Posted 16 June 2004 - 11:57 AM
Natural Selections from Uncle Ed's Holy Book
With regard to the gods I know not whether they exist or not or what they are like. Many things prevent our knowing; the subject is obscure, and brief is the span of mortal life.
My philosophy remains Transcendental Agnosticism. There are realities and intelligences greater than conditioned normal consciousness recognizes, but it is premature to dogmatize about them at this primitive stage of our evolution. We've hardly begun to crawl off the surface of the cradle-planet.
- Robert Anton Wilson
The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not.
- Eric Hoffer
All great religions in order to escape absurdity, have to admit a dilution of agnosticism. It is only the savage, whether of the African bush or the American gospel tent [or American T.V. screen], who pretends to know the will and intent of God exactly and completely.
- H. L. Mencken
We have infinite trouble in solving [natural and] man-made mysteries; it is only when we set out to discover "the secret of God" that our difficulties disappear.
- Mark Twain (at the top of his sarcastic form)
Every other sect supposes itself in possession of the truth, and that those who differ are so far in the wrong. Like a man travelling in foggy weather they see those at a distance before them wrapped up in a fog, as well as those behind them, and also people in the fields on each side; but near them, all appears clear, though in truth they are as much in the fog as any of them...
In the affairs of the world, men are saved not by faith, but by the want of it.
- Benjamin Franklin
I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.
- Wilson Mizner
An evangelical Christian once told me, "Only Jesus Christ can save Man..." (What about Woman, I wondered? Oh, well, one does not expect semantic sophistication from literalist Bible believers) "... and restore him to his lost state of peace with God, himself and others." Yeah, sure, and only new Pepsi can make you feel really happy, and only our brand is better than the competition, and only our country is the best country. It is truly amazing to me that people can utter such arrogant nonsense with no humor, no sense of how offensive they are to others, no doubt or trepidation, and no suspicion that they sound exactly like advertisers, con-men and other swindlers. It is really hard to understand such child-like prattling. If I were especially conceited about something (a state I try to avoid, but if I fell into it...), if for instance I decided I had the best garden or the handsomest face in Ireland, I would still retain enough common sense to suspect that I would sound like a conceited fool if I went around telling everybody those opinions. I would have enough tact left, I hope, to satisfy my conceit by dreaming that other people would notice on their own that my garden and/or my face were especially lovely. People who go around innocently and blithely announcing that they belong to the Master Race or the Best Country Club or have the One True Religion seem to have never gotten beyond the kindergarten level of ego-display. Do they have no modesty, no tact, no shame, no adult common sense at all? Do they have any suspicion how silly their conceit sounds to the majority of the nonwhite nonChristian men and women of the world? To me, they seem like little children wearing daddy's clothes and going around shouting, "Look how grown-up I am! Look at me, me, me!"
There are more amusing things than ego-games, conceit and one-upmanship. Really, there are. I suspect that people stay on that childish level because they have never discovered how interesting and exciting the adult world is.
If one must play ego-games, I still think it would be more polite, and more adult, to play them in the privacy of one's head. In fact, despite my efforts to be a kind of Buddhist, I do relapse into such ego-games on occasion; but I have enough respect for human intelligence to keep such thoughts to myself. I don't go around announcing that I have painted the greatest painting of our time; I hope that people will notice that by themselves. Why do the people whose ego-games consist of day-dreaming about being part of the Master Race or the One True Religion not keep that precious secret to themselves, also, and wait for the rest of the human race to notice their blinding superiority?
- Robert Anton Wilson
Love can lead to devotion, but the devotion of the lover is unlike that of the True Believer in that it is not militant. I may be surprised - even shocked - to find that you do not feel as I do about a given book or work of art or even person; I may very well attempt to change your mind; but I will finally accept that your tastes, your loves, are your business and not mine. The True Believer knows no such restraints. The True Believer knows that he is simply right, and you are wrong. He will seek to convert you, even by force, and if he cannot he will, at the very least, despise you for your unbelief.
- Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands
People need religion like they need a lift in their shoe. If it makes them feel a little taller and happier about themselves, fine. But if you keep that lift in your shoe all the time, as you walk, jog, play sports, etc., you can wind up sore, or maybe even crippled...And, PLEEEEASE, let's not send folks to other countries to nail lifts onto the natives' feet!
- George Carlin
I'm not offended by Pagan, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, or Atheist viewpoints in fiction. Or in non-fiction, for that matter. I may disagree - but I'm almost certain to disagree with any author at some point. To anyone who equates disagreement with hatred, I say, "Bosnia!"
