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These are some of the statements I hear frequently concerning religion. I hear them so often that I've found I need to repeat the same answers over and over. Atheism and Humanism are two of the most misunderstood and hated positions in the world today! Since there is much more to this than most people think, the answers can get involved. I've created this webpage to address them. These are my current feelings toward these issues. It's important to remember that the burden of proof is never on the skeptic but I have outlined some solid reasons for my stands.

WARNING!
I've tried to keep it light and simple when discussing my points. I've also tried to inject humor into the discussion to help with some of my points. If you are easily offended on matters of religion, please exit now! It is not the desire of this author to offend anyone. I include it here to provoke thought... not anger.


"Do you believe in God?"

I used to! To believe in something you must first accept it's existence, then have faith that it can and will have a positive effect on the matters which concern you. Do I think a god exists? The short answer is no. Gods have always been inventions of the human mind to explain the unknown. Perhaps there is other intelligent life in the Cosmos. What a waste of space if there isn't! I suspect that if so, it's not like anything we have imagined so far! I doubt that, if this life exists, it is able or willing to intervene in the affairs of Human life. Too many things are just wrong and still need fixing! If an advanced life form does exist, I have to wonder just how powerful or compassionate this being or force is. I'm skeptical that it could be all knowing, all powerful and all good! A moments reflection seems to indicate it could not be all three. So even if I believed a deity existed, I would have difficulty having faith in this creature! Faith must be based on reasonable expectations. Historically, gods have been demonstrably the invention of the human mind. I have yet to find one exception to this rule! This would include the most popular notion of god in this country also. Jesus is just another myth.

Belief cannot just be turned on and off at will. To help in seeing my point, try to imagine believing in Zeus, Ra, Sol, Mars or any of the other hundreds of gods Mankind has called "God" throughout history! Do you believe in any of those gods? Could you if you tried? Try to imagine anything which you once thought was true but discovered it later to be false. Could you go back to believing in it again after this discovery? You see there are many stories which you have come to know are simply myths. Certainly there were natural events which primitive minds could not grasp. Whether they were volcano eruptions, shooting stars, earthquakes or just the sun in the sky, these phenomena were evaluated according to the limited understanding of that time. As understanding grew, these stories became fable and were understood within the context of their respective mythology.

"Don't you believe in Jesus?"

Did this person ever really exist in history? This is a question asked by many biblical scholars. Certainly many of the "Holy Days" or "Holidays" which Christianity claims as it's own are not "Christian" holidays at all but carry overs from older pagan traditions! December 25 was the exact date celebrated as the birth/rebirth of Mithras by the Babylonians. It was during the reign of Constantine in the 4th Century that it was deliberately adopted as being the date of the birth of Christ, specifically to draw pagans to Christian churches. Saturnalia ran from around the 17th to the 23rd, which was then followed by the Natalis Solis Invicti (The Birth of the Unconquerable Sun) on the 25th. It's easy to imagine what the decorations of this time of year must have meant. When it is understood that the sun and the Winter Solstice are tied into all this, you begin to see the true meaning. It had nothing to do with Jesus! Why are wreaths shaped in a circle? Is it not the shape of the sun? Lights (candles back then) are used to decorate evergreen trees. To symbolize that the Sun's light never really dies perhaps? Fruit decorations represent the promise of the coming fruitful season! Are not the modern Christmas balls derivatives of this? It's not hard to imagine many sacred traditions having their roots in natural events which Pagans observed for many generations. Halos of gold used to signify deity are not shaped and colored that way by accident! Older paintings actually show the sun behind the head of the deified figure! What was once the rebirth of the "sun god, Sol" became redefined as the birth of the "son of god, Jesus". Biblical scholars have known this for many years. It's one of the church's secrets which is not so secret anymore!

The Easter holiday is no exception either. It's an ancient rite of Spring, fertility celebration of new life (bunnies, eggs, green grass) and a season of rebirth after the winter. It falls on the first day of the first week after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Easter was taken from the celebration Oestre, for the Anglo-Saxon goddess of Spring, Fertility, and New Life. The name, of course, remaining pretty close to the same in order to appease pagans.

"Are you an Atheist?"

