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PRAIRIAL (June) 11981; Vol. 23, No.

The Journal Of Atheist News And





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Giuseppe Garibaldi was born on the 4th of July 1807

and died on June 2, 1882. Basically, he was a military
leader in the movement for Italian unification and independence. He is considered as a prototype for guerrilla
warfare and one of the most brilliant and successful generals of that genre of warfare.
Early revolted by religion he refused the clerical education planned by his father. But, successful in coasting
trade, influenced by the political thought of Mazzini, he
early led an abortive revolt in Piedmont, northern Italy.
Exiled to South American he was partially responsible
for the freedom of Uruguay from Argentina, leading Italian legions in that war. His exploits were given fame by
" the writings of Alexander Dumas.
Returning to Italy he led armies against the Austrians
in Milam, the French forces supporting Rome and against the Papal States, in the 184.8 upheavals. In 1860
he led armies against Sicily and by the capture of Naples
united Italy under Victor Emmanuel II.
He was later disillusioned with subsequent politics
and felt that his revolutionary ideals had been compromised.
Acting, without the authority of the government, he
raised in the summer of 1867, an army for the liberation
of Rome, which he wished to annex to the Kingdom of
Italy. On September 16th, he addressed the Pope saying,
"Break the rings of your chains on the necks of your oppressors, and henceforth you will share your glory' with
. the Italians." But, the papacy was against the Italian unification and with its French allies ultimately defeated
We honor this great Atheist in the month of his death.
Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin was born July 1,
1804 and died June 8, 1876.
Victor Hugo delivered the funeral oration, orie passage of which read:
"She is the one great woman in this century whose
mission was to finish the French Revolution and commence the revolution of humanity. Equality of the sexes
being a branch of the equality of men, a great woman
was necessary. It was for a woman to prove that her
mind might possess all gifts without losing a particle of
her angelic nature, might be at once strong and gentle.
George Sand was that woman. Happy is it that some one
does honor to France when so many disgrace it. George
Sand is one of the glories of our age and country. She
had a great heart like Barbes, a great mind like Balzac,
and a great soul like Lamartine. To enumerate her masterpieces were needless, and a plagiarism from the sto- .
ries of universal memory. She was good, and accordinqlv
she had detractors, but the insults to her were of that
kind which posterity will count as glories_"
Her father was killed in an accident when Sand was
-just four and her education, being left to a grandmother,
. she was' placed for three years (1817-1820) in a Roman
Catholic convent.
Upon leaving the convent, in 1821, she became the
heiress of the Nohant estate. However, with marriage to
a retired officer of the army, her fortune passed to him.
, After ten years and two children the marriage was dissolved and she moved to Paris where her career as a writ! er began in 1835.
We honor this Atheist woman in the month of her



PRAIRIAL (June) 11981; Vol. 23, No.7


"Not Logical, Consistent, or Comprehensible"

p. 3

Redondo Beach

Shelley - In Defense of Freedom - Ellen Mardan

The Necessity of Atheism - Percy Bythe Shelley

Tangled Consequences - Ignatz Sahula-Dycke


The Handwriting on The Wall - Gerald Tholen


American Atheist Radio Series - The Fifth Commandment


Editorial - Jon G. Murray

Atheist Masters: On Youthful Cynicism - Bertrand Russell.

Poetry. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ., . . . . ...

Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Managing Editor
Jon G. Murray
Felix Santana
Angeline Bennett
Robin Eileen Murray-O'Hair
Ralph Shirley
Richard Smith
Gerald Tholen
Gloria Tholen
Non-Resident Staff
Ignatz Sahula-Dycke
Fred Woodworth


. . . ,'. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

The American Atheist magazine is

published monthly by the American
Atheist Center, located at 2210 Hancock Dr., Austin, TX 78756, a non. profit, non-political, educational organization. Mailing address: P. O. Box
2117, Austin, TX 78768. Copyright,
1981 by Society of Separationists, Inc.
Subscription rates: $25.00/year; $40
itwo years. Manuscripts submitted
must be typed, double-spaced and accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. The. editors assume no
responsibility for unsolicitied manuscripts.
The American Atheist Magazine'
is indexed in
ISSN: 0032-4310

Prairial (June) 11981

Austin, Texas


Until the time of the founding of the

United States the idea of state and religion
separated was anathema in every country of .
the world.
What set aside our nation as completely
unique was the insistence upon its secularism by its founders. They would not have a
reference to god in any of those initial
pol itical papers. Jefferson wrote the Constitution primarily and in it was not one mention of god, nor of the alleged founder of
The document called upon "We, The
, People" instead of "Almighty God."
It was similar with the Declaration of Independence reproduced on the cover. They
were realists, these men, many were materialists. The document was specific: "When In
the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the polcal bands which have connected them with
another. .. a decent respect for the opinion
of mankind requires that they should declare'
the causes which compel them to the separation."
There was no Christianity here; no deference to Jahweh, Jehovah or Christ. They
knew where they were and what they wanted - and that man.alone could obtain better
governments, better cultures, better human
systems. Out of deference to the religious
convictions of the many they nodded in the
direction of "Nature and Nature's god," to a
grand order of the universe which they saw
then, but which we do not see now.
We salute these incredibly brave and intelligent men in this month, 205 years later.



the ball

Page 1




The Pope has been shot and suddenly the Roman
Catholic community - and the politicians who rely
on the Roman Catholic vote - gather round to weep
and bewail this attempt on what they call "The Vicar
of Christ on Earth."
It is regrettable that any human being is shot by
another. The eduction for such violence on an individual level is given by the governments of the world.
The example is with those governments arming to the
teeth for a nuclear confrontation. As the nations posture and threaten one the other to wipe out entire
civilian populations to a man, as those nations call for
more and more billions for armaments, they encourage individuals to seek violent solutions for their arguments also.
If we have an ideological argument with another
nation, shall we win that argument through the use of
firepower and war - or through the use of logic and
So it is with the individual terrorist who is determined to have his voice and his ideology represented
by a gun.
It is regrettable, particularly,
that the Pope has
been shot since he could well be martyrized and his
repressive theology given impetus from the event,
The Pope is menace to humankind. He is a threat
to the human community in his desire to drag us back
to medievalism with his neofascistic, reactionary, inhuman and authoritarian pronouncements.
The Pope is anti-life, anti-peace, anti-woman, antihuman sexuality. anti-science - ah! but when he was
shot he immediately sought out medical science for
the cure. He did not wait for the intercession of the
Virgin Mary to assauge his wounds. A mass was said
for him after he was out of the operating and the recovery rooms, not before he was taken to the hospital
while his body lay oozing blood in the Vatican. Prayer then was not efficacious - surgery was.
It is always thus. While denouncing the very disciplines which bring some amelioration of the condition of mankind, the powerful always make use of
those disciplines - such as medicine - for themselves.
The Pope needs to live, not to die. He needs to live
because his irrational and inhuman ideas must be de
feated in a free market place of intellectual confrontation. Women cannot be told to retreat to the home.
The Inquisition, which he has reinstated, must be
closed again. There cannot be censorship of scholar-

Page 2

ship, of the press, or of speech. We have such little

freedom, now; it must be enlarged, not reduced. The
Pope has assailed sex education, birth control, free inquiry and secular education. He must be shown to the
world to be the reactionary, the medievalist, the neofascist, the authoritarian that he is. This can be done
only if he is alive and well so' that we may do battle
with him.
A dead Pope, enhancing the doctrines he promulgated while alive, would be replaced with another of an
even more evil stripe.
The would-be assassin was ill-advised. He adds stature and dignity to the Pope and gives him an aura of
mysticism. Later, it will be claimed that the Pope
survived because god was with him. Again, this is
powerfu I symbolism to reinforce ideas wh ich are,'
basically, insane. The assassination attempt makes it
more difficu It to deal with the Pope, not less.. The
would-be assassin should be dealt with in proper fashion, and quickly. Meanwhile, American Atheists will
continue the fight against the Pope, enemy of humankind.

On the day that the Pope was shot every large

media in the nation called The American Atheist Center. The substance of the above remarks were carried
by United Press International, ABC, Cable Network
News, CBS, scores of radios, newspapers and television stations.
At that time it was felt that it should be prepared
for the Dial-THE-Atheist service and it is (as this
magazine goes to press) on (512) 458-5731 - and
that number has been ringing constantly.
Since 3-minute tapes have now become available to
the Center, there will be constant, up-dated, editorial
statements such as this recorded on the national office Dial-THE-Atheist service. These will later be issued in book form.

Prairial (June) 11981



..front ~agt l\tbitbl

uie art man au btll ...

