The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll
Dresden Memorial Edition (II, v-270)
HTML, Editing by Cliff Walker
Small Caps indicated with <B>bold</B>
Some Mistakes of Moses
Let Us Make Man.
WE are next informed by the author of the Pentateuch that God said "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness," and that "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him -- male and female created he them."
If this account means anything, it means that man was created in the physical image and likeness of God. Moses while he speaks of man as having been made in the image of God, never speaks of God except as having the form of a man. He speaks of God as "walking in the garden in the cool of the day;" and that Adam and Eve "heard his voice." He is constantly telling what God said, and in a thousand passages he refers to him as not only having the human form, but as performing actions, such as man performs. The God of Moses was a God with hands, with feet, with the organs of speech. A God of passion, of hatred, of revenge, of affection, of repentance; a God who made mistakes: -- in other words, an immense and powerful man.
It will not do to say that Moses meant to convey the idea that God made man in his mental or moral image. Some have insisted that man was made in the moral image of God because he was made pure. Purity cannot be manufactured. A moral character cannot be made for man by a god. Every man must make his own moral character. Consequently, if God is infinitely pure, Adam and Eve were not made in his image in that respect. Others say that Adam and Eve were made in the mental image of God. If it is meant by that, that they were created with reasoning power like, but not to the extent of those possessed by a god, then this may be admitted. But certainly this idea was not in the mind of Moses. He regarded the human form as being in the image of God, and for that reason always spoke of God as having that form. No one can read the Pentateuch without coming to the conclusion that the author supposed that man was crated in the physical likeness of Deity. God said "Go to, let us go down." "God smelled a sweet savor;" "God repented him that he had made man;" "and God said;" and "walked;" and "talked;" and "rested." All these expressions are inconsistent with any other idea than that the person using them regarded God as having the form of man.
As a matter of fact, it is impossible for a man to conceive of a personal God, other than as a being having the human form. No one can think of an infinite being having the form of a horse, or of a bird, or of any animal beneath man. It is one of the necessities of the mind to associate forms with intellectual capacities. The highest form of which we have any conception is man's, and consequently, his is the only form that we can find in imagination to give to a personal God, because all other forms are, in our minds, connected with lower intelligences.
It is impossible to think of a personal God as a spirit without form. We can use these words, but they do not convey to the mind any real and tangible meaning. Every one who thinks of a personal God at all, thinks of him as having the human form. Take from God the idea of form; speak of him simply as an all pervading spirit -- which means an all pervading something about which we know nothing -- and Pantheism is the result.
We are told that God made man; and the question naturally arises, how was this done? Was it by a process of "evolution," "development;" the "transmission of acquired habits;" the "survival of the fittest" or was the necessary amount of clay kneaded to the proper consistency, and then by the hands of God molded into form? Modern science tells that man has been evolved, through countless epochs, from the lower forms; that he is the result of almost an infinite number of actions, reactions, experiences, states, forms, wants and adaptations. Did Moses intend to convey such a meaning, or did he believe that God took a sufficient amount of dust, made it the proper shape, and breathed into it the breath of life? Can any believer in the Bible give any reasonable account of this process of creation? Is it possible to imagine what was really done? Is there any theologian who will contend that man was created directly from the earth? Will he say that man was made substantially as he now is, with all his muscles properly developed for walking and speaking, and performing every variety of human action? That all his bones were formed as they now are, and all the relations of nerve, ligament, brain and motion as they are to-day?
Looking back over the history of animal life from the lowest to the highest forms, we find that there has been a slow and gradual development; a certain but constant relation between want and production; between use and form. The Moner is said to be the simplest form of animal life that has yet been found. It has been described as "an organism without organs." It is a kind of structureless structure; a little mass of transparent jelly that can flatten itself out, and can expand and contract around its food. It can feed without a mouth, digest without a stomach, walk without feet, and reproduce itself by simple division. By taking this Moner as the commencement of animal life, or rather as the first animal, it is easy to follow the development of the organic structure through all the forms of life to man himself. In this way finally every muscle, bone and joint, every organ, form and function may be accounted for. In this way, and in this way only, can the existence of rudimentary organs be explained. Blot from the human mind the ideas of evolution, heredity, adaptation, and "the survival of the fittest," with which it has been enriched by Lamarck, Goethe, Darwin, Haeckel and Spencer, and all the facts in the history of animal life become utterly disconnected and meaningless.
Shall we throw away all that has been discovered with regard to organic life, and in its place take the statements of one who lived in the rude morning of a barbaric day? Will anybody now contend that man was a direct and independent creation, and sustains and bears no relation to the animals below him? Belief upon this subject must be governed at last by evidence. Man cannot believe as he pleases. He can control his speech, and can say that he believes or disbelieves; but after all, his will cannot depress or raise the scales with which his reason finds the worth and weight of facts. If this is not so, investigation, evidence, judgment and reason are but empty words.
I ask again, how were Adam and Eve created? In one account they are created male and female, and apparently at the same time. In the next account, Adam is created first, and Eve a long time afterwards, and from a part of the man. Did God simply by his creative fiat cause a rib slowly to expand, grow and divide into nerve, ligament, cartilage and flesh? How was the woman created from a rib? How was man created simply from dust? For my part, I cannot believe this statement. I may suffer for this in the world to come; and may, millions of years hence, sincerely wish that I had never investigated the subject, but had been content to take the ideas of the dead. I do not believe that any deity works in that way. So far as my experience goes, there is an unbroken procession of cause and effect. Each thing is a necessary link in an infinite chain; and I cannot conceive of this chain being broken even for one instant. Back of the simplest moner there is a cause, and back of that another, and so on, it seems to me, forever. In my philosophy I postulate neither beginning nor ending.
If the Mosaic account is true, we know how long man has been upon this earth. If that account can be relied on, the first man was made about five thousand eight hundred and eighty-three years ago. Sixteen hundred and fifty-six years after the making of the first man, the inhabitants of the world, with the exception of eight people, were destroyed by a flood. This flood occurred only about four thousand two hundred and twenty-seven years ago. If this account is correct, at that time, only one kind of men existed. Noah and his family were certainly of the same blood. It therefore follows that all the differences we see between the various races of men have been caused in about four thousand years. If the account of the deluge is true, then since that event all the ancient kingdoms of the earth were founded, and their inhabitants passed through all the stages of savage, nomadic, barbaric and semi-civilized life; through the epochs of Stone, Bronze and Iron; established commerce, cultivated the arts, built cities, filled them with palaces and temples, invented writing, produced a literature and slowly fell to shapeless ruin. We must believe that all this has happened within a period of four thousand years.
From representations found upon Egyptian granite made more than three thousand years ago, we know that the negro was as black, his lips as full, and his hair as closely curled then as now. If we know anything, we know that there was at that time substantially the same difference between the Egyptian and the negro as now. If we know anything, we know that magnificent statues were made in Egypt four thousand years before our era -- that is to say, about six thousand years ago. There was at the World's Exposition, in the Egyptian department, a statue of king Cephren, known to have been chiseled more than six thousand years ago. In other words, if the Mosaic account must be believed, this statue was made before the world. We also know, if we know anything, that men lived in Europe with the hairy mammoth, the cave bear, the rhinoceros, and the hyena. Among the bones of these animals have been found the stone hatchets and flint arrows of our ancestors. In the caves where they lived have been discovered the remains of these animals that had been conquered, killed and devoured as food, hundreds of thousands of years ago.
If these facts are true, Moses was mistaken. For my part, I have infinitely more confidence in the discoveries of to-day, than in the records of a barbarous people. It will not now do to say that man has existed upon this earth for only about six thousand years. One can hardly compute in his imagination the time necessary for man to emerge from the barbarous state, naked and helpless, surrounded by animals far more powerful than he, to progress and finally create the civilizations of India, Egypt and Athens. The distance from savagery to Shakespeare must be measured not by hundreds, but by millions of years.
"AND on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made."
The great work had been accomplished, the world, the sun, and moon, and all the hosts of heaven were finished; the earth was clothed in green, the seas were filled with life, the cattle wandered by the brooks -- insects with painted wings were in the happy air, Adam and Eve were making each other's acquaintance, and God was resting from his work. He was contemplating the accomplishments of a week.
Because he rested on that day he sanctified it, and for that reason and for that alone, it was by the Jews considered a holy day. If he only rested on that day, there ought to be some account of what he did the following Monday. Did he rest on that day? What did he do after he got rested? Has he done anything in the way of creation since Saturday evening of the first week?
It is now claimed by the "scientific" Christians that the "days" of creation were not ordinary days of twenty-four hours each, but immensely long periods of time. If they are right, then how long was the seventh day? Was that, too, a geologic period covering thousands of ages? That cannot be, because Adam and Eve were created the Saturday evening before, and according to the Bible that was about five thousand eight hundred and eighty-three years ago. I cannot state the time exactly, because there have been as many as one hundred and forty different opinions given by learned Biblical students as to the time between the creation of the world and the birth of Christ. We are quite certain, however, that, according to the Bible, it is not more than six thousand years since the creation of Adam. From this it would appear that the seventh day was not a geologic epoch, but was in fact a period of less than six thousand years, and probably of only twenty-four hours.
