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Tribute Renan

Robert Green Ingersoll

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          Contents of this file                           page

     ERNEST RENAN.                                          1
     A TRIBUTE TO MRS. IDA WHITING KNOWLES.                 12
     AT THE GRAVE OF BENJ. W. PARKER.                       13
     A TRIBUTE TO DR. THOMAS SETON ROBERTSON.               14
     A YOUNG MAN'S CHANCES TO-DAY.                          15

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          This file, its printout, or copies of either
          are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold.

          Bank of Wisdom, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201

                The Works of ROBERT G. INGERSOLL

                          ****    ****

                          ERNEST RENAN.

                              1892

               "Blessed are those
          Whose blood and judgment are so well co-mingled
          That they are not a pipe for fortune's finger
          To sound what stop she please."

     ERNEST RENAN is dead. Another source of light; another force
of civilization; another charming personality; another brave soul,
graceful in thought, generous in deed; a sculptor in speech, a
colorist in words -- clothing all in the poetry born of a
delightful union of heart and brain -- has passed to the realm of
rest.

     Reared under the influences of Catholicism, educated for the
priesthood, yet by reason of his natural genius, he began to think.
Forces that utterly subjugate and enslave the mind of mediocrity
sometimes rouse to thought and action the superior soul.

     Renan began to think -- a dangerous thing for a Catholic to
do. Thought leads to doubt, doubt to investigation, investigation
to truth -- the enemy of all superstition.

     He lifted the Catholic extinguisher from the light and flame
of reason. He found that his mental vision was improved. He read
the Scriptures for himself, examined them as he did other books not
claiming to be inspired. He found the same mistakes, the same
prejudices, the same miraculous impossibilities in the book
attributed to God that he found in those known to have been written
by men.

     Into the path of reason, or rather into the highway, Renan was
led by Henriette, his sister, to whom he pays a tribute that has
the perfume of a perfect flower.

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     "I was," writes Renan, "brought up by women and priests, and
therein lies the whole explanation of my good qualities and of my
defects." In most that he wrote is the tenderness of woman, only
now and then a little touch of the priest showing itself, mostly in
a reluctance to spoil the ivy by tearing down some prison built by
superstition.

     In spite of the heartless "scheme" of things he still found it
in his heart to say, "When God shall be complete, He will be just,"
at the same time saying that "nothing proves to us that there
exists in the world a central consciousness -- a soul of the
universe -- and nothing proves the contrary." So, whatever was the
verdict of his brain, his heart asked for immortality. He wanted
his dream, and he was willing that others should have theirs. Such
is the wish and will of all great souls.

     He knew the church thoroughly and anticipated what would
finally be written about him by churchmen: "Having some experience
of ecclesiastical writers I can sketch out in advance the way my
biography will be written in Spanish in some Catholic review, of
Santa Fe, in the year 2,000. Heavens! how black I shall be! I shall
be so all the more, because the church when she feels that she has
lost will end with malice. She will bite like a mad dog."

     He anticipated such a biography because he had thought for
himself, and because he had expressed his thoughts -- because he
had declared that "our universe, within the reach of our
experience, is not governed by any intelligent reason. God, as the
common herd understand him, the living God, the acting God -- the
God-Providence, does not show himself in the universe" -- because
he attacked the mythical and the miraculous in the life of Christ
and sought to rescue from the calumnies of ignorance and faith a
serene and lofty soul.

     The time has arrived when Jesus must become a myth or a man.
The idea that he was the infinite God must be abandoned by all who
are not religiously insane. Those who have given up the claim that
he was God, insist that be was divinely appointed and illuminated;
that he was a perfect man -- the highest possible type of the human
race and, consequently, a perfect example for all the world.

     As time goes on, as men get wider or grander or more complex
ideas of life, as the intellectual horizon broadens, the idea that
Christ was perfect may be modified.

     The New Testament seems to describe several individuals under
the same name, or at least one individual who passed through
several stages or phases of religious development. Christ is
described as a devout Jew, as one who endeavored to comply in all
respects with the old law. Many sayings are attributed to him
consistent with this idea. He certainly was a Hebrew in belief and
feeling when he said, "Swear not by Heaven, because it is God's
throne, nor by earth, for it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem,
for it is his holy city." These reasons were in exact accordance
with the mythology of the Jews. God was regarded simply as an
enormous man, as one who walked in the garden in the cool of the
evening, as one who had met man face to face, who had conversed
with Moses for forty days upon Mount Sinai, as a great king, with

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a throne in the heavens, using the earth to rest his feet upon, and
regarding Jerusalem as his holy city.

