LITTLE BLUE BOOK NO. 1637
Edited by E. Haldeman-Julius
ABSURDITIES OF THE BIBLE
Why am I an agnostic? Because I don't believe some of the
things that other people say they believe. Where do you get your
religion, anyway? I won't bother to discuss just what religion is,
but I think a fair definition of religion could take account of two
things, at least, immortality and God, and that both of them are
based on some book, so practically all of it is a book.
As I have neither the time nor the learning to discuss every
religious book on earth, and as I live in Chicago, I am interested
in the Christian religion. So I will discuss the book that deals
with the Christian religion. Is the Bible the work of anything but
man? Of course, there is no such book as the Bible. The Bible to
made up of 66 books, some of them written by various authors at
various times, covering a period of about 1,000 years -- all the
literature that they could find over a period longer than the time
that has elapsed since the discovery of America down to the present
Is the Bible anything but a human book? Of course those who
are believers take both sides of it. If there is anything that
troubles them, "We don't believe this." Anything that doesn't
trouble them they do believe.
What about its accounts of the origin of the world? What about
its account of the first man and the first woman? Adam was the
first, made about less than 6,000 years ago. Well, of course, every
scientist knows that human beings have been on the earth at least
a half-million years, probably more. Adam got lonesome and they
made a companion for him. That was a good day's work -- or a day's
From Rib to Woman
They took a simple way to take one of Adam's ribs and cut it
out and make it into a woman, Now, is that story a fact or a myth?
How many preachers would say it was a myth? None! There are some
people who still occupy Christian pulpits who say it is, but they
used to send them to the stake for that.
If it isn't true then, what is? How much did they know about
science in those days, how much did they know about the heavens and
the earth? The earth was flat, or did God write that down, or did
the old Hebrew write it down because he didn't know any better and
nobody else then knew any better?
What was the heavens? The sun was made to light the day and
the moon to light the night. The sun was pulled out in the day time
and taken in at night and the moon was pulled across after the sun
was taken out. I don't know what they did in the dark of the moon.
They must have done something.
The stars, all there is about the stars, "the stars he made
also." They were just "also." Did the person who wrote that know
anything whatever about astronomy? Not a thing. They believed they
were just little things up in the heavens, in the firmament, just
a little way above the earth, about the size of a diamond in an
alderman's shirt stud. They always believed it until astronomers
came along and told them something different.
Adam and Eve were put in a garden where everything was lovely
and there were no weeds to hoe down. They were allowed to stay
there on one condition, and that is that they didn't eat of the
tree of knowledge. That has been the condition of the Christian
church from then until now. They haven't eaten as yet, as a rule
they do not.
They were expelled from the garden, Eve was tempted by the
snake who presumably spoke to her in Hebrew. And she fell for it
and of course Adam fell for it, and then they were driven out. How
many believe that story today?
If the Christian church doesn't believe it why doesn't it say
so? You do not find them saying that. If they do not believe it
here and there, someone says it. That is, he says it at great
danger to his immortal soul, to say nothing of his good standing in
The snake was cursed to go on his belly after that. How he
went before, the story doesn't say. And Adam was cursed to work.
That is why we have to work. That is, some of us -- not I.
And Eve and all of her daughters to the end of time were
condemned to bring forth children in pain and agony. Lovely God,
isn't it? Lovely?
Can't Believe Story
If that story was necessary to keep me out of hell and put me
in heaven -- necessary for my life -- I wouldn't believe it because
I couldn't believe it,
I do not think any God could have done it and I wouldn't
worship a God who would. It is contrary to every sense of justice
that we know anything about.
God had a great deal of trouble with the earth after he made
it. People were building a tower -- the Tower of Babylon -- so that
they could go up and peek over.
God didn't want them to do that and so confounded their
tongues. A man would call up for a pall of mortar and they would
send him up a tub of suds, or something like that. They couldn't
understand each other.
Is that true? How did they happen to right it? They found
there were various languages; and that is the origin of the
languages. Everybody knows better today.
Is that story true? Did God write it? He must have known; he
must have been all-knowing then as he is all-knowing now.
