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                                   Chapter 9 
   * Christianity vs. Objectivism  
   * Christianity vs. the Lightning Rod  
   * Christianity vs. Women and Sex  
   * Interview with God  
   * Robert Ingersoll on Religion  
   * Religious Roots of Evil  
   * Attila and the Witch Doctor  
   * Basic Principles of Objectivism - Nathaniel Branden - from Lecture #4  
   * The Case of God vs. the Case of Reality  
   * God as Big Daddy  
   * Religion and Insanity  

   * Christianity vs. Objectivism 
   I wonder if you realize just how profoundly antagonistic are Christianity 
and Objectivism. I will make a brief comparison to exemplify this. 
   In morality, Christianity holds that one of the major sins is Pride 
(remember that that was a main cause of the expulsion of Lucifer). On the 
contrary, Objectivism holds Pride as one of its cardinal virtues (PSE, 
chapter 12). 
   In ethics, Christianity regards altruistic self-sacrifice as a primary 
virtue. Objectivism holds altruism to be an abomination and self-interest to 
be a primary virtue (VOS, chapter 1). 
   In Augustine's "Confessions," after denouncing all the pleasures of the 
body, he continues with a comment on the mind: "To this is added another 
form of temptation, more manifoldly dangerous. For besides the 
concupiscience of the flesh which consists in the delight of all senses and 
pleasures, the soul has, through the same senses of the body, a certain vain 
and curious desire, veiled under the title of knowledge and learning, the 
seat whereof being in the appetite of knowledge, and sight being the sense 
chiefly used for attaining knowledge, it is in divine language called 'The 
lust of the eyes.'" 
   Contrast this with part of the description of John Galt: 
   "The first thing she grasped about him was the intense perceptiveness of 
his eyes--he looked as if his faculty of sight were his best-loved tool and 
its exercise were a limitless, joyous adventure, as if his eyes imparted a 
superlative value to himself and to the world--to himself for his ability to 
see, to the world for being a place so eagerly worth seeing. It seemed to 
her for a moment that she was in the presence of a being who was pure 
consciousness." (AS Part 3, chapter 1) 
   Faith is the acceptance of an idea as true in the absence of reason or in 
defiance of objective evidence to the contrary. Faith is not the acceptance 
of an idea on the basis of incorrect reasons, it is the belief that reasons 
are unnecessary. In defense of faith, Tertullian wrote: 
   "It is believable because it is absurd. It is certain because it is 
   He is joined by Augustine, who wrote: "One must first BELIEVE, that one 
may then know." 
   Christianity has traditionally been so hostile to freedom of thought that 
the term "free-thinker" became synonymous with "atheist." Christ on 
libertarianism: "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign 
over them, bring hither, and slay them before me."  Luke 19:27 
   Faith is the willful abdication of one's consciousness, and it is THIS 
act that Objectivism holds to be the most fundamental sin that a man can 
commit. (PSE chapter 12) 
   I disagree completely that there is in Christianity any orientation to 
libertarianism. Their wretched book is stuffed to the bursting point with 
injunctions to OBEY, and that is why it is impossible for those believing in 
it to refrain from trying to compel everyone to act as they think it 
commands. They are apt to go tearing off on a holy crusade at any moment, 
because they have an intrinsically unstable and self-contradictory set of 
   Where religion is least harmful, it is following generally along the 
moral map laid out by reason. But nothing in a religion tells you how to 
generate that moral map yourself, or guarantees that major sections of it 
won't change according to the dictates of some privileged interpreter. 

   There is no common ground between Christianity and Objectivism. They are 
diametrically opposed to one another. 

   * Christianity vs. the Lightning Rod 
   Of all the fatal manifestations of nature, the one which is most clearly 
an overwhelming attack by a divine being against man is the lightning bolt. 
And yet, if the lightning stroke is indeed the wrathful weapon of a 
supernatural being, there are some difficult-to-explain implications.
   As it happens, high objects are more frequently struck by lightning than 
are low objects. As it also happens, the highest man-made object in the 
small European town of early modern times was the steeple of the village 
church. It followed, embarrassingly enough, that the most frequent target of 
the lightning bolt was the church itself. Over a 33-year period in 18th-
century Germany, no fewer than 400 church towers were damaged by lightning. 
What's more, since church bells were often rung during thunderstorms in an 
attempt to avert the wrath of the Lord, the bell ringers were in unusual 
danger and in that same period, 120 of them were killed. 
   Recall, in this context, the famous kite-flying experiment in which Ben 
Franklin demonstrated that lightning is nothing more than a big dose of 
electricity. Franklin had noted that an electrical discharge takes place 
more readily and quietly through a fine point than through a blunt 
projection. If a needle were attached to a Leyden jar, the charge leaked 
quietly through the needle point so readily that the jar could never be 
charged at all. Well, then--if a sharp metal rod were placed at the top of a 
structure and if it were properly grounded, any electric charge accumulating 
near the structure during a thunderstorm would be quietly discharged and the 
chances of its building up to the catastrophic loosing of a lightning bolt 
would be greatly diminished. 
   Franklin advanced the notion of this "lightning rod" in 1753. The notion 
was so simple, the principle so clear, the investment in time and material 
so small, the nature of the possible relief so great, that lightning rods 
began to rise immediately over buildings throughout the world. And it 
worked! Where the lightning rods rose, the lightning bolt ceased. For the 
first time in the history of mankind, one of the great scourges of the 
Universe had been beaten, not by magic and spells and prayer, but by 
science--by an understanding of the laws of nature and by intelligent 
cooperation with them. 
   There was an embarrassed reluctance about putting up lightning rods on 
churches. It seemed to betray a lack of confidence in God. But it soon 
became all too noticeable to everyone that the town church, unprotected by 
lightning rods, was hit, while the town brothel, if protected by lightning 
rods, was not. 
   Every lightning rod on a church is evidence of the victory of science and 
of the surrender of religion--and no one can be so blind as not to see that 
evidence. Although they often choose to be so blind as to deny it. 

