The Freethought Manifesto

Jul 1 19:02 2005 Punkerslut Print This Article

I started writing this in class on Tuesday, April 9, 2002 and finished on Sunday, April 14, 2002. The original version was composed in Computer Applications I class, sometime late in the year 2000. Many of my colleagues found it immensely thoughtful and logical. However, later I saw in it that it could have been written better; that certain parts could be clarified. Then, in the year 2001, I started work on a second version. Only parts of the original Manifesto were rewritten as needed and opinions redirected as appropriate. Now, I decided that an entire rewritting of the essay was in order to help make it sound more appealing and using better examples. Now, I present the Freethought Manifesto, version 3... (The only essay to be updated that many times so far out of nearly 100 essays, save for the essay "For 108" that practically has updates every few months.) Also, this is the first version of the Freethought Manifesto to be signed with "Punkerslut," whereas the others bear the name "Benjamin Tepolt."

I decided to switch the section of "Rationalism" to "Reason" and remove the words "Method" from the title of each section. This essay may roughly be regarded as a guide to clear thinking. Also,Guest Posting the section of "Principle" was removed. Nooooo!!! Well, actually, I removed it because it just seemed to be an erratic and unnecessary extension of the section of "Reason."

Introduction

Truth -- it is a thing of incredible and countless value. Yet we are given many various presentations, representations, misrepresentations, distortions, and abstractions of this institution of knowledge. From cultures to nations, science to myth, all acrose the globe from East to West, from the educated to the ignorant, everyone seemingly tries to have a monopoly on truth. Censorship is the tool of the tyrannical mind, ameliorating dissent of opinion and destroying liberty of conscience. Nations are filled with fear, people with hopelessness, and individuals are slaughtered. The ground that is stained with the blood of the heretic is the home of a triumphant beast -- a monstrous ignoramus. It has been a long-held doctrine by these indignant men that what is different is evil, what is obscure is malicious. They believe, that is to say, that the true of intellect has room enough for one branch, one leaf, and one that branch only one leaf. Their dark heart allows them the vain effort of smothering the creature of purity, the child of intellect -- to destroy individuality and liberty. To quote Robert Green Ingersoll...

I used to read in books how our fathers persecuted mankind. But I never appreciated it. I read it but it did not burn itself into my soul. I did not really appreciate the infamies that have been committed in the name of religion, until I saw the iron arguments that Christians used. I saw the Thumbscrew -- two little pieces of iron, armed on the inner surfaces with protuberances, to prevent their slipping; through each end a screw uniting the two pieces. And when some man denied the efficacy of baptism, or may-be said, "I do not believe that a fish ever swallowed a man to keep him from Drowning, then they put his thumb between these pieces of iron and in the name of love and universal forgiveness, began to screw these pieces together. When this was done most men said, "I will recant." Probably I should have done the same. Probably I would have said: "Stop; I will admit anything that you wish; I will admit that there is one god or a million, one hell or a billion; suit yourself; but stop."

But there was now and then a man who would not swerve the breadth of a hair. There was now and then some sublime heart, willing to die for an intellectual conviction. Had it not been for such men, we would be savages to-night. Had it not been for a few brave, heroic souls in every age, we would have been cannibals, with pictures of wild beasts tattooed upon our flesh, dancing around some dried snake fetich.

Let us thank every good and noble man who stood so grandly, so proudly, in spite of opposition, of hatred and death, for what he believed to be the truth. [The Liberty of All, by Robert Green Ingersoll, 1877.]

