By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Gospel of Evolution - From "The Atheistic Platform", Twelve Lectures
Author: Aveling, Edward, 1849-1898
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Gospel of Evolution - From "The Atheistic Platform", Twelve Lectures" ***


From "The Atheistic Platform", Twelve Lectures

By Edward Aveling

London: Freethought Publishing Company

63, Fleet Street, E.C.



A new and better Gospel is now preached to men. That which has for a
long time gone by the name of Gospel (good news) is neither news nor
good. It is not news, for it has been preached for nearly nineteen
centuries. Not that length of time alone could make it old and effete.
But the Gospel of Christianity has not within itself that inherent and
strong life of reality which makes even old truths to have a perennial
freshness, an eternal youth, Nor is the Gospel of Christianity good. In
the tales that it tells us of the past, in the advice that it gives
us for the present, and in the hopes and threats it holds out for the
future, it is a misleading guide, a poor philosopher, a false friend.

The legends have it that on the coming of the central figure of the
discredited evangel the angels sang together: "Peace on earth, good
will to men." It was a false alarm. Neither peace nor good will was
forthcoming. But with the advent of this scientific gospel, the Gospel
of Evolution, comes the possibility of "striking a universal peace
through sea and land," the possibility of the universal brotherhood of

Perhaps we are all of us too anxious and too hopeful in the feeling that
some one idea will save the world. The religious creeds of different
races and times are the expression of this anxiety. We that have
rejected all belief in the supernatural must take care that the same
fancy that has spoilt the lives of so many does not mar our own. We must
have a care lest we make too much of some truth, even though it be a
scientific conclusion, based on scientific observation and reasoning.
And we must not forget that, of all the great generalisations, that
of Evolution is the one most likely to be thus regarded, for it is a
generalisation of generalisations. The mind of man is always longing for
some solid resting-place. Man wants to get back and back, to something
certain. He wants to feel that, whatever happens, some one great
principle stands fast. The children of the decrepit gospel dreamed that
this was found in God. The children of the new Gospel know that in the
indestructibility of matter and of motion, and in the infinite nature
of the transformations of matter and motion, they have a solid fact on
which to fall back when all else fails. Only it is very important to
remember that, great as any idea may be, the mental effort needed for
its understanding and its acquisition is to the individual of as much
moment as the idea itself. The exercise of our faculties is of as great
value to us as the results attained by the exercise. The old parental
habit of asking of the school-boy or the school-girl: "What prizes have
you gained?" is only one form of a general error. The question is not,
"What prizes have you?" but "What have you learned?" We are coming to
recognise this in some measure in our estimates of grown men and women.
Still, however, to the vulgar, the measure of a man is the banker's
balance. But the thoughtful, as yet few in number, although the number
grows hourly, and even the commonplace people, if they are in the
unaccustomed atmosphere of culture, are estimating the value of a
human being by that which he actually does and is, rather than by the
magnitude of the cheques he can draw.

What is, then, this Evolution? In the asking this question and in the
attempt to answer we see how much happier is the position of the new
gospel as compared with that of the old. The good news of Christianity,
having no scientific and indeed no natural basis, has been Protean in
its forms. These have been indefinitely varied according to the taste
and fancy of the age and of the individual. The Gospel as preached
by Messrs. Benson, Booth, Baldwin Brown, Spurgeon, Liddon, Moody, is
somewhat mixed. But the new evangel is founded wholly on a natural
and scientific basis. There may be slight differences of opinion as
to matters of detail among its apostles and its disciples, but the
fundamental principles are accepted by all. Upon these, no doubt, much
less any dispute reigns.

Evolution is the name for the idea of the unity and continuity of
phsenomena. The popular and unscientific notion was that there was not
only an original effort on the part of the supernatural causing the
natural, setting it going, in fact, but a continual interposition of
the supernatural from without, controlling the natural. Evolution is
the doctrine of non-intervention. According to this gospel, matter and
motion are all in all. Matter is the convenient name for all that which
can affect the senses of man. Motion is change of place, whether it
be of large, palpable masses, as when the arm is raised, or of minute
impalpable molecules, as when heat or electricity is at work.

