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Title: The Churches and Modern Thought - An inquiry into the grounds of unbelief and an appeal for candour
Author: Vivian, Philip
Language: English
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                     AN INQUIRY INTO THE GROUNDS OF

                             PHILIP VIVIAN

                        "Men are never so likely to settle a question
                         rightly as when they discuss it freely."

                              WATTS & CO.,
                17, JOHNSON'S COURT, FLEET STREET. E.C.

                          MY WIFE AND CHILDREN


Preface to First Edition

Preface to Second Edition

Preface to Third Edition

Chapter I.


    § 1. The Truth of the Matter
    § 2. The Attitude of the Laity
    § 3. Christianity and Science not Reconciled
    § 4. The Genesis and Character of the New Outburst
    § 5. Apologetics "Found Wanting"
    § 6. More Things Which Confuse the Issue

Chapter II.


    § 1. Preliminary Remarks
        The View of Science
        Why Have Miracles Ceased?
        Belief in Miracles Essential
    § 2. Miracle Apologetics
    § 3. The Fundamental Miracles
        The Resurrection
        The Ascension
        The Incarnation
        Concluding Remarks

Chapter III.


    § 1. Clashing Views on Bible Criticism
    § 2. A Summary of the Results of Bible Criticism
    § 3. By Whom the "Higher Criticism" is Accepted
    § 4. Admissions by Orthodox Apologists
    § 5. Some Remaining Difficulties
        We Must Accept the Whole or Reject the Whole
        Silence of Historians
        Thoughts on "Tradition" As God's Method for The Transmission
                of Truth To Posterity
        The Alleged Sinlessness of Jesus Christ
        The Ignorance of Jesus Christ

Chapter IV.


    § 1. The New Theological Theory of a Progressive Revelation
    § 2. Parallels in Ancient Religions, and Some Remarks
            Upon Them
        Krishna and Buddha
        Parallels Other Than Krishna and Buddha
        Are the Krishna and Buddha Legends Borrowed from Christianity?
    § 3. Parallels in the Beliefs of Primitive Man, And Some Remarks
            Upon Them
        The Religions of Ancient America
        Vegetation Gods
        Why Men Eat Their God
    § 4. The Solar Myth
        Jonah and the Whale
        Anticipations of Christianity in Solar Myths
        The Christian Theory Ignored by Science
        The Sun As a Symbol
    § 5. Concluding Remarks on Christian and Anti-Christian Theories
        Argument from Essenism
        Argument from Mithraism

Chapter V.


    § 1. Preliminary Remarks
        The Doctrine of Evolution
        The Average Person's Ideas on the Evolution of Man
        The Attitude of the Church
    § 2. "Nature Red in Tooth and Claw"
    § 3. The Bible Account of Creation Irreconcilable with Science
            in Each and Every Respect
    § 4. Proofs of our Animal Origin
        The Extraordinary Affinity of Bodily Structure
        The Revelations of Embryology
        The Tale Told by the Useless Rudimentary Organs
    § 5. The Overthrow of the Doctrines of the Fall and Original Sin
        The Importance of the Question
        An Instructive Criticism
        The Bishop of Worcester's Theory
        The Archdeacon of Manchester's Theory
        The Rationalist's Theory

Chapter VI.


    § 1. Preliminary Remarks
        Theism, and Who Are Theists
    § 2. The Existence of a First Cause--An Uncaused Cause
    § 3. The First Cause an Intelligence
        Design and Directivity
        Differences of Opinion Among Theistic Apologists
    § 4. The First Cause a Beneficent Intelligence
        A Personal God
        Divine Immanence in Nature
        A Fact in History
        The Past and Present Position of the Ethical Argument
        Evil for which Man is not Held Responsible
        Evil for which Man is Held Responsible
    § 5. Religious Experience
        Mysticism and Conversion
        The Psychology of Prayer
        The Religious (?) Experiences of Intoxication
        Music and the Emotions
        Sexual Love
    § 6. The Inevitable Conclusion
    Note on Religion and Philosophy

Chapter VII.


    § 1. Preliminary Remarks--The Power of Christianity for Good
    § 2. Christianity Woman's Best Friend
    § 3. The Overthrow of Christianity Would Endanger Society and
            the Nation
    § 4. The Spread of Christianity a Proof of its Truth
    § 5. The Noble Army of Martyrs
    § 6. The Universality of the Religious Instinct
        The Hypothesis Stated
        The Rationalist's Contention
        The Apologist's Views concerning Superstition and the Religious
        Beliefs of Savage Man
        Magic and Religion
        Religion in Modern China
        Apostates in Christendom
        Religion in Modern Japan
        Classical History
    Note on Human Sentiment as to a Future Life

Chapter VIII.


    § 1. A Summary
    § 2. Why Lead a Moral Life?
        Preliminary Remarks
        The Necessity for Morality
        Uselessness of Vague Threats
        The Need for an Early Education in Ethical Principles
        The Object-Lesson Furnished by the Japanese
        Our Aids
        The Importance of a Knowledge of the Origin of Morality
        Opinions of Ethicists
    Note on Systematic Moral Instruction
    § 3. Should the Truth be Told?
        (a) "Magna est veritas et prævalebit"
        (b) Obscurantism has had its Day
        (c) The Effect on Morality
        (d) The Real Danger
        (e) The Consolations of Belief, and the Distress we may Cause
                by our Candour
        (f) Can we Alter People's Beliefs?
        (g) Can Beliefs be Useful though False?
        (h) Is a New Religion Required?
        (i) Why be so Impatient of Error?
    § 4. The Outlook
    § 5. Concluding Remarks



               An edition of this book is issued in cloth
                at 1s. 6d. net, and another on superior
                 paper, gilt lettered, at 3s. 6d. net.


What does a man seek when he examines his religious creed? To this
question Canon Liddon replies as follows:--"He seeks intellectual
satisfaction and moral support. His intellect asks for reliable
information upon certain subjects of the most momentous importance. How
does he come here? Whither is he going? What is the purpose and drift
of the various forms of existence around him? Above all, what is
the nature, what are the attributes and dispositions, of that Being
to whom the highest yearnings of his inmost self constantly point
as the true object of his existence? In asking that the answers to
these questions shall be definite, that what is certain shall be
affirmed as certain, what is doubtful as doubtful, what is false as
false, he is only asking that his religious information shall be
presented in as clear and practical a shape as his information on
other subjects. In no department of human knowledge is haziness deemed
a merit; by nothing is an educated mind more distinguished than by a
resolute effort to mark the exact frontiers of its knowledge and its
ignorance; to hesitate only when hesitation is necessary; to despair
of knowledge only when knowledge is ascertainably out of reach. Surely
on the highest and most momentous of all subjects this same precision
may be asked for with reverence and in reason; surely the human mind
is not bound to forget its noblest instincts when it approaches the
throne and presence of its Maker?" (Some Elements of Religion, p. 24).

Again, in his New Year's message for 1905, the Archbishop of Canterbury
condemns indifference to truth as a vice, and "drifting along the
current of popular opinion" as a sin. He invites and persuades us to
use "the sadly-neglected powers and privileges of rational thought
and common sense."

The duty of thinking, therefore, is now recognised by the Church--it
was not formerly. But what will be the result of this thinking? In
his book, The Hearts of Men, Mr. Fielding tells us that "no man has
ever sat down calmly unbiassed to reason out his religion, and not
ended by rejecting it." Mr. Fielding adds: "The great men, who have
been always religious, do not invalidate what I say.... There is no
assumption more fallacious than that, because a man is a keen reasoner
on one subject, he is also on another. Men who are strictly religious,
who believe in their faith, whatever their faith may be, consider it
above proof, beyond argument.... It is emotion, not reason; feeling,
not induction." (The Hearts of Men, pp. 142-3.)

Does not this deep and sympathetic writer furnish us with a true
picture of men's hearts? What if, after exercising their privileges
of rational thought and common sense, the majority of men find that
Christianity no longer gives them either intellectual satisfaction
or moral support? What if they finally arrive at the conclusion that
Christianity and all supernatural beliefs are but the survival of
primitive superstitions which can no longer bear the light of modern
knowledge? These are the grave questions which now confront us.

A man may enter, and generally does enter, upon his inquiry biassed in
favour of religious belief of some kind. He approaches the subject in a
reverent frame of mind. In his private prayers to his God he does not
neglect to ask for heavenly guidance. He evinces precisely the spirit
which a divine would consider becoming. But as his inquiry proceeds
there comes a time when his religious bias disappears--when he can
no longer feel what he could honestly call reverence. He discovers
that what he thought was known, and had actually been revealed, is
unknown. How can he believe in and worship the Unknown? More than ever
he feels his own insignificance and ignorance; but the feeling thus
excited, while akin to awe, is divested of reverence. Pursuing his
search far enough, he succeeds in extricating himself from a quagmire
of demonstrably false superstitions. Finally he reaches solid ground,
and builds his life upon it.

Unfortunately, many never pursue their inquiry up to this stage;
they become fearful, or they give it up as a hopeless entanglement,
or they find they have not the requisite leisure. Perhaps, therefore,
the information gained by one of the more fortunate may be of some
little service to others. It will be my endeavour to set forth in this
book not only the destructive, but also the constructive, results of
a search for truth.

P. V.

January, 1906.


"This book," writes one of its clerical critics, [1] "is evidently the
honest, outspoken opinion of one who, having been brought up in an
unquestioning acceptance of the orthodox doctrines of Christianity,
has gradually drifted into the extreme of Rationalism." Up to a
certain point my friend is right. I was indeed brought up in an
unquestioning acceptance of the orthodox teachings of Christianity;
but, while my conversion to Rationalism has certainly been gradual,
I may fairly claim that the process has been something very different
from merely drifting. Long and careful study, the reluctant abandonment
of a cherished belief, the adoption of an attitude which is unpopular
and which distresses many who are near and dear to me, the practical
application of the principles of Rationalism to daily life, involving
as it does the serious step of bringing up my children in strict
accordance with my firm convictions--these are surely not the ways
of one who has permitted himself to drift. A man might--he often
does--drift into indifferentism, or, now that theology is so liberal
and heterodoxy so rife, into latitudinarianism, but hardly into
"the extreme of Rationalism."

I take this opportunity of cordially thanking all who have
assisted me, and specially I have to thank Mr. Joseph McCabe and
Dr. H. D. R. Kingston for reading the MS. and the proofs in all
their stages, and for pointing out verbal inaccuracies and suggesting
improvements both in the matter and in the manner of presenting it. I
am also much indebted to a lady, who does not wish her name to appear,
for lightening the task of proof correction.

P. V.

January, 1907.


The present edition consists of 10,000 copies, bringing the total
issue to 31,000. Apart from a few alterations in the chapter dealing
with ancient beliefs, the work is unchanged.

P. V.

April, 1911.


Chapter I.


§ 1. The Truth of the Matter.

Before entering upon an inquiry into religious unbelief, we need to
form a correct estimate of its prevalence. If, as many would have
us think, there is nothing unusual in the present situation--if the
age of faith is returning, [2] it is hardly worth while to enter upon
this inquiry at all. If, on the other hand, the forces hostile to the
Christian faith differ essentially from those that stirred up waves
of scepticism in the past--if there is overwhelming evidence that
belief among educated men is fast decaying, it is surely high time
to investigate the grounds of unbelief, and to welcome the fullest
discussion concerning the best means of dealing with an entirely
new and extremely grave situation. It is only the shortest-sighted
policy that would shelve a disagreeable question until mischief had
occurred. It is better to face the facts. From every point of view,
concealment regarding a question of such vital importance as the truth
of Christianity is to be deplored; while an attitude of indifference
on a subject that should be of surpassing interest to us all can only
be characterised as amazing--unless, indeed, the real explanation be
that men have ceased to believe.

We must, then, determine, in the first place, whether we are witnessing
simply a wave of scepticism that will shortly subside again, or
whether the present situation in the religious world is altogether
unprecedented. The truth of the matter will best be learnt from
the lips of those to whom pessimistic admissions must be peculiarly
distressing, and who would therefore be the last either to raise a
false alarm or to be guilty of an exaggeration. The Bishop of London
has warned us [3] that "the truth of the matter really is that all
over Europe a great conflict is being fought between the old faith in
a supernatural revelation and a growing disbelief in it." The Bishop of
Salisbury lately [4] said: "There has been revealed to us the terrible
and painful fact that a great many are giving up public worship,
and that a large proportion of the people of England pay little
attention to religion at all." Not long ago Lord Hugh Cecil expressed
[5] the same opinion in the following words: "On all sides there are
signs of the decay of the Faith. People do not go to church, or, if
they go, it is for the sake of the music, or for some non-religious
motive. The evidence is overwhelming that the doctrines of Christianity
have passed into the region of doubt." From Dr. Horton we learn that
"vast numbers of people in England to-day have forsaken the best and
highest ideal of life known to them before they have found a better
and higher.... While Professor Haeckel and Professor Ray Lankester do
in their way offer an alternative, and present to us the solution of
the great enigma according to their light, the bulk of people in our
day surrender the old and tried ideal, fling it aside, assume that
it is discredited, live without it, and make no serious attempt to
find a better ideal." [6]

Are there not indications, moreover, everywhere in the literature of
the day? The works of some of our greatest scholars are either covertly
or openly agnostic. The more thoughtful of our magazines, such as the
Nineteenth Century, Fortnightly Review, Hibbert Journal, Independent
Review, etc., are continually publishing articles which teem with
heterodoxy. The "Do We Believe?" correspondence in the Daily Telegraph
(not to mention the more recent controversies in the Standard, Daily
Mail, and Daily News) was without precedent, and highly significant
of the present state of religious unrest. In a lecture reported in the
Tablet, Father Gerard voiced the growing feeling of apprehension when
he referred to the "Do We Believe?" controversy and the "amazing
success" of the Rationalist Press Association as indicating a
situation of "the utmost gravity, as gravely disquieting as any with
which in her long career the Church has ever been confronted." Also
it may be noticed that organised efforts have commenced all over
England to answer inquiries concerning the truth of Christianity by
means of apologetic literature and lectures. What do these inquiries
portend? The reply is given in the warning of the Rev. Mark Pattison
in his essay on "Tendencies of Religious Thought in England." "When
an age," he says, "is found occupied in proving its creed, this is
but a token that the age has ceased to have a proper belief in it."

Whichever way we turn the same spectacle confronts us. In France
especially, and also in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium,
Italy, Spain, the United States, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Brazil, and
Argentina (where the men are practically all agnostics), freethought
is making rapid progress. Only in Russia, where ninety per cent. of
the population are uneducated, is the growth small and confined to the
"intellectuals." Never in the world's history has there been so much
disbelief in the "supernatural"; and, with the advance of science
and education, this disbelief appears likely to be one day almost
universal. Militant Rationalism is jubilant; while the pastor of
the Theistic Church [7] proclaims: "I see a battle coming. I do not,
like Froude, predict that it will be fought once more, as of old, in
blood and tears; but I am as certain as I am of to-morrow's dawn that
a mighty conflict is at hand which will revolutionise the religious
thought and feeling of Christendom."

It is sheer folly for the Church to comfort herself with the reflection
that this is not the first time in the history of Christianity
that disbelief has manifested itself. In the early days of the
Church the heretic was not in possession of the knowledge that we
have since acquired. He could not support his views, as he can now,
with the facts of science. At every step he could be met by arguments
which he had no adequate means of refuting, and if he dared to deny
the "supernatural" there was an enormous preponderance of public
opinion against him. Indeed, he himself generally believed in the
"supernatural," though he was sceptical of the particular evidence of
it on which Christianity had been founded. Retarded by Christianity
itself--or, shall we say, by its interpreters?--knowledge was unable
to advance; it receded, and the clock was put back in scientific
research. Darkness reigned supreme for over a thousand years. At last
the dawn began to break. What was the result? The children of light
suffered for their temerity; but their ideas were eventually absorbed,
and beliefs were suitably reformed. Thus the Copernican system was
gradually accepted, and so were the discoveries which followed, up
to fifty years ago. Then, however, the established beliefs received
shock after shock in rapid succession--shocks from which they do
not yet show any promise of recovering. The myriads of worlds in
the processes of birth and death; the vast antiquity of the earth;
the long history of man and his animal origin; the reign of natural
law, and the consequent discredit of the supernatural; the suspicions
aroused by the study of comparative mythology; the difficulties of
"literal inspiration"; the doubt thrown by the Higher Criticism
on many cherished beliefs--these and the like have shaken the very
foundations of our faith, and are the cause of agnosticism among the
vast majority of our leaders of thought and science.

Ecclesiastics, however, with certain notable exceptions, appear
to be labouring under the delusion that a reconciliation has taken
place of late between Religion and Science, and that the voice of
the Higher Criticism has been hushed--at least, they are continually
assuring us to this effect. They remain under this delusion for two
reasons. First, because they are more or less ignorant of science
and of the preponderating opinion of the scientific world concerning
the truth of Christianity. Secondly, because they are lulled into a
feeling of security through misconceptions regarding the attitude
of the laity. There appears to be the same, or nearly the same,
average of religious conformity as heretofore, and the consensus
of opinion seems to be all on the side of church and chapel. Any
falling off in religious fervour is attributed to sheer carelessness
rather than to unbelief. From the days of Huxley until quite lately
there have been no attacks upon Christianity worth mentioning. The
Churches fail to realise that this religious conformity and goodwill
towards the Christian faith has generally no connection whatever with a
conviction of the truth of Christianity, and that, where there is this
conviction, it is usually among those who are ignorant of the chief
causes for suspicion. I propose, therefore, in the first instance,
to examine some of the more usual types among the laity. Obviously, in
doing so I shall be omitting a great many shades of thought. I shall
say very little about the opinions of the genuine believer or of the
hopelessly thoughtless, and nothing of the opinions of evil-livers. My
object is to set forth the types which are most likely to have been
misunderstood by the clergy.

§ 2. The Attitude of the Laity.

Let us commence, then, with the sceptical. They are not inclined, for
the present at least, to propagate their views. Rightly or wrongly,
they still hold the popular opinion that, while they themselves
can dispense with belief, the masses cannot. All that is asked of a
"cultured" man is that he keep his opinion to himself. He may be an
agnostic or--whether he realises it or not--practically an atheist;
but he must not think of calling himself by such ugly names. "The
uneducated freethinker," our modern philosopher will say, "manifests
a Philistine Voltaireanism--a spirit now disapproved by scholars
and philosophers, who regard with serious consideration all the
manifestations and products of human thought, from the earliest
fetichism to the most recent developments of that religious tendency
which appears to be a constitutional element in man." Such high
thoughts, according to this philosopher, are not for the common herd,
who must continue to wallow in their ignorance, feeding on husks,
which, however unsuitable for his own refined digestion, will serve
well enough to nourish the religious instincts of the masses.

If of a mystical turn of mind, he will tell you that Christianity,
like all other religions, may be but a symbol of a great Reality;
and this person, though sceptical regarding the Christian dogmas,
will possibly consider himself a Christian. Or, again, he may be
without any leaning towards mysticism, and merely hold that religion,
if sincere, is better for the mind than scepticism. "Better a belated
and imperfect religion," he will say, "than none at all. The heart
has its claims on our consideration as well as the intellect. Study
Comte's General View of Positivism."

Many agnostics are just as firmly convinced as believers that their
country's prosperity is bound up with the Christian belief. This is
largely due to their still clinging to the Church's teaching concerning
belief and morals. It is well to remember, however, that the feeling
on this point of the average cultured Frenchman or Italian is quite
the opposite. The measures now being taken by the French Government
against the clergy are based upon the contention that the Church's
influence is injurious to the State's welfare; and this feeling has
reached such a pitch that Republican employees hardly dare admit their
attendance at divine worship. During September, 1904, the Italian
Government extended a cordial welcome to a Freethought Congress, and
the proceedings were opened by the Minister of Public Instruction. But
the average Englishman, be he ever so sure of the falsity of the
Christian dogmas, can foresee nothing but immorality and anarchy as the
result of the overthrow of Christianity. "Cui bono?" "Quo vadis?" he
cries. "Leave well alone!" "It is easy enough to show that Christianity
is false, but what have you to put in its place? What we want now is
construction, not criticism and the flogging of a dying creed." He
forgets, it seems to me, that people cannot be hoodwinked for ever,
and that, as Mr. Froude tells us, the Reformation was brought about
by people refusing any longer to believe a lie. In addition to this
concern for the public weal, the sceptic is influenced by motives of
expediency. He is well aware of the odium he would incur should he
proclaim his heterodox views concerning the popular religion. Such
publicity might spoil his professional career, be the death-blow of
his ambitions, cause him considerable pecuniary loss, alienate the
friends he most values, and, worst of all, destroy the happiness of
his home life. For these and similar reasons we find, in the case of
the half-believer, that he does not care to verify his doubts, but
prefers to leave his opinions vague enough to be able to call himself a
broad-minded Christian. Whether half-believing or distinctly agnostic,
he usually holds that very common opinion regarding women, children,
and religion--that, however little store a man may set by belief, it
is wise to encourage it in the women folk, and also to hand over the
children to them for their religious instruction. Besides, militant
agnosticism is not the fashion. It is looked upon as "bad form,"
or as smacking of socialism. Indifference is much the easier attitude.

Or, again, the average man is disposed to trust to the progress
of science and the ultimate triumph of truth, and sees no reason
why he should make any effort towards shortening the period of
transition. In his contempt for the efforts of the "lowly born" and
indigent secularists, he forgets that the greatest changes in the
world's history have been brought about from the smallest beginnings
by these very "lower orders" he affects to despise. In our own times,
was it not working men who first set in motion a revolution that
will eventually reform Russia? Perhaps the commonest attitude of
"the man in the street," whatever his manner of belief may be,
is one of good-natured indifference--an acquiescence in things as
they are. Absence of the critical spirit or of anxious-mindedness,
or of both, renders it easy for him to take things as he finds them,
much after the manner of his primeval ancestors. His mind will not
occupy itself with aught but the present. Naturally, too, he feels
very strongly that what appears to make others happy should not be
disturbed. In all this he makes various questionable assumptions,
which I am considering in subsequent chapters of this book.

It is unnecessary to refer to the opinions of the militant agnostic,
as this type could never be accused of deceiving the Church. However,
it maybe noted that Mr. Blatchford says, in the Clarion of February
3rd, 1905: "So far as I am concerned, I attacked religion because I
believe it to be untrue, and because it seems to me to bar the way
to liberty and happiness. The attack upon religion is a part of a
task I have set myself." There are statesmen and other persons of
influence who are as incredulous as Mr. Blatchford regarding the truth
of Christianity; but they do not, apparently, hold that Christianity
bars the way to liberty and happiness (I give them credit for being
ruled by the highest motives), and so the Church has their support. It
is a weird arrangement between Unbelief and Belief, which cannot
possibly last much longer; meanwhile, it tends to confuse and delay
the answer to that gravest of questions: "Is Christianity true?"

Leaving the sceptic, let us examine another extremely common type--the
man who is under the impression that he is a Christian, without either
being particularly devout or having inquired at all deeply into
the grounds of his faith. He is ignorant of the causes for doubt,
because he has not had, or has not cared to afford, any time for
such matters. I do not refer so much to the masses, who obviously
have very little leisure, but to the more leisured and influential
classes. Such a man's scientific education, if he ever had any, was
broken off early in life. A large proportion of those all-important
years of his boyhood were devoted probably to an unwilling study
of the "humanities." His faith is decidedly vague, and according to
his own peculiar interpretation, an adjustment between his heavenly
aspirations and his earthly inclinations. It has never been thought
out, and is not the result of a thorough study of its tenets. He
was born and bred a Christian, and all the nicest people he knows
are Christians, or he thinks they are. He is, all unconsciously, a
social chameleon taking his colour from the conditions in the midst
of which he happens to live. He, too, like his heterodox brother,
sneers at organised Freethought in this country, because it owes
its inception and conduct chiefly to poor and lowly men, forgetting
that it was from such a source that the mighty creed of Christendom
itself arose. He forgets that the first Christian apostles were
mostly working men. If he has heard or read anything of a sceptical
nature, he has never stopped to inquire any further into it. He has
no idea that the central features of the Bible have been attacked
by men of the greatest learning and integrity, with the result that
even the defenders of the faith ask for a reverent agnosticism as
to the historical circumstances out of which, in the first instance,
belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ arose. [8] Not knowing that
the essentials are called in question, he sees no reason to trouble
himself about mere details. It is enough for him that he feels sure
that there must be some object in our existence, and that there must
be a First Cause. It never occurs to him to consider whether his and
the Christian conception of God can be reconciled. For him the truth of
the Christian dogma is proved sufficiently by the unsatisfying nature
of materialism. Has he not been taught that he must have faith, and
that faith is a feeling of trust divinely implanted, and not needing
to be fed on evidences? Is not Christianity the civilising agent of
the world, and the origin of all morality and all good works? Does
not scepticism lead to atheism? If thought only leads to disbelief
in God, he for one is not going to think.

In addition to the now fast dwindling band of sincere and thoughtful
Christians there are, of course, many professing religionists who do
think a little, a very little, on religious subjects; but the bulk
of the male element are absolutely indifferent to the question of
religion at all. The average subaltern is as good a sample of the
latter type as any other. Speak to him about religion, and he is
unutterably bored. A certain amount of church-going forms part of
his ordinary round of duties. This is the sum-total of his "religious
experiences." For the rest, religion, or any question as to its truth
in this or that particular, is, so far as he is concerned, a matter
of supreme indifference.

People are usually (though less so now perhaps than formerly) so
careful to keep their thoughts about religion to themselves that it is
no wonder the Church is ignorant of the extent to which heterodoxy is
rife. The colossal hypocrisy which speaks of "the reserve of Englishmen
about their religion" needs exposure. Why should there be this dislike
to talk upon religion--a religion which, if true, should make all
worldly affairs sink into infinitesimal insignificance? Is it from a
spirit of reverence, or is it not rather because the interpretations
of God's alleged revelation differ so widely that people neither
wish to "give themselves away" by stating their own interpretations,
nor to hear the distasteful interpretations of others? If they were
perfectly straightforward, they would run the danger both of hurting
the feelings and falling in the estimation of their friends.

Sometimes there is a dread of appearing ridiculous, sometimes a dislike
of appearing to cant. Yet surely, if we believe what we profess,
there is nothing to be ashamed of, and we ought openly to testify to
our faith. I can speak from personal experience when I say that the
believing heathen of India, whether Hindoos, Mussulmans, or Parsees,
have no qualms on this score. They see no necessity for "reserve"
in the profession of their faith. They testify to it openly at all
times and in all places. It forms, as it ought, an integral part of
their every-day life.

This so-called "reserve" is also occasioned by the inability to live
up to the ethical ideals demanded by our creed. Men wish neither to
be hypocrites nor to be thought hypocrites. It is an inherent fault
in Christian ethics that certain portions are not practicable. They
are too much dominated by a belief in the near approach of the end of
the world. "If we mechanically applied, as rules of conduct, Christ's
ideals of temper, we are certain, from common sense, that universal
pauperism, lawlessness, and national extinction would follow." [9]
Then, again, there is too much of the presumption that all men have
an equal chance in the battle against temptations, and too little
acknowledgment of the part played by heredity and environment; and
thus the root of the evil is overlooked. Also, if we have a strong
"conviction of sin," which, according to our spiritual advisers,
is essential, and if we cannot hope to shake off the burden of
sin by our own unaided endeavours, our moral fibre is liable to be
weakened, and we may cease to cultivate the all-important qualities
of self-reliance and self-respect. Emerson's advice is far healthier:
"The less we have to do with our sins the better."

Whatever the many causes of this "proud reserve" may be, one of
the consequences is that we remain in ignorance of our neighbour's
beliefs. If people discussed religious matters among themselves, they
would make some surprising discoveries. The agnostic would find that
"believers" are not the hypocrites he sometimes puts them down to be,
for he would learn, to his surprise, that they are supremely ignorant
of much that he assumed they would be sure to know. The believer would
find that there are many more agnostics than he had ever dreamt there
were, and he would also learn that their reason for abandoning belief
was of a very different nature from what he had supposed.

When agnostics read the lessons in church, as they frequently do,
and when, with their aid and the aid of others in various stages of
heterodoxy, congregations in church and chapel on Sunday only amount to
twenty-two per cent. [10] of the population, and these chiefly women,
[11] what must not be the sum-total of agnosticism, heterodoxy,
and indifference among men in this most Christian of nations? The
extent of unavowed or unconscious scepticism far exceeds that which
is openly avowed or consciously felt. Laxity in keeping the Sabbath
is now notoriously on the increase. Nothing can be more sensible
than that people who have slaved for six days in the atmosphere of
the office, etc., should go off for their "week end's" golf, etc.;
but for the clergy to attribute the consequent falling-off in church
attendance solely to the extra facilities of travel tempting people to
carelessness about religion is to adopt the method of the proverbial
ostrich in the desert at the approach of a dreaded enemy. Unbelief
and the advance of rationalism are really at the bottom of this new
development; for all the carelessness, all the temptations in the
world, would not persuade sane people to throw away their claims
to eternal happiness by neglecting to worship their God--a God
that demands this worship. How little do the clergy really know,
or attempt to know, of the beliefs of the cultured portion of their
congregations! As I write these words I receive, curiously enough,
a letter which shows how unusual it is for the pastor to question
his flock. The writer of the letter, a lady, says: "Isn't Mr. X (the
rector of a certain country parish) a gauche man? Mr. Z (an influential
parishioner) didn't go to Holy Communion, and so Mr. X asked him if he
had been confirmed. Since then Mr. Z goes elsewhere to church." Now,
personally, I admire X's courage. What he did would not be done by the
ordinary run of parsons. If they did that sort of thing, they would
soon become exceedingly unpopular in the neighbourhood, and lose most
of their fashionable and opulent congregation. But they would begin
to learn the true state of affairs. They would learn, for instance,
that some of the most regular and respectable of the male portion
of their congregations were agnostic or heterodox, and that their
attendance at divine worship was merely to set a good example to the
"lower orders," or to please their women-folk, or for some cause or
other utterly unconnected with any desire to worship or any belief in
the efficacy of so doing. There is doubtless a great deal to be said in
favour of a spirit of toleration which inculcates non-interference with
a man's belief; but it all helps to hide the true state of affairs,
and is surely overdone when it encourages men to attend a service where
they are acting a part and making solemn declarations untruthfully.

There is one more type of person I should include among the many
strange buttresses of the Church--namely, the person who refuses
point blank to be enlightened. The Churches have been lulled into
a sense of security by many causes, but chief among them, perhaps,
there stands out the fact that people not only will not take the
trouble to inquire into the grounds of their faith, but consider
that it would be positively wicked to do any such thing. To such I
can only repeat the words of the Rev. J. W. Diggle, now Bishop of
Carlisle. "There are," he says, "perhaps, few things, and certainly
nothing of similar moment, about which men give themselves so
little trouble, and take such little pains, as the ascertainment,
by strict examination, of the foundations and the evidences of their
religion. Hence so many religious persons are like children who have
not learned things accurately. They are fearful of being questioned,
and are out of temper in an examination." However, as an excuse for
this timidity--for it is often nothing else--it must be conceded
that a deep study of the evidences does, more often than not, end in
agnosticism. This gives rise to the serious question: "If it is God
who assists us to remain staunch to our creed, why does He so often
forsake us, just when we are trying to lead more thoughtful lives and,
consequently, study more deeply the faith we profess?" On the one hand,
we find that modern agnosticism is not the result of carelessness,
but of thoughtfulness. On the other hand, we observe that the Church
numbers among some of its firmest adherents not only those who are
ignorant through circumstances over which they have no control, or
through thoughtlessness, but also those who remain ignorant through
fear to inquire.

§ 3. Christianity and Science not Reconciled.

Has the Church, then, been deceived in her impression that a
reconciliation has taken place between Christianity and Science? Most
certainly. I grant that to some extent there exists a patched-up
peace. The modern apologist no longer adopts the unwise course of
maintaining every strange phenomenon to be miraculous as long as it is
unexplained, whereby each advance of physical science used necessarily
to be hostile to theology. He even goes further, and says that the
Resurrection and all the miracles may be only the manifestation of some
law which is as yet beyond the analysis of our short experience. But,
as I shall show later on, the new interpretations tone down hostility
in one respect only to raise fresh and greater difficulties in another.

The manner in which misunderstandings occur on the subject of a
reconciliation is well seen when we look into one of the Church's
most popular arguments in its favour--the appeal to the pronouncement
by Lord Kelvin in support of a Creative Power. Lord Kelvin assured
the world that modern biologists were "coming to the belief in the
existence of a vital principle." [12] That this pronouncement raised
a perfect storm of protest in the world of science is wholly ignored
by the world of religion. Suppose, however, that the consensus
of opinion had been otherwise, what conclusion could we draw? We
simply obtain an argument for some form of Theism. The probability
of the existence of a Creative Power would not in itself prove the
truth of the Christian dogmas, although it would be a very necessary
link in the chain of evidence. It is extremely doubtful whether any
scientist or philosopher really holds the doctrine of a personal
God, certainly not of the anthropomorphic God of Christianity. Let
us take Sir Oliver Lodge, for example. He is continually being held
up to us by the Church as an instance of a man of science who finds
himself able to believe in the supernatural; but does the Church
claim him as one of her fold? In the Hibbert Journal for April, 1904,
he makes out a strong case for the entire re-interpretation of the
Christian doctrine, in which, among other dogmas, the Atonement and
Virgin-birth are completely surrendered. He has never yet professed
belief in a personal God, and seems to question His omnipotence. [13]
Again, in a paper which he contributed lately to a book of essays
entitled Ideals of Science, he owns that science is a long way from
actively supporting religion. In spite of this, no name is, or used
to be, more frequently quoted than his, in support of the Church's
contention that a reconciliation has taken place.

The admissions of Sir Oliver Lodge are, in a certain sense, all
the more important because he undoubtedly is one of the few men of
science who still retain a strong belief in a spiritual world. In
the Hibbert Journal for January, 1905, he informs us that he is
opposed to a materialistic monism, such as Haeckel's, and that
"the progress of thought has left him [Haeckel], as well as his
great English exemplar, Herbert Spencer, somewhat high and dry,
belated and stranded by the tide of opinion which has now begun to
flow in another direction." [14] This is the sort of statement which
is eagerly seized upon by the Church; but it neither witnesses to the
truth of Christianity, nor does it voice the opinion of the scientific
world. It is the opinion of a scientist who believes that he has had
"communication with spirits." [15] Professor Ray Lankester, one of
our leading biologists in England, indignantly refutes Sir Oliver's
strictures on Professor Haeckel. [16]

Now, it is, of course, quite true that there are schools of thought
opposed to Haeckel's. There is, for instance, the school which
considers that science has no business to concern herself with
theology; and there are the metaphysicians. But the point I wish
to make clear is that all these schools are heterodox. They do not
accept the Christian dogmas. It is so easy for false impressions
on such matters to get about, and, I regret to add, this does not
occur altogether by chance. When Haeckel, one of our greatest living
biologists, was caught tripping in his knowledge of theology by a
professor of that subject, the Church explained to the laity that
the great Dr. Loofs had shown that Haeckel had forfeited his claim
to consideration as a reliable man of science; and, on this basis,
his Riddle of the Universe was held up to obloquy and derision. The
Church, however, did not mention at the same time that Haeckel had
expressly said that he was not skilled in theology, and that it was
only in his own branch of knowledge that he spoke with authority. Nor
did the Church mention that their champion, the learned theologian,
Dr. Loofs, himself discredits the notion of the Virgin-birth, and
that the chief bone of contention between the two professors was
simply the question of the parentage of Jesus.

It is just because science and religion are in conflict that the
religious naturally wish to discredit science. They will, if they are
sufficiently ignorant, go so far as Lady Blount, [17] and hold that
the earth is flat and without motion. But such persons should note
that in the Church itself there are a few--the few best qualified
to form an opinion--who accept all the main facts of science, and
do not think, or pretend that they think, that there has been any
reconciliation. The Rev. P. N. Waggett is one of these. He is an
apologist of unusual scientific competence, and his new handbook
for the clergy, Religion and Science, simply bristles with problems
which he confesses have yet to be solved. However, he does not allow
himself to be disturbed. Conclusions adverse to theology are to
be resisted. In other words, we must possess our souls in patience
until we can see a way out of our difficulties. He remarks: "There
are conclusions which are to be dissolved, and conclusions which
are to be avoided; but there are also conclusions which have to be
resisted, held at bay--'held up,' I think some adventurous Western
people call it--until we can see our way to destroy them. Such a
resistance is not irrational." He personally prefers "the positive
or scientific treatment and pursuit of religion," and he goes on to
say that "this positive pursuit of the facts of the spirit must be
maintained in spite of difficulties. It must be maintained in spite
of outstanding discrepancies with science." To my mind, the position
here taken up by Mr. Waggett is the only possible one for a convinced
Christian who has a real knowledge of science. He avoids the snares
into which so many of his fellow clerics have fallen. For he does not
jump at the conclusion that every "gap" in our knowledge of life's
mysteries is a proof of the supernatural. Nor does he attempt to show,
as many other apologists are wont to do, that there is no direct
connection between science and religion. He does not try to escape
the criticism of metaphysical conclusions which a scientific habit
of thought engenders. But, while his position may appear at first
sight a tenable one, whether it be so or not depends entirely upon
the correctness of the assumption on which his argument is really
based--the true witness of the heart, as against the false witness of
the reason. It is interesting to compare Mr. Waggett's position with
that of another of the progressives. The Rev. John Kelman writes in
Ideals of Science and Faith [18]: "So far as we have gone, the history
of the past, viewed by the light in which the newer conceptions of
the Bible have placed it, shows that, at the present moment in the
progress of thought, science and religion are not in the least degree
at strife. They need no reconciliation." Suppose the Rev. J. Kelman
to be right and the Rev. P. N. Waggett to be wrong, what then? It
is the newer conceptions of the Bible which make it possible for
Mr. Kelman to speak of a reconciliation--the very conceptions which
the orthodox cannot and will not accept. The orthodox believer is
told that religion and science are reconciled; but he is not told by
what means. Thus the orthodox, who would never think of accepting
the "terribly heterodox" ideas of the advanced school, are all the
time accepting a result which could only be arrived at by the help
of those self-same ideas. In fact, it was the very necessity for a
reconciliation which originated their invention.

So much is said about "scientific doubt" in these days that it
is well to remember that doubts as to the truth of the Christian
belief are not caused alone by purely scientific difficulties of
faith. Carlyle refused to accept Darwin's theories. His temperament was
strongly inclined to a stern Puritanical piety, and his whole nature
was antipathetic to science. Yet he did not think it possible that
"educated honest men could profess much longer to believe in historical
Christianity." Renan, a profound scholar in Oriental languages, shows,
in his famous work, The Life of Jesus, that, while keenly appreciative
of all that was beautiful in the life and teaching of Jesus, he
was forced, by his study of the Scriptures [19] in the original,
to the conclusion that the miraculous part of the narrative had no
historical foundation. Leo Tolstoi, the helper of the helpless, whose
voice is ever raised in the cause of universal love and peace, vainly
sought an answer to religious doubts, and finally renounced Christian
dogmas, building up a religion of his own. Numerous instances could be
given showing that well-known and pious-minded thinkers have rejected
Christianity on grounds other than scientific. And this diversity in
the reasons for negation further tends to strengthen those suspicions
regarding our faith which it is now the apologist's task to dispel.

A significant circumstance is the far more tolerant attitude of the
better-informed clergy towards the unbeliever. There still remain
persons of the Dr. Torrey and the Rev. J. Morgan Gibbon [20] type,
ready to vilify the agnostic; but their number is rapidly on the
decrease. The clergy, as a whole, are more tolerant now than many of
the pious laity. Why is this? Is it not because they are beginning
to appreciate the perplexities of faith, and to learn that agnostics
as a body can be, and are, good men? Under certain conditions they
themselves have severe wrestlings with the dictates of reason, and
it is only by prayer [21] and occupying their minds in their work
that they are able to dispel dark doubts. They will tell you that
a faith such as theirs, and such as they hope you will attain after
emergence from doubt, is a real faith, with which the faith of the
ordinary person, accepting everything on trust, is not to be compared.

It is all very well to talk glibly, as so many do nowadays, of an age
of tolerance. How can man be tolerant in matters concerning which God
is alleged to have distinctly told us that He is not tolerant? It has
often occurred to me that, were there such a person as the Devil, he
must be much puzzled over the case of the high-minded agnostic, and
more especially so if the latter conceived it his duty to propagate
his views. In other words, if he were a militant agnostic--a Huxley
or a Holyoake. For, on the one hand, if the Devil could persuade the
agnostic to adopt religious conformity at the expense of self-respect,
he would ruin the agnostic's character, and so drag one more soul
into perdition; but he would at the same time be rendering the whole
Christian community a service by saving them from the dangerous advice
of the agnostic. On the other hand, if Satan aided the agnostic in
the line of conduct which he was at present conscientiously pursuing,
the soul of the latter would slip from Satan's grasp (for I presume
there can be no punishment for honesty); but, as Anti-Christ, Satan
would reap a grand harvest from the seeds of unbelief sown by the
agnostic. And the purer and more unselfish the life of the agnostic,
the more the latter would influence people to share his opinions. How
does God view this perplexing situation? We are told from the pulpit
nowadays, by the broader-minded parson, not only that agnostics may
be good men, but that they "exhibit the very temper which Christ
blesses." [22] This curious truce between Believer and Unbeliever,
each still holding fast to his belief or unbelief, only serves
to demonstrate with added force that there is not, and cannot be,
a reconciliation between Faith and Knowledge.

§ 4. The Genesis and Character of the New Outburst.

It is imperative that the Churches should appreciate the real character
of the new outburst of scepticism. The controversy with rationalism
has entered upon another phase--a phase far more dangerous to the
security of Christendom. As was inevitable, the suspicions regarding
the faith have filtered down to classes that are not content to be
duped because, forsooth, it is said to be for their good. They have
none of the reasons of the upper-class agnostic for "lying low." The
enlightenment of the working man has been accelerated during the
past year or so by the issue of cheap reprints from the books of our
great scientists and thinkers, and by a direct attack upon religion
by the well-known editor of the Clarion, Robert Blatchford. That the
Churches are already partly alive to the new danger is evinced by their
present anxious attitude towards the spread of knowledge likely to be
damaging to the Faith. It was one of the subjects discussed at the
Canterbury Diocesan Conference in June, 1904, and will, doubtless,
be earnestly discussed at the next Church Congress, together with
the whole question of the rapid increase in unbelief. While, however,
the Church inveighs against the "reprints," she gives out, also, that
"Christianity is always strengthened by being attacked." This is hardly
consistent. For why not, then, allow the process of strengthening
to continue by these means? Certainly, if Christianity be true,
the Church ought to be strengthened. How could it be otherwise? It
might compel her to discard some of her dogmas; but that would only
be if they were false, and, in such case, she is better without
them. Nothing but good should arise from a thorough examination of
her tenets. She would be enabled to find out where her weakness lies,
and thus to emerge from the ordeal stronger than ever.

Those who wish, as I do, to learn the whole truth concerning
Christianity, hope that she will no longer postpone a complete
and unbiassed investigation of the whole of the anti-Christian
arguments. Doubtless we shall get our wish in time; but meanwhile we
deplore the delay, for reasons I have more particularly set forth in
the concluding chapter of this book. If the honest truth be that she
is not confident of the security of her position, are we to understand
that the cause of Untruth is thought to be more likely to prosper
than the cause of Truth?

Of the two conflicting views regarding the effect of anti-Christian
attacks--the pessimistic and the optimistic--it is the former which
appears to me the more likely to be correct. For consider what
would occur should attacks of far greater severity be delivered--a
contingency by no means impossible in the near future. Suppose the
"rational" propagandists, instead of being hampered by the want of
funds and influential support, were to become endowed with a fraction
of the wealth of the Church, and were thus in a position to popularise
their views by spending money in extensive advertisement of every
description, by subsidising platform orators who would propound
rationalism and non-theological ethics in every town and village,
by relieving distress, and so on, would the Christian Faith be
strengthened? Has it not already suffered since the sixpenny reprints
began to bring knowledge within the reach of the people--the people
who have, many of them, little or nothing to fear from an expression of
their agnosticism? If militant rationalists were sufficiently possessed
of this world's goods to start an adequate fund for the lucrative
employment of clergymen who find they can no longer subscribe to the
articles of the Christian Faith, and who would leave the Church if
they could do so without having to face absolute ruin, would not the
secessions increase in direct proportion to the increase of the fund
and the consequent means of support? [23] If those men of note who
are even now agnostics at heart were to proclaim the fact and assist
in propagandism, would not the flock follow the bell-wethers?

Whether hastened or not by the action of the propagandist, the masses,
in these days of universal education, are bound to hear sooner or
later of these grave doubts. The questioners of the Faith are no longer
only the philosophers, scientists, and those who join hands with the
Churches in prescribing a dietary of fairy tales for the preservation
of the moral health of the masses. Many of the working class [24] are
far more thoughtful and intelligent regarding questions of science
as it affects religion than is generally supposed. Hitherto they
have been under two very considerable disadvantages--the costliness
of the books and the want of leisure to read them. The leisure
disability still holds good, though less so now that temperance is
on the increase; but the books are to-day offered at popular prices,
and are also finding their way into public libraries. The Church can,
perhaps, depend for some time to come upon the non-interference and
even active support of the upper classes, however sceptical they
may be; but it is the proletariat which she will in future have to
deal with more and more. She is in a dilemma; her hand is forced. She
realises that discussion will cause the unsettlement of minds hitherto
unclouded by doubt, and yet matters have reached a stage when silence
is impossible. It is doubtful whether she has yet fully realised the
gravity of the task before her. I have explained how she seems to
have been deceived as to the real meaning of the apparent suspension
of hostilities during the past few years. She has also to learn how
impossible it will be for the ordinary mind to accept the unconvincing
and contradictory expositions of the Faith which are now offered to
us under the title of Christian apologetics.

§ 5. Apologetics "Found Wanting."

The time, then, has arrived when the pastor can no longer ignore or
gloze over the thoughts that are stirring the minds of the intelligent
portion of his flock. The cheap literature problem cannot be solved
by applying disparaging adjectives, such as "shallow," to writings
emanating from the pens of Darwin, Huxley, Tyndall, S. Laing, Matthew
Arnold, Sir Leslie Stephen, Renan, Haeckel, etc., easy though it be
to excite prejudice by the use of a condemnatory adjective. Books
that are still costly will some day be available at popular prices,
and increase the perplexities of the people. I refer to books of the
type of Lecky's Rise and Influence of Rationalism in Europe, Buckle's
History of Civilisation in England, Frazer's Golden Bough, Forlong's
Short Studies of the Science of Comparative Religions, Doane's Bible
Myths and their Parallels in other Religions, J. M. Robertson's
Christianity and Mythology and Pagan Christs, Spencer's Principles
of Sociology (Vol. I., Part I., giving the Data of Sociology),
Metchnikoff's The Nature of Man, Haeckel's The Evolution of Man, [25]
etc. Will not the Encyclopædia Biblica, with a title so innocent,
and with an editor and many of its contributors in Holy Orders, soon
find its way into our public libraries and be a thorn in the side of
the orthodox? Think how a book such as Nunquam's (Robert Blatchford)
God and My Neighbour must already have been read by and have affected
the convictions of thousands of the working class. And the grave doubts
of a hard-headed artisan are not in the least likely to be dispelled
by Anti-Nunquam, [26] or any of the literature so far published as a
panacea "in relief of doubt." [27] Indeed, some apologetic works are
enough in themselves to create mistrust, though the reader had not
read a single anti-Christian work! The extraordinary divergence in
the views of the authors, to say nothing of the transparency of some
of their arguments, prevents all chance of apologetics convincing any
but those already determined to be convinced. The writer in one stage
of thought absolutely contradicts a writer in another stage. Compare
Goulburn and Pusey in their awful assertions of everlasting punishment
with Allin's Universalism Asserted and Larger Hope leaflets, or the
views of a Wace regarding Evolution with the views of a Waggett. If
we confine ourselves to making comparisons only between the advanced
thinkers themselves, compare the opinions of Dr. Gore, Bishop of
Birmingham (late of Worcester), with those of Canons Henson and
Cheyne. The deplorable state of religious apologetics is becoming
notorious, and articles bearing on the subject are now appearing from
time to time in our leading magazines. [28]

In defending the Faith the advanced school of the Church now frankly
admit the difficulties of the old belief, and ask us to accept their
new interpretations of Christianity. The older school of theologians,
the school who can bring themselves neither to assert the truth of
evolution nor to give a decided opinion on the verbal inspiration of
the Bible, are unwillingly, very unwillingly, beginning to follow in
their wake. The views of the two schools being in conflict on many
vital points, it is impossible that they can ever be brought into
agreement. Yet, unless concerted measures are soon taken, confusion
will be worse confounded. To add to the perplexity of the situation,
there are also the various views of the Nonconformists to be taken into
account. Then there are the Scottish Churches, having on the one side
the law-supported minority, standing for an infallible Bible and all
the doctrines of John Calvin; and, on the other, the majority standing
for a form of Christianity which is really Calvinism with a somewhat
unequally-applied veneer of Higher Criticism. Finally there is the
Irish Roman Catholic Church still sunk in the gross superstitions of
the Dark Ages.

The advanced school represent the section which is in close touch
with modern thought, so that their new interpretations of the
Faith constitute the one and only hope of arresting the advance
of agnosticism. On the other hand, the justice of the objections
to these new interpretations is borne out by the circumstance that
many of the older school would no more think of accepting them than
they would of giving up their belief; rather than accept them they
prefer to deny the facts of science. Both sides do violence to their
reason--the enlightened in using the subtleties of their intellect
for interpretations which appear transparently false alike to the
orthodox and to the unbeliever; the obscurantist in denying established
facts. Consider for a moment what all this means. It means that the
modern sceptic has the support of the strictly orthodox when he refutes
the only explanations as yet offered to dispel his doubts. It means
that the validity of the agnostic's objections to these new-fangled
interpretations is fully borne out by the common sense of Christians
themselves, and that a denial of the facts of science and of the
results of Biblical research is the only way we can escape from
unbelief. If a puzzled truth-seeker tried to take a middle course,
he would have to believe that black and white were the same colour,
and his belief would degenerate into an exceedingly unedifying
grey. There is a large proportion of this "grey" belief just now.

I cannot too strongly reiterate that this complete divergence in the
interpretation of a revelation alleged to have been vouchsafed by God
cannot but give rise to the most intense suspicion. The very word
"apologetics" is self-condemnatory. How is it that the claims of
Christianity require all this vindication? Heresies and schisms and
the need for apologetics form the constant note of Christian history
from first to last. True there was a lull in the questionings of the
Faith; but that was during the Dark Ages, when the priests adopted
the policy of keeping the world in ignorance, and of destroying
all the evidences against Christianity that they could lay their
hands upon. If the events said to have happened really happened,
and if God wished the world to know of them, why all this mystery,
why the need for all these apologetics concerning them? Which of the
conflicting explanations are we to take as correct?

The late Bishop of Durham, Dr. Westcott, in a passage in his book,
Lessons from Work, says: "It would be easier if we might divest
ourselves of the divine prerogative of reason. It would be easier,
but would that be the life which Christ came down from heaven to show
us and place within our reach?" It is not for me to quarrel with so
emphatic a pronouncement in favour of using our reason; but such
advice cannot be reconciled with the teaching of Christ or of our
own Church--that we should receive God's word as "babes." Remember
those strange words attributed to Him: "I thank Thee, O Father, Lord
of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise
and prudent and revealed them unto babes." From this one would gather
that it was God's pleasure to hide Himself from the wise, and therefore
that the increase of agnosticism alongside the spread of knowledge
was all part of the Divine plan. The Roman Catholic Church is more
consistent. She obeys the alleged teaching of Christ in this respect
to the letter. The truth is that when Jesus spoke these words, if He
ever did speak them, the vast majority of mankind were "babes." His
disciples were "babes"; His enemies the more enlightened. He did not
foresee the advance of knowledge and the spread of education. Nor
did the Church anticipate this increase in "wisdom," or rather, I
should say, she employed every possible means to hinder it. If God's
revelation may be understood by babes, it must be very simple. How,
then, do we find it requiring all this explanation--explanation which
no ordinary adult can understand? Who could call modern theology
simple? Can we say that of our philosopher-Premier's books, A Defence
of Philosophic Doubt and The Foundations of Belief? Is it not because
the Church recognises that the masses will never understand all these
subtle explanations and pleas for a re-statement of Christianity that
she is in no hurry to impart the new ideas from the pulpit? Even the
more intellectual truthseeker is constantly recommended to trust less
to his reason, and "to come to Christ as a little child."

The objections of the more conservative to the new interpretations
of Christianity are well expressed in the solemn words of a former
Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, himself inveighed against, in his day,
as somewhat of a freethinker. "Many," writes Dean Mansell, "who would
shrink with horror from the idea of rejecting Christ altogether,
will yet speak and act as if they were at liberty to set up for
themselves an eclectic Christianity, separating the essential from the
superfluous portions of Christ's teaching, deciding for themselves how
much is permanent and necessary for all men, and how much is temporary
and designed only for a particular age and people. Yet if Christ is
indeed God manifest in the Flesh, it is surely not less impious to
attempt to improve His teaching than to reject it altogether. Nay,
in one respect it is more so, for it is to acknowledge a doctrine as
the revelation of God, and, at the same time, to proclaim that it is
inferior to the wisdom of man."

The Athanasian Creed controversy furnishes some striking examples of
both conservative and latitudinarian opinions. Dr. Pusey is related
to have said: "If the Athanasian Creed is touched, I see nothing
to do but to give up my canonry." Yet we find the present Primate,
Dr. Randall Davidson, replying to a deputation of clergymen who desired
to be relieved from the obligation of reciting this Creed: "I am in
complete sympathy with the object you have at heart." Presumably he is
in agreement with Dr. Barnes, Hulsean professor of divinity, who, when
lecturing lately at Cambridge on the Athanasian Creed, declared that
there was "no authority in Scripture for its minatory clauses." The
well-meant attempt of the Dean of Westminster to smooth down the
asperities of the Creed by singing instead of saying it, is typical of
those pitiful attempts to tide over difficulties which are now so much
in evidence. "We make," says one of the old school, "unsuitable persons
partakers of the Divine service of the Church, and then it is proposed
to alter the Divine service to suit them. Let honest Unbelievers or
Half-Believers absent themselves from the Assembly of the Faithful,
and let the Faithful worship faithfully." Yet, if this line of conduct
were put into practice, if the modern Origens were anathematised and
only those laymen admitted to Divine service who held all the articles
of the Christian faith without mental reservations of any kind, every
single advanced theologian would be degraded from his office, and the
present twenty-two per cent. who are church and chapel-goers would
be reduced to--what shall we say? Well, the churches having cultured
congregations would be almost empty. The modern spirit of toleration,
admirable as it is in many ways, assists in preventing the discovery of
the real truth of the matter. The Church is grossly deceiving herself
if she really thinks that the apparent adherence of the majority
of the well-to-do classes indicates that burning suspicions of the
Christian dogmas have been quenched by Christian apologetics.

§ 6. More Things which Confuse the Issue.

In the early part of this chapter I have alluded to the real causes
for the apparent acquiescence of the majority in the claims of the
Christian religion. Among these causes there is a somewhat complex one
requiring, special notice, for it tends to confuse the main issue, more
perhaps than any other. The Church is now appearing in an altogether
novel role. Until quite recently her concern was only for the spiritual
welfare of man, and she expected to gain her purpose by supernatural
rather than by natural means. This plan, after many centuries of
trial, has proved a terrible failure. It has not contributed either
to man's spiritual or material improvement. Now, in England, she
is emulating the thorough-paced humanitarian in her devotion to the
betterment of humanity by natural means. Never before has there been
that interest in the material condition of the people which is now
evinced by such institutions as the Church Temperance Society and
Homes for Inebriates, the Church Army, the Church Lads Brigade, the
Church Rescue Societies, Homes for Waifs and Strays, etc. The Church,
too, is now concerning herself with the better housing of the poor,
the improvement of our jail system, and other rational methods for
raising the social condition of the people and creating an environment
likely to improve the moral atmosphere. All such measures, in fact,
as have long ago been advocated by rationalists and social reformers
are now taken up vigorously by the Churches. "Better late than never,"
you will say. Quite so; but that is not the point. Far be it from
me to decry these excellent results of "modern thought"; still, the
fact remains that the issue is thereby confused, and will continue
to be thus confused for some time to come. People will only look at
what the Churches, in Protestant countries at least, are now doing,
and see in it another proof of Christianity's power for good. They
will not trouble their heads to consider why it should have taken
nearly 2,000 years before the Christian Church recognised such an
essential portion of her duties towards her poorer neighbours. [29]

Nor is it only this increase of zeal for "raising humanity out of the
gutter" which has confused the issue. Numerous are the ways in which
Christianity obtains a prestige sometimes partly deserved, sometimes
wholly undeserved. Good works belong to the former class. The
Churches of all denominations have always occupied the position
of grand almoners, and, in that they have carried out that trust
conscientiously, they have fully earned the confidence of the rich and
the gratitude of the poor. But people are liable to forget that the
huge donations given during their lifetime, and left in their wills by
charitably disposed persons, are given usually from true humanitarian
principles, and that kind hearts are to be found all over the world,
quite apart from belief or unbelief. These gifts to the needy are not,
let it be said to the credit of mankind, a mere soul-insurance, like
the donations given, and often extorted, in the Roman Catholic and
Greek Churches, for "Masses," "Indulgences," etc. All this charitable
work, for which the Church is the agent employed, is usually put down
entirely to the credit of the Church and Christianity. It does not seem
to be realised that the "Golden Rule" is far older than Christianity,
and is practised in other than Christian countries; and that the
Church, in being entrusted very largely with the dispensation of
charity, obtains credit for a service for which she is after all well
paid, and which any properly selected body of laymen would perform
quite as well, and possibly with more discrimination.

If all the good and none of the bad works performed in Christendom
are to be attributed to the working of the Christian faith, the same
argument must hold good of the Hindu or Buddhist faith, when the
people are Hindoos or Buddhists. The code of ethics attached to a
religion does, of course, make a difference; but it neither proves
that the belief is correct, nor that it is impossible to have the
ethics without the belief. Confucianism is an agnostic ethical system
which the educated classes of Japan have adopted for centuries, and
its splendid results are just now much in evidence. Only a few days
ago I received a letter from an agnostic supporter of Christianity who
said: "Look at the good that Christianity does, look at its endless
charitable organisations"; and he asked, "Could the Clarion people
do anything of this kind?" It never occurred to him, and it never
occurs to many of his way of thinking, that the "Clarion people"
have very slender funds at present; and the charitable work that
they do, though proportionately large, is not likely to come to his
notice unless he takes the trouble to inquire. The vast majority of
English people are professing Christians, and if any charitable work
is to be done agnostics give their support to it, although the agents
for it are Christians. However, I have not received a brief from the
"Clarionettes." My object is to show how the issue becomes confused,
and, if my agnostic friend is correct in considering Christianity false
and yet indispensable, the future is indeed full of alarms. What will
happen, for instance, when the knowledge of this falsehood becomes
common property? I am fully aware that my friend voices the opinion
of many fairly thoughtful Englishmen; but this is because they are in
the habit of hearing every useful advance in civilisation accredited to
Christianity:--hospitals, though they existed long before Christianity,
and only fell out of use after its introduction--the raised status
of women, though it was on the introduction of Christianity that
the status was lowered--abolition of slavery, though among the most
strenuous advocates for the abolition were such well-known freethinkers
as Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Stuart Mill, and Moncure Conway, while the
whole of Tory England shouted its approval when General Lee drew his
sword on behalf of the rights of "Old Virginia," and while Gladstone,
in his first Newark address, 1832, owned that slavery was justified
by the Bible--efforts for superseding the horrors and clumsiness of
war, though freethinkers to a man are supporters of the movement,
while Bishops from the pulpit offer up prayers for peace and in
the same breath expatiate on the ennobling effects of war upon the
race, and while the head of a mighty theocratic-autocratic Christian
Government calls the nations to a peace conference, and then takes
the first opportunity to prosecute the most unnecessary and bloody
war the world has ever known.

It is erroneous assertions such as these which tend, perhaps, more
than anything else, to confuse the simple question before us--the
truth of Christianity. They are therefore discussed at greater length
in a separate chapter devoted to popular fallacies. Meanwhile, in
the present chapter I hope I have succeeded in giving some insight
into the true nature of the present situation.


Chapter II.


§ 1. Preliminary Remarks.

In this and the following chapters I hope to show how matters stand
with reference to the more important points at issue between the
Christian apologist and the Rationalist. The truth or otherwise
of the Bible miracles being of supreme importance, I begin with an
examination of the position of apologetics with regard to them.


Professor Huxley once made the following remark: "The miracles of
the Church are child's play to the miracles I see in nature." This
has been hailed by the apologist as a satisfactory admission that
science concedes the possibility of miracles. It is continually being
quoted in apologetic works and from the pulpit, and is apparently
considered as a conclusive piece of evidence that science has nothing
to say against miracles. But, Professor Huxley went on to explain:
"On the strength of an undeniable improbability, however, we not
only have a right to demand, but are morally bound to require,
strong evidence in favour of a miracle before we even take it into
serious consideration. But when, instead of such evidence, nothing
is produced but stories originating nobody knows how or when, among
persons who could firmly believe in devils which enter pigs, I confess
that my feeling is one of astonishment that anyone should expect a
reasonable man to take such testimony seriously." [30] We never hear
of this from the pulpit! Possibly Professor Huxley would not have
been thus misrepresented--or shall we say misunderstood?--if he had
spoken of the wonders of nature, and had not used a word popularly
understood to signify that break in nature's laws which it has yet
to be proved has ever occurred, or can ever occur. The wonders of
nature take place in accordance with natural laws; miracles do not.


An obvious objection to miracles is the one often propounded
by an inquiring child, "Why do we no longer have miracles?" The
rationalist's reply, of course, is that, so soon as nature's laws were
better understood, trustworthy evidence was demanded and miracles
ceased. Paley tries to parry the question by saying: "To expect,
concerning a miracle, that it should succeed upon repetition is
to expect that which would make it cease to be a miracle; which is
contrary to its nature as such, and would totally destroy the use
and purpose for which it was wrought." [31] But, as Cotter Morison
remarks: [32] "Assuming that a miracle reveals the presence of a
supernatural power, why should its repetition destroy its miraculous
character? Above all, why should it destroy its use? If miracles are
intended to convert the stiff-necked and hard-of-heart, what more
likely way of bringing them to submission than the repetition of
miracles? And, according to Scripture, this was precisely the way in
which Pharaoh, king of Egypt, was humbled. He resisted the miracles
wrought by Moses and Aaron with stubbornness all through the first
nine plagues; but the universal slaying of the first-born broke even
his spirit.... It may suit Paley to say that repetition of miracles
would destroy their use; but he must be a luke-warm theologian who
does not at times wish from the depth of his heart that an authentic
miracle could be produced. Yet it is at this momentous crisis in
the religious affairs of the world, when the enemy is carrying one
position after another, and has all but penetrated to the citadel of
belief, that no miracles occur, that no miracles are claimed, except,
indeed, of the compromising species made at Lourdes.... When no one
doubted the possibility of the frequency of miracles they abounded,
we are told--that is, when, by reason of their number and the ready
credit accorded to them, their effect was the least startling, then
they were lavished on a believing world. Now, when they are denied and
insulted as the figments of a barbarous age; when the faith they might
support is in such jeopardy as it never was before; when a tithe of the
wonders wasted in the deserts of Sinai and the 'parts beyond Jordan'
would shake the nations with astonishment and surprise--when, in short,
the least expenditure of miracle would produce the maximum of result,
then miracles mysteriously cease. This fact, which is beyond contest,
has borne fruit, and will yet bear more."

Some pious Christians, feeling the force of arguments such as these,
contend that Christ's promises to believers do indeed apply to all
time; that supernatural manifestations have not ceased; and that,
when there is no exercise of the supernatural in the visible Church
of Christendom, it is owing to lack of faith. "Can you give me," asks
Father Ignatius, [33] "one single text in Holy Scripture to prove that
miracles and visions are to cease with the apostles? When we hear,
in all directions, of the supernatural being manifested, we need
not wonder, for we are living in a day which demands supernatural
manifestations more than any other epoch in the Christian Church."


The old argument in support of miracles and inspiration was clearly
vitiated by its circular nature, for it was to the effect that
miracles were true because asserted to be so in the Bible, which was
the inspired word of God, and that the Bible was inspired because the
miracles proved it to be so. This argument is gradually being dropped,
and I have only alluded to it to show how much importance used to
be, and, for the matter of that, still is, attached to miracles, as
proving the truth of the Bible. Butler, Paley, Mansel, Mozley, Farrar,
Westcott, Liddon, and a host of other authorities, could not conceive
that revelation could be made in any other way than by miracles,
and felt that without them Christianity would be proved false and
overthrown. Such also appears to be the opinion of the majority of
our living dignitaries. On the other hand, the minority, which we may
take to be represented by the able writers in Contentio Veritatis
and elsewhere, maintain that "the time is past when Christianity
could be presented as a revelation attested by miracles.... We must
accept Christianity, not on the ground of the miracles, but in spite
of them.... There has been no special intervention of the Divine Will
contrary to the natural order of things." That is, by ruling miracles
to be out of court, the new school are able to reconcile the facts of
science with the Christian faith. "Our belief in Jesus Christ must be
based upon moral conviction; not upon physical wonder." [34] The old
school, on the other hand, consider Christianity to be untrue without
miracles. "The miraculous element," they say, "cannot be weeded out of
the Gospel narratives without altogether impugning the historical value
of these documents." [35] They are able to maintain this position,
and yet remain believers, by disallowing the facts of science. It is
an extraordinary state of affairs, and who can wonder that many of
the laity who know of these things are meanwhile fast lapsing into
agnosticism? As a matter of fact, no bishop, no clerk in Holy Orders,
can honestly retain his preferment unless he believes in miracles. He
would have to follow the example of the late Sir Leslie Stephen,
and resign.

§ 2. Miracle Apologetics.

The question arises, "How, then, do the majority of our spiritual
guides regard the accounts of miracles in the Bible?" Broadly
speaking, miracles are divided by them into three classes--(1)
mythical, but containing spiritual truths; (2) explicable naturally;
(3) historical and vital. Should their views be of a very advanced
type, all the miracles will be relegated to the first two classes. If
advanced, but not quite so much advanced, the fundamental miracles
of the Incarnation, Resurrection, and Ascension will be taken into
the third class; the miracles deemed to be not indispensable, or
not serving a useful purpose, being explained away. Continuing to
descend the scale of enlightenment, more and more miracles will
find their way into the third class, until no miracles alleged to
have been performed by Christ himself will be discredited--except,
perhaps, those that appear particularly incredible or useless, such
as sending devils into swine, turning water into wine, or withering a
fig tree. Regarding the miracles alleged to have been performed by the
Apostles we hear very little. Concerning the Old Testament miracles,
however, opinions are freely expressed, and range between those of
the Broad Church, who consider the miracles all belong to the first
two classes, and those of the strictly orthodox, who maintain all
the miraculous events to be facts, on the principle that, whether
the whale swallowed Jonah or Jonah swallowed the whale, they must be
true because they are related in the Holy Scriptures--the Scriptures
that were accepted as historical by their Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ. People who are the children of Christian parents have been
brought up from childhood to a literal acceptance of the miracles, and
now they are not only asked to give up the convictions so sedulously
implanted while their minds were most receptive, but to choose between
the conflicting views of the expounders of God's word.

Let us consider some examples of the latest interpretations, and see if
they appeal to our hearts and minds. "In John v. (the authenticity of
the passage is of no moment to this argument) we read that the stirring
of the waters and the consequent healing virtue was attributed to the
presence of an angel. The modern would speak of the pool as a medicinal
spring. The fact is the same. The mode of description is different. The
ancient knew little of what are called natural causes." [36] The
explanation is sensible enough; but, while incidentally showing that
the Evangelists were just as credulous and ignorant as other people
of their times, it is a dangerous concession. For directly a natural
explanation of this kind is allowed in one case, it must also be
allowed as possible in another, and thus the fundamental miracles might
be shorn of all that renders them of any value for substantiating our
faith. Regarding the particular explanation under consideration, one
may be permitted to ask, How is it the water has lost its medicinal
qualities? Also, How is it the ancient's belief is still foisted on
the credulous modern? When visiting the traditional Pool of Bethesda,
now in the custody of the Greek Church, I saw documents exposed in
the gateway giving the words from the fifth chapter of St. John in
fifty-six different languages!

The healing miracles performed by Jesus are now frequently attributed
to the use of the same power as that by which faith-cures are effected
at the present time--a power upon which the science of psychology
is shedding a new light, and which mental therapeutics will one day
place at the disposal of the human race. Apart from this disappointing
alteration in the character of the "mighty works" which were supposed
to betoken the divinity of Christ, is there not something abhorrent in
the thought that He should take advantage of a secret knowledge of the
powers of nature, in order to impose upon the credulity of the age in
which He lived, and thus secure the worship of His disciples? At least,
if we are Christians, let us assume that Christ, as man, believed He
was using supernatural powers, and that His disciples, if they had
faith enough, could remove mountains, just as He undoubtedly believed,
according to such an eminent authority as Dr. Sanday, that He really
was casting out devils when He cured "the epileptic," etc. It is
certainly difficult to understand this ignorance of the Son of God;
but, when apologists attempt to extricate Christian dogmas from the
quagmire of doubt by such methods, they only succeed in causing them
to disappear into it beyond all hope of recovery.

As I have alluded to the subject of Christ's belief in
"devil-possession," I should mention here that there are still many
cultured ecclesiastics, especially among those who still believe that
there is such a personage as the Devil, who argue that there was such
a malady as devil-possession in those days. Some even hold that it
still exists. On the other hand, the Rev. David Smith, in his book,
The Days of His Flesh, which professes to bring the Gospels "up to
date," holds that Jesus, "after his wont, fell in with the delusion,"
and that in the case in which the Gadarene swine play so important
a part, He, "like a wise physician, humanised the madman's fancy,
and feigned acquiescence in his lunatic craze." Exorcism, it may be
remarked, has been practised, in all times, wherever a belief has
existed in literal demoniacal possession. In the Latin and Greek
Churches it is used in the baptism of both adults and infants, in
the consecration of water, salt, oil, etc., and in specific cases
of individuals supposed to be possessed by evil spirits. Exorcism
in baptism is still retained also in some Lutheran Churches. In
Jerusalem, at the present time, there are three dissenting sects,
whose ministers practise the exorcism of spirits.

Opinions differ widely as to whether certain miracles actually
occurred, or whether they admit of a natural explanation. Take the
miracle of "the Feeding of the Five Thousand." The school, of which the
Bishop of Birmingham, late of Worcester, and the learned Dr. Sanday are
the mouthpieces, consider that, "whatever may have actually occurred,
a nineteenth-century observer would have given, if he had been present,
a different account from that which has come down to us." On the other
hand, the Bishop of London believes this miracle to have occurred
"because of the very humble, unimaginative [?], and truthful men who
reported it." [37] Could any two views be more diametrically opposite?

Obviously, as has already been pointed out, destructive admissions
concerning any one of the miracles tend to invalidate the truth of all
the rest; and, therefore, we find that apologists of a less advanced
stamp are still inclined to the view that the miracles connected
with the life of Christ are miracles pure and simple. Godet, in
his Defence of the Christian Faith, explains that "It will become
easy to understand why the prodigies which signalised the advent of
Jesus Christ upon earth do not occur in our day.... The appearance
of the perfectly Holy Man was so trenchant a break in the life of
humanity up to that moment that from the shock it produced there
resulted consequences which have not repeated themselves at any
other period.... One condition was requisite--viz., that there should
exist a Man fit to be associated with the exercise of the Creative
Omnipotence." Many doubters may be prepared to admit the necessity
of miracles as explained by the learned Professor; but they contend
that, up to the present time, there is no instance of a miracle having
been proved, not even the alleged sinlessness of Jesus Christ, and
they ask why, if God graciously furnished proofs to one generation,
He did not, in His infinite wisdom, ordain that these proofs should
be established for all time, beyond all possibility of cavil?

Passing on to the miracles of the Old Testament, we often find
that those who still maintain that only the first chapters of the
Bible are legendary will adopt a variation of the second class of
interpretation--they will say that the events were of an ordinary
character, but occurred in answer to prayer. Joshua is for them an
historical character. However, Joshua x. 12-14 must not be taken
literally, but allowance should be made for poetical licence. Joshua,
it is explained, never really committed himself to the extent of
commanding the sun and the moon to stand still, but only "besought
God that the black clouds of the storm driving up the pass from
the sea might not be allowed to blot out the sun and bring night
prematurely before his victory was complete." [38] This prayer,
be it remembered, was for the sake of a work of butchery which God
was supposed to have sanctioned! Besides, as the sun is said to have
obeyed Joshua, and, further, it is said that "there was no day like
that before it or after it," at least we are to infer that something
very unusual happened at Joshua's request. The explanation we meet
with in what are considered by some to be the "best" apologetics is
that the language used is purely figurative, just as one might say,
"I hope the sun won't set too soon," or "We never had such a day."

Similarly there is the north-east wind theory as a possible explanation
of what might have happened, if the "crossing of the Red Sea" ever
took place, and if Moses be not as mythical as the rod with which he
divided the waters.

Perhaps the most unsatisfactory explanation of all is that regarding
the rainbow. It is agreed, there being no other alternative, that
"it is not meant that the rainbow appeared for the first time to
Noah [another purely legendary character] after the Flood [although
this is certainly what the Bible leads one to suppose], but that it
was adopted then as a visible sign of God's covenant, as water is
adopted for a somewhat similar covenant in the New Testament." [39]
It is now known for a fact that, if there are any historical data
for the story, the Flood could only have been local; but let that
pass. Has the rainbow-covenant prevented millions of people perishing
since then in many a mighty flood? Looking at God's promise as a
token of His pity for suffering humanity, are not deaths occurring
every moment, accompanied by agony so prolonged and supreme that,
compared with them, a death by drowning would be a happy release? If
Jews and Christians still really believe in this story, how is it
that the rainbow attracts not the slightest devout attention? I
have never yet heard this beautiful spectacle alluded to with any
particular reverence. The reason is obvious. We know that the bow
consists of all the prismatic colours produced in the atmosphere by
the refraction and reflection of the sun's light from the rain drops,
and no one regards the Bible story seriously. Yet our divines try to
save the credit of the Bible by interpretations which are obviously
"catching at straws." Such methods are as harmful as they are pitiful.

