The Necessity of Atheism (Brooks)/Chapter II
The Jews emerge into history, not a nation of keen spiritual aspirations and altruistic ethics, but that pagan people, worshiping rocks, sheep and cattle, and spirits of caves and wells, of whom the Old Testament, tending towards its higher ideal, gives fragmentary but convincing evidence. James T Shotwell.
Consider Jahveh. Cruel god of a horde of nomadic invaders settling in a land of farmers, he had his images, ranging in elaboration from an uncut mazzebah or asherah, to a golden bull. He was plural by place and tribe and function. What did the prophetic movement do with his sacred powers? It identified his taboos with a written constitution. Horace M. Kallen.
The mental attitude of these priest-dominated ancestors of ours is amazing. They were like children in the hands of unscrupulous teachers. In reading these old chronicles it is impossible not to be shocked by the incongruity ever arising out of the juxtaposition of theory and practice. Llewelyn Powys.
OUR Martian visitor, having withstood the blasts of the Zealot, is approached by a Mohammedan who places in his hands the Koran and tells him that it is a divinely inspired revelation, as revealed by Allah through his prophet, Mohammed. Having already had some experience with earthly religionists, the Martian is disposed to avail himself of the historical evidence regarding the life of Mohammed.
He finds that Mohammed, from all accounts, was a demagogue, a charlatan, and a victim of mental disease. It strikes him strangely that such an individual should be chosen by Allah as his disciple on earth to make known his commands. He notes Mohammed's appearance on earth in 600 A.D. and wonders why the Creator should have procrastinated for such a long time; but decides to read the revelations anyhow.
He discovers that "from the literary point of view, the Koran has little merit. Declamation, repetition, puerility, a lack of logic, and incoherence strike him at every turn. He finds it humiliating to the human intellect to think that this mediocre literature has been the subject of innumerable commentaries and that millions of men are still wasting time in absorbing it."
A Hebrew next takes his turn at this obstinate guest and sets before him the Old Testament. Again, the Martian is informed that it is an inspired book actuated by God.
In his attempt to find the historical evidence corroborating this book, the Martian finds that authentic history begins for the Israelites with the constitution of Saul's monarchy about 1100 B.C. All that precedes this — the deluge, the dispersal of mankind, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, the captivity in Egypt, Moses, Joshua, and the conquest of Canaan, is more or less mythical.
In the Old Testament, our Martian reads the first chapter, glances at the chronology, and is immediately bewildered since he has a fair knowledge of our scientific advances. As he reads on, he becomes aware of a host of errors, contradictions, and manifest absurdities. When he questions the zealous Hebrew, he comes in contact with what he is informed is Concordism, which he perceives is a false science that consists in determining, at any cost, a perfect harmony between modern science and the knowledge possessed by God's people. He is thus told that the days of creation were not days at all, but periods ; although the Bible mentions the morning and evening of each day. Delving further in this most holy of revelations, he learns that God is represented in a manner most unworthy of what such a being should be represented. He finds the Lord walking in the cool of the evening, showing his hind quarters to Moses, ordering abominable massacres, and punishing chiefs who had not killed enough people. On further perusal, there is revealed, "A great deal of Oriental bombast, incoherence and absurdity, that the marvels recounted are often ludicrous or grotesque."
In a chance moment, when the Hebrew had relaxed his hold for a second, a vile heretic points out to the visitor (Exodus XXII, 18): "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live!" and explains the witchcraft delusion to him.
From a comparison between Exodus XXXIV and Exodus XX, he is at a loss to decipher which are the true commandments that the Lord gave to Moses. The first five books of the Pentateuch, he finds, are attributed to Moses, although they contain the account of the latter's death. On inquiry, he learns that this is still maintained by the synagogue. His Martian intellect is unable to comprehend the logic of a God who would demand human and animal sacrifice, and the story of Abraham about to sacrifice his son Isaac fills him with disgust. His estimate of the mentality of Jehovah receives a severe jolt when he reads in Leviticus XVI, "Herewith shall Aaron come unto the holy place with a young bullock for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and he shall be girded with the linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired; they are the holy garments; and he shall bathe his flesh in water and put them on. And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two he-goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering. And Aaron shall present the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and he shall make atonement for himself and for his houses. And he shall take the two goats and set them before the Lord at the door of the tent of the meeting."
Our visitor reads on to Leviticus XVIII, after which he must stop to question the Hebrew, for here he finds, "None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness; I am the Lord. The nakedness of thy father, even the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover; she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. The nakedness of thy father's wife shalt thou not uncover; it is thy father's nakedness. The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover. The nakedness of thy son's wife the nakedness of the wife of thy father the nakedness of thy father's sister, thy mother's sister, the nakedness of thy daughter-in-law, thy brother's wife, the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, thou shalt not uncover. And unto a woman separated by her uncleanliness thou shalt not approach to uncover her nakedness. Thou shalt not be carnally with thy neighbor's wife, to defile thyself with her. Thou shalt not be with mankind as with womankind. And thou shalt not be with any beast to defile thyself thereto; neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto; it is confusion."