The ordinary notion of movement is wholly confined to that which is
called molar, that is, the motion of masses. Moles=a mass. Thus the
movements of a running man, or of a football when kicked, or of a
railway train when the engine draws it along, are all cases of molar
motion. But a finer kind of movement has of late years come within the
ken of mankind. It has been at work probably eternally. It is molecular
movement, or movement of small masses. But only very recently has the
mind of man been able to take cognisance of this form. The researches
of the physicists, the chemists, the biologists have demonstrated
that there is a whole world of movements that affect only the minute
particles of bodies. Thus heat is a mode of motion; electricity is
another; magnetism is a third. The familiar phenomena of light are no
longer regarded as due to any actual matter that has been thrown from a
luminous body. They are the result of waves of a fluid imponderable and
universal called ether, and there seems every reason to believe that the
phenomena commonly called vital are of the same or of a Kindred order.
Life, it would appear, is but a mode of motion. And though we know life
generally only by its manifestations of molar motion, as in the blow of
the arm, or the stride of the leg, yet these massive movements are but
the outward representatives of a large number of internal movements, of
chemical nature in digestion, of nervous nature in the sense-organs and
nerve tissues. Every bodily movement visible to the ordinary eye is only
the obverse aspect of many molecular motions, not as yet visible to man.

The reasons why we regard matter and motion as all-sufficient in the
explanation of all the phenomena of the universe are several. In the
first place, no destruction of matter has ever been witnessed. Second,
no destruction of motion, has ever been witnessed. The creation of
either matter or motion has been equally unseen. Transformations
of matter from one of its infinitely many forms to some other are
constantly visible, and they are always unattended by the smallest
increase or diminution in the actual quantity of matter. So also with
motion--transformations without any change in quantity are continually

Thus, we see the rocks disintegrated by the action of rain and running
water, "weathered" by the action of the air. We see the matter of which
they consisted worn away and carried down by streams and rivers to be
deposited at the mouths of rivers or on the beds of seas. Or we set fire
to a candle and watch its matter combining with the matter of the air
to form the products of combustion, carbon, dioxide, steam, and their
fellows. Or a dead animal or plant is seen to decay slowly into
these same gases that the burning candle gives forth and into certain
inorganic salts. And these are all cases of the transformation of matter
without any creation or destruction.

Or we see the molar motion of a student's hands bringing together
some acid and two metals. At once chemical action, a form of molecular
motion, is set up. The molar motion of hands, a piece of silk, and a
glass rod results in electricity, a mode of molecular motion. Or we
apply heat, a mode of molecular motion, to a bar of metal which expands,
to a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen which unite chemically. Or to a
crystal of tourmaline, one end of which becomes positively electric, the
other negatively. These are all cases of the transformation of motion
without any creation or destruction. In all these cases the amount of
matter and the amount of motion remain unchanged. Only the quantities
of particular kinds vary. The generalisation that the quantity of matter
and motion in the universe is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever,
appears to be thoroughly established.

More than this. Not only is there no scientific basis whatever for the
fancy of a creation or of a destruction of matter or of motion. The
fancy is unthinkable. No human mind is capable of picturing to itself
the passage from the material to the immaterial, the moment of time in
which the non-universe began to be the universe.

Yet again. Up to the present time every explanation of every phenomenon
of the universe has been in terms of matter and of motion. The law of
gravitation, Kepler's three great generalisations in astronomy, the
phenomena of attraction and repulsion in electrified and magnetised
bodies, the nature of chemical elements and compounds, the relation
between, plants and animals in regard to their effect on the air,
the principles of variation, of natural selection, of heredity, of
adaptation--these and thousands of other truths that unseal our eyes to
the beautiful meaning of nature, are all explanations as to how certain
forms of matter are in certain states of motion. And if up to the
present hour all the explanations that have been forthcoming of natural
things are in terms of the natural, we are entitled to conclude that all
explanations hereafter will be in kindred terms.

Or we may look on the question in another way. In the days of man's
greater ignorance everything was primarily or ultimately referred to the
supernatural. All phenomena were at first directly due to the action of
the supernatural. But, as time and knowledge advanced, these references
grew fewer and fewer in number. They were replaced by perfectly natural
explanations of events, and we are entitled to believe that this process
of elimination has now gone on sufficiently far for us to hold that
since super-naturalism is unnecessary for the primary explanation of
phenomena, it is also unnecessary for their ultimate explanation.

From all that I have just said it will be understood that the Gospel
of Evolution has a wider significance than popular notions imply. The
general idea, as to Evolution, that it is synonymous with Darwinism, is
not accurate. The Darwinian teaching is only a part, though in one sense
it is the most important part, of the Evolution truth. Evolution itself
means, as we have seen, the unity of phenomena.

