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American Atheists

is a nonprofit, nonpolitical, educational organization dedicated to the


complete and absolute separation of
state and church, accepting the explanation of Thomas Jefferson that the
First Amendment to the Constitution
of the United States was meant to
create a "wall of separation" between
state and church.
American Atheists is organized
to stimulate and promote freedom of thought and inquiry concerning religious beliefs, creeds, dogmas,
tenets, rituals, and practices;
to collect and disseminate information, data, and literature on all religions and promote a more thorough
understanding of them, their origins,
and their histories;
to advocate, labor for, and promote in all lawful ways the complete
and absolute separation of state and
church;
to act as a "watch dog" to challenge any attempted breach of the
wall of separatrion between state and
church;
to advocate, labor for, and promote in all lawful ways the establishment and maintenance of a thoroughly
secular system of education available
to all;

to encourage the development


and public acceptance of a humane
ethical system stressing the mutual
sympathy, understanding, and interdependence of all people and the
corresponding responsibility of each
individual in relation to society;
to develop and propagate a
social philosophy in which humankind is central and must itself be the
source of strength, progress, and ideals for the well-being and happiness of
humanity;
to promote the study of the
arts and sciences and of all problems
affecting the maintenance, perpetuation, and enrichment of human (and
other) life; and
to engage in such social, educational, legal, and cultural activity
as will be useful and beneficial to
members of American Atheists and to
society as a whole.
Atheism is the Weltanschauung
(comprehensive
conception of the
world) of persons who are free from
theism - i.e., free from
religion.
It is predicated on ancient Greek
Materialism.
Atheism involves the mental
attitude which unreservedly accepts
the supremacy of reason and aims at
establishing a life-style and ethical

outlook verifiable by experience and


the scientific method, independent of
all arbitrary assumptions of authority
and creeds. An Atheist is free of belief
in supernatural entities of all kinds.
Materialism declares that the cosmos is devoid of immanent conscious
purpose; that it is governed by its own
inherent, immutable, and impersonal
laws; that there is no supernatural interference in human life; that
humankind - finding their resources
within themselves - can and must
create their own destiny. Materialism
restores
dignity
and intellectual
integrity to humanity. It teaches that
we must prize our life on earth and
strive always to improve it. It holds
that humans are capable of creating
a social system based on reason and
justice. Materialism's
"faith" is in
humankind and their ability to transform the world culture by their own
efforts. This is a commitment which
is in its very essence life-asserting. It
considers the struggle for progress as
a moral obligation that is impossible
without noble ideas that inspire us
to bold, creative works. Materialism
holds that our potential for good and
more fulfilling cultural development
is, for all practical purposes, unlimited.

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American Atheist
Volume 43 Number
2
EDITOR / MANAGING EDITOR
Frank R. Zindler
ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Ann E. Zindler
CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
Conrad F. Goeringer
BUSINESS MANAGER
Ellen Johnson
The American Atheist is published by
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Parsippany, New Jersey

Spring 2005

Page 1

American Atheist
A Journal

Spring 2005

of Atheist News and Thought

EDITOR'S DESK
Enlightenment Eclipsed?
Frank R. Zindler
Terri Schiavo's death with indignity, a pope's death with absurdity,
media take-over by the Vatican, a U.S. president and congress trying to
force judges to impose a belief in souls and spirits upon all Americans
and abolish the principle of separation of state and church - all this
amounts to an Atheist's call to action.

5
Cover Art:

"Pope John
Paul II: An Inhuman Legacy," by
Keith McCaffety. The evil this
man did lives on in the world's
population explosion, the failure
to control the AIDS epidemic,
the suppression of life-saving
stem cell and cloning research,
outlawing of euthanasia, widespread compulsion of pregnancy, rampant famine, starvation,
religious wars, superstition, and
hostility to secularism and the
scientific outlook.

10
11
14

The Front Steps of the Capitol


Susan Harrington
Idaho Atheists got the drop on the purveyors of the 'National Day of
Prayer.' Despite the opposition of religionists from the governor on down,
Atheist defenders of the 'Wall of Separation Between State and Church'
were able to rally on the front steps of the Capitol while the prayer pushers had to beseech the empty air from a less desirable side entrance to
the building.

Letter from James Buchanan


A future president of the United States writes to Jacob L. Martin
concerning the position of Charge d'Affaires to the Papal States.

Culture of Life, or Culture of Death?


Frank R. Zindler
Because Pope John Paul II believed in the reality of souls and spirits,
he was moved to champion anti-life policies that make Adolf Hitler look like
a humanitarian. Critical examination of the dead pope's life and 'legacy'
shows his much-vaunted 'culture of life' is in fact not just a culture of death,
but a death cult.

Weighing the Soul

The Pope's Most Fallible Brain -

Or Soul?

Volume 43, No.2


Page 2

Spring

2005

American Atheist

A 'Zinger for Opus Dei


Frank R. Zindler

Ratzi
the Nazi

Joseph Ratzinger, the new Pope Benedict XVI, is the world's authority
on the reality of Satan and demons and is arguably the greatest eighthcentury thinker alive today. Almost certainly a Fascist since his days in
the Hitler Jugend, his election was a triumph of the secret Catholic cult
known as Opus Dei - 'God's Work.'

Of Bones and Boners: Saint Peter At the Vatican


Frank R. Zindler
All 'modern popes' from Pius XII onward have claimed the bones of Saint Peter
(allegedly the first-ever pope) are to be found in a crypt 20 feet below the high altar
in St. Peter's Basilica. In fact, faithful Catholics who 'venerate' these bones are
actually worshipping the remains of two men and a woman, chickens, swine, and a
mouse.

Spirits, Souls, and Clones: Biology's latest


Challenge To Theology
Frank R. Zindrer
The evil that popes do derives in large part from their belief in
the reality of spirits and souls. They oppose stem cell research and
cloning because this branch of science has reduced their theological
reasoning to a risible absurdity.

Split-Soul Soup

What Is Death?
Frank R. Zindler
The death of Terri Schiavo and the parallel demise of Pope
John Paul II make it seem useful to reexamine the nature of death
and dying and, indeed, the nature of the human person, as was
discussed in this journal 20 years ago.

Of Man and His Soul


Alfred Bahr
A German physicist dissects the soul concept and demonstrates that it
not only is biologically and evolutionarily meaningless, it is philosophically
incoherent as well.

MY TURNI
Culture of Life?
Jay Werbinox Taylor
Pope Leo I
Weighs in on the Papacy
Gary Sloan

Parsippany, New Jersey

6
Spring 2005

Poetry

Page 3

Editor's Desk

Enlightenment
Eclipsed?
ensory
overload. Television
images saturating
the sensorium round-the-clock with
grotesque images of a brain-damaged woman and a decaying pope.
Newspapers and magazines assaulting the intellect with propaganda
pushing a 'culture of life' that is
actually a culture of death. Displays
of the brain-damaged woman being
repeated for the thousandth time.
A bold and shocking attempt by
the United States Congress and
the occupant of the Oval Office to
destroy the judicial branch of government and impose the will of the
dying pope upon citizens of the USA.
More displays of the brain-damaged
woman. Euthanasia not an option
even to be discussed, an unconscious
woman starving and thirsting to
death. Brief notice that when the
pope dies, he will be hit on the head
three times with a silver hammer
and, if unresponsive to the calling of
his baptismal name, he will be considered dead. All communications
media being cranked to maximum
volume and converted into bully propaganda organs for the advancement
of the Dark-Age ideals of a nowdefunct pope. Notices that the pope
was called thrice by his baptismal
name to be sure he was dead, with
no mention of the silver hammer.
More notices with the same omission. Legislators vowing to make
permanent their assault upon the
judiciary, and religious leaders competing to capture for Christ the third
branch of government - effecting a
clean sweep for superstition of all
three branches of our government.

Two former presidents and the


present claimant to the highest
office of our country kneeling and
idolizing the unembalmed body of
a dead shaman. The flag outside the
office building of a scientific society
chartered by Congress flying at halfstaff by order of George W. Bush surrendering the First Amendment
to the First Commandment. Five
million mourners flocking like lobotomized sheep to share in the heapbig-medicine emanating from the
cadaver of the greatest eighth-century thinker ever to live in the twentieth century. Cardinals in gaudy
dresses shaking their aspergillums
to sprinkle his dead body with 'holy
water' and looking for all the world
like Papuan witch doctors shaking their magic rattles. Television
announcers and politicians referring
to "the Holy Father" instead of the
pope. Prayer, prayer, everywhere
prayer. Otherwise sane people invoking the aid of a power that cannot be
detected by any method known to
science.
I am stunned. I am appalled. I am
nauseated, and my sickened stomach
heaves after each new contra-rational
television propaganda broadside and
each new printed piety.
Have the Dark Ages returned? Is
America now to return to that time
of magic, superstition, poverty, and
physical and intellectual slavery?
Is America now to surrender to the
men behind the curtains and accept
the failure of reality-testing that is
necessary to maintain religious ideation? Is the Enlightenment merely
in eclipse, or is it being replaced by

an Endarkening that may endure to


the end of human time?
I do not know the answers to
these questions, but I do know that
for Atheists and for all who would
remain free in their mind and person
the hour is late and the window of
opportunity is shrinking - the space
in which effective actions can yet be
carried out to beat back this baleful,
barbarian barrage.
Freethinkers of all persuasions
dare not delay in contributing their
talents, efforts, and resources to
this struggle against the Dark Ages.
This is a struggle for the survival of
civilization itself. American Atheists
needs help and it needs money now
as never before in its history. As this
organization joins with other likeminded organizations to fight what
could very well be the last battle
in the history of liberty, I hope my
readers will be quick to respond and
I hope they will be generous - both
in their time and in their financial
assistance. While American Atheists
needs a lot of money to fight the
Goliath of State Religiosity, it
needs also for all its members and
allies to scout out the movements
and aggressions of this malignant
monster as it ravages our land and
exports its mental servitude to the
rest of the world. We need our readers to monitor this Leviathan and
report to us all its efforts to undo the
First Amendment and its guarantee
of freedom from religion.
Think globally and act locally.
Eternal vigilance is the price of
liberty. Keep active - and keep us
informed.

$,

Frank R. Zindler
Page 4

Spring 2005

American Atheist

FRONT
STEPS

OF THE
CAPITOL
By Susan Harrington

his story starts out familiar


enough,
with
government
officials unabashedly ignoring
the First Amendment to endorse and
promote religion in the spotlight of
the public eye. However, this story
has an unexpected beginning and a
surprisingly refreshing ending.
On an otherwise uneventful dab'
in February of 2005 - February st
- I was walking past our Idaho State
Capitol building. I was on my lunch
hour and heading to the downtown

Susan Harrington has been


Idaho State Director for American Atheists since 1998. She also
helped to found Idaho Atheists
and has been involved with that
group since its inception. Susan
grew up in North Idaho, has a
Bachelors
degree from Boise
State University and a Master's
degree from the University
of
Idaho. She works in the field of
\\\%.\)\\~\\\%.\\~~'(\\\\\. ~~\~\\~~ ~\\.\\.cation. She currently
lives in
Southwest Idaho with her husband and two children.

Parsippany, New Jersey

Post Office, to check our American


Atheist mailbox. As American Atheists
Idaho State Director, I'd done this
hundreds of times before over the past
several years. However, this day was
different. At the time I was walking
past the Capitol building, looking at
the front steps, I was thinking about
this upcomin~ first Thursday
in
May - May 5t - when I presumed
our Governor would once again
be promoting religion, in the most
symbolically prominent place in the
state. Specifically, he once again would
be endorsing the religious practice of
prayer by personally attending and
issuing an official National Day of
Prayer proclamation on the front steps
of our Idaho State Capitol building.
Over the past several years, I had
written to our Governor, Governor
Kempthorne, numerous times telling
him that such actions endorsing
religion were unconstitutional. I had
asked him to stop, time and time
again. I had even gone in person to
these government-entangled
religious
events on a number on occasions to
introduce myself and tell him face\.\\-\.'U.~~\.\\'U.\.\\\.~ 'U.~\.\.\\\\~~ ~"t~ ~"t\\"\.l.'>b.
At the moment when I walked past
the front steps on that February day, I
was dreading the thought of having to
write yet another letter and go there

Spring 2005

once again to tell him in person that


his tradition of endorsing religion was
wrong and prejudiced the image of
Atheists in the eyes of the public. It
was an unconstitutional tradition.
To put my frame of mind in
context, at one point, many years
previous, the Governor's
attorney
wrote to me that as long as the
Governor didn't favor religion over
non-religion, he could endorse these
religious events. That was in 1999
and that's when I began writing and
asking for Atheist proclamations. Of
course, with only so much time and
energy available, my primary goal was
to stop the government endorsement of
religion and not to look for reasons to
create new events, but I thought this
'equal access' approach was worth a
try. So for six years I tried - I wrote
to the Governor and told him that if he
wasn't going to stop issuing religious
proclamations, then he should issue
Atheist
proclamations.
However,
while the Governor continued
to
issue religious, primarily Christian,
proclamations, he repeatedly refused
to issue Atheist proclamations.
He
'>b(\'1~~'1(\'t,\,'1~ ~'i..I:.\)''t,~'t,'<m.(\.'1'a.1:\.C\\).'t,bw~>u.'t,

reasons. Other community members


and members of our affiliated state
organization, Idaho Atheists, including
the Idaho Atheists President, had also
Page 5

written to him. We tried and tried to


get him to understand our perspective,
our concerns, and our issues. Near the
end of January 2005, we'd received yet
another rejection letter to our latest
request. The result of this six years of
effort, since the day of our Governor's
first inauguration, was a track record
of clear government discrimination on
the basis of religion.
So, this history and on-going effort
set the tone for my frame of mind that
February day. I remember wishing
that there were some way
to change this tradition of
discrimination, some way to
break the cycle of oppression
against Atheists, some way to
stop him from using his office
and his government title to
promote theism in the spotlight
and, in effect, perpetuate the
public's perceived second-class
citizenship of Atheists. The
psychology of oppression and
search for effective strategies
to protect and uphold Atheist
civil rights in America are
interesting. Our Idaho Atheist
e-mail discussion
list had
recently had a lengthy debate
involving
some
members
wanting to 'soften' our name
by calling ourselves something
other than what we were,
arguing that this would get
us further in the end. Most
of our members were afraid
to speak out as Atheists to
defend their rights, or even to
call themselves Atheists. The
reality of this fear only made
me more determined than ever
to stay on course - to be proud
to be an Atheist - to use the
name as often as possible and
to try to make a difference.
And then
it happened.
The
thought crossed my mind. The thought
was that maybe the front steps of the

Capitol building hadn't been reserved


yet for that first Thursday in May. I
thought that if they hadn't, then we
could reserve them for an Atheist event
and stop a tradition of discrimination
against Atheists by our Governor on
those front steps every May. I called
State Facilities and was excited to
find out the front steps had not been
Page 6

reserved, and so I immediately headed


over to the State Facilities offices to
submit the required paperwork in
person. When I hand-delivered
the
reservation form, I told the scheduler
that the day I wanted to reserve was
usually reserved for the National Day
of Prayer event. The scheduler said
something to the effect, "It's first come,
first served. You're first and I'm just
doing my job." He assured me that we
had the steps, no matter what - and
another scheduler approved and filed

our reservation
request. I was so
excited that we would finally have
a real chance of our message being
heard and not ignored!
That was February 8th. After that
I began to work through the logistics
for the rally, such as what to officially
call the event, what speakers to invite,
what the design of the flyer should be
to capture the essence of our message,
and how to best focus the public's
attention to our issues. I thought we

Spring 2005

could have an Atheist rally to celebrate


the rights and freedoms of individuals,
including
the important
right of
freedom from religion. I envisioned
our local Idaho Atheists having a great
time, making our statements regarding
a government neutral to religion, and
NOT having to once again be subjected
to being second class citizens while our
Governor endorsed the National Day
of Prayer event in the spotlight on
the front steps of our Capitol building.
Atheists would be on those front steps
the first Thursday in May
and we would be demanding
equal rights and equal treatment by our government
officials! We would be front
and center, calling on our
Governor, as the top elected
official in our state, to set
a standard of inclusiveness
for all citizens in the state,
religious and non-religious,
by being neutral with respect
to religion. This would be
one day of Atheist equality,
and hopefully the beginning
of a public awareness and
discussion
regarding
the
necessity
of government
neutrality toward religion.
Nearly two months went
by when, near the end of
March, I received a telephone
call from an organizer of the
National Day of Prayer event.
He left a voice mail message
saying that they were going
to have their event inside
the Capitol this year since
we were going to be outside
on the front steps. He said
he was concerned that people
might come through our area
to get to the inside. I returned
his call and said that it would
be fine for the National Day of Prayer
people to come through our area as long
as they were through by noon, when
our event was set to begin. He called
and left a second message explicitly
saying, "We messed up this year by
not getting our paperwork in prior to
the time when you did." I could tell he
wasn't happy about the situation set to
happen on the coming day in May, but
I thought about how Atheists weren't
happy nearly every day when our
American Atheist

government officials promote theism


at the expense of Atheist citizens. The
written guidelines explicitly stated
that it was a 'first-come, first-reserved'
policy.
Now, imagine the surprise when
early in April, the State Facilities
Manager, Tim Mason, called to say
that there was a conflict. He told me
we would have to relocate our event.
Various excuses were given from
the National Day of Prayer being a
"recurring event" with a "recurring
reservation" - and thus
having priority - to a
scheduler "oversight,"
to "internal problems
with our computer's
calendar
program,"
etc., etc. Although
there was no mention
anywhere
of such
"recurring
event"
priority in the published
guidelines,
Facilities
Services
suggested our group
move our event to the
side of the building,
on the east steps. I
thought this sounded
a bit like telling
Rosa Parks she had
to go sit in the back
of the bus. The state was essentially
telling us Atheists that we would
have to move to the side steps, like
second-class citizens, to make room for
the religious 'government-preferred'
citizens on the front steps! Here we
had followed the procedures, were first
with our reservation, and were trying
to make a statement at a specific time
and place in order to end a tradition
of discrimination
against Atheists,
and this latest development certainly
added insult to injury.
From here on out things happened
very quickly. I asked numerous
procedural questions of the State
Facilities Manager
and requested
that he provide his answers on state
letterhead. Then I immediately wrote
a letter to the Governor asking for him
to intervene on our behalf (it never
hurts to ask, right?) and sent a copy
to the State Facilities Manager so that
he'd know how serious we were taking
this. I also invited the Governor to
Parsippany, New Jersey

our event (again, it never hurts to


ask, right?). In mid-April, I received
replies from both of them saying that
we Atheists would have to move our
event (and it wasn't really a surprise
that the Governor's reply said he
would be unavailable to attend our
Atheists event). This is when a huge
decision had to be made regarding
the next step. How should we fight
this? Should we go public? Should
we hire an attorney? It's one thing to
write letters to government officials,

it's another thing to go public or file


suit against
government
officials.
American Atheists support for our
efforts here in Idaho never wavered
from the beginning, and they offered
to pay legal expenses for us should we
choose that route.
Exposing oneself as an Atheist
searching for equal treatment in a
world which so commonly accepts
unequal treatment of Atheists, is not
necessarily going to bring sympathy
from anyone or. result in justice from
the court. At any rate, we proceeded
as fast as we could with writing a
press release and notifying the media,
identifying attorneys interested in the
case, and compiling the documentation
and paperwork. I went to the State
Facility Services offices and requested
documentation
from current
and
previous year reservations. I was given
a copy of our reservation date-stamped
"approved" on February 8, 2005 and a
copy of the National Day of Prayer

Spring 2005

reservation date-stamped "approved"


on March 24, 2005. Clearly, we were
first. The National Day of Prayer
reservation showed that that event
had been moved from the outside
front steps to inside the building. This
matched with what the National Day
of Prayer organizer had said in his
phone message. I also asked for and
was given copies of the previous four
years of the National Day of Prayer
reservations.
Interestingly
enough,
these previous
reservations
were
made
by different
people on different
days and for different
start/stop times. This
certainly
deflated
their
"computer
glitch"
argument
since you would think
a calendar program
would
have
been
consistent! I compiled
this
documentation
with all of the other
paperwork, documentation,
and
letters
from the beginning of
the ordeal.
Finding an Idaho
attorney to take the
case took quite a lot
of effort and many,
many phone calls. Although there was
some interest in the case, and there
was a rumor that the Governor was
directly involved in pulling strings, I
must have called over thirty, including
those in the yellow pages and those
suggested by 'friends of friends'! When
I finally found one willing to be our
local counsel on Thursday, April 28th,
and file the necessary paperwork,
American Atheists President
Ellen
Johnson hired him. She also identified
and hired a Minnesota attorney to
be our lead attorney, which meant
writing the request for a temporary
restraining order to prevent the state
from taking the front steps away from
us. In addition, if we were granted
a hearing, our lead attorney would
give oral arguments in front of the
judge. On Monday, May 2nd, Randall
D.B. Tigue, Esq., our Lead Counsel,
and Bernard Daley Zaleha, J.D., our
local, Idaho Counsel, filed the legal
paperwork. The complaint filed was
Page 7

officially titled: Idaho Atheists, Inc. and Susan Harrington


vs. State Facilities Manager Tim Mason and Governor Dirk
Kempthorne. This was three days before the event was to
take place. The next day, the judge set a hearing for 3 pm on
May 4th, one day before the event.
At the hearing, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill
began by stating that he had read the documentation and
then voicing a number of concerns. He requested that counsel
from each side address his concerns. Our lead counsel hit

the ground running, addressing every concern of the judge


directly and succinctly. He was prepared and articulate. He
was amazing! In contrast, the attorney from the Attorney
General's office, with an attorney from the Governor's office
in attendance, could not effectively address the judge's
concerns. He seemed nervous, only had one affidavit from
the State Facilities Manager as documentation while we
had a stack of documentation, and he simply had nothing to
back up the State's argument. The judge, after considering
all that was presented, ruled from the bench in our favor
at 4 pm right then and there. He later put his decision in
writing. We had come down to wire as the rally would be the
very next day at noon! But we were ready!!
American Atheists had previously helped me write
a press release and had sent it out to numerous media
contacts for us. In addition, they had mailed signs and
banners to us for the event, including a "Separation of State
and Church" banner and "One Nation, Indivisible" and "One
Nation under the Constitution" signs. Idaho Atheists had its
banner ready as well and was also ready to provide music,
a photographer, and someone to videotape the event. I had
invited various speakers to come to the rally and speak on
our behalf and with regard to our issue. These speakers
were from a diverse mix of supportive organizations, both
religious and non-religious, but all interested in civil rights
and government religious neutrality. The common message
that .everyone agreed upon was that government must be
neutral with respect to religion, so that all citizens could be
treated fairly. This was about equal rights for Atheists, and
for all Americans, regardless of religious opinion. American
Atheists sent a representative, Director of Regional and
State Operations, Bart Meltzer, to speak. We even had an
active area 'Foxhole Atheist,' currently serving in Iraq, send
Page 8

a letter for me to read to the crowd! We indeed were ready


to make a statement.
The day of the event, a light rain sprinkled periodically.
The headline in huge font in the Idaho Statesman read,
"Judge: Atheists, not prayer group, get Capitol steps for
rally today" and the subtitle read, "For now at least, state's
first-come, first-served policy still stands." Our banners and
flags waved triumphantly on those front steps of our Idaho
Capitol building. We had about 75 people in attendance
during the noon hour on that first Thursday in May. In
between and during the short speeches, we occasionally
rang the resident Liberty Bell replica. Everything went
smoothly, and a state trooper even took it upon himself
to have a few words with a couple of religious folks who
he thought were going to try to disrupt our event. One TV
station aired part of my speech, "This is just as much our
nation as anyone else's. And we need to make sure that our
right not to believe in gods is not abused or ignored. We need
to make sure that the tyranny of the majority, or the abuse
of power of those in power, does not trump the rights of the
minority." I was so thrilled to be a part of what felt like a
historic event.
The news media oscillated between us and the National
Day of Prayer event, which had now been moved around
the corner of the building to the west steps. There were
about 300 at the National Day of Prayer event on the side
steps, more than usual, including more politicians than
usual. Not only was our current Governor in attendance,
but also a previous Governor of Idaho, the Mayors of Boise
and neighboring Nampa, an Idaho Supreme Court Justice,
and the National Guard color guard. The government bias
was obvious and I made sure to point this out during media
interviews. Irrelevantly, in the Governor's press release,
he stated that, "Nothing can prevent us from practicing
our faith. The Constitution guarantees us that freedom.
It's freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. The
Constitution never meant to prevent prayer, but to protect
it." It's ironic that he refused to address the real issue at
stake: the respecting and protecting of Atheists' rights,
including government neutrality toward religion and equal
treatment of Atheists by government officials.
Overall, the media coverage was good (and fair) and
the feedback I have received from friends and strangers
alike has overwhelmingly positive. This affirmed that what
we did was right. We have been congratulated by people
I don't even know. A few religious people have criticized
us and called our effort "childish" and "idiotic." One of
these religious zealots even had the audacity to compare
our scheduling of the front steps to the Aryan Nations (a
neo-Nazi, Christian organization - although no one ever
mentions the 'Christian' connection) scheduling an event on
Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And, speaking of Martin Luther
King Jr., or any other civil rights or women's rights activists
such as Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton, I
wonder if those opposed to their causes ever called their
marches in the streets "childish" or "idiotic" as a way to
undermine their effectiveness. Probably so, and yet they
were necessary and effective.
I guess, in the end, we all must do what we can do, no
matter how small it seems at the time and no matter how

Spring 2005

American Atheist

afraid we might be to take action, and


then follow it through. With the help
and collaboration
of organizations
such as American Atheists and our
affiliate, Idaho Atheists,
as well
as a network of other community
organizations
and individuals,
we
have the support systems we need to
take the action that is so necessary.
I can't thank these organizations
enough nor commend sincerely enough
the people who continue to amaze me
with their activism. In the end, our
individual passion and conviction and
willingness to persevere will - with
the help of coordinated organizational
efforts - make a difference and make
the world a better place. The ongoing
subtle and overt religious harassment
by our government officials must end.
Thanks especially to American
Atheist President Ellen Johnson and
American Atheists Director of State
and Regional Operations Bart Meltzer
and to Idaho Atheists President Lori
Howard, a very important stand was
made this May 2005. There were many
people involved, but these people were
especially supportive throughout the
entire situation. It's nice to know that
there are people you can count on
during stressful times. We didn't back
down, and we won .

.$

An Atheist
Epic
Madalyn Murray
O'Hair
The
complete
story of how Bible
and forced prayers
were removed from the public schools of
the United States.
The founder of American Atheists tells
the story of what she and her two sons
endured at the hands of the good Christian
citizens of Baltimore when she liberated for
a while the public schools of America from
the grip of the Cold-War theofascists who
gave us "In God We Trust" and "One Nation
Under God." Every Atheist and civil libertar- ian - unless they suffer from hypertension
- should read this book, now reprinted for
the first time since 1989.

Paperback

ISBN 0-910309-89-2

Stock# 5376
Parsippany, New Jersey

Letter from James Buchanan, future president of the United


States, to Jacob L. Martin, concerning the position of Charge
d'Mfaires to the Papal States.
At the time of writing, the Vatican controlled a major territory in the Italian
peninsula and was an actual country. Pius IX ('Pio Nono') became notorious
for his Syllabus of Errors, which condemned all the principles of 'Modernism,'
including the proposition that "the church should be separate from the state."

