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.

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LCC: "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."

I don't think Doone was trying to make "idiotic points." I think he/she was questioning the degree of culpability that Abrahamic monotheism has in the abuse and discrimination against women and girls in the US, if I read the post correctly. And don't worry, if I am sponsored to go abroad again, I *will* get to the Hague with my laundry list and press for the indictment of those responsible. That is where I will "get down and dirty."
Reggie: "If religion vanished overnight, women would not suddenly find themselves thrust into equality with men throughout the world."

Of course not! How could it when religiously-inspired and baptized oppression of women and girls has been so deeply ingrained and embedded within every thread of the fabric of our society for the last two millenia (at least)? It did not happen overnight, and will not be rectified overnight. But the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Religion has served as the mortar for cementing together the architecture of aggression on which our society today as we know it was founded.
@ Jacqueline

I don't disagree that religion hasn't been a force in oppressing women or others. I posted elsewhere that religion did not make misogynists, misogynists made religion. But that isn't exact, either. Upon further reflection, I think it has been both.
Read Michaels remarks today as he wants to drop an "anti-matter bomb" on the Cistine Chapel..... he's a guy you might wish to discuss militant Atheism with doone
a hypothetical does not prove any point, religion is not going to vanish over night.... as for women remaining loyal to an oppressive system, the basic concept of "denial" applies to men too..... just because fewer males participate in churches does not equal more Atheist males than females....Ralph makes the social point, but as JSH points out the vast majority of anti-abortion nuts are males, most women would never force another woman to stay pregnant.....but males out number female protestors and clinic bombers by 8 to one....I'm an eyewitness and victim of their attacks each Saturday for 48 months now.... religion is all about guilt manipulation and mind controls, how else to keep a slave submissive? Whipping is not as effective as brain washing... get anyone to think an alleged deity haunts every thought and a willing victim is there
Doone, you posted your reply to Larry to my post accidently I think — that stupid Ning thing strikes again ::rolls eyes::.
Doone: "Just like Christians who argue that we need religion to be moral when all we really need to be moral is to be primates and social apes, NOT having religion will not eliminate evil men from history or make women more equal. Better Laws and cultural evolution will help more than blaming everything on religion."

Ok. I gotcha.
Doone: "....slavery does not need religion to exist. Slave owners would have found some other justification for the horror of slavery even if they were all atheists and did not read the Bible."

Well Doone, that's a tricky call. We don't know for sure exactly what would have happened. We only know what *did* happen.
another repeated gibberish argument, it is insane to say that a Christian slave owner of Douglass and Douglass mother, needed not to be Christian? He was a Christian and he raped the slave woman and he allowed his "son" some run of the house where he secretly learned to read, was brutally whipped by his "father" and being Christian did not stop him from slave owning, raping and whipping and teaching Douglass to seal and repair wooden ships. What kind of nonsense is it to say a white Christian who rapes a woman today need not be Christian? Indeed, because they are Christians rapists are forgiven every day by Chuck Colson Prison Ministries. And the Christian religion teaches Christians to forgive themselves. What you incompetently might wish to argue is that Christians are crying foul of guilt by association. But name one Christian that "repents" of the King James Bible verses that legitimize slavery, rape and murder? What single still professing Christian repudiates bible content and invents their own new version of Christianity and declares they can still believe while condemning their book as we do? That remains the unanswerable truth that slavery is inseparable from Christianity. A non-slave holding Christian is only guilty of belief and loyalty to their slave book, you can only argue for their innocence from slave owning. The bullshit of forgiveness is the concept of Christian over use, not the precise and inarguable fact that religions do harm people. If someone chooses to forgive a perpetrator, that is their right, but society has the right to prosecute a crime on behalf of a victim who has forgiven a perpetrator. Slavery is illegal. Rape is illegal. The point is moot you keep bringing up if somehow you could search the universe for a raping enslaving society that is comprised of 100 per cent Atheists. That is the only thing insulting and over the top doone,
I doubt that religions primarily survive because they provide happiness and primary comfort. I think they survive because giving them up is uncomfortable when they have been inculcated from birth by one's parents, teachers and surrounding culture.
pretending "religion must brought happiness and comfort" is akin to LSD or heroin brings happiness and comfort......delusional ideation, inducing "glossalalia" rapture beliefs, suicidal go to heaven beliefs is no more comforting or happy than drunkenness and stupor....any Atheist who exaggerates and repeats lies that religion, as fully applied in a life, is worthy of defense is insane or woefully ignorant of the scope and breadth of theocracy and the billions of lives lost without health care ever since the Vatican declared: "where you find 5 doctors ye shall find 4 Atheists...." .... the starvation of a billion Hindus while brahman cows only feed butter for funeral pyres is an insame fact no Atheist can or should defend, along with the burning of millions of widows on such funeral pyres of their dead husbands who owned their female bodies....Buddhism in Atheist China is also killing millions of people with "traditional medicine" pure quackery which is prtected and funded by the state there..... religion kills and at best is benign in lives minimally applied, but does deny believers the opportunity of critical scientific thinking where they could seek real cures, real solutions based living instead of never recieving a single answer to a single prayer and no miracle has yet to happen on this planet
Larry: "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."

I am not "woefully under-informed" — I know how dangerous they are. And I also know they got in because mainstream "moderates" voted for them. But when I say such things, that makes me a "militant" "man-hating" feminist and blah blah blah. Soo...I'm just trying to keep it toned down a bit.


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