Page images
PDF
EPUB

that they had a common origin. Admitting that there were severe floods in all countries; it certainly cannot follow that in each instance only one family would be saved, or that the same story would in each instance be told. It may be urged that the natural tendency of man to exaggerate calamities, might account for this agreement in all the accounts, and it must be admitted that there is some force in the suggestion. I believe, though, that the real origin of all these myths is the same, and that it was originally an effort to account for the sun, moon and stars. The sun and moon were the man and wife, or the god and goddess, and the stars were their children. From a celestial myth, it became a terrestrial one; the air, or ether-ocean became a flood, produced by rain, and the sun moon and stars became man, woman and children.

In the original story, the mountain was the place where in the far east the sky was supposed to touch the earth, and it was there that the ship containing the celestial passengers finally rested from its voyage. But whatever may be the origin of the stories of the flood, whether told first by Hindu, Babylonian or Hebrew, we may rest perfectly assured that they are all equally false.

XIX.

BACCHUS AND BABEL.

[ocr errors]

s soon as Noah had disembarked, he proceeded

after that lived for

What he did during years, we are not told.

to plant a vineyard, and began to be a husbandman; and when the grapes were ripe he made wine and drank of it to excess; cursed his grandson, blessed Shem and Japheth, and three hundred and fifty years. these three hundred and fifty We never hear of him again. For three hundred and fifty years he lived among his sons, and daughters, and their descendants. He must have been a venerable man. He was the man to whom God had made known his intention of drowning the world. By his efforts, the human race had been saved. He must have been acquainted with Methuselah for six hundred years, and Methuselah was about two hundred and forty years old, when Adam died. Noah must himself have known the history of mankind, and must have been an object of almost infinite interest; and

[ocr errors]

yet for three hundred and fifty years he is neither directly nor indirectly mentioned. When Noah died, Abraham must have been more than fifty years old; and Shem, the son of Noah, lived for several hundred years after the death of Abraham; and yet he is never mentioned. Noah when he died, was the oldest man in the whole world by about five hundred years; and everybody living at the time of his death knew that they were indebted to him, and yet no account is given of his burial. No monument was raised to mark the spot. This, however, is no more wonderful than the fact that no account is given of the death of Adam or of Eve, nor of the place of their burial. This may all be accounted for by the fact that the language of man was confounded at the building of the tower of Babel, whereby all tradition may have been lost, so that even the sons of Noah could not give an account of their voyage in the ark; and, consequently, some one had to be directly inspired to tell the story, after new languages had been formed.

It has always been a mystery to me how Adam, Eve, and the serpent were taught the same language. Where did they get it? We know now, that it requires a great number of years to form a language;

that it is of exceedingly slow growth. We also know that by language, man conveys to his fellows the impressions made upon him by what he sees, hears, smells and touches. We know that the language of the savage consists of a few sounds, capable of expressing only a few ideas or states of the mind, such as love, desire, fear, hatred, aversion and contempt. Many centuries are required to produce a language capable of expressing complex ideas. It does not seem to me that ideas can be manufactured by a deity and put in the brain of man. These ideas must be the result of observation and experience.

Does anybody believe that God directly taught a language to Adam and Eve, or that he so made them that they, by intuition spoke Hebrew, or some language capable of conveying to each other their thoughts? How did the serpent learn the same language? Did God teach it to him, or did he happen to overhear God, when he was teaching Adam and Eve? We are told in the second chapter of Genesis that God caused all the animals to pass before Adam to see what he would call them. cannot infer from this that God named the animals and informed Adam what to call them. Adam

We

E

named them himself. Where did he get his words? We cannot imagine a man just made out of dust, without the experience of a moment, having the power to put his thoughts in language. In the first place, we cannot conceive of his having any thoughts until he has combined, through experience and observation, the impressions that nature had made upon him through the medium of his senses. We cannot imagine of his knowing anything, in the first instance, about different degrees of heat, nor about darkness, if he was made in the day-time, nor about light, if created at night, until the next morning. Before a man can have what we call thoughts, he must have had a little experience. Something must have happened to him before he can have a thought, and before he can express himself in language. Language is a growth, not a gift. We account now for the diversity of language by the fact that tribes and nations have had different experiences, different wants, different surroundings, and, one result of all these differences is, among other things, a difference in language. Nothing can be more absurd than to account for the different languages of the world by saying that the original language was confounded at the tower of Babel.

« FyrriHalda įfram »