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Material for Parts I, II, & III comes from the translation by Joseph McCabe of selected essays by Voltaire entitled: "A Treatise on Toleration and Other Essays."


Such is the weakness, such the perversity, of the human race that it is better, no doubt, for it to be subject to all conceivable superstitions, provided they be not murderous, than to live without religion. Man has always needed a curb; and, although it was ridiculous to sacrifice to fauns or naiads, it was much more reasonable and useful to worship these fantastic images of the deity than to sink into atheism. A violent atheist would be as great a plague as a violent superstitious man.
Material for Parts I, II, & III comes from the translation by Joseph McCabe of selected essays by Voltaire entitled: "A Treatise on Toleration and Other Essays."


Untruth has imposed on men too long; it is time to pick out the few truths that we can trace amid the clouds of legends which brood over Roman history after Tacitus and Suetonius, and have almost always enveloped the annals of other nations.
Material for Parts I, II, & III comes from the translation by Joseph McCabe of selected essays by Voltaire entitled: "A Treatise on Toleration and Other Essays."

In just 70 pages in paperback Voltaire produced a major work as timeless today as when he wrote it. For example:

When the risk and the advantage are equal, astonishment ceases, and even pity is enfeebled. But when an innocent father is given into the hands of error, of passion, or of fanaticism; when the accused has no defense but his virtue; when those who dispose of his life run no risk but that of making a mistake; when they can slay with impunity by a legal decree--then the voice of the general public is heard, and each fears for himself. They see no man's life is safe before a court that has been set up to guard the welfare of citizens, and every voice is raised in a demand of vengeance.

Many essays from Voltaire’s hand were published anonymously. This is one of them where he writes on the role of a society president who leads the prayer and preaches the sermon. For brevity, we excerpt and paraphrase:

    “My brethren, religion is the secret voice of God speaking to men. It ought to unite men, not divide them; hence every religion that belongs to one people only is false.”
“The Questions of Zapata”
An essay from:
A Treatise on Toleration and Other Essays - Voltaire.
(Essay translated by Dr. Tamponet, Sorbonne)

The books of the Bible were culled from a much larger body of literature, much of which was regarded by scholars of the day as either patently false or as unsuitable for various reasons. Nearly all of such literature reflected earlier myths or pagan dogma clothed in new terms to better fit the times. Only a few of the populace could read; fewer still were scholars. The latter often disagreed, sometimes violently. Power and influence often meant more than logic in selecting which pieces of literature ascended to holy scripture.

It is not surprising therefore that inconsistencies crept into the Bible.
Book Review with excerpts, and [Commentary]

[Walter Russell Mead, in his classic "God and Gold" plows fertile ground in no-man's-land between Western maritime empires and the has-been and would-be empires of Islam. He sees centuries-long humiliation of Islamic culture as being as unforgettable by the humiliated as it is forgotten by the victors. The victors of the moment no longer remember their own origins. Every chapter in Mead's book has many eye-openers. We excerpt part of one in particular that addresses our era. Although Mead is optimistic for the long term, his message for Americans is not pretty.]
Updated 23 May 2010

Cecil Bothwell

Extended Book Review

A man of the cloth preaching war? Hard to believe! Yet, it is true.

For six decades Billy Graham preached war and American hegemony to presidents, their advisers and to his "crusaders." Graham had a great deal to do with the rise of the militant right in American Politics. Graham is a master of backroom politics. Instilling fear is his modus operandi. His actions were most often self-serving. In the process he became a multi-multimillionaire. That's not bad for a born-again preacher.
How Religion Spoils Everything
Christopher Hitchens
Book Review With Commentary

Hitchens is not only fine story teller, but an accurate historian of religion. As an atheist he focuses on the bad points of religion; hence his sub-title. Our present take, is while societies everywhere practice religion of one sort or another, it is the uncommon extremists who co-opt religion (as well as other sectors of societies) for no good that are at the root of the association between Monotheism and Violence. Hitchens brings many new facts and common threads to that association. We recommend this book to all who are concerned about violence in today's world. It does not provide all the answers we need, but it is surely one brick in the wall otherwise known as the origins of violence.
"Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left doesn't get it."
Jim Wallis
Book Report With Commentary

