Atheism

Atheism

Editorial. New Harmony Gazette, 2:28 (Apr. 11, 1827): 222. The editor notes that, “Our ancestors drowned old women for a knowledge of witchcraft and burnt heretics, because they were guilty of heterodox sentiments: and we, their successors, if we have lessened the punishment, have not become more rational in our accusations. In the nineteenth century, we accuse our fellow-men of candor, and impeach them of sincerity. An atheist is a blameless character so long as he dissembles; but let him be guilty of honesty, and his character is lost.”

Abram Combe. “An Atheist.” March of Mind, 1:9 (Sept. 13, 1828): 150-51. Extracts from An Address to the Conductors of the Periodical Press, Upon the Causes of Religious and Political Disputes (1823). Combe contends that an atheist “Is an individual, who, from consideration of the difficulty of believing, that a Being, distinct from nature, could exist, in space, alone, for an eternity, and then create a boundless universe, out of nothing, declares himself compelled to believe, that the universe is eternal and indestructible, and that God is the power, that animates, and regulates, the whole, or the Great All in All.”

I.P. “Atheism.” The Free Enquirer, 1:40 (July 29, 1829): 317. The author claims, “No word perhaps in the whole vocabulary of priestcraft is more potent in its effect upon the ear of the ignorant and credulous or more alarming even to the conscientious and humble enquirer after truth than that of atheism, and many, no doubt of the honest votaries of truth, have been frightened from the most agreeable and useful investigation, have surrendered the noblest attribute of their being, sunk into imbecility and yielded themselves the willing dupes of the designing and the fanatical merely through dread of this magic word.”

“The Second Discourse of “The Lady at the Rotunda.”” The Comet, 1:4 (May 10, 1832): 49-56. The Lady states, “though the word atheist gives so much offence, a word which I do not adopt because of the perversion of its meaning and the ignorant horror associated with it, you can make no other correct definition of it than that it signifies a wise man, who does not run after any folly or mystery, or riddle, or allegory, about the planetary system, but who confines his ideas to the earth and to the things which really concern him, and utters no language beyond his knowledge.”

“Infidelity and Atheism.” The Boston Investigator, 75 (Aug. 31, 1832): 1-2. Reprinted from the Maine Wesleyan Journal and followed by comments from Kneeland. The author reports that “a new era has commenced in the history of atheism. . . . It has become a sect. It has its teachers, its defenders, its itinerants, and its believers.” To which, Kneeland comments, “This is true; and we rejoice that religionists are aware of it, and willing to acknowledge it.”

Prometheus. “An Essay on the Existence, or Nonexistence of a Creative Omnipotence, called God.” The Western Examiner, 1:16-19 (Aug. 15- Oct. 1, 1834): 123-24, 131-32, 139-41, 147-48. The author pledges to “write this essay as I conceive every Atheist ought to write – as one who stands divested, as far as possible, of prejudices and prepossessions, and gazes upon nature in her simple and severe majesty – who draws his knowledge from his senses, and does not allow himself to be bewildered by philosophical vagaries or wild theories – and who therefore, in the defense of what he believes to be the truth, uses the cool and dispassionate language of reasoning, without the violence of partizan feeling – or that low abuse which helps no cause.” The editor recommends this essay to readers who wish to become better acquainted with the arguments of atheism.

G.V. “A Sermon. On Lying and Slandering, addressed to Editors, and especially to the Editor of the Sunday Morning News.” Temple of Reason, 1:32 (Dec. 26, 1835): 252-54. Reprinted from Citizen of the World. Vale responds to accusations that the Citizen of the World is the official paper of atheists and agrarians. Vale first defines atheism as “the denial of a Supreme Being, or of any superior controlling intelligence to man” and “the reverse of Deism” and then insists that he has never advocated Atheism.

“Atheism.” The Boston Investigator, 554 (May 18, 1842): 2. The editor states, “In regard to all man-made gods, or gods of the imagination – gods immaterial, unreal, and incomprehensible – we are Atheists, and glory in the appellation. But in relation to the only true, real, substantial, comprehensible God, (Nature) we are indeed believers, or theists. In one word, we believe in all that is, and disbelieve only what is not. Why then call us unbelievers, when we believe in everything believable, or credible.”

“Atheism.” The Boston Investigator, 675 (Apr. 24, 1844): 2. The editor defines an atheist as “one who, guided by experience and the evidence of his senses, sees nothing in Nature but what really exists; a natural philosopher, who thinks everything may be accounted for by the laws of motion, without having recourse to a supernatural or chimerical power; one, who knows not what a spirit is, and who rejects a phantom whose ascribed opposite qualities only disturb mankind.”

“Atheists and Atheism.” The Boston Investigator, 690 (Aug. 7, 1844): 2. Citing a Christian editor for stating that atheism is “too heartless a doctrine for a country like ours,” the editor asks, “have the heartless cruelties which disgrace our country been perpetuated by atheists? Were they atheists who drove the red man from the soil of his fathers, and stole the black man from his native home to make a slave of him in this Christian land?”

An Atheist. “Atheism – Mr. Perkins.” The Boston Investigator, 983 (Mar. 27, 1850): 1. The author argues, “Admit the eternity of matter, and there can be no God, because there is no creation, and of course no creator. In fact, the idea of creation, as applied to the universe, is downright absurdity, because it is bringing something out of nothing. If the universe was created, it is not eternal; but if not eternal, it must have been created from nothing; but if eternal, it has no author.”

