28 December 2010

A Freethinker: Annie Besant

I chanced upon Annie Besant after returning from spending a typical Caribbean Christmas with friends and family.

Annie Besant was an incredibly interesting woman, brave and intelligent at a time where women were devalued. Here is a quote from a book she wrote 'My Path to Atheism' (1885, 3rd edition):
"The first essay on the "Deity of Jesus of Nazareth" was written just before I left the Church of England,and marks the point where I broke finally with Christianity. I thought then, and think still, that to cling to the name of Christian after one has ceased to be the thing is  neither bold nor straightforward, and surely the name ought, in all fairness, to belong to those historical bodies who have made it their own during many hundred years.
A Christianity without a Divine Christ appears to me to resemble a republican army marching under a royal banner it misleads both friends and foes. Believing that in giving up the deity of Christ I renounced Christianity, I place this essay as the starting-point of my travels outside the Christian pale. The essays that follow it deal with some of the leading Christian dogmas, and are printed in the order in which they were  written. But in the gradual thought-development they really precede the essay on the "Deity of Christ".
Most inquirers who begin to study by themselves, before they have read any heretical works, or heard any heretical controversies, will have been awakened to thought by the discrepancies and inconsistencies of the Bible itself. A thorough knowledge of the Bible is the groundwork of heresy.
Many who think they read their Bibles never read them at all. They go through a chapter every day as a matter of duty, and forget what is said in Matthew before they read what is  said in John ; hence they never mark the contradictions and never see the discrepancies. But those who study the Bible are in a fair way to become heretics.
It was the careful compilation of a harmony of the last chapters of the four Gospels a harmony intended for devotional use that gave the first blow to my own faith ; although I put the doubt away and refused even to look at the  question again, yet the effect remained the tiny seed, which was slowly to germinate and to grow up, later, into the full-blown flower of Atheism."


Ralph Dumain said...

So you've never heard of theosophy? Annie Besant is one of the worst crackpots who ever lived.

Anonymous said...

It seems that Ralph, our resident autodidact, has cast some doubt onto your preliminary assessment of Ms. Besant's credibility. Are crackpots capable of moments of lucidity? Could a person be interesting, brave and intelligent yet still maintain a general aura of "crackpotiness"? This quote has some merit but I’ll do some research before I offer any comments. I don’t want to make the same mistake I made when I thought so highly of Sir Isaac Newton’s work in physics and then read about his crackpot views regarding biblical prophecy! Smile Ralph!!

Warmest regards,
Rob H.

Ralph Dumain said...

This is BS. The difference is, Zee completely misrepresents who Besant was. Theosophy is far worse than Christianity. So big friggin' deal that she rejected Christianity. That is a trivial accomplishment, given how deeply susceptible to superstition she really was. This happens all the time. A bold, independent woman? So what? How shamefully insipid!

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