Invisible Pink Unicorns...


It is said: give a man a fish and he will eat for a day;
Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime;
Give a man religion - and he will die praying for a fish.


   My name is George Egriselashvili, although I'm better known as Draco, Sci-Fi writer. This site is not an "official" web page of Georgian Atheists - there isn't one. Religious obscurantism in my country grows every day, without any hope of people's common sense taking over. And that's the main reason of this site's existence.


   I'm not expecting to change anything; this task is way too complicated and filled with hate, fear and foolishness. But I just can't take it anymore. I can't see people willingly destroying their minds, their pride and everything that differs them from animals. I'm ashamed.


The official symbol of atheism is called "Invisible Pink Unicorn"- a mystical creature designed to ridicule theistic beliefs, being at the same time pink AND invisible. In less poisoned countries, this, probably, sounds humorous. But here, in Georgia, the Unicorn of Atheism is, actually, becoming invisible. My work gives me an opportunity to meet a lot of people, talk to hundreds of them, and I have almost forgotten already, when (or if...) there was a single free-minded person whom I've met...


It drives me crazy. What happens, if some viral illness, for example the flu, becomes so common, that the majority of people become infected? Sooner or later, unfortunately, these ill persons would start to see their condition as normal - just because everyone else around them feels the same. And when an actual medic will start telling them about infection, their answer would be well predictable.


Religion is a mental illness, no different from hundreds of known phobias and mental disorders. It has been experimentally proven that people infected with "religiosity" lose the ability to adequately perceive reality, become mortally dangerous to others, and the number of convolutions in their cerebral cortex decreases. In my years of struggle to open the eyes of "believers", I have never received a satisfactory counter-argument against the striking similarity between a religious person and a drug addict. Karl Marx once wrote:Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.You can think whatever you want about Karl Marx (by the way, officially recognized as the greatest philosopher of the millennium) but in this matter he is absolutely right.







By Adam Bing

A Large compilation of Christian Crimes since its advent, with dates.


As soon as Christianity became legal in the Roman Empire by imperial edict (315), more and more pagan temples were destroyed by Christian mob. Pagan priests were killed. Between 315 and 6th century thousands of pagan believers were slain. Examples of destroyed Temples: the Sanctuary of Aesculap in Aegaea, the Temple of Aphrodite in Golgatha, Aphaka in Lebanon, the Heliopolis. Christian priests such as Mark of Arethusa or Cyrill of Heliopolis were famous as "temple destroyer." [DA468]

Pagan services became punishable by death in 356. [DA468]

Christian Emperor Theodosius (408-450) even had children executed, because they had been playing with remains of pagan statues. [DA469]

According to Christian chroniclers he “followed meticulously all Christian teachings…” In 6th century pagans were declared void of all rights. In the early fourth century the philosopher Sopatros was executed on demand of Christian authorities. [DA466]

The world famous female philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria was torn to pieces with glass fragments by a hysterical Christian mob led by a Christian minister named Peter, in a church, in 415. [DO19-25]

Emperor Karl (Charlemagne) in 782 had 4500 Saxons, unwilling to convert to Christianity, beheaded. [DO30]

Peasants of Steding (Germany) unwilling to pay suffocating church taxes: between 5,000 and 11,000 men, women and children slain 5/27/1234 near Altenesch/Germany. [WW223]

15th century Poland: 1019 churches and 17987 villages plundered by Knights of the Order. Number of victims unknown. [DO30]

16th and 17th century Ireland. English troops "pacified and civilized" Ireland, where only Gaelic "wild Irish", "unreasonable beasts lived without any knowledge of God or good manners, in common of their goods, cattle, women, children and every other thing." One of the more successful soldiers, a certain Humphrey Gilbert, half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh, ordered that "the heddes of all those (of what sort soever thei were) which were killed in the daie, should be cutte off from their bodies … and should bee laied on the ground by eche side of the waie”, which effort to civilize the Irish indeed caused “greate terror to the people when thei sawe the heddes of their dedde fathers, brothers, children, kinsfolke, and freinds on the grounde". Tens of thousands of Gaelic Irish fell victim to the carnage. [SH99, 225]

