Sabtu, 27 Februari 2010

Suffokate - Not The Fallen Lyrics

We are not the fallen, but intelligent we see through the lies.
The false papers try to tell us how to live our lives; I will not fall for it.
Now I see you're all hypocrites. It's just a lie you live by, overlooking all the cracks; and still you try to save us.
Can't you see? We don't believe this bullshit that you sell, so take it back.
You'll be sorry if you persist. I live to end life, no book will change that.
No higher power controls me.
No fear of consequences, he will not come down and smite me because he's fake. Why can't you see that you're all wrong, we are all our own gods.
Just take it back, 'cause I don't want it. Just take it back 'cause I don't want it.
It's a fucking joke.
Life's shit then you die, so get used to feeling pain 'cause that's all you're gonna feel. You wanted to save me, but you can't even save yourself.
Religion is sickness; I'm the cure. Nothing is sacred.
You are the sickness - we are the cure.

Rabu, 24 Februari 2010

Some Harsh Vocal Tips (Combined from some Sites)

Death shriek
The death shriek is a singing technique which is a hybrid of the death grunt and black metal vocals, resulting in a high-pitched scream or screech.
Arguably, the death shriek can be seen as being the predecessor of black metal vocals, due to thrash metal bands such as Possessed or Destruction, both which had a significant influence over early death metal bands such as Death and Obituary that utilising similar vocal techniques.
Death's debut musical album Scream Bloody Gore, from 1987, featured what was essentially death shrieking, rather than guttural growls. A similar vocal style was also displayed on Obituary's debut Slowly We Rot. It was not until Morbid Angel released Altars of Madness in 1989 that death growls were definitely established via vocalist David Vincent, and numerous bands followed in the revolutionary band's footsteps, including Cannibal Corpse, Malevolent Creation and Incantation.
Death shrieking, however, continued to grow in the shadow of the more commonly used death growl. It was developed elsewhere in genres other than death metal, most notably grindcore, in which bands would often combine growls with shrieks to create a more distinctive sound. The band Carcass is a prime example of this approach which is still common in modern grindcore bands.
The early 1900s saw a development of a new offshoot genre of death metal, mainly out of Gothenburg, Sweden, which became known as melodic death metal. Bands such as In Flames and Dark Tranquillity featured the less guttural death metal shriek to compliment their more harmonious and less intense guitar work.
In addition to this, the modern North American metalcore genre has also developed its own take on the death shriek. Bands like Killswitch Engage and ShadowsFall feature an unusual hybrid of hardcore vocals and death shrieks, some add more of a hardcore tinge to the vocals, while to others the death shriek influence is more apparent. In both cases, the pure death shriek found in the early death metal bands has been diluted to properly suit the less heavy and intense music.
Some notable death metal bands that use death shrieks: Deicide, Death, Angel Corpse, Panzerchrist, Obituary, Sceptic, Psycroptic.

How to Do Black Metal Vocals
If you want to sing black metal, you probably already know all about vocalists like Shagrath and bands like Exciter, Exodus and Primal Fear. Black metal singers differ in style and vocal range. Some scream or growl while others sing with a clear operatic voice. Read the following tips about how to develop your own black metal vocals.
Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Step 1
Learn singing basics. You need to know the mechanics of how the voice operates and how the throat, diaphragm and breathe relate to each other when you sing. Even when growling death or black metal, the more you learn about vocal functions, the better you'll be able to produce the sounds you want.
Step 2
Select the vocal style that is appropriate for your voice and personality. You can sing in a high-pitched shout or a raspy lower register growl. Practice singing with your own lyrics or with songs by Mayhem or Dimmu Borgir.
Step 3
Practice singing along with your favorite black metal songs. Once you have mastered that, turn the volume down and concentrate on your own vocal technique. You might sound better with a back of the throat gurgling sound or a deep-down sci-fi monster growl, experiment and gauge what feels more comfortable with your voice.
Step 4
Perfect a guttural black metal sound. Leave the throat open and let air out by pushing it with the diaphragm. Project this sound with your mouth slightly closed or in a round O shape. Control your vocals by positioning air towards the roof or your mouth.
Step 5
Protect your voice. Drink water and juice and put the beer away before show time. Save that for later. Drinking alcohol can cloud up your vocals and prevent you from hitting high notes.

Black Metal Vox Tips
Remember, trying harsh vocals at a young age can cause permanent damage. However, if you want to try, read these following tips:
1. Listen to any album using harsh vocal techniques. I assume you already do. Do not try to imitate a vocalist in particular, get your own style.
2. Learn how to sing properly. The most important technique for performing death/black metal vocals is to be able to control your breathing, establishing a balance between the force used by your diaphragm and your vocal cords. Using only the vocal cords will put undue pressure on them and is sure to damage them (minor damage will heal in time). Proper technique is established by using the diaphragm to push air out of your lungs.
3. Try going sssssss quietly and then increase in volume. The feeling in your stomach is your diaphragm, the push. This is what you want to feel when performing death metal vocals.
4. Pick a lyric you want to perform. Always try to pick songs from bands who do not use the death grunts as it will be easier to rehearse your grunts. Try singing it normally, then slowly add more "fire" to it, until you can feel your diaphragm really pushing and you're getting that deep sound you're looking for. If you don't succeed in the deep guttural vocals try the raspier approach to these vocals. Anyone can achieve this. So long as your vocal range is Alto or lower. If you are a Soprano, don't even try. This will help you achieve the vocals. Once you have control you can make them sound raspy
Listen to an album that showcases harsh vocal techniques. Good references include Cannibal Corpse, Behemoth, Death, Deicide, Celtic Frost, Carcass, Hate Eternal, Morbid Angel, Suffocation, Vader and Besatt.
Learn how to sing properly. Start with something that has vibrato, like Classic Rock or Progressive, i.e. Nevermore. The most important technique for performing death metal vocals is to be able to control your breathing, establishing a balance between the force used by your diaphragm and vocal cords. Using only the vocal cords will put undue pressure on them and is sure to damage them (minor damage will heal in time). Proper technique is established by using the diaphragm to push air out of your lungs.
Warm up your voice before recording or performing death metal. "Warming up" can mean anything from singing mid-tone melodies to delivering your vocal patterns in a clean chest tone. Even humming for five minutes would be more beneficial to you than not warming up your voice at all.
When performing live, drink lukewarm water or tea an hour before performing, as well as in between songs. Avoid cold water, as it shocks the voice, and causes the vocal cords to "tense up." Following these simple guidelines will help protect and strengthen your vocal cords. If you don't sing properly, you may not be singing for much longer.
Fill up your lungs with air, then push out some of the air, tightening your throat and moving your tonsils as you do this. Do this all in one motion, but don't push too hard. Aim the sound higher in your throat to make a "dying old man"-like sound. It should sound something like a black metal raspy voice. From there lower the pitch in your throat the same way you would with your normal voice. At first, it won’t sound like much-- it takes some time to get used to.
Pick a lyric you want to perform. Try to choose songs from bands like Slayer, Metallica, Alice Cooper, AC/DC or other bands who do not use the death grunts, as it will be easier to rehearse your grunts (Six Feet Under has redone classic rock songs and given them a Death Metal makeover). Try singing it normally, then slowly add more "fire" to it, until you can feel your diaphragm really pushing and you're getting that deep sound you're looking for. If you don't succeed in the deep guttural vocals try the raspier approach to these vocals like Mark Hunter of Chimaira. Anyone can achieve this, men as well as women (listen to the current vocalist for Arch Enemy), as long as their vocal range is Alto or lower. Arch Enemy's Vocalist Angela Gossow is an alto, and will say it herself--if you are a Soprano, don't even try Death Growls.
Practice barking like a dog. Take a deep breath and go from your diaphragm. Force the sound out from the bottom of your belly, really imitating the barking sound. Then extend the barking sound and try it with several words. Breathing like a dog, as stupid as it sounds, can help you open your throat and get a guttural sound to your grunts. Don't do it loudly at the beginning--increase your volume as you get better at it.
After you've mastered basic death grunts, move on to bigger things. Make your grunts louder, faster, lower, deeper, or all of the above. It will help add some variety to your vocals.
After you've mastered death metal vocals, try to mix things up by learning another vocal style--even the best death metal vocalists don't use only death grunts in their songs. For example, George Fisher of Cannibal Corpse is known for having high-pitched screams in a few of his songs and Trevor Strand of The Black Dahlia Murder has been known for using a mix of death grunts, high-pitched shrieking and screaming. Also Jerry Sturino from Path changes his pitch during his songs.
After you're done performing death metal vocals, be sure to drink a healthful beverage such as the universal choice, water. Milk is a definite bad choice as it produces phlegm, which will coat your throat, stunting your progress. (Note that if your throat is sore, you're most likely doing something wrong.) Don't drink juice-- it contains citric acid, which will eat away at your throat. An occasional lemon squeezed into a glass of lukewarm water is fine, however. Water can be consumed before, during and after practicing and performing.
Sigh. It also helps if you pull your lips back in a wide open smile, tighten your throat like you are about to gurgle water, and push air from your chest. Also, looking a little up helps, since it stretches your vocal chords and makes the sound coming out a little higher.

