GOD AND MY NEIGHBOUR
By Robert Blatchford
To My Son ROBERT CORRI BLATCHFORD This book is dedicated
I put the word in capitals, because it is my new name, and I want to get used to it.
The name has been bestowed on me by several Christian gentlemen as a reproach, but to my ears it has a quaint and not unpleasing sound.
Infidel! "The notorious infidel editor of the Clarion" is the form used by one True Believer. The words recurred to my mind suddenly, while I was taking my favourite black pipe for a walk along "the pleasant Strand," and I felt a smile glimmer within as I repeated them.
Which is worse, to be a Demagogue or an Infidel? I am both. For while many professed Christians contrive to serve both God and Mammon, the depravity of my nature seems to forbid my serving either.
It was a mild day in mid-August, not cold for the time of year. I had been laid up for a few days, and my back was unpropitious, and I was tired. But I felt very happy, for so bad a man, since the sunshine was clear and genial, and my pipe went as easily as a dream.
Besides, one's fellow-creatures are so amusing: especially in the Strand. I had seen a proud and gorgeously upholstered lady lolling languidly in a motor car, and looking extremely pleased with herself—not without reason; and I had met two successful men of great presence, who reminded me somehow of "Porkin and Snob"; and I had noticed a droll little bundle of a baby, in a fawn-coloured woollen suit, with a belt slipped almost to her knees, and sweet round eyes as purple as pansies, who was hunting a rolling apple amongst "the wild mob's million feet"; and I had seen a worried-looking matron, frantically waving her umbrella to the driver of an omnibus, endanger the silk hat of Porkin and disturb the complacency of Snob; and I felt glad.
It was at that moment that there popped into my head the full style and title I had earned. "Notorious Infidel Editor of the Clarion!" These be brave words, indeed. For a moment they almost flattered me into the belief that I had become a member of the higher criminal classes: a bold bad man, like Guy Fawkes, or Kruger, or R. B. Cuninghame Graham.
"You ought," I said to myself, "to dress the part. You ought to have an S.D.P. sombrero, a slow wise Fabian smile, and the mysterious trousers of a Soho conspirator."
But at the instant I caught a sight of my counterfeit presentment in a shop window, and veiled my haughty crest. That a notorious Infidel! Behold a dumpy, comfortable British paterfamilias in a light flannel suit and a faded sun hat. No; it will not do. Not a bit like Mephisto: much more like the Miller of the Dee.
Indeed, I am not an irreligious man, really; I am rather a religious man; and this is not an irreligious, but rather a religious, book.
Such thoughts should make men humble. After all, may not even John Burns be human; may not Mr. Chamberlain himself have a heart that can feel for another?
Gentle reader, that was a wise as well as a charitable man who taught us there is honour among thieves; although, having never been a member of Parliament himself, he must have spoken from hearsay.
"For all that, Robert, you're a notorious Infidel." I paused—just opposite the Tivoli—and gazed moodily up and down the Strand.
As I have remarked elsewhere, I like the Strand. It is a very human place. But I own that the Strand lacks dignity and beauty, and that amongst its varied odours the odour of sanctity is scarce perceptible.
There are no trees in the Strand. The thoroughfare should be wider. The architecture is, for the most part, banal. For a chief street in a Christian capital, the Strand is not eloquent of high national ideals.
There are derelict churches in the Strand, and dingy blatant taverns, and strident signs and hoardings; and there are slums hard by.
There are thieves in the Strand, and prowling vagrants, and gaunt hawkers, and touts, and gamblers, and loitering failures, with tragic eyes and wilted garments; and prostitutes plying for hire.
And east and west, and north and south of the Strand, there is London. Is there a man amongst all London's millions brave enough to tell the naked truth about the vice and crime, the misery and meanness, the hypocrisies and shames of the great, rich, heathen city? Were such a man to arise amongst us and voice the awful truth, what would his reception be? How would he fare at the hands of the Press, and the Public—and the Church?
As London is, so is England. This is a Christian country. What would Christ think of Park Lane, and the slums, and the hooligans? What would He think of the Stock Exchange, and the music hall, and the racecourse? What would he think of our national ideals? What would He think of the House of Peers, and the Bench of Bishops, and the Yellow Press?
Pausing again, over against Exeter Hall, I mentally apostrophise the Christian British people. "Ladies and Gentlemen," I say, "you are Christian in name, but I discern little of Christ in your ideals, your institutions, or your daily lives. You are a mercenary, self-indulgent, frivolous, boastful, blood-guilty mob of heathen. I like you very much, but that is what you are. And it is you—you who call men 'Infidels.' You ridiculous creatures, what do you mean by it?"
If to praise Christ in words, and deny Him in deeds, be Christianity, then London is a Christian city, and England is a Christian nation. For it is very evident that our common English ideals are anti-Christian, and that our commercial, foreign and social affairs are run on anti-Christian lines.
Renan says, in his Life of Jesus, that "were Jesus to return amongst us He would recognise as His disciples, not those who imagine they can compress Him into a few catechismal phrases, but those who labour to carry on His work."
My Christian friends, I am a Socialist, and as such believe in, and work for, universal freedom, and universal brotherhood, and universal peace.
And you are Christians, and I am an "Infidel."
Well, be it even so. I am an "Infidel," and I now ask leave to tell you why.
It is impossible for me to present the whole of my case in the space at my command; I can only give an outline. Neither can I do it as well as it ought to be done, but only as well as I am able.
To make up for my shortcomings, and to fortify my case with fuller evidence, I must refer the reader to books written by men better equipped for the work than I.
To do justice to so vast a theme would need a large book where I can only spare a short chapter, and each large book should be written by a specialist.
For the reader's own satisfaction, then, and for the sake of justice to my cause, I shall venture to suggest a list of books whose contents will atone for all my failures and omissions. And I am justified, I think, in saying that no reader who has not read the books I recommend, or others of like scope and value, can fairly claim to sit on the jury to try this case.
And of these books I shall, first of all, heartily recommend the series of cheap sixpenny reprints now published by the Rationalist Press Association, Johnson's Court, London, E.C.
R.P.A. REPRINTS Huxley's Lectures and Essays. Tyndall's Lectures and Essays. Laing's Human Origins. Laing's Modern Science and Modern Thought. Clodd's Pioneers of Evolution. Matthew Arnold's Literature and Dogma. Haeckel's Riddle of the Universe. Grant Allen's Evolution of the Idea of God. Cotter Morrison's Service of Man. Herbert Spencer's Education.
Some Apologists have, I am sorry to say, attempted to disparage those excellent books by alluding to them as "Sixpenny Science" and "Cheap Science." The same method of attack will not be available against most of the books in my next list:
The Golden Bough, Frazer. Macmillan, 36s. The Legend of Perseus, Hartland. D. Nutt, 25s. Christianity and Mythology, Robertson. Watts, 8s. Pagan Christs, Robertson. Watts, 8s. Supernatural Religion, Cassels. Watts, 6s. The Martyrdom of Man, Winwood Reade. Kegan Paul, 6s. Mutual Aid, Kropotkin. Heinemann, 7s. 6d. The Story of Creation, Clodd. Longmans, 3s. 6d. Buddha and Buddhism, Lillie. Clark, 3s. 6d. Shall We Understand the Bible? Williams. Black, 1s. What is Religion? Tolstoy. Free Age Press, 6d. What I Believe, Tolstoy. Free Age Press, 6d. The Life of Christ, Renan. Scott, 1s. 6d.
I also recommend Herbert Spencer's Principles of Sociology and Lecky's History of European Morals. Of pamphlets there are hundreds. Readers will get full information from Watts & Co., 17 Johnson's Court, London, E.C.
I can warmly recommend The Miracles of Christian Belief and The Claims of Christianity, by Charles Watts, and Christianity and Progress, a penny pamphlet, by G. W. Foote (The Freethought Publishing Company).
I should also like to mention An Easy Outline of Evolution, by Dennis Hird (Watts & Co., 2s. 6d.). This book will be of great help to those who want to scrape acquaintance with the theory of evolution.
Finally, let me ask the general reader to put aside all prejudice, and give both sides a fair hearing. Most of the books I have mentioned above are of more actual value to the public of to-day than many standard works which hold world-wide reputations.
No man should regard the subject of religion as decided for him until he has read The Golden Bough. The Golden Bough is one of those books that unmake history.
THE SIN OF UNBELIEF
WHAT I CAN AND CANNOT BELIEVE
THE OLD TESTAMENT—
Is the Bible the Word of God? The Evolution of the Bible The Universe Jehovah Bible Heroes The Book of Books Our Heavenly Father Prayer and Praise
THE NEW TESTAMENT—
The Resurrection Gospel Witnesses The Time Spirit Have the Documents been Tampered with? Christianity Before Christ Other Evidences
THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION— What is Christianity?
DETERMINISM— Can Man Sin against God?
CHRISTIAN APOLOGIES— Christian Apologies Christianity and Civilisation Christianity and Ethics The Success of Christianity The Prophecies The Universality of Religious Belief Is Christianity the Only Hope? Spiritual Discernment Some Other Apologies Counsels of Despair
CONCLUSION— The Parting of the Ways
GOD AND MY NEIGHBOUR
THE SIN OF UNBELIEF
Huxley quotes with satirical gusto Dr. Wace's declaration as to the word "Infidel." Said Dr. Wace: "The word infidel, perhaps, carries an unpleasant significance. Perhaps it is right that it should. It is, and it ought to be, an unpleasant thing for a man to have to say plainly that he does not believe in Jesus Christ."
