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is a non-profit, non-political, educational organization, dedicated to the complete and absolute separation of
state and church. We accept the explanation of Thomas Jefferson that the "First Amendment" to the
Constitution of the United States was meant to create a "wall of separation" between state and church.
American Atheists are organized to stimulate and promote freedom of thought and inquiry concerning
religious beliefs, creeds, dogmas, tenets, rituals and practices;
to collect and disseminate information, data and literature on all religions and promote a more thorough
understanding of them, their origins and histories;
to encourage the development and public acceptance of a human ethical system, stressing the mutual
sympathy, understanding
and interdependence
of all people and the corresponding responsibility of each
individual in relation to society;
to develop and propagate a culture in which man is the central figure who alone must be the source of
strength, progress and ideals for the well-being and happiness of humanity;
to promote the study of the arts and sciences and of all problems affecting the maintenance,
perpetuation and enrichment of human (and other) life;
to engage in such social, educational, legal and cultural activity as will be useful and beneficial to
members of American Atheists and to society as a whole.
Atheism may be defined as the mental attitude which unreservedly accepts the supremacy of reason and
aims at establishing a lifestyle and ethical outlook verifiable by experience and the scientific method,
independent of all arbitrary assumptions of authority and creeds.
Materialism declares that the cosmos is devoid of immanent conscious purpose; that it is governed by its own
inherent, immutable and impersonal laws; that there is no supernatural interference in human life; that man finding his resources within himself - can and must create his own destiny. Materialism restores to man his
dignity and his intellectual integrity. It teaches that we must prize our life on earth and strive always to improve
it. It holds that man is capable of creating a social system based on reason and justice. Materialism's "faith" is in
man and man's ability to transform the world culture by his own efforts. This is a commitment which is in very
essence life asserting. It considers the struggle for progress as a moral obligation and impossible without noble
ideas that inspire man to bold creative works. Materialism holds that humankind's potential for good and for an
outreach to more fulfilling cultural development is, for all practical purposes, unlimited.

American Atheist Membership Categories
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All membership categories receive our monthly "Insider's Newsletter," membership card(s), a
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American Atheists - P.O. Box 2117 - Austin, TX 78768-2117

A Journal of Atheist News and Thought

Vol. 26, No.4

April, 1984

Letters to the Editor
EditorialJon Garth Murray
American Atheist Radio Series: "Clarence
Roots of Atheism



Charles Chilton Moore - John Crump
Other Miraculous Shrouds Besides the Shroud of Turin
- R.J. Hornswaggler
A Rose by Any Other Name - Kevin J. Dooley
"Easter"; the Vernal Equinox - Madalyn Murray O'Hair


Florman and Engineering - Michael Bettencourt
Simon Says "Die" - Gerald Tholen
Unisex with a Difference - Margaret Bhatty
A Look at Gawd's Mighty Hand and Outstretched
Robin Murray-O'Hair
Editor Emeritus
Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Managing Editor
Jon G. Murray
Assistant Editor
Gerald Tholen
Angeline Bennett
Gerald Tholen
Production Staff
Art Brenner
Bill Kight
Richard M. Smith
Gloria Tholen
Non-Resident Staff
G. Stanley Brown
Jeff Frankel
Merrill Holste
Margaret Bhatty
Fred Woodworth
Clayton Powers
Michael Bettencourt

Arm -

Merrill Holste


The American Atheist magazine is published monthly by the

American Atheist Press (an affiliate of American Atheists), 2210
Hancock Dr., Austin, TX 78756-2596, and 1984 by Society of
Separationists, Inc., a non-profit, non-political, educational organization dedicated to the complete and absolute separation of state
and church. (All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part
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The Blue Grass Blade, a newspaper
published by one Charles Chilton Moore
in Lexington, Kentucky, was probably
the most unique newspaper ever published in the history of American journalism (see related article on page 6). Mr.
Moore, an ex-minister, became an adamant and outspoken Atheist who came
to realize that the media.of his day and
time was totally biased with respect to
religion. His editorials reflected stinging
criticisms of religion in general and of
christianity in particular. Needless to
say, Moore became the target of the
religious community. In so doing he
became a true American Atheist patriot.
In a review of Moore's ongoing struggle for freedom of expression it may be
readily noticed that he not only had to
suffer the hostilities generally afforded
any heretic, but he also was subjected to
the bitter disappointment faced by nearly
all Atheist "heroes;" he was left to stand
such abusements alone. Although many
nonreligious people agreed with his statements and position, no one was ready to
share in his maltreatment at the hands of
bigots and fanatics.
Such has been the case with nearly all
Atheist heroes/heroines. Rarely has the
Atheist community ever rushed to the aid
and support of a comrade under siege!
Such people are usually left to their own
defense and quite often face financial
ruin and the degradations of "public
scorn." This treatment has persisted
even until this date.
Currently, the American Atheist organization is the only group that has
been able to significantly break this pattern. Now, in a continuing manner and
for over 20 years, Atheism is beginning to
receive the positive and progressive
recognition to which it has always been
entitled. The logical reasoning of Atheism has today been able to make substantial inroads into society. Timid supporters are coming to realize that the
"fight" has always been theirs and that
complacency is the property of defeatism. Self respect and pride of being must
be won by ALL individuals and not by
some distant gallant "champion." American Atheists welcomes your support
and determination. I'm quite sure that
Charles C. Moore would have welcomed
the same.
Gerald Tholen

Mail to: American Atheists/P.O. Box 2117/ Austin, TX 78768-2117

Austin, Texas


Page 1


Several years ago you used to publish
American Atheist magazine with the names
of the months in French. Since then you
have discontinued this practice, and I was
wondering why. I thought it added a little
touch of class.
L. Scholle
Mrs. Scholle:

Indeed we did use French names for the

months, beginning with the May '80 issue.
The reason for this was that the current
"Anglicized" names are based on Roman
religion for the first six months: January is
derived from the Roman god of doorways,
of beginnings, and of the rising and setting of
the sun; February is derived from the month
of purification and a cult of the dead; March
is derived from the name of the god of war;
April was devoted to the goddess of Spring;
May is derived from the goddess of vegetation; and June is derived from the goddess
of women and marriage. In addition, July
and August are named after the Roman
emperors Julius and Augustus Caesar,
both of whom attained the status of deity in
the Roman world. The last four months are
simply based on the numbers 7 (sept), 8
(oct), 9 (nov), 10 (dec).
Conscious AtheIsts have long recognized
the need to change this subtle form of
brainwashing into the ways of the past, and
beginning with the French Revolution in
1789 there was an officialattempt to change
the names of the months to correspond
with the season they represented. Napoleon discarded this revolutionary calendar,
but in 1980 American Atheists resurrected
and adopted the names which it had used.
They were: Nivose, the snowy month
(January); Pluviose, the rainy month
(February); Ventose, the windy month
(March); Germinal, the germinating month
(Apri/); Floreal, the flower month (May);
Prairial, the meadow month (June); Messidor, the harvest month (July); Thermidor,
the month of heat (August); Fructidor, the
month of fruit (September); Vendemaire,
the vintage month (October); Brumaire, the
foggy month (November); and Frimaire, the
frosty month (December).
At the same time American Atheists also
used a yearly dating system based on the
date of the adoption of this calendar in the
Page 2

French Revolution, 1792, as the year 1.

After some time it appeared that people
(even Atheists, intelligent and adaptable as
they are) could not adjust to this yearly
system, and so it was decided to utilize the
present yearly system only with an extra
10,000 years added to it to represent, more
or less, the beginning of civilization.
Then, two years ago we received communication from Australians and New
Zealanders pointing out that our calendar
was "hemisphere-centric,"
because the
frosty month in the northern hemisphere,
where this magazine is published, is the
sunny month in the southern hemisphere,
where many of our subscribers live. They
were absolutely right, of course, so for the
time being we canned the system along with
our method of dating the years.
However, we have not given up yet on
this struggle, and we are considering and
working on any good ideas that any
Atheists mightformulate. Currently, we are
mulling using a simple system of numbers
(in a way like September, October, November, and December) for the months. A
workable dating system for the years has
proven more intractable, and it may be
some time before we develop somethingfor
In the meantime, we urge all of you to
keep in mind that the current system is
religious, and that the religionists know it,
and that it must be changed - along with
the eventual demise of religion.

I appreciated the analysis in the American
Atheist of our High Court's decision in the
scientology case.
The result was very disappointing to me.
lt would now appear our High Court is
prepared to allow any belief system to gain
the tax exemptions and benefits enjoyed by
The only good to have come from the
decision is to raise the issue of exemptions
for religions.
Now that I have read the research of Dr.
O'Hair on this issue I have started to
compile similar figures for Australia.
My regards to all American Atheists,
especially those who were so hospitable to
me on my visit last year. If any of your
readers want information on anything Australian or are planning to visit Australia,
please let me know.
Mark Plummer
April, 1984

First, I would like to congratulate Dr.
O'Hair and the American Atheist Center in
their fight to pull the teeth on the Reagan/
Falwell gang (American Atheist, 1/84) and
stop the madness before these selfappointed "saviors" of mankind blow it allquite literally. I do, however, have some
comments to make on the subject of Atheist
involvement in this issue. I would like to
address these comments, not to the center
staff, but to the readers.
I have been an Atheist since the waning
years of the Vietnam war and have very
strong beliefs concerning the mixture of
church/state ideologies. In some aspects I
could be called an "idealist," and maybe I
am. I am also a realist in that I recognize the
very real danger that we as a people and as
individuals are in. From reading American
Atheist I would have thought that most
other Atheists thought the same way. I am
beginning to wonder.
Throughout Dr. O'Hair's battle with the
NSC and the White House how many of the
readers ventured to write just one single
letter in support of Dr. O'Hair to their
Jerry Falwell gets the support that has
carried him to his present position by
reaching out to people who will get up and
do something. The American Atheist Center has been trying to warn Atheists for
years of our present situation, and from my
point of observation is still working essentially alone in the fight to preserve our
individual freedoms. Will it take a new
period of Inquisition to wake people up to
their danger?
Friends, do something NOW! Before
there is nothing left to do. Before our minds
as well as our bodies are chained. The new
motto for the American Atheists is "Unity
Today - Power Tomorrow." Unity means
support and to achieve our goals we must
support, every step of the way, the people
who have done so much alone.
From a worried Atheist,
Charles L. Carr,

Letters to the Editor must be either
questions or comments of general concern to Atheists or Atheism. Submission should be brief and to-the-point.
Space limitations allow that each letter shou Id be 200 words or (preferably)
less. Please confine your letters to a
single issue only. Mail them to:
American Atheists
P.O. Box 2117
Austin, TX 78768-2117.
Thank you.

The American Atheist

A second generation Atheist, Mr. Murray has been the Director of the American Atheist Center for 8
years and is also the Managing Editor of the American Atheist. He advocates aggressive Atheism.
ome five years ago now, back in 1979, a great deal of
controversy was aroused by the visit of pope John Paul IIto the
United States. It had been since the Kennedy administration of
the '60s that a pope had set foot on U.S. soil. Most of the controversy
surrounding the pope's '79 visit was over the enormous amounts of
public monies being spent in each city on his itinerary for altars, police.
protection, crowd control and the like. The pope's itinerary placed
him in Chicago on October 5th of '79 and on the Mall in Washington
DC on the 7th of October. Prior to his scheduled Washington Mall
mass, American Atheists filed suit on September 17th, 1979 in the
Federal District Court in Washington DC against both the pope,
personally, and the National Park Service. This marked the first time
in world history that a pope had ever been sued in any court. In
addition to the legal action the Board of Directors of American
Atheists decided to mount a picket of the pope during his stay in
Chicago and his mass there on October 5th of '79. This was another
historic first in that no group had ever picketed a pope in world history
On that historic Friday in October of '79, 47 brave American
Atheists picketed the pope's mass in downtown Chicago. The suit
which American Atheists had filed in Federal District Court in
Washington DC on September 17th of '79 had been heard on
October 1st of that year, but the trial judge had withheld a bench
ruling requested by the attorneys for the archdioceses of the District
of Columbia for a later date. That ruling came down on the same day
that American Atheists were picketing the pope in Chicago, October
5th, just two days prior to the pope's Sunday, October 7th, '79 mass
on the Washington Mall. The decision at that time established the
legal basis for the "free access" doctrine promulgated by the Supreme
Court of the United States in 1983 in ruling on a case concerning
access to state-financed university facilities by a protestant religious
students' group at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
In January of this year the pope once again became the center of
controversy when president Reagan signed into law an amendment to
a State Department authorization bill that removed an 1867 prohibition on full U.S. diplomatic relations with the vatican. This most
recent in a history of fights over establishment of full diplomatic
relations with the vatican started back in 1977 with a congressional
move to reestablish formal ties which was defeated in the House.
Then a retry was staged in June of 1983 when the now deceased Rep.
Clement Zablocki of Wisconsin, a catholic, reintroduced an amendment to drop the 1867 prohibition in the House. That amendment was
never considered in that body. In September of '83 Sen. Richard
Lugar, R-Ind., a methodist, added the amendment Zablocki had
sought earlier in the House to the Senate authorization billand late in
that same month the Senate, without hearings or debate, accepted
the amendment.
The holy see already has 102 accredited ambassadors with the
exception of the U.S., the U.S.S.R. and The People's Republic of
China. The vatican has been eager to have formal representation
from the United States for some time. Sweden has diplomatic
relations with the vatican as well as Great Britain, which established
those relations in 1982. Both of these nations have established
protestant state churches. Rather surprisingly, Japan, which is some
80% atheistic according to its own statistics, has an official ambassador to the vatican. President Reagan first became overtly receptive to

Austin, Texas

the idea of establishing formal diplomatic relations with the holy see
when he visited the vatican in 1982. In November of last year the pope
sent Agostino cardinal Casaroli, secretary of state of the vatican, to
Washington for a White House meeting with Reagan to nail down
plans for the formal relations to begin.
Let's digress for a moment and review some of the history of U.S.
diplomatic relations with the holy see. The U.S. had consular
relations with the area of Italy known then as the "papal states" from
1797 to 1848. It was not until 1848 that diplomatic relations with the
pope himself, in his capacity as head of those papal states, began
during the administration of president James K. Polk. Those diplomatic relations continued through the administrations of Polk and the
next six presidents when it ended during the administration of
Andrew Johnson in 1867. The breaking point was a Senate vote in
1867 to cut all funding for the maintenance of a diplomatic mission in
Rome with the pope. That Senate vote was not an isolated incident in
American history.
The pope had openly taken the side of the South during the Civil
War for starters. President Andrew Johnson had come into office on
the heels of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and everyone
connected with the assassination "conspiracy" had been a roman
catholic. Thus anticatholic feeling in the Senate was at a peak. There
was much speculation at the time that Lincoln's assassination had
been a catholic plot. One of the "conspirators" was allegedly given
refuge in Canada through the catholic church and escaped from there
to England and finally to Rome. He stayed at the vatican for a number
of years while U.S. authorities tried to extradite him.
From about 1830 to the time of the Civil War there had been a
history of violent reaction by a largely protestant America to the great
numbers of immigrants, particularly Irish roman catholics fleeing the
potato famine in Ireland. This strong anticatholic strain was similar in
some respects to our present day concerns over catholic Hispanic
and Black immigrations from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and
predominantly catholic Vietnamese refugee immigrations. Americans were concerned over job competition and other issues in
industrializing America of the 1830s. In 1834 Samuel F.B. Morse,
inventor of the telegraph, published a book entitled Foreign Conspiracy against the Liberties of the United States. At the same time the
Know-Nothing Party emerged as an anticatholic political reaction,
and riots following their rallies frequently culminated in attacks on
roman catholic churches. One of the worst of those attacks occurred
on August 6th, 1855 in Louisville, Kentucky. It was known in the press
of the day as the "Bloody Monday" election riots. Some 20 persons
were killed that day and extensive property damage was caused in
Louisville. In 1856 the Know-Nothing Party nominated Millard
Fillmore for a second term as president, and with their nominee's
defeat to Franklin Pierce the party became part of history.
President Andrew Jackson had actually been the first U.S. leader
to buck the popular anticatholic immigrant feelings of the time when
he appointed a roman catholic to his cabinet in 1831. That appointee
was Roger Brooke Taney of Maryland. Taney served as attorney
general and later as secretary of the treasury, finally becoming chief
justice of the Supreme Court in 1836. Some of the most reactionary
decisions of the Court in its history came from Taney, who served
longer than any other chief justice.
After 1867 and the break in relations with the U.S. most of the papal

April, 1984

Page 3

states fell to the new kingdom of Italy, and the U.S. had no formal
diplomatic relations with the vatican. The roman catholic church is
the only religious organization in the world with a diplomatic service.
In 1929 Mussolini paid the vatican some $92 million ($2 billion in
1983 dollars) and concluded a treaty with it so that the pope would
give his blessing to fascism, which he did. Later Hitler signed a
concordat with the pope also. Mussolini's treaty was known as the
lateran concordat after st. john lateran, which is the cathedral church
of the pope as bishop of Rome. Since Italy was a roman catholic
country, the pope's blessing on Mussolini's fascist regime was
important. Prior to 1867 the vatican had just been one of the small
warring states of what was to become Italy with an army of its own out
to conquer land like the rest. The $92 million that Mussolini gave the
pope was for his alleged "claims" on lands of the state of Italy
stemming from those early days of feudal conflict.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first U.S. chief
executive in a long time to reestablish relations with the vatican when
he appointed a personal representative to the holy see just two days
before christmas in 1939. Roosevelt was shrewd at the time for
appointing a personal representative and not sending an ambassador,
thereby avoiding the inevitable protestant political uproar over
Senate confirmation. Roosevelt's successor Harry Truman renewed
the appointment but with a great deal more controversy when he
tried to name general Mark Clark as an actual ambassador to the holy
see at first, backing down to personal representative status in the
firestorm of 1951. As a result there was no regular diplomatic contact
with the holy see until 1970. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy (the
only catholic president) and Lyndon Johnson did not have representatives to the pope. In 1970 president Richard Nixon restored the
post of personal representative with no diplomatic status when he
sent Henry Cabot Lodge to Rome as his personal envoy.
Sen. Lugar said that it was the" courageousness of pope John Paul
II" and his view of the vatican as "a sensitive diplomatic forum, a
significant political force for decency in the world" that drew him to
the conclusion that "the time is long overdue" for the U.S. to
recognize the vatican as a "sovereign nation."
Shortly after signing the legislation repealing the 117-year old ban
on federal funds for a diplomatic mission at the holy see, Reagan
appointed William Wilson, 69, a catholic convert, who was already
serving as Reagan's personal representative to the vatican, as
ambassador to the vatican. Wilson is a California businessman,
entrepreneur, real estate developer, rancher and close personal
friend of the Reagans. He has no legitimate qualifications for office as
an ambassador to anything.
Opposition to the idea of diplomatic relations with the holy see
immediately sprang up, particularly from leading protestant groups.
Jerry Falwell, the National Council of Churches, the National
Association of Evangelicals, the Baptist Joint Committee, Americans
United for the Separation of Church and State, and the seventh day
adventists all put their lobbying machines into action to no avail. Their
concerns can be summed up by some press release statements of
Americans United, which is a predominantly baptist group with a long
history of fighting to separate the catholics from the state: "An
exchange of ambassadors between the U.S. and the headquarters of
the roman catholic church clearly grants special status to one
religious faith. Such favoritism could easily lead to rivalry and tension
between religious denominations. The exchange also creates the
potential for government intrusion into the internal affairs of the
catholic church," said the executive director of Americans United.
The catholic church itself, or at least its "old guard," seems to agree
with the latter of the two Americans United objections. In the
christmas week edition of the jesuit magazine America last year, the
question was raised as to whether a vatican pro-nuncio to Washington and a U.S. ambassador to the vatican both might try to influence
the political activities of the church in the U.S.: "There are some
reasons for thinking that the move would be far more helpful to the
State Department than to the catholic church in the United States,"
say the jesuits. The jews, on the other hand, while opposing U.S.vatican ties in principle, along with the protestants, see a possibility of
Page 4

April, 1984

a route to push for vatican recognition of the state of Israel through

the new ambassador's office.
During the week of January 13th of this year, president Reagan
named a new White House liaison to thejewish community. Marshall
Jordan Berger is 37 years old and the first orthodox jew to serve as a
presidential liaison. Berger is a conservative Republican and is
associated with the Heritage Foundation, a neofascist group. You,
the reader, may draw whatever connections you care to from that.
What is wrong with reestablishing diplomatic relations with the
vatican? Plenty. The vatican does not have any legislative. executive
or judicial bodies as do most other "sovereign nations" (as Sen. Lugar
refers to the holy see). There is no method of election to office by any
of the "CItizens" ot the vancan state. While we hear so much about
establishing democracies in Central America, why does our president
out of the other side of his mouth wish to establish relations with an
undemocratic vatican state? Perhaps the best answer to that
question lies in the fact that 1984 is an election year and that roman
catholics have a political history of being able to deliver vote blocks on

"What is wrong with reestablishing diplomatic relations with the vatican? Plenty ....
This is strictly unconstitutional, just as unconstitutional as our continued aid to Israel."
particular issues better than any other religious faction in the nation.
The pope appoints the cardinals, and cardinals then elect one of their
own as pope. There is no constituency of the "government" and
therefore no "government" at all. The vatican is no more than an
enormous office complex and museum rolled into one. No "citizens"
actually live in the vatican to speak of. They live in Rome, Italy and
come to work at the vatican. Ambassador Wilson willneed to live in
Rome as there are no accommodations for any embassies to the
vatican in the vatican. Housing and office space and transportation
around Rome willall have to be provided at taxpayer expense. This is
strictly unconstitutional, just as unconstitutional as our continued aid
to Israel.
Another problem arises with the catholic church that does not
present itself with most of our homespun protestant denominations.
All of the bishops, cardinals, archbishops, monsigneurs and priests
pledge allegiance and fidelity to the pope in order to hold their office
within the church. If the pope is a nation in and of himself, deserving
an ambassador from the U.S., do all of these church officials have
dual citizenships? Are they citizens of both the vatican state and the
United States? Keep in mind when pondering this question that the
vatican is not recognized as a nation by the United Nations, the
world's only international diplomatic body. The vatican is a member
of the N.G.O. (Non-Governmental Organizations) group of entities
with observers to the U.N. only, who are not allowed to vote or
participate in any "official" way in U.N. deliberations. At the time of
the formation of the state of Israel that political entity gave every jew
in the world citizenship. There is joint citizenship between Israel and
the U.S. for every jew and until now that relationship has not existed
with any other nation. If someone is the child of an American citizen,
but born in Italy, at the age of maturity that child has the right to
choose the country to which it wants citizenship attachment. Willthis
be the case for Rome, with the adherents to the roman catholic
church being flung out in every other nation? To whom willthey pay
taxes? Rome or the U.S.?
The whole purpose of repealing the 117-year old law was to remove
the problem of a statute prohibiting any monetary involvement in
representation of the U.S. at the vatican so that a salary could be
attached to the job. The salary is the essential difference between a
personal envoy and an ambassador. It is also the salary, or
expenditure of taxpayer funds to aid religion, that the Supreme Court
has determined over and over again to be a vital link in establishing a
separation of state and church First Amendment violation. Americans United, as a baptist group, vowed earlier this year to take the
The American Atheist

matter to federal court if Wilson is confirmed by the Senate. Perhaps

the Supreme Court will have its say on the constitutionality of
taxpayer funds going to pay the salary of an ambassador to a religious
I really don't think that the church at Rome has to worry about U.S.
government interference within the church, as the jesuits have
surmised. The worry is of church influence in the government of the
United States. In November of 1983 the vatican issued first a "Charter
of Family Rights" which proposed payments for parents who want to
stay home to raise their children and attacked any efforts to force
them to have small families. Ifthat is not direct church interference in
U.S. government, what is? The vatican can issue direct orders from
outside the U.S. to its adherents in the U.S. to stump for or vote for
this or that change in internal U.S. policy designed to make it meet
church biblical standards. Late in November of '83 the vatican made
public its revised laws. These laws, among other things, banned
priests and nuns from politics; that is, from taking a direct role in
politics. The code prohibits priests and nuns from holding public
office or actively engaging in union and/or political activities. Meanwhile, the pope, on a higher level, is intimately involved in geopolitics.
The church seems to be consolidating the power to influence
legislation into the hands of the bishops and cardinals and those of
higher station within the church. This gives the pope more direct
control over the direction of that policy with a smaller number of
faithful troops to keep track of.
The objection of American Atheists to fulldiplomatic relations with
the vatican is based firmly on the proposition that r~ligion in America
ought to be a private affair and that govern merit's proper place is to
remain neutral with respect to religion. We object, therefore, to
official relations with any theocratic state whether that be Israel, the
vatican, Iran, or any other.