First Crusade: 1095 on command of pope Urban II. [WW11-41]

Semlin/Hungary 6/24/96 thousand slain. Wieselburg/Hungary 6/12/96 thousand. [WW23]

9/9/96-9/26/96 Nikaia, Xerigordon (then Turkish), thousands respectively. [WW25-27]

Until January 1098 a total of 40 capital cities and 200 castles conquered (number of slain unknown) [WW30]

After 6/3/98 Antiochia (then Turkish) conquered, between 10,000 and 60,000 slain. 6/28/98 100,000 Turks (incl. women and children) killed. [WW32-35]

Here the Christians "did no other harm to the women found in [the enemy's] tents - save that they ran their lances through their bellies," according to Christian chronicler Fulcher of Chartres. [EC60]

Marra (Maraat an-numan) 12/11/98 thousands killed. Because of the subsequent famine "the already stinking corpses of the enemies were eaten by the Christians" said chronicler Albert Aquensis. [WW36]

Jerusalem conquered 7/15/1099 more than 60,000 victims (Jewish, Muslim, men, women, children). [WW37-40]

In the words of one witness: "there [in front of Solomon's temple] was such a carnage that our people were wading ankle-deep in the blood of our foes", and after that "happily and crying for joy our people marched to our Saviour's tomb, to honor it and to pay off our debt of gratitude." The Archbishop of Tire, eye-witness, wrote: “It was impossible to look upon the vast numbers of the slain without horror; everywhere lay fragments of human bodies, and the very ground was covered with the blood of the slain. It was not alone the spectacle of headless bodies and mutilated limbs strewn in all directions that roused the horror of all who looked upon them. Still more dreadful was it to gaze upon the victors themselves, dripping with blood from head to foot, an ominous sight which brought terror to all who met them. It is reported that within the Temple enclosure alone about ten thousand infidels perished." [TG79]

Christian chronicler Eckehard of Aura noted that "even the following summer in all of Palestine the air was polluted by the stench of decomposition". One million victims of the first crusade alone. [WW41]

Battle of Askalon, 8/12/1099. 200,000 heathens slaughtered "in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ". [WW45]

Fourth crusade: 4/12/1204 Constantinople sacked, number of victims unknown, numerous thousands, many of them Christian. [WW141-148]

Rest of Crusades in less detail: until the fall of Akkon 1291 probably 20 million victims (in the Holy land and Arab/Turkish areas alone). [WW224]

Already in 385 CE the first Christians, the Spanish Priscillianus and six followers, were beheaded for heresy in Trier/Germany [DO26]

Manichaean heresy: a crypto-Christian sect decent enough to practice birth control (and thus not as irresponsible as faithful Catholics) was exterminated in huge campaigns all over the Roman empire between 372 CE and 444 CE Numerous thousands of victims. [NC]

Albigensians: the first Crusade intended to slay other Christians. [DO29]

The Albigensians (Cathars) viewed themselves as good Christians, but would not accept the Roman Catholic rule, and taxes, and prohibition of birth control. [NC]

Begin of violence: on command of pope Innocent III (the greatest single mass murderer prior to the Nazi era) in 1209. Bezi�rs (today France) 7/22/1209 destroyed, all the inhabitants were slaughtered. Number of victims (including Catholics refusing to turn over their heretic neighbors and friends) estimated between 20,000-70,000. [WW179-181]

Carcassonne 8/15/1209, thousands slain. Other cities followed. [WW181]

Subsequent 20 years of war until nearly all Cathars (probably half the population of the Languedoc, today southern France) were exterminated. [WW183]

After the war ended (1229) the Inquisition was founded 1232 to search and destroy surviving/hiding heretics. Last Cathars burned at the stake 1324. [WW183]

Estimated one million victims (Cathar heresy alone), [WW183]