The theologians who "answer" these things may take their choice. If they take the ground that the "days" were periods of twenty-four hours, then geology will force them to throw away the whole account. If on the other hand, they admit that the days were vast "periods" then the sacredness of the Sabbath must be given up.
There is found in the Bible no intimation that there was the least difference in the days. They are all spoken of in the same way. It may be replied that our translation is incorrect. If this is so, then only those who understand Hebrew, have had a revelation from God, and all the rest have been deceived.
How is it possible to sanctify a space of time? Is rest holier than labor? If there is any difference between days, ought not that to be considered best in which the most useful labor has been performed?
Of all the superstitions of mankind, this insanity about the "sacred Sabbath" is the most absurd. The idea of feeling it a duty to be solemn and sad one-seventh of the time! To think that we can please an infinite being by staying in some dark and sombre room, instead of walking in the perfumed fields! Why should God hate to see a man happy? Why should it excite his wrath to see a family in the woods, by some babbling stream, talking, laughing and loving? Nature works on that "sacred" day. The earth turns, the rivers run, the trees grow, buds burst into flower, and birds fill the air with song. Why should we look sad, and think about death, and hear about hell? Why should that day be filled with gloom instead of joy?
A poor mechanic, working all the week in dust and noise, needs a day of rest and joy, a day to visit stream and wood -- a day to live with wife and child; a day in which to laugh at care, and gather hope and strength for toils to come. And his weary wife needs a breath of sunny air, away from street and wall, amid the hills or by the margin of the sea, where she can sit and prattle with her babe, and fill with happy dreams the long, glad day.
The "Sabbath" was born of asceticism, hatred of human joy, fanaticism, ignorance, egotism of priests and the cowardice of the people. This day, for thousands of years, has been dedicated to superstition, to the dissemination of mistakes, and the establishment of falsehoods. Every freethinker, as a matter of duty, should violate this day. He should assert his independence, and do all within his power to wrest the Sabbath from the gloomy church and give it back to liberty and joy. Freethinkers should make the Sabbath a day of mirth and music; a day to spend with wife and child -- a day of games, and books, and dreams -- a day to put fresh flowers above our sleeping dead -- a day of memory and hope, of love and rest.
Why should we in this age of the world be dominated by the dead? Why should barbarian Jews who went down to death and dust three thousand years ago, control the living world? Why should we care for the superstition of men who began the Sabbath by paring their nails, "beginning at the fourth finger, then going to the second, then to the fifth, then to the third, and ending with the thumb?" How pleasing to God this must have been. The Jews were very careful of these nail parings. They who threw them upon the ground were wicked, because Satan used them to work evil upon the earth. They believed that upon the Sabbath, souls were allowed to leave purgatory and cool their burning souls in water. Fires were neither allowed to be kindled nor extinguished, and upon that day it was a sin to bind up wounds. "The lame might use a staff, but the blind could not." So strict was the Sabbath kept, that at one time "if a Jew on a journey was overtaken by the "sacred day" in a wood, or on the highway, no matter where, nor under what circumstances, he must sit down "and there remain" until the day was gone. "If he fell down in the dirt, there he was compelled to stay until the day was done." For violating the Sabbath, the punishment was death, for nothing short of the offender's blood could satisfy the wrath of God. There are, in the Old Testament, two reasons given for abstaining from labor on the Sabbath: -- the resting of God, and the redemption of the Jews from the bondage of Egypt.
Since the establishment of the Christian religion, the day has been changed, and Christians do not regard the day as holy upon which God actually rested, and which he sanctioned. The Christian Sabbath, or the "Lord's day" was legally established by the murderer Constantine, because upon that day Christ was supposed to have risen from the dead.
It is not easy to see where Christians got the right to disregard the direct command of God, to labor on the day he sanctified, and keep as sacred, a day upon which he commanded men to labor. The Sabbath of God is Saturday, and if any day is to be kept holy, that is the one, and not the Sunday of the Christian.
Let us throw away these superstitions and take the higher, nobler ground, that every day should be rendered sacred by some loving act, by increasing the happiness of man, giving birth to noble thoughts, putting in the path of toil some flower of joy, helping the unfortunate, lifting the fallen, dispelling gloom, destroying prejudice, defending the helpless and filling homes with light and love.
The Necessity For A Good Memory.
IT must not be forgotten that there are two accounts of the creation in Genesis. The first account stops with the third verse of the second chapter. The chapters have been improperly divided. In the original Hebrew the Pentateuch was neither divided into chapters nor verses. There was not even any system of punctuation. It was written wholly with consonants, without vowels, and without any marks, dots, or lines to indicate them.
These accounts are materially different, and both cannot be true. Let us see wherein they differ.
The second account of the creation begins with the fourth verse of the second chapter, and is as follows"
"These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
"And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it to grew; for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
"But there went up a mist from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
"And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
"And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
"And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted and became into four heads.
"The name of the first is Pison; that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.
"And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.
"And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
"And the name of the third river is Hiddekel; that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the forth river is Euphrates.
"And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
"And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
"And the Lord God said" It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an helpmeet for him.
"And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and bought them unto Adam to see what he would call them and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
"And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found a helpmeet for him.
"And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
"And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman and brought her unto the man.
"And Adam said" This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.
"And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."
Order of Creation in the First Account:
1. The heaven and the earth, and light were made.
2. The firmament was constructed and the waters divided.
3. The waters gathered into seas -- and then came dry land, grass, herbs and fruit trees.
4. The sun and moon. He made the stars also.
5. Fishes, fowls, and great whales.
6. Beasts, cattle, every creeping thing, man and woman.
Order of Creation in the Second Account:
1. The heavens and the earth.
2. A mist went up from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
3. Created a man out of dust, by the name of Adam.
4. Planted a garden eastward in Eden, and put the man in it.
5. Created the beasts and fowls.
6. Created a woman out of one of the man's ribs.
In the second account, man was made before the beasts and fowls. If this is true, the first account is false. And if the theologians of our time are correct in their view that the Mosaic day means thousands of ages, then, according to the second account, Adam existed millions of years before Eve was formed. He must have lived one Mosaic day before there were any trees, and another Mosaic day before the beasts and fowls were created. Will some kind clergymen tell us upon what kind of food Adam subsisted during these immense periods?
In the second account a man is made, and the fact that he was without a helpmeet did not occur to the Lord God until a couple "of vast periods" afterwards. The Lord God suddenly coming to a appreciation of the situation said, "It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him an helpmeet for him."
Now, after concluding to make "an helpmeet" for Adam, what did the Lord God do? Did he at once proceed to make a woman? No. What did he do? He made the beasts, and tried to induce Adam to take one of them for "an helpmeet." If I am incorrect, read the following account, and tell me what it means;
"And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an helpmeet for him.
"And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
"And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an helpmeet for him."
Unless the Lord God was looking for an helpmeet for Adam, why did he cause the animals to pass before him . And why did he, after the menagerie had passed by, pathetically exclaim, "But for Adam there was not found an helpmeet for him"?
It seems that Adam saw nothing that struck his fancy. The fairest ape, the sprightliest chimpanzee; the loveliest baboon, the most bewitching orangoutang, the most fascinating gorilla failed to touch with love's sweet pain, poor Adam's lonely heart. Let us rejoice that this was so. Had he fallen in love then, there never would have been a Freethinker in this world.
Dr. Adam Clarke, speaking of this remarkable proceeding says: -- "God caused the animals to pass before Adam to show him that no creature yet formed could make him a suitable companion; that Adam was convinced that none of these animals could be a suitable companion for him, and that therefore he must continue in a state that was not good (celibacy) unless he became a further debtor to the bounty of his maker, for among all the animals which he had formed, there was not a helpmeet for Adam."
Upon this same subject, Dr. Scott informs us "that it was not conducive to the happiness of the man to remain without the consoling society, and endearment of tender friendship, nor consistent with the end of his creation to be without marriage by which the earth might be replenished and worshipers and servants raised up to render him praise and glory. Adam seems to have been vastly better acquainted by intuition or revelation with the distinct properties of every creature than the most sagacious observer since the fall of man.
"Upon this review of the animals, not one was found in outward form his counterpart, nor one suited to engage his affections, participate in his enjoyments, or associate with him in the worship of God."
Dr. Matthew Henry admits that "God brought all the animals together to see if there was a suitable match for Adam in any of the numerous families of the inferior creatures, but there was none. They were all looked over, but Adam could not be matched among them all. Therefore God created a new thing to be a helpmeet for him."
