Atheism Central for Secondary Schools

 

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Why be an atheist?

Letter to an atheist

Why believe in God?

Where religious power comes from

Why do we exist?

The Ladder of Deception

The celibacy of priests and nuns

Religion - the noble lie

Absolute moral standards

Atheist parent - church school

Do animals have souls?

Letter from Laura

Letter from Dred Scott

Letter from Thomas

Tricks of the trade
Wayne's World

13 Guest writers

National Secular Society - Founded 1866Monthly update

Letter to an RE teacher

5 Sample essay answers

Einstein

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A note on Islam

Glossary of Terms

My motives

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"What gods are there, what gods have there ever been, that were not from man's imagination?"

Joseph Campbell

 

"If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated."

Voltaire

 

"... many people find it repugnant that we, with our language, our consciousness, and our creative powers, should be subject to and answerable to a dumb, stupid inert material world. Why should we be answerable to the world? Why shouldn't we think of the 'real world' as something we create, and therefore something that is answerable to us? If all of reality is a 'social construction' then it is we who are in power, not the world. The deep motivation for the denial of realism is not this or that argument, but a will to power, a desire for control, and a deep and abiding resentment."

John Searle, Mind, Language and Society, 1999

Superman is what our fantasies aspire to. His infinite strength and vastly superior senses give him commanding confidence and respect from man and beast. He can fly and roam the universe at will. He lives in a black and white world clearly painted in colours of good and evil. He is an immortal super-being who chooses to live amongst us and, amazingly, has a distinct preference for the country in which his (original) target audience lives - The United States of America. He lives in anytown U.S.A., a city named Metropolis.

Clark Kent, of course, is another being entirely. Hesitant and uncertain, he is a loser of no consequence to the female population - Lois Lane overlooks him completely. (The real Lois Lane, a girl called Lois Amster, who was at school with Jerry Siegel, co-creator of Superman, never even knew he had a crush on her). Never able to catch the big story - Clark Kent goes through life inventing feeble excuses for his failures.

If only they knew who Clark Kent really was! All men would have to admire him (and possibly fear him) then, wouldn't they? And Lois Lane would fall for him hook, line and sinker. Because inside Clark Kent is a superman with the powers of a god.

Clark Kent is you and me - a Mr Bean of the spiritual world - (visit link) but with a giant God residing within who has but to reach out to command all around him. We identify with Clark Kent just as we agonise over Mr Bean's failures because we can see ourselves in him. We share his failure in the face of life's adversity but we also know there is a little god inside us just as there is inside him. Just like Clark Kent, we are supermen: unconquerable in our imaginations - Lords of all we survey. And superman is a God.

And why is Superman so interested in Clark Kent's home town of Metropolis? For the same reason that in wars both sides often pray to the same god. Superman is a patriot! Our god is there for us to control.
God becomes meaningless if he is not connected with our well-being - so obviously god lives in our home town. Superman is engaged in a black-and-white fight between good and evil. That's easy! We're the good guys and the guys we're shooting at are the bad guys!

Through Superman Clark Kent takes control of the world around him - and Superman is such a nice fellow! (aren't we all?). The nice thing about Superman is the ease with which we can talk to him. (That's called prayer). He's not overly intellectual and can think of nothing better than selflessly to help us out - not even bothering to have a life of his own. Just like god!

Supposing an omnipotent god were not interested in people?  We would ignore him and even scorn him. Supposing god were not manlike? We would be unable to control him. If we could not control him we would not be able to use him to justify our actions (invade! murder! destroy!) and control others (In the name of God I command you...!) - god would give us no political power.

Control of god is the very essence of any religion. Through incantations, spells, prayers, penances (offering suffering in return for influence), payment and the surrender of power to the spiritual authorities who claim to control god, we hope to gain a little of this control ourselves. And to the extent that we control others, we become little gods in another way.

There is nothing unreasonable or unnatural about our superman fantasies. A monkey falling from a tree can imagine stretching its arm to grab a branch that is just out of reach. So can we. Perhaps we are a bit more sophisticated: we can imagine taking to the air when we are stuck in a traffic jam. It is normal to use our imagination to dominate the environment around us. It is no surprise that many men fantasise about having the power to choose any woman (or as many) as they wish - and that women have similar fantasies. The rich and the powerful (or the very attractive) often have a darn good try at putting their fantasies into practice.

The existence of god is something to do with our obsession with ourselves and our limitless sense of our own importance. This is why the church so vehemently resisted the idea that we were not the centre of the universe. Poor Gallileo had the temerity to say he saw moons orbiting another world in space and so took away our planet's claim to be the centre of everything The church did not treat him very nicely. If we were not the centre of the universe then it was not made for us! If the universe were not made for us then any god that made it would have had little concern for our existence. He certainly wouldn't support our side in a war! Such a god would not care to do our bidding and we would not worship him!

Jesus walked on the water of our imaginations not only as evidence of his supreme power, but because this is an extension of our own fantasies of omnipotence. Religion can let these fantasies run riot. Fantasies are just that - fantasies, but religion is a dangerous thing.


"I have visitied your pages and I found them very interesting. I especially liked the article about Superman and Clark Kent - the fact that theist religion serves as a vehicle for human omnipotence fantasies is in my opinion too rarely recognized."

Rene Hartmann International League of Non-Religious and Atheists

 

 

 

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