THE FREETHOUGHT PRESS
ASSOCIATION : NEW YORK
and in the 178th Year
of American Independence
by JOSEPH LEWIS
All rights reserved
Second Edition, 1956
Third Edition, 1958
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
THE TYRANNY OF GOD
THE BIBLE UNMASKED
VOLTAIRE: THE INCOMPARABLE INFIDEL
SPAIN: A LAND BLIGHTED BY RELIGION
BURBANK THE INFIDEL
THE BIBLE AND THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
FRANKLIN THE FREETHINKER
LINCOLN THE FREETHINKER
MEXICO AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
SOVIET RUSSIA AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
SHALL CHILDREN RECEIVE RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION?
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
THOMAS PAINE: AUTHOR OF
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY
THE TRAGIC PATRIOT
INSPIRATION AND WISDOM FROM THE WRITINGS OF
AN ATHEIST MANIFESTO
INGERSOLL THE MAGNIFICENT
Many ask what difference does it make whether man believes in a God or not.
It makes a big difference.
It makes all the difference in the world.
It is the difference between being right and being wrong; it is the difference between truth and surmises—facts or delusion.
It is the difference between the earth being flat, and the earth being round.
It is the difference between the earth being the center of the universe, or a tiny speck in this vast and uncharted sea of multitudinous suns and galaxies.
It is the difference in the proper concept of life, or conclusions based upon illusion.
It is the difference between verified knowledge and the faith of religion.
It is a question of Progress or the Dark Ages.
The history of man proves that religion perverts man's concept of life and the universe, and has made him a cringing coward before the blind forces of nature.
If you believe that there is a God; that man was "created"; that he was forbidden to eat of the fruit of the "tree of knowledge"; that he disobeyed; that he is a "fallen angel"; that he is paying the penalty for his "sins," then you devote your time praying to appease an angry and jealous God.
If, on the other hand, you believe that the universe is a great mystery; that man is the product of evolution; that he is born without knowledge; that intelligence comes from experience, then you devote your time and energies to improving his condition with the hope of securing a little happiness here for yourself and your fellow man.
That is the difference.
If man was "created," then someone made a grievous mistake.
It is inconceivable that any form of intelligence would waste so much time and effort to make such an inferior piece of life—with all the "ills that flesh is heir to," and with all the misery and suffering that is so essential a part of living.
If man is a "fallen angel," by the commission of a "sin," then disease and sorrow are part of God's inscrutable plan as a penalty imposed upon him for his "disobedience," and man's entire life is devoted to the expiation of that sin so as to soften the indictment before the "Throne of God."
Man's atonement consists in making himself as miserable as possible by praying, fasting, masochism, flagellations and other forms of torture.
This sadistic delusion causes him to insist that others—under pain of punishment—be as miserable as himself, for fear that if others fail to do as he does, it will provoke the wrath of his tyrant God to a more severe chastisement.
The inevitable result is that Man devotes his life, not to the essentials of living and the making of a happy home, but to the building of temples and churches where he can "lift his voice to God" in a frenzy of fanaticism, and eventually he becomes a victim of hysteria.
His time and energy are wasted to cleanse his "soul," which he does not possess, and to save himself from a future punishment in hell which exists only in his imagination.
Religious hallucinations take on many forms.
Some do not wash themselves; some wash only their fingers; some think that the filthier they are, the "holier" they are; some cut off their hair, while others let it grow long; some refuse to stand up, while others refuse to sit down; some amputate their genitals, and some their breasts; some pull out their teeth, and others wither their limbs; some fast, and others gorge themselves; some cover their heads with sand, and others with sackcloth and ashes; some talk continuously, and others remain silent; some are celibates, and others are profligates; some stand on their heads; some brand themselves, while others pierce their nose, eyes and ears.
Nuns cut off their hair to make themselves as unsightly as possible—to make themselves repulsive to the opposite sex; there are monks who have vowed never to look upon the face of a woman, and Franciscans still wear ropes around their bodies as a symbol of flagellation.
There is hardly a form of insanity or delusion that has not been induced by some sort of religious belief.
To laugh on the "Sabbath," at one time, was considered the sin of sins.
How rightfully Robert G. Ingersoll said that, "Christianity has made more lunatics than it ever provided asylums for."
On the other hand, we do not believe that Man is a depraved human being. We do not believe that there is a tyrant God, or that there is a hell, and that man will suffer the pains and penalties of eternal torment. We do not believe that you should make yourself as miserable as possible Here in the hope of securing some happiness "Hereafter."
We do not believe that disease is a punishment for sin.
We believe that disease is a natural consequence of the processes of life, and that the "ills of the flesh" inevitably follow where one form of life lives upon another, and where "at the banquet of life each in turn is a guest and a dish."
It is only by understanding the nature of disease that man has been able, even in a small degree, to protect himself from the ravages of its destruction.
The use of prayer to cure disease has been responsible for epidemics that have, on many occasions, almost wiped out the human race. Prayer has had no more effect upon disease than it has upon health. It merely permits the disease to continue its course and increase the suffering of the victim.
If priests—of all clans—were free of disease and immune to death, then there might be some basis for the claim of the religionists. But these "men of God" are victims of the natural course of life, "even as you and I." They enjoy no exemptions. They suffer the same ills; they feel the same sensations; they are subject to the same passions of the body, the same frailties of the mind, are victims of circumstances and