ARE ATHEISTS SATANISTS?
As an atheist, I am finding myself more and more frequently accused of Satanism. This essay points out why such accusations are nonsense and often slanderous too. The language used is emotive, rabid and invariably highly irrational. I am not alone. The campaign is being systematically steered in the faces of many atheists and Humanists.
“"If so, be warned that they are sitting there with the Rational Response Squad's gun at their heads! And accompanied by screeching, slobbering demonic spirits, this group of atheists are working hard to pull your child into hell with them. "
See how Atheists and Hell are linked in this sentence. The atheist group specifically targeted are the Blasphemy Challenge Community, an Internet campaign to show willing to openly state that they do not believe in the Holy Trinity, usually on video streaming groups like Youtube.
One of the most outspoken of the Christians denouncing such campaigns is Bill Gray, as quoted in the Atheists Want Your Soul pages. http://altreligion.about.com/b/2007/03/22/atheist-satanists-want-your-soul.htm The quotation above is from him. So is this one;
"They deny that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit exist; so why do they quote from the Bible? They do not believe that Jesus exists --- yet; they tell you that Jesus will not forgive you. If He does not exist, how can He forgive you? "
He can’t forgive – obviously – he doesn’t exist! The paragraph actually makes zero sense.
Why do I read and often quote from the Bible? Many reasons will be given here. The first is simply that it is an interesting work of fiction, just like Hermann Melville’s Moby Dick. I don’t believe in Ahab’s search for the whale that chomped his leg off any more than I believe Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (the first zombie scene in literature), but it’s entertaining nevertheless. .
My personal reasons for being an atheist are well documented elsewhere on my website. I was raised as a Catholic, lost faith in my early teens and got sucked into a Hindu cult, Elan Vital, in my later teens in 1981, (See BRAINWASHING for more details on that). Escaping from the cult on my own in 1985, I returned to secular Humanism, or atheism as my primary World outlook. That means that I am totally skeptical of any and all forms of supernaturalism. It not only makes God non-existent to me, but angels, archangels, souls, (in humans and in other creatures) demons, devils, and Satan / Lucifer himself as well. They are no more real to me than pixies, leprechauns and fire breathing dragons.
This essay examines why so many extreme Judao-Christian and Islamic Fundamentalists see the need to label me as a Satanist despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary.
The first argument used as seen in the Gray quotation above is that while atheists say plainly that they don’t believe in God, we do tend to talk and write about him an awful lot. The assumption is that a true unbeliever likes to bi-pass religion, and takes no interest in scripture, or theology or moral issues whatsoever. I would suggest as an experiment, that anyone tries to live his or her lives for a month as if religion simply did not exist. Your children will have to either request withdrawal from school assemblies; or attend in which case they take a religious stance. You might have to shop on a Sunday, in which case some religionists will frown upon you, having lost the battle to prevent open Sunday trading. If someone dies, gets married, etc, do you go to the church service? If the month you choose to abstain from contact with religion is that of Easter or Christmas, the problems you face in keeping away from all references to God are obvious and insurmountable. If you don’t christen your children many people will be deeply shocked. Also, you may notice more how much religion hits the news, how many Jehovas Witnesses knock on your door, and how many god-botherers spout off on every moral issue affecting you. Religion affects us all, whether we believe in a God or not.
That I was once Christian means that I have many memories of prior study of the Old and New Testaments. Though having lost my faith, I found my interest in the literature fascinating. I also found quickly that many people noticed that I no longer attended church services (other than family weddings, Christenings and funerals. Declaring my lack of faith inevitably put me in the firing line of questions and criticisms from Christians who wanted to put me back on the road away from Hell. Finding flaws in the scriptures (of which there are 1,000’s) became as strong a passion for me as being a believer had in my formative years. You do not have to be religious to find religion fascinating. I love studying philosophy of religion, religious art and architecture, some religious music sounds lovely, I visit many churches to see the architecture and stained glass windows, etc. I have looked at religious philosophy, and seen many decent pro-religious films and TV shows.
With my entrapment into a cult over (it having started due to me not being prepared for non-Christian faiths affecting me) the scope of my need to study and understand religion increased dramatically.
