Robert Green Ingersoll
A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. 1890 ________ This fragment (found among Col. Ingersoll's papers) is a mere outline of a contemplated answer to Archdeacon Farrar's article in the North American Review, May, 1890, entitled: "A Few Words on Col. Ingersoll." ________ Archdeacon Farrar, in the opening of his article, in a burst of confidence, takes occasion to let the world know how perfectly angelic he intends to be. He publicly proclaims that he can criticize the arguments of one with whom he disagrees, without resorting to invective, or becoming discourteous. Does he call attention to this because most theologians are hateful and ungentlemanly? Is it a rare thing for the pious to be candid? Why should an Archdeacon be cruel, or even ill-bred? Yet, in the very beginning, the Archdeacon in effect says: Behold, I show you a mystery -- a Christian who can write about an infidel, without invective and without brutality. Is it then so difficult for those who love their enemies to keep within the bounds of decency when speaking of unbelievers who have never injured them? As a matter of fact, I was somewhat surprised when I read the proclamation to the effect that the writer was not to use invective, and was to be guilty of no discourtesy; but on reading the article, and finding that he had failed to keep his promise, I was not surprised. It is an old habit with theologians to beat the living with the bones of the dead. The arguments that cannot be answered provoke epithet. I. Archdeacon Farrar criticizes several of my statements: The same rules or laws of probability must govern in religious questions as in others. This apparently self-evident statement seems to excite almost the ire of this Archdeacon, and for the purpose of showing that it is not true, he states, first, that "the first postulate of revelation is that it appeals to man's spirit;" second, that "the spirit is a sphere of being which transcends the spheres of the senses and the understanding;" third, that "if a man denies the existence of a spiritual intuition, he is like a blind man criticizing colors, or a deaf man critici harmonies;" fourth, that "revelation must be judged by its own criteria;" and fifth, that "St. Paul draws a marked distinction between the spirit of the world and the spirit which is of God," and that the same Saint said that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually discerned." Let us answer these objections in their order. 1. "The first postulate of revelation is that it appeals to man's spirit." What does the Archdeacon mean by "spirit"? A man Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 12 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. says that he has received a revelation from God, and he wishes to convince another man that he has received a revelation -- how does he proceed? Does he appeal to the man's reason? Will he tell him the circumstances under which he received the revelation? Will he tell him why he is convinced that it was from God? Will the Archdeacon be kind enough to tell how the spirit can be approached passing by the reason, the understanding, the judgment and the intellect? If the Archdeacon replies that the revelation itself will bear the evidence within itself, what then, I ask, does he mean by the word "evidence"? Evidence about what? Is it such evidence as satisfies the intelligence, convinces the reason, and is it in conformity with the known facts of the mind? It may be said by the Archdeacon that anything that satisfies what he is pleased to call the spirit, that furnishes what it seems by nature to require, is of supernatural origin. We hear music, and this music seems to satisfy the desire for harmony -- still, no one argues, from that fact, that music is of supernatural origin. It may satisfy a want in the brain -- a want unknown until the music was heard -- and yet we all agree in saying that music has been naturally produced, and no one claims that Beethoven, or Wagner, was inspired by God. The same may be said of things that satisfy the palate -- of statues, of paintings, that reveal to him who looks, the existence of that of which before that time he had not even dreamed, Why is it that we love color -- that we are pleased with harmonies, or with a succession of sounds rising and falling at measured intervals? No one would answer this question by saying that sculptors and painters and musicians were divinely inspired; neither would they say that the first postulate of art is that it appeals to man's spirit, and for that reason the rules or laws of probability have nothing to do with the question of art. 2. That "the spirit is a sphere of being which transcends the spheres of the senses and the understanding." Let us imagine a man without senses. He cannot feel, see, hear, taste, or smell. What is he? Would it be possible for him to have an idea? Would such a man have a spirit to which revelation could appeal, or would there be locked in the dungeon of his brain a spirit, that is to say, a "sphere of being which transcends the spheres of the senses and the understanding"? Admit that in the person supposed, the machinery of life goes on -- what is he more than an inanimate machine? 3. That "if a man denies the very existence of a spiritual intuition, he is like a blind man critici colors, or a deaf man critici harmonies." What do you mean by "spiritual intuition"? When did this "spiritual intuition" become the property of man -- before, or after, birth? Is it of supernatural, or miraculous, origin, and is it possible that this "spiritual intuition" is independent of the man? Is it based upon experience? Was it in any way born of the senses, or of the effect of nature upon the brain -- that is to say, of things seen, or heard, or touched? Is "spiritual intuition" an entity? If man can exist without the "spiritual intuition," do you insist that the "spiritual intuition" can exist without the man? Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 13 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. You may remember that Mr. Locke frequently remarked: "Define your terms." It is to be regretted that in the hurry of writing your article, you forgot to give an explanation of "spiritual intuition." I will also take the liberty of asking you how a blind man could critici colors, and how a deaf man could critici harmonies. Possibly you may Imagine that "spiritual intuition" can take cognizance of colors, as well as of harmonies. Let me ask: Why cannot a blind man critici colors? Let me answer: For the same reason that Archdeacon Farrar can tell us nothing about an infinite personality. 4. That "revelation must be judged by its own criteria." Suppose the Bible had taught that selfishness, larceny and murder were virtues; would you deny its inspiration? Would not your denial be based upon a conclusion that had been reached by your reason that no intelligent being could have been its author -- that no good being could, by any possibility, uphold the commission of such crimes? In that case would you be guided by "spiritual intuition," or by your reason? When we examine the claims of a history -- as, for instance, a history of England, or of America, are we to decide according to "spiritual intuition," or in accordance with the laws or rules of probability? Is there a different standard for a history written in Hebrew, several thousand years ago, and one written in English in the nineteenth century? If a history should now be written in England, in which the most miraculous and impossible things should be related as facts, and if I should deny these alleged facts, would you consider that the author had overcome my denial by saying, "history must be judged by its own criteria"? 5. That "the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The Archdeacon admits that the natural man cannot know the things of the spirit, because they are not naturally, but spiritually, discerned. On the next page we are told, that "the truths which Agnostics repudiate have been, and are, acknowledged by all except a fraction of the human race." It goes without saying that a large majority of the human race are natural; consequently, the statement of the Archdeacon contradicts the statement of St. Paul. The Archdeacon insists that all except a fraction of the human race acknowledge the truths which Agnostics repudiate, and they must acknowledge them because they are by them spiritually discerned; and yet, St. Paul says that this is impossible, and insists that "the natural man cannot know the things of the spirit of God, because they are spiritually discerned." There is only one way to harmonize the statement of the Archdeacon and the Saint, and that is, by saying that nearly all of the human race are unnatural, and that only a small fraction are natural, and that the small fraction of men who are natural, are Agnostics, and only those who accept what the Archdeacon calls "truths" are unnatural to such a degree that they can discern spiritual things. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 14 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. Upon this subject, the last things to which the Archdeacon appeals, are the very things that he, at first, utterly repudiated. He asks, "Are we contemptuously to reject the witness of innumerable multitudes of the good and wise, that -- with a spiritual reality more convincing to them than the material evidences which converted the apostles -- they have seen, and heard, and their hands have handled the "Word of Life"? Thus at last the Archdeacon appeals to the evidences of the senses. II. The Archdeacon then proceeds to attack the following statement: There is no subject, and can be none, concerning which any human being is under any obligation to believe without evidence. One would suppose that it would be impossible to formulate an objection to this statement. What is or is not evidence, depends upon the mind to which it is presented. There is no possible "insinuation" in this statement, one way or the other. There is nothing sinister in it, any more than there would be in the statement that twice five are ten. How did it happen to occur to the Archdeacon that when I spoke of believing without evidence, I referred to all people who believe in the existence of a God, and that I intended to say "that one-third of the world's inhabitants had embraced the faith of Christians without evidence"? Certain things may convince one mind and utterly fail to convince others. Undoubtedly the persons who have believed in the dogmas of Christianity have had what was sufficient evidence for them. All I said was, that "there is no subject, and can be none, concerning which any human being is under any obligation to believe without evidence." Does the Archdeacon insist that there is an obligation resting on any human mind to believe without evidence? Is he willing to go a step further and say that there is an obligation resting upon the minds of men to believe contrary to evidence? If one is under obligation to believe without evidence, it is just as reasonable to say that he is under obligation to believe in spite of evidence. What does the word "evidence" mean? A man in whose