The Martian, totally aghast, is constrained to exclaim that he cannot believe that a Deity should find it necessary to place this in a divine revelation. The Hebrew Zealot relents somewhat to explain that perhaps this was not revealed, but found its way into the divine text as a moral lesson to the primitive tribes for which it was written. To this, our guest counters with the remark that if this be a parable of manners and morals, then, from what he observes on the earth, we, Earthlings, have certainly outgrown the need for such coarse and obscene statements made some 2000 years ago; and that on Mars, although the inhabitants are not blessed with such divine revelations, common sense and reason have taught their most primitive men the same lessons in morality while they were yet in their infancy.
Reflecting on this maze of contradictions, the Martian determines to analyze the Old Testament and the Hebrew religion in the same manner that he would investigate any other problem presented to him.
Thirty-five hundred years ago, the Hebrews were a pastoral, primitive people inhabiting the wilderness known today as the Arabian Desert. Their religion was that of all other primitive peoples Animism, an illusion which made primitive man recognize everywhere spirits similar to his own spirit. They worshiped the spirits of the sun and the moon, the mountains and rocks, as well as the spirits of the dead.
It appears certain that the barrenness of this desert land necessitated these wandering tribes to migrate to adjacent areas of greater fertility. To the north lay the fertile valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates and the coast of the Mediterranean Sea; to the west lay the land of the Egyptians. Time and time again, these Bedouin tribes hurled themselves against the inhabitants of the northern fertile valleys. Babylonia, to the northeast, was the first country to be invaded, and later Canaan to the northwest. Successful at times in establishing themselves in Babylonia and Canaan, they were at other times driven back into the desert when the native inhabitants in turn attacked the invaders. Migrating into Egypt in search of food, they were made a captive nation and escaped again into the desert when the . Egyptians were engaged in fighting the savage invaders from Libya.
The leader of this flight from Egypt was the prophet Moses. The Martian decides to investigate the character and deeds of this influential figure at another time. It is probable that, the exodus gave the proper stimulus for the beginnings of a distinctive Hebrew religion, and was the reason for their finally establishing themselves in Canaan, with Jehovah as their chief deity. It has often been proclaimed that the value of Judaism has been in first establishing a religion of monotheism; but it must not be forgotten that centuries before the Hebrews escaped into the desert, the Egyptians were tending to monotheism. It is known that one god was exalted over all the rest in Egypt, and that as far back as 1375 B.C. King Ikhnaton made the religion of Egypt an absolute monotheism. The Hebrews, in proclaiming their Yahveh as the one and supreme deity, were but following what they had assimilated from the Egyptians. The faith of these desert marauders, at the time of their entrance into Canaan, was as crude and savage as the Hebrews themselves. Brought into contact with the gods of the Phoenicians and Babylonians, their Yahveh underwent a change, as have all other creeds since that time when brought into contact with another creed. The final idea of Yahveh accepted by the Hebrews was not the product of a sudden revelation but of a gradual evolution.
The Hebrews, about the twelfth century B.C., gained access into Canaan, and at first were successful in warfare, so that under King David they presented the aspect of a united nation. However, following the extravagant reign of King Solomon, the nation was embroiled in a revolution, and the land was divided into two kingdoms — Israel in the north, Judah in the south. These two tiny kingdoms were habitually at war with each other and, finally, in 722 B.C: Israel was conquered, while in 586 B.C., Judah was defeated and its population either scattered or taken into captivity.
In 538 B.C., Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylonia and set the exiles free. Returning to their own land, the exiles took back with them the law code which the priests had manufactured for them. Then began a period of priestly domination and corruption, a period of subjugation to Rome, of insurrection against Rome, and the capture and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. With the capture of Jerusalem, the Hebrew nation was finally dispersed.
Just as the Martian was able to trace the evolution of the Hebrews from the stage of the marauding tribes of the Arabian desert who wandered into Egypt, Canaan, and Babylonia, and finally established a kingdom for themselves which was dispersed by Rome; just so could he trace the evolution of their religious beliefs from their incipient crudities to their not too great refinement at 70. A.D. This evolution of the Hebrew religion is best exemplified by an analysis of the Old Testament itself.