   * Christianity vs. Women and Sex 
   Under Christianity, women lost all legal status and all right to property 
(rights they had firmly held in the preceeding Roman society). All this was 
justified by the Christians on the grounds that Eve had been the cause of 
Adam's downfall. 
   Some attitudes toward sex, as expressed by several of the founders of 
institutionalized Christianity: 
   Saint Paul: "It is good for man not to touch a woman. But if they do not 
have self-control let them marry, for it is better to marry than to burn." 
   Saint John: "Among all savage beasts, none is found so harmful as woman." 
   Tertullian describes woman as "a temple built over a sewer." 
   Clement of Alexandria: "It is disgraceful to love another man's wife at 
all--or one's own too much. He who too ardently loves his own wife is an 
   The Compendia of Catholic Moral Theology devotes 44 pages to a 
description of all possible forms of sin. Thirtytwo of these pages are 
devoted specifically to sexual sin. Of all the ways you can sin, 73 percent 
of them are sexual! 
   For the official Christian view of homosexuality, see Leviticus 20:13. 
   Make no mistake about it, the Christian religion has a profound and 
passionate hatred of sex. 

   * Interview with God 
   When I encountered  God, He was sitting in a remote corner of the 
universe, trying to figure out what had gone wrong with the Grand Design. "I 
am moving to another universe," He said, "because too many Christians have 
moved into this neighborhood." 
   Asked if he was angry, God said: "Wouldn't you be if something you made 
didn't work? I made man to think, to use his reason, his thought, his logic, 
to be free, to be just, to create beauty, to love truth, to achieve, to be 
joyous. My eagles soar, don't they? My fish swim don't they? I made man to 
walk in joy and triumph. My greatest achievement. My masterpiece. And what 
does man do? He fears. He crawls. He has faith. He ignores reality. He 
evades action." 
   "I gave him vision. I gave him principled imagination. I gave him 
courage. I gave him Mind that he might experience the joy of insight. I gave 
him my love of Truth. What does he do? He seeks masters and saviors." 
   "Let me try to explain. I never gave Man a guarantee of perfection, only 
the chance of it. That was the whole point of it all. Man has the choice and 
the chance but never the coercion. I have left his freedom to choose 
   But why, Lord, can Man not be a better creature? 
   "Look, if I reached down and touched him on the forehead and made him 
perfect, what would life on earth be like? No sadness, no joy. No tears, no 
smiles. No pain, no relief. No failure, no triumph. No rudeness, no 
courtesy. No bigotry, no tolerance. No despair, no exultation. No sin and 
certainly no redemption. I would simply create a paradise of featureless 
bliss here on earth, which would make my heavenly kingdom somewhat 
redundant. And that is not the point of it all. So, Man must have his 
   "But this universe is not what I wanted at all. I am going to try it 
again in the next universe. Maybe there things will work out better." 
   Are you planning any changes in the next universe, God? 
   "Yes, I am. No religion. No government. No Church nor State to oppress 
and intimidate my creation." 
   One last question God, if you will? 
   Do you feel bad about leaving anything behind? 
   "Yes, I do...." (A tear came to God's eye. The first tear in a billion 
years. His sorrow made me tremble as I waited for Him to speak.) 
   "I will miss the things most dear to me.... Conscience in the service of 
Justice, and Genius in the service of Truth." 
   "I will miss the admiration and pride I felt when my creation perceived 
Justice and asserted his knowledge of it." 
   "I will miss that immortal light of Intellect, the power and glory of 
Man, whose radiant glow gave me warmth and comfort on cold nights." 
   "Goodbye! I am just too damn disappointed to listen to any more foolish 
   And with that, he vanished in a cloud of de-collapsing quantum wave 