How to Perform Death Metal Vocals
Death metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal, which evolved from the harsher side of thrash metal demonstrated by Slayer. The accustomed vocal style of death metal involves deep, guttural growls; however, the style has evolved to include violent shrieks and variations of the growl.
Notice: This article is not a health guide, and you're advised to consult your doctor before performing death growls for long periods. Special thanks to FireProphet and Felipe "Phil" Diez III of Encryptor for giving this writer some of the advice found in this article.
Things You'll Need:
* Thick vocal cords
* Patience and endurance
* A passion for death metal
* Guidance from your doctor (only if you feel it is necessary)
Step 1
Experiment. Death metal vocals don't come from the throat but the diaphragm. Fill your lungs with air, and push out the air tightening your throat to create the guttural sound. It should feel like a constricting egg in the very back of your throat. To start, try talking normally and moving your voice to a lower, and lower register. (Use the lyrics of your favorite song, or something you've penned yourself. Something aggressive works well; however, don't use words that make you too angry: contrary to popular belief, technique is far more important than anger in death metal vocals, and an overpowering sense of anger actually hampers the performance.) Once you've established your basic growl, experiment with lower growls and different tones. If your growls initially aren't very loud, don't fret: this often comes with time. However, do not try to growl from your throat; this will wreck your vocal cords, and not to mention, sound terrible.
Step 2
Find the style of vocal that suits your voice and preference best. From the commanding grunts of Scar Symmetry; to the guttural screams of Children Of Bodom, Arch Enemy, and Living Sacrifice; to the inflated hollers of Napalm Death and Mortification, and the deeply guttural gurgles of Cannibal Corpse and Impending Doom, there is a style for any thick set of vocal cords. Don't try to growl lower than what is comfortable and consistent; this will actually lead to a less low (and very restrained) sound.
Step 3
Melodically pitching a guttural growl is impossible; however, it is important to understand that death metal vocals are more than mindless growling, and actually employ a range of "tones". (Begin by singing along to your favorite death metal songs, this is the best way to learn proper technique in performance.) Always plan the tone and accent of each lyric and syllable before recording; otherwise you'll slip up while recording. Choose the tone for each word first and foremost by what sounds pleasing to the ears, and secondly by the emotion the lyric implies.
Step 4
By now, you have established your default style of growls. Is it the constant grunt of Mortification? Is it an enraged low scream Children Of Bodom would be proud of? You might not have "mastered" it just yet (this takes time!), but you have a basic idea of what you'll be doing the most in your death metal compositions. Now diversify with growl variations of your choice:
Step 5
Violent Shrieks/Screams:
Want to contrast your low growls with a guttural shriek? If you've mastered death growls, picking up this style should be fairly easy. Start with a standard growl, and take it higher and higher in your register. Flap your tongue around the roof of your throat while screaming to create the twisted, deranged sound most commonly heard in death metal shrieks. If you're aiming for more of a black metal, "dying old man" shriek than something along the lines of The Black Dahlia Murder or Bring Me the Horizon, use a bit more throat for a wild, uncontrolled sound. (Note that the syllable-tone rule also applies to shrieks.) For the raspy screams of Carcass and Zao, coat your throat with phlegm. (If this looks disgusting on paper to you, just think of how Louis Armstrong had no problem employing the powers of phlegm in his singing.) The rasp technique involves more screaming from a phlegm-coated throat than use of the diaphragm; however, be sure not to rely wholly on your throat, unless you want to wreck your vocal cords, and/or sound like the guy from The Devil Wears Prada.
Step 6
Though commonly criticized by the metal community, the inhaled growl is incredibly sinister and haunting, and has gained much popularity among vocalists in recent years. It is most commonly heard in (but not limited to) slam death metal and deathcore, and may have evolved from goregrind. Simultaneously lower, yet more screeching than most growls, it may be the most inhuman sounding death vocal style ever developed (it sounds more like a pig). As the name suggests, this technique involves inhaling the air and allowing the throat to rattle (death growls in reverse), as well as enunciating everything with an "ee" consonant. If your first attempts at inhaled growls sound terrible, don't fret: this style takes time. You might notice that most inhale vocalists intersperse inhales with standard death growls (Brook Reeves of Impending Doom, for example). This is partly because the sound is tiring in long bouts, but mostly because it's extremely difficult to inhale a growl before first belting out a few standard gutturals. Start with a standard exhaled growl and gradually begin to inhale the growl, creating more and more of a screeching/gurgling sound. With time and practice, you'll be able to switch from standard growls to inhales at will. If using the inhale-vocal technique is difficult for you, try practicing it while reclining your back, or experiment with other positions.
Pig Squeals:
Pig squealing is not a vocal style of its own, but an extension of inhales. It involves manipulating the inhaled vocal's screech into the sound of a pig being slaughtered. This is done by moving the inhaled growl what feels like the center of your register and inhaling a shriek, relying completely on the "ee" consonant. A consistent pig squeal is difficult to master. This sound should be secondary in your vocal arsenal, as it is not only very difficult, but very tiring to the ears in long bouts
Tips & Warnings
When first starting out, take plenty of breaks, and don't perform growls for long periods until you're able to growl without scratching the throat. (If you hear a gurgle in the back of your throat while growling, chances are you've reached this point.) Drink warm tea or water before, after, and between sessions; this soothes the throat, whereas cold water shocks it.
It's worth forking out the dough for an expensive microphone, and/or recording software. Higher recording quality accentuates the tone you're bringing forth with your voice, whereas lower quality might amplify the weak points of your voice.
Despite the references to established death metal vocalists found in this article, you probably won't (and preferably shouldn't) sound just like your favorite vocalist. Even in death metal vocalizing, copying someone else's singing voice is nigh impossible, and the few who succeed fade into obscurity. Be bold, find your own voice. Add your own touch to the tapestry of death metal; the genre's growth has always relied on those unafraid to stand apart from the crowd.


The act of tattooing one's skin was a transformative declaration of power, an announcement to the world: I am in control of my own flesh. The intoxicating feeling of control derived from physical transformation had addicted millions to flesh-altering practices . . . cosmetic surgery, body piercing, bodybuilding, and steroids . . . even bulimia and transgendering. The human spirit craves mastery over its carnal shell.

To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.
The Secret Teachings of All Ages

The goal of tattooing was never beauty. The goal was change, from the scarified Nubian priests of 2000 B.C., to die tattooed acolytes of the Cybele cult of ancient Rome, to the moko scars of the modern Maori, humans have tattooed themselves as a way of offering up their bodies in partial sacrifice, enduring the physical pain of embellishment and emerging changed beings.
Despite the ominous admonitions of Leviticus 19:28. which forbade the marking of one's flesh, tattoos had become a rite of passage shared by millions of people in the modern age—everyone from clean-cut teenagers to hard-core drug users to suburban housewives.

Langdon smiled. "Sorry, but the word occult, despite conjuring images of devil worship, actually means 'hidden' or 'obscured.' In times of religious oppression, knowledge that was counterdoctrinal had to be kept hidden or 'occult,' and because the church felt threatened by this, they redefined anything 'occult' as evil, and the prejudice survived."

So tell me, what are the three prerequisites for an ideology to be considered a religion?
"ABC," one woman offered. "Assure. Believe, Convert."
"Correct," Langdon said. "Religions assure salvation; religions believe in a precise theology: and religions convert nonbelievers." He paused. "Masonry, however, is batting zero for three. Masons make no promises of salvation: they have no specific theology: and they do not seek to convert you. In fact, within Masonic lodges, discussions of religion are prohibited."
"So . . . Masonry is anti religious?"
"On the contrary. One of the prerequisites for becoming a Mason is that you must believe in a higher power. The difference between Masonic spirituality and organized religion is that the Masons do not impose a specific definition or name on a higher power. Rather than definitive theological identities like God, Allah. Buddha, or Jesus, the Masons use more general terms like Supreme Being or Great Architect of the Universe. This enables Masons of different faiths to gather together."

Langdon nodded and lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. "Don't tell anyone, but on the pagan day of the sun god Ra, I kneel at the foot of an ancient instrument of torture and consume ritualistic symbols of blood and flesh."
The class looked horrified.
Langdon shrugged. "And if any of you care to join me, come to the Harvard chapel on Sunday, kneel beneath the crucifix, and take Holy Communion."

Langdon winked. "Open your minds, my friends. We all fear what we do not understand."

For centuries the "brightest minds" on earth had ignored the ancient sciences, mocking them as ignorant superstition. Arming themselves instead with filing skepticism and dazzling new technologies—tools that led them only further from the truth. Every-generation's breakthroughs are proven false by the next generation's technology'. And it had gone through the ages. The more man learned, the more he realized he did not know".

Human thought can literally transform the physical world.

We are the masters of our own universe.

Superstring theory was a brand-new cosmological model. Based on the most recent scientific observations, it suggested the multidimensional universe was made up not of three . . . but rather of ten dimensions, which all interacted like vibrating strings, similar to resonating violin strings.

"Katherine, we have been born into wonderful times. A change is coming. Human beings are poised on the threshold of a new age when they will begin turning their eyes back to nature and to die old ways . A back to the ideas in books like the Zohar and other ancient texts from around the world. Powerful truth has its own gravity and eventually pulls people back to it. There will come a day when modern science begins in earnest to study the wisdom of the ancients . . . that will be the day that mankind begins to find answers to the big questions that still elude him."

Mankind, it seemed, had once grasped the true nature of the universe . . . but had let go, and forgotten.

Trish would have said impossible, but the I-word was banned here. Katherine considered it a dangerous mind-set in a field that often transformed preconceived falsehoods into confirmed truths. Trish Dunne seriously doubted this key-phrase search would fall into that category.
I'm not surprised, Trish thought. Even the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California described the field in arcane and abstruse language, defining it as the study of mankind's "direct and immediate access to knowledge beyond what is available to our normal senses and the power of reason." The word noetic, Trish had learned, derived from the ancient Greek nous—translating roughly to "inner knowledge" or "intuitive consciousness."'

[Catherine's gray eyes focused in on her now. "Trish, might I ask about the ethical dilemma posed by your work?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean you created a piece of software that can easily be abused. Those who possess it have access to powerful information not available to everyone. You didn't feel any hesitation creating it?"
Trish didn't blink. "Absolutely not. My software is no different than say ... a flight simulator program. Some users will practice flying first-aid missions into underdeveloped countries. Some users will practice flying passenger jets into skyscrapers. Knowledge is a tool, and like all tools, its impact is in the hands of the user."