I do not need to mention them. You remember that joyride that
Balaam was taking on the ass. That was the only means of locomotion
they had besides walking. It is the only one pretty near that they
have now. Balaam wanted to get along too fast and he was beating
the ass and the ass turned around and asked him what he was doing
it for. In Hebrew, of course. It must have been in Hebrew for
Balaam was a Jew.
And Joshua Said to the Sun, "Stand Still."
Is that true or is it a story?
And Joshua; you remember about Joshua.
He was a great general. Very righteous and he was killing a
lot of people and he hadn't quite finished the job and so he turned
to the mountain top and said to the sun, "Stand still till I finish
this job," and it stood still.
Is that one of the true ones or one of the foolish ones?
There are several things that that does. It shows how little
they knew about the earth and day and night. Of course, they
thought that if the sun stood still it wouldn't be pulled along any
further and the night wouldn't come on. We know that if it had
stood still from that day to this it wouldn't have affected the day
or night; that is affected by the revolution of the earth on its
Is it true? Am I wicked because I know it cannot possibly be
true? Have you got to get rid of all your knowledge and all your
common sense to save your soul?
Wait until I am a little older; maybe I can then. But my
friend says that he doesn't believe those stories. They are
Are they figurative? Then what about the New Testament? Why
does he believe these stories?
Here was a child born of a virgin. What evidence is there?
'Twas the Fashion
What evidence? Do you suppose you could get any positive
evidence that would make anyone believe that story today or
anybody, no matter who it was?
Child, born of a virgin! There were at least four miraculous
births recorded in the Testament. There was Sarah's child, there
was Samson, there was John the Baptist, and there was Jesus.
Miraculous births were rather a fashionable thing in those days,
especially in Rome, where most of the theology was laid out.
Caesar had a miraculous birth, Cicero, Alexander from
Macedonia -- nobody was in style or great unless he had a
miraculous birth. It was a land of miracles.
What evidence is there of it? How much evidence would it
require for intelligent people to believe such a story? It wouldn't
be possible to bring evidence anywhere in this civilized land
today, right under your own noses. Nobody would believe it anyway,
and yet some people say that you must believe that without a
scintilla of evidence of any sort.
Jesus had brothers and sisters older than Himself. His
genealogy by Matthew is traced to his father, Joseph, in the first
chapter of Matthew. Read that. What did he do?
Well, now, probably some of his teachings were good. We have
heard about the Sermon on the Mount. There isn't a single word
contained in the Sermon on the Mount that isn't contained in what
is called the Sacred Book of the Jews, long before He lived -- not
one single thing.
Jesus was an excellent student of Jewish theology, as anybody
can tell by reading the Gospels; every bit of it was taken from
their books of authority, and He simply said what He had heard of
for years and years.
But let's look at some things charged to Him. He walked on the
water. Now how does that sound? Do you suppose Jesus walked on the
water? Joe Smith tried it when he established the Mormon religion.
What evidence have you of that?
He found some of His disciples fishing and they hadn't gotten
a bite all day. Jesus said, "Cast your nets down there," and they
drew them in full of fish. The East Indians couldn't do better than
that. What evidence is there of it?
He was at a performance where there were 5,000 people and they
were out of food, and He asked them how much they had; five loaves
and three fishes, or three fishes and five loaves, or something
like that, and He made the five loaves and three fishes feed all
the multitude and they picked up I don't know how many barrels
afterward. Think of that.
How does that commend itself to intelligent people, coming
from a land of myth and fable as all Asia was, a land of myth and
fable and ignorance in the main, and before anybody knew anything
about science? And yet that must be believed -- and is -- to save
us from oar sins.
What are these sins? What has the human race done that was so
bad, except to eat of the tree of knowledge? Does anybody need to
save man from his sins in a miraculous way? It is an absurd piece
of theology which they themselves say that you must accept on faith
because your reason won't lead you to it. You can't do it that way.
We Must Develop Reason
I know the weakness of human reason, other people's reason. I
know the weakness of it, but it is all we have, and the only safety
of man is to cultivate it and extend his knowledge so that he will
be sure to understand life and as many of the mysteries of the
universe as he can possibly solve.
