Despite scrutinising a petit Robert, a Larousse and the Concise Oxford, nullis is what I got. Except that this "nullifidian" word caught my eye. Accident? Or mere chance? An obscure, pedantic, practically obsolete, certainly uncommon, word. Cool, in other words. I recommend we all start using nullifidian as the response to the question "religion?" That way, atheism is still not a religion, and gets all of the benefits of *not* being a mere superstition, but nullifidianism can be. "What religion are you?" "I'm a nullifidian." or "I'm nullifidian." The only refinement here is deciding whether you are orthodox or reformed nullifidian. When some crazed christian or first year philosophy student wants to tell you that you actually are religious, because you do have some beliefs, you can say, "No, I'm nullifidian. By definition, I have no religious faith or beliefs, look it up!" When you need to disguise yourself, no one need know what nullifidian means, certainly most won't. "Back home, I was nullifidian. They have a meeting house nearby?" Unitarians have no creedal obligations, but commonly are seen to believe in anything. Nullifidians believe in nothing, and have a dictionarily imposed obligation to do so. First Nullifidian hymn [to the tune of "I'm a Lumberjack"] I'm a nullifidian, and I'm OK, I sleep all night and I doubt all day. I cut down creeds, I chop up faiths I like to mock Little Flowers, I strip off superstitions and hang around in bars. Improvise from there. The justification for the name change is that, maybe some people who would be put off by the title and not by the content, now will see the content, I guess. I hope it is evident that the style, tone and attitude haven't changed. [Note that in the review of _The Trouble with Christmas_, next month, where I state that Victorian bourgeois society created the modern Christmas "out of nothing" there should really be a classy Latin phrase in its place.] And just today, I receive a review copy of _Freethought on the American Frontier_ and find that there was an early magazine named "Lucifer, the Light Bearer". -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-TABLE OF CONTENTS-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- 0. Feeble Explanation (you've already passed it) 1. Letter to the editor & reply 2. Christian Math, or proving the impossible 3. So, what do you teach your kids? by Tom Malone (from Free Inquiry) 4. from The Works of ROBERT G. INGERSOLL: A THANKSGIVING SERMON. (part I) ============================================================= || BEGINNING OF ARTICLE || ============================================================= Letter to the editor & reply Date: Sun Sep 4 13:15:29 1994 From: ad?p?@andrew.cmu.e?u (*nth*ny F D*l*c*) Subject: Re: Lucifer's Echo September 1994 To: ai815@FreeNet.Carleton.CA (Greg Erwin) <> [actual unedited text] Having attended a private parochial school for four years, i do not believe you truly know what you are talking about. The school i attended, a catholic school, taught me to analyze, to speak out and to question. you are speaking in generality, which is bound to be without logic. in my religion class, for example, we debated such things as execution, abortion, and beliefs or disbeliefs we had about the church itself. nobody was stoned to death for their statements, and nobody was damned to hell for it. if critical thinking skills were not taught, explain why jesuit priests are among the best educators, and most well educated in the world? Religion is filled with many faults, especially christian religions. Religion is not for everyone, and it should only be used as a basic guide. peolple need something to justify their existance, with out justification, life becomes meaningless. i do not fully believe in religion, but it , as all things, can teach you something. ------------------------------- Date: Sun Sep 4 18:05:57 1994 To: ad?p?@andrew.cmu.e?u Subject: Re: Lucifer's Echo September 1994 Cc: Reply-To: ai815@FreeNet.Carleton.CA What conclusions did you reach? Any that weren't in accord with the party line? You can reach any conclusion you want, if you allow someone else to select the assumptions. Were you allowed to examine the assumptions? Question Catholic dogma? Did anyone tell you about the *other* 16 sacrificed savior gods that were current deities in the middle east before the early Christians grafted that story onto the Jewish messiah story? They were born of virgins, too! Did anyone try to justify the genocidal massacres in the Old Testament? I know--all of the victims were evil, and the babies would have grown up to be evil! And maybe the religious guys were JUST FOLLOWING ORDERS! > if critical thinking skills were not taught, explain >why jesuit >priests are among the best educators, and most >well educated in the world? They are correct in their statement, if a child is brainwashed early enough in life, it is virtually impossible for experience, reason or logic to dislodge the impact of this mind control. The Church can create conditions of poverty all over the world, priests can be caught every day buggering choir boys, and you will still be a loyal supporter. > Religion is filled with many faults, especially >christian religions. A statement we all can agree on. They all have the main fault of believing without evidence. To this main fault, the christian religion adds internal contradiction and incoherence, requiring the faithful to believe things that not only are supported by no evidence but are also self contradictory. > Religion is not for everyone, and it should only be used >as a basic guide. peolple need something to justify their >existance, with out justification, life becomes meaningless. >i do not fully believe in religion, but it , as all things, >can teach you something. Human beings are their own justification. As soon as something else becomes the justification for human existence, then: the Church can deny the worthiness of a heretic's existence, or a Jew's existence, or a Muslim's existence, or an atheist's existence. Brief history lesson: 1) In 1885, there was a smallpox epidemic in Montreal. Although the worth of vaccination had been established for decades, the Catholic Church urged the faithful to stay away from the doctors and trust in God. As a result, Catholics formed the vast majority of the 3,000 dead. That is how little the Church cares for is flock, they callously let them die. 2) During the Duplessis era 30s and 40s Quebec, the Catholic Church ran the orphanages. It received a small allowance for each orphan. Someone in the hierarchy noticed that the allowance for insane and retarded orphans was slightly higher. So they arranged to declare all of the orphans insane or retarded. The lawsuits are just beginning. They cared so little about the children entrusted to them, that they sold them out for a few cents a day higher allowance. 