History has been plagued with the tyrants who believed they were capable of controlling the main stream of thought. They would not allow changes in current. Through censorship and torture, they were capable of forcing opinions on men and disallowing them from examining all the claims. Truth was held under the thumb of brutality and minds remained in shackles of bigotry and superstition. To those who seek truth, there are many paths to take. As I said, we are presented with numerous possibilities of truth. Some assert their religion over all other religions, some assert their empire over all other empires, as goes with culture, philosophy, science, morality, among other issues. Those who try to carve their own path of truth may often find themselves falling to the same hypocritical fallacies that hindered their ancestors -- the same dogmatic errors that caused themselves to break away from conventional wisdom. Nonetheless, history goes on. Wars will be waged, humans will be oppressed, individuals will be enslaved, religions will be propagated, and the whole of ignorance shall remain unchanged. There will be those who look for truth, as I have stated, but rarely will they change history unless they are -- as I shall describe -- Freethinkers. A Freethinker is a person whose thought is not constrained by the faulty arguments or reasoning for cultural, political, religious, ethical, or philosophical beliefs. To a Freethinker, the method is a thousand times more important than the conclusion, the reasons examined more than the deduction. If the history of civilization is changed at all, it is because of a Freethinker. If the history of civilization remains the same, a monotonous drone of repetition, of wars, of political strife, of oppression -- of all the things that make up "civilized humanity," -- then these people are not Freethinkers. Freethought is thought unconstrained.

Doubt

As I have stated before, we are given many ideas of exactly what truth is. Many religions are guilty of claiming to have a monopoly on truth -- and this monopoly is more often enforced with the sword than with arguments. To quote Thomas Paine, "Those who preach this doctrine of loving their enemies, are in general the greatest persecutors, and they act consistently by so doing; for the doctrine is hypocritical, and it is natural that hypocrisy should act the reverse of what it preaches." [The Age Of Reason, by Thomas Paine, Part II, Chapter III.] We are born into this world and opinions are forced on to us. It is quite likely that if a person's parent was a Christian, they will also be a Christian. It is quite likely that if a person's parent was a Muslim, they will also be a Muslim. This is not restricted to religion, though. A person born in a particular culture will likewise believe in the customs of that culture. This includes in areas of ethics, values, beliefs, religions, and creeds. If Genocide is accepted by a culture, many of those born in that culture will accept it. If Abortion is accepted by a culture, many of those born in that culture will accept it. To quote Herodotus...

Cambyses was raving mad; he would not else have set himself to make a mock of holy rites and long-established usages. For if one were to offer men to choose out of all the customs in the world such as seemed to them the best, they would examine the whole number, and end by preferring their own; so convinced are they that their own usages far surpass those of all others. Unless, therefore, a man was mad, it is not likely that he would make sport of such matters. That people have this feeling about their laws may be seen by very many proofs: among others, by the following. Darius, after he had got the kingdom, called into his presence certain Greeks who were at hand, and asked - "What he should pay them to eat the bodies of their fathers when they died?" To which they answered, that there was no sum that would tempt them to do such a thing. He then sent for certain Indians, of the race called Callatians, men who eat their fathers, and asked them, while the Greeks stood by, and knew by the help of an interpreter all that was said - "What he should give them to burn the bodies of their fathers at their decease?" The Indians exclaimed aloud, and bade him forbear such language. Such is men's wont herein; and Pindar was right, in my judgment, when he said, "Law is the king o'er all." [The Persian Wars, by Herodotus, Book 3, Paragraph 38.]

The fact is, we are often brainwashed by our surroundings, by our environment. And many of us are unaware of this fact. The first principle of Freethought is this: Doubt. To be able to doubt the truth of the statements given to us as truth by culture and religion. To quote Bertrand Russell, "Most of the greatest evils that man has inflicted upon man have come through people feeling quite certain about something which, in fact, was false." [Unpopular Essays, by Bertrand Russell, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1950), page 149.] I can point to countless examples of how lack of doubt has led to chaos and ignorance. Religions hold the best example. Their followers rarely doubt their doctrines for a moment yet there are thousands of religions all across the world. They all claim to be the sole holder of truth. In fact, they all claim that every other religion is false. Many of the followers, however, cannot claim to have been a member of that religion through investigation and examination. There many be a few who genuinly believe that they follow a certain creed due to evidence and logic, but often times such believes are credulous and the evidence relied upon is exagerated. The reason why religions are believed largely is due to people being born from parents of a certain religion. The Europeans and Americans, being a large percent Christian, will have Christian children, whereas the Asians, being a large percent Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist, will have children of said religion. To quote Edward Gibbon, "Religion is a mere question of geography." [What Great Men Think of Religion, by Ira D. Cardiff (Christopher Publishing House, 1945; reprint New York, Arno Press, 1972.)]