Yes and proudly so! I do not place faith in gods or supernatural forces. Nor do I believe they exist. By definition this makes me an atheist. I don't claim to have 100% knowledge either nor do I accept it's possible to have such omniscience. You do not have to be a "know-it-all" to know that magic just isn't real. It does help, however, to have some exposure and understanding in the sciences of Biology, Geology, Astronomy, Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology, Archeology and Chemistry. It doesn't hurt to know something about the origins of the Christian bible too. I don't claim to have the ultimate "proof" that no gods exist. Please read what I have to say about "Proof" further down on this same page. Most Christians easily dismiss all other gods but their own. They're almost right! I will attempt to present my case why the christian god, Jesus, is no more likely to be true than any other god.

Some would say it's possible to be both Agnostic and Atheistic but the term agnostic implies it is impossible to know whether or not a god exists. I don't accept that. I don't believe in "God" for the same reason I don't believe in Mother Goose... to coin a phrase.

Some think Atheism implies more than simply a lack of belief in a god. It is believed by some it also implies a lack of a belief system, faith and reverence. It should be understood that Atheism makes no statement about a belief system but rather non-belief. There are some organizations which would tack on a big list of meanings of the word but the bottom line is that "Atheism" is just the lack of "Theism" ("Theism" being a god belief system). That's it! "Atheism" is not and by definition cannot be a religion! However, a religion can have an atheistic foundation. This religion would not be called "Atheism" but might have a name such as "Humanism" or "Buddhism". It should also be noted that not all Humanists consider their perspectives as a form of religion and not all Buddhists consider themselves to be necessarily atheistic.

I define "belief" as more of gut feeling than a fact. It can still be based on reasonable expectations! I believe the friends I have today will still be my friends tomorrow. Certainly I have been disappointed in this regard. But I try to learn from the experience when choosing new friends. I believe in the power of love and positive thinking. It's not a mystical thing. I just think kindness is contagious! Are these notions "religious" in nature or are they simply humanistic in it's purest form? I tend to think humanism existed long before mysticism and there's a little bit of humanism in every religion. Strip away the gods, devils, miracles, heavens, hells and all the supernatural dogma and what is left is simply humanism! These are the ways to get along with each other here and now. In fact, without the humanistic elements to religion, it all becomes quite pointless don't you think? If your religion doesn't result in you becoming a better person, what good is it? My outlook doesn't require hymns or eulogy. It can simply be the quiet reverence for life and it's many mysteries! I think people have gotten the false impression in the past that I lacked the ability to appreciate the wonder of life and to love others simply because of the "A" word! It's not true and unfair to judge someone so!

I have chosen the appellation "Humanist" In addition to "Atheist" because it reflects both my concerns for humanity and my secular tendencies. Most atheists I've met care about issues on a far deeper level than a typical "believer" could ever imagine because they know that the only salvation will have to come from individuals helping themselves and each other! There simply is no rapture to rescue the human race! Either we face our problems with sober understanding or our ignorance and superstition will cause us to parish. We can do it! How do you think this country became great? It was the brightest among us who brought us from covered wagons and snake oil to cars, plains and modern medicine! It is the great irony and injustice that the very scientists of this country, most of whom are atheists whose inventions and discoveries are freely enjoyed by all, have been themselves shoved into the margins of our society and dismissed by the very people who benefit from Science and Technology every day. Prayer didn't create a single TV. No god ever built a single car! Gods couldn't even build their own temples! This is not because they were lazy. They are make believe!

There is a certain "harmony of opinion" among all skeptics that isn't present among Christians of different denominations. On this issue all skeptics can agree! We cannot sit back and hide our heads in the sand and expect things to get better on their own. All improvements to our standards of living have come from the toils of people using their minds and muscle to work together toward solving problems. Prayer won't magically make it happen. To get something done you must DO something!

"Atheists don't have a prayer!"

This is often said as a jab to the nonbeliever but it's quite true. If prayer is defined as the act of speaking to an all powerful deity, I must ask the reason for this. What is "speaking" if it is not communication of an idea? What information would you impart to an omniscient entity? Even if the message is simply "thank you", your gratitude would be known before you could say it. It really gets absurd when you begin asking for favors from this entity! Would not this being already know what's best for you? And what in the world does the phrase "God Bless America" mean anyway? Is this a prayer to the creator of the universe to single out a portion (with human defined boundaries) of a speck in space (our world) for happiness??? GET REAL!!! Individuals make their own happiness. There are no exceptions. The greatness of this country is that we have the constitutional right to do so.