Jesus practiced medicine without medicine. Now think of this
one. He was traveling along the road and somebody came and told Him
there was a sick man in the house and he wanted Him to cure him.
How did He do it? Well, there were a lot of hogs out in the front
yard and He drove the devils out of a man and cured him, but He
drove them into the hogs and they jumped into the sea. Is that a
myth or is it true?
If that is true, if you have got to believe that story in
order to have your soul saved, you are bound to get rid of your
intelligence to save the soul that perhaps doesn't exist at all.
You can't believe a thing just because you want to believe it and
you can't believe it on very poor evidence, You may believe it
because your grandfather told you it was true, but you have got to
have some such details.
Did He raise a dead man to life? Why, tens of thousands of
dead men and women have been raised to life according to all the
stories and all the traditions. Was this the only case? All Europe
is filled with miracles of that sort, the Catholic church
performing miracles almost to the present time. Does anybody
believe it if they use their senses? I say, No. It is impossible to
believe it if you use, Your senses.
Now take the soul. People in this world instinctively like to
keep on living. They want to meet their friends again, and all of
that. They cling to life. Schopenhauer called it the will to live.
I call it the momentum of a going machine. Anything that is going
keeps on going for a certain length of time. It is all momentum.
What evidence is there that we are alive after we are dead?
But that wasn't the theory of theology. The theory of theology
-- and it is a part of a creed of practically every Christian
church today -- is that you die and go down into the earth and you
are dead, and when Gabriel comes back to blow his horn, the dust is
gathered together and, lo and behold, you appear the same old
fellow again and live here on earth!
How many believe it? And yet that is the only idea of
immortality that there is, and it is in every creed today, I
And everything that is in the body and in the man goes into
something else, turns into the crucible of nature, goes to make
trees and grass and weeds and fruit, and is eaten by all kinds of
life, and in that way goes on and on.
Of course, in a sense, nobody dies. The matter that is in me
will exist in another form when I am dead. The force that is in me
will live in some other kind of force when I am dead. But I will be
That isn't the kind of immortality people want. They want to
know that they can recognize Mary Jane in heaven. Don't they? They
want to see their brothers and their sisters and their friends in
heaven. It isn't possible. We know where our life began; we know
where it ends.
We know where every individual life on earth began. It began
in a single cell, in the body of our mother, who had some 10,000 of
those cells. It was fertilized by a spermatozoon from the body of
our father, who had a million of them, any one of which, under
certain circumstances, would fertilize a cell.
They multiplied and divided until a child was born. And in old
age or accident or disease, they fall apart and the man is done.
Agnostic Because I Must Reason
Can you imagine an eternity with one end cut off? Something
that began but never ended? We began our immortality at a certain
time, when the cell and the spermatozoon conspired to form a human
being. We began then. If I am not the product of a spermatozoon and
a cell, and if those cells which are unfertilized produce life, and
those spermatozoa that fertilized no life were still alive, then I
must have 10,000 brothers and sisters on my mother's side and a
million on my father's. It is utterly absurd.
Now I am not a revivalist. In fact, I am not interested. I am
asked to say why I am an agnostic. I am an agnostic because I trust
my reason. It may not be the greatest that ever existed. I am
inclined to admit that it isn't. But it is the best I have. That is
a mighty sight better than some other people's at that. I am an
agnostic because no man living can form any picture of any God, and
you can't believe in an object unless you can form a picture of it.
You way believe in the force, but not in the object.
If there is any God in the universe I don't know it. Some
people say they know it instinctively. Well, the errors and foolish
things that men have known instinctively are so many we can't talk
As a rule, the less a person knows, the surer he is, and he
gets it by instinct, and it can't be disputed, for I don't know
what is going on in another man's mind. I have no such instinct.
Let me give you just one more idea of a miracle of this Jesus
story which has run down through the ages and is not at all the
sole property of the Christian.
You remember, when Jesus was born in a manger according to the
story, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem. And they
were led by a star.