     Then we find plenty of evidence that he wished to reform the
religion of the Jews; to fulfill the law, not to abrogate it. Then
there is still another change: he has ceased his efforts to reform
that religion and has become a destroyer. He holds the Temple in
contempt and repudiates the idea that Jerusalem is the holy city.
He concludes that it is unnecessary to go to some mountain or some
building to worship or to find God, and insists that the heart is
the true temple, that ceremonies are useless, that all pomp and
pride and show are needless, 2nd that it is enough to worship God
under heaven's dome, in spirit and in truth.

     It is impossible to harmonize these views unless we admit that
Christ was the subject of growth and change; that in consequence of
growth and change he modified his views; that, from wanting to
preserve Judaism as it was, he became convinced that it ought to be
reformed. That he then abandoned the idea of reformation, and made
up his mind that the only reformation of which the Jewish religion
was capable was destruction. If he was in fact a man, then the
course he pursued was natural; but if he was God, it is perfectly
absurd. If we give to him perfect knowledge, then it is impossible
to account for change or growth. If, on the other hand, the ground
is taken that he was a perfect man, then, it might be asked; Was he
perfect when be wished to preserve, or when he wished to reform, or
when he resolved to destroy, the religion of the Jews? If he is to
be regarded as perfect, although not divine, when did he reach
perfection?

     It is perfectly evident that Christ, or the character that
bears that name, imagined that the world was about to be destroyed,
or at least purified by fire, and that, on account of this curious
belief, he became the enemy of marriage, of all earthly ambition
and of all enterprise. With that view in his mind, he said to
himself, "Why should we waste our energies in producing food for
destruction? Why should we endeavor to beautify a world that is so
soon to perish?" Filled with the thought of coming change, he
insisted that there was but one important thing, and that was for
each man to save his soul. He should care nothing for the ties of
kindred, nothing for wife or child or property, in the shadow of
the coming disaster. He should take care of himself. He endeavored,
as it is said, to induce men to desert all they had, to let the
dead, bury the dead, and follow him. He told his disciples, or
those he wished to make his disciples, according to the Testament,
that it was their duty to desert wife and child and property, and
if they would so desert kindred and wealth, he would reward them
here and hereafter.

     We know now -- if we know anything -- that Jesus was mistaken
about the coming of the end, and we know now that he was greatly
controlled in his ideas of life, by that mistake. Believing that
the end was near, he said, "Take no thought for the morrow, what ye
shall eat or what ye shall drink or wherewithal ye shall be
clothed." It was in view of the destruction of the world that he
called the attention of his disciples to the lily that toiled not

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and yet excelled Solomon in the glory of its raiment. Having made
this mistake, having acted upon it, certainly we cannot now say
that he was perfect in knowledge.

     He is regarded by many millions as the impersonation of
patience, of forbearance, of meekness and mercy, and yet, according
to the account, he said many extremely bitter words, and threatened
eternal pain.

     We also know, if the account be true, that he claimed to have
supernatural power, to work miracles, to cure the blind and to
raise the dead, and we know that he did nothing of the kind. So if
the writers of the New Testament tell the truth as to what Christ
claimed, it is absurd to say that he was a perfect man. If honest,
he was deceived, and those who are deceived are not perfect.

     There is nothing in the New Testament, so far as we know, that
touches on the duties of nation to nation, or of nation to its
citizens; nothing of human liberty; not one word about education
not the faintest hint that there is such a thing as science;
nothing calculated to stimulate industry, commerce, or invention;
not one word in favor of art, of music or anything calculated to
feed or clothe the body, nothing to develop the brain of man.

     When it is assumed that the life of Christ, as described in
the New Testament, is perfect, we at least take upon ourselves the
burden of deciding what perfection is. People who asserted that
Christ was divine, that he was actually God, reached the
conclusion, without any laborious course of reasoning, that all he
said and did was absolute perfection. They said this because they
had first been convinced that he was divine. The moment his
divinity is given up and the assertion is made that he was perfect,
we are not permitted to reason in that way. They said he was God,
therefore perfect. Now, if it is admitted that he was human, the
conclusion that he was perfect does not follow. We then take the
burden upon ourselves of deciding what perfection is. To decide
what is perfect is beyond the powers of the human mind.

