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The trouble with born-again Christians is that they are an even bigger pain the second time around.
Callimachus [Καλλίμαχος] (ca BCE 305-240)
"Is Kháridas beneath this stone?"
"Kháridas, what's it like below?"
"All that I'm telling you is true,
They told me, Heraclitus,
And now that thou art lying,
What gods are there, what gods have there ever been, that were not from man's imagination?
God is a metaphor for that which trancends all levels of intellectual thought. It's as simple as that.
The priests used to say that faith can move mountains, and nobody believed them. Today the scientists say that they can level mountains, and nobody doubts them.
Too many of our best scholars, themselves indoctrinated from infancy in a religion of one kind or another based upon the Bible, are so locked into the idea of their own god as a supernatural fact -- something final, not symbolic of transcendence, but a personage with a character and will of his own - that they are unable to grasp the idea of a worship that is not of the symbol but of its reference, which is of a mystery of much greater age and of more immediate inward reality than the name-and-form of any historical ethinic idea of a deity, whatsoever ... and is of a sophistication that makes the sentimentalism of our popular Bible-story theology seem undeveloped.
The two greatest works of war mythology in the west ... are the Iliad and the Old Testament.... When we turn from the Iliad and Athens to Jerusalem and the Old Testament [we find] a single-minded single deity with his sympathies forever on one side. And the enemy, accordingly, no matter who it may be, is handled...pretty much as though he were subhuman: not a "Thou" but an "It."
People say that what we are all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.
Read myths. They teach you that you can turn inward, and you begin to get the message of the symbols. Read other people's myths, not those of your own religion, because you tend to interpret your own religion in terms of facts -- but if you read the other ones, you begin to get the message. Myth helps you to put your mind in touch with this experience of being alive. Myth tells you what the experience is.
I shall not, as far as I am concerned, try to pass myself off as a Christian in your presence. I share with you the same revulsion from evil. But I do not share your hope, and I continue to struggle against this universe in which children suffer and die.
In order to exist just once in the world, it is necessary never again to exist.
Freedom is not a reward or a decoration that is celebrated with champagne. Nor yet a gift, a box of dainties designed to make you lick your chops. Oh, no! It's a chore, on the contrary, and a long-distance race, quite solitary and very exhausting.
To those who despair of everything reason cannot provide a faith, but only passion, and in this case it must be the same passion that lay at the root of the despair, namely humiliation and hatred.
We all carry within us our places of exile, our crimes, and our ravages. But our task is not to unleash them on the world; it is to fight them in ourselves and in others.
There exists an obvious fact that seems utterly moral: namely, that a man is always prey to his truths. Once he has admitted them, he cannot free himself from them. One has to pay something. A man who has become conscious of the absurd is forever bound to it.
For the existentials, negation is their God. To be precise, that god is maintained only through the negation of human reason. But, like suicides, gods change with men.
I don't know whether this world has a meaning that transcends it. But I know that I do not know that meaning and that it is impossible for me just now to know it. What can a meaning outside my condition mean to me? I can understand only in human terms.
Beware of those who say: "I know this too well to be able to express it." For if they cannot do so, this is because they don't know it or because out of laziness they stopped at the outer crust.
There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.
As for Hitler, his professed religion unhesitatingly juxtaposed the God-Providence and Valhalla. Actually his god was an argument at a political meeting and a manner of reaching an impressive climax at the end of speeches.
Since the order of the world is shaped by death, mightn't it be better for God if we refuse to believe in Him, and struggle with all our might against death without raising our eyes towards the heaven where He sits in silence?
Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow;
I would never want to be a member of a group whose symbol was a guy nailed to two pieces of wood.
If churches want to play the game of politics, let them pay admission like everyone else.
I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.
[Having run down the street, into a door and onto the stage, Carlin spends at least a minute trying to quiet the cheering audience so he can open the show.] Why? Why? Why? Why!? Why, why is it that most of the people who are against abortion are people you wouldn't want to fuck in the first place? Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them up to be dead soldiers.
I don't have any beliefs or allegiances. I don't believe in this country, I don't believe in religion, or a god, and I don't believe in all these man-made institutional ideas.
Here's another question I've been pondering -- what is all this shit about angels? Have you heard this? Three out of four people belive in angels. Are you fucking stupid? Has everybody lost their mind? You know what I think it is? I think it's a massive, collective, psychotic chemical flashback for all the drugs smoked, swallowed, shot, and absorbed rectally by all Americans from 1960 to 1990. Thirty years of street drugs will get you some fucking angels, my friend!
-- George Carlin, You Are All Diseased
Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man -- living in the sky -- who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special
list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever
and ever 'til the end of time!
I noticed that of all the prayers I used to offer to God, and all the prayers that
I now offer to Joe Pesci, are being answered at about the same fifty percent rate. Half the time I get what I want. Half the time I don't. Same as God: fifty-fifty.
If this is the best God can do, I'm not impressed.
One seems to believe almost all that they believe; and when they stop short and call it a Religion, and you pass on, and call it only a reminiscence of one, should you not part with the kiss of peace?
I grow daily to honor facts more and more, and theory less and less.
If Jesus Christ were to come today, people would not even crucify him. They would ask him to dinner, and hear what he had to say, and make fun of him.
If I had my way, the world would hear a pretty stern command -- Exit Christ.
Richard Cevantis Carrier, Jr. (b. 1969)
I am like all other atheists only in that I do not believe there are any gods. Beyond that, I may differ dramatically in my values and beliefs from any other atheist. On both sides of the political spectrum, one can find the neo-conservative Objectivists and the ultra-liberal Communists, both of whom hate each other. These two factions take up nearly opposite sets of values, yet both are comprised of unabashed atheists. I agree with neither. Similar diversity can be found in any other group -- agnostics include devout Christians, freethinkers include New Agers, and the nonreligious include among their ranks everything from nihilists to flakes.
