Hidden Heroes

In the past I’ve expressed concern over the fact that most prominent atheists are male. Here in the US, there is a strong anti-secular sentiment. Roughly 15% of the overall population in the states is considered secular, which means they have no religious affiliation. Atheists are counted within this category, but not everyone who is secular is an atheist. Between 70% and 80% of the US population is some denomination of Christianity. This could range from Protestant to Baptist to Catholic and anything in between. The US has small statistical markers of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and a few other religions.


Many of the Christians I’ve come across honestly believe that without the unsubstantiated belief in a deity, a person is incapable of sustaining moral behavior. The truth is, morality cannot be simply dictated by an ancient text. This has been proven over and over by religious extremists who slaughter those who believe differently from the way they do. Whether the underlying reason for war is money, resources or any number of mundane things, religious conflict makes a perfect scapegoat to begin the bloodshed. Sometimes the religious beliefs are the sole basis for war. The Israelis and Palestinians have been shedding blood over the Holy City of Israel for generations, simply because the Israelis feel that they have a right to Palestinian land.

Years ago I wrote a paper depicting many of the issues concerning the ten commandments. I’ll summarize some of it here. In scripture, there are many contradictions concerning the fact that God orders his people never to commit these grievances. According to Exodus 20:13-16 “Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” Yet, Exodus 32:27 says, “And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.” Hosea 1:2 “1:2 The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.” Ezekiel 39:10 “So that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests; for they shall burn the weapons with fire: and they shall spoil those that spoiled them, and rob those that robbed them, saith the Lord GOD.” 1 Samuel 21:2 “And David said unto Ahimelech the priest, The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know any thing of the business whereabout I send thee, and what I have commanded thee: and I have appointed my servants to such and such a place.” (But David was an enemy of King Saul, and was not on the king’s business. We know that God approved of this lie, since 1 Kings 15:5 says that God approved of everything David did, with the single exception of the matter of Uriah.)

Of course, as far as the ten commandments are concerned, I prefer George Carlin’s approach:

Now, back to the original point. Why is it that there aren’t very many female atheists to look up to? I think that Rebecca Vitsmun might have an answer for me:

(Video Credit: The Thinking Atheist)

From what I see here, the issue is fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of persecution. Fear of misunderstanding. Believe it or not, women have a lot more to lose from society than men do. If women are perceived as soulless, immoral and lost, the consequences could be devastating. Women are already at a disadvantage. They make less money in the work place, have a harder time finding jobs to begin with, and have to deal with employers constantly suspecting them of getting pregnant and “stealing” money from the company to take leave to have the child. If a woman already has children, being seen as immoral puts her at risk for losing the children she has. People can say, “You can’t lose your children just for being an atheist!” That’s true, but you can lose your children if you have too many anonymous calls to children’s services. If someone doesn’t like how you look, your religious affiliation (or lack there of), or anything else about you, they can anonymously call children’s services over and over again and you can eventually lose your children, even if they find nothing wrong. Apparently, just the calls are “just cause” to indicate a problem.

Rebecca had a lot to lose when she “came out” on national television. I know that there are a lot more hidden heroes out there who have the strength and initiative to inspire the rest of us. I look forward to hearing from those heroes. I know that the Beyond Belief Network would appreciate any help that people are willing to offer.


19 thoughts on “Hidden Heroes

    • The tragedy is that religious people don’t think for themselves the way some of these celebrities do. George Carlin was a free thinker who did not conform to anyone else’s view of what he should be. If you are too busy skipping over the biblical evidence I provided to scoff at a dead icon, I really feel bad for you.

      • Jan,

        That atheists get their worldview from comedians and comics is indeed a tragedy.

        Such people have no business criticizing anyone, especially Christians.

        Did you know that all the great civilizations grew up around religion?

        And the greatest religion of them all, Christianity, powered the rise of mankind’s greatest civilization, Western Civilization.

        And all atheists can do is consult comedians and comics. That’s no way to run an airline, not to mention a highly developed civilization.

      • The greatest religion of all? It has only been around for 2000 years. That is a mere speck in the span of humanity. There are religions that go back much further than that. There are religions still practiced in Asia and Africa that date back to long before history was even recorded. That’s a claim that Christianity could never make. The Christian god, too, will fall into oblivion, just as Zeus, Odin, Ra and many others have.

