Good Reading


The writings of Robert G. Ingersoll

Robert G. Ingersoll, the son of a preacher, was an American politician, who lived from 1833 to 1899 and was very outspoken in his views on the ills of religion.




Excerpt from “Superstition”

Superstition is, always has been, and forever will be, the enemy of liberty.

Superstition created all the gods and angels, all the devils and ghosts, all the witches, demons and goblins, gave us all the augurs, soothsayers and prophets, filled the heavens with signs and wonders, broke the chain of cause and effect, and wrote the history of man in miracles and lies.

Superstition made all the popes, cardinals, bishops and priests, all the monks and nuns, the begging friars and the filthy saints, all the preachers and exhorters, all the "called" and "set apart."

Superstition made men fall upon their knees before beasts and stones, caused them to worship snakes and trees and insane phantoms of the air, beguiled them of their gold and toil, and made them shed their children's blood and give their babes to flames.

Superstition built the cathedrals and temples, all the altars, mosques and churches, filled the world with amulets and charms, with images and idols, with sacred bones and holy hairs, with martyrs' blood and rags, with bits of wood that frighten devils from the breasts of men.

Superstition invented and used the instruments of torture, flayed men and women alive, loaded millions with chains and destroyed hundreds of thousands with fire.

Superstition mistook insanity for inspiration and the ravings of maniacs for prophesy, for the wisdom of God.

Superstition imprisoned the virtuous, tortured the thoughtful, killed the heroic, put chains on the body, manacles on the brain, and utterly destroyed the liberty of speech.

Superstition gave us all the prayers and ceremonies; taught all the kneelings, genuflections and prostrations; taught men to hate themselves, to despise pleasure, to scar their flesh, to grovel in the dust, to desert their wives and children, to shun their fellow-men, and to spend their lives in useless pain and prayer.

Superstition taught that human love is degrading, low and vile; taught that monks are purer than fathers, that nuns are holier than mothers, that faith is superior to fact, that credulity leads to heaven, that doubt is the road to hell, that belief is better than knowledge, and that to ask for evidence is to insult God.

Superstition is, always has been, and forever will be, the foe of progress, the enemy of education and the assassin of freedom. It sacrifices the known to the unknown, the present to the future, this actual world to the shadowy next. It has given us a selfish heaven, and a hell of infinite revenge; it has filled the world with hatred, war and crime, with the malice of meekness and the arrogance of humility.

Superstition is the only enemy of science in all the world.

Follow this link for more of his outstanding works



The writings of Christopher Hitchens


Christopher Hitchens was a journalist, writer and outspoken critic of religion.  His formidable level of education and wit saw him demolish countless religious opponents in debates.  An outstanding voice of reason in a time when nonsense looms on the horizon.  I personally believe he was the best speaker of our time.

Quotes

Mockery of religion is one of the most essential things... one of the beginnings of human emancipation is the ability to laugh at authority.

Atheists have always argued that this world is all that we have, and that our duty is to one another to make the very most and best of it.

What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.

Religious exhortation and telling people, telling children, that if they don’t do the right thing, they’ll go to terrifying punishments or unbelievable rewards, that’s making a living out of lying to children. That’s what the priesthood do. And if all they did was lie to the children, it would be bad enough. But they rape them and torture them and then hope we’ll call it ‘abuse’.

People are frightened of death, and the central lie of all religion is that there’s a cure for this and an exception we’ve made in your own case: an eternal life offered if you make the right propitiations and the right abjections. Well, I’m sorry. I think that it's the height of immorality to lie to people like that.

Name me an ethical statement made or an action performed by a believer that could not have been made or performed by a non-believer

Time spent arguing with the faithful is, oddly enough, almost never wasted.

Only a humorless tyrant could want a perpetual chanting of praises that, one has no choice but to assume, would be the innate virtues and splendors furnished him by his creator, infinite regression, drowned in praise!

Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the 'transcendent' and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don't be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.


Excerpts from "God Is Not Great: How Religion Posions Everything"
Why, if God was the creator of all things, were we supposed to "praise" him for what came naturally?

If Jesus could heal a blind person he happened to meet, then why not heal blindness?

Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did.

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

Violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children: organized religion ought to have a great deal on its conscience.

Religion comes from the period of human prehistory where nobody — not even the mighty Democritus who concluded that all matter was made from atoms — had the smallest idea of what was going on. It comes from the bawling and fearful infancy of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge. Today the least educated of my children knows much more about the natural order than any of the founders of religion.

The brilliant Schiller was wrong in his Joan of Arc when he said "against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain." It is actually by means of the gods that we make our stupidity and gullibility into something ineffable.

Though it is true we are the highest and smartest animals, ospreys have eyes we have calculated to be sixty times more powerful and sophisticated than our own and that blindness, often caused by microscopic parasites that are themselves miracles of ingenuity, is one of the oldest and most tragic disorders known to man. And why award the superior eye (or in the case of cat or bat, also the ear) to the inferior species.

Is it too modern to notice that there is nothing about rape, nothing about the protection of children from cruelty, and nothing about genocide? Or is it exactingly "in context" to notice that some of these very offenses are about to be positively recommended.

Islam is at once the most and the least interesting of the world's monotheisms. It builds upon its primitive Jewish and Christian predecessors, selecting a chunk here and a shard there, and thus if these fall, it partly falls also.

Like many but not all of Islam’s principal sites, Mecca is closed to unbelievers, which somewhat contradicts its claim to universality.

The museums of medieval Europe, from Holland to Tuscany, are crammed with instruments and devices upon which the holy men labored devoutly, in order to see how long they could keep someone alive while being roasted. It is not needful to go into further details, but there were also religious books of instruction in this art, and guides for the detection of heresy by pain.

Nothing proves the man-made character of religion as obviously as the sick mind that designed hell, unless it is the sorely limited mind that has failed to describe heaven — except as a place of either worldly comfort, eternal tedium, or continual relish in the torture of others.

If religious instruction were not allowed until the child had attained the age of reason, we would be living in a quite different world.

What is a totalitarian system if not one where the abject glorification of the perfect leader is matched by the surrender of all privacy and individuality, especially in matters sexual, and in denunciation and punishment — "for their own good" — of those who transgress?

The idea that a group of people — whether defined as a nation or as a religion — could be condemned for all time and without the possibility of an appeal was (and is) essentially a totalitarian one.

Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.

Religion has run out of justifications.