It is probably true that almost all atheists stand for the values of reason and freethought. I will attempt to put these values in more substantial terms. There is the belief that inquiry and doubt are essential checks against deception, self deception, and error. There is the belief that logic and the scientific method is the only way the world can arrive at an agreement on the truth about anything. And there is the belief that it is better to be good to each other and to build on what we all agree to be true, than to insist that we all think alike. The words I have put into italics above are the very things I believe all atheists should stand for.
-- Richard C Carrier, Jr., from "A Fish Did Not Write This Essay" (1995), as quoted in Positive Atheism's predecessor, Critical Thinker (November, 1995), front page
Christians always write to me threatening me with Hell. Strange how they think this vindicates them and their religion. Threats are the hallmark of a wicked creed.
Mother goddesses are just as silly a notion as father gods. If a revival of the myths of these cults gives woman emotional satisfaction, it does so at the price of obscuring the real conditions of life. This is why they were invented in the first place.
I believe in the separation of church and state and would not use my authority to violate this principle in any way.
The government ought to stay out of the prayer business.
As a Christian, a trained engineer and scientist, and a professor at Emory University, I am embarrassed by Superintendent Kathy Cox's attempt to censor and distort the education of Georgia's students.... There is no need to teach that stars can fall out of the sky and land on a flat Earth in order to defend our religious faith.
We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.
I have looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times. God recognizes I will do this and forgives me.
Jonathan Rauch: Abjured God in Speeches
"Indeed, one modern President abjured God altogether, ending speeches with a chaste 'Thank you very much.' This was Jimmy Carter, the most genuinely devout President of the postwar period."
Carvaka (6th century BCE)
Only the perceived exists; the unperceived does not exist, by reason of its never having been perceived;
The enjoyment of heaven lies in eating delicious food, keeping the company of young women, using fine clothes, perfumes, garlands, sandal paste, etc.;
The reason the Christians have murdered on such a vast scale and killed anyone and everyone in their way is purely and simply greed.
They [the Christian Europeans] forced their way into native settlements, slaughtering everyone they found there, including small children, old men, pregnant women, and even women who had just given birth. They hacked them to pieces, slicing open their bellies with their swords as though they were so many sheep herded into a pen. They even laid wagers on whether they could manage to slice a man in two at a stroke, or cut an individual's head from his body, or disembowel him with a single blow of their axes. They grabbed suckling infants by the feet and, ripping them from their mothers' breasts, dashed them headlong against the rocks. Others, laughing and joking all the while, threw them over their shoulders into a river, shouting: "Wriggle, you little perisher." They slaughtered anyone and everyone in their path, on occasion running through a mother and her baby with a single thrust of their swords. They spared no one, erecting especially wide gibbets on which they could string their victims up with their feet just off the ground and then burn them alive thirteen at a time, in honour of our Saviour and the twelve Apostles, or tie dry straw to their bodies and set fire to it.
Once he [the native lord Hatuey in Cuba] was tied to the stake, a Franciscan friar who was present, a saintly main, told him as much as he could in the sort time permitted by his executioners about the Lord and about our Christian faith, all of which was new to him. The friar told him that, if he would only believe what he was now hearing, he would go to Heaven there to enjoy glory and eternal rest, but that, if he would not, he would be consigned to Hell, where he would endure everlasting pain and torment. The lord Hatuey thought for a short while and then asked the friar whether Christians went to Heaven. When the reply came that good ones do, he retorted, without need for further reflection, that, if that was the case, then he chose to go to Hell to ensure that he would never again have to clap eyes on those cruel brutes. This is just one example of the reputation and honour that our Lord and our Christian faith have earned as a result of the actions of those 'Christians' who have sailed to the Americas.
Later, a large band of Christians mounted an attack on this [native] lord [Paris, of Panama], butchering him along with vast numbers of his people and taking all the survivors into slavery, where they duly perished, so that today not a trace remains of what was previously a community with dominion over an area of some thirty leagues.
The Christians seized all the maize the locals [of Nicaragua] had grown for themselves and their own families and, as a consequence, some twenty or thirty thousand natives died of hunger, some mothers even killing their own children and eating them.
The reader may ask himself if this is not cruelty and injustice of a kind so terrible that it beggars the imagination, and whether these poor people would not fare far better if they were entrusted to the devils in Hell than they do at the hands of the devils of the New World who masquerade as Christians.
I [write] ... in order to help ensure that the teeming millions in the New World, for whose sins Christ gave His life, do not continue to die in ignorance, but rather are brought to knowledge of God and thereby saved.
Religion claims to be in possession of an absolute truth; but its history is a history of errors and heresies. It gives us the promise and prospect of a transcendent world -- far beyond the limits of our human experience -- and it remains human, all too human.
Religion is good for American politics when it supports the civil religion; when it speaks out with civility and respect; when it accepts the principles of tolerance and pluralism; when it appeals to a shared sense of morality and not to religious authority or doctrine; when it reminds us that we are a community. not a collection of isolated individuals; when it reminds us that we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers.
[It was commonly charged that Christians] exercised lust and filthiness under a pretense of religion, promiscuously calling themselves brothers and sisters, that by the help of so sacred a name their common adulteries might become incestuous.
Both men and women used to meet at supper (which was called their love-feast), when after they had loaded themselves with a plentiful meal, to prevent all shame, if they had any remaining, they put out the lights, and then promiscuously mixed in filthiness with one another.
The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea
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