In all these examples the explanations offered to us seem to come to
this--the phenomena were purely natural from start to finish, only
they occurred opportunely and were afterwards poetically embellished;
or they contain a spiritual meaning. Perhaps the most extraordinary
argument ever brought forward concerning the "sun standing still"
is that urged by the learned Bishop Westcott in his Gospel of the
Resurrection. He says (pp. 38-9): "It would be positively immoral
for us now to pray that the tides or the sun should not rise on a
particular day; but, as long as the idea of the physical law which
ruled them was unformed or indistinct, the prayer would have been
reasonable, and (may we not suppose?) the fulfilment also." It is
difficult to believe that these can really be the words of one of the
Church's greatest scholars. To what extent will not bias influence
the brain to use its powers perversely? It is far-fetched arguments of
this kind that increase rather than dispel doubt in the normal mind,
and especially when they are brought forward in all seriousness by
the very pillars of the Church. We are sometimes asked to banish our
doubts and "craving for intellectualism," as it is called, and "to come
to Christ as little children and in Him to find rest." Certainly it
is only by letting our minds sink to the level of a little child's,
or, what is the same thing, to the level of a primeval man's, that
we could bring ourselves to accept such childish nonsense. A child
asks for the moon, but does not know the physical impossibility of
obtaining his desire. His prayer is therefore reasonable, and (may
we not suppose?) the fulfilment also. This unconscious trifling with
the truth--for in reality it is nothing else--reminds me of a passage
in Dr. Smith's orthodox, but somewhat out of date, Dictionary of the
Bible, where an attempt is made to reconcile the Mosaic narrative of
Creation with the discoveries of modern science. It runs as follows:
"The very act of creation must have been the introducing of laws;
but, when the work was finished, those laws may have suffered some
modification." [40]

We have seen that, while one section of apologists contend that
belief in the miraculous is essential, other advocates of Christianity
try to get rid of all difficulties by suggesting that such words as
"miracles" and "supernatural" ought not to be used. In a paper on
"The Effect of Science upon Christianity," which he has contributed
to the Christian Commonwealth, the Rev. R. F. Horton, M.A., D.D.,
affirms that "the word 'supernatural' is ill-chosen," and he adds that
"it is unknown in the New Testament, and introduces ideas which are
alien to those of Christ." The word "miracles," [41] he holds, is
equally unfortunate, and represents a notion which is not contained
in the New Testament terms "signs" and "mighty works." If this be
not word-spinning, then what is? Does it matter whether we call the
raising of Lazarus a "miracle" or a "sign"? Is the miraculous feeding
of the multitudes rendered more credible if we call it a natural
instead of a supernatural occurrence? Is not the whole point of the
sign lost, too, if it be no longer supernatural--if it becomes a sort
of juggling feat? Dr. Horton leaves us in no doubt as to the object
of his play upon words. He aims at disposing of the difficulties
connected with Christian miracles by affirming that everything in
nature is miraculous. He observes: "There is no miracle in the New
Testament so amazing as the fact that from protoplasm has developed
the spiritual life of the saint." He is voicing one of the latest
pleas of the "advanced" apologists--a plea which is transparently
vain and futile. Development from protoplasm, like all the other
wonders of the universe, takes place in accordance with natural
laws more or less perfectly understood; and these things have no
sort of connection with the "signs" and "mighty works" of the New
Testament. Miracles are rejected not because they are amazing,
but because they are contradictory to experience and at variance
with the laws of nature. So far the scientist considers the "reign
of law" to be an established scientific fact, and he is naturally
loth to conclude, without the strongest evidence, that, after all,
he has been deceived. Much less would he come to such a conclusion
when there is not even a particle of trustworthy evidence. There is
the significant circumstance, too, that the laws now discovered were
unknown at the time of the alleged performance of miracles, and that
the belief in miracles, and in the supposed continuance of miracles,
varies in inverse proportion to knowledge.

§ 3. The Fundamental Miracles.

The above samples of apologetics fairly represent the various ways in
which miracles are now explained. Even if the reasoning were sound,
it would hardly serve to strengthen the arguments for those miracles
which cannot and must not be explained away--the miracles on which are
based the central doctrines of the Christian Faith. Christianity stands
or falls according as the Resurrection and Ascension are facts or
not. The Rationalist's criticisms have been presented in many articles
and books, but perhaps nowhere more clearly and forcibly than in the
well-known work, Supernatural Religion; and it is worthy of note that
these criticisms have been further strengthened by the latest "Higher
Criticism," as set forth in the articles on the Resurrection and
Ascension narratives in the Encyclopædia Biblica. I have specially
referred to Supernatural Religion, because this book created a
considerable stir in theological circles when it first appeared,
some years ago, and also because its arguments are popularly supposed
to have been completely demolished by Bishop Lightfoot in his Essays
on the Work Called "Supernatural Religion." But--and here is a good
instance of the ease with which the laity can be deceived--if anyone
will take the trouble only to glance at these two works, he will find,
to his astonishment, that the whole of the overwhelmingly important
portion of the book under review, such as the chapters on miracles,
on the Resurrection, on the Incarnation, and on the Ascension, has
received no attention! Besides, there is A Reply to Dr. Lightfoot's
Essays [42] which completely demolishes the Bishop's arguments.


Advanced modern criticism shows that the Resurrection can no longer
be regarded as a historical fact, the evidence being unreliable. This
is the sober opinion of professors of theology formed on the results
of the most careful research, and with no preconceived opinion as
to its scientific impossibility. What have the apologists to say to
this? While the obvious discrepancies and deficiencies in the accounts
of the Resurrection are left practically unexplained, the old argument
from the "empty tomb" [43] is being discarded as worthless by the best
scholars. Again, the new science of psychology robs "the appearances,"
supposing that they ever occurred, of any meaning that could be
construed into a proof of the Resurrection. Only one argument of any
account is left, and on this the apologist chiefly pins his faith,
more than on anything else. A certain contemporary of Christ wrote
some letters in which he shows a firm belief in the Resurrection: his
name was Paul. The evidence of this one man is considered sufficient
to substantiate a miracle, which is contrary to all human experience,
and upon the truth of which depend the Christian Faith and our hope
of immortality! Moreover, St. Paul was not present himself on any of
the occasions of the alleged appearances; and, except with regard to
his own particular "religious experience," his evidence is therefore
hearsay. The statement that Jesus was seen by 500 brethren at once is
of little value, and St. Paul omits to mention what steps he took to
ascertain the accuracy of his information--who the individuals were,
what the various impressions made upon them were, etc. The appearance
to 500 brethren is not mentioned in any of the Gospels. That St. Paul
heard such a report does not prove that the report was true, or, if
true, that the 500 had clear and unmistakable evidence of Christ's

There are critics who could not accept the evidence of St. Paul, for
the simple reason that they conclude that we possess no Epistles of
St. Paul; that the writings which bear his name are pseudepigrapha,
containing seemingly historical data from the life and labours of the
Apostle borrowed from Acts of Paul--a work containing, so far as is
known to us, both truth and fiction. [44] Less advanced criticism
lays down the broad thesis that all the Pauline epistles are real
letters written by him, but that "Paul, who reckoned the future of this
present world not by millennia or centuries, but by a few short years,
had not the faintest surmise of the part his letters were destined
to play in the providential ordering of the world." [45]

Accepting the genuineness of the Epistles, and therefore of the passage
in 1 Cor. xv. 3-8, let us pause and think over the chief features
of the argument. In the first place, it seems to me that the fact of
St. Paul having been a contemporary of the Messiah really only adds to
our perplexities. When there were so many who were eye-witnesses of
His life, why should God single out one who was not thus favoured as
His chief witness for all posterity? He was living at the same time
and in the same country as Christ, and yet never knew Him. Surely
it stands to reason that an eye-witness is of more value than a mere
visionary who wrote letters revealing a remarkable ignorance of the
greater part of the narrative of the Gospels, and indeed of the whole
body of teachings there ascribed to Jesus. That St. Paul would believe
in the Resurrection before he took up the Christian cause goes without
saying; but that he believed everything he heard from the followers
of Christ, and everything he thought he heard when in a trance, does
not, I fear, amount to much in the way of evidence--and especially so
when we know that this was an age when the resurrection of any great
prophet was taken to be a normal event. How often, I wonder, in the
world's history have not the disciples of great teachers attributed
miraculous powers to their beloved master, even when with them alive,
and still further magnified these powers after his death? How often has
it not occurred that these same stories have been further exaggerated
in the course of their transmission to succeeding generations? Nothing
is more conceivable than that the Bible story may spuriously embellish
the real life of Jesus as much as the mythical accounts of Buddha, for
instance, spuriously embellish the real life of Prince Siddârtha. Of
all old-world legends, the death and resurrection of a virgin-born
or in some way divinely-born Saviour was the most widespread. Saul,
the Pharisee, would have been imbued with this prevalent notion,
and so could never get away from the thought that some kind of
propitiation had to be made for the sins of men. Time after time
a terrible suspicion must have crossed his mind--what if he were
committing a heinous crime in persecuting the Christians? What if,
after all, the Crucified One were the real Saviour of mankind? Doubts
such as these may well have deeply agitated him. The living figure so
often described to him by the Christians must have stood out before
him. On his own testimony, as well as that of the Acts, he was prone to
visions and other ecstatic conditions (2 Cor. xii. 1-4; 1 Cor. xiv. 18;
Acts ix. 12, xvi. 9, xxii. 17, xxvii. 23). What more natural than that
after his "religious experience" near Damascus he should be convinced
that he had been specially favoured by an interview with the Saviour?

So many "spiritual experiences" of a like nature are on record
that it is difficult to know which is the best to select for
comparison. Professor Huxley, in his essay on "The Value of Witness to
the Miraculous," takes the cases of Eginhard (born about A.D. 770), who
wrote The History of the Translation of the Blessed Martyrs of Christ,
S.S. Marcellinus and Petrus; and George Fox, who, about the year 1647,
heard voices and saw visions which assured him that "there is a living
God who made all things." Perhaps the case of Emanuel Swedenborg [46]
may be worth a moment's consideration. He was the son of a bishop,
and was carefully educated. Endowed with unusual intellectual powers
and an iron constitution, he acquired vast stores of learning. From
early childhood he evinced a serious turn of mind, combined with a
remarkable tendency to indulge in religious speculations. Eventually
he received an extraordinary "call" in the shape of a vision. This
converted the scientific inquirer into a supernatural prophet. He was
now the mouthpiece of God. "The Lord Himself hath called me, who was
graciously pleased to manifest Himself to me, His unworthy servant,
in a personal experience in the year 1745." "I have never," he says in
his work on True Christian Religion, "received anything appertaining
to the doctrines of that Church from any angel, but from the Lord
alone, while I was reading the Word." Swedenborg was a man who won
the respect, confidence, and love of all who came in contact with
him. He had a peculiarly abstract metaphysical character of mind,
and was firmly convinced that he had "conversed with spirits" and
"seen the Lord." So was Martin Luther perfectly convinced that he had
seen the Devil when he threw his ink-pot at him. So was the peasant
girl of Lourdes convinced that she had seen the Virgin Mary. So is
Evan Roberts convinced that he has seen his Saviour. So have many good
Christians from time to time been convinced that they have seen Christ,
the Virgin Mary, saints, and angels. Father Ignatius, the Evangelist
monk, may be, as I have heard him called, an emotional wreck; but he
is also a most earnest Christian, and he is quite sure that he has seen
the Virgin Mary. [47] John Wesley, whose followers throughout the world
to-day number 30,000,000, was also a visionary. Thousands and thousands
of heathens as well as Christians have had visions of their saviours;
but such experiences could scarcely be brought forward seriously as a
proof of the existence of the divinities believed to have been seen,
or of their ascension after a life upon earth. Visual and auditory
hallucinations are now the subject of a searching inquiry by the
Society for Psychical Research, and, willing as some of its members
are to explain metapsychical phenomena by the simple theory of the
spiritists, the growing opinion is that these apparitions and voices
are purely hallucinatory and due to causes which are not extra-human.

As Mr. Lowes Dickinson pertinently remarks when speaking of
"Conversions" in his article on Revelations, in the Independent Review:
"The important question is whether the belief of the recipient in the
evidential value of the experience is justified; and I think that a
little consideration will show that it is not so, for it is noticeable
that the truth supposed to be revealed in the moment of conversion
is commonly, if not invariably, the reflection of the doctrine or
theory with which the subject, whether or no he has accepted it, has
hitherto been most familiar. I have never heard, for example, of a
case in which a Mohammedan or a Hindoo, without having ever heard of
Christianity, has had a revelation of Christian truth. Conversion,
in fact, it would seem, is not the communication of a new truth;
it is the presentation of ideas already familiar in such a way that
they are accompanied by an irresistible certainty that they are
true.... A religious revelation cannot be distinguished from what
would be admitted to be the hallucinations of disease. A man may be
convinced, with equal assurance, that he is a poached egg or a saint;
that he has a mission to assassinate the king or redeem the world;
that he is eternally damned or eternally saved; that he has had a
vision of the Virgin Mary or a vision of Nirvana."

Another argument for considering the Resurrection as an historical
fact is that brought forward by the Rev. D. S. Margoliouth. The
learned Professor argues in the Expositor that the Gospel narrative is
located within historic times. So are the narratives of King Arthur
(the Celtic Messiah), or William Tell, or Robin Hood; but historians
are silent about all these narratives, sacred and profane alike. There
was probably a real Arthur, however different from the hero of the
trouvères, and a real Robin Hood, however now enlarged and disguised
by the accretion of legend. Similarly there was a real Jesus Christ;
but the marvellous event of His resurrection is unrecorded by any of
the celebrated historians of the period.

The final argument is that "the Resurrection is, so to speak, of a
piece with the whole character and the claims of Christ.... Even had we
no Testament at all, we should be obliged to postulate something very
much like either the Resurrection or the belief in the Resurrection in
order to account for Christianity." No one disputes, I should think,
this necessity for the Resurrection, if we are to remain Christians;
but it is of the fact of the Resurrection that unfortunate doubters
wish to be assured. The Bishop of Ripon argues that the miraculous
accessories connected with the birth and resurrection of Jesus
Christ find a place only in the group of secondary witnesses, and
adds significantly: "Our belief in Jesus Christ must be based upon
moral conviction, not upon physical wonder." The meaning of this, in
plain English, is clear enough, and I leave it for the honest-minded
reader to decide whether this is a satisfactory foundation for the
Christian dogmas. Is this what he was taught, or what his children are
now being taught? Will it suffice? Can he remain a Christian? Will
his children, when they grow up and begin to think for themselves,
remain Christians? The Dean of Westminster writes to the Archbishop
of Canterbury: "Students of natural science find themselves left
with St. Luke as the strongest historical evidence within the New
Testament." Now, the author of St. Luke is also the author of the
Acts, and his propensity for miraculous decoration is by no means
reassuring. Besides, he was not an eye-witness. Then, too, we have
Canon Henson, in the Hibbert Journal for April, 1904, informing us that
"Any candid Christian reading through the accounts of the New Testament
evidences ... cannot escape the inference that the evidence for the
quasi-historical statements of the Creed is of a highly complicated,
dubious, and even contradictory character." He then asks us: "Is an
honest belief in the Resurrection really inconsistent with a reverent
agnosticism as to the historical circumstances out of which in the
first instance that belief arose?" The reply of an ordinary candid
layman is, I think, sufficiently obvious. Similarly, Abbé Loisy,
the champion of advanced theology in the Roman Catholic Church,
considers the Resurrection to be a spiritual fact only, and not a
fact of the historical order. "La Résurrection n'est pas proprement
un fait d'ordre historique." The powerful article in the Encyclopædia
Biblica also leads us to the same conclusion.

Those who believe in the fact of the Resurrection, and have not Canon
Henson's reverent agnosticism concerning the event, must believe also
in all the facts related in connection with it, including the account
of Jesus having eaten and having been touched, and of his bodily ascent
up into the clouds. If any one portion of the story be considered
incredible or untrustworthy, the whole collapses. It may be useful,
therefore, to put to ourselves some questions concerning any one of the
many marvellous accessories of the Resurrection. How few of us have
ever had our belief tested by searching questions such as a cultured
heathen would put if we tried to convert him? For instance, what would
you reply if you were asked by an intelligent native of India, China,
or Japan: "Who were the saints of whom Matthew speaks as having risen
from their graves? To whom did they appear? And how was it that their
graves were opened as Jesus died, while their bodies did not come out
till after His Resurrection? What also became of them afterwards?" To
this the only candid reply possible would be: "I am unable to give
you any information on this subject. Their not appearing till after
Jesus rose from death would seem to have been introduced so as not to
give them the precedence over Him in the exercise of the privilege
of resurrection. He is said to be 'the first that should rise from
the dead' (Acts xxvi. 23), 'the first fruits of them that slept'
(1 Cor. xv. 20), 'the first-born from the dead' (Col. i. 18)." This,
however, would hardly satisfy your questioner, who would reply:
"Your inability to give me this information excites my suspicions,
and your further statements seem to me to be very clumsy. To mark and
enhance the death of the Messiah, nature is said to be convulsed, and
graves thrown open; but the exit of the saints who were to come out
of them is restrained till He should first have made His egress from
the tomb three days later. And, after all, He had no such precedence
in resurrection, for several persons are said to have been raised
from the dead by the prophets of old and by Himself; two passed into
heaven without ever being in their graves, and one of them--namely,
Elias--appeared to Him with Moses in risen life at the time of His
transfiguration. May I ask, Are the disturbances of nature which are
said to have occurred at the crucifixion--namely, the preternatural
darkness for three hours and the earthquake--mentioned by historians
of the time?" You would have to confess, "They are not." Thus you
would fail to convert your heathen interlocutor, whose final fling
at you would be: "That seems to demonstrate that nothing of the kind
could really have occurred. Moreover, had there been such phenomena,
the other evangelists would not have failed to support their position
with these divine manifestations."


If apologetics dealing with the Resurrection are unconvincing,
still more so are those regarding the Ascension. There is little
or no attempt to explain the meagreness of the Gospel narratives,
how all mention of it is omitted in the Gospels of St. Matthew and
St. John; and one vague sentence is all we are given in St. Mark
and St. Luke--sentences which, according to the Higher Critics, were
never penned by these persons. In "The Acts" the "St. Luke" writer
furnishes the detail that "a cloud received him out of their sight,"
and that, "as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white
apparel, which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up
into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven,
shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." In
these days "ascending up" has no meaning for us. Candidly, if the
writer had had our astronomical knowledge, would these words ever
have been written? Certainly they would not. Then is the Ascension a
fact or is it not? How is it possible that St. Matthew and St. John
could have remained silent regarding such an event if they had really
witnessed it? Or granting, in the case of the writer of "St. John,"
that he was not St. John the Apostle, though he distinctly says he
was, it is still astounding that he should have omitted to record
such important evidence of Christ's divinity, if it was an accepted
fact at the time he wrote.

Archdeacon Wilson, in a paper read at the Diocesan Conference at
Manchester, October 22nd, 1903, asks: "What do we mean in our Creed
when we say: 'He came down from heaven'? We explain away 'down,' we
explain away 'heaven' in the sense in which the word was originally
used. What do we mean by 'descended into Hell'? by 'Sitteth on the
right hand of God'?... Spiritual truths are spiritually discerned,
and do not admit of final intellectual definitions. We can only
avert the rejection of theology by recognising its limitations." Is
it possible for the bulk of humanity, I ask, to possess the requisite
spiritual discernment? Is it not far more likely that, with the spread
of education, they will finally reject theology?

The Rev. David Smith, in his book, The Days of His Flesh, [48]
dismisses the Ascension with the words: "When Jesus parted from
the eleven on Olivet, He did not forsake the earth and migrate to a
distant Heaven. He ceased to manifest Himself; but He is here at this
hour no otherwise than during those forty days." One can but wonder
how Ascension Day is kept in Mr. Smith's church, and how he brings
himself to repeat the Apostles' Creed.

Leaving aside the thoroughly unreliable nature of the Bible accounts
of the Ascension, consider how easy it is for the superstitious,
through optical illusions or subjective visions (or whatever name
it may please the neologist to give to these "experiences"), to be
honestly convinced of the occurrence of a supernatural event, and to
take care that it should lose nothing of its marvellous character in
the telling. Only the other day the good people of Sudja saw a mighty
iris-coloured cross appear over the cathedral during divine service,
and regarded the phenomenon as a sign of heaven's resolve to bestow
victory upon Christian Russia. This "miracle" was witnessed by all
the notabilities of the city, who forwarded a description to General
Kuropatkin in a document duly attested with their signatures. For the
stupendous and absurdly impossible miracle of the Ascension we have not
even got a satisfactory description, much less an attested document. Is
it not time that we should ask ourselves the plain question, Do we
really believe that an extraordinary levitation occurred, and that
Jesus Christ was seen to be rising in the air until some passing
clouds concealed Him from view? If we do not so believe, why do we
say we do when we repeat the Creed? Why do we pretend we do when we
sit in church and listen to the account of the Ascension, and perhaps
to a sermon on it? Why do we allow our friends to think that we do
so believe? Why is Ascension Day one of our Holy Days? And, finally,
why do we teach, or allow others to teach, our children what we know
to be untrue? Surely these are serious questions to ask ourselves.


There remains the miracle of the Virgin-birth. That this is under
dispute among Christian theologians is notorious, and the controversy
has but served to show with ever-increasing clearness how untrustworthy
is the evidence for this miracle. Christian Biblical experts inform us
that it belongs to the latest strata of the New Testament tradition,
and that no trace of the story can be found before 120 A.D. In
other words, that it is an obvious interpolation in St. Matthew and
St. Luke. Adolf Harnack, the learned Professor of Church History
in the University of Berlin, is looked upon, even by the orthodox,
as one of our greatest living Biblical scholars, and we learn from
him that we must disregard the history of Jesus' birth given in these
two Gospels; for not only is it untrustworthy, but "the evangelists
themselves never refer to it, nor make Jesus Himself refer to His
antecedents. On the contrary, they tell us that Jesus' mother and
His brethren were completely surprised at His coming forward, and did
not know what to make of it. Paul, too, is silent; so that we can be
sure that the oldest tradition knew nothing of any stories of Jesus'
birth." [49]

"Moral fitness" appears to be the only argument that we can fall
back upon, and this is now the apologists' last stronghold. If they
belong to the Church of England, they should remember that it was this
identical line of reasoning that gave rise to the "pious opinion" that
the Mother of Christ had herself been miraculously preserved from all
taint of original sin from the first moment of her conception in the
womb of her mother. As Bernard of Clairvaux vigorously argued (in 1140
A.D.): "On the same principle you would be obliged to hold that the
conception of her ancestors, in an ascending line, was also a holy one,
since otherwise she would not have descended from them worthily." Yet,
in spite of the absurdity, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception
was formally defined, as a dogma binding on the acceptance of all the
faithful, by the bull Ineffabilis Deus (December 8th, 1854). Certainly
there is a moral fitness in the Virgin-birth of the Son of God, and it
is also fit that His mother should have been immaculately conceived;
and those who hold to the one doctrine may well hold to the other.

Some apologists appear almost in despair of a continuance of belief
in this dogma. The learned Dr. Sanday says we ought to regard the
Virgin-birth "as one of those hidden mysteries which, whether or not
God wills that we should believe them now, He has, at all events,
willed that men should believe in times past." Is not this tantamount
to giving up belief in the Virgin-birth?


Because God once willed that men should have all kinds of absurd
superstitions, and now wills that they should acknowledge their
absurdity, are we, as Dr. Sanday appears to recommend, to keep up
the pretence of believing in them on the ground that they are hidden
mysteries? Surely not; but, speaking of mysteries, there is one which
ought to be cleared, or at least receive a much fuller investigation
than it has yet received at the hands of the Church. I refer to
the fact that, ages before the Christian era, certain miracles were
believed to have taken place, and that these were of precisely the
same nature as those recorded in the Bible. For instance, numerous
saviours were believed to have been born of virgins, to have died
for the sins of mankind, to have risen again from the dead, and
to have ascended into heaven. Thus not only are the Bible miracles
scientifically impossible; not only are they unsupported by anything
approaching adequate evidence; not only do the specious explanations
of apologists serve but to confirm our scepticism concerning them;
but we find that they are not even original--that they form part of
ancient superstitions. That these fresh grounds for suspecting the
truth of Christianity are of the gravest character will be shown in
the chapter on Comparative Mythology.


Chapter III.


§ 1. Clashing Views on Bible Criticism.

Such, then, is an outline of the state of apologetics on the subject of
Miracles in general, and of those connected with the central doctrines
of the Church in particular. Nothing could be more unsatisfactory,
nothing more calculated to arouse suspicion of the Faith; and now,
if we turn our attention to the "Higher Criticism," and to the
apologetics it has called forth, we shall find these suspicions still
further strengthened. On the one hand a considerable proportion of
these criticisms are accepted by the more enlightened divines, and,
on the other hand, those who refuse to accept any of them urge that
they undermine Christianity.

The Dean of Canterbury, Dr. Wace, is one of the latter class. Speaking
at a men's service (at St. Mary Bredin's Church, Canterbury, on
December 4th, 1904), he justly twits the critics for describing
a considerable part of the Bible, and particularly the early
part, as "not historical," when "what they mean is that it is not
true." No subtle theories are required to support Dr. Wace's belief
in Christianity, for even the first chapter of Genesis is, in his
opinion, a "substantially accurate" account of "that which happened
on earth before there were any men upon it," and "is the best proof
that the Bible proceeded from God." He remains among the dwindling
number of those who, in these days of Christian storm and stress,
still cling to the old ideas about the Bible. His reasons for doing so
are apparently similar to those given by "Roger" in a little pamphlet
entitled Roger's Reasons (by John Urquhart), where it is sought to
reconcile the Bible and Science at the expense of accuracy, logic,
and common sense. For the obscurantist, belief is made easy, and the
apologies for the Faith can be comparatively straightforward. For the
"enlightened" the conditions are reversed.

An example of the advanced views of a Church of England divine, and
of the objections to these views of a strictly orthodox Churchman,
may prove instructive. Reviewing the Bishop of Winchester's book,
On Holy Scripture and Criticism, the Church Times (of February 10th,
1905) pertinently observes: "Attacks upon the Gospel narratives of the
Virgin Birth and the Resurrection, made with such persistence from
within the Church, are ugly developments which were not anticipated
in 1890. Yet, strange to say, there is no recognition of the new
situation in the Bishop of Winchester's book."

This silence regarding points especially requiring explanation is,
I fear, a common feature in religious apologetics. Look again at
the reviewer's next remark: "The Bishop forgets that the truth of
the message is intimately connected with the authenticity of the
record, and a critical theory which assails the one assails the
other." Here, then, we have an elementary truth frankly recognised;
and, in plain English, it means that, if the Bishop's criticisms be
true, Christianity is untrue. Entering into more detail, the writer
goes on to say: "For example, the Bible record of the Fall and the
truth of our Lord's 'atoning death on the Cross' are closely connected
with each other. Modern criticism discards the former as a myth, and
indications abound on every side that the denial of the Fall leads
to a denial of the Atonement. It is not too much to say that the
new method of interpreting the Bible has helped to overthrow belief
in Christ as a Divine Redeemer. His redemptive work and mediatorial
office have been thrust into the background."

The situation could not be put more lucidly. There is no hair-splitting
or glozing here. The reviewer characterises this silence on crucial
points as "grave omissions," and he might have added that such
omissions are calculated to arouse suspicions of the Faith. He
continues: "Again the Bishop says:--

    Think of the use made of the Hebrew Scriptures by the Apostles in
    the Acts, or by St. Paul in his Epistles. It is ever the spiritual
    and moral lesson.

It is by no means 'ever' the spiritual and moral lesson only. Both
in the Book of the Acts and St. Paul's Epistles the historical and
predictive portions of the Jewish Scriptures are constantly appealed
to, and used as the basis of argument. The suggestion that the Apostles
attached little importance to the latter is far from being borne out
by the evidence. One of the chief things in which they differ from
writers of the modern school is their use of Old Testament history and
prediction. Compare the place which prophecy occupies in the Epistle
to the Romans with the place it holds in the Bishop of Winchester's
book, where no more than sixteen lines in 187 pages are allotted to it.

"Each of the Synoptic Gospels describes the scene at the
Transfiguration, when Moses and Elias talked with our Lord in the
sight of three of His disciples. St. Luke mentions that they talked
about His approaching death. In the face of that narrative, those who
say that our Lord knew no more of Moses than any Jew of the period are
bound to explain how they reconcile the statement with the Evangelists'
account of the Transfiguration. No Jewish scribe of the first century
a.d. could pretend to have seen or conversed with either Elijah or
Moses. Bishop Ryle says of our Lord:--

    In His incidental references to Moses, He adopts the language of
    the Scribes.... He never displayed knowledge of facts which could
    not be possessed by those of his own time.... To His intellectual
    powers in His humanity there seem to have been assigned the
    natural barriers of the time in which he lived.

"The Bishop does not perceive apparently that these arguments cut
both ways, so that they tell against our Lord's claim to foreknow
the future quite as much as against His knowledge of the past. And
we are entitled to ask how they can possibly be made to agree with
the express testimony of the Evangelists that Moses and Elijah were
seen in Christ's company, and 'spake of the decease which He should
accomplish at Jerusalem.'"

I have quoted these apposite remarks at length because they will
come with more force from the mouth of an orthodox believer than
from anyone in doubt like myself. One cannot help wondering what the
Bishop could have to urge in reply; for the ground is cut from under
him by his own acceptance of so much of modern criticism. As he is a
high dignitary of the Church, it is all the more puzzling. Referring
to the remarks concerning Moses, it may be mentioned that, according
to the critics, Moses is not a historical personage. [50] Whether the
Bishop accepts this or not it is difficult to say; but apparently he
does, from his desire to explain that, "in His references to Moses,"
Christ "adopts the language of the Scribes."

Dr. Driver's new book on Genesis has also called forth some adverse
criticisms from the less advanced. For example, Dr. Lock, the Warden
of Keble, enumerates several considerations in support of the general
trustworthiness of the patriarchal narratives, and observes that the
fact of inspiration, once admitted on the higher level of a moral and
spiritual tone, may "well carry its influence over into details of
fact, and turn the balance when otherwise uncertain." Personally,
I very much doubt whether the general public, once informed of
the truth, will ever be induced to look at facts through Dr. Lock's
spiritual spectacles. Dr. Driver, it should be added, informs us that
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph were presumably monotheists, though
their monotheism is rudimentary, and the terms in which they express
themselves "suggest much riper spiritual capacities and experiences,"
being, "in some cases, borrowed evidently from the phraseology of a
much later age." Can we depend upon such narrators to furnish us with
true history? Commenting on Dr. Driver's "impossible interpretations"
of the words, "it shall bruise thy head," and of "the story of the
Fall," his reviewer in the Church Times asks: "Was it, or was it not,
a promise made by God? This is the plain question which Dr. Driver's
readers are forced to ask." Sceptical truthseekers, also, are asking
the same question. When will they receive a "straight" answer?

§ 2. A Summary of the Results of Bible Criticism.

The general public know little or nothing of the results of Bible
criticism. Why should they? Not only do they deem it a dull subject,
but those who attend church are being informed from the pulpit that
"the Gospels have been battered by years of criticism, but have
come out of it stronger than ever." [51] It is easy enough to make
statements of this kind, and, doubtless, they serve temporarily
to quiet the fears of a congregation who know very little of the
subject, and are only too glad to believe what they are told so
authoritatively; but, unfortunately, such statements are, to put
it mildly, misleading. The ordinary man is wofully ignorant of the
"Higher Criticism." His ideas of Bible difficulties are mostly confined
to common sense. He knows, perhaps, that scoffers of the London parks
freethinking type gibe at Holy Writ, and he may himself have made fun
of some passages that appear absurd; but here his knowledge of Bible
criticism ceases. He is not aware that the critics are a body of the
most erudite experts in theology, whose only motive for offering
their opinion is to give to the world the result of their arduous
research--the motives, in fact, of a Bruno, a Darwin, or a Pasteur.

In view of this widespread ignorance, I propose to enumerate briefly a
few of the results of modern criticism, and, in giving these results,
I shall omit those arising from a study of comparative mythology and
of evolution, as I have devoted separate chapters to that purpose.

A work has been issued lately which sums up the conclusions of Bible
criticism--higher, [52] lower or textual, and historical. It is
called the Encyclopædia Biblica. Its four massive volumes set forth
the new views, and support them by a mass of learning which deserves
our serious consideration. [53] Space permits of my giving only a
few notes of its conclusions, and but meagre details of the wealth
of evidence in support of them.

The Creation Story a Myth.--The story of the Creation as given in
Genesis originated in a stock of primitive myths common to the Semitic
races. Its coincidences with the Babylonian myth are so numerous that
it is impossible to doubt the existence of a real historical connection
between them. Many indications show that not till after the Exile in
the sixth century B.C. did the story take its present shape.

The Patriarchs Unhistorical Figures.--Then, again, all the stories
of the Patriarchs are legendary; they may contain some truth, though
how much will probably never be known; to suppose them entirely true
is to throw historical criticism altogether overboard. Dr. Peters
is the Episcopal rector of a large parish in New York, who has done
good service in the past, both as Professor of Biblical Literature
in the Episcopal Seminary at Philadelphia and as the first leader of
the expedition to Babylonia sent out in 1888 by the University of
Pennsylvania. He has lately written a book called The Early Hebrew
Story: Its Historical Background. Canon Cheyne, reviewing this book in
the Hibbert Journal for January, 1905, remarks: "It will be granted
that Dr. Peters's view of the origination of the stories of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob, and, to some extent, of Joseph, in myths, legends,
and traditions of sanctuaries, is a sound one."

Book of Genesis Legendary.--The book of Genesis is a composite
narrative based on older records long since lost. It appears to have
been compiled in the seventh century b.c., and to have been added
to again later. The story of the Deluge is a Hebrew version of the
Babylonian epic.

Book of Exodus Legendary.--The book of Exodus, too, is another
composite legend which has long been mistaken for history. Sober
history gives no warrant for supposing that the signs and wonders
wrought by Moses ever occurred, that the first-born of Egypt were
ever slain, or that Pharaoh was ever drowned in the Red Sea.

Moses a Legendary Character.--The historical character of Moses has
not been established, and it is doubtful whether the name is that
of an individual or that of a clan. The alleged origin of the Ten
Commandments is purely legendary; it is probable that they were
framed not earlier than the time of Amos. It is admitted even by
conservative critics that the original worship of the Israelites was
not of an ethical character.

One of the first suspicions that ever crossed my mind was with
regard to the sudden and complete disappearance of the "two tables
of testimony, tables of stone written with the finger of God." [54]
Later on, when I knew of the Moabite stone [55] and the Rosetta stone,
[56] and especially when I learnt that there were inscriptions on
bricks and cylinders of a far earlier date than that ascribed to the
giving of the Ten Commandments, the old perplexity returned with
added force. I remember, too, the same feeling of dissatisfaction
and suspicion as I gazed on the clearly-cut Pali inscriptions in the
Buddhist caves near Poona, and thought of those lost tables said to
have been inscribed by the finger of God. I once put the question to a
well-read clerical friend of mine: "How can these tables, written by
the finger of God or by His direct inspiration, have been lost? How
is it that they have simply disappeared without a word of explanatory
comment in the Bible? It is inconceivably strange. What a witness
would they not have been to the truth of the Old Testament account,
and to the Divine authority for the Commandments!" His reply was:
"It would never have done for these stones to have been preserved,
for they would have become objects of worship." Granted that they
might have become objects of adoration, which is worse--to worship
faked relics such as the water in which Joseph of Arimathea washed the
blood-stained body of Jesus, portions of wood from the true Cross,
bits from the crown of thorns, and thousands of odd pieces of bone
from the anatomy of the Saints; or to venerate stones that would at
least have had the merit of being genuine? Why are we left without
any reliable evidences of God's miraculous revelation of Himself to
men, while we have abundant evidence for occurrences of trifling
importance to mankind that happened thousands of years before the
alleged revelation? Hammurabi (a Babylonian monarch who flourished
two thousand years or more before the Christian era) inscribed a very
excellent, if somewhat drastic, code of laws upon a pillar of black
diorite, and we have now got the stone and read the inscriptions;
but the stone inscribed by God is lost!

The Book of Deuteronomy.--Evidence of every kind concurs to prove
that in its original form it was a product of the seventh, not of the
fifteenth, century B.C. In its present form, Deuteronomy is a composite
and considerably modified version of the older work. Originally it
may have consisted merely of the long speech attributed to Moses,
and this may have been the book which was "found" in the temple in the
reign of Josiah, the rest of the work being added shortly afterwards.

As it is difficult to believe that such a work would have remained in
the temple undiscovered for eight hundred years, is it not reasonable
to conclude that the book was placed there by men who thought the
time ripe for religious reforms--in fact, that a "pious fraud"
was perpetrated?

The Psalms a Composite Book.--The fond delusion that all the Psalms
were written by David (though why we should be anxious to ascribe
what is really of much ethical value to a person confessedly immoral
I never could understand) has been entirely dispelled. It is doubtful
whether David wrote any of the Psalms.

Poetry and Prophetic Literature.--The book of Job is not a literary
unity, nor was it written with any particular purpose; it is not a
manufacture, but a growth.

Jonah is a Jewish midrash, or tradition, like the histories of Tobit
and Susanna, and was certainly written after the Exile. Even orthodox
clergymen now admit (in private) that the Jonah story is a fairy tale.

The great book of Isaiah is the work of several authors.

The book of Daniel was once assumed to be the most definitely
prophetical of the Old Testament writings--a notion which is seriously
discounted by the discovery that it was beyond question written in
the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, after or during the happening of the
events which were supposed to be foretold, and nearly 500 years after
the time of its supposed author. It is questionable whether such a
person as Daniel ever existed; but it is certain that his adventure
in the den of lions, and that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in
the fiery furnace, are as fabulous as any in the collection of Æsop.

"As a rule," says Canon Cheyne, "the prophets directly connect the
final restoration with the removal of the sins of their own age, and
with the accomplishment of such a work of judgment as lies within
their own horizon; to Isaiah the last troubles are those of the
Assyrian invasion; to Jeremiah the restoration follows on the exile
to Babylon; Daniel connects the future glory with the overthrow of
the Greek monarchy." [57]

Referring to non-Christian parallels to the belief in a Messiah,
Canon Cheyne draws special attention to a Babylonian parallel, and
concludes that "it is historically very conceivable that a Babylonian
belief may be the real parent both of this and of all other Messianic
beliefs within the sphere of Babylonian influence." [58]

The manner in which these so-called prophets can be looked upon as
foretelling is explained elsewhere [59] as follows: "The prophets
in the Old Testament, being inspired to interpret human needs,
became unconscious prophets of the Christ.... It is quite true that
prophecy explained in this way is no longer available for the truth
of Christianity to the same extent that it once was--at any rate,
for the convincing of unbelievers."

New Testament Chronology.--We do not know exactly when or where [60]
Jesus was born, when He died, or how long He ministered. As to the
birth of Jesus, the only account which claims to give indications of
date rests on a series of mistakes. No census was possible under Herod,
and none took place under "Cyrenius" until A.D. 7. The only results
which have a high degree of probability are the date A.D. 30 for the
death of Jesus, and the period of about one year--conservative opinion
estimates it to be three years--for the length of His public ministry.

The Virgin Birth.--The Gospels themselves afford the amplest
justification for a criticism of their narratives. Jesus Himself made
no appeal to His supposed miraculous birth. The only two verses in
the first chapter of St. Luke which clearly express the idea of a
supernatural birth so disturb the connection that we are impelled to
regard them as an interpolation. It is Joseph, and not Mary, whose
descent is traced from the son of Jesse. The genealogy of Joseph,
given in the first Gospel, is prior in date to the story of the Virgin
Birth, and could have been drawn up only while he was regarded as the
real father of Jesus. Also St. Paul's statement that Jesus was born
of the seed of David according to the flesh cannot be reconciled with
the account of his having been born of a virgin. There is no recorded
adoration of the Virgin by St. Paul, or, for the matter of that,
by any of the Apostles or disciples.

Apologists point out that among the Jews, generally, the notion
of supernatural birth did not attach to their conception of the
Messiah. This is true; but in the school of thought of which Philo was
head there were traditions that every child of promise was born of a
virgin. Now Philo, the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher of Alexandria,
was a contemporary of Christ, and the influence of his school is
not disputed. Speaking of him in the article on Alexandria in his
Dictionary of the Bible, Dr. Smith says: "It is impossible not to feel
the important office which the mystic philosophy, of which Philo is
the representative, fulfilled in preparing for the apprehension of the
highest Christian truth." In the next chapter we shall see that this
"mystic philosophy" sprang from a heathen source, and that for the
whole birth and childhood story of St. Matthew, in its every detail,
it is possible to trace a pagan substratum.

Jesus.--Professor A. B. Bruce, [61] writer of the article on "Jesus,"
points out that, while the Gospels may be regarded as, in the
main, a trustworthy tradition, they are unreliable in many of their
details. Those details turn out to be the all-important ones, for he
goes on to show that: The Temptation is a symbolic representation of a
spiritual experience; the story of the Crucifixion is not pure truth,
but truth mixed with doubtful legend; the night trial, the mocking,
the incident of Barabbas, the two thieves, and the preternatural
concomitants of the death are picturesque accessories of doubtful
authenticity; Christ's conceptions of Messiahship were greatly
influenced by the later Isaiah; while His spiritual intuitions are
pure truth valid for all ages, His language concerning the Father
shows limitation of vision; His acts of healing are considered to be
real, though it does not follow that they were miraculous. Referring
to the strange statement that Jesus declined to expound His parables
to the people, lest they should be converted, we are assured that
"it is not credible that Jesus would either cherish or avow such an
inhuman intention, though it is possible that in His disappointment
He may have expressed Himself in such a way as to be misunderstood."

This is all very well; but, if this be granted, we are naturally
anxious to know in how many more matters Jesus may not have
been misunderstood. What is the use of a revelation which can be
misunderstood in this way? What can be the motive of the Omnipotent
Revealer in allowing Himself to be misunderstood? Were not His hearers
who misunderstood Him His own selected expositors?

We even find suspicion thrown on the supposed early belief in the
divinity of Jesus. For the writer points out that, while in the
Gospel of St. Luke Jesus is called "the Lord" about a dozen times,
the earlier Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark refer to Him simply
as "Jesus"--"a fact which seems to indicate the gradual evolution of
the belief in His divinity."

The conclusions of Professor Schmiedel, D.D., of Zürich, one of the
writers of the article on the Gospels, are still more destructive. He
admits [62] that his criticisms "may have sometimes raised a doubt
whether any credible elements were to be found in the Gospels at
all," and that there are only nine passages which "might be called
the foundation-pillars for a truly scientific life of Jesus." He
admits also "the meagreness of the historical testimony regarding
Jesus," as well "in canonical writings outside of the Gospels" as
"in profane writers such as Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny."

The Resurrection.--The all-important subject of the "Resurrection" is
treated by Professor Schmiedel, who tells us that the Gospel accounts
"exhibit contradictions of the most glaring kind." The actuality
of the Resurrection depends for its establishment upon these very
narratives, and in such a case unimpeachable witnesses are naturally
demanded. Such witnesses do not exist. The reality of the appearances
has ever been in dispute. The account of the watch at the sepulchre
and the sealing of the tomb is now given up as unhistorical even by
those who accept the story as a whole. "The statements as to the empty
tomb are to be rejected." [63] The silence of St. Paul with regard
to these details is unaccountable, if the story of the Resurrection
be true. For him nothing less than the truth of Christianity rested
on the actuality of the Resurrection of Jesus. During his visit to
Jerusalem he had had opportunities of acquiring knowledge relating
to it, and it may naturally be assumed that, when endeavouring to
prove to the Corinthians the truth of the Resurrection, he would
state fully and clearly all that he knew about it. It is admitted on
all hands that the appearance recorded by him was in the nature of
a vision--a purely subjective experience. And it is well known that
St. Paul uses the same Greek word to describe both the appearance to
himself and the appearances to the original disciples, thereby implying
the possibility that the latter also were of a visionary or subjective
character. An apologetic tendency is perceptible in the Gospel account,
and this may help to explain the rise of unhistorical elements. It is
probable that, in the absence of knowledge, conjectures were freely
made, and many questions asked, the replies to which were afterwards
assumed to be facts.

The Gospels.--The article on the Gospels by Dr. E. A. Abbott [64]
and Professor Schmiedel is crowded with damaging criticism. The view
hitherto current that the four Gospels were written by Matthew, Mark,
Luke, and John, and appeared thirty or forty years after the death of
Jesus, can, it is stated, no longer be maintained. The four Gospels
were compiled from earlier materials which have perished, and the
dates when they first appeared in their present form are given as
follows:--Mark, certainly after the destruction of Jerusalem in the
year 70 [65]; Matthew, about 119 A.D.; Luke, between 100 and 110; and
John, between 132 and 140. But, even if we accept more conservative
opinions which place the earliest Gospel about 65 A.D., that would not,
of course, make any material difference, nor affect the conclusions
of criticism as to their contents. Some of their statements of fact
are quite erroneous, and the data are often in direct contradiction
to one another. The evangelists made it clear that they wrote with
a "lack of concern for historical precision." The imperfection of
the Gospel accounts is everywhere manifest. Even if His ministry
lasted only a few months, He must have said a thousandfold more,
and repeated His sayings with many variations. The text must not
be taken as a trustworthy guide to His original meaning. It merely
shows us what the evangelists or their predecessors believed him to
mean. The situations in which the words of Jesus are said to have
been spoken cannot be implicitly accepted.

Both St. Matthew and St. Mark seem to have read into the utterances
of Jesus details borrowed from subsequent facts or controversies. The
historical value of the third Gospel is lowered by evidence of the
writer's errors and misunderstandings. It has been widely assumed
that it was written by the physician Luke, and that Luke was a
companion of Paul. This view of its Pauline character, however,
can now be maintained only in a very limited sense. It is clear
that the third Gospel and the Acts are by the same author, but that
author was not Luke. In the fourth Gospel we find more ambiguities
than in all the other three together. The story of the raising of
Lazarus cannot be considered historical. The common-sense view of the
Synoptic omission of the raising of Lazarus is that earlier authors
omitted the tradition because they did not accept it, and probably had
never heard of it. "Is, then, the record of the raising of Lazarus a
fiction?" asks Dr. Abbott. "Not a fiction, for it is a development. But
it is non-historical, like the history of the Creation in Genesis,
and like the records of the other miracles in the fourth Gospel,
all of which are poetic developments." [66]

Lastly, we are plainly warned that "it is vain to look to the Church
fathers for trustworthy information on the subject of the origin of
the Gospels." [67] This is an exceedingly grave admission when we
remember that these same untrustworthy fathers of the Church did the
work of sifting the wheat from the chaff--settling what was and what
was not canonical.

It need hardly be said that these general conclusions, which are
supported by evidence that has satisfied numerous Christian scholars,
entirely do away with the idea that the Gospels are credible and
trustworthy narratives.

The Acts of the Apostles.--The sections of this book in which the
narrative is written in the first person plural (says Professor
Schmiedel) can be implicitly accepted; but it is equally certain that
they are not by the same hand as the rest of the book. Apart from the
"we" sections, no statement merits immediate acceptance on the mere
ground of its presence in the book. The speeches are constructed by
the author in accordance with his own conceptions. This book does
not come from a companion of St. Paul; its date may be set down as
between A.D. 105 and 130.

The Epistles of St. Paul.--The genuineness of the Pauline Epistles does
not appear to be so clear as was once universally supposed. Advanced
criticism, Professor van Manen [68] tells us, in his elaborate article
on "Paul," has learned to recognise that none of these Epistles is
by him, not even the four generally regarded as unassailable. Van
Manen's position, however, is exceptional. In the article on
"Epistolary Literature" the Epistle to Philemon and the Epistles to
the Philippians, Thessalonians, Galatians, Colossians, Ephesians,
and even the Epistle to the Romans, are recognised as real letters
written by St. Paul. The genuineness of four of the Epistles is, in
any case, generally accepted. As these include the first Epistle to the
Corinthians, this conclusion is of the greatest importance. The Bishop
of London is "content to rest his case, for not being intellectually
ashamed of the documentary evidence, on the four undisputed Epistles
of St. Paul." [69]

The Apocalypse.--Criticism has clearly shown that the Book of
Revelation can no longer be regarded as a literary unit, but is an
admixture of Jewish with Christian ideas and speculations. Ancient
testimony, that of Papias in particular, assumed the Presbyter John,
and not the Apostle, to be its author.

This completes a summary of conclusions, arrived at by eminent
Christian scholars of the more advanced school. Though they, or the
majority of them, would be the last to make any such admission, the
net result amounts practically to a surrender of the Christian dogmas.

§ 3. By Whom the "Higher Criticism" is Accepted.

These criticisms are, I repeat, the work not of anti-Christians,
but of Christians, who have devoted themselves to Biblical research,
and who are among the greatest living experts in that sphere of
knowledge. Canon Cheyne, one of the two editors of the Encyclopædia
Biblica, has now written a volume on Bible Problems and the New
Material for their Solution, in which he appeals to Churchmen and
scholars and all who are interested in Bible criticism for thoroughness
of investigation. There can be no doubt that there is a crying need for
this thorough investigation, which at present is being shirked. While
the main results arrived at by the Higher Criticism are, it is true,
largely accepted by enlightened divines, the usual policy so far has
been not to disseminate such knowledge. On this I shall have more to
say in the concluding chapter of this book.

Dr. Harnack in Germany, and M. Loisy in France, may be cited as types
of liberal theologians who proclaim their acceptance of the Higher
Criticism. They both detach Christianity from mere narrative, and
seek to appreciate it as a spiritual reality, which appeals to the
imagination, the emotions, and the soul. Dr. Harnack is the Professor
of Church History in the University of Berlin, and member of the Royal
Prussian Academy, and a book called What is Christianity? is an English
translation of sixteen lectures delivered by him in the University of
Berlin, 1899-1900. In this book the effort to prove that the Gospels
though unhistorical are yet historical, that Christianity though untrue
is yet true, is strongly in evidence to any impartial reader. Take his
remark on the "Miraculous Element" in Lecture II.; we find the same
kind of specious argument on which I have already animadverted in the
chapter on Miracles. He says: "Miracles, it is true, do not happen;
but of the marvellous and the inexplicable there is no lack--that the
earth in its course stood still, that a she-ass spoke, that a storm
was quieted by a word, [70] we do not believe, and we shall never again
believe; but that the lame walked, the blind saw, and the deaf heard,
will not be so summarily dismissed as an illusion." Why? Because,
after all, these may have been accomplished by the operation of
a natural law with which we are as yet unacquainted! "Although the
order of Nature be inviolable, we are not yet by any means acquainted
with all the forces working in it and acting reciprocally with other
forces. Our acquaintance even with the forces inherent in matter,
and with the field of their action, is incomplete; while of psychic
forces we know very much less." He gives the whole situation away,
however, by making excuses for the Evangelists, such as "we know that
the Gospels come from a time in which the marvellous may be said to
have been something of almost daily occurrence," and "we now know
that eminent persons have not to wait until they have been long dead,
or even for several years, to have miracles reported of them; they
are reported at once, often the very next day." Again, speaking of
the first three Gospels, he says: "These Gospels are not, it is true,
historical works any more than the fourth; they were not written with
the simple object of giving the facts as they were; they were books
composed for the work of evangelisation." Such reasoning serves only
to confirm one's suspicions. Here is the unedifying spectacle of an
erudite scholar using his intellectual powers to make out a case for
a Faith built upon foundations which he has himself destroyed. We do
not wish to be told that there is a substratum of truth in the Gospel
narratives. The ordinary man feels strongly that the whole should
be true if it be God's Word. That this is, and always will be, the
common-sense view of mankind is proved by the fact that it is held
by the vast majority of the strictly orthodox, as well as by every
Agnostic and every cultured heathen.

M. Loisy writes in much the same strain as Dr. Harnack, and finds
adherents in both English and Roman Catholic Churches, as may be seen
from the correspondence in the Church Times during April, 1904.

In the Hibbert Journal (January, 1905) an Oxfordshire rector, the
Rev. C. J. Shebbeare, presents the same aspect of liberal theology by
means of various illustrations. He remarks: "It is evident that the
lesson taught by our new teachers must have an important bearing upon
popular religious conceptions and upon religious practice. Its chief
effect will be to deliver us from the error of identifying religion
with belief in the supernatural--an error of which it is not difficult
to see the pernicious consequences" (italics are mine). This is all
very well for those who can divest the Christian religion of its
supernatural element, and yet remain honest believers. To my mind,
this is simply non-Christian Theism, and the Theistic Church, Swallow
Street, is the place where such persons should perform their devotions.

I crave the reader's patience while I give one more example of
advanced apologetics. The Rev. Arthur Moorhouse, M.A., B.D., Tutor in
Old Testament Languages and Literature at Didsbury College, offers,
in a lecture [71] delivered at Manchester on "The Inspiration of the
Old Testament," "an unhesitating and emphatic denial" to the statement
that there is any "untruth in the Old Testament." Yet he tells us that
"the early chapters of Genesis are not historical in our modern and
scientific sense," and asks us to remember that, "in the nature of
things, it could not be history, for it deals with facts which are,
of necessity, prehistoric"! Such pitiful shifts and evasions seem
to many of us wholly unworthy of earnest men. "Our fathers," says
Mr. Moorhouse, "may have thought that this was history miraculously
dictated, but the Bible does not say so." No, and the Bible does not
say that it is speaking the truth, but "our fathers" were simple-minded
enough to forget that such a guarantee was necessary on the part of
a book which they, like Mr. Moorhouse, believed to be the inspired
Word of God.

§ 4. Admissions by Orthodox Apologists.

I cannot conclude this review of Bible criticism without an allusion to
the opinions of those theologians who agree with the "Higher Critics"
to an extent far exceeding anything the pious layman suspects. I
shall omit, as being too advanced, the views of Dr. Driver, given in
his "Genesis," or of Canon Henson, as expressed in the Contemporary
Review and in his book, The Value of the Bible and Other Sermons,
or of Archdeacon Wilson, shown in his various interesting books
and pamphlets; and will confine myself to comparatively conservative
theology. I select, as representative of this type, The Divine Library
of the Old Testament, by Dr. A. F. Kirkpatrick (Master of Selwyn
College, Regius Professor of Hebrew in the University of Cambridge,
and Canon of Ely Cathedral), and The Study of the Gospels, being a
"Handbook for the Clergy," by Dr. J. Armitage Robinson (Dean of

In the former, which is among the books selected by the Christian
Evidence Society for their Examination in March, 1907, we read: "The
lectures do not attempt to deal with many of the graver questions
which are being raised as to the Old Testament." But it is just
the more difficult questions, such as those examined with such
destructive effect by the Higher Criticism, which specially require
to be answered. Why are they neglected? The author goes on to confess
that "the books were constructed out of earlier narratives; some were
formed by the union of previous collections of poetry or prophecies;
some betray marks of a reviser's hand; and even books which bear the
names of well-known authors in some cases contain matter which must be
attributed to other writers." Also we find the following significant
admissions. Referring to the important last twenty-seven chapters
of Isaiah, he accepts Dr. Driver's criticisms, and says: "I do not
see how we can resist the conclusion that these chapters were not
written by Isaiah, but by an unknown prophet towards the close of the
Babylonian Exile"; and he owns that "it will inevitably seem to many
students of the Bible that, in assigning the prophecy to a date so
near to the events which it foretells, we are detracting from its truly
predictive character and diminishing its value." However, he considers
that "Isaiah is great enough to share his glory with this disciple,
in whom, being dead, he yet spoke; and, paradox as it may seem, the
truly prophetic character of the work gains by being referred to the
time of the Exile." By what process of reasoning he arrives at this
astonishing conclusion it is exceedingly difficult to comprehend.

Further admissions by Dr. Kirkpatrick must be noticed more
briefly. They are: "The first chapter of Genesis is not, as we now
know, a scientifically exact account of Creation." "The account of
the Fall is, it may be, an allegory rather than a history in the
strict sense of the term." "The Deluge was not universal in the sense
that the waters covered the whole surface of the entire globe." "The
Psalms, like the Proverbs, have a long literary history. They are
poems by different authors, and David may be one of them." "Modern
criticism claims, and claims with justice, that the Hexateuch, like
so many of the other books, is composite in its origin, and has a
long literary history." "That the Pentateuch was entirely written by
Moses is merely a Jewish tradition, which passed into the Christian
Church and was commonly accepted until modern times. [Yet how much
hangs upon the trustworthiness of this same Jewish tradition, and
how much else may not the Church have wrongfully accepted?] Some
of the variations of the LXX. [72] from the Hebrew text are due,
no doubt, to errors and interpolations and deliberate alterations;
but after all allowance has been made for these, I do not see how any
candid critic can resist the conclusion that many of them represent
variations existing in the Hebrew text from which the translation
was made." "It was probably at the very beginning of this period
[from the Fall of Jerusalem to the end of the fifth century], towards
the close of the first century a.d., that the final settlement of
an authoritative text took place.... How came it that all the copies
containing other readings have disappeared?... Copies differing from it
[the standard text] would die out or be deliberately destroyed." "The
oldest Hebrew MS. in existence of which the date is known was written
in 916 A.D.--i.e., separated by more than a thousand years from the
latest of the works included in the Canon."

Finally, the following crucial questions are offered (pp. 88-9) and
left unanswered: "In what sense, it is asked, can this legislation,
which is now said to be Mosaic in elemental germ and idea only,
and to represent not the inspired deliverance of a supremely great
individual, but the painful efforts of many generations of law-makers;
these histories which have been compiled from primitive traditions,
and chronicles, and annals, and what not; these books of prophecy
which are not the authentic autographs of the prophets, but posthumous
collections of such writings (if any) as they left behind them,
eked out by the recollections of their disciples; these Proverbs
and Psalms which have been handed down by tradition and altered and
edited and re-edited; these histories which contain errors of date
and fact, and have been, perhaps, 'idealised' by the reflection of the
circumstances and ideas of the writer's own times upon a distant past;
these seeming narratives which may be allegories; and these would-be
prophecies which may be histories; in what sense can these be said
to be inspired? The problems raised are grave." My own thoughts,
and the thoughts of many like myself, are here candidly expressed. I
have nothing to add, and can only echo this learned divine's solemn
words--the problems raised are grave!

Turning now to the Study of the Gospels, we learn from Dr. Robinson as
follows: There is no proof that St. Matthew is the author of the first
Gospel. He is unable to fix the date himself, but quotes Dr. Harnack,
who says "probably 70-75," and who also adds the important reservation,
"except certain later additions." St. Mark's authorship, he thinks, is
practically certain, and the year 65 is the probable date. "It is," he
says, "exceedingly probable that St. Peter would not write or preach,
even if he could speak at all, in any language but his mother tongue,
the Aramaic of Galilee, a local dialect akin to Hebrew. When he wrote
or preached to Greek-speaking people, he would use Mark or some other
disciple as his interpreter." What, then, may I ask, had become of the
"gifts at Pentecost"?

St. Luke is, according to Dr. Robinson, the fellow-traveller of
St. Paul, and the date of his Gospel shortly after 70. Regarding
St. John's, we are informed that Dr. Harnack fixes the date between
80 and 110, and thinks that it was written by another person of the
same name--John the presbyter, or elder, of Ephesus. Dr. Robinson,
however, in a chapter he devotes to the subject of the fourth Gospel,
attempts to show its apostolic authorship.

Dr. Robinson admits that the authorship of all four Gospels is
doubtful, but thinks that, regarding the second Gospel, we may accept
the second-century tradition that it was written by St. Mark, and that
St. Mark was the "interpreter" of St. Peter and wrote the Gospel in
Rome from information derived from that Apostle. Very good; let us
accept this conclusion. We have it, then, that one of the Gospels
is from the mouth of an eye-witness. This eye-witness, however,
was, after all, an eye-witness of only one year (or, according to
conservative criticism, three years) of Christ's life; he was an
illiterate person, and the information he imparted after thirty or
forty years had to be written down by another person in another
language, and there is no telling how faithful or unfaithful the
translation may have been. Besides, as Dr. Robinson points out in
his chapters on "The Great Sermon" and "The Non-Marcan Document,"
there are very important omissions in St. Mark's Gospel. Referring to
a supposed source for the information furnished by other evangelists,
but omitted by St. Mark, he says: "You may gain some general idea
of the scope of this document (the Non-Marcan [73]) by underlining
in St. Luke's Gospel all those portions which are to be found in
St. Matthew, but are not to be found in St. Mark."

Now, what are these omissions in St. Mark? Are they trivial? Let us
judge for ourselves by taking a few selections. There is no mention
whatever of the story of Christ's miraculous birth, nor of the
other incidents of His childhood which are said to be in fulfilment
of prophecy, and there is no mention of the great Sermon on the
Mount. The story of the Resurrection is told in a few sentences,
and the Ascension in one sentence. Unfortunately, too, these very
sentences are admittedly interpolations, and St. Mark really ends
at xvi. 8. [74] So there is no account of either the Incarnation,
Resurrection, or Ascension, and we are left with oral traditions,
"lost" documents, and unknown copyists, as the only source from which
to obtain any detailed information concerning the very groundwork of
our Creed! Could anything be more unsatisfactory, more calculated to
arouse suspicion of the "Christian Verities"--the Gospel truths? I am
completely at a loss to understand how the Bishop of Gloucester [75]
can say that the "Higher Criticism" has been a "gain to the Church,"
or the Bishop of London1 that "the New Testament stands ten times
as strong as it did fifty years ago." It would seem to be a case of
"where ignorance is bliss," etc., or else of the wish being father
to the thought.

There is much more that I should wish to call attention to, did space
permit, but I have now, I think, given some insight into modern Bible
criticism, and the extent to which it is accepted by Christians. It
only remains, in conclusion, to ask for earnest thought on this new
aspect of "the Word of God." In doing so the following additional
considerations may be borne in mind.

§ 5. Some Remaining Difficulties.


The orthodox and traditional view of the Old Testament is preserved
in the unrepealed "Blasphemy Act," 9 and 10, William III., cap. 32,
which enacts that any person who shall deny the "Holy Scriptures
of the Old and New Testament" to be of "divine authority" shall be
incapable of holding any public office or employment, and shall, on
a second conviction, also suffer imprisonment for a space of three
years. The Vatican Council of 1870, "speaking under the inspiration of
the Holy Ghost," declared that the books of the Old and New Testament
"have God for their author, and, as such, have been delivered to
the Church." The Council, therefore, ordained that the man should
be anathema who refused "to receive, for sacred and canonical, the
books of the Holy Scripture in their integrity, with all their parts."

Dr. Bayley expressed the opinion of his day when he wrote [76]:
"The Bible cannot be less than verbally inspired. Every word, every
syllable, every letter, is just what it would be had God spoken from
heaven without any human intervention. Every scientific statement is
infallibly correct; all its history and narratives of every kind are
without any inaccuracy."

Listen, again, to the words of a well-known divine of our own
Church, spoken but yesterday: "The whole of the teaching of the New
Testament is based upon the supposition that God made a covenant with
Abraham." [77] "You have our Lord Jesus Christ building His whole life
on the Scriptures, and submitting to death in obedience to them." [78]
This is the strictly orthodox opinion, and it is consistent with
Christian doctrine. Yet, for obvious reasons, the Old Testament is now
regarded as an incubus by an increasing number of earnest Christians.

In the New Testament there are many cruel sayings attributed to
Jesus. Only the few are to be saved from the eternal torments
of the damned (St. Matt. xiii. 10-13, xxii. 14, xxv. 41; St. Mark
iv. 11-12, xvi. 16, etc.). Happily, owing to the rise of Rationalism
and the consequent subjection of the Bible to criticism, the dogma
of eternal torment is disputed on all sides, and the Athanasian
Creed will soon no longer be forced upon us. The principle of the
"chosen few" is so clearly Christ's teaching, and furnishes such
a convenient explanation for the attitude of the many, that it is
commonly adhered to; but liberal theologians no longer hold that "he
that believeth not shall be damned," or that the punishment of the
sinner is to be excruciating torture for all eternity. Unbelievers and
sinners may all ultimately be saved, or at the worst their existence
will end with this life. Good, very good; such views appeal to us
as being more humane and rational; but are they compatible with the
truth of the Bible? Mark the words of the late Bishop of Manchester:
"The very foundation of our Faith, the very basis of our hopes, are
taken from us when one line of that sacred volume, on which we base
everything, is declared to be untruthful and untrustworthy." Thus it
is that there are many who would still retain the inhuman doctrines
ascribed to the Master. Fearful of losing the basis of their hopes,
and unconscious, apparently, of their sublime egoism, they reason,
and reason with logic: We must accept the whole or reject the whole.


That the Bible should be open to criticism at all seems to me
inconceivable if it really be God's gift to mankind. How could God,
having determined after æons of time to make a definite revelation of
Himself to His human creatures, permit the account of this revelation
to be handed down in such a haphazard fashion that future generations
cannot be sure that they possess a reliable record? This, too, when a
trustworthy record was the more essential on account of the miraculous
nature of the narrative. As Professor Schmiedel remarks, the meagreness
of the historical testimony regarding Jesus, whether in canonical
writings outside of the Gospels or in profane writers such as Josephus,
Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny, is most pronounced. Not a single
passage can be produced from the writings of the great historians
and philosophers who flourished between A.D. 40 and A.D. 140 which
makes the slightest allusion to the astounding phenomena connected
with the birth, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth.

It was at one time claimed that Josephus spoke of Jesus. That this
has been given up by theologians may be verified by a reference
to Canon Farrar's Life of Christ, vol. i., p. 63 (and p. 31 of
the cheap edition), where we read that "The single passage in
which he (Josephus) alludes to Him is interpolated, if not wholly
spurious." There is also a disputed passage [79] in Tacitus, where
he speaks of Christians having "their denomination from Christus,
who, in the reign of Tiberius, was put to death as a criminal by the
procurator, Pontius Pilate." And that is all! Could anything be more
disappointing than this must be to thoughtful Christians who wish to
establish the historical accuracy of the miraculous story of God's
life on earth? Eusebius (A.D. 315-340), the celebrated ecclesiastical
historian, is apparently reduced to appealing to a Pagan oracle for a
proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, for he says to the heathen:
"But thou at least listen to thine own gods, to thy oracular deities
themselves, who have borne witness, and ascribed to our Saviour (Jesus
Christ) not imposture, but piety and wisdom, and ascent into heaven."

The silence of secular historians is accounted for, by certain divines,
by falling back on a theory of hostility or contempt. Thus Dean Farrar
thinks that Josephus's silence on the subject of Jesus and Christianity
was as deliberate as it was dishonest (see his Life of Christ, vol. i.,
p. 63). Except that this offers a much-needed explanation, I am not
cognisant of any reason for suspecting the famous secular historian,
although, of course, the untrustworthiness of the Christian historians
is notorious. Eusebius, for example, the gravest of the ecclesiastical
historians, confesses, with commendable frankness: "We have decided
to relate nothing concerning them [the early Christians] except the
things in which we can vindicate the divine judgment." [80]

With regard to the prodigy of the darkness, etc., that occurred at
the death of Jesus, Gibbon informs us as follows: "It happened during
the lifetime of Seneca and the elder Pliny, who must have experienced
the immediate effects, or received the earliest intelligence of the
prodigy. Each of these philosophers, in a laborious work, has recorded
all the great phenomena of Nature--earthquakes, meteors, comets,
and eclipses--which his indefatigable curiosity could collect. But
the one and the other has omitted to mention the greatest phenomenon
to which the mortal eye has been witness since the creation of the
globe." [81] Any attempt to explain this away by supposing that the
darkness of three hours was local only detracts from the magnitude
of the miracle, which was intended, by its very magnitude, to be one
of the proofs of the death of a God.


Have you ever, in the days of your early youth, played the game of
"gossip"? It is an amusing game, and also points a moral. A number
of persons put themselves in a long row, and the first will think
of some little incident, which he will carefully whisper to his
neighbour, who will then pass it on, and so on, and so on, till it
reaches the last person, who will proceed to repeat out loud the
story he has heard. The original story will then be divulged, and
much amusement is caused by the differences that are found between
the two stories. This illustration of what occurs in "gossip" came
back to my mind with much misgiving when I first heard how the story
of my Saviour's life on earth was handed down for a long period "by
tradition." Apparently, Christian theologians look quite complacently,
and without any misgiving, upon this process for the transmission of
the Christian verities; but, for myself, whether it were a century,
or whether it were only a matter of thirty or forty years, before the
final committal to writing, it was a heartrending discovery, and all
my confidence in the truth of the Bible story was shaken. My dismay
was not diminished when I learnt also that it was extremely doubtful
whether the authors were eye-witnesses of the events, or especially
inspired by God for their task; also, that there had been subsequent
interpolations by equally unknown and uninspired writers, who, to speak
plainly, were nothing more nor less than forgers, actuated, possibly,
by pious motives. That the writers of the Gospels were vouchsafed
any unusual facilities through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit
is discredited by the remarks of the apologists themselves. Thus,
Dr. Robinson, in his book already referred to, alludes to St. Peter's
illiteracy, St. Mark's poor literary attainments, and the limitations
to which all the evangelists in ancient times were subjected.

We find ourselves asking the questions, "Did not God know that a time
would come when we should discover that nature's laws were not of the
fragile or elastic character which our forefathers had supposed? Did
He not know that we should therefore require absolute proof before
we could believe that they had been broken in a bygone and credulous
age?" Instead of this, the only proofs afforded us are copies of
documents concocted from hearsay--we are not sure when or by whom--and
from time to time fraudulently manipulated by interested though "pious"
forgers. Did He, in His Omniscience, purposely allow events to take
their course, and intend the story of His Son's life upon earth to be
handed down to us by the same unsatisfactory process as that of many
another ancient tradition now known to be historically worthless? If
ever special interference with the course of nature were necessary,
surely it would be here--a miracle to prove the miracle on which our
hopes are staked. Or, if this be asking too much, if it be argued that
it is no longer God's pleasure to break the laws which He has made,
and that He now accomplishes His purposes by means of these laws
only, how comes it that, for the safeguarding of this great truth,
the most ordinary precautions have been neglected?

We are often asked to consider the yearnings of man as a proof that
the thing yearned for is a reality. His yearnings, therefore, are not
a negligible quantity. Do not, then, the yearnings of millions of
Christians in the Roman Catholic and Greek Churches for miraculous
proofs of God's residence once upon earth count for something? Are
not all the "miraculous" relics and "wonder-working" ikons a proof
that man feels that God's revelation ought to be assured to us by the
continuance of miracles? In our own Church, Holman Hunt's painting
of "The Light of the World" is being sent round our colonies, to
strengthen people's belief in Jesus Christ. Why, oh why, have we
not the real picture of our Saviour, bringing our God nearer to us,
and enabling us to focus our thoughts on Him? I once mentioned my
feeling on this subject to a clergyman, a doctor of divinity, well
versed in Church history. He replied by suggesting that there was a
tradition which indicated that the true likeness of our Lord had been
miraculously transmitted, and that from this the great Italian painters
had caught their inspiration. [82] It seems hardly necessary to have
recourse to the supernatural when there were natural sources available
in the shape of representations of pagan gods. Thus Mercury, attired as
a shepherd, with a lamb upon his shoulders, was no infrequent object
in ancient art, and this has, in some cases, led to a difficulty
in distinguishing between Mercury and Jesus Christ. Similarly we
know that the pictures and sculptures wherein Isis is represented
in the act of suckling her child Horus formed the foundation for the
Christian figures and paintings of the Madonna and child.


It may be urged that we have, what is of far more importance,
the picture of His character. Have we? The absolute sinlessness of
Christ is one of the chief proofs held out to us of His divinity. It
is described as being in itself a miracle so great that it furnishes
us with sufficient grounds for belief in other miracles. Many pious
and learned theists feel that the character of Christ as portrayed
in the Gospels betrays imperfections. But let this pass. What do we
know of His life? Let us assume that in the Gospel of St. Mark we are
put in possession of the impressions of an eye-witness. St. Peter's
personal knowledge of the private life of Jesus was confined to
his recollections concerning a beloved Master during the period
of His public ministry. And that ministry extended over one year,
or at most three years. Have not the disciples of great teachers in
the past invariably extolled the perfections of their masters? Have
they ever dwelt upon their imperfections? Has not the picture handed
down by tradition, and afterwards committed to writing, often been
that of a perfect man? That the writers of the Gospels recognised the
need for Christ to appear sinless, and adopted questionable methods
for their purpose, is only too evident. Dr. Robinson explains [83]
the disappearance from the other Gospels of St. Mark's references to
"anger," "grief," "groaning," "vehemence," etc., as being "the result
of a kind of reverence which belonged to a slightly later stage of
reflection, when certain traits might even seem derogatory to the
dignity of the sacred character." Comment is superfluous.


There is another difficulty of belief in the divinity of Christ,
which it is all the more essential to bring into prominence because
it usually receives but scant notice from the pulpit. I refer to the
"ignorance" of Jesus Christ. In a review of Le Réalisme Chrétien et
l'Idéalisme Grec, par L. Laberthonnière, the Church Times praises
the Abbé's conception of Christian realism, and then goes on to say:
"Here is found the key to the mystery of the ignorance of Jesus Christ,
and of the other limitations attributed to Him in the Gospels. There
are two untenable theories--the one that He deliberately kept things
back from His disciples; the other that He was Himself ignorant of
His own true nature, which afterwards became known to the Church. The
truth is that He had to reveal Himself by living among men, and not by
giving them an abstract doctrine about Himself--a doctrine which must
have been either inadequate because adjusted to their comprehension,
or else incomprehensible because adjusted to a reality which was
beyond them." The plain question, however, is--Had He, or had He not,
the attribute of Omniscience? Did He, or did He not, know what we now
know? Are we to suppose that He pretended to be ignorant? Was He God
or was He man? The usual answer is that, as Very Man, He had only the
knowledge of His age (or, should we not say, of the very restricted
environment selected by Himself for His activities upon earth?),
but that as Very God he performed miracles, taught spiritually, as
never man taught, and was sinless. This answer, however, would not
be accepted by the Venerable W. M. Sinclair, Archdeacon of London,
who conjectures that "when our Lord said, 'Greater works than these
shall ye do,' He was perhaps thinking of the marvellous discoveries
of surgeons and physicians in times of advanced science" [!]. [84]
Nor would it be accepted by the Rev. David Smith, who holds that
Jesus accommodated Himself to the popular idea, and "after His wont
fell in with the delusion" [!]. [85]

Surely an Omniscient God must have known that grave doubts would
arise in the future from the real or apparent ignorance of His Son,
and, vice versa, that any prescience shown by Him would be hailed
with delight as a proof of His divinity. If it be urged that such
trials of faith are useful, why should it be the thoughtful of future
generations who are chiefly to be so tried? If Christ had chosen His
disciples from among the "wise men of the East" (or West), instead
of from among men of the lowest order of intelligence and education,
there would then have been no necessity for the doctrine to "have
been either inadequate because adjusted to their comprehension,
or else incomprehensible because adjusted to a reality which was
beyond them." Only a very small and remote corner of the world was
favoured by the presence of God when revealing Himself in human form
for the benefit of mankind. Only the most ignorant, for the most
part, heard His personal teaching. Had He revealed Himself to all,
or to a far greater number of persons then living, and satisfied
the ardent longings of the wise men and philosophers of those times,
would this not have conduced to the rapid recognition of Christianity
and to its firm establishment over the whole world for all ages?

The tiny Sea of Galilee, the birthplace of the Gospel, is only
about twelve miles long and seven miles in its widest part, and
Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum were all situated close together
at the northern end. Here Jesus made his permanent home after His
fellow-townsmen at Nazareth had rejected Him; here He preached,
and here He performed many mighty works. Not till I had visited the
spot did I fully realise the insignificance of the area to which
the Saviour of mankind confined His ministry. Round the lake stood
such important cities as Tiberias and Taricheæ. They were studiously
avoided by Jesus. (This would account, perhaps, for their great men
hearing nothing of the new teaching, though hardly for their hearing
nothing of stupendous miracles performed at their very door.) The
cities of the Decapolis were also flourishing in this neighbourhood at
the time of Christ's ministry, and were the centre of great literary
activity. Gadara produced Philodemus the Epicurean, a contemporary of
Cicero; Meleager the epigrammatist; Menippus the satirist; Theodorus
the rhetorician, the tutor of Tiberius; and others. Gerasa, also,
was a mother of great teachers. In the words of George Adam Smith:
"Philodemus, Meleager, Menippus, Theodorus, were names of which one
end of the Lake of Galilee was proud, when Matthew, Peter, James,
and John were working at the other end." [86] If it be argued that
for some inscrutable reason God sent His Son only to the lost sheep of
the house of Israel and intended His preaching to reach the Gentiles
through the medium of His chosen people, why was such a learned and
pious Jew as Philo left out in the cold?