Department of State
Washington, 5th April, I848
Jacob L. Martin, Esqre.,
Sir:
Informal intimations had reached the Department
from different
quarters, that Pope Pius IX. would be pleased to open diplomatic relations with this Government: and the president Domes K. Polk] did not
hesitate, upon my suggestion, to recommend to Congress, in his annual
message of December last, to provide for the outfit and salary of a Charge
d'Affaires to the Papal States. Hence the origin of your highly honorable
and important mission.
There is one consideration which you ought always to keep in view in
your intercourse with the Papal authorities. Most if not all the Governments
which have Diplomatic Representatives at Rome are connected with the
Pope as the head of the Catholic Church. In this respect the Government
of the United States occupies an entirely different position. It possesses
no power whatever over the question of religion. All denominations of
Christians stand on the same footing in this country, - and every man
enjoys the inestimable right of worshipping his God according to the
dictates of his own conscience. Your efforts, therefore, will be devoted
exclusively to the cultivation of the most friendly civil relations with the
Papal Government, and to the extension of the commerce between the
two countries. You will carefully avoid even the appearance of interfering
in ecclesiastical questions, whether these relate to the United States or
any other portion of the world. It might be proper; should you deem it
advisable, to make these views known, on some suitable occasion, to the
Papal Government; so that there may be no mistake or misunderstanding
on this subject ....
Our direct relations with the Papal States can only be of a commercial
character. ...
I am, Sir; respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
James Buchanan

$18.00
Spring 2005

Page 9

ClIltllfe of Eife
or
ClIltllfe of DeatH?
Frank R. Zindler

II for having bloodlessly brought down the Soviet Union


- without mentioning the role of Mikhail Gorbachev in the
affair and tacitly assuming that the overthrow of a governistory ultimately is written by the victors. ~ven
ment without a god was goodness unalloyed.
so, interim reports by the losers often survive long
When Hitler died, he too might have been accorded a
enough to allow one to reconstruct a picture of the
funeral in St. Peter's Basilica, or the pope might have come
probable facts of a given struggle. If Adolf Hitler had been
to Berlin to preside over his requiem and obsequies. Hitler's
victorious against the 'godless communists' and the secupronatalist policies - ridiculed in the West in the joke that
lar Americans,
it
every time a German
cannot be doubted
baby
was
born,
" .just as Hitler would have been extolled as
that when he died
Hitler would exclaim
a 'pro-life hero' had he been successfulin his "Hotsie-Totsie!
at
an
advanced
age he would have
career - even though in fact he was profoundly Another Nazi!"
been loudly lauded
would
have
been
anti-life - so too the late pope is being praised extolled as 'reverence
by
the
Catholic
Church - not just
for his 'culture of life,' even though his every for life,' and 'respectby the Bavarian and
ing the sanctity
of
action has redounded to the renunciation of life.' Hitler would
Croatian
bishops
who advanced his
have been enshrined
life and a welcoming embrace of death."
cause
so aggresin the propaganda
sively during
his
pantheon
as a hero
actual lifetime, but doubtless also by a German pope whom
in the 'culture of life' for his outlawing of abortion - even
he would have been able to set upon the Chair of Peter. The
though we the victors know how profoundly anti-life Hitler
pope would have hailed Hitler as the greatest-ever Defender
actually was and the extent to which his deeds redounded
of the Faith. He would have eulogized Him for his triumph
to a culture of death.
over unbelief, communism, and creeping secularism, just as
Not surprisingly, Hitler's Catholic, pronatalist policies
the news media recently praised the late Pope John Paul
would also have ensured that there would be millions of
people to flock to his funeral, just as in the recent case of
John Paul II, where up to five million mourners are reported
Frank R. Zindler is the editor
to have converged upon Rome "to say good-bye to the Holy
of American Atheist Press. For
Father."
many years he was a professor
Hitler's destruction of the Jews - if revealed at all pubof biology and geology at Fultonlicly
- could easily have been justified theologically by the
Montgomery Community Colwell-known
biblical 'fact' that the Jews were 'Christ killers'
lege, a branch of SUNY. His
who
still
rejected
his salvation. Out of consideration for the
most recent book is The Jesus
Blessed
Virgin
Mary
whose son they had murdered, they
the Jews Never Knew, a defense
had needed to be punished.
of the theory that Jesus never
Just as we have been assaulted by inane chatter about
existed as an historical figure.
probable fast-track canonization of Karol Wojtyla (a.k.a.,
The book is available on the
Pope John Paul II) , it cannot be doubted that had Hitler
American
Atheist
Web-site,
succeeded in his pr~grams he would have been Saint Adolf
<www.atheists.org>. He receives
not
long after his natural death. (His apparently life-long
e-mail at: <editor@atheists.org>.
celibacy and unfulfilled homosexual tendencies would have

Page 10

Spring 2005

American Atheist

made him a perfect saint in any ecclesiastical era.)


Alert readers by now will have
perceived the purpose of this thought
experiment and will have inferred the
intent of this essay. They will understand that I seek to show that just as
Hitler would have been extolled as a
'pro-life hero' had he been successful in
his career - even though in fact he was
profoundly anti-life - so too the late
pope is being praised for his 'culture of
life,' even though his every action has
redounded toe-the- renunciation of' life
and a welcoming embrace of death.

Bodies and Souls


Nearly all the evil effects resulting
from the advancement of Christianity
in general and the career of Karol
Wojtyla in particular can be traced
to the pre scientific notion that there
are two parts to every person: a body
and a soul. The body is ephemeral
and perishable; the soul is eternal and
immortal. The soul is entrapped by the
flesh, and the needs and desires of the
flesh must be resisted and rejected if
they endanger the imagined future of
the soul. The value of the soul is inestimable; the value of the body is modest
- if not an actual liability that is negative in value in some cases. Because
of Wojtyla's beliefs in the reality of
souls and his after-life orientation, he
fostered not only simple disinterest in
the world of reality but promoted compound disinterest as well.

Death Is Better Than Life


Thus, death is valued more than
life, and all life's actions are evaluated
in terms of their impact on the afterlife - that is, upon what is thought
to happen when one's body is dead.
Seen in this light, Christianity and
its most public protagonist John Paul
II can be seen as advocating a culture
of death and rejecting a culture of life
in any qualitatively meaningful sense
of the phrase. Christianity is not just a
culture of death, it is a death cult. Its
'culture of life' is actually a culture of
afterlife - which even believers concede has death as a prerequisite.
Let us examine some specific cases
where the pope's culture of death has

Parsippany,

New Jersey

served to degrade and demean


lives of millions of human beings.

Pronatalist Policies

the

Sterilization
appears to be outlawed also for violating the be-fruitful-and-multiply clause ofthe Catholic
Constitution. However, I suspect that
the doctrine of souls lies behind both
the prohibition of contraception and
sterilization. I think the real reason

Like his predecessors since the


nineteenth-century
discovery of the
human egg and
zygote,
Karol
"The single-celled zygote has a soul; the
Wojtyla
could
woman has a soul. All souls are equal.
not follow the
discoveries
of The single cell morally is equal to the
science to their
mature woman. A woman is no more
logical
eonclusions. Because he important than a single cell."
believed in the
existence of an immortal human soul,
orthodox Catholics are one hundred
he could not accept the entirely matepercent pro-procreation is the same as
rialistic philosophy that is the basis of
that of many Mormons: they believe
science. Whereas science provides no
that there is a vast army of souls hov.reason to suppose such an ectoplasmic
ering about us in a spirit world and
entity exists and has no need for souls
that these souls are seeking bodies to
whatsoever, popes and the faithful
inhabit and possess. Good Mormons
sheep who follow them must suppose
and good Catholics alike should prothat somewhere in the nucleus or
vide housing for these homeless souls.
endoplasmic reticulum of the fertilKarol Wojtyla opposed abortion
ized egg (zygote) there resides a soul
wherever he went and never missed
which - as the single cell multiplies by
an opportunity to inveigh against the
division to form first an embryo, then
practice - even if it were needed to
a fetus, and finally a baby - transmisave a woman's life. In 1994 when the
grates from cell to cell and organ to
United Nations population conference
organ to fill the final product and keep
was held in Cairo, he insisted their
it a human being. It follows that there
report should state that "In no case
can be single-celled persons as well as
should abortion be promoted as a
multicellular ones.
method of family planning." As far as I
Because of his irrational belief in
can tell, until the day he died Wojtyla
the existence of single-celled people,
believed that acorns were oak trees.
Wojtyla could not allow the use of the
What was the impact and legacy of
morning-after pill - even to save the
all these pronatalist policies pushed by
life of a woman who might not be well
the pope? His opposition to birth control
enough to survive a pregnancy. The
and pressuring of the United nations
single-celled zygote has a soul; the
and the United States to prohibit it
woman has a soul. All souls are equal.
- even though only partly successful
The single cell morally is equal to the
- has had the primary effect of causing
mature woman. A woman is no more
overpopulation throughout the world.
important than a single cell. No soul
His lobbying against sterilization and
may be 'murdered' on behalf of another
abortion have had the same effect.
- even though souls supposedly are
Even though Catholics comprise only
immortal and can't be killed.
around three percent of the population
Contraception too is illegal in the
of India, the threats of Indian bishops
official Roman Catholic set of rules,
to induce a cut-off of American aid to
although its prohibition is more difIndia jf it pursued too aggressively a
ficult to relate to the doctrine of souls.
population-control policy long retarded
Officially, it is prohibited on the basis
the development of brakes against the
that it is a form of onanism (remember
population explosion that has resulted
Onan [Gen. 38:9] who "spilled his seed
in a population of more than one bilupon the ground"?) and also violates
lion Indians today. This is far beyond
the Genesis injunction [Gen. 1:22] to
the carrying capacity of that depleted
"be fruitful and multiply."
and worn-out subcontinent.

Spring 2005

Page 11

"Until the day he died, Wojtyla believed that acorns were oak trees."
Wojtyla's opposition to abortion
caused a succession of American
presidents to block funding of Planned
Parenthood
International
on the
pretext that moneys used for birth
control education would somehow
also be used for abortion in countries
that most desperately have needed to
control population growth. The result
is the terrible overpopulation of Africa
and Latin America - not by accident
places where Catholicism is both fervent and firmly entrenched,
Wojtyla's opposition to
contraception has caused not
only the wildly impractical
'Abstinence Only' programs in
America that for want of condoms have resulted in many
unwanted teen pregnancies
and sexually transmitted diseases, it has also condemned
perhaps millions of Africans and others to death by AIDS. The Catholic
doctrine that every sexual act must 'be
open to life' thus leads inexorably to
death.
Wojtyla's pronatalist policies have
had enormous effect in the world and
have led to widespread failure to take
action to control runaway population
growth around the world. Presently
there are over six billion people trying
to sustain life while subsisting on this
spaceship we call Earth. My considered
opinion is that this is at least double
the number the planet can support on

a long-term basis. We are living on the


energy of borrowed sunlight. Since the
beginning of the Industrial Revolution
some two centuries ago, we have been
sustaining our increasingly unnatural
culture by releasing the solar energy
captured and stored by plants and
other photosynthetic organisms over
the course of several hundreds
of
millions of years. In less than three
hundred years since the large-scale
exploitation of this energy began, we
will have used this all up and the

facing humankind today that is not


either caused by overpopulation
or
exacerbated by it. The fuel shortage.
The water shortage. The food shortage.
The depletion of fisheries. Clear-cutting and burning of the rain forests
and boreal forests. The nearly ubiquitous pollution of our environment.
Global warming.
Both wide-scale
flooding and droughts can be shown
increasingly to be the result of too
many people altering a too-little world.
(Spaceship Earth, like all spaceships,
has dimensions that are all
too finite')
Karol Wojtyla is being
praised as a man who had
exceptional respect for life.
Some apologists even attribute to him the founding of
the 'culture of life' that is the
subject of this critique. But is
the culture that results from his principles in fact a culture that can truly
value human life?
It seems hardly arguable that
with overpopulation the value of individual lives becomes correspondingly
less. The more there are competing
for available space and resources, the
less the value that will be granted to
individuals. Not only is this a result
of the economic principle that things
that are rare are more 'valuable' than
things that are common; it results also
from the fact that the quality of individual lives declines and is degraded

"The Catholic doctrine that


every sexual act must 'be open
to life' thus leads inexorably to
death."
human population of this world will
almost certainly undergo a horrific
collapse. Since people do not starve to
death peaceably or without protest, it
is likely that the population collapse
will be marked by warfare that could
even extinguish our species itself.
In the meanwhile, as our population builds to that dismal climax,
overpopulation has led to the warfare
in Africa and other places - places
where religious modes of thought hold
sway and prevent the implementation
of rational measures to control population growth. There is hardly a problem

Weighing the Soul


Some while ago, I had a delightful argument with a Presbyterian preacher about the concept of soul. I had just
explained to him that the idea of a spirit or soul was a result of the fact that the ancients thought breath to be the factor giving life to a body, and that word such as spirit, ghost, and soul originally meant 'breath' or 'breeze' or 'wind.' "Ah!"
said the preacher, "haven't you heard about the scientist who weighed the soul leaving the body of a dying man?"
"Not since I quit teaching freshman biology," I replied. "I used to hear the story every year at least once, but no one
ever has been able to tell me who the scientist was or why he would try to do such a silly experiment."
"What do you mean by 'silly experiment'?" the preacher asked in annoyance.
"Well," said I, "how would a scientist know how big a weight change to be looking for? And how far dead should
the body be before one concludes that the soul has gone, and that one can now stop waiting for further changes? For
example, if in the course of dying, the urinary sphincter suddenly relaxes, several ounces of urine may be lost, but no
change in weight that big is likely to be observed at the loss of a soul." I think my comparison of urine loss to loss of
the soul kind of pissed offthe preacher, but he held his tongue. I continued.
"On the other hand, a small amount of weight will be lost as the lungs compress, and the last breath - quite literally the 'spirit,' since spiritus in Latin means breath - leaves the body. But how will the scientist know that a loss of

Page 12

Spring 2005

American Atheist

extend and improve the lives of actual


together in this same cage, however,
also. How can a life of unremitting
individual lives and identities practipersons. The irony is amplified by the
wretchedness be considered valuable?
fact that this soon-to-be saint died
cally disappear in a nightmarish parBecause this rhetorical question can
have no logical answer in the positive,
of parkinsonism - a disease almost
oxysm of agonistic interactions that
certain to be curable by injection of
culminate in widespread cannibalism
it can only be 'answered' by the absurd
certain types of embryonic or fetal
and massive reduction of population.
theological doctrine of the redemptive
Individuality is meaningless in such
value of suffering. Wojtyla's last paincells into the dopaminergic tracts of
the parkinsonian brain. Karol Wojtyla
situations and survival is more the
filled years are widely being held to
might have lived another ten or even
result of accident than individual virhave been an ennobling and glowing
twenty years if early in his pontifitue or talent. Those who are eaters and
example of the anti-life principle that
pain is good for you.
cate he had encouraged research with
those who are eaten differ from each
human embryos. (Of course, if not all
other in no discernible quality. Where
We must remember too that even
the cells in his brain were his own, one
there is no quality of life, life has little
without overpopulation, Wojtyla held
might rightly lose faith in his infalthat a woman's life was no more valuor no value.
able than that of a single-celled zygote
libility.) Had he adhered to a genuine
culture of life instead of his
she might be harboring in a
"It seems hardly arguable that
misguided culture of singleFallopian tube or in her womb.
cell life he would have lived
Now think of a billion women
with overpopulation the value of
in Africa or South America or
much longer - admittedly, a
individual lives becomes correIndia or China - or Iceland.
not altogether good thing.
Just think how little value
Wojtyla and his minspondingly less.... Overpopulation
each one would have if evaluions have hoisted themselves
is everywhere and always the
ated by Wojtyla's standards!
with their own petard, howAt least in the case of a billion enemy of liberty and freedom."
ever, because embryonic stem
women 'living' in Iceland, it is
cell technology
(combined
with
therapeutic
cloning)
not unreasonable to assign a
negative value to each one.
bids soon to make possible
Stem Cell and Cloning Research
Overpopulation
is everywhere
what can only be described as practiand always the enemy of liberty and
cal immortality. When we are able to
Because the pope believed that
freedom. The more individuals there
replace any failing organ with a new
blastocysts
have
souls
and
are
are, the more each individual's freeone grown from scratch, barring annihuman beings - even though they
dom is hemmed and hedged about by
hilating accidents we should be able to
are merely a couple hundred cells
live indefinitely long. Religionists have
the exigencies arising from the need
in size - he pushed to get embryonic
to partition
each one's world into
forgone an immortality
of physical
stem cell research banned by many
smaller and smaller spheres of action.
reality to chase the phantom of spirigovernments. The irony here is that
In a rat cage designed to house a halftual immorality.
stem
cell research (especially when
dozen animals comfortably, each rat is
But of course spiritual immortalcombined with the even more widely
able to live a life as fulfilling as the
ity is the main product manufactured
banned procedure of therapeutic clonrodent genome can make possible. If
by the Vatican and its many imitators
ing) promises to preserve and greatly
we suddenly try to put a hundred rats
around the world. When ordinary
weight of this magnitude is not due to loss of air? Also, as the body lies exposed to dry air, it will begin to dehydrate, and
thus lose still more weight. Did the experimenter control for all these factors?" I asked the preacher. Of course, he didn't
know, because he had never read it in a scientific journal, but had only heard the myth being told and retold.
Being a firm believer in the principle that preachers always should be nudged by the toe of one's boot when they're
down, I then proceeded to deliver the coup de grace.
''You know," I told him, "it would be very devastating to your profession if, in fact, such an experiment had been done
and had been scientifically valid."
"How could that be?" he said as he swallowed my bait.
"Quite simple," said I. "It would prove that the soul is a physical entity. Once we found that it had weight, we could
proceed to analyze it chemically. Once we knew its chemical composition, we could then proceed to synthesize souls in
the laboratory. We could then take out patents on soul-making, and sue all the clergy for patent infringement - since
the god for whom they all claim to be financial agents is alleged to be making souls every day without paying royalties
to the patent holders!"
The preacher was not amused. In fact, he sort of looked like Lady Vanderbilt when she discovered dog-do in the
punch bowl at the soiree.
Reprinted from Dial-An-Atheist

Parsippany, New Jersey

Greatest Hits From Ohio, by Frank R. Zindler, 1991 American Atheist Press.

Spring

2005

Page 13

people are given the choice between a tangible


immortality in the here and now and an undetectable
immortality in an unimaginable spirit world, we cannot doubt whither the path of the majority will lead.
If the Vatican allowed the development of physical
immortality, it would put itself out of business. If it
could no longer collect the rent for heavenly mansions
in advance, it would have no sources of income other
than the money-laundering activities of the Vatican
Bank and Catholic tax-exempt businesses throughout
the world.
Having mentioned the Vatican Bank, I might.
as well note that this money-laundering institution
was protected by Wojtyla throughout his pontificate
- despite the murders related to its operations and
the obvious mob connections of the Holy See. (Indeed,
it is widely believed that Wojtyla's predecessor JohnPaul I was murdered 33 days into his reign because
he discovered the true nature of the Vatican Bank
and was honestly trying to clean up its operation.)
Wojtyla's granting of asylum to Vatican Bank chief
Paul Casimir Marcinkus - wanted in Italy for his
role in the Vatican Bank scandal - is as good an index
of his moral principles as any I can think of Joseph
A. Reaves and Kelly Ettenborough, writing in The
Arizona Republic [4 May 2003] note that
Marcinkus is also at the center of another controversy involving the Vatican and millions in Nazi
gold that was laundered from Germany after World
War II. A U.S. State Department report implicated
the Vatican in the money-laundering scheme, and
investigators have tried unsuccessfully, because of
his diplomatic immunity, to question Marcinkus
about any possible Vatican Bank involvement.

Forgiving Darwin
The many eulogies of John-Paul II rarely fail
to claim his reconciliation of Catholicism with science. His belated 'forgiving' of Galileo is certainly a
wonder of apologetics, but it nicely obscures the fact
that popes in Galileo's day were widely believed to be
infallible in everything - not merely in the Vatican
Council I-restricted sphere of "faith and morals."
The problem with Galileo, however, was theologically insignificant as compared to the dangers of
Darwinism. Galileo himself noted that his astronomy
asserted only "how the heavens go, not how to go to
heaven." Darwin's theory of evolution by means of
natural selection, however, struck at the heart of
Christian doctrine and dogma. For if Adam and Eve
never existed, there never was an original sin. If there
were no original sin, there would be no need of salvation. If we don't need to be saved, we have no need of
a savior. JC is out of a job.
Wojtyla was walking on eggshells, however, when
he issued his message to members of the Pontifical
Academy of Science on October 23, 1996. This
message has been widely alleged to have placed the

Page 14

The Pope's Most Fallible


Brain - or Soul?
People have worried whether the pope would still be infallible if
he had a brain tumor or if someone slipped LSD into his communion
wine.These problems are interesting, and their biological implications
are worth pursuing. As you know, every minute of your life, your
body is exchanging matter and energy with its environment. New
atoms are being taken in and old atoms are being lost. Every few
years, you literally have a new body.Your personal identity is no more
real than that of a candle flame. Only a dynamic pattern exists, as the
material 'you' coalesces from chaos for a while, only to collapse again
into chaos a while later. Moreover, even the dynamic pattern that is
'you' changes. The newborn babe generally is unrecognizable in the
forty-year-old person.
If there be such a thing as resurrection of the body, which body
- which collection of atoms - will be raised up at the latter day? If a
person has been a cannibal since birth, all his atoms are really atoms
belonging to someone else. Will the cannibal or his dinner be resurrected? But we have digressed.
Getting back to popes, since the pope has a new brain every few
years, it would seem that the earlier infallible being is no longer on
the Throne of Peter when the new brain is present. Is the new brain
infallible? How about when the brain is half replaced? Can the pope
be infallible half the time? Or is infallibility conferred upon each new
molecule as it joins the papal team? Or is infallibility a feature of the
pope's soul, not his brain? Is his soul then perpetually transmigrating
from one collection of brain molecules to another? Is his infallible
soul being reincarnated every millisecond?
It is now possible to graft brain tissue from one animal into the
brain of another. Since the brain is isolated from the immune system
of the blood, new brain tissue is not rejected as foreign (the way
heart transplants are) and indeed there is evidence that, at least to
some extent, the new tissue can function neurologically normally.
With only slight exaggeration we may say that it is only a question of ethics, not technology, that prevents replacing a substantial
part of one person's brain with tissue from, say, a human fetus. If
one-third of the pope's brain were replaced with brain tissue from
another source, would the composite pontiff still pontificate infallibly?
What if two-thirds were replaced?
If you object to replacing papal gray matter (such as there is)
with that of a fetus - thus depriving the fetus of its "right to life"
- we can always use rat brains. Rat neurons will grow just as well in
the human brain, as far as we can tell, as will foreign human neurons.
Now what about a pope whose brain is even one percent rat? Or
how about one percent rat, one percent chicken, and one percent
Baptist? Would he still be one hundred percent infallible? When the
pope is resurrected, will the rat brain rise again as well? And what if
it turns out that rats have souls, as Hindus believe, and god decides
at the resurrection that the rat needs his brain too?
Reprinted from Dial-An-Atheist Greatest Hits From Ohio, by Frank R.Zindler,
1991 by American Atheist Press.

Spring 2005

American Atheist

papal imprimatur upon the Darwinian


theory of evolution - even though
Darwin nowhere is mentioned in the
message. As he deliberately created
the false impression that one could

populations and was not descended


from a single man and woman living at some time in the recent past.
Since polygenism is the view of actual
evolutionary
scientists,
and since
Wojtyla wanted to make it appear
that Catholicism could accept actual
science, he did not even mention this
part of Humani Generis in his 'acceptance' of evolution as more than an
hypothesis.
Furthermore,
both
Pius
XII
and John Paul If emphasized that
aJt-hauRhc one might 'Believe' that the
o.t?Kelam bad evolved from- pre-

were killed by Hitler's holocaust


or by its model, the Holy Roman
Inquisition, in which between nine
and eleven millions of heretics are
alleged to have died (if one includes
the numbers killed by the spread of
Catholicism into the New World). In
his opposition to 'Liberation Theology'
and tacit endorsement of fascist dictators he blocked social reform that
might have helped to break down the
horrific economic disparities that fuel
the class struggles that perennially
threaten to erupt in all-out warfare.

forms of life, one absolutely


hacf to believe that the human soul
did not evolve, but was injected into
sublunary biology at some particular
evolutionary point or points. Now of
course this would be downright loony
biology - but it is the only biology
a true Catholic can endorse. Wojtyla
never corrected the errors of his predecessor, nor could he do so without
putting Catholicism out of business.
By not really dealing with these prob-

An-Enemy of Liberty

"If there were no original sin, there would


be no need of salvation. If we don't need
to be saved, we have
.
~
no need. 0 f a savior. I:c- --.eay
is out of a job."
humane
be a good Catholic and also a good
biologist, he surely was crossing his
fingers behind his back. Most likely,
his eyes were also crossed - focusing
behind himself upon a dead albatross,
Pius XII's encyclical Humani Generis,
which set clear limits to what could be
accepted in the realm of human evolution research.
Although Pius XII was careful not
to speak ex cathedra - self-professedly
infallibly, that is - he nevertheless
made some embarrassing comments
on what could not be believed about
evolution:
There are other conjectures, about
polygenism (as it is called), which
leave the faithful no such freedom of
choice. Christians cannot lend their
support to a theory which involves the
existence, after Adam's time, of some
earthly race of men, truly so called,
who were not descended ultimately
from him, or else supposes that Adam
was the name given to some group of
our primordial ancestors. It does not
appear how such views can be reconciled with the doctrine of original sin,
as this is guaranteed to us by Scripture
and tradition, and proposed to us by
the Church. Original sin is the result
of a sin committed, in actual historical fact, by an individual man named
Adam, and it is a quality native to all
of us, only because it has been handed
down by descent from him ...

Thus, Pius XII made it clear (and


Wojtyla could not contradict
him
here) that Catholics could not accept
the Darwinian principle - indeed the
biologically obvious fact - that Homo
sapiens was the product of evolving
Parsippany, New Jersey

"Of course this would


be downright loony
biology - but it is the
only biology a true
Catholic can endorse."
lems, he could leave the impression
that Darwinian evolution was "more
than a hypothesis" that Catholics
could accept - and keep the faith dollars flowing into the holy-water laundry run by the Vatican Bank.

The Man of Peace


Karol Wojtyla is widely being
praised as a "man of peace" because
of his somewhat surprising opposition to the Cheney-Bush war in Iraq.
Nevertheless, nearly all of his other
actions - and inactions - have served
to undermine the pursuit of peace.
We have already noted how his pronatalist activism has fueled nearly
all the ethnic, economic, and religious
conflicts that inflame humanity and
imperil our future. He has condemned
far more people to death by starvation and its attendant violence than

Spring 2005

Karol Wojtyla is praised for his


defense of liberty and freedom in his
homeland, Poland, and in the former
Soviet Union. But never was liberty or
freedom of individuals a motive in his
mind. Rather, it was the reclaiming of
the power and privilege of the Roman
Catholic Church that he was working
for. His support of Solidarnosc was not
in support of the dignity of individual
laborers, it was the nose of a Catholic
camel poked inside the tent of a secular society. It was a route by which to
reclaim the totalitarian privileges the
church lost when a socialist government came to power. Quickly, Karol
Wojtyla worked to curb freedom of
religion, freedom of the press, freedom
of expression, and freedom of choice in
his homeland. As an operative of Opus
Dei, the secret Catholic lay society
seeking to subvert the earth and subject it to Catholic power, Karol Wojtyla
sought worldwide to put fundamentalist Catholics in positions of power
such that enjoyed by Justice of the
U.S. Supreme Court Antonin Scalia.
Every time this pope came to
America, he was picketed by American
Atheists. Every time we picketed this
Tyrant of the Vatican, we faced a suppression of personal freedom utterly
equivalent to the imposition of martial
law. We were not allowed to stand
anywhere the pope could see us. (It
was a foreshadowing of the abolition
of civil liberties we know endure at the
hands of George W. Bush and the powers that move him.) People could not
stand on balconies of their own homes
or even look out their own windows if
their homes were on the pope's route
Page 15

"His support of
Solidarnosc was not in
support of the dignity
of individual laborers,
it was the nose of a
Catholic camel poked
inside the tent of a
secular society."
of 'pilgrimage.' (This guy never simply
traveled; he always made pilgrimages.)
Knowing full well that his visits would
involve suppression and trampling of
personal freedoms, Wojtyla nevertheless pilgrim aged happily and gladly,
spreading his Dark Ages message of
suffering, subjection, and submission.
Noone will doubt the claim that
John Paul II opposed freedom from
religion, but it may be doubted by
some that he also opposed freedom
of religion as well. A theocrat to the
end, he worked to restore the 'good old
days' when the Catholic Church ruled
the world and the only religion allowed
was Roman Catholicism. Believing in
a hierarchy of temporal powers, he
could not concede that priests or other
agents of Catholic power could be subject (i.e., be inferior) to civil powers.
Thus, he could not - would not - decree
that American churches should report
their pederastic priests to the civil

"Knowing full well that


his visits would involve
suppression and trampling of personal
freedoms, Wojtyla
nevertheless pilgrimaged happily and
gladly, spreading his
Dark-Ages message of
suffering,subjection,
and submission."
authorities even in states where the
law requires it. At the pope's request,
an American conference of bishops
drafted a report proposing some gettough measures for dealing with pedPage 16

erastic priests - mostly PR, I think,


to make the public think they were
serious about reform. No matter what
the purpose might have been, this was
all watered down in Rome. Wojtyla's
protection - indeed, promotion - of
Boston's infamous Cardinal Law was a
glaring consequence of his belief that
priests are subject to a 'higher power'
and that de facto the civil powers are
inferior to even the lowest-ranking
agents of ecclesiastical power. Even
though John Paul II probably was not
himself a child molester, he was morally compromised by his desire to placet
the church above the state.
All the First Amendment freedoms
we prize so greatly were opposed by
this 'Freedom Pope.' Freedom of and
from religion was to be abolished in
favor of the First Commandment.
Freedom of speech and freedom of the
press were opposed fiercely wherever
they posed a threat to Catholic power.
Karol Schiavo

or Terri Wojtyla?

