October 27, 2007

The United States was founded as a Secular Nation

From Bob Sesca:
"America was founded by men of the Enlightenment: a movement which emphasized reason, rationality, liberalism, anti-authoritarianism and political equality. The founders were revolutionary liberals who believed strongly in secular government. This is nowhere near "right of center" or indicative of a Judeo-Christian Nation.

Many of the founding fathers, especially Thomas Jefferson, while claiming to believe in God, were deists and didn't believe in the resurrection or the divinity of Jesus Christ; they didn't believe in Christ's miracles or the holy trinity. Bill O'Reilly would've poked their eyes out with his pointy fingers.

Thomas Paine, whose writing inspired the Declaration of Independence, rejected all religions: "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church." (The Age of Reason, 1794)

John Adams, as president, signed a treaty in 1796 which stated unequivocally: "As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion." There's no gray area there.

And, naturally, we have the First Amendment which includes that pesky Establishment Clause which separates church and state. That, and Article VI which forbids a religious test for holding public office. Clearly a section of the Constitution the Republican candidates have overlooked.

Make no mistake, the founders absolutely believed in the existence of a God or a Creator. George Washington often spoke of "Providence." But they were fighting and dying to escape the tyranny of a theocratic government. Why would they risk everything only to establish -- hell, to establish exactly what today's Republican Party wants: an imperial, conquering superpower fronted by a strong executive who legislates Judeo-Christian dogma?

The founders knew that theocracy and authoritarianism were the weapons of tyrants. Likewise, in establishing a constitutional democracy, they knew that if they sanctioned a national religion, then government would be able to tax and regulate religion -- suppressing religious expression. So the founders created a secular nation in which any and all religions would be free to prosper without government intrusion -- and vice versa.

As for the political and ideological views of the founders, you can't get much more liberal than instigating a rebellion and engaging in revolutionary warfare against a standing imperial army, a monarch (unitary executive) and a monopolistic mega-corporation (the East India Company, which received the most infamous corporate tax cut of all time -- triggering the Boston Tea Party). Sorry Republicans. The founding fathers were secular liberals. And so are a majority of Americans right here and now."

October 23, 2007

(Exerpt) Of The Day

One of the best passages from one of the best books ever written, The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. (A Babel fish is a small fish one puts in their ear that translates any language in the galaxy for the user.)

"Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God. The argument goes something like this:

"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."

"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. Q.E.D."

"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

"Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.

Most leading theologians claim that this argument isn't worth a pair of fetid dingo's kidneys, but that didn't stop Oolon Celluphid from making a fortune with his book Who is this God Person Anyway?"

October 21, 2007

Jesus Christ Action Figure

Sorry... but this little ditty is far too hilarious to remain unseen!
A hearty laugh is good for the "soul"...

October 20, 2007

Quote Of The Day

Penn Jillette

Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That's good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.

October 19, 2007

Quote Of The Day

A Bill Maher trifecta today.

Let's make a law that gay people can have birthdays, but straight people get more cake — you know, to send the right message to kids.

Well, the American public always wanted to vote for a guy — and Bush was the perfect guy — who they'd want to have over for pot-roast. And George Bush is that guy. He does that well. You'd like to have him over for pot-roast. He reminds you of yourself. Okay. Well, now he's been over, he's had the pot-roast. But he's getting drunk and now he's talking about stem cells and Terri Schiavo and gay marriage. And now he's the guest that won't leave.

Now if you're just out of the mainstream, if you don't have blind Bush love, you are somehow suspect. Don't ever let them tell you that. Be out of the mainstream. I'm out of the mainstream. I enjoy it, who wants to be in the mainstream? When Ronald Reagan was running, he would always say 'it's morning in America' and everybody would smile and I would think 'yeah but, I'm not a morning person'. I'm the guy who thinks religion is bad and drugs are good. I think children aren't innocent, god doesn't write books, and Jesus wasn't a republican. I think girls hate each other, no doesn't mean no and drunk is funny. I'm for mad cow disease, how am I gonna win that? I'm against suing tobacco companies. I think abstinence is a perversion. I think Bush's lies are worse than Clinton's. I think Vegas was better when it was run by the mob. I think men are only as loyal as their options. I think stereotypes are true and rehab is for quitters.

