MODERN AGE OF REASON
(Thomas Paines AGE OF REASON paraphrased into modern english)
By Stephen W. Dowell
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Copyright 01/11/2001 by Stephen W. Dowell (posted on Dynamic Deism with the permission of Mr. Dowell andPositive Deism
AGE OF REASON
by Thomas Paine
TO MY FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
I put the following work under your protection. It contains my opinions about Religion. Please remember that I have always supported the Right of every person to have their own opinion, even if that opinion is different than mine. Anyone who denies another person of this right, makes himself a slave to his own opinion, because he prevents himself from being able to change it.
The strongest weapon against all kinds of errors is Reason. I have never used any other, and hope I never will.
Your affectionate friend and fellow-citizen,
AGE OF REASON
For several years, I have intended to publish my thoughts on religion. I am very aware of all the difficulties related to that subject. That's why I've waited so long before writing it. I wanted it to be my last published work, so that no one would question my motives, even if they didn't agree with my ideas.
Currently, in France, they are doing away with compulsory state religion. This caused me to believe that a work such as this one is necessary. With the rise of superstition, false government, and false religions, it is important that we not lose sight of TRUE morality, humanity and religion.
I know of several other people in France who have volunteered their professions of faith to the public. So I think it is appropriate for me to make mine as well. I do this with all the honesty and sincerity that I can.
I believe in only one God; and I have hope for happiness in an afterlife.
I believe all men are equal; and I believe that religious duties should consist of being just and merciful to our fellow-creatures, and trying to make them happy.
However, I want to make it clear that there are many other things related to religion that I do not believe. So, in the course of this work I want to state those things I do not believe, and my reasons why.
I do not believe in the religious creeds of the Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Christians or any other church I can think of. My mind is my own church.
It appears to me that all churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim, are simply human inventions. They use fear to enslave us. They are a monopoly for power and profit.
By saying this, I don't intend to condemn those who believe differently. Everyone has the same right to their belief as I do. But for man to be truly happy, he must be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in 'belief' or 'unbelief'; it consists of SAYING you believe something that you really don't believe.
It is impossible to calculate all the 'moral mischief' that this kind of thinking has caused. When a man has gone so far as to corrupt the personal integrity of his mind, so that he will publicly profess things he does not actually believe, he no better than a common criminal. That type of man will become a pastor for the sake of money or power; and it all starts with a lie. Can you think of anything more destructive to good morals than this?
Soon after I published 'Common Sense' in America, I saw that the revolution we had in our government would very likely be followed by a revolution in religion. The ties between church and state (whether Jewish, Christian, or Muslim) had prevented established religious creeds from even being questioned. But now, with the change we have had in government, it opens the door to a change in religious thought as well. We can now see the falsehoods in religion for what they really are, and we have the opportunity to return to the pure, unconfused belief in one God, and no more.
Every state-run church or religion has set itself up by pretending to have some special mission from God that was communicated to them by some individual. The Jews have Moses; the Christians have Jesus Christ, their apostles and saints; the Muslims have Mohammed. It's as if they think that the way to God is not equally open to everyone.
Each of those churches have their own "holy books" that they say is the 'Word of God'. The Jews say that their word of God was given by God to Moses, face to face; the Christians say that their word of God came by divine inspiration: and the Muslims say that their word of God (the Koran) was brought by an angel from Heaven. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief. I don't believe any of them.
It is important that we define our words. Therefore, before going any further, I want to define what we mean by 'Revelation'. Revelation, when talking about religion, means "something that was communicated directly from God to man".
No one would deny that God has the power to communicate to man if he wanted to. However, it is important to understand that if God reveals something to one person, and not revealed it to anyone else, then it is a 'revelation' to that person only. When that person tells it to a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth, and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those people. It is revelation to the first person only, and "hear-say" to everyone else. Therefore, they are not required to believe it.
It is a contradiction in terms and ideas, to call anything a "revelation" that comes to us secondhand. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication- after this, it is only an account of something which that person SAYS was a revelation made to him. Even though he may feel obliged to believe it, I am in no way required to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to me. I only have his word for it that it was made to him.
When Moses told the children of Israel that he received the two tablets of the commandments from the hands of God, they had no reason to believe him other than his telling them so; and I have no reason for believing it other than some historian told me so. The commandments have no internal evidence that they are from God. They do have some good moral teachings that any good lawyer or legislator could just as easily have produced, without having to say it was from God.
(It is necessary though to take exception to the law that says that "God visits the sins of the fathers upon the children". That law goes against every principle of moral justice.)
When I am told that the Koran was written in Heaven and brought to Mohammed by an angel, the account sounds too much like the same kind of hear-say evidence that the Jews have. I did not see the angel myself, and, therefore, I have a right not to believe it.
Also, when I am told that the Virgin Mary claimed to be pregnant without having had sex with a man, and that her husband, Joseph, said that an angel confirmed that to him, I have the right to either believe them or not. Such an event requires much more than just their word for it. But we don't even have that... for neither Joseph or Mary wrote any such thing themselves. It is only reported by others that they said so. It is hear-say upon hear-say, and I choose not to base my belief on such shaky evidence.
However, it is not so difficult to understand how the story of Jesus Christ being the Son of God got started. He was born during a time when people commonly believed in heathen myths. Because of this, people were prepared to believe such a story. Nearly all of the famous men who lived during this time of mythology had claims that they were the sons of some of their gods. It just wasn't a new thing to believe at that time. It was very common for people to believe that gods had sex with human women. One of their gods, Jupiter, it was claimed, had sex with hundreds of human women. So people did not consider the story of Mary to be anything new, amazing, or even lewd. It was a common story among the people called "Gentiles", and it was those people who accepted it as true. The Jews, who strictly believed in only one God, and who didn't accept these heathen myths, never gave the story any credit for being true.
It is interesting to see how the Christian church actually sprang out of heathen myths. For example, the way they made their so-called founder to be born of god. The trinity of gods they had was simply a reduction of the several thousand gods of the heathen. The statue of Mary replaced the statue of Diana of Ephesus. Making heroes into Gods was replaced by something similar for Saints. The heathen had gods for everything; the Christians had saints for everything. There were as many Saints in the church as there were 'Heroes' in Greece, and Rome was home to both. Christianity is little more than the idolatry that the ancient myths had, and made into a vehicle for power and profit. It is up to Reason and Philosophy to end this terrible fraud.
Nothing I say should be thought of as disrespect for the character of Jesus Christ. He was a virtuous and friendly man. The morals he taught and practiced were very beneficial. Similar morals had been taught by Confucius and the Greeks in the past, and by the Quakers since then; as well as by many others down through the ages. However, none of those are any better than what Jesus taught.
Jesus did not write anything about his birth, his parents, or anything else about his life. He did not write a single line in the New Testament. The history concerning him was entirely written by other people. As for the story of his resurrection and ascension, it was a necessary counterpart to the story of his birth. The people who wrote that he had come into the world in a miraculous way, had to take him out in the same way. Otherwise, the first part of the story would have seemed false.
The story told about the end of his life is even more ridiculous than the previous ones. The story of his birth was something that happened in private, so at least the tellers of the story could be reasonably sure that nobody would discover the truth.
However, the story of a dead person rising from the grave and ascending up through the air is a very different thing than a pregnancy. The resurrection and ascension of Jesus, if it took place, would be public like seeing a balloon rise into the air. All of Jerusalem would have been able to see it. Something that everyone is expected to believe would need to have proof that everyone would have been able to see. If the general public would have seen this event, it would have some credibility. However, it doesn't even have that. Instead, only eight or nine people are used as the ones who say they saw it, and the whole world is just supposed to believe it. However, Thomas said he wouldn't believe it unless he saw it for himself, so neither will I. The reason is just as good for me and others as it was for Thomas.
It is useless to try to sweep this matter under the rug. The story, as far as the supernatural part goes, has every mark of being a fraud. It is as impossible for us to know who the real authors of this story were, as it is to know for sure who even wrote the books where these stories are related. The best current evidence we have of the affair is from the Jews. They are directly descended from the people who lived at the time this event supposedly happened, and they say it isn't true. It is indeed odd to try and use the Jews to verify the story. It's just like saying "I will prove the truth of what I have told you by producing the people who say it is false".
The fact that Jesus may have existed, and that he may have even been crucified (which was an actual method of execution at the time) is entirely possible. Jesus taught excellent morals and that all men are equal. But he also spoke against the corruption of the Jewish priests, and this caused them to hate him with a passion. They accused him of being a traitor against the Roman government (who then ruled the Jews). It is entirely possible that he made both the Roman government, as well as the Jews, very nervous with his teachings. They also thought it was possible that Jesus was thinking of a way to cause a Jewish uprising against Rome. At any rate, between Rome and the Jews, this moral teacher and revolutionary ended up losing his life.
Based on the absurd story of the supernatural birth and death of this man, the Christian church has built its fable. Nothing the ancient Greeks came up with was any more absurd.
The ancient Greeks tell the story about a race of Giants that made war against Jupiter, and that one of them was able to throw a hundred rocks at him all at once. They say Jupiter defeated this Giant with a bolt of thunder, and confined him under Mount Etna. The story says that every time the Giant turns over, that Mount Etna erupts fire. It's easy to see that this story was made up to explain a volcano.
The Christians tell us that their Satan made war with God, who defeated him and confined him in a pit (instead of under a mountain). It's easy to see that the Jupiter story inspired the idea for the Satan story. But the story about Jupiter was told many hundreds of years before the Satan story.
So far, the ancient Greek myth and the Christian fable are very similar. But the Christian version tries to take it even further. They try to tie in the supernatural part of the Jesus story with the Jupiter story, and in order to tie it all together they drag in some Jewish traditions as well. The Christian fable is made up partly of ancient myths, and partly from Jewish traditions.
In the Christian story, after having Satan bound up in a pit, they had to come up with a way to let him out again in order to continue with the fable. So he is reintroduced again in the Garden of Eden in the shape of a snake who talks to Eve. Eve doesn't seem to be the least bit surprised to hear a snake talk. The result of this little meeting is that the snake convinces her to eat an apple which damns all mankind.
After giving Satan this amazing victory over creation, you would think the story tellers would send him back to his pit. At least they could have stuck him under a mountain (for they say that their faith can remove mountains) like the ancient myths had done. This would have kept him from getting among the women and getting into any more mischief. But no... instead they leave him at large. (Secretly, they knew their story could not do without him). They promise him ALL the Jews, ALL the Turks, nine-tenths of the world, and Mohammed to boot. After this, who could doubt the bountifulness of Christianity?
So now we have this revolt and battle in Heaven (where none of the troops could be killed or wounded)- Satan is put in a pit- let out again (which gives him victory over the creation)- and he damns all of man by having an apple eaten.
These Christian storytellers continue the tale by portraying the good man Jesus Christ to be both God and Man, and also the Son of God. He is miraculously born of God, with the sole purpose of being sacrificed, because Eve ate her apple.
This story is so absurd and crude that it could make you laugh. It is nearly impossible to think of a story that could be more offensive to God and so inconsistent with his wisdom and power.
In order to give the story some sort of plot, the inventors of the story had to give Satan a power that was as great, if not greater than what they give to God himself. They not only give him the power to free himself from the pit, but they also make that power infinitely increase. Before his fall, they represent Satan as an angel with a limited existence. But after his fall, all of sudden he becomes omnipresent. He exists everywhere, all at the same time. He occupies all of space.
Not being content with making him out to be a god, they have him take the shape of a snake and defeat all the power and wisdom of God. He manages to force God into either surrendering to him, or else resort to saving mankind by coming to earth in the shape of a man to hang on a cross.
If the inventors of this tale had told it with God causing Satan to hang on the cross, in the shape of a snake, for his punishment, the story would have been less absurd. But instead of this, they make Satan win and God lose.
There is no doubt that many good men have believed this strange fable, and still managed to live very good lives (being gullible isn't a crime). They were raised believing it. There are others who are so amazed at God's infinite love towards them (by sacrificing himself on the cross for them), that they can't even see how absurd and crude the whole thing is. The weirder anything is, the more likely it is to be accepted and admired by gullible people.
If we want to admire and be grateful for something, there is plenty to admire in the things we see every hour. We see a wonderful creation that was prepared for us the instant we were born; a world freely given to us. Are we the ones who light up the sun, or bring the rain and fill the earth with abundance? Whether we are asleep or awake, the vast universe continues on. Are these things, and the blessings they imply, nothing to us? Can our feelings only be excited by subjects such as tragedy and suicide? Has our pride become so crude that nothing can flatter it but the sacrifice of the Creator?
I know that many people will be offended by this bold investigation. But I can't hold back for their sake. The times we live in demand that we take a hard look at this subject. There are many people in all countries that are beginning to suspect that Christianity is merely a fable. They are having doubts about what to believe or disbelieve. For them it will be a comfort to see this subject so freely studied. I will now move on to an investigation of the books of the Old and New Testaments.
These books begin with Genesis and end with Revelation (which, by the way, is a book of riddles that requires a revelation to explain it). We are told that these books are "The Word of God". Therefore, it is entirely proper for us to know who told us this so that we can know how much credit to give it. The answer to this question is that NOBODY knows. We just tell it to each other. However, historically, here's what seems to have happened:
When the church storytellers made their system, they went out and collected all the writings they could find and did with them as they pleased. We are totally uncertain whether these writings, as they appear in the testaments, are in the same condition they were in when they were found. For all we know they may have be added to, altered, abridged, or dressed up.
At any rate, they decided to vote on which writing they had that should become the WORD OF GOD, and which should not. They rejected several of them. Some others were voted to be doubtful (such as the books called the Apocrypha). The books that received the most votes were voted to be the Word of God. If they had voted some other way, then Christians today would have had different beliefs. Their beliefs are based on votes. We know nothing about the voters. They generally referred to themselves as the Church, but this is all we know.
We have no other external evidence for believing that these books are the Word of God than what I mentioned (which is no evidence at all). Therefore we will move on to take a look at the internal evidence contained in these books.
In the first part of this essay I spoke about revelation. I now will apply that subject to the books in question.
Revelation is a communication of something which the person did not know before. For if I have done a thing, or seen it done, then I need no revelation to tell me I have done it or seen it. Nor do I need a revelation to let me tell about it or write about it.
Revelation cannot be applied to anything on earth that man has done or seen. Therefore, all the history and stories in the bible (which is nearly all of it) cannot be considered Revelation. So it cannot be the Word of God.
If Samson ran off with the gate posts of Gaza (and whether he did means nothing to us); or when he visited Delilah; or caught foxes; what has that got to do with Revelation? If they were facts, he could tell them himself; or if he had a secretary, she could write them (if they were worth writing). If they were just stories, then revelation could not make them true. If they were true, then we are no better off for knowing them. When we consider the greatness of God who directs the universe (of which we know so little), we ought to be ashamed at calling these petty little stories the Word of God.
Let us now look at the Genesis account of the Creation...
It appears to be a tradition that the Israelites had before they went to Egypt. After they left Egypt, they kept the story and probably did not even remember how they got it. The way the story opens sounds like a tradition.
It begins all of a sudden; it is nobody that is speaking; it is nobody that hears; it is addressed to nobody; it is not written in first, second or third person; it has every evidence of being a traditional story; it has nothing to indicate that it is true. Moses does not formally introduce the book in the same way he does in other places by saying something like "The Lord spake unto Moses saying....".
I have no idea why it is called the "Mosaic account of the Creation". Moses was certainly too intelligent to associate his name with that story. He was a man who was highly educated with the Egyptians in the art of science, and especially astronomy. The silence and caution used by Moses is good negative evidence that the story is not his, and that he did not actually believe it.
The fact of the matter is that every nation of the world have creation accounts, and the Israelites were no exception. Seeing how Moses was not an Israelite, it's understandable how he would not want to contradict their story. At any rate, the story is harmless (which is more than can be said of so many other parts of the Bible).
More than half the Bible is filled with crude stories, sexual adventures, cruel executions, and constant revenge. It would really be more appropriate to call it the word of a demon instead of the Word of God. It is a wicked history that has only caused corruption and brutality to mankind. As for me, I sincerely hate it, as I hate everything that is cruel.
Except for a few miscellaneous parts and phrases, the bible is otherwise disgusting and disgraceful. In the Psalms, and especially in Job, we do find some parts that seem to worship the power and gentleness of God. But they are no better than any other writings concerning those subjects, before or since.
The Proverbs are generally said to be written by Solomon. However, they are most likely a collection of many different authors concerning the subject of ethics. (King Solomon would not have been in a position to experience many of the situations that the Proverbs describe). However, they are not as insightful as the proverbs of the Spaniards, and are no wiser than those of Benjamin Franklin.
The rest of the Bible (generally known as the Prophetical Books) are the writings of Jewish poets and traveling preachers. They mixed together poetry, stories, and religious worship. Those writings still have the feel of poetry, even after having been translated into english.
* There are many readers who do not consider a writing to be poetry unless it rhymes. For their information, I add the following notes.
Poetry is basically two things- mental pictures, and style of writing. The style of writing is different than writing a story. In poetry the short and long syllables are mixed together in a special way. If you were to take a long syllable out of a line of poetry, or insert a long syllable where a short one should be, then the poem would lose its special rhythm. It would have the same effect as having a wrong note in a song.
The mental pictures produced in the Prophetical books are the result of poetry. They are lavish stories that would not be appropriate in any other kind of writing other than poetry.
As an example of biblical poetry, I will take a couple of ten-syllable lines from the book of Isaiah where the last word rhymes. It will be quite obvious that we are looking at lines of poetry:
Hear, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth!
'Tis God himself that calls attention forth.
Another example of this is from Jeremiah. I will add a couple of additional lines in order to make it even more clear that what we are reading is actually a poem:
O! that mine head were waters and mine eyes
Were fountains flowing like the liquid skies;
Then would I give the mighty flood release,
And weep a deluge for the human race.
Nowhere in the bible does it say anything about poets or poetry. Instead, the bible uses the word "prophet" to describe a poet. (although in modern times the word 'prophet' now has a different meaning). In the bible the word "prophesying" actually meant the art of making poetry. It also had the meaning of playing poetry along with a musical instrument.
We read about prophesying with pipes, tabrets, harps, psalteries, cymbals, and with all kinds of instruments that were used during that time. In modern times, if we were to speak of prophesying with a pipe or drum, it would not have the same meaning as it did then and would seem silly. Some people would even become angry because we have changed the meaning of the word.
We read in the bible of Saul being among the prophets, and that he "prophesied". But we are not told what they prophesied. In fact, there is nothing to tell. These prophets were simply a company of musicians and poets. Saul joined in the music-making, and this was called 'prophesying'.
This story, in the book of Samuel, goes like this:
Saul met a company of prophets; a whole company of them! They were coming down the road with a guitar, a tabret, a pipe and a harp. It says that they prophesied, and that he prophesied with them. But apparently Saul prophesied badly. Because it says that "an evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied".
* As a bonus for those priests and commentators who like solving puzzles, I leave to them to debate the meaning of "an evil spirit from God". But let me get back to my subject of prophecy.
Even if there were no other passage in the Bible to demonstrate that we have lost the original meaning of the word 'prophecy', this one passage should be enough. For it would be impossible to use the word 'prophesy' in this passage if it were to have the same meaning that it does in modern times.
The way that the word is used in this passage strips it of all religious meaning. It shows that someone could be a prophet (or prophesy) in the same way that he would be a poet or musician today. It has nothing to do with his moral character. Originally, the word was actually a scientific word. But it was also used to describe poetry and music (although it was not used to refer to the subjects that poetry and music were about).
Deborah and Barak were called prophets. Not because they predicted anything, but because they composed poems and songs about things that had already happened. David was also considered a prophet, because he was a musician. It was also (wrongly) assumed that he had written the Psalms.
But Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not referred to as prophets. From all accounts, it does not appear that they were able to sing, play music, or make poetry.
We are also told of the greater and the lesser prophets. You might as well refer to the greater and lesser God, because there can't be degrees in prophesying that would make sense with the modern definition of the word. But there are degrees in poetry. Therefore the term would make sense when used to describe greater and lesser poets.
Based on this information, it is totally unnecessary to make further comment about what these prophets wrote. We have eliminated the root of the problem by showing the mistaken use of the word. As a result, all the hidden meanings, worshipful respect, and commentaries that have been attributed to them are not worth arguing about. However, in many ways the writings of the Jewish poets really deserve better than to be considered the Word of God (and all the associated garbage that goes along with that).
If we really think about it, we must admit that anything considered "The Word of God" would have to be something that was completely unchangeable (even by accident). Therefore, the Word of God cannot exist in any written or human language.
The meanings of words are constantly subject to change. Errors in translations, mistakes by copyists or printers, and even intentional forgeries, are evidence that human language or writings could not be the Word of God. The Word of God is something else.
Even if the book called the Bible had more excellent ideas than any other book in the world, I would not put my faith in it as the Word of God. It's just too likely that I was being fooled. But when I see that most of the book is hardly more than a history of gross vice and petty tales, I just cannot dishonor my Creator by saying that it is his Word.
So much for the Bible. I now go on to the book called the New Testament. The New Testament! (or, the new will), as if there could be two wills of the Creator!
If Jesus had intended to make a new religion, he would certainly have written the system himself, or at least had it written in his lifetime. But the fact is that there are no writings from his time that he authored. All the books called the New Testament were written after his death. He claimed to have been born a Jew. He was the son of God in the exact same manner that everyone else is; for the Creator is the Father of All.
The first four books of the bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) do not actually give a history of the life of Jesus. Instead they are short detached stories about him. It appears from these books that the whole time of his being a preacher was only about 18 months. It was only during this short period of time that these men came to know him. They write about him, at the age of twelve, sitting among the Jews debating with them. Since this was several years before they knew him, they probably picked up this story from his parents. From that point there is nothing written about him for nearly sixteen years of his life. Where he lived, or where he worked during that time is not known. He probably worked in the carpenter trade with his father. He does not appear to have had any schooling, and probably could not write. His parents were extremely poor judging from the fact that they could not pay for a bed when he was born.
It is rather odd that three of the most famous men in history have very dim accounts of their early childhood. Moses was an orphan. Mohammed was a mule driver. Jesus Christ was born in a barn. Moses and Mohammed were the founders of new religions. However, Jesus did not start a new religion. He simply asked men to practice good morals, and to believe in one God. His greatest character trait was that he cared so much for his fellow man.
The way that he was arrested shows that he was not very well known at the time. It also shows that the meetings he had with his followers were held in secret, and that he had stopped preaching publicly. The only way Judas was able to betray him was to show where his hiding place was, and point him out to the officers. The reason for paying Judas to betray him could only be explained by the fact that he was not well known, and that he was in hiding.
The idea that he was hiding out doesn't sit very well with his reputation as someone divine. Instead it sounds quite cowardly. The fact that one of his followers betrayed him to be arrested shows that he originally had no intention of being arrested or crucified.
Christians tell us that the reason Christ came into the world was in order to die for the sins of the world. Wouldn't it have been the same if he had died of a fever, smallpox, old age, or anything else?
The punishment that they say was given to Adam when he ate the apple was "thou shalt surely die". It meant he would die, but it did not say how he would die. Therefore, crucifixion or any other way of dying was not part of the punishment that Adam was supposed to suffer. As a result, since Jesus suffered in the place of Adam, it could not have anything to do with the way Jesus was supposed to die either. A fever would have done just as well as the cross (assuming that either was really necessary).
Adams punishment of death must have meant one of two things. Either it meant dying naturally, or else it meant what Christians refer to as Damnation. As a result, Christ's death should have prevented one or the other of these two things from happening to Adam or to us.
Due to the fact that we all die, it is obvious that it does not prevent anyone from dying physically. In fact, if we believe the very old ages described in the bible, men actually die faster now than they did before the crucifixion. As for the second explanation (that of Christ dying as a substitute for the eternal death and damnation of man), it makes it sound as if the Creator let man off the hook for the sake of an odd meaning in the word Death. Paul (who dreamed up all sorts of odd meanings for words), has promoted this strange meaning of the word Death by making up another odd meaning of the word Adam. He says there were actually two Adams. The one who actually sinned, and suffered by substitution; and the other who sinned by substitution, and actually suffered. A religion that has so many odd meanings, trickery and puns also tends to cause it's followers to do the same thing (without knowing why).
If Jesus Christ was who they say he was, and really came into the world to suffer (which is a word they sometimes use instead of the word die), then the only real suffering he had was living. His life here was actually an exile from his home in Heaven. The way back to his own country was to die. In fact, everything about Christianity is opposite of what it is supposed to be. I become so tired of trying to figure out the contradictions and silliness, that I rush through it so that I can move on to better things.
We cannot know how much, or which parts, of the New Testament were written by the men who had the books named after them. We can't even be sure which language they were originally written in. The books in the New Testament generally fall under two headings- Stories and Letters.
The four books I already mentioned (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are all stories. They report events that had already happened. They report what Jesus Christ did and said, and what others did and said to him. In several cases they report the same event differently. 'Revelation' has nothing to do with these books. This is partly due to the disagreements between the events. But also because revelation cannot be used to describe facts or conversations that are told by the person who saw or heard them. The book of Acts also belongs under the heading of Stories.
All the other parts of the New Testament (except the strange book of Revelations), are a collection of letters. Faking letters has been such a common practice in the world, that they probably have a 50/50 chance of being real or faked. One thing is much more likely though, and that is that these books, combined with some other old stories, have set up a system in the Church that is quite opposite to the character of Jesus. The Church has set up a system of show and profit that is quite opposite to the humble, poor life of Christ.
Although they don't say so, they have come up with a whole system for making money. They invented purgatory. Then, for a price, they let you buy prayers that will supposedly release souls from that place. They also sell pardons, dispensations, and indulgences. The fact is that those things are a result of the ideas surrounding the crucifixion (that one person can stand in the place of another and perform some service for him). The result of this idea is that the whole theory of redemption is probably just a scheme that all those other moneymaking schemes are based on. Why should we give credit to a Church who claims to perform miracles, and who claims that these books are completely genuine. They certainly could have forged the writings, because they can write. The writings are composed in such a way that anyone could have written them. The fact that they could have faked them should be no more surprising than their claim to have performed miracles.
At this point, we have no external evidence that can be used to prove that they invented the idea of redemption or not. Even if we did, we would have to be suspicious of that evidence. Therefore we must look at the internal evidence. Based on the internal evidence, it still has the appearance of being faked. The internal evidence is this... That the doctrine of redemption is based on the idea of a debt-based justice instead of moral justice.
If I owe a person money, and cannot pay him, and he threatens to put me in prison; another person can come to my rescue and pay the debt for me. But if I have committed a crime, every aspect of the case is changed. Moral Justice cannot punish the innocent for the crimes of the guilty (even if the innocent party makes the offer). It would destroy the very principle that Justice is based on. In that case it would no longer be Justice... it would just be random revenge.
This single idea clearly shows that the doctrine of redemption is based on a justice system where someone else pays your debt for you. It is the same idea that lies behind the scheme where money is given to the Church in return for pardons. It seems likely that the same people invented both ideas. The fact is that there is no such thing as redemption. It is simply a fable. The truth is that mankind is the same in God's eyes as they have always been. We should take great comfort in this fact.
If a man will just believe this, then he will consistently live a more moral life than he would under any other system. Under the old system, men are taught to think of themselves as an outlaw, a beggar, or a worm that is thrown away on a manure pile far away from his creator. He is taught that he must approach the creator by creeping around and getting others to stand in for him. Under this kind of system he will eventually learn to either hate religion, or else just begin to ignore it. He might even become a monk. If he does this, then he starts trying to live a life of grief. His prayers are rebukes. His humility is ingratitude. He calls himself a worm, and the earth he lives in a manure pile. He considers the blessings of life to be of no value. He hates the greatest gift of God to man, the GIFT OF REASON. Then having forced himself to live under a system that is revolting to reason, he ungratefully calls it 'human reason' (as if a man could give reason to himself!).
Yet, with all this strange humility and hate for human reason, he sure does make some bold assumptions. He finds fault with everything. His selfishness is never satisfied. He is never thankful. In his prayers, he attempts to tell God how to run the universe. If it's sunny, he prays for rain. If it's raining, he prays for sun. He does the same thing in all his prayers. His prayers are simply an attempt to get God to change his mind and do things differently. It's as if he is saying to God "I know how to do it better than you".
