« AnteriorContinuar »
asked to believe. And when there exists more than one revelation claiming to be “divine," and these are of a contradictory nature, we naturally again seek to know which of them is the true one, for they cannot all be true, and yet contradictory; and whether any one of them is true; or whether the only revelation that is possible, and which we know anything about, is the natural one, which, as we have seen above, is derived from science.
The very fact of there being more than one “revelation” is sufficient to raise doubts in the minds of reasoning people as to the validity of any of them. The particular “revelation” which the average man accepts depends upon the accident of his birth. Creeds follow geographical lines. If we happen to be born in Great Britain or the British colonies, we adopt one of the many varieties of Christianism ; if in Turkey, Mohammedanism; if in China, Taoism, Confucianism, or Buddhism ; if in India, Brahmanism; if in Persia or a certain quarter of Bombay, Parseeism, etc. And each “revelation" claims divine origin. The Mohammedan appeals to the Koran, the Parsee to the Zend-avesta, the Taoist to the Tau-teh-king, the Buddhist to his Tripitaka, the Brahman to his Vedas, and the Christian to his Bible. All are divine ! Though we observe in these phases of faith many resemblances suggestive of borrowing and derivation, we also observe differences in important details. Each considers itself orthodox, and regards the rest as heretical or infidel. Our notion of truth or heresy, therefore, is modified according to the place of our birth and the sphere of our education.
We have seen, then, that most countries have adopted some
“revelation" as their own. This adoption has been generally due to accident in the first instance, the result of heated controversy or actual war; adherence to any particular revelation by individuals being, in the majority of cases, thus dependent upon the accident of birth, though occasionally we see thinkers adopt an extraneous religion by choice. The particular revelation which fortuitous circumstances have placed in a dominant position in Europe, and which the accident of birth has placed us in imminent contact with, is the “Christian” revelation. This not only claims our interest and attention, but it somewhat aggressively demands these from us.
Now, for all practical purposes, we may consider the Christian Church to be divided into two portions-Protestant and Catholic ; but neither of these represents the teaching of either the Jessæans, as the first Christians were called, or of the "early” Christians. For a thousand years the doctrine of the “Atonement” was unknown in the Christian Church; "it originated,” says Draper, “among the Gnostics, and was not admitted by the Alexandrian theological school, nor was it brought into its present commanding position until the time of Anselm (1033-1109]. Philo Judæus speaks of the story of the 'Fall' as symbolical ; Origen regarded it as an allegory !"
Now, it strikes us at once that the manner of the delivery of this Christian “revelation ”—intended, as it is asserted, for the salvation of the whole world—was distinctly clumsy, and much too badly conceived to have any claim to divine origin, and therefore to acceptance by those whose minds are open to reason.
The existence of the great American continent, and of the greater part of the European, African, and Asiatic continents, was evidently unknown, and their peoples were entirely omitted from the scheme of salvation ; while a handful of ignorant, obscene, and superstitious gipsy tribes in and around Judæa were taken into the divine confidence. And not
a line of this so-called revelation was left by the Messiah himself
, whose special mission it was to proclaim it; but, instead, we find a collection of old writings—some Jewish and others early Christian—all of which are, as regards authorship, worse than anonymous ; for they had names attached to them, as authors, of ignorant and illiterate fishermen, because of their being “Apostles” of the so-called “Messiah,” in order to deliberately deceive the reader. These old writings were so numerous, and so full of absurd legends —which, if retained, would expose their origin—that they had to be “weeded out,” and a great many discarded. Some were discarded which had previously been decided to have been “inspired”; and some which had previously been discarded, and decided not to be inspired, were, at a later day, decided to be “inspired.” These which were finally decided to be authentic, and were retained, forming what is called the “ Bible Canon,” have all the evidences, equally with the discarded writings, of purely human origin ; and
the sources of the dogmas which are founded upon them can be distinctly traced chiefly to Buddhism, and to the older religions of Babylonia, Persia, Phoenicia, Egypt, etc. They were bound together with the Hebrew “Pentateuch," and form what is called by Christians “ The Bible.”
The leading myths—such as the supernatural birth and death of a “Šaviour,” to redeem mankind from a sin supposed to have been committed by ancestors many centuries before, and the various other events in his life-contained in this revelation " are found forming prominent features in old Jewish, Essene, and Buddhist legends, having been added to and embellished through successive generations.