honesty I have great confidence, tells me that he saw a dead man raised to life, I do not believe him. Why? His statement is not evidence to my mind. Why? Because it contradicts all of my experience, and, as I believe, the experience of the intelligent world. No one pretends that "one-third of the world's inhabitants have embraced the faith of Christians without evidence" -- that is, that all Christians have embraced the faith without evidence. In the olden time, when hundreds of thousands of men were given their choice between being murdered and baptized, they generally accepted baptism -- probably they accepted Christianity without critically examining the evidence. Is it historically absurd that millions of people have believed in systems of religion without evidence? Thousands of millions have believed that Mohammed was a prophet of God. And not only so, but have believed in his miraculous power. Did they believe without evidence? Is it historically absurd to say that Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 15 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. Mohammedism is based upon mistake? What shall we say of the followers of Buddha, who far outnumber the followers of Christ? Have they believed without evidence? And is it historically absurd to say that our ancestors of a few hundred years ago were as credulous as the disciples of Buddha? Is it not true that the same gentlemen who believed thoroughly in all the miracles of the New Testament also believed the world to be flat, and were perfectly satisfied that the sun made its daily journey around the earth? Did they have any evidence? Is it historically absurd to say that they believed without evidence? III. Neither is there any intelligent being who can by any possi- bility be flattered by the exercise of ignorant credulity. The Archdeacon asks what I "gain by stigmatizing as ignorant credulity that inspired, inspiring, invincible conviction -- the formative principle of noble efforts and self-sacrificing lives, which at this moment, as during all the long millenniums of the past, has been held not only by the ignorant and the credulous, but by those whom all the ages have regarded as the ablest, the wisest, the most learned and the most gifted of mankind?" Does the Archdeacon deny that credulity is ignorant? In this connection, what does the word "credulity" mean? It means that condition or state of the mind in which the impossible, or the absurd, is accepted as true, Is not such credulity ignorant? Do we speak of wise credulity -- of intelligent credulity? We may say theological credulity, or Christian credulity, but certainly not intelligent credulity. Is the flattery of the ignorant and credulous -- the flattery being based upon that which ignorance and credulity have accepted -- acceptable to any intelligent being? Is it possible that we can flatter God by pretending to believe, or by believing, that which is repugnant to reason, that which upon examination is seen to he absurd? The Archdeacon admits that God cannot possibly be so flattered. If, then, he agrees with my statement, why endeavor to controvert it? IV. The man who without prejudice reads and understands the Old and New Testaments will cease to be an orthodox Christian. ________ The Archdeacon says that he cannot pretend to imagine what my definition of an orthodox Christian is. I will use his own language to express my definition. "By an orthodox Christian I mean one who believes what is commonly called the Apostles' Creed. I also believe that the essential doctrines of the church must be judged by her universal formulae, not by the opinions of this or that theologian, however eminent, or even of any number of theologians, unless the church has stamped them with the sanction of her formal and distinct acceptance." Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 16 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. This is the language of the Archdeacon himself, and I accept it as a definition of orthodoxy. With this definition in mind, I say that the man who without prejudice reads and understands the Old and New Testaments will cease to be an orthodox Christian. By "prejudice," I mean the tendencies and trends given to his mind by heredity, by education, by the facts and circumstances entering into the life of man. We know how children are poisoned in the cradle, how they are deformed in the Sunday School, how they are misled by the pulpit. And we know how numberless interests unite and conspire to prevent the individual soul from examining for itself. We know that nearly all rewards are in the hands of Superstition -- that she holds the sweet wreath, and that her hands lead the applause of what is called the civilized world. We know how many men give up their mental independence for the sake of pelf and power. We know the influence of mothers and fathers -- of Church and State -- of Faith and Fashion. All these influences produce in honest minds what may be known as prejudice, -- in other minds, what may be known as hypocrisy. It is hardly worth my while to speak of the merits of students of Holy Writ "who," the Archdeacon was polite enough to say, "know ten thousand times more of the Scriptures" than I do. This, to say the least of it, is a gratuitous assertion, and one that does not tend to throw the slightest ray of light on any matter in controversy. Neither is it true that it was my "point" to say that all people are prejudiced, merely because they believe in God; it was my point to say that no man can read the miracles of the Old Testament, without prejudice, and believe them; it was