Ingersoll the Magnificent
by Joseph Lewis
Gems Concerning The Holy Bible
Somebody ought to tell the truth about the Bible. The preachers dare not, because they would be driven from their pulpits. Professors in college dare not, because they would lose their salaries. Politicians dare not. They would be defeated. Editors dare not. They would lose subscribers. Merchants dare not, because they might lose customers. Men of fashion dare not, fearing that they would lose caste. Even clerks dare not, because they might be discharged. And so I thought I would do it myself.
There are many millions of people who believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God -- millions who think that this book is staff and guide, counselor and consoler; that it fills the present with peace and the future with hope -- millions who believe that it is the fountain of law, justice and mercy, and that to its wise and benign teachings the world is indebted for its liberty, wealth and civilization -- millions who imagine that this book is a revelation from the wisdom and love of God to the brain and heart of man -- millions who regard this book as a torch that conquers the darkness of death, and pours its radiance on another world -- a world without a tear.
They forget its ignorance and savagery, its hatred of liberty, its religious persecution; they remember heaven, but they forget the dungeon of eternal pain.
They forget that it imprisons the brain and corrupts the heart. They forget that it is the enemy of intellectual freedom.
Ministers wonder how I can be wicked enough to attack the Bible.
I will tell them:
This book, the Bible, has persecuted, even unto death, the wisest and the best. This book stayed and stopped the onward movement of the human race. This book poisoned the fountains of learning and misdirected the energies of man.
This book is the enemy of freedom, the support of slavery. This book sowed the seeds of hatred in families and nations, fed the flames of war, and impoverished the world. This book is the breastwork of kings and tyrants -- the enslaver of women and children. This book has corrupted parliaments and courts. This book has made colleges and universities the teachers of error and the haters of science. This book has filled Christendom with hateful, cruel, ignorant and warring sects. This book taught men to kill their fellows for religion's sake. This book founded the Inquisition, invented the instruments of torture, built the dungeons in which the good and loving languished, forged the chains that rusted in their flesh, erected the scaffolds whereon they died. This book piled fagots about the feet of the just. This book drove reason from the minds of millions and filled the asylums with the insane.
This book has caused fathers and mothers to shed the blood of their babes. This book was the auction block on which the slave-mother stood when she was sold from her child. This book filled the sails of the slave-trader and made merchandise of human flesh. This book lighted the fires that burned "witches" and "wizards." This book filled the darkness with ghouls and ghosts, and the bodies of men and women with devils. This book polluted the souls of men with the infamous dogma of eternal pain. This book made credulity the greatest of virtues, and investigation the greatest of crimes. This book filled nations with hermits, monks and nuns -- with the pious and the useless. This book placed the ignorant and unclean saint above the philosopher and philanthropist. This book taught man to despise the joys of this life, that he might be happy in another -- to waste this world for the sake of the next.
I attack this book because it is the enemy of human liberty -- the greatest obstruction across the highway of human progress.
Let me ask the ministers one question: How can you be wicked enough to defend this book?
That Book [the Bible] is the chain that binds, the dungeon that holds the clergy. That book spreads the pall of superstition over the colleges and schools. That book puts out the eyes of science, and makes honest investigation a crime. That book unmans the politician and degrades the people. That book fills the world with bigotry, hypocrisy and fear.
The Bible has been the fortress and defence of nearly every crime.
Across the open Bible lay the sword and fagot.
Let us free ourselves from the tyranny of a book, from the slavery of dead ignorance, from the aristocracy of the air.
One of the first things I wish to do, is to free the orthodox clergy. I am a great friend of theirs, and in spite of all they may say against me, I am going to do them a great and lasting service. Upon their necks are visible the marks of the collar, and upon their backs those of the lash. They are not allowed to read and think for themselves. They are taught like parrots, and the best are those who repeat, with the fewest mistakes, the sentences they have been taught. They sit like owls upon some dead limb of the tree of knowledge, and hoot the same old hoots that have been hooted for eighteen hundred years.
Nobody ever saw anybody who had seen anybody who had heard of anybody that had ever seen anybody that had ever seen one of the original Hebrew manuscripts.
A surgeon once called upon a poor cripple and kindly offered to render him any assistance in his power. The surgeon began to discourse very learnedly upon the nature and origin of disease; of the curative properties of certain medicines; of the advantages of exercise, air and light, and of the various ways in which health and strength could be restored. These remarks were so full of good sense, and discovered so much profound thought and accurate knowledge, that the cripple, becoming thoroughly alarmed, cried out, "Do not, I pray you, take away my crutches. They are my only support, and without them I should be miserable indeed!" "I am not going," said the surgeon, "to take away your crutches. I am going to cure you, and then you will throw the crutches away yourself."
What can I be expected to give as a substitute for perdition? It is enough to show that it does not exist. What does a man want in place of a disease? Health.
Notwithstanding the fact that infidels in all ages have battled for the rights of man, and have at all times been the fearless advocates of liberty and justice, we are constantly charged by the church with tearing down without building again.
Now let me make myself plain upon one subject, perfectly plain. For instance, I hate Presbyterianism, but I know hundreds of splendid Presbyterians. Understand me. I hate Methodism, and yet I know hundreds of splendid Methodists. I hate Catholicism, and like Catholics. I hate insanity but not the insane.
I do not war against men. I do not war against persons. I war against certain doctrines that I believe to be wrong.
There is no necessity of attacking people -- we should combat error. We should hate hypocrisy, but not the hypocrite -- larceny, but not the thief -- superstition, but not its victim. We should do all within our power to inform, to educate, and to benefit our fellow-men.
There is no elevating power in hatred. There is no reformation in punishment. The soul grows greater and grander in the air of kindness, in the sunlight of intelligence.
I do not know what takes place in the invisible world called the brain, inhabited by the invisible something we call the mind. All that takes place there is invisible and soundless. This mind, hidden in this brain, masked by flesh, remains forever unseen, and the only evidence we can possibly have as to what occurs in that world, we obtain from the actions of the man, of the woman. By these actions we judge of the character, of the soul. So I make up my mind as to whether a man is good or bad, not by his theories, but by his actions.
Under no circumstances can the expression of an honest opinion, couched in becoming language, amount to blasphemy. And right here it may be well enough to inquire: What is blasphemy?