There are several canons, or official collection of books which comprise the Old Testament. The Jews and Protestants accept fewer books than the Roman Catholics. The Jewish Canon consists of those so-called sacred books of, which the Synagogue possessed Hebrew texts about a century before the Christian era. "About 150 B.C. the sacred books of the Jews were translated into Greek for the use of those Egyptian Jews who could not read Hebrew. This translation is called the Septuagint, from a tradition that seventy or seventy-two translators had worked upon it." (Salomon Reinach, "Orpheus.") The earliest manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible date only from the tenth century A.D., but there are very much older manuscripts of the Greek and Latin translations in existence. At the time of Jesus Christ, three divisions of the Old Testament were recognized. These were, the Law, the Prophets, and the other Scriptures. The first five books, Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, are known as the Pentateuch, and are attributed to Moses himself; although, as has been noted, they contain the account of his death. This conception of the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch was accepted by the Israelites as early as the fifth century B.C. and has been maintained by the Synagogue since that time. Following the example of the Hebrews, the Christian Churches accepted this version as to origin, and the Roman Catholic Church still upholds this view. The Jewish Synagogue and the various Christian Churches further hold that the Old Testament is a collection of works inspired or dictated by God. Even as late as 1861, the famous Dean Burgon, in a sermon preached at Oxford University, declared, "The Bible is none other than the voice of Him that sitteth upon the throne. Every book of it, every chapter of it, every verse of it, every syllable of it, every letter of it, is the direct utterance of the Most High. The Bible is none other than the Word of God, not some part of it more, some part of it less, but all alike the utterance of Him who sitteth upon the throne, faultless, unerring, supreme." The Martian compared this statement with the words of the scholar Loisy, "If God himself wrote the Bible, we must believe Him to be either ignorant or untruthful."
As he delves further into the intricacies of the construction of the Bible, our visitor perceives that the Old Testament gradually evolved from the tenth century to the second century B.C., and in its present form is mainly a fifth century compilation, so distorting the facts that it has taken scholars one hundred and fifty years to get them straight. "It may rightly be said that there is not a single book in the Bible which is original in the sense of having been written by one man, for all the books are made up of older documents or pre-existing sources which were combined with later materials, undergoing, in this way, several revisions and editions at the hands of different scribes or compilers. Deep traces have therefore been left upon the text of the Bible by these several stages of expansions, additions, -modifications, revisions, and incorporations — they appear to the scholar of biblical literature much like the striations grooved in the rocks by large glaciers to the student of Geology." (Trattner, "Unravelling the Book of Books")
The Martian ascertains that to most thinking men it has become very obvious that the Bible is the work of man, and not the inspiration of a god; that an increasing number of liberal theologians are discarding the theory of the divine inspiration of the Bible. He likewise clearly perceives that there are as yet many men that have given this matter but little thought; with the Divine inspiration looming up as a corner stone in the Hebrew faith he realizes that it behooves him to carry his investigations further.
The Christians, accepting the Old Testament as a book dictated by God, had fixed the age of the earth as 4004 B.C. The harm done by the Christian ecclesiastics in attempting to force science to conform to the ridiculous concept of the construction of the universe as contained in the Bible, and as interpreted by the Church, the Martian considers in a further chapter. Scientists incline to the view that the earth has existed as a separate planet for something like two thousand million years (2,000,000,000,000). The rocks give, a history of 16,000,000,000. Just as in the study of the origin of primitive beliefs, one finds that man made his. gods and invented all that they are reported to have said, so a study of the Old Testament reveals that the ancient Hebrew invented his God, and manufactured the Vast mass of myth and fable that are recorded as the words and deeds of God. Throughout the ages, the words of these ancient Hebrews have been taken as the words of a god.
"Everything goes to show that the Hebrew literature was produced like other literatures. Hebrews were not the first to tell tales. When they did come to write 'for our learning' they borrowed from other people. The only reason why anything more than a literary attention is paid to these old Jewish writings is that Jesus was a Jew. When Christianity was founded — a difficult date to fix — there was no such thing as a Bible. The old Brahmans and Buddhists had Holy Scriptures; the Egyptians had a Book of the Dead, and the Sayings of Khuenaten; the Persians had the Zend-Avesta; the Chinese had sacred books. They were all as sacred as the Jewish books. Priests made them sacred. Priests generally rewrote and edited them, even if they had not originally imagined them. There is nothing to guide the man of common sense save knowledge, and reason. Every priest swears his religion and his scriptures are true. But they cannot all be true. If the first are true, then the Jews are past further consideration, for they were not the first in the field with sacred writings. . . . Holy scriptures are merely Jewish classics. We have had to accept these old writings of the Hebrews as holy and inspired because the priests said so, and for no other reason whatsoever. There is no other reason." Assuming the existence of a deity, a man exercising his common sense would be compelled to deny that the Old Testament is inspired of God, because it abounds in stupidities and errors such as no god could inspire. "But because the Jews accumulated these writings, the subsequent adopters of Christianity, realizing that Jesus was a Jew, and had been a professing Jew, promptly annexed these tales of fancy and of fear, of muddled, sensual, silly things and said they must be accepted with the teachings of Jesus. And in the course of time, people had to believe these old Jewish writings were the Word of God." (W. H. Williamson, "Thinker or Believer.")
