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I See No God Up Here

Entry 1543, on 2013-06-17 at 19:27:22 (Rating 4, Religion)

I love quotes from famous people. I don't pretend for an instant that a quote made by anyone - no matter how brilliant they were - should be given unquestioning acceptance, but they are often an interesting starting point for discussion of a subject and they do often contain a significant element of truth.

I also realise that many quotes attributed to certain people are, in fact, misattributed and are often re-worded or simplified. This may be the case with some of the quotes here but I present them anyway, as I said above, as a starting point.

I found these quotes when I was sorting through some old email recently (I like to do a tidy up of my mailboxes occasionally in a vain attempt to keep the hundreds of thousands of message I have under control). I sent them to a friend who is a fundy (fundamentalist Christian) who dared to send me a quote which he thought supported his views. Needless to say, these quotes are basically contrary to those views.

Anyway, here they are...

Quote: "Religion is all bunk." and "I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious ideas of heaven and hell, or of a God." - Thomas Edison

Discussion: Edison was a brilliant inventor and a deist. Deism is sort of like an insipid form of religion so why would Edison had said this? I guess he was referring more to the established, organised religions with their supernatural dogma and unsupported beliefs. Deists claim to believe in a god (usually of a rather poorly specified form) because of logic and evidence rather than faith. It was popular after the Enlightenment and I suspect it was a way for people to abandon Christianity, which had clearly been shown to be untrue by scientific advances, without abandoning religion completely.

Needless to say, I would include deism in the category of religion and is therefore also "bunk". However I would obviously be more open to arguments based on logic which lead to a conclusion of a god existing rather than pure faith claims (which are basically useless).

Quote: "Surely you do not believe in the gods. What's your argument? Where's your proof?" - Aristophanes

Discussion: Doubt of religious claims has been alive and well for thousands of years apparently. This one is from good old Aristophanes. He was a real trouble-maker. Often known as the father of comedy and a person with a wicked wit, especially when applied to political and religious satire!

Quote: "Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power." - Eric Hoffer, and "It is hard to free fools from the chains they revere." - Voltaire

Discussion: Faith, contrary to what many believers would try to make us believe, is a terrible thing. Let's have a look at some synonyms for faith in the Oxford dictionary: "church, sect, denomination, persuasion, religious persuasion, religious belief, belief, code of belief, ideology, creed, teaching, dogma, doctrine." Do most of those words have a positive feeling to them? I don't think so. When we use words like ideology, dogma, and doctrine in other contexts they tend to have negative connotations. I think the same thing should apply in the area of religion.

Many people cannot appreciate their own faults when viewed from within the belief system they have created for themselves. Ironically many religious people look at belief systems which are different from their own and scoff at how ridiculous they are, yet they fail to see exactly the same problems within their own beliefs.

And yes, I know many believers try to use the obvious (and all too easy) excuse and say atheists also exist within a belief system. Well sorry, but you're wrong. Atheism is specifically the rejection of a belief system related to god. Thats what the "a-" part of atheism means!

A further quote on faith: "Faith is to the Christian what sand is to the ostrich." - Anon

Analysis: Exactly. This quote is anonymous but it is too good to ignore. Faith is just an excuse for ignorance, fantasy, and intransigence. When the facts are revealed, when every argument has been shown to be false, and when all else fails, there is always the good old "burying your head in the sand and invoking faith" defence. That cannot be defeated because basically it's the equivalent of saying "I know I'm wrong but I don't care. I have faith, aren't I wonderful?" Er, no. You're an idiot.

Quote: "If salvation is the cure then atheism is the prevention." - Dan Barker, and "The Christian resolve to find the world evil and ugly, has made the world evil and ugly." – Friedrich Nietzsche

Analysis: Salvation has always seemed both an odd and very likely a highly corrupt and cynical part of Christian dogma. What is salvation? Being saved, apparently. But from what? From ourselves apparently. Well I don't really feel the need to be saved from myself. If God made me with some deficiencies (as his followers see it) then why rely on that same entity to fix the problem?

The whole idea of salvation is quite evil, in fact. It's a clear attempt to victimise the believers and convince them that they are evil and fully deserve any terrible fate which awaits then, unless they follow a particular church of course... Oh, and did we mention the church requires both total subservience, and a certain monetary contribution from you? It's what God wants, you understand.

So the quote which says that atheism is the way to prevent the need for the "cure" of salvation is quite right. Atheists aren't subject to this self-serving creation of guilt like Christians are, so we just don't need that generous offer of salvation.

And in many ways the Christian worldview is evil and ugly as Nietzsche says. Christianity is a cult based on sacrifice according to what they say. John 3:16 (see even I know that passage) must be the most commonly quoted but has anyone really analysed it's deeper meaning? Rather than a loving contribution to the good of humankind as the believers would suggest it's really a primitive and pointless sacrifice of nothing for nothing.

Final quote: "Reason should be destroyed in all Christians.", and "Reason is the Devil's greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil's appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom ... Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism... She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets." - Martin Luther

Final analysis: One of the leading figures in the history of the Christian religion, and the person who started the Protestant Reformation, largely because of perceived corruption in the existing church, thought that reason was not a good thing for Christianity. Why not? There doesn't seem to be any good reason that I can think of that could explain why a religion, assuming it is a true religion, should not be accessible through reason.

And what about that second quote! Wow, settle down Marty. Sounds like he might have a few psychological issues hidden away there. People don't tend to rant in that way otherwise.

OK, I can't resist just one more: "I see no God up here." - Yuri Gagarin. Yeah, well that's what you get no matter where you look!


Comment 1 (3575) by OJB on 2013-06-17 at 19:42:29:

As I said, quotes don't mean anything in themselves and shouldn't be taken too seriously. As an example, the final quote, from Gagarin, was almost certainly never made by him, although he in fact did see no god "up there". That makes no difference to the conclusion however: that no one ever does see a god, no matter where they look.


Comment 2 (4660) by Dinesh Kanagaratnam on 2017-02-24 at 10:24:14:

Great post, glad it is still up. I think if Christrians really, truly believed their bible then they would be standing on a street corner with a sign reading “GOD HATES FAGS.” That the relatively few people who closely follow their holy book are widely regarded as lunatics even by the so-called “faithful” is highly revealing.


Comment 3 (4661) by OJB on 2017-02-24 at 10:28:33:

Yeah, the problem is the holy books are written by many different (mostly unknown) authors and express a wide range of views, many of which are contradictory. This means that you can get whatever you want from a holy book. If you want to be peaceful you can find that, if you want to be bigoted, hateful, or violent you can find that too. Holy books are given too much credibility because they are supposed to be the "word of god" but of course, they aren't. That's what can make religion dangerous.


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