A man who knowingly assaults the true, who knowingly endeavors to stain the pure, who knowingly maligns the good and noble, is a blasphemer. A man who deserts the truth because it is unpopular is a blasphemer. He who runs with the hounds knowing that the hare is in the right is a blasphemer.
The believers in the Bible are loud in their denunciation of what they are pleased to call the immoral literature of the world; and yet few books have been published containing more moral filth than this inspired word of God. These stories are not redeemed by a single flash of wit or humor. They never rise above the dull details of stupid vice. For one, I cannot afford to soil my pages with extracts from them; and all such portions of the scriptures I leave to be examined, written upon, and explained by the clergy. Clergymen may know some way by which they can extract honey from these flowers. Until these passages are expunged from the Old Testament, it is not a fit book to be read by either old or young. It contains pages that no minister in the United States would read to his congregation for any reward whatever. There are chapters that no gentleman would read in the presence of a lady. There are chapters that no father would read to his child. There are narratives utterly unfit to be told; and the time will come when mankind will wonder that such a book was ever called inspired.
We are continually told that the Bible is the very foundation of modesty and morality; while many of its pages are so immodest and immoral that a minister, for reading them in the pulpit, would be instantly denounced as an unclean wretch. Every woman would leave the church, and if the men stayed, it would be for the purpose of chastising the minister.
Is there any saving grace in hypocrisy? Will men become clean in speech by believing that God is unclean? Would it not be far better to admit that the Bible was written by barbarians in a barbarous, coarse and vulgar age? Would it not be safer to charge Moses with vulgarity, instead of God? Is it not altogether more probable that some ignorant Hebrew would write the vulgar words? The Christians tell me that God is the author of these vile and stupid things. I have examined the question to the best of my ability, and as to God my verdict is: -- Not guilty. Faith should not rest in filth.
Every foolish and immodest thing should be expunged from the Bible. Let us keep the good. Let us preserve every great and splendid thought, every wise and prudent maxim, every just law, every elevated idea, and every word calculated to make man nobler and purer, and let us have the courage to throw the rest away. The souls of children should not be stained and soiled. The charming instincts of youth should not be corrupted and defiled. The girls and boys should not be taught that unclean words were uttered by "inspired" lips. Teach them that these words were born of savagery and lust. Teach them that the unclean is the unholy, and that only the pure is sacred.
The fact is that good things in a book do not prove that it is inspired, but the presence of bad things does prove that it is not.
After all, the real question is not whether the Bible is inspired, but whether it is true. If it is true, it does not need to be inspired. If it is true, it makes no difference whether it was written by a man or a god. The multiplication table is just as useful, just as true as though God had arranged the figures himself. If the Bible is really true, the claim of inspiration need not be urged; and if it is not true, its inspiration can hardly be established. As a matter of fact, the truth does not need to be inspired. Nothing needs inspiration except a falsehood or a mistake. Where truth ends, where probability stops, inspiration begins. A fact never went into partnership with a miracle. Truth does not need the assistance of miracle. A fact will fit every other fact in the Universe, because it is the product of all other facts. A lie will fit nothing except another lie made for the express purpose of fitting it.
If the Bible is really the work of God, it should contain the grandest and sublimest truths. It should, in all respects, excel the works of man. Within that book should be found the best and loftiest definitions of justice; the truest conceptions of human liberty; the clearest outlines of duty; the tenderest, the highest, and the noblest thoughts, -- not that the human mind has produced, but that the human mind is capable of receiving. Upon every page should be found the luminous evidence of its divine origin. Unless it contains grander and more wonderful things than man has written, we are not only justified in eying, but we are compelled to say, that it was written by no being superior to man. It may be said that it is unfair to call attention to certain bad things in the Bible, while the good are not so much as mentioned. To this it may be replied that a divine being would not put bad things in a book. Certainly a being of infinite intelligence, power and goodness could never fall below the ideal of "depraved and barbarous" man. It will not do, after we find that the Bible upholds what we now call crimes, to say that it is not verbally inspired.
If there is one uninspired word, -- that is, one word in the wrong place, or a word that ought not to be there, -- to that extent the Bible is an uninspired book.
Either God should have written a book to fit my brain, or should have made my brain to fit his book. The inspiration of the Bible depends on the credulity of him who reads. There was a time when its geology, its astronomy, its natural history, were thought to be inspired; that time has passed. There was a time when its morality satisfied the men who ruled the world of thought; that time has passed.
It cannot be too often repeated, that truth scorns the assistance of miracle.
Why should men in the name of religion try to harmonize the contradictions that exist between Nature and a book? Why should philosophers be denounced for placing more reliance upon what they know than upon what they have been told?
Is there an intelligent man or woman now in the world who believes in the Garden of Eden story? If you find any man who believes it, strike his forehead and you will hear an echo. Something is for rent. Does any intelligent man now believe that God made man of dust, and woman of a rib, and put them in a garden, and put a tree in the midst of it? Was there not room outside of the garden to put his tree, if he did not want people to eat his apples?
If I did not want a man to eat my fruit, I would not put him in my orchard.
Does anybody now believe in the story of the serpent? I pity any man or woman who, in this nineteenth century, believes in that childish fable. Why did Adam and Eve disobey? Why, they were tempted. By whom? The devil. Who made the devil? God. What did God make him for? Why did he not tell Adam and Eve about this serpent? Why did he not watch the devil, instead of watching Adam and Eve? Instead of turning them out, why did he not keep him from getting in? Why did he not have his flood first, and drown the devil, before he made a man and woman.
And yet, people who call themselves intelligent -- professors in colleges and presidents of venerable institutions -- teach children and young men that the Garden of Eden story is an absolute historical fact. I defy any man to think of a more childish thing. This God, waiting around Eden -- knowing all the while what would happen -- having made them on purpose so that it would happen, then does what? Holds all of us responsible, and we were not there. Here is a representative before the constituency had been born. Before I am bound by a representative I want a chance to vote for or against him; and if I had been there, and known all the circumstances, I should have voted "No!" And yet, I am held responsible.
We are told by the Bible and by the churches that through this fall of man
"Sin and death entered the world."
According to this, just as soon as Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit, God began to contrive ways by which he could destroy the lives of his children. He invented all the diseases -- all the fevers and coughs and colds -- all the pains and plagues and pestilences -- all the aches and agonies, the malaria and spores; so that when we take a breath of air we admit into our lungs unseen assassins; and, fearing that some might live too long, even under such circumstances, God invented the earthquake and volcano, the cyclone and lightning, animalcules to infest the heart and brain, so small that no eye can detect -- no instrument reach. This was all owing to the disobedience of Adam and Eve!