Meanwhile, in the case of Nottelson v.Smith Steel workers, decided on February 27th, 1981 there was a development
It was simply a license for insanity, only that and nothing rnore. Yet, it was
which could be destructive of unions.
solemnly reported in the news media as a decision of the United States Supreme
The collective bargaining agreement
Court. You can judge for yourself. Our Washington, D. C. Director, Noel Scott,
between an employer and the union conwent to the Supreme Court and obtained a full text of the opinion and sent it to
tained a union security clause requiring
the American Atheist Center. In relevant part, it follows.
membership in the union as a condition
Thomas v. Review Board, Indiana Employment Security Division
work. A member of the Seventh-Day
Argued October 7,1980 - Decided April 6, 1981
Adventist, Church, which teaches that it is
Eddie C. Thomas, a Jehovah's Witness, was initially hired to work in his em:
morally- wrong to be a member of or pay
pioyer's roll foundry, which fabricated sheet steel for a variety of industrial uses.
dues to a labor organization, requested
On his application form, he listed his membership in the Jehovah's Witnesses,
and noted that his hobbies were Bible study and Bible readinq. However, he plac-. that the union accommodate his religious
objection to the payment of union dues
.ed no conditions on his employment; '"
by permitting him to pay an equivalent
Approximately' a year later, the roll foundry closed and (he was) transferred
sum to a charity and NOT be a member
to a department that fabricated turrets for military tanks. On his first day at this
of the union. The union refused the re'new job, Thomas realized that the work he was doing was weapons related. He
accommodation and demanded
'checked the bulletin board ... discovered that all of the remaining departments
that the employer discharge the employee
. .. were engaged directly in the production of weapons .... He quit, asserting'
in accordance with the collective bargainthat he could not work on weapons without violating the principles of his reliing agreement. The employer did so.
gion. . .. He applied for unemployment compensation benefits under the InThe employee filed a discrimination
diana Employment Security Act. (The Board found that he) did quit due to his
complaint "because of religion."
religious convictions, but that this termination was not based upon a "good
.ln question was t701 (j) of Title VII of
cause arising in connection with his work," as required by the Indiana unern-.
the Civil Rights Act which requires that
ployment , .. statute. Accordingly he was not entitled to benefits.
there must be "reasonable accommoda[Through appeals, the case then came to the United States Supreme Court.]
tion" of "religious belief" if this does not
Only beliefs rooted in religion are protected by the Free Exercise Clause, [of
create "undue hardship" onthe employthe First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States] which, by its
terms, gives sp,.ecial protection to the exercise of religion. Sherbert v. Verner,
The court held that this clause does
374 U.S. 398 (1963); Wisconsin v. Yoder 406 U.S. 205 (1971). The determinanot protect the interest of religionists,
tion of what is a "religious" belief or practice is more often than not a difficult
over non-religionists, it does not foster a
and delicate task, as the division in the Indiana Supreme Court attests. See, e.g.,
governmental entanglement and that it
Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961); United States v. Ballard, 332 U.S. 78
has a secular purpose in accommodating
(1944). However, the resolution of 'that question is not to turn upon a judicial
religious persons. _
perception of the particular belief or practice in question; -"eligiousbeliefs need
Without a "religious belief" as motivanot be acceptable, logical, consistent, or comprehensible to others in order to '
tion, no other person could make the
merit First Amendment protection. [Italics added. - ed.]
same request to avoid payment of dues to
... another Jehovah's Witness had no scruples about working on tank turrets;
the union; "religion" was essential..
.. , Intrafaith differences of that kind are not uncommon among followers of a
This is the .sinqle best ','union busting"
particular creed, ... and the guarantee of free exercise is not limited to beliefs
technique introduced in ages..
which are shared by all of the, members of a reliqious sect.
Judge Pell dissented, noting that: In
Accordi ngly, Thomas is entitled to receive benefits, ..
imposing upon employers and sometimes
Justice Rehnquist dissented: ... the Court today reads the Free Exercise
on unions, the necessity of reasonably
Clause more broadly than is warranted ... Where, as here, a State has enacted a
accommodating the diverse practices of
general statute, the purpose and effect of which is to advance the State's secular
the many different religions extant in this
goals, the Free Exercise Clause does not in my view require the State to conform
country, government entanglement with
that statute to the dictates oheligious conscience of any group ... today's dereligion cannot be avoided. Therefore,
cision requires a State to provide direct financial assistance to persons solely on
, t701 (j) is unconstitutional.
the basis of their religious beliefs.






The 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 andtifestvles. Religion is politics and, always, the most authoritarian and reactionary' politics. We editorialize our news to emphasize this thesis: Unlike any
other magaz!n~ or ne_wsp~~erin the, UnitedStates, we say so.
Austin, Texas

Prairial (June) 11981

Page 3

... anb wtwon't takt it annmoret

Redondo service slated as suit fails

a sUeees

tion of church and state.

Councilmen voted 3-2last ~th to Central Baptist Church in Burbank
In addition. F.A-AlthoughU.S. District Court Judge provide ualstance for tbe event
H. Is also a television and movie .".
~ariana R. ?faelzer refused to issue through the chamber despite warn actor
an injunction to stop the event, she ingB from then-City Attomey<:a: ies
did order the city to seek reimburse- "ChIp" POIItthat such belp I
ment from the chamber. Sbe also the iaw.
t the
requested the city 8il'ee not to pr>.
sect\on '5,.0. 011
vide any ualataDce for ..
Af\\c\e \.6:
. ellpllclt
F\!Ia\\~ con:;titutlOIl I~t tall tundS.
Councilmen, however;
Cal\t.o~~ th\S tn\S~ature,
1I0r an~
:~ to seek relrnbursem
~"o Ually B.r~..dondO sc:r:
!o:~~~~p~the L~~, ever tn~~~'h\iC






John Edwards, the Director of 'the Los Angeles Chapter of

Article 16, Section 5 of the Consti.tution of the State of CaAmerican Atheists,
lives in Redondo
Beach, California, and
iifornia is explicit on forbidding this misuse of tax funds:
out of this simple fact has come a breath of fresh air for that
. "Neither the- Legislature,
nor any county, city ...
ever make an appropriation,
or pay from any public fund
r1i grant anything to or in aid' of any religious
It has been the habit of the Chamber of Commerce to spon.sect, church, creed, or sectarian purpose .. : .. "
sor an Easter Sunrise Observance at Veterans' Park in that city
The response of U. S. District Court Judge Mariana 'R>
for the last 23 years. The cost to the city has generally been in
the $200 to $1,000 range.
Pfaelzer was immediate. Since Easter was then upon the city,
the judge did not stop the service which was set for the folAfter some discussion had been started in the media, by American Atheists, over the constitutionality
of such services,
lowing morning but she restrained the mayor and City Council
"from allowing
or directing the city of Redondo
Beach to
the Redondo city attorney,
by memorandum
informed the
inor support in any fashion whatsoever,
by money
mayor and city council that continuing
city support of the
or other city resources, any religious activities, rites or services
Easter Sunrise Service would be a violation of state/church
relating to a Christian Easter religious observance ... " She orseparation.
He asked that the mayor and city council not supdered the city to seek reimbursement
from the Chamber' of
ply city services or money for religious purposes. It had been
for any funding which had been directed to that
the habit of the city to provide the site, Veterans' Park, a puborganization.
The Chamber of Commerce Director immediatelic address system, about 1,000 chairs, and city employee serJv agreed that the chamber would reimburse the city for the
vices in conjunction
with the annual event.
services, although
it is unknown how much this year's Easter
The mayor responded
by announcing
plans for the Easter
services on March 14th.
service would cost.
The Judge concluded by stating that the use of city services
John Edwards obtained a copy of the city atwas permitted
on this occasion only, provided the city is retorney's cautionary
opinion and proceded to the City Council
imbursed and that the city could no longer pay for, or act as a
: meeting of March 30th. There he openly demanded that the
rental agency for the Easter sunrise service. If the city of Re mayor and the city council withdraw their planned city financial support of the religious services. The mayor responded by . dondo Beach did not come forward with such a stipulation
saying that the city would provide the money to the Chamber'
May 4th, 1981, (the date of the next council meeting) she
would issue a permanent injunction against the city.
of Commerce in order to get around the law, that the services
It was a quick, clean, victory for John Edwards - and all Awere planned and that he would not change that planning unless ordered to do so by a court of law.
merican Atheists. Therefore,
everyone was surprised to read
the Torrance Daily Breeze newspaper the following day and
John went to work. By April 3rd he had obtained copies of
rind the headlines "Redondo
Service Slated as Suit Fails." Athe March 30th minutes of the proceedings of the City Coungain John wa~qujck
to correct the paper, furnish excerpts
cil as well as' the March 9th minutes which included the discusfrom the judge's opinion and set the record straight: The corsion and City Council. vote overriding
the city attorney's
rected headline, "Redondo
Beach Lawuit A Success" appeared
opinion. He also queried
city official who provided the inin that same Daily Breeze on April 29th:
that city employees
would be used to set up city
John Edwards' parting comments
as he took leave of the
owned chairs and facilities at public expense.
suit were cogent. "ff the Chamber of Commerce, as its manaOn April 10th he filed a suit in the United States District
ger says, wants to 'do whatever is right: he might consider
Court for the Central District of California asking for injuncpaying the City back for the monies it obtained illegally for the
tion to stop the city of Redondo Beach from the giving of
past 22 years."
any tax dollar support to the endeavor.

Page 4







[The following is the text of an address
delivered by Ellen Mardan, San Diego Chapter Director, on the occasion of the First
Annual California State American Atheist
Convention in Solvang, California, on September 14, 1980.]
When John Edwards and I talked about what we could
use for the program here (Solvang) I mentioned that I
was hoping to get Shelley's Necessity of Atheism
printed so everyone could have a copy. John said that he
didn't know that Shelley had written such a piece and
that many others probably were unfamiliar with it;
would I like to give a speech about Shelley for my part of
the program. I said. "There is nothing I would rather do
than talk about Shelleyl"
We can't talk about Shelley without discussing the
people who made up his background. Let's start with
Mary Wollstonecraft.
How many of you recognize the
name Mary Wollstonecraft? For those who don't, Mary
is the first woman to publish a demand
for the emancipation of women.
In 1792. the year in which Shelley was born, she
published A Vindication of the Rights of Women. In it
she asked that women be granted equal education and
access to the professions. She said that the relationshp
between men and women should be a rational fellowship instead of slavish obedience.
With her fame as the author of A Vindication of the
Rights of Women. she gained access to a London
literary. radical group which included Thomas Paine.
who is said to be the first man to advocate justice for
women and Negroes.
If you are as ardent a fan of Tom Paine as I am you
have read The Rights of Women as well as The Rights of
In thatsame literary group was William Godwin. How
many of you recognize his name? He had been a
nonconformist preacher. as his father had been. Early iA
life he read Rousseau, the French materialists. Helvetius, and Holbach, who wrote the Atheistic Systeme de
la Nature. Through that influence Godwin lost his faith
in his religion. left the ministry and became an Atheist.
He wrote novels. newspaper articles. political pamphlets, etc. In 1793 he published his most famous and
important work. An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice.
This Enquiry was based on the philosophy of Locke
and Hume and was a reply to Burke's attack on the
French Revolution. as Tom Paine's Rights of Man was
written to answer Burke's attack.
Godwin's Enquiry became so famous that poor workmen clubbed together to buy copies of it.