"Now," Katherine said, "if we Take Trillions of These sand grams and let them attract one another to form . . . say, die moon, then their combined gravity is enough To move entire oceans and drag The tides back and forth across our planet."
"So let's take a hypothetical," Katherine said, discarding the sand grain. "What if I told you that a thought. . . any tiny idea that forms m your mind . . . actually has mass? What if I told you that a thought is an actual thing, a measurable entity, with a measurable mass? A minuscule mass, of course, but moss nonetheless, what are the implications?"
"Hypothetically speaking, Well, the obvious implications are ... if a thought has mass, then a thought exerts gravity and can pull things toward it."

"As are many equally improbable beliefs." Langdon often reminded his students that most modem religions included stories that did not hold up to scientific scrutiny: everything from Moses parting the Red Sea ... to Joseph Smith using magic eyeglasses to translate the Book of Mormon from a series of gold plates lie found buried in upstate New York. Wide acceptance of an idea is not proof of its validity.

Langdon exhaled. Have you got a few weeks? "In short, die Ancient Mysteries refer to a body of secret knowledge that was amassed long ago. One intriguing aspect of this knowledge is that it allegedly enables its practitioners to access powerful abilities that lie dormant in the human mind. The enlightened Adepts who possessed this knowledge vowed to keep it veiled from the masses because it was considered far too potent and dangerous for the uninitiated."
"Dangerous in what way?"
"The information was kept hidden for the same reason we keep matches from children. In the correct hands, fire can provide illumination . . . but in the wrong hands, fire can be highly destructive."

Langdon was not sure how to respond. The Ancient Mysteries had always been the greatest paradox of his academic career. Virtually every mystical tradition on earth revolved around the idea that there existed arcane knowledge capable of imbuing humans with mystical, almost godlike, powers: tarot and / Citing gave men the ability to see the future: alchemy gave men immortality through the fabled Philosopher's Stone: Wicca permitted advanced practitioners to cast powerful spells. The list went on and on.

Langdon exhaled 3"He's made the same error many zealots make—confusing metaphor with a literal reality." Similarly, early alchemists had toiled in vain to transform lead into gold, never realizing that lead-to-gold was nothing but a metaphor for tapping into true human potential—that of taking a dull, ignorant mind and transforming it into a bright, enlightened one.

"Yes." Anderson works here. He blows. "The word apotheosis literally means ' transformation'—that of man becoming God. It's from the ancient Greek, apo— become," theos—'god'."

'"The questions we discuss are challenging ones: What happens to the human condition if the great mysteries of life are finally revealed' "'What happens when those beliefs that we accept on faith . . . are suddenly categorically proven as fact'? Or disproved as myth? One could argue that there exist certain questions that are best left unanswered."

Wealth is commonplace, but wisdom is rare.

Great minds are always feared by lesser minds

Breathable liquid.
Liquid breathing had been a reality since 1966. when Leland C. Clark successfully kept alive a mouse that had been submerged for several hours in an oxygenated perfluorocarbon. In 1989, TLV technology made a dramatic appearance in the movie The Abyss, although few viewers realized that they were watching real science. Total Liquid Ventilation had been born of modem medicine's attempts to help premature babies breathe by returning them to the liquid-filled state of the womb. Human lungs, having spent nine months in utero, were no strangers to a liquid-filled state. Perfluorocarbons had once been too viscous to be fully breathable, but modem breakthroughs had made breathable liquids almost the consistency of water

'"Thirty-four,'' she said. "Every direction adds up to thirty-four."
"Exactly," Langdon said. "But did you know that this magic square is famous because
Dürer accomplished the seemingly impossible?" He quickly showed Katherine that m
addition to making The rows, columns, and diagonals add up to thirty-four, Dürer had also found a way to make the four quadrants, the four center squares, and even the four comer squares add up to that number. "Most amazing, though, was Dürer 's ability to position the numbers 15 and 14 together in the bottom row as an indication of the year in which he accomplished this incredible feat!"

16 3 2 13
5 10 11 8
9 6 7 12
4 15 14 1

He suspected America's "thirteen" conspiracy theorists would have a field day if they knew there were exactly thirteen storage rooms buried beneath the U.S. Capitol. Some found it suspicious that the Great Seal of the United States had thirteen stars, thirteen arrows, thirteen pyramid steps, thirteen shield stripes, thirteen olive leaves, thirteen olives, thirteen letters in annuit coeptis, thirteen letters in e pluribus unum, and on and on.

"And your students/' Sato demanded, "don't find it unnerving that Masons meditate with skulls and scythes?"
"No more unnerving than Christians praying at the feet of a man nailed to a cross, or
Hindus chanting in front of a four-armed elephant named Ganesh. Misunderstanding a culture's symbols is a common root of prejudice."


"An odd choice of word." Sato said as the candlelight cast a frightening skull-shaped silhouette across the letters.
"Actually, it's an acronym," Langdon said. "It's written on the rear wall of most chambers like this as a shorthand for the Masonic meditative mantra: Visita interiora terrae, rectificando invenies occultum lapidem."
Sato eyed him, looking almost impressed. "Meaning?"
"Visit the interior of the earth, and by rectifying, you will find the hidden stone."

Moreover, Langdon knew, this little pyramid—with its flat top—was not even a true pyramid. Without its tip, this was another symbol entirely. Known as an Unfinished Pyramid, it was a symbolic reminder that man's ascent to his full human potential was always a work in progress. Though few realized it, this symbol was the most widely published symbol on earth. Over twenty billion in print, adorning every one-dollar bill in circulation, the Unfinished Pyramid waited patiently for its shilling capstone, which hovered above it as a reminder of America's yet-unfulfilled destiny and the work yet to be done, both as a country and as individuals.

And it is indeed a talisman. When Peter had told Langdon the package contained a talisman, Langdon had laughed. Now he realized his friend was right. This tiny capstone was a talisman, but not the magic kind . . . the far older kind. Long before talisman had magical connotations, it had another meaning—"completion." From the Greek telesma, meaning "complete," a talisman was any object or idea that completed another and made it whole. The finishing element. A capstone, symbolically speaking, was the ultimate talisman, transforming the Unfinished Pyramid into a symbol of completed perfection.
Langdon now felt an eerie convergence that forced him to accept one very strange truth: with the exception of its size, the stone pyramid in Peter's Chamber of Reflection seemed to be transforming itself, bit by bit. into something vaguely resembling the Masonic Pyramid of legend.

"I can see your dilemma. Professor However, both the Ancient Mysteries and Masonic philosophy celebrate the potentiality of God within each of us. Symbolically speaking, one could claim that anything within reach of an enlightened man ... is within reach of God."

"Even the Bible concurs." Bellamy said. "If we accept, as Genesis tells us, that 'God created man in his own image/ then we also must accept what this implies—that mankind was not created inferior to God. In Luke 17:20 we are told, 'The kingdom of God is within you.' "
"I'm sorry, but I don't know any Christians who consider themselves God's equal."
"Of course not," Bellamy said, his tone hardening. "Because most Christians want it both ways, they want to be able to proudly declare they are believers in the Bible and yet simply ignore those parts they find too difficult or too inconvenient to believe."
"I mention the horned Moses/' Bellamy now said, "to illustrate how a single word, misunderstood, can rewrite history."

"Very well then, In a moment, I shall do exactly that." He dabbed his mouth again. "Let me remind you that there was an era when even the brightest minds perceived the earth as flat. For if the earth was round, then surely the oceans would spill off Imagine how they would have mocked you if you proclaimed. 'Not only is the world a sphere, but there is an invisible, mystical force that holds everything to its surface'!"
"There's a difference," Langdon said, "between the existence of gravity . . . and the ability to transform objects with a touch of your hand."

Langdon knew die dean was correct. The famous Hermetic aphorism—Know ye not that ye are gods?—was one of the pillars of the Ancient Mysteries. As above, so below . . . Man created in God's image . . . Apotheosis. This persistent message of man's own divinity—of his hidden potential—was the recurring theme in the ancient texts of countless traditions. Even the Holy Bible cried out in Psalms 82:6: Ye are gods'

"Professor," the old man said, "I realize that you, like many educated people, live trapped between worlds—one foot in the spiritual, one foot in the physical. Your heart yearns to believe . . . but your intellect refuses to permit it. As an academic, you would be wise to learn from the great minds of history." He paused and cleared his throat. "If I'm remembering correctly, one of the greatest minds ever to live proclaimed: That which is impenetrable to us really exists. Behind the secrets of nature remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.' "
"Who said that'1'" Langdon said. "Gandhi'?"
"No," Katherine interjected. "Albert Einstein."

Katherine Solomon had read every word Einstein had ever written and was struck by his profound respect for the mystical, as well as his predictions that the masses would one day feel the same. The. religion of the future, Einstein had predicted, will he. a cosmic religion. It will transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology.

"Oh. heavens, the Book of Revelation is a mess!" the dean said. "Nobody knows how to read that. I'm talking about clear minds writing in clear language—the predictions of Saint Augustine, Sir Francis Bacon, Newton. Einstein, the list goes on and on, all anticipating a transformative moment of enlightenment. Even Jesus himself said, 'Nothing is hidden that will not be made known, nor secret that will not come to light.'"
"It's a safe prediction to make," Langdon said. "Knowledge glows exponentially. The more we know, the greater our ability to learn, and the faster we expand our knowledge base."
"Yes," Katherine added. "We see this in science all the time. Each new technology we invent becomes a tool with which to invent new technologies . . . and it snowballs. That's why science has advanced more in the last five years than in the previous five thousand. Exponential growth. Mathematically, as time passes, the exponential curve of progress becomes almost vertical, and new development occurs incredibly fast."