"Philosophy is doubt." -- Michel de Montaigne [Essays, Michel de Montaigne, 1580.]. Even beyond religion, culture appears to be the same. We are given culture from our community and our family, from being raised up. Although it is true that there may be shifts in society, evolution of creed and values, this is due to Freethinkers. One hundred years ago, Birth Control and Abortion were forbidden topics, and even to write about them -- even in personal letters -- was punishable by law. However, today abortion is not forbidden to speak of, and there are even clinics that give away free contraceptives. The reason why society has changed so radically in such a considerably small amount of time can be attributed to the development and progression of Freethought. Society is a machine and the gears are all turning in the same direction. The gear that turns in the opposite way, the gear that is not restricted to the same beliefs as the others, this gear -- this person -- is a Freethinker. Consider Nazi Germany, though. The Freethinkers in that society were rare. There was an underground outcry against the brutality rendered by the National Socialists. Dissent of opinion was punishable by death, whereas our current society often punishes it with abuse or ostracism. Take a long, hard glance at the mechanics of the Nazi Germany society and government. They did not foster Freethought. It was their deeply held ambition to instill in their people a patriotic, pious, nationalistic sentiment. It was the mindset that their government was the right one, that it needed defense against the Jews, and that those who are not for it are against it. Take a long, hard look, and you will see the absence of Freethought: Slavethought!

"The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cock-sure while the intelligent are full of doubt." -- Bertrand Russell [Be Reasonable: Selected Quotations for Inquiring Minds, by Laird Wilcox and John George, eds., (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1994).] If the Nazis are not enough of an example, consider the White Christian missionaries, who brought destruction and disorder to the lands that they visited. It was their frameset that they were perfectly right and without the slightest chance of being wrong. What, though, is the true difference between a scientist who has researched his claims and a White Christian missionary? The difference is clear: since the scientist has nothing to fear from doubt because his claims have evidence, he fosters doubt, whereas the White Christian missionary answers doubt with flame and torch. If an individual can answer arguments, can present evidence for their claims, can prove their position -- to every inquiry and to every argument -- then they are the ones who understand the essential of doubt. Those who ignore arguments, refuse to answer questions, and demand belief without proof -- faith and not reason -- these are the people who fail to understand the absolute necessity of doubt. The first principle of Freethought is Doubt. One must be able to understand that their arguments must be backed with evidence and inquiries must be answered. To push asside those who disagree with you is simply ignorance on an unleveled height. Further, still, doubt can never be feared. If it is, then it is simply a sign of the failure of the claim to reach expectations of evidence and logic. A true scientist and a true Freethinker will never fear doubt, but encourage it -- as new ways of thinking, new ways of solving problems and dilemmas of politics, ethics, and culture, are what Freethought is all about.

Reason

Of doubt, it is a wonderful thing, ushering in new ideas and allowing us to dispell old ones. Yet, once we have doubt -- once we understand that nothing is too traditional or too new to question -- then we need a judge to decide what is true and false, between what is credible and credulous. There is nothing so preservering in this area as Reason. This institution, Reason, can be defined as thus: basing the validity of a claim on evidence, on its own self-consistency, and consistency within the realm of other considered facts. To the first attribute of Reason, evidence, it can be further explained as reasons that we may be led to believe that something is correct or truthful. To the second attribute of Reason, self-consistency, it can be further explained as something that does not contradict itself. For example, a blue, red car cannot exist, as something cannot be combinely two colors at once. It may be stripped, with one stripe being red and the other blue, or it may be mixed with one color being red or one being blue, but it cannot be wholly blue and red at the same time. To the third attribute of Reason, consistency within the realm of other considered facts, it can be further explained as one fact not contradicting another. If we understand that the world goes around the Sun as a fact, and conversely understand that the Sun goes around the world as a fact, one must be incorrect, as both propositions cannot be correct at the same time.