Failing to satisfy Adam, with any of the inferior animals, the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall "upon him" and while in this sleep took out one of Adam's ribs and "closed up the flesh instead thereof." And out of this rib, the Lord God made a woman, and brought her to the man.
Was the Lord God compelled to take a part of the man because he had used up all the original "nothing" out of which the universe was made? Is it possible for any sane and intelligent man to believe this story? Must a man be born a second time before this account seems reasonable?
Imagine the Lord God with a bone in his hand with which to start a woman, trying to make up his mind whether to make a blonde or a brunette!
Just at this point it may be proper for me to warn all persons from laughing at or making light of, any stories found in the "Holy Bible." When you come to die, every laugh will be a thorn in your pillow. At that solemn moment, as you look back upon the records of your life, no matter how many men you may have wrecked and ruined; no matter how many women you have deceived and deserted, all that can be forgiven; but if you remember then that you have laughed at even one story in God's "sacred book" you will see though the gathering shadows of death the forked tongues of devils, and the leering eyes of fiends.
These stories must be believed, or the work of regeneration can never be commenced. No matter how well you act your part, live as honestly as you may, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, divide your last farthing with the poor, and you are simply traveling the broad road that leads inevitably to eternal death, unless at the same time you implicitly believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God.
Let me show you the result of unbelief. Let us suppose, for a moment, that we are at the Day of Judgment, listening to the trial of souls as they arrive. The Recording Secretary, or whoever does the cross-examining, says to a soul:
Where are you from?
I am from the Earth.
What kind of a man were you?
Well, I don't like to talk about myself. I suppose you can tell by looking at your books.
No, sir. You must tell what kind of a man you were.
Well, I was what you might call a first-rate fellow. I loved my wife and children. My home was my heaven. My fireside was a paradise to me. To sit there and see the lights and shadows fall upon the faces of those I loved, was to me a perfect joy.
How did you treat your family?
I never said an unkind word. I never caused my wife, nor one of my children, a moment's pain.
Did you pay your debts?
I did not owe a dollar when I died, and left enough to pay my funeral expenses, and to keep the fierce wolf of want from the door of those I loved.
Did you belong to any church?
No, sir. They were too narrow, pinched and bigoted for me, I never thought that I could be very happy if other folks were damned.
Did you believe in eternal punishment?
Well, no. I always thought that God could get his revenge in far less time.
Did you believe the rib story?
Do you mean the Adam and Eve business?
Yes! Did you believe that?
To tell you the God's truth, that was just a little more than I could swallow.
Away with him to hell!
Where are you from?
I am from the world too.
Did you belong to any church?
Yes, sir, and to the Young Men's Christian Association besides.
What was your business?
Cashier in a Savings Bank.
Did you ever run away with any money?
Where I came from, a witness could not be compelled to criminate himself.
The law is different here. Answer the question. Did you run away with any money?
One hundred thousand dollars.
Did you take anything else with you?
Well, what else?
I took my neighbor's wife -- we sang together in the choir.
Did you have a wife and children of your own?
And you deserted them?
Yes, sir, but such was my confidence in God that I believed he would take care of them.
Have you heard of them since?
Did you believe in the rib story?
Bless your soul, of course I did. A thousand times I regretted that there were no harder stories in the Bible, so that I could have shown my wealth of faith.
Do you believe the rib story yet?
Yes, with all my heart.
Give him a harp!
Well, as I was saying, God made a woman from Adam's rib. Of course, I do not know exactly how this was done, but when he got the woman finished, he presented her to Adam. He liked her, and they commenced house-keeping in the celebrated Garden of Eden.
Must we, in order to be good, gentle and loving in our lives, believe that the creation of woman was a second thought? That Jehovah really endeavored to induce Adam to take one of the lower animals as an helpmeet for him? After all, is it not possible to live honest and courageous lives without believing these fables? It is said that from Mount Sinai God gave, amid thunderings and lightnings, ten commandments for the guidance of mankind; and yet among them is not found -- "Thou shalt believe the Bible."
IN the first account we are told that God made man, male and female, and said to them "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it."
In the second account only the man is made, and he is put in a garden "to dress it and to keep it." He is not told to subdue the earth, but to dress and keep a garden.
In the first account man is given every herb bearing seed upon the face of the earth and the fruit of every tree for food, and in the second, he is given only the fruit of all the trees in the garden with the exception "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" which was a deadly poison.
There was issuing from this garden a river that was parted into four heads. The first of these, Pison, compassed the whole land of Havilah, the second, Gihon, that compassed the whole land of Ethiopia, the third, Heddekel, that flowed toward the east of Assyria, and the fourth, the Euphrates. Where are these four rivers now? The brave prow of discovery has visited every sea; the traveler has pressed with weary feet the soil of every clime; and yet there has been found no place from which four rivers sprang. The Euphrates still journeys to the gulf, but where are Pison, Gihon and the mighty Heddekel? Surely by going to the source of the Euphrates we ought to find either these three rivers or their ancient beds. Will some minister when he answers the "Mistakes of Moses" tell us where these rivers are or were? The maps of the world are incomplete without these mighty streams. We have discovered the sources of the Nile; the North Pole will soon be touched by an American; but these three rivers still rise in unknown hills, still flow through unknown lands, and empty still in unknown seas.
The account of these four rivers is what the Rev. David Swing would call "a geographical poem." The orthodox clergy cover the whole affair with the blanket of allegory, while the "scientific" Christian folks talk about cataclysms, upheavals, earthquakes, and vast displacements of the earth's crust.
The question, then arises, whether within the last six thousand years there have been such upheavals and displacements? Talk as you will about the vast "creative periods" that preceded the appearance of man; it is, according to the Bible, only about six thousand years since man was created. Moses gives us the generations of men from Adam until his day, and this account cannot be explained away by calling centuries, days.
According to the second account of creation, these four rivers were made after the creation of man, and consequently they must have been obliterated by convulsions of Nature within six thousand years.
Can we not account for these contradictions, absurdities, and falsehoods by simply saying that although the writer may have done his level best, he failed because he was limited in knowledge, led away by tradition, and depended too implicitly upon the correctness of his imagination? Is not such a course far more reasonable than to insist that all these things are true and must stand though every science shall fall to mental dust?
Can any reason be given for not allowing man to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge? What kind of tree was that? If it is all an allegory, what truth is sought to be conveyed? Why should God object to that fruit being eaten by man? Why did he put it in the midst of the garden? There was certainly plenty of room outside. If he wished to keep man and this tree apart, why did he put them together? And why, after he had eaten, was he thrust out? The only answer that we have a right to give, is the one given in the Bible. "And the Lord God said, Behold the man has become as one of us to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken."
Will some minister, some graduate of Andover, tell us what this means? Are we bound to believe it without knowing what the meaning is? If it is a revelation, what does it reveal? Did God object to education then, and does that account for the hostile attitude still assumed by theologians toward all scientific truth? Was there in the garden a tree of life, the eating of which would have rendered Adam and Eve immortal? Is it true, that after the Lord God drove them from the garden that he placed upon its Eastern side "Cherubim and a flaming sword which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life?" Are the Cherubim and the flaming sword guarding that tree still, or was it destroyed, or did its rotting trunk, as the Rev. Robert Collyer suggests, "nourish a bank of violets"?
What objection could God have had to the immortality of man? You see that after all, this sacred record, instead of assuring us of immortality, shows us only how we lost it. In this there is assuredly but little consolation.
According to this story we have lost one Eden, but nowhere in the Mosaic books are we told how we may gain another. I know that the Christians tell us there is another, in which all true believers will finally be gathered, and enjoy the unspeakable happiness of seeing the unbelievers in hell; but they do not tell us where it is.
Some commentators say that the Garden of Eden was in the third heaven -- some in the fourth, others have located it in the moon, some in the air beyond the attraction of the earth, some on the earth, some under the earth, some inside the earth, some at the North Pole, others at the South, some in Tartary, some in China. some on the borders of the Ganges, some in the island of Ceylon, some in Armenia, some in Africa, some under the Equator, others in Mesopotamia, in Syria, Persia, Arabia, Babylon, Assyria, Palestine and Europe. Others have contended that it was invisible, that it was an allegory, and must be spiritually understood.
But whether you understand these things or not, you must believe them. You may be laughed at in this world for insisting that God put Adam into a deep sleep and made a woman out of one of his ribs, but you will be crowned and glorified in the next. You will also have the pleasure of hearing the gentlemen howl there, who laughed at you here. While you will not be permitted to take any revenge, you will be allowed to smilingly express your entire acquiescence in the will of God. But where is the new Eden? No one knows. The one was lost, and the other has not been found.