Harriett Martineau & Henry George Atkinson. “Twenty Four Letters on the Laws of Man’s Nature and Development.” The Boston Investigator, 1045-60 (June 4- Sept. 17, 1851). Originally published as a book and pronounced by “men of the pulpit” as “dangerous, wicked, and unfit to read.”

“Who is an Atheist?” The Boston Investigator, 1066 (Oct. 29, 1851): 2. To the question, the editor answers, “The man who brings mankind back to reason and experience, by destroying prejudices inimical to their happiness; who has no need of resorting to supernatural powers, in explaining the phenomena of nature.”

“Atheism.” The Boston Investigator, 1305 (May 28, 1856): 2. The editor notes that, “With regard to moral obligations, the atheist believes that they have their foundation in the nature of things- the preservation of life, and the relative interests of man in society. He maintains that mankind have but one correct guide by which every action may be rightly steered, and that is morality, or the rule of action that at once respects both self and others.”

G.A. Hammett. “A New Demonstration of Atheism.” The Boston Investigator, 1403 (Apr. 14, 1858): 1. Hammett presents, “My first position is, that no system of regular, complex adaptation resembling those that we see around us could have existed from eternity.”

J.C. Brown. “The Name Which I Prefer.” The Boston Investigator, 1527 (Aug. 29, 1860): 146. Brown states, “I think it desirable that we, the advocates of genuine, unadulterated Materialism, should form an association under the name of Atheists or Materialists, for the purpose of improving the condition of man, by obliterating all supernatural absurdities, whether of ancient or modern origin. . . . This society will never condescend to enter into an alliance with one sect of superstitionists, to oppose all others, but will contend for truth and right against the world.”

J.C. Brown. “Atheism- Practical and Theoretical.” The Boston Investigator, 1539 (Nov. 21, 1860): 241. Brown observes, “Every Infidel desires to see more of the practice of genuine morality and less of religion, more knowledge and less faith than subsists at present among the human family. We want not that kind of morality which is founded on a belief in the gods; we want more of that morality which is founded on a belief in the rights of man.”

W.G. “Atheism – Abolitionism – Wendell Phillips.” The Boston Investigator, 1562 (May 1, 1861): 14. Having read abolitionist speeches for some twenty years, the author claims that its most prominent orators constantly trash atheism and infidelity as immoral and knavish and then provides a recent example from a sermon delivered by Wendell Phillips.

Ernestine L. Rose. “A Defense of Atheism.” The Boston Investigator, 1563 (May 8, 1861): 18-19. Delivered in Mercantile Hall, Boston, April 10, 1861. Rose concludes, “the Atheist says to the honest, conscientious believer, though I cannot believe in your God whom you have failed to demonstrate, I believe in man; if I have no faith in your religion, I have faith, unbounded, unshaken faith in the principles of right, of justice, and humanity. Whatever good you are willing to do for the sake of your God, I am full as willing to do for the sake of man. But the monstrous crimes the believer perpetrated in persecuting and exterminating his fellow man on account of difference of belief, the Atheist . . . . could never be guilty of. Whatever good you would do out of fear of punishment, or hope of reward hereafter, the Atheist would do simply because it is good; and being so, he would receive the far surer and more certain reward, springing from well-doing, which would constitute his pleasure, and promote his happiness.”

LaRoy Sunderland. “Wendell Phillips.” The Boston Investigator, 1564 (May 15, 1861): 29. Sunderland disputes that Phillips recently trashed atheists and attests that Phillips is a “friend to the cause of Mental Freedom,” and that “His goodness, his truthfulness, and his integrity of character, place him in the front rank among Nature’s noblemen.”

G.A. Hammett. “Practical Applications of Atheism.” The Boston Investigator, 1573 (July 17, 1861): 97-98. Beginning with the question, “What, then, should be the opinion of Atheists with regard to the return of fugitive slaves?” Hammett, in part, replies, “Let this most unjustifiable rebellion be suppressed by open, manly force; let hundreds of thousands of troops be precipitated upon the Southern States; but let not a great, a powerful, a warlike people endeavor to protect themselves by betraying the helpless fugitive slave. By returning fugitives, the Northern States do, in fact, become accessory to the guilt of slave-holding, and therefore if the practice should continue, the war would be merely between two nations of slave-holders.”

Eliphalet Kimball. “Reason – Government. Reason in Government is Confidence in Nature and Infidelity to Public Law.” The Boston Investigator, 1715 (May 4, 1864): 410. Kimball contends that “Atheism and anarchy are one. Public law is entirely inconsistent with the self-government of the Universe, of which man is a part. Atheism pronounces against all forms of government.”

“Defining Terms – Atheism.” The Boston Investigator, 1772 (May 31, 1865): 28. In part, the editor states that atheism is “merely a system of moral and natural philosophy, in contradistinction to theological or artificial creeds and dogmas. A God is not denied because there is any peculiar objection to him if he really exists in point of fact; but because, as presented by religion and theology, he is not a being whose existence and attributes can be reconciled with truth and reason, and consequently and moreover he is made the basis of a dangerous system of priestcraft and superstition.”

 

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