An Atheists’ Manifesto .
The issue of roadside shrines and the bell towers of various churches, in the middle of or close to the battlefields but apparently untouched by shelling during World War I.
It has been claimed that there was, a somehow supernatural influence, which caused these holy places to be preserved, while all around them, millions of young men were literally blown to pieces, mangled by shellfire and bullets, bodies lost, churned up in the ‘liquifiedmudmuckbloodybodypartspissvomitpussshite’ of those charnel house battlefields in North-western France and Belgium.
How absurd it is to think, that if there were a God who so valued his holy shrines and bell towers, that he gave them his protection from a rain of steel and fire, while ignoring the plight of those that, we are assured, he loved above everything else.
He is a compassionate god as it were.
Well tell that to the 25 million+ humans torn from their homes in West Africa and transported against their will to the Americas to be sold like animals into a life of backbreaking toil, brutality cruelty & murder.
Tell it to the victims of
Auschwitz of Berkinau of Sobbibor of Treblinka of Dachau of Buchenwald of Sashenhausen Lublin,
Majdenek, Chelmo, Flosenburg or Ravenbuck, Westerbork and Drancy. Belzec, Stutthof, Bergen-Belsen and Dora-Mittelbau and Neuengamme, or in the 42,000 Nazi administered, detention, work and concentration camps in Germany and German occupied Europe.
Tell those children assembled at the Vel d’Hiv for transportation to Auschwitz & death in the gas chambers.
The innocents murdered in Babiyar or Odessa, those executed in Budapest and dumped in the Danube
Tell those estimated 40 million prisoners of the Stalinist purges murdered in the gulag’s & Siberia.
Tell the murdered of Katynn of Macedonia of the Killing Fields of Cambodia or those of Srebrenica & the Balkans.
Tell the millions of young men who died on the Western front, Eastern front , Russian front and Dardanelles in WW I.
Tell the millions of soldiers who died WWII
Tell the millions of innocent civilians who died in the bombing of Britain, Germany, German occupied Europe & Japan during WW 2.
Tell the innocent civilians of Nanking and other cities in China where a brutal and ruthless Japanese Imperial Army raped and murdered the unarmed populations during the Sino Japanese war.
Tell the countless who died under the rain of American bombs in Hanoi, Laos & northern Vietnam & all those murdered in every one of the small Mai Lai massacre’s, perpetrated in southern Vietnam
during that war, and every other war since we became Homo sapiens the killing machine.
Tell those who died in inquisitions, purges and pogroms and those who have died in pain and terror, pleading with their God to save them.
Tell the Aztec, the Inca the Mexica and all the indigenous tribes of the Americas north and south, who died by steel, at the stake or through disease and manifest destiny, believing in the ability of their gods to save them.
Tell the estimated eighteen thousand aboriginal people of Australia shot and bayoneted like game by redcoats, colonial police and columnists, their remnants and descendants reduced to wretchedness and dependence.
Tell the tens of thousands of people who die because of state-sponsored assassination and suppression in Africa, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Indonesia, the Philippines and Syria.
Tell the victims of clerical sex abuse whose lives were ruined by those that they trusted.
Tell the millions of Irish who died or were forced to leave the country during the great hunger.
Tell the other countless millions around the world who died in their version of the Gorta Mor.
Tell everyone who has died in fear and pain since the dawn of our time, fervently believing in and imploring faithfully, their God to come and save them.
Tell them of this compassionate god who allowed such outrages to happen to his most innocent and vulnerable believers.
Every last one of them has been disappointed, because there’s never anyone home to hear their supplications. There’s never anyone home because there’s never anyone and there never has been.
If those shells and bullets had some kind of a supernatural GPS guidance system, which allowed an omnipotent being to control their destination and destructiveness, wouldn’t it make more sense for him to spare his beloved people, being slaughtered left and right?
Shame on him, how dare he demand our loyalty, our devotion……….. Our love!
It’s precious little love that he has shown to us over the thousands of years since his invention.