3) The church ran the Magdalen Home Laundry in Galway Ireland up until 1988. Girls who were "immoral" were sent there by their families. The truth of this one only came out when the church tried to bulldoze over the graves of those who died there. Often the "immorality" involved dancing, or staying out too late. But nobody deserves death from neglect even for the horrible sin of fornication. Or do you think they do? The girls were basically kept as slaves. The Irish government, of course, cooperated. 4) In Mount Cashel foster home, Newfoundland, the Christian Brothers regularly abused the boys sent there for care. These were basically foster children, not delinquents, but those whose parents could not afford to care for them. Physical and sexual abuse were common. The Newfoundland government, of course, infested with Catholics, did not want to harm the Church, so the facts were covered up for 20 years before they came out. Did you discuss why the Church would want to cover up child abuse? Did you discuss why the church would simply transfer a Brother who had raped a number of young boys, lie to the government that "it was being taken care of" and send the brother to another parish to work with other young boys? Do you notice a pattern here? Does it make you wonder that the Pope would knight an ex-Naxi? Do you worry at all that Nazi war criminals were able to hide out in friendly monasteries and convents for decades after the war? Does it bother you at all that the Pope must ally the church with the likes of the Iranian ayatollahs to prevent women from getting access to contraceptive information and supplies? Religion, and your unquestioning faith, are what allows them to perpetrate all of the above crimes. You and the other Catholic sheep, are their accomplices, as much as the German public was an accomplice of Hitler in his crimes. Oh, does it bother you that Hitler never committed any sin worthy of excommunication, whereas a young troubled girl who sees no other way out, can be excommunicated for an abortion? Did you discuss this? Remember the Church was the staunch ally of Franco, Mussolini and Hitler. Did you discuss that? Thought so. ============================================================ || END OF ARTICLE || ============================================================ Send in your letters, or I will have to start making them up. Up to now, 19 letters out of 20 read: "Clear request for a subscription." ============================================================ || BEGINNING OF ARTICLE || ============================================================ Christian Math, or proving the impossible let us start with, A = B We may multiply both sides by A: so, A^2 = AB We may subtract B^2 from both sides: giving, A^2 - B^2 = AB - B^2 Which may be factored to: (A+B)(A-B) = B(A-B) Simply divide both sides by (A-B), (A+B)(A-B) B(A-B) The (A-B) factors cancel out, ---------- = ------ and we are left with, (A-B) (A-B) A+B = B and, as A=B, we may substitute A = 2A and finally, dividing by A 1 = 2 proving the impossible. ************************************************************ Next month, proof that the largest integer exists and furthermore that it equals -1! If you ask the wrong questions, or you don't play by the rules, you get answers like "42" or "God" or "1 = 2". ============================================================ || END OF ARTICLE || ============================================================ "The truth cannot be asserted without denouncing the falsehood." [Lesie Stephen] ============================================================ || BEGINNING OF ARTICLE || ============================================================ ____________________________________________________________ |From Free Inquiry, (ISSN 0272-0701) published quarterly by |the Council for Democratic and Secular Humanism (CODESH, |Inc.). Domestic subscription rates are: US$25 for one |year, US$43 for two years and US$59 for three years. Back |issues are available. Address all subscription enquiries |to: Free Inquiry, Box 664, Buffalo, NY 14226-0064. Phone |(716) 636-7571. FAX (716) 636-1733. Tell them you saw it |here. email: TimMadigan@aol.com |___________________________________________________________ So, what do you teach your kids? by Tom Malone The first question Christians inevitably ask secular humanist parents is, "So, what do you teach your kids?" Many of us are so defen- sive about the suspicion we might be forcing our heretical viewpoints on our children that we launch reflexively into a lengthy explanation of the ideals of independent thinking and religious freedom of choice- even for our children. Probably too few of us stop to realize the arrogance that underlies the question, and certainly still fewer actually bother to point this out to the inquiring religionist. Let's turn the question around to see its absurdity. What if, upon learning of a colleague's Presbyterian affiliation, one were to ask, "So what do you teach your kids?" Certainly, our colleague would stare quizzically and say something like, "I raise them to be good Presbyterians, of course. Why do you ask?" And that is precisely the response that Christians deserve when they ask us the same question. Is it for some reason appropriate for Christians to quiz secular humanist parents about their children's religious education? Do they ask this question of every Christian, Jew, and Muslim they meet? Is it correct to assume that since we reject supernaturalism, we believe in nothing at all? Since our opinions are generally regarded with scorn, are we then expected to raise our children as faithful followers of some mainstream religion we reject? The answer to all of the above questions is an emphatic "No." No one asks believers in one of the five major "true religions of the world" (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) about their children's religious education. We assume the obvious: (1) adults regard their religious opinions as true ones (or else why would they hold them?) and (2) parents teach the principles of this particular system to their children (Is it possible to do anything else?). To the average religionist, secular humanists are simply those who "don't believe in anything." After all, they assume, if you don't believe in God, what else is there? (Actually, we can consider ourselves lucky if all they assume is that we believe in nothing, since in the South disbelief in God is usually-and absurdly-regarded as an affirmation of faith in Satan!) So as believers in