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The Rationalist's Manual
"To the mind, as it develops in speculative power, the problem of the universe suggests itself. What is it? and Whence comes it? are questions that press for solution, when, from time to time, the imagination rises above daily trivialities."
LONDON: WATTS & CO., 17, JOHNSON'S COURT, FLEET ST. 1897.
TO A DEAR WIFE THIS MANUAL IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED, IN REMEMBRANCE OF JOINT EFFORTS TO DISCOVER, AMID THE CONFLICTING BELIEFS AND OPINIONS OF THE DAY, WHAT IS TRUTH.
PREFACEMost of us have been born and bred under the influence of some form of religious superstition, which was imposed upon us, from a very proper sense of duty, by our parents. But parents, though having complete control over the education of their children, cannot commit them, when they arrive at years of discretion, to any particular line of thought or opinion. If this were possible, in what a state of appalling ignorance should we be now! The world progresses, and why? Because knowledge progresses. Every generation adds something to the knowledge of the preceding one. Our parents acted up to their lights, and may their memories be held in honor and esteem. But, when the enlightenment of the age causes us to exchange the superstitions of our youth, instilled into us from our infancy upwards, for something better, wiser, and more in accordance with the advancement of science and knowledge, it becomes necessary for us to test the teaching we have received, and inform ourselves as to what we must reject and what we may safely retain. It is all very well to say, "Study science and philosophy;" but how many of us are in a position to do this? Only the limited few. How are poor people, and those who have not had the advantage of a scientific education, to know what is right and true? And if we take from them that religious belief which has for so long acted, not only as a power for good in the land, but as a recognized motive to right living, we must give them something definite in return. We must give them a better, higher, more real motive for right living. This has been the object which the Author has had in view in compiling the following pages. He has endeavored to furnish sufficient information to enable the least pretentious student to give a reason for the faith that is in him. The articles are necessarily short, for he has confined himself as much as possible to main points. He hopes that his critics will bear with him in the difficult task he has undertaken; and if his little manual helps even one inquirer to a knowledge of "what is truth," or assists in uniting, in however small a measure, individuals of similar schools of thought, be they known as Freethinkers, Rationalists, Secularists, Agnostics, or Atheists (for union is strength), he will have obtained his reward. He wishes to express his acknowledgment and indebtedness to the authors from whose works he has so freely drawn.
The writer may be accused of dogmatism, but it is impossible to teach without it. The Rationalist has nothing to say against "dogmatism" itself; it is a dogmatism consisting of unverified and unverifiable dogmas -- dogmas that must not be questioned or inquired into, but be held on "faith" as "mysteries," that he objects to. Let the dogmatism be one of truth, one that can bear the light of day, that can be explained by human reason, and be proved by indisputable evidence then the dogmatism is not only justifiable, but essential.
What have these pioneers of science fought for? Why have they sacrificed time, money, domestic comfort, and popularity? Is it possible, as the tongue of ignorance suggests, that these men have devoted their lives and abilities to the deliberate uprooting of religion and morality, by which society would be thrown into a state of chaos, and a way of unlimited freedom opened up for the working of wickedness? Certainly not. They have, indeed, striven to uproot the evil plant which is variously called theology, ecclesiastes, clericalism. But they have not striven to uproot moral and intellectual truth.
And they did well to strike at the power of the priest. For centuries the human mind has been fettered by the priestly chain. The priest claimed the whole life. Scarcely had a child entered the world when he lost his freedom in the rite of baptism; his will was made captive by the representative of theology; he was educated in the way of credulity, so that when he came to the age of Reason (or what should have been Reason) he submissively accepted the priest's dogmas as being of divine origin and supernaturally revealed. Ninety-nine men out of every hundred have been satisfied to accept the word of the priest for the truth of these dogmas, to yield their souls up as slaves to clericalism, and swear allegiance to the illegitimate authority of "The Church."
The questions which Rationalists fearlessly set themselves to solve are: -- Is there any truth in the so-called Christian "revelation" which has for so long a period maintained its hold over the Western world? And, further, has any revelation of a supernatural character ever taken place? Or, is the only revelation which possesses any human value the revelation of natural science?
If a revelation had been made to the human race by a divine and almighty being, we should be justified in expecting it to be done in a manner clear, unmistakable, and evident to all, and it would have had an irresistible claim upon our allegiance. But this has not happened. On the contrary: instead of being furnished with proofs, we are enjoined to ask no questions; we are told that doubt is sin, and that we must reduce ourselves to a condition of infantile dependence; we are bidden to accept all the statements which the priestly dispensers of "revelation" choose to dole out to us, however much opposed to reason, nature, and science. When we examine the alleged revelation, we discover that it consists of a series of legends, characterized by a morality which is frequently atrocious, and by absurdities which rank with the tales of the nursery. And we find that the divinity worshipped by the churches is an imaginary figure, a fetish established for the benefit of the clerical caste, and supported by the priesthood for mercantile ends. It is time to cast off the bondage so long imposed upon us, and snap the rod of hell so long held over our heads. We must transfer our allegiance from God to Man. Instead of wasting our time and energy in contemplating and appeasing a fictitious deity, and obeying the selfish motive of desire for future reward, let us dedicate our lives to the interests of the present world, to social cooperation, to the study of natural science, to the explanation of the phenomena that environs us, to the spread of knowledge and happiness.
The Christian myth is based on no valid evidence: it rests only on the assumed "inspiration" of the Bible -- a collection of ancient writings, most of them written no one knows when, where, or by whom. Some people fear lest, if the Christian myth were discarded, each individual would seize the liberty to do as he liked, and give way to all kinds of libertinism, and repeat the motto of the debauches, "Eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow we die." But this very fear suggests the existence of an improper motive to goodness, and that a selfish prudence and pious cunning had been the only means to virtue furnished by Christianism. Shall we admit that there can be any true spring of morality in the fear of offending a deity who possesses the bad attributes of vindictiveness, jealousy, and cruelty; and in the dread of losing heaven and incurring the pains of hell? Such an inadequate motive to right conduct leaves out of the consideration the welfare of our fellow-men, and the desire to please and make others happy.
When asked to reject the unwarranted theory of a future life, some experience a revulsion against the idea of not meeting again those who have become endeared to them in the present life. But, if it can be shown that we know, and can know, nothing of a world-to- come, and that assertions on the subject are vain incursions into the realm of the unknowable, our duty is to resign ourselves to the solemn Inevitable. He who accepts the belief in Immortality does so simply on the bare word of another man, who knows no more about the mystery than himself. Is it right to believe what we cannot possibly know, merely because other people believe it, or because it yields irrational comfort? Why should we stake our happiness on the chances of a visionary future, instead of realizing the possibilities of a life which, if we develop it in defiance of the dictates of orthodoxy, may yield so much profit and enjoyment? What pleasure can we derive from speculating whether our departed friends have succeeded in obtaining a place in Elysium; or whether, having fallen short of the regulations laid down by the deity, they have attained the Middle State of Purgatory, where a due amount of suffering is officially meted out to them; or whether they (good and amiable as they appeared to us) have had the misfortune to fall under the divine displeasure, and are condemned to the eternal flames of Hell? God is represented to us as being good and merciful and omnipotent. Could he not, then, have made mankind perfect and incapable of sin? For, if he had done this, the necessity for a hell would never have arisen.
Christianism ridicules the superstition of the pagan, and holds up its hands in sanctimonious horror at the worship of natural objects. But is it more foolish to adore the glorious and beneficent sun than to adore a being who has been built up out of materials supplied by the human imagination? If you ask a theologian where this creature of fancy exists, and on which of the innumerable heavenly bodies he has pitched his residence, you get no intelligible answer. Surely the various forms of Paganism were as rational as (i.e., not more irrational than) the vague and plagiarized creed of Christendom?
Can our words of scorn towards Christianism be justified? The following pages will show.
The very fact of there being more than one "revelation" is sufficient to raise doubts in the minds of reasoning people as to the validity of any of them. The particular "revelation" which the average man accepts depends upon the accident of his birth, Creeds follow geographical lines. If we happen to be born in Great Britain or the British colonies, we adopt one of the many varieties of Christianism; if in Turkey, Mohammedanism; if in China, Taoism, or Confucianism, or Buddhism; if in India, Brahmanism; if in a certain quarter of Bombay, Parseeism, etc. And each "revelation" claims divine origin. The Mohammedan appeals to the Koran, the Parsee to the Zend-avesta, the Taoist to the Tau-teh-king; the Buddhist to his Tripitaka; the Brahman to his Vedas and the Christian to his Bible. Though we observe in these phases of faith many resemblances suggestive of borrowing and derivation, we also observe differences in important details. Each counts itself orthodox, and regards the rest as heretical or infidel. Our notion of truth or heresy, therefore, is modified according to the locality of out birth and the sphere of our education.
Christianity cannot boast an inner unity of its own. It is divided into a bewildering array of sects. The Churches of Christ differ from each other on more or less essential questions. In these schisms they simply exemplify the contradictions presented by their Scriptures. Yet, marvelous to say, the only point the sects agree upon is the necessity of appeal to these very scriptures which yield so many interpretations! In Roman Catholic countries Protestant agents seek to make converts, a Protestant Bishop being a short time ago consecrated for Catholic Madrid, while Roman Catholic bishops map out dioceses in the midst of Protestant populations. The Catholic churches insist on the duty of eating their god; the Protestants regard this doctrine as an abomination.
The Christian revelation is blindly accepted on the assumption that the Bible is inspired. We shall see if there exist solid grounds for the assumption. Is the "revelation" reconcilable with science? The researches and discoveries of modern science have laid bare the fallacies upon which the Bible is founded, and the erroneous opinions that run through it. They have demonstrated that there is no such thing as instantaneous creation; that the present cosmos has been gradually evolved from a preexistent one; that matter is indestructible, eternal, fixed in quantity; that neither man nor animals nor plants were called into being so recently as 6,000 years ago; that our ancestors lived millennia before the supposed date of the creation; and that our race has ascended through long processes of development from simple protoplasmic cells. Genesis itself speaks with an uncertain voice. It contains two separate stories of the creation, and they contradict one another. The Genesis cosmogony is based upon mistaken ideas of the universe, the shape and movements of the earth and sun, and their mutual relations. And upon the truth of the occurrences reported in Genesis rests the whole Christian theory of "Redemption." If the "Fall" of man did not occur, sin did not enter the world by the disobedience of Eve. And if Eve did not introduce the microbes of sir, there is no sin-disease for all mankind to inherit; and, consequently, there is no necessity for a Savior or Redeemer to suffer the sacrifice entailed by the fault of the ancestors of the race.
Till a comparatively recent date Christianity taught the Ptolemaic theory of the universe -- i.e., that the earth was the center of a system of planets, and that the sun rose and set daily over it. By order of the Congregation of the Holy Office, Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake in 1600 for indulging in astronomical speculations; for supporting the Copernican theory, the reason given being because it was "contrary to the bible;" and for suggesting that the Bible did not contain the whole of science. In 1616 Galileo was summoned before the Inquisition, and cawed by threats for teaching new theories of the heavens. He was again hauled up, at the age of seventy, for writing a book on the System of the World, in which he proved the truth of the Copernican theory, which is now accepted by all the civilized world. He was made to kneel, and swear, with his hands on the gospels, that it was not true that the earth moved round the sun, and that he would never again spread the "damnable heresy." Here we have evidence of two failures on the part of the Christian Church: it condemned the thinkers, who maintained a theory of the universe now everywhere admitted; and it publicly declared its conviction that the Copernican theory ran counter to the science of the Bible.
Again, is Christianity sound in its moral teaching? The Yahuh (Jehovah) of the Old Testament authorizes, directly or indirectly, the burning of witches (Ex. xxii. 18), human sacrifice (Ex. xiii.), slavery (Ex. xxi., xxv.), adultery (Gen. xii. 10), violation of virgins (Mum. xxxi. 17), and many other acts of gross injustice. The Jesus of the New Testament teaches improvidence by the precept that no thought is to be taken for the morrow as to food, drink, or clothing -- an injunction which is at variance with all prudence and economic wisdom. He took part in encouraging the ignorant and cruel method of treating disease as the work of demons. He pretended to drive "unclean spirits" out of the poor lunatic who spent his life among the tombs, and whom no man could bind with chains. We are expected to believe that the devils asked to be sent into a herd of swine, after which they ran violently down the hill into the sea and were drowned. No mention is made of any recompense having been made to the owner of the herd (numbering about 2,000), and, as Jesus is said to have been in a chronically impecunious state, we may assume that none was made. Another example of injustice is exemplified in the statement, "Whosoever hath to him shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath." As further cases, take the advice to offer the other cheek when smitten -- a course which insults human dignity -- or the admonition to hand over a second garment to the robber who has despoiled you of your coat -- a direct premium on stealing. The cursing of the barren fig-tree was a display of folly and childish petulance. Immorality marks the prophecy of Jesus, which has only too literally been fulfilled, that bloodshed should prepare the way of Christian triumph. He said: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth, but a sword." In the fulfillment of this prophecy fifty millions of people were destined to perish.
We may, therefore, accept it as proved that the "revelation" which Christian priests offer for our acceptance is not of divine origin, and that, in the words of Mr. S. Laing, "The subjects which their theologians profess to have such an exact knowledge of are, for the most part, subjects respecting which nothing is or can be known." Christianism is nothing but "Paganism writ different" -- in other words, it is Paganism modernized.
If he had been a true Messiah, he would surely have utilized the opportunity afforded him when the lawyer came and asked him, before a large crowd, what he should do to inherit eternal life. Yet what happened? Did the Son of God adduce any striking proof of his divinity by enunciating new and wonderful precepts of wisdom and morality? No he repeated, nearly word for word, certain maxims which he had culled from the books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus. The commands given in Matt. Vii. 22 and xxiii. 37-46 simply echo the teachings of previous sages. Thus, Confucius, who lived some 550 years before Christ, uttered the words: "Do not to another what you would not want done to yourself; thou hast need of this law alone; it is the foundation of all the rest"; and "Acknowledge thy benefits by return of other benefits, but never avenge injuries." The so-called "Lord's Prayer" is merely a reiteration of similar prayers in the Jewish Talmud. The conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus echoes the teaching of Krishna in the Hindu poem of the Bhagavat-Gita. The doctrine of the water that removes thirst for ever has its parallel in Hindu mythology, and Philo had already taught it as follows: "The Word (Logos) is the fountain of life...... it is of the greatest consequence to every person to strive without remission to approach the divine Word of God above, who is the fountain of all wisdom, that, by drinking largely of that sacred spring, instead of death, he may be rewarded with everlasting life." Many other passages in the Fourth Gospel show dependence on the non-Christian works of Philo.
The Bible comprises a Hebrew and a Christian portion, both being, as regards the bulk of their contents, of unknown authorship. Both are accepted by Christians as inspired, it being popularly supposed that the New Testament contains the fulfillment of the types and prophecies of the Old. The most important theme of the Old Testament is that of the Creation and Fall; and the leading topic of the New is the career of the Christian Savior who appeared as the propitiation for the sin which occurred at the beginning of human history.
Now, the Bible not only makes mistakes in matters of science, but it puts forward two contradictory accounts of the Creation. These are given in the first and second chapters of Genesis, and they disagree in nearly every detail. If such errors occur in one historical particular, they may occur elsewhere. The whole theory of inspiration is vitiated and our confidence disappears. The more we read the Bible, the more convinced we feel of its lack of clearness and authority and educative value. Had it been divinely inspired, we may be sure it would have taken the form of unimpeachable history and logical instruction, so that no doubt could or would have arisen in the mind of the most cultured reader, If we are born tainted with original sin, and if that sin is removable, means would have been taken to impart to the world the mode of salvation, and this in such a way that conviction of its truth would follow immediately on hearing or reading. What, on the contrary, has occurred? We hear of miracles having been performed in cases where they were not needed; and we find them absent in circumstances where they might have rendered real aid. Surely, if miracles could have been worked for such trifling purposes as the provision of wine for wedding guests, we might have expected some miraculous intervention to secure the general acceptance of the Bible canon. Where is our certainty? Books once regarded with suspicion now find an honored place in the Bible; and books once included in the sacred collections of the early churches are now cast into outer darkness. We are left, in this happy-go-lucky manner, to ascertain the mode of redemption from a sin which we did not commit, but yet have to incur the penalty for. The divine message, instead of being published in the sight of all men, has been inscribed on old parchments hidden away in all sorts of holes and corners, as if the very authors had been ashamed of their productions. These parchments are, in some instances, old skins from which pagan manuscripts had been partially erased before the "Word of God" was written on them by Christian pens. Is this the way in which a good and just God would treat mankind? It does not seem reasonable. Goodness and justice, forsooth! Look at the attitude which, according to the New Testament itself, God adopts towards the race he has created. Jesus tells his followers that, before some of them taste of death, he will return (of course, he did not) on clouds of glory and in the day of vengeance. Vengeance! A jealous and revengeful God will return to wreak his anger upon the helpless creatures, who are guiltless of the responsibility of the sin of their "first parents," and whose appearance on this planet at all he might have mercifully prevented!
Then, again, the language has been so manipulated as to induce the reader to believe that the Jews were monotheists or worshippers of one God only, and to render obscure the immortal character of Yahuh (the "Lord"). Elohim (literally the gods) is rendered God, and Yahuh Elohim (literally Yahuh of the Gods) is rendered Lord God. Jephthah, who sacrificed his daughter because she came to greet him, argues with the Amorites that every nation is entitled to what its national God bestows upon it (Judges ii. 24). The sixty-eighth Psalm is positively a song to the Sun-God! It opens with the invocation, "Let God arise" (literally, "Let the Mighty One arise"), and bids all inferior creatures "cast up a highway for him that rideth through the heavens by his name Yah." The frequent references to sun-gods under various names are all disguised by the English version. The title Adonai, the Phoenician name for the sun- god, is, when it occurs single, translated "the Lord;" but, when it is met with in conjunction with Yahuh or Elghiin, "the Lord God." Psalm cx. i ought to read "Yahuh said to Adonai (or "to our Adonis"), Sit at my right hand." The popular deity of Thebes, Amen- Ra, is met with in the Psalms as "Ammon" (the hidden sun). He is one with Adonai; with "the Stygian Jupiter" when he descended to the lowest point of his annual declination in December; with the Olympian Zeus, rising to his highest point of ascension in June; and with the Jupiter Ammon, worshipped as the hidden or occult God, and reappearing in the sign "Aries" (see Is. xlv. 15). The name "Ammon" in Is. lxv. 16 is twice wrongly rendered "the God of Truth," instead of "the God Ammon." This deity is again alluded to in Ps. x. 1, where "Lord" ought to read "Yahuh," and again in Ps. lxxxix, 46, "Yahuh, how long wilt thou hide thyself?" and verse 52, "Blessed be Yahuh for ever more (who is) Ammon, even Ammon." The name Ammon, in its shortened form of "Amen," found its way later into the Greek language, and was used in the sense of truly. In the Apocalypse the word is written with "Ho" prefixed, when it is rendered "The Amen," a senseless expression. In Rev. iii. 4 we ought to read "These things, saith Ammon, the true and faithful witness."
