Some Mistakes of Moses (Continued)

The God of Moses was a God with hands, with feet, with the organs of speech. A God of passion, of hatred, of revenge, of affection, of repentance; a God who made mistakes:—in other words, an immense and powerful man.
Note: as before, the following is an excerpt chosen by my friend Julian Haydon from an 84 page paper written in 1879 by Robert Ingersoll. Says Haydon, "There were some Christians who were beginning to reject a talking serpent in favor of allegorical explanations; but there were millions who regarded every word in the Bible as holy fact. Ingersoll was contending with the latter. His tactic is to recount the story as told; drive home the clear meaning; allow the impossibilities and contradictions to speak for themselves; and draw stinging conclusions."



We are next informed by the author of the Pentateuch that God said "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness," and that "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him—male and female created he them."

If this account means anything, it means that man was created in the physical image and likeness of God. Moses while he speaks of man as having been made in the image of God, never speaks of God except as having the form of a man. He speaks of God as "walking in the garden in the cool of the day;" and that Adam and Eve "heard his voice."

He is constantly telling what God said, and in a thousand passages he refers to him as not only having the human form, but as performing actions, such as man performs. The God of Moses was a God with hands, with feet, with the organs of speech.

A God of passion, of hatred, of revenge, of affection, of repentance; a God who made mistakes:—in other words, an immense and powerful man.

It will not do to say that Moses meant to convey the idea that God made man in his mental or moral image. Some have insisted that man was made in the moral image of God because he was made pure. Purity cannot be manufactured. A moral character cannot be made for man by a god. Every man must make his own moral character. Consequently, if God is infinitely pure, Adam and Eve were not made in his image in that respect. Others say that Adam and Eve were made in the mental image of God. If it is meant by that, that they were created with reasoning powers like, but not to the extent of those possessed by a god, then this may be admitted.

But certainly this idea was not in the mind of Moses. He regarded the human form as being in the image of God, and for that reason always spoke of God as having that form. No one can read the Pentateuch without coming to the conclusion that the author supposed that man was created in the physical likeness of Deity. God said "Go to, let us go down." "God smelled a sweet savor;" "God repented him that he had made man;" "and God said;" and "walked;" and "talked;" and "rested." All these expressions are inconsistent with any other idea than that the person using them regarded God as having the form of man.

As a matter of fact, it is impossible for a man to conceive of a personal God, other than as a being having the human form. No one can think of an infinite being having the form of a horse, or of a bird, or of any animal beneath man. It is one of the necessities of the mind to associate forms with intellectual capacities. The highest form of which we have any conception is man's, and consequently, his is the only form that we can find in imagination to give to a personal God, because all other forms are, in our minds, connected with lower intelligences.

It is impossible to think of a personal God as a spirit without form. We can use these words, but they do not convey to the mind any real and tangible meaning. Every one who thinks of a personal God at all, thinks of him as having the human form. Take from God the idea of form; speak of him simply as an all pervading spirit—which means an all pervading something about which we know nothing—and Pantheism is the result.

We are told that God made man; and the question naturally arises, how was this done? Was it by a process of "evolution," "development;" the "transmission of acquired habits;" the "survival of the fittest," or was the necessary amount of clay kneaded to the proper consistency, and then by the hands of God moulded into form? Modern science tells that man has been evolved, through countless epochs, from the lower forms; that he is the result of almost an infinite number of actions, reactions, experiences, states, forms, wants and adaptations.

Did Moses intend to convey such a meaning, or did he believe that God took a sufficient amount of dust, made it the proper shape, and breathed into it the breath of life? Can any believer in the Bible give any reasonable account of this process of creation? Is it possible to imagine what was really done? Is there any theologian who will contend that man was created directly from the earth? Will he say that man was made substantially as he now is, with all his muscles properly developed for walking and speaking, and performing every variety of human action? That all his bones were formed as they now are, and all the relations of nerve, ligament, brain and motion as they are to-day?

Looking back over the history of animal life from the lowest to the highest forms, we find that there has been a slow and gradual development; a certain but constant relation between want and production; between use and form.