my point to say that no man can read many of the cruel and barbarous laws said to have been given by God himself, and yet believe, -- unless he was prejudiced, -- that these laws were divinely given. Neither do I believe that there is now beneath the cope of heaven an intelligent man, without prejudice, who believes in the inspiration of the Bible. The intelligent man who investigates the religion of any country, without fear and without prejudice, will not and cannot be a believer. In answering this statement the Archdeacon says: "Argal, every believer in any religion is either an incompetent idiot, or coward -- with a dash of prejudice." I hardly know what the gentleman means by an "incompetent idiot," as I know of no competent ones. It was not my intention to say that believers in religion are idiots or cowards. I did not mean, by using the word "fear," to say that persons actuated by fear are cowards. That was not in my mind. By "fear," I intended to convey that fear commonly called awe, or superstition, -- that is to say, fear of the supernatural, -- fear of the gods -- fear of punishment in another world -- fear of some Supreme Being; not feat of some other man -- not the fear that is branded with cowardice. And, of course, the Archdeacon perfectly understood my meaning; but it was necessary to give another meaning in order to make the appearance of an answer possible. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 17 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. By "prejudice," I mean that state of mind that accepts the false for the true. All prejudice is honest. And the probability is, that all men are more or less prejudiced on some subject. But on that account I do not call them "incompetent idiots, or cowards, with a dash of prejudice." I have no doubt that the Archdeacon himself believes that all Mohammedans are prejudiced, and that they are actuated more or less by fear, inculcated by their parents and by society at large. Neither have I any doubt that he regards all Catholics as prejudiced, and believes that they are governed more or less by fear. It is no answer to what I have said for the Archdeacon to say that "others have studied every form of religion with infinitely greater power than I have done." This is a personality that has nothing to do with the subject in hand. It is no argument to repeat a list of names. It is an old trick of the theologians to use names instead of arguments -- to appeal to persons instead of principles -- to rest their case upon the views of kings and nobles and others who pretend eminence in some department of human learning or ignorance, rather that on human knowledge. This is the argument of the old against the new, and on this appeal the old must of necessity have the advantage. When some man announces the discovery of a new truth, or of some great fact contrary to the opinions of the learned, it is easy to overwhelm him with names. There is but one name on his side -- that is to say, his own. All others who are living, and the dead, are on the other side. And if this argument is good, it ought to have ended all progress many thousands of years ago. If this argument is conclusive, the first man would have had freedom of opinion; the second man would have stood an equal chance; but if the third man differed from the other two, he would have been gone. Yet this is the argument of the church. They say to every man who advances something new: Are you greater than the dead? The man who is right is generally modest. Men in the wrong, as a rule, are arrogant; and arrogance is generally in the majority. The Archdeacon appeals to certain names to show that I am wrong. In order for this argument to be good -- that is to say, to be honest -- he should agree with all the opinions of the men whose names he gives. He shows, or endeavors to show, that I am wrong, because I do not agree with St. Augustine. Does the Archdeacon agree with St. Augustine? Does he now believe that the bones of a saint were taken to Hippo -- that being in the diocese of St. Augustine -- and that five corpses, having been touched with these bones, were raised to life? Does he believe that a demoniac, on being touched with one of these bones, was relieved of a multitude of devils, and that these devils then and there testified to the genuineness of the bones, not only, but told the hearers that the doctrine of the Trinity was true? Does the Archdeacon agree with St. Augustine that over seventy miracles were performed with these bones, and that in a neighboring town many hundreds of miracles were performed? Does he agree with St. Augustine in his estimate of women -- placing them on a par with beasts? I admit that St. Augustine had great influence with the people of his day -- but what people? I admit also that he was the founder Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 18 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. of the first begging brotherhood -- that he organized mendicancy -- and that he most cheerfully lived on the labor of others. If St. Augustine lived now he would be the inmate of an asylum. This same St. Augustine believed that the fire of hell was material -- that the body itself having influenced the soul to sin, would be burned forever, and that God by a perpetual miracle would save the body from being annihilated and devoured in those eternal flames. Let me ask the Archdeacon a question: Do you agree with St. Augustine? If you do not, do you claim to be a greater man? Is "your mole-hill higher than his Dhawalagiri"? Are you looking down upon him from the altitude of your own