Rebuttal of Freethinker Propaganda, Part 5

When this author left off last week, I had just finished examined each of the approximately 12 people Dan Barker had listed as prominent atheists who had made great contributions to the world.  Of those twelve, no more than four met the actual criterion set by Dan Barker/Richard Dawkins for atheists.

As a partial counterpoint, atheists figure prominently in the annals of the greatest mass killings and atrocities of the twentieth century.  Communist Russia, Communist China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and Cuba all are (or were) Communist Regimes that commit(ed) massive atrocities on their own citizens.  An atheist is not necessarily a Communist.  Communists must be atheistic because the state must supplant God as the supreme entity.

Religious Affiliation % in List
Catholic 31%
Anglican/Episcopalian 13%
Jewish 7%
Atheist 6%
Greco-Roman paganism 6%
Chinese traditional religion/Confucianism 5%
Lutheran 5%
Russian Orthodox 4%

The web page http://www.adherents.com/adh_influ.html.  Lists the names, religions and achievements of the top 100 most influential people in world history and given by Michael H. Hart’s book ‘The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History.’  The top eight religious (non)affiliations are seen in the box to the right.  The atheists in that Top 100 list were: Karl Marx Simon Bolivar Joseph Stalin Sigmund Freud Vladimir Illych Lenin and Mao Zedong.  Considering the legacy of these people, it seems that there is something common in their ideology that leads to slaughter.

Dan states that “Most religions have consistently resisted progress–including the abolition of slavery; women’s right to vote and choose contraception and abortion; medical developments such as the use of anesthesia; scientific understanding of the heliocentric solar system and evolution, and the American principle of state/church separation.”

In the words of Ronald Reagan, “There you go again…”  Dan paints ALL RELIGIONS EVERYWHERE AT ALL TIMES with the same brush.  Is he judging the society of the Pharos, Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar by today’s standards?  Does he judge the regimes of Lenin, Mao, Stalin, Ho Chi Min, Kim Jung Il and Pol Pot by those same standards?

The practice of slavery is as old as time, likely dating back to the Stone Age (as the Stone Age civilizations found in the Americas did).  The practice of slavery was global as every society (at one time or another) practiced slavery

The ‘enlightened’ (and often atheistic) ‘elite progressives’ such as Margaret Sanger and Woodrow Wilson (resurrected the dying KKK) of the first half of the twentieth century, judged themselves as the torchbearers and arbiters of human progress.  They alone had the intellect and wisdom necessary to guide and make all the ‘tough calls’ for the ignorant masses they would rule over.  They were the source of the eugenics movement which was used in turn to support many of the Jim Crow and segregation laws as well as the ‘Cleansing’ of undesirables in/by the Third Reich. Today, the eugenics movement is almost universally condemned now as evil, unfounded and pseudoscience.  Do we hold the progressives to today’s standards?

The standards for morals, public or private behavior, just as everything else changes as time goes by.  Christ did not explicitly condemn slavery, but the Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” makes it rather clear what He wanted people to do.  Hebrew law ordered Jews to treat slaves as family and the Jew who killed a slave was to die, just as they would for killing a fellow Jew.  The Muslim Religion not only allows, but prescribes enslavement of non-believers.  Christianity and Judaism both demand humane treatment of others.  Christianity demands it regardless of race, class, sex, etc.  The abolitionist movements in Europe in America came from Christianity.  Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Baha’i faith, officially condemned slavery in 1874.  In Hinduism, the vedas of about 600+ BC taught that slavery was contrary to their goals.  Over time, the teachings of the leaders in the religion went back and forth.  Buddhism has a long history of generally condemning slavery, though debt slavery could still occur.  Finally, Buddhist Emperor Ashoka banned slavery and renounced war.  This list does not contain any pagan religions, Confucianism, Shinto or innumerable others that have existed throughout time.  Do these marked difference in beliefs not illustrate that lumping religions all together is like lumping all political parties, all Germans, Japanese (or any other nationality) or atheists into a single unit?  Five of the six most influential atheists were dictators of the most tyrannical, bloody regimes of history.  The sixth was their political inspiration.  Can we therefore judge all atheists to be just like them?

All humans from any time and any place are hypocrites to one extent or another.  A person can behave devoutly in church and public places and become a veritable demon in their home or in a neighborhood where they are not known.  Yes some rulers in the past have used religion to justify war, subjugation, enslavement and many other evils.  Many atheists have done the same or worse with no excuses or cover whatsoever beyond ‘The Dialectic Demands It’.  The atheist has no standard for behavior.  By rejecting all religions and their teachings, the only available guide will be expediency.  Most religions seek to elevate the self to a higher level of purity or holiness.  Any theist who takes their faith seriously finds themselves held to a supposedly unchanging standard of ‘Good.’  A theistic person (if they are entirely honest) is aware of how far they fall below the goal of their faith and must therefore strive to improve themselves to become closer to the Creator, and finally reach Enlightenment/Nirvana/Heaven/Paradise.

To judge all religious people by a single incident or period of a single sect is patently ridiculous.  For every Salem Witch Trial there are civilians who hide friends, neighbors and strangers in their home because their faith tells them to.  Pope Pious XII sheltered 3000-4000 Jews in the papal summer palace outside Rome.  Allied airmen and Jews were sheltered inside the Vatican or other church and private properties.  If the Germans had chosen to search those locations, the SS would have likely looted the entire Vatican complex within Rome, all properties or accounts owned by the Holy See and the private homes then kill or imprison everyone within.

Women’s suffrage is yet another case of judging the past by today’s standards.  The pursuit of equality with men in political and other arenas amounted to the overthrow of 1,400 or more years of both tradition and laws based on those same traditions.  To claim that religions opposed women’s suffrage is equivalent to saying politics opposed women’s suffrage.  Religion is an ideology.  People are born into or choose to join one religion or another.  Western culture (particularly American) has chosen to divide the political and religious portions of our lives.  It is their choice whether they follow the dogma and traditions of the faith.  No one can or will force them.  If a preacher gives a sermon about a political issue, they are not serving a deity.  They are substituting politics for faith.  That being said, how can Dan, sitting in the nosebleed section of the bleachers, be in a position to criticize those who are actually trying to finish the race?

Next, we shall address the charges that Dan brings about religion slowing medical research, scientific advancement, hindering acceptance of evolution or interfering with the separation of church and state.

To the charges of interfering with medicine and science:  This author shakes his head slowly and repeats the Ronald Reagan quote from earlier.  The Catholic Church was the cradle of modern western science.  James Hannam refutes these accusations in his article found at: http://blogs.nature.com/soapboxscience/2011/05/18/science-owes-much-to-both-christianity-and-the-middle-ages.  Dr. Hannam points out where in history the charge of suppressing science originated and who exactly created the charges.   Even Stefan Molyneux, an atheist Canadian YouTube vlogger and host on Freedomain Radio has created episodes acknowledged that the Catholic Curch built western civilization.

When it comes to evolution, Dan may have a solid case.  Yes, some religions reject the theory because they read the bible in a literalist manner.  Others reject the theory because it seems to be a tool to eliminate God.  Many religious people embraced it enthusiastically and still do.  This writer believes it may simply be that God used evolution as a mechanism of creation.  Whenever belief systems are seen to collide, it will create tension and disagreement whether the two are actually contradicting each other or not.

The separation of church and state was never under the control of religion.  The truth is that in the Western Hemisphere, the church was never in control of the state.  The church often served as advisor or attempted to rein in rulers with threats of excommunication.  The union of church and state was done through political leaders declaring a religion the ‘official’ religion of the nation, then imprisoning, executing or exiling all who refused to follow the new official religion.  The American Experiment with the separation of church and state was never hindered by religion or religious leaders because no one wanted to wind up on the receiving end of state power used to suppress them.

The atheist initiative to drive religion out of any and every public or government space is in direct conflict with the portion of the First Amendment that states: “Congress Shall Make No Law Regarding Religion or the Free Exercise Thereof.”  Dan seems to be simultaneously claiming suppression by religion while attempting suppression of religion.

Dan Barker claims that freethought is a philosophical, not a political, position, that embraces adherents of virtually all political persuasions, including capitalists, libertarians, socialists, communists, Republicans, Democrats, liberals and conservatives.  There a great deal of literature to negate his claim that there is no philosophical connection between atheism and communism.  The atheism in Communist regimes has been and continues to be a form of militant atheism which led to various acts of repression, including the razing of thousands of religious buildings and the killing, imprisoning, and oppression of religious leaders and believers.

The persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union was the result of the violently atheist Soviet government. In the first five years after the October Revolution, 28 bishops and 1,200 priests were murdered, many on the orders of Leon Trotsky. When Joseph Stalin came to power in 1927, he ordered his secret police, under Genrikh Yagoda to intensify persecution of Christians. In the next few years, 50,000 clergy were murdered, many were tortured, including crucifixion. “Russia turned red with the blood of martyrs”, said Father Gleb Yakunin of the Russian Orthodox Church.  According to Orthodox Church sources, as many as fifty million Orthodox believers may have died in the twentieth century, mainly from persecution by Communists.

Dan claims that Adam Smith and Ayn Rand were freethinkers and staunch capitalists though he provides no proof to indicate that they had heard of, never mind joined, the ‘Freethinker’ movement.  Ayn Rand claimed to be an objectivist, though, not a freethinker.  If he is claiming those two simply because they are atheists, then he must also accept Timothy McVeigh, Jeffery Dahmer and every other atheistic criminal in modern history.  Though the early Christian Church did have a somewhat communistic organization (see Acts of the Apostles) the experiment was quite short-lived because communism is a system that kills the human spirit and is actually contrary to Jesus’ teaching.

Dan says that North American freethinkers agree in their support of state/church separation.  This is quite an extraordinary claim.  It is almost unheard of for an organization to have 100% agreement on anything.

To answer the following question:  Is atheism/humanism a religion?  Dan Barton states, “No. Atheism is not a belief. It is the “lack of belief” in god(s). Lack of faith requires no faith. Atheism is indeed based on a commitment to rationality, but that hardly qualifies it as a religion.  Freethinkers apply the term religion to belief systems which include a supernatural realm, deity, faith in “holy” writings and conformity to an absolute creed.”

Claiming the definition of atheism to be merely ‘lack of belief’ is obfuscation as the definition has traditionally been belief that no God or gods exist/active denial of God’s existence  To hang onto a new redefinition in one dictionary out of all the brands available, is begging the question.  Further, to state lack of faith requires no faith is patently false. To even make this statement requires faith.  There is no research or empirical data to support that allegation.  Dan Barker has to have faith in his logic or reasoning to even make that statement.

https://humanism.org.uk/humanism/humanism-today/non-religious-beliefs/ The Humanists UK website features the following definitions for Atheist, Freethinker and Humanist

Atheist” includes those who reject a belief in the existence of God or gods and those who simply choose to live without God or gods. Along with this often, but not always, go disbelief in the soul, an afterlife, and other beliefs arising from god-based religions.

“Freethinker” is an old-fashioned term, popular in the nineteenth century, used of those who reject authority in matters of belief, especially political and religious beliefs. It was a very popular term in the 19th century and is still used in different languages in some European countries by non-religious organisations to describe themselves.

“Humanist” is used today to mean those who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs. A humanist may embrace all or most of the other approaches introduced here, and in addition humanists believe that moral values follow on from human nature and experience in some way. Humanists base their moral principles on reason (which leads them to reject the idea of any supernatural agency), on shared human values and respect for others. They believe that people should work together to improve the quality of life for all and make it more equitable. Humanism is a full philosophy, “life stance” or worldview, rather than being about one aspect of religion, knowledge, or politics

Secular humanism has no god, bible or savior. It is based on natural rational principles. It is flexible and relativistic–it is not a religion.

The claim that ‘Freethinkers/Humanists/Atheists are not religions because they do not rely on “ a supernatural realm, deity, faith in “holy” writings and conformity to an absolute creed”  is completely false.  As Dan Barker describes ‘free thought’ it does in fact have a god (atheistic reason), bible (the writings of Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens, Denning, et al), saviors (the atheistic apostles who wrote their bibles) the natural, rational principles, that freethinkers claim to base their philosophy on deliberately and consistently ignores all logical/physical/rational/medical evidence for a creator, the soul and anything else related to religion.

The flexibility and relativism Dan Barker claims for the freethinkers exists only for those who adhere completely to the doctrines he prescribes.  In the first installment of this series, I examined the cognitive dissonance that is involved with that description of ‘freethinking’ and how it demands absolute adherence to a set doctrine.

Mr. Barker finished his essay with the question, “Why should I be happy to be a freethinker?

He answers his question by stating the following, “Freethought is reasonable. Freethought allows you to do your own thinking. A plurality of individuals thinking, free from restraints of orthodoxy, allows ideas to be tested, discarded or adopted.  Freethinkers see no pride in the blind maintenance of ancient superstitions or self-effacing prostration before divine tyrants known only through primitive “revelations.” Freethought is respectable. Freethought is truly free.”

I ask again, Mr. Barker, “How can you state that any of those statements be true when you have laid out absolute demands for private beliefs to adhere to.  Nothing can be said to have freedom when there are boundaries placed on inquiry or pre-set answers to those possible questions.  I refer again to the first essay I wrote on this topic.

Stating a false claim repeated times Mr. Barker, does not make you any more correct.  You claim again and again that religions are ancient superstitions that blind people and prevent ideas from being tried and tested when the very science and scientific methods you espouse were developed in Medieval Monasteries. You decry blind adherence to ancient superstitions when there are growing proofs for the existence of a Creator in every field of scientific inquiry.  I respectfully suggest, Mr Barker,that you take a long, hard look in the proverbial mirror and honestly analyze the question of who is adhering blindly to a bankrupt ideology.

 

 

Rebuttal of Freethinker Propaganda, Part 5

When this author left off last week, I had just finished examined each of the approximately 12 people Dan Barker had listed as prominent atheists who had made great contributions to the world.  Of those twelve, no more than four met the actual criterion set by Dan Barker/Richard Dawkins for atheists.

As a partial counterpoint, atheists figure prominently in the annals of the greatest mass killings and atrocities of the twentieth century.  Communist Russia, Communist China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and Cuba all are (or were) Communist Regimes that commit(ed) massive atrocities on their own citizens.  An atheist is not necessarily a Communist.  Communists must be atheistic because the state must supplant God as the supreme entity.

Religious Affiliation % in List
Catholic 31%
Anglican/Episcopalian 13%
Jewish 7%
Atheist 6%
Greco-Roman paganism 6%
Chinese traditional religion/Confucianism 5%
Lutheran 5%
Russian Orthodox 4%

The web page http://www.adherents.com/adh_influ.html.  Lists the names, religions and achievements of the top 100 most influential people in world history and given by Michael H. Hart’s book ‘The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History.’  The top eight religious (non)affiliations are seen in the box to the right.  The atheists in that Top 100 list were: Karl Marx Simon Bolivar Joseph Stalin Sigmund Freud Vladimir Illych Lenin and Mao Zedong.  Considering the legacy of these people, it seems that there is something common in their ideology that leads to slaughter.

Dan states that “Most religions have consistently resisted progress–including the abolition of slavery; women’s right to vote and choose contraception and abortion; medical developments such as the use of anesthesia; scientific understanding of the heliocentric solar system and evolution, and the American principle of state/church separation.”

In the words of Ronald Reagan, “There you go again…”  Dan paints ALL RELIGIONS EVERYWHERE AT ALL TIMES with the same brush.  Is he judging the society of the Pharos, Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar by today’s standards?  Does he judge the regimes of Lenin, Mao, Stalin, Ho Chi Min, Kim Jung Il and Pol Pot by those same standards?

The practice of slavery is as old as time, likely dating back to the Stone Age (as the Stone Age civilizations found in the Americas did).  The practice of slavery was global as every society (at one time or another) practiced slavery

The ‘enlightened’ (and often atheistic) ‘elite progressives’ such as Margaret Sanger and Woodrow Wilson (resurrected the dying KKK) of the first half of the twentieth century, judged themselves as the torchbearers and arbiters of human progress.  They alone had the intellect and wisdom necessary to guide and make all the ‘tough calls’ for the ignorant masses they would rule over.  They were the source of the eugenics movement which was used in turn to support many of the Jim Crow and segregation laws as well as the ‘Cleansing’ of undesirables in/by the Third Reich. Today, the eugenics movement is almost universally condemned now as evil, unfounded and pseudoscience.  Do we hold the progressives to today’s standards?

The standards for morals, public or private behavior, just as everything else changes as time goes by.  Christ did not explicitly condemn slavery, but the Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” makes it rather clear what He wanted people to do.  Hebrew law ordered Jews to treat slaves as family and the Jew who killed a slave was to die, just as they would for killing a fellow Jew.  The Muslim Religion not only allows, but prescribes enslavement of non-believers.  Christianity and Judaism both demand humane treatment of others.  Christianity demands it regardless of race, class, sex, etc.  The abolitionist movements in Europe in America came from Christianity.  Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Baha’i faith, officially condemned slavery in 1874.  In Hinduism, the vedas of about 600+ BC taught that slavery was contrary to their goals.  Over time, the teachings of the leaders in the religion went back and forth.  Buddhism has a long history of generally condemning slavery, though debt slavery could still occur.  Finally, Buddhist Emperor Ashoka banned slavery and renounced war.  This list does not contain any pagan religions, Confucianism, Shinto or innumerable others that have existed throughout time.  Do these marked difference in beliefs not illustrate that lumping religions all together is like lumping all political parties, all Germans, Japanese (or any other nationality) or atheists into a single unit?  Five of the six most influential atheists were dictators of the most tyrannical, bloody regimes of history.  The sixth was their political inspiration.  Can we therefore judge all atheists to be just like them?

