We all know that the belief system embraced by the Jehovah’s Witnesses did not exist in the year 1782. However, there have been numerous individuals throughout history that have been infected with the evangelical mindset and there have also been atheists throughout history. I recently read a most infamous book that had a dialog between a true believer and an atheist. I quote a bit of it below hoping that some of you might find the arguments interesting and insightful. Can any of you guess who the author and book are? Be prepared for a surprise if nobody figures out who wrote it….
PRIEST—Then you do not believe in God at all? . . . At that rate there is no great need for me to talk to you about religion.
DYING MAN—True, but why not anyhow? Nothing so much amuses me as this sign of the extent to which human beings have been carried away by fanaticism and stupidity, although the prodigious spectacle of folly we are facing here may be horrible, it is always interesting. Answer me honestly, and endeavor to set personal considerations aside. Were I weak enough to fall victim to your silly theories concerning the fabulous existence of the being who renders religion necessary, under what form would you advise me to worship him? Would you have me adopt the daydreams of Confucius rather than the absurdities of the Brahma, should I kneel before the great snake to which the Blacks pray, invoke the Peruvians sun or Moses’ Lord of Hosts, to which Mohammedan sect should I rally, or which Christian heresy would be preferable in your view? Be careful how you reply.
PRIEST—Can it be doubtful?
DYING MAN--Then ‘tis egotistical.
PRIEST—No my son, ‘tis as much out of love for thee as for myself I urge thee to embrace my creed.
DYING MAN—And I wonder how the one or the other of us can have much love for himself, to deign to listen to such degrading nonsense.
PRIEST—But who can be mistaken about the miracles wrought by our Divine Redeemer?
DYING MAN—He who sees in him anything else than the most vulgar of all tricksters and the most arrant of all impostors.
PRIEST—O God, you hear him and your wrath thunders not forth!
DYING MAN—No my friend, all is peace and quiet around us, because your god, be it form impotence or from reason or from whatever you please, is a being whose existence I shall momentarily concede out of condescension for you or, if you prefer, in order to accommodate myself to your sorry little perspective, because this god, I say, were he to exist, as you are made enough to believe, could not have selected as means to persuade us, anything more ridiculous than those your Jesus incarnates.
(Several interesting pages later…)
DYING MAN—There you are, my friend, those are the only principles we should observe and you need neither god nor religions to appreciate and subscribe to them, you need only have a good heart. But I feel my strength ebbing away preacher, put away your prejudices, unbend, be a man, be human, without fear and without hope forget your gods and your religions too: they are none of them good for anything but to set man at odds with man and the mere name of these horrors has caused greater loss of life on earth than all other wars and all other plagues combined. Renounce the idea of another world: there is none, but do not renounce the pleasure of being happy and of making for happiness in this. Nature offers you no other way of doubting your existence, of extending it. -My friend, lewd pleasures were ever dearer to me than anything else. I have idolized them all my life and my wish has been to end in their bosom: my end draws near, six women lovelier than the light of day are waiting in the chamber adjoining. I have reserved them for this moment, partake of the feast with me, following my example embrace them instead of the vain sophistries of superstition, under their caresses strive for a little while to forget your hypocritical beliefs.
The dying man rang, the women entered, and after he had been a little while in the arms the preacher became one who Nature has corrupted, all because he had not succeeded in explaining what a corrupt nature is.