Then, as regards the scheme of salvation contained in the “revelation." Believers are not even agreed among themselves as to its details, or the conditions for obtaining the promised salvation, but are divided up into a bewildering
ül, ils ne array of sects, from Catholicism-which is itself divideddown to the latest development of Protestantism. The good Catholic hopes to obtain eternal life by perpetually eating the flesh of his God; the good Protestant declares this to be an abomination, and places his hopes on a simple act of faith in the saving power of a name. The energies and resources of both are wasted in quarrelling and fighting among themselves—even to the extent of cruel persecution and death; and they employ their time adopting subtle and artful devices to make converts from each other. In these schisms they simply exemplify the contradictions presented by their “revelation "; yet, marvellous to relate, the only point these sects agree upon is the necessity of appeal to this written "revelation,” the vagueness of whose mysterious allegories yields so many interpretations ! It is blindly accepted on the assumption that it is “inspired "-very few ever attempting to inquire or to trouble themselves as to whether it is or is not; and those who refuse to blindly accept as inspired and true what reason and evidence disprove, are threatened with divine vengeance of eternal duration.
When we come to analyze the nature of this “revelation," we find that it contains a scheme of redemption arranged on distinctly immoral lines. It consists in the creation of man, his temptation by his Creator, his consequent “fall” from
his pristine innocence, and the cursing of his future generations-little innocent unborn babes! The redemption is not of the person who committed the act of theft, but of people who had no hand in the sin for which they are con
Then the redemption is effected by the blood of an innocent man, who is said to have suffered as a sacrificed redeemer. Here we have man created—an act in which he himself had no voice; a devil also created to tempt man to eat of a particular tree, and deliberately placed in the former's way, in order that he might fall. The Creator did all this ! A Creator represented as omnipotent and omniscient, and omnieverything, until he is wanted to do something useful or beneficial to helpless mankind whom he has created, when he is nowhere to be found; a Creator who, if he created the devil, could have destroyed him, and so prevented him from doing further mischief. Again, the Creator must have known that man would fall if he placed that tree in front of him. Then why did he do it? It is useless to say that he did it to try man, for, if man was weak enough not to stand the trial, who made him so ? However, the deity created all, so the legend goes, and then blamed Adam for the mischief that he himself had wrought with his own divine hands; and not only Adam, but all his future progeny unborn, are to take their share of blame and suffer punishment! And we are asked in all sober gravity and solemnity to believe all this. We are asked also to believe that future man was so steeped in the sin of his first parents that it required the blood of an innocent man to redeem him from a crime he never committed ! The deity was to murder, or allow to be murdered, his own incarnate son as a sacrifice to himself! And how did the supposed sacrifice take place ? Not in an honest and straightforward manner a sacrifice, but in back-door manner. A malefactor, hung by the Roman Government as a preacher of sedition, is held up as the sacrificed one! Wherein did his gibbeting differ from the gibbeting of the two thieves who are said to have suffered at the same time? There was no more evidence that he was a Messiah than that they were. If he was sacrificed, so were they.
Then, for those who cannot believe in the divine origin of all this literary rubbish, or in the divine character of the
malefactor punished by the Roman Government for sedition, a Hell is specially created, where all these divine creations who dare to use their reasoning faculties are doomed to eternal torments. The few chosen and elect ones, whose weakness of mind and credulity permit them to be “drawn” and so predestined by the Creator, and credit the story the priests have prepared for them, are to enjoy the bliss of Paradise forever. Can we conceive a more unjust act than that of picking out from among the people of the world one particular people—not even a nation—as chosen ones, to the neglect of the remainder; or a more unwise one, as it turned out, for the choice did not reflect any
upon the deity whose patronage was scornfully rejected ? What had all the other nations of the world done that they should be left out of the scheme of salvation ? And what was there to recommend these Hebrew tribes to such special attention by the deity ; and did they have any special mark of their superiority over other nations by reason of this important Revelation ” that was made to them ? Did they conquer the world, raise great men, or
even raise themselves from their vagrant and servile condition into a nation? No; but the Romans-forgotten or neglected by the deity-not only conquered the world, but also the divinely-protected Jews themselves. Will the latter bear comparison with the former, with the Greeks, or even with the ancient Egyptians or Babylonians ? Who have produced the greatest men-soldiers, statesmen, poets, sculptors, orators, etc., etc.—the chosen people or the forgotten ones? Did Athens or Judæa produce the greater intellect and art ? The chosen ones had their city taken, and their Temple—the very residence of their God, and the ark which contained him-destroyed; during which, however, a priestly fraud that had been perpetrated for many centuries was detected, for when the conquering General went to look into the ark, behold, there was nothing in it, it was empty!