October 18, 2007

Quote Of The Day

Theodore Roosevelt

"Probably the greatest harm done by vast wealth is the harm that we of moderate means do ourselves when we let the vices of envy and hatred enter deep into our own natures."

Question Of The Week

I figured starting a response-oriented post would be a good way to stimulate discussion on our blog, (it's been lacking a bit). So, I'll give this a try. If it works out maybe we can turn it into a Question of the Day post, but I'd like to see how this goes down first.

Question Of The Week (this one is a two-parter): What issue gets you most interested this primary season? Is it education, the environment, the war, taxes, civil rights, gay right? (If you were to vote in the primaries, what issue would you consider most when choosing a candidate?) My second question goes a bit deeper. Is there any single item, however small, that gets you the most worked up, the most vociferous, and the most eager to see something done about it?

My answers: My personal issue is education. I have a number of reasons and thoughts on this issue, but my main reason is my personal conviction that an improved, efficient, effective, and religion-free education will lead to the elimination of a great number of the problems we face today. Ignorance is the great demon of civilization; reason is the great liberator of the oppressed and restrained mind.

My one item I want to see changed more than anything? ANWR. I will not vote for any single candidate who will not commit to pulling those drills out as early into their administration as they can.


Pickin' On the Bible (Pt. 1)

In my opinion, two of the most destructive passages in the Holy Bible are Genesis 1:26 and 1:28.

1:26... "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."

1:28... "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."

These are two of the biggest "Bible Boogers". They have directly or indirectly contributed to some of Humankind's worst attitudes.

Worst of all is the attitude that we humans are somehow above and beyond the rest of nature.

I believe this assumption to be very false. It is true that we have the most advanced brains of all the Earth's beings, with the possible exception of Cetaceans. Humans also possess superlative dexterity and mobility. Beyond this, all the tangible evidence points to Homo Sapiens being nothing more than an advanced mammal.

We are conceived as all mammals are, through the union of egg & sperm (except for J.C.!) We develop as all mammals do, in our Mother's wombs. I could go on & on... but the point is, one of the most simple forms of life on Earth, the bacterium, can kill us all! The mere fact that we humans have to poo & pee is enough to prove that we, too, are what we'd call 'animals'.

Genesis 1:26 and 1:28 have made it easy to justify despicable human behavior- they're ONLY animals, right? I have heard these words far too often; "God put the animals here to use as we see fit." How vain.

We all know about things like loss of habitat due to Humankind's "progress"... and the deplorable treatment of animals on our "factory" farms... or the raising of birds & mammals for the sole purpose of being shot by some "mighty outdoorsman" on a "canned" hunting reserve... or the millions of dogs & cats that have to be destroyed each year, because the animal shelters cannot shelter them all... not to mention the despicable fur trade, Canada being a huge offender with their baby seal slaughter (they allow up to 300,000 pelts to be "harvested"). Sad to say, these are all a given. For the most part, they are accepted by mainstream society.

There has been some good news in recent years- like the re-emergence of the Bald Eagle in the lower 48. Organizations such as The Nature Conservancy are doing their share by helping to preserve "wild" land for habitat. Local animal organizations such as P.A.W.S. are trying their best to help stray & abandoned dogs & cats. And the number of people who are Vegetarians and Vegans has been steadily increasing.

Many conservation efforts are too little, too late. A particularly sad example is the plight of the Bengal Tiger. Just 5 years ago, they numbered about 3,500- in 2007 there are estimated to be only 1,500 individuals left, despite the luke-warm efforts of the Indian government to save them. The primary cause has been (of course) habitat loss. Damned "progress"...

I have been accused, several times in my life, of caring more about animals than people. I'm sure my "accusers" never took it into account that people ARE animals- no matter what the "good" book says!


