The Tyranny of God by Joseph Lewis

Joseph Lewis 1889 - 1968

The rotundity of the earth was discussed and its circumference scientifically measured hundreds of years before the supposed birth of Christ, and had not the "God believers" been so persistent in foreing their beleif upon others, and had not Christianity been born, I can see how the discovery of America would have been accomplished about a thousand years before the discovery by Columbus; and the incalculable progress which would have been the consequence would have carried mankind beyond the boldest imagination of to-day, and placed us a thousand years nearer civilization.

Heron, a mathematician, who lived at the time when the Greek minds were the marvel of the world, invented a steam engine, which was used in experiments and was rapidly nearing completion and perfection, when, unfortunately, ignorant and destructive Religion, that was madly trampling upon everything of value, destroyed the famous Alexandrian Library wherein was kept a model of this engine.

Ancient Library at Alexandria:
Exterior Reconstruction

This rendition of the ancient Library of Alexandria was inspired by Carl Sagan's, Cosmos Series. Founded around the year 300B.C. by Ptolemy I it was one of the most important libraries of its time. The library of Alexandria contained over 700,000 volumes. The library of Alexandria was destroyed in 391A.D.
The atrium of the Alexandria Library

Heron of Alexandria (c. 10–70 AD)    

Heron's Aeolipile – World’s first Steam Engine

     It also swept away the incalculable wealth of knowledge that had required ages to accumulate, and thereby completely annihilated the most priceless possessions that the human race ever owned.
     But that is not all; it is only a fragment. For history at every stage of life shows the continual strife between the forces of progress and the religious fanatic and God believer.
    What is that strange form of insanity that prompts of insanity that prompts people to torture and to destroy those who seek to emancipate them from the Tyranny of God and from the deluded belief in a hereafter.

   The attitude of all, each and every one of us, should ever be the desire and willingness to greet a new idea, to support a new thought, to try a new proposal, to do all in our power to uphold the forces of progress, to lend our help and to devote our energies in any direction that will ultimately lead us from the cruel forces and narrow limitations that are our lot to share.

   To those who have no thought for these things, who care not what forces and conditions man must face, who take without thought and give only through compulsion, whose self-satisfied condition (made possible only by the heroic work of the martyrs of progress) make of them personal heroes, whose life is wrapped within the flicker of a day, who do not know, do not realize, and do not care about the fearful suffering of the world - I say to them to strut their intoxicated hour and pass away. The sooner they live their lives and the sooner they die, the better for the earth. It needs fertilization.
  Where we as mentally progressive as we are materially advanced, what a wonderful and magnificent improvement over the present living conditions we would be enjoying! Every new invention every new improvement would be immediately and universally installed, and every old and antiquates instrument and method would be discarded and destroyed. That which now seems only within the command of the households of the immensely wealthy, would be as popularly used and enjoyed as the now commonly used articles in the poorest households.
   Think of existing to-day in a predominant percentage of dwellings for human beings where there is not found the essential bathtub, or the still more essential toilet room!
   Governments are instituted for the people's benefit, and shame upon such a government, in an enlightened age like to-day, that tolerates such a condition, when the government possesses the men, the means, the intellect and the materials to electrify the world!
   The first and foremost essential in higher development is the comfort and conveniences in a home.
   These are some of the conditions that the progressive minds of the world are trying to solve and remedy. It is only a question of how much longer the majority of people will pay homage to an imaginary God for imaginary benefits in an imaginary life after death.
(The Tyranny of God, pp. 105-109)

  • The Tyranny of God (1921)
  • Lincoln, the Freethinker (1925)
  • Jefferson, the Freethinker (1925)
  • The Bible Unmasked (1926)
  • Franklin, the Freethinker (1926)
  • Burbank, the Infidel (1929)
  • Voltaire, the Incomparable Infidel (1929)
  • Atheism, a collection of his public addresses (1930)
  • The Bible and the Public Schools (1931)
  • Should Children Receive Religious Instruction? (1933)
  • The Ten Commandments (1946)
  • Thomas Paine, Author of the Declaration of Independence (1947)
  • In the Name of Humanity (1949)
  • An Atheist Manifesto (1954)
  • Ingersoll, The Magnificent (1957)