The subject arises frequently in my life even when I do not seek it out. People frequently want to know what my religion is. Evangelists of many persuasions will knock on my door, and there are choices to make about what to say to any future children about god, and whether or not to send them to a school with religion high on the curriculum. Bishops have seats in the House of Lords for no other reason than their representation of the Church of England. No one elected them, and yet they pontificate and vote on issues affecting us all. Atheists are excluded from a say in Britain’s popular BBC radio moral talking point show, Thought For The Day, though Humanists campaign heavily for an end to such discrimination.
Many religionists believe that morality without belief in God is impossible. That many moral philosophers like Plato, Socrates and Aristotle predate Christianity, and that there are ethical systems like John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism that have no foundation in religion, is immaterial. They just keep stating the same bare faced lie over and over again, hoping to make it stick in people’s minds that atheists have no morality.
Christians like Bill Gray see atheism as a terrible threat. The Blasphemy Challenge was a minor novelty item on Youtube, but the savage protests by Christian fundamentalists have actually increased traffic to the website. Christians no more ignore atheists than atheists ignore Christians.
Another claim is that anyone not pro-God is Satan fodder by default. This is a basic, ‘your either for us or against us threat’. However, there is a colossal difference between the two ideas a/. Anyone not believing in the right God (choose from a 1,000 and hope for the best) will go to Hell, and b/. Claiming that anyone not believing in God is a Satanist.
The claim that God will have a dire punishment for me if I don’t kneel before him in loyalty is no threat at all as I see no God there and do not take kindly to those who bully in such a way on behalf of an absentee landlord. That kind of religion is equivalent to running a protection racket – Pay us money now and your house won’t burn down tomorrow (Mafia leader). Pray to Jesus meek and mild now, and you won’t burn in the Halls of Pandemonium (religious people). I might, if so pressed be willing to make a deal with the Mafia for self-preservation, but religion’s threat is totally vacuous.
Another ludicrous, often repeated claim is that atheists are Mephistophelian figures who know in their hearts that God really does exist but try to corrupt others into loss of faith so that they can drag them off to Hell. This is another vital reason for atheists to understand scriptures. The articulate, well read atheist is more likely to face such a threat than one who has not studied some aspect of religion in some detail, which would make Christian Fundamentalists prey on his weak areas of knowledge to try to bring about a religious conversion. Some religionists want to drag me to Heaven against my will. They think I’ll thank them for it later. Wrong!
Religionists should actually be delighted that any unbeliever reads the holy books anyway. After all, by reading, if the book is as powerful as claimed, we might just hit on a passage that makes us see the error of our ways and convert to the church accordingly.
The reason why religionists dislike skeptics reading scripture is that the skeptic can rationalise and question said scripture and has potential to give religious doubt to the pro-religionists who are less genned up on their own holy books. To some fundamentalists, my even touching a Bible is blasphemous. As Francis Bacon observed, ‘Knowledge is power.” A knowledgeable, articulate atheist is seen as a great threat to religionists.
For many religionists, Atheism is the ultimate heresy. Heretical Christian groups were persecuted in the medieval period for denying even minor aspects of accepted dominant Catholic theology. Rejection of the Holy Trinity and the Holy Ghost was seen as totally unacceptable. The punishment was often a death that the Roman persecutors of early Christians would have envied.
Martin Luther’s heresy, denying the status of Rome, spread too rapidly into the Protestant faith. The church largely lost its power to quash dissenting voices and many seemingly heretical creeds surfaced in the 17th century, including the Quakers. A century before and they would have been wiped out.
Later, in the 19th century, Unitarian movements rejected the idea of Jesus being the living incarnation of God. Again, this was seen as heresy, but little could be dome to stop it.
The atheistic movements (though always around) really developed after publication of Darwin’s Origins Of The Species. To many Christians it was the last straw – God himself was being denied. Fortunately for the likes of Charles Bradlaugh, (who successfully campaigned against having to swear oaths on the Bible in courts) and T. H. Huxley, (Am evolutionist known for his tenacity as Darwin’s Bulldog’) times changed. Burning, hanging and torturous death at the hands of the Inquisitions were no longer legally possible.