All humans from any time and any place are hypocrites to one extent or another.  A person can behave devoutly in church and public places and become a veritable demon in their home or in a neighborhood where they are not known.  Yes some rulers in the past have used religion to justify war, subjugation, enslavement and many other evils.  Many atheists have done the same or worse with no excuses or cover whatsoever beyond ‘The Dialectic Demands It’.  The atheist has no standard for behavior.  By rejecting all religions and their teachings, the only available guide will be expediency.  Most religions seek to elevate the self to a higher level of purity or holiness.  Any theist who takes their faith seriously finds themselves held to a supposedly unchanging standard of ‘Good.’  A theistic person (if they are entirely honest) is aware of how far they fall below the goal of their faith and must therefore strive to improve themselves to become closer to the Creator, and finally reach Enlightenment/Nirvana/Heaven/Paradise.

To judge all religious people by a single incident or period of a single sect is patently ridiculous.  For every Salem Witch Trial there are civilians who hide friends, neighbors and strangers in their home because their faith tells them to.  Pope Pious XII sheltered 3000-4000 Jews in the papal summer palace outside Rome.  Allied airmen and Jews were sheltered inside the Vatican or other church and private properties.  If the Germans had chosen to search those locations, the SS would have likely looted the entire Vatican complex within Rome, all properties or accounts owned by the Holy See and the private homes then kill or imprison everyone within.

Women’s suffrage is yet another case of judging the past by today’s standards.  The pursuit of equality with men in political and other arenas amounted to the overthrow of 1,400 or more years of both tradition and laws based on those same traditions.  To claim that religions opposed women’s suffrage is equivalent to saying politics opposed women’s suffrage.  Religion is an ideology.  People are born into or choose to join one religion or another.  Western culture (particularly American) has chosen to divide the political and religious portions of our lives.  It is their choice whether they follow the dogma and traditions of the faith.  No one can or will force them.  If a preacher gives a sermon about a political issue, they are not serving a deity.  They are substituting politics for faith.  That being said, how can Dan, sitting in the nosebleed section of the bleachers, be in a position to criticize those who are actually trying to finish the race?

Next, we shall address the charges that Dan brings about religion slowing medical research, scientific advancement, hindering acceptance of evolution or interfering with the separation of church and state.

To the charges of interfering with medicine and science:  This author shakes his head slowly and repeats the Ronald Reagan quote from earlier.  The Catholic Church was the cradle of modern western science.  James Hannam refutes these accusations in his article found at: http://blogs.nature.com/soapboxscience/2011/05/18/science-owes-much-to-both-christianity-and-the-middle-ages.  Dr. Hannam points out where in history the charge of suppressing science originated and who exactly created the charges.   Even Stefan Molyneux, an atheist Canadian YouTube vlogger and host on Freedomain Radio has created episodes acknowledged that the Catholic Curch built western civilization.

When it comes to evolution, Dan may have a solid case.  Yes, some religions reject the theory because they read the bible in a literalist manner.  Others reject the theory because it seems to be a tool to eliminate God.  Many religious people embraced it enthusiastically and still do.  This writer believes it may simply be that God used evolution as a mechanism of creation.  Whenever belief systems are seen to collide, it will create tension and disagreement whether the two are actually contradicting each other or not.

The separation of church and state was never under the control of religion.  The truth is that in the Western Hemisphere, the church was never in control of the state.  The church often served as advisor or attempted to rein in rulers with threats of excommunication.  The union of church and state was done through political leaders declaring a religion the ‘official’ religion of the nation, then imprisoning, executing or exiling all who refused to follow the new official religion.  The American Experiment with the separation of church and state was never hindered by religion or religious leaders because no one wanted to wind up on the receiving end of state power used to suppress them.

The atheist initiative to drive religion out of any and every public or government space is in direct conflict with the portion of the First Amendment that states: “Congress Shall Make No Law Regarding Religion or the Free Exercise Thereof.”  Dan seems to be simultaneously claiming suppression by religion while attempting suppression of religion.

Dan Barker claims that freethought is a philosophical, not a political, position, that embraces adherents of virtually all political persuasions, including capitalists, libertarians, socialists, communists, Republicans, Democrats, liberals and conservatives.  There a great deal of literature to negate his claim that there is no philosophical connection between atheism and communism.  The atheism in Communist regimes has been and continues to be a form of militant atheism which led to various acts of repression, including the razing of thousands of religious buildings and the killing, imprisoning, and oppression of religious leaders and believers.

The persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union was the result of the violently atheist Soviet government. In the first five years after the October Revolution, 28 bishops and 1,200 priests were murdered, many on the orders of Leon Trotsky. When Joseph Stalin came to power in 1927, he ordered his secret police, under Genrikh Yagoda to intensify persecution of Christians. In the next few years, 50,000 clergy were murdered, many were tortured, including crucifixion. “Russia turned red with the blood of martyrs”, said Father Gleb Yakunin of the Russian Orthodox Church.  According to Orthodox Church sources, as many as fifty million Orthodox believers may have died in the twentieth century, mainly from persecution by Communists.

Dan claims that Adam Smith and Ayn Rand were freethinkers and staunch capitalists though he provides no proof to indicate that they had heard of, never mind joined, the ‘Freethinker’ movement.  Ayn Rand claimed to be an objectivist, though, not a freethinker.  If he is claiming those two simply because they are atheists, then he must also accept Timothy McVeigh, Jeffery Dahmer and every other atheistic criminal in modern history.  Though the early Christian Church did have a somewhat communistic organization (see Acts of the Apostles) the experiment was quite short-lived because communism is a system that kills the human spirit and is actually contrary to Jesus’ teaching.

Dan says that North American freethinkers agree in their support of state/church separation.  This is quite an extraordinary claim.  It is almost unheard of for an organization to have 100% agreement on anything.

To answer the following question:  Is atheism/humanism a religion?  Dan Barton states, “No. Atheism is not a belief. It is the “lack of belief” in god(s). Lack of faith requires no faith. Atheism is indeed based on a commitment to rationality, but that hardly qualifies it as a religion.  Freethinkers apply the term religion to belief systems which include a supernatural realm, deity, faith in “holy” writings and conformity to an absolute creed.”

Claiming the definition of atheism to be merely ‘lack of belief’ is obfuscation as the definition has traditionally been belief that no God or gods exist/active denial of God’s existence  To hang onto a new redefinition in one dictionary out of all the brands available, is begging the question.  Further, to state lack of faith requires no faith is patently false. To even make this statement requires faith.  There is no research or empirical data to support that allegation.  Dan Barker has to have faith in his logic or reasoning to even make that statement.

https://humanism.org.uk/humanism/humanism-today/non-religious-beliefs/ The Humanists UK website features the following definitions for Atheist, Freethinker and Humanist

Atheist” includes those who reject a belief in the existence of God or gods and those who simply choose to live without God or gods. Along with this often, but not always, go disbelief in the soul, an afterlife, and other beliefs arising from god-based religions.

“Freethinker” is an old-fashioned term, popular in the nineteenth century, used of those who reject authority in matters of belief, especially political and religious beliefs. It was a very popular term in the 19th century and is still used in different languages in some European countries by non-religious organisations to describe themselves.

“Humanist” is used today to mean those who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs. A humanist may embrace all or most of the other approaches introduced here, and in addition humanists believe that moral values follow on from human nature and experience in some way. Humanists base their moral principles on reason (which leads them to reject the idea of any supernatural agency), on shared human values and respect for others. They believe that people should work together to improve the quality of life for all and make it more equitable. Humanism is a full philosophy, “life stance” or worldview, rather than being about one aspect of religion, knowledge, or politics

Secular humanism has no god, bible or savior. It is based on natural rational principles. It is flexible and relativistic–it is not a religion.

The claim that ‘Freethinkers/Humanists/Atheists are not religions because they do not rely on “ a supernatural realm, deity, faith in “holy” writings and conformity to an absolute creed”  is completely false.  As Dan Barker describes ‘free thought’ it does in fact have a god (atheistic reason), bible (the writings of Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens, Denning, et al), saviors (the atheistic apostles who wrote their bibles) the natural, rational principles, that freethinkers claim to base their philosophy on deliberately and consistently ignores all logical/physical/rational/medical evidence for a creator, the soul and anything else related to religion.