The Hebrews had as one of their gods, Yahveh, whom they endowed with their qualities; qualities inherent in a primitive people: jealousy- and might, trickery and fickleness. They evolved a worship that contained in a modified form many of the ceremonials that they witnessed when they came into contact with the Babylonians and Phoenicians. Their Bible they maintained to be a collection of books which appeared at intervals, with divine inspiration, during a thousand years of Jewish history. Similarly, they insisted that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, that Judges, Kings, and Chronicles go back to the times they describe, that the prophecies were added from the ninth century onward, and so on.
The Martian found that not a single book of the Old Testament is older than the ninth century B.C. and that in the fifth century B.C. all the older books and fragments were combined together into the Old Testament as we have it, and were drastically altered so as to yield a version of early Jewish history which is not true. The manipulation of the Hebrew writings by the Jewish priests had for its object to represent the Jewish priesthood, and its rights and customs, as having been established in the days of Moses. Deuteronomy and Leviticus have been classed as priestly forgeries. Nearly every occurrence, from the creation of the world to the death of Moses, is related twice and, in some cases, three times; and as the Pentateuch is supposed to have been written by Moses one must assume that Moses had double and triple vision.
Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah are impudent forgeries of the fourth century, giving a totally false version of the events. The Martian finds that the terms used for these fabrications are "redaction" or "recension," but, in his understanding, he finds the word most descriptive of the process to be forgery. "The main point is that practically all the experts assure you that in scores of material points the Old Testament history has been discredited, and has only been confirmed in a few unimportant incidental statements; and that the books are a tissue of inventions, expansions, conflations, of recensions dating centuries after the event."
The Martian in his analysis becomes aware of instances related in the Old Testament that on his planet would have to be termed forgeries, deliberate falsifications or fabrications of documents or of the signature to them. "Now the far greater part of the more learned clerical authorities on the Bible say that many books of the Old Testament pretend to be written by men who did not write them; that many books were deliberately written as history when the writers knew that they were not history; and that the Old Testament as a whole, as we have it, is a deliberate attempt to convey an historical belief which the writers knew to be false. But these learned authorities do not like the word forgery. It is crude." (Joseph McCabe, "The Forgery of The Old Testament!") They veil the meaning of this word in the elegance, the subtlety, the resources, of diplomatic language. They talk of certain books in terms of "their legendary character," "their conformity to a scheme," and "their didactic purpose." To the Martian these are but an extremely polite description of what he would call a forgery.
A theologian in speaking of David states that "Keen criticism is necessary to arrive at the kernel of fact," and, "the imaginative element in the story of David is but the vesture which half conceals, half discloses certain facts treasured in popular tradition." The Martian thinks this is polite language, but the word forgery is much more concise and to the point, and he finds an excellent example of this described by Joseph McCabe in "The Forgery of the Old Testament." He states, "Some time ago we recovered tablets of the great Persian king, Cyrus, and Professor Sayre gives us a translation of them, and he compares them, as you may, with the words of Daniel, 'In that night was Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldeans, slain, and Darius the Median took the kingdom.' The tablets of Cyrus describe the taking of Babylon, and are beyond the slightest suspicion. The Persians had adopted the Babylonian custom of writing on clay, then baking the brick or tablet, and such documents last forever. And these and other authentic and contemporary documents of the age which 'Daniel' describes show:
- 1. That Belshazzar was not the king of Babylon.
- 2. That the name of the last king was Nabonidos.
- 3. That the city was taken peacefully, by guile, not by bloodshed.
- 4. That is was Cyrus, not Darius the Median, who took it.
- 5. That Darius, who is said (XI, 1) by Daniel to have been the son of "Ahasuerus" (Xerxes), was really his father.
- 6. That all the Babylonian names in Daniel are absurdly misspelt and quite strange to the writer.
- 7. That the writer described the Chaldeans in a way that no writer could have done before the time of Alexander the Great.
It is now beyond question that the man who wrote Daniel, and pretended to be alive in 539 B.C. (when Babylon fell), did not live until three or four centuries later. The book is a tissue of errors, as we find by authentic documents and by reading the real Babylonian names on the tablets."
The Martian discovers glaring instances of forgery in the book of Isaiah and the Psalms of David, which, while they pretend to have been written by Isaiah and David, are really compilations by various writers. Similarly, he finds that the Book of Esther has been pronounced by scholars as a clumsy forgery of the second century, and that the story of the slaying of Goliath by David is not consistent with the unlegendary tradition that the slayer of Goliath was Elhanan, and the period of this adventure not in Saul's but in David's reign. The Book of Psalms, although attributed to King David, was not written by King David;, and the Book of Proverbs, although attributed to Solomon, was not written by King Solomon.