Another name for the Hebrew sun-god is Shaddai, sometimes conjoined with the prefix El, Bel (the Babylonian sun-god), and Baal (the Syrian). Yahuh, or Yahweh, is usually written "Jehovah," which does not convey to the mind any idea of the true Hebrew pronunciation of Yahouyeh. The name was pronounced by the Semites generally (by whom Yahuh was worshipped) as Yahuh, Yahu, or Yho. In the reign of the Assyrian King Sargon II. the throne of Hamath was occupied by Yahou-behdi, which name literally means the "Servant of Yahuh." The Phoenicians venerated this deity also, for in the inscriptions of Assur-bani-pal, another Assyrian King, we read that the name of the then crown-prince of Tyrenus Yahu-melek = "Yahuh is my King." On a coin from Gaza of the fourth century B.C., now in the British Museum, is a figure of a deity in a chariot of fire, over whose head is written Yho in old Phoenician characters. But Yahuh held only a subordinate position in the general mythology of the Semites, and he only owes his notoriety to the fact that he was chosen as the patron deity of the Beni-Israel. The word Ashera or Asherah is admitted in the preface to the Revised Bible to be "uniformly and wrongly rendered grove" in the authorized version. Why this misleading device? In order, probably, to conceal the gross character of the thing signified. The Ashera was an upright stone, and was undoubtedly a Phallic (sexual) emblem.
The "two angels," who are represented as appearing to Lot in the city of Sodom, are, in the original text, gods. Adam's demon- wife, Lilith, has been suppressed in Isaiah xxxiv. 14, and the meaningless expression, "the night monster," substituted.
Jesus, pronounced in Hebrew Yezua, was a very common name. The Jesus of the New Testament was, to a large extent, a mythical personage, being a personification of the sun-god and Savior -- Bacchus, the Phoenician Ies, identical with the Hindu Krishna or Christna, the Persian Mithra, the Egyptian Horus, and other sun- gods. After the captivity the name was interchanged with Joshua or Yahoshua -- the successor of Moses; in the Greek it was Yesous and Jason. In the authorized version it was rendered Jesus (Acts vii. 45, Heb. iv. 8), but in the revised version it is rendered Joshua -- the "same word rendered Jeshua in Nehemiah viii. 17. The idea connected with the word Jesus, and with the letters I H S and I E E S, was Phallic vigor.
The word repent has been in the Douay version wrongly rendered through the Latin do penance.
We shall now examine some of the many renderings of the Hebrew word Ruach, and shall see how they illustrate ecclesiastical ingenuity in building up a system of ghosts, and even a theory of Apostolic succession!
The word rendered Ghost, Holy Ghost, and Spirit in the New Testament is the Greek word Pneuma, which is the equivalent of Ruach in the Hebrew of the Old Testament. Both words mean air in motion or breath. Ruach is rendered in Gen. iii. 8, "in the cool of the evening;" in Gen. viii. 1 as "wind;" and in Gen. i. 2 Ruach Elohini is translated "the spirit of God," but, literally rendered, it should be "the breath of the gods." In the Latin Vulgate, from which the Catholic or Douay translation is made, pneuma is rendered "spiritus," from Spiro = I breathe. When the Bible was translated from the Latin into Anglo-Saxon, "spiritus" was rendered gast. In the Middle English gast became goost and gost, approaching very near to, and probably derived from, the old German geist, which is the present equivalent of pneuma, spiritus, and ruach. If these words mean breath in Genesis, they also mean breath in the New Testament.
"Jesus gave up the Ghost," "the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee," and "receive ye the Holy Ghost," etc., are all mistranslations. In Luke iv. 1 the same word pneuma is rendered differently: "And Jesus, being full of the Holy Ghost (pneuma) ... was led by the Spirit (pneuma)," In Luke viii. 55 the same word again is rendered spirit, instead of breath. These are only a few of the inaccuracies to be found. And thus the various translations of the Bible, instead of being executed in a spirit of scholarly candor, have only testified to the theological bias of the translators.
GENESIS i. to ii. 3. GENESES ii. 4 to end. 1. The appellation of 1. The appellation of deity deity is uniformly "Elohim" is uniformly "Yahuh Elohim" (the gods), rendered God. (Yahuh of the gods), rendered Lord God. 2. The portion of the 2. It is called "the universe beyond the earth is heavens." called "the heaven." 3. The earth, a chaos 3. The earth is a dry covered with water. The waters plain. Vegetation cannot exist must be assuaged before because there is no moisture vegetation can appear. (ii. 5). 4. Plants are created 4. Plants appear to be from the earth generally confined to the Garden of Eden (i. 12). (ii. 8, 9). 5. Fowls, fish, and 5. Fowls and land animals aquatic animals form one created at the same time in one act of creation, land animals creative act (ii. 19). and reptiles another (i. 21-25). 6. Fowls created out of 6. Fowls created out of the the water (i. 20). ground (ii. 19). 7. Trees created before 7. Trees created after man man (i. 12-27). (ii. 7, 8). 8. Fowls created before 8. Fowls created after man man. (ii. 19). 9. Man created after 9. Man created before beasts (i. 24-31). beasts (ii. 7-19). 10. Man and woman created 10. Woman created after man at the same time (i. 27). with a considerable interval between. 11. Man created in the 11. This is not intimated. image of God." It is only after Adam and Eve have partaken of the tree of knowledge that "God" is led to say: "The man is become as one of us." 12. Man at the creation 12. He is given fruit given fruit and herbs to alone, and only after he sins subsist upon (i. 29). and the curse is pronounced upon him is he ordered to "eat the herb of the field," as a consequence of his "fall" (iii.18). 13. Man given dominion 13. Man confined to a over all the earth (i. 26). garden (ii. 15). 14. The heavens and the 14. No mention made of the earth created in six literal six days' creation. On the days. contrary, the account mentions "the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens" (ii. 4). 15. The purpose of this 15. Contains no recognition story appears to be to of the Sabbath. The purpose inculcate the divine appears to be to establish the institution of the Sabbath. doctrine of the Fall of Man. 16. Anthropomorphic 16. Absent. conception of God present. 17. Elohim comprises 17. Yahuh is a deity in one two separate beings -- body, both sexes combined. male and female. 18. God from his throne 18. God comes down on in heaven calls various earth, plants a garden, molds elements into being -- man out of clay, breathes into "Let the earth bring forth his nostrils, fashions woman ...... and it was so." out of a rib, makes birds and animals, and brings them to Adam to see what he will call them. 19. Though not in accord 19. Is destitute of with science, possesses scientific and literary merit. literary merit.These two accounts can neither be reconciled with each other, nor be made to harmonize with science. Dean Stanley says "The first and second chapters of Genesis contain two narratives, differing from each other in almost every particular of time, place, and order."
Leaving out of view the peevish and undignified action of the Hebrew deity, what shall we say to the patent injustice and incongruity of the punishment? The innocent serpent and all future serpents cursed because the devil pretended to be a serpent; the guilty devil getting off scot free, and permitted to roam about the world to do further mischief; and all mankind condemned to bear the burden of Original Sin as an after-effect of this one trivial act of disobedience, the theft of a fruit! For such a theft in the present day a human and uninspired magistrate would mete out, perhaps, a day's imprisonment; but here we have a deity, represented to us by himself and his followers as all-good, all- wise, benevolent, merciful, and forgiving, condemning the whole human race to a punishment far in excess of any sin that could be remitted by man, and utterly disproportionate with the offence. Then we are told that man was made in "the image and likeness of God" -- who, we are also told, "has no image nor likeness" -- "no form nor parts." The fact is, instead of man being made in the image and likeness of God," the god that man desires to worship has been made in his own image and likeness, and the originators of the story, in their primeval ignorance and credulity, drew the inconsistent materials of the legend from the store of their own anthropomorphic fancy. The deity at first pronounces all his "creations" "good," and afterwards repents of having made man. It might be difficult to conceive a deity of infinite wisdom and knowledge regretting his work, but not so difficult when we consider that he was also given to changing his mind; for do we not find him laying down at one time (Leviticus xxiv. 20) the theory of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" as a principle, and at another Matthew (v. 38) the reverse? Yet, unless Christians accept all this tissue of contradictions, their theory of redemption falls to the ground like a house of cards.
"The discovery and decipherment of the Assyrian records," says Mr. Edwards, (Witness of Assyria, p. 9.) "have raised the curtain upon forgotten dramas of the earth's history, and have removed the Jewish writings from the solitary position they once occupied. We have now before us the voluminous literature of a race allied to the Jews in blood, creed, thought, and language. The stories of Creation, Deluge, and Tower of Babel are shown to be Babylonian; the ritual, dress, and furniture of the Temple were Babylonian; and the religious poetry of the Hebrews is anticipated by that of Babylon. The history and chronology of the Hebrew scriptures are proved faulty and unreliable, and the whole evidence at command supports the opinion of critics as to the very late date of the Jewish literature."
During the explorations of the ancient cities of Assyria and Babylonia a number of clay tablets have been discovered, containing accounts of Creation, Flood, and Tower of Babel. They are written in cuneiform (wedge-shaped) characters, in the form of epic poems. The story of Creation occupies seven tablets, and gives two accounts, which are now called the "Akkadian" and the "Babylonian." Tablets have also been discovered amid the ruins of the ancient city of Tel-el-Amarna, in Egypt, evidently relics of an ancient library containing the official correspondence between the King of Egypt and the officers and sovereigns of Assyria, Babylonia, and other Asiatic countries; one was also discovered among the ruins of Lachish in Southern Palestine. The decipherment of these may be looked upon as one of the wonderful discoveries of our age; for, by this, the origin of the two contradictory accounts of Creation given in Genesis, which before was a puzzle, is now disclosed. The Babylonian account is identical with the Elohistic, relating how the creation of the world took place by successive stages, man being the final act; the Akkadian is identical with the Yavistic, man being created before plants and animals. The first tablet opens with a description of chaos: "At that time the heaven above had not yet announced, or the earth beneath recorded, a name. The unopened deep was their generator; Mummu-Tiamat (the chaos of the sea) was the mother of them all. Their waters were embosomed as one, and the cornfield was unharvested. The pasture was ungrown. At that time the gods had not appeared, any of them ...... no destiny had they fixed. Then the great gods were created."
THE TOWER OF BABEL is said to have been named so "because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth," and we have always been given to understand that the name "Babel" is derived from balal, to confound; but this is altogether erroneous. The "inspired" writer must have been romancing! We now know, from the tablets that have been found among the ruins of Babylon, the exact form of the name by which its inhabitants called it Bab-ilu = the gate of God, (Witness of Assyria," P- 37.) sometimes written with two signs -- a gate and god; and there can, therefore, be no mistake about it. The Hebrew bears the same interpretation without any forced etymology -- Babel = the gate of God. The place was not founded by Semitic Babylonians, but by the Akkadians, and it was neither a city nor a town, but a temple, consisting of seven platforms, each being tinted a different color, and dedicated to the seven planets, the topmost one being dedicated to the moon. It was called by the Semitic invaders Ca-dimorra, the gate of God thus being translated by them into their own tongue. The story of the confusion of languages was a theory born in the imagination of the writer of the "inspired text." So much for the veracity and "inspiration" of Genesis xiv. 9.
We have neither time nor space to do more than mention some of the other chief absurd stories and legends found in the Bible, in many of which immoral teaching is very conspicuous. The stories of:
DANIEL AND THE LION'S PIT (Daniel vi.) and the injustice to the Royal officers, their wives and families, allowed by the Hebrew god. The same power that saved the God-fearing and divinely- protected Daniel could have prevented the in justice of punishing the innocent wives and children of the officers who were simply carrying out their orders, for a fault they did not commit. THE EXODUS FROM EGYPT (Exodus vii.), the writer of which was evidently familiar with a similar legend of the Sun-god Bacchus; for Orpheus, the earliest Greek poet, relates that Bacchus had a rod with which he drew water from a rock, and performed miracles, and which he could change into a serpent at pleasure; and that he passed through the Red Sea dry shod at the head of his army. That Pharaoh and his host should have been drowned in the Red Sea, and the fact not be mentioned by any historian of the period, is incredible; but such is the case. RECEIPT OF THE DECALOGUE by Moses (Exodus xix.). Almost every nation of antiquity had a legend of their holy men ascending a mountain to ask counsel of their gods. Minos, the Cretan law-giver, ascended Mount Dicta and received from Zeus the sacred laws. A similar legend is told of Zoroaster, to whom Ormuzd handed "The Book of the Law" -- the "Zend Avesta." SAMSON'S SIX EXPLOITS (Judas xiv. and xv.) are culled from the exploits of Hercules and lzdubar. JONAH AND THE FISH (Jonah i. and ii.), where he is thrown from a ship and swallowed up by a whale, in whose stomach he remained alive three days and nights, during which time he offered up a prayer to Yahuh, apparently composed of odd bits taken from the Psalms. When Yahuh spoke to the whale, it vomited Jonah on to dry land, alive and well! The truth of this story is guaranteed by Jesus, in Matthew xii. 40. ELIJAH ASCENDING IN A WHIRLWIND. THE RE-ANIMATION OF DRY BONES to form a large army (Ezekiel xxxvii.).The TALKING ASS (Numbers xxii,); the TALKING SERPENT (Genesis iii.); and the TALKING CLOUD (Exodus xxxiii.). The ARMY OF DEAD MEN, wakening up and finding themselves dead corpses (2 Kings xix.). THE GOING BACK OF THE SUN to guarantee the efficacy of a fig poultice (2 Kings xx.), and the STANDING STILL. OF THE SUN one whole day, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies (Joshua x.). THE GIANTS generated by the sons of God with the women of the earth -- becoming "mighty men and men of renown" (Genesis vii.). THE FLOATING IRON AXE-HEAD (2 Kings vi.). THE RIVAL GODS in the house of Dapon; the Jewish god being in a box (i Samuel v.). The RAISING OF THE SPIRITS OF THE DEAD by means of the witch of Endor (i Samuel xxviii.). (Where are the witches of the present day?) The DESTRUCTION OF 600 PHILISTINES with an ox-goad, by one man (judges iii.). MOSES turning the water of the river into blood with his magic rod (Exodus vii.), and DESCRIBING HIS OWN DEATH (Deuteronorny xxiv.). AARON'S PLAGUE OF FROGS, produced by stretching his hands over the waters of Egypt (Exodus viii.).
These are specimens of absurd legends, which, with the abominable immoralities of the Pentateuch, form part of the Holy Scriptures, the same "inspired word" which Jesus "expounded" to his followers, and which he told them were able to make them wise unto salvation (Luke xxiv. 25); and "given by inspiration of God" (2 Timothy iii. 15), "as profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness;" and for the non-acceptance of which he reproves them (Luke xvi. 31; John vi. 39, 46); and containing "the Law," which he said he had "not come to destroy" -- "the Law," with the Jews, being the Pentateuch."
The New Testament upholds the innumerable atrocities of the Old, and adds worse terrors and atrocities of its own in the shape of eternal torments (Matthew V. 28; xviii. 8; xxiii. 32 3. xxv. 41; Mark ix. 43); a minute description being given of Hell by Christ to the multitude (Luke xvi. 23), and by "John the Divine;" and the rejoicing of the saints over the sufferings of the tormented (Revelation xiv. 9, 11; xix. 1-4, 20; xx. 1-3, 10). The way to life made by a beneficent Creator, we are told (Matthew vii. 14), is "narrow," and to be found by "few,;" that "many" of his own creations, which he pronounced to be "very good," are called by this loving Creator "but few chosen " (Matthew xxii. 13; Luke xiii. 23). This Hell, as described in Revelation xxi. 8, xxii. 15" 1 Corinthians vi. 9, is for those "that know not God" (2 Thessalonians 1. 7), for those who describe a fool correctly (Matthew v. 22), for unbelief, and for the rich.
A fragment of a Gospel of Peter, which, according to early Christian writers, was in common use in the second century, and received as inspired with the rest of the New Testament writings, has recently been found in an Egyptian tomb at Akhmim. This gospel directly contradicts most important details in the accounts given of the alleged appearances of Jesus after his death in the so- called canonical gospels, the Acts, and the Pauline epistles. Thus, at one fell swoop, disappear Peter's following of triple denial the presence of John and others at the foot of the cross the appearances to Mary Magdalene and other women; the walk to Emmaus; the apparition to the eleven of a material body through closed doors; the second apparition to remove Thomas's doubts; the appearances at Jerusalem during forty days by many living proofs; those mentioned in the epistles to the Corinthians." ["Gospel of Peter" by S. Laing.] The gospel was at a later period dropped, probably for the reason, says Mr. Laing, that it "fevered the heresy of the Docetae, who held that the body of the Christ was a specter or illusion for the gospel says, relating to the Crucifixion "They brought two malefactors, and crucified him between them; but he kept silence, as feeling no pain," and this silence is maintained until he died, crying out, "My power, my power, thou hast left me," which sounds, says Mr. Laing, "more like the cry of a baffled magician than of either a natural man or a Son of God... This contradicts no less than eight utterances from the cross recorded in the canonical gospels: (1) 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'; (2) 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do' (3) 'Verily, this day thou shalt be with me in Paradise;' (4) 'Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit;' (5) 'Woman, behold thy son';' (6) 'Behold thy mother;' (7) 'I thirst;' (8) 'It is finished.'" Still more startling is the account given of the Resurrection and Ascension, which differs in essential points from the already contradictory accounts given in the canonical gospels.
We will now proceed to inquire if there is any evidence in the writings of the historians contemporary with the time of Jesus.
