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24 page printout Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. UNPUBLISHED REPLIES Contents of this file page REPLY TO DR. LYMAN ABBOTT. 1 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. 12 **** **** This file, its printout, or copies of either are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold. Bank of Wisdom, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 The Works of ROBERT G. INGERSOLL **** **** REPLY TO DR. LYMAN ABBOTT. 1890 ________ This unfinished article was written as a reply to the Rev. Lyman Abbott's article entitled, "Flaws in Ingersollism," which was printed in the April 1890 number of the North American Review. ________ In your Open Letter to me, published in this Review, you attack what you supposed to be my position, and ask several questions to which you demand answers; but in the same letter, you state that you wish no controversy with me. Is it possible that you wrote the letter to prevent a controversy? Do you attack only those with whom you wish to live in peace, and do you ask questions, coupled with a request that they remain unanswered? In addition to this, you have taken pains to publish in your own paper, that it was no part of your design in the article in the North American Review, to point out errors in my statements, and that this design was distinctly disavowed in the opening paragraph of your article. You further say, that your simple object was to answer the question "What is Christianity?" May I be permitted to ask why you addressed the letter to me, and why do you now pretend that, although you did address a letter to me, I was not in your mind, and that you had no intention of pointing out any flaws in my doctrines or theories? Can you afford to occupy this position? You also stated in your own paper, The Christian Union, that the title of your article had been changed by the editor of the Review, without your knowledge or consent; leaving it to be inferred that the title given to the article by you was perfectly consistent with your statement, that it was no part or your design in the article in the North American Review, to point out errors in my (Ingersoll's) statements; and that your simple object was to answer the question, What is Christianity? And yet, the title which you gave your own article was as follows: "To Robert G. Ingersoll: A Reply." Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 1 REPLY TO DR. LYMAN ABBOTT. First. We are told that only twelve crimes were punished by death: idolatry, witchcraft, blasphemy, fraudulent prophesying, Sabbath-breaking, rebellion against parents, resistance to judicial officers, murder, homicide by negligence, adultery, incestuous marriages, and kidnapping. We are then told that as late as the year 1600 there were 263 crimes capital in England. Does not the world know that all the crimes or offenses punishable by death in England could be divided in the same way? For instance, treason. This covered a multitude of offenses, all punishable by death. Larceny covered another multitude. Perjury -- trespass, covered many others. There might still be made a smaller division, and one who had made up his mind to define the Criminal Code of England might have said that there was only one offence punishable by death -- wrong-doing. The facts with regard to the Criminal Code of england are, that up to the reign of George I. there were 167 offenses punishable by death. Between the accession of George I. and termination of the reign of George III., there were added 56 new crimes to which capital punishment was attached. So that when George IV. became king, there were 223 offenses capital in England. John Bright, commenting upon this subject, says: "During all these years, so far as this question goes, our Government was becoming more cruel and more barbarous, and we do not find, and have not found, that in the great Church of England, with its fifteen or twenty thousand ministers, and with its more than score of Bishops in the House of Lords, there ever was a voice raised, or an organization formed, in favor of a more merciful code, or in condemnation of the enormous cruelties which our law was continually inflicting. Was not Voltaire justified in saying that the English were the only people who murdered by law?" As a matter of fact, taking into consideration the situation of the people, the number of subjects covered by law, there were far more offenses capital in the days of Moses, than in the reign of George IV. Is it possible that a minister, a theologian of the nineteenth century, imagines that he has substantiated the divine origin of the Old Testament by endeavoring to show that the government of God was not quite as bad as that of England? Mr. Abbott also informs us that the reason Moses killed so many was, that banishment from the camp during the wandering in the Wilderness was a punishment worse than death. If so, the poor wretches should at least have been given their choice. Few, in my judgment, would have chosen death, because the history shows that a large majority were continually clamoring to be led back to Egypt. It required all the cunning and power of God to keep the fugitives from returning in a body. Many were killed by Jehovah, simply because they wished to leave the camp -- because they longed passionately for banishment, and thought with joy of the flesh-pots of Egypt, preferring the slavery of Pharaoh to the liberty of Jehovah. The memory of leeks and onions was enough to set their faces toward the Nile. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 2 REPLY TO DR. LYMAN ABBOTT. Second. I am charged with saying that the Christian missionaries say to the heathen: "You must examine your religion -- and not only so, but you must reject it; and unless you do reject it, and in addition to such rejection, adopt ours, you will be eternally damned." Mr, Abbott denies the truth of this statement. Let me ask him, If the religion of Jesus Christ is preached clearly and distinctly to a heathen, and the heathen understands it, and rejects it deliberately, unequivocally and finally, can he be saved? This question is capable of a direct answer. The reverend gentleman now admits that an acceptance of Christianity is not essential to salvation. If the acceptance of Christianity is not essential to the salvation of the heathen who has heard Christianity preached -- knows what its claims are, and the evidences that support those claims, is the acceptance of Christianity essential to the salvation of an adult intelligent citizen of the United States? Will the reverend gentleman tell us, and without circumlocution, whether the acceptance of Christianity is necessary to the salvation of anybody? If he says that it is, then he admits that I was right in my statement concerning what is said to the heathen. If he says that it is not, then I ask him, What do you do with the following passages of Scripture: "There is none other name given under heaven or among men whereby we must be saved." "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature, and whosoever believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; and whosoever believeth not shall be damned"? I am delighted to know that millions of Pagans will be found to have entered into eternal life without any knowledge of Christ or his religion. Another question naturally arises: If a heathen can hear and reject the Gospel, and yet be saved, what will become of the heathen who never heard of the Gospel? Are they all to be saved? If all who never heard are to be saved, is it not dangerous to hear? -- Is it not cruel to preach? Why not stop preaching and let the entire world become heathen, so that after this, no soul may be lost? Third. You say that I desire to deprive mankind of their faith in God, in Christ and in the Bible. I do not, and have not, endeavored to destroy the faith of any man in a good, in a just, in a merciful God, or in a reasonable, natural, human Christ, or in any truth that the Bible may contain. I have endeavored -- and with some degree of success -- to destroy the faith of man in the Jehovah of the Jews, and in the idea that Christ was in fact the God of this universe. I have also endeavored to show that there are many things in the Bible ignorant and cruel -- that the book was produced by barbarians and by savages, and that its influence on the world has been bad. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 3 REPLY TO DR. LYMAN ABBOTT. And I do believe that life and property will be safer, that liberty will be surer, that homes will be sweeter, and life will be more joyous, and death less terrible, if the myth called Jehovah can be destroyed from the human mind. It seems to me that the heart of the Christian ought to burst into an efflorescence of joy when he becomes satisfied that the Bible is only the work of man; that there is no such place as perdition -- that there are no eternal flames -- that men's souls are not to suffer everlasting pain -- that it is all insanity and ignorance and fear and horror. I should think that every good and tender soul would be delighted to know that there is no Christ who can say to any human being -- to any father, mother, or child -- "Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels." I do believe that he will be far happier when the Psalms of David are sung no more, and that he will be far better when no one could sing the 109th Psalm without shuddering and horror. These Psalms for the most part breathe the spirit of hatred, of revenge, and of everything fiendish in the human heart. There are some good lines, some lofty aspirations -- these should be preserved; and to the extent that they do give voice to the higher and holier emotions, they should be preserved. So I believe the world will be happier when the life of Christ, as it is written now in the New Testament, is no longer believed. Some of the Ten Commandments will fall into oblivion, and the world will be far happier when they do. Most of these commandments are universal. They were not discovered by Jehovah -- they were not original with him. "Thou shalt not kill," is as old as life. And for this reason a large majority of people in all countries have objected to being murdered. "Thou shalt not steal," is as old as industry. There never has been a human being who was willing to work through the sun and rain and heat of summer, simply for the purpose that some one who had lived in idleness might steal the result of his labor. Consequently, in all countries where it has been necessary to work, larceny has been a crime. "Thou shalt not lie,' is as old as speech. Men have desired, as a rule, to know the truth; and truth goes with courage and candor. "Thou shalt not commit adultery," is as old as love. "Honor thy father and thy mother," is as old as the family relation. All these commandments were known among all peoples thousands and thousands of years before Moses was born. The new one, "Thou shalt worship no other Gods but me," is a bad commandment -- because that God was not worthy of worship. "Thou shalt make no graven image," -- a bad commandment. It was the death of art. "Thou shalt do no work on the Sabbath-day," -- a bad commandment; the object of that being, that one-seventh of the time should be given to the worship of a monster, making a priesthood necessary, and consequently burdening industry with the idle and useless. If Professor Clifford felt lonely at the loss of such a companion as Jehovah, it is impossible for me to sympathize with his feelings. No one wishes to destroy the hope of another life -- no one wishes to blot out any good that is or that is hoped for, or Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 4 REPLY TO DR. LYMAN ABBOTT. the hope of which gives consolation to the world. Neither do I agree with this gentleman when he says, "Let us have the truth, cost what it may." I say: Let us have happiness -- well-being. The truth upon these matters is of but little importance compared with the happiness of mankind, Whether there is, or is not, a God, is absolutely unimportant, compared with the well-being of the race. Whether the Bible is, or is not, inspired, is not of as much consequence as human happiness. Of course, if the Old and New Testaments are true, then human happiness becomes impossible, either in this world, or in the world to come -- that is, impossible to all people who really believe that these books are true. It is often necessary to know the truth, in order to prepare ourselves to bear consequences; but in the metaphysical world, truth is of no possible importance except as it affects human happiness. If there be a God, he certainly will hold us to no stricter responsibility about metaphysical truth than about scientific truth. It ought to be just as dangerous to make a mistake in Geology as in Theology -- in Astronomy as in the question of the Atonement. I am not endeavoring to overthrow any faith in God, but the faith in a bad God. And in order to accomplish this, I have endeavored to show that the question of whether an Infinite God exists, or not, is beyond the power of the human mind. Anything is better than to believe in the God of the Bible. Fourth. Mr. Abbott, like the rest, appeals to names instead of to arguments. He appeals to Socrates, and yet he does not agree with Socrates. He appeals to Goethe, and yet Goethe was far from a Christian. He appeals to Isaac Newton and to Mr. Gladstone -- and after mentioning these names, says, that on his side is this faith of the wisest, the best, the noblest of mankind. Was Socrates after all greater than Epicures -- had he a subtler mind -- was he any nobler in his life? Was Isaac Newton so much greater than Humboldt -- than Charles Darwin, who has revolutionized the thought of the civilized world? Did he do the one-hundredth part of the good for mankind that was done by Voltaire -- was he as great a metaphysician as Spinoza? But why should we appeal to names? In a contest between Protestantism and Catholicism are you willing to abide by the tests of names? In a contest between Christianity and Paganism, in the first century, would you have considered the question settled by names? Had Christianity then produced the equals of the great Greeks and Romans? The new can always be overwhelmed with names that were in favor of the old. Sir Isaac Newton, in his day, could have been overwhelmed by the names of the great who had preceded him. Christ was overwhelmed by this same method -- Moses and the Prophets were appealed to as against this Peasant of Palestine. This is the argument of the cemetery -- this is leaving the open field, and crawling behind gravestones. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 5 REPLY TO DR. LYMAN ABBOTT. Newton was understood to be, all his life, a believer in the Trinity; but he dared not say what his real thought was. After his death there was found among his papers an argument that he published against the divinity of Christ. This had been published in Holland, because he was afraid to have it published in England. How do we really know what the great men of whom you speak believed, or believe? I do not agree with you when you say that Gladstone is the greatest statesman. He will not, in my judgment, for one moment compare with Thomas Jefferson -- with Alexander Hamilton -- or, to come down to later times, with Gambetta; and he is immeasurably below such a man as Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was not a believer. Gambetta was an atheist. And yet, these names prove nothing. Instead of citing a name, and saying that this great man -- Sir Isaac Newton, for instance -- believed in our doctrine, it is far better to give the reasons that Sir Isaac Newton had for his belief. Nearly all organizations are filled with snobbishness. each church has a list of great names, and the members feel in duty bound to stand by their great men. Why is idolatry the worst of sins? Is it not far better to worship a God of stone than a God who threatens to punish in eternal flames the most of his children? If you simply mean by idolatry a false conception of God, you must admit that no finite mind can have a true conception of God -- and you must admit that no two men can have the same false conception of God, and that:, as a consequence, no two men can worship identically the same Deity. Consequently they are all idolaters. I do not think idolatry the worst of sins. Cruelty is the worst of sins. It is far better to worship a false God, than to injure your neighbor -- far better to bow before a monstrosity of stone, than to enslave your fellow-men. Fifth. I am glad that you admit that a bad God is worse than no God. If so, the atheist is far better than the believer in Jehovah, and far better than the believer in the divinity of Jesus Christ -- because I am perfectly satisfied that none but a bad God would threaten to say to any human soul, "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." So that, before any Christian can he better than an atheist, he must reform his God. The agnostic does not simply say, "I do not know." He goes another step, and he says, with great emphasis that you do not know. He insists that you are trading on the ignorance of others, and on the fear of others. He is not satisfied with saying that you do not know, -- he demonstrates that you do not know, and he drives you from the field of fact -- he drives you from the realm of reason -- he drives you from the light, into the darkness of conjecture -- into the world of dreams and shadows, and he compels you to say, at last, that your faith has no foundation in fact. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 6 REPLY TO DR. LYMAN ABBOTT. You say that religion tells us that "life is a battle with temptation -- the result is eternal life to the victors." But what of the victims? Did your God create these victims, knowing that they would be victims? Did he deliberately change the clay into the man -- into a being with wants, surrounded by difficulties and temptations -- and did he deliberately surmount this being with temptations that he knew he could not withstand, with obstacles that he knew he could not overcome, and whom he knew at last would fall a victim upon the field of death? Is there no hope for this victim? No remedy for this mistake of your God? Is he to remain a victim forever? Is it not better to have no God than such a God? Could the condition of this victim be rendered worse by the death of God? Sixth. Of course I agree with you when you say that character is worth more than condition -- that life is worth more than place. But I do not agree with you when you say that being -- that simple existence -- is better than happiness. If a man is not happy, it is far better not to be. I utterly dissent from your philosophy of life. From my standpoint, I do not understand you when you talk about self-denial. I can imagine a being of such character, that certain things he would do for the one he loved, would by others be regarded as acts of self-denial, but they could not be so regarded by him. In these acts of so-called self-denial, he would find his highest joy. This pretence that to do right is to carry a cross, has done an immense amount of injury to the world. Only those who do wrong carry a cross. To do wrong is the only possible self-denial. The pulpit has always been saying that, although the virtuous and good, the kind, the tender, and the loving, may have a very bad time here, yet they will have their reward in heaven -- having denied themselves the pleasures of sin, the ecstasies of crime, they will be made happy in a world hereafter; but that the wicked, who have enjoyed larceny, and rascality in all its forms, will be punished hereafter. All this rests upon the idea that man should sacrifice himself, not for his fellow-men, but for God -- that he should do something for the Almighty -- that he should go hungry to increase the happiness of heaven -- that he should make a journey to Our Lady of Loretto, with dried peas in his shoes; that he should refuse to eat meat on Friday; that he should say so many prayers before retiring to rest; that he should do something that he hated to do, in order that he might win the approbation of the heavenly powers. For my part, I think it much better to feed the hungry, than to starve yourself. You ask me, What is Christianity? You then proceed to partially answer your own question, and you pick out what you consider the best, and call that Christianity. But you have given only one side, and that side not all of it good. Why did you not give the other side of Christianity -- the side that talks of eternal flames, of the worm that dieth not -- the side that denounces the investigator and the thinker -- the side that Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 7 REPLY TO DR. LYMAN ABBOTT. promises an eternal reward for credulity -- the side that tells men to take no thought for the morrow but to trust absolutely in a Divine Providence? "Within thirty years after the crucifixion of Jesus, faith in his resurrection had become the inspiration of the church." I ask you, Was there a resurrection? What advance has been made in what you are pleased to call the doctrine of the brotherhood of man, through the instrumentality of the church? Was then as much dread of God among the Pagans as there has been among Christians? I do not believe that the church is a conservator of civilization. It sells crime on credit. I do not believe it is an educator of good will, It has caused more war than all other causes. Neither is it a school of a nobler reverence and faith. The church has not turned the minds of men toward principles of justice, mercy and truth -- it has destroyed the foundation of justice. It does not minister comfort at the coffin -- it fills the mourners with fear. It has never preached a gospel of "Peace on Earth" -- it has never preached "Good Will toward men." For my part, I do not agree with you when you say that: "The most stalwart anti-Romanist can hardly question that with the Roman Catholic Church abolished by instantaneous decree, its priests banished and its churches closed, the disaster to American communities would be simply awful in its proportions, if not irretrievable in its results." I may agree with you in this, that the most stalwart anti-Romanist would not wish to have the Roman Catholic Church abolished by tyranny, and its priests banished, and its churches closed. But if the abolition of that church could be produced by the development of the human mind; and if its priests, instead of being banished, should become good and useful citizens, and were in favor of absolute liberty of mind, then I say that there would be no disaster, but a very wide and great and splendid blessing. The church has been the Centaur -- not Theses; the church has not been Hercules, but the serpent. So I believe that there is something far nobler than loyalty to any particular man. Loyalty to the truth as we perceive it -- loyalty to our duty as we know it -- loyalty to the ideals of our brain and heart -- is, to my mind, far greater and far nobler than loyalty to the life of any particular man or God. There is a kind of slavery -- a kind of abdication -- for any man to take any other man as his absolute pattern and to hold him up as the perfection of all life, and to feel that it is his duty to grovel in the dust in his presence. It is better to feel that the springs of action are within yourself -- that you are poised upon your own feet -- and that you look at the world with your own eyes, and follow the path that reason shows. I do not believe that the world could be re-organized upon the simple but radical principles of the Sermon on the Mount. Neither do I believe that this sermon was ever delivered by one man. It has Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 8 REPLY TO DR. LYMAN ABBOTT. in it many fragments that I imagine were dropped from many mouths. It lacks coherence -- it lacks form. Some of the sayings are beautiful, sublime and tender; and others seem to be weak, contradictory and childish. Seventh. I do not say that I do not know whether this faith is true, or not. I say distinctly and clearly, that I know it is not true. I admit that I do not know whether there is any infinite personality or not, because I do not know that my mind is an absolute standard. But according to my mind, there is no such personality; and according to my mind, it is an infinite absurdity to suppose that there is such an infinite personality. But I do know something of human nature; I do know a little of the history of mankind; and I know enough to know that what is known as the Christian faith, is not true. I am perfectly satisfied, beyond all doubt and beyond all peradventure, that all miracles are falsehoods. I know as well as I know that I live -- that others live -- that what you call your faith, is not true. I am glad, however, that yon admit that the miracles of the Old Testament, or the inspiration of the Old Testament, are not essentials. I draw my conclusion from what you say: "I have not in this paper discussed the miracles, or the inspiration of the Old Testament; partly because those topics, in my opinion, occupy a subordinate position in Christian faith, and I wish to consider only essentials." At the same time, you tell us that, "On historical evidence, and after a careful study of the arguments on both sides, I regard as historical the events narrated in the four Gospels, ordinarily regarded as miracles." At the same time, you say that you fully agree with me that the order of nature has never been violated or interrupted. In other words, you must believe that all these so-called miracles were actually in accordance with the laws, or facts rather, in nature. Eighth, You wonder that I could write the following: "To me there is nothing of any particular value in the Pentateuch. There is not, so far as I know, a line in the Book of Genesis calculated to make a human being better." You then call my attention to "The magnificent Psalm of Praise to the Creator with which Genesis opens; to the beautiful legend of the first sin and its fateful consequences; the inspiring story of Abraham -- the first self- exile for conscience sake; the romantic story of Joseph the Peasant boy becoming a Prince," which you say "would have attraction for any one if he could have found a charm in, for example, the Legends of the Round Table." The "magnificent Psalm of Praise to the Creator with which Genesis opens" is filled with magnificent mistakes, and is utterly absurd. "The beautiful legend of the first sin and its fateful consequences" is probably the most contemptible story that was ever written, and the treatment of the first pair by Jehovah is unparalleled in the cruelty of despotic governments. According to this infamous account, God cursed the mothers of the world, and added to the agonies of maternity. Not only so, but he made woman a slave, and man something, if possible, meaner -- a master. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 9 REPLY TO DR. LYMAN ABBOTT. I must confess that I have very little admiration for Abraham. (Give reasons.) So far as Joseph is concerned, let me give you the history of Joseph, -- how he conspired with Pharaoh to enslave the people of Egypt. You seem to be astonished that I am not in love with the character of Joseph, as pictured in the Bible. Let me tell you who Joseph was. It seems, from the account, that Pharaoh had a dream. None of his wise men could give its meaning. He applied to Joseph, and Joseph, having been enlightened by Jehovah, gave the meaning of the dream to Pharaoh. He told the king that there would be in Egypt seven years of great plenty, and after these seven years of great plenty, there would be seven years of famine, and that the famine would consume the land. Thereupon Joseph gave to Pharaoh some advice. First, he was to take up a fifth part of the land of Egypt, in the seven plenteous years -- he was to gather all the food of those good years. and lay up corn, and he was to keep this food in the cities. This food was to be a store to the land against the seven years of famine. And thereupon Pharaoh said unto Joseph, "Forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See I have set thee over all the land of Egypt." We are further informed by the holy writer, that in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls, and that Joseph gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities, and that he gathered corn as the sand of the sea. This was done through the seven plenteous years. Then commenced the years of dearth. Then the people of Egypt became hungry, and they cried to Pharaoh for bread, and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph. The famine was over all the face of the earth, and Joseph opened the store- houses, and sold unto the Egyptians, and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt. There was no bread in the land, and Egypt fainted by reason of the famine. And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, by the sale of corn, and brought the money to Pharaoh's house. After a time the money failed in the land of Egypt, and the Egyptians came unto Joseph and said, "Give us bread; why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth." And Joseph said, "Give your cattle, and I will give you for your cattle." And they brought their cattle unto Joseph, and he gave them bread in exchange for horses and flocks and herds, and he fed them with bread for all their cattle for that year. When the year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and said, "Our money is spent, our cattle are gone, naught is left but our bodies and our lands." And they said to Joseph, "Buy us, and our land, for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh; and give us seed that we may live and not die, that the land be not desolate." And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them. So the land became Pharaoh's. Then Joseph said Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 10 REPLY TO DR. LYMAN ABBOTT. to the people, "I have bought you this day, and your land; lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land." And thereupon the people said, "Thou hast saved our lives; we will be Pharaoh's servants." "And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth part, except the land of the priests only, which became not Pharaoh's." Yet I am asked, by a minister of the nineteenth century, whether it is possible that I do not admire the character of Joseph. This man received information from God -- and gave that information to Pharaoh, to the end that he might impoverish and enslave a nation. This man, by means of intelligence received from Jehovah, took from the people what they had, and compelled them at last to sell themselves, their wives and their children, and to become in fact bondmen forever. Yet I am asked by the successor of Henry Ward Beecher, if I do not admire the infamous wretch who was guilty of the greatest crime recorded in the literature of the world. So, it is difficult for me to understand why you speak of Abraham as "a self-exile for conscience sake." If the king of England had told one of his favorites that if he would go to North America he would give him a territory hundreds of miles square, and would defend him in its possession. and that he there might build up an empire, and the favorite believed the king, and went, would you call him "a self-exile for conscience sake"? According to the story in the Bible, the Lord promised Abraham that if he would leave his country and kindred, he would make of him a great nation, would bless him, and make his name great, that he would bless them that blessed Abraham, and that he would curse him whom Abraham cursed; and further, that in him all the families of the earth should be blest. If this is true, would you call Abraham "a self-exile for conscience sake"? If Abraham had only known that the Lord was not to keep his promise, he probably would have remained where he was -- the fact being, that every promise made by the Lord to Abraham, was broken. Do you think that Abraham was "a self-exile for conscience sake" when he told Sarah, his wife, to say that she was his sister -- in consequence of which she was taken into Pharaoh's house, and by reason of which Pharaoh made presents of sheep and oxen and man servants and maid servants to Abraham? What would you call such a proceeding now? What would you think of a man who was willing that his wife should become the mistress of the king, provided the king would make him presents? Was it for conscience sake that the same subterfuge was adopted again, when Abraham said to Abimelech, the King of Gerar, She is my sister -- in consequence of which Abimelech sent for Sarah and took her? Mr. Ingersoll having been called to Montana, as counsel in a long and important law suit, never finished this article. END **** **** Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 11 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. 1890 ________ This fragment (found among Col. Ingersoll's papers) is a mere outline of a contemplated answer to Archdeacon Farrar's article in the North American Review, May, 1890, entitled: "A Few Words on Col. Ingersoll." ________ Archdeacon Farrar, in the opening of his article, in a burst of confidence, takes occasion to let the world know how perfectly angelic he intends to be. He publicly proclaims that he can criticize the arguments of one with whom he disagrees, without resorting to invective, or becoming discourteous. Does he call attention to this because most theologians are hateful and ungentlemanly? Is it a rare thing for the pious to be candid? Why should an Archdeacon be cruel, or even ill-bred? Yet, in the very beginning, the Archdeacon in effect says: Behold, I show you a mystery -- a Christian who can write about an infidel, without invective and without brutality. Is it then so difficult for those who love their enemies to keep within the bounds of decency when speaking of unbelievers who have never injured them? As a matter of fact, I was somewhat surprised when I read the proclamation to the effect that the writer was not to use invective, and was to be guilty of no discourtesy; but on reading the article, and finding that he had failed to keep his promise, I was not surprised. It is an old habit with theologians to beat the living with the bones of the dead. The arguments that cannot be answered provoke epithet. I. Archdeacon Farrar criticizes several of my statements: The same rules or laws of probability must govern in religious questions as in others. This apparently self-evident statement seems to excite almost the ire of this Archdeacon, and for the purpose of showing that it is not true, he states, first, that "the first postulate of revelation is that it appeals to man's spirit;" second, that "the spirit is a sphere of being which transcends the spheres of the senses and the understanding;" third, that "if a man denies the existence of a spiritual intuition, he is like a blind man criticizing colors, or a deaf man critici harmonies;" fourth, that "revelation must be judged by its own criteria;" and fifth, that "St. Paul draws a marked distinction between the spirit of the world and the spirit which is of God," and that the same Saint said that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually discerned." Let us answer these objections in their order. 