nothing, what is there to teach our children? Although it would be appropriate for us to respond to inquiries with a simple, "Why do you ask?" we know that we cannot afford such a luxury. As a misunderstood and often maligned minority, we must explain. And however insulting the question itself may be, we should realize that these situations offer just the opportunities we often need to explain not only our child-rearing techniques, but our own personal philosophy as well. I'm afraid that educating the public will remain a burden of ours for some time to come. As a secular humanist and parent of two young children myself, I can assure my faithful counterparts that there is much to teach our children. Finding no good reason to believe in any approving or disapproving deities, we cannot resort to the easy answers, "Do it because God says so," or "Do it because God will punish you if you don't." We must explain, on a child's level, that good and bad are defined, not by what some ancient lawgiver said, but rather by the effect our actions have on others. "Being nice" without the presence of a god may seem like a complex matter to the average Christian, but most children can readily grasp the concept, "If you're not nice to Ashley, she won't be nice to you." And although they may not be able to explain it in so many words, most children can act on the understanding that "being nice" feels good and "being bad" feels bad. These are not matters of complex theology. They are simply matters of social necessity, the kinds of constructive and destructive actions societies have always rewarded and punished. Human populations have been coping with these issues since time immemorial, and their behavioral roots can even be traced back to other primates and mammals. Eventually we are socialized into "being good" because of the positive effect we know it has on others, but the evolutionary mechanism that achieves this is complex. Altruism may be sustained by its effects on others, but its roots are based upon the very selfish motivation for survival. The ethical lessons that we derive from life experiences are not best taught in the confines of a religious institution attended once a week. Ethics and ethical behavior are learned, sustained, and later understood through day-to-day demonstration and practice. Religious instruction may help reinforce daily habits learned at home, but if the habits are not practiced in the home, no amount of theological instruction will create a "good, socially responsible" child. Children learn right and wrong by interacting with the world and receiving the appropriate sanctions and rewards. Christians may learn that "we should be nice because God wants us to," but secular humanist children can learn even more effectively that "we should be nice because it allows everyone to get along, it influences others to be nice in return, and it makes us feel good about ourselves." Secular humanist parents are additionally challenged by the necessity to educate their children about the supernatural beliefs prevalent in our society. After all, most of their friends, neighbors, and classmates will probably adhere to traditional beliefs, so our children must be prepared for growing up in a society that is ignorant about and often hostile to their views. Teaching children to regard claims of the supernatural with skepticism need not be a difficult or complicated task. Children's literature is filled with make-believe characters and stories. These can be used as springboards for parent-child talks about how we know what's real and what's pretend. Adult believers may have a problem with this concept, but most children grasp it readily. What confuses children is being taught a healthy skepticism toward most types of make-believe but then being urged to accept as fact one particular type of blind and unyielding faith. The essential childhood secular humanist library, therefore, should include the tales of various world mythologies, including a children's version of the Bible. When the make-believe stories of the Bible are presented in the same light as those of other traditions, children can both grasp the prevalence of make-believe stories throughout history and see the absurdity of taking such outrageous tales seriously. They will also come to understand that stories once regarded as factually true are later dismissed as products of someone's imagination. Bible stories such as the Garden of Eden and Noah's Ark also offer ideal opportunities for teaching children about a "kinder and gentler" secular humanist philosophy that rejects the justice of such concepts as eternal punishment and the punishment of all for the "sins" of a few. In this manner, our children not only learn how to discriminate myth and legend from fact and history, but they additionally learn about many of the faiths that their parents have rejected in humanism. Christians often ask us, "But do you teach your children about other religious opinions besides your own?" Their unspoken assumption is that we, for some reason, have an obligation to take our children to church just in case they want to become little Christians. But Christian parents do not feel the need to offer their children the option of becoming secular humanists or Buddhists. In fact, the children of secular humanist parents often wind up better educated on alternative beliefs and are offered more choice in religious matters than are the children raised in mainstream religious homes. Equally important as encouraging a healthy degree of skepticism in our children is promoting tolerance and understanding. They belong to families and communities whose members are generally believers in traditional faiths. For the sake of their survival and for the general benefit of tolerance, our children should be taught to respect the right of others to believe as they choose. They will have to understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate times to ask certain questions or express certain opinions. We may have to explain that "We can talk about that around Aunt Marion and cousin Jack, but it will hurt Granddaddy's feelings too much if we talk to him about why we disagree with his beliefs. Besides, he's set in his ways and won't understand how we feel so let's just avoid the topic." Not all of these judgment calls will be easy ones, but coping with these situations will allow our children to become both self-confident skeptics and sensitive human beings. It would be a mistake for secular humanist parents to exercise a laissez-faire approach to religious instruction. We cannot leave our children to flounder theologically and expect them to arrive at the same conclusions we did. The inducements