The Book of Genesis relates the mythical traditions of the Hebrews from the creation of the world to the death of Joseph. "A French physician of the eighteenth century, Astruc, was the first scholar to point out that the two principal designations of God in Genesis, Elohim and Jahveh, are not used arbitrarily. If we place side by side the passages in which God is called Elohim, and those in which he is called by the other name, we get, two perfectly distinct narratives, which the author of the Pentateuch, as we possess it, has juxtaposed rather than fused. This one discovery suffices to discredit the attribution of these books to Moses, who could not have been an unintelligent compiler, and also discredits the theory of the divine inspiration of the Bible text. A comparison of the two narratives shows that all which relates to the creation of Eve, the Garden of Eden, and Adam's transgression, exists only in the Jehovist text. Thus it is evident that two versions of the Creation are given in Genesis. But there are traces in the Old Testament of a third legend, akin to that of the Babylonians, in which Marduk creates the world by virtue of a victory over the waters of chaos (Tiamat). This conception of a conflict between the creator and hostile forces was contrary to the monotheistic thesis, and has disappeared from our two versions of Genesis; but the suppression sufficiently proves that it was very ancient and had long been accepted."
The Martian finds that theologians have attempted to crawl out of desperate situations in their interpretation of the Old Testament by a method of reading into a passage or extracting out of it ideas altogether foreign to its original intent. This method they call "Allegory." By means of this process they have been able to extract any meaning which suits, their purposes, and by this method of juggling could prove anything. A classic example is that licentious piece of literature called the "Song of Solomon," in which it is claimed that a woman's breasts, thighs, and belly are the symbols of the union of Jahveh and the Synagogue.
Continuing his researches, the Martian notices a number of passages in the Old Testament that lead him to the conclusion that the Hebrews were originally polytheists. The name Elohim, he finds, is plural (singular, Eloah), meaning the gods. Again, in another passage of Genesis, God is described as saying, "Let us make man in our image (I, 26), and further on, "The man is become as one of us." It becomes evident to him that the Hebrews, like their neighbors, worshiped "baalim" or the gods of the heathens. The "teraphim," the etymology of which is unknown, were little portable idols which seem to have been the Lares of the ancient Hebrews. David owned some (I Samuel XIX, 13-16), and the prophet Hosea, in the eighth century before Christ, seems still to have considered the "teraphim" as indispensable in worship (Hos. III, 4). These evidences of polytheism and fetichism in the people of Israel destroy, in the mind of the Martian, the claim of these people to have been faithful from their earliest origin to a spiritual monotheism. Rather does he find that they took the religions of other peoples with whom they came in contact.
The Old Testament contains numerous instances of the practice of magic. Moses and Aaron were magicians who rivalled Pharaoh's magicians (Ex. VII, 11-20); and Balaam was a magician who pronounced incantations against Israel and afterwards passed over to the service of Jehovah. Jacob resorted to a kind of sympathetic magic to procure the birth of a speckled sheep (Gen. XXX, 39). "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," is written in Exodus XXII, 18, and this phrase offered an affirmation of the reality of witchcraft during the period of the Witchcraft Delusion. The Martian notes that the sentence, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," has caused more suffering, torture, and death than probably any other sentence ever framed. His mind revolts at the stupidity and the slavish adherence to so-called authority of the human mind, which is manifested in this example of what occurred in the period of the Witchcraft Delusion, when the words of an ignorant and barbaric Hebrew were taken by Christian followers to be the words of a god. And yet our Martian guest recognizes that in this day all men are aware of the fallacy of this utterance in a book which is still claimed to be infallible.
The Martian then considers the many ancient Hebrew rites and religious taboos that have come down through the ages, and are still practiced in a modified form by the modern Hebrew. Thus, in the Old Testament, there are numerous instances recorded of the practices of slaughtering of innocent animals who were offered as peace offerings to Yahveh. As time passed, the practice of slaughtering and then burning the sacrificial animal gave way to the practice of only giving the blood of the animal as an offering. This custom has come down to the present day in the modern worship of Jehovah; the blood of animals is still forbidden to the modern Hebrew. Therefore, the orthodox Jew has the neck of the chicken slit by a "Shochet" who allows the blood to drip to the ground a modern blood offering to the Gods. The explanations given by the rabbis of our day are spurious. Similarly, the orthodox Jew of our time still persists in salting the meat before cooking, a process which is intended to remove the blood, which is the portion of the Gods.
