Saturday, October 1, 2016


Checala is now put to bed. 

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33,000 plus views later, and it's time to move on to other projects.

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

CRAIG EDWARD KELSO, Toads at Midnight

In an age of easily available images mocking religion, organized and otherwise, Fred Woodworth’s pamphlets, THERE IS NO GOD and THE KORAN, appear quaint. They read as the musings of a man steeped in a grand battle for the mind. 

When a reader also considers Fred Woodworth’s personal story, he is the editor and publisher of the longest running Anarchist journal in the United States, THE MATCH! (since 1969), the pamphlets serve as historical pieces.

At one time, these arguments meant everything to me.

They gave voice to the thoughts in my head, and they did so in tight sentences. They did so in sharp logic. They did so without compromise.

And so it is I offer them to you here, in this space Myra and I created.

What Myra and I do is incessantly consider ideas. We talk for hours and hours, at times, discussing ideas of life and death, ideas of grave importance. There is a time to be light. There is a time to be silly. And sometimes there is the matter of what our lives are about, what humans are, … the epistemological foundation on which we start our every day.

Sometimes we need to read ideas at complete opposition to our own. Sometimes.

Good writing is good for a reason. It gives the reader an insight to the person. Nothing better, nothing perhaps other than taste in music or a long chess game, reveals a person to others. When we write, we show our ass.

These two pamphlets were produced completely by Fred. No corporate backing. No federal grant. No foundation money. Fred toiled in his flat, with his very own printer from the 1950s, and hand set the type. He made the covers. No computers. No computers EVER. He is an artist of a singular kind.

I dot the pamphlets with his amazing covers from THE MATCH!. Again, it's easy to skip over them visually as it is to skip over these arguments, passing them with a sneer. But you're worse for not having gotten to know Fred. You are. And that won't do.  

While our world insists upon rushing to insanity, Fred gave me hope rational humans could exist, and that they could exist in a principled and ethical way. I love Fred very, very much. 

Any errors or mistakes are mine, not Fred's. 

Meet Fred Woodworth, my intellectual mentor and good friend.

And I mean it.  


What is called "God", namely a supposed-to-be all-knowing, everywhere present supreme wise spirit, CANNOT exist, for a number of reasons. I hope to be able to show to any reasonably open-minded person who will take the trouble to read my arguments (and who will not assume that I am in league with "the Devil", or that I am an evil agent of "godless Communism"), that there is not the least reason to put any stock in the claims of persons who think such a supreme spirit exists.

Fred Woodworth
Let me begin by noting that most of those who today think it is proper to believe in a god do so automatically, because others before them have done the same. That this is not a good reason for doing anything ought to be apparent to all. If, then, you happen to think already that my own claim in the title of this essay is wrong, won't you search your mind and think of when, if ever, anything BUT the automatic assumption of a god's existence was ever presented to you as a viable belief? Actually, the belief in a god has been traditional for many centuries, just as many other notions have been. This one, like countless ones before it, needs to be subjected to logic, analysis, and impartial testing, not just blindly accepted in a stupid suspension of critical thought.

According to Christianity, two gods exist: the good god and the god of evil, the Devil. Thus, anybody could really choose which of the two to worship; but what if it could be shown that there was not logically any difference? Consider that the "good" god MUST be either totally powerless and superfluous (or nonexistent), or a being of endless ill will, a devil himself, since he is necessarily either responsible for conditions being as they are today, or else is powerless to prevent them being so. An ancient series of questions and answers inquires and concludes:

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

Why believe in an ineffective or powerless god? Why respect an evil god? One would be better off to worship the sun; at least the sun exists.

But Christianity, whose notion of a god prevails in our culture, makes other claims as well about the alleged supreme being: that he is wise, that he created the real world, that he is merciful, that he is a god responsible for beauty, that he knows everything.