Other heresies: Waldensians, Paulikians, Runcarians, Josephites, and many others. Most of these sects exterminated, (I believe some Waldensians live today, yet they had to endure 600 years of persecution) I estimate at least one hundred thousand victims (including the Spanish inquisition but excluding victims in the New World). Spanish Inquisitor Torquemada, a former Dominican friar, was allegedly responsible for 10,220 burnings. [DO28]

John Huss, a critic of papal infallibility and indulgences, was burned at the stake in 1415. [LI475-522]

Michael Sattler, leader of a baptist community, was burned at the stake in Rottenburg, Germany, May 20, 1527. A few days later his wife and other follwers were also executed. [KM]

University professor B.Hubmaier burned at the stake 1538 in Vienna. [DO59]

Giordano Bruno, Dominican monk, after having been incarcerated for seven years, was burned at the stake for heresy on the Campo dei Fiori (Rome) on 2/17/1600. Thomas Aikenhead, a twenty-year-old scottish student of Edinburgh University, was hanged for atheism and blasphemy. From the beginning of Christianity to 1484 probably more than several thousand. In the era of witch hunting (1484-1750) according to modern scholars several hundred thousand (about 80% female) burned at the stake or hanged. [WV]

15th century: Crusades against Hussites, thousands of slain. [DO30]

1538 pope Paul III declared Crusade against apostate England and all English as slaves of Church (fortunately had not power to go into action). [DO31]

1568 Spanish Inquisition Tribunal ordered extermination of 3 million rebels in (then Spanish) Netherlands. [DO31]

Between 5000 and 6000 Protestants were drowned by Spanish Catholic Troops, "a disaster the burghers of Emden first realized when several thousand broad-brimmed Dutch hats floated by." [SH216]

1572 In France about 20,000 Huguenots were killed on command of pope Pius V. Until 17th century 200,000 flee. [DO31]

17th century: Catholics slay Gaspard de Coligny, a Protestant leader. After murdering him, the Catholic mob mutilated his body, “cutting off his head, his hands, and his genitals… and then dumped him into the river […but] then, deciding that it was not worthy of being food for the fish, they hauled it out again [… and] dragged what was left … to the gallows of Montfaulcon, 'to be meat and carrion for maggots and crows'.” [SH191]

17th century: Catholics sack the city of Magdeburg/Germany: roughly 30,000 Protestants were slain. "In a single church fifty women were found beheaded," reported poet Friedrich Schiller, "and infants still sucking the breasts of their lifeless mothers."[SH191]

17th century 30 years' war (Catholic vs. Protestant): at least 40% of population decimated, mostly in Germany. [DO31-32]

Already in the 4th and 5th centuries synagogues were burned by Christians.Number of Jews slain unknown. In the middle of the fourth century the first synagogue was destroyed on command of bishop Innocentius of Dertona in Northern Italy. The first synagogue known to have been burned down was near the river Euphrat, on command of the bishop of Kallinikon in the year 388. [DA450]

694 17. Council of Toledo: Jews were enslaved, their property confiscated, and their children forcibly baptized. [DA454]

1010 The Bishop of Limoges (France) had the cities' Jews, who would not convert to Christianity, expelled or killed. [DA453]

1096 First Crusade: Thousands of Jews slaughtered, maybe 12.000 total. Places: Worms 5/18/1096, Mainz 5/27/1096 (1100 persons), Cologne, Neuss, Altenahr, Wevelinghoven, Xanten, Moers, Dortmund, Kerpen, Trier, Metz, Regensburg, Prag and others (All locations Germany except Metz/France, Prag/Czech) [EJ]

1147 Second Crusade: Several hundred Jews were slain in Ham, Sully, Carentan, and Rameru (all locations in France). [WW57]

1189/90 Third Crusade: English Jewish communities sacked. [DO40]

1235, Fulda/Germany: 34 Jewish men and women slain. [DO41]

1257, 1267: Jewish communities of London, Canterbury, Northampton, Lincoln, Cambridge, and others exterminated. [DO41]