1. "The first postulate of revelation is that it appeals to man's spirit." What does the Archdeacon mean by "spirit"? A man Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 12 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. says that he has received a revelation from God, and he wishes to convince another man that he has received a revelation -- how does he proceed? Does he appeal to the man's reason? Will he tell him the circumstances under which he received the revelation? Will he tell him why he is convinced that it was from God? Will the Archdeacon be kind enough to tell how the spirit can be approached passing by the reason, the understanding, the judgment and the intellect? If the Archdeacon replies that the revelation itself will bear the evidence within itself, what then, I ask, does he mean by the word "evidence"? Evidence about what? Is it such evidence as satisfies the intelligence, convinces the reason, and is it in conformity with the known facts of the mind? It may be said by the Archdeacon that anything that satisfies what he is pleased to call the spirit, that furnishes what it seems by nature to require, is of supernatural origin. We hear music, and this music seems to satisfy the desire for harmony -- still, no one argues, from that fact, that music is of supernatural origin. It may satisfy a want in the brain -- a want unknown until the music was heard -- and yet we all agree in saying that music has been naturally produced, and no one claims that Beethoven, or Wagner, was inspired by God. The same may be said of things that satisfy the palate -- of statues, of paintings, that reveal to him who looks, the existence of that of which before that time he had not even dreamed, Why is it that we love color -- that we are pleased with harmonies, or with a succession of sounds rising and falling at measured intervals? No one would answer this question by saying that sculptors and painters and musicians were divinely inspired; neither would they say that the first postulate of art is that it appeals to man's spirit, and for that reason the rules or laws of probability have nothing to do with the question of art. 2. That "the spirit is a sphere of being which transcends the spheres of the senses and the understanding." Let us imagine a man without senses. He cannot feel, see, hear, taste, or smell. What is he? Would it be possible for him to have an idea? Would such a man have a spirit to which revelation could appeal, or would there be locked in the dungeon of his brain a spirit, that is to say, a "sphere of being which transcends the spheres of the senses and the understanding"? Admit that in the person supposed, the machinery of life goes on -- what is he more than an inanimate machine? 3. That "if a man denies the very existence of a spiritual intuition, he is like a blind man critici colors, or a deaf man critici harmonies." What do you mean by "spiritual intuition"? When did this "spiritual intuition" become the property of man -- before, or after, birth? Is it of supernatural, or miraculous, origin, and is it possible that this "spiritual intuition" is independent of the man? Is it based upon experience? Was it in any way born of the senses, or of the effect of nature upon the brain -- that is to say, of things seen, or heard, or touched? Is "spiritual intuition" an entity? If man can exist without the "spiritual intuition," do you insist that the "spiritual intuition" can exist without the man? Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 13 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. You may remember that Mr. Locke frequently remarked: "Define your terms." It is to be regretted that in the hurry of writing your article, you forgot to give an explanation of "spiritual intuition." I will also take the liberty of asking you how a blind man could critici colors, and how a deaf man could critici harmonies. Possibly you may Imagine that "spiritual intuition" can take cognizance of colors, as well as of harmonies. Let me ask: Why cannot a blind man critici colors? Let me answer: For the same reason that Archdeacon Farrar can tell us nothing about an infinite personality. 4. That "revelation must be judged by its own criteria." Suppose the Bible had taught that selfishness, larceny and murder were virtues; would you deny its inspiration? Would not your denial be based upon a conclusion that had been reached by your reason that no intelligent being could have been its author -- that no good being could, by any possibility, uphold the commission of such crimes? In that case would you be guided by "spiritual intuition," or by your reason? When we examine the claims of a history -- as, for instance, a history of England, or of America, are we to decide according to "spiritual intuition," or in accordance with the laws or rules of probability? Is there a different standard for a history written in Hebrew, several thousand years ago, and one written in English in the nineteenth century? If a history should now be written in England, in which the most miraculous and impossible things should be related as facts, and if I should deny these alleged facts, would you consider that the author had overcome my denial by saying, "history must be judged by its own criteria"? 5. That "the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The Archdeacon admits that the natural man cannot know the things of the spirit, because they are not naturally, but spiritually, discerned. On the next page we are told, that "the truths which Agnostics repudiate have been, and are, acknowledged by all except a fraction of the human race." It goes without saying that a large majority of the human race are natural; consequently, the statement of the Archdeacon contradicts the statement of St. Paul. The Archdeacon insists that all except a fraction of the human race acknowledge the truths which Agnostics repudiate, and they must acknowledge them because they are by them spiritually discerned; and yet, St. Paul says that this is impossible, and insists that "the natural man cannot know the things of the spirit of God, because they are spiritually discerned." There is only one way to harmonize the statement of the Archdeacon and the Saint, and that is, by saying that nearly all of the human race are unnatural, and that only a small fraction are natural, and that the small fraction of men who are natural, are Agnostics, and only those who accept what the Archdeacon calls "truths" are unnatural to such a degree that they can discern spiritual things. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 14 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. Upon this subject, the last things to which the Archdeacon appeals, are the very things that he, at first, utterly repudiated. He asks, "Are we contemptuously to reject the witness of innumerable multitudes of the good and wise, that -- with a spiritual reality more convincing to them than the material evidences which converted the apostles -- they have seen, and heard, and their hands have handled the "Word of Life"? Thus at last the Archdeacon appeals to the evidences of the senses. II. The Archdeacon then proceeds to attack the following statement: There is no subject, and can be none, concerning which any human being is under any obligation to believe without evidence. One would suppose that it would be impossible to formulate an objection to this statement. What is or is not evidence, depends upon the mind to which it is presented. There is no possible "insinuation" in this statement, one way or the other. There is nothing sinister in it, any more than there would be in the statement that twice five are ten. How did it happen to occur to the Archdeacon that when I spoke of believing without evidence, I referred to all people who believe in the existence of a God, and that I intended to say "that one-third of the world's inhabitants had embraced the faith of Christians without evidence"? Certain things may convince one mind and utterly fail to convince others. Undoubtedly the persons who have believed in the dogmas of Christianity have had what was sufficient evidence for them. All I said was, that "there is no subject, and can be none, concerning which any human being is under any obligation to believe without evidence." Does the Archdeacon insist that there is an obligation resting on any human mind to believe without evidence? Is he willing to go a step further and say that there is an obligation resting upon the minds of men to believe contrary to evidence? If one is under obligation to believe without evidence, it is just as reasonable to say that he is under obligation to believe in spite of evidence. What does the word "evidence" mean? A man in whose honesty I have great confidence, tells me that he saw a dead man raised to life, I do not believe him. Why? His statement is not evidence to my mind. Why? Because it contradicts all of my experience, and, as I believe, the experience of the intelligent world. No one pretends that "one-third of the world's inhabitants have embraced the faith of Christians without evidence" -- that is, that all Christians have embraced the faith without evidence. In the olden time, when hundreds of thousands of men were given their choice between being murdered and baptized, they generally accepted baptism -- probably they accepted Christianity without critically examining the evidence. Is it historically absurd that millions of people have believed in systems of religion without evidence? Thousands of millions have believed that Mohammed was a prophet of God. And not only so, but have believed in his miraculous power. Did they believe without evidence? Is it historically