In his infinite goodness, God invented rheumatism and gout and dyspepsia, cancers and neuralgia, and is still inventing new diseases. Not only this, but he decreed the pangs of mothers, and that by the gates of love and life should crouch the dragons of death and pain. Fearing that some might, by accident, live too long, he planted poisonous vines and herbs that looked like food. He caught the serpents he had made and gave them fangs and curious organs, ingeniously devised to distill and deposit the deadly drop. He changed the nature of the beasts, that they might feed on human flesh. He cursed a world, and tainted every spring and source of joy. He poisoned every breath of air; corrupted even light, that it might bear disease on every ray; tainted every drop of blood in human veins; touched every nerve, that it might bear the double fruit of pain and joy; decreed all accidents and mistakes that maim and hurt and kill, and set the snares of life-long grief, baited with present pleasure, -- with a moment's joy. Then and there he foreknew and foreordained all human tears. And yet all this is but the prelude, the introduction, to the infinite revenge of the good God. Increase and multiply all human griefs until the mind has reached imagination's farthest verge, then add eternity to time, and you may faintly tell, but never can conceive, the infinite horrors of this doctrine called "The Fall of Man."
According to the Bible, God selected the Jewish people through whom to make known the great fact, that he was the only true and living God. For this purpose, he appeared on several occasions to Moses -- came down to Sinai's top clothed in cloud and fire, and wrought a thousand miracles for the preservation and education of the Jewish people. In their presence he opened the waters of the sea. For them he caused bread to rain from heaven. To quench their thirst, water leaped from the dry and barren rock. Their enemies were miraculously destroyed; and for forty years, at least, this God took upon himself the government of the Jews. But, after all this, many of the people had less confidence in him than in gods of wood and stone. In moments of trouble, in periods of disaster, in the darkness of doubt, in the hunger and thirst of famine, instead of asking this God for aid, they fumed and sought the help of senseless things. This God, with all his power and wisdom, could not even convince a few wandering and wretched savages that he was more potent than the idols of Egypt. This God was not willing that the Jews should think and investigate for themselves. For heresy, the penalty was death. Where this God reigned, intellectual liberty was unknown. He appealed only to brute force; he collected taxes by threatening plagues; he demanded worship on pain of sword and fire; acting as spy, inquisitor, judge and executioner.
When reading the history of the Jewish people, of their flight from slavery to death, of their exchange of tyrants, I must confess that my sympathies are all aroused in their behalf. They were cheated, deceived and abused. Their god was quick-tempered, unreasonable, cruel, revengeful and dishonest. He was always promising but never performed. He wasted time in ceremony and childish detail, and in the exaggeration of what he had done. It is impossible for me to conceive of a character more utterly detestable than that of the Hebrew god. He had solemnly promised the Jews that he would take them from Egypt to a land flowing with milk and honey. He had led them to believe that in a little while their troubles would be over, and that they would soon be in the land of Canaan, surrounded by their wives and little ones, forget the stripes and tears of Egypt. After promising the poor wanderers again and again that he would lead them in safety to the promised land of joy and plenty, this God, forgetting every promise, said to the wretches in his power: "Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness and your children shall wander until your carcasses be wasted." This curse was the conclusion of the whole matter. Into this dust of death and night faded all the promises of God. Into this rottenness of wandering despair fell all the dreams of liberty and home. Millions of corpses were left to rot in the desert, and each one certified to the dishonesty of Jehovah. I cannot believe these things. They are so cruel and heartless, that my blood is chilled and my sense of justice shocked. A book that is equally abhorrent to my head and heart, cannot be accepted as a revelation from God.
When we think of the poor Jews, destroyed, murdered, bitten by serpents, visited by plagues, decimated by famine, butchered by each other, swallowed by the earth, frightened, cursed, starved, deceived, robbed and outraged, how thankful we should be that we are not the chosen people of God. No wonder that they longed for the slavery of Egypt, and remembered with sorrow the unhappy day when they exchanged masters. Compared with Jehovah, Pharaoh was a benefactor, and the tyranny of Egypt was freedom to those who suffered the liberty of God.
While reading the Pentateuch, I am filled with indignation, pity and horror. Nothing can be sadder than the history of the starved and frightened wretches who wandered over the desolate crags and sands of wilderness and desert, the prey of famine, sword, and plague. Ignorant and superstitious to the last degree, governed by falsehood, plundered by hypocrisy, they were the sport of priests, and the food of fear. God was their greatest enemy, and death their only friend.
It is impossible to conceive of a more thoroughly despicable, hateful, and arrogant being, than the Jewish god. He is without a redeeming feature. In the mythology of the world he has no parallel. He, only, is never touched by agony and tears. He delights only in blood and pain. Human affections are naught to him. He cares neither for love nor music, beauty nor joy. A false friend, an unjust judge, a braggart, hypocrite, and tyrant, sincere in hatred, jealous, vain, and revengeful, false in promise, honest in curse, suspicious, ignorant, and changeable, infamous and hideous: -- such is the God of the Pentateuch.
The probability is that the Hebrews never were in Egypt. In the Hebrew language there are no Egyptian words, and in the Egyptian no Hebrew. This proves that the Hebrews could not have mingled with the Egyptians for four hundred and thirty years. As a matter of fact, Moses is a myth. The enslavement of the Hebrews, the flight, the journey through the wilderness existed only in the imagination of ignorance.
It has been contended for many years that the Ten Commandments are the foundation of all ideas of justice and of law. Eminent jurists have bowed to popular prejudice, and deformed their works by statements to the effect that the Mosaic laws are the fountains from which sprang all ideas of right and wrong. Nothing can be more stupidly false than such assertions. Thousands of years before Moses was born, the Egyptians had a code of laws. They had laws against blasphemy, murder, adultery, larceny, perjury, laws for the collection of debts, the enforcement of contracts, the ascertainment of damages, the redemption of property pawned, and upon nearly every subject of human interest. The Egyptian code was far better than the Mosaic.
Laws spring from the instinct of self-preservation. Industry objected to supporting idleness, and laws were made against theft. Laws were made against murder, because a very large majority of the people have always objected to being murdered. All fundamental laws were born simply of the instinct of self-defence. Long before the Jewish savages assembled at the foot of Sinai, laws had been made and enforced, not only in Egypt and India, but by every tribe that ever existed.
