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Let us account for all we see by the facts we know. If there are things for which we cannot account, let us wait for light. To account for anything by supernatural agencies is, in fact to say that we do not know. Theology is not what we know about God, but what we do not know about Nature. In order to increase our respect for the bible, it became necessary for the priests to exalt and extol that book, and at the same time to decry and belittle the reasoning powers of man. The whole power of the pulpit has been used for hundreds of years to destroy the confidence of man in himself—to induce him to distrust his own powers of thought, to believe that he was wholly unable to decide any question for himself, and that all human virtue consists in faith and obedience. The Church has said, "Believe, and obey! If you reason, you will become an unbeliever, and unbelievers will be lost. If you disobey, you will do so through vain pride and curiosity, and will, like Adam and Eve, be thrust from paradise forever!"

For my part, I care nothing for what the Church says, except in so far as it accords with my reason; and the bible is nothing to me, only in so far as it agrees with what I think or know.

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All books should be examined in the same spirit, and truth should be welcomed and falsehood exposed, no matter in what volume they may be found.

Let us in this spirit examine the Peutateuch; and if anything appears unreasonable, contradictory or absurd, let us have the honesty and courage to admit it. Certainly no good can result either from deceiving ourselves or others. Many millions have implicitly believed this book,, and have just as implicitly believed that polygamy was sanctioned by God. Millions have regarded this book as the foundation of all human progress, and at the same time looked upon slavery as a divine institution. Millions have declared this book to have been infinitely holy, and to prove that they were right, have imprisoned, robbed and burned their fellow men. The inspiration of this book has been established by famine, sword and fire, by dungeon, chain and whip, by dagger and by rack, by force and fear and fraud, and generations have been bribed by threats of hell, and promises of heaven.

Let us examine a portion of this book, not in the darkness of our fear, but in the light of reason.

And first, let us examine the account given of the Creation of this world, commenced, according to the bible, on Monday morning about five thousand eight hundred and eighty-three years ago.

VI.

MONDAY.

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OSES commences his story by telling us that in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

If this means anything, it means that God produced, caused to exist, called into being, the heaven and the earth. It will not do to say that he formed the heaven and the earth of previously existing matter. Moses conveys, and intended to convey the idea that the matter of which the heaven and the earth are composed, was created.

It is impossible for me to conceive of something being created from nothing. Nothing, regarded in the light of a raw material, is a decided failure. I cannot conceive of matter apart from force. Neither is it possible to think of force disconnected with matter. You cannot imagine matter going back to absolute nothing. Neither can you imagine nothing being changed into something. You may be eternally damned if you do not say that you can conceive these things, but you cannot conceive them.

Such is the constitution of the human mind that it cannot even think of a commencement or an end of matter, or force.

If God created the universe, there was a time. when he commenced to create. Back of that commencement there must have been an eternity. In that eternity what was this God doing? He certainly did not think. There was nothing to think about. He did not remember. Nothing had ever happened. What did he do? Can you imagine anything more absurd than an infinite intelligence in infinite nothing wasting an eternity?

I do not pretend to tell how all these things really are; but I do insist that a statement that cannot possibly be comprehended by any human being, and that appears utterly impossible, repugnant to every fact of experience, and contrary to everything that we really know, must be rejected by every honest

man.

We can conceive of eternity, because we cannot conceive of a cessation, of time. We can conceive of infinite space because we cannot conceive of so much matter that our imagination will not stand upon the farthest star, and see infinite space beyond. In other words, we cannot conceive of a cessation of time;

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