But someone may ask "Do you mean that we can't have a Word of God, or no revelation?". To them I say "Yes!". There is a Word of God. There is a revelation. THE WORD OF GOD IS THE CREATION WE SEE EVERYDAY. It is in this word (that man cannot fake or change) that God speaks to all mankind.
Human language is local, and subject to change. Therefore, it cannot be used as the means of communicating unchanging, universal information. The idea that God sent Jesus Christ to spread the 'good news' to the entire world only shows the ignorance of those who did not know how large the world really is. Those world-savers believed the world was flat and that man could walk right to the end of it (in spite of discoveries of philosophers, and the experience of navigators).
So how could Jesus Christ have made anything known to the whole world? Out of all the languages of the world, he could only speak Hebrew. There are hardly any two nations that speak the same language. As everyone familiar with languages knows, it is nearly impossible to get an exact translation from one language to another without losing some part of the meaning. Plus, printing was completely unknown during the time of Christ.
In order to accomplish something, it is important that it be done the right way. This is the difference between the limited abilities of humans, and the unlimited power and wisdom of God. Man often fails due to his lack of power (authority or strength) and wisdom. But it is impossible for the unlimited power and wisdom of God to fail in the same way. God always does things right. Therefore, God would never use human language to communicate his unchanging laws to mankind.
It is only in the CREATION that all the ideas and concepts of the word of God can come together. The Creation speaks a universal language that does not depend on any human speech or language. It is an eternal "original copy" that all men can read. It cannot be faked or counterfeited. It cannot be lost or changed. It cannot be kept secret. It does not depend on man deciding whether to publishing it or not. It publishes itself from one end of the earth to the other. It preaches to all the nations, and all the worlds. This natural word of God reveals to us all that man needs to know of God.
Do we want to think of his power? We see it in the vastness of the Creation. Do we want to think of his wisdom? We see it in the unchanging order of the universe. Do we want to see his generosity? We see it in the abundance that fills the earth. Do we want to think of his mercy? We see it in the way he does not withhold abundance even from the ungrateful. In fact, do we want to know what God is? Do not look in the bible (that any man could have written), but look instead to the Creation.
The only idea that man can attach to the name of God is that of a 'first cause', the cause of all things. Even though it is difficult to imagine or believe in a first cause, it is tens times easier than not believing it. It is nearly impossible to imagine that space can have no end. But it is even more difficult to imagine an end. It is nearly impossible to imagine an eternity of time. But it is even more difficult to imagine a time when there is no time.
Using reason, it is clear that everything we see did not make itself. Every man understands that he did not make himself. He understands that his father, or grandfather, or any others of his race could not have made themselves. He knows that trees, plants or animals could not have made themselves. All this leads us to believe in a first cause that has existed for eternity; and that has a nature totally different than anything we know of. This first cause is the power that causes all things to exist. This first cause man calls God.
Only by using reason can man discover God. Take away his reason, and man could not understand anything. In that case you might as well read the bible to a horse as to a man. So how can people pretend to reject reason?
About the only parts in the bible that give us any idea of God, are some chapters in Job and the 19th Psalm. I can't think of any others. Those parts are true Deist writings, because they consider God through his works. They only use the Creation as the word of God, and refer to nothing else. All ideas concerning God are drawn from the Creation.
Here is the 19th Psalm, as paraphrased into English by Addison. I don't remember it word for word, because I don't have access to it right now.
"The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great original proclaim.
The unwearied sun, from day to day,
Does his Creator's power display;
And publishes to every land
The work of an Almighty hand.
"Soon as the evening shades prevail,
The moon takes up the wondrous tale,
And nightly to the list'ning earth
Repeats the story of her birth;
While all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets, in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.
"What though in solemn silence all
Move round this dark terrestrial ball?
What though no real voice, or sound,
Amidst their radiant orbs be found?
In reason's ear they all rejoice
And utter forth a glorious voice,
Forever singing, as they shine,
THE HAND THAT MADE US IS DIVINE."
What more does man want to know than that the hand or power that made all things is divine and all-powerful? Man can believe this with a belief that cannot be shaken. If a man will act according to his reason, then he will naturally lead a good moral life.
The verses in Job have the same idea in them as the ones in Psalms. They use truths that are known, in order to understand or prove truths that would otherwise be unknown.
I don't remember enough of the passages in Job to show them here correctly. But I do remember one verse that relates to the subject we are talking about. "Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection?"
I don't know how the printers laid out this verse, because I don't keep a bible. But it asks two important questions that need good answers.
First, "Canst thou by searching find out God?". Yes, because I know that I did not make myself, yet I exist. When I look at the nature of other things, I find that they could not make themselves either. Yet millions of things exist. Therefore, I can know for sure that there is power that is greater than all those things. That power is God.
Secondly, "Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection?". No, because I cannot fathom the power and wisdom used in the order of the Creation that I see. Yet even this must be a small display of his immense power. For he is able to create and maintain millions of other worlds that are too far away for me to see.
It is clear that both of these questions were meant to be answered by way of reason. It is only by answering the first question with a 'Yes', that the second question could follow. It would have been useless and silly to have the more difficult second question, if the answer to the first question had been a 'No'. Each question has a different purpose. The first refers to the existence of God. The second refers to his qualities. Reason can be used to determine that God exists, but it falls far short in discovering all of Gods qualities.
I can't think of a single verse written by an apostle that describes what God is. Those writings are mainly controversial. They dwell upon a man dying in agony on a cross. These subjects are more appropriate for a gloomy monk (who probably wrote them anyway), than they are for any man breathing the open air of the Creation. The only verse I can think of that refers to knowing God by his works was attributed to Jesus. He said "Behold the lilies of the field, they toil not, neither do they spin". However, even this is not as good as those verses in Job and the 19th Psalm. But the idea is the same. It sounds just like what a modest man such as Jesus would have said.
As for the Christian system of faith, it almost seems like a kind of Atheism- a sort of denial of God. It claims to believe in a man rather than God (more like MANism than Deism). It is as close to Atheism as evening is to darkness. It puts something called a Redeemer between man and the Creator, in the same way that the moon is between the earth and the sun. By doing this it produces a religious (or not so religious) darkness. It has put the whole orbit of reason into shade.
The effect of this dimness is that everything is upside down and opposite of what it should be. Because it is so turned around, it has also turned around theology.
What we now call "natural philosophy" includes the study of all sciences, especially that of astronomy. It is this philosophy that studies the works of God, and the power and wisdom of God in his works. It is the true theology.
The theology that is studied instead is the study of human opinions and of human imaginations about God. It is not the study of God based on his works, but instead is a study of the works and writings of man. It is a sad thing that the Christian system has done to the world. It has abandoned the original and beautiful system of theology to make room for the ugliness of superstition.
Even Christians admit that the Book of Job and the 19th Psalm are among the oldest writings in the bible. They conform very nicely to the original system of theology. The internal evidence in these writings prove that the study of Creation, and the power and wisdom of God that is revealed in that Creation, were an important part of theology back then. It was this study of the Creation that eventually led to the principles of science. It is the discovery of these principles that contribute to nearly every comfort of human life. Nearly every art that we now have is based in some part on scientific principles (even though the person doing the manual work rarely makes that connection).
It is false for Christianity to call the sciences a human invention. It is only the application of science that is human. Every science is based on a system of principles that are as fixed and unchanging as those that rule the universe. Man cannot make principles, he can only discover them.
For example: Any person who looks at an almanac can find out when an eclipse will take place. He also finds that this information is always correct. This shows that man has an understanding of how planets move. But it would be foolish for any Church on earth to say that these laws are a human invention. It would also be foolish to say that the principles behind the scientific instruments that are used to predict an eclipse are human inventions. Man cannot invent things that are eternal and unchanging. The scientific principles that man uses to determine the timing of an eclipse must be as eternal and unchanging as the laws that move the planets.
Trigonometry is the main scientific principle that man uses to predict an eclipse (or anything else related to the motion of the objects in space). When trigonometry (or the properties of a triangle) is used to determine the motions of objects in space, it is called astronomy. When it is used to direct a ship on the ocean, it is called navigation. When it is used for drawing with a ruler and compass, it is call geometry. When used for building, it is called architecture. When it is used for measuring the surface of the earth, it is called land surveying. In fact, trigonometry is the soul of science. It is an eternal truth. It contains the math that man uses everyday, and all its uses are still unknown.
Someone may say that man can draw a triangle, and therefore a triangle is a human invention.
But when a triangle is drawn, it is simply the image of the principle. When the eyes see its shape, a principle can be understood that might have otherwise been missed. The triangle does not create the principle, any more than taking light into a dark room creates furniture that was previously unseen. All the properties of a triangle exist totally apart from the actual drawn shape. Those properties existed before man ever drew or thought of a triangle. Man had nothing to do with the properties of a triangle, and had nothing to do with the laws that move the objects in space. Therefore, both of these properties must have come from God.
In the same way that a man can draw a triangle, he can also make a lever. But the principle behind the operation of a lever is separate from the actual instrument itself. The principle would exist even if the lever did not. The principle attaches itself to the lever after the lever is made. Therefore, the lever cannot act any other way than the way it acts. No human effort can make it act any other way. The effect of the lever is simply the principle in action.
Since man cannot make principles, then where did he learn about them? How is he able to use principles to understand things on earth and motions in space? There is no other place he could learn them but from the study of true theology.
Man got this knowledge by studying the order of the universe. That order is an eternal display of every principle on which we base our mathematical science. The offshoot of this science is mechanics. Mechanics is simply the principles of science used in a practical way. The man who designs a mill uses the same principles as if he were constructing a universe. But since he cannot create gravity (the same power that controls motion in the universe), he settles for the humble use of teeth and cogs. All the things in our small everyday life rely on gravity. But if man could discover the secret of gravity and be able to use it in wonderful, practical ways, then we could almost say that a new book in the Word of God had been discovered.
If a man could change the properties of the lever, he could also change the properties of the triangle. A lever forms the shape of a triangle when it is in motion. (Hold the ends of a pencil with each hand. Now raise one end of the pencil. You will see that this motion makes the shape of a triangle). The other arm of the lever also makes the shape of a triangle. When calculated scientifically (using geometry, sines, tangents and secants), we find that the two arms of the lever have the same proportions to each other as the different weights have that will balance on the lever (excluding, of course, the weight of the lever).
Someone might also say that man can make a wheel and axis, and that he can put different size wheels together to make a mill. Still, the idea is the same. He did not make the principle that gives the wheels those powers. That principle is as unchangeable as the ones we discussed before. It is the same kind of principle. It just has a different function.
The power that two wheels of different sizes have on each other is proportionally the same as if half of the diameters of each wheel were joined together to make a lever. Scientifically speaking, the two wheels are simply the two circles that would be drawn if you were to completely rotate each leg of a lever.
All knowledge of science is learned from the study of true theology. All arts are based on the knowledge of science.
The Almighty Teacher has displayed the principles of science in the structure of the universe. He invites us to study and imitate it. It's as if he is saying "I have made an earth for man to live on, and I have made the starry heavens visible, to teach him science and the arts. He can now provide for his own comfort, AND LEARN FROM MY GENEROSITY TO ALL, TO BE KIND TO EACH OTHER".
What use is it for the eye to be able to see such vast distances into space, if it is not for the reason to teach us something? It is important that we make use of the fact that we can see Pleiades, Orion, Sirius, the North Star, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury. Otherwise, our sight is just wasted by gazing at the glittering show in space.
It is only by learning the science offered in the textbook of the starry sky, that we find use in being able to see them. When a man thinks of it in this way, he finds another reason for saying that nothing was made in vain. For it would indeed be vain if we did not learn from it.
In the same way that the Christian system of faith changed theology, it changed the way we learn. What we now call 'learning', is not what it was originally. In spite of what the schools say, learning does not consist in the knowledge of languages. Instead, learning is based on the knowledge of THINGS that language describes.
The Greeks were well educated. But, for them, learning did not consist of speaking Greek, any more than a Roman speaking Latin, or a Frenchman speaking French, or an Englishman speaking English. From what we know of the Greeks, they apparently did not know or speak any language but their own. This was one reason they were so educated. It gave them more time to study better things. The Greeks had schools of science and philosophy, not languages. Learning consists in the knowledge that is taught by science and philosophy.
Nearly all the scientific learning that we have now came to us from the Greeks (or the people that spoke the Greek language). Therefore, it became necessary for some people of other nations to learn Greek, and translate Greek books of science and philosophy in order take advantage of all the learning that the Greeks had accumulated.
The study of Greek was simply a necessary evil that had to be done in order to obtain the learning of the Greeks. Learning the Greek language, and learning what the Greeks knew, were two separate things. It was very likely that the people who learned the Greek language and did the translations, probably didn't even understand any of the learning that those works contained.
Since all the useful Greek books have already been translated, the Greek language is now useless. Any time spent learning Greek is basically a waste. The study of languages might add to the progress of communication and knowledge, but it has nothing to do with the creation of knowledge. It is only in currently active languages that new knowledge is to be found. One thing is certain, a youth will be able to learn more of an active language in one year than he could learn of a dead language in seven (the teacher probably doesn't even know much of it himself). The reason learning dead languages is hard is not necessarily because it is difficult to learn, but because the pronunciation is entirely lost. The same would be true of any other dead language. The best Greek linguist now alive does not understand Greek nearly so well as a Grecian farmer did, or even a milkmaid. The same is true for Latin, and a Roman farmer or milkmaid. Therefore, it would be a great advantage to education if we did away with the study of dead languages. Education needs to be based in scientific knowledge, as it was originally.
The excuse that is sometimes made for continuing to teach dead languages in schools, is that it is done at a time when a child memorizes better than he can do other serious study. This is totally untrue. The human mind has a natural bent toward things related to scientific knowledge. The first and favorite things that children love to do is imitate works done by man. For example, building houses with cards or sticks; or making a paper boat to float in water; or block the water in a gutter, and make something like a mill. When children are playing this way, they take it very seriously and love what they are doing. After this the child goes to school and his creative genius is killed by the dry, boring study of a dead language. The philosopher in the child is stifled by the linguist.
But the reason given above for continuing to teach dead languages in schools is not the real reason. The reason must be found somewhere else. Studies have shown that this reason can be found in the internal evidence, and in the circumstances that surround it. Both are easy to find.
Let us set aside for the moment the outrage to Gods moral justice in thinking that he makes the innocent suffer for the guilty. Let us also set aside the loose morals and cheap scam that he changed himself into a man; so that he would have an excuse for not following through with his so-called punishment of Adam. Putting those things aside, we see the Christian faith with its silly account of creation- the strange story of Eve- the snake and the apple- the doubtful idea of a god/man- the physical death of a god- the myth of a family of gods, and the Christian system of arithmetic where three is one, and one is three. All of these things cannot be reconciled with the gift of reason that God has given man. Neither can it be reconciled with the knowledge of the power and wisdom of God that man gains from science, and from studying the structure of Gods universe.
Those who set up the Christian religion undoubtedly knew that this gain in knowledge would eventually call into question the truth of their system of faith. Therefore, they thought it was necessary to reduce education down to a level that would be less dangerous to their project. They did this by restricting education to the study of dead languages.
They were not only against the study of science in Christian schools, but they actually went so far as to persecute it. It has only been within the last two centuries that the study of science has been revived in the schools. In 1610, Galileo discovered and began using telescopes. By using them to observe the motions of objects in space, he provided new information for learning the true structure of the universe. But instead of being admired, he was forced to renounce the results of his discoveries as heresy. Prior to that time, Vigilius was burned at the stake for claiming that the world was actually a globe, and that people could live anywhere there was land. Of course, now that truth is obvious to everyone.
If there were no harm in false beliefs that are not morally bad, then we would feel no need to oppose them and have them removed. It was not morally bad to believe the world was flat, any more than it was morally good to believe it was a globe. Neither is it morally bad to believe that God only created life on this planet, any more than it is morally good to believe that he created life on millions of worlds throughout the universe. But when a religion joins with a false story of creation, then it becomes a completely different matter. This is when beliefs that are not morally bad, cause the same harm as if they were. It is then that the truth becomes important in determining if the religion is real. In this case, it is our moral duty to try to determine the truth about the structure of the universe, and compare that to the claims of various religions. Of course the Christians, as if dreading the results, have constantly been opposed to this. Not only did they reject the study of science, but they persecuted the scientists. If Newton or Descartes had lived three or four hundred years ago, and pursued their studies as they did, it is most likely that they would not have lived to finish them. If Franklin had drawn lightning from the clouds back then, he probably would have been burned at the stake.
Later, they laid blame on Goth and Vandal. But even though they don't want to admit it, it is true that the age of ignorance started with the Christian system. There was more knowledge in the world before Christianity than there was for many centuries after. As a religion, the Christian system was simply another mythology. The mythology that Christianity is based on is a slightly different form of an ancient system of theism.*
*It is impossible for us to know when the heathen mythology began. But based on internal evidence, it is certain that it did not begin in the same way it ended up. All the gods of that mythology (except Saturn) came later on. However, before the heathen mythology, there was the supposed reign of Saturn. This belief was so theistic that they believed in only one God. Supposedly, Saturn gave up his throne to his three sons and one daughter, Jupiter, Pluto, Neptune, and Juno. After this, thousands of other gods were invented. The number of gods grew as fast then, as the number of saints and courts have grown since.
All the problems in theology and religion have been the result of what we call "revealed religion". The Mythologists had a more revealed religion than the Christians do. They had oracles and priests whose job it was to relay the word of God on nearly all occasions.
Since then, all the problems in theology (from Moloch to the modern belief in predestination; from heathen human sacrifice to the Christian sacrifice of the Creator) have been caused by revealed religion. The most effective way to prevent these kinds of problems is to not believe in any revelation other than what we see in the Creation. We should accept the creation as the only true word of God that has ever, or ever will exist. Everything else called the word of God is false.
It is due to the long silence of science that we now have to look back many hundreds of years to find respectable men we call "the ancients". If the progress of knowledge had not been interrupted, all those years would have been filled with men whose knowledge would have increased; and the ancients would have faded respectfully into the background. But Christianity has laid that all to waste. If we stood in the sixteenth century and looked back to the time of the ancients, it would be like looking out over a vast sandy desert in which there is not a single shrub to block our view to the fertile hills beyond.
It is totally inconsistent that any religion would think that it is irreligious to study the structure of the universe. But it is a fact that can't be denied. The event that finally broke this long chain of ignorance was the Reformation by Luther. From that time on (although it doesn't appear to have been Luther or the Reformers intention), the sciences started to make a come back. Liberal thinking also started to appear. This was really the only good thing that came from the Reformation. It didn't seem to help religion at all. The Christian mythology continued on. The revolt against Catholicism only increased the number of protestant denominations that sprang up to take its place.
Based on the internal evidence, we have shown what caused the change in education, and the motive for studying dead languages instead of science. I now move on to confront the differences between the structure of the universe and the claims of Christianity. But before I begin, I want to refer to some ideas that occurred to me in my youth. I'm sure that almost everyone has had similar thoughts at some point in their lives. I will state these ideas, and expand on them. But first let me give a brief introduction.
My father was a Quaker, and I was fortunate to have had good morals and a reasonably good education. Though I went to grammar school,* I did not learn Latin. This was not only because I had no desire to, but also because the Quakers objected to the books used to teach that language. However, this did not keep me from becoming familiar with the subjects in those books.
*The same school, Thetford In Norfolk that the present Counselor Mingay went to and under the same teacher.
My mind was naturally drawn to science. I did have some talent for poetry, but I did not pursue this because I thought it was not practical. As soon as I could, I purchased a pair of globes. I attended the philosophical lectures of Martin and Ferguson, and afterwards became friends with Dr. Bevis of the society called the Royal Society (then living in the Temple), who was an excellent astronomer.
I had no desire to get into politics. When I thought of politics, the only word that came to mind was Jockyship (Jockeying for position). Therefore when I did begin to get involved in government, I had to form a system for myself that matched up with the moral and philosophic principles in which I had been educated. I could see a great opportunity for America. It seemed to me that America needed to change its relationship with England and declare themselves independent. By doing this, they could avoid many difficulties and take advantage of a great opportunity. This was the motive behind my book called 'Common Sense', which was the first book I ever published. As far as I can tell, I don't believe I would have ever been known as an author if it hadn't been for the affairs of America. I wrote Common Sense near the end of 1775, and published it on January 1st, 1776. Independence was declared the following 4th of July.
Any person who has given it any thought, must realize that there are two distinct classes of what we call Thoughts. There are those that we produce ourselves by reflection and the act of thinking. But there are also those that just bolt into our minds all by themselves. I have always made it a rule to treat those kind of thoughts with respect, taking care to see if they were worth entertaining. It is from these that I have gained nearly all the knowledge that I have. As for school education, it really only serves to teach you to start learning for yourself. Every educated person is ultimately his own teacher. The reason for this is that principles (as opposed to circumstances) cannot be simply memorized; they must be understood. They make their most lasting impression when you conceive them yourself. So much for the introduction.
From the time that I was able to think of an idea and act on it, I doubted the truth of Christianity and considered it to be very odd. I remember when I was about seven or eight hearing a sermon preached by one of my relatives. He was a very strong Christian, and he was preaching on the subject of redemption by the death of the Son of God. After that sermon, I walked out to the garden, and as I was going down the garden steps (I remember the exact spot), I revolted at the idea I had just heard. I thought it sounded like God was acting like a common man by killing his son when he couldn't get revenge any other way. I was sure that any man would be hanged that would do such a thing. I couldn't understand why they would preach such a sermon. These were not just childish thoughts. I took them very seriously. They were based on my idea that God was just too good to do such a thing; and was too almighty for something like that to even be necessary. I still feel the same way today. On top of that, I believe that any system of religion that shocks the mind of a child cannot be a true system.
It almost seems like Christian parents were ashamed to tell their children anything about their religious principles. Sure, they may teach them good morals, or talk about the goodness of the 'Providence' (The Christian mythology has five gods. There is God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, the God Providence, and the Goddess Nature). But they won't talk to their child about how God the Father killed his son (actually, he had other people do it for him). It even makes it worse to say that this was done in order to make man happier and better (as if murder could make us better!). To say it is a big mystery is just an excuse for it being so unbelievable.
This is so different from the pure and simple theology of Deism! The true Deist only has one God, and his religion consists in meditating on the power, wisdom, and gentleness of God that he sees in his creation. He tries to imitate his God in all things moral, scientific, and practical.
The religion that comes closest to Deism is that of the Quakers. But they made their system too narrow by leaving out the works of God. Though I respect their efforts to promote human welfare, I can't help smiling at their self-admiration. If God had consulted a Quaker during the creation, what a silent, drab-colored creation it would have been! The flowers would not have blossomed into their brightly colored blooms, nor would the birds have been allowed to sing.
But let me proceed... I had learned all I could about the globes and the orrery,* and had some idea about the vastness of space, and the infinite divisibility of matter. I had gained at least a general knowledge of natural philosophy. So I began to compare (confront would be a better word) the eternal evidence in those things against Christianity.
* Some who are reading this book may not be familiar with an orrery, since its name does not give an indication of what it is. For their information I add the following notes. The orrery gets its name from the person who invented it. It is a clock-like device that represents a miniature universe. It shows how the earth, moon and planets rotate and revolve around the sun. It also shows the relative distances between the planets, and their size. Plus, it shows how the sun is in the center of our system. It is an accurate representation of our solar system.
Although it is not a direct article of Christianity, they obviously believe that God only created life on this planet. From their Mosaic account of creation; the story of Eve and the apple; and the related story of the death of the Son of God, it is apparent that their system would look little and ridiculous if they were to believe that God created life on as many worlds as there are stars in the sky. You can't believe both of these things at the same time. The person who thinks he does, really hasn't given much thought to either.
Even though the ancients believed in other life in the universe, it has only been in the last three centuries that we have learned the true size and shape of the earth. Several ships have been able to sail around the world in the same way that someone might walk in a large circle. After they went around, they ended up back where they started. The distance around the center of the earth is only about 25,020 miles. This is assuming sixty-nine and a half miles per equatorial degree. You can sail around the world in about three years.*
* At three miles per hour, a ship could sail around the world in less than a year if she could sail in a direct circle. However, this can't be done because she has to follow the course of the ocean.
At first we might think that our earth is very large. But if we compare it against the vastness of space (where it hangs like a balloon or a bubble) it is infinitely smaller than the smallest grain of sand or finest particle of water in the whole ocean. It is extremely small. As we will show, it is just one of a whole system of worlds in the universe.
It is not too difficult to get some idea of the vastness of space if we think through a series of ideas. When we think of the size and shape of a room, our ideas limit themselves to the walls and stop there. However, when we look up into open space, we cannot think of any walls surrounding it. If, to make things easier, we do try to imagine a boundary, then the question immediately pops up- "But then what is beyond that boundary?"; and after that, "Then what is beyond THAT boundary?". We can go on with this line of questioning until we finally realize that there is in fact no end. It is obvious that God was not short on space when he made the earth so small. We have to find the answer somewhere else.
If we look at the world God has given us to live in, we find that all of it- the earth, the waters, and the air surrounding it- is filled and crowded with life. From the largest animals that we know of, all the way down to the smallest insects our eyes can see, and even further down to others that can only be seen with a microscope. Every tree, every plant, every leaf, serves as a world unto itself for some population of life. It continues on down until the mere odor given off by a blade of grass would be food for thousands.
Therefore, since there is no part of our earth that is not occupied, why would anyone think that life does not exist anywhere else in the vast universe? There is plenty of room for worlds as large, or larger than ours; each of them millions of miles apart from each other.
At this point, if we take it one step further, we will be able to see the true reason for our happiness. We will see why the Creator thought it was a good idea to divide matter up in to separate planets (like earth), rather than creating one immense planet that spread out across the vastness of space. But before I explain my ideas about this, I need to take a moment to describe what the universe is for those who don't know.
Our solar system (which is the system of planets that surround our sun), consists of the Sun, six planets, as well as the moons surrounding those planets. The earth has a moon that moves along with it as she makes her annual trip around the Sun. The other planets make a trip around the Sun in the same way. This can be seen with the help of a telescope.
Each of the six planets travel in a large circle around the Sun, and are generally in the same plane with each other. Each world follows in nearly the same track as it goes around the Sun. It rotates on its axis like a top, and leans a little to the side.
It is this leaning of the earth (23.5 degrees) that causes summer and winter, and the different lengths of night and day. If the earth did not lean, the days and nights would always be 12 hours long, and the seasons would be the same throughout the year.
Every time the earth makes a complete turn, it creates what we call night and day. Every time it goes completely around the Sun it makes what we call a year. Each year the earth will rotate three hundred and sixty-five times.*
* Those who thought the sun went around the earth every 24 hours made the mistake of thinking that the fire goes around the meat, instead of the meat turning around towards the fire.
We still use the same names for the planets that were given to them by the ancients. They are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. When you look at them, they appear to be larger than the stars. This is because they are many millions of miles closer to Earth than the stars are. Sometimes we call the planet Venus the evening star or the morning star. This is because it rises or sets before the Sun (but never by more than three hours).
The planet closest to the Sun is Mercury. Mercury is thirty-four million miles away from the Sun, and maintains this distance as it moves in a circle around it. The second planet is Venus. Venus is fifty-seven million miles away from the sun. The third planet is our planet Earth, which is eighty-eight million miles away from the Sun. The fourth planet is Mars, which is one hundred and thirty-four million miles from the Sun. The fifth is Jupiter, which is five-hundred and fifty-seven million miles away from the Sun. The sixth planet is Saturn, which is seven hundred and sixty-three million miles away from the Sun. Each of the planets move in their respective circles around the Sun, with Saturn making the largest circle of all.
