Some Non-Theist Lyrics

[I thought I’d try a little light fare today.]

I sat alone in the dark one night, tuning in by remote
I found a preacher who spoke of the light but there was brimstone in his throat
He’d show me the way according to him in return for my personal check
I flipped my channel back to CNN and I lit another cigarette

I take my chances, forgiveness doesn’t come with a debt
I take my chances, I take my chances every chance I get

I was listening to the song, I Take My Chances, sung by Mary Chapin Carpenter, this morning in the car, and remembered that the next to the last line up there was one of those dawning moments in my atheism, when I realized the utter nonsense of TV evangelists hawking their promised salvation in return for donations from their audience. Unlike the collections in local churches, that went primarily to pay the salaries to the pastor, the mortgage on the church, and if there was some left over, charitable donations, the Pat Robertsons and the Jimmy Swaggarts of the world were simply fleecing their respective flocks to enrich themselves. Forgiveness, salvation, whatever they were selling, should be free from a loving god. “Forgiveness doesn’t come with a debt.” Sheer profundity.

Then I started thinking about other atheist tinged, or even outright atheist, songs. One came to mind, another that marked a watershed in my thinking. XTC‘s Dear God. Hearing this song I first came upon the radical (to me) idea that God did not create man, but the other way around, we created him. Here’s a bit of the song.

Did you make disease, and the diamond blue?
Did you make mankind after we made you?
And the devil too!

Dear God,
Don’t know if you noticed,
But your name is on a lot of quotes in this book.
Us crazy humans wrote it, you should take a look,
And all the people that you made in your image,
Still believing that junk is true.
Well I know it ain’t and so do you,
Dear God,
I can’t believe in,
I don’t believe in,

I won’t believe in heaven and hell.Dear GOd
No saints, no sinners,
No Devil as well.
No pearly gates, no thorny crown.
You’re always letting us humans down.
The wars you bring, the babes you drown.
Those lost at sea and never found,
And it’s the same the whole world ’round.
The hurt I see helps to compound,
that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
Is just somebody’s unholy hoax,
And if you’re up there you’ll perceive,
That my heart’s here upon my sleeve.
If there’s one thing I don’t believe in…

It’s you,
Dear God.

I do a lot of my best thinking while listening to music. How about you? I welcome any other suggestions or memories of atheist songs.

10 thoughts on “Some Non-Theist Lyrics

  1. These lyrics are wonderful. I’ve often lamented that there are not more atheist songs around. I’m not familiar with these – I’ll try and find them because I’d be interested to hear them in context.

    One more example I can think of, is Billy Joel’s (who I read somewhere is an atheist). In River of Dreams:

    I’m not sure about life after this
    God knows I’ve never been a spiritual man

  2. I have that song in my iPod, but I never listened to the lyrics that closely. I’ll have to listen more closely, now. Thanks.

    Any others out there?

  3. Billy Joel’s, Only The Good Die Young. I don’t think it’s necessarily an atheist song but it ridicules religion. Catholic, to be exact.

  4. Yep. That’s one in my iPod too. I always loved that “You Catholic girls start much too late” line. 🙂

    I’m pretty sure Billy Joel is an atheist

  5. Hi there, this is good ole Beast, the nemesis of Tim the moron.

    Personally, I have never been in favour of indulgences, although I spend my “indulgences” in pubs and other places of decadence.

    Regards and a few rounds of jolly good beer
    Beast

  6. Saw your long, long reply at Tim’s blog. Its a bloody great rebuttal. For a while, I thought you were Richard Dawkins in disguise.

  7. Thanks. As I said in the other post, it’s one of my pet rants. Primarily because the rejection of science in favor of a religious explanation involves shutting down the brain. It’s so irritatingly ignorant, it’s frustrating.

  8. Hi Span,

    I’m not sure if the Beautiful South are atheists, but look at the lyrics from the chorus of their song “Good as Gold”:

    I want my love, my joy, my laugh, my smile, my needs
    Not in the star signs
    Or the palm that she reads
    I want my sun-drenched, wind-swept Ingrid Bergman kiss
    Not in the next life
    I want it in this
    I want it in this

    Inspiring stuff, if you ask me.

  9. Have you heard “The Hand of God” by Julie Ecklar? It sandwiches freethought lyrics amongst christian phrases. The strength of the former intensifies throughout the song so that the song itself represents the deconversion process from a christian upbringing.

    This link also features other atheistic songs:

    http://www.idolme.com/thread2648.html

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