   * Robert Ingersoll on Religion 
   There may be a God who will make us happy in another world. If he does, 
it will be more than he has accomplished in this. 
   I have little confidence in any enterprise or business or investment that 
promises dividends only after the death of the stockholders. 
   I had rather think of those I have loved and lost, as having returned to 
earth, as having become a part of the elemental wealth of the world, I would 
rather think of them as unconscious dust, I would rather dream of them as 
gurgling in the streams, floating in the clouds, bursting in the foam of 
light upon the shores of worlds. I would rather think of them as lost 
visions of a forgotten night, than to have the faintest fear that their 
naked souls have been clutched by a Christian god. 
   For thousands of years men have been writing the real Bible, and it is 
being written from day to day, and it will never be finished while man has 
life. All the facts that we know, all the truly recorded events, all the 
discoveries and inventions, all the wonderful machines whose wheels and 
levers seem to think, all the poems, crystals from the brain, flowers from 
the heart, all the songs of love and joy, of smiles and tears, the great 
dramas in Imagination's world, the wondrous paintings, miracles of form and 
color, of light and shade, the marvelous marbles that seem to live and 
breathe, the secrets told by rock and star, by dust and flower, by rain and 
snow, by frost and flame, by winding stream and desert sand, by mountain 
range and billowed seas. All the wisdom that lengthens and enobles life--all 
that avoids or cures disease, or conquers pain--all just and perfect laws 
and rules that guide and shape our lives, all thoughts that feed the flames 
of love, the music that transfigures, enraptures and enthralls, the 
victories of heart and brain, the miracles that hands have wrought, the deft 
and cunning hands of those who worked for wife and child, the histories of 
noble deeds, of brave and useful men, of faithful loving wives, of 
quenchless mother love, of conflicts for the right, of sufferings for the 
truth, of all the best that all the men and women of the world have said, 
and thought and done through all the years. These treasures of the heart and 
brain--these are the Sacred Scriptures of the human race. 
   It is to him who masters our minds by the force of truth, not to those 
who enslave men by violence, it is to him who understands the world, not to 
those who disfigure it, that we owe our reverence. 
   Wherever these human beings may be who have shared our love, whatever 
landscape soothes their soul, whatever breeze cools their brow, their 
country is our country too. Each square foot of land occupied by a man of 
good will is part of our country. [James Madison's personal motto was: "Ubi 
Libertas, Ibi Patria."] 
   Christ never wrote a solitary word. It has always seemed to me that a 
being coming from another world, with a message of infinite importance to 
   If a man would follow, today, the teachings of the Old Testament he would 
be a criminal. If he would strictly follow the teachings of the New, he 
would be insane. [Heinlein: "When religion makes you act like a fool, it is 
a wrong religion."] 
   Pious ignorance always regards intelligence as a kind of blasphemy. 
   If we are ever judged at all it will be by our actions, and not by our 
beliefs. If Christ was good enough to die for me, he certainly will not be 
bad enough to damn me for honestly failing to believe in his divinity. Think 
of the egotism of a man who believes that an infinite being wants his 
praise! [Brick Pillow: "I will live by what I see and reason, not for a pie-
in-the-sky possibility of a god's existence and His liking me enough to 
confer immortality on me for kissing His ass."] 
   When the theologian governed the world, it was covered with huts and 
hovels for the many, palaces and cathedrals for the few. To nearly all the 
children of men, reading and writing were unknown arts. The day of Science 
dawned, and the luxuries of a century ago are the necessities of today. 
   [During the Dark Ages] Faith reigned with scarcely a rebellious 
subject... She built cathedrals for God and dungeons for men. She peopled 
the clouds with angels and the earth with slaves. 
   The building in which they were assembled took fire and many of these men 
and women perished in the flames. A French priest called this horror an act 
of God. Is it not strange that Christians speak of their God as an assassin? 
   This Deity says, "pray for those that despitefully use you; love your 
enemies, but I will eternally damn mine." It seems to me that even gods 
should practice what they preach. 
   [The Christians] are taught as a part of their creed to despise the 
descendants of the only people with whom God is ever said to have had any 
conversation whatever. 

   Thomas Jefferson referred to the clergy as "mountebanks calling 
themselves the priests of Jesus," and making it their business in life to 
confuse mankind with their abracadabra. He compared them to cuttlefish, 
having the "faculty of shedding darkness... thro' the element in which they 
move, and making it impenetrable to the eye of a pursuing enemy, and there 
they will skulk." 

   Thomas Paine: "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish 
church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Protestant church, 
not by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church." 

   * Religious Roots of Evil 
   Christ, according to the Christian philosophy, is the human ideal. He 
personifies that which men should strive to emulate. Yet, according to the 
Christian doctrine, he died on the cross not for his own sins but for the 
sins of the non-ideal people. In other words, a man of perfect virtue was 
sacrificied for men who are vicious. Here is the essence of the notion of 
sacrificing the ideal to the non-ideal, or virtue to vice. Christians do not 
know how to love their god except by crucifying man. 
   Jesus joined humanity in order to redeem it, and for this redemption to 
take place, he HAD to be crucified, thus taking the sins of humanity onto 
his own shoulders and expiating them. If that is so, then Judas, Pontius 
Pilate and other villains had essential parts to play in this redemption, 
and had they refused those parts, all of humanity would still be laboring 
under original sin. That should make those men heroes, shouldn't it? 