In it Godwin stressed that all men are born with a gift

- reason. He said that the state mythology and menta.
distort men's judgment.
He argued that
emancipated men will simply know better than to want
undue wealth - shades of Senecal Compulsory education will rehabilitate those spoiled by society - the
modern Chinese must have taken note of thisl
Godwin's Enquiry had a profound influence on many
important writers.
Thomas Malthus wrote his Essay on Population as a
reaction to the Enquiry. In turn. Godwin pointed out
many errors in Malthus' Essay. Malthus rewrote his
Essay to accomodate to Godwin's criticism.
The Enquiry had an important influence on Wordsworth. Coleridge, Robert Southey. John Stuart Mill.
Robert Owen. Proudhon - that great French rebel. and
Karl Marx, no lessl
The year of publication of Godwin's Enquiry. 1793.
was a particularly
year. France was in
ferment - in the midst of the Reign of Terror. Thomas
Paine wrote Part I of The Age of Beeson. Washington
was re-elected President. The English wefe defending
their precious monarch. And Shelley was one year old,
Mary Wollstonecraft
and William Godwin married in
1794. In 1797 they had a daughter whom they also
named Mary Wollstonecraft
Godwin. The mother died
soon after. We will return to the younger Mary later.
. Now let's go to our subject Percy Bysshe Shelley.
He was born in 1792 into a privileged class. His
mother was of a poetic nature. with artistic inclination.
His. father. Timothy. was a wealthy landowner and
country squire. a Whig member of Parliament. and a
skilled agriculturalist.
.Timothy's father. Bysshe. was born in Newark. New
Jersey. son of an erniqrant. Grandfather Bysshe had
gone to England and married. successively. two heiresses and built up a fortune. He was knighted. and
dubbed Sir Bysshe.
Percy Bysshe had his early schooling. which he
thoroughly disliked. at Syon House Academy. 18021804. There and at Eton. 1804-1810. he was tormented
by older boys. which. no doubt. was tfte origin of his
sense of mission in the cause of liberation.
Shelley early rejected belief in Christianity. In his day
deism was the philosophy of "intellectuals"
and "educated."

Prairial (June) 11981

Austin, Texas



Deism made a strong but short-lived appeal to Shelley. The god of deism did not satisfy his logical mind. The
notion of a deity who created the universe and then
retired. helpless and impotent. did not make sense. He
. wrote in one letter: "I will say that my rejection of
revealed religion (Christianity) proceeds from my perfect conviction of its insufficiency to the happiness of
man - to this course I can trace murder. war. intolerance. I was was an enthusiastic deist. but never a
Because of his disbelief he was persecuted at home.
He lost his first love. his cousin. Harriet Grove. over his
difference in religion. His mother lamented that her son
was an eccentric.
In 1B1O. Shelley's father enrolled him in University
College. Oxford. where he looked forward to a freer.
happier life as a student.
He immediately met another student. Thomas Jefferson Hogg, with whom he formed a close friendship.
. The two spent their time together to the exclusion of
other students. They collaborated in writing a pamphlet
The Necessity of Atheism."
Shelley sent copies to bishops. archbishops. and
professors. These authorities traced authorship to Shelley and Hogg. In the trial which followed neither would
claim the pamphlet. so both were expelled March 25.
In August. 1811. Shelley eloped with and married
Harriet Westbrook. a striking beauty. daughter of a wine
merchant. and a school friend of his sisters.

marriage. between 1813 and 1814, fell apart.

Shelley and Mary left England July 5. 1814. with
Mary's stepsister. They traveled through Switzerland
and other parts of the Continent.
Grandfather Sir Bysshe died in 1815 and left Percy
Bysshe an income of 1.000 a year, which eased his
financial troubles.
In December 1816. Shelley's wife Harriet committed
suicide by. drowning. Custody of the two children was
awarded by the state to Harriet's father.
One finds hints of Harriet's infidelities and nagging.
but we must withhold judgment.
Shelley and Mary. now free. married on December
We all know Mary Wollstonecraft
Shelley as the
author of the famous novel Frankenstein. published in
Poisonous tongues and Shelley's illness urged them
out of England. Shelley spent the rest of his life in Italy.
He wrote the most memorable poetry and prose in the
four years between 1818-1822.
Shelley's disbelief. his elopementand attitudes alienated his father; further communication
through an attorney. The son challenged his father in
letters to prove his Christian charity and forgive him. but
his father never forgave.
William Godwin sank into oblivion. His Enquiry is
worth reading and belongs in Atheist libraries. It is not
easy reading; it is full of ponderous prose and gnarled

[to Christianity]" ... 1can trace murder, war, intolerance.

1was .. : never a Christian."
The first part of this marriage was happy. The two
Mary Wollstonecraft's
Vindication of the Rights. of
traveled in England. Wales. Scotland.
Women, deserves the attention of all women Ii'nd men.
On January 3, 1812. Shelley addressed a letter to
Shelley died in 1822. age 30. in a storm at sea.
William Godwin to tell him that as a student at Eton he
Shelley wrote the greatest lyrical drama (Hel/as). the
had read his Enquiry Concerning Political Justice.
greatest tragedy (The cench, the greatest poem on love
Shelley used this book as a guide the remainder of his
(Episychidion), the greatest pastoral elegy (Adonais).
Shelley was not only a creator of rapturous poetry. He
Shelley went to Ireland to help Catholic emanciwas a philosopher who sought reality and truth through
reason and knowledge. He was a visionary who had
In March 1812. Daniel Eaton. a liberal printer and . glimpses of what life might be in contrast with life as he
bookseller. was sent to the pillory and sentenced to a found it, of the gap between-what is and what ought to
year and six months' imprisonment for publishing Part
III of Paine's Age of Reason. Shelley reacted with
He was compassionate with all his fellow beings. He
constemation. He wrote to Lord Ellenborough, the . forswore meat-eating at age twenty and abstained the
judge. to protest this injustice. and to demand complete
remainder of his life. See his Vindication of a Natural
freedom of speech and press. He sent copies of this
Diet. He was equally opposed to alcohol consumption
letter in bottles by sea. and ballons by air. He was kept
for obvious reasons.
under observation by the government.
He was a champion of the oppressed against the
Shelley met William Godwin October 4. 1812. In oppressor. He was an idealist who loved mankind. He
1813 he published Queen Mab. his first long poem. In was a rebel against all forms of wrongs and human
this he tried to put into poetic form the ideas in Godwin's
corruption. He was a reformer against evil in politics.
Enquiry .. As a note to Queen Mab he revised and
religion. conventional opinion and customs.
enlarged The Necessity of Atheism.
In short, he was a throughly moral man. which. after
A friendship developed between Godwin and Shelley.
all. is what counts.
On May 5 or 6. 1814. Shelley met Mary Godwin at the
I hope this brief presentation on Shelley will send you
Godwin home. They fell in love. and an already shaky
to read the complete story.

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Prairial (June) 11981

Austin, Texas


by Percy Bysshe Shelley

[NOTE: The Necessity of Atheism was published by .

Shelley in 1811. In 1813 he printed a revised and
expanded version of it as one of the notes to his poem
Queen Mab. The revised and expanded version is the
one here reprinted.]
This negation must be understood solely to affect a
creative deity. The hypothesis of a pervading spirit
coeternal with the universe remains unshaken.
A close examination of the validity of the proofs
adduced to support any proposition is the only secure
way of attaining truth, on the advantages of which it is
unnecessary to descant: our knowledge of the existence
of a deity is a subject of such importance that it cannot
be too minutely investigated; in consequence of this
conviction we proceed briefly and impartially to examine the proofs which have been adduced. It is
necessary first to consider the nature of belief.
When a proposition is offered to the mind, it perceives
the agreement or disagreement of the ideas of which it
Consequently no testimony can be admitted which is
is composed. A perception of their agreement is termed
contrary to reason; reason is founded on the evidence of
belief. Many obstacles frequently prevent this percepour senses.
tion from being immediate; these the mind attempts to
Every proof may be referred to one of these three
remove in order that the perception may be distinct. The
divisions: it is to be considered what arguments we
mind is active in the investigation in order to perfect the
receive from each of them, which should convince us of
the existence of a deity.
state of perception of the relation which the component
ideas of the proposition bear to each, which is passive:
1st, The evidence of the senses. If the deity should
the investigation being confused with the perception
appear to us, if he should convince our senses of his
has induced many falsely to imagine that the mind is existence, this revelation would necessarily command
active in belief,-that
belief is an act of volition,-in
belief. Those to whom the deity has thus appeared have
consequence of which it may be regulated by the mind.
the strongest possible conviction of his existence. But
Pursuing, continuing this mistake, they have attached a the god of Theologians is incapable of local visibility.
degree of criminality to disbelief; of which in its nature,
2d, Reason. It is urged that man knows that whatever
it is incapable: it is equally incapable of merit.
is must either have had a beginning, or have existed
Belief, then, is a passion, the strength of which, like . from all eternity: he also knows that whatever is not
every other passion, is in precise proportion to the
eternal must have had a cause. When this reasoning is
applied to the universe, it is necessary to prove that it
degrees of excitement.
The degrees of excitement are three.
. was created: until that is clearly demonstrated we may
The senses are the sources of all knowledge to the
reasonably suppose that is has endured from all eternmind; consequently their evidence claims the strongest
ity. We must prove design before we can infer a
designer. The only idea which we can form of causation
The decision of the mind, founded upon our own
is derivable from the constant conjunction of objects,
experience, derived from these sources, claims the next and the consequent inference of one from the other. In a
case where two propositions are diametrically opposite,
The experience of others, which addresses itself to the mind believes that which is least incomprehenthe former one, occupies the lowest degree.
is easier to suppose that the universe has
(A graduated Scale, on which should be marked the existed from all eternity than to conceive a being beyond
capabilities of propositions to approach to the test of the its limits capable of creating it: if the mind sinks beneath
senses, would be a just barometer of the belief which
the weight of one, is it an alleviation to increase the
intolerability of the burden?
ought to be attached to them.)