'"The cross," Langdon said, "was not a Christian symbol until the fourth century. Long before that, it was used by the Egyptians to represent the intersection of two dimensions—the human and the celestial. As above, so below. It was a visual representation of the juncture where man and God become one."
"Of course," Langdon said. In the days of Pythagoras, six centuries before Christ, the tradition of numerology hailed the number 33 as the highest of all the Master Numbers. It was the most sacred figure, symbolizing Divine Truth. The tradition lived on within the Masons . . . and elsewhere. It was no coincidence that Christians were taught that Jesus was crucified at age thirty-three, despite no real historical evidence to that effect. Nor was it coincidence that Joseph was said to have been
thirty-three when he married the Virgin Mary, or that Jesus accomplished thirty-three miracles, or that God's name was mentioned thirty-three times in Genesis, or that, in Islam, all the dwellers of heaven were permanently thirty-three years old.

Echoes of the ancient Art still resonated in every corner of the globe, from the mystical Kabbalists of Judaism to the esoteric Sufis of Islam. Vestiges remained in the arcane rituals of Christianity, in its god-eating rites of Holy Communion, its hierarchies of saints, angels, and demons, its chanting and incantation, its holy calendar's astrological underpinnings, its consecrated robes, and in its promise of everlasting life. Even now, its priests dispelled evil spirits by swinging smoke-filled censers, ringing sacred bells, and sprinkling holy water. Christians still practiced the supernatural craft of exorcism—an early practice of their faith that required the ability not only to cast out demons but to summon them.
And yet they cannot see their past?

Nowhere was the church's mystical past more evident than at her epicenter. In Vatican City, at the heart of St. Peter's Square, stood the great Egyptian obelisk. Carved thirteen hundred years before Jesus took his first breath—this numinous monolith had no relevance there, no link to modern Christianity. And yet there it was. At the core of Christ's church. A stone beacon, screaming to be heard. A reminder to those few sages who remembered where it all began. This church, born of the womb of the Ancient Mysteries, still bore her rites and symbols.
One symbol above all.

Adorning her altars, vestments, spires, and Scripture was the singular image of Christianity—that of a precious, sacrificed human being. Christianity, more than any other faith, understood the transformative power of sacrifice. Even now, to honor the sacrifice made by Jesus, his followers proffered then own feeble gestures of personal sacrifice . . . fasting, Lenten renunciation, tithing.
All of those offerings are. impotent, of course. Without blood. . . there is no true sacrifice.

Even now, it seemed, the Ancient Mysteries were taunting him. "The secret hides within" was the core tenet of the mysteries, urging man kind to seek God not in the heavens above . . . but rather within himself. The secret hides within. It was the message of all the great mystical teachers.
The kingdom of God is within yon. said Jesus Christ. Know thyself said Pythagoras.
Know ye not that ye are gods, said Hermes Trismegistus. The list went on and on . .
All the mystical teachings of the ages had attempted to convey this one idea. The secret hides within. Even so, mankind continued looking to the heavens for the face of God

One of history's best-known magic squares is the order-eight square published in 1769 by American scientist Benjamin Franklin, and which became famous for its inclusion of never-before-seen "bent diagonal summations."' Franklin's obsession with this mystical art form most likely stemmed from his personal associations with the prominent alchemists and mystics of his day. as well as his own belief m astrology, which were the underpinnings for the predictions made in his Poor Richard's Almanack.

52 61 4 13 20 29 36 45
14 3 62 51 46 35 30 19
53 60 5 12 21 28 37 44
11 6 59 54 43 38 27 22
55 58 7 10 23 26 39 42
9 8 57 56 41 40 25 24
50 63 2 15 18 31 34 47
16 1 64 49 48 33 32 17

As a young girl, Katherine Solomon had often wondered if there was life after death. Does heaven exist? What happens when we die? As she grew older, her studies in science quickly erased any fanciful notions of heaven, hell, or the afterlife. The concept of "life after death," she came to accept, was a human construct ... a fairy tale designed to soften the horrifying truth that was our mortality.
Or so I believed Katherine recalled writing in her lab notes with a trembling hand: 'There seems to exist an invisible 'material' that exits the human body at the moment of death. It has quantifiable mass which is unimpeded by physical barriers. I must assume it moves in a dimension I cannot yet perceive."
From the expression of shock on her brother's face. Katherine knew he understood the implications. "Katherine . . ." he stammered, blinking his gray eyes as if to make sure he was not dreaming. "I think you just weighed the human soul."

Solomon smiled. "My friends, don't get me wrong, our forefathers were deeply religious men, but they were Deists—men who believed in God, but in a universal and open-minded way. The only religions ideal they put forth was religious freedom. He pulled the microphone from the podium and strode out to the edge of the stage. "America's forefathers had a vision of a spiritually enlightened Utopia, in which freedom of thought, education of the masses, and scientific advancement would replace the darkness of outdated religious superstition."
Solomon smiled. "Why not? Our mythologies have a long tradition of magic words that provide insight and godlike powers. To this day. children still shout 'abracadabra' in hopes of creating some thing out of nothing. Of course, we've all forgotten that this word is not a toy; it has roots in ancient Aramaic mysticism—Avrah KaDabra—meaning 'I create as I speak.' "

Solomon gave the boy a nod of approval. "Exactly. The Apocalypse is literally a reveal-ation. The Book of Reveal-ation in the Bible predicts an unveiling of great truth and unimaginable wisdom. The Apocalypse is not the end of the world, but rather it is the end of the world as we know it. The prophecy of the Apocalypse is just one of the Bible's beautiful messages that has been distorted." Solomon stepped to the front of the stage. "Believe me, the Apocalypse is coming . . . and it will be nothing like what we were taught."

Oxygenated perfluorocarbons.
This new technology—known as Total Liquid Ventilation (TLV)—was so counterintuitive that few believed it existed.

One . . . but as Many.
"God is plural!' Katherine whispered, "because the minds of man are plural."
Langdon's Thoughts were spiraling now . . . dreams, memories, hopes, fears, revelations . . . all swirling above him in the Rotunda dome. As his eyes began to close again, he found himself staring at three words in Latin, painted within the Apotheosis
"Out of manv, one, " he thought, slipping off into sleep.

On the first landing, Langdon came face-to-face with a bronze bust of Masonic luminary Albert Pike: along with the engraving of his most famous quote: WHAT WE HAVE DONE FOR OURSELVES ALONE DIES WITH US; WHAT WE HAVE DONE FOR OTHERS AND THE WORLD REMAINS AND IS IMMORTAL

The text read:
There is a reason these volumes survived -while others vanished As a scholar of faith, Dean Galloway had always found it astonishing that the ancient spiritual texts—the most studied books on earth—were, in fact, the least understood
Concealed within those pages, there hides a wondrous secret.
One day soon the light would dawn, and mankind would finally begin to grasp the simple, transformative truth of the ancient teachings . . . and take a quantum leap forward m understanding his own magnificent nature.

"Robert, you and I both know that the ancients would be horrified if they saw how their teachings have been perverted . . . how religion has established itself as a tollbooth to heaven . . . how warriors march into battle believing God favors their cause. We've lost the Word, and yet its true meaning is still within reach, right before our eyes. It exists in all the enduring texts, from the Bible to the Bhagavad Gita to the Koran and beyond. All of these texts are revered upon the altars of Freemasonry because Masons understand what the world seems to have forgotten .. that each of these texts, in its own way, is quietly whispering the exact same message Peter's voice welled with emotion. " 'Know ye not that ye are gods?'"

Peter lowered his voice to a whisper. "The Buddha said. 'You are God yourself.' Jesus taught that 'the kingdom of God is within you and even promised us, The works I do: you can do . . . and greater. Even the first antipope — Hippolytus of Rome—quoted the same message, first uttered by the gnostic teacher Monoimus: 'Abandon the search for God . . . instead, take yourself as the starting place/ ,:

"Exactly. Our physical bodies have evolved over the ages, but it was our minds that were created in the image of God. We've been reading the Bible too literally. We learn that God created us in his image, but it's not our physical bodies that resemble God, it's our minds.'"

"You want a real answer? Here it is. If I hand you a violin and say you have the capability to use it to make incredible music, I am not lying. You do have the capability, but you'll need enormous amounts of practice to manifest it. This is no different from learning to use your mind, Robert. Well-directed thought is a learned skill. To manifest an intention requires laserlike focus, full sensory visualization, and a profound belief. We have proven this in a lab. And just like playing a violin, there are people who exhibit greater natural ability than others. Look to history. Look to the stories of those enlightened minds who performed miraculous feats.”

A Quote from

“I don’t believe in heaven and hell. I don’t know if I believe in God. All I know is that as an individual, I won’t allow this life — the only thing I know to exist — to be wasted.”

Senin, 22 Februari 2010


Christopher Hitchens – God is not Great

Why, if god was the creator of all things, were we supposed to "praise" him so incessantly for doing what came to him naturally? This seemed servile, apart from anything else. If Jesus could heal a blind person he happened to meet, then why not heal blindness? What was so wonderful about his casting out devils, so that the devils would enter a herd of pigs instead? That seemed sinister: more like black magic. With all this continual prayer, why no result? Why did I have to keep saying, in public, that I was a miserable sinner? Why was the subject of sex considered so toxic?

We believe with certainty that an ethical life can be lived without religion. And we know for a fact that the corollary holds true—that religion has caused innumerable people not just to conduct themselves no better than others, but to award themselves permission to behave in ways that would make a brothel-keeper or an ethnic cleanser raise an eyebrow.

God did not create man in his own image. Evidently, it was the other way about, which is the painless explanation for the profusion of gods and religions, and the fratricide both between and among faiths, that we see all about us and that has so retarded the development of civilization.

Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did. Religion poisons everything. As well as a menace to civilization, it has become a threat to human survival.