Be it pleasant or unpleasant to be an unbeliever, one thing is quite clear: religious people intend the word Infidel to carry "an unpleasant significance" when they apply to it one. It is in their minds a term of reproach. Because they think it is wicked to deny what they believe.
To call a man an Infidel, then, is tacitly to accuse him of a kind of moral turpitude.
But a little while ago, to be an Infidel was to be socially taboo. But a little while earlier, to be an Infidel was to be persecuted. But a little earlier still, to be an Infidel was to be an outlaw, subject to the penalty of death.
Now, it is evident that to visit the penalty of social ostracism or public contumely upon all who reject the popular religion is to erect an arbitrary barrier against intellectual and spiritual advance, and to put a protective tariff upon orthodoxy to the disadvantage of science and free thought.
The root of the idea that it is wicked to reject the popular religion—a wickedness of which Christ and Socrates and Buddha are all represented to have been guilty—thrives in the belief that the Scriptures are the actual words of God, and that to deny the truth of the Scriptures is to deny and to affront God.
But the difficulty of the unbeliever lies in the fact that he cannot believe the Scriptures to be the actual words of God.
The Infidel, therefore, is not denying God's words, nor disobeying God's commands: he is denying the words and disobeying the commands of men.
No man who knew that there was a good and wise God would be so foolish as to deny that God. No man would reject the words of God if he knew that God spoke those words.
But the doctrine of the divine origin of the Scriptures rests upon the authority of the Church; and the difference between the Infidel and the Christian is that the Infidel rejects and the Christian accepts the authority of the Church.
Belief and unbelief are not matters of moral excellence or depravity: they are questions of evidence.
The Christian believes the Scriptures because they are the words of God. But he believes they are the words of God because some other man has told him so.
Let him probe the matter to the bottom, and he will inevitably find that his authority is human, and not, as he supposes, divine.
For you, my Christian friend, have never seen God. You have never heard God's voice. You have received from God no message in spoken or written words. You have no direct divine warrant for the divine authorship of the Scriptures. The authority on which your belief in the divine revelation rests consists entirely of the Scriptures themselves and the statements of the Church. But the Church is composed solely of human beings, and the Scriptures were written and translated and printed solely by human beings.
You believe that the Ten Commandments were dictated to Moses by God. But God has not told you so. You only believe the statement of the unknown author of the Pentateuch that God told him so. You do not know who Moses was. You do not know who wrote the Pentateuch. You do not know who edited and translated the Scriptures.
Clearly, then, you accept the Scriptures upon the authority of unknown men, and upon no other demonstrable authority whatever.
Clearly, then, to doubt the doctrine of the divine revelation of the Scriptures is not to doubt the word of God, but to doubt the words of men.
But the Christian seems to suspect the Infidel of rejecting the Christian religion out of sheer wantonness, or from some base or sinister motive.
The fact being that the Infidel can only believe those things which his own reason tells him are true. He opposes the popular religion because his reason tells him it is not true, and because his reason tells him insistently that a religion that is not true is not good, but bad. In thus obeying the dictates of his own reason, and in thus advocating what to him seems good and true, the Infidel is acting honourably, and is as well within his right as any Pope or Prelate.
That base or mercenary motives should be laid to the charge of the Infidel seems to me as absurd as that base or mercenary motives should be laid to the charge of the Socialist. The answer to such libels stares us in the face. Socialism and Infidelity are not popular, nor profitable, nor respectable.
If you wish to lose caste, to miss preferment, to endanger your chances of gaining money and repute, turn Infidel and turn Socialist.
Briefly, Infidelity does not pay. It is "not a pleasant thing to be an Infidel."
The Christian thinks it his duty to "make it an unpleasant thing" to deny the "true faith." He thinks it his duty to protect God, and to revenge His outraged name upon the Infidel and the Heretic. The Jews thought the same. The Mohammedan thinks the same. How many cruel and sanguinary wars has that presumptuous belief inspired? How many persecutions, outrages, martyrdoms, and massacres have been perpetrated by fanatics who have been "jealous for the Lord?"
As I write these lines Christians are murdering Jews in Russia, and Mohammedans are murdering Christians in Macedonia to the glory of God. Is God so weak that He needs foolish men's defence? Is He so feeble that He cannot judge nor avenge?
My Christian friend, so jealous for the Lord, did you ever regard your hatred of "Heretics" and "Infidels" in the light of history?
The history of civilisation is the history of successions of brave "Heretics" and "Infidels," who have denied false dogmas or brought new truths to light.
The righteous men, the "True Believers" of the day, have cursed these heroes and reviled them, have tortured, scourged, or murdered them. And the children of the "True Believers" have adopted the heresies as true, and have glorified the dead Heretics, and then turned round to curse or murder the new Heretic who fain would lead them a little further toward the light.
Copernicus, who first solved the mystery of the Solar System, was excommunicated for heresy. But Christians acknowledge now that the earth goes round the sun, and the name of Copernicus is honoured.
Bruno, who first declared the stars to be suns, and "led forth Arcturus and his host," was burnt at the stake for heresy.
Galileo, the father of telescopic astronomy, was threatened with death for denying the errors of the Church, was put in prison and tortured as a heretic. Christians acknowledge now that Galileo spoke the truth, and his name is honoured.
As it has been demonstrated in those cases, it has been demonstrated in thousands of other cases, that the Heretics have been right, and the True Believers have been wrong.
Step by step the Church has retreated. Time after time the Church has come to accept the truths, for telling which she persecuted, or murdered, her teachers. But still the True Believers hate the Heretic and regard it as a righteous act to make it "unpleasant" to be an "Infidel."
After taking a hundred steps away from old dogmas and towards the truth, the True Believer shudders at the request to take one more. After two thousand years of foolish and wicked persecution of good men, the True Believer remains faithful to the tradition that it "ought to be an unpleasant thing" to expose the errors of the Church.
The Christians used to declare that all the millions of men and women outside the Christian Church would "burn for ever in burning Hell." They do not like to be reminded of that folly now.
They used to declare that every unbaptised baby would go to Hell and burn for ever in fire and brimstone. They do not like to be reminded of that folly now.
They used to believe in witchcraft, and they burned millions—yes, millions—of innocent women as witches. They do not like to hear about witchcraft now.
They used to believe the legends of Adam and Eve, and the Flood. They call them allegories now.
They used to believe that the world was made in six days. Now they talk mildly about "geological periods."
They used to denounce Darwinism as impious and absurd. They have since "cheerfully accepted" the theory of evolution.
They used to believe that the sun revolved round the earth, and that he who thought otherwise was an Infidel, and would be damned in the "bottomless pit." But now—! Now they declare that Christ was God, and His mother a virgin; that three persons are one person; that those who trust in Jesus shall go to Heaven, and those who do not trust in Jesus will be "lost." And if anyone denies these statements, they call him Infidel.
Are you not aware, friend Christian, that what was Infidelity is now orthodoxy? It is even so. Heresies for which men used to be burned alive are now openly accepted by the Church. There is not a divine living who would not have been burned at the stake three centuries ago for expressing the beliefs he now holds. Yet you call a man Infidel for being a century in advance of you. History has taught you nothing. It has not occurred to you that as the "infidelity" of yesterday has become the enlightened religion of to-day, it is possible that the "infidelity" of to-day may become the enlightened religion of to-morrow.
Civilisation is built up of the "heresies" of men who thought freely and spoke bravely. Those men were called "Infidels" when they were alive. But now they are called the benefactors of the world.
Infidel! The name has been borne, good Christian, by some of the noblest of our race. I take it from you with a smile. I am an easiful old pagan, and I am not angry with you at all—you funny, little champion of the Most High.
I have been asked why I have opposed Christianity. I have several reasons, which shall appear in due course. At present I offer one.
I oppose Christianity because it is not true.
No honest man will ask for any other reason.
But it may be asked why I say that Christianity is not true; and that is a very proper question, which I shall do my best to answer.
WHAT I CAN AND CANNOT BELIEVE
I hope it will not be supposed that I have any personal animus against Christians or Christian ministers, although I am hostile to the Church. Many ministers and many Christian laymen I have known are admirable men. Some I know personally are as able and as good as any men I have met; but I speak of the Churches, not of individuals.
I have known Catholic priests and sisters who were worthy and charming, and there are many such; but I do not like the Catholic Church. I have known Tories and Liberals who were real good fellows, and clever fellows, and there are many such; but I do not like the Liberal and Tory parties. I have known clergymen of the Church of England who were real live men, and real English gentlemen, and there are many such; but I do not like the Church.
I was not always an Agnostic, or a Rationalist, or an "Infidel," or whatever Christians may choose to call me.
I was not perverted by an Infidel book. I had not read one when I wavered first in my allegiance to the orthodoxies. I was set doubting by a religious book written to prove the "Verity of Christ's Resurrection from the Dead." But as a child I was thoughtful, and asked myself questions, as many children do, which the Churches would find it hard to answer to-day.
I have not ceased to believe what I was taught as a child because I have grown wicked. I have ceased to believe it because, after twenty years' hard thinking, I cannot believe it.
I cannot believe, then, that the Christian religion is true.
I cannot believe that the Bible is the word of God. For the word of God would be above criticism and beyond disproof, and the Bible is not above criticism nor beyond disproof.
I cannot believe that any religion has been revealed to Man by God. Because a revealed religion would be perfect, but no known religion is perfect; and because history and science show us that the known religions have not been revealed, but have been evolved from other religions. There is no important feature of the Christian religion which can be called original. All the rites, mysteries, and doctrines of Christianity have been borrowed from older faiths.
I cannot believe that Jehovah, the God of the Bible, is the Creator of the known universe. The Bible God, Jehovah, is a man-made God, evolved from the idol of an obscure and savage tribe. The Bible shows us this quite plainly.