of pie-in-the-sky thinking are too strong and the unethical evangelists too persistent for us to leave our children's religious opinions to chance. There is much we can do to guide their development without becoming dogmatic absolutists ourselves. There is also much emotional stress and harm we can spare them by shielding them from some of traditional religion's assaults on self esteem, sexuality, and intellectual inquisitiveness. To raise a secular humanist child does not require threat or censorship, just a broad and full education. And that, after all, is what we're supposed to be good at anyway. Tom Malone lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia, with his wife Stone, and their two children, Daniel and Ana. He teaches history and coaches boys' varsity soccer in a public high school He devotes his "spare time" to secular humanist activism. Magazine: Free Inquiry Issue: Summer 1994 (vol. 14 no. 3) Title: So What Do You Teach Your Kids? Author: Tom Malone ============================================================ || END OF ARTICLE || ============================================================ It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I *do* understand. [Mark Twain] ============================================================ || BEGINNING OF ARTICLE || ============================================================ 22 page printout. [This will depend on the point size and margins you choose] Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. **** **** [Part one is here reproduced for Canadian Thanksgiving. Part two will be in next month's issue for American Thanksgiving] This file, its printout, or copies of either are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold. Bank of Wisdom, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 The Works of ROBERT G. INGERSOLL **** **** A THANKSGIVING SERMON. 1897 Many ages ago our fathers were living in dens and caves. Their bodies, their low foreheads, were covered with hair. They were eating berries, roots, bark and vermin. They were fond of snakes and raw fish. They discovered fire and, probably by accident, learned how to cause it by friction. They found how to warm themselves -- to fight the frost and storm. They fashioned clubs and rude weapons of stone with which they killed the larger beasts and now and then each other. Slowly, painfully, almost imperceptibly they advanced. They crawled and stumbled, staggered and struggled toward the light. To them the world was unknown. On every hand was the mysterious, the sinister, the hurtful. The forests were filled with monsters, and the darkness was crowded with ghosts, devils, and fiendish gods. These poor wretches were the slaves of fear, the sport of dreams. Now and then, one rose a little above his fellows -- used his senses -- the little reason that he had -- found something new -- some better way. Then the people killed him and afterward knelt with reverence at his grave. Then another thinker gave his thought -- was murdered -- another tomb became sacred -- another step was taken in advance. And so through countless years of ignorance and cruelty -- of thought and crime -- of murder and worship, of heroism, suffering, and self-denial, the race has reached the heights where now we stand. Looking back over the long and devious roads that lie between the barbarism of the past and the civilization of to-day, thinking of the centuries that rolled like waves between these distant shores, we can form some idea of what our fathers suffered -- of the mistakes they made -- some idea of their ignorance, their stupidity -- and some idea of their sense, their goodness, their heroism. It is a long road from the savage to the scientist -- from a den to a mansion -- from leaves to clothes -- from a flickering rush to the arc-light -- from a hammer of stone to the modern mill -- a long distance from the pipe of Pan to the violin -- to the orchestra -- from, a floating log to the steamship -- from a sickle to a reaper -- from a flail to a threshing machine -- from a crooked stick to a plow -- from a spinning wheel to a spinning jenny -- from a hand loom to a Jacquard -- a Jacquard that weaves fair forms and wondrous flowers beyond Arachne's utmost dream -- from a few hieroglyphics on the skins of beasts -- on bricks of clay -- to a printing press, to a library -- a long distance from the messenger, traveling on foot, to the electric spark -- from knives and tools of stone to those of steel -- a long distance from sand to telescopes -- from echo to the phonograph, the phonograph that buries in indented lines and dots the sounds of living speech, and then gives back to life the very words and voices of the dead -- a long way from the trumpet to the telephone, the telephone that transports speech as swift as thought and drops the words, perfect as minted coins, in listening ears, a long way from a fallen tree to the suspension bridge -- from the dried sinews of beasts to the cables of steel -- from the oar to the propeller -- from the sling to the rifle -- from the catapult to the cannon -- a long distance from revenge to law -- from the club to the Legislature -- from slavery to freedom -- from appearance to fact -- from fear to reason. And yet the distance has been traveled by the human race. Countless obstructions have been overcome -- numberless enemies have been conquered -- thousands and thousands of victories have been won for the right, and millions have lived, labored and died for their fellow-men. For the blessings we enjoy -- for the happiness that is ours, we ought to be grateful. Our hearts should blossom with thankfulness. Whom, what, should we thank? Let us be honest -- generous. Should we thank the church? Christianity has controlled Christendom for at least fifteen hundred years. During these centuries what have the orthodox churches accomplished, for the good of man? In this life man needs raiment and roof, food and fuel. He must be protected from heat and cold. from snow and storm. He must take thought for the morrow. In the summer of youth he must prepare for the winter of age. He must know something of the causes of disease -- of the conditions of health. If possible he must conquer pain, increase happiness and lengthen life. He must supply the wants of the body -- and feed the hunger of the mind. What good has the church done? Has it taught men to cultivate the earth? to build homes? to weave cloth? to cure or prevent disease? to build ships, to navigate the seas? to conquer pain, or to lengthen life? Did Christ or any of his apostles add to the sum of useful knowledge? Did they say one word in favor of any science, of any art? Did they teach their fellow-men how to make a living, how