When the pope's Parkinsonism


forced him to undergo tracheotomy
to have a breathing tube installed in
his neck to keep him from choking,
the church experienced a crisis that
seems to have surprised and puzzled
many journalists. The imposition of
the tracheostome rendered the pope
dumb - i.e., speechless. (Apparently,
Catholics had never had to deal with
a dumb pope before.) Not only could a
mute shaman no longer say the magic
words to convert the goldfish wafers
into god-bod and the Chianti into
heavenly hemoglobin, there was worry
that his 'silent blessings' might lack
magical power altogether. He simply
waved his hands in benediction, making not the slightest effort to 'speak' in
American Sign Language or its Polish
or Latin equivalents. With all his linguistic talent, Karol Wojtyla seems
never to have learned to sign for the
'benefit' of the deaf. With the increasing amplitude of his manual tremor,
however, it is amusing to contemplate
the 'message' he might have delivered
using sign language.
While the pope was thus disintegrating, the tragedy of Terri Schiavo
was being played out to its last curtain call. The brain-damaged woman
Spring

2005

had been on life-support some fifteen


years and her stomach tube had been
removed. It occurred to me that the
pope, who had lobbied against removal
of the tube, might be about to adapt
the Schiavo drama for a world stage.
In letters
to various
newspapers
- letters doomed to go unpublished - I

"With all his linguistic


talent, Karol Wojtyla
seems never to have
learned to sign for the
'benefit' of the deaf.
With the increasing
amplitude of his manual tremor, however, it
is amusing to contemplate the 'message' he
might have delivered."
pointed out that Wojtyla's parkinsonism could lead to his placement on a
respirator and that in turn could easily
lead to a stroke that could leave him
as brain-damaged
as Terri Schiavo
and put him too on life-support. What
would the Roman Catholic Church do
with a pope who, year after year, not
only could not speak but didn't even
know he was the pope? Since he had
proclaimed that Terri Schiavo could
not be taken off life-support, clearly
he would have to be maintained the
same way if my scenario should come
to pass. The prospect of a completely
brain-dead pope was delicious, and I
chortled over the prospect in gleeful
conversations with friends. Sad to say,
Wojtyla's handlers did not consider the
prospect to be as tasty as I did. In fact,
we may suppose they found it downright distasteful. In any case, someone
beside the dying pope ruled against
his being taken back to the hospital
- thus, blocking the acting out of my
shocking scenario. What a pity!
A Legend Aborning
Once it was clear that Karol
Wojtyla was dying, the mythopoietic
forces of the papal household swung
American Atheist

into action. Deathbed messages were


constructed
and last words were
manufactured so that Opus Dei could
have a new saint as quickly as possible. Fortunately, this all was bungled
enough that even Dr. Sanjay Gupta
caught the deceit. In The New York
Times of 3 April 2005 [page 5A], a tidbit appeared showing that the Vatican
was manufacturing myths ofthe pope's
last hours. "The Vatican's diagnosis of
septic shock 'doesn't add up' with its
description of John Paul II's 'active
participation'
in Friday
morning
prayers, Dr. Gupta said."
A major myth maker in this case
appears to have been spokesman
Joaquin Navarro-Valls, an Opus Dei
operative who cranked out glowing
accounts of the pope's proselytizing of
the young - something not too different morally from the sexual seduction
of the young by the pederastic priests
he protected throughout his pontificate. Navarro-Valls reported an amazing speech miraculously spoken by a
speechless man to the myriad young
people reported to be waiting outside.
"I have looked for you," the supposedly
mute pontifex said to the Jesu Jugend
crowding beneath his window. "Now
you have come to me. And I thank you."
A very appropriate speech for a saintto-be. (Perhaps he will be canonized as
the patron saint of youth!)
That this report is mostly mythical
is indicated by a much shorter version
reported by Time magazine on 11 April
2005 [po27]:
He received
the
sacrament
reserved for the dying, heard the
Stations of the Cross. Hours later he
was slipping in and out of consciousness, his breathing shallow, his organs
failing. News came Saturday of his
final, halting words. "You have come
to me," he said, "and I thank you,"
though whether he was talking to
his brothers around him, the pilgrims
outside or the waiting Lord above,
there was no way to know."

How much of even that story is


true is also uncertain and probably
. never to be determined.
According to the carefully crafted
myth of Wojtyla's exit from the terrestrial plane, his personal secretary
Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz (also an
Opus Dei operative) held his hand as
Parsippany, New Jersey

he died. Then, just before Providence


flipped off his switch, Saint John Paul
looked out the window and uttered his
last word: "Amen!" Anyone who could
see through the heavily draped windows of the pope's chamber most certainly has performed the first miracle
of the number required for sainthood.
It is quite likely that nothingin the
stories of the pope's last days is true.
During those last days, Karol Jozef
Wojtyla was surrounded by Opus Dei
operatives, and quite likely he was at

"It is quite likely that


nothing in the stories
of the pope's last days
is true .... For a man
who could not talk,
there are suspiciously
many words reported."
their mercy. It seems unlikely that the
decision not to return to the hospital
was really his own, nor do I think he
is the one who decided to remove the
feeding tube that had been installed a
la Terri Schiavo. Once it was clear that
he was moribund and could not protest
intelligibly, it would have been safe to
set the stage not only for his canonization but for his Opus Dei successor.
For a man who could not talk,
there are suspiciously many words
reported. Unless he was writing palsied messages in conversation books a
la Beethoven, it is hard to suppose that
here were any words at all. (Indeed, by
the time I had written this article, this
absurdity had come to the attention of
the myth-makers, who duly added the
'information' that some of Wojtyla's
communications had been in writing!)
Myths are made for moments like
these, however, and we shall never
know how John Paul II really cashed
in his chips - nor the identity of the
Vatican's cashier who raked those
chips into the treasury of the saints.

Even in Death
Even in death, Karol Wojtyla
was able to injure civil liberties and
harm the human race. As millions

Spring 2005

"Even in death, Karol


Wojtyla was able to
injure civil liberties and
harm the human race."
of believers and dignitaries swarmed
into Rome for the funerary festivities, the equivalent of martial law was
imposed. (The terrible threat of terrorism, you know. To preserve freedom we
have to surrender freedom.) A sort of
Papal Patriot Act was put in force in
Christianity's ancient capital.
After his death, the harvest of the
bitter fruits of his inactions continued.
Ifhe had acted to legitimize contraception, sterilization, and abortion, most
of the problems of this overpopulated
planet would have been less acute.
If he had promoted embryonic stem
cell research, cloning, and scientific
medicine in general, lives would now
be lived longer and existence would be
less painful and sorrow-filled.
As cardinals sprinkled the unembalmed pope's cadaver with 'holy
water,' they looked and acted exactly
like witch doctors from the most
remote tribal societies of New Guinea.
As priests and presidents alike prayed
for the repose of the pope's soul, I got
a whiff of a twice-distilled essence
of insanity. First of all, consider the
practice of prayer itself. In most
cases, including the case in question,
prayer requires belief in the magical power of words - a fundamental

"As priests and presidents alike prayed


for the repose of the
pope's soul, I got a
whiff of a twicedistilled essence of
insanity."
failure of reality testing that signals
the presence of mental illness. When
one believes further that such magic
can affect the fate of souls - entities
that have no objective reality whatsoever - we have an insanity beyond an
insanity. We have an insanity of second
order.
Page 17

-i

As I noted previously, history is due to wars triggered by overpopula- pope supposedly for the benefit of life
tion, all who died due to religious will be seen by future historians to
written by the winners. In the war
have been as specious and hollow as
between science (the forces oflight and wars, all who died of AIDs because
liberty) and superstition (the forces of condoms were prohibited, and all who George W.Bush's claim that he always
has sought to "err [pronounced air] on
darkness and servitude), who will hold died because this pope prevented the
the side of life" - not only when he
the high ground a century from now? development of cures for the diseases
tried to intervene in
If the war has been
the Schiavo case but
secured for science,
"Karol Wojtyla will take his place alongside also when he was the
I am certain that all
Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin as one of the
chief executioner of
the hype and propaTexas. It will be seen
ganda that now naumost evil figures of the twentieth century."
that
every action
seates us so will have
of this pope - and
been turned upside
down. Karol Wojtylawill take his place that killed them. They will be able to many of his inactions as well- had the
alongside AdolfHitler and Josef Stalin
add that total to the numbers killed primary effect of putting human life
as one of the most evil figures of the
squarely in a path that leads to extincby this man in the twentieth century
tion. We can only hope that during
twentieth century.
.
- numbers that already make Hitler
the twenty-first century the forces of
How many innocent people will look like an apprentice.
How will Wojtyla's 'culture of life' reason will be able to set up detours on
have received a silent sentence of
the course he set and that as a consedeath from this pope? Historians of be viewed a century from now if the
good guys are writing the history? I quence there will in fact be historians
the future will be able to add up the
alive to write about it.
can doubt many things, but I cannot
numbers of all who starved during
the twenty-first century, all who died doubt that the actions taken by this

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"See, Jimmy, as the population grows too


dense, the rats begin to abuse each other."

Page 18

Spring 2005

American Atheist

A 'Zinger For Opus Dei


Frank R. Zindler

s soon as Joseph
Cardinal
Ratzinger
had been identified as the new pope, a friend
asked me if a rat-zinger was a zinger
of rats. "How do you zing a rat?"
he queried. I replied that I was not
certain about the etymology of the
name Ratzinger, but that his analysis was probably as good as any we
are likely to hear. Given the specifics
of the case, however, the name would
be more appropriate
if it could be
made to signify 'a rat to be zinged.'
Alas that seems to be ruled out
by ~hat I know about the German
language.
Whatever
the name Ratzinger
may signify, one thing seems certain:
he will be a pope like none other
since the Dark Ages. The world's
foremost authority
on Satan and
exorcism, he was the head of the
Holy Roman Inquisition - a Grand
Inquisitor
euphemistically
referred
to as the head of the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith. *
In The Ratzinger Report, coauthored with Vittorio Messori, with
the approval of Pope John Paul II the
pope-to-be wrote:

Whatever the less discerning


theologians may say, the devil, as
far as Christian belief is concerned,
is a puzzling but real, personal and
not merely symbolical presence. He
is a powerful reality (the 'prince of
this world,' as he is called by the
*As I write, newspapers report that he has
just named the archbishop of San Francisco,
William Levada, to be his successor.Levada
has done a Herculean job in keeping the
lid on the sex-abuse scandal in his region.
A statement from The Survivors Network
of Those Abused by Priests complains,
"Regarding abuse in the San Francisco archdiocese,Levada has been slow to act, harsh
to victims, and committed to secrecy."

Parsippany, New Jersey

New Testament, which continually reminds us of his existence),


a baneful superhuman
freedom
directed against God's freedom.
This is evident if we look realistically at history, with its abyss of
ever-new atrocities which cannot be
explained by reference to man alone.
On his own, man has not the power to
oppose Satan, but the devil is not second to God, and united with Jesus we
can be certain of vanquishing him.

Ratzi the Nazi?


As befits a man who now exercises
absolute, dictatorial control over the
world's smallest despotism, Ratzinger
is a fascist to the core, having served
a stint in the Hitler Jugend ('Hitler
Youth') when he was a teenager living
in Traunstein,
a staunchly Catholic,
Hitler-loving
Bavarian
town close
to the Fuhrer's
alpine retreat
at
Berchtesgaden. t

"Readers will be
amused to learn that
Cardinal Ratzinger
once equated belief in
the deviI with
spiritual maturity."
In his popular treatise Dogma
und Yerhundigung [Dogma and
Preaching]
he
explains
what
Catholics
devil:

need

to do about

this

Anyone who has a clear picture


of the dark sides of the age in which
we live sees forces at work which
aim to disintegrate the relationships
among men. In this situation the
Christian can see that his task as
exorcist must regain the importance
it had when the faith was at the
beginning. Of course the word 'exorcism' must not be understood here in
its technical sense; it simply refers
to the attitude of faith as a whole,
which 'overcomes the world' and
'casts out' the prince of this world.
Readers will be amused to learn
that Cardinal Ratzinger once equated belief in the devil with spiritual
maturity.

Spring 2005

Two years later, the future pope


was serving in an anti-aircraft
unit,
protecting
a BMW aircraft factory
employing slave labor from the concentration camp at Dachau. In April
of 1944 he deserted the Nazi army and
tCatholic Bavaria, from Munich's Cardinal
Faulhaber on down to its altar boys, was
staunchly supportive of Hitler, whom they all
viewed as Christianity's greatest defender
against godless communism and socialism.
In a 1937 sermon, Faulhaber proclaimed:
At a time when the heads of the major
nations in the world faced the new
Germany with reserve and considerable suspicion, the Catholic Church, the
greatest moral power on earth, through
the Concordat [between the Vatican and
Hitler's Germany] expressed its confidence in the new German government.
This was a deed of immeasurable significance for the reputation of the new government abroad. <www.shoahrose.coml
srpeople/html> May 13, 2005

Page 19

"Apologists claim that he


never was a Nazi, but was conscripted into the military and
before that was forced to join
the Hitler }ugend;moreover, his
whole family was anti - Hitler.
Apparently they opposed their
own Cardinal as well!"

"Paul VI simply named Benedict


the patron saint of Europe.
Benedict XVI plans to make him
the patron saint - whether
Europe wants it or not."
spent a short time as an American POw. (Apologists claim
that he never was a Nazi, but was conscripted into the military and before that was forced to join the Hitler Jugend;
moreover, his whole family was anti-Hitler. Apparently
they opposed their own Cardinal as well!) But most helpful of all, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger - now Pope Benedict
XVI - is an associate of Opus Dei, a medieval cult which I
will discuss a bit later.
Upon election to the Chair of Peter, with no more than
several seconds of hesitation, Ratzinger adopted the stageThe Future Bedict XVI and John Paul II
name of Benedict XVI setting off a great amount
whose decree of30 June 1741 Quanta Cura forbade the trafof speculation in the media
fic in alms. It seems that priests at expensive churches often
as to the significance of the
received payment from believers to say masses for whatname. For the last pope of
ever magical purpose. Many of them would then hire a lowthat name - Benedict XV
priced priest from a cheaper church to say the masses for
[1914-1922) - had been a
them - keeping part ofthe money for themselves. For some
lack-luster character who
reason, this was considered a scandal and Benedict XIV put
allegedly repudiated
the
a stop to it. That Ratzinger would want to draw attention
strict orthodoxy of his pre- _
to a scandal is doubtful, however, and I think his model
decessor Pius X. Would this
is someone else - unless he has in mind Benedict XIV's
mean that Ratzinger would
decree Magnae Nobis of 29 June 1748, which condemned
become a Vatican-II liberal,
marriage with heretics. This was addressed to the church in
despite his nicknames "the
Poland and might be a subtle allusion to Ratzinger's Polish
enforcer," "the panzer carpredecessor who doubtless also would not have approved of
dinal," and "God's rottweigood Catholics marrying heathens.
ler"? Don't you believe it.
It is not at all likely, however, that Zingy plans to model
There is no reason to
himself after Benedict IX (1032-44; 1045; 1047-8), whom
suppose his model is the
the Frontline Fellowship informs us was "elected pope at
last Benedict. Earlier popes
age eleven; he was twice driven from his position due to his
could have been the source
participation in plunder, immorality, oppression, and murBenedict XV
of his inspiration
also.
der. Church historians described him as 'That wretch, from
Consider
Benedict
XIV,
Page 20

Spring 2005

American Atheist

the beginning of his pontificate to the


end of his life, feasted on immorality,'
and 'a demon from hell in the disguise
of a priest has occupied the chair of
Peter'." <www.Frontline.org.zaJarticles/
popes%20rome.htm> (13 May 2005)
It also is unlikely that he plans
to model Benedict V (964). Frontline
Fellowship says he was "described by a
church historian as 'the most iniquitous
of all the monsters of ungodliness'."
Much more likely, in my opinion, is
Saint Benedict of Nursia [c480-c547l
- the founder of the Benedictine
monastic order and creator of the Rule
of St. Benedict. The saintly monk ruled
that among the "Instruments of Good
Works" are the rules "10: To renounce
oneself, in order to follow Christ" and
"11: To discipline the body." His recommended mortification of the body
for the sake of the soul echoes in the
procedures said to be followed in Opus
Dei, which we have yet to discuss in
relation to its role in the Ratzinger
election.
Of cardinal significance, I suggest,
is the fact that in 1977 Pope Paul VI
made Ratzinger a cardinal and appointed St. Benedict the patron saint for all
of Europe. Ratzinger has declared his
intent to recapture an increasingly
secular, post-Christian Europe for the
benefit ofthe Vatican - continuing the
meddling in European affairs pursued
by John Paul II. Paul VI simply named
Benedict the patron saint of Europe.
Benedict XVI plans to make him the
patron saint - whether Europe wants
it or not.

Doing God's Work


Opus Dei ('God's Work') is a Roman
Catholic cult founded in October of
1928 by the fascist Spanish cleric Msgr.
Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer. By the
end of Franco's rule, more than half of
his cabinet members were members of
this secretive society. When Escriva
was being considered for sainthood (at
the urging of Opus-Dei sympathizer
Karol Wojtyla acting as his alter ego
Pope John Paul II) , Opus Dei prevented the church tribunal from hearing of
his pro-Nazi sympathies. (Whether or
not this would have prevented John
Paul II from naming him a saint in
2002, however, is open to question,
since Pius XI and Pius XII were strong
supporters of Hitler too - at least
Parsippany, New Jersey

early in the Fuhrer's career before he


started stepping on their toes.)
According to Robert Hutchison
[The Guardian
(London), 10 Sept.
1997], the primary goal of Opus Dei
is to return the Catholic Church to
the center of society as in medieval
times. The organization ostensibly is
a lay organization, although priests,
bishops, and even cardinals are members. Under Karol Wojtyla, Opus Dei
became the dominant force in the
Roman Curia (the more than 2000
prelates and laymen who run the
Roman Catholic Church). Opus Dei is
said to have more than 80,000 members worldwide, with over 2000 priests.
In 1982, Wojtyla granted Opus Dei the

"...the primary goal of


Opus Dei is to return
the Catholic Church to
the center of society as
in medieval times ....
The strategy of Opus
Dei is to extend its
influence by recruiting
people in high places."
status of 'personal prelature,' so that it
has no geographic boundaries and its
vicar reports directly to the pope, not
to a local bishop.
The authoritarian
cult has two
types of members: celibate and noncelibate, but both are subject to a secret
initiation rite. Obedience is sworn to
the prelate-general
(the head of the
organization) and to "other authorized
persons of the prelature," according to
Hutchison. After initiation they must
submit to thought control by observing and obeying "formative norms"
- reporting weekly to a mentor who
controls all their activities both personal and professional, and confessing
weekly to an Opus Dei priest. Celibate
inductees must wear a cilice' (formerly
just a horrifically uncomfortable shirt
made of goat's hair, but in Opus Dei
usage it is a barbed-wire belt around
the thigh and groin) and flagellate
themselves with the disciplines
(a
whipping device resembling a small
cat-o' -riine-t.ails),
preferably
with
effusion of at least some blood.

Spring 2005

Married members must send their


children to Opus Dei schools if possible, to extend the brainwashing to
the next generation.
The strategy of Opus Dei is to
extend its influence by recruiting
people in high places. Thus, U.S.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
is a member and it is widely rumored
that Clarence Thomas also is a recruit.
During the Reagan administration, it
placed its agents in the White House
and recruited in the middle ranks ofthe
Pentagon. Former FBI director under
Clinton, Louis Freeh, is a member and
sent a child to an Opus Dei school. His
brother John is a celibate director of
a large Opus Dei center in Pittsburgh.
It is unclear to what extent Opus Dei
was behind Ratzinger's June 2004 letter to American Bishops ordering them
to refuse communion to Catholic John
Kerry, thus swaying Catholic support
in favor of the crusader-warrior George
W. Bush. In thus brazenly meddling in
American politics, I think Ratzinger
has given us a taste of what is to come
from Pope Benedict XVI.
It was Opus Dei that presided over
the death of John Paul II, who appears
to have been completely under their
control during the last several weeks

"It was Opus Dei that


presided over the death
of John Paul II, who
appears to have been
completely under their
control during the last
several weeks of his life
-- if not longer."
of his life - if not longer. Opus Dei
operatives, including papal spokesman Joaquin
Navarro-Valls,
almost
certainly were the ones who decided
to remove Wojtyla's feeding tube and
to prevent him from going back to
the hospital. They were the ones who
manufactured
the myth of Wojtyla's
last days and words, and set in motion
the electoral juggernaut
that would
crush all opposition and place their
zinger on the papal throne in just four
or five ballots.

Page 21

The panzer cardinal had everything going for him well before the
conclave. It was he who celebrated
Wojtyla's requiem mass. It was he who
largely directed the whole show before
the election. In a last-minute sermon
to the cardinal electors, he inveighed
against secularism and 'relativism':
We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything for certain and which
has as its highest goal one's own ego
and one's own desires.

Of course, this is a gross distortion


of what philosophers and anthropologists consider to be an obvious fact,
viz., that morals are relative to particular cultures, times, and circumstances. Furthermore, it relates only
to morals, not to questions of scientific
fact - except in the trivial sense that
scientists admit their findings are
not certain to the umpteenth decimal
position.
Ratzinger's insistence on absolutist morality instead of upon an
ethic that is relative - i.e., relatable to
the realities of different times and circumstances - points up a major reason
why this traditionalist ideologue is so
dangerous. By insisting on adherence
to principles falsely supposed to be
perfect and absolutely good, true, or
whatever, he makes change impossible.

"That which can-

not change cannot be


improved. That which
cannot be improved is
doomed to extinction
when circumstances
Changein ways that
require adaptation for
survival."
That which cannot change cannot
be improved. That which cannot be
improved is doomed to extinction
when circumstances change in ways
that require adaptation for survival.
Thus, tens of thousands of years
ago, when the entire human population of the earth numbered less than
Page 22

a million, a moral code that favored


procreation was necessary and reasonable. Condemnation of any sexual
act that was not open to pregnancy
was probably helpful and contributed
to the survival of the species. Today,
however, when there are more than
six billion people living on a planet
that cannot indefinitely sustain more
than two or three billion, it is clear
that the ancient pronatalist morality
must be turned upside-down. In the
world today, it is necessary to promote
sexual activities that are not open to
pregnancy and procreation.
Opus Dei Wins the Day
When the day came for the cardinal electors to enter the Sistine Chapel
and start their deliberations, Opus Dei
already had everything sewn up for
Zingy. As dean of cardinals, he delivered a pep-talk homily just before
their entry into the conclave. Instead
of babbling pious platitudes
about
how the 'Holy Spirit' would be guiding
their balloting or explaining just how
an immaterial entity such as a spirit
would be able to interact with human
neuromuscular systems, he essentially
announced his candidacy - laying
down a program for the future of the
church and going so far as to tell the
candidates that he would not compromise his principles to gain votes.
Already before this, however, the Curia
(the governing body of the Vatican,
comprising both clerical and lay staff)
had done its job organizing and rallying the conservatives
for Ratzi.
Since a majority of the Curia are also
members of Opus Dei, the conclave
becomes much more sinister in aspect.
The 'liberals' were out-flanked by the
fanatics very much in the same way
as the Democrats in our own last election were brought down by Protestant
fundamentalists - and by Ratzinger's
anti-Kerry edict. Ratzi received the
gold ring on the fourth or fifth ballot.
The Future
There are tough times ahead for
Europe, America, and the rest of the
world. Minutes before I write this
sentence, Ratzinger has just confirmed
what I wrote previously concerning
Spring

2005

the reasons for his choice of the name


Benedict:
The name 'Benedict' also calls
to mind the extraordinary
figure
of the great 'Patriarch
of Western
Monasticism,' St. Benedict of Norcia,
Co-Patron of Europe together with Sts.
Cyril and Methodius, and the women
Saints, Bridget of Sweden, Catherine
of Seine and Edith Stein. The gradual
expansion of the Benedictine Order
that he founded had an enormous
influence on the spread of Christianity
across the Continent. St. Benedict is
therefore deeply venerated,
also in
Germany and particularly in Bavaria,
my birthplace; he is a fundamental
reference point for European unity
and a powerful reminder of the indispensable Christian roots of his culture
and civilization. [Benedict XVI general
audience, 27 April 2005]

The code words 'European unity'


and 'indispensable Christian roots of
his culture and civilization' recall the
fight to put Christianity into the charter for the European Union. Ratzinger
is going to try again to capture Europe
for Christ. The fight will be especially
difficult in Germany, where the Vatican
has already made concordats with the
individual states - concordats that
repeat or even go beyond the still-recognized concordat the Vatican signed
with Hitler back in the thirties.
America will see more Vatican
meddling not only in elections and legislative proceedings but more crucially
in our judicial system. Already, at least
one member of the US Supreme Court
is a member of Opus Dei, and who
knows how many Republican judges
at lower levels are secret adherents?
Catholics comprise a disproportionate fraction of American lawyers and
judges, and - knowing what we know
of the modus operandi of Opus Dei
- we may expect that there has been
heavy recruitment in an effort ultimately to capture the US Supreme
Court. Unfortunately, I have no numbers to substantiate this conjecture. I
hope someone will be able to research
this question and prove me wrong.
At the conclave, most of the
Latin American cardinals voted for
Ratzinger, and it is in Latin America
that Opus Dei is exceptionally influential. The social and political probAmerican Atheist

"I had hoped that Karol


Wojtyla would live
at least until he had
become completely
senile."
lems there can only get worse, with
the church siding even more with
authoritarian
regimes against
the
more democratic or socialist governments. This can be expected as a direct
result of The Enforcer's silencing ofthe
'Liberation Theologians' when he was
Grand Inquisitor.
The implications for Africa are
almost too dismal to discuss. Opus
Dei's 'Zinger may be able to stymie
AIDS prevention programs completely,
with
unimaginable
consequences.
Overpopulation problems there will
become even more acute, despite the
numbers lost to AIDS, and Africa may
become the land of the damned.

Envoi
I had hoped that Karol Wojtyla
would live at least until he had become
completely senile. * With luck, he
would have spoken ex cathedra. (infallibly) and declared his favorite obsession - Maria Coredemptrix - to be a
dogma. By making the Virgin Mary
equal to her son as a redeemer, the
infallible leader of the Roman Catholic
Church would in effect have converted
the Trinity into a Quadrinity composed of three gods and a goddess.
My dream was that this would be so
scandalous or absurd that the Vatican
house of cards would collapse in the
crosswinds of derision that would blow
upon it from all sides. But of course,
a Quadrinity would not really be any
more absurd than a Trinity, and there
is no good reason to suppose that peo-

ple who can swallow a three-headed


god would choke on a four-headed one.
Even though John Paul II is
now out of the dogma-manufacturing business, we may still be able to
see the promulgation of the Maria
Coredemptrix dogma and to evaluate
its fallout. In Ratzinger's first 'general
audience' [27 April 2005] after becoming Benedict XVI, he invoked "the
help of God, of his Most Holy Mother,
the Virgin Mary, and of the Patron
Saints." If, as Catholics have believed
for over a thousand years, the Virgin
Mary is the Mother of God rather than
just the mother of Jesus, that makes
her of equal rank with the HeadHoncho, doesn't it? It sure seems as
though we're on a four-lane highway
to Quadrinity with no need ofWojtyla's
wagon.

*Had Wojtyla lived two more years, Ratzi


would have been ineligible to participate in
the election and would have been a footnote
in history.