Those shrines and bell towers survived through utter randomness, the utter randomness that spared the lives of a few of those young men, who went over the top, ordered to so by idiot General officers, into a hail of bullets in ‘The Great War’
It’s said that they walked across no man’s land, shoulder into the oncoming rush of steel, as if they were walking through a gale of wind and rain.
How did anyone survive? Pure luck! Pure stupid blind fucking luck..
For whatever reason, god, a supreme being (yeah right) has decided to communicate his will through me, or I, in my deluded state, believe that I am a conduit to a higher power. It doesn’t matter, it’s my belief that any person claiming special powers, is deluded, hearing disembodied voices which they mistake for a god.
Whether my voices are real are not, it is a task that I do not want; with few exceptions, prophets, priests, and shamans, claiming that they act upon a gods authority, have stirred up the passions of their followers to a fanaticism, which has caused the bloodshed and death of countless millions since the dawn of time.
These false prophets of Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Inca, Nazca, Mexica and the many, many other lesser-known ideologies that we have never even heard of, have preached empty rhetoric. There were no supreme beings, no gods channelling their will though them; these were deluded men, hearing delusional voices. Or they were men cynically manipulating their superstitious comrades with myth and fantasy.
In the vast majority of cases their message was one of conversion, conversion of the world, of the non-believers to their often pathologically twisted ideologies.
I ask; what god would do such a thing? What god would direct his followers to commit atrocities against those, who chose to ignore his teachings?
What god would advocate ‘holy war’ against those that he claimed to love? Followers or not!
What god would demand sacrifice, sometimes even human sacrifice in return for rain, sun or bountiful harvests?
The answer, in the light of intellect, is that no god or Supreme Being, creator of the universe would do such a thing.
These faiths are empty vessels, created by deluded men with their own agenda, and their own idea about how humanity should live, by what rules, under what constraints and how they should demonstrate their devotion.
I once worked with a devout Muslim. I was his boss and but he got to pray three or four times a day and observe Ramadan, I understood his need to pray and observe his religious beliefs, so I put no barrier in his way.
We discussed our philosophies at great length, although initially he branded me a heretic and told me that Charles Darwin was the devil and ‘haram’, sacrilegious and banned by his religion.
Slowly over time (I worked closely with him for four years) his guard came down, he still practised but I had asked him to watch some educational DVDs. I remember Jacob Bronowski’s Ascent of Man a 1970s BBC sweeping documentary provided the breakthrough and our conversations became equally sweeping after he watched it.
One day whilst discussing the proselytising ethos of Islam, it occurred to me that one of the five pillars of that religion was the observance of Ramadan. It was absolutely essential for Muslims to fast between sunup and sundown during that lunar month.
Allah himself, through Gabriel had directed Mohammed to instruct his followers as to the process and the observance there of is universal within the Islamic world, all sects observe it.
Ramadan moves around each year and is as likely to fall in a northern hemisphere summer as winter.
I wondered to myself and I enquired of my friend whether Allah had been aware of Lapland and the indigenous population of that region when he instructed Mohammed to convert the peoples of the world, and instruct them in the many observances required of devout Muslims.
Because, during summer in the high latitudes of Finland and Lapland the sun never sets, never dips below the horizon. The Finns, Saami and a lot of Nordic people of the far north of Europe would barely survive one summer Ramadan, possibly starving to death while following the strict instructions laid down.
I pressed him on whether there was any provision made for these people in the Koran and he admitted that there was none.
This suggests to me that Allah had no idea that that the Saami people existed, but surely this is impossible for an all knowing God, so who made up Islam?
It seems to me that it should be obvious that men made it up. Mohammed may have had visions or vivid dreams which didn’t mean that he was being used as a conduit by a god; it could have meant that he suffered from schizophrenia or even megalomania not forgetting mysogomania.
Luckily my friend did not call down a fatwa upon my head for this blasphemy, but I would not dare suggest such a thing to an Islamic fundamentalist.