Apologists do not explain at all convincingly why the Almighty
could not, or preferred not to, make Himself understood. If He
could say "Let there be light," He could also have said "Let
there be knowledge." Besides, after all, what is there in the
broad facts of modern science which could not be explained to an
intelligent savage to-day? The shape and movements of the earth are
explained in the most elementary geography books, and the theory of
Evolution can be made quite clear to comparative children (I speak
from personal experience). Recent discoveries have revealed to us
that ancient nations must have reached an extraordinarily high state
of civilisation. Six thousand years ago, in the valley of the Nile,
there existed a standard of civilisation incomparably higher than that
of the Jews at the time when God is alleged to have selected them as
His chosen people. "The Old Testament," says Canon C. H. Robinson, "is
the history of a people insignificant in number, occupying a country
about the same size as the county of Yorkshire; remarkable neither for
their superior learning, civilisation, nor military power; remarkable,
if for anything, for their obstinate, grasping, usurious character;
who, nevertheless, were chosen out of all the nations of the ancient
world to be the recipients of peculiar blessings and favours." [87]
This incomprehensible selection of ignorant Jews to be the special
recipients of Revelation only emphasises the contention that we have
no right to assume that learned men of two thousand years ago could
not have understood plain facts, or that it was necessary for them to
believe in purely imaginary explanations of the cosmos, in a flat,
stationary earth, in a blue-basin sky, in an "Adam and Eve" origin,
in devil-possession, in absurd miracles, etc. Their ignorance, which
was natural enough considering their opportunities, could easily
have been dispelled when God graciously condescended to come and live
among them. What a proof would that not have been of His Divinity!

In any case, we are to understand that the Apostles were inspired by
the Holy Ghost, so that they might be able to work miracles and be
witnesses unto Christ, even to the utmost parts of the earth. Surely,
then, they could and should have been enlightened for their
mission work up to the level, say, of some of our twentieth-century
theologians? The miracle of an intelligence and knowledge equal
to that of the average modern apologist is not, after all, so very
inconceivable, and it would, at least, have been more useful than
miracle-working in a miracle-believing age. Christians, who glibly
admit that Jesus had only the knowledge of His age, cannot, I think,
fully realise the force of such an admission. One reason for this
may be that their own knowledge is not completely up to date. That
Jesus had no knowledge of nature's inviolable laws and shared many of
the gross superstitions prevalent around Him; that He accepted the
Scriptures as literally true, and not in the sense now attributed
to them by the Higher Critics; that He believed that He would come
again "in the clouds of heaven with power and great might," and that
the generation in which He lived would not pass away till this had
been fulfilled--of all this they may be dimly conscious; but what
remain still to be studied by them are the startling disclosures of
Comparative Mythology, and of the now fully-established theory of
Evolution, and their bearing upon the Christian Faith. The matter
is one of the utmost importance, as will be seen by a perusal of the
following chapters.


Chapter IV.


§ 1. The New Theological Theory of a Progressive Revelation.

The facts and truths established by Science are no longer made the
subject of attacks by Christian apologists in the manner that they
used to be; they are now considered by them to be the unfolding,
through God's Providence, of pieces of information hitherto concealed
from us. A scientific discovery (by men who are more often than not
Agnostics) simply means that God wills to reveal another detail of His
eternal methods. There must be, we are told, a frank modification,
or even the abandonment, of certain preconceived ideas which,
faulty as they were, had sufficed for man in an earlier stage of
his development, and had come to be regarded as integral parts of
his religious faith. This is the substance of the modern apologist's
argument which is intended to reconcile all outlying discrepancies
between our new knowledge and our old beliefs. The new explanation,
based upon the assumption that revelation is progressive, will
come as a surprise to the rank and file of Christendom, who have
hitherto been given to understand that the Bible contained the one,
only, and sufficient revelation of God to man. However, there is
no alternative. If accepted, many grave difficulties of faith are
swept away. Nay, more; the reasonableness of our faith is immensely
strengthened, and the facts of science and research become a valuable
adjunct to the armour of the Christian apologist. On the other hand,
a refusal to accept spells disaster to the Christian faith. The truth
of progressive revelation is, therefore, a matter of life or death
for the Christian religion; and, of all branches of modern research,
it is Comparative Mythology which absolutely demands the complete
establishment of this theory. If true, our belief is further verified
by the startling discoveries of the ethnologist; if untrue, it is
irrevocably shattered. Accordingly, in this chapter I am giving a
prominent place to the discussion of this theory.

I think I may safely say that there is no department of knowledge about
which so little is known by the ordinary man, and even, I regret to
say, by the majority of ecclesiastics, as Comparative Mythology. Yet
it is the study of this science perhaps more than of any other which is
causing well-informed men and women to lose faith in Christianity. Ask
Christian professors in our universities who are in touch with the
thought around them, and you will hear that their sceptical friends are
all telling them the same thing; they cannot get over anthropology,
and especially that branch of it which concerns itself with the
traditions and beliefs of primitive peoples. Recent ethnological
research has thrown an entirely new light upon old problems. The
discoveries of science, including the animal origin of man, may,
by a stretch of imagination and faith, be reconciled with belief;
so also the disclosures of the Higher Criticism; but the very origin
of Christianity is exposed by the study of Comparative Mythology. "It
is indeed a melancholy and in some respects thankless task to strike
at the foundations of beliefs in which, as in a strong tower, the
hopes and aspirations of humanity through long ages have sought a
refuge from the storm and stress of life. Yet sooner or later it is
inevitable that the battery of the comparative method should breach
these venerable walls, mantled over with the ivy and mosses and wild
flowers of a thousand tender and sacred associations." [88]

Some years ago there were ecclesiastics who took a lively interest
in Comparative Mythology. Students of Pagan religions as well as
Christian missionaries were bent on discovering more striking and
more startling coincidences in order to use them in confirmation
of their favourite theory that some rays of a primeval revelation,
or some reflection of the Jewish religion, had reached the uttermost
ends of the world. Subsequently the study of comparative mythology
seems to have lost much of its charm. Why?

"The theory that there was a primeval preternatural revelation granted
to the fathers of the human race, and that the grains of truth which
catch our eye when exploring the temples of heathen gods are the
scattered fragments of that sacred heirloom--the seeds that fell by the
wayside or upon stony places--would find but few supporters at present;
no more, in fact, than the theory that there was in the beginning
one complete and perfect primeval language, broken up in later times
into the numberless languages of the world." "The opinion," again,
"that the Pagan religions were mere corruptions of the religion of
the Old Testament, once supported by men of high authority and great
learning, is now as completely surrendered as the attempts to explain
Greek and Latin as corruptions of Hebrew." [89]

It will be as well, in the first place, to see exactly what the
Church herself now says on the matter; how far she recognises that
gigantic strides have been made in a study formerly pursued in a manner
necessarily elementary by the Alexandrian schools; how far she concedes
the conclusions of the modern ethnologist; and how far she approves
of progressive revelation as the explanation for the whole enigma of
the parallels between ancient beliefs and our own. For this purpose
I think I cannot do better than quote from two striking articles on
the subject in the Church Times. They were contributed by the editor
of The Treasury magazine. "The study," he says, "of folk-lore, of
anthropology, of primitive myth and ritual, has made enormous strides
within the last quarter of a century, and the fruits of that study
are now forced, for the first time, [90] upon the attention of the
general public. Presented in outline, the situation is as follows:
We have been accustomed to consider Christianity apart from all other
religions. We have recognised, indeed, the historical preparation
for it so far as that is described in the pages of the Old Testament;
but we have thought of that preparation as conducted among a single
people, and by means of a unique revelation. Of pagan religions we have
known practically nothing. The mythology of the Greeks and Romans,
which some of us had to learn at school, seemed to be a collection
of pointless fairy tales. And as regards other and more primitive
races, both ancient and modern, the statement that 'the heathen,
in his blindness, bows down to wood and stone' comprised accurately
the sum of our knowledge. That there could be any but the vaguest
likeness between them and our own beliefs was unimaginable. Possibly
there was a belief in the Fatherhood of some supreme being, some vague
conception of a future life; while sacrificial rites, as we knew,
were not peculiar to the Jews. But the other doctrines of our Creed
we regarded as exclusively our own. The ideas of a Triune God-head,
of an Incarnate Saviour, of the Virgin Birth, of the Second Advent,
of the Sacraments, of the Communion of Saints--these seemed to
be the distinctive possessions of Christianity; these were marks
clearly dividing it from any form of paganism. So, at least, we
imagined. [Had we not every reason thus to imagine on the authority of
Holy Scripture?] But it proves that we were completely mistaken. The
modern study of primitive religion shows that every one of these
beliefs is, or has been, held in some part or other of the pagan world
quite independently of Christian influence, and that, while we are
bound to speak of these beliefs as, in a sense, distinctly Christian,
to term them exclusively Christian is no longer possible.... In
these early mythologies we can discern the longing for a personal
God, capable of direct communication with man, and for some sort of
union between the divine and human natures. Whence did these instincts
themselves originate? The one tenable reply seems to be that they were
God-implanted.... The Zoroastrian anticipates the advent of a 'Saviour'
(Saoshyas), who will end the strife between good and evil, personified
as Ormuzd and Ahriman, by sweeping away evil from the earth. In the
ancient Vedic and Scandinavian religions, in the Old-World creeds of
Egypt and Babylon, in the legends of Mexico and Polynesia, is found,
in a variety of guises, the same fundamental idea. Always there
is a sense of a supremely righteous Power; of a world tainted with
evil, and out of harmony with the Power above it; of the coming of
some Deliverer, who will establish a kingdom of righteousness. Once
more, in many mythologies the idea of a Virgin Birth is associated
with that of a Divine Incarnation. Men felt instinctively that the
entrance of a Divine Being into the human race must take place in
a miraculous way. And thus the Spirit of God, working by means of
what we may term the instinctive feelings of mankind, prepared the
human race throughout the world for the coming of the Son of God, to
be born of a pure Virgin, to take our nature upon Him for evermore,
and to redeem us from the power of sin.... We find conceptions, such
as that of the Hindu Trimurti, which seem to remember the doctrine
of the Trinity. In the sacramental meals of totem-worship, when a
sacred animal is killed, and partaken of by the worshippers in order
that its power may be communicated to them [not to mention "sacred"
men killed with the same idea], there seems a dim anticipation of
the highest Christian rite. Baptism as a cleansing and symbolical
ceremony was known centuries before the Christian era.... These rites
and beliefs, obscured by superstition and insufficient to satisfy
the longing which brought them into existence, were designed to serve
as the schoolmasters who would lead the heathen at length to Christ"
(cf. Galatians iii. 24).

These remarks, by a clergyman of the Church of England, will enable
the ordinary person, who for the most part knows nothing whatever
about these things, to realise the immense importance of the questions
raised by Comparative Mythology.

§ 2. Parallels in Ancient Religions, and Some Remarks Upon Them.

Before proceeding any further, it will be advisable to consider some
concrete examples of the parallels between the beliefs and teachings
of ancient religions and those of the Christian religion.


Krishna.--Krishna was a miraculous incarnation of Vishnu in the
womb of Devaki. A chorus of angels exclaimed: "In the delivery of
this favoured woman nature shall have cause to exult." The birth
was indicated in the heavens by a star. On the morning of his birth
the spirits of heaven danced and sang, and the clouds emitted low,
pleasing sounds. Though royally descended, he was actually born in a
cave. [91] The divine child was recognised and adored by cowherds. He
was presented with gifts of sandalwood and perfumes. The holy Indian
prophet, Nared, paid him a visit, consulted the stars and declared
him to be of celestial descent. His birth was beset by peril, and his
foster father was warned by a heavenly voice to fly with the child,
as the reigning monarch, King Kansa, might take his life. The king
ordered the massacre in all his States of all the male children born
during the night of the birth of Krishna. One of the first miracles
performed by Krishna, when mature, was the curing of a leper. A lame
woman came with a vessel filled with spices and sweet oil, and anointed
his head. Krishna was slain. At his death a black circle surrounded the
moon, and the sun was darkened at noonday. Spirits were to be seen on
all sides. Krishna descended into hell, rose again from the dead, and
ascended bodily into heaven, many persons witnessing his ascent. He
is to come again on earth in the latter days. He will appear as an
armed warrior riding a white horse. At his approach the sun and moon
will be darkened, the earth will tremble, and the stars fall from the
firmament (compare Rev. vi. 2, 12, 13). He is to judge the dead at the
last day. Krishna is the Creator of all things visible and invisible,
and is the beginning, middle, and end of all things. Krishna was
transfigured before his beloved disciple, Arjuna. Krishna was the
meekest of beings. He preached sublimely. According to the purer
Vaishnava faith, he was pure and chaste in reality; any amorousness
related of him is to be explained allegorically, as symbolising
the longing of the human soul for the Supreme; just as the amorous
"Song of Solomon" is said to be allegorical, and to mean "Christ's
love for his Church." Krishna even condescended to wash the feet of
the Brahmins. He is the incarnation of Vishnu, the second person in
the Hindoo Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva; and Vishnu in his
incarnations is a saviour, protector, and friend. Krishna said: "Let
a man, if seeking God by deep abstraction, abandon his possessions and
his hopes, betake himself to some secluded spot, and fix his heart and
thoughts on God alone." And, again: "Then be not sorrowful; from all
thy sins I will deliver thee." Many other such remarkable passages
might be adduced from the Bhagavad-gita. Justice, humanity, good
faith, compassion, disinterestedness--in fact, all the virtues--are
said to have been taught by Krishna, both by precept and example;
but we must remember, as Monier Williams informs us in his Hinduism,
that Krishna, in the ancient epic poems, is simply a great hero, and
it is not until about the fourth century B.C. that he is deified and
declared to be an incarnation of Vishnu. In conclusion, the accounts
of Krishna's childhood agree very closely with the apocryphal accounts
of Christ's childhood.

Buddha.--If the similarity between the histories of Krishna and Jesus
is remarkable, what shall we say of that between the mythological
[92] portions of the history of Gautama Buddha and the history of
Jesus? Looked upon as a confirmation of Progressive Revelation, it
is nothing short of marvellous, whether we regard the similarity
in events, characters, actions, or sayings. From Buddha's divine
incarnation until his ascension into the celestial regions,
almost every important episode of the life of Christ appears to
be paralleled. Attendant miraculous events, spotless character,
wonderful doings, cherished sayings--all are here.

Buddha was miraculously [93] born of the pure and holy Maya. He
descended into her womb from heaven in a spiritual manner. There
was joy in heaven, the Devas singing: "To-day Bodhisatwa is born on
earth, to give joy and peace to men and Devas." He was recognised by
the aged and devout Asita as the perfect Buddha come to the world for
its salvation. His life was threatened by the King Bimbisara, who was
advised to destroy the child. He was presented in the temple. When
still a mere child he was found to be as proficient as his masters,
and he disputed with learned doctors. His ancestry was traced from
his father to Maha Sammata, the first monarch of the world. He bathed
in water, the spirits making their presence known as he did so. When
about to adopt a religious life, he fasted for a long time, and was
tempted by Mara, the author of Evil; but he heeded not the words
of the Evil One, and bade him depart from him. The heavens showed
their appreciation of this defeat by raining flowers. Towards the end
of his life he was transfigured when on a mountain in India called
Pandava. He performed great miracles. For instance, on one occasion he
floated through the air across a river; and, on another, he caused a
tempest to cease, and so saved a disciple, who was in imminent danger
of shipwreck. Shortly before his death a weeping woman embraced his
feet. When Buddha died many miracles occurred. The coffin was opened,
and the body uncovered, supernaturally. He promised that another
Buddha would be sent to them. He foretold his departure, and after
death entered Nirvana. He was very early regarded as omniscient and
absolutely sinless. Earth and heaven did homage to him at birth and
death. A great earthquake occurred at his Temptation. He is represented
as saying: "Let all the sins that are committed in the world fall
upon me, that the world may be delivered"; and again: "Hide your good
deeds, and confess before the world the sins you have committed";
and again: "Though the great world be swallowed up and pass away,
yet be assured the words of Buddha are true"; and again: "Beware of
fixing your eyes upon women"; "A wise man should avoid unchaste life,
as if it were a burning pit of live coals"; "One who is not able to
live in a state of celibacy should not commit adultery." According to
Buddha, the motives of all our actions should be pity, or love for our
neighbour. Those who became his disciples were told they must renounce
the world, give up their riches, and take the vow of poverty. Finally,
we should note that Buddha aimed to establish a "Kingdom of Heaven"
(Dharmachakra); that the account given by St. Peter (Ep. ii., ch. 3) of
the earth once destroyed by water, and about to be destroyed by fire,
is in agreement with the Buddhist story; and that the Jews believed
in the pre-existence of souls and a modified form of metempsychosis
(transmigration of the soul).

It is difficult to separate fiction from fact; but the generally
accepted records show that, together with superior natural endowments,
Gautama Buddha attained to an exceptional purity of life and integrity
of purpose. Probably he never arrogated to himself any higher authority
than that of a teacher; but his followers, turning for consolation
to the theory that he still lived, exalted him, within a quarter of
a century of his death, to a place among their deities. As already
mentioned, he was very early regarded as omniscient and absolutely
sinless. [94] All sorts of legends, borrowed from current myths,
attach themselves to the story of his life, while his teaching as a
simple-hearted, truth-seeking philanthropist became encrusted with
the superstitions and religious speculations that were current. As
with Krishna, so here there are stories of Buddha's childhood of
which the apocryphal stories of Christ's childhood are an almost
exact reproduction.


In the case of Krishna and Buddha it is contended by some Christian
writers that the stories must have been borrowed from Christian
sources both canonical and apocryphal. This contention, founded on the
lateness of the mythical stories in literary form, will be considered
in due course; but first let us have clearly before our minds those
parallels concerning which there is no such contention, for the simple
reason that there is no getting away from the fact that the beliefs
existed long before the advent of Christ. In ancient religions other
than Hindooism and Buddhism, there are, among many others, distinct
parallels to--the Virgin Birth; the Heavenly Choir; the Epiphany;
the Slaughter of the Innocents; the Temptation and Forty Days' Fast;
the Miracles; the Crucifixion Darkness, and Descent into Hell; the
Resurrection and Ascension; the Second Coming and Day of Judgment.

The Virgin Birth.--According to Chinese legends, the sages Fohi
(? 3468 B.C.) and Lao-Kiun (about 600 B.C.) were born of virgins. Dean
Milman mentions in his History of Christianity that the first
Jesuit missionaries who went to China were appalled at finding in the
mythology of that country a counterpart of the story of the Virgin. In
Persia, Zoroaster, [95] the founder of the Perso-Iranian national
religion, was miraculously conceived. All attempts to connect him
with Hebrew influences are groundless. In Egypt, Horus, who had the
epithet of Saviour, was born of the virgin Isis. The Egyptian Bible,
remember, is the oldest in the world! Plutarch mentions the notion
of the Egyptians that a woman might conceive by the approach of some
divine spirit. Egyptian monuments represent the infant saviour in
the arms of his virgin mother, or sitting on her knee. The image
of the child was worshipped just as the Bambino is worshipped in
Rome to-day. Women then, as now, believed in its efficacy for their
relief in time of nature's sorrows. In Grecian and Roman mythology
the "Sons of Jove"--Hercules, Bacchus, Amphion, Perseus, Mercury,
Æolus, Apollo, and others--have mortal mothers. Speaking of this,
the Christian Father, Justin Martyr, declared that the myths regarding
the multitude of sons of gods, and especially the myth regarding the
virgin's son Perseus, had been invented by the demons in order to rob
the manifestation of Jesus, the true Son of God, of its importance. He
also insisted that, with their doctrine of the Virgin-birth of Jesus,
of His passion, and of His ascension, the Christians were affirming
nothing new as compared with what was alleged of the so-called
sons of Zeus. [96] Even regarding Plato there was a legend that his
mother, Perictione, had experienced a miraculous conception through
the influences of the God Apollo, and that the God had declared to
Aris, to whom she was betrothed, the parentage of the child (compare
St. Matthew i. 20). This was believed in by the disciples of Plato
centuries before the Christian era. Among northern nations the sons
of Odin take the place of the sons of Jove. Thus "Baldur the Good,"
the Beneficent Saviour, was the son of Odin and Friga. The worship of
Friga was continued until that of the Virgin Mary took its place. In
Mexico, the "Saviour" Quetzalcoatl was born of a pure virgin, who was
called the "Queen of Heaven." An ambassador from heaven announced
to the virgin Sochiquetzal, mother of Quetzalcoatl, that it was
the will of God that she should conceive a son without connection
with man. Here we have an exact parallel to the annunciation of the
Virgin Mary (St. Luke i. 26-35), in a part of the globe that was not
discovered by Christians till nearly 1,500 years after the birth of
Christ! Similar traditions of Saviours are found among various tribes
of North and South America.

Regarding the tendency to believe in incarnations, Dr. Illingworth
[97] explains that "a general tendency in the human mind to expect
a thing cannot possibly be twisted into a presumption against its
occurrence.... The fact of the expectation does not logically make
invention a likelier alternative than occurrence, except upon one
hypothesis--namely, that the occurrence is impossible." This argument
skims over--or, I might almost say, neglects--the real contention of
the Rationalist. Let us assume that incarnation is not ruled out of
court as being à priori impossible; the virgin-birth of Jesus was
subsequently invented by the Christian Church because its eminent
suitability necessitated its invention. Only thus could the divinity
and sinlessness of Jesus Christ be firmly established. More especially
would this be the case in an age when everyone was familiar with the
notion of virgin-born Saviours. The minds of men were deeply imbued
with the idea of miraculous birth in the case of anyone claiming to
be of divine origin. Only on this understanding would the heathen,
already believing in their own virgin-born Saviours, have accepted

The Heavenly Choir.--Even Confucius, the celebrated philosopher
(born 551 B.C.), was ushered into the world with dragons and angels
hovering about the couch, and with the sound of heavenly music in the
air. At the birth of Osiris, the father of Horus, another Egyptian
"Saviour," a voice was heard proclaiming that the "Ruler of all the
earth is born." There was joy in Olympus when Apollo was born, and at
the time of the birth of Hercules his father Zeus spake from heaven,
and said: "This day shall a child be born of the race of Perseus,
who shall be the mightiest of the sons of men."

The Epiphany.--Legends of the coming of wise men to see an infant
grew up in various places. Krishna was visited by sages who brought
perfumes. Confucius has a somewhat similar legend, and one occurs
even in connection with the birth of Plato.

The Slaughter of the Innocents.--The story of the "dangerous child"
is almost universal. Horus, Zoroaster, and Bacchus, for example, were
"dangerous" children.

The Forty Days' Fast and the Temptation.--According to Pliny,
Zoroaster lived for thirty years in the wilderness upon cheese. The
Devil made Zoroaster magnificent promises; but the temptations
were in vain. The ancient Persians had a religious festival, which
they annually celebrated, called the "Salutation of Mithras (the
sun-god)," and during it forty days were set apart for sacrifice
and thanksgiving. Among the ancient Egyptians the priest submitted to
abstinence of the most severe description. "The priests in Heliopolis,"
says Plutarch, "have many fasts, during which they meditate upon
divine things." Fasting and self-denial were observances required
of the Greeks who desired initiation into the mysteries. The same
practice was found among the ancient Mexicans and Peruvians. The
Mexicans had a forty days' fast, in memory of Quetzalcoatl, who was
tempted and fasted forty days on a mountain. Lord Kingsborough says:
"The temptation of Quetzalcoatl and the fast of forty days ... are very
curious and mysterious." [98] Mr. Bonwick says: "The Spaniards were
surprised to see the Mexicans keep the vernal forty days' fast." [99]

Turning to the Old Testament, we may remind ourselves that Moses
went up into a mountain to receive certain instructions from God,
and "was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights, and he did
neither eat bread nor drink water." On a second occasion, when he
received the Ten Commandments, he was again with the Lord forty days
and forty nights, and did neither eat bread nor drink water. Elijah
fled to the desert, where an angel gave him cake and water, and in
the strength of that meat he went for forty days without food. The
number "forty" occurs over and over again in that portion of the Old
Testament which the Higher Criticism has shown to be unhistorical. The
Rationalist avers that the number "forty" is mythological, and that
we have this story of the Forty Days' Fast and the Temptation in the
New Testament because the writer wishes to show that Jesus Christ was
proof against all temptation; that He, too, as well as other Christs,
could resist the powers of the Prince of Evil. It may be urged that
in all these cases the number is quite immaterial. Are we not, then,
to take the author of "The Acts" literally when he informs us that
Christ spent forty days on earth after His resurrection?

The Miracles.--Not only Krishna and Buddha, but all leaders
of religious movements, had the reputation of having performed
miracles. Religions were established as much by the miracles as by
the preachings. Miracles were needed in those days on all special
occasions. Many of them are attested in the gravest manner by
the gravest writers, and were firmly believed at the time by the
people. Healing miracles, such as those performed by Jesus, were the
commonest of all. The Gospel miracles are in no respect singular
or more wonderful. Horus, as well as Krishna, raised the dead to
life. Bacchus changed water into wine. Æsculapius not only cured the
sick, but raised the dead. Pausanias, the eminent Greek geographer
and historian, writes that in the temple of Æsculapius at Epidaurus
there was an old pillar dedicated to the memory of Hippolytus,
who had been raised from the dead. [100] Apollonius of Tyana was
celebrated for the wonderful miracles he performed. He caused a devil
to depart out of a youth, and he restored a dead maiden to life. The
Christian Fathers inform us that Simon Magus, with the Devil's aid,
could make his appearance wherever he pleased at any moment; could
poise himself in the air; produce trees from the earth suddenly
[the mango tree trick?]; fling himself from high precipices unhurt
[the very feat suggested by the Devil in the Temptation]; and walk
through the streets accompanied by spirits of the dead. Tacitus, the
celebrated Roman historian, tells us that the Emperor Vespasian (born
9 A.D.) performed wonderful miracles for the good of mankind, and among
others he describes the cure of a blind man with the emperor's spittle.

The Atonement.--In China the Holy One (Tien) dies to save the
world. "The sufferings and death of Osiris were the great mystery of
the Egyptian religion. His being the divine goodness, and the abstract
idea of 'good,' his manifestation upon earth (like an Indian god),
his death and resurrection, and his office as judge of the dead in a
future life, look like the early revelation of a future manifestation
of the deity converted into a mythological fable." [101] While Osiris
is the judge, Horus, his son, is the mediator. In the Judgment scene
in the Book of the Dead, Horus, the son of Isis, leads the deceased,
after his heart has been weighed, into the presence of Osiris (see
Papyrus of Ani, plates 3 & 4). Mithras, the sun-god of the Persians,
was a "Mediator" between God and men--the "Saviour," who, by his
laborious conflicts, worked their salvation. He was also called the
"Word." Attys, called the "Only Begotten Son" and the "Saviour," was
worshipped by the Phrygians, and represented by them as a man tied or
nailed to a tree. Adonis was another virgin-born "Saviour" who suffered
for mankind. The yearly festival of Adonis in the spring was a special
favourite with women. In the Old Testament reference is made to the
weeping of the women over Tammuz, the Babylonian equivalent of Adonis
(Ezekiel viii. 14). According to the Rev. Sir G. W. Cox, [102] he was
the crucified Tao (divine love personified). The Rev. Dr. Parkhurst,
in the chapter on the Resurrection in his Hebrew lexicon, says:
"I find myself obliged to refer Tammuz to that class of idols which
were originally designed to represent the promised Saviour, the
desire of all nations." Prometheus was a Saviour who suffered the
most fearful tortures as the friend of the human race. Æschylus's
tragedy, Prometheus Vinctus, was acted in Athens five hundred years
before the Christian era. Even Bacchus, whom most of us think of as
the rollicking wine-god of classical mythology, was a slain Saviour.

When we turn to the New World we find the worship of a crucified
Saviour among the ancient Mexicans and Peruvians. Lord Kingsborough
tells us that, according to the belief of the ancient Mexicans, "the
death of Quetzalcoatl upon the cross" was "an atonement for the sins of
mankind." [103] Dr. Daniel Brinton relates how the Aztecs had a feast
which they celebrated in the early spring, when "victims were nailed
to a cross and shot with an arrow." [104] Alexander von Humboldt, in
his American Researches, also speaks of a feast, at which the Mexicans
crucified a man and pierced him with an arrow. The Rev. J. P. Lundy,
speaking of this, says: "Here is the old story of Prometheus crucified
on the Caucasus, and of all other pagan crucifixions of the young
incarnate divinities of India, Persia, Asia Minor, and Egypt." [105]

Moral Teaching.--There is not only an extraordinary similarity in
beliefs, but also in moral teachings. The teachings of Confucius,
Mencius, and Wang Yang Ming might, as Professor Nitobe points
out, [106] just as well be considered plagiarisms from the Divine
library, for they furnish numerous remarkable parallels to the New
Testament teaching. Taoism, the philosophy of Laotze, for a long
time successfully rivalled the more utilitarian system of Confucius,
and its close agreement with many of the teachings of Christ is most
noticeable. The morals of the ancient Egyptians are clearly set forth
in the Book of the Dead, which came into use after 2000 B.C. They
indicate a far higher standard than existed in Israel in David's
time. "Yet," as Dr. Callaway remarks, [107] "in traditions which
still linger among us, the law under which David lived and reigned
was perfect and divine; while the name of Egypt stands for darkness
and sin."

With regard to the parallels in the moral teaching, Dean Farrar,
in his work, Seekers after God, has clearly shown that "to say that
pagan morality kindled its faded taper at the Gospel light, whether
furtively or unconsciously, that it dissembled the obligation and
made a boast of the splendour, as if it were originally her own,
is to make an assertion wholly untenable." He points out that the
attempts of the Christian Fathers to make out Pythagoras a debtor
to Hebraic wisdom, Plato an "Atticising Moses," Aristotle a learner
of ethics from a Jew, Seneca a correspondent of St. Paul, were due
"in some cases to ignorance, in some to a want of perfect honesty in
controversial dealing."

Apocryphal Gospels.--We are assured by Christian writers that the
parallels between the accounts of Krishna's and Buddha's childhood
and those in the apocryphal gospels of Christ's childhood are due
to the Hindoos having borrowed legends current among the early
Christians. Dr. Wallis Budge, the keeper of Egyptian and Assyrian
antiquities in the British Museum, informs us, however, that "several
of the incidents of the wanderings of the Virgin with the child
in Egypt, as recorded in the Apocryphal Gospels, reflect scenes in
the life of Isis as described in the texts found on the Metternich
Stele." [108] And, again, he says: "In the apocryphal literature of
the first six centuries which followed the evangelisation of Egypt,
several of the legends about Isis and her sorrowful wanderings were
made to centre round the mother of Christ." [109] The evidence is
conclusive that certain legends prevalent among the early Christians
were borrowed from the ancient Egyptian religion; yet we are to
believe that where the Krishna and Buddha parallels are concerned the
borrowing process was the other way! So be it. Let us suppose that
certain Egyptian superstitions reached the Hindoo through the medium
of the Christian; the fact remains that beliefs once held by devout
but unlettered Christians have a heathen origin. This is of serious
import, for it lends weight to the suspicion that the marvellous tales
in the canonical gospels have been similarly derived from heathen
legends--legends from which some of the more glaring absurdities and
all that would mar the ethical ideals of the Christian religion were
eclectically expunged.


I have indicated a few of the more striking parallels in other
religions besides Krishnaism and Buddhism. Did space permit, it
could be shown that there are also parallels to the teaching of
Christ, the darkness at the Crucifixion, the descent into Hell,
the Resurrection, the claim of Jesus Christ to be "Alpha and Omega"
(according to the Revelation of St. John), the prophecy of the
Second Coming, the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the doctrine
of the Trinity, the worship of the Blessed Virgin, the Christian
symbols (cross, triangle, I.H.S., fish, serpent, dove, and lamb). I
cannot understand what the Christian cause can gain by ascribing the
parallels in Hindoo mythology to Christian sources, when there is all
this mass of evidence for parallels that are quite as extraordinary
(though less numerous) in those ancient religions where the priority
to Christianity cannot reasonably be denied. Certainly the Krishna
and Buddha parallels are extremely numerous and strikingly exact;
but a policy which seeks to explain them in a different manner from
that adopted in the case of the same phenomena in other religions,
while it serves to confirm the suspicions of the sceptic, is doomed
eventually to failure. This being so, it is unnecessary, I think,
to enter at any great length into the controversy.

In Mr. J. M. Robertson's book, Christianity and Mythology, there
is a scholarly investigation from which I extract the following
leading points [110]:--Hindoos, as Professor Tiele urges, could
perfectly well have borrowed, if they did borrow, from Egypt before
Christianity was heard of. There is hardly a leading detail in the
Krishna birth legend which is not variously paralleled in other early
non-Christian mythology. The more we collate the main Christian
myth-notions with those of Krishnaism, the more clearly does it
appear that, instead of the latter being borrowed from the former,
they are, not indeed the originals from which Christianity borrowed,
but always presumptively the more ancient, and in one or two cases they
do appear to be the actual sources of Gospel stories. The lateness
of the Purânic stories in literary form is no argument against their
antiquity. Scholars are agreed that late documents often preserve
extremely old myth-material. The leading elements in the Krishna myth
are inexplicable save on the view that the cultus is ancient. The
close coincidences in the legends of Krishna and Buddha are to be
explained in terms of borrowing by the latter from the former, and
not vice versa. I should add here that the denial of the "Christian
accretions" theory does not convey also the implication that the Bible
story was borrowed from the Krishna and Buddha myths. On the contrary,
the strong probability is that there has been little or no borrowing
either way--that there is a common source for both in earlier Aryan
and Semitic myths.

In the Introduction to his standard work, The Romantic History
of Buddha, [111] Mr. Beal refers to the legends concerning
the pre-existence of Buddha in heaven--his miraculous
incarnation--salutation by angels--recognition by Asita
(Simeon)--presentation in the Temple--baptism by fire and
water--disputation with doctors--temptation in the wilderness--life
passed in preaching and working miracles, etc.--and frankly admits
that, "if we could prove that they were unknown in the East for
some centuries after Christ, the explanation would be easy; but
all the evidence we have goes to prove the contrary." Regarding the
parallelisms with the Apocryphal Gospels, he says: "It would be a
natural inference that many of the events in the legend of Buddha
were borrowed from the Apocryphal Gospels (compare, for example, the
Gospel of the Infancy, chap. xx.: 'Our Lord learning his alphabet,'
with the account given in chap. xi. of this volume), if we were quite
certain that these Apocryphal Gospels had not borrowed from it." In
his later work, Buddhist Literature, Mr. Beal modifies his position.

Neither Max Müller in his Introduction to the Science of Religion, nor
Forlong in his Short Studies of the Science of Comparative Religions,
nor Senart in his learned work, La Légende du Buddha, nor Seydel in
his Evangelium von Jesu and his Buddha Legends, nor Pfleiderer in his
Urchristentum, supports the theory of Christian accretions. Bunsen, in
his Angel-Messiah, maintains (p. 18) "that, according to Sanscrit and
Chinese scriptures and the stone-cut edicts of Asoka and the Senchi
Tope, certain legends about Buddha circulated in India and China,
not only before the apostolic age, but more than three centuries
earlier," and that "among these legends the most ancient are those
which refer to the incarnation of Buddha as the Angel Messiah."

On page 10 of Rhys Davids' well-known little work, Buddhism (published
under the direction of the S.P.C.K.), we read: "There is every reason
to believe that the Pitakas now extant in Ceylon are substantially
identical with the books of the Orthodox Canon, as settled at the
Council of Patna about the year 250 B.C. As no works would have been
received into the canon which were not then believed to be very old,
the Pitakas may be approximately placed in the fourth century B.C.,
and parts of them possibly read back very nearly, if not quite,
to the time of Gautama himself." On page 15 it is explained that,
when the statements in the Sanscrit and Pali texts agree, the greatest
reliance may be placed upon them, "not indeed as to the actual facts of
Gautama's life, but as to the belief of the early Buddhists concerning
it." Professor Rhys Davids enumerates the more important of these
early beliefs, and they include many of the startling coincidences
which I have noticed. The later beliefs he passes over for the most
part in silence; but, speaking generally, he is of opinion that the
greater portion, if not all, of the legends could be explained by
hero-worship, mere poetical imagery, misapprehension, the desire
to edify, applications to Gautama of previously existing stories or
sun-myths, and so on. Nowhere does he state or imply that in any of
the legends, early or late, there can be any application to Gautama
of the Gospel stories of the life of Christ; while he considers
M. Senart's theory of the almost complete dependence of the Buddha
legends on solar myths "most interesting." Now, it is just those
very ideas of virgin-birth, resurrection, and ascension appearing
in the later legends which were nothing more nor less than solar
myths. In any case, whatever their origin, they were world-wide very
many centuries before the Christian era; so any argument from the
lateness of these legends is founded upon sand. In his Buddhism,
as also in his article on Buddhism in the Encyclopædia Britannica,
the Professor steers clear of the question of the parallels; but in
his Buddhist Suttas, translated by him from the Pali and appearing in
the "Sacred Books of the East" series, we read (in the Introduction,
p. 165) that while he "ventures to disagree with writers who argue that
the resemblances in the Pali Pitakas and passages in the New Testament
indicate that the New Testament as the later must be borrowed," he
holds that the resemblance is due not to any borrowing on the one
side or the other, but "solely to the similarity of the conditions
under which the two movements grew" [and, the Rationalist would add,
a similarity in the myths afloat is a part, and a very essential part,
of the similarity of the conditions].

So also with regard to the lateness of the Krishna legends in literary
form, it is futile to argue that they are, to use a familiar term,
cribbed from the canonical and apocryphal gospels, when most of them
are obviously plagiarisms of the ancient sun-myths. The Rev. Sir
G. W. Cox, speaking on this subject in his Aryan Mythology, says:
"There is no more room for inferring foreign influence in the growth
of any of these myths than, as Bunsen rightly insists, there is room
for tracing Christian influence in the early epical literature of the
Teutonic tribes. Practically the myths of Krishna seem to have been
fully developed in the days of Megasthenes (fourth century B.C.), who
identifies him with the Greek Hercules." [Megasthenes wrote a work
on India, which was the chief source of the later Greek information
on the subject.] Professor Monier Williams, the accepted authority
on Hinduism, writing for the S.P.G., in his book, Indian Wisdom,
and speaking of the Bhagavad-gita, says: "It may reasonably be
questioned whether there could have been any actual contact of the
Hindoo system with Christianity without a more satisfactory result
in the modification of Pantheistic and anti-Christian ideas." Again,
he says: "The religious creeds, rites, customs, and habits of thought
of the Hindoos generally had altered little since the days of Menu, 500
years B.C." In his Hinduism (p. 19) he shows that "we may be justified
in assuming that the hymns of the Veda were probably composed by a
succession of poets at different dates between 1500 and 1000 years
B.C." This is an important concession, because the ancient hymns of
the Veda furnish the germs of those sun-myths which tell of the death,
resurrection, and ascension of a virgin-born saviour.

Whatever may be thought of the conclusions of the highest authorities
regarding Krishnaistic and Buddhistic beliefs, I hope I may have so far
carried the reader with me that he will be prepared to admit that there
are very many striking resemblances to the Gospel stories in those
ancient beliefs whose priority to Christianity is not disputed. Now
that these resemblances are no longer attributed to a device of the
Evil One, an explanation for them is urgently required. The explanation
from the Christian side is the theory of a Progressive Revelation;
and, apparently, there can be no other, if Christianity be true. The
reader has been put in possession of a few details of the remarkable
parallels, and he should apply this theory for himself to each and
all of them, and see whether it furnishes a fair working hypothesis,
whether his mind can accept the explanation now offered to him, and,
I might almost add, whether he can honestly continue to call himself
a Christian believer. Let him ask himself which is the more probable,
that in the common mythos we have marvellous anticipations of the Bible
stories, or that in the latter we have reproductions of the former?

§ 3. Parallels in the Beliefs of Primitive Man, and some Remarks
Upon Them.

I must ask the reader's patience if I postpone my final remarks on
Progressive Revelation until I have adduced some illustrations of
the beliefs and customs of primitive man, as here also this same
theory has to apply. Thus far the pagan beliefs have appeared to
be of a comparatively harmless character; but this can by no means
be said of the beliefs of savage man. He does not confine himself,
like his more civilised brother, to mystical beliefs in Saviours who
once upon a time suffered for him, and whose body and blood are to be
symbolically assimilated; but, being of a realistic (or shall we say
materialistic?) turn of mind, he prefers (the inevitable result of a
restricted intellectual development) [112] to satisfy his religious
emotions with the spectacle of a real human-divine sufferer, and by a
sacrificial feast of real flesh and blood. Can this be God's method
of revealing Himself? True, the religious convictions of civilised
man have been a fruitful source of human agony, both physical and
mental, in many a bloody fight and massacre, in cruel and relentless
persecutions, in every refinement of excruciating torture and pitiable
distress to body and mind; but it is possible to gloze over all this
with various specious arguments. It is not so easy to do so with
examples drawn from the history of savage races. The only thing
is that so few have ever had these examples brought before them,
or, at least, have ever thought of connecting them with anything
that has to do with the truth of Christianity. I shall, therefore,
now give some illustrations of the beliefs and customs of primitive
man. A vivid description may succeed in convincing the reader of
the absurdity of the new theory, where mere vague ideas of savage
ritual would fail. "Of the human sacrifices of rude peoples, those
of the Mexicans are perhaps the most instructive, for in them the
theanthropic character of the victim comes out most clearly." [113]
"When we go to the records of the cultures and creeds of Mexico and
Peru, records wonderfully preserved in the teeth of the fanaticism
which would have destroyed them all if it could, we stand clear of
the frauds and prejudices alike of Jew and Christian.... We are faced
by a civilisation and a religion that reached wealth and complexity
by normal evolution from the stages of early savagery and barbarism
without ever coming in contact with those of Europe till the moment
of collision and destruction." [114] We shall begin, therefore,
with the ancient American.


"Terrible was the prestige of the priesthood of Mexico. The greater
the State grew, the larger were the hecatombs of human victims. Almost
every god had to be propitiated in the same way; but above all must
the war-god be for ever glutted with the smoking hearts of slain
captives. Scarcely any historian, says Prescott, estimates the number
of human beings sacrificed yearly throughout the Empire at less than
20,000, and some make it 50,000. The Franciscan monks computed that
2,500 victims were annually sacrificed in the town and district of
Mexico alone. Of this doomed host, Huitzilopochtli had the lion's
share; and it is recorded that at the dedication of his great new
temple A.D. 1486 [that is to say, nearly 1,500 years after God was
pleased to reveal Himself definitely to mankind] there were slain in
his honour 70,000 prisoners of war, who had been reserved for the
purpose for years throughout the Empire. They formed a train two
miles long, and the work of priestly butchery went on for several
days." [115]

"At every festival of the God there was a new hecatomb of victims,
and we may conceive how the chronic spectacle burnt itself in on the
imagination of the people.... And then the horror of the sacrificial
act! In the great majority of the sacrifices the victim was laid
living on the convex stone and held by the limbs, while the slayer
cut open his breast with the sacred flint (or rather obsidian)
knife--the ancient knife used before men had the use of metals, and
therefore most truly religious--and tore out the palpitating heart,
which was held on high to the all-seeing sun, before being set to
burn in incense in front of the idol, whose lips, and the walls of
whose shrines, were devoutly daubed with blood."

"In connection with one annual festival of Tezcatlipoca, the
Creator and 'soul of the world,' who combined the attributes of
perpetual youthful beauty with the function of the God of Justice and
Retribution, as the Winter Sun, there was selected for immolation a
young male captive of especial beauty, who was treated with great
reverence for a whole year before being sacrificed.... When all
was over the priests piously improved the occasion, preaching that
all this had been typical of human destiny, while the aristocracy
sacramentally ate the victim's roasted limbs."

"They [Christians] mystically eat the body of the slain God. Now,
this very act was performed by the Mexicans, not only literally as
we have seen, but in the symbolic way also; and they connected their
sacraments with the symbol of the cross."

"That the Mexicans were no longer cannibals by taste is shown by the
fact that in the great siege by Cortez they died of starvation by
thousands. They never ate fellow citizens: only the sacrificially
slain captive."

"The strangest thing of all is that their frightful system of sacrifice
was bound up not only with a strict and ascetic sexual morality,
but with an emphatic humanitarian doctrine. If asceticism be virtue,
they cultivated virtue zealously. There was a Mexican Goddess of
Love, and there was of course plenty of vice; but nowhere could men
win a higher reputation for sanctity by living in celibacy. Their
saints were numerous. They had nearly all the formulas of Christian
morality, so-called. The priests themselves mostly lived in strict
celibacy; and they educated children with the greatest vigilance in
their temple schools and higher colleges. They taught the people to
be peaceful, to bear injuries with meekness, to rely on God's mercy
and not on their own merits; they taught, like Jesus and the Pagans,
that adultery could be committed by the eyes and the heart; and, above
all, they exhorted men to feed the poor. The public hospitals were
carefully attended to, at a time when some Christian countries had
none. They had the practice of confession and absolution, and in the
regular exhortation of the confessor there was this formula: Clothe
the naked and feed the hungry, whatever privations it may cost thee;
for remember their flesh is like thine, and they are men like thee;
cherish the sick, for they are the image of God. And in this very
same exhortation there was further urged on the penitent the special
duty of instantly procuring a slave for sacrifice to the deity."

The Mexican believed in the resurrection of the Man-God. Dr. Frazer
relates how "the idea that the God thus slain in the person of
his representative comes to life again immediately was graphically
represented in the Mexican ritual by skinning the slain man-god,
and clothing in his skin a living man, who thus became the new
representative of the god-head." [116]

It is civilisation that determines the tone of religion. In Peru,
where the civilisation was higher and the priesthood less powerful,
the sacrificial system was less burdensome and less terrible. Thus
human sacrifices were practically extinct. The Peruvians had the
institution of a Holy Communion, in which they ate of a sacred bread,
sancu, sprinkled with the blood of a sacrificed sheep, the priest
pronouncing this formula: "Take heed how ye eat this sancu; for he who
eats it in sin and with a double will and heart is seen by our Father,
the Sun, who will punish him with grievous troubles." The Spaniards
themselves recognised that the Mexicans ate the mystical body of
the God with every sign of devotion and contrition; and they were
so far from depreciating the Peruvian Communion that they supposed
St. Bartholomew had established it. [117]

With these facts confronting us, it is nothing short of marvellous to
find many learned divines completely ignoring them in their apologetic
efforts. I say marvellous, for I assume they possess honesty of purpose
and some acquaintance with ancient beliefs; but perhaps I am wrong in
the latter assumption. The continuance of the celebration of the Holy
Eucharist until the present day is held to be one of the evidences
for the Christian faith, and this on the ground that the rite could
not have survived if Christ had not founded it. For some reason,
best known to the apologist, the almost universal observance of
the same ceremony, ages before the Christian era, and its survival
among the nations who finally adopted Christianity, are entirely
overlooked. Thus Dr. Maclear, in his book, The Evidential Value of
the Holy Eucharist, says: "The singular rite has survived all the
vicissitudes of more than 1,000 years.... The early Christian would
inform a supposed questioner that the meal was a sacrificial feast,
instituted by Him from Whom we are called Christians, and Who died
for us on the Cross. Here, then, we are on solid ground. The rite,
so unique and so unprecedented, rests on an objective historical
fact." One would think that Dr. Maclear had entirely neglected the
study of ancient and even modern non-Christian [118] beliefs.


There is another class of primitive sacrificial custom which claims
our careful attention, in order that we may see whether it manifests
the beginning of a revelation from God. Even if we could agree
that all these gruesome details represent a savage's glimmerings
of the truth, we must allow that the theory collapses when the
object of the custom can be shown to have little or nothing to do
with religion in any true sense of the word. Subtle intellects are
capable of maintaining that the worship of ancestors, or of the Sun,
or of imaginary devils, betokens a dim perception of God; but when it
comes to the propitiation of a vegetation-god solely for the sake of
the material benefits expected to be derived from his cult, surely
it is time to dismiss the theory as worthless. "All the world over,
savages and semi-civilised people are in the habit of sacrificing human
victims, whose bodies are buried in the field with the seed of corn,
or other bread stuffs. Often enough the victim's blood is mixed with
grain in order to fertilise it. The most famous instance is that of
the Khonds of Orissa, who chose special victims, known as Meriahs,
and offered them up to ensure good harvests. The Meriah was often kept
years before being sacrificed. He was regarded as a consecrated being,
and treated with extreme affection, mingled with deference." [119]
"The periodical sacrifices," says Dr. Frazer, in The Golden Bough,
"were generally so arranged by tribes and divisions of tribes that
each head of a family was enabled, at least once a year, to procure a
shred of flesh for his fields, generally about the time when his chief
crop was laid down." Khonds in distress often sold their children
as Meriahs, "considering the beatification of their souls certain,
and their death, for the benefit of mankind, the most honourable
possible." Their children were representatives of the Deity. With
advancing civilisation we have the substitution of an animal in
place of the human representative of the God. In some cases the
worshippers tore the living animal to pieces with their teeth. The
rending and devouring of live bulls, calves, and goats seems to have
been a regular feature of the Dionysiac rites, the participators in
the orgy fancying that they were devouring the actual body and blood of
the god. With the further advance of civilisation (or, according to the
latest Christian theory, with the further advance of God's revelation),
as in the Mediterranean region, the bodies of the gods of agriculture
were eaten by their votaries in the shape of cakes of bread, or other
food stuffs, and their blood was drunk in the form of wine. [120]

If Dr. Frazer be right as to the priority of the idea of a
vegetation-god in cults commonly associated with the Sun, then Krishna,
Osiris, Dionysus or Bacchus, Adonis, Attis, and other Saviours whose
deaths and resurrections were annually celebrated at the spring equinox
(our Easter), may have been primarily vegetation-victims, the abstract
ideas which identified the death and resurrection of the god with
the annual winter sleep and spring revival being finally fathered
upon the worship. Whatever explanation may be the correct one for the
phenomenon of a common mythos over the greater portion of the globe, it
is certainly not that of a Progressive Revelation. Such an explanation
has never been mooted by anyone but the Christian apologist. "Among
early men and savages every act of life has a sacred significance,
and agriculture especially is everywhere and always invested with
a special sanctity. To us it would seem natural that the act of
sowing seed should be regarded as purely practical and physiological;
that the seed should be looked upon merely as the part of the plant
intended for reproduction, and that its germination should be accepted
as a natural and normal process. Savages and early men, however, had
no such conceptions. To them the whole thing is a piece of natural
magic." [121] Are we, then, to regard this working of primitive
thought as the working of the Holy Spirit? Surely we may dismiss such
a preposterous theory? It will serve the Church no good purpose; for,
while thinking men will be further than ever estranged, it will furnish
the militant agnostic with a fresh weapon for his attacks upon her.


Whatever may have been the ultimate origin of the idea of God, and
of the belief in His expiatory death and subsequent resurrection,
the origin of the custom of eating Him sacramentally permits of
a very simple explanation. "Du Chaillu notes that some of his West
African followers, when going on an expedition, brought out the skulls
of their ancestors (which they religiously preserved) and scraped
off small portions of the bone, which they mixed with the water and
drank, giving as a reason for this conduct that their ancestors were
brave, and that by drinking a portion of them they too became brave
and fearless. Here we have a simple and early case of that habit of
'eating the god' to whose universality and importance Dr. Frazer has
called attention." [122] It is a common early belief, which may still
be met with, that by eating a certain animal the consumer will become
possessed of its qualities. It is notorious, for instance, that the
Miris of Northern India prize tiger's flesh for men, because it gives
them strength and courage. And apparently the same belief exists also
in Southern India, for I remember our Madrassi ayah--a Christian by
the bye--begging for the hind leg of a panther (shot by my wife),
and explaining that she wanted to eat it in order to make her muzbut
(strong). I may mention also that certain religious rites still in
vogue among the Hindoos--disgusting as they are, not only to our ideas,
but in fact--arise from a similar notion.

Herbert Spencer discusses this primitive idea in his Principles of
Sociology. He explains how "attributes or properties, as we understand
them, are not recognisable by the savage--are abstractions which
neither his faculties can grasp nor his language express. Hence
certain beliefs, everywhere conspicuous among the uncivilised. A
special potency which some object or part of an object displays
belongs to it in such a wise that it may be acquired by consuming or
possessing this object or part. The powers of a conquered antagonist
are supposed to be gained by devouring him. The Dakotah eats the
heart of a slain foe to increase his own courage; the New Zealander
swallows his dead enemy's eyes that he may see further; the Abipone
consumes tiger's flesh thinking so to gain the tiger's strength
and ferocity--cases which recall the legend about Zeus devouring
Metis that he might become possessed of her wisdom. Clearly the
implied mode of thought, shown even in the medical prescriptions
of past ages, is a mode of thought necessarily persisting until
analysis has disclosed the complexities of causal relations." [123]
"The belief that the qualities of any individual are appropriated by
eating him is illustrated by the statement of Stanbridge, that when
Australians kill an infant they feed an older child with it, believing
'that by its eating as much as possible of the roasted infant it will
possess the strength of both.' Elsewhere dead relations are consumed
in pursuance of an allied belief. We read of the Cucamas that, 'as
soon as a relation died, these people assembled and ate him roasted
or boiled, according as he was thin or fat!'" [124]

It is easy, then, to understand why a savage should desire to partake
of the flesh of an animal or man whom he regards as divine. By eating
the body of the god he shares in the god's attributes and powers. "And
when," as Dr. Frazer points out, [125] "the god is a corn-god, the
corn is his proper body; when he is a vine-god, the juice of the
grape is his blood; and so by eating the bread and drinking the wine
the worshipper partakes of the real body and blood of the god." If
the apologist, nothing daunted, maintains that there is a religious
germ in these primitive superstitions, it is practically tantamount to
saying that every superstition contains such a germ; that superstition
and religion are, in fact, often synonymous terms. I thought it
was only the sceptic who said that. Before committing himself any
further to a supernatural theory which is so obviously untenable,
I do entreat the average apologist to read carefully the works of
great thinkers who have made primitive man their especial study. Let
him read, for instance, Herbert Spencer's Principles of Sociology,
where he will find a natural and mind-satisfying explanation of
primitive ideas concerning supernatural agents, ghosts, spirits,
demons, gods, resurrection, another life, inspiration, divination,
sacrifices, fasting, propitiation, and prayer. He will learn, also,
much that he ought to know concerning ancestor-worship, idol-worship,
fetish-worship, animal-worship, plant-worship, nature-worship, and
the heathen deities generally. He should also read Frazer's Golden
Bough, J. M. Robertson's Pagan Christs and Christianity and Mythology,
and other scholarly and informing works of this description, instead
of confining his studies to works of an apologetic character, where
everything incompatible with existing Christian theories is carefully
omitted, or coloured out of all recognition.

§ 4. The Solar Myth.


The resemblances to ancient myths are not confined to the principal
incidents in the life of Christ. Many of the most noteworthy events
related in the Old Testament have their counterpart in widespread
legends. That the stories of the Creation, Fall, and Deluge are legends
is well known--a visit to the British Museum should convince the most
captious critic on this point--but it is not so well known that ancient
folk-lore contains stories similar to those of the Tower of Babel,
the trial of Abraham's faith, Jacob's vision of the ladder between
earth and heaven, the finding of Moses in an ark, the transformation
of Moses' rod into a serpent, the Israelites' passage through the
Red Sea on dry land, Moses smiting the rock and thus producing
water, the reception by Moses of the Ten Commandments from God,
Balaam's expostulating ass, Joshua's command to the sun and the sun's
obedience, Samson and his exploits, Elijah's ascent to heaven, and
Jonah's sojourn for three days and three nights in the belly of a fish.

This Jonah episode has an important bearing on the subject under
discussion, as it is a typical case of an absorption of the universal
mythos. Among other authorities, Godfrey Higgins tells us: "The story
of Jonas swallowed up by a whale is nothing but part of the fiction
of Hercules, described in the Heracleid or Labours of Hercules, of
whom the same story was told, and who was swallowed up at the very
same place, Joppa, and for the same period of time, three days." [126]
Again, with the exception of those who refuse to acknowledge anything
damaging to the literal truth of Holy Writ, all professors of theology
are agreed that the miracle recorded in the book of Jonah is not a
historical fact. This in spite of the alleged personal interviews with
God as there recounted; while the plea that we must make allowance for
oriental imagery serves only to throw discredit upon historians on
whom we are relying for facts upon which the scheme of Christianity
depends. Now, the story of the three days' sojourn of Hercules and
other heroes in the bowels of the earth, or the belly of a fish,
is only a different version of the myth concerning the death and
resurrection of a god which we find to be prevalent over nearly the
whole world. And, according to the new Christian theory, this shows
an intuition of Christ's death and resurrection!


The advanced theologians, who are presenting us with this theory, have
to explain, among other things, how it was that Christ himself took the
"Jonah and whale" story seriously, treating it as sober history. He
spoke of no mere allegory when He said: "For as Jonas was three days
and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of Man be
three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." [127] Neither
Christ himself nor the Apostles spoke of any revelation embodied in
heathen beliefs. Very much the reverse. Yet the Bishop of Birmingham
(late of Worcester), speaking to the adversaries of Christianity,
informs them: "You say that we find in Christianity the relics of
paganism. On the contrary, we find in paganism, intermingled with
much that is false, superstitious, and horrible, the anticipations
of Christianity." Is that why we have paid them the compliment of
adopting their dates for the birth and death of their Saviours? [128]
Canon P. H. Robinson goes so far as to say that Christianity has
benefited by the addition of heathen thought [N.B. He owns there has
been this addition], and that it is yet to benefit by further contact
with heathen thought! His actual words are: "If Greek and Roman thought
were needed for a full appreciation of the meaning of the Incarnation,
why may we not say the same of Indian and Chinese thought? Surely we
are justified in believing that every country and every people have
something to contribute to Christianity and that the completion of
the Christian revelation awaits the contribution of each. We believe
that there are many important aspects of the Christian truth which
have never been understood, simply because Christianity has not yet
been reflected in the experience of those nations of the world which
are still heathen." [129]


The earliest attempts at a crude science of mythology were efforts
to reconcile the legends of the gods and heroes with the religious
sentiment which recognised in these beings objects of worship and
respect. When the Christians first approached the problem of heathen
mythology, they agreed with St. Augustine that the gods were real
persons--but diabolical, not divine. "Some later philosophers,
especially of the seventeenth century, misled by the resemblance
between Biblical narratives and ancient myths, came to the conclusion
that the Bible contains a pure, the myths a distorted, form of an
original revelation." [130] Now, however, in tracing myths and legends
to their probable origins, the modern mythologist never dreams of
calling to his aid any supernatural theory.

Myths present, I take it, two main problems--first as to their origin,
and second as to their resemblances to Biblical narratives. Some
mythologists, while no longer allowing orthodox tradition to hamper
them, only profess to answer the first question. They disclaim the
obligation of entering the arena of theological controversy. It is
important that the Church should thoroughly realise this, and that
any disagreement there may be among mythologists as to the solution
of the first problem--the origin of myths--has little or no bearing
upon the solution of the second problem--the Bible parallels. What
does it matter whether the gods had a vegetable or a solar origin,
or arose, as Max Müller thought, from "a disease of language"? The
all-important question for Christians is: Can any of these possible
origins point to a Progressive Revelation, and, if not, how are we
to account for the Bible parallels?


Suppose that, whatever the ultimate origin may have been, certain
myths containing the parallels are, as we know them, solar myths
(and on this point mythologists are now in complete accord); how
can a belief be, at one and the same time, a solar myth and also
an allegory expressing a spiritual truth? The sun is the object of
worship, and its apparent movements give rise to myths concerning
the birth, death, and resurrection of a Saviour. [131] Can we call
this Progressive Revelation? "Certainly," the apologists may reply;
"is there no bright Sun of Righteousness--no personal and loving
Son of God, of whom the material sun has been the type or symbol, in
all ages and among all nations? What power is it that comes from the
sun to give light and heat to all created things? If the symbolical
sun leads such a great and heavenly flock, what must be said of the
true and only begotten Son of God? If Apollo was adopted by early
Christian art as a type of the Good Shepherd of the New Testament,
this interpretation of the sun-god among all nations must be the
solution of the universal mythos. What other solution can it have? To
what other historical personage but Christ can it apply? If this
mythos has no spiritual meaning, all religion becomes mere idolatry,
or the worship of material things." [132]

Will this sort of reasoning satisfy the average man? To begin with,
the sun-worshippers themselves had no idea that the sun was, as is now
alleged, the symbol of a great Truth. The sun, or their conception
of the sun as a divine person in a blazing car, was the object of
their worship. What a waste of worship for thousands upon thousands of
years!--worship that might have been centred upon the true God. Even
now, nigh on 2,000 years after God was pleased at last to reveal
Himself, as we are told, to all mankind, the greater portion do not
know Him, or they deny Him. If God intended the sun to be a symbol
of Christ, why have we never been told this before? Why even now
is it only put forward by a certain school of apologists in costly
books that few will ever set their eyes upon? It is noteworthy, too,
that the horrors that accompanied the worship of this same "bright
Sun" are discreetly kept in the background by these advocates of the
"symbol" theory.

§ 5. Concluding Remarks on Christian and Anti-Christian Theories.

If Progressive Revelation be true, it is the most marvellous proof of
the truth of Christianity--far the greatest proof that has ever yet
been presented to us. Far greater, for instance, than the prophecies of
those so-called prophets of the Old Testament, who, it now transpires,
were only anticipating or describing events of their own times. It is
such a proof as Christianity is in dire need of just now--a proof that
will save her from a peril which every hour brings nearer. Why, then,
do we hear so little of this great discovery from the pulpit? [133] How
comes it that it is discovered so many years after the fulfilment of
these unconscious prophecies of the pagans? Why is it produced merely
to confute the sceptic and restore confidence to that infinitesimally
small number who happen to have studied, and therefore to have
had their suspicions aroused by, Comparative Mythology? We are
to believe that God revealed Himself by an exceedingly slow and
painful process, extending over thousands upon thousands of years,
and entailing the most horrible customs among savages. This process,
mark you, not only led to the establishment of Christianity as the
world became more civilised, but to the establishment of those other
great religions which to this day are hostile to the reception of
Christianity! Simple-minded people will never be induced to agree
that revelation can be progressive in the manner now indicated to
us by the apologist. Rather they will agree with the nationalist,
who denies the originality of Christianity, contending that it is a
cult which adopted, step by step, the mysteries, the miracles, and
the myths of the popular Gentile religions. Some freethinkers, indeed,
go so far as to say that the whole Gospel story is nothing more than
a myth; but the greater number consider that there is a substratum of
truth, and that round this have slowly gathered the religious ideas
and doctrines that were current in the old pagan world. The precise
manner in which, they conjecture, the transformation actually took
place is a large subject, and there are differences of opinion--e.g.,
some are inclined to think that Essenism, others that Mithraism,
played a leading part; but the point to be borne in mind is that
there is no difficulty whatever in understanding how the absorption
of myths could have taken place, or how the Christian cult could have
arisen and prospered.

I especially mention this, as some apologists argue that there
was not sufficient time for heathen accretions between the death
of Jesus and the writing of the Gospels. I can only reiterate the
remark of the well-known professor of Church history, Dr. Harnack:
"We know that the Gospels come from a time in which the marvellous
may be said to have been something of almost daily occurrence. We now
know that eminent persons have not to wait until they have been long
dead, or even for several years, to have miracles reported of them;
they are reported at once, often the very next day." Also, I should
call attention to the notes on Essenism and Mithraism at the close of
this chapter, as they contain the answer to this final objection. But,
personally, I fail to see how the "time" objection can in any case
be maintained when we remember that the whole world had already
been conversant for ages past with stories of suffering Saviours,
similar in all essentials to the Gospel narratives. Besides, we know
that documents have been tampered with more or less (the sceptic says
"more," the apologist "less"), and that the composition of the Gospels
took place many years after the events they purport to describe;
while the age was one when men were extremely credulous, and when,
consciously and unconsciously, imposing upon this credulity was the
ordinary method of propagating a Faith.


Regarding the difficulty of supposing that Jesus or the Evangelists
could have been imbued with any sun-myth ideas, we must take into
consideration the existence at that time of the Jewish sect, the
Essenes. It seems quite possible that they considered Jesus of
Nazareth to be the Messiah they were expecting, and that they came
over to Christianity in a body. This monastic brotherhood, living in
settlements in the desert west of the Dead Sea--i.e., within a day's
journey of Bethlehem and Jerusalem--not only placed love of God, of
goodness, and of man as articles in their programme, but also sought
with wonderful energy, according to their lights, to realise them
in their life. Bunsen assures us (p. 158 of his Angel-Messiah), and
furnishes strong grounds for his opinion, that the Essenes introduced
the new doctrine of an Angel-Messiah, and with it the doctrine of the
atoning death of the Messiah, into Judaism and Christianity. Canon
Cheyne likewise places them among the number of those who prepared
the way for the new world-religion. This seems to have been the very
reason of their disappearance in the second century A.D.--Christianity
dissolved them. So much so that the Essenes (often called Therapeutæ
or healers) are identified by Eusebius with the Christian monks, and
this opinion was generally adopted by the Fathers (see chap, xvii.,
bk. ii., p. 117, of The Church History of Eusebius, translated by the
Rev. A. C. McGiffert, under the editorial supervision of Henry Wace,
D.D., and Philip Schaff, D.D.).

From a perusal of the article on the "Essenes" in the Encyclopædia
Biblica, it will be seen that Essenism is not a purely Jewish
product, but that "Persian and Babylonian influence may reasonably
be admitted." "Oriental influences were," Canon Cheyne informs us,
"so to speak, in the air, and it is probable that the belief in the
resurrection was not the only great debt which Jewish religionists
owed to Zoroastrians." Bishop Lightfoot describes the Essenes as
sun-worshippers. Is there, then, no likelihood of Jesus and His
disciples being familiar with the ideas of sun-worshippers?

But, it may be urged, the teaching of Jesus Christ was opposed to
Essenic doctrines in the matter of asceticism. True; but, in one
way, this makes the case for the absorption of Essenic ideas all the
stronger, for it would account for the strange fact that the Christians
approved of asceticism in spite of their own Master's example to the
contrary. I do not wish to press this anti-Christian theory further
than to say that it appears to me that, among others, it is one
deserving of consideration. Presuming that in Jesus the Apostles
were confronted with a personality of overwhelming attractiveness
and power of appeal to themselves, their language can be interpreted
throughout as their attempt to expound and pass on their experience
to the world. In this attempt they were naturally driven to employ
such conceptions as were current in their day, and notably those
of Messianic anticipations and Greek philosophy. Assuming that the
Gospels are without any important interpolations, and that the authors
are the Evangelists, even then the partial insertion of solar-myths
would not necessarily be tantamount to any conscious dishonesty on
the part of the Evangelists; it only points to their impregnation
with the Jewish beliefs, such as those of the Essenes, that were
around them. If this theory be correct, the difficulty arising from
the shortness of the time between the Resurrection and the writing
of the Gospels vanishes, since accretions of a later date would no
longer be the sole cause for the events recorded by the Evangelists
becoming inextricably entwined with mythical beliefs.


This argument is fully developed in Part III. of Mr. J. M. Robertson's
book, Pagan Christs, from which the following are quotations:
"Mithraism was in point of range the most nearly universal religion
of the Western world in the early centuries of the Christian era. As
to this students are agreed. [Here Mr. Robertson gives in a footnote
a formidable array of authorities.] To the early Fathers, we shall
see. Mithraism was a most serious thorn in the flesh; and the
monumental remains of the Roman period, in almost all parts of the
empire, show its extraordinary extension." Mr. Robertson points out
that there are a number of monuments in honour of Mithra in England,
France, Italy, Germany, and in many Mediterranean ports. He then
proceeds to give us some exceedingly important information regarding
Mithraism, out of which I select the following extracts for the more
particular attention of Christians:--

"We have the culture of Mithra as the Sun-god, the deity of light
and truth, created by, and yet co-equal with, the Supreme Deity, and
fighting on the side of the good against the evil power, Angra-Mainyu
(Ahriman)--this at a period long before the Christian era.... Mithra
comes to occupy a singular position as between the two great powers of
good and evil, Ormuzd and Ahriman, being actually named the Mediator,
and figuring to the devout eye as a humane and beneficent God,
nearer to man than the Great Spirit of Good, a Saviour, a Redeemer,
eternally young, son of the Most High, and preserver of mankind from
the Evil One.... The first day of the week, Sunday, was apparently
from time immemorial consecrated to Mithra by the Mithraists; and as
the Sun-god was pre-eminently 'the Lord,' Sunday was the 'Lord's Day'
long before the Christian era.... We have some exact information as
to the two chief Mithraic ceremonies or festivals, those of Christmas
and Easter, the winter solstice and the vernal equinox, the birthday of
the Sun-god, and the period of his sacrifice and his triumph.... There
were in antiquity, we know from Porphyry, several elaborate treatises
setting forth the religion of Mithra; and every one of these has
been destroyed by the care of the Church.... Of course, we are told
that the Mithraic rites and mysteries are borrowed and imitated from
Christianity. The refutation of this notion, as has been pointed out
by M. Havet, lies in the language of those Christian fathers who spoke
of Mithraism. Three of them, as we have seen, speak of the Mithraic
resemblances to Christian rites as being the work of devils. Now,
if the Mithraists had simply imitated the historic Christians,
the obvious course for the latter would be simply to say so.... The
Mithraic mysteries, then, of the burial and resurrection of the Lord,
the Mediator, the Saviour; burial in a rock tomb and resurrection
from the tomb; the sacrament of bread and water, the marking on the
forehead with a mystic mark--all these were in practice before the
publication of the Christian Gospel.... Nor was this all. Firmicus
informs us that the devil, in order to leave nothing undone for the
destruction of souls, had beforehand resorted to deceptive imitations
of the Cross of Christ.... Still further does the parallel hold. It
is well known that, whereas in the Gospels Jesus is said to have been
born in an inn-stable, early Christian writers, as Justin Martyr and
Origen, explicitly say he was born in a cave. Now, in the Mithra myth,
Mithra is both rock-born and born in a cave; and the monuments show
the new-born babe adored by shepherds who offer first-fruits.... Now,
however, arises the great question. How came such a cultus to die
out of the Roman and Byzantine Empire after making its way so far,
and holding its ground so long? The answer to that question has never,
I think, been fully given, and is for the most part utterly evaded,
though part of it has been suggested often enough. The truth is
Mithraism was not overthrown; it was merely transformed.... Though
Mithraism had many attractions, Christianity had more, having
sedulously copied every one of its rivals and developed special
features of its own.... In the Christian legend the God was humanised
in the most literal way; and for the multitude the concrete deity
must needs replace the abstract. The Gospels gave a literal story:
The Divine Man was a carpenter, and ate and drank with the poorest
of the poor.... Gradually the very idea of allegory died out of
the Christian intelligence; and priests as well as people came to
take everything literally and concretely.... This was the religion
for the Dark Ages.... Byzantines and barbarians alike were held by
literalism, not by the unintelligible: for both alike the symbol had
to become a fetish; and for the Dark Ages the symbol of the cross
was much more plausibly appealing than that of the god slaying the
zodiacal bull.... A Mithraist could turn to the Christian worship
and find his main rites unimpaired, lightened only of the burden of
initiative austerities, stripped of the old obscure mysticism, and
with all things turned to the literal and the concrete, in sympathy
with the waning of knowledge and philosophy throughout the world."

But I must now close these quotations, apologising to Mr. Robertson
for making such a free use of his book, and advising my readers to
study it. They will find that his facts are reliable; they are all
backed by the highest authorities, however much the conclusions drawn
from them may, at present, be a matter of opinion. Suffice it to
say here that the coincidences between Mithraism and Christianity
are indescribably marvellous, and require further explanation,
if Mr. Robertson's theory of the absorption of the former by the
latter be not very largely true. Whatever the substratum of real
history may be, there is no doubt that there was every opportunity
for an early absorption of Mithraism, and every probability that it
took place to an extent which throws a new flood of light upon many
Christian doctrines. "The first six centuries were characterised
by fierce controversies as to the most fundamental verities of the
Christian faith, by the wholesale introduction of adult converts, who
brought with them heathen and Jewish habits of thought, and who were
in many cases of a low type of civilisation; and the adulteration of
the Gospel was further facilitated by the purely nominal adhesion of
persons anxious to stand well with the first Christian Emperors. The
period was one of incessant fermentation and of rapid and continuous
change." These are not the words of Mr. Robertson, nor of any other
freethinker, but are an extract from the resolution adopted by the
Church Association in connection with the appeal by Dean Wace and
others to the authority of the First Six Centuries. What a period to
appeal to! When we know what we do of the credulity and the methods
of those "Fathers" of the Church, how can any rational being place
in them any confidence whatsoever?

What steps do the Churches propose to take concerning these
disclosures? Will they proclaim from the pulpit their new theory of a
Progressive Revelation, or will they by their silence evince their own
want of faith in this precious theory, and allow the storm of unbelief
slowly to gather force until it bursts and overwhelms the Christian
belief? Knowledge of the facts, so ably discussed by Mr. Robertson,
will soon be widely disseminated. Let there be no mistake on this
point. Here, for instance, are some instructive passages appearing
on page 496 of the Nineteenth Century, September, 1905:--

"It has been truly observed that the recovery, only partial as it
is, of the history of this religion [the Mithraic] is one of the most
remarkable triumphs of historical and antiquarian research. Originating
in Persia, it was spread through the Roman Empire by poor and humble
converts, who were at first mainly soldiers; but gradually, like
Christianity, it permeated all ranks, and its temples are found
scattered over the whole civilised world, from Babylon to the
hills of Scotland. Just as the religion of Isis did, it resembled
that of Christ in being a religion of inward holiness, of austere
self-discipline and purity; but the details of its resemblance are
incomparably more close and curious. The briefest sketch of the
matter is all that can be attempted here. According to Mithraic
theology, God considered in His totality is a Being so infinite and
so transcendent that His direct connection with man and the universe
is inconceivable. In order to become the father of man and creator,
He manifested Himself in a second personality--namely, Mithra, who
was in his cosmic character identified with the 'unconquered sun,'
and, as a moral and intellectual Being, was the Divine Word or Reason,
and, in more senses than one, 'the mediator' between man and the Most
High. Life on earth, according to the Mithraic doctrine, is for man a
time of trial. The Spirit of Evil, his adversary, is always seeking to
destroy him--to crush him with pain and sorrow, or to stain his soul
with concupiscence; but in all his struggles Mithra is at hand to aid
him, and will at the last day be at once his judge and advocate, when
the graves give up their dead, when the just are separated from the
unjust, when the saved are welcomed like children into eternal bliss,
and the lost are consumed in the fire prepared for the Devil and his
angels. This Divine Saviour came into the world as an infant. His
first worshippers were shepherds; and the day of His nativity was
December 25th. His followers preached a severe and rigid morality,
chief among their virtues being temperance, chastity, renunciation,
and self-control. They kept the seventh day holy, and the middle day
of each month was a special feast of Mithra, which symbolised his
function of Mediator. They had seven sacraments, of which the most
important were baptism, confirmation, and a Eucharistic supper, at
which the communicants partook of the divine nature of Mithra under
the species of bread and wine."


Chapter V.


§ 1. Preliminary Remarks.