It is impossible for human beings to exist together, without certain rules of conduct, certain ideas of the proper and improper, of the right and wrong, growing out of the relation. Certain rules must be made, and must be enforced. This implies law, trial and punishment. Whoever produces anything by weary labor, does not need a revelation from heaven to teach him that he has a right to the thing produced. Not one of the learned gentlemen who pretend that the Mosaic laws are filled with justice and intelligence, would live, for a moment, in any country where such laws were in force.
God or no God, larceny is the enemy of industry -- industry is the mother of prosperity -- prosperity is a good, and therefore larceny is an evil.
God or no God, murder is a crime.
There has always been a law against larceny, because the laborer wishes to enjoy the fruit of his toil.
As long as men object to being killed, murder will be illegal.
Nations, like individuals, defend and protect themselves. Nations, like individuals, have fears, have ideals, and live for the accomplishment of certain ends. Men defend their property because it is of value. Industry is the enemy of theft. Men, as a rule, desire to live, and for that reason murder is a crime. Fraud is hateful to the victim. The majority of mankind work and produce the necessities, the comforts, and the luxuries of life. They wish to retain the fruits of their labor. Government is one of the instrumentalities for the preservation of what man deems of value. This is the foundation of social order, and this holds society together.
Surely, the light of experience is enough to tell us that slavery is wrong, that polygamy is infamous, and that murder is not a virtue.
There is no world, no star, no heaven, no hell, in which gratitude is not a virtue and where slavery is not a crime.
Every virtuous deed is a star in the moral firmaments. There is in the moral world, as in the physical, the absolute and perfect relation of cause and effect. For this reason, the atonement becomes an impossibility. Others may suffer by your crime, but their suffering cannot discharge you; it simply increases your guilt and adds to your burden. For this reason happiness is not a reward -- it is a consequence. Suffering is not a punishment -- it is a result.
The civil law was produced without the assistance of God.
No one will object to the preaching of kindness, honesty and justice. To preach less is a crime, and to practice more is impossible.
Evil is not good because found in good company, and truth is still truth, even when surrounded by falsehood.
How can we do away with larceny? We cannot remove property. We cannot destroy the money of the world to keep people from stealing some of it. In other words, we cannot afford to make the world valueless to prevent larceny. All strength by which temptation is resisted must come from the inside. Virtue does not depend upon the obstacles to be overcome; virtue depends upon what is inside of the man. A man is not honest because the safe of the bank is perfectly secure. Upon the honest man the condition of the safe has no effect. We will never succeed in raising great and splendid people by keeping them out of temptation. Great people withstand temptation. Great people have what may be called moral muscle, moral force. They are poised within themselves. They understand their relations to the world. The best possible foundation for honesty is the intellectual perception that dishonesty can, under no circumstances, be a good investment -- that larceny is not only wicked, but foolish -- not only criminal, but stupid -- that crimes are committed only by fools.
You can prevent a man from stealing by tying his hands behind him, but you cannot make him honest.
To my mind it seems clear that you had better injure yourself than another. Better be a spendthrift than a thief. Better throw away your own money than steal the money of another -- better kill yourself if you wish to die than murder one whose life is full of joy.
Better be an honest bankrupt than a rich thief.
There is but one blasphemy, and that is injustice. There is but one worship, and that is justice!
You need not fear the anger of a god that you cannot injure. Rather fear to injure your fellow-men. Do not be afraid of a crime you cannot commit. Rather be afraid of the one that you may commit.
Many contend that without a belief in the existence of God, morality is impossible and that virtue would perish from the earth.
Right and wrong are not revelations from some supposed god, but have been discovered through the experience and intelligence of man. There is nothing miraculous or supernatural about morality. Neither has morality anything to do with another world, or with an infinite being. It applies to conduct here, and the effect of that conduct on ourselves and others determines its nature.
In this world people are obliged to supply their wants by labor. Industry is a necessity, and those who work are the natural enemies of those who steal.
It required no revelation from God to make larceny unpopular. Human beings naturally object to being injured, maimed, or killed, and so everywhere, and at all times, they have tried to protect themselves.
Men did not require a revelation from God to put in their minds the thought of self-preservation. To defend yourself when attacked is as natural as to eat when you are hungry.
According to the Catholic church, eating meat on Friday is a sin that deserves eternal punishment. And yet, in the nature of things, the consequences of eating meat on that day must be exactly the same as eating meat on any other. So, all the churches teach that unbelief is a crime, not in the nature of things, but by reason of the will of God.
Of course this is absurd and idiotic. If there be an infinite God he cannot make that wrong which in the nature of things is right. Neither can he make an action good the natural consequences of which are evil. Even an infinite God cannot change a fact.
... Man can only commit crimes against sentient beings who, to some extent at least, are within his power, and that a crime by a finite being against an infinite being is an infinite impossibility.
An infinite God could not make ingratitude a virtue any easier than he could make a square triangle.
... The foundations of the moral and the immoral are in the nature of things -- in the necessary relation between conduct and well-being, and an infinite God cannot change these foundations, and cannot increase or diminish the natural consequences of actions.
In this world there is neither chance nor caprice, neither magic nor miracle. Behind every event, every thought and dream, is the efficient, the natural and necessary cause.
The idea of right and wrong is born of man's capacity to enjoy and suffer. If man could not suffer, if he could not inflict injury upon his fellow, if he could neither feel nor inflict pain, the idea of right and wrong never would have entered his brain. But for this, the word conscience never would have passed the lips of man.
There is no recorded instance where the uplifted hand of murder has been paralyzed -- no truthful account in all the literature of the world of the innocent child being shielded by God. Thousands of crimes are being committed every day -- men are at this moment lying in wait for their human prey -- wives are whipped and crushed, driven to insanity and death -- little children begging for mercy, lifting imploring, tear-filled eyes to the brutal faces of fathers and mothers -- sweet girls are deceived, lured and outraged, but God has no time to prevent these things -- no time to defend the good and protect the pure. He is too busy numbering hairs and watching sparrows.
Shall we not become charitable and just, when we know that every act is but condition's fruit; that Nature, with her countless hands, scatters the seeds of tears and crimes -- of every virtue and of every joy; that all the base and vile are victims of the Blind, and that the good and great have, in the lottery of life, by chance or fate, drawn heart and brain?