Through Reason, we can differentiate false claims between correct claims. It will allow us to understand what ideology is incorrect and what ideology is correct. However, there are some ideologies that reject Reason on principle. They argue that, for some reason or another, to use Reason when understanding the Universe is blasphemous; that Faith, and nothing else, is to be our (blind) guide when considering what is right and what is wrong. To accept ignorance as doctrine and stupidity as mindset is the cowardice of intellectual grouth. Those who cannot accept something on Reason because it is accepting something on Reason -- those who would choose the curiosity and intelligence growth of the graveyard -- are traitors to the ethic of science, fools of fools. To quote Ethan Allen...

Those who invalidate reason, ought seriously to consider, "whether they argue against reason, with or without reason; if with reason, then they establish the principle, that they are laboring to dethrone;" but if they argue without reason, (which, in order to be consistent with themselves, they must do,) they are out of the reach of rational conviction, nor do they deserve a rational argument. [Reason: The Only Oracle of Man, by Ethan Allen, from the Boston, J.P. Mendum, Cornhill, 1854 edition.]

One imperative nature of Reason is that the conclusion is less important than the evidence. A scientist is a scientist because of his methodology, just as a Freethinker is a Freethinker because of how he arrives at his conclusion. A person may be led to believe that atoms or germs do not exist, or other many other conclusions that we know today to be false, and they can still be just as much a scientist or a Freethinker. It is imperative that one bases their claims on evidence and on reasoning, and they though do so solely on such foundations. An example of evidence leading to a conclusion would be witnesses of a crime, a murder weapon, finger prints of the suspect on the murder weapon, and evidence placing the suspect at the scene of the crime. This would be evidence leading to the conclusion that the suspect had committed the crime. However, evidence is more important than the conclusion. If individuals, prosecutors, judges, jury members, and others all become so convinced that someone committed a crime, without much of a look over the evidence, then they are Slavethinkers and ignoramuses. Later in this case, though, it could later be proven that there was a mismatch on the finger prints on the murder weapon, that the weapon they found was not used to kill the victim, and that the witnesses later assert that they were unsure they saw the suspect. If people were so engrossed with the conclusion previously attained, that the suspect did kill the victim, then they would have no need or desire to look over the evidence. They would be quick to render a verdict of guilty.

Some may find this scenario difficult to believe, however. I can point to many real world cases of individuals putting more importance on the conclusion than the evidences. Many religious individuals are more set on accepting any evidence than confirms their religion, thus we have the plethora of (often contradictory and absolutely ridiculous) arguments coming from Ontological Arguments, Cosmological Arguments, Teleological Arguments, Benefitial Arguments, Faith Arguments, among others. In my essay "Those Krazy Kreationists 5: Jesus-Is-Lord," I criticized a Christian's writing. In one of their writings that had encouraged Christians to evangelize and convert, they had said, "Your attitude has to be 'I don't care what you say, I believe in the Lord!'" In my essay "Examining An Argument 3: Debate On Nutrition," I talked to someone concerning whether protein drinks were necessary to keep healthy. I brought scientific evidence from many different articles and different books, as well as the United States Department of Agriculture and popular magazines. His responses were hardly scientific, one of them being, "Next thing you'll be telling me is that a bannana is actually a cow's penis and water is actually a cow's sperm." One of his final statements, prior to ending the debate, was "You haven't convinced me at all." Anton Szander LaVey, for another example, condemned using real magic when trying to prove that magic is real. To quote him...

"The amount of energy needed to levitate a cup (genuinely) would be of sufficient force to place an idea in a group of people's heads half-way across the earth, in turn, motivating them in accordance with your will. The Satanist knows that even if you succeeded in lifting the teacup from the table, it would be assumed that trickery was used anyway. Therefore, if the Satanist wants to float objects in mid-air, he uses wires, mirrors, or other devices, and saves his force for self-aggrandizement." [The Satanic Bible, written by Anton Szander LaVey, published by Yankee Rose, Page 121.]