And yet these qualities are not possible, either in combination with each other or separately. Can God think of a task he cannot accomplish? If so, he has imagined a case in which he is not omnipotent. Yet if he cannot think of such a case, he cannot be all-knowing. This is one of the more trivial and often mentioned contradictions.

If "God" was necessary to create the real world, in its infinite complexity, then who was the necessary one who CREATED GOD ... as God is presumably still more complex, and in even greater need therefore of a creator himself?

If he is responsible for beauty, he is likewise responsible for ugliness. Is there any justice in praising him for the beautiful, but keeping silent about the hideous? Some religionists seem to delight in ascribing to "God" the credit for having made apple trees in fields of green, under a blue sky; but where is their creator when we remember that there are tapeworms in the world? I think I would be embarrassed to have to admit that I believed in an "all-wise God" who made tapeworms. But the very religionists who use this beauty argument the most frequently are never heard at all on the subject of the disgusting things likewise ascribable to their god. And no wonder!

If he is wise, why did he not compose a coherent account of what he wanted mankind to do? No. The Bible is not such an account; nobody can agree on what it says. The very god who, according to those who believe in him, made every last electron spin in its orbit everywhere throughout the universe, still cannot write a clear, unmistakable volume of instruction to human beings who are supposed to follow his wishes. Instead, he allegedly gives us the Bible or the Koran, or some other jumble of ridiculous and ancient superstitions and vague, wandering narratives that show nothing so much as how senile the priests were who wrote them.

God, according to the Bible, created the Devil. God, being all-knowing, must have known what the Devil would do; why, then did he create him? Likewise, if God really wanted to "save" mankind, why not do it by the simple methods already used when creating the world; namely, just by snapping his fingers? God seems to be given to oddly varying methods; he manufactures everything that exists simply by willing it to be so, then, when he decides he wants a world of goodness, he creates the DEVIL. He then wants to "help" mankind, so allegedly sends among us an agent, Christ, who spreads confusion and accomplishes nothing, absolutely nothing. Christ's so-called purpose, to save man, is futile, since a god who could do all the rest could surely do this too without having to resort to an absurd ritual in Palestine.

Further, from the evidence of the holy wars and inquisitions carried out by those believing in Christianity, it must be concluded that Christ's advent was a major tragedy to the human species because it has brought pain to, and worsened the lot of, millions.

If the holy books were God's attempt to prove to mankind that he existed, he obviously must have wished for mankind to believe this. But, as the best way to make mankind believe in God would be for this creature to make himself known publicly and unmistakably, it is apparent that God's supposed method was a failure. Thus, I myself can think of methods superior to those of "God"; but a god so incompetent that any mere mortal can surpass his mind is nonsensical; God must not exist.

And then, if God is just, why has he created a world of injustice? The reply that our world is a test by God to see which among us will do this or that, is a reply that is very poorly considered. Millions of young children are maimed or killed or born with gruesome deformities; thus, God does not even have the sense to apply his test to all under equal conditions. Even the Department of Motor Vehicles is wiser than "God".

One of the Anarchist writers of many years ago, Johann Most, observed that the edicts and commandments of God are obscure:

... they are conundrums, which the subjects for whose special benefit and enlightenment they are issued, can neither understand nor solve. The laws of this hidden monarch require explanation, but those who explain are ever at variance themselves. Everything that they relate about their concealed sovereign is a chaotic mass of contradictions. They speak of him as exceedingly good, but still there is no individual existing who does not complain of his mandates. They speak of him as infinitely wise, but yet in his administration everything opposes common sense and reason. They praise his justice, and still the best of his subjects, are as a rule least favored. They assure us that he sees everything; still his omnipresence alleviates no distress. He is, they say, a friend of order, yet in his domain everything is confusion and disorder. All his actions are self-determined, yet occurrences seldom if ever bear out his plans. He can penetrate the future, but does not know the things that will come to pass ... All his enterprises are for the sake of glory, yet his purpose, to be universally glorified, is never attained. He labors incessantly for the welfare of his subjects, but most of them are in dire distress for the necessities of life... He is an Almighty who is omnipresent, yet descended from Heaven to see what mankind was doing; who is merciful, and yet has at times permitted the slaughter of millions. An Almighty, who damned millions of innocents for the faults of a few... who created a Heaven for the fools who believe in the 'gospel' and a hell for the enlightened who repudiate it ...