   Saint Basil (AD 360): "The bread which you do not use is the bread of the 
hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is that of one who is naked; 
the shoes you do not wear are those of one who is barefoot; the acts of 
charity you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit." 
   Saint Ambrose (AD 360): "You are not making a gift of your possessions to 
the poor person. You are handing over to him what is his." 
   Thus we see that in the Christian belief, anyone who possesses property 
needed by another must surrender it or be guilty of theft. 
   Pope Paul VI (AD 1973): "True justice recognizes that all men are in 
substance equal. The littler, the poorer, the more suffering, the more 
defenseless, even the lower a man has fallen, the more he deserves to be 
assisted, raised up, cared for, and honored." 
   Marshall Cohen, Professor of Philosophy, CUNY: "Once an adequate social 
minimum has been reached, justice requires the elimination of many economic 
and social inequalities, even if their elimination inhibits a further 
raising of the minimum." 
   Jan Tinbergen, first Nobel laureate in Economics: "A modest first step 
might be a special tax on persons with high academic scores." 
   An Ayn Rand villain: "The men of ability? I do not care what or if they 
are made to suffer. They must be penalized in order to support the 
incompetent. Frankly, I do not care whether this is just or not. I take 
pride in not caring to grant any justice to the able, where mercy to the 
needy is concerned." 
   Ayn Rand's analysis of the above attitude: "What passkey admits you to 
the religiously moral elite? The passkey is lack of value. Whatever the 
value involved, it is your lack of it that gives you a claim upon those who 
don't lack it. To demand rewards for your virtue is selfish and immoral they 
claim; it is your lack of virtue that transforms your demand into a moral 

   From the religious point of view, to say that any man or human phenomenon 
can be perfect is to blaspheme God, for to allow any value or significance 
to humanity is to derogate by just that amount from the majesty, perfection, 
and supreme value of God. Thus, no matter how good a man is, in the eyes of 
a Christian he is not as good as he ought to be. If a man is sinful, the 
fault is his--but if he is virtuous, the credit belongs to God. Similarly, 
if an investor loses his money on dry holes, the loss is his--but if he hits 
a gusher, his profits should rightfully be taken by taxes. 

   Freedom demands choice, but in order to exercise it, people must first 
believe that they deserve to make choices, and they cannot believe this if 
they have been led to think that they are somehow causing others to suffer. 
Many Christians invoke a definition of poverty that is not absolute (lack of 
sustenance), but relative--a lack of sustenance that noticeably contrasts 
with the sufficiency of others. The effect of this definition is to incite 
guilt in those who accept the teachings of Christianity: They believe 
themselves guilty of causing the poverty of others. 
   The truly clever dictator realizes the nature of this guilt and will thus 
rely more on guilt than on bayonets. The most effective propaganda works by 
scolding and accusing. 

   * Attila and the Witch Doctor 
   The consequence of the epistemology of religion is the politics of 
tyranny. If you cannot reach the truth by your own mental powers, but must 
maintain submissive faith in a cognitive authority, then you are not your 
own intellectual master; in such a case you cannot guide your behavior by 
your own judgment either, but must be submissive in action as well. This is 
the reason why, historically, faith and force are always corollaries; each 
requires the other. 
   Nietzsche was correct in stating that Christianity fears, resents, and 
attacks strength. But it is not Nietzsche's notion of strength--brute 
strength, unleashed passion--that Christianity opposes. It is intellectual 
strength, the strength of the sovereign, independent, rational mind that all 
mystics oppose. It is no accident that in this opposition to reason, 
Christianity and Nietzsche are allies. Both the Witch-Doctors and the 
Attilas hate the mind that yields to neither faith nor force. 