Now the closest star to the earth is more than a billion miles
away. Think of the star leading three moth-eaten camels to a
manger! Can you imagine a star standing over any house?
Can you imagine a star standing over the earth even? What will
they say, if they had time? That was a miracle. It came down to the
Well, if any star came that near the earth or anywhere near
the earth, it would immediately disarrange the whole solar system.
Anybody who can believe those old myths and tables isn't governed
REV. BEN M. BOGARD FAILS TO HALT DEVIL DARROW
Aha! Now we know that the whilom doughly warrior of the Lord
of Hosts, the Rev. Ben M. Bogard, D.D., LL.D., President of the
American Association Agin Evolution (or something of that sort)
editor of the Baptist and Commoner, Envoy Extraordinary and
Minister Plenipotentiary to the Baptists of Arkansas, etc., etc.,
is, at heart, only a blowzy blowhard, a swaggering spiritual
swashbuckler brandishing a paper sword! Under the flapping folds of
the lion skin he wears, we can get a peep at the hoofs of an ass!
Ah, Brother Ben, with what humiliating chagrin, what agony of
spirit, your most faithful followers must learn that their armored
and anointed champion has permitted the Devil's Disciple, Clarence
Darrow, to invade the sacred precincts of Little Rock, pollute the
sanctuary with his awful blasphemies, and then escape unscathed!
Brother Ben cannot plead that he was taken by surprise. It was
months ago that the newspapers carried the announcement that a
religious organization -- presumably one affiliated with a local
Jewish synagogue -- had arranged a debate between Darrow and Rabbi
Sanders; to be held in the city of Little Rock on November 2.
Preparations for the iniquitous event were carried on right in
broad daylight; there was no pretense of secrecy about it. Thus the
Lord had given His prophet Ben timely and ample warning of what was
Yet Ben cravenly permitted the Wicked One to come right into
the fold among his flock -- and maybe devour some of his little ewe
lambs! Ah, woe is you, Ben! What a shameful and egregious defection
this. I'll bet you Jehovah holds you personally responsible.
Indeed, you need not be surprised to learn that, henceforth, on the
roll of the Lamb's Book of Life, your name will be Ichabod.
It is true that Ben tries to salve his conscience and save his
face by emptying one little vial of wrath into his Baptist Commoner
AFTER the Wicked One had licked his bloody chops and departed. But
note what a weak, insipid solution he had in that little vial:
The coming of the noted infidel, Clarence Darrow, to
debate with Rabbi Sanders, gave occasion for a display of this
arrogance and insolence, The infidel part of the lawyers used
the Bar Association to give Darrow the glad hand and then gave
him a reception at one of the big hotels and a second
reception in the form of a smoker and thus lauded him to the
skies and flaunted this arch-atheist in the face of the church
people in Little Rock. In addition to that they spent their
money buying seats at a dollar and fifty cents each. This
disgraceful thing was held in the high school auditorium. When
Bryan came to Little Rock a few years ago and lectured on
evolution, although he had been three times the nominee of the
Democratic party for president and was the most outstanding
man in American life at that time, no bunch of lawyers gave
him the glad hand. No reception was given, and instead of that
some of them scoffed at him. I had rather be a dead "nigger"
in a backwoods graveyard than to be in their shoes. What a
pity that we have come upon such times.
Think of It! The biggest and worstest old ogre in the country
comes from his lair in Chicago right down into Beulah Land among
the church people of Little Rock, desecrates the sanctum, as it
were, and gets away to desecrate other sanctums and perhaps devour
more little ewe lambs.
And Ben, what did he do? Not a thing.
How different were the prophets of old! When, for example,
Servetus, who had expressed some doubts about the Holy Trinity,
came to Geneva in 1553 the great saint, John Calvin, captured him
and burned him at the stake. There was a man filled with the Holy
Ghost, a man not afraid to do the will of Jehovah. Yet with that
shining example, and hundreds of other such examples before him,
Brother Benjamin, hidden under the bed, perhaps, allowed Clarence
Darrow, a far worse ogre than Servetus ever was, to come among the
church people of Little Rock, gorge his fill, and get away. But
Servetus didn't get away. Bruno didn't get away. There were
thousands of other heretics in the days of the Old-Time Religion
who didn't get away. This was probably what Brother Ben had in mind
when he lamented: "Whata pity that we have come upon such times."