     Renan, in spite of his education, regarded Christ as a man,
and did the best he could to account for the miracles that had been
attributed to him, for the legends that had gathered about his
name, and the impossibilities connected with his career, and also
tried to account for the origin or birth of these miracles, of
these legends, of these myths, including the resurrection and
ascension. I am not satisfied with all the conclusions he reached
or with all the paths he traveled. The refraction of light caused
by passing through a woman's tears is hardly a sufficient
foundation for a belief in so miraculous a miracle as the bodily
ascension of Jesus Christ.

     There is another thing attributed to Christ that seems to me
conclusive evidence against the claim of perfection. Christ is
reported to have said that all sins could be forgiven except the
sin against the Holy Ghost. This sin, however, is not defined.
Although Christ died for the whole world, that through him all
might be saved, there is this one terrible exception: There is no
salvation for those who have sinned, or who may hereafter sin,

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against the Holy Ghost. Thousands of persons are now in asylums,
having lost their reason because of their fear that they bad
committed this unknown, this undefined, this unpardonable sin.

     It is said that a Roman Emperor went through a form of
publishing his laws or proclamations, posting them so high on
pillars that they could not be read, and then took the lives of
those who ignorantly violated these unknown laws. He was regarded
as a tyrant, as a murderer. And yet, what shall we say of one who
declared that the sin against the Holy Ghost was the only one that
could not be forgiven, and then left an ignorant world to guess
what that sin is? Undoubtedly this horror is an interpolation.

     There is something like it in the Old Testament. It is
asserted by Christians that the Ten Commandments are the foundation
of all law and of all civilization, and you will find lawyers
insisting that the Mosaic Code was the first information that man
received on the subject of law; that before that time the world was
without any knowledge of justice or mercy. If this be true the Jews
had no divine laws, no real instruction on any legal subject until
the Ten Commandments were given. Consequently, before that time
there had been proclaimed or published no law against the worship
of other gods or of idols. Moses had been on Mount Sinai talking
with Jehovah. At the end of the dialogue he received the Tables of
Stone and started down the mountain for the purpose of imparting
this information to his followers. When he reached the camp he
heard music. He saw people dancing, and he found that in his
absence Aaron and the rest of the people had cast a molten calf
which they were then worshiping. This so enraged Moses that he
broke the Tables of Stone and made preparations for the punishment
of the Jews. Remember that they knew nothing about this law, and,
according to the modern Christian claims, could not have known that
it was wrong to melt gold and silver and mould it in the form of a
calf. And yet Moses killed about thirty thousand of these people
for having violated a law of which they had never heard; a law
known only to one man and one God. Nothing could be more unjust,
more ferocious, than this; and yet it can hardly be said to exceed
in cruelty the announcement that a certain sin was unpardonable and
then fail to define the sin. Possibly, to inquire what the sin is,
is the sin.

     Renan regards Jesus as a man, and his work gets its value from
the fact that it is written from a human standpoint. At the same
time he, consciously or unconsciously, or may-be for the purpose of
sprinkling a little holy water on the heat of religious
indignation, now and then seems to speak of him as more than human,
or as having accomplished something that man could not.

     He asserts that "the Gospels are in part legendary; that they
contain many things not true; that they are full of miracles and of
the supernatural." At the same time he insists that these legends,
these miracles, these supernatural things do not affect the truth
of the probable things contained in these writings. He sees, and
sees clearly, that there is no evidence that Matthew or Mark or
Luke or John wrote the books attributed to them; that, as a matter
of fact, the mere title of "according to Matthew... "according to
Mark," shows that they were written by others who claimed them to

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be in accordance with the stories that had been told by Matthew or
by Mark. So Renan takes the ground that the Gospel of Luke is
founded on anterior documents and "is the work of a man who
selected, pruned and combined, and that the same man wrote the Acts
of the Apostles and in the same way."