   * Basic Principles of Objectivism - Nathaniel Branden - from Lecture #4 
   Let us examine the concept of god and observe some of its striking 
implications for man's consciousness. 
   To begin with, those who profess to believe in god are unable to identify 
or communicate intelligibly what it is that they believe in. What is the 
nature, the identity of god? What is the meaning of the concept? "God is 
'something'" they say, "only I don't know what it is." They claim to believe 
in it nevertheless. No philosophy, theology or religion has ever given a 
rationally intelligible definition or even description of the nature of god, 
or any intelligible content to the concept god. Observe that I said 
"intelligible." A great many descriptions have been offered and a great many 
attributes have been ascribed to god but they are of a kind that represent a 
negation and a mockery of man's consciousness as well as of everything known 
to him in reason about the nature of reality. 
   For instance: 
   "God" claim the mystics, "is infinite." What does it mean to be infinite? 
It means to possess no limits. To possess no specific determinite finite 
number of attributes--no specific particular identifiable qualities. It 
means to be nothing in particular. But to be nothing in particular is not to 
be. To assert that an infinite being exists is to assert that something can 
exist that possesses no identity. To accept the existence of a being who 
possesses no identity one has to reject the Law of Identity. But to reject 
the Law of Identity is to reject the total of one's grasp of reality. Thus 
the concept of an infinite god is the destruction of man's concept of 
existence, of being. 
   "God" claim the mystics, "is pure spirit" or "pure consciousness." What 
do they mean by spirit? Well, in rational terms the concept spirit is 
intelligible and simply means man's consciousness. Consciousness, in 
rational terms, means the faculty of awareness possessed by a specific 
material living entity. But this is not what the mystics mean. By "pure 
spirit" they mean a non-material entity. And by "pure consciousness" they 
mean a faculty without any entity to which it belongs. What is a non-
material entity? The mystics have no identification for it and no 
definition. No concept except the negation of man's concepts. Non-material 
means simply "non-anything you know." Spirit, in the mystics' terms, is not 
something specific or identifiable. Its nature is precisely that it cannot 
be identified. It is not to be grasped by man. It is not merely different 
from matter, it is the metaphysical opposite of matter. It is that which 
matter is not. To grasp it you must reject everything which you do grasp and 
replace it with the concept of "that which is not what I grasp." In terms of 
man's consciousness, to grasp means to understand, to identify. The 
definition of spirit offered by the mystics is in effect "that which is not 
to be identified by man." The same epistemological devastation is performed 
by the mystics' concept of pure consciousness. Man's concept of 
consciousness is a faculty belonging to a specific being who possesses 
specific means of awareness such as sense organs, nerves, a brain--which 
make it possible for him to be aware of reality in the form of sensations, 
perceptions, conceptions. But the mystics' concept of pure consciousness is 
a faculty without an entity. A faculty that exists by itself and is 
conscious without any specific means of awareness. An action without an 
entity that acts. The action of an unlimited entity--unlimited by any 
specific means. This is not only the destruction of the Law of Identity but 
also the acceptance of the one epistemological method that destroys a 
rational consciousness: the dropping of context. Logic, man's means of 
cognition, requires the preservation of the full context of every concept 
man forms. To accept the idea of a pure consciousness, man must drop the 
context, the meaning, the root of consciousness as he knows it and replace 
it with the idea of a consciousness which is "not what I know or mean or 
grasp." Thus the doctrine of "god is pure consciousness" is the destruction 
of the concept of consciousness. 
   "God" claim the mystics, "is omnipotent." What does omnipotent mean? It 
means that god can do anything. Since the actions possible to an entity are 
determined by the nature of the entity that acts, for god to be unrestricted 
in action, he would have to be unrestricted in identity. And this would mean 
that he possesses no identity. If god is omnipotent, not only does he 
possess no identity but neither does anything else possess identity. Think 
about that. God can do anything to any entity and he can make any entity do 
anything, regardless of the entity's nature. Which is tantamount to saying 
that the entity has no nature. Anything goes. Anything is possible. If 
miracles can happen, reality is fluid, arbitrary, unpredictable, unknowable. 
A miracle is the rationally impossible. If god is omnipotent, contradictions 
have to be possible. This raises a number of questions the sole meaning of 
which is a mockery of man's reason. For example: it has been asked "Can god 
tie a knot that he cannot untie?" or "Can god create a mountain that he 
cannot climb over?" The answer given by the mystics is "You must not try to 
understand, you must believe." You must believe that that which is 
inconceivable to you is possible. And that that which you do conceive of, 
such as specific identifiable entities, can be negated and dissolved by 
miracle at any moment. Thus the concept that god is omnipotent destroys the 
Law of Identity and the Law of Causality. 
   "God" claim the mystics, "is omniscient." To be omniscient means to know 
everything: past, present and future. Observe that the attribute of 
omniscience is necessitated by the attribute of omnipotence. In order for 
god to be able to do anything, he would have to know everything. But observe 
also that the attributes of omnipotence and omniscience contradict each 
other. In order for god to know everything, everything would have to be 
fated and predetermined. But if everything were fated and predetermined, it 
could not be changed. And if it could not be changed, this is a limitation 
on god's potency and he is not omnipotent. Here again the mystic will tell 
you "Don't think, don't examine, don't wonder, don't question--believe." The 
concept of omniscience is the secret wish-fullfillment of every mystic. To 
acquire one's knowledge, by a process of struggle and effort, is abhorrent 
to the mystic. But to know everything, to know it instantaneously and 
without effort, to know it causelessly without any specific means of knowing 
it, or acquiring one's knowledge, or holding one's knowledge, this is the 
mystics' passionate dream. The concept of omniscience is a psychological 
monument to the mystics' hatred of effort. 
   Finally, the mystics claim that "god is all-good." This means that he is 
incapable of evil. This poses a number of problems. The first is, if he is 
incapable of evil, how can he be omnipotent? Another problem: consider what 
is meant by the concept "Good." The concept of good or evil can pertain only 
to a being who has the power of choice. Morality applies only to entities 
who have a choice of action. If a robot were constructed for a certain job 
which it would execute flawlessly because it was so designed by a scientist, 
you would not call it a virtuous robot. You would know that the robot has no 
power of choice and that it does only what it HAS to do. But if god is 
incapable of choosing evil, then he is as amoral as that robot. If god has 
no power to choose evil, if by nature he must always and automatically 
choose the good, then he is outside the concept of morality and his actions 
cannot be described as either good or evil. The doctrine of "god is all 
good" creates an enormous problem which the mystics have never been able to 
solve. It is known as the Problem of Evil, and it consists of the question 
"If god is omnipotent and all-good, why does he allow evil to exist in the 
world?" The philosopher Epicurus expressed this problem thus: 
   "Either god would remove evil out of this world and cannot, or he can and 
will not, or he has not the power nor will, or lastly he has both the power 
and will. If he has the will and not the power, this shows weakness, which 
is contrary to the nature of god. If he has the power and not the will, it 
is malignity, and this is no less contrary to his nature. And if he is 
neither able nor willing he is both impotent and malignant and consequently 
cannot be god. And if he is both willing and able, which alone is consonant 
with the nature of god, whence comes evil? Or why does he not prevent it?" 
   Theologians have been painfully aware of this problem and they have 
offered a number of answers. The most common answer is that man's limited 
intellect cannot grasp the mystery. That god in fact works for good 
purposes, but the purposes are of a kind which man's reason cannot grasp. 
So, if we see innocents slaughtered by the millions, and the seemingly evil 
prosper, and if it seems to us that we are witnessing something evil, why it 
is only an illusion--it is not evil. By god's standards, it is good. If you 
see your loved ones being tortured and murdered, do not dare consider it 
evil, do not dare pass any moral judgment; it merely seems evil from your 
limited viewpoint. It serves a good end from god's viewpoint, which you 
cannot grasp and must not question. If god wills it to be so, who are you to 
call it evil or to protest? Thus the doctrine of "god is all good" is the 
destruction of morality. Observe that the mystics' answer to all the 
problems and contradictions in the concept of god is "Your mind cannot 
conceive of it. If your mind cannot conceive of the irrational, the 
contradictory, the senseless, the impossible, it is your mind that must take 
the blame." 
   The ultimate brain-killer is the mystics' claim that god is unknowable. 
Do not confuse the concept of unknowable with the concept of unknown. 
Unknown merely means something not known at present or not known to you. But 
unknowable means that which can never be known. That which by its nature 
cannot be known. The most consistent theory of the mystics, pertaining to 
god as the unknowable, is that of a theological school known as negative 
theology. The negative theologians insist that one cannot possibly say what 
god is because to ascribe any attributes to him is to limit him, and this 
amounts to an impertinence. One must not say that god is finite--that would 
limit him. One must not say that god is infinite--that would limit him also, 
since it forbids him to be finite. One must not say that he is all-good 
because that implies that he cannot be bad. One must not say that he is good 
AND bad, because that forbids the possibility of his being exclusively one. 
One must not say that he is omniscient, because that forbids the possiblilty 
of his being fallible. One must not say that he is fallible because that 
forbids the possiblilty of his being omniscient. 
   Well, here in this theory you can observe the full, open and explicit 
meaning and purpose of the mystics' advocacy of faith in god: the hatred of 
man's mind and the desire to destroy it. To destroy all the cardinal 
concepts of man's reason. To destroy the base of man's consciousness, the 
Law of Identity. And to leave man groveling on his belly, as an abject 
idiot, cringing in terror at a nightmare apparition which he dares not 
identify as either real or unreal, knowable or unknowable. 