This means that the space taken up by our solar system can be calculated by taking the distance from the Sun to Saturn, and doubling it. This comes up to be fifteen hundred and twenty-six million miles. The distance Saturn travels as it makes its circle around the Sun is nearly five thousand million miles. The globe-shaped area inside Saturn's orbit is almost three thousand five hundred million times three thousand five hundred million square miles.*
* If someone should ask how man can know this, I have a plain answer. Man knows how to calculate the timing of an eclipse, and also can calculate to a minute the time when the planet Venus will come into a straight line between the earth and the sun (it looks like a large pea as it passes across the face of the sun). This only happens twice in a hundred years, about eight years apart. It has happened twice in our time, and both times were calculated correctly ahead of time. It can also be correctly calculated when it will occur at any time in the future. Since man would not be able to do these things unless he understood the solar system, it is proof that we have the knowledge. Even if we are off by a few thousand, or million miles, it barely makes a difference when talking about such vast distances.
Even though our solar system is so incredibly large, it is only one small system. Beyond this, at a vast distance into space, far beyond our ability to calculate, are the bodies we call fixed stars. They are called fixed because they do not have orbits in the same sense as our planets. Those fixed stars are always the same distance from each other, and are always in the same place (similar to our Sun). Each of these stars have their own set of planets that are simply too remote for us to discover. These planets orbit around their star just like our planets orbit around our Sun.
With this easy progression of ideas, it is clear to see that the immensity of space is filled with systems of worlds. No part of space is wasted, any more than any part of the earth and water is unoccupied.
With this casual explanation of the structure of the universe, I now return to my point which was this: God had a good reason to create a vast number of worlds in the universe, instead of making one enormous world that extended throughout space.
Something I have never lost sight of, is that all our knowledge of science springs from the fact that the planets orbit around the Sun.
If all the matter contained in all our planets had been combined into a single globe, then no revolutionary motion would have existed. Thus, we would not have the knowledge of science that we do now. Science is the basis for all the mechanical arts that provide so much of our happiness and comfort here on earth.
Since God did not make anything that is useless, we must believe that he organized the universe in such a way that would most benefit man. As we see and experience the benefits that we have gained from the universe being the way it is, then we know at least one good reason why God created so many worlds. This reason should cause us to admire and be grateful to God.
But it is not just the inhabitants of the earth that benefit from the fact that God created many worlds. The life that exists on each of the worlds in our system have the same opportunity for knowledge that we do. They see the revolutionary movement of our earth in the same way we see theirs. All the planets revolve within sight of each other. So, they have access to the same universal school of science that we do.
But there is more. The solar system next to ours shows the very same principles of science to those inhabitants, as ours does. This is true throughout the vastness of space.
Our ideas concerning the greatness of God, as well as his wisdom and generosity, grow as we think about the vastness of the universe and it's structure. Instead of being alone in space, we can now have the idea of a whole community of worlds. All of them made in such a way as to give knowledge to man. Our earth is filled with abundance. But we forget that much of that abundance is the result of the scientific knowledge provided by the vast structure of the universe.
So what are we to think of Christianity, and their idea that life only exists on our small world; A world that is only twenty-five thousand miles around; A world that a man walking three miles an hour, for twelve hours a day, could completely walk around in less than two years? What is this one small world compared to the vastness of space and the almighty power of God?
Can we seriously believe that God, who has millions of worlds depending on him, would abandon them so he could come to die in our world just because one man and one woman ate an apple? On the other hand, are we to believe that every world in the creation had an Eve, an apple, a serpent, and a redeemer? In this case, the Son of God (or God if you prefer) would have nothing else to do but travel around from world to world, in an endless series of deaths. He would hardly have time to be alive.
It is by rejecting the natural evidence that we see in God's creation, that so many wild and silly systems of faith and religion have been invented and set up. There may be many systems of religion that are not morally very bad, and might even be good in some respects. But there can be only ONE true religion. The true religion will be the one that is consistent with the evidence seen in Gods work of creation. But with the Christian religion, all the evidence in the Heavens either contradicts it or makes it seem absurd.
I believe there are men in the world who are convinced that a religious lie might, under some circumstances, do some good. But once the lie has been established, it is difficult to undo. Religious lies are like bad deeds. Once they start, they hard to stop.
The people who first preached the Christian system of faith (and attempted to combine it with the morality taught by Jesus), probably convinced themselves that the system was better than the heathen mythology that was then in fashion. The first preachers taught the lie to the second, and to the third, until the idea that it was actually a lie got lost. It began to be thought of as the truth. Of course preachers who made their living at it encouraged this belief.
We understand how such a belief might have been accepted among the general population. However, it is impossible to understand why the Church continually persecuted science and scientists, unless the Church was trying to hide some evidence that it was actually a fraud; or unless they understood that it would not stand up against the evidence provided by the structure of the universe.
Now that I have shown the irreconcilable differences between the Bible (that any man could have written), and the real word of God that exists in the universe, I will now give the three main ways that have been used down through the ages to force this lie on mankind.
Those three things are Mystery, Miracle, and Prophecy. Mystery and Miracles are incompatible with true religion; and we should always be suspicious of Prophecy.
As for Mystery, everything we see is in one sense a mystery to us. Our own existence is a mystery. The whole vegetable world is a mystery. We cannot fully understand how an acorn can develop into an oak tree. We don't know how a seed can unfold and multiply itself, and give us such an abundant return on such a small investment.
The fact that it DOES happen is not a mystery, because we can see it. We also know we can cause it to happen by simply dropping the seed into the ground. Therefore, we know as much as we need to know. The part that we don't need to know (and wouldn't be able to do anyway), the Creator does for us. So we are better off letting him do that part for us.
In this sense, every created thing is a mystery. However, the word mystery cannot be applied to moral truth, any more than darkness can be applied to light. The God we believe in is a God of moral truth, not a God of mystery or darkness. Mystery is the enemy of truth. It is a fog invented by humans, that clouds and distorts the truth. Truth never surrounds itself in mystery. If it is surrounded in mystery, it is the work of the enemy.
Religion is the belief in God, and the practice of moral truth. Mystery can have no part of it. The belief in a God is far from being a mystery. Of all beliefs, it is the easiest. As we discussed before, we have good reason to believe in God. The practice of moral truth is just an imitation of the moral goodness of God. We simply treat each other as he so kindly treats us. We are unable to serve God in the same way that we can serve those who are truly in need. Therefore, the way to serve God is to contribute to the happiness of our fellow creatures that God has made. This cannot be done by avoiding others, and spending our lives thinking only of ourselves.
The very nature of religion was designed to be free of mystery, or anything that is mysterious. Finding true religion is the duty of every living soul. Therefore, it should be something that everyone can understand and comprehend. Man does not learn religion like he learns the secrets and mysteries of a trade. He learns the theory of religion by thinking. It comes naturally into his thoughts by the things he sees, hears, or reads. His practice of religion is based on this.
Men used religious lies to set up a system of religion that was incompatible with the works of God that we see in the creation; and is offensive to human understanding. They had to come up with a word that could be used to block all questions or speculation. The word mystery served this purpose quite nicely. Religion (which is not mysterious), has now been perverted into a fog of mysteries.
As Mystery served a good general purpose, Miracles also came in handy on occasion. Mystery helped to confuse the mind. Miracles puzzled the senses. Mystery was the talk, while Miracles were the magic.
Before we get into this subject, it would be good to understand what a miracle is.
Everything can be considered to be a miracle in the same sense that everything can be considered a mystery. No one thing is a greater miracle than another. Even though the elephant is larger, that does not mean it is a greater miracle than a mite. Neither is a mountain a greater miracle than an atom. To almighty God, it is not any more difficult to make one than the other. It is not any more difficult to make millions of worlds than it is to make one. Therefore, in one sense, everything is a miracle. In another sense, there is no such thing as a miracle. It may be a miracle when compared to our limited power and understanding, although it is not a miracle to the Almighty Creator. But since this description does not explain the idea behind the word Miracle, we need to look into it a little further.
Man expects nature to act according to certain natural laws. A miracle is something that does not act according to those laws. But if we don't know all the laws of nature, then we really can't judge whether something is actually a miracle or not.
It seems like a miracle that man can fly several miles up into the air. However, we know that we can do this with the help of a balloon and a very special kind of air known as Helium. In the same way, seeing sparks come from your finger, or causing metal to move with no visible means, would also seem like a miracle. However, we know how this occurs because of static electricity and magnetism. Many other things in the natural world would seem to be a miracle to those who did not understand it. Bringing a drowned person back to life would seem like a miracle to those who did not understand that someone can be alive although they appear to be completely dead.
Besides this, magicians are able to use sleight-of-hand and accomplices to do things that look like miracles. But once we know the trick, we think nothing of it. In addition, there are mechanical and optical illusions. In Paris, there is an exhibit of ghosts that is really quite amazing, even though they let you know it is just a trick. Since we do not fully understand all of nature or the arts, there is really no way to determine what a miracle is. People who believe that miracles exist are setting themselves up to be fooled.
We can be deceived by appearances. Things that are not real can look like they are real. It would be totally inconsistent for God to use miracles. People would be suspicious of the person who claimed to perform them, and the person who claimed to see one would be suspected of lying. The religious doctrine that was supposed to be proved by the miracle would not be taken seriously.
The claim of miracles to prove a religious system is the most inconsistent that religion has; even if it caused someone to believe they were real. In the first place, whenever one has to put on a show (miracles are nothing but a show) to get someone to believe something, it indicates a weakness in the doctrine being preached. In the second place, it degrades God into a carnival showman who does tricks to make the people stare and wonder. It is the most uncertain kind of evidence that can be used. Belief will not depend on the miracle, but will depend on the credibility of the person who says he saw it. Therefore, even if the thing were true, it would have no better chance of being believed than if it were a lie.
Suppose I were to say, that when I sat down to write this book, a hand appeared in the air, took up a pen, and wrote every word. Would anybody believe me? Certainly not. Would they believe me if it were actually true? Certainly not. If a real miracle were to actually happen, it would suffer the same fate as if it didn't. That God would make use of true miracles when he knows they wouldn't accomplish what he intended, would be very inconsistent.
When a person says he saw a miracle that falls outside the laws of nature, it raises a question in our minds. Which is more likely... that something happened outside the laws of nature, or that a man might tell a lie? We have never in our life seen nature break its own laws. But we have good reason to believe that millions of lies have been told. There is at least a million to one odds that the reporter of the miracle told a lie.
Though a whale is large enough to do it, the story of the whale swallowing Jonah borders on the miraculous. But it would have been even more of a miracle if Jonah had swallowed the whale. This example will do. So, let us ask again... Is it more likely that a man swallowed a whale, or told a lie?
But suppose that Jonah really had swallowed the whale, and carried it in his belly to Nineveh. What if he had thrown up the full sized whale right before their eyes in order to convince the people that it was true? They would have thought he was a devil instead of a prophet. If the whale had carried Jonah to Ninevah and thrown him up right before their eyes, wouldn't they have thought the whale was a devil and Jonah was one of his imps?
One of the most extraordinary miracles in the New Testament is that of the devil flying away with Jesus to the top of a high mountain; and to the top of the highest pinnacle of the temple. There he showed and promised Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. How was it that he did not discover America? Is his sooty highness only interested in kingdoms?
I have too much respect for the moral character of Christ to believe that he told this whale of a miracle himself. Neither is it easy to figure out the purpose for it. Maybe it was to impress the admirers of Queen Anne's treasury and the collectors of relics and antiquities. Or, maybe it was to show how ridiculous miracles are, in the same way Don Quixote made chivalry seem ridiculous. Maybe it was to make us doubt miracles by causing us to wonder if it was God or the Devil who performed it. However, it requires a great deal of faith in the Devil to believe this miracle.
Any way you look at it, miracles are probably not real or necessary. As mentioned before, they would not serve any useful purpose even if they were real. It is more difficult to get someone to believe in a miracle, than it is to get someone to accept a good moral principle without a miracle. Moral principles universally speak for themselves. A miracle is a thing that happens at one point in time. Anytime after that, you must put your faith in the person who told you it happened, instead of God. Therefore, we should think of miracles as proof that a religious system is false rather than true. Miracles should be thought of as a crutch for truth, and should be rejected. Falsehood will always try to make use of things that truth would deny. So much for mystery and miracles.
In the same way that mystery and miracle relates to the past and present, prophecy tries to cover all the bases by relating to the future. It was not enough to know what had been done, but we also had to cover what would be done in the future. The so-called prophet is a historian of future times. If he made a prediction that came within a thousand miles of the mark, the clever thinking of people in the future could make it a bulls eye. If he made a prediction that turned out to be dead wrong, then we just assume that God must have repented and changed his mind (as he did in the case of Jonah and Nineveh). False belief systems make such fools out of man!
As we showed earlier, the original meaning of the words prophet and prophesying have been changed. The word prophet as it is normally used today, is something invented during later times. Because of this change in meaning, the words used by the Jewish poets are difficult to understand correctly. This is because we are not familiar with the local circumstances that caused them to be written. They have been turned into prophecies. Scholars and commentaries have changed the meaning of the words to fit their own purposes. Everything that was unclear was turned into a prophecy, and everything that was insignificant was turned into a 'type'. A mistake would make a nice prophecy, and a dishrag a nice 'type'.
Lets suppose for a moment that a prophet is a man that knows something that God told him about the future. Either these kind of men existed, or they didn't. If they did exist, it would be reasonable to think that those predictions would have been worded in a way that would be easy to understand. They would not have been worded in such a way that no one could understand them. They would not have so many meanings that they could be used to fit any circumstance that might occur later on. It is disrespectful to God to think that he would treat man in such a silly way. Yet the prophecies in the Bible are exactly that.
As with miracles, prophecies do not serve the purpose even if they were real. People who hear a prophecy don't know if the man really prophesied or lied. They don't know whether it was revealed to him, or if he made it up. If the prophecy does come true (or close to true), nobody could know if the prophet knew it, or just guessed it. It may have just happened by accident. Therefore, a prophet is useless and unnecessary. To play it safe we should keep ourselves from being fooled by not taking these people seriously.
All in all, mystery, miracle, and prophecy are things that belong to false religions, not the true one. They are the reason so many false claims are made around the world, and the reason religion has become a business. The success of one impostor encouraged others to give it a try. By sprinkling in a few good deeds, they were able to maintain the religious lie that kept them from feeling guilty.
I have discussed this subject longer than I meant to, so I will bring it to a close by summarizing everything we have said.
First- The idea that the word of God exists in print, writing, or in speech is inconsistent for all the reasons we have discussed. These reasons include the lack of a universal language; that language is subject to change; that translations are subject to error; the possibility of it being kept secret; the probability that it was changed or made up, and forced on the world.
Secondly- That the Creation we see is the real and eternal word of God. It cannot lie to us. It proclaims his power. It demonstrates his wisdom. It shows us his goodness and generosity.
Thirdly- That the moral duty of man is to imitate the moral goodness and generosity of God that we see in the creation that he has given us. As we see the goodness of God to all men, so should all men show goodness to each other. Because of this, we know it is morally wrong for men to persecute or have revenge against one another. We also see that it is morally wrong to be cruel to animals.
I do not worry about an afterlife. I feel content and secure in the knowledge that the Power that gave me life is able to continue it if he decides to. It could be in any form chooses; either with or without a body. It seems more likely to me that I will continue to exist in an afterlife, than that I existed in a life before this one.
One thing is clear. All the nations on earth, and all religions, agree that there is a God. The things they disagree on is the extra baggage that goes along with it. If a universal religion ever wins over the world, it will not be by believing anything new. It will be by getting rid of the extra baggage and believing as man did in the beginning. If Adam really did exist, he was a Deist. In the meantime, let every man have the right to follow the religion and the worship he prefers.
END OF THE FIRST PART.
AGE OF REASON
PREFACE TO PART II.
In Part 1 of Age of Reason I mentioned that I had intended to publish my thoughts on religion for long time; but that I had put it off. I meant to make it my last published work. However, the circumstances in France during the latter part of 1793 caused me to believe that I should not delay it. The revolution was moving away from the just and humane philosophy that it started with. The idea that priests could forgive sins (although the idea seemed to be going out of fashion) had dulled men's feelings, and prepared them to commit all sorts of crimes. This idea is always dangerous to society, and is demeaning to God. The intolerant spirit that existed in Church-inspired persecutions had moved into politics. Members of the revolution started using the courts as a form of the previous church inquisitions. The guillotine and stake took more lives than the burnings that had been done by the Church. I saw many of my closest friends destroyed. Many others were thrown in prison every day. I had been given hints that the same thing was about to happen to me; and I certainly believed it.
I was under this pressure when I began Part 1 of the Age of Reason. Though I was writing against the Old and New Testament, I did not own either one of those; and was not able to get my hands on one. Even though I didn't have a bible, I was able to publish a work that no Bible believer can disprove.
At the end of December in that year, a motion was made and carried, that the convention would exclude foreigners. The only two foreigners in it were Anacharsis Cloots and myself. I could tell that I was being singled out by Bourdon de l'Oise, in his speech supporting that motion.
Thinking that I only had a few days of freedom left, I sat down and finished Age of Reason as quickly as I could. It was only six hours from the time I finished Part 1, that a guard showed up at three in the morning with a warrant for my arrest as a foreigner. It was signed by the two Committees of public Safety and Surety General. I was taken to the prison of the Luxembourg. On my way there, I decided to give the original copy of Age of Reason to my friend Joel Barlow. I thought it would be safer with him than with me in prison. Not knowing what would happen to me in France, I addressed the work to the protection of the citizens of the United States.
To be fair, I must say that the guard, and the interpreter from the Committee of General Surety who was with him to examine my papers, treated me with courtesy and respect. The warden of Luxembourg (a man with a good heart named Bennoit) and his family were as friendly to me as possible all during the time he was there. Eventually he lost his job and was arrested. He was brought before the court on a malicious charge, but was finally found innocent.
After I had been in the Luxembourg about three weeks, the Americans who were in Paris at the time got together and went to the convention to try to get me released, saying that I was their fellow countryman and friend. But the President (a man named Vadeir, who was also President of Surety-General) declined, saying that I had been born in England. After this, I did not hear from anyone until the fall of Robespierre on July 27, 1794.
About two months before that event, I got very sick with a fever. It was so bad that I seriously thought I might die, and I have still not recovered from it completely. It was then that I remembered with great satisfaction, that I had written Part 1 of the Age of Reason. Unfortunately, it looked as though I might die. This experience convinced me that I really did believe in the principles that I had written about.
I had three cell mates during that time. Joseph Vanhuele of Bruges, Charles Bastini, and Michael Rubyns of Louvain. I remember these men with great thankfulness, and am pleased to mention their names here. These friends constantly attended to me day and night. There was also a physician (Dr. Graham) and a surgeon (Mr. Bond) from hospital of General O'Hara who were in the Luxembourg at the time. I hope that it is appropriate for me to publicly thank them (they are from the English government); but I would be ashamed of myself if I didn't. I also want to thank Dr. Markoski, who was the physician at the Luxembourg.
I have reason to believe that this illness was what kept me alive. I certainly can't think of any other good reason why I was not put to death. A Committee of Deputies reported to the Convention that they had found among Robespierre's papers, a handwritten note by him that said:
"Demander que Thomas Paine soit decrete d'accusation, pour l'interet de l'Amerique autant que de la France."
(To demand that a decree of accusation be passed against Thomas Paine, for the interest of America, as well as of France.)
I have no idea why he did not have me put to death. I think the reason he did not, was due to my illness.
In order to try to make up for the injustice that I had received, the Convention publicly and unanimously invited me back. I accepted this offer to show that I could take an injury without having it hurt my principles or my mood. Right principles should not be abandoned just because they have been violated.
Since my release, I have seen several publications in both America and in England that were written in order to answer the Age of Reason. If this is what makes these authors happy, then I won't interrupt them. They can write against me or my work as much as they want. In a way, they are actually helping me; so I have no objections. Although I am not writing this second part as an answer to them, I think they will find that they will have to get back to work and come up with some more explanations. Their first explanations are brushed away as I move on to new issues.
They will discover that I now have an Old and New Testament. I have to say that I have found them to be even worse than I had first thought. If I made a mistake in Part 1, it was in speaking better of some parts of those books than they deserved.
I have noticed that all my opponents insist on using 'scripture evidence' and Bible authority to help them out. They misunderstand the subject so badly that they confuse a debate about authenticity with a debate about doctrines. However, I will set them right; so that if they want to write any more, they will know how to begin.
AGE OF REASON.
It has often been said that anything can be proved from the Bible. But before you can say that anything has been proven by the Bible, the Bible itself must be proved to be true. If the Bible is not true, or is in doubt, then it has no authority and cannot be used as proof of anything.
Christian priests, preachers and Bible commentators push the Bible on the world as the true word of God. They have argued, wrestled, and cursed each other over the meaning of various verses. One will say a verse means one thing; another says it means exactly the opposite; a third says it is neither of those, but something else. They refer to this as understanding the Bible!
All the responses that I have seen to Part 1 of the Age of Reason have been written by priests. These religious men, like the others before them, debate and argue; and pretend to understand the Bible. Each of them understands it differently, but each claims to understand it the best. The only thing they agree on is telling their readers that Thomas Paine does not understand it.
Instead of wasting these men's time, and getting them into heated arguments about doctrinal issues, I think it is proper for me to tell them what this is really about. We are trying to determine if there is good reason for believing the Bible to be the word of God or not.
There are some things in the Bible that God supposedly commanded to be done. Those things are as shocking to us, and every idea we have of moral justice, as anything done by Robespierre, Carrier, Joseph le Bon in France, by English in the East Indies, or by any other assassin in modern times. In the books said to have been written by Moses and Joshua, we read that the Israelites invaded nations of people who had done nothing wrong against them. We read that they slaughtered the people; that they killed the elderly and children; that they completely destroyed men, women and children; and that they did not leave a soul alive. These are expressions that are fiercely repeated over and over in those books. Are we sure these things are facts? Are we sure that the books that tell us these things were written by the authority of God?
Just because a story is very old does not mean that it is true. Just the opposite! It is an indication that it is just a myth. The older any history pretends to be, the more likely that it is a myth. The beginnings of every nation is hidden in mythical tradition. The traditions of the Jews should be as suspect as any other. They should be very concerned about accusing God of assassination, especially the killing of children. They know it is wrong; it goes against every rule of moral justice. But the Bible tells us that God commanded these things to be carried out. Therefore, in order for us to believe the Bible is true, we must set aside our belief in the moral justice of God. How could crying or smiling babies be a threat? We must set aside everything that is tender, sympathetic and generous in our hearts in order to not be horrified by what we read in the Bible. The sacrifice that I have to make in order to believe that the Bible is true is all the evidence I need to know that it is false.
But that is just moral evidence. In this work, I will show evidence that the Bible is not worthy to be called the word of God; evidence that even a priest cannot deny.
But first, I will show how the Bible is different from other ancient writings, based on the type of evidence that is necessary to prove it is true. This must be done because Bible believers who wrote against the Age of Reason argue that the authenticity of the Bible is as established as any other ancient book (as if belief in one could cause us to believe the other).
There is only one ancient book that I know of that everyone can consider to be authentic. That book is Euclid's Elements of Geometry.* The reason this book can be considered authentic is due to what it contains. It's truth does not depend on the author, or anything else having to do with time, place or circumstances. The subjects in that book are true no matter who the author was; they would be true even if the author was unknown. Knowing who the author was has nothing to do with the truth contained in the book. However, this is not true of the books said to be written by Moses, Joshua, Samuel, etc. Those books are testimonies; and they testify of things that are against the laws of nature. In the first place, our belief in these books must be based on whether these books were actually written by Moses, Joshua and Samuel; and secondly on whether we believe what they say. It's possible to believe they were written by these men, yet not believe what they say is true. It would be like believing that a certain person testified in a court of law, but not believing his testimony. But if we discovered that the books said to be written by Moses, Joshua and Samuel were not actually written by those men, then they instantly lose all credibility. This is especially true of things that go against the laws of nature, such as talking to God face-to-face, or having the sun and moon stand still at the command of a man. Most of the other ancient books are works of genius. These are the books said to be written by Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Cicero, etc. Here again, we find that it is not necessary to know who the author is. The books would have the same merit, even if the author was unknown. For example, nobody believes that the Trojan story written by Homer is true. It is the poet who is admired. Everyone respects the poet, even though the story is fiction. But if we believe that the stories written by Bible authors are fiction (Moses for instance), in the same way we believe Homer's stories are fiction, then we can only consider Moses to be a fake. As for the ancient historians, from Herodotus to Tacitus; we only believe their accounts of things that were likely and believable, but no further. Otherwise we would have to believe in two miracles that Tacitus says was performed by Vespasian. He says Vespasian cured a lame man and a blind man in the same way that Jesus is said to have done. We would also have to believe the miracle told by Josephus, where the sea of Pamphilia opened up to let Alexander and his army pass. That is the same kind of story that we read in Exodus about how the Red Sea parted. These miracles are just as worthy of our belief as the Bible miracles, but we don't believe them. Extraordinary evidence is required for us to believe things that go against the laws of nature, whether it is in the Bible or not; far more than what is required to believe in things that are likely and natural. Therefore the Bible-believers cannot say that we must believe the Bible just because we believe some things that are in other ancient writings. We only believe those other writings as far as they are likely and believable; or because they stand on their own, like Euclid; or because they are elegant, like Homer; or are calm and orderly, like Plato; or show sound judgment, like Aristotle.
*According to history, Euclid lived three hundred years before Christ, and about one hundred years before Archimedes. He was from the city of Alexandria, in Egypt.
We now move on to take a look at the authenticity of the Bible. I begin with the first five books which are said to have been written by Moses; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. I intend to show that these books are forgeries, and were not written by Moses. I further intend to show that they were not written during Moses' time, but were written several hundred years later. I will show that they are nothing but an attempt to write the history of Moses' life and the times that he lived in. Not only that, but they are a weak attempt by ignorant and stupid authors to write about things that happened years before their time. This is like a modern author trying to write about something that happened several hundred or several thousand years ago.
To prove these things, I will confine myself to evidence that can be found in the books themselves. If I were to try to get my evidence from ancient authors that the Bible-believers consider to be unworthy, then they would have reason to oppose my evidence in the same way I oppose theirs. Therefore, I will meet them on their own ground, and use their own weapon (the Bible) against them.
[Editors Note: Throughout this work, Paine goes to great lengths to prove that the various books were not written by the men to whom they are commonly ascribed. Although this doesn't seem to be much of an issue in modern times, it was apparently a big issue during Paine's time. He feels that it is necessary to address the issue many times during the course of this work.]
To begin with, there is no positive evidence that Moses is the author of these books. That he is the author is nothing more than an opinion, and nobody knows how this rumor got started. Based on the style and the way that these books were written, there is no reason to believe that they were written by Moses. All of the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers are written in the third person. Everything in the book of Genesis happened before Moses lived. He is not even mentioned in that book. The books say things like; "The Lord said to Moses...", or "Moses said to the Lord...", or "Moses said to the people...", or "The people said to Moses...". It is written in third person, in the same way that historians write about people and events that happened long ago. Of course it can be said that a man could speak of himself in the third person, and that Moses did it. But supposing something doesn't prove anything. If the people that believe that Moses wrote these books have no stronger evidence than "I suppose", then they may as well keep quiet.
Even if it is possible that Moses spoke of himself in the third person (because grammar allows it), it still cannot be taken seriously in these books, because it would make Moses seem truly ridiculous and silly.
For example, in Numbers 12:3 it says "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth". If Moses said this about himself, then he wasn't very meek! Instead he would have been a vain, arrogant fool. The advocates for those books can now pick which side they want to take, because both sides are against them. If Moses was not the author, then the books have no authority. If he was the author, then he has no authority because he boasts of his own meekness which is exactly the opposite of real meekness. These books just feel like a lie.
In Deuteronomy, it is even more evident by the style and manner of writing, that Moses is not the writer. Here, it is more like a drama. The writer opens with a short introduction, and then introduces Moses in the act of speaking. When Moses finishes his rant, then the writer begins speaking again, until he reintroduces Moses again later on. In the end, the scene closes with an account of the death, funeral and character of Moses.
This exchange of speakers happens four times in this book. In verses one through five of the first chapter, it is the writer who is speaking. Then he introduces Moses in the act of making his rant. This continues through chapter 4, verse 40. At this point the writer drops Moses, and starts giving a history of what was done as a result of what Moses said when he was alive. This is done very dramatically.