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The other argument, whieh is founded on a man's dietory qualities. From this hypothesis we invent this
knowledge of his own existence, stands thus. A man general name, to conceal our ignorance of causes and
knows not only that he now is, butthatoncehewas
not; essences. The being called god by no means answers
consequently there must have been a cause. But our with the conditions prescribed by Newton; it bears every ,
idea of causation is alone derivable from the constant
mark of a veil woven by philosophical conceit, to hide
conjunction of objects and the consequent inference of .' the ignorance of philosophers even from themselves.
one from the other; and, reasoning experimentally, we They borrow the threads of its texture from the anthropocan only infer from effects causes exactly adequate to morphism of the vulgar. Words have been used by
those effects. But there certainly is a generative power sophists for the same purposes, from the occult qual iwhich is effected by certain instruments: we cannot ties of the peripatetics to the effluvium of Boyle and the '
prove that it is inherent in these instruments; nor is the crinities or nebulae of Herschel. God is represented as
contrary hypothesis capable of demonstration: we ad- . infinite, eternal, incomprehensible;
he is contained
mit that the generative power is incomprehensible; but under every predicate in non that the logic of ignorance
to suppose that the same effect is produced by an .could fabricate. Even his worshippers allow that it is
eternal, omnisicient, omnipotent being leaves the cause impossible to form any idea of him: they exclaim with
in the same obscurity, but renders it more incompre-the
French poet,
Pour dire ce qu'it est, if faut etre lui-meme.
3d, Testimony. It is required that testimony should
Lord Bacon says that Atheism leaves to man reason,
not be contrary to reason. The testimony that the deitY
philosophy, natural piety, laws, reputation, and everyconvinces the senses of men of his existence can only
thing that can serve to conduct him to virtue; but
be admitted by us, if our mind considers it less probable
superstition destroys all these, and erects itself into a
that these men should have been deceived than that the
tyranny over the understandings of men: hence Athedeity should have' appeared to them. Our reason can' ism never disturbs the government, but renders man
never admit the testimony of men, who not only declare
more clear-sighted, since he sees nothing beyond the
that they were eye-witnesses of miracles, but that the
boundaries of the present life.-Bacon's
Moral Essays.
deity was irrational; for he commanded that he should
[Beginning here, and to the paragraph ending with
be believed, he proposed the highest rewards for faith,
"Systeme de la Nature," Shelley wrote in French. A free
eternal punishments for disbelief. We can only comtranslation has been substituted]

mand voluntary actions; belief is riot an act of volition;

The first theology of man made him first fear and
the mind is even passive, or involuntarily active; from
adore the elements themselves, the gross and material
this it is evident that we have no sufficient testimony, or
objects of nature; he next paid homage to the agents
rather that testimony is insufficient to prove the being of
controlling the elements, lower genies, heroes or men
a god. It has been before shown that it cannot be gifted with great qualities. By force of reflection he
deduced from reason. They alone, then, who have been . sought to simplify things by subrnittinq all nature to a
convinced by the evidence of the senses can believe it.' single agent, spirit, or universal soul. wich gave moveHence it is evident that, having no proofs from either
ment to nature and all its branches. Mounti!lg from
of the three sources of conviction, the mind cannot
cause to cause, mortal man has ended by seeing
believe the existence of a creative god: it is also evident
nothing; and it is in the obscurity that he has placed his
that, as belief is a passion of the mind, no degree of
god; it is in this darksome abyss that his uneasy
criminality is attachable to disbelief; and that they only
imagination has always labored to fabricate chimeras,
are reprehensible who neglect to remove the false
which will continue to afflict him until his knowledge of
medium through which their mind views any subject of
nature chases these phantoms which he has always so
discussion. Every reflecting mind must acknowledge ' adored.
that there is no proof of the existence of a deity.
If we wish to explain our ideas ofthe divinity, we shall
God is an hypothesis, and, as such, stands in need of
be obliged to admit that, by the word god, man has never
proof: the onus probandi rests on the theist. Sir Isaac been able to designate but ihe most hidden, the most
Newton says: Hypotheses non fingo, quicquid enim ex distant and the most unknown cause of the effects
phaenomenis non deducitur hypothesis, vocendeest. et which he saw; he has made use of his word only when
hypothesis vel metaphysicae, vel physicae, vel queti- . the play of natural and known causes ceased to be
tstum occulterum, seu mecbsnicee, in philosophis
visible to him; as soon as he lost the thread of these
locum non habent. To all proofs of the existence of a causes, or when his mind could no longer follow the
creative god apply this valuable rule. We see a variety of chain, he cut the difficulty and ended his researches by
bodies possessing a variety of powers: we merely know
calling god the last of the causes, that is to say, that
their effects; we are in a state of ignorance with respect
which is beyond all causes that he knew; thus he but
to their essences and causes. These Newton calls the
assigned a vague denomination to an unknown cause,
phenomena of things; but the pride of philosophy is at which his laziness or the limits of his knowledge
. unwilling to admit its ignorance of their causes. From
forced him to stop. Every time we say that god is the
the phenomena, which are the objects of our senses, we
author of some phenomenon, that signifies that we are
attempt to infer a cause, which we call god, and
ignorant of how such a phenomenon was able to
,gratuitously endow it, with aJI negative and contraoperate by the aid of forces or causes that we know in

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nature. It is thus that the generality of mankind, whose

lot is ignorance, attributes to the divinity, not only the
unusual effects which strike them, but moreover the
most simple events, of which the causes are the most
simple to understand by whomsoever is able to study
them. In a word, man has always respected unknown
causes, surprising effects that his ignorance kept him
from unraveling. It was on this debris of nature that man
raised the imaginary colossus of the divinity.
If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, knowledge of
nature is made for their destruction. In proportion as
man taught himself, his strength and his resources
augmented with his knowledge; science, the arts,
industry, furnished him assistance; experience reassured him or procured for him means of resistance to
the efforts of many causes which ceased to alarm as
soon as they became understood. In a word, his terrors
dissipated in the same proportion as his mind became
enlightened. The educated man ceases to be superstitious.
It is only by hearsay (by word of mouth passed down
from generation to generation) that whole peoples
adore the god of their fathers and of their priests:
authority, confidence, submission and custom with
them take the place of conviction or of pr-oofs: they
prostrate themselves and pray, because their fathers
taught them to prostrate themselves and pray: but why
did their fathers fall on their knees? That is because, in

god, are they in agreement? Are they content with the

proofs that their colleagues bring of his existence? 00
they suscribe unanimously to the ideas they present on
nature, on his conduct, on the manner of understanding
his pretended oracles? Is there a country on earth where
the science of god is really perfect? Has this science
anywhere taken the consistency and uniform ity that we
see the science of man assume, even in the most futile
crafts, the most despised trades. These words, mind,
immateriality, creation, predestination and grace; this
mass of subtle distinctions with which theology is
everywhere filled; these so ingenious inventions, imagined by thinkers who have succeeded one another for
so many centuries, have only, alasl confused things all
the more, and never has man's most necessary science,
up to this time, acquired the slightest fixity. For thousands of years the lazy dreamers have perpetually
relieved one another to meditate on the divinity, to
divine his secret will, to invent the proper hypothesis to
develop this important enigma. Their slight success has
not discouraged the theological vanity: one always
speaks of god: one has his throat cut for god: and this
sublime being still remains the most unknown and the
most discussed.
Man would have been too happy, if, limiting himself to
the visible objects which interested him, he had employed, to perfect his real sciences, his laws, his morals,
his education, one-half the efforts he has put into his

"Man has always respected unknown causes, surprising effects that

his ignorance kept him from unraveling. It was on this debris of

Nature that man raised the imaginary colossus of the divinity."
primitive times, their legislators and their guides made
it their duty. "Adore and believe," they said, "the gods
whom you cannot understand; have confidence in our
profound wisdom; we know more than you about
divinity." But why should I come to you? It is because
god willed it thus; it is because god will punish you if you
dare resist. But this god, is not he, then, the thing in
question? However, man has always traveled in this
vicious circle; his slothful mind has always made him
find it easier to accept the judgment of others. All
religious notions are founded solely on authority; all the
religions of the world forbid examination and do not
want one to reason; authority wants one to believe in
god; this god is himself founded only on the authority of
a few men who pretend to know him, and to come in his
name and announce him on earth. A god made by man
undoubtedly has need of man to make himself known to
Should it not, then, be for the priests, the inspired, the
metaphysicians that should be reserved the conviction
of the existence of a god, which they, nevertheless, say
is so necessary for all mankind? But can you find any
harmony in the theological opinions of the different
inspired ones or thinkers scattered over the earth? They
themselves, who make a profession of adoring the same

Austin, Texas

researches on the divinity. He would have been still

wiser and still more fortu nate if he had beefl satisfied to
let his jobless guides quarrel among
sounding depths capable of rendering them dizzy, without himself mixing in their senseless disputes. But it is
the essence of ignorance to attach importance to that
which it does not understand. Human vanity is so
constituted that it stiffens before difficulties. The more
an object conceals itself from our eyes, the greater the
effort we make to seize it, because it pricks our pride, it
excites our curiosity and it appears interesting. In
fighting for his god everyone, in fact, fights only for the
interests of his own vanity, which, of all the passions
produced by the mal-organization of society, is the
quickest to take offense, and the most capable of
committing the greatest follies.
If, leaving for a moment the annoying idea that
theology gives of a capricious god, whose partial and
despotic decrees decide the fate of mankind, we wish to
fix our eyes only on the pretended goodness, which all
men, even trembling before this god, agree is ascribing
to him, if we allow him tmt purpose that is lent him of
having worked only for his own glory, of exacting the
homage of intelligent beings; of seeking only in his
works the well-being of mankind; how reconcile these