General views of the development or evolution of the visible order
of nature have been entertained by philosophers from the earliest
historical times. There were pioneers of Evolution from Thales to
Lucretius (600 B.C.-50 A.D.). The inquiry was then arrested for nearly
sixteen hundred years--that is, until the renascence of Science. As
knowledge, in spite of ecclesiastical discouragement, again slowly
advanced, the science of biology gained in strength, and the work of
Linnæus, Buffon, Lamarck, Erasmus Darwin, and others, paved the way
for that modern theory of Evolution which Darwin, Wallace, Spencer,
Huxley, and Haeckel have demonstrated to us. This doctrine of Evolution
is no longer a mere speculative theory, possibly or probably true,
but an established fact accepted by the whole scientific world with
hardly a single dissentient voice. We know that everything as it
now exists is the product of Evolution--the solar system, the earth,
all lower forms of life, and lastly man, together with his languages,
arts, sciences, theology, social habits, instincts, and, according to
many high authorities, morals, conscience, and consciousness. Yes,
"man, perfect as he may appear to us, is still not a being apart in
nature, but by his whole organisation is continuous with the other
zoological species." "Anthropology, properly so-called, is, in fact,
merely a chapter of zoology." "The homological structure of man, his
embryological development, and the rudiments which he still retains,
all declare in the plainest possible manner that he is descended
from some lower form." He "derives his moral sense from the social
feelings which are instinctive or innate in the lower animals." [134]

It is in the special sense of explaining how living things came into
being, and how they have acquired their present characters, that the
teaching of Evolution appears to be most in conflict with that of the
Churches and the Bible. It is, therefore, this aspect of Evolution
with which we are here chiefly concerned, and we may remember that,
since Charles Darwin published his Origin of Species (1859) and
Descent of Man (1871), his main conclusions have been confirmed by
every branch of anthropological research--by palæontology, zoology,
comparative anatomy, physiology, pathology, teratology, psychology,
and more especially by embryology, a science in which there has been
a remarkable progress during the past thirty years. Professor Haeckel
points out on page 24 of his important work, The Evolution of Man
(translated by Joseph McCabe), that "even when human anatomy began
to stir itself once more in the sixteenth century, and independent
research into the structure of the developed body was resumed,
anatomists did not dare to extend their inquiries to the unformed
body, the embryo, and its development. There were many reasons
for the prevailing horror of such studies. It is natural enough,
when we remember that a Bull of Boniface VIII. excommunicated every
man who ventured to dissect a human corpse. If the dissection of
a developed body were a crime to be thus punished, how much more
dreadful must it have seemed to deal with the embryonic body still
enclosed in the womb, which the Creator Himself had decently veiled
from the curiosity of the scientist." Palæontology is another very
young science that has contributed greatly towards the evidence of
our origin. Professor Huxley informs us, in his essay on "The Rise
and Progress of Palæontology," that the first adequate investigation
of the fossil remains of any large group of vertebrated animals
dates from 1822, and that in the last fifty years the number of
known fossil remains of invertebrated animals has been trebled or
quadrupled. Fossils were at one time believed to have been sown by
the devil, whose fell purpose was to throw discredit upon the Bible
story of Creation. Perhaps this pious opinion may have had something
to do with the slow progress of palæontology?


To prevent the chance of any misunderstanding, some explanation may be
necessary for the benefit of those who are not in touch with scientific
thought, and who hear that "Darwinism" is out of date. They should
understand that, although the doctrine of Evolution as applied to
organic life used to be widely spoken of by the term "Darwinism,"
the latter is now only used by scientists in a special sense, to
designate the belief in the gradual origin of species by natural
selection. There are some who deem this hypothesis to be untenable. But
there is no dispute whatever concerning the doctrine of the derivation
or descent, with modification, of all existing species, genera, orders,
classes, etc., of animals and plants, from a few simple forms of life,
if not from one. Modern evolutionary theories, however, are more
particularly concerned with the question of the ways and means by
which living organisms have assumed their actual characters or forms,
and on these points there are many shades of individual opinion.

Ignorance of the gist of the Darwinian theory, "natural selection,"
[135] has been fruitful in misunderstandings and objections regarding
it, so that it is advisable to mention here that the author of the
theory states explicitly that it does not account for the origin of
variations in individuals, still less in species; but that, given the
origination and existence of variations, it shows that some of these
are preserved, while others are not--that favourable variations tend
to be perpetuated, and unfavourable variations to become extinct; that
those variations which best adapt an organisation to its environment
are most favourable to its preservation, and, consequently, that the
theory of natural selection is adequate to explain the observed fact
of the survival of the fittest in the struggle for existence. "Natural
selection ... implies that the individuals which are best fitted for
the complex and changing conditions to which, in the course of ages,
they are exposed, generally survive and procreate their kind." [136]
Natural selection does not, it may be added, imply conscious
selection. It would be equally true to call it natural murder, or
natural weeding-out. But, whether Darwin and Weismann be right or wrong
in attributing so much to natural selection, what I wish particularly
to point out is that the hypothesis of Evolution is nowise invalidated
because, out of the various causes at work, we are not quite sure as
yet which is the most efficient. It is necessary to make this clear,
for, hearing that "Darwinism" is under dispute, the uninitiated might
come to the conclusion that the animal origin of man is discredited.


With but very few exceptions, every biological student admits
our animal origin. The ideas of most people, however, on this
subject are hazy in the extreme, and no wonder, when the study of
Evolution has never been included in their school curriculum. Men
(and in very rare cases women) pick up a few crumbs of knowledge
concerning the scientific theory of their origin, and then, from
want of leisure or from religious motives, or from various causes,
they drop the subject. Often they are put off by the dry details
of the evidence and the technical phrases before they have obtained
a real grip of the subject. They do not even know some of the more
simple and obvious proofs which alone would have sufficed to convince
them. One finds that men's views concerning Evolution are coloured
by the opinion prevailing at the time when they themselves were once
faintly interested in the subject; and thus there is, at present,
an inertia of ignorance, due to the misconceptions and prejudices of
older generations. The opinions of our elders, being formed on a riper
experience, very properly enlist our respect; but, unfortunately,
in this instance they are based upon false premises, and so lead us
astray. People who remember when Darwin first propounded his theory,
and the violent, not to say virulent, opposition with which it was
received by the Church, only too often remain in blissful ignorance of
all that has since transpired. It is quite enough for them that they
are erect, tailless, speaking, reflecting bipeds. With attributes such
as these, they fondly imagine that they are separated from the beast
by a gulf that neither Evolution nor any other theory could possibly
bridge. Whatever the reasons may be--and there are many--the vast
majority of Christians not only remain woefully ignorant of Evolution,
but have no desire to learn anything more about it. They know it is
opposed to Bible teaching. They prefer, as it has been well said,
to consider themselves fallen angels rather than elevated apes.

We are not, however, concerned here with likes and dislikes, but only
with the truth as far as our reason allows us to discover it. Moreover,
if it be objected that we can take no pride in an animal ancestry,
surely we may say the same of our savage ancestry. "He who has seen
a savage in his native land will not feel much shame if forced to
acknowledge that the blood of some more humble creature flows in his
veins. For my own part, I would as soon be descended from that heroic
little monkey, who braved his dreaded enemy in order to save the
life of his keeper; or from that old baboon, who, descending from the
mountains, carried away in triumph his young comrade from a crowd of
astonished dogs, as from a savage who delights to torture his enemies,
offers up bloody sacrifices, practises infanticide without remorse,
treats his wives like slaves, knows no decency, and is haunted by
the grossest superstitions." [137] "We must acknowledge, as it seems
to me, that man, with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which
feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only
to other men, but to the humblest living creature, with his god-like
intellect, which has penetrated into the movement and constitution
of the solar system--with all these exalted powers--man still bears
in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." [138]


Now let us consider the opinions of our spiritual guides. At the
Shrewsbury Church Conference, in 1896, Archbishop Temple said that,
"in his opinion, the full acceptance of the doctrine of Evolution
would prove a great help to Christian thought and Christian life." In
his book, The Relations between Religion and Science, he states that
"the doctrine of Evolution leaves the argument for an intelligent and
beneficent Creator and Governor of the world stronger than it was
before." A decade has passed, and still how few Christians know of
this "help," of this "stronger argument"! In the course of his address
at the Weymouth Church Conference in 1905, the Bishop of Gloucester
admitted that "Darwin's teaching on evolution and development" had
"revolutionised our ideas of God's action in nature." If this be
so, how comes it that such a vast number of the pious still adhere
to the old ideas? Is it not the duty of the pastor to educate his
flock? What "ideas of God's action in nature" are missionaries even
now putting into the heads of their converts? If we inquired of the
average religionist, should we find that his or her ideas had been
revolutionised? Not only are worshippers in the House of God kept in
ignorance, but theological students are distinctly warned against the
full acceptance of the doctrine of Evolution. For instance, Dr. Orr,
a professor of apologetics, delivered a course of lectures before the
professors and students of the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1903,
the object of which was to show the dangers that must accrue to the
Faith if the theories of Darwin were accepted in their entirety. He
stoutly denied that man and woman were an evolution by slow stages
from creatures that had gone before, and asserted that the first
man came into being, as did the first woman, by a special act of
creation. Unfortunately for the validity of his assertion he labours
under the delusion that science concedes that man, or anything like
man, cannot be traced further back than the post-glacial period,
and that the brain capacity and physical characteristics of primeval
man stood on as high a level as the average man of to-day! [139]

In a recently-published letter, [140] written by Charles Kingsley to
a correspondent, we read: "My own belief in the general truth of my
friend Darwin's views--which deepen day by day as I verify them--has
only given me wider and deeper and nobler notions of God's works in the
material universe." He then proceeds to illustrate his own thoughts
by a charming little story of a certain old heathen Khan, who was
delighted with the idea of a God so wise that he made all things make
themselves. This old Khan and Charles Kingsley overlook an objection
which to myself, and to many others, seems quite insuperable--namely,
that a God so wise and merciful would have seen his way to prevent
that frightful wastefulness and cruelty which is part and parcel of
the evolutionary process. But more of this difficulty anon.

To give another example of a clerical evolutionist: the
Rev. G. S. Streatfield, vicar of Christ Church, Hampstead, on May
22nd, 1901, read a paper at the Southport Conference on "Questions
that Must be Faced," in which he conceded that "the fact of Evolution
is now hardly questioned in the scientific world--one might almost say
in the world of thought." He, too, is charmed with the new theory, for
he says: "It is, I suppose, generally agreed that the evolutionist has
worthier, more rational, more truly philosophical views of the Divine
Will and Action than those who hold the traditional theory." Clerics
of his stamp and school are now becoming more outspoken, and admit
their convictions in public instead of in writings that are likely
to be seen only by a select few. Only lately the Dean of Westminster,
addressing a large gathering of Sunday-school teachers, told them that
the idea that the human species was separately created was given up,
and the fact of man's descent from lower organisms accepted. While
admiring his candour, one cannot help calling to mind that in 1860
Professor Huxley was utterly ridiculed by erudite scholars of the
Church for making a precisely similar statement.

Between those who accept and those who entirely reject Evolution there
are various shades of opinion. There are those who accept everything
short of the evolution of certain mental faculties; although students
of comparative psychology now admit that the intellectual faculties
of animals differ from those in man in degree only, not in their
essence. There are those like the Rev. John Urquhart, author of a
brochure called Roger's Reasons, who seek to reconcile the Bible
story of creation with the Evolution theory, although any such
interpretation was put out of court long ago by Professor Huxley's
reply to Mr. Gladstone. [141] There are those who, like Dr. Torrey,
[142] persist in altogether denying our animal origin, although
there is hardly a single scientist, hardly a single thoughtful man,
who has studied the subject without bias, who believes anything else.

The number of clergymen who openly admit the truth of Evolution is as
yet comparatively small. The few who do express their opinion openly,
profess to be delighted with the new light that has now been shed upon
God's methods. The question arises, How is it, then, that we hear so
little about Evolution from the pulpit, and that, consequently, the
faithful are kept in ignorance of this fresh revelation? The answer
is obvious: It is because the advanced divines have yet to educate
their congregations up to their way of thinking, and the process has,
for many reasons, to be conducted with extreme caution. They know full
well that they have a difficult and dangerous task before them; that
those who accept Evolution, but are unable to accept their opinions
concerning its spiritual helpfulness, will lapse into agnosticism. They
also know that their views are not popular with conservative believers.

The chief reason, perhaps, for pulpit reticence is that the
enormous majority in the Church still remain hostile to this new
doctrine. They consider it to be dangerous, and likely to unsettle
people's minds. Possibly in their inmost souls, if they have studied
Evolution at all, they agree with a certain distinguished essayist
who says: "A God who could have been deliberately guilty of them (the
Evolutionary processes) would be a God too absurd, too monstrous, too
mad to be credible." [143] The cruelty of the law of prey and struggle
for existence, and the wastefulness of Nature's arrangements for the
reproduction of life (plant and animal alike), do, indeed, appear
sufficient warrant for some such painful impression; while, as if this
were not enough, there is for the Christian the additional difficulty
of reconciling Evolution with the Bible story of the Creation and Fall
of man. These various difficulties must now be carefully investigated.

§ 2. "Nature Red in Tooth and Claw."

Darwin tells us that "there is no exception to the rule that every
organic being naturally increases at such a high rate that, if not
destroyed, the earth would soon be covered by the progeny of a single
pair. Even slow-breeding man has doubled in twenty-five years, and
at this rate in less than a thousand years there would literally not
be standing room for his progeny." [144] [I commend this passage to
the notice of President Roosevelt and others who are so anxious that
we should obey God's command to Noah, and "be fruitful and multiply,
and replenish the earth."] "If all the offspring of the elephant,
the slowest breeder known, survived, there would be, in seven hundred
and fifty years, nearly nineteen million elephants, descended from
the first pair. If the eight or nine million eggs which the roe of
a cod is said to contain, developed into adult codfishes, the sea
would quickly become a solid mass of them. It is the same with the
plants. The lower organisms multiply with an astonishing rapidity, some
minute fungi increasing a billion-fold in a few hours. But we need not
give further examples of this fecundity whereby Nature, 'so careless
of the single life,' secures the race against extinction. The result
is obvious--a ceaseless struggle for food and place. In that struggle
the race is to the swift, and the battle to the strong; the weaker,
be it in brain or body, going to the wall; the vast majority never
reaching maturity, or, if they do, attaining it only to be starved or
slain. As among men competition is sharper between those of the same
trade, so throughout the organic world the struggle is less severe
between different species than between members of the same species,
because these compete more fiercely for their common needs--plants
for the same soil, carnivora for the same prey." [145]

The problem of evil has exercised the mind of man from all time, and
has never yet been solved. In our own time the solution by theology
seems farther off than ever, now that the existence of the Devil is
denied, while the law of prey and struggle for existence is admitted
to be the Creator's own handiwork--to be His Divine plan for the
evolution of all living things. Surely we must admit the inherent
cruelty of the process? Professor Huxley, in an article on the
"Struggle for Existence," concludes that, "since thousands of times
a minute, were our ears sharp enough, we should hear sighs and groans
of pain like those heard by Dante at the gate of hell [not to mention
what we should not hear--the anguish and terror borne in silence],
the world cannot be governed by what we call benevolence." [146]

Winwood Reade, in his striking book, The Martyrdom of Man, says:
"But it is when we open the Book of Nature, that book inscribed in
blood and tears; it is when we study the laws regulating life, the
laws productive of development, that we see plainly how illusive
is this theory that God is Love. In all things there is cruel,
profligate, and abandoned waste. Of all the animals that are born a
few only can survive; and it is owing to this law that development
takes place. The law of murder is the law of growth. Life is one long
tragedy; creation is one great crime. Is it the law of a kind Creator
that no animal shall rise to excellence except by being fatal to the
life of others? It is useless to say that pain has its benevolence,
that massacre has its mercy. Why is it so ordained that bad should be
the raw material of good? Pain is not less pain because it is useful;
murder is not less murder because it is conducive to development. There
is blood upon the hand still, and all the perfumes of Arabia will
not sweeten it." [147]

Robert Blatchford (Nunquam), in his book, God and My Neighbour,
which has caused no little stir of late in certain quarters, speaks
to the same effect: "On land and in sea the animal creation chase and
maim and slay and devour each other. The beautiful swallow on the
wing devours the equally beautiful gnat. The graceful flying fish,
like a fair white bird, goes glancing above the blue magnificence of
the tropical seas. His flight is one of terror; he is pursued by the
ravenous dolphin. The ichneumon-fly lays eggs under the skin of the
caterpillar. The eggs are hatched by the warmth of the caterpillar's
blood. They produce a brood of larvæ which devour the caterpillar
alive.... A germ flies from a stagnant pool, and the laughing child,
its mother's darling, dies dreadfully of diphtheria. A tidal wave rolls
land-ward, and twenty thousand human beings are drowned or crushed
to death. A volcano bursts suddenly into eruption, and the beautiful
city is a heap of ruins, and its inhabitants are charred or mangled
corpses. And the Heavenly Father, who is Love and has power to save,
makes no sign.... Only man helps man. Only man pities; only man tries
to save."

"But," it may be said, "you are giving only the one side--the
freethinker's side--of the question. What are the Christian
evolutionist's replies to these terrible attacks upon our Heavenly
Father?" You shall hear them, and judge for yourself whether they
are likely to convince the multitude.

In the second chapter of his book on Darwinism, Dr. Alfred Russel
Wallace lays himself out to say all that can be said, and a
great deal that cannot reasonably be said, in extenuation of God's
plan. He owns that, "to many persons, Nature appears calm, orderly,
and peaceful. They see the birds singing in the trees, the insects
hovering over the flowers, and all living things in the possession
of health and in the enjoyment of a sunny existence. But they do
not see, and hardly ever think of, the means by which this beauty
and harmony and enjoyment is brought about. They do not see the
constant and daily search after food, the failure to obtain which
means weakness or death; the constant effort to escape enemies;
the ever-recurring struggle against the forces of Nature. This daily
and hourly struggle, this incessant warfare, is, nevertheless, the
very means by which much of the beauty and harmony and enjoyment
in Nature is produced, and also affords one of the most important
elements in bringing about the origin of the species." After showing
that the struggle for existence has proved a stumbling-block in the
way of those who would fain believe in the all-wise and benevolent
Ruler of the universe, he goes on to say that "all this is greatly
exaggerated"; that "the supposed torments and miseries of animals
have little real existence, but are the reflection of the imagined
sensations of cultivated men and women under similar circumstances";
and that "the amount of actual suffering caused by the struggle for
existence among animals is altogether insignificant." Space, and
a consideration for a possibly impatient reader, prevent my wading
through the paltry reasons he proceeds to bring forward in order to
try to prove that pain is not pain, and that the less degree of pain
suffered by an animal or a savage is an excuse for its infliction.

The Rev. Professor Flint's book on Theism [148] is much patronised by
the Church as an apologetic book of the highest order. The Professor
tries to show (p. 204) that, although the process of development
involves privation, pain, and conflict, it is subservient to the
noblest end, because the final result is, as he alleges, order and
beauty. All the perfections of sentient creatures are, he owns, due to
this painful process. "Through it the lion has gained its strength,
the deer its speed, the dog its sagacity. The suffering which the
conflict involves may indicate that God has made even animals for
some higher end than happiness--that He cares for animals' perfection
as well as for animals' enjoyment. The ends are eminently worthy of a
Divine intelligence." The Professor does not explain why, to paraphrase
one of Mr. Lowes Dickenson's sage remarks, the less perfectly evolved
generations should be sacrificed in order that future generations may
be heirs of an unearned increment. Myself, I fail to see that even
the ends, whatever they may happen to be--and they appear distinctly
nebulous--can ever justify the cruel means; and I feel sure that our
dumb fellow-creatures, the principal parties concerned, would agree
with me, had they the power of reflection and speech. How can they,
how can we, profess to approve of a plan that brings only unhappiness
in its train? Suppose it were necessary in order to give more happiness
in an after-life, the creature might meekly wonder why he or she had
first to suffer pain, but could imagine, as the pious imagine, that
it must be for some good purpose. Does Dr. Flint mean to say that
there is an after-life for all living things? The learned Professor
tries to explain pain away by describing its preservative use. He
says (p. 246): "Were animals insusceptible of pain, they would be
in continual peril." That would certainly spoil the evolutionary
Creator's plans; but it hardly excuses His methods. Professor Flint,
however, argues that, though pain is not an end in itself, it is a
means to an end, and "its end is a benevolent one." How, I ask does it
profit the creature itself to become ever so graceful in appearance,
ever so perfect in mind and body, if it is only to gratify its Maker,
who has an end in view with which it is in no wise itself concerned,
and to attain which infinite pain has to be endured? Which would you
or I rather be--lovely and unhappy, or ugly and happy?

There is another of these attempts to relieve doubt which I should
like to bring to notice. The little book entitled In Relief of Doubt,
by the Rev. E. Welsh, highly recommended by the Bishop of London,
and one of the books selected by the Christian Evidence Society for
their examination in March, 1907, is quoted from by Dr. Warschauer
[149] when refuting Mr. Blatchford's remarks on the cruelty of
Nature. Dr. Warschauer selects the passage where Mr. Welsh says
(p. 103): "We probably overstate the actual anguish of the lower
creatures, imagining that they are bundles of sensitive nerves
and quick brains like our own, and that they therefore have our
sensibility to pain. A trodden worm writhes, and we credit it with
all the pain that the foot of a Brobdingnag would inflict on a
delicate child under his heel." Now, I am quite sure we credit no
such thing. If we did, we, and especially the Isaak Waltons among us,
would be perfect monsters of cruelty. Mark, too, how Messrs. Welsh and
Warschauer carefully select for their illustration a worm--one of the
lowly organised invertebrates! I may mention that Dr. Warschauer's
book was particularly recommended to me by a well-read cleric,
who thought that it was an admirable and complete refutation of
Mr. Blatchford's arguments. Dr. Warschauer will hardly advance his
cause by transparently omitting all mention of the higher animals,
or of that bundle of nerves called man.

Nor will the average man agree with Professor Wallace that "it is
difficult even to imagine a system by which a greater balance of
happiness could have been secured." Was it, for example, impossible for
God to have decreed that sentient life should feed only on non-sentient
life? Could He not have brought about development without all this
terrible struggle? One would think that Messrs. Warschauer and Wallace
must not only have had a particularly good time themselves in this
world, but must have purposely shut their eyes to the misery all round
them. If they had to change places with a wounded Russian or Japanese
writhing in agony on the battlefield, I wonder whether their optimism
would stand the test? The bravest of us shudder at the idea of being
buried alive, and yet this was just the very fate of many a poor fellow
in that truly terrible war. Not that man did not do his utmost. "One
by one the dead and injured were carefully and tenderly taken out,"
relates an eye-witness, "and many a tear was shed by strong men at
the terrible sights we had to witness. The worst part of our work was
to have to endure the agonising cries of the men who were suffering
terrible torture; but everyone helped so willingly that we felt that
we were not doing enough." Please note, on the one hand, the cruel
torture, and, on the other, the sympathy of man.

I will not weary or distress you further, gentle reader, with harrowing
details of the pain that is endured alike by man and beast. It is
all so well known. I shall only ask you to listen to a little story
from the leaves of a naturalist's note-book, and to put to yourself
a few questions. "A sparrow-hawk suddenly dashed under the branches
of a hedgerow oak, and seized a linnet. But the bird of prey had not
calculated upon the missel-thrush whose nest was in the oak, and who
made it his business to have no suspicious strangers loitering in
the neighbourhood. With an angry 'jarr,' and a swoop that would have
done credit to the hawk himself, the plucky missel-thrush was upon
the marauder almost at the same instant that the linnet was seized;
a feather--a hawk's feather--floated in the air, and the astonished
bird of prey flung himself sideways, and spread his talons to meet
the next assault. This action released the linnet, who sped away into
the next parish like a bullet, while the missel-thrush, perched in
the oak tree again, noisily threatened to repeat the attack. So the
sparrow-hawk departed in the opposite direction to the linnet, and
in two minutes all birddom was twittering and squabbling as before
on the site of what was so very nearly a sudden tragedy." Is not your
sympathy, humane reader, all with the linnet and its gallant rescuer,
although the hawk was but carrying out the behests of its Maker! Does
it not give us a thrill of pleasure when the lion is baulked of his
prey--when the pet lamb is rescued from the butcher? Are we, then,
more merciful than God? Was it Jesus or was it the gentle Gautama
that marked

        "How lizard fed on ant, and snake on him,
        And kite on both; and how the fish-hawk robbed
        The fish-tiger of that which it had seized;
        The shrike chasing the bulbul, which did hunt
        The jewelled butterflies; till everywhere
        Each slew a slayer, and in turn was slain,
        Life living upon death. So the fair show,
        Veiled one vast, savage, grim conspiracy
        Of mutual murder, from the worm to man,
        Who himself kills his fellow"? [150]

§ 3. The Bible Account of Creation Irreconcilable with Science in
Each and Every Respect.

The hypothesis respecting the past history of Nature, which was
formerly, and is still very largely, accepted by Christians, is
the doctrine fully and clearly stated in the immortal poem of John
Milton--the English Divina Commedia--Paradise Lost. There is the best
of reasons for the popularity of this doctrine. It agrees literally
with the plain words of the Bible. The hypothesis is briefly this:
"That this visible universe of ours came into existence at no great
distance of time from the present, and that the parts of which it is
composed made their appearance, in a certain definite order, in the
space of six natural days, in such a manner that on the first of these
days light appeared; that on the second the firmament or sky separated
the waters above from the waters beneath the firmament; that on the
third day the waters drew away from the dry land, and upon it a varied
vegetable life, similar to that which now exists, made its appearance;
that the fourth day was signalised by the apparition of the sun, the
stars, the moon, and the planets; that on the fifth day aquatic animals
originated within the waters; that on the sixth day the earth gave
rise to our four-footed terrestrial creatures, and to all variations of
terrestrial animals except birds, which had appeared on the preceding
day; and, finally, that man appeared upon the earth, and the emergence
of the universe from chaos was finished." [151] This interpretation
is that which has been instilled into most of us in our childhood;
but, "if we are to listen to many expositors of no mean authority,
we must believe that what seems so clearly defined in Genesis--as if
very great pains had been taken that there should be no possibility of
mistake--is not the meaning of the text at all. The account is divided
into periods that we may make just as long or as short as convenience
requires. We are also to understand that it is consistent with the
original text to believe that the most complex plants and animals
may have been evolved by natural processes, lasting for millions of
years, out of structureless rudiments. A person who is not a Hebrew
scholar can only stand aside and admire the marvellous flexibility
of a language which admits of such diverse interpretations." [152]

Furthermore, we are to understand that there is no disagreement
between theology and science in the sequence of the six acts of
creation. Here at least we are not asked to twist words round so that
one may mean a million. We have a definite statement which science
either supports or it does not. The reader who knows that the verdict
of science is negative may ask: "What is the use of wasting my time
over a Christian argument which has long since been exploded?" I
crave his pardon and patience; but, however true it may be that
Mr. Gladstone's position was shown to be untenable, it is equally
true that an enormous number of persons still persist in maintaining
that there is a remarkable coincidence of the Pentateuchal story with
the result of modern investigation, and that science supports them in
this conclusion. The Very Rev. Henry Wace, D.D., Dean of Canterbury,
in his address before the Christian Association of University College,
London, on May 7th, 1903, reminded his hearers that a President of the
British Association (Sir William Dawson) had stated that "it would
not be easy even now to construct a statement of the development
of the world in popular terms so concise and so accurate" as the
first chapter of Genesis. And Dr. Wace asks: "From whence could have
come this marvellous approximation, to say the least, to the facts
which science has been slowly revealing but from the Divine wisdom
which alone was cognizant of them, and could alone make them known
to mankind?"

A short time ago a lady very kindly sent me a little pamphlet,
entitled Roger's Reasons; or, The Bible and Science, written by the
Rev. John Urquhart. In this there is a resurrection pie of the old,
old arguments, dished up again in such a guise as to take in the
unwary and ill-informed, who would have no suspicion that the food
thus given them for their refection was not only stale, but had
been condemned as unfit for mental consumption by the whole of the
scientific faculty. The lady above mentioned considered the reasoning
perfectly convincing, and so possibly would ninety-nine Christian
ladies out of a hundred. Mr. Urquhart is now much in evidence as a
Christian apologist, and his pamphlet is being distributed broadcast
(81,000 have already been issued), so that it does seem worth while
taking some notice of the attempts that are still being made to treat
the Creation myth as a Divine revelation. That modern science does
not support either the interpretation put upon the Bible story of the
Creation by Mr. Urquhart or by Mr. Gladstone, or any interpretation
which is compatible with the general sense of the narrative, can
be ascertained by anyone who will read Professor Huxley's essays,
"The Interpreters of Genesis" and "Mr. Gladstone and Genesis." A few
quotations from these essays may enable the reader to form a slight
idea of the decisive manner in which the assertion that modern science
supports the Bible narrative is controverted by science herself.

Speaking of Mr. Gladstone's contention that the statements in the
first two verses of Genesis are supported by the nebular hypothesis,
Professor Huxley remarks: "But science knows nothing of any stage
in which the universe could be said, in other than a metaphorical
and popular sense, to be formless or empty; or in any respect less
the seat of law and order than it is now. One might as well talk of
a fresh-laid hen's egg being 'without form and void' because the
chick therein is potential and not actual, as apply such terms to
the nebulous mass which contains a potential solar system."

In a note at the end of the second essay, "Mr. Gladstone and Genesis,"
there is an excellent exposition of the "Proper Sense of the 'Mosaic'
Narrative of the Creation." Among other points, Huxley, of course,
notices how the stars are, as it were, thrown in--"He made the stars
also." These words have always struck me as making it peculiarly clear
that the "Mosaic" narrative originated from man, and not from God. The
unknown authors of the Hexateuchal compilation were almost as ignorant
of the nature of the stars and of their unthinkable distance away
from us as a camel-driver in Sind, who gravely informed a friend of
mine that the stars were once quite close to the earth, until one fine
day a certain woman (it is always the woman who causes the mischief)
grabbed hold of one and used it for cleaning her child, whereupon
the gods, much annoyed at such presumption on the part of mankind,
moved them far enough off to be safe from further desecration.

That the order of Creation as given in the Bible cannot be maintained
will be clearly seen if we take the particular case of the birds and
creeping things. Science does not affirm that the birds were made
before "everything that creepeth upon the earth." Mr. Gladstone
tries to get over the difficulty by excluding reptiles, lizards,
etc., from the category of creeping things. This will appear in the
course of the following quotations from Professor Huxley's essay on
"Mr. Gladstone and Genesis":--

"Mr. Gladstone's views as to the proper method of dealing with grave
and difficult scientific and religious problems had permitted him
to base a solemn 'plea for a revelation of truth from God' upon an
error as to a matter of fact, from which the intelligent perusal of
a manual of palæontology would have saved him.... He does, indeed,
make a great parade of authorities, and I have the greatest respect for
those authorities whom Mr. Gladstone mentions. If he will get them to
sign a joint memorial to the effect that our present palæontological
evidence proves that birds appeared before the 'land population'
of terrestrial reptiles, I shall think it my duty to reconsider my
position--but not till then.... I have every respect for the singer
of the Song of the Three Children (whoever he may have been);
I desire to cast no shadow of doubt upon, but, on the contrary,
marvel at, the exactness of Mr. Gladstone's information as to the
considerations which 'affected the method of the Mosaic writer';
nor do I venture to doubt that the inconvenient intrusion of these
contemptible reptiles--'a family fallen from greatness,' a miserable,
decayed aristocracy reduced to mere 'skulkers about the earth,'
in consequence, apparently, of difficulties about the occupation
of land arising out of the earth-hunger of their former serfs,
the mammals--into an apologetic argument, which would otherwise run
quite smoothly, is in every way to be deprecated. Still, the wretched
creatures stand there, importunately demanding notice; and, however
different may be the practice in that contentious atmosphere with
which Mr. Gladstone expresses and laments his familiarity, in the
atmosphere of science it really is of no avail whatever to shut one's
eyes to facts, or to try and bury them out of sight under a tumulus
of rhetoric.... However reprehensible, and, indeed, contemptible,
terrestrial reptiles may be, the only question which appears to me
to be relevant to my argument is whether these creatures are or are
not comprised under the denomination of 'everything that creepeth
upon the ground.'... Hence I commend the following extract from the
eleventh chapter of Leviticus to Mr. Gladstone's serious attention:--

    And these are they which are unclean unto you among the creeping
    things that creep upon the earth: the weasel, and the mouse,
    and the great lizard after its kind, and the gecko, and the
    land-crocodile, and the sand-lizard, and the chameleon. These
    are they which are unclean to you among all that creep (v. 29-31).

The merest Sunday-school exegesis, therefore, suffices to prove that,
when the Mosaic writer in Genesis 1. 24 speaks of 'creeping things,'
he means to include lizards among them. This being so, it is agreed
on all hands that terrestrial lizards and other reptiles allied to
lizards occur in the Permian strata. It is further agreed that the
Triassic strata were deposited after these. Moreover, it is well known
that, even if certain footprints are to be taken as unquestionable
evidence of the existence of birds, they are not known to occur in
rocks earlier than the Trias, while indubitable remains of birds are
not to be met with till much later. Hence it follows that natural
science does not 'affirm' the statement that birds were made on the
fifth day, and 'everything that creepeth on the ground' on the sixth,
on which Mr. Gladstone rests his order; for, as is shown by Leviticus,
the 'Mosaic writer' includes lizards among his creeping things." [153]

The crust of the earth is a book having for its pages strata that have,
fortunately, been upturned for our perusal, and the story it tells
must be true. The series of fossiliferous deposits which contain the
remains of the animals which have lived on the earth in past ages
of its history afford the evidence required concerning the order of
appearance of the different species. As Professor Huxley says elsewhere
[154]: "When we consider these simple facts, we see how absolutely
futile are the attempts that have been made to draw a parallel between
the story told by so much of the crust of the earth as is known to us
and the story which Milton tells." Still, the story which Milton tells
is in accord with the story which the Bible tells to those who are
not given to playing conjuring tricks with the plain meaning of words.

Finally, we must remember that "hundreds of thousands of animal
species, as distinct as those which now compose our water, land, and
air populations, have come into existence and died out again." "If the
species of animals have all been separately created, then it follows
that hundreds of thousands of acts of creative energy have occurred,
at intervals throughout the whole time recorded by the fossiliferous
rocks; and, during the greater part of that time, the 'creation' of
the members of the water, land, and air populations must have gone
on contemporaneously." [155]

The common-sense view of the Creation story, and one that is now widely
accepted even by orthodox Christians, is that it is a myth. Many
of us will, therefore, agree with Professor Huxley when he says:
"I suppose it to be an hypothesis respecting the origin of the
universe which some ancient thinker found himself able to reconcile
with his knowledge, or what he thought was knowledge, of the nature
of things, and therefore assumed to be true. As such, I hold it to be
not merely an interesting, but a venerable, monument of a stage in the
mental progress of mankind; and I find it difficult to suppose that
any one who is acquainted with the cosmogonies of other nations--and
especially with those of the Egyptians and the Babylonians, with whom
the Israelites were in such frequent and intimate communication--should
consider it to possess either more or less scientific importance than
may be allotted to these." [156]

It may not be inappropriate to conclude this section with Milton's
conception of the last act of creation, so charmingly simple and so
strictly according to the Bible and what Christ Himself believed,
and yet so completely untrue:--

        The sixth, and of creation last, arose
        With ev'ning harps and matin, when God said,
        Let the earth bring forth soul living in her kind:
        Cattle and creeping things, and beast of the earth,
        Each in their kind. The earth obey'd, and straight
        Op'ning her fertile womb teem'd at a birth
        Innumerous living creatures, perfect forms,
        Limb'd and full grown....

        There waited yet the master-work, the end
        Of all yet done; a creature who, not prone
        And brute as other creatures, but indu'd
        With sanctity of reason, might erect
        His stature, and upright with front serene
        Govern the rest, self knowing:...

        ... Therefore the omnipotent
        Eternal Father--for where is not he
        Present?--thus to his Son audibly spake:
        Let us make now man in our image, man
        In our similitude, and let them rule
        Over the fish and fowl of sea and air,
        Beast of the field, and over all the earth,
        And every creeping thing that creeps the ground.
        Thus said, he form'd thee, Adam, thee, O man,
        Dust of the ground, and in thy nostrils breath'd
        The breath of life: in his own image he
        Created thee, in the image of God
        Express, and thou becam'st a living soul.

            --Paradise Lost, Book VII., 449-456, 505-510, 516-528.

§ 4. Proofs of Our Animal Origin.

The third and last of the Evolution stumbling-blocks is that connected
with the dogma of the Fall and Atonement. Before considering this, it
will be better, I think, to summarise as briefly and simply as possible
some of the chief proofs of our animal origin. The well-informed can
skip this section, which is intended for the benefit of that vast
majority--the ill-informed. Space will not permit me to do much more
than allude to the proofs; but anyone really desirous of convincing
himself or herself of the truth of the doctrine, and at the same
time wishing to avoid details that might possibly prove wearisome,
will find it popularly treated in Huxley's work on Man's Place in
Nature (Macmillan); in Dennis Hird's An Easy Outline of Evolution
(Watts & Co.; 2s. 6d.); in Edward Clodd's The Story of Creation
(Watts & Co.; 6d.); in S. Laing's Modern Science and Modern Thought
(Watts & Co.; 6d.); in Haeckel's Riddle of the Universe (Watts & Co.;
6d.), though this can hardly, perhaps, be described as popular; and in
Metchnikoff's The Nature of Man (Heinemann, 1903; 12s. 6d.). The most
complete work on the subject is Haeckel's The Evolution of Man (Watts
& Co., 1905; 42s.; abridged edition, 2s.). This is in two volumes,
copiously illustrated, of which the first is entirely devoted to human
embryology or ontogeny, a branch of science which furnishes the most
overwhelming evidence.

The proofs may, roughly speaking, be grouped under three heads--the
extraordinary affinity of bodily structure, the revelations of
embryology, and the tale told by the useless rudimentary organs. We
will commence with


"It is notorious that man is constructed on the same general type
or model with other mammals. All the bones in his skeleton can be
compared with corresponding bones in a monkey, bat, or seal. So it
is with his muscles, nerves, blood-vessels, and viscera. The brain,
the most important of all the organs, follows the same law, as shown
by Huxley and other anatomists." [157] Man's nearest animal relations
are the tailless anthropoid or man-like apes--namely, the gorilla,
the chimpanzee, the orang, and the gibbon. "Now that all the details
of the human organisation have been studied, and the anatomical
structures of man and large monkeys without tails have been compared,
bone with bone, and muscle with muscle, a truly astonishing analogy
between these organisms is made manifest--an analogy apparent in every
detail." [158] The following are some of the points more particularly
calling for notice:--

Dentition.--In the natural history of mammals the teeth play
an important part as a means of determining differences and
relationships. "Everyone knows the milk teeth and the permanent
teeth of man. The anthropoid apes bear in this respect an astonishing
likeness to man. The number (thirty-two in the adult), the form and
general arrangement of the crown, are identical in man and anthropoid
apes. The differences are to be found only in minor details." [159]
"But the fact must not be lost sight of that all these differences
are less pronounced than those which exist between the dentition of
anthropoid apes and that of all other monkeys." [160]

The Foot.--Anti-evolutionists have laid great stress on the difference
between the foot of a man and that of an anthropoid ape. But it is
clearly shown by Huxley that in all essential respects the hinder
limb of the gorilla terminates in as true a foot as that of man,
[161] and "that, be the differences between the hand and foot of man
and those of the gorilla what they may, the differences between those
of the gorilla and those of the lower apes are much greater." [162]

The Sacrum.--"In monkeys, as a whole, the sacrum is composed of
three, or rarely four, vertebræ, while in anthropoid apes it contains
five--that is to say, just as many as in man." [163]

The Skull.--Here the differences are more marked; but again we must
remind ourselves that, as regards the osteology, Professor Huxley tells
us that "for the skull, no less than for the skeleton in general,
the proposition holds good that the differences between man and the
gorilla are of smaller value than those between the gorilla and some
other apes." [164]

The Brain.--Several distinguished zoologists at one time insisted on
the absence in all monkeys of certain parts of the brain peculiarly
characteristic of man, but now it is unanimously accepted that
the parts of the brain in question are "precisely those structures
which are the most marked cerebral characters common to man with the
apes. They are among the most distinctly simian peculiarities which
the human organism exhibits." [165]

The difference between the brain of the orang and that of man is a mere
difference of degree, and not of kind; and most students of comparative
psychology now admit that the intellectual faculties of animals differ
from those in man in degree only, not in their essence. Replying to
his opponents, Professor Huxley compares the brain of man and that
of ape with two watches, one of which will, and the other will not,
keep accurate time. He exclaims: "A hair in the balance-wheel, a little
rust on a pinion, a bend in a tooth of the escapement, a something so
slight that only the practised eye of the watchmaker can discover it,
may be the source of all the difference." [166]

The late Sir Charles Lyell mentions in his Antiquity of Man how
Dr. Sumner, the late Archbishop of Canterbury, brought out in strong
relief fifty years ago, in his Records of Creation, one essential
character separating man from the brute. As the same argument is still
being "brought out," and is, on the face of it, exceedingly plausible,
and as the answer to it has to do with the brain, it cannot be passed
over. Dr. Sumner said: "It has been sometimes alleged, and may be
founded on fact, that there is less difference between the highest
brute animal and the lowest savage than between the savage and the
most improved man. But, in order to warrant the pretended analogy,
it ought to be also true that this lowest savage is no more capable
of improvement than the chimpanzee or orang-outang." This objection
is met by some such consideration as the following:--When you examine
the enormous difference in the formation of the skull in man and ape
(look, for instance, at plate xvii., vol. ii. of Haeckel's Evolution
of Man), and when you remember that this sets hard at an early date,
you surely have a good reason for limited improvability. Further, the
brain of even the lowest savage represents a development of some half
a million years above the ape along the line of intelligence. How,
then, can we dream of making this up in one or a few generations by
artificial training of the ape? Lastly, we have the enormous leverage
of language, the inherited wealth of thousands of speaking generations,
and an incalculable aid to thought. How much is the intelligence of
the Microcephalæ, the clucking "small heads" lately on show at the
Hippodrome, capable of rapid improvement? Our experiments do not show
that the ape is not improvable, but only that we cannot, in a single
generation, lift it over a gulf representing 500,000 years of human
development. How can we expect it?

The Blood.--In the last few years an astonishing confirmation of our
relationship to the anthropoid ape has been discovered. We are blood
relations. Elie Metchnikoff, Professor at the Pasteur Institute, shows
this clearly in his book, The Nature of Man. [167] Until quite recently
it was not known how to distinguish human blood from that of other
mammals. A method giving conclusive results has now been discovered,
and is used in forensic medicine. The same method has been employed in
comparing the blood of man and the anthropoid apes, resulting in the
discovery [168] that, in their case, there is practically no blood
difference whatever!


The opponents of Evolution used to appeal to the special features of
human embryology, which were supposed to distinguish man from all
the other mammals; but in 1890 Emil Selenka proved that the same
features are found in anthropoid apes, especially in the orang,
while the lower apes are without them.

"When Huxley wrote, the embryological history of anthropoid apes was
practically unknown. Darwin, Vogt, and Haeckel, in their attempts to
support the theory of the animal origin of man, had not sufficient
knowledge of the embryology of monkeys. It is only recently that
important work on this subject has been published.... The placenta
often gives information of great importance in the classification of
mammals. It is sufficient to glance at the zonary placenta of dogs and
seals to be convinced of the relationship of these two species which at
first sight seem so different. Now, the placentas of all the anthropoid
apes examined up to the present are of the same discoid type as that of
man. The arrangement of the umbilical cord of man, which was formerly
considered as quite peculiar to him, is found in anthropoid apes,
as has been established by Deniker and Selenka. It is striking that
the anthropoids resemble man rather than the lower monkeys in the
relation of the foetus to the foetal membranes. With regard to the
embryos themselves, the similarity between those of monkeys and man
is very great.... The youngest stages of human development that have
been obtained can hardly be distinguished from those of the lower
monkeys either in position or shape. More advanced stages exhibit
greater differentiation, and the later embryos of man resemble those
of anthropoids much more closely than those of the lower monkeys. The
resemblance between the nearly mature foetus of anthropoids and human
embryos of about the sixth month is evident enough." [169]

We are thus bound, in all honesty, to own up to our ape-like
progenitors. But this is only a small portion of the wonderful tale
told by Embryology. "Man is developed from an ovule about 125th of an
inch in diameter, which differs in no respect from the ovules of other
animals," [170] and, marvellous to relate, from that stage upwards the
embryo is one continuous epitome of the history of man's evolution from
lower forms of life. [171] Up to a certain point the germs, not only
of all mammals, but of all vertebrate animals, fishes, reptiles, and
birds, are scarcely distinguishable. A sceptic may convince himself
by studying the plates given in Haeckel's The Evolution of Man, and
especially plates ix. to xiv., where the embryos of various animals
are compared. At the more advanced stage, where the embryo has already
passed the reptilian form, we find that for a considerable time the
line of development remains the same as that of other mammalia. The
resemblance, for example, after the first four weeks' growth,
between the embryo of a man and that of a dog is such that it is
scarcely possible to distinguish the one from the other. Even at the
age of eight weeks the embryo man is an animal with a tail, hardly
to be distinguished from an embryo puppy. [172] After this period
the embryo emerges from the general mammalian type into the special
order of primates to which man belongs. Thus does the growth of the
egg from which man springs compress into a few weeks the results of
millions of years, and set before us the history of his development
from fish-like and reptilian forms (which, as we have seen, p. 211,
Mr. Gladstone deemed so contemptible and "fallen from greatness"),
and of his more immediate descent from a hairy, tailed quadruped,
the extinct common ancestor of man and monkey. As evolution proceeds
the embryo rises up to man, and the differences specialising the
human infant at its birth, such as the largeness and more complex
convolutions of the brain, become more and more accentuated as its
growth proceeds.

Regarding the question of "gaps," we have to bear in mind that it is
part of the evolutionary theory that the active processes of evolution
have very largely ceased, that existing forms are but a surviving
remnant with enormous gaps, and that the survivors are so fitted at
present to their surroundings that evolutionary forces are causative
of equilibrium rather than change. We have already seen, too, that
in the struggle for existence it is among the closely-allied species
that the contest is more strenuous, and that the weakest, or least
fitted to survive, has to go to the wall--to be wiped out. Thus it
is that there is a tendency for species to become extinct, and for
the gaps to be widened. The extraordinary thing is not that we have
so little direct evidence of descent, but that we have so much. That
there are not more links missing is due principally to the discovery
of fossil remains. When an animal dies, the probabilities are, of
course, enormously against geological preservation of its bones, yet
the gaps are continually being filled up by geological finds, and,
though the remaining gaps may be great, they are not unaccountable.

I must now pass on to the remaining set of proofs of our origin.


Perhaps nothing furnishes a more conclusive proof of our animal origin
than the study of rudimentary structures--muscles, sense-organs,
hair, bones, reproductive organs, etc. There are some which are
"either absolutely useless, such as the mammæ of the male quadrupeds
or the incisor teeth of ruminants which never cut through the gums;
or they are of such slight service to their present possessors that
we cannot suppose that they were developed under the conditions which
now exist." [173] Of useless rudimentary organs, or parts of organs,
there are not less than one hundred and seven in man. [174] To this
category belong the coccyx--the vestige of a tail--the muscles of
the ear, the vermiform appendage, etc.

"The os coccyx in man, though functionless as a tail, plainly
represents this part in other vertebrate animals. At an early embryonic
period it is free, and, as we have seen, projects beyond the lower
extremities." [175] It sometimes happens that we find external relics
of a tail. Professor Haeckel, in Fig. 195, vol. i. of The Evolution
of Man (library edition), shows the tail of a six months' old boy,
which Granville Harrison removed by operation. The anthropoid ape,
like man, has only the rudiment of a tail.

The ear muscles are rudimentary in man. "It is well known how readily
domestic animals--horses, cows, dogs, hares, etc.--point their
ears and move them in different directions. Most of the apes do the
same, and our earlier ape ancestors were also able to do it. But our
later simian ancestors, which we have in common with the anthropoid
apes, abandoned the use of these muscles, and they gradually became
rudimentary and useless. However, we possess them still. In fact,
some men can still move their ears a little backward and forward by
means of the drawing and withdrawing muscles; and with practice this
faculty can be much improved. But no man can now lift up his ears by
the raising muscle, or change the shape of them by the small inner
muscles. These muscles were very useful to our ancestors, but are of
no consequence to us. This applies to most of the anthropoid apes as
well." [176]

The vermiform appendage of the coecum is not only practically useless,
but the source of that extremely dangerous complaint, appendicitis. It
is remarkable that this organ is practically identical with the
vermiform appendage of anthropoid apes, yet none of the other
monkeys present any such resemblance with men. Professor Haeckel,
speaking of the vermiform appendage, says: "The only significance
of it in man is that not infrequently a cherry-stone or some other
hard and indigestible matter penetrates into its narrow cavity,
and by setting up inflammation and suppuration causes the death
of otherwise sound men. Teleology has great difficulty in giving a
rational explanation of, and attributing to a beneficent Providence,
this dreaded appendicitis. In our plant-eating ancestors this
rudimentary organ was much larger, and had a useful function." [177]

"In order to understand the existence of rudimentary organs, we
have only to suppose that a former progenitor possessed the parts
in question in a perfect state, and that under changed habits of
life they became greatly reduced, either from simple disuse or
through the natural selection of those individuals which were least
encumbered with a superfluous part, aided by the other means previously
indicated." [178]

Whatever the precise explanation may be, can we bring ourselves
to suppose that God created us with a number of useless organs, or
that He placed them there as a snare to entrap our judgment? Again,
"rudimentary organs, for the most part, display a congenital lack of
the power of resistance, and, as Darwin suggested, for this reason
they are frequently the seats of disease." [179] Can anyone imagine
his Maker arranging all this on purpose? I can not. We are assured
by pious apologists that God has instituted pain in order to save us
from injuring ourselves; how can He, then, have specially provided
us with organs whose only function is to be a source of danger?

Many other examples might be given bearing on this line of argument;
but enough has been said, I hope, to convince the reader that in
these rudimentary organs there is overpowering evidence against
separate acts of creation, and in favour of an animal origin of the
human race. Besides this, we have also the evidence derived from the
study of our bodily structure and embryonic development. The bearing
of these three great classes of fact is, as Charles Darwin remarks,
unmistakeable. "It is only our natural prejudice, and that arrogance
which made our own forefathers declare that they were descended from
demi-gods, which lead us to demur to this conclusion." [180]

§ 5. The Overthrow of the Doctrines of the Fall and Original Sin.


No Biblical standpoint is more directly opposed to modern evolutionary
views than the doctrine of the Fall and Atonement. We have seen, in
the chapters on the Higher Criticism and on Comparative Mythology,
that the Bible story of Creation is nothing but a borrowed legend;
and we have now seen that it could not in any case be true. If it
were, Evolution would be untrue. Now, the account of the fall of man
is an exceedingly important portion of the Bible, the whole fabric of
the Christian faith being constructed upon it; and there is no doubt
whatever that the average Christian realises this, and continues to
believe in the "Fall." He may accept the doctrine of the evolution of
the physical nature of man; but he flatly denies that his intellect and
moral attributes were a part of the process, although such authorities
as Darwin, Huxley, and Romanes clearly point out that man's intellect
and moral sense have arisen from lower stages of the same faculties
in his primate ancestors.

The conservative Christian believes that man was originally endowed
with a lofty moral nature; that he succumbed to temptation; that he
became a degraded being; that he has been working out his punishment
ever since; and that his hope of escape from the curse laid upon all
mankind lies in the atonement made by Jesus Christ. Even if inclined to
have views less strictly in accord with the Christian teaching of the
past eighteen hundred years, he still believes that all this is true in
some sort of allegorical sense which cannot be exactly defined. Lastly,
there is an ever-swelling host of perplexed Christians who, in their
heart of hearts, feel much as Mr. Blatchford does when he says:
"God is all-powerful. He could have made Adam strong enough to resist
Eve. He could have made Eve strong enough to resist the serpent. He
need not have made the serpent at all. God is all-knowing. Therefore,
when He made Adam and Eve and the serpent He knew that Adam and Eve
must fall. And if God knew they must fall, how could Adam help falling,
and how could he justly be blamed for doing what he must do? God made
a bridge--built it Himself, of His own materials, to His own design,
and knew what the bearing strain of the bridge was. If, then, God
put upon the bridge a weight equal to double the bearing strain,
how could God justly blame the bridge for falling?" [181]

The average divine, whatever his denomination, is usually in no
hurry to accept Evolutionist theories of the Fall, or, if he does,
he keeps it to himself. Dean Wace thinks the tale of Eden and the
Fall is partly historical, partly allegorical, and, in any case,
true to Christian experience; and Cardinal Newman considered that the
whole orthodox Christian scheme stood or fell with a belief in some
great "aboriginal catastrophe." Progressive divines teach, on the
contrary, that the narrative of the Fall is not to be understood as
literal history, any more than the visions of the Apocalypse are to
be understood as a literal description of heaven. "For us," they say,
"the underlying truth, and not the outward form in which that truth is
clothed, is the essential thing." [As our first parents are represented
as being in a state of guileless simplicity, and subsequently falling
in with the tempting serpent, who, in obvious contrast with their
untried innocence, is described as a being of special subtilty, the
"underlying truth" appears to be that, with God's cognisance, man
is continually being taken advantage of by a crafty spirit of evil;
or, to keep more closely to the religious evolutionist's idea, man's
better nature, implanted by God, is being continually got the better
of by animal instincts implanted by ----?] These enlightened clerics
are in a somewhat delicate position, and none probably recognise this
more than they do themselves, as testified lately by the fact of over
a hundred of their number distributing a manifesto to all the clergy
of the Church of England, in which they express a desire to receive
authoritative encouragement to face critical problems with entire
candour. [182]


The gravity of the situation and the divergence of the new from the old
teaching are summed up by the Church Times in the following pertinent
remarks:--"It is impossible for Christians to affect nonchalance as to
the result of the controversy between anthropologists like Lubbock,
Lyell, Huxley, Haeckel, and Fiske, who assert the human race to have
continuously (with whatever relapses) progressed out of brutish and
squalid barbarism, and those who, like the late Duke of Argyll, Lang,
Tylor, Hartmann, [183] Renouf, and most missionaries, maintain that
savagery is a declension from higher things, and that 'man's natural
state is civilisation'--not, of course, the civilisation of Paris and
London, of trousers and half-penny papers, nor yet Rousseau's anarchic
golden age, but creation in God's image after His likeness. It is said
that we need believe no more about our first parents than that they
were innocent--i.e., had not yet made trial of good and evil; that the
'former Adam,' even after he had ceased to be a pithecoid hanging
by his tail from boughs, and long after his mollusc [184] stage of
existence, was still as primus homo, a demi-witted creature, burrowing
in holes, gnawing roots, grunting, grimacing, snarling, shuddering; not
even a noble savage, but bestial and grovelling. As moral consciousness
slowly woke in him, he misused his powers; but such a 'fall' was really
an advance. Such is the latest version of Paradise lost--of that great
disinheritance, that moral and spiritual catastrophe, which, St. Paul
avers, was the entrance of death into the world by one man, and which,
he seems to say, dragged down the lower creation when the son of God,
'paragon of animals, noble in reason, infinite in faculty,' fell in
Eden. We do not urge that the two teachings cannot be reconciled;
but it is clear that the immense difficulty is not to be dismissed
by saying that the Bible is a mosaic, not Mosaic, or that it does
not profess to instruct us in anthropology." [185]

There is a downrightness and lucidity about this criticism of advanced
theology which one cannot but admire, although one may not be able to
share its optimism as to the chance of the two teachings ever becoming
reconciled. How can they? Consider the unsatisfactory nature of the
following speculations by means of which the clerical evolutionist
hopes to surmount the stumbling-block of the Fall.


Dr. Gore, Bishop of Worcester, now of Birmingham, who is an adherent
of Evolution, speaks mysteriously of a "fall from without." [186] As
the question is of enormous importance to the truth of Christianity,
I propose to examine Dr. Gore's thesis at some length. He grants
that the idea of special creation is inconceivable, and that our race
has an animal ancestry, and then gives us the following description
of primeval man, which (shades of our forefathers!) he assures
us is according to the Bible and the enlightened ideas of early
Christianity: "Man began at the bottom, immature, in the fullest
sense of immaturity, totally undeveloped, but with a capacity for
development." A correspondent of Dr. Gore's, anxious possibly to be
let down gently in the matter of his ancestor, suggested "immature,
but not deformed." This Dr. Gore accepted as a good phrase. Most
of us would think that when our ancestor was at the stage, say, of
the ape-like man he would be deformed according to existing notions
of the human form divine, while, if only at the protoplasm stage,
the question of form would hardly matter.

It has been explained to me by a clerical biologist that the Bishop
meant that the Fall was not a fall from a completely developed form to
one less developed, but that there was perversion of the development,
so that a rudimentary life which might have been developed one way
has developed along a less favourable path--a common occurrence in
ontogeny. However that may be, and whatever the physical or mental
state of this creature at the time he "fell," was his previous state
one of beautiful innocence and purity? What about those inherited
animal instincts? Dr. Gore goes on to say that "humanity might have,
with infinitely more rapidity, developed upward; it has been delayed,
retarded by sin." Granted; but at what stage of development did this
poor wretch ever get a proper chance? The Christian faith inculcates
that there is no chance for him without belief. What belief did this
immature man have to guide him?

However, let us see what more Dr. Gore may have to tell us on the Fall
and Atonement. The words already quoted are from his second lecture
to the Birmingham working men. In his third and last lecture he says:
"He (God) appointed that man alone of creatures should have a twofold
nature--that he should have fellowship with physical nature, but
also that he should have fellowship with God. He (man) fell through
a suggestion from without, and preferred wilfulness to obedience;
he thus fell into sin, and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth
death. Note that, if sin is said to have caused death, Christ is
said to have abolished death. 'He that believeth on Me shall never
die.' It is death as men have known it, the end of their hopes,
that sin introduced and Christ abolished."

Here, then, is the Bishop's answer regarding the "Fall" question. There
has been a "fall through a suggestion from without," whatever that
may happen to mean. I should have thought that, if there was a fall
at all, it was through a suggestion from within, much as Canon Wilson
puts it. [187] Bishop Gore, however, probably feels that it has to
be from without to agree with the Bible story of the temptation. We
are told nothing further about this mysterious "without," and I ask:
"Could anything be more vague and unsatisfactory than this explanation
of the Fall?"

Assuming that determinists are wrong, and that the Creator is not
responsible for the shortcomings of His creatures, the only fault for
which primeval man could possibly be held to be answerable is that
of not controlling his animal instincts so soon as he commenced to be
conscious and could no longer claim the excuse of innocence. Probably
he did his best, and began to improve himself ever so little. In that
case, as the Church Times sapiently remarks, there was no Fall, but an
advance. Or, adopting a compromise suggested by an American divine,
he fell upward! If he did not strive as much as he might have done,
there was, at all events, no sudden leap over a precipice; for the gift
of increased consciousness, such as the human being now possesses,
must have evolved very gradually. However, the creation of the world
and all that therein is was also exceedingly gradual, and yet the pious
find themselves able to consider the Bible account to be an accurate
though allegorical representation of the process; so there is really
nothing to prevent them from considering the account of a remarkable
incident in a certain garden during a hot summer's day, shortly after
man put in his appearance on this globe, to be a true representation
of the perverse conduct of their ancestors through countless ages.

For this so-called "Fall" we are to be visited with a death which will
be the end of our hopes if we do not believe in Christ. This, then,
is the new threat held over the unbeliever: he will forfeit his right
to immortality. As it is in place of the old-fashioned consignment
to hell, we may hope, for the sake of the human race as a whole, past
and present, that the new Christian dogma is nearer the truth than the
old. Most of us, however, will, I think, come to the conclusion that
there has never been a "Fall" at all in any sense. Dr. Gore in one
breath asks us to think man so much above the ape that his spiritual
powers cannot have been evolved; yet, when science points out that
they were evolved--that man rose so much above his relations--he
still speaks of a fall! It is an outrage to our common sense. And,
if there were a Fall, may we not say with the Persian poet?--

        Oh Thou who didst with Pitfall and with Gin
        Beset the Path I was to travel in,
          Thou wilt not with Predestined Evil round
        Enmesh me, and impute my Fall to Sin.


Archdeacon J. M. Wilson tells us [188] that "We are taking our
part in the long struggle of good against evil. This has been often
pictured to us as the struggle of God against some Personal Power
of Evil which we call Satan, the fact of struggle suggesting two
rival powers. But the evolutionary way of regarding it presents the
struggle as one of the divine element in man struggling to overcome
the purely animal inheritance of lust and passion inherited from a
far by-gone stage." Dr. Wilson, therefore, believes, as every thorough
evolutionist must believe, that we have to look to an animal and not
a human ancestor for the ultimate origin of what we call sin. But
we want to know where the "Fall" comes in, and this he has explained
elsewhere, [189] in what seems to me to be the only possible way open
to an evolutionist. He says: "Man fell, according to science, when
he first became conscious of the conflict of freedom and conscience;
and each individual man falls as his ancestor fell." Dr. Wilson does
not attempt to make out that there was any particular "fall" at any
particular period in man's history, such as Dr. Gore apparently still
clings to; but he plainly tells us: "I do not mean to say that there is
a particular moment at which men fell: it is not so. It is a continuous
struggle of good and evil." He continues: "I see in this nothing to
conflict with a legitimate interpretation of the story of the Fall
in the third chapter of Genesis. Such a narrative is not an illusion,
still less a mere fiction; it is, as all teaching of spiritual truth
must be, a temporary and figurative mode of expression." In other
words, Dr. Wilson considers these early chapters of Genesis, and
probably a great deal more of the Old Testament and some of the New,
to be only an allegory. With regard to the Atonement difficulty,
Dr. Wilson's argument is simply that "We need only to look at the
world as it is to see the struggle of the two-fold nature in man;
to see that it has need of a Redemption, of a Saviour." Few, I
fear, will accept this latest explanation by a learned and earnest
believer. Theologians, in Dr. Wilson's opinion, have made a grievous
mistake when they say: "If the story of the Fall is not literally true,
then it is literally false, and with it goes the need of a Redemption,
of a Saviour." Yet most people--and these will include the whole
body both of the old-fashioned orthodox and of the unbelievers--will
certainly side with those "grievously mistaken" theologians.


To many of us there seems no need whatever to have recourse to the
supernatural in order to account for the origin of sin. It is not
one of the mysteries of life. When we know who our ancestors were,
and hence why we possess certain instincts, it is quite unnecessary
to predicate a "Fall." Details of the Rationalist's view of sin
(and of the reasons for morality) will be found in the last chapter
of this book.


These, then, are the difficulties created by the doctrine of
Evolution. They are difficulties which appear completely to impugn
the very nature of God, the veracity of the Bible, and the dogmas of
sin and its atonement. We have already seen, by our study of Bible
criticism and comparative mythology, how grave are the grounds for
distrusting the Faith, and Evolution seems to be just the finishing
stroke that was required for confirming our suspicions. We must now
see whether there are any other arguments for belief of sufficient
weight to warrant us in over-stepping the boundaries of reason by an
act of faith.


Chapter VI.


§ 1. Preliminary Remarks.

Our next task is to study the arguments for theism. Under these may
be ranged--the cosmological argument, which concludes that there must
be one eternal, unconditioned, self-existent cause; the teleological
[190] argument, which concludes that nature's first cause must be an
intelligence; and the ethical argument--the proof from the moral order
and conscience--which concludes that the supreme intelligence must
be a moral, a beneficent being. To these may be added the argument
from religious experience.


First a word about theism. Theism is belief in the existence of a
God as the creator and ruler of the universe. It assumes a living
relation of God to his creatures, but does not define it. Although
Theos and Deus are equivalent, theism has come to be distinguished
from deism. The latter, according to some theologians, while equally
opposed to atheism, denies or ignores the personality of God,
and therefore denies [191] Christianity. Theism, on the contrary,
underlies Christianity. Accordingly, in considering the truth or
untruth of Christianity, we are concerned only with theism. However,
it should be borne in mind that, although a man cannot be a Christian
without being a Theist, he may be, and very often is in these days,
a Theist without being a Christian. Of the cultured men who think they
can still lay claim to the name of Christian, the bulk are, in point
of fact, non-Christian Theists. Some of these quiet their conscience
by the thought that they are still preserving a "reverent agnosticism"
with regard to Christian dogmas; while certain anti-Haeckelites of the
type of Professor E. Armitage (who urges scientific men to "remember
that we only know appearances, and that whenever we affirm anything
about what lies behind appearances we are making hazardous inferences"
[192]) do not seem to be aware that they are adherents of one of the
fundamental principles of agnosticism.

Theism in its modern Unitarian form is the creed of many of the most
cultured and most religious minds of our time, alike in Europe and
America; and it has also signally shown its power in contemporary
India. Before I left the latter country a few years ago, I had an
interesting discussion with one of the leading spirits of the Brahmo
Samaj movement, and, in answer to my queries, he replied that it
was with the Unitarians that he and his fellow thinkers were most in
sympathy, and that they were never likely to turn Christians. This
Unitarian theism, it may be remarked, is often seen to approximate
to, or become absorbed into, pantheism or agnosticism. But it is not
of Unitarians that I would speak so much as of the man who calls and
often thinks himself a Christian proper, notwithstanding the admission
that the Christian dogmas may be partially or wholly false. This
misconception of "What it is to be a Christian" [193] is one of the
many that tend to confuse and delay a straight reply to the question,
"Is Christianity true?" Having digested these prefatory remarks,
let us now proceed to consider the Theistic arguments.

§ 2. The Existence of a First Cause--An Uncaused Cause. [194]

The hypothesis of modern science is that everything as it now exists
in the universe is the result of an infinite series of causes and
effects; everything that happens is the result of something else that
happened previously, and so on backwards to all eternity. The agnostic
scientist says that we know nothing about this Infinite Cause, and
that the idea of a First Cause is absurd. The Theist affirms that
there is an Eternal Infinite Being who is the First Cause. He says
that it is absurd not to believe in a First Cause, that materialistic
theories are so absurd compared with his that for this reason alone he
would remain a Theist. He appears entirely to lose sight of the fact
that by predicating a First Cause he only removes the mystery a stage
further back. He tells us nothing about the origin of the First Cause
or the state of things that preceded it. The appearance of a First
Cause upon the scene only increases the great mystery. Certainly it
does not solve it. We are no forwarder. The creation of a mystery to
explain a mystery is a very ancient custom, but it is a custom that
has not met with the approbation of science.

The Theist apparently thinks, however, that he has science on his
side. Thus, in the Baird Lectures of 1876, Dr. Flint stated that "the
progress of science has not more convincingly and completely dispersed
the once prevalent notion that the universe was created about 6,000
years ago than it has convincingly and completely established that
everything of which our senses inform us has had a commencement in
time." [195] This opinion is still proclaimed by the Church to be the
opinion of science. But modern science does not point to a beginning
of the scheme of things. The consensus of opinion is entirely the
other way. So far as we know, the ultimate cause recedes for ever and
ever beyond the time when there was no distinction of earth and sea
and atmosphere, all being mingled together in nebulous matter. Where
would the Theist fix the "commencement"? The gaps on which theology
at one time relied are rapidly disappearing. The apparent chasm
between the organic and inorganic, between the lifeless and that
which lives, according to the latest conceptions of science, no
longer exists. Man may even succeed in manufacturing life, so that
yet another teleological argument may collapse.

§ 3. The First Cause an Intelligence.


The argument from design is one which appeals perhaps more than any
other to the average man. As he looks around and reflects, he feels
that there must be design, and, therefore, a Designer. He feels
also that God must be constantly present directing the carrying
out of His design. He is in accord with the Theist who maintains
that purpose and plan are manifest throughout the cosmos, and that,
although it might be conceded that every step of the process has been
achieved by the forces of Evolution, it is impossible to exclude
the presiding activity of a mind which has planned the whole and
predetermined the movements of every portion. We are to believe, then,
that the Designer Himself put the forces in motion for the first time,
that He knew exactly what would be the product of those forces down
to the minutest detail and for all time, and yet, in face of the
undeviating law-regulated cosmos which He has created, He in some
way continues to guide these forces. From the very first step, the
making of the electron and thence the atom, to the last, the making of
man's brain, the Theist sees the finger of God. The mystery of life
is thus taken to be explained or diminished by asserting that it is
produced and controlled by some other mystery. The only alternative
to this belief, so he maintains, is a universe of random chance and
capricious disorder. But "Haeckel and his colleagues hold that the
direction which the evolutionary agencies take is not 'fortuitous';
that they never could take but the one direction which they have
actually taken." [196] While "the Theist says the ultimate object
must have been foreseen and the forces must have been guided, or
they would never have worked steadily in this definite direction,
the Monist says that these forces no more needed guiding than does
a tramcar; there was only one direction possible for them." [197] To
refute this the apologist gravely replies that, "if you cast to the
ground an infinite (or a finite) number of letters, they might after
infinite gyrations make a word here and there; but we should think
the man an enthusiast who expected even a short sentence, and a fool
if he ever expected them to make a poem." We are expected, it seems,
to regard it as a miracle that natural forces should not lose their
uniform character, and act miraculously! Evidently, either the question
is begged or the analogy is absurd. An argument of this kind is worse
than useless, for it only serves to demonstrate the hopelessness of
the teleologist's position. Spinoza's position is more reasonable;
for he conceives that all is the outcome of inexorable necessity--that
neither chance nor purpose governs the eternal and the infinite.


Directivity has hitherto been insisted upon by Theists. It would
not conform with our ideas of God that He should remain a passive
observer so soon as He had invented a machine that would never stop,
and had started it going. Yet interference with the machinery is
inconceivable, the universe being ruled by eternal, immutable, and
irrefragable laws. "The only possible conception of telic [purposeful]
action on a cosmic scale is that, from the start, the matter-force
reality was of such a nature that it would infallibly evolve into the
cosmos we form part of to-day. Any other conception of 'guidance' and
'control' is totally unthinkable. And, as a fact, Theists are settling
down to formulate their position in that way. The interference, as
Ward says, took place before the process began." [198] A Law Maker
can be postulated, but there is not a particle of evidence that He
is also a Law Breaker.

Attempts are still made, however, by clerical scientists to prove
that there is directivity. The Rev. Professor George Henslow, in
his book, Present-Day Rationalism Critically Examined, argues that
the tendency which living organisms show to develop in one direction
rather than another, and their capacity to respond to environment,
betoken a directing Mind. Granting, for the moment, that the doctrine
of Natural Selection is false or inadequate, it seems to me that the
acknowledged facts of the "struggle for existence" and "survival of the
fittest" sufficiently dispose of this new apology. Organisms do not
all adapt themselves to environment, and their fate, in consequence,
is first one of increasing misery, and finally of extinction. Only
those that do adapt themselves survive. It appears that a scientist
when he turns apologist is conveniently able to forget all but the
more fortunate organisms.


If the evidence for a directing Mind has to be given up, the
difficulties of a Theist are certainly increased. There would be
difficulties, for instance, regarding the utility of prayer. Still,
he could think with Father Waggett that "the interaction of forces
inherent in the whole produces the infinite variety of living
beauty which we see." [199] And he can still join with Dr. Flint in
exclaiming: "Every atom, every molecule, must, even in what is ultimate
in it, bear the impress of a Supernatural Power and Wisdom; must
reflect the glory of God, and proclaim its dependence upon Him." [200]
To remain a Theist, however, one must have not only evidence of design,
but of the benevolent intention of the Designer. Before considering
the latter question, I venture to offer a few further remarks about
the former. Is there consistent evidence of design?

Beauty.--As a proof of design we are asked by the Theist to
contemplate the beauty and sublimity which the universe exhibits. Let
us contemplate, then, the beauty of the Bay of Naples. Is it not purely
accidental, purely the outcome of natural agencies, of effects produced
by position, distance, etc.? Again, "the beauty of the diatoms that
are brought from the lowest depths of the ocean, the beauty of the
radiolaria that swarm about the coast, and the beauty of a thousand
minute animal structures, are obviously not designed and purposed
beauties. They were unknown until the microscope was invented; the
polariscope reveals yet further beauties; the telescope yet more. The
idea of these being designed for our, or for God's, entertainment
belongs, as Mr. Mallock says, 'to a pre-scientific age.'" [201]
It is sometimes urged that the tendency of evolution is towards
greater beauty. Is it? That all depends upon what your idea of beauty
may be--whether you will consider the structure best suited to its
environment beautiful or otherwise. We are told that there are signs
that the human race will one day be toothless. At present we admire
pretty teeth; perhaps our descendants will go into raptures over a
toothless gum. That their sense of beauty may not be outraged, let
us hope it may be so. The hideous pigmies of Central Africa probably
think themselves beautiful, and in the distant future, when the
conditions of existence on this globe have radically changed, and when
its inhabitants have adapted themselves to those conditions, the new
"beauties" may possibly be quite as ugly as "missing links." After
all, beauty is a matter of taste. The sufficient objection to the
"beauty" argument is, to my mind, contained in a very few words:
"Look at the ugliness! Who designed that?"

Harmony.--But, it will be urged, if beauty is a poor argument, at least
you must grant that the general harmony in Nature still remains to
be accounted for. Beauty is only one of its countless harmonies. The
objection to this argument is a very simple one. Nature is full of
discords. Ugliness is by no means the only discord. It is because
this is so little realised that M. Elie Metchnikoff has devoted
nearly the whole of his book, The Nature of Man, to the discussion
of the disharmonies in man's nature alone. There are disharmonies
in the organisation of the digestive system, in the organisation
and activities of the reproductive apparatus, in the family and
social instincts, and in the instinct of self-preservation, etc. For
instance, in the human body there are disharmonies of the wisdom teeth,
the bête-noire of dentistry; of the useless vermiform appendage,
the seat of the disease appendicitis; of the large intestine, which
could very well be dispensed with, and is the seat of many grave
diseases, such as dysentery, and so on. The perversions of instinct
among human beings (another disharmony) are likely to be attributed by
the conservative Theist to the Devil, and by the liberal to Dr. Gore's
"Fall from Without," so it will be better to take an example from the
animal world. Darwin informs us that the "female of one of the emus
(Dromoeus irroratus), as soon as she catches sight of her progeny,
becomes violently agitated, and, notwithstanding the resistance of
the father, appears to use her utmost endeavours to destroy them"
(Descent of Man, vol. ii., chap, xvi., pp. 204-205). To those who
still hold by this argument I can only recommend a perusal of Professor
Metchnikoff's book of disharmonies, and would beg them to remember that
it has been written by a man whose profession and attainments entitle
his opinions on such a subject to the highest consideration. The
cruelty attending the process by which harmony is attained has already
been commented upon by me in § 2 of the previous chapter.


I have finally to call attention to the fact that even among the
apologists themselves there is considerable difference of opinion
as to the value of these arguments for Theism. Dr. Flint exclaims:
"Strange as it may seem, there are many Theists at the present day
who represent it [revelation of God in the whole of nature external to
us] as insufficient, or even worthless, and who join the Atheists in
denying that God's existence can be proved, and in affirming that all
the arguments for His existence are inconclusive and sophistical. Such
Theists seem to me not only the best allies of Atheists, but even
more effective labourers in the cause of unbelief than Atheists
themselves." [202] Since Dr. Flint wrote these words the number of
"such Theists" has vastly increased. It is owned on all sides by the
advanced school of apologists that God's existence cannot be proved
by an appeal to the reasoning faculties; and, among other arguments,
that from design is gradually being discarded.

Father Waggett offers us interesting information regarding this
argument in his little book, Religion and Science. [203] He considers
that Paley and others of the old teleologists were wrong in leaning
upon a narrow argument from design. "It need not here be repeated,"
he says, "that the evidence of such workmanship cannot prove God
in the true sense of an infinite and all-wise Cause; but only a
cause possessed of immense wisdom and immense though limited power,
a Demiurgus of the greatest force and the most minute care, but not
a Creator in the sense of theology." [204] Father Waggett, who is
a biologist, and, therefore, necessarily an Evolutionist, would not
be disconcerted if living things were manufactured in the laboratory
to-morrow. In his opinion, "If anywhere we catch nature in the making,
if we surprise the sequence by which even man himself gained his
difference from other things, we shall not by this find reverence
lowered.... It is a theological readjustment which is required,
and not one in 'natural science.'" [205] The position here taken up
is wise, and one that all who remain Theists will eventually have
to adopt. But for most of us these theological readjustments are
no easy matter. We reason that Paley's Evidences have in their time
assisted men to be Theists, and now his arguments are condemned by
the better informed. How do we know that the same fate may not await
the new arguments of the Christian evolutionist? How is it that God
allowed earnest and learned divines to commit themselves to arguments
in proof of His existence, the subsequent overthrow of which has been
a potent cause for unbelief?