His aversion to religion, in the sense usually attached to the term, was of the same kind with that of Lucretius: he regarded it with the feelings due not to a mere mental delusion, but to a great moral evil. He looked upon it as the greatest enemy of morality: first, by setting up factitious excellencies—belief in creeds, devotional feelings, and ceremonies, not connected with the good of human kind—and causing these to be accepted as substitutes for genuine virtue: but above all, by radically vitiating the standard of morals; making it consist in doing the will of a being, on whom it lavishes indeed all the phrases of adulation, but whom in sober truth it depicts as eminently hateful.
Tantum religiopotuitsuaderemalorum.

(To such heights of evil are men driven by religion.)

Why does such a belief not make its adherents happy? Religion may speak about the bliss of the next world, but it wants power in this one. This is only to be expected. It is, after all, wholly man-made. And it does not have the confidence in its own various preachings even to allow coexistence between different faiths.

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was in this wise. When his mother, Mary, was espoused to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Ghost." Yes, and the Greek demigod Perseus was born when the god Jupiter visited the virgin Danae as a shower of gold and got her with child. The god Buddha was born through an opening in his mother's flank. Catlicus the serpent-skirted caught a little ball of feathers from the sky and hid it in her bosom, and the Aztec god Huitzilopochtii was thus conceived. The virgin Nana took a pomegranate from the tree watered by the blood of the slain Agdestris, and laid it in her bosom, and gave birth to the god Attis. The virgin daughter of a Mongol king awoke one night and found herself bathed in a great light, which caused her to give birth to Genghis Khan. Krishna was born of the virgin Devaka. Horus was born of the virgin Isis. Mercury was born of the virgin Maia. Romulus was born of the virgin Rhea Sylvia. For some reason, many religions force themselves to think of the birth canal as a one-way street, and even the Koran treats the Virgin Mary with reverence. However, this made no difference during the Crusades, when a papal army set out to recapture Bethlehem and Jerusalem from the Muslims, incidentally destroying many Jewish communities and sacking heretical Christian Byzantium along the way, and inflicted a massacre in the narrow streets of Jerusalem, where, according to the hysterical and gleeful chroniclers, the spilled blood reached up to the bridles of the horses.

Female employees of the municipality are forbidden to greet male visitors with a handshake. In Gaza, a young woman named Yusra al-Azami was shot dead in April 2005, for the crime of sitting unchaperoned in a car with her fiance. The young man escaped with only a vicious beating. The leaders of the Hamas "vice and virtue" squad justified this casual murder and torture by saying that there had been "suspicion of immoral behavior." In once secular Palestine, mobs of sexually repressed young men are conscripted to snoop around parked cars, and given permission to do what they like.

Two people of roughly equivalent size had a claim to the same land. The solution was, obviously, to create two states side by side. Surely something so self-evident was within the wit of man to encompass? And so it would have been, decades ago, if the messianic rabbis and mullahs and priests could have been kept out of it. But the exclusive claims to god-given authority, made by hysterical clerics on both sides and further stoked by Armageddon-minded Christians who hope to bring on the Apocalypse (preceded by the death or conversion of all Jews), have made the situation insufferable, and put the whole of humanity in the position of hostage to a quarrel that now features the threat of nuclear war.

There is no right to change religion, and all religious states have always insisted on harsh penalties for those who try it.

The cloven hoof, or trotter, became a sign of diabolism to the fearful, and I daresay that it is easy to surmise which came first—the devil or the pig. It would be merely boring and idiotic to wonder how the designer of all things conceived such a versatile creature and then commanded his higher-mammal creation to avoid it altogether or risk his eternal displeasure. But many otherwise intelligent mammals affect the belief that heaven hates ham

Religion comes from the period of human prehistory where nobody—not even the mighty Democritus who concluded that all matter was made from atoms—had the smallest idea what was going on. It comes from the bawling and fearful infancy of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge (as well as for comfort, reassurance, and other infantile needs).

Many religions now come before us with ingratiating smirks and outspread hands, like an unctuous merchant in a bazaar. They offer consolation and solidarity and uplift, competing as they do in a marketplace. But we have a right to remember how barbarically they behaved when they were strong and were making an offer that people could not refuse.

The anatomy of the human eye, in fact, shows anything but "intelligence" in its design. It is built upside down and backwards, requiring photons of light to travel through the cornea, lens, aquaeous fluid, blood vessels, ganglion cells, amacrine cells, horizontal cells, and bipolar cells before they reach the lightsensitive
rods and cones that transduce the light signal into neural impulses—which are then sent to the visual cortex at the back of the brain for processing into meaningful patterns. For optimal vision, why would an intelligent designer have built an eye upside down and backwards ? It is because we evolved from sightless bacteria, now found to share our DNA, that we are so myopic. These are the same ill-designed optics, complete with deliberately "designed" retinal blind spot, through which earlier humans claimed to have "seen" miracles "with their own eyes." The problem in those cases was located elsewhere in the cortex, but we must never forget Charles Darwin's injunction that even the most highly evolved of us will continue to carry "the indelible stamp of their lowly origin."

The syncretic tendencies of monotheism, and the common ancestry of the tales, mean in effect that a rebuttal to one is a rebuttal to all. Horribly and hatefully though they may have fought with one another, the three monotheisms claim to share a descent at least from the Pentateuch of Moses, and the Koran certifies Jews as "people of the book," Jesus as a prophet, and a virgin as his mother. (Interestingly, the Koran does not blame the Jews for the murder of Jesus, as one book of the Christian New Testament does, but this is only because it makes the bizarre claim that someone else was crucified by the Jews in his place.)

The so-called commandments do not appear as a neat list of ten orders and prohibitions. The first three are all variations of the same one, in which god insists on his own primacy and exclusivity, forbids the making of graven images, and prohibits the taking of his own name in vain. This prolonged throat-clearing is accompanied by some very serious admonitions, including a dire warning that the sins of the fathers will be visited on their children "even unto the third and fourth generation." This negates the moral and reasonable idea that children are innocent of their parents' offenses. The fourth commandment insists on the observance of a holy Sabbath day, and forbids all believers—and their slaves and domestic servants—to perform any work in the course of it. It is added that, as was said in the book of Genesis, god made all the world in six days and rested on the seventh (leaving room for speculation as to what he did on the eighth day). The dictation then becomes more terse. "Honor thy father and thy mother" (this not for its own sake but in order "that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee"). Only then come the four famous "shalt nots," which flatly prohibit killing, adultery, theft, and false witness. Finally, there is a ban on covetousness, forbidding the desire for "thy neighbor's" house, manservant, maidservant, ox, ass, wife, and other chattel.

It would be harder to find an easier proof that religion is manmade. There is, first, the monarchical growling about respect and fear, accompanied by a stern reminder of omnipotence and limitless revenge, of the sort with which a Babylonian or Assyrian emperor might have ordered the scribes to begin a proclamation. There is then a sharp reminder to keep working and only to relax when the absolutist says so. A few crisp legalistic reminders follow, one of which is commonly misrendered because the original Hebrew actually says "thou shalt do no murder." But however little one thinks of the Jewish tradition, it is surely insulting to the people of Moses to imagine that they had come this far under the impression that murder, adultery, theft, and perjury were permissible. (The same unanswerable point can be made in a different way about the alleged later preachings of Jesus: when he tells the story of the Good Samaritan on that Jericho road he is speaking of a man who acted in a humane and generous manner without, obviously, ever having heard of Christianity, let alone having followed the pitiless teachings of the god of Moses, who never mentions human solidarity and compassion at all.) No society ever discovered has failed to protect itself from self-evident crimes like those supposedly stipulated at Mount Sinai. Finally, instead of the condemnation of evil actions, there is an oddly phrased condemnation of impure thoughts. One can tell that this, too, is a man-made product of the alleged time and place, because it throws in "wife" along with the other property, animal, human, and material, of the neighbor. More important, it demands the impossible: a recurrent problem with all religious edicts. One may be forcibly restrained from wicked actions, or barred from committing them, but to forbid people from contemplating them is too much. In particular, it is absurd to hope to banish envy of other people's possessions or fortunes, if only because the spirit of envy can lead to emulation and ambition and have positive consequences. (It seems improbable that the American fundamentalists, who desire to see the Ten Commandments emblazoned in every schoolroom and courtroom—almost like a graven image—are so hostile to the spirit of capitalism.) If god really wanted
people to be free of such thoughts, he should have taken more care to invent a different species.

Freud made the obvious point that religion suffered from one incurable deficiency: it was too clearly derived from our own desire to escape from or survive death.

It is enough to rephrase David Hume's unavoidable question. Which is more likely—that a man should be used as a transmitter by god to deliver some already existing revelations, or that he should utter some already existing revelations and believe himself to be, or claim to be, ordered by god to do so? As for the pains and the noises in the head, or the sweat, one can only regret the seeming fact that direct communication with god is not an experience of calm, beauty, and lucidity.

In the same way, Muslims still make a certain obeisance to those same "satanic verses," and tread the pagan polytheistic path that was laid out long before their Prophet was born. Every year at the hajj, or annual pilgrimage, one can see them circling the cuboid Kaaba shrine in the center of Mecca, taking care to do so seven times ("following the direction of the sun around the earth," as Karen Armstrong weirdly and no doubt multiculturally puts it) before kissing the black stone set in the Kaaba's wall. This probable meteorite, which no doubt impressed the yokels when it first fell to earth ("the gods must be crazy: no, make that god must be crazy"), is a stop on the way to other ancient pre-Islamic propitiations, during which pebbles must be hurled defiantly at a rock that represents the Evil One. Animal sacrifices complete the picture. Like many but not all of Islam's principal sites, Mecca is closed to unbelievers, which somewhat contradicts its claim to universality.

In much the same way as prophets and seers and great theologians seem to have died out, so the age of miracles seems to lie somewhere in our past. If the religious were wise, or had the confidence of their convictions, they ought to welcome the eclipse of this age of fraud and conjuring. But faith, yet again, discredits itself by proving to be insufficient to satisfy the faithful. Actual events are still required to impress the credulous.

