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Volume 22, No.1

January, 1980

Isaac Asimov - Do Scientists Believe in God?


Elizabeth Cady Stanton - The Woman's Bible,

a Series



Dr. Madalyn Murray O'Hair

Myths & Mental Mayham

Anthony J. Pasquarello - Religion & Morality



Jon Garth Murray

Editorial - Jon G. Murray - You're Out,

Mrs. Johnson

G. Richard Bozarth

Letters to the Editor

Atheist News

Barry Cashman

Bill Baird
Angeline Bennett
Wells Culver
Conrad Goeringer
Connie Perazino
Ignatz Sahula-Dycke
Elaine Stansfield,
Gerald Tholen

The American Atheist magazine is

by American
Atheists, located at 2210 Hancock
Drive, Austin, Texas, 78756, a nonprofit, non-political, educational organization.
Mailing address: P.O.
Box 2117, Austin, Texas, 78768.
1980 by Society of
Inc. Subscription
rates: $20.00 per year. Manuscripts
submitted must be typed, doublespaced
and accompanied
by a
The editors assume no responsibility
for unsolicited manuscripts.


Atheism Asks For An Open Mind

Roots of Atheism - Elizabeth Cady Stanton,

Part 1


G. Richard Bozarth - The Holely Bible


Ignatz Sahula-Dycke - The Baited Hook


Angeline Bennett - It Could Be Verse

Gerald Tholen - Education - The Terrible

',.'. 33

American Atheist Radio Series

Madalyn Murray O'Hair - Ernst Haeckel,
German Atheist




Film Review - Elaine Stansfield - Alien


Book Review - The God Fixation


Richard Andrews, Chapter Director
Utah Chapter, American Atheists
P. O. Box 11622
Salt Lake City, Utah 84147
Telephone: [801] 3632562

The American Atheist magazine is indexed in:


January, 1980

Austin, Texas

Page 1

Jon G. Murra

You're "Out./' Mrs. Johnson

be useless. Rules for the game of religious life are se t up to be
One of the most common areasof conflict in the arena of broken so that a penalty can be levied and that penalty, in
separation of state and church is 'that of civil rights vs. religion.
turn, can be absolved by a higher authority.
A graphic example of this was played out in Utah last month.
The ultimate penalty, of course, as in any game, is to be
There, a.good Mormon woman, Sonia Johnson, waS excom-thrown
out of the game, or excommunicated.
The Mormon
municated from her church for supporting the ERA and assoc- church had, in effect, tuio choices with Mrs. Johnson. It could
iating and working with those who favor its passage as an a- penalize her so many yards' iff 'her rush-for the goal of heaven
mendment to our Constitution.
or throw her out of the game altogether. It chose the-latter.--- ,.
Mrs. Johnson was tried by a Bishops' court of the Mormon
Mrs. Johnson does not know how lucky she is for the
church, according to internal church policy, and ex communichoice. She is now, officially, a spectator at the Mormon game
cated. The outcry in Utah was that Mrs. Johnson's civil rights instead of a player. She is now one step closer to the position
had been violated in that her church trial lacked any of the of an Atheist. An Atheist is a spectator to all religion not just
Constitutional guarantees of the righ t to face one's accusers,
a particular team: Mrs. Johnson is likely to find a ne'w church
the right to counsel, etc. Critics failed to realize, however, that
with a spectrum of allowable activity, or rules, which is wider,
Mrs. Johnson gave up her rights under the Constitution when
wide enough to encompass her position on the ERA.
she entered into a church setting. Civil rights in a courtroom
Her excommunication,
or being kicked out of the game,
extend only to proceedings in courts operating under the conwas an effective punishment of her only because she believed
trol of some governmental branch of the city, county, state or in the intrinsic value of staying in the game. As a player, the
national jurisdiction. They do not extend into a Mormon Bishteam effort for all the players to reach the goal of heaven was
ops' court.
paramount. To a spectator, who sees the game as entertainInternal procedure within the confines of the doctrinal
ment or "only a game, " a player being thrown .out is only a
disciplining of any church is its own business. If one chooses
temporary lull in the action.
to belong to a particular church one comes under the jurisdicTo an Atheist religion has but an entertainment value. It is
lion of the rules and regulations of that church. The Mormon
something at which to laugh. I can only hope that out of the
churcb did nothing "illegal" when it tried Mrs. Johnson, [it
church Mrs. Johnson will learn to laugh also.
being "immoral" would be another matter.] It merely exerWithin the game she was laboring under the illusion that
cised its internal policy on the subject of women's rights. If civil rights had a place within the game structure. Just as any
Mrs. Johnson wished to remain within the church, she had the sporting event is irrelevant to human life so is the game of relioption of coming to terms with those internal policies:
gion. Real human concerns have no place within the rules of a
The same would apply to the American Atheist organiza- game, there the rules themselves are the only relevant eletion. American Atheists is perfectly within its rights, as a pri- ments.
vate, membership organization (like the Mormon church) to . What can we learn from all this? We learn {ust one more
expel anyone' who comes into contradiction with its stated
lesson on the point that one must examine any system of
corporate aims and purposes. If, for example, American A- controls of human behavior before one subscribes to it. The
theists expelled a born-again. Christian from membership for'most
important decision one can make in life is the setting up
practicing religious evangelism under the name of an Atheist'
of a system of rules to guide. one's self along the way. The
organization it would be perfectly within its rights.
choice is between a selfmade system wfiicnoife tailors to one's _ ,
Every religion and, for that matter, every church has a set
own needs, tempered by the trial and error guidelines of all huof rules which are open for the inspection of anyone seeking
man, as well as one's personal, history and a so-called "inspiradmission to that religion or church. If one is not willing to
ed" system that one accepts on faith. For my money, I choose
remain within the spectrum- of allowable activity set up by
the self-made one.
those rules, one does not join the religion (or the particular
If one chooses a system ready made, one must be prepared
denomination thereof). Each world religion, historically, deto be let down by it, for ready-made lifestyles cannot grow
rives the boundaries of this spectrum of allowable activity
with one, one must instead grow to fit the system. If one
within the church from its "holy" book, or whatever it deems
mahes one's own system, modifying it as one grows, one never
to be the inspired word of its particular deity. Those activities,
has to fear a situation outside of its bounds, for it has none.
both mental and physical, that are allowable are then considDon't box yourself in like Mrs. Johnsoti. Leaoe plenty of growered to be virtues. Those that are unallowable are sins.
ing room; your mind needs it.
It is essential toa church for human activities to be grouped
I don't know of any life style with any more growing room
into the allowable and nonallowable, or those things inside and and, self-control built into it than has Atheism. It's like the difoutside of the spectrum of church dogma. Unless the spectrum
ference between living in a box or in an ever expanding balis not only finite, but a subset of allowable human activity in
nature, - then - sinning cannot be accomplished. Sin must
Think about it.
exist in order for redemption to be possible. If everything one
can do, as a human being, in one's natural environmen t, is
permissible then there is no sin. Without sin there is nothing
from which to be redeemed or saved. The religion would then

Page 2

January, 1980

Letters to The Editor

What More Do You Want?


Dear Friends,
Here is an experience I had this
A school was tom down, and help
was hard to get, so they imported
some Negro and Mexican boys to do
the work. It was across the street, so
I got acquainted with them. The foreman had time to chat with me, and it
was highly amusing when he told about their entry into the Mormon "
Quote: "You know the black boys
were not satisfied to be only members;
they wanted to get into the thing big,
mingle with all the white gals, and you
know to get there, you have to be a
deacon. But Mistuh Kimball, he said,
'Nope, you can't because god said you
don't qualify.' So anyway, the pressure mounted, and finally old Spence,
that's Mr. Kimball, he said, 'Well, I
talked to god, and he said he would
think it over.' But it seems god could
not make up his mind for two or three
years. Finally god said to Father Kimball, 'OK. It seems you have been losing money account your white boys
just can't compete. with the schools
that have 'them tall black boys - they
won't let your boys have the ball.' So,
when god told old Spence that, we got
in with god's blessing. Now we just
about have all the say up at that
Brigham Young school - and the gals
come around and joke and tickle our
Fred Girard
Dear Fred,
We always knew the real reason
that the Mormons decided to let the
Blacks into full membership was to
"play ball, " with the idea of equality,
but as an Atheist don't fall into the
trap of letting anyone persuade you
that all Black men want white women.
T'ain't so - and we will have a sociologist write to that myth in another issue of the magazine.
The Editor

I was upset by the movie review on
The Life of Brian by Elaine Stansfield.
It seemed to me that she was trying to
outdo Monty Python by being completely different. Whatever .the rea~on
for her drab thinking, she did Atheism
a disservice by her negative review of
the most Atheist-like movie that has
ever been done commercially, besides
Simon in the Desert by Luis Bunuel.
I don't know where she saw the
movie - maybe Mexico - but most
intelligent people in this country enjoyed it immensely.
The movie clearly showed the people of that epoch for the sorry, gullible confused lot that they were,
whi~h strongly implies where the
Jesus myth came from. When people
are picking up gourds after Brian
exits and exclaiming, "It's a miracle!",
they are being clearly exposed as i~iots. That is a direct put-down of religion. When people parr.ot their lea.der
no matter how unthinkingly, that IS a
direct put-down of religious people.
When a guy on a cross advises another
not to worry because we came from
nothing and will go to nothing, and
then proceeds to sing a beautiful song,
"Always Look on the Bright Side of
Life" he is making an Atheist affirmatio~ of the noblest kind. In other
words don't pray to some non-existent g~d for one's troubles; just manage them in the best possible way.
What more do you want?
Richard M. Smith
Never Had Anything Like It
Contrary to the review by Elaine
Stansfield I think that Life of Brian
is the biggest < thing" to encourage
anti-religious thought since the Scopes
I first saw it because it was universally condemned as bJasphemous by
all of the churches.
It is especially great because the
Monty Python group is liked by young
people, so here large. numbers of
young people have seen It. I t?ok my
children to it and have seen It three

January, 1980

Austin, Texas

For exposing the stupidity of religion and of the religious, we ha~e

never had anything like it in this
Therefore, I am at a total loss to
understand Elaine Stansfield's review,
which to me is exactly the reverse of
what it should be.
John E. Summers, M.D.
"First Stansfield is for "Oh God];"
then she's against Python's "Life of
Brian." Are we sure she's an Atheist?
Thomas Taskonis
P.S. Anyone who takes any part of a
Python movie at its face value, deserves to suffer thru it. It was all
meant to be a spoof.
Like A Prissy Load .....
I just received the November magazine. Having seen The Life of Bria~
twice by choice, Elaine Stansfield s
revie~ sounds like a prissy load of
shit. We must be on very different
wave-lengths where humor is concerned! I guess you can have a narrow-minded
Atheist? It sounds a
bit incongruous, though.
Peter Sims
Ontario, Canada
Missed The Whole Point
Your film reviewer, Elaine Stans"fiel<i really blew it on her review of
The 'Life of Brian. She missed the
whole point. This is not a "play on
people's insecurities about what to
believe." It is an outright lampoon
on the people who actually continue
to believe all of this stuff and as such,
in my opinion, was a riot. It is a really
funny movie. Go see it.
Dennis Kurk
I suspect it's always dangerous to
accuse a critic of "missing the whole
point. " In this case, it's too easy (or
me to say Mr. Kurk missed the point
of my review: I recognize the lampoon, but thought it ineptly done in that it could have been done so
much better.
Elaine Stansfield
Page 3


trhe news is chosen to demonstrate, month after month, the dead reactionary hand of religion. It dictates your habits, sexual conduct, family
size, It censures cinema, theater, television, even education. It dictates life values and lifestyle. Religion is politics and, always, the most authoriarian and reactionary politics. We editorialize our news to emphasize this thesis. Unlike any other magazine or newspaper in the United States,
~ are honest enough to admit it.


It was in mid-December, 1978, that the American Atheist

Center first received a telephone call from Richard Andrews.
His voice was clear and crisp - incisive. He wanted to know
the local address of the Utah Chapter. Therein laid the rub.
American Atheists had one of its first chapters in Salt Lake
City headed up by Irv Sax, and his young wife, Valoie. The
chapter had encouraged, as had the national office, both Edith
Hale and Paul Wharton to challenge the interlocking network
of media ownership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
Day Saints - the Mormons. But, in those past days, the struggle was still so crucial for survival that the monetary support
that was necessary for Ethel and Paul could not be given. That
assault on the church, which proved to be highly successful,
had been started by a letter written to the Federal Communications Commission by Ethel and Paul on August 10, 1968 to
challenge the broadcast license renewal.
The complaint finally broadened into a full fledged court
fight - with Ethel and Paul going it alone. The United States
Court of Appeals handing down a final decision on 16th February, 1970 and this decision, on appeal, brought a regulation
from the F.C.C. which prohibits concentration of media ownership. The actual regulation was promulgated on March 27th,
1970 and as reported by the Wall Street Journal prohibited
anyone from acquiring more than one full-time broadcasting
station in a single community. It was not only a victory against
religion, but against the single overlapping ownership gf media
by any conglomerate.
Ethel and Paul held the chapter together for a number of
years, particularly after the death of Irv Sax, in what should
have been a routine operation. It had been in operation from
1967 to 1971, through the F.C.C. victory and then had not
been able to continue with any measure of success.

Meanwhile, the University of Utah, inexplicably, had subscribed to the American Atheist Radio Series and also kept
that program on the air, once a week, for seven years.
The chapter persons had been scattered for perhaps seven
years by the time Richard Andrews called wanting to get in
touch. Jon Murray, Director of the American Atheist Center,
took the call and decided on the spot that Utah was going to
"go" this time, the enthusiasm of Richard ["Rich"] being infectious. Arrangements were begun that evening to see how it
could begin again.
The historian of the Utah Chapter, Samantha Porter, reports on the organizing effort as follows:
"Monday, March 26th, 1979, was a busy day for Salt Lake
City. The NBA playoffs were being held there and that night
the final game was being played. The Salt Palace would be
"Two blocks away, at the Tri-Arc Travelodge, another
event was scheduled. The Salt Lake Tribune newspaper had informed its readers that morning that Jon Garth Murray was in
town to organize a Utah Chapter of American Atheists. No
one knew what to expect, least of all Rich Andrews who was
responsible for the effort."
The room that had been rented was set up for 30-50 persons. As they poured past the hired guards, who did not have
to earn their money that night, the hotel was forced to
scramble to come up with double the seats. One hundred and
five persons came to that meeting, at least eighty of whom
admitted on the spot that they were Atheists. Of these, 7
signed on to the organizational list that night. By the end of
October the chapter was dealing with over 350 persons. There
was suddenly something for everybody to do: business meetings, social meetings, monthly book reviews, garage sales,

Members of Utah Chapter in 1967

Page 4

January, 1980

American Atheist

a score or more of television and radio appearances for him as

well as speeches with invited audiences. In December, the
guest speaker, on an appearance binge, was Dr. Madalyn
O'Hair. Meanwhile, legal suits were being explored and the
Mormon church knew that it was being challenged!
At the center of this was the determination and the personality of Rich Andrews. A more unlikely candidate for agungho Atheist Director could not have been chosen if his background is any indication.
He was reared in Utah and in the
Mormon church. He earned an "Individual Award" every year
from his childhood, at age 16 was teaching an adult Geneology
class, attended four years of Seminary, advanced in the Aaronic priesthood of the Church to the position of Priest and he
stopped there. When it was time to move into the Melchezedek
priesthood, he refused. Interested in Economics, he picked up
an article titled "Am I My Brother's Keeper?," decided that
he was not, and left for Weber State College in Ogden. There
he became so involved with politics that he became a state
chairman for one political party and a campaign manager for
one U.S. Senate candidate. After a number of years of seeing
faces change but everything else staying the same, Rich decided that political life was not for him. "I wanted to contribute something to better mankind and I knew I couldn't do
that through politics."

rallies, a monthly newsletter, a nightly radio call-in program

(112 hour, of which 15 minutes was a tape from national office
and 15 minutes of questions and answers by a live Utah Atheist on the telephone at the radio station). An Atheist attorney came forward to take on Atheist legal cases at a reduced
fee. But the entire activity was topped off by the group having the gall to place a booth in the Utah State Fair during September 6th through the 16th.
After attending the Ninth Annual National Convention of
American Atheists in Dallas, Texas, during April, the group
made an announcement that they would host the Eleventh
Annual National Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, in April,
1981. The news was broadcast around the world, in electric
By November, the Chapter had brought Bill Baird, abortion advocate, into the uterus of the state, and there managed

January, 1980

Austin, Texas

The Ever Present Book Stand

Jon Murray and Utah Atheists

Page 5

a tour of the hotel, shown every facility and discussed all

arrangements - made now 18 months prior to the convention!
At the time of the Utah State Fair it was assumed that the
space and a facility could be found, rented and used, so that
American Atheism could be included in this traditional Utah
festivity. Working on that assumption the American Atheist
Chapter's colorful tent was rented, space was acquired, the
assignment being next to the Rape Crisis facility.
In support of the theory that there is an answer for any
Porter went to the library, found pictures
in various books of all the great Atheists: Elizabeth Cady
Stanton, Margaret Sanger, Clarence Darrow, Mark Twain,
Charles Bradlaugh, Florence Nightingale, Susan B. Anthony,
Abraham Lincoln. These were taken to a poster shop and
blown up to poster size, about 2' x 3' and placed to circle the
three inside walls of the tent.
Gary Bivin, an electronic buff, programmed a computer
read-out which gave people who stopped an excellent overview
of Atheist information.
One interstate visitor, Bill Thompson, on his way from the


Everyone in the Utah chapter seemed to have ideas. At every scheduled meeting each person was expected to toss at
least $1 in the contributions basket - and did. Garage sales,
breakfasts, cocktail get-togethers were all designed as money
makers. Indeed, when Dr. O'Hair and Jon Murray, the Director
of the American Atheist Center, visited in December for that
media blitz, a professional photographer in the group brought
his Polaroid to the cocktail party at the end of the three day
speaking and appearance exercise. With Samantha Porter
hawking for the sale, each person was asked for ten dollars for
an autographed instant portrait, with the purchaser sitting between Jon Murray and Dr. O'Hair. Hundreds of dollars were
raised in about an hour.
To rent the Salt Palace for the speech to be given by Dr.
o 'Hair, Joe Bonacci simply paid the $350 rental fee. It is
taken for granted by everyone in the chapter that money, time
and effort are all greatly needed to confront the Mormon theocracy of the state of Utah and that all concerned may just as
well have a good time while they put their money, effort,
minds and bodies into the job.
For the 1981 Eleventh Annual National Conventioniof
American Atheists the chapter chose the single finest hotel in
town, the Hilton. The hotel was as enthusiastic as the chapter.
No pressures of the church can alter the commitment. Dr.
O'Hair and Jon Murray were even given free complimentary
rooms during their December stay in Salt Lake City, taken on


Utah State Fair Booth of the Utah Chapter, American Atheists

east coast to assume an Air Force assignment in-Seattle, after
visiting at length at the booth, simply moved into it to work
for two days before he had to leave. For this, he was made an
honorary Utah chapter member.
The booth had to be manned from ten in the morning to
ten or eleven at night, for eleven days. Responsibility for
scheduling was assumed by Fay Ellison, a school psychologist,
who, arranged the daily coverage. Chris Allen, a computer
programmer, stayed after his own job hours every night until
closing. Mai Lundberg made the huge sign which hung over
the booth.
Passersby did stop. Many came to argue. Some to listen. A
great number were attracted by the computer answering
queries about Atheism. Some even signed on to the mailing list
there on the spotr- over 75 such persons.
No one missed the time allotted to them to work at the
booth. No one came in dark glasses, a slouched hat, or under a
London fog raincoat to hide who they were. The theme of the
display was:
"You're in Good Company - Come On In!"
The posters of famous American Atheists, each one having
under it a quotation expressing the person's thoughts on religion, drew many questions and established the identity of the
Utah chapter as homegrown, all American. With every single

Nick Grip, Gloria Garcia, Samantha Porter

Page 6

January, 1980

American Atheist

Gloria Garcia, Rich Andrews, Samantha Porter

had any experience with printing a Chapter Newsletter. Rich,

therefore, simply does it, with help from others as they can.
"The experience comes from the doing of it," they explain to
When Bill Baird, "father of the abortion movement" spoke
at the Ninth Annual National American Atheist Convention
in Dallas, Texas, in April, 1979, he made the chance remark
that there were only two states in the union in which he had
not been able, heretofore, to make appearances, appear on
media, or speak openly to be reported fairly in newspapers,
etc. The statement was too much for Rich Andrews and the
Utah Chapter contingent accompanying him to the convention. He immediately not alone asked Bill to come to Utah to
be a guest of the Utah Chapter but guaranteed him news coverage.
Working carefully with the Center, the Utah Chapter began
an immediate campaign on Bill's behalf and in November Bill
flew to Utah for three days of intensive media coverage,
speech making, meetings and general activity. He was cordially
received and many media avenues were opened to him.
All of which indicates, that if someone drops a casual remark, Rich Andrews and the Utah Chapter will seize the occasion to do something about what ever situation is described.