They tell me that there never would have been any civilization if it had not been for this Bible. The Jews had a Bible; the Romans had not. Which had the greater and the grander government? Let us be honest. Which of those nations produced the greatest poets, the greatest soldiers, the greatest orators, the greatest statesmen, the greatest sculptors? Rome had no Bible. God cared nothing for the Roman Empire. He let the men come up by chance. His time was taken up with the Jewish people. And yet Rome conquered the world, including the chosen people of God. The people who had the Bible were defeated by the people who had not. How was it possible for Lucretius to get along without the Bible? -- how did the great and glorious of that empire? And what shall we say of Greece? No Bible. Compare Athens with Jerusalem. From Athens come the beauty and intellectual grace of the world. Compare the mythology of Greece with the mythology of Judea; one covering the earth with beauty, and the other filling heaven with hatred and injustice. The Hindoos had no Bible; they had been forsaken by the creator, and yet they became the greatest metaphysicians of the world. Egypt had no Bible. Compare Egypt with Judea. What are we to do without the Bible? What became of the Jews who had a Bible? Their temple was destroyed and their city was taken; and they never found real prosperity until their God deserted them.
The foundations of our civilization were laid centuries before Christianity was known. The intelligence of courage, of self-government, of energy, of industry, that uniting made the civilizations of this century, did not come alone from Judea, but from every nation of the ancient world.
It is contended by many that ours is a Christian government, founded upon the Bible, and that all who look upon the book as false or foolish are destroying the foundation of our country. The truth is, our government is not founded upon the rights of gods, but upon the rights of men. Our Constitution was framed, not to declare and uphold the deity of Christ, but the sacredness of humanity. Ours is the first government made by the people and for the people. It is the only nation with which the gods have had nothing to do. And yet there are some judges dishonest and cowardly enough to solemnly decide that this is a Christian country, and that our free institutions are based upon the infamous laws of Jehovah.
Our civilization is not Christian. It does not come from the skies. It is not a result of "inspiration." It is the child of invention, of discovery, of applied knowledge -- that is to say, of science. When man becomes great and grand enough to admit that all have equal rights; when thought is untrammeled; when worship shall consist in doing useful things; when religion means the discharge of obligations to our fellow-men, then, and not until then, will the world be civilized.
The probability is that no God has cursed, and that no God will bless, this earth. Man suffers and enjoys according to conditions. The sun shines without love, and the lightning blasts without hate. Man is the providence of man.
And here, let me say once for all, that when I speak of God, I mean the being described by Moses; the Jehovah of the Jews. There may be for aught I know, somewhere in the unknown shoreless vast, some being whose dreams are constellations and within whose thought the infinite exists. About this being, if such an one exists, I have nothing to say. He has written no books, inspired no barbarians, required no worship, and has prepared no hell in which to burn the honest seeker after truth.
When I speak of God, I mean that god who prevented man from putting forth his hand and taking also of the fruit of the tree of life that he might live forever; of that god who multiplied the agonies of woman, increased the weary toil of man, and in his anger drowned a world -- of that god whose altars reeked with human blood, who butchered babes, violated maidens, enslaved men and filled the earth with cruelty and crime; of that god who made heaven for the few, hell for the many, and who will gloat forever and ever upon the writhings of the lost and damned.
The truth is that Moses regarded the firmament as a solid affair. It was where God lived, and where water was kept. It was for this reason that they used to pray for rain. They supposed that some angel could with a lever raise a gate and let out the quantity of moisture desired.
In no other way could he account for rain. Where did the water come from? He knew nothing about the laws of evaporation. He did not know that the sun wooed with amorous kisses the waves of the sea, and that they, clad in glorified mist rising to meet their lover, were, by disappointment, changed to tears and fell as rain.
I might be damned, but I never can believe that the earth was covered with leaves, and buds, and flowers, and fruits before the sun with glittering spear had driven back the hosts of the Night.
When a professor in a college finds a fact, he should make it known, even if it is inconsistent with something Moses said.
Science has nothing in common with religion. Facts and miracles never did, and never will agree. They are not in the least related. They are deadly foes. What has religion to do with facts? Nothing. Can there be Methodist mathematics, Catholic astronomy, Presbyterian geology, Baptist biology, or Episcopal botany? Why, then, should a sectarian college exist? Only that which somebody knows should be taught in our schools. We should not collect taxes to pay people for guessing. The common school is the bread of life for the people, and it should not be touched by the withering hand of superstition.
Unless the Lord God was looking for an helpmeet for Adam, why did he cause the animals to pass before him? And why did he, after the menagerie had passed by, apathetically exclaim, "But for Adam there was not found an helpmeet for him"?
It seems that Adam saw nothing that struck his fancy. The fairest ape, the sprightliest chimpanzee, the loveliest baboon, the most bewitching orangoutang, the most fascinating gorilla failed to touch with love's sweet pain, poor Adam's lonely heart. Let us rejoice that this was so. Had he fallen in love then, there never would have been a Freethinker in this world.
Imagine the Lord God with a bone in his hand with which to start a woman, trying to make up his mind whether to make a blonde or a brunette!
Is it possible that anyone now believes that the whole world would be of one speech had the language not been confounded at Babel? Do we not know that every word was suggested in some way by the experience of men? Do we not know that words are continually dying, and continually being born; that every language has its cradle and its cemetery -- its buds, its blossoms, its fruits and its withered leaves? Man has loved, enjoyed, hated, suffered and hoped and all words have been born of these experiences.
Why should a woman ask pardon of God for having been a mother? Why should that be considered a crime in Exodus, which is commanded as a duty in Genesis? Why should a mother be declared unclean? Why should giving birth to a daughter be regarded twice as criminal as giving birth to a son? Can we believe that such laws and ceremonies were made and instituted by a merciful and intelligent God? If there is anything in this poor world suggestive of, and standing for, all that is sweet, loving and pure, it is a mother holding in her thrilled and happy arms her prattling babe.
Of all the superstitions of mankind, this insanity about the "sacred Sabbath" is the most absurd.
Nature works on that "sacred" day. The earth turns, the rivers run, the trees grow, buds burst into flower, and birds fill the air with song. Why should we look sad, and think about death, and hear about hell? Why should that day be filled with gloom instead of joy?