Prairial (June) 11981


"Ifignorance of nature gave birth

to gods, knowledge of nature is
made for their destruction,"
views and these dispositions with the ignorance truly
which this god. so glorious and so good.
leaves the majority of mankind in regard to god himself?
If god wishes to be known. cherished. thanked. why
does he not show himself under his favorable features
to all these intelligent beings by whom he wishes to be
loved and adored? Why not manifest himself to the
whole earth in an unequivocal manner. much more
capable of convincing us that these private revelations
which seem to accuse the divinity of an annoying
partiality for some of his creatures? The all-powerful.
should he not have more convincing means bywhich to
show himself to man than these ridiculous metamorphoses. these pretended incarnations. which are attested by writers so little in agreement among themselves? In place of so many miracles. invented to prove
the divine mission of so many legislators revered by the
different people of the world. the Sovereign of these
spirits. could he not convince the human mind in an
instant of the things he wished to make known to it?
Instead of hanging the sun in the vault of the firmament.
instead of scattering the stars without order. and the
constellations which fill space. would it not have been
more in conformity with the views of a god so jealous of
his glory and so well-intentioned for mankind. to write.
in a manner not subject to dispute. his name. his
attributes. his permanent wishes in ineffaceable characters. equally understandable to all the inhabitants, of
the earth? No one would then be able to doubt the
existence of god. of his clear will. of his visible intentions. Under the eyes of this so terrible god no one would
have the audacity to violate his commands. no mortal
would dare risk attracting his anger: finally. no man
would have the effrontery to impose on his name or to
interpret his will according to his own fancy.
In fact. even while admitting the existence of the
theological god. and the reality of his so discordant
attributes which they impute to him. one can conclude
nothing to authorize the conduct or the cult which one is
prescribed to render him. Theology is truly the sieve of
the Danaides. By dint of contradictory qualities and
hazarded assertions it has. that is to say. so handicapped its god that it has made it impossible for him to
act. If he is infinitely good. what reason should we have
to fear him? If he is infinitely wise. why should we have
doubts concerning our future? If he knows all. why warn
him of our needs and fatigue him with our prayers? If he
is everywhere. why erect temples to him? If he is just.
why fear that he will punish the creatures that he has
filled with weaknesses? If grace does everything for
them. what reason would he have for recompensing
them? If he is all-powerful. how offend him. how resist
him? If he is reasonable. how can he be angry at the
blind, to whom he has given the liberty of being


Page 10

unreasonable? If he is immovable. by what right.do we

pretend to make him change his decrees? If he is
inconceivable. why occupy ourselves with him? IF HE
HAS SPOKEN. WHY IS THE UNIVERSE NOT CONVINCED? If the knowledge of a god is the most necessary. why is it not the most evident and the clearest.Systeme de la Nature. London. 1781.

"The educated man ceases to be

superstitious. "
The enlightened and benevolent Pliny thus publicly
professes himself an Atheist:-Quapropter effigiem Dei

formamque quaerere imbecillitatis humanae reor. Quisquis est Deus (si modo est alius) et quacunque in parte,
totus est sensus, totus est visus, totus auditus, totus
animae, totus animi, totus sui .... Imperfectae vero in
homine naturae praecipua solatia ne deum quidem
posse omnia. Namque nee sibi potest mortem consciscere, si velit. quod homini dedit optimum in tantis
vitae poenis; nee mortales aeternitate donare, aut
revocare defunctos; nee facere ut qui vixit non vixerit,
qui honores gessit non gesserit, nullumque habere in
,praeteritum ius praeterquam oblivionis, atque (ut facetis quoque argumentis societas haec cum deo copuletur) ut bis dena viginti non sint., et multa similiter
efficere non posse.-Per quaedeclaratur haud dubie
naturae potentiam id quoque esse quod Deum vocamus.-Plin. Nat. His. cap. de Deo.
The consistent Newtonian is necessarily an Atheist.
See Sir W. Drummond's Academical Questions. chap.
iii.-Sir W. seems to consider the Atheism to which it
leads as a sufficient presumption of the falsehood of the
system of gravitation; but surely it is more consistent
with the good faith of philosophy to admit a deduction
from facts than an hypothesis incapable of: proof.
although it might militate with the obstinate preconceptions of the mob. Had this author. instead of
inveighing against the guilt and absurdity of Atheism.
demonstrated its falsehood. his conduct would have
been more suited to the modesty of the skeptic and the
toleration of the philosopher.

Omnia enim per dei potentiam facta sunt: imo quia

naturae potentia nulla est nisi ipsa dei potentia. Certum
est nos eatenus dei potentiemnon intelligere, quatenus
causas naturales ignoramus; adeoque stulte ad eandem
dei potentiam recurritur, quando rei alicuius causam
naturalem, sive est, ipsam dei potentiam ignoramus.Spinoza, Tract. Theologico-Pol. chap. i. p. 14.

" . all the religions of the world

forbid examination and do not
want one to reason;"

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The Evangelist

Prairial (June) 11981

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Page 11


t~~-- --~:;".,~ ~tbtt~t.ma~ttr~







~ ~~~


Any person who visits the universities of the Western

world is liable to be struck by the fact that the intelligent
young of the present day are cynical to a far greater
extent than was the case formerly. This is not true of
Russia, India, China, or Japan; I believe it is the case in
.Czechoslovakia, Jugoslavia, and Poland, nor by any
means universally in Germany, but it certainly is a
notablecharacteristic of intelligent youth in England,
France, and the United States. To understand why youth
is cynical in the West, we must also understand why it is
.not cynical in the East.
'Young men in Russia are not cynical because they
accept, on the whole, the Communist philosophy, and
they have a great country full of natural resources,
ready to be exploited by the help of intelligence. The
young have therefore a career before them which they
feel to be worth while. You do not have to consider the
ends of life when in the course of creating Utopia you
are laying a pipe-line, building a railway, or teaching
peasants to use Ford tractors simultaneously on a fourmile front. Consequently the Russian youth are vigorous and filled with ardent beliefs.
In India the fundamental belief of the earnestvounq is
in the wickeness of England: from this premise, as from
the existence of Descartes, it is possible to deduce a
whole philosophy. From the fact that England is Christian, it follows that Hinduism or Mohammedanism, as
the case may be, is the only true religion. From the fact
that England is capitalistic and industrial, it follows,
according to the temperament of the logician concerned, either that everybody ought to spin with a
spinning-wheel, or that protective duties ought to be
imposed to develop native industrialism and capitalism
as the only weapons with which to combat those of the
British. From the fact that the British hold India by
physical force, it follows that only moral force is admirable. The persecution of nationalist activities in India
is just sufficient to make them heroic, and not sufficient
to make them seem futile. In this way the Anglo-Indians
save the intelligent youth of India from the blight of
In China hatred of England has also played its parts,
but a much smaller part than in India because the
English have never conquered the country. The Chinese
youth combine patriotism with a genuine enthusiasm
for Occidentalism, in the kind of way that was common
in Japan fifty years ago. They want the Chinese people
to be enlightened, free, and prosperous, and they have
their work cut out to produce this result. Their ideals are,

Page 12.

on the whole, those of the nineteenth century, which in

China have not yet begun to seem antiquated. Cynicism
in China was associated with the officials of the Imperial
regime and survived among the warring militarists who
have distracted the country since 1911, but it has no
place in the mentality of the modern intellectuals .
In Japan the outlook of young intellectuals is not
unlike that which prevailed on the Continent of Europe
between 1815 and 1848. The watchwords of Liberalism
are still potent: parliamentary government, liberty of the
subject, free thought and free speech. The struggle for
these against traditional feudalism and autocracy is
quite sufficient to keep young men busy and enthusiastic.
To the sophisticated youth of the West all this ardour
seems a trifle crude. He is firmly persuaded that having
studied everything impartially, he has seen through
everything and found that there is "nothing left remarkable beneath the visiting moon." There are, of course,
plenty of reasons for this inthe teachings of the old. I do
not think these reasons go to the root otthe matter, for
in other circumstances the young react against the
teaching of the old and achieve a gospel of their own. If
the Occidental youth of the present day react only by
cynicism, there must be some special reason for this
circumstance. Not only are the young unable to believe
what they are told, but they seem also unable to believe
anything else. This is a peculiar state of affairs, which
deserves investigation. Let us first take some of the old
ideals one by one and see why they no longer inspire the
old loyalties. We may enumerate among such ideas:
religion, country, progress, beauty, truth. What is wrong
with these in the eyes of the young?
Religion- The trouble here is partly intellectual,
partly social. For intellectual reasons few able men have
now the same intensity of religious belief as was
possible for, say St. Thomas Aquinas. The god of most
moderns is a little vague, and apt to degenerate into a
Life Force or a "power not ourselves that makes for
righteousness." Even believers are concerned much
more with the effects of religion in this world than with
that other world that they profess to believe in; they are
not nearly so sure that this world was created for the
glory of god as they are that god is a useful hypothesis
for improving this world. By subordinating god to the
needs of this sublunary life, they cast suspicion upon
the genuineness of their faith. They seem to think that
god, like the Sabbath, was made for man. There are also
sociological reasons for not accepting the Churches as

Prairial (June) 11981

Austin, Texas

the basis of a modern idealism. The Churches, through

their endowments, have become bound up with the
defence of property. Moreover, they are connected with
an oppressive ethic, which condemns many pleasures
that to the young appear harmless and inflicts many
torments that to the sceptical appear unnecessarily
cruel. I have known earnest young men who accepted
wholeheartedly the teaching of Christ; they found
themselves in opposition to official Christianity, outcasts and victims of persecution, quite as much as if
they had been militant Atheists.
Country - Patriotism has been in many times and
places a passionate belief to which the best minds could
give full assent. It was so in England in the time of
Shakespeare, in Germany in the time of Fichte, in Italy
in the time of Mazzini. It is so still in Poland, China, and
Outer Mongolia. In the Western nations it is still
immensely powerful; it controls politics, public expenditure, military preparations, and so on. But the intelligent
youth are unable to accept it as an adequate ideal; they
perceive that it is all very well for oppressed nations, but
that as soon as an oppressed nation achieves its freedom, the nationalism which was formerly heroic becomes oppressive. The Poles, who had the sympathy of
idealists ever since Maria Teresa "wept but took," have
used their freedom to organize oppression in Ukrainia.
The Irish, upon whom the British had inflicted civilization for eight hundred years, have used their freedom
to pass laws preventing the publication of many good
books. The spectacle of the Poles murdering Ukrainians
and the Irish murdering literature makes nationalism
seem a somewhat inadequate ideal even for a small
nation. But when it comes to a powerful nation, the
argument is even stronger. The Treaty of Versailles was
not very encouraging to those who had the luck not to be
killed in defending the ideals which their rulers .betrayed. Those who during the war averred that they
were combating militarism became at its conclusion the
leading militarists in their respective countries. Such
facts have made it obvious to all intelligent young men
that patriotism is the chief curse of our age and will
bring civilization to an end if it cannot be mitigated.
Progress - This is a nineteenth century ideal which
has too much Babbit about it for the sophisticated youth.
Measurable progress is necessary in unimportant things,
such as the number of motor-cars made or the number
of peanuts consumed. The really important things are
not measurable and are therefore not suitable for the
methods of the booster. Moreover, many modern inventions tend to make people silly. I might instance the
radio, the talkies, and poison gas. Shakespeare measured the excellence of an age by its style in poetry (see
Sonnet XXXII), but his mode of measurement is out of
Beauty - There is something that sounds oldfashioned about beauty, though it is hard to say why. A
modern painter would be indignant if he were accused
of seeking beauty. Most artists nowadays appear to be
inspired by some kind of rage against the world so that
they wish rather to give significant pain than to afford