The reason that the pious Jew abstains from pork leads to the consideration of Totemism as found in the Old Testament. Totemism is a kind of worship rendered to animals and vegetables considered as allied and related to man. The worship of animals and plants is found as a survival in all ancient societies and is the origin of the belief in the transmigration of souls. Totemism seems to have been as widespread as the animism from which it is derived, and has been closely intertwined in the development of religious beliefs. Totemism in a modified form is found in the Old Testament where animals speak on occasion, as the serpent in Genesis, or Balaam's ass. In the most remote periods it is probable that every clan had at least one totem animal which might no more be killed or eaten than the human individuals of the clan. The totem was protected by taboo. The totem was sacred and in this capacity it was looked upon as a source of strength and holiness, and to live beside it and under its protection was considered as a righteous custom. In certain communities the idea that it was necessary to abstain from eating certain totems survived the progress of material civilization. The cow is taboo to the Hindus, the pig is taboo to the Mohammedans and to the Jews. The pious Jew abstains from pork because his remote ancestors, five or six thousand years before our era, had the wild boar as their totem. This is the origin of this alimentary taboo; among the ancient Hebrews it arose, and only comparatively recently has it been suggested that the flesh of these taboo animals was unwholesome. In the eighteenth century, philosophers, propagated the erroneous notion that if certain religious legislators had forbidden various aliments, it was for hygienic motives. Even Renan believed that dread of trichinosis and leprosy had caused the Hebrews to forbid the use of pork. To show the irrational nature of this explanation, it will be enough to point out that in the whole of the Bible there is not a single instance of an epidemic or a malady attributed to the eating of unclean meats; the idea of hygiene awoke very late in the Greek world. To the Biblical writers, as to contemporary savages, illness is supernatural; it is an effect of the wrath of spirits.
Primitive man ascribed all diseases either to the wrath of God, or the malice of an evil being. The curing of disease by the casting out of devils and by prayers were the means of relief from sickness recognized and commanded by the Old Testament. The hygienic explanation of an alimentary prohibition as still insisted upon by the rabbis is entirely erroneous and marks the expounder of such an explanation as one who is entirely ignorant of the evolution of religious beliefs. The entire matter is well stated in one sentence by Reinach, "Nothing can be more absurd, generally speaking, than to explain the religious laws and practices of the remote past by considerations based on modern science."
The Martian is able to trace some curious customs that were exhibited by the ancient Hebrews as well as most other ancient peoples, and which have persisted to this day. The customs remain the same, the meanings have become lost in the blind adherence to custom. It is known that the old Jewish mourning customs originated with, the desire for protection from the liberated spirit of the deceased. The loud cries uttered by the mourners were thought to frighten away the spirits. The change of dress, the covering of the head with ashes, and the shaving of the hair of the mourners were done with the purpose of making themselves unrecognizable to the spirits. Hence, the custom still prevails of wearing, the mourning veil. The covering of mirrors when death occurs in the household may well be an attempt to prevent the spirit from lingering in the vicinity. Similarly, even today, the orthodox Jew, in case of grave illness in his family, changes the given name of the sufferer. To confuse the evil spirit causing the disease?
Further survivals of totemism as found in the Old Testament are illustrated by the worship of the bull and the serpent. Portable gilded images of bulls were consecrated and Hosea protested against the worship of the bull in the kingdom of Israel (Hos. VIII, 5; X, 5). The famous golden calf of the Israelites, which was the object of Moses' anger, was a totemic idol. The worship of the serpent was practiced by Moses himself (Num. XXI, 9). A brazen serpent was worshiped in the temple of Jerusalem, and was only destroyed by Hezekiah about 700 B.C. (2 Kings XVIII, 4).
The ancient Hebrews, as well as their neighbors, were phallic worshipers. To primitive people it is but a natural phase to have the phallus become the exponent of creative power, and as such to be worshiped. To these primitive minds there was nothing immoral in genuine phallic worship. Signs of phallicism among the ancient Hebrews can be clearly pointed out; the serpent was a phallic symbol. "That the serpent was the phallus is proved by the Bible itself. The Hebrew word used for serpent is 'Nachash' which is everywhere else translated in the Bible in a phallic sense, as in Ezekiel XVI, 36, where it is rendered 'filthiness' in the sense of exposure, like the 'having thy Boseth naked' of Micah." (J. B. Hannay, "Christianity, the Sources of its Teaching and Symbolism.") The ark itself was a feminine symbol, and phallicism would explain why Moses made an ark and put in it a rod and two stones. "The Eduth, the Shechina, the Tsur, and the Yahveh were identical; simply different names for the same thing, the phallus. They occupied the female ark with which they formed the double sexed life symbol. The Hebrew religion had thus a purely phallic basis, as was to be expected from a ritual and symbolism derived from two extremely phallic nations, Babylon and Egypt." (J. B. Hannay, Ibid.) An intelligent reading of Exodus XXXIV, 13, and 1 Kings XIV, 23 and 24, will prove the above contention. Once more our Martian guest is besieged by the Hebrew Zealot to examine the divine revelation of his religion. This time the Martian notes, "I, Yahveh, thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generations" (Deut.), which seems to him to savor of a cruel and monstrous being. He cannot perceive of a just being favoring slavery (Ex. XI), or of a merciful father ordering human sacrifice (Ex. XIII), (Lev. XXVII, 29), (Num. XIII, 3). He is dumbfounded to find references to cannibalism (Lev. XXVI, 14-16-28; Deut XXVIII, 53-58; Jer. XIX, p; Ezek. V, 10; Kings VI, 26-29-33). A Benevolent Being, he reasons, would not sanction war and destruction of the captured enemy, yet there are instances of this (Deut. XXI, 10-14; Deut. XX, 13-14; Deut. VII, 1-2-16). The reading of Numbers V, 11-29, and Deuteronomy XXII nauseated him. The Hebrew Zealot, observing the utter disgust with which the reader was regarding his revelation, is obliged to explain to the bewildered barbarian unbeliever that the Old Testament is the foundation for all of our morals and that without it we would have developed into a very shocking and immoral race.