§ 4. The First Cause a Beneficent Intelligence.


As ages roll on, God's attributes--or rather, we should say, the
attributes given Him by man--are continually altering. All that the
early gods demanded was fear and worship. Even the Jehovah of the Jews
asked at first little else than this. Anthropomorphic conceptions of
God are now admitted by the cultured to be a thing of the past. Do
they not, however, still survive when human emotions, such as love
and anger, happiness and sorrow, are attributed to the Deity? We
acknowledge God to be infinite, and, consequently, incomprehensible by
finite minds; yet we imagine and attempt to argue that He possesses
the same qualities--those we most admire--as ourselves! "How can
we believe in a personal God?" asks the Rationalist. "A person
must have limitations, or he ceases to be a person." However, we
must not forget that in philosophy and theology the word "person"
simply implies "a nature endowed with consciousness," and does not
involve limits. Demurring to this definition, there still remains
another difficulty. In all our experience and knowledge, emotions
and intelligence are connected with nerve structures; how, then,
can we attribute these qualities to a Being who is described to us
as devoid of any nerve structure? I know of no answer that could be
called satisfactory from a Theistic standpoint.

In the previous section we considered the doctrine of final
causes. This doctrine, as Spinoza points out, [206] "does away with
the perfection of God; for, if God acts for an object, He necessarily
desires something which He lacks." The Theist goes a step further than
the mere teleologist, and insists on a benevolent purpose throughout
nature. Is he, then, oblivious to Spinoza's objection? No, he is not;
and therefore it is that he struggles to save his personal God by an
infinite extension of the limits of His personality. In fine, Theism,
in the hands of its modern advocates, and in spite of the seeming
orthodoxy of the phrase, "Divine Immanence," is often nothing less
than another form of Pantheism.


The Church's great philosopher to-day, the Rev. J. R. Illingworth,
D.D., argues [207] that "Divine Immanence in Nature" excludes
Pantheism--the belief that God is merely immanent in nature--as well
as Deism and Monism, while it harmonises with Trinitarianism. We are to
"conceive of God as at once transcending and immanent in nature." [208]
He admits that "this relationship may be incomprehensible," [209] but
states that "we know it in our own case to be a fact." [210] Afterwards
he puts the question, "Is the universe His body or His work?" [211] and
proceeds to explain that the Trinitarian conception of God furnishes,
or helps to furnish, an answer to this question. "It is," he maintains,
"intellectually the most satisfactory." [212] It apparently is so to
certain subtle and biassed intellects; but the question is, Is it so,
will it ever be so, to the average mortal?


In another place, [213] when speaking again of the doctrine of the
Trinity, he says: "Men forget that it supports and is supported by
the whole weight of a fact in history, with which nothing else in
the wide world can even for a moment be compared. That fact is the
age-long empire of Jesus Christ over the hearts of men." This, then,
is the final argument in support of the Christian dogmas, including
this the most incomprehensible of them all. Why should not the Buddhist
claim the same authority for the dogmas of his faith? The evidential
value is precisely the same. Turn to any well-known work bearing on
this phase of the question. Read, we will say, Edwin Arnold's poem,
The Light of Asia; or, better still, read Mr. Fielding's books,
The Soul of a People and The Hearts of Men, and hear the words of
one who has lived for years among Buddhists and studied their hearts.

That an ideal should reign over the hearts of men is no new thing;
much less is this a cause for marvel when "One has come, claiming to
be God made manifest--manifest in order to attract our love." [214]
Christian apologists urge that He has not only attracted the hearts
of men in the past, but still retains His hold upon their affections,
and that therein lies an essential difference between Christianity
and all other religions. Christianity, say they, in this respect
at least, stands pre-eminently alone. Is not Buddhism, then,
one of the great living religions of the present day? Has it not
existed during twenty-four centuries? Does it not at the present
time surpass, in the number of its followers and the area of its
prevalence, any other form of creed? Is not Gautama Buddha worthy
of men's love, if we are to credit the best authenticated records
of his life? "Discordant in frequent particulars," writes [215]
Sir Edwin Arnold, "and sorely overlaid by corruptions, inventions,
and misconceptions, the Buddhistical books yet agree in the one
point of recording nothing--no single act or word--which mars the
perfect purity and tenderness of this Indian teacher, who united
the truest princely qualities with the intellect of a sage and the
passionate devotion of a martyr." Loving disciples, living in an age
of ignorance and superstition, piously ascribed to him divine powers,
and, disobeying his mandate, gave him fervent worship. That worship,
that adoration, still persists. So likewise the adoration of Jesus
Christ still persists. This is certainly a fact in history; but can we
safely build upon it the metaphysical theories of the Christian Faith?


In my comments upon Dr. Illingworth's views regarding "Divine
Immanence" I fear I have digressed somewhat from the subject at
present under consideration--the Theistic argument from a Beneficent
Intelligence. "The ethical argument held a very subordinate place in
the estimation of writers on natural theology until Kant rested on it
almost the whole weight of Theism. It has ever since been prominent,
and has been the argument most relied upon to produce practical
conviction." [216] What was once the weakest argument has now become
the strongest. Why? Not, I take it, because anything has occurred to
make the weaker any stronger, but because what was thought to be the
strongest is now found to be weaker than the weakest! How can the
ethical argument be maintained in face of objections which continue
to become ever graver as our knowledge increases? Theists contend
[217] that there must be a future life if only because the glaring
wrongs of this world have to be righted. What is this but a naïve
admission that the proofs of the Deity's benevolence are sadly wanting?


The problem of pain, and of evil generally, has been partially
discussed in the chapter on "Evolution." The importance of this
problem is very great, for, by the universal consent of Christendom
(not of mankind, as we shall see later on), the very name of God
carries with it the sense of goodness, the highest and best that
we know of or can imagine. For this reason it is customary for the
pious to regard every calamity reverently as a punishment from God,
or as serving some good purpose. Thus the German Emperor, imbued from
childhood with this pious theory, warned his people that the Japanese
had been sent as a scourge from God, and Father Bernard Vaughan
(preaching at Lancaster on August 26th, 1906) declared that God had
uttered warnings to England by the eruption of Vesuvius and the San
Franciscan and Chilian earthquakes. Can this supposition be maintained
when the catastrophe occurs in the wrong place, when tornadoes and
earthquakes destroy God's own temples, and when the innocent suffer
for the guilty? With the opinion of the scientist we are, or ought to
be by now, familiar. "The fundamental axiom of scientific thought is
that there is not, never has been, and never will be, any disorder
in Nature. The admission of the occurrence of any event which was
not the logical consequence of the immediately antecedent events,
according to those definite, ascertained, or unascertained rules which
we call the 'laws of Nature,' would be an act of self-destruction on
the part of science" (Huxley on Catastrophes, p. 247 of his Essays
on Controverted Questions).

I remember, at the time of the terrible catastrophe in Martinique,
due to the eruption of Mont Pelée, asking a lady: "Do you think
this wholesale slaughter and awful suffering has any connection with
the wickedness of the afflicted people?" "Certainly," she replied;
"they must have been very wicked people." It just so happened that
the only man who escaped scatheless was a murderer who had been
imprisoned in a cell below ground. So the theory she and I had been
brought up to believe in would not work, whichever way you looked at
it. The apologist has usually a number of strings to his bow; and,
as the Old Testament teaching concerning bad men descending "quick
into the pit" would not suit, he might argue that the criminal was
given an opportunity for repentance. In that case, we must suppose
that all the others who perished had no need of repentance. Again,
with regard to the terrible tortures that many endured, it could be
argued that those "whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth"; but what
possible object could there be in this chastening during the last
moments of their life upon earth? The agony of the death-struggle,
suffered by the good and the bad alike, has yet to be shown to be in
accord with the theory of a benevolent Deity.

The old-fashioned idea that catastrophes, plagues, famines, etc.,
were sent as punishments for our misdoings is gradually being
modified. Dr. Flint says distinctly: "I cannot agree with those
who think there is no mystery in mere pain--that it is sufficiently
accounted for by moral evil." [218] It seems a pity that his advocacy
for benevolence in the Deity should lead him afterwards to qualify
this sensible statement by an amazing assertion which begs the
whole question. "The character of pain itself," he says, "is such
as to indicate that its author must be a benevolent being--one
who does not afflict for his own pleasure, but for his creatures'
profit." [219] The profit consists, we are told, in the fact that
we are prevented through fear of pain from running into danger. How
peculiarly appropriate and consolatory such a view of pain must be
to, let us say, a person crippled with rheumatoid arthritis! Man's
highly sensitive and delicate organisation inevitably entails pain
when no useful purpose of this kind can possibly be served; yet we
are to suppose that an Omnipotent Being devised this crude and cruel
method for teaching us to avoid the perils with which He Himself has
surrounded us! One of our greatest living surgeons, Sir Frederick
Treves, assures us [220] that "the symptoms of disease are marked by
purpose, and the purpose is beneficent." "The processes of disease,"
he goes on to explain, "aim not at the destruction of life, but at
the saving of it." Here, indeed, is more grist for the mill of the
apologist. But what does this special pleading amount to? To this:
Because through suffering we may survive a dangerous disease, we should
be grateful to the Supreme Intelligence who created the preservative as
well as the destructive microbes; we should be grateful to the Almighty
who has fashioned friend and foe, and who, much to our discomfort,
has selected our interior economy for the battlefield! Surely, if
the surmise of benevolence is to be entertained at all, it must be at
the sacrifice of the surmise of omnipotence. The Supreme Intelligence
cannot be an "Almighty God" if He be the "Father of all mercies."

There are Theists who candidly admit the perplexities of the
situation. On the horns of a dilemma they have no option but to fall
back upon the primitive theory: All unaccountable evil is the work
of a hostile and evil power which seeks continually to frustrate
the benevolent intentions of the Creator. "Speaking for myself,"
says the author of Pro Fide, [221] "I am unable to believe that
hideous and excruciating diseases, such as cancer, which affect
both men and animals, and which cannot, in the case of animals at
least, be explained as a moral discipline, are the work of a good and
benevolent God. I endorse absolutely the words of Dr. E. A. Abbott. 'I
cannot think,' he says, 'of diseases and pain, and the conflict
in the animal world for life and death, as being, so to speak,
part of God's first intention.'" Disease, suffering, the struggle
for existence, and the law of prey are then, after all, the Devil's
handiwork, and so is also, presumably, the law of the survival of
the fittest. (Christian evolutionists, take note! In exonerating and
extolling the evolutionary processes, you are exonerating and extolling
the works of the Devil!) "The Zoroastrian view," he continues,
"must be rejected because it postulates two first principles, which
is a plain metaphysical impossibility." The view which is not open
to this or any other objection, and which he calls the Theistic view,
"supposes that a large share of the government of the material universe
was committed, at the creation, to a personal spirit, of great, but not
unlimited, power and intelligence, who, having been originally created
good, subsequently fell, and introduced evil and disorder into the
world.... This hypothesis of a personal devil has many advantages. It
explains the whole of the facts; it avoids the postulation of two
first causes; it vindicates the moral perfection of the Deity; and
it allows the optimistic hope to be entertained that in the end good
will triumph over evil." All this is highly instructive. For it means
that, in the opinion of an erudite apologist of the Church of England,
flourishing a.d. 1906, the moral perfection of the Deity can only
be vindicated on the hypothesis of a personal devil! Doubtless this
hypothesis--and, remember, it is nothing more than a hypothesis,
and one that is now generally discredited--fits in admirably; but
the question is, Are we to accept it, however imaginary and opposed
to the facts of science, just because it is so suitable?

There remains the usual retort of the religionist when closely
cornered: "The finite mind cannot expect to understand the
Infinite." He appears to forget entirely that when he advances proofs
of the God of his heart he himself is using his finite mind, and
that his opponents therefore have an equal right to use theirs when
criticising his "proofs." This by the way. The particular point we have
to notice is that the appeal to this negative argument amounts to an
admission that the proofs do indeed appear all the other way. Thus
in the question now before us, "Is the First Cause a beneficent
intelligence?" we find that a statement confidently proclaimed by
the pious is not only unsupported by evidence, but in spite of it--a
mere assertion suggested by the emotions. With more modesty and (may
I add?) with more common sense, the agnostic disclaims any knowledge
of God, holding that human knowledge is limited to experience, and
that, since the absolute and unconditioned, if it exists at all,
cannot fall within experience, we have no right to assert anything
whatever with regard to it.


The very existence of the God of our hearts depends upon the proof
of His morality. The argument from moral order seems at first sight
a strong one. Morality, even adopting the naturalist's explanation
that it is only a social instinct, can be regarded as the result of
a divine spark. Its beneficial influence on the happiness of the
individual and the well-being of the race cannot be too strongly
insisted upon as a well-ascertained fact. "Virtue is self-rewarding,
and vice is self-punishing." [222] But the Rationalist asks: "Why
design man's nature so that he is more likely to go wrong, when he
gets the chance, than to go right; and this in despite of the moral
or social instinct?" The usual answer of the religionist is that,
if we could not do wrong, we should be mere machines. "No doubt,"
says the author of Pro Fide, "if God had made us what Mr. Huxley says
we are, conscious automata, we should have been incapable of sin;
but it is better to be men, with all the glorious possibilities of
freedom and virtue, than to be machines, however excellent." Now,
do we allow our children to choose for themselves when we know they
will choose wrongly? Do we not guard them against the inglorious
possibilities--the slavery of vice? If we fail in our duty to them
and they fall, should we add to our guilt by perpetrating on them
unimaginable cruelties? Again, do we not prefer the fellowship of the
good-natured? Yet these, according to the religionist, are the veriest
automata compared with those who have inherited vicious or disagreeable
characteristics, and do their best to fight against them. Be this as
it may, the fact remains that the less fortunately endowed are seldom
able to raise themselves up to the level of the more fortunately
endowed--environment may, of course, elevate the one, as it may also
degrade the other--and there is no doubt whose society we prefer. Why
should it be better for men to be capable of--or, rather, may we
not say prone to--sin? Why should their Maker grant them "glorious
possibilities" which He has denied to Himself? Why should He alone be
a machine that cannot go wrong? Surely there is something amiss in an
argument that furnishes such inadequate excuses in order to explain
why the Designer gave us natures infinitely inferior to His own.

        Oh, Thou who man from basest clay didst make,
        And e'en for Paradise devised the snake,
        For all the sin wherewith the face of man
        Is blackened, man's forgiveness give--and take!

Some of Nature's plans would appear to be specially designed to bring
out the worst side of the diverse nature implanted in man. The plan of
the struggle for existence is a palpable instance. Take another--take
the plan for the reproduction of life. Could any Omnipotent Being
be proud of it? Let alone the unfair division of pain, which the
discredited Eden story can now no longer account for, is it helpful to
man in his struggle to improve his nature? The plan being God's plan,
it is enjoined upon us that the procreation of children is a sacred
duty; but it is also plainly intimated that to abstain from marriage
altogether is yet more meritorious. Similarly in Mithraism, Buddhism,
the religions of ancient America and other pre-Christian cults, the
sanctity of the celibate life is upheld. If man is not doing his best
in obeying the behests of his Maker, how can he do right? Has he been
given a fair chance when an instinct so hurtful is implanted in him
that even its natural gratification in the divinely appointed manner
is likely to hinder him in the cultivation of his spiritual nature;
this although matrimony was ordained--so our prayer-book tells us--for
a remedy against sin? The truth is that this necessary instinct,
quite apart from its responsibility for much sorrow and strife and
quite apart from its terrible tendency to perversion, is innately
prejudicial to our moral elevation, and, in order to preserve a
healthy, happy mind, the less we allow our thoughts to dwell upon
its fulfilment the better.

Again, "a very little disorder in the organisation of the brain
suffices to cause hallucinations of the senses, to shake the intellect
from its throne, to paralyse the will, and to corrupt the sentiments
and affections." [223] "How precise and skilful," remarks Dr. Flint,
lost in admiration of the Designer, "must be the adjustment between
the sound brain and the sane mind!" "How fiend-like," says the
horrified Rationalist, "would be the Intellect which could have
exercised its ingenuity to devise a mechanism inherently liable to
get out of order, and thereby to transform its unhappy possessor into
a fool or villain." In the event of the latter result, moreover, man,
according to Christ's teaching (if honestly interpreted), is to suffer
eternal torment!


Regarding theories of the origin of conscience such as those
of J. S. Mill, Bain, Darwin, and Spencer, Dr. Flint remarks:
"It does not matter whether conscience be primary or derivative;
it exists." [224] That it does matter is shown by the fact that the
bulk of the apologists still stoutly maintain that conscience is a
special attribute of man--a divine instinct--and is not derived from
the lower animals. We have, I think, gone into this sufficiently
in the previous chapter, and I shall confine my remarks to another
aspect of the question--the fallibility of the moral consciousness.

"The existence," it is urged, "of a moral principle within us, of
a conscience which witnesses against sin and on behalf of holiness,
is of itself evidence that God must be a moral being, one who hates
sin and loves holiness." [225] Given the existence of a personal God,
this argument is plausible enough till we examine it more closely. The
liability of conscience to err is, or should be, a platitude. Its
two components--the reason and the emotions--both being fallible,
it necessarily follows that conscience must have the same quality. We
have only to think for a moment to discover innumerable examples in
proof of this. An illustration which occurs to me, and which will
hurt no one's susceptibilities, is that of the Wa Daruma. This is
an East African tribe practising a strict morality which is all the
more remarkable on account of the gross immorality of the neighbouring
tribes. Nevertheless, the conscience of the Wa Daruma bids them kill
their twin offspring. If conscience, then, be fallible, how is it
a Theistic proof? Because, though it may make a mistake through an
untutored reason, or through a reason clouded by deceptive emotions,
the consciousness that there is a right or wrong at all is sufficient
proof of a moral intelligence? So be it; but it is passing strange
that God should allow conscience to deceive us. John Locke well
said, many years ago: "Children are travellers newly arrived in a
strange country: we should therefore make conscience not to deceive
them." Are we not children of God in a strange country? We would not
deceive our children. The acquittal of conscience gives pleasure,
as the condemnation gives pain--remorse--and every man must obey his
conscience if he would be happy. What a thousand pities it seems that
it should ever lead him into error! Should it not be a divine intuition
of the right both in our religious beliefs and in our conduct?

It is an intuition of the right, the believer will say, when it
tells you to believe in Christ and God. I would gladly think so;
but every believer of every creed on the face of the earth says
the same about his belief, and hence the amazing persistence of
erroneous beliefs. When the voice of conscience is composed of a
blind reliance on intuition (i.e., on the emotions) and a distrust
of reason, how can the result be otherwise? The whole question of the
truth of beliefs hinges upon whether intuition can or cannot be relied
upon. We know that mistakes do occur through trusting to intuition,
especially in the matter of beliefs; how, then, can we assume that
it is infallible? Strange as the freaks of faith among cultured
persons may appear, they are perfectly intelligible. They are the
result of reliance on intuition rather than on reason. I will give
an example. Who more logical, apparently, than John Henry Newman,
the coadjutor of Whately in his popular work on logic? His illogical
conduct is, therefore, particularly instructive. In 1832, after a
visit to Rome, he wrote describing the Roman Catholic religion as
polytheistic, degrading, and idolatrous, [226] and then, after all,
entered the Roman Catholic Church in 1845. He did so because he found
that the difficulties of the creed and of the canon of Scripture were
insurmountable unless over-ridden by the authority of the Church. To
escape becoming an agnostic he elected to join a Church calling herself
infallible. He was able to come to this decision although, to his own
knowledge, her infallibility was belied by her conduct! Further, so
eloquent was his reasoning on the subject, so apparently logical, that
some hundreds of clergymen joined him in making their submission to
the Church of Rome. Underlying all this apparent inconsistency is the
assertion, so eloquently pleaded by Cardinal Newman, of the supremacy
of conscience and the correctness of intuition. So also have asserted
the followers of every religion from all time, and to what have their
consciences and intuitions led them--to truth, or to a pot-pourri of
absurd and conflicting beliefs? We have the testimony of all history
to prove the extreme fallibility of conscience. Conscience possesses no
divine spark to keep a man from acting wrongly through ignorance. Even
when knowledge is present we see, as in Cardinal Newman's case, that
the voice of conscience may still speak incorrectly; for reason is
swamped when emotion's flood-gate is left ajar.

Cardinal Newman's opinions have a special interest for us at the
present time. He held that, "apart from an interior and unreasoned
conviction, there is no cogent proof of the existence of God"; that
"the man who has not this interior conviction has no choice but to
remain an agnostic, while the man who has it is bound sooner or later
to become a Roman Catholic." [227]

So inexplicable did his motives appear that Charles Kingsley accused
him of saying that "truth for its own sake need not be, and, on
the whole, ought not to be, a virtue of the Roman clergy." Newman's
Apologia pro Vita Sua, however, leaves no doubt of the author's own
personal rectitude. His premises--the infallibility of conscience
and intuition--were false. But that is not an unusual feature of
Christian apologetics. The keen intellects of the two pious brothers,
John Henry and Francis William, were really buried beneath a mass of
preconceptions. That of the latter, however, being less submissive,
proceeded to a slow and sure upheaval, and finally Francis Newman
rejected Christianity altogether. [228] In the Apologia pro Vita
Sua we find, I think, the key to Cardinal Newman's convictions. He
was intensely superstitious, and inclined also to be timid. On the
opening page, where he gives the recollections of his boyhood, we read:
"I used to wish the Arabian tales were true." And again: "I was very
superstitious, and for some time previous to my conversion (when I
was fifteen) used constantly to cross myself on going into the dark."


In my remarks on the "evil for which man is held responsible,"
I have alluded to the Rationalist's contention that man cannot be
justly blamed for his actions, and that, if there be a God, He alone
is to blame. This opens up the question of Freewill v. Determinism--a
thorny question, which I should prefer, if only for considerations of
space and my readers' patience, to leave severely alone. A whole volume
would be necessary to present the case for Determinism adequately, and
I am fully aware that a few brief words will fail to convince; but,
if I can remove a single iota of the misconceptions on this subject,
I shall feel rewarded.

Kant defines an act of volition as an act which is determined by the
anticipatory idea of the result of the act. Although he maintains
that there must be a moral God, he fully admits that the forecast or
anticipatory idea is the inevitable effect of precedent conditions,
such as temperament (heredity), education (environment), and the
like; and in a well-known passage he says that, if the whole history
of the subject could be known, the voluntary acts of a man might be
predicted with the same certainty as an eclipse. The tendency of modern
psychology is in the same direction. All voluntary acts, we are told,
depend on the memory of involuntary acts of the same sort previously
performed. It is true that a few Christian psychologists leave room
for a "sheer heave" of the will by means of which an idea naturally
feeble is fortified and held in place; but when they speak in this wise
they speak as metaphysicians. No metaphysical argument, it seems to me,
can reconcile this inflexible causality with true freedom of will. How
can the will be at one and the same time fettered and free? There is,
I grant, every appearance of freewill; but it belongs to the category
of appearances which deceive.

If we accept the Christian contention, we have to believe that a
benevolent God gives us a free will, the power to choose between
Him and the Devil, knowing, as in His omniscience He must, that the
vast majority will make a sad use of their gift! The modern Christian
admits that heredity and environment have their say also. Thus there
are, in all, four forces struggling for the mastery--God, the Devil,
heredity and environment; and it is the duty of the divinely-implanted
free will to choose between them. Rather, is it not that there are
two forces, and two forces only--heredity and environment--acting upon
our brain, and our choice is the resultant of them? Undoubtedly man,
as a self-conscious and reflecting animal, has what may be called
the power of choice; but the way this power will be used would be
a foregone conclusion did we know the sum-total of the effect of
heredity and environment up to the moment of its use. "But," it
may be objected, "surely there is such a thing as will-power. We
can overcome our heredity and environment by the exercise of our
will. Temptations to which the weak-willed succumb do not affect the
strong-willed. Here, at least, we have a distinct instance in which
heredity and environment are overcome." Yes, it is true, of course,
that heredity and environment are continually being overcome by
the happy possessor of sufficient will-power; but what we have to
bear in mind is that it is not a portion, but the whole, of a man's
heredity and environment which must be taken into consideration. In
the case of the man with the strong will, it is still his heredity
and environment which have in the first instance settled the line of
conduct to which, once resolved upon, he adheres so tenaciously. And,
again, this particular quality of the mind which enables him to keep
to his resolution is, like all other qualities of the mind, itself
the product of heredity and environment.

The Determinism of science and the Freewill of metaphysics are
essentially antagonistic. Determinism is completely subversive
of Christian teaching. It is directly opposed to the Thirty-nine
Articles of religion. Not only does it imply that man is not to blame
for his actions, but that, if there be a God, He, and He alone, is to
blame. Christian theologists are therefore its strenuous opponents. In
their apologetic efforts one finds the strangest misconceptions
of what is meant in a broad sense by heredity and environment. The
best apology I have seen so far is by the Rev. P. N. Waggett, in a
tractate called Science and Conduct. [229] Father Waggett seems to
realise better than most of his fellow-clerics the enormous influence
of heredity and environment. Still he comes to the conclusion that
"when, under given circumstances," a man "does what, under those
circumstances, and with his given constitution, he usually does
not do," he is exercising "some inward spring." The fallacy in this
argument is the common one. The effect of environment up to the moment
of action has not been considered. The obscurity of the expression
"given constitution" is doubtless unintentional, but it is none
the less misleading. Father Waggett would be the first to admit that
something must have occurred meanwhile to account for the new frame of
mind. It is for him to show that an alteration in environment is not
all that has occurred, and that there is room for this "inward spring."

Will not the acceptance of this doctrine have a paralysing effect
upon us? On the contrary. We shall be better able to discern where
our salvation lies. We shall pay far more attention to the real
forces which determine conduct. We shall devote our energies to
combating bad heredity with good environment; and we shall do this
with the knowledge that not only ourselves and our associates, but our
descendants also, will reap the benefit. We shall fly from unhealthy
thoughts, and avoid the surroundings likely to give rise to them. We
shall welcome healthy thoughts and seek helpful surroundings.

The doctrine of determinism is thought likely to corrupt our moral
character, but, in reality, it compares favourably with religious
doctrines. The belief in God's omniscience leads the Mohammedan to
fatalism, and the Christian to the doctrine of predestination. If
a Christian really believed as he professes, if he could honestly
subscribe to the seventeenth article of his Creed--in which it is
stated that "before the foundations of the world were laid God hath
constantly decreed by His counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse
and damnation those whom He hath chosen [the italics are mine, of
course] in Christ out of mankind"--God's Predestination would indeed
be "a dangerous downfall," "thrusting men into desperation." The
doctrine of predestination, therefore, appears, without doubt, to
be ethically mischievous. The doctrine of Determinism, on the other
hand, teaches a man to fight pernicious hereditary instincts with the
weapon of environment, and to keep a tender place in his heart for
unfortunates who succumb. [230] Tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner.

§ 5. Religious Experience.


Of late, the argument from "Religious Experience" has been much to
the front, and nothing written on the subject has created a deeper
impression, or been more cordially welcomed by the supernaturalist,
than Professor W. James's book, The Varieties of Religious
Experience. Professor James is a prominent member of the Society
for Psychical Research, and no one is better able than he to give
descriptions of psychic phenomena; but the conclusions he comes to as
to the spiritual signification of some of them will strike the normal
man as too absurd to be taken seriously. More than this. Indirectly he
furnishes one of the very best weapons for attacking supernaturalism
that has ever yet been put in the hands of the naturalist. I have
already given some examples of so-called religious experiences (in
Chap. II., pp. 59-61). These are still regarded by the superstitious
as spiritual manifestations; but Professor James discovers a spiritual
interpretation in still more palpable hallucinations. Unwittingly
he spoils the case for religious experience by trying to prove too
much. I will give an instance. He describes how an intimate friend
of his kept experiencing a "horrible sensation" of the presence of
something, which he "did not recognise as any individual being or
person." Professor James admits that "such an experience as this does
not connect itself with the religious sphere." [Why not? It might
have been the Devil that time.] Later on his friend had a pleasanter
experience. "There was not a mere consciousness of something there,
but, fused in the central happiness of it, a startling awareness of
some ineffable good. Not vague either--not like the emotional effect
of some poem or scent or blossom or music, but the sure knowledge of
the close presence of a sort of mighty person; and, after it went,
the memory persisted as the one perception of reality. Everything
else might be a dream, but not that." Professor James then remarks:
"My friend, as it oddly happens, does not interpret these later
experiences theistically, as signifying the presence of God." Why
oddly? The explanation seems simple enough. It was just because his
friend was not odd, but a normal individual of modern times. Perhaps,
after all, the secret lay in the well-known reply to the question,
"Is life worth living?"--It all depends on the liver. One may also
recall the words of the celebrated clerical wit who said: "They think
they are pious when they are only bilious."

Professor James then relates various experiences of other persons
who, unlike his friend, were positive they had felt "the presence
of God." And he tells us: "Nothing is more common in the pages of
religious biography than the way in which seasons of lively and
of difficult faith are described as alternating. Probably every
religious person has the recollection of particular crises in which
a direct vision of the truth, a direct perception, perhaps, of a
living God's existence, swept in and overwhelmed the languor of the
more ordinary belief." If this sort of thing accounts for the faith of
every religious person, the mystery (in these days) of the great faith
of the few and the little faith of the many is completely solved. So
few, relatively speaking, have this experience; so few are by nature
mystics. Also it helps to explain the prevalence of supernatural
belief in bygone ages. Thoughtful unbelievers have long ago come to
the conclusion that some such psychical experiences largely account
for religious superstitions, and now an eminent psychologist and
religious apologist confirms their theories.

Professor James argues that "the neurotic temperament naturally
introduces one to regions of religious truth which are hidden from
the robust Philistine type of nervous system, that thanks heaven it
hasn't a single morbid fibre in its composition." This kind of "robust
Philistine" is, one is glad to think, a very common type. I hope I am
a fairly robust Philistine myself. The Rationalist may, or may not, be
emotional, but he certainly prefers to be without morbid fibres. Why,
of all the most undesirable states of mind, should morbidity assist
the human being to have faith in God? Why should spirituality and
strong faith be possible only for a person of nervous instability
whose intellectual canon (unacknowledged no doubt) is "Credo quia
impossibile"? Why, in the name of all that is reasonable, should
spiritual experiences be the prerogative of exceptional temperaments
only? Why, in all fairness, if there be any spiritual meaning in
hallucinations, should not the Agnostic be at least vouchsafed the
consciousness of the Devil's presence to cure him of his unbelief?

Professor James thinks "there can be no doubt that as a matter of
fact a religious life, exclusively pursued, does tend to make the
person exceptional and eccentric." He refers to "geniuses in the
religious line," who, "like many other geniuses ... have often shown
symptoms of nervous instability." "Even more perhaps," he says, "than
other kinds of genius, religious leaders have been subject to abnormal
psychical visitations ... often, moreover, these pathological features
in their career have helped to give them their religious authority and
influence." All this is exceedingly instructive, coming as it does from
the mouth of an earnest champion of religion [231] specially suited,
by his researches in psychical phenomena, to speak with authority on
the psychology of religion. His belief in the interference in human
life of spiritual agencies, and the whole tenour of his book, render
it certain that he is not consciously bringing any arguments to bear
against supernaturalism, but, on the contrary, intends to adduce new
arguments in its favour.

Have we not here a satisfactory and perfectly natural explanation
of the phenomena of conversion? The religionist is apt, I think,
to lose sight of the fact that conversion is not confined to any one
particular creed; that it cannot witness to the truth of the one and
not of the other. "The mystical feeling," remarks Professor James
(pp. 425-6), "of enlargement, union, and emancipation ... is capable
of forming matrimonial alliances with material furnished by the most
diverse philosophies and theologies, provided only they can find
a place in their framework for its peculiar emotional mood." The
most striking examples of conversion are those of the instantaneous
kind, of which St. Paul's is held out to us as the most eminent. I
have already outlined the probable explanation in St. Paul's case,
and other cases may be similarly explained. The supernaturalist's
interpretation of conversion cannot be considered seriously until
proofs are forthcoming of an instance in which nothing was known
previously of the truth alleged to have been revealed. Like Mr. Lowes
Dickinson, I have never, for example, discovered a case in which a
Mohammedan or a Hindoo, without having heard of Christianity, has
had a revelation of Christian "truth."

Of all visions, those of the death-bed especially invite our
attention, for they are looked upon by many pious persons as sure
evidence in favour of the truth of their Faith. Will this argument
bear analysis? We know that good men and women have had heavenly
visions during their last moments. We know also that others of equally
blameless lives have been terrified at the last by the sight of some
supreme horror. How can any argument be based upon the phantasms of a
disordered brain? Do not these visions, too, usually take their form
from the teaching with which the mind has been imbued? The Mohammedan
sees a heaven peopled with houris; do we on that account accept the
Koran as our guide? A dying Hindoo may have a vision of a heathen
deity of questionable character, and derive comfort from it. I have
myself stood by the bedside of a dying Mahratta whose ravings during
the delirium of fever indicated such a vision. There are, it is true,
cases where the visions of the dying may seem utterly unlike those we
should expect. But the brain retains impressions of things of which the
conscious memory has long ago passed away, and, if the early history of
the ecstatic could be fully known, we should, as Proctor points out,
[232] find nearly every circumstance of his vision explained, or at
least an explanation suggested. It may be said again of death-bed
visions, as of visions generally, that there has never yet been a
case of a Mohammedan or a Hindoo or any other non-Christian who has
had a revelation of Christian "truth."

Professor James is not the only person having the curious notion that
an abnormal state of mind admits the nearer presence of God. To take a
people possessing a marvellous self-control over their emotions, and,
therefore, the last among whom you would expect to find such ideas,
I may mention that the more ignorant and superstitious among the
Japanese throw themselves into hypnotic trances, and then fondly
imagine that a god is present in their body, and is making use
of them as a mouthpiece. [233] Again, no superstition is commoner
among the ignorant natives of India, Mohammedan and Hindoo alike,
than that people of unsound mind have some sort of special means of
communication with God; but that educated persons, having fairly normal
minds themselves, should hold such an opinion is yet another example
of the hallucinations to which religious enthusiasts are liable.

The folly of attributing any spiritual significance to these
experiences will be better understood if we compare them with cases
where there is no religious element whatsoever. A lady, a friend of
mine, is continually subject to a curious experience, which may serve
to illustrate this point. I give the account of it in her own words:--

    As a child I was always a bad sleeper, and got into the habit of
    making up stories to amuse myself when lying awake in bed. This
    habit continued as I grew older; but, after a time, the stories
    ceased to be connected in any way with myself. Years ago I began
    a story which has grown gradually through three generations,
    and there are signs of the coming of a fourth. The old house
    has remained as the centre of the story for years; most of the
    characters are men, and no one of either sex bears any possible
    relationship to me. They have all become far more real to me
    than my own relations; at bed-time, on long railway journeys
    (sometimes), or when I am walking or doing needlework, they are
    there. If I get to the house at bed-time, I sleep well. If I
    am there when travelling, I don't get tired, and the characters
    grow and develop quite naturally. It is my inner life, and, if I
    were given that way, it might become a series of visions. I can
    quite understand men having ecstasies in which the ideals they
    have always before them become apparently materialised.


I cannot too strongly insist that all this is extremely instructive. It
explains so many things that still have to be explained, if religion be
untrue. The new science of psychology has already accounted for many
abnormal phenomena that were formerly considered miraculous--"faith
cures," [234] for instance. Does it not account for the effects
of prayer? We know nothing of the efficacy of prayer in securing
material benefits--there is no proof either way; but we do know that
it has often an ethical value, and is also a means of strengthening
faith. Does it necessarily follow that a Supernatural Being hears
and answers the suppliant's prayers? I think not. Suggestion, it is
now known, exercises an extraordinary influence over the subjective
mind. In prayer auto-suggestion undoubtedly plays its subtle rôle.

Let me give an example of the benign results that may be effected
by suggestion without any appeal to the supernatural. Often a moral
change for the worse in a most estimable person is distinctly traceable
to causes over which he or she had no control, and the physician or
surgeon, having diagnosed the case, proceeds to do his best to bring
about a cure. Where it is some nervous malady, mental therapeutics
or psychic healing is sometimes extremely efficacious. [235] Vices
and weaknesses are now looked upon by many in the light of diseases
and ailments--curable, ameliorable, or incurable, as the case may
be. Disease or Devil, the fact remains that medical treatment may
effect a cure even where the patient's disorder has been brought on
by, as we say, his own fault. Dipsomania, morphinomania, kleptomania,
nymphomania, satyriasis, and various moral perversions may yield to a
purely natural treatment, whether it be the method of a Milne Bramwell
(by suggestion) or of Keeley.

When denouncing Mariolatry (in his sermon at the opening of the
Church Congress, October, 1905), the Bishop of London said: "It is not
revealed that the cry to any saint or to the Virgin Mary ever reaches
them at all." Apparently, therefore, the Bishop admits that appeals
to the supernatural may be wasted, and this in spite of the suppliant
being very much in earnest. Yet who would be prepared to say that
the Roman Catholic who prays to the Virgin Mary and to innumerable
saints does not derive quite as much benefit from the process as the
Protestant who directs his worship solely to the Holy Trinity, or
the Shintoist who invokes the benign spirits of his ancestors? [236]
The effect of the suggestion is the same in each case, and has all
the appearance of an answer to prayer.

Again, putting aside abnormal phases of the mind, is it not, as
Ralph Waldo Trine puts it (in his little book, Character Building:
Thought Power), a simple psychological law that any type of thought,
if entertained for a sufficient length of time, will, by and by,
reach the motor tracts of the brain, and finally burst forth into
action? There seems no need for the introduction of a supernatural
hypothesis to explain the moral effect of prayer. So, also, with
regard to faith, it is only natural that the believer, racked with
doubt, should find reassurance in prayer.

The Theist who lays store by the evidence from "religious experience"
will do well to ponder over the following words of one of Professor
James's critics: "Instead of producing anything that would strengthen
the belief in extra-human spirit agents influencing human destinies,
psychology has made intelligible, conformably to the rest of our
organised knowledge, most, if not all, of the striking phenomena which
have been the empirical props of the popular faith in spiritism,
whether Christian or not. We refer to anæsthesias, analgesias,
hallucinations, monitions, trances, the sense of illumination in
ecstasy, etc., including the facts considered in Professor James'
lectures. In making this statement, I do not forget the work of the
Society for Psychical Research. Its achievements may be declared
to have been so far, and without prejudice of the future, absolutely
inconclusive with regard to spiritism." [237] In other words, psychical
research, if conducted by the experimental method and without bias,
may be pregnant with consequences hardly in accord with the hopes of
either the spiritist or spiritualist (in its religious sense). For,
should abnormal phenomena of all kinds admit of a natural explanation,
their present obscurity will no longer furnish grounds for supernatural


According to Professor James's theory, it is the person who chances to
have a well-developed subliminal life who is predestined to be saved,
for then God will be able to reach him. As Professor James informs
us that "nitrous oxide and ether, especially nitrous oxide, when
sufficiently diluted with air, stimulate the mystical consciousness
in an extraordinary degree," so that "depth beyond depth of truth
seems revealed to the inhaler," the unbelieving Philistine ought
to be recommended to inhale this truth-revealing, and therefore
faith-producing, gas. Like music, it must be meant as an aid to
worship. The new beatitude will then be, as Mr. Leuba remarks,
"Blessed are the intoxicated, for to them the kingdom of spirits is
revealed!" I can quite understand the interest aroused by Professor
James's remarkable book; but that Theists and would-be Theists
should take its chief conclusion seriously is beyond me--or, rather,
I should say it is one more proof to me that the inherited capacity
for superstition is still strong within us. We can understand why
supernatural beliefs die hard.


Are our emotions reliable guides, or are they not? Though the
motive-power in our nature, though they go to make up that heart
upon which Mr. Fielding so eloquently discourses in his Hearts of
Men, do they not need to be carefully controlled by reason? Are they
not the very same emotions which, in all but religious matters, are
admittedly a fruitful source of self-deception? Take the emotion
excited by music. I know many good people who think they possess
considerable religious feeling, and have had a religious experience,
because they are peculiarly affected by music, and especially by fine
sacred music. [239] Similarly, Dr. Torrey's "Glory Song" appeals to the
untrained ear of his emotional audiences, and the Salvation band, all
out of tune, elevates the soul of the Salvationist. Yet lower down the
scale of musical culture we find a clash of discordant sounds exciting
the religious emotions of the savage. Is it too much to say that these
"experiences" differ only in degree from those of the dog who howls as
certain notes affect him? Granted that music, suited to the taste of
the worshipper, is an aid to worship, we have to remember that there
are those whose temperaments are so constituted that they are more
or less unaffected by music--good, bad, or indifferent--and, if the
religious feeling evoked be from God, may we not ask in all reverence:
"Why should the unmusical be debarred from this means of feeling His
presence? Why should the man without a note of music in his composition
have this much less chance of eternal salvation?" Surely we are not to
take seriously and literally the words of our great philosopher-poet
when he says: "Let no such man be trusted"?


Again, there is the religious feeling evoked by that strongest emotion
of all--sexual love; the one excites the other, and the effect produced
may be beneficial or may be mischievous. But sexual love appears to me
a strange aid to the worship of God; and persons who really imagine
they are nearer Him when in this state of emotion most certainly
deceive themselves. The ascetic who is debarred from this particular
"religious" experience should agree with me.


An examination of religious experiences, however brief, cannot well
omit all mention of the question of revivalism. Has it an ethical
value? Has it a spiritual meaning? To the latter question the answer of
the Church is for the most part in the affirmative. In his Pentecostal
message for Whitsuntide, 1905, the Archbishop of Canterbury refers,
without directly naming them, to the extraordinary movement of which
the young Evan Roberts has been the leader, and to the preaching
of Messrs. Torrey and Alexander in London. "To whatever cause or
combination of causes we may attribute it," he says, "the fact
appears to be certain that expression has this year been given in
an unusual degree to a desire for increased spiritual earnestness
in the Christian life." I shall not embark upon the question of the
spiritual signification of revivalism. My remarks on other religious
experiences may be taken to apply here also. Regarding its ethical
value, I fancy most thoughtful onlookers will be with me when I
say that it is unadvisable to stir up hysteria in hysterical people
just for the sake of effects, the usefulness of which is extremely
problematical--effects which, if they benefit a few, are harmful to
the majority, and, in any case, are unlikely to be of a permanent
nature. We have it on excellent authority that "emotional appeals and
revivals do not destroy carnal sin in schools, and it is well known
how often they seem to stimulate, to increase, immorality." [240]

§ 6. The Inevitable Conclusion.

A candid and unbiassed examination of the so-called theistic proofs
can but lead to the one conclusion: they are worthless. Even if the
cosmological and teleological arguments were satisfactory, and even
if "religious" experiences proved the existence of a spirit world,
the ethical argument undoubtedly breaks down, carrying along with
it all that fragile structure of which the theist's theories are
composed. Yes, the problem of evil is insoluble. "We have not,"
says John Stuart Mill, [241] "to attempt the impossible problem of
reconciling infinite benevolence and justice with infinite power in
the Creator of such a world as this. To attempt to do so not only
involves absolute contradiction in an intellectual point of view,
but exhibits to excess the revolting spectacle of a Jesuitical defence
of moral enormities." The latest defence by an approved apologist of
the Church of England will be found in chap. xiv. of Pro Fide. It
has been conducted with conspicuous candour, and such harsh terms
as "Jesuitical" and "revolting" are no longer applicable. Whether,
however, this is likely to prove any more successful than previous
attempts, and to serve as an antidote to scepticism, may be seen by a
glance at the following summary of the line of argument. The author
relies, to begin with, upon the theological assumption that moral
evil arises from the abuse of God's gift to man of a free will. He
also argues that the transmission of a tendency to sin is not unjust,
because a remedy for it has been provided. As for physical evil,
this, he maintains, subserves important moral purposes in the case
of man, and in the case of animals it is more than compensated for
by physical good. In the end, however, he is forced, as we have seen,
to fall back upon the hypothesis of a personal devil. In other words,
he presents us with those sophistical arguments of theistic apologists
which we have been investigating, and then, finding, as a perfectly
honest mind must find, that these are inadequate, he has, after all,
to rely upon those ancient theological dogmas which owe their origin
to the insolubility of the problem. Let those accept his special
pleading who can. There are many who read an apologetic work with
minds already made up to be persuaded by it, and where there is this
bias there cannot be straight thinking. For those who keep an open mind
the conclusion is inevitable: apart from the revelation which has been
called in question there is no proof, there never can be any proof, of
the existence of the God of the Christian. If there be a First Cause,
if there be a Supreme Intelligence, if there be a Deity at all, we know
nothing of His nature and nothing of His intentions with regard to us.


An examination of the development of philosophy leads to conclusions
of considerable import. Our present inquiry can be only an exceedingly
rapid one; but anyone wishing to study the subject a little more fully
will find it concisely treated in a book called Science and Faith,
by Dr. Paul Topinard, late General Secretary of the Anthropological
Society of Paris. From Chapter VIII. I cull the following:--

"Animals, in the presence of phenomena which they do not understand,
retire confounded. Savage man does the same. But he, at least, hazards
the attempt of an explanation by investing the objects or phenomena in
question with life and sentiments similar to his own. Later this same
savage, discovering or believing to discover in himself a double being,
the one corporeal and the other spiritual, transfers the new notions
regarding himself to objects without himself, to stones, plants,
animals, or stars.... Religions, at first more or less elementary,
with their founders and priests, do not appear until later.... For
a long time the sorcerer--that is to say, a man less credulous than
the rest, and adroit in the sense of knowing how to reap personal
advantage from the beliefs of his fellows--stood alone in his
class. Sorcerer and medicine man at once, he distributed amulets,
drove out spirits from the bodies of the deceased, and caused the
rains to fall.... The sacerdotal caste arose, at times recruiting
itself from the outside and at times hereditary. More intelligent
than the others, more disposed to reflect, the priests were naturally
inclined to seek more satisfactory explanations from the phenomena
of nature, to distinguish general causes from particular causes,
to reduce the number of the spirits, to champion the most important
of these, and even to symbolise many of them. The cult of heroes,
of personages in the tribe who had rendered it valuable services,
and of ancestors, was mingled with the preceding beliefs. Having
to speak to simple people, for whom it was necessary to materialise
things, they were obliged to recast their ideas and to expound them
by the help of fables and myths, which soon essayed to explain in a
tangible form the origin of things, the existing phenomena of nature,
and often to guide the conduct of men. These were the first attempts
of philosophy, already as utilitarian as they were mystical."

"Religions consecrated a multitude of usages and ceremonies from which
the sacerdotal class lived, and which greatly augmented its power;
and they also exerted a strong political influence. Again, they
led up to genuine moral codes, such as those of Brahma and Buddha in
India, and Confucius in China.... The utilitarian idea appears to have
dominated among the Phoenician and Canaanite peoples. It gave rise to
the doctrine of a personal national God, who had created man and the
people whom he had chosen and whose destinies he directed. He exacted
from them blind and exclusive worship and obedience to the laws which
he promulgated. In return he protected them, reserving his right of
terrestrial punishment.... The Egyptians are related to the Hindus by
their belief in metempsychosis, or the transmigration of souls from
animal to animal.... The conception of a judgment after death passed
through these peoples [the Egyptians] to the polytheism of Greece and
Rome.... Greek philosophy rose audaciously to the loftiest and boldest
conceptions, not conceptions crowning an intellectual edifice, but
conceptions which dominate it in imaginary realms of space. Aristotle
belongs apart. He is at once scientist and philosopher. He observes
nature. He is the founder of natural history, of anthropology, of
political science, and of political economy. According to Graef,
he is also the founder of political philosophy, because he was the
first to introduce positive facts into philosophy.... In the general
run, they [the Greek philosophers] were dialecticians, sophists, and
intellectual gymnasts only. But, such as they were, they founded free
inquiry, disintegrated the national polytheistic beliefs, and prepared
the way for the revolution which was on the verge of accomplishment."

"In an unknown [?] corner of Judæa, on the banks of a lake, the glad
tidings burst forth of a coming regeneration, and a voice was heard
pleading the cause of the feeble, the humble, and the oppressed,
and saying: 'Love ye one another!' The doctrine, at first local
and inculcated by a small number of apostles, soon extended with
St. Paul to the Gentiles, and thenceforward its progress was rapid
[?]. Philosophy was not indifferent to it.... Christianity, in effect,
instead of conquering the pagan world, was conquered by it, as Huxley
has remarked.... During the Middle Ages science had disappeared from
the West. Philosophy, hemmed in between metaphysics and theology,
became scholasticism, which sought to reconcile Plato, Plotinus, and
Aristotle with the needs of orthodoxy, and split hairs over subtle
essences and entities.... Then a concourse of circumstances occurred
which, as fifteen centuries before, was to transform the Western world,
although differently, and which inaugurated modern times, to wit: The
return to the West of the knowledge that had taken refuge among the
Arabs; the discovery of printing, which spread everywhere trustworthy
texts; the discovery of the New World, which quadrupled the surface
of the earth to be observed and studied; the awakening of science,
with Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Rondelet, Vesalius, Harvey; and,
finally, the Reformation."

"On the downfall of scholasticism the first care of philosophy
was not the renouncing of what had been its essence, the search
for the absolute by intuition [italics are mine] and reason, but
the overhauling of its methods, which it sought to render more
precise.... The subsequent divergencies were rooted less in the
varying intellectual and logical make-up of each philosopher and in
their method of applying their faculties than in their individual ways
of feeling and conceiving. Philosophy in effect is simply a struggle
between these elements.... Nevertheless, the conquests of science began
to make themselves felt. There was now less insistence on God and more
on the world, man, morals, and the conditions of social life. The
over-hanging metaphysical cloud is still more or less heavy, but at
spots it suffers the light to pass through. There are two streams:
the one continues Descartes--in France with Pascal, Bossuet, Fénélon,
and Malebranche, in Germany with Spinoza and Leibnitz; the other, in
England, is represented by Bacon, Hobbes, and Locke.... Bacon, Hobbes,
and Locke are the inaugurators of a school which is characterised by
its practical spirit, its observation and analysis of psychological
facts, and by its disposition to refer the conduct of man to the
advantages which he draws therefrom. It led to Adam Smith, who
discovers the sanction of morality in the public approbation of what
is right; to Bentham, who sees it in interest rationally understood;
to Hume and the Scottish school; and finally to the existing school
of John Stuart Mill, Darwin, and Herbert Spencer. Locke, on the other
hand, is also the starting-point of the French school of the eighteenth
century, which is characterised by a tendency at once anti-clerical,
altruistic, and sentimental."

"We shall say nothing of the philosophy of the nineteenth century
of the German school, which represents speculative philosophy, and
the English, which is physiological in bent, and of which we have
the highest opinion. In France the most notable achievement is the
attempt which was made by Auguste Comte. For Comte metaphysics must
be entirely eliminated. The day of intuitions, à priori conceptions,
entities, innate ideas, is past. If a problem cannot be solved, it is
to be let alone. Psychology is only a branch of physiology, and the
latter a division of biology. Morals rest not upon any imperative
obligation, but upon the altruism which education developes. There
are no rights besides those which society confers. Human knowledge
has passed through three stages: one of faith or theology, one of
conceptions or metaphysics, and one of observation or science. These,
in turn, are the basal principles of science, and would be perfect
if the positivist school were faithful to them. But in its own bosom
even there are refractory spirits who suffer themselves unconsciously
to be ruled by their sentiments rather than by observation, and who
are constantly lapsing back into the old methods.... For me there
is but one method of knowing what is, and of inducing therefrom what
has been and what will be--and that is observation; all suggestions
which transgress this method are void."

From his examination of the evolution of philosophy Dr. Topinard draws,
by way of résumé, the following conclusions:--

a. Philosophy, like religion, is the outcome of the belief in the
supernatural held by man in his more or less primitive state.

b. The philosophic spirit and the spirit which created the arts and
letters have as common characters their subjectivity, their need of
imagining and of constructing, and their firm belief in the reality
of their conceptions.

c. Philosophy is opposed to science. It answers to the impatient need
of man to explain at once things which elude his comprehension.

d. At the present day philosophy still lives, but is losing its
initial character and sees itself obliged more and more to reckon
with science and practice.

e. We are obliged to admit that the group of human faculties which
has given birth to philosophy has a less prolonged future than the
group which has given rise to science.

f. Philosophy, although on the wane, and apparently in disaccord with
the end of the nineteenth century, has nevertheless a beautiful domain
to exploit.

These conclusions concerning the past and present of philosophy cannot
be disseminated too widely. So many refuse point-blank to inquire
into their belief, because they have been led to think that this
will entail their wading through a mass of philosophical writings,
and because they expect to find these either incomprehensible or
unconvincing. Properly speaking, Christians should be the first to
admit that apologists who attempt to defend their Faith by abstruse
arguments are sadly inconsistent. For it is written, Jesus rejoiced
in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and
earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent,
and hast revealed them unto babes. Let the humble truth-seeker take
heart. Whatever the value or present tendency of philosophy may or
may not be, the truth about the Christian religion can be ascertained
without a knowledge of metaphysics.

Metaphysics does not, and never will, appeal to the average man. He
agrees with the scoffer, who says: "When the man who is speaking no
longer knows what he is talking about, and the man who is listening
never knew what he was talking about, that is metaphysics!" The
obscurity inherent in profound and abstract philosophy may well be
objected to, not only as painful and fatiguing, but as the inevitable
source of uncertainty and error. "Here, indeed," exclaims Hume,
in his essay on The Different Species of Philosophy, "lies the
justest and most plausible objection against a considerable part of
metaphysics, that they are not properly a science, but arise either
from the fruitless efforts of human vanity, which would penetrate
into subjects utterly inaccessible to the understanding, or from
the craft of popular superstitions, which, being unable to defend
themselves on fair ground, raise these intangling brambles to cover
and protect their weakness." It is accurate and just reasoning like
that of Hume, in his Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding, which,
to quote his words again, "is the only catholic remedy, fitted for
all persons and all dispositions; and is alone able to subvert that
abstruse philosophy and metaphysical jargon which, being mixed up
with popular superstition, renders it in a manner impenetrable to
careless reasoners, and gives it the air of science and wisdom."

It may be urged that the famous Scottish philosopher and historian
has been unduly severe in his sceptical views concerning speculative
philosophy, or that he would have been less severe upon the later
metaphysical thinking which was affected by his criticisms. There
still remains, in any case, one feature common to all philosophies:
their difficulty. Philosophy is only studied, and, indeed, can only be
thoroughly understood, by the few. Take, for example, that intellectual
phenomenon, Hegelianism, the spirit and method of which have leavened
the whole mass of philosophical thought in Germany. It is confessedly
one of the most difficult of all philosophies. One has heard what
Hegel himself is supposed to have said: "Only one man ever understood
me, and even he couldn't." This difficulty of comprehension has an
important bearing on the argument for Agnosticism. Granting that there
is such a God as Hegel would have us accept, how can anyone suppose
for a moment that a Deity wrapping Himself up in such obscurity
would be unreasonable enough to expect all mankind to believe in
Him? He must not only pardon, but approve of, Agnosticism. A God,
whose existence can only be proved, if it can be proved at all, by
the abstruse arguments of a Hegel, is not a God anxious to reveal
Himself to His creatures.


Chapter VII.


§ 1. Preliminary Remarks. The Power of Christianity for Good.

Finally we have to consider some arguments that have often quite
as much weight with the believer as Bible apologetics or Theistic
proofs. They are: (1) The power of Christianity for good; (2) the
marvellous spread of Christianity; (3) the witness of the Christian
martyrs; and (4) the universality of the religious instinct. The
first of these--the power of Christianity for good--opens up a large
question, and I have thought it advisable, therefore, to select
for special investigation two popular beliefs springing from this
source--namely, the belief that woman owes her present position to
Christianity, and the belief that the overthrow of Christianity would
endanger society and the nation. The point now under consideration is
not whether Christianity ought to have been, but whether it has been,
a power for good. Although the apologist, when hard pressed as to
this or that evidence of failure, attributes it to the fault of man,
he nevertheless continues stoutly to maintain that Christianity has
indeed worked wonders for mankind. This we should certainly expect of
it, if it be a true belief, and it is a claim therefore which cannot
be too closely investigated.

It would be a comparatively easy, though lengthy, task to make out
an exceedingly strong case against Christianity by enlarging upon
the inhumanity and immorality of the Dark Ages, and comparing this
with the far more humane and moral conduct of men in pre-Christian
civilisations. One could point to the rock-graven edicts of King
Asoka (263-226 B.C.), and show that in the matter of discountenancing
slavery, of humanity to prisoners, of denouncing war, of founding
hospitals, of abolishing blood sacrifices, of inculcating religious
toleration, and of teaching purity of life, all that is now so
complacently claimed for Christianity was anticipated. Or again,
one might dwell on the dark side of Christendom, even in this year of
grace 1907, and draw some very odious comparisons, especially as we
have so recently been presented with the object-lesson of a heathen
race which excels many, and equals any, of the Christian races in
nearly all those virtues we prize and call Christian. But I have no
intention of embarking upon such a wide sea of controversy.

One controversial subject, however, I feel bound to notice, because
the disputed point is at the root of the whole matter. We are so
accustomed to hear every humane or unselfish deed, and every moral act,
described as Christian that "good" and "Christian" have almost become
synonymous terms. It never occurs to us to ask, or we never give a
second thought to the question, how much the humane principles now
accepted among civilised nations may be due to education, experience,
and evolution, and how much to Christian influence. The Rationalist
attributes the improvement chiefly to the former, and, in any case,
to the working of natural forces; the Christian chiefly to the latter,
and, in any case, to the working of supernatural forces.

All that is beneficial in civilisation, both on its material and on
what is called its spiritual side, is placed by the Christian to the
credit of Christianity, and the hand of God is traced with becoming
reverence in every discovery which ameliorates our lot. This, although
the promoters and discoverers are often non-Christians, and although
it is well known that it is the Church that has chiefly delayed the
advance of science. Whatever may be the case now, the education of
the masses never concerned her in olden times. Rather her concern was
then that the people should not be educated, much as it is in Russia at
the present time. Such education as she did encourage was of the type
imparted in the Mohammedan University at Cairo to-day--the three R's
and the Koran--and for similar reasons. As late as 1846 Cobden writes
to a friend on the subject of national education: "I took the repeal
of the Corn Laws as light amusement compared with the difficult task
of inducing the priests of all denominations to agree to suffer the
people to be educated." Again, Lord Macaulay, speaking of the Roman
Catholic Church, in the first chapter of his History of England,
says that "during the last three centuries to stunt the growth of
the human mind has been her chief object. Throughout Christendom,
whatever advance has been made in knowledge, in freedom, in wealth,
and in the arts of life, has been made in spite of her, and has
everywhere been in inverse proportion to her power. The loveliest and
most fertile provinces of Europe have, under her rule, been sunk in
poverty, in political servitude, and in intellectual torpor."

So long as organisms are adapted to their environment, neither
progressive nor retrogressive development will occur. Because,
after the Dark Ages, Europe progressed while Asia stagnated and
Africa retrogressed, is modern civilisation to be placed to the
credit of the Christian religion? As rationally might any one of the
ancient civilisations be credited to the popular superstition of the
country then in the van of progress. To such absurd lengths are these
pretensions carried that we find persons ignorant enough and fanatical
enough to attribute the present predominance of Christian nations to
their religion. For a reply to such I cannot better that given by a
learned Buddhist monk to a missionary who had told him that nations
of the West had become powerful because of their Christianity. "The
fact is," retorted the monk, "that nations have become powerful in
the degree to which they have rejected the precepts of Christianity,
in the extent to which they have substituted for the Christian maxim
of 'Love thy neighbour as thyself' that other maxim which shoots 300
bullets a minute."

Returning to the only contention really worth considering, let us
assume that there has been moral progress in Christendom, and let
us assume also that this has nothing to do with the advance of
Humanitarianism in the present, or with pre-Christian (Buddhist,
for instance) teaching in the past. Are we to conclude that this is
a proof of the divine origin of Christianity? I must confess I fail
to see how any improvement which there may be in the matter of coarse
vice among the proletariat, of dishonesty among the commercial classes,
of corruptness among the professional, and of sensuality among the
leisured classes, can be any proof that Jesus, one of the world's
reformers, was God Incarnate. Christian teaching embodies precepts
of the greatest ethical value, borrowed, as we now know, from the
doctrines of ancient moralists and religious teachers. Would it not
indeed be strange if this teaching had done no good whatever--if the
leaven had had no elevating influences at all, whereas the teachings of
Confucius and Buddha have produced those admirable results which even
Christians are at last prepared to admit? Dr. Warschauer explains in
Anti-Nunquam, p. 72, that Agnostics are good men, "because, willingly
or unwillingly, they have taken in Christian ideas through every
pore." How, then, does he explain the virtues of the Japanese?

Let us now leave generalisation, and investigate in some detail an
important Christian argument which has the contention of Christianity's
power for good as its source. It forms a striking illustration of the
way fallacies may arise from a hard-and-fast adhesion to convictions
that are justified rather by the heart than by history.

§ 2. Christianity Woman's Best Friend. [242]

The majority of women still remain true believers. There appear
to be numerous reasons, psychological and educational, for their
attitude. Woman is more imaginative, more emotional, and more
sensitive to external suggestion than man. As to her education,
men, even those who have no religious belief whatever, prefer to
keep her in ignorance of their views, partly under a vague notion
that unbelief would undermine her virtue and lessen her amiability,
and partly because they deem her religious influence an essential
element in the upbringing of their children. In addition to all
this, woman is taught by the Church that Christianity is her best
friend. Prominent prelates of the Church proclaim that "the Gospel
has given woman the position she holds to-day." [243] Nothing could
very well be more contrary to fact. One can only suppose that these
expounders of the truth are speaking according to the dictates of
their hearts, and without having really studied the question, or else
that they believe their cause is served by deliberately closing their
eyes to inconvenient facts. The question is one of supreme importance,
as it is chiefly women who are now the mainstay of the Faith.

People with little or no knowledge of those portions of history that
specially bear upon the question are easily deceived. The average
woman's ideas concerning the pre-Christian civilisations are decidedly
vague. Her ideas may also be further confused by lurid accounts from
the pulpit of the licentiousness prevalent among the upper classes
during the earlier and also the last years of the Roman Empire;
while nothing is told her about the unrestrained licence of the
aristocracy during the Middle Ages, and the degraded condition of the
masses during, say, the eighteenth century, "when," says Sir Walter
Besant, "for drunkenness, brutality, and ignorance, the Englishman
of the baser kind reached the lowest depth ever reached by civilised
man." Clerics who unconsciously mislead their congregations with this
argument cannot be aware of those hard facts of history which render
it untenable. For their benefit, and for the benefit of their dupes,
let us glance at a few of these facts.

The status of women among the "barbarians" is vouched for by the
Romans, their enemies, and therefore unexceptionable witnesses. Nothing
impressed the Romans more than the equality of the sexes among the
northern nations, the man's reverence for womanhood, the woman's
sympathy with manhood, and the high code of morality that was the
natural outcome of this well-balanced state of society.

At a time when the men of the "Chosen People" were insulting and
unjust to their women, heathen women enjoyed a position which their
Christian, not to mention their Mohammedan, descendants might well
envy. "Polygamy only began to disappear among the Jews in the fifth
century B.C., and so curious was the influence of the Old Testament
on the early Christian Church that several of the Fathers could not
bring themselves to condemn it, and it was not officially suppressed
by the Church until A.D. 1060. Luther and the Reformers allowed it
even later. Yet polygamy was one of the surest signs of a contempt
of woman, and it had been rejected by Greeks, Romans, and barbarians
long before the Hebrews began to perceive its enormity." [244]

"The part women played in old Japan," writes the founder of the
first university for women in Japan, [245] "was very remarkable,
especially before the arrival of Buddhism and Confucianism. Men
and women were almost equal in their social position. There was
then no shadow of the barbarous idea that men were everything and
women nothing. Women's power even in politics was great, and history
tells us that there were nine women who ascended the throne in olden
times. Women in general were not inferior to men physically, mentally,
or morally. They were noted for their bravery, and distinguished
themselves on the field of battle. In the literary world they were
not less noted for their brilliant productions. Their moral conduct
was most blameless, and commanded universal respect. Their natural
temperament was cheerful and optimistic, and charmed the sterner
sex. Such being the attainments and characteristics of women in
olden times, we can fairly believe that they were as well educated
as men were, although there were not existing any institutions of
instruction for women. This was the springtime of Japanese womanhood,
when it blossomed undisturbed, and exerted a strong and beneficial
influence on the life of old Japan. The introduction of Buddhism and
Confucianism, however, began to create great changes in the position
of women. And yet so powerful were women in society when these two
religions came to Japan that their rapid spread in our country was
due to the earnest endeavours of women." Speaking of the feudal age,
he remarks: "The social environment of the age and the prevalence
of Buddhism and Confucianism worked hand in hand to bring about the
subjection of women." The analogy between the experiences of the
Japanese lady and her European sister is a striking one. (There is an
analogy, too, between the conduct of the Buddhist priests and that of
the Roman Catholic priests in the Middle Ages, or even in Southern
Italy to-day. "The sins of the present generation of priests," said
Count Okuma in the course of an interview, "are many, and the hells
about which they preach are prepared for the like of them." [246]
"The majority of the priests are utterly degenerate and hopelessly
ignorant." [247])

Look on these pictures, one of 2000 B.C. and the other of A.D. 1850:--

Picture I.--Two thousand years before the Christian era "woman was
more free and more honoured in Egypt than she is in any country of
the world to-day. She was the mistress of the house. [248]... She
inherited equally with her brothers, and had full control of her
property. She could go where she liked, or speak with whom she
liked. She was 'juridically the equal of man,' says M. Paturet,
'having the same rights and being treated in the same fashion'; and
the same authority observes that it was not as mother, but as woman,
as a being equal in dignity, that she was thus honoured. There was
polygamy in theory, but the first wife was generally able to exact
conditions in her marriage contract which effectually prevented it. The
inscriptions show, says Maspéro, that she remained to the end of her
life 'the beloved of her husband and the mistress of the house.'" [249]

Picture II.--In enlightened Boston, about 1850 (under the English
Common Law), woman could not hold any property, either inherited or
earned. A woman, either married or unmarried, could hold no office of
trust or power. She was not recognised as a citizen. The status of a
married woman was little better than that of a domestic servant. By
the English Common Law her husband was her lord and master. He had
the sole custody of her person, and of her children while minors. He
could punish her "with a stick no thicker than his thumb," and she
could not complain against him. He was the owner of all her real
estate and of her earnings. She had no personal rights, and could
hardly call her soul her own. Her husband could steal her children,
rob her of her clothing, neglect to support the family: she had no
legal redress. [250]

Not until near the middle of the nineteenth century did that movement
commence which has radically improved, and will continue to improve,
the position of women. And who took the chief, and, in the initial
stage, the only, part in this reform movement? Freethinkers. Who were
silent when they were not active opponents? The clergy. "It was just
those who most radically abandoned Christianity--Owen, Holyoake,
and Mill--that were the most logical and ungrudging in their plea
for woman. It was the Mary Wollstonecrafts, Harriet Martineaus,
Frances Wrights, George Eliots, Helen Taylors, and Annie Besants that
distinguished themselves by fearlessness and unselfishness... The
clergy never discovered any injustice to woman; and only one in
a thousand could see it when it was pointed out.... All honour
to the memory of those clergymen who, like Kingsley and Farrar,
protested against the injustice to the full extent of their idea
of womanhood.... On the Continent there has been the same story of
general clerical opposition and general heterodox support." [251]
"Mr. Pinchwife," [252] too, has undoubtedly had a hand in the
subjection of woman; but we are investigating the grounds for the
contention that Christianity has laid on woman a burden of gratitude,
and that, if Christianity were overthrown, women would sink into
unknown depths of degradation. Do the above-stated facts bear out
that contention?

The question arises: Why has Christianity stood in the way of woman's
cause? The answer is simple enough: Christianity, in adopting the
Old Testament, adopted with it the Hebrew conception of woman. Her
inferiority to man was established by her origin from his rib and the
leading part she took in his fall. The Vicar of Crantock tabulates
[253] the reasons why a Christian woman should cover her head in
church, as follows:--

    (1) Man's priority of creation. Adam was first formed, then Eve.

    (2) The manner of creation. The man is not of the woman, but the
    woman of the man.

    (3) The purport of creation. The man was not created for the woman,
    but the woman for the man.

    (4) Results in creation. The man is the image of the Glory of God,
    but woman is the glory of man.

    (5) Woman's priority in the Fall. Adam was not deceived; but the
    woman, being deceived, was in the transgression.

    (6) The marriage relation. As the Church is subject to Christ,
    so let the wives be to their husbands.

    (7) The headship of man and woman. The head of every man is Christ,
    but the head of the woman is man.

The Jews' idea of a woman was sanctioned by no less an authority than
Jehovah; nor did the Christ of the Gospels give one word of clear
guidance on this or any other social problem, or enter one word of
explicit protest against the injustice of the Judaic treatment of
women. Again, the teaching of St. Paul was based on the Old Testament,
and the teaching of the Fathers was based on the Old Testament and
St. Paul. A few quotations from the sayings of some of these Fathers,
whose contempt of marriage became one of the great errors of the
Church, may prove instructive:--

    Fornication is a lapse from one marriage into many.--Clement
    of Alexandria.

    Digamists (widowers who re-marry) are saved in the name of Christ,
    but are by no means crowned by him.--Origen.

    Second marriage is "a decent sort of adultery."--Athenagoras.

    It was no part of God's primitive design that the race should
    be continued by sexual union. Marriage is the outcome of
    sin.--St. Gregory of Nyssa (a married bishop).

    Blessed is the one who leads a celibate life, and soils not the
    divine image within him with the filth of concupiscence.

        Fierce is the dragon, and cunning the asp;
        But woman has the malice of both.

                            --St. Gregory of Nazianzum.

    Why was woman created at all?--St. Augustine.

    Thou art the devil's gate, the betrayer of the tree, the first
    deserter of the divine law!

    Marriage is not far removed from fornication.--Tertullian.

    She is more fitted for bodily work.... Remember that God took a
    rib out of Adam's body, not a part of his soul, to make her.

    She was not made to the image of God, like man.--St. Ambrose.

    Woman is the root of all evil.--St. Jerome.

    At the Council of Auxerre, in 578, the bishops forbade women,
    on account of their "impurity," to take the sacrament in their
    hands as men did.

If women only knew of these sayings, would they approve of the
"appeal to the first six centuries"?

Bad as the position of woman was under the influence of the early
Church teaching, it was, in many respects, still worse during the
Middle Ages. "Life-long seclusion in the inner apartments of the
house of a man she has not chosen, or internment in a nunnery--that
is, either degraded or unnatural--is the choice (within limits) of
the daughter of the wealthy. Life-long drudgery, with few and coarse
pleasures, with a long vista of sticks and whips, and scold's bridles,
and ducking stools--with, perhaps, the brutal 'ordeal' on the slightest
suspicion, or the ghastly death of the witch, is the prospect of the
daughter of the poor." [254] Even the Reformation altered more than
it improved the condition of woman. How could it be otherwise when
the Reformers were nothing if not Bibliolaters?

Of the movement for the betterment of woman's position that eventually
took place, not by the aid, but in spite, of the Church, I have
already spoken. All the evidence we possess regarding the history
of Heathendom and Christendom conclusively shows that Christianity
has done much to lower, and but little to elevate, the position of
women. Should I have succeeded in arousing the interest of my gentle
readers, or should they wish to verify my statements, I implore them
to read well-known works of competent authorities on this subject. The
astounding but apparently prevalent idea, that woman is only secured
by Christianity from the brutal assaults of man, will appear in the
next argument we are about to consider.

§ 3. The Overthrow of Christianity would Endanger Society and the

I have elsewhere commented on the opinion prevalent in England (and
in some other, but not all other, Christian countries) that, to quote
Canon Henson, "the real elements of the Christian Faith are those that
have made European nations the most powerful in the world," [255] and
that the overthrow of Christianity would endanger the nation. Many go
still farther, and prophesy absolute chaos. People who have been imbued
with the Church's teaching, and who have spent their lives in Christian
surroundings, are naturally convinced that belief and morality are
indissoluble partners--that Christianity is a power for good in this
respect above all others. Therefore, when Professor Flint says, "It
[the Christian Faith] could not be displaced without shaking society
from top to bottom," [256] he expresses a very popular opinion among
believers and semi-believers. Even among Agnostics there are many who,
while recognising the fallacy so far as they themselves are concerned,
still seem to consider that society would be insufficiently protected
from criminals by its own instinct of self-preservation, and that,
to maintain order among the masses, the hand of the law must, for
the present, be strengthened by appeals to a supernatural sanction
of conduct. Both Herbert Spencer and Matthew Arnold, for example,
thought the world at large stood in peril of a moral collapse, while,
as the latter puts it, "the old (theologically-derived) sanction of
conduct is out of date, and the new is not yet born." "Few things can
happen more disastrous," writes Herbert Spencer, "than the decay and
death of a regulative system no longer fit, before another and fitter
regulative system has grown up to replace it" (see Preface, dated July,
1879, to The Data of Ethics). It is for reasons such as these that
so many Agnostics still lend their moral support to the Churches;
for men rightly uphold what they deem essential to the common weal,
whether it be Christ-worship in England or ancestor-worship in Japan.

This deeply-rooted conviction regarding belief and conduct has been
partially considered in the first section of this chapter, and, the
subject being one of the greatest importance, I am also devoting to
its consideration a portion of the concluding chapter of this book. I
shall confine myself here to the warning given to us by the Church and
the pious laity--that we must expect nothing less than chaos should
the Resurrection, and along with it, of course, the whole fabric of
Christianity, be ultimately disproved.

This view has been illustrated in Mr. Guy Thorne's book, When it was
Dark. The book may be seen on every bookstall, has had an extraordinary
sale, [257] and has been much appreciated by many pious-minded
persons (especially by those of the High Church persuasion, the
book being written by a partisan of that cult). The anti-Christian
propagandist is here represented as knowing that Christ is God; but,
for some unexplained and exceedingly mysterious reason, utilising
a huge fortune and a powerful intellect in unscrupulous endeavours
to spread disbelief. He is a deceiver of mankind, a genuine Satan
in human shape. He leads the life of an ascetic, so the usual
grounds given for disbelief are removed. With the assistance of
another man (a real villain, this time, of the lowest type), one of
the greatest savants of the day, a gigantic fraud is perpetrated,
and the Resurrection thereby definitely disproved. Immediately an
epidemic of crime breaks out among quondam Christians, which nothing
can quell. The restraints of order are paralysed, and the criminal
element is rampant. The violence and viciousness of men were, please
to note, specially directed against the weaker sex, who had to keep
at home and bar the door. Not only Agnostics, but any who happened
to differ in their views from this champion of Christianity, come in
for a share of Mr. Thorne's invective. The wonder is how an author of
his ability could be capable of penning such an effusion; and that
it can be read and appreciated, as it undoubtedly has been by many
excellent persons of his way of thinking, only shows how easily bias
may cloud the intellect. It requires an effort, too, to understand how
this book can appeal to one of the chief dignitaries of the Church;
but there, conspicuously printed on the cover, we are treated to an
extract from his sermon in praise of the book.

I submit that there is not a Rationalist in the world, however
militant, who would descend to forgery to promote his cause. He would
not hold the pious opinion that the end justifies the means. On the
contrary, the curtain has but now fallen upon a scene where a Christian
Church ranged herself on the side of forgers while freethinkers like
Zola and Clémenceau fought the battle of truth.