one of the persons involved in manning the' booth being exMormons any arguments based on that religion were handled
Since a number of the Utah Chapter members are either
by persons who were good at it - or Rich Andrews could be
computer programmers or computer buffs, the Chapter almost
called on as an expert.
immediately computerized its mailing list and is the only chapHowever, information passed both ways. During the discus- ter to do so in the nation; Mailings are regular, automatic and
sions this chapter learned that the earth is flat, no one has ever interrupted only with special bulletins and notices.
gone. to the moon, the earth was literally made in six days and
In addition, the Chapter has made a habit of making a video
that Robert Ingersoll had died screaming for a priest. Truth
cassette of anything on the networks having to do with state
has no relevancy to a religionist.
and church separation violations or American Atheism. David
The unflagging spirit of the group is apparent in everything
Chris Allen-showed a one hour replay to Dr. O'Hair and Jon
that they undertake. At least a dozen have now appeared on Murray during their visit. Soine of these included ABC's 20%
both radio and television - although none of them had any 20 look at "Pray TV," the CBS Sixty Minute segment devoted
media experience. Listening to some of the tapes of the broad- to that "New Time Religion," and the interview with newsman
casts the national Center has been impressed by how well these
Tom Streithorse after his receiving a heart transplant, in which
.enthusiastic Atheists handle themselves. None of them have interview he explained his Atheism. The TV cassettes review
had "speakirig experience" but when it is necessary for them
will be available for convention-time playing also.
to get up and say something - they simply-do it...
Again, the point is forcibly driven home: Rich Andrews at
A part of this has been pre-planning, The Chapter asked for' .:JI!..ehead of a determined group of American Atheists is taking
a reading library from the American Atheist Center and it has on a complete and .very formidable theocracy and doing well
been made accessible to all in the home of Rich Andrews. Ev- at it. The entire world will be watching-this Utap. Chapter eryone is expected to read in order to educate themselves and
and, the eyes of Texas are upon you, too, Rich, so it can pass
everyone does.
on to other Chapters some of your techniques and some of
No one had any bookkeeping experience - the chapter
your enthusiasm.
made up its own
system. Upon inspection, it works. No one
Dear Reader - so why are you in the closet?
._-- ._-~~m""'!~"""'fI"

H. L. Menken, Ben Franklin, Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Mark Twain, Florence Nightingale, Robert G. Ingersoll
Thomas Alva Edison
Austin, Texas

January, 1980

Page 7

Alternative to Faith

Atheism Asks for An Open


From the Sacramento Bee, of Saturday, November 24,1979:

"The fool says in his heart, "There is
no God." -Psalms 14.1
"This would be the best of all possible
worlds if there were no religion in it."
-John Adams.
By Robin Witt
Bee Staff Writer
Does God exist? And do his Holy
Scriptures - the Bible, the Torah, the
Koran and the theological speculations
of other Great Religions - offer His
followers sufficient guides for faith
and practice?
The answer given by American
Atheists - who say they offer a constructive alternative to religious faith
- is a clear "no" to both questions.
While they admit that they make up
only a minority of Americans, Atheists
say they are a growing force against
the armies of faith.
"I just can't see that religion makes
any sense," says John Shannon, a
member of the recently formed Sacramento chapter of The American
Atheists. "There are people who have

Page 8

trouble believing that I don't believe

in god. But I have trouble believing
that there are people who do."
Shannon is not alone. Figures on
numbers of Atheists in America are
slippery. But Madalyn Murray O'Hair,
editor of the American Atheist magazine, contends that some 25 percent
of Americans have no religious belief
and says she keeps 70,000 people on
her mailing list.
Shannon says the Sacramento chapter of American Atheists is small but
growing. "We have about 150 closet
Atheists around here and we just want
to get them out of there," adds
Richard Clifford, a 71-year-old "Catholic apostate" who turned to Atheism following the John Scopes "Monkey Trial" during the 1920s.
The American Atheists group will
hold its twice-a-month meeting Sunday at 10:30 a.m. in the Food Circus
in Arden Fair shopping center. "We
just have a good time, do a lot of
laughing. And any person who thinks
is welcome to come," says Clifford.
Other Atheists prefer a less-organized approach. Lucille Eaton, a 79year-old retiree, spends much of her
time reading anti-religion tracts and
composing letters to newspaper editors urging the abolition of organized
Why does she spend so much time
battling the faithful? "Because they've
done so much bad," says the life-long
Atheist. "There's hardly a day that
goes by that something doesn't come
out in the newspaper, not a day that
goes by that some preacher hasn't
done something bad, done something
And to make things worse in Eaton's mind, "We've got a born-again
Christian in the White House. And he's
got this fundamental
preacher in
Georgia he consults with all the time.
That's against the Constitution. I think
the church and the state ought to be
separated entirely. And that's what I
fight for. If I were younger, I'd really
give 'em hell."
Although arguments vary from one
non-believer to another, Atheists tend
to attack religion along three major

January, 1980

fronts. They point to what they

believe is religion's destruction of the
First Amendment separation of church
and state. Others point to the abuses
of Jonestown and fly-by-night evangelists and argue that religion steals
believers blind without offering any
value in return. And still others suggest that religious scripture, and especially the Bible, is contradictory or
Eaton sharpened her Atheistic opinion on the whetstone of lectures by
Robert G. Ingersoll, militant agnostic
speaker and author in the late 1800s.
Eaton says the Bible sometimes approaches pornography
and priests,
ministers, and rabbis are slothful
"Just read the first five books of
the Bible. It's the filthiest thing you
ever read. If they ever put that in the
movies, it would put Playboy out of
business," she says.
"And take those churches. They
pay no taxes. They beg, they do no
work. That's one reason I'm against
religion. They ought to be taxed.
Shannon, a political Libertarian,
says American churches have strayed
over the boundary which separates
them from the state.
"We're trying to push back the
power that the church has." Pointing
to what he considers First Amendment
transgressions - in such as prayer in
schools and "In God We Trust"
stamped on US coins - Shannon says,
"I'm offended that I have to partake,
and I don't want to participate."
America could replace its "theocracy" with an "ethical and humane
society" built on Atheism, Shannon
says. But first, he says, certain prerequisites must occur:
He says school teachers must be
"neutral", keeping their religious opinions to themselves. He wants the
theory of evolution to be taught with
at least as much emphasis as on theistic creation stories. And he wants
a voucher education system which
would create "alternative
without religious content.
Shannon also sees religious leaders
as the perpetrators
of sheer folly,

American Atheist

irrationality and avarice. Some examples:

The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
"That man, without a doubt, has a
lot of (mental) problems, and I'm glad
I'm not him."
Pope John Paul II. "During his trip
to America, all he did was dictate to
people what they could do and what
they could not do."
The Rev. Billy Graham. "The only
thing I see in him is a plate going down
the aisle. But, in a way, I'm not really
against him. He does his job and he
does it well."

Eaton, on the other hand, does

have something against evangelist Graham. Her eyes drift slowly toward an
Ingersoll saying hanging above her
bed: "The hands that help are better
than the lips that pray."
"Here ," she says, handing over a
clipping from the Charlotte, N.C. Observer newspaper which contends that
Graham's organization is worth an estimated $23 million. "Now what do
you think about that? This Jesus
Christ he's always talking about didn't
have that kind of money. He lived like
some kind of hermit."

In the final analysis, the Atheists

say, it is not churches they object to,
but the tax exemptions granted to
churches at the expense of society. It
is not religious mythology per se that
they disagree with, but the pervasiveness of religious symbols in American
life - imposed on believers and nonbelievers alike.
Says Shannon: "I believe in freedom of religion as well as freedom
from religion. I belive in Atheism as an
alternate way of life. All I'm trying to
do is eliminate some of the power and
influence the churches have."

News Tidbits

Arthur R. Melier

In the kind of decision that appears to be getting more and
more common as more and more suits are brought against religion in government, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
has ruled that "There is no evidence that a great degree of government entanglement with religion is occasioned by the employment of legislative chaplains."
In other words, the court is saying, "Yeah, it is a violation
of the constitution, but not enough of one to really matter."
The court was ruling on a request from a former state representative, H. Thomas 010 of Athol, Mass., and 20 other taxpayers for an injunction against payment of a $9,950 salary to
the chaplain of the Massachusetts Senate, a Rt. Rev. Msgr., and
$7,883 to the House chaplain, also a Rev. Msgr.
Justice Francis J. Quirico said in the 16-page unanimous opinion that the case appears to be the first in the country on the
constitutionality of spending government money to have prayers said at the opening of the legislative day.
"The complete obliteration of all vestiges of religious tradition from our public life is unnecessary to carry out the goals
of nonestablishment and religious freedom set forth in our
state and federal constitutions," the decision read. That's like
telling a prisoner in jail, "We're going to make you a free man,
but you're going to have to report in and be locked in jail for
five minutes each morning."
Another claim rejected by the court was that two persons
of the same religious faith (Roman Catholic) had been appointed to these positions for about 20 years, indicating
discrimination and violating the equal protection clause of the
U.S. Constitution.
The justices' out on this one was that it had not been demonstrated that "any other person has ever been denied appointment, a necessary element of any equal protection claim,
or that such decisions were based on religious discrimination."
However, this leaves the door open for a new case somewhere where someone not of the right faith has been denied
appointment, which shouldn't be hard to find.


The judges' lengthy opinion goes into a lot of First Amendment history in an attempt to justify this slippery decision by
saying things were even more slippery back in the old days.

Austin, Texas

Say the judges: " ... certainly the degree of intermingling

of religious and secular life was much greater at the time the
First Amendment was being debated than it is today.
"Most of the original states, including Massachusetts, had
established churches supported directly by tax dollars, and
there was often little tolerance for dissenting religious views,"
the opinion states.
This appears to be arguing that the First Amendment was
violated before it became law. Apparently the judges feel this
justifies violating it after its passage into law _If this principle is
adopted by many more courts of law, it could prove a turning
point in the history of jurisprudence. Nobody would have to
obey any law if it was violated before it became law. That's
just how silly this decision is.


The taxpayers of Albuquerque, N.M., haven't been consulted about it, but their money has been used to help scare the
bejesus into Baptist teenagers.
Since, in the United States, religion does the oppressing
rather than is the victim of any oppression, a youth minister of
Sandia Baptist Church, decided he'd have to fake a little oppression to make believers of the kids.
Pretending he was holding a secret religious meeting, he invited the youths to meet one night on the second floor of an
abandoned building on Silver Avenue.
When more than 40 of them had settled into a circle on the
floor, holding candles, and had been launched into a few verses
of "Amazing Grace," the part of the lesson paid for by the
taxpayers began.
A man in city police uniform burst open the door and announced that church worship was forbidden. All the kids, he
said, were under arrest. If any of the kids were smiling at the
demonstration, they stopped when the policeman, singled out
one youth, used his billy club to spread his legs, frisked him
and shoved him roughtly to the head of a line leading to the
Then, would you believe, the kids were loaded into a waiting van and transported to the old county jail. A few of the
girls sniffled on the way to the jail, but the minster made
things right by starting up another hymn.

January, 1980


Page 9

It' was the first time most of the kids had .been behind bars,
and they didn't iike it. The iron bars were locked on them, the
steel trap window slammed shut, and they were left in silence.
If the whole charade didn't make believers of the kids, it
made Christians out of the city's taxpayers - whether they:
wanted to be or not.



Catholic Relief Service is conducting. an operation in easern Thailand whereby starving Cambodians who come across
the unmarked border are being given rice, powdered milk,
medicine and other supplies .
..--. Pretty noble of the Roman Catholics? It would appear so,
until one gets the rest of the picture. They are doing it with
money provided by the United States, -"'Washington just recently gave $300,000 for expanding the
So now it's official. A U.S. District Court has upheld a mission, the only form of aid from the west reaching Cambodschool board's right to ban books from school libraries on the. ia, which is threatened with famine.
~qunds that-they are +among other things - anti-Christian or
In revealing the operation, a spokesman at the offices of the
antl-Semitie., " ' .,
Catholic Relief Services in New York City praised the coopera, The case involved 11 books - two of them Pulitizer Prize tion of Morton I. Abromowitz, the American ambassador in
winners - that the the Island Trees, N.Y., school board threw Thailand, and Christian Holmes, of the Agency for Internaout of the school library in 1976,..
tional Development in Washington, for working to get the U.S.
In upholding this action, the .district court judge had-this to funding for the church. In fact, he suggested, with a laugh,
say: "Here, the issue, is-whether the, First Amendment requires ; that both should be canonized.
a federal court to forbid a school board from removing library,
Nobody explained why the United States, being willing to
books which its members find to be inconsistent with the basic go to this much trouble, didn't go the rest of the way and disvalues of-the community that elected them. While removal of tribute the food itself, instead of providing the money for it to
such books from a school library may, - indeed, in this court's
be done by a group obviously interested in making converts
view does ~ .reflect a misguided -educational philosophy, it and showing favoritism to its own adherents.
does not constitute a sharp and direct infringement of any
Of course, the Catholic spokesman claims that the convoys
First Amendment right."
of trucks carrying the food to the mission are supervised by
;Fortunately , there are, those who response to this weaseling the UnitedStates Embassy in Bangkok, and the embassy's .repstatement is, "In a pig's eye it. doesn't." The case is expected
resentatives watch the handover.of fOQd .and supplies. But the
to be appealed as far as the U.S. Supreme Court, which has impression most of the starving Cambodians get is that they
never ruled on book bans by school districts.
are being presented with the food by Roman Catholics. '
School boards' efforts to brainwash students. are on-the increase, with the National Education Association's Office for
Intellectual Freedom reporting 208 attempts to censor or remove library books between 1972 and 1976. And those are
just the cases that attracted, publicity - there .are undoubtedly
many more the NEA hasn't heard about.
Dorothy Massie of the NEA's Teacher Rights division feels
teachers and the books they use are becoming whipping boys
Now even the Gallup Poll admitsiC-'::religion is losing in
for parents who. want an answer to "increased violence and
the United States. .
sexual permissiveness and lower test. grades." Who are easier to
The 1979-80 survey recently published by ,the Princeton
blame than the schools?
Research Center, in contrast to the survey published
More than two dozen book-banning cases are now pending
in state and federal-courts , where the First Amendment is be- the year before, doesn't trumpet the possibility of a religious
ing invoked to stop school boards from hiding the truth from, revival in the nation. Instead, it admits things are not looking
students. Apparently none of the school boards involved have good for organized religion.
The figures the poll can't overlook include a figure of 41
pondered how a dishonest act like banning books is going to
for churchgoing in this country, which is exactly the
inspire children to higher morality, but there you have it.
In fact, Island Trees hasn't stopped at banning books like same as it was last year and is down from 49 percent in 1958.
The pollsters found the majority of American adults feel
Desmond Morris' The Naked Ape and Eldridge Cleaver's Soul
on Ice, ,it has gotten into ,such nonsense as trying to merge a that religion is losing influence over society.
Furthermore, most Americans believe Sunday has lost any
student newspaper with .a district newsletter for the crime of
publishing "objectionable material" like a picture of a math spiritual significance. Asked what they did on Sunday more of
teacher holding his nose after the district lost a football game. those polled cited rest and relaxation than any other activity .
Second most popular activity was visiting friends, and churchThere were seven students arrested in 1977 for ,demonstrating
against too strict attendance policies, and there was an Italian- going was tied for third with reading newspapers.
A whopping 75 percent rated the home over the church as
American teacher reinstated by the Court of Appeals after bemost vital in the religious and spiritual growth of their chiling denied tenure because of his national origin. He was later
dren. And this seemed to be reflected in the fact that 77perfired.
cent of the teenagers questioned felt they could be good ChrisSo much for Island Trees' attempts to improve the morality
tians or Jews without going to church of synagogue.
of its students. Can you imagine what would happen if someOnly 22 percent said they studied the Bible.
one tried to put a book on Atheism in the Island Trees' school
Roman Catholics, particularly, were down on ,the policies
of'their church. Sixty-nine percent of the Catholics polled felt
divorced Catholics should be allowed to remarry in the church .
. Seventy-three percent felt they should be permitted to prac-". tiee.birth -eontrol, while 44 percent wanted relaxation of the
church's strictures against abortion"" "" '_~




Page 10

January, 1980

American Atheist

Do Scientists Believe
In God?

Isaac Asimov
By permission of Gallery magazine
(c) copyright 1979 by Montcalm Publishing Corp.
Some scientists are making their peace with theology. If
we listen to them, they will tell us that science has only magaged to find out, with a great deal of pain, suffering, storm,
and strife, exactly what theologians knew all along.
A case in point is Robert Jastrow, an authentic professor
of astronomy who has now written a book called God and the
Astronomers. In it he explains that astronomers have discovered that the Universe began very suddenly and catastrophically in what is called a big bang and that they're upset about
The theologians, however, Jastrow says, are happy about
it, because the Bible says that the Universe began very suddenly when god said, Let there be light!
Or, to put it in Jastrow's very own words: "For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the
story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of
ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls
himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."
If I can read the English language, Jastrow is saying that astronomers were sure, to begin with, that the Bible was all
wrong; that if the Bible said the Universe had a beginning, astronomers were sure the Universe had no beginning; that.when
they began to discover that the Universe did have a beginning,
they were so unhappy at the Bible being right that they grew
all downcast about their own discoveries.
Nothing In Common

heaven and the earth), with the whole process taking six days.
In fact, whereas the Earth was created at the very beginning of
creation, the Sun, Moon, and stars were not created until the
fourth day.
The astronomer, on the other had, thinks the Universe was
created 15 billion years ago and the Earth (together with the
Sun and the Moon) was not created until a little less than five
billion years ago. In other words, for ten billion years the Universe existed, full of stars, but without the Earth (or the Sun
or the Moon).
2. The Bible says that in the six days of creation, the whole
job was finished (Thus' the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day god
ended his work which he had made).
The astronomer, on the other had, thinks stars were being
formed all through the 15 billion years since the Universe was
created. In fact, stars are still being formed now, and planets
and satellites along with them; and stars will continue being
formed for billions of years to come.
3. The Bible says that human beings were created on the
sixth day of creation, so that the Earth was empty of human
intelligence for five days only.
The biologist, on the other hand, thinks (and the astronomer does not disagree) the earliest beings that were even.vaguely human didn't appear on the Earth until well over 41h billion
years after its creation.
4. The Bible doesn't say when the creation took place, but
the most popular view among the theologians on that mountain peak is that creation took place in 4004 B.C. ,-,
As I've said, the astronomer thinks creation took place 15
billion years ago.
5. The Bible says the Universe was created through the
word of god.
The astronomer, on the other hand, thinks the Universe
was created through the operation of the blind, unchanging
laws of nature - the same laws that are in operation today.
(Notice, by the way, that in these comparisons I say, "The
Bible says ... " but "The astronomer thinks ... " That is because theologians are always certain in their conclusions and
scientists are always tentative in theirs. That, too, is animportant distinction.)

Furthermore, if I can continue to read the English language,

Jastrow is implying that since the Bible has all the answers after all, the theologians have been sitting on the mountain
peak for centuries - it has been a waste of time, money, and
effort for astronomers to have been peering through their
little spyglasses all this time.
Perhaps Jastrow, abandoning his "faith' in the power of
reason" (assuming he ever had it). will now abandon his science and pore over the Bible until he finds out what a quasar
is, and whether the Universe is open or closed, and where
black holes might exist - questions astronomers are working ,
Theologians On Their Backs
with now. Why should he waste his time in observatories?
But I don't think Jastrow will, because I don't really think
These are enormous differences, and it would be a very unhe believes that all the answers are in the Bible - or that he usual astronomer who could imagine finding any theologians
takes his own book very seriously.
on his mountain peak. Where are the theologians who said that
In the first place, any real comparison between what the
creation took place 15 billion years ago? That the Earth was
Bible says and what the astronomer thinks shows us instantly
formed ten billion years later? That human beings appeared
that the two have virtually nothing in common. And here are 4% billion years later still?
some real comparisons:
Some theologians may be willing to believe this now, but
1. The Bible says that the Earth was created at the same
that would only be because scientists showed them the mountime as the Universe was (In the beginning, god created the
tain peak and carried them up there.