What is important to see is that atheism grew not out of superstition, but out of science? Darwin’s theories make the story of Adam & Eve ridiculous to take literally any more. Many Christian creationists nevertheless choose to, and rather than offer rational answers as to why the scripture stories are still more important to our eternal fates, many Christians turn to denouncing the atheists as Satanists.
Many Christian claims about atheists are fundamentally untrue. The website http://www.tencommandments.org/heathens.shtml declares that Atheism is properly defined as a denial of the existence of God in the midst of full knowledge that the true God does indeed exist. “ No such definition exists in the Oxford English Dictionary. The notion that atheists know that there is a God but pretend otherwise is simply preposterous.
WHY NOT BELIEVE IN SATAN?
Like many atheists, I accept that there is such a thing as evil. Evil is at large in the World, as people are murdered, raped, robbed, etc. Evil is not however in any way a supernatural force. Peter Sutcliffe, The Yorkshire Ripper was not tempted by demons to commit his crimes. He was a seriously mentally disturbed individual with a powerful misogynistic contempt for women. Hitler was not a servant of Satan. He was a Catholic, who was driven by early political success into thinking he had a providential destiny – it made him increasingly into a megalomaniac. Evil he was, but he was not possessed. No one has ever been possessed. There are perfectly natural materialistic explanations for every crime and human act that has ever been regarded as evil. Satan is a redundant concept.
WHO OR WHAT IS SATAN?
Satan, Lucifer, the great tempter, The Horned One, The Lord Of The Flies, - names for a deity seen as the leader of the forces of darkness who God and Jesus will battle and defeat come the Apocalypse of the Book Of Revelations. Of course, any real card carrying Satanists will say that they will be victorious.
So who exactly is Satan, and why shouldn’t atheists believe in him?
The name Satan literally means ‘Adversary’. Satan is to God what Blofeld is to James Bond. The label Satan is Hebrew but derived from the Arabic for a Jinn, or demon spirit. Satan seems to be a shape shifter, as art and literature and even scripture depict him in many forms, human, the horned God derived from the Greek Satyr, or Pan, a dragon, a Minataur, or as an invisible ghost like entity, among other forms.
What are surprising are how few appearances Satan makes in the Bible. He first appears in the book of Job. He is an accuser; a prosecuting lawyer figure, and the one who will control the punishment of those deemed wicked. He dares to challenge God to make Job suffer as a bet that the devout Job will lose faith. God, far from protective of the poor unwitting victim, agrees to test his faith with a series of terrible, tragic calamities. God actually does what Satan wants, with Job as a pawn in their very nasty game.
In David, Satan tempts David into attacking and destroying Israel. In the Gospels he tries unsuccessfully to tempt Jesus towards power and evil during Jesus’s sojourn in the wilderness. He also appears as a powerful dragon in the Book Of Revelation, where we are assured that he and his minions will be cast into a lake of fire in a deep pit, and sealed in forever. Hell will in effect, not open until Judgement Day. Aside from a few minor other references, that is pretty much all Satan ever does.
There are other demons in the Bible, notably the serpent who tempts Adam & Eve, but the serpent is not Satan. We see the snake like creature caught by God and condemned to crawl around eating dust forever.
In Islam Satan is very much the same figure as in the Bible. .
Much of our knowledge and many notions about Satan come not from scripture but from literature. Dante’s Inferno creates a graphic, terrifying vision of the circles of Hell, and John Milton’s Paradise Lost (and sequel Paradise Regained) give us a strong picture of Satan as a fallen angel, cast out for defying God, and lamenting that he will never see Heaven again.
Medieval mystery plays were popular, but could often go on for a whole day. To keep audiences interested, short sketch like morality plays were created for intervals and fringe entertainments. This was the origin of modern theatre burlesque, and the short plays often-featured Satan and his efforts to snatch human souls. In some such plays, Satan would try to take a man unawares only to be thwarted by human ingenuity. One play has him trying to claim a miller’s soul, but the miller gives him a bag of excrement instead – the smell stinks out Hell and the devil makes a vow to leave all millers alone ever after.
While Satan comes unstuck trying to take people unaware, those who consciously summon Satan to try to outsmart him fare badly and end up in Hell. At least everyone except the most famous of all puppet show villains, Mr. Punch – he just batters death and Satan as well as his wife, baby, pet dog, the magistrates, and the hangman, to carry on regardless.