The flexibility and relativism Dan Barker claims for the freethinkers exists only for those who adhere completely to the doctrines he prescribes.  In the first installment of this series, I examined the cognitive dissonance that is involved with that description of ‘freethinking’ and how it demands absolute adherence to a set doctrine.

Mr. Barker finished his essay with the question, “Why should I be happy to be a freethinker?

He answers his question by stating the following, “Freethought is reasonable. Freethought allows you to do your own thinking. A plurality of individuals thinking, free from restraints of orthodoxy, allows ideas to be tested, discarded or adopted.  Freethinkers see no pride in the blind maintenance of ancient superstitions or self-effacing prostration before divine tyrants known only through primitive “revelations.” Freethought is respectable. Freethought is truly free.”

I ask again, Mr. Barker, “How can you state that any of those statements be true when you have laid out absolute demands for private beliefs to adhere to.  Nothing can be said to have freedom when there are boundaries placed on inquiry or pre-set answers to those possible questions.  I refer again to the first essay I wrote on this topic.

Stating a false claim repeated times Mr. Barker, does not make you any more correct.  You claim again and again that religions are ancient superstitions that blind people and prevent ideas from being tried and tested when the very science and scientific methods you espouse were developed in Medieval Monasteries. You decry blind adherence to ancient superstitions when there are growing proofs for the existence of a Creator in every field of scientific inquiry.  I respectfully suggest, Mr Barker,that you take a long, hard look in the proverbial mirror and honestly analyze the question of who is adhering blindly to a bankrupt ideology.

 

 

Response to ‘Freethinker’ Propaganda Part 4

Dan Barker states that “Freethinkers recognize that there is much chaos, ugliness and pain in the universe for which any explanation of origins must also account.”  Why does Dan believe that the perceived negatives he lists would not exist if God had created the universe? Does he expect God to provide us with flowers and perpetual orderliness whilst we enjoy our perfect physiques and march together in grinning lockstep? Does he believe that our Creator to give day with no night or otherwise self-contradict?  Does Dan Barker expect God to make a single-sided coin or a round square? The creator of the universe, and the laws that govern all matter and energy, will not create a system that ignores those laws, even to give us a world free of death, pain and other ‘negative’ things. In this universe all physical things begin and also end.  God WILL NOT go against his nature by violating logic or His own Nature.

Dan then goes on to add; “Freethinkers are convinced that religious claims have not withstood the tests of reason. Not only is there nothing to be gained by believing an untruth, but there is everything to lose when we sacrifice the indispensable tool of reason on the altar of superstition. Most freethinkers consider religion to be not only untrue, but harmful. It has been used to justify war, slavery, sexism, racism, homophobia, mutilations, intolerance, and oppression of minorities. The totalitarianism of religious absolutes chokes progress.”

Dan apparently does not miss a single trope in the atheist playbook. He brings out the old stereotype that science and religion are at odds with each other. This conflict exists only in the minds of those who want to tar theists as ‘anti-science’ or ‘oppressive’.  In the June 14, 2009 issue of The Guardian (hardly a bastion of religiosity) James Hannam’s story entitled, ‘Science and Religion: A History of Conflict?’ makes the case that “…some atheists, like Jerry Coyne, have been insisting that there is really a battle between religion and science.” Coyne resists any accommodation between religious and non-religious scientists to defend Darwinism from attacks by fundamentalist Creationist advocates. Hannam suggests that, He (Coyn) doesn’t want to see the scientists joining forces against the creationist common enemy in case that legitimises religion.  Whether such an alliance would ‘legitimize’ religion in the eyes of modern science is debatable. What is not quite so debatable is that there is a ‘stigma’ about how western religions and science have interacted.

For some of this stigma (that has now covered them as well) the Protestant churches have only themselves to blame. The article ‘HISTORY AND MYTH: THE INQUISITION’ by Robert P. Lockwood (8/2000) examines how early Protestanism created “…an invented history meant to portray Catholicism as the enemy of free thought…a perverse form of medieval superstition that survives on the ignorance of believers and the Church’s own violent will to power.” These myths served a purpose in the war of propaganda between Catholicism and the dissenting churches of the 16th Century Reformation and were perpetuated through the 18th century Enlightenment and the 19th century world of progress and scientism.

Now, however, all Christians find themselves targeted by some variation of the early Protestant propaganda. The old accusations, slightly changed to apply to all theists (usually Christians), are now employed by assorted atheist groups and individuals. These stories are now such a part of Western Society that they constitute basic historical assumptions used (without the necessity of analyzing or addressing those positions) as useful rhetorical tools, particularly in the public arena, because they are universally understood and accepted.

One of the old anti-Catholic attacks (now come back to attack all theists) is the accusation that the Catholic Church forbade science and scientific research. Hannam notes that even though the popular perception of a historical conflict remains strong, it hasn’t stopped all serious historians from queuing up to condemn it. John Hedley Brooke and Peter Harrison at Oxford; David Lindberg and Ron Numbers at Wisconsin-Madison; and Simon Shapin in California have all tried to put the record straight. But as Numbers ruefully admits, “Despite a developing consensus among scholars that science and Christianity have not been at war, the notion of conflict has refused to die.”

In point of fact, the greater portion of ‘evidence’ for conflict myth is bogus. It is believed only because most people are ignorant of real history. The populace are taught or told the ‘religion vs science’ myths (either through ignorance or malice) and absorb the ‘information’ creating, a dissonance in which what they think they know about this topic is actually untrue. Hannam has edited a new collection of essays, published by Harvard University Press, called ‘Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion’ in which he chips away some more from the edifice of popular opinion.

Dan Barker rhetorically asks. “Hasn’t religion done tremendous good in the world?” to set up his response of “Many religionists are good people–but they would be good anyway.”
How, in the name of his overweaning egotism, can he have even the slightest confidence in that assertion? How can he claim to know that Augustine, Aquinas, Francis of Assisi, Sarah Barton, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington or any of countless others would have been ‘good’ or ‘nice’ without a society built upon the ethics taught by Christianity?

“Religion does not have a monopoly on good deeds” he proclaims, adding that “Most modern social and moral progress has been made by people free from religion–including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Charles Darwin, Margaret Sanger, Albert Einstein, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, H. L. Mencken, Sigmund Freud, Bertrand Russell, Luther Burbank and many others who have enriched humanity.”

In response to these claims, this writer must inquire, When did any theist publicly advance a claim that no atheists can be moral? Show me that person, living or dead, and I shall advocate against them.
Your entire screed up to this point, Mr. Barton, has essentially stated that ‘Freethinkers’ are in all ways superior to theists. The belief that atheists have higher IQs than theists is like the religion vs. science trope. A lot of noise and braggadocio, essentially zero facts. Now you seem to play the victim card and say that theists claim a monopoly on morality?  Usually, theists are quite aware of their sinful nature and work to become a person pleasing for their deity.

As for your Atheistist Luminaries list, let us examine them.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Abolitionist Suffragette and Temperance Activist. Was traumatized as a young woman by a revivalist preacher. His sermons, combined with her Calvinist Presbyterianism, caused her to believe in her own damnation. Calvin and his followers believed in ‘Predestination’ (that your soul at birth is destined for either Heaven or Hell and nothing you can do in your life will change that destination). She did not return to organized Christianity, but that does not mean she was an atheist.

Susan B. Anthony, Abolitionist, Suffragette and Temperance Activist. Was raised a ‘liberal Quaker’ less bound by the strict guidelines William Penn established. Later joined the Unitarians and tried to establish a doctrineless ‘Free Church’. Was horrified by the poverty and need she saw in Ireland in the 1880s and blamed God. Died an Agnostic because she could not reconcile the images of Loving God and Pain and misery on earth.

• Charles Darwin. Proposed the Theory of Evolution through Natural Selection. Charles was raised in the Anglican Church and later attended a Unitarian. The web address I place below gives ample evidence of Darwin’s religiosity as a young man and middle age. In Darwin’s own words, I shall address this question by inserting a passage from the site. “In what is perhaps his most revealing response, a letter in 1879 to John Fordyce, an author of works on scepticism, Darwin writes: [My] judgment often fluctuates…. Whether a man deserves to be called a theist depends on the definition of the term … In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God. — I think that generally (and more and more so as I grow older), but not always, — that an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind.” https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/commentary/religion/what-did-darwin-believe

• Margaret Sanger: Birth Control and Abortion Advocate. Here is one that can honestly be called an atheist. It is relatively apparent that her atheism, radical politics and earnest desire to help women avoid unwanted pregnancies stem largely from her childhood. Her mother died from tuberculosis, possibly because her body had been weakened by 18 pregnancies which produced 11 children. Her father was atheistic and a radical activist who exerted tremendous force in Margaret’s formational years.
While it is indisputable that Margaret Sanger exercised tremendous impact on modern society, there is the question of whether those effects were positive or negative. Her advocating for the principles of eugenics, including sterilization of the ‘unfit’ brings her character and beliefs into question. Her firm support of birth control and abortion had the desired effects insofar as Planned Parenthood becoming a tremendous business. However, the availability of abortion and birth control has produced possibly unforeseen and undesired long term consequences on society at large.