to overcome the obstructions of nature, how to prevent sickness -- how to protect themselves from pain, from famine, from misery and rags? Did they explain any of the phenomena of nature? any of the facts that affect the life of man? Did they say anything in favor of investigation -- of study -- of thought? Did they teach the gospel of self-reliance, of industry -- of honest effort? Can any farmer, mechanic, or scientist find in the New Testament one useful fact? Is there anything in the sacred book that can help the geologist, the astronomer, the biologist, the physician, the inventor -- the manufacturer of any useful thing? What has the church done? From the very first it taught the vanity -- the worthlessness of all earthly things. It taught the wickedness of wealth, the blessedness of poverty. It taught that the business of this life was to prepare for death. It insisted that a certain belief was necessary to insure salvation, and that all who failed to believe, or doubted in the least would suffer eternal pain. According to the church the natural desires, ambitions and passions of man were all wicked and depraved. To love God, to practice self-denial, to overcome desire, to despise wealth, to hate prosperity, to desert wife and children, to live on roots and berries, to repeat prayers, to wear rags, to live in filth, and drive love from the heart -- these, for centuries, were the highest and most perfect virtues, and those who practiced them were saints. The saints did not assist their fellow-men. Their fellow-men assisted them. They did not labor for others. They were beggars -- parasites -- vermin. They were insane. They followed the teachings of Christ. They took no thought for the morrow. They mutilated their bodies -- scarred their flesh and destroyed their minds for the sake of happiness in another world. During the journey of life they kept their eyes on the grave. They gathered no flowers by the way -- they walked in the dust of the road -- avoided the green fields. Their moans made all the music they wished to hear. The babble of brooks, the songs of birds, the laughter of children, were nothing to them. Pleasure was the child of sin, and the happy needed a change of heart. They were sinless and miserable -- but they had faith -- they were pious and wretched -- but they were limping towards heaven. What has the church done? It has denounced pride and luxury -- all things that adorn and enrich life -- all the pleasures of sense -- the ecstasies of love -- the happiness of the hearth -- the clasp and kiss of wife and child. And the church has done this because it regarded this life as a period of probation -- a time to prepare -- to become spiritual -- to overcome the natural -- to fix the affections on the invisible -- to become passionless -- to subdue the flesh -- to congeal the blood -- to fold the wings of fancy -- to become dead to the world -- so that when you appeared before God you would be the exact opposite of what he made you. What has the church done? It pretended to have a revelation from God. It knew the road to eternal joy, the way to death. It preached salvation by faith, and declared that only orthodox believers could become angels, and all doubters would be damned. It knew this, and so knowing it became the enemy of discussion, of investigation, of thought. Why investigate, why discuss, why think when you know? It sought to enslave the world. It appealed to force. It unsheathed the sword, lighted the fagot, forged the chain, built the dungeon, erected the scaffold, invented and used the instruments of torture. It branded, maimed and mutilated -- it imprisoned and tortured -- it blinded and burned, hanged and crucified, and utterly destroyed millions and millions of human beings. It touched every nerve of the body -- produced every pain that can be felt, every agony that can be endured. And it did all this to preserve what it called the truth -- to destroy heresy and doubt, and to save, if possible, the souls of a few. It was honest. It was necessary to prevent the development of the brain, to arrest all progress -- and to do this the church used all its power. If men were allowed to think and express their thoughts they would fill their minds and the minds of others with doubts. If they were allowed to think they would investigate, and then they might contradict the creed, dispute the words of priests and defy the church. The priests cried to the people: "It is for us to talk. It is for you to hear. Our duty is to preach and yours is to believe." What has the church done? There have been thousands of councils and synods -- thousands and thousands of occasions when the clergy have met and discussed and quarreled -- when pope and cardinals, bishops and priests have added to or explained their creeds -- and denied the rights of others. What useful truth did they discover? What fact did they find? Did they add to the intellectual wealth of the world? Did they increase the sum of knowledge? I admit that they looked over a number of Jewish books and picked out the ones that Jehovah wrote. Did they find the medicinal virtue that dwells in any weed or flower? I know that they decided that the Holy Ghost was not created -- not begotten -- but that he proceeded. Did they teach us the mysteries of the metals and how to purify the ores in furnace flames? They shouted: "Great is the mystery of Godliness." Did they show us how to improve our condition in this world? They informed us that Christ had two natures and two wills. Did they give us even a hint as to any useful thing? They gave us predestination, foreordination and just enough "free will" to go to hell. Did they discover or show us how to produce anything for food? Did they produce anything to satisfy the hunger of man? Instead of this they discovered that a peasant girl who lived in Palestine, was the mother of God. This they proved by a book, and to make the book evidence they called it inspired. Did they tell us anything about chemistry -- how to combine and separate substances -- how to subtract the hurtful -- how to produce the useful? They told us that bread, by making certain motions and mumbling certain prayers, could be changed into the flesh of God, and that in the same way wine could be changed to his blood. And this, notwithstanding the fact that God never had any flesh or blood, but has always been a spirit without body, parts or passions. What has the church done? It gave us the history of the world -- of the stars, and the beginning of all things. It taught the geology of Moses -- the astronomy of Joshua and Elijah. It taught the fall of man and the atonement -- proved that a Jewish peasant was God -- established the