The Jesus
the
Jews Never
Knew
Sepher Toldoth Yeshu
and the Quest of the
Historical Jesus in
Jewish Sources

By Frank R. Zindler
If Jesus of Nazareth was real, why didn't the
ancient Jews know of him? Search of all ancient
Jewish literature yields no evidence of any
historical Jesus.
544 pages. Paperback

ISBN 1-57884-916-0

AANEWS
To subscribe, send a blank message to
<aanewson@ atheists.org>
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<aanewsoff@atheists.org>
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in the Subject line

Parsippany, New Jersey

Spring

2005

Page 23

The Probing Mind

OF BONES AND BONERS:


SAINT PETER AT THE VATICAN
Down in the Vatican cellar,
Catholics are 'venerating'
the bones of chickens, pigs,
and a mouse - in the belief
that they are the bones of
St. Peter. How this fraudulent situation came to be is
a tangled tale going back to
problems encountered by
Pope Pius XII when he tried
to find a place to stash his
predecessor.

Pope Pius XII said in his Christmas radio message on Dec. 23, 1950: "The
essential question is as follows - has the tomb of St. Peter really been
found? The final conclusion of the work and studies answers that question
with a most clear yes. The tomb of the Prince of the Apostles has been
found. A second question, subordinate to the first, concerns the relics of
the saint: have they been found?" ... New investigations, most patient and
accurate, were subsequently carried out with the results that we, comforted
by the judgment of qualified, prudent, and competent people, believe are
positive. The relics of Saint Peter have been identified in a way we believe
convincing ...
[W]e believe it our duty, in the present state of archaeological and
scientific conclusions, to give you and the church this happy announcement, bound as we are to honor sacred relics, backed by a reliable proof
of their authenticity ... [I]n the present case, we must be all the more eager
and exultant when we are right in believing that the few but sacred mortal
remains have been traced of the Prince of the Apostles, of Simon son of
Jonah, of the fisherman named Peter by Christ, of he [sic] who was chosen
by the Lord to found His church and to whom He entrusted the keys of His
kingdom ... until His final glorious return.
Pope Paul VI, June 26,19681

Like previous popes, Joseph


Ratzinger wants the secular world to believe that
the mythical water-walker's
mortal remains are part of
the religious capital he now
commands. To puncture the
new pope's pretensions, we
are reprinting this expose
which originally appeared
in American Atheist in the
spring of 1997.

Frank R. Zindler

Page 24

own in the basement of the


Vatican,
less than
twenty
feet beneath the high altar of
St. Peter's Basilica, there is an ugly,
graffiti-covered brick-and-plaster wall.
Inside the wall there is a rectangular cavity containing nineteen clear
Plexiglas boxes filled with old bones,
some of which are claimed to be the
mortal remains of St. Peter himself. A
small breach in the wall allows two of
the boxes and their bony contents to be
seen through the open bronze work of
a gate set some distance in front of the
wall. Ten of the bones thus carefully
preserved at this most holy focal point
in all of Christendom, however, are the
remains of domestic animals - goats,
sheep, cows, swine, and a chicken.f
Scripture tells us [Mk 14:30,72] that
Peter denied his master thrice before
the cock could crow twice. Could this
chicken be the remains of Peter's
fabled cock?

Spring 2005

The presence of pigs at the most


sacred focus of a church such as St.
Peter's is startling, to say the least.
When we reflect that Simon Peter
was supposed to have been Jewish
before converting to Catholicism, the
mixing of his alleged remains with
those of swine cries out for an explanation. None of the popes, however,
has ever even mentioned that pigs
were being venerated in his cellar - let
alone offered an explanation for this
astounding fact. *3

*Luigi
Cardini,
who
identified
the
numerous pig bones taken from the alleged
grave of Peter, noted that the combination
of species was typical of "those which one
normally finds in any rural area close to
farm houses and barns," adding that one
"is induced to think that this locality was
especially devoted to the rearing of hogs."
The perfect place to build the most famous
church in Christendom!

American Atheist

One box contains the skeleton of


a mouse. Perhaps it is being kept as
the universal standard church mouse.
The rest of the boxes, stowed away
to await the Second Coming, contain
what arguably may be considered to
be the fragmentary remains of a man
who was over the age of sixty at the
time of his death.
The bones have been certified to be
the veritable remains of the Prince of
Apostles himself, St. Peter. That these
are the actual remains of St. Peter we
cannot doubt: a successor of St. Peter,
Pope Paul VI, has .confirmed the fact
- although he never made it clear
how the mouse bones and barnyard
cattle parts functioned in Peter when
he was alive. *4 Most precious among
the relics remaining of Peter's skeleton in the Vatican are 29 fragments
of one of his skulls. (St. Peter's other
skull is preserved in a reliquary at the
Cathedral of St. John Lateran.r]
The skeleton and skulls now venerated as the remains of St. Peter are not
the only relics of the Prince of Apostles
to have been discovered by the Roman
Church, however. In 1949,5 Vatican
archaeologists discovered a different
skeleton of the bony saint, several
yards away from the wall in which the
bones presently worshipped reside.
The bones were reported to have been
found in a "hypogeum" - apparently a
rough cavity hollowed out at the base
of a wall coated with red plaster (the
so-called Muro Rosso or 'Red Wall'
against which the graffiti-covered wall
abuts (see Fig. 1). They were reported
to have been found in "a sepulchral
urn of plain terra cotta."

*In his 1968 announcement authenticating


this set of bones, Paul VI described them
as "once living members of Christ, temples
of the Holy Spirit, destined to glorious
resurrection."
'Back in 1910, a German scholar by the
name of Arthur Drews in a book titled Die
Petruslegende argued that St. Peter was
a mythical character, partly evolved from
the Roman god Janus - famous for his
two-faced nature. Perhaps Drews was too
conservative, having Peter be two-faced
when in fact the relics show him to have
been two-headed! (My annotated English
translation of this book has been brought
out by American Atheist Press under the
title The Legend Of Saint Peter.)

Parsippany,

New Jersey

------l .
~N

I
I
I

I
I

. ,. ,_...~i':."

-----------~--.-*-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-I
scale

S.

l. meters

Figure 1. Plan of the Red-Wall complex known as the Aedicula and alleged to
be the Tropaion for Peter mentioned by a churchman named Gaius around the year
CE 200. Broken line indicates a small cavity ("hypogeum") below the plane of the
drawing claimed by Pius XII to be the grave of St. Peter. Dotted line indicates the
cavity inside the graffiti wall (g) supposed to have contained the bones of Peter.
Dashed-and-dotted rectangle shows the position of the present high altar twenty feet
above the plane of the drawing. Circles within squares are the bases of two four-foot
marble pillars which formerly supported a broad stone slab, creating a low porch-like
structure resembling ossuary urn niches common in pagan tombs of ancient Rome.

The bones were kept for fourteen years by Pope Pius XII himself,
in his private apartment. Although
he later hedged somewhat concerning the authenticity of the bones, it
is obvious that privately he felt they
were genuine. After all, his personal
physician Dr. Galeazzi-Lisi and several medical experts had studied the
bones minutely chez Pape and had
stated that the bones were those of a
man, powerfully built, who had been
perhaps sixty-five or seventy years old
at death.6 Ifthat wasn't St. Peter, who
else could it have been?
A rather surprising
answer to
this question was given by Venerando
Correnti," an anthropologist hired by
the Vatican in 1956 to study the pope's
prized bones - the ones found in what
Pius had certified to be the genuine
tomb of St. Peter. Correnti first suspected that something was amiss
when he pulled a third fibula from
the pile of bones the pontiff had been
hoarding for so long. Normal humans,
of course, have only two fibulas - one
in each leg. Then he discovered five

Spring 2005

tibias to supplement the three fibulas.


This meant that he was dealing with
five to eight legs! Although Peter was
noted for his aquatic exploits - both as
a fisherman and a water-walker - he
was never mistaken for an octopus.
And so, Correnti quickly must have
realized the pope had been guarding
the remains of more than one person:
two men and an old woman, he finally
decided. The men were adjudged to
have been in their fifties when they
died, the woman in her seventies.
In addition to the human remains,
Correnti's collaborator Luigi Cardini
identified bones that once galumphed
around as hogs, sheep, and goats
- and some that scratched around
as chickens. Perhaps a fourth of the
bones extracted
from the alleged
authentic grave of Peter - fifty or sixty
fragments altogether'' - came from a
Roman barnyard instead of from the
shore of the Sea of Galilee. Unlike the
bones said to have been found inside
the graffiti-covered wall, the bones
actually taken from the "true tomb of
the Prince of Apostles" are not venerPage 25

ated. Quietly, they have been stored


away, perhaps in some other part of
the Vatican basement.
The mixing of sows and saints certainly creates a problem for Catholic
apologists. The presence of animal
bones mixed in with human bones
can easily be explained by a variety
of believable hypotheses if St. Peter
never existed as a historical figure or
ifthe bones have nothing to do with an
actual St. Peter; it is very difficult to
explain if any of the human bones discovered really are those of a
historical Prince of Apostles
and first pope.
There are other problems too. Why, for example,
should the remains of the
most famous
person
in
Catholic history be stashed
away in a grubby hollow
wall instead of being placed
in a magnificent
sarcophagus inside something
looking like a tomb? (According to the
sixth-century Liber Pontificalis, the
emperor Constantine built the basilica
at the site of the "Temple of Apollo"
and enclosed St. Peter's body in a fivefoot-high, cubical bronze structure. g)
Why is there no carefully chiseled
Latin inscription reading:

enclosed in it, the natural inference is


that it was located elsewhere - ruling
out the Vatican digs. Moreover, when
Eusebius wrote his Theophania in CE
333 (well after the completion of the
basilica), he said that the Romans had
honored Peter "with a splendid sepulcher overlooking the city - a sepulcher
to which come crowds from all over
the Roman Empire as though drawn
to a great sanctuary and temple of
God."l1 Again, no hint that the tomb
was inside a church. And if it was, why

tropaia. The Red Wall structure cannot


be a Tropaion of Gaius.
SUSPICIOUS HISTORY
OF THE DISCOVERIES
On Monday, 22 August 1949, the
front page of The New York Times
carried an article headlined "Bones
of Saint Peter Found Under Altar,
Vatican Believes." The subtitle stated
that the relics were "Reported to Be
in Urn Guarded by Pontiff" Written
by Camille M. Cianfarra,
the article announced that
"The bones of Saint Peter,
'Prince of the Apostles,'
who, according to Christian
tradition, was crucified in
Rome during the second
half of the first century
AD, are understood to have
been found less than twenty feet below the pavement
of St. Peter's
Basilica."
Without noting any contrast to honest,
scientific, archaeological procedures,
the article continued:

"Although Peter was noted


for his aquatic exploits both as a fisherman and a
water-walker - he was never
mistaken for an octopus."

PVT

HERE LIES SAINT PETER


PENANCE
PENCE IN POT

Amusingly, when Pope Paul VI


pronounced the relics authentic back
in 1968 he unwittingly highlighted
this fundamental deficiency by quoting
the fourth century church historian
Eusebius to the effect that the tomb
should have borne a label:
It is said that Paul was beheaded
by him (Nero) and Peter crucified at
Rome and the monuments inscribed
with the names of Peter and Paul still
testify to this and are still visited in
the cemeteries of the city of Rome.10

We may note further that Eusebius


speaks of cemeteries, not basilicas,
as housing the "monuments" of the
apostles. Since Eusebius - so intimate
with the emperor - must have known
of the newly-built St. Peter's Basilica
in Rome but didn't say anything about
one of the monuments being recently
Page 26

did the modern excavators find a miserable unmarked grave instead of "a
splendid sepulcher"?
Despite the underwhelming appearance of the miserable structure uncovered by the Vatican excavators, Paul VI
declared it to be not only the "tomb" of
St. Peter but the fabled "Tropaion of
Gaius" as well.
In his Ecclesiastical History [II xxv
6-7], Eusebius tells of an ecclesiastic
named Gaius who, around the year CE
200, was quarreling over who had the
best holy sites with a certain Proclus.
"Gaius," Eusebius writes, "in a written
dialog with Proclus, the leader of the
Phrygians, says the following about
the places where the sacred relics of
the apostles mentioned
[Peter and
Paul] are deposited: 'But I can point
out the tropaia of the apostles; for if
you go to the Vatican or the astian
way, you will find the tropaia of those
who founded this church'."
Even Catholic apologists agree
that Gaius was wrong about who
founded the Church of Rome, but
they still grasp at his allusion to the
tropaia of Peter and Paul. But what
are tropaia? Monuments?
Graves?
Tombs? Memorials? Relics? Despite
the arguments of Catholic apologists,
from the context of Gaius' argument
with Proclus it is clear that tombs or
graves can be ruled out as meanings of

Spring 2005

Vatican archaeologists who directed


the excavations have taken an oath
of secrecy and are therefore forbidden to confirm or deny the discovery.
However, statements
made over a
period of months by various persons in
the Vatican are said to have supplied
enough circumstantial
evidence that
the remains of Saint Peter have been
recovered in the hypogeum, or subterranean cell, where tradition said he
was buried.
This crypt was unearthed two years
ago in the course of secret excavations
in the Vatican Grottoes. The bones
are being preserved in an urn closely
guarded by Pope Pius XII himself, in
the private chapel next to his study,
Vatican circles said.

Concerning the all-important question of just where the holy bones had
been found, Cianfarra wrote that "In
the middle of the hypogeum Vatican
archaeologists
were understood
to
have found a sepulchral urn of plain
terra cotta. In it there were bones. The
Pope ... was informed immediately and
visited the crypt, in complete secrecy,
after the doors of the Basilica had been
closed to the public."
Actually, the excavations had been
going on in secret for more than a
American Atheist

decade when this story went to press.


Several days after Eugenio Pacelli had
been elected Pius XII, in March of
1939, he ordered Msgr. Ludwig Kaas,
the "Secretary and Administrator for
the Fabric of Saint Peter's" - a sort
of glorified head janitor - to find a
suitable place in the cellar to bury his
predecessor, Pius XI.
Why the
secrecy?
Cianfarra
explained:
According to officials the reason for
keeping the discovery secret is that the
Pontiff..before making the announcement which, they said, will certainly
be of tremendous interest for both
Roman Catholics and non-Catholics,
wants his archaeological experts to
gather proofs so incontrovertible that
no one will be able to challenge their
authenticity. Accordingly, tests were
said to have been made, the nature of
which was not disclosed.

Of course, this was an admission


that discovery of truth was not the
guiding principle in the decade-long
enterprise. The experts were "to gather
proofs" for predetermined conclusions,
not go where the evidence might lead.

The excavations... at least inasmuch as they concern the tomb of the


Apostle (explorations which have been
the object of our thoughtful attention
from the first months of our pontificate), and their scientific examination
have been brought to a happy conclusion ... Has the tomb of Saint Peter
really been found? To that question
the answer is beyond all doubt: Yes.
The tomb of the Prince of the Apostles
has been found. Such is the final conclusion after all the labor and study of
these years. ...
A second question, subordinate to
the first, refers to the relics of Saint
Peter. Have they been found? At the
side of the tomb remains of human
bones have been found. However, it is
impossible to prove with certainty that
they belong to the body of the Apostle.

It was not until the following year,


however, that the Vatican published
the official account of its underground
activities. Printed in Italian in two
great folio volumes, the report was
entitled
Explorations
Carried Out

Under The Confession Of Saint Peter


In The Vatican During The Years 1940-

1949.12 Notwithstanding
the impressive appearance of this treatise, it can
hardly be considered a sci"The Vatican proceedings were entific report of the excavations. It would not allow
no different than the 'research'
reconstruction of the discoveries as they occurred.
done by creationists who sign
Despite the interesting
an oath declaring what they
photographs
contained
in
these
volumes,
it is an
shall find if ever they should
admitted fact that phocarry out an investigation."
tographic
'control'
during the excavations was
completely lacking. Since
They had to make sure the data were
some structures were destroyed in the
'cooked' properly - so that "no one will
course of work, it is now impossible to
be able to challenge their authenticity."
reconstruct the scenes confronting the
The Vatican proceedings were no difexcavators as they worked.
ferent than the "research" done by
Perhaps the biggest shock one gets
creationists who sign an oath declarfrom these two tomes comes from the
ing what they shall find if ever they
almost complete lack therein of inforshould carry out an investigation.
mation on the bones or the circumThe pope was to wait until the
stances of their discovery: no informaend of his jubilee year, 1950, before
tion on which of the four investigators
saying anything more on the subject.
had found them, how many there were,
Strangely, when he did talk about the
nor what they looked like. And no menbones he backed off from the position
tion of any terra cotta ossuary urn.
everyone expected him to advance.
There are two diagrams which show
Reporting on the pope's Christmas
a spot labeled 0 for ossa ("bones"),
message broadcast on 23 December
roughly below the Muro Rosso. In the
1950, The New York Times quoted the
text there is the off-hand comment
pope the next day:
Par-sippany, New Jersey

Spring 2005

that "At the bottom of this [niche at


the base of the Red Wall] scattered
and intermingled on the ground were
found some human bones which were
collected with care."13
In a personal memoir by one of
the excavators, the Jesuit Engelbert
Kirschbaum,
we are told that "A
heap of human bones was found, as
if expressly concealed in the earth,
beneath the Red Wall, at the spot
where its foundations show the triangular break. They lay in a heap,
amfto:cacfeR!Irroughty, of 3Q centimetel'S,"l4'- E- wetnetej'- however, tells us
that "'F~ corresgonding sketches in
Esplorazioni:.. do not bring this aut
and require emendation." No corrected
diagram is presented, leaving us with
nothing that even claims to show the
true discovery site and situation of the
Red-Wall bones.
Concerning the space in the graffiti wall - the cavity which today contains the Plexiglas-boxed relics from
Old MacPeter's Farm - the official
report notes only that "In this little box
we found remains of organic material
and of bones, intermingled with dirt,
a strip of lead, two strands of silver
thread, and a coin from the Vis county
of Limoges, datable between the 10th
and 12th centuries."15
There is only one photograph
of these bones of contention in the
Explorations
report.
Reprinted
in
nearly every book written
on the
subject of St. Peter's bones, it shows
several human bones lying on the
dirt inside a triangular crevice under
the Muro Rosso. Readers of the report
can only suppose that this is what
the excavators saw when they first
reached this spot. But the photograph
was faked. A footnote in Kirschbaum's
memoir reveals that "They [the RedWall bones] had to be removed temporarily from this spot before they could
be photographed/'lf
What kind of archaeology is this?
Not only is there no minutely detailed
account of the layout and disposition of
the bones when they were discovered,
there is instead a completely false picture of the discovery! Instead of being
shown a picture of bones piled up about
a foot deep - thus indicating that this
was not an original burial - we see two
or three bones lying on the ground in
Page 27
/

what conceivably could be an original


burial. Just why is it that the bones
had to be removed before they could be
photographed? Only nefarious reasons
come to mind as possible answers.

Moreover, Kirschbaum's comment that


the bones had been found in a small
heap - implying that they had been
piled up by someone - is at variance
with the original report, of which he

" ...anthropological study of the Red-Wall


bones subsequently showed that they were
the remains of at least three individuals (one
of them a very old woman) and included 29
skull fragments and some livestock parts."
Although the official report gives
no useful information on the circumstances surrounding
the discovery
of the bones under the Red Wall,
Kirschbaum, as we have seen, does
mention the subject several times in
his memoir The Tombs Of St Peter & St
Paul17 and tries to account for the fact
that the bones were found piled up, not
scattered on the ground as implied by
the Explorations report and the faked
photograph. "It might be surmised," he
writes, "that scattered remains had
at one time been collected and placed
beneath the Red Wall. In that case,
anatomical investigation would have
showed that they belonged to different skeletons. Medical examination,
however, gave the contrary verdict, i.e.,
that all these bones belonged to one
and the same person. That person was
further described as an elderly and
vigorous man. The skull is missing."
A dead ringer for St. Peter!
Especially since it was believed that
Peter's skull was in a reliquary in the
Cathedral of St. John Lateran. d8 But
alas, poor Engelbert! As we have seen,
Correnti's anthropological study of the
Red-Wall bones subsequently showed
that they were the remains of at least
three individuals (one of them a very
old woman) and included 29 skull
fragments and some livestock parts.
*Pope Paul also authorized Correnti to
examine the Lateran
relic. In secret,
Correnti
studied
the fragments
and
expressed the opinion that "no conflict
existed between the Lateran skull and the
graffiti wall bones." Not surprisingly, no
official or scientific report has ever been
published, nor has any explanation been
provided for the existence of two skulls of
St. Peter.

Page 28

was a co-author. It had claimed that


the bones were found "scattered and
intermingled
on the ground." Both
accounts contradict the report in The
New York Times indicating that the
bones had been in a terra cotta urn in
the middle of a hypogeum. Worse yet,
all three seem to contradict the pope's
comment that the original set of bones
was found "at the side of the tomb"!
What difference does it make
whether the bones were scattered
or piled up when found, exposed or
enclosed in an urn or wall? A great
deal, as it turns out.
When Constantine built the old
St. Peter's Basilica over the surface of
a magnificent pagan cemetery ca. CE
320-325, numerous tombs and burials
were violated in the process. As the
supreme pontiff of the Roman religion,
Constantine could grant official par-

the north face of the so-called "Tomb of


the Egyptians," one of the many tombs
discovered beneath the floor of St.
Peter's, a pre-Constantinian, chest-like
structure was discovered filled with
human bones, obviously the remains of
earlier burials reburied when the tomb
was built.19
The mixtures of bones found by
the Vatican investigators - whether
we consider the bones found beneath
the Red Wall or in the cavity of the
graffiti wall - can be explained simply
as bones unavoidably or unexpectedly uncovered and collected by tomb
builders.

MORE SUSPICIOUS HISTORY


We have already seen that the
bones now venerated are those which
are supposed to have been found in
the cavity of the graffiti wall, not the
bones reported back in 1949 to have
been found in an urn at the base of the
Red Wall. Why is this? Ifthe true grave
of the apostle is the cavity at the base
of the Red Wall, why did Pope Paul VI
ignore the bones found in it and certify instead the bones associated with
the graffiti wall? In two words, the
answer almost certainly is "Margherita
Guarducci."
Margherita
Guarducci
was a
devoutly Catholic epigrapher engaged
by the Vatican in September of 1953 to
study the graffiti exposed over a decade
earlier - including the graffiti which

"Not surprisingly, no official or scientific


report has ever been published, nor has any
explanation been provided for the existence
of two sku lis of St. Peter."
don for this violatio sepulchri. Even
so, care was taken to minimize the
degree of outrage committed. When
his builders could not avoid disturbing a burial, the bones were carefully
stacked within sarcophagi. But this
respectful procedure for dealing with
the remains of disturbed burials existed long before the time of Constantine,
and was clearly practiced at the time
the so-called graffiti wall was built
beside the Red-Wall shrine alleged to
mark the site of St. Peter's burial. On

Spring 2005

covered the so-called "graffiti wall."


She decided that many of the graffiti involved a Christian secret code,
revealing not only that the spot had
been frequented (probably secretly) by
Christians up to the time Constantine
built his basilica over it, but also that a
cult of Peter had existed there. Much of
her "decipherment" is fanciful and fails
to recognize possible Mithraic significance in at least some of the graffiti.
(Abundant archaeological finds attest
the worship of Mithra as well as the
American Atheist

Great Mother on the Vatican hill


very close to the site of the present
church.)*
Naturally,
Guarducci
concluded
that all these Petrine graffiti meant
she was close to a site of great significance to Peter-worshipers.
What else
could it be but Peter's grave, as Pius

Fig. 2) is claimed to have read IIETPOC


ENI (Petros eni, "Peter is inside"). But
inside what? Were these tiny letters
on a big wall all there was to mark
the most important
tomb in all of
Christendom? If they were inscribed on
the Red Wall, wouldn't it imply Peter
was on the other side of the Red Wall

Figure 2. Actual-size sketch of the Red-Wall plaster graffito reconstructed to read


IIETPOC ENI (Petros eni, "Peter is inside"). Against this reading is the fact that there
is too much space between the EN and the I. In some photographs one can see what
looks like a second vertical stroke between the N and the I, making one suppose
that the third letter is H (eta) rather than I (iota). If that be true, it not only eliminates
"Peter is inside," it suggests a common epithet of Mithra broken into two lines:
IIETPE-rENHC (Petregenes, "Rock-Born"). But even ifthe first line does read Petros,
the epithet could refer to Mithra just as well as to the saint. Mithra bore the epithet
'Rock' long before the author of Matthew had Jesus give it to Simon the fisherman.
Of course, the graffito may simply be the scribble of some ancient teenager named
PETRONIOS!
XII already had concluded? Moreover,
one fragment of incised Red-Wall plaster seemed to clinch it. Written in tiny
Greek capital letters - letters no taller
than the capitals in the title of this
article - the graffito when whole (see

*We know that Mithra was worshipped


within yards of the Vatican high altar in
ancient times, and Mithraic graffiti could
be expected. Mithra, who also bore the
epithet of Rock (Petros in Greek), was a
keeper of the keys to the gates of heaven,
and the many key-shaped graffiti found by
Guarducci could apply to Mithra as well
as St. Peter. Moreover, the supposed ChiRho crosses interpreted
as proof-positive
of Christian presence at the site could be
Mithraic as well. The symbol was used as
an abbreviation for Chronos as well as for
Christos. Chronos, the god of time, was a
popular embodiment of Mithra.

Parsippany,

New Jersey

rather than below it? If Peter really


was under the Red Wall as originally
supposed, shouldn't the graffito have
been the Greek equivalent of "Peter is
below" instead of "Peter is inside"?
The plaster fragment had been
discovered by Antonio Ferrua, one of
the four original excavators. Although
it had not been seen when the marbled
cavity of the graffiti wall was originally studied, it suddenly appeared
one day late in December of 1950
when, for no special reason, Ferrua
had shone a light into the supposedly
empty chamber. He concluded that it
had become dislodged from a part of
the Muro Rosso onto which the graffiti wall abuts and had fallen into the
cavity./" According to Walsh, Ferrua
came to treat the piece of plaster as
his own property, withholding it from
study by other scholars. Worse yet, he

Spring 2005

included an incorrect sketch of it in an


article written for La Cioilta Cattolica,
and did not relinquish the piece to the
Vatican until 1957.21
As is often the case with evidence
adduced to support religious claims,
one has to use a bit of imagination and
"reconstruction"
to get from what is
real to what is claimed. In point offact,
not all of the letters in the supposed
message IIETPOC ENI are to be found
on the surviving bit of plaster, and
not all of what can be seen upon the
piece necessarily fits easily into the
reconstruction.
If the piece of plaster
simply fell off the Red Wall, wouldn't
it be logical to examine the Red Wall
carefully to see if the missing letters
are still there in situ? No one reports
having done this, or even suggests that
it would be desirable to do so. The closest thing to recognition of the problem
is found in Guarducci's official report
of her study of the graffiti.22 "The
detachment from the wall," she writes,
"unfortunately
had the consequence
of altering the margins of the fragment so that it is no longer possible to
restore it to its exact position on the
face of the Muro Rosso."
How handy! If the graffito were in
fact Mithraic or of some other pagan
nature, we will never be able to know.
All we have left is a tiny fragment
which arguably fits into a sentence
meaning "Peter is inside," and we have
no way of knowing if the fragment had
been altered while in the possession of
Antonio Ferrua.

