Folly 3: Bakunin on “God”

[In the early 1970s Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the late founder of American Atheists, instituted a series of talks on the American Atheist Radio Series. One of the talks dealt with the anarchist Bakunin and became a chapter in O’Hair’s subsequent compilation book, Atheist Heroes and Heroines. The text is reprinted here by permission.—R.S.] Good evening,      This is Madalyn O’Hair, American Atheist, back to talk with you again.      I have been trying for some time to get some of the works of the anarchists, for this was a group of persons absolutely dedicated to Atheism.      In America we have the unusual phenomenon of the largest anarchist group being Roman Catholic. Headed by Dorothy Day and putting out a small newspaper, this … Continue reading

Jesus mythicism on the upswing…

NOTE: Only days after this post’s appearance, Father Thomas Brodie (see below) has been removed from his position at the Dominican Biblical Institute in Limerick which he helped set up, according to The Irish Sun (Jan 21, 2013). The influential Irish scholar has also been “banned from any lecturing, teaching or writing while a probe is under way.” The newspaper article subheading reads: “A TOP priest has been forced to quit a Bible-teaching job after writing a book claiming Jesus did not exist.” In his book Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery (Oct. 2012), Fr. Brodie makes public the fact that he has questioned the existence of Jesus since the 1970s.—R.S. (Added Jan 22, 2013.) … Continue reading

My journey as a “spiritual atheist”—Pt. 2

Reason from the East My doubts regarding the existence of god received surprising validation about this time through the discovery of Buddhism. While some call Buddhism a religion, others look upon it as a philosophy. Buddhism is atheist and teaches that each person can (and should) find his or her own answers through a combination of effort and reason. I liked Buddhism’s self-reliance, its non-corporatism, and its emphasis on ethics and understanding. It resonated with my desire to live a moral life while searching for ultimate answers. In the 1980s I returned to Oregon and worked for some years at the State Psychiatric Hospital. The work was dangerous and I eventually transferred to a private hospital where admissions were on … Continue reading

My journey as a “spiritual atheist”—Pt. 1

The search Long ago as a college music major I spent most of my time practicing piano in “the catacombs”—a series of windowless, graffiti-lined cubicles under the University of Oregon School of Music. The walls were paper thin, and the din from neighboring musicians usually insufferable—but also sometimes fascinating. Practicing required unique non-musical skills: the ability to stop reading the graffiti; the ability to tune out the sonic competition; and (the hardest one for me) the ability to stop writing music on the walls. I wasn’t good at these, and my lessons and grades suffered accordingly.   Under such distracting circumstances I practiced hard and somehow also managed to compose reams of music, dreaming of the day when I would … Continue reading

Basic Mythicist Bibliography

Note: Though these books are not all “mythicist,” all provide scholarly support for that point of view. “I soon learned how little it mattered that the serious student agree with every point, even the main point, of a book. The thing is to find fresh food for thought and to encounter new perspectives not presented in the stale tomes of the orthodox and conventional.”—Robert M. Price. Thanks to Dr. Price for links to many of his reviews below, and for a number of (sometimes irreverent) comments that follow, variously by him and by myself.—René Salm. ALLEGRO, John. – The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross (1970) – The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth (Prometheus, 1984) Jesus was nothing other … Continue reading

Paul-Louis Couchoud

Born in Vienne (Isère) in 1879, Couchoud entered the École Normale Supérieure in 1898 and received a diploma in philosophy. He also studied medicine in Paris, receiving his doctor’s certificate in 1911 for his work L’Asthénie Primitive. Appointed lecturer at the University of Göttingen, Couchoud benefitted from a Kahn Foundation scholarship. This permitted him to visit China and Japan, resulting in his book Sages et Poètes d’Asie (1916). He translated several works from Japanese and published, in 1924, Luciole, Conte Japonais, Raconté à Marianne Couchoud par son Père. Dedicating himself particularly to the research of Christian origins, Couchoud made a name for himself among exegetes and historians in the field, leaving an abundant legacy which includes the following, all book-length … Continue reading

Frank Zindler

Biographical note Frank R. Zindler has been an Atheist activist since 1959 when he began publicly to defend the teaching of evolution and to criticize religious encroachments upon the public sphere. A professor of biology and geology at SUNY for almost twenty years, he was forced to give up teaching when he joined Madalyn Murray O’Hair in a lawsuit that attempted to remove “In God We Trust” from American currency. A linguist and editor of scientific literature, he is a former member of The Jesus Seminar and the current Jesus Project and is the author of The Jesus the Jews Never Knew: Sepher Toldoth Yeshu and the Quest of the Historical Jesus in Jewish Sources (2003). Zindler is a veteran … Continue reading

Georges Ory

Georges Antoine Alphonse Ory (1897–1983) was the son of Alphonse Ory, an employee of the French public administration of postal services and telecommunications, and of Marie Guérin. Ory studied in Paris where he received diplomas in liberal studies and political science as well as a license to practice law. From the age of 19 he was active in the Grand Lodge of France (Masons). He would eventually be listed among its dignitaries. In April 1933 he married Suzanne Crozier in Neuilly-sur-Seine. It is not known if they had children. Ory was an active member of the Parti Radical (a centrist party despite its name) which upholds the principles of private property and secularism (anti-clericalism). He was elected Secretary of the … Continue reading

Prosper Alfaric

Born into a farming family in Aveyron, southern France, Prosper Alfaric (1876-1955) grew up Catholic and was ordained priest in 1899. He taught philosophy in the seminaries of Bordeaux and Bayeux, and later dogma in the seminary of Albi. As a academic and cleric Alfaric’s future was bright, but he gradually lost faith on intellectual grounds and was opposed to the anti-modernism of Pope Pius X, finding himself among the left leaning modernists. Alfaric sought out Alfred Loisy, who received him cordially. He abandoned the priesthood in 1909, resumed the study of history and especially the history of religions. Alfaric prepared his doctoral thesis in Germany and finally received it at the Sorbonne. Alfaric continued to study philosophy under Levy-Bruhl, … Continue reading

Charles Guignebert

Charles Guignebert (1867–1939) was born in the Val-de-Marne, into a family of artisans that was not particularly pious. Despite his secular upbringing he became interested in the history of Christianity and studied under Ernest Renan, obtaining a doctorate in the field with a thesis on Tertullian. From 1906 he was a professor of history at the Sorbonne. In 1919 Guignebert assumed the chair of the History of Christianity faculty there, a position he held until 1937. With Alfred Loisy, Guignebert was among the first to adopt a scientific rather than confessional approach to Christian history. “The gospels are texts of propaganda,” he wrote, “calculated to organize and authenticate the legend represented in the sacred drama of the sect by making … Continue reading