1290 Bohemia (Poland) allegedly 10,000 Jews killed. [DO41]

1337 Starting in Deggendorf/Germany a Jew-killing craze reaches 51 towns in Bavaria, Austria, Poland. [DO41]

1348 All Jews of Basel/Switzerland and Strasbourg/France (two thousand) burned. [DO41]

1349 In more than 350 towns in Germany all Jews murdered, mostly burned alive (in this one year more Jews were killed than Christians in 200 years of ancient Roman persecution of Christians). [DO42]

1389 In Prag 3,000 Jews were slaughtered. [DO42]

1391 Seville's Jews killed (Archbishop Martinez leading). 4,000 were slain, 25,000 sold as slaves. [DA454] Their identification was made easy by the brightly colored "badges of shame" that all Jews above the age of ten had been forced to wear.

1492 In the year Columbus set sail to conquer a New World, more than 150,000 Jews were expelled from Spain, many died on their way: 6/30/1492. [MM470-476]

1648 Chmielnitzki massacres: In Poland about 200,000 Jews were slain. [DO43]

Beginning with Columbus (a former slave trader and would-be Holy Crusader) the conquest of the New World began, as usual understood as a means to propagate Christianity. Within hours of landfall on the first inhabited island he encountered in the Caribbean, Columbus seized and carried off six native people who, he said, “ought to be good servants … [and] would easily be made Christians, because it seemed to me that they belonged to no religion." [SH200]

While Columbus described the Indians as "idolators" and "slaves, as many as [the Crown] shall order," his pal Michele de Cuneo, Italian nobleman, referred to the natives as "beasts" because "they eat when they are hungry, » and made love «openly whenever they feel like it.» [SH204-205]

On every island he set foot on, Columbus planted a cross, "making the declarations that are required" - the requerimiento - to claim the ownership for his Catholic patrons in Spain. And "nobody objected." If the Indians refused or delayed their acceptance (or understanding), the requerimiento continued: “I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter in your country and shall make war against you … and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church … and shall do you all mischief that we can, as to vassals who do not obey and refuse to receive their lord and resist and contradict him.” [SH66]

Likewise in the words of John Winthrop, first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony: “justifieinge the undertakeres of the intended Plantation in New England … to carry the Gospell into those parts of the world, … and to raise a Bulworke against the kingdome of the Ante -Christ." [SH235]

In average two thirds of the native population were killed by colonist-imported smallpox before violence began. This was a great sign of "the marvelous goodness and providence of God" to the Christians of course, eg the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony wrote in 1634, as "for the natives, they are near all dead of the smallpox, so as the Lord hath cleared our title to what we possess." [SH109,238]

On Hispaniola alone, on Columbus visits, the native population (Arawak), a rather harmless and happy people living on an island of abundant natural resources, a literal paradise, soon mourned 50,000 dead. [SH204]

The surviving Indians fell victim to rape, murder, enslavement and Spanish raids. As one of the culprits wrote: “So many Indians died that they could not be counted, all through the land the Indians lay dead everywhere. The stench was very great and pestiferous.” [SH69]

The Indian chief Hatuey fled with his people but was captured and burned alive. As "they were tying him to the stake a Franciscan friar urged him to take Jesus to his heart so that his soul might go to heaven, rather than descend into hell. Hatuey replied that if heaven was where the Christians went, he would rather go to hell.” [SH70]

What happened to his people was described by an eyewitness: "The Spaniards found pleasure in inventing all kinds of odd cruelties … They built a long gibbet, long enough for the toes to touch the ground to prevent strangling, and hanged thirteen [natives] at a time in honor of Christ Our Savior and the twelve Apostles… then, straw was wrapped around their torn bodies and they were burned alive.” [SH72]

Or, on another occasion:

“The Spaniards cut off the arm of one, the leg or hip of another, and from some of their heads at one stroke, like butchers cutting up beef and mutton for market. Six hundred, including the cacique, were thus slain like brute beasts…Vasco [de Balboa] ordered forty of them to be torn to pieces by dogs.” [SH83]