October 15, 2007

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a former member of the Dutch Lower House, a Somali born feminist and a political refugee from Kenya. She grew up within the oppressive Islamic community of Somalia, where she was witness to the suppression of women within the clan heirachy, as well as the political oppression carried out by the government which her father opposed and was jailed for his activities. After escaping prison, he moved his family to Saudi Arabia, where they lived until they were expelled three years later. Moving from there to Ethiopia, then finally Kenya, Ayaan was exposed to the views of the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest Sunni organization in the world and a supported of the establishment of a new Caliphate in the Muslim world. She sympathized with these views, choosing to wear a hijab and supporting the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. Forced to maintain a low profile due to her father's status as a political refugee, Ayaan took up reading as a hobby, where she was exposed to western culture through book series such as Nancy Drew.

In 1992, at the age of twenty three, Ayaan found herself subject to an arranged marriage to a distant cousin living in Canada. Traveling to Germany initially to transfer flights, she applied for and was granted (although she had to falsely exaggerate her story) refugee status within the Netherlands. It was there that she found herself captivated by the freedom's and opportunities offered by the west, and where she began her transformation into a fully westernized feminist, an Atheist, and after obtaining her master's degree in political science, eventually an MP in the Tweede Kamer, the Dutch Lower House.

Her story is easily one of the most fascinating and insightful narratives on the subject of Islamic culture and the conflict between the west and Islam. Marked by tragedy at times (she was working with Theo van Gogh when he was brutally slain while filming a documentary on the abuses against Muslim women), by difficulty, and by hope; her story stands out in this time of great conflict as an example of how reason can and does prevail. I'm posting a two part video so you can hear her tell her story, and answer questions from the audience in part two. Watch it all the way through, it's really a fascinating experience.


October 11, 2007

A necessary Evil?

I have been reading Christopher Hitchens book "God is Not Great" over the last week, and I must concede that he has raised for me a great question concerning religion: Is it useful? That is, does religion provide us with something impermeable and necessary for our well being? Hitchens seems to think so. Arguably, there is no greater critic of religion in the Western World. He speaks and writes with a terrific force of assurance and expertise, utilizing his eloquent comfort and familiarity of the English language, his fanatical devotion to the truth and accuracy in his reporting; citing from his veritable menagerie of experiences and sources to finely illustrate his observations, his words cutting through prejudiced and preconditioned assurances like the moon piercing an overcast night to illuminate a path in the darkness for a ship far adrift in the icy seas of the North Atlantic. It is difficult to ignore his words, and harder still to reject their validity. He strikes at the most intimate of relationships we all posses; that of our fear and apprehension facing our own mortality.

Never one to minimize these thoughts, he graciously argues in the Humanistic value of religious tradition. While not making concessions, he does revel in the beauty of religious art and music; he stands in awe at the great monuments of religious architecture; embraces the richness of the religious community, and respects the value of religious traditions in our lives. I agree with him on all these points. I challenge anyone not to be soothed by the rhythmic and uplifting chants of medieval monks, or the divinely inspired masterpieces of greatest classical composers. There are few greater images of strength and beauty than the images of angels, clad in flowing white, wings stretched out, their swords and words serving to guide us out of danger and misery into the light of compassion, faith and love. What greater totem exists to embody all that is wrong with the world than Satan- a dark figure, who takes the form of our weakness to earn our trust, only to lead us to destruction in the end? Even the staunchest Atheists, such as myself, Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Samuel Clemens, Daniel Dennett, Stephen Hawkings, Albert Einstein, and Voltaire soundly reject everything that Satan represents, and with good reason. All people wish to be good. While the details of good are not always clear, evil is much easier to define. It is the reason why there is so vast a sea of difference between what the religions of man consider good, but so much in common when it comes to what we call bad. Our struggle to reach the heights of justice in our lives is a long and weary one, mired with pitfalls and temptations, figurative demons intending to lead us astray with offers of instant gratification and power.

What greater sin is there than the lust for power? Grey area permeates every action and choice we make, yet the consequences of our worst acts are noticeably clear. There is no good to be derived from rape, torture, murder, abuse, humiliation, degradation, wanton destruction, betrayal, greed, theft, pestilence, selfishness or slobishness. Even the most twisted, imbalanced mind must alter it's own definition of good just to cope with these atrocities. No lucid mind has ever looked at there sins with reason and concluded that they are right. There is, then, one universal in a world built without them; that there can be no good where there is evil, and there is no evil that can ever be good.