I cannot believe that the Bible and the Testament are historically true. I regard most of the events they record as fables, and most of their characters as myths.
I cannot believe in the existence of Jesus Christ, nor Buddha, nor Moses. I believe that these are ideal characters constructed from still more ancient legends and traditions.
I cannot believe that the Bible version of the relations of man and God is correct. For that version, and all other religious versions known to me, represents man as sinning against or forsaking God, and God as punishing or pardoning man.
But if God made man, then God is responsible for all man's acts and thoughts, and therefore man cannot sin against God.
And if man could not sin against God, but could only act as God ordained that he should act, then it is against reason to suppose that God could be angry with man, or could punish man, or see any offence for which to pardon man.
I cannot believe that man has ever forsaken God. Because history shows that man has from the earliest times been eagerly and pitifully seeking God, and has served and raised and sacrificed to God with a zeal akin to madness. But God has made no sign.
I cannot believe that man was at the first created "perfect," and that he "fell." (How could the perfect fall?) I believe the theory of evolution, which shows not a fall but a gradual rise.
I cannot believe that God is a loving "Heavenly Father," taking a tender interest in mankind. Because He has never interfered to prevent the horrible cruelties and injustices of man to man, and because He has permitted evil to rule the world. I cannot reconcile the idea of a tender Heavenly Father with the known horrors of war, slavery, pestilence, and insanity. I cannot discern the hand of a loving Father in the slums, in the earthquake, in the cyclone. I cannot understand the indifference of a loving Father to the law of prey, nor to the terrors and tortures of leprosy, cancer, cholera, and consumption.
I cannot believe that God is a personal God, who intervenes in human affairs. I cannot see in science, nor in experience, nor in history any signs of such a God, nor of such intervention.
I cannot believe that God hears and answers prayer, because the universe is governed by laws, and there is no reason to suppose that those laws are ever interfered with. Besides, an all-wise God knows what to do better than man can tell Him, and a just God would act justly without requiring to be reminded of His duty by one of His creatures.
I cannot believe that miracles ever could or ever did happen. Because the universe is governed by laws, and there is no credible instance on record of those laws being suspended.
I cannot believe that God "created" man, as man now is, by word of mouth and in a moment. I accept the theory of evolution, which teaches that man was slowly evolved by natural process from lower forms of life, and that this evolution took millions of years.
I cannot believe that Jesus Christ was God, nor that He was the Son of God. There is no solid evidence for the miracle of the Incarnation, and I see no reason for the Incarnation.
I cannot believe that Christ died to save man from Hell, nor that He died to save man from sin. Because I do not believe God would condemn the human race to eternal torment for being no better than He had made them, and because I do not see that the death of Christ has saved man from sin.
I cannot believe that God would think it necessary to come on earth as a man, and die on the Cross. Because if that was to atone for man's sin, it was needless, as God could have forgiven man without Himself suffering.
I cannot believe that God would send His son to die on the Cross. Because He could have forgiven man without subjecting His son to pain.
I cannot accept any doctrine of atonement. Because to forgive the guilty because the innocent had suffered would be unjust and unreasonable, and to forgive the guilty because a third person begged for his pardon would be unjust.
I cannot believe that a good God would allow sin to enter the world. Because He would hate sin and would have power to destroy or to forbid it.
I cannot believe that a good God would create or tolerate a Devil, nor that he would allow the Devil to tempt man.
I cannot believe the story of the virgin birth of Christ. Because for a man to be born of a virgin would be a miracle, and I cannot believe in miracles.
I cannot believe the story of Christ's resurrection from the dead. Because that would be a miracle, and because there is no solid evidence that it occurred.
I cannot believe that faith in the Godhood of Christ is necessary to virtue or to happiness. Because I know that some holding such faith are neither happy nor virtuous, and that some are happy and virtuous who do not hold that faith.
The differences between the religious and the scientific theories, or, as I should put it, between superstition and rationalism, are clearly marked and irreconcilable.
The supernaturalist stands by "creation"; the rationalist stands by "evolution." It is impossible to reduce these opposite ideas to a common denominator.
The creation theory alleges that the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and man, and the animals were "created" by God, instantaneously, by word of mouth, out of nothing.
The evolution theory alleges that they were evolved, slowly, by natural processes out of previously existing matter.
The supernaturalist alleges that religion was revealed to man by God, and that the form of this revelation is a sacred book.
The rationalist alleges that religion was evolved by slow degrees and by human minds, and that all existing forms of religion and all existing "sacred books," instead of being "revelations," are evolutions from religious ideas and forms and legends of prehistoric times. It is impossible to reduce these opposite theories to a common denominator.
The Christians, the Hindoos, the Parsees, the Buddhists, and the Mohammedans have each their "Holy Bible" or "sacred book." Each religion claims that its own Bible is the direct revelation of God, and is the only true Bible teaching the only true faith. Each religion regards all the other religions as spurious.
The supernaturalists believe in miracles, and each sect claims that the miracles related in its own inspired sacred book prove the truth of that book and of the faith taught therein.
No religion accepts the truth of any other religion's miracles. The Hindoo, the Buddhist, the Mohammedan, the Parsee, the Christian each believes that his miracles are the only real miracles.
The Protestant denies the miracles of the Roman Catholic.
The rationalist denies all miracles alike. "Miracles never happen."
The Christian Bible is full of miracles. The Christian Religion is founded on miracles.
No rationalist believes in miracles. Therefore no rationalist can accept the Christian Religion.
If you discard "Creation" and accept evolution; if you discard "revelation" and accept evolution; if you discard miracles and accept natural law, there is nothing left of the Christian Religion but the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
And when one sees that all religions and all ethics, even the oldest known, have, like all language and all science and all philosophy and all existing species of animals and plants, been slowly evolved from lower and ruder forms; and when one learns that there have been many Christs, and that the evidence of the life of Jesus is very slight, and that all the acts and words of Jesus had been anticipated by other teachers long before the Christian era, then it is borne in upon one's mind that the historic basis of Christianity is very frail. And when one realises that the Christian theology, besides being borrowed from older religions, is manifestly opposed to reason and to facts, then one reaches a state of mind which entitles the orthodox Christian to call one an "Infidel," and to make it "unpleasant" for one to the glory of God.
That is the position in which I stand at present, and it is partly to vindicate that position, and to protest against those who feel as I feel being subjected to various kinds of "unpleasantness," that I undertake this Apology.
THE OLD TESTAMENT
IS THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD?
The question of the divine inspiration of the Scriptures is one of great importance.
If the Bible is a divine revelation, if it contains the actual word of God, and nothing but the word of God, then it is folly to doubt any statement it contains.
If the Bible is merely the work of men, if it contains only the words of men, then, like all other human work, the Bible is fallible, and must submit to criticism and examination, as all fallible human work must.
The Christian Religion stands or falls by the truth of the Bible.
If the Bible is the word of God the Bible must be true, and the Christian Religion must be true.
But, as I said before, the claim for the divine origin of the Bible has not been made by God, but by men.
We have therefore no means of testing the Bible's title to divine revelation other than by criticism and examination of the Bible itself.
If the Bible is the word of God—the all-wise and perfect God—the Bible will be perfect. If the Bible is not perfect it cannot be the word of a God who is perfect.
The Bible is not perfect. Historically, scientifically, and ethically the Bible is imperfect.
If the Bible is the word of God it will present to us the perfect God as He is, and every act of His it records will be perfection. But the Bible does not show us a perfect God, but a very imperfect God, and such of His acts as the Bible records are imperfect.
I say, then, with strong conviction, that I do not believe the Bible to be the word of God; that I do not believe it to be inspired of God; that I do not believe it to contain any divine revelation of God to man. Why?
Let us consider the claim that the Bible is the word of God. Let us, first of all, consider it from the common-sense point of view, as ordinary men of the world, trying to get at the truth and the reason of a thing.
What would one naturally expect in a revelation by God to man?
1. We should expect God to reveal truths of which mankind were ignorant.
2. We should expect God to make no errors of fact in His revelation.
3. We should expect God to make His revelation so clear and so definite that it could be neither misunderstood nor misrepresented.
4. We should expect God to ensure that His revelation should reach all men; and should reach all men directly and quickly.
5. We should expect God's revelation of the relations existing between Himself and man to be true.
6. We should expect the ethical code in God's revelation to be complete, and final, and perfect. The divine ethics should at least be above human criticism and beyond human amendment.
To what extent does the Bible revelation fulfil the above natural expectations?
1. Does the Bible reveal any new moral truths?
I cannot speak very positively, but I think there is very little moral truth in the Bible which has not been, or will not be traced back to more ancient times and religions.
2. Does the Bible revelation contain no errors of fact?
I claim that it contains many errors of fact, and the Higher Criticism supports the claim; as we shall see.
3. Is the Bible revelation so clear and explicit that no difference of opinion as to its meaning is possible?
No. It is not. No one living can claim anything of the kind.
4. Has God's revelation, as given in the Bible, reached all men?
No. After thousands of years it is not yet known to one-half the human race.
5. Is God's revelation of the relations between man and God true?
I claim that it is not true. For the word of God makes it appear that man was created by God in His own image, and that man sinned against God. Whereas man, being only what God made him, and having only the powers God gave him, could not sin against God any more than a steam-engine can sin against the engineer who designed and built it.
6. Is the ethical code of the Bible complete, and final, and perfect?
No. The ethical code of the Bible gradually develops and improves. Had it been divine it would have been perfect from the first. It is because it is human that it develops. As the prophets and the poets of the Jews grew wiser, and gentler, and more enlightened, so the revelation of God grew wiser and gentler with them. Now, God would know from the beginning; but men would have to learn. Therefore the Bible writings would appear to be human, and not divine.