All things are, according to this new principle, one huge continuity.
Whilst Darwinism shows that man is not distinct from the lower
animals, and that all species of animals, and all species of plants are
artificial groups gliding one into the other, just as in their gradual
development they glided one out of the other, Evolution goes further
than this and does not fare worse. For the evolutionist not only
believes that which the works of Darwin have made an assured truth, but
he believes that plants and animals have had a common parentage, that
living matter has originated from the non-living, that there has been no
break in the vast series of phenomena at any point.

Some of the general grounds for this belief have been given. Let us look
rapidly at some of the more special. The principle of the conservation
of energy already mentioned indirectly is, in a sense, the starting
point of thought on this subject. Grove's essay on the "Correlation of
the Physical Forces," published a few years since, was the first clear
enunciation of the generalisation towards which so many observations
had led. When he reminded men that chemical action, electricity, heat,
sound, light, magnetism, and life were all convertible, one into
the other, and thus convertible in definite numerical proportions,
mathematically calculable, the keynote of the idea of Evolution had been

Harsh as it may seem, an idea in any branch of knowledge has never
attained a sure basis until it is expressible in terms of mathematics.
There was a time when physics and chemistry were divorced from
mathematics to a large extent. Now even the phenomena of electricity
and the reactions one upon another of chemical bodies are expressed in
algebraical formulae. This is the result of the increased precision of
our knowledge. Following in the footsteps of physics and chemistry the
biological sciences are becoming every day more mathematical. We have
formulas to express the manner of the arrangement of leaves upon a stem,
the manner of arrangement of the parts of a flower. One of these days
every structural and functional fact in regard to every living thing
will be related to some formula of mathematics more or less general.
We shall not all become martinets or dryasdusts. There is a beauty in
exactness. I sometimes think that the difference between the loveliness
of our thinking and of our dreaming on natural phsenomena, as compared
with that which the older thinkers and dreamers enjoyed, will be as the
difference between the joy of a game of chess between skilled players or
between those that know not even the moves. The child pushes the kings
and queens and rooks and knights and bishops and pawns about at random,
and laughs gaily. But the master' of the game, moving them according
to definite rules, obtains a far higher enjoyment, and produces a
combination that has its poetry.

The very sciences that deal with these different modes of matter and
motion are now by no means as clearly marked off one from another as
their earlier students thought they were. Physics, chemistry; geology,
botany, zoology, anatomy, physiology, how they all dovetail into, or
actually overlap each other. It is impossible to say sometimes to which
domain of science a particular fact belongs. The distinctions between
the physical and the chemical properties of bodies are confessedly
artificial. Botany implies a study of the anatomy and the physiology of
plants. Physiology in its turn becomes only a question of chemistry;
its phenomena are becoming reduced to mathematical expressions. We are
learning to calculate the actual amount of work done in the performance
of different functions of the living body, in the same terms as we
calculate the work done by a steam engine. The respiratory organs or the
muscular during the day do so many foot-pounds of work. The foot-pound
is the unit of measurement employed in the study of work. Work is done
when matter is moved through space. The footpound is the amount of work
done when the mass of a pound is raised one foot against the gravitation
attraction of the earth. A steam-engine does per day a certain number
of foot-pounds of work. Its capacity for work is usually expressed by
saying that it is so many horse power. One horse power is equivalent to
33,000 footpounds per minute. The physiologists are, by means of
very intricate and careful calculations, enabled to calculate with
ever-increasing accuracy the equivalent in footpounds, _i.e._, the
mechanical equivalent, of each of the body functions of the average man
_per diem_.

