New on Ebon Musings: Into the Clear Air

A new essay, “Into the Clear Air“, has been posted on Ebon Musings. The article details the four common stages of deconversion and offers help and guidance to people in the process of losing their religion.

This is an open thread. Comments and feedback are welcome.

Weekend Coffee: February 22
New on the Guardian: Beyond Debating God’s Existence
Why Atheism Is a Force for Good
Weekend Coffee: March 28
About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, City of Light, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • BlackWizardMagus

    Well, looking towards the end of the “Darkness” section, you mention free thinkers who lived religion free lives; then mentioned Mark Twain as one. Twain is no doubt my favorite author, and often did critisize organized religion and it’s hypocrisy and the questions the bible inevitably leads to; but he was not an atheist, and never was. Unless you have come across something substantially different from his normal writings, even “Letters from the Earth” were theist writings. Not a huge criticism, and the rest of the essay is very good, but I thought I’d point that out, simply because it happened to be an author of my interest.

  • Mike K

    To be fair, Adam also mentions Thomas Paine who was a Deist and Robert Ingersoll who was an Agnostic. I think these people were cited as examples of freethinkers rather than because they were considered atheists. While it’s difficult to know precisely where Mark Twain stood, we can be sure from his writings that he was no Christian or proponent of any organized system of theistic belief. It seemed to me the major thrust of the article was to discuss the stages of disbelief that are encountered when abandoning any organized theistic belief system and the writings of these authors can be most helpful in becoming a freethinker.

  • BlackWizardMagus

    Well, sure, he does make you think, but he was a christian through-and-through; he just didn’t like the organized versions thereof. He was a free-ER thinker I suppose; he’d be a liberal theist in today’s view.

  • Mike K

    Okay BWM, here’s a sampling of Mark Twain

    If there is a God, he is a malign thug.

    Faith is believing something you know ain’t true.

    There is no other life; life itself is only a vision and a dream for nothing exists but space and you. If there was an all-powerful God, he would have made all good, and no bad.

    [The bible is] a mass of fables and traditions, mere mythology.

    The gods offer no rewards for intellect. There was never one yet that showed any interest in it.

    God’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn.

    A man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows.

    If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be – a Christian.

    There has been only one Christian. They caught him and crucified him — early.

    I found out that I was a Christian for revenue only and I could not bear the thought of that, it was so ignoble.

    Hmm, doesn’t exactly sound like any kind of liberal Christian to me.

  • BlackWizardMagus

    Yes, I know, I have a book of his quotes and several other books besides. But despite his specific remarks here, when you read his basic writings when he is projecting himself into the story, he is clearly christian. His biographers have also recognized this. Regretfully, since I’m moving, all my books are in a box. While he wasn’t heavily religious, there was a reason he wrote extensively in the framework of Adam and Eve or Satan, etc.

  • Ebonmuse

    I realize that Mark Twain was probably never an atheist; nor, as Mike K points out, was Thomas Paine. Regardless, I do think their works have a lot to teach potential deconverts. Their rejection of dogma, and their bold challenges to religious orthodoxy, make them freethinkers in the truest sense of the word.

    Twain’s actual religious views were complex. I don’t think he ever unambiguously stated his beliefs, but I’d probably call him either a very liberal Christian (comparable to John Shelby Spong, for example) or a deist. It’s possible he moved from one of those to the other over the course of his life. He never, as far as I know, believed in an afterlife or the divinity of Jesus; and he was an avid admirer of Robert Ingersoll, who flatly rejected Christianity in all its forms.

    Here’s a relevant article: Mark Twain’s Secret Vendetta with the Almighty, from the May 2001 Freethought Today.

  • BlackWizardMagus

    Interesting article. I merely thought it might be a relevant point to keep in mind to avoid confusion; if someone is looking for pure atheism writings, Twain would be a bit of a confusing choice, given how often he does talk about Christianity, and not always in a negative light. That’s all, didn’t mean to detract from the value of the issue.

  • BlackWizardMagus

    I suppose it’s really not surprising; I often saw the general progression in his works with regards to God. His Innocents Abroad or his two classics were obviously theistic, but his later ones were curious. Alright; more quotes are always welcome to me, so the article was a great read.