God, as revealed in his book of edicts and narratives, is practically an idiot. He has nothing to say that any sensible person should want to listen to.

Now, some charge that our view of "God" is ethnocentric. They are anxious to bring in gods which do not create, control, or know anything, and which are completely powerless, futile intangibles having no qualities of matter, energy, or even location. They wish to prove that "God" is a "process", or a "consciousness", or some other nondescript vagueness which neatly escapes having any properties assigned to itself so that detractors can discuss the logical implications of them. Conceptually speaking, it is meaningless to say that "God" is a process or a "consciousness". But once this piece of verbal sleight-of-hand is let pass unchallenged, the modern religionist can point with triumph to things that do exist, such as processes, consciousnesses, etc., and thus "prove" that "God" exists.

Religionists today first refuse to concede that they believe in the "old" god. The new god serves no purpose that they will define, so it can't be attacked, but only denied. Religion has therefore learned much from us Atheists: it has learned that it is harder for us to attack that which is not specified. So, today, their god is "the wind" or whatever. But we must point out that this is only an attempt to preserve the notion of a god after the substance has been destroyed. Lacking any separate function, such as being creator of the universe, etc., the idea of anything being called a "God" is completely to no purpose.

Not the least evidence exists that there really is a god of any kind, and unless there is evidence, it is harmful to believe that any such god exists, because then the illogical way of thinking can be extended to other areas of society, as Indeed it has. A civilization that holds that it is proper to believe positively in something for which there is no evidence at all, perverts the fundamental structure of logic upon which human civilization itself rests.

We Atheists make a revolutionary claim: Nothing exists unless it can be proved to do so -- the burden of proof being upon those who assert. The advance of the human intellect has been one long battle for this rational principle, against a vicious host of advocates of all kinds of nonexistent things: angels, humours, stellar spheres, dragons, ends of the earth where the explorer would drop off, warlocks and monsters, and soon, and, lastly, "God". He who is too weak to deny the existence of the unproven "God" must admit anything and everything and must live in a fantasy of unseen presences. The very walls may seethe when he is not looking, with extraordinary witchery (PROVE they don't!); and the neighbors may, for all he knows, turn into toads at midnight.

There is no god. As expressed by religions, the history of gods is silly, nonfactual, and contradictory. As set forth by theologians, the idea of gods is an argument that assumes its own conclusions, and proves nothing. And as expressed socially, the belief in "God" is reactionary and harmful, standing forever in the way of betterment of the human condition.

There is no god; there are only churches and religious persons with an interest in preserving their station. There is no god; there are only people who believe because others told them it was so. There is no god; there is only the real world with its ugliness and beauty and violence and peace and happiness and pain. If the world is to be made beautiful and peaceful and happy, "God" won't do it. We will.


All but unknown in the West is the fact that, like several modern Christian evangelists, Mohammed (c. 570-632), the founder of the religion known as Islam, once found himself embroiled in a sexual scandal. One of his nine wives, Hafsah, caught him in the act with a slave-girl. Hafsah had evidently known something about his liaison earlier, and had extracted from the Prophet his promise to end the relationship - which, of course, he didn't carry out. When Hafsah, furious at the thought that she might be a mere tenth instead of a ninth of his attentions, suspiciously checked up and had her worst fears confirmed, the situation blew up into a quarrel involving another wife, A'ishah.

