Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie — An Atheist Defends Atheism

Initially, I was going to post this as a rebuttal to refute the letter written by Bruce Sheiman and any misconceptions that fence-sitters may develop after reading Mr. Sheiman's book, "An Atheist Defends Religion." Mr. Sheiman's letter to a reader is re-printed in another thread that was posted by Noisican under the Ethics and Morals forum. Since my rebuttal to Mr. Sheiman's position is too long for a reply post on that existing discussion, I believe it merits its own discussion.

Mr. Sheiman's position (in short) is that since religion offeres many people comfort, happiness, and a sense of purpose in life, then it is only right to defend religion as a social good. I find several things wrong with that.

First, in the most well-known religions since the time of the Neolithic Revolution during the time of Hammurabi's Codified Law, religion caused more suffering than it brought happiness and comfort. History and archeology shows us by the excavation of ancient sites and analysis of recovered grave goods alone that for everyone who received "comfort" from religion, many more did not.

From the beginning of the Neolithic Revolution up through the end of the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, and into the 19th century, women (half the human race) were frequently targeted for becoming fodder for religion — from ritual sacrifice to appease the gods/God, to extra punishments, torture and execution for violating gender-defined roles promoted and dictated by religion. Ruins of ancient ritual sites show us that victims of human sacrifice did not die nice, peaceful deaths. Many were unwilling. For them, the idea that religion brought them "comfort" or "happiness" is highly questionable. They were hewn down before the prime of their lives without getting much of the benefits that makes life worthwhile living.

In polytheistic religions in Meso-America as well as in ancient Europe and the regions known as the "Fertile Crescent", victims of human sacrifice were often violently killed in their youth. This does not even include all the atrocities and human rights violations that have occurred, and which are being occurred today, in the name of Abrahamic monotheism.

Additionally, religion always seemed to explain why some people were spared the cruelties of war and natural disasters, but not others, and this set a lot of people up for marginalization. It promoted an ideology that God (or the gods) favored this or that group, but not others. It's downright despicable when you think about it.

It's selfish and inconsiderate to say, "God spared me/my family" in a natural disaster. What kind of message does that send to others who weren't so fortunate? That they or their loved ones weren't "worthy" enough of God's favor to be spared? Or how about, "God was on my child's team's side" at high school sports events. What about the parents of the children on the other school's team? Why wasn't God on their team's side?

It is more than insulting to hear these kind of statements. But it is even more of an insult to my intelligence to be told that this is all somehow OK just because some people are benefiting from religion, because such "benefits" frequently are not without expense or loss suffered by too many others. Women are still being told today across the US and other nations in the world that any extra suffering they're forced to bear as a consequence of divine decree from god will be made right in the afterlife. A preoccupation with the afterlife dismisses the importance of enjoying the one life you've got right now, and the importance of social responsibility to doing your part to make life suck just a little bit less for yourself and everyone else while you're here.

It is the weighing of benefits v. costs that must be examined honestly and painfully before making any apologia for religion as an overall social good.

As a fellow author, I respect Mr. Sheiman's honest endeavor to produce a book of compelling introspection. But his is not a position I can agree with. As one author to another, I would recommend reading his book but I would also have to recommend reading mine, Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie, which is the antithesis to his noble effort.

As an atheist, and especially as a woman, I take greater comfort knowing that there are other like-minded men and women — from young to old — who recognize the importance of purging harmful dogma from societal influence. A preoccupation with an afterlife diminishes the value placed on the quality of life in THIS one. I would find greater comfort knowing that as a woman, it wasn't my predestined lot in life to have to suffer extra punishment, pain, misery, and injustice with the justification that I'll get my reward in some afterlife. So yeah, having harmful religious influences criticized and estopped from making so many people suffer in this life — knowing that in the end I'll be "worm food" — is a greater comfort for me than any false hopes and empty promises offered by religion ever could be.