absurd to say that Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 15 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. Mohammedism is based upon mistake? What shall we say of the followers of Buddha, who far outnumber the followers of Christ? Have they believed without evidence? And is it historically absurd to say that our ancestors of a few hundred years ago were as credulous as the disciples of Buddha? Is it not true that the same gentlemen who believed thoroughly in all the miracles of the New Testament also believed the world to be flat, and were perfectly satisfied that the sun made its daily journey around the earth? Did they have any evidence? Is it historically absurd to say that they believed without evidence? III. Neither is there any intelligent being who can by any possi- bility be flattered by the exercise of ignorant credulity. The Archdeacon asks what I "gain by stigmatizing as ignorant credulity that inspired, inspiring, invincible conviction -- the formative principle of noble efforts and self-sacrificing lives, which at this moment, as during all the long millenniums of the past, has been held not only by the ignorant and the credulous, but by those whom all the ages have regarded as the ablest, the wisest, the most learned and the most gifted of mankind?" Does the Archdeacon deny that credulity is ignorant? In this connection, what does the word "credulity" mean? It means that condition or state of the mind in which the impossible, or the absurd, is accepted as true, Is not such credulity ignorant? Do we speak of wise credulity -- of intelligent credulity? We may say theological credulity, or Christian credulity, but certainly not intelligent credulity. Is the flattery of the ignorant and credulous -- the flattery being based upon that which ignorance and credulity have accepted -- acceptable to any intelligent being? Is it possible that we can flatter God by pretending to believe, or by believing, that which is repugnant to reason, that which upon examination is seen to he absurd? The Archdeacon admits that God cannot possibly be so flattered. If, then, he agrees with my statement, why endeavor to controvert it? IV. The man who without prejudice reads and understands the Old and New Testaments will cease to be an orthodox Christian. ________ The Archdeacon says that he cannot pretend to imagine what my definition of an orthodox Christian is. I will use his own language to express my definition. "By an orthodox Christian I mean one who believes what is commonly called the Apostles' Creed. I also believe that the essential doctrines of the church must be judged by her universal formulae, not by the opinions of this or that theologian, however eminent, or even of any number of theologians, unless the church has stamped them with the sanction of her formal and distinct acceptance." Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 16 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. This is the language of the Archdeacon himself, and I accept it as a definition of orthodoxy. With this definition in mind, I say that the man who without prejudice reads and understands the Old and New Testaments will cease to be an orthodox Christian. By "prejudice," I mean the tendencies and trends given to his mind by heredity, by education, by the facts and circumstances entering into the life of man. We know how children are poisoned in the cradle, how they are deformed in the Sunday School, how they are misled by the pulpit. And we know how numberless interests unite and conspire to prevent the individual soul from examining for itself. We know that nearly all rewards are in the hands of Superstition -- that she holds the sweet wreath, and that her hands lead the applause of what is called the civilized world. We know how many men give up their mental independence for the sake of pelf and power. We know the influence of mothers and fathers -- of Church and State -- of Faith and Fashion. All these influences produce in honest minds what may be known as prejudice, -- in other minds, what may be known as hypocrisy. It is hardly worth my while to speak of the merits of students of Holy Writ "who," the Archdeacon was polite enough to say, "know ten thousand times more of the Scriptures" than I do. This, to say the least of it, is a gratuitous assertion, and one that does not tend to throw the slightest ray of light on any matter in controversy. Neither is it true that it was my "point" to say that all people are prejudiced, merely because they believe in God; it was my point to say that no man can read the miracles of the Old Testament, without prejudice, and believe them; it was my point to say that no man can read many of the cruel and barbarous laws said to have been given by God himself, and yet believe, -- unless he was prejudiced, -- that these laws were divinely given. Neither do I believe that there is now beneath the cope of heaven an intelligent man, without prejudice, who believes in the inspiration of the Bible. The intelligent man who investigates the religion of any country, without fear and without prejudice, will not and cannot be a believer. In answering this statement the Archdeacon says: "Argal, every believer in any religion is either an incompetent idiot, or coward -- with a dash of prejudice." I hardly know what the gentleman means by an "incompetent idiot," as I know of no competent ones. It was not my intention to say that believers in religion are idiots or cowards. I did not mean, by using the word "fear," to say that persons actuated by fear are cowards. That was not in my mind. By "fear," I intended to convey that fear commonly called awe, or superstition, -- that is to say, fear of the supernatural, -- fear of the gods -- fear of punishment in another world -- fear of some Supreme Being; not feat of some other man -- not the fear that is branded with cowardice. And, of course, the Archdeacon perfectly understood my meaning; but it was necessary to give another meaning in order to make the appearance of an answer possible. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 17 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. By "prejudice," I mean that state of mind that accepts the false for the true. All prejudice is honest. And the probability is, that all men are more or less prejudiced on some subject. But on that account I do not call them "incompetent idiots, or cowards, with a dash of prejudice." I have no doubt that the Archdeacon himself believes that all Mohammedans are prejudiced, and that they are actuated more or less by fear, inculcated by their parents and by society at large. Neither have I any doubt that he regards all Catholics as prejudiced, and believes that they are governed more or less by fear. It is no answer to what I have said for the Archdeacon to say that "others have studied every form of religion with infinitely greater power than I have done." This is a personality that has nothing to do with the subject in hand. It is no argument to repeat a list of names. It is an old trick of the theologians to use names instead of arguments -- to appeal to persons instead of principles -- to rest their case upon the views of kings and nobles and others who pretend eminence in some department of human learning or ignorance, rather that on human knowledge. This is the argument of the old against the new, and on this appeal the old must of necessity have the advantage. When some man announces the discovery of a new truth, or of some great fact contrary to the opinions of the learned, it is easy to overwhelm him with names. There is but one name on his side -- that is to say, his own. All others who are living, and the dead, are on the other side. And if this argument is good, it ought to have ended all progress many thousands of years ago. If this argument is conclusive, the first man would have had freedom of opinion; the second man would have stood an equal chance; but if the third man differed from the other two, he would have been gone. Yet this is the argument of the church. They say to every man who advances something new: Are you greater than the dead? The man who is right is generally modest. Men in the wrong, as a rule, are arrogant; and arrogance is generally in the majority. The Archdeacon appeals to certain names to show that I am wrong. In order for this argument to be good -- that is to say, to be honest -- he should agree with all the opinions of the men whose names he gives. He shows, or endeavors to show, that I am wrong, because I do not agree with St. Augustine. Does the Archdeacon agree with St. Augustine? Does he now believe that the bones of a saint were taken to Hippo -- that being in the diocese of St. Augustine -- and that five corpses, having been touched with these bones, were raised to life? Does he believe that a demoniac, on being touched with one of these bones, was relieved of a multitude of devils, and that these devils then and there testified to the genuineness of the bones, not only, but told the hearers that the doctrine of