Ah, Brother Benjamin, you cannot hope to escape the
consequences of your pusillanimous negligence by hiding behind the
times. "God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever." He
probably sent the ogre Darrow down to Little Rock just to try your
faith. Then you had your opportunity. But instead of rising to it
nobly, as Calvin rose to his when God sent Servetus to Geneva, you
cowered in the background and failed ignominiously. Now you whine
about the times.
And what an opportunity Brother Ben let slip. If he had
captured Darrow and burned him at the stake, why, Ben's name would
have been bandied about the world for ages to come; and five
hundred or a thousand years from now he might have been canonized
-- by fellows of his own kidney. And, moreover, what a star he
would have got in his crown! (Being a mere worldly man and
therefore carnal-minded, I have no way of estimating the candle-
power of that hypothetical star, but surely it would have been
dazzling enough to satisfy such a Follower of the Lamb as Brother
Ben may think that he can obfuscate the minds of his followers
by printing a little editorial denouncing Darrow in his paper --
and maybe he can -- but He who sees all the English sparrows fall
and keeps a careful record of the number of hairs on Ben's pate
certainly has not failed to take note of Ben's apostasy.
Personally, I am fair enough to admit that there appear to be
some extenuating circumstances which, taken into account, might
excuse him under our present loose worldly standards of
requirement. For instance, had Ben and his Baptist brethren
undertaken to burn Darrow at the stake, it is quite likely that the
police, if they could have reached the scene in time, would have
interfered and stopped them. But, evidently, Ben didn't even try!
He might have gone ahead and done his duty as a bold soldier of the
Cross, leaving the results of his efforts in the lap of Jehovah.
Or, if he felt so sure that the secular authorities would not
permit him to deal with Darrow as Calvin dealt with Servetus, he
might have gathered a few husky anthropoid Baptists around him and
stoned Darrow to death. But he didn't even attempt that. In fact,
he did nothing, and herein he betrayed his lack of the ancient
faith and really proved himself an apostate. For this he will
surely have to answer at the Last Judgment.
Brother Ben, I fear, cannot even plead ignorance. Ignorant as
he notoriously is concerning the frivolous and ephemeral things of
this world, he knows, perhaps, as much as Calvin knew about the
High and Mighty Things beyond this vale of tears -- the things
Occult, Spooky, and Heavenly. He may know little about the world
and the flesh but certainly he knows his devil. His knowledge of
things divine is really marvelous; indeed, he is a regular
practicing doctor of divinity. No, Ben can't plead ignorance at the
High Court of Heaven.
Just what his alibi will be for this gross neglect of duty I
have no idea.
The plain truth of the matter, however, is that the Church of
Yahweh, has fallen upon evil times -- that is to say, upon
civilized times and its present-day prophets are becoming weak and
flabby mollycoddles. They have become soft, rotund, fat-jowled, and
compromising. They have more lard in them than they have faith;
more paunch than Christian fortitude. They have indulged their
appetites for the modern fleshpots too much; and Brother Ben, I
fear, belongs to that plump and contented category.
If he would shoulder up his cross and take to the desert
mountains, clad in a good stiff breech-clout, and would go on a
diet of manna, locusts, and wild honey, he would undoubtedly
recapture much of the ancient faith. That's what Brother Ben needs,
I feel sure -- a few good messes of locusts. Look what John did on
a diet of that sort. Ben might do just as much. Who knows? In the
absence of locusts, he might find grasshoppers efficacious in
restoring his waning faith.
Let Brother Ben try this good old saintly plan. Let him gather
a trusted few of his faithful followers around him and do this,
praying, meanwhile, unceasingly. Then let Clarence Darrow, or any
other infidel, go among them advocating rationalism and we shall
see that Yahweh is still in His Heaven and that the flames of a
holy fire will still roast a heretic as eagerly as they did in the
day of the Inquisition.