Austin, Texas

January, 1980

. Page 11

So what the devil is Jastrow talking about? Where is the

similarity between the book of Genesis and astronomical conclusions?
One thing. One thing only.
The Bible says the Universe had a beginning. The astronomer thinks the Universe had a beginning.
That's all.
But even this similarity is not significant, because it represents a conclusion, and conclusions are cheap. Anyone can
reach a conclusion - the theologian, the astronomer, the shoeshine boy down the street.
Anyone can reach a conclusion in any way -by guessing
it, by experiencing a gut feeling about it, by dreaming it, by
copying it, by tossing a coin over it.
And no matter who reaches a conclusion, and no matter
how he manages to do it, he may be right, provided there are
a sharply limited number of possible conclusions. If eight
horses are running a race, you might bet on a particular horse
because the jockey is wearing your favorite colors or because
the horse looks like your Aunt Hortense - and you may win
just the same.
If two men are boxing for the championship and you toss
a coin to pick your bet, you have one chance in two of being
right - even if the fight is rigged.
How does this apply to the astronomical and theological
view of the Universe? Well, we're dealing with something in
which there are a sharply limited number 'Of conclusions more than a two-man prizefight, but fewer than an eight-animal horserace. There are, after all, just three things that might
be happening to the Universe in the long run:
A. The. Universe may be unchanging, on the whole, and
therefore have neither a beginning nor an end - like a fountain, which, although individual water drops rise and fall,
maintains its overall shape indefinitely.
B. The Universe may be changing progressively; that is,
in one direction only, and may therefore have a distinct beginning and a different end -like a person, who is born, grows
older (never younger), and eventually dies.
C. The Universe may be changing' cyclicly, back and forth,'
and therefore have an end that is at the beginning, so ~hat the
process starts over endlessly - like the seasons, which progress
from spring, through summer, fall, and winter, but then return to spring again, so that the process starts over.
A Myth Shared By At! Mythmakers
If theologians or astronomers, or the shoe shine boy down
the street, choose from one of these three by picking one of
three different cards in a hat, they will each have a one-inthree chance of being right.
It is not, however, by sheer chance that a decision is usually come to in this case. All our experience tells us that
various familiar objects have a beginning and an end. A loaf
of bread is baked and finally is eaten; a suit of armor is fashioned and finally rusts; a human being is born and finally dies.
For that reason, alternative B seems intuitively the likely situation with respect to the Earth and the Universe.
It is not surprising, then, that people generally think there
must have been a beginning to the Universe, and that even
theologians think so. It is not only our Biblical theologians
who think so, almost all mythmakers did. The world had a beginning in the Greek and Norse mythologies and, for that matter, in the Babylonian mythology from which the exiled Jews
borrowed (with modifications) their own Genesis tale.
It is not only our theologians who are sitting on Jastrow's
mountain peak, but a whole melange of primitive bards and
medicine men. Now, it seems, the astronomers also suspect

Page 12

that alternative B is correct, that the Universe had a beginning,

and they are sitting on the same mountain peak.
But conclusions don't matter. The mountain peak means
nothing, since you can get there by guessing. What counts is
the route one takes to the mountain peak.
Theologians, mythmakers, legend-constructors, dreamers all of them but not scientists, derive their conclusions from intuition, or by whatever words you use to mean intuition divine revelation, transcendental meditation, sudden enlightenment, dreams, inspiration. The words don't matter; they all
mean that the conclusion is born from within one person.
But how can you check out a conslusion that comes from
inside some other person? The results of one person's intuition cannot force another to believe. In other words, they are
not compelling.
Oh, yes, the charismatic dreamer can sweep people along
on a tide of emotionalism. He can convert them into armies,
and send them out to kill - or, as we have recently seen, to
commit suicide. What's that got to do with the truth?
These hot-blooded attempts to find truth by intuition
mean nothing to the intellectual history of humanity, except
insofar as they have barred the way to an increase in our
knowledge of the Universe and have succeeded in keeping us
longer in the mire of ignorance.
Science - of which astronomy is one branch - is the one
human endeavor that does not rely on intuition. Intuition
pops up here and there on the road science travels, but the
final decision on which branch to follow at each of an infinite
number of intersections is based on careful observation and
measurement of natural phenomena and deliberately arranged
experiments. Deductions and inductions are made from those
observations and measurements, according to the established
and universally accepted rules of reason. What's more, everything is done in the open, and nothing can be accepted unless
and until those observations and measurements are repeated independently ..
Even then the acceptance of a particular "truth" is never
more than tentative. It is always subject to change, since
further, better, and more extensive observations and measurements may be made, and more subtly reasoned inductions and
deductions can lead to more elegant and useful conclusions.
The result is that, despite controversy in the preliminary
stages (and the controversy can be acrimonious, emotional,
ill-advised, or all three - for scientists are human beings, too)
a consensus is eventually reached. Because arguments from
reason are compelling.
What's more, scientists accept defeat. They may do so with
poor grace, but they accept it. There are examples of this all
through the history of science,
What counts, then, is not that astronomers are currently
of the opinion that the Universe is changing progressively
and therefore had a beginning. What counts is the long chain
of careful investigation that led to the observation of redshifts in galactic spectra (the lengthening of light-waves emitted by galaxies, which shows those galaxies are moving away
from .us) that supports that opinion.
Questions No Theologian Can Answer
What counts is not that astronomers are currently of the
opinion that there was once a big bang, in which an enormously concentrated "cosmic egg" that contained all the matter
there is exploded with unimaginably catastrophic intensity to
form the Universe. What counts is the long chain of investigation that led to the observation of the isotropic radio wave
background (shortwave radio waves that reach Earth faintly,
and equally, from all directions) that supports that opinion.

January, 1980

American Atheist

So when the astronomer climbs the mountain, it is irrelevant whether theologians are sitting at the peak or not, if they
have not climbed the mountain,
As a matter of fact, the mountain peak is no mountain
peak; it is merely another crossroad, The astronomer will continue to climb. Jastrow seems to think the search has come to
an end and there is nothing more for astronomers to find.
There occasionally have been scientists who thought the search
was allover. They are frequently quoted today, because scientists like a good laugh.
What was the cosmic egg and how did it come to explode
at a particular moment in time? How did it form? Was there
something before the big bang? Will the results of the explosion make themselves felt forever, or will the exploding fragments at some time begin to come together again? Will the
cosmic egg form again and will there be another big bang?
Is it alternative C that is the true explanation of the Universe?
- these are only some of the infinite number of questions that
those astronomers who are not convinced It is allover are interested in. In their search they may eventually reach new and
better conclusions, find new and higher mountain peaks, and
no doubt, find on each peak guessers and dreamers who have
been sitting there for ages and will continue to sit there. And
the scientists will pass by on a road that, it seems possible, will
never reach an end, but will provide such interesting scenery
en route that this, by itself, gives meaning to life and mind
and thought.
There is nothing to Jastrow's implication that astronomers
are disturbed by the prospect of a big-bang beginning because,
presumably, they hate to admit that theologians were on the
mountain peak before them. This seems wrong to me.
In 1948, some astronomers (including the well-known
Fred Hoyle) worked out a closely reasoned theory that made
it seem that, despite the established notions of the existence of
an expanding Universe, there were nobig bang and no beginning; that there was an eternal Universe without beginning or
end. The theory was called "continuous creation."
Did astronomers in general leap gleefully behind Hoyle, to
thumb their noses at. the theologians? Not at all. The majority
were hostile. Evidence for the big bang was stronger than for
continuous creation, and as time went on, the evidence for the
big bang grew stronger still. Now the theory of continuous
creation is just about dead.
Astronomers didn't hesitate to follow the trail of evidence
to the big bang, just because it might have led them to the
theologians. I don't think many of them even dreamed of it
as leading to them.
The Cyclic Universe

Frankly, I find such a cyclic Universe more emotionally

satisfying (I am human; I have emotions) than a one-shot
beginning and ending. My intuition, if you like, tells me that
astronomers will find that missing matter and will decide that
the Universe is cyclic and that there is no beginning after all
and no ending, only endless repetitions, endless bouncings,
endless pulsation.
That is only my intuition, I repeat, and what makes me a
scientist is that if the evidence in favor of a one-shot Universe
continues to increase, I will abandon my intuition without a
quiver. I have done so in other cases, as for instance when I
opposed the drifting of the continents and then accepted it as
more evidence came in. If, on the other hand, my intuition
turns out to be correct, what happens to Jastrow's mountain
No doubt Jastrow will hurriedly seek and find other Biblical quotations and quickly transport his theologians to some
other mountain peak with instructions to say they have occupied it for centuries.
The scientific road is painful, hard, and slow, and to some
(poor souls) the delights are not worth the effort. King Ptolemy of Egypt once asked Euclid, the mathematician, to instruct him in geometry, and Euclid undertook the task. Ptolemy grew restless at the slow progress, however, and finally
ordered Euclid to make his proofs simpler.
"Sir," said Euclid haughtily, "there is no royal road to
But how tempting to seek the royal road when one can't
face the mental perspiration of the tedious step-by-step. That's
what makes intuition seem so delightful to most people. ("Oh,
don't give me your arguments. I just know ..... ").
It even tempts Fritjof Capra, a physicist at the University
of California who has written The Tao of Physics. He thinks,
apparently, that what physicists have found out with great
difficulty, Eastern sages have known all along. There's the old
mountain peak.
Capra cites the Chinese notion of yin and yang, where yin
represents the rational mode of thought and yang the intuitional, and believes them to be the "two sides of the same
reality" or "polar areas of a-single whole."
All right. No argument. Every scientist uses both reason
and intuition in his attack on problems - but in .the end the
two are not equal. If intuition overwhelmingly suggests a conclusion, it still must be supported by reason, or else it is only
soap-bubble speculation. If, on the other hand, the conclusion
of reason goes against intuition, then reason must nevertheless
be supported and intuition dismissed.
Capra seems to imply that they are equal, and he points
out that modern physics, in probing into the most fundamental aspects of matter and energy, has come up with a picture in which the Universe seems to be "a continuous dancing
and vibrating motion whose rhythmic patterns are determined
by the molecular, atomic, and nuclear structures."
He then quotes a Taoist text to the following effect: "The
stillness in stillness is not the real stillness. Only when there is
stillness in movement can the spiritual rhythm appear which
pervades heaven and earth." This, says Capra, is "exactly the
message we get from modem atomic physics."

Then why are there anti-beginning feelings among astronomers, if not because of anti-theological bigotry? Because the
results are not all in yet.
Considering the amount of matter in the Universe, as far
as astronomers can now tell, the Universe is going to expand,
forever. There was one big bang at the beginning and one
infinite scattering at the end. That's it.
If, however, there should be about a hundred times as
much matter in the Universe as astronomers think there is,
Selected Scraps Of Elliptical Obscurity
then gravitation will be sufficiently intense to bring a halt to
the expansion, force a gradual contraction, produce another
But what does the Taoist text mean? I can see that "stillcosmic egg and another big bang, over and over. This would
be like a ball bouncing high, gradually brought to a halt in . ness in movement" represents dynamic equilibrium and that
its upward climb by the pull of gravity, falling faster and it is the latter that is important in the Universe - but that is
faster, hitting the ground, bouncing upward again, and so on, my interpretation, based on my knowledge of science. What
over and over. In that case, alternative C, not alternative B, did it mean to the fellow who first said it? And what other
interpretations can be made of it by people who don't have
is the truth.

Austin, Texas

January, 1980

Page 13

my particular cast of mind?

Many Eastern sages have said many things in elliptical and
obscure language, even in the original, which suffer further
in the translation. Anyone as imaginative and dedicated as
Fritjof Capra (or even someone more limited, such as myself)
can go through the vast volume of Eastern sage-sayings and
corne up with remarks that can be interpreted to seem to
match any scientific conclusion.
Capra says that all mystical traditions, East and West,
agree with modem physics. Of course they do, if one person
(Capra, for instance) undertakes to interpret selected scraps
of statements from each of them in his own way.
And if modem physics changes its mind, as it has in the
past when new evidence came in, what then? In that case,
no doubt, one person (still Capra, perhaps) will find other
scraps of mystical tradition and subject them to new interpretations and come up with another match.
But if intuition is as important to the world as reason, and
if the Eastern sages are as knowledgeable about the Universe
as physicists are, then why not take matters in reverse? Why
not use the wisdom of the East as a key to some of the unanswered questions in physics? For instance:

What ~ the basic component making up subatomic particles

that physicists call a quark? How many different quarks are
there? What is the relationship between the intensity of their
interactions and distance? Are the leptons - the lightest
particles, such as the electron - made up of anything simpler?
Are there any additional heavy leptons? How many? What is
the relationship between quarks and leptons? And so on.
Physicists are attempting to find answers to these questions
by using enormously expensive instruments to study cosmic
rays and to promote high-energy particle interactions - that
is, the smashing together of subatomic particles at enormous
speeds to see what changes are produced. It would be much
simpler to study Taoist texts for the answers. But if Taoist
texts can only be properly understood after physicists reach
the answers, then of what scientific use are the Taoist texts?
What nonsense all this supposed intuitional truth is, and
how comic is the sight of the genuflections made to it by
rational minds who lost their nerve.
No, it isn't really comic; it's tragic. There has been at least
one other occasion in history when Greek secular and rational
thought bowed to the mystical aspects of Christianity, and
what followed was a Dark Age.
We can't afford another.

"Oh ye of little faith."


Page 14

January, 1980

American Atheist

The Woman's Bible

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, et al


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Part One - Introduction

and Chapter One

With this issue begins the serialization of The Woman's

Bible, edited by the great American Atheist Elizabeth Cady
Stanton. The book was largely written by Stanton, with portions contributed by Lillie Devereux Blake, Rev. Phebe Hanaford, Clara Bewick Colby, Ellen Battelle Dietrick, Ursula N.
Gestefield, Mrs. Louisa Southworth, and Francis Ellen Burr.
The Woman's Bible was a significant point in the early
Feminist Movement, representing a peak when perhaps the
movement could have broken free of its debilitating attachment to religion. It failed to do so, and the sorry state of
feminism today proves the tragedy of it. ERA is definitely
endangered, and the only successful pro-choice activist is Bill
Baird - a man! That Women's Lib (that pale ghost of the
Feminist Movement that Stanton and Susan B. Anthony led)
is in such a shambles today is directly the result of overt and
covert activity by the churches.
The Woman's Bible should be read by every feminist, and
every feminist should understand its atheistic message can be
the salvation of feminism.

From the inauguration of the movement for woman's

emancipation the Bible has been used to hold her in the "divinely ordained sphere," prescribed in the Old and New Testaments.

Austin, Texas

The canon and civil law; church and state; priests and legislators; all political parties and religious denominations have
alike taught that woman was made after man, of man, and for
man, an inferior being, 'Subject to man. Creeds, codes, Scriptures and statutes, are all based on this idea. The fashions,
forms, ceremonies and customs of society, church ordinances
and discipline all grow out of this idea.
Of the old English common law, responsible for woman's
civil and political status, Lord Brougham said, "it is a disgrace
to the civilization and Christianity of the Nineteenth century."
Of the canon law, which is responsible for woman's status in
the church, Charles Kingsley said, "this will never be a good
world for women until the last remnant of the canon law is
swept from the face of the earth."
The Bible teaches that woman brought sin and death into
the world, that she precipitated the fall of the race, that she
was arraigned before the judgment seat of Heaven, tried, condemned and sentenced. Marriage for her was to be a condition
of bondage, maternity a period of suffering and anguish, and
in silence and subjection, she was to play the role of a dependent on man's bounty for all her material wants, and for all
the information she might desire on the vital questions of the
hour, she was commanded to as~ her husband at home. Here
is the Bible position of woman briefly summed up.
Those who hav~ the divine in~ight to ~ran.slate, transpose
~d .transfigure this mournful object ~f Pity mto an exalted,
dignified personage, worthy our worship as the mother of the
race, are to be congratulated as having a share of the occult
mystic power of the eastern Mahatmas.
The plain English to the ordinary mind admits of no such
liberal interpretation. The unvarnished texts speak for themselves. The canon law, church ordinances and Scriptures, are
homogeneous, and all reflect the same spirit and sentiments.
These familiar texts are quoted by clergymen in their pulpits, by statesmen in the halls of legislation, by lawyers in the
courts, and are echoed by the press of all civilized nations,
and accepted by woman herself as "the Word of God." So
perverted is the religious element in her nature, that with faith
and works she is the chief support of the -church and clergy;
the very powers that make her emancipation impossible.
When, in the early part of the Nineteenth century, women began to protest against their civil and political degradation, they
were referred to the Bible for an answer. When they protested
against their unequal position in the church, they were referred to the Bible for an answer.
This led to a general and critical study of the Scriptures.
Some, having made a fetish of these books and believing them
to be the veritable "Word of God," with liberal translations,
interpretations, allegories and symbols, glossed over the most
objectionable features of the various books and clung to them
as divinely inspired. Others, seeing the family resemblance between the Mosaic code, the canon law, and the old English
Common law, came to the conclusion that all alike emanated
from the same source; wholly human in their origin and inspired by the natural love of domination in the historians.
Others, bewildered with their doubts and fears, came to no

January, 1980

Page 15

their creeds and dogmas? Forty years ago it seemed as ridiculous to timid, time-serving and retrograde folk for women to
demand an expurgated edition of the laws, as it now does to
demand an expurgated edition of the liturgies and the Scriptures.
Come, come, my conservative friend, wipe the dew off
your spectacles, and see that the world is moving. Whatever
your views may be as to the importance of the proposed work,
your political and social degradation are but an outgrowth of
your status in the Bible. When you express your aversion,
based on a blind feeling of reverence in which reason has no
control, to the revision of the Scriptures, you do but echo
Cowper, who, when asked to read Paine's Rights of Man,
exclaimed, "No man shall convince me that I am improperly
governed while I feel the contrary."

The Grand Project

While their clergymen told them on the one hand, that they
owed all the blessings and freedom they enjoyed to the Bible,
on the other, they said it clearly marked out their circumscribed sphere of action: that the demands for political and
civil rights were irreligious, dangerous to the stability of the
home, the state and the church. Clerical appeals were circulated from time to time conjuring members of their churches
to take no part in the anti-slavery or woman suffrage movements, as they were infidel in their tendencies, undermining
the very foundations of society. No wonder the majority of
women stood still, and with bowed heads, accepted the situation.
Listening to the varied opinions of women, I have long
thought it would be interesting and profitable to get them
clearly stated in book form. To-this end six years ago I proThe Highest Truth Not Compromise
posed to a committee of women to issue a Woman's Bible;
that we might have women's commentaries on woman's posiOthers say it is not politic to rouse religious opposition.
tion in the Old and New Testaments. It was agreed on by This much-lauded policy is but another word for cowardice.
several leading women in England and America and the work How can woman's position be changed from that of a subwas begun, but from various causes it has been delayed, until . ordinate to an equal, without opposition, without the broadnow the idea is received with renewed enthusiasm, and a large est discussion of all the questions involved in her present decommittee has been formed, and we hope to complete the gradation? For so far-reaching and momentous a reform as her
work within a year.
.complete independence, an entire revolution in all existing
Those who have undertaken the labor are desirous to have institutions is inevitable.
some Hebrew and Greek scholars, versed in Biblical criticism,
Let us remember that all reforms are interdependent, and
to gild our pages with their learning. Several distinguished
that whatever is done to establish one principle on a solid
women have been urged to do so, but they are afraid that their basis, strengthens all. Reformers who are always eompromishigh reputation and scholarly attainments might be compro- ing, have not yet grasped the idea that truth is the only safe
mised by taking part in an enterprise that for a time may prove ground to stand upon. The object of an individual life is not
very unpopular. Hence we may not be able to get help from to carry one fragmentary measure in human progress, but to
that class.
utter the highest truth clearly seen in all directions, and thus
Others fear that they might compromise their evangelical to round out and perfect a well balanced character. Was not
faith by affiliating with those of more liberal views, who do the sum of influence exerted by John Stuart Mill on political,
not regard the Bible as the "Word of God," but like any other religious and social questions far greater than that on any
book, to be judged by its merits. If the Bible teaches the statesman or reformer who has sedulously limited his symequality of Woman, why does the church refuse to ordain pathies and activities to carrying one specific measure? We
women to preach the gospel, to fill the offices of deacons and have. many women abundantly endowed with capabilities to
elders, and to administer the Sacraments, or to admit them as understand and revise what men have thus far written. But
delegates to the Synods, General Assemblies and Conferences
they are all suffering from inherited ideas of their inferiority;
of the different denominations? They have never yet invited a they do not perceive it, yet such is the true explanation of
woman to join one of their Revising Committees, nor tried to their solicitude, lest they should seem to be too self-asserttng.
mitigate the sentence pronounced on her by changing one
Again there are some who write us that our work is a usecount in the indictment served on her in Paradise.
less expenditure of force over a book that has lost its hold on
The large number of letters received, highly appreciative of the human mind. Most intelligent women, they say, regard it
the undertaking, is very encouraging to those who have inaugusimply as the history of a rude people in a barbarous age, and
rated the movement, and indicate a growing self-respect and
have no more reverence for the Scriptures than any other
self-assertion in the women of this generation. But we have the
work. So long as tens of thousandsof Bibles are printed every
usual array of objectors to meet and answer. One corresponyear, and circulated -over "the whole habitable globe, and the
dent conjures us to suspend the work, as it is "ridiculous" for
masses in all English-speaking nations revere it as the word of
"women to attempt the revision of the Scriptures." I wonder
god, it is vain to belittle its i!lfluence.
if any man wrote to the late revising committee of Divines to
stop their work on the ground that it was ridiculous for men
to revise the Bible.
Why is it more ridiculous for women to protest against her
The sentimental feelings we all have for those things we
present status in the Old and New Testaments, in the ordinances and discipline of the church, than in the statutes and were educated to believe sacred, do not readily yield to pure
reason. I distinctly remember. the shudder that" passed over me
constitution of the state? Why is it more ridiculous to arraign
ecclesiastics for their false teaching and acts of injustice to _ seeing a .mother take our family Bible to make a high seat for
women, than members of Congress and the House of Com- her child at table. It seemed such a desecration. I was tempted
mons? Why is it more audacious to review Moses than Black- to protest against its use for such a purpose, and this, too, long
stone, the Jewish code of laws, than the English system of after my reason had repudiated its divine authority.
To women still believing in the plenary inspiration of the
jurisprudence? Women have compelled their legislators in
every state in this Union to so modify their statutes for Scriptures, we say give us by all means your exegesis in the
light of the higher criticism learned men are now making, and
women that the old common law is now almost a dead letter.
illumine the Woman's Bible, with your inspiration.
Why not compel bishops and Revising Committees to modify