I had criticized Anton LaVey's Satanism before in my critique, "A Critique of Satanism," (V. 2). To LaVey, the conclusion that magic was real was the emphasis of his statements. However, the method to prove that magic was real was entirely irrelevant. If, by using mirrors, wires, and other devices to prove that magic was real, if this method was sufficient in doing so, then he advised its usage. If accepting a person's word that magic was real was a good enough evidence to an audience, then certainly, LaVey would rely upon it. The conclusion I am reaching is that people often become obsessed with the conclusion, that they are quick to throw the reasons asside. In fact, some of the reasons that bring people to their conclusions are credulous to begin with. Taoism, for example, is based on nature and its wondrous beauty. Although it may be true that the cathedral of nature offers splendor aplenty, to make it into a religion is unbelievably dogmatic. It is to assert, "This is so magnificent and emotionally overwhelming, there must be some higher force guiding it." Thus, we have religions made over heroes, over the unseen, over men, and now over nature. The reason leading to justification of Taoism is that it is Nature, or that it is natural, which is certainly no credible reason at all. It, rather, relies on sensory justification (the beauty of nature). However, to the point, people become more obsessed with conclusions than with reasons. They quickly become ignorant and indignant of anything contrary to their conclusion. So, even if their conclusion is based on some evidence, the progress of science, knowledge, and Freethought is limited, restricted, because they would be unwilling to examine other systems of thought.

To do away with a conclusion is not what I am advocating at all. I am simply advocating that a conclusion should entirely be based on evidence. This idea must be incorporated wholly. If, for example, we have mounting evidence that someone murdered their friend for their money, it may certainly be true. However, if we later discover that none of the friend's money was taken, then the conclusion -- "A person murdered their friend for their money," -- would be inaccurate. The conclusion must be wholly molded by evidence. A proper conclusion would be, "A person murdered their friend."

There is more to Reason, though, than just creating conclusions based on evidence. Reason also includes questioning the evidences brought forth for other theories. One of the methods of doing this is applying evidences of one cause to another. For example, if someone says that the reason it is acceptable to enslave another human is because they are superior, then we can apply this evidence to another cause. According to this reasoning, it would also be acceptable for men to rape women, because they are more muscular or "superior." It would be acceptable for the strongest man on the Earth to force all the other men to do everything he wants them to do on the grounds of superiority. Or someone may state that their god is the only god because scripture from some religious resource denotes as such. However, Hindu scripture speaks of the Hindu gods and Islamic scripture speaks of the Islamic god. If we follow the reasoning that scripture can prove one god over another, then we will have thousands of religions all proving themselves correct simply because they have scripture to back them up. Such would be a break in the foundation of Reason: that a fact cannot contradict already proven facts. In this case, numerous Monotheistic religions would be proven. The nature of Monotheism is that there is one god. If the Monotheism of different religions are proven, then we have many, solitary gods existing, which would be impossible.

"Homosexuality is immoral because it is unnatural." If someone made this statement, what could be deduce about their reasoning? Well, we would understand from their reasoning that anything that is unnatural is immoral. Therefore, if the alphabet and language were unnatural, then they would be immoral to use. If housing was unnatural, then it would also be immoral to build a house or live in a house. Someone may argue, "It is acceptable to kill animals so we can eat their meat, because we have teeth designed to consume flesh." The reasoning from this argument is that anything that is designed to do something may do just that. A gun, for example, is designed to shoot and kill, and therefore murder is acceptable. If a tool was devised to assist in rape, then it would also be acceptable. Of course, this is all based on the reasoning utilized in the argument that it is acceptable to kill animals because we have teeth designed to consume flesh. Another person may state that it is right to love your enemies because the Bible says so. The reasoning behind this argument assumse that everything the Bible says is correct. One could argue then that, "Slavery is acceptable, because Ephesians 6:5 in the Bible allows it." When we examine claims and the reasoning behind them, we should apply the reasoning to other scenarios and see if the person making the claim agrees. If they do not, then their claim is false, because the reasoning is false. If they do agree with it, then perhaps they are truly consistent with what they believe, or more investigation may be needed. (Or, as my next section shall deduce, a principle must be met.)