The Mystery plays gave British writers a great deal of inspiration, and paved the way for the work of Geoffrey Chaucer.
The theme of Satan taking souls in return for favours reached its peak in Doctor Faustus, by Shakespeare’s contemporary, Christopher Marlowe. Here a scientist who has mastered all natural science, summons Satan to get him initiated in supernatural sciences gaining seven years of success right up to the Devil taking his soul. The story would be revived by Goethe (Faust) and Thomas Mann (Doctor Faustus).
Faust is the most famous of all Satanists in literature. The depiction of Satan is almost always in human form, as a man called Mephistopholes.
The religious morality tale fell into decline as authors took on more secular subject matter in the 19th century. There was something of a revival with the publication of Dracula, by Bram stoker, where a demonic vampire is defeated by the symbols of the cross, holy water and by men of cast iron faith.
Horror itself had little impact on social behaviour until the 1950’s when a writer called Dennis Wheately in Britain suggested in his books, like They Used Dark Forces, To The Devil A Daughter & The Devil Rides Out, that ancient witchcraft and Satanism were still being practiced in Britain and Europe today. His hero, The Duc De Richelieu, saves naïve thrill seekers from dabbling in the occult, as real horrors can be unleashed.
Wheatley saw his work as genuine cautionary warning. He was inspired by his time serving in the war Office, when a woman was tried for witchcraft, having tried to use pagan magic to help the Nazis. She was to be the last woman tried for witchcraft in Britain, though it was really a thinly disguised accusation of enemy support. .
Wheately wrote several non-fiction studies of the occult too, including The Devil And All His works, which treats all non-Christian beliefs as satanic, including Buddhism and Islam.
Despite his fear of a new age of supernatural Worship, Wheatley accepted a commission to produce a ‘Library of the occult’ and produced 45 books including works by actual magicians, including Alistair Crowley and Madam Blavatsky.
Wheatley’s success paved the way for a whole host of Satan stories, including The Exorcist, The Omen (and its sequels), and the works of Stephen King, James Herbert, and Anne Rice. Many such stories have been filmed. The revival of Satan as an entertainment is now secure. I have in fact contributed modestly to the genre, as many of my stories have a horror theme. I am fully aware that what I write is fiction though.
Sadly, many Christian fundamentalists see occult and horror fiction and films as a way of inspiring kids to take up séances, and messing with pentagrams for real. Some Christians object to the popular Harry Potter books, and even the works of C. S. Lewis such as his Narnia stories, even though Lewis was a Catholic scholar and his Narnia books are Christian allegories.
Today, popular music that veers to the Gothic, such as the work of Marolyn Manson, is accused of being Satanic. . Bands have been accused of writing back-masking lyrics into their recordings that play Satan summoning spells if the record is played backwards, but such claims are largely dismissed as nonsensical in legal circles.
Some musicians shamelessly promote themselves theatrically as Satanists. Ozzy Osbournes calls himself The Prince Of Darkness, though he admits that this is an act – and that he can’t even magic himself out of bed of a morning, let alone raise demons.
SO WHO ARE SATANISTS?
Despite Satan’s strong presence in Western art and popular culture, real life Satanism is decidedly rare.
In the past, the church saw witchcraft and Satanism as synonymous just as the extremists now see Satanism and atheism as one and the same.
The earliest recorded witchcraft event is in The Bible, in the first book of Samuel. The King, Saul, has driven the necromancers and astrologers from Israel, and then, when Samuel dies, and he needs his council, he visits the Witch Of Endor, and has her raise Samuel’s ghost for word on how Saul will fare in the war against the Philistines. Samuel tells him it will go badly, and it does – very badly. The story troubles Biblical scholars deeply as it shows a wilful use of forces the Bible largely condemns as evil. The Witch behaves like the Greek Oracle Of Delphi, and states only the truth, but some theologians have tried to claim unconvincingly that the ghost of Samuel was really a demon and Saul’s defeat was punishment for dabbling in occultism.
The Bible frequently shows practice of what is preached against. The Bible rules out astrology, and yet the three wise men of the nativity find Jesus by tracking a star and using it to interpret the location of the messiah’s birth. Films and plays get round this kind of astrology by having the wise men literally following a star that guides them to Bethlehem like Lassie leads rescue workers to the assistance of a kid stuck down the mine shaft.