Page 16

January, 1980


American Atheist

Hostile Criticism

The Boole of Genesis

Bible historians claim special inspiration for the Old and

Chapter One
New Testaments containing most contradictory records of the
same events, of miracles opposed to all known laws, of cusGenesis 1:26- And god said, Let us make man in our
toms that degrade the female sex of all human and animal life,
image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the
stated in most questionable language that could not be read in
fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cata promiscuous assembly, and-call all this "The Word of God."
tle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that
The only points in which I differ from all ecclesiastical
upon the earth.
teaching is that I do not believe that any man ever saw or
27 - So god created man in his own image, in the image of
talked with god, I do not believe that god inspired the Mosaic
code, or told the historians what they say he did about wo- god created he him; male and female created he them.
28 - And god blessed them, and god said unto them, Be
man, for all the religions on the face of the earth degrade her,
and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue
and so long as woman accepts the position that they assign
it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the
her, her emancipation is impossible. Whatever the Bible may
fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon
be made to do in Hebrew or Greek, in plain English it does not
the earth.
exalt and dignify woman. My standpoint for criticism is the revised edition of 1888. I will so far honor the revising commit**************************
tee of wise men who have given us the best exegesis they can
according to their ability, although Disraeli said the last one
Here is the sacred historian's first account of the advent
before he died, contained 150,000 blunders in the Hebrew
of woman; a simultaneous creation of both sexes, in the imand 7,000 in the Greek.
age of god. It is evident from the language that there was conBut the verbal criticism in regard to woman's position
sultation in the godhead, and that the masculine and feminine
amounts to little. The spirit is the same in all periods and
elements were equally represented. Scott in his commentaries
languages, hostile to her as equal.
says, "this consultation of the gods. is the origin of the doe-.
'There are some general principles in the holy books of all
trine of the trinity." But instead of three male personages, as
religions that teach love, charity; liberty, justice and equality
generally represented, a heavenly father, mother, and son
for all the human family, there are many grand and beautiful
seem more rational.
passages, the golden rule has been echoed and re-echoed
The first step in the elevation of woman to her true posiaround the world. There are lofty examples of good and true
tion,' as an equal factor in human progress, is the cultivation
men and women, all worthy of our acceptance and imitation
of the religious sentiment in regard to her dignity and equal-.
whose lustre cannot be dimmed by the false sentiments and
.ity, the recognition by the rising generation of an ideal heavenvicious characters bound up in the same volume.
ly mother, to whom their prayers should be addressed, as well
The Bible cannot be accepted or rejected as a whole, its
as to a father.
teachings are varied and its lessons differ widely from each
If language has any meaning, we have in these texts a plain
other. In criticising the peccadilloes of Sarah, Rebecca and
declaration of the existence of the feminine element in the
Rachel, we would not shadow the virtues of Deborah Huldah
godhead, equal in power and glory with the masculine. The
and Vashti. In criticising the Mosaic code we would not quesheavenly mother and father! "God created man in his own
tion the wisdom of the golden rule and the fifth commandimage, male and female." Thus Scripture, as well as science
and philosophy, declares the eternity and equallty-of sex Again the church claims special consecration for its cathethe philosophical fact, without which there could have been
drals and priesthood, parts of these aristocratic churches are
no perpetuation of creation, no growth or development in
too holy for women to enter, boys were early introduced into
the animal, vegetable, or mineral kingdoms, no awakening
the choirs for this reason, woman singing in an obscure comer
-nor progressing in the world of thought. The masculine and
closely veiled. A few of the more democratic denominations
feminine elements, exactly equal and balancing each other,
accord women some privileges, but invidious discriminations
are as essential to the maintenance of the equilibrium of the
of sex are found in all religious organizations, and the most
universe as positive and negative electricity, the centripetal
bitter outspoken enemies of woman are found among clergyand centrifugal forces, the laws of attraction which bind tomen and bishops of the Protestant religion.
The canon law, the Scriptures, the creeds and codes and gether all we know of this planet whereon we dwell and of
church discipline of the leading religions bear the impress of the system in which we revolve:
fallible man, and not of our ideal great first cause, "the Spirit
In the great work of creation the crowning glory was real~f all Good,". that set the universe of matter and mind in mo- ized, when man and woman were evolved on the sixth day,
tion, and by Immutable law holds the la?d, the sea, the pla~- the masculine and feminine forces in the image of god, that
ets, revolvmg round the great centre of light and heat, each m must have existed eternally, in all forms of matter and mind.
its own elliptic, with millions of stars in harmony all singing All the persons in the godhead are represented in the Elohim
together, the glory of creation forever and ever.
the divine plurality taking counsel in regard to this last and
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
highest form of life. Who were the members of this high
council, and were they a duality or a trinity? Verse 27 declares the image of god male and female. How then is it
possible to make woman an afterthought? We find in verses
.5-16 the pronoun "he" used. Should it not in harmony with
verse 26 be "they," a dual pronoun? We may attribute this to
the same cause asthe use of "his" in verse 11 instead of "it."
The fruit tree yielding fruit after "his" kind instead of after
"its" kind. The paucity of a language may give rise to ~any

January, 1980

Austin, Texas

Page 17

.The above texts plainly show the simultaneous creation of

man and woman, and their equal importance in the development of the race. All those theories based on the assumption
that man was prior in the creation, have no foundation in
As to woman's subjection, on which both the canon and
the civil law delight to dwell, it is important to note that equal
dominion is given to woman over every living thing, but not
one word is said giving.man dominion over woman.
Here is the first title deed to this green earth giving alike to
the sons and daughters of god. No lesson of woman's subjection .can be fairly drawn from the first chapter of the Old Testament,
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
How It Can Be Contradictory
The most important thing for a woman to note, in reading
Genesis, is that that portion which is now divided into "the
first three chapters" (there was no such division until about
five centuries ago), contains two entirely separate, and very
contradictory, stories of creation, written by two different,
but equally anonymous, authors. No Christian theologian of
today, with any pretensions to scholarship, claims that Genesis
was written by Moses.
As was long ago pointed out, the Bible itself declares that
all the books the Jews originally possessed were burned in the
destruction of Jerusalem, about 588 B.C., at the time the
people were taken to Babylonia as slaves to the Assyrians, (see
2 Esdras 14:21, Apocrypha). Not until about 247 B.C. (some
theologians say 226 and others 169 B.C.) is there any record
of a collection of literature in the re-built Jerusalem, and then,
the anonymous writer of 2 Maccabees briefly mentions that
some Nehemiah "gathered together the acts of the kings and
the prophets and those of David" when "founding a library"
for use in Jerusalem.
But the earliest mention anywhere in the Bible of a book
that might have corresponded to Genesis is made by llll apocryphal writer, who says that Ezra wrote "all that hath been
done in the world since the beginning," after the Jews returned from Babylon, under his leadership, about 450 B.C.
(see 2 Esdras 14:22, Apocrypha).
When it is remembered that the Jewish books were written
on rolls of leather, without much attention to vowel points
and with no division into verses or chapters, by uncritical
copyists,' who altered passages greatly, and did not always
.even pretend to understand what they were copying, then the
reader of Genesis begins to put herself in position to understand how it: can be contradictory. Great as were the liberties
which the Jews took with Genesis, those of the English translators, however, greatly surpassed them.
The first chapter of Genesis, for instance, in Hebrew, tells
us, in verses one and two, "As to origin, created the gods
(Elohimj-these skies (or air or clouds) and this earth ..... And
a wind' moved upon the face of the waters." Here we have the
opening of a polytheistic fable of creation, but, so strongly
convinced were the English translators that the ancient Hebrews must have been originally monotheistic that they
rendered the above, as follows: "In the beginning god created
the heaven and the earth ..... And the spirit of god (!) moved
u.pon the face of the waters."
It is now generally conceded that someone (nobody pretends to know who) at some time (nobody pretends to know
exactly when), copied two creation myths on the same leather
roil, one immediately following the other. About one bundred years ago, itwas discovered by Dr. Astruc, of France,
that from Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:4, is given one complete

Page 18

January, 1980

account of creation, by an author who always used the term

"the gods" (Elohim), in speaking of the fashioning of the universe, mentioning it altogether thirty-four times, while in
Genesis 2:4, to the end of chapter 3, we have a totally different narrative, by an author of unmistakably different style,
who uses the term "Iahveh [Yahweh is the preferred translation today - Ed.] of the gods" twenty times, but "Elohim"
only three times. The first author, evidently, attributes creation to a council of gods, acting in concert, and seems never
to have heard of lahveh. The second attributes creation to
lahveh, a tribal god of ancient Israel, but represents lahveh as
one of two or more gods, conferring with them (in Genesis
8:22) as to the danger of man's acquiring immortality.
Modern theologians have, for convenience sake, entitled
these two fables, respectively, the Elohistic and the lahoistic
[Yahwistic today - Ed.] stories. They differ, not only in the
point I have mentioned above, but in the order of the "creative acts;" in regard to the mutual attitude of man and woman,
and in regard to human freedom from prohibitions by deity.
In order to exhibit their striking contradictions, I will place
them in parallel columns:

Order of Creation:
male and female.

In this story male and female

man are created simultaneously,
both alike, in the image of the
gods, AFTER all animals have
been called into existence.

Man and woman are told that

'~every plant bearing seed upon
the face of the earth and every
tree ... To you it shall be meat.
They are thus given perfect freedom.


Man and woman are given special dominion over all the animals-"every
creeping thing that
creepeth upon the earth."

There is a tree of evil, whose

fruit, is said by Iahveh to cause
sudden death, but which does not
do so, as Adam lived 930 years after eating it.

Here, woman is-ilunished with

subjection to man for breaking a
prohibitory law.

exception, is pronounced "very good. "

In this story male man is sculptured out of clay, BEFORE any

animals are created, and BEFORE
female man has been constructed.

Here, joint dominion over the

earth is given to woman and man,
without limit or prohibition.

Order of Creation:
Third-Male man, only.
Fifth - Animals.

Man is told there is one tree of

which he must not eat, "for in the
day thou eatest thereof, thou
shalt surely die."

An animal, a "creeping thing,"

is given dominion over man and
woman, and proves himself more
Iahveh Elohim.
(Compare Genesis chapter ii, verse
17, with chapter iii, verses 4 and

American Atheist







Now as it is manifest that both of these stories cannot be

true; intelligent women, who feel bound to give the preference
to either, may decide according to their own judgment of
which is more worthy of an intelligent woman's acceptance.
Paul's rule is a good one in this dilemma, "Prove all things:
hold fast to that which is good." My own opinion is that the
second story was manipulated by some Jew, in an endeavor
to give "heavenly authority" for requiring a woman to obey
the man she married.
Ellen Battelle Dietrick
The Dual Principal

_ Many orientalists and students of theology have maintained

that the consultation-of-the ..gods here described is proof that
the Hebrews were in early days polytheists - Scott's supposition that this is the origin of the Trinity has no foundation in
fact, as the beginning of that conception is to be found in the
earliest of all known religious nature worship. The acknowledgment of the dual principal, masculine and feminine, is
much more probably the explanation of the expressions here
In the detailed description of creation we find a gradually
ascending series. Creeping things, "great sea monsters," (1:21,
literal translation). '''Every bird of wing," cattle and living
things of the earth, the fish of the sea and the "birds of the
heavens," then man, and last and crowning glory of the whole,
It cannot be maintained that woman was inferior to man
even if, as asserted in chapter 2, she was created after him
without at once admitting that man is inferior to the creeping
things, because created after them.
Lillie Devereux Blake


"1 Gatta Go"
.... ...




10th Natio'rial-A-nnual
American Atheist Convention
April, 1980
For information contact:
Helen Weaver. Covention Coordinator
Detroit Chapter. American Atheists
P.O. Box 37056
Oak Park MI 48237

Austin, Texas

January, 1980

Page 19

Ro ts
of theism
Elizabeth Cady Stanton in her autobiography [80 Years
and More - Reminiscences 1815-1897, T. Fisher Unwin edition, N. Y. 1898] noted that she began life "under favorable
circumstances" on November 12, 1815 and, indeed, this was
so. Her father, Daniel Cady was both a distinguished attorney,
a judge in the State of New York and a Representative in the
Congress. Her mother was Margaret Livingston, the daughter
of Col. James Livingston, of West Point, who had been with
General George Washington, having actively served in the "War
of the Revolution." The family was both monied and distinguished, having a commodious home and many servants, including slaves.
Elizabeth Cady's childhood and youth was a pleasant one,
spent in the Mohawk Valley, complete with nurses, tutors, special private schools and the largess and comforts both money
and prestige can obtain. Her father's position gave her access
to leaders in the community, to the court house, to town forums and posited her growth in a political and intellectual climate. From her childhood, she was accustomed to associate
with the most outstanding minds in the nation."
At age eleven, however, an only and older brother died and
seeing her father's grief at the loss, she determined to be an equal of males so that her father's grief at the loss of an only
son would be assuaged. In this determination, among her other
goals, she decided to master Greek and horsemanship. To this,
she later added Latin and Mathematics, at Johnstown Academy, a private tutoring school for the upper class, where she
was an advanced scholar until she graduated at about age sixteen.
In writing her own autobiography, reviewing over 80 years
of life, but especially looking back at her childhood, she spent
some time in the book expostulating on religion, the fear of
god, the dread of the ever present devil, the worms of hell, the
Prince of Darkness. The clanging of church bells, she wrote,
"filled me with the utmost dread." Further,
Visions of the Inferno were strongly impressed on my
childish imagination. It was thought, in those days, that'
firm faith in hell and the devil was the greatest help to
virtue. It certainly made me very unhappy whenever my
mind dwelt on such teachings, and I have always had my
doubts of the virtue that is based on the fear of punishment.
She rankled, even as a child, over the religious strictures
upon her most innocent conduct. She recalls a conversation
with her nursemaid as follows:
"Child what are you thinking about; are you planning
some new form of mischief?"

Page 20

"No, Mary," I replied, "I was wondering why it was that

everything we like to do is a sin, and that everything we dislike is commanded by God or someone on earth. I am so
tired of that everlasting no! no! no! At school, at home,
everywhere it is no! Even at church all the commandments
begin 'Thou shalt 1\0.' I suppose God will say 'no' to all we
like in the next world, just as you do here."
Mary was dreadfully shocked at my dissatisfaction with
the things of time and prospective eternity, and exhorted
me to cultivate the virtues of obedience and humility.
At the time of her brother's death. being just eleven years
of age, she was filled with dread.
Then came the sad pageantry of death, the weeping of
friends, the dark rooms, the ghostly stillness, the exhortation to the living to prepare for death, the solemn prayer,
the mournful chant, the funeral cortege, the solemn, tolling bell, the burial. How I suffered during those sad days!
What strange undefined fears of the unknown took possession of me!
In summing up her total life and reflecting on her formative
years, she wrote:
I can truly say, after an experience of seventy years, that
all the cares and anxieties, the trials and disappointments of
my whole life, are light, when balanced with my sufferings
in childhood and youth from the theological dogmas which
I sincerely believed, and the gloom connected with everything associated with the name of religion, the church, the
parsonage, the graveyard, and the solemn, tolling bell.
She felt that her church experiences, as a whole, even in the
atmosphere of her enlightened parents' home and her association with friends, were terrifying to her.
To be restless, or to fall asleep under such solemn circumstances [attendance at a Scotch Presbyterian church]
was a sure evidence of total depravity, and of the machinations of the devil striving to turn one's heart from God and
his ordinances. As I was guilty of these shortcomings and
many more, I early believed myself a veritable child of the
Evil One, and suffered endless fears lest he should come
some night and claim me as his own. To me he was a personal, ever-present reality, crouching in a dark corner of the
nursery. Ah! how many times I have stolen out of bed, and
sat shivering on the stairs, where the hall lamp and the
sound of voices from the parlor would, in a measure, mitigate my terror. Thanks to a vigorous constitution and overflowing animal spirits, I was able to endure for years the
strain of those depressing influences, until my reasoning
powers and common sense triumphed at last over my imag-

January, 1980


American Atheist

ination. The memory of my own suffering has prevented

me from ever shadowing one young soul with any of the
superstitions of the Christian religion.
The first escape from this mental turmoil came when her
older sister (Tryphena) married a member (Edward) of the
Bayard family (one of whom later served as the United States
Ambassador to England). Fresh from Union College, the
brother-in-law was intensely interested in discussion, law,
forums, exchanges between people and reading, which only
enlivened Elizabeth Cady's own interest in these fields.
Early experiencing discrimination because she was a girl,
such as not being able to attend a (male) college of her choice,
she began to take an in terest in women who came to her father
with their problems. She would read in his library, underlining
the "odious laws" she discovered and so chaffed about them
that in repeated conversations with her father, he finally advised her:
"When you-are grown up, and able to prepare a speech,"
said he, "you must go down to Albany and talk to the legislators; tell them all you have seen in this office - the sufferings of these Scotchwomen, robbed of their inheritance
and left dependent on their unworthy sons, and, if you can
persuade them to pass new laws, the old ones will be a dead
letter. "
Later, of course, she was to do just that and through that
activity begin the fight for ERA which has not culminated in
the United States even 125 years later.
Before she could begin her work for all women, she had to
solve her personal problems and religion was one of the most
foreboding of these. When she was about sixteen a religious
revival movement swept the town and she was caught up in it,
to the despair of her family. But, she describes it best herself.
Owing to my gloomy Calvinistic training in the old
Scotch Presbyterian church, and my vivid imagination, I
was one of the first victims. We (other students and herself) attended all the public services, beside the daily prayer
and experience meetings held in the seminary. Our studies,
for the time, held a subordinate place to the more important duty of saving our souls.
To state the idea of conversion and salvation as then understood, one can readily see from our present standpoint
that nothing could be more puzzling and harrowing to the
young mind. The revival fairly started, the most excitable
were soon on the anxious seat. There we learned the total
depravity of human nature and the sinner's awful danger of
everlasting punishment. This was enlarged upon until the
most innocent girl believed herself a monster of iniquity
and felt certain of eternal damnation. Then God's hatred of
sin was emphasized and his irreconcilable position toward
the sinner so justified that one felt like a miserable, helpless, forsaken worm of the dust in trying to approach him,
even in prayer.
Fear of the judgment seized my soul. Visions of the lost
haunted my dreams. Mental anguish prostrated my health.
Dethronement of my reason was apprehended by friends.
Elizabeth Cady's parents were, of course, apprehensive and
rightly so. Her parents and her sister and brother-in-law, to
save her from the severe emotional trauma in which she found
herself, decided to' take her to Niagara, New York for a six
week trip. All the while, she was introduced into the reading
she most earnestly needed, along with extensive discourses by
her brother-in-law and loving friends. She found that the
books and discussions were:
. . .all so rational and opposed to the old theologies that
they produced a profound impression ... Thus, after many
months of weary wandering in the intellectual labyrinth [of
religion] I found my way out of the darkness into the clear

Austin, Texas

sunlight of Truth. My religious superstitions gave place to

rational ideas based on scientific facts, and in proportion, as
I looked at everything from a new standpoint, I grew more
and more happy, day by day. Thus, with a delightful journey, ... an entire change in my course of reading and the
current of my thoughts, my mind was restored to its normal condition. I view it as one of the greatest crimes to
shadoui the minds of the young with these gloomy superstitions; and with fears of the unknown and the unknowable
to poison all their joy in life.
The old bondage of fear of the visible and the invisible
was broken and, no longer subject to absolute authority, I
rejoiced in the dawn of a new day of freedom in thought
and action.
[Later] As I had become sufficiently philosophical to
talk over my religious experiences calmly with my classmates who had been with me through the ... revival meetings, we all came to the same conclusion - that we had
passed through no remarkable change and that we had not
been born again, as they say, for we found our tastes and
enjoyments the same as ever. My brother-in-law explained
to us. the nature of the delusion we had all experienced, the
physical conditions, the mental processes, the church machinery by which such excitements are worked up, and the
impositions to which credulous minds are necessarily subjected. . .. He never grew weary of expounding principles
to us and dissipating the fogs and mists that gather over
young minds educated in an atmosphere of superstition.
Now, her formal education was continued at Mrs. Willard's.
Seminary [for young ladies] at Troy, New York. The emphasis now was on French, logic, philosophy, law, political
economy, history, poetry, music and dancing. Most probably this array of subject interest was unusual for a young girl
at the time.
All [four] of her sisters but one married lawyers and all
were, by then keenly aware of the lowly status of the wife
under the old common .law of England, which was in force
at that time in most of the States of the Union.
Between school terms, she was quickly brought into the
abolitionists' circle, particularly in continuing visiting with
the most famous of them all, Gerrit Smith, a self-pronounced
infidel to religion. Describing the man and hls.wife, Nancy,
she notes that:
.Together they passed through every stage of theological experience, from the uncertain ground of superstition
and speculation to the solid foundation of science and reason. The position of the Church in the anti-slavery conflict,
opening as it did all questions of ecclesiastical authority,
Bible interpretation, and church discipline, awakened them
to new thought and broader views on religious subjects and
eventually emancipated them entirely from the old dogmas
and formalities of their. faith, and lifted them into the
cheerful atmosphere in which they passed the remainder of
their lives.
Lectures and conventions were plentiful and she was there
to.hear William Lloyd Garrison, whose attacks on the Bible are
legendary, Frederick Douglass, Lucretia Mott, at the time a
'radical' unitarian, John Brown and many others. At the Smith
home she also first met "the most eloquent and impassioned
orator on the anti-slavery platform, Henry B. Stanton."
Although ten years her senior, they were married - after
some considerable' hassle with the minister over the word
"obey" in the marriage ceremony, which finally was excluded
- on May 10, 1840, when she was 25 years old. Since Mr.
Stanton was a delegate to the World's Anti-slavery Convention
in England, the lengthy (seven month) honeymoon was spent
there and on the continent.
'[ continued next month 1

January, 1980

Page 21

Myths and Mental


Oliver Evans

I hold a philosophical view that goes unappreciated by god

enthusiasts. It is not a new view at all and there have been
many writers who have put forth similar opinions. Thomas
Paine, Mark TWain, Alan Watts, and Bertrand Russell are but
four With whom the reader might be familiar. A glance at
traditional Judeo-Christian-basedtheology
will evince my
position, which is that the concept of a god is utterly useless
and annoying intellectual refuse.
Let us begin with the much-vaunted "god's will" dogma,
and, by dwelling on a particular idea, arrive at the logical cui. mination it implies. The word "plan" easily substitutes for the
word "will," and in fact believers of all denominations do use
these words interchangeably. A plan presupposes that the
planner knows the steps that must be carried out in order to
arrive at the preconceived goal. The plan and the goal of the
god we are scrutinizing are indivisible according to JudeoChristian doctrine. Now I ask, how can any earthling know
god's plan, let alone his goal?
Notwithstanding the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's adamant
conviction as to his own prophetship, it is impossible for a
sane person to know what constitutes "divine will." We do
not know Moon's goal is god's goal, nor do we know whether
or not Moon hallucinates as there were no witnesses present
at the time when god spoke to him.
If one is so unwary as to accept such a preposterous notion
- that a person can have a knowledge of the godhead even to
the exclusion of other persons - then what is to keep him
from believing the devil, instead of germs, causes illnesses?
If one accepts the idea of a scheming god, then he cannot reject the idea of predestination. If he does reason thus, he will
find himself in such metaphysical entanglements as would
cause ten billion angels to squat on the pointed end of a pin.

under Jehovah's wrathful jurisdiction unless this god is a more

creative and spontaneous organizer than we have heretofore
given him credit for being!
One may argue that the fall story, and others springing
from eons of myth-making, are only meant to fill the gaps of
hazy history and that they make no claim of scientific scholarship. If this is so -and it surely is - then I must reply with a
flippant, yet no less sincere retort: Who needs them?
Since one of the central issues of Christianity (and other
religions) has to do with souls and their eventual eternity with
the godhead, then we can take it for granted that a plan any
grand god has must include this problem of the soul.
The soul's eternal well-being does not make our mundane
existence any less important. Far from it, religionists will defend god's will and promote their understanding of what is
meant by it no less on earthly terms than as they do for the
yet-to-be-experienced hereafter. What is the use of a religion if
there is no god at the center of it? And what is the point of
having a god if, when one dies, nothing remains of the deceased which can enjoin with the godhead?
The nature .of theology is such that - given what little
reasoning there is in it - arguments tend to travel in circles,
in spite of all the expositions of allegorists. Certainly, people
who study or believe in god seem to put a lot of trust in allegorical tales, so much so at times that another look at the relationship would make my argument clearer.
If an aspect of god is explained by a myth, then we can say
god = myth; myth = god. Is this not the same as saying that
the myth (or allegory) possesses a special insight without
which the meaning of the story (an aspect of god) would be
incomprehensible? Are god's intentions and motives - his
raison d 'etre - comprehended more clearly by the use of
stories than if no such vehicles are, or had been, employed?