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We also object to the use of funding, derived from all taxpayers,

being used to provide for relations with an entity such as the vatican
which provides no useful temporal aid to anyone or any nation. The
only thing the roman catholic church accomplishes, like any other
church, is to instill fear and a sense of self-degradation into its
followers, making it hard for them to rationally cope with the
problems of life at hand in a 20th century world community. Through
the expedient of an election year bid for catholic votes we are tying
ourselves as a "supposed- to-be" religiously neutral state into perpetual support of a dogmatic thought system whose leader sees
himself as the head of a body militant in the struggle between
christianity and the "materialism engulfing the world."
This is the same kind of rhetoric we hear daily from the Reagan
administration. The kind of thinking that reduces all the world's illsto
the black-and-white struggle between "good" and "evil" is the kind of
thinking of which global conflict has always been made. Instead of
establishing relations with the chief entity that supports that kind of
thinking today, we need as a nation to be turning our vast educational
and technological resources toward curing those "evils" instead of
supporting an institution dedicated to making them disappear by the
will of god, and if that does not work, the bomb.
At the time that I took part in the first world picket of a pope in
Chicago in October of 1979 I was on a radio talk show in that city in
which I called John Paul II the "pimp of peace." I have no reason to
change my opinion now some five years later. He is the protector and
provider for the world's largest troop of prostitutes, both male and
female, who run about pandering ignorance in trade for intellectual
freedom. Now my government has chosen to establish diplomatic
relations with a pimp. I know the votes in one election for a soon-tobe-forgotten-with-the-rest old man are not worth it. ~


S .~_








Austin, Texas

April, 1984


John Crump


John Crump has been for many years for American Atheists "Our Man in Kentucky." He is one of
half a dozen persons in this century to have been discharged from his employment and blacklisted
because of his Atheism. He has been the Kentucky Chapter Director for ten years, a Lexington Chapter
Director, and Director of University Student Atheists at the University of Kentucky.
John is also the only song writer in the U.S.A. to have pressed a record of Atheist songs. He will be a
principal host to the 14th Annual National American Atheist Convention in Lexington, Ky. in April, '84.

"While now in sound mind and body, I make these
declarations of faith. I do not believe in the existence of any god,
or in the christian heaven or hell. Ifsuch a being as Jesus christ
existed, he was human like ourselves. I make these declarations now, knowing that when a man gets old his body gets
feeble and his mind is impaired in the same ratio, and at such
times he should not be held accountable for anything he may
say, or for any retraction of his faith that he may make. I want it
understood that these declarations stand as my final expression of faith." - published a few months before the death
of c.c. Moore
he history of the rise and fallof human religion is still unfolding.
Some distant future author will dictate the final definitive
analysis long after our carbon-based bodies have dissolved
into the ambiguity of time.
But the trail from the pits of religion to the garden of reason can be
viewed within the lives of great individuals, and the life story of
Charles Chilton Moore is one of the most fascinating panoramas I've
ever witnessed.
He was born near Lexington, Kentucky on the 20th of December,
1837.He was a descendant of one of the most distinguished families of
early Kentucky. The family tree was rooted in the old nobility of
England and Scotland. On one branch sat the duke of Argyle and on
another, the earl of Surrey. His American ancestors were noted
figures in the Revolutionary War.
His mother, Maryanne Harrison Stone, was a daughter of Barton
Warren Stone, a Kentucky revivalist and founder of the christian
church. Moore's father, Charles Chilton Moore, Sr., came to
Kentucky from Virginia.

Page 6

April, 1984

High quality early education has never been readily available in

Kentucky but c.c. Moore, Jr., was born to a family of moderate
wealth and so he was educated with the Simralls, the Breckinridges,
the Castlemans and other members of the social elite.
He attended Transylvania University and Bethany College in
Virginia. In 1856 he graduated from Bethany and was ordained into
the christian ministry by Alexander Campbell who had merged his
church with that of Moore's grandfather.
For several years he traveled on foot through the mountains of
Kentucky, preaching religion and encountering the heresy and
scepticism of Kentucky freethinkers.
"I was fresh from college and loved the natural sciences, and
the people listened with great interest to what I told them about
botany, zoology, astronomy, and especially about geology,
their country abounding in most wonderful geological phenomena.1t was geology in these mountains that had much to do
with my subsequent abandonment of the ministry. I was
wonderfully impressed by the conglomerates that I found on
the tops of those mountains. Here were great masses of
pebbles, as hard as flint, that had evidently been rolled in the
sand and water for ages, and of course it indicated to me that
the tops of these mountains had once been the bed of the sea,
and what Hugh Miller called the 'testimony of the rocks' as to
the age of the earth seemed to be in hopeless conflict with the
chronology of the bible."
Several months later in Lexington he met William J. Hatch, a
confederate soldier and a student of theology. Together they
determined to investigate religion and related subjects. Moore
accepted the pastorate of the christian church at Versailles, near
Lexington, and persuaded Hatch to be baptized. Their studies
together had already resulted in Moore's discardment of the old
testament and soon thereafter he found that he no longer believed in
any of the fundamentals of christianity.
"One day I went into the pulpit and preached a sermon, and
at its close, with no explanation to anybody, closed the bible,
picked up my hat and walked out the front door of the church.
That evening I called the officers of my church together and
explained to them that I had quit preaching because I had
become sceptical as to the truth of the bible. I had never read
any infidel book or infidel paper, and the name of Ingersoll had
never been heard of."
He never preached again. He traveled to England and Paris and
intended to see Palestine but returned from Paris upon becoming
homesick. Coincidentally, upon his return he learned of the death of
his sister, Alice, and consoled his mother. On February 14th, 1867, he
married Lucy Peak of Georgetown, Kentucky.
For the next several years he worked in various fields bookkeeper, farmer, secretary of a railroad syndicate, flour mill
operator. He soon found his way into print with an article intended as
political satire on the "Edibility of Crows." "A Lay Sermon to
Preachers," which was published in the Lexington Daily Press, cost
editor Jesse Woodruff his position but brought Moore literary tame.
Until 1877 he would find himself working as a reporter or editor for the
Daily Press or the Daily Transcript. When one paper would discharge
him for some article he would print, the other would immediately offer
The American Atheist

him employment. His writings would anger the local preachers and
their sheep, but no one wanted to miss a printed word from his pen.
He left his journalism career for 18 months to work as a traveling
salesman for a coffee company, and when he returned to his writing
he found the press to be under stricter control by the local pulpit. But
this was America, land of the free press to anyone who could afford a
"One night in 1884, as I was walking home from Lexington,
and was about two miles from the city, and was feeling
disgusted with the way newspapers pandered to the pulpit and
the saloon, it occurred to me that I ought to start a paper of my
own. In five minutes the suggestion matured into a determination, and I began to think of a name for the paper, and in
less than a minute the name Blue Grass Blade occurred to me;
my purpose being to have the name a play on a blade of
bluegrass and a sort of metaphoric Damascus blade."
His merciless assaults on political conditions and religious
hypocrisy brought the Blade a large circulation and brought the editor
threats, harassment, and several times actual physical assaults on the
streets of Lexington. When he dared to publish the story of a church
scandal in his paper, he was fined $100 and sent to jail in Paris,
Kentucky A few years later he was charged with blasphemy against
the holey (sic) ghost, but judge Watts Parker concluded that "in the
case of the laws of a country enjoying absolute religious freedom,
there is no place for the common law crime of blasphemy. Unsuited to
the spirit of the age, its enforcement would be in contravention of the
Constitution of the state, and the crime must be considered a
stranger to the laws of Kentucky."
The Rational View, published In 1890,was Moore's first book, Each
of his three books are strikingly different. The first was a serious
attack on supernaturalism within the christian religion. It is a good
companion to Thomas Paine's Age of Reason, His second book
resulted from his imprisonment in 1899 in the federal penitentiary in
Columbus, Ohio on a two-year sentence for sending obscene matter
through the mails, namely the Blue Grass Blade. His many subscribers and personal friends petitioned in his behalf and after serving
five months he was granted a full pardon by president William
McKinley. The result of the fivemonths in prison was Behind the Bars;
31498, the figures being his prison number. Autobiographical, it is rich
with the history of the 19th century Kentucky and will be of great
interest to book dealers and historical societies when republished by
American Atheist Press. Dog Fennel in the Orient is a Mark Twain



"In abandoning the christian religion, I felt that it would

subject me to many disadvantages, but all the time there was
the consciousness that I was livingup to my honest convictions
and a strong belief that the time would come when many
intelligent and good people would honor me for my courage,
and these sustained me in my new departure."
"Sultans and popes and kings and presidents and priests and
preachers all get rich and the masses of the people all get poor,
in exactly the ratio of the amount of religion among them. I am
not a socialist, though some of their principles are right, but I
tell you that under this whole infernal business there is burning
a socialistic volcano that some of these days ... willthrow out a
lot of hot stuff that willbury this alliance of political and religious
rottenness so deep that Herculaneum and Pompeii and
Martinique will not be a circumstance."
"The only thing that keeps the christian religion from being
ludicrous is the crime and ignorance and outrage of allcommon
sense and justice that are practiced in its name."
"In history, as in everything else, the biggest liars in the world
are those who most strenuously assert their own veracity."
Austin, Texas

style account of his journey to the Mediterranean countries in 1903.

All three books will be available at the American Atheist
Convention in Lexington but a few excerpts from Dog Fennel will
show why we willbe honoring Charles Chilton Moore as an American
"It is a great injustice in this government, that claims to put
no man at any advantage or disadvantage on account of any
belief or disbelief about religion, that it requires its citizens to
sign their names on passports under the words "So help me
god," when there are among the citizens of this country as good
men - and I would say women, if this government would do
itself the honor to admit women to citizenship - as were ever
born who do not believe in a god; and while it is possible that an
Atheist may sign his name under this invocation, regarding god
simply as a myth, and just as if the government had sworn him
by the jupiter, whose great temple we saw at Athens, it is, to say
the least of it, embarrassing to any conscientious gentleman,
and inconsistent in the government that knows that our
penitentiaries are filled with criminals who believe in god, and
that among the last words spoken by nearly every man who is
hanged is his expressed willingness to meet his god.
"In the pictures of the saints of Rome it is, of course, easy to
paint around and over the head of each a hoop that stands up in
the air, with nothing to hold it, but in the statuary that hoop
won't stand up in the air and so each saint has a rod of iron
sticking up out of his back hair to hold his hoop up, the
supposition of the church being that no true believer will ever
be so sacrilegious as to go around behind things in theology to
see how they are managed.
"Traveling ought to make us wiser, and being wiser ought to
make us better, and being better is the only way of making
ourselves happier, which is the only true purpose of all
intelligent life."
Charles Chilton Moore died February 7th, 1906. He is buried in the
beautiful Lexington Cemetery near the grave of Henry Clay. His
epitaph reads "Write me as one who loves his fellow man." The Blue
Grass Blade continued under the leadership of James E. Hughes until
1909. Thanks to the efforts of the Lexington Chapter of American
Atheists, four rolls of microfilm of the Blade are now preserved at the
University of Kentucky library. Thanks to Charles Chilton Moore and
other courageous freethinkers, we can all take pride in our American
Atheist heritage. ~

"A most important - probably the most important - thing

now for American naturalists and scientists to do is to repress
the unscientific fools and religious bigots and hypocritical and
licentious judges that have charge of the information on sexual
affairs who are keeping secret the most important matters
regarding the laws of health, in their ignorance and stupidity,
regarding 'obscene literature,' and to put in the places of all
such people, scientists and moralists and specialists in this
department who will, supported and encouraged by this
government, give to the people at nominal rates of cost, or free,
as our agricultural reports are given, the proper information on
this important question."

"I long for the day when the world will build monuments to
men who save the lives of their fellow men instead of to military
chieftains who destroy the lives of their fellow men, as is now
the custom."
"I think about Limburger cheese somewhat as I do about
smoking. No man ought to eat it unless he is willing to go out
into a large field and sit on a stump while he eats it and stay
there until the wind drives away the smell.... "

Page 7

"Politics is the fine art of perverting the will of the people."

"Religions grow up and rot down like weeds."

"If the church had its way, every man and woman would be
made a devout worshiper at the shrine of its christ, not by love,
but by due process of law."

"The pursuit of life,liberty, and happiness, implying the right

of locomotion and the right to breathe the unpolluted air, is the
inalienable right of every freeman."

"The surest method of testing the value of religion is to cast it

into the crucible where every assumption of science is tried by
fire, and ifit be true it willcome forth clothed with the deathless
splendor, otherwise, relegate it to the rubbish heap."

"In this country the christian church has become stuck in the
Serbonian bogs of a brainless bigotry." ~








.: I



Page 8


rom time to time we see stories in the press about a piece of cloth
called the "Shroud of Turin, allegedly the burial shroud of one
Joshua of Nazareth. Now I know what you must be thinking: who the
hell is Joshua of Nazareth? Perhaps you'll recognize his Greek name;
it's Jesus. Sound familiar? He's the good jewish boy whose parents
kept kvetching at him that he should get into the religion business.
Why even on his father's knee it's reported his first words were ...
"tax exempt"; and this at the tender age of twenty-five.
Stories tell the rest. He put together a first rate disappearingreappearing act, thrilled audiences in Jerusalem who were comprised
almost entirely of people who'd believe anything they were told, and
eventually retired to watch the spectacle unfold (some say he even
ascended to new, totally unbelievable heights).
Big deal, you say?
Ah, but the spectacle goes on, the only show to run longer than
General Hospital and Gunsmoke combined! Nowadays much of the
flap-doodle concerns the so-called shroud of Turin. Because of the
press coverage its "miraculous" qualities are by now well-known to
believers and nonbelievers alike, rich and poor, beggar and prince,
nun and priest, and every relic peddler from here to the catacombs.
Recent scientific discoveries, however, are said to be revealing
another side of this man with a messianic consciousness.
For instance, are you aware of the fact that in one corner of this
shroud there's an imprint of his AMA card which expired a full
twenty-four hours before the crucifixion? This, of course, has helped
scholars explain the age-old mystery of why Jesus was dispatched so
quickly: even in those days practicing medicine without a license was
definitely a no-no.

In another corner of the shroud scientists were thrilled to find the

heretofore top-secret, classified blueprints .for a set of inflatable
water-walkers, available in decorator colors and sale priced to sell for
only seven shekels while supplies last. So hurry, hurry, hurry.
And wouldn't you know, there's more. Evidence of how practical
Jesus was can be seen in his instructions on how to create the illusion

April, 1984

The American Atheist

of satisfying five thousand hungry souls merely by lunching in fields

where the right kinds of mushrooms grow.
And finally the new studies have also revealed how horribly
withered and dried his lips became, presumably from years of
reverently kissing his prayer shawl and then shouting at the
schlockers in the temple booths. The importance of this piece of
information must not be overlooked. It has helped scholars explain
why, in the little known Russian orthodox gospel of Goldstein, the
7'2" chastity belt maker from Minsk, Jesus' last reported words were:
"Oy, if only I would have had the chapstick concession during
passover, I would have made a killing instead of being a killing." The
English translation is roughly this: "How can anyone with half a brain
have the audacity to idolize a worthless rag?"
Sobering thoughts indeed, and this reporter hasn't even had a
drink yet. But now, thanks to the many years of patient efforts of a
certain Bantu Eskimo scholar with unimpeachable credentials (how's
this for unimpeachable? - he's a distant cousin of Richard Nixonl)
reports of other shrouds are surfacing faster than jewish military
personnel around a squadron of F-16s. A manuscript has come into
this reporter's possession which details the existence of no less than
five other equally miraculous shrouds.
Amazing you say?
Not really, I say. Bantu Eskimos are more common than
Zimbabwean brontosauruses.
My colleagues and I have spent the last five years painstakingly
verifying the Eskimo's astonishing results, and we now wish to put all
rumor to rest. We've decided to publish out 'findings which
intrinsically have a two-fold purpose: (1) to establish beyond a shadow
of a doubt that god exists, and (2) to provide a needed shot in the arm
to our sagging little relic business that we've got going on the side, It's
indeed time for the world to accept the fact that there are indeed
other miraculous shrouds besides the shroud of Turin.


It was reported by Varro, one of ancient Rome's wisest men and the
author of the neoclassic 1001 Neat Tricks with a Knotted Silken
Scarf, that a certain military hero by the name of General Para Noid
was the most famous Asian general of antiquity. Until only recently
the whereabouts of the general's tomb had remained a complete and
total mystery for well over three thousand years. As one respected
archeologist is reported to have mused while shrugging his shoulders,
"Who knew from nutin'?".
Then came a miracle. It all began when a thirty year old easter
bunny happened to fallinto a ravine in the central Zagros mountains .
.As it was gracefully ricocheting to oblivion down the mountainside, a
nearby shepherdboy, busying himself with trying to find the 1002nd
neat trick with a knotted silken scarf, noticed that a small passageway
had been opened up. As recognition of this divine intervention, he
immediately named the ravine Om-bebe, which is usually translated
as "scarf what brings many smiles to face." Of course, upon
investigation the body in the tomb had long since turned to dust, but
the 100% olive drab army blanket, within which the general had been
so meticulously wrapped that it could still bounce a quarter, had
unaccountably been preserved. It has since become a wealth of
information about the man known to antiquity as the father of foreign
General Para Noid, it seems, was a man who had the courage and
the foresight to form a plan. Electron microscope analysis by a vast
array of highly sophisticated electrons and three emeritus micros
discovered that once, while immersed in a mystic trance, the general
was moved by the spirit of a mulberry bush to form a plan to end all
wars. Unless every female under fifteen spent at least two days
flossing his brass dentures, the entire human race was to be
annihilated by inhaling supercooled whale gas. Now granted, to our
Austin, Texas

modern ears this may sound just a wee bit eccentric (ifnot downright
nauseous), but the logic behind the plan could only have been
metaphysically inspired: how the hell can there be a war ifthere are no
people to fight it?
Miraculously the shroud has also preserved some of the general's
rather bizarre anatomical features:
1. His famous bulldog-shaped jaw and chin (Even drool stains
were found under infrared radiation, another fine tribute to the
scientific tradition that's brought us such spiritually unlifting
events like Hiroshima and the electric church.).
2. His still-open mouth, caught forever in the noble act of
commanding, as if saying for the last time - "All right, you
dickheads, lock and load one five pound sack of your best
mammoth dung."
3. The rock steady gaze of the eyes that seem to infuse the
entire shroud with a faint reddish hue (hence the origin of the
phrase "red hueing").
4. The absence of all neck vertebrae which legend says was
the cause of his one recurring nightmare: his being attacked by
fifty thousand Mongols who swore a sacred oath to circumnavigate the globe with the insides of the general's still-attached
5. His massive chest which in life supported a huge array of
medals. Those distinguished through very methodical and
detailed work thus far include:
a. two Distinguished Serpent Throwing medals (If you
think it's easy, try it sometjme.)
b. the much revered Star of the Poison Ivy Hammer.
c. three Loco Weed Chewing Crosses
d. two Special Mentions for Lewd and Licentious
Behavior with the Army's Pack Animals
e. and the medical corps' Special Commendation
Award for Responding to the Treatment for Bovine Clap.
6. And last, but certainly not least, the shroud has revealed
the general's massive podiacal appendages. Said one seriousminded scientist, "Whew! This guy's feet were so big he could
have walked across a sea of alligators and never even busted a
To this very day there are some who're still searching for clues that
might substantiate the claim that the general himself, rather than
aliens from the far side of Newark, was in fact the original model for
inflatable water-walkers that have long since been the pride of relic
seekers the world over. If so, there seems little doubt that the very
roots of this country's corporate socialism can be traced directly batk
to this most famous general of antiquity; and believe me, folks, deep
down inside there's a tremendous feeling of satisfaction that comes
with knowing thousands of bits and pieces of school-inspired trivia
just like this.

Our second example of the miraculous revolves around the
legends that have circulated for centuries on the continent of
Australia. These concern themselves with an ancient wise man who,
natives insist, had in fact unlocked the long-sought ultimate secret of
the universe, a secret said known only to god and Slapsie Maxie
Rosenbloom. Naturally, local scientists around the small outback
village of Yourassh remained skeptical until one hot afternoon in
December, 1954.
On christmas day one of the local scientists took his pet kangaroo
out for some exercise. They must have frolicked for hours, playing
their usual game of Go Fetch with a boomerang. Just as the animal
was nearing the point of unconsciousness its pouch-carried Geiger
Counter started clicking off a rendition of the Sons of the Pioneers'
"Oh Bury Me Not on the Fusion Dome." The scientist's pulse

Page 9

quickened; it was one of his favorite songs. After a while, though, he

decided to investigate. His boredom eventually turned to dismay as
he learned that that was the only song it played. In an uncharacteristic
fit of rage he took the machine and flung it down; there then occurred
an event which can only be explained by the intercession of some
spiritual force - it's either that or believing in the easter bunny, so
take your choice. At the precise instant that the counter hit the
ground it revealed a smallish opening.
Quickly he grabbed the exhausted kangaroo and pushed him into
the small slit, carefully counting the number of seconds it took for the
Damn! - too high on the canvas.
Hey. Bob. Let's go find a
human-like subject to pose.

animal to hit bottom. Soon after the screams of agony had faded he
meticulously started excavating what was to become the tomb of the
world's first nuclear physicist. According to inscriptions still aglow in
dark blue on one wall, he was called Phoof, and so rather logically has
come to be known as Phoof of Yourassh, the world's first nuclear
After being kept a closely guarded secret by the scientific
community (and also the SPCA) scientists are now absolutely certain
that no human has entered the tomb for more than fifteen thousand
years. What led to this amazing conclusion? Simple. All the gold was
still in the tomb.
Because the beautifully iridescent shroud is to this day still emitting
huge quantities of every electromagnetic frequency from Anabelle to
Zelda it's become, shall we say, just a wee bit awkward to study; it
seems that just before the researchers keel over, their skins turn a
color just this side of Zairean Pygmy, and their toes twitch to the
strains of Spike Jones' You Always Hurt the One You Love.
Eventually, however, this problem was solved when it was decided to
import Zairean Pygmies to start with. Slowly, as their teeth mutated
into Voit basketballs, the shroud's secret became known.
Among other things it was discovered that Phoof was only three
feet. Some say this could possibly be the result of his daily afternoon
game of plutonium ping pong, but there are those who dispute this.
One leisure-suited scientist who was hoping to win a grant told this
reporter, "There may be many reasons his body took on the form of
Page 10


three feet. We may be looking at a similar situation to that of the

dinosaurs dying out at the end of the Mesozoic Era." He then
proceeded to put on a tutu and pirouette from the room.
There's another interesting fact, too. It seems that towards the end
of his ping pong playing days, every pore in Phoof's tiny body became
somewhat irregular. As one bespectacled doctor described it after
looking up from his microscope, ."Every pore looks like a cross
between Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase and
Salvadore Dali's Soft Construction with Boiled Beans; Premonition
of the Civil War.
I asked if he couldn't be more specific; he said some of his
colleagues were working over a model and that he couldn't wait until it
was his turn.
But without a doubt the greatest miracle of all is the very fact of the
shroud's existence. Calculating the normal half-lives of the radiations
present, all indicators point to the shroud's utter and complete
annihilation thousands of years ago. The only viable explanation to
date is that some powerful force - say it's spiritual when you can't
think of anything else - allowed Phoof to stumble on the ultimate
secret of the universe, either that or he invented the world's finest
polyester yet known to man. The question is still being debated in the
scientific community as well as in the real estate offices of the electric
By sheer accident I overheard one young physicist in conversation
say, "There's just no telling about these spin-offs. One day your balls
fall off from radiation poisoning, the next day it's K-Mart. Life's like
Regardless of the outcome Phoof himself isn't saying. His cute little
toothless smile just quietly keeps radiating into space, as if his last
words uttered on the face of the earth were, "What - me worry?"