   * The Case of God vs. the Case of Reality 
   To a rational person, there are many more reasons for not believing in 
god than for believing. However, there are times when even a rational person 
might ask himself if there might not be some basis for such a belief. 
Probably this query most often occurs when no evident explanation can be 
seen for some phenomenon. In such a situation, religion might be viewed as 
an error concerning causality and the proper means of establishing causal 
connections in reality. Perhaps early man did not develop a science because 
he did not believe that cause and effect could possibly be linked together 
inexorably. Instead he tried to forsee the behavior of a seemingly 
inconstant reality by augury and witchcraft. 
   Much of human energy has gone into the working out of the "proper" 
rituals for control of such a mystical Universe and into the effort of 
maintaining rigid adherence to those rituals. Verbal formulas, uttered by 
specialists, are relied on to bring good luck to a fishing fleet, members of 
which would be uneasy about leaving port without them. If you think this is 
but a vagary of uneducated fishermen, I might point out that the Congress of 
the United States would feel most uneasy about beginning its deliberations 
without a chaplain mimicking biblical English in an attempt to call down 
good judgment upon them from on high--a device that seems very rarely to 
have done the Congress much good. The Canadian Parliament sends forth its 
supplications alternating daily in French and English for a presumably 
bilingual god. 
   The strange declamatory language so often used in religious television, 
radio, and even conversation may well have a cumulative quasi-hypnotic 
effect on people who regularly listen to it for long periods and who rarely 
(because they avoid secular people and media) hear more normal patterns of 
speech. Consider the specific forms of behavior associated with strong 
religious belief of various kinds around the world: prayer, meditation, 
fasting, chanting, self-flagellation, abstinence from pleasure, memorization 
and recitation of sacred texts (often in languages only half-understood by 
the person doing so). It all seems almost calculated to produce and sustain 
an abnormal hypnotic mental state. It's zombification. It's a mental virus 
that takes over a human mind and reprograms it to behave in ways which will 
maintain the virus and propagate it to other minds. 
   A religion is a system of beliefs and practices resting on the assumption 
that events within the world are subject to some supernatural power or 
powers, such that human needs, either physical or psychological, can be 
satisfied by man's entering into relations with such powers; the 
supernatural powers in question are called supernatural by virtue of the 
fact that they can be known, related to, or influenced primarily by means 
other than those of reason or sense experience. The fundamental 
characteristic of all religions is this belief in a supernatural power which 
can control everyday events. And a fundamental practice characteristic of 
all religions is the attempt to influence this power. 
   But the psychological consequences of this belief are all-pervasive and 
   Christianity, and most other religions, teach that god, by whatever name 
He is called, is the father of us all. This places man in the role of a 
child who is at the mercy of another's command and in whose will lies the 
final verdict upon which all of man's actions must be based. This will 
covers a multitude of irresponsible actions on the part of man. Man is 
assigned no responsibility except to believe and obey. If he does not 
succeed in life, it was not his fault; it was god's will that he should not. 
God has a purpose for everything and everyone, and if we cannot see what 
that purpose is, it does not matter because god knows. The Bible teaches 
"all things work together for the good of those who love God." 
   We are told "take no thought for tomorrow, for sufficient unto the day is 
the evil thereof." This pearl of wisdom was given in the famous Sermon on 
The Mount by Jesus to his followers. In this same sermon they were told that 
God would provide whatever they needed in the way of food and clothing just 
as he fed and clothed the birds of the air and the beasts of the field. 
Religion today teaches the same thing: God will provide, just as long as one 
serves Him. So what if you do not get to make the decisions, you will be 
taken care of. Thus religion replaces critical thinking with fantasy and 
wish fulfillment. 
   To a religious person, the concept of god explains everything. Man has no 
need to ask "Why?" His mind is not needed, only his faith. His faith gives 
him the security of the firm conviction that SOMEONE knows what is going on, 
even if he does not. It gives him the hope that SOMEHOW all will turn out 
well. And if he is mugged every time he steps out of his door he has the 
assurance that god will destroy the evil-doers and reward him for his 
   This sort of faith in an all-knowing god and in a righteous judgment is a 
great comfort to the believer. It relieves him of responsibility for just 
about everything. It gives him a sense of worth as being part of "God's 
Great Plan." AND, it promises him immortality!! Now that is a pretty good 
argument for investing in something that really does not cost very much. A 
little faith, professed now and then, and one can go on his merry way 
without a worry in the world. But what does it REALLY cost? This is where 
the rational, reality-oriented man finds his reasons for NOT believing in 
   Just as a child needs its parents, so does an immature adult need his 
god. Freedom is always hard to bear, and the weight of self-responsibility 
can only be carried after a certain level of intellectual (philosophical) 
sophistication has been attained. An adult person is one who has reached the 
point of maturity in his life where he is able to care for himself. He has 
no need, nor wish, for anyone else to take care of him. For this person, the 
religious obligation to defer to a will outside himself would preclude his 
believing in god. This type of person is one who uses his mind to reason and 
find out the facts in reality that account for phenomena. The exercise of 
his reason teaches him that blind faith will never net him a thing except 
the frustration of his hopes (just ask any man who has ever attempted to 
adjust a carburetor), and that learning to deal correctly with reality will 
help him realize his aspirations. He says, with Robert Ingersoll, "We need 
the religion of the real, the faith that rests on fact." The cost of faith 
in god's omniscience is the abdication of one's own ability to reason and to 
   The test of an invalid concept is the fact that it cannot be reduced to 
the perceptual level. This means that nothing in reality gives rise to the 
concept. The test is not that the referent is unobservable. Science 
regularly refers to unobservables, such as atoms, genes, X rays. But one can 
identify the evidence supporting scientific concepts. One can define the 
sequence of steps by which men were led from observations to a series of 
conclusions, which were then integrated into new concepts to designate 
hitherto unknown entities. In regard to the language of religion, by 
contrast, this is precisely what cannot be done. The referents of "god," 
"angel," "devil" are not merely unobservable. The terms cannot be connected 
by any process to the perceptual level; they are nonreducible by their 
   Once the mind's ability to filter out nutty ideas has been dismantled for 
the sake of irrational religious dogma, there is nothing to stop any other 
nutty idea the person runs into from wandering in and taking up residence. 
   Believing that there is a god introduces an error to your intellectual 
frame of reference. Sooner or later the results of that error will make 
themselves felt. 
   The believer has no real control over his life, since everything he does 
is governed by "God's will." He has no answer for what happens to him except 
that "it must be part of the Divine Plan." The only goal of his life is to 
reach the end of it as obediently as he can and hope for his reward in 
heaven. He has no real knowledge that this reward exists, only his blind 
faith in religion's promise. He drags through existence with the hope that 
someone else has the ability to know, and the fear that they may NOT know or 
that he may not measure up in the end. 
   The automonous individual, on the other hand, knows that he himself has 
control over his own life. He has ascertained the facts of reality by the 
use of his ability to reason and has arranged his life to be in accord with 
them. He seeks the explanations for everything that happens to him in the 
knowledge of cause and effect. The goal of his life is his own happiness 
here on earth, and he does not look for or expect unearned rewards. This 
individual has the knowledge that rewards do indeed exist and that they are 
obtained by his own efforts. His life is lived in the knowledge of his 
mortality, without fear, and with the confidence that he has the ability to 
be happy while he lives. It is of no importance to him whether god exists or 
not, HE exists, and it is important to him to be happy while he exists. 
   The cost of relying on the promise of heaven's rewards is the sacrifice 
of confidence in one's own ability to live a happy life on earth. 
   What about the explanations for those things we can't explain? The 
believer has no quandary in this regard, to him, the mystery of god explains 
everything. He has no need to ask why, he only needs to accept what he does 
not understand as part of the mystery. He is told that there are some things 
he is not supposed to understand. 
   A rational man knows that there are some things he does not yet have an 
answer for, but he also knows that he is capable of seeking an answer. His 
mind is the tool he finds joy in using to solve the mysteries of the 
universe he lives in. He is not willing to accept a lack of understanding as 
a final judgment on his ability to understand. 
   His own worth as a human being is the biggest reason a rational man finds 
for NOT believing in god. A being who has discovered the glory of his own 
nature cannot regard himself as a chunk of depravity whose duty is self-
abasing obedience to supernatural commandments. 
   Robert Ingersoll expressed the attitude of the man of reason very well: 
"Astrology was displaced by astromony. Alchemy and black art gave way to 
chemistry. Science is destined to take the place of religion. In my 
judgment, the religion of the future will be reason."  

