50 Blogs on Disbelief
My thoughts on the book, 50 Voices of Disbelief, Why We Are Athiests, edited by Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk. Written as I read them in no particular order. The page number of the essay is provided at the top of each entry.
p 10 Margaret Downey “My ‘Bye Bull’ Story”
I had not heard of Margaret Downey, according to the bio on her website, apparently she has made a career out of being an atheist. She is a board member of several foundations and organizations and publishes a newsletter for Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, which she founded.
In her essay she tells an interesting story of her childhood. She grew up in a not only religious but superstitious family. She had lots of fun making thumping noises while family and friends were having a séance. Her days of belief ended when she read
26Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
from the book of Matthew 19:26. She was sitting in a pew at the time and closed her Bible with a noise loud enough to attract the attention of the pastor. She didn’t back down from his stare. She has other great memories and worked hard to get out of poverty and read the entire World Book Encyclopedia. Bertrand Russell’s “Why I Am Not a Christian” also influenced her.
Finding atheists to associate with was not easy until 1987 when she had Phil Donahue on the television and heard him say, “Please welcome the most hated person in America, atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair”. That show and others led her to organizations and she found out about other atheists through history.
She spends that last few paragraphs saying, “don’t buy a bible”, instead get a science book, read great biographies. For eternal life, create a legacy worth remembering. Look in the mirror and find greatness in yourself. Don’t look to stories, because, she says, “There is no need to make up a story just to have an answer to a puzzling question.”
That may be true, but I would suggest to Ms. Downey that she try reading a little fiction now and then. I realize that her problems with religious people are with those who claim facts that can’t be substantiated, but there is nothing wrong with a good story. Stories are more than just distractions, they can teach and get our minds thinking creatively. She had her dose of the Bible when she was young and she has moved on. That is fine for her, but telling people not to even read it that is just bad advice.