inferiority? Precisely the same could be said of St. Jerome. The Archdeacon appeals to Charlemagne, one of the great generals of the world -- a man who in his time shed rivers of blood, and who on one occasion massacred over four thousand helpless prisoners -- a Christian gentleman who had, I think, about nine wives, and was the supposed father of some twenty children. This same Charlemagne had laws against polygamy, and yet practiced it himself. Are we under the same obligation to share his vices as his views? It is wonderful how the church has always appealed to the so-called great -- how it has endeavored to get certificates from kings and queens, from successful soldiers and statesmen, to the truth of the Bible and the moral character of Christ! How the saints have crawled in the dust before the slayers of mankind! Think of proving the religion of love and forgiveness by Charlemagne and Napoleon! An appeal is also made to Roger Bacon, Yet this man attained all his eminence by going contrary to the opinions and teachings of the church. In his time, it was matter of congratulation that you knew nothing of secular things. He was a student of Nature, an investigator, and by the very construction of his mind was opposed to the methods of Catholicism. Copernicus was an astronomer, but he certainty did not get his astronomy from the church, nor from General Joshua, nor from the story of the Jewish king for whose benefit the sun was turned back in heaven ten degrees. Neither did Kepler find his three laws in the Sermon on the Mount, nor were they the utterances of Jehovah on Mount Sinai. He did not make his discoveries because he was a Christian; but in spite of that fact. As to Lord Bacon, let me ask, are you willing to accept his ideas? If not, why do you quote his name? Am I bound by the opinions of Bacon in matters of religion, and not in matters of science? Bacon denied the Copernican system, and died a believer in the Ptolemaic -- died believing that the earth is stationary and that the sun and stars move around it as a center, Do you agree with Bacon? If not, do you pretend that your mind is greater? Would it be fair for a believer in Bacon to denounce you as an egotist and charge you with "obstrepemusness" because you merely suggested that Mr. Bacon was a little off in his astronomical opinions? Do Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 19 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. you not see that you have furnished the cord for me to tie your hands behind you? I do not know how you ascertained that Shakespeare was what you call a believer. Substantially all that we know of Shakespeare is found in what we know as his "works" All else can be read in one minute. May I ask, how you know that Shakespeare was a believer? Do you prove it by the words he put in the mouths of his characters? If so, you can prove that he was anything, nothing, and everything. Have you literary bread to eat that I know not of? Whether Dante was, or was not, a Christian, I am not prepared to say. I have always admired him for one thing: he had the courage to see a pope in hell. Probably you are not prepared to agree with Milton -- especially in his opinion that marriage had better be by contract, for a limited time. And if you disagree with Milton on this point, do you thereby pretend to say that you could have written a better poem than Paradise Lost? So Newton is supposed to have been a Trinitarian. And yet it is said that, after his death, there was found an article, which had been published by him in Holland, against the dogma of the Trinity. After all, it is quite difficult to find out what the great men have believed. They have been actuated by so many unknown motives; they have wished for place; they have desired to be Archdeacons, Bishops, Cardinals, Popes; their material interests have sometimes interfered with the expression of their thoughts. Most of the men to whom you have alluded lived at a time when the world was controlled by what may be called a Christian mob -- when the expression of an honest thought would have cost the life of the one who expressed it -- when the followers of Christ were ready with sword and fagot to exterminate philosophy and liberty from the world. Is it possible that we are under any obligation to believe the Mosaic account of the Garden of Eden, or of the talking serpent, because "Whewell had an encyclopedic range of knowledge"? Must we believe that Joshua stopped the sun, because Faraday was "the most eminent man of science of his day"? Shall we believe the story of the fiery furnace, because "Mr, Spottiswoode was president of the Royal Society" -- had "rare mathematical genius" -- so rare that he was actually "buried in Westminster Abbey"? Shall we believe that Jonah spent three days and nights in the inside of a whale because "Professor Clark Maxwell's death was mourned by all"? Are we under any obligation to believe that an infinite God sent two she bears to tear forty children in pieces because they laughed at a prophet without hair? Must we believe this because "Sir Gabriel Stokes is the living president of the Royal Society, and a Churchman" besides? Are we bound to believe that Daniel spent one of the happiest evenings of his life in the lion's den, because "Sir William Dawson of Canada, two years ago, presided over the British Association"? And must we believe in the ten plagues of Egypt, including the lice, because "Professor Max Muller made an Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 20 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. eloquent plea in Westminster Abbey in favor