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is a non-profit, non-political, educational organization, dedicated to the complete and absolute separation of
state and church. We accept the explanation of Thomas Jefferson that the "First Amendment"
to the
Constitution of the United States was meant to create a "wall of separation" between state and church.
American Atheists are organized to stimulate and promote freedom of thought and inquiry concerning
religious beliefs, creeds, dogmas, tenets, rituals and practices;
to collect and disseminate information, data and literature on all religions and promote a more thorough
of them, their origins and histories;
to encourage the development and public acceptance of a human ethical system, stressing the mutual
sympathy, understanding
and interdependence
of all people and the corresponding
responsibility of each
individual in relation to society;
to develop and propagate a culture in which man is the central figure who alone must be the source of
strength, progress and ideals for the well-being and happiness of humanity;
to promote the study of the arts and sciences and of all problems affecting the maintenance,
perpetuation and enrichment of human (and other) life;
to engage in such social, educational, legal and cultural activity as will be useful and beneficial to
members of American Atheists and to society as a whole.
Atheism may be defined as the mental attitude which unreservedly accepts the supremacy of reason and
aims at establishing a lifestyle and ethical outlook verifiable by experience
and the scientific method,
independent of all arbitrary assumptions of authority and creeds.
Materialism declares that the cosmos is devoid of immanent conscious purpose; that it is governed by its own
inherent, immutable and impersonal laws; that there is no supernatural interference in human life; that man finding his resources within himself - can and must create his own destiny. Materialism restores to man his
dignity and his intellectual integrity. It teaches that we must prize our life on earth and strive always to improve
it. It holds that man is capable of creating a social system based on reason and justice. Materialism's "faith" is in
man and man's ability to transform the world culture by his own efforts. This is a commitment which is in very
essence life asserting. It considers the struggle for progress as a moral obligation and impossible without noble
ideas that inspire man to bold creative works. Materialism holds that humankind's potential for good and for an
outreach to more fulfilling cultural development is, for all practical purposes, unlimited.

American Atheist Membership
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Sustaining membership
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Individual membership
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'.. $40.00/year

*I.D. required
All membership categories receive our monthly "Insider's Newsletter," membership card(s), a
subscription to American Atheist magazi ne for the duration of the membersh ip period, plus additional
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American Atheists - P.O. Box 2117 - Austin, TX 78768-2117

Vol. 26, No.7

July, 1984

Ask A.A
The Atheist Next Door
Roots of Atheism
Historical Notes
American Atheist Radio Series




Atheist Masters
Letters to the Editor

Sexual Mutilations and Islam - Soledad de Montalvo-Mielche
Gurus and Genes - Todd R. Grace
In Search of a Story - Mike Kennedy
Did Human Gods Evolve from Ape-Gods? - Brian Lynch
That's Entertainment - Steve Penney


Lions: 35; "Christians''?; 0 - Gerald Tholen
I Am God - Margaret Bhatty
\ ............................
Robin Murrav-O'Hair
Editor Emeritus
Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Managing Editor
Jon G. Murray
Assistant Editor
Gerald Tholen
Angeline Bennett
Gerald Tholen
Production Staff
Alexander Stevens
Richard M. Smith
Gloria Tholen
Non-Resident Staff
G. Stanley Brown
Jeff Frankel
Merrill Holste
Margaret Bhatty
Fred Woodworth
Cover Art
Jeff Greenberg

The American Atheist magazine is published monthly by the

American Atheist Press (an affiliate of American Atheists), 2210
Hancock Dr., Austin, TX 7875625%, and e 1984 by Society of
Separationists, Inc., a non-profit, non-political, educational organization dedicated to the complete and absolute separation of state
and church. (All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part
without written permission is prohibited). Mailing address:
P.O. Box 2117/Austin, TX 78768-2117. Subscription is provided as
an incident of membership in the organization of American
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terms only. (Frequency monthly. Library and institutional discount:
50%.) Manuscripts submitted must be typed, double-spaced and
accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. A copy of
American Atheist Magazine Writers Guidelines is available on
request. The editors assume no responsibility for unsolicited
The American Atheist magazine
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ISSN: 0332-4310

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Send us
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On The Cover
The Summer Solstice (Winter
Solstice south of the Equator) has
passed. Yet, the natural "magic" of
the season is yet' fully with us.
Perhaps it would be well for us to
consider the relatively slow passage
of the days and of time. If it were not
for the fact that Nature moves in a
timely manner, many of the events
that we ordinarily take for granted
would not occur at all.
The fruits of Summer take months
to develop, and the scenes of Winter
would would be but a momentary fit
of disagreeable humidity if not given
time to chill the environmental
Very fortunate indeed are the
folks who have learned to be seasonably patient: to endure, and to enjoy
the best that each season has to
It occurs to me that, on an average, each of us has only about 300
seasons to enjoy in a lifetime. I
shudder a bit when I realize that I've
already "used up" 220 of mine! It also
is slightly discomforting to note that
they seem to be now passing at an
accelerated pace. So, I've learned
that it is not at all wise to try to "hurry
time" along. I willenjoy every minute
of Summer - no matter whether it's
bit "too warm" now and then. I will
also enjoy the melons and the other
fruits that my local Summer allows
- the same as I did every cold or
overcast day of the Winter just past.
After all, we are simply products of
Nature, just as much as are the other
natural products and/or events at
hand, and in a continuing way.
Savor the seasons for as long as
they last. Appreciate that they are all
too brief.

G. Tholen

Mail to: American Atheists/F. O. Box 2117/ Austin, TX 78768-2117

Austin, Texas

July, 1984

Page 1



Garth Murray


erry Falwell is a name that has become all too familiar to

Americans over the past several years. Many of you, our
readers, send us clipping after clipping of his exploits in various
sections of the country. Many of you have grown to hate him as a
figurehead representing everything bad that you have personally
found in religion, all rolled up in one man. He is, at the very least, a
very opinionated person. He wishes for the entire nation to "do
things" his way. Iguess, however, that there is a little of that same type
of wishful thinking in all of us. It would be nice to have the world follow
your lead: Damn flattering if nothing else.
As Atheists we are realists and we therefore know that individual
autonomy to the greatest extent logistically possible is the best
formula for a happy society. As the population rises it willget harder
and harder to keep our own little circle of freedom around us and
perhaps the circle willneed to get a little smaller, but we willadapt and
lifewillgo on. The human community has suffered through too many
conflicts to allow a single person to expand his circle of personal
preference on any subject too far. The world's dictators have found
that out, and so willMr. Falwell.
Many of you have been quite anxious to see a representative of the
national American Atheist Center and Jerry Falwell "square off." Mr.
Falwell has refused to meet an American Atheists representative in
the past on numerous occasions. Well, on May 21st, 1984 in a TV
studio in St. Louis, Missouri, I shared a half-hour program taping
session with Jerry Falwell. It was aired on May 25th, locally, in St.
When the station first contacted our office in Austin, it said that
there had been an article written by Arlene and Howard Eisenberg in
the April 24th issue of Woman's Day magazine entitled "We Found
God Again." The thesis of the article is that America is undergoing a
new religious revival, with families who had drifted away from a
particular church (in the words of one couple, having "acquired a new
religion: materialism") now returning to religion "out of conscious
choice." The article started out with some "statistics" according to
born-again Gallup. The author claimed that "seven out of ten
Americans are church or synagogue members." She also claimed
that Gallup had found that "on a typical weekend more than half of
these believers are in houses of worship." The "statistics" were
followed by examples of three families, one protestant, one jewish,
and one catholic. The St. Louis station wanted someone to argue with
this article under the program topic heading of "Finding God Again."
One of the show producers at first tried to get a representative of
the St. Louis archdiocese of the catholic church to be an opponent for
me, but none were willing. You see, Atheists cannot go on the
commercial airways alone in America. This is a well-known fact. If an
Atheist should go on, without at least hostile christian callers, and talk
openly and uninterrupted on a commercial radio or TV station, the
government of the United States would collapse and the communists
would take over that same day. This is a very well-known fact. So,
operating from that standpoint, as stations always do, theproducers
looked elsewhere for an opponent for me. They called back in time
and said that they had contacted Jerry Falwell and that he had agreed
to meet me in debate. That was odd indeed.
My immediate reaction was, "They must have something up their
sleeve." I was right as usual.
The producer with whom I had been dealing said that the format of
the show would be a phone call from this Eisenberg of Woman s Day

Page 2

July, 1984

fame to present "facts" about her article before we got to the
"emotional" part of the program between Falwell and myself. That
alone was enough to turn me off. The insinuation that Atheism was an
"emotional" thing that one can "grow out of' is ever present. The
station paid my airfare and I flew up to St. Louis and stayed the night
before the morning taping. When I got to the studio that next day, I
was just in time to see Mr. Falwell on the show in question live that
day, by himself with the host, the audience and phone calls. I watched
about the last fifteen minutes of the show in a staging area along with
our former St. Louis Chapter Director Richard Richardson. The
female host was just as sweet to little old "Dr." Falwell as the
proverbial southern belle down on the plantation. She simply fawned
over him in the most dripping way. He was "Dr." Falwell and had to be
shown much respect, had to be treated with much dignity and
decorum. After all, he was a "reverend." The studio audience of not
more than 50 persons were 90%female. They always are. They simply
loved "sweet little old loveable Jerry." It was all very "kissy kissy." Mr.
Falwell'sfive body guards took up the back row on one side. You
could have spotted them for "muscle men" a mile off.

"Only after (the TV show host) had given Mr.

Falwell one half hour of air time, allowing him
to ramble on with long monologues on his
positions on various issues and how wonderful
his family was, did they take a twenty-minute
break and let the Atheist in."
Only after they had given Mr. Falwell one half hour of air time,
allowing him to ramble on with great monologues on his positions on
various issues and how wonderful his family was, did they take a
twenty-minute break and let the Atheist in. I felt like they should have
been playing "send in the beasts to the slaughter" when I came into
the studio. Suddenly the atmosphere changed. It wasn't "kissy kissy"
anymore. One of the directors had to ask the audience to give me
some canned applause. All Falwell had to do to get "little old lady"
applause was just simply to appear again from behind the curtain.
I had flown in on regular commercial flights. He had arrived that
morning in his personal executive jet. He had been whisked from a
The American Atheist

private airfield in a limousine. Richard Richardson and I had come

from the hotel in a cab. As I sat there next to him on a bench while
they "rniked" us both, something suddenly hit me. (No, not the urge
to strangle him, although I admit I was tempted.) He was there for
another in a series of "photo opportunities" such as his good buddy
Reagan has. The reporters cannot ask any serious or pressing
questions of the president at one of these "opportunities" since his
staff knows that he doesn't know the answers to any of them, or the
right answers I should say, so they just get to take pictures. Falwell
kept a stage grin bigger than the one on the Cheshire cat. If the host
had asked me to pick door number one, two, or three at that point, I
would not have been the least surprised. It was a typical game show
The entire show centered around Jerry's desire that I come to
jesuchrist. The only thing he would say is that he thought Atheism
was OK as long as the Atheist eventually discovered how foolish he
was and came to his sweet jesuchrist. He patronized me from one end
of the show to the other with his "well, little boy, you'll get over it"
attitude on Atheism. The very biased hostess commentator and the
hostile audience comported themselves in such a way as to make me
feel like a leper on display.
When Falwell made his grand entrance (only minus the bugles) he
stopped in front of the stage and put out his hand toward me. I said,
"I'm sorry, I don't shake hands with ministers." I explained they
represented to me the cumulative human misery they nave caused.
This was off camera. At that point the entire audience let out one
simultaneous groan that started in the front and wen't to the back like
a wave. They had never seen anyone refuse to shake hands with a
clergyman before. One woman in the front row said audibly, "I knew I
was not going to like him," referring to me. At least a fullminute of the
show was taken up with why I would not shake hands with Falwell.
Not one word was uttered in the entire show about the arms race,
abortion, school prayer, equal access, tuition tax credits, or religious
statistics, which is what I had thought the show was all about, and for
which I had prepared. It was about "entertainment" with a capital E,
as usual. There was no substance at all. Mr. Falwell did not even argue
with me when I said that jesuchrist was not a historical figure.
One of the first questions from the audience was from Richard
Richardson. He asked Falwell if he could prove either his god or his
"faith," scientifically.
Falwell's retort was to call Richard a "plant" in the audience. He
called attention to the fact that he had come in with me. Now, of
course, the fact that the entire audience was a "plant" for Falwell,
having just sat through a show listening to his almost uninterrupted
monologues, was not considered. The hostess actually apologized for
Richard Richardson's presence in the audience lest the religious
community in St. Louis should become incensed.
I had another "revelation" (I bet you didn't know Atheists had
those, did you? Learn one new thing each day.) during this brief
encounter of the same kind. It was that Falwell gets the treatment that
he gets from the media and the audiences because he is rich. Rich
people get deference, even rich people with which you disagree. He is
respected because he represents 6 million religious fanatics (according to his alleged claims), and he has 60 million dollars a year
income from them. If I had arrived as a millionaire in my executive jet
with my body guards and limo, representing 6 million Atheists who
supported my organization with $60 million a year, I would have
received the double coverage while he sat in the staging area. The
adage is true that "money talks and bullshit walks." It was the money
that gave him the advantage, not what he had to say, which was trivial
and mundane. A similar experience had met me in Memphis,
Tennessee a month earlier. I had come to a Memphis station to do a
show, and just as I was arriving Kristi Hefner was pulling out in her
limo. She had been there to promote the new "Playboy Channel" on
cable TV there in Memphis. The studio people, the camera people,
the hostess, all fawned over her, just as with Falwell- despite the fact
that they were all religious and all "hated" porno. If you asked them
why they fell down in the path of Hefner's daughter to worship her, it
was because she was rich. When Iappeared on the scene, the hostess
Austin, Texas

and all concerned turned ugly. Although Ms. Hefner represented

pornography, they could not say enough nice things about her
because she was rich. Wealth cures all in America. People know that
ifyou are rich, you must have had to "toe the line" with respect to the
established order at some point in order to get rich and stay rich.
It is a sobering thought indeed when one realizes that they live in a
culture that does not allow dissent. I know that any time that I appear
in a public forum for Atheism with anyone in any medium, not one
person in the audience will agree with anything I say on any topic,
while everything the religious opposition says will not only be
accepted but cheered. The ecology people, the Women's Lib people,
the Black Lib people, even the pro-abortion people, will find some
agreement on some of their issues out in the great sea of humanity.
The Atheist will find no agreement. Zero. We speak against a stone
This is by and large because we are thousands of years ahead of the
crowd. We represent a lifestyle to which the "average American" will
not be able to adapt for many many generations to come. People are
just not ready for complete freedom of the mind. It scares the
daylights out of them.
So, I finally appeared with the great Jerry Falwell. I'm not
impressed. He has come and he willgo with the rest of his ilk and the
world willgo on. I came to the station in St. Louis loaded for bear, and
all I met was a squirrel. I came to have an intellectual confrontation,
and he could not rise above trivia. So long as his belief system has a
hold on the majority, by force of arms he is unbeatable. When it
comes down to free choice with the facts on the table, Atheism has all
the answers.
We are only at the very beginning stages of a long mental evolution
that willtake thousands of years yet to "deprogram" the world from
religion. The reversal of thousands of years of religious mental
evolution has begun and it willjust take time. Future generations will
look back and say, "You mean people back then really argued about a
god? How silly."
Deep inside Jerry knows that. He knows that he had better let the
good times roll now, because each generation is going to be harder
and harder to capture as time goes on. Even if prayer went back into
school tomorrow, along with equal access to boot, if you gave a little
fifth-grader the choice between listening to a sermon and playing with
a computer, which would he choose? Falwell has to cope with that. I
don't; because I am represented by that computer.
I willgo on with Mr. Falwell again if asked, but frankly I think it is a
waste of time. I am not going to change anyone's mind in a hostile,
adversary, setting. Atheists are going to be, by and large, self made as
they always have been. One after another individual willfigure his/her
own way out of religion. As time goes on they are privy to the
information explosion. This, plus science and education, are bound 'to
start them thinking, and American Atheists are right in there, helping
as we can, even against the insuperable odds now in our culture.

A second generation Atheist, Mr. Murray has been the

Director of the American Atheist Center for 8 year-s
and is also the Managing Editor of the American Atheist.
He advocates aggressive Atheism.

July, 1984

Page 3


Dear AA:
About once each year I see a report
published somewhere to the effect that
"once again, the holy bible is the year's best
seller." I wonder why American Atheists has
never challenged the obvious deception
inherent in that ridiculous claim.
It's true that millions of copies of that
disgusting book are printed every year, but
precious few are ever purchased by individuals. Most of them are bought by large
organizations like the Gideon Society and
various christian ministries to be handed out
free of charge to anyone who willtake them.
I personally have fifteen bibles and have
never paid for one.
I have written several letters to various
newspapers pointing out the misleading
aspects of this outlandish claim and I would
like to see some type of national publicity on
the matter.
Joe Shanahan
Dear Joe:
Religionists, particularly those in the bible
business, refuse to giue any real statistics
about the sales. American Atheists has a
room full of bibles and neuer purchased
any. We agree with you.
What is euen worse, with all that bible
distribution, no one reads the damn thing
The religionists lie. And they lie. And they
If you can get any actual figures as to how
many are purchased by what groups,
where and when, and how many are indiuidually purchased by persons walking
into book stores, we willpublish the same in
this magazine. We will also put that information in news releases in a continuing way
and place it on our radio and teleuision
forum programs.

Page 4

Dear AA:
Has any Atheist written a psychological
review of that great piece of fiction called the
bible? It seems to me that would be the most
logical approach.
In the very beginning of the book women
are degraded in a way that would make any
female feel guilty or have a guilt complex for
her entire life, assuming she were to believe
such nonsense.
The book also contains a lot of violence.
Those are just two examples of how
ridiculous the book actually is.
The book was obviously written by people who not only hated women but who
must also disliked normal human beings
who are more interested in happy, healthy
lives, rather than the violence, death and
destruction, which seems to be the main
theme of the book.
Iam sure ifsome intelligent, logical person
took the time and effort, they could expose
the book called the bible for what it is superstitious nonsense. That would apply to
any form of so-called "religion" as far as I'm
David G. Simpson
New Jersey
Dear David:
From time to time we have had psychologists write concerning different aspects of
religion. However, the necessary analysis of
the bible has not really been made. Fragmental portions of the bible haue been
criticized and when those in respect to
underlying psychological precepts are sent
to American Atheists, we print them.
All we can ask is, "Is there anybody out
there who wants to undertake this?" If so,
get to us.

Dear AA:
I had previously written .to you for brochures on your organization and have found
them very interesting and enlightening. I
have considered a membership, but one
thing has stopped me. You mention many
great Atheists and their accomplishments,
but never have I seen anything on Ayn Rand
who, although she called herself an objectivist, was also an Atheist. I am a great
admirer of her, and though she is dead, she
continues to make a great impact on my life.
It bothers me that I haven't seen any mention of her in the samples I have received
from you. I welcome a reply.
Vicki L. Stevens
Dear Vicki:
Ayn Rand is well-known, widely read,
and for many years she put out her own
newsletter, worked through an educational
organization, etc. Since she was so readily
avadoble to all, it simply seemed superfluous for us to add to the adulation. In
addition, Ayn Rand operated under copyright rules like the true laissez [aire capitalist that she was. We could not have printed
euen a paragraph belonging to her without
paying through the nose. And, we tried.
It is our considered opinion that when
Ayn Rand writes about Atheism she is one
of the true great intellectual champions of
that cause. However, we can't pay thousands of dollars to reprint those arguments.
They are availabte in your local library, or in
paperback books euerywhere. Read and

In "Letters to the Editor" readers give

their opinions, ideas, and information.
But in "Ask AA" American Atheists
answers questions regarding its
policies, positions, and customs, as well
as queries of factual and historical
situations. We invite you to address
questions to: .
Ask AA
P.O. Box 2117
Austin, TX 78768-2117.

July, 1984

The American Atheist


The American Atheist regularly features articles on religion, the christian bible, the separation of state and church, the
history of Atheism - all written by experts. It also supplies articles on the activities of organized Activist Atheists, again
written by specialists in the field.
But one issue has been neglected by the American Atheist: What about the average contemporary Atheist, his/her
feelings, problems, and perspectives? Shouldn't there be more information available on that? We, the staff of the
American Atheist, felt so. And we decided to go to the "experts"in this field - average American Atheists. The result is a
new "regular feature" in the American Atheist titled, appropriately enough, "The Atheist Next Door." Each month the life
and opinions of an Atheist will be spotlighted through the answers to our questionnaire.
Ms. Eva Downes is our first guest. A college graduate, she writes that she is "your typical dreamy-eyed Midwestern
career girl, now middle-aged and more interested in community work than in writing the great American novel."
What is Atheism?
To me, it's a kind of lifestyle; it's living without fantasies, without
taking anything for granted. You don't assume things on faith. You
stop and say to yourself: "What's the evidence for this? Where are the
facts to back up this position?" And part, just part, of all this is the
rejection - no, discarding - of the idea of the supernatural. For
instance, you have the idea of "fairies" presented to you. Well, you try.
to see ifthere's anything to back that notion up. Sort of "Where's the
beef?" You can't, of course, so you don't worry about pleasing fairies.
Same thing with the idea of "god." Someone presents that notion to
you; they don't give supporting evidence, so you don't buy it.
How did you become an Atheist?
I really couldn't say. I was reading something one day and I kept
agreeing with everything the writer was saying. And the writer was an
Atheist and was talking about Atheism. So I said to myself: "Hey,
that's what you've been all these years - an Atheist!"
I suppose that becoming an Atheist was just part of growing up for
me. I rejected many of the "traditional" notions with which I had been
brought up, and god ideas happened to be a part of them. It wasn't a
lightning bolt experience for me, but rather a gradual process of
maturation, you might say.
What have reactions to your Atheism been? From family,
friends, co-workers?
Different. My mother's reaction was like that of many parents when
they learn that their child is gay; she thought it was disgusting - but,
after all, I was her daughter. She regularly lectures me on the glory of
the jesuchrist. She probably still thinks I'll go "straight." As for my
husband, well, I hesitated to tell him for a long time because I really
didn't think he'd be too happy about it. He's the one in our family
who's always moaning about how traditional values are going down
the drain. But one easter I looked at him and said, "Sorry, I'm not
going to church; I think it's all a crock." Well, that's a slightly
condensed version, to be sure. And his reaction was to agree with me.
Never needed an easter bonnet after that.
The reactions of my friends and co-workers have been varied. I
have had a few people at work try to hassle me. Sometimes I would
find allsorts of tracts on my desk or someone would try to convert me
over the water cooler. But more often, they'd say "That's nice," or "I
kind of feel that way, too."
Do you feel that Atheism affects you day-to-day life? Your
performance on the job or personal relations?
To be honest, I think it makes me a better human being. That
sounds horribly chauvinistic, but let me explain. As an Atheist, I know
there's only this life.I don't have a second chance after Idie. And as an
Atheist, I know there's no one to clean up after me. If I pollute my
environment, no god is going to come around with a mop and some
Austin, Texas

"supercleaner." My kids and grandkids have to live with how I treat

my planet. So I try to treat it fairly well. I also know that I don't have a
chance to be a good wife and mother after I'm six feet under. So I'm
going to be as kind and understanding as I can be now.

Do you feel that the general situation for Atheists has grown
better or worse in recent years?
I think it's hard to generalize aboutthat. On one hand, when I was
growing up we had less legalized religion. The nation's motto was "E
Pluribus Unum;" our currency didn't have "In God We Trust," and
the pledge of allegiance did not have "under God." But, on the other
hand, there were no Atheist TV shows or radio programs.

How do you deal with traditionally religious activities or

ceremonies like marriages and wakes?
Right now not at all. After all, I'm already married and no one I know
is on their death bed!
Seriously, though, my marriage was a civil ceremony because it
happened while my husband was on leave while he was in the armed
forces. So I wasn't confronted with the problem then. If I were being
married now and had the choice of ceremonies, I wouldn't want to be
married in a church. I would instead have a ceremony centered
around myself and my intended spouse. Religious ceremonies spend
most of the time talking about god instead of the happy couple.
As for a funeral, I know that for myself I want something simple and
plain. To me, it's just another animal life ended, though I do feel that
funeral ceremonies can be helpful psychologically to the survivors.

