The atheist, agnostic, or secularist … should guard against the encroachment of religion in areas where it has no place, and in particular the control of education by religious authority. The attempts to ban the teaching of evolution or other scientific theories — a feeble echo of medieval church tyranny and hostility to learning, but an echo nonetheless are serious threats to freedom of inquiry and should be vigorously combated.
The prose of Joe Pulver can take its place with that of the masters of our genre – E.A. Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Ramsey Campbell, Thomas Ligotti – while his imaginative reach is something uniquely his own.
The atheist, agnostic, or secularist … should insist on the need to engage in a meaningful debate on the entire issue of the truth or falsity (or probability or improbability) of religious tenets, without being subject to accusations of impiety, immorality, impoliteness, or any of the other smokescreens used by the pious to deflect attention from the central issues at hand.
God’s existence needs to be established independently before he can be brought into account for causation; it cannot be assumed at the start.
The decline of witch-belief was . . . entirely the product of religious skepticism. . . . The Catholic Church did not reform itself on this matter; it was forced by outside pressure to reform. To be sure, the Protestant churches were no better in this regard; it is simply that they had less time – only two or three centuries – to engage in the torching of witches. After all, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, stated quite correctly that disbelief in witches meant a disbelief in the Bible.
When I read passages like this, I want to look for the nearest wall to bang my head against.
I myself am not comfortable with the notion of secularists congregating in groups, except perhaps for defensive purposes: the last thing a secularist should wish to do is to act like a religion, with its rigid hierarchies, its suppression of divergent opinion, and, above all, its ruthless attempts (now mercifully inhibited by laws) to outlaw “heresy” by brute force. Opinions must be changed, one at a time if necessary, but if there are those who wish to persist in religious belief, they should certainly be allowed to do so.
Richard Gavin is one of the bright new stars in contemporary weird fiction. His richly textured style, deft character portrayal, and powerful horrific conceptions make every one of his tales a pleasure to read.