WHAT CHURCH STATISTICS SHOW
Some interesting facts have been brought to light in the
"Comparative Summary of the Church in the United States for the
Last Five Years" published in the July 2 Christian Observer. In
this treatise, at the Presbyterian Church in the United States,
with a little more than 2,000,000 communicants, has lost 4,322
members since 1926. This is certainly not an insignificant loss.
And, too, the decrease in new members for 1929 was 2,500 over the
decrease in new members for 1928. (The figures for the 1928 over
1927 decrease in new members were not given.) This means that
within the past few years the Presbyterian church has been
receiving several thousand less new members yearly than was
expected. In other words, not as many people are joining the
Presbyterian church now as formerly.
It is indeed interesting to note that, while the membership
has plainly decreased, the number of ministers has constantly
increased. The Presbyterian church has 174 more ministers than it
had in 1926. More men are coming to the pulpit each year. More
people are leaving the church. More pulpits, more ministers;
smaller and smaller congregations. What does it all mean? When a
church's membership decreases, It follows, per corollary, that its
contributions decrease. So the situation is that of an ever-
decreasing membership supporting an ever-increasing ministry. The
predicament is a ludicrous one, indeed. But imagine how much worse
It will be, say, twenty years from now. Every church will have at
least one minister for each communicant. This means that every
church member will have to support, besides his own family, a
minister with his family.
The church has already noted the effect of its failing
membership. Contributions for the last five years have decreased
$1,000,000. The pastors are plainly worried about this. One
brother, Rev. Bernard Bain, has hatched a plan with which to kill
the deficit. His plan, in short, is to start advertising for souls.
He figures that every soul saved will mean that much more money in
the pot. Fearing his plan would shock the conservative
Presbyterians -- the Blue Stockings -- Rev. Bain split a hair:
I do not hold up money as the motive, but the result, of
soul winning. We are traveling over a treacherous sea of
financial depression. In the distance beam two lights side by
side: one is aglow with spiritual fervor, while the other is
beaming with evangelistic zeal.
Rev. Bain suggested the "indirect method" of advertising. He
said, "If the church is to have financial success, we must not only
get the members to give more, we must get more members." Clever,
So, in the future we may expect the Presbyterians, long noted
for their coldness and dignity, to adopt the Big Business tactics
of the ranting-panting Baptists and Methodists. The high-hat Blue
Stockings will fight this with all their old hauteur. But the
Methodists and Baptists may as well gird up their loins, and
prepare for a new era of competition in the Soul Saving Business.
THE WAR BETWEEN SCIENCE AND FAITH
Glancing over that page of the New York Times of Monday,
October 13, 1930, which carries reports of "Sermons Preached
Yesterday in the Metropolitan District," my eye caught the
headlines: "Science Found Void Compared to Faith -- Dr. G.J.
Russell Says It Will Never Dethrone God."
What! Have I carelessly picked up a copy of the Log Cabin
Democrat? -- and am I reading a report of Elder Simpleton's latest
sermon preached to the peasants and possum-hunters of Podunk
Hollow, sent in by Bud Bartlett, correspondent from that neck of
the woods? Again I glance at the top of the sheet. No, it is the
New York Times, and the sermon is one delivered in the metropolitan
district of New York -- in the Second Presbyterian Church. Central
Park West and Ninety-sixth Street, to be exact.
"Science found void compared to faith." Well, well, the report
of a divine message headed like that should be worth looking into.
I read on.
"It God should ever go out of style altogether and if the
whole nation should succumb to the material progress of science.
... America is doomed to meet the same fate as Sodom and old Rome.
"While there never has been a time when God was fully in
style, the, great material progress of the country does not justify
a certain belief that science has dethroned God and that people
have no need for religion, for the creature of science can never
replace God and the scientist lacks interest in the finer spiritual
"Sometimes the vice prevailing in this city is very
discouraging to observe. Indifference, pleasure and materialism is
[sic] prevalent here. Lack of faith in God is amazing. But the city
is not the whole nation or the whole world. In the old days the
city was the center of religion. The peasant, or, as the word meant
then, the pagan, was the heathen. Today the peasant is more
religious than the city dweller.