How did you deal with your children regarding Atheism?

My two children were still pre-school age when my husband and I
realized we were both Atheists. We didn't send them to church when
they were young. But when they were in their teens, we took the boys
around to different churches and bought them books on comparative
religions. We were trying to be "fair" and all that. If I had it to do over
again, I'd just be frank and rear them as Atheists. But I encouraged
them to shop around. I must have rubbed off on them though,
because once they were in college they both became Atheists.

Anyone interested in being "The Atheist Next Door"

should write to:
American Atheist
P.O. Box 2117
Austin, TX 78768-2117
and ask for our questionnaire.
July, 1984


Soledad de Montalvo-Mielche




effective that, for intercourse to take place after marriage, the

husband or a matron has to defibulate the bride with a knife to pry her
The ghastly screams and shrieks which have terrified so many
foreign tourists, at night, in the vicinity of "Honeymoon" hotel, in Port
Sudan, are emitted by brides being defibulated. A Sudanese journalist
commented, "For us they seem perfectly normal, we all know that the
first nights of marriage are agony."

"The ghastly screams and shrieks which

have terrified so many foreign tourists, at
night, in the vicinity of 'Honeymoon' hotel, in
Port Sudan, are emitted by brides being defibulated."

he temperature generally drops several degrees when female

circumcision is mentioned by any European, when mohammedans are present. What is interesting from an historical point of
view is the fact that both male and female circumcision had been
practiced in Ethiopia and Egypt since remote antiquity. Sanchuniathon, Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, etc. have confirmed this. There can be absolutely no doubt that the practice of
male circumcision was borrowed by the Hebrews from the Egyptians.
To quote Davenport: "Abraham, who had hitherto called himself
Abram, added a syllable to his name at the same time that he curtailed
a portion of his skin, thus effecting a compromise, or quid pro quo."
According to the bible, the "covenant" fell into desuetude but was
revived by Moses - but not for the reasons given in exodus!
According to the old scholiast: " ... Moses, the king and legislator of
the jews, having from want of cleanliness a diseased prepuce, was
compelled to cut it off, and fearing that this privation,if known to his
subjects, might expose him to ridicule, ordered them all to undergo a
like operation."
For males, circumcision is a messy but comparatively trivial
operation, whereas for females, cliteridectomy is not only painful
beyond belief, but is the equivalent of total castration. All of the
women whom I know personally who have undergone pharaonic
circumcision and have been infibulated say they have never
recovered from it - physically or mentally - and, of course, they are
absolutely incapable of experiencing any sexual pleasure. On the
contrary, sex is very painful for them.
No doubt, eastern men have always nourished, and still nourish, a
deep visceral fear and distrust of all infant females - some of the
bright ones might grow into brainy women who would go after them
with meat cleavers, join "Women's Lib," demand equal rights, etc. So
aeons ago the ancestors of Semitic "machos" reached the conclusion
that the only way to beat the deadly females of their species was to
circumcise them first, then lock them up in harems or zenanas.
Pharaonic circumcision and infibulation is regarded as the only
100% effective way to safeguard a girl's virginity. Indeed, it is so
Page 6

July, 1984

But just what is pharaonic circumcision? I have seen it being done

when I was staying as a guest in the home of wealthy Arab friends. A
great feast had been prepared to which all female relatives and friends
had been invited, and since I was regarded as a guest of honour, I not
only had to attend, but was given a ringside seat. The miserable little
victim - a beautiful child, incidentally - was grabbed by four
women, who threw her upon a sort of pallet on the ground and
pinioned her arms and legs. Then the "gedda," or specialist, or
matron, or whatever you want to call her, kneeled between the little
girl's thighs, and began the operation by slicing off the clitoris. All of
the women present began making the most prodigious din, which
they kept up during the whole operation, in a futile effort to drown the
howls and shrieks of agony of the patient. As soon as the clitoris had
been excised, the matron scooped (roughly speaking) it out, then
began to pull and tug to extract its roots. Blood gushed left, right and
centre. This was only an "hors d'oeuvre" - the next step consisted in
shearing off the edges of the inner lips, then carving off the rim of the
outer lips, from which the "gedda" removed a gory ribbon of flesh
about 2 centimeters in width. Where the clitoris had once been was a
gaping hole from which blood poured. I will spare you a few other
details which I would rather not enlarge upon. Finally, the matron
stitched up the raw and bleeding flesh, after which she carefully
inserted a tiny hollow tube into the lower portion of the vagina, to
allow the passage of urine and menstrual blood. This, so I was
subsequently informed, was to remain in place until the scar had
formed. The "operation" had lasted all of twenty minutes. Finally, the
patient was bound up with cords from the hips to the knees, to
prevent her from making any movements which might have caused
the stitches to burst. For 15 days all girls who have been infibulated
have to remain motionless, supine, and trussed up like fowls.
As a direct result of this ritual butchery, most mohammedan
women are permanently cowed, which is hardly surprising since they
have been castrated. A few exceptions react as Cleopatra did.
According to many historians, the "Serpent of the Nile" had been
subjected, as most Egyptian females, to pharaonic circumcision, and
her whole life was a sort of mopping up action, totally unencumbered
by any treacherous below-the-belt emotions.
According to Doctor EI Sayed Mirghani EI Sayed, the very first
African doctor to write a thesis on female circumcision, in Africa
alone ''fifty million or more female children are circumcised every
year." In Somalia, all girls between the ages of 7 and 10 are forced to
submit to this barbarous operation, for religious and social reasons.
Most Egyptian girls, including those who attend universities, have
been infibulated.
The American Atheist

Unfortunately, no one knows how many of the little victims who

have been circumcised die - either immediately due to shock, or a
little later due to the infections resulting from this prehistoric ritual
butchery. Sometimes, the patients bleed to death; hemorrhages
which often last for 48 hours are frequent occurrences, but generally
they succumb to tetanus or gangrene. Whenever a death resulting
from circumcision occurs, as Doctor J.G. Taoko reported, it is
bruited about that the "evil eye" was to blame, or else it is rumoured
that the victim herself was to blame, because she had had sexual
relations before the ceremony and was "punished" for her "crime."
It is hardly necessary to describe what happens to all women who
have been infibulated when they are on the point of giving birth. The
vagina, a mass of scar tissue, is far too narrow to permit the baby to
emerge. So what happens? They simply slash them open. Then, of
course, later they have to be infibulated all over again. Any husband
can force his wife to undergo infibulation "ad nauseum." One of my
unfortunate friends has been infibulated five times.

"As soon as the clitoris had been excised, the

matron scooped (roughly speaking) it out, then
began to pull and tug to extract its roots. Blood
gushed left, right and centre."
Mahomet cannot be blamed for introducing either male or female
circumcision, which had been practised thousands of years before his
birth, but it is relevant to note that he never made the slightest effort
to ban, or suppress, or even discourage female circumcision. On the
According to the (Omatiya version) of the hadiths ("sacred words
of the prophet"), when Mahomet saw a woman in the medina busily
carving up the genitalia of a small girl, he said: "Do not cut too
deeply." According to the second version (Razeen) he allegedly said:
"Do not cut too deeply. it clears the complexion of the woman and is
more agreeable for her husband."
Although the koran considers excision as an "embellishment" for
women, but not as a formal command, most mohammedans
everywhere labour under the delusion that female circumcision is a
prescription of islam. Modern islamic leaders all appear to be bending
over backwards to encourage the practice.
The grand mufti of Mecca - who might be compared to the pope
for all of islam - publicly proclaimed: "The ablation of the gland
clitoris is agreeable to Allah." This astonishing "pronunciamento"
was made smack in the middle of this century.
Like most religious leaders - past or present - Mahomet was not
all there. He was an epileptic, subject to violent fits. Back in the sixties
when some French newspaper (or magazine) published this tidbit
under the heading, "Mahomet - epileptique," a frightful scandal
ensued. The mosque of Paris, forthwith, embarked on a court case,
which it lost. The evidence regarding Mahomet's epilepsy was
Abraham - according to the bible - was either on the verge or
over the edge of madness, since he obviously suffered from auditive
and visual hallucinations. When in the throes, he fancied or imagined
that he saw and heard a god, who introduced himself as" el elyon" etc.
And, although Time failed to mention it in their October 17th cover
story, "Luther 500 years young," Luther, who like Calvin suffered
acutely from chronic constipation, received his greatest moment of
spiritual enlightenment when he was struggling upon the privy - the
famous, immortal "Turmerlebnis." All Atheists who know Latin have
laughed themselves into insensibility reading Melancthon's description of one of Luther's affrays with the devil. For obvious reasons
it has not been translated from Latin: "Hoc dictu, victus daemon,
indignabundus secumque murmurans abiit, eliso crepitu, non exiguo,
cujus fussinem tetri odoris dies aliquot redo Iebat hypocaustum."
But I digress, which is unpardonable. To return to mohammedanism, which, let us face it, is spreading ominously (even in the
United States with the Black muslims), it might indeed be a good idea,
as my three islamic "closet Atheists" have vociferously and
Austin, Texas

repeatedly suggested, to acquaint Americans with a few hard facts

regarding mohammedanism, viz., Mahomet's epilepsy, etc., as well as
that every year over fifty million little children are castrated "like
animals" in forty countries of Africa, the Middle and Near East (in the
name of Allah the mer.ciful, the compassionate).
UNICEF, UNESCO, WHO, etc. have been in possession since
1958 of" confidential documents" which informed them of the savage
mutilations which are inflicted on children, but not one of these
organizations has ever done anything constructive. They remain rife
with lethargy, or like frightened cuttlefish exude inky sophistries.
They are pusillanimous and models of ineptitude. As for the "holy
see," well, it seems that the great battle against abortion and the
glorious crusade against contraceptives, the present pope's psychotic preoccupations, prevent the vatican and "his holiness" from
embarking on another battle to relieve the sufferings endured by
millions of defenseless children. Although some African countries
have legally banned female circumcision, it is still widely practiced.
Many wealthy individuals now have their daughters circumcised in
hospitals by doctors who specialize in these black market operations
and become rich on the proceeds.
Khomeni's "Mein Kampf" entitled Political, Philosophical, Social
and Religious Principles should be a must for all those interested in
islam with the lid off. The ayatollah makes no secret that his goal is
"universal islamic power" - the "holy war" has already begun, and
willonly end with "total victory for islam." Here are a few gems from
this astonishing book: "A woman may belong to a man in two ways: by
continuous marriage, or temporary marriage. In the first case it is not
necessary to indicate the duration, but in the second case one must
indicate whetherthe period is for one hour, one day, one month, one
year." One of the most serious of all sins, he goes on to inform us, is to
refrain from paying one's taxes to the clergy. Oddly enough, anyone
who "restrains" himself from urinating thereby commits a sin. (?!) Ifa
fly enters into one's mouth during Ramadan, one is not obliged to
remove said fly, one may swallow it. No one who has eaten garlic
should be allowed to enter a mosque. Wearing an "occidental hat" is a
disgrace, and contrary to the willof Allah."
The saintly ayatollah has classified wine and all alcoholic beverages
"impure" but regards both opium and hashish as "pure." Incidentally,
he informs us that there are "eleven impure things": pigs, dogs, etc.
and also men and women who are not mohammedans."
Apart from this, "it is forbidden to defecate upon the graves of the
faithful," etc., etc.
All Iranian women are now obliged to wear "tchadors" whenever
they emerge from their homes, failing which they are spat upon in the
streets and some have even been knifed. No doubt, Khomeini will
force all Iranian women to undergo pharaonic circumcision and be
infibulated, if he has not already made this practice a legal obligation.
In Ethiopia, the Amharas, who are christians, and the Fellashas, who
are jews, as well as some other tribes, also insist that their women be
circumcised, but the only people who practice infibulation are the
mohammedans. Excision is' bad enough, infibulation is Grand
To quote Pierre Leulliette, author of Le Viol des Viols: "Ces
mutilations no sont elles pas des armes imparables pour le maintien
de la polygamie selon Mahomet?"
President Reagan named 1983 "the year of the bible" and exhorted
all citizens each in his or her own way to reexamine and rediscover its
priceless and timeless heritage." The bible and koran are maelstroms
of mythological absurdities. But the authors of the bible and the
author of the koran - one really has to hand it to them - were
talented psychological engineers, because in defiance of all laws of
logic and common sense, they succeeded - chacun a son tour - in
flinging a great bridge of lies over a bottomless gulf of nonsense,
historical falsifications and sheer unadulterated baloney.
In the old testament, the jewish deity is described behaving with a
totally anthropomorphic lack of self control, not infrequently he
carries on like a hungry mandrill who has just been forcibly deprived
of a banana. The koran answers every question, particularly those
which are of no interest. 00
July, 1984

Page 7



enis Diderot was born in the old Roman town of Langres in
Champagne, France on the 5th of October, 1713. He was one
of seven children of a master cutler, Didier Diderot, and his
wife Angelique Vigneron Diderot, the daughter of a master tanner.
His parents, being persons of property, were able to provide
schooling for their son. His elementary education was received in his
own home, but at age ten he was qualified to begin his secondary
education, and in November, 1723, he was enrolled in the lowest form
of the jesuit college at Langres. He was an outstanding scholar, often
receiving meritorious citation and commendations.
At age 13, Diderot signed his intention of becoming a priest, and on
August 22,1726 the bishop of Langres conferred the tonsure on him.
As a result of this, he was entitled to be addressed as "abbe." In 1728
or 1729 he left for Paris to finish his last year of study at a Iycee, the
jesuit college of Louis-Ie-Grand.
Very little is known, but much speculation is made, of his lifein this
period. It is thought that he began to study some law in 1730. He was

Page 8

July, 1984

awarded the degree of Master of Arts in the University of Paris on

Sept. Znd; 1732. Somewhere along the way he stopped wearing his
ecclesiastical attire. About 1736 he thought, again, to study law, but at
that time the plan did not come to fruition. About 1741 his father
wrote to a solicitor (an attorney) in Paris to make monetary
arrangements for him to study in a law firm. By that time, Diderot had
found his love in mathematics (in which he was inordinately
proficient) and in languages, especially Latin, Greek, but also Italian
and English, through the translations of which he would earn his living
in this period. His father demanded that he study law or have his living
allowance terminated. Diderot chose to study, to translate, to write
and he lived the next ten years financially on his own.
His first published translation work was from the English, Temple
Stanyan's Grecian History in 1739. This work, entitled Histoire de
Grece, appeared in three volumes in 1743. For the translation Diderot
received 300 francs (100 crowns).
He was a man of large frame and "wore his own hair," which was
blond, heavy and thick. He was, generally, careless of dress, although
At first, he took ajob tutoring in the home of a wealthy financier but
found that it curtailed his independence. Therefore, he soon
abandoned this to do private, individual tutoring. The 11th Edition,
Encyclopedia Britannica has a very hostile review of Diderot which is
quite sketchy. In the article the author, Viscount John Morley of
Blackburn, states that at the conclusion of Diderot's education "he
threw himself into the vagabond life of a bookseller's hack" in Paris.
None of his biographers have reported this as a lifestyle. He was
apparently in pecuniary difficulties from time to time, but he relied
upon himself for income.
In 1741 he met Anne-Toinette Champion, who was 31 years of age;
he being then 28. The family was respectable but in very modest
circumstances and consisted of a widowed mother and daughter.
Anne- Toinette had been educated in the roman catholic convent of
the Miramiones and was to remain an ardent catholic throughout her
life. From their modest apartment mother and daughter carried on a
business dealing in lace and linen (shirt making, etc.). Having decided
upon this woman for his wife, it was necessary for Diderot to gain
permission of his father to marry, since French law (the royal
ordinance of 1697) required such of any man under age 30 on danger
of being disinherited. He proceeded to Langres in December, 1742
and involved himself in such an argument with his father that he was
put under coercive detention. Parental authority was such in the
ancien regime. He escaped, returned to Paris and married AnneToinette, formally, on November 6th, 1743, one month after his 30th
birthday. Of this union, at first, two daughters were born, both named
Angelique after Diderot's mother. The first daughter died within six
weeks of her birth; the second while still a very young child.
Diderot would never have dreamed of permitting his wife to share
his social or his intellectual life. This was, generally, the role women in
this class played. The marriage developed as many problems as any
marriage in any age. He had mistresses, as was accepted.
At about the time of his marriage, he met Jean-Jacques Rousseau
(1712-1778, French philosopher, author and social reformer, born in
Switzerland), with whom he developed an intimate friendship which
lasted for many years.
In 1745 Diderot's freely rendered translation (from the English) of
Lord Anthony Shaftesbury's (1671-1713) An Inquiry concerning
Virtue and Merit was published in Amsterdam under the title
Principes de la philosophie morale; ou Essae de M.A. sur Ie merite et
The American Atheist

la vertu, Avec reflexions. * The reflections consisted of a preliminary

discourse and lengthy footnotes. There was much danger in
presenting to the French public a work that declared so boldly for the
existence of a natural morality, independent of the sanctions of any
particular religion or church. In this work Shaftesbury insisted on a
harmonious balance between mankind and nature, with emphasis on
man being a social animal. He saw that man had a moral sense which
was nonreflective. From these principles it followed to him that the
ability to distinguish between right and wrong is part of the
constitution of human nature; that morality stood apart from
theology and that the moral qualities of actions are determined apart
from the abitrary willof god, and that the moralist is not concerned to
solve problems of free will.
It was Shaftesbury, of course, who introduced the term "deist" to
the world. He wanted to distinguish from theists those who denied
revelation while accepting the other dogmas of the theists.
During this period Diderot was also involved in the translation of
Robert James' A Medical Dictionary; including Physic, Surgery,
Chymistry, and Botany, in all their Branches relative to
Medicine. Together with a History of Drugs; and an introductory
Preface, tracing the Progress of Physic, and Explaining the Theories
which have principally prevail'd in all Ages of the World. Diderot

worked for three years on the project and it was brought out in
France in six folio volumes between 1746 and 1748 under the title
Dictionnaire universe! de medecine. He was assisted on the translation by (Marc-Antoine) Eidous and (Francois-Vincent) Toussaint.
The most famous book of the latter was his Les Moeurs, published in
1748 and condemned on May 16th of that year by the Parlement of
Paris. The book set forth arguments for a natural morality unbolstered by any religious belief or public cult. Thus, Diderot was, in
his associations, already in difficulty with the state.

of the state was to punish the expression of opinions against religion.

This work had at least ten editions, plus five books that quoted it in its
entirety for the purpose of refuting it. The tenor of the book was one
of militant deism. And although Diderot states in this book that he
was not an Atheist (at this time) he certainly defended those who
were. He cast doubts on miracles and argued for the then current
studies in natural history and biology.
From this point, he proceeded slowly, but deliberately, until he
arrived finally at a position of outright Materialism and Atheism. He
first gave up christian tenets simply because he did not find them
indispensable and essential.
"If there were a reason for preferring the christian religion to
natural religion, it would be because the former offers us, on the
nature of god and man, enlightenment that the latter lacks.
Now, this is not at all the case; for christianity, instead of
clarifying, gives rise to an infinite multitude of obscurities and
He went from scepticism to deism and later to Atheism simply
because it was a process of emancipation and intellectual necessity.
Despite the hue and cry raised by the Pensees, undaunted, in 1747
he wrote the Promenade du sceptique, which the lith Edition of the
Britannica petulantly describes as "a rather poor
allegory pointing to:
(1) the extravagances of catholicism;
(2) the vanity of the pleasure of that world which is the rival of the
church; and
(3) to the desperate and unfathomable uncertainty of the
philosophy which professes to be so high above both church
and world."
J.M. Robertson in his A History of Freethought, Ancient and Modern
to The Period of the French Revolution,
Vol. II, however has a

"'The thought that there is no God has never frightened anyone, but rather the thought that
there is one, such as the one that has been described to me.' iPensee JX)"
In 1746 Diderot wrote his Pensees philosophiques,
which was
printed surreptitiously and then sold clandestinely by various book
bootlegging techniques. A family legend has it that the book was
written one weekend, at easter. A slim volume, no more than 10,000
words, it is possible that the feat was done in such short time.
Appended to the work was a short essay on the sufficiency of natural
religion. In this he had risen above the deistical plane of thought and
grappled with the fundamental issues which the deists took for
granted. The gist of the essay was to press the ordinary rationalistic
objections to a supernatural revelation, the rationalism of the day
being used as a convenient point of attack against christianity. This
book, published without license, produced a great sensation. Its
doctrines being thought unsound, it came under the scrutiny of the
highest court in the land, was condemned by the Paris Parlement in
an "Arrest" of July 7,1746, and was ordered to be
"torn up and burned ... by the High Executioner (i.e. the
common hangman) as scandalous, and contrary to Religion
and Morals."
The decree further stated that the Pensees philosophiques:
" ... presents to restless and reckless spirits the venom of the
most criminal and absurd opinions that the depravity of human
reason is capable of; and by an affected uncertainty places all
religions on almost the same level, in order to finish up by not
accepting any."
Much "underground literature" was afloat in France during this
era, but the boldness of Diderot's work set it apart.
"The thought that there is no God has never frightened
anyone, but rather the thought that there is one, such as the
one that has been described to me." i Pensee IX)
In eighteenth century France it was taken for granted that a function
*The title is also given as Shaftesbury's Philosophie morale, ou Melange
raisionne des Principes, Pensees et Reflexions (1745) (Inquiry Concerning
Virtue and Merit).

Austin, Texas

different idea:
"In its brilliant pages may be found a conspectus of the
intellectual life of the day, on the side of the religious problem.
Every type of thinker is' there tersely characterized - the
orthodox, the deist, the Atheist, the sheer skeptic, the scoffer,
the pantheist, the solipsist, and the freethinking libertine, the
last figuring as no small nuisance to the serious unbeliever. So
drastic are the criticisms of orthodoxy that the book was
unprintable in its day; and it was little known even in manuscript. A police agent seized the MS. while searching Diderot's
library and Diderot could not get it back. Malesherbes, the
censor, kept it safe for him by retaining it."
In it he presents the reply to the design argument which was adopted
by David Hume (1711-1776), Scottish philosopher and historian.
Arthur M. Wilson in his Diderot, The Testing Years, 1713-1759 sees
the Promenade in another light. "The allegory about christianity is
particularly searching and savage, giving in very thin disguise a critical
account of biblical history and christian institutions." He quotes the
"Gentleness and peacefulness regulate our proceedings;
theirs are dictated by fury. We employ reason; they accumulate
fagots. * They preach nothing but love, and breathe nothing but
blood. Their words are humane, but their hearts are cruel."
Wilson sees in this work all the attributes of Diderot which were "to
make him the outstanding thinker of his century in the philosophy of
In 1748, however, Diderot published his highly respected Memoires
sur differens sujets de mathematiques.
In this he made some
corrections in Newton's calculations of the effect on pendulums of the
resistance of air. The five mathematical papers dealt with the general
principles of the science of sound, with emphasis on music; a new
compass made of the circule and its involute; examination of a
*A bundle of sticks used to burn humans at stake.