In medieval times, no one would have dared openly practice Satanism, as the Church authorities and Inquisitions would have swooped in on them quickly and mercilessly. Lack of real targets drove the church to target innocent people, mostly women, with false accusations of witchcraft. The most famous witch-hunter was the 17th Century Matthew Hopkins, known as Witchfinder General.
The book, Malleus Maleficorum (The Hammer Of The Witches) was a handbook on what witches did and how to deal with them. The book, the most hateful in print until publication of Hitler’s Mein Kampf) claimed rabidly that witches sleep with succubuses and incubuses to help create demons in human form that walk among us mistaken for people.
That witchcraft was seen as surrogate Satanism is very telling. The modern revival of Witchcraft has led to research which shows that any genuine witches were more likely to be maintaining an interest in Pagan, Wiccan herbal medicine, and largely served good ends (white magic). They were not likely to have been Satanists.
While the European church denounced working class witches, the Royal Courts continued to employ astrologers and fortunetellers. The most famous being John Dee in Britain during the reign of Elizabeth, and Nostradamus in Italy. The Church turned a blind eye to these.
The first true satanic cult didn’t start until the 18th century. In 1746, a group of English noblemen who were extreme libertines started a small exclusive social society known as The Hellfire Club, who met at Lombard Street, in London. Their leader was Sir Francis Dashwood. The club fell into decline in 1760. It was little more than an excuse for extreme hedonism. The club disbanded in financial difficulties and amid charges of foolish practices. In one ritual, a member, Lord Sandwich, was convinced that he had raised a devil, only to be told that it was a monkey owned by another guest. What might have got many into the hands of executioners a few years before merely became a source of embarrassment and ridicule to the Hellfire Club.
Publicity about their activity did lead to a revival of interest in occultism and the magics of the orient, Egypt, etc. A Society called The Hermatic Order Of The Golden Dawn arose in the late 19th century, with a strong interest in reviving all aspects of occult activity. They were more serious about their work than The Hellfire Club ninnies; they were largely recruited from among Freemasons, who have always been accused of being secret practitioners of Satanism too. (Interestingly, though a minority of extremist Christians see atheists as Satanists, Freemasons won’t allow anyone to receive membership of their society who doesn’t believe in God). In a radical departure from their Masonic roots, the Golden Dawn allowed women to join the society. It is largely due to the Golden Dawn’s research that we have such strong academic understanding of astrology, the Quabbalah, the tarot, and many other occult practices and writings.
The Golden Dawn was also a centre for clashing egos, and many members had their own agendas. The schisms would eventually destroy the original order. (Various revival groups have surfaced in its name since then) One member who would found his own society has become a household name –Alastair Crowley.
An opium addicted mountaineer, who had almost conquered K2, a poet and novelist, Crowley set out to become society’s wickedest man. Crowley never called himself a Satanist. His black magic obsessions were a backlash against his strict, puritanical Plymouth Brethren upbringing. He was an expert in yoga and Buddhism. Dissatisfied with the Golden Dawn, who he satirised viciously in his novel, Moonchild, Crowley set up his own religious occult order known as Thelema, with its headquarters in Sicily. Stoned out of his head, Crowley had visions of meetings with the Egyptian god Horus.
Crowley was bright, but arrogant. He talked to people as if they were his intellectual inferiors. He was a puffed up charlatan, who was moving from opium to heroin addiction. He would eventually die from it, virtually penniless, in Hastings. The 1960’s revival of New Age occultism led the Beatles to include his picture on their Sargent Pepper album cover.
Crowley’s most infamous, and least understood words, “Do what though wilt shall be the whole of the law’ has been misinterpreted by many as ‘do whatever you like’, Crowley’s proclamation, in his Book Of The Law, is actually a call to exercise the will to achieve excellence – to push oneself to the limits of endurance, and achievement – It is not a suggestion that you follow every whim that enters your mind. To Crowley, that would have just been laziness.
