Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What Do You Believe In?

How many times have we non-believers heard this sort of inane question?  We let it be known that we do not believe in invisible magic men in the sky and we are met with bigoted ignorance in the form of a statement that we "don't believe in anything" or a question that implies the same.

Recently the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) posted a quotation in the Freethought of the Day section of its website that I believe is one of many possible responses to this sort of offensive nonsense.  I think the last part, which I have placed in boldface, says it best with the fewest words.

I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind--that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.

I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious. . .

I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.

I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech . . .

I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.

I believe in the reality of progress.

But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.
— Mencken's Creed, cited by George Seldes in Great Thoughts

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