July, 1984

Page 9

principle of mechanics concerning the tension of cords; a project for a

new type of organ; and, of course, his letter on the resistance of the
atmosphere to the movement of pendulums. The mathematics were
competent and original.
Diderot had, about this time, fallen in love with Madeleine d'Arsant
de Puisieux, a blond who was seven years his junior, the wife of a
lawyer. This liaison lasted for five years and cost him money. His
daughter subsequently wrote that he had produced Pensees for
money necessary for Madeleine, but there are other stories. Patrick
J. Kearney in his A History of Erotic Literature states that Diderot
earned 60 louis for writing his Les Bijoux indiscrets in 1748 and that
this money he gave to his mistress. Wilson reports it as 100 louis.
Pornography was all the rage in Paris. The word libertin at first meant
"free-thinker" but as the freethinkers of the 17th and 18th centuries
fought for free inquiry in the pursuit of knowledge they had to reject
the harsh doctrines and moral codes of the church as hindrances to
that objective. Slowly, therefore, the charges of debauchery against
them stuck. By the middle of the 18th century, "libertine" as a noun
had come to mean in actuality an individual of habitual licentiousness,
unfettered by moral laws. The "libertine" era was that in which
Diderot's Bijoux appeared and Diderot's contribution was satire,
literary criticism and eroticism in a pleasing and stylish combination.
The book was first published in Paris with the false imprint "Pekin" to
emphasize the novel's Oriental setting. Many characters in the book
are not what they seem. Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour are
satirized as the sultan and his favorite. Richelieu is also represented
and the French Revolution foreseen.
Diderot loved the theatre, attending as often as he could. And, in
this book is his first ridicule of the traditional French drama. Later, his
analysis of the theatre was to become the major critical work on the
subject and led to substantive changes in drama and theatre. But the
theme of the book is the ennui of sexual satiety which affects the
sultan and his plea to his mistress to somehow find out the most
intimate secrets of the ladies of the court for his divertisement. A ring
(the Bijoux of the title) on his finger gives him the power to see it all
and in thirty experiments with the ring various sexual debaucheries
are described. A general assumption in the work was that every
woman, however demure and virtuous she may seem, is really
morally corrupt. It reflected Diderot's treatment of his wife and the
male morals of his times.
One chapter (xxxii) in the book deals with the triumph of the
scientific method over ignorance posing as knowledge. Within a few
months of publication six editions in French were printed in Holland
alone. An English translation appeared in 1749 and a German one in
1776 and 1792.Hardly able to write civilly, the author of the article on
Diderot in the 11th Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica says of this
work "He then wrote a volume of stories, the Bijoux indiscrets (1748),
gross without liveliness, and impure without wit. In later years he
repented of this shameless work." This hardly seems likely since
Diderot, some years after its publication, added two chapters to the
original edition.
At the same time this book first appeared Diderot had undertaken
a translation of Joseph Bingham's Origines ecclesiasticae, or the
Antiquities of the Christian Church. Unfortunately, he never finished
this work on the heresies of christianity.
A bookseller, Andre Francois Le Breton, who was also a publisher
to the court, gave him a project to translate into French Ephraim
Chambers' Cyclopaedia, which had been undertaken by an Englishman named John Mills and a German named Gottfried Sellius. This
had been a very successful work when first published in England in
1728. It was in two folio volumes, embellished by twenty-one large
plates. Substantively it was a dictionary with articles on history and
geography, as well as having biographical entries, the whole prefaced
by an elaborate scheme of the divisions and subdivisions of knowledge. Previously there had been various technical dictionaries,
especially that which Diderot had himself translated from the English
in 1746-8, the medical dictionary. There had even been a Latin
published in 1630 by Johann Heinrich Alsted. This
work had treated of philosophy, philology, theology, jurisprudence,
Page 10

July, 1984

medicine, history and mechanical art. Gottfried Leibnitz (1646-1716),

German philosopher, writer and mathematician, also had suggested a
new encyclopaedia, as had the Masons in 1740.
Instead of a reproduction of this work, Diderot persuaded the
bookseller to enter upon a new work which would collect all active
writers, all new ideas, all new knowledge. The publisher formed an
association with three others and got enough money together to go
with the project. Jean LeRond D'Alembert (1717-1783), French
mathematician who formulated the ratio test theorem, was persuaded to become Diderot's colleague. The contract concluded on
October 16th, 1747 provided Diderot 7,200 livres; 1,200 in lump sum
upon publication of the first volume and the remainder at the rate of
144 livres per month. D'Alembert received the same monthly
amount, but with no advance lump sum.
All of this relieved Diderot financially and assisted his domestic life
with Anne-Toinette and a new baby, Francois-Jacque-Denis. Indeed,
the family was able to move to a third floor apartment in a building
built in 1681 (and still standing) at 3 Rue de l'Estrapade. His mother
having died in October, 1748, he also inherited some property from
her estate.
The requisite permission for printing was secured from the
government Royal Corporation of Booksellers on April 30, 1748.
Diderot's next book introduced him to the world as an original
thinker, his famous Lettre sur les Aveugles
I 'usage de ceux qui voient
(Letter on the Blindfor the Use of Those Who See) (1749). This shows
the dependency of man upon his five senses, which at that time was a
very upsetting metaphysical speculation. The work began with a
number of acute firsthand observations on the behavior of a man of
considerable intellect who was born blind (an actual member of the
English Academy of Science, Nicholaus Sanderson who was a
Cambridge Professor of Mathematics and the author of Elements of
Algebra.) Diderot then begins to speculate upon the kind of concepts
of god or of right and wrong such a person must have. This clearly
suggested that our ideas about god and morality are not absolute but
relative to our physical make-up and endowment. This was highlighted by a deathbed scene wherein the blind man stated
" ... ifyou want me to believe in God, you must make me touch

"Diderot then begins to speculate upon the

kind of concepts of god or of right and wrong (a
blind) person must have. This clearly suggested that our ideas about god and morality
are not absolute but relative to our physical
make-up and endowment."
This emphasized the point Diderot desired to drive home that the
only thing with which the mind has to work is the evidence conveyed
to it by the senses. This doctrine, of course, attacks the religious
authority based simply on revelation.
He advanced a theory of relativity and the application of that
principle to the master-conception of god. In this there was a logical
rebuttal of the ethical and cosmological assumptions of theism, all of
which are put into the mouth of the blind English mathematician,
Sanderson. Incidentally, in the book, Diderot suggested teaching of
the blind to read by the sense of touch.
This book, also published without license, was more than a
defiance of the censorship; it was a challenge to the philosophy and
the faith of christendom and as such could not have missed
The work put Diderot in touch with Voltaire for the first time.
Voltaire, a deist, expostulated with Diderot on the tendency of his
argument toward Atheism and suggested that the younger man come
to visit him to be put right. Diderot did not make the visit. To
Voltaire's argument about a deistic universe, Diderot replied (at the
"I believe in God, although I livevery happily with atheists ....
The American Atheist

It is ... very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley; but

not at all so to believe or not in God."
On July 24, 1749 two police officers entered Diderot's home to
search for any manuscripts "contrary to Religion, the State, or
morals." He was placed under arrest through a writ, lettres de cachet.
He was immediately put into the prison at Chateau de Vincennes, a
medieval fortress and former royal residence, six miles east of Paris.
Diderot was then 36 years of age. He remained for three months and
ten days. (Some references give six months; some five.) His keeper,
however, happened to be a relative of his mistress. He was, therefore,
put in the northwest tournelle of the third floor in an octagonal room,
approximately 13 feet square. It contained graceful vaultings (28'
high), a window looking toward the chateau's entrance and an
enormous fireplace. Later, Diderot testified that the Marquis du
Chatelet, Governor of Vincennes, treated him as a prisoner very
Diderot's daughter, Mme. Marie-Angelique de Vandeul wrote in
her Memoires pour servir l'histoire de la vie et des ouvrages de
Diderot of his imprisonment in the Bastille. He was there, she thought,
for Le Pigeon blanc and the prosecution simply made the earlier
Pensees a part of the case against him. This work, actually titled
L'Oiseau blanc, conte bleu, was a fairy story inspired by the Arabian
Nights. It had, however, some of the characters of the Bijoux in it and
it was felt that it might have derisive allusions to Louis XV and Mme.
de Pompadour. Perhaps the rumors actually applied to Bijoux.
An interrogation took place in the tower one week after the arrest.
Under oath Diderot stated he had not written the Letter on the Blind,
had not caused it to be printed or sold, and had not given the
manuscript to anyone. The stark necessity of bare survival forced
everyone into an apparent acceptance of orthodoxy. One lied as

"Some historians reviewing the 18th century

note that the year 1749 was a remarkable one
in that writings hostile to religion multiplied.
The 'respectful silence regarding religion,'
which still grips the U. S. today, was in France
shattered by 'importunate and deplorable
quarrels'. "
Some historians reviewing the 18th century note that the year 1749
was a remarkable one in that writings hostile to religion multiplied.
The "respectful silence regarding religion," which stillgrips the United
States today, was in France shattered by "importunate and deplorable quarrels." Meanwhile, of course, the government was
confiscating, arresting and imprisoning anyone with radical ideas.
Neither church nor state regarded themselves as answerable in any
way to the criticism of private persons. They did not consider the
public discussion of public matters even permissible. By August of
1749 the Paris prisons were so full that some of those arrested had to
be sent to Vincennes and other outlying prisons. Of course, a goodly
number of the clergy were, at the time, deistic. And, of course, it had
been to Vincennes that Diderot had been sent.
Meanwhile, the printers worked with frantic activity to have him
released from prison so that he could go forward with the Encyclopaedia. He swore he had not written the Bijoux or the Pensees.
On the next day, the publisher swore that Diderot was the author.
Rousseau who visited him said that Diderot almost went crazy in his
solitary confinement. Finally, on August 13th, he confessed. He was
given freedom of the grounds in less than a week, plus two
commodious rooms: one for working on the Encyclopaedia; one with
a bed for sleeping and with other furniture.
His first visitors were allowed on August 22nd, and later he was
permitted visits with his wife. His mistress, Mme. de Puisieux, and he
had a cooling of relations at this point.
Back in Paris, his arrest had caused a public stir and his name had
become more well known. His father, however, wrote to him only,
Austin, Texas

declining to visit, and admonished him to write a book of christian

edification. "This will bring down upon you the benedictions of
heaven and willkeep you in my good graces." He enclosed 150 livres.
The money was needed, for the publishers discontinued Diderot's
salary from the time of his imprisonment July 14th to late November,
1749. Diderot was finally released on November 3rd.
Diderot broke with Mme. Puisieux and sought consolation with
another woman, Sophie Volland, to whom he was constant for the
rest of her life. His letters to her are the most graphic pictures that we
have of the daily lifeof the philosophic circle in Paris. The French were
Bohemian during this period, with the theatre, salons and dining
having great import. Diderot with other philosophers dined twice a
week (Thursdays and Sundays) at the salon of Paul Thiry, Baron
d'Holbach (1723-1789), a man of wealth who supported the work of
the encyclopedists. (His home at Number 8, Rue des Moulins, a
substantial six-story ((counting the entresol)) building, with its own
court and porte-cochere, is still standing.) There is some literary
discussion, supported by the memoirs of Diderot's daughter, that
Diderot was the one who "converted" d'Holbach to Atheism. About
this time, Diderot's and Rousseau's friendship was joined by Jean
In 1750 over 8,000 copies of an elaborate prospectus for the
Encyclopedia announced the project, which was to be a collection of
all human knowledge in eight volumes of text and two volumes of
illustrations. The completed text, projected to be available over the
next two years, cost 280 livres a set, payable in nine installments. It
was an amazing financial success for the publisher, who invested
1,158,000 livres and took in 2,162,000.
It was in the middle of all this that little Francois died of fever.
Several months later another child was born and baptized DenisLaurent. He died, also, before the end of the year and the couple was
childless again, after seven years of marriage.
But, the sale of the projected Encyclopedia went well. In less than
six months (April 1, 1751) there were 1,002 subscribers; by July this
had risen to 1,75l.

With Diderot, as with all Atheists, that which relates

humankind to objective reality - to life and living in and
with the world - is of overriding importance. Therefore,
100% of Diderot's illustration selections reflected this
commitment: how to ameliorate the condition of mankind, making life just a little easier through technology.







July, 1984

Page 11

Meanwhile, Diderot wasjust out of imprisonment. Upon his release

he wrote his second article on the deprivation in the deaf and dumb:
Lettre sur les sourds et muets a /'usage de ceux qui entendent et qui
parlent. (Letter on the Deaf and Dumb.for the Benefit of those Who
Hear and Speak). This time he was cautious and submitted the
manuscript to proper authorities, and although he did not win
authorization, he was given a "tacit permission" for publication on
January 12, 1751. The work went through three editions in that year
and another in 1772. In the book he again reiterated that knowledge is
completely dependent upon the senses. An argument with the jesuits
of the city ensued.
On March 5th, 1751 Diderot was made a member of the Prussian
Royal Academy of Sciences and Belles-Lettres. He was never to be
admitted to the French although he did gain entry to two Russian
academies and the Society of the Antiquaries of Scotland. He was too
close to being openly atheistic then to qualify him for membership in
"respectable" circles.
But, the Encyclopedia went well. Under the direction of Diderot
from beginning to end it exalted scientific knowledge and pacific
industry. The only authority it would recognize was truth. It
emphasized that human beings are not born with innate ideas of
religion and morality, but simply derive them from their experience. It
set a seal on the victory of the philosophe and the rationalist over and
against the forces of reaction and traditionalism. There was
information on synonyms, many definitions and articles on grammar
(written by an old freethinker named Dumarsais). Although there
were articles on theology, philosophy and belles-lettres, these were
balanced against technology, the crafts, mechanical arts, science and
the scientific method. The Encyclopedia proposed that the lot of the
common people in the nation should be the concern of the nation's
government. But, the ruling class was absolutist, ecclesiastical and

military. Diderot's Encyclopedia was felt to reflect the Infidel

philosophy of the day and he was regarded as the chief of the skeptical
school which came to be known as the Encyclopedists. As such, the
Encyclopedia made a profound political as well as an intellectual
impact, not alone on France but on Europe.
The ecclesiastical party detested the Encyclopedia. It undermined
or attacked, both subtly and not so subtly, every religious idea of the
day. An example is the entry which was given under "deer,"
purporting to give comments on that animal. In this entry many
marvelous things were told about deer, "especially when they have
attained the age of reason," This was a faintly ludicrous statement at
most and harmless enough. But the dogmatic religious belief was that
animals are all automata and consequently without reason. The
absolute distinction between animal and man, the latter having a soul,
the religionists stubbornly maintained, and an off-side remark such as
this created a storm.
Under the title, "Bete," ("Animal, brute") Diderot remarked,
" ... to assert that they have no soul and that they do not
think is to reduce them to the status of machines, which one
seems scarcely more authorized to do than to declare that a
man whose language we do not understand is an automaton."
Diderot went even further as he attempted to buttress reason, even
appealing to religious instincts:
"The manner of adoring the true God ought never to deviate
from reason, because God is the author of reason, and because
he has desired it to be used even in the judgments of what is
suitable to do or not to do in respect to Him."
There was scorn for all religious institutions, whether primitive or
advanced. Often pagan religions were attacked to show the falsity of
christianity, as under the entry of "Eagle."
"The eagle may be seen in the images of Jupiter, sometimes

/'/ I.,,"







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Page 12

July, 1984

The American Atheist

at his feet, sometimes at his side, and almost always carrying a

thunderbolt in his talons. There is every appearance that this
whole fable is founded simply upon observing the flight of the
eagle, who loves to soar in the loftiest clouds and abide in the
realm of the thunderbolts. That was all that was necessary to
make it the bird of the god of heaven and the air, and give it a
thunderbolt to carry. One had only to get the pagans started
when their gods were to be honored: rather than remain at rest,
superstition conjures up the most gross and extravagant
visions. Then these visions become consecrated by time and by
the credulity of peoples; and woe to him who, without being
bidden by God to the great and perilous calling of a missionary,
loves his repose so little and knows mankind so ill as to take
upon himself to instruct them. Ifyou introduce a ray of light into
a nest of owls, you will only injure their eyes and excite their
cries. A hundred times happy are the people bidden by religion
to believe only true, sublime, and holy things, and to imitate
only virtuous actions. Such a religion is ours, wherein the
Philosopher has only to follow his reason in order to arrive at
the foot of our altars."
The pious flourish at the end of the article was to satisfy the orthodox.
It was not so when it came to the description of the" Arche de Noe"
("Noah's Ark"). There, the best authorities were set forth to
conjecture the time it had taken - for only four persons working - to
build so large an edifice, what must have been their strength
considering the size of the timbers needed, how many species of
animals were provided, the amount of fodder needed, the disposition
of weight to prevent tipping, fresh water storage arrangements, how
the animals' stalls were cleaned and ventilated by an inordinately
small crew of humans. The article could only call in doubt.
Especially was this so with the entry under "The Bible" for it


outlined a complete scheme of exegetics which undermined the

principle of the verbal inspiration of the bible for all times. He also
gave telling blows to the institution of celibacy in the article "Celibat."
The article on "The Chaldeans" considered their proficiency in
astronomy, which permitted him to remark on sacred chronology
which threw doubts on the accuracy of the old testament. Instead of
analyzing christianity, he discussed it as having a principal importance as an instrument of government.
"Damnation," he offered, in part, is
" ... eternal punishment in Hell. The dogma of damnation or of
eternal punishment is clearly revealed by Scripture. Therefore
it is no longer a question of seeking to determine by reason
whether or not it is possible for a finite being to do God an
infinite injury; or whether or not the eternalness of punishment
is not more contrary to His goodness than conformable to His
justice; or whether, because it has pleased Him to ordain an
infinite reward for good, He has or has not been able to ordain
an infinite punishment for evil. In place of becoming entangled
in a web of captious reasonings, likely to shake a faith not well
established, one should submit to the authority of the Holy
Books and the decisions of the Church, and, trembling, effect
one's salvation, ceaselessly considering that the enormity of
the offense is in direct proportion to the dignity of the offended,
and in inverse proportion to the offender, and (ceaselessly
considering) what must be the enormity of our disobedience, if
that of the first man could be effaced by nothing less than the
blood of the Son of God."
He thus planted doubt while saying the unexceptional.
The first volume came off the press in 1751. By the end of that year,
the number of subscribers was 2,619. When Volume IIIwas published
in November, 1753, an edition of 3,100 was necess~ry. After that,







Austin, Texas

July, 1984

Page 13

reprintings and all new editions were brought up to 4,200. And, the
publisher asserted that three-fourths of the 4,000+ were taken up in
the provinces or by foreigners. The last of the letterpress was issued
in 1765. But it was 1772 before the subscribers received the final
volumes. At that time, the set consisted of seventeen volumes of text,
eleven volumes of illustrations and two volumes of analytical tables, a
total of23,135 pages and over 3,000 engraved plates. It was the largest
printing ever undertaken. During this twenty-four years, Diderot was
under harassing persecution, sufferings from a cabal of enemies, and
deserted by friends.
The jesuits remained always in "attack" position, particularly in
their Journal de Trevoux which, month after month, returned to the
battlefield. By 1752 it was evident that they were intent on destroying
the Encyclopaedia, and on February 7th of that year an Arret du
Conseil du Roy was issued to suppress its further publication, sale
and distribution.
"His majesty has found that in these two volumes a point has
been made of inserting several maxims tending to destroy the
royal authority, to establish a spirit of independence and revolt,
and, under cover of obscure and ambiguous terminology, to
build the foundations of error, of moral corruption, of irreligion,
and of unbelief."
The works were impounded, a preliminary to the jesuits' being given
the commission to continue with the Encyclopaedia. At this point an
ominous epigram was being circulated:
Je suis bon encyclopediste,
Je connais Ie mal et Ie bien.
Je suit Diderot la piste;
Je connais tout, je ne crois rien.*
Meanwhile, a wealthy family, one of the noblesse de robe of the
ancien regime, had simply purchased into a judgeship, and one son,
Chretien-Guillaume de Lamoignon de Malesherbes, was serving as
director of publications for the nation. He did not accept the
censorship required and wrote that
"It is unjust and impossible to domineer over opinions .... A
man who had read only the books that, when published,
appeared with the express consent of the government the way
the law prescribes, would be behind his contemporaries almost
a century."
In this crisis he suggested that instead of suspending the Encyclopaedia, that some substitute pages be inserted for the most
offending passages. At the same time Mme. de Pompadour, since
1745 the king's mistress, was an enemy of the jesuits and well
disposed toward the Encyclopaedia. In order to continue to issue the
volumes, Malesherbes offered ", . . to have all articles without
exception censored by theologians whome (sic) he would choose
himself." Volumes III, IV, V, VI, and VII were to be censored in
entirety by these three theologians. There was not, then, a single
article the manuscript of which was not initialed by one of the three.
But, at least, through intrigue in the royal house and with a friend as
the director of the publications of the nation, the Encyclopaedia
continued under the direction of Diderot instead of the jesuits.
Actually, one could say that the cultural elite of the time was
responsible for the publication. And, of course, it was Diderot who
continued to lead the fight. In a tiff with a jansenist bishop in 1752
Diderot wrote as follows:
"I know nothing so indecent and injurious to religion as these
vague declamations against reason on the part of some
theologians. One would say, to hear them, that men cannot
enter into the bosom of christianity except as a flock of beasts
enters into a stable, and that one has to renounce common
sense either to embrace our religion or to persist in it. To
establish such principles, I repeat, is to reduce men to the level
of the brute, and place falsehood and truth upon an equal

*1am a good Encyclopedist,

I know both good and evil.
I follow hot on Diderot's trail;
I know everything and believe nothing.