   * God as Big Daddy 
   "God" is not a concept. At best, one could say it is a concept in the 
sense in which a dramatist uses concepts to create a character. It is an 
abstract of actual characteristics of man combined with the projection of 
impossible, irrational characteristics which do not arise from reality--such 
as omnipotence and omniscience. God: Somewhere, in an inaccessible place, 
there is an old man in a nightshirt who knows everything and is all powerful 
and created everything and rewards and punishes... and can be bribed. 
   This is only a malignant practical joker with the morals of a terrorist. 
   Aren't malaria, cholera, syphilis, yellow fever, and bubonic plague 
merely the punishments that this infinitely wise, compassionate, and 
forgiving Father created to inflict upon His children? The victims that He 
hounds the most gleefully are always the poor, the hungry, the defenseless. 
What kind of a fiend would we brand any human father who treated his 
children like that? 
   The Sun is in a backwater arm of an absolutely humdrum galaxy. Why should 
I-Am-That-I-Am hang out around here? There must be more pressing things for 
him to do. All this intervention (in the form of miracles) speaks of 
incompetence. If god was clever enough to create the Universe, why wasn't He 
clever enough to create it in such a way that life could evolve naturally 
without miraculously improbable events? Those who claim that the evolution 
of life is prohibitively improbable without Divine intervention are saying 
in effect that god was a bungler who couldn't get it right the first time 
and who, after ten billion years of tinkering, STILL hasn't got it right! If 
god is omnipotent and omniscient, why didn't he start the universe in the 
first place so it would come out the way he wants? Why's he continually 
tinkering, repairing and complaining? No, there's one thing the Bible makes 
clear: God is a sloppy mentufacturer. He's not good at design and he's not 
good at implementation. He'd be out of business, if there were any 