"Cynics with toothaches in their souls must note that today
more attention is given to religion than ever before.
"What can science tell as to what will happen to us in the
great unknown or where we shall go and what we shall do? The
service science can do is to enhance the material side of our
lives. It goes to pieces when it comes to God and things
Why, this is the same sort of mental pabulum that is regularly
ladled out to village Fundamentalists down South! To what stratum
of New York society do the members of Dr. Russell's flock belong?
Can It be that they are on the same intellectual level as that
occupied by the village rustics of Arkansas? Apparently that is the
case, if this sort of stuff is suited to their tastes. There is,
perhaps, nothing remarkable in the fact that holy mountebanks,
willing to supply such stuff for, say, five or ten thousand
dollars, a year and a furnished home, are to be found in the
metropolitan district of New York; but it is surprising that they
can find enough customers there to make such business pay. Then,
fortune-tellers and voodoo doctors should be able to get along very
What do religionists like Dr. Russell think science is,
anyway? -- and what do they take the purpose and function of
science to be? Do they think of science as simply a conglomerate of
published guesses made by hardened, educated "old infidels"
concerning things of which they are either wholly ignorant or only
superficially informed? -- and that its only usefulness and
legitimate function is to minister to the "low"" base, and material
wants of man? Evidently, this is the lease.
Of course it is not reasonable to expect the Fundamentalist
mind to hold anything approaching a real and adequate conception of
science; to have any knowledge of scientific methods of
investigation; any understanding of the scientific attitude; any
appreciation of the scientific spirit; or any respect for the
integrity of the scientific mind. Indeed it is the inability to do
these things that leaves the unfortunates exposed to the
Fundamentalist blight. It is the ability to do these things that
distinguishes intelligent persons from Fundamentalists.
Everybody, excepting the Fundamentalist, understands that
science -- and its application through the arts -- has been the
sole means of elevating a portion of the race from a primitive,
universal state of savagery to its present stage of culture. Had
all men relied on faith alone -- using the term in its theological
sense -- the whole race would have remained fixed in a permanent
condition of savagery.
Maybe, however, a savage who is filled with the "simple,
trusting faith" is acceptable to Jehovah whereas a scientific-
minded civilized person is not. Indeed, as I now recall, this to an
acknowledged belief of the religionists.
A "worldly" faith founded on actual experience and observation
-- as faith in Nature and human nature -- is, of course, a fine and
sensible thing; but that is something vastly, I might say,
diametrically, different from what the theologians mean by faith.
What they mean by faith is that blind, unquestioning credulity
which can swallow any imaginable tale of the supernatural; that
pop-eyed, gaping credulity which, everywhere and always, finds it
infinitely easter to accept the fantastically impossible than the
natural and probable and takes to fetishism, incantations, "signs,"
and the boom-a-lay of resounding tom-toms as naturally as a duck
takes to water. Faith, in this sense, belongs to the arrested and
static mentality -- the type of mentality that delights in
contemplating the unreal, the magical, and the fantastic; in a
word, the "finer spiritual" things, the things not of "this world."
Science, on the other hand, appeals to the inquiring, developing,
and dynamic mind -- the type of mind that normally prefers to
grapple with the real and the actual, the things of this world.
Take, to begin with, the body of knowledge embraced by
cosmogony, cosmography, cosmic evolution, and astronomy. How much
of it was given us by faith and how much by science? Faith gave us
just what Jehovah knew when he submitted his well-known MSS. to the
publishers and it has not given us a scrap of information since.
All the rest of our knowledge of those subjects has been given us
by science. Of course the Fundamentalist regards Tycho Brahe,
Kepler, Galilee, Copernicus, Newton, Laplace and all other
scientists in that field as fakers; but worldly-minded persons are
much inclined to accept their discoveries and conclusions, or at
any rate, to take them seriously.