the Trinity was true? Does the Archdeacon agree with St. Augustine that over seventy miracles were performed with these bones, and that in a neighboring town many hundreds of miracles were performed? Does he agree with St. Augustine in his estimate of women -- placing them on a par with beasts? I admit that St. Augustine had great influence with the people of his day -- but what people? I admit also that he was the founder Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 18 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. of the first begging brotherhood -- that he organized mendicancy -- and that he most cheerfully lived on the labor of others. If St. Augustine lived now he would be the inmate of an asylum. This same St. Augustine believed that the fire of hell was material -- that the body itself having influenced the soul to sin, would be burned forever, and that God by a perpetual miracle would save the body from being annihilated and devoured in those eternal flames. Let me ask the Archdeacon a question: Do you agree with St. Augustine? If you do not, do you claim to be a greater man? Is "your mole-hill higher than his Dhawalagiri"? Are you looking down upon him from the altitude of your own inferiority? Precisely the same could be said of St. Jerome. The Archdeacon appeals to Charlemagne, one of the great generals of the world -- a man who in his time shed rivers of blood, and who on one occasion massacred over four thousand helpless prisoners -- a Christian gentleman who had, I think, about nine wives, and was the supposed father of some twenty children. This same Charlemagne had laws against polygamy, and yet practiced it himself. Are we under the same obligation to share his vices as his views? It is wonderful how the church has always appealed to the so-called great -- how it has endeavored to get certificates from kings and queens, from successful soldiers and statesmen, to the truth of the Bible and the moral character of Christ! How the saints have crawled in the dust before the slayers of mankind! Think of proving the religion of love and forgiveness by Charlemagne and Napoleon! An appeal is also made to Roger Bacon, Yet this man attained all his eminence by going contrary to the opinions and teachings of the church. In his time, it was matter of congratulation that you knew nothing of secular things. He was a student of Nature, an investigator, and by the very construction of his mind was opposed to the methods of Catholicism. Copernicus was an astronomer, but he certainty did not get his astronomy from the church, nor from General Joshua, nor from the story of the Jewish king for whose benefit the sun was turned back in heaven ten degrees. Neither did Kepler find his three laws in the Sermon on the Mount, nor were they the utterances of Jehovah on Mount Sinai. He did not make his discoveries because he was a Christian; but in spite of that fact. As to Lord Bacon, let me ask, are you willing to accept his ideas? If not, why do you quote his name? Am I bound by the opinions of Bacon in matters of religion, and not in matters of science? Bacon denied the Copernican system, and died a believer in the Ptolemaic -- died believing that the earth is stationary and that the sun and stars move around it as a center, Do you agree with Bacon? If not, do you pretend that your mind is greater? Would it be fair for a believer in Bacon to denounce you as an egotist and charge you with "obstrepemusness" because you merely suggested that Mr. Bacon was a little off in his astronomical opinions? Do Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 19 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. you not see that you have furnished the cord for me to tie your hands behind you? I do not know how you ascertained that Shakespeare was what you call a believer. Substantially all that we know of Shakespeare is found in what we know as his "works" All else can be read in one minute. May I ask, how you know that Shakespeare was a believer? Do you prove it by the words he put in the mouths of his characters? If so, you can prove that he was anything, nothing, and everything. Have you literary bread to eat that I know not of? Whether Dante was, or was not, a Christian, I am not prepared to say. I have always admired him for one thing: he had the courage to see a pope in hell. Probably you are not prepared to agree with Milton -- especially in his opinion that marriage had better be by contract, for a limited time. And if you disagree with Milton on this point, do you thereby pretend to say that you could have written a better poem than Paradise Lost? So Newton is supposed to have been a Trinitarian. And yet it is said that, after his death, there was found an article, which had been published by him in Holland, against the dogma of the Trinity. After all, it is quite difficult to find out what the great men have believed. They have been actuated by so many unknown motives; they have wished for place; they have desired to be Archdeacons, Bishops, Cardinals, Popes; their material interests have sometimes interfered with the expression of their thoughts. Most of the men to whom you have alluded lived at a time when the world was controlled by what may be called a Christian mob -- when the expression of an honest thought would have cost the life of the one who expressed it -- when the followers of Christ were ready with sword and fagot to exterminate philosophy and liberty from the world. Is it possible that we are under any obligation to believe the Mosaic account of the Garden of Eden, or of the talking serpent, because "Whewell had an encyclopedic range of knowledge"? Must we believe that Joshua stopped the sun, because Faraday was "the most eminent man of science of his day"? Shall we believe the story of the fiery furnace, because "Mr, Spottiswoode was president of the Royal Society" -- had "rare mathematical genius" -- so rare that he was actually "buried in Westminster Abbey"? Shall we believe that Jonah spent three days and nights in the inside of a whale because "Professor Clark Maxwell's death was mourned by all"? Are we under any obligation to believe that an infinite God sent two she bears to tear forty children in pieces because they laughed at a prophet without hair? Must we believe this because "Sir Gabriel Stokes is the living president of the Royal Society, and a Churchman" besides? Are we bound to believe that Daniel spent one of the happiest evenings of his life in the lion's den, because "Sir William Dawson of Canada, two years ago, presided over the British Association"? And must we believe in the ten plagues of Egypt, including the lice, because "Professor Max Muller made an Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 20 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. eloquent plea in Westminster Abbey in favor of Christian missions"? Possibly he wanted missionaries to visit heathen lands so that they could see the difference for themselves between theory and practice, in what is known as the Christian religion. Must we believe the miracles of the New Testament -- the casting out of devils -- because "Lord Tennyson and Mr. Browning stand far above all other poets of this generation in England," or because "Longfellow, Holmes, and Lowell and Whittier" occupy the same position in America? Must we admit that devils entered into swine because "Bancroft and Parkman are the leading prose writers of America" -- which I take this occasion to deny? It is to be hoped that some time the Archdeacon will read that portion of Mr. Bancroft's history in which he gives the account of how the soldiers, commonly called Hessians, were raised by the British Government during the American Revolution. These poor wretches were sold at so much apiece. For every one that was killed, so much was paid, and for every one that was wounded a certain amount was given. Mr. Bancroft tells us that God was not satisfied with this business, and although he did not interfere in any way to save the poor soldiers, he did visit the petty tyrants who made the bargains with his wrath. I remember that as a punishment to one of these, his wife was induced to leave him; another one died a good many years afterwards; and several of them had exceedingly bad luck. After reading this philosophic dissertation on the dealings of Providence, I doubt if the Archdeacon will still remain of the opinion that Mr. Bancroft is one of the leading prose writers of America. If the Archdeacon will read a few of the sermons of Theodore Parker, and essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, if he will read the life of Voltaire by James Parton, he may change his opinion as to the great prose writers of America. My argument against miracles is answered by reference to "Dr. Lightfoot, a man of such immense learning that he became the equal of his successor Dr. Westcott." And when I say that there are errors and imperfections in the Bible, I am told that Dr. Westcott "investigated the Christian religion and its earliest documents au fond and