CONFESSION IN THE
CONFESSlONE
With so many graffiti supposedly indicating the presence of Peter,
Margherita
Guarducci was puzzled
that almost nothing was found inside
the cavity of the graffiti wall. It was
1953. More than ten years had gone
by since the excavations
had been
completed and she just happened to
be in the part of the church known as
the Confessione, standing before the
graffiti wall with Giovanni Segoni,
one of the Vatican workmen. As John
Evangelist Walsh tells it,23 she recalled
that Segoni had taken part in the work
of excavation and so she asked him if
he remembered anything having been
Page 29

them for safekeeping .... Besides lumps


The Reader's Digest editor John
in the wall cavity. To this not only did
of mortar and brick which had fallen
Walsh indicates that very early in
he answer yes, he confessed that he
down from the wall-fill above, there
the proceedings a rift had developed
himself had taken a bunch of bones out
were many human bones, all bleached
between the four excavators and Msgr.
of the marbled space, put them into a
to a stark whiteness. Reverently, Kaas
Kaas - who "knew little or nothing of
wooden box, and stored them away. He
placed them one by one in a box ...
archaeological technique." Soon nearly
then led her to a room filled with dozall contact between Kaas and the team
ens of boxes holding "bones and other
Without
telling the investigahad ceased. Walsh elaborates:
things turned up in the early digging"
tors what they had done, Kaas and
- none of these remains being known
Segoni hid the box of bones away
It was Kaas' practice late each eveto the four excavators who authored
in
the Vatican basement. And then
ning, after everyone had departed and
the official Vatican report! Obtaining
Kaas died, taking to the grave pricethe
excavations
lay
quiet,
...
to
tour
the
a particular box, he handed Guarducci
less information concerning the most
whole area accompanied by one of the
the remains of an identifying attached
foremen of the Sampietrini, Giovanni
remarkable
pagan Roman cemetery
small., card which is alleged to have
Segoni. Almost never present during
ever discovered, as well-as IDf8-rmati{)lFsaId simply: "ossa - urna - graf," i.e.,
the day's work, on these daily tours
necessary for understanding- too true
"Iones - urn - graf[fiti wall]."
Kaas would inspect every detail of the
circumstances of the supposed= to:rnDWily had a common workman done
most recent digging and dismantling.
and relics of St. Peter.
As the work beneath the body of the
such a thing? A monsignor had made
Because she believed the bones
basilica brought to light stray parts
him do it.
produced
by Segoni to have been
of skeletons, he had made it his perThe monsignor had been none
associated with the graffiti wall, and
sonal duty to see that no human bones
other than Msgr. Ludwig Kaas, nomishould, in the confusion of cleaning
because she believed its graffiti plus
nal head of the excavation project and
the Petros eni fragment of
author of the glowing preface
the Red Wall proved that
"The
four
excavators
not
only
were
for the Explorations report. It
the grave complex was none
was the same monsignor who
Four Stooges, they were Four willing other than the "Tropaion
told of the "methodical exploraof
Gaius,"
Margherita
Stooges."
tion" conducted "with the strictGuarducci persuaded Pope
est scientific principles," of solvPaul VI to allow the osteoup, become mixed with the mounds
ing "scientific and technical problems
logical
studies
we have already disof dirt and debris and be accidentally
with the most rigorous method and
cussed. Ultimately, she persuaded him
thrown out. Whenever bones were
absolute objectivity." It was the same
that the bones in the box taken from
found, including an occasional skull,
Msgr. Kaas who assured readers ofthe
he had them placed in special boxes
the storeroom were those of the legendofficial report concerning "scientific
and stored away for reburial. The other
ary first pope himself But is there any
scruples" and wrote of "illustrating
four knew of Kaas' inspection routine
reason we should believe it?
with sober objectivity and documented
and grudgingly accepted it, though
Can we be certain that the bones
they were seldom informed of its daily
completeness
the discoveries
and
in
the
wooden box really were once
25
results.
ascertained facts of the last decade
inside the graffiti wall? Can we be cerdetermined to clear the path of the
tain that whatever bones were in the
Readers may note that the four
prejudices of now-outworn polemic,
graffiti wall were once in the cavity
excavators not only were Four Stooges,
the path on which we seek the truth
beneath the Red Wall? Can we be certhey were Four willing Stooges. It
and nothing but the truth," concluding
tain that the Red-Wall structure really
appears that all the results of the
with a reference to the "very serious
was the "Tropaion of Gaius"? And even
explorations were rendered meaningwork carried out with objective criteif it is, is there any reason to suppose
less by the actions of Kaas. At a miniria, sustained by rigorously scientific
mum, it means that we have no reliGaius had reliable knowledge? Is there
arguments/'e+
the slightest reason to suppose that
able information concerning any of the
Encountering
effusions such as
Vatican bones. The proceedings overall
any of the non-barnyard bones found
these, one naturally is led to say,
near the monument belong to Peter?
were too confused to be dignified with
"Methinks he doth protest too much!"
According
to Walsh,26 Segoni
the adjective "scientific." We continue.
- and rightfully so in the case at hand.
filed an affidavit (now in the Vatican
For Kaas is charged with having saboOne evening early in 1942, a day or
archives) on 7 January 1965 which
taged much of the excavation proceedso after the team had first exposed the
noted, among other things, that the
ings and having made any pretense
graffiti wall and peered briefly into the
bones were all stark white. But apart
of "scientific objectivity" a laughing
man-made cavity, intending to return
from the mouse bones, none of the
later for a closer look, Kaas had come
matter. If any part of the charges be
bones
examined by Luigi Cardini*27
to the area on his rounds, along with
true, the entire matter of St. Peter's
the
foreman.
Segoni...
inspected
the
grave and bones need be taken no more
cavity with a light. When he reported
*Photographs
in the same book clearly
seriously than a Three Stooges film.
what appeared to be a number of
bones mixed with some debris, Kaas
unhesitatingly
told him to remove

Page 30

Spring 2005

show the contrast between the white mouse


bones and the dark animal and human
bones.

American Atheist

were white. Many were quite dark,


yellowish or brown, due largely to
adhering soil. Moreover, the note
attached to the bone box indicates the
bones had been in an urn - urna - just
as reported by The New York Times
back in 1949. That would seem to rule
out the graffiti wall, which no one has
reported to have contained an urn. t
Was Segoni lying about the color ofthe
bones or about which bones had been
in the wall? Of course, he might just
have been confused - considering how
many bones he had helped to hide.
As to whether or not the bones in
question had once been in the ground
beneath the Muro Rosso, studies of

the basilica if that had in fact occurred.


We can only conclude that whatever
the mysterious Tropaion might have
been, it is not to be found under the
high altar of St. Peter's.

UPON WHICH ROCK TO BUILD


THE CHURCH?
While we can be sure that none of
the bone collections discovered under
the Vatican have anything to do with
any historical St. Peter, we still need
to explain the fact that Constantine
seems to have been convinced that
Peter's grave was indeed located near
what became the focal point of the

"Was Segoni lying about the color of the bones


or about which bones had been in the wall? Of
course, he might just have been confused - considering how many bones he had helped to hide."
the soil associated with the bones in
the box produced by Segoni indicate
they never resided in the "true tomb
of Peter." Thermal analysis curves
published by Lauro and Negretti28
rule out the Red-Wall site, and these
authors themselves relate the bonebox soil to a different grave.
Did Gaius know where Peter's
tomb really was? We must realize we
are dealing with a second-hand report
given by the notorious Eusebius of
Caesarea - a not especially trustworthy source. Moreover, the Latin
version of Eusebius' version of what
Gaius had written a century before
him places the Tropaion of Peter at
a different place than does the Greek
version! The Greek version has it on
the Vatican hill itself; the Latin places
it on a public road leading to the
Vatican.29 Reflecting on the fact that
Eusebius knew of the newly-built St.
Peter's Basilica when he retailed the
polemic of Gaius, it is impossible to
believe he would not have mentioned
the incorporation of the Tropaion into
tThe New York Times reported that Vatican
staff had found bones in a terra cotta urn,
not a marble-lined cavity. Was the story of
the urn made up by some Vatican official,
or is an important part of the evidence still
being hidden?

Parsippany, New Jersey

church he erected. The project required


not only the desecration
of many
pagan tombs, but the cutting away
of a large part of the Vatican hillside
and the infilling of a large platform
on the slope below. It would have been
much easier and cheaper to locate the
church elsewhere in the neighborhood.
Clearly, some tradition relatable to St.
Peter must have led to this extravagance. There is no good reason to suppose, however, that the "St. Peter" of
this tradition was the same as the St.
Peter of Catholic tradition.
The Vatican hill in ancient times
was a place where many deities were
worshipped - including some I believe
contributed much to the "biographies"
of St. Peter, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus.
Numerous altars to Cybele (the Great
Mother or Magna Mater and prototype
of Mary) have been found very close to
St. Peter's Cathedral, and in 1949 a
pagan altar was dug up in the Piazza
San Pietro - just several yards north
of the statue of Saint Pete himself! The
altar is inscribed with the names not
only of the Great Mother, but of Mithra
and her son Attis as well.30 Attis, we
may remember, was a dying and resurrecting god who bore the title of Papa
("Father"), just as did the Mithraic
pontiff and the pope today. Mithra,

Spring 2005

the dying and resurrecting god born


of a virgin on 25 December, not only
bore the epithet Peter ("Rock"), but was
often represented as carrying the key
to a gate of heaven. A key was just as
much a Mithraic symbol as a symbol of
St. Peter - and Mithra had it earlier!
Very close to the Vatican cult
complex is the Janiculum hill where,
according to the testimony of the apocryphal Acts of Peter and Paul, Peter
was crucified upside-down. Here too
in ancient times the oldest of Italian
gods, Janus, was worshipped. (By the
first century, Janus had largely fused
with Mithra - and with St. Peter as
well.) Interestingly, the Feast of St.
Peter is celebrated on 18 January, the
date on which the sun enters the sign
of Aquarius - an alias of Janus and
the beginning of the Mithraic zodiac.
Janus too was a fisherman,
since
Pisces follows Aquarius. He is the oldest god said to have held the keys to
the gates of heaven.
Given just this sampling of information on the religious significance of
the Vatican hill and its environs, can
we be surprised that someone was
able to convince Constantine that St.
Peter was to be found there? For at
least a century before Constantine,
"tour guides" were taking advantage
of Christian credulity by "pointing out"
(to use a phrase of the second-century
churchman Origen) the sacred sites
where every miracle in the Bible supposedly took place. It can hardly be
doubted that Constantine's mother St.
Helena (a former barmaid who gave
up entertaining the troops when she
became attached to Constantius, the
future Caesar) was duped by such con
artists when she "discovered" the site
in Bethlehem where Jesus was born
and the place on the Mount of Olives
whence he was yanked up to heaven.
We can only suppose the fellow who led
her to the "true cross" on which Jesus
was crucified was richly rewarded by
the gullible empress. Although we have
no documentary evidence to indicate
that St. Helena was involved in the
siting of her murderous son's Vatican
basilica, it is altogether possible. But
if it was not she who led Constantine
to the building site, certain it is that
there was no shortage of entrepreneurs who, when asked about a man
Page 31

who had borne the keys of heaven,


could have "pointed out" the same or
an equally suitable spot.
CONCLUSION
When Pope Pius XII told his
Christmas radio audience that the
tomb of St. Peter had been found,
he was wrong. When Pope Paul VI
announced in June of 1968 that the
bones of the apostle had been identified, he too was wrong. An aura of
chicanery amplified by incompetence
surrounds these modern relics no less
than it enfolds all the other relics of
Catholic Christianity. We have just
as much reason to believe that Peter's
eleventh-century skull at the Lateran
is genuine, or that all the teeth claimed
to have come from John the Baptist
are genuine - teeth numerous enough
to fit out dentures for a crocodile.And
that, of course, is no reason at all.
REFERENCES
1 "Text of Announcement by Pope Paul
VI Concerning the Relics," The New York
Times, June 27,1968.
2Luigi
Cardini,
"Risultato
dell'esame
osteologico dei resti scheletrici di animali,"
in: Le Reliquie di Pietro Sotto la Confessione
delta Basilica Vaticana, by Margherita
Guarducci,
Libreria
Editrice Vatican a ,
1965, pp. 161-168.
3Luigi Cardini, ibid., p. 168.

Ubersetzung der Syrischen

Uberlieferung,

2nd Ed. by AdolfLaminski, Die Griechischen

Christlichen
Schriftsteller
Der Ersten
Jahrhunderte, Akademie Verlag, Berlin,
1992, p.175.
12B.M. Apollonj Ghetti, A. Ferrua, E. Josi,
and E. Kirschbaum,
Esplorazioni Sotto

La Confessione Di San Pietro In Vaticano


Eseguite Negli Anni 1940-1949, Two
Volumes, Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana,
Citta del Vaticano, 1951.
13Esplorazioni, Vol. I, p. 120.
14Kirschbaum,op. cit., pp. 91, 223.
15Esplorazioni, p. 162.
16Kirschbaum,op. cit., pp. 91, 223.
17Kirschbaum,op. cit., pp. 195f.
18Walsh, op. cit., p. 166.
19JocelynToynbee and John Ward Perkins,

The Shrine of St. Peter and the Vatican


Excavations, Longmans, Green and Co.,
London, 1956, p. 53.
20Walsh,op. cit., p. 75.

JONIO~S fY:"...E:.N ~SPl:.ND.D


F~OM- StHOOl FoR uRN 'Nt:;,
Tf\E. <YfJ.\E:~
~
/<.,JDS' COMIC
BOOKS.'

21Walsh,op. cit., p. 160.


22Margherita
Guarducci,

I Graffiti Sotto
La Confessione Di San Pietro In Vaticano,
Vol. II, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Citta del
Vaticano, 1958, p. 396.
23Walsh,op. cit., pp. 87f{.
24Esplorazioni, Vol. I, pp. VII-XI.
25Walsh,op. cit., pp. 78ff.
26Walsh,op. cit., pp. 168-169.
27Cardini, op. cit., p. 168.
28Carlo Lauro and Gian Carlo Negretti,
"Risultato
dell'analisi
petrografica
dei
campioni di terra," in: Le Reliquie di Pietro

Sotto la Confessione delta Basilica Vaticana,


by Margherita Guarducci, Libreria Editrice
Vaticana, 1965, pp. 169-179.
29Daniel Wm. O'Connor, Peter in Rome:

The Literary, Liturgical, and Archaeological


Evidence, Columbia University Press, New
York, 1969pp95-96.
30Esplorazioni, Vol. I, p. 15.

I'VE. /oJ ~VE..R.


~MOR..~

fROOb OJ:
~/!J\.'

4The New York Times, op. cit.


5Camille M. Cianfarra, The New York
Times, 22 August 1949, p. l.
6John Evangelist Walsh, The Bones of Saint
Peter, Collins Fount Paperbacks, Bungay,
Suffolk, 1982, p. 59.
7Venerando
Correnti,
"Relazione
dello
studio compiuto su tre gruppi di resti
scheletrici umani gia rinvenuti sotto la
Confessione delIa basilica vaticana," in:

Le Reliquie di Pietro Sotto la Confessione


delta Basilica Vaticana, by Margherita
Guarducci,
Libreria
Editrice Vaticana,
Rome, 1965, pp. 83-160.
8Walsh,op. cit., p. 103.
9Engelbert Kirschbaum, The Tombs Of St
Peter & St Paul, translated by John Murray,
St. Martin's Press, New York, 1959, pp. 51,

219 n. 3.
10"Text of Announcement by Pope Paul
VI Concerning the Relics," The New York
Times, June 27, 1968. [Emphasis mine]
IIHugo
Gressmann,
Eusebius
Werke,

Dritter Band, Zweiter Teil, Die Theophanie.


Die Griechischen
Bruchetiiche
und

Page 32

Spring 2005

American Atheist

SPIRITS, SOULS, AND


CLONES:

The Probing Mind

BIOLOGY'S LATEST CHALLENGE


TO THEOLOGY

Since both John Paul II and


Cardinal Ratzinger (now
Pope Benedict XVI) have
vigorously sought to suppress embryonic stem cell
research and human cloning, it may be instructive
to consider the real reason
popes have to oppose this
branch of humanitarian science: the certified reproductive cloning of a human
being would be the reductio
ad absurdum of the theological notion that there is such
a thing as a soul. For this
reason we are reprinting this
article by Frank R. Zindler
that appeared in these pages
back in 1997 when the cloning of Dolly the sheep was
first reported.

~---~~~--------

ince the time of Charles


Darwin, biology has been theology's worst nightmare. The
challenge of Copernicus and Galileo
- even though it took the Church of
Rome almost five centuries to adjust
to it - was trivial compared to the
frontal assault unleashed
upon
Christian theology in 1859 with the
publication of Charles Darwin's On
The Origin Of Species. Although it
took less than a century and a half
for theology's chief mystagogue publicly to 'accept' the reality of evolution (without naming Darwinl), the
acceptance was only conditional.
Indeed, in October of 1996 when
Pope John Paul II declared the
theory of evolution to be "more than
just a hypothesis," he stopped far
short of accepting the principle in
its major implication: that humanity
in all its aspects and in its essence
is the product of blind, unthinking,
physicochemical processes of nature.
Catholics may be permitted to accept
the obvious fact that their bodies
evolved, but not their spirits or souls.
Even if it is no longer true that "only
God can make a tree," Catholics
must believe that only a scheming
deity can make a human soul. They
must believe that it is this soul that
makes a body human.
The reality of biological evolution poses an insoluble problem for
theologies that posit the existence
of an undetectable commodity called
the soul - an entity that despite its
insubstantiality makes us human
beings possessed of the unique, unanimalian faculty of 'free will,' and
allows for the survival of our personalities beyond the grave. Why the

Parsippany, New Jersey

Spring 2005

Formerly a professor of biology


and geology, Frank R. Zindler is
now a science writer. He is a member of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science,
the New York Academy of
Science, the Society of Biblical
Literature,
and the American
Schools of Oriental Research. He
is the Editor of American Atheist.
Summer 1997 American Atheist
Press

----~---- _.
-,,-

; Frank R. Zindler

resurrection of our physical bodies is


also scheduled in most theological
time-tables is a curious mystery. If
our personalities fly off at death with
the soul's release, the body seems to
be a redundancy unneeded in the
afterlife. As Omar Khayyam put it
so long ago in his Rubaiyat:
Why, if the Soul can fling the
Dust aside,
And naked on the Air of Heaven
ride,
Were't not a Shame-were't not
a Shame for him,
In this clay carcass crippled to
abide?
Of course it might be argued
that
disembodied
spirits
could
not feel pain, and without bodies
capable of being tortured physically
hell's fury would be lost. But this
raises a Cartesian question of how
an immaterial soul can be affected
by a material body - and vice-versa.
Despite Descartes' suggestion, it
doesn't seem that the pineal gland is
up to the challenge.
To return to the threat to theology posed by evolutionary biology: if
what really counts about us is our
souls and not our bodies, why did
the god of Christendom wait so many
billions of years for our inessential
bodies to evolve by the bumbling,
painful, and wasteful process of
natural selection? Why didn't he just
zap our souls into existence at the
dawn of the Precambrian Era (right
after he allegedly separated light
from darkness) and forget about our
bodies? Why did Superspook wait so
long to bring the spiritual dimension
Page 33

into the physical framework of space


and time?
If it be admitted that our bodies
evolved from the bodies of animals
possessed of neither souls nor spirits, and that injections of souls or
spirits are unitary acts of a god operating within the limits of space and
time, embarrassing questions leap to
mind.
It is certain that we are descended, generation after generation, from
ancestors who are less human-like
as the line of descent is traced
back to Homo erectus, Homo habilis, Australopithecus, or even more
primitive primates. Nevertheless, it
is also clear that no particular generation in this line differed any more
from its parent generation than do
we from our parents. So how did
the god in charge of evolution decide
which generation had become just
human enough to warrant the infusion of souls?
We moderns are prone to
lament the "generation gap" that
separates us from our parents or
(more frequently) from our children.
But imagine the magnitude of the
generational chasm the pope must

Since it is the theological doctrine of spirits or souls that is


most affected, before we consider
the implications of developments
in modern biology it is necessary
to remind ourselves of just how it
is that theology came to be saddled
with the burden of belief in spirits or
souls in the first place.
Sometime in the course of prehistory after language had evolved,
our ancestors began to puzzle over
the question "What is life?" or its

"There is a further problem with popes


allowing our bodies to evolve, a problem
not noted by John Paul II but pointedly
discussed by his predecessor Pius XII
in his 1950 encyclical Humani generis.
Pius recognized that the whole Christian
doctrine of original sin would fall apart
if 'Adam' turned out to be a population
of hominids rather than a specific male
individual from whom cloning-goneawry produced a female. The reasoning
is clear. If there never were an actual
Adam who ate the forbidden fruit, there
never could have been a primal act of
disobedience, the 'original sin.' If there
was no original sin for Jehovah to pass
on to innocent descendants of the sinner,
there would be no need of redemption. If
there be no need of redemption, redeemers (usually spelled with a capital R) are
not needed, and Christ is sent to the
ranks of the unemployed. Pius therefore
sensibly outlawed acceptance of "polygenism" - the biological fact that we are
descended from a whole population of
ancestors, not just a single Adam with
the help of an after-thought Eve.

The pope's actual words on this


issue (as translated by Msgr. Ronald A.
Knox from the divinely inspired Latin)
were as follows:
There are other conjectures, about
polygenism (as it is called), which
leave the faithful no such freedom of
choice. Christians cannot lend their
support to a theory which involves
the existence, after Adam's time, of
some earthly race of men, truly so
called, who were not descended ultimately from him, or else supposes
that Adam was the name given to
some group of our primordial ancestors. It does not appear how such
views can be reconciled with the
doctrine of original sin, as this is
guaranteed to us by Scripture and
tradition, and proposed to us by the
Church. Original sin is the result of
a sin committed, in actual historical
fact, by an individual man named
Adam, and it is a quality native to
all of us, only because it has been
handed down by descent from
him."!

Page 34

believe appeared somewhere along


the line between Pithecanthropus
erectus and Priestus psedophilius.
There must have been a generation
that could have told its parents:
"Hey, mom and dad! We just became
human beings, with all the rights
and privileges pertaining thereto.
We have souls, you don't. We'll go to
heaven after we die. You, however,
will rot like rutabagas when you die.
There's no transfer option on your
trolley ticket!"
Indeed, Darwinism is an embarrassment to theology.*
Spirits and Souls

Spring 2005

inverse "What is death?" Not a one


of those benighted people had ever
had a single course in biochemistry
or molecular biology. They didn't
even know that the main function
of human beings was the production of carbon dioxide and urea! The
invisible chemical marriages and
divorces that constitute the process
known as 'living' were unsuspected.
Our predecessors even thought they
thought with their hearts, and that
their consciences were in their kidneys- t Most of them couldn't tell the
difference between brains and bone
marrow - a distinction unrecognized
in many languages to this day! The
supposedly god-guided authors of
the -Iudeeo-Christian scriptures also
were ignorant in this regard, and so
they mention brains not even once
in their Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek
compositions - making the Bible a
truly brainless piece of literature!
There must have been many
occasions where a person died suddenly, without benefit of anatomyaltering knives, spears, or projectiles. Today we would suppose such
a person to have suffered a heart
attack or stroke. To the ancients,
however, there was no obvious anatomical difference between the newly
dead individual and the person who
a short time before had been a sentient, active human being. The only
obvious difference between the live
and dead bodies was the presence
or absence of breath. Breath was the
elan vital, the vital force.
The vivifying function of breath
came to be depicted in the second
of the two creation myths placed
at the beginning of the Hebrew

t Although modern translations of the


Bible try to change its wording as much
as possible to avoid embarrassment, the
unimproved editions of the King James
Version have numerous passages indicating that the biblical authors thought
a person's conscience resided in the
kidneys - or 'reins' as they were called
in 1611. Most notable is Psalm 73, verse
21, which has the psalmist lament "Thus
my heart was grieved, and I was pricked
in my reins."
American Atheist

Bible. Yahweh molds "Adam" from


the dust of the earth, but the poor
fellow exhibits absolutely no get-upand-go - until Yahweh breathes into
him "the breath of life" and Adam
"becomes a living soul." (Why a god
who can live even in outer space
would be possessed of breath is an
unsolved mystery. Do gods need oxygen for some mystical metabolism?)
The idea that breath is life, or
that breath is the essence of a person
became enshrined in the very vocab-

ulary with which -Iudeso-Christian


theology is written. Our common
English word spirit derives from
the Latin word spiritus, meaning

'breath'. The Holy Ghost of Christian


Trinitarian mythology is nothing but
'the holy breath' (to hagion pneuma)
in the Greek Bible. *

*Why would a god need to breathe - apart from the fact that humans created gods in their
own images at a time when the vacuum of outer space was yet unknown? It may be suggested that the god of Abraham and Ichabod had to have breath to be used only once in the
history of the universe, when creating Adam. But it seems odd that a perfect being would
pack useless baggage through most of eternity. When we realize that the third member
of the Trinity is nothing but breath, we see that at least one-third of the Christian god is
totally useless. Considering that the vast majority of the volume of the universe has no air
in it, and thus cannot be used for breathing, it would appear that Jehovah's breath is less
useful than an Albanian credit card.

Split-Soul Soup
Roman Catholic member of the mandatory motherhood movement recently was asked what happens
when a single zygote (fertilized egg) splits and turns into
twins - whether each baby would come out with half a
soul, or if one would have a whole soul and the other would
be a soulless zombie. The Roman Catholic readily
replied that since god is omniscient, He would know
in advance that the single zygote would produce
two babies, and thus He would zap two souls into
the single zygote - making it possible for us to
commit double murder by flushing a single
cell down the toilet!
Whatever the case mayor may not
be with fully separate twins, there is a
problem when a single zygote begins to
form twins but doesn't divide completely,
as in the case of Siamese twins. What happens
when the separation ends with two bodies but only one
head? Or two heads but only one body? Or how about two
partial heads sharing one brain? Or one body, one head, and
no brain? And how about the not uncommon condition where
the object born looks more like a slug-filled cabbage than a
vertebrate? How many souls does it have? What about the
case where twins form, but one never develops beyond early
stages of differentiation and remains as a parasitic growth
in the abdominal cavity of the other twin? Does the parasite
have a soul, and will it be resurrected in glory?
It is now possible to take normal zygotes and separate
them after the early stages of cell division into clumps of
cells which will form twins, triplets, or litters. If this were done
with human zygotes, would Jehovah - knowing that some
unbelieving scientist was planning to make a clone out of the
zygote - zap into it enough souls to go around? If so, this
means we would be able to control a god! If we wanted a
god to make more souls for us to experiment with (if experimenting with souls were possible), all we would have to do is
divide the conceptus up into the number of souls we wanted
that god to create. Neat!

Parsippany, New Jersey

If we were to divide a conceptus in two, let one part grow


into a baby, and deep-freeze the other to be used for artificial
implantation and surrogate pregnancy ten years later, would
the part to be frozen have a soul? Where would it be located
in the deep-freeze? What if the freezer were to go off several
years
later, and the would-be twin were never to
make it past the four-celled stage? Would
the god know in advance, and not give
it a soul? Or would he give it a soul
even though it will never become a
baby - as happens naturally in more
than one-third of all conceptions? If
the deity gives the never-to-be twin
a soul, will it go to hell? Limbo? How
about caviar heaven?
As interesting as the previous
experiment may be - since it gives
humans the power to control a god's acts - there is an even
more interesting problem for the compulsory pregnancy
people to solve. It is now possible to take two, three, or any
small number of fertilized eggs - each one of which might by
itself become a baby - and fuse them all together to make
just one mosaic baby. If each zygote has one soul at conception, then this composite baby must have two, three, or more
souls! Of course, a prescient god might know that some of
these zygotes would be fused and have no need of their own
souls, and Divine Wisdom might create some zygotes without
any souls at all. But this, of course, would violate the Roman
Catholic teaching that every zygote has at least one soul.
We will leave it to the theologians to decide how
many souls result when one fuses a human zygote with a
genetically nearly identical chimpanzee zygote. Will the parthuman/part-ape creature have a soul at all? Will its hybrid
body be resurrected after the sounding of the last trump? Will
it wear golden slippers with openings at the sides to accommodate the prehensile big toes?
Reprinted from Dial-An-Atheist Greatest Hits From Ohio, by Frank
R. Zindler. 1991 by American Atheist Press.