• Albert Einstein: Highly Gifted Mathematical Theoretician. To answer this charge this writer turned to one who appeared the most researched and a source even ‘Freethinkers’ might listen to (https://www.bethinking.org/god/did-einstein-believe-in-god). I have paraphrased or lifted sections of John Marsh’s article addressing the question; Did Einstein Believe in God?

According to Richard Dawkins in ‘The God Delusion’, the definition of atheism is the belief that there is “nothing beyond the natural, physical world, no supernatural creative intelligence lurking behind the observable universe.” In that book, Dawkins presents Einstein as a prime example, and describes Einstein’s religion as pantheism, which he calls “sexed-up atheism.” According to Dawkins, “The one thing his theistic critics got right, was that Einstein was not one of them. He was repeatedly indignant at the suggestion he was a theist.” John Marsh begins his rebuttal of Dawkins with, “because Dawkins tells us that in his opinion “to deliberately confuse the two understandings of God is an act of intellectual high treason.”

In the Oxford English Dictionary we find the following definitions: theism is the belief in a deity, or deities, as opposed to atheism; and the belief in one God, as opposed to polytheism or pantheism. It is important to note that, firstly, the definition of theism does not necessarily include the notion that God is personal. Secondly, atheism is defined as a disbelief in, or denial of, the existence of a God. Thirdly, pantheism is a belief or philosophical theory that God is not only immanent (indwelling and sustaining the universe) but also identical with the universe.

Dawkins explains that in dealing with Einstein’s religious views he relied on Max Jammer’s book Einstein and Religion. Dawkins wrote: “The extracts that follow are taken from Max Jammer’s book (which is also my main source of quotations from Einstein himself on religious matters). However a very different picture emerges when we study what Einstein actually said, again as recorded in Jammer’s book. It seems Dawkins needs to be reminded of the ‘Ten New Commandments’ he lists in his own book. The seventh reads. “Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.” The following quotations from Einstein are all in Jammer’s book:
• “Behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force is my religion. To that extent, I am in point of fact, religious.”
• “Every scientist becomes convinced that the laws of nature manifest the existence of a spirit vastly superior to that of men.”
• “Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe – a spirit vastly superior to that of man.”
• “The divine reveals itself in the physical world.”
• “My God created laws… His universe is not ruled by wishful thinking but by immutable laws.”
• “I want to know how God created this world. I want to know his thoughts.”
• “What I am really interested in knowing is whether God could have created the world in a different way.”
• “This firm belief in a superior mind that reveals itself in the world of experience, represents my conception of God.”
• “My religiosity consists of a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit; That superior reasoning power forms my idea of God.”

I am reasonably confident that Jammer, a friend and colleague of Einstein has a much greater credibility regarding Einstein’s beliefs than Dawkins. According to Jammer, “Einstein always protested against being regarded as an atheist.” This writer joins Mr. Marsh when he asks “What evidence does Dawkins have that Einstein was indignant at being called a theist?” Dawkins needs to explain this very peculiar discrepancy. Lastly Dawkins argues that science and religion are incompatible. Again Einstein takes the opposite point of view: “A legitimate conflict between science and religion cannot exist. Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.”

• Andrew Carnegie. Industrialist and Philanthropist. Andrew Carnegie witnessed intense sectarianism and strife in 19th century Scotland regarding religion and philosophy. Stemming from the reasonable desire to avoid violence in his life, young Carnegie kept his distance from organized religion and theism. Carnegie instead preferred to see things through naturalistic and scientific terms stating, “Not only had I got rid of the theology and the supernatural, but I had found the truth of evolution.” At this point one might be able to argue at least for ‘Lapsed Christian’, though there are no known documents from his life avowing to atheism.

Later in life, Carnegie’s firm opposition to religion softened. For many years he was a member o of Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, pastored from 1905 to 1926 by Social Gospel exponent Henry Sloane Coffin, while his wife and daughter belonged to the Brick Presbyterian Church. He also prepared (but did not deliver) an address in which he professed a belief in “an Infinite and Eternal Energy from which all things proceed”. Records exist of a short period of correspondence around 1912–1913 between Carnegie and `Abdu’l-Bahá, the eldest son of Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Bahá’í Faith. In these letters, one of which was published in the New York Times in full text, Carnegie is extolled as a “lover of the world of humanity and one of the founders of Universal Peace”.

Thomas Edison. Inventor, Entrepreneur. Historian Paul Israel has characterized Edison as a “freethinker”, just not in the way Dan Barker defines the term.  Edison was heavily influenced by Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason. Edison defended Paine’s “scientific deism” by saying, “He has been called an atheist, but atheist he was not. Paine believed in a supreme intelligence, as representing the idea which other men often express by the name of deity.” In an October 2, 1910, interview in the New York Times Magazine, Edison stated: “Nature is what we know. We do not know the gods of religions. And nature is not kind, or merciful, or loving. If God made me the fabled God of the three qualities of which I spoke: mercy, kindness, love. He also made the fish I catch and eat. And where do His mercy, kindness, and love for that fish come in? No; nature made us-nature did it all-not the gods of the religions.”

Edison was accused of being an atheist for those remarks, and although he did not allow himself to be drawn into the controversy publicly, he clarified himself in a private letter, saying, “You have misunderstood the whole article, because you jumped to the conclusion that it denies the existence of God. There is no such denial, what you call God I call Nature, the Supreme intelligence that rules matter. All the article states is that it is doubtful in my opinion if our intelligence or soul or whatever one may call it lives hereafter as an entity or disperses back again from whence it came, scattered amongst the cells of which we are made.”

He also stated, “I do not believe in the God of the theologians; but that there is a Supreme Intelligence I do not doubt.”

Therefore, Edison is NOT a Freethinker by Dan’s own standards because he believed absolutely in a Supreme Being; an immaterial and unmeasurable Supreme Intelligence.

• Marie Curie. Researcher, Scientist. Maria’s mother Bronisława died of tuberculosis on May 1878, when Maria was ten years old. Less than three years earlier, Maria’s oldest sibling, Zofia, had died of typhus contracted from a boarder. Maria’s father was an atheist, her mother a devout Catholic. The deaths of Maria’s mother and sister caused her to give up Catholicism and become agnostic. To be an agnostic is to not believe in God’s existence or believe in the absence of God. As Dan has stated earlier, to be a ‘Freethinker’ is to believe in the absence of God.

• H. L. Mencken. Journalist, Editor. Humorist and Critic. It is difficult to know whether this man was an agnostic, mystic of some type or truly an atheist. The articles or websites I found were primarily devoted to his quotes. His words were cutting, acerbic and usually funny (if his ire was not directed at you). Few argue that his skill with the American language was unmatched in his day.

One of his most marked characteristics was that he attacked everyone and everything in he deemed undesirable in the American Culture. What I read of his quotes indicates that Menken had no love, or even respect, for organized religion of any type and that he had only the most superficial knowledge of Christianity typical of his generation. He condemned religion for coming between ‘a man and his god,’ whilst praising mysticism as a direct link. He once remarked, that if he found out that he had been wrong in his agnosticism, he would walk up to god in a manly way and say, “Sir, I made an honest mistake.”

• Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis Pioneer. Freud was very open and honest about his atheism and considered religion a ‘mental disorder similar to an Oedipal Complex. In ‘Moses and Monotheism’ (1939) he stated, “Religion is an attempt to get control over the sensory world, in which we are placed, by means of the wish-world, which we have developed inside us as a result of biological and psychological necessities.”
This is the second self-declared atheist and therefore the second ‘Freethinker’ Dan Barker placed on his list.

• Bertrand Russell. Philosopher and Mathematician.  Bertrand Russel thought that religious questions did not really belong to the discipline of philosophy. This view of philosophy predisposed him to scepticism about subjects that involve ambiguity, interpretation, and perhaps a personal, experiential kind of insight. Ethics is one such subject and religion even more so. Like earlier rationalist thinkers such as Descartes and Spinoza, Russell had an exacting standard for what qualified as “knowledge”, and argued that if philosophy is the search for truth then it should concern itself only with the kind of certainty associated with basic mathematical functions.

Nietzsche once argued that although science makes claims to knowledge, these claims are as deluded as those of religious dogmatists. Russell accepted that what we customarily call “knowledge” occupies a broad spectrum of degrees of uncertainty, and that very little – if anything – is absolutely certain.
This creates a dichotomy between Nietzsche’s pointing at the intellectual “piety” underlying modern science and Russell’s almost utopian vision of scientific progress. His writings state that, ‘In this world we can now begin a little to understand things, and a little to master them by help of science and help us to get over this craven fear in which mankind has lived for so many generations.’ Russel’s writings also show the origins of modern atheist tropes (imaginary supports, allies in the sky and so on).