existence of hell, purgatory and heaven. It pretended to have a revelation from God -- the Scriptures, in which could be found all knowledge -- everything that man could need in the journey of life. Nothing outside of the inspired book -- except legends and prayers -- could be of any value. Books that contradicted the Bible were hurtful, those that agreed with it -- useless. Nothing was of importance except faith, credulity -- belief. The church said: "Let philosophy alone, count your beads. Ask no questions, fall upon your knees. Shut your eyes, and save your souls." What has the church done? For centuries it kept the earth flat, for centuries it made all the hosts of heaven travel around this world -- for centuries it clung to "sacred" knowledge, and fought facts with the ferocity of a fiend. For centuries it hated the useful. It was the deadly enemy of medicine. Disease was produced by devils and could be cured only by priests, decaying bones, and holy water. Doctors were the rivals of Priests. They diverted the revenues. The church opposed the study of anatomy -- was against the dissection of the dead. Man had no right to cure disease -- God would do that through his priests. Man had no right to prevent disease -- diseases were sent by God as judgments. The church opposed inoculation -- vaccination, and the use of chloroform and ether. It was declared to be a sin, a crime for a woman to lessen the pangs of motherhood. The church declared that woman must bear the curse of the merciful Jehovah. What has the church done? It taught that the insane were inhabited by devils. Insanity was not a disease. It was produced by demons. It could be cured by prayers -- gifts, amulets and charms. All these had to be paid for. This enriched the church. These ideas were honestly entertained by Protestants as well as Catholics -- by Luther, Calvin, Knox and Wesley. What has the church done? It taught the awful doctrine of witchcraft. It filled the darkness with demons -- the air with devils, and the world with grief and shame. It charged men, women and children with being in league with Satan to injure their fellows. Old women were convicted for causing storms at sea -- for preventing rain and for bringing frost. Girls were convicted for having changed themselves into wolves, snakes and toads. These witches were burned for causing diseases -- for selling their souls and for souring beer. All these things were done with the aid of the Devil who sought to persecute the faithful, the lambs of God. Satan sought in many ways to scandalize the church. He sometimes assumed the appearance of a priest and committed crimes. On one occasion he personated a bishop -- a bishop renowned for his sanctity -- allowed himself to be discovered and dragged from the room of a beautiful widow. So perfectly did he counterfeit the features and form of the bishop, that many who were well acquainted with the prelate, were actually deceived, and the widow herself thought her lover was the bishop. All this was done by the Devil to bring reproach upon holy men. Hundreds of like instances could be given, as the war waged between demons and priests was long and bitter. These popes and priests -- these clergymen, were not hypocrites. They believed in the New Testament -- in the teachings of Christ, and they knew that the principal business of the Savior was casting out devils. What has the church done? It made the wife a slave -- the property of the husband, and it placed the husband as much above the wife as Christ was above the husband. It taught that a nun is purer, nobler than a mother. It induced millions of pure and conscientious girls to renounce the joys of life -- to take the veil woven of night and death, to wear the habiliments of the dead -- made them believe that they were the brides of Christ. For my part, I would as soon be a widow as the bride of a man who had been dead for eighteen hundred years. The poor deluded girls imagined that they, in some mysterious way, were in spiritual wedlock united with God. All worldly desires were driven from their hearts. They filled their lives with fastings -- with prayers -- with self-accusings. They forgot fathers and mothers and gave their love to the invisible. They were the victims, the convicts of superstition -- prisoners in the penitentiaries of God. Conscientious, good, sincere -- insane. These loving women gave their hearts to a phantom, their lives to a dream. A few years ago, at a revival, a fine buxom girl was "converted," "born again." In her excitement she cried, "I'm married to Christ -- I'm married to Christ." In her delirium she threw her arms around the neck of an old man and again cried, "I'm married to Christ." The old man, who happened to be a kind of skeptic, gently removed her hands, saying at the same time: "I don't know much about your husband, but I have great respect for your father-in-law." Priests, theologians, have taken advantage of women -- of their gentleness -- their love of approbation. They have lived upon their hopes and fears. Like vampires, they have sucked their blood. They have made them responsible for the sins of the world. They have taught them the slave virtues -- meekness, humility -- implicit obedience. They have fed their minds with mistakes, mysteries and absurdities. They have endeavored to weaken and shrivel their brains, until, to them, there world be no possible connection between evidence and belief -- between fact and faith. What has the church done? It was the enemy of commerce -- of business. It denounced the taking of interest for money. Without raking interest for money, progress is impossible. The steamships, the great factories, the railroads have all been built with borrowed money, money on which interest was promised and for the most part paid. The church was opposed to fire insurance -- to life insurance. It denounced insurance in any form as gambling, as immoral. To insure your life was to declare that you had no confidence in God -- that you relied on a corporation instead of divine providence. It was declared that God would provide for your widow and your fatherless children. To insure your life was to insult heaven. What has the church done? The church regarded epidemics as the messengers of the good God. The "Black Death" was sent by the eternal Father, whose mercy spared some and whose Justice murdered the rest. To stop the scourge, they tried to soften the heart of God by kneelings and prostrations -- by processions and prayers -- by burning incense and by making vows. They did not try to remove the cause. The cause was God. They did not ask for pure water, but for holy water. Faith and filth lived or rather died together. Religion and rags, piety