was an orthodox believer." Of course the Archdeacon knows that no one now knows who wrote one of the books of the Bible. He knows that no one now lives who ever saw one of the original manuscripts, and that no one now lives who ever saw anybody who had seen anybody who had seen an original manuscript. VI. Is it possible for the human mind to conceive of an infinite personality? ________ The Archdeacon says that it is, and yet in the same article he quotes the following from Job: "Canst thou by searching find out God?" "It is as high as Heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than Hell; what canst thou know?" And immediately after making these Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 21 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. quotations, the Archdeacon takes the ground of the agnostic, and says, "with the wise ancient Rabbis, we learn to say, I do not know." It is impossible for me to say what any other human being cannot conceive; but I am absolutely certain that my mind cannot conceive of an infinite personality -- of an infinite Ego. Man is conscious of his individuality. Man has wants. A multitude of things in nature seems to work against him; and others seem to be favorable to him. There is conflict between him and nature, In the midst of this conflict he says "I." If man had no wants -- if there where no conflict between him and any other being, or any other thing, he could not say "I" -- that is to say, he could not be conscious of personality. Now, it seems to me that an infinite personality is a contradiction in terms. VII. The same line of argument applies to the next statement that is criticized by the Archdeacon: Can the human mind conceive a beginningless being? We know that there is such a thing as matter, but we do not know that there is a beginningless being. We say, or some say, that matter is eternal, because the human mind cannot conceive of its commencing. Now, if we knew of the existence of an Infinite Being, we could not conceive of his commencing. But we know of no such being. We do know of the existence of matter; and my mind is so, that I cannot conceive of that matter having been created by a beginningless being. I do not say that there is not a beginningless being, but I do not believe there is, and it is beyond my power to conceive of such a being. The Archdeacon also says that "space is quite as impossible to conceive as God." But nobody pretends to love space -- no one gives intention and will to space -- no one, so far as I know, builds altars or temples to space. Now, if God is as inconceivable as space, why should we pray to God? The Archdeacon, however, after quoting Sir William Hamilton as to the inconceivability of space as absolute or infinite, takes occasion to say that "space is an entity." May I be permitted to ask how he knows that space is an entity? As a matter of fact, the conception of infinite space is a necessity of the mind, the same as eternity is a necessity of the mind. VIII. The next sentence or statement to which the Archdeacon objects is as follows: He who cannot harmonize the cruelties of the Bible with the goodness of Jehovah, cannot harmonize the cruelties of Nature with Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 22 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. the goodness or wisdom of a supposed Deity. He will find it impossible to account for pestilence and famine, for earthquakes and storm, for slavery, and for the triumph of the strong over the week. One objection that he urges to this statement is that St. Paul had made a stronger one in the same direction. The Archdeacon however insists that "a world without a contingency, or an agony, could have had no hero and no saint," and that "science enables us to demonstrate that much of the apparent misery and anguish is transitory and even phantasmal; that many of the seeming forces of destruction are overruled to ends of beneficence; that most of man's disease and anguish is due to his own sin and folly and wilfulness." I will not say that these things have been said before, but I will say that they have been answered before. The idea that the world is a school in which character is formed and in which men are educated is very old. If, however, the world is a school, and there is trouble and misfortune, and the object is to create character -- that is to say, to produce heroes and saints -- then the question arises, what becomes of those who die in infancy? They are left without the means of education. Are they to remain forever without character? Or is there some other world of suffering and sorrow? Is it possible to form character in heaven? How did the angels become good? How do you account for the justice of God? Did he attain character through struggle and suffering? What would you say of a school teacher who should kill one-third of the children on the morning of the first day? And what can you say of God, -- if this world is a school, -- who allows a large per cent. of his children to die in infancy -- consequently without education -- therefore, without character? If the world is the result of infinite wisdom and goodness, why is the Christian Church engaged in endeavoring to make it better; or, rather, in an effort to change it? Why not leave it as an infinite God made it? Is it true that most of man's diseases are due to his own sin and folly and wilfulness? Is it not true that no matter how good men are they must die, and will they not die of diseases? Is it true that the wickedness of man has created the microbe? Is it possible that the sinfulness of man created the countless enemies of human life that lurk in air and water and food? Certainly the wickedness of man has had very little influence on tornadoes, earthquakes and floods. Is it true that "the signature of beauty with which God has stamped the visible world -- alike in the sky and on the earth -- alike in the majestic phenomena of an intelligent creation and in its humblest and most microscopic production -- is a perpetual proof that God is a God of love"? Let us see. The scientists tell us that there is a little microscopic animal, one who is very particular about his food -- so particular, that he prefers to all other things the optic nerve, and after he has succeeded in destroying that nerve and covering Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 23 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. the eye with the mask of blindness, he has intelligence enough to bore his way through the bones of the nose in search of the other optic nerve. Is it not somewhat difficult to discover "the signature of beauty with which God has stamped" this animal? For my part, I see but little beauty in poisonous serpents, in man-eating sharks, in crocodiles, in alligators. It would be impossible for me to gaze with admiration upon a cancer. Think, for a moment, of a God ingenious enough and good enough to feed a cancer with the quivering flesh of a human being, and to give for the sustenance of that cancer the life of a mother. It is well enough to speak of "the myriad voices of nature in their mirth and sweetness," and it is also well enough to think of the other side. The singing birds have a few notes of love -- the rest are all of warning and of fear. Nature, apparently with infinite care, produces a living thing, and at the same time is just as diligently at work creating another living thing to devour the first, and at the same time a third to devour the second, and so on around the great circle of life and death, of agony and joy -- tooth and claw, fang and tusk, hunger and rapine, massacre and murder, violence and vengeance and vice everywhere and through all time. [Here the manuscript ends, with the following notes.] SAYINGS FROM THE INDIAN. "The rain seems hardest when the Wigwam leaks." "When the tracks get too large and too numerous, the wise Indian says that He is hunting something else." "A little crook in the arrow makes a great miss." "A great Chief counts scalps, not hairs." "you cannot strengthen the bow by poisoNing the arrows." "No one saves water in a flood." ORIGIN. Origin considered that the punishment of the wicked consisted in separation from God. There was too much pity in his heart to believe in the flames of hell. But he was condemned as heretical by the Council of Carthage, A.D., 398, and afterwards by other councils. ST. AUGUSTINE. St. Augustine censures origin For his merciful view, and says: "The church, not without reason, condemned him for this error." He also held that hell was in the center of the earth, and that God supplied the center with perpetual fire by a miracle. DANTE. Dante is a wonderful mixture of melancholy and malice, of religion and revenge, and he represents himself as so pitiless that when he found his political opponents in hell, he struck their faces and pulled the hair of the tormented. AQUINAS. Aquinas believed the same. He was the loving gentleman who believed in the undying worm. 24


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