The "Sabbath" was born of asceticism, hatred of human joy, fanaticism, ignorance, egotism of priests and the cowardice of the people. This day, for thousands of years, has been dedicated to superstition, to the dissemination of mistakes, and the establishment of falsehoods. Every Freethinker, as a matter of duty, should violate this day. He should assert his independence, and do all within his power to wrest the Sabbath from the gloomy church and give it back to liberty and joy. Freethinkers should make the Sabbath a day of mirth and music, a day to spend with wife and child -- a day of games, and books, and dreams -- a day to put fresh flowers above our sleeping dead -- a day of memory and hope, of love and rest.
The holiest day is the happiest day.
Nothing can be more inconsistent than the theories and practice of the churches about the Sabbath. The cars run Sundays, and out of the profits hundreds of ministers are supported. The great iron and steel works fill with smoke and fire the Sabbath air, and the proprietors divide the profits with the churches. The printers of the city are busy Sunday afternoons and evenings, and the presses during the nights, so that the sermons of Sunday can reach the heathen on Monday. The servants of the rich are denied the privileges of the sanctuary. The coachman sits on the box out-doors, while his employer kneels in church preparing himself for the heavenly chariot. The iceman goes about on the holy day, keeping believers cool, they knowing at the same time that he is making it hot for himself in the world to come. Christians cross the Atlantic, knowing that the ship will pursue its way on the Sabbath. They write letters to their friends knowing that they will be carried in violation of Jehovah's law, by wicked men. Yet they hate to see a pale-faced sewing girl enjoying a few hours by the sea; a poor mechanic walking in the fields; or a tired mother watching her children playing on the grass. Nothing ever was, nothing ever will be, more utterly absurd and disgusting than a Puritan Sunday. Nothing ever did make a home more hateful than the strict observance of the Sabbath. It fills the house with hypocrisy and the meanest kind of petty tyranny. The parents look sour and stern, the children sad and sulky. They are compelled to talk upon subjects about which they feel no interest, or to read books that are thought good only because they are stupid.
No day is too short for justice, and eternity is not long enough to commit a wrong.
The Supreme Court of Illinois has just made a good decision. That Court decided that a contract made on Sunday can be enforced. In other words, that Sunday is not holy enough to sanctify fraud.
Let us throw away these superstitions and take the higher, nobler ground, that every day should be rendered sacred by some loving act, by increasing the happiness of man, giving birth to noble thoughts, putting in the path of toil some flower of joy, helping the unfortunate, lifting the fallen, dispelling gloom, destroying prejudice, defending the helpless and filling homes with light and love.
If I were to make a calendar of sacred days, I would put down the days in which the greatest inventions came to the mind of genius; the days when scattered tribes became nations; the days when good laws were passed; the days when bad ones were repealed; the days when kings were dethroned, and the people given their own; in other words, every day in which good has been done; in which men and women have truly fallen in love, days in which babes were born destined to change the civilization of the world. These are all sacred days; days in which men have fought for the right, suffered for the right, died for the right; all days in which there were heroic actions for good. The day when slavery was abolished in the United States is holier than any Sabbath....
Can we believe ... (slavery) was inspired by God? that God approved not only of human slavery, but instructed his chosen people to buy the women, children and babes of the heathen round about them? If it was right for the Hebrews to buy, it was also right for the heathen to sell. This God, by commanding the Hebrews to buy, approved of the selling of sons and daughters. The Canaanite who, tempted by gold, lured by avarice, sold from the arms of his wife the dimpled babe, simply made it possible for the Hebrews to obey the orders of their God. If God is the author of the Bible, the reading of these passages ought to cover his cheeks with shame. I ask the Christian world to-day, was it right for the heathen to sell their children? Was it right for God not only to uphold, but to command the infamous traffic in human flesh? Could the most revengeful fiend, the most malicious vagrant in the gloom of hell, sink to a lower moral depth than this?
Must we believe that God called some of his children the money of others? Can we believe that God made lashes upon the naked back, a legal tender for labor performed? Must we regard the auction block as an altar? Were blood hounds apostles? Was the slave-pen a temple? Were the stealers and whippers of babes and women the justified children of God?
It is now contended that while the Old Testament is touched with the barbarism of its time, that the New Testament is morally perfect, and that on its pages can be found no blot or stain. As a matter of fact, the New Testament is more decidedly in favor of human slavery than the Old.
For my part, I never will, I never can, worship a God who upholds the institution of slavery. Such a God I hate and defy. I neither want his heaven, nor fear his hell.
We are told in the Pentateuch, that God, the father of us all, gave thousands of maidens, after having killed their fathers, their mothers, and their brothers, to satisfy the brutal lusts of savage men. If there be a God, I pray him to write in his book, opposite my name, that I denied this lie for him.
This is the religious liberty of God; the toleration of Jehovah. If I had lived in Palestine at that time, and my wife, the mother of my children, had said to me, "I am tired of Jehovah, he is always asking for blood; he is never weary of killing; he is always telling of his might and strength; always telling what he has done for the Jews, always asking for sacrifices; for doves and lambs -- blood, nothing but blood. -- Let us worship the sun. Jehovah is too revengeful, too malignant, too exacting. Let us worship the sun. The sun has clothed the world in beauty; it has covered the earth with flowers; by its divine light I first saw your face, and my beautiful babe." -- If I had obeyed the command of God, I would have killed her. My hand would have been first upon her, and after that the hands of all the people, and she would have been stoned with stones until she died. For my part, I would never kill my wife, even if commanded so to do by the real God of this universe. Think of taking up some ragged rock and hurling it against the white bosom filled with love for you; and when you saw oozing from the bruised lips of the death wound, the red current of her sweet life -- think of looking up to heaven and receiving the congratulations of the infinite fiend whose commandment you had obeyed!
If the Jehovah of the Jews had taken upon himself flesh, and dwelt as a man among the people he endeavored to govern, had he followed his own teachings, he would have been a slaveholder, a buyer of babes, and a beater of women He would have waged wars of extermination. He would have killed gray-haired and trembling age, and would have sheathed his sword, in prattling, dimpled babes. He would have been a polygamist, and would have butchered his wife for differing with him on the subject of religion.
If Jehovah was in fact God, he knew the end from the beginning. He knew that his Bible would be a breastwork behind which tyranny and hypocrisy would crouch; that it would be quoted by tyrants; that it would be the defence of robbers called kings, and of hypocrites called priests. He knew that he had taught the Jewish people but little of importance. He knew that he found them free and left them captives. He knew that he had never fulfilled the promises made to them. He knew that while other nations had advanced in art and science, his chosen people were savage still. He promised them the world, and gave them a desert. He promised them liberty, and he made them slaves. He promised them victory, and he gave them defeat. He said they should be kings, and he made them serfs. He promised them universal empire, and gave them exile. When one finishes the Old Testament, he is compelled to say: Nothing can add to the misery of a nation whose king is Jehovah!