Coming to Mohammed's rescue, Allah dictated (through Mohammed, of course) another chapter of the Koran - generally number 66, entitled "Prohibition." Here God attacks the wives, and blusters to them that: "If you two turn to God in repentance (for your hearts have sinned), you shall be pardoned; but if you conspire against him, know that God is his protector."

God also remarks, rather petulantly, I thought, that Hafsah and A'ishah had better watch out because they can be replaced: "It may well be that, if he divorce you, his Lord will give him in your place better wives than yourselves, submissive to God and full of faith, devout, penitent, obedient, and given to fasting."

Already, back in chapter 33 God had issued a bunch of special dispensations for The Prophet, specifically making it lawful for him (just him) to have intercourse with a number of women who would ordinarily be off-limits:

"Prophet, We have made lawful to you the wives to whom you have granted dowries and the slave-girls whom God has given you as booty; the daughters of your paternal and maternal uncles and of your paternal and maternal aunts... and any believing woman who gives herself to the Prophet... This privilege is yours alone, being granted to no other believer."

In another (extremely short) chapter - number 111, as ever "In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful," the Prophet gets word that his uncle, with whom he's had a dispute (the uncle, Abu-Lahab, apparently thought the Prophet was making it all up), is now under a curse. The entire text of chapter 111 reads:

"May the hands of Abu-Lahab perish. May he himself perish! Nothing shall his wealth and gains avail him. He shall be burnt in a flaming fire, and his wife, laden with faggots, shall have a rope around her neck!"
. . . . .

The first time I read the Koran was when I was in high-school, now quite some years ago. Recently it seemed appropriate to do so again, so I spent a few evenings once more with the Recitation (literal meaning of "Koran"), the governing volume of the hundreds of millions of persons who live within the sphere of Islam, a religion whose name means "submission." 

Unlike the Bible, you can get through the entire Koran in a reasonable amount of time, as it is only about the length of a moderate-sized novel - 435 pages in the translation I recently read (N. J. Dawood's 1956 work, revised in 1974). A few persons, incidentally, have claimed to have similarly read the Bible straight through, but one needs to be very skeptical of such boasts, since a little reflection (and actual experiment) will show how unlikely that is. Texts of this sort attract followers and rabid fanatics for this very reason, that they are so impenetrable in their dense mass. Not having read it and therefore feeling guilty about the failure to do so must constitute a powerful impulse to leap to the defense of things these followers do not actually know. At least with the Koran, comprehending the whole thing is a relatively trivial exercise.

Like the Book of Mormon, the Koran purports to be the further chronicles of what God wants you to do. It recognizes the existence of the Bible or Scriptures and Torah, and states as its reason for being, that the Christians and Jews have too far split into sects and had fallen away from proper observance of "God's" laws. Also like the Book of Mormon, this one is supposedly the transcript of a tablet preserved in heaven.

Allah didn't dictate the whole thing at once, though; more chapters came through as situations (such as Hafsah's investigative surveillance) made them necessary. There are 114 of these, generally arranged by length, with the shortest last. The longer chapters at the beginning of this arbitrary (and non-chronological) arrangement drag rather badly; Mohammed saves his deadliest rantings for the somewhat shorter ones. 

However, all chapters have in common the same type of basic presentation, which is comprised of three ingredients: stories, commands, and threats. Especially threats. All float and bubble to the surface again and again in a broth of astounding amounts of repetition.

For example, in one chapter, no. 55, which is something less than three pages long, the interrogation, "Which of your Lord's blessings would you deny?" is repeated 31 times, many of these being complete non sequitur, such as "Flames of fire shall be lashed at you, and molten brass. Which of your Lord's blessings would you deny?" Well, for a start, I'd want to deny that one. Other repetitions include the story of Noah with certain embellishments, about six or eight times, Pharaoh and Moses, maybe ten, Abraham, Joseph, et al, many more; Jonah, etc. and on and on here and there through the book.