Page 14

July, 1984

About the same time, Anne-Toinette visited her in-laws at Langres

for the first time and was able to overcome their objections to her.
The visit ended on a tone of friendship. And on September 2, 1753 a
fifth child was born to the Diderots, Marie-Angelique, again named
after his mother.
And it was at this point that Diderot wrote one of his most
important books, Pensees sur l'interpretation de la nature. (Thoughts
on the Interpretation of Nature). This dealt with observation and
experimentation and asked only one question, "What are the facts?"
"We have three principal means: observation of nature,
reflection, and experiment. Observation gathers the facts,
reflection combines them, experiment verifies the result of the
combination. It is essential that the observation of nature be
assiduous, that reflection be profound, and that experimentation be exact.: Rarely does one see these abilities in combination. And so, creative geniuses are not common."
He went even further, stating that objects existing outside the mind
partake of objective reality. Wisdom, therefore, would lie in the
direction of attempting to link human intelligence with this objective
"As long as things are only in our understanding, they are our
opinions; they are notions, which may be true or false, agreed
upon or contradicted. They take on consistency only by being
linked to externally existing things. This linking takes place
either by means of an uninterrupted chain of experiments or by
an uninterrupted chain of reasoning that is fastened at one end
to observation and at the other to experiment; or by a chain of
experiments, dispersed at intervals between the reasoning, like
weights along the length of a thread suspended by its two ends.
Without these weights the thread would become the plaything
of the slightest agitation occurring in the air."
The popularity of the Encyclopaedia saved him. On December 10,
1754 he signed a new contract. He was now to receive (beginning with
Vol. V) 2,500 livres a volume. Moreover, within three months of the
publication of the last volume of letterpress Diderot was to receive
20,000 livres. All books bought for him as references were to be kept
by him for his personal library. He immediately moved his family to
more spacious quarters. Although the building has been torn down, a
fine statue of Diderot, done in bronze by Jean Gautherin in 1885,
stands near the site on Rue Saint-Benoit.
By this time, however, d'Alembert, who had been admitted to the
French Academy, and Diderot hardly ever saw one another any
more. Actually, Diderot had become romantically involved again, as
indicated. It was Louise-Henriette Volland, whom he called "Sophie,"
an unmarried woman then about forty years old (three years younger
than Diderot), They met probably in 1755 and, to her, he remained
faithful until the end of her life. What we know of salons of the period
and the daily life of the philosophes, or men of letters, came from the
letters he wrote to her. In all they numbered about 550. But, Mlle.
Volland herself destroyed all but 187. The earliest ones of those
extant is dated May, 1759.
As the work on the Encyclopaedia continued Diderot issued other
articles and short books, one of which was written after Montesquieu's death (on February 11, 1755). It was titled Droit naturel
(Natural Right) and was his attempt both to change the general way
of thinking and to declare that man was born "to think for himself." It
was at this time that he wrote of man's dignity and his "inalienable
rights." He got the phrase from Montesquieu's earlier use of the term
in l'Esprit des lois.
Baron Montesquieu (1689-1755), French philosophical writer, in his
early Persian Letters (1721) had revealed himself as "fundamentally
irreligious." In his Pensees, which were published posthumously, he
stated, "Churchmen are interested in keeping the people ignorant."
He goes on, "I call piety, a malady of the heart ... " and "The false
notion of miracles comes of our vanity, ... " Although he did profess to
deism, these attitudes and opinions created an atmosphere of
hostility. The priest who finally got into the dying man's bedroom,
began with, "Vous savez, M. Ie President, combien dieu est grand."
"Oui, monsieur," returned Montesquieu, "et combien les hommes
The American Atheist

sont petits." ("You know, Mister President, how great god is." "Yes,
and how small men are.") Upon his death, Diderot was the only man
of letters who was courageous enough to attend his funeral, which
was typical of Diderot and fuel for the fire of his enemies.
From Vol. V onward, Diderot was to begin again with his liberal
political articles. His articles on the "Egyptians" gave him the
opportunity to declare that Moses was a disciple of the Egyptian
priests, thereby undercutting the idea of the mosaic books being,
according to the theologians, histories of the first men. He disarmed
everyone by admitting to plagiarisms from earlier works, by candidly
acknowledging defects in his own writings, by correcting or editing
anew. Time and subsequent articles would take care of everything, he
was certain. He was a man with immense correspondence. Always he
maintained his independent spirit and was reknowned for his brilliant
Diderot's candor concerned with his cross-reference system (the
Encyclopaedia was alphabetical) was also amazing. He explained the
organic relationships at great length. One of the purposes of cross
references, he said, was to contrast conflicting principles and to
overthrow ridiculous opinions that could not be frontally attacked.
He called France's established religion "a national prejudice." One
category contained "theology, sacred history, and the history of
superstitions." Throughout it all ran the theme that knowledge, to be
meaningful, had to be related to man. As he returned time and again
to morals and ethics, he expressed a theory that included both
heredity and environment, organization of culture and education of
the individual man.
The articles were carefully illustrated with engravings, approximately 1,000 of which finished plates were made by a man named LouisJacques Goussier. Many others were borrowed from the Academic.
The plates were issued in 1762 and 1777. The text from 1751 to 1776.
By the time Vol. VI had appeared, however, it was the least
controversial of all. The country had become educated by the
appearance of the first five and the Encyclopedists were increasing in
number and import. More and more of the most well known names
were by then willingto write for it. Rousseau, however, had begun an
intellectual break with Diderot also, for fundamentally he was a theist
and Diderot an Atheist.
In 1757 he decided to put his hand to playwriting and produced
Entretiens sur Ie Fils naturel (Conversations
regarding a bastard). It
consisted of three dialogues with the hero of the play, in which
numerous aspects of acting and dramatic composition were discussed.1t was a novel in techniques of staging and acting, emphasized
character analysis and had intellectual content. Diderot had become
the theoretician for genre serieux, He felt that the function of the
theater was to hold a mirror up to nature and to natural life.He did not
attack the unities of time, place and plot but rather he desired to show
greater realism, clear the stage of spectators and make the play
contemporaneous. He wanted to show various occupations and
family relationships. He called this sort of playa drame, i.e. a drama.
It was at this time that Frederick the Great singled out Diderot and
d'Alembert for honors. They were members of his Academy and had
brought learning also to his nation. Unfortunately, France was at war
with both England and Prussia and Diderot's general revulsion for the
political system of France was well known. Also on January 5,1757 an
assassin attacked Louis XV in the palace at Versailles with a doublebladed knife, wounding him slightly. The king, thinking that the attack
had come from the radical ideas in circulation, on April 16 promulgated a Royal Declaration that
"All those who shall be convicted of writing or having had
written or of printing any writing tending to attack religion, to
rouse opinion, to impair Our authority, and to trouble the order
and tranquillity of Our States shall be punished by death."
The jesuits were immediately ready to renew the attack just as Vol.
VII was published. The agreement to have a theologian review the
articles had continued with Vol. IIIand most of Vol. IV, but after that
the practice had faltered and stopped. Yet, on January 1, 1758
d'Alembert decided to withdraw from any further association with the
Encyclopaedia and Voltaire joined its critics. Diderot alone fought to
Austin, Texas

continue it. The publishers themselves announced to the public in an

eight-page pamphlet that the work had been brought to a standstill.
Malesherbes, however, wrote a letter to a member of the Royal
Council recommending a policy of complete autonomy and selfresponsibility for the Encyclopaedia. But the Academy of Sciences
would not recognize Diderot. Indeed, he was never recognized or
honored in France. Preparations for publishing Vol. VIII were not
resumed until summer of 1758.
In between times, he wrote plays, as indicated Le Fils naturel(1757)
and Le Pere de famille (1758), in the sentimental vein. They were
accompanied by essays in opposition to the stilted conventions of the
classic French stage. His Hamburgische Dramaturgie (1768) marks
an epoch in the history of modern theatre. He was interested in
individual men, the incidents of a particular character, the fortunes of
a particular family, the relations of real and concrete motives. In this
vein he wrote Jacques Ie Fataliste (written in 1773, but not published
until 1796) and also Le Neveu de Rameau, a farce-comedy, thought by
many to be a masterpiece. Johann Goethe (1749-1832), German
poet, dramatist, novelist and philosopher, translated it to introduce it
to the European public. No authentic French copy appeared until
1823, when Diderot was 40 years dead.
Diderot in a letter of 1769 tells of a day in his life spent with two
monks who were Atheists.
"One of them read the first draft of a very fresh and very
vigorous treatise on atheism, full of new and bold ideas; I
learned with edification that this doctrine was the current
doctrine of their cloisters. For the rest, these two monks were
the 'big bonnets' of their monastery; they had intellect, gaiety,
good feeling, knowledge." i Memoiresv
Meanwhile the political climate worsened and on January 23, 1759
the Attorney General of France made an attack upon the Encyclopaedia before the assembly of magistrates which made up the
Parlement of Paris. It responded with a decree that its sale and
distribution should be suspended, pending an examination of the
volumes already published. The membership of the examining
committee was announced on February 16th and comprised three
theologians, three lawyers, two professors of philosophy and one
academician, all jansenists. This appointment came just at the time

"... on March 8th, (1759) a royal decree was

issued both condemning and suppressing the
Encyclopaedia in its entirety."
that Vol. VIIIwas at the press. But, on March 8th a royal decree was
issued both condemning and suppressing the Encyclopaedia in its
"The advantages to be derived from a work of this sort, in
respect to progress in the arts and sciences, can never
compensate for the irreparable damage that results from it in
regard to morality and religion. Besides, whatsoever new
precautions might be taken to prevent there creeping into the
last volumes features as reprehensible as those in the earlier
ones, there would always be an inherent drawback in allowing
the work to continue, namely that it would allow of the
dissemination not only of the new volumes but also of those
that have already appeared."
Diderot, determined to continue the work clandestinely even if
need be by printing it in Holland, went underground and redoubled
his efforts. His letters to his friends show him then to be resolute, but
exhausted, dejected, overworked and lonely. Every well known
author, collaborator, and colleague immediately distanced themselves from the endeavor. Even Voltaire, who was safe enough since
out of the country, declined to help. D'Alembert withdrew from the
enterprise. Turgot (1727-81), French statesman, financier and
economist) declined to contribute further. Diderot was left to bring it
to an end, which he did - taking seven years. He researched wrote, .
edited and printed. Of this period he remarked, "In its execution (the
Encyclopaedia) I had neither the time nor the power to be particular in

July, 1984

Page 15

the choice of my contributors, who were mostly inferior men, badly

paid, and consequently careless in their work." The articles written by
d'Alembert were signed with an "0." Other articles bore the names of
their authors, but allelse was written by Diderot. He signed his merely
with an asterisk, or not at all. And the bulk of the work was his,
including both selection of illustrations or instructions for their
However, at the end of it all, during the last months he discovered
that the bookseller, through fear, had struck out from the proof
sheets all passages that he chose to think too hardy. His work was
irreparably mutilated.
His average annual salary during the entire 24 years was about 120
Warned that a seizure of his continuing work was imminent,
Diderot and Malesherbes connived to hide them with Malesherbes,
the man who had been forced to issue the order for their seizure.
Diderot's health was not holding up, and in addition on June 3rd,
1759 his father died, an event which almost unhinged him. Yet, with
tenacity he clung to his work, for he had approximately 10 more
volumes to complete. Consequently, he published almost nothing
else. One book remains today available in our nation's bookstores, La
Religieuse (The Nun). The Marquis de Croismare was one of the
friends of the Encyclopedists, and in 1758 he interested himself in a
cause celebre. A young nun, Marguerite Delamarre, in the Paris
convent of Longchamp was appealing to be dispensed from her vows
and to be allowed to return into the world. At this time, any parent
could consign a female child to a nunnery for whatever reason. This
nun lost her case in March, 1758 and was forced to remain in the
religious order for the rest of her life. Diderot began to write the story
of the nun in 1760. It should be borne in mind that his own sister died
in a convent, perhaps from insanity, at age 27. The first edition was
not printed until 1796 but it quickly was translated into German,
Italian and English. A film was made of the novel in France in the
1960s, but it was banned by the DeGaulle government (the Minister of
Information) at the behest of the roman catholic church on March 31
1966, both for France and for export. A pre-censor board had
rejected the scenario for the nun in 1962, but it was rewritten and
toned down on three occasions to obtain the visa without which
shooting on a film in France may not commence. The title was
changed to Suzanne Simonin, Diderot s Nun to indicate that it was an
adaptation of an 18th-century classic. A disclaimer was also attached,
and shooting began in September, 1965. But, the Catholic Centrale
du Cinema, which affixes its moral ratings on films to church doors,
began a campaign to have it banned. On March 23,1966 the Censor
Board approved the completed film, but under pressure from the
church reversed within a week. The cost of shooting the filmhad been
over two million francs and a suit was started, mass protests held,
petitions signed. But, radio and television were restricted from
mentioning the commotion. The film has, consequently, never been
The story is one of the psychology of forced association in an
institution of one sex. A young woman, age 16, is put by her family into
a convent for mere financial expediency, a common lot for young
women of that day when the family could not afford a dowry. When
the day comes to take her vows, she refuses but is silenced and
carried off. At the Longchamp Convent she is befriended by a kindly
mother superior, but finding she does not have a call to the nun's
vocation, convent life is unbearable to her. The kindly mother
superior dies and a new one is harsh. She resorts to the courts to have
her forced vows rescinded and is transferred to another convent.
There the mother superior, who is a lesbian, makes advances to her.
Diderot's character was drawn from Adelaide d'Orleans, a notorious
abbess. Aided by her confessor, who has himself been forced into the
priesthood, she escapes. Once outside the walls he rapes her. (Some
translations append a punishment for the young girl: although she
seeks employment and is on the brink of finding it, an illness which
follows a severe fall kills her.)
The Encyclopaedia itself was finished in 1765-6. Diderot was 53
years old.
Although the project was exhausting occasionally, he was much
Page 16

July, 1984

cheered, such as when talking with d'Holbach who had just returned
from a visit to England in 1765. Of that conversation he wrote
i Memoires de Diderott
" ... the Christian religion is nearly extinct in England. The
deists are innumerable; there are almost no atheists; those who
are so conceal it. And atheist and a scoundrel are almost
synonymous .... "
One of his most intimate friends was Friedrich Grimm (1723-1807),
an author and philosopher. Paris, in Diderot's time, was the capital of
the intellectual activity of Europe, in philosophy, the stage, art,
poetry, literature, and from 1759 to 1779 Diderot wrote art criticism of
the annual exhibitions of paintings for Grimm, titled "Salons."
Generally, his articles on "Beauty" ("Essai sur la peinture") in the
Encyclopaedia shows that he had passed the metaphysical theories
on that subject also, for here again he insisted on the depiction of
mankind and nature. As a criterion of beauty he posited a
dependency of our perception of relationships, a sense of the
importance of context. Beauty is "
passed by way of our senses in
order to reach our understanding
Diderot, always, simply continued to write. There was nothing else
for him. In a sense there was no unity or tight theme. He wrote on a
broad span of subjects from a graceful trifle like Regrets sur ma vieille
robe de chambre to Le Reve du d'Alembert which undertakes the
ultimate constitution of matter and the meaning of life. He was a
totally free man, critical, not dogmatic. If method he had, it was to
take a hypothesis and work it out to the end. He contributed passages
to d'Holbach's Systeme de la nature, which was considered to be the
very bible of Atheism, first published in 1770.
Late in his life he attempted to sell his library to obtain a dowry for
his daughter. The empress Catherine of Russia heard of his straights,
bought the library for 1,000 pounds, and told him to keep it until she
needed it, but meanwhile she would pay him a yearly stipend for being
the librarian. He went to Russia in 1773 to thank her, and to have
general discussions with her.
As pointed out earlier, Diderot was a distinguished mathematician.
However, in order to belittle Diderot as an Atheist, a story was
therefore made up and widely disseminated concerned with his visit
to St. Petersburg. There, in the court and at the instigation of the
queen, the Russian philosopher, Leonard Euler (1707-1783), allegedly
offered to prove algebraically the existence of god. Therefore, in the
presence of the queen and the court, he gravely said to Diderot, in a
tone ringing with conviction,
"Sir, a + b" / z = x. Therefore, God exists. Reply."
Diderot's reponse, being other than one of embarrassment at the
nature of the crude proposition, has not been recorded. Later
biographers simply stated that the entire incident was a fabrication.
Diderot was a complete Atheist and Materialist and stayed that way
until the end of his life. He died on July 30th, 1784 and the last remark
he was heard to make to his daughter, shortly before his death, was
that" ... the first step toward philosophy is incredulity."

"No history books have really given Denis

Diderot full recognition for his remarkable
accomplishment which did more to pull Europe
out of the Dark Ages than the work of almost
any other man.
No history books have really given Denis Diderot full recognition
for his remarkable accomplishment which did more to pull Europe
out of the Dark Ages than the work of almost any other man. It is very
curious that only the U.S.S.R. really recognizes him for the genius
that he was. Extracts from his works, printed in English, Diderot,
Interpreter of Nature, Selected Writings, translated by Jonathan
Kemp, begins with a quotation from Friedrich Engels:
"If ever anybody dedicated his whole life to the 'enthusiasm
for truth and justice' - using this phrase in the good sense - it
was Diderot."
And so it was. All Atheists everywhere add stature to their own lives
just in knowing that such a man as this existed and that he was one of
us. ~
The American Atheist

Todd R. Grace



nthe USA Today newspaper, June 10, 1983, there was a cover
story: "Genes: Science vs. Religion" which was concerned with the
potentials of genetic engineering.
First of all, it talks of all the excited reactionaries. and religionists
who are against people "playing god" and fear that genetic
engineering willturn humans into monsters or other such nonsense,
though it isn't stated quite that way. A quotation from one unmentionable: "Worst fear ... all of lifewould be reduced to ... a Brave
New World." Now, what this means I have absolutely no idea. I have
even seen this man on a talk show. and I still don't know what he is
talking about. Anyway, this man is working up a rousing protest to
genetic engineering, especially where humans are concerned. He has
even made a petition, signed by the leader of the Moral Majority, Inc.
amongst others.
Actually, all of this protest is long ahead of protocol; it willbe a while
before man is capable of applying such principles to human life, such
as cloning. People tend to be excessively jumpy as a whole, it seems.
But that's another matter. The point of my concern is a very
disturbing quotation near the end of the article: "But ... I think we
should have a national conference - theologians, doctors, lawyers,
politicians, to begin to discuss guidelines."
This actually came across as quite a shock to me when I read it, for
several reasons. First, theologians. Of what use, I ask in all
seriousness, are theologians? Theologians represent the religious
community, their religious doctrines and dogmas in particular, which,
it can be seen with a brief look into history, are perhaps the greatest
bar to progress that has ever beset mankind. Religion has been so
violently opposed to scientific progress in the past that I don't see how
a nonbiased account could be derived thereof. After all, what do
theologians know about genetic engineering?
It is important to mention that this conference was in fact held
sometime in late summer of '83, and, sure enough, the theologians,
doctors, lawyers, and politicians were there. Now I'll rephrase that

question: What do any of these people know about genetic

engineering? (With the possible exception of doctors, of course.) Or
is there perhaps a group of people that might know more about what
is involved in genetic engineering?
The greatest shock of all to me in that line was that a certain group
of people was noticeably absent from this conference, containing, as
it happens, the very people who are responsible for there being
genetic engineering in the first place, THE SCIENTISTS. I have dwelt
on this for more than three months now, and I still can't figure it out.
The scientists, the people who are responsible for this marvel of
modern technology and the ones who obviously know the most about
it, were not included; but theologians, ofcourse, were. The thought of
this made my blood boil, but fortunately it has since cooled down.
As Isaac Asimov explained in a piece, "The Scientist's Responsibility," scientists seem to be the one group best equipped to deal
with such problems of modern society, or to best explain the nature of
the situation, at any rate, in this case.
Of course, I can understand the importance of doctors, who would
administer such procedures on human life; and the lawyers, who
would help set up any regulations of said procedures when necessary;
and politicians, also part of the lawmaking process. But I can never
understand the importance of theologians; Ijust don't see where they
come into the process. They can only foul it up, I think. (There can be
certain exceptions, of course, but I am talking of groups as a whole.)
They probably asserted their own importance, most likely, in this
This just stands as something for people to think about - the way
we choose to solve such problems. I really don't think that it is much
of a problem as yet, or that it willever be. (I think some people watch
too many movies.) But there will be more problems similar to this,
certainly, and if we continue to ring such a cast of characters every
time, deficient of perhaps the most important group, the joke willbe
onus. ~


is YOUR 60D R4LlY

ALl- PDuJERFUt....?

Austin, Texas

July, 1984



,I .,

Page 17

Mike Kennedy


nd there it was. Unbelievable, yet without a doubt real. It sat not

more than thirty feet from me. I walked closer to inspect it with
more intimate scrutiny. I circled around it, even touched it. Still it
seemed unbelievable. But yet it was concrete reality, no more a
figment of my imagination than the solid Texas ground on which I

Suddenly a door opened and from within the craft came a small
creature. It stood only three feet tall and two feet of that length was
neck. Its head resembled the head of a hammerhead shark, without
the teeth. It had stubby legs and lengthy arms, each with six finger-like
extensions. The fingers were long, slender, multi-jointed, and without
visible fingernails.
My wife was not with me. I was alone in the clearing. Alone with an
extraterrestrial. I cursed the blind insistence my wife had exercised in
going to her ritual weekly church service. It seemed she had
dismissed without due consideration the emotional entreaties I had
mixed with reason and logic for her to abstain from the degeneracy of
religious involvement. If only she were here with me. If only someone
were here as a witness.
The extraterrestrial (e.t.) wattled up to me, totally unafraid, and
hung a small black box around my neck, for which I had bent down to
accommodate his efforts. A similar box hung from his long leathery
neck. The box on the e. t.'s neck turned red and a voice, mechanically
reproduced, came from his box.
The e.t. asked, "Are you human?"
I replied, "Yes."
The e.t. asked, "Are you male?"
I replied, "Yes."
The e.t. asked, "Can you speak for all human males?"
I replied, "No."
The e.t.'s black box again glowed red as he spoke, "Who can you
speak for?"
"I can speak for myself," said I.
The e.t. asked, "Is that all?"
My box glowed red as the mechanically reproduced voice
translated my words evenly, without tone or inflection, into the e.t.'s
language, "It is enough."
The e.t. asked, "Where may I find a human willingto speak for allof
"In nazi graveyards," said I.
The e.t. asked, "Anywhere else?"
"And in pulpits," said I.
The e.t. asked, "Do those of the pulpits have rights over others?
And can you deliver me to that central ruling group, those of the
I asked, "Do you wish me to take you to our leader?"
The e.t. responded, "Yes,"
"We have none," said I.
Page 18

July, 1984

The e.t. asked, "But what of those of the pulpits?"

I answered, "They lead nowhere."
The e.t. asked, "Have you no central control among your kind?"
I explained, "Earth has many governments, even governments
within governments, but each is supreme only within certain
territorial limits. Different geographic regions are governed by
different institutions. Some alliances exist between certain governments, but no single global institution can speak for all."
The e. t. asked, "Is not a unifying element present throughout all the
aggregate groups of world governance? Is not some bond of universal
truth or empathy recognized globally, tying together even the most
polarized politicals?"
I replied, "Only one unifying fiber exists. But it is not a fiber of truth,
reason or empathy. It is the opposite."
The e.t. queried, "Which fiber is that?"
"The church," said I. "The 'church' spans across all governmental
structures and geographic obstacles linking together otherwise
unrelated humans. It is the only recognized universal institution on
Earth which maintains power and exercises influence through a
global human religious confederation."
The e.t. asked, "Does religion associate nations?"
I said, "Somewhat."
The e.t. asked, "Which religion?"
I said, "At this time it is the church. "
The e.t. asked, "How does this church maintain power?"
My black box again turned red as my words were translated into a
reproduction of the squeaks and whistles of the e.t.'s language. I
continued, "The church maintains control and adjudicates by
imposing terror and offering imaginary rewards, by suppressing
rational thought and by instilling in the unwary a series of created
falsehoods while simultaneously discrediting scientific realities
wherever they conflict with established church dogma."
The e.t. asked, "You mean to imply that your leaders rule by the
power of terror and falsehood?"
I said, "They call it the truth."
The e.t. asked, "If lies be called truth, what then does religion call
"A lie," said I.
The e.t. asked, "What if a human should not believe church
I replied, "Then that human is a nonbeliever."
The e.t. asked, "What is a nonbeliever?"
"Something less than a believer," said I.
The e.t. asked, "Is it wrong to question truth?"
I said, "If it is church 'truth'."
The e.t. asked, "But is it wrong?"
I said, "From the church's self-protective perspective it is."
The e.t. asked, "What are these forbidden truths, the truths
humans are not permitted to question?"
I said, "The forbidden truths are what the 'church' calls lies. They
are the realities which undermine the supreme rulers of all Earth's
organic life. Truths against the church are forbidden."
The e.t. said, "Interesting. Tell me more. What is a church?"
I said, "A church is a portion of humanity, self-ordained as
supreme, which acts as a control in the determination of how all other
life should be lived."
The e.t. observed, "The 'church' seems a base source of human
"Base indeed," commented I.
The e.t. asked, "What is the root of power on Earth? Is the 'church'
the root power?"
I replied, "The base of power, the energy-procuring component of
The American Atheist

the Earth's lifeare chloroplast cells. Without these all other lifewould
The e.t. asked, "Are chloroplasts the givers of life?"
I explained, "They are the givers of life in that they are the first and
vital link in the chain of life."
The e.t. deduced, "Then chloroplasts must be the 'church' since
they are in such a commanding position. It seems fit that the givers of
life be the rulers of life."
I corrected the e.t., "No, it is not that which gives life that is
regarded as supreme. Rather it is that which threatens death and
death-beyond-death which rules supreme. It is the 'church', the giver,
liaison, interpreter and justifier of the death realms which is dominant
over life. Chloroplasts are regarded as the lowest form of life since
they do nothing more than provide life for the rest. Therefore,
chloroplasts have little authority beyond their own cell walls."
The e.t. mused, "This is not at all like the movie. Does human virtue
exist outside of cinema fiction?"
I explained, "Human virtue exists outside of church domain."
The e.t. mused some more, "This is all very strange. You seem to
imply that religion, specifically the church, is the universal governing
entity present within all of the Earth's many divergent political
powers. You also imply that the church is not wholly magnanimous.
Yet you say that the church derives power from and exists as a
representative of your deity. Does this mean that the god you worship
is an imperfect or evil being?"
"No," I said.
"The e.t. asked, "How then can your god be good when his
surrogate' order on Earth is not good?"
I answered, "The church made a mistake."
"What mistake?" the e.t. asked.
I replied, "The church had a choice between propagating a selfperpetuating acceptance of universal benevolence, a virtuous
brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity concerned with the truth
and the word of humanity - or to protect itself as an institution. They
chose to justify and secure their acts with the creation of a power
base, illusion."
The e.t. persisted; his red translator light glowing as must have
been his curiosity, "What was the mistake?"
I explained, "Seeking their power illusion, for they had no real
material force, they created god. For in the creation of god, the
church, although having no real power, became the most powerful
and highly placed force of human governance. After the creation of
god the church needed quarters suited for the illusion of their divine
power base and suited for the agents and subalterns within the
hierarchy of church politicals, and suited also to instill a foreboding of
. ancient, instinctual fear. The church built medieval-looking stone
fortress-like castles and called them the temples of god. From the
moment of the laying of the cornerstone of that first church building
and forever more the church has and will continue to protect that
institution of church, while propagating philanthropy willtake second
The e. t. asked, "What was the mistake? The church had to protect
itself. For if the church had been put under, what then of spreading
the word? What then of infiltrating mankind on a global basis, uniting
and bonding humankind?"
I replied, "The word of god was the purported purpose of the
church, therefore marketing of the word should have been, by the
charter of their business, the church's business."
The e.t. asked, "Is spreading philanthropy, given by god, not the
goal of the church?"
I answered, "No."
The e.t. asked, "Why is that?"
I replied, "Because the church does not serve a god. They created
god to be served by him, not to serve him."
The e.t. said, "But certainly you concede the benefits of global
unity, however serviced. If all the attention and investment of the
church had been applied to the word of unity, then the institution
could have, for want, crumbled. Then the word itself would be
threatened. Only a secure church could be certain of indefinite
propagation of the word."
I said, "But the church made another error."
Austin, Texas

