wrestled with his early faith, the faith that he was brought up with and that yet is not truly his own—for no faith is our own that we have not arduously won—has missed not only a moral but an intellectual discipline. The absence of that discipline may mark a man for life and render all his work ineffective. He has missed a training in criticism, in analysis, in open-mindedness, in the resolutely impersonal treatment of personal problems, which no other training can compensate. He is, for the most part, condemned to live in a mental jungle where his arm will soon be too feeble to clear away the growths that enclose him, and his eyes too weak to find the light." The man who has allowed his mental capacities to clear his way through the dense underbrush of religious dogma finds that he has emerged into a purer and healthier atmosphere. In the bright light of this mental emancipation a man perceives the falsities of all religions in their historic, scientific, and metaphysical aspects. The healthier mental viewpoint holds up to scorn and discards the reactionary religious philosophy of morals, and the sum total of his conclusions must be that religion is doomed; and doomed in this modern day by its absolute irrelevance to the needs and interests of modern life. And this not only by the steadily increasing army of freethinkers, but by the indifference and neglect of those who still cling to the fast slipping folds of religious creeds—- the future freethinkers.
It was Spinoza who remarked that, "The proper study of a wise man is not how to die but how to live." Religious creeds can but teach how man should live, so that when he dies, he may be assured of salvation; and the important thing is not what he does to help his fellow men while he is living, but how closely he lives in conformity to a reactionary code of dogmas. Religion has always aimed to smooth the sufferer's passage to the next world, not to save him for this world.
Freethought has dethroned the gods from the pedestal, and has replaced, not an empty idol, but an ideal, the ideal of a man who is his own god.
It has become increasingly apparent that what men have hitherto attributed to the gods are nothing but the ideals they value and grope for in themselves. The ideal of the freethinker, the conception that places the supreme worth of human life in the expanding horizon of man's usefulness to man, is forever menaced by the supernaturalism of the theist which manifests itself in the multifarious religious sects that are the most active and constant menace to civilization and to mankind today. That religion in the past has produced suffering incalculable and has been the greatest obstacle in the advance of secular knowledge is a fact too well attested to by history to be denied by any sincere and unbiased intelligent man. That today it constitutes a cultural lag, an active menace to the best interests of humanity and the last refuge of human savagery, is the contention of the freethinker.
The conception of the God-idea as held by society in general stands in the same position as the vermiform appendix does to the anatomy of man. It may have been useful in some way thousands of years ago, but today it constitutes a detriment to the well-being of the individual without offering any compensatory usefulness. Agree or disagree with this contention you may, but only when you are made aware of the facts that can be brought to the aid of this conviction. Just as the fundamental principle of justice is outraged when a man or an institution is condemned by jurist or popular opinion when an opportunity is not given to present the facts on both aspects of the case, just so is no man justified in making a decision between theism and atheism until he becomes acquainted with both sides of the controversy. Freethought but asks a hearing and the exercise of the unbiased reason of the man who has not hitherto been made aware of its contentions.
In the religious revolution of this twentieth century, the battle ground is squarely seen to be between supernaturalism and secularism. Although the supernaturalists are well entrenched and fortified, it is well to remember that it is the man with vision who finally prevails. The time has passed when the freethinker could be held up to the community as an example of a base and degraded individual. No manner of pulpit drivel can delude even the unthinking masses to this misconception. The freethinker is today the one who beholds the vision, and this vision does not transcend the natural. It is a vision that is earth-bound; a vision it may be called, since it leaps the boundary of the present and infers for him what the future of a secular organization of the entire constituency of humanity will bring forth. This vision is but a product of his scientific armamentarium and is the means by which he is assured of victory over the well-entrenched and fortified position of the supernaturalists who are still creed-bound to use antiquated and useless weapons. The supernaturalist's armamentarium of God, Bible, Heaven, Hell, Soul, Immortality, Sin, The Fall and Redemption of Man, Prayer, Creed, and Dogma, leave as much impression on the mind of intelligent man as would an arrow against a battleship. And the comparison is apt, the supernaturalists have made full use of force, be it in physical warfare or in mental coercion. The freethinker has as much use for physical force and war as he has for mental coercion; both are abhorrent to him.
Supernaturalism vs. Secularism—that, and that alone is the field of argument. The supernaturalist, be he the fundamentalist of whatever denomination, or the more advanced modernist, is as tenaciously clinging to the transcendental, to revelation, to the infallibility of the Bible, if not in all respects at least in some (although this is a contradiction per se), to the interdisposition of a deity in the affairs of mankind, as were his ancestors of five hundred years ago. In these aspects as well as in the armamentarium enumerated above, the supernaturalists are agreed and are making their last stand.
The secularists, the opinion of the theists to the contrary, are also agreed. It matters not what a man calls his mental process; be he infidel, sceptic, rationalist, agnostic, or atheist; he is firm in the conviction that religions of all varieties are rapidly sinking into the limbo of all other ancient superstitions. To him it is but a matter of time for the inevitable crumbling and disappearance of these superstitions, and the time involved is directly proportional to the ease and rapidity with which scientific knowledge is disseminated to men who have the mental capacity to understand the value of this knowledge and its utter destruction of all forms of supernaturalism. When man becomes fully cognizant of the fact that all the knowledge acquired by the human race has been the result of human inquiry, the result of reasoning processes, and the exercise of mind alone, then secularism will have overcome the long night of supernaturalism. And it is this mental attitude of secularism that proceeds with an ever accelerated rapidity to overcome the problems that confront humanity by substituting human inquiry for divine revelation. Thus this attitude of man to proceed through life dependent only on his own resources will expand and strengthen his mentality by doing away with the inferiority complex of the God-idea. This vision of man, the master of his own destinies, the searcher for truth and the shaper of a better life for the only existence that he knows anything about, this reliance of man upon man, and without the supposed interference of any god, constitutes atheism in its broadest and true sense.
Science and reason, the constituents of secularism, are the mortal enemies of supernaturalism. Secularism, however, is at a disadvantage at this stage of our mental development, since it is approached only by the calm light of the intellect. And intellect can but make an appeal to reason. If the seeds of these appeals fall on the fertile minds of