The death of Jesus is said, in three of the gospels, to have taken place after the Passover feast; in one, before that feast, The "Mark" gospel states that he was crucified at the third hour; the "John" gospel, that he was under examination at the sixth hour; the "Matthew" and "Mark" gospels, that it was dark from the sixth to the ninth hour. In the number of women who came to the tomb after the Resurrection, the "John" gospel gives one; "Mark," three, and "Luke," a large number. The number of angels at the tomb is given in the "Mark" gospel as "a young man clothed in white;" in the "Luke," as three men in shining garments while in the "John" an entirely different account appears. From the above it will be seen that Herod, who spent the last two years of his life as an invalid at the hot springs of Calirrhoe, dying on his way home to Jerusalem, could not have had the alleged interview with the Magicians on their arrival in Judaea; nor could he have slaughtered the innocents. The Magicians, it must be remembered, after seeing the new star, had to travel 1,500 miles across a desert from Persia to Bethlehem, a journey which could not be accomplished under two years by their method of travelling.
Belief in the influence of the stars over life and death, and in special portents at the death of great men, survived even to recent times. Shakespeare says ("Hamlet," scene 1., act 1.): --
"When beggars die there are no comets seen The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes."
"The reason why 'the Christ' Jesus has been made to descend into hell," says Doane, "is because it is part of the universal mythos, even the three days' duration. The saviours of mankind had all done so; he must, therefore, do likewise." ["Bible Myths," p. 213.] The following gods "descended into hell, and remained there for the space of three days and three nights, as the sun did at the winter solstice, rising again on the third day, as did the sun when, at midnight, on December 24th and 25th, he commenced his annual ascension: -- Krishna, the Hindu savior; ["Asiatic Researches," vol. 1 p. 237: Bonwick, "Egyptian Belief," p. 168.] Zoroaster, the Persian savior; ["Monumental Christianity," p. 286.] Osiris ["Dupuis, "Orgin of Religious Belief," p. 256; Bonwick, p. 125.] and Horus, [Doane, "Bible Myths," p. 213.] of Egypt; Adonis; [Bell, "Pantheon," vol. 1, p. 12.] Bacchus; [Higgins, "Anacalypsis," vol. 1. p. 322: Dupuis, p. 257.] Hercules; [Taylor, "Mysteries," p. 40.] Mercury ["Pantheon," vol. 2, p. 72.] Baldur and Quetzalcoatle, [Bonwick, p. 169; Mallet, p. 448.] etc.
The story of Jesus descending into hell had its origin in the old pagan story of a war in heaven. This story, besides being given in the Apocalypse or Revelation, is to be found in the Persian Zend Avesta, and was known to the Assyrians, Egyptians, Greeks, ancient Mexicans, the natives of the Caroline Islands, the Hindus, etc. It was told of the Infant Krishna, "whose life was threatened by the tyrant Kansa, who had heard a prediction that Krishna (or Christna) would one day slay him. The child escaped and grew up among rustic cow-herds. Among the miracles he performed was the raising of a widow's son from the dead. He slew Kansa, and descended into hell to restore certain children to their sorrowing mothers." This is strangely like the story we read of Jesus. In Egypt, Typhon was the "god of evil;" and Anubis, the "jackal-headed genius of death," conducted souls to the land of shades. Osiris was "god of the underworld and judge of the dead."
The "descent into hell" was not added to the Apostles' Creed until after the sixth century. The Creed before that stood as follows: -- "I believe in God the Father Almighty; and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten son, our Lord; who was born of the Holy Ghost and Virgin Mary; and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and was buried; and the third day rose again from the dead; ascended into heaven; sitteth on the right hand of the Father; whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead; and in the Holy Ghost; the Holy Church; the remission of sins; and the resurrection of the flesh. -- Amen." It is not to be under stood that this Creed was framed by the apostles, or that it existed as a creed in their time. It was an invention of a much later period.
"Then shalt thou die, but from the darkness above Shalt rise victorious, and be twice a god."
The "savior," Adonis, after being put to death, "rose from the dead," and the Syrians celebrate the festival of the "Resurrection of Adonis " in the early spring. The festival was observed in Alexandria, the cradle of Christianism, in the time of Bishop Cyril (412 C.E.); and at Antioch, the ancient capital of the Greek Kings of Syria, where the followers of Jesus were first called "Christians" in the Emperor Jillian's time (363 C.E.). The celebration in honor of the Resurrection of Adonis came at last to be known as a Christian festival, and the ceremonies held in Catholic countries on Good Friday and Easter Sunday are nothing more than the festival of the death and resurrection of Adonis. This god is propitiated as "O Adonai" in one of the Greater Antiphons of the Roman Catholic Church. Osiris, after being put to death, "rose from the dead," and bore the title of the "Resurrected One." "It is astonishing to find," says Mr. Bonwick, "that at least 5,000 years ago men treated an Osiris as 'a risen savior,' and confidently hoped to rise, as he arose, from the grave." ["Egyptian Belief."]
The Phrygian savior, Attys or Atyces, and the Persian savior and "mediator between god and man," Mithra, were "put to death and rose again." Tammuz, the Babylonian savior, son of the virgin Mylitta; Bacchus, son of the virgin Semele; Hercules, son of Zeus; Memnon, whose mother Eos wept tears at his death, like Mary is said to have done for Jesus; Baldur, the Scandinavian lord and savior; and the Greek Amphiarius, "all rose again after death."
So that we see that Mary and Jesus were nothing more than representatives of Isis and Horus of Egypt, Devaki and Krishna of Judaea, Ormuz and Mithra of Persia, and many other virgins and virgin-born gods, who were the pagan prototypes of the modern black virgin and child of Loretto, the "Bambino" or black child at Rome, and the virgin and child of the Roman Missal and the English prayer-book.
MIRACLES are imaginary deviations from the known laws of nature by the supposed will and power of a deity, which laws have been proved by experience to be firm and unalterable; no deviation from them having ever yet been known. Belief in miracles is generally the result either of ignorance, or of the confusion of belief with knowledge; and their acceptance, without proper verification, is responsible for the countless errors, delusions, and superstitions which have gained possession of the human mind.
There was a disposition among the people who lived contemporary with Jesus to believe in anything. It was a credulous age. All leaders of religion had recommended themselves to the public by working miracles and curing diseases. The expected messiah, in order to stand any chance of success, must therefore work miracles and heal from sickness. The Essenes, as we have seen, pretended to effect miracles and extraordinary cures, and Jesus was an Essene. The biographers of Jesus, therefore, not wishing their master to be outdone, made him also a performer of miracles, of which prodigies and wonders the legendary history of Jesus contained in the New Testament is full. Without them Christianism could not have prospered. "The Hindu sacred books represent Krishna, their savior and redeemer, as in constant strife against the evil spirit, surmounting extraordinary dangers, strewing his way with miracles, raising the dead, healing the sick, restoring the maimed, the deaf, and the blind; everywhere supporting the weak against the strong, the oppressed against the powerful. The people crowded his way and adored him as a god, and these pretended miracles were the evidences of his divinity for centuries before the time of Jesus. [Doane -- "Bible Myths."] Buddha performed what appeared to be "great miracles for the good of mankind, and the legends concerning him are full of the most extravagant prodigies and wonders." "It was by belief in these," says Burnouf, "that the religion of Buddha was established." Innumerable are the miracles ascribed to Buddhist saints. Their garments and staffs were supposed to imbibe some mysterious power, and blessed were they who were allowed to touch them. A Buddhist saint, who attained the power called "perfection," was able to rise and float along through the air, his body becoming imponderous. Buddhist annals give accounts of miraculous suspensions in the air. We are also told that in B.C. 217 nineteen Buddhist missionary priests entered China to propagate their faith, and were imprisoned by the emperor; but that an angel came and opened the prison door and liberated them. The Hindu sage, Vasudeva (i.e., Krishna), was liberated from prison in like manner. We may, therefore, easily see where the legends of Peter and his release from prison (Acts v.), and the Ascension, came from.
Zoroaster, the founder of the religion of the Persians, opposed his persecutors by performing miracles in order to confirm his divine mission. Bochia, of the Persians, also performed miracles, the places where they occurred being consecrated, and people flocked in crowds to visit them. Horus and Serapis, Egyptian saviours, performed great miracles, among which was that of raising the dead to life. Osiris and Isis also performed miracles, and pilgrimages were made to the temples of Isis by the sick. Marduk, the Assyrian god ("the Logos") -- "he who made heaven and earth" -- "the merciful one," "the life giver," etc., performed great miracles and raised the dead to life. Bacchus, son of Zeus by the virgin goddess Seniele, was a great performer of miracles, among which may be mentioned his changing water into wine, as is recorded of Jesus. AEsculapius, son of Apollo, the Creek god, was also a great performer of miracles, and cured, the sick and raised the dead. Apollonius, of Tyana, in Cappadocia, born about four years before Jesus, among other miracles restored a dead maiden to life. Simon Magus, the Samaritan, by his proficiency in performing miracles was called "the Magician" and "Magus." He travelled about and made many converts, professed to be "the Wisdom of God," "the Word of God," "the Paraclete" or "Comforter," "the image of the eternal father manifested in the flesh," and his followers claimed that he was "the first born of the Supreme." All these were titles in after years applied to Jesus. They also had a gospel called "The Four Corners of the World," from which Irenaeus probably borrowed his reason for the choice and number of the four gospels. Menander, "the wonder-worker" of Samaria, was another great performer of miracles. Eusebius says of him: "He revelled in still more arrogant pretensions to miracles ... than his master (Simon Magus) ... saying that he was in truth the Savior." ["Ecclesiastical History," lib. iii, 26.] Justin is quoted by Eusebius as having said of Menander: "He deceived many by his magic arts ... and there are now some of his followers who can testify the same." Vespasian, a contemporary of Jesus, performed wonderful miracles. Tacitus says that "he cured a blind man in Alexandria by means of his spittle, and a lame man by the mere touch of his foot."
Miracles were not uncommon among the Jews before and during the time of Jesus. Casting out devils was an everyday occurrence, and miracles were frequently wrought to confirm the sayings of the Rabbis. One is said to have Cried out, when his opinions were disputed: "May this tree prove that I am right!" and the tree is said to have been torn up by the roots and hurled to a distance. And when his opponents declared that a tree could prove nothing, he said, "May this stream then witness for me," and at once it flowed the opposite way. [Geikie, "Life of Christ."] "No one custom of antiquity is so frequently mentioned by ancient historians as the practice which was so common of making votive offerings to their deities, and hanging them up in their temples -- images of metal, stone, and clay; arms, legs, and other parts of the body, in testimony of some divine cure effected," says Middleton. ["Letters from Rome."] It was a popular adage among the Greeks -- "Miracles for fools." The shrewder Romans said: "The common people like to be deceived; deceived let them be." Celsus, in common with most Greeks, looked upon Christianity as a "blind faith" that "shunned the light of reason." In speaking of Christians, he says: "They are forever repeating: 'Do not examine; only believe, and thy faith will make thee blessed; wisdom is a bad thing in life, foolishness is to be preferred."' [Origen, "Cont. Celsus," bk. 1, ch. 9.]
Jesus was accused of being a "necromancer, and a magician, and a deceiver of the people," says Justin Martyr. He was said to have been initiated in magical art in the heathen temples of Egypt. Both Jesus, and Horus the Egyptian savior, are represented on monuments with wands, in the received guise of necromancers, while raising the dead to life. Dr. Middleton tells us that "there was just reason to suspect that there was some fraud " in the actions of these Yesuans, or primitive Christians, who travelled about from city to city to convert the Pagans; and that "the strolling wonder- workers, by a dexterity of jugglery, which art, not heaven, had taught them, imposed on the credulity of the pious Fathers, whose strong prejudices and ardent zeal for the interests of Christianity would dispose them to embrace, without examination, whatever seemed to promote so good a cause ... the pretended miracles of the primitive Church were all mere fictions, which the pious and zealous Fathers, partly from a weak credulity and partly from reasons of policy, were induced to espouse and propagate for the support of a righteous cause." The primitive Christians were perpetually reproached for their credulity; and Julian says that "the sum of all their wisdom was comprised in the single precept -- 'believe.'" According to the very books which record the miracles of Jesus, he never claimed to perform such deeds, and Paul declares that the great reason why Israel did not believe Jesus to be the Messiah was that "the Jews required a sign." "John," in the second century, makes Jesus reproach his fellow-countrymen with "Unless you see signs and wonders you do not believe." It is evident, therefore, that, had he performed the miracles that his followers said he did, the Jews would have accepted him as their Messiah; and that, since he was not accepted by them, we may justly conclude that he performed no miracles. His miracles were evidently concocted and recorded for him. When told that, if he wanted people to believe in him, he must first prove his claim by a miracle, he said: "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign, and no sign shall be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." This answer not satisfying the questioners, they came to him again, and asked: "If the kingdom of God is, as you say, close at hand, show us at least some one of the signs in the heavens which are to precede the coming of the Messiah?" It was generally understood then that the end of the present age was at hand, and was to be heralded by signs from heaven. The light of the sun was to be put out, the moon turned to blood, the stars robbed of their brightness, etc. Historians of that period, curiously enough, have recorded miracles and wonders alleged to have been performed by other persons, but not a word is said by them about the miracles claimed by Christians to have been performed by Jesus. Justus of Tiberias, who was born about five years after the time assigned for the crucifixion of Jesus, wrote a Jewish History, but it contained no mention of the coming of Jesus, nor of the events concerning him, nor of the prodigies he is supposed to have wrought. If they could have been present at one of Messrs. Maskelyne and Cook's entertainments, these credulous ancients would have certainly wanted to worship these expert conjurers as gods; and the dentist who could fit the vacant gums with a new set of teeth, or the driver of a steam engine, would have been probably deified as "creators." "Our increased knowledge of nature," says Dr. Oort, "has gradually undermined the belief in the probability of miracles, and the time is not far distant when, in the mind of every man of any culture, all accounts of miracles will be banished altogether to their proper region -- that of legend." What was said to have been done in India was said by the writers of the gospels to have been done in Palestine. The change of names and places, with the mixing up of various sketches of Egyptian, Phoenician, Greek, and Roman mythology, was all that was necessary. They had an abundance of material, and with it they built. A long-continued habit of imposing upon others would in time subdue the minds of the impostors themselves, and cause them to become at length the dupes of their own deception."
The Old Testament was written in ancient Hebrew on rough skins, in ink almost obliterated by age, and crossed in different inks and languages. The writing consisted of capital letters only, very badly formed, and with no vowels, stops, or division into words by spaces; being, like modern Hebrew, written from right to left. There were originally about 150 old writings of this description, supposed to have been inspired by the "spirit of God." Fifty-three were formerly considered by the Christian Church as canonical; they included the "Pentateuch," or five books of Moses but in 1380 fourteen were decided to be uncanonical, and were classed as "apocryphal by Wicliffe -- the Reformer and Bible translator. These fourteen books were omitted from the Protestant Bibles, though they are said in the Articles of Religion of the English State Church to be useful "for example of life and instruction of manners." Many of the old writings are now lost.
The books of the New Testament were written on papyrus, some in Greek and some in Latin; "Matthew" was written in Syro-Chaldaic; "Mark," "Luke," "John," Acts, and Romans, in Greek. Twenty-seven books are now considered to be canonical, but there were sixty-one others now classed as apocryphal. "Twelve were excluded at first, but afterwards received as canonical; among the apocryphal books were 'the Gospel of the Egyptians,' one of the Essene Scriptures, and one a Gospel which circulated among the Christians of the first three centuries, containing the doctrine of a 'Trinity,' a doctrine which was not established in the Christian Church till 327 C.E., but which was taught by a Buddhist sect in Alexandria. There were forty-one, consisting of absurd fables, many of which are lost; and twenty-eight writings mentioned or referred to in the various canonical books, which also are lost." [H.J. Hardwicke, "Evolution and Creation."]
"Out of 182 works accepted for centuries as the genuine writings of Christians during the first 180 years of the present era, only twelve are now contended by theologians to be genuine; 170 forged writings permitted by the alleged 'Guider into all truth' to have existed for centuries, and believed in by poor, feeble man." [Julian, "Old and New Testament Examined."] The manufacture of some of these manuscripts probably took place at the great monastery at Mount Athos, in Salonica, where about "60,000 monks were employed" [Investigator, "Origin of the Christ Church."] in that occupation. The first that we know of the four Christian gospels is in the time of Irenaeus, who, in the second century, intimates that he has "received four gospels as authentic scriptures." "This pious forger was probably the adapter of the John Gospel." [Investigator, "Origin of the Christian Church."]
Three accounts are given of how the books which now appear in the New Testament were chosen: (1) That by Popius, in his "Synodicon" to the Council of Nicaea, says that 200 "versions of the gospel were placed under a Communion table, and, while the Council prayed, the inspired books jumped on the slab, but the rest remained under it." (2) That by Irenmus says "the Church selected the four most popular of the gospels." (3) That by the Council of Laodicea (366) says that "each book was decided by ballot. The Gospel of Luke escaped by one vote, while the Acts of the Apostles and the Apocalypse were rejected as forgeries."