The Moner is said to be the simplest form of animal life that has yet been found. It has been described as "an organism without organs." It is a kind of structureless structure; a little mass of transparent jelly that can flatten itself out, and can expand and contract around its food. It can feed without a mouth, digest without a stomach, walk without feet, and reproduce itself by simple division. By taking this Moner as the commencement of animal life, or rather as the first animal, it is easy to follow the development of the organic structure through all the forms of life to man himself. In this way finally every muscle, bone and joint, every organ, form and function may be accounted for. In this way, and in this way only, can the existence of rudimentary organs be explained. Blot from the human mind the ideas of evolution, heredity, adaptation, and "the survival of the fittest," with which it has been enriched by Lamarck, Goethe, Darwin, Haeckel and Spencer, and all the facts in the history of animal life become utterly disconnected and meaningless.

Shall we throw away all that has been discovered with regard to organic life, and in its place take the statements of one who lived in the rude morning of a barbaric day? Will anybody now contend that man was a direct and independent creation, and sustains and bears no relation to the animals below him? Belief upon this subject must be governed at last by evidence. Man cannot believe as he pleases. He can control his speech, and can say that he believes or disbelieves; but after all, his will cannot depress or raise the scales with which his reason finds the worth and weight of facts. If this is not so, investigation, evidence, judgment and reason are but empty words.

I ask again, how were Adam and Eve created? In one account they are created male and female, and apparently at the same time. In the next account, Adam is made first, and Eve a long time afterwards, and from a part of the man. Did God simply by his creative fiat cause a rib slowly to expand, grow and divide into nerve, ligament, cartilage and flesh? How was the woman created from a rib? How was man created simply from dust? For my part, I cannot believe this statement.

I may suffer for this in the world to come; and may, millions of years hence, sincerely wish that I had never investigated the subject, but had been content to take the ideas of the dead. I do not believe that any deity works in that way. So far as my experience goes, there is an unbroken procession of cause and effect. Each thing is a necessary link in an infinite chain; and I cannot conceive of this chain being broken even for one instant. Back of the simplest moner there is a cause, and back of that another, and so on, it seems to me, forever. In my philosophy I postulate neither beginning nor ending.

If the Mosaic account is true, we know how long man has been upon this earth. If that account can be relied on, the first man was made about five thousand eight hundred and eighty-three years ago. Sixteen hundred and fifty-six years after the making of the first man, the inhabitants of the world, with the exception of eight people, were destroyed by a flood. This flood occurred only about four thousand two hundred and twenty-seven years ago. If this account is correct, at that time, only one kind of men existed. Noah and his family were certainly of the same blood. It therefore follows that all the differences we see between the various races of men have been caused in about four thousand years.

If the account of the deluge is true, then since that event all the ancient kingdoms of the earth were founded, and their inhabitants passed through all the stages of savage, nomadic, barbaric and semi-civilized life; through the epochs of Stone, Bronze and Iron; established commerce, cultivated the arts, built cities, filled them with palaces and temples, invented writing, produced a literature and slowly fell to shapeless ruin. We must believe that all this has happened within a period of four thousand years.

From representations found upon Egyptian granite made more than three thousand years ago, we know that the negro was as black, his lips as full, and his hair as closely curled then as now. If we know anything, we know that there was at that time substantially the same difference between the Egyptian and the Negro as now. If we know anything, we know that magnificent statues were made in Egypt four thousand years before our era—that is to say, about six thousand years ago. There was at the World's Exposition, in the Egyptian department, a statue of king Cephren, known to have been chiseled more than six thousand years ago. In other words, if the Mosaic account must be believed, this statue was made before the world. We also know, if we know anything, that men lived in v Europe with the hairy mammoth, the cave bear, the rhinoceros, and the hyena. Among the bones of these animals have been found the stone hatchets and flint arrows of our ancestors. In the caves where they lived have been discovered the remains of these animals that had been conquered, killed and devoured as food, hundreds of thousands of years ago.

If these facts are true, Moses was mistaken. For my part, I have infinitely more confidence in the discoveries of to-day, than in the records of a barbarous people. It will not now do to say that man has existed upon this earth for only about six thousand years.

One can hardly compute in his imagination the time necessary for man to emerge from the barbarous state, naked and helpless, surrounded by animals far more powerful than he, to progress and finally create the civilizations of India, Egypt and Athens. The distance from savagery to Shakespeare must be measured not by hundreds, but by millions of years.

"And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made."