and pollution kept company. Sanctity kept its odor. What has the church done? It was the enemy of art and literature. It destroyed the marbles of Greece and Rome. Beauty was Pagan. It destroyed so far as it could the best literature of the world. It feared thought -- but it preserved the Scriptures, the ravings of insane saints, the falsehoods of the Fathers, the bulls of popes, the accounts of miracles performed by shrines, by dried blood and faded hair, by pieces of bones and wood, by rusty nails and thorns, by handkerchiefs and rags, by water and beads and by a finger of the Holy Ghost. This was the literature of the church. I admit that the priests were honest -- as honest as ignorant. More could not be said. What has the church done? Christianity claims, with great pride, that it established asylums for the insane. Yes, it did. But the insane were treated as criminals. They were regarded as the homes -- as the tenement- houses of devils. They were persecuted and tormented. They were chained and flogged, starved and killed. The asylums were prisons, dungeons, the insane were victims and the keepers were ignorant, conscientious, pious fiends. They were not trying to help men, they were fighting devils -- destroying demons. They were not actuated by love -- but by hate and fear. What has the church done? It founded schools where facts were denied, where science was denounced and philosophy despised. Schools, where priests were made -- where they were taught to hate reason and to look upon doubts as the suggestions of the Devil. Schools where the heart was hardened and the brain shriveled. Schools in which lies were sacred and truths profane. Schools for the more general diffusion of ignorance -- schools to prevent thought -- to suppress knowledge. Schools for the purpose of enslaving the world. Schools in which teachers knew less than pupils. What has the church done? It has used its influence with God to get rain and sunshine -- to stop flood and storm -- to kill insects, rats, snakes and wild beasts -- to stay pestilence and famine -- to delay frost and snow -- to lengthen the lives of kings and queens -- to protect presidents -- to give legislators wisdom -- to increase collections and subscriptions. In marriages it has made God the party of the third part. It has sprinkled water on babes when they were named. It has put oil on the dying and repeated prayers for the dead. It has tried to protect the people from the malice of the Devil -- from ghosts and spooks, from witches and wizards and all the leering fiends that seek to poison the souls of men. It has endeavored to protect the sheep of God from the wolves of science -- from the wild beasts of doubt and investigation. It has tried to wean the lambs of the Lord from the delights, the pleasures, the joys, of life. According to the philosophy of the church, the virtuous weep and suffer, the vicious laugh and thrive, the good carry a cross, and the wicked fly. But in the next life this will be reversed. Then the good will be happy, and the bad will be damned. The church filled the world with faith and crime. It polluted the fountains of joy. It gave us an ignorant, jealous, revengeful and cruel God -- sometimes merciful -- sometimes ferocious. Now just, now infamous -- sometimes wise -- generally foolish. It gave us a Devil, cunning, malicious, almost the equal of God, not quite as strong -- but quicker -- not as profound -- but sharper. It gave us angels with wings -- cherubim and seraphim and a heaven with harps and hallelujahs -- with streets of gold and gates of pearl. It gave us fiends and imps with wings like bats. It gave us ghosts and goblins, spooks and sprites, and little devils that swarmed in the bodies of men, and it gave us hell where the souls of men will roast in eternal flames. Shall we thank the church? Shall we thank the orthodox churches? Shall we thank them for the hell they made here? Shall we thank them for the hell of the future? II We must remember that the church was founded and has been protected by God, that all the popes, and cardinals, all the bishops, priests and monks, all the ministers and exhorters were selected and set apart -- all sanctified and enlightened by the infinite God -- that the Holy Scriptures were inspired by the same Being, and that all the orthodox creeds were really made by him. We know what these men -- filled with the Holy Ghost -- have done. We know the part they have played. We know the souls they have saved and the bodies they have destroyed. We know the consolation they have given and the pain they have inflicted -- the lies they have defended -- the truths they have denied. We know that they convinced millions that celibacy is the greatest of all virtues -- that women are perpetual temptations, the enemies of true holiness -- that monks and priests are nobler than fathers, that nuns are purer than mothers. We know that they taught the blessed absurdity of the Trinity -- that God once worked at the trade of a carpenter in Palestine. We know that they divided knowledge into sacred and profane -- taught that Revelation was sacred -- that Reason was blasphemous -- that faith was holy and facts false. That the sin of Adam and Eve brought disease and pain, vice and death into the world. We know that they have taught the dogma of special providence -- that all events are ordered and regulated by God -- that he crowns and uncrowns kings -- preserves and destroys -- guards and kills -- that it is the duty of man to submit to the divine will, and that no matter how much evil there may be -- no matter how much suffering -- how much pain and death, man should pour out his heart in thankfulness that it is no worse. Let me be understood. I do not say and I do not think that the church was dishonest, that the clergy were insincere. I admit that all religions, all creeds, all priests, have been naturally produced. I admit, and cheerfully admit, that the believers in the supernatural have done some good -- not because they believed in gods and devils -- but in spite of it. I know that thousands and thousands of clergymen are honest, self-denying and humane -- that they are doing what they believe to be their duty -- doing what they can to induce men and women to live pure and noble lives. This is not the result of their creeds -- it is because they are human. What I say is that every honest teacher of the supernatural has been and is an unconscious enemy of the human race. What is the philosophy of the church -- of those who believe in the supernatural? Back of all that is -- back of all events -- Christians put an infinite Juggler who with a wish creates, preserves, destroys. The world is his stage and mankind his