According to Mr. Guy Thorne and the admirers of his book, the
Christian races are innately far worse than Jews, Turks, infidels,
and heretics--far worse, indeed, than savages and animals--for they
are only held in check from the commission of the vilest excesses by
their belief in the Resurrection. Chaos and crime are rife in certain
cities in Russia and Poland to-day. What is the cause? Unbelief? Is
it not rather the result of the cruel laws and despicable methods of a
Christian government, aided by Christian butchers, calling themselves
soldiers, and by a Christian hooligan element such as it would be
hard to find outside a Christian city? This chaos occurs, mind you,
under a powerful Christian theocratic government; and the head of
the Holy Synod, Pobiedonostseff, was, before his removal, one of the
prime movers. The terrible atrocities of which the unfortunate Jews
have been the victims were undoubtedly connived at by the authorities,
and inhuman crimes have been perpetrated by Christians that would be
impossible in humane Japan. The policy of keeping the masses steeped
in the grossest superstitions of the orthodox Church is now bearing
fruit, adding to the chaos and bloodshed and hindering the work of
reform. It is belief, not unbelief, that has played a leading part
in creating this chaos, and in stirring up man's cruellest passions.

As to the safety of women (in the event of the Resurrection being
discredited), where in civilised Christendom, may I ask, could a lady
be left for days and nights alone in a tent or open house? She can be,
in the Indian jungle or in the Australian bush. For such protection
as may there be necessary (and the open house testifies how little it
is required) she relies upon her heathen servants. Almost the only
danger in India is from religious fanatics, and in Australia from
Christian criminals. In what Christian country would it be safe to
have paper windows and walls, as in Japan? My wife and I slept in
strange, out-of-the-way native hotels in Japan in perfect security,
though a would-be criminal had only to tear through a thin piece
of paper! Belief in the Resurrection is rapidly decaying in France
to-day. Are cases of assault on women any the more prevalent on that
account? If belief in the Resurrection is so essential, how comes it
that we have allied ourselves to a heathen nation, and made friends
with another that is fast giving up this belief? How comes it that in
our own Government two of the most responsible posts are now occupied
by declared Agnostics?

§ 4. The Spread of Christianity a Proof of its Truth.

"What, then," asks the Rev. Prebendary W. A. Whitworth, [258]
"was the original gospel of power which overran the world with
such astonishing success?" The spread of Christianity is thought by
nearly all good Christians to have been marvellous. Was it? That is
the question we have next to consider. In the first place, let us see
what we are told on this point by recognised theologians. In his book,
The Bible in the Church, we are reminded by the learned Dr. Westcott,
the late Bishop of Durham, that the dispersion of the Jews exercised
a great influence upon the spread of Christianity. "The pagans got
the idea of monotheism, while the Jews themselves dropped the idea
of a 'kingdom' and substituted a 'faith.'" He also reminds us of the
broad unity of the Roman Empire, and of the dispersion of the Jews
being co-extensive with its limits, and concludes that "during the
lifetime of St. Paul every condition was realised for proclaiming
the Gospel to the world." "Without such preparation," he says, "the
spread of Christianity would be historically inconceivable, and it
is a remarkable example of Divine Providence." Here, then, we have
an admission of purely natural causes, and, although the believer
may be able to look upon them with reverence, as Providential, he
can hardly claim them to be at the same time a witness to the power
of the Gospel. Also, we shall see that there were many other natural
causes at work, and that among them were some which the pious would
be the last to connect with a Divine Providence.

Historians find that the rapidity of the spread has been much
exaggerated, and that it was not until the Emperor Constantine
convened the Council of Nicæa in A.D. 325 that the spread commenced
to emerge from insignificance. Even then the adhesion to the
new Faith was for a long period of a purely nominal character,
the unwilling converts remaining, to all intents, pagans after
they were baptised. The spread of Christianity was for a long time
confined to cosmopolitan trading towns only, the villagers remaining
pagans--hence the name. (Mutatis mutandis, it is the villagers who are
now the last to be touched by the spread of "paganism.") What were
the "Providential" methods of conversion? The prevailing ignorance
and superstition were taken advantage of by the propagators of the
Gospel and frauds freely perpetrated, while "edicts of toleration
removed the temporal disadvantages which had hitherto retarded the
progress of Christianity." [259] After the Emperor Constantine had
been converted, "the cities which signalised a forward zeal, by the
voluntary destruction of their temples, were distinguished by municipal
privileges, and rewarded with popular donations." [260] When these
measures failed, Church and State had recourse to persecution, quite
as cruel as, and on a scale that far exceeded, the persecution of the
early Christians by the heathen. For instance, the Emperor Theodosius,
at the suggestion of the ecclesiastics who governed his conscience,
promulgated, in the space of fifteen years (A.D. 380-394), "at least
fifteen severe edicts against the heretics, more especially against
those who rejected the doctrine of the Trinity." [261] Buddhism, on
the contrary, unlike Christianity and Mohammedanism, was promulgated
without persecution or religious wars, and spread far more rapidly
than Christianity. In his apologetic work, Anti-Theistic Theories,
Dr. Flint refers to Buddhism thus: "The very marvellous system of
thought called Buddhism, which originated in India about 500 years
B.C., has spread over a greater area of the earth and gained more
adherents than even Christianity, and by peaceful means--by the power
of persuasion--not by the force of arms, not by persecution."

Why did the Emperor Constantine embrace Christianity? Was it not mainly
because he believed that it had a power to wipe away his own heinous
crimes? [262] Even his old age "was disgraced by the opposite, yet
reconcilable, vices of rapaciousness and prodigality." [263] Although
he acknowledged the Faith, he put off his baptism till he was on his
death-bed, in order that he might continue to lead a wicked life as
long as possible. [264] As an instrument for spreading God's word
he is even worse than that royal adulterer and murderer whom we are
asked to look upon as a prototype of Christ and His prime ancestor.

On all these matters of history the learned Bishop Westcott is
silent, although, as examples of Divine Providence, they would
appear sufficiently remarkable. Lest Gibbon's testimony be deemed
untrustworthy on account of his anti-Christian bias, the following
extract from a prize essay in Christian apologetics may be noted. Not
only does it bear out some of the historian's statements concerning
the causes of the spread of Christianity, but it discloses the
significant fact that the clergy increased their power and influence
by working upon the emotions of wealthy women, and that £.s.d. and its
female contributors were then, as now, a sine qua non. [265]--"Nine
years after the conversion of Constantine to the Christian faith he
promulgated that great edict which, more than any other enactment,
may be said to have lain at the foundation of clerical power during
the ensuing centuries, and relieved the Christian Church from that
restriction under which, in common with the Jews, they had so long
laboured--the incapacity of profiting by the testamentary liberality
of their wealthy proselytes. To convince us of the abundance in which
the stream of wealth flowed into the newly opened channel, and of the
influence obtained by the clergy, in those days as in the present,
over the piety and pliability of the weaker sex, more especially at
Rome, we possess not only the testimony of a Pagan historian, [266]
but the less suspicious evidence of an edict published by the Emperor
Valentinian [267] fifty years after that of Constantine, addressed to
Damasus, Bishop of that city, and imposing a limit to the extravagant
donations of females. The clergy, moreover, might look for an increase
of worldly substance not only from the prosperity of their friends,
but from the downfall of their enemies; for the Theodosian code
contains a series of stringent enactments by the Emperor Honorius,
[268] in terms of which not only the deserted temples of Paganism,
but even the meeting-houses and possessions of Donatists, Manichæan,
and other heretical corporations, were made over to the Catholic
Church." [269]

There was yet another, and possibly the chief, cause for the ultimate
spread of Christianity. In the chapter on comparative mythology I
have described and commented upon the various rationalistic theories
concerning the origins of Christian beliefs and ceremonies. As a matter
of fact, Mithraism spread just as much, or more, until Christianity
obtained the necessary political power to suppress it. Not only
from these anti-Christian theories, but also from the admissions of
apologists concerning them, it appears that Christianity gained ground,
not so much because there was something new either in its dogma or in
its promise, but rather because these were so closely paralleled in
many pagan cults. Let us take, for example, the spread of Christianity
in Egypt. "The Egyptians who embraced Christianity found that the
moral system of the old cult and that of the new religion were so
similar, and the promises of resurrection and immortality in each so
alike, that they transferred their allegiance from Osiris to Jesus
of Nazareth without difficulty. Moreover, Isis and the child Horus
were straightway identified with Mary the Virgin and her Son." [270]
"The knowledge of the ancient Egyptian religion which we now possess
fully justifies the assertion that the rapid growth and progress
of Christianity in Egypt were due mainly to the fact that the new
religion, which was preached there by St. Mark and his immediate
followers, in all its essentials so closely resembled that which was
the outcome of Osiris, Isis, and Horus that popular opposition was
entirely disarmed." [271] We have, then, here one of the main factors
in the growth of Christianity. I cannot find that Bishop Westcott
recognises this as a part of the preparation in which the hand of
God can be traced; but advanced apologists very largely do so now,
and hence the precious theory of progressive revelation.

We may now pass on to another very popular argument.

§ 5. The Noble Army of Martyrs.

My allusions to religious persecutions may remind some of my readers
of the experiences of the early Christians, and of the witness to the
truth of Christianity furnished by the "noble army of martyrs"; and
they may say: "Admitting that there be nothing extraordinary in the
mere fact of Christianity's spread, you must allow that its power over
men's minds is little, if at all, short of miraculous. Men could not
have given their lives for a falsehood." This argument will not bear
the slightest scrutiny. "Steadfastness under persecution says much for
the sincerity, and still more for the tenacity, of the believer, but
very little for the objective truth of that which he believes." [272]
Supposing the noble army were a historical fact, the argument based
upon it would be adequately met by pointing to the last Ghazi who ran
amok in the hope of a speedy delivery from a dirty and ugly spouse on
earth, and of reaping the reward of a clean and lovely houri in heaven.

But the noble army is not altogether a historical fact. The truth is
that martyr-making became an ecclesiastical industry. The historian
Gibbon estimates that at most about two thousand Christians fell in the
Diocletian persecution--which was the only general persecution--and
this estimate is now commonly accepted. "Since," says Gibbon,
"it cannot be doubted that the Christians were more numerous, and
their enemies more exasperated, in the time of Diocletian than they
had ever been in any former persecution, this probable and moderate
computation may teach us to estimate the number of primitive saints
and martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the important purpose
of introducing Christianity into the world." [273] Compare these
figures with the numbers who have suffered death in modern times
for the sake of introducing a non-Christian faith. The Bab Abbas
Effendi suffered martyrdom for his zeal in 1850, and between that
date and now the most conservative opinion on the Babi martyrdoms
puts them at ten thousand. (N.B.--No hopes of wealth and honours,
no imperial edicts, have assisted the really remarkable spread of
Babism.) As a matter of fact, a considerable portion of the history
of man is a history of his martyrdom. "Our own prosperity is founded
on the agonies of the past." [274] If religious ladies could spare
the time (from the absorbing occupation of reading the very latest
works of fiction or the lives of the "grandes amoureuses") to read
Winwood Reade's Martyrdom of Man, a book none the less interesting
because it treats of historical facts, they would begin to realise
that martyrs are not a Christian monopoly.

§ 6. The Universality of the Religious Instinct.


The fact that a large proportion of the human race, including some
of the greatest [275] in thought and action, continue, or appear to
continue, to believe in God and immortality, is considered by many
to furnish the best proof for the truth of the belief. The Church
naturally encourages this opinion, and proceeds to strengthen it
further by asserting that the religious instinct is, and always has
been, universal. This assertion must now be examined, and, to avoid
any misconceptions, it will be advisable in the first place to have
some specimens of it before us.

Canon Liddon informs us that "man is ever feeling after God," and that
"the thought of God is always latent in the mind of man." "Cicero's
statement that there is no nation so barbarous and wild as not to
have believed in some divinity is still, notwithstanding certain
apparent exceptions, true. A nation of pure Atheists has yet to be
discovered." [276] Dr. Flint devotes the seventh of his Lectures on
Anti-Theistic theories to the discussion of the question, "Are there
tribes of Atheists?" and he comes to the conclusion that "an impartial
examination of the relevant facts shows that religion is virtually
universal." [277] The Bishop of London is of opinion that "man is a
praying animal. He always has prayed throughout his history. It is
a human instinct. This instinct of prayer points to the existence
of God." [278] Dr. Warschauer affirms that the spiritual faculty--a
consciousness of "the existence of spiritual realities, of a world
beyond the senses"--"constitutes a universal human endowment." [279]
Bishop Diggle bids us remember that "human nature is ineradicably
religious." [280]


The Rationalist asks: What grounds have we for assuming that the
existence of religious belief points to the existence of a religious
instinct? Is not a man's religion determined by the geographical
accident of his birth? Has not his religion to be diligently instilled
into him from the cradle? How, then, can it be said that man is by
nature religious? How can it be said that the craving for a deity is
instinctive? To this the Christian apologist may reply that, however
much the precise form of the religious belief may be due to education,
no belief of any kind could be engendered without a predisposition
to accept it. Have we not seen, however, that primitive beliefs
were the natural offspring of fear and wonder? Inability to account
for phenomena, ignorance of the laws of nature, and those abnormal
psychical experiences concerning which science has but now commenced to
furnish natural explanations, all combined to turn primitive men into
staunch supernaturalists. For the same reasons, children in years as
well as children in knowledge have always been predisposed to belief
in the supernatural. This predisposition (it can hardly be called an
instinct) may be universal, but it does not lead necessarily to belief
in a deity. For that there must be education. If it be an instinct,
it is not a religious instinct, although a soil eminently suitable
for the sowing of supernatural dogmas.

Admitting, for the sake of argument, that the origin of religious
beliefs and the process by which ancestral beliefs have been
assimilated can be left out of consideration--in other words, that
the ethnologist's theories of the evolution of the idea of God and
the educational factor may be disregarded--the supposition that there
is a universal religious instinct must be relinquished if, as the
Rationalist contends, religious belief itself is not universal. Is
such a contention warranted by acknowledged facts? Into this we shall
now inquire.


At the outset of the inquiry we at once experience a difficulty. It
is not at all clear what the apologist includes under the category
of religious beliefs. If it be taken as an axiom that the grossest
superstition, the mere belief in the supernatural, is the germ of a
religious belief, and therefore that all ignorant or superstitious
persons have the religious instinct, then the proposition will be
true for practically the whole of mankind in the remote past, and
for a very large proportion in the present. Whether it be primeval
man who frequently believed only in magic, usually in devils, and
rarely in divinities, or whether it be the twentieth-century lady
of fashion who wears a white elephant amulet to bring her luck at
"Bridge," both are imbued with the religious instinct. The absurdity
of the supposition is fully apparent if we only carry it far enough.

It is by no means easy to understand where the apologist draws the
line. He may not say so, but his contention really does seem to point
to the absurdity that almost any crude superstition springs from a
divine spark. The neo-apologist, however, will do well to reflect that
the establishment of any connection between superstition and religion
only plays into the hands of the Rationalist, who maintains that there
is certainly the closest connection between the two. I am compelled
to enter into these details, for, among the facts which I am about to
bring forward in contradiction of the assertion of universality, some
relate to instances of pure superstitions which might nevertheless
be construed into signs of the religious instinct. If the apologist
does not go quite so far as this, my task will be rendered much
easier. Perhaps, as Dr. Flint is recognised as one of the most eminent
of the Christian apologists, the conclusions to which he comes will
represent the unspoken opinion of others. He says that, "if savage
tribes have some sort of superstitious belief, it would only be in
accord with modern theories regarding the evolution of the idea of
God.... The presence of false religion is as good evidence of the
existence of religion as the presence of true religion.... Perhaps, if
we may say that religion is man's belief in a being or beings mightier
than himself and inaccessible to his senses, but not indifferent to
his sentiment and actions, with the feelings and practices which
flow from such belief, we have a definition of the kind required,
one excluding nothing which can be called religion, and including
nothing which is only partially present in religion." [281] This
definition would not, one may presume, include mere belief in magic,
but might be taken to include a man's belief in devils. As there are
many who would not agree that devil-worship and the like can have any
connection with god-worship, I shall follow the ethnologist in citing
examples of the absence of god-worship as evidence of the absence
of the religious instinct; but I shall also give examples in which
there is no appearance of worship either of god or devil. These will
chiefly be drawn from present-day beliefs and customs, because now,
if ever, the contention of the religionist should hold good, and also
because it has been incidentally examined with reference to ancient
beliefs in a previous chapter.


Among the concluding remarks of Darwin's Descent of Man we read:
"The belief in God has often been advanced as not only the greatest,
but the most complete, of all the distinctions between man and
the lower animals. It is, however, impossible, as we have seen,
to maintain that this belief is innate or instinctive in man. On
the other hand, a belief in all-pervading spiritual agencies seems
to be universal, and apparently follows from a considerable advance
in the reasoning powers of man, and from a still greater advance in
his faculties of imagination, curiosity, and wonder. I am aware that
the assumed instinctive belief in God has been used by many persons
as an argument for His existence; but this is a rash argument, as we
should thus be compelled to believe in the existence of many cruel
and malignant spirits, possessing only a little more power than man;
for the belief in them is far more general than the belief in a
beneficent Deity." [282]

Again, in Huxley's essay on "The Evolution of Theology" we read: "In
its simplest condition, such as may be met with among the Australian
savages, theology is a mere belief in the existence, powers, and
disposition (usually malignant) of ghost-like entities who may be
propitiated or scared away; but no cult can properly be said to
exist. And in this stage theology is wholly independent of ethics."

Sir John Lubbock, now Lord Avebury, states the argument against the
universality of religion in his Prehistoric Times. He asks: "How can
a people who are unable to count their own fingers possibly raise
their minds so far as to admit even the rudiments of religion?" And
he sums up his observations on various tribes by saying: "Indeed,
the first idea of God is almost always an evil spirit." [283]

"The idea that the northern tribes [of America] venerated one
supreme and all-powerful 'great spirit,' by whom man and the world
were created, is based on erroneous interpretation; Wakanda of the
Dakotas, and Manito of the Algonquins, in no wise coming under such
a designation." [284] "These terms," writes Mr. W. J. McGee, "cannot
justly be rendered into Spirit, much less into Great Spirit." [285]
"Their religion," writes another well-known ethnologist, Mr. G. Mooney,
"is zootheism, or animal-worship, with the survival of a still earlier
stage, which included the worship of all tangible objects, combined
with the beginnings of a higher system in which the elements and the
great powers of nature are deified." [286] Zootheism, the religion
that has survived, does not embrace a belief in a Mightier Being, nor
does this deterioration in "religion" suit the theory of a progressive
revelation. We may also note that the belief of the North American in
witchcraft has led to terrible slaughter, human life being sacrificed
on an enormous and frightful scale.

Andrew Lang (in the third chapter of his book, Magic and Religion)
instances Australian tribes, and says: "Nobody dreams of propitiating
gods or spirits by prayer [compare Bishop Ingram's statement that man
is a praying animal!] while magic is universally practised." There
is, as Mr. Lang observes, "no room for a God, nor for an idea of
a future life, except the life of successive re-incarnations." "I
do not think," writes [287] Professor Baldwin Spencer, "that there
is really any direct evidence of any Australian native belief in a
'Supreme Being' in our sense of the term."

Similarly among the Fuegians (another of the lowest races of mankind)
"almost every old man is a magician, who is supposed to have the power
of life and death, and to be able to control the weather. But the
members of the French scientific expedition to Cape Horn could detect
nothing worthy of the name of religion among these savages." [288]
Here, then, even if we adopt Dr. Flint's broad definition, we surely
have examples of the absence of the religious instinct. There is a
fundamental distinction, and even opposition of principle, between
magic and religion, as we shall see by a study of the opinions of
those best qualified to offer them.


"Wherever sympathetic magic occurs," says Dr. Frazer, "in its pure
unadulterated form, it assumes that in nature one event follows
another necessarily and invariably without the intervention of any
spiritual or personal agency" [289] (the italics are mine). "The
magician supplicates no higher power; he sues the favour of no fickle
and wayward being; he abases himself before no awful deity." [290]
"I have," says Dr. Frazer, [291] "come to agree with Sir A. C. Lyall
and Mr. F. B. Jevons in recognising a fundamental distinction, and even
opposition, of principle between magic and religion." This opinion
must be shared by every unbiassed mind, and it is curious, and not
without importance, to observe, with Dr. Frazer, that the "fundamental
conception" of sympathetic magic "is identical with that of modern
science." [292] "Underlying the whole system is a faith--implicit,
but real and firm--in the order and uniformity of nature." [293]

The belief in the efficacy of magic, it should be remembered,
is exceedingly widespread, even at the present time. According
to Mr. Haddon [294] (citing Dr. Jevons), "four-fifths of mankind,
probably, believe in sympathetic magic." Dr. Frazer, too, reminds us
that among the ignorant and superstitious classes of modern Europe it
is very much what it was thousands of years ago in Egypt and India,
and what it now is among the lowest savages surviving in the remotest
corners of the world. "If the test of truth," exclaims Dr. Frazer,
"lay in a show of hands or a counting of heads, the system of magic
might appeal, with far more reason than the Catholic Church, to the
proud motto, 'Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus,' as the sure
and certain credential of its own infallibility." [295]

Not only is there an opposition of principle between magic and
religion, not only is belief in the former a universal faith, a truly
catholic creed, but it is now generally recognised by ethnologists
that "in the evolution of thought, magic, as representing a lower
intellectual stratum, has [as 'has been plainly suggested, if not
definitely formulated, by Professor H. Oldenberg in his able book,
Die Religion des Veda'] probably everywhere preceded religion." [296]

The popular notion that the religious instinct is universal is perhaps
natural enough, but it is not borne out by these significant facts
and conclusions. Indeed, it would be far more correct to say that
an instinct, the very antithesis of what the Church would mean by
the religious instinct, was at one time, and even now is, well-nigh


So far we have seen that the opponents of the "Universal" theory
presume in their argument that devil-worship has no relation to
true god-worship, and we may note that it never even entered the
heads of such men as Darwin and Lubbock that it would ever be held
that these are essentially identical. Nor is this peculiar opinion
held by clerics who have studied devil-worship on the spot. Thus the
Rev. Arthur H. Smith, D.D., twenty-two years a missionary in China,
describes [297] the fear of goblins and devils which figures so largely
in Taoism; but, far from suggesting the presence of the religious
instinct, he laments its total absence. Among his many pertinent
observations I commend the following to the serious consideration
of those who believe in a universal religious instinct and in a
progressive revelation: "If the Chinese ever did recognise the true
God, that knowledge has certainly been most effectually lost, like
an inscription on an ancient coin now covered with the accumulated
rust of millenniums. [298]... Sir Thomas Wade, whose long familiarity
with China and the Chinese might be supposed to entitle him to speak
with authority on so plain a question as whether the Chinese have or
have not a religion, has recently published his opinion as follows:
'If religion is held to mean more than mere ethics, I deny that the
Chinese have a religion.'" [299]

Speaking of Chinese nature-worship, Dr. Smith says: "No prayer is
uttered.... What is it that at such times the people worship? Sometimes
they affirm that the object of worship is heaven and earth. Sometimes
they say that it is heaven, and again they call it 'the old man of the
sky.' The latter term often leads to an impression that the Chinese do
have a real perception of a personal Deity. But when it is ascertained
that this supposed person is frequently matched by another called
'grandmother earth,' the value of the inference is open to serious
question." [300]

As to there being no such thing as an atheistic people, are we to take
no account of the cultured classes? Mark the following: "The polytheism
and pantheism of the lower classes of Chinese are matched in the upper
classes by what appears to be pure atheism.... There never was on this
earth a body of educated and cultured men so thoroughly agnostic and
atheistic as the mass of Confucian scholars. [301]... Its absolute
indifference to the profoundest spiritual truths in the nature of man
is the most melancholy characteristic of the Chinese mind--its ready
acceptance of a body without a soul, of a soul without a spirit,
of a spirit without life, of a cosmos without a cause, a universe
without a God." [302]

Alluding to the mixture of Confucianism with Taoism and Buddhism,
he remarks: "Any kind of a divinity which seems adapted to exert a
favourable influence in any given direction will be patronised, just
as a man who happens to need a new umbrella goes to some shop where
they keep such goods for sale. To inquire into the antecedents of
the divinity who is thus worshipped no more occurs to a Chinese than
it would occur to an Englishman who wanted the umbrella to satisfy
himself as to the origin of umbrellas, and when they first came into
general use.... The Chinaman has carried 'intellectual hospitality'
to the point of logical suicide, but he does not know it, and cannot
be made to understand it when he is told." [303]

Three questions suggest themselves. If the pious lady who contributes
towards mission work in China only knew of this, would she be
pleased? [304] Are there not many English people strangely like the
Chinese in an umbrella-patronage of Christianity? Finally, does not
the modern apologist (with his theory of Progressive Revelation and
his idea that Christianity has yet much to learn from, and will be
improved by contact with, the faiths of the East) carry "intellectual
hospitality" to the point of logical suicide?

The advice of Confucius was to reverence the gods as if they existed,
[305] but in any case to keep them at a distance, and have as little to
do with them as possible; and his advice has been followed. Dr. Smith
tells us that the popular instinct has taken at its true value the
uncertainty conveyed in the words "as if," and has embodied them in
current sayings which accurately express the state of mind of the
mass of the people. Thus:--

        Call on the gods as if they came;
        But, if you don't, it's all the same.

And again:--

        Worship the gods as if the gods were there;
        But, if you worship not, the gods don't care. [306]

The absence of the instinct of reverence may be judged by the following
episode related by Dr. Smith: "A District Magistrate tried a case
which involved a priest, and, by implication, the Buddha which was
the occupant of the temple. This god was summoned to appear before
the magistrate and told to kneel, which he failed to do, whereupon the
magistrate ordered him to be given five hundred blows, by which time
the god was reduced to a heap of dust, and judgment was pronounced
against him by default." [307] (Of their manner of treating devils
I had, not long ago, a personal experience. Standing on the quay at
Shanghai, I was deafened by the bang, bang, bang of ear-splitting
bombs exploded by a crowd of Chinamen. However crude their method,
their intentions were excellent. They wished to scare away the devils
who might have elected to accompany their friends on the voyage
to England.)

Finally, as a commentary on the oft-repeated assertion that the great
difference between the sacred books of the East and of the Bible is
the low plane of morality in the former, the following words quoted by
Dr. Smith are of considerable interest: "No people," says Mr. Meadows,
"whether of ancient or modern times, has possessed a sacred literature
so completely exempt as the Chinese from licentious descriptions,
and from every offensive expression. There is not a single sentence
in the whole of the Sacred Books and their annotations that may not
be read aloud in any family circle in England." [308] Can this be
said of our Bible?


If I have given the religious attitude of the modern Chinese the
largest share of attention, it must be remembered that they far
outnumber any other nation in the world. Also I think the fallacies
regarding the religious instinct will perhaps stand out more clearly
if we consider the present twentieth century, instead of millenniums
B.C. I have said nothing as yet of the apostates in Christendom--the
Darwins, the Huxleys, and the Spencers--who declare that they are
without the religious instinct. We must consider them ruled out of
court, for are we not told [309] that "there are men with faculties
of insight amounting to genius in other regions of mental activity
who have never developed the spiritual faculty, and are thus debarred
the privileges of spiritual geniuses--geniuses in the region in which
man holds communion with God"?

Lately much capital has been made out of the following statement
appearing in Darwin's Autobiography: "Up to the age of thirty or
beyond it, poetry such as Milton, Byron, Wordsworth, etc., gave
me great delight. But now for many years I cannot endure to read
a line of poetry. I have lost my taste for pictures and music. My
mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general
laws out of large collections of facts." This loss of certain tastes
indicated--so the pulpit would have the pew suppose--that that portion
of Darwin's mind which was competent to understand spiritual things
had atrophied. Does God reveal Himself, then, only or especially to the
æsthetic? The artist--and here I include the poet, painter, sculptor,
musician, artistic novelist, and also the man who has created nothing,
but who has the artistic temperament--will, if he has a religion,
have one of a sort harmonising with his artist soul. It must be a
religion which allows scope for the cultivation of the beautiful,
without being necessarily too closely associated with a rigid code
of ethics. Is the æsthetic mind always perfectly balanced? How does
it compare on an average with that of the moral philosopher guiding
his life by the light of reason and living up to the standard of
his professions? Darwin has assisted in establishing a great truth
concerning the development of the world. He has been, according to the
Christian evolutionist, the chosen instrument for a fresh revelation of
God's majesty. Yet, in spiritual endowments, every pious Christian,
however ignorant and unintellectual, ranks before him! Strange,
passing strange. The very qualifications necessary for accomplishing
God's purpose debarred Darwin from fellowship with Him! For such an
argument to be worth a moment's consideration it should at least
apply generally. This it most distinctly does not. Preachers, who
find Darwin's candid remark about himself a convenient one upon which
to base a homily, have neglected to acquaint themselves with the
statements of other agnostic scientists--of Huxley, for instance. "I
have yet," he declared, "to meet with any form of art in which it has
not been possible for me to take as acute a pleasure as, I believe,
it is possible for men to take." [310]


At the risk of increasing the citation of examples ad nauseam, I cannot
omit a passing reference to the Japanese. I shall reserve for the last
chapter my remarks on the "phenomenon" of their non-theological moral
training, and confine myself to the present condition of their faith as
given by a clergyman, the Rev. Herbert Moore, who was for some years
a missionary in Japan. Mr. Moore tells us: "We are all Shintoists
to a certain extent, for Shinto is the non-Christian version of the
Communion of Saints. And we recognise the truth that Buddhism contains
when we read Ecclesiastes in church.... But these old faiths are fast
perishing from the hearts of the Japanese, leaving behind them blank
godlessness, indifference, and materialism.... Out of 942 students in
Tokyo who recently gave an account of their religious position, 555
declared themselves unbelievers in any religion, 68 were Christians,
18 Shintoists, and most of the remaining 319 Buddhists." [311]

Mr. Moore, in chapter xiv. of his book, quotes a summary of the
situation by the Japan Times, which all who are interested in the
question whether Japan is likely to adopt Christianity would do well
to read. As bearing on the particular point we are now discussing,
the following may be noted: "We cannot believe that it [Christianity]
will ever succeed in getting a firm hold upon the minds of the educated
classes. Men of these classes have for centuries lived and died under
a system of morality which inculcates virtue for virtue's sake, and
entirely dispenses with supernatural sanctions of any sort.... We
cannot agree with those who, like Mr. Toyama and Mr. Fukuzawa,
recommend it to their countrymen, while they themselves refuse to
believe in it, except as a collection of useful superstitions." [312]
How many Toyamas and Fukuzawas are there not in modern Christendom?


It matters not where you direct your searchlight, you cannot fail to
discover instance upon instance confuting the pious assertion of a
universal religious instinct. Take the case of the great Roman poet
and philosopher, Lucretius, whose unique poem, De Rerum Natura, has
acquired a new interest in the present day. He set before himself
the task of finally crushing that fear of the gods, and that fear
of death resulting from it, which he regarded as the source of all
human ills. He denied the two bases of all religion (as we understand
it)--the doctrines of a supernatural Governor of the world, and of
a future life.

I will not continue to multiply examples. It is surely clear that
the religious instinct is not universal.


What is the Rationalistic explanation of that essence of the
"religious instinct," belief in an after life? It may, I think, be
summed up briefly in some such words as these: "The conception of
non-existence is an effort beyond the power of human intellect. As
long as man thinks, his ego is fully conscious of its existence,
and not able to grasp the idea of non-existence. Thus religion is a
functional weakness." [313] The instinct of self-preservation does
the rest; it transforms the speculation into an ardent desire. "The
theory of a continued existence after death is nothing more than a
certain manifestation of the impulse for self-preservation, as the
instinct for self-preservation itself is nothing more than the form
under which our vital energies, that have their seat in every cell of
our organism, manifest themselves to our consciousness." [314] Is not
this a perfectly natural explanation of the craving for immortality?

This craving, as we have seen, is not universal; while, in Buddhism, it
is assumed that man ought to strive for extinction. Even among Western
nations the craving is not so common as it is generally supposed to be,
and as the Church confidently takes for granted. In support of this
conclusion, I should mention that my readers will find a startling
confirmation in an article on "Human Sentiment with regard to a Future
Life," which appears in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical
Research for October, 1904. The article is written by a well-known
psychologist, Mr. F. C. S. Schiller, Fellow and tutor of Corpus Christi
College, Oxford, and author of various well-known works on the mind
(Riddles of the Sphinx, 1891; Humanism, 1903, etc.). He reviews the
results of a laborious inquiry by the American branch of the S. P. R.,
and comes to the conclusion that "the returns show a hitherto hardly
suspected weakness of the desire for knowledge of a future life,"
[315] and that, "amid all the various phenomena of human psychology,
distress due to uncertainty about one's fate after death seems to
be one of the rarest." [316] Mr. Schiller, the apostle of Professor
W. James in this country, shows that he himself possesses the craving
for an after life in no ordinary degree, and this adds all the more
force to his statement that the instinct is in nowise universal. I,
too, once had a craving so intense that hell itself seemed less awful
than total annihilation. To those who have built up high hopes their
destruction must come as a terrible shock--a shock eventually relieved
by a feeling of resignation to the inevitable.

What we, as anxious parents, have to ask ourselves is: Do we not
agree with St. Paul when he says, "If Christ be not risen, then is
our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain"; and are we not
aware that, with the advance of knowledge, the present widespread
disbelief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ will become more and
more general? Even now how many disbelieve or preserve an agnosticism
regarding the chief dogmas of the Christian creed? How many are
sceptical concerning the continuance of consciousness after death? Does
either science or common sense support a belief in the survival of
personality? Are we right, then, in permitting our children's minds
to be imbued with a "sure and certain hope of the resurrection to
eternal life"? Is it a kind act to expose our children to the pain
of a rude awakening by instilling hopes that are destined to be
ultimately shattered? Is it a wise act to allow their morality to be
based upon foundations that are doomed to destruction? It is not as
if we were forced into telling fairy stories because we shrink from
negative teaching. It is not as if there were no natural incentives
to right conduct, no positive teaching possible, without an admixture
of theological speculations. Non-theological moral instruction is
not only possible, but is urgently wanted and will be extremely
beneficial. This will appear more fully in the following chapter.

Chapter VIII.


§ 1. A Summary.

The hostile evidence appears to be overwhelming. Christianity cannot
be true. Provided that we see things as they really are, and not as
we wish them to be, we cannot but come to this conclusion. Let me
recall to the reader's mind the more salient points.

Chapter I.: The Situation.--All over Christendom a great conflict has
commenced between naturalists and supernaturalists. The real attitude
of the laity, and especially of the cultured portion of it, is far more
sceptical than the clergy imagine, or, at any rate, are prepared to
admit. They do not realise that agnostics and semi-believers have, not
deliberately perhaps, but none the less really, joined in a conspiracy
of silence, either on account of their conviction of the need for
Christianity as a restraint during the prevalence of ignorance, or
on account of their regard for public and private opinion and vested
interests, or last but not least, on account of sheer indifference. To
put it frankly, the Churches have for their chief ally nowadays the
trinity of ignorance, insincerity, and indifference. Not only is this
alliance one which they ought to be the first to repudiate, but it
cannot be depended upon in the near future. Though a mind be built,
as it were, in water-tight compartments, a flood of truth that is
strong enough will burst them open.

Christianity and science are not reconciled. The character of the
present wave of scepticism differs from that of all others in the
history of Christianity or of mankind, in that it has the support
of modern knowledge. It has all the appearance of a wave that will
increase in strength, and finally destroy all the present faiths of
the world. Plenty of "cheap" agnosticism, of a priori "infidelity," is
still to be met with, and of this, as Professor Huxley once remarked,
a man of the calibre of Butler, of the "Analogy," can easily make
short work; but the scepticism of the modern scientist is of another
kind. It arises from a mastery of the laws of Nature. The Christian
apologies to meet this scepticism are unsatisfactory to the last
degree. Often they are based on premises the truth of which is open to
the gravest doubt, or they betray ignorance of established facts. They
are also conflicting, so that the arguments of the advanced and the
arguments of the conservative are mutually destructive, the latter
frequently bearing out the contentions of the rationalist regarding
the former. For these reasons they are totally unconvincing. Meanwhile
the main issue of the conflict is confused and delayed by various
side issues, which have nothing really to do with the question of
Christianity's truth. There is further delay through the currency of
a number of popular fallacies.

Chapter II.: Miracles.--Belief in miracles is necessary if Christianity
be true. The various attempts to explain miracles are evasions,
not solutions of a difficulty, and are as specious as they are
conflicting. Few thinkers could bring themselves to agree with Canon
Mason that miracles are no longer needed because "the Holy Spirit,
with His eternal freshness of life, does not cramp Himself by obsolete
and antiquated methods of action." [317] The fundamental miracles
are not historical facts. The evidence for all miracles is totally
inadequate. No miracle has ever occurred.

Chapter III.: Modern Bible Criticism.--All non-Christian and
some Christian theologians accept the conclusions of the Higher
Criticism in their entirety, while many learned divines accept much
that is destructive of beliefs that have been held for nearly two
millenniums. The critics show that the Bible is not historically true,
and explain that "we must turn from external details to the great
spiritual truths which underlie them." As observed by the Dean of
Canterbury, [318] "they only say that they are not historical; what
they mean is that they are not true." The strictly orthodox and the
rationalist are at one in agreeing that historic truth is essential
to Christianity; that Christianity claims to be built not on ideas,
but on facts; and that the far-fetched explanations of the advanced
school cannot be accepted. The rationalist, however, finds himself
forced to admit the validity of the destructive criticisms, and also
finds further grounds for unbelief in the silence of historians,
in the manner in which the alleged revelation was transmitted, and
in those sober facts which so completely impugn the divinity of Jesus.

Chapter IV.: Comparative Mythology.--The similarity of beliefs,
customs, and teachings in ancient religions with those in the
Christian religion are as numerous as they are remarkable. These
parallels deprive Christianity of any claim to originality, and
furnish an explanation of its origin which completely destroys our
belief in its truth. The theory of a progressive revelation is the
outcome of dire necessity, for the survival of Christianity depends
upon its acceptance. This theory is for many and cogent reasons
quite untenable. It is not, and cannot be, accepted by the strictly
orthodox. The latter endeavour, therefore, to disprove the closeness
of the parallels, or, failing this, to prove that they are Christian
accretions. Enlightened divines, on the other hand, acknowledge the
parallels, and rely upon the theory of progressive revelation to
explain them.

Chapter V.: Evolution.--For the benefit of those who may be
ill-informed on the subject, the theory of evolution is explained,
and convincing proofs of our animal origin are submitted. The theory
is generally accepted by the cultured, though much ignorance and
prejudice concerning it still prevail. The evolutionary processes are
completely at variance with the Bible and with our ideas of God. The
Churches as a body do not accept evolution willingly, and are chary
in acknowledging its truth in their public utterances. Many of their
most distinguished members are, however, evolutionists, and these
profess that evolution is helpful to belief. Their arguments are
singularly unconvincing. The doctrine of the Fall is untenable.

Chapter VI.: Theistic Proofs.--Many, honestly deeming themselves to be
Christians, are in reality either deists or non-Christian theists. The
recognised arguments for Theism are the evidences of a First Cause,
of design and directivity, and of benevolence. Not one of these is
accepted by more than a very small minority of scientific men. The
evidence of design and directivity is more apparent than real, while,
with regard to benevolence, it would be easier to demonstrate the very
reverse. The evidence from religious experience is another argument,
which has recently been submitted to the cultured, as a final proof
of the existence of the spiritual world. This argument is shown not
only to be full of absurdities, but indirectly to furnish natural
explanations for much that has hitherto puzzled mankind, and led to
belief in the supernatural.

Chapter VII.: Popular Arguments.--Finally, there are certain popular
arguments which help to confirm the believer, and to determine the
friendly attitude of the average unbeliever. Broadly speaking, they
are all comprised under two main assertions--Christianity's power
for good, and the universality of the religious instinct. So long as
we confine ourselves to a shallow and biassed examination, the flaws
in these assumptions will pass unnoticed; but when we submit them to
a closer examination, with open minds, we find that they cannot be
substantiated by the facts of either ancient or modern history.

I may be permitted to add that I attach the greatest importance to
the object-lesson now presented to us by Russia and Japan. Not only
have we here an excellent illustration of the fallacies concerning the
power of Christianity and the connection between conduct and belief,
but this illustration has been given to the whole world. Among the
millions who have watched events, thousands upon thousands must have
some inkling of the place that religion holds in the minds of these
two peoples, and, therefore, must have found much that will cause
them to modify their opinions concerning these popular arguments. I
cannot imagine any other conjunction of circumstances which could
have resulted in such a broadcast sowing of the seeds of scepticism.

The Main Conclusion.--It is customary in Christian apologetics
to palliate the inadequacy of any one particular argument or set
of arguments for belief by reminding us that we must take into
consideration the combined weight of all the other (equally inadequate)
arguments. The apologist of unbelief has no need to ask this of
his readers. On the contrary, he is able to point out a number of
arguments, each of which is, of itself, fully sufficient to warrant
their joining the ranks of the unbelievers. For instance, he can point
to any one of the following as fairly conclusive evidence:--The dismal
failure [319] of Christianity after nearly two thousand years' trial;
the apparent impossibility of and complete want of evidence for the
miracles on which Christianity is founded; the destructive criticism
of the Bible, which cannot be gainsaid; the intensely grave suspicions
thrown upon the originality of Christianity by the revelations of
comparative mythology; the various dilemmas arising from the accepted
doctrine of evolution; the inadequacy and conflicting character of the
so-called Theistic proofs (proofs of a personal Deity); and, finally,
the fallacies in arguments hitherto so popular and faith-producing. We
cannot get away from facts. Modern knowledge forces us to admit that
the Christian Faith cannot be true.

Having arrived at this main conclusion, the unbeliever is at once
confronted with many burning questions. I shall endeavour to outline
the answers to those that seem the more pressing; but the subject
is a large one, and cannot be adequately treated in a few short
paragraphs. The main difficulty is, of course, the morality problem,
and, if that admits of a favourable solution, we shall be in a better
position to consider the next question: Should the unbeliever keep
his unbelief to himself, or should he speak out?

§ 2. Why Lead a Moral Life?


Let me say at once that if, after the elimination of all untruths
from Christianity, we could build a belief in God and immortality on
the residue, we should then have a far more powerful incentive to
right conduct than anything that I am about to urge. I fully admit
that to tell the ordinary mortal brought up in the Christian faith
to do right for right's sake will often be futile, inspiring though
the sentiment may be for some few of us. I admit also the fact that
morality always tends to the well-being of the individual and the
race. It is the one and only sound argument for the working of any
ethical purpose in nature, and, if we can feel that in leading the
moral life we are helping to carry out some high purpose in which we
are personally concerned, such a belief will certainly be of great
ethical value. In the following argument, however, I hope to show that,
even without a religious incentive, we have all-sufficient reasons
for leading the moral life. At present our morality is bound up with
a belief which is false, and which people are beginning to feel and
know to be false. Therefore it is more than ever necessary that we
should learn more of those reasons for morality which do not depend
upon this or that belief.


The man who does not realise that any such cogent reasons exist
will argue: "I quite understand that the welfare of society depends
upon the moral conduct of its members; but why should I care for
the good of society? There are many immoral things which I can do
without being found out--without any harm coming to me, directly or
indirectly. Neither do I believe in the familiar adage, 'Follow nature,
and you cannot go wrong.' Civilisation is continually wrestling with
nature; we go against nature a thousand times a day. Why should I not
follow nature just so far as I can get out of my nerves a maximum
of pleasure at the expense of a minimum of pain? Tell me, then,
you who do not believe in hell or heaven, you who think we can live
under a system of morality which entirely dispenses with supernatural
sanctions, why should I lead a moral life?"

To this question I would reply by another: "Have you no self-respect,
the commonest and most universal incentive to right conduct, and one
which necessarily includes respect for others? Even if your body had
health, would your mind have peace without morality?" The essence of
happiness is a contented mind. Bodily ailments and other misfortunes,
not of your own making, may often mar your efforts to obtain this
desirable frame of mind; but the nearest approach to it that is
possible will be gained by leading the moral life. Righteousness
contributes usually to success and invariably to happiness, because
it is in harmony with the needs and laws of health and social
life. Note, please, that I say "contributes." We are not speaking now
of circumstances beyond man's control--the calamities and catastrophes,
daily and hourly occurring, in accordance with nature's inexorable
laws, which would not be affected either way by man's conduct. Also,
as there are conditions under which the body may not be affected
by immorality discreetly pursued, it will be better to confine our
attention to that which is always affected--the mind. This will be
recognised more clearly when we grasp the fact that the true origin of
the guide to conduct lies in the instincts inherited from our animal
ancestors. [320]

Man is a social animal, and in his relations with his fellow-men his
moral instinct is largely a development of the social instinct. To
secure the happiness of the individual as well as of the community,
this instinct demands satisfaction. There is nothing which depresses
the mind of man or beast more than a thwarted instinct. Life, as
Aristotle has well said, is energy which each individual exercises
on those subjects in which he most delights. Man's proper and natural
pleasures must consist in the operations by which his work is done and
his task accomplished. But various circumstances will often prevent
a man or woman from exercising his or her special aptitudes. Thus a
natural instinct is disappointed, and complete happiness is out of the
question. In the case of the social instinct, its satisfaction, so far
as possible, is a supreme necessity, if there is to be any approach to
contentment of mind. To attain it there is only one course open--the
moral life. Should the individual choose the immoral life, and should
he even succeed in following it without suffering social ostracism,
he will certainly injure not only the happiness of the community,
but also his own chances of such real and permanent happiness as this
world might otherwise have afforded him.


But, it may be objected, the average man will not be deterred from
wrong-doing by the fear of vague consequences; he is only concerned to
snatch the immediate pleasure (or what seems to him to be a pleasure),
to satisfy a momentary lust, to secure the gratification of his senses
on the "bird-in-the-hand" principle. That is all very true, of course,
and incidentally it accounts for the failure of Christianity or any
other belief that relies for its ethical effect on a system of vague
threats and promises. But once get rid of the nebulosity, and all is
changed--so long, that is, as the brain is healthy, and the supremacy
of reason acknowledged. Emotions of hate, cupidity, sensuality, and
the like, are always liable, as are all other emotions, to cloud the
reason--to derange the brain temporarily; how much more so when there
is no clear perception of disagreeable consequences? No man in his
senses will act with entire disregard of consequences; it is only
when they are not sufficiently clear that they are disregarded. It
is absurd to suppose that the ordinary man is such an unthinking
animal that he never studies ultimate consequences. The most selfish
men and women--and the religious world is not without its fair share
of them--think of the morrow. No one more so. It is the exceptional
individual of the happy-go-lucky sort, with no enemy but himself,
on whom it is difficult to impress the need of thinking ahead.


My contention, then, is that a feeling of certainty regarding
ultimate consequences is, above all others, the most powerful factor
in influencing conduct. This certainty will be attained through, and
only through, the medium of education. Knowing this, it is the duty of
parents and teachers to be continually implanting in the minds of the
young the objects of right-doing and the consequences of wrong-doing,
wholly apart from questions of belief, not only because such teaching
enshrines a great truth, but because this truth is liable to be
lost sight of in the mists of theological dogmas and metaphysical
theories. Children, it is true, adopt moral principles out of regard
for social and parental authority, and not as the result of reasoned
conviction, so that at first the scientific reasons for right conduct
will doubtless be to some extent unappreciated. But, meanwhile, a habit
of mind will be forming, and, as the new teaching will appeal to the
common sense of the growing mind, and not to its credulity, a reasoned
conviction will shortly follow. Conduct developed in this manner,
free from theological speculations, is based on a firm foundation,
which no later experiences in life will be able to upset. It is not
nebulous. It is not susceptible of change through an alteration in
religious views. It is true. The future generation, so brought up,
will regard the consequences of immorality with complete certitude,
and will do so without having to extricate themselves, as the present
generation must, from objectionable habits of thought and conduct
engendered by erroneous teaching.


This is no abstract theory. We have a concrete and magnificent
example before us in a nation whose character is formed entirely by
non-theological instruction. I refer, of course, to the Japanese. There
are no people more refined, courteous, gentle, amiable, and innately
æsthetic than these Latins of the Orient; no people more brave,
hardy, and self-controlled; none more cleanly and healthy in body and
happy in mind. The Japanese army, by its perfection of transport,
commissariat, and equipment, its surgical and sanitary work, its
discipline and dash, its passionate patriotism and its humanity to
the conquered, surpasses the armies of the Christian nations who
send their missionaries to Japan. With regard to sexual morality,
"it must be remembered," as Professor Inazo Nitobe remarks, "that,
whatever charges may be made against the Japanese people, the same
charge can be, and is, actually made against every country, England
not excluded, by travellers, since it is usually the worst, the
lax, side of life to which a foreigner is first introduced." [321]
Personally, I should say that the charge could be met by pointing
to the acknowledged virtues and physical condition of the Japanese,
and asking, "Can these be the result of vicious habits?"

There are certain significant circumstances in connection with the
present moral condition in Japan which we must not omit to take into
consideration. "Untruthfulness, dishonesty, and brutal crime," says
Lafcadio Hearn, speaking of Old Japan, "were rarer then than now,
as official statistics show; the percentage of crime having been for
some years steadily on the increase--which proves, among other things,
that the struggle for existence has been intensified. The virtue
of Japanese wives was generally in all ages above suspicion." [322]
"If there has been a serious relapse among us," says another writer,
"it has been the result of the shock occasioned by our contact with the
new civilisation, and fortunately not the consequence of the abandoning
of a belief in future punishment by an offended God." [323] (What food
for thought--falling off in morality attributed to over-population and
contact with a Christian civilisation!) How do the Japanese hope to
solve this new problem? By Christianity? Not at all. "Men are beginning
to see," continues the same writer, "that in the domain of morality the
excellent precepts and propositions by which their fathers were guided
under the old régime, but which have since fallen into disrepute,
are fundamentally correct, and that, with slight adaptations in the
light of the new civilisation, the old code of morality will serve
their purpose under the altered circumstances of the new era."

Only the charge of lack of commercial morality has any foundation
in fact, and, with regard to this, here is the true explanation,
given, not by a Japanese apologist, but by a Christian missionary:
"The Japanese are often charged, and with good reason, with a lack
of commercial morality. In days when the military virtues reigned
supreme, the handling of trade was deemed an employment which no
gentleman would take up; hence the commerce of the country is largely
in the hands of men who do not represent her best traditions. Again,
certain restrictions of mercy were always granted in the undertaking
of a contract, whereas foreigners naturally regard a contract as
binding unconditionally. But, in both respects, methods of trade are
improving, and in the excellent commercial schools it is taught that
'Honesty is the best policy.' Among members of the humblest ranks
of life the most striking instances of honesty will be met with; a
jinrikisha man will run after you with the parcel you have forgotten,
a shopkeeper will walk to your house to bring you a few cents he
accidentally overcharged you." [324]

As to their purely secular education and the severance of belief from
conduct, Baron Suyematsu remarks that, "to the outsiders who have
not grown up in an atmosphere of this kind, it may appear somewhat
difficult to comprehend how boys and girls could be thoroughly
imbued with moral sentiments without connecting them in some way
with religion; but when these are taught with thoroughness, basing
their systematic exposition on the duties of human beings towards one
another and to the State, and on the noble tradition of their [the
children's] own community and the characteristic virtues of their
forefathers in which they ought to rejoice, and when appeals are
made to the honour and pride which one should feel and value, and,
above all, to the conscience of individuals, one's thoughts appear
to become imbued with the lessons conveyed, and moral notions thus
taught seem to become, per se, a kind of undefined, but nevertheless
potent and serviceable, religion." [325] Again, Baron Suyematsu tells
us elsewhere that "the educated classes consider that he who does what
is good for good's sake, and not for a fear of anything exterior, is
the most courageous man, and to be courageous is the most important
feature of Bushido. The probability is that, were a Japanese gentleman
a devout adherent of any particular form of religion, he would rather
conceal it than make a display of it." [326]

The words of other than Japanese writers may not be without some
interest. A Christian friend of mine, once an English professor
in a Japanese college, wrote to me lately: "I must admit that the
Japanese do seem to have attained without Christianity a higher
status than most Christian nations. Indeed, they appear to attain
personal and national excellence without religion at all." Again,
another Englishman, who has spent a lifetime and occupies a high
position in Japan, remarks (in the course of a letter replying to my
queries): "There is not the remotest chance of Christianity becoming
the religion of the State. For the last two centuries and a half the
educated class have adopted the Agnostic ethical system of Confucius,
which, once understood and embraced, can never be dislodged by the
Christian or any other variety of theologian."

Yet Dr. Boyd Carpenter, Bishop of Ripon, closes his book, The
Witness of the Influence of Christ, with the familiar assertion of
the inseparability of religion and ethics. It is an assertion which,
now more than ever, the Churches are reiterating. Why? Is it not
because they find that many are beginning to doubt its truth? I fear
reiteration will not make it any truer. Only facts will appeal to
the man who looks below the surface, and these all tend the other way.

In the Hibbert Journal for October, 1905, there is an article
contributed by the editor which deserves the earnest attention of all
thoughtful men. It is entitled "Moral Supremacy of Christendom." The
following quotations from it will suffice to show the far-reaching
importance of the questions it raises: "Christendom, as a whole, long
accustomed to treat all pagan races as morally inferior to herself,
now stands confronted by a non-Christian civilisation, of vast power
and splendid promise, whose claim to moral equality, at least, cannot
be disregarded, except by those who are morally blind.... The hold of
Christianity upon the peoples of the Western world is rooted in the
conviction that this is the religion which produces the best men. To
a greater degree than is commonly recognised, each Church or sect of
Christendom thus derives its confidence from the final court of ethical
appeal. Whatever ground be alleged for a given doctrine, whether of
Scripture, authority, or reason, the argument would instantly lose
its force if it were to appear that the ethical result of denying
the doctrine was superior to that which followed its acceptance."


To return to the arguments of rational morality. A man may say:
"I don't care a bit about this social instinct you tell me of; I
don't know that I possess it. It is no use your prating to me about
my happiness of mind, and the necessity of my being in harmony with
my surroundings. I prefer to gratify the instinct--the passion--that
I do feel, regardless of the consequences to others. Of course, I
shouldn't like everybody else to do the same. That is the beauty of my
scheme, and I am not going to miss my opportunity in the short space
of existence you tell me is all that lies before me. If it pleases
me to make a beast of myself, I shall do so." All I can say is that
a man who really means that this is what he would do, if not deterred
by belief, is an unfortunate, with criminal tendencies--is, in fact,
of unsound mind. His reasoning, too, is unsound. He must expect others
to follow his example, as his argument is that the whole world would
become immoral and lawless without belief. He would suffer, therefore,
with the rest, and then would be the first, if sane, to co-operate
with his fellow-sufferers in putting down lawlessness. The most savage
tribe looks after its own interests according to its lights. A man
who disregards the interest of all but himself becomes an Ishmael, an
outlaw, a criminal; and, in the approaching Rationalistic age, he will
be specially "taken care of," and treated as any other insane person.

What are the causes of criminality? The Devil--man's sinful nature--the
Religionist will reply. What does Science reply? Dr. McEwen, of
Glasgow, relates in the Lancet how a labourer, after falling on his
head from a scaffolding, developed immoral tendencies. A tumour had
formed on his brain. This was successfully removed by trepanning, and
the immoral tendencies disappeared. Again, Dr. Lydston tells us that
Flesch examined the brains of fifty criminals, and found imperfections
in all. "Vice and crime," says Dr. Lydston, "will one day be shown more
definitely than ever to be a matter to be dealt with by medical science
rather than by law." [327] When brain defects (whether inherited or
caused by environment) affecting the moral faculties, are universally
recognised as the real source of criminal tendencies; when disease
of the brain is no longer regarded as a disease of the soul--then,
and not till then, will criminality materially diminish. Science will
triumphantly succeed where Religion has dismally failed.

The sooner, therefore, criminality is looked upon as a disease of the
brain, and dealt with accordingly, the better it will be for the human
race. A day will surely come when, as Mr. Wells predicts, [328] "crime
and bad lives will be the measure of a State's failure." The modern
Theist now admits that it is God's pleasure to employ law, and not the
suspension of law, to work out His purposes. Why, then, whether we are
Theists or Agnostics, should we not study and apply those laws for our
moral improvement? Even now we are doing so. Rationalism has taught
us that prevention is better than cure, and its great ally, Science,
is helping both in the prevention and the cure. But the process will
be considerably accelerated when our energies and our fortunes are
spent altogether in this direction, instead of being frittered away
in futile attempts to obtain the same results by "spiritual" methods.


Again the supernaturalist may say: "I grant you, for the sake of
argument, that, setting aside the ills of 'outrageous fortune,' the
secret of happiness lies in obeying the social instinct; but human
nature is weak, and requires assistance. How do you propose to replace
the aid derived from belief? I am not a Japanese. I am not an Oriental,
with an extraordinary power of self-abnegation for the sake of an
idea. I am a phlegmatic Englishman, and I am not at all sure that, even
if I had had this Bushido instilled into me, my character would have
been any stronger than it is now after a Christian education." Here
let me again repeat that I do not for one moment contend that, if
Christianity were true as now interpreted by liberal theology, or,
again, if Theism, with its assurance of a benevolent God, were true,
that, as Neo-Christians or Theists, we should not find belief helpful
in our efforts to lead a moral and therefore innocently happy life;
but an agnosticism regarding all supernatural beliefs appears to
be the only possible attitude for an enlightened world, and it is
this situation that we have now to face. Is there anything, then,
that can in any way take the place of the ethical assistance [329]
afforded by belief in God and an after-life?

The answer of Rationalism has already been indicated--it is to the
force of environment (in its broadest sense) that we must look in our
struggle with hereditary weaknesses. We cannot get rid of our inherited
qualities; but we can modify them by changing our environment. If our
early education, our early environment, has been neglected, we still
have it in our power to remedy, or partly remedy, this unfortunate
circumstance by our choice of present environment. The hard case is
that of a man so situated that to change his evil environment seems
well-nigh impossible. Therefore it is that the reduction of pernicious
environments is of paramount importance to the race, and this truth
the rationalistic spirit of the age is now forcing to the front. Also,
if the individual takes no interest in posterity, and refuses to study
the question of heredity, the day will come when the law of the land
will see to it that the sins or diseases of the fathers shall not be
visited upon the children "unto the third and fourth generation." It is
the quality, not the quantity, of our children that we have to keep to
the forefront. [330] The methods will be simple, if somewhat drastic;
but the need to apply them will continue to lessen in proportion as
the laws of heredity and environment are better kept in view. "Over
the past, represented by our own heredity, we have no control. We
cannot change the facts which have made the degenerate, the neurotic,
the hysterical, and the criminal; but these are only names for human
beings who, by a certain train of causation, have had certain impulses
developed and others left fallow or suppressed. A different train of
causation will awaken the capabilities to hold these impulses in due
check. This future, now represented by the environment, is greatly
within our power. Heredity being but the transmitted effects of past
environments, we have to make a suitable environment for growing
organisms if we wish to mould them to our ideals; and this is the
meaning of education." [331]


Finally, it is very necessary that the origin of morality (as indicated
by Spencer in his Data of Ethics, by Darwin in his Descent of Man,
by Prince Kropotkin in his Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, and by
Dr. C. W. Saleeby in his Evolution: The Master-Key) should be better
understood. Hitherto the question of morality has been dealt with
on wrong lines, [332] and this applies to the teaching not only
of Christian but also of non-Christian religionists. It applies
to the works of those speculative philosophers who have denied the
empirical origin of man's moral feeling, and who have had recourse
to subtle and unconvincing theories in order to assign a supernatural
origin to the moral senses. These thinkers, in attempting to explain
the "distinction of man," the "why of existence," and the "aim of
nature," set themselves the hopeless task of explaining a process which
entails untold suffering upon sentient beings, and in which the modern
Rationalist is unable to discover any ethical principle whatsoever.

Too much prominence cannot be given to the later conclusions of
modern thought so eloquently set forth by Prince Kropotkin. Much as I
appreciate all Mr. S. Laing's writings, and especially, perhaps, the
chapter on "Practical Life" with which he closes his admirable work,
Modern Science and Modern Thought, I cannot agree with him when he
says (p. 113 of the R. P. A. Cheap Reprint): "For practical purposes
it is comparatively unimportant how this [the moral] standard got
there." It is, in my humble opinion, very important, for the reasons
that are clearly demonstrated by Prince Kropotkin and other modern
ethicists. So soon as the Darwinian theory of the origin of morals
is fully accepted, great strides in the development of an improved
morality will surely follow. In fine, "science, far from destroying
the foundations of ethics, as it is so often accused of doing,
gives to evolutionist ethics a philosophical certitude where the
transcendental thinker had only a vague intuition to rely upon." [333]


Let me now quote some instructive utterances by Rationalists [334]:--

"The foundation of morality is to have done, once and for all,
with lying; to give up pretending to believe that for which there
is no evidence, and repeating unintelligible propositions about
things beyond the possibilities of knowledge. She [Science] knows
that the safety of morality lies neither in the adoption of this or
that philosophical speculation, nor this or that theological creed,
but in a real and living belief in that fixed order of nature which
sends social disorganisation upon the track of immorality, as surely
as it sends physical disease after physical trespasses. And of that
firm and lively faith it is her mission to be priestess." [335]
"Theological apologists, who insist that morality will vanish if
their dogmas are exploded, would do well to consider the fact that,
in the matter of intellectual veracity, science is already a long way
ahead of the Churches; and that, in this particular, it is exerting
an educational influence on mankind of which the Churches have shown
themselves utterly incapable." [336]--Huxley.

"A moral life is that form of existence which is based upon obedience
to natural and social law.... By long transmission and inheritance
of mental and physical qualities a certain moral sense, so to say,
has been developed, now called 'conscience,' which suggests acts
often amounting to self-sacrifice, and condemns and represses others,
pleasant and even profitable to the individual, because detrimental to
the race. Altruism and Utilitarianism have come to be so insensibly
blended that it is difficult to detect where the one ends and
the other begins.... We have attained a natural and instinctive
preference for what is good and noble in conduct, irrespective of
self-interest, just as we have risen to an instinctive appreciation of
fine music and delicate perfume.... The moral life is derived from the
universal experience of mankind, approved by the wisdom of the wise,
and justified by the fate of the foolish." [337] ["We needs must love
the noblest when we see it."]--The Author of "Supernatural Religion."

"The Supernaturalists charge the system of the Rationalists with a
lack of any effective motive that can constrain ordinary and average
men to live a moral life. 'It is all very well,' they say, 'for your
Spinozas, your Stuart Mills, and such like, to affect independence
of supernatural sanctions, because they are exceptional men, and
have powers of discernment and will, by which they appropriate to
themselves the moral doctrine and practice of Christianity, while
they refuse to acknowledge their debt.'... I daresay I might, with
some success, retort the argument of Supernaturalism. 'It is all very
well,' I might say, 'for your apostles and saints, for your Augustines
and Luthers and Bunyans, to depend on supernatural sanctions, because
they are exceptional men, and have powers of imagination which turn
shadows into substance.'... There is such a thing as self-respect;
no man likes to feel ashamed of himself. There are very few who are
not strongly moved by a desire to see wife and children or parents
happy. Such influences as these have far more to do with moulding human
life and resisting selfish passion than any fear of hell or desire of
heaven, or any philosophical principles. And such influences as these
will survive even when open denial of supernatural sanction becomes
as general as tacit disbelief is now." [338]--J. Allanson Picton.

"For the mass of mankind two motives serve to direct the main course
of ethics. These are Prudence and Sympathy.... Prudence is the
first step in morality.... Sympathy did not wait to be called into
life by religion. It was born among the brutes.... In the case of
man the sympathy which issues first through the natural emotions of
family and sex is spread over an ever-widening area by the power of
imagination. A greater faculty of entering into the feelings of others
goes along with a deeper sensitiveness to their pains and joys. Their
experience becomes ours. Our self is blended with theirs. We pity
their actual sufferings, and, calling up in imagination the suffering
our conduct might entail, we shrink from committing a wrong.... Pity
is the characteristic mark of the later ethics." [339]--F. J. Gould.

"One can say without exaggeration that the most religious times
and the most religious peoples, or those in which or among whom the
power of the Church has been the strongest, have, generally speaking,
been the most immoral. One has evidence enough in the horrors of the
Middle Ages, and, if to-day it be otherwise, it is not to religion
we owe the change, but to the spread of education and the progress
of intelligence.... It is one of the fatalest and most widespread of
errors that morality without religion is impossible. It has long been
scientifically acknowledged that morality, as such, is far older than
religion.... Morality comes only as the consequence and result of the
inevitable necessities of social intercourse." [340]--Ludwig Büchner.

"The religion of the lower orders of Welshmen may be said to be high
in the scale, while their morality is decidedly low.... What savage
nations have been raised out of their degradation by Christianity?... I
look upon the doctrine of future rewards and punishments as radically
bad, and as bad for savages as for civilised men."--Alfred Russel
Wallace. [341]

"Heaven and hell have no more relation to the question than any other
punishments. The hell which a thoroughly bad man dreads can only be a
hell of physical suffering; and, if he abstains from crime through fear
of fire, he is not a good man, but a bad man in chains." [342]--Leslie

"Where is the seat of authority for what is moral? This is a very
old question. Manu, the Indian law-giver, answers it in four ways:
It rests on revelation (scuti); it rests on tradition (smriti);
it rests on the behaviour of good people; and, lastly, it rests on
inward satisfaction. I believe that, in the end, the last is the
supreme authority." [343]--F. Max Müller.

"Whatever power the threats of punishment and the promises of reward
in an after-life may have had in lawless and superstitious ages,
they have now but the smallest effect on conduct; their remoteness
exhausts their power, and, moreover, the belief in them is slowly
decaying.... All the law and commandments are in the Golden Rule;
all ethics in the teaching that, if man be true to himself, he cannot
be false to his fellows." [344]--Edward Clodd.

"The first step towards the elaboration of a morality which should
exercise a lasting influence is to base it upon an ascertained
truth.... The function of ethics is not so much even to insist upon the
defects of man, and to reproach him with his 'sins,' as to act in the
positive direction by appealing to man's best instincts.... It tells to
man that, if he desires to live a life in which all forces--physical,
intellectual, and emotional--should find a full exercise, he must,
once and for all, abandon the idea that such a life is attainable
on the path of disregard for others.... What is wanted now is a
new comprehension of morality in its methods, which must be freed
from both the transcendental survivals and the narrow conceptions
of Philistine utilitarianism. The importance of mutual aid in the
evolution of the animal world and human history may be taken as
a positive established scientific truth.... Mutual aid, justice,
morality, are thus the consecutive steps of an ascending series,
revealed to us by the study of the animal world and man. It is not
something imposed from the outside: it is an organic necessity which
carries in itself its own justification." [345]--Prince Kropotkin.

"We do not see any convincing reason why morals should be based upon
the teaching of a special denomination, in face of the fact that we
can be upright and brave without the help of a creed with a God or
deities at its other end." [346]--Professor Okakura.

"I regard religion itself as quite unnecessary for a nation's life;
science is far above superstition; and what is religion, Buddhism or
Christianity, but superstition, and therefore a possible source of
weakness to a nation? I do not regret the tendency to freethought and
atheism, which is almost universal in Japan, because I do not regard
it as a source of danger to the community." [347]--Marquis Ito.

"Cardinal Newman once said: 'Give me the children of England,
and England shall be Roman Catholic.' We say: 'Put the children
of England under the best moral influences, and England shall be
righteous.'" [348]--The Moral Instruction League.


A Memorial was lately addressed to the Local Education Authorities of
the country. Among the signatories are Lord Rosebery, Lord Roberts,
Lord Wolseley, Lord Kelvin, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York,
a number of bishops, "General" Booth, Dr. Horton, Dr. Campbell,
the Vice-Chancellors of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge,
etc. They recommend that the eight or ten years of school life
should provide the opportunity, not only for imparting knowledge,
but for inculcating those habits of self-restraint, conscientiousness,
fidelity, honour, and kindness which are needful alike for individual
self-respect and national well-being. (The Code of Regulations for
Public Elementary Schools [1906] has since appeared. It states
emphatically: "Moral Instruction should form an important part
of every elementary school curriculum.") Sir Oliver Lodge has
urged the same thing in the Nineteenth Century. At last, then,
it has been influentially recognised that these things are not
taught in schools, or, if so, are taught in an indifferent and
unsystematic manner. What a reflection upon Christian methods of
upbringing hitherto! Unfortunately, coupled with this desire for
effective moral training, the signatories of the Memorial express a
hope that Bible teaching will be continued. I say "unfortunately,"
because the ethical value of the Bible is inextricably intertwined
with supernatural beliefs that are demonstrably false. Any temporary
success of such teaching, while the children are still uninformed of
the real nature of the Bible, will be heavily discounted in after
years--at a time, too, when assistance from the ethical teaching
of childhood will be most needed. It is an unfortunate circumstance
that the Church must necessarily be fearful regarding the separation
of belief and morality--must set her face against non-theological
moral instruction. It is no use disguising the fact. Her fears are
perfectly well founded--such teaching would tend to the further
spread of unbelief. On the other hand, it is equally clear that,
if any temporary harm comes of this spread--a spread which, in any
case, cannot be stopped, though it can be delayed--it will be because
our children have been taught that religious belief is the chief,
if not the only, sanction for the moral life. The Church, in fact,
will be directly responsible for the evil. Is it not time, then,
for all thoughtful men and women to be up and doing? Is it not time
the truth should be told? In the following sections we shall see that
this course is advisable on every ground.

§ 3. Should the Truth be Told?

    "Wise and prudent conduct demands before all things that we should
    see the facts as they are; and those are not least among England's
    helpers who, regardless of consequences, in all ages have taught
    her children, by using their reason, to distinguish what is false
    from what is true." [349]

Presuming that we have come to the conclusion that Christianity is
not true, are we to say so, or are we to be silent? A believer,
with ideas so advanced that his belief amounts to little more
than "a reverent agnosticism" concerning the fundamental dogmas of
Christianity, is still able to speak out, because while he destroys
he also constructs. He has new interpretations of Christianity to
offer us. The unbeliever can offer no such interpretations. He simply
believes Christianity to be untrue, and, should he give his reasons,
he knows he may persuade others to think so also. He must, therefore,
it seems, keep his unbelief to himself, unless he is prepared to show
that the destruction of belief will be beneficial. In considering this
question of frank avowal of our unbelief, we must not forget that,
try as we may to avoid it, we are bound from time to time to find
ourselves in a position where we have to choose between telling the
truth or telling a lie; while our silence, or any manoeuvre with
intent to deceive, is one continual evasion of the truth. Is it
not time, as John Morley urges, [350] to abandon "those habits of
hypocritical conformity and compliance which have filled the air of
the England of to-day with gross and obscure mists"? In moral life
truth is our guide, so that the arguments for its repression must be
irrefutable. Now, if it can be shown that the objections to candour
are more imaginary than real, not only are we robbed of the excuse
for further concealment, but we are morally bound to fly our true
colours openly. Nor is this all. Should it become plain to us that
actual good will come of truth-telling, or that the probable good far
outweighs the possible evil, it behoves us to take an active part in,
or at least to lend our support to, the spread of truth.


One very natural objection of unbelievers, who are not actually
disbelievers, is that there may be, after all, some truth in
Christianity. We find here every shade of opinion, from that of
the man who still hopes that Christianity may be proved true in
all essentials, to that of the man who thinks that Christianity
may be the symbol of a truth. But, I ask, Will not Christianity,
if true in any shape or form, benefit by truth-telling? Will it not
thereby assume its true form, whatever that may eventually prove to
be, and is not that a consummation to be desired? Many believers
stoutly maintain that Christianity can be only strengthened by
attack; so that, on the face of this assertion, it would appear both
justifiable and desirable to take them at their word, and, without
more ado, proceed to attack Christianity. Certain it is that, so far,
Rationalistic attacks have done inestimable good in disclosing its
errors in doctrine and practice. As Mr. Morley caustically remarks, the
efforts of the heterodox have taught the Church to be better Christians
than they were a hundred years ago. If Christianity, purified in the
cleansing fire of modern criticism, be the true faith, and the theory
of progressive revelation can be accepted, are not this truer faith
and this peculiarly rapid progress of revelation during late years
the product of scepticism? It is the sceptics who have succeeded
in forcing the Church to reconsider her doctrines and discover new
truths, and, wonderful as it may appear, they have thus been God's
special instruments in this more perfect revelation of Himself. Why,
then, should you hesitate to speak out? Christianity evidently has
to be re-stated if it is to survive, and this re-statement must be
complete, for on it rests the only chance of reclaiming the unbeliever,
of arresting the further spread of infidelity, and of converting the
cultured heathen--the only chance of a universal belief in God and
Immortality. Of the result you have no cause for fear. If there be
a God, He is a God of Truth, and the Truth will prevail.


The Rev. V. F. Storr, at the Liverpool Church Congress (1904),
advocated telling the truth regarding established facts, and asked:
"In how many pulpits are the opening chapters of Genesis frankly
treated as legendary? How many teachers in schools, if called upon to
give a lesson on the Fall, would make plain to the children that the
framework of the story is imaginative? Are not the teachers creating
for them the very difficulties which, when they come to mature years,
will make shipwreck of their faith?" These remarks were received in
dead silence by the audience, and the President was vociferously
cheered when he asked: "Are we to tell the children that these
narratives are mere fables, with a moral teaching, or, as Dr. Wace
says, that they are true and historical, only clothed in an Eastern
symbolism? I prefer to stand with Dr. Wace." On the other hand, Dean
Farrar advocated a diametrically opposite course. "We must," he said,
[351] "vaccinate them [the children] with criticism to save them
from the small-pox of scepticism." His successor at Canterbury has,
it would appear, a "conscientious objection" to this vaccination;
and well he may, for it would be far more likely to promote the
disease than to bestow immunity from it.

I should mention that Dr. Wace also said, at the same Church Congress:
"If I were on Mr. Blatchford's side, and wanted to attack Christianity,
I should desire nothing better than that the results of criticism
concerning Genesis, as these results predominate even in the most sober
critical circles, should be adopted by the Christian Church, because
this would afford a means of attacking Christianity with greater
force than anything else, since it would enable me to start with this
vantage-ground, that all the Jews and all the apostles--I dare not
speak of our Lord--were mistaken in their view of God's relation to His
own people." Obscurantism is therefore recommended because the purpose
is a pious one--namely, to confute the unbeliever and to maintain
the Faith. The anti-Christian must be deprived of his vantage-ground
by the denial of truth. It is the old, old story of "pious fraud,"
the mainstay of the Christian Faith. We are to imitate (though in a
lesser degree) the practices of the Latin and Greek Churches, and
continue to play upon people's credulity and ignorance. We are to
understand that pious frauds are still considered legitimate weapons
to employ in the defence of Christianity. Surely such weapons should
be allowed to fall into disuse for the simple reason--if on no higher
grounds--that the spread of education is rendering them obsolete.

The days of obscurantism are numbered. "Many a man in the workshop
to-day knows more about the Bible and Church history than many a monk
and bishop a few generations ago." [352] The Church of England cannot
"shut herself in behind walls of tottering traditions." [353] Christian
Fathers can no longer publish their own writings in the names of
disciples and apostles in order to insure their acceptance. Evidence
against the truth of Christianity can no longer be destroyed or
suppressed by persecution. "Miracles" can no longer be worked,
except where people are still grossly credulous or ignorant. True it
is that passages of the Bible can still be read in church which every
educated man knows to be (to use a mild term) unhistorical, and which,
to console his conscience, he calls allegorical. True, in our churches,
with but few exceptions, the white lie of silence is daily told. But
even mild pious frauds of this nature will soon be a thing of the
past. The Higher Critics and the advanced school of the Church will
see to it. They are beginning to speak out--why should not you?