The "island's population of about eight million people at the time of Columbus's arrival in 1492 already had declined by a third to a half before the year 1496 was out." Eventually all the island's natives were exterminated, so the Spaniards were "forced" to import slaves from other caribbean islands, who soon suffered the same fate. Thus "the Caribbean's millions of native people [were] thereby effectively liquidated in barely a quarter of a century". [SH72-73] "In less than the normal lifetime of a single human being, an entire culture of millions of people, thousands of years resident in their homeland, had been exterminated." [SH75]

And then the Spanish turned their attention to the mainland of Mexico and Central America. The slaughter had barely begun. The exquisite city of Tenochtitl�n [Mexico city] was next.” [SH75]

Cortez, Pizarro, De Soto and hundreds of other Spanish conquistadors likewise sacked southern and mesoamerican civilizations in the name of Christ (De Soto also sacked Florida). "When the 16th century ended, some 200,000 Spaniards had moved to the Americas. By that time probably more than 60,000,000 natives were dead.” [SH95]

Although none of the settlers would have survived winter without native help, they soon set out to expel and exterminate the Indians. Warfare among (north American) Indians was rather harmless, in comparison to European standards, and was meant to avenge insults rather than conquer land. In the words of some of the pilgrim fathers: "Their Warres are farre less bloudy...", so that there usually was "no great slawter of nether side". Indeed, "they might fight seven years and not kill seven men." What is more, the Indians usually spared women and children. [SH111]

In the spring of 1612 some English colonists found life among the (generally friendly and generous) natives attractive enough to leave Jamestown - "being idell ... did runne away unto the Indians," - to live among them (that probably solved a sex problem) . "Governor Thomas Dale had them hunted down and executed: 'Some he apointed (sic) to be hanged Some burned Some to be broken upon wheles, others to be staked and some shott to death'." [SH105] Of course these elegant measures were restricted for fellow Englishmen: “This was the treatment for those who wished to act like Indians. For those who had no choice in the matter, because they were the native people of Virginia" methods were different: "when an Indian was accused by an Englishman of stealing a cup and failing to return it, the English response was to attack the natives in force, burning the entire community" down. [SH105]

On the territory that is now Massachusetts the founding fathers of the colonies were committing genocide, in what has become known as the "Peqout War." The killers were New England Puritan Christians, refugees from persecution in their own home country England. When however, a dead colonist was found, apparently killed by Narragansett Indians, the Puritan colonists wanted revenge. Despite the Indian chief's pledge they attacked. Somehow they seem to have lost the idea of what they were after, because when they were greeted by Pequot Indians (long-time foes of the Narragansetts) the troops consequently made war on the Pequots and burned their villages. The puritan commander-in-charge John Mason after one massacre wrote: “And indeed such a dreadful Terror did the Almighty let fall upon their Spirits, that they would fly from us and run into the very Flames, where many of them perished … God was above them, who laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to Scorn, making them as a fiery Oven … Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling the Place with dead Bodies”: men, women, children. [SH113-114]

So "the Lord was pleased to smite our Enemies in the hinder Parts, and to give us their land for an inheritance." [SH111].

Because of his readers' assumed knowledge of Deuteronomy, there was no need for Mason to quote the words that immediately follow: “Thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth. But thou shalt utterly destroy them…” (Deut 20) Mason’s comrade Underhill recalled how “great and doleful was the bloody sight to the view of the young soldiers” yet reassured his readers that “sometimes the Scripture declareth women and children must perish with their parents". [SH114]

Other Indians were killed in successful plots of poisoning. The colonists even had dogs especially trained to kill Indians and to devour children from their mothers breasts, in the colonists' own words: "blood Hounds to draw after them, and Mastives to seaze them." (This was inspired by Spanish methods of the time) In this way they continued until the extermination of the Pequots was near. [SH107-119]

The surviving handful of Indians “were parceled out to live in servitude. John Endicott and his pastor wrote to the governor asking for 'a share' of the captives, specifically 'a young woman or girle and a boy if you thinke good'." [SH115]

Other tribes were to follow the same path. Comment the Christian exterminators: "God's Will, which will at last give us cause to say: How Great is His Goodness!" and How Great is his Beauty!” "Thus doth the Lord Jesus make them to bow before him, and to lick the Dust!" [TA]