This next shroud story has, within the span of a few short years,
become a classic example of the highly sophisticated and technical art
of scientific reasoning.
In the late summer of 1973 a tomb was unearthed on one of the
small islands in the Tierra Del Fuego group. As the team of
excavators meticulously made their way through a four foot door of
solid gold, their immediate hypothesis was that they'd found the
treasure-laden tomb of a long lost Egyptian pharaoh who, records
indicate, was blown off course as he sailed up the Nile. Come to think
of it, no one ever said the Egyptians were good navigators.
As the team of scientists proceeded with the investigation, orle
researcher came to challenge the initial hypothesis of an Egyptian
pharaoh. His colleagues reacted like typical men of science - they
listened calmly; and then while most looked the other way, one man
took a pruning hook and proceeded to extract the last two feet of the
researcher's colon. Even after the cheers subsided there was no
denying that another hypothesis was plausible. Because one of the
only occupations more profitable than royalty is usually that of
politician, the stage was set for one of the two most dramatic
moments in the life of a scientist - conflicting hypotheses (while the
other is, of course, the thrilling act of wife-swapping).
Obviously in such circumstances the name of the tomb's occupant
becomes extremely important. Names like Otho, Rambunctious,
Oratorio, Miltiades, and Clyde would naturally favor the royalty.
hypothesis, either that or we've just been introduced to the latest
edition of the Harlem Globetrotters. And names like American,
Whiplash, Snake, Pigsticker, and Bullwinkle would naturally tend to
favor the politician hypothesis, or else we're watching Monday Night
Football. But interestingly enough, when deciphered the man was
called Fleecemlikehell.
Now it's precisely at this point, as you may have guessed, that the
sophisticated reasoning comes in. Many in the scientific community
staunchly maintain that a name like that all but confirms the politician
The American Atheist

hypothesis. They point out, and rightly so, that politicians have been
fleecing 'em for eons, or at least since Warren Harding.
The opposition, however, was sticking with the idea of royalty. This
reporter was there when this idea was put forth. It was a lavish
production. Their logic was just as impeccable as the three inch spike
heels and bullwhips. They maintained that anyone with a name like
Fleecemlikehell could just as easily have been royalty. Amidst whip
sounds resembling a fifty caliber machine gun they pointed out in
three part harmony that there was certainly abundant evidence to
suggest that royalty had had its hands in the economic cookie jar just
as long as any politician, probably even longer.


Then came the grand finale. Three women, each suffering from a
case of terminal macromastia, jumped up and told the audience that
up until a short time ago the only way to tell the difference between a
king and a politician was discovering where they kept their mistresses
- kings using castles and politicians using bordellos. It was clear and
concise Divorce Court logic like this that kept the controversies' pot
boiling long after most had ceased listening or caring.
But the battle raged on. More evidence was presented and more
bullwhips cracked. Mystery enveloped Fleecemlikehell's unusual
1. For instance, housed within his massive Neanderthal-like jaw
scientists found no less than five distinct tongue imprints. Immediately the royalists insisted that this supported their point of view.
They interpreted this as a divine intervention to alter the mastication
through spiritualistic machination. Talk like this did in fact manage to
gain a few more converts to the royalist position, but then again ifyou
jump up in any crowded room and start screaming that the sky is
fallingyou're almost certain to find four people who immediately fling
open their umbrellas.
Royalists also argued that having five tongues was a true miracle
and reiterated the theory of the divine right of kings as proof. A highly
technical recording called "Speaking Mystical Gibberish in Tongues,"
by the religious trio God, was also played for the group. And finallythe
evening's festivities were ended with the thought that only god (not
the band) would want a king to be able to verbally castrate and
psychologically belittle any and all members of the royal family
The politicianists, on the other hand, weren't to be outmachinegunned (or outlCBMed, either). They were quick to produce a map
that purportedly showed the division of Fleecem's land into five
Said one scientist, "Think of the advantages this type of mutation
would give a politician. Not only would he have been able to use a
different tongue and thus give a different speech in each district (as
was the custom before television was invented), but the potential for
Austin, Texas

filibuster would be astronomical, not to mention talking with a forked

2. Another piece of controversial evidence is the massive hands of
the man. In fact he was found still holding one five gallon container of
gold in each hand. So secure were they that it took scientists two full
months just to pry one out of his grip, even though he'd been dead for
over seventeen thousand years; the second one is still held fast. To
this day no one knows why or how, so they go ahead and call it a
Royalists immediately pointed to this fact as proof positive that
Fleecem was kingly. Indeed, who ever heard of a politician holding
onto any money. Besides, everyone knew politicians were notorious
for taking it away from those who had worked for it and giving it to
those who didn't.
As usual, however, the opposition was quick to refill their glasses.
They took exception to the assumption that politicians were too free
and loose with money. They didn't at all like that particular stereotype
and would have rather preferred a cassette deck rather than a
stereotype. They maintained that with their own money politicians
were usually just as miserly as anyone else; the problem was
apparently with others' money. (For this I gave half a point to the
3. And lastly the shroud revealed a third piece of controversial
information. It's the existence of what looks like a giant tattoo
spanning the entire width of Fleecem's chest. For years it mystified
tattoo experts the world over, even Herve Villechaize. Then one day
a Namibian dwarf on sabbatical leave from the Hong Kong Car Wash
and Prophylactic Stand suggested applying a dilute solution of
Kentucky Fried Chicken and mashed kumquats. The results were at
first dazzling, and then nauseous. According to the dwarf it showed
five maidens, two surrounding each of Fleecem's pectorals, flashing
piranha teeth and poised to bite, while in the middle was depicted a
female posterior with the words "Five Gallons" printed on each
cheek. Of course, there are some in the scientific community who
insist they're only four and a half gallons, while those of a more liberal
persuasion say they're six if they're a gallon. I'm told that it's life or
death controversies like this that helps make scientific research what
it is today.
At any rate one thing's for certain: neither Fleecem nor the woman
care one way or the other, for over in one corner of the tomb this
reporter found the following inscription - "I love it best, Fleecem
baby, when you grab my cheeks and start waggin' your tongues." And
it's signed, "Orgasmically yours, Ten Gallons."
And which hypothesis is right? Was Fleecem a king or a politician?
Does god exist or are there only priests scattered here and there?
Like anything else in life you pays your money and you takes your


Because this reporter helped solve this next shroud puzzle it's
become one of my favorites.
During the 1960s, when LBJ's generals kept saying, "It's going to
work, sir, it's going to work," and the Viet Cong kept saying, "Rots a
Ruck, Joe," two old prospectors out for a Sunday hike unearthed one
of the most baffling of all recent shroud finds. It occurred in the
mountains just outside the town of Aspen, Colorado.
When the prospectors first discovered the well-preserved burial
shroud, they immediately started retracing their steps, making sure
not to disturb anything. In a short time they were back again in their
favorite saloon.
Quickly the word spread; in just two short days someone reached a
level of consciousness capable of notifying some real experts. From
there it was all downhill; it took just three more days to sober up the
experts and the adventure had begun.
According to first hand information, the body lay on a pyre of El

April, 1984

Page 11

Primo Panamanian marijuana, but before any of it could be disturbed

other things had to be meticulously recorded and catalogued. One of
these was a needlelike instrument. This in turn fitted into a long hose
which led to a container suspended from the ceiling of the tomb.
Within a matter of hours all the more marketable contents of the
tomb were on its way back to the saloon where the experts said the
atmosphere was more conducive to scientific research. (And who
ever said that science has become isolated from the masses?)
What they did was subject the questionable solution found in the
tomb to a very controlled and exacting experiment, and as the story
goes, there was absolutely no problem finding volunteers that night.
From the over seven hundred volunteers a hard core group of three
hundred fiftyrefused to take "no" for an answer, and so were selected
as the experimenters; a second group of two seventy-five year old
comatose women was the less fortunate control group.

The experiment then ran its course, and after two weeks most of
the experimenters were released from their oxygen tents. They were
then thoroughly examined. Modern technology was called in. A
computer was used to speed up the results. It seems almost everyone
tried moving their lips to ask the same question - Wow! What the
hell was in that stuff?
When the lab report came back, it listed the following ingredients
and their percentages:
1. "Red Giant" cocaine - 10%
2. Black Indian "Moonwalker" hashish - 10%
3. "Happy Hunting Grounds" peyote - 20%
4. "See Y'all Later" opium -30%
5. A base of "Goodnight" ether - 30%
6. all strained through the five year old garter belts of ten
local strippers (hence the phrase "Five and Ten")
Said one old miner with whiskers down to his waist, "We haven't
seen such potency around here since Mavis Culpepper took on the
entire male population of the Ute Indian nation back in the winter of
'94. No sirree bub, after that them Injuns was complete and total
convinced we was crazier than them."
Evidently our shrouded guru was preparing himself to lose all
contact with reality, which naturally led some to hypothesize a
spiritualistic interpretation. Why did the shroud preserve all this?
Was it the will of god that man should know the difference between
good and evil drugs? Was this the hidden message behind the myth of
Adam and Eve? Was Eve really the first psychological pharmacist?
For a few brief electrifying seconds public opinion galvanized, but
quickly faded.
Other ideas were suggested. Said one retired doctor, "Aw hell, I
cain't fer the life a me figur out what awl da fus iz about; tain't nutin'
but a common ord'nary grave fer one a da local rich kids, dat's awl."
This reporter still wasn't convinced. I'm almost never impressed
with the commonplace, and totally repulsed by masculine women. I
Page 12

April, 1984

decided to strike out on my own, and I assure you I've had some
success. I studied the evidence firsthand; during the experiment it felt
as if I'd traveled to another galaxy and back while listening to the
melodic strains of Tom Lehrer's "Vatican Rag," but I really couldn't
be sure of anything.
I returned to the cave. Carefully I folded the shroud and brought it
to the newly established Aspen State Teacher's College. I learned two
interesting facts: 1. the shroud was indeed authentic, and 2.
masculine women felt about the same about me.
More information was needed. Carbon-14 dating was tried', but we
just never did hit it off. She wanted to make mad, passionate wild love
while riding on a Ferris wheel, and I really wanted to give her a
pedicure with a jackhammer. Finally we made some headway.
Evidence placed the shroud somewhere within the Cenozoic Era,
which meant that in all probability it antedated Dwight Eisenhower,
but wasn't much older than the last seventy-million year old fossilized
turtle turd.
The shroud's well-preserved imprints were also studied. Severe
deterioration of the nostrils was evident, which may have been
caused by the contents of the three empty "Red Giant" cocaine
baggies. The eyes too left their imprint on the shroud, although to this
day no one knows how or why. The small round marks revealed a
tremendously large quantity of mescaline, the psychotropic ingredient of peyote. After a friend cut out these portions of the shroud
he offered one tab to me. I thanked him but declined, and also noted
that this was probably the first occurrence of "shroud" hallucinogen
ever recorded.
My friend took his. After a few weeks he regained partial use of his
lungs and I asked for his opinion. His response was barely audible. He
wanted to know what an opinion was.
And then one night the mystery's solution came to me in a flash. As
I was examining the shroud I kept noticing small bits of what appeared
to be fishing line scattered all through it. As I increased the
magnification it hit me. Cat gut? At last, the solution! What I was
looking at was a shroud, at least forty-five thousand years old, that
was laced with cat gut. I sat stunned for a few seconds. Had we really
found the tomb of North America's first rock musician?
Shortly after this I received its confirmation. I had a dream in which
god appeared to me in the form of an electric bass which was attached
to a thirty foot high woofer. I knew this was the confirmation because
when I awoke I found an envelope under my pillow with a check for
twenty dollars and the salutation, Mazol Tov.

Perhaps the best example of how flexible scientific thinking can be
occurred with a shroud find in Greece.
In 1959, while scientists explored a stratigraphic exposure dating
back to the Upper Paleolithic Age (the age when most people walked
around superstitiously stoned), they discovered a cave containing the
shrouded remains of what they thought was certainly the world's first
The shroud's artistry spoke for itself. It was composed of over one
hundred thousand Big Bopper bubble gum wrappers, sewn onto a
frame of no less than thirty-seven thousand popsicle sticks, and
handsomely edged with $12,040 worth of dental bill receipts.
Said one scientist, "We're just lucky she never threw anything
away. This could be our best chance since Howard Hughes for finding
out how the common people lived." At the time little did he know, and
the same goes for everyone else too.
In addition to its unique construction the shroud contained
amazingly detailed ideas for the improvement of many household
items. In one area of the shroud is the image of what many say is an ice
tray, itself a "miracle" of the first order when one considers the fact
that refrigerators at the time were still in the form of wooly
mammoths. Also there are traces of what looks like a New and Yet
The American Atheist

Still More Improved Than Ever powdered soap, again miraculous

considering that she never bathed for fear that Froggie the Gremlin
would plunk his magic twanger and Jump into her underpants.
And without a doubt the most miraculous discovery of all is her
proposal for two new daytime game shows, plus the entire script for a
Wild Kingdom soap opera whose cast includes: '
1. two teenage wooly mammoths who explore sex together and
in the process manage to defoliate half of Uganda
2. a saber-toothed tiger who's too embarrassed to tell his
mother that he earns his living by demonstrating the art of
Yo-Yo to Junior Highs around the country
3. a South African skunk who runs the factory that makes
Yo-Yos and reuseable mammoth prophylactics
4. two young Australian outback rabbits who soon get burned
out on sex and end up trying to swing with the teenage
5. one Rumanian owl who befriends the skunk but lives to
regret it
6. one old and withered Boston mare who yearns to be thrilled
again but for some reason insists on using a deodorant called
Roll-On Skunk
7. a South American anaconda who takes the phrase "Roll-On
Skunk" and turns it into a country and western smash hit,
and then uses the money to turn the rest of Uganda into
another Newark
8. and finally two giant Panda bears who're into sadomasochistic bridge playing, which is finally resolved when
they're locked in a cell with the anaconda
And because of the fact that there were no X-rated movies in
circulation (at the time they were strictly for home consumption)
scientists now believe that this shroud establishes beyond a shadow
of Lamont Cranston that Europeans knew about South America;
how else would she know about anacondas? (Think about that one
But everything doesn't always go so smoothly as this; in fact hardly
anything ever goes smoothly. In particular it was one of the shroud's
imprints that brought the entire housewife hypothesis to a new level
of sophistication. This concerns the long cylindrical imprint found in
the groin area of the shroud.
At first it tended to be overlooked, but after one Harvard educated
feminist examined the imprint she said, rather dramatically, "I don't
for the life of me know how in hell you poor excuses for men
overlooked the fact that this is the world's first fag housekeeper."
It made everyone stop and think. Said on poor excuse, "She may
have something there."
A meeting was called and the issue was debated. In a surprisingly

short time the problem was solved. The ensuing monograph would be
titled, The Shroud of the World's First Houseperson. Indeed it
reinforced this reporter's faith in the flexibility of science, and with
that reinforcement this report ends.





New discovery!
The handkerchief of god has been found and is being
preserved in an Akron, Ohio rubber plant under heavy

You can see two snot spots which curiously resemble

eyes! More study nas revealed that this is no mere humanmade rag - it is 36 feet by 42 feet when stretched out. That god was a big sucker.
Rev. Jerry Fa Iwell was caught earlier today for comment.
"I believe that god was one hell of a sneezer! He
could really let 'em fly!"
Five homicides. two robberies, and twenty-two rapes
took place across the street and the massive crowd
chanting .. "
Handkerchief'; blamed the brainwashed
Will they ever learn?

Post Script: I did however hear one other item of some interest. It
seems that one eminent archeologist who became fascinated with the
idea of a "Wild Kingdom" soap opera traveled into Russia and tried to
sell the idea to the authorities. The last thing heard was that the KGB
had arrested him on one count of trying to commit sodomy with an
anaconda. But at least the KGB didn't discriminate. They also
booked the snake on one count of assault with intent to make an
archeologist's eyes pop out. After that the trail grew Siberian cold










....-- ...-------/: +j,~s




/' fJesus


Austin, Texas



Page 13

Kevin J. Dooley


hence does the "Moral Majority" - Jerry Falwell's anachronistic army - get its impetus?
Certainly, the vast monetary backing at their fingertips is of
irrefutable aid. But where does that come from? Wealth does not
make right (though industrialists wish it so).
Mass media marketing is the key. Radio, television, and direct mail
campaigns combine, not only to replenish capital, but also for
declaration of their idealistic christian way of life.
From what I understand, the wrong reverend Falwell has hired top
ad men in the field of brainwashing ... I mean marketing, of course.
Most of us are aware of Madison Avenue word games: "New,"
"Improved," "Guaranteed," and other catch words that, amazingly,
still ensnare people en masse to buying.
One main ploy in this kind of selling, including of politicians, is to let
the consumer believe he/she is getting more than what they're told.
With those of Falwell's ilk more equals paradise, heaven, blessing
here on earth ... What a Product!
As Atheists we reject this nonsensical claptrap.
But personally, as an advertising copywriter, I see how the "New
Right" is playing on people's emotions.
The American sense of justice - no matter how misbegotten - is a
powerful force. It's a return to a twisted king Arthurian "might makes
right" ... the old "Manifest Destiny" righteousness.
Paramount in their subtle brainwashing is their very name, "The
Moral Majority."
An old trick: name something "Easy-Off" and people willinfer that's
how it works; name something "Soft 'n' Pretty" and of course it is;
"The Moral Majority" must, therefore, be a phenomenally huge
organization dedicated to what is morally right - right?
The "Moral Majority" is attempting to establish itself as a powerful
lobbying force with, ifnot "god," then at least "good" on their side. In
actuality, they do not have a corner (or even a piece of the
cornerstone) of that market nor are they a reflection of the general
consensus of opinion.
Thanks to media coverage, the MM (no, not Mickey Mouse, but
close) continue to imply they have strong enough backing to affect
consumer reponse. And nothing is more frightening to any multimillion dollar company than the loss of a few precious bucks.

"Thanks to media coverage, the 'Moral

Majority'... continue to imply they have strong
enough backing to affect consumer response."
Now, it seems even the networks, who have helped to substantiate
this fallacy, are kowtowing to such freedom-restraining organizations
as the "Coalition for Better Television" (or whatever, it's another
word ploy). Even school administrators are bending common sense
by having the creation myth taught alongside the scientific theory of
evolution. Sex education is out of the question. "Give me a child when
he is fiveand he's mine forever" or whatever. The catholic church and
their network of parochial schools have been experts in this sort of
brainwashing for decades!
However, in relationship to the MM not, indeed, being a majority:
The L.A. Times printed the result of a poll which states over half the
Page 14

April, 1984

American public still hasn't heard of the MM at all!

In this Washington Post! ABC News poll 43% of those who had
heard of the group say they disapprove of its positions on most issues;
only 37% approved; the rest had no opinion.
Only lout of 5 wants the MM to exert more influence on their lives.
Undoubtedly, they are insecure people unable to take responsibility
for their own actions, therefore needing an authority "father" figure to
make important decisions for them. This is also an open excuse for
parents to pass the buck of raising their children onto others, i.e. the
aforementioned parochial schools.
According to the poll, the general opposers of the MM come "from
liberal Democrats, catholics (worried about competition), college
graduates, big-city dwellers and those who live in the Northeast."
And, of course, we, the American Atheists.
Surprisingly, at the southern baptists' national meeting, they came
out against groups who inflict their idea of the christian way of life
through the medium of political means. Later, however, they stated
their format for christian living, as well as specific laws all members
should oppose. Ah well.
No matter what the title - christian scientists, scientific evolutionists, born-agains, scientologists, et al - one should be less
wary of what they're named and more aware of what they stand for.
Historically speaking, group names have often become synonymous with good or evil: "Nazi" was merely an abridgement of
"Nationalsozialist" party; "Ku Klux Klan" just means "Circle Clan."
The "Crusades" are sometimes spoken of in light of how well it
spread "the word" despite the atrocities perpetrated. The "Inquisition" is more or less no longer lauded. In fact; the present
born-again mentality condemns any inhumane action of the past
simply by saying "They weren't true christians." Adolph Hitler would
be very upset.
Let's look at another excellently used word-trick: the "holy bible."
Wow! It's got a built-in demand to believe ("holy"). All of us who've
read this error-ridden claptrap realize there's nothing "divine" about
it. And yet, the very word "bible" has come to be known as (according
to Webster's) "any book regarded as authoritative"; a bible sets
standards. In point of fact the bible has created a connotation that
gives It clout! And It IS swallowed, terce-led, and choked down by
millions of illiterate cattle.
And, I don't think there's any question as to what "christianity" has
grown to mean: purity, righteousness and moral goodness. Just as
"Atheism" has become - how else can I put this but - a four-letter
word under the MM's regime.
Hiding behind other names - freethinker, skeptic, or the
indecisive "agnostic" - doesn't change what you are or what the
truth is any more than Falwell naming his organization the "Moral
Majority" makes it so.
"Atheist" is not a dirty word. It's something to be proud of, a truth
to stand behind, not mere words in an unholy book. Only through
profound vocalization and action can we uphold the reality of our
. situation, our world, each of our lives.
With sincerest grace to William Shakespeare in the case of MM, let
me state "A rose by any other name still has the thorns of ignorance to
pierce the minds of the innocent." 00
The American Atheist






UCyis, after all, 1Y2 million years old. As we push back our
inquiries it is clear that humankind has existed, more or less in
our form, for at least 2 million, and perhaps more, years. Yet,
civilization, as we know it and uncover it, looks to be perhaps 10,000
years old. We wonder how they lived, what they ate, how they
occupied themselves for the daylight hours, during the major part of
those 2 million years. As we study mythology, astronomy, astrology
and religion it becomes more clear daily how they occupied
themselves at night. When they were not sleeping, before they had
fires or caves, and even when they did, they watched the stars. Night
after night for a million years, for two million years, perhaps for more,
they watched the stars. And, in the stars they picked out clusters here
and there which reminded them of the things they saw and with which
they dealt in their daylight hours. The most conspicuous, constant
image of the daylight hours in the sky was the sun, and the less
conspicuous and constant image was that of the clouds. The sun
invariably. when viewed from the earth. appeared to rise from below
the horizon in the east. The movement, color, and configuration of
the clouds, which appeared to be closer, were more variable. In the
night the biggest object was the moon, and the most obvious activity
of the moon was its waxing and waning. As they watched those
heavens they could, finally, pick out five lights which seemed to
wander across the other fixed patterns. They were seeing the light
reflected from five planets. No matter what else they thought, what
they did, how they lived, whether being opportunistic food eaters,
systematic food gatherers, sophisticated hunters, or farmers, they
always looked at those stars. They always saw the same repeated
patterns in the sky. And, they saw them always, only with their eyes.
The length of the day and length of the night varied also. This was
obvious and cyclical; every animal on earth responded to it including humankind. Perhaps it was built into their DNAs.
Now, these human animals did not know it, but the earth during all
of this period was traveling around the sun; and our sun was located in

Austin, Texas


a galaxy called the Milky Way. Our Milky Way is a flat, plate-like
structure, the 100,000+ stars of which move around a central bulge.