Spring 2005

Page 35

If spirits are simply entities


composed of breath, all sorts of odd
theological doctrines become understandable. Since breath is a physical thing (you can feel your breath
when you blow
upon your hand,
and you can often
smell it as well),
it was once reasonable to believe
that one's 'spirit'
could exist outside
and independent
.
of the body. (The mixing of gases and
diffusive dissipation of the breath
would not be discovered until almost
modern times.) If the spiritlbreath
can exist outside the body, it must
go somewhere after death - or after
sneezing for that matter.
The custom of saying "God bless
you" or making some other magical
gesture after one sneezes derives,
without question, from the primitive
notion that there is a danger that
evil breaths or spirits - lurking in
the air around pneumatically challenged individuals - will rush in
to 'take possession' of their bodies
before their own spirits can return.
It probably would be un-Christian
to doubt that most cases of 'demonic
possession' occurred as a result of
solitary sneezes occurring when
there was no one around to say "God
bless you."
Of course, not only evil breaths
could be imagined as taking possession of people. In fact, it appears
that the main function of the third
member of the Christian Trinity
(the 'Holy Spirit') was to take possession of entire groups of people all
at once. Whereas the god of the Old
Testament could only inspire (lit.
'breathe into') his prophets, the Holy
Spirit - a.k.a. the Holy Ghost - of the
New Testament could be inhaled by
an entire congregation all at once,
as in the case of "Pentecost" [Acts 2:
1-4] when the apostles are claimed
to have been taken over by a spirit
disguised as "tongues of fire." (If
dragons can have fiery breath, why
not gods?) Moreover, the Holy Spirit

was nothing less than the breath of


the resurrected Jesus, as revealed in
John 20:22, which reports that JC
"breathed on them and said to them,
'receive the Holy Spirit'." What could

When Christian
theologians
came into the fray, it was concluded
that the soul was present in the
fcetus formatus but not in the fcetus
informatus,
and
that
'formation'
took place later
in female fetuses
than in male ones.
Mostly, however,
it was believed
that
ensoulment
occurred at the
time of 'quickening,' around the fifth month of pregnancy when fetal movements first
are easily detectable. Abortion was a
serious sin only after quickening.
Discoveries in biology after the
invention of the microscope, however,
caused all this to change. The discovery that humans, like chickens, had
eggs, and that it was eggs fertilized
by spermatozoa that developed into
fetuses led to the notion that 'life'
began at conception (fertilization).
(That life exists in sperms and eggs
even before fertilization is a fact with
which Catholic prelates even today
cannot deal.) In 1869 Pope Pius X
reversed his church's long-held view
that the soul arrives in the fifth
month of pregnancy and declared
instead that the mystical woozit
made its appearance at the moment
of conception. Only a god can make
a soul, and only fertilized eggs can
receive them. If the zygote (fertilized
egg) has a soul, it is a human being.
It is equal, therefore, to the mother
that gives it berth and birth. It is a
single-celled person!
Although this is the opinion held
by most Right- to-Single-Celled -Lifers
fire-bombing women's clinics today, it
is fraught with difficult implications
for Compulsory Pregnancy Party
partisans. If only one soul is infused
into a single zygote, what happens
when that zygote splits into two separate pieces and each develops into
a complete fetus? This is how identical twins are produced. Does only
one twin have a soul? Presumably,
souls cannot reproduce and certainly
can't divide. Or can they? And what

"When we realize that the third member of


the Trinity is nothing but breath, we see
that at least one-third of the Christian god
is totally useless."

Page 36

show more clearly than this that the


concept of spiritual entities is the
result of a biological misunderstanding of the nature of breath?

The Souls of Embryos


The notion that it is breath that
vivifies led quite naturally to the
idea that a fetus becomes alive at
birth, when it takes its first breath.
But it would seem that several centuries before the turn of the era the
obvious liveliness of at least lateterm fetuses forced the conclusion
that life entered the fetus before
birth and necessitated
redefinitions of the terms spirit and soul. In
various ways these entities became
immaterial,
despite the clearly
material origin indicated by their
etymologies. For Aristotle, the soul
was simply the form of the body. Life
apparently began when the embryo
became formed into obvious human
shape. Unfortunately for the use
of Christian theologians, Aristotle
appears to have taught that the soul
perishes-with the body. This makes
a certain amount of sense, since the
newly dead body still has the same
"form" as the live body, and it would
follow that the soul (= form) must
stay with the corpse until its human
form is lost. The down-side of this
idea, of course, is that if the soul still
be thought to be the vivifying principle, the thing that makes living
things alive, it is hard to detect its
presence in a body that is starting to
rot!
Spring 2005

American Atheist

happens when a single fertilized egg


results in a small group of identical individuals? (Actually, identical
quadruplets, etc., constitute natural
'clones'of the original zygote.) Does a
celestial soul-cobbler create an extra

sending one to heaven and one to


hell?
To tweak the theologians just a
little bit more, we may muse aboutthe
theological implications of another
experiment that could be performed

"If the zygote (fertilized egg) has a soul, it is


a human being. It is equal, therefore, to the
mother that gives it berth and birth. It is a
single-celled person!"
soul every time a zygote undergoes
fission? How does he decide which
part should receive the new one and
which should keep the old?
More distressing to theological
misunderstandings of the human
animal, however, is the development
of modern biology which makes possible in vitro ('in glass,' i.e., in testtubes or petri dishes) fertilization
of human eggs with human sperm
collected by means of an act the
Church considers 'unnatural' and
therefore illicit. For the thought of
Yahweh having to climb into testtubes to deliver souls is sillier than
the thought of Santa Claus climbing
down chimneys to deliver sugarplums.* Needless to say, all medieval
thinkers alive today disallow such
procedures, which they consider to
be extremely wicked. What must
really cause their hair to fall out
and produce an involuntary tonsure
is the fact that it is quite possible to
cause two separate zygotes - each
presumably with its own soul - to
fuse together to produce a composite, single embryo. (Such zygote
fusion has been done with mice
many times, producing single babies
that have four or more parents.) If
this were actually done with human
zygotes, would the person resulting
have two souls? After death, would
Yahweh sort out the cells that developed from each pre-fusion zygote
and resurrect two bodies, perhaps

right now, since all the technology


needed is old and well-developed. It
is possible to fuse human cells with
the cells of other animals. Indeed,
human-mouse
and human-chick
chimeric cells have been grown in
cell cultures for many years. These
chimeras have been produced from
ordinary body cells, however, not
zygotes. But what if we were to fuse
a human zygote with a chimpanzee
zygote? Chimpanzees differ genetically from humans by only one percent, and it is reasonable to suppose
that a human-chimp chimera could
be implanted in the womb of a surrogate mother and brought to term.
Would it have a soul? If so, why don't
chimpanzees by themselves have
souls? What are the genes in that
one percent difference that cause us
but not chimps to have souls? Could
we trick Jehovah into injecting souls
into chimps if we transferred a few
critical human genes into them? (We
transfer human genes every day into
organisms ranging from bacteria to
mice and rats, and we are starting
to transfer them into other humans;
we certainly could transfer them into
chimps as well.)

Clones
If you have ever eaten a Red
Delicious apple or a Burbank plum,t
you have eaten a clone. If you have
ever propagated African violets from

*If we have to set out milk and cook- trr you have ever eaten a Burbank plum,
ies for Santa, perhaps we should leave you have eaten a clone of a fruit variety
something for Yahweh also after he has created by a famous Atheist, the plantslithered down the tube. Blood sacrifices breeding wizard Luther Burbank.
Parsippany, New Jersey

Spring 2005

leaf cuttings or generated three


Planaria worms by cutting a single
worm into three pieces, you have
been practicing cloning. Cloning is
simply a type of asexual reproduction that produces one or more offspring that are genetically identical
to their progenitor. Every gene of
the 'single parent' is carried by the
offspring. (With this departure from
'family values,' it is no wonder the
pope and the Christian Coalition
oppose the practice!) Although clones
of plants are extremely common,
animal clones are pretty uncommon
above the level of sponges, corals,
and worms.
There
was, therefore,
considerable excitement in the mid
1970s when it was announced that
amphibians had been cloned by
transferring nuclei from skin cells of
adult frogs into fertilized frog eggs
from which the original nucleus had
been removed. The tadpoles resulting from this pseudo zygote were
genetically identical to the adult
frogs from which the skin cells had
been collected. Unfortunately, the
tadpoles were unable to mature into
adult frogs, and attempts to clone
mice from fully differentiated cells of
adult animals got exactly nowhere.
(It did become possible, however,
to clone mice from embryos at the
four-cell stage of development.) For
almost two decades it seemed as
though cloning of adult higher animals was impossible. It appeared
that the DNA of which the genes are
composed underwent irreversible
changes in the course of embryonic
development and that these changes
made it impossible for the DNA in
the nucleus of, say, a skin cell or a
white blood cell to be reactivated
enough to produce an entire body
with all its different cell types.
Then, on 24 February 1997,
The New York Times published a
startling article. A mammal had
been cloned - a sheep. The astounding feat had been accomplished
by a team of Scottish veterinary
scientists working at the Roslin
Institute in Edinburgh. The formal
report was published in the staid
Page 37

British research journal Nature,


on 27 February 1997, although Ian
Wilmut (the senior researcher) had
announced the breakthrough a week
before in an electrifying press conference. By the time the formal report

The starved mammary gland


cells were then fused, by means
of electric pulses, with the oocytes
that had been deprived of their own
nuclei. The same electrical pulses
that caused the cells to fuse (just as

"Christopher Bond (R. Missouri), author of one of


the bills banning federal funding, told the NBAC
that there was no need to study this subject anyway. 'There are aspects of human life that should
be off limits to science'."
appeared in print, the religious
world had already been galvanized
into action against the intrusion into
"God's domain."
Before considering the hysteria
provoked by Dr. Wilmut's work, it
is necessary to explain exactly how
he did what he did - the utterly
unspiritual and soulless anatomical and physiological manipulations
that produced a lamb that was a
'carbon copy' of its mother.

Hello Dolly,
Lamb of the Godless!
Wilmut started with a Finn
Dorset ewe in the third trimester of
pregnancy, when mammary glands
are actively developing. Cells were
taken from her mammary glands
and grown for several cell generations in tissue culture. Then, what
would become the DNA-donor cells
were rendered quiescent by "starving" them for five days by reducing the concentration of nutrient
serum in their culture medium. This
resulted in cells which had exited the
growth cycle and were arrested at an
inactive stage of the cell cycle.
For cells which would receive
the DNA-containing nuclei from
the Finn Dorset donor cells, Wilmut
chose oocytes (immature egg cells)
obtained from Scottish Blackface
ewes, stimulating egg release with
injections of gonadotropin-releasing hormone. As soon as they were
obtained, the oocytes were enucleated to remove all traces of Blackface
nuclear DNA.
Page 38

sperms and eggs would do) served


also to activate the 'fertilized' oocyte
and allow the beginnings of cell division and embryo formation. The composite cell resulting from the fusion
was in effect a zygote - a fertilized
egg that could be cultured in vitro
to form a hollow bag of cells (blastocyst) that could be transferred to the
womb of a surrogate mother. There
it could develop into a fetus and
ultimately be born as a baby lamb.
Nowhere along the line would any
sexual act be involved - a completely
immaculate conception!
The vast majority of cell fusions
carried out by Dr. Wilmut did not
go all the way to birth and survive
infancy. But one did, to become Dolly,
the little lamb now famous throughout the world. Because the lamb had
been produced from mammary tissue, she was given the name Dolly
- in honor of Dolly Parton, an entertainer world famous as an example
of a different type of mammary tissue development.

CIon est thou not!


Even before the official report
was published in Nature, religious
leaders
everywhere
denounced
the achievement and declared it
shouldn't be done in humans. Bill
Clinton, assuming the mantle of
Evangelist-in-Chief of the United
States, upon hearing the news
immediately banned federal funding for human cloning research
(human embryo research is already
out of bounds for federally funded
Spring 2005

scientists), and he requested that


nonfederally
funded researchers
also observe a moratorium
on
human cloning research. He ordered
the National Bioethics Advisory
Commission (NBAC) to draw up a
set of policy recommendations on
human cloning within ninety days.
Both houses of Congress, ever at the
beck and call of priests and preachers, scheduled hearings on cloning.
Two bills were promptly introduced
that would ban federal funding for
human cloning research, and a third
bill was entered that would level a
civil penalty of $5,000 on anyone carrying out such research. Christopher
Bond (R. Missouri), author of one of
the bills banning federal funding,
told the NBAC that there was no
need to study this subject anyway.
"There are aspects of human life that
should be off limits to science.V
Duke University divinity professor Stanley Hauerwas warned
that scientists advocating cloning
"are going to sell it with wonderful
benefits" for medicine and animal
husbandry - expressing alarm that
there was "a kind of drive behind
this for us to be our own creators."
Right. But how is this different
from reproducing ourselves in the
ordinary way? Who besides humans
creates humans? Don't most parents
consider themselves to be recreated
at least in part in their children?
Loyola University Jesuit Kevin
FitzGerald, despite the fact that he
is a geneticist, stated that a human
clone would have a different soul
- as well as be a different person
than its progenitor. Where the soul
would come from and how it would
get into the clone was not reported.?
Nicholas Coote, assistant general
secretary of the Roman Catholic
Bishops Conference of England and
Wales, spoke out against cloning in a
way that would make American 'family values' advocates proud, arguing
that everyone has a right to two biological parents.f
Archenemy
of biotechnology
Jeremy Rifkin and leader of a global
coalition of three hundred religious
and ethics organizations demanded
American Atheist

a worldwide ban on human cloning.


Violators of such a ban should suffer
a penalty "on a par with rape, child
abuse, and murder."
Muslim
physician
Hassan
Hathout of Los Angeles took an
appropriately patriarchal view of
the possibility of cloning humans.
"A woman can be the mother of
her own self... and that's not God's
plan."? Hebrew scholar Robert Alter,
apparently misunderstanding even
traditional methods of reproduction,
made the comment that "When man
starts creating human beings in his
own image, you're into a whole different ballgarne/"
Former Dominican priest Philip
Boyle worried that cloning could
produce something that was almost
human but not quite. "What's missing might be mental. It might be
physical. It might be some characteristic that makes us human, like free
will... "9 As so often is the case with
clerical commentators, Boyle seems
unaware that such a situation would
hardly be new. All children are born
lacking "free will," and not a day goes
by in which a woman somewhere in
the world gives birth to something
that no sane person would consider
fully human. These monsters range
from partially anencephalic creatures (in which varying amounts of
cerebral cortex are missing) down
to slimy dermoid cysts* that might
be mistaken for buttered plum puddings were it not for their content of
hairballs and teeth.
Not all religionists, of course,
have responded with a simple "Thou
shalt not." Some have at least tried
to understand the theological reasons why thou shalt not. In Ohio,
United Methodist Bishop Judith
Craig said that "It is both terrifying
and thrilling to me... It is mostly

terrifying because we are reaching


beyond where our moral development has gone. Who is going to think
it through? What is it that separates
us from that sheep?" Indeed.
"If cloning has only to do with cellular substance," she asked, "where
does the persona come from? Does
the soul exist in the genetic imprint?
This has outstripped our theology'"?
An astounding admission!

"... at least the Catholic Church locates the


soul somewhere within the head, as
evidenced by its practice of baptizing each
head of multiheaded monsters separately."
Of course, Catholic theologians
would deny that souls could be
encoded in our "genetic imprint," but
Craig's question clearly points out
the absurdity of theological ideas
in the face of cloning. If souls are
not encoded in our DNA, how can
we inherit 'original sin'? If we don't
inherit it with our sex chromosomes,
how do we inherit it? If Yahweh creates souls de novo to insert into each
conception - whether coital or clonal
- is he creating them pre-stained
with the "spot of Adam"?
Even the facts of normal procreation present serious problems
for the doctrine of the heritability
of original sin. Grasping at straws,
some theologians have reasoned
that since conception involves an
act widely considered naughty if not
down-right sinful, a conceptus might
become tainted by sin due to the
circumstances of its creation: it has
been "conceived in sin." But how such
an idea could be reconciled with the
notion that the deity is both just and
good has never been satisfactorily
explained.

"Such cysts sometimes represent fertilized eggs that have implanted in the womb and
turned into a confused melange of different types of tissue. In some cases, the cysts
are actually the remains of a twin that was engulfed during the development of its
brother or sister. Since such cysts either directly or indirectly develop from fertilized
eggs, they should, according to Catholic theology, have a soul or two. Baptism of such
undeveloped Christians is difficult, however, since there are no heads at all. Brain
cells are simply strewn about amidst the hair, skin, and teeth.

Parsippany, New Jersey

Transmission of original sin fits


even less easily into the scenario of
clonal reproduction. Where in the
sequence of events detailed above
has there been anything remotely
resembling a sexual 'sin'? If, as the
Loyola Jesuit geneticist maintains,
a clone has not only its own unique
personality (an obvious truism) but
its own soul distinct from that of
its progenitor, how will that soul

Spring 2005

acquire the stain of original sin? Can


it inherit it from the soul of its progenitor? Will it be held accountable
for the sins of its progenitor as well
as for those of Adam? And when and
where will that soul enter into the
cloning process?

Associating souls and cells


The reality of cloning forces an
examination of just what the association might be between bodies and
souls. Does the soul come to a focus
in the pineal gland as Descartes supposed? Or is it diffused throughout
the body, from forelock to toenails?
If part of the body is lost, does part
of the soul go with it? Or is the soul
an indivisible invisible entity that
shrinks back to some core region of
the body? Years ago, many theologians objected to heart transplantation, due to the clear implication in
the bible that the heart is the seat
of the soul. But such objections are
rarely heard today, and it would
seem that at least the Catholic
Church locates the soul somewhere
within the head, as evidenced by its
practice of baptizing each head of
multiheaded monsters separately.
It must be noted that for the
Catholic Church at least, the soul
cannot be equated with mind or
personality. This is because mind is
a process, not a thing - a verb and
not a noun, despite its classification
Page 39

as a noun in most languages. But


Catholic teaching nowadays holds
that whatever the soul is, it is
present in fertilized eggs. Since
we can be quite certain that the
process we call mind - a processes
requiring the electrophysiological
interaction of billions of different
cells - does not occur in zygotes,
zygotes could not have souls if

has assured us that a cloned person would have a soul that was
different from and independent
of the soul of its progenitor. Since
the only thing deriving from the
progenitor is the nucleus from the
cell that was fused to the enucleate egg, if nuclei carried souls the
clone would have the same soul
as the progenitor. To have a dif-

"Whichever organelle of the cell it is that


is host to the soul, it must be able to
shed old souls and acquire new ones.
Like a shoe, it must be capable of being
re-so(u)led."
souls are minds. A single cell cannot possess a mind.
If it be further held that
souls are immutable entities (of
course, not all religions believe
this), still less is it possible for
mind to be the soul. Very simple
changes in chemistry - addition
of alcohol, LSD, or mescaline, or
wide fluctuations in glucose levels
- can have dramatic effects on
the process we call mind. There
is also the well-known fact that
several times each night the mind
disappears altogether, during the
stages of dreamless sleep. If minds
are souls, what happens to souls
during dreamless sleep?*
If we accept the pope's claim
that zygotes have souls, we can
use that 'fact' to try to understand
the association between cells and
souls. Unfortunately, we can only
ask questions and try to trace
the implications of their possible
answers.
Does the soul fill the entirety
of the fertilized egg? Or is it localized, say, in the nucleus? We must
remember that a Jesuit geneticist
*It is also probably a fact that the
idea of souls and spirits has sprung
at least in part from the adventures
of the mind during sleep.

Page 40

ferent soul, it would seem that


the soul must have been supplied
by the cytoplasm of the egg cell.
But then, the clone's soul would
be the same as that of the female
that produced the egg! Whichever
organelle of the cell it is that is
host to the soul, it must be able
to shed old souls and acquire
new ones. Like a shoe, it must be
capable of being re-so(u)led.
Both normal and clonal reproduction create difficult problems
for the idea of ensoulment and
create constraints for the nature
of the relationship between living
matter and souls. In both types of
reproduction, there is a material
connection between the parents or
progenitors and the offspring. In
the case of eggs and sperms,just as
in the case of eggs and body cells
being cloned, the cells producing
the offspring were once parts of
adult bodies supposedly suffused
with souls. How do reproductive
cells disassociate themselves from
the souls in which they formed?
Do souls of parents automatically
withdraw from cells as they turn
into sperms or eggs? In the case
of cloning, how does the body cell
used to supply the genetic information for the clone become shorn
of the spirit that surrounded and

Spring

2005

suffused it when it was a part,


say, of the bone marrow or ear
lobe? These are not cells that we
might suppose would normally be
called upon to shed their souls.
Does the deity remove their souls
only when meddling, unbelieving
scientists remove them for the
purpose of unnatural acts such as
cloning?
Leaving
unanswered
the
question of when cells involved in
reproduction lose the souls oftheir
creators, we must next inquire
when and how they acquire the
new souls that theologians assert
are present in them. In the case
of sperms and eggs, although
they are fully alive by any criterion of molecular biology, most
theologians today do not seem to
think they have souls - despite
the Monty Python hymn "Every
Sperm Is Sacred." Before the discovery of the human egg, it might
have been possible to believe that
sperms (the term is derived from
the Greek word for seed) carried
the soul of the offspring and the
female's role involved nothing
more than providing a fertile soil
in which the seed could sprout and
grow into "the fruit of the womb."
Since it appeared that fetuses
could only develop from zygotes the fusion-product of a sperm and
egg - it seemed that the soul had
to make its entry sometime after
the two cells had touched each
other. Exactly when in the complicated events of embryo formation this occurs is not explained.
Rather, theologians pretend that
fertilization is an instantaneous
event.
But the sacred-sperm hypothesis cannot be discarded by theologians without at least some doubt.
For it turns out that there are
some uterine tumors that are not
only the result of fertilized eggs
gone awry (and thus should have
souls), but actually represent individuals that carry only the genes
of their fathers.l! Completely

American Atheist

cell? Or after several cell divisions


lacking any genes from the mothof development? Would it occur as
soon as tissue intended for cloning have occurred, and the nuclei are
ers whose wombs they invade as
able to divide with the aid of replicathough they were infiltrating can- is removed from the body and placed
tion factors they themselves
cers, these 'androgenetic'
have caused to be produced?
tumors make up a subclass
"When in the course of clonOr after ... ?
of obstetric tumors confusingly referred to as hydaing would a new soul enter into
tidiform moles. (I prefer to
Loss of Definition
the process of development? ..
think of them as undevelFor some while already,
oped Christians, however.)
Would ensoulment take place
the reader has probably
It has been shown that
if we substituted a chimpanzee
grown weary of questions
these growths can result in
either of two ways. The sothat seem both aimless and
egg for a human one?"
futile. It has been necessary
called homozygous moles
to ask these questions, howresult when, after an egg
ever, to show that definitions of the
is fertilized by a sperm carrying an
in culture medium? Would each
X-chromosome, the egg nucleus with
cell so placed have a soul? Would term 'soul' - to the extent that theologians have even bothered to supply
its chromosomes disappears and the
souls appear after the cells start
sperm nucleus undergoes chromo- of reproduce in culture? If so, after
them - must lead to contradictions
and absurdities. Moreover, though
some doubling, to produce the nor- how many cell divisions in culture?
this essay cannot be considered to
mal count of 46 chromosomes needed
Would the new souls enter only
to form an "unborn child." (These
be a philosophically rigorous exposiafter the cells have been 'starved'
tion,
it becomes quite apparent that
have to be genetic females derived
by withholding nutrient serum for
from sperms carrying an X-chromo- some while? If fasting be considered
the term 'soul' cannot be defined
and has become both scientifically
some, since doubling of chromosomes
a 'spiritual exercise,' would starvand philosophically meaningless.
in sperms carrying a Y-chromosome ing cells acquire spirits? Perhaps
would produce nonviable double-Y the soul has no association with the
There is no way to show that the
proposition "People have souls" is in
nuclei.) There are also heterozygous
donor cell at all, but rather appears
any way truer than the proposition
moles that can be either male or in the egg cell when its own nucleus
"Pimples have souls."
female and result from an egg that
has been removed. Perhaps all enuis fertilized by two sperms and then
cleate eggs are spiritual beings!
The Coup de Grace?
loses its own nucleus. If sperms
If the soul appears only after the
carry souls, it would seem that hetdonor cell has touched the egg cell,
It would appear that cloning of
erozygous moles would have to have
we must still wonder at what stage
humans - if it should ever be carof physicochemical transformation
two of them!
There is a startling similarity
this takes place, and how the soul- ried out successfully - would be the
reductio ad absurdum of the theologbetween the hydatidiform moles - in bearing unicellular product might
which the egg nucleus is lost and
differ from one not so graced. Would ical notion of souls. Every attempted
definition of the term 'soul' will have
all the nuclear genetic information
ensoulment take place if we substibeen exposed as leading to ridiculous
comes from one or more other cells tuted a chimpanzee egg for a human
- and the conceptions produced by one? (If cloning should ever be car- consequences. Theologians will find
it impossible to concoct replacement
cloning, where the egg nucleus is ried out successfully with human
definitions that will be scientifically
deliberately removed and supplanteggs, we can be quite confident that
testable and not lead to embarrassed by the genetic material from a it would work with chimp eggs as
ing conclusions. It is hard to see how
donor cell. The only major difference
well, since chimps and humans are
the pope could allow the sacrament
would seem to be that the former (in
almost 99 percent identical genetiof confirmation to be conferred on a
cally.) Does the soul enter when the
which Christians ought to be able
person cloned with a chimp egg, or
to see "the hand of God" at work)
donor cell membrane fuses with the
egg cell membrane? Is it the elec- how he could justify a single bapdevelop into tumors, whereas the
tism for a baby having four or more
latter (guided only by the hands of trical minishock that signals the
parents - even if cloning was not
godless scientists) at least occasion- advent of the soul? Or must we await
involved in its production.
ally develop into live births.
the soul's entry at some time after
Western theology now has its
the
break-down
of
the
membrane
Returning to the problem of
back
up against the wall, and it can
around the donor nucleus? Or after
ensoulment, we ask one last time:
be
expected
to react like any wild
When in the course of cloning would
the chromosomes are stimulated to
divide by factors supplied by the egg animal that has been cornered. It is
a new soul enter into the process
Parsippany, New Jersey

Spring 2005

Page 41

electrifying news that the


same scientists had succeeded in producing nearly
a dozen stem cell cultures
from
embryos
cloned
from humans with various spinal cord injuries
and metabolic diseases.P
This is the necessary first
giant step required before
replacement organs can be tailormade to slip beneath the immunological radar defenses of the patient.
(Since the clones are antigenic ally
identical to their parent, no rejection
response should be triggered by their
implantation as replacement hearts,
kidneys, or other organ or tissue.)
Despite the condemnation of
popes and American presidents,
therapeutic cloning is coming to be
studied with an intensity soon to be
equal in magnitude to its promise
for human health and happiness.
Reproductive cloning is still far in
the future, I suspect, but when it
does become a reliable procedure,
I predict that both presidents and
popes will avail themselves of its
benefits.

"There is no way to show


that the proposition 'People
have souls' is in any way
truer than the proposition
'Pimples have souls'."
already lashing out at science with
whatever claws it still possesses.
Although theology has been toothless for some while, its teeth still
fester in the hides of Darwin and
his professional descendants and
impede the progress of evolutionary
science and education. But toothless
or not, theology has managed to force
the secular powers in most western
nations to outlaw or prevent funding of research on human embryos.
As the dragon of religion enters its
death throes, its tail can be expected
to do much harm as it flails about. It
is not impossible that it could, before
expiring, deal a deadly blow to the
science that has slain it.
2005 Postscript

References
lAnne Fremantle, The Papal Encyclicals In
Their Historical Context: The Teachings
Of The Popes (New York, New American
Library, A Mentor Book, 1956), 287.
2Meredith Wadman, "US senators urge
caution on cloning ban," Nature 386 (10
March 1997):204.
3"New world of genetic possibility born with
cloned lamb," The Columbus Dispatch,
(Columbus, Ohio, 24 February 1997): lA.
4Ibid.
5Ehsan Masood, "Cloning technique 'reveals
legal loophole'," Nature 385 (27 February
1997):757.
6Ibid.
7Richard Scheinin, "Clergy, ethicists ponder
issues that replication raises," San Jose
Mercury News, reprinted in The Columbus
Dispatch (9 March 1997): 6B.
8Ibid.
9Ibid.
lOSylvia Brooks, "Cloning raises host of
issues for theologians," The Columbus
Dispatch (25 February 1997): lA-2A.
llR.A. Fisher, J.J. Paradinas, E.S. Newlands,
and G.M. Boxer, "Genetic evidence that placental site trophoblastic tumors can originate
from a hydatidiform mole or a normal conceptus," British Journal of Cancer 65(3) (31
March 1992: 355-8.
12Science, 12 March 2004, 1669
13Science, 20 May 2005, 1096.

Within several years after the


cloning of Dolly, Korean and Italian
scientists claimed to have cloned
humans, but until now no putative
cloned babies have been brought
forth for genetic testing to prove
their origin. Then, in February and
March of 2004, South Korean Drs.
Woo Suk Hwang and Shin Yong
Moon of Seoul University reported
that they had succeeded in cloning humans up to the stage of the
blastocyst, several hundred cells
in size.12 They did not attempt to
implant the embryos into surrogate
mothers to bring the clones to term,
but with great difficulty they did succeed in generating a single stem cell
line from one of them. (Stem cells, it
is hoped, can eventually be used to
regenerate any organ of the body,
repairing anyone to the point of virtual physical immortality.) Then, in
May of 2005, Science reported the

Page 42

Spring 2005

American Atheist

WHAT IS DEATH?
The ending of life for both Terri Schiavo and Karol Wojtyla, a.k.a., Pope John Paul II,
highlighted the widespread misunderstanding of the nature of both life and death on
the part of the legal and religious 'experts' as well as among members of the general
public. To focus better on the realities of dying, we have decided to republish an article
by Frank R. Zindler that appeared twenty years ago in these pages - American Atheist,
April, 1985.

twas probably the last college


biology course I would ever teach.
The first laboratory session began
in the same way as had almost every
other first one I had taught over the
course of seventeen years.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is
Modern Biology, a course devoted
to the scientific investigation of the
nature, origin, and evolution of life.
This is the laboratory session, and it
lasts three hours. Instead of actual,
hands-on experiments, today we shall
indulge in some thought experiments.
Since we shall spend the rest of the
semester on life, today, by contrast,
let's talk about death. What is death,
anyhow?"
What follows is a distillation
of the discussion that ensued, with
arguments from previous years being
mixed in as artistic license has been
found necessary.