puppets. He fills them with wants and desires, with appetites and ambitions -- with hopes and fears -- with love and hate. He touches the springs. He pulls the strings -- baits the hooks, sets the traps and digs the pits. The play is a continuous performance. He watches these puppets as they struggle and fail. Sees them outwit each other and themselves -- leads them to every crime, watches the births and deaths -- hears lullabies at cradles and the fall of clods on coffins. He has no pity. He enjoys the tragedies -- the desperation -- the despair -- the suicides. He smiles at the murders. the assassinations, -- the seductions, the desertions -- the abandoned babes of shame. He sees the weak enslaved -- mothers robbed of babes -- the innocent in dungeons -- on scaffolds. He sees crime crowned and hypocrisy robed. He withholds the rain and his puppets starve. He opens the earth and they are devoured. He sends the flood and they are drowned. He empties the volcano and they perish in fire. He sends the cyclone and they are torn and mangled. With quick lightnings they are dashed to death. He fills the air and water with the invisible enemies of life -- the messengers of pain, and watches the puppets as they breathe and drink. He creates cancers to feed upon their flesh -- their quivering nerves -- serpents, to fill their veins with venom, -- beasts to crunch their bones -- to lap their blood. Some of the poor puppets he makes insane -- makes them struggle in the darkness with imagined monsters with glaring eyes and dripping jaws, and some are made without the flame of thought, to drool and drivel through the darkened days. He sees all the agony, the injustice, the rags of poverty, the withered hands of want -- the motherless babes, the deformed -- the maimed -- the leprous, knows the tears that flow -- hears the sobs and moans -- sees the gleam of swords, hears the roar of the guns -- sees the fields reddened with blood -- the white faces of the dead. But he mocks when their fear cometh, and at their calamity he fills the heavens with laughter. And the poor puppets who are left alive, fall on their knees and thank the Juggler with all their hearts. But after all, the gods have not supported the children of men, men have supported the gods. They have built the temples. They have sacrificed their babes, their lambs, their cattle. They have drenched the altars with blood. They have given their silver, their gold, their gems. They have fed and clothed their priests -- but the gods have given nothing in return. Hidden in the shadows they have answered no prayer -- heard no cry -- given no sign -- extended no hand -- uttered no word. Unseen and unheard they have sat on their thrones, deaf and dumb -- paralyzed and blind. In vain the steeples rise -- in vain the prayers ascend. And think what man has done to please the gods. He has renounced his reason -- extinguished the torch of his brain, he has believed without evidence and against evidence. He has slandered and maligned himself. He has fasted and starved. He has mutilated his body -- scarred his flesh -- given his blood to vermin. He has persecuted, imprisoned and destroyed his fellows. He has deserted wife and child. He has lived alone in the desert. He has swung censers and burned incense, counted beads and sprinkled himself with holy water -- shut his eyes, clasped his hands -- fallen upon his knees and groveled in the dust -- but the gods have been silent -- silent as stones. Have these cringings and crawlings -- these cruelties and absurdities -- this faith and foolishness pleased the gods? We do not know. Has any disaster been averted -- any blessing obtained? We do not know. Shall we thank these gods? Shall we thank the church's God? Who and what is he? They say that he is the creator and preserver of all that has been -- of all that is -- of all that will be -- that he is the father of angels and devils, the architect of heaven and hell -- that he made the earth -- a man and woman -- that he made the serpent who tempted them, made his own rival -- gave victory to his enemy -- that he repented of what he had done -- that he sent a flood and destroyed all of the children of men with the exception of eight persons -- that he tried to civilize the survivors and their children -- tried to do this with earthquakes and fiery serpents -- with pestilence and famine. But he failed. He intended to fail. Then he was born into the world, preached for three years, and allowed some savages to kill him. Then he rose from the dead and went back to heaven. He knew that he would fail, knew that he would be killed. In fact he arranged everything himself and brought everything to pass just as he had predestined it an eternity before the world was. All who believe these things will be saved and they who doubt or deny will be lost. Has this God good sense? Not always. He creates his own enemies and plots against himself. Nothing lives, except in accordance with his will, and yet the devils do not die. What is the matter with this God? Well, sometimes he is foolish -- sometimes he is cruel and sometimes he is insane. Does this God exist? Is there any intelligence back of Nature? Is there any being anywhere among the stars who pities the suffering children of men? We do not know. Shall we thank Nature? Does Nature care for us more than for leaves, or grass, or flies? Does Nature know that we exist? We do not know. But we do know that Nature is going to murder us all. Why should we thank Nature? If we thank God or Nature for the sunshine and rain, for health and happiness, whom shall we curse for famine and pestilence, for earthquake and cyclone -- for disease and death? =+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+ END OF PART 1 A Thanksgiving Sermon, by Robert Ingersoll =+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+ Part II (For American Thanksgiving) Next Month! ============================================================ || END OF ARTICLE || ============================================================ Public prayer -- Don't Stand for it! =========================================================== || END OF ISSUE || =========================================================== Once again: ISSN: 1201-0111 The Nullifidian Volume I, Number 6: OCT 1994. If you would rather be receiving Lucifer's Echo, then cut & paste the old masthead from the Echo onto the Nullifidian. -- nullifidian, n. & a. (Person) having no religious faith or belief. [f. med. L nullifidius f. L nullus "none" + fides "faith";] / If this is a humanist topic then I am President of the Humanist Association of Ottawa. Greg Erwin. ai815@FreeNet.Carleton.CA

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