The action of a man who volunteers to die for his fellow creatures is universally regarded as noble. The extra claim not to have "really" died makes the whole sacrifice tricky and meretricious. (Thus, those who say "Christ died for my sins," when he did not really "die" at all, are making a statement that is false in its own terms.)

Once again the razor of Ockham is clean and decisive. When two explanations are offered, one must discard the one that explains the least, or explains nothing at all, or raises more questions than it answers.

Where questions of religion are concerned, people are guilty of every possible sort of dishonesty and intellectual misdemeanor. —SIGMUND FREUD, THE FUTURE OF AN ILLUSION

The various forms of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people to be equally true, by the philosopher as equally false, and by the magistrate as equally useful. —EDWARD GIBBON, DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

The thought has surely occurred to many people throughout the ages: what if there is an afterlife but no god? What if there is a god but no afterlife? As far as I know, the clearest writer to give expression to this problem was Thomas Hobbes in his 1651 masterwork Leviathan.

It seems possible, moving to the psychological arena, that people can be better off believing in something than in nothing, however untrue that something may be.

The enslaved were not captives of some Pharaoh but of several Christian states and societies that for many years operated a triangular "trade" between the west coast of Africa, the eastern seaboard of North America, and the capitals of Europe. This huge and terrible industry was blessed by all churches and for a long time aroused absolutely no religious protest. (Its counterpart, the slave trade in the Mediterranean and North Africa, was explicitly endorsed by, and carried out in the name of, Islam.)

The chance that someone's secular or freethinking opinion would cause him or her to denounce the whole injustice was extremely high. The chance that someone's religious belief would cause him or her to take a stand against slavery and racism was statistically quite small. But the chance that someone's religious belief
would cause him or her to uphold slavery and racism was statistically extremely high, and the latter fact helps us to understand why the victory of simple justice took so long to bring about.

It was founded on the Laws of the Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them whenever they could be found and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners.

When priests go bad, they go very bad indeed, and commit crimes that would make the average sinner pale. One might prefer to attribute this to sexual repression than to the actual doctrines preached, but then one of the actual doctrines preached is sexual repression. Thus the connection is unavoidable, and a litany of folkloric jokes have been told by all lay members of the church ever since religion began.

There are, indeed, several ways in which religion is not just amoral, but positively immoral. And these faults and crimes are not to be found in the behavior of its adherents (which can sometimes be exemplary) but in its original precepts. These include:
 Presenting a false picture of the world to the innocent and the credulous
 The doctrine of blood sacrifice
 The doctrine of atonement
 The doctrine of eternal reward and/or punishment
 The imposition of impossible tasks and rules

Sarah expired at the age of one hundred and twenty-seven, and her dutiful husband found her a place of burial in a cave in the town of Hebron. Having outlived her by attaining the fine old age of one hundred and seventy-five, and having fathered six more children meanwhile, Abraham was eventually buried in the same cave. To this day, religious people kill each other and kill each other's children for the right to exclusive property in this unidentifiable and unlocatable hole in a hill.

The Dalai Lama tells us that you can visit a prostitute as long as someone else pays her. Shia Muslims offer "temporary marriage," selling men the permission to take a wife for an hour or two with the usual vows and then divorce her when they are done. Half of the splendid buildings in Rome would never have been raised if the sale
of indulgences had not been so profitable: St. Peter's itself was financed by a special one-time offer of that kind.

We can see that the strenuous and dogmatic is the moral enemy of the good. It demands that we believe the impossible, and practice the unfeasible.

The fatalism of Islam, which believes that all is arranged by Allah in advance, has some points of resemblance in its utter denial of human autonomy and liberty, as well as in its arrogant and insufferable belief that its faith already contains everything that anyone might ever need to know.

It is often forgotten that the Axis triad included another member— the Empire of Japan—which had not only a religious person as its head of state, but an actual deity. If the appalling heresy of believing that Emperor Hirohito was god was ever denounced from any German or Italian pulpit or by any prelate, I have been unable to discover the fact. In the sacred name of this ridiculously overrated mammal, huge areas of China and Indochina and the Pacific were plundered and enslaved. In his name, too, millions of indoctrinated Japanese were martyred and sacrificed. So imposing and hysterical was the cult of this god-king that it was believed that the whole Japanese people might resort to suicide if his person was threatened
at the end of the war. It was accordingly decided that he could "stay on," but that he would henceforward have to claim to be an emperor only, and perhaps somewhat divine, but not strictly speaking a god. This deference to the strength of religious opinion must involve the admission that faith and worship can make people behave very badly indeed.

Christ is a Soviet man!" said Justinian Marina, the Rumanian patriarch. Men like Marina were hateful and pathetic no doubt, and hateful and pathetic simultaneously, but this is no worse in principle than the numberless pacts made between church and empire, church and monarchy, church and fascism, and church and state, all of them justified by the need of the faithful to make temporal alliances for the sake of "higher" goals, while rendering unto Caesar (the word from which "czar" is derived) even if he is "godless."

Sigmund Freud was quite correct to describe the religious impulse, in The Future of an Illusion, as essentially ineradicable until or unless the human species can conquer its fear of death and its tendency to wish-thinking. Neither contingency seems very probable.

It was never that difficult to see that religion was a cause of hatred and conflict, and that its maintenance depended upon ignorance and superstition.

Philosophy begins where religion ends, just as by analogy chemistry begins where alchemy runs out, and astronomy takes the place of astrology.

From Socrates, also, we can learn how to argue two things that are of the highest importance. The first is that conscience is innate. The second is that the dogmatic faithful can easily be outpointed and satirized by one who pretends to take their preachings at face value.

Socrates believed that he had a daimon, or oracle, or internal guide, whose good opinion was worth having. Everybody but the psychopath has this feeling to a greater or lesser extent. Adam Smith described a permanent partner in an inaudible conversation, who acted as a check and scrutineer. Sigmund Freud wrote that the voice of reason was small, but very persistent. C. S. Lewis tried to prove too much by opining that the presence of a conscience indicated the divine spark. Modern vernacular describes conscience—not too badly—as whatever it is that makes us behave well when nobody is looking.

Some of the antireligious effect of Socrates and his gentle but relentless questioning can be gauged from a play that was written and performed in his own lifetime. The Clouds, composed by Aristophanes, features a philosopher named Socrates who keeps up a school of skepticism. A nearby farmer manages to come up with all the usual dull questions asked by the faithful. For one thing, if there is no Zeus, who brings the rain to water the crops? Inviting the man to use his head for a second, Socrates points out that if Zeus could make it rain, there would or could be rain from cloudless skies. Since this does not happen, it might be wiser to conclude that the clouds are the cause of the rainfall. All right then, says the farmer, who moves the clouds into position? That must surely be Zeus. Not so, says Socrates, who explains about winds and heat. Well in that case, replies the old rustic, where does the lightning come from, to punish liars and other wrongdoers? The lightning, it is gently pointed out to him, does not seem to discriminate between the just and the unjust. Indeed, it has often been noticed to strike the temples of Olympian Zeus himself. This is enough to win the farmer over, though he later recants his impiety and burns down the school with Socrates inside it.

There is nothing to be feared in death, and in the meantime all attempts to read the gods' intentions, such as studying the entrails of animals, are an absurd waste of time.

In some ways, the most attractive and the most charming of the founders of antireligion is the poet Lucretius, who lived in the first century before Christ and admired the work of Epicurus beyond measure. Reacting to a revival of ancient worship by the Emperor Augustus, he composed a witty and brilliant poem entitled De Rerum Natura, or "On the Nature of Things." This work was nearly destroyed by Christian fanatics in the Middle Ages, and only one printed manuscript survived, so we are fortunate even to know that a person writing in the time of Cicero (who first published the poem) and Julius Caesar had managed to keep alive the atomic theory. Lucretius anticipated David Hume in saying that the prospect of future annihilation was no worse than the contemplation of the nothingness from which one came, and also anticipated Freud in ridiculing the idea of prearranged burial rites and memorials, all of them expressing the vain and useless wish to be present in some way at one's own funeral. Following Aristophanes, he thought that the weather was its own explanation and that nature, "rid of all gods," did the work that foolish and self-centered people imagined to be divinely inspired, or directed at their puny selves:

Who can wheel all the starry spheres, and blow over all land the fruitful warmth from above
Be ready in all places and all times, Gather black clouds and shake the quiet sky
With terrible thunder, to hurl down bolts which often rattle his own shrines, to rage in the desert,
Retreating for target drill, so that his shafts can pass
The guilty by, and slay the innocent?

If god has revealed himself, how is it that he has allowed so many centuries to elapse before informing the Chinese? "Seek knowledge even if it is in China," said the Prophet Muhammad, unconsciously revealing that the greatest civilization in the world at that time was on the very outer rim of his awareness.

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

Is he willing to prevent evil but not able? Then is he impotent.
Is he able but not willing? Then is he malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?

The mere fact that such deathbed "repentances" were sought by the godly, let alone subsequently fabricated, speaks volumes about the bad faith of the faith-based.

It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.
I do not believe in the immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.

It is demonstrated that monotheistic religion is a plagiarism of a plagiarism of a hearsay of a hearsay, of an illusion of an illusion, extending all the way back to a fabrication of a few nonevents.