Tags: afterlife, comfort, human, justice, philosophy, reality, religion, rights, social, theism, More…truth, values

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Thank you Vincent :)

I also get annoyed when theists (fundie Xtian types especially) insist that atheists do not "know what love is." I beg to differ! I would even assert atheists overall in general may even have a healthier concept of what "love" is than those predisposed to believing in a death cult that assigns too much emphasis on misery in this life as a condition of getting "rewarded" and finding happiness in an afterlife that no one has yet been able to prove exists.

When "love" is equated with oppressing women by influencing government and passing laws restricting/eliminating access to contraceptives and/or abortion because of a tyrannical religious majority (Christians), I say who needs that kind of "love?" Here in the US, many public schools across the nation have Intelligent Design taught as "science" and "abstinence-only" sex education. The academic preparedness for college is abysmal because of this. Gays are routinely targeted for violent assaults because of Christian fundies' idea of "love."

My book (pictured above and available on Amazon.com) gets into extensive detail what women are dealing with in the United States in most states — as well as the entire history of extortion, fraud and human rights violations promoted by the Roman Catholic Church (followed by Protestant reformers) and Mormons, in the name of "love."

And for those who say, "well, the extremists who do these things aren't real Christians", I beg to differ. They ARE real Christians. They are operating from the same Bible which is the same foundational doctrine for the more "liberal" churches. When the God of the Bible is the moral compass used to guide these people's actions, from voting to bombing abortion clinics to shut them down, it is the doctrine itself that must be criticized.

Verse after verse from Genesis to Revelations is pregnant with stories of rape, incest, genocide, and oppression of all sorts. Anyone operating under the belief that the Bible and its god is the inviolable truth, is operating under such a system of "love" and "morality" and there is nothing moral or loving about any of that.
Damn girl you go!
I will go even further with this rhetorical question: How much "comfort" can possibly be derived under threat of death for apostasy?


Note: it is not only fundamentalist Islams that call for death of heretics (apostates). Mosaic Law = Sha'ria Law, and there are increasing numbers of Christian fundamentalists calling for the resurrection of Mosaic Law — their movement is called the "theonomy movement." I must seriously question whether the "comfort" religion offers is genuine when one has this proverbial Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads.
Governor Sanford sits in Columbia, America's first homeless governor, as he is not welcome anywhere but the Governors mansion and Jenny Sanford has filed for divorce and total custody of her 4 boys. As a member of Congress, he lived at the C Street cult with greatly reduced rent, due to the fact that the house was a former nunery and was and still is tax exempt property, just walking distance to the Congress, most people would be paying 4000 thousand dollars a month to live there, Sanford paid just a few hundred. He is responsible with his fellow Congressional Cultists in setting up the Ugandan xian who is poised to kill homosexuals and jail for twenty years anyone who does not turn them in. They are responsible for involvement in Somalia and the deaths of our heroic troops. America's First Family of Atheism was Jon, Robin and Madalyn, I think they were kidnapped, held at gunpoint for extortion of a half million in gold, raped and beheaded in that order. A living sitting Travis county Texas Judge has the blood on his hands letting the mastermind of a quadruple murder and triple kidnapping and 4 week long gang rape go free on a promise to pay back 56 thousand stolen dollars from American Atheists. Austin Texas police can be blamed for that because they refused to release the arrest record of David Waters before he stole much of anything. He spent time in prison for killing a guy in a bar fight and brutally beating his own mom for extorting her money. And a judge let this guy go free on probation? My own daughter was threatened by mail 4 times, twice from an Iowa prison mail system and twice from the Tennessee Federal Hospital Prison where the perpetrator was jailed for mail crimes against the Iowa City Prosecutor who put her in prison for forgery. By the logic of these good xian jailers, prisoners have the right to pen, paper and stamps just like arsonists have the right to matches and fuel? She was convicted of those weapons in crime. But my daughter was written lesbian rape fantasies and told she would be burned to death with her entire family if she did not masturbate and mail to the jail the underwear during the masturbation..... you trust Chuck Colson Prison Ministries to help let such criminals out or the prison itself that read the mail and let it be delivered? Get real people, we are fighting massive incompetence at best and genocidal misogyny and global polluting war profiteers all hiding behind religion.
Ralph: "I don't think in either case, that the bible can tell us much about how fundamentalists and modernists arrive at their belief positions. It seems like they go looking for verses to back up the beliefs they want."