Nevertheless, Russel’s autobiography relates a mystical experience in which “The ground seemed to give way beneath me and I found myself in quite another region,” he wrote. “Within five minutes I went through such reflections as the following: the loneliness of the human soul is unendurable; nothing can penetrate it except the highest intensity of the sort of love that religious teachers have preached; whatever does not spring from this motive is harmful, or at best useless; it follows that war is wrong, that a public school education is abominable, that the use of force is to be deprecated, and that in human relations one should penetrate to the core of loneliness in each person and speak to that.”

Despite this powerful experience, Bertrand Russel boxed the experience away from his philosophical position on religion. Russell tended to treat “religion” as either a body of doctrines to be intellectually analyzed, or as a phenomenon to be observed objectively from the outside. In the first case, Russell found flawed arguments; in the second, flawed institutions perpetrating violence and oppression.  A biographer noted that Russel tended to see only the best of science and only the worst of religion.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2013/nov/25/bertrand-russell-science-religion

Luther Burbank. Botanist. Luther is another person who the ‘Freethinker/Skeptic’ community claim to be solidly in the atheistic camp though the truth is not on their side.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation website portrays Luther Burbank as a clearly atheistic person. It attributes quotes such as “There is no use now talking evolution to these people. Their ears are stuffed with Genesis.” to display his sentiments towards Christians following the Scopes ‘Monkey Trial.’ Then they offer; “In 1926, an interview about Luther Burbank’s freethought views appeared in the San Francisco Bulletin, which headlined it: “I’m an Infidel, Declares Burbank, Casting Doubt on Soul Immortality Theory.” The article was reprinted around the world, creating shockwaves. Burbank was inundated with mostly critical letters, which he felt he had to reply to personally. Friend and later biographer, Wilbur Hale, attributed Burbank’s hastened death to the exertion of his replies: “He died, not a martyr to truth, but a victim of the fatuity of blasting dogged falsehood.” A crowd estimated at 100,000 came to Luther’s memorial, and heard the openly atheistic and ringing tribute by Judge Lindsay of Denver, Colorado. California still celebrates Luther Burbank’s birthday as Arbor Day, planting trees in his memory.”

That account of the funeral is directly contradicted by the funeral description available at website https://cemeterytravel.com/2013/12/04/cemetery-of-the-week-117-luther-burbanks-gravesite/view , “Judge Ben B. Lindsey of Denver gave a funeral oration at Burbank’s funeral to a crowd that was estimated at 10,000. He expanded on Burbank’s Unitarian rejection of a god of fire and brimstone. He said, “Luther Burbank lives forever in the myriad fields of strengthened grain, in the new forms of fruits and flowers and plants and vines and trees and above all the newly watered gardens of the human mind from whence shall spring human freedom from those earthly fields that shall drive out gods, false and brutal.”

The assertation that Luther Burbank was atheistic is greatly contradicted by Bertrand’s own opinions.  In LUTHER.BURBANK, “OUR BELOVED”, by Frederick W. Clampett (1926) the following quotes are directly attributed to Burbank:
• “I belong to the great church that holds the world within its starlit aisles; that claims the great and the good of every race and clime; that finds with joy the grain of gold in every creed, and floods with light and love the germs of good in every soul.”
• Over the entrance of such a church, Burbank said, and it will appeal to vast millions, may be written the name of the God of science.
• An atheist denies the existence of God. But an infidel is simply a disbeliever in the established religion.
The (In)famous 1926 article featured by the FFRF (above) ended in the following passage: Religion cannot be founded on a principle; it needs the power of an Eternal Energy, almighty and omnipresent. Burbank had already made that point clear when he said : “I prefer and claim the right to worship the infinite, everlasting, almighty God of this vast universe as revealed to us gradually, step by step, by the demonstrable truths of our savior, science.”

Luther did receive thousands of letters attacking his ‘atheism’. However, Clampett offers the following in response: “It is true he was an atheist in his utter denial of the God of the theologians, but that denial makes his faith all the stronger in the God of science.”  The cause of Burbank’s death was a heart attack followed by gastrointestinal complications.  There is a possibility that a latent condition was aggravated by the stress of reading (and replying to selected individuals) the thousands of letters he received.  The FFRF account is the only one citing the flood of mail as the cause of Luther’s death.

One Eternal Energy! One Infinite Spirit! There will you find the foundation of his faith, the one Supreme Source of the philosophy of his life. And this Infinite Energy is the very life of the world, the inspiration of all things created. It is the idea of God, as revealed to us from the “Kingdom within.” God is immanent, Burbank believed. “In Him we live, and have our being.” This Infinite Spirit was to him not a personality living in a distant realm, enthroned like a king, dispensing His authority. He is a part of everything created.

Luther was sure that, “…humanity, as time goes on, will picture in his soul God, the spirit whose moral attributes transcend to infinity his own highest ideals of goodness. He will image the Spirit of Light and Love and Truth an all-loving Being so close to the poorest of his creatures that no go-between is needed.” And as the “Kingdom within” develops those moral attributes, it will reveal glimpses into new depths of the eternal qualities of love, of mercy, of kindness, of peace, of harmony and health.. Under Jewish teaching, where racial religion was supreme, there was a “Holy of Holies.” But in the words of Jesus: “Neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father. . . . God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

It appears that Luther was indeed a theist, possibly a pantheist (in the Hindu sense), but his idea of drawing closer to God through scientific research was quite different than the prevailing notion of the Judeo-Christian God in America at that time. However, they appear to be very much in line with Gregor Mendel and other Catholic monks, priests and nuns for the past 1,600-2000 years of Christianity. To know God, study Creation. He left hints and clues throughout; from the smallest quantum particle to the incredible vastness of the cosmos.

As this post has proven to be far longer than originally planned, this author shall carry on from this point next week.

Response To ‘Freethinker’ Propaganda…Part 3

Do freethinkers have any meaning in life?  Though Dan Barker is accurate to an extent, he side-steps the ‘Big Question’ when he answers this question by saying; “Freethinkers know that meaning must originate in a mind.  Since the universe is mindless and the cosmos does not care, you must care, if you wish to have purpose. Individuals are free to choose, within the limits of humanistic morality.  “Some freethinkers find meaning in human compassion, social progress, the beauty of humanity (art, music, literature), personal happiness, pleasure, joy, love, and the advancement of knowledge”

It is true that the stars and planets, asteroids and nebulae, have no consciousness and therefore care not a whit what happens on or to our little blue marble.  That however, does not mean there is no greater meaning in life.  The things lists as ‘Freethinker Meaning of Life’ ar nothing more than hobbies, interests, or personal goals at the most.  His very short treatment of the ‘meaning of life’ for ‘freethinkers’ contains something that the most devout/dogmatic religious person would enjoy.  To claim such shallow items as a purpose for existence is ridiculous at best.

The phrase ‘Meaning of Life’ implies a universality that is absent in any laundry list of hobbies and interests.  The ‘I Likes’ you put on a dating profile are as variable as each unique individual completing the form.  The passions and interests, the tastes and dislikes for each person are not interchangeable between individuals or even the same person at different ages.  Each person’s tastes or passions are malleable because our priorities and goals change with the accumulation of experiences and years.  The clubbing or mountaineering one lived for in their youth becomes an impossibility once children enter their lives and/or age and arthritis have sapped their vitality.

The “Meaning of Life Question” has been approached in every civilization by everyone from peasants to princes.  Dan’s answers are shallow and weak in comparison to even the Atheistic Buddhism approved by Communist China.  True Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism, Judaism, Christianity and even the polytheists/ascetics of early Western cultures are all far deeper than the Communist version because they consider the relationship of each human, not only with each other and the world, but also with the cosmos/divine.

Regardless of how ‘freethinkers’ feel about psychotherapy and its origins, the atheistic pioneer of the field, Sigmund Freud said it bluntly:   “… only religion can answer the question of the purpose of life. One can hardly be wrong in concluding that the idea of life having a purpose [at all] stands and falls with the religious system” (Civilization and Its Discontents, 1930).

The value society places on human life is born from the near-universal religious idea that human life is valuable or sacred.  The rules of polite society are likewise born from religious morals.  The loss or banning of religion from society has frequently been shown to produce enormous loss of life (for the good of society/collective) or relativistic permissibility that allows the individual to do almost anything they find ‘fulfilling’.

Dan claims the complexity of life does not require a designer.  He states that the explanation for the complexity of biological life is Darwin’s theory of evolution because cumulative nonrandom natural selection “designing” for billions of years, has provided the explanation.