Again, if prayer was of any use we should expect to see some practical result from it. But do we? Those who are prayed for most are those who are prayed for publicly; these are sovereigns and other heads of States, the nobility, and the clergy. Can we say fairly that these are any the better for all the prayers that go up to the throne of Yahuh? Experience teaches us that the answer is "No." Have our kings or queens enjoyed better health, become any richer, or lived any longer for the prayer in the State Prayer Book, that asks that it may be granted him or her "in health and wealth long to live"? Are our nobility endowed with greater divine "grace, wisdom, or understanding" for the prayers that go up to this effect? Experience teaches us that the contrary is the case. Are the clergy of the State Church, who are supposed to be called to the ministry by the Holy Ghost, protected more than anyone else against temptation, immorality, infectious diseases, sickness, or the asphyxiating effects of gas or drowning? Missionaries are eaten and digested by cannibals, just as any other person who has only his own prayers to rely upon. Do we ever hear of cannibals suffering in any way after eating "holy missionary"? Does prayer protect us from calamitous floods? Is it not proverbial that prayers for rain, in seasons of drought, have no effect? Were the lives of the Prince Consort, the Duke of Clarence, the Czar of Russia, the German Emperor, or Presidents Lincoln or Garfield, saved because of the national prayers that went up for them? No, these all died because their physicians were unable to cure them. When the Prince of Wales recovered from his fever, thanksgivings went up all over the land to Yahuh's throne. But why should his recovery be attributed to prayer, and not to the skill of the first physicians of the day? If Yahuh could save the Prince of Wales, he surely could have saved those above mentioned who died. We are told he is not a respecter of persons. Then why should Yahuh show ill- nature towards them, and display such favor to the Prince of Wales? The answer is obvious: the Prince was cured by his physicians. Does the history of earthquakes and other misfortunes, due to natural phenomena, show that praying people are saved from danger, while the non-praying ones suffer? When the earthquake of 1887, in the south of France, occurred, were the churches (God's own houses) saved, and the gaming-tables at Monte Carlo destroyed? No, just the contrary. Why did the late successful preacher, Spurgeon (a minister of God), go to Mentone, when he had the gout, leaving his congregation behind to pray for him; notwithstanding which collective praying, he died? Mr. Foote says: "As soon as the Mediterranean air and sunshine have given him relief, he writes to the Tabernacle: 'Beloved, the Lord has heard our prayers ... Not only could God cure Spurgeon's gout in the south of London as easily as in the south of France, but he might extend his divine assistance to the myriad sufferers from disease in the back streets and slums of the Metropolis, who do not earn a few thousands a year by preaching the gospel, and are unable to take a month's holiday at a fashionable watering-place." [Introduction to "Folly of Prayer."] Perhaps his rushing off to Mentone made Yahuh think he had not sufficient faith in the success of the combined prayers of his faithful but credulous followers. Praying people have a happy knack of making full use of mundane assistance at the same time, on the principle of "God helps those who help themselves," in the carrying out of which cunningly-devised clerical principle it is difficult to see where "God's help" comes in. Prayer for recovery from illness, when the bliss of paradise -- which is said to be so delightful to 'believers' -- awaits them, is difficult to comprehend."
Sacrifice was the earliest form of worship. "When it was once laid down," says Mr. Doane, "as a principle that the effusion of blood appeased the anger of the gods; that their punishment was turned aside from them to the victim, their object naturally was to conciliate the gods and obtain their favor by so easy a method. It is in the nature of violent desires and excessive fears to know no bounds " -- as we have seen, in the year 1895, in the burning of a wife by her husband, in Ireland, as a witch and when the blood of animals was not deemed a price sufficient, they began to shed that of human beings." Abram was ordered by Yahuh to offer up his son Isaac, and a similar story is related by the Hindus of a certain king, who had no son, and also promised the goddess Varuna that, if he were granted the favor of a son, he would offer him up as a sacrifice. The child Kohita was duly born, and, when the father told him of the vow he had made and bade him prepare for sacrifice, the boy ran away, and wandered in the forest, where he met a starving Brahmin, whom he persuaded to sell one of his sons for 100 cows. This boy was brought to the king, and about to be sacrificed as a substitute, when, on praying to the gods, he was released. The Greeks had two versions of a similar fable; one, that Agamemnon had a daughter whom he dearly loved, and whom he was ordered by the deity to offer up as a sacrifice. When preparations were being made, the goddess carried the girl away, and substituted a stag. The other is of a Greek king, who had offended Diana, when the sacrifice of his daughter was demanded; but she suddenly disappeared just before the fatal blow. In time of war the captives were chosen for sacrifice; but in time of peace they offered their slaves. In great calamities or famines the king was, on the least pretext, sacrificed, as being the highest price with which they could purchase the divine favor. Kings also offered their children. "The altar of Moloch reeked with blood." Fair virgins and children were sacrificed by being thrown into a furnace shaped like a bull, "while trumpets and flutes drowned their screams, and the mothers looked on, and were bound to restrain their tears." Carthage was a notable place for these sacrifices. The offering of human sacrifices to the sun in Mexico and Peru was extensively practiced. The ancient Egyptians annually celebrated the resurrection of their god and savior Osiris, and at the same time commemorated his death by eating the consecrated wafer which had become "veritable flesh of his flesh " -- the body of Osiris -- thus eating their god, as the Christians do. Bread and wine were brought to the temples as offerings. The Essenes, or Therapeuts, worshippers of Mithra, the Persian Sun-god, the second person of the Trinity, no doubt introduced the Eucharist idea, along with baptism, and other Pagan rites, among the early Christians. When it was introduced into Rome by the Persian magicians, the eucharistic mysteries were celebrated in a cave. The ancient Greeks had their "Mysteries," wherein they "celebrated the sacrament of the Lord's supper," called also "Eleusinian mysteries." These were offered every fifth year by the Pagan Athenians in honor of "Ceres," the goddess of corn. She was supposed to have given "her flesh to eat," and Bacchus, the god of wine, "his blood to drink." "Many of the forms of expression in the Christian solemnity are precisely the same as those that appertained to the Pagan rite." [Rev. R. Taylor.] The Pagan priest dismissed his congregation with "The Lord be with you" -- an expression retained to this day in the English Protestant Church, and in the Catholic Church as "Dominus vobiscum."
The Jews offered up human sacrifices to their gods Moloch, Baal, Chemosh, Apis -- the bull-god of the Egyptians, and Yahuh (Exodus xiii. 2; xxii. 29; xxxii. 27; Judges xi. 31; Joshua vi. 17; 1 Samuel xv. 32; 2 Samuel xxi. 6; 1 Kings xviii. 40; 2 Kings x. 24; Jeremiah vii. 30). Yahuh commands that "none devoted (consecrated) of men shall be redeemed, but shall surely be put to death" (Leviticus xxvii. 28). the story of Jesus and his disciples being at supper, and his breaking bread, may be true; but the expressions, "Do this in remembrance of me," "This is my Body," and "This is my blood," are undoubtedly of Essene origin, inserted to give to the new mystic ceremony some authority which, it has been stated, was never intended.
BAPTISM, by immersion, or sprinkling, for the remission of sin, is to be found in countries the most widely separated on the face of the earth, and was a Pagan rite adopted by Christians. With both Pagans and Christians, the ordinance gave full expiation from original sin, restoring instantly to original purity. Infant baptism was practiced by Buddhists. In Mongolia and Tibet candles burn, incense is offered, and the child is dipped three times in water, accompanied by prayers, and named. Adult baptism was practiced by the Brahmans, the Zoroastrians and Mithraists of Persia -- the latter mark the sign of the cross on the forehead; by the Egyptians, the Essenes (ascetics, of Buddhist origin), and by the Greeks and Romans. The goddess Nundina took her name from the ninth day, on which all male children were sprinkled with holy water (as females were on the eighth), named, and a certificate given of "regeneration." Adults, initiated in the sacred rites of Bacchus, were regenerated by baptism. Fire was used in many instances as well as water, the Romans using both; and baptism by fire is still practiced. This is what is alluded to in Matthew iii. 11, which makes John say: "I baptize you with water; but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost (breath) and with fire."
Primitive (savage) man, seeing his shadow, and that it moved about with him, and hearing the echo of his voice, thought that it was his "second self." Cases of suspended animation swooning, fainting, and comatose conditions from injuries -- would be considered to be death, and when animation was restored the second- self, who had left the body for a short period, had returned. In expectation of this reanimation, it became customary to supply the actual dead with the necessaries of life -- food, drink, clothing, etc. -- and murders, self-immolations, and destructions of live- stock took place, with the idea that they should accompany the departed soul. Men had their cattle, horses, dogs, wives, slaves, and, money buried with them; women, their domestic appliances; and children, their toys. Every dead person became a "ghost," and added one more to the others gone before, "haunting the old home, lingering near the place of burial, and wandering about in the adjacent bush." [H. Spencer, "Principles of Society."] Thus an invisible world of ghosts, spirits, etc., arose in the primitive mind. The spirits of the wicked dead, the offspring of fallen angels, etc., became "demons," and were the cause of all their troubles. The simple state of the dead was called "sheol," which, when it acquired a more definite meaning of a miserable place, became "Hades," afterwards developing into a place of torture or diabolical government having gradations, "Gehenna." As the place of burial became gradually more distant -- even to the top of high mountains -- so did the idea of resurrection. The other life, which at first repeated this exactly, became more and more unlike it, and from an adjacent spot passed to the distant place of the future. These beings, to whom was ascribed the power of making themselves at one time visible and at another invisible, became gradually omnipresent. "With the development of the doctrine of ghosts grew up an easy solution of all those changes which the heavens and earth are hourly exhibiting. Clouds that gather and vanish, shooting stars, sudden darkening of the water's surface by a breeze, storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc., were attributed to departed souls, probably acting as officials for an angered deity. Thus arose ancestor worship, prayer, deities, etc.
The Bogie of the modern nursery is identical with the slavonic Bog, Bag-a-boo, or Bug-bear; and the Buga of the cuneiform inscriptions -- names of the supreme power. The "Rock of Behistan" -- "the sculptured chronicle of the glories of Darius, King of Persia" -- situated on the western frontier of Media, on the high road from Babylon to the eastward, was used as a "Holy of Holies." It was named Bagistane -- the place of the Baga, referring to Ormuzd, chief or the Bagas -- the old Aryan Bhaga of the Rig Veda (Buddhist scriptures), "the Lord of Life," "the Giver of Bread," and "the Bringer of Happiness." "Thus the same name which, to the Vedic poet, to the Persian of the time of Xerxes, and to the modern Russian, suggests the supreme majesty of deity, is in English associated with an ugly and ludicrous Fiend." [Bible Myths.]
As with the cross and the "labarum," so likewise with many other so-called Christian symbols; they are borrowed from paganism. There is a medal at Rome of Constantius, Constantine's predecessor, with this inscription on it: "In hoc signo victor eris" -- which shows that Constantine borrowed the idea conceived by him in his dream.
The triangle, trefoil, and tripod were all pagan symbols of their different trinities. The triangle is conspicuous as a sacred emblem in Hindu and Buddhist temples, sometimes with the mystical letters AUM on it, one letter at each angle = Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva -- the Hindu trinity. It is also seen in the obelisk and pyramids of Egypt. The trefoil adorned the head of Osiris, and was used among the ancient Druids.
THE FISH AND THE LAMB. -- Dagon, the fish-god of the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Phoenicians, was sacred to Venus; and, curiously enough, Catholics now eat fish on the day which was dedicated to Venus -- Dies Veneris, or Friday -- "fish-day" as it is called. The dag or fish, was the most ancient symbol of the productive power, and was the emblem of fecundity. Vishnu, the Hindu "Matsaya," or Messiah, "Preserver," "Mediator," and "Savior," was identical with the Babylonian "Dagon," or fish-god. He became a fish to save the "seventh Manu," the progenitor of the human race, from the universal deluge. The earliest emblems of the Christian Savior were "the good shepherd," "the lamb" (or ram), and "the fish" -- the lamb and fish both being of zodiacal origin ("Aries" and "Pisces").
Jesus is represented in the catacombs as two fishes crossed, not unlike "the sacred monogram." Dagon is mentioned in 1 Sam v. 2. The dove was the symbol of the "spirit" among all the nations of antiquity, as it is now with Christians. The Samaritans had a "brazen fiery dove," instead of a "brazen fiery serpent;" both referred to fire -- the symbol of the "Holy Ghost." Buddha is represented, like Jesus, with a dove hovering over his head. The goddess Juno is often represented with a dove on her head. It is also seen on the heads of the images of Astarte, Cybele, and Isis. The Virgin Mary ascending upon the crescent moon, so frequently seen in pictures, is the modern adaptation of Isis rising heavenward. The dove was sacred to Venus, and was intended as a symbol of the "Holy Spirit;" it signified incubation, by which was figuratively expressed the fructification of inert matter, caused by the vital spirit or breath (ruach in Hebrew, and pneuma in Greek). Fasting, scourging, shaving of heads ("tonsure"), rosary beads, white surplices, mitres, craziers, etc., were customs and symbols of the ancient Egyptians, and some, also, of the Babylonians.
EASTER. -- This festival in ancient times spread from China -- where it was called "the Festival of Gratitude to Tien" -- to the whole of Pagan Europe. The festival began with a week's indulgence in all kinds of sports -- the "Carne vale" ( = to flesh farewell), or the taking a farewell to animal food, from which the modern word Carnival is derived, being followed by a fast of forty days in honor of the Saxon goddess Ostris, or Eostre of the Germans, whence our Easter. The ancient Persians, at the festival of the solar new year (March 21st, when the sun crosses the equator), presented each other with colored eggs. Dyed eggs were sacred Easter offerings in Egypt. The Jews used eggs at the Passover. The early Christians did not celebrate the resurrection of their "Lord," but made the Jewish Passover their chief festival. "A new tradition gained currency among the Roman Christians that Jesus had not eaten the Passover before he died, but had substituted himself for the 'paschal lamb.' The resurrection then became the great Christian festival, and was celebrated on the first pagan holiday -- the Dies Solis -- after the Passover."
THE PURIFICATION of the Virgin originated with the worship of the Egyptian goddess Neith ( = starry sky), the virgin mother of the sun-god Ra. The worship of this goddess was accompanied by a profusion of burning candles. Her feast was called "the Feast of the Purification."
The idea of a SABBATH originated with the Akkadians, who occupied a tract of land in the historic valley of the Tigris and Euphrates about five thousand years before the "Christ" Jesus, where the civilization of the world commenced. These Akkadians, who were eventually conquered by the Assyrians, and from the ruins of whose empire subsequently arose the monarchies of Nineveh and Babylon, were the inventors of cuneiform writing, which consisted of figures of various kinds of animals, limbs, etc., traced with a style upon clay cylinders or tablets. Many of these have been found under the ruins of the buried cities; twelve were found in Babylonia in 1876 (see p. 23), others at Tel-el-Amarna in Egypt in 1887, and among the ruins of Lachish in Southern Palestine. These are now decipherable. The religion of the Akkadians (Shamanism, from the Semitic Shamas = sun) was astronomical and phallic. They had their "Trinity" -- a celestial father and mother, and their off-spring, the sun-god; also stories of an infant Sargon being placed by his mother in a reed basket, and left on the bank of a river, being subsequently found, and eventually becoming king of Babylon (about B.C. 3750); of a creation; a tree of life; and a deluge. The name Adam is derived from the Assyrian Adami -- man. They also had their "holy water," "penitential psalms," table of "shew-bread," and "ark" containing the images of their gods. They dedicated special days to the sun, moon, and five planets -- Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn -- each cycle of which became a week of seven days. "The number seven thus became sacred to them," as did the number twelve, which represented the twelve signs of the zodiac, and from which the idea of the twelve apostles was derived. "They had a special deity who received honor, as patron of the number seven; and destructive tempests and winds were believed to be directed by the will of seven wicked spirits." [F.J. Gould, "A Concise History of Religion."] The seven heavenly bodies were represented in the seven platforms, by which the astronomer priests ascended to the summit of their temple, the so-called "Tower of Babel." "The 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th days of each month were called 'Sabbaths,' or 'Rest days,' and so rigorously was this day kept that not even the king was permitted to eat cooked food, change his clothes, drive his chariot, sit in the judgment-seat, review his troops, or even take medicine on any of those days." [ Ibid.]
The Sabbatical idea, with many other religious customs and observances, spread from the Akkadians to their Semitic conquerors, the inhabitants of the neighboring countries of Phoenicia, Phrygia, Canaan, and Syria; and from these to the Jews during their seventy years' captivity. The Jews do not appear to have understood the true astronomical origin of their Sabbath, for they give two contradictory reasons for its institution; one in Exodus (xxii. and xxxi. 17), where it is given as "because the Almighty rested on the seventh day;" the other in Deuteronomy (v. 15), where it is given as because "the Lord God brought them out from bondage in Egypt," which event is computed to have occurred about 2,500 years later than "the Creation."
The Puritans in the sixteenth century, a bigoted and narrow sect of Christians, attempted, with great fanaticism, to revive the ceremonial obligations of the Jewish Sabbath; but altering the day of the week from the seventh to the first, which secured for them the name of "Sabbatarians." And the idea has been kept up in this country by the retention in the Prayer Book of the State Church, of the Hebrew Decalogue, with a prayer following each command, that the deity will "incline their hearts to keep that law," notwithstanding the new Hexalogue that Jesus is said to have delivered to his disciples (Matthew xix. 18). Sabbatarians bring forward as reasons for their superstition that on the first day of the week "Paul preached" -- but he also preached on the Jewish Sabbath three times (Acts xvi. 13; xvii; xviii. 4); the disciples "assembled for the breaking of bread" -- but we are told they went about breaking bread every day from house to house (Acts ii. 46); and that "they were all with one accord in one place" -- these commentators seem to forget that it was "on the feast of Pentecost," which fell on the first day of the week, and that it was on account of the feast, not the day of the week, that they were gathered together; the last Jewish feast that Paul was anxious to keep (i Corinthians xvi. 8). Sabbatarians, to be consistent, ought not to permit fires to be lighted in their houses, even in winter, for "ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath day" (Exodus xxxv. 3); nor ought they to permit the painting of pictures, the carving of sculpture, etc. Jesus is shown, in the New Testament, to have abolished the Sabbath; for he tells his hearers that both he and his father worked on the Sabbath; and, when rebuked by the Pharisees for breaking the Sabbath, replied that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath; and he is said to have performed most of his miracles on that day. The Yezuans, or Jesusites, and the Christians of a later day kept no Sabbath, and discountenanced the keeping of holy days. Not until the time of the Imperial Murder Constantine (321 C.E.) was the idea of a Christian Sabbath conceived. The first day of the week -- Sunday -- Dies Solis Venerabuis, was the great weekly festival with the Pagans -- worshippers of the sun -- "sol", the invincible." An edict was issued by Constantine to compel all except laborers "to rest from all work on the venerable day of the sun." Pagan idols were transformed into Christian saints, and Pagan temples into Christian churches. But this edict, which was much disliked by Christians, was repealed by the Emperor Leo in the ninth century. Eusebius says: "They [the first Christians] did not observe the Sabbath, nor do we; neither do we regard other injunctions which Moses delivered to be types and symbols, because such things as these do not belong to Christians." ["Ecclesiastical History," book 1, ch. 4.]
The EASTERN SEMITES of Accadia, Babylonia, Assyria, etc., the originators of the Chaldean religion, were astrologers and astronomers, and they mapped out the ancient zodiac. It was in this district that civilization may be said to have commenced; a library of clay tablets was formed by King Sargon I., about 4,000 B.C., at Nineveh, which gave stories of the Creation, Flood, and of a conflict between the Sun-God and the demon Tiamat, and the descent of Ishtar into Hades, etc. Their gods were Ana (lord of the sky); Ea (of air and water); Darki (earth); Marduk, or Merodack, and Bel (the sun), son of Ea; Bilit, or Mylitta (Bel's wife), to whom every Babylonian woman had to offer her virginity; Sin (the moon); Ishtar (evening star) -- for Ishtar's sake men made themselves eunuchs, and women yielded to prostitution; Dagon (the fish-god) was of Chaldean origin.