Damned To Be Redeemed
Pointless Folktale
Amidst religious beliefs which support theology's transcendent twaddle, a review of a basic doctrinal myth should
establish the kind of relationship that exists between the
allegory and the truth which the former attempts to evoke,
The Adam and Eve story is the most well-known tale of this
kind (and is understood to be absolute fact by most fundamentalist sects).
An account of the details of the Eden story is unnecessary,
as I take it that the reader is familiar with it. Be it enough to
say that Adam and Eve, having come tumbling down from a
presumed state of grace, bequeathed succeeding generations
uncomfortable lives of toil, old age, disease, doubt and death.
After god damned his creatures, he decided, many years and
generations later, that they required redemption. God saw how
things would turn out with his creatures and so he kept a son
on reserve for the purpose ofredeeming them.
What the creator of the universe cannot do, his son can.
Fine. However, no doctor of divinity has yet made clear to me
what became of the souls of the millions of people (the children of Adam and Eve) who lived and died before the savior's
arrival on the planet. All pre-Christianized souls cannot come

Page 22

If knowledge of god is as important as theologians and common Bible believers assume it-to be, then god should feel
strong about the matter as mere mortals do. The godhead
could, at any moment and without an appointment, jump out
of the sky and land on solid ground on in a lake for all to see.
This is not asking too much, is it?
I hope we haven't forgotten the quaint tale told of Moses'
god-directed deeds wherein is included an account of his seeing
god's backside. Moses went mountain climbing in search of
'water and god. I wasn't there, but can imagine him scampering
about, jabbing and hitting sundry rocks, boulders and cliffsides
with his staff. To spend any more time on this charming folktale would be pointless, but it serves to prove that god and one
man can occupy a mountain simultaneously.
Hereis where we have arrived. Because the son of god believed as much in the Hebrew mythologies as do many modern
people still to this day believe, then one would not be too wild
in surmising that soul concepts are as unfounded as are myths
and gods. My argument brings us to a comfortable assurance

January, 1980



on page 37]

American Atheist

Religion & Morality

The Odd Couple
"And" finds itself in all sorts of
strange places - caught between the
devil and the deep blue sea, or between war and peace, or between
crime and punishment. That simple
term "and" serves to conjoin two or
more concepts, but nothing whatever
follows concerning the relationship
of the two concepts other than that
they nave been juxtaposed. The relation may be that between similars, as
in the devil and the deep blue sea; or
opposites, as in war and peace; or a
hoped for causal relationship, as in
crime and punishment.
Some .conjunctions are immortal,
as Romeo and Juliet; and some are romantic, as moonlight and roses. Some
are complementary, as in salt and pepper; and some are inevitable, as in
death and taxes. And even though
Sinatra assured us that love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage, contemporary society seems to
have discovered that someone forgot
to fasten the harness! Indeed, what
initially appeared to be a natural,
causal relationship (love naturally led
to and grew! to fruition in marriage)
seems to have evolved into a virtual
rarity - almost a conjunction of incompatibles! The two are so rarely
'found together nowadays!
Indiscriminate Connections

It is the primary job of the philosopherto

clarify and to comprehend
conceptual relations - and that, of
course, includes pointing out conceptual non-relations. When two notions
constantly go together, he wants to
know what sort of relationship exists,
or is implied or suggested, between the
two notions. It is causal or casual or
coincidental, necessary or contingent,
similarity or opposition or supplementation; or whatever?
It is a psychological fact that when
two notions are constantly conjoined,
the mind tends to associate the two,
and may suppose more of a connection than there really is. Often, when
two things are indiscriminately lumped
together, it is all too easy to adopt the
same attitude toward both, when perhaps in all fairness, some distinctions
ought to be made.

Austin, Texas

Anthony J. Pasquarello

Nixon and Agnew were lumped together, and, in that case, it so happened that adoption of the same attitude toward both was entirely appropriate. But in other cases, we may be
led to believe that a and b are somehow connected when in fact, they are
not. Even worse, if we cannot find an
obvious connection, we may be led to
invent a subtle one.
The rather pertinent example which
comes immediately to mind is that infamous contemporary couple - sex
and violence. Truly an inseparable
pair; seen in all the worst places together! The president pontificates on
the growth of "sex and violence" in
our society; social commentators issue virtual daily proclamations on the
deplorable depictions of "sex and violence" on television; a noted black reformer lectures black high school
youth urging them to take the pledge
against "sex and violence;" indeed the
stock formula for producing low-grade
films and novels is to alternate episodes of - you guessed it - "sex and
That notorious couple, sex and violence,
where it counts - in fact. For I take
it as an obvious fact that the vast majority of sexual acts are non-violent,
and the vast majority of violent acts
are non-sexual. Nor would any sane
person suggest that sex causes or naturally suggests violence, or that violence causes or naturally suggests sex.
Nor do they complement each other.
They are hardly natural opposites.
How, then, are they connected?
What is the relation between the joyous, loving, life-affirming, and necessary drive we call sex, and the negative and 'undesirable phenomenon we
term violence? We are invited, on all
sides, to consider them both as "bad
things," to tie and hang them together.
But do both deserve this fate? Is it
possible that in 'spite of far-fetched
Freudianisms, and desperately wild
speculation, the correct answer to the
question "What connection is there
between sex and violence?" might be
"None - save in the minds of a few
sick persons"? I suggest that might
very well be the case!

January, 1980

Desperately wild

An Enormously Complex Task

This is all by way of an overly

lengthy introduction
to the discussion of my main topic - the connection between the members of another equally famous pair: religion
and morality. And, I have chosen this
topic because it seems to me clear
that it is logically prior to any discussion of prayer in public schools. For,
if we can make some small progress
in clarity in understanding the relation between religion and morality,
we will have made equivalent progress
.in grasping the relation between prayer
- a particular form of religious exercise - and its presumed function in
inculcating moral sensitivity.
Therefore, I am not about to discuss all the legalistic tangles surrounding the prayer issue, nor the question
of whether we can write a sufficiently
neutral, colorless, non-denominational
prayer to please everyone, nor the
question of whether optional periods
of meditation or contemplation will
do nicely as a substitute. Nor do I
think it profitable to second, third,
and fourth-guess the framers of the
by attempting to infer
what they really, really, really meant
by "respecting an establishment of religion." (The truth is that most of our
revered "founders" were Deists - a
form of cool, hyper-intellectual theology which has about as much in common with contemporary Christian fundamentalism, as Einstein has with using fingers and toes to count.)
But, if we are to try to grasp the
connection between religion and morality, we are undertaking an enormously complex and difficult task -

Page 23

All the other complex concepts of ethics .....

partly because these concepts suggest

so many different things to different
people - partly because morality
seems to be such an intrinsic part of
religion that we might seem to be asking for the connections between religion and itself!
Bingo and the bombast of a revival.ist preacher, the power of the Mormon
Tabernacle Choir and the silence of
the Tibetan monk, the external trappings of a Roman Catholic service and
the internal mystical ecstasies of St.
John of the Cross, the anthropomorphic and terribly endearing Olympic
deities and the mysterious and fearful
beings of some tribal cult - all these
and a thousand more personages, principles, and practices are connoted by
the term "religion."
Tell It To The Chaplain
What is a religion? What is a religious principle? And just as thinkers
have wrestled with the problem of
defining "religion" by searching for
necessary and sufficient defining characteristics, 'so they have also tried to
delineate the sphere of morality by
separating moral judgments from other
non-moral value judgments.
"Brotherhood is good" is a moral
judgment; "pizza is good," although
a value judgment, is non-moral. What
is the difference? "Respect the life of
others" seems clearly to be a moral
judgment, but about "respect your
own life," we are not so sure. Why?
have wondered
whether there can be any moral duties
to oneself. Finally, "take vitamin C
daily" - although it may well be entailed by "respect your own life,"
seems hardly to be a "moral" judgment. Or is it?
One thing is undeniable - the fixed
bond between religion and morality,
whatever they are, in the mind of the
average person. Whenever, for example, moral counseling is indicated, we
are automatically sent to our clergymen. If we have moral problems in
any of the widest range of topicssex, abortion, euthanasia, war, alcoholism, drug addiction - see your
local minister, priest or rabbi.
And, invariably, if a citizens council
is formed to deal with some matter of
public policy, one or more clergymen
are appointed to add the "moral dimension." (At a recent all-state confer-

Page 24

ence .of citizens advisory councils connected with each of the states' penal
institutions, the clergymen outnumberedthe wardens.) The implication is
clear: the clergy are assumed to' be
specialists in right and wrong, good
and bad, crime and justice, pleasure
arid pain, behavior and motivation,
and all the other complex concepts
that go to making up the field" known
as ethics.
'And they are assumed to be more
knowledgeable and better qualified in
that field than 'Ann. Landers, or Ralph
Nader, 'or Judge Sirica. Indeed, the
simplest yokel calling himself "reverend" because he holds a slip of paper
from some unaccredited backwoods
Bible Colleg~ is supposed to be more
of an expert invbehavior than B. F.
Skinner,. and more of an expert in
morality than Bertrand Russell.
Atheist Morals
Well, the reason for this attitude is
not hard to discern. The clergyman is
supposed such an authority in morality because he has a hot line, a special
insight into and connection with the
source of morality. The moral rules
that he, proclaims have their origin outside man and the activities of man.
And the justification for those moral
rules governing the relationships between man and man is presumably,
that they stern from the nature or
commands of some transcendental
reality, usually interpreted as some
supreme, or at least, superior being.
The claim is that religion and morality are inseparable; that morality is
derivative from religious principles.
It is this claim which accounts for
the raised eyebrows and suspicious
glances - even in this day and age whenever the morals of an Atheist are
the point at issue. Can an Atheist be a
good person? Can he have -any reason
to be a good person? Only a very few
years have elapsed since an Atheist was
refused public office in New England
on the grounds that he "might" not
have suitable moral qualifications.
Somehow, there is the vague, uncomfortable feeling that the entire edifice
of morality would collapse were we to
remove its theological support.

. But, if we admit that morality is a

part of religion, still we have not answered our original question as to the
relation between morality and religion
- we have only transposed it to a new
key so that it sounds thus: "What is
the relation between those principles
and doctrines of religion which involve
some' transcendent reality, and those
secular moral principles we all employ;
or should employ, in our daily lives even if the latter are considered also
as religious principles?" I suppose
many might consider "Promote brotherhood" and "Don't kill" as religious,
principles, but I certainly can't say'
whether "Don't cheat on exams" is
a religious principle, though it certainly is a moral one.
Confusing Designations
The point is that all religions contain a multitude of statements of both
sorts; those which describe a divine being and his commands, or an afterlife,
or some other realm of reality, and
those which command or describe
moral duties involving human interrelations. It is absolutely vital to distinguish the two sorts of principles both religious principles, if you like
(though I hardly see the point in calling every single moral duty a "religious" duty) - and perhaps we can
call the former theological or metaphysical principles, and the latter simply moral principles.
With this distinction, we,.can immediately make some sense' of some
of the contemporary "shock" theologies which deliberately adopted catch
phrases that seemed to be flat-out contradictions - viz.; the "death of god"
theologies and the movements called
Atheism" or "Christian
Agnosticism." If one accepts the moral
principles of Christianity (e.g.; "promote brotherhood"),
but rejects all
or most of the theological ones (e.g.;
"god exists"), then I suppose that
"Christian Atheism" might be an appropriate, though confusing designation forsuch a position.
The 'aistinction suggested is the old,
familiar one found within the Ten
Commandments, all of which are sure-

Can an Atheist be a
good person? Can he
have any reason to be :"good person?

. January, 1980


American Atheist

ly considered as religious principles.

Yet, of course there is the clear distinction between the first three, which
we would call "theological" since they
detail obligations to god, and the last
seven, which are simply "moral" principles, in our terminology, and which
seem reasonable precepts to follow,
. in any case.
The same distinction provides a
fascinating point of comparison from
which to study and classify religions
and the relative weights and complexities of their theological doctrines
versus their moral ones. One might,
for example, compare the elaborate
theology of Hinduism, with its 330
million separate deities, to the more
modest theological claims of Buddhism, which still has an incredibly detailed moral system. Or one might
compare various branches of contemporary Christianity on the basis
of "ethicalism" - that is, their "commitment to doctrines of Christian
ethics, those. teachings about how
men ought to act towards their fellows." That comparison revealed that
"Evangelical Protestantism tends to
take a miraculous view of social justice, that if all men are brought to
Christ social evils will disappear
through divine intervention. Thus they
concentrate their energies on conversion and evangelism and largely ignore
social issues . . . . . The Catholic
Church on the other hand (and increasingly also the liberal Protestant
bodies) assumes the sinfulness of man
and is concerned to offer moral guidance for the conduct of man-to-man
relationships." (Stark and Glock, American Piety, U. of Calif. Press)
Distinguishing Moral Duties
If the distinction between theological statements and moral statements is relatively clear, we can again
ask for the connection between the
two. For most theological statements
- pure theological statements - nothing whatever concerning morality
is implied.
What moral duties follow from the
statements that god exists? Or that he
is three-in-one? Or that there is an
after-life? Indeed nothing even follows
from statements about the attributes
of god, such as that he is good, or loving, unless we have the additional information that he wishes us to emulate
his characteristics. It turns out that the
only sort of theological statements
which can have any relevance for morality is the kind which expresses the

wishes or commands of a deity with

regard to human behavior.
Therefore our investigation boils
down to this - what is the relation between a statement like "god commands X" and a statement such as
"X is right" and alternatively "Is x
right because god commands it?",
where X can be any action considered
right, such as the promotion of brotherhood.
Fortunately, I do not have to say
anything startling or innovative on this
topic since Plato, perhaps the greatest
thinker of all time, dealt with the relationship between the commands or
approvings of a god and the morality
of an action, some 2,300 years ago.
And what he had to say was so clear
and so definitive that future comment
has merely embellished his original
Plato's Point
In the dialogue "Euthyphro" Socrates encounters a rather presumptuous
fellow named Euthyphro, who claims
to know all the most important details of morality, particularly, what it
is that the gods expect of humans.
Socrates asks for a definition of piety
- that is, what makes a pious act pious
- and Euthyphro replies that the gods
approve of pious acts. Socrates senses
that there are two possible interpretations of the definition proposed; are
the acts pious because they are approved, or approved because they are
pious? After a brief explanation of
the difference between the two and
a short but devastating argument, even
Euthyphro agrees that the second alternative is the only rational one acts are approved because they are
Plato's point is this; god must, above all, act rationally; his decisioris,
including his commands or approvals,
cannot be arbitrary or capricious god does not toss a coin! So, when
god commands or approves an act,
that approval must be based on good
reasons - reasons stemming from the
actual features of the act in question.
The presence 'of those features determines the divine decision to approve.
Plato never doubts that god approves of pious acts - of course he
does! But the approval is not what
makes the acts pious; in fact their
piety must logically be prior to the approval. The piety causes the approval,
not vice-versa. If this is so, the somewhat startling conclusion is that the
approval is totally irrelevant. Approval

Austin, Texas

January, 1980

Nothing whatever
concerning morality
is implied.

does not create the moral aspects of

an action, it mere recognizes their existence.
One beautiful feature of this argument, apart from its purity and persuasiveness, is its extendability to any
moral value and to any authority. It is
simply the classic argument against
"morality by authority" - the belief
that something has a certain value on
the basis of the commands of some
authority. Is killing wrong because the
Bible forbids it, or does the Bible forbid it because it is wrong? Plato's little
lesson points to only one answer; killing (or murder) is a bad thing because
of the intrinsic features of the act; it
was wrong before the Bible was written, and it would still be wrong had
the Bible never been written.
When an authority commands an
act, we must ask one simple question:
"Why?" If for no reason, his command
is irrational and need not be respected.
If for some reasons relating to the features of the act, we can avail ourselves
of exactly the same reasons. Hence,
the authority's command is irrelevant.
Echoes And Varieties
What is most interesting, for our
purpose, is to discover the echoes and
varieties of this argument throughout
the history of American Philosophy.
For example, we might be amazed to
read that "Benjamin Franklin made
.the attempt to maintain the Puritan
virtues in all their rigor, but to abandon entirely their theological sanctions," but a passage from his Autobiography makes it clear that that is
precisely what he meant to do.
"Revelation had indeed no weight
with me, as such; but I entertained
an opinion, that, though certain
actions might not be bad, because
they were forbidden by it, or good,
because it commanded them; yet
probably these actions might be
forbidden because they were bad
for us, or command because they
were beneficial to us, in their own
natures, all the circumstances of

Page 25


Theological doctrine adds nothing

things considered." (Schneider, A
His tory of American Philosophy,
Columbia Univ. Press)
The democratic spirit of the times
represented not only a general rebellion against authority but a specific
rebellion against moral authority. If
democracy were to be a viable form of
government, each man must have direct access to moral truths; they could
not be the exclusive property of a ruler nor the private persuasion of only
the privileged or the wise. And though
the debates raged long and hard over
whether this access to moral truth was
by means of innate or self-evident intuitions, or by means of "feeling," or
by means of a special "moral sense"a sixth sense with perceived right and
wrong as the eyes perceived black and
white - there was the general agreement that moral truths are prior to
and independent of theological doctrine or divine commands. Ben Franklin's position is not atypical.
Some four or five generations later,
the same theme became the central
thesis in the battle waged by the
Transcendentalists against what they
felt had become a "corpse-cold Unitarianism," to use Emerson's famous
phrase. Today we revere these poets
and often muddle-headed rebels as a
precious part of the American heritage, as men marching to the beat of a
different drummer, as seers who had
very beautiful and very important
things to say about men and nature,
religion and morality.
Transcendentalist Meditations
But what exactly were the positions
of Emerson and Thoreau and the other
Transcendentalists on our central question? The most outspoken and brilliant, and the clearest of all of them,
was Theodore Parker, who, in 1841,
stated the consensus position of the
movement in what surely must be one
of the nicely argued, exquisitely penned pieces in American literature "A Discourse of the Transient and Permanent in Christianity." Here is a passage from that work:
"Almost every sect that has ever
been makes Christianity rest on the
personal authority of Jesus, and not
the immutable truth of the doctrines themselves .....
Yet it seems
difficult to conceive any reason
why moral and religious truths

Page 26

should rest for their support on

the personal authority of their revealer, any more than the truths of
science on that of him who makes
them known first or most clearly.
It is hard to see why the great
truths of Christianity rest on the
personal authority of Jesus, more
than the axioms of geometry rest
on the personal authority of Euclid
or Archimedes. The authority of
Jesus, as of all teachers, one would
naturally think, must rest on the
truth of his words, and not their
truth on his authority."
The American Transcendentalists,
Doubleday Anchor Books)
Plato would have been proud, but
not surprised to hear his identical
argument reiterated in 19th century
New England.
Yet another 90 year leap and W. R.
Dennes, a prominent American philosopher at the University of California
around mid-century is asking the question, "Can the commands or the will,
of deity make anything right that
would not be right irrespective of such
commands? Or add anything to the
rightness of what is right irrespective
of them?" He answers as follows:
"Unless we know what is right by
some mark other than that a god
(or even all the gods) commands
it, we shan be unable to distinguish
the commands of gods from the
commands of impostors. . . . .if
we have reason for obeying any of
these, it can only be that its expressions have seemed to us true
and righteous in terms of our norms
of truth and right. And, if the expressions were thus, and upon such
grounds, true and righteous, then
they were (and are) true and righteous whether they are said to be
the voice of god or the voice of
conscience, or are given no such
reference to anything beyond what
they themselves conveyor advise.
"We seem to be driven to the
conclusion ....
', that r-eligious experience and theological doctrine
add nothing to the meaning or
truth of any statement or to the
validity of any rule of conduct add nothing which is not finally
traceable to, and which does not
owe its meaning and its probability to, observations and loves and
preferences which remain what
they are, and mean all that they do,
whether or not they are referred to,

January, 1980


or taken as evidence of, deity .....