While no atheist is a Satanist, some Satanists are actually atheists – that is to say, they do not believe in Hell, or God at all and use satanic imagery and fashion as a useful theatrical prop. Anton LaVey, the founder member of America’s Church of Satan, admits his atheism in his autobiography. He got his circus training working for Barnum & Bailey. He went on to play the Devil in a dream sequence in the fictional horror film, Rosemary’s Baby. His church attained notoriety over the death of actress Jayne Mansfield, who died decapitated in a car crash after attending a meeting with them.
LaVey’s Satanic Bible is a heavily plagiarized and largely sets out to weaken belief in God, dismissing him as a human concept. LeVey sounds atheistic in this, but he is actually dismissive of Humanistic atheism for lacking ritual and ceremony, which he believed magic could provide. That many atheists regard all forms of supernaturalism and magic as nonsense would show LeVey that Humanists would have little truck with his outlook on life. LaVey’s church largely fell into discord soon after his death. Though other groups have tried with various degrees of success to take up the mantle.
WHEN SATANISTS ARE NOT SATANISTS AT ALL
With obvious identifiable people openly stating that they are Satanists, some religionists still try to out the innocent. A 1980 book, Michelle Remembers, by Dr. Lawrence Pazder, was a purported case history of a Canadian psychiatrist (Pazder) discovering repressed memories in a girl called Michelle Smith in which she claimed to have been subjected to ritual Satanic abuse by her parents and family friends. The story allegedly only emerged under her doctor’s hypnotic therapy.
The book caused a media sensation, and some hysteria with others claiming to have faced similar ordeals. An investigation by the Mail On Sunday soon showed serious inconsistencies in the story. The family threatened the doctor with legal action, and the Catholic Church also dismissed the story as inconsistent. For example, descriptions of Michelle, aged five, screaming as rituals were performed on her in a cemetery would have certainly attracted attention from the many houses bordering the graveyard.
Despite universal condemnation of the book as untrue, the story inspired a widespread witch-hunt against suspected Satanists around the World. Many people theatrically joining satanic clubs found themselves questioned by social workers and police. In Orkney, and Rochdale, England, among other places, families were split up for months when hysteria led to accusations of involvement in ritual abuse. Without exception, the cases ended without evidence for any arrests, at enormous expense to the taxpayers and distress to the people affected.
Bikers are often taken to be Satanists, especially due to the American biker gangs known as Hell’s Angels. The name actually derives from the Second World War and was used by some fighter plane squadrons, to emphasise their bravery and tenacity and lack of fear of the enemy. The epithet reflects hardened aggressive no nonsense attitudes rather than any association with dark supernatural forces, but having the word Hell’s on a leather jacket is a rag to a red bull for some Christian fundamentalists.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ATHEISM
Does the history of atheism show any similar trends or attitudes to the preaching of Satanists? No.
Atheism has always existed. It is not a new force.
Satan is a necessary invention for a monotheistic religion, to explain why the good God also has evil things happening in his universe. In Polytheistic religions like Hinduism, a multitude of gods allows for they’re to be a god of evil among the pantheon. Religion of any kind is however, a luxury. There are tribes that are too busy seeking food, shelter and clothing in harsh environments to even consider the question of their material spiritual origins or their fates after death.
In Hinduism, atheism abounded six centuries before Christ in the Cervaka order. They studied the world entirely in materialistic terms. In Ancient Greece, Diagoras Of Melos is regarded as the first western atheist and little is known of him other than his sophistry led to him having to flee Athens for his life. Socrates, Epicurus, the Roman philosopher Lucrecius, was an also strong-minded atheist.
The Christian conquest of Rome made open expression of atheism impossible, so any atheistic minded philosophers and scholars kept a low profile or faced execution for heresy. The situation was not improved until the Renaissance revived interests and scholarship in Greek and Roman teachings – inspired largely by the discovery of the ruins of Pompeii. Overt atheism was still rare though. Thomas Hobbes was frequently accused of deism, a philosophy that declares that there is no evidence that the Creator directly intervenes in human affairs. God is seen by deists as creating the Universe, just as a child sets off a clockwork toy, but the mechanism is then left to run without being touched again until it stops or breaks.