This brings me back to Hitchens and the point he makes early in his book. Paraphrasing it as best I can (I most certainly will succeed better in the future), I take his meaning as this; our society, and nearly every aspect of it owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to religion, both for better and for worse. There is not a single aspect of our lives that is not imbued with the ideas and acts of faith. It would be remiss of us to cast aside our torch when it has guided us this far. Our journey, both in our physical realm; but also in our spiritual realm, our scientific and cultural and artistic realms; indeed in every realm we have come across, and every realm we have yet to come across; our path is not fully illuminated and as we move on, as we examine our surroundings, as as we look nostalgically and mournfully back, our path can and should still be aided by religion. We do not need it as fully as we once did, but I can come to no other conclusion that we have much to gain through keeping religion in our lives in every place that it works. I am an Atheist, but I will celebrate Christmas and the holiday season as I once did; I will share our traditions with my children as my non-religious parents did with me. I will teach them to respect and embrace the traditions of others as readily as our own. I will revel in religion's language, art, culture, and wisdom as fully as I do that of my Atheistic beliefs. Taking the best of an imperfect entity is the best anyone can do. And I will strive to teach the religious to do the same, because it is the right thing to do. It is up to each of us whether we choose the path of righteousness and reason, aided by the trials and lessons of the past; or choose to fester in the imposturous mirth of religion and drive ourselves to the frigid depths of delusional, selfish sin.


October 10, 2007

Were they Christians?

Our friends on the Authoritarian Right are up to their old tricks. Proclamations such as "The U.S. is, and always has been, a Christian Nation!" are once more being tossed about.

What about the four great Americans pictured here? Were they adherents of the Christian faith?

The answer is... one of them was a true Christian- and a very reasonable Christian, at that.

Amid cries of "@!*# America-hating liberal liar!", we'll begin with George Washington:

"Sir, Washington was a Deist."-- (The Reverend Doctor James Abercrombie, rector of the church Washington had attended with his wife, to The Reverend Bird Wilson, an Episcopal minister in Albany, New York, upon Wilson's having inquired of Abercrombie regarding Washington's religious beliefs.)

"I have diligently perused every line that Washington ever gave to the public, and I do not find one expression in which he pledges, himself as a believer in Christianity. I think anyone who will candidly do as I have done, will come to the conclusion that he was a Deist and nothing more."-- (The Reverend Bird Wilson, an Episcopal minister in Albany, New York, in an interview with Mr. Robert Dale Owen written on November 13, 1831, which was publlshed in New York two weeks later)... Quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, pp. 27.

How about Thomas Jefferson? Hoo boy...

"Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus."-- (Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp July 30, 1816, denouncing the doctrine of the Trinity and suggesting it to be so riddled in falsehood that only an authoritarian figure could decipher its meaning and, with a firm grip on people's spiritual and mental freedoms, thus convince the people of its truthfulness)

"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."-- (Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823)

What about Honest Abe? Well...

"My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them."-- (Abraham Lincoln, to Judge J S Wakefield, after Willie Lincoln's death (Willie died in 1862), quoted by Joseph Lewis in "Lincoln the Freethinker")

"Mr. Lincoln's maxim and philosophy were: 'What is to be, will be, and no prayers of ours can arrest the decree.' He never joined any Church. He was a religious man always, I think, but was not a technical Christian."-- (Mary Todd Lincoln, in William Herndon's "Religion of Lincoln", quoted from Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents, p. 118)

Of the "Big 4", only Teddy Roosevelt can be classified as a practicing Christian. His affiliations were 'Dutch Reformed', and later in life, Episcopalian. Here's what Teddy had to say:

"I hold that in this country there must be complete severance of Church and State; that public moneys shall not be used for the purpose of advancing any particular creed; and therefore that the public schools shall be nonsectarian and no public moneys appropriated for sectarian schools."-- (Theodore Roosevelt, address, Carnegie Hall, October 12, 1915, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, "The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom")

"To discriminate against a thoroughly upright citizen because he belongs to some particular church, or because, like Abraham Lincoln, he has not avowed his allegiance to any church, is an outrage against that liberty of conscience which is one of the foundations of American life."-- (Theodore Roosevelt, letter to J C Martin, November 9, 1908, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, "The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom")

Note the reference to Abraham Lincoln in the second quote!