Austin, Texas

serene satisfaction. Moreover many kinds of beauty

require that a man should take himself more seriously
than is possible for an intelligent modern. A prominent
citizen of a small city State, such as Athens or Plorence,
could without difficulty feel himself important. The
earth was the centre of the Universe, man was the
purpose of creation, his own city showed man at his
best, and he himself was among the best in his own city.
In such circumstances Aeschylus or Dante could take
his own joys or sorrows seriously. He could feel that the
emotions of the individual matter, and that tragic
occurrences deserve to be celebrated in immortal verse.
But the modern man, when misfortune assails him, is
conscious of himself as a unit in a statistical total; the
past and the future stretch before him in a dreary
procession of trivial defeats. Man himself appears as a
somewhat ridiculous strutting animal. shouting and
fussing during a brief interlude between infinite silences. "Unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor,
bare, forked animal," says King Lear, and the idea drives
him to madness because it is unfamiliar. But to the
modern man the idea is familiar and drives him only to
Truth - In old days truth was absolute, eternal and
superhuman. Myself when young accepted this view
and devoted a misspent youth to the search for truth.
But a whole host of enemies have arisen to slay truth:
pragmatism, behaviourism, psychologism, relativityphysics. Galileo and the Inquisition disagreed as to
whether the earth went round the sun or the sun went
round the earth. Both agreed in thinking that there was
a great difference between these two opinions. Hie
point on which they agreed was the one on which they
were both mistaken: the difference is only one of words.
In old days it was possible to worship truth; indeed the
sincerity of the worship was demonstrated by the
practice of human sacrifice. But it is difficult to worship
a merely human and relative truth. The law of gravitation, according to Eddington, is only a convenient
convention of measurement. It is not truer than other
views, any more than the metric system is truer than
feet and yards.
Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night;
God said, "Let Newton be," and measurement was
This sentiment seems lacking in sublimity. When Spinoza believed anything, he considered that he was
enjoying the intellectual love of god. The modern man
believes either with Marx that he is swayed by economic
motives, or with Freud that some sexual motive underlies his belief in the exponential theorum or in the
distribution of fauna in the Red Sea. In neither case can
he enjoy Spinoza's exaltation.
So far we have been considering modern cynicism in
a rationalistic manner, as something that has intellectual causes. Belief, however, as modern psychologists
are never weary of telling us, is seldom determined by
rational motives, and the same is true of disbelief,
though sceptics often overlook this fact. The causes of
any widespread scepticism are likely to be sociological

Prairial (June) 11981

Page 13

rather than intellectual. The main cause always is

comfort without power. The holders of power are not
cynical, since they are able to enforce their ideas.
Victims of oppression are not cynical, since they are
filled with hate, and hate, like any other strong passion,
brings with it a train of attendant beliefs. Until the
advent of education, democracy, and mass production,
intellectuals had everywhere a considerable influence
upon the 'march of affairs, which was by no means
diminished if their heads were cut off. The modern
intellectual finds himself in a quite different situation. It
is by no means difficult for him to obtain a fat job and a
good income provided he is willing to sell his services to
the stupid rich either as propagandist or as Court jester.
The effect of mass production and elementary education is that stupidity is more firmly entrenched than at
any other time since the rise of civilization. When the
Czarist Government killed Lenin's brother, it did not turn
Lenin into a cynic, since hatred inspired a lifelong
activity in which he was finally successful. But in the
more solid countries of the West there is seldom such
potent cause for hatred, or such opportunity of spectacular revenge. The work of the intellectuals is ordered
and paid for by Governments or rich men, whose aims
probably seem absurd, if not pernicious, to the intellectuals concerned. But a dash of cynicism enables
them to adjust their consciences to the sitation. There
are, it is true, some activities in which wholly admirable
work is desired by the powers that be; the chief of these
is science, and the next is public architecture in America. But if a man's education has been literary, as is still
too often the case, he finds himself at the age of twentytwo with a considerable skill that he cannot exercise in
any manner that appears important to himself. Men of
science are not cynical even in the West, because they
can exercise their best brains with the full approval of
the community; but in this they are exceptionally
fortunate among modern intellctuals.
If this diagnosis is right, modern cynicism cannot be
cured merely by preaching, or by putting better ideals

before the young than those that their pastors and

masters fish out from the rusty armoury of outworn
superstitions. The cure will only come when intellectuals can find a career that embodies their creative
impulses. I do not see any prescription except the old
one advocated by Disraeli: "Educate our masters." But it
will have to be a more real education than is commonly
given at the present day to either proletarians or
plutocrats, and it will have to be an education taking
some account of real cultural values and not only of the
utilitarian desire to produce so many goods that nobody
has time to enjoy them. A man is not allowed to practise
medicine unless he knows something of the human
body, but a financier is allowed to operate freely without
any knowledge at all of the multifarious effects of his
activities, with the sole exception of the effect upon his
bank account. How pleasant a world would be in which
no man was allowed to operate on the Stock Exchange
unless he could pass an examination in economics and
Greek poetry, and in which politicians were obliged to
have a competent knowledge of history and modern
novels! Imagine a magnate confronted with the question: "If you were to make a corner in wheat, what effect
would this have upon German poetry?" Causation in the
modern world is more complex and remote in its
ramifications than it ever was before, owing to the
increase of larger organizations; but those who control
these organizations are ignorant men who do not know
the hundredth part ofthe consequences of their actions.
Rabelais published his book anonymously for fear of
losing his University post. A modern Rabelais would
never write the book, because he would be aware that
his anonymity would be penetrated by the perfected
methods of publicity. The rules of the world have always
been stupid, but have not in the past been so powerful
as they are now. It is therefore more important than it
used to be to find some way of securing thatthev shall
be intelligent. Is this problem insoluble? I do not think so,
but I should be the last to maintain that it is easy.



Fragile, fragile man,
A mere word shatters him,
A mere look crushes his soul.
Break not, break not, man!
As a delicate one,
A figure seeming sound,
Which breaks at a mere glance,
So all is broken.
If the bugle sounds
To start the reconstruction,
What can be done at all,
But to shed hot tears?

Page 14

It springs with bared fangs.

It ripples the gentle spring.
It soothes the small babe.

Speak not that dread wordl

Give not that horrid glancel
Save that delicate one,
Fragile, fragile man.
Robin Eileen Murray-O'Hair

Prairial (June) 11981

It bares yet hides much.

It moves surely, softly, fiercely,
It is but an art.
It is only speech,
Which murders and rescues one.
It is a savior.
Robin Eileen Murray-O'Hair

Austin, Texas




A writer, in most cases, feels

called upon to be somewhat of a
storyteller. When s/he takes pen
in hand and pours thoughts out on
paper, s/he performs the task of
relating ideas or concepts. It is
his/her obligation to present definitions, descriptions, and other
data in order to make the reader
aware of a particular sequence of
events or a collection of data in a
given field or pertaining to a particular topic. His/her work should
De all encompassing, easy to digest, and interesting to read.
Fiction is generally intended only to entertain and h3Cksthe overall
importance of specific non-fictional material. Threfore, when people
read non-fictional material of a
current nature they luite often
become perturbed because that
material may include implications
that could involve the reader himself. Many times the non-fictional
reader pictures himself as being a
character either included or affected by the article.
S/he may then follow one of
three different lines of thought: A)
S/he may see a need for greater
personal involvement in the topic
which has aroused interest; B)
S/he may simply not give a damn;
C)S/he may feel that the information transmitted is valid but may
not feel the necessity of direct
personal concern or commitment.
It is the latter group that can
scan the morning paper over a cup
of coffee and then lay its tragic
tales aside and go about their regular daily routines. They might
feel a momentary tinge of conscientiousness but-what the hellit's time to go to workl Perhaps .
they have reached a point of resolvedness whereby
they have
given up the idea of attempting to
improve things. Or-maybe
simply feel that improvements are


the 'propery' of others-either

individua~ly or in groups. At any rate,
intelligent people know that immense problems require immense
efforts for solution.
Current Atheist writers in America have been trying to emphasize
the massive socio-religious problems that abound in our nation.
Quite often their devoted effort '
goes to little or to no avail. You'
cannot imagine how discouraging
it is to be aware of tremendous
underlying problems and yet be
unable to 'move' the rather unconcerned readers.
I want to show you an example
of what I'm talking about. The
following is a verbatum letter which
was received at the American
Atheist Center recently. I have substituted names in order not to
criticize anyone personally. It is
the essence of the letter that I am
attacking, not the character of its
author. It is followed by a pertinent
article reported by the news media
exactly one month later. You be
the judge in deciding if the general
attitude expressed by the letter is
responsible for the events that
. were subsequenty reported in the
Feb. 18, '81
Dear Tom and Mary,
I received your letter and feel I
should express to you my true
feelings and why I did not make
plans to attend your recent Littlerock meeting. I have a marked
distaste for politics and have never
been actively associated with any
groups. I feel such activities are
important and necessary to our
society, but we can't all be out
. there on the streets picketing. My
first love is medicine and that is
where I intend to concentrate my
energies. Believe me, 'it is a full
time job, 7 days a week. I share
many beliefs with your and your