     The gospels were certainly written long after the events
described, and Renan finds the reason for this in the fact that the
Christians believed that the world was about to end; that,
consequently, there was no need of composing books; it was only
necessary for them to preserve in their hearts during the little
margin of time that remained a lively image of Him whom they soon
expected to meet in the clouds. For this reason the gospels
themselves had but little authority for 150 years, the Christians
relying on oral traditions. Renan shows that there was not the
slightest scruple about inserting additions in the gospels,
variously combining them, and in completing some by taking parts
from others; that the books passed from hand to hand, and that each
one transcribed in the margin of his copy the words and parables he
had found elsewhere which touched him; that it was not until human
tradition became weakened that the text bearing the names of the
apostles became authoritative.

     Renan has criticized the gospels somewhat in the same spirit
that he would criticize a modern work. He saw clearly that the
metaphysics filling the discourses of John were deformities and
distortions, full of mysticism, having nothing to do really with
the character of Jesus. He shows too "that the simple idea of the
Kingdom of God, at the time the Gospel according to St. John was
written, had faded away; that the hope of the advent of Christ was
growing dim, and that from belief the disciples passed into
discussion, from discussion to dogma, from dogma to ceremony," and,
finding that the new Heaven and the new Earth were not coming as
expected, they turned their attention to governing the old Heaven
and the old Earth. The disciples were willing to be humble for a
few days, with the expectation of wearing crowns forever. They were
satisfied with poverty, believing that the wealth of the world was
to be theirs. The coming of Christ, however, being for some
unaccountable reason delayed, poverty and humility grew irksome,
and human nature began to assert itself.

     In the Gospel of John you will find the metaphysics of the
church. There you find the Second Birth. There you find the
doctrine of the atonement clearly set forth. There you find that
God died for the whole world, and that whosoever believeth not in
him is to be damned. There is nothing of the kind in Matthew.
Matthew makes Christ say that, if you will forgive others, God will
forgive you. The Gospel "according to Mark" is the same. So is the
Gospel "according to Luke." There is nothing about salvation
through belief, nothing about the atonement. In Mark, in the last
chapter, the apostles are told to go into all the world and preach
the gospel, with the statement that whoever believed and was
baptized should be saved, and whoever failed to believe should be
damned. But we now know that that is an interpolation.
Consequently, Matthew, Mark and Luke never had the faintest
conception of the "Christian religion." They knew nothing of the
atonement, nothing of salvation by faith -- nothing. So that if a

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man had read only Matthew, Mark and Luke, and had strictly followed
what he found, he would have found himself, after death, in
perdition.

     Renan finds that certain portions of the Gospel "according to
John" were added later; that the entire twenty-first chapter is an
interpolation; also, that many places bear the traces of erasures
and corrections. So he says that it would be "impossible for any
one to compose a life of Jesus, with any meaning in it, from the
discourses which John attributes to him, and he holds that this
Gospel of John is full of preaching, Christ demonstrating himself;
full of argumentation, full of stage effect, devoid of simplicity,
with long arguments after each miracle, stiff and awkward
discourses, the tone of which is often false and unequal." He also
insists that there are evidently "artificial portions, variations
like that of a musician improvising on a given theme."

     In spite of all this, Renan, willing to soothe the prejudice
of his time, takes the ground that the four canonical gospels are
authentic, that they date from the first century, that the authors
were, generally speaking, those to whom they are attributed; but he
insists that their historic value is very diverse. This is a back-
handed stroke. Admitting, first, that they are authentic; second,
that they were written about the end of the first century; third,
that they are not of equal value, disposes, so far as he is
concerned, of the dogma of inspiration.

     One is at a loss to understand why four gospels should have
been written. As a matter of fact there can be only one true
account of any occurrence, or of any number of occurrences. Now, it
must be taken for granted, that an inspired account is true. Why
then should there be four inspired accounts? It may be answered
that all were not to write the entire story. To this the reply is
that all attempted to cover substantially the same ground.

     Many years ago the early fathers thought it necessary to say
why there were four inspired books, and some of them said because
there were four cardinal directions and the gospels fitted the
north, south, east and west. Others said that there were four
principal winds -- a gospel for each wind. They might have added
that some animals have four legs.