Let us look over these points again, and make the matter still clearer and more simple.
If the children of an earthly father had wandered away and forgotten him, and were, for lack of guidance, living evil lives; and if the earthly father wished his children to know that they were his children, wished them to know what he had done for them, what they owed to him, what penalty they might fear, or reward they might ask from him; if he wished them to live cleanly and justly, and to love him, and at last come home to him—what would that earthly father do?
He would send his message to all his children, instead of sending it to one, and trusting him to repeat it correctly to the others. He would try to so word his message as that all his children might understand it.
He would send his children the very best rules of life he knew. He would take great pains to avoid error in matters of fact.
If, after the message was sent, his children quarrelled and fought about its meaning, their earthly father would not sit silent and allow them to hate and slay each other because of a misconception, but would send at once and make his meaning plain to all.
And if an earthly father would act thus wisely and thus kindly, "how much more your Father which is in Heaven?"
But the Bible revelation was not given to all the people of the earth. It was given to a handful of Jews. It was not so explicit as to make disagreement impossible. It is thousands of years since the revelation of God began, and yet to-day it is not known to hundreds of millions of human beings, and amongst those whom it has reached there is endless bitter disagreement as to its meaning.
Now, what is the use of a revelation which does not reveal more than is known, which does not reveal truth only, which does not reach half those who need it, which cannot be understood by those it does reach?
But you will regard me as a prejudiced witness. I shall therefore, in my effort to prove the Bible fallible, quote almost wholly from Christian critics.
And I take the opportunity to here recommend very strongly Shall We Understand the Bible? by the Rev. T. Rhondda Williams. Adam and Charles Black; 1s net.
There are two chief theories as to the inspiration of the Bible. One is the old theory that the Bible is the actual word of God, and nothing but the word of God, directly revealed by God to Moses and the prophets. The other is the new theory: that the Bible is the work of many men whom God had inspired to speak or write the truth.
The old theory is well described by Dr. Washington Gladden in the following passage:
They imagine that the Bible must have originated in a manner purely miraculous; and, though they know very little about its origin, they conceive of it as a book that was written in heaven in the English tongue, divided there into chapters and verses, with headlines and reference marks, printed in small pica, bound in calf, and sent down by angels in its present form.
The newer idea of the inspiration of the Bible is also well expressed by Dr. Gladden; thus:
Revelation, we shall be able to understand, is not the dictation by God of words to men that they may be written down in books: it is rather the disclosure of the truth and love of God to men in the processes of history, in the development of the moral order of the world. It is the light that lighteth every man, shining in the paths that lead to righteousness and life. There is a moral leadership of God in history; revelation is the record of that leadership. It is by no means confined to words; its most impressive disclosures are in the field of action. "Thus did the Lord," as Dr. Bruce has said, is a more perfect formula of revelation than "Thus saith the Lord." It is in that great historical movement of which the Bible is the record that we find the revelation of God to men.
The old theory of Bible inspiration was, as I have said, the theory that the Bible was the actual and pure word of God, and was true in every circumstance and detail.
Now, if an almighty and all-wise God had spoken or written every word of the Bible, then that book would, of course, be wholly and unshakably true in its every statement.
But if the Bible was written by men, some of them more or less inspired, then it would not, in all probability be wholly perfect.
The more inspiration its writers had from God, the more perfect it would be. The less inspiration its writers had from God, the less perfect it would be.
Wholly perfect, it might be attributed to a perfect being. Partly perfect, it might be the work of less perfect beings. Less perfect, it would have to be put down to less perfect beings.
Containing any fault or error, it could not be the actual word of God, and the more errors and faults it contained, the less inspiration of God would be granted to its authors.
I will quote again from Dr. Gladden:
What I desire to show is, that the work of putting the Bible into its present form was not done in heaven, but on earth; that it was not done by angels, but by men; that it was not done all at once, but a little at a time, the work of preparing and perfecting it extending over several centuries, and employing the labours of many men in different lands and long-divided generations.
I now turn to Dr. Aked. On page 25 of his book, Changing Creeds, he says:
Ignorance has claimed the Bible for its own. Bigotry has made the Bible its battleground. Its phrases have become the shibboleth of pietistic sectarians. Its authority has been evoked in support of the foulest crimes committed by the vilest men; and its very existence has been made a pretext for theories which shut out God from His own world. In our day Bible worship has become, with many very good but very unthoughtful people, a disease.
So much for the attitude of the various schools of religious thought towards the Bible.
Now, in the opinion of these Christian teachers, is the Bible perfect or imperfect? Dr. Aked gives his opinion with characteristic candour and energy:
For observe the position: men are told that the Bible is the infallible revelation of God to man, and that its statements concerning God and man are to be unhesitatingly accepted as statements made upon the authority of God. They turn to its pages, and they find historical errors, arithmetical mistakes, scientific blunders (or, rather, blunders most unscientific), inconsistencies, and manifold contradictions; and, what is far worse, they find that the most horrible crimes are committed by men who calmly plead in justification of their terrible misdeeds the imperturbable "God said." The heart and conscience of man indignantly rebel against the representations of the Most High given in some parts of the Bible. What happens? Why, such men declare—are now declaring, and will in constantly increasing numbers, and with constantly increasing force and boldness declare—that they can have nothing to do with a book whose errors a child can discover, and whose revelation of God partakes at times of blasphemy against man.
I need hardly say that I agree with every word of the above. If anyone asked me what evidence exists in support of the claims that the Bible is the word of God, or that it was in any real sense of the words "divinely inspired," I should answer, without the least hesitation, that there does not exist a scrap of evidence of any kind in support of such a claim.
Let us give a little consideration to the origin of the Bible. The first five books of the Bible, called the Pentateuch, were said to be written by Moses. Moses was not, and could not have been, the author of those books. There is, indeed, no reliable evidence to prove that Moses ever existed. Whether he was a fictitious hero, or a solar myth, or what he was, no man knows.
Neither does there appear to be any certainty that the biblical books attributed to David, to Solomon, to Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the rest were really written by those kings or prophets, or even in their age.
And after these books, or many of them, had been written, they were entirely lost, and are said to have been reproduced by Ezra.
Add to these facts that the original Hebrew had no vowels, that many of the sacred books were written without vowels, and that the vowels were added long after; and remember that, as Dr. Aked says, the oldest Hebrew Bible in existence belongs to the tenth century after Christ, and it will begin to appear that the claim for biblical infallibility is utterly absurd.
But I must not offer these statements on my own authority. Let us return to Dr. Gladden. On page 11 of Who Wrote the Bible? I find the following:
The first of these holy books of the Jews was, then, The Law, contained in the first five books of our Bible, known among us as the Pentateuch, and called by the Jews sometimes simply "The Law," and sometimes "The Law of Moses." This was supposed to be the oldest portion of their Scriptures, and was by them regarded as much more sacred and authoritative than any other portion. To Moses, they said, God spake face to face; to the other holy men much less distinctly. Consequently, their appeal is most often to the Law of Moses.
The sacredness of the five books of "The Law," then, rests upon the belief that they were written by Moses, who had spoken face to face with God.
So that if Moses did not write those books, their sacredness is a myth. Now, on page 42, Dr. Gladden says:
1. The Pentateuch could never have been written by any one man, inspired or otherwise.
2. It is a composite work, in which many hands have been engaged. The production of it extends over many centuries.
3. It contains writings which are as old as the time of Moses, and some that are much older. It is impossible to tell how much of it came from the hand of Moses; but there are considerable portions of it which, although they may have been somewhat modified by later editors, are substantially as he left them.
On page 45 Dr. Gladden, again speaking of the Pentateuch, says:
But the story of Genesis goes back to a remote antiquity. The last event related in that book occurred four hundred years before Moses was born; it was as distant from him as the discovery of America by Columbus is from us; and other portions of the narrative, such as the stories of the Flood and the Creation, stretch back into the shadows of the age which precedes history. Neither Moses nor any one living in his day could have given us these reports from his own knowledge. Whoever wrote this must have obtained his materials in one of three ways:
1. They might have been given to him by divine revelation from God.
2. He might have gathered them up from oral tradition, from stories, folklore, transmitted from mouth to mouth, and so preserved from generation to generation.
3. He might have found them in written documents existing at the time of his writing.
As many of the laws and incidents in the books of Moses were known to the Chaldeans, the "direct revelation of God" theory is not plausible. On this point Dr. Gladden's opinion supports mine. He says, on page 61:
That such is the fact with respect to the structure of these ancient writings is now beyond question. And our theory of inspiration must be adjusted to this fact. Evidently neither the theory of verbal inspiration, nor the theory of plenary inspiration, can be made to fit the facts, which a careful study of the writings themselves brings before us. These writings are not inspired in the sense which we have commonly given that word. The verbal theory of inspiration was only tenable while they were supposed to be the work of a single author. To such a composite literature no such theory will apply. "To make this claim," says Professor Ladd, "and yet accept the best ascertained results of criticism, would compel us to take such positions as the following: the original authors of each one of the writings which enter into the composite structure were infallibly inspired; every one who made any changes in any one of these fundamental writings was infallibly inspired; every compiler who put together two or more of these writings was infallibly inspired, both as to his selections and omissions, and as to any connecting or explanatory words which he might himself write; every redactor was infallibly inspired to correct and supplement, and omit that which was the product of previous infallible inspirations. Or, perhaps, it might seem more convenient to attach the claim of a plenary inspiration to the last redactor of all; but then we should probably have selected of all others the one least able to bear the weight of such a claim. Think of making the claim for a plenary inspiration of the Pentateuch in its present form on the ground of the infallibility of that one of the scribes who gave it its last touches some time subsequent to the death of Ezra."
