Sunday, February 24, 2013

Seasons of Freethought: Introduction


Seasons of Freethought is a special project I've been working on for some time. It collects the Freethought publications of G.W. Foote and puts them back into print in one affordable collection. But instead of just writing another sales pitch, I thought I'd share with you the new Introduction to this collected volume by yours truly.



INTRODUCTION

TRISTAN VICK



Sentenced and confined to a year in prison for the victimless crime of blasphemy, George William Foote did not let this little setback dissuade him from speaking out against the cruelties and absurdities of religion. In fact, having a year of his life taken away for the “offense” of blaspheming against the Christian God only made him more entrenched in his cause to dole out just criticism of religious injustice  hypocrisy, and cruelty all the while fighting for the noble causes of the freedom of speech, and of freedom of thought and expression.

Publisher of the skeptical and freethought magazine the Freethinker, begun in 1881 and which is still published to this day,[1]Foote himself would later republish his favorite speeches, lectures, letters,and essays in several works. Of his numerous book publications, the ones which stand out the most are his Freethought series, which include Arrows of Freethought and Flowers of Freethought in two volumes.

I have decided to reproduce all three of Foote’s famous, or rather infamous, Freethought publications here in one collected volume under the fitting title: Seasons of Freethought. Furthermore, I have selected these works not only because they seemed to be of sentimental value to Foote himself, but also because of the extremely beneficial wealth of insights into literature, religion, and human nature that only an intellectual like G.W. Foote could have provided.

Foote was a man devoted to fighting superstition wherever it reared its ugly head and, to his credit, never shied away from doling out asarcastic quip in the name of Freethought. G.W. Foote did as much to spread the values of Freethought as Thomas Paine, Robert G. Ingersoll, and d’Holbach, and he should not be quickly forgotten for his lofty contributions to the Freethought movement. In addition to running the Freethinker, Foote would go on to succeed Bradlaugh as President of the National Secular Society, a position he’d maintain for twenty-five years. G.W. Foote lived from 1850 to 1915.

In reproducing G.W. Foote’s Freethought publications I have taken some minor liberties. The main reasons for the changes are simply for reading convenience and economy. As an Englishman, many of Foote’s spellings retain the British spellings (e.g., colour instead of color and centre instead of center, etc.), which I have Americanized wherever possible, except in the cases of direct quotes from English poetry and prose.

In addition to using the standardized American English forms, I have also elected to use the more modern spellings, punctuation,contractions, and conjugations as outlined in the Oxford English Corpus. As such,the old spelling forms using un- prefixes have been changed to the modern spellings using im- prefixes where applicable, so that unplausible becomes implausible and so on and so forth.

As for contractions, wherever there are two separate words for the same single word form, such as every one, forever,and can not, I have chosen to use the contracted single word forms of everyone,forever, and cannot.

Finally, I have omitted the duplicate chapters “Who are the Blasphemers?” and “The Gospel of Freethought” from Flowers of Freethought series one and two, which are also found in the first book Arrows of Freethought. Any other changes you may find are purely cosmetic, which is to say, for aesthetic and stylistic purposes only and do not alter the content or meaning in any considerable way.

Beyond these rather mundane technical enhancements, I have tried to stay as true to the source material as possible while updating it for a modern readership. Most assuredly, I am pleased to present a new generation of Freethinkers, Skeptics, and Atheists with an accessible and affordable collection of works by one of the greatest defenders of Freethoughtand free speech who ever lived.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Does God Exist?

Does God exist? An answer to an age old question.

The famous theological question “Does God exist?” presupposes the question need be asked in the first place. 


Anyone who has thought about it should become uncomfortable with the question for the very reason that  we don’t ask if bananas exist. 

Why not? Well, we happen to know for a fact that they do. Sure enough, I ate a banana this morning with my breakfast.

Likewise, we don’t ask if oxygen exists. We happen to know for a fact it does. 

Although we cannot see oxygen, we can measure it in terms of volume and pressure. After all, when one is blowing up a balloon, one does not pause to ask whether or not the air filling the balloon is real or not. We happen to know it is. We can see the evidence for it in the expanding balloon caused by the very real pressure of the invisible gas.

Indeed, without oxygen in the air we would cease to exist. Our reliance on oxygen and our inevitable death should it cease to exist leave no question in our mind as to reality of the situation. Oxygen, like bananas, most certainly exists.

But throughout the ages the religious mind has had to ask, "Does God exist?"

Why should this be but for one additional fact, which many believers so seemingly love to ignore, the lack of evidence for God.