A Class Discussion

TOM:Death is when your heart stops


beating.
ZINDLER:I see. Does that mean that
poor Smedly here [petting a potted
philodendron] is dead? He's never
even had a heart, let alone had it stop
beating!
TOM: Well I thought we were talking
about people.
ZINDLER: Biology deals with all
living things, plants and microbes as
well as animals.

Parsippany, New Jersey

TOM:I don't know much about plants.


I'd rather talk about people. I think a
person is dead when his heart stops
beating.
ZINDLER: What if a doctor starts
his heart up again? Cardiopulmonary
resuscitation happens all the time.
TOM: Well, he's been dead for a while.
Then he's come back to life.
ZINDLER: What if his heart is
removed surgically, and he's kept going
on an artificial heart-lung machine of
the sort my brother-in-law builds?
TOM:For practical purposes, he's a
goner. I think he's dead.
ZINDLER: [Holding an imaginary
microphone up to an imaginary patient
on a coronary replacement unit] Excuse
me, sir. Tom here tells me you're dead.
Is that really so?

ZINDLER: Does that happen instantaneously, or is it a gradual process? How


do we know when the soul has left?
CAROL: Instantly. Either you're alive
or you're dead. At the instant your soul
leaves, you're dead.
JIM: What about a guy who's been in
a coma for a month? Is his soul still
there, and how do you know it?
CAROL:I think he still has his soul.
ZINDLER: That means we can't disconnect him from his life-support
system? What will we tell his heirs
who are ready to inherit his estate?
How will we convince them that this
guy still has a soul?

[Ghostly voice replying]

HAROLD: I just
read in THE
ENQUIRER that they once did an
experiment where they took a guy who
was dying and put him on a scale. The
moment he died and his soul left him,
he lost weight.

Would I be doing the TIMES crossword puzzle if I were dead? The


rumors of my demise have been greatly
exaggerated.

JIM: How did they know the change in


weight was due to the loss of the soul?
Maybe he just became more dehydrated. Maybe he just lost bladder control!

ZINDLER:Tom, this dead man here


seems to disagree with you.

HAROLD: I don't know. They must


have had some way of knowing when
his soul left him.

[Laughter]
CAROL: I don't think the heart has
anything to do with it. The heart is just
a pump. A man is dead when his soul
leaves his body.
Spring 2005

ZINDLER: [Speaking to entire class]


How would we know in advance how
much weight change to expect if the
soul is leaving? How could we know
if we should expect a weight change
Page 43

of an ounce, or something less? If the


lungs collapse a bit ana some air is
lost, might that affect the body weight
as much as the loss of a soul? How
heavy is a soul, anyway?

consider the evolutionary aspect of


the problem. When in the course of
evolution did our ancestors get souls?
Janet? You haven't said anything yet.
What do you think?

SAMANTHA: Well they produce electrical waves of some sort. All living
things have feelings.

CAROL:I don't think you can weigh a


soul. I don't think you can detect it. It's
just there, that's all.

JANET: Our ancestors got souls at that


point in evolution when they became
human.

JIM: Then how will you ever know if


someone is dead or not? I don't think
there is such a thing as a soul. I think
life and death have something to do
with chemical changes.

RUTH: That's circular reasoning.


Besides, we have no way of knowing
when these so-called souls came into
our ancestors. All we have is skeletal
remains. You can't tell from a skeleton
ifit once had a soul-or not.

ZINDLER: Let's come at the problem


from a different angle. Hank, when
you cash your chips in, just who and
which body is it that's going to die,
anyway?

CAROL: You'll know when it's your


turn. Then you'll find out!
ZINDLER: Let's assume, for the sake
of argument, there is such a thing as a
soul. How and when did we get it?
HAROLD: The Catholic Church says
we get our souls at the moment of fertilization, when we become a fertilized
egg.
ZINDLER: How many souls does a
single zygote (fertilized egg) receive?
And if the zygote receives one or more
souls, does that mean the zygote was
dead before it got a soul? Do souls
enter dead eggs?
CAROL: The zygote receives just one
soul, of course!
ZINDLER: If that IS so, then what
happens when the zygote splits into
two separate daughter cells, and each
becomes a baby? Identical twins? Is
one a person and the other a soul-less
zombie?
JIM: And what about the egg receiving
a soul? If the loss of a soul makes something dead, then wouldn't a cell which
gains a soul have to be dead before it
receives it?
HAROLD: I think there are different
levels of aliveness. Before it gets a soul,
the egg is just alive. After it gets the
soul it's a person, a human being.
ZINDLER: We seem to have gotten
bogged down on the problem of when
an individual gets his soul. Let's
Page 44

JANET: Well the soul had to come in


somewhere. Maybe Neanderthal Man.

JIM: Prove it!

HANK: I don't get it. What do you


mean, "which body"? I only have one
body!
-

ZINDLER: Realljr'?'-tsit the same body


you were born with?
HANK: Of course it is!

ZINDLER: Keep in mind that evolution in the past took place pretty much
the same as it does at present. Each
generation at the time of, say Peking
Man,differed from its parental generation no more than you differ from
your parents. Imagine Hank over here
one morning after breakfast suddenly
announcing to his parents:
"Eat your hearts out, folks.
You're just a couple of animals. I,
however, am a full-fledged human
being. I have a soul and will go to
a groovy garden in the sky when I
die. You two are just going to rot
like wet turkey feathers when you
kick off."
Do you think that sort of scene actually happened once upon a time?
SAMANTHA:Like, you know, I've been
kinda, like, into Eastern Religions
lately, and I think we never got our
souls in the course of evolution. I think
all living things have souls. I think our
ancestors all the way back had souls of
some sort.
ZINDLER:Even Smedly here? [petting
the plant again)
SAMANTHA:Hey, man, they've shown
that plants have brain-waves. Like they
can tell if you don't like them.
RUTH: Brain-waves? They don't have
brains. How can they have brain
waves?
Spring 2005

ZINDLER: No fooling? You were born


with a beard? You were born six-foot
one?
HANK:No, of course not ...
ZINDLER: Can you show the class any
part of your body you were born with?
HANK: Well...I was born with some
of the cells of this body, and they grew
and ...
RUTH: I think what Mr. Zindler's driving at is the fact that the actual atoms
that make up your body today are not
the same atoms that composed it when
you were born. I read somewhere that
all the atoms in your body are replaced
every couple of years.
ZINDLER: Why didn't I say it that
clearly? Yes, indeed, you are made up
of a different set of atoms than the
ones you were born with. As a matter
of fact, all the atoms of your body are
recycled from the bodies of other people
and other organisms. If some madman
rushed in here now, and blew Hank
and me away to kingdom come, parts
of other people would be going with us
at the same time. Some of them would
be people who died - whatever that
word means - 20 or 100 years ago.
JIM: You're begging the question if you
use the word "die." We haven't defined
it yet!
American Atheist

ZINDLER: You're absolutely right. I


just want to add that since most atoms
are for all purposes immortal, they just
keep recycling. Almost surely, every
atom in your bodies now was once part
of the body of a dinosaur. When I die,
does that mean that a dinosaur will
also be dying? Wait! Don't answer that
question!
[laughter)
Actually, this reminds me of a problem the medieval theologians used to
worry about. Consider a baby born to
cannibal parents. The kid has never
eaten anything but human flesh. He
dies, and comes the day of resurrection.Whose body is resurrected? If the
cannibal is resurrected, the people he
has eaten lose out. If the lunches and
dinners are resurrected, the cannibal
loses out! Recycling theology is not an
easy subject.
HANK:All this recycling business has
me confused. I myself am recycling.
What has happened to the other 'me's'
that have existed in the bodies I've
inhabited between the time I was born
and now? I'm almost twenty years old.
If matter recycles completely every five
years, say, then at least three "me's"
have died since I was born - or at
least they have somehow disappeared.
But why do I still feel like me?
ZINDLER:Whoa! I'm supposed to ask
the hard questions here! It sounds to
me that you identify more with your
mind than with your body. It sounds
like you feel that your mind is the real
you, and your body is just its receptacle.
HANK: Yeah, I do sort of think that
way.
ZINDLER: But hasn't your mind
changed also? Can you remember the
mind you were born with?
HANK:No ... I can't remember much of
anything from early childhood.
ZINDLER:Oh dear! You'velost a mind
also! How many minds do you think
you've lost in the last 20 years?

HANK: I think I just lost another one


when I signed up for this class!
[laughter)
But I thought we were discussing the
question "what is death?" Death is the
opposite of life.
[laughter)
ZINDLER: Now we're getting somewhere!
CAROL:We are? It seems to me we're
totally lost!
ZINDLER: Let's approach the problem from a different angle. Hank says
death is the opposite of life. What kind
of opposites are life and death? Does
life differ from death in the way 'on'
differs from 'off,' or in the way 'hot'
differs from 'cold.' Jack? What do you
think?
JACK: When you die, you get cold. So
I'd say "hot-cold."
ZINDLER: What if you die- by being
burned at the stake - the way a lot of
local politicians would like to see me
go!?That isn't exactly cold, is it?
CAROL: It's on-off! The instant your
soul leaves you, you're off You're dead.
SAMANTHA: I don't think either
option is correct. I don't think there is
such a thing as death. Like, I think you
are just transformed.
ZINDLER: Maybe we can settle this
issue quickly and democratically. Let's
vote on it. Let's see a show of hands.
How many for "on-off"?How many for
"hot-cold"?
[counting)

RUTH: Well, in an on-off universe,


there are only two possible states: on or
off. There can be no in-between condition. In a hot-cold universe, you can
have a lot of in-between states besides
hot and cold.
ZINDLER: Very good. But I'd like
to know at what temperature hot
becomes cold. Jim? At what temperature do things become cold?
JIM: There is no such temperature. I
mean, it's arbitrary at what temperature you think things become cold. If
you're heating a rooming house, 'cold'
will be a different temperature than
it would be if you're running a frozen
sperm bank!
ZINDLER: Do you mean to tell the onoffers that you, as a hot-colder, think
the dividing line between life and
death is as arbitrary as that between
hot and cold?
JIM: Exactly. It's absolutely relative. Or
is it precisely imprecise?
[groans)
CAROL: That's crazy! Before you
get shot in the head, you're alive. An
instant after a bullet blows your brains
out, you're dead. There's nothing relative or arbitrary about that!
ZINDLER: Would you say, Carol, that
a man walking all alone, at night, in
the Sahara Desert, having a heart
attack 100 feet away from a pack of
rabid hyenas is dead?
CAROL:Yes, for all practical purposes,
he's dead.
ZINDLER:You're sure he's dead?

It appears we have eleven hot-colds,


ten on-offs,and Samantha abstains. So
that settles it. Life differs from death
as hot differs from cold.
HAROLD: Wait a minute! Just what's
the difference between on-off and hotcold, anyway? I'm confused.
ZINDLER: Ruth? Can you enlighten
Harold on this point?

CAROL:Yes!
ZINDLER:Youwould agree, then, that
the same man having the same heart
attack in the midst of the Coronary
Intensive Care Unit at Albany Medical
College Hospital, during a world
conference of cardiac resuscitation
experts, is also dead?
CAROL:Well, I don't ...

Parsippany, New Jersey

Spring 2005

Page 45

ZINDLER: It's the same guy,. same


heart attack. As you say,there's nothing
relative or arbitrary about death.
RUTH: The question of whether or not
this guy's dead or not depends to a very
high degree upon the circumstances. It
is relative. The question is, how much
disintegration or break-down can we
suffer, yet be repaired in time. If we
disintegrate beyond the level repairable with the technology at hand, we
are dead.
JIM: Exactly. The guy in the desert had
no chance. Whether or not we judge
him to be dead at the moment of the
heart attack,it is clear that it's only
down-hill from there on: no reversal is
likely. In the coronary unit, on the other
hand, the heart attack can be viewed
as a temporary low-point, with a high
likelihood of recovery.
RUTH: Death depends upon our point
in time as well as space. The guy could
have been at the exact, same spot in
Albany - but 200 years ago. No cardiac resuscitation equipment existed
then, and he would have been about as
dead as he was in the Sahara.
ZINDLER: How many people still
believe life and death are on-off opposites?
[counting again]
Down to just three? Three die-hards?
[groans]
CAROL:Religion and law have always
dealt with life and death as being
on-off opposites. Either a person has
a soul, or he doesn't. You can't have a
partial soul. Either something is a person, or it isn't. You can't have a partial
person. Either you've committed a murder, or you haven't. You can't be guilty
of 2.6 murders! Either you're human,
or you're an animal or something. You
can't be part human and part something else.
ZINDLER: Really? How do you interpret the tissue-culture experiments
where they take human cells and
mouse cells and cause them to fuse,
Page 46

producing hybrid cells which then proceed to multiply. What kind of culture
results? Is it a man or a mouse? Each
cell has both human and mouse chromosomes.
CAROL:I never heard of that. But I
don't think that proves much of anything. Life and death are still opposites
like on and off.
ZINDLER: Very well. Let's perform a
thought experiment. Let's take poor
old Tom over there, and let's pretend
to kill him in slow motion. Tom, come
over here and sit on the demonstration
bench where the class can watch you
as you die.
[Sheepishly, Tom gets up, walks to the
bench, hops up on top of it, and sits
Buddha-like facing the class.]
Watch carefully, Carol. I want you to
tell the class the exact time at which
Tom dies, the exact point at which he
switches from 'on' to 'off.'
All right now. Let's imagine that
Tom is actually sitting in a giant glass
cylinder. The cylinder is filled with
what looks like water, and Tom - sitting here in his birthday suit - is fitted
out with a respirator that allows him
to breathe under water. O.K.?
As you watch Tom in the fishbowl, you notice that his hair is all
coming off, and his skin is starting
to float away. You know why that is?
That's because this isn't just water he's
immersed in. It's actually a solution of
enzymes - special enzymes that can
dissolve the intercellular glue which
holds his cells together to form his
body.
Tom quite literally is becoming
unglued before your very eyes! If you
look carefully through the mats of
drifting hair and dermal sludge, you
can see Tom's individual muscles - red
and shiny - and the blood vessels, and
the subcutaneous fat deposits...

ZINDLER: Well, Carol? Is Tom still


alive?
CAROL: Of course he is. You've only
removed his hair and skin.
ZINDLER: Being careful not to dissolve holes in any blood vessels, we
now dissolve away all the muscles in
his legs and arms. Tom's life as a gymnast is over. Is he still alive?
CAROL: Certainly. Lots of people live
without legs and arms.
ZINDLER: Tom? What do you think?
Are you still alive? Oh! I forgot to tell
the class that Tom can't talk under
water. To assure his ability to communicate with us under these odd circumstances, I trained him ahead of time to
be able to transmit Morse code directly
from his brain. By alternating between
alpha and beta electrical rhythms, he
can send messages to us. Let's stick a
recording electrode needle in his brain
and see what he has to say.
[walking over to an EEG machine and
pretending to read a message from the
recording paper strip]
The message reads, ''You call this
living?"
It appears as though Tom has
some doubt as to whether or not he
is alive. If a man can doubt, can he be
dead?
As more of Tom's muscles and fat
tissues dissolve away, let us hook his
circulatory system up to an artificial
kidney, heart, and lung machine, so
that whatever is left of him at any
moment can get oxygen, get rid of
wastes, and receive nutrients which
we can supply in pure chemical form
to the blood.
Why don't we remove the leg and
arm bones - they're just dangling
there in an unsightly manner, and he
doesn't need them anymore anyhow. Is
he still alive?

JANET: Gross! This is disgusting!


ZINDLER: ...notice how he seems to
be staring simultaneously at everyone,
now that he has lost his eyelids...
JANET: I think I'm going to be sick ...

Spring 2005

CAROL: Yes. As I said, lot's of people


get on fine without arms and legs.

ZINDLER:Well, Tom, I hate to do this


to you, but the reproductive organs
American Atheist

have got to go! But looking the way you


do now, you really have no likelihood of
finding employment for them anyway.

HAROLD: He's still alive, but I don't

think he's Tom anymore. I mean, he


doesn't have his body anymore. How
can he still be Tom?

Mike: They were unemployed before the


CAROL: Why does he need his body?
He still has all his memories.

experiment!
[Fraternity brothers snort and snicker.]
ZINDLER: What do you know?! At the
same time as he lost his reproductive
organs, Tom lost his kidneys, urinary
bladder, body musculature, and digestive tract! Tom! Are you still in there?

[reading the EEG paper strip]


His answer seems to be rather
short ...just four letters long .....just one
four-letter word followed by an exclamation point ...

[laughter]
Tom! It's unbecoming for a dead man
to use foul language!

ZINDLER: Ah, yes. 'Tis memories that


make the man ... That being the case,
we can chop off his eye-stalks ...
JANET: Oh, yuckk! He must be dead

now.
ZINDLER: Not at all! He can still hear,
you know. He's been listening to our
discussion all along. Let's see what he
thinks at this point.

Tsk, tsk! He can't seem to manage any


words at all more than four letters
long ...

[laughter]

ZINDLER: Your wish is my command.


But is it O.K. to leave his eyeballs
attached to the optic nerves, and to
leave his middle and inner ear structures intact?
CAROL: Be my guest. But lacking eye
muscles, his eyes can't do him much
good. They just bob about in the solution. He can't see in 3-D.
ZINDLER: Well! You seem to know
quite a bit about vision!

I don't know if the class realizes it, but


there are large parts of Tom's brain
that he really has no use for at this
point. All the parts that control muscle
movement and physical coordination.
He doesn't need them ...zap! All the
parts that process sensory inputs for
body sensations, pain, smell, taste,
vision ...zap! He really has no need for
the parts that produce emotions such
as anger or fear ...zap!
Tom really doesn't need more than
the twenty percent or so of his brain
that stores his memories, if I understand Carol correctly.
CAROL: Well, I didn't realize ...

CAROL: My father is an optometrist.


ZINDLER: If we move a book past an
eye at just the right speed and just
the right distance, he can still read
- proof positive that he's still alive.
Tom's brain, eyes, and ears are just
suspended now in our special solution. Blood still supplies the necessities through the tubes running from
the life-support machines to the brain
arteries. Tom can hear, and Tom can
see. Tom can still remember. Is Tom
still alive? Is Tom still Tom?
Parsippany, New Jersey

ZINDLER: What if we remove all the


nerve circuits involved in memory
storage except for the circuitry needed
for conscious recall of just one memory:
the memory ofthe taste of burnt toast?
Everyone has a memory of the taste of
burnt toast. How will Tom's memory,
when activated, be identifiable as his
memory of burnt toast? How will it
differ from anyone else's memory? If
that is all that's left of Tom, is Tom
left at all?
RUTH: Tom as a person is dead, but life
still exists. There are levels of aliveness.
Personality is the highest level, individual cell functions are the lowest.

[examining EEG strip]

CAROL: This is silly. You can go ahead

and remove everything except his brain,


and he'll still be alive.

concerned. What if he forgets he likes


girls? What if he forgets his name?

ZINDLER: Of course you're absolutely


right. All Tom needs are his memories. Memories make the man, as we
already observed. But does he need all
his memories? If any of them are missing, is Tom still Tom?
CAROL: People forget things all the
time. That doesn't make them dead.
JIM: But there's a limit. And certain

memories are more important than


others - as far as personal identity is
Spring 2005

CAROL: But there's still consciousness,


it's Tom's memory.
ZINDLER: All right. At this moment,
in this big vat with a few thousand
nerve cells activated, there is consciousness of the taste of burnt toast.
Let's slowly cool the medium ...
As the nerves cool, their electrical
activity begins to dim. The memory
begins to fade. It's going, going ....gone.
CAROL: He's dead.
ZINDLER: But his nerve cells are still
carrying on metabolism, even though
they can't do their electrical tricks at
this temperature.
CAROL: Well, can you bring back the
memory by heating the cells up again?
ZINDLER: Do you doubt it? Of course
we can. There! One burnt-toast consciousness-raising session back in full
swing.
CAROL: I guess he's come back to life.
RUTH: So you agree reversibility of
disintegration is a criterion for defining death?
CAROL: If you destroy those cells irreversibly, he's dead.
ZINDLER: Happy to oblige. [pretending to drain all the fluid out of the
imaginary dissolution tank] There! No
Page 47

more burnt-toast memory. Tom is now


dead, right?

TOM: But I'm not here anymore. A


messed-up bunch of cells isn't me!

CAROL:Are you kidding? There's nothing left at all! Of course he's dead!

ZINDLER: Quite right! What is missing? What is it that makes Tom be


Tom?

ZINDLER: Aah! I forgot to tell the


class when we began! Whenever any
cells came floating away from Tom's
body, they were immediately sucked
up from the dissolution medium and
piped into the thousands of tissue
culture flasks which surround you on
all the walls of the lab. All the cells of
Tom's body - minus the few thousand
neurons needed for burnt-toast consciousness - are happily growing and
reproducing all around you.
[pretending to pick up a flask]
In this particular flask, we have
an interesting mixture of Tom-cells:
there are some eye-ball cells, some
liver cells, some toenail-making cells,
and some cells that used to be part of
a freckle on his ...never mind! Anyway,
this is an interesting collection of
cells!
The really interesting thing about
these cells in culture, is that we should
be able to make them lose their inhibitions about asexual reproduction.
We should be able to coax cells into
reproducing that were no longer reproducing when they were imprisoned in
Tom's body.In a few weeks, we'll have
three times as much Tom as we started
with.
TOM:May I say something?
ZINDLER: It all depends on whether
you're alive or not. If you're dead you
can't say anything.
TOM:I'm dead.
[uproarious laughter]
ZINDLER:At what point did you die?
TOM: When there was nothing left.
ZINDLER: What do you mean, "when
there was nothing left"? We have three
times more Tom-cellsnow than we had
at the beginning.

Page 48

JIM: Organization. Of course you have


to have the cells too, but without organization - without the neurons connected to store certain memories - you
don't have a person. Like Ruth, I think
there are different levels of aliveness.
The highest is that of consciousness, or
mind. But to have mind, you have to
have body-level or organismal organization and life. To have organismallife,
you have to have tissue and cell-level
life. I guess the cellular level of aliveness is as low as you can get, but I don't
know too much about viruses. They
might be sub-cellular forms of life.
ZINDLER: That's all very true, and
very well put. But I would like to know
what you're all going to tell the Sheriff
in a minute when he comes to arrest
me for the murder of Tom. Have I committed murder? If not, what crime - if
any - have I committed?
RUTH: Can you reassemble Tom from
the cell cultures?
ZINDLER: Certainly! As a matter of
fact, I can produce identical triplet
Toms - all exactly alike.
RUTH: Can you reproduce his neuronal organization? Will all three have
the same memories?
ZINDLER: Are you implying that
Tom's body isn't enough? Are you saying that Tom - the real live Tom - is a
collection of memory traces?
RUTH: I'm very reluctant to say you
have committed murder, since Tom's
body - I mean bodies - are still carrying on the so-called life functions. But
Tom isn't here anymore. You've killed
his mind. I don't know what the crime
is you've committed, but you definitely
are a criminal.
JIM: Mind-killing is 'menticide.' He's a
menticidal maniac!

Spring 2005

ZINDLER: Give that boyan A! But


don't let him talk to the judge!
Now that we have come to the
conclusion that a person is a bundle
of memories, I have some disturbing
news to tell you. During the last three
hours, I have been insidiously altering
your minds - making you all different from the bundles of memories that
came in the door over there. A little
bit of each one of you has "died," and
a slightly new person has taken over
each body.
Slowly but surely, I've been killing
a little bit of everyone.
HANK: So that's what my brother
meant when he warned me that your
class was "murder"!
ZINDLER:Well, I'm afraid time is running out, and we've barely begun to
answer the question "What is death?"
Since we have a consensus that life
and death are hot-cold opposites, I
have a home-work assignment for you
to write out for next week.
[groans, boos, and hisses]
The degree of hotness or coldness
can be measured - we use a thermometer to do it. If aliveness and deadness
can also be measured as points on
some sort of continuum - if we can
place them on some sort of scale
- then I want you each to design for
next week a "biometer."Just as a thermometer measures the heat-content of
objects (albeit, rather indirectly), your
biometers should be able to measure
the amount of "life" in an object. Any
questions?
JIM: What is "life"?

"We are in no way, shape,


or form sholiid a hlll'nan
being, play God."
-George W.BlISh
Jan. 14,2005

American Atheist

Of Man
Alfred Bahr

he question whether we human beings have a soul which


survives death is certainly of
central importance. Here we are going to investigate what the different
religions and especially the Christian
church has to say about man and his
soul - and also, what the church is
now saying after the theory of evolution has appeared and has established
itself. Furthermore, we are going to
show how absurd the notion of a soul is
- that there cannot be a soul. This has,
of course, consequences for the belief in
a god. If there is no soul and life after
death, then there is no 'Beyond' as a
domicile for the souls and no god as the
creator ofthe souls.
Before Darwin published his thesis
(On The Origin of Species, 1859) that
we human beings descended from apes,
everyone believed that a god had created man - Adam - according to that
god's likeness, some 6,000 years ago
out of clay. Afterwards the god injected
a soul into that clay figure, which miraculously changed the clay into flesh
and blood. Then, from a rib of Adam,
Eve was made. This religious fantasy is
called 'Creationism' in the USA and is
even today taught in the USA in many
schools and is really believed by many
people to be true.
As Darwin published his thesis,
he was immediately
attacked and
ridiculed by various religious groups.
However, the Catholic Church showed
Alfred 8ahr is a German physicist presently living in Greece. He is
the author of "A Physicist's Critique
of the Existence of God," which
appeared in American Atheist in winter 2003-2004. He receives e-mail at
<alfredbahr@ath. forthnet. gr>.