Remember that Dr. Gladden declares, on page 5, that he shall state no conclusions as to the history of the sacred writings which will not be accepted by conservative critics.
On page 54 Dr. Gladden quotes the following from Dr. Perowne:
The first composition of the Pentateuch as a whole could not have taken place till after the Israelites entered Canaan.
The whole work did not finally assume its present shape till its revision was undertaken by Ezra after the return from the Babylonish captivity.
On page 25 Dr. Gladden himself speaks as follows:
The common argument by which Christ is made a witness to the authenticity and infallible authority of the Old Testament runs as follows:
Christ quotes Moses as the author of this legislation; therefore Moses must have written the whole Pentateuch. Moses was an inspired prophet; therefore all the teaching of the Pentateuch must be infallible.
The facts are that Jesus nowhere testifies that Moses wrote the whole of the Pentateuch; and that he nowhere guarantees the infallibility either of Moses or of the book. On the contrary, he set aside as inadequate or morally defective, certain laws which in this book are ascribed to Moses.
So much for the authorship and the inspiration of the first five books of the Bible.
As to the authorship of other books of the Bible, Dr. Gladden says of Judges and Samuel that we do not know the authors nor the dates.
Of Kings he says: "The name of the author is concealed from us." The origin and correctness of the Prophecies and Psalms, he tells us, are problematical.
Of the Books of Esther and Daniel, Dr. Gladden says: "That they are founded on fact I do not doubt; but it is, perhaps, safer to regard them both rather as historical fictions than as veritable histories."
Of Daniel, Dean Farrar wrote:
The immense majority of scholars of name and acknowledged competence in England and Europe have now been led to form an irresistible conclusion that the Book of Daniel was not written, and could not have been written, in its present form, by the prophet Daniel, B.C. 534, but that it can only have been written, as we now have it, in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, about B.C. 164, and that the object of the pious and patriotic author as to inspirit his desponding countrymen by splendid specimens of that lofty moral fiction which was always common amongst the Jews after the Exile, and was known as "The Haggadah." So clearly is this proven to most critics, that they willingly suffer the attempted refutations of their views to sink to the ground under the weight of their own inadequacy. (The Bible and the Child.)
I return now to Dr. Aked, from whose book I quote the following:
Dr. Clifford has declared that there is not a man who has given a day's attention to the question who holds the complete freedom of the Bible from inaccuracy. He has added that "it is become more and more impossible to affirm the inerrancy of the Bible." Dr. Lyman Abbott says that "an infallible book is an impossible conception, and to-day no one really believes that our present Bible is such a book."
Compare those opinions with the following extract from the first article in The Bible and the Child:
The change of view respecting the Bible, which has marked the advancing knowledge and more earnest studies of this generation is only the culmination of the discovery that there were different documents in the Book of Genesis—a discovery first published by the physician, Jean Astruc, in 1753. There are three widely divergent ways of dealing with these results of profound study, each of which is almost equally dangerous to the faith of the rising generation.
1. Parents and teachers may go on inculcating dogmas about the Bible and methods of dealing with it which have long become impossible to those who have really tried to follow the manifold discoveries of modern inquiry with perfectly open and unbiased minds. There are a certain number of persons who, when their minds have become stereotyped in foregone conclusions, are simply incapable of grasping new truths. They become obstructives, and not infrequently bigoted obstructives. As convinced as the Pope of their own personal infallibility, their attitude towards those who see that the old views are no longer tenable is an attitude of anger and alarm. This is the usual temper of the odium theologicum. It would, if it could, grasp the thumbscrew and the rack of mediaeval Inquisitors, and would, in the last resource, hand over all opponents to the scaffold or the stake. Those whose intellects have thus been petrified by custom and advancing years are, of all others, the most hopeless to deal with. They have made themselves incapable of fair and rational examination of the truths which they impugn. They think that they can, by mere assertion, overthrow results arrived at by the lifelong inquiries of the ablest students, while they have not given a day's serious or impartial study to them. They fancy that even the ignorant, if only they be what is called "orthodox," are justified in strong denunciation of men quite as truthful, and often incomparably more able, than themselves. Off-hand dogmatists of this stamp, who usually abound among professional religionists, think that they can refute any number of scholars, however profound and however pious, if only they shout "Infidel" with sufficient loudness.
Those are not the words of an "Infidel." They are the words of the late Dean Farrar.
To quote again from Dr. Gladden:
Evidently neither the theory of verbal inspiration, nor the theory of plenary inspiration, can be made to fit the facts which a careful study of the writings themselves brings before us. These writings are not inspired in the sense which we have commonly given to that word. The verbal theory of inspiration was only tenable while they were supposed to be the work of a single author. To such a composite literature no such theory will apply.
The Bible is not inspired. The fact is that no "sacred" book is inspired. All "sacred" books are the work of human minds. All ideas of God are human ideas. All religions are made by man.
When the old-fashioned Christian said the Bible was an inspired book, he meant that God put the words and the facts directly into the mind of the prophet. That meant that God told Moses about the creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Ark, and the Ten Commandments.
Many modern Christians, amongst whom I place the Rev. Ambrose Pope, of Bakewell, believe that God gave Moses (and all the other prophets) a special genius and a special desire to convey religious information to other men.
And Mr. Pope suggests that man was so ignorant, so childlike, or so weak in those days that it was necessary to disguise plain facts in misleading symbols.
But the man, Moses or another, who wrote the Book of Genesis was a man of literary genius. He was no child, no weakling. If God had said to him: "I made the world out of the fiery nebula, and I made the sea to bring forth the staple of life, and I caused all living things to develop from that seed or staple of life, and I drew man out from the brutes; and the time was six hundred millions of years"—if God had said that to Moses, do you think Moses would not have understood?
Now, let me show you what the Christian asks us to believe. He asks us to believe that the God who was the first cause of creation, and knew everything, inspired man, in the childhood of the world, with a fabulous and inaccurate theory of the origin of man and the earth, and that since that day the same God has gradually changed or added to the inspiration, until He inspired Laplace, and Galileo, and Copernicus, and Darwin to contradict the teachings of the previous fifty thousand years. He asks us to believe that God muddled men's minds with a mysterious series of revelations cloaked in fable and allegory; that He allowed them to stumble and to blunder, and to quarrel over these "revelations"; that He allowed them to persecute, and slay, and torture each other on account of divergent readings of his "revelations" for ages and ages; and that He is still looking on while a number of bewildered and antagonistic religions fight each other to achieve the survival of the fittest. Is that a reasonable theory? Is it the kind of theory a reasonable man can accept? Is it consonant with common sense?
Contrast that with our theory. We say that early man, having no knowledge of science, and more imagination than reason, would be alarmed and puzzled by the phenomena of Nature. He would be afraid of the dark, he would be afraid of the thunder, he would wonder at the moon, at the stars, at fire, at the ocean. He would fear what he did not understand, and he would bow down and pay homage to what he feared.
Then, by degrees, he would personify the stars, and the sun, and the thunder, and the fire. He would make gods of these things. He would make gods of the dead. He would make gods of heroes. He would do what all savage races do, what all children do: he would make legends, or fables, or fairy tales out of his hopes, his fears, and his guesses.
Does not that sound reasonable? Does not history teach us that it is true? Do we not know that religion was so born and nursed?
There is no such thing known to men as an original religion. All religions are made up of the fables and the imaginations of tribes long since extinct. Religion is an evolution, not a revelation. It has been invented, altered, and built up, and pulled down, and reconstructed time after time. It is a conglomeration and an adaptation, as language is. And the Christian religion is no more an original religion than English is an original tongue. We have Sanscrit, Latin, Greek, French, Saxon, Norman words in our language; and we have Aryan, Semitic, Egyptian, Roman, Greek, and all manner of ancient foreign fables, myths, and rites in our Christian religion.
We say that Genesis was a poetic presentation of a fabulous story pieced together from many traditions of many tribes, and recording with great literary power the ideas of a people whose scientific knowledge was very incomplete.
Now, I ask you which of these theories is the most reasonable; which is the most scientific; which agrees most closely with the facts of philology and history of which we are in possession?
Why twist the self-evident fact that the Bible story of creation was the work of unscientific men of strong imagination into a far-fetched and unsatisfactory puzzle of symbol and allegory? It would be just as easy and just as reasonable to take the Morte d'Arthur and try to prove that it contained a veiled revelation of God's relations to man.
And let me ask one or two questions as to this matter of the revelation of the Holy Bible. Is God all-powerful or is he not? If he is all-powerful, why did He make man so imperfect? Could He not have created him at once a wise and good creature? Even when man was ignorant and savage, could not an all-powerful God have devised some means of revealing Himself so as to be understood? If God really wished to reveal Himself to man, why did He reveal Himself only to one or two obscure tribes, and leave the rest of mankind in darkness?
Those poor savages were full of credulity, full of terror, full of wonder, full of the desire to worship. They worshipped the sun and the moon; they worshipped ghosts and demons; they worshipped tyrants, and pretenders, and heroes, dead and alive. Do you believe that if God had come down on earth, with a cohort of shining angels, and had said, "Behold, I am the only God," these savages would not have left all baser gods and worshipped Him? Why, these men, and all the thousands of generations of their children, have been looking for God since first they learned to look at sea and sky. They are looking for Him now. They have fought countless bloody wars and have committed countless horrible atrocities in their zeal for Him. And you ask us to believe that His grand revelation of Himself is bound up in a volume of fables and errors collected thousands of years ago by superstitious priests and prophets of Palestine, and Egypt, and Assyria.