Commands go forward at a blinding rate, thick and fast, too; and more about those in a moment, but first this word from the First Islamic Bank of Sadistic Threats: Mohammed can hardly write two consecutive paragraphs without at least one fairly horrifying promise that infidels, unbelievers, apostates, "People of the Book" (Christ-worshippers), fornicators and others are going to burn in hell, drink boiling water, eat putrid filth for all eternity, have melted metal poured all over them, roast their skins in blazing flame and then be provided immediately with more skin by his eminence, The Compassionate, the Merciful, so that they can be burned some more, and so forth. 

I had wanted to count the number of threats, but bogged down in what seemed like a never-ending mire, so I was forced to resort to a statistical method. By this I compute the total to be around 1200 to 1500, including such ones as these:

"Garments of fire have been prepared for the unbelievers. Scalding water shall be poured upon their heads, melting their skins and that which is in their bellies. They shall be lashed with rods of iron.Whenever, in their torment, they try to escape, back they shall be dragged, and will be told, 'Taste the torment!'

"Those who deny our revelations we will burn in fire. No sooner will their skins be consumed than we shall give them other skins, so that they may truly taste the scourge."
Atheists are to be crucified or else have their hands and feet cut off.

Incidentally, chapter 74 contains an interesting point: "Would that you knew what the Fire is like! It leaves nothing, it spares no one; it burns the skins of men. It is guarded by nineteen keepers."
. . . . . .

Commands a person would have to obey in order to avoid these demented tanning sessions range from lawful eating to lawful sexual practices to treating orphans properly. Slavery is permitted, in fact definitely cited approvingly, and a master is allowed to compel his slave-girl to have intercourse with him; but he is not allowed to prostitute her for money to others.

More commands order the faithful not to be friends with Christians or anybody else who is not Islamic, and especially not with unbelievers. The arguments of unbelievers should not be listened to. Their cities should be destroyed.

Women are not addressed in the Koran; the reader is explicitly and implicitly male. 

Women are indeed spoken of, but not to, and they are stated to be inferior and subservient. Girl infants are not lawful to kill, but otherwise it is definitely to be mourned when one is born instead of a son.

Conception is stated (several times) to take place when ejaculated semen turns into a clot of blood that Allah makes into a human being inside the mere vessel, the female. 

Other scientific thought has the sky as an actual dome, perfect as there are no cracks. The far western setting place of the sun is a pool of mud.

Mohammed thinks there are two seas on the planet, and lightning is a sign from God.

Sometimes he purrs and chuckles: "How many cities have we laid in ruin! In the night our scourge fell upon them, or at midday when they were drowsing."

Sometimes he is apocalyptic: "On that day there shall be faces veiled with darkness, covered with dust. These shall be the faces of the wicked and the unbelieving."

But always he is monstrous and insane. His recitation is one of gross, turgid evil, and the impact of his "Koran" upon Arab culture and the world has been profoundly, unrelievedly bad.

It is not accurate to speak of "fundamentalist Islam"; there is either the Islam that is founded upon this book, the Koran, or there is something else, some other religion, which has nothing to do with this book at all. In any case, THIS recitation, by Mohammed, of "God's" alleged speeches and edicts, leaves absolutely no room for any latitude, any "interpretation," any individual opinions at all. It eradicates, indeed, any trace of free will and only proffers to male fanatics several hundred paragraphs cajoling them to follow orders so that after death they will live endlessly in "gardens watered by running streams" where dark-eyed, explicitly "high bosomed" "virgins" will have sexual relations with them throughout infinity on green silken cushions and lush carpets. The repetition constitutes a pretty good technique of hypnosis; the threats drive home the consequences of disobedience, and the commands are those of an ignorant, insane priesthood operating as the heirs to a lunatic's pretensions to speak for a nonexistent "god."

We have witnessed the result. 

Do yourself a favor and order a copy of THE MATCH! It's free, and can only be had by mail. No website. No phone number. You have to write Fred and ask for one:

Post Office Box 3012
Tucson, Arizona 85702