Consider our knowledge of biology. How much of such knowledge
was given us by faith and how much by science? Faith has given us
what we were able to derive from the published reports of Yahweh's
casual researches and not one bit more. All the rest of our
knowledge of that subject has been given us by science. The true
Christian, of course, who has been washed in the Blood of the Lamb,
regards Lamarck, Darwin, Huxley, and all other biologists as
unscrupulous nature-fakers; but wicked worldlings treat them and
their discoveries and arguments with profound respect.
Take pathology, pharmacology, and hygiene. How much of our
knowledge of those subjects was given us by faith and how much by
science? Through faith man learned that he was "Possessed" of
devils and that the "cure" came from exorcism, incantation, and
prayer. Not another iota of knowledge of these subjects has faith
ever contributed. All the rest of our knowledge has been
contributed by science.
But hold!, Here I must pause to confess that I was a bit hasty
in saying that faith has made no progress in therapeutics; for I
recall that, in addition to exorcism, incantation, and prayer,
faith has discovered and made known to the world an impressive
number and variety of "remedies" for diseases, many of which are
successfully applied in Fundamentaldom today. But I have space to
cite only a few. An Irish potato carried in the pocket will cure
"rheumatiz," Chicken feathers burnt under the child-birth bed will
stop hemorrhage. "Thrash" may be cured by having one, who has never
seen his father, blow his breath into the patient's mouth. That
dread disease known as hives can be cured by giving the patient a
"solution" of buckshot. "Sheep-pill" tea is an unfailing remedy for
measles. (My own life was saved by a timely administering of that
great specific by one of my grandmothers when, as a paling infant,
I had the measles, so I was Informed.) Rattlesnake oil, skunk oil,
buzzard oil, and goose grease were found to be sure shots for many
dangerous diseases. The seventh son of the seventh son of a
Fundamentalist carried a mysterious assortment of specific remedies
up his sleeve by means of which he could cure many of the worst
diseases that flesh is heir to. Many "yarbs" -- catnip, horehound,
mullein, poke, etc. -- when gathered on the dark of the moon find
brewed with the proper mystic ceremony, were found to be sure cures
for many maladies. And, moreover, candor compels one to go a step
further and confess that faith made some progress in preventive
therapeutics. A ball of asafetida, wrapped in a frog skin and
suspended from the neck by an eel-skin string, rendered the wearer
immune to contagious diseases. It was also good against fits. Fruit
of the buckeye, carried in the pocket, would keep off malaria and
But to resume the argument. What has been remarked of the
above-mentioned branches of science is equally applicable to all
Of course science doesn't undertake to "tell as to what will
happen to us in the great unknown or where we shall go and what we
shall do." Why should it -- when theology itself has so thoroughly
and authoritatively done all that?
"It [science] goes to pieces," says Dr. Russel, "when it comes
to God and things spiritual." Just what the reverend doctor means
by a statement like that I have no idea. What I should mean by such
a statement is that if science were to undertake to do such a
fatuous thing, it would instantly cease to be science at all and
would degenerate into theology.
"In the old days," the doctor reminds us, "the city was the
center of religion," whereas "today the peasant is more religious
than the city dweller." This statement is undoubtedly true, and, it
may be added, religion will probably become the exclusive
possession of the peasantry. Certainly, nearly all intelligent
persons have become thoroughly ashamed of it.
The learned doctor admits "there never has been a time when
God was fully in style" but if he will review the history of the
Dark Ages, he should not fail to note that there was a time when
God was perilously near "fully in style" which is precisely what
made the Dark Ages so damned dark.
"Lack of faith in God is amazing," says the reverend doctor.
But this doesn't seem to harmonize with his statement that "today
more attention is given to religion than ever before"; since,
clearly, he means favorable attention, for it is to this assumption
that he so triumphantly calls the attention of "cynics with
toothaches in their souls." Lack of faith in God may be amazing to
such as Dr. Russell, but to many others, equally as wise, it is the
exact opposite that is so amazing. When, however, faith in God
finally becomes the exclusive possession of the peasantry, the
phenomenon will cease to be so amazing. In fact, abnormal
psychology has pretty well explained it already.