THE WESTERN SEMITES, Of Canaan, Syria, Phoenicia, Phrygia, and Asia Minor, retained many of the traditions and ideas of the Easterns. Bel was by them transformed into Baal; Ishtar into Ashtoreth and Astarte; Moloch into Ashera (Priapus, the phallic god). They had also the legend of the dying sun-god, and of a flood. Many of the stories of Jesus may be traced to these ancient legends. They had also their Sabbath, like the Easterns.
Philistines had Derketo (half woman, half fish); and Dagon.
Moabites adored Chemosh.
Hebrew Tribes -- Yahuh (Jehovah) or Yeho -- the provider of sexual pleasure, Adonai, Baal, and El-Shaddai.
India -- Brahma (the "savior" and androgynous creator), Vishnu, and Siva; Vasudeva, Devaki, and Krishna (mother and child). Gautama Buddha (god, man, and savior). Krishna and Osiris were dark-skinned; Typhon was red; and Horus, white. The dark-skinned is supposed to have represented the hidden sun at night. "Buddhism is a sun myth. Emerging from the womb of the virgin dawn, the hero ascends the sky to meet and conquer the storm spirit, after which the fires of sunset redden over his funeral pile." Brahmanism grew out of the old Vedic faith, and Buddhism out of Brahmanism -- now Hinduism.
Persia -- Mazda, or Ormuzd ("creator," "god of light, purity, and truth "); Ahriman (the outcast, bad spirit); Zoroaster (mediator between Ormuzd and Ahriman); Haoma, Tistrya (Dog Star); Anahita (goddess of fruitfulness); Sraosha (god of prayer and sacrifice); Devas (the shining ones, the children of Dyaus -- the sky -- Dyaus Pitar, in Sanskrit, meaning heaven and father, in Greek Zeu pater (Zeus), in Latin Jupiter and Deus); Prithivi (the earth mother) represented the powers of nature. Indra was the god of rain; Surya, the sun-god and Agni, the god of fire and lightening -- a trinity. There were also the gods of day, dawn, wind, etc. Zoroaster, the prophet of Mazda, founded Zoroastrianism, an offshoot of Mazdaism, as was also Mithraism. Mithra was a sun- god, and "Incarnate Word," "Lord of Light." Mithra, Zoroaster, Krishna, Zeus of the Greeks, and Jesus were all said to be born in caves. A figure of the sun-god Mithra is, says Mr. Gould, to be seen in the British Museum. "The god is plunging a knife into a bull, and, while the bull is attacked from below by a scorpion, a dog laps the blood which flows from the wound." The allusion is to the sun entering into the zodiacal sign "Taurus" at the vernal equinox, and the fate which compels its return to wintry depths through the autumnal sign "Scorpio." The first day of the week was dedicated to Mithra, whose devotees were baptized and marked on the forehead with a holy sign, and solemnly partook of a round cake and water.
China -- Shang-Ti (B.C. 2,200), Kung Futse (Confucius -- B.C. 550), Lao-Tse, and Buddha.
Japan Ceylon, Tibet, Corea, Siam, Burma -- Buddha; and remains of phallic worship in some.
Egypt -- Osiris (Father), the sun-god, after its disappearance in the west, where he was slain by the envious night, and yet destined to rise again the next morning; he was represented as a mummy, wearing a maitre, and holding a scepter and crazier, and in his hand a "crux ansata;" Osiris, Isis (virgin mother), and Horus (the infant) formed a trinity; Amen-Ra ("the maker of all that is"); Nut and Chonsu at Abydos; Typhon (god of evil); Khem (the phallic god of reproduction) Ptah (the god of Memphis) -- said to have produced the egg of the sun and moon. Ra was the sun god in his splendor; Neith was his virgin mother. Pharaoh is derived from Ptah and "Ra." Anubis was the jackal-headed genius of death and Serapis, introduced from Asia.
Africa -- Baal, Ammon, Isis, Horus, and Serapis.
Greece -- Zeus, Apollo, Athene ("the Immaculate Virgin"), Aphrodite, Herakles, Dionysus; later, Isis and Serapis. The Stoics, Platonists, and Epicureans were philosophers, and occupied a position similar to that of the Rationalists and Agnostics of the present day.
Italy and Rome -- Isis was a favourite goddess; Horus, Osiris, Jupiter, Juno, Minerva. The Isis cult recognized magic, fortune- telling by stars, palmistry, dreams, and consultations with the dead.
TRINITIES:Vedic -- Indra, Surya, and Agni.
India -- Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva; later Vasudeva, Devaki, and Krishna.
Egypt -- (In Abydos) Osiris, Isis, and Horus; (in Thebes) Amen-Ra, Nut (Mut or Neith), and Chonsu.
Greece -- Zeus, Athene, and Apollo.
Rome -- Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva.
Chaldea -- Ana, Ea, and Bel.
Christian Countries -- Yahuh, Holy Ghost (Ruach), and Jesus.
SCRIPTURES, or sacred writings:Egyptians -- The Book of the Dead and the Maxims of Ptah Hotep, eighteen in number (the most ancient book in the world); written on papyrus B.C. 3,400.
Aryans of Asia -- The Vedas.
(1) Brahminism -- The Rig Veda; the Law Book of Manu.
(2) Buddhism -- The Tripitaka, or Three Baskets.
(3) Hinduism -- The Puranas, the Ramyana, and the Mahabharata, an epic Poem B.C. 500, in which is the Bhagavadgita.
Parseeism -- The Zend Avesta.
Confucianism -- The Five Classics (King), and Four Shu.
Taoism -- The Tau-teh-king.
Judaism -- The Pentateuch and the Talmud, or Book of the Law.
Christianism -- The Old and New Testaments.
Islamism -- The Koran.
Primitive Astronomy. -- The Akkadians may be considered the fathers of astronomy, but the Indians, Egyptians, Persians, Ancient Greeks, and Romans each had their zodiacs, which differed very little from one another. The astronomer-priests were also astrologers, and supposed the heavenly bodies to possess a ruling influence over human and mundane affairs. Individual temperaments were ascribed to the planet under which a particular birth took place, as "saturnine" from Saturn, "jovial" from Jupiter, "mercurial" from Mercury; and the virtues of herbs, gems, and medicines were believed to be due to their ruling planets. The idea of ruling is to be found in the story of Creation in Genesis, where the sun is said to "rule the day," and the stars to "rule the night."
The modern zodiac is a fixed one, but with the ancients the zodiac was a changing one, this being due to the fact of the precession of the equinoxes, the sun failing to reach the equinoxial point at the same time each year. The different signs of the ancient zodiac in this way moved forward one degree in 71 or 72 years, and one whole sign (30 degrees) in 2,152 years; so that, between the years 4340 and 2188 B.C., the Bull was the first, chief, or vernal equinoxial sign; and, from 2188 to 36 B.C., the Ram or Lamb took its place, "at which time, the sun having ascended from its lowest point of declination, at Christmas (December 21st to 25th), arrives at that portion of its annual course when the equator and the ecliptic cross each other," and the days become longer than the nights.
It must be borne in mind that, when the sun was in any particular sign, the sign opposite to it in the zodiac, and the constellations of that portion of the heavens, were visible from our earth at night. When the Bull was the vernal equinoxial sign, the sun was said to be "in Taurus;" and, when the Ram was the vernal equinoxial sign, the sun was said to be "in Aries." They divided each of the twelve signs into thirty degrees, and three deacons of ten degrees each. As the sun passed from decan to decan, and from sign to sign, the astrologer-priests publicly proclaimed the exact moment of its entry into each. The first decan they called the "Upper Room," the second the "Middle Room," and the third the "Lower Room."
The various signs of the zodiac, as well as the sun, moon, and five planets, were considered by them as gods; and each was associated with romantic stories of struggles, victories, and defeats; and, according to their position in the zodiac, were accounted powerful and victorious at one time, and weak and dying at another. The sun passing through the twelve signs of the zodiac was represented in the story of the twelve labors of Hercules, the twelve patriarchs, the twelve tribes, etc.
The six summer signs were considered specially bountiful and holy, while the six winter signs were accounted less holy, but quite as powerful for evil as the others were for good. When the Bull was the vernal equinoxial point, the sun in Taurus was supreme God; and, when the Ram or Lamb, the sun in Aries was supreme God. "Although it was only in March that the sun was at the vernal equinoxial point, yet the Bull-god, for 2.000 years prior to 2188 B.C., was always supreme; and the Ram-god (in Egypt), or Lamb-god (in Persia), after that date." [H.J. Hardwick, "Evolution and Creation."] We have already seen that the different gods -- virgin- born, crucified, and resurrected saviours -- were not real personages, but merely personifications of the powers of nature, and principally those of the sun. "One of the earliest objects that would strike and stir the mind of man, and for which a sign or name would soon be wanted, is surely the sun." In the Vedas the sun has twenty different names, not pure equivalents, but each term descriptive of the sun in one of its aspects when brilliant, Surya; the friend, Mitra or Mithra; generous, Aryaman; beneficent, Bhaga; nourishing, Pushna; creator, Tvashtar; master of the sky, Divaspati; and so on." [S. Baring-Gould, "Origin of Religious Belief."] Men "could not fail to note the change of days and years, of growth and decay, of calm and storm; but the objects which so changed were to them living things, and the rising and setting of the sun, the return of winter and summer, became a drama in which the actors were their enemies or friends. These gods and heroes, and the incidents of their mythical career, would receive each a local habitation and name, and these would remain as genuine history, when the origin and meaning of the words had been either wholly or part forgotten." [Doane, "Bible Myths."]
"The history of the Savior can be followed, step by step, in the Vedic hymns; the development which changes the sun from a mere luminary into a 'Creator,' 'Preserver,' 'Ruler,' 'Rewarder of the World,' and, in fact, into a 'Divine or Supreme Being.' The first step is the light which meets us on waking in the morning, and which seems to give new life to man and nature. He is now called 'the Giver of Daily Life.' Then, by a bolder step, he becomes the 'Giver of Light and Life' in general. He who brings light and life to-day is the same who brought light and life on the first of days. And so he becomes a 'Creator' and, if a Creator, soon a 'Ruler of the World.' Then he is conceived as a 'Defender' and 'Kind Protector' of all living things, by driving away the dreaded darkness of the night, and as fertilizing the earth. Then, as a 'Vigilant Eye,' seeing everything -- the works of the evil doer, and that which no human eye can see." [Doane, "Bible Myths."]
The history of Jesus, the Christian Savior, is simply the history of the sun -- the real savior of mankind; and this can be demonstrated beyond a doubt. I quote chiefly from Doane's "Bible Myths": --
"The sacred legends abound with such expressions as can have no possible application to any other than to the 'god of day.' He is the 'light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory (or brightness) of his people.' He is come 'a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in him should not abide in darkness.' He is 'the light of the world and 'is light, and in him no darkness is.' Lighten our darkness, O Adonai, and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night.' 'God of god, light of light, very god of very god' (Creed). 'Merciful Adonai, we beseech thee to cast thy right beams of light upon thy church' (Catholic Collect St. John). 'To thee all angels cry aloud, the heavens, and all the powers therein. Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of thy glory (or brightness). The glorious company of the (twelve months or) apostles praise thee. Thou art the king of glory (brightness), O Christ! When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man thou passest through the constellation or zodiacal sign -- the virgin. When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of winter, thou didst open the kingdom of heaven (i.e., bring on the reign of the summer months), to all believers."
"We see, then, that Christ Jesus, like Christ Buddha, Christna, Mithra, Osiris, Horus, Apollo, Hercules, and others, is none other than a personification of the sun, and that the Christians, like their predecessors, the Pagans, are really sun- worshippers. It must not be inferred, however, that no such person as Jesus of Nazareth ever lived in the flesh. The man Jesus is evidently an historical personage, just as Sakaya, Prince Buddha, Cyrus, King of Persia, and Alexander, King of Macedonia, are historical personages; but the Christ Jesus, the Christ Buddha, the mythical Cyrus, and the mythical Alexander, never lived in the flesh. The sun myth has been added to the histories of these personages in a greater or less degree, just as it has been added to the history of many other real personages. After the Jews had been taken captives to Babylon, around the history of their King Solomon accumulated the fables which were related of Persian heroes ... When the fame of Cyrus and Alexander became known over the known world, the popular sun-myth was interwoven with their true history ... That the biography of Jesus, as recorded in the books of the New Testament, contain some few grains of actual history, is all that the historian or philosopher can rationally venture to urge. But the very process which has stripped these legends of the birth, life, and death of the sun, of all value as a chronicle of actual events, has invested them with a new interest. They present to us a form of society and a condition of thought through which all mankind had to pass before the dawn of history. Yet that state of things was as real as the time in which we live. 'They who spoke the language of these early tales were men and women with joys and sorrows not unlike our own." [Doane, "Bible Myths."]
PHALLIC WORSHIP, -- "Throughout all animal life there is no physical impulse so overbearing as the generative, unless we except that for food. Food gives satisfaction. Rest to tired nature gives pleasure. But the power of reproduction is the acme of physical bliss, How natural, then, that this last-named impulse should, early in human development, give direction and consequence to religious fancies." 'This the reproductive power did in India, Egypt, among the Buddhists, Babylonians, Phoenicians, Assyrians, and ancient Hebrews. As they personified the sun and planets, air, water, fire, etc., so they personified the sexual power; and the worship, not of the actual organs, but of the fertilizing principle, became a recognized custom, so much so that the ancients used to swear by their generative organs, as Christians do now by their Bible, as being the most sacred thing on earth, and representing the divine energy in a state of procreative activity. Thus we find in Psalm lxxxix. 49 (literally): "O my Adonis, where are thy endearments of old, which thou swearedst for the sake of love, by the phallus, O Ammon?" This had reference to the violent death of Adonis, who, at the autumnal equinox, was attacked by a wild boar, which tore away the membrum virile, and rendered him impotent, until he was born again, when he acquired fresh powers, and grew in beauty and stature, ready to reunite with Venus at the vernal equinox.
As we have before seen, the two sexual powers of nature were symbolized respectively by an upright and an oval (and sometimes a crescent or circle) emblem -- T and O; the Phallus, Ashera, Priapus of the Jews (the Hebrew letter for which was a cross), or Linga (of the Hindus); and the Hindu Yoni or Unit, the Vulvz or Pudendumfeminy, sometimes represented as the mountain of Venus (mons veneris). The former was a representation of the sun-god in his majesty and glory, the restorer of the powers of nature after the long sleep or death of winter; and the latter, a representation of the earth, who yields her fruit under the fertilizing power and warmth of the sun, and when placed upon the Tau, T, or Phallus, formed the "Crux Ansata," or conjunction of the sun and earth, male and female. The Phallus placed erect as a tree, cross, or pole, above a crescent or on a mons veneris, set forth "the marriage of heaven and earth;" and, in the form of a serpent, represented "life and healing," and was so worshipped by the Egyptians and Jews. The two emblems of the cross and serpent (the quiescent and energizing Phallus) are united in the brazen serpent of "the Pentateuch" The conjunction of the two sexual emblems was represented in the Temple by the circular altar of Baal-Peor, on which stood the "Ashera," and for which the Jewish women wove hangings; and under whose protective influence Jacob, on his journey to Laban, slept. It is innocently reproduced in our modern " May-pole," around which maidens dance, as maidens did of yore. The Catholic priest little dreams that he wears a Phallic vestment at Mass, for upon his vestment is the Crux Ansala (ansalus = handle), his head passing through the oval or yoni; the Tau, or cross, falling from the chest in front. The surplice, a figment of woman's dress, was used as a Phallic or Yonijic vestment.
The word Ashera (erroneously rendered, as we have seen, in the translation of the Authorized Version, and so admitted in the Revised Version), literally rendered, is pole, or stem of tree, Phallus, The Jewish women made silver and golden Phalli (Ezekiel xvi. 17). 'The "tree of the knowledge of good and evil," in Genesis, is the "tree of life," or "Phallic pole," denoting the knowledge which dawns on the mind with the first consciousness of the difference in the sexes. The symbol of life, in cuneiform writing, was the conjoined emblem -- the "Crux Ansata." Many of the Egyptian gods are represented with this cross hanging from the hand, which is passed through the oval. This is wrongly called a hey by Mr. Sharpe in his " Egyptian Mythology" (p. 54). It was customary to set up a stone, or "Hermes" (Hermes, or Mercury, was an ancient heathen deity, the symbol of Phallus), on the road-side, and each traveller as he passed paid his homage to the deity by either throwing a stone on the heap, or by anointing the upright stone with oil. Jacob "rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had for a pillow, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it." And there is scarcely a nation of antiquity which did not set up these stones, as emblems of the reproductive power of nature, and worship them. The custom is found among the ancient Druids of Britain. The Greek historian, Pausanias, says: "The Hermiac statue, which they Venerate in Cyllene above other symbols, is an erect Phallus on a pedestal."
In connection with Phallic worship arose the idea of offering the virginity of maidens to certain gods or goddesses. The Babylonian women were compelled to offer themselves once in their lifetime to the goddess Astarte, or Mylitta (the Assyrian for Venus). Sitting in the Temple, they waited till some passer-by of the opposite sex threw money into their laps, when they prostituted themselves "for the sake of Mylitta." No man was ever refused. Many women, not so inviting in appearance as others, would thus remain waiting for years their turn. A similar state of things, only worse, was reproduced among the Yezuans, or primitive Christians, at their "Agapai," or Love Feasts; the immoralities of which are supposed to have been the real cause of the so-called persecutions by the Roman emperors, under whom great freedom of religious opinion was permitted and enjoyed. The unnatural actions practised at these assemblies are mentioned by Eusebius (book vii., chap. xi.).
We now come to a later date -- the "Dark Ages" -- when the Christian Inquisition flourished, but a great deal of the details of which are little known, for so much secrecy was observed; but it may give some idea of the horrors of this institution if we state that, when the French took the city of Arragon, the Inquisition was broken into, and "no fewer than 400 prisoners were set at liberty, among whom were 60 young girls, who composed the Seraglio of the three principal Inquisitors." [Saladin, "Women," vol. II]
The account of how a young girl, to whom one of the Inquisitors had taken a fancy, was taken from her home in the dead of the night and handed over to the Inquisitors' officers by the terror-stricken father, is also graphically given in the same book.
