The necessity of atheism
Excerpt from the author introduction:
Plain speaking is necessary for any discussion of religion, for if the freethinker attacks the religious dogmas with hesitation, the orthodox believer assumes that it is with regret that the freethinker would remove the crutch that supports the orthodox. And all religious beliefs are "crutches" hindering the free locomotive efforts of advancing humanity.
There are no problems related to human progress and happiness in this age which any theology can solve, and which the teachings of freethought cannot do better and without the aid of encumbrances. Havelock Ellis has stated that "The man who has never wrestled with his early faith, the faith that he was brought up with and that yet is not truly his own for no faith is our own that we have not arduously won has missed not only a moral but an intellectual discipline. The absence of that discipline may mark a man for life and render all his work ineffective. He has missed training in criticism, in analysis, in open-mindedness, in the resolutely impersonal treatment of personal problems, which no other training can compensate.
He is, for the most part, condemned to live in a mental jungle where his arm will soon be too feeble to clear away the growths that enclose him, and his eyes too weak to find the light." The man who has allowed his mental capacities to clear his way through the dense underbrush of religious dogma finds that he has emerged into a purer and healthier atmosphere
In the bright light of this mental emancipation, a man perceives the falsities of all religions in their historic, scientific, and metaphysical aspects. The healthier mental viewpoint holds up to scorn and discards the reactionary religious philosophy of morals, and the sum total of his conclusions must be that religion is doomed, and doomed in this modern-day by its absolute irrelevance to the needs and interests of modern life. And this not only by the steadily increasing army of freethinkers but by the indifference and neglect of those who still cling to the fast slipping folds of religious creeds the future freethinkers.
It was Spinoza who remarked that "The proper study of a wise man is not how to die but how to live." Religious creeds can but teach how a man should live, so that when he dies, he may be assured of salvation; and the important thing is not what he does to help his fellow men while he is living, but how closely he lives in conformity to a reactionary code of dogmas. Religion has always aimed to smooth the sufferer's passage to the next world, not to save him for this world. Freethought has dethroned the gods from the pedestal and has replaced, not an empty idol, but an ideal, the ideal of a man who is his own god.
It has become increasingly apparent that what men: have hitherto attributed to the gods are nothing but the ideals they value and grope for in themselves. The ideal of the freethinker, the conception that places the supreme worth of human life in the expanding horizon of man's usefulness to man, is forever menaced by the supernaturalism of the theist which manifests itself in the multifarious religious sects that are the most active and constant menace to civilization and to mankind today. That religion in the past has produced suffering incalculable and has been the greatest obstacle in the advance of secular knowledge is a fact too well attested to by history to be denied by any sincere and unbiased intelligent man.
That today it constitutes a cultural lag, an active menace to the best interests of humanity, and the last refuge of human savagery is the contention of the freethinker. The conception of the God-idea as held by society in general stands in. the same position as the vermiform appendix does to the anatomy of man. It may have been useful in some way thousands of years ago, but today it constitutes a detriment to the well-being of the individual without offering any compensatory usefulness. Agree or disagree with this contention you may, but only when you are made aware of the facts that can be brought to the aid of this conviction.
Just as the fundamental principle of justice is outraged when a man or an institution is condemned by a jurist or popular opinion when an opportunity is not given to present the facts on both aspects of the case, just so is no man justified in making a decision between theism and atheism until he. becomes acquainted with both sides of the controversy. Freethought but asks a hearing and the exercise of the unbiased reason of the man who has not hitherto been made aware of its contentions. In the religious revolution of this twentieth century, the battleground is squarely seen to be between super-naturalism and secularism. Although the supernaturalists are well entrenched and fortified, it is well to remember that it is the man with vision who finally prevails.
The time has passed when the freethinker could be held up to the community as an example, of a base and degraded individual. No manner of pulpit drivel can delude even the unthinking masses to this misconception. The freethinker is today the one who beholds the vision, and this vision does not transcend the natural.
It is a vision that is earth-bound; a vision it may be called since it leaps the boundary of the present and infers for him what the future of, a secular organization of the entire constituency of humanity will bring forth. This vision is but a product of his scientific armamentarium and is the means by which he is assured of victory over the well-entrenched and fortified position of the supernaturalists who are still creed- bound to use antiquated and useless weapons.
The supernaturalist's armamentarium 'of God, Bible, Heaven, Hell, Soul, Immortality, Sin, The Fall and Redemption of Man, Prayer, Creed, and Dogma, leave as much impression on the mind of intelligent man as would an arrow against a battleship. And the comparison is apt, the supernaturalists have made full use of force, be it in physical warfare or in mental coercion. The freethinker has as much use for physical force and war as he has for mental coercion; both are abhorrent to him.
Content of the bookThe evolution of religious beliefs, The Koran, the old and new testaments the prophets Mohammed, Jesus, and Moses charlatans or victims of mental and physical disease -. The soundness of a foundation for a belief in a deity, The persistence of religion -. Religion and Science- Religion and medicine -. Religion and astronomy - Religion and geography-. Religion and chemistry and physics - Religion and geology, philology, and evolution - Religion, and witchcraft- Religion and morality -. Christianity and war - Christianity and slavery - Christianity and labor - Religion and woman -. The philosophers and the great illusion of -The doom of religion; the necessity of atheism -. Contemporary opinion
Author: David Marshall Brooks
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