There is no description of any women in the Bible that equal thousands and thousands of women known to-day. They will not compare with the women born of Shakespeare's brain. You will find none like Isabella, in whose spotless life, love and reason blended into perfect truth; nor Juliet, within whose heart passion and purity met, like white and red within the bosom of a rose; nor Cordelia, who chose to suffer loss rather than show her wealth of love with those who gilded dross with golden words in hope of gain; nor Miranda, who told her love as freely as a flower gives its bosom to the kisses of the sun; nor Imogene, who asked: "What is it to be false?" nor Hermione, who bore with perfect faith and hope the cross of shame, and who at last forgave with all her heart; nor Desdemona, her innocence so perfect and her love so pure, that she was incapable of suspecting that another could suspect, and sought with dying words to hide her lover's crime.
If we want to find what the influence of the Bible has been, we must ascertain the condition of Europe when the Bible was considered as absolutely true, and when it wielded its greatest influence.
Christianity as a form of religion had actual possession of Europe during the Middle Ages. At that time, it exerted its greatest power. Then it had the opportunity of breaking the shackles from the limbs of woman. Christianity found the Roman matron a free woman. Polygamy was never known in Rome; and although divorces were allowed by law, the Roman state had been founded for more than five hundred years before either a husband or a wife asked for a divorce. From the foundation of Christianity, -- I mean from the time it became the force in the Roman state, -- woman, as such, went down in the scale of civilization. The sceptre was taken from her hands, and she became once more the slave and serf of man. The men also were made slaves, and woman has regained her liberty by the same means that man has regained his, -- by wresting authority from the hands of the church. While the church had power, the wife and mother was not considered as good as the begging nun; the husband and father was far below the vermin-covered monk; homes were of no value compared with the cathedral; for God had to have a house, no matter how many of his children were wanderers. During all the years in which woman has struggled for equal liberty with man, she has been met with the Bible doctrine that she is the inferior of the man; that Adam was made first, and Eve afterwards; that man was not made for woman, but that woman was made for man.
As a matter of fact, men have risen from a perusal of the Bible, and murdered their wives. They have risen from reading its pages, and inflicted cruel and even mortal blows upon their children. Men have risen from reading the Bible and torn the flesh of others with red-hot pincers. They have laid down the sacred volume long enough to pour molten lead into the ears of others. They have stopped reading the sacred Scriptures for a sufficient time to incarcerate their fellow-men, to load them with chains, and then they have gone back to their reading, allowing their victims to die in darkness and despair. Men have stopped reading the Old Testament long enough to drive a stake into the ground and collect a few fagots and burn an honest man. Even ministers have denied themselves the privilege of reading the sacred book long enough to tell falsehoods about their fellow-men. There is no crime that Bible readers and Bible believers and Bible worshipers and Bible defenders have not committed. There is no meanness of which some Bible reader, believer, and defender, has not been guilty. Bible believers and Bible defenders have filled the world with calumnies and slanders. Bible believers and Bible defenders have not only whipped their wives, but they have murdered them; they have murdered their children. I do not say that reading the Bible will necessarily make men dishonest, but I do say, that reading the Bible will not prevent their committing crimes. I do not say that believing the Bible will necessarily make men commit burglary, but I do say that a belief in the Bible has caused men to persecute each other, to imprison each other, and to burn each other.
Only a little while ago, a British clergyman murdered his wife. Only a little while ago, an American Protestant clergyman whipped his boy to death because the boy refused to say a prayer.
The assassin of Henry the Fourth was a Bible reader and a Bible believer. The instigators of the massacre of St. Bartholomew were believers in your sacred Scriptures. The men who invested their money in the slave-trade believed themselves filled with the Holy Ghost, and read with rapture the Psalms of David and the Sermon on the Mount. The murderers of Scottish Presbyterians were believers in revelation, and the Presbyterians, when they murdered others, were also believers. Nearly every man who expiates a crime upon the gallows is a believer in the Bible. For a thousand years, the daggers of assassination and the swords of war were blest by priests -- by the believers in the sacred Scriptures. The assassin of President Garfield is a believer in the Bible, a hater of infidelity, a believer in personal inspiration, and he expects in a few weeks to join the winged and redeemed in heaven.
If a man would follow, to-day, the teachings of the Old Testament, he would be a criminal. If he would follow strictly the teachings of the New, he would be insane.
These stories of Abraham and Jephthah have cost many an innocent life. Only a few years ago, here in my country, a man by the name of Freeman, believing that God demanded at least the show of obedience -- believing what he had read in the Old Testament that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission," and so believing, touched with insanity, sacrificed his little girl -- plunged into her innocent breast the dagger, believing it to be God's will, and thinking that if it were not God's will his hand would be stayed.
I know of nothing more pathetic than the story of this crime told by this man.
Nothing can be more monstrous than the conception of a God who demands sacrifice -- of a God who would ask of a father that he murder his son -- of a father that he would burn his daughter. It is far beyond my comprehension how any man ever could have believed such an infinite, such a cruel absurdity.
At the command of the real God -- if there be one -- I would not sacrifice my child, I would not murder my wife. But as long as there are people in the world whose minds are so that they can believe the stories of Abraham and Jephthah, just so long there will be men who will take the lives of the ones they love best.
The Prophecies of the Old Testament can be made to fit anything that may happen, or that may not happen. They will apply to the death of a king, or to the destruction of a people, -- to the loss of commerce, or the discovery of a continent. Each prophecy is a jugglery of words, of figures, of symbols, so put together, so used, so interpreted, that they can mean anything, everything, or nothing.
I admit that some things have happened somewhat hard to explain, and tending to show that the Bible is no ordinary book. I heard a story, not long ago, bearing upon this very subject.