The obscurantist would do well to take to heart the answer of Bishop
Colenso to the clergyman who reproached him with depraving one of his
parishioners by criticisms of the Pentateuch. "The blame," he replied,
"would be more fittingly attached to the teachers who lead people to
rest their faith in God and duty on a foundation of falsehood which
every new wave of thought is sweeping away." [354] Shall we, to give
a glaring instance of pious obstruction, revert to the time--not many
years ago--when the use of anæsthetics in surgery was denounced from
the pulpit, on the ground of impiety? I think not. Nowadays one can
hardly keep one's countenance in recalling the words of those who
seriously, and, as they thought, piously, said that they would rather
suffer any pain than "enter the presence of their Maker in a state
of intoxication." We no longer listen to those who would forbid us
either to taste the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge or to give it to
others. Obscurantism, dogma's best friend, is breathing its last. It
can therefore no longer be depended upon.


Anxiety with regard to the effect on morality, private and public,
chiefly accounts, no doubt, for the present conspiracy of silence. I
have already gone into this question in some detail, [355] and we have
seen that belief and morality are not necessarily Siamese twins, and
that, when the belief is false, and still more, of course, when it
is suspected or known to be false, it is no longer of any possible
ethical value, but quite the reverse. Should you demur, I have a
question to ask, which is this: Now that, whether we wish it or no,
the truth about Christianity is fast leaking out, and, consequently,
disbelief is rapidly spreading, how is it that you, how is it that
the State, how is it that the majority outside the Church, display
so peculiarly little anxiety? I confess I am at a loss to understand,
unless it be that you and they have realised that morality is a thing
apart from belief, and therefore feel that there is little cause for
uneasiness. There is, however, an element of danger, and, temporary
though it may be, it is sure, if disregarded, to affect the private
and public morality of our own times.


The real danger lurks, where least suspected, in the very method which
you advocate as the safest--the method of a gradual infiltration. In
many matters such a method is undoubtedly sound. A reformation
involving a complete revolution in opinions is best carried out
gradually and tentatively, and, in this respect, nature's slow
processes of evolution provide a useful lesson for the too ardent
reformer. I do not suggest a cataclysm, or suppose it possible. But I
do say that your infiltration process must be carefully watched and
tended, although a policy of masterly inactivity and laissez-faire
may appeal to you as the easiest; I do say with Mr. Trevelyan that
"true opinions do not spread always, and of their own force; but
sometimes, and only by dint of courageous avowal"; [356] I do say that
in this particular instance it is absolutely necessary that, side
by side with a knowledge of the untruth of the Christian religion,
there should be inculcated a knowledge of the true origin and need
of morality; I do say that the infiltration process need not and
ought not to be prolonged indefinitely, and that insincerity of
any kind affects character banefully; I do say that you should not
allow your children to be taught a false belief and a false basis of
morality. This conspiracy of silence is as mistaken and mischievous as
that by which boys and girls are allowed to find out for themselves
what they should have had properly put to them by their parents and
guardians. When the Church teaching, when the dogmas contained in the
Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, are removed, the rational teaching
must take its place at once.


We cannot stop to inquire how this or that private interest will suffer
when the theological mist has been dispelled. When machinery was
invented--or, again, when slavery was abolished--enormous interests
were affected. Such things will always adjust themselves. There is
one difficulty, however, which we all feel very strongly, and which
cannot be passed over lightly. We have to consider the distress of mind
which the truth will cause to those who still firmly believe, and for
whom their religion is so great a consolation that to be robbed of
it would make life objectless--a dreary desert of despair. Have we,
then, any right to disturb people's belief, and to lacerate their
feelings? It would almost appear, as Mr. Winwood Reade remarks,
that "we can do nothing that is exclusively and absolutely good. Le
genre humain n'est pas placé entre le bien et le mal, mais entre le
mal et le pire." Just as multitudes of martyrs are now suffering in
unhappy Russia for the sake of its eventual reform, just as throughout
history mankind owe their elevation to misfortune and their happiness
to misery, so here, also, it seems as if the elevation and happiness
in store for mankind after their liberation from superstition can
only be achieved through suffering. The revolution will be bloodless,
but it cannot be altogether tearless. Let us see whether the mental
anguish will be as great as we imagine, and also whether it is not
in the power of each one of us to adopt a line of conduct which will
tend towards a vast reduction in the number of those who must pass
through the vale of tears.

Are you and I any unhappier than the believer? Many of us have gone
through an ordeal more or less severe before finally relinquishing
our cherished beliefs. I will speak of that presently. But are we
now any less happy than our fellows who are believers? Except for the
unhappiness which our outspoken confession of belief may have brought
upon us, surrounded as we are by believers and professing believers,
I think we can, with confidence, say we are not; while this possible
cause of unhappiness is precisely the one which will disappear as soon
as the vast multitude of unbelievers agree to tell the truth. No longer
then shall we seem, as now, to be in a minority. Very good. We are,
or should be, quite as happy as believers; may we not suppose that,
after the effect of a rude awakening from a beautiful dream has passed
off, the convert to unbelief will settle down into the same condition
of mind as ourselves? We are free from anxiety regarding the terrible
fate that some of our Christian brethren still see fit to hold over
us; but in place of their anxiety concerning an eternal after-life,
which may be blissful or may be gruesome, the worst we expect is an
eternal peace--an undisturbed sleep, such as we hope for every night
when we retire to rest.

    After life's fitful fever he sleeps well.

We are Agnostics, and, though some may preserve an agnosticism
concerning the continuance of consciousness after death, we are all
of us resigned to the inevitable.

    And if there be no meeting past the grave,
    If all is darkness, silence, yet 'tis rest;
    Be not afraid, ye waiting hearts that weep,
    For God still "giveth his belovèd sleep,"
    And if an endless sleep He wills, so best. [357]

Can we state it as our honest opinion that the consolations of
belief enter into the every-day life of the average man, influencing
thereby his happiness? We cannot. Only on rare occasions, in times
of bereavement, or in time of his own approaching death, will he turn
to his belief for consolation. Does he obtain then the consolation he
looks for? Again the answer must be in the negative. Here and there we
come across examples of a happy resignation such as we should expect
to find; but usually it is far otherwise. No one nurses his grief
longer than the average Christian; no one is more unwilling to die--he
is really more anxious to live than Hindoo, Parsee, Mohammedan, or
Buddhist believer, or Japanese Agnostic. Whether it be that Agnosticism
engenders a spirit of resignation, it is difficult to say; but the
fact remains that no one accepts the ills of life more cheerfully,
no one meets his death more bravely, than the average Agnostic. How
often one hears of the deaths of unbelievers quite as beautiful in
their serene calm as those of devout believers. To give examples
recently before the public, we have the heart-stirring accounts of
the last moments of two well-known Agnostics, the late Sir Leslie
Stephen, the author of An Agnostic's Apology, and the late George Jacob
Holyoake, the founder of Secularism. These may be exceptional cases;
but such are exceptional, also, among believers. According as a man
is possessed of self-control, or is naturally fearless or resigned,
so will his conduct or feelings be affected. We are speaking, mind
you, of averages; and I maintain that bereavements and death are met
by the average Agnostic with as much resignation as by the average
Christian who has religious consolation to fall back upon.

The fear of death supplies the chief motive for religion. Even the
emotion called forth by the death of a friend is not solely the feeling
of the loss. It is partly because death has been brought very near to
us. Now, as the consolation afforded by religion in our last hours
is continually held up to us by the priest as a reward for belief,
one would expect to find that occasions where this consolation was
unnecessary would be few and far between. It is, however, quite the
reverse. Eliminating the cases of sudden death, how seldom are these
consolations of utility? Inquire, if you doubt, from any medical
man what are his experiences among the dying; how many are not even
aware that they are dying; how many are too much taken up with their
physical sufferings, and too anxious to be relieved from them, to
think of anything else; how many die in a space of time so brief,
reckoning from the moment when they are first made aware of their
dying condition, that the case is practically one of sudden death;
how many are unconscious from the time when their life is first
in danger; how many have the knowledge of their approaching death
carefully concealed from them by kind-hearted doctors and relations,
albeit both the patient and his attendants say they believe in a
supremely happy existence after death? Far more often than not the
religious consolation so frequently and solemnly held up to us by
the priest as an inducement to believe is never enjoyed. Does it not
furnish a damaging commentary on one of the strongest arguments for
belief--the argument from religious consolation?

Taking these facts into consideration, we find ourselves able to
approach the question of disturbing belief with a somewhat lighter
heart. Still, we have to remember that these hopes and fears,
sedulously implanted by the Church, have taken deep root. Could we
be sure of impressing believers with our own convictions concerning
the consolations of religion, all would be well; but we cannot be
sure. Here lies the crux. The idea that they are deriving, and will
derive, consolation when the dread moment is at hand has become far
too fixed for painless extraction. You may only succeed in partially
divesting them of their belief, making them thoroughly miserable to
no purpose; or, if you do succeed, it may only be after you have put
them to considerable mental distress. What is to be done, then? It
is a hard question. Feeling this, we give the matter up in despair,
and remain silent. And so the truth which we might have spread,
each one of us in his own circle, remains unspoken.

Worse still, the untruth is perpetuated by permitting our children to
be brought up in the false beliefs of our believing friends. This,
at least, should make us pause and reflect. Are we justified in
keeping silence? Are we justified in making no effort to save the
future generation from mental distress, or from what is far worse, a
demoralising indifference? The dilemma is great, but that is no reason
for shirking it. It must be faced, and the pros and cons carefully
weighed. Is there, haply, no middle course that we may steer? We should
not unnecessarily cause distress to the aged who have, all their days,
cherished this belief, who have arrived at a time of life when ideas
are not easily changed, and who feel that that life is now drawing
to a close, and that they now more than ever require the consolation
they have built their hopes upon. We should spare their feelings all
we can; but we must, so it seems to me, put both them and ourselves to
such distress as may arise from telling them plainly, when absolutely
necessary, that we do not believe in the truth of Christianity, and
do not think it right to bring up our children to what we consider
is a false belief. We have seen that religious tolerance is the
growing spirit of the age, that some of our greatest divines extol
[358] the virtues of the Agnostic, and condemn [359] obscurantism
and the odium theologicum. Shall we then, after all, in these days,
cause so very much distress by our confessions of unbelief? As a rule,
I think we shall not.


Another objection to "speaking out" is that we can never alter people's
beliefs. Many well-known Agnostics still hold this opinion. In his
essay, "The Religion of All Sensible Men," Sir Leslie Stephen expresses
this opinion in the following words: "I do not wish to underrate modern
progress; but surely there is something grotesque in the hypothesis
that the average shopkeeper or artisan of the present day is too
clever to believe in the creeds of his forefathers. I fancy that no
one has yet ascertained that the brain of to-day is more capacious
than the brains of the contemporaries of Cæsar or St. Paul.... Can you
pierce his [the intelligent citizen's] armour of stolid indifference
by arguments about the principle of evolution and the survival of the
fittest?... The improbability that ancient creeds should simply survive
must, therefore, depend upon other conditions than the increase of the
average intelligence.... I would not conceal my own views, but neither
would I feel anxious to thrust them upon others; and for the very
simple reason that conversion appears to me to be an absurdity. You
cannot change a man's thoughts about things as you can change the books
in his library." [360] With all due respect to the late Sir Leslie
Stephen, I contend that there is one gigantic fallacy underlying this
argument. He forgets, or appears to forget, that beliefs are built
upon premises, the errors in which one may be able to demonstrate
absolutely without having to enter into learned dissertations on the
principle of evolution. He declares that he does not wish to underrate,
but he certainly does underrate, modern progress. Surely the average
shopkeeper or artisan of the present day is capable of understanding
that practically nothing is left of the foundations upon which his
forefathers built their beliefs; that they have crumbled away under
the influence of a knowledge that was not in the possession of the
contemporaries of Cæsar or St. Paul? "The laws of thought," as Herbert
Spencer says, "are everywhere the same, and the ideas of a rational
being are, under the conditions in which they occur, rational." [361]
It is ignorance, coupled with superstition, that is at the root of
all the different beliefs of mankind. Superstition may remain, though
even this may be questioned, considering that people brought up from
their childhood as Agnostics are wholly devoid of any superstitious or
so-called religious instinct. Ignorance can in any case be dispelled,
and if this does not actually destroy supernatural beliefs, it will at
least modify them. Even the working man will not remain satisfied with
a theology which maintains the necessity for a foundation of facts,
and yet is unable to prove them. Therefore, confident of the utility,
let us unravel all that is clearly false in belief, and disseminate
the result of our investigations among our fellows. In this way,
men who are in all essentials seeking the same goal may be led to
pursue, if not the same path, yet at least convergent paths. The
common sophisms that it is useless to inquire too deeply into beliefs,
since you will never arrive at the absolute truth, and that you will
never get two men to think alike, account for much of the prevalent
indifference. Absolute truth may always remain beyond the ken of man;
but that is no reason why he should not go on trying to get as near
it as possible, and the first step is the elimination of untruth.


It is strange to find non-Christians arguing that the persistence
of the Christian belief is a sign of its utility; it is no more so
than it is of its truth. Christianity did not make good men what they
are, but good men have made Christianity what it is. Besides, a false
belief cannot possibly serve a good purpose after its real character
has become known. Mr. Fielding urges [362] that whatever exists,
whatever persists, does so because it fills a want, because it is of
use. He points his argument by alluding to the fact that when anything
is useless it atrophies, and he instances how the snake and the whale
have lost their legs, human kind their hairy skin and keener sense of
smell, and so on. In this simile he is making an assertion which begs
the question. He assumes that supernatural belief is not an atrophied
organ; the Rationalist contends that it is, and that it has been proved
to be so. Belief, indeed, is strikingly analogous to an organ which,
owing to its having no further useful purpose, has atrophied and become
rudimentary. It may have served some purpose in bygone ages; but now,
in its present state, it is a source of weakness, like the splint
bone of a horse--or rather of danger, like the vermiform appendage of
man. The analogy, fortunately, does not hold good in every respect,
for a false belief is an appendage of human nature which can be
safely, though perhaps not always painlessly, removed. Indeed, it
is an open question whether all religion (in its theological sense)
is not "an unessential quality which has been mechanically attached
to it, and which, consequently, it may at any time throw off without
experiencing any serious loss." [363]


If the latter be a correct estimate of the place religion occupies in
man's nature, it furnishes a reply to one of the objections to Agnostic
propaganda--the objection that, before we discard an existing belief,
we must be prepared to substitute a new belief in its place. It is
this objection that has given rise to those speculative philosophies
which the common sense of the vast majority has rightly decided are
unsatisfactory; a decision that the Church has not unnaturally seized
upon as a triumphant vindication of the truth of Christianity.

Against this objection to militant Rationalism, this plea for silence,
I may be permitted to enter my protest in the weighty words of a
well-known writer. "It is alleged," says the author of Supernatural
Religion, "that, before existing belief is disturbed, the iconoclast
is bound to provide a substitute for the shattered idol. To this we may
reply that speech or silence does not alter the reality of things. The
recognition of truth cannot be made dependent on consequences, or be
trammelled by considerations of spurious expediency. Its declaration in
a serious and suitable manner to those who are capable of judging can
never be premature. Its suppression cannot be effectual, and is only a
humiliating compromise with conscious imposture. In so far as morality
is concerned, belief in a system of future rewards and punishments,
although of an intensely degraded character, may, to a certain extent,
have promoted observance of the letter of the law in darker ages,
and even in our own times; but it may, we think, be shown that
education and civilisation have done infinitely more to enforce its
spirit. How far Christianity has promoted education and civilisation
we shall not here venture adequately to discuss. We may emphatically
assert, however, that whatever beneficial effect Christianity has
produced has been due, not to its supernatural dogmas, but to its
simple morality. Dogmatic theology, on the contrary, has retarded
education and impeded science.... Even now the friction of theological
resistance is a constant waste of intellectual power.... The choice of
a noble life is no longer a theological question, and ecclesiastical
patents of truth and uprightness have finally expired. Morality,
which has ever changed its complexion and modified its injunctions
according to social requirements, will necessarily be enforced as
part of human evolution, and is not dependent on religious terrorism
or superstitious persuasion. If we are disposed to say: Cui bono? and
only practise morality, or be ruled by right principles, to gain a
heaven or escape a hell, there is nothing lost, for such a grudging
and calculated morality is merely a spurious imitation which can as
well be produced by social compulsion." [365] "If," as George Eliot
once pithily remarked, "you feel no motive to common morality but
a criminal bar in heaven, you are decidedly a man for the police on
earth to keep their eye upon."


There is one more argument against militant Rationalism which demands
our attention. "Why should we be so impatient of error?" asks Sir
Leslie Stephen. "The enormous majority of the race has, on any
hypothesis, been plunged in superstitions of various kinds, and, on
the whole, it has found that it could thrive and be decently happy and
contented in its ignorance. Science declines to accept catastrophes;
and no catastrophe would be more startling than a sudden dispersal
of the mists that have obscured the human intelligence for so many
ages. If they grow a little thinner in our time, we may well be
content; but is it not childish to be impatient about the rate of
development of these vast secular [age-long] processes? Why be in
such a hurry to 'change the errors of the Church of Rome for those of
the Church of the Future'?" [366] I hope I have already answered this
question to the satisfaction of some at least of my readers. I have
shown that there is a very real danger in further concealment--in
keeping up the farce. But let this pass. The reason why we should
be impatient of error--why the truth should be told--is that the
elimination of error will usher in an era of greater happiness.

In order that we may the more clearly perceive this, I shall
now conclude this book with a rapid survey of the arguments for

§ 4. The Outlook.

When Rationalism reigns supreme,--

1. Morality will be founded on a firm basis. Its origin and necessity
being better understood, it will also be better practised, whether
in commerce, in politics, or in our social relations--i.e., both in
our public and in our private conduct. Also the present atmosphere of
religious insincerity will be cleared. Relieved of this temptation
to deceive our neighbour and even ourselves, our moral fibre will
be strengthened, and we shall be far less likely to be hypocrites in
other matters.

2. Social evils will stand a better chance of being redressed.

3. All religious intolerance will disappear once and for all.

4. An era of peace and happiness may at last be realised, because the
methods of its attainment will be scientific and rational. We shall
have recognised the fact that a gospel which proclaims a sword and
eternal damnation cannot at the same time be a gospel of good tidings,
cannot bring "Peace on earth, goodwill towards men."

It may be said that such optimism is absurd, but is it really so?

Morality.--Have we not seen [367] that morality can be taught apart
from belief, and, indeed, that it is better so taught? May we not
reasonably expect, therefore, that morality will advance side by
side with Rationalism? In the famous words of Kant, "The death
of dogma is the birth of morals." Our moral progress has not been
checked by the machinations of devils, but rather by our belief in
such personages. Also by our ignorance--ignorance of the origin and
purpose of morality, ignorance of the true causes of immorality,
ignorance of the laws of heredity and environment. Science is the
good fairy who will assist moral weaklings, and reduce their numbers
in succeeding generations. Supernatural religion was perhaps a phase
through which humanity had to grope towards the light of reason and
knowledge. "But we are now facing the dawn of that better and happier
day when piety shall be confined within the sphere of the natural, when
morals shall be looked upon and cultivated as essential conditions
of a truly blessed social life, and when all mankind shall aim,
not at imaginary happiness in a purely imaginary realm, but at real
prosperity in a profoundly real world. This would be the exaltation,
not destruction, of morality; the glorification, not annihilation,
of the sense of responsibility; the enthronement, not repudiation,
of the joy of altruistic service." [368]

Social Problems.--Broad-minded divines are now exalting the service
of man as it has never before been exalted. "Serve men," they say,
"and you will find God. Help men, and Christ is here." [369] "The
test of Christianity is," Canon Wilson informs us, "the resolve
and the power of Christians to solve social problems. If the Bible
inspires Christians with the zeal and the wisdom and the love
needed for this task, no one will dispute its claims to be verily
'the Word of God.'" [370] This inspiration to improve the lot of
our fellow-creatures furnishes, we are told, the final test of the
Bible's truth. We are entitled to ask, therefore, How comes it that
the inspiration has hitherto so signally failed to manifest itself, and
that it only appears now when the aspirations of the democracy can no
longer be disregarded? To give an example from history, did not slavery
flourish side by side with the Christian Church? [371] Was it not
abolished only when the further development of humanitarian principles
caused men's hearts to rebel against its cruelty and injustice?

The Church is at last devoting more attention to social evils and
to the removal of their causes. What has taught her this duty if it
be not the growing spirit of nationalism? [372] The Church has been
forced, as it were, to keep pace with the rise of Rationalism. It
is her only chance of prolonging her existence. Her new attitude in
this respect will undoubtedly be the means of confusing the issue--the
truth of Christianity--for some years to come. Therefore it is that,
while thankful for the improvement, it is our bounden duty to expose
the real truth of the matter--to see that Rationalism is not robbed of
its due meed of praise, that the merit of the improvement is ascribed
to its proper source.

Also we are to see that the process of improvement is not
delayed. Undoubtedly the progress of Rationalism will ultimately
involve important changes in political institutions and philosophic
theories; but it is the cure of social evils which cannot be wrought
too soon. In proportion as we accept the natural and reject the
supernatural diagnosis of social diseases so shall we alleviate and
possibly cure them.

Religious Tolerance.--Have we not seen that religious intolerance has
been the evil genius which throughout the history of Christianity has
been an enemy of progress and a lively cause of strife and misery? "The
Christian Church has been more cruel and shed more human blood than
any other Church or institution in the world. Let the Jew alone bear
witness among the crowd of victims." [373] Also, Christians, in the
course of their intestine dissensions, have inflicted far greater
severities on each other than they have ever experienced from the
zeal of infidels. [374]

        Christians have burnt each other, quite persuaded
        That all the Apostles would have done as they did.

To-day, despite the rise and influence of Rationalism in Europe,
"racial and religious prejudice are certainly present among us, and
they form a latent source of cruelty and injustice which can at any
time, if we are weak enough or wicked enough to give it free play,
stain the land with the most amazing oppressions." [375] Religious
animus, even in a country priding itself on its tolerant spirit, has
by no means burnt itself out. Do we not see it flaring up again in the
"War of the Kirks," the Education controversy, and the arguments for
the retention of the Athanasian Creed?

It is necessary, as Buckle observes, [376] that men should learn to
doubt, before they begin to tolerate; and that they should recognise
the fallibility of their own opinions, before they respect the opinions
of their opponents. We may never entirely agree on questions that
are for the present at least shrouded in mystery; but, though the old
adage, "Quot homines, tot sententiæ," may remain true for all time,
wide differences of opinion will disappear, and with them the odium
theologicum. There can only be intolerance where belief is dogmatic,
and that the religion of the future will never be. The uncertainty, the
reasons why others may not be able to accept this or that philosophic
speculation, will be recognised.

If any discoveries await us, we are sure, at all events, that they will
not confirm a dogma that would consign the greater portion of the human
race to unspeakable and eternal torment; they will not confirm Christ's
description of the Last Judgment, when the Son of Man is to say:
"Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the
Devil and his angels." It is the fashion nowadays for Latitudinarians
to explain away everything that appears too incongruous or vindictive,
and the word "everlasting" is said to be a mistranslation; but the
meaning of one at least of the sayings attributed to Jesus is only too
clear: "Many are called, but few are chosen" (Matt. xxii. 14.) What,
then, is to become of the many? If we are to believe the "Word of God,"
their awful fate, temporary or otherwise, is certain--"Whosoever was
not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire"
(Rev. xx. 15); or again, "And shall cast them into a furnace of fire:
there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. xiii. 42). It is
cruel doctrines of this kind that have arrested the growth of love and
pity, and Rationalism is therefore the sworn enemy of such doctrines,
as well as of the religious intolerance which springs from them.

Peace. [377]--In an address by the late Archbishop of Canterbury,
when Bishop of London, delivered at the Polytechnic, Regent Street,
[378] we are presented with an argument of Christian apologetics, the
weight of which rests upon the presumption that Christ did not wish the
Church to begin with any bloodshed! "It is sometimes questioned," said
Dr. Temple, "by those who would throw discredit upon the narrative,
that our Lord tells them [the disciples] to go into Galilee, and yet
He intended to see them that evening. But the whole thing is perfectly
clear to those who consider the circumstances. Our Lord appeared to
them in the evening, and there can be no doubt that He intended to
do so even when He told these women that they were to desire all the
disciples to go down into Galilee. But it was of great importance that
there should be no gathering of the disciples in Jerusalem, because the
inevitable result would have been an alarm on the part of the Jews,
and Pontius Pilate would have been compelled, in order to keep the
city perfectly quiet, to disperse such an assembly by force; and it
is likely enough that the Church would have begun with bloodshed. But
our Lord did not choose to have any such beginning. He told them all
to go into Galilee." Are there any grounds for this presumption, any
grounds for presuming that God ever wishes to prevent bloodshed? None
whatever from a study of history. None whatever from a study of the
Bible. None whatever from a study of Christ's own words: "Think not
that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace,
but a sword."

Look at the present day! "We live in a time," exclaims the Kaiser,
[379] "in which every young German capable of bearing arms must be
ready to step forward for his Fatherland." "The signs of the times
make it the duty of the nation to strengthen its defences against
unrighteous attacks." [380] "History, viewed as a whole," says Major
Stewart Murray, [381] warningly, "is nothing but a succession of
struggles for existence among rival nations, in which, in the long run,
only the strong armed survive." Similar notes of warning are echoing
and re-echoing through the length and breadth of Christendom. Is
this no reflection upon Christianity's power for good? Look at
the picture! Christian nations all armed to the teeth, with their
"powder dry" and their "swords keen," each distrustful of the other,
each ready to spring at the other's throat.

What has the Rationalist to say to this state of things? What
remedy does he propose to apply? The prophets foretell that we
can look forward to the abolition of war only when the engines of
destruction--flying ships armed with weapons of death, for example--are
of so fearful a nature that it will at last be brought home to mortals
that this clumsy and barbarous machine for settling disputes is too
absurd, too suicidal for further employment. But need we wait long
weary years, burdened with the thousand and one curses of war and
militarism, [382] till this supreme horror has been invented?

In the resolution adopted at the Fourteenth Peace Congress [383] we
find the following stirring appeal: "We are beginning to understand
that the rights of the citizen within the State can only be fully
respected when, by the establishment of international juridical
order, absolute security shall be obtained for all nations. The
demand for this international security is becoming daily more urgent,
on the one hand because modern progress binds together millions of
the most diverse interests, on the other hand because the stream of
democracy, or what it would be more proper to call the aspirations of
the masses of the people after happiness, is rising continually in
an immense and irresistible flood. International security can only
be assured by federation; so federation will come about, for it is
indispensable as liberty to the citizen, as air to the lungs. But it
behoves us to see that it comes before we are laid in the tomb. What
we ought to labour for with an unresting ardour is that federation
should be accomplished while we are yet alive, so that we may not
be thwarted of the legitimate share of happiness that belongs to us
here below." Yes, this strikes the right chord; but before the hopes
of these peace enthusiasts can be fulfilled Rationalism must have
advanced considerably further than it has up to the present. At the
third National Peace Congress held at Birmingham on June 13th and 14th,
1906, the opinion was expressed that the King and the working classes
were already on the side of peace, and it only remained, therefore,
to convert the Church and the middle classes. How are we to set about
their conversion? Even if we could persuade the Church that war was
not an essential to the welfare of nations, we could hardly expect her
to agree with us at present either as to the cause or the cure of the
evil. The prime cause of war is Nature's cruel law, the "struggle for
existence"; and the Rationalist's proposals for its alleviation run
counter to the teachings of the Church. For this among other cogent
reasons, I conceive that it behoves us to see that the truth about
Christianity be known "before we are laid in the tomb," and that "what
we ought to labour for with an unresting ardour" is that this "should
be accomplished while we are yet alive, so that we may not be thwarted
of the legitimate share of happiness that belongs to us here below."

The close association of war and religion has never ceased to act
for the injury of mankind. The "Lord of Hosts," the "Lord mighty in
battle," is expected to take interest in bloodshed rather than in the
pursuits of peace, and to be always ready to join in the fray--to
fight for His People; both sides, be it remembered, claiming His
assistance. True Christianity owns as its Master a Prince of Peace; but
in no particular has its failure in practice been more marked than in
its impotency to carry out this, one of its chief missions. Why? Apart
from religion being frequently the actual occasion of the strife, [384]
is it not because it has always meddled in politics, always supported
rulers in their ambitions, in their land-hunger? Is it not because
religion has too often submitted to be "a 'kept' priest to bless or
ban as the passion or self-interest of its employer dictated?" [385]

It is as futile as it is insincere for a Tsar [386] to preach peace,
when he, or rather his counsellors, are imbued with a hunger for
other people's property, and, hypocrites that they are, hide their
real motives under the cloak of religion, calling it, forsooth,
the spreading of a Christian civilisation. Every Rationalist, every
Freethinker, is an honest advocate of peace. [387] He is not so
irrational, so immoral I might say, as to propose the settlement of
disputes by arbitration, and at the same time to entertain nefarious
projects calculated to render this method impracticable. So long
as Christian nations remain unmindful of the Tenth Commandment, he
acknowledges with sorrow that we must continue armed and ready to do
battle; but he looks forward with confidence to the day when there
will be such an overwhelming body of men earnestly and sincerely
desirous of peace that war will be impossible, simply because the
preponderating voice of each and every nation will be against it--will
"seek peace and ensue it." He anticipates a time when men will realise
that they are not only citizens of this or that country, but fellow
citizens also on the same planet.

§ 5. Concluding Remarks.

An eminent theologian tells us: "Reason is the only faculty we have
wherewith to judge concerning anything, even Revelation itself." [388]
How is it, then, that Religionist and Rationalist arrive at such
contrary conclusions? The explanation is simple enough: the Religionist
trusts, the Rationalist distrusts, his emotions. Which is in the
right? The survival of religious belief will largely depend upon the
view men may ultimately take upon this question. Whether religion be no
more than "morality touched by emotion," as Matthew Arnold defines it,
[389] or whether all religions are only different ways of expressing a
reality which transcends experience and correct expression, we cannot,
on that account, accept dogmas that are untrue; we cannot pretend that
a supernatural revelation has been vouchsafed to us. We may surmise,
as Sir Henry Thompson supposed, that the "eternal and infinite energy
behind phenomena" is what we call "God"; but we have to admit that
this God is an unknown God, and that all attempts to unravel the
mystery that surrounds our own fate are the merest guesses in the
dark. Does a surmise--a belief if you will have it so--of this kind
afford any religious satisfaction? If this Eternal Energy possesses
what we should call a mind, can we worship a Supreme Intelligence

        "Which stoops not either to bless or ban,
        Weaving the woof of an endless plan"?

Can we worship the Unknown? Can we, like the Athenians of old,
erect altars to the Unknown God? I trow not. The age of ignorance
and superstition is slowly, but none the less surely, passing away,
never again to return.

Sir Oliver Lodge believes [390] in "the ultimate intelligibility of
the universe," and with this opinion many of us will agree. Perhaps our
present brains may require considerable improvement before we can grasp
the deepest things by their aid, or perhaps they will suffice as they
are, and only a further acquisition of knowledge may be required. In
any case, one sees no reason why, because we have no acceptable theory
of life or of death now, we must therefore be equally ignorant many
centuries, or even a single century, hence. On the other hand, it is,
of course, quite possible that these mysteries may remain for ever
unexplained. It may transpire that Haeckel's assumption of a monism
in the physical world, and his identification of vital force with
ordinary physical and chemical forces, are incorrect. It may transpire
that Professor le Conte was wrong in regarding vital force as just
so much withdrawn from the general fund of chemical and physical
forces. Radio-activity and the cyanic theory [391] may not furnish a
satisfactory solution of the problem of the first appearance of life
upon this globe. But one thing, at all events, our present knowledge
seems clearly to indicate: the solution of the problem cannot be in
accord with the Christian dogmas. Should the secrets of our existence
still lie concealed in the womb of time, their birth will be the death,
not the renascence, of the dying creeds of to-day.

Meanwhile our present course is clearly defined: we should search
out and expose all false premises of belief. Only in this way can
we hope to arrive a little nearer to the ultimate truth. Also,
what is of much greater consequence, when all that is demonstrably
untrue in the world's beliefs has been pointed out and acknowledged,
believers and unbelievers will be in far better accord concerning
all that is vital to the well-being of the human race. "We cannot,"
as Mr. Trevelyan pertinently remarks, [392] "alter the nature of the
Unknown by conceiving it to be other than that which it is; but we
can get a wrong basis for ethics, and a false sentimental outlook on
everything, by reason of false beliefs."

By all means let those who can, continue to cherish the "larger
hope"--why should they not, while all is unknown?--and let the
metaphysicians continue to translate their wishes and aspirations
into philosophical language; but the guiding spirit in human affairs
should be, and one day will be, a scientific humanitarianism working
on rational principles for the peace and happiness of all mankind.

        "Ring out the grief that saps the mind
        For those that here we see no more;
        Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
        Ring in redress to all mankind.

        Ring out a slowly dying cause,
        And ancient forms of party strife;
        Ring in the nobler modes of life,
        With sweeter manners, purer laws.

        Ring out false pride in place and blood,
        The civic slander and the spite;
        Ring in the love of truth and right,
        Ring in the common love of good.

        Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
        Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
        Ring out the thousand wars of old,
        Ring in the thousand years of peace."


Chapter I.

    P. 5, lines 12-14.--The Copernican system was gradually accepted,
    and so were the discoveries which followed up to fifty years ago.

Copernicus's book, The Revolution of the Celestial Bodies, was printed
a few days before his death, in 1543. The system was condemned by
a decree of Pope Paul V., in 1616, which was not revoked till 1818
by Pius VII. The great Kepler (d. 1630) was an astrologer as well
as astronomer, and thought the stars were guided by angels. While
his mind had a strong grasp of positive scientific truth, it also
had an irresistible tendency towards mystical speculation. In those
days Science and Religion were easily reconciled. It was fortunate
for Newton that he made his discovery of the law of gravitation in a
rather more enlightened age and country, otherwise he would inevitably
have shared the terrible fate of Giordano Bruno at the hands of the
Church's emissaries.

Even in the early eighteenth century the light of science had hardly
got beyond the first glimmering of dawn. Mathematics and astronomy
were the only sciences which had passed into the positive and final
stage. Chemistry, geology, biology, historical criticism, were not yet
in a position to speak with authority even on subjects in their own
province. Read a popular apologetic work of the eighteenth century;
read Truth and Certainty of Christian Revelation, edition 1724,
and you will find that a defender of the faith had in those days
a comparatively easy task. Science being still in its infancy,
Dr. Samuel Clarke gave reasons for the truth of Christian dogmas,
which, though they could not be controverted then, would now be
considered the most abject nonsense. Bead also Mr. S. Laing's remarks
on p. 13 of A Modern Zoroastrian, where he tells us that when he was
"a student at Cambridge, little more than fifty years ago, astronomy
was the only branch of natural science which could be said to be
definitely brought within the domain of natural law, and that only
as regards the law of gravity and the motions of the heavenly bodies,
for little or nothing was known as to their constitution."

    P. 5, lines 18-19.--The vast antiquity of the earth.

"It does not seem unreasonable to suppose that 500 to 1,000 million
years may have elapsed since the birth of the moon" (see Professor
Darwin's Presidential address at the meeting of the British Association
in Johannesburg on August 30th, 1905).

    P. 8, lines 27-9.--He is well aware of the odium he would incur
    should he proclaim his heterodox views concerning the popular

Nor is it easy for even a well-known man to get his heterodox views
published where they will be widely read. Sir Hiram Maxim wrote
lately to the Literary Guide concerning his letter in the "Do We
Believe?" correspondence, saying "it was necessary for my letter to
have a slight coating of ecclesiastical sugar, otherwise it would not
have been published." Does the Church realise the extent to which men
of science coat their popular writings with "ecclesiastical sugar"? The
retail bookselling trade in England is still largely in the hands of
persons belonging to the various sects, and, even where this is not
so, few dare to push the works of glaringly heterodox writers. As an
example of the difficulties which beset the way of a too truth-loving
author, we may notice that it took three years before 2,000 copies of
Mr. Samuel Laing's Modern Science and Modern Thought could be sold,
and its sale brought him no pecuniary profit.

    P. 19, lines 2-3.--He [Sir Oliver Lodge] has never yet professed
    belief in a personal God.

He has now done so. In an article entitled "First Principles of
Faith," appearing in the Hibbert Journal for July, 1906, he has
drawn up a new formula of faith, which commences: "I believe in one
Infinite and Eternal Being, a guiding and loving Father, in whom all
things consist." He continues: "I believe that the Divine Nature is
specially revealed to man through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lived
and taught and suffered in Palestine 1,900 years ago, and has since
been worshipped by the Christian Church as the immortal Son of God,
the Saviour of the world." This reconstructed Christian (?) creed has
been deftly worded; but this, at least, is clear--the Virgin-birth,
Resurrection, and Ascension form no part of the religious belief of Sir
Oliver Lodge. The full text of the "Catechism" which he has designed
for the use of teachers and others interested in the education of
the young appears in the Standard of December 14th, 1906.

    P. 20, line 31.--The religious naturally wish to discredit science.

It is a common assertion of the pious that modern science has
continually to retrace its steps, and admit that it was mistaken in
its facts and theories. The following pronouncement by Professor Ray
Lankester, in his Presidential Address at the annual meeting of the
British Association (held at York in 1906), should disillusion them:
"During the last few years an idea has spread abroad that some of
the more recent discoveries of science have revolutionised scientific
ideas--have upset former theories, or have reversed them. Nothing is
further from the truth."

    P. 25, lines 19-20.--They [Agnostics] "exhibit the very temper
    which Christ blesses."

Canon Scott Holland's precise words were: "It is no petulant boy
making his petulant repudiation, but a man with steady and deliberate
judgment, weighing, examining, testing, and still, at last to his own
sorrow, to his own confessed cost, bravely facing what he deems to
be the fact, and pronouncing, 'I am not of the Body; I cannot share
the life of the Christian community.' And yet, if we look at him,
we recognise in every detail of his character the lines that lead
to Christ. He illustrates and exhibits the very temper which Christ
blesses; he is pure, unselfish, humble, and good.... He may say what he
pleases, but Christ has not forsworn him." Subsequently he acknowledges
in moving terms that, as the populations are emerging from out of
their darkness, so they are repudiating the name of Christ. But he
gives no explanation for a circumstance so perplexing to a Christian.

Let me not be misunderstood to say that this extremely lenient view
towards the Agnostic is the usual one at present. On the contrary, the
Bishop of Moray voices the opinion of the majority of the orthodox when
(at the Diocesan Synod held at Inverness Cathedral in the autumn of
1904) he challenges the wisdom of this sympathetic attitude, and asks:
"Is this a time to banish into silence, or relegate to an inferior
position, the great bulwark of the Faith--the Athanasian Creed?" We
are to understand that the curses of the Creed are reserved, not for
the man who is born of heathen parents, but for the man who, often
with much uprooting of his dearest hopes, and at the cost of losing
many friends and even his original means of livelihood, decides that
he must forsake the Faith. It seems to me that, before converting the
heathen, it would be only fair that the terrible fate they will incur
by any subsequent recantation should be distinctly explained to them.

Again, the Rev. J. Morgan Gibbon, in his pamphlet, Atheism and Faith,
represents the Atheist in the guise of the Tempter "holding out the
bribe of free indulgence of all the passions to our youth, our working
classes, our governing classes, and our capitalists." Clergymen who
speak with such bitterness and make such sweeping assertions really
betray the weakness of their own case. For it is a psychological fact
that men are always angriest when they know they are not quite in
the right. It is also a statistical fact (so far as statistics can be
relied upon for facts) that crime among disbelievers is proportionately
small, while among the staunchest believers, the Roman Catholics,
it is proportionately large.

    P. 29, line 23.--Excite prejudice by the use of a condemnatory

The Riddle of the Universe was described as a "book of rubbish" by
Father Gerard, a member of the "Society of Jesus." He has not the
least authority for such an indictment. On the contrary, every single
biologist would tell him that he was himself talking rubbish. The
Turin Academy crowned it as the best book written in the last four
years of the nineteenth century. Clergymen seem to prefer to get
their science from apologetic works only. How many, I wonder, have
ever read the masterly exposition of the case for Haeckel--Haeckel's
Critics Answered, by Joseph McCabe?

    P. 30, lines 13-14.--"In relief of doubt."

A work entitled In Relief of Doubt, by the Rev. R. E. Welsh, a
Presbyterian minister, is an attempt by an exceedingly earnest man to
remove doubts concerning the Bible. There is an introductory note by
the Bishop of London. The book is written in what the Bishop terms a
"racy" style, and has the merit of much straightforwardness; but few
well-informed, and at the same time open-minded, readers would agree
with the conclusions of the author. The argument that St. Paul was
a contemporary of Christ is one of the principal features; but see
Chap. II., § 3, and Chap. III., § 2.

    P. 31, lines 27-8.--The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland.

In Priests and People in Ireland, by Michael McCarthy, there is a
complete exposé of the methods and results of Christian teaching in
this portion of the British Isles, and a portrait of a typical Roman
Catholic priest which demonstrates his elevating (?) influence. Also
see Twelve Years in a Monastery and Life in a Modern Monastery,
by Joseph McCabe.

    P. 33, lines 32-3.--The Roman Catholic Church is more consistent.

"The Papal Church, founded, to a large extent, on superstition
and ignorance, has ever been afraid of knowledge, of study, and
education; hence she only consulted her own life's interests when, in
the Middle Ages, she decreed knowledge to be identical with heresy,
and heresy to be punishable by death." These words are quoted from
The Roman Catholic Church in Italy, by the Rev. Alexander Robertson,
D.D., a book accorded a flattering reception by the King of Italy in
1903. Again, Lord Macaulay, speaking of the Roman Catholic Church
in the first chapter of his History of England, says that, "during
the last three centuries, to stunt the growth of the human mind has
been her chief object. Throughout Christendom, whatever advance has
been made in knowledge, in freedom, in wealth, and in the arts of
life, has been made in spite of her, and has everywhere been made
in inverse proportion to her power. The loveliest and most fertile
provinces of Europe have, under her rule, been sunk in poverty,
in political servitude, and in intellectual torpor."

    P. 38, line 7.--Gifts for the needy.

The exhortation to "give to the poor" is a precept of all the great
religions. Indiscriminate giving was inculcated by the disciples of
Christ, who were the poor, and Asiatic poor at that. The pity of
it is that often more harm than good is done because the "Divine"
command does not specify the deserving poor. Hence that wholesale
pauperisation of which the evil effects are especially apparent among
the Jews and in Oriental countries.

Chapter II.

    P. 44, lines 22-3.--Mansel, Mozley, Farrar, Westcott, on Miracles.

Dean Mansel said: "If there be one fact recorded in Scripture which
is entitled, in the fullest sense of the word, to the name of a
miracle, the Resurrection of Christ is that fact. Here, at least,
is an instance in which the entire Christian faith must stand or fall
with our belief in the supernatural.... A superhuman authority needs
to be substantiated by superhuman evidence, and what is superhuman
is miraculous" (pp. 3 and 35 of Aids to Faith, 4th ed.).

Canon Mozley said: "Miracles and the supernatural contents of
Christianity must stand or fall together" (Bampton Lectures, 1865).

Dean Farrar said: "However skilfully the modern ingenuity of
semi-belief may have tampered with supernatural interpositions, it is
clear to every honest and unsophisticated mind that, if miracles be
incredible, Christianity is false" (The Witness of History to Christ,
Hulsean Lectures for 1870, 2nd ed., p. 25).

Bishop Westcott said: "The essence of Christianity lies in a miracle,
and, if it can be shown that a miracle is either impossible or
incredible, all further inquiry into the details of its history
is superfluous from a religious point of view" (The Gospel of the
Resurrection, 3rd ed., 1874, p. 34). See also Archbishop Trench's
Notes on Miracles.

    P. 44, lines 28-9.--The opinion of the majority of our living

This has been made abundantly clear by the unanimous reply of a
large number of Bishops to a correspondent of the Record, who had
written letters to them stating that he had heard that "not a single
Bishop on the bench to-day believed in the miraculous in religion"
(reported in the daily papers towards the close of January, 1905).

    P. 48, lines 25-6.--Some even hold that it [devil-possession]
    still exists.

Thus, in the introduction to Pastor Hsi (a book of which 24,000
copies were printed between 1903 and 1905), the Rev. D. E. Hoste,
General Director of the China Inland Mission, not only expresses
this belief, but seeks to explain why devil-possession should now
be chiefly confined to heathen lands. "Careful observation and
study of the subject have," he says, "led many to conclude that,
although in lands where Christianity has long held sway the special
manifestations we are now considering are comparatively unknown,
the conditions among the heathen being more akin to those prevailing
when and where the Gospel was first propagated, it is not surprising
that a corresponding energy of the powers of evil should be met with
in missionary work to-day." He would have us believe, apparently,
that the atmosphere of holiness in Christendom is so overpowering
that the Devil and his crew are rendered less active! Taking him
seriously, can he also explain how it is that God permits devils
to perform such pranks? Not only is the house "swept and garnished"
that they may "enter in, and dwell there"; but in the case of Saul
we are told that they were purposely sent by God! (See Luke xi. 25,
26, and 1 Sam. xviii. 10 and xix. 9.)

The importance of this question is brought home to us by Mr. Benn in
his History of English Rationalism in the Nineteenth Century, where
he says (p. 454): "The witness of Jesus to the Fatherhood of God as
a personal spirit amounts to no more than his witness to personal
devils as authors of disease; and the witness of the Evangelists to
their Master's authorship of the Sermon on the Mount is less unanimous
than their witness to the destruction by diabolical agency of the
Gadarene swine."

    P. 49, lines 13-14.--The feeding of the five thousand.

Bishop Ingram attaches the utmost importance to the truth of this
miracle. In a sermon published in the Church Times of October 7th,
1904, he is reported to have said: "It is the worst policy of defence
to throw over the miracle of feeding the five thousand, or our Lord's
power over disease and death, and then expect to keep the faith of
the world in His incarnation, His Virgin-birth, and His resurrection."

    P. 61, line 14.--The simple theory of the spiritists.

Dr. Moncure Conway relates, in his Autobiography, how it was a
spiritualist séance which made him realise the kind of frenzy that
took possession of those early Christians who really believed that
a dead man had returned to life. See also Professor Lombroso on
"spiritualistic" phenomena, p. 396.

    P. 64, lines 20-1.--Few of us have ever had our belief tested.

Persons who have never spent their lives, or a portion of their
lives, among the heathen, have never had their faith put to the
fullest test, for in such an environment they would find faith's
difficulties considerably enhanced. I remember, a few days after my
arrival in India, a certain Bishop looking me in the face and, with a
kindly hand upon my shoulder, saying: "You will find life much more
difficult in India." He referred, of course, to the religious life,
and was quite right, although, probably, he was thinking chiefly of the
example that I should find set me by my fellow Christians; while, as
mine was largely a camp life, it was more the insight into the belief
of my native companions which affected me. There, all around you, are
simple folk believing in what you know to be absurd; you are brought
face to face with ignorance and superstition; you see how faith can
be misplaced, and how trusting natures can be deceived. It sets you
thinking whether, after all, you too may not be deceived; whether
the possession of an unlimited capacity for faith has the virtue in
it which the priest tells you it has, whether, in fact, faith is a
reliable guide. Should you attempt to convert an educated native,
you not only find that the task is hopeless, but that you are asking
him to accept a belief which is as unfounded and unproven as the one
he already holds. Anyone wishing to form some idea of an experience
of this sort should read The Bible: Is it the Word of God? by Thomas
Lumsden Strange, formerly a judge of the High Court of Madras. The
way the observations are cast in the shape of a conversation between a
student of the Bible and a cultured native of India brings home many
Bible difficulties which largely escape the notice and consideration
of the devout. I have taken my illustration from this book.

Chapter III.

    P. 77, lines 11-12.--Encyclopædia Biblica.

(My best thanks are due to Mr. C. T. Gorham for permitting me to make
a free use of his notes on the Enc. Bib.)

In case the reader may jump to the conclusion that this is a work
compiled by collecting the most heretical views from all parts of
the globe (as I was informed by the librarian when I inquired for
the book in a Cathedral library), let me call attention to the list
of contributors, among whom will be found many English ministers of
the Gospel. For instance:--

    The Rev. Archibald R. S. Kennedy, D.D., Professor of Hebrew and
    Semitic Languages, Edinburgh.

    The Rev. C. F. Burney, M.A., Lecturer in Hebrew, and Fellow of
    St. John's College, Oxford.

    The Rev. Claude Hermann Walter Johns, M.A., Hon. Sec. Camb. Pupil
    Teachers' Centre.

    The Rev. George Adam Smith, M.A., D.D., LL.D., Professor of Hebrew
    and Old Testament Exegesis, Free Church College, Glasgow.

    The Very Rev. J. A. Robinson, D.D., Dean of Westminster.

    The Rev. Owen Charles Whitehouse, M.A., Principal and Professor
    of Biblical Exegesis and Theology in the Countess of Huntingdon's
    College, Cheshunt, Herts.

    The Rev. R. H. Charles, M.A., D.D., Professor of Biblical Greek,
    Trinity College, Dublin.

    The Rev. Samuel Rolles Driver, D.D., Regius Professor of Hebrew,
    Canon of Christ Church, Oxford.

    The Rev. T. K. Cheyne, M.A., D.D., Oriel Professor of the
    Interpretation of Holy Scripture at Oxford, Canon of Rochester.

    The Rev. T. Witton Davies, B.A., Ph.D., Professor of Old Testament
    Literature, North Wales Baptist College, Bangor; Lecturer in
    Semitic Languages, University College.

    The Rev. William E. Addis, M.A., Lecturer in Old Testament
    Criticism, Manchester College, Oxford.

    The Rev. William Henry Bennett, Litt.D., D.D., Professor of
    Biblical Languages and Literature, Hackney College, London,
    and Professor of Old Testament Exegesis, New College, London.

    The Rev. William Sanday, D.D., LL.D., Lady Margaret Professor of
    Divinity, Canon of Christ Church, Oxford.

    The Rev. A. B. Davidson, D.D., Professor of Hebrew and Old
    Testament Exegesis, United Free Church New College, Edinburgh.

    The Rev. George Buchanan Gray, M.A., Professor of Hebrew, Mansfield
    College, Oxford.

The rapid advance of Bible criticism in late years is well seen by
comparing articles in Dr. W. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible (1860), in
the Encyclopædia Britannica, signed W. R. S. (between 1875 and 1888),
and in the Encyclopædia Biblica (1899 to 1903). Even the comparatively
conservative Hastings's Dictionary (1898-1902, with extra volume 1904)
contains articles which would have been condemned as heretical half
a century ago. Speaking of the Enc. Bib. and Hasting's Dictionary,
Mr. Benn remarks (in his History of Rationalism) that, "as regards the
Old Testament, their respective attitudes do not essentially differ,
Wellhausen's theory being accepted by both."

    P. 80, line 18.--We have note got the stone and read the

For a popular account of this interesting discovery (upon the site
of Susa, the ancient city of the Persian kings, in December, 1901)
see The Hammurabi Code, by Chilperic Edwards.

    P. 103, line 16-17.--A disputed passage in Tacitus.

The sceptical theory is that, had it been genuine, the passage would
not have been overlooked by all the early Christian writers in the
various disputations with objectors, and especially by Tertullian,
who quoted largely from his works, and the ecclesiastical historian
Eusebius, who was zealous in his defence of the Faith and greedy of
materials with which to support it. (An important French student
of Tacitus holds that the whole Annals is medieval!) On the other
hand, the style is thoroughly Tacitean, containing a number of
words and expressions elsewhere used by the author, and more or less
characteristic of him, yet without any such elaborate over-imitation
as we should expect to find even in a skilful forgery. Nor is the
subject-matter perhaps less characteristic, while the MS. evidence
is in favour of the passage being genuine. Taking it to be so,
what, after all, does it amount to? Merely this. Christ was put
to death by Pontius Pilate, and a very large number of Christians
were put to death in a horrible manner by Nero. The passage occurs
in Tacitus, Annals, XV., 44, and runs as follows: "Consequently,
to get rid of the accusation, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted
the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations,
called by the populace 'Christians.' Christus, from whom the name
had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of
Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate,
and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment,
again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil,
but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every
part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly,
an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their
information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the
crime of firing the city, as of hatred of mankind. Mockery of every
sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts,
they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or
were doomed to the flames and burnt to serve as a nightly illumination
when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle."

    P. 107, lines 19-20.--The true likeness of our Lord had been
    miraculously transmitted.

Presumably my informant was referring to the legend of St. Veronica,
since the equally absurd History of the Likeness of Christ (translated
by E. A. Wallis Budge) closes with these words: "And the angel took
the likeness from where it was standing, and he removed it; and no
man hath ever seen it since."

Chapter IV.

    P. 121, line 22.--Born in a cave.

"Justin Martyr the Apologist, who, from his birth at Shechem, was
familiar with Palestine, and who lived less than a century after the
time of our Lord, places the scene of the nativity in a cave. This is,
indeed, the ancient and constant tradition both of the Eastern and the
Western Churches, and it is one of the few to which, though unrecorded
in Gospel history, we may attach a reasonable probability" (see p. 20
of the cheap edition [1906] of Farrar's Life of Christ). The grotto of
the manger in the Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem is certainly a
cave. Embedded in the rock is a much-kissed silver star bearing the
inscription: "Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus natus est."

    P. 122, line 6.--Krishna was slain.

The Vishnu Purâna speaks of his being shot in the foot with an
arrow. Other accounts state that he was suspended on a tree. "On
raconte fort diversement la mort de Crishna. Une tradition remarquable
et avérée le fait périr sur un bois fatal (un arbre), ou il fut
cloué d'un coup de flèche" (quoted from Mons. Guigniaut's Religion de
l'Antiquité, by Higgins; Anacalypsis, vol. i., p. 144). In the accounts
given in the Mahâbhârata, Vishnu Purâna, and Bhagavat Purâna, the
slaying is unintentional, but predestined. There appears to have been a
crucifixion myth in ancient India; but Godfrey Higgins' assumption that
Krishna was crucified rests mainly on an oversight of the archæologist
Moor (see J. M. Robertson's Christianity and Mythology, pp. 294-9).

    P. 123, lines 24-5.--Almost every important episode of the life
    of Christ.

"With the remarkable exception of the death of Jesus on the cross
and of the doctrine of atonement by vicarious suffering, which is
absolutely excluded by Buddhism, the most ancient of the Buddhistic
records known to us contain statements about the life and the
doctrines of Gautama Buddha which correspond in a remarkable manner,
and impossibly by mere chance, with the traditions recorded in the
Gospels about the life and doctrine of Jesus Christ" (quoted from
p. 50 of Bunsen's Angel Messiah).

    P. 124, line 1.--Buddha was miraculously born.

Maya dreams that she is carried by archangels to heaven, and that there
the future Buddha enters her right side in the form of a superb white
elephant. Rhys Davids relates this legend on p. 183 of his Buddhism,
and in a footnote he says: "Csoma Korösi refers in a distant way
to a belief of the later Mongol Buddhists that Maya was a virgin
(As. Res. xx. 299); but this has not been confirmed. St. Jerome says
(Adversus Jovin., bk. 1): 'It is handed down as a tradition among the
Gymnosophists of India that Buddha, the founder of their system, was
brought forth by a virgin from her side.'" In Samuel Beal's Romantic
History of Buddha (from the Chinese version) we read of Buddha's
miraculous birth, and that there is ground to assume the prevalence
of this belief for centuries before Christ. Bunsen, again (p. x. of
his Angel-Messiah), speaks of the "Virgin Maya, on whom, according to
Chinese tradition, the Holy Ghost had descended"; and elsewhere (e.g.,
pp. 10 and 25) he adopts this version of the legend. Dr. Knowling,
in his apologetic work, Our Lord's Virgin Birth and the Criticism
of Today, pp. 53-4, lays stress upon the grotesqueness of the idea
that a man should enter his mother's womb in the form of a white
elephant. But, as Dr. Rhys Davids explains (p. 184 of Buddhism),
there is nothing bizarre when the origin of the poetical figure has
been ascertained. The belief was borrowed from the older sun-worship,
"the white elephant, like the white horse [cf. Rev. vi. 2 and xix. 11,
14], being an emblem of the sun, the universal monarch of the sky."

    P. 126, lines 1-2.--He was very early regarded as omniscient and
    absolutely sinless.

Dr. Rhys Davids's remarks on the early growth of myths concerning
Buddha, coming as they do from a champion of the Christian cause,
are full of significance for anyone who permits himself to think and
who keeps an open mind. He says (p. 182 of Buddhism): "The belief
soon sprang up that he could not have been, that he was not, born as
ordinary men are; that he had no earthly father; that he descended
of his own accord into his mother's womb from his throne in heaven;
and that he gave unmistakeable signs, immediately after his birth,
of his high character and of his future greatness."

We have a perfect illustration of the possibility and rapidity of
the legend-making process in the nineteenth century. The Bab (or
"gateway") was a Persian reformer who suffered martyrdom at the hands
of the authorities in 1850. Within forty years an evidently mythical
version of his life was current among his followers in the form of a
Gospel. Babism inculcates a high morality, and there is a likelihood of
its becoming paramount in Persia. For further information on this new
religion see Life and Teachings of Abbas Effendi, by Myron H. Phelps

    P. 127, line 10.--Born of the Virgin Isis.

It is true, as Dr. Knowling points out (p. 56 of The Virgin Birth),
and as I have personally seen, that in the inscriptions and scenes in
the temple of Luxor "we have at least some elements of the glorifying
of sensual desire which is so far removed from the chaste restraint
and simplicity of the Evangelists." But the parallel is not a whit
the less admissible because the same story appears in a fresh garb
to suit the higher ideals of a new religion.

    P. 130, note 1.--Mexican Antiquities.

Most of Viscount Kingsborough's life and fortune was devoted to his
illustrated work, Antiquities of Mexico (nine volumes and a portion
of a tenth volume, imperial folio, London, 1830-48). No anti-Christian
spirit inspired his labours; on the contrary, he attempted to prove a
Jewish migration to Mexico. Though the attempt failed, he bequeathed
to posterity an invaluable work on the ancient religion of Mexico.

    P. 131, line 26.--Healing miracles, such as those performed
    by Jesus.

Conyers Middleton, formerly principal librarian of Cambridge
University, tells us that in the temples of Æsculapius all kinds
of diseases were believed to be publicly cured, by the pretended
help of the Deity, in proof of which there were erected in each
temple columns of brass or marble, on which a distinct narrative of
each particular cure was described. There is a remarkable fragment
of one of these tables still extant, and exhibited by Gruter in
his collection (just as it was found in the ruins of the temple of
Æsculapius in the Tiber island), which gives an account of two blind
men restored to sight by Æsculapius, in the open view, and with the
loud acclamation of the people, acknowledging the manifest power of
the god. Compare St. Matthew ix. 27-30. Is it not truly marvellous to
think that exactly the same sort of thing is going on at the various
miracle-working shrines of Christendom at the present moment? Is it
not also surprising to hear certain divines in our own country speak
of the alleged miracles of the early Church as if they were real,
and as if it were a sort of lost art due to our poorer faith in modern
times? I am referring to sermons preached lately from various pulpits
on the subject of Christian Science and Faith-cures.

    P. 133, line 20.--Acted in Athens five hundred years before the
    Christian era.

In the Nineteenth Century for March, 1905, Mr. Slade Butler points out,
in his article on "The Greek Mysteries and the Gospel Narrative,"
that in the first century after Christ these mysteries, in one
form or another, had become the recognised religion of the Greek
world. Mr. Butler takes in turn all the main features of the Gospel
narratives, and shows their close resemblance to incidents of the
Greek mystery-dramas. The baptism of John, the triumphal procession in
honour of Jesus, His clearing of the temple, the cursing of the fig
tree, the Last Supper, the mocking of Jesus in His death-agony, are
shown to have striking parallels in the sacred mysteries of the Greeks.

    P. 133, line 23.--Even Bacchus ... was a slain Saviour.

Dupuis, The Origin of all Religious Worship, pp. 135 and 258; Higgins,
Anacalypsis, vol. ii., p. 102; Knight, The Symbolical Language of
Ancient Art and Mythology, p. xxii., note, and p. 98, note.

    P. 134, lines 7-8.--Pagan crucifixions of the young incarnate
    divinities of India, Persia, Asia Minor, and Egypt.

We have it on the authority of a Christian Father that the Pagans
adored crosses; for Tertullian, a Christian Father of the second and
third centuries, writing to the Pagans, says: "The origin of your
god is derived from figures moulded on a cross" (Apol., chap. xvi.;
Ad Nationes, chap. xii.). At the present moment, both in Europe
and America, the Egyptian cross or "life" sign is a fashionable
ornament, under the name of crux ansata (or cross with a handle). Its
pious wearers are, of course, quite unaware that it is the phallic
emblem! Could anything more conclusively demonstrate the prevailing
ignorance of comparative mythology? [393]

    P. 138, note.--The probable date of the origin of the story
    [of Buddha, Chinese version].

"A very valuable date, later than which we cannot place the origin
of the story, may be derived from the colophon at the end of the last
chapter of the book. It is there stated that the Abhinish Kramana Sûtra
is called by the school of the Dharmaguptas Fo-pen-hing-king.... We
know from the 'Chinese Encyclopædia,' Kai-yuen-shi-kian-mu-lu,
that the Fo-pen-hing was translated into Chinese from the Sanscrit
(the ancient language of Hindostan) so early as the eleventh year
of the reign of Wing-ping (Ming-ti), of the Han dynasty--i e., 69 or
70 A.D. We may therefore safely suppose that the original work was in
circulation in India for some time previous to that date." (Quoted from
the Introduction to Mr. S. Beal's Romantic History of Buddha.) Thus,
as the writer of the article on the Gospels in the Enc. Bib. observes,
when referring to the parallels: "The proof that the Buddhistic
sources are older than the Christian must be regarded as irrefragable."

    P. 148, line 21.--Modern non-Christian beliefs, Parallels in the
    rites of.

Very similar ceremonies are to be found among the heathen to-day. For
instance, something very like our Eucharistical rite is performed in
modern Japan. Looking on at a service in a Shinto temple, I was much
struck by the extraordinary similarity of the whole ceremony. It was
a sort of High Mass with Gregorian music. The blessed wafers are not
eaten on the premises, but are taken away by the worshippers to be
used in time of sickness. The worshippers, I may mention, were all
of the poorer and more ignorant classes.

    P. 150, line 10.--Their blood was drunk in the form of wine.

Regarding this, Mr. Grant Allen remarks: When Dionysus became the
annual or biennial vine-god victim, "it was inevitable that his
worshippers should have seen his resurrection and embodiment in the
vine, and should have regarded the wine it yielded as the blood of
the god."

    P. 156, lines 19-20.--Adopting their dates for the birth and death
    [and resurrection] of their Saviours.

At the winter solstice the sun seemed to the ancients to be commencing
its annual journey round the heavens. Accordingly, December 25th was
considered to be the sun's birthday, which was annually celebrated
by a great festival in many parts of the heathen world--in China,
India, Persia, Egypt, and also in ancient Greece, Rome, Germany,
Scandinavia, Great Britain, Ireland, and America. Similarly, at the
vernal equinox, the sun, which has been below the equator, suddenly
appears to rise above it, and so, usually upon a date calculated
by the pagan astronomers (and corresponding roughly to our Easter),
we find that throughout a considerable portion of the ancient world,
after mourning the sun's death (sometimes for a period of three days),
the Resurrection was celebrated with great rejoicings. Primitive man
regarded all sensible objects as instinct with a conscious life. He
noted the changes of days and years, and the objects which so changed
were to him as living things. The rising and setting sun, the return
of summer and winter, became a drama in which the actors were his
friends or enemies. It was no allegory, but, strange as it appears
to us now, all an absolute reality.

Christ's birth was ultimately placed at the winter solstice, the
birthday of the sun-god in the most popular cults; and, while that is
fixed as an anniversary, the date of the Crucifixion is made to vary
from year to year in order to conform to the astronomical principle
on which the Jews, following the sun-worshippers, had fixed their
Passover. This ignorance of the early Church concerning the dates
of the Jesus' birth, death, and "resurrection," is an exceedingly
suspicious circumstance. If the fundamental verities were an objective
fact to the early Christians, how could the dates have been so utterly
forgotten that dates belonging to idolatrous superstitions had to
be adopted? It is perplexing enough that God should have allowed the
memory of His Son's life on earth to be handed down for a considerable
time by tradition only; but that He should have permitted such lapses
of memory and the substitution of the dates of pagan festivals is
to me altogether inconceivable. It could not but raise suspicion
concerning His revelation in future thinking generations. We have a
certain knowledge of the dates of comparatively unimportant events
in the world's history, ages before the Christian era. If these
important dates could be forgotten, what else may not have been
forgotten; what else may not have been substituted in the place of
forgotten incidents? Again, did not the disciples and their converts
celebrate the anniversaries of these great events? And, if so, on
what dates? The question is of more importance than perhaps at first
sight it appears to be. The public will soon be asking the Church
for a satisfactory explanation, and she must be prepared to furnish
it. In the Daily Telegraph, during the Christmas of 1904, the public
were informed that "the most erudite archæologists and professors
of Church history confess that there is not a particle of evidence,
either Biblical or traditional, for the claim of December 25th to
be the birthday of Christ, and that everything goes to prove that
our existing festival of the Nativity was introduced to replace the
heathen festival of the 'sol invictus' in Southern Italy, and of the
Yule or Winter solstice festival among the ancient Teutons." Again, in
the Daily Graphic during the Easter of 1905, the public will have read
that "there is no particular sanctity in the 'Table to Find Easter,'
based as it is upon the calculations of a pagan astronomer who lived
four hundred years before Christ." In France the Christian names of the
four statutory holidays have been abolished by law. Christmas is called
the Festival of the Family, and so on. The time is coming, and is even
now at hand, when the English public will discover ugly facts about
Christianity without having to read books published by freethinking
firms--books which the parson advises us to leave severely alone.

    P. 160, lines 3-4.--Why do we hear so little of this great
    discovery from the pulpit?

The following from a sermon by the Bishop of Manchester, preached in
Manchester Cathedral on Sunday, September 4th, 1887, forms a striking
exception to the rule. "The sufficient answer," says the Bishop,
"to ninety out of a hundred of the ordinary objections to the Bible,
as the record of a divine education of our race, is given in that
one word--development. And to what are we indebted for that potent
word, which, as with the wand of a magician, has at the same moment so
completely transformed our knowledge and dispelled our difficulties? To
modern science, resolutely pursuing its search for truth in spite of
popular obloquy and--alas that one should have to say it--in spite
too often of theological denunciation!" (Quoted by Professor Huxley
in his essay on "An Episcopal Trilogy.") Would that there were equal
candour all round! But this indebtedness of theology to science in
spite of itself is certainly one of the many workings of the Holy
Spirit which are quite inexplicable. All the more so when we remember
that truth-seeking scientists are, nowadays, usually Agnostics.

    P. 165, lines 38-9.--A Mithraist could turn to the Christian
    worship and find his main rites unimpaired.

We have the witness of the Christian Fathers. Justin Martyr, after
describing the institution of the Lord's Supper (1 Apol., chap. 66),
goes on to say: "Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries
of Mithra, commanding the same thing to be done. For that bread and
a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic
rites of the one who is being initiated, you either know or can
learn." Tertullian intimates that "the devil, by the mysteries of
his idols, imitates even the main parts of the divine mysteries. He
also baptises his worshippers in water, and makes them believe that
this purifies them of their crimes. There Mithra sets his mark on
the forehead of his soldiers; he celebrates the oblation of bread; he
offers an image of the resurrection, and presents at once the crown
and sword; he limits his chief priest to a single marriage; he even
has virgins and his ascetics (continentes)." (Præscr. c. 40. Cp. De
Bapt. c. 5; De Corona, c. 15. Quoted on p. 322 of J. M. Robertson's
Pagan Christs.) We have also the witness of modern discoveries. For
example, Professor Franz Cumont, in his work, Les Mystères de Mithra,
gives a photograph of a recently-discovered bas-relief, representing
a Mithraic communion. On a small tripod is the bread, in the form of
wafers, each marked with a cross.

Chapter V.

    P. 172, lines 14-15.--Ignorance of the gist of the
    Darwinian theory, "natural selection," has been fruitful in

It is very necessary to understand exactly what the theory of natural
selection is and is not; because champions of the Faith, even when
believing in Evolution, base some of their arguments on the alleged
collapse of the Darwinian theory. Thus, in Present-day Rationalism
Critically Examined, the Rev. Professor George Henslow affirms that,
while the theory of Evolution stands on an impregnable basis, Haeckel's
Monism and Rationalistic agnosticism are based on Darwin's doctrine of
natural selection, and he enters upon an elaborate argument--covering
sixty pages of his book--to show that the origin of species by means
of natural selection is false, and that the primary cause of Evolution
is the definite action of the environment, combined with the adaptive
powers of the living organism. Such arguments, coming from a clergyman
having scientific attainments, are likely to impress the average
Christian reader and confuse the main issue. Natural selection is "the
action of the environment" (see The Origin of Species, chap. iv.),
and even if it were not, and if natural selection (or elimination)
were not the primary cause, the doctrine of the action of environment
will suit the Monist just as well.

Regarding the minor, but not unimportant, part played by sexual
selection, Darwin writes: "For my own part, I conclude that of all
the causes which have led to the differences in external appearance
between the races of men, and to a certain extent between man and the
lower animals, sexual selection has been by far the most efficient"
(Descent of Man, ed. 1871, ii., 367).

Scientists who are advocates of the Christian cause are not always
as candid as one could wish. While the Church cited Sir Richard
Owen "as an authority against the Darwinian theory, especially in
its application to man's descent, there remained in the memory of
his brother savants his lack of candour in never withdrawing the
statement made by him, and demonstrated by Huxley as untrue, that
the hippocampus minor in the human brain is absent from the brain of
the ape." (See p. 172 of Mr. Clodd's Pioneers of Evolution. See also
remarks by Sir Charles Lyell, pp. 485 and 486 of his work, Antiquity of
Man. On p. 290 he further tells us that "we may consider the attempt
to distinguish the brain of man from that of the ape on the ground of
newly-discovered cerebral characters, presenting differences in kind,
as virtually abandoned by its originator.")

    P. 205, lines 18-20.--That there are not more links missing is
    due principally to the discovery of fossil remains.

The greatest importance has been attached to a discovery in Java,
made in 1894 by Eugene Dubois. The remains consisted of the crown
of the skull, two teeth, and a femur belonging to a creature for
which the name Pithecanthropus erectus has been invented. This
pithecanthropus excited the liveliest interest as the long-sought
transitional form between man and the ape. Professor Haeckel writes
concerning this in his book, The Evolution of Man, vol. ii., p. 633:
"There were very interesting scientific discussions on it at the last
three International Congresses of Zoology (Leyden, 1895; Cambridge,
1898; and Berlin, 1901). I took an active part in the discussion at
Cambridge, and may refer the reader to the paper I read there." (It has
been translated by Dr. Gadow, under the title of The Last Link.) Since
then we have Professor Keasbey writing in 1901 that the remains have
been "pronounced genuine," and Professor Packard, in 1902, that it
is now "generally recognised."

Again, to give a still more recent "find," Dr. Andrews, who accompanied
the Geological Survey of Egypt, has (as mentioned by Professor Ray
Lankester in his lecture at the London Institution on November 2nd,
1906) discovered a remarkable skull (now in the Natural History Museum)
which is the connecting link between elephants, ancient and modern,
and other mammals.

There have also been discoveries of missing links among the living. The
duck-bill, a four-footed animal which lays eggs, is an important link
between reptiles and mammals. Cuvier, the celebrated French naturalist,
a persistent opponent of the evolutionary doctrines advanced by
Lamarck and Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, did not believe it possible that
any four-footed animal could lay eggs, and it was not till long after
his time, and, indeed, only quite lately, that the statements of the
natives were verified, and the eggs of the duck-bill actually found.

    P. 208, lines 14-18.--Enough has been said, I hope, to convince
    the reader that ... there is overpowering evidence against
    separate acts of creation, and in favour of an animal origin of
    the human race.

This Family Tree of Life will enable him to form a brain-picture of
the various steps in the evolutionary process:--

[Note.--It is now generally admitted that man goes back at least
200,000 years.]

[Illustration: Protoplasm plus Chlorophyll]

This diagram of development is taken from Edwards Clodd's work,
The Story of Creation, by the kind permission of Mr. Clodd and
Messrs. Longmans.

Note by Mr. Clodd.--The ascent of the higher life-forms from the
lower is more lateral than the lines indicate, but the diagram is
only a rough attempt to show the relative places of the leading groups.

    P. 218, lines 14-15.--The dogmas of sin and its atonement.

"Astronomers tell us that there are some 500,000,000 suns visible
from our earth, many if not most of them larger than our sun, and all
of them presumably surrounded by planets at least as important as our
earth; and to maintain the old theological view of the supreme value of
this little insignificant planet in the eyes of the 'Almighty Ruler'
of such a universe, or to suppose that He would send His 'Only Son'
to die for us little cosmic microbes, is presumption which, when one
thinks of it, really seems to amount to insanity" (quoted from p. 108
of Richard Harte's Lay Religion).

Chapter VI.

    P. 220, line 1.--Deism denies Christianity.

"God," says Canon Liddon, "is banished from the world by deism, which
puts nature in His place" (Some Elements of Religion, pp. 56-7). The
seventeenth and eighteenth-century deists, however, did not deny the
personality of God, but the fact of revelation. "In recent theology
deism has generally come to be regarded as, in common with theism,
holding in opposition to atheism that there is a God, and in opposition
to pantheism that God is distinct from the world, but as differing
from theism in maintaining that God is separate from the world,
having endowed it with self-sustaining and self-acting powers, and
then abandoned it to itself" (Enc. Brit., art. "Theism").

    P. 221, line 8.--"What it is to be a Christian."

Archdeacon Wilson avers that "We dare not deny the name of Christian
to such as live in Christ's spirit and do His will, though they
know not for certain how God manifested himself in Christ, and will
not profess a certainty they do not feel." Again, he argues that
"We rest on the broad ground of the vast experience of the world,
and the testimony of our own conscience, that Christ has lifted
mankind up, and shown man what is good; and this we may describe
as bringing man to God, and revealing God to man. This redemption,
salvation, we acknowledge as a fact. He who has this faith in Christ,
and lets it work its natural result in making him more like Christ,
deserves to be called a Christian." This does, indeed, give plenty of
latitude--far more, in fact, than the Church as a body seems likely
to give for some time to come. It, and the Rev. R. J. Campbell's "New
Theology," will certainly enable many who are in reality non-Christian
theists to continue calling themselves Christians.

    P. 224, note.--"Haeckel's Critics Answered."

In the chapter on "God" there is a striking exposition of the very
latest arguments for and against Theism. The opinions of Messrs. Ward,
Newman, Smythe, Le Conte, Fiske, W. N. Clarke, Croll, Aubrey Moore,
Iverach, Dallinger, Ballard, Rhondda Williams, Profeit, Kennedy,
W. James, and Royce are all considered. Many pious Christians may
have read the apologists' criticisms of Haeckel's well-known work, The
Riddle of the Universe, but few will have studied the work itself, and
still fewer these clear and convincing replies to the criticisms. It
cannot be on account of the cost, as a copy of the cheap edition of
either of these works can be obtained for 4 1/2d.

