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FillingtheVoidFilling the Void: A Selection of Humanist and Atheist Poetry is a rare but thoroughly absorbing collection of thought-provoking poetry that I released a few months back. Rather belatedly, I am holding an evening of poetry and songs at a small local book shop. To remind people of this fabulous book (I got shivers down my spine re-reading some of these yesterday in selecting the poems to read), I thought I would share some with you here. As ever, please grab yourself a copy… pretty please? Over to the poems:

The God Machine


There dwells, deep within our minds,

a thought that, in many ways,

we share with our ancestors,

way back in caveman days.


Our lives were short and brutal then,

as we struggled to survive:

we grasped at anything that might

just help us stay alive.


Our elders wove fables

of supernatural beings,

who directed our fragile lives,

all-knowing and all-seeing.


We took all of our wise men,

prophets and visionaries,

and lifted them to godhood,

with the zeal of missionaries.


Gautama was the first to go,

with his gentle ways and thought:

his acolytes worshipped the man,

not the wisdom he had brought.


Sweet Jesus, with his love for all,

and message of personal peace,

was elevated to the godhead

by greedy Nicaea’s priests.


Muhammad, the great unifier,

and social engineer,

was glorified by united tribes,

who listened but did not hear.


Thus it goes, on and on,

passed down through the ages:

we disregard the message,

but deify the sages.


We possess a mighty intellect

but are condemned to perdition,

by disdaining common sense,

and embracing superstition.


James D. Fanning




If you turned me on my side, I’m a gun

without a trigger. If you held me upside down,

I’m a signpost hammered into the ground.

If you lay me face down, I’m an airport runway.

Face up, I’ve already turned away from the heavens.

I’m whatever you want to see of me.

I’m an object of no meaning until you pray.


Nobody knows what Jesus looked like.

Yet he’s bestowed with a beard, a crown of thorns,

and blunt nails pounded into his palms.

I’m two parts wood to one part metal

poured into a mold in a sweatshop.

I wasn’t handmade out of love or piety.

Jesus left the factory a long time ago.


Raymond Luczak

On heaven:



Do you think

you can

buy your way





not eat

not drink

dress up

dress down








make rules

break rules

build churches

destroy churches




seek absolution





or none

of the above?

If such a place


and you could

and you would

and you did

do you really think

it would be worth it?


Ted Markstein

Here are some on prayer:

My Prayer


Oh God, the next time

You attempt suicide

Please don’t settle for just

Pretending you died


Mitchell Cole Bender

This one is a take on the famous children’s prayer:

Oh My God


Oh my God,

I’ve come to say

Thank you for your love today

Thank you for my family

And the cancer you gave Auntie Eve

Thank you for the little worm

Who burrows into eyes to give blind prison terms

Thank you for tectonic plates

Which make death and destruction a common fate

Thank you for the failing harvests

That bring about death through painful starving

Thank you for the carnivorous food chain

Which results in slow death after flesh-ripping pain

Thank you for HIV/AIDS, smallpox and malaria

Ebola, the plague, cholera; heck, which is the scarier?

Guard me in the dark of night

Which is every day for that girl with no sight

And in the morning, send your light

The burning gas-ball which will one day end our lives



Jonathan MS Pearce


On agnosticism:

I bent my knee to beauty (Agnostic prayer)


I bent my knee to beauty

and wished for all to see,

it’s not in modern fashion

you’ll find the missing key.


I bent my head in prayer

and uttered out my plea:

—“God, make all mankind certain

that goodness stem from thee.”


I knelt in benediction

and swore a sacred oath

to protect the children

from apathy and sloth.


Though life is fey and wondrous

all men will die alone.

Our beauty lies in living,

at peace with the unknown.


Anders Samuelsson


And from a fellow Patheos writer:

The Awful Shame


I must expel the awful shame

That lies within this heart of mine

And curse the source from which it came.


This edict holds a weighty claim,

But of my guilt I see no sign;

I must expel the awful shame.


This sentence bleak that would defame

I have no choice but to decline

And curse the source from which it came.


I will not let this tar my name

Nor suffer any fate malign;

I must expel the awful shame.


I will my worth and place reclaim

And to the trash this charge assign

And curse the source from which it came.


You cannot make me take the blame;

It’s at this point I draw the line;

I must expel the awful shame

And curse the source from which it came.


Galen Broaddus

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...