.--"_ -.I_".~~;;'J'~'''''''''h_'''_'

Schern at

;',.,:':..' ,.~~;t,!,~i"'~,t



highly luminous stars recently formed

'<om <h'




I, .":-'


If one would shove a stick through the earth, from one pole to
another, that could be called the polar axis. The earth rotates around
this axis. Ifone took a piece of paper and laid it over the ellipse which
the earth generated as it moved around the sun, that smooth plane of
an ellipse could be called the ecliptic. The sun is always in the ecliptic
since the ellipse of the earth around it has the sun always in the
middle. However, the polar axis of the earth, as it revolves, is always
at an angle of 23.5 with the plane of its orbit around the sun. There
were always two moments in the year when the sun rose in the due
easterly direction and set in the due westerly direction, when the
polar axis does not point away from or toward the sun. This is
apparent now and has been apparent in every age of humankind. In a

April, 1984

Page 15


for one complete precession of the earth's axis is 25,730 years, in

other terms - about 1,300 generations of humankind. At the present
time the rate of motion measured around the pole of the ecliptic as a
center is 50.37 inches a year. Over a long period of time it gives rise to
gross changes of the seasons. The earth's axis of rotation completes

Equatorial plane



In the torquetum a fixed table is

arranged parallel to the plane of
the Earth's equator. The top face of
the rotating cylinder mounted on
the table is inclined to the table at
an angle of 23.5, thus lying in the
plane of the ecliptic.

million years, thousands of generations of humankind saw these

stars, recognized these moments in time, understood that the moon
and the sun in their regular paths were a part of the scheme of things.
The moon completed a circuit ofthe earth (when viewed against
the background of the stars) every 27 1/3 days, returning to
essentially the same position it had been seen at before. (This came to
be called the sidereal month.) However, since the earth and the sun
are both moving, the moon has to make more than one complete
circuit in order to get into a position directly in line with the sun, which
causes a full moon - therefore the 29Y2day period from full moon to
full moon. (This came to be called the synodic month.)
All of this was apparent as they watched the skies.
If we presume that a generation can be counted as twenty years,
there are five generations in a century, 20,000 generations in a million
years, 40,000 generations in two million years - and still they
watched the skies. Perhaps the single activity which took up the
greatest amount of their time in those two million years was that they
watched the skies.
It became as familiar to them as their path through a forest or over a
plain. The movements were regular, constant, reliable. But, were
they? At first they saw that the groups of stars were fixed as distant
objects; but, something was going awry, for the direction of the
earth's polar axis is not always the same. The earth wobbles on that
axis, and the direction in which the polar axis points is therefore
constantly changing. From Equinox to Equinox, the position of the
sun against the background of the stars changed. There is a motion
which arises because the earth is not a perfect sphere. The earth's
polar diameter is some 27 miles less than its equatorial diameter. This
causes the gravitational pull of both the sun and the moon to put a
twist on the earth, and it is this twist (or torque) that causes what is
called the precessional motion of the axis of the earth. The time taken


Page 16

is perpendicular to the ecliptic. The

Earth's axis of rotation precesses
about OA just as the axis of spin of a
top precesses about the verticaI
direction. Time for one complete
motion is about 25,730 years.



Precession causes a slow migration

of the center about which the stars
appear to rotate. Here two sets of star
trails, one of 1907, the other of 1941,
are superimposed.Note how the
centers of the two sets differ.
half a precessional cycle in 12,865 years and in that time summer and
winter are completely interchanged; that is to say, the part of the
earth's orbit where the northern hemisphere now experiences
summer and the southern hemisphere winter willin 12,856 years' time
be the part where the northern hemisphere experiences winter and
the southern hemisphere summer.
As the flow of time moved over the tens of thousands of
generations of humankind, as they watched the stars, they slowly
began to recognize that the stars' patterns were in certain gross
positions, to the right or to the left as they watched them. And, there
was only a small band through which activity was seen, that is they
thought in terms of an imaginary belt of the starry sky, extending
about 8 on each side of the ecliptic, (16 total) within which were the
apparent paths of the sun, moon and the principal planets. In this belt
there were groups of stars through which the sun seemed to pass in

the course of a year. There were four peculiar points on that belt: (1)
the point reached on the longest day of the year, the Summer
Solstice; (2) the point reached on the shortest day of the year, the
Winter Solstice; and (3) and (4) the two points reached at the time day
and night were everywhere equal, the Vernal and Autumnal
Equinoxes. These came to be thought of as the four points of the
heavens, the four main gates, the pillars of Hercules. As the moon
moved from full moon to full moon, twelve times in a year, the stars
seen between those full moons came to be taken as a part of the
circle. Each one of these 12 parts came to be identified with something
on earth, something familiar to our ancestors, usually animals, those
animals which were more apparent at that season of the year. The
word "zodiac" means "circle of animals." Gradually, the idea of "12"
became important as they watched the stars. Soon, 12 could be seen
elsewhere in nature. With the star groups in 12 pieces, with 12 full
moons, when time came to be counted there were 12 months. When
stories on earth began to be invented, there were 12 tribes, 12
brothers, 12 of anything. Also, with the two greatest objects in the sky
counted together with the earth, there were "3s" which became
important. The five bright wandering stars, not yet known as planets,
together with the sun and moon, made the number "7" important.
But the wobble of the earth caused a precession of the Equinox
The American Atheist

times. That is, because ofthe advance of the Equinoxes, all signs of
the zodiac slip slightly backwards, continually.
Every degree of the zodiac is removed, or put back, in 71.47 years.
Ifone considers that a circle has 360 each zodiac sign fillsa space of
approximately 30 Therefore an entire sign is slipped back each
2,144.1 years. The mathematical calculations which have been given
are always different. By and large confusion reigns. An old Atheist

Poloris .\-

\, ,:






Precession of the axis of rotation of the

earth, and also that of a spinning top,
occurs because of forces acting to
change the directions of these axes.




'% < '


MINOR L __..~

~ Deneb





Path of North Celestial Pole Due to
Precession. Polaris will continue to get nearer the pole
until it is about 0.5 degree away, about the year 2100;
after that it will gradually recede. The star "alpha" of the
constellation Draco was the pole star about 2500 b.c. The
bright star Vega will be near the pole in a.d. 14,000.

calculation that the Equinoctial point of Spring was exactly in the first
degree of Aries in the year 388 b.c. And the first degree of Aries prior
to that was about 13,300 years b.c. These claim that the next time that
the Equinoctial point of Spring will be exactly in the first degree of
Aries willbe in the year 12,912. It is important that you, dear reader,
understand this point. Encyclopedia Britannica notes that about
3,000 b.c. the star Draconis would have served as pole star; in 13,000
b.c. and 13,000 a.d. Vega would be near enough to the pole to mark
roughly its position. By this displacement the part of the sky visible
from a particular terrestrial station gradually changes; certain constellations cease to rise above the horizon and others appear for the first
time. In the time of the early Chaldean astronomers it was not
necessary to travel so far south to see the Southern Cross as it is now.
Currently, it is thought that because of the precession of the
Equinoxes each division now contains the constellation west of the
one from which it took its name. The Vernal Equinox is commonly
called the first point of Aries, but it has already moved away from that
constellation and is now in Pisces.
Austin, Texas

But what did our primitive ancestors see? How did they interpret
what they saw, for over two million years, as they watched the skies?
It was evident that day and night were absolutely equal at Vernal
Equinox and that from that day the daytime lengthened until the
longest day, the Summer Solstice, arrived. When the Autumnal
Equinox came, day and night were again absolutely equal, but now
the days shortened and there was more darkness than light until the
shortest day of the year was seen at the time of the Winter Solstice.
Six fullmoons came during the days with more light and six fullmoons
came during the days with more darkness. And, in the understanding
of just that was created the idea of darkness and light, with the one
contending against the other, with the rhythm of first a victory of one
and then of the other. Every major religion, when the ideas concerned
with the stars were moved from "the heavens" to the earth, translated
the battle of light and darkness into the battle of evil and good. And, it
is logical that the particular day of equal day and night which preceded
the beginning of the six months of the warmth and growth of
vegetation (in the northern hemisphere), the beginning of the six
months of daylight being greater than darkness, became the single
most important message of nature to humankind. They began to
mark that day, to mark the specific time when the sun arose, to mark
the specific place where it first made its appearance. The first
engineering feats, the first evidence of any science, was in the locating
of the first appearance, the first rays, of the sun as it rose (always
absolutely due east) on those particular days. We see these
monuments to the intelligence of humankind in the South and Central
American, as well as in the Egyptian, pyramids (such as at Macchu
Picchu and Teotihuacan), in Stonehenge, Avebury and Carnac in
England, at Pentre-Ifan (Wales), in the Nazca plain of Peru, in the
monoliths of Easter Island, in stone rings, on mounds, in temples
throughout the Mediterranean area, in the Far East, in megaliths.
There is no place which has been inhabited by humankind which does
not have monumental markings to locate the Vernal Equinox both in
time and in place.
We must remember that the ages of man are variously given, but it
would appear that these primitives had looked at the skies for
thousands of generations before they learned to use the most
primitive of tools - perhaps leftovers from his eating - bones which
he could grasp, hundreds of thousands of years before the iron age,
before the bronze age, before the stone age. He only learned the
sophisticated use of stones for tools perhaps 500,000 years ago, of fire
for cooking perhaps 400,000 years ago. Prior to that he survived,
physically, during the day, but at night he watched the skies .
The moon waxed and waned and soon it was evident that there
were four distinct periods in that too: when the moon was full, when
the moon was the thinnest of crescent, when it was at Y4 full, at Yz full,
and at % full. The phases of the moon changed every seven days;
there were during that time these 4 points which could be
distinguished - all of which reinforced the importance of the
numbers 4 and 7.
The good principle of light was in power from Vernal Equinox to
Autumnal Equinox. Then it rested. In the 7th month, the evil principle
of darkness was in power, from the Autumnal Equinox back to the
time of the Vernal Equinox. Again, it must be reiterated that every
religion in the world has predicated its basic principle of the struggle
between good and evil upon this physical phenomena of the skies.
Take just the story of Solomon who was confronted with a child which
two mother s r laimed as thpir own (the mother of darkness, the
mother of light). The mother of light (the Zodiac) finally decided that
her child could not be divided. She wanted the precession of the
Equinoctial point to continue from Gemini (the twins) to Taurus (the
Bull) and thus (the child was) not divided.
As indicated, what was in the band of the Zodiac, the signs, was that
with which these primitives were familiar on the ground: a constellation of stars in which they could see a ram, a bull, twins, a crab, a lion,
a young woman, scales, a scorpion, a horse, a goat, a water carrier, a
fish. What would you see in a cloud or a Rorschach ink blot, but what
you knew or interested you? In former times it was a serpent, a wolf,
an eagle, a bear, a lion, a dragon. It was so for the beginning of the

April, 1984

Page 17









principle of darkness in September, as the days began to lengthen.

Now, the serpents and the rock appear in the sky at night in the east.
The serpent is the serpent of darkness because darkness lengthens
as the serpent appears in the skies. He is the harbinger of evil; he
appears before the dark takes over. And. the woman (what is now
known as Virgo or Bootes) who holds the fruit (or the virgin, or
however she was known) and her husband (the tiller, or herdsman, or
however he was known) make their appearance. Then they set
heliacally at the Autumnal Equinox, delivering the world to the wintry
constellations, falling below the horizon, permitting the evil of
darkness to grow. Since the woman goes into the horizon first she has
decoyed and seduced the man. Looking at the star constellations one
could say that in fact, the virgin, setting first, seems to draw the
herdsman after her. (gen. 3:6 - "she took of the fruit thereof, and did
eat and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.") In fact,
the virgin (the maid, the wife) holds in her hand a branch of fruit which
she seems to offer to the husband (the herdsman, the tiller) and that
branch, placed as it is between the end of Summer and the beginning
of Autumn, seems to open the door and give knowledge, knowledge
both of light and dark, of good and evil for the days only then begin to
lengthen, giving indication of the darkness to come. And, of course, it
is at this time that the apple tree yields its fruit.
Fall Equinox


Meanwhile, the angel with the flaming sword mounts the horizon
and thus keeps the couple from returning. Alas, no one returns. No
one turns back. The entire dome of stars shifts westward through the
effect of the precession by about one degree every 72 years. Adam
and Eve (alias Virgo and Bootes) are driven from light and warmththe garden. They disappear below the horizon, i.e. they "fall." The
drama IS always from the east to the west. And, the seed of the woman
is to bruise the head of the serpent (gen. 3: 15 - "And I willput enmity
between thee [the serpent] and the woman, and between thy seed
and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise its heel. "),
and sure enough, that happens, for as the year continues the seed of
the woman is Hercules, and he appears with his foot over the head of
the (Pole) dragon. From all of this came the tradition that a woman
and a man had by their fall (ah!) introduced sin and misery into the
world. And, the idea was reinforced annually. Of course, the story
could change somewhat. When the man and the woman fall beneath
that horizon, Perseus rises on the other side; and this genius, with a
sword in his hand, seems to drive them from the Summer heaven, the
garden and dominion of fruits and flowers. But, also, as Perseus rises
there is still the head of a woman seen - it could even be in his hands
- a head which he has cut off (the head of Medusa) and then the head
finallyalso sinks below the horizon just as Perseus arises. But is the~e
another story of the son bruising the serpent? Of course. At the
moment of the Winter Solstice, the bosom of the virgin was rising
heliacally in the eastern horizon. So, this is a child suckled by a chaste
virgin. Near is the constellation of the stable. At no great distance is
the ass of Typhon (or the great she-bear) and the ox, (the bull), the
ancient attendants of the manger. The chaste virgin could be any
woman, the consort of any wise king, any goddess - Isis, Osiris,
Ceres, Mithra, Diana of the Ephesians, Cybele the great goddess of
Syria, Minerva the mother of Bacchus, Astraea.
Great Bear
(Ass of

Star called
The Announcer,

Spring Equinox

- ->-)






Position of the sky just after midnight of the Winter

Solstice, showing the origin of the manger scene.


In summer, Hercules (the seed of the woman) with his

foot over the head of the Pole Dragon (the seed of the

The legend of Hercules and Hebe is the same tale. The story of Abel
offering "sheep" and Cain offering "grapes" is the same. And, as every
savior god needed to flee to the west with his parents, so did
Ass of Typhon

Also, the vulnerability
heel is bruised.

Page 18

of Achilles, as his


The husband and wife setting westward

in the month of the goat, called Aegypan,
being in the fable, the often alluded Egypt
of the judaeo-christian mythoses.


The American Atheist

In his infancy the jesuchrist child lived humble, obscure and

abased. This is because the Winter sun is abased below the horizon.
The first period of his four ages (childhood, youth, maturity, old age),
childhood (from the Autumnal Equinox to the Winter Solstice), is a
time of obscurity in the sky, of scarcity, fasting and want in the
northern hemisphere where Winter has deprived the primitives of
easy food. The sun reaches its lowest place of influence on the
shortest day of the year; darkness seems to conquer. But, taking
strength, the sun grows, as does jesuchrist in his young adult life and
peripatetic missions, until in the full Vernal Equinox light equals
darkness everywhere on earth. Thence forward in the sun's fullness
he gives life through his heat and light so that abundance is there for.
every human. He has not only had a rebirth but rises into the vault of
heaven where he reigns with radiance in a time when human needs
are fulfilled, since Summer brings again the needed vegetation and
When humankind came to know what "gates" were, the two
Equinoxes began to be seen as two gates through which one went
either into light or into darkness, into heaven or into hell. The stairs to
heaven was the building of the hours of daylight, each day from the
Winter Solstice to the Vernal Equinox. This is the ladder of Mithra, of
Jacob. It is the tower of Babel, (the Chaldean Bab-ilu, which means
"Gates of the Gods.")
The Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes, the Summer and Winter
Solstices, precede the four seasons of the year. At the Equinoxes the
sun appears to lay on the equator for three days. In August as the sun
seems to sit on the celestial equator before going on-its southernmost
declination, Jonah was seen as three days in the belly of the whale.
When Hercules came back in the three days he was shorn of his hair
as, in the Autumn, the sun appears to have muted rays. The three day
lingering of the sun is especially noticeable coming from the darkness
of Winter and in the northern hemisphere the tarrying of the sun
before rising to its northern declination is ominous as the world waits
for the sun to continue to lead to the paradise of Summer, even as
jesuchrist was three days in the grave before resurrecting and
climbing into the heavens.
Every tale in the bible, every mythology of the ages, can be traced
to the ideas which came from watching the stars. Astronomy was our
first science. From the skies came our first lessons. Perhaps the first
idea of counting, of mathematics, came from this source. And, as the
precession of the Equinoxes continued, the" gods" which came to be
worshipped were the representations of what was seen in the sky: the
"bull" was the object of worship, the scorpion, the fish - and in our
time, as we entered "the sign of aquarius" the new generations have
turned to that mystery. The precession brought the sign of the fish (by
which christianity has always been known) 140 years b.c. and that
continued until about 1960, when the sign of Aquarius arrived.
Another" expert" views the age of Aquarius as in the mid-I850s. Prior
to that for 2,144 years the sign of the ram was ascendant (with which
the "lamb" of christianity is confused). Prior to that the sign of the bull
was ascendant, which was the animal worshipped by the Egyptians,
the Chaldeans.
The ancients a/ways knew that the signs would make a great circle
and come back again to the place of the starting of the count, and at
this time there would be tribulations. In essence this is also the basis of
the idea of recycling, or reincarnation. Allof the narratives referred to
the planets and their paths, to the phases of the moon, the revolution
of the sun and the stars in the daily and nightly hemispheres. From
time immemorial they could predict the eclipses of both the sun and
the moon. The basis of all "prophesies" are these predictions, having
to do with the natural occurrences in the sky. The moon eclipsed
every 223lunations, every 18years, 11 days. They could point out the
exact moment and place of the rising of the sun on the Vernal
Equinox, proving that always there would be an orderly return of the
seasons. They could count exactly the Solstices. The records made
at the time of Sargon of Akkad, dating from 3,800 b.c., indicate that
the practice was an ancient one at that time. The patterns of stars in
the sky told them that all was well. But those patterns could by
interpretation differ from civilization to civilization. When Aratus of
Austin, Texas

Sicyon, the Greek general, leader of the Achaean League (271 b.c.213 b.c.) made observations in 270 b.c., they approximated those
made 2,500 years earlier. And, as these humans of intelligence and
discernment worked to understand their relationship with nature and
with the skies, to teach their fellows they told the simple astral stories
which came to them, finally, to be taken as sacred, as they struggled
with communication of ideas they tried to articulate. The Zodiac Was
a great circle around them, and the circumference of that great circle
needed to be handled,. for half of the time it brought darkness and half
of the time it brought light. Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a
circle to its diameter, always 3.1416. To explain this, the Babylonians
said that the world was created when the sun was in Aries, and they
had a word for Pi. That word was Aleim - the mystery of such a
relationship. Later it was corrupted to the word Elohem, which later
was corrupted to the idea of "the gods." The six good months were
one half of the circle, called Para-deh (paradise).
Those who watched the stars found that each 2,144 years it was
necessary to move the Vernal Equinox from one constellation sign to
the next. In all that time they knew from observation that the signs
would come full cycle and that the Vernal Equinox would one day
again arise in the sign of Aries. From this it is evident that some of our
primitive ancestors first understood the motion of the stars across the
sky in the Aries sign. Hipparchus (Greek astronomer in Alexandria,
circa 190-125 b.c.) realized this. He recognized that the first point of
Aries is constantly changing. Observing in the island of Rhodes,
probably from 161 b.c., but certainly from 146 b.c., he made the
discovery of the precession of the Equinoxes in 130 b.c. He also
originated the method of fixing terrestrial positions by circles of
latitude and longitude (His instrument is now called the Hipparchus
ring.), and he founded trigonometry. One expert suggests that he

The Hipparchus ring, a very simple

analogue computer, relies on the fact
that if a plane ring is set parallel to the
Earth's equator the parallelism is not
destroyed by the Earth's rotation. Only
at the equinoxes does the shadow cast
by the front of the ring fall on the back.

must have had records made earlier by Babylonian astronomers

which he compared with his own observations of the Equinoxes.
Other scholars feel that hehad knowledge derived from Chaldea.
That comparison disclosed that the position of the sun at the
Equinoxes, against the background of the stars, had changed
considerably over a period of 2,000 years. The idea of tracing the
sun's path among the stars was an original and recondite one.
Assyrian cylinders and inscriptions show 4,000 years of study. In
3,000 b.c. the emperor Yao of China was giving orders for
preservation in regard to the information gathered before that time in
respect to the Equinoxes and the Solstices-Cometary records alone
in China go back to 2296 b.c.
They watched the skies, these primitives. Today the lights of our
cities, the pollution of our air, hide from us the extravagantly beautiful
night skies with its myriad of stars. To be able to even hope for some
hint of the nature of them, it is necessary to drive miles from any city,
to stop any light spillage around one, to sit in extraordinary earth
darkness to see those skies. Any difficulty appertaining to such a trip
is worth it. In a panoramic array they are there by hundreds of
thousands to startle and educate one. Our progress as humans
derives from the patience, the understanding, the analysis, that the