Like today, lying was morally acceptable to Christians then. "Peace treaties were signed with every intention to violate them: when the Indians 'grow secure uppon (sic) the treatie', advised the Council of State in Virginia, 'we shall have the better Advantage both to surprise them, & cutt downe theire Corne'." [SH106]

In 1624 sixty heavily armed Englishmen cut down 800 defenseless Indian men, women and children. [SH107]

In a single massacre in "King Philip's War" of 1675 and 1676 some "600 Indians were destroyed. A delighted Cotton Mather, revered pastor of the Second Church in Boston, later referred to the slaughter as a 'barbeque'." [SH115]

To summarize: Before the arrival of the English, the western Abenaki people in New Hampshire and Vermont had numbered 12,000. Less than half a century later about 250 remained alive - a destruction rate of 98%. The Pocumtuck people had numbered more than 18,000, fifty years later they were down to 920 - 95% destroyed. The Quiripi-Unquachog people had numbered about 30,000, fifty years later they were down to 1500 - 95% destroyed. The Massachusetts people had numbered at least 44,000, fifty years later barely 6000 were alive - 81% destroyed. [SH118] These are only a few examples of the multitude of tribes living before Christian colonists set their foot on the New World. All this was before the smallpox epidemics of 1677 and 1678 had occurred. And the carnage was not over then. All the above was only the beginning of the European colonization, it was before the frontier age actually had begun. A total of maybe more than 150 million Indians (of both Americas) were destroyed in the period of 1500 to 1900, as an average two thirds by smallpox and other epidemics, that leaves some 50 million killed directly by violence, bad treatment and slavery. In many countries, such as Brazil, and Guatemala, this continues even today. Reverend Solomon Stoddard, one of New England's most esteemed religious leaders, in "1703 formally proposed to the Massachusetts Governor that the colonists be given the financial wherewithal to purchase and train large packs of dogs 'to hunt Indians as they do bears'." [SH241]

Massacre of Sand Creek, Colorado 11/29/1864. Colonel John Chivington, a former Methodist minister and still elder in the church ("I long to be wading in gore" had a Cheyenne village of about 600, mostly women and children, gunned down despite the chiefs' waving with a white flag: 400 -500 killed. From an eye-witness account: "There were some thirty or forty squaws collected in a hole for protection; they sent out a little girl about six years old with a white flag on a stick; she had not proceeded but a few steps when she was shot and killed. All the squaws in that hole were afterwards killed…" [SH131]

By the 1860s, 'in Hawai'i the Reverend Rufus Anderson surveyed the carnage that by then had reduced those islands' native population by 90 percent or more, and he declined to see it as a tragedy; the expected total die-off of the Hawaiian population was only natural, this missionary said, somewhat equivalent to 'the amputation of diseased members of the body'." [SH244]


[DA] K.Deschner, Abermals kr�hte der Hahn, Stuttgart 1962.

[DO] K. Deschner, Opus Diaboli, Reinbek 1987.

[EC] PWEdbury, Crusade and Settlement, Cardiff Univ. Press 1985.

[EJ] S. Eidelberg, The Jews and the Crusaders, Madison 1977.

[HA] Hunter, M., Wootton, D., Atheism from the Reformation to the

Enlightenment, Oxford 1992.

[KM] Schrder-Kappus, E., Wagner, W., Michael Sattler. Ein M�rtyrer in

Rottenburg, Tübingen, TVT Media 1992.

[LI] HCLea, The Inquisition of the Middle Ages, New York 1961.

[MM] M. Margolis, A. Marx, A History of the Jewish People.

[MV] A.Manhattan, The Vatican's Holocaust, Springfield 1986.

See also V.Dedijer, The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican, Buffalo NY, 1992.

[NC] JTNoonan, Contraception: A History of its Treatment by the Catholic

Theologians and Canonists, Cambridge/Mass., 1992.

[S2] Newscast of S2 Aktuell, Germany, 10/10/96, 12:00.