   * Religion and Insanity 
   Apparently many schizophrenics are drawn to charismatic/fundamentalist 
Christian sects wherein "hearing voices" is normal and accepted. People with 
mental illness are often treated with generosity and kindness in 
Fundamentalist churches. This is worth remembering when news articles 
appear, as they sometimes do, describing how some religious fanatic just 
committed some barbaric atrocity on the advice of "God" or "Jesus." Usually 
the mental illness preceded the religion, but the influence of exploitative 
preachers and/or many of the other trappings of fundamentalist Christianity 
aggravated the pre-existing illness to sociopathic derangement. 
   The great trouble with religion--ANY religion--is that a religionist, 
having accepted certain propositions by faith, cannot thereafter judge the 
consequences of those propositions by evidence. Thus he can easily come to 
commit the most heinous atrocities in good conscience. 
   THE WAR-PRAYER by Mark Twain: 
   "O Lord, our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with 
our shells;... help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of 
fire; ... help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to 
wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and 
thirst; ... We ask it, in the spirit of love." 

   Beyond the region of the Probable is the Possible, and beyond the 
Possible is the Impossible, and beyond the Impossible are the religions of 
this world. The mystical ideas in which they trust are fictions, barren in 
their yield of results, powerless in prediction, and devoid of useful 
application. In a word, they are worthless. 
   Maybe I cannot see the naked Face of god--but my eyesight is good enough 
to detect fradulent baloney. All magical and ritual practices are hopelessly 
inappropriate to the preservation and increase of life. My cat would turn up 
his tail at them. To regard them as mistaken attempts to control nature, as 
a result of wrong synapses or "crossed wires" in the brain, leaves the most 
rational of animals too deep in the slough of error. If a savage in his 
ignorance of physics tries to make a mountain open its caverns by dancing 
around it, we must admit with shame that no rat in a psychologist's maze 
would try such patently ineffectual methods of opening a door. Nor should 
such behavior be carried on in the face of failure for thousands of years; 
even rats learn more quickly than that. 

   In conclusion I can only say this: I hope, for His sake, that God does 
not exist. Because if He does, He has one hell of a lot to answer for! 

   On to Chapter 10
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