We cannot believe such a statement. No man can believe it who tests it by his reason in the same way in which he would test any modern problem. If the leaders of religion brought the same vigour and subtlety of mind to bear upon religion which they bring to bear upon any criticism of religion, if they weighed the Bible as they have weighed astronomy and evolution, the Christian religion would not last a year.
If my reader has not studied this matter, let him read the books I have recommended, and then sit down and consider the Bible revelation and story with the same fearless honesty and clear common sense with which he would consider the Bibles of the Mohammedan, or Buddhist, or Hindoo, and then ask himself the question: "Is the Bible a holy and inspired book, and the word of God to man, or is it an incongruous and contradictory collection of tribal traditions and ancient fables, written by men of genius and imagination?"
THE EVOLUTION OF THE BIBLE
We now reach the second stage in our examination, which is the claim that no religion known to man can be truly said to be original. All religions, the Christian religion included, are adaptations or variants of older religions. Religions are not revealed: they are evolved.
If a religion were revealed by God, that religion would be perfect in whole and in part, and would be as perfect at the first moment of its revelation as after ten thousand years of practice. There has never been a religion which fulfils those conditions.
According to Bible chronology, Adam was created some six thousand years ago. Science teaches that man existed during the glacial epoch, which was at least fifty thousand years before the Christian era.
Here I recommend the study of Laing's Human Origins, Parson's Our Sun God, Sayce's Ancient Empires of the East, and Frazer's Golden Bough.
In his visitation charge at Blackburn, in July, 1889, the Bishop of Manchester spoke as follows:
Now, if these dates are accepted, to what age of the world shall we assign that Accadian civilisation and literature which so long preceded Sargo I. and the statutes of Sirgullah? I can best answer you in the words of the great Assyriologist, F. Hommel: "If," he says, "the Semites were already settled in Northern Babylonia (Accad) in the beginning of the fourth thousand B.C. in possession of the fully developed Shumiro-Accadian culture adopted by them—a culture, moreover, which appears to have sprouted like a cutting from Shumir, then the latter must be far, far older still, and have existed in its completed form in the fifth thousand B.C., an age to which I unhesitatingly ascribe the South Babylonian incantations."... Who does not see that such facts as these compel us to remodel our whole idea of the past?
A culture which was complete one thousand years before Adam must have needed many thousands of years to develop. It would be a modest guess that Accadian culture implied a growth of at least ten thousand years.
Of course, it may be said that the above biblical error is only an error of time, and has no bearing on the alleged evolution of the Bible. Well, an error of a million, or of ten thousand, years is a serious thing in a divine revelation; but, as we shall see, it has a bearing on evolution. Because it appears that in that ancient Accadian civilisation lie the seeds of many Bible laws and legends.
Here I quote from Our Sun God, by Mr. J. D. Parsons:
To commence with, it is well known to those acquainted with the remains of the Assyrian and Babylonian civilisations that the stories of the creation, the temptation, the fall, the deluge, and the confusion of tongues were the common property of the Babylonians centuries before the date of the alleged Exodus under Moses... Even the word Sabbath is Babylonian. And the observance of the seventh day as a Sabbath, or day of rest, by the Accadians thousands of years before Moses, or Israel, or even Abraham, or Adam himself could have been born or created, is admitted by, among others, the Bishop of Manchester. For in an address to his clergy, already mentioned, he let fall these pregnant words:
"Who does not see that such facts as these compel us to remodel our whole idea of the past, and that in particular to affirm that the Sabbatical institution originated in the time of Moses, three thousand five hundred years after it is probable that it existed in Chaldea, is an impossibility, no matter how many Fathers of the Church have asserted it. Facts cannot be dismissed like theories."
The Sabbath, then, is one link in the evolution of the Bible. Like the legends of the Creation, the Fall, and the Flood, it was adopted by the Jews from the Babylonians during or after the Captivity.
Of the Flood, Professor Sayce, in his Ancient Empires of the East, speaks as follows:
With the Deluge the mythical history of Babylonia takes a new departure. From this event to the Persian conquest was a period of 36,000 years, or an astronomical cycle called saros. Xisuthros, with his family and friends, alone survived the waters which drowned the rest of mankind on account of their sins. He had been ordered by the gods to build a ship, to pitch it within and without, and to stock it with animals of every species. Xisuthros sent out first a dove, then a swallow, and lastly a raven, to discover whether the earth was dry; the dove and the swallow returned to the ship, and it was only when the raven flew away that the rescued hero ventured to leave his ark. He found that he had been stranded on the peak of the mountain of Nizir, "the mountain of the world," whereon the Accadians believed the heavens to rest—where, too, they placed the habitations of their gods, and the cradle of their own race. Since Nizir lay amongst the mountains of Pir Mam, a little south of Rowandiz, its mountain must be identified with Rowandiz itself. On its peak Xisuthros offered sacrifices, piling up cups of wine by sevens; and the rainbow, "the glory of Anu," appeared in the heaven, in covenant that the world should never again be destroyed by flood. Immediately afterwards Xisuthros and his wife, like the Biblical Enoch, were translated to the regions of the blest beyond Datilla, the river of Death, and his people made their way westward to Sippara. Here they disinterred the books buried by their late ruler before the Deluge took place, and re-established themselves in their old country under the government first of Erekhoos, and then of his son Khoniasbolos. Meanwhile, other colonists had arrived in the plain of Sumer, and here, under the leadership of the giant Etana, called Titan by the Greek writers, they built a city of brick, and essayed to erect a tower by means of which they might scale the sky, and so win for themselves the immortality granted to Xisuthros... But the tower was overthrown in the night by the winds, and Bel frustrated their purpose by confounding their language and scattering them on the mound.
These legends of the Flood and the Tower of Babel were obviously borrowed by the Jews during their Babylonian captivity.
Professor Sayce, in his Ancient Empires of the East, speaking of the Accadian king, Sargon I., says:
Legends naturally gathered round the name of the Babylonian Solomon. Not only was he entitled "the deviser of law, the deviser of prosperity," but it was told of him how his father had died while he was still unborn, how his mother had fled to the mountains, and there left him, like a second Moses, to the care of the river in an ark of reeds and bitumen; and how he was saved by Accir, "the water-drawer," who brought him up as his own son, until the time came when, under the protection of Istar, his rank was discovered, and he took his seat on the throne of his forefathers.
From Babylon the Jews borrowed the legends of Eden, of the Fall, the Flood, the Tower of Babel; from Babylon they borrowed the Sabbath, and very likely the Commandments; and is it not possible that the legendary Moses and the legendary Sargon may be variants of a still more ancient mythical figure?
Compare Sayce with the following "Notes on the Moses Myth," from Christianity and Mythology, by J. M. Robertson:
NOTES ON THE MOSES MYTH.
I have been challenged for saying that the story of Moses and the floating basket is a variant of the myth of Horos and the floating island (Herod ii. 156). But this seems sufficiently proved by the fact that in the reign of Rameses II., according to the monuments, there was a place in Middle Egypt which bore the name I-en-Moshe, "the island of Moses." That is the primary meaning. Brugsch, who proclaims the fact (Egypt Under the Pharaohs, ii. 117), suggests that it can also mean "the river bank of Moses." It is very obvious, however, that the Egyptians would not have named a place by a real incident in the life of a successful enemy, as Moses is represented in Exodus. Name and story are alike mythological and pre-Hebraic, though possibly Semitic. The Assyrian myth of Sargon, which is, indeed, very close to the Hebrew, may be the oldest form of all; but the very fact that the Hebrews located their story in Egypt shows that they knew it to have a home there in some fashion. The name Moses, whether it mean "the water-child" (so Deutsch) or "the hero" (Sayce, Hib. Lect. p. 46), was in all likelihood an epithet of Horos. The basket, in the latter form, was doubtless an adaptation from the ritual of the basket-born God-Child, as was the birth story of Jesus. In Diodorus Siculus (i. 25) the myth runs that Isis found Horos dead "on the water," and brought him to life again; but even in that form the clue to the Moses birth-myth is obvious. And there are yet other Egyptian connections for the Moses saga, since the Egyptians had a myth of Thoth (their Logos) having slain Argus (as did Hermes), and having had to fly for it to Egypt, where he gave laws and learning to the Egyptians. Yet, curiously enough, this myth probably means that the Sun God, who has in the other story escaped the "massacre of the innocents" (the morning stars), now plays the slayer on his own account, since the slaying of many-eyed Argus probably means the extinction of the stars by the morning sun (cp. Emeric-David, Introduction, end). Another "Hermes" was the son of Nilus, and his name was sacred (Cicero, De Nat. Deor. iii. 22, Cp. 16). The story of the floating child, finally, becomes part of the lore of Greece. In the myth of Apollo, the Babe-God and his sister Artemis are secured in float-islands.
It is impossible to form a just estimate of the Bible without some knowledge of ancient history and comparative mythology. It would be impossible for me to go deeply into these matters in this small book, but I will quote a few significant passages just to show the value of such historical evidence. Here to begin with, are some passages from Mr. Grant Allen's Evolution of the Idea of God.
THE ORIGIN OF GODS.
Mr. Herbert Spencer has traced so admirably, in his Principles of Sociology, the progress of development from the Ghost to the God that I do not propose in this chapter to attempt much more than a brief recapitulation of his main propositions, which, however, I shall supplement with fresh examples, and adapt at the same time to the conception of three successive stages in human ideas about the Life of the Dead, as set forth in the preceding argument.
