Religionskritisches von William Josephus Robinson

The Existence or Non-Existence of God


William J. Robinson

Herausgegeben von Alois Payer (

Zitierweise / cite as:

Robinson, William J. (William Josephus) <1867 - 1936>: The Existence or Non-Existence of God.  -- Fassung vom 2007-11-17. -- URL:            

Ursprünglich erschienen in:

Robinson, William J. (William Josephus) <1867 - 1936>: If I were God : a freethinker's faith. Incorporating a discussion between the author and a catholic priest. -- New York : Freethought Press, 1930. -- 186 S. -- S. 161 - 166. -- Online: -- Zugriff am 2007-11-16

Erstmals publiziert: 2007-11-16



Dieser Text ist Teil der Abteilung Religionskritik  von Tüpfli's Global Village Library


I ASSUMED in the previous pages that God exists, and I have proved, I believe beyond the possibility of successful contradiction, that from the very believer's point of view, if God exists he must be either a powerless, useless God, or a very cruel, monstrous God. I have proved, that assuming the existence of God there is no way out of it: either horn of the dilemma must be accepted.

But there is another way out: to assume the non-existence of any God. And this is the only way. It is the only belief a non-belief is also a belief that independent, courageous thinkers can hold. Here it will be necessary to be boldly outspoken, for a little while. This is one of those topics, which if treated at all, are to be handled frankly, courageously, without mincing words and without hemming and hawing; otherwise they are to be let alone altogether. And it must be stated frankly, that to the genuine freethinker, the belief in the existence of a God, who interests himself in the smallest details of the life of every human being, who consciously controls a person's destiny, his health or disease, his accidents, his talents, his successes and failures, his earning capacity, his poverty or wealth, and finally the hour and manner of his death, is so absurd, so grotesque, as to amount to a sort of insanity. He knows very well, the freethinker or atheist does, that the millions who hold this belief are not insane in the ordinary sense of the word ; they may be even very clever, cultured and truly educated, but this belief is nevertheless insane. A child may hold such beliefs, may believe in Santa Claus, in fairies, in hobgoblins, in gnomes, etc., and not be called insane ; we say the child is childish; and we call his beliefs childish. But when a fully so-called adult reasoning person holds such unreasonable, unproved, grotesque beliefs, we have a right to call them insane. However, if you object to the adjective insane, we will use unless we forget the word childish or infantile.

Abb.: Idol
[Bildquelle: Frank s: Dobbins: Error's chains, 1883. -- S. 390]

And the freethinker further maintains that there is not the slightest difference between the Christian, Jew and Mohammedan praying to God for rain, for wind, for good crops, for success in business, for saving a dying child from death, etc., and the Roman of three thousand years ago who prayed to Jupiter, or the savage of five thousand years ago who prayed to the sun, to a stone, or to an idol which he himself had whittled out from a piece of wood. Not the slightest difference not only no difference in kind ; not even in degree. This point is worthy of special emphasis. We, as psychologists, know that prayer, no matter to whom or to what offered, brings relief. It is a form one of several of catharsis, and will often soothe a tortured soul; but the belief that it is Jehovah, Jesus, the Virgin Mary of the prophet Mohammed that actually intercedes and brings about the thing prayed for is absolutely equivalent to the belief of the primitive savage that it is his wooden stick or god that has cured him from his disease or answered his prayer or made his enemy die or brought him the good fortune he was asking for. Not the slightest difference. Upon this point it is important to insist.

Abb.: Hl. Antonius von Padua
[Bildquelle: Wikipedia]

Thousands of examples could be given that the religionist of to-day, even if cultured and educated, does not differ in his beliefs and superstitions from the savage of five or ten thousand years ago. One or two will have to suffice. The writer knows a Frenchwoman she is chic, clever, cultured. A fine musician and singer, and sparkling in repartee. This cultured Frenchwoman believes that if you lose a thing and put up a candle to St. Anthony of Padua, he finds the thing for you, or helps you to find it. No argument would shake her in her belief. She once lost a little pearl necklace which she looked for for days and days unsuccessfully. She then put up a candle to St. Anthony, and two days later, she found the necklace. And this, to her, is an unimpeachable, unshakable argument. She would mislay something in the house; she would then say: "St. Anthony of Padua, help me to find the scissors or the wristwatch," or whatever it might be; and if she finds it the credit is given to St. Anthony. Half a dozen times she lost things and went to church and put up candles and the things were not found. This does not make any difference with her. It simply means that those things St. Anthony didn't want her to find ; he knew that for some reason it was better for her not to find them; but if he had wanted, she would have found them. And if she lost a hundred things more and failed to recover them in spite of offering a hundred candles to St. Anthony of Padua, this would not shake her belief in Anthony as a finder of lost or stolen things. The law of cause and effect has not touched her at all. When I ask her, how can a dead saint help you to find your things, and do you think this would be a respectable occupation for a saint to bother with everybody's pearl necklace, hair comb, buttonhook, etc., she answers with a superior smile : "Oh, you don't understand, for you have no faith." Now, in what respect is such a brain, capable of such an absurd belief, different from the brain of a savage of five or ten thousand years ago?

Abb.: Jungfrau Maria
[Bildquelle: Wikipedia]

I know another woman, whose sister's child died. When she gave birth to a child, she dedicated it to the Virgin Mary and vowed to dress it all in blue to the age of five; and she is convinced, unshakably convinced, that her boy lived because she dressed him only in blue. If she had dressed him in another color (except white), he would have died, the same as her sister's child did. That millions of other children survive who are not dedicated to the Virgin and who are not dressed in blue or white has no effect on her infantile reasoning powers.

In another place I related the case of an American woman who came from California on a trip to Egypt ; one of the beggars there claimed that he could foretell the future, and that cultivated woman gave the man half a dollar to tell her whether oil will be struck on her property in California! When I asked her how could an Egyptian beggar, who didn't even know if such a land as California existed and where it was, tell her if there would be oil struck on her property, she answered with the stupid and hackneyed quotation: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy." That was the quality of her brain not superior to that of the Egyptian beggar who bamboozled her out of half a dollar.

But it isn't women only who have such primitive brains.

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