Is it true that man was once perfectly pure and innocent, and that he became degenerate by disobedience? No. The real truth is, and the history of man shows, that he has advanced. Events, like the pendulum of a clock have swung forward and backward, but after all, man, like the hands, has gone steadily on. Man is growing grander. He is not degenerating. Nations and individuals fail and die, and make room for higher forms. The intellectual horizon of the world widens as the centuries pass. Ideals grow grander and purer; the difference between justice and mercy becomes less and less; liberty enlarges, and love intensifies as the years sweep on. The ages of force and fear, of cruelty and wrong, are behind us and the real Eden is beyond. It is said that a desire for knowledge lost us the Eden of the past; but whether that is true or not, it will certainly give us the Eden of the future.
WE are told that the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field, that he had a conversation with Eve, in which he gave his opinion about the effect of eating certain fruit; that he assured her it was good to eat, that it was pleasant to the eye, that it would make her wise; that she was induced to take some; that she persuaded her husband to try it; that God found it out, that he then cursed the snake; condemning it to crawl and eat the dust; that he multiplied the sorrows of Eve, cursed the ground for Adam's sake, started thistles and thorns, condemned man to eat the herb of the field in the sweat of his face, pronounced the curse of death, "Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return," made coats of skins for Adam and Eve, and drove them out of Eden.
Who, and what was this serpent? Dr. Adam Clarke says: -- "The serpent must have walked erect, for this is necessarily implied in his punishment. That he was endued with the gift of speech, also with reason. That these things were given to this creature. The woman no doubt having often seen him walking erect, and talking and reasoning, therefore she testifies no sort of surprise when he accosts her in the language related in the text. It therefore appears to me that a creature of the ape or orangoutang kind is here intended, and that Satan made use of this creature as the most proper instrument for the accomplishment of his murderous purposes against the life of the soul of man. Under this creature he lay hid, and by this creature he seduced our first parents. Such a creature answers to every part of the description in the text. It is evident from the structure of its limbs and its muscles that it might have been originally designed to walk erect, and that nothing else than the sovereign controlling power could induce it to put down hands -- in every respect formed like those of man -- and walk like those creatures whose claw-armed parts prove them to have been designed to walk on all fours. The stealthy cunning, and endless variety of the pranks and tricks of these creatures show them even now to be wiser and more intelligent than any other creature, man alone excepted. Being obliged to walk on all fours and gather their food from the ground, they are literally obliged to eat the dust; and though exceeding cunning, and careful in a variety of instances to separate that part which is wholesome and proper for food from that which is not so, in the article of cleanliness they are lost to all sense of propriety. add to this their utter aversion to walk upright; it requires the utmost discipline to bring them to it, and scarcely anything offends or irritates them more than to be obliged to do it. Long observation of these animals enables me to state these facts. For earnest, attentive watching, and for chattering and babbling they (the ape) have no fellows in the animal world. Indeed, the ability and propensity to chatter, is all they have left of their original gift of speech, of which they appear to have been deprived at the fall as a part of their punishment."
Here then is the "connecting link" between man and the lower creation. The serpent was simply an orangutang that spoke Hebrew with the greatest ease, and had the outward appearance of a perfect gentleman, seductive in manner, plausible, polite, and most admirably calculated to deceive. It never did seem reasonable to me that a long, cold and disgusting snake with an apple in its mouth, could deceive anybody; and I am glad, even at this late date to know that the something that persuaded Eve to taste the forbidden fruit was, at least, in the shape of a man.
Dr. Henry does not agree with the zoological explanation of Mr. Clark, but insists that "it is certain that the devil that beguiled Eve is the old serpent, a malignant by creation, an angel of light, an immediate attendant upon God's throne, but by sin an apostate from his first state, and a rebel against God's crown and dignity. He who attacked our first parents was surely the prince of devils, the ring leader in rebellion. The devil chose to act his part in a serpent, because it is a specious creature, has a spotted, dappled skin, and then, went erect. Perhaps it was a flying serpent which seemed to come from on high, as a messenger from the upper world, one of the seraphim; because the serpent is a subtile creature. What Eve thought of this serpent speaking to her, we are not likely to tell, and, I believe, she herself did not know what to think of it. At first, perhaps, she supposed it might be a good angel, and yet afterwards might suspect something amiss. The person tempted was a woman, now alone, and at a distance from her husband, but near the forbidden tree. It was the devil's subtlety to assault the weaker vessel with his temptations, as we may suppose her inferior to Adam in knowledge, strength and presence of mind. Some think that Eve received the command not immediately from God, but at second hand from her husband, and might, therefore, be the more easily persuaded to discredit it. It was the policy of the devil to enter into discussion with her when she was alone. He took advantage by finding her near the forbidden tree. God permitted Satan to prevail over Eve, for wise and holy ends. Satan teaches men first to doubt, and then to deny. He makes skeptics first, and by degrees makes them atheists."
We are compelled to admit that nothing could be more attractive to a woman than a snake walking erect, with a "spotted, dappled skin," unless it were a serpent with wings. Is it not humiliating to know that our ancestors believed these things? Why should we object to the Darwinian doctrine of descent after this?
Our fathers thought it their duty to believe, thought it a sin to entertain the slightest doubt, and really supposed that their credulity was exceedingly gratifying to God. To them, the story was entirely real. They could see the garden, hear the babble of waters, smell the perfume of flowers. They believed there was a tree where knowledge grew like plums or pears; and they could plainly see the serpent coiled amid its rustling leaves, coaxing Eve to violate the laws of God.
Where did the serpent come from? On which of the six days was he created? Who made him? Is it possible that God would make a successful rival? He must have known that Adam and Eve would fall. He knew what a snake with a "spotted, dappled skin" could do with an inexperienced woman. Why did he not defend his children? He knew that if the serpent got into the garden, Adam and Eve would sin, that he would have to drive them out, that afterwards the world would be destroyed, and that he himself would die upon the cross.
Again, I ask what and who was this serpent? He was not a man, for only one man had been made. He was not a woman. He was not a beast of the field, because "he was more subtile than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made." He was neither fish nor fowl, nor snake, because he had the power of speech, and did not crawl upon his belly until after he was cursed. Where did this serpent come from? Why was he not kept out of the garden? Why did not the Lord God take him by the tail and snap his head off? Why did he not put Adam and Eve on their guard about this serpent? They, of course, were not acquainted in the neighborhood, and knew nothing about the serpent's reputation for truth and veracity among his neighbors. Probably Adam saw him when he was looking for "an helpmeet" and gave him a name, but Eve had never met him before. She was not surprised to hear a serpent talk, as that was the first one she had ever met. Every thing being new to her, and her husband not being with her just at that moment, it need hardly excite our wonder that she tasted the fruit by way of experiment. Neither should we be surprised that when she saw it was good and pleasant to the eye, and a fruit to be desired to make one wise, she had the generosity to divide with her husband.
Theologians have filled thousands of volumes with abuse of this serpent, but it seems that he told the exact truth. We are told that this serpent was, in fact, Satan, the greatest enemy of mankind, and that he entered the serpent, appearing to our first parents in its body. If this is so, why should the serpent have been cursed? Why should God curse the serpent for what had really been done by the devil? Did Satan remain in the body of the serpent, and in some mysterious manner share his punishment? Is it true that when we kill a snake we also destroy an evil spirit, or is there but one devil, and did he perish at the death of the first serpent? Is it on account of that transaction in the Garden of Eden, that all the descendants of Adam and Eve known as Jews and Christians hate serpents?
Do you account for the snake-worship in Mexico, Africa and India in the same way?
What was the form of the serpent when he entered the garden, and in what way did he move from place to place? Did he walk or fly? Certainly he did not crawl, because that mode of locomotion was pronounced upon him as a curse. Upon what food did he subsist before his conversation with Eve? We know that after that he lived upon dust, but what did he eat before? It may be that this is all poetic; and the truest poetry is, according to Touchstone, "the most feigning."
In this same chapter we are informed that "unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins and clothed them." Where did the Lord God get those skins? He must have taken them from the animals; he was a butcher. Then he had to prepare them; He was a tanner. Then he made them into coats; he was a tailor. How did it happen that they needed coats of skins, when they had been perfectly comfortable in a nude condition? Did the "fall" produce a change in the climate?
Is it really necessary to believe this account in order to be happy here, or hereafter? Does it tend to the elevation of the human race to speak of "God" as a butcher, tanner and tailor?
And here, let me say once for all, that when I speak of God, I mean the being described by Moses; the Jehovah of the Jews. There may be for aught I know, somewhere in the unknown shoreless vast, some being whose dreams are constellations and within whose thought the infinite exists. About this being, if such an one exists, I have nothing to say. He has written no books, inspired no barbarians, required no worship, and has prepared no hell in which to burn the honest seeker after truth.
When I speak of God, I mean that god who prevented man from putting forth his hand and taking also of the fruit of the tree of life that he might live forever; of that god who multiplied the agonies of woman, increased the weary toil of man, and in his anger drowned a world -- of that god whose altars reeked with human blood, who butchered babes, violated maidens, enslaved men and filled the earth with cruelty and crime; of that god who made heaven for the few, hell for the many, and who will gloat forever and ever upon the writhing of the lost and damned.