"The various goods the religions
have enshrined stand on their own
(Dennes, Preface to an Empiricist
Philosophy of Religion, College of
Pacific Publications in Philosophy
The Relation Of Religion To Morality
Many other variations of the same
argument can be spotted throughout
the history of philosophic thought in
this country. However one may characterize the argument, and the point
of view it represents, it could hardly
be called un-American. Nor does "immoral" seem quite the proper word
for a position which emphasizes the
importance and priority of morality.
After all none of these thinkers was
advocating any specific moral duties
and certainly, none was advocating
some radical shift in the moral scheme
of things.
Their insight had to do with a purely theoretical, philosophic issue - the
logical basis or ultimate ground for
morality; the bottom line reasons one
would give for being good and for doing right acts. All they claimed is that
that reason cannot be the commands
or approvings or wishes of an authority, human or divine. Religion has a relationship to morality analogous to
that which a gourmet - say, Duncan
Hines - has to fine restaurants. Hines
recognizes and recommends fine restaurants, but he is not the cause of
their goodness, he cannot make good
ones bad by calling them bad, and
they would still be good, though Hines.
had never existed.
And that is the connection between
religion and morality. In a word, none.
Try two simple experiments in imagination:
Suppose that we were presented with an absolutely convincing,
compelling proof of the non-existence
of god. What moral difference to anything would that possibly make?
Would there be a stampede to rob
banks? Would lying become fashionable? Would we proceed to ruin the
earth to a greater degree than we have
Suppose that an unquestionably authentic new book of the Bible
were discovered, and in it, we were
eornmanded to torture small children.
Would we' do it? If not, there must be
some other standard of right and
wrong which we are applying to that
horrible command.

American Atheist

I mention these two simply hypothetical experiments

only because
many have expressed the nebulous
fear that if morality is not grounded
in religion, there can be no reason
whatever to be good .. Furthermore,
they say, morality would degenerate
into a vicious subjectivism, a relativsim where each does whatever he
wishes, and the only rule would be
"if it feels good, do it."
Humanistic Moral System
I have never understood the concern that without religion, there is no
reason to be good. Prisons and fines,
the desire to maximize happiness and
avoid pain, the dictates of rationality,
the opinions of our fellow men - all
these and others strike me as excellent
reasons for being good - and these are
exactly the same reasons that are really operative in Christians and nonChristians alike. As for the charge that
a vicious relativism would rule the day,
there is no reason whatever why a humanistically oriented moral system
need be relativistic.
Values can be objective, absolute,
real and universal, if they are based
on something which is real and universal. That something may be logic
and reason, as in the Kantian ethics,
or the universal similarity of the human body in its susceptability to pleasure and pain, as in utilitarianism.
Those who rant and rave about the
"vicious relativism" and "godless situation ethics" being taught in our college ethics classes must know more
about the courses than the ethics professors themselves! As a matter of fact,
I know of no professional philosopher
who defends ethical relativism, and
most think that after analysis of what
is being claimed, the position is unmasked as either trivial or utter nonsense.
Our presentation thus far has tried
to show that if the values promulgated by religion are desirable, they
are not desirable because of that promulgation. But have the values been
desirable ones? Here, in considering
the values religion has advocated at
various historical times, and the effects
of those values, each man must do his
own bookkeeping and decide in which
column he will put the Crusades and
the Inquisition; whether a Bach Cantata sufficiently balances the burning of
Giordano Bruno for declaring that
Copernicus was correct; whether Leonardo's Last Supper balances the New
England witch hunts; and whether the

Austin, Texas

preservation and transmission of the

Greek heritage compensates for the
warping of millions of innocent minds
by the preaching of a bizarre, guiltoriented sexual code.


But of course it is virtually impossible to compare our actual world with

some other possible world where or-ganized religion never developed, and
decide which is the better world. I
only want to mention here two values,
states of mind - mental orientations,
if you will - which are emphasized
and propagated by religion, and which
seem to me unquestionably negative in
their impacts.
One has to do with the emphasis
on concepts like belief, faith, and
hope, and the claim that these are necessitated by religious mysteries and
the "limits" of the human mind. Aquinas actually argued that incomprehensible propositions are good for you;
they teach you to be humble! (Whenever pride threatens, try understanding
the doctrine of the trinity; that will
show you that you're not as smart as
you thought.) The effect of this has
been to foster a mental set wherein
belief and faith are ranked above
truth, knowledge and scientific method, and ignorance, vagueness, and
emotionalism become prized virtues.
Language is blamed as inadequate
to express "higher reality," science is
ridiculed as dealing with "gross matter," and man's mind is belittled as
"limited and finite." The rampant and
vicious anti-intellectualism prominent
in the fundamentalist churches today
provides ominous evidence of the attitude in question. There, the emphasis
is on evangelism, revivalism, and the
charismatic experience (which means
that a shout is as good as a sentence),
on the importance of becoming childlike and not doing too much thinking.
There, incredibly enough, incoherent
babbling has been elevated to the status of divine inspiration as the "gift of
tongues." And, of course, there, every
problem from pollution to the price of
coffee gets blamed on those "pointyheaded intellectuals."

lief, nor the naive and fundamentally

mistaken notion that belief is voluntary, that we can "decide" to believe.
No, what matters is that when beliefs
and feelings become paramount, we
are in the world of the lynch-mob
mentality, where normal rules of procedure involving evidence and justification are suspended, and all that
counts is whether the spirit moves
you. This is the real danger; this is the
position that makes Truth subjective,
and facts relative to whether we have
The second negative effect of religion is what I call the "god will provide" syndrome. In postulating a deity
who is omnipotent, and an after-life
where all inequities are righted, religion can encourage a disregard for
this world and a slovenly attitude with
regard to our activities in it - a sort
of perpetual alibi for being irresponsible. If we are merely "passing
through," the earth is our bus station
- and bus stations are not among the
most attractive places.
Rarely is a temporary 'residence
cared-for or extensively remodeled.
We can observe this attitude at work
throughout the entire medieval period
where, for century after century, a
church-sanctioned socio-economic system kept the poor, poor and the rich,
rich. After all, didn't god make poor
people? ("Didn't god himself separate
the races?") If the poor managed a few
scraps from the banquet table of the
privileged, well and good. The wealthy
had salved their consciences and
earned a few indulgences besides. But
if the poor starved to death anyway,
well, no matter; they would get their
fill at that cornucopian banquet table
in heaven.
On the same theme, several environ-

When beliefs and feelings become paramount, we are in the

world of the lynch-mob
mentality, where the
normal rules of proceEncouraging Slovenly Attitudes
dure involving eviWhat is of ultimate concern here is
dence and justificanot the peculiarly reversed conception
tion are suspended,
of the relation between facts and beand all that cou nts
is whether the spirit moves you

January, 1980 .

Page 27

mental theorists have opined that the

Christian attitude is at least partly responsible for the profound ecological
horrors we have wreaked on our planet. Christianity encourages man to
conceive of himself as ruler of an earth
put here for his "use" - and "use" has
a way of turning into "exploitation"rather than as one element in a complex and precariously balanced ecosystem.
fundamentalists seem to be the least
concerned over either social or environmental problems.
Contemporary Christianity
If we are turning the oceans into
global cesspools incapable of supporting any life forms, well - god will provide. If we haven't the faintest idea
of how to feed a world population
which doubles every thirty years, well
- god will provide. Typically, as the
welfare couple go about manufacturing their fourth, or sixth, or ninth
child, they tell us who will provide
for that unwanted, unloved child god will provide. When used in these
contexts, as a way of evading moral
responsibility for our actions, "god
will provide" may well be the most
obscene phrase in the English language.
When we take an honest survey of
contemporary Christianity in America,
what do we find? The Roman Catholic
Church is split by half a dozen different schisms - young vs. old, conservative vs. liberal, traditionalist vs. reformer, clergy vs. laity, the bishops vs.
the pope, practice vs. doctrine, and so
on. An older generation is still in a
state of shock, wondering why Latin,
organs, Gregorian chants and fish
were replaced by English, guitars, rock
vocalists and meat.
The Vatican loses credibility with
each inflexible edict, as the laity go
their merry, contraceptive way; the
bishops urge a new view of sexual
mores, but the pope refuses; the
priests and nuns want optional celibacy, but the bishops refuse; the
church agonizes over the steady decline in "vocations" while the clergy
wonder whether the sum and substance of Catholic theology consists
in the calling of Bingo numbers and
the publicizing of Notre Dame football.
But, if the problems of Catholicism are shattering and fundamental,
they are as nothing compared to the
declared war raging among various Protestant denominations. The Con grega-

Page 28

tionalists and Methodists and Episcopalians are painfully embarrassed by

the emotionalism and literal-mindedness of their Bible-toting, fundamentalist country cousins. While those
same fundamentalist sects will frankly
admit that they consider those intellectual, social-oriented ministers more
dangerous and more despised than
communists, Atheists or Agnostics.
One local minister recently referred to
the World Council of Churches as a
"vicious, Christless, Unitarian organization."
The Protestants disagree on baptism
by immersion, on the role and ordination of women, on the acceptance of
blacks, on the divinity of Jesus, on the
social mission of the church, on the interpretation of the Gospel, on evangelism, on faith healing, on the value of
good works, on the Resurrection, on
the existence of hell, on abortion - indeed, the disagreements are so pervasive and so basic that one should pause
before grouping Unitarians and Southern Baptists as members of the same
branch of Christianity.
The Childish Conception
But, the conservatives are absolutely right about one thing; those liberal
ministers, those bright, young lads
turned out by the best theological
schools, are Atheists, make no mistake
about it. lito matter how zealously
they rhapsodize about love and brotherhood and the projection of human
ideals, no matter how subtly they alter
the standard definition of the term
"god," no matter how persuasively
evasive they are, the truth is that most
of them deny the actual existence of
the being characterized by the ordinary, supernaturalist, dictionary definition of the term "god." And that is
what is known as "Atheism."
This point needs to be stressed again and again because the public simply does not recognize how wide the
disparity really is between what they
believe and what their own clergymen
believe. For the clergy are forced, by
virtue of their occupation and training,
to confront their conception of god
with an immediacy and directness
rarely encountered by the average person. The choices - to vastly oversimplify - seem to be either, to retain, in
some form, the. simplistic childhood
conception of a bearded man on a
golden throne, or, abandoning that, to
enter the maze of mystification called
"theology." And the maze comes out

January, 1980

. where? We all reach a peint

where we abandon our childhood imagery and relinquish, as we must, that
picture of the kind, old man and the
golden throne, but unfortunately, no
one seems to have yet devised a satisfactory replacement.
So the fundamentalists resolutely
grasp one horn of the dilemma by
simply returning to the childhood conception, drawing their Bibles up over
their eyes and ears, and taking comfort
in the warmth of an emotional snobbery. While their liberal counterparts
see themselves running day-care centers and nursery schools, counseling
services and marriage clinics, covered
dish dinners and teen fellowship parties and Christian Rap Sessions and
and they probably wonder, as
well they might, how the modem
church differs in any essential feature
from a secular social agency such as
the Y.W.C.A.
.Brotherhood Without Religion
This, then, is the present state of
American . religion - an incredible
spectacle of factionalism and bitterness, confusion, dissension and disintegration. "The Gathering Storm of
the Churches" referred to by the 1969
study of the same name (Hadden,
Doubleday & Co., Inc.) has now hit
with full hurricane fury, and the torrent threatens to inundate organized
religion for a lot longer than forty
days and forty nights.
In light of all this, can anyone now
seriously believe that organized religion is the sector to which we must
look for moral guidance? Can it be
that the ordinary, day-to-day duties I
owe my neighbor depend on the
solutions to these interdenominational
wars? I can only hope that by now,
these strike you as rhetorical questions; they are certainly intended as
In reading the description sent me
of the problem area to which my remarks were to be. directed, I was

Those bright. young

ministers are
Atheists. make no
mistake about it!
[continued on page 33]

American Atheist

G. Richard Bozarth

W4 ~nll11 ti ihle

In April 1979 Atheist Jon Rod Steams wrote a letter to

the editor of the Tampa Times in Florida protesting a request
by the Gideons to be allowed to resume passing out Bibles in
the public schools. (The controversy was so hot, the Gideons
withdrew their request - which shows what can be 'accomplished by having the guts to speak out.) Mr. Steams protested
on First Amendment grounds.
Shortly thereafter another letter written by Roland H.
Lewis was printed. This person, a member of the local Hillsborough County School Board, defended giving {Jut Bibles in
the public schools so that the students would not be deprived
of such an "excellent" book. He cited several areas where the
Bible is supposedly supreme in information and unsdom.
Pleading inexperience, Mr. Steams wrote to the Am~rican
Atheist Center requesting help in replying to Lewis's arguments. Enclosed was a photocopy of Lewis' letter,and I had
to grin to read it. Expecting a challenge, I found a sitting duck
- a stupid sitting duck at that. Below is the counter-argument
I sent to Mr. Steams:
Lewis begins by declaring "that almost every state universityin our nation has a religious studies department which includes courses on the Bible." This means nothing in relation
to allowing a Christian sect into our public schools to pass out
Bibles. The universities also include the other religions in their
religion departments, thus making it obvious that responsible
educators recognize the value of the Koran, the Dharma Path a,
and the Vedas. By Lewis' logic, members of the Muslim,
Buddhist, and Hindu religions ought to claim this as authority
for their entering the public schools to pass out copies of
these "holy" books. I dare say Lewis, as a school board member, would be among the first to take action to prevent this.
I concede the Bible has literary value, and even educational
value in the sense that it is a necessary book to study to understand Western Civilization. The motives for passing out
Bibles in public schools are not scholarly ones, and Lewis is
dishonest for trying to pretend they are. He would probably
be one of the first to howl if a school under his board's authority proposed to teach the Bible with the same critical analysis
any other book of literary and educational value would be
subjected to; i.e., treating the Bible as a literary work rather
than the "divine truth."
Greek Wisdom Versus Jewish Nonsense
From there Lewis goes on to make several wild claims about the Bible. He claims "the Bible was the first book to announce that the world was round." This is not true. "Pythagoras of Samos (fl. 540-510 B.C.) learned on his travels in
Egypt and the East .....
to regard the earth as a sphere freely
poised in space." (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Ed., Vol.
2, p. 809) This was centuries before the Bible, which did not
exist as a book until well into the Christian era, was around to
inform the world of anything.
However, the Jews did possess the various books now
known to us as the Old Testament. When Pythagoras was
teaching a spherical planet, what was the astronomical wisdom

Austin, Texas

of the Jews'! "The Israelites thought of the earth as a flat disc

supported. upon the waters of the sea. Above it stretched a
solid dome, the heavens, supported at the four comers by pillars." ("Encyclopedic Dictionary," appendix to The Holy
Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text, p. 816) That
th~ "holy", truth of the. Chosen People triumphed over the
truth of the pagan Greeks is shown by the ridicule and
hostility Columbus received in the 15th century (a thousand
years after the Bible had been assembled by the Roman
church) when he announced to the Christians that the world
is round - 2,000 years. after Pythagoras!
Lewis does not give the verse or chapter or book of the
Bible where the announcement that the world is round is
made. The closest I can come is Job 26:7: "He it was who
spread the North above the void, and poised the earth on nothlngness." This is grandly declared to be "a scientifically correct
statement" by the Pictorial Bible Dictionary. What nonsense.
If the North is above the void, the South must be below the
void. This is an idiotic conception because no matter where
one stands on this sphere, one must always look up to see the
void of space.
However, is the north in question the north pole? No. A
footnote to Job 26:7 in The Jerusalem Bible defines the north
mentioned as "the 'fixed quarter' of the vault of the sky, on
which the heavens were believed to revolve." As the same
Bible informs us in the footnote to Genesis 1:6, "For the ancient Semites, the 'arch' or 'vault' of the sky was a solid dome
holding the upper waters in check." In other words, the only
part Of Job 26:7 that comes close to being scientific is the
statement that the earth is poised on nothingness, which
means the author of Job, written in the 4th century B.C., had
some familiarity with the knowledge of Pythagoras, already
100 years old.
Stretching The Meaning

'Yet, despite the so-called scientific accuracy of Job 26:7,

even the Pictorial Bible Dictionary states that "the ancient
Hebrew had no idea of the shape or size of the earth, or that
it was a planet." If the New Testament contains the revelation
Lewis proudly claims the Bible' was the first to make, none of
the sources I have know it. In fact, Revelation carries on the
Jewish conception of the nature of the universe where it
speaks of "angels standing at the four comers of the earth"
(7:1), meaning the author of this book no more knew the
earth is a spherical planet than did the various authors of the
Old Testament books.
The fact that even after the Bible existed as one book,
Christians still believed in the Jewish conception of a flat
earth proves that the knowledge of earth's sphericalness is
not to be found in the Bible. The truth is that when this resurrected Greek knowledge became once again the possession of
'Western Civilization, Christians like Lewis felt embarrassed
that this knowledge should be thought of as originally pagan
rather than Biblical. This led them to stretch the meaning of
some' verse or verses in the Bible to adjust "divine truth" to
science's astronomical advances.

January, 1980

Page 29

Lewis points out, as further proof of the Bible's scientific

value, that it mentions the "paths in the seas," meaning the
currents, I suppose. He does not give his reference, but I assume he means Psalm 8:8, where the poet mentions "whatever swims the paths of the seas." This would have some
oceanographic meaning if the Jews had known what they were
talking about when they wrote of seas. But in the Bible "almost any body of water, salt or fresh, is called sea" (Pictorial
Bible Dictionary, p. 763), and "the Nile and Euphrates were
occasionally represented as seas." ("Encyclopedic Dictionary,"
Who can say what the poet of Psalm 8 meant. That he
meant oceanographic knowledge is extremely unlikely. "To
the Israelites the sea was an object of dread" ("Encyclopedic
Dictionary"), so no wonder "the ancient Hebrews were not a
sea people." (Pictorial Bible Dictionary) There's small chance
the ancient Jews ever knew about ocean currents - smaller
still that a writer of religious poetry in the cultural wasteland
of ancient Israel would know it.
The expression "paths of the seas" becomes not knowledge,
but only a poetic expression that probably sounded good to
the poet. Or' he may have been thinking of rivers, which can
certainly be described as paths. We shall never know because
the ancient Jews were so confused about what a sea is the
term is meaningless except as a synonym for water.
That there are "paths" in the oceans in the form of currents becomes mere coincidence rather than the poet's source
of the expression. This is proven by the fact that during all
the centuries Psalm 8 has existed prior to the discovery of
ocean currents, these currents remained undiscovered by
biblical scholars. Once again, this is shabby exegesis where an
obscure verse is reinterpreted in light of new knowledge to
try to keep the Bible updated with the progress of science.