The writer picks up the subject again in Chapter 5, verse 1, though it is only to say that Moses called the people of Israel together. Then, he again introduces Moses as before, and has him speaking until the end of Chapter 26. He does the same thing at the beginning of Chapter 27, and has Moses speaking to the end of Chapter 28. In Chapter 29 the writer speaks in verse 1 and the beginning of verse 2. Here, he introduces Moses for the last time, and has him speaking through the end of Chapter 33.
After Moses finishes speaking this last time, the writer picks up and speaks through the rest of the book. He begins by telling how Moses went to the top of Mt. Pisgah; and that he saw the land which (the writer says) had been promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He tells how Moses died in the land of Moab, and that no man knew where his grave was "unto this day" (i.e. until the time that the writer lived who wrote the book of Deuteronomy). The writer then tells us that Moses was 120 years old when he died, and that he was healthy and his eyesight was still good. This anonymous writer then ends his story by telling us that since that time there has not been a prophet like Moses in Israel who the Lord knew face to face.
Having shown that the grammatical evidence shows that Moses did not write those books, I will now show from the historical and chronological evidence in the book, that Moses could not have written them. As a result, there is no authority for believing that God commanded the inhuman murders of men, women and children that are related in those books. Every true Deist considers it his moral duty to defend the moral justice of God against the false charges of the Bible. But first I will make a few comments regarding the inconsistencies of the writer of Deuteronomy.
Deuteronomy is not an anonymous work. But the writer of the book, whoever he was, is not well known. Plus, he contradicts himself in his account of Moses.
After telling us that Moses went to the top of Pisgah (and apparently did not come down again), he says that Moses died there in the land of Moab, and that "he" buried him in a valley in the land of Moab. But there is no predecessor to the pronoun 'he'. There is no way to know who 'he' was who buried Moses. If the writer meant that God buried him, how would the writer know that? Why should we believe him, since we don't know who the writer was that said so? Certainly Moses himself could not have told where he was buried.
The writer also tells us "that no man knoweth where the sepulchre of Moses is unto this day" (meaning the time that this writer lived). Then how would he know that Moses was buried in a valley in the land of Moab? He certainly did not attend the funeral; because the writer uses the phrase "unto this day", which shows that he lived long after the time of Moses. On the other hand, it is impossible that Moses would have been the one to say he knew where the grave was. To make Moses the speaker would be like a child who hides himself and says "nobody can find me"; nobody can find Moses!
The writer does not tell us how he happens to know the speeches that he puts into the mouth of Moses. Therefore, we can have the right to conclude that he either made them up himself, or that he wrote them from oral tradition. It is probably one of these, because in the 5th chapter he gives us a list of commandments where the 4th commandment is different than the 4th commandment that is given in chapter 20 of Exodus. In Exodus, the commandment says the reason for keeping the seventh day is "because God made the heavens and the earth in six days, and rested on the seventh". But in Deuteronomy, it says the "the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day because that was the day that the children of Israel came out of Egypt". One account does not mention the creation, the other account does not mention coming out of Egypt. There are also many laws of Moses that are mentioned in this book that are not found in any of the other books. One of these is the inhuman and brutal law found in Deuteronomy 21:18-21. This law allows parents to have their children stoned to death for what it calls 'stubbornness'. But priests have always enjoyed preaching up Deuteronomy, because Deuteronomy supports their doctrine of tithing. In verse 4 of chapter 25 it says " thou shall not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn". They have taken this phrase and applied it to tithing. To make sure that we see this, they have noted it in the table of contents as a chapter heading. Oh priests! priests! You are willing to be compared to an ox, for the sake of tithes. Though it is impossible for us to know exactly who the writer of Deuteronomy was, it is not difficult to figure out his profession; he was some Jewish priest. I will show in this essay, that he lived at least three hundred and fifty years after the time of Moses.
I will now address the historical and chronological evidence. The chronology that I will use is the chronology that is in the Bible. I will not go outside of the Bible for evidence, but will make the Bible itself prove historically and chronologically that Moses is not the author of the books that have been attributed to him. Therefore, I should tell the reader (at least the ones who may not know) that in some Bibles there is a series of chronology printed in the margin of each page. These supposedly show how long the historical event on each page happened before Christ, and the distance of time between one event and another.
I will start with the book of Genesis. In chapter 14 of Genesis, the writer tells about Lot being carried off as a prisoner in a battle between the four kings against five. When Abraham heard of this, he armed his household and marched to rescue Lot from his captors. He chased them all the way to Dan (ver. 14).
To show how the expression "pursuing them unto Dan" relates to my argument, I want to refer to two situations; one in America, and another in France. In America, the city of New York was originally called New Amsterdam. In France, the town called Havre Marat was originally call Havre de Grace. New Amsterdam was changed to New York in 1664. Havre de Grace was changed to Havre Marat in 1793. If we were to find an undated document that mentioned the name New York, we know that it must have been written during or after 1664 when New Amsterdam was changed to New York. In the same way, any undated writing with the name of Havre Marat would be sure evidence that it was written during or after 1793 when Havre de Grace became Havre Marat.
I will now demonstrate how this argument can be applied to show that there was no such place as Dan until many years after the death of Moses. As a result, we can know that Moses could not be the writer of Genesis where it tells of "pursuing them unto Dan". In the Bible, the place called Dan was originally a town that the Gentiles called Laish. When the tribe of Dan took over this town they changed its name to Dan. This was in memory of Dan, who was the father of that tribe, and the great grandson of Abraham.
To prove this, we need to refer to chapter 18 of the Book of Judges. In verse 27 it says that the Danites came to Laish to a people that were quiet and secure, and they killed them with the sword (the Bible is filled with murder), and burned down the city. In verse 28 it says that they built a city, moved in, and called their city Dan, after the name of their father Dan. But before they did this, the name of the city had been called Laish.
The story of the Danites taking possession of Laish, and changing it to Dan, occurs in the Book of Judges immediately after the death of Sampson. Sampson is said to have died 1120 years before Christ, and Moses is said to have died 1451 before Christ. Therefore, according to the historical chronology, the place was not called Dan until 331 years after Moses died.
There is a striking confusion between the historical and the chronological sequence of events in the Book of Judges. Chapters 17 though 21 are chronologically before all the preceding chapters. Those events occur 28 years before chapter 16; 266 before chapter 15; 245 before chapter 13; 195 before chapter 9; 90 before chapter 4; and 15 before chapter 1. This shows how uncertain and fictitious the Bible is. Chronologically, Laish was conquered and given the name of Dan up to 20 years after the death of Joshua (who was the successor of Moses). Historically, the book says that is was up to 306 years after the death of Joshua, and 331 years after the death of Moses. But both versions still exclude Moses as being the writer, because both accounts show that no such place as Dan existed in the time of Moses. Therefore, the writer must have been someone who lived after the town of Laish got it's name changed to Dan. Nobody knows who that person was; so the book of Genesis is anonymous and does not have authority.
I will now point out another point of historical and chronological evidence to show, in the same manner, that Moses is not the author of Genesis.
In chapter 36 of Genesis there is a genealogy of the descendants of Esau, who are called Edomites. There is also a list of the names of the kings of Edom. While listing these kings, verse 31 says "And these are the kings that reigned in Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel".
If we were to find an undated writing that spoke of past events, and the writer said "These things happened before there was any Congress in America", or "...a Convention in France", then we would know that this writing could only have been written after there was an American Congress, or a Convention in France. Therefore, it could not have been written by anyone who had died before there was a Congress or a Convention.
It is very common in history, and in conversation, to refer to a fact rather than a date. In the first place, this is natural, because facts are easier to remember than dates. In the second place, because the fact includes the date and serves both purposes. Referring to a fact can imply that the fact has already occurred, just as if it had clearly been said. When a person refers to a fact by saying, "it was before I was married", or "before my son was born", or "before I went to America", or "before I went to France", it is absolutely understood, and intended to be understood, that he had been married, that he has had a son, that he has been in America, or been in France. This is the only way this can be understood. Whenever this kind of expression is found, it can only be understood in light of the way it was used.
Therefore, the verse I quoted- "that these are the kings that reigned in Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel"- could only have been written after the first king began to rule over them. This means that the book of Genesis could not have been written at least until the time of Saul. This is clearly what the verse is saying. However, the expression "any king" implies more than one king; it implies at least two. This would carry it to the time of David; and if we take it literally, it carries it through all the time of the Jewish monarchy.
If we had seen this verse in any part of the Bible that claimed to have been written "after kings began to reign in Israel", it would have been impossible to not understand what was being said. This turns out to actually be the case. The two books of Chronicles (which give a history of all the kings of Israel) are in fact written after the Jewish monarchy began. The verse that I quoted, and all the rest of the verses through the end of chapter 36 in Genesis, are written word for word in chapter 1 of Chronicles, beginning in verse 43. It is appropriate for the writer of I Chronicles 1:43 to say "These are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the children of Israel", because he does in fact list the kings who reigned in Israel. It is impossible that this expression could have been used prior to that time. Therefore, we have solid proof that this part of Genesis is taken from Chronicles, and that Chronicles is actually older than the book of Genesis. It is probably not even as old as the book of Homer or Aesop's Fables, because the chronology indicates that Homer lived during the time of David or Solomon, and Aesop lived during the end of the Jewish monarchy.
When we remove the belief that Moses was the author of Genesis (which is why people have the strange belief that it is the word of God), then Genesis becomes an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditional (or invented) absurdities; or of downright lies. The story of Eve and the snake, or of Noah and his ark, drops to the same level as the Arabian Tales, without the benefit of being entertaining. The stories of men living to be eight and nine hundred years old begins to sound as false as the immortality of the giants that we read about in ancient Mythology.
Besides, the character of Moses given in the Bible is the most horrid that you can imagine. If those stories are true, then he was the wretch that started having wars in the name of religion. By doing this, he committed some of the worst atrocities that can be found in the history of any nation. I will give one example.
The Jewish army had just returned from one of their excursions of plundering and murder. In Numbers 31:13 it says "And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp; and Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle; and Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the council of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord. Now, therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him; but all the women-children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves."
In all the disgraceful periods of our history, it is impossible (if this story is true) to find a more detestable villain than Moses. Here he orders them to butcher the boys, massacre the mothers, and take the daughters into sexual slavery.
Let any mother put herself in the situation of those mothers; one child murdered, another destined to be sexually violated, and herself in the hands of an executioner. Let any daughter put herself in the situation of those daughters; destined to be sexual prey for the murderers of their mother and brothers. How do you think they would feel? It is natural that these girls would be devastated. Any religion that would murder and torture families like this is a false religion.
After this disgusting order was given, we read about how the plunder was taken and divided out. It is here that we see a rise in crime by the vulgar hypocrisy of the priests. In verses 37-40 it says "And the lord's tribute of sheep was six hundred and three score and fifteen; and the beeves were thirty and six thousand, of which the Lord's tribute was three score and twelve; and the asses were thirty thousand and five hundred, of which the Lord's tribute was three score and one; and the persons were sixteen thousand, of which the Lord's tribute was thirty and two persons". The events in this chapter, as well as many other parts of the Bible, are too horrid for decent men to read or hear. From verse 35 it appears that the number of young women delivered into seduction by the order of Moses was thirty-two thousand.
People in general do not realize the wickedness that is in this so-called word of God. They are raised with the superstitious ideas that the Bible is true and good, and don't allow themselves to doubt it. The ideas that they form from the generosity of God are carried over to the book that they have been taught to believe was written by his authority. Good heavens, it is something else entirely! It is a book of lies, wickedness, and blasphemy. What can be a greater blasphemy than to say that the wickedness of man was done by the order of God?
But I return to my subject of showing that Moses is not the author of these books, and that the Bible is false.
Besides the two examples I gave, we really don't need any more evidence to show that this book is not authentic; a book that claims to be four or five hundred years older that the events it refers to as facts. Not even the poor excuse of prophecy can be used in the cases of "pursuing them unto Dan", and of the "kings that reigned over the children of Israel". These expressions are given in the past tense. Only an idiot would say that a prophecy could be in the past tense.
There are many other examples in these books that add to the evidence that Moses could not have written them. In Exodus 16:34 (another book said to be written by Moses), it says, "And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan".
I really don't care if the children of Israel ate manna or not, or what manna was, or whether it was anything more than a fungus or small mushroom, or some vegetable common to that part of the country. My point is that Moses could not have written this story, because the story was written after the time that Moses lived. According to the Bible, Moses died in the wilderness and never came to the borders of Canaan (but the book is so full of lies and contradictions that it's hard to know what to believe). As a result, he could not have said what the children of Israel did or said when they got there. This story of eating manna (which they say was written by Moses) extends until the time of Joshua, who was the successor of Moses. This can be seen in the book of Joshua where it says that it was after the children of Israel had passed the river Jordan and came to the borders of Canaan. See Joshua 5:12 - "And the manna ceased on the morrow, after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more, but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year".
But there is even a more remarkable example of this that occurs in Deuteronomy. While it shows that Moses could not be the writer of the book, it also shows the false notions about giants (which was popular at the time). Among the conquests made by Moses in the 3rd chapter of Deuteronomy, there is an account of the conquest of king Bashan of Og. In verse 2 it says, "For only Og, king of Bashan, remained of the remnant of giants; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammom? Nine cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man". A cubit is about 20 inches. Therefore the bed was about 16'4" long, and 7'4" wide. So much for the giants bed; now for the historical part. Even though the evidence is not as strong as in the previous arguments, it does help to confirm that evidence. At any rate, it is better than the best evidence to the contrary.
In trying to prove the existence of this giant, the writer refers to his bed as an ancient relic. He says, "Is it not in Rabbath (or Rabbah) of the children of Ammon?". By this he means that it is; this is a way that the Bible commonly uses to say something is true. But it could not be Moses who said this, because Moses could not know anything about Rabbah or what was in it. Rabbah was not a city that belonged to this giant king, nor was it one of the cities that Moses had conquered.
Therefore, the knowledge that this bed was at Rabbah and what size it was, would have to come from the time that Rabbah was conquered. This was not until four hundred years after the death of Moses. In 2 Samuel 12:26 it say, "And Joab (David's general) fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and took the royal city".
I am not trying to point out every single contradiction in time, place and circumstance that fills the books said to have been written by Moses, and which proves those books could not been written by Moses, nor in his time. So I will now move on to the book of Joshua. I will show that Joshua is not the author of that book, and that it is anonymous and cannot be believed. The evidence that I will use is contained in the book. I will not go outside of the Bible for the proof against its supposed authenticity. False testimony is always good to use against itself.
According to the first chapter of Joshua, Joshua was the immediate successor of Moses. In addition, he was a military man (which Moses was not), and he was the chief of the people of Israel for 25 years. This reign started when Moses died (which according to Bible chronology, was 1451 years before Christ). According to the same chronology, it continued until 1426 years before Christ, which was when Joshua died. Therefore, if this book (said to have been written by Joshua) refers to facts done after the death of Joshua, then it is good evidence that Joshua could not have been the author. It would also indicate that the book could not have been written until after the time of the latest fact that it records. The character of the book is horrid. It is a military history that is filled with rape and murder. It is just as savage and brutal as his predecessor Moses, who was a villain and a hypocrite. As in the other books, the blasphemy occurs because they say that God ordered these deeds to be done.
As in the other books, the book of Joshua is written in the third person. It is obvious that it is a historian that is writing, because it would be silly and prideful for Joshua to refer to himself by saying "his fame was noised throughout all the country" (see the last verse of chapter 6). I will immediately get to the proof.
In verse 31 of chapter 24 it says, "And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua". Now, how in the name of common sense can it be claimed that Joshua said what the people did after he was dead? This account must have been written by some historian that not only lived after Joshua, but also lived after the elders that outlived Joshua.
There are several verses generally related to time, that are scattered throughout the book of Joshua. These indicate that the book was written at some point after the time of Joshua, but doesn't state a particular time, like the verse above does. In that verse, the time that it was written is spelled out very clearly; and the evidence shows that the book could not have been written until some time after Joshua died.
The verses I am going to quote do not specify any particular time that the book was written; but they do imply a time that is beyond the death of the elders. In Joshua 10:14, after telling how Joshua had commanded the sun to stand still on Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Ajalon (a story only fit for children), the verse says, "And there was no day like that, before it, or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man".
This fairy tale of the sun standing still on Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, is one of those stories that exposes itself to be false. Something like this could not have happened without the whole world knowing about it. Half the world would have wondered why the sun did not rise, and the other half would have wondered why it didn't set. Every nation of the world would have had the same tradition. But no other nation in the world knows anything about it. But why would the moon stand still? What reason could there have been for moonlight in the daytime while the sun was still shining? This story might be OK if it were considered to be poetry. It is similar to the song of Deborah and Barak, where the stars fought against Sisera. But it is not as good as the descriptive speech that Mohammed gave to the people who questioned him about what he was doing. He said, "Wert thou to come to me with the sun in thy right hand and the moon in thy left, it should not alter my career". For Joshua to have had a better story than Mohammed, he should have put the sun and moon in each pocket and carried them around like Guy Fawkes carried his dark lantern. He could have taken them out to shine whenever he wanted to.
The sublime and the ridiculous are so closely related that it can be hard to separate the two. One step above the sublime makes the ridiculous, and one step above the ridiculous makes the sublime again. However, if you remove the poetry aspect, this account shows the ignorance of Joshua. He would have had to command the earth to stand still.
In order for the verse to have any significant meaning, the expression "after that day" would have had to refer to a great deal of time. For example, it would have been ridiculous to use this expression on the very next day, or the next week, or the next month, or the next year. Therefore, taking into account the amazing event and the prior time it refers to, it only makes sense that it is referring to hundreds of years. Less than one year would be silly, and less than two would be barely admissible.
A length of many years is also implied in chapter 8, where the story is told of conquering Ai. In verse 28 it says, "And Joshua burned Ai, and made it a heap forever, even a desolation unto this day". In verse 29 it is talking about how Joshua hanged the king of Ai and buried him at the city gate. It says, "And he raised thereon a great heap of stones, which remaineth unto this day"; that is, until the time that the writer of the book of Joshua lived. Again, in chapter 10, we read how Joshua hung five kings on five trees and then threw them in a cave. It says, "And he laid great stones on the cave's mouth, which remain unto this very day".
Chapter 15 lists several of the adventures of Joshua and the tribes. It talks about the places that they conquered, or attempted to conquer. In verse 63 it says, "As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day".
This verses raises a question. When did the Jebusites and the children of Judah live together at Jerusalem? Because this question comes up again in chapter 1 of Judges, I will hold my comments until we get to that part.
Without using any evidence outside of the Bible, we have shown from the book of Joshua, that Joshua is not the author of that book. We have shown that it is anonymous, and cannot be believed. I now proceed to the book of Judges.
The book of Judges is totally anonymous. There is no reason whatsoever to call it the word of God. There is nothing to support it; it is an orphan.
This book begins with the same expression that we find in the book of Joshua. Joshua 1:1 says, "Now after the death of Moses...". The book of Judges begins with "Now after the death of Joshua...". This, and the similar style of the two books indicate that the same author wrote both of them; but he is still unknown. The book proves that the author lived long after the time of Joshua. It starts out as if it immediately follows the death of Joshua; however, chapter 2 is a summary of the whole book. According to Bible chronology, it covers a history of 306 years. It spans from the death of Joshua (1426 years before Christ) to the death of Samson (1120 years before Christ). It ends only 25 years away from the time that Saul went to seek his father's asses, and was made king. But there is good reason to believe that neither Joshua or Judges was written until at least the time of David.
In chapter 1 of Judges, the writer announces the death of Joshua, and then tells what happened between the children of Judah and the native inhabitants of the land of Canaan. The writer abruptly mentions Jerusalem in verse 7, and follows with an explanation in verse 8 that says, "Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem, and had taken it". This means that the book could not have been written before Jerusalem had been taken. The reader will remember the quote I made from Joshua 15:63 where it says that "the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day", meaning the time when the book of Joshua was written.
I have shown evidence that the books previously mentioned were not written by the ones that are said to have written them; and if these people ever existed, the books were written long after their death. That evidence is so abundant, that I can afford to present the following evidence with less importance than it really deserves. If the history of the Bible can be believed, the city of Jerusalem was not taken over until the time of David. This shows that the books of Joshua and Judges were not written until after David began to reign in Jerusalem, which was 370 years after the death of Joshua.
Jerusalem was originally call Jebus, or Jebusi; and was the capital of the Jebusites. The account of David conquering Jerusalem is given in 2 Samuel 5:4 and in 1 Chronicles 14:4. There is no mention or hint anywhere else in the Bible that the city was ever taken before that time. The accounts in Samuel and Chronicles does not say that they utterly destroyed men, women and children; or that they did not leave a breathing soul, as it says of other conquests. This silence implies that it was taken by means of surrender, and that the native Jebusites continued to live in the city after it was taken. This corresponds with the passage in Joshua that says "the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day". "Unto this day" must refer to the time after David took the city.
I have shown that every book in the Bible, from Genesis to Judges, cannot be believed. I now come to the book of Ruth. It is a foolish, idle, bungling story that was written anonymously. It is about a country-girl who slyly sneaks into bed with her cousin Boaz. Real nice stuff to be called the word of God! However, it is one of the best books in the Bible, because it doesn't have any rape or murder.
Next, I come to the two books of Samuel. I will show that these books were not written by Samuel, and that it was not written until many years after Samuel died. Like all the previous books, they are anonymous and cannot be believed.
To prove that these books were written many years after the time Samuel lived, it is only necessary to read the account that speaks of him going to find his fathers asses. Saul asked Samuel about the loss of the asses in the same way that foolish people go to a psychic today to ask about things they've lost.
In telling this story of Saul, Samuel, and the asses, the writer speaks of it like it was an ancient story, rather than one that had just happened. When telling the story, the writer uses the term 'Seer', which is a term that was used during the time that Samuel lived. The writer then feels that it is necessary to explain the story with language that was used during the time the writer was alive.
In chapter 9 Samuel is referred to as a Seer, and this is the term that Saul uses when he asks about him. In verse 11 it says, "And as they (Saul and his servant) went up the hill to the city, they found young maidens going out to draw water; and they said unto them, Is the seer here?". Saul followed the directions given by the maidens. Then when he met Samuel (without knowing who he was), he said to him in verse 18, "Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer's house is? and Samuel answered Saul, and said, I am the seer."
The writer of the book of Samuel relates these questions and answers in the language or manner of speaking that was used in the time they are said to have been spoken. This was not the manner of speaking that was in use when this author wrote the story. Therefore, in order to understand the story, the writer feels that it is necessary to explain the terms that Saul had used. He does this in verse 9 when he says, "Before-time, in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer; for he that is now called a Prophet, was before-time called a Seer". This proves that this story of Saul, Samuel, and the asses, was an ancient story at the time that the book of Samuel was written. Therefore, Samuel did not write the book, and it is not authentic.
If we look further into these books, we find even more positive evidence that Samuel did not write them. They report events that did not happen until several years after Samuel died. We know that Samuel died before Saul, because in chapter 28 of I Samuel it says that Saul had the witch of Endor conjure up Samuel after he was dead. Yet the history of these books proceeds to cover the remainder of Saul's life. In fact it goes all the way up to the end of David's life, who succeeded Saul as king. In the 25th chapter of I Samuel, there is the account of the death and burial of Samuel (something that he could not have written himself). Bible chronology dates this chapter at 1060 years before Christ. The history of this first book places it at 1056 years before Christ (that is, until Saul died). This was not until four years after Samuel died.
The second book of Samuel begins with an account of events that did not happen until four years after Samuel was dead. It begins with the reign of David (who succeeded Saul), and continues on to the end of David's reign. This is forty-three years after the death of Samuel. Therefore, the books themselves are positive evidence that they were not written by Samuel.
I have now gone through all the books in the first part of the Bible whose titles are said to be the names of the authors that wrote them. The Christian Church has claimed to the world that these books are the writings of Moses, Joshua and Samuel. I have shown and proved that this claim is false. So now, all you priests who wrote against the first part of the Age of Reason, what do you have to say? Will you, with all this evidence staring you in the face, still have the confidence to march into your pulpits and continue to push these books on your congregations as the works of inspired authors, and the word of God? The evidence makes it absolutely clear that the men who you say are the authors are in fact NOT the authors; and you don't know who the authors of these books are. What excuse do you have now to continue with your blasphemous fraud? What arguments do you have against the pure and moral religion of Deism; or in support of your system of lies, idolatry, and false religion? If the cruel, murderous orders that fill the Bible, and the countless executions of men, women and children that were committed under those orders, had been directed to one of your dear friends, then you would have been very happy to have discovered that the charges were false, and you would have been proud to have been able to defend him. Are you so blinded by the cruelty of superstition, or have no interest in honoring your Creator, that you can listen to the horrid tales of the Bible and just not care? Although it offends the priests, the evidence I have shown (and will continue to show in the rest of this essay) that the Bible has no authority, will be a great relief to the minds of millions. It will free them from the misconception of God that priests and the Bible have put into their minds, and which continually oppose all their ideas of his moral justice and generosity.
I now come to the two books of Kings and the two books of Chronicles. These books are completely historical. They primarily concern the lives and events of the Jewish kings (who were in general a pack of rascals). But we are no more concerned about these events than we would be with Roman emperors, or with Homer's account of the Trojan war. Besides, it is impossible to know whether or not to believe these stories, because the books are anonymous and we know nothing about the writer or his character. Like all other ancient histories, they appear to be a jumble of fable and fact, and of likely and unlikely events. Because these things happened so long ago in a different place, the changes that have occurred in the world make them useless and uninteresting.
I will primarily use these books by comparing them with each other, and with other parts of the Bible. This will show the confusion, contradiction and cruelty in this so-called word of God.
The first book of Kings begins with the reign of Solomon, which according to the Bible chronology, was 1015 years before Christ. The second book ends 588 years before Christ. This was just after the reign of Zedekiah (whom Nebuchadnezzar carried captive to Babylon, after taking Jerusalem and conquering the Jews). The two books cover 427 years.
The two books of Chronicles are generally a history of the very same people during the very same period of time. However, they are written by two different authors. It would be silly to think that the same author wrote the same history twice. The first book of Chronicles (after giving the genealogy from Adam to Saul, which takes up the first nine chapters), begins with the reign of David. The last book ends in the same way that the last book of Kings ended; right after the reign of Zedekiah (which was about 588 years before Christ). The last two verses of the last chapter bring the history forward 52 years more, to 536. But these verses do not belong to the book, as I will show when we get to the book of Ezra.
The two books of Kings contain the history of Saul, David and Solomon, who reigned over Israel. It also contains summaries of the lives of 17 kings (and one queen) of Judah, and 19 kings of Israel. Immediately after Solomon died, the Jewish nation split in two and chose separate kings. These two kingdoms fought bitter wars against each other.
These two books are little more than a history of assassinations, treachery and wars. The cruelty that the Jews had become used to against the Canaanites (whose country they savagely invaded, claiming it was their so-called "gift from God"), was continued just as furiously against each other. Hardly half of their kings died a natural death; and in some instances entire families were destroyed in order for others to lay claim to the throne. Others, who did gain the throne, ended up sharing the same fate within a few years; sometimes within only a few months. In chapter 10 of the second book of Kings, there is an account of two baskets full of the heads of 70 children which was put on display at the entrance of the city. These were the children of Ahab, and were murdered by the order of Jehu. Elisha (the so-called man of God) anointed Jehu to be king of Israel, with the intention that he assassinate his predecessor, and commit this bloody murder of the children.
In II Kings 15:16 there is the story of the reign of Menahem. This king of Israel had murdered Shallum (who had only reigned one month). Menahem attacked the city of Tiphsah, because they would not open the city to him. It says he ripped open all the pregnant women in the city.