The e.t. said, "I have not understood the first error, but do inform
me of this other."
I explained, "In the course of self-preservation and the adaptations
and manipulations necessary for continued survival in an everchanging world, the word was and is being continuously altered and
refitted into current applicability."
The e.t. asked, "Then the church does not proclaim a consistent
word of god?"
I replied, "Consistent only with their interests. Their interest is
survival and on that basis the church uses any means necessary."
The e.t. asked, "And primarily what means does the church find
necessary in their pursuit of survival?"
I said, "Distortion of the word. Interpretation of the word."
The e.t. shuffled his feet in the dust, and his translator glowed red as
it converted his piping squeaks and whistles into English, as he asked,
"How can man change the word of god?"
I answered, "He who writes the word makes the word. The church
wrote the bible, wherein their god came into being."
The e.t., catching on, inferred, "So then from the pen of man came
the word of god?"
"Yes," said I.
The e.t. exclaimed, "This information willindeed make good copy.
Who, male human, are you that I may attribute this story correctly?"
I was a bit confused and my translator glowed red as I averred,
"What matters my name? I am but a man."
The e.t. said, "Journalism has its rules. We wouldn't want anyone
thinking that from the pen of an extraterrestrial came the word of
Puzzled, I queried, "Journalism? I thought you were on an
exploratory type of zoogeographical tour of the galaxy. Weren't you
gathering samples of life in the movie?"
The e.t. replied, "Oh, that wasn't me. That was a member of
another crew. But I suppose we all look alike to you."
I asked, "Then you are not E.T.?"
The e.t. replied, "I am whatever you wish to call me."
I said, "What do you mean?"
The e.t. explained, "As soon as I leave, you may say whatever you
wish to say about me. From the pen of man came the word of god. So
too, then, when I am gone, from the mouth of man willcome the word
of the e.t."
I insisted, "Not all men behave as does the church."
The e.t. said, "But that we can discuss at a later time. For now I
must be going."
I asked, "Where do you go in such a hurry?"
The e.t. answered, "To make an important phone call."
I asked, "Do you phone home?"
The e.t. replied, "I've really got to leave now. My editor is waiting."
I demanded to know, "What's the hurry?"
The e.t. answered, "Deadlines, always copy deadlines and the trip
took longer than expected so I'm really pressed for time."
I pleaded, "I've got questions to ask you. I've answered some of
your questions, can you not spare me some information about
yourself and your world and your people's power structure and
government and religions?"
The e.t. responded, "What makes you think my people have
I asked, "Don't you?"
The e.t. said, "We are intelligent rational creatures."
I asked, "Then what type of global governance do you have?"
The e.t. responded, "I really don't have the time right now to tell
you more."
I said, "Then come back; talk with me again."
The e.t. answered, "Perhaps I will."
I asked, "Why perhaps?"
The e.t. replied, "If my editor likes this copy, perhaps he'll send me
back for a continuation of the story."
The e. t. then took the black translator box from me and gave me a
sort of nodding gesture of his head, which I returned. Then he
boarded his craft and without any noise or fury it was gone. I stood
alone, wondering.

July, 1984


Page 19

Brian Lynch



he origin of religion and the idea of god are buried deep in the
past, and it's difficult to know when early man (or manlike apes)
first invented gods to explain what they could not understand. From
what anthropologists, archaeologists and paleontologists have
discovered, religion, priesthoods and god ideas are very ancient. The
earliest gods were either deifications of dead people or mythologies
developed about animals and natural phenomena (known as
animism). Religious rituals and local tribal gods brought about social
control and some unity to the fearful, ignorant savages' lives. The
advent of religion and the idea of gods and unseen spirits as
controlling forces in nature enabled a caste of priests to rise to power
by pretending that they could "appease," interpret or control the
spirits or gods. This primitive dynamic is the basis for all of the
modern world's religions and god ideas.
With the discovery that humans do not comprise the only species
which possesses "intelligence," or a facility for manipulating environment to suit needs, we wonder if human god ideas are the only
ideas of god. It is known, for example, that dogs dream, dolphins and
whales can be taught to "perform," and that chimpanzees can solve
problems with as many as five "levels of ambiguity" (a level of
ambiguity is defined where an array of possibilities exists. For
example, a test where a reward is under either a round or square
cover on a red or green tray - under square if the tray is red, under
round if the tray is green - presents two levels of ambiguity).
Chimpanzees are of particular interest to humans because 99%of our
structural genes are shared with chimps, and because chimp social
interaction so closely resembles that of humans. Behaviorist Jane
Goodall has devoted years of study to chimp behavior, hoping that it
will reveal or give insights into human behavior. Goodall and her
fellowresearchers report that while the environment in which chimps
thrive is being encroached upon by the rapidly expanding populations
of developing African nations and the commercial interests of
temperate-zone nations, no chimp has ever attacked a human, and
chimps seem to comprehend the hierarchy of human organizations,
deferring more readily to "high-ranking" humans than to "lowerranking" ones.
It is always dangerous to ascribe meanings or attempt interpretations of non-human behavior when one doesn't fullyunderstand
the consciousness or brain capabilities of a non-human. It is tempting
Page 20

July, 1984

to anthropomorphize or oversimplify when describing, and it is easy

to project one's own feelings into a situation, thus substituting
emotions for analysis. But in the early 1970s Goodall's research team
reported an incident which has striking parallels to rituals found in
many human religions.
The report states, "A strange female carrying a young infant
wandered into the territory of the local chimpanzee group. She was
attacked by local males, beaten to the ground, and then stomped on.
The baby was caught beneath its mother and was badly injured. The
males took the infant, killed it, and then passed it around and ate small
parts of it. Then, they looked at each other and passed the bones
around. They formed a rough circle and selected one among them to
take the carcass away. They looked around fearfully and dispersed,
while the one carried the infant's body two miles through the forest
and deposited it on the front doorstep of Jane Goodall's laboratory."
Did the chimps know they were being studied, or did they feel guilt
(or pride)? Do chimps feel guilt or pride? Can the concept of "being
observed, evaluated or studied" pass through the mind of a chimp?
And finally, do chimps regard humans as some sort of gods? Ifso, was
this incident an attempt to appease a god, one of penance, or
something else? Was it simply a random act of senseless violence, or a
response to some undetected cue given by researchers?
It is well known that the earliest forms of human religious
observance involved human sacrifice and cannibalism. As humans
organized into agricultural societies, these human sacrifice/cannibalism rituals were gradually replaced by more abstract symbolic
ones. In animal hunting societies, which tended to be nomadic, animal
sacrifices were used to propitiate the local and tribal gods. In the more
settled agricultural societies, vegetable sacrifices were used instead.
This is documented in many ancient myths, including the biblical one.
The myth of Cain and Abel presents animal sacrifice as more pleasing
to the ancient gods than plant sacrifice, but the survivor (who goes on
to build cities) is the one who plants vegetables. He is also the "one
who shall be feared," presumably because a stable civilization can
raise an army to defend itself and plunder its neighbors. Human
sacrifice and cannibalism are still important parts of the judeochristian religion. The whole christ myth, and the purpose of catholic
church services, is a symbolic eating of the body and drinking of the
blood of a dead human. (In fact, catholic priests say "body of christ"
The American Atheist

when they pass out the wafers.)

It is clear that the idea of god and the whole nature of religion is
based on misinterpretations of data, lack of information about the
universe and erroneous assumptions. The ideas of god which have
persisted throughout human history do not (as religionists claim)
provide evidence that gods are real. Instead, they reveal the ingenuity
of a human mind when applied to self-deception. Lack of knowledge
or understanding give rise to fear. By acting on fear andignorance as if
they were real, one is more likely to engage in inappropriate modes of
behavior than in rational, logical or appropriate ones. By assuming
that all things which we don't understand are the result of unseen
ghosts or spirits, we increase the level of fear without reducing our
ignorance. Out of this fear and ignorance, we act, thus reinforcing our
irrationality by behaving as ifour fears and misconceptions were true.
To ancient humans, and possibly even to manlike apes, the world
must have seemed bewildering and confusing. There was no reservoir
of knowledge and information where someone could go to learn skills
or gain any insight. There was only the limited knowledge of
comparably ignorant tribesmen to draw on. Anyone who may have
thought they had a better idea or thought than the triballeader(s) was
quickly eliminated in primitive societies because they threatened the
little security which members felt.
Rituals developed in ancient societies for three principal reasons.
First, rituals are a symbolic means of communicating knowledge or
information. These rituals may involve the sowing, tending and
harvesting of crops; they may instruct hunters on how to stalk certain
game, or serve some other tribal need. Second, rituals develop as a
means of establishing norms and providing for group activity in a
society. And third, rituals provide structure for and control the
behavior of people, by defining their "role" with respect to the group.
At best, the first type may encourage the right actions, but for the
wrong reasons (i.e., telling people when and where to plant, but
attributing the reason to a god's will). The second and third reasons
are more important because once rituals are established, a theology
must develop to justify the rituals, and to perpetuate the existing
hierarchy. What could be more effective than saying that a god wants,
or has commanded, the particular hierarchy's existence?
Jane Goodall and her research teams have reported that there are
elaborate rituals of the second and third kind found in baboon,
Austin, Texas

chimpanzee and orangutan groups. This finding is important because

it suggests that the god-idea and religion may be a manifestation of
pre human consciousness which is dictated by genes. Itis known, and
has been documented, that predilections for hierarchy, patterned
behavior (ritual) and order are a function, or expression, of that part
of our brain which is similar to the brains of reptiles. Neurologists
even call this part of the human brain the Reptilian Complex. It could
well be that religion and the idea of god are nothing but evolutionary
developments in expression of reptilian "consciousness." What a
stunning blow to religionists and creationists it would be. To think
that all their god talk and religious pontification might be nothing but
the neural workings of snakes, lizards or dinosaurs amplified and
given expression through a human neural apparatus!

". . . predilections for hierarchy, patterned

behavior (ritual) and order are a function, or
expression, of that part of our brain which is
similar to the brains of reptiles .... It could well
be that religion and the idea of god are nothing
but evolutionary developments in expression
of reptilian 'consciousness.' "
Research is needed in this area, but it is not too soon to hazard the
question: Since humans have evolved over millions of years from
apelike creatures (who evolved from more basic mammalian
organisms, and so on), could it be that the god idea, and perhaps
other ideas, also evolved? It is not known whether chimpanzees or
other apes are conscious of or hold any "ideas" at all. But the the
behavior exhibited by such creatures is so strikingly similar to our
own that such possibilities must not be ruled out. ~


Brian Lynch is the Director of the Massachusetts
of American Atheists

July, 1984


Page 21

Steve Penney


his is a story of an outspoken Atheist entertainer of Detroit,

Michigan, whom I met at a meeting of the Detroit Chapter of
American Atheists some time ago. His charisma on stage and off is

Basil Arthur Oliver was born in 1908 in Hayle, Cornwall County, in

the British Isles. Raised as an anglican, Basil rejected it at an early age
and became the freethinking Atheist he is today. His past, though,
deserves an explanation (as do all of ours). He went to Phillack
School, an anglican school, since there weren't any nonreligious
secondary schools around Cornwall in the early twentieth century,
but at age six he refused to leave his seat to go up to the stage to
accept his prize for memorizing anglican lessons. The book he
refused was the story of Daniel in the Lion's Den. They tried to
forcibly bring him to the stage but he stayed seated and yelled "no."
He declined because he'd heard this book summed up in one of his
lessons and despised it, for it mentioned a "fiery furnace." Being a
public spectacle bothered him. They continued to try to force him to
the stage but then he screamed "like bloody murder" in an act of
youthful rebellion, in defiance of tradition. After this display of
. outrage, the teachers backed off. The ceremony continued with the
other children getting their books.
At the time, students in Cornwall were required to attend school
only until the age of fourteen. Basil left school at that time in order to
work in a machine shop. In spite of the times, when World War IIwas
Page 22

July, 1984

being fought, Basil's youth had been fairly typical (except for the
above-mentioned incident). In 1922 the parson came to the house
requesting he be confirmed. Basil declined the request, which led to a
debate in which the parson asked him if he believed in the various
myths or not, and Basil said "No" to all of them! The parson said he'd
be back in a year, hoping Basil would change his mind. Basil used this
year to explore the validity of his views as to why he disbelieved in the
bible's supernatural tales, and in the process he learned what an
Atheist was. The parson returned; but this time the parson was
dealing with a more learned youth. His mother broke up this second
debate, saying, "If he doesn't want to be confirmed, he doesn't want
to be confirmed." Seeing he'd lost the battle, the parson yelled some
abusive comments to him and left in a huff, this time on a one-way trip.
At fifteen, some friends asked him to sing in a free-methodist
church choir. They put on social evenings - nothing to do with
methodism. Basil wanted to sing with them since he had his eye on
some pretty girls in the choir. He consented to do this, but refrained
from joining the church. They accepted him on his terms, due to his
booming baritone voice. Basil had proved himself as a good choir
singer but had gone beyond what they'd expected of him when he
proved (much to the chagrin of the deeply religious folks) that he, an
Atheist and an amateur, could sing an aria from Handel's Messiah. He
did it to prove to the organist that he could do more than "pop." He
also performed in such light operettas as Princess Chrysanthemum,
Dogs of Devon, and The Sleeping Beauty. (Basil is the type of singer
who is more concerned with a song's structure, rhythm and feeling
rather than its content. He grudgingly acknowledges the fact that
many of the classics and standards of today have a religious "bent.")
At age 21 he came to the U.S. Due to the Depression, he
experienced some lean years after his voyage. Basil had the
misfortune to come to the U.S. in 1929. The first place he tried to get
tooling and machine work had one thousand people in line ahead of
him. He tried for a month, queuing up at many other places when luck
struck. He got a job at Chrysler Plymouth division as a production
lathe operator working from six at night until six in the morning, six
days a week. He transferred to the day shift when the midnight shift
was terminated. He could see that the day shift would soon "get the
axe" also, so he quit Plymouth to get work at LeBaron's Custom
Body Shop as bench hand. He was laid off a few months later. (This
happened quite frequently during the early Depression years; you'd
get hired, only to be laid off in a month or two.) This first year for Basil,
who had come to the U.S. to seek better living conditions like many
other immigrants, had turned to disappointment. This first year
proved to be the same as the next three. In 1934 his luck changed; he
was hired by Ford Motor Co. This job he kept until he retired. In 1937

"... at age 6 he refused to ... go up to the stage

to accept his prize for memorizing anglican
lessons .... They tried to forcibly bring him to
the stage but he stayed seated and yelled 'No.'"
he met his one and only wife, Evelyn, to whom he is still happily
married. He now had the time and the money to pursue his musical
interests again through a local young person's society, staging such
plays as H. M. s. Pinafore, and The Pirates of Penzance. In the latter,
Basil played the role of pirate king and Evelyn played the soprano
lead, Mabel. In 1941, the society was going to put on Iolanthe when
World War II interrupted the goings-on by drafting some of the male
leads in their opera. The war effort put to rest the opera scene for the
Olivers. Basil, now 33 and a father, did his part for the U.S. by doing
The American Atheist


All Night," and "The Age of Aquarius." There are other unpaid
regulars (the writer included), but Basil remains the big draw. He'll
come in and stand at the bar, talking to old friends until the crowd
chants his name. He'll pretend not to hear them at first ("Timing is
important"), but then he'll make his entrance into the main room and
drop his overcoat in the lap of a patron (a la Elvis) and proceed to
warm up the audience before he sings. His famous opening is "My
name is Basil Metabolism. I burn, therefore I am. I take my hat off to a
leaf because it's always taking carbon dioxide from body combustion,
liberating two atoms of oxygen and absorbing the carbon atom so
that I can rebreathe the oxygen. If it weren't for foliage we'd end up
dying of asphyxiation, or of laughter!" His most controversial
comment was when he mentioned the catholics belated apology to
Galileo. He called it "the pope's admission of guilt." Though brave,
honest and sarcastic at times, Basil has never been "skinned alive"
because he provides amusing anecdotes besides. He once met
Emmett Kelley, the clown from the Ringling Brothers Circus, at the
Inn and later fixed up a prop for his act - a radiator that opened up
and had a snake jump out. Basil fixed the spring in the mechanism.
Basil has performed with Van Cliburn, the pianist, at Interlochen,
Michigan. They met by accident at a tavern and decided to do
"Without a Song" and others. Only later did Basil find out with whom
he had performed.
For any Michigan Atheists, or vacationing Atheists, the Dakota Inn
Rathskellar in on John R., two blocks north of Six Mile in Northeast
Detroit. They offer good food, German beer, and a paid piano player.
Come in and introduce yourselves to Basil as members of American
Atheists and pull up a chair. He's usually there every Friday and
Saturday night and wears his Atheist pin. ~

machine and die work on tanks, aircraft wings and tail assemblies.
The Olivers eventually had six children and fifteen grandchildren.
Also a fine carpenter, he built his own home and own cottage up in
northern Michigan (which he recently lent to the Detroit Chapter for
a home base for our annual canoe trip).
Basil often debated fellow workmen in Ford's cafeteria when some
of them brought their religious books to proselytise. Once, a
jehovah's witness tried to convert him by telling him of the awesome
power of Jehovah. Basil corrected him, saying that the Hebrew
Jehovah was the same as the Greek Zeus, the Egyptian Amon, and
the Roman Jupiter. All,he said, were myths invented in b.c.m. (before
christian myth) times that tried to explain the actual planet Jupiter.
This great light in the sky caused ancient peoples to worship Jupiter
as a god. These stories evolved into what we have in a.c.m. (after
christian myth) times as stories of gods as men. Basil continued to
debate him (this time with some seventh-day adventists trying to
come to the witness's rescue); this time about some bible "miracles."
The religionists claimed that gawd put a star over christ's manger.
Basil corrected them, saying that the star was actually a comet
mentioned by the Roman historian Pliny. In this and other lunchroom
debates, Basil usually won the admiration of the workers and
foremen. Even his adversaries developed a grudging respect for him.
When Basil retired in 1968, he again found time to star in a musical.
He played the role of Fagan in Oliver. The part required little effort
since he was just playing himself! He joined the Orpheus Club, an
all-male choral group named after the orphics, a musical religious
movement (circa eighth century b.c.m.) dependent on the legend of
the oracle of Orpheus. (Orpheus was the supposed son of a muse, the
word from which we derived our word "music.")
Nowadays, Basil enjoys retirement by spending two or three nights
a week at the Dakota Inn Rathskellar, a pub at which he's been
leading singalongs since 1941. (The place has a history of its own. It
was a debating place for both pro-Axis and pro-American from '39'41. The FBI came around in late '41 to "case the joint." The alert
owners of the Dakota thought it would be a good idea to change some
of its German decor for the duration.) Basil leads the hundred-plus
audience in such standards as "Fiddler on the Roof," "Danny Boy,"
"Oklahoma," "Moon River," "Old Man River," "I Could Have Danced


Steve Penney is a bus-driver by day and a junior at Oakland
University by night. He wishes to be a Management
Accountant eventually, but his first love remains, and will
always be, music. He joined the Detroit Chapter in August, 79,
at the age of 21.


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July, 1984

Page 23

200 YEARS AGO ...
The Encyclopedist and Atheist, Diderot,
died. For more on this man, please see the
article on page 8 of this issue.

150 YEARS AGO ...

On July 10th, 1834, James Abbott MeNeill Whistler was born. The famed painter
first became an aggressive Atheist while
studying art in Paris. It is noted in Armstrong's Reminiscences that Whistler was;
notorious for ridiculing the christian bible
and singing "blasphemous" songs.

100 YEARS AGO ...

The July 5th edition of the Truth Seeker
reported that Bradlaugh, an Atheist, was
once again prevented from taking his seat in
the House of Commons. To quote: "The
indictment against Mr. Bradlaugh on this
occasion was for sitting and voting in the
House of Commons as a member for Northampton, after administering the oath to
himself, and after having been verbally
ejected by the speaker. ... the one iuerdict
- ed.) given only confirms the impression
fast spreading that in England a Freethinker
has no rights the Christian (sic) is bound to
The same edition of the Truth Seeker also
gave an account of how the Catholic Union
and Times, of Buffalo, demanded the legal
suppression of Ingersoll, popularly known
as the "Great Agnostic." The editors commented: "Somehow our pious contemporary doesn't seem to hav (sic) 'caught on to'
the spirit of Americanism, but plods along as
though it were enjoying the times of Philip
the Second and Torquemada, when the
roasting or racking of a few thousand
heretics was only a pleasant diversion for
the faithful."

90 YEARS AGO ...

Fifty Years of Freethought, by George E.
Macdonald, says this about Charles C.
Moore's case of "blasphemy":
"In April a local preacher, the rev. E.L
Southgate, served notice upon Moore that
suit would be filed against him in the civil
court for blasphemy. Two indictments followed, one for 'blasphemy' and the other for
'nuisance and annoyance.' The one was
based on language in his paper of March 18,
1894: 'When I say Jesus christ was a man
exactly like Iam and had a human father and
mother exactly like I had, some of the pious
call it blasphemy. When they say that christ
was born as the result of a BreckinridgePollard hyphenation between god and a jew
woman, I call it blasphemy; so you see there
is a stand-off.'
"Moore's case came up on July 2, on
demurrer, in the circuit court at Lexington,
judge Parker presiding. In a decision that
was a model of secular argument, the court
sustained the demurrer, quashed the indictment, the bail bond, and dismissed the
defendant without delay. The Truth Seeker
printed the decision in full,July 21,1894, and
it is in The Truth Seeker Annual for 1895.
'Blasphemy,' said the judge, 'is a crime
gorwn from the same parent stem as apostasy and heresy. It is one of the class of
offenses designed for the same general
purpose, the fostering and protecting of a
religion accepted by the state as the true
religion, whose precepts and tenets it was
thought all good subjects should observe. In
the code of laws of a country enjoying
absolute religious freedom there is no place
for the common law crime of blasphemy.
Unsuited to the spirit of the age, its enforcement would be in contravention to the
constitution of this state, and this crime
must be considered as a stranger to the laws
of Kentucky."

50 YEARS AGO ...

Meanwhile, the July 3rd issue of The
Index said: "In deference to the yet strong
popular belief in theology and reverence for
the profession of its expounders, theologians, even in this so-called age of science,
are generally selected as figureheads for our
colleges .... We hope that the day is not far
distant when men renowned for their scientific knowledge rather than 'zeal for Christ'
will be at the head of our colleges, and that
the presidents willdeem it part of their duty
to present in their baccalaureates
scientific and philosophic thought of the day
rather than the superstitions which have
descended from past semi-civilized ages."

Page 24

Marie Curie, the co-discoverer of radium,

Nobel Peace Prize winner in chemistry and
physics, and Atheist, died on July 4th at the
age of 66.