October 9, 2007


Did Democrats Know About Secret Torture Methods or Not?

Watching this video made me question Nancy Pelosi's judgment for the first time. If she was fully briefed on the interrogation methods the Bush Administration wanted to use, why did she vote to allow it? This is a serious issue; adherence to international law is something the Democratic party believes in, just as is it the morally right thing to do. We need to know if our leaders are making the right decisions on issues such as this. I hope that Speaker Pelosi is telling the truth when she says she was not given the information she needed.

Also, does anyone else feel as I do, that MSNBC is the best news channel for getting genuine information and providing articulate debate?


October 7, 2007

Dogma vs. Innate Compassion

I came across the following quote and it hits on a couple of things we have previously discussed. It is from a novel about the Native American shamanistic tradition by Robin Rice, "100 Days to Sunday." I am interested in what people think of it, particularly those who have said they were raised in a religious household and later rejected those beliefs-specifically, why did you reject them? Do you think that an overbearing focus on religion by parents is more likely to lead to children rejecting dogma? Or is a more moderate religious stance by parents more likely to lead to children questioning their parents' beliefs. This also brings up the issue of an innate human compassion versus campassion imposed by religious beliefs which has been discussed. Here is the quote:

“To choose parents who will force a religious paradigm upon a soul often helps
the soul reject then release dogma, ultimately finding the true spiritual self
and one’s innate compassion.”

While choosing one's parents implies a sort of reincarnation, I am disregarding that part. And, I take the "soul" reference not in a religious sense at all but in the sense that a "soul" is the set of inherent characteristics and qualities of an individual's personality. So what do you all think?

The New York Times Gets It

I'm glad that the New York Times ended their subscription service for editorials. They have some very good writers on their staff, and every now and then they publish something particularly inters testing. This article, for instance.

A Nation Of Christians Is Not A Christian Nation- The New York Times


Atheism and Logic

Donning the mantel of Free Thinker or simply thinker or scientist bears with it with significant responsibility. An article published not long ago talks about prominent atheists Scott Atran, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and others who seem to forego long held principles of logic. See Disproving the Existence of God.

October 6, 2007

God's Friends Are Nuts

This video is big fun! Enjoy...

October 4, 2007

Free-thinking Slaves

It's funny... when I first came across this pic, I thought that it might be a joke... Apparently not. The Mills Road Baptist Church is located in Houston, TX. Here's a little excerpt from their website:
"Christ Alone (Sola Christus) is the one mediator between God and man. He is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Him. There is salvation in no other name but His. To Him every knee will eventually bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father. The entirety of His sinless life and work, His suffering on the cross, burial and resurrection from the dead, and ascension into heaven constitute the gospel (good news). (Mark 1:1) Grace Alone (Sola Gratia) is the operational mode through which the Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, bestows all His goodness upon mankind, especially salvation from sin. This mode precludes any boasting on the part of any person to whom grace has been given. (Ephesians 1:6,12,14; 1Corinthians 1:29-31) Faith Alone (Sola Fide) is the means God has ordained for receiving His grace-gift of salvation from sin. Faith itself is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8-10; Acts 18:27) To God Alone be the Glory (Soli Deo Gloria) for it is from Him alone that every good and perfect gift comes and He alone is worthy of praise for His gifts. (James 1:17,18; Revelation 4:11; 5:12) Amen!"
Yeah, yeah, yeah....

October 2, 2007


Welcome to the Cleveland Freethinkers Blog!

We are a group of Atheists, Agnostics, and a few freethinking theists. Our discussions encompass everything from religion to philosophy, science and culture, law and ethics. We are starting this blog in order to bring our discussions out to the public. We hope that by doing this, it will bring a greater awareness of our cause to the Greater Cleveland Area. We hope that the people who will find our blog will do so because they are looking for a place to speak where there has been none. We recognize that there is no forum for people like us to speak out, and we wish to change that. We believe that information is crucial to decision making, this blog and this group seeks to break the spell of ignorance that envelopes the Greater Cleveland Area.