     Renan admits that the narrative portions have not the same
authority; "that many legends proceeded from the zeal of the second
Christian generation; that the narrative of Luke is historically
weak; that sentences attributed to Jesus have been distorted and
exaggerated; that the book was written outside of Palestine and
after the siege of Jerusalem; that Luke endeavors to make the
different narratives agree, changing them for that purpose; that he
softens the passages which had become embarrassing; that he
exaggerated the marvelous, omitted errors in chronology; that he
was a compiler, a man who had not been an eye-witness himself, and
who had not seen eye-witnesses, but who labors at texts and wrests
their sense to make them agree." This certainly is very far from
inspiration. So "Luke interprets the documents according to his own
idea; being a kind of anarchist, opposed to property, and persuaded
that the triumph of the poor was approaching; that he was

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especially fond of the anecdotes showing the conversion of sinners,
the exaltation of the humble, and that he modified ancient
traditions to give them this meaning."

     Renan reached the conclusion that the gospels are neither
biographies after the manner of Suetonius nor fictitious legends in
the style of Philostratus, but that they are legendary biographies
like the legends of the saints, the lives of Plotinus and Isidore,
in which historical truth and the desire to present models of
virtue are combined in various degrees; that they are "inexact;"
that they "contain numerous errors and discordances." So he takes
the ground that twenty or thirty years after Christ, his reputation
had greatly increased, that "legends had begun to gather about Him
like clouds," that death added to His perfection, freeing Him from
all defects in the eyes of those who had loved Him, that His
followers wrested the prophecies so that they might fit Him. They
said, 'He is the Messiah.' The Messiah was to do certain things;
therefore Jesus did certain things. Then an account would be given
of the doing." All of which of course shows that there can be
maintained no theory of inspiration.

     It is admitted that where individuals are witnesses of the
same transaction, and where they agree upon the vital points and
disagree upon details, the disagreement may be consistent with
their honesty, as tending to show that they have not agreed upon a
story; but if the witnesses are inspired of God then there is no
reason for their disagreeing on anything, and if they do disagree
it is a demonstration that they were not inspired, but it is not a
demonstration that they are not honest. While perfect agreement may
be evidence of rehearsal, a failure to perfectly agree is not a
demonstration of the truth or falsity of a story; but if the
witnesses claim to be inspired, the slightest disagreement is a
demonstration that they were not inspired.

     Renan reaches the conclusion, proving every step that he
takes, that the four principal documents -- that is to say, the
four gospels -- are in "flagrant contradiction one with another."
He attacks, and with perfect success, the miracles of the
Scriptures, and upon this subject says: "Observation, which has
never once been falsified, teaches us that miracles never happen,
but in times and countries in which they are believed and before
persons disposed to believe them. No miracle ever occurred in the
presence. of men capable of testing its miraculous character." He
further takes the ground that no contemporary miracle will bear
inquiry, and that consequently it is probable that the miracles of
antiquity which have been performed in popular gatherings would be
shown to be simple illusion, were it possible to criticize them in
detail. In the name of universal experience he banishes miracles
from history. These were brave things to do, things that will bear
good fruit. As long as men believe in miracles, past or present,
they remain the prey of superstition. The Catholic is taught that
miracles were performed anciently not only, but that they are still
being performed. This is consistent inconsistency. Protestants
teach a double doctrine: That miracles used to be performed, that
the laws of nature used to be violated, but that no miracle is
performed now. No Protestant will admit that any miracle was
performed by the Catholic Church. Otherwise, Protestants could not

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be justified in leaving a church with whom the God of miracles
dwelt. So every Protestant has to adopt two kinds of reasoning:
that the laws of Nature used to be violated and that miracles used
to be performed, that since the apostolic age Nature has had her
way and the Lord has allowed facts to exist and to hold the field.
A supernatural account, according to Renan, "always implies
credulity or imposture," -- probably both.

     It does not seem possible to me that Christ claimed for
himself what the Testament claims for him. These claims were made
by admirers, by followers, by missionaries.

     When the early Christians went to Rome they found plenty of
demigods. It was hard to set aside the religion of a demigod by
telling the story of a man from Nazareth. These missionaries, not
to be outdone in ancestry, insisted -- and this was after the
Gospel "according to St. John" had been written -- that Christ was
the Son of God. Matthew believed that he was the son of David, and
the Messiah, and gave the genealogy of Joseph, his father, to
support that claim.