"AND it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them.
"That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
"And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh; yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
"And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
"And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them."
From this account it seems that driving Adam and Eve out of Eden did not have the effect to improve them or their children. On the contrary, the world grew worse and worse. They were under the immediate control and government of God, and he from time to time made known his will; but in spite of this, man continued to increase in crime.
Nothing in particular seems to have been done. Not a school was established. There was no written language. There was not a Bible in the world. The "scheme of salvation" was kept a profound secret. The five points of Calvinism had not been taught. Sunday schools had not been opened. In short, nothing had been done for the reformation of the world. God did not even keep his own sons at home, but allowed them to leave their abode in the firmament, and make love to the daughters of men. As a result of this, the world was filled with wickedness and giants to such an extent that God regretted "that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart."
Of course God knew when he made man, that he would afterwards regret it. He knew that the people would grow worse and worse until destruction would be the only remedy. He knew that he would have to kill all except Noah and his family, and it is hard to see why he did not make Noah and his family in the first place, and leave Adam and Eve in the original dust. He knew that they would be tempted, that he would have to drive them out of the garden to keep them from eating of the tree of life; that the whole thing would be a failure; that Satan would defeat his plan; that he could not reform the people; that his own sons would corrupt them, and that at last he would have to drown them all except Noah and his family. Why was the Garden of Eden planted? Why was the experiment made? Why were Adam and Eve exposed to the seductive arts of the serpent? Why did God wait until the cool of the day before looking after his children? Why was he not on hand in the morning? Why did he fill the world with his own children, knowing that he would have to destroy them? And why does this same God tell me how to raise my children when he had to drown his?
It is a little curious that when God wished to reform the ante-diluvian world he said nothing about hell; that he had no revivals, no camp-meetings, no tracts, no outpourings of the Holy Ghost, no baptisms, no noon prayer meetings, and never mentioned the great doctrine of salvation by faith. If the orthodox creeds of the world are true, all those people went to hell without ever having heard that such a place existed. If eternal torment is a fact, surely these miserable wretches ought to have been warned. They were threatened only with water when they were in fact doomed to eternal fire!
Is it not strange that God said nothing to Adam and Eve about a future life; that he should have kept these "infinite verities" to himself and allowed millions to live and die without the hope of heaven, or the fear of hell?"
It may be that hell was not made at that time. In the six days of creation nothing is said about the construction of a bottomless pit, and the serpent himself did not make his appearance until after the creation of man and woman. Perhaps he was made on the first Sunday, and from that fact came, it may be, the old couplet;
|"And Satan still some mischief finds
For idle hands to do."
The sacred historian failed also to tell us when the cherubim and the flaming sword were made, and said nothing about two of the persons composing the Trinity. It certainly would have been an easy thing "to enlighten Adam and his immediate descendants. The world was then only about fifteen hundred and thirty-six years old, and only about three or four generations of men had lived. Adam had been dead only about six hundred and six years, and some of his grandchildren must, at that time, have been alive and well.
It is hard to see why God did not civilize these people. He certainly had the power to use, and the wisdom, to devise the proper means. What right has a god to fill a world with fiends? Can there be goodness in this? Why should he make experiments that he knows must fail? Is there wisdom in this? And what right has a man to charge an infinite being with wickedness and folly?
According to Moses, God made up his mind not only to destroy the people, but the beasts and the creeping things, and the fowls of the air. What had the beasts, and the creeping things, and the birds done to excite the anger of God? Why did he repent having made them? Will some Christian give us an explanation of this matter? No good man will inflict unnecessary pain upon a beast; how then can we worship a god who cares nothing for the agonies of the dumb creatures that he made?
Why did he make animals that he knew he would destroy? Does God delight in causing pain? He had the power to make the beasts, and fowls, and creeping things in his own good time and way, and it is to be presumed that he made them according to his wish. Why should he destroy them? They had committed no sin. They had eaten no forbidden fruit, made no aprons, nor tried to reach the tree of life. Yet this god, in blind unreasoning wrath destroyed "all flesh wherein was the breath of life, and every living thing beneath the sky, and every substance wherein was life that he had made."
Jehovah having made up his mind to drown the world, told Noah to make an Ark of gopher wood three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. A cubit is twenty-two inches; so that the ark was five hundred and fifty feet long, ninety one feet and eight inches wide and fifty-five feet high. This ark was divided into three stories, and had on top, one window twenty-two inches square. Ventilation must have been one of Jehovah's hobbies. Think of a ship larger than the Great Eastern with only one window, and that but twenty-two inches square!
The ark also had one door set in the side thereof that shut from the outside. As soon as this ship was finished, and properly victualed, Noah received seven days notice to get the animals in the ark.
It is claimed by some of the scientific theologians that the flood was partial, that the waters covered only a small portion of the world, and that consequently only a few animals were in the ark. It is impossible to conceive of language that can more clearly convey the idea of a universal flood than that found in the inspired account. If the flood was only partial, why did God say he would "destroy all flesh wherein is the breath of life from under heaven, and that every thing that is in the earth shall die"? Why did he say "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, and the creeping thing and the fowls of the air"? Why did he say "And every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth"? Would a partial, local flood have fulfilled these threats?
Nothing can be clearer than that the writer of this account intended to convey, and did convey the idea that the flood was universal. Why should Christians try to deprive God of the glory of having wrought the most stupendous of miracles? Is it possible that the Infinite could not overwhelm with waves this atom called the earth? Do you doubt his power, his wisdom or his justice?
Believers in miracles should not endeavor to explain them. There is but one way to explain anything, and that is to account for it by natural agencies. The moment you explain a miracle, it disappears. You should depend not upon explanation, but assertion. You should not be driven from the field because the miracle is shown to be unreasonable. You should reply that all miracles are unreasonable. Neither should you be in the least disheartened if it is shown to be impossible. The possible is not miraculous. You should take the ground that if miracles were reasonable, and possible, there would be no reward paid for believing them. The Christian has the goodness to believe, while the sinner asks for evidence. It is enough for God to work miracles without being called upon to substantiate them for the benefit of unbelievers.
Only a few years ago, the Christians believed implicitly in the literal truth of every miracle recorded in the Bible. Whoever tried to explain them in some natural way, was looked upon as an infidel in disguise, but now he is regarded as a benefactor. The credulity of the church is decreasing, and the most marvelous miracles are now either "explained," or allowed to take refuge behind the mistakes of the translators, or hide in the drapery of allegory.
In the sixth chapter, Noah is ordered to take "of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort into the ark -- male and female." In the seventh chapter the order is changed, and Noah is commanded, according to the Protestant Bible, as follows: "Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female, and of beasts that are not clean, by two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female."
According to the Catholic Bible, Noah was commanded -- "Of all clean beasts take seven and seven, the male and the female. But of the beasts that are unclean two and two, the male and the female. Of the fowls also of the air seven and seven, the male and the female."
For the purpose of belittling this miracle, many commentators have taken the ground that Noah was not ordered to take seven males and seven females of each kind of clean beasts, but seven in all. Many Christians contend that only seven clean beasts of each kind were taken into the ark -- three and a half of each sex.
If the account in the seventh chapter means anything, it means first, that of each kind of clean beasts, fourteen were to be taken, seven males, and seven females; second, that of unclean beasts should be taken, two of each kind, one of each sex, and third, that he should take of every kind of fowls, seven of each sex.
It is equally clear that the command in the 19th and 20th verses of the 6th chapter, is to take two of each sort, one male and one female. And this agrees exactly with the account in the 7th, 8th, 9th, 14th, 15th, and 16th verses of the 7th chapter.
The next question is, how many beasts, fowls and creeping things did Noah take into the ark?
There are now known and classified at least twelve thousand five hundred species of birds. There are still vast territories in China, South America, and Africa unknown to the ornithologist.
Of the birds, Noah took fourteen of each species, according to the 3d verse of the 7th chapter, "Of fowls also of the air by sevens" the male and the female," making a total of 175,000 birds.
And right here allow me to ask a question. If the flood was simply a partial flood, why were birds taken into the ark? It seems to me that most birds, attending strictly to business, might avoid a partial flood.
There are at least sixteen hundred and fifty-eight kinds of beasts. Let us suppose that twenty-five of these are clean. Of the clean, fourteen of each kind -- seven of each sex -- were taken. These amount to 350. Of the unclean -- two of each kind, amounting to 3,266. There are some six hundred and fifty species of reptiles. Two of each kind amount to 1,300. And lastly, there are of insects including the creeping things, at least one million species, so that Noah and his folks had to get of these into the ark about 2,000,000.
Animalculæ have not been taken into consideration. There are probably many hundreds of thousands of species; many of them invisible; and yet Noah had to pick them out by pairs. Very few people have any just conception of the trouble Noah had.