Then, the argument may come back to me, "What if we use the wrong methods, but attain the right conclusion?" I would be largely inquisitive of such a claim, that unreasonable methods were used to reach a reasonable conclusion. An example of this would be someone saying, "My thumb is green, therefore the world is round." Can we possibly learn that the world is round by one's thumb being green? I seriously doubt that such is possible. Of course, to those of us who believe that the world is round, what can we say to such a statement? Can we support it? If we have any ounce of scientific integrity in us, then we cannot. To support an evidence that leads to your conclusion, simply because it leads to your conclusion, is ignorance and fanaticism. As I have said before, people are far too concerned with conclusions and give rarely any weight to evidence unless it supports their conclusions. However, we must oppose faulty reasoning that supports our conclusion just as we must oppose faulty reasoning that supports contrary conclusions. If someone said, "The smartest scientists on the planet are Atheists, therefore I am an Atheist," or if someone said, "The smartest theologians on the planet are Christians, therefore I am a Christian," I could support neither statement. Both use the same faulty reasoning: that what others believe can be used as evidence for a conclusion.

There are numerous false arguments presented by individuals to try and prove their claims. Many false arguments are labeled specifically, some with Latin words. Here are some of those arguments...

Ad Hominem -- This argument is based rather on attacking the person presenting a claim rather than the actual claim. An example of this would be a person contending that animals deserve the right to life, and then being called, "A tree-hugging idiot." The reason why this argument is false is because whether or not someone is insulted, it does not disregard their claim. Furthermore, rather than simply being a false argument, it is simple etiquette not to insult someone, especially when they may feel emotionally vulnerable after presenting a new idea to a large group of people.

Appeal to Authority -- When a person states that another person backs up their claims, then they are making an appeal to authority. This argument can be presented by simply stating another agrees with. It is not to be confused with presenting evidence from observers. If someone states that Charles Darwin noted moral behavior in the lower animals while trying to argue that all beings can feel moral sentiments, this is not an Appeal to Authority so much as it is evidence of a claim.

Appeal to Belief -- To argue that, since all people believe something, therefore it must be true, is to make an Appeal to Belief. This is false because it has supported false claims. At one time, it was largely believed that the world was flat. It does not mean that the world is flat, or that it was flat, at all.

Appeal to Tradition -- Similar to the Appeal to Belief, an Appeal to Tradition argues that since we have always done something, it must be the right way to do something. This argument is false because whether or not something has always been practiced, it does not offer any validitity to its justification.

Circumstantial Ad Hominem -- Like the Ad Hominem argument, this claim is to state that since someone holds a particular background, that is the only reason that they are making such arguments. An example of this would be, "The only reason he is arguing that he deserves the money is because he wants the money!" This is an Ad Hominem argument because it focuses more on the arguer rather than the argument. It is fallacious because, whether or not someone is arguing for a particular cause because of personal benefit, their arguments could still hold merit.

Personal Attack (AKA: Ad Hominem Abusive) -- Just as the Ad Hominem argument, focuses on the debater and not the debate, the Personal Attack tries to substitute an abusive remark for an argument. An example of this would be someone who brings evidence forth evidence that the planet Jupiter has eighteen instead of the seventeen moons it is believed to have, and then someone replying, "Well, at least I did not waste any of my time looking through a telescope trying to figure it out." Again, just like Ad Hominem, not only is this a fallacious argument because it leaves the argument unaffected, but it is simple etiquette that do not make Personal Attacks.

Poisoning the Well -- This argument is similar to Ad Hominem. It claims that due to a particular individual's background, what they or what they may have done, all of their claims are fallacious. For example, "John is a Fascist, therefore when he states that the Earth goes around the Sun, the fact is that the Sun must go around the Earth." The problem with this claim is that whether or not someone has done something, it does not mean

Post Hoc -- This is a popular false argument. When someone has a problem confusing cause and effect, or failing to understand true causes, etc., it is most likely a Post Hoc argument. An example of this would be someone stating, "Israel became a nation. This happened because the Bible predicted it would happen." Another example of this would be someone saying, "Joseph is breathing. I am thinking. Therefore, my thoughts are capable of controlling the physical Universe around me." Or, as one person stated in my essay "Examining An Argument 1: Debate on Education," they said, "Look at Third World countries where people are starving. They don't have food, they have no water, and they also don't have mandatory education. If they had mandatory education, then they wouldn't be starving." The flaw with this argument is that although it may be true that Third World countries have starving populations without mandatory education, the fact that scuh countries lack mandatory education does not mean that it is the cause of their starvation. Post Hoc is to assume that simply because A happens before B, that A is the cause of B.