Jews can be said to have written reasonably accurate history

once their history books get past the fairy tales about their
folk heroes David and Solomon. They may even have scored
a point with the Hittites. However, to keep this feat in proper
perspective, it should be noted that the Encyclopaedia Britan.nica (11th Ed.) has this to say about the biblical history
books: "The Jewish texts, once the infallible basis of history,
are now tested by the libraries of Babylon, from which they
were partly drawn, and Hebrew history sinks into its proper
place in the wine horizon of antiquity." (Vol. 13, p. 531)
Where is that 'place? It's well below 'that of the ancient
Greek historians. Although the Jews supposedly possessed
"divine truth," it is a Greek, one Hecataeus of Miletus, who
has the honor of introducing "historical criticism and scientific investigation" into the writing of history (EB, Vol. 13,
p. 528) Not surprisingly, the Encyclopaedia Britannica proclaims the supreme ancient histories are the works of Herodotus and Thucydides, The Jewish histories in the Bible do
not even get an honorable mention.
Therefore, if books are to be distributed to public school
students based on historical merit, then the books selected
should be those that represent the best of their class. Obviously , of the ancient historians, the laurels of excellence belong
to Herodotus and Thucydides. Their histories, not the woefully inferior ones in the Bible, should be the ones distributed.
Lewis goes on to grandly proclaim the Bible "was the first
book to tell the medical and psychological professions that a
'merry heart doeth good like a medicine; but a broken spirit
drieth up the bones.'" This is Proverbs 15:13, which means he
is wrong. The Encyclopaedia Britannica informs us that "the.
composition of the present book [Proverbs] may be put approximately in the century 300-200 B.C." (11th Ed., Vol. 22,
Herodotus, writing 200 years before Proverbs existed as a
Dancing Satyrs And Cud Chewing Hares
book, and nearly a 1,000 years before the Bible as we now
have it was finally agreed upon in the 4th century A.D., inThe Bible contains much more nonsense than it does sci- formed the medical and psychological professions that "if a
entific truth. Aside from the moronic "theory" on the origin man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed him,
of the universe and life on this planet, the Bible asserts the self a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become
existence of the cockatrice (or basilisk), which is a serpent unstable without knowing it." (History of Herodotus, 2: 173)
that supposedly can kill at a glance and is hatched from the Note that this is a much more modem and accurate expression
egg of a cock (Isaiah 11:7-9, 14:29, and 59:5, and Jeremiah
of this bit of wisdom. No type of mental state eveY caused
8:13)! Dragons are mentioned no less than 35 times (Isaiah bones to dry up.
34:13, Psalm 91:13, Deuteronomy 32:33, etc.). And the
The Dhammapada, a Buddhist holy book of the 4th or 5th
Bible also claims satyrs exist, even noting that they dance century B.C., and therefore prior to the book of Proverbs, also
(Isaiah 8:21 and 34:14).
instructs the medical and psychological professions the same
Add to this such truths as are to be found in Leviticus 11: bit of wisdom as Proverbs 15:13. Buddha is recorded as saying,
"The hare, which indeed chews cud" (verse 6). Hares do not "A disturbed mind is forever active, jumping hither and thithchew cud because they lack the ruminant's stomach - per- er, and is hard to control; but a tranquil mind is peaceful;
haps old Yahweh forgot this, because these words are written
therefore, it is wise to keep the mind under controL" (Taken
as direct quotes from him. In verse 19 the omniscient deity from The Teaching of Buddha, published by the Bukky o Denof the Jews is quoted as classing the bat among the birds. One do Kyokai) Once again, this is a much more sophisticated exwould expect a being who knows all things to know something
pression of this bit of wisdom than the Jewish one.
as simple as the fact that the bat is a mammal, not a bird. Old
The Bible is not the first book to express the fact that a
Yahweh also warns in verse 23 that "all other winged insects happy or tranquil mental state is necessary for mental health.
that have four legs are loathsome for you." Being as there are Therefore, Lewis cannot claim this as a reason to give out
no insects with four legs, this is probably the only biblical Bibles to public school students. If being first with this bit of
prohibition never violated.
wisdom is the qualification for distributing a book to students,
So much for the scientific knowledge to be found in the then the book distributed must be either the Dhammapada or
the History of Herodotus.
Lewis looks to the Bible's historical value. He points out
that the Bible "states that the Hittite people were a major
Virginity And Celibacy And God-Husbands
nation in the Middle East, a fact which archaeologists have
Lewis, as the final "proof" of the value of distributing
discovered this century." After peeling off the layers of priestly
Bibles in our public schools, tells us the Bible "gives sociologinterpretations of every event as an act of god, the ancient

Page 30

January, 1980

e ,

American Atheist

ical guidelines in marriage and parenting that were rejected ' let his daughter get married, but "the man who keeps his
through generations and are now being accepted by prominent
daughter unmarried has done something even better." Is this
writers in the newer 'sciences' of psychology and sociology."
the modern theory of raising daughters? Who today, besides
Once again, he fails to back up his sweeping declaration with the Bible,endorses the theory that fathers act in the best inany kind of proof. I suspect this is so because he is unfamiliar
terests of their daughters by forcing them to remain single?
with many of the teachings of the Bible on marriage and parEphesians 5: 22 teaches the guideline that "wives should reenting.
gard their husbands as they regard the lord." Who today advoFor instance, Deuteronomy 21:18-21 teaches parents that cates that sort of subservience in a marriage? Is this what
if they have "a stubborn and rebellious son" who will not sub- Lewis wishes young female students will learn by receiving
mit to their wills no matter how much they punish him, they
Bibles at school? He may wish this, but he'll find it hard to
can arrange for his execution and have all his "fellow citizens"
come up with a modem sociologist or psychologist to supstone him to death. This is what modem sociology and psy- port his desire to see wives looking up to their husbands as if
chology teaches? No. This is what the Bible teaches, though.
they were god.
Deuteronomy 22:13-21 informs a new husband that if
Lewis asks, "How can anyone deny, to those students who
after his wedding night he suspects his bride was not a virgin, would like to have it, a free gift of a book containing so much
information and such great wisdom?" I have answered that.
he can demand proof she was a virgin. Then, "the girl's father
and mother must take her and produce the evidence of her vir- Most of the information found in the Bible is wrong. What
ginity." If the evidence is lacking, the "abused" husband can historical facts are correct are contained in history books
get true biblical "justice," because the Bible teaches "her pitifully inferior to the history books written by pagan Greeks.
fellow citizens shall stone her to death." This is the great wisAs for wisdom, there is superior wisdom to be found in
dom about marriage Lewis wants our students to learn, but is the. other works of the ancient world. Almost any dialogue by
Plato or treatise by Aristotle is wiser than the entire Bible.
it the teaching of modem sociology and psychology? No.
L Corinthians 7:1 teaches "it is a good thing fora man not The Chinese philosopher Confucius (551-479 B.C.) was wiser
to touch a woman." Is this the teaching of today's sociologists
than any of the various Biblical authors. For instance, the soluand psychologists? No. It is recognized today that a good sex tion to the problem of aggression against one individual by anlife is essential to human happiness whether one is married or other is, in the Old Testament, an eye for an eye. In the New
not, but it is especially true in marriage if that marriage is to Testament, the solution of turn the other cheek is even worse.
be along-lasting, happy one. Yet, 1 Corinthians 7:29 re.com- Neither of these solutions are practiced by modem societies.
But Confucius said, "Recompense injury with justice," and
mends that "those who have wives should live as though they
had none." What prominent writer in psychology or sociology this is the solution followed today by all civilized countries.
today recommends husbands practice celibacy? None.
Lewis has no case supporting the issuing of Bibles in our
1 Corinthians 7:38 instructs fathers that a good parent can public schools. The U.S. Constitution forbids it, and the lack
of merit in the book argues against it. ~

"Eh, Lord? I can't read the fine print."




Austin, Texas

January, 1980

Page 31

Ignatz Sahula-Dycke

The Baited Hook

If you're one of the people who think we exist in a confus.ing age, just remember this could be due to everything that
most of us pay little attention to, or don't know, about the
sundry methods employed for the purpose of diverting us
from various important facts. 'The methods I speak of are still
as effective as they've been for many centuries.
In view of the widespread confusion those methods promoted, I can't help but give full credit for it to the ingenuity
of the clerical segment of our society who saw, in philology
and etymology, the possibility of endowing ordinary words
with extraordianry meanings. In this way the priests created a
problem that with every passing generation grew ever more
pronounced and serious. It emasculated thinking. It's conceivable that but for this clerical interference, the Western
world would by now have evolved into an entirely just and
benevolent one. I speak of the properties thus ascribed to the
.word SOUL, and of the word's widespread use in place of the
much more substantive word LIFE.
Not By Any Means For Free

to escape when cornered by questions of fact put to him by

a realist. And the believer whom the clerically contrived attributes of SOUL temporarily mollify? Each time he uses the
word SOUL, in place of the word LIFE, he bets against his
own best interests - and bets on the clerics. Once the cleric
hooks the listeners by means of this SOUL bait, the hook will
nine times out of ten hold firmly enough to have all or most
of them coming back for more tomfoolery of the same injurious kind.
The sole fact enabling any of us to discuss anything whatsoever, including SOUL, is that we possess the gift of LIFE. The
word LIFE speaks for itself, SOUL only for the cleric. When
in good health, our cellular structure enables us to imagine
that SOUL - if it had LIFE - could actually be the something
that theology tells us we possess. But whenever our somatic
cellular complex stops functioning, we die, and LIFE, which
depends upon cell-functioning, can be said to have departed
from us.
We are creatures who evolved cell by cell in response to
the vastly complicated and (seemingly) ingenious but actually
natural order of LIFE existing throughout all cosmos. This
commands us to observe that every action has a reaction something that the theologian thinks he has circumvented by
sticking his head into the sandy waste he named GOD.

As a result, whenever we hear or see the word SOUL, we

now habitually accept it as symbolizing what the theologers
have for thousands of years been telling people that it (supposedly) is: namely, a phenomenal something that inhabits
Clerical Mumbo-Jumbo
their bodies, one which their god had "breathed into" the
earthen clays out of which the god (again supposedly) fashioned them. These astute mullahs, ever since the first one that
I won't deny that the priesthoods consciously or not waxed
appeared lugging the bag of tricks for confusing the simple and surprisingly poetic when they invented SOUL. Intheir ornapractical thinking of man, singled out the word SOUL for-their mentation of it is the only excuse I'm able to summon for
special purposes because it enabled them to claim that SOUL their erstwhile but presently evanescing existence. How poorly
was the priceless and exclusive possession of the human being and, aye stupidly, they've overlooked it as a starting point that
which they,.the priests, were appointed by their god to save long ago opportuned them to develop it into a pfienomenal
from everlasting perdition. Not by any means for free, but for pedagogy of benefit to mankind is amply evident when we
a consideration, this first of all involving the human's sub- consider the vulgarly prosaic religious claptrap with which
mission to the priesthood's commands, whims, desires, and they've strangled it.
ambitious hanky-panky , Had the priests not propagated this
A good many years have gone by since I wrote that a cartel
bunk about the SOUL, their claim that the priest possessed the size of christianism could - if put to rational use - imsupernatural powers would have fizzled, and the lie-laden, mensely benefit mankind. Sadly, however, John Paul II appretense-gilded structure denominated as THEOLOGY could parently assumes that the grotesquely histrionic monkeynever have reached the level at which it stupifies the world's shines of saying an inane mass on a raised platform will, after
credulous millions.
sixteen centuries of its failure, do for humanity what instructAs amply attested in churchly sermonizing, SOUL is a word ing the world's people in humah relations will one day (when
that serves the priesthoods as a subject about which the priest it is tried) do much better.
can speak with no fear of contradiction. How so? First, beClerical mumbo-jumbo of this brand would have gone down
cause people and inveterate dreamers, and are curious; are the drain centuries ago, and never after have been repeated,
fascinated and deeply awed by anything invisible yet imagin- . were each of the new generations - which come into the
able that challenges or captivates their atavistic superstitiousworld unbeguiled, but are soon brainwashed concerning SOUL
ness. Second, the thoughtless believer is rarely disposed to - advised that SOUL is a deep pit for trapping and holding
speculate about the SOUL for a period long enough to realize most of them until they die. In such a case all would recognize
and conclude that SOUL is merely a word symbolizing a con- that our discharge of our responsibilities represents the only
cept of whose materiality there exists not the slightest iota of payment we must make for the satisfactory enjoyment of our
rational proof.
existence. Any other way to modify comportment opposes
Of the spate of words: SOUL, SHADE, GHOST, SPIRIT, every natural law. The theological dogma that religious belief
LIFE, and contrivable others, LIFE alone has resisted the in an immortal SOUL induces or leads to decency in human
cleric's meddling. It points unmistakably to properties and relationships is as unrealistic as would be saying that decency
qualities without which existence of any kind could not per- in human relationships is impossible without religious belief
sist. The theologier resorts to SOUL because it enables him in that much-maligned SOUL.

Page 32

January, 1980

American Atheist

what gained it adherents, and also its sufferance by the authorities, to whom in most cases a religiously docile citizenry
equates with law and order.
What is SOUL, or, for that matter, what is IMMORTALITY, but that which great numbers of people come of a Sunday to hear sermons about? Whom between religion and history they ought to believe is an academic question. Important
to consider here is that none are so blind as those who will not
see, and that those who believe now still outnumber those who
To learn how insidiously and adversely theology's preaching
about SOUL has affected the Western people's linguistics and
their resulting outlook upon life, go to your dictionary and
study there the commonly accepted definitions of the words
LIFE, SOUL, and SPIRIT. It will help you to realize the extent of religion's once pervasive suzerainty in the West, and
reveal its basic greed for secular power. ~

There is no short-cut to happiness, no way of attaining it

through whatsoever theistic tricks no matter by whom recommended or howsoever worshipped. The mores of any people
are the observable result of the extent to which the people
defer to the wisdom gleaned from their ancestors' struggle
for survival. In most instances (says history) no matter which
of the various religions their numbers might choose to worship, the clerical segment behind every religious facade is first
of all interested in its own welfare - in the power derivable by
it from the sheer numbers who blindly obey its commands not in the wisdom which for the sake of LIFE, all people
sooner or later instinctively respect.
It has often been made to appear as a fact that religion
deserves privileged status for the adherents it gained; for
the SOULS it could in this way claim it "saved," but never
for saving the LIFE of any solitary one of them. From its beginnings until today, this kind of double-talk by religion is

from page 28)

Religion & Morality

The Odd Couple


J. Pasquarello

struck by this passage:

" 'Brotherhood' and 'Peace on
Earth' are the oft heard, hackneyed
phrases of the season. It is our 'effort, through both the input and
small group discussions to examine
the moral and ethical reasons for,
and methods of implementing a
way or ways in which these can be
continuing values rather than seasonal emphases."
Perry Como expressed much the
same sentiment in a Christmas song of
some twenty-five years ago - "What a
blessed place the world would be, if
we had that Christmas feeling all
A blessed place, indeed; and the
way to achieve it now seems to me,
and perhaps to you, startlingly clear.
If I practice brotherhood
some god commands it, or because I
"feel sorry" for other races, or because
I get sentimental over tinsel and stables, then my brotherhood is likely to
be restricted to the Christmas season,
and on January 2nd, I revert to racism.
But if I practice brotherhood because I recognize that skin pigmentation has absolutely no correlation with
ability, intelligence or human dignity,
then my practice is founded on science, not sentiment. And since that
foundation does not vary with seasons,
emotions or religious fads, my practice
is also likely to be invariant - a yearlong, even life-long affair. Paradoxical
though it may seem, the preservation
and continuity of the values of the
Christmas season can be best assured
by recognizing that those values have
absolutely nothing to do with Christmas.~


-' . ~l!i1l.""-'" .
. ~. .

,y.x;;n :t~.


Angeline Bennett









The best thing to happen to marriaaeif'

Sometime before life ~nds
Is the wisdom of both of the parties
Th at some point consent to be friends.




Almost any willing couple

Can achieve the rank of lovers
Raise a family, work and worry,
Fight the double pinch that hovers.









I have a strange recurrent dream

Where conscience never grapples
Its voice is muted by the sound
Of someone eating apples.






Austin, Texas'

_ Eve had her leaf ready

long before Adam
Knew apples of wisdom,
or that Eve had 'em.

January, 1980













Page 33 .

The American Alheist Radio

Madalyn Murray O'Hair

Ernst Haeckel
German Atheist
Hello there,
This is Madalyn Murray O'Hair, American Atheist, back to
talk with you again.
We constantly find, in research in respect to Atheism, that
some of our greatest heroes are never identified as Atheistic in
the reporting to the public of their accomplishments by the
Christian-dominated presses and school systems. Often, when
these Atheist heroes demand that their postition in respect to
religion be known, they are quietly pushed out of history so
that even the accomplishments in their fields of expertise are
never known.
When Garry DaYoung, the Minnesota Atheist leader,
was on the staff employed at the American Atheist Center, he
talked at length about Ernst Haeckel. In searching through our
books, we could find little if any information on him. When I
tried to research him in the current biology books used at university level, particularly those at the University of Texas, I
found that he was an ignored man.
Should he be ignored? Who was he? Why would we feel
that his works should be known to you? Judge for yourself.
The ExtraOrdinary Professor
Ernst Haeckel was born in Potsdam, Germany on February
16, 1834. He was educated to become a physician in Wurzburg, Berlin and Vienna, obtaining both an M.D. degree and a
Master's Degree in chemistry in 1857 from the University of
Berlin when he was twenty-three years old. At the wish of his
father, he began to practice medicine in the city. but his heart
was not in it, and in a letter to a friend he wrote that dwelling
on the pathological was not worthwhile. He said, "Hereafter
I'll devote my time to the normal, not the abnormal and distempered. The sick should learn to keep well."
The next year and a half he spent in Italy where he became
interested in zoological research, a subject which was to keep
him occupied for most of his life. By 1861 he was teaching in
Jena University. He was then just 27 years old. The next year
. he was named extra-ordinary professor of comparative anatomy and director of the Zoological Institute. In 1865, when
he was just 34 years old, he was appointed to a chair of
zoology, which was especially established for his benefit. He
retained this position for 45 years despite all kinds of repeated
invitations to teach in more important centers of learning.
What was all of this about? And why would a man of this
position and prestige be ignored in today's universities?
Well, it happened that just when he was beginning his scientific career, Darwin's Origin of Species was published in
1859, and this book had so much influence upon Haeckel that
he became the apostle of Darwinism in Germany. He was, indeed, the first German biologist to give a whole-hearted adherence to the theory of organic evolution and to treat it as
the cardinal conception of modem biology. It was he who

Page 34

January, 1980


first brought it prominently before the notice of German

men of science in one of his first publications. Because of
Haeckel, the congress of naturalists at Stettin, Germany, in
1863, was completely pervaded by the Darwinian spirit. Darwin himself went on record to say that Haeckel's enthusiastic
propagandism of the doctrine was the chief factor for its success in Germany.
In 1866, at age 32 years, Haeckel published a book on General Morphology, which was an attempt to work out the
practical application of evolution to its final results. In this,
he was the person who divided the whole animal creation into
two categories, the Protozoa (unicellular animals) and the
Metazoa (multicellular animals), a classification we still maintain. He pointed out that the Protozoa remain single-celled
throughout their existence, but that the Metazoa, which start
as a single cell, are transformed by cleavage into a mass of cells.
As he worked on this theory, he chose sponges for study,
showing by thousands of examples the gradual transition from
the most simple to the most elaborate sponge form.
Later in the winter of 1866, Haeckel made a zoological excursion to the Canary Islands, remaining three months at
Arecifi. This was the first ,of many such excursions, and from
this he was able to enumerate over four thousand new species.
He compiled data of new genera and species by giving a description of the structure and the functions of each.
By the next year, he attempted to analytically collect the
genealogical connections of complete groups of organisms;
attempting to distinguish them from other families. By 1888,
he read a paper at the Fourth International Zoological Congress in Cambridge, England, which was an attempt to draw a
genealogical tree exhibiting the relationship between the various orders of animals, both with regard to one another and
their common origin. He included a tree showing the descent
of the human species from the first simple structureless masses
of protoplasm. If you read the Time-Life books, or have seen
pictures of the growth of lif~ from the one-celled creatures of
the sea to the full animals on the land which we know, you are
seeing Haeckel's contribution to evolutionary theory.
Currently, the excitement of the world's laboratories are to
find how life came from inorganic matter. Reading in the most
advanced scientific magazines, I find much excitement that
carbon and nitrogen and hydrogen have been made to combine
in ways which indicate that this was the source of life. In
Haeckel's work, The Riddle of the Universe, he first proposed,
in 1899, that this was most probably where life began. He
called this his "carbon theory." He claimed that the chernicophysical properties of carbon, in certain complex compounds,
were the sole and mechanical cause.of the specific phenomena
of movement which distinguished organic from inorganic substances and were involved in the first development of living

American Atheist

Openly Identified' As An Atheist

As a consequence of this study, Haeckel was led to deny
the immortality of the soul, the freedom of the will, and the
existence of a personal god.
He was brash enough to challenge the reigning theology and
at one point wrote:
"Although the geocentric error of the Mosaic history was
demonstrated by Copernicus, and thereby its authority as an
absolutely perfect divine revelation was destroyed, yet it has
maintained, down to the present day, such influence, that it
forms in many wide circles the principle obstacle to the
adoption of a natural theory of development. Even in our century [remember he wrote this in the late 1800s] many naturalists, especially geologists, have tried to bring the Mosaic theory
into harmony with the recent results of natural science, and
have, for example, interpreted Moses' seven days of creation
as seven great geological periods, However, all those ingenious
attempts at interpretation have so utterly failed that they require no refutation here,' The Bible is no scientific book, but
consists of records of the history, the laws, and religion of
the Jewish people, the high merit of which, as a history of
civilization, is not impaired by the fact that in all scientific
questions it has no commanding importance, and is full of
gross errors."
By 1904, Haeckel was being openly identified as an Atheist,
and it was by then that his work began to come under attack.
In the latter half of the 19th century, however, in England
and on the European continent, there were a great number of
persons who openly identified themselves with a questioning
of religion. They seized upon the word "Freethinker" to
identify their positions - and it was simply a euphemism for
the idea of beginning Atheism. They defined their position by
saying that a "Freethinker" was a person who formed his
opinions independently of authority or tradition, especially
In religious matters. I have discussed freethinking on these
radio programs prior to this, but to refresh your memory the first recorded use of the word Freethinker was in 1697 and
was used to describe a Deist of that age, Again, a Deist was a
person who accepted the idea of a Creator, but did not accept
Christianity or its scheme of human salvation. By 1708 the
word Freethinker was used as a word of censure. But, word
meanings do change and by the beginning of our century,
around 1900, the use of the word was a proud one.
Then, international conventions were held, and men such
as Robert Ingersoll, about whom you have heard much on
these programs, spoke out boldly and readily. In 1904, in
September, such a convention was held in Rome. Over 3,000
delegates were present and every civilized country was represented. That is a far cry from our attempt to have a World
Atheist Meet in India in 1972 - when the leading Atheist
representatives from the United States were denied visas to
India - and when only several hundred persons were able to
At this convention, or congress, in Rome in September,
1904, Haeckel spoke, boldly declaring:
. "This Congress is historic. It marks a white milepost in the
onward and upward march of freedom.
"We have met in Rome not accidentally or yet incidentally,
but purposely. We have met here to show the world that times
have changed, that the earth revolves, and to prove to ourselves in an impressive and undeniable way that the power
of superstition is crippled, and at last Science and Free Speech
need no longer cringe and crawl. We respect the Church for
what she is, but our manhood must now realize that it is no
longer the slave and tool of entrenched force and power that
abrogates to itself the name of religion."