The very fact, that one hundred years ago or even less in countries on the Arabian peninsula, I could have been beheaded for holding such an opinion points to something of a fundamental crisis of confidence in Islam.
During the 1980s the author Salman Rushdie lived under fatwa in hiding for fear of his life, after the Ayatollah Khomeini directed Muslims to kill him for disrespecting Islam in his book ‘The Satanic Verses.’
He was given protection by the police in Britain but one of his publishers was murdered.
In January 2015 two brothers, Islamic fundamentalists, murdered twelve people and wounded fifteen others in the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
They did so because the magazine had dared to disrespect Islam.
Obviously, It doesn’t pay to be disrespectful to the Muslim faith, but
Christianity doesn’t have to look back very far to find heretics, Jews or those that questioned the Christian faith suffering torture and auto-da-fe at the hands of the civil authority having been condemned to death by the Inquisition.
The Spanish were the most infamous for their ruthlessness but the holy Inquisition, created by the Vatican, carried out their work across Europe murdering people like William Tyndale whose crime was to produce an English version of the Bible, so allowing the common man to read and interpret the holy word for himself.
So Christianity cannot preach too loud about peaceful reconciliation between so-called heretics and the church.
Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, those great humanists of the late eighteenth century, admittedly Jefferson eloquently professed more humanity than he practised, were both Deists.
Deists believe that God created the universe and then lost interest, like monumentally lost interest, leaving it to develop or not as random factors and events dictate.
Of course they had no idea of evolution or of anything outside our solar system. Science at that time was really only taking off.
Jefferson went to extremes of effort to underpin his beliefs.
He took a Bible, a King James Bible and painstakingly used a scalpel or some such sharp implement to excise every mention of miracles or supernatural events. He treated his new Bible as an historical text on the life of Jesus Christ.
I think that if science had been advanced then as it is now, Paine, Jefferson and the other notable Deists of the day would not have felt the need to have someone creating our universe.
The message that I bring as a messenger of a greater power, is that there is no
There is no need for religion, there is no god of Islam, no god of the Jews, no god of Christianity, no gods of Hindu, no Inca Mexica or Aztec, no Jehovah to be witnessed, no voodoo & no evangelical ‘Lord to be praised.’ And the earthly machinery of these beliefs are built of sand, empty and false.
Humanity is the only ideology, humanity and the dignity of the human condition is the only religion.
Within every man woman and child is their own morality, untainted and untouched by a belief in ‘their ‘god. Unaffected by the artificially constructed rules of men and this is how it should be.
The pantheons of so called gods through the ages have failed to deliver on everything that they promised through their prophets, they failed because they do not exist!
Did Allah approve of the slaughter perpetrated in his name as the armies of Islam hacked and slashed their gory way through half of the known world, and does he still endorse the savagery inflicted upon believers and un-believers alike in our own time?
Did Yahweh sit idly by while his ‘chosen people’ suffered through the interminable ages of their persecution?
Did Christ look with favor on the Inquisition, as it burned and tortured ‘heretics’ in His name or as His crusaders turned the Middle East into a slaughterhouse, into a river of blood?
Did he bless those that converted the peoples of the Americas by fire and sword?
None of them did, because they were the inventions of man and were not capable of conferring approval or disapproval; they depended for their life on the faith of their followers.
These were the wars of men, following the wills of men. Whether they believed that they were carrying out the will of their gods or not doesn’t matter.
It has been men, in the name of their faith, their belief or their ideology, since someone dreamed up the concept, who have been committing genocide against those that don’t believe as they do.
How many heavens do we think there are?
Is there an Islamic Heaven? A Christian Heaven? A Jewish Heaven a Hindu Heaven, A Jehovah Witness Heaven, a Mormon Heaven? Does Elysium exist? Where did the Ancient Greeks go when they died? The Egyptians? The Persians?, The Hittites? The millions who have died believing in their gods, cannot all go to Heaven.