Even granting the possibility that random mutations (99.99999….% of which are lethal or deleterious) are the source of all species of plant or animal on the planed from a single, common, one-celled ancestor, there is still the issue of a living organism somehow (defying the laws of everything from entropy to biology) arising spontaneously from non-living matter.

Genetic drift within species and the results of selective breeding are incontrovertible.  Even with guided experiments to prove bacterial evolution running for decades, there has never been a documented case of bacteria giving rise to anything but bacteria of the same species.  It may be with slightly different traits that may lead to a different strain or subspecies, but it is still the same type of bacteria.  Never has it been documented that even a single celled species gave rise to any other single-celled species, let alone a multi-celled creature.  Human-guided selective breeding (compressing millions of years of natural selection into a few decades) has produced over a hundred breeds of dogs that theoretically came from a common wolf-like ancestor.  The offspring of all this selection are still all distinctly canines, though the argument could be made that a teacup poodle is a different species than a great dane, just as the zebra and horse are.  Even so, those species are still in the same genus.

If, as Dan Barker claims, the ‘Freethinker’ relies on their intellect to form opinions about subjects on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief, why does he not dismiss the theory of evolution, with the massive need for faith (in Darwin’s theory and those of all of his scientific descendants) required to not dismiss the seemingly outlandish theories involved?

The materialistic/naturalistic claim that random molecular reactions somehow produced a living cell that somehow became all life on earth through random recombination of genetic material (thinned by natural selection) requires tremendous faith (odds against this are on the order of an untrained monkey typing out a Shakespeare play with zero errors when placed in front of a typewriter on the first try).  Why are there no skeptical treatments or demands for logical or material proof of some sort to support the theory?  There is more substantial documentation for the theory of Race Realism than there is for random mutation transforming aquatic algae into ferns; ferns into broadleaved flowering plants that themselves were transformed into everything from a violet to 100-foot-tall tropical trees.  Then continued by converting broad-leafed plants into grass and needle-leafed conifers (ranging from alpine bristlecone pines to giant redwoods) and cacti with their leaves converted into spines.

Why do skeptics, rationalists and freethinkers accept evolution without question and overlook the issues surrounding primal aquatic animals somehow arising out of algae?  Why is there no question surrounding the notion of fish and mollusk species with distinct physical attributes changing into another creature with traits that are distinctly different from the original, with no evidence of transitional or divergent phases?  Why do these rationalist groups embrace the notion that, after millions of years of adaptation to the aquatic environment, animals somehow converted themselves to life on land, which would require massive physiological and structural changes?  Then there are the ages of reptiles, followed by dinosaurs in their many forms, then tiny, mouse-like mammals arising suddenly out of non-mammals, the megafauna in the ice ages and those species changing into what we now see.

Rational thought indicates that the massive changes to chromosome numbers, sequences and length to produce the wildly divergent flora and fauna in the fossil record, even over the massive lengths of time involved require some form of guidance.

Yet Dan claims that a “Divine Designer” is not the answer because the complexity of such a creature would be subject to the same scrutiny itself, basing his argument in the notion that a creator must be of equal or greater complexity than the creation.  To support this attitude, he states that, ‘Even a child knows to ask: “If God made everything, then who made God?”’; thereby treating God like a material creature, bound by the same laws that govern the universe.

What atheists fail to consider is the builder of any construct cannot originate from inside the construct.  Space and time, matter and energy originated from the Big Bang.  The creator, by definition, must then exist outside of space and time as we perceive those concepts.  Just as a builder can enter and modify or customize a structure, or a person can customize their ‘simworld’ to their liking, the creator can enter and modify the universe.

What we call ‘God’ is a perfect, all-seeing, all-knowing, all loving consciousness that created the universe and keeps it running.  Just as any picture can be zoomed in to the extent that it breaks down into pixels, matter breaks down into quantum particles.  All matter is made of quantum particles that do not exist except as a mathematical probability unless they are observed.  What could have been observing those particles, keeping them in physical form so they could combine into physical sub-atomic particles and maintain them in that state for 13.8 billion years?

Because of quantum particle behavior, Elon Musk (hardly a conspiracy nut or fundamentalist Christian) has launched a project to determine whether the universe is a computer simulation, with the Computer providing the constant observation needed to maintain physicality.  The far simpler answer, with the fewest steps, is that this universe is a creation of and exists within the infinite mind of the very being of existence.  The observation to maintain quantum particles is provided by God, not some supercomputer AI.

Response To ‘Freethinker’ Propaganda…Part 2

Dan Barker quotes “Clarence Darrow as saying, I don’t believe in God because I don’t believe in Mother Goose” as validation for ‘Freethinkers’’ holding a naturalistic worldview.  Apparently Clarence did not hear the Paul Harvey radio program “The Rest of the Story” about the existence of the actual ‘Mother Goose’ who lived in the Massachusetts Colony during the Elizabethan Era.  Therefore, given the rationalist/freethinker belief that if a statement is falsifiable it must be rejected, Clarence Darrow, and all who adhere to his rejection of God, must now reject that reason for their dogmatic atheism.

According to Dan Barker; “To be a ‘freethinker’ one must confine reality to what is directly perceivable through the ‘freethinker’s’ natural senses or ‘reason’.  ‘Reason’ confines the truth of a statement to the strict tests of the scientific method.  To be true, a statement must be testable and have repeated tests confirm the validity of the statement. It must also be parsimonious (the simplest explanation with the fewest assumptions) and be logical (free of contradiction, non-sequiturs and irrelevant ad-hominem character attacks.”

To adhere to the ‘freethinkers’ paradigm, then the freethinkers must reject the scientific method, logic and many other abstract concepts that have no physical, testable presence.  They must also reject any and all emotions because they also are immaterial, untestable, and irrational.  For the ‘freethinkers’ to allow themselves to use anything that cannot be subjected to their standards automatically refutes their claims of being a member of that group because it contradicts their standards.

For ‘freethinkers’ to base their morality on humanism (People who don’t subscribe to any religion self-identify as Humanists.  Humanism is a worldview that emphasizes the value of humanity and social justice while altogether rejecting supernatural concepts and religious dogma) and/or not hurting others, is not a solid base upon which to build a healthy civilization.  The USSR and other Soviet-Inspired states were built upon humanist/scientific secular designs.

On 11/17/10 Brandon Norgaard posted in his website The Enlightened Worldview Project that his “…phenomenological and scientific reasoning has led me to the conclusion that people have the natural rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  While many Americans and others in Western Democracies might wish to mockingly congratulate Brandon for catching up with John Locke or Thomas Jeffeson, they should hear him out.  He did not arrive at his conclusion from the Judeo-Christian perspective, but as secular humanist.

According to him, “This reasoning is rooted in the realization of the nonphysical aspect of humanity, which is called the soul. There is also an important realization that souls have free will, which is a supernatural concept because there are no natural processes through which all actions of souls, and by extension humans, can be reduced to. Finally there is the realization that the first person experience of right and wrong has a nonphysical aspect as well.”

He refutes Dan Barker’s position of ‘Freethinker’s Morality’ of reason and kindness by stating, “…there is no way that morality, and by extension natural justice, can be real aspects of the universe regardless of anyone’s mere personal opinion unless they are based on some form of nonphysical metaphysics. Quite simply, if everything that exists is physical, then there is no inherent right or wrong, there is just the way things are. The physical universe is not at all concerned with social justice or humanity per se.”

This writer wonders, therefore;  How can any atheist that claims to be a humanist even pretend to criticize a theist on the ‘morality’ of God or religion when such criticism relies on an non-existent cosmic absolute and is done in an unkind and unreasonable manner.  The sheer hypocrisy of atheist freethinkers utilizing an objective moral standard (whose existence they deny) to condemn others people, not to mention the Creator of the Universe, is staggering, particularly morality does not exist as a physical, testable entity subject to empirical analysis?

Brandon Norgaard also states, “Secular Humanism is not a coherent worldview in essence. A worldview that includes belief in a nonphysical aspect of the self is more rational and I believe more justified given the scientific and phenomenological evidence.”  While this embrace of a transcendent consciousness certainly not confirm the existence of God as Western Civilization views that entity, Brandon does not rule out some form of Creator.  Rather, he requires one when he states, “I do not reject belief in anything supernatural because the natural universe is not an explanation for itself. The best explanation is that the natural universe was created by something that is over and above nature, and this is a supernatural concept.”

 

Though Brandon repudiates known mainstream religions when he states, “This concept may be called God, but this does not mean that for one to believe this that they must have blind faith in God as a Christian or Muslim does. There is a reasonable justification for believing this and thus blind faith is not necessary. This is one strike against the Secular Humanist worldview.”