In the earlier stage of all—the stage where the actual bodies of the dead are preserved—gods, as such, are for the most part unknown: it is the corpses of friends and ancestors that are worshipped and reverenced. For example, Ellis says of the corpse of a Tahitian chief, that it was placed in a sitting posture under a protecting shed; "a small altar was erected before it, and offerings of fruit, food, and flowers were daily presented by the relatives or the priest appointed to attend the body." (This point about the priest is of essential importance.) The Central Americans, again, as Mr. Spencer notes, performed similar rites before bodies dried by artificial heat. The New Guinea people, as D'Albertis found, worship the dried mummies of their fathers and husbands. A little higher in the scale we get the developed mummy-worship of Egypt and Peru, which survives even after the evolution of greater gods, from powerful kings or chieftains. Wherever the actual bodies of the dead are preserved, there also worship and offerings are paid to them.
Often, however, as already noted, it is not the whole body, but the head alone, that is specially kept and worshipped. Thus Mr. H. O. Forbes says of the people of Buru: "The dead are buried in the forest on some secluded spot, marked by a merang, or grave pole, over which at certain intervals the relatives place tobacco, cigarettes, and various offerings. When the body is decomposed the son or nearest relative disinters the head, wraps a new cloth about it, and places it in the Matakau at the back of his house, or in a little hut erected for it near the grave. It is the representative of his forefathers, whose behests he holds in the greatest respect."
Two points are worthy of notice in this interesting account, as giving us an anticipatory hint of two further accessories whose evolution we must trace hereafter: first, the grave-stake, which is probably the origin of the wooden idol; and second, the little hut erected over the head by the side of the grave, which is undoubtedly one of the origins of the temple, or praying-house. Observe, also, the ceremonial wrapping of the skull in cloth and its oracular functions.
Throughout the earlier and ruder phases of human evolution this primitive conception of ancestors or dead relatives as the chief known object of worship survives undiluted; and ancestor- worship remains to this day the principal religion of the Chinese and of several other peoples. Gods, as such, are practically unknown in China. Ancestor-worship, also, survives in many other races as one of the main cults, even after other elements of later religion have been superimposed upon it. In Greece and Rome it remained to the last an important part of domestic ritual. But in most cases a gradual differentiation is set up in time between various classes of ghosts or dead persons, some ghosts being considered of more importance and power than others; and out of these last it is that gods as a rule are finally developed. A god, in fact, is in the beginning, at least, an exceptionally powerful and friendly ghost—a ghost able to help, and from whose help great things may reasonably be expected.
Again, the rise of chieftainship and kingship has much to do with the growth of a higher conception of godhead; a dead king of any great power or authority is sure to be thought of in time as a god of considerable importance. We shall trace out this idea more fully hereafter in the religion of Egypt; for the present it must suffice to say that the supposed power of the gods in each pantheon has regularly increased in proportion to the increased power of kings or emperors.
When we pass from the first plane of corpse preservation and mummification to the second plane, where burial is habitual, it might seem, at a hasty glance, as though continued worship of the dead, and their elevation into gods, would no longer be possible. For we saw that burial is prompted by a deadly fear lest the corpse or ghost should return to plague the living. Nevertheless, natural affection for parents or friends, and the desire to insure their goodwill and aid, make these seemingly contrary ideas reconcilable. As a matter of fact, we find that even when men bury or burn their dead, they continue to worship them; while, as we shall show in the sequel, even the great stones which they roll on top of the grave to prevent the dead from rising again become, in time, altars on which sacrifices are offered to the spirit.
Much of the Bible is evidently legendary. Here we have a jumble of ancient myths, allegories, and mysteries drawn from many sources and remote ages, and adapted, altered, and edited so many times that in many instances their original or inner meaning has become obscure. And it is folly to accept the tangled legends and blurred or distorted symbols as the literal history of a literal tribe, and the literal account of the origin of man, and the genesis of religion.
The real roots of religion lie far deeper: deeper, perhaps, than sun-worship, ghost-worship, and fear of demons. In The Real Origin of Religion occurs the following:
Quite recently theories have been advocated attempting to prove that the minds of early men were chiefly concerned with the increase of vegetation, and that their fancy played so much round the mysteries of plant growth that they made them their holiest arcana. Hence it appears that the savages were far more modest and refined than our civilised contemporaries, for almost all our works of imagination, both in literature and art, make human love their theme in all its aspects, whether healthy or pathological; whereas the savage, it seems, thought only of his crops. Nothing can be more astonishing than this discovery, if it be true, but there are many facts which might lead us to believe that the romance of love inspired early art and religion as well as modern thought.
Religion is a gorgeous efflorescence of human love. The tender passion has left its footsteps on the sands of time in magnificent monuments and libraries of theology.
This may seem startling to many orthodox readers, but it is no new theory, and is doubtless quite true, for all gods have been made by man, and all theologies have been evolved by man, and the odour and the colour of his human passions cling to them always, even after they are discarded. Under all man's dreams of eternal gods and eternal heavens lies man's passion for the eternal feminine. But on these subjects "Moses" spoke in parables, and I shall not speak at all.
Mr. Robertson, in Christianity and Mythology, says of the Bible:
It is a medley of early metaphysics and early fable—early, that is, relatively to known Hebrew history. It ties together two creation stories and two flood stories; it duplicates several sets of mythic personages—as Cain and Abel, Tubal-Cain and Jabal; it grafts the curse of Cham on the curse of Cain, making that finally the curse of Canaan; it tells the same offensive story twice of one patriarch and again of another; it gives an early "metaphysical" theory of the origin of death, life, and evil; it adapts the Egyptian story of the "Two Brothers," or the myth of Adonis, as the history of Joseph; it makes use of various God-names, pretending that they always stood for the same deity; it repeats traditions concerning mythic founders of races—if all this be not "a medley of early fable," what is it?
I quote next from The Bible and the Child, in which Dean Farrar says:
Some of the books of Scripture are separated from others by the interspace of a thousand years. They represent the fragmentary survival of Hebrew literature. They stand on very different levels of value, and even of morality. Read for centuries in an otiose, perfunctory, slavish, and superstitious manner, they have often been so egregiously misunderstood that many entire systems of interpretation—which were believed in for generations, and which fill many folios, now consigned to a happy oblivion— are clearly proved to have been utterly baseless. Colossal usurpations of deadly import to the human race have been built, like inverted pyramids, on the narrow apex of a single misinterpreted text.
Compare those utterances of the freethinker and the divine, and then read the following words of Dean Farrar:
The manner in which the Higher Criticism has slowly and surely made its victorious progress, in spite of the most determined and exacerbated opposition, is a strong argument in its favour. It is exactly analogous to the way in which the truths of astronomy and of geology have triumphed over universal opposition. They were once anathematised as "infidel"; they are now accepted as axiomatic. I cannot name a single student or professor of any eminence in Great Britain who does not accept, with more or less modification, the main conclusions of the German school of critics.
This being the case, I ask, as a mere layman, what right has the Bible to usurp the title of "the word of God"? What evidence can be sharked up to show that it is any more a holy or an inspired book than any book of Thomas Carlyle's, or John Ruskin's, or William Morris'? What evidence is forthcoming that the Bible is true?
THE UNIVERSE ACCORDING TO ANCIENT RELIGION AND MODERN SCIENCE
The theory of the early Christian Church was that the Earth was flat, like a plate, and the sky was a solid dome above it, like an inverted blue basin.
The Sun revolved round the Earth to give light by day, the Moon revolved round the Earth to give light by night. The stars were auxiliary lights, and had all been specially, and at the same time, created for the good of man.
God created the Sun, Moon, Stars, and Earth in six days. He created them by word, and He created them out of nothing.
The centre of the Universe was the Earth. The Sun was made to give light to the Earth by day, and the Moon to give light to Earth by night.
Any man who denied that theory in those days was in danger of being murdered as an Infidel.
To-day our ideas are very different. Hardly any educated man or woman in the world believes that the world is flat, or that the Sun revolves round the Earth, or that what we call the sky is a solid substance, like a domed ceiling.
Advanced thinkers, even amongst the Christians, believe that the world is round, that it is one of a series of planets revolving round the Sun, that the Sun is only one of many millions of other suns, that these suns were not created simultaneously, but at different periods, probably separated by millions or billions of years.
We have all, Christians and Infidels alike, been obliged to acknowledge that the Earth is not the centre of the whole Universe, but only a minor planet revolving around, and dependent upon, one of myriads of suns.
God, called by Christians "Our Heavenly Father," created all things. He created not only the world, but the whole universe. He is all-wise, He is all-powerful, He is all-loving, and He is revealed to us in the Scriptures.
Let us see. Let us try to imagine what kind of a God the creator of this Universe would be, and let us compare him with the God, or Gods, revealed to us in the Bible, and in the teachings of the Church.
We have seen the account of the Universe and its creation, as given in the revealed Scriptures. Let us now take a hasty view of the Universe and its creation as revealed to us by science.
What is the Universe like, as far as our limited knowledge goes?
Our Sun is only one sun amongst many millions. Our planet is only one of eight which revolve around him.
Our Sun, with his planets and comets, comprises what is known as the solar system.
There is no reason to suppose that his is the only Solar System: there may be many millions of solar systems. For aught we know, there may be millions of systems, each containing millions of solar systems.
Let us deal first with the solar system of which we are a part.
The Sun is a globe of 866,200 miles diameter. His diameter is more than 108 times that of the Earth. His volume is 1,305,000 times the volume of the Earth. All the eight planets added together only make one-seven-hundredth part of his weight. His circumference is more than two and a-half millions of miles. He revolves upon his axis in 25 1/4 days, or at a speed of nearly 4,000 miles an hour.
This immense and magnificent globe diffuses heat and light to all the other planets.