If God were to call any nation "His chosen people", you would think that nation would be a shining example of holiness and humanity to the rest of the world. You wouldn't think that it would be a nation of thugs and cutthroats like the ancient Jews were. These people had distinguished themselves above all the other nations of the known earth for their uncivilized wickedness. They had corrupted themselves by imitating such monsters and impostors as Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Samuel and David. If we will just open our eyes, we can see (in spite of our long-held superstitions) that the flattering title of "His chosen people" is nothing but a lie that the Jewish leaders had invented to cover up their own sleazy character. Christian priests, sometimes as corrupt and often as cruel, have continued to profess this belief.
The two books of Chronicles are simply a repeat of the same crimes. However, the history is broken in several places because the author leaves out the reign of some of the kings. As in the book of Kings, this book frequently jumps back and forth between the kings of Judah, and the kings of Israel. This happens so often, that the stories are sometimes hard to follow. In the book of Kings, the history sometimes will contradict itself. For example, in II Kings 1:17 we are told (in very unclear terms), that after the death of king Ahaziah of Israel, Jehoram (or Joram, who was of the house of Ahab) reigned in his place. This was in the second year of Jehoram (or Joram), son of Jehoshaphat (king of Judah). However, in II Kings 8:16 we read that the son of Ahab (who was king of Israel) reigned during the fifth year of Joram when Jehoshaphat was then the king of Judah. In other words, one chapter says Joram of Judah began to reign in the second year of Joram of Israel; and the other chapter says, that Joram of Israel began to reign in the fifth year of Joram of Judah.
Several major events of some of the kings found in one history, are not found at all in the other history. For example, the two first rival kings, after the death of Solomon, were Rehoboam and Jeroboam. In chapters 7 and 8 of I Kings there is an account of Jeroboam making an offering of burnt incense. It says that there was a "man of God" there who cried out against the alter. Chapter 8, verse 2: "O altar, altar! thus saith the Lord; Behold, a child shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee." Verse 4: "And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand which he put out against him dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him."
One would think that if such an extraordinary event were true, and had happened to one of the major players in the first moment of the separation of the Israelites into two nations, it would have been recorded in both histories. Even though men in later times believed everything that the prophets said to them, these prophets or historians apparently did not believe each other; they knew each other too well.
There is also a long account in Kings concerning Elijah. It runs through several chapters, and ends with II Kings 2:2, "And it came to pass, as they (Elijah and Elisha) still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven". Hmmm! As miraculous as this story is, the author of Chronicles does not even mention it; although he does mention Elijah by name. He also doesn't mention another story, told in chapter 2 of the same book of Kings, about a group of children calling Elisha "bald head, bald head". In verse 24 this story says the man of God "Turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord; and there came forth two she-bears out of the wood, and tore forty-and-two children of them". The author also fails to mention the story told in II Kings, chapter 8. Here it says that they were burying a man in the same grave where Elisha had been buried. It so happened that as they were letting the dead man down into the grave (ver. 21), "He touched the bones of Elisha, and he (the dead man) revived, and stood on his feet". The story doesn't tell us if they went ahead and buried the revived dead man who stood on his feet, or if they pulled him back out of the grave. The writer of Chronicles is silent about these stories. Any modern-day writer would also be silent about these kinds of stories, if they didn't want to be accused of lying.
But, however these two historians may differ from each other with respect to the tales each of them tells, they are both strangely silent when it comes to the men who are called prophets, whose writings fill up the last part of the Bible. Isaiah, who lived in the time of Hezekiah, is mentioned in Kings and again in Chronicles, when these historians are speaking of that reign. But, except in one or two instances at most, and those very slightly, none of the prophets are spoken of, or their existence even hinted at. This is odd, considering that Bible chronology says that they were alive during the times that these histories were written; some even long before. If those prophets were men of such importance in their day (as the compilers of the Bible, and priests and commentators have since represented them to be), how can it be that not one of these histories say anything about them?
As I mentioned before, the history in the books of Kings and Chronicles goes to the time of 588 years before Christ. Therefore, it is proper to see which of these prophets lived before that period.
Here is a table of all the prophets, with the times that they lived before Christ. The times are based on the chronology that is attached to the first chapter of each book of the prophets. I am also including the number of years that they lived before the books of Kings and Chronicles were written.
TABLE OF THE PROPHETS.
Names. Years Years before Observations.
before Kings and
Isaiah 760 172 mentioned.
Jeremiah 629 41 mentioned only in the last chap. of Chron.
Ezekiel 595 7 not mentioned.
Daniel 607 19 not mentioned.
Hosea 785 97 not mentioned.
Joel 800 212 not mentioned.
Amos 789 199 not mentioned.
Obadiah 789 199 not mentioned.
Jonah 862 274 see the note.*
Micah 750 162 not mentioned.
Nahum 713 125 not mentioned.
Habakkuk 620 38 not mentioned.
Zephaniah 630 42 not mentioned.
Haggai - after the year 588
Zachariah- after the year 588
Malachi - after the year 588
*In II. Kings, chap. xiv., verse 25, the name of Jonah is mentioned due to the restoration of a tract of land by Jeroboam; but nothing further is said about him. There is no mention made to the book of Jonah, or to his expedition to Nineveh, or to his encounter with the whale.
This table is either not very honorable for the Bible historians, or not very honorable for the Bible prophets. I will let the priests and commentators, who know all about these little things, settle this difference. They can figure out the reason why the authors of Kings and Chronicles have treated these men with the same degrading silence that any modern-day historian would treat Peter Pindar. You will remember that in Part 1 of the Age of Reason, I considered these men to be poets.
I have only one more observation to make on the book of Chronicles before I move on to review the remaining books of the Bible.
In my notes on the book of Genesis, I quoted a passage from chapter 36, verse 31, which apparently refers to a time after kings began to reign over the children of Israel. I have shown that this verse is word-for-word the same as Chronicles 1:43. In Chronicles the verse is in a location that is consistent with the order of the history; in Genesis it is not. The verse in Genesis, and much of chapter 36, have been taken from Chronicles. Even though Genesis is placed first in the Bible, and has been attributed to Moses, the fact is that it was written by some unknown person after the book of Chronicles was written. This was not until at least 860 years after the time of Moses.
The evidence I have to prove this is normal and only has two parts. First, as I already mentioned, the passage in Genesis was taken from Chronicles and refers to that time period. Secondly, Chronicles (the book referred to) did not begin to be written until at least 860 years after the time of Moses. To prove this, all we have to do is look at I Chronicles 3:13. Here, the writer gives the genealogy of the descendants of David, and mention Zedekiah. It was in the time of Zedekiah that Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, 588 years before Christ. This is more than 860 years after Moses. Superstitious people who have boasted about the old age of the Bible, have done so without examining the facts. They have no authority for such a claim other than one gullible man telling it to another. The historical and chronological evidence shows that the book of Homer is 300 years older than the first book in the Bible. In fact, the Bible is about the same age as Aesop's Fables.
I am not saying that the morality of Homer is good. On the contrary, I think it is a book of false glory that tends to inspire immoral and mischievous ideas of honor. In the case of Aesop, though the moral is generally good, the fable is often cruel. The cruelty of the fable causes more hurt to the heart (especially in children), than the moral does good to the judgment.
Having dismissed the books of Kings and Chronicles, I now proceed to the book of Ezra.
To show the disorder in which this pretended word of God, the Bible, has been put together, and the uncertainty of who the authors were, we only have to look at the first three verses in Ezra, and the last two in Chronicles. This is just one proof among others that I will show. What kind of cutting and pasting happened so that the first three verses in Ezra are also the last two verses in Chronicles; or that the last two in Chronicles are the first two in Ezra? Either the authors did not know their own work, or the editors did not know the authors.
The last verse in Chronicles is cut off. It ends right in the middle of a phrase with the word "up", but doesn't finish the sentence by saying to what place. This abrupt break, plus the appearance of the same verses in different books, shows the disorder and ignorance in the way the Bible was put together. It shows that the compilers of it had no authority for what they were doing, nor do we have any authority for believing what they did.*
The last two verses of Chronicles:
22. Now in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, that the word of the Lord, spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah, might be accomplished, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
23. Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me: and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up.
The first three verses of Ezra:
1. Now in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, that the word of the Lord, by the mouth of Jeremiah, might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
2. Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia, the Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
3. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.
* I have noticed several broken and senseless passages in the Bible, and didn't think they were important enough to be mentioned in this work. For example, I Samuel 13:1, where it says, "Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel, Saul chose him three thousand men". The first part of this verse, where it says Saul reigned one year, makes no sense because it doesn't say what Saul did or anything that happened at the end of that one year. Besides, it is ridiculous to say he reigned one year, when in the very next phrase it says he had reigned two. Obviously, if he had reigned two, it would be impossible to not have reigned one.
Another example is in chapter 5 of Joshua. Here the writer tells us a story of an angel (that is what the table of contents at the beginning of the chapter calls him) that appeared to Joshua. The story ends abruptly without any conclusion. Here is the story:
Verse 13, "And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand; and Joshua went unto him and said unto him, Art thou for us or for our adversaries?"
Verse 14, "And he said, Nay; but as captain of the hosts of the Lord am I now come.
And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant?"
Verse 15, "And the captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot: for the place whereon thou standeth is holy. And Joshua did so."
And what then? Nothing, for the story ends here, as well as the chapter.
Either the story is broken off in the middle, or it is a story told by some Jewish humorist who is making fun of Joshua's so-called mission from God; and the compilers of the Bible, not getting the humor, have told it as a serious event. As humor and ridicule, the story has a great point. It pompously introduces an angel in the shape of a man with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua falls on his face to the ground and worships this being (which goes against their second commandment), and then this most important ambassador from heaven ends up telling Joshua to pull off his shoe. The being might as well have told him to pull up his pants.
It is certain that the Jews did not believe everything their leaders told them. This can be seen in the off-hand manner that they spoke of Moses when he had gone up to the mountain. They say in Exodus 32:1, "As for this Moses we wot not what is become of him."
The only thing that looks certain in the book of Ezra, is the time in which it was written, which was immediately after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity. This was about 536 years before Christ. Ezra (who, according to the Jewish commentators, is the same person called Esdras in the Apocrypha), was one of the people who returned from the captivity. It was probably Ezra who wrote the story of that event. Nehemiah, whose book follows after Ezra, was another one of the people who returned. He was probably the one who wrote the story of the same event in the book that bears his name. But these stories mean nothing to us or anybody else, unless it is to the Jews, as a part of the history of their nation. There is about as much 'word of God' in those books as there is in any of the histories of France, or Rapin's History of England, or the history of any other country.
But even in matters of history, these two writers cannot be depended on. In chapter 2 of Ezra, the writer gives a list of the tribes and families, and the precise number of people of each, that returned from Babylon to Jerusalem. This list of returning people appears to have been the main reason for writing the book. But the listing contains an error that ruins the whole point of it.
The writer begins his listing in chapter 2:
Verse 3: "The children of Parosh, two thousand a hundred seventy and two."
Verse 4, "The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two."
He continues in this manner through all of the families; and in the 64th verse, he makes a total, and says, "The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore."
But if anyone will take the trouble of adding up these numbers for themselves, they will find that the total is only 29,818. This means that there is an error of 12,542.*
* Counts of the families from chapter 2 of Ezra:
In the same way, Nehemiah gives a list of the families who returned, and the number in each family. As in Ezra, Nehemiah starts by saying in chapter 7, verse 8, "The children of Parosh, two thousand a hundred seven and two..."; and so on through all of the families. These numbers are somewhat different than those in Ezra. In verse 66, Nehemiah gives a total like Ezra did, "The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore". But if you add up his list, the total only comes to 31,089. This is an error of 11,271. These writers might be OK for Bible-makers, but not for anything that requires truth and exactness.
The next book is the book of Esther. If Madame Esther thought it was an honor to give herself as a kept mistress to Ahasuerus, or as a rival to Queen Vashti (who had refused to come to a drunk king in the middle of a drunken party, to be made a show of), then that is Esther and Mordecai's business. It is none of our business; at least not mine. Besides, this story looks very much like it was made up by an anonymous author. I move on to the book of Job.
The book of Job is different than all the previous books we have looked at. This book does not have any treachery and murder. It is the meditations of a mind that is very concerned with the changing problems of human life. It alternates between sinking under and struggling against the pressure. It is a tightly woven work that changes between willing submission and involuntary discontent. It shows man, as he sometimes is, more likely to give up than he ought to be. The person the book is about seems to have little patience. He is often passionate about his grief, but he does try to keep it under control. In the middle of all his problems, he seems determined to try to force himself to be content.
In Part 1 of the Age of Reason, I spoke respectfully about the book of Job. But at the time I did not know what I have learned since. Which is, that from all the evidence, it appears that the book of Job does not belong in the Bible.
I have seen the opinion of two Hebrew commentators (Abenezra and Spinoza) about this subject. They both agree that the book of Job has no internal evidence that would indicate that it is a Hebrew book. The genius and drama of the work are not Hebrew; the book was translated from different language into Hebrew; the author of the book was a Gentile; the character called Satan (which is the first and only time this name is mentioned in the Bible) does not correspond to any Hebrew idea; the two meetings that God supposedly had with those that the poem refers to as 'sons of God'; the casual manner that it says Satan had with God. All of these things support the evidence.
It is also clear to see that the book was written by someone who was educated in science. The Jews were not known for their knowledge of science. In fact, they were very ignorant in that area. There are many strong references to nature, and they are quite different than anything in other books that we know are Hebrew. The astronomical names of Pleiades, Orion and Arcturus are Greek names, not Hebrew. Nowhere else in the Bible do we find that the Jews knew anything about astronomy, or that they studied it. They had no corresponding names in their own language, but adopted the names as they found them in the poem.
There is no doubt that the Jews translated works from the Gentiles into the Hebrew language and mixed them with their own. Chapter 35 of Proverbs proves this. It says, "The words of King Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him". This verse is a preface for the Proverbs that follow it. They are not proverbs of Solomon, but of Lemuel. Lemuel was not one of the kings of Israel or Judah, but of some other country. This means that he was a Gentile. However, the Jews adopted his proverbs. The Jews do not know who the author of the book of Job was, or how they ended up with the book. It is different from other Hebrew writings, and is totally unconnected with any other book or chapter in the Bible, before or after it. It has all the circumstantial evidence of originally being a book of the Gentiles.*
*There is a prayer in chapter 30 of Proverbs known by the name of Agur's prayer. It is directly before the proverbs of Lemuel. It is the only sensible, well though-out and well-expressed prayer in the Bible. It appears to be a prayer taken from the Gentiles. This is the only place that the name of Agur is mentioned. Him and his prayer are introduced in the same way, and nearly the same words, that Lemuel and his proverbs are introduced in the following chapter. Chapter 30, verse 1 says, "The words of Agur, the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy". The word 'prophecy' is used in the same way that it is used in the following chapter of Lemuel; it has nothing to do with prediction. The prayer of Agur is in verses 8 and 9, "Remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me; lest I be full and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of my God in vain". This sounds nothing like a Jewish prayer. The Jews only prayed when they were in trouble, and never for anything but victory, vengeance and riches.
The Bible-makers and chronologists seem to be at a loss of where to place (and what to do with) the book of Job. It does not contain one historical event that can be used to determine it's place in the Bible. However, it would not look good for these men to show their ignorance to the world. So they have said that it was written 1520 years before Christ (which is during the time that the Israelites were in Egypt). They have as much authority for saying that, as I do to say it was a thousand years before then. However, the book is probably older than any other book in the Bible. It is the only book in the Bible that can be read without indignation or disgust.
We do not know anything about the ancient Gentile world before the time of the Jews. The Jews had a habit of making false accusations against all other nations, always attempting to make them look bad. It is from the Jewish accounts that we have come to call the Gentiles "heathens".
Although we are unfamiliar with the profession of faith of these people, we do know that they were just and moral. Unlike the Jews, they were not addicted to cruelty and revenge. It appears to have been their custom to personify both virtue and vice by statues and images, as is done nowadays both by statues and paintings; but they did not necessarily worship them, any more than we do.
I now move on to the book of Psalms; however, I don't find it necessary to make many comments about this book. Some of the Psalms are moral, and others are very revengeful. Most of them refer to specific local events of the Jewish nation that occurred at the time they were written, which has nothing to do with us. However, it is an error to call them the Psalms of David. They are a collection from different song-writers who lived at different times; just as song-books are in modern times. The 137th Psalm could not have been written until more than 400 years after the time of David, because it was written in memory of an event (the captivity of the Jews in Babylon) that didn't happen until that time . "By the rivers of Babylon we sat down; yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows, in the midst thereof; for there they that carried us away captive required of us a song, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion". This is like saying to an American, Frenchman or Englishman, "Sing us one of your American songs, or of your French songs, or of your English songs". As for the time this Psalm was written, this remark is of no use except to show us how the world has been fooled with respect to the authors of the Bible. No regard has been given to the time, place, events, and names of people that are said to have written several of the books. It is as impossible that they wrote the books as it would be for them to walk in their own funeral procession.
The Book of Proverbs. Like Psalms, these are a collection from authors from other nations, as I showed in my notes about the book of Job. Some of the proverbs that are said to have been written by Solomon did not appear until 250 years after the death of Solomon. In chapter 25, verse 1 it says, "These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, copied out". It was 250 years from the time of Solomon to the time of Hezekiah. When a man is famous and his name is known, he is given credit for things he never said or did. This was probably the case with Solomon. It appears to have been fashionable during those days to make proverbs, as it is now to make joke-books, and then credit them to those who never saw them.
The book of Ecclesiastes (or the Preacher) is credited to Solomon. There is good reason to think this is true. It is written as the solitary memories of a worn-out playboy, as Solomon was. He looks back on things that he can no longer enjoy, and cries out, "All is vanity!". Much of the metaphor and feeling is lost due to translation. But enough is left to show that they were very strongly expressed in the original.* From what we know of Solomon, he was witty, showy, lacking in morals, and in the end, depressed. He lived fast, and died at the age of fifty-eight, being tired of the world.
* "Those that look out of the window shall be darkened", is an obscure phrase that refers to a loss of sight.
Seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines are worse than none. Even though it might first have the appearance of much pleasure, it defeats the joy of love by not having a single point of focus. Love that is divided is never happy. This was the case with Solomon. If, with all his so-called wisdom, he was not able to figure this out, then I don't pity him for the feelings of remorse that he had later in his life. In this situation, his preaching wasn't necessary. Consequences of our actions are easy to understand, once we know the cause. Seven hundred wives, and three hundred concubines could have easily taken the place of the whole book. After that, it was needless to say that "all is vanity and vexation of spirit". It is impossible to derive happiness from others who we have deprived of happiness.
In order to be happy in old age, we must occupy our minds with things that can follow us all the way through life, and give the rest only as much as it requires. A man who thinks only of pleasure is miserable in old age, and a man who thinks only of business isn't much better. On the other hand, natural philosophy, mathematical and mechanical science, are a constant source of contented pleasure. In spite of the gloomy dogmas of priests and superstition, the study of the sciences is true theology. It teaches man to know and admire the Creator. The principles of science are in the creation, and are unchangeable and come from God.
Those who knew Benjamin Franklin will remember that his mind was always young, and that he always had a calm temper. Science, which never grows old, was always his mistress. He always had something that passionately interested him; for when we stop having something that passionately interests us, we become like an invalid in a hospital waiting for death.
Solomon's Songs are sexual and silly, but old religious fanaticism has ended up calling it divine. The compilers of the Bible placed these songs after the book of Ecclesiastes, and the chronologists have placed them at 1014 years before Christ. According to this chronology, Solomon was nineteen years old and was beginning to fill his palace with wives and concubines. The Bible-makers and the chronologists should have managed this matter a little better. They should have either said nothing about the time, or else chosen a time that wasn't so inconsistent with the so-called divinity of these songs; because at that time, Solomon was in the middle of a thousand perversions.
It should also have occurred to them that when Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes where he says "all is vanity, and vexation of spirit", that he also included those Songs in that description. (If he did write the book of Ecclesiastes, it was long after he wrote the Songs). This seems even more likely because in Ecclesiastes 2:8 it says, "I gat me men singers and women singers (most probably to sing those songs), as musical instruments and that of all sorts; and behold, (ver. II), all was vanity and vexation of spirit". At any rate, the compilers only did half their job. They gave us the songs, but they didn't give us the tunes so that we could sing them.
The books called the Books of the Prophets make up the remaining part of the Bible. There are sixteen of them, beginning with Isaiah and ending with Malachi (I gave a list of them in my notes on Chronicles). All of these prophets except the last three, lived during the time that the books of Kings and Chronicles were written. Only two of these men, Isaiah and Jeremiah, are mentioned in the history of those books. I will begin with these two men, and will hold my comments about the other men called Prophets for later on in this work.
Whoever takes the trouble of reading the book said to be written by Isaiah will find that it is one of the most wild and disorderly compositions ever put together. It doesn't have a beginning, middle or end. Except for a few short historical parts, the rest of it is an incoherent, bombastic rant, full of excessive metaphors. It has no application or meaning whatsoever. A school-boy would hardly have an excuse for writing such stuff. It is this kind of composition that could properly be called "prose run mad".
The historical part begins in chapter 36 and goes through chapter 39. It relates some events that are said to have happened during the reign of Hezekiah, king of Judah (which is when Isaiah lived). This short piece of history begins and ends abruptly. It has absolutely no connection to the chapter before it, or the chapter after it, or with any other chapter in the book. Isaiah probably wrote these parts, because he was one of the people involved in the events that are written about. But except for this part, there are hardly two other chapters that have anything to do with each other. One is entitled, at the beginning of the first verse, "The burden of Babylon;" another, "The burden of Moab;" another "The burden of Damascus;" another, "The burden of Egypt;" another, "The burden of the desert of the sea;" another, "The burden of the valley of vision"*. This is like saying, "The story of the Knight of the Burning Mountain," "The story of Cinderella," or "The Children in the Wood," etc, etc.
*See beginning of chapters 13, 15, 17, 19, 21 and 22.
I have already shown, in the last two verses of Chronicles and the first three in Ezra, that the compilers of the Bible mixed up and confused the writings of different authors with each other. This alone, even if there were no other reason, is enough to destroy the authenticity of any compilation. It is absolutely certain that the compilers had no idea who the authors were. A very glaring example of this occurs in the book of Isaiah. The end of chapter 44 and the beginning of chapter 45 could not have been written by Isaiah; it could only have been written by someone who lived at least a hundred and fifty years after Isaiah was dead.
These chapters are a compliment to Cyrus, who allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple (as is mentioned in Ezra). In the last verse of chapter 44 and the beginning of chapter 45 it says, "That saith of Cyrus; He is my shepherd and shall perform all my pleasure; even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shall be built, and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two-leaved gates and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee," etc.
How daring it is of the church and priestly ignorance to try to force this book on the world as the writing of Isaiah, when Isaiah (according to their own chronology) died soon after the death of Hezekiah, which was 693 years before Christ. The decree of Cyrus having the Jews return to Jerusalem was (according to the same chronology) 536 years before Christ. This is a difference of 162 years. I imagine the compilers of the Bible did not make these books. Instead, they picked up several loose anonymous essays, and put them together under the names of authors that best suited their purpose. They encouraged people to believe these books, which they invented, even though it was impossible that they did not know what they were doing (lying).
When we see how the Scripture-makers made every part of this romantic book of schoolboy's eloquence bend to the monstrous idea of a Son of God conceived by a ghost moving onto the body of a virgin, then we are justified in suspecting them of any falsehood. Every phrase and event has the marks of superstition, and are forced to have impossible meanings. The head of every chapter and top of every page are titled with names of Christ and the Church, with the intention of fooling unwary readers into believing that there are no errors.
Isaiah 7:14 says, "Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son". This verse has been interpreted to be a reference to Jesus Christ and his mother Mary. This interpretation has been passed down through Christendom for more than a thousand years. Men have held this opinion so strongly that there is hardly any place in it that has not caused bloodshed and desolation. My intention is to show that the Bible is false. By doing this, I can take away the very foundation that this whole superstition is built on. Even though I didn't intend to get into a controversy about this verse, I must stop a moment to expose the false application of this passage.
This verse was spoken to Ahaz, king of Judah. It is none of my business whether Isaiah was playing a trick on Ahaz or not. I just want to show how this passage was misapplied, and that it has no more reference to Christ and his mother than it has to me and my mother.
The story is simply this: The king of Syria and the king of Israel, (I have already mentioned that the Jews were split into two nations, one of which was called Judah, the capital of which was Jerusalem, and the other Israel), got together and made war against Ahaz, king of Judah, and marched their armies toward Jerusalem. Ahaz and his people became alarmed, and the account says in verse 2, "And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind."
This was the situation when Isaiah speaks to Ahaz, and assures him in the name of the Lord (the usual phrase used by all the prophets) that these two kings would not defeat him. To satisfy Ahaz that what he said was true, he tells Ahaz to ask for a sign.
The account says that Ahaz didn't do this, because he said he did not want to tempt the Lord. Isaiah responds in verse 14 by saying, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign, Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son;" and the 16th verse says, "For before this child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest, (or dreadest, meaning Syria and the kingdom of Israel) shall be forsaken of both her kings."
So here, he says what the sign would be, and gives a time limit for its completion to confirm the promise. He says it would be fulfilled before the child knows the difference between good and evil.
Isaiah had committed himself to this prophecy. Therefore, in order to avoid the consequences of being called a false prophet, he takes it upon himself to make this sign appear. It was certainly not a very difficult thing anytime in the world to find a pregnant girl (or to make her pregnant), and Isaiah may have known about one ahead of time. (I doubt that the prophets of that day were any more honest than the priests of our own day). Be that as it may, he says in the next chapter in verse 2, "And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah, and I went unto the prophetess, and she conceived and bare a son".
So here is the whole foolish story of this child and this virgin. This is the perverted story that the book of Matthew (and the unwise and foul interests of priests in later times) have built into a theory which they call the Gospel. 700 years after this foolish story was told, they have made it refer to Jesus Christ, who they say was conceived by a so-called holy ghost who came upon the body of a woman. This was a woman who was engaged to be married, and after she was married, they call her a virgin. Speaking for myself, I do not hesitate to say that I don't believe this theory; or to say that it is as fabulous and false as God is true.*
* In chapter 7, verse 14 it says that the child would be called Immanuel. But this name was not given to either of the children, other than as a character that the word signifies. The child of the prophetess was call Maher-shalal-hash-baz, and Mary's child was called Jesus.
But to show the imposition and falsehood of Isaiah, we only have to look at the sequel to the story. It is conveniently not mentioned in the book of Isaiah, but it is told in chapter 28 of II Chronicles. It turns out that instead of these two kings failing to defeat Ahaz, king of Judah (like Isaiah had pretended to predict), that they DID defeat Ahaz. Ahaz was defeated and destroyed, a hundred and twenty thousand of his people were slaughtered, Jerusalem was plundered, and two hundred thousand women, and sons and daughters, were carried into captivity. So much for this lying prophet and impostor, Isaiah, and the book of lies that bears his name.
I now move on to the book of Jeremiah. This so-called prophet lived during the reign of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah. It was during the time that Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem. Jeremiah was strongly suspected of being a traitor working for Nebuchadnezzar. Everything about Jeremiah indicates that he was a man of questionable character. An example of this is his metaphor of the potter and the clay found in chapter 18. He presents his predictions in a crafty way that always leaves him a way to escape, in case the event turns out to be the opposite of what he predicted.
In verses 7 and 8 of that chapter he has God saying, ""At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and destroy it. If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them."
These were the conditions for one side of the case; now for the other side:
Verses 9 and 10, "And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice; then I shall repent of the good wherewith I said I would benefit them."
So here was the condition for the other side. Using this method of prophesying, a prophet could never be wrong, no matter how what God did. This kind of ridiculous deception, and this manner of disrespect towards God (as one would speak of a man), is only consistent with the stupidity of the Bible.
As for the authenticity of the book, it only has to be read to see clearly that, though some passages may have been spoken by Jeremiah, he is not the author of the book. The so-called historical parts are totally confusing. The same events are repeated several times, and sometimes in a different manner that contradicts each other. This disorder shows all the way through to the last chapter. In that chapter the history starts all over again, and then ends abruptly. The book appears to be a collection of unrelated stories about the people and things of that time. They are collected in the same rude manner that you see contradictory stories about people and things of today. They were put together without date, order or explanation. I will give two or three examples of this.