"Let us look for a moment at the number of victims sacrificed on the altars of the Christian Moloch: -- 1,000,000 perished during the early Arian schism; 1,000,000 during the Carthaginian struggle; 7,000,000 during the Saracen slaughters. In Spain 5,000,000 perished during the eight Crusades; 2,000,000 of Saxons and Scandinavians lost their lives in opposing the introduction of the blessings of Christianity. 1,000,000 were destroyed in the Holy(?) Wars against the Netherlands, Albigenses, Waldenses, and Huguenots. 30,000,000 Mexicans and Peruvians were slaughtered ere they could be convinced of the beauties(?) of the Christian creed. 9,000,000 were burned for witchcraft. Total, 56,000,000.
"Or let us look at the matter in another light. Let us contemplate how the 'Holy Inquisition' treated their victims Men and women burned alive under the rule of the 45 Inquisitor- Generals, 35,534; burned in effigy, 18,637; condemned to other punishments, 293,533. Total sacrificed to maintain the blessings of Christianity, 347,704. In other words, these worthy followers of 'the Lamb,' the zealous imitators of him who 'came not to send peace, but a sword;' to 'send fire on the earth' and 'not peace, but rather division,' burned no less than 35,534 men and women ... Rapidly the Christian priesthood converted the convents into brothels; and, not content with debauching the 'brides of Christ,' they converted into harlots the wives of men; and, by means of the machinery of the confessional, they destroyed the chastity of the wives of the laity, and rendered all marriage simply poly-androus ... The priests had harlots, concubines, and mistresses in every town; and the Church, recognizing these illicit connections, allowed the bishops to extract money from the priests in the shape of a tax on their concubines." [H. Middleton.] Even the mild Erasmus declared that the licentiousness of the "clergy has debauched and turned into poor profligates 100,000 women in England ... Yet who is he, though he be never so much aggrieved, who dare lay to their charge, by any action at law, even the leading astray of a wife or a daughter? ... If he do, he is by-and-bye accused of heresy." [Saladin's citation of Erasmus in "The Confessional."]
During this period also occurred the crusades against the Albigenses for heresy, wherein some hundreds of thousands were killed on both sides; the crusades against the Waldenses for rejecting the Papal claims and denouncing the ignorance and corruption of the clergy, wherein an enormous number were tortured and massacred; the eight wars against the Huguenots, and the well- known massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day, in which 30,000 were slaughtered -- a 'Te Deum' being afterwards sung at St. Peter's, Rome, and a year of jubilee proclaimed in honor of it. This period of history, when the Church of Jesus was enjoying its triumphant ascendancy, has been described by a writer as being "one of the most terrible periods in human history ... and the soil of Europe was sodden with human gore, and that chiefly by the Western or Roman Catholic Church. [W. Oxley.]
To come to a later period. Under the Catholic Mary Tudor, 277 persons were burned as heretics, among whom were five bishops, twenty-one clergymen, eight lay gentlemen, eighty-four tradesmen, one hundred husbandmen, servants, and laborers; fifty-five women, and four children; besides many who were punished by imprisonment, fines, and confiscations. Under Protestant Elizabeth -- the "bright and occidental star" of the translators of King James's Bible [Vide "Dedicatory Epistle."] -- more than 200 persons were destroyed, either by burning or hanging, drawing (disembowelling), and quartering; and a great number suffered from the penal laws against Catholics in this and the following reigns.
All this slaughter for the "greater glory of God"! Here, then, we have a record of the fruits of Christianism! Under the influence of this religion, through nineteen centuries, do we find that man is more honest and straight towards his fellow man; that truth is preferred to falsehood; that men love one another, and act unselfishly in their lives? Or do we find that they are hypocrites, adulterators of food, scampers of work and deceivers, worshippers of imaginary deities, instead of lovers of each other; preachers, but not doers?
As every man should be able to give a reason for the faith that is in him, which, as Huxley says, "is a fundamental axiom of modern science, as well as a maxim of great antiquity," some form of words, expressing concisely what man may have sufficient grounds for saying that he knows (as distinctive from a creed or belief), is necessary for the education of the young, and for inquiring adults; a form of words demonstrating those universal truths, discoveries of science, which may be held and taught as being in accordance with reason, and capable of demonstration; the mind being still free, open to conviction, and to further developments of science. As the Agnostic method or principle would limit us, if strictly adhered to, to absolute knowledge, the term Rationalism is preferred as being broader, and as admitting relative and deductive knowledge, and some freedom of belief; for there are many things which, although we may not be able to say that we know, yet that we might have good grounds for saying that we believed, and so convincing as to be accepted as deducible facts. These "will vary," said Huxley, "according to individual knowledge and capacity, and according to the general condition of science, for that which is unproven to-day may be proven to-morrow." Agnosticism may be said to be the method or principle upon which Rationalism works.
The aim of Rationalism is knowledge and truth -- discarding all supernatural revelation as superstition; morality -- as being necessary for the organization of social life, not for the sake of a reward hereafter; and universal happiness and prosperity -- not misery, wretchedness, and poverty to please an imaginary deity, the extent of whose pleasure is measured by the depth of misery into which the object of his supposed creation is thrown. Its guiding stars are love and sympathy. The Rationalist, having nothing to fear from the vengeance of a vindictive and jealous deity, can have no desire to be held in the esteem of his fellows as "god-fearing "or" religious," aspiring only to goodness and truth between man and man; knowing that happiness is the only good, that it is to be obtained now, in this world, and not sought for in an imaginary future, of which he has absolutely no knowledge. The term "religious" is a vague one, and with many is held as being synonymous with goodness. What is considered "religious" by one may be "irreligious" to another; the degree of religiousness being measured by the amount of outward support given to some particular form of theology; so that, to the adherents of a particular creed, one whose opinions would lead him to believe that all theological theories and systems are erroneous and misleading would be considered irreligious."
"A pow'r there is, unseen, though real,[Jenner G. Hillier.]
No faculty of man can sense;
Supreme, omnipotent, immense,
That none can know, but all must feel.
"In all we see around, behold!
"From humble zoophyte to man,
"Stupendous pow'r! majestic scheme!
RELIGION (re, back or together; ligo, to bind) is subjective, and is the feeling which has been evolved in man, as he acquired a knowledge of right and wrong, but has not necessarily any connection with the conception of a deity. It is the principle of, or motive for, morality. It is this feeling which prompts man to interest himself in the mysteries of phenomena and life, and by which many are led, instead of into the paths of science, into the realms of the supernatural, and into the hands of the theologian with his "inspired revelations."
THEOLOGY (theos, god; logos, discourse) is objective, and relates to ideas and conceptions which man entertains respecting the deity he has conceived in his mind, generally a manlike (anthropomorphic) being; and the system of dogmas built up around them, the adherence to which constitutes the sum of duty. The fear of, and reverence for, the deity thus acts as the principle of, or motive for, morality, in place of the pure and natural motive of social fellowship and co-operation -- human love and sympathy.
ECCLESIASTES or CLERICALISM is "the championship of a foregone conclusion as to the truth of a particular form of theology," [T.H. Huxley.] the non-acceptance of which -- notwithstanding the negative results of a strict scientific investigation of the evidence in its favor -- is believed to be morally wrong; thus forcing a despotic adherence to certain dogmatic principles and observances upon all.
An inference is a truth or proposition drawn from another which is admitted to be true; this is done by deduction (literally a taking from another), an act or method of drawing inferences from premises, a premise being a proposition laid down as the base of an argument. Chance exists only subjectively, for it is a word which expresses a state of our mind. When occurrences take place not anticipated by us, we attribute them to chance; but, had our knowledge been more extensive, they would have been certainties. What may appear chance to one may be a certainty to another whose knowledge is more advanced. There is no chance in nature, any more than there is chaos, Every occurrence that takes place is a certainty. It may appear to us a chance whether in the tossing of a coin it "turns up heads or tails;" but, had the movement of the coin been so slow that the eye could have followed every turn, we should have said "the turn up" was a certainty. But the change in our decision is a subjective one, and is due to the change that has taken place in our minds from ignorance to knowledge; not an objective one, due to any change in the coin. All nature acts in an invariable order and by an uniformity, which, in the order of cause and effect exhibited in a certain way under certain circumstances, will invariably manifest itself in the same way, so long as the conditions remain the same.
Luck and ill-luck, good and bad fortune, are events which are due to accidental circumstances, over which man has no control. Accident took the late Colonel North to a part of the world where existed nitrate fields; accident also rendered those nitrates at that time valuable; with the result that, seizing his opportunity, he developed them, and amassed a large fortune. Had accident taken him to a part of the world where there were no nitrate fields, the probability is he would not have amassed such a large fortune. These very accidents, however, are subject to natural law.
Belief is a decision formed on the support of some amount of evidence, though not sufficiently conclusive to constitute knowledge.
Faith is an assent of the mind to what is declared by another, supported on no evidence, or evidence so weak as to be unreliable. Faith in religion is not justified. The late T.H. Huxley said: "Skepticism is the highest of duties, and blind faith the one unpardonable sin." To reject the truths acquired by scientific research, proved by reason and experience to be true, is to be guilty of wilful ignorance. But there is no obligation on any one to believe anything on the mere word of another, without sufficient evidence forthcoming to support it; and to accept any statement, whether concerning religion or anything else, on blind faith is to be guilty of credulity. The confusion of the meaning of such words as knowledge, belief, and faith has led to very disastrous results; not only in social and domestic life, where serious injuries have been inflicted on individuals and their reputations, but in public life, where wholesale cruelty and persecution have taken place, and generally under the name of "religion." Dogmas concerning the unknowable have been forced upon people as truths, which were only pious beliefs. It is a universal law, and an Agnostic first principle, that we should accept no statement as true on the simple word of another, and without verification.
"The sun's heat is the source of the social forces; social forces are resolvable into mental forces, mental forces into vital forces, vital forces into physical forces, and physical forces into solar radiation. Without the sun's light and heat, neither an animal nor a vegetal could exist for a single moment. The power of the sun is responsible, not only for the growth of a plant and the temperature of a climate; not only for the fluctuations in the price of flower, and the ravages of a famine; but also for the rise of a new literature and the fall of an old dynasty. To the force of the sun we trace alike the force displayed by a running fox or by a rippling rivulet, the force which vibrates in a musical note, or in a yawning earthquake, and the force which moans in the wind or which crashes in the cataract." [A. Simmons, "First Principles."]
"This law of organic progress [evolution] is the law of all progress. Whether it be in the development of the earth, in the development of life upon its surface, in the development of society, of government, of manufactures, of commerce, of language, literature, science, art, this same evolution of the simple into the complex, through a process of continuous differentiation, holds throughout." [H. Spencer.]
"The principle which underlies all the evolutionary processes is the 'persistence of force.' It is by this that there is a tendency in every organism to maintain a balanced condition. To it may be traced the capacity possessed in a slight degree by individuals, and in a greater degree by species, of becoming adapted to new Circumstances. And not less does it afford a basis for the inference that there is a gradual advance towards harmony between man's mental nature and the conditions of his existence. After finding that from it are deducible the various characteristics of evolution, we finally draw from it a warrant for the belief that evolution can end only in the establishment of the greatest perfection and the most complete happiness." [A. Simmons.] Nature knows nothing of annihilation, and nothing of creation; all is evolution. "To some persons the foregoing formula will appear startling, if not utterly bewildering. The vulgar notion, that evolution is the passage of the quadruped into the biped -- that evolution begins with a monkey and ends with a man -- seems beneath notice, beneath contempt. Yet this notion is vaguely held by a considerable majority of the general public. That evolution is concerned with the development of the human race, whether from some lower tribe of mammalia or from forms lower still, is quite true. But this is an infinitesimal part of the great work of evolution." [A. Simmons.]
EVOLUTION OF THE INDIVIDUAL, -- "Every living thing is evolved from a particle or germ of matter, in which no trace of the distinctive characters of the adult form is discernible." And this takes place by epigenesis, which consists in the differentiation of the relatively homogeneous rudiment or germ into the parts and structure which are characteristic of the adult. "In all animals and plants above the lowest the germ is a nucleated cell, and the first step in the process of evolution is the division of this cell into two or more portions; the process of division is repeated until the body, from being uni-cellular, becomes multi-cellular. The single cell becomes a cell aggregate; and it is to the growth and metamorphosis of the cells of the cell aggregate thus produced that cell organs and tissues of the adult owe their origin. The cells from the cell aggregate or morula diverge from one another in such a manner as to give rise to a central space, around which they dispose themselves as a coat or envelope, and thus the morula becomes a vesicle filled with a fluid -- the planula. The wall of the planula is next pushed in on one side (invaginated), whereby it is converted into a double-walled sac with an opening, which leads into the cavity lined by the inner wall. This cavity is the primitive alimentary cavity. The inner, or invaginated, layer is the hypoblast; the outer, the epiblast; and the embryo in this stage is termed a gastrula. In all the higher animals a layer of cells makes its appearance between the hypoblast and the epiblast, and is termed the mesoblast. In the further development the epiblast becomes the ectoderm, or epidermic layer of the body (or skin); the hypoblast becomes the epithelium of the middle portion of the alimentary canal; and the mesoblast gives rise to all the other tissues except the central nervous system, which originates from an ingrowth of the epiblast. With regard to procreation, the female germ or ovum in all the higher animals and plants is a body which possesses the structure of a nucleated cell; impregnation consists in the fusion of the nucleus of the male cell or germ with the ovum; the structural components of the body of the embryo being derived by a process of division from the coalesced male and female germs; and it is probable that every part of the adult contains molecules both from the male and from the female parent." [T.H. Huxley, "Evolution in Biology."]
EVOLUTION OF SPECIES. -- The "Darwinian" theory, now universally accepted, is that "all organisms produce offspring, on the whole, like themselves, but exhibiting new and individual features. As the result of the severe struggle for existence, only a small percentage survive to become reproductive adults. The survivors are those whose variations enable them to gain some advantage over their fellows in the struggle for food, mates, and other conditions of well-being. A fit variation not only secures the survival of its possessors, but is transmitted from parents to offspring, and is intensified from generation to generation. By this process of 'natural selection' of advantageous variations, continued for generations, the modification of species has been effected." [J.A. Thomson, "Zoology."] The variations in species have assumed their present definite characters through long periods of time. Domesticated animals, having all the essential characters of new races, afford us good examples. These variations or changes may arise from sustained environment -- i.e., external influences and surroundings; from persistent change of function, as the result of use and disuse; or from various protoplasmic causes. The development of a new species is also intensified by sexual selection, in which choice exercises an improving influence in reproduction, thus tending to transmit certain qualities; and, by sustained isolation, preventing by geographical separation, intercrossing. It may thus be easily seen how man, by cultivating his good faculties, and restraining and subduing his bad ones, can improve the mental and moral qualities of his children; and, if these qualities are perpetuated through subsequent generations, improvement is effected in the race.
During the PLUTONIC period of the earth's history no life could exist. but during the following period -- the LAURENTIAN -- when the earth had become sufficiently cooled to sustain life, a tiny atom of protoplasm was evolved; later was developed, as we have seen, a central nucleus (aytivla); then masses of these nucleated cells (synamaebae); then the cells became ciliated, forming ciliae; then, a number of these cells assuming a horse-shoe shape, a rudimentary mouth was formed; then an alimentary canal was developed in the same manner, evolving a low form of worm. In the next period -- the SILURIAN -- we find rudimentary spinal cords and vertebra, developing; then heads, hearts, and single nasal cavities. In the next -- the DEVONIAN period -- we find double nostrils developed, also fins and jaws, gills and lungs. Hitherto all life has been "aquatic." Now we come to the period of "air- breathers," the first of which were double-breathers, in both water and air -- mud fishes. In the next -- the CARBONIFEROUS -- we find tails and legs, and reptiles evolved, and from the latter complete "air-breathers" -- birds. Then the enormous class of mammals. In the next two periods -- the TRIASSIC and JURASSIC -- we find a further development of mammals with marsupial bones. In the next -- the EOCENE -- brain convolutions and placentals evolved; hoofed animals, beasts of proy, water and air quadrupeds with claws, etc. In the next -- the MIOCENE -- we find the order of Primates being evolved, from which lemurs, New World monkeys, Old World apes, and man have been evolved; all being of common mammalian descent.
Man, representing the highest development of animal life, was in Tertiary times a tree-dweller; later, a cave-dweller; and, later still, a lake-dweller. Apes of the Old World came next, being the highest of their class, and the nearest approach to man and, from their many resemblances to the latter, called "Anthropoids." They include gibbons, orangs, chimpanzees, and gorillas; all being without tails and cheek pouches, and having teeth and catarhine nostrils, like man. Man and the anthropoid ape are similar in structure, bodily life, gesture, and expression, and both are subject to the same diseases, form distinct societies, and combine for protection; combination favoring the development of emotional and intellectual strength. Where man differs from the ape is in the fact that he has a heavier brain and a broader forehead, and possesses the power of building up ideas; he is more erect, and has a more perfectly-developed vocal mechanism, a better heel, and a shorter arm. His prolonged infancy helped to evolve gentleness, as the habit of using sticks and stones, and of building shelters, evolved intelligence. Man and the anthropoid, therefore, branched off in different directions, from a common ancestor, through many centuries of evolution and development; the gap between civilized and savage man being greater than that between the savage and the anthropoid ape.
We must bear in mind that between the various periods just mentioned, thousands and perhaps millions of years elapsed, so that the evolution of the different species was a very gradual process, and did not take place in the rapid manner in which man has, by artificial selection and isolation, evolved the carrier-pigeon, the race-horse, and the various kinds of dogs; many thousands of years doubtless elapsing before mammals were evolved from previously existing animals, and placentals from them. But "it does not follow that evolution and civilization are always on the move, or that their movements are always progressive on the contrary, history teaches that they may remain stationary for long periods," [E.B. Taylor, "Anthropology."] devolution or falling back sometimes occurring. Examples of the degeneration of species are the modern Portuguese of the East Indies, the Digger Indians of the Rocky Mountains, and the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, and Chaldeans, whose monuments and inscriptions show how ancient and how high was their civilization. And all countries do not progress in the same ratio of civilization. It is related that Captain Cook, on visiting the South Sea Islanders, found them using only stone hatchets and knives, showing that they had not progressed beyond the stone age.