Lacking any ability to verify and demonstrate the claim, the question remains open, and one is put in the position of having no choice but to ask the question, since the state of the evidence certainly doesn't confirm the conclusion of the faithful. And so being open ended, one finds themselves pondering the question, "Does God exist?"

We know God does not exist, however much the superstitious and wishful mind would like to think otherwise. 

We know God does not exist because the evidence of his existence does not exist. If he, by some astronomical odds, should exist, he is what we might call a recluse. 

But such a God would most certainly not be the Christian God. The God of Christianity is said to be quite interested in the affairs of men (and women), and if not entirely social then most certainly anti-social. 

No doubt, if God existed, nobody in their right mind would worship him, since he is either evil or negligent. All the suffering in this world could be attributed to God's great neglect or malicious intent if he existed. A "loving" God is an oxymoron. A "loving" God simply cannot exist in a world of suffering. Suffering is, however, very real. 

But even so, suffering can be better understood as a natural state of existence in a world where sentient beings are aware of what they must endure to survive against all odds which say we shouldn't even be here. Just think, that the odds would have to be greater still for God to be here! That fact that we are here, but there is no trace of God, is quite telling.

So this much is certain, the God of the Christian Bible does not exist. Nor does the God of Koran, for the same reasons mentioned above. Nor any god fathomed up in the dreamings and fancies of mere mortal men. Gods are imaginary. It is the only conclusion we can come to for why God follows the trends of what it is vogue to believe in. 

Entire pantheons of gods have come and gone, because the civilizations that invented them have changed their minds about what God should be and mean. Which is why, traditionally, there has been a variety of beliefs in a litany of gods (most of which have gone extinct). Everyone believes in different gods because gods vary with culture, because they are tied to culture. 

If God were real, everyone would believe in the same God.  

"Does God exist?" Does any god exist? It is because of the atheistic state of the natural world that the question even arises.

If a "God" existed, we would not have theologians. We would simply have scientists who study the properties of God. God being absent, or altogether non-existent, theologians are left to concoct their own gods and leap to conclusions despite not once having ever confirmed a single metaphysical claim about what they pretend to know so much about.

I echo Thomas Paine's sentiment that theology is the study of nothing. The theologian proves this by asking the question, "Does God exist?"

What an absurd question to have to ask if God did exist!

Many pious believers will become enraged, where conviction and blind faith flood the reservoir of their insecurity, with shouts of devout denial. Most certainly, they will remind us, God exists.

They will say they know it in their hearts. After all, they have experienced God first hand!

I am sorry to report, that our experiences can often be deceptive. 

But more importantly, if one truly knew, and knew in the sense of attaining knowledge unto knowing, one would not have to presume God existed as the pious do. One would not require faith. Instead, one could simply point out the window and say, "Ho, there! God!"

Faith based proclamations of experience mean nothing. 

Those who shout out a conviction felt, “God is assuredly not imaginary!” to them we say, sorry, but there is no evidence to the contrary. 

For this reason, then, believers have no choice in the matter. They must ask, “Does God exist?” precisely because God does not exist. 


The very question confirms doubt. And in doubting our eyes are opened.


--Tristan Vick

February 14, 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

In Non-Religious Relates News


Okay, it's not related to this blog except that it happens to be something I am proud of.

Part III to my character driven, survival horror, zombie series BITTEN is still a year away from completion (the manuscript for part 3 is only about 60% written) but I thought I would sneak the cover reveal out there early anyway! 


It's another excellent design by Glendon Haddix and his company Streetlight Graphics.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Think About It


Please think about this.

I heard this the other day: 


"To even ask the question "does God exist" requires one to make the a priori assumption that God probably does exist, otherwise the question doesn't make any sense to ask."

Um.... no. That's not how it works, sorry to say.

The assumption God exists is the theistic assumption. The assumption God doesn't exist is the atheistic assumption.

The question simply is, which assumption (of the two) is right?

If the theistic assumption was right, then God would be verified, validated, and belief vindicated by the evidence.

Lacking all trustworthy evidence, as the case seems to be, it rather aligns with the atheist assumption of no God. 

No God therefore no real evidence.


So the burden of the proof to substantiate the claim "God exists" is always upon the theist to provide a proper demonstration of the evidence that can be checked by skeptics and non-believers of said God.

If anything, the question "does God exist?" is weighted in favor of the atheist, because no amount of "belief conviction" or "religious tradition" has ever provided convincing and reliable evidence in the way moderns have come to expect of questions of empirical value.


Advocatus Atheist

Advocatus Atheist