25 YEARS AGO ...

The July-August issue of the Progressive
World noted that "The American Ethical
Union has presented to the Armed Services
Committee of the House of Representatives
a resolution opposing the 'Supreme Being'
clause in the Selective Service Act. The
resolution reads, in part, as follows:
'We do, however, as loyal Americans, find
it contrary to the spirit of our treasured
July, 1984

religious freedom that a theistic belief

should be required of a citizen as a condition
of his benefit under the terms of this law, for
our laws should apply equally to all Americans regardless of their religion. We maintain that sincere and conscientious convictions can and do originate in sources
other than theistic belief or religious affiliations ....
'The American Ethical Union therefore
opposes the requirement of belief in a
supreme being as the sole basis for lawful
exemption from military service as a conscientious objector .... ' "

An editorial of that same issue of the

Progressive World said:
"Most people who have grown up beyond
the diaper age must have been amazed
when they read in their newspapers about
the Texas legislators who introduced a bill
into the state assembly to require all public
school teachers to take an oath affirming
their belief in a 'Supreme Being.'
"Of course, it is not to be assumed that all
citizens of this nation under God (sic) have
outgrown the mental habits and attitudes of
childhood. But that men of mature years,
entrusted with the power of making laws in
the interest of the general welfare, should
sponsor such medieval and asinine legislation in this modern age is almost beyond
belief. Ifnot pathological, it is at least a mark
of extreme infantilisrri.
"In the first place, applying a religious test
as a qualification for any servant of the state
... is plainly unconstitutional. Unfortunately, state legislators do not have to pass a test
on the Constitution as a qualification for
"In the second place, the phrase, 'a
Supreme Being,' is too indefinite to convey
any specific meaning common to all. If it is
intended to mean a god; then what god?
whose god? ...
"But the proposed law did not say 'God.'
It did not even say the 'Supreme Being.' It
said only a 'Supreme Being.' Now what in
heaven or earth might that be? ...
"Well, if there is any superior being in the
cosmos, we would like to hear from those
Texas legislators as to where and how and
when they made his acquaintance .... "

The American Atheist


Program #427; originally broadcast 1/21/77

When the first installment of a regularly scheduled, 15-minute, weekly American Atheist radio series on
KTBC radio (a station in Austin, Texas owned by then-president Lyndon Baines Johnson) hit the airwaves
on June 3, 1968, the nation was shocked. The programs had to be submitted weeks in advance and were
heavily censored. The series was concluded on October 18, 1975 when no further funding was available.

verywhere Atheists go in the United States today, they are

treated as unusual new phenomena. Last Sunday my son went to
Houston to speak at the University of Houston there; and on the
followingday an interview appeared in the Houston Post on the front
page - six columns wide with a two-inch high headline - that an
Atheist had been in town. We Atheists cannot understand why there
is this much commotion. There have been Atheists in every age certainly in the United States, and as we view the history of other
nations, there too. Heretofore, of course, to openly say one was an
Atheist brought immediate death where the' religious were in
complete control, or later, when that control was lessened somewhat,
a jailsentence for having the temerity to identify oneself as an Atheist.
Let's look at some of the Atheists in the United States before they
could call themselves that. At the time they were known as
freethinkers; what they believed in was called "freethought"; that is,
they demanded the right to freedom of thinking. That is so
sophisticated that it willprobably go over the heads of the religious
community even now. Who in the world would ever suppose that one
had the right to think freely? What an incredible idea that thought
should be free!
In the United States before we became a nation, the ministers had
an alliance with those of birth and wealth so that all along the Eastern
Coast theocracies were established. This was based on the ideas of
the people in power that the common man could best be controlled by
religion. That idea still flourishes today with some lower mental- level
people of power. In Massachusetts cruel repressive measures were
taken against those who were not of the religion of the ruling class and
its clergy. Particularly these were aimed against the quaker and the
baptist. New Jersey and New York had established episcopal
churches. Religious wars actually raged in Maryland. In Virginia and
Carolina the anglican church was established in such a manner that it
turned our revolutionary fathers from it. Some modified forms of
religious liberty for protestants were finallyestablished 150 years after
the colonies first began to form. But catholics and jews had a hard
time even into the 19th century. Nonbelievers simply were not
permitted to be identified. We know the witchcraft delusions of the
New England clergy.
During the late 17th century and the first half of the 18th century
the idea of deism was raising its timorous head in England, and of
course this was brought to the shores of the United States. Deists
believed in Nature and Nature's laws, Nature and Nature's god, and
were so utterly convinced of it that they wrote it into the Declaration
of Independence, issued with our desire to become a nation separate
from Britain. The deists were antichristian. Apologists may yelp as
they may to rationalize this away, but the god of the Hebrews in the
old testament and the god of the christians in the new testament were
both under heavy fire from them.
With deism developed the idea of rationalism, that religion should
followrational ideas instead of the irrational ideas which the bible and
christianity proclaimed. Now some historians are claiming that there
were radical deists who denied the christian revelation, but in truth all
deists did this, radical or not.
Austin, Texas

During the French and Indian War, Timothy Wyett in his Travels in
New England and New York wrote that "In that army there were
many Infidels. In spite of their professions to the contrary, all Infidels
earnestly wished to make proselytes." Well, now, isn't that a shame!
The thrust of the statement is that only the christians have the right to
that game.
Beginning with the period of the Revolution, deism increased by
leaps and bounds until it reached all sections of the country and the
population. Yet fear was abroad in the land, too. Benjamin Franklin
was in Paris and wanted to sell the idea of America to the French, so
he wrote: "Atheism is unknown there (that is the United States),
Infidelity rare and secret; so that persons may live to a great age in
that country without having their piety shocked by meeting with
either an Atheist or an Infidel." Think about that! This is the great
Benjamin Franklin appealing to the religious that their bigotry, hatred,
and intolerance could become dominant because of the fear of the
Atheist or the Infidel to make his position known.
But Franklin also regarded christianity as necessary in order to
inculcate morality in the lower classes. What he felt himself he
revealed in his autobiography: "I was scarce 15, when after doubting
by turns of several points, as I found them disputed in the different
books I read, I began to doubt revelation itself. Some books against
deism fell into my hands. They were said to be the substance of
sermons preached at Boyle's lectures. It happened that they wrought
an effect quite contrary to what was intended by them, for the
arguments of the deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared
to be much stronger than the refutations. In short, I soon became a
thorough deist.
Jefferson wrote simply, "I am a Materialist, which is the ultimate
Atheist position. In his will General Charles Lee desired not to be
buried in any church or churchyard or within one mile of any
presbyterian or anabaptist meeting-house, declaring that "since I
have resided in this country, I have kept so much bad company when
living that I do not choose to continue it when dead." John Randolph
of Roanoke asserted in 1813 that "I had become a deist and, by
consequence, an Atheist." George Washington's religious opinions
were probably a combination of irreligion and rationalism.
In Mecklenburg County, North Carolina a debating society
flourished for many years. What was outstanding about it was that it
circulated a library of Infidel literature. The College of William and
Mary was regarded as a hotbed of Infidelity and was charged to be
such by a bishop - which reminds us that William F. Buckley leapt to
fame in the United States by charging Yale with the same, At the
University of North Carolina one of the teachers donated a volume of
Thomas Paine's works to the University library. Even today we
cannot get Thomas Paine's religious works into university libraries, as
the stranglehold of religion on our institutions has increased, not
diminished, with time.
Thomas Jefferson's Secretary of War, General Henry Dearborn,
reported to have remarked about the churches, "So long as these
temples stand, we cannot hope for order and good government." At
Princeton in 1782 there were only two students who professed

July, 1984

Page 25

themselves to be christians.
Col. Ethan Allen, the hero of Ticonderoga, wrote the first violently
antichristian book, Reason, the Only Oracle of Man, in 1784. A
decade later Thomas Paine's Age of Reason, published in 1794,
became a sensation. The thrust of the book is an attack on
christianity, and it is more difficult to obtain it today in the United
States than in 1794. At one point 15,000 copies of it were shipped from
France in April, 1796 to Philadelphia, consigned to Benjamin Franklin's grandson. It was a bestseller throughout the country then.
Freethought lecturers, societies and periodicals began to appear.
One of the most widely known organizers of these lectures was a
Connecticut Yankee, Elihu Palmer. He attempted to organize
deistical societies; but although men of position and wealth secretly
professed deism, or openly professed it within their own rank, they
did not desire to have the common man accept it. This is shown in
some of the political documents of the time. The Constitution of New
Hampshire noted specifically:
"Morality and piety rightly grounded on evangelical principles will give the best and greatest security to government
and willlay in the hearts of men the strongest obligations to due
One would think that the free men and women of New Hampshire
would erase this hypocritical and insulting admonition from their
Constitution, but it is today still contained therein. Palmer spoke in
New York, in Philadelphia, and where he could with lectures publicly
ridiculing bible stories, continuing this activity from about 1790 to
about 1805.

"Freethought lecturers, societies and periodicals began to appear. One of the most
widely known organizers of these lectures was
a Connecticut Yankee, Elihu Palmer ....
Palmer spoke in New York, in Philadelphia and
where he could . . ., continuing this activity
from about 1790 to about 1805."
In Newburg, New York a society organized in 1799 is reported by
religious historians to have burnt the bible, administered baptism to
dogs and cats, given the lord's supper to animals, and mimicked
numerous religious rites. The religious historians (and we are
rightfully always wary of them) say that this did not go unpunished, for
some were hung for murder, others shot or drowned, two destroyed
themselves by intemperance, one was eaten by dogs and another by
hogs. That's a likely story, isn't it!
One of the principal ideas which the deists or the rationalists or the
infidels espoused was that of divorcing the idea of morality from
religion. The religious historians, as I have just indicated, showed in
every way they could that morality was a handmaiden of religion, and
that only persons who would be eaten by hogs themselves or who
"destroyed themselves by intemperance" could advocate an irreligious or nonreligious life philosophy.
Palmer was good at this. He stole my theme from me by advocating
it a hundred years before I was born! He denounced religion as the
work of ambitious, designing, and fanatic men and declared that
religion was simply the means of keeping man in ignorance and under
the domination of royal butchers and ecclesiastical impostors. He
saw evilnot as the work of the devil, but as something created by man
since evil was due to ignorance. He believed that if there were an
adequate education given to every man, men would livea rational and
humane existence. And here I am over a hundred years later with the
same theme, and I never heard of Palmer before.
Of course, the French Revolution occurred about the end of the
18th century, and the clergy in the United States seized upon the
event, charging that all the horrors of the bloodshed there were
caused by the Infidel. The clergy scared hell out of the ruling class of
the United States. From the pulpit came a flood of arguments, abuse,
and threats to the rationalists, the deists, the freethinker; and the
Page 26

July, 1984

ruling class quickly moved to support an evangelical reaffirmation of

christianity. Revivals, camp-meetings, and church attendance were
urged and encouraged for the working man, for the common man, for
the farmer, frontiersman and the laborer. The poor freethinkers were
unorganized and underfinanced. They were fighting against the
established order which saw them as a threat when their doctrines
were spread to the working-class people who needed to be
controlled. The upper classes did not succumb to the revivals; wealth,
education, and power have little need for the tool of religion used
against the poor.
In the South with the slave system, literal interpretation of the bible
which supported slavery was a need of economic life.The upper class
felt that skepticism was the privilege of the well-born. There was no
need to share it. It is tragic for the United States that as time
continued men of the upper classes fell victim to the propaganda
which they used to control the lower classes. The Mellons, the
RockefeUers, the Adamses, the Fords are all now safely in the camp of
the religious - the christian - victims of their own utilization of this
terrible philosophy of life.
However, freethought did not die out, then or ever. In the early
1820s there were fragmented groups, small publications, and by 1820
it was able to liftitself by its bootstraps to again present an organized
front. This new movement was concentrated in the cities, and found
most of its recruits from among the lower class radicals, but there was
always a sprinkling of well-to-do reformers who financed, partially and
irregularly, some of their work. What the religious thought of this is
reflected by one minister who wrote, "Open Infidelity has descended
in the narrow streets and lanes of the large cities and towns where it
finds the ignorant and the vicious." Here I thought that the message of
jesus christ was to the poor in the narrow streets and lanes of the large
cities and towns; but I guess that really the religious are not interested
in the slums. The people there have no money. ~



The American Atheist

Accomplishments. There is nothing moral, fair or just about most christians. They use the christian moral code to intimidate others and
"ideally" seek to destroy others with it. In short, they use the christian moral code to set up a system of non-merit competition which rewards
appearances of morality, rather than rewarding ability, performance and the kind of merit which adds something in the way of progress to our
Accomplishments, not "moral smokescreens," should stand for merit and garner rewards, ifwe are to grow as individuals and progress as a
society and a species. This is the only way to test and establish any kind of rational morality that will benefit everyone. Ronald B. Zei:

An Old Indian Fable. A young man once stumbled into an Indian village. "Help me!" he cried. "I am a christian."
"Prove it," said one of the Indians.
The young man promptly shot him dead, raped his wife, and burned up his tepee. The frightened Indians ran off to tell their chief what had
'That was no christian," their chief informed them. "A real christian would have killed all the rest of you, stolen your land and then, yes then,
claimed you were the savages.
Moral: Organizations and individuals should be judged by their practice rather than their platitudes. John B. Denson

Effective Action. Quotation from the catholic bishops' letter to end nuclear war (see American Atheist, Feb. 1984, article and analysis of letter
by Dr. O'Hair): "We for the cause of peace commit ourselves to fast and abstinence on each Friday of the year. We call upon our people to do
penance on Friday by eating less food and by abstaining from meat. Every Friday should be a day significantly devoted to prayer, penance and
alms-giving for peace."
TRANSLATION: We for the cause of peace commit ourselves to an institution for the insane (where we'll be out of the way and then there'll
be a real chance for peace in this world). We call upon our people - the rest of you can fend for yourselves - to look sinful and skinny on one
day of the week. (This is always Friday, when there's nothing like a good fish fry to get you in the mood to think of god and the end of the world.
Besides, you won't feel so bad starvin' on Friday in case you don't like fish, if you know it is close to the big after-mass Sunday dinner which
should make up for the lack of favorite foods on Friday.)
Sorry about that long-winded digression, but that's our business for you -lottsa words. Now back to Chapter I, verse 1, line 6, ending with
the word "week" - And pep up the fish biz by layin' off meat (but only for that one day 'cause our boss may own stock in a salami company or
Polish sausage factory now). As for those other six days, suit yourself - and aren't you glad you're not jewish? That bacon goes mighty good
with eggs at after-mass Sunday brunch.
But the holiest thing you black and white sheep can do for peace is to watch for our fourth (fifth and sixth) coming drive to raise alms (for
dummies, that means lottsa mazoola, not what you have stickin' out either side of your shoulders). You know, our funny kind of language
always gives our begging business class and distinction - and after all we're very classy and distinctive guys - 'specially when we get dressed
up for our Sunday shows in Liberace-like capes and hats with precious jeweled candelabras and drinking cups sparkling all around us. Hmm,
wonder where he got his decoratin' ideas from? Anyway, you know what willhappen in a nuclear war and you can't say we didn't tell you what
to do to stop it. Just because god slipped up and gave a great gift of this bomb to us (see rants and raves of our gal Phyllis Schlafly on this"), that
doesn't mean we are not obligated to do his dirty work and get rid of it.
So don't worry ifhe seems a little on the deaf and dotty side from listening to trillions and trillions of prayers for thousands of years - and he
missed hearin' all of them. Let's allpull together and give him one more chance 'cause this is gonna be our last one, and don't you forget it when
we pass that collection plate around (twice) to pay for the privilege of talking to god direct and for all the work we do to set up this direct line to
heaven from our beautiful buildings with fancy high steepled antennas in every (preferably rich) neighborhood.
Oh, this is not all we have to say about such an important event as the end of the world. We'll be readin' and writin' more letters - and most
important, doin' our arithmetic when we add up what's in those collection plates. But don't worry if you miss any more letters. They won't be
much different since we haven't had a new thought in our heads or a solution to any problems you've got since we were a cozy cult livin' in the
catacombs; but you can be proud of the progress we have made with allyour sacrifices in giving so much of your money to us so that our simple
cult (which those dumb pagans called weird) could climb out of those dirty, damp catacombs into grand cathedrals where we can pray in the
proper atmosphere befitting our high station in lifeand where it is more comfortable to be able to ask god to help those poor starving people in
the world. Please, you poor moms and pops in South America, Central America, Mexico, Italy, Spain, United States, etc., we'll get to you as
soon as possible; just give us another eight hundred or more years.
So, so long for now and may god bless, and remember you can always bank on (or with) us. Sincerely, The Good God Guys. Louise Bra!
*"The atomic bomb is a marvelous gift that was giLJento our country by a wise god." - Phyllis Schla!ly
Austin, Texas

July, 1984

Page 27


omething has been bothering me for a long time.

Recently, once again, I was riled while viewing that magnificently inept TV mini-extravaganza, The Last Days of Pompeii
(ABC-TV, May, 1984). I had hoped to see something that at least
resembled a semi-factual, documentary-style reenactment of those
bizarre yet colorful days. You can imagine my bitter disappointment!
Here, once again, was presented the usual "good-guys/bad guys"
melodramatic garbage tinged with "illicitromance," beautifully jiggled
shimmy-dancing, perverted cruelties, and of course mooning slop
that abounds in any prochristian production. I am convinced that
history has been dealt an unpardonable low blow by ABC.
However, it was not the quality of the production that disturbed
me. I am accustomed to seeing various and sundry film flops on
commercial TV! What disgusted me was that recurring, tear-jerking
plot wherein "poor christians" are mercilessly fed to the lions. Did it
really happen? What I mean to say is, did the persecution really
happen as depicted, and in the classical manner that" good" christian
writers would have us believe? I have tried to find evidence, through
conventional research texts, to support the contention that women,
children, invalids, senior-citizens, and all were served up to a herd of
half-starved feline beasts. I found none! What I did find was a few
vague lines - a sentence or two - that made reference to "the
torture of christians" and that "a man could be condemned to the wild
beasts in the arena." These phrases are included in Vol. 4 (Macropedia) of the 1977 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica on page 635
under the article, "Circus - Roman Origins."
A word of caution at this point: please do not interpret my use of
quotations taken from the 1977 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica as
a blanket endorsement for those volumes as being totally reliable and
accurate recounts of "religious history," for they, as have many other
works, become so replete with biased favoritism of certain philosophical opinions (religion in particular) that they should be perused with
guarded skeptical analysis. A particular case in point, which I noted in
past articles, pertains to the alleged "life" of Jesus. You willfind there,
mentioned within a single essay, inconsistencies which are quite
obvious to any cautious reader. There are admissions that proofs of
an actual historical character - jesuchrist - do not exist. It is even
pointed out therein that certain writings, allegedly done by Josephus,
seem to be forgeries. Yet, the same essay may continue to speak of
"Jesus' life," his "teachings," etc., in a manner that is intended to lead
the reader to accept that the character was real!
When reading such material it is imperative that the reader take
into account the gross bastardization of historical writings and/or
events that has occurred over the last several thousand years. So
Page 28

July, 1984

flagrant have been the violations of truth that it is extremely difficult to

reconstruct a true analysis of cultural degeneracy due to religious
domination of written materials.
Nevertheless, I find it rather amusing that such an impressive
publication as Encyclopedia Britannica, even with its pro-christian
propagandized information, seems to be quite contrary in its mention
of "lions vs. christians."
There are several points that now lead me to suppose that the
so-called "widespread practice" of feeding christian women and
children to the lions never really took place - at least not in the
manner that bible-thumpers and wildly imaginative fiction writers
would have us believe.
Point one seems to lie in the fact that Rome, in all its questionable
illustriousness, was very much a patriarchal society. This, to me,
represents a strong environment of machismo. True, in a religious
sense Romans sallied between gods and goddesses; but when it came
to the human aspect of things, women were women and men were
As violent as the times might have been two thousand years ago,
there was a certain societal respect for women in the Roman culture.
By no stretch of the imagination would Iimply that the ERA was up for
passage in those days - it certainly was far from that! Yet women and
and families seemed to command a certain, shall we say, "guarded
position" in the community. Please use caution before forming any
pro or con opinions to this fact. I might suggest that you read a
considerable amount of explicit material regarding society in early
Rome. You may find male/female/child interrelationships at that time
quite interesting.
At any rate, the events that led to the activities in Rome's Coliseum
and! or other Roman amphitheaters (including, I presume, Pompeii an
performances) seemed to have originated as far back as the ancient
Greek hippodrome and had the Olympian flair. The motif was that of
various physical contests - some violent, but many non-violent.
Chariot-racing and nautical pageants (in which- the arena was
flooded) were common. However, according to Encyclopedia
Britannica, "Spectacles other than chariot-racing were sometimes
produced. During the reign of Augustus (27 b.c. - 14 a.d.) 3,500 beasts
are said to have been killed, and under Nero (in the first century a.d.)
the torture of christians was an added attraction at the Circus
Caligulas." (I mentioned part of this quotation earlier as the only
reference to the word "christians" that was included under the topic,
"Circus - Roman Origins.") Britannica continues, "the dominant
theme was the slaughter of animals and men. Gladiators, who had
first appeared in 264 b.c. and were outlawed in 404 a.d., were among
The American Atheist

the most popular performers." Note here that there is no mention of

the slaughter of christians as a "popular" item in the performances.
The slaying of men and animals was favored -not women and/or
Exaggerated stories of "persecution" have always been persistent
and commonplace in religious writings. They probably always willbe
so long as religionists persist in annihilating their adversaries. But why
should one religionist's bleeding-heart tales be held significant over
another's.? Let's now turn the clock forward a bit. Let's ponder a
word, "Inquisition." During this time span it was not the christian
bleeding-heart but rather the christian butcher who was predominant. This era is well documented, not only in "Rome," but
throughout Europe and the entire Mediterranean area. Christian
.atrocities spared no one - man, woman or child! Such christianoriented brutality was rampant even in a colony which would
eventually become part of the "good ole U.S. of A."
But, to get back to my story about christians and lions, it appears to
me that what has actually happened is an intentional perversion of
historical events. Christian "historians" (I use the term with a
knowing smile of irony), realizing well the extent of their maniacal
conduct during the rise of early christianity, and aided by their
extensive destruction of legitimate archives and documented
reference works, have simply rewritten a Mickey Spillane version of
how the "poor christians" were so "badly treated" by everyone who
was nonchristian. The tragedy is that during my naive, earlier years,
they had me believing it!A worse tragedy is that millions of other naive
people still believe it - to this day!
At any rate, there is evidence that men killed men, men killed
beasts, and beasts killed men (not necessarily in that order) and that
killingwas quite a "fun thing" in old Rome. But I have been unable to
verifythat children, or other totally defenseless persons, were treated
as they were in Last Days of Pompeii. Unless such an incredible
isolated incident could have occurred at the pleasure of a madman
such as Nero was said to have been, I do not feel that people, then or
now, regarded women or children as "gladiators" or as a regularly
featured main dish for lions in their seemingly treasured amphitheater
sporting events.
For point two let's look at the word "christian" itself. What do you
see? some middle-aged guy in a polyester suit, half choked by a
ridiculously colored necktie, followed obediently by a starry-eyed,
stereotyped Stepford wife and with an indeterminable number of
freshly washed and starched kids either hanging on them or hovering
nearby? Can't you just see them now - boogieing on up to the little
white church of christ on the corner? That's the classic view of
christianity in the U.S. today - "real American."
The Encyclopedia Britannica says something quite different about
first century a.d. christians. To be exact, it says (on page 974, Vol. 2,
Macropedia, 1977 edition, subtopic "Eastern Orthodoxy"), "The first
Christians were Jews, and they worshipped along with other Jews in
the synagogue. The earliest Gentile converts also attended the
synagogue. When Christians met outside the synagogue, they still
used its liturgy, read its Bible, and preserved the main characteristics
of synagogue worship. Every historic liturgy is divided into (1) a
Christian revision of the sabbath service in the synagogue and (2) a
celebration of Jesus' Last Supper with his disciples as a fulfillment of
the Passover and a new covenant with a newly redeemed people of
It continues, "For over 100years (emphasis added) Christians had
no authorized New Testament, the Old Testament being read, as had
been done previously, in the worship service. By the middle of the 2nd
century, (emphasis added) however, Christian writings also were
read in the Sunday service."
Hmmm! It seems that the christians which Nero fed to the lions
were actually only confused jews who differed only in that they
thought the messiah had "done come and went." What I'm getting at
is that at the particular time during which all of those poor mistreated
hordes of good christian men, women and children were supposed to
have been being nutritional supplements for Rome's royal menagerie,
there was no prominent christian religion! There were only disjointed,
Austin, Texas

weird groups of deviant jewish superstitionists who had, because of

mythological stories regarding an alleged jesuchrist, become disenchanted with orthodox jewry. Essentially, widespread christianity
did not develop until several hundred years after the time period of
Pompeii's prominence and ultimate destruction in 79 a.d. And, as the
encyclopedia points out, christians were merely radical or rebellious
jews that no longer felt like waiting for "salvation by the grace of
Jehovah" so they decided that he had already been here. I find that
amusing! It almost seems cruel now to tell them that (1) he "ain't"
come yet and (2) he "ain't" ever coming.
Point three must be obvious to all Atheists. The biggest liars in the
world are, in general, religionists, and in particular judeo-christians.
Their preposterous stories are so numerous and so conflicting that
even they can't keep them straight! There have been cults formed out
of other cults to the extent that thousands of pages would be required
to index all of them. Which ones survived? The most bloodthirsty
among them, of course. If someone does not believe your lie annihilate them! Ask the Indians. How could any unwary culture
endure the atrocities of judeo-christians? And, when a cultural
community is wiped out, even to the destruction of its written history,
it is quite simple for the new culture to change that history to suit its
twisted intent. Who will ever know differently? And who would dare
to commit heresy when faced with torture, imprisonmentand death!
Would today's judeo-christians, under the religio-political thumb of
Rabid Ronnie, dare to acknowledge that Moscow, the capital of that
"evil empire," the U.S.S.R., is still referred to as "the third Rome,"
seat of orthodox christianity after the fall of Byzantium to islam (See
Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 4, Macropedia, page 469, "Moscow as
the Third Rome"). Wouldn't that just muss Ronnie's greasy-kid-stuff
hairdo. I also find it quite interesting to note that the Muscovite word
"Tsar" literally translates to "Caesar," the hierarchical champion of
Rome, and that the Britannica's writers have acknowledged Moscow
also as the "new Byzantium," and thus a major factor in preserving
the practice of judeo-christianity in the East.
Point four: It seems that most folks intentionally disregard the
subversiveness of the judeo-christian tactic of using sympathy to
advantage. Consider the history of it. The jews have historically used
the issue of anti-jew (or more currently "anti-semitism") as a ruse to
camouflage their own acts of antisocial behavior by pointing out
similar cruelties of other religious factions. It is not a new practice. It
preceded christianity. From a pro-jewish standpoint, one would think
that judaism was the only mistreated religion in history. They have
"had to flee" from every neighboring culture around them. Most
prominent of the stories was probably concerned with the "evil
pharaoh." The fact remains, though, that all religions have claimed
persecution at the hands of contra-religionists - the jews and judeochristians are simply masters of the art. So are some small children.
How better to receive attention and pampering than to induce a
feeling of sympathetic guilt in the mind of a somewhat unattentive

"... at the time during which all of those poor

mistreated hordes of good christian men, women and children were supposed to have been
being nutritional supplements for Rome's royal
menagerie, there was no prominent christian
religion! There were only disjointed, weird
groups of deviant jewish superstitionists ... "
Psychologically, this ruse is very effective, but only if used on a
(generally) humane and caring victim. It worked so well, in fact, that
the early judeo-christians used it on their own religious contemporary
cohorts, the jews. Recall how the nasty jews and the barbaric Romans
"conspired" in the slaying of their beloved savior. Actually, and as is
commonly known to intelligent people, that story was hogwash also.
Later converts to christianity, in the usual ignorance displayed by all
religionists, were unaware that the stories of one-sided persecution

July, 1984

Page 29

were exaggerated hoaxes.