If we turn to any of the special sciences the same dovetailing and
over-lapping appear. In chemistry it is difficult to mark off any group
of bodies from all other groups. The three sets of bodies that chemistry
is supposed to study are elements, mixtures, and compounds. An _element_
such as carbon or gold, is a body which has not yet been decomposed.
A _mixture_ is that which results from putting together two or
more substances, without those substances undergoing any change of
properties. Thus brandy and water, or gunpowder is a mixture. The
properties of the brandy and of the water in the one case, and of the
charcoal, nitre and sulphur in the other, are unchanged. A _compound_
is the result of the union of two or more elements with change of
properties; thus water is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen, and its
properties are those of neither hydrogen nor oxygen. The fundamental
distinction supposed to be at the basis of all chemical study, that
between elements and compounds, is found to be inapplicable when we
study such bodies as cyanogen, a compound of the two elements carbon
and nitrogen, that behaves like an element. Ammonium, a compound of four
atoms of hydrogen and one of nitrogen, also behaves like an element,
taking the place of such metallic elements as potassium or sodium. In
fact all the so-called "compound radicles" which enter so largely into
our study of organic chemistry are groups of two or atoms of two or more
elements that behave as simple bodies. The metals and the non-metals are
connected by such forms as arsenic or selenium, placed by one chemist
among the metals, by another among the non-metals. Hydrogen, usually
classed with the non-metals, has the power of replacing metallic
elements. It does this so persistently that, on theoretical grounds,
chemists had long spoken of hydrogen as probably essentially a metal.
When the French chemist Pictet succeeded in liquefying hydrogen, until
then only known in the gas form, the liquid fell upon the floor of the
laboratory with a metallic ring. And who is to say positively whether an
alloy of copper and zinc is to be regarded as a mixture or as a compound
of the two metals?

Still more important is the bridging over the supposed gulf between the
inorganic and the organic chemical substances. A few years back this
gulf was supposed to be great, fixed, impassable. The mineral or
inorganic was makable by man. The organic was not, and never would be.
The chemist might go on continually manufacturing hydrogen and oxygen,
carbon dioxide, ammonia. But he was never to hope to make alcohol,
sugar, urea, any of the multitudinous substances called organic. And
now all this folly of forbidding is at an end. The organic bodies are
manufactured by man. The inorganic and the organic are no more regarded
as clearly distinguishable. Even the chemistry books by their very
titles recognise and proclaim this fact. We have no longer works on
organic chemistry. We have volumes on the chemistry of carbon compounds.

In geology the different kinds of rocks graduate into each other.
Between the aqueous, or sedimentary, and the igneous, or those due to
the action of fire, range the metamorphic, i.e., sedimentary rocks
that have been afterwards subjected to heat. The various systems of
sedimentary rocks are known now to be purely artificial if convenient
divisions. From the Laurentian up to the recent rocks there has never
been any real hiatus. Nowhere is there the slightest evidence of pause
or of recommencement. Our groups are artificial. Nature is like Oallio
and cares for none of these things.

Whilst rocks thus glide one into the other, the fossil remains that
they contain do likewise. If the view of the special creationist were
accurate we ought to find isolated forms of dead animals and plants,
we ought to find sudden appearances in the rocks of forms not allied to
these already encountered, we ought not necessarily to find a series of
organic remains ascending in complexity of structure. If the view of the
evolutionist is accurate, we ought to find no forms of dead animals
or plants isolated; we ought never to find a form appearing without
preliminary heralds of its coming in the shape of kindred forms; we
ought to find a series of organic remains whose later members are in
advance of the earlier. These latter expectations are realised.

In like manner the gap supposed to exist between the kingdoms of the
non-living and living is closing up. As long as men had only studied the
higher forms of living things there was no difficulty in defining and
distinguishing living organisms. To define and to distinguish the lowest
forms of those now known is impossible. How completely this is true can
only be understood by those who have studied the protoplasmic masses
that hover on the border line between the organic and the inorganic. But
even the unskilled in microscopic work will be able to grasp something
of the great truth if they will take the trouble to look up the
innumerable definitions of life that have been given by various
persons, and note how unsatisfactory, how contradictory and often
self-contradictory they are.

If we pass up into the kingdoms of the living, and study plants and
animals, the same unity of phenomena meets us. Our classification
terms--order, genus, species, and so forth--are as artificial as our
names for the geological systems. No one holds to-day that any single
species is clearly marked off from all others. Connecting links abound
in our vegetable kingdom. The lichens, long regarded as a separate class
of lowly organised plants are now known to be fungi that are parasitic
upon algae. The higher cryptogams or flowerless plants are found to be
at one in their structure and functions with the lower phsenogams or
flowering plants.