Hobbes’s Deism is in dispute. That of John Toland is not. He was the first philosopher to be labelled a Freethinker, (a name frequently applied to atheists and Humanists). Bishop Berkeley, who was far from being a Deist, gave the label to him. It was Toland’s politics that were to lead to social change however. From seeing the Church as a force of control and intrusion into individual freedoms, Toland began to denounce the state, monarchies, governments and all forms of policing as similarly unacceptable. To Toland, the State’s job is to set people free and gain us more freedoms, not take them from us.
Toland’s writings were soon to inspire the writers Voltaire and Jean-Jaques Rousseau, and lead to the terror of the French Revolution.
The impact of the deist writings inspired many people to openly declare themselves to be outright atheists. The most outspoken atheists of the 18th century were David Hume, and Baron D’Holbach.
The new thinking of The Age Of Reason swept through Europe, and France in particular, too fast to be controlled. The Church tried to impose new laws through the French Parliament, and that led to anti-clerical riots. The first domino had fallen. Soon, it would be heads that would topple.
The bloodshed of the Revolution has often been laid at the door of atheism, but the French Revolution was really an assertion of socialism, and a drive for equality. The church was a powerful state instrument, and therefore became the first target for the republican minded revolutionaries. Their real target all along was of course, The King.
Atheism remained a potent political force, and in the 19th century, new voices were heard; those of Feurbach, Nietzsche, and Karl Marx.
Marx tried to dedicate Das Kapital to Charles Darwin, but the scientist refused to allow it.
The 20th century saw whole new forms of atheism, notably the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre. The first existentialist, Keirkergaard, had actually been a Christian, but Sartre’s name became synonymous with the philosophy, which is overall highly pessimistic. See www.arthurchappell.clara.net/sartre.htm
The most outspoken 20h Century British schools of atheistic thinking arose around Bertrand Russell and A. J. Ayer (founder of the school of Logical Positivism). Atheism largely grew from dissatisfaction with religion, and the immense power of a united Church and State. The developments of science in explaining the universe have also given many people reason to leave the religions set upon them by their families. The biggest single leap in the numbers of atheists came after the horrors of World war One Trench warfare when soldiers and families recoiled in despair at the thought of any God who could not or would not intervene to save people from such unspeakable horror.
Satanists can draw on some such roots for their beliefs, but many are just taking the trappings and rituals of faith to their own ends and adding a high level of theatrical camp to the mixture. Few atheists could take them seriously.
To many religionists, atheism is just an excuse to do what the hell we like. The claim does not hold water. The website http://thegreypoint.blogspot.com/2005/04/atheism-satanism-humanism.html declares - “Satanism and atheism have one common principle: The idea that you can do what you want to without fear of retribution from a higher authority.”
Here is another misunderstanding of Do what thou Wilt. There are undoubtedly libertines and hedonists in the world, but most atheists are actually very discreet in their lives and their moral discourse. Most atheists are not indulging in drugs, orgies and crime sprees. Many religionists are indulging in such, with no sense of their fear of God’s wrath stopping them. Life is too compplicated to pidgeon hole people so easily. If the words ‘Though shalt not kill were removed from the Bible, or changed to Though shalt kill, atheists would not run amok settling scores with their enemies. They are perfectly capable of understanding right and wrong, good and evil, without God or his minions having to teach them.
Religion is in terminal decline and has been since the deists gave way to overt atheists. To try to regain lost ground, the Churches of many religions are going on the offensive, criticising, mocking and condemming atheists at every turn. It would be amuzing if not for being genuinely sinister. The asertion that atheists are satanists is part of that last desperate defence. It will not work. Atheists are not Satanists.
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=atheist&page=5 gives genuine dictionary definitions of Atheism, showing that Atheistic Satanism is an oxymoron. Despite this evidence, in the US, land of religious freedom and freedom od speech, a reporter had the following convesation with the president, George W Bush.
Reporter (Roger I. Sherman): Surely you recognize the
equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?
Bush: No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.
I’ll let that speak for it.
One pro-religionist has accused me of promoting promiscuity due to my occasional published works of erotica. EROTICA (ADULTS ONLY) He asked me to delete such work from my website. The answer from me is an emphatic no. As a result, he decided he doesn’t like me and accuses me personally of having a hand in 25,000 murdered children, which I interpret as a reflection on my open pro-choice views on abortion. It is very difficult to have rational discourse with someone that irrational.
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