Without the light and heat of the Sun no life would now be, or in the past have been, possible on this Earth, or any other planet of the solar system.
The eight planets of the solar system are divided into four inferior and four superior.
The inferior planets are Mercury, Venus, the Earth, and Mars. The superior are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
The diameters of the smaller planets are as follow: Mercury, 3,008 miles; Mars, 5,000 miles; Venus, 7,480 miles; the Earth, 7,926 miles.
The diameters of the large planets are: Jupiter, 88,439 miles; Saturn, 75,036 miles; Neptune, 37,205 miles; Uranus, 30,875 miles.
The volume of Jupiter is 1,389 times, of Saturn 848 times, of Neptune 103 times, and of Uranus 59 times the volume of the Earth.
The mean distances from the Sun are: Mercury, 36 million miles; Venus, 67 million miles; the Earth, 93 million miles; Mars, 141 million miles; Jupiter, 483 million miles; Saturn, 886 million miles; Uranus, 1,782 million miles; Neptune, 2,792 million miles.
To give an idea of the meaning of these distances, I may say that a train travelling night and day at 60 miles an hour would take quite 176 years to come from the Sun to the Earth.
The same train, at the same speed, would be 5,280 years in travelling from the Sun to Neptune.
Reckoning that Neptune is the outermost planet of the solar system, that system would have a diameter of 5,584 millions of miles.
If we made a chart of the solar system on a scale of 1 inch to a million miles, we should need a sheet of paper 465 feet 4 inches wide. On this sheet the Sun would have a diameter of less than 1 inch, and the Earth would be about the size of a pin-prick.
If an express train, going at 60 miles an hour, had to travel round the Earth's orbit, it would be more than 1,000 years on the journey. If the Earth moved no faster, our winter would last more than 250 years. But in the solar system the speeds are as wonderful as the sizes. The Earth turns upon its axis at the rate of 1,000 miles an hour, and travels in its orbit round the Sun at the rate of more than 1,000 miles a minute, or 66,000 miles an hour.
So much for the size of the solar system. It consists of a Sun and eight planets, and the outer planet's orbit is one of 5,584 millions of miles in diameter, which it would take an express train, at 60 miles an hour, 10,560 years to cross.
But this distance is as nothing when we come to deal with the distances of the other stars from our Sun.
The distance from our Sun to the nearest fixed (?) star is more than 20 millions of millions of miles. Our express train, which crosses the diameter of the solar system in 10,560 years, would take, if it went 60 miles an hour day and night, about 40 million years to reach the nearest fixed star from the Sun.
And if we had to mark the nearest fixed star on our chart made on a scale of 1 inch to the million miles, we should find that whereas a sheet of 465 feet would take in the outermost planet of the solar system, a sheet to take in the nearest fixed star would have to be about 620 miles wide. On this sheet, as wide as from London to Inverness, the Sun would be represented by a dot three-quarters of an inch in diameter, and the Earth by a pin-prick.
But these immense distances only relate to the nearest stars. Now, the nearest stars are about four "light years" distant from us. That is to say, that light, travelling at a rate of about 182,000 miles in one second, takes four years to come from the nearest fixed star to the Earth.
But I have seen the distance from the Earth to the Great Nebula in Orion given as a thousand light years, or 250 times the distance of the fixed star above alluded to.
To reach that nebula at 60 miles an hour, an express train would have to travel for 35 millions of years multiplied by 250—that is to say, for 8,750 million years.
And yet there are millions of stars whose distances are even greater than the distance of the Great Nebula in Orion.
How many stars are there? No one can even guess. But L. Struve estimates the number of those visible to the great telescopes at 20 millions.
Twenty millions of suns. And as for the size of these suns, Sir Robert Ball says Sirius is ten times as large as our Sun; and a well-known astronomer, writing in the English Mechanic about a week ago, remarks that Alpha Orionis (Betelgeuze) has probably 700 times the light of our Sun.
Looking through my telescope, which is only 3-inch aperture, I have seen star clusters of wonderful beauty in the Pleiades and in Cancer. There is, in the latter constellation, a dim star which, when viewed through my glass, becomes a constellation larger, more brilliant, and more beautiful than Orion or the Great Bear. I have looked at these jewelled sun-clusters many a time, and wondered over them. But I have never once thought of believing that they were specially created to be lesser lights to the Earth.
And now let me quote from that grand book of Richard A. Proctor's, The Expanse of Heaven, a fine passage descriptive of some of the wonders of the "Milky Way":
There are stars in all orders of brightness, from those which (seen with the telescope) resemble in lustre the leading glories of the firmament, down to tiny points of light only caught by momentary twinklings. Every variety of arrangement is seen. Here the stars are scattered as over the skies at night; there they cluster in groups, as though drawn together by some irresistible power; in one region they seem to form sprays of stars like diamonds sprinkled over fern leaves; elsewhere they lie in streams and rows, in coronets and loops and festoons, resembling the star festoon which, in the constellation Perseus, garlands the black robe of night. Nor are varieties of colour wanting to render the display more wonderful and more beautiful. Many of the stars which crowd upon the view are red, orange, and yellow Among them are groups of two and three and four (multiple stars as they are called), amongst which blue and green and lilac and purple stars appear, forming the most charming contrast to the ruddy and yellow orbs near which they are commonly seen.
Millions and millions—countless millions of suns. Innumerable galaxies and systems of suns, separated by black gulfs of space so wide that no man can realise the meaning of the figures which denote their stretch. Suns of fire and light, whirling through vast oceans of space like swarms of golden bees. And round them planets whirling at thousands of miles a minute.
And on Earth there are forms of life so minute that millions of them exist in a drop of water. There are microscopic creatures more beautiful and more highly finished than any gem, and more complex and effective than the costliest machine of human contrivance. In The Story of Creation Mr. Ed. Clodd tells us that one cubic inch of rotten stone contains 41 thousand million vegetable skeletons of diatoms.
I cut the following from a London morning paper:
It was discovered some few years ago that a peculiar bacillus was present in all persons suffering from typhoid, and in all foods and drinks which spread the disease. Experiments were carried out, and it was assumed, not without good reason, that the bacillus was the primary cause of the malady, and it was accordingly labelled the typhoid bacillus.
But the bacteriologists further discovered that the typhoid bacillus was present in water which was not infectious, and in persons who were not ill, or had never been ill, with typhoid.
So now a theory is propounded that a healthy typhoid bacillus does not cause typhoid, but that it is only when the bacillus is itself sick of a fever, or, in other words, is itself the prey of some infinitely minuter organisms, which feed on it alone, that it works harm to mortal men.
The bacillus is so small that one requires a powerful microscope to see him, and his blood may be infested with bacilli as small to him as he is to us.
And there are millions, and more likely billions, of suns!
Talk about Aladdin's palace, Sinbad's valley of diamonds, Macbeth's witches, or the Irish fairies! How petty are their exploits, how tawdry are their splendours, how paltry are their riches, when we compare them to the romance of science.
When did a poet conceive an idea so vast and so astounding as the theory of evolution? What are a few paltry, lumps of crystallised carbon compared to a galaxy of a million million suns? Did any Eastern inventor of marvels ever suggest such a human feat as that accomplished by the men who have, during the last handful of centuries, spelt out the mystery of the universe? These scientists have worked miracles before which those of the ancient priests and magicians are mere tricks of hanky-panky.
Look at the romance of geology; at the romance of astronomy; at the romance of chemistry; at the romance of the telescope, and the microscope, and the prism. More wonderful than all, consider the story of how flying atoms in space became suns, how suns made planets, how planets changed from spheres of flame and raging fiery storm to worlds of land and water. How in the water specks of jelly became fishes, fishes reptiles, reptiles mammals, mammals monkeys; monkeys men; until, from the fanged and taloned cannibal, roosting in a forest, have developed art and music, religion and science; and the children of the jellyfish can weigh the suns, measure the stellar spaces, ride on the ocean or in the air, and speak to each other from continent to continent.
Talk about fairy tales! what is this? You may look through a telescope, and see the nebula that is to make a sun floating, like a luminous mist, three hundred million miles away. You may look again, and see another sun in process of formation. You may look again, and see others almost completed. You may look again and again, and see millions of suns and systems spread out across the heavens like rivers of living gems.
You will say that all this speaks of a Creator. I shall not contradict you. But what kind of Creator must He be who has created such a universe as this?
Do you think He is the kind of Creator to make blunders and commit crimes? Can you, after once thinking of the Milky Way, with its rivers of suns, and the drop of water teeming with spangled dragons, and the awful abysses of dark space, through which comets shoot at a speed a thousand times as fast as an express train—can you, after seeing Saturn's rings, and Jupiter's moons, and the clustered gems of Hercules, consent for a moment to the allegation that the creator of all this power and glory got angry with men, and threatened them with scabs and sores, and plagues of lice and frogs? Can you suppose that such a creator would, after thousands of years of effort, have failed even now to make His repeated revelations comprehensible? Do you believe that He would be driven across the unimaginable gulfs of space, but of the transcendent glory of His myriad resplendent suns, to die on a cross, in order to win back to Him the love of the puny creatures on one puny planet in the marvellous universe His power had made?
Do you believe that the God who imagined and created such a universe could be petty, base, cruel, revengeful, and capable of error? I do not believe it.
And now let us examine the character and conduct of this God as depicted for us in the Bible—the book which is alleged to have been directly revealed by God Himself.
JEHOVAH THE ADOPTED HEAVENLY FATHER OF CHRISTIANITY
In giving the above brief sketch of the known universe my object was to suggest that the Creator of a universe of such scope and grandeur must be a Being of vast power and the loftiest dignity.