The second subtitle: A New Vison for Faith and Politics in America resonates throughout the book. Politics and religion are both out of kilter in our day. Will the 2006 election repudiating Neocon and religious Right policies aiming at world dominance be a turning point? We can only hope so.
Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
Sam Harris
Book Review

"I know of no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable"
Sam Harris

With this simple statement, Harris captures his most basic thesis. The converse, of course is not true, a point which Harris makes again and again with poignant examples.
Excerpts from Der Spiegal On Line - December 26, 2005, 04:34 PM

SPIEGEL Interview with Evolution Philosopher Daniel Dennett

"Darwinism Completely Refutes Intelligent Design"
Wahhabism, an extreme form of Islam, has provided many foot soldiers for terrorist groups over most of the Middle East and much of the world. It is the state religion of Saudi Arabia and exerts much influence elsewhere in the Middle East.
Karen Armstrong
Book Review With Commentary

After summarizing the early myths, Armstrong gets down to business in the middle of her book.
About half the world has become monotheistic; most of the rest adhere to Eastern religions and philosophies; growing numbers are agnostic or atheistic.

God Again

by Leon Wieseltier
The New Republic

    ...It was amusing to watch the conservatives at the lectern argue that the monument of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the state capitol in Austin deserves the protection of the Court because it is the historical,
Revised 19 April 2006

Predator/victim and turf-war scenarios, so prevalent in nature, seem to carry over into civilizations living side by side.
Leaders of Judaism and Islam agree on one point. Religion is the rightful governor of the state. Catholics did too--until the Reformation. This belief no doubt came about within the religions themselves. In early times, religions arose from and were related to authority whether, family, tribal, city, king, or prophet in origin. Faith systems were needed desperately to provide, with some variations, a purpose to existence, a hereafter, and moral directives.

To properly understand a thesis, one must also understand its antithesis.
Once a great Religion, Taoism was virtually wiped out by Mao and the Communists. There are perhaps 20,000,000 Taoists on Earth today, principally in Taiwan.
Confucianism is one of the three great pillars of Chinese society that comes down to us today.
Monotheism is a compelling idea. At once, the monotheisms provide purpose and fellowship here and now with paradise hereafter for the faithful. See Religion and Violence for an eyeopener on the fellowship side.
Patriarch, Prophet, and Progenitor of prophets

Monotheism as we know it, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, began formally with Abraham even though he did not claim there are no other gods but God. He did claim that God is supreme.
Links For Research

About Judaism
Conservative Judaism
Judaism 101
Judaism and Jewish Resources
Reform Judaism
Talmud on line
Women in Judaism
Like Zionism, if we fail to understand the Muslim mind and society, we do so at our own peril. The primary tumor of this cancer called terror lies in Palestine. We must fully understand and appreciate the culture of each side before we can begin to formulate an effective long-term response. The Trade Center and Pentagon bombings were metastatic expressions.

Islam in the Middle East and Europe -- Some Ramifications of Cultures in Conflict
The Arabic word for peace is salaam; it is included in Arabic/Muslim greetings. Islam means surrender or submission in Arabic. A Muslim is one who submits to Allah. For many the word Muslim conjurs up thoughts of suicidal bombers. Such stereotyping of all Muslims may be faithful to the authoritarian way, but is wide of the mark.

Links For Research

About Hinduism
Hinduism Online
Hinduism: The Way of Life
Hindu Universe

Karma is a major element of the Hindu belief system.


There may be nearly as many views of God as there are people on earth. Some believe there is no god; others think God is revealed in nature; many others are polytheists; still others believe in some form of anthropomorphic god--the monotheists.
This branch of extremist Islam originated in India in 1867 as a reaction to Western colonialism. When Britain made it clear that India would be independent after WW II, The Muslim League, faced with the alternative of living in a Hindu state, declared their allegiance to Britain, and Pakistan emerged as a British colony separate from India in 1947. Nine years later Pakistan became fully independent.

What Buddhism is and isn't.

On this page we rely heavily on Buddhism and Zen by Zenzaki and McCandless, using many quotes.

Christian Evangelism

Preaching to convert others to Christianity is the work of evangelism. An early posting on provided the following introduction:

A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths
Bruce Feiler
Book Review with commentary

To know Abraham, one must also know something of one's self as well as of his scribes. With stunning insights, Feiler leads us through the hundreds of descriptions of Abraham across three faiths.