We know that there are many animals on this continent not found in the Old world. These must have been carried from here to the ark, and then brought back afterwards. Were the peccary, armadillo, ant-eater, sloth, agouti, vampire-bat, marmoset, howling and prehensile-tailed monkey, the raccoon and muskrat carried by the angels from America to Asia? How did they get there? Did the polar bear leave his field of ice and journey toward the tropics? How did he know where the ark was? Did the kangaroo swim or jump from Australia to Asia? Did the giraffe, hippopotamus, antelope and orang-outang journey from Africa in search of the ark? Can absurdities go farther than this?
What had these animals to eat while on the journey? What did they eat while in the ark? What did they drink? When the rain came, of course the rivers ran to the seas, and these seas rose and finally covered the world. The waters of the seas, mingled with those of the flood, would make all salt. It has been calculated that it required, to drown the world, about eight times as much water as was in all the seas. To find how much salt the waters of the flood must have been, take eight quarts of fresh water, and add one quart from the sea. Such water would create instead of allaying thirst. Noah had to take in his ark fresh water for all his beasts, birds and living things. He had to take the proper food for all. How long was he in the ark? Three hundred and seventy-seven days! Think of the food necessary for the monsters of the ante-diluvian world!
Eight persons did all the work. They attended to the wants of 175,000 birds, 3,616 beasts, 1,300 reptiles, and 2,000,000 insects, saying nothing of countless animalculæ.
Well, after they all got in, Noah pulled down the window, God shut the door, and the rain commenced.
How long did it rain?
How deep did the water get?
About five miles and a half"
How much did it rain a day?
Enough to cover the whole world to a depth of about seven hundred and forty-two feet.
Some Christians say that the fountains of the great deep were broken up. Will they be kind enough to tell us what the fountains of the great deep are? Others say that God had vast stores of water in the center of the earth that he used on that occasion. How did these waters happen to run up hill?
Gentlemen, allow me to tell you once more that you must not try to explain these things. Your efforts in that direction do no good, because your explanations are harder to believe than the miracle itself. Take my advice, stick to assertion, and let explanation alone.
Then, as now, Dhawalagiri lifted its crown of snow twenty-nine thousand feet above the level of the sea, and on the cloudless clefts of Chimborazo then, as now, sat the condor; and yet the waters rising seven hundred and twenty-six feet a day -- thirty feet an hour, six inches a minute, -- rose over the hills, over the volcanoes, filled the vast craters, extinguished all the fires, rose above every mountain peak until the vast world was but one shoreless sea covered with the innumerable dead.
Was this the work of the most merciful God, the father of us all? If there is a God, can there be the slightest danger of incurring his displeasure by doubting even in a reverential way, the truth of such a cruel lie? If we think that God is kinder than he really is, will our poor souls be burned for that?
How many trees can live under miles of water for a year? What became of the soil washed, scattered, dissolved, and covered with the debris of a world? How were the tender plants and herbs preserved? How were the animals preserved after leaving the ark? There was no grass except such as had been submerged for a year. There were no animals to be devoured by the carnivorous beasts. What became of the birds that fed on worms and insects? What became of the birds that devoured other birds?
It must be remembered that the pressure of the water when at the highest point -- say twenty-nine thousand feet, would have been about eight hundred tons on each square foot. Such a pressure certainly would have destroyed nearly every vestige of vegetable life, so that when the animals came out of the ark, there was not a mouthful of food in the wide world. How were they supported until the world was again clothed with grass? How were those animals taken care of that subsisted on others? Where did the bees get honey, and the ants seeds? There was not a creeping thing upon the whole earth; not a breathing creature beneath the whole heavens; not a living substance. Where did the tenants of the ark get food?
There is but one answer, if the story is true. The food necessary not only during the year of the flood, but sufficient for many months afterwards, must have been stored in the ark.
There is probably not an animal in the world that will not, in a year, eat and drink ten times its weight. Noah must have provided food and water for a year while in the ark, and food for at least six months after they got ashore. It must have required for a pair of elephants, about one hundred and fifty tons of food and water. A couple of mammoths would have required about twice that amount. Of course there were other monsters that lived on trees; and in a year would have devoured quite a forest.
How could eight persons have distributed this food, even if the ark had been large enough to hold it? How was the ark kept clean? We know how it was ventilated; but what was done with the filth? How were the animals watered? How were some portions of the ark heated for animals from the tropics, and others kept cool for the polar bears? How did the animals get back to their respective countries? Some had to creep back about six thousand miles, and they could only go a few feet a day. Some of the creeping things must have started for the ark just as soon as they were made, and kept up a steady jog for sixteen hundred years. Think of a couple of the slowest snails leaving a point opposite the ark and starting for the plains of Shinar, a distance of twelve thousand miles. Going at the rate of a mile a month, it would take them a thousand years. How did they get there? Polar bears must have gone several thousand miles, and so sudden a change in climate must have been exceedingly trying upon their health. How did they know the way to go? Of course, all the polar bears did not go. Only two were required. Who selected these?
Two sloths had to make the journey from South America. These creatures cannot travel to exceed three rods a day. At this rate, they would make a mile in about a hundred days. They must have gone about six thousand five hundred miles, to reach the ark. Supposing them to have traveled by a reasonably direct route, in order to complete the journey before Noah hauled in the plank, they must have started several years before the world was created. We must also consider that these sloths had to board themselves on the way, and that most of their time had to be taken up getting food and water. It is exceedingly doubtful whether a sloth could travel six thousand miles and board himself in less than three thousand years.
Volumes might be written upon the infinite absurdity of this most incredible, wicked and foolish of all the fables contained in that repository of the impossible, called the Bible. To me it is a matter of amazement, that it ever was for a moment believed by any intelligent human being.
Dr. Adam Clarke says that "the animals were brought to the ark by the power of God, and their enmities were so removed or suspended, that the lion could dwell peaceably with the lamb, and the wolf sleep happily by the side of the kid. There is no positive evidence that animal food was ever used before the flood. Noah had the first grant of this kind."
Dr. Scott remarks, "There seems to have been a very extraordinary miracle, perhaps by the ministration of angels, in bringing two of every species to Noah, and rendering them submissive, and peaceful with each other. Yet it seems not to have made any impression upon the hardened spectators. The suspension of the ferocity of the savage beasts during their continuance in the ark is generally considered as an apt figure of the change that takes place in the disposition of sinners when they enter the true church of Christ."
He believed the deluge to have been universal. In his day science had not demonstrated the absurdity of this belief, and he was not compelled to resort to some theory not found in the Bible. He insisted that "by some vast convulsion, the very bowels of the earth were forced upwards, and rain poured down in cataracts and water-spouts, with no intermission for forty days and nights, and until in every place a universal deluge was effected.
"The presence of God was the only comfort of Noah in his dreary confinement, and in witnessing the dire devastation of the earth and its inhabitants, and especially of the human species -- of his companions, his neighbors, his relatives -- all those to whom he had preached, for whom he had prayed and over whom he had wept, and even of many who had helped to build the ark.
"It seems that by a peculiar providential interposition, no animal of any sort died, although they had been shut up in the ark above a year; and it does not appear that there had been any increase of them during that time.
"The Ark was flat-bottomed -- square at each end -- roofed like a house so that it terminated at the top in the breadth of a cubit. It was divided into many little cabins for its intended inhabitants. Pitched within and without to keep it tight and sweet, and lighted from the upper part. But it must, at first sight, be evident that so large a vessel, thus constructed, with so few persons on board, was utterly unfitted to weather out the deluge, except it was under the immediate guidance and protection of the Almighty."
Dr. Henry furnished the Christian world with the following: --
"As our bodies have in them the humors which, when God pleases, become the springs and seeds of mortal disease, so the earth had, in its bowels, those waters which, at God's command, sprung up and flooded it.
"God made the world in six days, but he was forty days in destroying it, because he is slow to anger.
"The hostilities between the animals in the ark ceased, and ravenous creatures became mild and manageable, so that the wolf lay down with the lamb, and the lion ate straw like an ox.
"God shut the door of the ark to secure Noah and to keep him safe, and because it was necessary that the door should be shut very close lest the water should break in and sink the ark, and very fast lest others might break it down.
"The waters rose so high that not only the low flat countries were deluged, but to make sure work and that none might escape, the tops of the highest mountains were overflowed fifteen cubits. That is, seven and a half yards, so that salvation was not hoped for from hills or mountains.
"Perhaps some of the people got to the top of the ark, and hoped to shift for themselves there. But either they perished there for want of food, or the dashing rain washed them off the top. Others, it may be, hoped to prevail with Noah for admission into the ark, and plead old acquaintance.
"'Have we not eaten and drank in thy presence? Hast thou not preached in our streets?' 'Yea,' said Noah, 'many a time, but to little purpose. I called but ye refused; and now it is not in my power to help you. God has shut the door and I cannot open it.'