[SH] D. Stannard, American Holocaust, Oxford University Press 1992.

[SP] German news magazine Der Spiegel, no.49, 12/2/1996.

[TA] A True Account of the Most Considerable Occurrences that have Hapned in the Warre Between the English and the Indians in New England, London 1676.

[TG] F.Turner, Beyond Geography, New York 1980.

[WW] H.Wollschlager: Die bewaffneten Wallfahrten gen Jerusalem, Zrich 1973. (This is in german and what is worse, it is out of print. But it is the best I ever read about crusades and includes a full list of original medieval Christian chroniclers' writings).

[WV] Estimates on the number of executed witches:

N. Cohn, Europe's Inner Demons: An Enquiry Inspired by the Great Witch Hunt, Frogmore 1976, 253.

RHRobbins, The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology, New York 1959, 180.

JBRussell, Witchcraft in the Middle Ages, Ithaca/NY 1972, 39.

H. Zwetsloot, Friedrich Spee und die Hexenprozesse, Trier 1954, 56.





10 myths and 10 truths about atheism


(by Sam Harris)


SEVERAL POLLS indicate that the term "atheism" has acquired such an extraordinary stigma in the United States that being an atheist is now a perfect impediment to a career in politics (in a way that being black, Muslim or homosexual is not). According to a recent Newsweek poll, only 37% of Americans would vote for an otherwise qualified atheist for president.
Atheists are often imagined to be intolerant, immoral, depressed, blind to the beauty of nature and dogmatically closed to evidence of the supernatural.

Even John Locke, one of the great patriarchs of the Enlightenment, believed that atheism was "not at all to be tolerated" because, he said, "promises, covenants and oaths, which are the bonds of human societies, can have no hold upon an atheist."
That was more than 300 years ago. But in the United States today, little seems to have changed. A remarkable 87% of the population claims "never to doubt" the existence of God; fewer than 10% identify themselves as atheists - and their reputation appears to be deteriorating.
Given that we know that atheists are often among the most intelligent and scientifically literate people in any society, it seems important to deflate the myths that prevent them from playing a larger role in our national discourse.

1) Atheists believe that life is meaningless.

On the contrary, religious people often worry that life is meaningless and imagine that it can only be redeemed by the promise of eternal happiness beyond the grave. Atheists tend to be quite sure that life is precious. Life is imbued with meaning by being really and fully lived. Our relationships with those we love are meaningful now; they need not last forever to be made so. Atheists tend to find this fear of meaninglessness … well … meaningless.

2) Atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in human history.

People of faith often claim that the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were the inevitable product of unbelief. The problem with fascism and communism, however, is not that they are too critical of religion; the problem is that they are too much like religions. Such regimes are dogmatic to the core and generally give rise to personality cults that are indistinguishable from cults of religious hero worship. Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma; they are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok. There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.

3) Atheism is dogmatic.

Jews, Christians and Muslims claim that their scriptures are so prescient of humanity's needs that they could only have been written under the direction of an omniscient deity. An atheist is simply a person who has considered this claim, read the books and found the claim to be ridiculous. One doesn't have to take anything on faith, or be otherwise dogmatic, to reject unjustified religious beliefs. As the historian Stephen Henry Roberts (1901-71) once said: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."

4) Atheists think everything in the universe arose by chance.

No one knows why the universe came into being. In fact, it is not entirely clear that we can coherently speak about the "beginning" or "creation" of the universe at all, as these ideas invoke the concept of time, and here we are talking about the origin of space-time itself .
The notion that atheists believe that everything was created by chance is also regularly thrown up as a criticism of Darwinian evolution. As Richard Dawkins explains in his marvelous book, "The God Delusion," this represents an utter misunderstanding of evolutionary theory. Although we don't know precisely how the Earth's early chemistry begat biology, we know that the diversity and complexity we see in the living world is not a product of mere chance. Evolution is a combination of chance mutation and natural selection. Darwin arrived at the phrase "natural selection" by analogy to the "artificial selection" performed by breeders of livestock. In both cases, selection exerts a highly non-random effect on the development of any species.