Page 19

ancients made of the skies for that was the real beginning of science.
Much speculation has been given by many persons as to a dating
system for all nations. Calendars proliferate, as do ideas. But, there is
only one dating system that is valid and that is to take events fixed by
nature. If the ancients knew that the stars in their constellations
would define a circle and return to the same position in 23,750 years,
we should be constrained to take their opinions for what they were:
accurate and based on physical observations. Civilization and "city
dwelling" may have had a beginning 10,000 years ago, but knowledge
of some part of the physical world in which we live necessarily had to
begin in cycles of 23,750 years when humankind was first certain that
the precession of the Equinoxes had gone full circle. If we honestly
accept that Aries was the first constellation recognized, whatever
Aries was at that time, and remembered, then we should date
humankind's beginning with that recognition. At the moment of the
seeming crossing of the equator towards the north the sun is said to
be at the first point of Aries. When Hipparchus first observed them at
Rhodes, the constellations bearing the same names coincided
approximately in position with the divisions which they designate, or
so it was thought. The discrepancy now, however, amounts to the
entire breadth of at least one sign, the sun's path in Aries lying among
the stars of Pisces, in Taurus among those of Aries. We are now in
"the sign of Aquarius" and slipping back again to the goat. But many
observers of the skies think that the age of Aquarius began in the 17th







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century or will begin in the 21st century. We know much less than
primitive humans about the exact count. We will not arrive at Aries
again for, perhaps, another 23,750 years. We should accept the
current year for whatever it is, begin the next year on the first day
when light conquer? darkness, that is on the Winter Solstice, to
restore some order and intelligence to our calendars, our history and
our lives.
If the goals in the fight for Atheism were ordered on a progressive
scale of from a low of 999 to a high of 1, the need to seize again for all
humankind the special days of the Solstices and the Equinoxes would
be of very high order, at least 3. These moments in time, stolen by the
religious to mark events in the lives of their imaginary gods, belong to
all people everywhere on earth without regard to race, sex,
nationality or geographical location on earth. The problem is - how
does one deprogram 4.5 billion people? That the effort needs to be
made is an axiomatic certainty. Atheists, at least, know what the job
is. which is half the fight.
If the calculations of an Atheist investigator (of the year 1793) are
correct that Libra was formerly the sign of the Vernal, and Aries of the
Autumnal, Equinox, the precession of the Equinoxes has carried
forward by seven signs since the last "renewal" of the circle of the
Zodiac. Then 17,174 years have elapsed, and the current year is
17,175, since the last recognized cycle began.
Credit to James B. Pullen, Jr. for illustrations of constellations and his
research on astral origins of religion. ~

Eastern Seaboard residents

interested in participating in
the Atheist Amateur Radio
Network should contact:
Jeff Levine
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Passaic, NJ 07055
Call Letters: WA2 AQC




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The American Atheist

END OF THE TUNNEL / Michael Bettencourt


Mr. Bettencourt, a Harvard graduate and teacher at a private college preparatory school, joined our
writing staff in October, 1983.

ecently I've been reading what I dub, for want of a better term,
"science for poets." These are books like Lewis Thomas's Lives
of a Cell and Stephen Jay Gould's The Panda's Thumb. I've
wondered what it is that drives me to read them. It is most assuredly
not some aptitude for science. I almost failed physics (0+), was only a
passable biologist, and avoided chemistry altogether. Instead, what
makes them attractive to me is the intellectual excitement they
generate when the scientist, bearing his cargo of fact and method,
treads on the traditional ground of the poet, that ground of airy insight
and elite intuition. What blooms is a bracing hybrid of vast and
mind-thrilling thought with granite in its veins, large speculation tied
to the dirt of the universe.
One of the books I came across struck me as immediately
interesting by its title: The Existential Pleasures of Engineering, by
Samuel c. Florman. I had never heard it put quite so bluntly before,
but I knew from the second I read the title that Florman was speaking
exactly what I believed: that fullengagement with material life,such as
an engineer might do, provides one of the soundest and longest-lived
pleasures to be derived from living itself. So, though the book was
written in 1976 and reviewed in all the usual publications, I would like
to offer my belated but nonetheless enthusiastic endorsement of this
book and all that it says about living.
It is Florman's purpose to show that the engineer and the
existentialist are not adversaries but instead are both engaged in the
same pursuit of meaning and intention. He begins the books with an
historical overview of the engineer's perception of his role in the
scheme of life. Florman points out that engineers not only took great
pleasure in the physical changes their machines wrought but also
believed that their way of thinking would improve the world. Florman
cites one engineer's words in 1895 which embody this attitude: "We
are the priests of the new epoch, without superstitions."
Florman properly recognizes the dangerous hubris in these words,
but he does not disagree with the essential truth in them: that being
reasonable and openminded, free of prejudices and preconvictions,
approaching problems through the scientific method with an eye to
the alleviation of drudgery and hardship, willinevitably add to rather
than subtract from the general happiness of mankind. He then goes
on to deftly skewer the "anti-technologists," as he terms them: people
like Charles Reich, Rene Dubos, Theodore Roszak, and Lewis
Mumford, who argue, often with a great deal of stupidity for people of
their intelligence, against the use of technology to improve the lot of
the world (often, as Florman wryly points out, from the comfort of
'offices heated by oil and built by working class laborers). His
arguments are too involved to repeat here, but he neatly deflates their
posturing by systematically showing the inherent faults of their
oftentimes emotionally appealing arguments.
With the antitechnologists safely neutered, he goes on to explore
the delights and challenges of engineering, to detail for us what
"existential" pleasures it offers to anyone willing to see it with
unjaundiced eyes. He denies the usual animus in our culture that pure
thought is superior to thought sullied by utilitarian objectives, that
materialism is a defect in human nature, by saying that "analysis,
Austin, Texas

rationality, materialism, and practical creativity do not preclude

emotional fulfillment; they are pathways to such fulfillment." He goes
on: "We recognize that we cannot survive on meditation, poems and
sunsets. We are restless. We have an irresistible urge to dip our hands
into the stuff of the earth and to do something about it."
The rest of Florman's book is an exploration and explanation of
"the existential engineer." What is truly refreshing about Florman's
book is the unabashed delight he takes in material existence. It is not
the sort of material existence in which a hedonist, say, might indulge,
which is really just exploitation, but instead a grappling with the forces
of the earth that, in the end, considers problems based on human
needs or desires, tests and selects the best solution, and follows
through to a finished product. It is the sort of drive that created the
word processor I'm using, the trucks that carry the manuscript to this
magazine, and, in turn, helps print this so that I can feel satisfaction at
having written and shared it. It is not prodigality but metamorphosis
that informs Florman's book and, by extension, the life of the
I liked Florman's book for another reason outside his veneration of
the "stuff of the earth." It is his implicit but overwhelming reminder
that whether or not a life exists beyond this one, our ultimate
responsibility is to wrench into being those objects and processes that
fulfill our desires for a better, more comfortable, more liberal and
liberalizing world. This entails upon us the necessity and moral duty
to become more politically and scientifically involved in the world, to
base our lives as much as possible on facts, and, wherever possible,
delete illusions which cripple and blind us. While the world we live on
and our own selves are in some sense finite, we are infinitely capable
of creative solutions to the problems of our lives, and it is to this
realization andconstant that Florman's book invites us to return .


A chapter of American Atheists is now forming in
Columbus, Ohio. For information write to:
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Page 21

NA TURE'S WA Y / Gerald Tholen


The "common sense" man of Atheism, Mr. Tholen is the product of the Gulf Coast marshes of Texas.
When he's not slaving over the American Atheist as its Assistant Editor, he's writing poetry for an
Atheist movement to be proud of.
emember how kids used to play sillygames like "Simon Says"? I
suppose kids' games are of legitimate importance in life - what
with all the idle time that most kids usually have - keeps them from
getting bored. Also, if as a kid you won a game, it made you feel like
you were really somebody!
The trouble is that in "society" it seems like people never quit
playing games, never grow up. The only things that ever change are
the "Simonses."
One would think that after people mature and get out "into the
world" they'd quit "stooping and standing" on command! But they
don't - not really. Ifan insurance peddler or a preacher or any other
of the usualauthoritarian figures says "squat," there's usually a quick
response! Talk about your basic military training. I call it the
followship syndrome. Childhood is where it all takes place. By the
time we're adults we've been "potty- trained" into kneeling, groveling,
and/or dittoing the opinions of whoever happens to be in "command."

"One would think that after people mature

and 'get out into the world,' they'd quit 'stooping and standing' on command! But they don't
- not really."
There are so many areas in which psychological obedience is
demonstrated that I don't think people actually realize its enormous
scope. Let's take discussions of the proverbial "third world war" for
instance. Immediately when that phrase is suggested - third world
war - everybody envisions the usual horrible, catastrophic aftermath of nuclear disaster. Ask anybody on the street and they will
probably give you the same stereotypical description that has now
become classic: total destruction; an end of all life; etc., etc. So
repetitious are both question and answer that we could simply affix
them with identification numbers and dispense with all the usual
rhetorical language. Yet, one of the ongoing problems in society is
that people for the most part are totally unable to add insight and thus
become trapped in conversational stagnation. Because of acute
thought difficulties generated in their mostly "Simon Says" rearing,
people usually are too quick to respond to questions and/or
situations. Thy don't take time to think, to examine!
The third world war is already going on - now! It has been going on
for thousands of years! Society, as we know and call it, has never
experienced "peacetime." Sure, we've given classical titles to certain
major periods of hostility: Crimean War; American Revolution; WWI
& WWII; Viet Nam (etc.). But we've duped ourselves into thinking
that the in-between periods were something other than simply
"troughs between the waves." The only reason that any "war" (period
of increased hostility) ever "cooled down" is because one side or the
other ran out of weapons or people! Face it! - You can't be much of a
swordfighter if someone has hacked off both of your arms!
My contention is that people are basically dependent on hostility as
a "means of survival." They do not seek peace, per se. They regard
"peace" as the destruction of competitive cultural impediments. How
Page 22


do you guard the farmer's corn crop? Kill all the crows, of course!
How do you preserve fascism? Kill all the commies!
Isn't it about time folks grew up. I don't think people really believe
that they're being "patriotic" by wanting to kick the hell out of Cuba.
In the U.S. today we've been told that we are "threatened" by alien
governments and "evil." As usual, we dash out of our corners looking
for someone whose face we can "punch in" in order to "preserve our
freedoms"! Don't take me wrong, though. I'm not criticizing anyone
specifically. I'm not saying whether one side or the other of any
conflict is "right" or "wrong." It's just that both sides of any conflict
inherently think that they are "right." I'm saying that all people, in
general, will use violence as a solution to critical circumstances
whether real or imagined. If an adverse international situation
develops, and both sides of that situation feel "threatened" - it only
takes a charismatic "Simon" to say "kill," and the bullets start flying!
In keeping with our simplistic upbringing we have become masters
in the use of slogans and titles. We tend to think that certain political
philosophies will alleviate social pressures and correct world
problems. What a fantasy! Pretending that any political structure can
provide sustenance for geographic population pollution has been
proven to be nothing more than wishful thinking. The end result to the
disgusting practice of widespread overpopulation is that any imagined
governmental placebo will progressively become more "conservative" as census counts increase. All "rights and privileges" will
become more constricted and social conditions willdeteriorate. "Law
and order" will come to be viewed as an enemy rather than a
protector of individual freedoms.
During the course of human history we have witnessed a cycle of
governmental corruption. Early forms of tribal governmental systems, exclusively monarchical, gradually became the targets of
"people's revolutions." It was generally supposed that more democratically oriented systems would guarantee the rights of individuals.
Congresses, parliaments, and proletariats became the hoped for
elixers of people's dreams for governmental benevolence. Like all
dreams, these ideals are melting into unrecognizable masses as
people are forced to awaken to reality. "Democracy" diminishes at a
rate parallel to the scarcity of resources in the ballooning increase of
mouths to feed. The resulting mutation of" democracy" follows one of
two paths, fascism or communism. In their purest forms both are
quite antisocial. The individual loses identity in both instances!
Fascism is fascism - regardless of whether it is managed by a single
"dictator" or a dictatorial body called a congress. When the bulk of
national resources are finally brought under the control of such
systems, an unavoidable "elitist group" will eventually develop. The
same thing is true in a communistic system; the proletariat body also
becomes an elitist group and the "people" its unwary subjects. The
very idea that an economic system like capitalism is any better
safeguard to human individuality is equally ludicrous when one
understands that a "free marketplace" is, or willeventually become, a
monopolistic nightmare when finally swallowed up by the more
proficiently greedy members of the system. In all cases, the elitists will
look to self-preservation of their status in order to perpetuate elitist
existence. The names and faces of the upper echelon may change but
the power structure itself willendure.
The American Atheist

In order to maintain position any government will incorporate

certain practices: (1) The easiest device is the manipulation and/or
utilitarian inclusion of religion as an emotional hook by which a
childish "Simon Says" populace can be coerced into favoring all
manner of insane governmental programs; (2) A subtle and complete
corruption of educational facilities in order to prevent sophistication
of the intelligence levels of the lower and middle classes; (3) A play on
cultural, sexual, racial and ethnic biases in order to prevent block
resistance to "authority." (4) A manipulation of lower/middle class
financial status through taxation, interest rates, commodity prices,
monetary evaluations, etc. in order to keep the masses in a state of
economic instability and thus fearful of their personal livelihoods.
By harnessing the people with these incumbrances, and/or any
subcategories thereof, it is easy for any governmental system to
occupy the immediate attention of nearly all of its mentally indentured
subjects. The public, already convinced that "their" government is
omnipotent, stands ready once again for the anticipated "Simon
Says" instruction of authority. It is an easy task for such constrictorlike governments to strangle dissension. "Heretics" and "radicals" to
any particular system are indicted with charges of impudence and
degeneracy when, in fact, those few who do recognize the gross
injustices and inadequacies of authority are the only ones who ever
try to incorporate change for the benefit of all. It is easy for "Simon" to
say that the Atheist is "evil" and therefore a threat to the "moral fiber"
of the nation. Whereupon the "children" respond by becoming more
quasireligiously obedient and thus wedge themselves even further
under the grinding thumb of theocracy! After all, their "blessed"
educational facilities never taught them what an Atheist actually is only that he/she was "bad." The disorganized ranks of anarchistic
opposition to the "system" can never hope to successfully oppose the
well-oiledand finely-tuned machine that has become our adored
"Simon." And so here the position of humanity festers; looking to its
malignant tumerous "leadership" for cures for its deplorably
cancerous symptoms!


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That is where the new "battle" of World War IIIhas entered upon
the stage. If governments willnot respond to the pitiful conditions of
world population, they (the world population) will elect to selfdestruct, with disjointed and sporadic attacks on militaristic authority, with similar attacks on the oppressive restrictions imposed by
majorities on the rights of minorities, religion against religion (or
nonreligion), culture against culture, and so on - even down to
neighbor against neighbor. It is obvious that the new "battleground" is
the corner supermarket, the post office, the Senate building; a
washeteria or the marine barracks building in Beirut. Any place where
"members of a particular system" are vulnerable to secretive attacks.
If nuclear capabilities are introduced on an "easy to acquire" basis,
they will simply become another means by which destruction is
elevated to a fine and efficient art.
So you see, as I said earlier, World War III - or IV - - or Vwhatever you might choose to call it, is already with us, just like it was
when the first primordial apeman clubbed his first unfortunate
adversary. When individuals willinglybecome members of sheeplike
societies and rely on the "guidance" of their own incorrigible "Simon"
figures - Simon has only to say "die" and thousands of ignorant
savages willdon soldier suits and do what they have been told. It's that
way because there are a lot more "sickniks" than there are
"peaceniks." ~
Austin, Texas

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Page 23


When the first installment of a regularly scheduled, fifteen minute, once a week, American Atheist
radio series on KTBC radio, Austin, Texas (a station owned by then president Lyndon Baines Johnson)
hit the airwaves on June 3rd, 1968, the nation was shocked. The programs had to be submitted weeks
in advance and were heavily censored. The series was concluded on October 18th, 1975 when no
further funding was available.
What follows is a transcript of program #69, which first aired on October 20th, 1969.

e receive in our mail a tremendous amount of material, and

among these are many very very old copies of the "Little
Blue Books." The Little Blue Books were the very first
paperback books in America. They were five inches tall, three and
one half inches wide and usually contained about two dozen pages on
6 or 7 folded sheets of paper. They were priced at 1M each. E.
Haldeman-Julius was the man who conceived of the little books. He
was an Atheist - what else? and everybody who was anybody wrote
for those little Blue Books.
Henry Haldeman, his son, is still around, and still sells some of what
are left of the Little Blue Books, and he and I have just concluded a
contract for me to edit and rewrite and bring up to date every book
that Haldeman-Julius ever published in respect to religion or
Atheism. I also have Hank's permission to use any of the little Blue
Books on this program.
But, there are many that he does not even have anymore - so I
was delighted today to receive in here at our American Atheist Center
Little Blue Book #1637 entitled Absurdities of the Bible and written by
my favorite Atheist, Clarence Darrow.
Television recently had a rerun on a movie about Darrow - the
greatest criminal defense attorney ever to practice in America - and
in the last few moments of this movie we see Clarence Darrow
acknowledging a christian god. Don't you believe it for a moment. He
was an old fire eater, and he said more frankly than I have ever
dreamed of saying, just exactly what he thought of the whole thing.
Let me read to you from Little Blue Book #1637 what Clarence
Darrow really thought - and remember that this is his "harshness"
- I am only quoting!
* * * * *

"Why am I an 'agnostic'? Because I don't believe some of the things

that other people say they believe. Where do you get your religion,
anyway? I think a fair definition of religion could take account of two
things, at least, immortality and god, and that both of them are based
on some book. ...
"As I have neither the time nor the learning to discuss every
religious book on earth, and as I live in Chicago, I am interested in the
christian religion. So, I will discuss the book that deals with the
christian religion. Is the bible the work of anything but man? Of
course, there is no such book as the bible. The bible is made up of 66
books, some of them written by various authors at various times,
covering a period of about 1,000 years - all the literature that they
could find over a period longer than the time that has elapsed since
the discovery of America down to the present time.
"Is the bible anything but a human book? Of course, those who are
believers take both sides of it. If there is anything that troubles them,
'We don't believe this.' Anything that doesn't trouble them they do
"What about its accounts of the origin of the world? What about its
account of the first man and the first woman? Adam was the first,
Page 24





made about less than 6,000 years ago. Well, of course, every scientist
knows that human beings have been on the earth at least a half-million
years, probably more. Adam got lonesome, and they made a
companion for him. That was a good day's work - or a day's work
"They took a simple way to take one of Adam's ribs and cut it out
and made it into a woman.
"Now is that story a fact or a myth? How many preachers would say
it was a myth? None! There are some people who still occupy
christian pulpits, who say it is; but they' used to send them to the stake
for that.
"If it isn't true, then what is? How much did they know about
science in those days? How much did they know about the heavens
The American Atheist

and the earth? The earth was flat, or did god write that down, or did
the old Hebrew write it down because he didn't know any better and
nobody else then knew any better?
"What was the heavens? The sun was made to light the day and the
moon to light the night. The sun was pulled out in the daytime and
taken in at night and the moon was pulled across after the sun was
taken out. I don't know what they did in the dark of the moon. They
must have done something.
"The stars; all there is about the stars - 'the stars he made also.'
They were just 'also.'
"Did the person who wrote that know anything whatever about
astronomy? Not a thing. They believed they were just little things up
in the heavens in the firmament, just a little way above the earth,
about the size of a diamond in an alderman's shirt stud. They always
believed it until astronomers came along and told them something
"Adam and Eve were put in a garden where everything was lovely
and there were no weeds to hoe down. They were allowed to stay
there on one condition, and that is that they didn't eat of the tree of
knowledge. That has been the condition of the christian church from
then until now. They haven't eaten of that tree yet, as a rule they do
"They were expelled from the garden. Eve was tempted by the
snake who presumably spoke to her in Hebrew. And she fellfor it and
of course Adam fell for it, and then they were driven out. How many
believe that story today?
"If the christian church doesn't believe it, why.doesn't it say so?
You do not find them saying that. If they do not believe it here and
there, someone says it. That is, he says it at great danger to his
immortal soul, to say nothing of his good standing in his church.
"The snake was cursed to go on his belly after that. How he went
before, the story doesn't say. And Adam was cursed to work. That is
why we have to work. That is, some of us - not I.
"And Eve and all of her daughters to the end of time were
condemned to bring forth children in pain and agony. Lovely god, isn't
it? Lovely!
"If that story was necessary to keep me out of hell and put me in
heaven - necessary for my life - I wouldn't believe it because I
couldn't believe it.
"I don't think any god could have done it, and I wouldn't worship a
god who would. It is contrary to every sense of justice that we know
anything about.
"God had a great deal of trouble with the earth after he made it.
People were building a tower - the tower of Babel - so that they
could go up and peek over.
"God didn't want them to do that and so he confounded their
tongues. A man would call up for a pail of mortar and they would send
him up a tub of suds, or something like that. They couldn't
understand each other.
"Is that true? How did they happen to right it? He must have
known; he must have been all-knowing then as he is all-knowing now.
"Arid Joshua said to the sun, 'stand still.' Is that true or is it a story?
You remember about Joshua. He was a great general; very righteous,
and he was killing a lot of people, and he hadn't quite finished the job,
and so he turned to the mountain top and said to the sun, 'Stand still
tillI finish this job' and it stood still.
"Is that one of the true stories or one of the foolish ones?
"There are several things that that does. It shows how little they
knew about the earth and day and night. Of course, they thought that
if the sun stood still it wouldn't be pulled along any further and the
night wouldn't come on. We know that if it had stood still from that
day to this it would not have affected the day or the night; that is
affected by the revolution of the earth on its axis.
"Is it true? Am I wicked because I know it cannot possibly be true?
Have you got to get rid of all your knowledge and all your common
sense to save your soul?
"Wait until I am a little older; maybe I can then. But my friend says
that he doesn't believe those stories. They are figurative.
"Are they figurative? Then what about the new testament? Why
does he believe those stories?
Austin, Texas

"Here was a child born of a virgin? What evidence is there? What

evidence? Do you suppose you could get any positive evidence that
would make anyone believe that story today, or anybody, no matter
who it was?
"Child, born of a virgin! There were at least four miraculous births
recorded in the testament. There was Sarah's child; there was
Samson; there was John the baptist; and there was Jesus. Miraculous
births were rather a fashionable thing in those days, especially in
Rome, where most of the theology was laid out.
"Caesar had a miraculous birth. Cicero, Alexander from Macedonia - nobody was in style or great unless he had a miraculous
birth. It was a land of miracles.
"What evidence is there of it? How much evidence would it require
for intelligent people to believe such a story? It wouldn't be possible to
bring evidence anywhere in this civilized land today, right under your
ownnoses. Nobody would believe it, anyway, and yet some people
say that you must believe that without a scintilla of evidence of any

"AmIwicked because Iknow it cannot possibly

be true? Have you got to get rid of all your
knowledge and all your common sense to save
your soul?"
"Jesus had brothers and sisters older than himself. His genealogy
by matthew is traced to his father Joseph (not his father, the holy
ghost) in matthew. Read that.
"What did he do?
"Well, now probably some of his teachings were good. We have
heard about the sermon on the mount. But, there isn't a single word
contained in the sermon on the mount that isn't contained in what is
called the sacred book of the jews, long before he lived - not one
single thing.
"Jesus was an excellent student of jewish theology, as anybody can
tell by reading the gospels; every bit of it was taken from their books of
authority, and he simply said what he had heard of for years and
"But let's look at some things charged to him. He walked on the
water. Now how does that sound? Do you suppose Jesus walked on
the water? Joseph Smith did it when he established the mormon
religion. What evidence have you of that? ...
"How does that commend itself to intelligent people, coming from a
land of myth and fable as all Asia was, a land of myth and fable and
ignorance in the main, and before anybody knew anything about
science? And yet that must be believed - and is - to save us from
our sins?
"What are these sins? What has the human race done that was so
bad, except to eat of the tree of knowledge? Does anybody need to
save man from his sins in a miraculous way? It is an absurd piece of
theology which they themselves say that you must accept on faith
because your reason won't lead you to do it. You can't do it that way.
"I am asked to say why Iam an 'agnostic.' I am an 'agnostic' because
I trust my reason. It may not be the greatest that ever existed. I am
inclined to admit that it isn't. But it is the best I have. That is a mighty
sight better than some other people's at that.
"I am an 'agnostic' because no man living can form any picture of
any god ....
"If there is any god in the universe, I don't know it. Some people say
they know it instinctively. Well, the errors and foolish things that men
have known instinctively are so many we can't talk about them. As a
rule, the less a person knows, the surer he is, and he gets it by instinct,
and it can't be disputed, for I don't know what is going on in another
man's mind. I have no such instinct.
"Let me give you just one more idea of a miracle of this Jesus story
which has run down through the ages and is not at all the sole
property of the christian.
"You remember, when Jesus was born in a manger, according to

April, 1984

Page 25

the story, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem. And they
were led by a star.
"Now the closest star to the earth is more than a billion miles away.
Think of the star leading three moth-eaten camels to a manger! Can
you imagine a star standing over any house?
"Can you imagine a star standing over the earth then? What will
they say, if they had time? That was a miracle. It came down to the
"Well, if any star came that near the earth or anywhere near the
earth, it would immediately disarrange the whole solar system.
Anybody who can believe those old myths and fables isn't governed
by reason."
And that is Clarence Darrow, America's most famous criminal
defense attorney speaking - at age 72, for he was that age when he
wrote the above. Now, how can you believe a movie ending that had
this man turn to christianity and god? That may be allwell and good to
wrap up a story to please the christians in an audience, but it affronts
the memory and the intelligence of the man.
He had some other remarks too at this time which had nothing to
do with religion the way he put them, and yet had everything to do
with religion and I want to leave those ideas with you now.
* * * * *
"I have long stood with the minority on almost every question that
divides man .... No matter how long I live, I shall still be seeking to
convert a blind and credulous people to abandon their idols and join
the thin ranks of the minority and help bear its soiled and tattered
banner to ultimate victory. Still I know that I shall fail. I know that if

perchance the majority could be ranged on my side, it would be as

intolerant and senseless as majorities have always been ....
"If one has taken his place with the minority, if he has defied the
crowd, if he has determined to go alone, he must fearlessly content
himself with his way of life.He cannot pity himself. He must take lifeas
it comes, without regret or complaint.