True. But here's the rub: the moderate Xtians who go for the hippie, peace and love Jesus by cherrypicking bible verses are not going against their more angry, fanatical brethren at the ballot box. Guys like Sen. Stupak didn't win election to Congress by a small fanatical extremist minority of voters. He (and the rest of his ilk in Congress) got in because the moderate Christians AGREE to a certain extent with the political objectives pushed by the fundies whom they publicly distance themselves from while privately supporting them.
Stupak represents a Maryland Congressional District with active KKK and white separatists easily found in newspapers available in gas stations and convenience stores. Frankly I feel that J S Homan and many Atheists here are woefully under informed just how deadly our enemies are. If Atheists really think the closet is a safe place and pseudo Atheists like Sheiman are serving their interests, such Atheists are sorely mistaken. Roman Catholics are dominated by a Nazi pope. Stupak has a huge constituency of these scummy people as well. For all the "good" and "peace" Roman Catholics do through Catholic Charities, handing out do-nuts and coffee to the poor street people or running a homeless shelter, these same "Democrats" refuse to support Labor Unions that would lift all wages for all jobs that make the street people so poor and unemployed. The Defense of Atheism is a fine piece of writing. But the poltical realities of Stupak is that he is not a Senator, he is a vicious thug in sheeps clothing who manipulated other corrupt Democrats into a voting majority to harm women in the United States House of Representative. And the massive corruption of Nancy Pelosi allowed this to occur. We are waging a tiny almost Quixotic fight against trillion dollar thieves and genocidal maniacs "healed" by the love of Jesus Fucking xist. We have a sitting Governor violating all of the Christian marriage ideals he campaigned on and this C STREET CONGRESSIONAL CULT MEMBER is allowed to remain in office. Few people fully see how "The Family" is a pervasive powerful group that holds a National Prayer Breakfast each year in WDC and all Presidents suck up to it since FDR. Even JFK pretended these fascist protestants were not enemies of his personal Catholicism. I HAVE BEEN TELLING PEOPLE THEOCRACY IS TREASON FOR 19 YEARS NOW EACH AND EVERY YEAR. This is not some cute strident quip. This is backed by the evidence of hundreds of murderous individual traitorous acts committed by millions of believers and cowardly Atheists like Congressmember Pete Stark who has done next to nothing to slow it all down. I do not wish to discourage dear J S Homan or Vincent or McRae one bit, but I think ye all be green recruits in the war of seasoned Veteran American Atheists versus McCarthyism. You know your stuff and you will keep on fighting well. I just know that we need lots of perimeter guards and I personally know that we need better field rations so that we have food for the journey, warm battle clothes for our winter of Valley Forge here. I APPLAUD YOU ALL BECAUSE YOU DO HAVE THE WEAPONS NEEDED TO FIGHT. keep telling the truth. Call me the chaplain at the eulogy to our fallen Atheists. Remember Bill Moore. Remember CC Moore. Remember America's First Family of Atheism. Remember Margaret Sanger, her sister died at the hands of the vicious Catholic Church who fought even one hundred years ago to stop birth control at all costs. Remember Frederick Douglass. Remember Elizabeth Cady Stanton who died after 6-7 babies and gestational diabetes which eventually killed her. Remember Susan Brownell Anthony, our true and first woman President of the United States who campaigned in nearly all continental states and territories for equality and justice and freedom from patriarchal theocracy. And remember our Benedict Arnold of Feminist Atheism, Ayn Rand who sold out to personal wealth accumulation and racist hatred of Soviet socialism. We continue to be the bearers of Thomas Paine truth. We must expose the fundamental roots of theocratic power. The King James Bible remains an obscene pornographic illegal to mail book. Tell everyone that President McKinley pardoned CC Moore for this very crime Comstock prosecuted, wrote the legislation and Ingersoll refused to defend at trial.
Remember Bill Moore carried the mail and died in Alabama with his sign: "Atheists For Civil Rights." keep our eyes on the prize of freedom from theocracy and keep up the good work of words for reality, 843-926-1750 Dial An Atheist Larry Carter Center
If you consider the harm done just to women alone, religion has hurt them more than comforted them. That's half the human race right there. In the case of Islamic theocracies, women are especially harmed. And so are men who dare to become apostates. Because it means a fatwa, a death sentence.
Doone: "JSH, Not all human religions have been anti woman, there must have been SOME women in history who benefited from religion."