      • Jan,

        The Catholic Church is the oldest institution on the planet.

        And name even one civilization that progressed past the slave, beast of burden and bone grinding manual labor besides Western Civilization.

        Thanks to Christianity, Western Civilization developed modern science which permitted mankind to quantum leap into a future of internal combustion and jet engines, flight, mass production, modern medicine, human rights, etc., etc.

        There simply is no comparison between any civilization Western Civilization with regard to technological, social and political advancement.

      • Again, you mean modern science developed in spite of the Catholic Church. For centuries the Catholic Church tried to suppress the discovery that our solar system was actually solar centric. That contradicted scripture, so the church did not want it publicly known. Whoops…now everyone knows that the Earth orbits the sun, not the other way around. That isn’t the only bit of information the church tried to suppress, ya know…

        You have things so backward! Being an historian, I understand my history quite well. Many of those groundbreaking scientific discoveries were made outside the church or without church approval. From there, after Martin Luther broke the Catholic Church up, it lost its hold on a lot of things, scientific inquiry being one of them.

        The Church is not responsible for much of anything after that. Different denominations do different things. Some good, much of it bad. You taut on about human rights when it was church missionaries who literally beat Africans into conversion during the colonization of the continent. And how much medicine do churches send over there? Not much. They are too busy pocketing the proceeds from their benefit commercials. When I did the research, I found that the Christian Children’s Fund only sends about 10% of the money they raise to the kids in Africa. The rest goes to pay for overhead and advertising. Comparable secular agencies send closer to 85-90% of the money they raise to the kids in Africa. I guess they don’t waste as much on advertising. Either that or thy’re pocketing less money.

        You want Christianity to be responsible for Western advancement. The truth is, Western civilization had to overcome the obstacles Christianity set before it to become what it is today. If Christianity had not existed, we probably would have achieved our civilization a couple of centuries ahead of our current schedule.

      • Jan,

        Just think about what you are saying and it becomes clear that it can’t be so.

        The Catholic Church was the most powerful institution in Europe if not the entire world for the 1000 leading up to the Reformation.

        It controlled or greatly influenced EVERYTHING, especially thought and worldview. Any intellectual was subject to Inquisition.

        Consequently, science developed because the Catholic Church guided intellectual thinking away from the tar pits of alchemy, magic, astrology and the secular commandeering of religion, education and science that prevailed in almost all other civilizations.

        Nevertheless, it was in alchemy that the precise measurement necessary for modern chemistry was developed and it was in astrology that the mathematics of astronomy, physics and cosmology was developed.

        The major mover of the efforts behind the study of alchemy and astrology was boo koo bucks. Royalty paid handsomely for good astrological forecasts.

        The study alchemy was outrageously expensive but the promise of being able to turn a base metal into gold or silver made expenditures seem like investments.

        This according to James Hannam in his most recent book, “The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched Scientific Revolution.”

        Additionally, notice that no other civilization in history developed modern science or progressed past the beast of burden, manual labor or slavery.

        Christianity was not present in any of those other cultures.

        Logically then, Christianity did not and could not have impeded the development of science. Reality is exactly the opposite.

        Western Civilization developed modern science precisely because of Christianity.

      • Like so many others before you, you want this to be true. If you actually do the research, without it being tainted by your desires, you’ll find that, much like today, the church has always been corrupt. Scientific discoveries were concealed, research was stifled, and researchers were threatened by church officials if their work threatened the sanctity of the church or interfered with tradition. Progress and tradition are opposing forces. Ask any church official which is more important, progress or church tradition and he will choose the latter every time. It has always been this way.

        Christian apologists writing papers desperately trying to convince others of how Christianity was responsible for the rise of western society is really not a convincing argument. If you want to convince someone of facts, you need to actually have facts. Step out of your comfort zone.

      • Jan,

        The truth is not a matter of what I want.

        What I said is factual, historically correct and subject to the scrutiny of common sense.

        Modern science developed in no other civilization except Western Civilization whose development was guided and nurtured by the Catholic Church.

        It is a myth that Christianity impeded the development of science.

        You believe otherwise because it is your thinking that is ruled by desire, not logic, fact and intellectual honesty.