From chapter 37, it appears that the army of Nebuchadnezzar (which was called the army of the Chaldeans), had besieged Jerusalem for quite some time. They heard that the army of Pharaoh of Egypt was marching against them, so they stopped their siege and retreated for a time. In order to understand this confused history, it should be mentioned that Nebuchadnezzar had taken over Jerusalem during the reign of Jehoiakim (who was Zedekiah's predecessor). It was Nebuchadnezzar who had made Zedekiah the king (actually just a viceroy). The second siege, that Jeremiah is referring to, was the result of Zedekiah revolting against Nebuchadnezzar. This is part of the reason for suspecting Jeremiah of being a traitor who was actually working for Nebuchadnezzar. In chapter 43, Jeremiah calls Nebuchadnezzar "the servant of God".
Chapter 37, verse 11 says, "And it came to pass, that, when the army of the Chaldeans was broken up from Jerusalem, for fear of Pharoah's army, that Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem, to go (as this account states) into the land of Benjamin, to separate himself thence in the midst of the people, and when he was in the gate of Benjamin, a captain of the ward was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah, and he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans. Then said Jeremiah, It is false; I fall not away to the Chaldeans."
Jeremiah was accused, tried, and committed to prison on suspicion of being a traitor. The last verse of this chapter says that he remained there.
But the next chapter gives an account of Jeremiah's imprisonment that is different. It says that his imprisonment was due to another reason. To find this reason, we have to go back to chapter 21. In this chapter, it tells how Zedekiah sent Pashur (son of Malchiah) and Zephaniah (son of Maaseiah the priest) to Jeremiah to ask him about Nebuchadnezzar, whose army was then at Jerusalem. In verse 8 and 9 Jeremiah responds by saying, "Thus saith the Lord, Behold I set before you the way of life, and the way of death; he that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence; but he that goeth out and falleth to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey".
This meeting ends abruptly at the end of chapter 21 in verse 10. (This is the kind of disorder that is in this book). We have to go past sixteen chapters about other subjects before we find a continuing account of this meeting. This brings us to chapter 38, verse 1, as I have just mentioned.
Chapter 38 opens by saying, "Then Shepatiah, the son of Mattan; Gedaliah, the son of Pashur; and Jucal, the son of Shelemiah; and Pashur, the son of Malchiah (there are more people mentioned here than in chapter 21), heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people, saying, Thus saith the Lord, He that remaineth in this city, shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence; but he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live, for he shall have his life for prey, and shall live;" (which are the words from the previously mentioned meeting), therefore, (they say to Zedekiah), "We beseech thee, let us put this man to death, for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people in speaking such words unto them; for this man seeketh not the welfare of the people, but the hurt." And in verse 6 it says, "Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah."
These two accounts contradict each other. One says that he was imprisoned due to his attempt to escape out of the city; the other says it was due to his preaching and prophesying in the city. One says it was due to his being seized by the guard at the gate; the other says it was because the men from the meeting accused him before Zedekiah.
I also noticed two chapters in I Samuel (16 and 17) that contradict each other with respect to David, and the way that he met Saul. It is just like chapters 37 and 38 in the book of Jeremiah that contradict each other regarding the reason that Jeremiah was put in prison.
In chapter 16 of Samuel, it says that an evil spirit of God troubled Saul, and that his servants told him that he ought "to seek out a man who was a cunning player upon the harp" to remedy his condition. In verse 17, Saul says, "Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me. Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him. So Saul sent messengers to Jesse, and said, "Send me David thy son." And [verse 21,] David came to Saul, and stood before him, and he loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer. And when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul [ver. 23] that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well."
But in chapter 17 there is an entirely different story of how Saul and David met. Here it is said to be David's encounter with Goliath, when David was sent by his father to carry supplies to his brothers in camp. In verse 55 of this chapter it says, "And when Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine [Goliath], he said unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, whose son is this youth? And Abner said, As thy soul liveth, O king, I cannot tell. And the king said, Enquire thou whose son the stripling is. And as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou young man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite." These two accounts show each other to be lies, because they indicate that Saul and David did not know each other previously. The Bible is just to ridiculous to criticize.
Back to Jeremiah...
In chapter 39 we have another example of the disorderly condition of this book. Even though chapters 37 and 38 have been talking about the subject of the siege of the city by Nebuchadnezzar, chapter 39 begins as if nothing had been said about it. It makes it sound like the reader had not read anything about the siege yet, because it begins by saying, "In the ninth year of Zedekiah, king of Judah, in the tenth month, came Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and all his army, against Jerusalem, and they besieged it," etc.
But the example in the last chapter (52) is even more glaring. Even though the story has been told over and over again, this chapter still acts like the reader doesn't know anything about it. In verse 1, it says, "Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem, and his mother's name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. (Ver. 4,) And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it, and built forts against it," etc.
It is not possible that any one man, especially Jeremiah, could have been the writer of this book. The errors are of a kind that could not have been committed by any one person sitting down to write a work. If I, or any other man, were to write in such a disorderly way, nobody would read what was written. Everybody would just assume that the author was insane. Therefore, the only way to account for this disorder is to assume that it is a collection of unrelated, unauthenticated stories. It was put together by some stupid book-maker and said to be written by Jeremiah. This was simply because many of the stories refer to him and to the events that occurred during the time he was alive.
I shall mention two more examples of the deception and false predictions of Jeremiah, and then move on to review the remainder of the Bible.
In chapter 38, it appears that when Jeremiah was in prison, Zedekiah sent for him. During this interview (which was private), Jeremiah strongly encourages Zedekiah to surrender himself to the enemy. In verse 17 he says, "If thou wilt assuredly go forth unto the king of Babylon's princes, then thy soul shall live," etc.
Zedekiah was concerned that what was said at this meeting might leak out. So, in verse 25, he said to Jeremiah, "If the princes [meaning those of Judah] hear that I have talked with thee, and they come unto thee, and say unto thee, Declare unto us now what thou hast said unto the king; hide it not from us, and we will not put thee to death; and also what the king said unto thee; then thou shalt say unto them, I presented my supplication before the king, that he would not cause me to return to Jonathan's house to die there. Then came all the princes unto Jeremiah, and asked him: and he told them according to all the words the king had commanded." Apparently this so-called 'man of God' could tell a lie whenever it seemed to serve his purpose. He clearly did not go to Zedekiah to make a supplication, and in fact he didn't make one. He went because he was sent for. He then used that opportunity to advise Zedekiah to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar.
In chapter 34, Jeremiah gives a prophecy to Zedekiah. It says, "Thus saith the Lord, Behold I will give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire; and thou shalt not escape out of his hand, but shalt surely be taken, and delivered into his hand; and thine eyes shall behold the eyes of the king of Babylon, and he shall speak with thee mouth to mouth, and thou shalt go to Babylon. Yet hear the word of the Lord, O Zedekiah, king of Judah, Thus saith the Lord, of thee, Thou shalt not die by the sword, but thou shalt die in peace; and with the burnings of thy fathers, the former kings which were before thee, so shall they burn odors for thee, and they will lament thee, saying, Ah, lord; for I have pronounced the word, saith the Lord."
It turns out that Zedekiah in fact did not behold the eyes of the king of Babylon; or speak with him mouth to mouth; or die in peace, with the burning of odors, as at the funeral of his fathers (as Jeremiah had said the Lord himself had declared). According to chapter 52, the opposite happened. In verse 10 it says, "And the king of Babylon slew the son of Zedekiah before his eyes; Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death." What can we say about these prophets, but that they were impostors and liars?
As for Jeremiah, he experienced none of these evils. He became a favorite of Nebuchadnezzar, who put him in charge of the captain of the guard. In chapter 39, verse 12, it says, "Take him (said he) and look well to him, and do him no harm; but do unto him even as he shall say unto thee." Jeremiah ended up joining Nebuchadnezzar, and prophesied for him against the Egyptians who had marched to the relief of Jerusalem while it was under siege. So much for another of the lying prophets, and the book that carries his name.
I have been more specific in my review of the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah, because those two are mentioned in the books of Kings and Chronicles, where the other prophets are not. I will not take so much trouble to review the rest of the books ascribed to the so-called prophets, but will include all of them together in my observations regarding the general character of these men.
In Part 1 of the Age of Reason, I said that the word 'prophet' was simply the Bible word for 'poet', and that the fancy words and metaphors of the Jewish poets have been foolishly built up into what are now called prophecies. I believe I am justified in this opinion, because the books called prophecies are written in poetical language. Plus, there is not another word in the Bible, other than "prophet", that describes a poet. I also said that the word refers to a performer with a musical instrument. I gave some examples, such as a company of prophets prophesying with psalteries, tabrets, pipes, harps, etc.; and that Saul prophesied with them (I Sam 10:5). It appears from this passage, and others in the book of Samuel, that the word 'prophet' only had the meaning of poetry and music. A person who was suppose to have visionary insight into hidden things was not a prophet, but a 'Seer'* (I. Sam 9:9). It wasn't until after the word 'seer' went out of use (which was probably when Saul banished those he called wizards) that the profession of the seer, or the art of seeing, became incorporated into the word prophet.
* I don't know the Hebrew word that corresponds to the word 'seer' in English; but I do know that the French word is 'la voyant' (from the verb 'voir', to see). It means "the person who sees, or the seer".
The modern meaning of the word 'prophet' and 'prophesying' refers to foretelling events long into the future. The inventors of the Gospel had to give it this broader meaning in order to stretch the so-called Old Testament prophecies into the New Testament times. But according to the Old Testament, prophecies of a Seer only related to things that were happening at that time, or very near it. It referred to things like a battle they were involved in, or a journey, or an undertaking, or of any event or difficulty they were then experiencing. (This was also true of prophets, in so far as the meaning of the word Seer was related to the word Prophet). All the prophecies had an immediate reference to themselves, as in the case of Ahaz and Isaiah, and the expression "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son". They did not refer to any distant future time. That kind of prophesying refers to what we now call fortune-telling; such as casting nativities, predicting riches, fortunate or unfortunate marriages, finding lost items, etc. It was the fraud, ignorance and superstition of the modern Christian Church that elevated these poetical, musical, conjuring, dreaming, strolling gentle works into the status that they have now. It was not the work of the Jews, or ancients, that did this.
But, besides this general character of all the prophets, they had also a particular character; they belonged to political parties. Depending on the party they were with, they would prophesy for or against the other party. This is like modern poetic or political writers of today who write for their party, and against the other party.
After the Jews divided into the two nations of Judah and Israel, each party had it's own prophets who abused and accused the others of being false, lying prophets, or impostors, etc.
The prophets of the party of Judah prophesied against the prophets of the party of Israel; and those of the party of Israel prophesied against those of Judah. This party prophesying began immediately after the nation separated under the first two rival kings, Rehoboam and Jeroboam. The prophet that cursed or prophesied against the altar that Jeroboam had built in Bethel, was of the party of Judah (where Rehoboam was king). This prophet was stopped on his way home by a prophet from the party of Israel, who said to him in I Kings, chapter 13, "Art thou the man of God that came from Judah? and he said, I am". Then the prophet of the party of Israel said to him, "I am a prophet also, as thou art (signifying of Judah), and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water: but (says the 18th verse) he lied unto him." However, in this story, the prophet of Judah never got back to Judah. He was found dead on the road, which was arranged by the Israelite. The prophet of Israel was no doubt called a true prophet by his own party, and the prophet of Judah called a lying prophet.
In chapter 3 of II Kings there is a story of prophesying, or conjuring, that shows several things about the character of a prophet. Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, and Jehoram, king of Israel, had temporarily ceased their party animosity, and entered into an alliance. These two, together with the king of Edom, went to war against the king of Moab. After their armies had joined together and marched, the story says that they were desperate for water. At this point Jehoshaphat said, "Is there not here a prophet of the Lord, that we may inquire of the Lord by him? and one of the servants of the king of Israel said, Here is Elisha." [Elisha was of the party of Judah]. "And Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, said, The word of the Lord is with him". Then the story says that these three kings went to see Elisha. Elisha saw the king of Israel, and said to him, "What have I to do with thee? get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother. And the king of Israel said unto him, Nay, for the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hands of Moab". (The king said this because of their desperation for water). Elisha responded by saying, "As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, I would not look towards thee, nor see thee." Here is a clear example of the venom and vulgarity of a party prophet. Now let's see how the prophecy was done.
Ver. 15. "Bring me, (said Elisha,) a minstrel: And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him." Here is the false showmanship of the magician. Now for the prophecy: "And Elisha said, [probably singing to the tune he was playing,] Thus saith the Lord, make this valley full of ditches". In other words, the way to get water was to dig for it. This is just what any native of that country would have told them, without all the fiddle or farce.
But as every magician is not famous for the same thing, neither were the prophets. Even though all of them (at least the ones I've mentioned) were famous for lying, some of them excelled in cursing. Elisha was particularly good at this kind of prophesying. He was the one who cursed the forty-two children in the name of the lord, which resulted in two she-bears coming and devouring them. We are supposed to believe that those children were of the party of Israel. But since those who will curse will also lie, there is as much reason to believe this story of Elisha's two she-bears as there is to believe the Dragon of Wantley, who said:
"Poor children three devoured he,
That could not with him grapple;
And at one sup he ate them up,
As a man would eat an apple."
There was another class of men called prophets, who specialized in dreams and visions (whether they had these by night or day, we don't know). Even though these men were fairly harmless, they were still rather mischievous. Ezekiel and Daniel were in this class of prophets. The first question we have regarding these books is the same that we had about the others; are they genuine? That is, were they written by Ezekiel and Daniel?
We don't have any proof of this, but I tend to think they were. My reasons for this opinion are these: First, those books do not contain internal evidence to prove that they were not written by Ezekiel and Daniel in the same way the books ascribed to Moses, Joshua, and Samuel do.
Secondly, they were not written until after the Babylonian captivity began. There is good reason to believe that none of the books in the Bible were written before that time. As I have already shown, it can be proved from the books themselves that they were not written until after the beginning of the Jewish monarchy.
Thirdly, the manner that the books ascribed to Ezekiel and Daniel are written agrees with the condition these men were in at the time the books were written.
If the many commentators and priests, who have foolishly wasted their time in pretending to explain and solve the riddles in those books, had been carried into captivity, as Ezekiel and Daniel were, it would have greatly improved their intellects in understanding the reason for this mode of writing. It would have saved them the trouble of uselessly trying to understand it the way they have. They would have understood that they would have to write about their own affairs, or those of their friends or country, in a concealed way, the same way Ezekiel and Daniel did.
These two books are different from all the rest, because these are the only ones that are filled with accounts of dreams and visions. This difference is because of the situation that the writers were in. They were prisoners of war, or prisoners of state, in a foreign country. This caused them to write even the most unimportant information to each other, and all their political projects and opinions, in a hidden and metaphorical way. They pretended to have dreamed dreams and seen visions, because it wasn't safe for them to speak of the facts in plain language. However, we ought to assume that the people who they wrote to understood what they meant, and that nobody else was intended to. But these busy commentators and priests have been racking their brains trying to figure out something that was not meant for them to understand, and things that they have nothing to do with.
Ezekiel and Daniel were carried to Babylon as prisoners under the first captivity. This was during the time of Jehoiakim, nine years before the second captivity, which occurred during the time of Zedekiah.
There were still many Jews at this time, and they had a strong army at Jerusalem. It is natural to believe that men who were in Ezekiel and Daniel's situation would be thinking about the recovery of their country, and their own escape. It is reasonable to suppose that the dreams and visions in these books are a secret way of writing about these things. It was like a cipher or secret alphabet. If they are not, then they are tales, daydreams, and nonsense. Either that, or they were just a fanciful way of killing the time during their captivity. But I think we can assume it was the former.
Ezekiel begins his books by talking about a vision of cherubims and of a wheel within a wheel, which he says he saw by the river Chebar, in the land where he was a captive. Isn't it reasonable to think that the cherubims was a reference to the temple at Jerusalem, where they had statues of cherubims? And couldn't the wheel within a wheel (which has always been understood to mean political maneuvering) have referred to the way, or means, of taking back Jerusalem? Later in the book, he claims to have been transported to Jerusalem, and into the temple. He refers back to his vision on the Chebar river, and in chapter 14, verse 3, he says that the vision was like the vision he had on the Chebar river. This shows that those so-called dreams and visions referred to nothing more than the taking back of Jerusalem.
Commentators and priests have come up with romantic interpretations that are as wild as the dreams and visions that they pretend to explain. They convert them into so-called prophecies, and bend them to fit present day times and events. This simply shows the fraud and extreme foolishness that can be caused by gullible people and priestcraft.
Ezekiel and Daniel's country was taken over by the enemy. All their friends and relatives were being held captive in other countries, or were in slavery at home. They were being massacred and were in constant danger. There could hardly be anything more absurd than to think that men in Ezekiel and Daniel's position would have nothing better to do than spend their time thinking about what would happen to other nations several thousand years after they were dead. At the same time, it is completely natural that they would have thoughts about their deliverance, and the taking back of Jerusalem. These were the reasons for the obscure and rather frantic writings found in those books.
When we look at it in this light, it is clear that it was not irrational for them to have used this mode of writing. Under the circumstances, they had no choice. However, if we think of these books as prophecies, they are false. For example, in chapter 29 of Ezekiel, it is speaking of Egypt, and says in verse 2, "No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it; neither shall it be inhabited for forty years". This never came to pass, and is obviously as false as all the other books that I have reviewed. So much for these books.
In Part 1 of the Age of Reason, I spoke about the story of Jonah and the whale. If this story was written to be believed, it is totally ridiculous. If it was meant to see what gullible people could swallow, then it is laughable. If the gullible could swallow Jonah and the whale, they could swallow anything.
As I already noted concerning the book of Job and of Proverbs, it is not always clear which books in the Bible were originally Hebrew. Some are apparently Gentile books that were translated into Hebrew. The book of Jonah says nothing about the Jews, but is completely concerned with the Gentiles. Therefore, it is probably a book of Gentiles rather than the of the Jews. This fable was probably a satire meant to expose the nonsense and vicious, malignant character of a Bible prophet, or a predicting priest.
Jonah is portrayed as a disobedient prophet. He ran away from his mission, and hid away aboard a Gentile ship bound from Joppa to Tarshish. He ignorantly thought he could use his little plan to hide himself where God couldn't find him. When the ship is caught in a storm at sea, the Gentile sailors thought it was a judgment on them because someone on board had committed a crime. They agreed to cast lots to find out who the culprit was, and the lot fell to Jonah.
But before this, they had thrown all their cargo overboard in an attempt to lighten the ship. Meanwhile, Jonah, like a stupid fellow, was sound asleep in the hold of the ship.
After the lot indicated that Jonah was the guilty party, they asked him who and what he was. He told them he was a Hebrew. The story implies that he claimed to be guilty. But these Gentiles did not sacrifice him at once, without pity or mercy (but that's what a company of Bible prophets or priests would have done to a Gentile in that situation; or what Samuel did to the women and children with Agag and Moses). Instead, these sailors risked their own life to save him. The story says, "Nevertheless (that is, even though Jonah was a Jew and a foreigner, and the cause of all their misfortunes and the loss of their cargo,) the men rowed hard to bring it (the boat) to land, but they could not for the sea wrought and was tempestuous against them." They were unwilling to harm Jonah, even though the lot pointed to him as the guilty party. In verse 14 it says they cried to the Lord, saying, "We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood; for thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee". This means that they considered Jonah innocent until proven guilty. They thought that the lot had fallen to Jonah as a decree of God, or as it pleased God. This prayer indicates that the Gentiles worshipped one Supreme Being, and that they were not idolaters, as the Jews said they were. But the storm continued and got worse. So they accepted Jonah's fate, and threw him overboard. According to the story, a great fish then swallowed him alive.
So now we have Jonah securely protected from the storm in the fish's belly. Here we are told that he prayed. But the prayer is a made-up prayer. It is taken from various parts of the Psalms, but without any connection or consistency. Jonah adapted it to his distress, but it still didn't relate to the situation he was in. It is a prayer that a Gentile who knew something about the Psalms might make-up for him. This circumstance alone, even if there were no other, indicates that the whole story was just made-up. At any rate, the prayer apparently fulfilled it's purpose, because the story continues (in the slanted language of the Bible prophets), saying in chapter 2, verse 10, "And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land."
Jonah then sets out for Nineveh on his second mission from God. At this point we have to consider him as a preacher. You would think that with all his sufferings, his disobedience, and his apparently miraculous escape, that Jonah would have some sympathy and generosity with regard to his new mission. But instead, he comes into the city with damnation and slander in his mouth. In chapter 3:4 he says, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown".
We now have this so-called missionary in the last act of his mission. It is here that we clearly see the slanderous spirit of a Bible-prophet, or of a predicting priest. It appears with all the blackness of character that men ascribe to the being they call the devil.
After he gave out his predictions, the story says that he withdrew to the east side of the city. But for what? It wasn't to rest and think of God's mercy to himself or to others. Instead, it was to wait with cruel impatience for the destruction of Nineveh. However, the story says the Ninevites repented. It says that God (according to the Bible phrase) "repented him of the evil he had said he would do unto them, and did it not". The first verse in the last chapter says that this "displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry". Jonah's stubborn heart preferred that Nineveh be destroyed, and every soul, young and old, die in it's ruin, than that his prediction would not be fulfilled. To expose the character of a prophet still more, a gourd is made to grow up in the night to shelter him from the heat of the sun. The next morning the gourd dies.
Here the prophet goes into a rage, and is ready to destroy himself. "It is better, said he, for me to die than to live". This supposedly brings on a conversation between the Almighty and the prophet. God says, "Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And Jonah said, I do well to be angry even unto death; Then, said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for which thou hast not labored, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night; and should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand"?
Here is the conclusion of the satire, and the moral of the fable. As a satire, it strikes against the character of all the Bible prophets. It goes against all the indiscriminate judgments upon men, women, and children that fills the lying book called the Bible. Things such as Noah's flood, the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the utter destruction of the Canaanites. This evil extends even to the nursing babies, and the pregnant women, because in the same story it refers to the 120,000 persons that did not know the difference between their right and left hand (this refers to young children). The story of Jonah also is a satire of the supposed partiality that the Creator had for one nation more than others.
As a moral, this story preaches against the evil spirit of prediction. For as surely as a man predicts bad things, he tends to wish it will happen. The pride of having his judgment come to pass hardens his heart until he finally has the satisfaction, or disappointment, of seeing the fulfillment or failure of his predictions. This book ends with a strong and well-directed point against prophets, prophecies, and indiscriminate judgment. It is like the chapter that Benjamin Franklin made for the Bible (about Abraham and the stranger) that ends up taking a stand against the intolerant spirit of religious persecution. So much for the book of Jonah.
In part 1 of the Age of Reason I spoke about the poetical parts of the Bible that are called prophecies. There I said that the word "prophet" is the Bible word for "poet". The flights and metaphors of those poets, many of which have become obscure over time and change of circumstances, have been ridiculously built up into things called prophecies. They have been applied to things that the original writers never even though of. Whenever a priest quotes any of those passages, he explains it in such a way that is agreeable to his own views. Then he imposes that explanation on his congregation as what the writer really meant. The whore of Babylon has been the whore shared by all the priests, and they agree so well in their explanations, that they each have accused the other of being the keeper of the whore.
There are only a few books left, called the books of the lesser prophets. Since I have already shown that the greater prophets are impostors, it would be cowardly to disturb the rest of these lesser ones. Let them sleep, then, in the arms of their nurses, the priests, and both be forgotten together.
I have now gone through the Old Testament, as a man would go through the woods with an axe on his shoulder, and chopped down trees. Here they lie. The priests may now replant them, if they can. They might stick them in the ground, but they will never make them grow. I now move on the books of the New Testament.
THE NEW TESTAMENT.
They tell us that the New Testament is built upon the prophecies of the Old Testament. If this is true, then it will have the same fate as it's foundation.
It is not extraordinary that a woman might have a child before she was married, and that her son might be executed (even unjustly). I see no reason not to believe that Mary, Joseph and Jesus existed. But believing that they existed or not makes no difference at all. It falls under the heading of " It may be so; and what then?". These people probably did exist, or at least some like them, because almost all romantic stories are based on actual events. For example, the adventures of Robinson Crusoe, which is only fiction, is based on the experiences of Alexander Selkirk.
I am not troubled about whether these people existed or not. It is the fable of Jesus Christ, as told in the New Testament, and the wild and visionary doctrines that have been raised on it, that I have a problem with. The story, as it is told, is blasphemously crude. It tells the story of how a young woman, who is engaged to be married, had a sexual encounter with a ghost, with the profane excuse (Luke 1:35) that "the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee". Nevertheless, Joseph goes ahead and marries her, and lives with her as his wife. He takes over where the ghost left off. This is putting the story into plain language, and when it is told this way, there is not a priest who shouldn't be ashamed of it.*
*Mary, the supposed virgin-mother of Jesus, had several other sons and daughters. See Matthew 13:55-56.
Obscenity in matters of faith, no matter how it is presented, is always an indication of fable and lies. If we are to have a serious belief in God, it is necessary that we do not associate it with stories like this, that run into ridiculous interpretations. This story is the same kind of story as that of Jupiter and Leda, or Jupiter and Europa, or any of the other sexual adventures of Jupiter. It shows, as I already mentioned in part 1 of the Age of Reason, that the Christian faith is built on heathen mythology.
As far as Jesus Christ is concerned, the historical parts of the New Testament are confined to a very short space of time; less than two years. It all occurs within the same country and nearly the same spot. The discrepancies of time, place, and events that proves the Old Testament to be false, cannot be expected to be found here as easily. The New Testament compared to the Old Testament is like a farce of one act. There isn't much room for very many differences between the two. Besides the so-called prophecies, there are still some other glaring contradictions that are sufficient to show that the story of Jesus Christ is false.
Here is my position, that can't be argued with. First, a story cannot be proved to be true simply because all the parts may agree. The story can still be false. Second, disagreement between parts of a story prove that the story cannot be entirely true. Agreement does not prove truth, but disagreement positively proves falsehood.
The history of Jesus Christ is contained in the four books ascribed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The first chapter of Matthew begins by giving a genealogy of Jesus Christ; and in the third chapter of Luke there is another genealogy of Jesus Christ. If these two genealogies agreed, it would not prove that the genealogy is true, because it could still be false. However, since they do contradict each other in every point, it absolutely proves that they are false. If Matthew's version is true, then Luke's is false. If Luke's is true, then Matthew's is false. Since there is no authority for believing one any more than the other, then there is no authority for believing either one. If they cannot even be believed in the first thing they set out to prove, then they are not entitled to be believed for anything else that they say afterwards. Truth is a uniform thing; and if we were to admit a belief in inspiration or revelation, then it is impossible that those truths contradict each other. Therefore, either the men called apostles are impostors, or the books said to be written by them were actually written by others (as is the case with the Old Testament).
Matthew 1:6 gives a genealogy from David through Joseph, the husband of Mary, and then to Christ. It says that there are 28 generations. Luke also give a genealogy from Christ, through Joseph, husband of Mary, down to David. However, it says here that there are 43 generations. Besides this, the names of David and Joseph are the only two that are alike in the two lists. Here is a list of both genealogies to give a perspective and allow comparison. I have placed them both in the same direction; that is from Joseph down to David.
Genealogy according to Matthew. Genealogy according to Luke.