Parsippany, New Jersey

and His Soul

surprisingly
great restraint.
Apparently, it had learned its lesson from the
Galileo Affair, and in November 1992
the Roman Catholic Church rehabilitated Galileo Galilei fully and admitted that the church had been teaching
something wrong regarding the motion
of the sun. (According to teaching of
the Church, the sun and the stars
were circling around the earth, and the
earth was the center of the world). The
Roman Catholic Church did not want
to commit another mistake and was
silent as Darwin published his work.
Since then, Darwin's theory has been
verified many times and finally, in October of 1996, the Pontifical Academy of
Science of the Vatican publicly declared
the evolution theory of Darwin to be
true, with one qualification: The soul
of human beings is not the product of
evolution but came from 'God.' In this
manner the church saved its doctrine
that 'God' has created mankind. According to the church, human beings
without a soul would be just humanlooking mindless animals.
This new doctrine of the Church
about the soul implies that should
there be a human being in this world
who feels and acts or lives like an
animal, like a beast, a sadistic murderer, or a bloodthirsty statesman for
instance, 'God' must have forgotten to
give him a soul!
Since we human beings have obtained a soul from a god, a soul which
is immortal, we will have a life after
death; but all the other living creatures will not have a life after death,
since they never got a soul from that
god. They are creatures of evolution
only, not 'God's creatures.' There was
a time when Christian thinkers denied
animals even to have a consciousness
and a mind (Descartes). When a tortured animal screams, that is only a
mechanical reaction, comparable with

Spring 2005

the sound of an organ, when you press


a key on it. However, confronted with
scientific evidence, the church was
forced to admit that animals also have
a mind and a consciousness, as do we
human beings.
According to this new doctrine,
the Christian god did not create the
world some 6,000 years ago, but as
the 'Big Bang,' which happened some
15 billion years ago. "God said: There
shall be a Big Bang. And yeh, there
was fire and stuff!!! And God created
the first human being not out of clay,
but took a manlike creature produced
by evolution, and made a full human
out of him by giving him a soul." That
this new doctrine about the creation of
the world and mankind does not agree
with the biblical story does not bother
the Roman Catholic Church very
much, because they know: the people
believe blindly everything that a priest
is preaching, without asking questions.
In this new Christian
doctrine
announced by the Vatican, there is no
room left any more for the 'Garden of
Eden' with Adam and Eve, with the
forbidden fruit and the commission of
sin by Adam and Eve. This implies the
doctrine of St. Augustine - that all men
are born as sinners because Adam and
Eve were sinners and we have inherited the sins of Adam and Eve - cannot
be true any longer, just because there
was no Adam and Eve. But this also
implies that Jesus did not die at the
cross for our sins, because we are not
born as sinners and he does not need
to give us absolution for our sins! And
we don't need to pray anymore: "Lord,
forgive us our sins!" We are not descendants of Adam and Eve, but of the apes
and other animals - as has now been
acknowledged by the Vatican. The consequence of this acknowledgment ofthe
Vatican is that Christianity has lost its
foundation and it is in reality no more

Page 49

Christianity. There is no more any


Jesus as an administrator of absolution. We see that the acknowledgment
of the evolution theory of Darwin has
had far-reaching consequences. That
is the reason why the other Churches,
especially in the USA, are desperately
clinging to creationism!
The new Christian doctrine on
souls brings up immediately some
troublesome questions. When we look
at the evolution of mankind we see
a long line of very different-looking
creatures and, from one point on, also
ape-like creatures which turned slowly
into more human-like" creatures, and
very slowly this line of human-like
creatures becomes more and more human. According to the teaching of the
church, all those living creatures have
no life after death, except the humans
at the end of this line, because the
Christian god stepped in to give a soul
to mankind - but only to mankind - not
to the other living forms in the line of
evolution. Mankind is in this manner a
creation of a god, while the long line of
living creatures that leads to mankind,
is only a creation of evolution.
The big question now is, why did
the deity give a soul only to the human-like creature and not to all creatures, and where in this long line ofhuman-like creatures did Jehovah step in
to chose his human being and to inject
his souls into the baby-bodies of his
choice? For some unknown reasons he
did not want to step in to give a soul to
the apes or some other very backward
creature. Our nearest still ape-like ancestor was Homo habilis, who lived 1.5
to 2 million years ago. He lived in the
Savanna, walked upright, had a mind,
. could think about tools and made tools
from stone - knives etc. - and he also
knew very likely the use of fire. He had
some human-like features, like shorter
arms and longer legs. Otherwise he
was nearly an ape that could only
shriek and scream. Was it he who got
a soul from 'God'? Or was it the more
human type, Homo erectus, who appeared about 1.5 million years ago?
He was taller, had a larger brain and
was able to make the first articulated
sounds and to form simple words for
communication. Or was it only Homo
sapiens, who appeared about 400,000
years ago and who is considered to
be the earliest human being? If Homo
Page 50

habilis, the first toolmaker, received a


soul, then an ape-like creature which
could only shriek and scream was now
a human being - although he continued to look more like an ape. When
he died, a creature which looked like
an ape entered Paradise. At the other
extreme end we have a creature which
looks like a human being, which could
speak and think. But only after he got
a soul was he a real human being, although he had all the characteristics of
a human being before he got the soul.
Let us assume this has happened,
that some god decided at a certain time
to give to all newly born Homo sapiens
babies a soul. Since this is supposed to
have happened from a certain moment
on, all babies born shortly before this
moment - and all the parents of the
babies who got a soul for the first
time - are still considered to be animals, since they did not receive a soul.
Shortly after this moment, we would
have babies with a soul, and also babies without a soul. But there would
be no visible difference between them.
But all those babies who got a soul
would not be able to meet any of those
soulless babies (and also not their parents) in the Beyond, when they eventually died at the end oftheir lives. What
an impossible Beyond!
These problems can be overcome
only if we let the creator god introduce
his souls at the very beginning of this
line of living creatures, so that all living beings have a soul and a life after
death. In this manner we have eliminated one ugly problem but created
another. All living creatures that ever
lived at some time in the world, and
which died away, are now living in the
Beyond. The Beyond must really be a
very crowded place indeed.
But we would have an overpopulation of the Beyond even if we allowed
only mankind to have an immortal
soul. Every human being gets a soul
at birth. The souls are immortal and
continue to live after death. All human beings that ever lived on this
planet, but died away after a life-time,
continue to live now in the Beyond,
forever. The Beyond must therefore be
a very crowded place indeed, a place
where you can meet any person that
ever lived in this world. What a crazy
place!
Spring 2005

This opens up the unexpected possibility that all those people who have
been cheated, deceived, belied, exploited, murdered, and bombed to pieces in
wars or gassed to death in Auschwitz,
can take revenge in the Beyond against
all those rascals and murderers and
against all those bloodthirsty rulers
and statesmen. One should wish that
there really is such a life after death, so
that all those victims of human meanness can take revenge against those
beastly souls.
The Christian definition of soul
contains a clearly visible logical contradiction. The Christian soul does not
have an end in time, but a beginning
in time, which is the moment of birth
of a human being. This contradiction is
so obvious, that the question comes up,
why has the church not given a better
definition of the soul? An explanation
can be found easily. The church needed
desperately a soul which was created
by its god. Only in this manner could
a human being be made to depend on
the grace of the church's god and to
pay taxes to the church. If one wanted
to remove the beginning in time of
the souls, then the souls could not be
a creation of a god and the believers
would not be bound to that god and
the church and would be like the Hindus of India. The Hindus believe that
they have a soul which has neither a
beginning in time nor an end in time.
And in order that this system remain
logical, the Hindus believe that the
soul is reborn on earth soon after the
death ofthe believer. For completeness
sake it should be mentioned here that
Pythagoras, the Greek, also believed in
a soul which is reborn continuously on
earth, and he had many followers .
However, the Indian definition of
the soul leads also to contradictions.
Namely, from the Indian definition
it follows that the number of souls
in the world must be constant, since
the souls are not created at birth, but
existed already. The souls are only
reborn souls, never new souls. But if
the number of souls is constant, that
is, if new souls are never created, then
also the number of living creatures, of
animals plus men, must at all times
be constant. However, we know that
this is not the case. There was a time
on this planet, when life was impossible. As life developed, we had at first
American Atheist

only very few living forms and very


few creatures. And as man appeared,
we had at first also very few of them.
Today the world is overpopulated and
close to catastrophe. There is no sign of
a constancy ofthe number of the living
creatures and men, and therefore of
the number of souls of them. The Indian definition of the soul contradicts
reality and must be wrong. In particular, the doctrine that the Indian soul
has never been created, but existed
always, must be wrong on the ground
that everything in this universe had a
beginning.
It happens frequently that people
who believe in life after death refer
to a report of neurologists from Switzerland (Nature, Vol. 419, page 269,
2003), which describes experiments
of those neurologists with a person to
produce near-death
sensations. The
neurologists around Olaf Blanke from
the University Hospital of Genf stimulated a certain region of the brain, the
Gyrus Angularis, with electrodes. That
person, while under the influence of
the electrical stimulation,
reported
during the experiment that she saw
herself flying above the bed and, looking down from above, saw her body
lying in the bed. This report is taken
by the believers of life after death as
proof that there is a soul which can
leave the body. However, the neurologists are of another opinion. They say,
that the electrical stimulation of that
particular brain section causes a mixup of the wirings of certain brain sections and, as a result, causes wrong
sensations and perceptions. The brain
makes, so to speak, calculating mistakes and produces a wrong, mixed-up
picture of the surroundings and of the
patient. The whole thing is a kind of
hallucination, and everything happens
inside the brain and not outside of the
brain. Another experiment supports
these conclusions of the neurologists.
The researchers told the patient to lift
an arm. She did. However, she did not
have the feeling of lifting an arm, but
that someone was beating her on the
side of her body. The neurologists see
this as another proof that the internal
wiring between certain brain sections was mixed up during the whole
experiment, producing wrong sensations. But the believers in life after

Parsippany, New Jersey

death see themselves vindicated, and


continuously this experiment is used
in public discussions (for instance
in television programs in Greece) to
prove that there is a soul, which can
leave the body. A critical article dealing
with the subject of near-death experiences and also of god-experiences and
the like can be found in the German
philosophical journal Aufhlaerung
und
Kritik (2/2004, page 191, "Gotteserfahrungen," by Norbert Rohde).
Let us now investigate the consequences of the Christian notion of a
soul. Descartes (1596-1650), a French
Mathematician and Christian Philosopher, taught that the soul is the site of
consciousness with a command center.
However, the brain perceives, sees,
hears, thinks, feels, and remembers.
That is, the brain produces the contents of consciousness but reports immediately to the soul what it is seeing,
hearing, thinking, etc. The soul, on the
other hand, perceives in this manner
the outside world and orders the body
to move and act. We have a permanent
communication between the soul and
the brain. According to Descartes this
communication is done by means of
knocking by the soul on brain cells and
by the reverse process, by knocking
by brain cells on the soul. This is the
central idea of Descartes.
However, it was soon realized that
a spiritual soul cannot move material
brain cells or knock on material brain
cells, and that also the reverse was not
possible - namely, that something material can act and knock upon a soul.
This means a communication between
soul and body is not possible. For this
reason the soul of Descartes would not
be able to perceive the world, to see
and to hear, to think and to remember, etc. The consciousness of this soul
would remain without any contents
of perception. It would therefore be a
black and empty consciousness.
Consciousness consists always of
two things together. The first is that
which perceives and thinks, and the
second is what is perceived. The latter
is the content of perceptions. Ifthe content of perceptions cannot arrive at the
soul, because the body with the organs
of perceptions is dead, or because there
is no communication between soul and
body possible, then there cannot be a

Spring 2005

perceiver at the soul either, and therefore there cannot be a consciousness.


Consciousness exists only because and
when the soul can perceive something.
This is something Descartes did not
realize in his time.
In addition, the body would not
be able to receive orders from the soul
to move around, and this body would
also have no consciousness, because,
according to Descartes, the consciousness is located in the soul. But, as we
have seen, there is no consciousness
in the soul possible, because of the
communication problem. However, we
know that the body has a consciousness and that the body moves around.
This means that consciousness and the
command center must be located in the
body, and not in the soul. Incidentally,
Descartes believed, that the existence
of ,God' can be proved logically, but did
not himself provide such proofs.
In order for the soul to exist after
death, the soul should have its own
organs of perception. But organs of
perception, located in souls, Descartes
never assumed existed. The reason
for this is the following. If the soul
had its own organs of perception, that
is, if the soul had eyes and ears, etc.,
then that person should be able to
perceive not only the material world,
but always also the Beyond - while
still alive. However, we know, that we
cannot perceive the Beyond. That is
why Descartes did not mention organs
of perception of the soul. The result of
the above investigation is that the soul
that Descartes was teaching cannot
exist and consequently, there cannot
be a life after death.
In addition, the Christian soul of
Descartes leads to a number of contradictions. Since consciousness and
the command center are located in the
soul, animals and also the ancestors
of human beings should not be able
to move and run because they have
no soul, and therefore no consciousness. However, they do move and run
and they are conscious. Apparently, in
the case of animals, consciousness and
the command center are located in the
body.
The discussion about the interaction between a spiritual entity, the
soul, and matter leads incidentally to
an interesting
conclusion regarding

Page 51

the Christian god. If a spiritual entity


cannot act on and influence matter,
then also a god, as a spiritual entity,
cannot act on matter. Indeed, we see in
the world nowhere any sign of a god's
actions on matter - for instance, to
prevent catastrophes that could result
in the deaths of thousands of people,
including Christians. But if a god cannot act on matter, in order to prevent
catastrophes and suffering, like the
tsunami catastrophe, then no god can
be almighty. And if a god cannot act on
matter and if he is not almighty, how
can he have created matter? The creation of matter requires almightiness
and also action on matter.
Since the soul of Descartes cannot
exist because of the communication
problems between soul and body, there
are only two other soul types possible.
Either we assume that our consciousness (or our self and the command
center) is not situated in the soul, but
in the brain, and the soul is empty; or
we assume that it is not the brain that
sees, hears, thinks, and remembers,
but it is the soul who does all that, and
the brain is empty. We are now going to
investigate the consequences of these
two arrangements.
We investigate first the second
arrangement, namely, that the soul is
the site of consciousness and it is the
soul who sees, hears, thinks, and remembers. Since everything is located
in the soul, there is no problem regarding communication. This soul certainly
satisfies all expectations of a Christian
who believes in life after death. We
have here a life after death with full
consciousness, with a soul who can see,
hear, think, remember, etc. After death
such a soul is able to perceive everything that happens in the Beyond. But
this capability to perceive the Beyond
with the eyes and ears of the soul cannot have appeared suddenly as the soul
left the dead body, but must have existed also during the lifetime of that person, because the ability to observe the
Beyond is given by the organs of perceptions of the soul alone, and did not
appear suddenly. And also the Beyond
did not appear suddenly after death.
However, it is the soul who perceives
and not the body. And if there were a
communication between soul and body
possible, the living person should be

Page 52

able to perceive also the Beyond. But


there is no communication between
soul and body possible, and this body
is not capable to know what the soul is
.perceiving or thinking. Furthermore,
this body has no consciousness and is
unable to move around. Such a body is
completely useless. This is the result
of the lack of communication between
soul and body.
Let us assume for a moment that
this soul is able to perceive with its
eyes and ears also the material world.
Here too, the body would not be able
to know what the soul is perceiving
or thinking, since there is no communication between soul and body
possible. This means, too, the body is
completely useless. It does not make
any difference whether the soul is able
to perceive only the Beyond or also the
material world.
But let us assume for a moment,
that there is a communication between
soul and body possible. In this case
the body would not need its perishable eyes and ears; it would see and
hear with the eyes and ears of its soul.
Consequently, one would never get bad
eyes and ears when he becomes old,
and he would never become senile,
since it is the soul that thinks and remembers. At the same time, one would
be capable to perceive also the Beyond
with the eyes and ears of the soul.
However, in reality the eyes and ears
of people become weak when they get
older, and the memory becomes weak
too. From this we must conclude that a
person sees and hears with mortal eyes
and ears, thinks and remembers using
a mortal brain, etc. Furthermore, we
know, that we are not able to see the
Beyond. From this we must conclude,
that there cannot be such things as
souls with organs of perceptions.
This brings us to the first mentioned possibility. That is, consciousness as well as the organs of perception, of thinking, of feeling and the
memory, etc., are located all in the
brain and not in the soul. The soul has
here no purpose anymore and would
not receive any information from the
brain. This soul would be completely
empty. Such a condition is equivalent
to nonexistence ofthe soul. There isno
soul anymore!

Spring 2005

We are now in a position to draw


a very important conclusion, which
concerns every god-believer who prays
to a god for help. The human being, as
a purely material creature, has absolutely no possibility of communicating
with a spiritual entity. A communication between something spiritual and
material is not possible. This proves
that all those Prophets and Apostles
like Moses, Paul, and also the Popes
in Rome, who also claim to have talked
often personally with 'God,' are liars.
We must now explain how consciousness is connected with and dependent upon perceptions. The brain is
like a very complicated computer. However, it is a biological computer, since it
is made of biological substance, which
works with electrochemical
signals
instead of electrical signals only. Somewhere in the brain there is a command
center that works like the processor
of a computer and which is connected
with the organs of perception, the eyes
and ears, etc., and also with the center
ofthoughts and with the memory. Neurologists and brain researchers have
identified the cerebral cortex as the
region where this processor is located.
The information, which comes from the
organs of perception and from the center ofthought, will be registered in this
processor, and this processor produces
a copy of the outside world. In this
manner the outside world has become
known to the computer program of the
processor. The same happens with the
signals that come from the center of
thoughts and from the memory. The
processor now starts processing and
evaluating the registered information
and pictures. The processor draws
conclusions, makes
decisions, and
gives orders to the organs of perceptions and to the body. The processor is
therefore the highest level in the brain.
Whenever the processor is active, it
presents itself as the observer and as
the decision maker. These activities
of the brain computer in the processor are interpreted as consciousness.
However, consciousness is the totality
of the content of the processor. This
content consists of the observed and
registered pictures ofthe outside world
and all other information that arrive
at the processor. Without the observed
pictures, without the registered data

American Atheist

in the processor, there is no observer


and decision maker and therefore
no consciousness. The observer and
decision maker is thereby only the
computer program of the brain computer. Already Hume pointed out that
consciousness has no substantiality of
its own, but is just the stream of fastarriving perceptions and information
at the brain.
Whenever this stream of perceptions from the sense organs and of
thoughts from the center of thoughts
is interrupted, that is, when no signals arrive at the processor, then the
processor cannot start working, cannot
register anything, cannot draw conclusions, and cannot make decisions. That
means the processor cannot become
active. Everything is then black. This
condition is known as dreamless sleep
or of unconsciousness. And when the
connections are interrupted for ever,
due to death of the brain, then we

have the same condition. Everything


is then black, but forever. We conclude
that consciousness and perception go
always together. Without perception,
there is no consciousness. Consciousness is therefore a function of the
brain and is not anything that comes
from outside. Consciousness is only
the process of registering the arriving
information in the brain computer. The
arriving information becomes known
to the computer program in this manner. This is consciousness!
The final result of our investigation is that there is no soul possible
that can allow life after death with
consciousness. After death, there is
only a deep, dreamless, permanent
sleep.
The conclusion that there is no
life after death possible has, of course,
serious consequences regarding the
question of gods. If we human beings
don't have a soul, and if there is no life

after death, then what would a god be


good for? What are the regular visits to
a church good for? And what is all this
talking and preaching of the priest good
for? 'God' has no functions to fulfill. He
has neither produced souls nor has he
created man. Man rather was formed
by evolution. This has even been acknowledged by the Roman Catholic
Church. And all those people who still
believe in a god, who run regularly to
church to pray to that god, to ask him
for help or to sing the hallelujah, get
no rewards for that after death, even
if every time they left money behind in
the church, or even ifthey give all their
wealth to the church, in order to make
the church rich. A life after death they
never can buy.

\
Parsippany, New Jersey

Spring 2005

Page 53

My Turn!
Culture of Life?
To those who thought the whole
Terri Schiavo. drama was over, think
again. The whole issue is being cast into
so many molds that soon it will be about
- everything! It contains God, religion,
state's rights, the role of the federal
government, as well as definitions of life,
and the right to die. Many of those who
openly opposed the removal of her feeding tube claim to represent a "culture of
life," and some have branded those who
supported her husband's right to allow
her to die as members of a "culture of
death." In the spirit of Occam's Razor let
us cut through the rhetoric.
The case surrounding Terri Schiavo
was nobody's business except for the
family members involved. In this case
the family members disagreed with her
husband as to what Terri herself would
want. This threw the matter into the
courts, where the majority of judges
consistently sided with state laws that
gave the right to the husband to decide.
Whether one agrees with these laws or
not is irrelevant. Those who attack these
judges for upholding a "culture of death"
are purposely misreading a judge's role
in order to promote their own agenda.
A judge's role is to make rulings based
on the laws as they are written, not to
make or break legislation according to
their own personal morality. When the
judges sided with Michael Schiavo, they
affirmed the rule of law as it is written
in Florida. Those who disagree with the
law have a right to try and change it
in the electoral and legislative process,
and those who support it have a right
to defend it. It is not the role of a judge
to enforce the laws they like, or to dismiss the laws that they don't. In keeping above the shrill tumult of a divided
public opinion, the judges involved have
done an exemplary job.
Against this reality all other arguments are ultimately moot. All of the protesters who demonized Michael Schiavo
as a "cruel husband" took a very personal
tragedy that did not involve them and
turned it into a symbolic fight for their
own religious and political views. They
fell to their knees and wept and prayed
so that the whole world could see how
"Christian" they were. Their demonstrations were all about themselves, not
Terri Schiavo.
Page 54

What about Terri's wishes? This is


the real issue. Whether she made her
thoughts clear to her husband or not will
never be known by us, but if it indeed
was her wish to be allowed to die rather
than linger in a vegetative state, who
would deny her this right, and why?
Would the so called "proponents of life,"
who overlook the difference between
mere existence and actual living, have
continued to force Terri to linger even
if they had known it was her desire to
be set free? If so, where is their much
vaunted concern for her?
To invent religiously and politically
charged labels such as "a culture of life"
accomplishes nothing without distinguishing the difference between life and
mere survival. To insist on artificially
maintaining existence without regard
for it's condition is a degradation of the
meaning of life, not a promotion of it. To
do so against the wishes of the individual
involved is sadism, not compassion.
Life and death are inseparable. One
will never exist without the other. Out
of respect for life itself we must honor

Snapshots

death for those who are no longer able


to live it with any hope of recovery or joy.
Those who love life understand this, and
those who do not fear death understand
it as well. Why is it that those who most
demonstrably claim to support "life," yet
who equally praise death as going to
a "better place," are the ones who are
having the hardest time with it?
It is instructive that those who praise
death as a reunion with God were among
those who were willing to do anything to
prevent it for Terri Schiavo. They preach
that the glories of the Spirit are above
this world, yet strive with all their power
to prevent death for someone who lingers
in a hopeless vegetative state, and betray
their actual fear of death in the process.
It is this fear of death that fuels their
obsession with it. It is not a mystery
that those who most fear death require
the most faith, and those who make the
greatest displays of their faith have little
to no faith at all.
Jay Werbinox Taylor
<Werbinox@aol.com>

atjasonlove.com

~~~t!1-C-~

Now we must stop reproducing for the same rea;~n.


c

Spring 2005

American Atheist

Pope Leo I
Weighs in on the Papacy
Gary Sloan
With the assistance of Gabriel, Pope Leo I (440-461)
recently popped up at the Holy See. There, the zealous
paladin of ecumenical orthodoxy chatted with members of
the college of cardinals on the eve of a conclave to choose
a successor to Pope John Paul II. Afterwards, Leo indited
an epistle to the Apostolic College of Primates Tertiary in
Constantinople, with copies to the Metropolitans Regular
of the Blessed Sacrament in Rome, the Canons Irregular of
the Redemptive Blood, the Lay Daughters of the Franciscan
Annunciades, and the Prioresses Minor of Our Lady of
Infinite Epithets. Stamped "undeliverable," a copy of the
letter was inexplicably propped against my weathered St.
Francis. By candlelight, I translated Leo's clangorous Latin
into English (below). May the labor shorten my tenure in
purgatory.

o the keepers of the truth faith, gree.tings from Rome,


circa AD 2000: Grace from God the Father, the Lord
Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
Oh, what dismal tidings do I bear! Not the hubbub
of the hour - that clerics practice pedophilia. Forget the
pedophiles. Lechery, like sloth, gluttony, and the poor, will
always be with us. My news is of a darker dye.
A spiritual malaise infects the Bride of Christ. The
quest for ecumenical dominion languishes. Pagan religions
flourish. Schisms proliferate unchecked. Faith is flaccid.
Accommodation of infidels is rampant.
The one true faith is imperiled by a thousand noxious
creeds: Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Baha'i, Jain,
Shinto, Parsee, Mandean, Mormon, Anglican, Episcopalian,
Presbyterian, Unitarian, Methodist, Baptist, Assembly of
God, Church of God, Nazarene, Jehovah's Witness - a vile
menagerie of theological perversions.
Within the Church, the laity is abysmally unedified. The
flock confounds not only ousia and hypostases, homoousion
and homoiousion, the anthropic and anthropotheic, Real
Presence and Surreal Presence, but confuses such simple
distinctions as begotten and made, substance and person,
transubstantiation
and consubstantiation.
The flock misdirect inquiries because they muddle the
purviews of secular tertiaries, regular tertiaries, minor

Gary Sloan, a retired


English
professor and frequent contributor
to American
Atheist,
lives in
Ruston, Louisiana. He receives email at <sloangg@bellsouth.net>

clerks regular, canonesses regular, prioresses, abbesses,


friars minor, conventual friars minor, lay brothers, itinerant
clergy, superiors-general,
chaplains-general,
chaplainspalatine, inquisitors-general, vicars-general, apostolic vicars,
apostolic nuncios, ecclesiastical chamberlains, ecclesiastical
judges, directors of pontifical taxes, penitentiaries of the
diocese, prebendaries,
legates, prelates, metropolitans,
primates of the realm, novice masters, deacons, subdeacons,
choir monks, lectors, secular priests, provincials, pastors,
oblates, curates, procurators, almoners, sacristans, cantors,
coadjutors, oratorians, refractories, suffragans, infirmarians,
hospittalers, ostiaries, and other holy offices. Verily, the
people are immersed in a slough of ignorance.
Even illustrious saints are forgotten: Poppo, Bodo, Odo,
Bruno, Dodo, Little Anthony, Gomer, Lucifer, Pudentiana,
Lucy, Linus. Why, some have never heard of me!
Without the infinite mercies of Our Lord, mediated by
His earthly vicars, this flock will surely perish. Noone trods
the straight and narrow path to salvation.
The shepherds
are scarcely better. Priests prefer
comfort to the cross. No exemplars of austerity inspire the
multitude. No Simeon Stylites sups on maggots while poised
atop a sixty-foot pillar. No Amatus dwells in a deep crevice,
his meager ration of barley and water lowered on a rope. No
Adolph daily lashes himself until he bleeds. No Conrad rolls
in thorns to rout the demons of carnal temptation. Where is
the monk who hourly steeps himself in freezing water and
bangs his head against a rock? Where, I say, are the true
penitents?
The late heir to the apostolic succession, one Pope
John Paul II, was a decrepit parlor soldier discomfited by
the spurting blood that nourishes Truth, a pusillanimous
diplomat who wooed secular heads of state, an insidious
proponent of interfaith alliances, a quivery conciliator.
John Paul had no stomach for the sanguinary measures the
Church perforce adopted to squelch Arianism, Pelagianism,
Semipelagianism,
Manichaeism,
Donatism, Montanism,
Albigensianism,
Catharism,
Waldensianism,
Modalism,
Rigourism, Monothelitism, Nestorianism,
Eutychianism,
and other egregious heresies that threatened the immortal
souls of benighted proselytes and wrought cankerous
corruption of the body politic.
Now, heresies flourish like weeds. The squeamish college
of cardinals, charged with selecting a new pope, questions
the efficacy of rack and screw, boiling cauldron, and glowing
tong. They have no stomach for real edification. The bishops
maunder on about peaceful co-existence with other faiths,
yea even with the faithless.
Co-existence with infidels! Oh, ye stalwart defenders of
the faith, lift up the electors with your steadfast prayers.
Show them the light! Show them a true soldier of the Lord.

$
Parsippany, New Jersey

Spring 2005

Page 55

POETRY
"

"

The Teacher To His Students


On Ultimates

We Have Come Again


To An Ancient Sorrow

Do you 'presume that at the podium,


Facing your bursting egos, ill-contained
(They flower in an arrogance of speech,
Or light-bespangled glitter through the eyes)
Do you presume behind the podium
We cringe before the questions that you ask,
And have no honest answers for reply,
Or lure you to convictions you reject,
Or play the god, the despot, the high priest?

The rains have rained


Septembr away
And the summer away
And the proud young hawk
Away from the milky mists
That feather asparagus fern
And bead the thick grasses.

Wearing the springtime flowers in


your hair,
You love and dream and sing
impetuously,
Assuming all the passions you endure
Are missing in our sad anemia.
Believe me, we are masters at disguise
Artists of sweet illusion and deceit.
We hide our withered blossoms from your eyes,
Cover the bitter knowledge of defeat,
So that a little longer you may be
Young gods and catch, at least in reverie,
Your single glimpse of immortality.
We did not choose to say
Time, water, sunshine
Golden sands
Which also perish,
Drift away
To cosmic darkness
Black decay;
That once, young gods,
We wrestled too,
And lost,
And such an anguish knew,
Torrential centuries of rains
Would not dissolve the fuchsia stains
Our injured souls have bled since we
Were wounded with mortality.
We stand diminished, but we know
All knowledge is medicinal;
And in death's pure democracy
All will be nothing equally.
-Hazel

Page 56

It is not enough that the sun,


tomorrow
Will pour like honey
On the hills and the leaves.
Tilted north by northwest
In time's great hollow
We have come again to an ancient
sorrow;
The days will shrivel
And the nights will freeze;
The rains will rain
The mountains away
And the meadows away
And the pliable flesh
Away from the calcium bone.
And oh the pity of so much beauty
Washed down the dark streams
Of such a godless heaven.
-Hazel

Swart

Swart

Spring 2005

American Atheist

Examination of the
Prophecies
Part Three of
Thomas Paine's

Thomas Paine

The Age of Reason


Annotated
Part three
Examination of the Prophecies
Edit&d .andArmoutcd

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