"Ifone has taken his place with the minority,

if he has defied the crowd, if he has determined
to go alone, he must fearlessly content himself
with his way of life. He cannot pity himself. He
must take life as it comes, without regret or
"This brings loneliness as friends and acquaintances drop out of the
field and leave one to march alone .... the power and the bigotry of
the crowd ... even make me doubt myself. And, does it matter
whether our dreams come true or not? They are essentially true while
they have the reality to move our consciousness ... and it does not
matter whether the work is finished finally or not."
* * * * *
Clarence Darrow died before he saw any finish to the problems, but
his work for the general improvement of man in society was
tremendous and he accomplished much. We take up his banner,
merely, for our fight is an old old one. ~



Page 26

April, 1984


The American Atheist


Israel. Why does god's chosen Yitzhak Shamir drive people off their land, or kill them? Why, god told him to, of course. Ain't y'all read your
bible? Let's cite a few old testament scriptures which most jews, along with old blue-nosed fundamentalist "christians" (who choose only the
scriptures they like), don't seem to know about.
Below, Yitzhak, are a few jewels. God spread dung on priests' faces ("Behold, I willcorrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces,
even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it." - malachi 2:3). God commands the people to bake dung "that
cometh out of man," and eat it ("And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight." ezekieI4:12). And isaiah 36:12 ("But Rabshakeh said, 'Hath my master sent me to thy master and to thee to speak these words? hath he not
sent me to the men that sit upon the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?''') and ii. kings 18:27 ("But
Rabshakeh said, 'Hath my master sent me to thy master and to thee to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit upon the
wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?''') have it a good idea that they "eat their own dung and drink their
own piss." Now, Yitzhak: Why not make the Palestinians drink it and eat it? They'll probably get out of your way fast. Don't be a piker, Yitzhak;
obey your bloody, obscene yahweh!
Your (mjlarnous ancestor David (and supposed ancestor ot one, Jesus), was a biqamist-btsexual-homosexual ("I am distressed for thee, my
brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women." - ii. samuel 1:26; "Now
therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy
wife." - ii. samuel 12:10). How about you, holy one?
Again: David called in a bunch of brave soldiers and without warning attacked an unoffending tribe, slaughtered two hundred men, cut off
their foreskins, and brought the foreskins to show the king his gallant, chivalrous deed. Your jehovah, of course, had created that skin on baby
boys, then had his priestly butchers cut it off!
Why doesn't "The Leader" send Ariel Sharon to bring in a truckload of those foreskins to Jerusalem, where they would cook up into a good
stew? One of your biblical women did boil and eat her son ("So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, 'Give thy
son, that we may eat him:' and she hath hid her son." - ii. kings 6:29). Ifthe foreskin mess rots, give or sell it to foreigners ("Ye shall not eat of
any thing that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou
art a holy people unto the lord thy qod Thou shalt not Sf'f'thf' il kid in his moth=r'< milk"
deuteronomv 14'21).
David was, according to the jewish "good book," one of the scoundrels of history. What does this make oldjehovah who allegedly caused to
be said: "David did that which was right in the eyes of the lord ... all the days of his life? ... " (i. kings 15:5). What consolation for Yitzhak!
This little article must not be closed (It ISvery ditncult tu erose It at dll - It could ed:;llyrun to 4lS':/pages.) without puttmg Moses on record.
Bug your eyes and read exodus 32:26-28 ("The Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, 'Who is on the lord's side? let him come unto me.'
And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, 'Thus saith the lord god of Israel, "Put every man his
sword by his side. and go in and out from gate to gate throuohout the camp. and slav f'Vf'rvman his hrother. and every man his companion. and
every man his neighbor.'" And the children of Levi did according to Moses: and there fellof the people that day about three thousand men.").
One little example: Moses killed 3,000 men! This is the guy whom god told: "Thou shalt not kill!" Run 'em out, Yitzhak. Selah.
In one little instance god himself killed 70,000 men ("Su the lord sent a pestilence upun Israel trom the mormng even to the time appointed:
and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men." - ii. samueI24:15). He shows himself to be such a ruthless
murderer of his children as should make the Begin-Sharon terrorists ashamed of their mercy and cowardice ("And he smote the men of
Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the lord, even he smote of the people fiftythousand and threescore and ten men: and the
people lamented, because the lord had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter." - i. samuel 6:19; "Now go and smite Amalek, and
utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." - i.
samuel 15:3; "And to the others he said in mine hearing, 'Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
Slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my
sanctuary.' Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. And he said unto them, 'Defile the house, and fillthe courts with
the slain: go ye forth.' And they went forth, and slew in the city. And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and Iwas left, that I fellupon
my face, and cried, and said, 'Ah lord god! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?'" - ezekiel
9:5-8: etc.. etc.).
"The lord is a man of war." (exodus 15:3). Here you are, Shamir: March! Terrorize! The rest of the world is out of step. The jewish lord
creates evil ("I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the lord do all these things." - isaiah 45:7). Charles Amlin

Devil. One day the chief priest of the village was making his rounds, collecting alms from the poor villagers. A, he 'Ode on down a
back road on his purebred Arabian steed, he happened upon satan lying in a ditch. He got off his gold encrusted saddle and walked over to the
mortally wounded prince of darkness. "What, pray tell, happened to you?" Satan replied, "I was fallen upon by three angels led by st. Michael;
they each in turn ran me through with their swords." He then moaned, "Please help me or 1willsurely die." The priest shouted, "Praise be the
lord, we are finally done with you." I shall not lift a finger to save you as you have been the tempter and a black mark to mankind since time
"Away with you," continued the priest, "Back to your abode in hell and may you die a thousand deaths." Satan began to quickly lose strength
as the blood poured from his body. He motioned to the priest to come closer as he could barely speak above a whisper. "Do you really want me
to die?" said he. "What willyou do for a living ifI pass? You have built the finest churches, your coffers are full of gold and silver and while the
peasants are starving, you enjoy the fatted calf every evening. Just by invoking my name, you are able to lead whole generations to war,
ignorance and servitude."
At that point the satan passed out seemingly dead. He woke three days later and found himself resting in a large four-poster bed. He was
cleanly robed and well-bandaged. As he pondered his whereabouts, the priest entered the warm room with a tray of food and hot tea. "Good
morning," said the priest, "Hope you are well!" E. Whitaker
Austin, Texas


Page 27

ROOTS OF A THEISM / Madalyn Murray O'Hair


he ancestors of Clarence Darrow were in colonial America for

over a century before the Revolutionary War, in which they
participated. American by roots, education and value systerns, this self-taught man became the single greatest attorney in the
history of our nation. Down-to-earth, basic, principled, driven by a
searching and restless mind, he represents a type which has been rare
but effective in changing the value systems of the United States.
In his autobiography Darrow recalls that his father, Amirus Darwin,
was a methodist, who not alone had a love of books but inundated
their modest home with them. His mother, Emily Eddy Darrow, was
the daughter of a prosperous farmer. After their marriage his parents
moved to Meadville, Pennsylvania, since a methodist institution,
Allegheny College, was there. His father attended and graduated
from that school. Later, he completed a theological degree from the
unitarian school in the same town, but long before Clarence was born
the family had escaped from religion. His father manufactured
individual furniture items (bedsteads, chairs) to support the family,
and he also functioned as the town's coffin maker and undertaker. He
served as the town's link on the Underground Railroad, assisting
runaway slaves. However, as is often the case, the parents felt that
the children should dutifully attend Sunday school and church even if
the parents did not, and although the father had gained a reputation
as the village infidel, the children were taken to church. There Darrow
received a thorough christian education. The family, also, was always
the "opposition" in every majoritarian issue in the town. They were
the freethinkers, the intellectuals, the nonconformists. When his
father was able to purchase a home for the family, even that,
octagonally-shaped as it was, stood out like a sore thumb. Seven of
the eight Darrow children grew to mature years, of which Clarence
was the fifth (born April 18, 1857). His mother died when he was
fourteen years old.
Darrow finished grade school and the local academy before
entering, at age sixteen, his father's alma mater, Allegheny College, . him, one being Henry George's Progress and Poverty, the other being
where he remained for one year, his education being interrupted by
a dissertation by judge John P. Altgeld on Our Penal Code and Its
the Panic of 1873. Obtaining a very small salary, but being "boarded
Victims. Up to this time there had been no analysis of the causes of
round" he then taught school for three years while he was studying . criminality, and Altgeld's book earned him the title of "Father of
law from books in his father's library. He was attracted to debating,
Modern Criminology." Also, it was still in an age when a few writers
which was the favorite form of entertainment in the county - the
were the "giants" in every aspect of politics or life, and people
so-called "Saturday night debate" -, and he participated weekly.
committed themselves to follow these leaders or writers.
With the help of a brother and sister he then attended law school at
Just after Darrow attained maturity (21 years of age), he married
Ann Arbor (Michigan) for one year. Following this he went to work in Jessie Ohl, a daughter of a well established family, owners of large
a law office in Youngstown until he was ready for his examination for
farmlands and a grist mill. They had one son, Paul (born December
admission to the bar in Ohio.
10th, 1883). Finding his practice somewhat boring, he decided to
As he began his law practice, he realized where his rearing and
move to a larger town, Ashtabula, Ohio, a town of about 5,000
education had brought him. He instinctively distrusted the majority
population. There he found work in the office of a judge, with whose
view, his sympathies being early placed with the poor, the oppressed.
backing he was later elected city solicitor, with a salary of $75 a
He was thoroughly independent. The rural, basically farm, communimonth.
ty in which he put out his "shingle" believed in the Republican party
He was quickly into politics and worked for Samuel J. Tilden for
and the divine inspiration of protestantism. He was basically not
president. This disputed presidential election intrigued him. During
interested in obtaining a great deal of money, a modest and
the three campaigns of Grover Cleveland, he expended considerable
comfortable life being more important, but was interested in both
effort on behalf of Cleveland, whom he saw as "one of (his) idols" in
politics - and poker. In his politics he came down for individuals' and
later life. His elder brother, Everett, being in Chicago, he finally
states' rights and free trade. Quite by accident several acquaintances
decided to move to that city in 1888 and immediately joined the Henry
gave him books to read, which came to have a powerful influence on
George Single Tax movement. His legal practice suffered somewhat

Page 28

April, 1984

The American Atheist

since he was not on the side of those who could pay him for his
services and in his first year of practice in Chicago he earned but $300.
Much of his time was in support of Democratic candidates., the single
tax issue, and Atheism, his advocacy of which he used to develop his
speaking techniques. He was an admirer of the oratory of Robert G.
Ingersoll. He was soon to meet Henry George and, on one occasion,
to share a speaking platform with him. There, his presentation was so
bold and well argued that he caught the attention of the mayor who
was in attendance. From this he obtained the job of special
assessment attorney of Chicago, at a salary of $3,000 a year - which
he felt was a fabulous sum. He remained with this mayor and became
acting corporation counsel, the head of the law department of the city
of Chicago.
It was during this period that he sought out John P. Altgeld and
became a friend, the older man educating and influencing the
younger. From 1886 to 1891, Altgeld was a judge of the superior court
of Cook County. In 1892 he was elected governor of Illinois for a
four-year term, being the first Democrat to hold that office since
before the Civil War. His administration was characterized by a
pro-labor program, and he introduced reforms in the penal system,
civilservice, and education.
Later, Darrow was offered the position of general attorney for
Chicago. In that capacity he roundly trounced the attorneys of the
North-Western Railway Company, which - consequently - offered
him employment. Urged by Altgeld to accept the offer, he took the
position. However, he soon found himself on the side of the railroad in
opposition to the persons with whom he identified and whom he
favored: the poor, the exploited, the oppressed. As fortune would
have it, almost immediately Eugene V. Debs' American Railway
Union called for a strike, 1894. The situation became such that the
railroads applied to the federal courts to obtain injunctions against the
strikers. These injunctions, granted by the circuit court, made it a
criminal act for a man to go out on strike and a prison offense for one
man to suggest to another that he should strike. Darrow was so much
in sympathy with the strikers that he quit his job with the railroad in
order to fight the injunction request for the strikers. The U.S.
government sent in federal troops which were used as strike-breakers
and as "scab" labor. At the same time, Eugene V. Debs and his union
executive board were indicted by the federal grand jury for conspiracy and violating the injunctions. After a long, involved, hard
fought legal battle, the railroad broke the union and hounded Debs
into jail on a "contempt" charge for having violated the injunction the
court issued against him. The media, controlled then as now by the
power elite, inflamed the populace against the union organizers.
Utilizing the technique of attempting to indict the railroad for the
crimes which they said the unions had committed, Darrow - during
the trials - tore apart the benevolent facade of the railroads and
exposed the railroad companies' oppression and exploitation of their
workers. From the case Darrow gained national fame for his
sympathetic handling of both labor and criminal issues.
During this period Darrow was openly and notoriously known as an
Atheist, an independent intellectual, an opponent of capital punishment, a friend of socialism and of Anarchism. He continued his public
speaking and debating, attending and lecturing at the Secular Union
and the Atheists' Society in Chicago. Indeed, when an Ingersoll
memorial meeting was held a few weeks after Robert G. Ingersoll's
death, Darrow was the man tapped to give the main speech.
In 1894 Darrow finally opened his own law office. Quickly the
unions found him as an ally. Slowly he also began to build up a
practice of defending criminals. At this time in the United States it was
almost impossible for a Black to obtain good legal counsel. As they
turned to Darrow, he defended them until his clientele included a
large number of Blacks. Charged by his fellows with endangering the
"purity of the Anglo-Saxon race" by this activity. his reply was classic:
"Purity of the Anglo-Saxon race, the greatest race of s.o.b.'s
that ever infested the earth. Mind you, if there is such a race, I
am one of them, because my ancestors lived in this country for
nearly three hundred years. But I do not brag about it; I
apologize for it."
Austin, Texas

A later analysis of his clients and his records would show that from 1/3
to 1/2 of his clientele could not pay him.
The Haymarket riots had occurred just as Darrow moved to
Chicago. Governor Altgeld in 1893 became involved in the issue,
demonstrating considerable courage when he pardoned several of
the Anarchists. Later, in 1894 he insisted that president Cleveland's
use of federal troops to maintain order during the Pullman strike,
without the governor's consent, was unconstitutional. His pro-labor
stance put him in difficulty with the power elite of Illinois, and he was
defeated for reelection in both 1896 and 1900. He lost control of his
investment building and was soon reduced to financial ruin. Because
of their close association throughout the years, Darrow insisted that
the then aging and nearly destitute Altgeld join his firm where he
remained for the short time he had to live. Later, Darrow's financial
salvation was in joining with other attorneys in a larger firm. Here, his
notoriety could bring in business, but sufficient paying legal matters
were handled to keep the law firm afloat. Still interested in politics, he
frequently attended the Democratic conventions. Identified with the
"reform movement" and with radicals in Chicago and the country, he
was often called upon to defend them when they were arrested,
usually on trumped up criminal charges.

"Charged by his fellows with endangering the

'purity of the Anglo-Saxon race,' ... his reply
was classic: '... if there is such a race, I am one
of them, . . . But I do not brag about it; I
apologize for it.' "
Unfortunately during this period, Darrow's wife leaned more and
more toward the role of homemaker and mother while Darrow was
inclined to continue social engagement, political activity, the life of
literary influence. The two began, and continued, to drift apart, and
their marriage ended in divorce in 1897.
Clarence Darrow, as almost every single Atheist leader, orator or
writer, soon came to an advocacy of "free love." Basically this is
simply the idea that human sexuality is a private affair, that the
government, religion, or family cannot dictate to any person what
their sexual life may be. The idea called for lovers to remain together
only when the relationship was satisfactory to both and to terminate it
when it was not. Much of the fight centered around the restrictive
divorce laws of the day, the continuing dependent position of women
often trapped in a marriage they could not tolerate. Closely associated with this was the demand to have information concerned with
birth control so that women would not be burdened with a life of
continual pregnancy. After his divorce Darrow came to be widely
known for his "free love" stance, and it was not expected that he
would ever either marry or settle down to a single relationship again.
However, in Spring 1899, when he was 42 years of age, he met Ruby
Hamerstrom, an auburn-haired beauty who was a hopeful free-lance
writer, then 26 years of age, and this was the beginning of a lifelong
liaison. They remained together for over 40 years until his death.
In 1900 when William Randolph Hearst invaded Chicago, hopeful of
establishing a newspaper there, after hiring Darrow to incorporate
the Evening American, Hearst (then a liberal) gave him the opportunity to write essays (columns) in that daily journal. The essays were
later published under the title A Persian Pearl, and Other Essays.
It is not known at what time he met Haldeman-Julius, an Atheist,
the father of the paperback book industry in the United States. But,
he was soon writing for "Little Blue Books," the series of which
Haldeman-Julius thought would educate the working man of our
nation. His writings also appeared in the old Atheist journal, The
Truth Seeker. At one point he managed to have printed, by the
Stratford Co., of Boston, Massachusetts, a hardback book titled
Infidels and Heretics, An Agnostic s Anthology. It was co-authored
by Wallace Rice and consisted of essays which had been written by
persons throughout the ages who could be categorized as opposed to
the religions of their day. The essays included those written by


Page 29

Protagoras, Shakespeare, Whitman, Mark Twain, Nietzsche, Emerson, Swinburne, Shelley, Ingersoll, etc. The book spoke to Darrow's
attempt to identify for Atheism, agnosticism, or freethought all of the
"good" people he could cull out in his extensive reading.
In 1902 the United Miners, under John Mitchell, struck the coal
fields in Pennsylvania, and called upon Darrow to protect the
anthracite-coal miner's fight. In the long battle which ensued, Darrow
suggested that an arbitration board be set up. When this was finally
effectuated, he was called upon by president Theodore Roosevelt to
sit on the arbitration board in both Scranton and Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, which produced a plan for substantial (10%) raise of
wages, better conditions and shorter hours of labor, a plan which was
to bring 25 years of peace to the anthracite region. During this time
also, Altgeld had been elected governor, while Darrow was elected to
the Illinois legislature. Altgeld, wholly on the side of the masses of
working men, had a stormy and difficult time in office. Darrow, at the
same time, was an isolated figure championing social reforms and as
such was almost totally ineffective. He could only fight on the side of
compensation for those injured while he sought to move against laws
increasing penalties and creating new crimes, often being successful
in neither.