- Gene Wolfe (award winning Sci-Fi author)
During my life I have made countless friends by arguing - I am a Northerner living in the South, a Jew in the most Gentile community on the continent, an integrationist among white supremacists. I have a lot to argue about. But I have made friends over discussing a difference of opinion because I make my mind up about what I believe, but I do not make my mind up about people.
- Harry Golden, columnist who wrote during the 1940s to 1960s in the Southern U.S.
What is the best book in the world? I'd say that even the best book remains a mere book, and not life itself. Even the best book is one that can eventually bore you, if only through repetition. Be open to the best in every person, every experience and every book, and use your better judgment, built upon a lifetime of your own experiences. Books are not life, and cannot lead your life for you. You must decide. Even Bible believers have to decide which passages in Scripture deserve greater emphasis than others. And if an action commends itself to your conscience you don't need a book to also tell you whether it is "good" or not.
- E. T. Babinski
Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
- Groucho Marx
Do you believe that the God who "created your mind" with it's exceeding curiosity (well, maybe not your mind), and its ability to ask the most fascinating questions of nature, art, beauty, science, etc., would also want to absolve us of having to think by giving us a so-called "perfect book" that must never be deeply questioned?
- E. T. Babinski (in an internet discussion with a Bible believer)
Either god should have written a book to fit my brain, or should have made my brain to fit his book. The inspiration of the Bible depends on the credulity of him who reads.
- Robert Ingersoll
Ever notice the way that preachers of "ye olde tyme religion" drag out the pronunciation of the name of their favorite holy book, calling it the "Buy-Bull?" Who buys that bull? Even the Bible tells you not to!
"I will accept no bull..." Psalm 50:9 (NASB)
"I will take no bull[ock]..." Psalm 50:9 (KJV)
"...the rest of the bull - he must take outside..." Leviticus 4:12 (NIV)
- E. T. Babinski
Read the Bible as you would any other book; think of it as you would any other, use your reasoning ability to ask questions as they naturally arise, just as you would if you were reading another book. And it will eventually dawn on you that the books of the Bible, or at least portions of them, were of strictly human and sometimes barbarian, invention.
On the other hand, if you have gazed at the Bible for many years through "theology colored glasses" then you may not be able to detect the many shades and depths of questions visible within the text nor those within your own head and heart as they relate to the text. Because after years of church indoctrination most people don't even realize they have acquired a particular "theological" slant, or that they have been hypnotized by "orthodox" comments made by fellow church goers, and by "orthodox" commentaries on Scripture filled with pious platitudes - commentaries that pass in silence over difficulties, or else that read into the text "orthodox" meanings that are not there.
Not only the Bible, but the Muslim's Koran, the Mormon's Book of Mormon, and the Hindu's Bhagavad-Gita, have pious adherents and countless pious commentaries written about them. In courtrooms in India, people are even "sworn in" with their hands on the Gita, not the Bible.
And isn't it laughable when two "fundamentalist" commentators cannot agree on the meaning of a verse or group of verses, each commentator insisting that his interpretation is the perfectly natural one God intended? Both commentators agree that God wouldn't bother to write a book unless every chapter and verse in it was relevant to believers like themselves, believers who were being "led into all truth" by the "Holy Spirit." God wouldn't let His words and their meaning get lost in hazy translation, or misconstrued over time, especially not by true believers like themselves, would He? Of course, the history of Christian dogma tells a different story. The controversies that revolve around interpreting the books of the Bible have been around since before certain books were even picked to be in "the Bible." There were many competing interpretations before the Nicene Council in 325 A.D. (to which we owe the invention of "The Trinity"), all the way up to the multitude of different Christian denominations today, and God didn't stop plenty of blood being shed over them.
- E. T. Babinski
Try as they might to be humble, to avoid the pitfalls of intellectual pride - largely because the Bible tells them to, perhaps - fundamentalists are dogmatic and doctrinalistic because their doctrine of the text forces them to be. They are reading an "inerrant" text. What they read, and therefore by definition what they interpret, must be inerrant.
- Kathleen C. Boone, The Bible Tells Them So
I don't claim to be inerrant, but I recently received a miraculous vision that showed me exactly how the world will end: It is the year six billion A.D. and our sun is a slowly dying star. But our technology has grown so advanced that we simply move our planet. We head for the Andromeda galaxy and meet another planet headed in the opposite direction. We...play...chicken.
E. T. BABINSKI