So yes it's true that atheists don't have these issues about prayer because we understand that all gods are just make believe.

"Unbelievers are evil."

Nonsense! Do you really need a god to tell you what is right and what is wrong? If so, you are far more dangerous than any skeptic! Unfortunately, it is precisely this kind of confusion over which god is true and what his/her message is that has resulted in the wholesale murder of millions of people who dared to stand up and express their dissent. Indeed, most of the wars on this planet have had their roots in religious conflict of one kind or another. An Atheist is not going to imagine one day that his (her) god commands him (her) to kill all Christians or Jews or anyone else for that matter. You're much safer with an unbeliever living next door than with a religious fanatic! They DO kill people!

"Our church teaches us about atheists and humanists. We know that atheists have a hatred for God and Humanists believe they don't need God in their lives"

Again, atheists have no belief in a god or a magical "supernatural" world. Do you hate Ra, the sun god from Egyptian culture, or Mars, the roman god of war? They are myths just as your god is. There are certainly some aspects to a myth which can be counterproductive to progress and undermine the development of responsible ethics if taken literally. One only needs to read the news to see clear examples of this. But to say "an atheist hates God" makes as much sense as saying you hate the Easter Bunny! If you really want to understand a point of view you must go to the source. Use Reason as your guide. The irony of a christian calling anyone on the issue of "hatred" should be obvious!

"'In God We Trust' is on our money!"

Well that clearly doesn't speak for all of us does it. This is just another example of Christians trying to impose their beliefs on us all. The fact is this motto was not always on the U.S. currency. The earlier silver certificates had no religious motto. This did not become the official motto of our country until the mid fifties. So forget any connection to founding father's intent. Much more appropriate is the slogan "E Pluribus Unum". Latin for "from many, one", it's intended meaning here is "one nation from many roots"! This motto was on our money before the religious one, still is and it's the only one we need. It speaks to unity rather than division and isn't that more healthy for a nation?

"This is a Christian Nation! If you don't like it, get out!"

I'm not going anywhere! This is my country too! This nation was founded by individuals who knew only too well how ugly religious persecution could be. They were thinking of this in the construction of our constitution. The First Amendment was intended, in Jefferson's words, to be "a wall of separation between church and state". Human rights are never a priority in a theocracy! The founders of our land, though far from perfect, had the vision to attempt to build safeguards against a state endorsed religion. There are those who would destroy those ideals and make this a country where only Christians would have rights. We are close to that now! In such a world, the religious rulers would have absolute power! Do you really want our country ran by someone such as Pat Robertson?

"Why not? Christianity is the one true religion! God is Love!"

The one true religion? Than why are there so many conflicting denominations within this one religion? If you all worship the same god, how can you all be so confused about what he's trying to tell you? One might ask why an all powerful god would have so much trouble communicating with his creation. Just put a Baptist, a Mormon, a Catholic, and a Jehovah's Witness in the same room and see how much they agree with each other! Pick any five Christians at random from the same church and there's bound to be conflict! I could put together a far less confusing religion than this and so could you! Your holy book cannot even agree with itself!

"That's not true! The bible is perfect!"

All I need to do to prove something isn't perfect is show just one example where it isn't. This is where those who are easily offended should not look.

Most rational people would agree that the presence of a contradiction creates a flaw. Two opposing, mutually exclusive ideas cannot both be true. One doesn't need to look far in the "book of books" to find examples of this. There are many examples throughout the bible of conflicting concepts. Let's look at a few in the first two chapters. The first four words are a contradiction! "In the beginning God". How can it be the beginning if something existed before the beginning? There is day and night before there is a sun moon or stars?: Gen 1:3-5. A day is defined by our sun's light on our rotating globe. That should have been learned in GRADE SCHOOL! Elsewhere in the bible it seems to be describing the sky as a "firm" structure holding back the waters (see "firmament"). The "heavens" or sky is not a structure with several levels. It is simply everything else in the universe! Our planet is just a tiny rock; one of the hundreds of planets, moons, asteroids, dust etc. which orbit one star out of the billions of stars in our galaxy.