Strawman -- Although a commonly used argument, the Strawman is nonetheless false. It is simply to exagerate the position of your opponent. Kent Hovind once said, "Evolution says that a croc' came from a rock." (Referring to a crocodile.) Evolution does not state as such at all. Evolution states that organisms rise and fall through the law of Natural Selection, which keeps animals alive or kills them. Another example of this argument would be one person saying that we should raise the taxes by 0.5%, and another person responding, "I don't understand why you want to take all of our money away from us." The Strawman argument is fallacious because it does not deal with the claims of the opposition debater, but rather makes mockery of them.

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." -- Carl Sagan [The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, by Carl Sagan, page 213, published by Ballantine Books.] This is an important observation to note while trying to think clearly. Just because we do not have proof of something, it does not mean that such a thing is impossible. For example, there is no proof of invisible goblins yet they could certainly possibly exist. The same goes for other possibilities. The fact that they lack evidence does not mean they cannot exist. Another good example would be god. There is no proof of such an entity yet that does not mean that such a being could not possibly exist. So, from a Freethinker's point of view, how are we to view these theories that could possibly be true yet have not assisting evidence? Since there is no possibility of really furthering the truth of such a theory, without discovering evidence, such claims have to be left at that: possible yet without evidence.

The first principle of Reason is Doubt. When there is an open field to question everything that has been practiced, then truth will be reached. There are some who oppose doubt ideologically, but such individuals who cannot question, who cannot be defiant to the evils of society -- their status speaks for itself: when it comes to the ethic of open mindedness, they are cowards. They are thousands of miles away from Freethought. The second principle of Reason is to value the reasons more than the conclusions. People often become too emotional wrapped in conclusions so that they often ignore evidence, even the evidence that opposes their claims strongly. As well, even though a false evidence can support a correct conclusion, or appear to support a correct conclusion, we should not support such statements. For some to say, "My favorite television show is Married With Children, therefore, the president's taxation law is unconstitutional," is using a false evidence to support a (possibly, in this case) correct claim.

Conclusion

Through Freethought, we are capable of differentiating truthful claims from fallacious claims. We are capable of understanding the very nature of this institution called truth. Through our own faculties of understanding and comprehension, as well as questioning and doubt, we are allowed the ability of seeing things for what they are, for understanding without bias and without bigotry. Freethinkers, as I have said, are the individuals who have changed the course that society takes. We are the individuals who have our focus aimed on truth. To this end, although I may not speak for the others, I work to be as affectionate and reasonable as possible. While some admire the beauty of the tree of knowledge, the Freethinker is the gardener. Like a bright star in a dark sky, the Freethinkers are the leaders of radical and new movements, all moving towards a more humane and rational goal. Yet unlike bright stars in a dark sky, Freethinkers do not have to be small in number. The concepts of Freethought are certainly not limited to a strict few. Sadly, they have rarely been incorporated. People throughout history have all too often been too interested in profit or power to allow science to flourish. This is true science, true Freethought. When a king holds his people under his thumb without giving them the air of knowledge to breath, without giving them the spirit of heart to unite, Freethought is rare. Without Freethought, it is only a fact that civilization deteriorates and life becomes harsh. The Dark Ages can confirm this, as dissent of opinion was punished with the most severe of blows and persecution was practiced by the aristocracy and the clergy. Yet, Freethought will flourish where there is a spark of brightness in the mind of an inquiring individual, where there is a keen interest in truth to the open eyes of a person, where someone values compassion and science above the vices of contemporary society.

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Punkerslut
Punkerslut

Punkerslut (or Andy Carloff) has been writing essays and poetry on social issues which have caught his attention for several years. His website www.punkerslut.com provides a complete list of all of these writings. His life experience includes homelessness, squating in New Orleans and LA, dropping out of high school, getting expelled from college for "subversive activities," and a myriad of other revolutionary actions.

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