Christ Christ 23 Neri
2 Joseph 2 Joseph 24 Melchi
3 Jacob 3 Heli 25 Addi
4 Matthan 4 Matthat 26 Cosam
5 Eleazar 5 Levi 27 Elmodam
6 Eliud 6 Melchi 28 Er
7 Achim 7 Janna 29 Jose
8 Sadoc 8 Joseph 30 Eliezer
9 Azor 9 Mattathias 31 Jorim
10 Eliakim 10 Amos 32 Matthat
11 Abiud 11 Naum 33 Levi
12 Zorobabel 12 Esli 34 Simeon
13 Salathiel 13 Nagge 35 Juda
14 Jechonias 14 Maath 36 Joseph
15 Josias 15 Mattathias 37 Jonan
16 Amon 16 Semei 38 Eliakim
17 Manasses 17 Joseph 39 Melea
18 Ezekias 18 Juda 40 Menan
19 Achaz 19 Joanna 41 Mattatha
20 Joatham 20 Rhesa 42 Nathan
21 Ozias 21 Zorobabel 43 David
22 Joram 22 Salathiel
*From the birth of David to the birth of Christ is about 1080 years. Since the lifetime of Christ is not included, there are only 27 full generations. To find the average age of each person mentioned in that list at the time his first son was born, all we have to do is divide 1080 years by 27. This gives us an average of 40 years for each person. Since the life expectancy of man was about the same then as it is now, it is absurd to think that all 27 generations were old bachelors before they got married. Even more so, when we consider that Solomon (David's successor) had a house full of wives and mistresses before he was 21 years old. This genealogy is no where near being the truth; it isn't even a reasonable lie. Luke's list gives about 26 years for an average age, and this is still too much.
If Matthew and Luke start out with a falsehood between them (as these two accounts show that they do) in the very beginning of their history of Jesus Christ (and who and what he was), then what authority is left for believing the strange things they tell us later on? If they cannot be believed in their account of his natural genealogy, how can we believe them when they tell us he was the son of God begotten by a ghost, and that an angel announced this in secret to his mother? If they lied in one genealogy, why are we to believe them in the other?
If his natural genealogy is made-up, which it certainly is, why wouldn't we suppose that his celestial genealogy is also made-up, and that the whole thing is a fable? Can any man of serious thought base his future happiness upon the belief of a story that is impossible in nature, repugnant to every idea of decency, and told by people who have already been shown to have lied? Isn't it safer to stick with Deism, which is the plain, pure, and unmixed belief in one God, than to be stranded on an ocean of improbable, irrational, indecent and contradictory tales?
However, the first question we have about the New Testament is the same as we had for the old. That is, Are they genuine? Were they written by the people who are said to have written them? This is the only reason that the strange things told in these books have been given any credit. On this point there is no direct proof for or against. All that this proves is doubtfulness, and doubtfulness is the opposite of belief. Therefore, the state that the books are in is proof against them, as far as this kind of proof can go.
But besides this, it is presumed that the books called the Evangelists, and said to be written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, were not written by those men at all and that they are false. The disordered state of the history in those four books, the silence of one book upon matters told in the other, and the disagreement that is found among them, implies that they are were written by unconnected individuals many years after the things they pretend to tell. Each of these people made up their own legend. These are not the writings of men who lived closely together, as the men called the apostles are said to have done. In fact, these books have been made-up, just like the books of the Old Testament were; and they were written by somebody other than the person whose name they bear.
The story of the angel announcing what the church calls the 'immaculate conception' is not even mentioned in the books ascribed to Mark and John; and it is told differently in Matthew and Luke. In Matthew it says that the angel appeared to Joseph; in Luke it says it was to Mary. But using either Joseph or Mary for evidence was the worst thing they could have thought of. It should have been other people who testified for them, and not them doing it for themselves. Would anyone believe a pregnant girl today if she said (or even swore) that a ghost got her pregnant and an angel told her so? They would not. Then why should we believe the same thing of another girl, whom we never saw, told by nobody knows who, nor when, nor where? How strange and inconsistent it is, that the same circumstances that would cause us to disbelieve even a likely story, should be given as a motive for believing this one. This story has every appearance of being absolutely impossible and a fake!
The story of Herod destroying all the children under the age of two is only told in the book of Matthew. None of the other books mention anything about it. If this event would have been true, then surely all the other writers must have known about it. The thing would have been too important to have been omitted by them. The book of Matthew tells us that Jesus escaped this slaughter because Joseph and Mary were warned by an angel to flee with him to Egypt. But it forgets to make some provision for John, who was also under two years of age. However, John, who stayed behind, fared as well as Jesus, who fled. Therefore, the story has circumstantial evidence that contradicts itself.
None of the writers agree about the wording of the short inscription which they say was put over Christ when he was crucified. Besides that, Mark says he was crucified at the third hour (nine in the morning), and John says it was the sixth hour (twelve at noon).*
*According to John 19:14, the sentence was not passed until about the sixth hour (noon). Therefore, the execution could not be until the afternoon. But Mark 15:25 says that he was crucified at the third hour (nine in the morning).
Here is the inscription as stated in each of these books:
MATTHEW.... This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.
MARK.... The king of the Jews.
LUKE.... This is the king of the Jews.
JOHN.... Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews.
As trivial as these circumstances are, they lead us to believe that those writers, whoever they were, and in whatever time they lived, were not present at the crucifixion. The only apostle who appears to have been near the spot was Peter. When he was accused of being one of Jesus' followers, Matthew 26:74 says, "Then he [Peter] began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man!". Yet we are now asked to believe this same man who, by their own account, was convicted of perjury. What reason, or what authority, would cause us to do this?
The accounts that are given regarding the events surrounding the crucifixion are told differently in these four books.
In Matthew 27:45, it says, "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour." Ver. 51, 52, 53, "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city and appeared unto many."
This is the account which this dashing writer of the book of Matthew gives. However, he is not supported in this by the writers of any of the other books.
The writer of the book of Mark, in relating the events surrounding the crucifixion, does not mention any earthquake, or rocks rending, or graves being opened, or the dead men walking out. The writer of Luke is also silent on these points. The writer of John, though he tells all the details of the crucifixion down to the burial of Christ, says nothing about either the darkness; the veil of the temple; the earthquake; the rocks; the graves, or the dead men.
If it had been true that those things had happened, and if the writers of those books had lived at the time they did happen, and had been the persons they are said to be (namely, the four men called apostles, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), then it was not possible for them, as true historians, even if they weren't inspired, not to have recorded them. If these things had been facts, they were much too important to have not been known; or for these men not to tell about them. All these so-called apostles must have been witnesses of the earthquake (if there had been one). It wasn't possible for them to have been absent from it. The opening of the graves and the resurrection of the dead men, and their walking around the city, is of even greater importance than the earthquake. An earthquake is always possible and natural, and proves nothing. But the opening of the graves is supernatural, and it would have been proof of their doctrine, their cause, and their apostleship. If it had been true, it would have filled up whole chapters of those books, and would have been the chosen theme that all the writers would have written about. But instead, they give tedious detail to little, trivial things; and babbling conversations of "he said this, and he said that". All the while, this, the most important of all (if it had been true), is passed over in a lazy manner with a single dash of the pen. It is only mentioned by one writer, and none of the others even hint at it.
It is easy to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told. The writer of Matthew should have told us who the saints were that came to back to life and went into the city, and what became of them afterward, and who it was that saw them. But he is not bold enough to say that he saw them himself. He doesn't say whether they came out naked, and in the buff, he-saints and she-saints; or whether they came out fully dressed, and where they got their dresses. He doesn't mention if they went to their former homes, and reclaimed their wives, their husbands, and their property, and how they were received. He doesn't say whether they entered evictions for the recovery of their property, or brought actions of criminal suits against the rival interlopers; whether they remained on earth, and followed their former occupation of preaching or working; or whether they died again, or went back to their graves alive, and buried themselves.
It is certainly strange that an army of saints should return to life, and nobody knew who they were, or who it was that saw them. It is also strange that not another word more is said on the subject, or that these saints don't have anything to tell us! If it had been the prophets who (as we are told) had previously prophesied about these things, they surely would have had a great deal to say. They could have told us everything, and we would have had prophecies after their death, with notes and commentaries, that would have been at least a little better than what we have now. If these risen saints had been Moses and Aaron and Joshua and Samuel and David, there wouldn't have been an unconverted Jew in all of Jerusalem. If it had been John the Baptist, and other saints from that time, then everybody would have known them, and they would have out-preached and out-famed all the other apostles. But instead of this, these dead saints were made to pop up, like Jonah's gourd in the night, for no purpose at all but to wither in the morning. So much for this part of the story.
The tale of the resurrection follows the story of the crucifixion. In this story as well as the other, whoever the writers were, disagree so much that it is obvious that none of them were there.
The book of Matthew says that when Christ's body was put in the grave, the Jews asked Pilate to post a guard over it to keep the body from being stolen by the disciples. As a result, the grave was secured, sealing the stone that covered the opening; and a guard was posted. But the other books don't say anything about the grave being secured, or sealed with a stone, or guarded. According to their accounts, none of this occurred. However, Matthew follows up this part of the story with a second part. When I get to the end of this section, I will mention it, because it serves to show the falseness of these books.
The story continues in Matt 28:1 where it says that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to the grave at the end of the Sabbath. It was at the beginning of dawn of the first day of the week. Mark says it was at sunrise, and John says it was dark. Luke says it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary, the mother of James, and other women, that came to the grave. John says that Mary Magdalene came alone. This is how well they agree on their first evidence of the resurrection! However, they all seem to have known most about Mary Magdalene. She was a woman who was well known, and it was a good guess that she might have been out on that little walk.
The book of Matthew goes on to say in verse 2, "And behold there was a great earthquake, for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it". But the other books don't say anything about an earthquake, or an angel rolling back the stone and sitting on it. According to their story, there was no angel sitting there. Mark says the angel was sitting inside the grave on the right-hand side. Luke says there were two, and that they were both standing up. John says that they were both sitting down; one at the head and one at the feet.
Matthew says that the angel that was sitting on the stone on the outside of the grave told the two Marys that Christ was risen, and that the women went away quickly. Mark says that the women went into the grave, after wondering why the stone was rolled away. They say that it was the angel who was sitting on the right side that told them Christ was risen. Luke says that it was the two angels that were standing up. John says that it was Jesus Christ himself that told Mary Magdalene that he was risen. In John it says that she did not go into the grave, but only bent down and looked inside.
A dead body that is said to be missing due to supernatural means is an alibi. Now, if the writer of those four books had gone to court to prove this alibi, and if they had given their evidence in the same contradictory way that that have done here, then they would have been in danger of having their ears cropped for perjury, and they would have deserved it. Yet this is the evidence, and these are the books, that have been forced on the world as being divinely inspired and the unchangeable word of God.
After giving the above account, the writer of Matthew then tells a story that cannot be found in any of the other books. It is the same one I hinted at earlier.
After the conversation between the women and the angel sitting on the stone, the writer says, "Now, behold some of the watch [meaning the guard that he said had been posted at the grave] came into the city, showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done; and when they were assembled with the elders and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept; and if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught; and this saying [that his disciples stole his body] is commonly reported among the Jews until this day."
The expression "until this day" is evidence that the book ascribed to Matthew was not written by Matthew. It indicates that the book was written long after those events supposedly occurred. The expression implies that a great length of time passed between those events and the time the book was written. It would not make sense to use that expression for something that happened in our own time. Therefore, in order for the expression to make any sense, we have to think that at least several generations had passed. In fact, this phrase gives the impression of something that happened long, long ago.
The stupidity of the story is worth noticing. It shows that the writer of Matthew was a very weak and foolish man. He tells a story that contradicts itself, and couldn't possibly be true. The guard (if one really existed) might say that the body was taken away, and that they couldn't prevent it because they were asleep. But it says that they claimed it was the disciples who did it. How could someone who was asleep know what was done, or how it was done, or who did it? Evidence such as this does not stand up. It might do well enough for New Testament evidence, but not for anything where truth is concerned.
Now I will look at the evidence in those books that concern the so-called appearance of Christ after his so-called resurrection.
In chapter 28:7 the writer of Matthew tells how the angel that was sitting on the stone at the mouth of the grave said to the two Marys, "Behold Christ has gone before you into Galilee, there shall ye see him; lo, I have told you". In verses 8 and 9 the writer has Christ himself essentially saying the say thing to these women immediately after the angel said it. Then it says that they ran quickly to tell it to the disciples. In verse 16 it says, "Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them; and when they saw him, they worshiped him".
But the writer of John tells us a very different story than this. In John 20:19 he says, "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week [that is, the same day that Christ is said to have risen,] when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst of them."
According to Matthew the eleven were marching to Galilee to meet Jesus in a mountain where he had told them to go. At the very same time, according to John, they were meeting in another place (that Jesus hadn't specified) secretly, for fear of the Jews.
The writer of Luke contradicts the account in Matthew even more than John does. He specifically says that the meeting was in Jerusalem on the evening of the same day that Christ rose, and that the eleven were there. (see Luke 24:13 and 33)
Unless these so-called disciples were lying, it is not possible that the writers of these books could be any of the eleven men called disciples. If what Matthew says it true, then the eleven went into Galilee to keep an appointment to see Jesus in a mountain on the same day that he is said to have risen. Luke and John must have been two of those eleven. Yet the writer of Luke specifically says (and John implies it) that the meeting was that same day, in a house in Jerusalem. On the other hand, if what Luke and John says was true and the eleven were meeting in a house in Jerusalem, then Matthew must have been one of those eleven. Yet Matthew says that the meeting was in a mountain in Galilee. Therefore, the evidence in these books destroy each other.
The writer of Mark doesn't say anything about a meeting in Galilee. But in Mark 6:12 he says that after Christ was resurrected, he appeared in another form to two of them as they walked in the country. It says that these two told the others, but the others would not believe them. Luke also tells a story where he keeps Christ busy throughout the entire day of the so-called resurrection, and into the evening. Of course this entirely cancels out the account of going to the mountain in Galilee. He says that two of them (without saying which two) went to the village of Emmaus on that day, which was seven and a half miles from Jerusalem. It says that Christ (who was disguised) went with them and stayed with them until that evening. He ate supper with them, and then disappeared. Later that evening he re-appeared at the meeting of the eleven in Jerusalem.
This is the contradictory way that the evidence of this so-called re-appearance of Christ is presented. The only thing that the writers agree on is the sneaky privacy of that re-appearance. Whether it was in a mountain in Galilee, or inside a house in Jerusalem, it was still sneaky. What is the reason for all this sneakiness? On the one hand, it goes directly against trying to convince the world that Christ had risen. On the other hand, to have claimed that it was public would have exposed the writers to public scrutiny. Therefore, they were forced to keep it quiet and underhanded.
There is also the account of Christ being seen by more than five hundred people at once. However, Paul is the only one who says this, rather than the five hundred themselves. Therefore, this is the testimony of a single man. By the same account, this is a man who did not believe a word of the story himself at the time it was supposed to have happened. Assuming he wrote the 15th chapter of Corinthians, where the account is given, his evidence is like a man who shows up in court to testify that what he had sworn before was false. A man who finally sees reason has the right to change his opinion; but this liberty does not apply to matters of fact.
I now come the last scene, which was the ascension into heaven. In this situation it was necessary to set aside all fear of the Jews and anything else. This was something that, if true, was to seal up the whole story. It was the proof on which the rest of the disciples mission rested. Words, declarations or promises that were spoken in private (assuming they were actually spoken) could not be public evidence. It made no difference whether they were spoken in a mountain of Galilee, or inside a house in Jerusalem. Therefore, it was very necessary, as I mentioned in part 1 of the Age of Reason, that this event needed to be as public and as visible as the noonday sun. At least it should have been as public as the crucifixion is said to have been. But let me get to the point.
In the first place, the writer of Matthew does not say a single word about it. Neither does the writer of the book of John. In this case, does it seem likely that those writers (who wrote about other things in such tiny detail) would have been silent about this event if it had really been true? The writer of Mark passes over it in a careless, lazy way with a single dash of his pen. It was as if he was tired of romancing the story; or else he was ashamed of it. The writer of Luke handles it the same way. Even between these two, there is apparently no agreement of the spot where his final ascension took place.
The book of Mark says that Christ appeared to the eleven as they ate. This was referring to the meeting of the eleven at Jerusalem. He then mentions the conversation that took place at that meeting, and immediately after that he says (as a school-boy would finish a dull story), "So then, after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God". However, the writer of Luke says that the ascension took place in Bethany. He says that "he [Christ] led them out as far as Bethany, and was parted from them, and was carried up into heaven". So what? The same thing is said of Mohammed. And the apostle Jude says of Moses (ver. 9) "that Michael and the devil disputed about his body". If we believe either of these fables, then our belief is unworthy of the Almighty.
I have now gone through an examination of the four books said to have been written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The time from the crucifixion to the ascension only covers a space of a few days; apparently not more than three or four. All the circumstances are said to have happened in about the same spot (Jerusalem). I believe that it is impossible to find any story on record that has so many glaring absurdities, contradictions and lies as we find in those books. They are more striking and numerous than I expected when I started this examination. There were far more of them than I imagined when I wrote part 1 of the Age of Reason. At that time I didn't have an Old or New Testament, and was unable to get one. At that time my situation was very shaky, and my life was in danger more and more each day. Because I wanted to write something on this subject, it was necessary for me to be quick and to the point. The quotations I made then were only from my memory, but they were correct. The opinions I wrote come from a clear and long-held belief that the Old and New Testaments are false works forced on the world. I believe that the 'fall of man', the story of Jesus Christ being the Son of God, and his dying to appease the wrath of God (a strange way to salvation), are all made-up lies. It is a dishonor to the wisdom and power of God. I believe that the only true religion is Deism. By that I meant (and still mean) the belief in one God, and that we are to imitate his moral character, which means practicing what are called moral virtues. It is only upon this belief (as far as religion is concerned) that I base all my hopes of happiness in an afterlife. So say I now- and so help me God.
But to get back to our subject. It is impossible, because it happened so long ago, to be certain who the writers of those four books were (this fact alone is enough to be doubtful of them; and we do not believe what we doubt). However, it is not difficult to be certain that they were not written by the men who are said to have written them. The contradictions in these books show two things: First, that the writers could not have seen or heard the events that they speak of. Otherwise they would have related them without all those contradictions. This means that the books were not written by the men called apostles, because they were supposedly witnesses of these events.
Secondly, whoever the writers were, they did not work together to come up with their stories. Each writer worked by himself, and did not have knowledge of the other writers works.
The evidence that we have shown disproves both of these points. That is, that the books were not written by the men called apostles, and that the writers did not collaborate on their work with the other writers. As for inspiration, it is completely out of the question. Inspiration and contradiction go together about as well as truth and lies.
If four men see and hear an event, they will agree about the time and place where the event occurred. They would get this right even if they hadn't previously discussed it. They don't have to collaborate on it, because each of them knows it for himself. One will not say it was a mountain in the country, while the other says it was at a house in town. One will not say it was at sunrise, while the other says that it was dark. Whatever place and time the event took place, all of them will know it.
On the other hand, if four men get together and collaborate on a story, they will each make sure that their stories agree, and each story will support all the other stories. In one case the facts are supplied because of the collaboration. In the other case, there is no need for collaboration because all of them know the facts. Therefore, the contradictions that prove that there was no collaboration, also proves that the writers had no knowledge of those events (which were reported as facts). This clearly shows the falsehood of these writings. Those books were not written by the men called apostles, and they weren't written by impostors who were in collaboration with each other. So how were they written?
I don't like to believe that there is a lot of what is called "willful lying", except in the case of the prophets in the Old Testament (prophesying is professional lying). In almost all other cases, it is fairly easy to see how a simple idea, along with some gullible people, can grow into a lie and eventually be told as if it were a fact. Whenever we find a good reason for thinking that something like this happened, we shouldn't be too harsh in our judgment.
The story of Jesus Christ appearing after he was dead is the story of a ghost. It is something that fearful imaginations are able to create in visions, and something that gullible people believe. This kind of story had been told of the assassination of Julius Caesar just a few years before. They generally originate in violent deaths, or when innocent people are murdered. In cases like these, people tend to feel compassion, and the story gets stretched quite a bit. It goes a little further, and further, until at last it begins to be thought of as the truth. Once a ghost story starts, then gullibility will fill in the history of its life, and give a reason for it's appearance! One tells it one way, and another tells it another way, until there are as many stories about the ghost and the one who started the ghost story, as there are about Jesus Christ in these four books.
The story of Jesus Christ's appearance is told with a strange mixture of 'the natural' and 'the impossible' that shows it to be a legendary tale, rather than fact. He is shown as coming and going when the doors are shut, and vanishing and re-appearing again. It's just like a ghostly vision. Yet he still gets hungry, and sits down to eat supper. Those who tell these kind of stories never seem to consider all the possible circumstances. The same thing has happened here. They told us when he rose from the dead, that he left his grave clothes behind. But in the story they forgot to provide him with other clothes to appear in afterwards. They don't tell us what he did with his clothes when he ascended. Did he strip them off, or did he go up clothes and all? In the case of Elijah, at least they were careful enough to have him throw down his coat. But they don't say how it managed to not get burned up in the chariot of fire. Since imagination makes up for missing parts of stories like this, I suppose we could just suppose that it was made out of salamander's wool.
Those who aren't very familiar with church history may think that the New Testament has existed ever since the time of Jesus Christ, in the same way that they think that the books ascribed to Moses existed ever since the time of Moses. However, historically this is not the case. There was no such book as the New Testament until more than three hundred years after the time that Christ is said to have lived.
It is totally uncertain when the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John began to appear. There is absolutely no evidence of who the persons where that wrote them, or at what time they were written. They may as well have been called by the names of any of the other apostles. No existing Christian Church has a copy of the originals; just like the Jews don't have the two stone tablets that they say God wrote on in Mount Sinai, and gave to Moses. Even if the church did have the originals, there would be no way to prove the handwriting anyway. At the time those books were written there was no printing, and therefore there could be no publishing, other than by written copies. Any man could make a written copy, or alter another one, and call it the original.* Do we really think that it is consistent with the wisdom of God that he would reveal himself, or his will to men, with such an uncertain method as this? Or is it consistent that we should put our faith in these uncertainties? We cannot make, change, or even imitate a single blade of grass that God has made. Yet we can make or change the words of God as easily as the words of men.
* Part 1 of the Age of Reason has only been published for about two years, and there is already a line in it that I didn't write. The line is "The book of Luke was carried by a majority of one voice only". That line may be true, but I wasn't the one who wrote it. Some person who might have been familiar with the circumstances added it in a note at the bottom of the page in some editions that were printed in England or in America. After that, the printers added it to the main body of text, and made me the author of it. This happened in a short space of time, even though we have printing which prevents changes in copies. It has an even greater chance of happening when there was no printing, and any man could write a written copy, and call it an original by Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.
About three hundred and fifty years after the time of Christ, there were several of these kinds of writings scattered around in the hands of various people. The church had begun to form itself into a hierarchy, or church government, with secular powers. So it set out to collect all these writings into a code called the New Testament that we see now. As I mentioned in part 1 of the Age of Reason, they decided by vote which of those writings in their collection should be the word of God, and which should not. The Rabbi's of the Jews had decided by vote on the books of the Old Testament before that.
Power and profit was the purpose of the church (as is the case in all national establishments of churches), and terror was the way it accomplished it's objectives. It stands to reason that the most miraculous and astonishing of the writings they had collected would have the best chance for being voted in. The vote stands in place of the authority of the books; it can be traced no higher than that.
However, there were many disputes among the Christian community; not just regarding points of doctrine, but also concerning the authenticity of the books. In the year 400, there was a dispute between St. Augustine and Fauste. Fauste says: ""The books called the Evangelists have been composed long after the times of the apostles by some obscure men, who, fearing that the world would not give credit to their relation of matters of which they could not be informed, have published them under the names of the apostles, and which are so full of sottishness and discordant relations, that there is neither agreement nor connection between them".
In another place Fauste speaks to others who claim that the books are the word of God, saying, "It is thus that your predecessors have inserted in the scriptures of our Lord many things, which, though they carry his name agrees not with his doctrines. This is not surprising, since that we have often proved that these things have not been written by himself, nor by his apostles, but that for the greater part they are founded upon tales, upon vague reports, and put together by I know not what, half-Jews, but with little agreement between them, and which they have nevertheless published under the names of the apostles of our Lord, and have thus attributed to them their own errors and their lies."*
* These two excerpts were written in French, and are from Boulanger's 'Life of Paul'. Boulanger quotes them from the writings of Augustine against Fauste.
By these excerpts, the reader will see that the authenticity of the books of the New Testament was denied. The books were treated as tales, forgeries and lies, at the very time that they were being voted to be the word of God.* But the interests of the church finally suppressed all investigation into the matter (the threat of being burned at the stake also helped). If we believe them, they claim that miracles came one after the other, and men were taught to say they believed it whether they believed it or not. As an aside... The French Revolution seems to have prevented the church from working miracles. With the assistance of all her saints, she has not been able to work one miracle since the revolution began. Since the church has never been in greater need than now, it is easy to conclude that all her former miracles were tricks and lies.
*In 'The Life of Paul', Boulanger has collected a number of works from church histories, and writings of the so-called church fathers. These show several instances of the opinions that prevailed among the different sects of Christians at the time the Testament was voted to be the word of God. The following excerpts are from the second chapter of that book.
"The Marcionists, (a Christian sect,) assumed that the evangelists were filled with falsities. The Manicheans, who formed a very numerous sect at the commencement of Christianity, rejected as false all the New Testament, and showed other writings quite different that they gave for authentic. The Cerinthians, like the Marcionists, admitted not the Acts of the Apostles. The Encratites, and the Severians, adopted neither the Acts nor the Epistles of Paul. Chrysostom, in a homily which he made upon the Acts of the Apostles, says that in his time, about the year 400, many people knew nothing either of the author or of the book. St. Irene, who lived before that time, reports that the Valentinians, like several other sects of Christians, accused the scriptures of being filled with imperfections, errors, and contradictions. The Ebionites, or Nazarines, who were the first Christians, rejected all the Epistles of Paul and regarded him as an impostor. They report, among other things, that he was originally a pagan, that he came to Jerusalem, where he lived some time; and that having a mind to marry the daughter of the high priest, he caused himself to be circumcised: but that not being able to obtain her, he quarreled with the Jews and wrote against circumcision, and against the observance of the Sabbath, and against all the legal ordinances".
There was more than three hundred years between the time that Christ is said to have lived and the time that the New Testament was formed into a book. Even without looking at the historical evidence, it should be clear that the authenticity of the book is uncertain. Even though the book of Homer is a thousand years older than the New Testament, the authenticity of the author of that book is much better established. Only an extremely good poet could have written the book of Homer, and therefore only a few could have attempted it. A man who was capable of doing it would not have given up his own fame by turning it over to someone else. In the same way, there are only a few people who could have written Euclid's Elements, because only an extremely good geometrician could have written it.
But as for the books of the New Testament (especially the parts about the resurrection and ascension of Christ), any person who could tell a ghost story, or tell about a man who walks, could have written such books. The story is horribly told. Therefore, the chance that the Testament is a forgery is millions to one greater than in the case of Homer or Euclid. Of all the many priests, parsons and bishops of today, any one of them can make a sermon, or translate a scrap of Latin (especially if it had been translated a thousand times before). But is there a single one of them who can write poetry like Homer, or science like Euclid? With very few exceptions, most people's education is very basic, and learned by rote. Their knowledge of science is not much more than 3x1=3. However, if they had lived at the time, this lack of education would not have prevented them from being able to write all the books of the New Testament. [Editors note: Unlike Euclid's Elements or the book of Homer, any ignorant person could have written the New Testament.]
Forgery was easier to do, and there was a greater temptation to do it. There was no advantage for a man to write under the name of Homer or Euclid. If he could write as well as they could, then pride would cause him to write using his own name. If he couldn't write as well, it would be impossible for him to be a successful writer. But as for the books of the New Testament, forgery was a great temptation. The best history that could have been dreamed up two or three hundred years after the fact, could not have passed off for an original if it had been written by a real writer. The only chance of success was for the work to be a forgery. The church wanted an excuse for its new doctrine, and it was out of the question to use truth, or an author with actual talent.
As we saw before, it is not uncommon to tell stories of people who walk after they are dead, or ghosts of people who died in a violent or unusual way. It was not unusual for people in that day to believe such things. They believed in the appearance of angels, and that devils could appear and get inside peoples bodies and shake them like an attack of fever; and that they could be cast out again by causing someone to vomit. (The book of Mark tells us that Mary Magdalene had seven devils cast out of her). Therefore it is not unusual that a story like this could get spread around about the person called Jesus Christ, and eventually become the basis of the four books ascribed to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each writer of these books told the tale the way he heard it, and then put the name of the saint or apostle on his book who tradition said had been the eye-witness. This is the only way that the contradictions in all these books can be accounted for. If this isn't the case, then they are all just downright lies and forgeries; and even gullibility can't be used as an excuse.