5) Atheism has no connection to science.

Although it is possible to be a scientist and still believe in God - as some scientists seem to manage it - there is no question that an engagement with scientific thinking tends to erode, rather than support, religious faith. Taking the US population as an example: Most polls show that about 90% of the general public believes in a personal God; yet 93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences do not. This suggests that there are few modes of thinking less congenial to religious faith than science is.

6) Atheists are arrogant.

When scientists don't know something - like why the universe came into being or how the first self-replicating molecules formed - they admit it. Pretending to know things one doesn't know is a profound liability in science. And yet it is the life-blood of faith-based religion. One of the monumental ironies of religious discourse can be found in the frequency with which people of faith praise themselves for their humility, while claiming to know facts about cosmology, chemistry and biology that no scientist knows. When considering questions about the nature of the cosmos and our place within it, atheists tend to draw their opinions from science. This isn't an argument; it is intellectual honesty.

7) Atheists are closed to spiritual experience.

There is nothing that prevents an atheist from experiencing love, ecstasy, rapture and awe; atheists can value these experiences and seek them regularly. What atheists don't tend to do is make unjustified (and unjustifiable) claims about the nature of reality on the basis of such experiences. There is no question that some Christians have transformed their lives for the better by reading the Bible and praying to Jesus. What does this prove? It proves that certain disciplines of attention and codes of conduct can have a profound effect upon the human mind. Do the positive experiences of Christians suggest that Jesus is the sole savior of humanity? Not even remotely because Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and even atheists regularly have similar experiences.

8) Atheists believe that there is nothing beyond human life and human understanding.

There is, in fact, not a Christian on this Earth who can be certain that Jesus even wore a beard, much less that he was born of a virgin or rose from the dead. These are just not the sort of claims that spiritual experience can authenticate.
Atheists are free to admit the limits of human understanding in a way that religious people are not. It is obvious that we do not fully understand the universe; but it is even more obvious that neither the Bible nor the Koran reflects our best understanding of it. We do not know whether there is complex life elsewhere in the cosmos, but there might be. If there is, such beings could have developed an understanding of nature's laws that vastly exceeds our own. Atheists can freely entertain such possibilities. They also can admit that if brilliant extraterrestrials exist, the contents of the Bible and the Koran will be even less impressive to them than they are to human atheists.
From the atheist point of view, the world's religions utterly trivialize the real beauty and immensity of the universe. One doesn't have to accept anything on insufficient evidence to make such an observation.

9) Atheists ignore the fact that religion is extremely beneficial to society.

Those who emphasize the good effects of religion never seem to realize that such effects fail to demonstrate the truth of any religious doctrine. This is why we have terms such as "wishful thinking" and "self-deception." There is a profound distinction between a consoling delusion and the truth.
In any case, the good effects of religion can surely be disputed. In most cases, it seems that religion gives people bad reasons to behave well, when good reasons are actually available. Ask yourself, which is more moral, helping the poor out of concern for their suffering, or doing so because you think the creator of the universe wants you to do it, will reward you for doing it or will punish you for not doing it?

10) Atheism provides no basis for morality.

If a person doesn't already understand that cruelty is wrong, he won't discover this by reading the Bible or the Koran - as these books are bursting with celebrations of cruelty, both human and divine. We do not get our morality from religion. We decide what is good in our good books by recourse to moral intuitions that are (at some level) hard-wired in us and that have been refined by thousands of years of thinking about the causes and possibilities of human happiness.
We have made considerable moral progress over the years, and we didn't make this progress by reading the Bible or the Koran more closely. Both books condone the practice of slavery—and yet every civilized human being now recognizes that slavery is an abomination. Whatever is good in scripture - like the golden rule - can be valued for its ethical wisdom without our believing that it was handed down to us by the creator of the universe.






"Richard Dawkins - The Enemies of Reason - Part 1: Slaves to Superstition"

Excellent documentary



"Richard Dawkins - The Enemies of Reason - Part 2: The Irrational Health Service"

Excellent Documentary (second series)