It gets better. In verse 24 the animals are made. Then, in verse 26, Man is made "in Our image". How many beings were doing this project anyway? Were they all gods? In verse 27, it says that both male and female human beings were created at this point in the story. You will see why I stress this point when we look at the second chapter.

In Chapter 2 we read in verse 5 that no plant had sprouted yet because there was no rain yet and no man to "cultivate the ground." But this is GOD! Why does He need a mere mortal to do this work. But wait! Look at chapter 1, verse 11! It says there WERE plants before man! Who WROTE this stuff? I'm not done yet! The beasts arrived before Man in chapter 1. Remember? Now let's look at chapter 2, verses 18 and 19. Man is ALONE! No beasts! God in his infinite wisdom decides that this just ain't no party for the man so what does Big Daddy do to solve this problem? Does he make a woman for him? Well not yet! First Mr. LORD either does something so stupid a two year old would know better; or he plays what could only be described as a cruel trick! He makes the animals and birds for the man as "helpers" for him. Helpers for what? Now stop shaking your head! Read on! The answer is found in verse 21 when God finally gets it right by making a woman! What a sick puppy this god must be! Fortunately he is only make believe. Unfortunately, too many folks have yet to figure this out! There are many other contradictions in this book, but only one example is needed to demonstrate its imperfection. I've just shown several in the first two chapters alone! I could come up with a much more consistent story than that! Do you really expect me to use this book as a guide for my life?

"Why are you attacking Christians? Why can't you mind your own business?"

I don't attack Christians! I attack certain christian ideas because they are wrong and harmful! It also happens to be the dominate religion in the society in which I live. Every time credulity is shown to these ideas, the implications are that, if you don't agree, you are immoral and don't deserve respect, a job, a position of authority, companionship, The love of your children or friends! The list goes on! Do you really think these ideas don't impact my life? Any non christian in this country can answer that question!

I love my country but I think it can be better! Those who disagree with the unconstitutional state endorsed religion still have the right to speak out and be heard. We must or this freedom could erode! If this happens, where would it stop? The most fundamental foundation of our land is the principle of freedom! No idea is above examination, including my own! Any idea which cannot stand in the arena of reason should be discarded! I don't hate Christians and I do not promote hatred. I didn't come to my conclusions as a result of having been wronged by a religious person. I had the audacity to question what I studied! I thought about it! It's my hope that more people soon learn to do so! Don't you think it's a little odd that people must speak for the supreme being of the universe? Can't this god speak for himself? If this god is real, where is he now?

"Jesus is in my heart! What's in yours?"

Blood! This statement reflects the ancient belief that the heart housed the soul. If the soul is defined as the essence of what makes us who we are, then that would be the brain. This is where our personality is defined. It is a physical phenomenon. When the brain dies, so does the "soul". So if you mean your god resides in your soul, This I can agree with. Thus is the nature of a fantasy. It's whatever you imagine it to be. Everyone has their own idea of what their god is. This is of course okay so long as you respect the rights of others to form their own conclusions.

"No! When I die, I'm going to Heaven! My soul is prepared. How's yours?"

Death is not just another stage of life. It's the ABSENCE of life! Everything dies. Rational folks don't seek it out or look forward to it; but there's no reason for anyone to fear death! No one will ever experience the actual state of being dead. Dead folks don't see, hear, touch, smell, taste, think, dance or do crossword puzzles! They're DEAD! We are self aware beings and we know only our life. We don't like to think of our eventual demise, but have no fear! You will never experience your own death. To experience something, you would have to be alive. Consider this: Have you ever been unconscious? Do you ever sleep? When you woke up, was there a lapse in time or consciousness? What did you feel during this lapse? Most people have trouble just remembering the dream they just had! Now if you can lose consciousness while you're still very much alive, how can you expect to retain your senses when you're dead? What use is a life without the ability to think or sense anything? Where's the advantage?

That said, it makes no sense to the Humanist to live for the day of death! When that day comes, the game is over! Rather, we try to live as best we can, while we can! No. We don't fear death, but we LOVE LIFE!