It can been seen, as the previous quotations mention, that the books were written by half-Jews. This point is established by the many references made to Moses (an assassin and an impostor), and to the men called prophets. On the other hand, the church adds to the fraud by saying that the Old and New Testaments confirm each other. Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles worked very hard to make prophecies, types, and signs in the Old Testament point to their fulfillment in the New Testament; like old locks and master keys. For instance, due to the natural fear that man has of serpents (serpents bite around the heel, because they can't reach any higher than that; and man always hits the serpent around the head to keep it from biting*), the foolish story of Eve and the serpent was made into a prophecy, a type, and a promise. Another example is the lying farce that Isaiah gave Ahaz when he said that a virgin bearing a son was a sign that Ahaz would win the war (in fact Ahaz was defeated, as was mentioned in our notes on the book of Isaiah). This story has been perverted and used as a basis for the divinity of Jesus in the New Testament.
*Gen 3:15 "It shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel".
Jonah and the whale are also made into a sign or a type. Jonah is Jesus, and the whale is the grave. It is said (and they have Christ say it about himself) in Matt 7:40, "For as Jonah 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". Awkwardly enough, according to their own account, Christ was in the grave for only one day and two nights; about 36 hours, instead of 72. He was in the grave Friday night, all day Saturday, and Saturday night. They say he was up on Sunday morning by sunrise, or before. But since this fits about as well as the bite and the kick (of the serpent) in Genesis, or the virgin and her son in Isaiah, it manages to pass the muster in religious things. So much for the historical part of the New Testament, and its evidences.
Letters of Paul. - The fourteen letters said to have been written by Paul almost fill up the rest of the New Testament. It is not important whether these letters were written by Paul or not, since the writer (whoever he was) attempts to prove his doctrine with arguments. He does not pretend to have seen the resurrection or the ascension, and he says that he didn't believe them.
The story of Paul being struck to the ground while making a trip to Damascus has nothing in it that is miraculous or extraordinary. He escapes with his life, which is more than can be said of many others who have been struck by lightning. Under those conditions, it is not uncommon that he would lose his sight for three days, and been unable to eat or drink during that time. His fellow travelers don't appear to have suffered the same way, because they were well enough to lead him for the remainder of the trip. Nor did they pretend to have seen any vision.
Accounts of Paul have a lot of violence and fanaticism. He persecuted with as much intensity as he later used in his preaching. The stroke he had received changed his thinking without changing what he was made of. Either as a Jew or as a Christian, he was still passionate in his beliefs. Men such as this never seem to have the morals to back up the doctrine that they preach. Their actions and their beliefs are always extreme.
The doctrine that he tries to prove is the resurrection of the earthly body. He puts this forth as evidence of immortality. But different men think differently, and when given the same premise will come to different conclusions. This doctrine of the resurrection of the earthly body does not appear to me to be an evidence of immortality; but instead seems to be an evidence against it. If I have already died in this body, and then I am raised in this same body, it seems like evidence to me that I will die yet again. Just because I am resurrected does not necessarily mean that I can't die again; any more than getting over one fit of fever would necessarily keep me from having another. Therefore, in order to believe in immortality, I need to have a more elevated idea than what is in this gloomy doctrine of the resurrection.
Besides that, I hope that I have the choice of having a better body that is in a more convenient form than the one I have now. Every animal in creation is better than us in some ways. Animals with wings can fly over more space with greater ease in just a few minutes than a man can in an hour. The smallest fish, relatively speaking, can move much faster than us, and without getting tired. Even the sluggish snail can climb up out of the bottom of a dungeon, whereas a man would not be able to, and would die. A spider can launch itself out from the top of that same dungeon simply for the fun of it. The physical strength of man is so limited, and his heavy body so unfit for great enjoyment, that there isn't much cause for us to hope that Paul's opinion is true. These bodies are too little and too common for the magnitude of an afterlife.
But setting all other arguments aside, being conscious of our existence is the only idea of another life that we can conceive; and continuing in that consciousness is immortality. The consciousness of existence (or knowing that we exist), does not necessarily have to be confined to this same bodily form, or for that matter, even to this life.
We do not have the same form, or even the same matter that makes up our bodies, that we had twenty or thirty years ago. Yet we are still conscious of being the same person. Even legs and arms, which make up almost half of the human body, are not necessary for us to know that we exist. These can be lost or taken away, and the full consciousness of our existence still remains. If they were to be replaced by wings, or some other appendages, we cannot think that it would change our knowledge that we exist. The fact of the matter is, that we don't know how much, or rather how exquisitely little, of our make up it is that causes us to have the knowledge that we exist. Everything beyond that is like the pulp of a peach that is distinct and separate from the tiny speck in the kernel that causes it to grow.
Who can say what tiny action of fine matter will cause a thought to be produced in our minds? Yet when that thought is produced (as I now produce the thought that I am writing), it is capable of becoming immortal. It is the only thing that man can produce that has this capability.
Brass or marble statues fade into decay. Imitations of those statues are just not the same. They are not the same workmanship, any more than a copy of a picture is the same as the picture itself. But if you take a thought and print it a thousand times over, that thought is the exact same thought throughout eternity. It makes no difference at all what kind of material is used to print it. It could be carved in wood or engraved on stone. A thought has the potential to exist forever, and not be affected by change of matter. By it's very nature it is distinct and different from everything else that we can know or imagine. Therefore, if something (in this case, a thought) has the capacity of being immortal, it stands to reason that the power that produced it (which is the same thing as knowledge of existence) can also be immortal. Immortality does not depend on the bodily form that it first had; in the same way that a thought does not depend on the material that was used to print it. The idea that we have the potential for immorality is no more difficult to believe than that a thought can be immortal; and we can see that this is true of a thought.
The works of creation demonstrate to our senses (as far as they are able to receive that demonstration) that the 'knowledge that we exist' does not depend on keeping the same form or the same matter. Many animals of the creation teach us to believe in an afterlife, far better than Paul does. Their little lives resemble an earth and a heaven; a present and future form. Their life shows us a miniature immortality.
Some of the most beautiful things we see in creation are the winged insects. But they didn't always look like that. They got their form and their unique brilliant colors through a series of changes. After a number of days, the slow and creeping caterpillar-worm will hibernate, and look like something that is dead. In the next change, a splendid butterfly comes forth in all the miniature magnificence of life. The butterfly does not look anything at all like the worm it once was. Everything has changed. All his powers are new, and life is completely different for him. However, we can't imagine that this animal does not have the same 'knowledge of existence' that he had before. So why should I believe that this same human body has to be resurrected in order for me to have the same 'knowledge that I exist' in an afterlife?
In part 1 of the Age of Reason I said that the creation is the only true and real word of God. This example (or this text in the book of creation) not only shows us that immortality may be possible, but that it is true. The belief in an afterlife is rational. It is based on facts that we see in the creation. It is no more difficult to believe that we will exist in an afterlife, in a better state and form, than to believe that a worm would leave the manure pile and fly away into the air as a butterfly (even though we already know the facts about the butterfly).
In I Corinthians, chapter 15, Paul says some things as a part of the burial service of some members of the Christian sect. His questionable jargon is as meaningless as a bell tolling at a funeral. He doesn't explain or illustrate anything that can be understood or imagined. He leaves the reader to try to find any meaning he can. He says, "All flesh is not the same flesh. There is one flesh of men; another of beast; another of fishes; and another of birds". And then what?- nothing. A cook could have said as much. "There are also bodies celestial, and bodies terrestrial; the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another". And then what?- nothing. What about the difference? He doesn't say. "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars". And then what?- nothing; except that he says one star is different from another star in brightness, instead of distance. He may as well have said that the moon doesn't shine as bright as the sun. All this is nothing better than the jargon of a conjurer, who uses phrases he doesn't understand to amaze gullible people who come to have their fortunes told. Priests and conjurors have the same job.
Sometimes Paul pretends to be a naturalist to try to prove his system of resurrection using the principles of vegetation. He says, "Thou fool, that which thou sowest does not come to life, except it die". Someone ought to reply to him by saying, "Thou fool, Paul, that which thou sowest only comes to life if it does NOT die; for the grain that dies in the ground never does grow or produce vegetation. It is only the living grains that produce the next crop." In any case, this metaphor doesn't even apply. He is talking about a progression, not resurrection.
The progress of an animal from one state of being to another (as from a worm to a butterfly), does apply to the case. But his example of a grain does not apply. It shows Paul to be what he says of others, a fool.
It makes no difference whether the fourteen letters ascribed to Paul were written by him or not. They are all either full of arguments, or are dogmatic. The arguments are defective, and the dogmatic parts are overconfident, so it doesn't indicate who might have written them. The same can be said for the rest of the New Testament. The Christian church was not founded on Paul's letters. Instead, it is based on the so-called Gospel and the false prophecies that are contained in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The letters depend on those, and end up with the same fate. If the story of Jesus Christ is merely a fable, then anything that is reasoned to be true based on that fable is doomed to fall with it.
From history, we know that Athanasius (one of the main leaders of this church) lived during the time that the New Testament was formed.* Based on the ridiculous jargon that he left us under the name of a creed, we also know the character of the men who put the New Testament together. The same history tells us that the books that make up the New Testament were not considered to be authentic at the time. The New Testament was decreed to be the word of God based on the vote of men like Athanasius. No idea could be more strange than that of establishing the word of God based on a vote. Anyone who puts their faith in this kind of authority puts man in the place of God, and they have nothing on which to base their future happiness. Gullibility is not a crime in and of itself. But it does become criminal when it refuses to be convinced. It prevents the conscience from even trying to learn the truth. We should never force ourselves to believe anything that we know can't be true.
*According to Church chronology , Athanasius died in the year 371.
I now close the subject of the Old and New Testaments. The evidence that I have used to prove them false has been taken directly from the books themselves; and like a two-edged sword, it cuts both ways. If the evidence is denied, then the authenticity of the scriptures are denied with it, because the evidence comes from there. If the evidence is accepted, then we have proved that the books are not authentic. The impossible contradictions in the Old and New Testaments are like a man who swears both for and against something. Either way, he is convicted of lying, and his reputation is destroyed.
If the Old and New Testament should fall, it is not my fault. All I have done is taken the evidence out of this confused mess, and arranged it in a way that can be clearly seen and easily understood. Having done this, I leave it to the reader to judge for himself, as I have judged for myself.
In part 1 of the Age of Reason I mentioned three frauds; mystery, miracle, and prophecy. In all the rebuttals that I have seen against that work, nothing has been said that affects what I said about those subjects. Therefore, it is not necessary to address them any further in part 2.
I also spoke in part 1 about revelation, and showed the ridiculous way that term is used with regard to the Old and New Testament. It is not revelation when a man tells about something that he either saw, or was involved in. A man does not need a revelation to tell him that he did or saw something that he himself did or saw. He already knows it. Nor does he need a revelation to tell it or write about it. It is pure ignorance to use the term revelation for something like this. Yet all of the Old and New Testament fit this false definition of revelation.
Revelation between God and man can only be something which God reveals of his will to man. It is admitted that God has the power to make a revelation to man if he wanted to. However, the thing that was revealed (if anything was revealed, which by the way, is impossible to prove) is revelation only to the person to whom it was revealed. When that man tells it to someone else, it is not revelation. Whoever puts their faith in that man's story, is actually putting their faith in that man. This is not good, because that man may have been deceived, or he may have dreamed it, or he may be lying. There is criteria that we can use to judge if he is telling the truth, because even if what he says is morally good, that is not proof of revelation. In all these cases, the correct response would be, "When it is revealed to me, I will believe it to be a revelation. However, it is not necessary for me to believe that it was a revelation before that. It is also not proper that I take the word of man to be the word of God, and put man in the place of God". This is a summary of what I said regarding revelation in part 1 of the Age of Reason. While it reverently admits that revelation is possible (because anything is possible for God), it keeps one man from imposing on another man with false revelation.
But even though I admit the possibility of revelation, I do not believe that God has ever communicated anything to man by speech, language, visions, appearance, or any other means that our senses are capable of receiving. I believe that the only way he communicates with man is by the universal display of himself through the works of the creation; and our dislike for doing bad things and our tendency to do good.
The most horrible wickedness and cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have troubled the human race began with this thing called revelation, or revealed religion. Belief in revelation is the greatest dishonor to the character of God that was ever made known since man existed. It destroys morality, and harms the peace and happiness of man. It would be far, far better for us to let a thousand devils roam the world, and publicly preach the doctrine of devils (if there were such a thing, which there isn't), than to let one impostor and monster such a Moses, Joshua, Samuel or the Bible prophets come speaking the so-called word of God, and causing men to believe it.
What was the cause of all the horrible assassinations of entire nations of men, women and babies that fill the Bible? What was the cause of bloody persecutions, tortures, and religious wars that have since that time, put Europe in blood and ashes? What caused all these things but the thing called revealed religion, and the monstrous belief that God has spoken to man? The cause of all these things are the lies that are in the Old and New Testaments.
Some Christians make the false claim that Christianity was not established with the sword. But what period of time are they talking about? Of course it was impossible that twelve men could begin with the sword. They didn't have the power. But as soon as the Christians grew powerful enough to use the sword, they did (and the stake, and fire too). Mohammed could not have done it sooner. The same spirit that Peter used to cut off ear of the servant of the high priest (if that story is true), he also would have used to cut off his own head and the head of his master, if he had been able. Besides this, Christianity bases itself on the Bible, and the Bible was completely established by the sword. It employs the worst use of the sword- not just to terrify, but to completely exterminate. The Jews did not make converts; they butchered everyone. The Old Testament is the parent of the New Testament, and both are called the word of God. The Christians read from both books, and ministers preach from both books. This thing called Christianity is made up of both of them. Therefore, it is false to say that Christianity was not established by the sword.
The only sect that has not persecuted others are the Quakers. The only reason for this is that they are actually more Deists than Christians. They do not believe very much about Jesus Christ, and they consider the scriptures to be a dead letter. If they had referred to the scriptures with a worse name, they would have been closer to the truth.
It is the duty of every man who respects the character of the Creator, to reject all ideas of revealed religions as a dangerous heresy, and an irreverent fraud. This will reduce many of the miseries of mankind, and will remove the cause behind persecutions. What have we learned from this false thing called "revealed religion"? Absolutely nothing that is useful to man, and everything that is dishonorable to God. What does the Bible teach us?- rape, cruelty, and murder. What does the New Testament teach us?- to believe that God had sex with a woman engaged to be married. The belief in this debauchery is what is called faith.
There are small fragments of morality that are thinly scattered throughout these books. But they don't have anything to do with this false thing called revealed religion. They are simply the natural rules of conscience. They are the bond that holds societies together. Societies cannot exist without them. They are nearly the same in all religions, and in all societies. The New Testament does not teach anything new about this subject. Where it attempts to add something new in this regard, it ends up being mean and ridiculous. The doctrine of not being revengeful is expressed much better in Proverbs (a collection from the Gentiles, as well as the Jews), than it is in the New Testament. In Proverbs 25:21 it says, "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink;".* But in the New Testament it says, "If a man smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also;". This assassinates the dignity of patience, and sinks man to the level of a dog.
*In Christ's sermon on the mount in the book of Matthew, a lot of this false morality is introduced (along with a few good things). It says there that the doctrine of forbearance (or not retaliating for injuries incurred) was not a part of the Jews doctrine. Therefore, since this doctrine is found in Proverbs, we must conclude that it was copied from the Gentiles, and that's who Christ learned it from. The Gentiles (whom Jewish and Christian idolaters have abused by calling heathens) had much better and clearer ideas of justice and morality than what can be found in the Old and New Testaments. Solon (a Gentile who lived about 500 years before Christ) was once asked the question "Which is the most perfect popular government?". No one since his time has given a better answer for the fundamental principle of political morality. He said, "That where the least injury done to the meanest individual, is considered as an insult on the whole constitution".
"Love your enemies" is another dogma of false morality. Besides that, it has no meaning. It is the duty of moral men to not have revenge for an injury. It is equally as good in the political sense, because otherwise there is no end to retaliation. Each retaliates against the other, and calls it justice. But to love someone because they have injured you (if it could even be done) would be like giving a bonus for committing a crime. In any case, the word 'enemies' is too vague and general to be used for a fundamental principle of morality (or maxim). A maxim should always be clear and defined, like a proverb. If a man is your enemy because of a mistake and prejudice (which is the case in religious opinions, and sometimes in politics), that man is a different kind of enemy than one who has criminal intentions. It is our duty to always try to "give the benefit of the doubt". It also contributes to our contentment. But just because someone has criminal intentions towards us, does not mean that we must have more love for him. To say that we can love someone voluntarily, with no reason, is morally and physically impossible.
Morality is harmed when it has rules that are impossible to be carried out; or even if they could be carried out, would produce evil results or be a bonus for crime. The maxim of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" does not include this strange doctrine of loving enemies. No man expects to be loved for his crime, or because he is someone's enemy.
Those who preach this doctrine of loving their enemies, are generally the biggest persecutors. They are consistent in acting this way, because the doctrine is hypocritical; and it is natural that hypocrisy will not practice what it preaches. Personally, I reject the doctrine, and consider it to be a false morality. However, there is not a man alive who can say that I have persecuted him, or any other man in either the American Revolution, or in the French Revolution. It also cannot be said that I have repaid evil with evil. But it is not a moral duty of man to reward a bad action with a good one, or to return good for evil. Whenever someone does this, it is voluntary, not a duty. It is stupid to think that this doctrine has anything to do with revealed religion. We imitate the morality of God by being patient with others, because he is patient to all people. But the doctrine of loving your enemies would imply that God did not love man because he was good, but because he was bad.
If we think about the nature of our condition here, we must see that there is no need for revealed religions. What is it that we want to know? Doesn't the creation (the universe that we see), preach to us the existence of an Almighty Power that rules and regulates the whole thing? And isn't the evidence that the creation gives to our senses, much stronger than anything that we can read in a book that any impostor could have written and called the word of God? As for morality, the knowledge of it exists in every man's conscience.
So here we are. It is evident that an Almighty Power exists, even though it is impossible for us to imagine the nature and manner of its existence. We cannot imagine how we came to be here ourselves, and yet we know for a fact that we are here. It should be clear to us that, if he pleases, this power that brought us into being, can also make us accountable for the way that we have lived here. It is rational to believe that he will hold us accountable, if for no other reason than that he can. The probability (or even possibility) of being held accountable is all that we ought to know. If we knew it to be a fact, then we would merely be slaves of terror. Our belief would have no merit, and our best actions would have no virtue because they would be forced.
So then, Deism teaches us all that is necessary or proper to be known, without the possibility of being deceived. The creation is the Bible of the Deist. There he reads, in the handwriting of the Creator himself, the certainty of God's existence and his unchanging power. To the Deist, all other Bibles and Testaments are forgeries. The probability that we might be held accountable in an afterlife will have the same influence as belief, for the man who thinks about it. It is not our belief or disbelief that determines if a fact is true. As free agents, it is proper that we have this freedom to believe or not. But only a fool would live as if there is no God.
But the belief in a God is weakened by being mixed up with the strange fable of Christianity, and the wild adventures told in the Old Testament; or the obscure and obscene nonsense in the New Testament. The mind of man has become confused, as in a fog. Seeing all these mixed up things, he confuses fact with fable. Since he can't believe all of it, he feels inclined to reject the whole thing. But the belief of a God is a belief that is distinct from all other things, and shouldn't be confused with anything else. The idea of a Trinity of Gods has weakened the belief of one God. The existence of so many beliefs serves to divide beliefs even further. The more that anything is divided, the more it is weakened.
Religion becomes a thing of form, instead of fact; of notion, instead of principles. Morality is done away with to make room for an imaginary thing called faith; and this faith is based on an imaginary sexual indiscretion. A man is preached instead of God. An execution (the cross) is an object for gratitude. Preachers smear themselves with the blood (like a bunch of assassins), and pretend to admire the splendor it gives them. They preach a boring sermon on the merits of the execution. Then they praise Jesus Christ for being executed, and condemn the Jews for doing it. When a man hears all this nonsense lumped and preached together, he confuses the God of the Creation with the God of the Christians, and ends up living as if there were none.
Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is none more disrespectful to the Almighty, less uplifting to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory, than this thing called Christianity. It is too stupid to be believed, too impossible to be convincing, and too inconsistent to be practiced. It causes the heart to be numb, or only produces atheists and fanatics. As an engine of power it only serves to create tyranny; and as means for wealth, it becomes the primary goal of the priests. But as for the good of man in general, it leads to nothing here or in the afterlife.
Deism is the only religion that has not been invented, and that has every proof of originally coming from God. It must have been the first, and will probably be the last religion that man believes. But pure and simple Deism does not serve the purposes of tyrannical governments. They cannot use it for their purposes without mixing it with human inventions, and adding their own authority to it. Neither does it satisfy the priest's greed for money, unless they build the need for themselves and their functions into it. Like the government, they have to become a part of the system in order for it to benefit them. This is what forms the otherwise mysterious connection between church and state; the church humane, and the state tyrannic.
If man was as fully and strongly impressed with the belief of a God as he ought to be, his moral life would be ruled by the force of that belief. He would stand in awe God and of himself, and would not do anything that was offensive to either. To give this belief full power, it is necessary that it acts alone. This is Deism. But when (according to the Christian Trinitarian scheme) one part of God is represented as a dying man, and another part called the Holy Ghost is represented by a flying pigeon, it is impossible to believe such wild tales.*
* Matt 3:16 says that the Holy Ghost descended in the shape of a dove. It might as well have said a goose. The creatures are equally harmless, and one is as much of a silly lie as the other. Acts 2:2-3 says that it descended as a mighty rushing wind, in the shape of cloven tongues. Perhaps it was cloven feet. Such silly stuff is only fit for tales of witches and wizards.
It has been the Christian church's scheme (and all other invented religious systems) to make man ignorant of the Creator, in the same way that the government tries to keep man ignorant of his rights. Both systems are false and are planned for the support of each other. In Christian churches, the study of theology is the study of nothing; it is based on nothing; it rests on no principles; it continues with no authority; it has no data; it can't demonstrate anything; and it does not have a conclusion. Nothing in science can be studied without having the principles that it is based on. Since this is not the case with Christian theology, it is the study of nothing.
So instead of studying theology out of the Old and New Testament as is done now, we must instead refer to the Bible of the creation. The meanings of the books of the Christian Bible are always in dispute, and the authenticity has been disproved. However, the principles we find in the creation are eternal and come from God. They are the basis for all the science that exists in the world, and must also be the basis for theology.
We can only know God through his works. We cannot understand any of his attributes unless we follow some principle that leads to it. We can only have a confused idea of his power if we don't have a way to understand something of its immensity. We can't have any idea of his wisdom unless we know the order and way in which it acts. The principles of science lead to this knowledge. The creator of man is the creator of science, and it is only by using science that man can see God face to face, so to speak.
If a man could be in a situation were he had the power to see, and deliberately think about, the structure of the universe; if he could plot the movements of the planets, and know the cause of their different appearances and the perfect order in which they revolve, even to the remotest comet; if he understood their connection and dependence on each other, and knew the system of laws established by the Creator that rules and regulates the whole thing; then that man would understand (far beyond what any church theology could teach him) the power, wisdom, vastness, and the generosity of the Creator. He would see that all the knowledge man has of science, and all the mechanical inventions that he uses to make himself comfortable in this life, are received from the Almighty. The man who understands this would increase in thankfulness as his mind grows in knowledge. His religion (or worship) would be tied to his self-improvement as a man. Any job that he had that had any connection with the principles of the creation (like agriculture, science, or engineering) would teach him more about God, and the gratitude he owes to him, than any religious Christian sermon that he hears. Great objects inspire great thoughts, and great generosity inspires great gratitude. But the demeaning tales of the Old and New Testament are only good to inspire contempt.
Although man cannot actually experience the scene I described above (at least in this life), he can show it to be true because he has a knowledge of the principles that the creation is based on.* We know that the works of the creation can be represented in a model, and that the universe can be represented in the same way. The same principles that we use to measure an inch, or an acre of ground, can be used to measure a space of millions of miles. A one inch circle has the same geometric properties as one that could encircle the universe. The properties of a triangle that can be used to plot the course of a ship on paper, will also do it on the ocean. When those same properties are applied to objects in space (even though they are millions of miles away from us), it can predict to the very minute the time of an eclipse. This knowledge comes from God, and man learned it from the Bible of the creation. It did not come from the stupid Bible of the church, that teaches man nothing.
*The Bible-makers, in the first chapter of Genesis, tried to give us an account of the creation. In doing this, they only managed to show us their ignorance. They say that there was three days and three nights (evenings and mornings) before there was even a sun. Of course we know that it is the sun that causes night and day, and it's rising and setting causes morning and evening. But besides that, it is childish and sad to think that God said "Let there be light". This is the kind of command that a magician uses when he says to his cups and balls, "Presto, begone". As a matter of fact, that is probably where the expression came from (Moses and his rod is the same thing as a magician with his wand). Longinus calls this expression ("let there be light") sublime, or awe inspiring. By the same rule, the magician is sublime too, because the way he speaks is expressively and grammatically the same. When authors and critics speak of the sublime, they don't see how close it actually is to being the ridiculous. The sublime of the critics (like some parts of Edmund Burke's 'Sublime and Beautiful') is like a windmill in a fog. It can be imagined to be a flying mountain, or an archangel, or a flock of wild geese.
All the knowledge that man has of science and of the machinery that makes him comfortable on this earth comes from the great machine and structure of the universe. Without his machines, man's appearance and condition would hardly be more than a common animal. In the early ages of the world, our ancestors made constant and untiring observations of the stars and they are the ones who brought us this knowledge. It was not Moses and the prophets, or Jesus Christ, or his apostles that did it. God is the great mechanic of the Creation, and the first philosopher and teacher of all science. Therefore, we should learn to respect our master, and not forget the work of our ancestors.
If we currently had no knowledge of machinery, and if it were possible that a man could see the structure and machinery of the universe (as I described above), he would soon have the idea of building at least some of the mechanical devices that we now have. That idea would quickly progress to the actual building of machines. Or if he could see a model of the universe (such as the orrery), and it was put in motion, then his mind would also soon have the same idea. An object such as that would be far better for impressing him with a knowledge and belief in the Creator. He would grow in knowledge that would be useful to him as a man and as a member of society; and it would be entertaining as well. That man would develop a respect and gratitude that man owes to God. He would learn more from this device than he would from all the stupid texts of the Old and New Testaments; which are only good for letting untalented preachers preach stupid sermons. If a man must preach, let him preach something that is uplifting. Let him use texts that are known to be true.
The Bible of the creation never runs out of texts. Every part of science, whether it related to the geometry of the universe, or to the systems of animal and vegetable life, or with the properties of dead matter, is a text that is as good for devotion as it is for philosophy. It is as good for gratitude, as it is for improving the human condition. It may be said that if this kind of revolution takes place in the system of religion, that every preacher ought to be a philosopher. I agree; and every church house should become a school of science.
Wild and blasphemous ideas of God are formed because man has wandered away from the unchangeable laws of science, and the right use of reason; and because something called revealed religion was invented. The Jews made God to be the assassin of the human species in order to make room for their religion. The Christians have made him the murderer of himself and the founder of a new religion, in order to override and expel the Jewish religion. To find an excuse for these things, they must have thought that his power or his wisdom and judgment was imperfect, or that his will was changeable.
The philosopher knows that the laws of the Creator have never changed with regard to the principles of science, or the properties of matter. So why would we think that they have changed with respect to man?
Here I close the subject. I have shown in this work that the Old and New Testament are frauds and forgeries. I leave the evidence that I have produced to be refuted, if any one can do it. I leave the ideas that are suggested in the conclusion of the work to rest on the mind of the reader. I am certain that when opinions are free, in either matters of government or religion, that the truth will finally and powerfully prevail.
END OF THE SECOND PART.
THE END .