Even so, there stillremains that galvanizing bond between christian
and jew - Jehovah, "the one and only god." This was the real rub
between early judeo-christians (jewish radicals) and the Romans.
Roman religion was polytheistic. The idea of one (supreme) god was
contrary to the culture and thus heretical. Whether the concept was
jewish or judeo-christian was of little consequence. Now, however,
the" christian" was a "poor mistreated outcast" even in his own judaic
evolutionary circle. Pity and sympathy would need to be called upon
even more so. The gimmick still works. Look at the situation in more
modern Middle Eastern relationships. Even the mohammedans, also
a monotheistic religion, are considered a savagely brutal society
simply because there arose a great socio-religious contest in the
choice of prophet-savior. Obviously, if christianity is to survive, jew
and christian must ally themselves and judaism must necessarily
survive also. But, let's suppose that some new polytheistic religion
was to somehow appear upon the scene as it existed in the days of old
Rome. What kind of reception would it receive at the hands of the
combined terrorist factions of islamic, jewish and judeo-christian
insanity. Obviously, it would experience the same jealous hatreds as
did the original ancient polytheism of Rome.
Lying, cheating, deception and hatred are the properties of all
religions. Movie moguls have generated fortunes by playing faction
against faction. The idea of "feeding a child to a lion" is a real
emotional stinger that works beautifully on a public that is already
oriented to hate opposing religious viewpoints. Every government in
history, from kings to congresses, knows this. Anyone who wants to
make a buck has used this lever and for as long as religious societies
have existed.
A concluding question stands paramount in my mind; where are
those cruel polytheistic Romans today? Who really won in the Roman
arenas - the lions or the (jewish) christians? Ifthe lions really gobbled
up all the christians, as we are continually told by the historical fiction
writers, then who gobbled up the Romans? You can bet your sweet
crucifix on one thing, there aren't any pagans around to tell their side
of the story!
But now, to end my little story on the bright side, do you know
which movie was the biggest money-loser of them all? I was delighted
when I learned that it was none other than that big-budget,
superextravaganza, The Greatest Story Ever Told. It lost millions of
$$$. And, can you imagine, I learned that while watching TV! Chalk
one up for us "heathens"!
If, by some slight chance, the statements included herein have
aroused your curiosity a bit concerning christian martyrdom, I invite
you to investigate further. You might wish to acquire from American
Atheists a cassette tape of program #50 of the American Atheist
Radio Series, entitled "Christian Martyrs." Or you can read the
written version of the same in the publication What On Earth Is An
Atheist, page 261, also available from American Atheists. But one
thing is sure - don't believe what you see in the movies. ~

The "common sense" man of Atheism, Mr. Tholen is the

product of the Gulf Coast marshes of Texas. When he's not
slaving over the American Atheist as its Assistant Editor, he's
writing poetry for an Atheist movement to be proud of.

The telephone listings below are the various message services
where you may listen to short comments on state/church
separation issues and/or viewpoints originated by the Atheist

Tucson, Arizona
Orange, California
S. Francisco, California
Denver, Colorado
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Tampa Bay, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Central Illinois
Des Moines, Iowa
Lexington, Kentucky
New Orleans, Louisiana
Boston, Massachusetts
Detroit, Michigan
Reno, Nevada
Northern New Jersey
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Portland, Oregon
Houston, Texas
Salt Lake City, Utah
Northern Virginia
Virginia Beach; Virginia
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Schenectady. New York

Page 30

July, 1984

(512) 458-5731
(602) 623-3861
(714) 974-7110
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The American Atheist





That sound we just now hear ringing is an old song been

playing all our lives.
It comes scr.atching on my eardrum like an old tomcat:
want out
won't wait.
My sisters, how long willwe call with lowered eyes and silent
cries to one another?
How long will we give answer in the dark with doors locked,
leaving by back, whispering goodbye to "just friends."
Get the point?
We can never claim what we are nor know what it gives,
Tillwe raise our eyes to meet the call and cry silent no more.



But now, know the cost before you try.

Do it by one and join our sisters of the outposts. They in there
now, up early every morning pressing grey uniforms flat.
Some forgot why they fought.
. And us out here gumming up our own bathrooms for some
thick-eyed woman to clean up.



Someday be so many gun ked up bathrooms, never be enough

Comet to go around.



Or we can keep silent and wait for the biggest blast or maybe, if
we lucky, we die before. One by one.
Around our tombstone they gather and say, "Yeah, things is
getting bad. But wasn't she a good girl? Kept her dishes
and her nose clean, And we sure that when she drawed
her curtains down, she just be watching TV."



Wheels keep rolling on and over us. But we used to pain and
we can't see who to blame, so we smile and say, "OK"
(No teeth. Done give them up for the kids or else had them
knocked out.)
And who listens to a flabby-lipped old woman with no bite
BANG! CRY LOUDLY! That last door slamming
come soon,
last long.
That sound we hearing is the resurrection chorus and this is
the song:
Wake up Dead Sisters and die early no more!



Paula Lawson
Austin, Texas

Reggie Ball
July, 1984

Page 31



by Josephine K. Henry
This article is an excerpt from the February 16, 1902 edition of the Blue Grass Blade,
a newspaper published in Lexington, Kentucky by Charles C. Moore from 1894 to 1909.
(Moore died in 1906.) Charles Moore was an adamant and outspoken Atheist and, being an ex-protestant
minister, was especially antichristian. In view of the circumstances concerned with contemporary social
conditions at the turn of the century, Moore can be regarded as one of the true Atheist Masters. For more
information about Mr. Moore, see the April or August, 1984 issues of the American Atheist magazine .
.Josephine K. Henry was an outspoken Atheist who regularly contributed to the BlueGrass Blade.
There is no assertion more frequently made and emphasized than
that the present advanced and elevated position of woman is due
entirely to the christian religion.
This claim has been made so often that it passes current as fact,
and the mass of women never think of questioning it.
Yet there are two sides to every question. It sometimes happens
that even the theologian and historian in their enthusiasm are long on
assertion and short on proof.
It is a matter of fact that the nations which treat women with the
most consideration are all civilized nations. These questions then
naturally arise: Have the teachings of the bible advanced or retarded
the emancipation of women?
Has the bible teaching dignified or degraded the mothers of the
If the condition of woman is highest in christian civilization, is it
christianity or is it civilization which has accorded to woman the most
Christianity means belief in the tenets laid down in a book called the
bible, claimed to be the word of god.
Civilization means the state of being refined in manners, from the
grossness of savage life, and improved in arts and learning.
If civilization is due entirely to the teachings of the bible, then as
claimed woman owes to christianity all the consideration which she
After studying the bible, the history of the christian religion and
other religions for years, and giving deep thought to the subject, we
claim that woman's advancement is due to civilization, and that the
bible has been a bar to her progress.
It is true that woman receives most consideration in so-called
christian nations, but this is not due to bible.religion, but is due to the
mental evolution of humanity, stimulated by climate, and by soil, and
the intercommunication of ideas through modern invention.
All the christian nations are in the North temperate zone, whose
climate and soil are better adapted to the development of the race
than any other portion of the globe.
Christianity took its rise in thirty degrees North latitude.
Mohammedanism took its rise in the torrid zone; and as it made its
way North it advanced in education, in art, in science, and invention,
until the civilization of moslem Spain far surpassed that of christian
Europe; and as it retreated before the christian sword from the fertile
valleys of Spain into the arid plains of Arabia it retrograded, after
giving to the world some of the greatest scientific knowledge and
invention .... (original copy illegible - ed.) ... In the United States
women receive more consideration, and are being emancipated more
rapidly than are the women of Europe. Christianity holds iron sway,
while in the United States the people are free to accept or reject its
In the United States, out of a population of 76 millions, but 25
millions have accepted it, and a large percentage of these are
foreigners from christian Europe and children who have not arrived at
the years of discretion.
Page 32

July, 1984

The consideration extended to woman does not depend on the

teaching of the bible, but upon the mental and material advancement
of the men of a nation.
If it can be proven that bible teaching inspired men to explore and
to subdue new lands, to give to the world inventions, to build ships,
railroads, telegraphs, and telephones, to open mines, to construct
foundries and factories, and to amass knowledge and wealth, then the
bible has been woman's best friend; for she receives most consideration where men have liberty of thought, and of action, have
prospered materially, builded homes and have bank accounts.
In christian Russia, Spain, Italy and Germany, a large percentage of
the able-bodied men are either soldiers bearing deadly weapons, or
priests wielding the sword of theology. Only women and old men and
children seem to be humanely and usefully employed. The women of
these christian lands are pathetically submissive, patient, and subdued, performing drudgery too heavy for human being to perform,
many of them mothers or soon to become such. All over christian
"It was once the fashion to plow, .
With a woman and a cow.
And the woman pulled her share
And never did falter
But those good old times have flown
And we're now compelled to own
That the woman has contrived
To slip her halter."

But there is no record on the face of the earth that priest with the
bible in his hand ever helped woman to slip her halter.
Yet bible religion flourishes in all these lands like a green bay tree.
The women in the slums of christian London and New York receive
no more consideration than the women in the slums of Pekin, Hong
Kong and Bombay.
If the nations which give the most consideration to women do so
because of their christianity.. then it logically follows that the more
intensely christian a class or individual may be, the greater consideration willbe shown their women.
The most intensely christian people in christendom are Negroes,
yet it is an incontrovertible fact that Negro women receive less
consideration, and are more wronged and abused than any class on
the earth.
The women of the middle and upper classes in the bible lands
receive consideration just in proportion to the amount of intelligence
and worldly goods possessed by their male relatives, while the pauper
classes are abused, subjected and degraded in proportion to the
ignorance and poverty of the men of their class.
The church is the channel through which bible influence flows.
Has the church ever issued an edict that woman must be equal with
man before the canon or the civil law?
Throughout christendom woman is today a silenced subject before
her ecclesiastical and civil lawgivers. Any church councilor national
or state legislature in christendom would spurn the idea of consulting
with women. None of these are yet wise enough to recognize the fact
The American Atheist

quite an element in our civilization. Women are the daughters, 'wives

that the force which impels woman to demand her human rights is the
the mothers of this element.
irresistible force of evolution, and the tide that rises highest against
this force is ecclesiasticism. Upon woman's success or failure
The press bears testimony to the fact that the crimes against
depends man's own position, the future progress of the human race,
women are as frequent, and more atrocious, than any in the calendar.
Add to this the tens of thousands of women who appeal to divorce
and the perpetuity or decay of the American Republic. Allthings have
courts for release from the cruelties and wrongs they suffer, and the
been tried in the history of the world to stay the decay of nations
consideration and protection christianity claims to extend to women
except this one thing, the development of all that is best in woman,
is not so apparent. Yet all this is going on in the very centers of
"The eternal feminine leaders go onward forever." The faith-laden
woman can never do this, but the woman who is a clear and robust
christian civilization.
reasoner is what the world needs today.
The Chinese women have their feet compressed, but unlike
If this American nation fails to cultivate and utilize the mental and
christian women, they do not need their feet to give broom drills or
moral forces in its womanhood, in the future another Gibbon willarise
skirt dances for the "benefit of the church."
who musing amidst the crumbling arches of the Capitol at WashThe child wives of India need to be rescued and protected, but no
ington willwrite of the decline and fall of the American Republic.
more than thousands of adult wives in christian lands need protection
Has the church ever issued an edict that woman's thought should
from drunken and brutal husbands.
be incorporated in creed or code; that she should own her own body
The heathen wife seeks death on her husband's funeral pyre, but
and property in marriage, or have a legal claim to her children born in
the christian wife is often sent to death by a bullet in her brain, or a
knife at her heart. 3,841 wives were murdered in the U.S. in the 1900th
wedlock, which christianity claims is a "sacrament" and one of the
"holy mysteries"? It sometimes happens in christian lands that
year of christian civilization. Yet who ever heard of the christian
marriage instead of being a "sacrament" is a sacrifice, and instead of . clergy instituting a crusade against wife murder?
being a "holy mystery" is an unholy misery.
It has been asserted from the pulpit that "woman's ballot is
Women too are securing higher education, but they have fought
unknown except where the gospel of christ has mellowed the hearts
the battle for themselves and battered down the doors of colleges and
of men until they became willing to do women justice?"
Justice through the ballot has been accorded fully to the women
Did the church ever demand that woman be educated beyond the
only in Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Utah and as far away as New
cookbook, and the bible, and that interpreted for her?
It may be said religious denominations have schools for women.
In these states the people are honest, industrious, and law-abiding,
True but they never did have them until the educational influence of
but the influence of religion, according to religious statistics, is so
the world propelled by freethought forced them to it.
small it would take a search warrant to find it, while Utah is full of
The education in religious schools today is to teach woman that she
mormons, which all other types of christians would exterminate, and
is an inferior and subject creature, and above all she must have faith
New Zealand is a convict dumping ground for christian nations. In
without asking any questions about the religious tenets taught, and
regard to New Zealand this strange phenomenon presents itself to the
give her devotion and best efforts to the church. The female
world that these people who have sprung from the loins of transcongregations attest the influence of this teaching. It propels the very
ported convicts are the first in the history of the race to erect a nation
lifeblood of christianity.
without rebellion, revolution, war, or compulsion. These people are
No institution in modern civilization is so unjust to woman as the
attacking and giving solutions to the complex governmental and
christian church.
social problems that have baffled the great christian nations of the
It demands everything from her and gives her nothing in return.
earth, building an ideal commonwealth and becoming the torch
The history of religion does not contain a single suggestion for the
bearer for the world into a grander civilization than the world has ever
equality of woman with man.
Yet it is claimed that women owe their advancement to the bible.
These few exceptions are the extent of justice to woman after the
It would be quite as true to say that they owe their improved
influence of the gospel of christ has "mellowed" the hearts of men for
condition to the almanac or to the Vernal Equinox.
1900 years. A monster petition of 50,000 names will be presented to
Under bible influence christian history bears testimony that
the Ohio legislature asking that the women of Ohio be granted the
woman has been burned as a witch, sold in the shambles, reduced to a ballot. Let us see how many ministers of the gospel whose hearts have
drudge or a pauper, and silenced and subjected before her lawgivers.
been mellowed by its teaching willadvocate from their pulpits that the
"She was first in the transgression, therefore keep her in subbible demands that justice be rendered to woman by giving her a voice
in the laws which govern and tax her.
This is a bible command and I fail to see how it elevates woman.
The fact is that woman has been emancipated and elevated to her
These words of Paul have filled our whole civilization with a deadly
present position in spite of bible influence. The most pathetic picture
virus, yet how strange it is that the average christian woman holds the
in all history is the great conflict that women are waging for their
name of Paul above all others, and is oblivious to the fact that he has
liberty. Men armed with all the death-dealing weapons that human
brought deeper shame, subjection, servitude, and sorrow to woman
ingenuity has devised and with the wealth of nations at their
than any other human being in history.
command have waged wars of extermination to gain freedom, but
The nations under bible influence are the only ones in league with women with no weapon save argument and nothing save the justice of
the liquor traffic; both England and the United States are in their cause, are waging a war of education for their liberty and as soon
partnership with the liquor trust, and trade upon the vices and
as they desert the bypaths of faith, and enter the highway of Reason,
degradation of their people. Certainly it cannot be claimed that
there is no power that can keep them from winning the victory.
drunkenness elevates woman.
Every effort that woman has made to secure education, mental or
Throughout christendom millions of wretched women wait in political liberty has been challenged by popes, bishops, priests,
suspense at the midnight hour to hear the reeling steps of drunken
moderators, conferences and college presidents, yet in spite of all
husbands or sons, while in heathendom a drunkard's wife cannot be these protests she has overthrown all barriers and with increasing
found unless a heathen husband becomes the victim of christian
knowledge woman is founding her faith on reason and demonstrated
by truth, instead of a faith formulated by priest, parson or presbyter.
The United States according to the last criminal statistics pays 600
Remove from the bible lands the busy brains and hands which have
millions annually for the punishment and restraint of criminals. It is built the lines of the locomotive, ... (illegible - ed.) ... remove the
natural to suppose that all these criminals had mothers; surely it manual and mental labor which have brought material prosperity,
cannot be claimed that christianity has elevated and protected these
broadened the mind, subdued the brutal instincts, and humanized the
women. 250,000 saloons in the U.S. surely attest that drunkenness is race - remove all these, and leave us nothing but the bible and its
Austin, Texas

July, 1984

Page 33

influence and where, let me ask, would woman be today?

Where indeed would man be? - a crouching and cowering slave to
the bible doctrine of the divine rights of kings, living as the brutes of
the field as he did when bible christianity was at the zenith of its
Wherever in bible lands man has been a slave, woman has been the
slave of a slave.
Imagine the condition of woman if today should be removed from
our boasted christian civilization the school, the steam engine, the
smokestack, and the printing press. Imagine the condition of woman
in the twentieth century, if the bible commands in regard to woman
were obeyed and literally lived up to.
The command for the silence and the subjection of woman rings
clear and true through the whole bible.
Bible commands in regard to woman are in plain language:
"Thy desire shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over thee."
Now we all know that the average husband cannot successfully rule
himself and he is entirely unfit to rule over a good woman.
"Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the
This is virtually saying that all men are better, wiser, and purer than
women, and that woman needs a master and that the bible decrees
that she shall have one, and that the rule of the husband is co-equal
with the bible god. "If woman would know anything let her learn of her
husband at home." Under this command the educational outlook for
woman is dark indeed. In the first place any wom~n can learn more
from a spelling book, a dictionary, an encyclopedia, or a daily paper
than from the wisest husband on earth, and in the second place
millions of women have no homes and no husbands, and millions of
women are married to men who are not the fountains of wisdom.
"I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man,
but to be in silence."
Yet in the face of this bible command the fact is before us that our
educational interests are largely in the hands of women.
They do most of the Sunday school teaching. It may not be
teaching of a very high order, because teachers cannot elucidate
subjects they are ignorant of.
Our public school system has been almost captured by women.
Tip your hat to the public school teacher; she is the guardian angel
of the American Republic; and when she discards superstition, and
replaces faith with reason, the cause of Liberty will be won.
Liberty is never given,it is always taken, and woman must throttle
the lifeout of superstition before her human rights willbe conceded to
There is nothing in all the range of the literature of religions that so
enslaves and humiliates woman as the commands of the bible for her
subjection and obedience. Ifthe bible is god's holy word, when it says
that "wives must obey their husbands, and learn in silence and
subjection," I take it for granted that the divine author means what he
says, and the men who do not enforce this law are not livingup to their
christian privileges.
Mr. Gladstone, shortly before his death, in addressing the graduating class of a woman's college, said:
"Young women, enormous changes have taken place in your
positions as members of society. It is terrible to look back upon
the position of women 60 years ago; upon the manner in which
they were viewed by the law; the scanty provision made for
their welfare; the gross, flagrant, and shameful injustice to
which they were subjected. Great changes are taking place,
and greater are impending."
This is from Gladstone, the greatest exponent of christianity of
modern times.
If Mr. Gladstone acknowledged this shameful injustice to woman
60 years ago in christian England, what can be said of woman's
condition 600 or 1600 years ago when bible christianity was at the
zenith of its power?
If it can be proven that during the last 1,000 years the christian
clergy with the bible in their hands have attempted to remove one
single wrong which women have suffered, now is the opportune time
Page 34

July, 1984

to furnish such proof.

If the clergy would fairly discuss bible commands for women with
such women as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Helen M. Gardner, Marilla
M. Rucker, Harriet M. Closz and many others, they would cut a sorry
figure, but they willnever do this, for they cannot afford to do so, so
they quiet the questionings of their female flocks by telling them that
women.who question are breaking god's law, and that a woman who
reasons is a moral monstrosity. Now today when the myth and
miracle of bible teaching is rejected by the strongest brains and most
heroic hearts in Europe and America, woman is arising in her mental
and mota I majesty, and demanding that her wrongs be righted, and
this is the very age when the position of woman is more exalted than it
has been since the christian religion was launched upon the world. It is
absurd to claim that the bible alone has elevated her to her present
position, but if even the claim were true, when the light is turned on
the social, domestic and religious life of the christian world, this
achievement reflects no credit on bible teaching.