  1. Part 1:
    Inspirational stuff. Nevertheless, let me object about some unaccurancies I think I must point at.
    First, the absolute relationship that Joseph Lewis seems to establish between the rise of Christianity and the oblivion of Science. The author focuses only in the western, christian world. All natural, since he was raised in such world, but what about the rest of the world? In the Far East, nothing such as a monotheistic religion seemed to develop, and indeed China experienced remarkable achievements in the field of Science... long before its european counterparts. But then, Science came to a dead end, or perhaps a different path much slower than its european counterpart, a key factor in the fall of the Chinese Empire under the rule of western colonial intervention in the XIX century. Japan was quick enough to send young students to Europe to learn and bring back the tools of modernization, but in the end Europe surpassed them in the technology field... even though XIX century's Europe was yet a very christianized society.
    Second, one of the most promising scenarios for Science took place in the Ionian islands, long before Christianity, and it was severed by the same kind of superstition and fear from the powerful to have to deal with a literate population than christian rulers. Sadly, all the marvelous achievements of the ionians, or of the wise men and women (few of these, I'm afraid, with remarkable exceptions like Hypathia) that worked at, with or from the Great Library, were lost because they weren't able to reach the big mass of the population, still illiterate and haunted by everyday problems and fears that Science of the time was unable to come and cure.
    So, another face of the disaster was that scientists of the Classical Ages couldn't, or didn't even try to, offer something profitable to the man in the street. And Religion, a new one which promised a happy afterlife free from the misery in which they lived, that claimed that all men were equal in the face of a loving God, at least offered something that Science didn't give them: hope.
    Don't take me wrong, I'm an atheist myself. I believe that all gods are the work of human mind, in an attempt to put a manageable face and intentions to something so great and misterious as is this Universe and the role we play in it. It's something that has more to do with basic, animal and psychological needs than rational ones. No Religion can seriously debate on a rational ground (it's a pathetic exercise when they attempt to, i.e. the Creationism) but where they are almost undefeatable is in the emotions, "heart" field. Because they trade with compassion, with the satisfaction of intimate needs that all humans have, and with a medicine to cure the distress of the unknown and gives hope in the face of a short, and many times not very happy life. And I respect that talent for what it worths, and never will try to fight in that field with the tools of Science. Understanding why we feel so, why we look for the protection of a god, which are the anthopological roots of all this human creation of religion and the gods, can't beat the desperate need of many to grab this supernatural help that eases their hearts and gives them comfort in an ever.changing world full of pain, loss and fear to the unknown.

  2. Part 2:
    Best thing I can hope, only social justice, a promising future for everybody, the promise of a good life for you and your children, a quiet acknowledgement of mortality as a gift from Nature to keep things going, the support of friends, relatives and society all along in face of the death of our loved ones, even premature... Only all this will put the gods in the mythological shelve they belong to. And all this starts not through Science. Science is just a tool, neutral and ready to be used for good or for bad. Our responsability is to make the best use we can of it and of its methods, and demand to those who lead us the fullfillment of Justice on Earth, and that the fruits of Science are at everybody's reach, not at the service of the greed of a few.
    Justice and love are the guides. Science is the key. Religion is part of our childhood as a species, and it's time we grow up and learn to face the real world without a misterious, loving and inexistent father that allegedly looks for us.

    P.S.: I said I'm an atheist. Not at all true, I'm a pagan. Ready to accept that gods are man-made, I prefer to choose the symbols to resume and understand the unconmensurable from a brighter tradition. One in which sex is not a sin, and celebrates Nature and its cycles!


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