A man was a member of the church, but after a time, having had bad luck in business affairs, became somewhat discouraged. Not feeling able to contribute his share to the support of the church, he ceased going to meeting, and finally became an average sinner. His bad luck pursued him until he found himself and his family without even a crust to eat. At this point, his wife told him that she believed they were suffering from a visitation of God, and begged him to restore family worship, and see if God would not do something for them. Feeling that he could not possibly make matters worse, he took the Bible from its resting place on a shelf where it had quietly slumbered and collected the dust of many months, and gathered his family about him. He opened the sacred volume, and to his utter astonishment, there, between the divine leaves, was a ten-dollar bill. He immediately dropped on his knees. His wife dropped on hers, and the children on theirs, and with streaming eyes they returned thanks to God. He rushed to the butcher's and bought some steak, to the baker's and bought some bread, to the grocer's and got some eggs and butter and tea, and joyfully hastened home. The supper was cooked, it was on the table, grace was said, and every face was radiant with joy. Just at that happy moment a knock was heard, the door was opened, and a policeman entered and arrested the father for passing counterfeit money.
Thousands and thousands of mothers have presented their sons with Bibles without knowing really what the book contains. They simply followed the custom, and the sons as a rule honored the Bible, not because they knew anything of it, but because it was a gift from mother. But surely, if all the passages upholding polygamy were out, the mother would give the book to her son just as readily, and he would receive it just as joyfully. If there were not one word in it tending to degrade the mother, the gift would certainly be as appropriate.
The fact that mothers have presented Bibles to their sons does not prove that the book is inspired. The most that can be proved by this fact is that the mothers believed it to be inspired. It does not even tend to show what the book is, neither does it tend to establish the truth of one miracle recorded upon its pages. We cannot believe that fire refused to burn, simply because the statement happens to be in a book presented to a son by his mother, and if all the mothers of the entire world should give Bibles to all their children, this would not prove that it was once right to murder mothers, or to enslave mothers, or to sell their babes.
The inspiration of the Bible is not a question of natural affection. It cannot be decided by the love a mother bears her son. It is a question of fact, to be substantiated like other facts. If the Turkish mother should give a copy of the Koran to her son, I would still have my doubts about the inspiration of that book; and if some Turkish soldier saved his life by having in his pocket a copy of the Koran that accidentally stopped a bullet just opposite his heart, I should still deny that Mohammed was a prophet of God.
Nothing can be more childish than to ascribe mysterious powers to inanimate objects. To imagine that old rags made into pulp, manufactured into paper, covered with words, and bound with the skin of a calf or a sheep, can have any virtues when thus put together that did not belong to the articles out of which the book was constructed, is of course infinitely absurd.
In the days of slavery, Negroes used to buy dried roots of other Negroes, and put these roots in their pockets, so that a whipping would not give them pain. Kings have bought diamonds to give them luck. Crosses and scapularies are still worn for the purpose of affecting the inevitable march of events. People still imagine that a verse in the Bible can step in between a cause and its effect; really believe that an amulet, a charm, the bone of some saint, a piece of a cross, a little image of the Virgin, a picture of a priest, will affect the weather, will delay frost, will prevent disease, will insure safety at sea, and in some cases prevent hanging. The banditti of Italy have great confidence in these things, and whenever they start upon an expedition of theft and plunder, they take images and pictures of saints with them, such as have been blest by a priest or pope. They pray sincerely to the Virgin, to give them luck, and see not the slightest inconsistency in appealing to all the saints in the calendar to assist them in robbing honest people.
Edmund Abôut tells a story that illustrates the belief of the modern Italian. A young man was gambling. Fortune was against him. In the room was a little picture representing the Virgin and her child. Before this picture he crossed himself, and asked the assistance of the child. Again he put down his money and again lost. Returning to the picture, he told the child that he had lost all but one piece, that he was about to hazard that, and made a very urgent request that he would favor him with divine assistance. He put down the last piece. He lost. Going to the picture and shaking his fist at the child, he cried out: "Miserable bambino, I am glad they crucified you!"
The confidence that one has in an image, in a relic, in a book, comes from the same source, -- fetishism. To ascribe supernatural virtues to the skin of a snake, to a picture, or to a bound volume, is intellectually the same.
All that is necessary, as it seems to me, to convince any reasonable person that the Bible is simply and purely of human invention -- of barbarian invention -- is to read it. Read it as you would any other book; think of it as you would of any other; get the bandage of reverence from your eyes; drive from your heart the phantom of fear; push from the throne of your brain the cowled form of superstition -- then read the Holy Bible, and you will be amazed that you ever, for one moment, supposed a being of infinite wisdom, goodness and purity, to be the author of such ignorance and of such atrocity.
In nearly all the theologies, mythologies and religions, the devils have been much more humane and merciful than the gods. No devil ever gave one of his generals an order to kill children and to rip open the bodies of pregnant women. Such barbarities were always ordered by the good gods. The pestilences were sent by the most merciful gods. The frightful famine, during which the dying child with pallid lips sucked the withered bosom of a dead mother, was sent by the loving gods. No devil was ever charged with such fiendish brutality.
One of these gods, according to the account, drowned an entire world, with the exception of eight persons. The old, the young, the beautiful and the helpless were remorsely devoured by the shoreless sea. This, the most fearful tragedy that the imagination of ignorant priests ever conceived, was the act, not of a devil, but of a god, so-called, whom men ignorantly worship unto this day. What a stain such an act would leave upon the character of a devil!
No man of intelligence, no one whose brain has not been poisoned by superstition, paralyzed by fear, can read the Old Testament without being forced to the conclusion that our God was a wild beast.
If we must have a god, let him be merciful. Let us remember that "the quality of mercy is not strained." Let us remember that when the sword of Justice becomes a staff to support the weak, it bursts into blossom, and that the perfume of that flower is the only incense, the only offering, the only sacrifice that mercy will accept.
The intellectual advancement of man depends upon how often he can exchange an old superstition for a new truth.
Who can over estimate the progress of the world if all the money wasted in superstition could be used to enlighten, elevate and civilize mankind?
How long, O how long will mankind worship a book? How long will they grovel in the dust before the ignorant legends of the barbaric past? How long, O how long will they pursue phantoms in a darkness deeper than death?
How long, O how long will man listen to the threats of God, and shut his eyes to the splendid possibilities of Nature? How long, O how long will man remain the cringing slave of a false and cruel creed?
How touching when the learned and wise crawl back in cribs and ask to hear the rhymes and fables once again! How charming in these hard and scientific times to see old age in Superstition's lap, with eager lips upon her withered breast!
By this time the whole world
should know that the real Bible has not yet been written, but is being
written, and that it will never be finished until the race begins its downward
march, or ceases to exist.