     In the time of Christ no one imagined that he was of divine
origin. This was an after-growth. In order to place themselves on
an equality with Pagans they started the claim of divinity, and
also took the second step requisite in that country: First, a god
for his father, and second, a virgin for his mother. This was the
Pagan combination of greatness, and the Christians added to this
that Christ was God.

     It is hard to agree with the conclusion reached by Renan, that
Christ formed and intended to form a church. Such evidence, it
seems to me, is hard to find in the Testament. Christ seemed to
satisfy himself, according to the Testament, with a few statements,
some of them exceedingly wise and tender, some utterly
impracticable and some intolerant.

     If we accept the conclusions reached by Renan we will throw
away the legends without foundation; the miraculous legends; and
everything inconsistent with what we know of Nature. Very little
will be left -- a few sayings to be found among those attributed to
Confucius, to Buddha, to Krishna, to Epictetus, to Zeno, and to
many others. Some of these sayings are full of wisdom, full of
kindness, and others rush to such extremes that they touch the
borders of insanity. When struck on one cheek to turn the other, is
really joining a conspiracy to secure the triumph of brutality. To
agree not to resist evil is to become an accomplice of all
injustice. We must not take from industry, from patriotism, from
virtue, the right of self-defence.

     Undoubtedly Renan gave an honest transcript of his mind, the
road his thought had followed, the reasons in their order that had
occurred to him, the criticisms born of thought, and the
qualifications, softening phrases, children of old sentiments and
emotions that had not entirely passed away. He started, one might
say, from the altar and, during a considerable part of the journey,
carried the incense with him. The farther he got away, the greater
was his clearness of vision and the more thoroughly he was

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convinced that Christ was merely a man, an idealist. But,
remembering the altar, he excused exaggeration in the "inspired"
books, not because it was from heaven, not because it was in
harmony with our ideas of veracity, but because the writers of the
gospel were imbued with the Oriental spirit of exaggeration, a
spirit perfectly understood by the people who first read the
gospels, because the readers knew the habits of the writers.

     It had been contended for many years that no one could pass
judgment on the veracity of the Scriptures who did not understand
Hebrew. This position was perfectly absurd. No man needs to be a
student of Hebrew to know that the shadow on the dial did not go
back several degrees to convince a petty king that a boil was not
to be fatal. Renan, however, filled the requirement. He was an
excellent Hebrew scholar. This wag a fortunate circumstance,
because it answered a very old objection.

     The founder of Christianity was, for his own sake, taken from
the divine pedestal and allowed to stand like other men on the
earth, to be judged by what he said and did, by his theories. by
his philosophy, by his spirit.

     No matter whether Renan came to a correct conclusion or not,
his work did a vast deal of good. He convinced many that implicit
reliance could not be placed upon the gospels, that the gospels
themselves are of unequal worth; that they were deformed by
ignorance and falsehood, or, at least, by mistake; that if they
wished to save the reputation of Christ they must not rely wholly
on the gospels, or on what is found in the New Testament, but they
must go farther and examine all legends touching him. Not only so,
but they must throw away the miraculous, the impossible and the
absurd.

     He also has shown that the early followers of Christ
endeavored to add to the reputation of their Master by attributing
to him the miraculous and the foolish; that while these stories
added to his reputation at that time, since the world has advanced
they must be cast aside or the reputation of the Master must
suffer.

     It will not do now to say that Christ himself pretended to do
miracles. This would establish the fact at least that he was
mistaken. But we are compelled to say that his disciples insisted
that he was a worker of miracles. This shows, either that they were
mistaken or untruthful.

     We all know that a sleight-of-hand performer could gain a
greater reputation among savages than Darwin or Humboldt; and we
know that the world in the time of Christ was filled with
barbarians, with people who demanded the miraculous, who expected
it; with people, in fact, who had a stronger belief in the
supernatural than in the natural; people who never thought it worth
while to record facts. The hero of such people, the Christ of such
people, with his miracles, cannot be the Christ of the thoughtful
and scientific.

                         Bank of Wisdom
                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
                               10

                          ERNEST RENAN.

     Renan was a man of most excellent temper; candid; not striving
for victory, but for truth; conquering, as far as he could, the old
superstitions; not entirely free, it may be, but believing himself
to be so. He did great good. He has helped to destroy the fictions
of faith. He has helped to rescue man from the prison of
superstition, and this is the greatest benefit that man can bestow
on man.