The distinctions between plants and animals are found to have vanished.
Once again it is easy enough to distinguish high plants from high
animals. But no man can satisfactorily draw the line between the lower
members of the two kingdoms. The old definitions of the animal and the
plant given with a suicidal glibness in old books on botany and zoology,
when tried in the balance of criticism, are found wanting. Even the
food-distinction, supposed to be the best distinction between the two
groups, fails. It is no longer true that plants feed on the inorganic,
and animals on organic substances. The cases of vegetable parasites and
of insectivorous plants give a direct contradiction to this statement.
And it is very interesting to notice how gradual are the transitions in
this as in all cases. A group of plants known as saprophytes, that
feed on decaying organic things, is the natural transition between the
ordinary plants that eat inorganic food-stuffs, and those plants that,
like animals, exist on organic substances. So marked is this difficulty
of distinguishing between the lower plants and the lower animals, that
it has been suggested that a third kingdom of the living should be
constructed midway between the two generally recognised. This is to be
called Protista, and is to include all the doubtful forms that are
not clearly members either of the Kingdom Animalia or of the Kingdom

If the arbitrary nature of all our systems of classification is
understood, this new division will do little harm. But for the
systematist the difficulty is by the establishment of this group only
doubled. Heretofore he had only to struggle over a particular living,
thing, with the view to determine whether it were plant or animal. Now
he will have to struggle over it with the view of telling whether it
is Protistic or animal, or Protistic or vegetable. But the true
evolutionist will only look on the group of the Protista as containing
forms that represent the parent condition of both vegetables and

The animal kingdom, no less than the vegetable, gives these results.
Amphioxus, the little Mediterranean fish, links the Vertebrata, or
back-boned animals, for ever on to the Invertebrata. The classes of
the Vertebrate sub-kingdom have their connecting links or intermediate
forms. These classes, adopting for popular exposition the old
classification, are the Pisces, Amphibia, Eeptilia, Aves, Mammalia.
Whilst Amphioxus at the lower end of the class of fishes connects
these with the soft-bodied animals, or Mollusca, at the upper end of the
Pisces, we have the Lepidosiren, or mud-fish. It is impossible to say
whether this animal is more of a fish or a reptile. With limbs rather
than fins, with three cavities to its heart, and a swim-bladder that
acts as a lung, it has yet so many parts of its anatomy that are
piscine as to lead Professor Huxley still to place it as a solitary
representative of the highest order of Pisces.

The class Amphibia is itself a confirmation of the general truth, for
its members, such as the frogs, are in their early condition fish, and
in their adult state reptiles. Pterodactyl of the Jurassic strata is
the winged lizard. Its name tells us that we have a form intermediate
between the classes Reptilia and Aves. The duck-billed Platypus, or
Ornithorhyncus, of Australia, is a furred mammal that suckles its young,
and yet has a bird's bill, a bird's feet, a bird's wishing-bone, a
bird's heart, a bird's alimentary canal. If we turn to the individual
classes, the same thing obtains. To take but the the highest class, the
Prosimiae, or half-apes, among the Mammalia are an order, that stands
centrally to the Insectivora, Eodentia, Cheiroptera, and Primates. There
is no gap between man and the rest of the Primates. Not a single mark of
anatomy, of physiology, or of psychology, clearly distinguishes man from
the highest apes.

If we study the individual animal, the same fact of the unity of
phenomena is again borne in upon us. The bodily functions are by no
means so distinct in their nature as we were wont to think. To take but
an illustration.

The sense-organs of man are all found to be only so many modifications
of the integument.

The skin or tactile organ is the integument. The tongue or taste organ
is but the integument folded inwards and a little modified. The nasal
cavities are also lined with a modification of the same tissue, and
even the most complex sense organs that are at the same time the
most important--that is the eye and the ear--are, as the study of
development or embryology shows us, only the result of a series of
remarkable changes affecting certain parts of the epidermis of the

Those physiological functions of the human body that appear to be
clearly marked off are really not completely demarcated. Take as example
the excretory action of the skin, lungs, and the renal organs. The
lungs get rid especially of carbon dioxide; the skin of water; the renal
organs of the products of nitrogenous decay. But each of these organs
also eliminates those products which are eliminated by the other two.
Thus the lungs, whilst they get rid principally of carbon dioxide, also
get rid of water in the form of steam and of nitrogenous matter.
The skin gives off a certain quantity of carbon dioxide and nitrogen
excreta. And the renal organs also eliminate all three of the chief
forms of excretory matter. When any one of these three organs is not
functioning at its best, extra work is thrown upon the others, and in
some extreme cases this metastasis, or transference of function, is very
remarkable. Thus an ulcer in the human body has been known to secrete

Try to realise at least something of what all this means. It is no
longer possible to mark off clearly the various domains of science.
Science is one, for it is the study of nature, and nature is one.
In every branch of our knowledge that daily grows more unified,
the transitions are found to be innumerable and the gradations
infinitesimal. Our chemical groups, our geological rocks and strata,
our inorganic and organic kingdoms, our plants and animals, our classes,
orders, genera, species, all are seen to be artificial.