"We may suppose that some of those who perished in the deluge had themselves assisted Noah, or were employed by him in building the ark.
"Hitherto, man had been confined to feed only upon the products of the earth, fruits, herbs and roots, and all sorts of greens, and milk, which was the first grant; but the flood having perhaps washed away much of the fruits of the earth, and rendered them much less pleasant and nourishing, God enlarged the grant and allowed him to eat flesh, which perhaps man never thought of until now, that God directed him to it. Nor had he any more desire to it than the sheep has to suck blood like the wolf. But now, man is allowed to feed upon flesh as freely and safely as upon the green herb."
Such was the debasing influence of a belief in the literal truth of the Bible upon these men, that their commentaries are filled with passages utterly devoid of common sense.
Dr. Clarke speaking of the mammoth says:
"This animal" an astonishing proof of God's power, he seems to have produced merely to show what he could do. And after suffering a few of them to propagate, he extinguished the race by a merciful providence, that they might not destroy both man and beast.
"We are told that it would have been much easier for God to destroy all the people and make new ones, but he would not want to waste anything and no power or skill should be lavished where no necessity exists.
"The animals were brought to the ark by the power of God."
Again gentlemen, let me warn you of the danger of trying to explain a miracle. Let it alone. Say that you do not understand it, and do not expect to until taught in the schools of the New Jerusalem. The more reasons you give, the more unreasonable the miracle will appear. Through what you say in defence, people are led to think, and as soon as they really think, the miracle is thrown away.
Among the most ignorant nations you will find the most wonders, among the most enlightened, the least. It is with individuals, the same as with nations. Ignorance believes, Intelligence examines and explains.
For about seven months the ark, with its cargo of men, animals and insects, tossed and wandered without rudder or sail upon a boundless sea. At last it grounded on the mountains of Ararat; and about three months afterward the tops of the mountains became visible. It must not be forgotten that the mountain where the ark is supposed to have first touched bottom, was about seventeen thousand feet high. How were the animals from the tropics kept warm? When the waters were abated it would be intensely cold at a point seventeen thousand feet above the level of the sea. May be there were stoves, furnaces, fire places and steam coils in the ark, but they are not mentioned in the inspired narrative. How were the animals kept from freezing? It will not do to say that Ararat was not very high after all.
If you will read the fourth and fifth verses of the eight chapter you will see that although "the ark rested in the seventh month" on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat, it was not until the first day of the tenth month, "that the tops of the mountains could be seen." From this it would seem that the ark must have rested upon about the highest peak in that country. Noah waited forty days more, and then for the first time opened the window and took a breath of fresh air. He then sent out a raven that did not return, then a dove that returned. He then waited seven days and sent forth a dove that returned not. From this he knew that the waters were abated. Is it possible that he could not see whether the waters had gone? Is it possible to conceive of a more perfectly childish way of ascertaining whether the earth was dry?
At last Noah "removed the covering of the ark, and looked and behold the face of the ground was dry," and thereupon God told him to disembark. In his gratitude Noah built an altar and took of every clean beast and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings. And the Lord smelled a sweet savor and said in his heart that he would not any more curse the ground for man's sake. For saying this in his heart the Lord gives as a reason, not that man is, or will be good, but because "the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth." God destroyed man because "the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and because every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only continually." And he promised for the same reason not to destroy him again. Will some gentleman skilled in theology give us an explanation?
After God had smelled the sweet savor of sacrifice, he seems to have changed his idea as to the proper diet for man. When Adam and Eve were created they were allowed to eat herbs bearing seed, and the fruit of trees. When they were turned out of Eden, God said to them "Thou shalt eat the herb of the field." In the first chapter of Genesis the "green herb" was given for food to the beasts, fowls and creeping things. Upon being expelled from the garden, Adam and Eve, as to their food, were put upon an equality with the lower animals. According to this, the ante-diluvians were vegetarians. This may account for their wickedness and longevity.
After Noah sacrificed, and God smelled the sweet savor; he said -- "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you, even as the green herb have I given you all things." afterward this same God changed his mind again, and divided the beasts and birds into clean and unclean, and made it a crime for man to eat the unclean. Probably food was so scarce when Noah was let out of the ark that Jehovah generously allowed him to eat anything and everything he could find.
According to the account, God then made a covenant with Noah to the effect that he would not again destroy the world with a flood and as the attesting witness of this contract, a rainbow was set in the cloud. This bow was placed in the sky so that it might perpetually remind God of his promise and covenant. Without this visible witness and reminder, it would seem that Jehovah was liable to forget the contract, and drown the world again. Did the rainbow originate in this way? Did God put it in the cloud simply to keep his agreement in his memory?
For me it is impossible to believe the story of the deluge. It seems so cruel, so barbaric, so crude in detail, so absurd in all its parts, and so contrary to all we know of law, that even credulity itself is shocked.
Many nations have preserved accounts of a deluge in which all people, except a family or two, were destroyed. Babylon was certainly a city before Jerusalem was founded. Egypt was in the height of her power when there were only seventy Jews in the world, and India had a literature before the name of Jehovah had passed the lips of superstition. An account of a general deluge "was discovered by George Smith, translated from another account that was written about two thousand years before Christ." Of course it is impossible to tell how long the story had lived in the memory of tradition before it was reduced to writing by the Babylonians. According to this account, which is, without doubt, much older than the one given by Moses, Tamzi built a ship at the command of the god Hea, and put in it his family and the beasts of the field. He pitched the ship inside and outside with bitumen, and as soon as it was finished, there came a flood of rain and "destroyed all life from the face of the whole earth. On the seventh day there was a calm, and the ship stranded on the mountain Nizir." Tamzi waited for seven days more, and then let out a dove. Afterwards, he let out a swallow, and that, as well as the dove returned. Then he let out a raven, and as that did not return, he concluded that the water had dried away, and thereupon left the ship. Then he made an offering to god, or the gods, and "Hea interceded with Bel," so that the earth might never again be drowned.
This is the Babylonian story, told without the contradictions of the original. For in that, it seems, there are two accounts, as well as in the Bible. Is it not a strange coincidence that there should be contradictory accounts mingled in both the Babylonian and Jewish stories?
In the Bible there are two accounts. In one account, Noah was to take two of all beasts, birds, and creeping things into the ark, while in the other, he was commanded to take of clean beasts, and all birds by sevens of each kind. According to one account, the flood only lasted one hundred and fifty days -- as related in the third verse of the eighth chapter; while the other account fixes the time at three hundred and seventy-seven days. Both of these accounts cannot be true. Yet in order to be saved, it is not sufficient to believe one of them -- you must believe both.
Among the Egyptians there was a story to the effect that the great god Ra became utterly maddened with the people, and deliberately made up his mind that he would exterminate mankind. Thereupon he began to destroy, and continued in the terrible work until blood flowed in streams, when suddenly he ceased, and took an oath that he would not again destroy the human race. This myth was probably thousands of years old when Moses was born.
So, in India, there was a fable about the flood. A fish warned Manu that a flood was coming. Manu built a "box" and the fish towed it to a mountain and saved all hands.
The same kind of stories were told in Greece, and among our own Indian tribes. At one time the Christian pointed to the fact that many nations told of a flood, as evidence of the truth of the Mosaic account; but now, it having been shown that other accounts are much older, and equally reasonable, that argument has ceased to be of any great value.
It is probable that all these accounts had a common origin. They were likely born of something in nature visible to all nations. The idea of a universal flood, produced by a god to drown the world on account of the sins of the people, is infinitely absurd. The solution of all these stories has been supposed to be, the existence of partial floods in most countries; and for a long time this solution was satisfactory. But the fact that these stories are greatly alike, that only one man is warned, that only one family is saved, that a boat is built, that birds are sent out to find if the water had abated, tend to show that they had a common origin. Admitting that there were severe floods in all countries; it certainly cannot follow that in each instance only one family would be saved, or that the same story would in each instance be told. It may be urged that the natural tendency of man to exaggerate calamities, might account for this agreement in all the accounts, and it must be admitted that there is some force in the suggestion. I believe, though, that the real origin of all these myths is the same, and that it was originally an effort to account for the sun, moon and stars. The sun and moon were the man and wife, or the god and goddess, and the stars were their children. From a celestial myth, it became a terrestrial one; the air, or ether-ocean became a flood, produced by rain, and the sun moon and stars became man, woman and children.
In the original story, the mountain was the place where in the far east the sky was supposed to touch the earth, and it was there that the ship containing the celestial passengers finally rested from its voyage. But whatever may be the origin of the stories of the flood, whether told first by Hindu, Babylonian or Hebrew, we may rest perfectly assured that they are all equally false.
Bacchus and Babel.