The martyrs who died for their beliefs, where are they now? Did they find in death that the promise of eternal happiness was an empty one?
It is my belief that they did, but they will not know anything about it.
All of nature, the Universe is a wondrous self sustaining example of physics, chemistry and biology, it’s Millers experiment with a time span of 14 billion years.
The Scientific elegance of our, Homo Sapiens, or any organisms design truly is a miracle, a miracle indeed, but not a Supernatural one. We and all life are the product of evolution, plain and simple!
Once the process began with primitive single celled life, it has been inexorable, without a destination, there was no blueprint. Environment and random mutation is what drives our development, not a god or gods. Its science that got us here! We are the result of a process, a random course of action with as many steps backwards as there were forward. I fervently believe that science will explain all those steps one day & I say this even though it may fly in the face of my convictions.
If science finds that a provable supernatural creature took some part in the development of life, I will believe that.
Man is imbued with the potential of true nobility; unlimited virtue and goodness can be his simply by making it so.
He needs no charlatan telling him how to behave, what rules to follow or how to honour his creator.
Man does not need to grow a beard, wear a dress, a hat, a shawl a hairdo to establish his piousness.
He does not need to carry out genital mutilation or practice misogyny to demonstrate his sanctity.
He simply has to behave as a human, with compassion and tolerance and these qualities are close at hand, available instantly to those who wish to apply them to everyday life.
Do not make the promise of everlasting life the reward for acting humanely in this one, we live on in our deeds and in the elements that make us, accept this and discharge your responsibility to the millions of years of evolution that made us.
Virtue is its own reward!
Nobody has yet bridged the gap between life and death so nobody knows if there is an afterlife or not, but I think that it’s a long shot.
I’ve given much thought to the idea of an afterlife and I’ve come up with an idea that might suit both the religious and the atheistic.
We are elemental creatures, made up of the stuff that was created in the stars and illustrated on the periodic table of elements. The first six elements in that table make up the basic building blocks of organic life.
What if after death and decomposition these elements went back into the earth where they would support future life, feeding the growth that is so essential.
Then in a few billion years those very elements return from whence they came when the earth explodes having being consumed by our giant sun, our star.
I have been told simply that we are here and that we must live together in tolerance and understanding. That we are the religion of humanity and that we must look into our hearts to receive instructions as how to live our lives.
The Universe is vast, possibly infinite, it may be teeming with life or we may be the only show in town.
Right now worlds are being created from the dust of exploding stars and these worlds may become the homes of life forms in the coming eons that we cannot even imagine.
Where do the gods fit into this scenario? Where does an earth cantered spiritual belief fit in? Nicholas Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler expanding upon Ptolemy and classical physics tried to tell us that there was more to our universe than us, than our earth created by some god. Their heliocentric model did not fit into Catholic theology and philosophy so these scientists were held in house arrest or driven from Catholic countries to Protestant states where science and scientists were welcomed.
Will those life forms if such develops, in the far distant future feel the necessity to invent their own supernatural beings in order to make sense of the cosmos? They may have to; they may even already have done so in the past.
If you really, really need a philosophy, a prophet to follow have a look at Spinoza, the seventeenth century Dutch, seraphic Jew who looked at nature and concluded that, surrounded by such wonders why did we need god. This is a perfectly sound and reasonable conclusion in my opinion, but I’m no Spinozaist, I’m a no-oneist a me-ist.
Science at that time was beginning to explain some of these wonders and Spinoza believed, as I do, that eventually science will explain everything.
There was a time when we were discouraged from questioning god’s will, but now as we question deeper and deeper we find that, that discouragement was simply the zealots way of protecting their position.
Throughout the history of mankind, the priests, the shamans, the medicine man, the keepers of the temple have all been a little bit cleverer than the average Joe.
They were a little bit quicker in noticing patterns of weather, of cosmological events and so they were able to make it look like they have the power of prediction; make it look like they were magic.
Once they had attained their exalted position and the power that went with it they were then kingmakers and keepers of the knowledge, of the magic, of the gods.
