at Drake University, USA, in March, 1981.
If you can be made to believe that you yearn a life after death, you can be made to believe that you ought to die for your country in some senseless war. If you can be made to believe in a virgin birth, you can be made to accept that the federal reserve system makes sense. If you can be made to believe you are going to go to a heaven when you die, you will be willing to spend your life in a slum or die in a nuclear holocaust. If you can be made to believe that prayer helps, you will sit idle and do nothing.
And, on other hand, here are the Atheists, lone sentinels in a mad world; still espousing individualism, freethought, gain through education (formal and that of self-help); advocating that you grapple with life -- you will find you enjoy it. Life is not a spectator sport. Organized big religion must be divorced from government, not wedded to it to make an immoral majority. One should not use the other for political reasons, for power struggles, for psychological control of the mass of mankind. If our system is good, you don't need to be tricked into supporting it or conditioned into supporting it. Ours was intended to be a secular government. The founding fathers were right -- the danger is religion. Religion is, or ought to be, a matter of private concern, not one of public policy.
The task of Atheists is formidable; how does one deprogram a nation? How does one return amour propre to every citizen? How do we make you understand that the proper course for you is to educate yourself to the last degree that is possible, to stand proud, to be independent, self-actuating, to utilize your full potential, reach to the possible, try to ameliorate the human condition, and treasure life and peace.
Fight for peace. Demand peace. It is only in a peaceful world that you have a chance for an enriched good life. Question everything. Let nothing be sacred, sacrosanct or beyond your exploration.
An atheist loves himself and his fellow man instead of a god. An Atheist accepts that heaven is something for which we should work nowhere on earth -- for all men together to enjoy. An Atheist accepts that he can get no help through prayer but that he must find in himself the inner conviction and strength to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue it and to enjoy it. An Atheist accepts that only in a knowledge of himself and a knowledge of his fellowman can he find understanding that will help to a life of fulfillment.
Therefore, he seeks to know himself and his fellow-man rather than to know a god. An Atheist accepts that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An Atheist accepts that a deed must be clone instead of a prayer said. An Atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanquished, war eliminated. Fie wants man to understand and to love man. He wants an ethical way of life. He accepts that we cannot rely on a god nor channel action into prayer nor hope for an end of troubles in a hereafter. He accepts that we are -- in a sense -- our brothers' keepers in that we are, first, keepers of our own lives; that we are responsible persons, that the job is here and the time is now.
Life is for living; not for dying.
The joy is in involvement, not in watching.
The excitement is in outreach, not in recoil.
For total freedom, the ultimate freedom -- freedom of the mind -- try Atheism.