When Dan Barker claims that morality can be based on human need or ‘doing no harm’ to any person, it can sound very fine and dandy.  However, when real world scenarios are tried, they become capricious and arbitrary.  When humans become the masters of the rules, the in group often becomes favored in catalogue of one-way rules such as those seen in any absolute rule society from the dawn of monarchy in the Tigris and Euphrates valleys through socialist dictatorships around the world from 1917 until now.

By basing morality on ‘human needs’, not imagined ‘cosmic absolutes, Dan’s essay comes into direct contradiction with Brandon’s statements, as well as those of the vast majority of theists.  The physiological needs of prison inmates are objectively met. .They have no job and therefore an abundance of free time, free food and drink, free cable and internet, free dental and medical care, etc.  According to many activists on the political left, that should equate to paradise.  Yet nearly all the prisoners in any jail or prison would take cold, wet, hungry and free over their relatively comfortable life in confinement.

The transcendent human soul, a high melding of intellect and will, has been known for thousands of years to need a purpose.  For much longer, each individual human has sought to find their own meaning or goal in life beyond the mere animal drives of survival and reproduction.  Their quests have, in large part, succeeded or failed based on how hard each person was willing to work and sacrifice to achieve their goal.  The impacts of these goals on human society have depended upon the extent to which they abided within the bounds of both societal written law and the natural law freethinkers as so quick to deny.

According to Dan Barker, “Moral dilemmas involve a conflict of values, requiring a careful use of reason to weigh the outcome…Freethinkers try to base actions on their consequences to real, living human being.”  This writer states unequivocally that such attitudes have been used throughout history to legitimize atrocities.  The enslavement of captives and criminals in both Europe and the Americas was legitimized by arguing that their lives were better in bondage than in cells or primitive squalor.  The euthanasia movements, both in the past and now, base their arguments on the notion that the lives of the insane, disabled, elderly or terminally ill are a burden both to themselves and others; therefore it is a mercy to all to end their lives.  The abortion movement and Planned Parenthood argue that careless, recreational sex is a good thing, and that such activities should be without consequences.  After all, burdening an unwed woman with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy is terrible.  The fetus would have a life of want and poverty.  Therefore terminating the pregnancy is just.  For the woman or girl it is a simple procedure and life returns to normal.

“Freethinkers argue that religion promotes a dangerous and inadequate “morality” based on blind obedience, unexamined ultimatums, and “pie-in-the-sky” rewards of heaven or gruesome threats of hell,” Dan Barker argues.  That statement sounds like Dan made just the type of absolutist statement of condemnation he accuses religion of making.

Rather than make more cheap hypocrisy points, this author will direct Dan Barker to the sciences and reason he is so fond of.  These fields of study were preserved and promoted by the Catholic Religious Orders, both male and female.  The Catholic Church has believed for two thousand years that God is both rational and orderly.  Those characteristics are discernable in His creations and to learn about these creations is to learn about God.  The authors of the renaissance were not the ‘protestant reformers.’  Rather, they were the Catholic Religious Orders that opened educational institutions for children and adults.  They were the monks and nuns who studied reason, medicine, logic, mathematics, genetics and astronomy and shared their findings with the public through institutions of learning, hospitals, orphanages and charity.  Galileo did not get into his feud with the Pope over his heliocentric theory.  It was because his arrogance led him to publicly break a promise he had made to the Pope.

The ‘dangerous and inadequate’ morality built on ‘blind obedience’ Dan Barker condemns seems to be a cartoonish slave state of fundamentalist Islam blended with the worst of Fundamentalist Puritanism displayed during the Salem Witch Trials.  It bears no resemblance to true Christianity or any other mainstream Western or Asian theistic religion or philosophy when the true teachings are embodied though the believer’s behavior.

In an earlier post, I noted that Dan is making his anti-religious arguments from the comforts of a civilization built, maintained and protected by a Christian ethos.  The laws and unwritten expectations were based on Christian morals.  Murder and theft, for example, were always wrong.  Now, though, as relativism and other ‘freethinking’ ethics have entered the judicial systems of Western Civilization, the ethical standards are being rapidly eroded away by those unfettered by an absolute morality.  ‘Laws/Rules for thee, but not for me’ has become almost a given in personal, business and social media conduct.

As the population looks back through time to when our civilization exercised the rules of self-restraint and delayed gratification, our civilization was more polite.  When criminal behavior and unwed motherhood/fatherhood were both scandalous and rare, what do we see?  We see absolute rules, codes of conduct that applied to all in equal measure.  For millennia these rules were in place through all cultures, all over the world, in every civilization to some extent.  Also, when these rules were flagrantly disobeyed, that civilization (from Babylon to Rome to Pre-Revolutionary France to Nazi Germany and Communist/Socialist regimes) declined and fell, often violently.

Are ‘Freethinkers/Skeptics’ Really Living Up To Their Names?

Based on what I have read in most ‘Freethinker’ and ‘Skeptic’ websites and social site posts, the labels ‘freethinker’ and ‘skeptic’ are often more of a self-compliment that an accurate title.  In this brief essay, I will use the term ‘Freethinker’ to describe both of these groups.

Many self-described Freethinkers assume (like Dan Barker appears to in his essay “What is a Freethinker” [click here]) that their intellect “…forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief.  Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.”  This attitude seems objectively self-contradictory.  It calls itself ‘free’ while simultaneously mandating that any inquiry through ‘reason and evidence’ must reject any and all notion of the Divine.  Does not the mandatory rejection of religion form a ‘tradition’ based upon the ‘authority’ of prior ‘Free-Thinkers’ in and of itself form an ‘established belief’?

As Dr. Jordon B. Peterson has noted about the high-visibility atheists such as Sam Harris, the Freethinkers, skeptics et al. are daily taking advantage of Christian Civilization.  Western Europe was founded upon Christianity, particularly Catholicism.  The Catholic Church preserved the Classical theories and thought from Greco-Roman Civilization.  Catholicism preserved and encouraged learning, built science as a way to pursue knowledge of the Creator (though learning about His Creation).  Pursuit of science (including creating the scientific method) was the work of monks and priests.  Religious orders (monks, priests and nuns) were the driving force behind creating hospitals, universities and even education for all.

All of the virtues, and desirable behaviors listed in Dan Barker’s “Free Thinker} essay are in reality Christian virtues. They were unwelcome in Communist/Atheist nations in Eastern Europe, Africa, southeast Asia and Latin America–such as honesty, or sanctity of human life, for example–if they would not be in the Party’s interest.  They are still most unwelcome in communist/socialist nations such as Cuba, China and North Korea for the same reason. They were also unwelcome in Nazi Germany or Mussolini’s Italy.

The “Freethinkers” also seem to be nice, but, outside of a Christian context, “Nice” is nothing more than a vague platitude. It is a highly subjective term about a subjective idea. Nice means almost nothing when it comes to behavior.

Any steadfast adherence to a given belief without sufficient evidence is contradictory to the idea of ‘Free Thought’ as Dan Barker describes it.  Yet those who attach themselves to that label deliberately close their eyes, ears and minds to the abundant evidence for the existence of a Creator.  Astronomers have dated the Universe as being approximately 14 billion years old.  Therefore everything about the universe (time, space, matter and energy) had a beginning.  By definitions, there was nothing before the instant when the singularity occurred. The rules of logic, from which we can determine the laws governing time, matter and space mandate that nothing can spontaneously appear from nothing. Therefore, the very existence of the universe requires a Creator that exists outside of time and space because a Creator cannot originate from inside its own creation.

Even allowing a spontaneous ‘singularity’ from which all matter, time, energy and space originated, the incredibly narrow tolerance for the laws governing the universe argue for a Creator. The balance between strong and weak nuclear forces (which allow the elements to react and interact as they do) and gravity is so precise that the odds of it happening through mere chance have been calculated as 1:(10 to the power of ten to the power of 123).

This makes the odds of everything in the universe forming so blindingly small, that anyone with free thought must question why does anything even exist?  Unless the ‘free thinker’ has already closed their mind to the possibility of a Creator (which would prove they are not free thinkers), they must at least honestly consider that possibility.

Additionally, the odds of the nuclear forces, gravity, electromagnetism, the weight and energy balances between protons and electrons and all the other factors necessary for the current universe, capable of sustaining life, to exist are analogous to giving a single monkey a word processor and it immediately typing Shakespeare’s Hamlet without a single error.

‘Freethinkers’ and ‘Skeptics’ congratulate themselves and each other for their reason and logic.  Yet they consistently choose to ignore the mounting evidence for a Creator and to cling to their faith in random chance as the sole cause of the universe and life. They hold and spout their dogma of Random Chance creating highly organized galaxies (composed of hundreds of millions of stars, many with planets that may even host life) spontaneously formed (in contradiction to the law of Entropy) from the matter that was randomly created from the wild energy and chaos resulting from the Big Bang, when nothing became something in direct contradiction of both logic and the laws of physics.