"Prove that God doesn't exist!"

It is just unbelievable how much I get this one! They blurt out that challenge thinking they've really got me now! All they are really doing is showing an ignorance of logic. They never seem to learn!

My statement that I don't believe proves only my doubt. That is all I need to prove. If you want my doubt to turn to belief, it's up to you to show me. The burden of proof lies with the ones asserting this god's validity and our obligation to him. Do you pretend that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or Darth Vader might be real just because you cannot prove they aren't? Maybe fairies really do come visit you while you're sleeping! Can you prove they don't? Can you prove that a human being cannot fly on his own power? Just because you haven't seen anyone do it doesn't prove it can't be done. I wouldn't go jumping off any cliffs though! Don't you see? With this logic, you would have to believe in EVERYTHING... even mutually exclusive statements. What system would you employ to discern which is rational and which is not?

"You speak of rational thought like you have a monopoly on Reason! Is it rational to think life simply sprang up on it's own, out of nothing? Something had to give it a little push and that something was God!"

Skeptics have never said Life comes from nothing! Only god believers say this! They say God did it all. They say this "Supreme Entity" existed before ANYTHING else! Is this not essentially saying God came from nothing? We are all material beings. We are made of matter. Therefore we conclude that matter must have existed before Life. Matter and energy are related. Energy does not exist in and of itself. It's a conversion of matter. The energy in our brains which produce thought could not exist without our brains. Therefore how could the most advanced mind in the universe exist without a universe? This whole argument rests on the assumption that complexity implies greater complexity. Where do we stop with this line of thought? If God caused the universe, what caused God? If you can think of your god as eternal I can think of the universe as eternal. I don't accept that Life came from nothing!

"Do you believe in Reincarnation?"

The following is taken from an actual email response to this question. The person I wrote to has never responded.

There are several issues related to Reincarnation which I challenge. For this reason, Reincarnation just makes no sense to me. Sure I have experienced Deja Vu before, but I would need much more than that to make me a believer. The experience of another person would not be enough either no matter how much I liked and respected that person. If it is not testable in an objective manner, I cannot take it seriously. Another person's experience is not my experience.

As far as I know, there is no testable evidence that energy can exist in and of itself without matter. Energy is a result of matter conversion. Even if I could accept that energy could exist independently of matter, I would still need to see a reason to think it could possess sentient Life! I define the Soul as the essence of who we are. In my view, this is a physical, measurable process in our brains. When the brain is asleep or in a comatose state, our senses are seriously impaired or nonexistent. There is no reason for me to think we would go on living as sentient beings after the death of our brains. Everything alive has a starting point and an ending point. There is no reason for me to believe Human Beings, advanced as we may be, are any different in this regard.

The issue of reincarnation assumes an immortal soul, but this is not the only issue it raises. It also implies that Human life is eternal with no beginning and no end. But Life on this planet as we can measure it had a definite beginning. The fossil records go back only so far and then there's nothing. What were all these eternal souls doing all that time before Human life began? Plus there is the issue of population. If the population of our world was constant, reincarnation might be one explanation to consider (assuming the immortal soul). But the population constantly changes! It's growing! Do souls just wait around in limbo before they get a body? Do souls have a birth-point? A birth-point would imply a finite existence and a death point would logically follow. Did these sentient masses of energy exist before there was a universe? You see there are a number of illogical notions connected to the reincarnation issue. There must be a reasonable expectation of truth for me to place faith in something. I know that all life as we can measure it and test it is made of matter. Therefore I conclude matter must have existed before life. At this point in my life I cannot accept that a living being, be it a god, goddess or soul, could have existed before the universe existed! There must be a foundation for life and in my view that is matter. Show me just one example in nature, which is testable, where life exists without matter as a starting point and I will reconsider my whole outlook! It's harder for me to imagine life without matter to support it than to accept that it was a random material process! I don't know how life began. No one does. It began because it could! The conditions were right at that time and place. That's good enough for me.

"I don't KNOW God exists. It's called Faith! Atheists have faith too! Mine is in the Lord!"