AS soon as Noah had disembarked, he proceeded to plant a vineyard, and began to be a husbandman; and when the grapes were ripe he made wine and drank of it to excess; cursed his grandson, blessed Shem and Japheth, and after that lived for three hundred and fifty years. What he did during these three hundred and fifty years, we are not told. We never hear of him again. For three hundred and fifty years he lived among his sons, and daughters, and their descendants. He must have been a venerable man. He was the man to whom God had made known his intention of drowning the world. By his efforts, the human race had been saved. He must have been acquainted with Methuselah for six hundred years, and Methuselah was about two hundred and forty years old, when Adam died. Noah must himself have known the history of mankind and must have been an object of almost infinite interest; and yet for three hundred and fifty years he is neither directly nor indirectly mentioned. When Noah died, Abraham must have been more than fifty years old; and Shem, the son of Noah, lived for several hundred years after the death of Abraham; and yet he is never mentioned. Noah when he died, was the oldest man in the whole world by about five hundred years; and everybody living at the time of his death knew that they were indebted to him, and yet no account is given of his burial. No monument was raised to mark the spot. This, however, is no more wonderful than the fact that no account is given of the death of Adam or of Eve, nor of the place of their burial. This may all be accounted for by the fact that the language of man was confounded at the building of the tower of Babel, whereby all tradition may have been lost, so that even the sons of Noah could not give an account of their voyage in the ark; and, consequently, some one had to be directly inspired to tell the story, after new languages had been formed.
It has always been a mystery to me how Adam, Eve, and the serpent were taught the same language. Where did they get it? We know now, that it requires a great number of years to form a language; that it is of exceedingly slow growth. We also know that by language, man conveys to his fellows the impressions made upon him by what he sees, hears, smells and touches. We know that the language of the savage consists of a few sounds, capable of expressing only a few ideas or states of the mind, such as love, desire, fear, hatred, aversion and contempt. Many centuries are required to produce a language capable of expressing complex ideas. It does not seem to me that ideas can be manufactured by a deity and put in the brain of man. These ideas must be the result of observation and experience.
Does anybody believe that God directly taught a language to Adam and Eve, or that he so made them that they, by intuition spoke Hebrew, or some language capable of conveying to each other their thoughts? How did the serpent learn the same language? Did God teach it to him, or did he happen to overhear God, when he was teaching Adam and Eve? We are told in the second chapter of Genesis that God caused all the animals to pass before Adam to see what he would call them. We cannot infer from this that God named the animals and informed Adam what to call them. Adam named them himself. Where did he get his words? We cannot imagine a man just made out of dust, without the experience of a moment, having the power to put his thoughts in language. In the first place, we cannot conceive of his having any thoughts until he has combined, through experience and observation, the impressions that nature had made upon him through the medium of his senses. We cannot imagine of his knowing anything, in the first instance, about different degrees of heat, nor about darkness, if he was made in the day-time, nor about light, if created at night, until the next morning. Before a man can have what we call thoughts, he must have had a little experience. Something must have happened to him before he can have a thought, and before he can express himself in language. Language is a growth, not a gift. We account now for the diversity of language by the fact that tribes and nations have had different experiences, different wants, different surroundings, and, one result of all these differences is, among other things, a difference in language. Nothing can be more absurd than to account for the different languages of the world by saying that the original language was confounded at the tower of Babel.
According to the Bible, up to the time of the building of that tower, the whole earth was of one language and of one speech, and would have so remained until the present time had not an effort been made to build a tower whose top should reach into heaven. Can any one imagine what objection God would have to the building of such a tower? And how could the confusion of tongues prevent its construction? How could language be confounded? It could be confounded only by the destruction of memory. Did God destroy the memory of mankind at that time, and if so, how? Did he paralyze that portion of the brain presiding over the organs of articulation, so that they could not speak the words, although they remembered them clearly, or did he so touch the brain that they could not hear? Will some theologian, versed in the machinery of the miraculous, tell us in what way God confounded the language of mankind?
Why would the confounding of the language make them separate? Why would they not stay together until they could understand each other? people will not separate from weakness. When in trouble they come together and desire the assistance of each other. Why, in this instance, did they separate? What particular ones would naturally come together if nobody understood the language of any other person? Would it not have been just as hard to agree when and where to go, without any language to express the agreement, as to go on with the building of the tower?
Is it possible that any one now believes that the whole world would be of one speech had the language not been confounded at Babel? Do we not know that every word was suggested in some way by the experience of man? Do we not know that words are continually dying, and continually being born; that every language has its cradle and its cemetery -- its buds, its blossoms, its fruits and its withered leaves? Man has loved, enjoyed, hated, suffered and hoped, and all words have been born of these experiences.
Why did "the Lord come down to see the city and the tower"? Could he not see them from where he lived or from where he was? Where did he come down from? Did he come in the daytime, or in the night? We are taught now that God is everywhere; that he inhabits immensity; that he is in every atom, and in every star. If this is true, why did he "come down to see the city and the tower?" Will some theologian explain this?
After all, is it not much easier and altogether more reasonable to say that Moses was mistaken, that he knew little of the science of language, and that he guessed a great deal more than he investigated?
Faith in Filth.
NO light whatever is shed upon what passed in the world after the confounding of language at Babel, until the birth of Abraham. But, before speaking of the history of the Jewish people, it may be proper for me to say that many things are recounted in Genesis, and other books attributed to Moses, of which I do not wish to speak. There are many pages of these books unfit to read, many stories not calculated, in my judgment, to improve the morals of mankind. I do not wish even to call the attention of my readers to these things, except in a general way. It is to be hoped that the time will come when such chapters and passages as cannot be read without leaving the blush of shame upon the cheek of modesty, will be left out, and not published as a part of the Bible. If there is a God, it certainly is blasphemous to attribute to him the authorship of pages too obscene, beastly and vulgar to be read in the presence of men and women.
The believers in the Bible are loud in their denunciation of what they are pleased to call the immoral literature of the world; and yet few books have been published containing more moral filth than this inspired word of God. These stories are not redeemed by a single flash of wit or humor. They never rise above the dull details of stupid vice. For one, I cannot afford to soil my pages with extracts from them; and all such portions of the Scriptures I leave to be examined, written upon, and explained by the clergy. Clergymen may know some way by which they can extract honey from these flowers. Until these passages are expunged from the Old Testament, it is not a fit book to be read by either old or young. It contains pages that no minister in the United States would read to his congregation for any reward whatever. There are chapters that no gentleman would read in the presence of a lady. There are chapters that no father would read to his child. There are narratives utterly unfit to be told; and the time will come when mankind will wonder that such a book was ever called inspired.
I know that in many books besides the Bible, there are immodest lines. Some of the greatest writers have soiled their pages with indecent words. We account for this by saying that the authors were human; that they catered to the taste and spirit of their times. We make excuses, but at the same time regret that in their works they left an impure word. But what shall we say of God? Is it possible that a being of infinite purity -- the author of modesty, would smirch the pages of his book with stories lewd, licentious and obscene? If God is the author of the Bible, it is, of course, the standard by which all other books can, and should be measured. If the Bible is not obscene, what book is? Why should men be imprisoned simply for imitating God? The Christian world should never say another word against immoral books until it makes the inspired volume clean. These vile and filthy things were not written for the purpose of conveying and enforcing moral truth, but seem to have been written because the author loved an unclean thing. There is no moral depth below that occupied by the writer or publisher of obscene books, that stain with lust, the loving heart of youth. Such men should be imprisoned and their books destroyed. The literature of the world should be rendered decent, and no book should be published that cannot be read by, and in the hearing of the best and purest people. But as long as the Bible is considered as the work of God, it will be hard to make all men too good and pure to imitate it; and as long as it is imitated there will be vile and filthy books. The literature of our country will not be sweet and clean until the Bible ceases to be regarded as the production of a god.
We are continually told that the Bible is the very foundation of modesty and morality; while many of its pages are so immodest and immoral that a minister, for reading them in the pulpit, would be instantly denounced as an unclean wretch. Every woman would leave the church, and if the men stayed, it would be for the purpose of chastising the minister.
Is there any saving grace in hypocrisy? Will men become clean in speech by believing that God is unclean? Would it not be far better to admit that the Bible was written by barbarians in a barbarous, coarse and vulgar age? Would it not be safer to charge Moses with vulgarity, instead of God? Is it not altogether more probable that some ignorant Hebrew would write the vulgar words? The Christians tell me that God is the author of these vile and stupid things? I have examined the question to the best of my ability, and as to God my verdict is: -- Not guilty. Faith should not rest in filth.
Every foolish and immodest thing should be expunged from the Bible. Let us keep the good. Let us preserve every great and splendid thought, every wise and prudent maxim, every just law, every elevated idea, and every word calculated to make man nobler and purer, and let us have the courage to throw the rest away. The souls of children should not be stained and soiled. The charming instincts of youth should not be corrupted and defiled. The girls and boys should not be taught that unclean words were uttered by "inspired" lips. Teach them that these words were born of savagery and lust. Teach them that the unclean is the unholy, and that only the pure is sacred.