We have seen man gradually emerging from the primitive condition of Tertiary times as tree-dweller, cave-dweller, and lake-dweller; using stone implements with which to protect himself and obtain food in the old Stone Age (the Paleolithic), and flint implements in the new Stone Age (the Neolithic); and we have seen his evolution from the man-like ape to the ape-like man (the Alali of Haeckel), and from ape-like man to savage man (Homo ferox); from savage man to semi-civilized man (Homo semi-ferox) of the Neolithic period; and to civilized man (Homo cultus) of the Bronze Age; reaching, eventually, by his higher development of brain, to the highest position of animal (Homo sapiens), of the Iron Age. When in his hybrid condition, he possessed a long head (dolichocephalic), small, ill-developed brain, prognathous jaws, and prominent orbital ridges; was of medium stature, and had great thickness of bones, denoting great muscular strength. From this condition he gradually acquired a round (mesocephalic) head, well developed brain, a less protrusive chin and mouth, and arms shorter than legs. He has a bigger forehead, smaller cheek-bones, and supra-orbital ridges, a true chin, and more uniform teeth, with less conspicuous canines than apes. Man alone, after his infancy is past, walks thoroughly upright. Though his head is weighted by a heavy brain, it does not droop forward, and it is probably to this fact that his perfect development of vocal mechanism is due. The ape is subject, as we have seen, to similar diseases as man various traits of gesture, expression, etc., are similar in both and both are liable to reversions and monstrosities. But, man being so far superior in many ways to any species below him in animal life, probably due to his higher development of vocal power, the idea would naturally suggest itself to him in his early state of civilization that he was too perfect a piece of mechanism to have been evolved from a lower species; and he would, consequently, build up stories of his instantaneous creation, which resulted in the Genesis fable, and which have been perpetuated by the subsequent theologies. But we must not imagine that man is a later development of the ape, for it is clearly demonstrated that man could not have been evolved from any known anthropoid ape; but it is probable that he arose from an ancestral stock common to both (Alali) of the order of Primates, when the anthropoid apes were known to have existed as a distinct race, which takes us back to the Miocene age. In the struggle of primitive man intelligence was of more use than strength. "When the habits of using sticks and stones, of building shelters, and of living in families began -- and they have already began among apes -- it is likely that wits would grow rapidly. The prolonged infancy characteristic of the human offspring would help to evolve gentleness. But even more important is the fact that among apes there are distinct societies. Families combine for protection -- the combination favors the development of emotional and intellectual strength." [J.A. Thomson, "Zoology."] Man did not make society, society made man. All repugnance to the doctrine of descent, as applied to man, should disappear when we clearly realize the great axiom of evolution, that "there is nothing in the end which was not also in the beginning."
Primitive man is believed to have been evolved in the submerged continent of Lemuria, which was supposed to have existed where the Indian Ocean now is, and to have joined Africa and the island of Madagascar to the continent of Arabia and Hindostan. The heads of the early ape-like men were of the same character as those of the chimpanzee and gorilla -- dolichocephalic and prognathous, and they were, like apes, cave-dwellers (troglodytes). In the limestone caverns of France have been discovered the fossil remains of men who inhabited caves and belonged to the Paleolithic or Pleistocene period. [J.A. Thompson, "Zoology."] Rough, unpolished stone implements and weapons were found with them. In the strata of a later period have been found stone implements of a lighter make and better finish; also spear-points made of horn, probably for killing game, and skin-scrapers, probably for preparing skins for clothing; for, with the development and civilization of man as a cave-dweller, a finer and less heavy skin would naturally be gradually developed, thus necessitating clothing in the case of those who had wandered away from tropical regions into colder ones.
In the strata of a still later period than the paleolithic, admirably proportioned lancer-shaped implements of flint have been found, suitable for arrows, javelins, and lances. And, later still, arrows, darts of deer's horn, and bone appear; also stone and flint tools, evidently used for making the above, But not one polished implement or fragment of pottery has been found within that period. "The mammoth still tenanted the valleys, and the reindeer was the common article of food; they (paleolithic man) were hunters and possessors of the rudest modes of existence, and with but little of what is now called civilization." [S. Laing, "Human Origans."]
In Kent's cavern, near Torquay, in England, has been found the fossil of a human jaw buried in stalagmite, containing four teeth. This was found lying in the strata of the paleolithic age, below remains of extinct animals; while below all were bone and stone (unpolished) implements of human workmanship. In the cave of Engis, in the valley of the Meuse, has been found part of a skull of a man of low degree of civilization, and of limited intellectual faculties. And in the cave of Neanderthal, in Belgium, a skeleton was found which has attracted much attention by its singularly brutal appearance; and appears to be the nearest approach yet found to the missing link between man and the anthropoid ape. The cranium is human, but the super-orbital ridges are thick, prominent, and ape-like. A human skull has also been found beneath four different layers of forest-growth, dating at least 50,000 years ago.
In the neolithic or new stone age the implements and weapons of man which have been discovered are polished; pottery has been found, and evidences of the use of fire, showing that man was gradually adopting some form of social life. In this age are found lake dwellings, which would lead us to infer that his intellect was not sufficiently developed to enable him to protect himself from the invasion of wild animals in a simpler manner.
It is not surprising that so few specimens of primeval human remains have been discovered, when we consider the enormous lapse of time through which the evolution of man has proceeded, and the natural tendency to the extinction of the various grades of life between them, by the irresistible pressure of civilized man. The Caribs of Tasmania have, for instance, become extinct; while Australians, New Zealanders, aboriginal Americans, Eskimos, and others, are also becoming extinct. A far greater physical and mental interval is found to exist between a Hottentot -- whose language consists of a series of clicks -- or a hairy Ainu of Yesso, who are described as being "hardly above wild beasts," and a cultivated European, than exists between the Hottentot or the Ainu and the anthropoid ape.
Man is now classed in the sub-class Anthropoidea, of the order of mammalia, which consists of New World platyrhines (monkeys), Old World catarhines (apes and baboons), and man. Primitive man separated into two families: 1. The woolly-haired, all dolichocephalic, migrated west and south, and evolved the Papuans of New Guinea and Tasmania; (1) the Hottentots of South Africa, who even now differ but little from the anthropoid apes, having dark yellow hairy skins, long thin arms, short ill-developed legs, and largely-developed buttocks; are semi-erect, and have inarticulate, clicking speech (2) the negro of higher development than the Hottentot; and (3) the Caffre of higher development again than the negro, but having imperfect speech. All are savages. II. The straight-haired; migrated south and east, and evolved; (i) the Australians, dolicliocephalic and prognathous with smooth dark brown skins, but articulate speech. These gradually separated into (2) Mongolian or Turanian, and (3) Caucasian or Iranian. The Mongolians occupied the North and East of Asia, Polynesia, and America; were brachycephalic (broad-headed) and prognathous. These subdivided into Mongols of China, Japan, Lapland, Finland, Hungary, and the Malays or Dyaks of Borneo, with smooth, brownish yellow skins, and the Mongols of America, with smooth red skins -- both classes remained brachycephalic, but lost the prognathous character. The Caucasian occupied Western Asia and most of Europe, were mesocephalic (medium length of skull), prognathous, and cave- dwellers, becoming subsequently agriculturalists with smooth dark skins. These subdivided into the Senates of Arabia and Syria, and the Aryan or Indo-European, both being mesocephalic, but not prognathous.
Morality has been patronized by theology to such an extent, adopted by it as its own offspring, and imposed upon the public as such, that people have come to think that morality cannot exist without theology, and are unable to understand any severance between them taking place, without the annihilation of the former. This is a mistaken notion, fostered by theological exponents for their own interests. Morality is not dependent upon theology in any of its many forms for its existence, and probably existed for centuries before the idea of a personal God took possession of the mind of man -- in fact, when community life first commenced. Theology is a comparatively modern abnormal excrescence upon morality, and has substituted an evil motive for a good one, a selfish one for an unselfish one -- the fear of displeasing an arbitrary, capricious, and despotic deity, with the accompanying loss of the promised reward -- instead of the good of our fellows and of the community at large; virtue consisting in being ready to do violence to feelings and reason with child-like submission, to please the deity and satisfy his mere will; vice being estimated by the extent of the opposition to the will of the deity, and of the anger aroused in him; proportionate punishment in a future world acting as a restraint to human conduct, instead of the punishments of this world.
Now, true morality -- i.e., the morality the outcome of human love and sympathy, which are the bases of co-operation -- will be seen to be of a much higher and purer form, for it is the product of unselfishness and the feeling of "goodwill towards others," "doing as you would be done by," with the only reward of reciprocated love and regard of our fellows in this world; doing right because it is right, and avoiding evil because it is evil. Virtue is not limited to merely abstaining from the healthy exercise of those natural functions of the body which the various theologies appear to lay so much stress upon, the desire to satisfy which is inherent in, and part of, the nature of all animal and vegetal life; and the repression of which in human life, to satisfy the arbitrary will of an imaginary deity, is both physically and morally injurious, and productive of disease -- but is general moral goodness. The good feeling in man, together with State legislation, are quite sufficient to restrain and control human conduct and actions, and to act as a protection to marital and other rights.
The regard for goodness is increased and intensified by practice and education -- not mere book education, but the acquisition of general knowledge; for it is by this and the exercise of reason and moral judgment that we know right from wrong; that we know that "what a man sows, that will he reap: if he sows good, he will reap pleasure; and if he sows evil, he will reap pain." By intensifying the habit of choosing the one and avoiding the other, man ennobles himself and his human nature; the knowledge of having faithfully accomplished which, in life, enables him to satisfy his conscience, that, when his time arrives, he may be able to meet death with that fearless composure and fortitude which is the inheritance of all who through life have lived truly and loved their fellow men.
MATTER, the ultimate nature of which is unknown, comprises all substances that occupy space and affect the senses, is a fixed quantity, indestructible and eternal. It is manifest in three states -- solid, liquid, and gaseous. The smallest and indivisible particles of matter are called atoms or chemical units; these, in combination and forming the smallest compound bodies, are called molecules or mechanical units. Matter may be visible and ponderable like the stars and other bodies distributed throughout space, or invisible and imponderable as the ether which fills the intervals between the particles and the space in which the bodies are distributed.
MOTION is matter in the act of changing place through space and time; it is produced or destroyed, quickened or retarded, increased or lessened, by two indestructible powers of opposite nature -- Force and Energy, both derived from the sun's heat.
FORCE, the attracting power, is inherent in, and can never be taken from, the ponderable matter, every atom possessing the tendency to attract other atoms, or resist any separating power. When it attracts atoms it is called chemical affinity, when molecules -- cohesion, and when masses -- gravitation. Force is constant, and its several qualities are grouped under one doctrine called "the Persistence of Force."
ENERGY, the repelling, separating, or pushing power, is also a fixed quantity, but is not bound up with matter, but can be transferred from atom to atom, or from mass to mass, and stored up. It may be Passive or potential, like that existing in gunpowder when quiescent; or active or kinetic, like that existing in the same during the act of explosion. The qualities of convertibility and indestructibility constitute the doctrine of "Conservation of Energy."
"We think in relations ... relation is the universal form of thought ... Relations are of two orders -- those of sequence and those of coexistence ... The abstract of all sequences is time, and that of all co-existences is space. Time is inseparable from sequence, and space from co-existence." [H. Spencer.]
SPACE is the interval between objects. "We know space as an ability to contain bodies." It is extension considered in its own nature, without regard to anything it may contain, or that may be external to it. It always remains the same, is infinite, and is incapable of resistance or motion.
TIME is the measure of duration, and the general idea of successive existence. It may be absolute or relative. Absolute time is considered without any relation to bodies or their motions. Relative time is the sensible measure of any portion of duration, often marked by particular phenomena. Time is measured by equable motion. We judge those times to be equal which pass while a moving body, proceeding with a uniform motion, passes over equal spaces.
As matter is indestructible and eternal, so nothing is created; everything has been evolved from something else existing before. The universe is supposed to have been evolved from a cosmic nebulous matter or dust, of tremendous extent, within the atoms of which existed the power to evolve all that now is -- sun, moons, planets, etc., our earth, and all that is thereon -- seas, mountains, animal and vegetal life, and eventually man, although millions of years passed before man was evolved from the lowest form of animal life. The force inherent in each atom of this dust combined the atoms into molecules, by cohesive power united molecules into masses; and by gravitation these masses revolved round their several centers of gravity, and thus formed suns and various other planetary bodies. As the atoms rushed together, rotatory and orbital motion was produced, and a vibratory motion, which became converted into the radiant energy of heat and light. As contraction went on, portions of our sun became detached from the bulging equator, and, flying off into space, gradually, by the attraction of force, formed compact bodies, becoming independent planets, one of which is our earth. The moon is supposed to have been detached from our earth in a similar manner. It is estimated that it is a hundred million years since the earth sufficiently solidified and cooled to support vegetable and animal life. Sir W. Herschell has discovered, by the telescope, worlds and systems in the course of present formation, as described above.
THE ATMOSPHERE in which we live is composed chiefly of the uncombined elements of oxygen and nitrogen water being composed of oxygen and hydrogen in combination. It is supposed to reach to from forty-five to fifty miles, the exact distance being uncertain. It is difficult to conceive, with the above knowledge, where Jesus could have ascended to, what planet he visited, or how he could have resisted the law of gravitation; it is for Christians to explain these matters.
THE CRUST OF THE EARTH consists of rock -- hard granite, loose sand, ore veined with metal, and mud -- unstratified and stratified. The unstratified, igneous, or plutonic rocks are those which are nearest the center of the earth, and which have been fused together by heat, or erupted from the interior by means of volcanic agency. The stratified, aqueous, or neptunic rocks are those which have been deposited as sediment by the action of water or atmosphere; or which are due to the growth and decay of plants and animals. The various strata of these have been divided, for convenience, into epochs, periods, ages, etc., each having its typical remains associated with it; and it is from the discoveries of these that the age and origin of man have been estimated. Where these stratified rocks are found to have become changed into a crystallized state by the action of heat and pressure, resulting in the efficenient of their original character, and in the destruction of traces of any organic (plant or animal) remains in them, they are called metamorphic. Occasional volcanic outbursts and earthquakes show us that the original store of energy which the earth acquired during the aggregation of the particles of which it is built up, in their passage from a diffused nebulous (cloudy) state to one of increasing density, under the action of the force of gravitation, is not yet lost; and the escape of that energy, through the crust of the ethereal medium, is continued, and its final dissipation into space is, therefore, only a question of time.
GEOLOGICAL EPOCHS, PERIODS, etc., during which the stratified rocks were deposited: --
The Primary Epoch: -- Plutonic period ... Conflict of inorganic forces. No life. Laurentian period ... Monerae, then Amoebae. Cambrian period ... Sponges, shell fish. Silurian period ... Fishes, sea worms. Devonian period ... Insect feeders and air breathers. Carborliferous period ... Frogs, crocodiles, beetles. Permian period ... Reptiles. The Secondary Epoch : -- Triassic period ... Pouched mammals. Jurassic period ... Huge reptiles of sea, land, air, and birds. Cretaceous period ... Bony skeletoned fishes; Ammonites. The Tertiary Epoch: -- Eocene period ... Huge placental mammals, and probably man. Miocene period ... Hoofed quadrupeds, anthropoid apes. Pliocene period ... Bears, hyenas. The Quaternary Epoch: -- Glacial period, or Ice Age ... Positive age of (hybrid) man. Paleolithic period ... Stone Age Savage man. Neolithic period ... Stone Age Semi-civilized man. Recent Bronze Age ... Civilized man. Recent Iron Age ... Civilized man. The Present Epoch (Historic Era): -- Superstitious period or Theological Age. Scientific period.The Tertiary epoch is dated at not less than 5,000,000 years ago, and the Quaternary at not less than 1,000,000 years ago.
THE SUN consists of a nucleus of burning gaseous matter, surrounded by envelopes called the Photosphere and the Chromosphere, outside which is the mysterious corona "whose delicate silver radiance forms the glorious nimbus of a total eclipse." Being the nearest star to the earth, it radiates light, heat, and energy to our planet. It revolves on its own axis in space, which inclines towards the point of the zodiac occupied by the earth in, September. It does not occupy the center of the ellipse described by the earth, but one of the foci, being nearer to the earth in winter than in summer. Its diameter is estimated as being one hundred times larger than the earth, though it is by no means the largest of the stars, and its distance from our earth is estimated at 91 million miles.
THE PLANETS are more or less burnt-out bodies revolving round the sun in nearly circular orbits. Some, like our Earth and Mars, have cooled down sufficiently to be covered by a hard crust and to be fit abodes for living creatures. others, like Jupiter, are still in a more or less heated and partly self-luminous condition. But the majority of the planets are cold and non-luminous, like our airless, silent, barren moon; and what light they give is reflected.
THE MOONS have no atmospheres, and accompany their several planets in their revolutions round the sun. Our moon or satellite makes one half of its journey round the earth, above the plane of the ecliptic and the other below, the whole occupying 29 1/2 days. Its distance from us is estimated at about 240 thousand miles.
THE STARS are white hot, luminous bodies; the nearest one is more than 19 thousand million miles away, and the more distant ones so far off that light, which travels at the rate of 186 thousand miles in a second of time, requires 50 thousand years to dart from the stars to the eyes of man.
THE SEASONS. -- During that part of the elliptical journey of the earth round the sun when the axis of the earth inclines away from the sun, winter commences (the solstice or standing still); when its axis inclines towards the sun, at the other end of the journey, summer commences; when the earth arrives (roughly) half- way between these two points, on either side, spring and autumn (the equinoxes, equal day and night) commence respectively, these being the nearest distances, in the plane of the ecliptic between the earth and the sun. Spring commences at the vernal equinox (the commencement of the annual cycle of the ancient zodiac), when the sun appears to enter that constellation of the zodiac called "Aries" (March 21st). Summer commences at the summer solstice, when the sun appears to enter "Cancer," the longest day, June 21St. Autumn commences at the autumnal equinox, when the sun appears to enter "Libra" (September 23rd). Winter commences at the winter solstice, when the sun appears to enter "Capricorns," the shortest day, December 21St.
The Ram, the Bull, the Heavenly Twins,The equinoxial points (Aries and Libra) moved fifty degrees westward every year; thus the signs became separated from their corresponding constellations, the vernal equinoxial sign being the first in the time of Hipparchus (2nd century B.C.). In 25,868 years all the signs would have made a complete circuit. The groups of stars in the different signs or constellations were named after some fancied resemblance to animals or other objects of nature. And the sun, in his supposed annual passage through the twelve signs, was worshipped in his different forms. The Lion represented the sun when at his fierce summer strength; the Balance, when the days and nights are equal; the Water-pourer, the commencement of the Monsoon, or period of torrential rain; and so on. The ancient zodiac was arranged on the theory that the earth was flat and immovable, and that the sun made an annual circuit round it.