To paraphrase Sigmund Freud, I am a godless christian as he was a “godless jew”
That is I cherish most things that Christianity and its predecessors, have achieved in terms of art, architecture philosophy, music & humanity.
I just don’t believe in the god thing. I don’t believe in any god stuff, to paraphrase Father Dougal McGuire.
Who would not stand breathless under the dome of St Peters, Hagia Sofia, Santa Maria del Fiori and any number of churches, cathedrals and basilicas built to the glory of heaven?
Who could look up at the Sistine Chapel ceiling, the Scrovegni chapel in Padua, the Pieta in St Peters and countless more works of sublime artistry with nothing but utter exaltation.
Who could look upon the works of Giotto, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Botticelli, Bernini, Raphael , Donatello Caravaggio and an army of similar geniuses and not wonder if these magnificent creations were those of super humans or demigods.
Almost every religion has its own sacred music, it’s like people of every faith consider that their god likes his music.
Again I ask who could hear Dies irae from the Requiem by Verdi, Mozart’s towering Requiem masterpiece, a ‘Messe solennelle’ or a Gregorian chant, without being profoundly moved.
These magnificent works of art, superhuman in their creation and all funded by popes and cardinals to the glory of God, but saying more about the glory of humanity. Seeing and hearing these wondrous creations and allowing oneself to be lifted up to a better place is a thoroughly human experience.
The Christians built upon Byzantine the Roman built upon the Etruscan who built upon the Greek upon the Carthaginian upon the Arab upon the Indian Mogul Mesopotamia upon the Egyptian on Sumerian on the Babylonian all the way back 6 000 years to Ur.
It doesn’t take a genius to discern a common thread running through all of these high cultures.
When a civilisation is subsumed, everything good about it is subsumed, it’s art it’s knowledge it’s architecture and its religion if the gods appear to be greater, more powerful.
I’m sure that the Romans marvelled slack-jawed at the temples built to the Greek gods as the Greeks marvelled at the Persians et cetera et cetera back to the earliest civilisations.
It seems that Homo sapiens invented god pretty early and then shortly afterwards invented art in adoration.
But it’s not the first thing that he did!
Too have seen the original cave paintings in Faunt du Gaume Dordogne some years ago with members of my family was a stroke of good luck on our part. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been, probably in the last thousand people, to see them.
Shortly after we had seen the original cave, it was closed to visitors who now see facsimile paintings in a cave nearby.
Those 30,000 year old pieces of breath-takingly beautiful artworks, speak of the humanity of the human person who created such beauty presumably without having a god to glorify. None of those paintings depict anything except the environment, the wild beasts outside the cave yet the soul soars at the thought that this person was me!
There are many theories now as to the motivation behind the painting.
Were they religious? Were they part of a training manual for hunters? I like to think that the man or woman, who drew them, drew them the very human way an artist today would draw or paint them, because like all beautiful art, it reaches inside us and finds the human being.
It tries to encapsulate the human condition.
The religious themes of most fine art from pre-Renaissance early Renaissance mid and late Renaissance exist because the artists needed a sponsor. Marble is expensive as was paint and canvas. Even commissions from private citizens would invariably have a religious theme.
It was only after the Reformation in the Flemish countries particularly that commissions would come exclusively from private citizens, wealthy burghers eager to decorate their houses with artwork depicting their families and wealth.
Art came down to earth, but our souls still soar when we see it.
We are indeed blessed that the religious art of the Renaissance has come down to us, most of it visible and visitable around Europe.
We get to stare rapturously at the frescoes the ceilings and the sculptures of “those most excellent painters, sculptors and architects” the Masters got to explore what it is to be human, drilling down into them and us to find out humanity.
The Christian church and all other religions that caused beautiful art to be created for whatever reason allowed, those artists to find a way to exercise their creativity, it just so happened that it was following a belief system.
I don’t need to believe in whatever God to marvel at the beauty created in their names.