Since the visitor wishes to remain courteous he proceeds, but with a great deal of hesitation, to further examine the revelation of God. At this point he is assured that this work is read in most schools and taught to small children. However, our guest is again disillusioned; for no sooner does he arrive at Genesis, XII, 11-20, than he finds that Abraham, good Abraham, the pure, the father of all Hebrews, makes of the sacred relationship of marriage a means of personal gain and safety by betraying his own wife. Now it is the Martian's turn to inquire of the Hebrew whether the latter had ever read this story to his own, daughter? Or, the story of Abraham's affair with Hagar, his hand-maiden? Was the Hebrew's young daughter aware that Isaac, son of Abraham, was as ready and willing to prostitute his wife for protection for himself as was his father Abraham?
The Martian is puzzled by the word "sporting" in Genesis, XXVI, 8-11, and is informed of its meaning. A few moments after reading Genesis XIX, 1-7, he informs his would-be converter that if Lot had lived in Mars and had offered his daughters to appease the mob, the account of that incident would never have found its way into any work on morals. Moreover, he failed utterly to see how the account of Lot's daughters getting him into a drunken state, followed by a statement such as, "Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father," could ever have any moral value.
The story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel does not appeal to this infidel Martian, since he still believes that integrity and faithfulness are virtues. Yet, in his endeavor to respect the courtesy due to his host, he reaches for pencil and pad, and notes the various moral lessons he had derived thus far from the Old Testament. He wrote lust, incest, infidelity, and prostitution; arriving at the story of Dinah, Genesis XXXIV, 1-2, he wrote that in addition to those vices already listed, rape should be given a prominent place. The stories of Joseph and Potiphar's wife, Judah and Tamar, King David and his wives, the rape of Tamar by her brother Ammon, did not impress the Martian as stories for the delectation of children, since he was crude enough to hold that anything which would shock the mind of a child, could not have any moral value and would thus be automatically excluded from any religion. He, therefore, returned the volume to the Hebrew with the remark that as an adult he found the stories of De Maupassant and Balzac more interesting, even though they belonged to the same genre.
Our guest now repaired to one of our golf courses where, during the interval of a few hours, the fresh air, the sunshine, and exercise dispelled the mental nausea which the reading of the Old Testament had occasioned in him. Returning to his quarters, he is approached by one of the Christian Brethren and the New Testament is placed in his hands with these remarks, "The Christian recognizes that in the Old Testament the Jews have given to the Christian world its greatest heritage." The fact that in exchange for this priceless heritage, the Christians have given to the Jews a series of persecutions unequaled in the annals of human warfare is explained by the quality of the Brotherhood of Man that naturally manifests itself after a complete conversion to the Bible's precepts. The Old Testament contains the first revelations of God; the New Testament, the last revelations. Our Christian Brother "forgets" to remind the visitor that the difference of opinion regarding these two Testaments of God has caused more sorrow, bloodshed, harm, devilment, misery, and devastation than any other single item in the life and history of the human race.
The Martian is hard pressed to reconcile the fact that Mohammedanism six hundred years after the appearance of Christianity triumphed over Christianity in. a great portion of the earth's surface; yet he is informed that Christianity is the religion of God, that Allah made the Mohammedans, Jehovah the Jews, the Trinity the Christians, and the rest of the believers were illegitimate children of the above gods, was the only conclusion he could .reach. In a few moments the myth of Christ begins to unfold itself before his eyes in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Apocalypse. He finds, "The so-called Messianic texts which are supposed to prefigure Jesus in the Old Testament have all been either misunderstood or deliberately misinterpreted. The most celebrated is that in Isaiah VII, 14, which predicts that a virgin shall bear a son, Emmanuel, but the word, Almah, which the Septuagint rendered "virgin" means in Hebrew a young woman, and this passage merely deals with the approaching birth of a son to the king or the prophet himself. This error of the Septuagint is one of the sources of the legend relating to the virginal birth of Jesus. As early as the second century A.D. the Jews perceived it and pointed it out to the Greeks, but the Church knowingly persisted in the false reading, and for over fifteen centuries she has clung to her error."