And next the Crab the Lion shines,
The Virgin and the Scales,
The Scorpion, Archer, and He-goat,
The Man that bears the watering-pot,
And Fish with glittering tails.
Duty may be civil and compulsory, or moral and voluntary. The former is an obligation to comply with the statutory law of the country, the failure to comply with which is more or less penal. The latter is the outcome of a natural desire to do right, because it is right, and to comply with the usages of society (in its broad and general sense) and the conventionalities of life. The moral duty of the theologian or religionist differs both in motive and in scope from the rewardless duty of free men -- i.e., men free from the trammels of theology, as above described. The extra duties which the theologian recognizes, by virtue of his creed, are prescribed by the dogmas of theology, and supposed to be related to a deity or deities; the violation of these duties being called "sin." The motive is one of fear, lest he should arouse, by his neglect of duty, the anger of his deity, and so feel the force of his vengeance after death in the fires of hell; or hope, if he pleases his deity, of gaining the reward of heaven. The free man has no fear of future punishment, nor hope of any reward, to act as a stimulus to good conduct, beyond that of this world -- viz., a good conscience. His morality is, therefore, of purer order. He knows that, as he sows, so will be reap; that, by living his life here on earth in sympathy with his fellows, doing his duty to the best of his knowledge and ability, and producing happiness for those around him, he is ennobling that body with which his life is bound up, and is thus perfecting his human nature.
Faults, misconduct, or wrong-doing may be of omission (neglect of duty) or commission (actions), and may be (1) against the written laws of the State, consisting of various legal distinctions and technical terms, such as "misdemeanor," "felony," "larceny" (theft), "crime," etc., being more or less penal, i.e., punishable by the State; and (2) against the unwritten law of social life which concerns conduct, manners, customs, etc., which are found by experience to be necessary and good. The latter are voluntary, and are dependent upon man's conscience or knowledge of right and wrong, and may consist of faults against society (in its broad sense) -- i.e., his fellow men, and faults against himself.
We must bear in mind that, though many faults against society are not penal -- i.e., punishable by any recognized system or code -- yet there are punishments which during life follow wrong-doing; for if we sow evil we shall sooner or later reap evil, and if we sow good we shall reap good. The consciousness of having done wrong, and the remorse which follows it, will haunt the mind in its quiet moments. Good men and women aspire after good, some with better results than others. Knowing the frailty of our natures, never let it be said that the stronger and more resolute, and, therefore, the more successful in avoiding evil, has cast a stone, as it were, at the weaker.
Maxim 3 induces us: To avoid all pretence in life, deceptions in business, and adulteration of food and drink.
Maxim 5 induces us: To practice reasonable economy of resources, by avoiding excess or undue expenditure of goods, substance, or vital force; to be cleanly in habits and person.
Maxim 7 induces us: To exercise, and so strengthen, the faculties in man that are social and sympathetic: and to leave unexercised, and so weaken, those faculties the functions of which are adverse to social life.
Maxim 8 induces us: To help in the enforcement of the just laws of our country, which are necessary for the protection of rights, and for the proper conduct and well-being of the community; to assist in obtaining the repeal of partial and unjust laws, instituted in the interests of faction or party, and against civil and religious liberty.
MAXIMS FOR PARENTS
MAXIMS FOR CHILDREN
VERSES FOR CHILDREN
Little drops of water,--E.C. Brewer.
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
And the pleasant land.
Thus the little moments,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ocean
Thus our little errors
Make a mighty sin:
Drop by drop the evil
Floods the heart within.
Little drops of kindness,
Little words of love,
Make the earth an Eden
Like a heaven of love.
Ne'er suffer thine eyes to close--Adopted from Pythagoras.
Before thy mind hath run
O'er every act and thought and word,
From dawn to set of sun.
For wrong take shame, but grateful feel
If just thy course hath been;
Such efforts made each day by day
Will ward thyself from sin.
May duty be my guide to-day,--Gustav Spiller
May love and truth illume the way,
May nothing warp or stain the soul,
May noble aims the will control.
Wound not another, though by him provoked;--By an Indian writer, Manu, six centuries B.C.
Do no one injury by thought or deed;
Utter no word to pain thy fellow creatures.
Treat no one with disdain; with patience bear
Reviling language; with an angry man
Be never angry; blessings give for curses.
E'en as a driver checks his restive steeds,
Do thou, if thou art wise, restrain thy passions,
Which, running wild, will hurry thee away.
GRACE is a short prayer used by Christians before and after meals. The word is derived from the Latin "gratis," favor. All foods, as well as other necessaries of life, are supposed by them (but really believed by few) to be provided by favor of the deity. But had not human hands or brains been brought to bear upon the Christian meal, we may accept it as a moral certainty that no meal would have been provided. The Rationalist, knowing full well that his meals and everything he possesses depend either upon his own exertions or upon other mundane circumstances, sees no necessity to thank anyone, especially some invisible entity of which he knows nothing, for what he has himself provided. It is customary, however, at public dinners to offer some congratulation to those present before enjoying the meal. The Rationalist may find the following useful, in the event of a grace being called for: -- "May good digestion wait on appetite, and health on both." If a clergyman be present, it is an act of courtesy to offer him an opportunity of saying a "grace," on the principle that everyone has the right of his opinion; and it by no means follows that all present are in agreement with those opinions. By thus respecting the opinion of others, we are carrying out the true spirit of freedom of thought. The clergyman of a State Church generally takes precedence of those of the free denominations, but only as an act of courtesy, he being an official in the ecclesiastical department of the State. A Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church usually takes precedence over all other clergy. Why???
THE UNION OF ETHICAL SOCIETIES (Hon. Sec., Miss Zona Vallance, The Deanery, Stratford, Essex.) -- These consist of the following:
Ethical Societies. Place of Afeering. THE NORTH LONDON THE SOUTH LONDON Surrey Masonic Hall, Camberwell New Road, S.E. THE EAST LONDON ... 78, Libra Road, Roman Road, E. THE WEST LONDON ...Town Hall, High Street, Kensington. Leighton House, 9, Leighton Crescent, N.W. THE PROVINCIAL COR- Mr. F. J. Gould, RESPONDENCE COM- 12, Meynell Road, MITTEE Hackney Common, N.E.The general aims of the Ethical Movement, as represented by this federation, are: --
THE RATIONALIST PRESS COMMITTEE has its headquarters at 17, Johnson's Court, Fleet Street, London, E.C. Its objects are:
EASTER commemorates the vernal equinox, when the sun crosses the equator, and the days become longer than the nights, and daily increase in length; also the return of verdure, and the bursting forth of the seed. It is, by arrangement, the first Sunday after the full moon, which happens upon, or next after, March 21st; and if the moon is at full on a Sunday, Easter day is the Sunday after.
MAYDAY commemorates nature's profusion of flowers and blossom, which has from early times found expression in dance and song, and which instinctively excites feelings of gladness and delight. In Rome the goddess Flora was specially venerated at this season, which custom has its modern representation in "the May Queen."
WHIT MONDAY. -- The Monday after Pentecost, which is seven weeks after Easter, So-called from the white garments worn by the newly-baptized Catechumens in the Christian Church, which rite took place on the vigil of Pentecost. The holiday has outlived the religious association out of which it originated. Pentecost was a Jewish feast, held on the fiftieth day after the Passover, in celebration of their "Ingathering," and in thanksgiving for their harvest. The Christian Church adopted it from the Jews, and celebrated the supposed descent of the "Holy Ghost," one of the gods of the Trinity, on the Yezuan apostles.
MIDSUMMER DAY (June 24th) commemorates the event of the sun having attained his highest point in the heavens, and our northern hemisphere being under the influence of the greatest effulgence of his rays.
LAMMAS MONDAY, or HARVEST FESTIVAL, is the first Monday after "Lammas Day" (August 1st), and is kept as a holiday or "festival of the ingathering." It derives its name of Lammas from a superstitious offering in early times of the first fruits of the harvest to the various deities.
CHRISTMAS DAY commemorates the birthday of the new sun -- when the sun, after descending to its lowest point in the heavens, and after our northern hemisphere has been travelling away from the sun and getting less of his rays daily, commences his return journey, and daily rises higher in the heavens. It is also the birthday of all the messiahs of the various revealed religions.
BANK HOLIDAYS -- ENGLAND AND WALES: Good Friday, Whitsun Monday, Lammas Monday, Christmas Day, and the day following; or, if that day be Sunday, then Monday. The Stock Exchange have, in addition to the above, May Day and November 1st. SCOTLAND: New Year's Day, Good Friday, the first Mondays in May and August, and Christmas; Day.
It is the duty of parents to exercise every precaution in their power against increasing their families beyond what the means at their disposal justify. Parents living in a civilized society are not justified in recklessly giving birth to children whom they have no adequate means of nourishing, clothing, and educating, and who must either starve or be reared by the kindness and charity of others. Such a state of things is demoralizing to the parents as well as to the offspring. The over-population of the future is a terrible thing to contemplate, but come it must if Christianism is to continue to teach people that it is a blessed thing for a man to "have his quiver full," which, taken literally, might have been true; but, when misapplied, is about as wise as the recommendation to neglect provision, and neither "toil nor spin," like the "lilies of the field." Vegetable life is subject to the check of animal life; the latter, more or less, preying upon the former. Man, by his intellectual superiority, adopts artificial means to keep the lower animal life down and prevent over-production; but he himself has only his own carefulness to rely upon. Disease, famine, and war have acted in former days as exterminators, and so kept population down; but, as knowledge increases, disease is reduced or prevented, famine is guarded against, and wars are avoided by the skill and prudence of statesmen, a greater number live to struggle for existence. The question of over-population is, therefore, of importance; it concerns every parent, and its consideration is becoming more pressing every year. "Population, when unchecked, doubles itself every twenty-five years but the food to support the increase will by no means be obtained with the same facility." [T.R. Malthus.] At this rate, in a few thousand years, there will literally not be standing-room for man's progeny." [Charles Darwin.] In the United States the population has increased four times in the two first periods of twenty-five years of this century.
It is also the duty of those contemplating marriage to make their choice from families only of a high type, physical, mental, and moral; and to avoid matrimonial alliance with those families whose members manifest a strumous (consumptive, rickety) or cancerous tendency. By the exercise of care in this matter greater happiness is promoted in the family circle, and the human species has a better chance of improvement and higher development.
Early marriage should be encouraged to prevent prostitution, and to afford opportunity to all, at a suitable age, of complying with the demands of nature, which are more or less imperative all through life, from the lowest form of organization to the highest. Celibacy opposes itself directly to these natural laws, and the boasted self-restraint of the celibate is frequently only surface- deep, the solitude of the religious recluse fostering secret and unnatural vices; and where it is deeper and real, it is so generally at the expense of health and constitution. Young men, with few exceptions, have a craving for female society, which is part of their human nature; and many might be able to support a wife in comparative comfort, and thus enjoy the companionship which is their right, though, perhaps, not in a position to endure the expenses necessarily attending the acquisition of such a family as is the general result of a careless and thoughtless married life. Through want of knowledge as to how to comply with the requirements of the matrimonial state and practice thrift and economy, they are compelled either to forego marriage altogether, or defer it till their youth and vigor are gone. They are thus turned, as it were, into the streets, in their hours of recreation, to seek that pleasure which might be happily found in the companionship of a wife and the comforts of a home. Advice in these matters ought to be sought from a physician of the Rationalist school, free from theological superstition.
LAWS RELATING TO MARRIAGE (AT A REGISTRAR'S OFFICE.)Table of consanguinity and affinity, within the degrees of which, in this country, marriages are made absolutely void by an Act of William IV. A man may not marry his --
Grandmother Sister Grandfather's wife Wife's sister Wife's grandmother Brother's wife Father's sister Son's daughter Mother's sister Daughter's daughter Father's brother's wife Son's son's wife Mother's brother's wife Daughter's son's wife Wife's father's sister Wife's; son's daughter Wife's mother's sister Wife's daughter's daughter Mother Brother's daughter Stepmother Sister's daughter Wife's mother Brother's son's wife Daughter Sister's son's wife Wife's daughter Wife's brother's daughter Son's wife Wife's sister's daughterIn the case of a woman, the sexes must be reversed.
Marriage by Certificate. -- If both parties have resided in the same district during the preceding seven days, a written notice (on a special form, declaring there is no lawful hindrance as to ages, residence, and consent of parents, if a minor) must be signed by one of them before the Registrar, and given to the Superintendent Registrar of the district. If they reside in different Registrars' districts, a similar notice must be sent to each Superintendent Registrar. The marriage may be contracted within three calendar months of the notice; but not till twenty-one days have elapsed, when the Superintendent Registrar will issue his certificate to marry. Fee 9s. 7d.
Marriage by License. -- It is necessary for only one of the parties to give notice to the Superintendent Registrar of the district in which he or she has resided for the preceding fifteen days. After the expiration of one day, next after the day of entry of notice, the Superintendent Registrar issues his certificate and license to marry. The marriage may be contracted at any time within three calendar months after the date of entry of notice. Fees; 2 pounds 17s. 1d.
The Marriage Ceremony. -- Marriages are contracted before the Superintendent Registrar and the Registrar of the district," and in the presence of two witnesses, between 8 a.m. and 3 P.m. Each party declares as follows: "I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I, A B, may not be joined in matrimony to C D; and each shall say to the other: "I call upon these Persons here present to witness that I, A B (or C D), do take thee, C D, (.or A B), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband.)" A wedding-ring is usually required.
It is hardly necessary to remark that "the solemnization of marriages" in churches, or as "sacraments" of religion, is superstitious, being a relic of days of ignorance, credulity, and priestcraft.
For those intending to be buried in a CEMETERY, in unconsecrated ground, a service may be held and an address given, but for those whom circumstances may necessitate being buried in a CHURCHYARD it is necessary that the Burial Law Amendment Act, 1880, should be complied with, the chief regulations of which are as follows: --
Liberty of thought and opinion, however, is not liberty of speech. Liberty of speech is only justifiable under certain restrictions, for there is no absolute freedom of speech in civilized society; each individual must be limited in his speech as in his conduct. All have a right to talk freely concerning public matters, so long as they do not violate the moral law by menacing the rights or welfare of others, by mischief-making, by exciting the mob by inflammatory language or placards, or by instigating in any other way to any mischievous acts.
Under the old English law, the penalty for heresy, blasphemy, and schism was death by burning, after trial by the ecclesiastical courts. This death penalty was abolished in 1677, and the ecclesiastical courts subsequently lost their jurisdiction over any but the clergy of the Established Church. As heresy dropped out of sight, attention was fixed on blasphemy, the law of blasphemous libel still remaining on the Statute Book. "An Act for the more effectual suppression of blasphemy and profaneness" was passed in the reign of William III. (9 and 10, c. 32), which declares that "any person or persons having been educated in, or at any time having made profession of, the Christian religion within this realm who shall, by writing, printing, teaching, or advised speaking, deny any one of the persons in the Holy Trinity to be God, or shall assert or maintain that there are more gods than one, or shall deny the Christian doctrine to be true, or the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be of divine authority, shall upon conviction be disabled from holding any ecclesiastical, civil, or military employment, and on a second conviction be imprisoned for three years, and deprived for ever of all civil rights." So much of it as affected the Unitarians was ostensibly repealed by the 53 George III., c. 160. But it still disgraces the Statute Book. In 1883 Messrs. Foote, Ramsey, and Kemp were successfully, and the late Mr. Bradlaugh unsuccessfully, prosecuted under this Act. It was alleged against them that they "wickedly and profanely attempted to bring the Holy Scriptures and the Christian religion into disbelief and contempt," not only "against the peace of our lady the Queen," but also "to the great displeasure of Almighty God." Here is a distinct attempt by the Legislature, not only to suppress the opinions of individuals, but to force opinions upon them which have never been proved to be right, but have actually been proved to be wrong; and the confidence with which the displeasure of the deity, in which its majority at the time of the passing of the Act, believed, is declared, is a simple begging of a very important and extensive question -- a claiming of infallibility, and a presuming to a knowledge of the unknowable.
The "Lord's Day Observance Act" of Charles I. prohibits public crying and the exposure of goods for sale on Sundays. The amended Act of 1871 requires the consent of the chief officer of the district, two justices, or that of a stipendiary magistrate.
Upholders of freedom of thought ought not to rest till these partial and bigoted laws are repealed. For this purpose the late Mr. Bradlaugh brought in a Bill in the House of Commons, and, notwithstanding strong opposition, was successful in obtaining forty-seven votes. The expression of opinion by Freethinkers is, according to these laws, illegal; their corporate meetings are illegal, and they cannot hold property, receive legacies, in any corporate capacity, or open any room for entertainment and amusement on Sundays.
IF A JUROR, and he is told to "leave the box," he should at once leave the Court; but if he is told to "leave the box, but not the Court," he should say: "My Lord (if a judge of the High Court; if a County Court judge or Coroner." Your Honorer;" if a Police Magistrate or Mayor -- "Your Worship, I am ready and willing now to perform my duty as juryman in the case in which my name has been called, -- but if your Lordship dispenses with my services as juror, I respectfully deny your jurisdiction to detain me in Court."
IF A WITNESS, and any question be put by the judge, he should say: "My Lord, I Respectfully submit that, having made my objection in the exact words of the statute, I am now entitled to affirm without any question, and that I am not bound to answer any question." If the judge persists in questioning witness as to his opinion, he should be met by a respectful but distinct refusal to answer.
IF A CORONER OR MAGISTRATE should refuse to take his evidence, witness should ask: "On what ground do you decline to take my evidence?" and the answer be carefully written down, and sent to the Secretary of the Rationalist Press Committee (17, Jobnson's Court, Fleet Street, E.C.), or to the Secretary of the National Secular Society (377, Strand, W.C.).
The Acts are repealed which required the judge to be satisfied of the sincerity of the objection when made on religious grounds.
FORM OF AFFIRMATION. -- "I, A B, do solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare and affirm that I will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
FORM OF AFFIRMATION IN WRITING (instead of the ordinary "affidavit" A B, of ____, do solemnly and sincerely affirm that. Affirmed at ______, this day of ___, 18__. Before me, etc."
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