"Ifthe clergy would fairly discuss bible commands for women with such women as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Helen M. Gardner, Marilla
M. Rucker, Harriet M. Closz and many others,
they would cut a sorry figure; but they will
never do this, ... so they quiet the questionings
of their female flocks by telling them that
women who question are breaking god's law."
Monogamic marriage is the strongest institution of the christian
The bible teaches that all the men of the old testament were
polygamists, and christ and Paul, the central figures of the new
testament, were celibates and condemned marriage by both precept
and example. In christian lands monogamy is strictly demanded of
women, it does not demand a white life for two. In all christian lands
large classes of men practice bigamy, trigamy, and polygamy. These
conditions certainly cannot be claimed to elevate woman.
Largely the majority of men have one legal wife, but assisted by a
small pack of youths and bachelors christendom ma(illegibleed.) ... several millions of outcasts ... (illegible - ed.)
pariahs of
Thousands of wretched women are yearly driven to degradation
and the potter's field, while manhood is degraded by deception and
dissipation. Surely in the face of these actual conditions the claim that
christian civilization alone elevates woman falls to the ground.
I do not say that christianity has caused all the wrongs, miseries,
and woes that women have suffered, but I do say that christianity has
never made an effort to remove them, and yet in the face of these facts
the claim is made that christianity alone has elevated, advanced and
protected woman.
If we, as a nation, desire to be true, heroic, noble and sublime, we
must remove the iron grasp of ecclesiasticism from the brains and
hearts of mothers of the race, we must utilize the mental and moral
forces inherent in woman.
These are far more valuable than the wealth of our coal, iron, oil or
gold fields.
The ownership of the wife promulgated under bible teachings, and
the vow required of woman at the marriage altar to obey the man with
whom she links her fate, is the tap root of the domestic warfare which
reigns throughout christendom today. Women who make a vow to
obey, which they never expect to keep, and never do keep, can only
give birth to cowards, deceivers and criminals, and all priest-ridden
and policed civilizations swarm with these classes.
The christian clergy from their pulpits reprove women for not
bearing more children, in the face of the fact that millions of children
that have been borne by christian women have been targets on the
battlefield, or are homeless tramps, degraded drunkards, inmates of
The American Atheist

prisons or insane asylums, victims of the mob or the executioner, or

bondslaves to priests or to plutocrats who revel in ease and luxury at
the expense of women whom it is claimed in the words of canon
Farar, "Bible influence has elevated woman and shrouded with a halo
of sacred innocence the tender years of the child."
The bypaths of ecclesiastical history are fetid with the records of
wrongs against women. No American woman has rendered greater
service to her sex than Matilda Joslyn Gage in her great work,
Woman, Church, and State, and it should be read by all thinkers.
And what is christianity doing for woman today?
Answer ye victims of domestic warfare who crowd our divorce
courts of bible lands.
Answer ye wretched offspring of involuntary motherhood.
Answer ye 500,000 outcast women of christian America, who
should be 500, 000 blessings bearing humanity in your unvitiated
blood down the stream of time.
These women are the wreckage of our christian civilization cast
upon the shores of time. They would not be anything ifthey were not
driven to it. Yet the church recoils from the scarlet wine and
While these answers echo through the stately cathedrals of bible
lands, if the clergy with the bible in their hands can show just cause
why woman should not look to reason and to science rather than to
scripture for deliverance, let them speak in this the dawn of the 20th
century or forever hold their peace.
When reason reigns, and science lights the way, a countless host of
women will move in majesty down the coming century.
A voice will cry "Who are these?" and the answer will ring out
"These are the mothers of the coming race, who think for themselves
and who drink deeply at the fountain of knowledge that flows
copiously on the highway of reason."
The National Liberal Party of the United States welcomes all
women who recognize that knowledge guided by reason is the force
that willliberate woman and elevate the human race.
When woman awakes from her nightmare of superstition, then,
and not till then, willliberty and justice reign throughout the earth.
I am but a straggler marching a hundred years in advance of the age
in which I live.
I do not believe, because I cannot believe the impossible and unjust
dogmas of theology, so I flash the torch of reason above my lonely
way, and in the name of Humanity, Reason, and Justice, I plead with
the women of this great so-called Republic who are defrauded of their
human rights by church and state, and who are laden with wrongs
which 1900 years of christianity have not relieved, to help the National
Liberal Party to storm the citadel of superstition and release the
prisoners of fate.
I am no venal pleader who labors for a price, or for ambition's
laurels, but I plead because I love humanity and would unlock the
dungeon door of faith and lead into the glorious effulgence of
intellectual liberty.
Versailles, Kentucky


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Page 35





Page 36

July, 1984

TheAm encan
Ath eist

REPORT FROM INDIA / Margaret Bhatty

lflfr lf~

f~ f1&ifl(,

qnf.N~Rft'fn~ !
ar'J4N 1"1
If ~.


esus has come! All good christians can stop looking for the
messiah, starting NOW! He is Indian, 58, hermaphrodite and
diabetic. He sports an immense golliwogwig which, he says, is his own
hair with every filament standing upright from psychic energy, and his
favourite pastime is conjuring, which includes healing diseases from
any distance, producing holy ash out of the air and coughing up small
stone phalluses. Those who attended the Helsinki World Atheist
Meet last year will remember the kind of magic B. Premanand
demonstrated, and this is particularly used by our "messiah."
What proof has he of his divinity? He says he is mentioned in
revelations 19, which describes christ riding out of heaven on a white
horse, with eyes like flames of fire and a sword emerging from his
mouth to smite the wicked nations of the world. "On his head were
many crowns, and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he
himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood, etc." This,
he claims, refers to his own saffron robe.
However, his horizons are wider than the original jewish preacher.
He also comes as a messiah for the hindus - Kalki on a white horse,
the tenth and final avatar of the god Vishnu, destined to descend to
earth when all spiritual and social life has degenerated to its lowest.
Kalki, too, willride through the earth, holding aloft his fiery sword to
destroy the wicked, renew creation and initiate the mahayug, great
age, equivalent of the christian millenium.
There is much speculation about the actual physiology of this
androgynous messiah, but since Indians still subscribe to the
primitive belief that deformity and physical defects are sometimes
manifestations of divinity, he fits into the scheme of things. His
devotees see him as a living incarnation of the half-and-half concept
seen in the he-she images of Shiva, whose male nature is counterpoised with the one-breasted torso depicting the female principle of
shakti, in the ultimate reconciliation of opposites.
Tal Brookes, an English seeker after "truth," traversed all of India
until he found his spiritual guru at this godman's ashram in Bangalore.
But then he discovered that, in addition to conjuring, the deity
enjoyed debauching young white males among his foreign devotees.
Shaken by his traumatic experience, Brookes returned home to write
an indictment in a book called Lord a/the Air, which he hoped would
be a warning to other christians who stray from the straight and
It isn't clear what impact this messiah has on muslims despite his
efforts to out-Mohammed the prophet. He also claims to be the
reincarnation of a famous muslim saint of western India called Sai
Baba of Shirdi. As this man's come-back, he calls himself Satya (true)
Sai Baba. Inasmuch as good muslims go straight to paradise to
disport themselves with houris, it is a little puzzling as to how the soul
of the original Sai Baba chose to return, and that, too, in the body of a
hindu kafir (infidel).
But whereas the original saint was a true ascetic, this incarnation is
among the most' powerful of Indian godmen. Jurists, judges, politicians, eminent scientists, educationists and businessmen are among
his devotees, all overawed by his conjuring. His tentacles spread into
many departments of government, as Premanand discovered when
he tried to get a passport to travel abroad. He owns wealthy trusts,
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schools, ashrams and an institution which is "deemed" a university
(even though unrecognised officially) because it was inaugurated by
an eminent woman member of our University Grants Commission
who is a devotee. Since he is a religious institution, aUhis real estate,
gold, jewels and money go untaxed. His followers say of him "Baba is
Jesus Christ who has come again, in the fullness of Christ, as Satya
Bai Baba."
Indian godmen transformed by fate and fraud into multinational
corporations are a 20th century phenomenon. Christians might see it
as the ultimate blasphemy for anyone to claim godhead, a sin for
which Lucifer was thrown out of paradise (according to their religion).
Indeed, the very term "god-man" is a laughable contradiction. But to
the hindu mind there is no paradox whatsoever. A hindu can with
.absolute sincerity say "I am god - aham brahmasmi" without falling
in danger of hell-fire. The late guru Muktananda said "Kneel to your
own self. Honour and worship your own being. Chant the mantra
always going on within you. Meditate on your own self. God dwells
within you."
The analogy in ancient scripture is of humans likened to myriads of
earthen pots filled with water, each reflecting the blue entity of the
sky. When death occurs, or a' pot is shattered, the spirit or atman
goes back to its source and merges again with the entity, Brahma.
The notion of atman and Brahma - spirit and god - places godhead
within the reach of anyone having the gall to carry it off successfully.
After that all one needs to make a rich living is a horde of credulous
Of Muktananda his disciples said he was Brahman because he
created a new and wondrous world for his followers. He was Vishnu

July, 1984

Page 37

count muslim, christian, parsi, hindu or whatever among their many

followers, all convinced of their divinity and seeing no apparent
conflict with their individual religious theology.
The eminence and notoriety achieved by some of these phonies
dates to the years when hippie cults came east in search of nirvana.
These children of the lost generation were ecstatic to find pot and
venality freely available in ashrams under the guise of the religious
Holy men - yogis, swamis, fakirs, pirs, rishis, maharishis and
babas - turn up in historical tales and legends. As men who had
forsaken the world and sat apart from surging humanity, they
allegedly acquired a profounder insight into the "Why?" of life.
Devotees are urged to seek the holy guidance of these guru-gods
because they can apply gyan anjan, or the ointment of divine
"... this incarnation is among the most power- knowledge, to one's eyes and open them to spiritual truths.
ful of Indian godmen. Jurists, judges, politi"Give your guru the honour due to god," advised swami Lotus-feet,
cians, eminent scientists, educationists and founder of the hare krishna cult. Rituals of worship are the same given
to the gods. Trays of incense are waved before them, devotees fallflat
businessmen are among his devotees."
on their faces and place offerings at their feet. They drink the water in
which the guru's feet are washed - charan-amrit - foot ambrosia, it
is called, a degree more imaginative than kissing the pope's big toe.
It is more comfortable livingwith the suspicion that you yourself are
Some devotees even eat as-prasad (holy food), the betelnut which has
an unrealised god than with the intimidating christian vision of Big
been chewed by their guru - not much different, perhaps, from the
Brother watching you. It is also much less bothersome to say all
cannibalistic symbolism of the eucharist in which one ingests one's
religions are true as diverse paths leading to the same god. According
god for sympathetic magic.
to hinduism, therefore, there is no false religion. But this is a
Gita Mehta, in her book Karma Cola (Simon and Schuster, New
superficial claim. Scratch a little deeper and you find that the hindu is
York) tells of an English aristocrat who sought out a godman in the
as convinced about the validity of his special dogma as is the muslim,
interior of Andhra Pradesh, remarkable not only for his enlightenchristian, or jew.
ment but also for his urine which changed daily into scented rose
In any case it ought to be petty caviling about points of theology
when we know that the cosmos is all maya, or illusion, and nothing is
As a foreigner he was given a seat of honour outside the tent in
what it appears to be! Of course, this other-worldly stance prevents
no one from making themselves stinking rich, by fair means or foul.
which the godman relieved himself "of his first miraculous maturation." To his surprise the crowd of devotees then began pushing him
India's godmen wear the saffron robes of renunciation but control
forward and the guru himself put out a hand and beckoned to him.
wealthy trusts, jet about in private planes, drive Rolls-Royces, own
Inside the tent the godman indicated the Englishman should have
prime pieces of real estate in Switzerland and other resorts, and wield
considerable influence in our country's politics. But ifall this appears / the honour of bearing the vessel to the devotees waiting outside.
As the warm vessel was placed in his hands, he sniffed the contents.
paradoxical, it can be rationalised by the theory of karma, which
"It smelled," he later remarked, "like ordinary urine."
simply can't be wrong ifaccumulated merit in some former lifebrings
The devotees cheered him when he appeared and signalled him
you into ownership of a solid gold toilet seat in this one.
urgently, encouraged by the godman's assistants. He soon gathered
The crass vulgarity of it all ought to be our greatest shame, except
that he, an Englishman - "in a gesture of unprecedented magnanimithat our godmen reflect a decadent milieu. I once had a woman argue
ty" - was to be allowed to drink the entire contents of the vessel.
with me that the Hare Krishna cult simply had to be true, "Look at
"It tasted," observed the aristocrat later, "remarkably like ordinary
how rich it is!"
. But phony though these gods might seem, they are part of a hoary
tradition in India. Even in ancient days they could be found in the
remotest regions - ascetic, mystic or psychic, endowed with magical
In 1978 your editors, assisted by Joseph Edamaruku,
powers achieved by rigorous penance and self-torture, and amplified
editor of an Indian Atheist publication, combed India
by myth and legend: Today, some of the more flamboyant ones can
seeking writers who would consistently offer an interpretation
of Indian religious events. Margaret Bhatty, in Nagpur,
a well-known feminist journalist, agreed that she
would attempt to do so in the future. She joined the staff
of the American Atheist in January, 1983.
because he sustained and protected them in their divine life. He was
Shiva because he annihilated their world of limited individuality.
Therefore the best way to express their gratitude was to merge
themselves in the pure consciousness wherein the guru abided. (If
this reads like nonsense, it is!)
The attraction of hinduism for westerners is because of its use of
thought- magic and because it is gentler on the conscience than
christianity. Harrowing postures of guilt are not essential for salvation. And while sin is acknowledged, atonement is very simply
achieved with a little bit of counter-magic. Instant salvation is yours by
merely taking the name of Hare-Krishna, Instant nirvana is attainable
by sitting around doing nothing in the name of TM.


~ W~

Page 38

July, 1984

The American Atheist


I have a terrific idea: Print up some toilet
paper with bible scriptures on it (for example, the ten commandments). Then put
some of it in the national Atheist Center in
Austin. The rest of it you could sell to
Atheists all over the country. It would be fun
to wipe with it.
Tom Osmundson, Jr.

The pope's behavior cannot be condoned, but class people can help neutralize
him with actions other than namecalling of
the type exhibited in the April issue of
American Atheist. The pope is still another
tool of god, whatever that natural power is,
that is a butcher that subsists on pain and
shame and death. Anyone who believes in
the Atheist Manifesto printed opposite page
1 should understand mankind's position in
the evolutionary process, and Atheists
especially should get involved in teaching
and constructive example-setting. The ultrareligious are principally victims of predatory
parenting, a practice which will never be
allowed to cease if god has his way. Except
for the trappings, what has really changed in
the arena of pain and shame and death? Or
perhaps ever will except for the understanding which you are trying to bring
Edward T. Piers

I would like to share my solution to one of
the disadvantages an individual encounters
when rejecting the viewpoint and lifestyle of
the majority as was pointed out by Clarence
Darrow on page 26 in the April '84 issue of
A.A. magazine. My solution deals specifically with the problem of short and superficial
friendships which can lead to loneliness,

Austin, Texas

frustration, and depression. As an Atheist, I

am aware of the fact that we have the ability
to influence our destiny and that problems
have solutions and do not have to be
tolerated. Therefore, I have decided to
change my loner status by putting the odds
of meeting another Atheist more in my
favor. This will be accomplished by putting
discreet Atheist statements on my T-shirts
and the bumper of my car. I choose to keep
them discreet because I hate violence and
do not wish to provoke emotional overreactions by ignorant fools. Two good
examples of discreet statements would be
"TSIEHT A" (Atheist spelled backwards), or
simply the atom symbol adopted by A.A.
magazine. I'm sure A.A. readers could
come up with quite a few clever statements
which I feel should be published for people
like myself who want to experience the
advantages of a true friendship. Thank you
for .publishing a magazine dedicated to
understanding and the truth. I feel I am part
of something important every time I pick
one up.
Tom Welling
Dear Tom:
Send $1.00 and ask for our catalog, and
we will send it to you with a list of the
bumper stickers which we presently sell
included therein.

I recently went to see a movie called
"Children of the Corn." It is based on a short
story by Stephen King. It was not only a
good horror show, but an excellent commentary on the negative aspects of religious
It centers around a cult started by a child
and consisting of children who kill off their
parents. They take over a whole town and
make child sacrifices also. The cult is foiled
by a newlywed couple who stumble into the
area of the cult's operation (a dismal corn
and bible-belt section of Nebraska) and
after much chasing around finally figure out
what is going on. Near the end we are
treated to some special effects and an
unleashed hideous supernatural creature
that fed off the children's sacrifices and/or
gave the child preacher his mesmeric ability
to captivate audiences.
I didn't think the supernatural was necessary at all, as the movie did very well
without it. It was blood-curdling to the max.
But all in all I think it was most excellent fun

July, 1984

packed with a good solid message which we

Atheists have been saying all these years that cults and religions in general are
Kris Bjork

I have a book by Thomas Paine, patriot in
the American Revolution, printed by Freethought Press (New York City), called The
Age of Reason. The owner was Joseph
Lewis, who died, and his book publishing
business with him.
If you printed this book in paperback and
gave it to your "followers" for the price of a
membership, you would go far in combatting tremendous religious growth in the
I would loan the book to you, if you
promised to return it to me. When and ifyou
read it, you will see what I mean.
Sam Wolfson
Dear Sam:
We are happy to inform you that at this
very writing we are in the process of reprinting in paperback format Thomas
Paine's Age of Reason. We will be advertising its avai/ability in the very near future.
Thanks for your concerned interest in one
of the world's true literary classics.

I'm pleased to accept membership in
your organization. I like especially your
articles on Atheist history, and Ms. Bhatty's
articles on religions of India.
I wish, however, that you would print
fewer articles attacking judeo-christianity.
Most of us are already turned off by that
religion and that is why we are supporting
your organization. I'd like to see more
articles 1) thoughtfully analyzing eastern
religions and religious cults, 2) covering the
psychological aspects of religion (I am
thoroughly convinced that religion is not so
much a logical exercise as it is an egodefense, which means that our logic falls on
deaf ears), 3) actually developing a humanistic system of ethics based on living in the
here and now, rather than just talking about
Frederick L. Artiss

Page 39


I just finished reading over again Dr.
O'Hair's speech at the 1982 A.A. Convention in Washington, D.C. I was very moved.
by what she said. What really struck a cord
was the letter from Ellen Mardan. I understand her feelings. As the director of a
Chapter of the Prison Atheist League of
America, I find my biggest problem is all the
fault-finders, criticizers, and just plain lazy
Atheists I have to deal with - not to
mention the religious ITUtSwho are daily
throwing their material into my cell area. I
have enough trouble as it is with the prison
officials without having to listen to a bunch
of my own members argue over petty
gripes. We are Atheists and we have a
serious problem in this country. As you
stated in 1982, we are teetering on the brink
of a Dark Age to which the religious forces in
this country have brought us. I can only
hope that Atheists organize and educate
themselves to the real dangers that we face
here in 1984. To some extent I'm honestly
afraid that we are slipping into a policechurch state, and that would be like going
back in time 200 years.
At the present time our PAL newsletter
has been banned throughout the Virginia
prison system. Mr. Arnold Via still sends me
a lot of Atheist material, so I'm not completely lost for educational books concerning
Atheist precepts. Also, I'm a member of
American Atheists, so I receive newsletters
et cetera from you.
Right now I'm in the hole; so is the
Secretary of the Chapter of PAL here at
Staunton State Prison. We were put here on
drummed up charges for 20 days. The
prison officials also transferred two of my
members to other prisons last week. I
believe this is an attempt to undermine our
organization. That won't be an easy job. My
members are committed Atheists, ifnothing
else. So I hope the pressure that the Chapter of PAL is under here will weed out the
lazy fault-finders and leave me with Atheists
who will band together and stand strong
against the harassments of the religious nuts
who work here and are inmates here. Atheists need to band together more and more.
We don't need petty fights among ourselves; we need respect for each other. We
need to act with intelligence and common
sense. That is the only way we will accomplish our goals: "Freedom from religion"!
I expect to be harassed from time to time.
That's all a part of being an Atheist in a
system made up and put together by religious nuts. We'll keep up the fight on our
end. I know you'll continue the struggle. I do
appreciate all you've done for your fellow
human beings over the years. Your work
Page 40

wasn't in vain. Take care, my friend, and

keep on keeping on!
Leroy "Spider" Donald
Staunton, Virginia

my suggestion might be the first step in

improving the magazine.
Irving Fierstein
New York

Dear Leroy:
You are to be commended for "hanging in
there" for Atheism. Your personal fortitude
speaks for itself (as does Arnold Via's). As
you remain confident, better times will
follow. Rest assured that Dr. O'Hair and all
the other determined Atheists will "keep on
keeping on."

Dear Irving:
Plans are in the works for the use of a
3-columnformat beginning with the September, '84 issue.
- Editor

I'm chagrined that I may never meet the
people whom I should be meeting - those
who "see" things the way I do. I'm just a
clerk and can't really afford to attend April's
Kentucky Convention. Today for the first
time I was introduced to your publication I'm almost ashamed, but elated. It is certainly refreshing to know that there are humans
amongst the droves of zombies. I guess
being highly conditionable is both blessing
and curse (Excuse the religious-type words.
At times my vocabulary is quite limited.)
Milton Lumley
New Mexico
Dear Milton:
We're sorry you couldn't make it to our
national convention. But at least you can
experience it vicariously by reading all
about it in the August issue.

I subscribed to American Atheist a few
months back. Though pleased with most of
the content, I find the readability of the 2column per page and the full measure
across the full page difficult to read. As a
retired graphic designer and interested in
the publication, I thought to offer some
suggestionsJ:o improve the readability. The
9/10 point Souvenir Light by 13 picas (i.e. 3
columns per page) is fair enough. When it is
stretched to 22 picas, it is too small, and I
suggest 10/11 and not to go to the full page
width at all, unless some special need has
arisen, and then might consider 11/13. True,
this will mean one or two less articles per
issue; on the other hand, it willbe less tiring
to read. When I designed such periodicals,
my first consideration was the ease with
which they could be read, and I think that
July, 1984

Dr. O'Hair and Merrill Holste have done a
splendid job, as usual, in the April issue with
their astral origins of religion and Aten-sunworship. Add some John Allegro and the
picture brightens even more.
Visualize the sun, whose fiery glans is the
great charioteer of the heavens, crossing
the sky, then plunging into the vulva of
mother earth at eventide - and in the
morning coming forth like a bridegroom
from his marriage chamber.
Imagine the first "wise men" contemplating the heavens while nibbling red mushrooms, and becoming "enthused." Why,
these "sons of thunder" sprang from "the
star of wonder"! Each "little god" was the
fruit-of-life from the grand union of Mother
Earth and Heavenly Father. And each "star
of the ground" was a microcosm of the
whole fertility process.
Myth is fascinating stuff - full of power
and pathos. It carries universal messages
symbolically ("spiritually") reflecting our
biological impulses encountering the environment. Lovely to learn from; deadly to
Ann D. Robertson

Letters to the Editor must be either
questions or comments of general concern to Atheists or Atheism. Submission Should be brief and to-the-point.
Space limitations allow that each letter should be 200 words or (preferably)
less. Please confine your letters to a
single issue only. Mail them to:
American Atheists
P.O. Box 2117
Austin, TX 78768-2117
Thank you.

The American Atheist





A Journal of Atheist

News and Thought

(Vo1.25, No.6) June, 1983

Twentieth Anniversary

The American Atheist organization is proud of its 20+ years of

service to the Atheist community.
The magazine issued in June of 1983
marked the celebration of 20 hard
years of dedicated representation
and progress for Atheism in the
United States and the world. The
battle to survive in the land pompously regarded as "One Nation
Under God" has not been an easy
one. Preservation of individual integrity is never easy when a nation
of people has been subvertly conditioned to subordinate intellectual
existence. Only those courageous
individuals who dare to deviate from
total dehumanization of personal
rights and dignity can express the
true meaning of freedom: Atheism,
freedom from religion.

$3.00 (postage paid)

$5.00 autographed

June, 1963 - June, 1983

This special issue is 48 pages in length

and has a four-color cover (like this July
'84 issue)

Order your anniversary issue today!

Box2117/ Austin,
TX 78768-2117
copies of the June, '83 issue of American Atheist

Please send __

@ $3.00 (postage paid)


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Total $----















"Only when a man ceases to be a child,

only when he emancipates himself completely from the fetishes of religion, and
gives up his silly and childish ideas
concerning the existence of a god, willhe
be able to rise to that commanding
position and station in life when he can
be truly called a Man!"
Joseph Lewis
April 20, 1930














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