of Christian missions"? Possibly he wanted missionaries to visit heathen lands so that they could see the difference for themselves between theory and practice, in what is known as the Christian religion. Must we believe the miracles of the New Testament -- the casting out of devils -- because "Lord Tennyson and Mr. Browning stand far above all other poets of this generation in England," or because "Longfellow, Holmes, and Lowell and Whittier" occupy the same position in America? Must we admit that devils entered into swine because "Bancroft and Parkman are the leading prose writers of America" -- which I take this occasion to deny? It is to be hoped that some time the Archdeacon will read that portion of Mr. Bancroft's history in which he gives the account of how the soldiers, commonly called Hessians, were raised by the British Government during the American Revolution. These poor wretches were sold at so much apiece. For every one that was killed, so much was paid, and for every one that was wounded a certain amount was given. Mr. Bancroft tells us that God was not satisfied with this business, and although he did not interfere in any way to save the poor soldiers, he did visit the petty tyrants who made the bargains with his wrath. I remember that as a punishment to one of these, his wife was induced to leave him; another one died a good many years afterwards; and several of them had exceedingly bad luck. After reading this philosophic dissertation on the dealings of Providence, I doubt if the Archdeacon will still remain of the opinion that Mr. Bancroft is one of the leading prose writers of America. If the Archdeacon will read a few of the sermons of Theodore Parker, and essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, if he will read the life of Voltaire by James Parton, he may change his opinion as to the great prose writers of America. My argument against miracles is answered by reference to "Dr. Lightfoot, a man of such immense learning that he became the equal of his successor Dr. Westcott." And when I say that there are errors and imperfections in the Bible, I am told that Dr. Westcott "investigated the Christian religion and its earliest documents au fond and was an orthodox believer." Of course the Archdeacon knows that no one now knows who wrote one of the books of the Bible. He knows that no one now lives who ever saw one of the original manuscripts, and that no one now lives who ever saw anybody who had seen anybody who had seen an original manuscript. VI. Is it possible for the human mind to conceive of an infinite personality? ________ The Archdeacon says that it is, and yet in the same article he quotes the following from Job: "Canst thou by searching find out God?" "It is as high as Heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than Hell; what canst thou know?" And immediately after making these Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 21 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. quotations, the Archdeacon takes the ground of the agnostic, and says, "with the wise ancient Rabbis, we learn to say, I do not know." It is impossible for me to say what any other human being cannot conceive; but I am absolutely certain that my mind cannot conceive of an infinite personality -- of an infinite Ego. Man is conscious of his individuality. Man has wants. A multitude of things in nature seems to work against him; and others seem to be favorable to him. There is conflict between him and nature, In the midst of this conflict he says "I." If man had no wants -- if there where no conflict between him and any other being, or any other thing, he could not say "I" -- that is to say, he could not be conscious of personality. Now, it seems to me that an infinite personality is a contradiction in terms. VII. The same line of argument applies to the next statement that is criticized by the Archdeacon: Can the human mind conceive a beginningless being? We know that there is such a thing as matter, but we do not know that there is a beginningless being. We say, or some say, that matter is eternal, because the human mind cannot conceive of its commencing. Now, if we knew of the existence of an Infinite Being, we could not conceive of his commencing. But we know of no such being. We do know of the existence of matter; and my mind is so, that I cannot conceive of that matter having been created by a beginningless being. I do not say that there is not a beginningless being, but I do not believe there is, and it is beyond my power to conceive of such a being. The Archdeacon also says that "space is quite as impossible to conceive as God." But nobody pretends to love space -- no one gives intention and will to space -- no one, so far as I know, builds altars or temples to space. Now, if God is as inconceivable as space, why should we pray to God? The Archdeacon, however, after quoting Sir William Hamilton as to the inconceivability of space as absolute or infinite, takes occasion to say that "space is an entity." May I be permitted to ask how he knows that space is an entity? As a matter of fact, the conception of infinite space is a necessity of the mind, the same as eternity is a necessity of the mind. VIII. The next sentence or statement to which the Archdeacon objects is as follows: He who cannot harmonize the cruelties of the Bible with the goodness of Jehovah, cannot harmonize the cruelties of Nature with Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 22 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. the goodness or wisdom of a supposed Deity. He will find it impossible to account for