The great work had been accomplished, the world, the sun, and moon, and all the hosts of heaven were finished; the earth was clothed in green, the seas were filled with life, the cattle wandered by the brooks—insects with painted wings were in the happy air, Adam and Eve were making each others acquaintance, and God was resting from his work. He was contemplating the accomplishments of a week.

Because he rested on that day he sanctified it, and for that reason and for that alone, it was by the Jews considered a holy day. If he only rested on that day, there ought to be some account of what he did the following Monday. Did he rest on that day? What did he do after he got rested? Has he done anything in the way of creation since Saturday evening of the first week?

It is now claimed by the "scientific" Christians that the "days" of creation were not ordinary days of twenty-four hours each, but immensely long periods of time. If they are right, then how long was the seventh day? Was that, too, a geologic period covering thousands of ages? That cannot be, because Adam and Eve were created the Saturday evening before, and according to the Bible that was about five thousand eight hundred and eighty-three years ago. I cannot state the time exactly, because there have been as many as one hundred and forty different opinions given by learned Biblical students as to the time between the creation of the world and the birth of Christ. We are quite certain, however, that, according to the Bible, it is not more than six thousand years since the creation of Adam. From this it would appear that the seventh day was not a geologic epoch, but was in fact a period of less than six thousand years, and probably of only twenty-four hours.

The theologians who "answer" these things may take their choice. If they take the ground that the "days" were periods of twenty-four hours, then geology will force them to throw away the whole account. If, on the other hand, they admit that the days were vast "periods," then the sacredness of the Sabbath must be given up.

There is found in the Bible no intimation that there was the least difference in the days. They are all spoken of in the same way. It may be replied that our translation is incorrect. If this is so, then only those who understand Hebrew, have had a revelation from God, and all the rest have been deceived.

How is it possible to sanctify a space of time? Is rest holier than labor? If there is any difference between days, ought not that to be considered best in which the most useful labor has been performed?

Of all the superstitions of mankind, this insanity about the "sacred Sabbath" is the most absurd. The idea of feeling it a duty to be solemn and sad one-seventh of the time! To think that we can please an infinite being by staying in some dark and sombre room, instead of walking in the perfumed fields! Why should God hate to see a man happy? Why should it excite his wrath to see a family in the woods, by some babbling stream, talking, laughing and loving? 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?

A poor mechanic, working all the week in dust and noise, needs a day of rest and joy, a day to visit stream and wood—a day to live with wife and child; a day in which to laugh at care, and gather hope and strength for toils to come. And his weary wife needs a breath of sunny air, away from street and wall, amid the hills or by the margin of the sea, where she can sit and prattle with her babe, and fill with happy dreams the long, glad day.

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.

Why should we in this age of the world be dominated by the dead? Why should barbarian Jews who went down to death and dust three thousand years ago, control the living world? Why should we care for the superstition of men who began the Sabbath by paring their nails, "beginning at the fourth finger, then going to the second, then to the fifth, then to the third, and ending with the thumb?" How pleasing to God this must have been.

The Jews were very careful of these nail parings. They who threw them upon the ground were wicked, because Satan used them to work evil upon the earth. They believed that upon the Sabbath, souls were allowed to leave purgatory and cool their burning souls in water. Fires were neither allowed to be kindled nor extinguished, and upon that day it was a sin to bind up wounds. "The lame might use a staff, but the blind could not."

So strict was the Sabbath kept, that at one time "if a Jew on a journey was overtaken by the 'sacred day' in a wood, or on the highway, no matter where, nor under what circumstances, he must sit down," and there remain until the day was gone. "If he fell down in the dirt, there he was compelled to stay until the day was done."

For violating the Sabbath, the punishment was death, for nothing short of the offender's blood could satisfy the wrath of God. There are, in the Old Testament, two reasons given for abstaining from labor on the Sabbath:—the resting of God, and the redemption of the Jews from the bondage of Egypt.

Since the establishment of the Christian religion, the day has been changed, and Christians do not regard the day as holy upon which God actually rested, and which he sanctified. The Christian Sabbath, or the "Lord's day" was legally established by the murderer Constantine, because upon that day Christ was supposed to have risen from the dead.

It is not easy to see where Christians got the right to disregard the direct command of God, to labor on the day he sanctified, and keep as sacred, a day upon which he commanded men to labor. The Sabbath of God is Saturday, and if any day is to be kept holy, that is the one, and not the Sunday of the Christian.

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.