    P. 253, lines 25-6.--Some such psychical experiences largely
    account for religious superstitions.

With regard to phenomena at present popularly known as spiritualistic,
but for which scientists have now adopted the term "metapsychical,"
the following declaration by Professor Lombroso (appearing in the
review La Lettura, November, 1906) is of considerable interest. "As
the result," he writes, "of our researches, I have been bound to admit
the conviction that these phenomena are of colossal importance, and
that it is the plain duty of science to direct attention towards them
without delay." N.B.--The Professor, when interviewed subsequently by
the Turin correspondent of the Standard, repudiated any suggestion of
supernatural agency, and said: "All spiritualistic phenomena can be
understood and explained without any reference to the intervention of
the supernatural. Spiritualists affirm that the soul is an emanation
from God, while I contend that it is an emanation of the brain. This is
the whole thing in a nutshell. You therefore see how, from this point
of view, I cannot be called a spiritualist--at least, in the sense
in which the term is generally understood. Almost all spiritualistic
phenomena can be classed among those positive facts which science
can explain." However, in an article contributed by him to the Grand
Magazine for January, 1907, and entitled "Why I became a Spiritualist,"
Professor Lombroso admits that he has felt himself "compelled to
yield to the conviction that spiritualistic phenomena, if due in
great part to the influence of the medium, are likewise attributable
to the influence of extra-terrestrial existences, which may, perhaps,
be compared to the radio-activity which still persists in tubes after
the radium which originated them has disappeared." Professor Cesare
Lombroso, it may be mentioned, is Professor of Psychiatry at the
University of Turin, and the author of standard works on criminology,
hypnotism, and psychology, as well as of a number of valuable treatises
relating to cerebral study. Two of his publications, Man of Genius
(1891) and Female Offender (1895), have been issued in English.

The phenomena Professor Lombroso refers to are those which have induced
such eminent scientists as Wallace, Lodge, Hyslop, Barrett, and Crookes
to remain or to become supernaturalists. One, and to my mind the chief,
reason why these metapsychical phenomena are, as Professor Lombroso
tells us, of colossal importance--why science should direct attention
towards them without delay--is that, so soon as they are universally
acknowledged to be manifestations occurring in obedience to one of
Nature's laws--a law as yet not fully understood--the last excuse for
belief in the supernatural will have vanished. Supernaturalism will
receive its death-blow, and Rationalism be infused with fresh life.

    P. 254, line 28.--Professor James--an earnest champion of religion.

In defining his philosophic position he admits his own "inability
to accept either popular Christianity or scholastic Theism" (see
his Postscript, p. 521). He is of opinion that both the metaphysical
argument for God's existence and the arguments for a God with moral
attributes must be rejected, and "the man who is sincere with himself
and the facts, but who remains religious still," must soothe "his
perplexed and baffled intellect" with "a trustful sense of presence"
(ibid, pp. 445-8). A careful perusal of his book, however, makes it
tolerably clear that this feeling of the presence of Spiritual Beings
is simply a hallucination.

    P. 256, lines 22-26.--There has never yet been a case of a
    Mohammedan or a Hindoo, or any other non-Christian, who, without
    having heard of Christianity, has had a revelation of Christian

Chet Ram, the founder of a sect whose numbers, according to the
last Indian census, "are increasing day by day," began by being
a Hindu, and then became the disciple of a Mohammedan fakir in the
Punjab. After following him for some years he had what he described as
a vision of Christ, who revealed Himself as the author of salvation,
and commanded him (Chet Ram) to build a church and to place within
it the Bible. He was himself illiterate, but immediately began to
proclaim the divinity of Christ, and was soon followed by disciples
recruited alike from the Hindus and the Moslems. It is "religious"
experiences such as these which continue to deceive even educated
men and women, and hinder the growth of Rationalism.

Chapter VII.

    P. 285, lines 10-11.--The ghastly death of the witch.

"It is impossible to leave the history of witchcraft without reflecting
how vast an amount of suffering has, in this respect at least,
been removed by the progress of rationalistic civilisation.... It
is probable that no class of victims endured sufferings so unalloyed
and so intense.... All these sufferings were the result of a single
superstition, which the spirit of Rationalism has destroyed." (See
pp. 137-8 of Lecky's Rationalism in Europe, Longmans, Green, &
Co., 1904.)

    Pp. 290-96, and p. 294, note 4.

The following are some further notes on the spread of Christianity:--

When, after more than three centuries, the spread became fairly rapid,
owing, as we have seen, to circumstances of a distinctly mundane
character, what was the effect on public morality? The Roman Empire
passed its zenith in the first half of the second century--under
Stoics. Historians agree that it was declining all through the third
century. On the other hand, it was making fresh progress morally
in the fourth century. It deteriorated morally after A.D. 380-90,
the date of the triumph of Christianity! Do these facts bear out the
Christian contention that Christianity purifies empire?

If we continue the history of Christianity's spread, we find
similar samples of Divine Providence and similar samples of moral
progress. Take, for instance, the facts connected with the conversion
of the barbarians, as related by the author of the apologetic work,
Beneficial Influence of the Ancient Clergy. We learn that "Many
a deviation from primitive simplicity, dangerous though it might
justly seem to the integrity of the Roman faith, was productive of
consequences the most momentous to tribes who reverenced principally
the pomp and mysterious ceremony attendant on the faith which they
embraced, and would have scorned to bow down before priests or
altars whose faultless humility merely recalled the rude shrines
of their native forests." Also we learn that "the lavish piety of
barbarian sovereigns" directed "the plunder of suffering lands into
the capacious coffers of the Church." Although this led to "the most
fatal period of clerical corruption," our apologist is yet able to
see in it the guiding hand of Providence establishing "the constant
grandeur of the ecclesiastical edifice"!

In Central Europe it was by force of arms that Charlemagne succeeded
in spreading Christianity. "It cannot be doubted," we are told,
"that the conquering hosts of the Franks were far more effective
in the conversion of Central Europe than could have been the most
self-denying of missionaries, or the most undoubtedly miraculous of
Italian relics." This fresh spread took place towards the close of the
eighth century. After a hundred years or so for the leaven to work,
we should expect to see a distinct advance in morality among both
the clergy and the laity. We find, on the contrary, that during the
whole of the tenth century the spectacle presented by society was
"revolting." "Not only did the clerical body present sure tokens of
that gigantic cancer which was wasting the energies of the Church,
but their degeneracy was relieved by nothing that was noble or
praiseworthy among the laity."

    P. 315, lines 3-4.--The Rationalistic explanation of that essence
    of the "religious instinct," belief in an after-life.

"Eternity is at best but an artificial idea; in reality, it is no true
idea at all, since we cannot conceive it; it is only the negation of
an idea, being, in fact, the negation of that which passes away. When
we begin discussing eternity we see that, from the point of view of
natural science, nothing is eternal except the ultimate particles
of matter and their forces; for no one of the thousandfold phenomena
and combinations under which matter and force present themselves to
us can be eternal" (Weismann on Heredity, vol. ii., p. 74 [Oxford,
Clarendon Press, 1892]).

Chapter VIII.

    P. 331, lines 15-16.--A kind of undefined, but nevertheless potent
    and serviceable, religion.

The Rev. Henry Scott Jeffreys, of Sendai, contributed a paper,
entitled "Some of the Native Virtues of the Japanese People," to the
Japan Evangelist. The following are some, out of many, exceedingly
significant admissions:--"After seven years' residence among this
people, I wish to place on record my humble testimony to their native
virtues. I refer to virtues that belong to the Japanese people without
reference to their faith. In this connection it may be said that
perhaps the most remarkable part is their devotion to ethics alone,
utterly divorced from religion. They love virtue for its own sake,
and not from fear of punishment or hope of reward.... They have
eliminated from their system of ethics not only heaven and hell,
but God also.... To be sure, there are religions (so-called), both
native and foreign; but they have little effect upon the popular
conscience.... The conversion of this people to the Christian faith
is a most complex and perplexing problem; not because they are so bad,
but because they are so good."

    P. 334, lines 29-31.--Crime and bad lives will be the measure of
    a State's failure.

It is customary to scout the idea of State control as the panacea
for social evils. One is warned against grandmotherly legislation,
interference with the liberty of the private individual, etc. I may
be permitted, therefore, to give an illustration of its beneficial
effect. The Gothenburg system, by which the liquor traffic is
judiciously controlled, has, in spite of all opposition, fought
its way victoriously, and is now adopted, although partly modified,
in most towns in Sweden, and also in Norway and Finland. Thus the
evil effects of drink have been considerably mitigated; intemperance,
pauperism, and vice have been reduced. Would not legislation of this
nature for the removal of England's greatest curse be far better than
half-hearted measures that are palliative rather than remedial? Now
that the Church has taken up the temperance cause, could she not bring
her great influence to bear towards the introduction of some such
system, pitting herself against vested interests? Remarkable work is
being carried on by the Danish temperance societies on the basis of
allowing their members to regard beer of low alcoholic strength as
a temperance beverage. Australia has been watching New Zealand in
the matter of drink reform, and the Government of New South Wales,
at any rate, has found it necessary to fulfil pledges given at the
last general election, with the result that, among a certain class,
there is an immense diminution in the temptation to drink. Where
the nature of the case demands it, more drastic remedies must be
applied. Thus Belgium has forbidden the very presence of absinthe
within her borders, and in Switzerland--in some of the cantons, at
all events--the authorities have made up their minds to prohibit the
manufacture and sale of absinthe. Even in China an edict has now been
promulgated for the abolition of the use of opium, and an anti-opium
movement is spreading which bids fair to embarrass the interested
abettor of the vice--a Christian Government.

In their volume, The Making of the Criminal (Macmillan & Co.),
Messrs. C. E. B. Russell and L. M. Rigby confirm the now generally
accepted view that it is, as a rule, between the ages of sixteen
and twenty-one that the habitual criminal is made, and show that
juvenile crime is a product of the wretched economic, social, and
family condition in which so many unhappy children are born and have to
live. The criminal is also recruited, as Dr. W. D. Morrison points out
(in a review of their book appearing in the Tribune, December 12th,
1906), from those whose home and social antecedents may be good
enough, but who are themselves either mentally or physically below
the average of the general community, and who, therefore, when times
are bad, drift insensibly into crime. When to all this unfavourable
environment we add an unfavourable heredity, we get a conjunction of
circumstances against which it is quite impossible for the unfortunate
to contend, even though he be aided by the "gift of freewill" and
by all the intercessory prayers of the Churches. The Borstal system
and other remedies recommended in The Making of the Criminal are
excellent in their way, but can be regarded only as palliatives. They
deal with the criminal after he has been made. What is wanted is,
to quote Dr. Morrison, "a wise and progressive statesmanship which
will cut off crime at its roots--a statesmanship which will devote
itself with care and foresight to ameliorating the whole material
and moral conditions of existence of the workman, the woman, and the
child." And this statesmanship will take an enlightened view of the
population question, recognising that it is in the diminution of the
struggle for existence, not in the rise of the birth-rate, that the
material and moral condition of the people can be ameliorated.

    P. 336, note.--Psychical research will lead to the discovery
    of a complete and scientific method for the toughening of our
    moral fibres.

A quarter of a century ago Proctor remarked (see pp. 203-4 of his
essays, Rough Ways Made Smooth) that the phenomena of hypnotism
"promise to afford valuable means of curing certain ailments, and
of influencing in useful ways certain powers and functions of the
body." He recognised "possibilities which, duly developed, might
be found of extreme value to the human race." Since these words
were uttered this branch of science has not stood still, and there
seems every prospect that his prophecy will be fulfilled in the near
future. There are now cliniques for hypnotic treatment in France
(Dr. Bérillon's in Paris, for example), Germany, Belgium, Sweden,
Holland, Switzerland, and America. "The commencement of the present
revival of hypnotism in England, from its medical side, was apparently
due to Dr. Lloyd Tuckey, who happened to be in the neighbourhood
of Nancy in August, 1888, and visited Liébeault out of curiosity"
(see p. 35 of Dr. Milne Bramwell's Hypnotism: Its History, Practice,
and Theory [Alexander Moring, Hanover Square, London; 2nd ed., 1906]).

The following are some of the facts about the matter which should be
clearly understood and widely made known:--

(1) "The object of all hypnotic treatment ought to be the development
of the patient's control of his own organism" (see p. 436 of Hypnotism:
Its History, Practice, and Theory).

(2) The hypnotic control may be obtained without any effort on the
part of the operator, the effort formerly supposed to be required
being purely imaginary, and the hypnotic state being, in fact, obtained
without any operation whatever. Indeed, it has now been found that for
curative purposes the "suggestion" may be conveyed without throwing
the patient into the hypnotic condition, and that anyone not absolutely
an idiot or insane may be amenable to the treatment.

(3) "Both 'Scientist' [the author is speaking of Christian Scientists]
and Suggestionist also use the same method for creating belief--namely,
Assertion.... Assertions are not made clumsily, ignorantly, and at
random, as assertions are in our daily intercourse, but are made
skilfully, with a purpose, and with a knowledge of the effects
they will produce" (see p. 9 of the late Richard Harte's The New
Psychology; or, The Secret of Happiness [Fowler & Co., London and
New York]). Is this one of the reasons why the believer is able
to continue a believer in spite of all disproof? Certainly he is
constantly repeating assertions, and sometimes these must get through
to his subliminal consciousness--his subjective mind.

(4) Auto-suggestion. The suggestion should be made when you are
composing yourself to sleep. Dr. Bramwell tells me that the best time
is on first waking in the morning, before dozing off again.

(5) "Many cases of functional nervous disorder have recovered
under hypnotic treatment after the continued failure of other
methods.... Further, the diseases which frequently respond to
hypnotic treatment are often those in which drugs are of little or
no avail. For example, what medicine would one prescribe for a man
who, in the midst of mental and physical health, had suddenly become
the prey of an obsession?" (see p. 435 of Hypnotism: Its History,
Practice, and Theory).

(6) "The volition is increased and the moral standard raised" (see
p. 437 of Hypnotism, etc.). "Experience proves that 'principles'
instilled into anyone while in the hypnotic condition become
irrevocably [?] fixed in the mind" (p. 3 of Richard Harte's Hypnotism
and the Doctors). Thus degenerates, dipsomaniacs, morphinomaniacs,
kleptomaniacs, sexual perverts, and other unfortunates, may be

(7) "'Suggestion' is of universal application, and of incalculable
power for good in almost every department of human life.... The
three principal ways in which suggestion (which has been called 'the
active principle' of hypnotism) affects human beings beneficially,
in addition to curing diseases, are: By facilitating education;
by preventing crime, and reforming the criminal; and by raising
the general standard of manliness--of courage, of independence of
character, and of respect for self and others" (ibid, pp. 2-4).

Note.--"The Medical Society for the Study of Suggestive Therapeutics"
was constituted at the close of 1906. Let us hope that it will soon
rival the flourishing French Société d'Hypnotisme et de Psychologie.

    P. 337, lines 5-6.--It is the quality, not the quantity, of our
    children that we have to keep to the forefront.

"This is the great problem in a nutshell: to improve the quality and
diminish the quantity of mankind--that is, in proportion to the means
of securing for each a truly human life." "Is not the quality rather
than the quantity of children the thing to be aimed at?" (Mona Caird
and Lady Grove on "The Position of Women," see pp. 118 and 128 of
the Fortnightly Review for July, 1905). Besides, "if we continued to
maintain the high birth-rate of the mid-Victorian epoch, it is certain
that, in the course of a few generations, there would be no elbow-room
left in our little islands. Already, indeed, Great Britain is, from
many points of view, over-populated. If all the people who are now
crowded together in the slums of our great towns were scattered over
the country, there would be practically no country left. England would
have become a vast suburb. That is not an ideal to which any patriotic
Englishman would care to look forward. Space and quiet are essential
for the development of some of the best qualities of human beings,
and those persons who too hastily regret a decline in the birth-rate
must explain how they propose to reconcile these essentials with an
unlimited increase of our present population" (The Daily Graphic,
August 7th, 1905, art. "A Declining Birth-rate").

Over-population spells strife, squalor, vice,
crime--misery. Dr. Barnardos and "General" Booths may get over the
"unemployed" difficulty by schemes for emigration to Canada and
elsewhere; but this is, at best, only a very temporary remedy. As it
is, thousands of white men are living and dying in climates for which
they are unadapted; while in some cases--in certain portions of Africa,
for example--they are ousting and making life a burthen to the races
that are adapted. We have only to look far enough ahead to discover
that the time must come when the world would so teem with human-kind
that even a Bishop of London or a President Roosevelt would have to
cry "Hold! Enough!"

At the present moment this problem presses for a very early solution
in India. For many months in the year, as I have again and again seen
with my own eyes, masses of the agricultural population are entirely
without employment. Hence the constantly recurring famines, or partial
famines, in years of bad or indifferent rainfall. The population
problem, being intimately connected with many another problem, is
one of the utmost gravity; but, so long as men hold that to increase
and multiply is the command of God and a duty we owe to the State,
it will never be rightly, never be sensibly, solved. P.S.--Millions
are starving in China now (February, 1907).

    P. 345, line 3.--The Moral Instruction League.

The object of the Moral Instruction League (19, Buckingham Street,
Strand, London, W.C.) is to introduce systematic non-theological moral
instruction into all schools, and to make the formation of character
the chief aim of school life. Their contention is--and it seems a
wise one--that ethical principles on which we all agree should not be
associated in the schools of the State with theological principles
on which we all differ. Already certain education authorities are
providing for systematic moral instruction of a purely secular
nature. In the West Riding scheme it is expressly stated that it
is to be "part of the secular instruction," while the Cheshire
scheme emphatically lays down that the moral instruction must be
non-theological. The authorities of Groton, Blackpool, Norwich, York,
and elsewhere, have supplied all the teachers of their schools with
copies of the Moral Instruction League's Graduated Syllabus of Moral
Instruction for Elementary Schools. The West Riding Education Authority
has adopted the Syllabus, and it is now in use in the 1,270 schools,
Provided and Non-Provided, of that authority. In addition to these,
numerous education authorities have decided to make provision for
moral instruction a part of the secular instruction in their schools.

So much that is untrue has been said about the results of a purely
secular education by its strenuous opponents that it is high time for
the real truth to be known. This my readers will find in Mr. Joseph
McCabe's tractate, The Truth About Secular Education: Its History
and Results (Watts & Co., 1906, paper covers, 6d.).

Among some excellent works intended to assist parents and
teachers in the non-theological character-training of children,
I may mention F. J. Gould's The Children's Book of Moral Lessons,
in three series (Watts & Co.), Hackwood's Notes of Lessons on Moral
Subjects, Alice Chesterton's The Garden of Childhood (Sonnenschein),
Dr. Felix Adler's The Moral Instruction of Children (Edward Arnold),
the Moral Instruction League and also the Leicester Syllabus,
and A. J. Waldegrave's A Teacher's Handbook of Moral Lessons
(Sonnenschein). Dr. F. H. Hayward's Secret of Herbart, a powerful
appeal to the teacher on the scope and urgency of his moral mission,
is now re-issued at 6d. (Watts). The translation of Dr. F. W. Förster's
Lebenskunde, a book replete with illustrative matter for the teacher,
has been undertaken by the Moral Instruction League. Mr. W. M. Salter's
essay, "Why Live a Moral Life?" is of exceptional merit. This and
other ethical essays may be obtained from the Secretary of the Union of
Ethical Societies, 19, Buckingham Street, Strand, W.C.; price one penny
each. One of the most important contributions to ethical sociology that
has appeared for many years is a work in two vols. entitled Morals in
Evolution (Chapman & Hall; 1906), by Mr. L. T. Hobhouse. I venture
to predict that it will ere long be recognised as the standard work
on the subject. Mr. Hobhouse, it should be noted, never wavers in
his assertion of the supremacy of ethics over all phases of religion.

    P. 350, line 15.--The practices of the Latin and Greek Churches.

Diaries recounting the sights seen by a lord of high degree in 1465
were published in 1851 by the Literary Society of Stuttgart. They
include an interesting account of all the shrines and relics seen
during his travels through Western Europe. The account of the relics
which he saw in our own Canterbury Cathedral admits of no curtailment:
"First we saw the head-band of the Blessed Virgin, a piece of Christ's
garment, and three thorns from His Crown; then we saw the bedstead
of St. Thomas and his brain, and the blood of St. Thomas and of
St. John the Apostles. We saw also the sword with which St. Thomas of
Canterbury was beheaded; the hair of the Mother of God, and a part
of the Sepulchre. There was also shown to us a part of the shoulder
of the Blessed Simeon, who bore Christ in his arms; the head of the
blessed Lustrabena; one leg of St. George; a piece of the body and
the bones of St. Lawrence; a leg of the Bishop of St. Romanus; a cup
of St. Thomas, which he had been accustomed to use in administering
the Sacrament at Canterbury; a leg of the Virgin Milda; a leg of the
Virgin Eduarda. We also saw a tooth and a finger of St. Stephen the
Martyr; bones of the Virgin Catherine, and oil from her sepulchre,
which is said to flow to this day; hair of the blessed Virgin
[sic!] Magdalene; a tooth of St. Benedict; a finger of St. Urban;
the lips of one of the infants slain by Herod; bones of the blessed
Clement; bones of St. Vincent. Very many other things were also shown
to us, which are not set down by me in this place." Very many other
things have also been shown to me during my travels abroad (from
St. Anne de Beaupré in Quebec to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
in Jerusalem) which are not set down by me in this place, and I may
say that the grotesqueness of the frauds that are perpetrated is only
equalled by the gross ignorance and credulity of the worshippers. The
number of these "relics" scattered over Christendom must amount to
thousands upon thousands. To stop the traffic in them, there is now a
regulation that if you buy a relic you commit mortal sin. The relics
are still sold, however; only the price is said to be for the frame
or for the trouble, or something to that effect. For a description
of La Bottega del Papa (the Pope's shop) or La Santa Bottega (the
Holy Shop) see Dr. Robertson's book, The Roman Catholic Church in
Italy. Regarding the early Church, see Bible Myths, pp. 434-40.

    P. 359, lines 7-10.--Some of our greatest divines ... condemn
    obscurantism and the odium theologicum.

We have a striking example of this in Dean Farrar's tractate, The
Bible and the Child (James Clarke & Co., 1897). The passage runs
as follows: "There are a certain number of persons who, when their
minds have become stereotyped in foregone conclusions, are simply
incapable of grasping new truths. They become obstructionists, and
not infrequently bigoted obstructionists. As convinced as the Pope
of their own personal infallibility, their attitude towards those who
see that the old views are no longer tenable is an attitude of anger
and alarm. This is the usual temper of the odium theologicum. It
would, if it could, grasp the thumbscrew and the rack of mediæval
Inquisitors, and would, in the last resource, hand over all opponents
to the scaffold or the stake. Those whose intellects have been thus
petrified by custom and advancing years are, of all others, the most
hopeless to deal with. They have made themselves incapable of fair
and rational examination of the truths which they impugn. They think
they can, by mere assertion, overthrow results arrived at by the
life-long inquiries of the ablest student, while they have not given
a day's serious or impartial study to them. They fancy that even the
ignorant, if only they be what is called orthodox, are justified in
strong denunciation of men quite as truthful, and often incomparably
more able than themselves. Off-hand dogmatists of this stamp, who
usually abound among professional religionists, think that they can
refute any number of scholars, however profound and however pious,
if only they shout 'Infidel' with sufficient loudness."

    P. 367, lines 21-2.--Did not slavery flourish side by side with
    the Christian Church?

Serfdom in England was fully extinguished only in 1600, and the Act for
the Abolition of Slavery throughout the British Colonies was passed
only in 1833. For eighteen long centuries Christianity countenanced
the atrocious inhumanities of the slave trade. The very irons used by
the native chiefs for shackling the prisoners when handing them over to
the Christian traders were made in Birmingham, and the greatest horrors
of slavery have been exhibited only under the rule of the Christian
slave-owner. We can form some idea of the inhumanity then displayed
from the treatment of the coloured races by the white man in Africa
to-day. Read, for instance, the accounts of the Congo atrocities, or
of the German Colonial scandals. Read, again, some home-truths about
our own Colonies in Labour and other Questions in South Africa, by
Medicus (T. Fisher Unwin, 1903). The white man has indeed a burden
to bear--the burden of his own iniquity. Regarding negro slavery,
Dr. Westermarck clearly shows (in his work, The Origin and Development
of the Moral Ideas) that "this system of slavery, which, at least
in the British Colonies and the slave States, surpassed in cruelty
the slavery of any pagan country, ancient or modern, was not only
recognised by Christian Governments, but was supported by the large
bulk of the clergy, Catholic and Protestant alike."

    P. 368, lines 25-8.--The Christian Church has been more cruel
    and shed more human blood than any other Church or institution
    in the world. Let the Jew bear witness among the crowd of victims.

History is repeating itself to-day, and my previous allusions to the
present situation in Russia are all too brief. I would ask my readers
kindly to put to themselves the following crucial questions: To what
party do the religious bigots and their partisans belong? Is it not to
the reactionary party, the party that sets its face against reform? On
what do the reactionaries chiefly rely for the retention of their hold
upon the bulk of the people? Is it not on a peasantry wallowing in
ignorance and steeped in superstition? What are the actual instruments
employed for maintaining their power? Do they not consist of corrupt
officials and cruel Cossacks? Who are responsible for shameless acts of
persecution, and, indeed, very largely for all the bloodshed, strife,
and anarchy? Is it not the orthodox Church and her supporters? Is it
too much to say, with the Rev. J. Lawson-Forster, that "the Russian
Church has become the tool of murderers"? (Mr. Lawson-Forster expressed
himself in these words when presiding at the great public meeting held
at the Brondesbury Synagogue to protest against the recent outrages
in Russia.) To what party do the Freethinkers belong? Are they not
all, everyone of them, adherents of the party desirous of reform
and of religious toleration? With regard to religious persecution
generally, Christians might study with advantage Buckle's History of
Civilisation in England, or Lecky's History of the Rise and Influence
of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe, or C. T. Gorham's Faith: Its
Freaks and Follies (Rationalist Press Association), or the latest work
on the subject, Religious Persecution, by E. S. P. Haynes (Duckworth;
a revised edition has now been issued by the R. P. A. at 6d.). Few
realise that the favourite method for overcoming the scruples of the
heretic--torture--was used in England so late as 1640.

    Pp. 371-2, lines 31 and 1-3.--History, viewed as a whole,
    is nothing but a succession of struggles for existence among
    rival nations.

If Major Murray had stopped short at offering us a somewhat highly
coloured picture of the past and present conditions ruling among
Christian nations, and at inculcating the necessity of our being in
readiness to face the inevitable, few of us would be found to quarrel,
in the main, with his conclusions. But when he tells us that "Peace
never has been, and never will be [italics are mine], as long as the
passions of mankind endure, more than a lull between the storms of
war," then the better-informed and peace-loving Rationalist will beg
to differ with him. He feels that this gospel of universal hatred is
being carried too far. Never is a very long time. Major Murray says:
"No great nation will ever submit to arbitration any interest that it
regards as absolutely vital." Did not our British forefathers think,
and with more reason, that "men of honour" could settle their disputes
only by the duel? May we not trust that the decisions of learned
and unbiassed judges will be equitable, and therefore that their
acceptance will redound to the honour of the great nations concerned?

Natural selection, or, as we have elsewhere called it, natural murder,
ceased to have full power over men on the day that man commenced to
control his environment. Since then he has been constantly engaged in
making nature do some work for him, in altering the environment in
which he finds himself instead of letting it alter him. Now that he
is equipped, better than ever before in his history, for this task,
now that he has learnt more of the secrets of Nature--of her crude
and cruel processes--is he going to acquiesce tamely, and make no use
of his knowledge? Now the nature of the malady has been diagnosed, and
now the proper remedies have been discovered, will he not set about the
cure? Is the struggle for existence, with all its attendant horrors,
to be perpetuated? Does the end--the survival of the fittest--justify
the means--over-production and murder? Cannot the same and better
results be attained by a process less crude, less cruel? Nature
procures adaptation to existing environment by methods fraught with
untold suffering for the sentient, and the obvious course is for man
to reverse the process, bringing the environment into harmony with his
existing constitution. Of a truth, nature is, as Major Murray reminds
us, red in tooth and claw; but science is both able and willing to
tame the shrew.

    P. 374, lines 15-19.--The "Lord mighty in battle" is expected to
    take interest in bloodshed ... to fight for his people.

A parody appearing in an evening paper on November 29th, 1901, conveys
a wholesome lesson on this subject. "Lest we forget," I quote it
at length:--


        Lord God of Battles, whom we seek
          On clouds and tempests throned afar,
        When tired of being tamely weak,
          We Maffick into deadly war;
        If it should chance to be a sin,
        At least enable us to win.

        Give to the Churches faith to pray
          For what they know they shouldn't ask,
        And such abounding grace that they
          May cheerfully perform the task;
        Wave flags and loyally discount
        That fatal Sermon on the Mount.

        Give to the people strength to be
          Convinced all happens for the best,
        To see the thing they wish to see,
          And prudently ignore the rest;
        So priest and people shall combine
        To gain their ends, and call them Thine.

    P. 374, lines 23-4.--Its [Christianity's] impotency to carry out
    this, one of its chief missions.

"In no field of its work," exclaims Mr. Andrew Carnegie, "does
the Christian Church throughout the whole world--with outstanding
individual exceptions--so conspicuously fail as in its attitude to
war. Its silence when outspoken speech might avert war, its silence
during war's sway, its failure during days of peace to proclaim the
true Christian doctrines regarding the killing of men, give point to
the recent arraignment of the Prime Minister, who declared that the
Church to-day busied itself with questions [e.g., of vestments and
candles] which did not weigh even as dust in the balance compared
with the vital problems with which it was called upon to deal." (See
reports of the ceremony at which Mr. Carnegie was installed as Rector
of St. Andrew's University.)

    P. 374, lines 24-5.--Religion being frequently the actual occasion
    of, the strife.

From the Crusades to the Crimea, religion has continually been
either directly or indirectly the cause of war. Protestants, who may
be ready to excuse the wars undertaken to drive the infidels from
the "Holy Land," will do well to remember that Pope Innocent III.,
besides proclaiming the fifth of these crusades, proclaimed also the
infamous crusade against the Albigenses (who opposed the corruptions
of the Church of Rome), when Simon de Montfort and the Pope's legate,
at the head of half a million of men, put to the sword friend and
foe, men and women, saying, "God will find his own." In the case of
that mischievous and unnecessary blunder, the Crimean War, the great
masses of the Russian people saw but a spirited defence of the Cross
against the Crescent, wherein, from their point of view, the infidel
was being supported by renegade Christians. It was an appeal to the
religious emotions of the Russian peasants--an insincere appeal,
as history has discovered--that lent to the last Russo-Turkish war
a fictitious popularity.

    P. 375, lines 6-7.--Every Rationalist, every Freethinker, is an
    honest advocate of peace.

Note these lines by an eminent divine and great dignitary of the
Church, Archbishop Alexander, of Armagh:--

    And when I know how noble natures form under the red rain of war,
        I deem it true
    That He who made the earthquakes and the storm perchance made
        battle too.

And these by the gentle Wordsworth, the poet of sweet simplicity:--

        But Thy most dreaded instrument
        In working out a pure intent
        Is man--array'd for mutual slaughter;
        Yea, Carnage is Thy daughter!

And compare: "The very ideas and efforts which have led men to struggle
against the Papal Church are exactly those which are exorcising the
demon of militarism from the soul of France" (Contemporary Review
for January, 1905, art. "France and Rome"). Or again the following,
reported in the daily papers: "A petition to stop the war between
Russia and Japan owes its inception to Signor Carlo Romissi, Deputy
and editor of the Secolo of Milan. The petition has penetrated into
every workshop, household, and school, and roused the people to a
passionate desire for peace, not only between the belligerents in the
Far East, but between all nations." The Secolo is the most widely-read
Freethought paper in Italy.

Though it may be a long time before our efforts are rewarded, is that
any reason for not making a commencement in the right direction? Let
me give an instance. The effort now being made to popularise the
international language "Esperanto" is one such commencement. Could
not the Church spare a little of her military ardour (exhibited in
the arm-chair and pulpit) for supporting peaceful projects of this
nature? This one, at any rate, among the many to be found on the
Rationalist programme, is not contrary to her teaching; but I have
not as yet heard of any ecclesiastical support to a scheme that will
undoubtedly conduce to a better acquaintance between the peoples
of different nationalities. It is Rationalist and liberal-minded
philanthropists (Mr. W. T. Stead, e.g.) who are at present chiefly
interested in the movement.

During the Boer War one was continually hearing declamations from
the pulpit to the effect that war is a necessary evil. For instance,
the late Bishop of Calcutta, Dr. Welldon, actually advocated war
on the ground that it was a means of keeping a nation virile. Has
the Boer War made us more virile? Whatever Imperial necessity there
may have been for it, owing to blunders in the past and the existing
condition of affairs, the certain effects of it, so far as we can see,
have been the untimely destruction of some of the flower of our race,
sorrow spread throughout the length and breadth of the land by many
bereavements, the burden of a great debt, and the unemployed question
rendered more acute than ever.

"The brotherhood of man is a long way off--it may never be reached;
but as an ideal it is better worth having than that of half-a-dozen
sullen empires, trading only within their own boundaries, and shut
up behind high tariff walls over which they peer suspiciously,
scanning one another's exports and imports with jealous eyes, and
making from time to time fawning alliances with one rival, while
harbouring enmity with another, maintaining millions of men under
arms and spending millions of pounds in armaments, and all the time
waiting, waiting, waiting for an affrighted sun to rise upon the day
of Armageddon.... But nobler things lie before us and a brighter
dawn." (See Mr. Birrell's article, "Patriotism and Christianity,"
in the Contemporary Review for February, 1905.)


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[1] In the June (1906) number of Review of Theology and Philosophy,
edited by Professor Allan Menzies, D.D.

[2] As the Rev. John A. Hutton attempts to show in the Hibbert Journal,
July, 1905.

[3] In his address at the London Diocesan Conference in April, 1904.

[4] When addressing a conference of clergy and church-workers at
Blandford on September 7th, 1905.

[5] In the course of one of those remarkable orations of his which
always command the thoughtful attention of the House. The speech was
reported in the newspapers of March 15th, 1904.

[6] See Dr. Horton's letter to the Daily News, August 23rd, 1905.

[7] The Rev. Charles Voysey, in a sermon preached at the Theistic
Church, Swallow Street, on February 5th, 1905.

[8] See pp. 63-4.

[9] Quoted from What it is to be a Christian, a pamphlet written by
the Ven. J. M. Wilson, D.D.

[10] Eighteen per cent. was the figure given by Bishop Ingram,
speaking of "Londoners," in his speech at the annual meeting of the
Bishop of London's Fund in 1904; but, according to the strict results
of the census, the figure for London is twenty-two or twenty-three
per cent. of the total population.

[11] As Mr. Fielding remarks in his book, The Hearts of Men
(pp. 217-8): "To one coming to Europe after years in the East
and visiting churches, nothing is more striking than the enormous
preponderance of women there. It is immaterial whether the church
be in England or France, whether it be Anglican or Roman Catholic or
Dissenter. The result is always the same--women outnumber the men as
two to one, as three to one, sometimes as ten to one."

[12] As a matter of fact, no distinguished leader among modern
biologists has come to any such conclusion. People are apt to forget
that, while Lord Kelvin is undoubtedly one of the most distinguished
living physicists, he is not himself a biologist.

[13] See Nature, April 23rd, 1903; also Appendix to this work.

[14] This assertion is severely criticised by Mr. Joseph McCabe in
the Hibbert for July, 1905. Mr. McCabe holds that "Sir Oliver Lodge's
own conception of life may, with a far greater show of reason, be
described as a modified survival of an older doctrine" (p. 746).

[15] Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, the distinguished naturalist and
evolutionist, is another scientist with spiritist convictions, and
his concern for supernatural religion led him to step outside his own
domain and make that remarkable attack upon current scientific opinions
in astronomical matters which met with such unanimous condemnation
(see the Fortnightly Review for March and September, 1903).

[16] In the Times, October, 1904.

[17] At Exeter Hall, in March, 1905, Lady Blount developed her
"flat-earth" theory, and accused Newton of want of logic.

[18] A book, edited by the Rev. J. E. Hand (George Allen), which
gives, perhaps, the best that can be said by able and fair-minded men,
writing in the light of the latest knowledge and criticism, in favour
of a reconciliation between religion and science. The book contains
essays by various authors--Sir O. Lodge, Professors Thomson, Geddes,
and Muirhead, the Rev. P. N. Waggett, the Rev. John Kelman, and others.

[19] Dr. W. Barry, in his Ernest Renan, is content to attribute
the change mainly to Renan's study of Kant. But such a theory is
inconsistent with Renan's own statement in his Reminiscences, where
he expressly declares that questions of history, not metaphysics,
shook his faith.

[20] Author of a vituperative libel on agnostics, called Atheism
and Faith.

[21] The psychical aspect of the belief of such persons is discussed
in Chap. VI., § 5.

[22] Canon Scott Holland, in a sermon preached in St. Paul's Cathedral
on the first Sunday after Epiphany, 1905. See also Appendix.

[23] The Secretary of the Rationalist Press Association has received
several private letters from clergymen expressing their desire to
leave the Church if they could find some employment. They usually
have large families dependent upon them for support.

[24] I omit all mention of the trading or domestic classes who often
depend directly for their support on strict religionists. The way in
which "their bread is buttered" is bound to enter considerably into
their calculations, and also they have often even less leisure for
the study of modern thought than a steady (temperate) working man.

[25] A cheap edition has since been published by the R. P. A.

[26] Anti-Nunquam, by Dr. Warschauer, with prefatory note by J. Estlin
Carpenter, is considered by many Churchmen to be an admirable
refutation of God and My Neighbour. I have seldom read anything less
likely to convince. Sentence after sentence is open to the gravest

[27] See Appendix.

[28] E.g., in the Nineteenth Century and After, see the article on
"The Present Position of Religious Apologetics," appearing in the
issue for October, 1903; or on "Freethought in the Church of England"
in the issues for September and December, 1904. The answers in the
same journal are most unsatisfactory, and only serve to show how very
little, apparently, can be said in reply.

[29] Although the Church has ever been charitable, she has made no
effort to cure poverty. She is, she must be, the ally of those to
whom she chiefly owes her power and prestige. Jeremy Taylor is not
the only eminent divine who has systematically courted the favour of
the influential and rich.

[30] Essay on "Possibilities and Impossibilities," appearing in the
Agnostic Annual for 1892.

[31] Paley's Evidences--Preparatory Considerations.

[32] In his book, The Service of Man.

[33] In his notable oration upon the apparitions of Llanthony.

[34] See p. 132 of An Introduction to the Study of the Scriptures,
by the Right Rev. W. Boyd Carpenter, Bishop of Ripon.

[35] See p. 222 of Some Elements of Religion, Liddon.

[36] See p. 51 of An Introduction to the Study of the Scriptures.

[37] Extract from a sermon preached in St. Paul's, Finsbury, on
November 23rd, 1904.

[38] This explanation has been given by the Rev. Samuel Cox, and
it is quoted with approval by the Bishop of London on p. 63 of his
little work, Old Testament Difficulties (S.P.C.K.).

[39] See p. 41 of Old Testament Difficulties.

[40] Article "Genesis."

[41] Miraculum means merely a wonderful thing. It is certainly a
proper translation of simeia (signs) and terata (wonders), as used
by New Testament writers.

[42] By the author of Supernatural Religion. (Longmans, Green, and
Co.; 1889.)

[43] See Encyclopædia Biblica, article "Gospels," paragraph 138 (e).

[44] See article "Paul" in the Encyclopædia Biblica. Four of the
Pauline Epistles are, however, pretty generally accepted. Five are
hotly disputed; Professor Loofs, for example, rejects them.

[45] See article "Epistolary Literature" in the Encyclopædia Biblica.

[46] Swedenborgians (the New Jerusalem Church) are to be found
scattered throughout almost every part of Christendom. In England,
principally in Lancashire and Yorkshire, there are seventy-five
societies with 6,063 registered members.

[47] Eight persons in all testify to the apparition of the Virgin
Mary in the Abbot's meadow at Llanthony on September 15th, 1880.

[48] Hodder & Stoughton, 1906.

[49] See p. 31 of What is Christianity? (Williams & Norgate, 1904).

[50] See, for instance, art. "Moses," Encyclopædia Biblica.

[51] Quoted from a sermon by the Bishop of London in Fulham parish,
Christmas Day, 1904. Compare this with Dr. Kirkpatrick's remark,
p. 2 of his book, The Divine Library of the Old Testament: "It is
true that the critical investigation of the Bible raises not a few
questions of grave difficulty."

[52] "The adjective 'higher' (the sense of which is often
misunderstood) has reference simply to the higher and more difficult
class of problems, with which, as opposed to textual criticism, the
'higher' criticism has to deal" (see Preface to The Higher Criticism,
being three papers by S. R. Driver, D.D., and A. F. Kirkpatrick, D.D.).

[53] See Appendix.

[54] Exodus xxxi. 18 and xxxii. 16. Or, to be precise, these having
been broken and their fragments considered of no value at the time,
the duplicates carefully prepared and inscribed to the dictation of
God Himself (Exodus xxxix.).

[55] Believed to date from about 853 B.C. The inscription records
the victories of King Mesha over the Israelites.

[56] Erected in honour of Ptolemy Epiphanes, 106 B.C. Famous as
having furnished the first key for the interpretation of Egyptian

[57] Encyclopædia Biblica, art. "Messiah," p. 3058, par. 2.

[58] Ibid, p. 3063, par 10.

[59] In Studies in the Character of Christ, by Rev. C. H. Robinson,
Hon. Canon of Ripon and Editorial Secretary to the S.P.G.

[60] Enc. Bib., art. "Nativity," par. 10, 11, 12.

[61] The late Rev. A. B. Bruce, D.D., Professor of Apologetics and
New Testament Exegesis, Free Church College, Glasgow.

[62] See Enc. Bib., art. "Gospels," par. 139.

[63] See Enc. Bib., art. "Gospels," par. 138, where the reasons for
this conclusion are explained. See also par. 108.

[64] Author of various theological works, Hulsean Lecturer, Cambridge,
1876; Select Preacher, Oxford, 1877.

[65] The interpolation in the last chapter of St. Mark goes back far
into the second century. It is important to bear in mind that none
of the dates given by Dr. Harnack and other authorities applies to
the Gospels exactly as we now have them. Accounts of miracles have
been added subsequently!

[66] Enc. Bib., art. "Lazarus."

[67] Ibid, art. "Gospels," par. 147.

[68] W. C. van Manen, D.D., Professor of Old-Christian Literature
and New Testament Exegesis, Leyden.

[69] Spoken in an address to the St. Paul's Lecture Society, at the
opening of a new session in 1904.

[70] The italics in these quotations from Dr. Harnack are mine.

[71] Fully reported in the Methodist Times.

[72] The Greek version, known as the Septuagint (LXX.), made in Egypt
in the third and second centuries B.C. for the use of the numerous
body of Greek-speaking Jews and proselytes in that country.

[73] A Greek document which is supposed to have existed and then to
have been entirely lost (imagine God's Word lost!), and to contain
some of the matter related by St. Matthew and St. Luke, while omitted
by St. Mark. N.B.--While the evangelist St. Mark is relegated to
the position of a translator only, St. Matthew and St. Luke are
taken by orthodox theologians to be mere copyists of St. Mark and a
"lost" document!

[74] See art. "Gospels," in the Enc. Bib., and Westcott and Hort,
The New Testament in the Original Greek.

[75] In his address at the Church Congress held at Weymouth in 1905.

[76] In his work, Verbal Inspiration. Quoted by Bishop Colenso in
The Pentateuch Examined.

[77] The Dean of Canterbury, speaking on the Bishop of Winchester's
paper at the Church Congress, 1903.

[78] The Dean of Canterbury, speaking in St. Mary Bredin's Church,
Canterbury, December 4th, 1904.

[79] See Appendix.

[80] See Bk. VIII., chap. ii., par. 2, on p. 324, vol. i. Eusebius
(Oxford: Parker & Co.). His candour here is deserving of all
praise; but his methods can hardly be termed scientific; while an
impartial perusal of his Vita Constantini, a panegyric on the Emperor
Constantine, should be enough to shake the confidence of all but the
blindest of his admirers.

[81] See p. 179, chap. xv., of Gibbon's Rome (Oddy, 1809).

[82] See Appendix.

[83] In note A, pp. 42-3, of his book, The Study of the Gospels.

[84] At the discussion on Christian Science during the London Diocesan
Conference, May, 1906.

[85] See his book, The Days of His Flesh; Hodder & Stoughton, 1906.

[86] See chap. xxviii. of The Historical Geography of the Holy Land,
by the Rev. George Adam Smith, M.A., D.D., LL.D.; Professor of
O. T. Lang., Liter., and Theology, etc.

[87] The quotation is from Canon C. H. Robinson's book, Studies in
the Character of Christ.

[88] J. G. Frazer (Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge;
Hon. D.C.L. Oxford; Hon. LL.D. Glasgow; Hon. Litt. D. Durham, etc.),
in his Preface to the second edition of The Golden Bough.

[89] Professor Max Müller, in The Science of Religion, p. 40.

[90] The italics are mine throughout this quotation; also words within
brackets [ ].

[91] See Appendix.

[92] "We are accustomed to find the legendary and the miraculous
gathering, like a halo, around the early history of religious leaders,
until the sober truth runs the risk of being altogether neglected
for the glittering and edifying falsehood" (Enc. Brit., vol. iv.,
art. "Buddhism," p. 424). This process is recognised as a universal
rule. What grounds have we for assuming that Christianity is exempt
from it?

[93] See Appendix.

[94] See Appendix.

[95] Zarathustra, or Zoroaster, was possibly a historical person. We
are quite in the dark as to the precise date of Zoroaster. Duncker
places him about the year 1000 B.C.

[96] Apol. I. 54 and I. 21. Quoted in the Enc. Bib., art. "Mary."

[97] Pp. 78-9 of his important work, Divine Immanence.

[98] Mexican Antiquities, vol. vi., pp. 197-200.

[99] Egyptian Belief, p. 370.

[100] Middleton's Works, vol. i., pp. 63, 64.

[101] Rawlinson's Herodotus, vol. ii., p. 260, note 3.

[102] See his work, Mythology of the Aryan Nations, vol. ii., p. 113.

[103] Mexican Antiquities, vol. vi., p. 95.

[104] Myths of the New World, p. 166.

[105] P. 393 of Monumental Christianity, or the Art and Symbolism
of the Primitive Church as Witness and Teachers of the One Catholic
Faith and Practice.

[106] In his book, Bushido, pp. 15-19 and 24.

[107] P. 152 of his book, King David of Israel (Watts, 1905).

[108] The Gods of the Egyptians, vol. ii., p. 220.

[109] Ibid., vol. i., Preface, p. xv.

[110] They appear in Part II., pp. 171, 183, 188, 300, and 302.

[111] A translation of the Chinese version of the "Abbinishkramana
Sûtra." For the probable date, see Appendix.

[112] See Herbert Spencer's Principles of Sociology, Vol. I., Part I.,
chapter on "The Primitive Man--Emotional."

[113] Professor Robertson Smith, in The Religion of the Semites,
p. 347. Dr. W. R. Smith was a distinguished Scottish Biblical scholar
and Orientalist. From 1881 he was associated as joint editor of the
ninth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica with Professor Spencer
Baynes, after whose death in 1887 he was sole editor.

[114] J. M. Robertson, in his book, Pagan Christs, pp. 373-4.

[115] For this and the following graphic accounts I am indebted to
Mr. J. M. Robertson's book, Pagan Christs, Part IV.--"The Religion
of Ancient America."

[116] Quoted from his celebrated book, The Golden Bough.

[117] See p. 145, note.

[118] See Appendix.

[119] See "Gods of Cultivation" in Grant Allen's Evolution of the
Idea of God.

[120] See Appendix.

[121] The Evolution of the Idea of God (chapter on "The Gods of

[122] Ibid (chapter on "The Origin of Gods").

[123] Principles of Sociology, vol. i. (chapter on "Primitive Ideas,"
p. 102).

[124] Principles of Sociology (chapter on "Inspiration, Divination,
Exorcism, and Sorcery," p. 241).

[125] P. 366, vol. ii. of The Golden Bough.

[126] Anacalypsis, vol. 1., p. 638.

[127] St. Matthew xii. 40.

[128] See Appendix.

[129] Studies in the Character of Christ, vi. 102.

[130] Encyc. Brit., art. "Mythology."

[131] See Appendix.

[132] See p. 117 of Monumental Christianity.

[133] See Appendix.

[134] Quoted from Darwin's Descent of Man.

[135] "The preservation of favourable variations and the rejection
of injurious variations I call natural selection" (Darwin, Origin of
Species, ed. 1860, iv.).

[136] Darwin, Varieties of Animals and Plants, xx., 178.

[137] Concluding remarks in Darwin's Descent of Man.

[138] Ibid.

[139] See his book containing the aforesaid lectures, and called God's
Image in Man and its Defacement in the Light of Modern Denials. (Hodder
and Stoughton; 1905.)

[140] Lent by Mr. Reginald Blunt to the Chelsea Public Library.

[141] See Professor Huxley's essays, "The Interpreters of Genesis
and the Interpreters of Nature" and "Mr. Gladstone and Genesis,"
appearing in the Nineteenth Century for December, 1885, and February,
1886, respectively, and also in the collection of Huxley's essays
entitled Essays Upon Some Controverted Questions.

[142] Dr. Torrey informed a huge audience in the Albert Hall
recently that he had given up the theory of Evolution for scientific
reasons. "People speak of the missing link; why, they are all
missing!" cried Dr. Torrey. Now, this is nothing more nor less than
an untruth, and Dr. Torrey must know that it is, if he has studied
Evolution, as he assures us that he has. Here is an example of the
way Christians are misinformed by their spiritual teachers on the
subject of Evolution. But what can you expect of an evangelist who
thinks that he is serving God's cause by slandering the dead, as he
did in the case of Colonel Ingersoll and Thomas Paine?

[143] See Mr. W. H. Mallock's Religion as a Credible Doctrine, p. 177.

[144] Origin of Species, p. 65.

[145] From The Story of Creation, by Edward Clodd. Chapter on "The
Origin of Species," p. 95 of the cheap edition.

[146] The Nineteenth Century, February, 1888, pp. 162, 163.

[147] Pp. 519-20.

[148] Theism, by the Rev. Robert Flint, D.D., LL.D., F.R.S.E.,
Professor of Moral Philosophy, Divinity, etc., being the Baird Lectures
for 1877.

[149] On p. 39 of his own work, Anti-Nunquam.

[150] The Light of Asia, Book the First.

[151] Quoted from Huxley's Lectures on Evolution.

[152] Quoted from Huxley's Lectures on Evolution.

[153] Controverted Questions, pp. 100, 102, 103, 104.

[154] In Lectures on Evolution.

[155] Quoted from "The Interpreters of Genesis," in the essays on
Controverted Questions, p. 91.

[156] "Mr. Gladstone and Genesis," pp. 112-3 of Controverted Questions.

[157] The Descent of Man, p. 10.

[158] The Nature of Man, by Metchnikoff, p. 41.

[159] The Descent of Man, p. 10.

[160] The Nature of Man, p. 42.

[161] Man's Place in Nature, p. 126.

[162] Ibid, p. 127.

[163] The Nature of Man, p. 42.

[164] Man's Place in Nature, p. 111.

[165] Ibid, p. 139.

[166] Ibid, p. 102, note.

[167] Pp. 49-54. At the late International Congress on Tuberculosis,
Professor Behring paid the highest tribute to Metchnikoff's labours
on phagocytosis. Strange indeed are the instruments chosen by God for
conferring His benefits on mankind; for the author of The Nature of
Man denies His existence!

[168] Described in the Lancet, January 18th, 1902.

[169] The Nature of Man, pp. 45-48.

[170] The Descent of Man, vol. i., p. 14. According to the latest
authorities, however, the human ovum (when mature) differs in many
respects from other (especially non-mammal) ova.

[171] See the "Family Tree" of Life in the Appendix.

[172] "It is," says Professor Huxley (in Man's Place in Nature, 1863,
p. 67, and quoted by Darwin in his Descent of Man, p. 14), "quite in
the later steps of development that the young human being presents
marked differences from the young ape, while the latter departs as
much from the dog in its developments as the man does. Startling as
this last assertion may appear to be, it is demonstrably true."

[173] The Descent of Man, vol. i., pp. 17-18.

[174] See The Nature of Man, p. 60.

[175] The Descent of Man, vol. i., p. 29.

[176] The Evolution of Man, vol. ii., p. 708.

[177] Ibid, 774.

[178] The Descent of Man, vol. ii., p. 32.

[179] The Nature of Man, p. 67.

[180] The Descent of Man, vol. i., pp. 32-33.

[181] God and My Neighbour, p. 134.

[182] The document and the hostile criticisms concerning it in
religious papers are highly instructive. Except for the correspondence
on the subject in the Standard during May, 1905, under the title of
"Faith and Religion," the general public are not likely to know of
the matter.

[183] Tylor and Hartmann, however, believe in the animal descent of
man, and therefore in a rise from primitive civilisation.

[184] Our ancestors were never "molluscs"; "worm" would be an
appropriate word here.

[185] Review in the Church Times of May 31st, 1905, of the Dean of
Westminster's book, Some Thoughts on Inspiration.

[186] This and the following quotations are from "Advent Lectures on
Sin," delivered by Dr. Gore, then Bishop of Worcester, in St. Philip's
Church, Birmingham. They were reported in the Church Times of December
4th, 11th, and 18th, 1903.

[187] See pp. 234-5.

[188] In an address to the Students' Christian Union of Owens College,
Manchester, on January 8th, 1904.

[189] In his interesting book, Problems of Religion and Science, p. 70.

[190] Teleology is the name given to the doctrine of final causes;
the theory of tendency to an end, or the arrangement of things as
they are for a purpose.

[191] See Appendix.

[192] Contemporary Review for May, art. "The Scientists and Common

[193] Under this title there is a pamphlet (Charles H. Kelly,
Paternoster Row) by the Ven. J. M. Wilson, Archdeacon of Manchester,
in which the latitudinarian views to which I refer are openly
expressed. See Appendix.

[194] Flint's Theism, pp. 133-4.

[195] Theism, p. 102. This book is a standard apologetic work on
Theism. Dr. Flint is also the writer of the article on "Theism"
in the Encyclopædia Britannica.

[196] See p. 73 of Haeckel's Critics Answered, by Joseph McCabe.

[197] Ibid, p. 73.

[198] Haeckel's Critics Answered, p. 74.

[199] Religion and Science, pp. 89-90.

[200] Theism, Lecture IV.

[201] See p. 76 of Haeckel's Critics Answered.

[202] Theism, p. 79.

[203] Chapter on "Theism and Natural Selection."

[204] Religion and Science, p. 83.

[205] Religion and Science, pp. 89, 90.

[206] In The Ethics, Part i., appendix.

[207] In his work, Divine Immanence.

[208] Divine Immanence, pp. 71-2.

[209] Ibid, pp. 71-2.

[210] Ibid, pp. 71-2.

[211] Ibid, pp. 71-2.

[212] Ibid, p. 73.

[213] Ibid, p. 161.

[214] Divine Immanence, p. 161.

[215] In the preface to his poem.

[216] Art. "Theism" in the Encyclopædia Britannica.

[217] E.g., see p. 15 of The Three Superstitions, by Dr. Keeling,
an ex-professor of gynecology.

[218] Theism, p. 245.

[219] Theism, p. 246.

[220] In an address at the inaugural meeting of the session of the
Edinburgh Philosophical Institution, held on October 31st, 1905.

[221] A Text-Book of Apologetics, by Charles Harris, B.D.,
Lecturer in Theology and Parochialia, St. David's College,
Lampeter; Examining Chaplain to the Bishop of Llandaff. (London:
John Murray, 1905.) A noticeable point about this latest contribution
to apologetic literature is that, though it purposes to deal with
all the chief arguments which have been urged against religion, it
leaves the weightiest argument of all--the argument from Comparative
Mythology--practically untouched. Why is this?

[222] Theism, p. 228.

[223] Theism, "The Argument from Order."

[224] Theism, p. 226.

[225] Ibid., p. 67.

[226] This description is borne out by the Rev. A. R. Robertson, D.D.,
in The Roman Catholic Church in Italy (Morgan & Scott), a book which
was accorded a flattering reception in January, 1903, by the King
of Italy. In Southern Italy the Church's methods remind one of what
Paschal tells us concerning the Jesuits--how they kept men wicked,
lest, if they became virtuous, the priests should lose their hold
upon them.

[227] Encyclopædia Britannica, art. "Newman, John Henry."

[228] See art. "Francis William Newman," by Francis Gribble, The
Fortnightly, July, 1905.

[229] Being an address given at the Pusey House, Oxford.

[230] Their guiltlessness is made abundantly clear in Robert
Blatchford's Not Guilty, a book containing a lucid presentment of
the case for Determinism which may be understood of all. There are
copious illustrations of heredity and environment--terms the wide
application of which must be thoroughly realised.

[231] Regarding his philosophic position, however, see Appendix.

[232] In his book, Rough Ways Made Smooth, chapter on "Bodily Illness
as a Mental Stimulant."

[233] In Occult Japan, by Percival Lowell (Riverside Press), there
is an interesting account of these practices.

[234] The delusions of the "Christian Scientists" in mixing up religion
with psychic healing can only be attributed to their ignorance of
modern psychology. Those who know better, and are making money out
of it, are as shamefully imposing upon the credulity of religious
folk as is the Roman Catholic Church with her shrines of healing.

[235] In the December (1904) Journal of the Society for Psychical
Research a lady gives a vivid description of how she cured herself
completely of certain nervous complaints by auto-suggestion. It is
interesting to note that she says: "I did not believe in the efficacy
of this treatment one bit; I just made myself do it; but I felt,
most of the time, that it was extremely ridiculous." See also Appendix.

[236] The following is from the Mikado's Rescript issued on the
conclusion of peace:--"The result is due in a large measure to the
benign spirits of our ancestors, as well as to the devotion and duty
of our civil and military officials and the self-denying patriotism of
all our people.... We are happy to invoke the blessing of the benign
spirits of our ancestors." N.B.--The word "God" is conspicuous by
its absence; "ancestors' spirits" take its place.

[237] International Journal of Ethics, April, 1904, p. 338,
art. "Professor William James's Interpretation of Religious
Experience," by James H. Leuba.

[238] An instructive treatise on this subject will be found in
Vol. II., ch. x., of Weismann on Heredity. (Clarendon Press Series.)

[239] Do you know a hymn tune by Lord Crofton, set to the words,
"Bless'd are the pure in heart"? When I first heard that tune played
I shook with emotion. I did not know at that time the words that
the tune had been set to; so it could only have been the music that
affected me. At one time I confess that I myself used to mistake this
hysterical element in my nature for religious fervour.

[240] The Ven. Archdeacon J. M. Wilson, D.D., late headmaster of
Clifton College--in the Journal of Education, 1881.

[241] In Three Essays on Religion, p. 80 of the Cheap Reprint issued
for the Rationalist Press Association.

[242] As remarked by the Bishop of London in a sermon at Westminster
Abbey. See cover of Mr. Guy Thorne's book, When it was Dark.

[243] Quoted from an address delivered by the Bishop of London at
St. Paul's, as reported in the Church Times of October 7th, 1904.

[244] See footnote p. 37 of The Religion of Woman, by Joseph McCabe.

[245] Professor Jinzo Naruse. For the quotation see chap. xxi. on
"The Position of Women" in Mr. Alfred Stead's recent publication,
Japan by the Japanese.

[246] See p. 31 of the Rev. Herbert Moore's The Christian Faith
in Japan.

[247] Ibid., p. 129.

[248] We learn this from reliable sources--for example, from
W. M. Flinders Petrie and Gaston Camille Charles Maspéro, the
celebrated English and French Egyptologists.

[249] The Religion of Woman.

[250] These remarks are quoted on p. 15 of The Religion of Woman from
vol. iii., p. 290, of Mrs. Cady Stanton's History of Women's Suffrage.

[251] The Religion of Woman, pp. 105, 107, 111.

[252] Pinchwife, it will be remembered, is the anxious husband
(in Wycherley's comedy, The Country Wife) who held that a woman is
innocent in proportion to her lack of knowledge. There are, of course,
other reasons why a wife's ignorance is deemed desirable. Cf. "And
so far will I trust thee, gentle Kate."

[253] In his sermon at St. Crantock's on August 27th, 1905.

[254] The Religion of Woman, p. 78. This work embodies a complete
refutation of the assertion which we have cursorily examined. The
truth-seeker desirous of studying other aspects of the Christian
contention is strongly recommended to peruse also Mr. McCabe's
brilliant essay, The Bible in Europe (Watts, 1907).

[255] See his Notes on Popular Rationalism.

[256] Anti-Theistic Theories, Lecture 5, on Comte's Positivist

[257] Approximately 300,000 copies by the end of January, 1907.

[258] In the Nineteenth Century and After, November, 1904.

[259] See Gibbon's Rome, vol. iii., p. 27 (ed. 1809).

[260] Ibid., vol. iii., p. 27.

[261] Ibid., vol. iv., p. 21.

[262] Among his victims were: his father-in-law (A.D. 310); sister's
husband (314); nephew (319); wife (320); former friend (321); sister's
husband (325); own son (326).

[263] Gibbon's Rome, vol. ii., p. 337 (ed. 1809).

[264] The death-bed baptism of Constantine is described by Eusebius,
the Bishop of Cæsarea, in his Life of Constantine, bk. iv., chaps. 61,
62, 63, and 64. The Bishop assumes the salvation of Constantine with
the utmost confidence, and says: "He was removed about mid-day to the
presence of his God, leaving his mortal remains to his fellow-mortals,
and carrying into fellowship with God that part of his being which
was capable of understanding and loving Him."

[265] It has been urged upon me by my Christian friends that the
enormous funds at the disposal of the various Christian propagandist
societies testify to the growth, not the decay, of the Christian
faith. If these funds were chiefly derived from the small donations
of the many, there would be something in this argument. Such, however,
is not the case.

[266] Ammian. Marcell. 1. xxvii. c. 3.

[267] Cod. Theodos., Lib. xvi. tit. ii. 1. 20.

[268] Lib. xvi. tit. x. 1. 20, and tit. v. legg. 43, 52, 57, 65.

[269] See pp. 58-9 of the Beneficial Influence of the Ancient
Clergy (the title under which the Hulsean Prize Essay for 1850 was
subsequently published in book form), by the late Henry Mackenzie,
B.A., scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge. Other quotations are
given in the Appendix.

[270] The Gods of the Egyptians, Preface, p. xv.

[271] Ibid.

[272] Huxley's Essays on Controverted Questions, p. 9, Prologue.

[273] Gibbon's Rome, vol. ii., p. 257 (ed. 1809). In 1638, forty
thousand Japanese Christians were put to death in the great Castle of
Hara, the Dutch traders at Nagasaki supplying cannon and gunpowder to
be used against their fellow-Christians. (Mentioned in The Christian
Faith in Japan, p. 19, a book published by the S.P.G.) This wholesale
butchery, however, marked the destruction, not the introduction,
of Christianity.

[274] Quoted from page 543 of The Martyrdom of Man, seventeenth edition

[275] Are we not liable to forget that the most brilliant geniuses
may make mistakes sometimes, either from want of knowledge of facts,
or from a psychological unwillingness to accept them? May not the very
subtlety of their intellects aid the work of their own self-deception?

[276] Liddon's Some Elements of Religion, p. 48.

[277] Flint's Anti-Theistic Theories.

[278] See address to the Royal Naval Volunteers by their hon. chaplain,
the Bishop of London, reported in the Church Times for June 23rd, 1905.

[279] Anti-Nunquam, p. 80.

[280] See his inaugural address at the Church Congress, October, 1906.

[281] See Anti-Theistic Theories, Lecture vii., "Are there Tribes
of Atheists?"

[282] The Descent of Man, pp. 394-5.

[283] Quoted by Dr. Flint in the lecture above referred to.

[284] See The Living Races of Mankind, pp. 721-3.

[285] The Living Races of Mankind, pp. 721-3.

[286] Ibid.

[287] In a letter to Dr. Frazer. See the Fortnightly Review, July,
1905, p. 171.

[288] The Golden Bough, p. 73, note 1. See also (as there noted)
Mission Scientifique du Cap Horn, vii., "Anthropologie, Ethnographie,"
par P. Hyades et J. Deniker (Paris, 1891), pp. 253-257.

[289] The Golden Bough, p. 61.

[290] Ibid.

[291] In the Preface to the second edition of The Golden Bough.

[292] The Golden Bough, p. 61.

[293] Ibid.

[294] In his little book called Magic and Fetishism (Constable, 1906).

[295] The Golden Bough, p. 74.

[296] See Preface to the second edition of The Golden Bough.

[297] In his interesting and standard work, Chinese Characteristics,
ch. xxvi.

[298] Chinese Characteristics, p. 289.

[299] Ibid., p. 306.

[300] Chinese Characteristics, p. 291.

[301] Ibid., pp. 292-3.

[302] Ibid., p. 313.

[303] Chinese Characteristics, pp. 294 and 295.

[304] Also if she heard of General Chaffee's remarks to an American
Methodist audience in New York not long ago. While praising the work
of the missionaries, he told his audience that he met many of the
most prominent Chinamen while at Pekin, and he was obliged to say
that he did not meet a single intelligent Chinaman who expressed a
desire to embrace the Christian religion. (Reported in the Hong Kong
Daily Press of May 9th, 1903.)

[305] The classical quotation commonly seen over the door of a temple
is: "Worship the gods as if they were present."

[306] Chinese Characteristics, pp. 299-300.

[307] Ibid., p. 305.

[308] Chinese Characteristics, p. 288.

[309] See p. 78 of Anti-Nunquam.

[310] See p. 164 of Science and Education Essays, by T. H. Huxley
(Macmillan & Co.; 1895).

[311] The Christian Faith in Japan, pp. 42, 43.

[312] The Christian Faith in Japan, pp. 128-9.

[313] See chapter ii. of Conventional Lies of our Civilisation,
by Max Nordau.

[314] Ibid.

[315] P. 439 of the Proceedings of the S. P. R.

[316] P. 441 of the Proceedings of the S. P. R.

[317] See p. 477 of The Relation of Confirmation to Baptism, by
A. J. Mason, D.D. (Longmans.)

[318] At a men's service held in St. Mary Bredin's Church, Canterbury,
on December 4th, 1904.

[319] One phase of this failure was well shown by "Oxoniensis," in his
letters which started and ended the "Do We Believe?" correspondence in
the Daily Telegraph. On the other hand, we find pronounced unbelievers
taking a leading part in wise reforms, and devoting their lives to
researches that will benefit humanity.

[320] This statement is made on the authority of Darwin and of all
our modern naturalists. The theory is established, and its important
message to the human race elaborated, in such works as Darwin's Descent
of Man (see vol. i., chap. v., "The Development of the Intellect and
Moral Faculties"), Huxley's Ethical Lectures ("Science and Morals,"
1886; "Evolution and Ethics," the Romanes' lecture for 1893, etc.),
Clodd's Story of Creation (chap. xi., on "Social Evolution"), Winwood
Reade's Martyrdom of Man, and Prince Kropotkin's Mutual Aid.

[321] P. 264 of Japan by the Japanese, edited by Alfred Stead.

[322] Pp. 147-8 of Lafcadio Hearn's book, Kokoro.

[323] In the Japan Times. Quoted by Mr. Moore in his book, The
Christian Faith in Japan, p. 131.

[324] The Christian Faith in Japan, pp. 53-4. Explanations regarding
the shortcomings of the Japanese in the matter of commercial morality
will be found in Professor Nitobe's Bushido, pp. 64-70, and also,
as there mentioned, in Knapp, Feudal and Moral Japan, and in Ransome,
Japan in Transition, ch. viii.

[325] The Nineteenth Century and After, February, 1905, art. "Moral
Teaching in Japan." Regarding their native virtues, see Appendix.

[326] The Independent Review, December, 1905, art. "The Religions
of Japan."

[327] See p. 221 of Dr. Lydston's book, The Diseases of Society.

[328] In his book, A Modern Utopia, p. 144. See also Appendix to
this work.

[329] It may not be out of place to mention here that various Ethical
Societies in England (and her Colonies), Europe, and America are
doing all they can to meet the ethical needs of Agnostics, and their
efforts deserve far greater support than they have yet received
from the wealthy. For this want of sympathy there are many obvious
reasons--reasons, fortunately, that will disappear in the near
future. It will be urged that the truly pious and honest believer
finds prayer of the greatest help towards right conduct, while the
unbelieving ethicist is destitute of this aid. I do not propose now
to discuss the ethical value of prayer, or consider the causes of
its success and failure; but I would ask the reader to refer to my
remarks in Chapter VI. on the psychology of prayer. Personally, I
am of opinion that the practice of auto-suggestion may prove useful
to those in need of such assistance, and that one day (let us hope
at no distant date) psychical research will lead to the discovery
of a complete and scientific method for the toughening of our moral
fibres. See also further note in the Appendix.

[330] Mr. H. G. Wells furnishes us with some novel ideas on this point
in his book, A Modern Utopia, chap. vii., §§ 2-5. If we cannot prevent
degenerates from marrying, at least we can abolish an environment
that assists heredity in their production. See also Appendix.

[331] See pp. 25-6 of Stanley de Brath's The Foundations of Success.

[332] See Prince Kropotkin's articles in The Nineteenth Century and
After (August, 1904, and March, 1905), entitled "The Ethical Need
of the Present Day" and "The Morality of Nature." Anyone wishing to
know why we must lead the moral life should not fail to read these
instructive articles, and also Dr. Saleeby's Evolution: The Master-Key.

[333] Prince Kropotkin in The Nineteenth Century and After.

[334] "Rationalism may be defined as the mental attitude which
unreservedly accepts the supremacy of reason and aims at establishing
a system of philosophy and ethics verifiable by experience and
independent of all arbitrary assumptions or authority" (from
the Memorandum of the Aims and Objects of the Rationalist Press

[335] Closing words of Professor Huxley's essay, Science and Morals.

[336] Essay entitled "An Episcopal Trilogy," p. 312 of Essays on
Controverted Questions (Macmillan & Co.).

[337] Art. "Why Live a Moral Life?" in the Agnostic Annual, 1895.

[338] Art. "Why Live a Moral Life?" in the Agnostic Annual, 1905.

[339] Art. "Why Live a Moral Life?" in the Agnostic Annual, 1895.

[340] Ibid.

[341] Quoted from his Autobiography, entitled My Life: A Record of
Events and Opinions (Chapman & Hall).

[342] Art. "Why Live a Moral Life?" in the Agnostic Annual, 1895.

[343] Ibid.

[344] P. 121 of The Story of Creation (R. P. A. Cheap Reprint).

[345] The Nineteenth Century and After, August, 1904, art. "The
Ethical Need of the Present Day."

[346] Quoted from a little volume recently published, entitled The
Japanese Spirit. (Constable.)

[347] Cited by Mr. L. Gulick, an American missionary organiser,
in his work on The Evolution of the Japanese.

[348] Quoted from a leaflet of the Moral Instruction League. (See

[349] Quoted from p. 507, Vol. II., of The History of English
Rationalism in the Nineteenth Century, by A. W. Benn (Longmans, Green,
and Co., 1906).

[350] In his masterly work, On Compromise.

[351] See p. 55 of The Bible and the Child.

[352] Bishop Diggle, the President of the Church Congress of 1906,
in his opening address.

[353] Ibid.

[354] Recorded in The Life of Frances Power Cobbe, as Told by
Herself. (Sonnenschein.)

[355] See § 3 of the last Chapter and § 2 of the present.

[356] P. 392 of The Independent Review, December, 1904.

[357] Browning's Funeral, a poem by Mrs. Huxley. The last three
lines were inscribed, at Prof. Huxley's request, upon his grave-stone
(in St. Marylebone Cemetery, East Finchley).

[358] See Chapter I., p. 30.

[359] See Appendix.

[360] An Agnostic's Apology, pp. 131, 133, 138, of the
R. P. A. Reprint.

[361] Spencer's Principles of Sociology, p. 98, "The Data of

[362] In his book, The Hearts of Men.

[363] See art. "Is Man by Nature Religious?" by H. Dundas, in The
Agnostic Annual for 1906.

[364] We are speaking now, remember, of a religion such as the
Christian faith, one involving a belief in the supernatural, and not
of religion as Professor Huxley defined it--"a reverence and love for
the ethical ideal, and the desire to realise that ideal in life." We
are not speaking of a mere ethical "binding" between man and man,
of a religion free from all theology, such as Comte's "Positivism."

[365] Quoted from pp. 169-171 of A Reply to Dr. Lightfoot's Essays.

[366] An Agnostic's Apology, p. 137.

[367] In Chap. VII., pp. 311, 315-16, and in Chap. VIII., § 2 and §
3 (3) and (4).

[368] Quoted from p. 27 of The Agnostic Annual for 1906.

[369] Canon Scott Holland, in a sermon preached in St. Paul's
Cathedral, May, 1906.

[370] These are the concluding words of a lecture delivered in the
Central Hall, Manchester. The lecture is incorporated with others
in a book entitled Is Christianity True? (Charles H. Kelly, 26,
Paternoster Row, E.C.; 6d.).

[371] See Appendix.

[372] This view is confirmed by such standard works as Lecky's
Rise and Influence of Rationalism in Europe, Buckle's History of
Civilisation in England, Robertson's Short History of Freethought,
and Benn's History of Rationalism in the Nineteenth Century.

[373] Quoted from a sermon preached by the Rev. Charles Voysey at
the Theistic Church, October 22nd, 1905. See also Appendix.

[374] See Gibbon's Rome, p. 257, vol. ii. (ed. 1809).

[375] This warning was pronounced by Canon Henson on November 16th,
1905, when commenting, in St. Paul's Cathedral, upon the Russian

[376] P. 352, Vol. I., of his History of Civilisation in England
(Longmans, Green, & Co.; 1891).

[377] See also Chap. VII., p. 281, note.

[378] On Sunday, April 13th, 1890.

[379] At a gala banquet at Dresden, October 25th, 1905.

[380] Taken from the emperor's speech at the opening of the Reichstag,
November 28th, 1905. N.B.--Christian nations distrust one another's
righteousness even when the State and the Church are united and the
rulers are defenders of the Faith. It may be noted also that at the
swearing-in of the recruits of the Potsdam garrison on November 14th,
1905, they were told to make the Crucifix their Generalissimo!

[381] In his book, The Peace of the Anglo-Saxons, with an Introduction
by Field-Marshal Earl Roberts, K.G. (Watts & Co.) Observations
suggested by this warning will be found in the Appendix.

[382] Apart from the extra burden on the workers, does the Church,
I wonder, ever thoroughly realise the inevitable effect on public
morality of keeping a large body of men from living a normal domestic
life? Does she realise that diseases hurtful to the race are more
prevalent than ever, and that nowadays prostitution has spread from
the garrison towns to the villages? Does she realise that her "purity"
campaigns fail to strike at the root of the evil?

[383] Held in Lucerne on September 19th-23rd, 1905.

[384] See Appendix.

[385] See Mr. (now the Right Hon.) Augustine Birrell's suggestive
article, "Patriotism and Christianity," in the Contemporary Review,
February, 1905.

[386] The Tsar is probably sincere in his professions, and is the
helpless tool of his advisers. Can we make the same excuse for another
potentate--for him of the "mailed fist"?

[387] See Appendix.

[388] Butler, Analogy, pt. ii., 3.

[389] In Literature and Dogma. See p. 21 of the R. P. A. Reprint.

[390] See p. 183 of The Hibbert Journal, October, 1905.

[391] Compounds of cyanogen have a close resemblance to living
matter. As cyanogen is only produced at an intense heat, it is
surmised that the living substance may have been produced once and
for all when the earth was incandescent.

[392] P. 387 of The Independent Review, December, 1904.

[393] To those willing to be instructed I suggest a perusal of Doane's
Bible Myths and their Parallels in Other Religions (New York: The
Commonwealth Company), where they will find some intensely interesting
information which has been laboriously gathered from innumerable
volumes, ancient and modern. The few inaccuracies occurring in it
are of a trivial nature; besides, as the author invariably quotes his
authorities, his statements can be verified and the trustworthiness
of his authority for them ascertained. I may add that I found this
work of considerable assistance at the commencement of my study of
Comparative Mythology.

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