      • It is more than obvious that this is the only post on this blog that you have ever read. If you had bothered to research your subject, that last comment would have never made it to the screen. My personal history shows that my desire, at least to begin with, coincided with yours. I wanted to prove the existence of God. My research began in my late teens and early twenties with the spark of youth and the naivety of a child believing that I would prove my father’s beliefs to be true. I wanted to prove him right. It was evidence that showed me differently. I have spent The better part of 20 years researching this subject, looking for loopholes in the logic the entire time. There are none. The evidence is solid. Church officials, along with government sanctioned public school instructors teach history, especially when it comes to church involvement, with rose colored glasses. I choose to shed the glasses and see the history for what it really was.

      • This post is pure propaganda and out and out lies.

        Galileo was the only scientist to be persecuted by the Church.

        And he was punished for insulting the pope not for his science.

        The fact is that during the Middle Ages, the Church shepherded Western thought away from bizarre studies such as alchemy, and astrology.

        And that is what let to the scientific revolution during the Renaissance and beyond.

        It is no coincidence that modern science only developed in the Christian West.

  1. you tell him ljanoski

    and silenceofmind the screen name you have chosen is a perfect example of why i find christian funny is sad way

    you are ob here making comments about your thoughts on this subject while telling us you dont think

      • Silence,
        In this culture, when god speaks to someone, we reserve a special room for them at an exclusive resort…you know the one, “psychotics anonymous…”

      • Jan,

        It has been well know for 1000’s of years that God speaks to man through insight not the voices atheists hear in their own heads.

        I just posted a blog called “God For Atheists” explaining the whole thing. I was going to call the post, “God For Dummies,” but “Atheist” is a better word fit.

      • Silence,

        Are you deliberately misrepresenting facts, or do you truly not understand your own religious history? If you read your bible, you’ll find that God was supposed to have literally spoken to Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Job and several others. More recently, Joan of Arc was famous for being a vessel of God through which He spoke. She died in 1431 (which certainly isn’t thousands of years–of course Christianity has barely been around for thousands of years, which makes your argument a bit suspect). Joan of Arc was only one of many people who “spoke” with God during the crusades. At that point in religious history one’s mental capacity would not be suspect for hearing the voice of God. On the contrary; a person would be revered, set apart, possibly looked at as a prophet or good omen. The mentally ill who did hear voices, such as schizophrenics, were sought out for advice because people believed that God was speaking to these people. It is far more likely that Joan of Arc was mentally ill than it is that she was “speaking” with God.

        As far as your claim is concerned, it is only a recent phenomenon that Christians believe in God speaking through “insight,” as you put it. Over the last few centuries Christians have gravitated toward the notion that dreams, visions, environmental cues and so on are God’s means of communication. This came in response to advances in the mental health field. As explanations for the voices in people’s heads were being made, Christians came up with other ways for God to communicate that could not be so easily explained.

        Really, it doesn’t take much research to find this stuff out, so you must be trying to bait me. The personal pot shots are not going to upset me, I’m far too secure in who I am for that. If you truly want a debate, give me something real.

      • Jan,

        We are not Moses, Abraham, Jacob or Job. These are not the times of yore.

        God picked certain people to do certain things at certain, appointed times.

        And if you were to read your Bible for proper understanding, you would see that anyone who God choses to do special things wants to run like hell away from God.

        The first thing Moses wanted to do when God approached him was slip out the back, Jack. The Bible indicates that hearing the voice of God in spoken fashion is quite unpleasant.

        Insight, though gentle, is massively powerful. It’s like the wind that erodes mountains or the stream of water that digs canyons.

        But insight is extremely pleasurable. There is no greater joy than receiving an insight.

  2. first off just because someone quotes someone does not mean that’s where they get their world view from

    second off crhristianity is only the third largest religion so you cant actually call it the greatest in that respect
    and considering how many people through its history the church as forced to convert through the sword you cant consider it the greatest in that respect if you have any moral integrity

    as for what you are calling the silence of the mind i communicate with the universe and my goddess on a regular bases and it is anything but silent

    and finally from my study of history and religions the 3 largest religions in the world all of which happen to be of an abrahamic derivative they have done more to hinder civilization then promote it

    in other words civilization has not came about because of religion it has came about despite religion

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