"Clarence Darrow, as almost every single

Atheist leader, orator or writer, soon came to
an advocacy of 'free love.' Basically this is
simply the idea that human sexuality is a
private affair, that the government, religion, or
family cannot dictate to any person what their
sexual life may be."
Darrow captivated the nation with his rhetoric. People fought to be
introduced to him, to know him, to touch his fountain of wisdom. An
anecdote is often told about his handling of these approaches. One
young man asked him, while he was on a trip to D. c., to come to hear
president Taft address the joint House and Senate. Taft had issued
the first injunction against the American Railway Union and Darrow
was reluctant to go. The young man prevailed upon him. The galleries
were packed and Taft received a tremendous ovation. The young
man watched Darrow eagerly for some reaction to Taft's words, but
he remained stony faced. Toward the end of the speech Darrow
nudged him, and he thought that at last he would hear a pearl of
wisdom as he leaned closer to catch every word. "Fat s.o.b, ain't he?"
Darrow asked. This down-to-earth attitude endeared him to the
common man everywhere. He is one of the few persons of whom it
can be said that he was a legend in his own time. He is an authentic
part of American folklore.
With Altgeld dead and another partner gone atter marrymg the
daughter of a very wealthy man and leaving the firm to undertake the
handling of the man's real estate, Darrow found himself without help.
As a consequence he formed a partnership with Edgar Lee Masters,
the Spoon River poet. For eight years this law firm, with one addition,
was one of the most successful in Chicago, clearing from $25,000 to
$35,000 a year for each partner. But it all blew up one afternoon in the
Spring of 1911 when union officials in the West were arrested on
murder charges.
No matter where he was in any other case, or in any situation,
always he was on the side of the unionization of the workers. When
they called, he came. There was much union organizing activity then,
along with elaborate plans of industry and government to break the
unions. The problem of "scab" or nonunion workers presented one of
the insoluble dilemmas of that day. The work week was still 72 hours.
Pay often was no more than $1.40 a day. The millions of workingmen
who were joining together to change their lot suffered the privations
of a strike, the risk of blacklisting. By their union activity they often
denied their own families the necessities of lifein order to better their
lot for the future, while their neighbors and friends were too timid, too
frightened, too needy, too brutalized to care about bettering the lot of
Page 30

April, 1984

either themselves, their families or future generations. Darrow was

completely psychologically committed to the union struggle, to the
closed shop, to the fight for better working conditions, shorter hours,
better pay. Industrial America saw this as a war between the workers
and the owners of industry. The wars were in every location, in every
type of industry: mining, railroads, garment production, building
trades. One such continuing war was in the west with the miners.
And, it was there that the militant miners fought back with the same
weapons the mine owners used: fists, clubs, bullets, dynamite. They
had shot it out with the Pinkertons, deputies and scabs; they had used
their guns to save possession of their homes, their jobs. There was
open and avowed warfare between the state of Colorado and the
Union. In a two-year period, 42 men were killed, 112 injured, 1,345
arrested, 773 "deported" from the state. In June, 1904 a small railroad
depot was blown up, killing 14 men. In December, 1905, a bomb was
left at the home of the ex-governor of the nearby state of Idaho, the
explosion resulting in his death. Darrow deplored the violence, even
while understanding what drove the working man to it. Unable to
negotiate, the men in desperation fought back with the same methods
used against their organizing unions, and always these were violent.
Now, in both instances the United Mine Workers' union officials were
carefully set up as patsies. The man who confessed to planting the
bombs, Harry Orchard, almost immediately "turned to god" in a
dripping conversion and named the union as being ultimately
responsible for the acts. Darrow, of course, appeared to take the
cause of the unionists who had been charged with conspiracy to
commit the crime: Charles Moyer, the president of the federation and
Big Bill Haywood, its secretary-treasurer. They were promptly
kidnapped in Colorado and driven over the state line into Idaho to be
put in a federal prison there as all laws concerned with the process of
extradition were arrogantly ignored. Their trials created an international sensation as working men everywhere waited for the
outcome. Again, the hostility was so thick that Darrow felt it
necessary to deny Eugene V. Debs permission to appear in Boise to
report the trial in his journal, The Appeal to Reason. Big BillHaywood
was eventually found "not guilty" in an explosive and long fought trial,
further enhancing Darrow's reputation as an "attorney for the
defense," especially since the prosecution had been led by the
renowned William E. Borah. But this main legal action of the miners'
unionization attempts was surrounded with trials and problems in
many states in the West, and for over two years Darrow was on the
road defending the unionists who had been charged, primarily with
conspiracy - in addition to miscellaneous charges of murder
wherever a trumped up charge could be made. In one notorious trial
the body of the allegedly murdered man was never really identified,
nor was the cause of the murder ever really found.
In Spring, 1911, again the unionists, Anarchists, were charged with
a ruinous fire resulting from a bomb placed outside the Los Angeles
Times building. Twenty-one workers perished in the blaze. The
brothers James and Joseph McNamara were immediately arrested
and Samuel Gompers came to Darrow to seek his aid for the defense.
Incidents around the country clearly showed the temper of the times.
Maxim Gordy, in the United States with his common-law wife, was
ejected from his hotel in New York because he sent a sympathetic
telegram to the accused men. He was also refused other accommodations and driven from the country on the grounds of "moral
turpitude." Seeing the hostility of the community and the 21
indictment counts, Darrow felt that plea bargaining was his best hope
to save the life of the McNamara brothers. They had been charged
with committing more than a hundred dynamitings between 1906 and
1911, of blowing up bridges, aqueducts, powerhouses, theaters, steel
buildings, in every major city in America. No 50 men could have
committed the crimes of which the two were accused. Although the
last incident happened in California, the McNamara brothers were
found in Illinois, where they were both arrested. and once again,
without extradition, shipped to California. This time however, the
head of the detective agency who had found them, and the assistant
district attorney of Los Angeles, who had them shipped to California,
were later indicted by an Indiana jury for fraudulent conspiracy. This,
The American Atheist

however, did not help the McNamaras in their California trial. Lincoln
Steffens, a muckraker, meanwhile appeared in Los Angeles to try to
see if there could be plea bargaining in the case. He soon convinced
Darrow to give it a try. Darrow had meantime absolutely established
that the McNamara brothers had indeed been guilty of acts of
violence and that he could not prove their innocence of allthe charges
against them. Certain that the state would get the death sentence,
which it desired, Darrow cajoled the brothers to offer in a plea of
"guilty," taking a life term for the former and 10 years for the latter.
The trial judge would not have the lO-year term and insisted on
increasing it to 15. The labor movement of the world was stunned and
felt betrayed that Darrow had not fought this hopeless case to its
hopeless conclusion. The industrial oligarchy of the. nation was
equally furious that the men escaped hanging. Labor, feeling
betrayed, would never again ask Darrow to handle any of their cases.
Seeing that the McNamaras had escaped the death sentence, the
politicians, also embittered, saw to it that harassment was used
against Darrow who was indicted for conspiracy to corrupt a juror,
two counts. A jury found him to be not guilty, in a 90 day trial, after
almost two years of legal activity against him.
Unfortunately for Darrow, the unions for which he worked were
not well financed. His legal costs were barely met. Often he had to
borrow money to continue and by the time the California cases were
concluded he was over $20,000 in debt. He returned to Chicago
where he remained throughout the First World War. During this
period it was necessary for him to begin at the bottom again to rebuild
his law practice. But the plea of "guilty" which he 'had made for the
McNamaras had put a cloud over him, as had the charges which had
been made against him in California. On his return his legal work gave
him only $3,750 during the first year.
To supplement his income he had to turn to other activities. He so
dearly loved to lecture that he accepted a contract for forty
appearances on the (christian) Chautauqua lecture circuit, being paid
from $100 to $300 for each appearance. He was a certain "draw" for a
crowd, one of the finest lecturers of the day. But, the finest of these he
reserved always for the court room. It was also during this period that
he turned more and more to the acceptance of criminal cases.
Although an ardent pacifist for most of his life, when World War I
was upon the nation, he felt that it was no longer a sensible position.
Yet, he rushed to the side of the first conscientious objectors. In 1918
when the British were trying to find someone who would speak for
them in their need to consolidate and strengthen American sympathy
for the British, they chose Clarence Darrow, offering him a four
month stay in their country. There he met H.G. Wells and other
notables. Yet, when he did return home, his first activity was to offer
$1,000 to anyone who could bring forward evidence of a French or
Belgian child whose hands had been cut off, or who could otherwise
prove the "German soldier atrocities" which the Allies alleged.

"The case had begun when a minister had

started to preach on a street corner and among
the Italians who had gathered round had been
the 11 defendants. They had cried out, 'I don't
believe in god; 1 don't believe in priests; 1 don't
believe in what you are saying.' The next
Sunday (the minister) took four police with him
and in a brawl which erupted two of the
Anarchist hecklers were shot to death. The
hecklers were put in jail."
Therefore, again he was in trouble. Immediately after the war he
was called to yet another radical case. A group of (foreign, i.e.
immigrant, Italian, non English-speaking) Anarchists in Milwaukee,
Wisconsin had been charged with having in their possession pamphlets, magazines and newspapers which set forth the political virtues of
Anarchism. Sent to jail for 25 years, having served one year, they
Austin, Texas

asked Darrow to appeal their case. The case had begun when a
minister had started to preach on a street corner, and among the
Italians who had gathered round had been the 11 defendants. They
had cried out, "I don't believe in god; I don't believe in priests; I don't
believe in what you are saying." The next Sunday he took four police
with him and in a brawl which erupted two of the Anarchist hecklers
were shot to death. The hecklers were put in jail. While there a bomb
was exploded near the police station, and the charged Anarchists
were charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Darrow began the
appellate process, but the solution was in his approach to the
governor who pardoned the men and the woman.

Also, after the World War I the U.S. Congress passed the
Espionage Act of 1918, the Sedition Act of 1918, and the infamous
Overthrow Act which forbade free discussion, either orally or in the
press. Almost 2,000 American citizens were sent to prison for terms
of ten to twenty years under an almost complete suspension of civil
liberties in these years. The success of the Communist Revolution in
Russia had immediate and drastic repercussions in the United States.
American troops were immediately sent to invade Russia via Siberia.
Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer authorized raids upon American homes, and thousands of persons were rounded up in illegal
raids. Among these were sixteen members of the Communist Labor
Party who were quickly indicted in Chicago, and Darrow was
immediately called to the defense. Darrow's arguments to the jury
were so compelling and so in support of those arrested that the world
wondered aloud ifthe court would also indict Darrow under the same
federal laws for what he said in the court room in support of his
clients. Everyone was found guilty. The supreme court of Illinois
affirmed the verdict and the governor promptly pardoned them.
Although, as here, he was able to obtain a victory outside of the
biased judicial system, he frequently lost his cases. His skillful
presentations, analysis of the sociocultural factors, rhetorical skill
and carefully orchestrated arguments focused such attention on the
issues that each trial was formed into a cause celebre. When he
addressed the jury, he was addressing the world, educating them,
changing their thinking, appealing to the common ties they had with
the workingmen who were charged, forcing them to identify with the
problems of those who were charged unfairly with criminal activity.
In 1924 he was called to the defense of Richard Loeb, age 17, and
Nathan Leopold, age 18, both brilliant intellectuals, both from
extremely wealthy families, charged with the thrill murder of a 14-year
old boy. The youths confessed the crime and the parents came to
Darrow to somehow have the death sentence avoided. Darrow had
written a book in respect to capital punishment pleading in it that
sociocultural elements were woven into every crime, that the actual
pattern of a man's life was set by hereditary characteristics and the


Page 31

environment into which he was born. Titled Crime, Its Cause and
Treatment, it pled for understanding and rehabilitation of the criminal.
In this case, seeing excessive wealth, certain physical deficiencies,
and "deviant sexual practices" as being the proximate cause of the
murder, Darrow decided to use the defense of pleading guilty and
asking for leniency because of the insanity of the two young men. The
trial continued for over a month and Darrow's final argument lasted
for over three days. From this he was to be tagged by the media as
"The Old Lion." Another two weeks were taken for the judge to come
to a decision. What Darrow had fought for was gained: life-terms
instead of the death penalty. Not alone his taking of this case but his
successful defense plan caused an avalanche of protest to slide over
Darrow. The American public and press attacked him with adverse
criticism and scoffing, feeling that he had sold out to the rich.
However, six months after the trial the families of the two young men
had not even approached Darrow to talk about fees. At the end of
another month Richard Loeb's uncle came to Darrow's office to give
him a check for a mere $30,000, but Leopold's family never paid a
Darrow loved to travel and on several occasions visited as much of
Europe as he could see on one trip. As he continued in age,
approaching his 70s, he became more and more interested in religion
and in debating on the same. He constantly attacked the intellectual
base of organized religion. Yet, the world insisted on seeing him as a
religious man as again and again he was characterized as "demonstrating the reality of the religion which he denied," or as "exemplifying christian life." His friends apologized for his. Atheism and
described him as an agnostic. Yet, he was a completely convinced
Materialist. His biographers insisted in reading religion into the man:
"He was a christian by example and precept, but by intellect he was
an agnostic. He was no Atheist." they wrote. But, it was just his base
in Atheism which prepared him for his most famous legal action of all.
In 1925 Darrow's attention was drawn to another case which was
unfolding, and for which he - personally - volunteered his services.
William Jennings Bryan had also been on the Chautauqua lecture
circuit giving lectures on jesuchrist, "The Prince of Peace," (his chief
campaign document in the presidential race of 1908) and collaborating with a group of religious "fundamentalists" seeking to
control some aspects of the public school system. A special purpose
was to introduce legislation in the various states which would forbid
the teaching of evolution, or any doctrine in conflict with the genesis
story of creation. Strong movements were by then already under way
in fifteen states to enact this antievolution law - to keep the subject
from being handled in public schools. Kentucky defeated the bill by
one vote. Tennessee and Mississippi passed the bill by an almost
unanimous vote. The governor of Tennessee wanted, he said, to veto
it, but did not have the courage.

"On the day of the ('MonkQYTrial'), court

opened with a long prayer and on the second
day Darrow objected pointedly to that exercise."
Meanwhile, John T. Scopes, a 21-year old teacher of biology in
Dayton, Tennessee, was indicted for teaching that the origin of life
was not through the divine intervention of god as outlined in the
"holy" bible. Scopes hired a former law professor in the U. of
Tennessee, and the Civil Liberties Union of New York City financed
the case. Bryan volunteered to go to Dayton to assist in the
prosecution and Darrow immediately volunteered for the defense.
Darrow was caustic in his evaluation of Bryan. "Mr. Bryan . . .
represented religion, and in this he was the idol of all Morondom." He
noted, "On the other hand, I had been reared by my father on books
of science. Huxley's books had been household guests with us for
years, and we had all of Darwin's as fast as they were published."
When Darrow arrived in the city the city was decked out for a
carnival. Banners and flags hung across Main street, "Where WillYou
Page 32

April, 1984

Spend Eternity," "Sweethearts, Come to Jesus." The Anti-Evolution

League had taken over an entire building, set up book stalls to sell
Bryan's books. Hundreds of untutored mountain preachers roamed
the streets, bibles in hand. Newspapermen were there by the
hundreds and the case came finally to be known as "The Monkey
On the day of the trial, court was opened with a long prayer, and on
the second day Darrow objected pointedly to that exercise. Darrow
was quick to the assault, and in his opening statements noted:
"They make it a crime to know more than I know. They
publish a law to inhibit learning. This law says that it shall be a
criminal offense to teach in the public schools any account of
the origin of man that is in conflict with the divine account that
is in the bible. It makes the bible the yardstick to measure every
man's intelligence and to measure every man's learning. Are
your mathematics good? Turn to i. elijah 2 (pseudoepigrapha
of the old testament - ed.). Is your philosophy good? See ii.
samuel 3. Is your chemistry good? See deuteronomy 3:6, or
anything that tells about brimstone. Every bit of knowledge that
the mind has must be submitted to a religious test."
The defense assembled an illustrious group of biologists, zoologists,
geologists, anthropologists, educators, clergymen, and bible experts.

"Gathering Data for the Tennessee Trial," cartoon by

Rollin Kirby from the New York World, 1925

Only one of these was permitted to testify and that while the jury was
removed. Because the courtroom was so hot - and packed - at one
point the trial was moved outside, There Darrow demanded that a
sign on the side of the building facing the jurors which read "Read
Your Bible" be taken down. Nonetheless, with a recalcitrant, fearful
and religious judge, the hearing was orchestrated to bring a verdict of
guilty. Seeing that it was so, Darrow asked the jury to agree on a
verdict of guilty in order that the case might be appealed to the
Tennessee Supreme Court. The judge instructed the jury to bring
such a sentence, and it did. The trial was over.
Bryan, who had acted as both prosecutor and witness, died from a
heart attack the day after the verdict was given, Scopes was fined
$100, and the case was appealed to the supreme court of Tennessee
which, over a year later, reversed the decision - on the technicality
that judge Raulston, instead of the jury, had fixed the amount of the
fine. It was a politic evasion of the appellate court's responsibility, but
the publicity attached to the trial had discredited the fundamentalist
doctrines which were not to return to the American scene until our
own era.
After having practiced law for 50 years, Darrow decided to retire in
1928. He took one year for a visit to Europe, enjoyed his retirement
for several years, and then came the stock market crash. He was left
destitute, for his entire retirement hope had been in investments. In
order to make a living he agreed to travel the country staging a
four-way debate, together with a protestant clergyman, a jewish
rabbi, and a prominent catholic spokesman, Most often the crowds
The American Atheist

came beyond the capacity of the halls to hold them. Reporters wrote,
"Eighty percent of the audiences hated Darrow's point of view and
came to hear it demolished." The intensity of feeling against him was
extraordinary. Yet, he loved it and it was his arguments which carried
the day.
It was in 1932 that he was requested to defend Mrs. Fortescue and
lieutenant Massie in Honolulu. Massie, aged 27, was a lieutenant in
the U.S. navy, married to Thalia Fortescue. One evening she was
forced into an automobile by five men, raped, her jaw broken in two
places. The five men were identified and arrested but soon ugly
stories began to appear questioning Mrs. Fortescue's reputation. In
order to counter the stories her husband and some naval friends
kidnapped the leader of the assailants, a Hawaiian. While in their
hands the Hawaiian stated that he had indeed raped Mrs. Fortescue,
whereupon lieutenant Massie shot and killed him. Darrow, of course,
went to Hawaii. He made no attempt to deny the killing, but insisted
that the story of the rape be told as reason for mitigation. Carefully
leading the wife through the story, including her subsequent need for
a curettement abortion, he was able to picture the state of mind of the
husband and to focus public sympathy with him. The husband and
wife,with their three accomplices, were found guilty of manslaughter,
with a recommendation for leniency. With the publicity attendant on
the trial, with Darrow's poignant arguments for the defense, the
governor, of course, commuted the sentences. Of the over 100 cases
of murder which he handled, no client was ever executed.
Shortly after he was called to Washington to sit on a board which
had been given the job of reviewing the National Recovery Act of July,
1933. But, he met with Franklin Roosevelt first so that he could be
assured of having a free hand in that review. After four months of
investigation and fifty-seven public meetings, examination of 34 codes
of law and investigating 3,000 complaints, he became convinced that
the N.R.A. assisted big business, caused price setting, condoned
oppressive practices of monopolies, and left labor controversies
without arbitration boards. The Senate Investigating Committee,
however, did not take kindly to the criticism. Although some of his
ideas were incorporated into practice, it was another time when he
could not carry his convictions.

protection from any source.

It appears appropriate that he should be permitted to speak for
himself, and he has done so. In his autobiography, The Story of My
Life, Clarence Darrow used three chapters to speak to his Atheism.
These were titled, (1) "Questions without Answers," (2) "Future
Life," and (3) "Delusion of Design and Purpose."
Excerpts from Questions without Answers:
"When I am daringly asked if I can imagine the universe
making itself I always frankly admit that I cannot imagine it; but
still the question provokes some thought. If god made the
universe, when did he make it? What did he make it of? Did he
make it out of nothing? If so, can anyone imagine something
being made of nothing? It might be interesting to sit quietly
down for a day or two, say, and try to imagine something being
made of nothing. If you cannot imagine this, then was there
matter before god made the universe? If so, did that matter
always exist? Did it come before god came, or after, or at the
same time? And suppose that god did not make matter out of
nothing? Then the matter must have existed independently of
god, and, ifso, in what form did it exist? It must have had some
shape of which we can conceive ....
"Then what about god. Did he exist in all eternity? Or, can
you imagine all eternity? Assuming that you might imagine all
eternity, how long would you need in which to imagine it? Is god
something, or is he nothing? If he is nonexisting, then can you
imagine nothing that is something? If he is something, then did
he always exist, or did he create himself? Did god who was
already nothing make himself into something? If god is
something, and existed from eternity, then is he not a part of
the universe? ...

"People poured out to view h im in his casket the funeral home not shutting its doors for 48
hours as they filed past. He had asked for a
judge, instead of a minister, to give a final
oration for him."
Clarence Darrow had "heart trouble" since he was 78, and he
slowly began to cut down his activities until by the age of 80 he simply
could not continue either writing, speaking, visiting. His energy was
low and he was attended by male nurses constantly. He spent a slow
and painful year in dying, and on March 13, 1938, at age 81, the end
came. People poured out to view him in his casket - the funeral
home not shutting its doors for 48 hours as they filed past. He had
asked for a judge, instead of a minister, to give a final oration for him.
He asked that he be cremated. His son, Paul, attended to this and
spread his ashes on the shores of the lake. The funeral director would
accept no payment for his services and from across the nation came
accolades for him.
Although in different situations in his life he identified with
freethinkers, or agnostics, or what he called "heretics," his private
position was obviously that of an Atheist. He totally embraced
Materialism, which is the core of the Atheist position. Also, in this era
few publishers would permit the use of the words "Atheism" or
"Atheist" in texts of books or articles, and Darrow could only hint at
his correct position. Likewise, he flirted with socialism, perhaps even
with communism, but as he struggled with the ideas, evaluating and
re-evaluating them, he would softly consign himself to the nonviolent
Anarchist ranks of no governmerit being the best government, of
protection of the inalienable rights of man being in need of major
Austin, Texas

"Where did god come from? The maker is surely bigger than
his creation. If not, then the universe may have made god! Is it
any more logical for you to tell me that the universe must have
had a maker than for me to reply that, by the same logic, god
must have had a maker? ...
"If there is a god, is he a being? Has he limitations in time and
space? - or do you know anything about time and space? Has
he length and breadth, thickness, or whatever dimensions
metaphysics teach? ...
"Does he extend out into the Nebula M 31 which is so far off
that it takes a hundred and forty millionyears for a ray of light to
reach the earth, travelling all the time at the rate of 186,000,000
miles a second? Oh, pooh! - what does one know about it,
anyhow, when he talks about god? Have you any conception of

April, 1984

Page 33

the being of whom you think to speak? Can one believe in a god
without in some way forming an image of the entity of which he
talks? ... "
Excerpts from Future Life:
"The fact that there is a general belief in a future life is no
evidence of its truth. Men have always harbored delusions of all
kinds. Sometimes they abandon the ones held for other
delusions, or give them up without providing for any substitutes ....
"Is it not strange that men cling so tenaciously to the belief in
immortality. In a large majority of the cases the belief is not a
belief, but, in reality, a hope. Few ever investigate the evidence;
they are afraid to face the question. Anyone who even speaks
of it as questionable meets the reception of the her alder of bad
news. Almost everyone who enters any discussion of it
remarks that if there is no future existence then life is not
worthwhile. It is amazing what confidence they feel that the
being who made this life which is a failure would do any better
with another ....
"If there is one single scrap of proof that we are alive after we
are dead, why is not that scrap given to the world? Certainly
under all the rules of logic, the one who assumes that an
apparently dead person is still alive should be able to produce
substantial proof. Not only is there no evidence of immortality,
but the facts show it is utterly impossible for us should there be
a life beyond this earth ....

"(From Future Life): 'Not only is there no evidence of immortality, but the facts show it is
utterly impossible for us should there be a life
beyond this earth.' "
"There is no evidence of mind or personality existing outside
of or apart from a physical form. Everyone knows of the infinite
number of deaths and dissolutions, and they also know that, so
far as any scrap of evidence is concerned, individual death
means the end of the individual life....
"Men and women who profess christianity die by thousands
every day. No matter how fatal the disease, how great the
agony, how sure they are of heaven, they willtravel the world
over and be cut to pieces by inches so that they can stay in this
vale of tears a few days longer, when they might be singing
hosannahs and enjoying all the pleasures of the blest. Ifanyone
knew of, or even had a strong belief in, a heaven of peace and
comfort and joy they would be more anxious to go there. No
one ever witnesses a group of children with tickets for the
circus tarrying long outside the big tent when they know that
the show is going on."
"Death is a common lot. But why death, if we are to
continue? If there is no death, what reason can there be for
putting a human being in the ground, letting his flesh and bones
decay, and sending his soul adrift up in the Milky Way, or
somewhere else in infinite space? Why was he not born there?
The reason is that the men who wrote the stone tablets long
ago did not know there was a Milky Way; they never got
beyond a firmament above the earth whither men and women
went up and down a ladder. ... "
Excerpts from Delusion of Design and Purpose:
"The earth revolves around the sun in a long curve not far
from a circle. Does that show order? Let us suppose that
instead of going in a circle it formed a rectangle. Would this not
have been accepted as order? Suppose it were a triangle, or any
other figure. Suppose it took a toothlike course, would that
then be considered order? As a matter of fact, the earth does
not go regularly in the same path around the sun; it is drawn out
into the universe with the whole solar system, and never travels
the same course twice ....
Page 34


"Even had this planet been meant for life, it plainly was not
meant for human life. Three-fourths of the surface is covered
with water, which would show that ifit was ever designed for life
it was designed for fishes and not for men. But what about the
dry land? Two-thirds of it is not fitted for human beings. Both
the polar zones are too cold for the abode of man. The
equatorial regions are too hot. Vast deserts are spread out in
various sections, and impassable and invincible mountain
ranges make human habitation and the production of food
impossible over immense areas. The earth is still small enough,
to begin with; the great seas, the wide useless stretches of land,
the hostile climates have shrunk the livable portion almost to
the vanishing point, and it is continually shrinking day by day.
The human race is here because it is here, and it clings to the
soil because there is nowhere else to go....
"Nature brings hordes of insects that settle over the land and
destroy the farmers' crops. Who are the objects of the glorious
design: the farmers who so patiently and laboriously raise the
crops or the grasshoppers that devour them? It must be the
insects, because the farmers hold prayer meetings and implore
their god to kill the bugs, but the pests go on with their deadly
work unmolested. Man prates glibly about design, but Nature
furnishes not a single example or fact as proof. Perhaps the
microbe which bores a hole into the vitals of man and brings
him down to his death may believe in Providence and a design.
How else could he live so royally on the vitals of one of the lords
of creation? ...
"No one can give a reason for any or all of the manifestation
which we call life....
"Men have built faith from hopes. They have struggled and
fought in despair. They have frantically clung to life because of
the will to live. The best that we can do is to be kindly and
helpful toward our friends and fellow passengers who are
clinging to the same speck of dirt while we are drifting side by
side to our common doom."
Clarence Darrow occupied a unique position in the legal profession
and was a social force in American life primarily because of his
restless and inquisitive mind. That alone is the hallmark of Atheism.