At the Congress, a committee was named to decorate the

statue of Bruno that stands on the spot where he was burned
for declaring that the earth' revolved.
As an amusing part of this, at the close of the Congress, the
Pope ordered a special mass in every one of the Catholic
Churches in Rome "partially to atone for the insult done to
Almighty God" that the Freethinkers had gathered there.
Haeckel went on in his studies to coin a word which is wellknown to us today. That is "Ecology". Through his studies, he
concluded that there was no dual nature to life. Before his
time, and ever since, there has been an insistence that there is
a natural realm, which we all recognize through our senses, and
in addition, a supernatural or non-material realm. He believed
that everything could be explained on the basis of natural laws
alone - those of physics and chemistry particularly. In this
idea, which he designated as monism, he showed that all organisms, plant as well as animal, were affected by the total environment of those organisms, including climate, terrain, the
food eaten, and all associations in nature. To characterize this
completely integrated environment which the organism responded to and needed to protect its life, he chose the word
oeco -which
in Greek, meant house, Ecology then refers to
the "house" in which we live or that branch of biology which
deals with the relations between organisms and their environment.
Today, ecology is a well-known and respected science and
"cause" which has commanded the attention of governmental
leaders throughout the world. What is not well known, is that
the idea originated with an Atheist and that its validity is
based squarely in the laws of science and materialism.
I will be doing a series of reports on Haeckel now during
this month coming up. You will be interested in hearing some
of his own expostulations of what he calls Monism, and what
we call Atheism. I also will be reading some of his works in
respect to Atheism.
This informational broadcast is brought to you as a public
service by the Socity of Sepsrstionists, lnc. a non-profit, nonpolitical, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to the
complete and absolute separation of state and church. This
series of American Atheist Radio Programs is continued
through listener generosity. The Society of Separationists, tnc.,
predicates its philosophy on American A theism. For more information write to P.O. Box 2117, Austin, Texas 78l68. ~





January, 1980

Austin, Texas



Page 35

Gerald' Tholen
EducationThe Terrible Tragedy?
At first thought, the title of this
article may seem a little disturbing to
you - it certainly seemed that way to
me when the idea first occurred to me
a while back. As I recount that time
now, I can recall such an idea caused
me moments, even hours of great
concern. But - let me try to explain
to you how I came to suspect the
alleged tragedy which is, indeed, held
within the folds of education.
To begin with, and in order to not
confuse this explanation with negativism, let me say that I am one of the
most avid advocates of education and
technology. Our very existence has, in
most cases, been enhanced. beyond
imagination by the sciences. How,
then, can anyone rationalize such complete social reversals like those now
transpiring in Iran?
The first inkling toward answering
this question came to me easily and
obviously - Iran is NOT a unique, isolated incident to be dealt with singularly. Problems paralleling those of
Iran are an ongoing system of events
that pop to the surface at almost
regular intervals. There is little irony
in the fact that the American Embassy
Incident in Iran occurred almost to
the day, on the anniversary of Jonestown, Guyana. So it has been that
throughout history each culture has
managed to come up with it's own
particular madman who has been able
to enchant whatever following he
could afford through his power position in society.
Recurring Tragedy
Rev. Jones, of course, was a piker
when compared to Hitler or the religious "deity" that inspired the Inquisition or the now current Ayatollah
You may well be wondering how I
could possibly hold education to such
terrifying happenings. The fact is that
I DON'T! 'I only came to the realization that it is the increased knowledge
that people attain which ultimately
causes them to suddenly become aware of the horrible things that we, as

Page 36

a whole, allow to happen. When new

minds are born, they are born entirely
without life experience. Under strong
social influence, they necessarily fall
victim to the culture that preceded
them. The Klansman's son/daughter
inherits hate - the soldier's son/daughter inherits a desire for the "glory" of
battle - the religionist's son/daughter
inherits the fear of "god." Therefore,
the stage is set subversively and almost
innocently for a new tragedy involving
a new generation. Thus tragedy recurs
with each succeeding era.
At this point you will probably cry
that education tends to lead us away
from this pattern! I quite agree. That's
the point that gave me the most trouble - and that's the point I had to
deal with in knowing that education
is the device that finally .makes us
aware of the insane practices mankind
has incorporated.
My question to you now is: Why, if
we are progressively becoming more
intellectual, do these things continue
to happen'sI find that the secret key word to
this discussion is the word "we," not
the word "education." The fact here
is that "we ," incorporating all' of
society, have never been, and are not
now, even close to becoming "educated." Our history books only reflect the wisdom and ingenuity of a
.comparatively few individuals out of
each generation. "WE" didn't invent
the light bulb; Edison's efforts did.
Virtually every other person alive at
the time sat on their respective asses
and waited for the event. Our pompous citizenry then conceived that
Edison's brilliance somehow reflected
a brilliance of their own,
It Only Takes A Little Wisdom

Realizing as I did, when I first decided that only educated people are
aware of tragedies, I became compelled to work, in whatever way I could,
to help educate more people. Activist
Atheism is the only vehicle capable of
removing the sickness of godism.
How can a self-respecting, educated world-citizen
remain quietly
seated and allow insane, maniacal performances like those of Khomeini,
Jones, John Paul II, and others, to
spread the cancer of their sick minds
throughout the world? It therefore
seems depressing to me that a noble
group such as the N.O.W. organization
- while advocating equal rights for
women - fails completely to attack
their real adversary - religion. Is it
that they lack such knowledge, or is it
that they are afraid to confront the
hideous biblical teachings that they
willingly allow to exist? It only takes
a little wisdom to properly identify
one's problems.
After all considerations are boiled
down, I grievously have to face the
fact that our nation does not differ
greatly from Iran. We describe their
leadership (Khomeini) as-, "ultra-conservative" - that's parlor English for
insane. What about our own Nixon
Era? Weren't we headed in a similar
direction? The only thing that saved
us was Nixon's blundering over-confidence. Then, in reaction, and with
great "wisdom," "WE" elected the
doting, docile, do-nothing Carter!
Now, isn't that intelligent?
So, it is that when certain people
reach slightly higher degrees of intellect, they must ultimately look down
upon the madness from which they
escaped .....
the view is frightening.
This is the personal tragedy caused by
a little education. ~

Such has been the case for every

generation. "WE" didn't become disenchanted with England's church rule
in the 1770s - Thomas Paine did! I'll
not argue the point if you claim that
other patriots also added inspiration,
but the fact remains that only a handful were prepared to do something!

January, 1980

American Atheist

Every Sunday I watch them flock.
They look at me and piously mock.
Raving about my soul and hell.
Peddling the guilt they sell so well.
Telling me I'll never make it to heaven.
Except by their faith if I give in.


Sacred fools they have to be.

To feel heaven is eternity.
I'd tell them if I thought they'd listen,
Of all the joys that they are missing.
For heaven isn't faith you see;
But what's inside of you and me.
Anthony J. Danieli
Oh God!
I come to the abyss. The Decision.
Don't let me fall. Don't let me fail.
It's too late. I've fallen!
I tumble shrieking
into a vortex colored from every hue
of human experience
ever deeper into a blackening hole
of non-existence
where no light shines save the ever decreasing
sputtering of my soul,
flashing light against the closing ever darkening
blackness of hell.
Oh God, help me. I am there.
Within the dampness, the darkness, the futility of hope,
the absence of life.
.God. All I see of life is one pinprick of light
far above my head.
Help me God! Oh GOD!
I start alone. Clawing my way up out of the dark,
the dampness, ever closer to the light
and to life.
I slip! But I do not fall.
It is almost too much to bear. It exists
in every fiber of body and soul.
If I slip again, I shall never again rise.
The light looms larger. Where are you God?
Give me your hand if you exist. Help me God.
Don't make me do this thing all alone! Help me.
I am at the top, almost out. Where are you God?
I made it without you! I need you no longer!
I will see beyond sight,
feel beyond touch, hear what is meant,
live my own life,
and without you,
Charles McLeroy


I'm sorry for you, he. said to me,
That you don't believe in god.
You know that fire and brimstone
Waits ever beneath the sod.
How can you face the bleeding hands
And enter burning hell?
You are condemned before you die,
And after death as well.
Repent at once your evil ways;
Don't risk eternal pain.
A kind and loving god awaits;
Come to his breast again!
He's sorry for me, I thought to myself.
That doesn't sound like grief.
It describes a form of torture
From which I've found relief.
How's that for contradiction!
See it like it is, unthinking man,
And stop this morbid fiction.
If god is love and kindness,
Your statements don't betray it.
I'm sorry for you, 0 brainwashed one; ;-.
But what a waste to say it!
John Jackson
Oliver Evans [contmued

that gods are invented; religions are systems of abortive imaginations.

It can be said with certainty that religionists revel in the
mysterious, and the more confusing and unintelligible a story
is, the holier and more enlightened they feel they are. The
more mysterious and fantastic the allegory, or the more indecipherable the parable, the loftier they fancy their decoding
abilities. But, knowing what we do, who can deny that god, in
a rational world, is tiresomely de trop?
Religious absurdities, no less than secular ones, are in abundance. God throughout history has been explained by men
bearing myths. Their fables are as fabulous as are their various
conceptions of god; as evasive of values and as ethereal as 'wind
and the god they are meant to define. Not only is he dismissiblein an historic role, but any contemporary definition that
I or anyone may formulate in his favor would be as easily
demolished as were the examples in this essay. ~

January, 1980

Austin, Texas


from page 22)

Page 37







~.' . "






elaine stansfield

I I I I II I I 11'1 I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I

Having averted my eyes from Alien this long, I was at

length prompted to see it because even hardened critics have
said, over and over again, "it scared me as no movie has ever
.'done" or "it kept me riveted on the edge of my seat, arms
'clenching the chair'; from start to finish." Well, being a science fiction fan, it seemed necessary to see for myself what
kind of future Dan O'Bannon, the author, and Ridley Scott,
the director, have in mind for those of us who would like to
see super intelligence, and the disappearance of human stupidity (religion, too, of course), in some future time. I yearn
for the assurance of improvement and progress.
Alas, despite two or three scenes that would cause fear in
anyone's heart, and some fantastic special effects and cornputer operations enough to delight any space zealot, the
Creature this crew encounters is not so much from Close
Encounters as it is from The Thing. Incubating in one unfortunate crew member's insides, it necessarily kills him in exploding out of his stomach, and we can't help wondering if
the feminists working on the film didn't consider this a fitting symbolic birth. The blob, growing at an extraordinary
rate, manages to kill off all but Third Officer Ripley (played
by Sigourney Weaver), a lovely lady of cool head and great
courage. Her escape gives a splendid "chase sequence finale"
to the film, as the suspense become well nigh intolerable.
But I admit to some confusion about some of the details.
The ship is supposed to be carrying ore, which we never see.
The action is supposed to be the distant future, but the
actors talk, dress and look like 1979. The bowels of the ship,
in which most of the action takes place, exist in perpetual
dusk, 'and the actors speak so confidentially to each other,
that we must strain to see and hear.
And lastly, the computer, called "Mother," seems to be
confused, too. Unlike Hal in 2001, who decided he knew
what was best for the crew even if it meant their destruction, Mother has either been given, or herself decreed, that
the crew was expendable and this phrase is imprinted in her
secret instructions for this trip, even though she presumably
did not know the crew would bring onto the ship the fatal
pod. People who can't or don't read fast will miss this entirely, because it only appears once in a readout and is never
mentioned verbally. But that is the crucial plot point: in order to bring back new scientific evidence of any life form
on another planet, the entire crew is expendable. If the crew
is expended, who is to bring in the ship containing a life form
which has destroyed them becomes both mysterious and
illogical. Perhaps the blob ate the invisible ore and merely
drowned the people for dessert. There is something distasteful in all this!
Ah, well - illogic aside, if you want a good scare, and
enjoy the special effects, plus the novelty of having a woman
third officer the only survivor - by her wits - itis, I think,
a good picture to see forewarned and forearmed.

Page 38


I. I I I I

Short Take
If A Little Romance is still playing in any of your local
theaters and you are in the mood for a thoroughly delightful,
nicely done, uplift to your spirits, I recommend you give it a
try. It features two charming young people with high IQs who
are so much smarter than the adults around them that their
best friend is a lovable, old swindler and con man who aids
their romance. Lawrence Olivier plays this dear, old, fellow so
well that you catch yourself thinking, "Gosh, I didn't know he
was that old.". Implicit in the script is the idea that these Intelligent kids believe in themselves and never in anything so manmade as organized religion. It is a piece of fluff, but an important piece of fluff.

No, we don't believe in and are not concerned with an
afterlife. LONG LIFE MAGAZINE is concerned with the
extension of the human lifespan and the eventual
eradication of aging and death. If you have any interest
in living longer, antiaging drugs, antiaging therapies, or
treatments, suspended animation, commentary on the
future of mankind and the consequences and strategies against the so-called "problems" of living longer
and staying young, then you should subscribe immediately to LONG LIFE MAGAZINE.
1 year (6 issues) for $12 - two years for $22 - three
years for only $33.
Includes free subscription (Sixissues) to THE CRYON ICIST
MAGAZINE, Box 49O-AA, Chicago, IL 60690

January, 1980

American Atheist

Book Review
The God Fixation

Polemic Essays abou,t

That Impede Educational
Progress, A Dissertation
The Sahula-Dycke fans will be happy to know that he is at
it again. His new book, just released, is titled The God Fixation with a sub-title of Polemic Essays about Religious Fixations That Impede Educational Progress and sub-sub-titled
An incisive dissertation that views Western man as a creature
trapped between his intellectual capabilities and a psyche
engulfed by religiosity.
It is a little book, hardback, 5112" x 8%" and 79 pages long.
It is a big book when gauged by the idea stream at which only
Sahula-Dycke is so good. This book, as with his other books,
is privately printed by him since no publisher in the United
States will take a meaty book concerned with Atheism.
Ignatz has been a well-known painter for forty years. He
was born in Bohemia, Austria-Hungary, into a family of Czech
and Dutch parentage, whose interests were mainly music,
painting, writing and other arts. In that family with a mixed
religious heritage a respect for the prerogatives of others was a
commonplace. Any dogma, belief, or prejudice, however, was
put to a test of reason and had slight chance of escaping debunking. Out of this came Sahula-Dycke's lifelong concern
about the prejudices bred by religions. He soon learned that
Western education tacitly encouraged the flummery of bias
against all striving for mental freedom. This book is a collection of eight of his essays having to do with that encouragement.
The chapters are titled:
The God Fixation Predicament
Fantasy versus Reality
Theological Integrity
Nurture of Decency
Theocratic Finagling
The Fetish
Religion and Political Chicanery
Sahula-Dycke is a reader, which is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. His ever searching for answers,
fortunately for his own readers, furnishes a myriad of tid-bits
and references to other authors and books. You all know him
well, since he has been writing for the American Atheist magazine for a number of years, but still one example is so delightful, it should be cited here.
"Definition: 1. An irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God, proceeding from ignorance, unreasoning fear of the unknown or mysterious,
morbid scrupulosity, a belief in magic or chance, or the
like. 2. Any belief, conception, act or practice resulting
from such a state of mind. 3. Such conceptions, practices,
etc., collectively.
"Any realist reading the above definition would or could
say that it's an accurate definition of religion, and possibly

Austin, Texas

be surprised when told that it's the dictionary definition of

"Religion is sustained by superstition, they're two of a
kind. Were they to disappear, the mind of man would be set
free to respond instinctively and rationally to Nature's marvels and power."
Of course, by this instructive kind of controversial argument against the opinions of theology, Sahula-Dycke shocks
his reader into thought. The reader needs it, stultified as he is
with Christian jabberwocky.
More delightful is the use of business language applied to
the god fixation - who but Sahula-Dycke would see the
Christian church as a "cartel."
"The pity is that a cartel as far-flung as Christianism and therefore potentially fit for the accomplishment of
global good - still expects the world's peoples to defer to
its constricted, unrealistic precepts formulated long ago by
minds that quite naturally couldn't have anticipated the
problems of life with which mankind today must cope.
Hypnotized and autointoxicated by dogmas, Christian ism
continues living blind to the demands of reality, still believing that by constantly reiterating these archaisms it
will succeed in its ambitions: having all the world obeying
its commands - the way the piper led the tots of Hamelin."
Throughout the book the pithy remarks ofthe author belt
home lesson after lesson. A reviewer is tempted to quote almost all of the book. Pungent, wry, this collection of essays
will earn as much approbation from the theists as have his
The author, however, asdo all Atheists, must rub our collective nose in reality:
"Nobody is able to live fully except by engaging in a tussle with life. Life cannot be enjoyed by anyone who evades
the responsibility of his. actions, by anybody who refuses
to face its possible penalties. It cannot be enjoyed in imitation of others no matter how salutary their experiences;
it has to be independently explored and exploited. Life
consists of daring to do, and only those who dare to pio- neer ever make mistakes. Those who will not dare merely
duplicate the past, only exist. The thing to marvel at in man
is the courage with which he faces life, not his fortitude in
accepting death."
Sahula-Dycke wants to test and retest all superstitiously
nurtured beliefs - and he sees this testing as sanity, not heresy. The real heretic, he points out, is the believer who opposes education that would instruct in the history of social relationships.
Considering the price, one is paying only 50 cents each for
one of his priceless essays! It is another good Sahula-Dycke
book. You will enjoy it.

January, 1980

Page 39

Classified Ads
L.A. No.7

L.A. No. 14

Bachelor (35, 6'6", 200 lb) wishes

to meet single lady in the Corpus
Christi area with the object of matrimony.

Divorced, electronics trainer (53, 5'5",

160 lbs.), Puerto Rico, Seeks single or
female Atheist - age 30-40.

L.A. No ..1
Correspondence wanted with single
females. Must be 100% Atheist, 5'5"
or taller, 135 lbs or less, white female
who is free to travel. American, white
male, 51 years old (look 41), 6'1"
tall, 180 lbs, non-smoker, very light
drinker. Am a pipe welder by trade,
and an ex-New Englander, presently
.living in Houston, Texas.
L.A. No.2
Male would like to share the better
things in life with fun loving female.
Over 50. Smoker preferred. Likes
dancing and sailing.
L.A. No.3
Divorced, 6', 200 lb., nice looking,
white male. Healthy, sexy, nonsmoker, social drinker only. 65, but
look and act years younger. Work
everyday. Scientific minded, love to
think, reason and wonder. Own home
and business in Texas panhandle.
Interested in nice looking, younger,
slender, non-religious lady. Please
L.A. No.4
Correspondence wanted with single,
Atheist woman. Object: to share life.
I'm a single, American Atheist, white
man age 57, 5'9", 160 lbs, college
graduate, don't smoke or drink. I'm
retired romance and health minded,
like in'telligent discussion, table and
lawn tennis, travel.
L.A. No.5
Friendship sought with female Atheist of small stature (about 5'2" or
less), no "clinging" relatives, free to
travel if desired. American, white
male, 5'4" tall, chunky build, nonsmoker, non-drinker, live in Ohio
Valley, age 67, retired research chemist. Just damn tired of living alone.
L.A. No.6
White male (English-Irish), 32 years
old, single, 6'2", 180 lbs, college education, dark brown hair, non-smoker,
mail carrier living in Kansas. Will
answer all letters from lonely females.

Page 40

L.A. No. 15
L.A. No.8
Male research
5'10lh", 170
with similar

physicist and musician,

age 35,
lbs., desires to meet girl
interests in Michigan.
L.A. No.9

Atheist, living alone in
Chicago, 64, 5'9", 164 lbs, retired
on social INsecurity, non-smoker, very
light drinker, .never married, easy' to
get along with, fond of reading,
moderate in all things, wishes to
meet unattached, female Atheist in
Chicago area, object mutual romance,
companionship, comradeship, etc.
L.A. No. 10
Genuine American Atheist wishes to
with. erudite
Atheist ladies who are interested in
'contributing and sharing in a harmoniouspeer-relationship
and companionship with a retired Southern
gentleman farmer.

Correspondence wanted with female

Atheists. Am white male, 40, nonsmoker living in San Francisco Bay area.
L.A. No. 16
100% Atheist male, Caucasian with
pinch of American Indian (which I
resemble), average looking,. balding,
5'8", 146 lbs., 27, divorced from
"good Christian", don't want kids,
strict morally and ethically, non-bigoted, open-minded, conscientious, thrifty, sense of humor; uncertain about marriage, my health, job
future, life goals. Interested in communicating
with female 5'3'.' or
shorter, average to slim built, similar
personality, especially Baltimore, Md.
or Pa. area.

L.A. No. 11
wanted with trim
female, age 20-30. Male school teacher, age 27, 6'5", 235 lbs, backpacker!
mountaineer in California.
L.A. No. 12
Correspondence wanted with single,
female Atheists. Must be pleasant,
easy going, and unemotional and have
a minimum I.Q. of 120. I'm 34 years
old and have never been married. I'm
politically right-wing. My hobbies are
Irish music, art, canary breeding,
and Irish dancing. I live in the Milwaukee area.
L.A. No. 13
Gentleman bachelor, age 65, seeks
female companion over 50 for companionship. Floridians preferred.

January, 1980

Address your reply to L.A. No.

(whatever that number may be.) Place
your sealed envelope in a letter and
address the letter to the American
Athe-ist Center, p, O. Box 2117, Austin, Texas, 78768, We will see that
all replies are forwarded to the advertiser. No:' identities are ever revealed; we protect you from any
harassment which might come from
your home address appearing in our
. All Lonely Atheist ads can be
placed for $1 per word and run for
however long you are willing to pay
for it. The funds raised from these
ads go to help pay for the various vital activities of the American Atheist

American Atheist

Nobody has a prayer.

You may as well join the

group who knows it!
$15.00 per one year's membership
American Atheists
P.O. Box 2117
Austin, Texas 78768

redress of grievances . AMENDMENT

I Congress shall make




































- .rJ)





Wherever there are walls ~ shall inscribe this eternal

- I can write in letters which make even the blind
see .... .I call Christianity the ONE great curse, the
ONE great intrinsic depravity, the ONE great
instinct for revenge for which no expedient is
PETTY - I call it the ONE immortal blemish of
mankind .....
And one calculates TIME from the
DIES NEFASTUS. [unlucky day] on which this
fatality arose - from the FIRST day of Christianity! WHY NOT RATHER FROM HIS LAST?
~ FROM TO DAY? - Revaluation of all values!
Friedrich Nietzsche


































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