I've heard this one a surprising number of times. It's a commonly held belief that having faith somehow is virtuous. It isn't. "Faith", in and of itself, is not a virtue. My understanding of this is the core difference between my "faith" and that of a religious person. I may feel my faith is justified in my friends or an established routine. This would be a faith based on precedent. Do I know that my friends will never betray me or that an established routine will always give the expected result? No...not with 100% certainty and this is the nature of "faith". Faith exists only where knowledge does not! Knowledge displaces and trumps faith!

Knowledge can be attained only though objective methods. This is Science. Far from a strength, religious faith is a resignation. Knowledge is no longer important to the person of faith! The pronouncement of faith is the conversation stopper! "I don't know but I have faith!" Science doesn't have ALL the answers. No one ever said it does. It certainly has many of the answers. More is known about our world and our lives now than ever before and new discoveries are constantly being made. Religion has NEVER offered any new knowledge about our world and the way things work! Rather remarkable for a discipline purportedly derived from an omniscient being! In fact, history is full of examples where religious faith has had to retreat with the advance of Scientific knowledge. While I may display faith under certain circumstances, my so-called "faith" is never unconditional. If you are a person of faith who nevertheless insists that knowledge is important to you, ask yourself this question: "What would need to happen to make me loose my faith?". Nothing is unconditional to a genuine truth seeker.

"What if I'm right and you're wrong? Aren't you taking a big chance with your life?"

Without Reason as your guide, how do you discern the difference? This is a variation of "Pascal's Wager" which is well known to skeptics. Basically it goes like this: If God exists and I believe, I win. If God exists and I don't believe, I loose it all. On the other hand if god doesn't exist and I believe anyway, I haven't lost anything.

There are some basic problems with this attitude. You are wagering the only life you know on the ancient, translated, imperfect writings of several old texts (authorship mostly unknown) which were written at a time when the world was thought to be flat and at the center of the universe. The universe itself was thought to be a series of concentric half-shells above the Earth, never minding the obvious difference between "center" and "below"! Bleeding was thought to be a good medical practice when someone got sick. Sometimes it was thought that nothing should be done at all to attempt to cure someone. This person was being punished! (Sound familiar?) With such a flawed picture of reality, it's incredible that their ideas of God are not thrown out with the rest of the garbage! It's not surprising at all that a religion would use scare tactics to discourage noncompliance. At one time it was necessary for it's very survival. Unfortunately, it has worked beyond all original, reasonable expectations! It has inertia now and it's easier to go with the flow than to think independently.

If you want to wager your whole life on that, go for it! You have that protected right and you will be in the majority. If you insist that these beliefs be imposed on me, however, it remains your task to convince me. I was a Christian for the first 30 years of my life. I have been an Atheist/Freethinker for at least 20 years. In my lifetime I have become quite familiar with both sides of the argument. I put it all together within the first few months of my transition from believer to skeptic. In over 20 years, I've heard nothing new! That doesn't mean I have a closed mind. Consider how open your mind would need to be in order to even consider the possibility that there is no god! I have done this, against the opinions of the majority! My mind remains open now! I would love to be shown something new to consider. Why? Because "Truth" is not subject to vote and I am a relentless seeker of it! I will never know all truth. I don't need to. But some issues have such an effect on my life that solid conclusions must be formed. This is what I have done while retaining a connection to open-mindedness! Hopefully this website will be an aid to friends and associates in understanding who I am. It is sometimes easier to judge than to understand. It's time for us all to evolve!

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The candle has been lit times!


A Time and a Word... from the author:

The classical, art rock group "Yes" has been one of my all time favorite bands since the "Fragile" album first was released in 1972! I was a senior in high school at the time and it was one of the first Rock albums I ever owned (along with Led Zeppelin's 4th). I think their music celebrates the human spirit of creativity like few others have! Some would say it is ironic that I would embrace a group such as Yes because of all the religious overtones of their music. But what is "religion" if it isn't Humanity searching for meaning? I don't have to totally accept or even understand every literal word to appreciate the remarkable beauty of their art and the uplifting tone of the sounds! As a Humanist, I do relate to many of the positive messages I hear them say in the music! They transcend all the religions of the world and no one religion can lay claim to them as their own! I'm proud to pay tribute to them on my site which celebrates Life!


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