Ed. - American Atheists is fortunate and proud to have as a

member and friend for over 20 years, William Schramm of
Minnesota, a "pioneer" Atheist who was present at the Scopes trial
in Tennessee in 1925. Recently he sent to us the following account of
his experience in that trial.
"Memory now takes me back to the 1925 Scopes monkey
trial in Tennessee where I was among those present and came
into contact with John T. Scopes, Clarence Darrow and
William Jennings Bryan. You may remember Bryan was
Secretary of State before his resignation under President
Woodrow Wilson during World War I. I was the last person to
see Bryan alive. At meal times he was a glutton for eating,
sometimes devouring a Cornish game bird at a meal. I was
making an appointment with him to take an afternoon walk
with him during which he was to answer the questions I would
ask him, when he said: 'I just ate a big dinner and I'llhave to take
a nap first to settle it. What do you say if we take our stroll at
three o'clock?' I said: That'll be fine with me.'
"Three o'clock came and Bryan didn't show up. Time went
by until five o'clock, when then I asked someone in authority to
go and see ifmy appointee was still asleep. He came back with a
very sober face. Vigorous shaking hadn't awakened Mr. Bryan.
He was dead." ~

The American Atheist

REPORT FROM INDIA / Margaret Bhatty


In 1978 your editors, assisted by Joseph Edamaruku, editor of an Indian
Atheist publication, combed India seeking writers who would consistently
offer an interpretation of Indian religious events. Margaret Bhatty, in Nagpur,
a well-known feminist journalist, agreed that she would attempt to do so in
the future. She joined the staff of the American Atheist in January, 1983.

ourists to India are often puzzled and intrigued to see small

groups of exotic sari-clad women on city streets, heavily madeup, with hennaed hands, elaborate coiffures and garish jewelry. They
sway their hips provocatively as they walk and gesticulate in an
exaggerated manner, but they all have rough male voices. These are
not transvestites but members of a widespread religious cult, a
bizarre "sisterhood" of eunuchs or hijras. No serious study has yet
been done of their strange beliefs, but in Bombay, at any rate, they
have become one of the "musts" for tourists alohg with the "cage
girls" of the city's redlight areas.
There is no census of the number of such eunuchs in India, but
despite a law against emasculation the community continues to grow.
They hold annual conventions to draw the government's attention to
their grievances and two even stood as candidates for election in
1962, though without success. Had they won, their presence in the
central or state legislature would have caused considerable dismay
and amusement. Indians regard them with embarrassment and
derision mixed with a little fear. It is believed that emasculation
endows them with great magical power and a hijra's curse is thought
to be particularly malevolent.
Eunuchs have been part of oriental tradition as bodyguards in
harems and as trusted slaves. One usually associates them with
islamic societies. In India they also taught music and dancing to
women of the upper classes.
But today the cult is a religious one. It takes in both muslim and
hindu devotees. In fact, some ancient hindu legends around mythical
heroes describe them as hijras with magical powers and enormous
shakti or psychic power.
The patron deity is a mother goddess called Bahuchara-mata, who
rides a rooster or a peacock. It is sad that this beautiful young woman
was once waylaid by bngands and she cut olf her breasts with a
dagger and offered them to her captors. This put them off so
effectively that she was able to preserve her virginity. Sexual
abstinence, self-mutilation and similar forms of torment are part of
her worship. Men choosing to turn hijra identify with her completely
by rendering themselves sexless and thereafter living as women.
Such complete identification is not uncommon particularly in hindu
ascetic cults. But it is difficult to say how many who opt for castration
do so out of their own volition. According to a report presented last
year to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, there are
up to half a million men in India and Pakistan who have been made
eunuchs against their will.Many are young boys kidnapped and then
castrated by the sect. There are also many true hermaphrodites
among them, given away as children by parents when the child's sex
was in doubt.
Hijras in India earn their livingonly by singing and dancing. Having
found out the homes where children have been born, they present
themselves to bless the child by singing lullabies and transferring
some of their shakti to it. If the householders turn them away or do
not pay enough, they might curse the baby instead. No pious Indian is
prepared to invite the wrath of the goddess.
Austin, Texas

All hiiras are able-bodied men giVing rise to the belief that
emasculation also endows them with great physical strength and
health. Adult males turning eunuch are usually impotent sexually.
Here again one comes across the pernicious "law of karma."
Emasculation will not only save one from being born female in the
next existence. it will also assure full sexual vigor for at least seven
subsequent births. However, there are also others who seek
castration only as devotees of Bahuchara-mata.
Hijras are found in all Indian cities where they live in closed
communities under a head who acts as a kind of abbess and directs
their affairs and sees to the equal distribution of all their earnings from
dancing and begging. Any man desiring to join the cult first takes such
a head as his guru and thereafter is addressed as his daughter.
There is a synthesis of hindu and muslim in their rituals. For
instance, in Indore there is the tomb of a hijra saint named Saroopa
who was worshipped by the hindu family of the maharaja of this
former Indian state. The money for their mosque was donated by the
muslim ruler of Hyderabad. Temple and mosque alike are used for
worship by hindu and muslim eunuchs with similar rituals. It is ironical
that only in this community of castrates does one find complete
communal harmony!
Some couples go through rites of marriage within their group, and
they have their own laws of property and inheritance. In cities like

April, 1984

Page 35

Baroda and Indore some hijras are rich landowners with houses
which they rent out. But most are very poor and use young novices
for purposes of male prostitution.
Emasculation formerly took place within the precincts of temples
dedicated to the goddess. But this is now against the law so the
operation is performed in secret. A barber-surgeon does the job with
his razor, or it is carried out by a senior hijra on an auspicious day. All
the "sisterhood" attends dressed in festive clothes with drums and
cymbals. The initiate is bathed in scented oiland water, garlanded and
wrapped in a crimson sari. Ritual food is prepared and the music and
drum beats reach a frenzied pitch as the victim is held down by burly
"sisters" and castrated. After the wound heals the same rites are
performed as in the purification of a woman after childbirth. A
woman's name is then given to the new member.
In Gujarat the main temple of Bahuchara-mata is near Ahmedabad.
But there is no idol, only an esoteric diagram of tantric origin
symbolising the female genitalia. In other parts of the country her
worship is combined with that of other goddesses like Durga-mata
and Mahakali in Bengal.
Superstitious villagers fear Bahucharata-mata because she might
desire their sons and make them die while still babies. To prevent this

boy babies are dressed as girls with nose rings and a necklace of
cowrie shells. The cowrie symbolises the vulva and is associated with
magic. This ploy is to fool the goddess into believing the child is a girl.
Bahuchara-mata is also regarded as a fertility goddess by some and
they pray to her for sons. Such boys might in their turn be dedicated
to her service by being made eunuchs.

"Emasculation formerly took place within

the precincts of temples dedicated to the
goddess. But this is now against the law so the
operation is performed in secret."
As early as 1880 one of the maharajas of the princely state in
Gujarat had the good sense to declare emasculation under any
pretext a crime. Today a section of the Indian Penal Code forbids it.
But this clause does not cover self-emasculation. In any case, even
when other members of the cult perform the operation on initiates.
the law is never invoked and the practice continues to flourish. ~




--- -


- -----


Page 36

:J):;Jr lJJ:)F{Ry -we'lL EE PaJIJD.

/-Ifl( P!.GD:SE TO
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April, 1984

The American Atheist




(Sung to the tune of "Over The Rainbow")

The Romans registered everyone
(The "Good Book" tells us so);
Yet there is no record of "His" birth
2,000 years ago.

Somewhere there's a ground zero.

Look and see.
Where the dreams that we dared to dream
Have now ceased to be.

The Romans kept careful tax records

Their money to collect.
Yet "His" name is missing from the rolls.
There's something amiss, I suspect!

And there over the fallout

Buzzards fly,
Floating softly as spectres
Waiting for folks to die.

The Romans kept meticulous records From history this we know.

Yet no record of a state execution,
2,000 years ago.

And, in among the smoking bricks

Where bodies burned like hickory sticks
You'll find me,
Where glass eyes melt like lemon drops
And false teeth fuse to palate tops.
Now life's behind me.

The pieces of the "original cross"

Would circle a city 'round.
And the fragments of "His" personal robe He must have weighed 600 pounds!

Somewhere after the "first strike"

In the glow
Of a radioactive Earth
Things no longer grow.

Amidst all this convincing evidence,

One omission stands out, we know.
He was never recorded in the Roman's books
Of 2,000 years ago.

Gerald Tholen

Joe Baumhaft


Austin, Texas

Oh monkey mother tell me please

what hairless anthropoids are these
that part no hair and pick no fleas
and mumble jargon on their knees.

My dear chimp please understand.

We share no link with hairless man.
We are part of Boom Bah's plan
handed down by sacred hand.

For they say they found a bone

similar to a monkey's cone.
They now say we're not alone.
Can our past at last be known?

We must believe that when we die

we mount that big tree in the sky
where in its branches we shall lie
with coconuts and banana pie.

The evidence
our ancestors
and reveal so
our ascension

Oh dear mother, now I see!

They'll never make a human out of me.

does tend to plea

they could be,
we might see
into tree.

Richard C. Yarbro

Page 37



Probably one of the most knowledgeable critics of the judeo-christian bible for all times, Merrill Holste
has been involved with the Atheist freethought movement some fifty years. His well documented and
scholarly exposes of religious writings have become standard reference material for any who delight in
attacking. the "credibility" of biblical fables, parables and other such naive non-sense.
here were many writers who, through the millenia, composed
the text of the bible. They collected and incorporated many
myths and fables that were current among their neighboring
tribes, selecting and revising to make these myths further their own
interests. In the book of exodus we read a story telling how Moses
made an agreement with one of the many gawds in which neighboring
people believed in those days. Later, monotheistic editors and
copyists changed the wording a bit here and there, adding from time
to time their own ideas to make the text support their new religious
ideas and beliefs. Each tribe had a separate set of shamans, witch
doctors and magicians to deal with the supernatural. Today we call
these men priests, preachers, rabbis, etc. Every priestly caste in those
days, including the Israelitish levites, modified the ancient religious
myths and folklore from time to time to suit their own best interests.
They always made up good stories to impress and awe their dupes
(maybe.we should say congregations) so as to make sure that their
easy living gained from their fellow tribesmen's tithes and donations
would remain secure and profitable. Our present-day shamans
continue changing the old myths and fables to suit modern
conditions. We see this from all the different versions of the bible that
are being printed these days. The promotion of religion has become
so profitable these days that we see a multitude of new religious sects
springing up ranging from the pseudophilosophical to sects promoted
by out-and-out scoundrels like Sun Myung Moon and rev. Jim Jones
of the Guyana massacre fame.
We shall quote and describe some of the bible texts that illustrate
some religious beliefs held by the Israelites that were different from
, what present-day promoters of the supernatural scam preach to us.
There is at exodus:18-23 a bible report of a conversation supposed to
have been held between Moses and his gawd. We quote in part, "( 18)
And he (Moses) said, 'I beseech thee, shew me thy glory (face,' (19)
And he (gawd) said, '1willmake all my goodness pass before thee, .. .'
(20) And he (gawd) said, 'Thou canst not see my face for there shall no
man see me, and live.' (21) And the lord said, 'Behold, there is a place
by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: (22) And it shall come to
pass, while my glory passeth by, that I willput thee in a cliftof the rock,
and I willcover thee with my hand while I pass by: (23) And I willtake
away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall
not be seen.' "
This passage has been the occasion for many ribald comments and
conjectures by irreverent skeptics who maintain the bible is not the
word of any kind of gawd, but merely a collection of stories taken from
the sacred lore of many different peoples. Usually the bible writers
and revisers refer to their gawd in anthropomorphic terms. But the
above quotation does not fit very well into the anthropomorphic
mold. We note from the conversation, as it is recorded, that the gawd
in the story was supposedly close enough to Moses to reach down
and put a hand over Moses so that Moses would be unable to see his
face which was so bright and shining as to be lethal to common men.
But when this bright gawd had passed by, or over, Moses could view

the back parts of the gawd. We note further that the bible story
indicates that the gawd that Moses talked with had arms and hands,
and whose back side was plain and not bright and shining as was the

April, 1984

The American Atheist

Page 38


What gawd in ancient mythology fitted this description? None

other than a sun gawd; and the sun gawd thought of and pictured as
having arms and hands was the Egyptian gawd, aten. Aten was the
gawd that pharaoh Akhenaten chose for Egypt some 1,370 years b.c.
That involved disestablishing the rich and powerful priests of amon.
Naturally, the amon priests hated losing their rich estates, temples
and position of power. Allthe wealth, and the power that wealth gives,
was put into the hands of their rivals, the priests of aten. Akhenaten's
successor was a young boy we know as Tutankhamen. Sir E.A.W.
Budge in his book, Tutankhamen, Amenism, Atenism and Egyptian
Monotheism, says at page 55 that the word, aten, is a very old word
for the "disk" or "face of the sun."
It is interesting to note here that we are dealing with theophorus
names. That is, names, part of which include the name of a gawd.
Here we have the three word names, ak-hen-aten and tut-ankh-amen.
The ankh was the Egyptian word, or sign in the form of a cross, which
meant "life." And amen, or amon, was the name of aten's sun-gawd
rival. Akhenaten had no sons, so he made a young boy who was his
son-in-law co-regent with himself on the throne. The son-in-law
started out as Tutankhaten. But when he became pharaoh, at a very
early age, the displaced priests of amon managed to regain control

over the religious establishment. Tutankhaten's name then became

Tutankhamen, the name by which we know him.
Christian preachers believe, or pretend to believe, that Moses
talked with an anthropomorphic deity, a gawd in the shape of a man,
up there among the rocks. But we have a different interpretation of
this passage which willbe explained as we proceed. The Romans and
Greeks had anthropomorphic gawds. Egypt, on the other hand, with
its sun worshippers, was dominant in religious thinking long before
Rome and Greece were influential. The Egyptians represented their
gawds as animals with men's heads, or as men with animal heads. The
Egyptians occupied Palestine more than once. Their religious ideas
had a strong influence on the thinking of the people livingin Palestine.
When the Israelites finally learned how to write down their sacred
legends and myths, Egyptian ideas were included in their scriptures.
We find strong evidence of aten worship in their inscriptions.
We read at deuteronomy 33:26-27 this: ''The lord came from Sinai,
and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from Mount Par an,
and he came with ten thousand of saints: from his right hand went a
fiery law for them." What other than a sun gawd could this be? At
deuteronomy 32:26 we read, "There is none like unto the god of
Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his
excellency on the sky. The eternal god is thy refuge, and underneath
are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from
before thee; and shall say, 'Destroy them.' "
According to the New Standard Bible Dictionary, Jeshurun is a
"poetical name of Israel designating it under its ideal character." (Art.
Jeshurun, p. 434). We note especially that the lsrael-qawd mentioned
at deuteronomy 33 "rides upon the heaven" and underneath him are
"the everlasting arms." It should be evident from this that the
Israelites, at this time, believed in some form of a sun gawd that could
show his face at will, or hide behind a cloud. And those "everlasting
arms" could be none other than the aten who is represented on
monuments and inscriptions as a round disk with numerous armlike
rays extending downward which end in hands. On these inscriptions
the hands hold out to Akhenaten the ankh which is the ancient
Egyptian cross, the hieroglyphic sign representing "life."

"And those 'everlasting arms' could be none

other than the aten who is represented on
monuments and inscriptions as a round disk
with numerous armlike rays extending downward which end in hands."
At job 22:12-14 we read, "(12) Is not god in the height of heaven?
and behold the height of the stars, how high they are! (13)And thou
sayest, 'How doth god know? can he judge through the dark cloud?
(14) Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not: and he
walketh in the circuit of heaven.' " That is a very good description of a
sun gawd. It is this same sun gawd that is supposed to have talked to
Moses at the temple door out of the pillar of a cloud (exodus 33:9-11
- "And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the
cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and
the lord talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar
stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and
worshiped, every man in his tent door. And the lord spake unto
Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned
again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young
man, departed not out of the tabernacle."). Moses is said to have
talked to this sun gawd face to face, but, of course, it was out of the
cloudy pillar this gawd used as a disguise. Perhaps this element was
put into the story because the Israelitish gawd was supposed to have
said at exodus 33:20, "There shall no man see me and live."
The description of Moses's gawd in exodus, 33rd chapter;
deuteronomy, 32nd chapter; and injob, 22nd chapter, all fit the image
of the Egyptian sun gawd aten. Why would Moses be able to view his
gawd's back side but not his face in front? The reason for this should
be obvious now. The Israelite gawd was thought of at that time as ifit
Austin, Texas



were an image of aten, a round shiny disk, shiny on the front side, but
plain and dull on the back side. This image would be hung up on the
wall of the temple holy of holies. The face would be gilded, bright and
shiny, maybe even covered with gold foil. But the back side was the
side Moses is supposed to have been permitted to see. Sir Ernest A.
Wallis Budge, in his book, Amenism, Atenism and Egyptian
Monotheism, on page 55 has this, "The word, aten, is a very old word
for "disk" or "face of the sun," and atenism was beyond doubt an old
form of the sun. But there were many forms of sun-worship older than
the cult of aten. Several solar gods were worshipped in Egypt many,
many centuries before aten was regarded as a special form of the
great solar god at all."
There are a good many passages in the bible referring to the hand
and arm of gawd. We willquote some and refer to others: "Wherefore
say unto the children of Israel, 'I am the lord, and I willbring you out
from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I willrid you out of their
bondage, and I willredeem you with stretched out arm, and with great
judgments.' " (exodus 6:6). At deuteronomy 26:8 we find this, "And
the lord brought us forth out of great terribleness and with signs, and
with wonders." Psalm 8.9:5-6,10-11,13 is one of the many bible
references to the mighty hand and outstretched arm of the Israelite
version of aten which they called by various names such as jah, el,
j.h.v.h., adonai, and so forth. In those days there was magic in names,
and it was strictly forbidden anyone excepting consecrated priests to
say that name in anything other than certain holy ceremonies. We
quote: "(5) And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, 0 lord: thy
faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. (6) For who in the
heaven can be compared unto the lord? ... (10) Thou hast broken
Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies
with thy strong arm. (11) The heavens are thine, the earth also is
thine; as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded
them .... (13) Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is
thy right hand." Again at jeremiah 27:5, "I have made the earth, the
man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and
by my outstretched arm."
A few of the many other bible references that mention gawd's
mighty hand and arm are:
"But liftthou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and
divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the


Page 39

midst of the sea." exodus 14:16

"Or hath god assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of
another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war,
and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched outarrn, and by great terrors,
according to all that the lord your god did for you in Egypt before your
eyes?" deuteronomy 4:34
"And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and
that the lord thy god brought thee out thence through a mighty hand
and by a stretched out arm: therefore the lord thy god commanded
thee to keep the sabbath day." deuteronomy 5:15
"The great temptations which thine eyes saw, and the signs, and the
wonders, and the mighty hand, and the stretched out arm, whereby the
lord thy god brought thee out: so shall the lord thy god do unto all the
people of whom thou art afraid." deuteronomy 7:19
"Yet they are thy people and thine inheritance, which thou
broughtest out by thy mighty power and by thy stretched out arm."

for thee: ... And hast brought forth thy people Israel out of the land of
Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand and with a
stretched out arm, and with great terror."jeremiah
"Therefore thus saith the lord god; 'I willalso stretch out mine hand
upon Edam, and iwll cut off man and beast from it; and I will make it
desolate from Ternan; and they of Dedan shall fall by the sword.' "

In the new testament we find:

"He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud
in the imagination of their hearts." luke 1:51
"That the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he
spake, 'Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm
of the lord been revealed?' "john 12:38
"The god of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the
people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with a
high arm brought he them out of it." acts 13:17


"And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have
not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the lord your
god, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm."

It should be clear now that the monotheistic sun-disk

religion of Akhenaten had more than a strong influence upon
Israelite monotheistic theology. It was the sun gawd of
Akhenaten who was the prototype of the Israelite gawd. The
fire gawd Moses met at the burning bush lost out as did the bull
gawd of the Egyptians and the haal gawd of the Israelite's
immediate Palestinian neighbors ~


"And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and
with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath."


"Ah lord god! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by
thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard






Page 40


April, 1984



The American Atheist


Introduction by Madalyn Murray O'Hair

, , ' This 240 page book is Charles C. Moore's personal story of his
stay in prison during the year 1899 for a federal charge against him
under the infamous Comstock laws. The officialcharge was that he had
sent "obscene matter" through the mails, in that two different issues of
The Blue Grass Blade had run articles on "Free Love." All concerned
in the case knew that the trial had to do with his open Atheism and that
it was an extension of harassment directed against him by the religious
forces in Lexington. He had, before this indictment, been in court on a
blasphemy charge which was in the appellate process at the time.
Several other court appearances and short jail sentences had been
occasioned by his advocacy of Atheism also.
At the time that he first issued his paper he was physically assaulted
in the streets of Lexington by christian gentlemen acting from aroused
emotions. On one such occasion, fearing that he was going to sustain
bodily injury, Moore fought back. For this he was charged also, being
briefly incarcerated,
Again, once when asked where hell- fire was, he replied that if he
wanted to find it, he would dig close to a particular church. For this he
spent two months in jail.
At another time a plot by very highly placed persons (including three
judges!) for his assassination was revealed to him and it was necessary
to take extraordinary precautions to save his own lifewhile attempting
to defuse the plot of the conspirators.
On one of these charges he had thought of obtaining Robert G.
Ingersoll for counsel and had the funds to do so. Consequently, he
wrote to him outlining the matter and received back what was to him a
shocking reply. This single encounter, after a lifetime of Moore's
devotion to Ingersoll, soured C.c. on "the great orator." The exchange
of letters between them, after the first request, was printed by Moore in
the May 20th, 1894 issue of his paper.



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