     He did another great service, not only to Jews, but to
Christendom, by writing the history of "The People of Israel."
Christians for many centuries have persecuted the Jews. They have
charged them with the greatest conceivable crime -- with having
crucified an infinite God. This absurdity has hardened the hearts
of men and poisoned the minds of children. The persecution of the
Jews is the meanest, the most senseless and cruel page in history.
Every civilized Christian should feel on his cheeks the red spots
of shame as he reads the wretched and infamous story.

     The flame of this prejudice is fanned and fed in the Sunday
schools of our day, and the orthodox minister points proudly to the
atrocities perpetrated against the Jews by the barbarians of Russia
as evidences of the truth of the inspired Scriptures. In every
wound God puts a tongue to proclaim the truth of his book.

     If the charge that the Jews killed God were true, it is hardly
reasonable to hold those who are now living responsible for what
their ancestors did nearly nineteen centuries ago.

     But there is another point in connection with this matter: If
Christ was God, then the Jews could not have killed him without his
consent; and, according to the orthodox creed, if he had not been
sacrificed, the whole world would have suffered eternal pain.
Nothing can exceed the meanness of the prejudice of Christians
against the Jewish people. They should not be held responsible for
their savage ancestors, or for their belief that Jehovah was an
intelligent and merciful God, superior to all other gods. Even
Christians do not wish to be held responsible for the Inquisition,
for the Torquemadas and the John Calvins, for the witch-burners and
the Quaker-whippers, for the slave-traders and child-stealers, the
most of whom were believers in our "glorious gospel," and many of
whom had been born the second time.

     Renan did much to civilize the Christians by telling the truth
in a charming and convincing way about the "People of Israel." Both
sides are greatly indebted to him: one he has ably defended, and
the other greatly enlightened.

     Having done what good he could in giving what he believed was
light to his fellow-men, he had no fear of becoming a victim of
God's wrath, and so he laughingly said: "For my part I imagine that
if the Eternal in his severity were to send me to hell I should
succeed in escaping from it. I would send up to my Creator a
supplication that would make him smile. The course of reasoning by
which I would prove to him that it was through his fault that I was
damned would be so subtle that he would find some difficulty in
replying. The fate which would suit me best is Purgatory -- a
charming place, where many delightful romances begun on earth must
be continued."

                         Bank of Wisdom
                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
                               11

                          ERNEST RENAN.

     Such cheerfulness, such good philosophy, with cap and bells,
such banter and blasphemy, such sound and solid sense drive to
madness the priest who thinks the curse of Rome can frighten the
world. How the snake of superstition writhes when he finds that his
fangs have lost their poison.

     He was one of the gentlest of men -- one of the fairest in
discussion, dissenting from the views of others with modesty,
presenting his own with clearness and candor. His mental manners
were excellent. He was not positive as to the "unknowable." He said
"Perhaps." He knew that knowledge is good if it increases the
happiness of man; and he felt that superstition is the assassin of
liberty and civilization. He lived a life of cheerfulness, of
industry, devoted to the welfare of mankind.

     He was a seeker of happiness by the highway of the natural, a
destroyer of the dogmas of mental deformity, a worshiper of Liberty
and the Ideal. As he lived, he died -- hopeful and serene -- and
now, standing in imagination by his grave, we ask: Will the night
be eternal? The brain says, Perhaps; while the heart hopes for the
Dawn.

Bank of Wisdom

The Bank of Wisdom is run by Emmett Fields out of his home in Kentucky. He painstakingly scanned in these works and put them on disks for others to have available. Mr. Fields makes these disks available for only the cost of the media.

Files made available from the Bank of Wisdom may be freely reproduced and given away, but may not be sold.

Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

Bank of WisdomThe Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful, scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so that America can again become what its Founders intended --

The Free Market-Place of Ideas.

The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old, hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts and information for today. If you have such books please contact us, we need to give them back to America.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926
Louisville, KY 40201

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The Historical Library is provided for those doing research into the history of nontheism. It is not intended to be--and should not be used as--a source of modern, up-to-date information regarding atheistic issues. DO NOT CONTACT US ABOUT THESE DOCUMENTS. Please read the full Historical Library Disclaimer
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