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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Ralph, you know I respect and like and admire you very, very much. I need to go make a run for hard wood so I have heat in my house. Then I must spend another hour or so unloading it from my 15 yr old pick-up into my basement. I do wish to further adress your points and concerns on this matter. And I will once I get the firewood detail done.
Thank you Reggie. I work hard at keeping my friend Reverend Monty Knight close to me while he is President of the Charleston Chapter of Americans United for Separation of State from Church. I've spoken with Reverend Barry Lynn on many occasions too, he's national executive director. I"m afraid however that what we all have accomplished is creating little dry islands of secularity in a sea of theocratic defacto and dejure ongoing spending and enabling. Monty with Reverend Unitarian Neal Jones of Columbia, Hindus, Muslims and two liberal Methodists sued and won the license plate scam of the legislature to have ten thousand "I believe" words next to a stained glass church window with a red crucifix in the middle. The ACLU is not helping with crimes at the abortion clinic. They too are over worked, under funded and less inclined to help Atheists and instead helped the Dover case of Christian parents for science vs Creationists in PA..... by being in the trenches on Fusler Road and the firestation crucifix and nativity creche shit, we fight for abortion rights and secular gov't symbolism.
You apparently have not studied much about Native Americans, then. Many where animists and pantheists and they did NOT have slavery and rape as a war tool or as a regular practice in their societies...until the wassitcha (the white ones) came.
But MANY did NOT, Doone!
Atheists are not almost non-religious. There has never been a society where rigorous critical thinking was part and parcel of the language and lifestyle. China is not so nice to their peasants and sweat shop workers while developing a middle class that has state funded "traditional medicine" which is completely unscientific and not tested by scientists. Not a lot of critical thinking in gawdless China buddy......Maybe you suffer under the Webster delusional false definition of Atheism? Atheism is about freedom from theism. Having a lack of theism in your brain. Webster presumes an extant alleged deity and falsely posits we Atheists "deny god." Atheists demand proof. I gave you proof and you still cling to some sort of debate point parsing Christian perpetrators from non-xian perpetrators. You shift in and out between the content of the religion which is harmful and hypothetical analysis so that you might find somewhere a non- religious rapist enslaving culture. This is totally absurd. Maybe if you had a bit more empathy towards women, a spouse, your sisters in our species, you would not spend so much time debating fine points of the most reprehensible institutions called religions. Hell threats, heaven bribes, circumcizing baby boys, brutalizing young girls slicing off labia and digging out a clitoris with a dirty knife. This shit is happening today and yes much of it is done by women against women. Jane Goodall did document some rare violence that seems to approximate a war party of a few chimps. And primate females submitting to male fucking does not look like hair pulling, weapon threats or drugging of females to sex without consent. You just keep desperately clinging to what possible utility of a point?
Doone: "I agree that many of the injustices perpetrated on women in this world are aided, excused and abetted by mainstream religions. In addition I am saying that even if religion was abolished there still would be evil in the world."

So, are you saying we shouldn't work towards eliminating as much of these injustices as humanly possible by weaning society from religion, particularly the Abrahamic monotheistic religions?
Weaning society from religion seems very unrealistic. And that really is my whole point about going after the beast by attacking the toughest part of it's armor. But what we all can agree on is that we should be working towards eliminating these injustices. In that respect, we are all allies.
Right on Reggie. We are not about weaning society from religion. We are about defending a secular republic Constitution and fighting theocracy one illegal funding and enabling at a time. After a time, more and more secularists, believers and Atheists alike will turn back the tide of McCarthyism and the illicit funding of religious institutions which are the facades of respectability for theocrats like Sanford, Ensign, Coburn and Grassley. Anti-semitism was not defeated with one movie and one legal case 7 decades ago. And in doing so, a new problem arose. Nazi Germany was defeated and the killing of Jews was stopped. But Jews have become new Nazi's practicing genocide against Palestinians who want most of their land back from the israeli conquistadors. People often accuse American Atheists of being Stalinists. Of course this is absurd. Stalin was Jesuit trained and created a police state loyal to his personality cult. His so called Scientific Atheism was merely a cartoonish book for sale in Soviet airports pointing out the worst of Russian Orthodox oppression of Russian peasants. This is not critical thinking. Communist Dialectics are assembled lists of do's and don'ts in economic decision making shuffled off up the line from discussions to the Politburo and factory/farm committees. American Atheists are appealing to all citizens equally to honor government neutrality towards faiths and facts. Neither favoring Christianity nor promoting Atheism which is repudiating all irrational religions. Free exercise of religion only has the boundary of violence and harm done to children. Adult Jehovah's Witnesses are free to refuse a blood transfusion, but parents can not neglect their medical needs of JW children.
Well Doone, I can't speak for LCC. I can only speak for me. My guess is that he probably mis-read — and therefore misunderstood — what points you were trying to raise in this discussion. But that is only a GUESS on my part.