Here is then the new message that science is uttering to man. It is in
truth good news. There is no break anywhere. The universe is one vast
whole. It is true that at first there seems to be a loss because of the
indistinctness that now veils the old lines of demarcation. At first
some taring of a shock is felt when we realise that the old definitions
and classifications are only matters of convenience, and really
represent nothing in nature. But our view of the whole gains
incomparably. We are led to take a larger and more true conception of
the universe. If the subdivisions disappear the unity of the whole comes
out with wonderful clearness. We study phenomena from below upwards, and
see something more than an unbroken series. We see that actually there
is no below and no above.' The mineral kingdom of the non-living passes
into the living. This by gradual stages of ascent rises to the loftiest
forms of plants and animals yet known. But these in their constant decay
and in their death once for all as individuals, return to the mineral
kingdom again. If only we grasp the full meaning of this new gospel
founded on science, all life acquires a new significance. Most of all
our own life, as the highest expression known to us of the phenomena of
matter in motion, becomes more solemn and more full of hope. In it more
than in any other are gathered together the forces of the universe. The
attraction of the stone for the planet, and of the particles of rock
one for another, the loves and hates of chemical atoms, the energies of
electrified and magnetised bodies, the variations of innumerable simpler
forms of organisms, long chains of heredity reaching back through
incalculable times, myriads of adaptations, struggles and failures,
deaths and lives, all have met in us. We, more than all others, are the
heirs of the ages. While our less fortunate brethren, the lower animals,
the plants, the minerals, are playing their good part in the universal
history, without the consciousness in full of the meaning of it all, we
read the signs of the past and of to-day. "We know what we are, but we
know not what we may be," in all the detail that our children's children
will see and live. Yet we know that the race has a future that will
transcend its past, as that past transcended the dark dumb lives of the
ancestry whence our kind has sprung.

The Gospel of Evolution is replacing that of Christianity. Science is
taking the place of Religion and yielding to mankind the poetry that
its forerunner missed. Nature is our all in all. Only the whisper of a
secret thought here and there of hers has yet reached our ears. But
one. The only good result that is supposed to flow from prayer does
not really flow from prayer at all, but is explicable by purely natural
facts. It is healthier that people should know these facts, than that
they should refer real sensations to an imaginary cause. This special
re-action which under certain circumstances follows, but is not paused
by prayer to a supernatural existence, forms but a minute part of the
results which flow from belief in prayer. I desire to destroy prayer not
only because it is a fraud, but because it is a hindrance to progress.
Men pray to do that which they should link hands to perform for
themselves. They are down on their knees, crying like children, when
they should be on their feet, working, striving for their fellows. I
grudge every moment of time that is given by man to god. Man wants all
we can do; our heart, our brain, our love, our faculties, all, all these
are sacred to man; they must not be desecrated to the use of god. It is
sacrilege to steal for god the wealth needed for the enriching of man.

Why, only a few weeks since I read a letter from the Dean of
Peterborough, asking for £40,000 for the repair of Peterborough
Cathedral. And men, women and little children are rotting in cellars
in the very city wherein that letter was published. And he will get it.
£40,000 are given so easily for a house of god, but 40,000 pence would
be grudged to make decent the hovels in which human beings live. I hate
the charity which pours out wealth for a god, and counts in miserly
fashion every farthing given for man.

There are no means of progress upon earth save those of study and of
work. Study of nature to find out what is; work to apply the knowledge
for the increase of human happiness. For centuries upon centuries men
have prayed to god for deliverance from poverty, from misery, from
crime; and poverty, misery and crime are found on every side. It is time
that we should turn from god to man, from prayer to work, from dreaming
to acting. Man shall do for earth what prayer has failed to do; and
man's thought, man's love, man's sturdy effort shall make that Golden
Age for which so many have prayed, but so few have worked.

Printed by Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh, at 63, Fleet Street,

London, B.C.--1884.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Gospel of Evolution - From "The Atheistic Platform", Twelve Lectures" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.