Quotes I Love From Richard Dawkins' God Delusion (with some additions I picked from the webs)

Quantum theory is so queer that physicists resort to one or another paradoxical 'interpretation' of it. Resort is the right word. David Deutsch, in The Fabric of Reality, embraces the 'many worlds' interpretation of quantum theory, perhaps because the worst that you can say of it is that it is preposterously wasteful. It postulates a vast and rapidly growing number of universes, existing in parallel and mutually undetectable except through the narrow porthole of quantum-mechanical experiments. In some of these universes I am already dead. In a small minority of them, you have a green moustache. And so on. The alternative 'Copenhagen interpretation' is equally preposterous - not wasteful, just shatteringly paradoxical. Erwin Schrödinger satirized it with his parable of the cat. Schrödinger's cat is shut up in a box with a killing mechanism triggered by a quantum-mechanical event. Before we open the lid of the box, we don't know whether the cat is dead. Common sense tells us that, nevertheless, the cat must be either alive or dead inside the box. The Copenhagen interpretation contradicts common sense: all that exists before we open the box is a probability. As soon as we open the box, the wave function collapses and we are left with the single event: the cat is dead, or the cat is alive. Until we opened the box, it was neither dead nor alive. A similar remark is attributed to Niels Bohr: 'Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.'

'Tell me,' the great twentieth-century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once asked a friend, 'why do people always say it was natural for man to assume that the sun went round the Earth rather than that the Earth was rotating?' His friend replied, 'Well, obviously because it just looks as though the Sun is going round the Earth.' Wittgenstein responded, 'Well, what would it have looked like if it had looked as though the Earth was rotating?' I sometimes quote this remark of Wittgenstein in lectures, expecting the audience to laugh. Instead, they seem stunned into silence. In the limited world in which our brains evolved, small objects are more likely to move than large ones, which are seen as the background to movement. As the world rotates, objects that seem large because they are near - mountains, trees and buildings, the ground itself - all move in exact synchrony with each other and with the observer, relative to heavenly bodies such as the sun and stars. Our evolved brains project an illusion of movement onto them rather than the mountains and trees in the foreground.

Science has taught us, against all evolved intuition, that apparently solid things like crystals and rocks are really composed almost entirely of empty space. The familiar illustration represents the nucleus of an atom as a fly in the middle of a sports stadium. The next atom is right outside the stadium. The hardest, solidest, densest rock, then, is 'really' almost entirely empty space, broken only by tiny particles so far apart that they shouldn't count. So why do rocks look and feel solid and hard and impenetrable? I won't try to imagine how Wittgenstein might have answered that question. But, as an evolutionary biologist, I would answer it like this. Our brains have evolved to help our bodies find their way around the world on the scale at which those bodies operate. We never evolved to navigate the world of atoms. If we had, our brains probably would perceive rocks as full of empty space. Rocks feel hard and impenetrable to our hands because our hands can't penetrate them. The reason they can't penetrate them is unconnected with the sizes and separations of the particles that constitute matter. Instead, it has to do with the force fields that are associated with those widely spaced particles in 'solid' matter. It is useful for our brains to construct notions like solidity and impenetrability, because such notions help us to navigate our bodies through a world in which objects - which we call solid – cannot occupy the same space as each other.

A little comic relief at this point - from The Men who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson:
This is a true story. It is the summer of 1983. Major General Albert Stubblebine III is sitting behind his desk in Arlington, Virginia, and he is staring at his wall, upon which hang his numerous military awards. They detail a long and distinguished career. He is the United States Army's chief of intelligence, with sixteen thousand soldiers under his command . . . He looks past his awards to the wall itself. There is something he feels he must do even though the thought of it frightens him. He thinks about the choice he has to make. He can stay in his office or he can go into the next office. That is his choice. And he has made it. He is going into the next office . . . He stands up, moves out from behind his desk, and begins to walk. I mean, he thinks, what is the atom mostly made up of anyway?Space! He quickens his pace. What am I mostly made of? He thinks. Atoms! He is almost at a jog now. What is the wall mostly made up of? He thinks. Atoms! All I have to do is merge the spaces. . . . Then General Stubblebine bangs his nose hard on the wall of his office. Damn, he thinks. General Stubblebine is confounded by his continual failure to walk through his wall.

'If you think you understand quantum theory . . . you don't understand quantum theory.'*

The doctrine of purgatory offers a preposterous revelation of the way the theological mind works. Purgatory is a sort of divine Ellis Island, a Hadean waiting room where dead souls go if their sins aren't bad enough to send them to hell, but they still need a bit of remedial checking out and purifying before they can be admitted to the sin-free-zone of heaven. In medieval times, the Church used to sell 'indulgences' for money. This amounted to paying for some number of days' remission from purgatory, and the Church literally (and with breathtaking presumption) issued signed certificates specifying the number of days off that had been purchased. The Roman Catholic Church is an institution for whose gains the phrase 'ill-gotten' might have been specially invented. And of all its money-making rip-offs, the selling of indulgences must surely rank among the greatest con tricks in history.

If the dead simply went to heaven or hell on the basis of their sins while on Earth, there would be no point in praying for them.

One of the unhappiest spectacles to be seen on our streets today is the image of a woman swathed in shapeless black from head to toe, peering out at the world through a tiny slit. The burka is not just an instrument of oppression of women and claustral repression of their liberty and their beauty; not just a token of egregious male cruelty and tragically cowed female submission. I want to use the narrow slit in the veil as a symbol of something else.

One study of attitudes to death among American atheists found the following: 50 per cent wanted a memorial celebration of their life; 99 per cent supported physician-assisted suicide for those who want it, and 75 per cent wanted it for themselves; 100 per cent wanted no contact with hospital staff who promote religion. See

Mark Twain's dismissal of the fear of death: 'I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.'

Is the imaginary-friend phenomenon a higher illusion, in a different category from ordinary childhood make-believe?

I thought he was an honest and sincere man, quietly spoken and thoughtful, but his mind had unfortunately been captured by poisonous religious nonsense.

'About the terminating of pregnancy, I want your opinion. The father was syphilitic, the mother tuberculous. Of the four children born, the first was blind, the second died, the third was deaf and dumb, the fourth was also tuberculous. What would you have done?' 'I would have terminated the pregnancy.' 'Then you would have murdered Beethoven.'

'If you knew a woman who was pregnant, who had 8 kids already, three of whom were deaf, two who were blind, one mentally retarded (all because she had syphilis), would you recommend that she have an abortion? Then you would have killed Beethoven.'

The truth is that Ludwig van Beethoven was neither the ninth child nor the fifth child of his parents. He was the eldest - strictly the number two, but his elder sibling died in infancy, as was common in those days, and was not, so far as is known, blind or deaf or dumb or mentally retarded. There is no evidence that either of his parents had syphilis, although it is true that his mother eventually died of tuberculosis. There was a lot of it about at the time.

Voltaire got it right long ago: 'Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.' So did Bertrand Russell: 'Many people would sooner die than think. In fact they do.'

The teachings of 'moderate' religion, though not extremist in themselves, are an open invitation to extremism.

Christianity, just as much as Islam, teaches children that unquestioned faith is a virtue. You don't have to make the case for what you believe. If somebody announces that it is part of his faith, the rest of society, whether of the same faith, or another, or of none, is obliged, by ingrained custom, to 'respect' it without question; respect it until the day it manifests itself in a horrible massacre like the destruction of the World Trade Center, or the London or Madrid bombings. Then there is a great chorus of disownings, as clerics and 'community leaders' (who elected them, by the way?)
line up to explain that this extremism is a perversion of the 'true' faith. But how can there be a perversion of faith, if faith, lacking objective justification, doesn't have any demonstrable standard to pervert?

The mantra 'Islam is peace' is almost 1,400 years out of date. It was only for about 13 years that Islam was peace and nothing but peace . . . For today's radical Muslims - just as for the mediaeval jurists who developed classical Islam - it would be truer to say 'Islam is war'. One of the most radical Islamic groups in Britain, al-Ghurabaa, stated in the wake of the two London bombings, 'Any Muslim that denies that terror is a part of Islam is kafir.' A kafir is an unbeliever (i.e. a non-Muslim), a term of gross insult.. .

Faith is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument. Teaching children that unquestioned faith is a virtue primes them – given certain other ingredients that are not hard to come by - to grow up into potentially lethal weapons for future jihads or crusades. Immunized against fear by the promise of a martyr's paradise, the authentic faith-head deserves a high place in the history of armaments, alongside the longbow, the warhorse, the tank and the cluster bomb. If children were taught to question and think through their beliefs, instead of being taught the superior virtue of faith without question, it is a good bet that there would be no suicide bombers. Suicide bombers do what they do because they really believe what they were taught in their religious schools: that duty to God exceeds all other priorities, and that martyrdom in his service will be rewarded in the gardens of Paradise. And they were taught that lesson not necessarily by extremist fanatics but by decent, gentle, mainstream religious instructors, who lined them up in their madrasas, sitting in rows, rhythmically nodding their innocent little heads up and down while they learned every word of the holy book like demented parrots. Faith can be very very dangerous, and deliberately to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong.

Religious people know, without evidence, that the faith of their birth is the one true faith, all others being aberrations or downright false. Even without physical abduction, isn't it always a form of child abuse to label children as possessors of beliefs that they are too young to have thought about? Yet the practice persists to this day, almost entirely unquestioned.

It is often said that there is a God-shaped gap in the brain which needs to be filled: we have a psychological need for God - imaginary friend, father, big brother, confessor, confidant - and the need has to be satisfied whether God really exists or not.

People do insane things in the name of their faith.

I thank my own parents for taking the view that children should be taught not so much what to think as how to think.

Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man - living in the sky - who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time . . . But He loves you! – George Carlin

We do not need God in order to be good - or evil

God ordered Abraham to make a burnt offering of his longed-for son. Abraham built an altar, put firewood upon it, and trussed Isaac up on top of the wood. His murdering knife was already in his hand when an angel dramatically intervened with the news of a last-minute change of plan: God was only joking after all, 'tempting' Abraham, and testing his faith. A modern moralist cannot help but wonder how a child could ever recover from such psychological trauma. By the standards of modern morality, this disgraceful story is an example simultaneously of child abuse, bullying in two asymmetrical power relationships, and the first recorded use of the Nuremberg defence: 'I was only obeying orders.' Yet the legend is one of the great foundational myths of all three monotheistic religions. Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion

The book of Numbers tells how God incited Moses to attack the Midianites. His army made short work of slaying all the men, and they burned all the Midianite cities, but they didn't kill the women and children. This merciful restraint by his soldiers infuriated Moses, and he gave orders that all the boy children should be killed, and all the women who were not virgins. 'But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves' (Numbers 31: 18). No, Moses was not a great role model for modern moralists. Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. – Blaise Pascal

What kind of ethical philosophy is it that condemns every child, even before it is born, to inherit the sin of a remote ancestor? Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion

God incarnated himself as a man, Jesus, in order that he should be tortured and executed in atonement for the hereditary sin of Adam. Ever since Paul expounded this repellent doctrine, Jesus has been worshipped as the redeemer of all our sins. Not just the past sin of Adam: future sins as well, whether future people decided to commit them or not!
I have described atonement, the central doctrine of Christianity, as vicious, sado-masochistic and repellent. We should also dismiss it as barking mad, but for its ubiquitous familiarity which has dulled our objectivity. If God wanted to forgive our sins, why not just forgive them, without having himself tortured and executed in payment - thereby, incidentally, condemning remote future generations of Jews to pogroms and persecution as 'Christ-killers': did that hereditary sin pass down in the semen too?
Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion
The religious upbringing of children is to divide people and foster historic enmities and hereditary vendettas. Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion

The Bible is a blueprint of in-group morality, complete with instructions for genocide, enslavement of out-groups, and world domination. But the Bible is not evil by virtue of its objectives or even its glorification of murder, cruelty, and rape. Many ancient works do that - The Iliad, the Icelandic Sagas, the tales of the ancient Syrians and the inscriptions of the ancient Mayans, for example. But no one is selling the Iliad as a foundation for morality. Therein lies the problem. The Bible is sold, and bought, as a guide to how people should live their lives. And it is, by far, the world's all-time best seller. Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion

Religion is undoubtedly a divisive force. Religion is a label of in-group/out-group enmity and vendetta, not necessarily worse than other labels such as skin colour, language or preferred football team, but often available when other labels are not. Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion

"(Religion) With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion"

"Most people can't bear to sit in church for an hour on Sundays. How are they supposed to live somewhere very similar to it for eternity?"

The Church has opposed every innovation and discovery from the day of Galileo down to our own time, when the use of anesthetic in childbirth was regarded as a sin because it avoided the biblical curse pronounced against Eve.

"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful."

"Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet."

"The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike."

"If Jesus had been killed 20 years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little Electric Chairs around their necks instead of crosses."

"Deaths in the Bible. By God - 2,270,365 not including the victims of Noah's flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, or the many plagues, famines, fiery serpents, etc because no specific numbers were given. By Satan - 10."

"They said God was on high and he controlled the world and therefore we must pray against Satan. Well, if God controls the world, he controls Satan. For me, religion was full of misstatements and reaches of logic that I just couldn't agree with."

"I regard monotheism as the greatest disaster ever to befall the human race. I see no good in Judaism, Christianity, or Islam -- good people, yes, but any religion based on a single, well, frenzied and virulent god, is not as useful to the human race as, say, Confucianism, which is not a religion but an ethical and educational system."

"Beliefs are what divide people. Doubt unites them."

"I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world."

"Who will say with confidence that sexual abuse is more permanently damaging to children than threatening them with the eternal and unquenchable fires of hell?"

"There are all sorts of things that would be comforting. I expect an injection of morphine would be comforting... But to say that something is comforting is not to say that it's true."

"It's been suggested that if the supernaturalists really had the powers they claim, they'd win the lottery every week. I prefer to point out that they could also win a Nobel Prize for discovering fundamental physical forces hitherto unknown to science."

Is man only a blunder of God, or God only a blunder of man?
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Better know nothing than half-know many things.
A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.
In truth, there was only one Christian, and he died on the cross.

T H E G O D H Y P O T H E S I S 31
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. – Richard Dawkins

Why is God considered an explanation for anything? It's not - it's a failure to explain, a shrug of the shoulders, an 'I dunno' dressed up in spirituality and ritual. If someone credits something to God, generally what it means is that they haven't a clue, so hey're attributing it to an unreachable, unknowable sky-fairy. Ask for an explanation of where that bloke came from, and odds are you'll get a vague, pseudo-philosophical reply about having always existed, or being outside nature. Which, of course, explains nothing.

Chicago geneticist Jerry Coyne,
The real war is between rationalism and superstition. Science is but one form of rationalism, while religion is the most common form of superstition.

Creationism is just a symptom of what they see as the greater enemy: religion. While religion can exist without creationism, creationism cannot exist without religion.

According to Vikernes (Burzum):
Christianity was created by some decadent and degenerated Romans as a tool of oppression, in the late Roman era, and it should be treated accordingly. It is like handcuffs to the mind and spirit and is nothing but destructive to mankind. In fact I don't really see Christianity as a religion. It is more like a spiritual plague, a mass psychosis, and it should first and foremost be treated as a problem to be solved by the medical science. Christianity is a diagnosis. It's like Islam and the other Asian religions, a HIV/AIDS of the spirit and mind.

The name Burzum, meaning darkness, was taken from the Black Speech inscribed on the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings. The inscription read "Ash nazg durbatulúk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul" or in English "One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the Darkness bind them." Additionally, before settling for Burzum, the band was initially named Uruk-Hai Vikernes interpreted The Lord of the Rings on his website, allegedly showing the connections to paganism in the books.

The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality. – George Bernard Shaw

A man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows. – Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)

Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned. – Anonymous

Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer. – Anonymous

It is not as in the Bible, that God created man in his own image. But, on the contrary, man created God in his own image. – Ludwig Feuerbach

On the first day, man created God. – Anonymous

What’s “God”? Well, you know, when you want something really bad and you close your eyes and you wish for it? God’s the guy that ignores you. – Steve Buscemi (From the movie “The Island”)

As far as I can tell from studying the scriptures, all you do in heaven is pretty much just sit around all day and praise the Lord. I don’t know about you, but I think that after the first, oh, I don’t know, 50,000,000 years of that I’d start to get a little bored. – Rick Reynolds

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime; give a man religion and he will die praying for a fish. – Anonymous

God should be executed for crimes against humanity. – Bryan Emmanuel Gutierrez

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? – Epicurus

A lie is a lie even if everyone believes it. The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it. – David Stevens

Religion does three things quite effectively: Divides people, Controls people, Deludes people. – Carlespie Mary Alice McKinney

Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea. – Anonymous

When a man is freed of religion, he has a better chance to live a normal and wholesome life. – Sigmund Freud

History teaches us that no other cause has brought more death than the word of god. – Giulian Buzila

Gods don’t kill people. People with Gods kill people. – David Viaene

I refuse to believe in a god who is the primary cause of conflict in the world, preaches racism, sexism, homophobia, and ignorance, and then sends me to hell if I’m ‘bad’. – Mike Fuhrman

Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions. – Frater Ravus

When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion. – Robert Pirsig

I wonder who got the shit job of scouring the planet for the 15000 species of butterfly or the 8800 species of ant they eventually took on board Noah’s Ark. But at least we got that magical rainbow for all their trouble. – Azura Skye

I have no need for religion, I have a conscience. – Anonymous

Man has always required an explanation for all of those things in the world he did not understand. If an explanation was not available, he created one. – Jim Crawford

What has been Christianity’s fruits? Superstition, Bigotry and Persecution. – James Madison

The characters and events depicted in the damn bible are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. – Penn and Teller

If god is the alpha and the omega. The begining and the end, knows what has passed and what is to come, like it states in the bible, why do people pray and think it will make any difference. – Mark Fairclough

Religion is the opiate of the masses. – Karl Marx

Atheists will celebrate life, while you’re in church celebrating death. – Anonymous

Animals do not have gods, they are smarter than that. – Ronnie Snow

I have observed that the world has suffered far less from ignorance than from pretensions to knowledge. It is not skeptics or explorers but fanatics and ideologues who menace decency and progress. No agnostic ever burned anyone at the stake or tortured a pagan, a heretic, or an unbeliever. – Daniel Boorstin

I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious ideas of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God. So far as religion of the day is concerned, it is a damned fake… Religion is all bunk. – Thomas Edison

To really be free, You need to be free in the mind. – Alexander Loutsis

Jesus hardly made the greatest sacrifice. He knew he would be resurrected anyway. – Anonymous

Religions are like pills, which must be swallowed whole without chewing. – Anonymous

Today’s religion will be the future’s mythology. Both believed at one time by many; but proved wrong by the clever. – Steven Crocker

“I do not think it is necessary to believe that the same God who has given us our senses, reason, and intelligence wished us to abandon their use.” - Galileo Galilei

The good effects of religion can surely be disputed. In most cases, it seems that religion gives people bad reasons to behave well, when good reasons are actually available. Ask yourself, which is more moral, helping the poor out of concern for their suffering, or doing so because you think the creator of the universe wants you to do it, will reward you for doing it or will punish you for not doing it?

Religion can endanger the life of the pious individual, as well as the lives of others. Thousands of people have been tortured for their loyalty to a religion, persecuted by zealots for what is in many cases a scarcely distinguishable alternative faith. Religion devours resources, sometimes on a massive scale. A medieval cathedral could consume a hundred man, centuries in its construction, yet was never used as a dwelling, or for any recognizably useful purpose.

...what about religious behaviour? Why do humans fast, kneel, genuflect, self-flagellate, nod maniacally towards a wall, crusade, or otherwise indulge in costly practices that can consume life and, in extreme cases, terminate it?

The American comedian Cathy Ladman observes that 'All religions are the same: religion is basically guilt, with different holidays.'