When you raised your points with respect to my positions, I addressed them. Surely, you can see that my responses to your posts are just that — mine. Not LCC's.

I never called you an idiot.

I never addressed your posts in an insulting or rude manner.

Nor do I write in one huge run-on paragraph post that makes reading and deciphering an eye-sore. Being dyslexic, I tend to avoid reading posts that are constructed like that because it's simply too difficult for me to visually process what I'm looking at.

Therefore, do not judge my books (which you have not read), or my "cause" by what someone else posts here who is not me or authorized by any form of power-of-attorney to speak for me — I can certainly speak for myself in matters where I am knowledgeable, and know enough to keep my mouth shut in matters where I am not as knowledgeable.

Judge my argument or my claim on my responses. And address LCC's according to his.
JHS and LCC are not Siamese Twins. I do not recall JHS blaming Jews, Xians and Muslims for all religious harm. I do recall her many citations of harm in Hindu, animist and Jain cultures, which is approaching the whole spectrum of religions. Give it up pal. You got a wild hair in debate class and you need to shave or squeeze off the zit around that wild hair. What do you have to gain in your precious ten per cent? You think your are a bit smarter than her? You think you will improve her message with some silly statement that slavery can exist without religion? What does it prove if you find an Atheist rapist? That does not excuse the core of biblical oppression ov over one billion citizens in cultures and missionary polluted societies. Come on my man, you wrote a fine piece on the Congressional C Street Cult. We need to get the word out on that, not piss on JHS because you are conditioned to argue with women.
I've read and re-read your several claims which still make no sense. It is impossible to abolish religion. If one attempted to, one would be creating an Atheist Cult seeking to force critical thinking into primitive believers heads. I spoke about primate rape. I cited Goodall's chimp violence. I've done no harm to JSH. You seem to be wanting to make her water down her proven explicit statements. You did write very well about the C Street Congressional Cult. I give credit where credit is due. Give up on this silly religion is not necessary for rape and slavery. It is not a defense of religious rape and religious slavery.
what is your problem? I never said there would always be religions, I said there has never been a 100 per cent Atheist society. If you knew anything at all about psychology, many scholars and clinicians write that children are likely to feel like their parents are gods in their earliest years and such deep feelings spill over into adolescence and beyond into adulthood. Ignoring religion is not Atheism. When you make bizarre assumptions about an Atheist sharing brief polemics with you, me thinks what ye say about me is true about ye. Atheists have no beliefs. We Atheists are thinking without theism. Theism is all about miracles, magical thinking, pretending voices in the head are from alleged deities. Whether you were told of alleged deities by your parents or not, our language is awash in bigotry against Atheists. It is strawman argumentation to pretend I implied we'll always have religion. I made it very clear each individual must practice critical thinking and demand proof from the alleging party. Why the hell point out a useless point that about non-religious rape or non-religious slavery. JHS condemns it. You want to inject some ten percent undeserving of her condemnation? True and false. Silly and sentient. Take your pick.

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