pestilence and famine, for earthquakes and storm, for slavery, and for the triumph of the strong over the week. One objection that he urges to this statement is that St. Paul had made a stronger one in the same direction. The Archdeacon however insists that "a world without a contingency, or an agony, could have had no hero and no saint," and that "science enables us to demonstrate that much of the apparent misery and anguish is transitory and even phantasmal; that many of the seeming forces of destruction are overruled to ends of beneficence; that most of man's disease and anguish is due to his own sin and folly and wilfulness." I will not say that these things have been said before, but I will say that they have been answered before. The idea that the world is a school in which character is formed and in which men are educated is very old. If, however, the world is a school, and there is trouble and misfortune, and the object is to create character -- that is to say, to produce heroes and saints -- then the question arises, what becomes of those who die in infancy? They are left without the means of education. Are they to remain forever without character? Or is there some other world of suffering and sorrow? Is it possible to form character in heaven? How did the angels become good? How do you account for the justice of God? Did he attain character through struggle and suffering? What would you say of a school teacher who should kill one-third of the children on the morning of the first day? And what can you say of God, -- if this world is a school, -- who allows a large per cent. of his children to die in infancy -- consequently without education -- therefore, without character? If the world is the result of infinite wisdom and goodness, why is the Christian Church engaged in endeavoring to make it better; or, rather, in an effort to change it? Why not leave it as an infinite God made it? Is it true that most of man's diseases are due to his own sin and folly and wilfulness? Is it not true that no matter how good men are they must die, and will they not die of diseases? Is it true that the wickedness of man has created the microbe? Is it possible that the sinfulness of man created the countless enemies of human life that lurk in air and water and food? Certainly the wickedness of man has had very little influence on tornadoes, earthquakes and floods. Is it true that "the signature of beauty with which God has stamped the visible world -- alike in the sky and on the earth -- alike in the majestic phenomena of an intelligent creation and in its humblest and most microscopic production -- is a perpetual proof that God is a God of love"? Let us see. The scientists tell us that there is a little microscopic animal, one who is very particular about his food -- so particular, that he prefers to all other things the optic nerve, and after he has succeeded in destroying that nerve and covering Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 23 A REPLY TO ARCHDEACON FARRAR. the eye with the mask of blindness, he has intelligence enough to bore his way through the bones of the nose in search of the other optic nerve. Is it not somewhat difficult to discover "the signature of beauty with which God has stamped" this animal? For my part, I see but little beauty in poisonous serpents, in man-eating sharks, in crocodiles, in alligators. It would be impossible for me to gaze with admiration upon a cancer. Think, for a moment, of a God ingenious enough and good enough to feed a cancer with the quivering flesh of a human being, and to give for the sustenance of that cancer the life of a mother. It is well enough to speak of "the myriad voices of nature in their mirth and sweetness," and it is also well enough to think of the other side. The singing birds have a few notes of love -- the rest are all of warning and of fear. Nature, apparently with infinite care, produces a living thing, and at the same time is just as diligently at work creating another living thing to devour the first, and at the same time a third to devour the second, and so on around the great circle of life and death, of agony and joy -- tooth and claw, fang and tusk, hunger and rapine, massacre and murder, violence and vengeance and vice everywhere and through all time. [Here the manuscript ends, with the following notes.] SAYINGS FROM THE INDIAN. "The rain seems hardest when the Wigwam leaks." "When the tracks get too large and too numerous, the wise Indian says that He is hunting something else." "A little crook in the arrow makes a great miss." "A great Chief counts scalps, not hairs." "you cannot strengthen the bow by poisoNing the arrows." "No one saves water in a flood." ORIGIN. Origin considered that the punishment of the wicked consisted in separation from God. There was too much pity in his heart to believe in the flames of hell. But he was condemned as heretical by the Council of Carthage, A.D., 398, and afterwards by other councils. ST. AUGUSTINE. St. Augustine censures origin For his merciful view, and says: "The church, not without reason, condemned him for this error." He also held that hell was in the center of the earth, and that God supplied the center with perpetual fire by a miracle. DANTE. Dante is a wonderful mixture of melancholy and malice, of religion and revenge, and he represents himself as so pitiless that when he found his political opponents in hell, he struck their faces and pulled the hair of the tormented. AQUINAS. Aquinas believed the same. He was the loving gentleman who believed in the undying worm. 24
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