Prairial (June) 11981

AustiR, Texas


associates but have no desire to

become a card-bearing member of
your organization. I cannot serve
two armies. I have enjoyed reading
your publication and have followed your activities. I promote my
beliefs in my own way (such aseducating a Jehova Witness patient to accept a blood transfusion).
Your social invitation to the barbeque is warmly appreciated, but I
must decline your recruitment and
since this would seem to be a
political meeting in actuality I do
not plan to attend.
My battle
against irrationality lies along a
different path at this time. I hope
you can understand my position
on this matter and that we can
remain an island of hope for one
another in a world filled with primitive superstitions and dogmatic
Dr. Alberts
Littlerock, Ark.
"Dr. AI's" letter was handed to
me just a few days before I re~ived a photocoy of the following
Littlerock, Ark. (UPI) The House
Tuesday overwhelmingly made Arkansas the first state in the nation
to pass a bill
requiring public
schools to teach the theory that a
supreme being created man along
with the theory of evolutioa.
Lawmakers shouted down attempts to dilute the bill and passed .
. it 69-18. The measure, which applies to all public elementary and
secondary schools, already has
passed the Arkansas Senate and
now goes to Gov. Frank White.
'~he governor will sign the bill. ",

Page 16


Ignatz Sahula- Dycke

Way back in the early twenties
when the post-war ideas of the
century's new generations were
being shaped by Watson, and his
interpretation of Pavlov Behaviorism, and young Dewey's developing Darwinian
the heated clash between the emerging permissiveness and theism's
traditional outlook produced an
atmosphere which, taken at face
value, modified
mass thinking
throughout the rest of the century's initial half. The educational
contingent tried, in self-defense,
but too late, to point out how its
particular thinking, if followed,
could well placate the intellectual
revolt that already, well before the
thirties, threatened to revolutionize
established beliefs and comportment. .
All this was happening to some
extent accelerated by the people's
existing disapproval of Prohibition.
Resentment of the Volstead Act
signified how strong was the country's desire to be rid of the cares
that burdened everyone during the
war that ended in victory in 1918.
In our rejoicing over having "won
the war for democracy" we completely ignored whatever sympathy
we still retained for the common
people of our defeated opponents .'
. The indemnities we demanded from
them reflected how poorly the
"Christien ethic" penetrated the
armor of our ethos, not to mention
how shamefully and hypocritically
that ethic had been serving us.
Our exorbitant demands produced
the worst inflationary
Europe ever experienced, culminating here in the US in the "Great
Depression" of 1929.
None of these mistakes
blights fitted into the pigeonholes
in which such dire events are to be
filed and forgotten. These calamities against which so many people believed their god safeguarded

Plge 16

them, in one short year made more

Atheists out of believers than anything that transpired in the previous two centuries. This situation
represented an interesting problem to the clerics, teachers, economists, and other professionals, a
problem whose pressing need of
solution presently set these experts off on a quest which for the
most part has kept all of them
occupied to this day. It now seems
that in their search they haven't
yet discovered they're trying to fit a
square peg into a round hole.
Aside from those who found a
solution for this predicament in
Atheism, the die-hard clerics of
the old guard are conducting the
quest divided into three separate
factions. The first group hangs its
hopes on a variety of weak-kneed
explanations that here and there
sound plausible enough to have
staved off re1igion's utter collapse.
The second faction has virtually
given up christianity's traditional
dogmatism and is attempting to
reconstruct, out of the religious
mishmash, a more or less rationally oriented faith or religion which,
although it paraphrases agnosticism, aims to create addicts slated
to remain submissive and loyal to
a hierarchy of. clerics who'd function as a think-tank from which
will flow the pseudo-metaphysical
or supernatural elixir conducive to
psychic or intellective satisfaction
of those whom this approach is
aimed to federate.
The third faction consists of the
preachers who operate on the basis
of an appeal which,
c\aiming that it is fundamentally
biblistic, is free to say and promise
to its listeners, anything at all that
will move them to support it financially; and because the appeal is
disseminated via radio, television,
and the public prints, it reaches
the many millions among whom

Prairia! (June) 11981

exist sufficient numbers of susceptible people and believers to

make this third faction financially
and propagandistically successful.
It currently calls itself the MORAL
MAJORITY, although
CLAMORITY would be more to the
It's not only proper here, but
important, to make clear that the
founders of our USA were fully
aware of their motivations and
actions when they wrote the Declaration of Independence and our
US Constitution. They were hopefully chartering a nation free from
the interference of superstitious
fantasies, where life would be happier; self-expression affirmed, and
individual freedom protected better than anywhere else on the
globe. They in that day already
knew, and by dint of observation
were convinced, that the governments of then-existing
were failing their people mainly
because believing artful clerical
tales about nations needing a god
and an entire coterie of saints for
guidance and trustworthy protection. Our founders realized that
every such tale was nothing but as
pretty a lie as was ever told. And
thus the citizenry of the
American nation found out that all
religion obstructs self-government.
Without our Constitution for protection you and I would only have
what any unevident god amounts
to: precisely Zero. Blending government and religion spells CATASTROPHE.
Noteworthy, and threatening, about this challengingly perplexing
situation is that although numerous highly perspicacious American minds have concentrated up-

Austin, Texas

on its possible solution, they failed

primarily because ignoring
basic fact that no government yet
succeeded by serving two masters: namely, a god of words dictated by clerics benton tyrannizing
their fellowmen; and at one and
the same time defending and protecting a Constitution supporting
individual freedom. This is not to
say that personal liberty dispenses
with duty; hitched to irresponsibility it turns into abandon, and
loses its status as a privilege.
Nor is censure intended here for
anyone who, cherising an ideal
that inspires him, holds to it if fully
aware of the folly of imposing a
concept so personal on anyone
else - especially were such a
concept conducive to its possessor's respect for his fellow-men's
prerogatives. But concepts such
as are being peddled by evangelists of institutionally organized religions are by virtue of their origin
only substitutes for ideals generated spontaneously by the person-

ally unique forces active within

any intelligence-directed
organism such as man. Dogmatic religions tell us that man was given
the will enabling him to adapt
himself to natural forces which
wiped out creatures that were larger, stronger, and more predatory
than he. I can't help but disagree
because I see in Nature various
forces that, like it or not, have first
of all not only dynamized us into
consciousness, but throughout
millions of years CONSTRAINED
us to become the creatures we are
today. I, for one, refuse to jolly
myself into believing that I made
myself into the person I am. Heredity, circumstances, and necessity
did it. We are all of us sibs, subject
to the whims of our Mother Nature
- hers to do with what she may:
the only power we're unable to
Nature is never selective in her
periodical destructiveness,
when benignantly disposed is always impartiaL. When she des-

troys it's only to re-establish a

balance between her parts. To our
best knowledge there is no purpose, plan, or order in her comportment - ony unpredictable flux.
I'm moved to say that were a film
recording everything that transpired in Nature during the past
billion years condensed to an 8hour documentary, any reviewer
would call Mom Nature's behavior
both anarchic and chaotic. We humans call her orderly because our
lives span but a moment of eternity - in our lifetimes of threescore and ten we see only one
frame of the countless thousands
in the whole reel.
I see nothing around me to substantiate the religious claim that
we humans are "nobler"
"mere" animals. Aware that religion for the most part forbids man
to think beyond certain limits, I
prefer being a person whom American Atheism permits to range
wherever the footprints of Truth
mark the dust of Nature's earth.

said press aide Barbara Pardue.
Arkansas became the first state
in the country to pass such a bill in.
both houses of the Legislature. An
opponent of the bill said similar
measures have failed in 14 others
The creationism bill does not
require a given text book or class
lectureto present a balanced view.
But an entire class - biology,
chemistry or any
other dealing with the history of
man - would have to present
'balanced treatment to creationscience and evolutionscience.'
Once signed, the bill would be
effective in the fall of 1982.
Well, there you are, dear readers.
What direction will the education
of young Arkansans take now?
Will it be improved by the addition
of superstition into the public classrooms? Is it just coincidence that
Arkansas, the state where military
forces were required to support
equal educational .opportunities
for Black youngsters, is now trying

Austin, Texas

to stifle scientinc education all

together? Who is responsible? Is it
a failureto communicate by American Atheist writers who
pounded typewriters til their fingers are bloody? Is it the fault of
pompous unconcerned citizens in
Arkansas and other states? Is anyone in America concerned-or are
there too many 'Dr. Als' in this
nation that now seems to be spiraling back into the darkness of
medieval religious conformity? Are
you content to sit and allow superstitious fanatics to play with the
inquisitive minds of young people
who deserve to be enlightened by
the accumulated knowledge of the
great minds of the twentieth century?
Perhaps some of you may think
that we are all just playing some
kind of ironic game ... a psychological jousting contest. Maybe
some of you are content to only be
'chesspieces' in the 'game.' If so,
be advised-the handwriting ts on
the wall. You have a choice to

Prairial (June) 11981

adamantly seeking
cure for ignorance now or quietly
allowing it to spread like cancer.
Dr. AI's medical practice is ultimately in more danger of having
the Jehova
Witnesses prohibit
blood tranfusions than he is in
getting them to accept them. He I
would have been burned for witchcraft at another time. Does 'he
think that such neurotic practices
have faded from humanity? Read
the newspapersJ You'll find ignorance just as prevalent today as .
ever. We even have a trembling
ghost-worshiper in the White House.