Very few compared to the overall big picture, compared to the majority of women. Saying that just because SOME religions may have benefited SOME women with the implication of " therefore let's not care about the harm it's done to MOST women" is like saying that because we have SOME blacks in Congress and one in the Presidency means racism is no longer a major problem for the majority of black people.
Well, when your life sucks because of being conscripted to reproductive dhimmitude, and the ONLY thing you have to hope for is that you'll get some pie-in-the-sky reward in the afterlife for all your suffering, it makes religion appealing...like a bad case of the "Battered Wife Syndrome" or even the "Stockholm Syndrome".

And while women might have suffered even without religion, they would not have suffered anywhere near as much as they have (and continue to) under patriarchal monotheism.

When I drove a neighbor 90 miles to the nearest abortion clinic a week and a half ago, it wasn't being picketed by atheists. It was being picketed by angry (mostly white) Xtian men and a few women. Childbirth is not being made a mandatory health and life-risking burden by the majority of atheist men.
over stating being killed by religion? What kind of fucking useless debate point is that? Over stating that women are blindly loyal to the system that oppresses them? The vast majority of slaves never revolted from their whipping, raping, murderous owners. So therefore, we should not over state that slavery was bad? They constantly shoved this idiotic point into the face of Frederick Douglass. So much so that after decades of Christians complaining that Douglass should not hold Christianity accountable to a system inseparable from the King James Bible, he actually went to his fathers death bed to "forgive him" the xian thing to do? His father, white, raped his property, Douglass' mother..... Here again, JS Homan, don't argue with idiotic points like this on general grounds .... GET DOWN AND DIRTY WITH THE WORST OF IT ALL WITH NAMES AND HISTORIC VICTIMS
LCC, I think you miss the thrust of doone's point, perhaps you stopped reading his post after the first sentence. If religion vanished overnight, women would not suddenly find themselves thrust into equality with men throughout the world. If you disagree with that, plainly say so and why instead of resorting to polemics and ignoring inconvenient points by changing the subject.
Reggie, Doone:

I get what you're saying. THings are hectic here at the moment and I would like to explain in fuller detail when things calm down here.

In sum, it is the areas where patriarchal monotheism has communities, states, and nations in a stranglehold that women suffer the worst. And that is because of the ingrained systemic socia, dynamics that spill over into court rooms where the judge is a fundie, or a mullah, or an FLDS elder. Make sense?

WOmen face misogyny everywhere. But in more secualr communities, the degree of it is a lot less because the courts are more secular, giving women more of a voice than they have if they face a judge who is of the opinion held by theologians like Bruce Ware. And that does not mean we should let it go and fail to change things, but it DOES show us that religion tends to baptize and justify abuse and discrimination against women in severity and depth and frequency. I will write more on this in a bit, by showing how just the book of Genesis alone is used to excuse this sort of thing in fundie areas.

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