Page 17




Hello there, this is Madalyn Murray O'Hair. American
religious belief and to the promotion of tribal unity, one
Atheist, back to talk with you again.
biblical quotation is sufficient.
The fifth commandment is the subject of discussion
We see this in Deuteronomy, Chapter 13, verses 6 to
today, 'and I rely on the ideas and remarks of Joseph
Lewis, recent American Atheist author, in his well6. If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy
researched volume titled The Ten Commandments.
son, or thy dauqhter, or thewife of thy bosom, or
This commandment, again usi'ng the Protestant verthy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice
sion since the Roman Catholic is found in the fourth
thee secretly, saying Let us go and serve other
commandment, is:gods
which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy
"Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days
may be long upon the land which the Lord thy
7. Namely, of the gods of the people which are
God giveth thee."
round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from
found in Exodus, Chapter 20, verse 12 and Deuterthee, from the one end of the earth even unto
onomy, Chapter 5, verse 16.
the other end of the earth.
Mr. Lewis points out that the fifth' commandment
I might interrupt here to note that once again in the
does riot say love thy father and mother, but rather it bible, Moses in interpreting god's rules, gives full and
says honor thy father andthv mother.
ample evidence that god knew there were other gods.
The provisions of this commandment bear a dose
Tris is a sy~tem. of polytheism and the claims of the
relationship to those of the second commandment in " JddClic-Christian religion that it established a system of
which the Hebrew deity threatens to punish "unto the
monotheism is entirely specious. Throughout the bible,
third and fourth generation" the children of those including the new testament, the repeated themes of
parents who "serve other gods" in violation of the
other gods is there. Indeed, the new testament speaks
injunction to "have no other gods before rne.',AThe constantly of the three gods of the 'trinity'. But to get
"honor" demanded in this commandment was the strict
back to this quote from Deuteronomy conformity of the child to the religion of the parent.
'God, through Moses, admonishes that if anY1Tlember
To the biblical Jew, the land upon which he lived and . of the tribe seeks to entice another member to serve one
from which he derived subsistence was the most pre- of these other gods something should follow. I read now
ciousthing in the world and could therefore only be a what Should follow, as a rule from god:
gift from the god he worshiped. To retainthis posses8. Thou shall not consent unto him, nor hearksion, nothing must be done to arouse the anger of this
en unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him,
jealous deity, and therefore children were warned to
neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou
honor their parents by imitating them in the observance
conceal him.
of what god called "my statutes and my command-9.
But thou shalt surelv kill him; thine hand
shall be first upon him to put him to death, and
The words "land which the Lord thy God giveth thee"
afterward the hand of ali the people.
had deep significance for the Hebrew because their land
10. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that
was the bindihg tie between them and their god. To be
he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee
removed form their homeland meant to be deserted by
away from the lord thy god,which brought thee
their god. The bible is replete with many such reout of the land of Egypt. from the house of
ferences of their concern lest some act should provoke
the loss of this valuable bequest to them.
11. And all Isarel shall hear, and fear, and shall
It is' instructive that the lord god said in Leviticus,
do no more any such wickedness as this is
Chapter 19, verse 3:
among you.
"Ye shall fear every man his mother and his
The import of this quotation lies in the fact that
father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the Lord your
adhering to the belief in the god of the parents was the
most important duty of the child. For merely trying to
There are constant close associations of the fear of entice someone away from that belief, the punishment
parents with the fear of god. To show that the honoring
should be death.
of one's parents meant conformity to the strict tribal
In Ephesians, Chapter 6, verses 1 to 3, we see this

Page 18.

Prairial (June) 11981

Austin. Texas


thought carried over to the new testament:

him back in to the family. Here we have two women, one
1. Children,obey your parents in the Lord: for
age' 73 and one age 82 - between them they had 150
years of life experience, education, sophistication this is right.
2. Honour thy father and mother; which is the
yet, when their children married outside of the faith,
first commandment with promise;
neither one could accept it. Incidentally, the 'children:
3. That it may be well with thee, and thou
my husband and myself, were ages 46 and 52 when we
mayest live long on the earth.
were married, so we were not exactly children. None of
If they don't honor the parents, in the parents' belief of this mattered. We were not "honouring our parents" by
god theycan be killed -they live long only to conformremaining in the same faith in which they had reared us.
so this is a threat. To honour one's parents meant also to
The bible called upon a compelling of the children. In
guard the purity of the seed of the tribe. The lord god Deuteronomy, Chapter 11, verses 26 to 28, we see this:
himself threatened them with deprivation of their land if
26. Behold, I set before you this day a blessing
and a curse;
they gave away any of their "seed," which meant the
male sperm. We find this in Leviticus, Chapter 20,
27. A blessing, if ye obey the commandments
verses 1 and 2.
of the Lord your God, which I command you this
1. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2. Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel,
28. A curse, if ye will not obey the commandwhosoever he be of the children of Israel, that
ments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of
giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall be
the way which I command you this day, to go
after other gods, which ye have not known.
surely put to death; the people of the land shall
stone him with stones.
The constant repetition of 'a curse to be inflicted for
Molech, of course, was the god who ruled over other disobeying this commandment and blessing to be contribes.
ferred for obedience, emphasized the necessity of con- .
To fanatically religious parents, the greatest disgrace, forming to its edicts. Its place in thedecalogue has no
the deepest humiliation a child could possibly inflict. is relationship whatever to the modern understanding of
to marry a person of a different religious faith. To many filial devotion, respect and affection. The "honour" to
this is a crime of such enormity that there is no parents demanded in this commandment was for the
forgiveness. According to the bible, it constitutes a sale purpose of maintaining the solidarity of the tribe
violation of this commandment because the child "hath
and the continuous "blessing" of the bible god on all the
cursed his father or his mother" and committed "whoreJews who remain steadfast to his laws and statutes,
and to his worship.
dom with Molech."
This so-called act of dishonor has caused untold
There still exists a strong conviction among the Jews
misery in the world. It has aroused the most violent
that a father possesses' a mystic power through his
bitterness and hatred. It has broken up homes and blessings or curses. Much of this came from the idea
that parents were "vice-regents of God.';
estranged families.
Let me quote directly from Joseph Lewis here:
Children are at the complete mercy otthe parents in
"I have seen a Roman Catholic mother weep as respect to early training, particularly religious training.
though her heart would break because her son was to Today, beating children as a punishment is still conmarry a girl of the Protestant faith and the marriage
sidered a parent's inalienable right. The law will interceremony was to be performed in a Protestant church. I fere only if the chastisement becomes too brutal.
have seen a Protestant family disown and disinherit a
An associate professor in the Union Theological
son because he married a Catholic girl and the cereSeminary of New York honestly said, "To what extent
mony was performed by a priest. I have known orthodox
can we apply a Commandment, devised for tribesmen
Hebrew parents to mourn as dead a child who married
among whom sons and daughters grew up to follow the
outside of their faith."
callings and repeat almost exactly the careers of their
I can add something to the matters which Joseph
ancestors, to conditions where the lives of children are
Lewis has seen. When I married Richard F. O'Hair. the so totally unlike those in which their parents were
news services carried a story that he was a Roman .reared?"
Catholic, which incidentally is not true. When my
In contrast to the hatred and bigotry caused and
mother heard this on television - as a good Lutheranintensified by the bible and its religious system, Mr.
she had to disown me. She completely repudiated me Lewis quotes the Atheist Robert Ingersoll on parental
and refused to accept Richard's personal assurance to affection.
"When your child commits a wrong, take it in
her that he was not a Roman Catholic. She felt that all of
the "news services" could not be that wrong. We were
your arms; let it feel your heart beat against its
never reconciled so bitter was she, as a good Lutheran,
heart; let the child know that you really and truly
against the Roman Catholic Church. The matter did not
and sincerely love it. Yet, some Christians, good
cease there. Richard's mother is a Quaker. When he
Christians, when a child commits a fault, drive it
married me, an Atheist who was known as such, she
from the door and say: 'Never do you darken this
completely repudiated Richard and has as yet not taken
house again.' Think of that! And then these

Austin, Texas

Prairial (June) 11981

Page 19

same people will get down on their knees and

ask god to take care of the child they have driven
from home. I will never ask god to take care of
my children unless I am doing my level best in
that same direction. Call me Atheist, call me
infidel, call me what you will, I intend so to treat
my children that they can come to my grave and
truthfully say: 'He who sleeps here never gave
us a moment of pain. From his lips, now dust
never came to us an unkind word.'''
Honor is not a term of endearment. It is a form of
tribute. Love and affection are the binding attachments
of family life. Honor is an attribute exhibited as a public
recognition for deeds and accomplishments which keep
the body politic together - in biblical times, in keeping
the tribe intact.
The love and affection in family life is just as strong

and just as fervent among human beings who never

heard of this commandment as it is among those who,
parrot-like, call it a 'divine revelation.' The love attachment exhibited in the animal and bird families is in many
respects equal, and often superior, to that manifested by
members of the human family.
The sons and daughters of Israel have 'honored' their
parents as provided by this commandment
but the
Hebrew god has not kept faith with them. Their days
have not been prolonged 'upon the land' of their fathers;
they are scattered over the face of the earth. The
promise of their god was not fulfilled. The Jewish people
themselves are the best example of the falsity of this
commandment and the failure of their god.
And that is the opinion of Joseph Lewis, himself a
Jew, on the fifth commandment. Next week, we will see
what he has to say about the sixth commandment also.







Charge Card No.

Bank No. or C<Y.IeLetters


Gay Atheists Leaque of America

P.O. Box 14142
San Francisco, CA 94114
Membership: $15.00/year
($1O.OO/year for students
and senior citizens)
Send to the same address for
subscriptions to the GALA R.eview: subscriptions $10.00/year;
in Canada and
PUAS; elsewhere $12.50.

Expiration Date of Card


Beginning Date:




To Buv or Sell Real Estate

in the Foothills of the
Los Anqeles Area
Contact an All-American


Spencer D. Blackwelder. Realtor


Blackwelder Realtv
22722 Foothill Boulevard


Los AnQeles. CA


Page 20

Prairial (June) 11981

91 214




PRAIRIAL (JUNE), 20-'21, 11981

For "Directions" call Lloyd or
Pam Thoren at(812)3.54~66_0a_





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CAUTION: Many Atheists speak with enthusiasm concerned with

Thomas Paine and cite him as an outstanding Atheist. Thomas
Paine was a Deist. In 'a letter, wrtitten to Samuel Adams, he states that he wrote The
Age of Reason to combat Atheism. "The people of France were running headlong into
Atheism, and I had the work translated in their own language, to stop them in that
career, and fix them to the first article of every man's creed who has any creed at all
and that first article should be - I believe in' God." So take Paine as a Deist, only, a
position which was (an,d is) precursor to Atheism. But, do not cite him as an Atheist.