His attentive reading convinces him that not one of the Gospels is the work of an eyewitness to the scenes recorded; a little side investigation reveals that there were a great many writings called Gospels, from which the Church finally adopted four, guaranteeing their inspiration and absolute veracity, no doubt because they .were in favor in four very influential churches, Matthew at Jerusalem, Mark at Rome or at Alexandria, Luke at Antioch, and John at Ephesus. Moreover, what the Gospels tell him, he perceives is what different Christian communities believed concerning Jesus between the years 70 and 100 A.D. In Matthew XXVI, 39, Mark XIV, 35, and Luke XXII, 42, there are words such as those Jesus is supposed to have uttered during the slumber of these very same Apostles. This occurrence enlightens him as to what St. Augustine meant when he wrote, "I should not believe in the Gospel if I had not the authority of the Church for so doing." If the documents are stuffed with the authority of the Church, these Gospels cannot be utilized for a history of the real life of Jesus.
A study of the Epistles of St. Paul reveals that St. Paul taught that sin and death came into the world by Adam's fall. In spite of a diligent search the Martian found no mention of this in the words ascribed to Jesus. From St. Paul's utterances he learns that Christ came to redeem mankind by his voluntary oblation of himself. He was the Son of God! Paul, not knowing that in the future a special form of conception would be superimposed on Jesus, states that he was of human birth. The Martian determined to ascertain what effect the teachings of St. Paul have had on Christianity. He learns that, "Ever since St. Paul, the ruling idea of Christianity has been that of the redemption of man, guilty of a prehistoric fault, by the voluntary sacrifice of a superman. This doctrine is founded upon that of expiation; a guilty person must suffer to atone for his fault; and that of the substitution of victims, the efficacious suffering of an innocent person for a guilty one. Both are at once pagan and Jewish ideas; they belong to the old fundamental errors of humanity. Yet, Plato knew that the punishment inflicted on a guilty person is not, nor should it be, a vengeance; it is a painful remedy imposed on him for his own benefit and that of society. At about the same period Athenian law laid down the principle that punishment should be as personal as the fault, thus St. Paul founded Christian Theology on two archaic ideas which had already been condemned by enlightened Athenians of the fourth century before our era, ideas which no one would dream of upholding in these days, though the structure built upon them still subsists."
In chapter V of the first Epistle of St. John, these words strike the visitor, "There are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, and the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are One." If these two verses are authentic, they would be an affirmation of the doctrine of the Trinity, dating from the first century, at a time when the Gospels, the Acts, and St. Paul ignore it. It was first pointed out in 1806 that these verses were an interpolation, for they do not appear in the best manuscripts, notably all the Greek manuscripts down to the fifteenth century. The Roman Church refused to bow to evidence. The Congregation of the Index, on January 13, 1897, with the approbation of Leo XIII, forbade any question as to the authenticity of the text relating to the "three heavenly witnesses." It appeared strange to the Martian that a god should need the lies of his disciples to be incorporated in a divine revelation. But his confusion was even greater when he read, "We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the substance and yet, they are not three Eternals, but One Eternal, not three Almighties, but One Almighty. So, the Father is God, the Son God, and the Holy Ghost God, and yet they are not three Gods, but One God. . . . The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son, neither made nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. . . . And in this Trinity, none is afore or after the other; none is greater or less than another; but the whole three Persons are coeternal together and coequal."
He thought this would make a great puzzle, truly an insoluble conundrum, to take back to bewilder his Martian friends. However, he was able to comprehend the remarks of Vigilantius, "who returned from a journey in Italy and the Holy Land disgusted with official Christianity. He protested vehemently against the idolatrous worship of images, the legacy of Paganism to the Church, a practice directly opposed to that of the Mosaic law which Jesus came, not to destroy, but to fulfill. It was idle to reply that these images were the Scriptures of the illiterate, that they were not the object of, but the stimulus to, worship. Experience showed that the majority of the faithful confounded (as indeed they still do) the sign with the thing signified." (Salomon Reinach, "Orpheus")
The result of the critical examination of the New Testament by the Martian is that just as most of the Old Testament books are not only anonymous but highly composite productions, that as certain writings traditionally ascribed to Moses, David, Solomon, Daniel, and others are utterly lacking in the necessary evidences in support of authorship, but bear unmistakable evidence of having gone through a long compilatory process; so does each gospel, despite its seeming unity, give evidence of being a composite literary product. Scholars have agreed that Mark first set forth the doings of Jesus and "it was out of Mark that both Matthew and Luke took the framework of their own writings, cleverly fitting into its arrangement their own distinctive material and coloring the whole by their own individual treatment." (Trattner, "Unravelling the Book of Books") It is estimated that Mark was written shortly before the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. "This means that a chasm of 30 or 40 years separates Mark's written document' from the ministry of Jesus a long enough time to create a plastic body of oral teachings and a highly colored tradition embellished with fanciful stories."
Luke was a Greek physician living somewhere on the shores of the Ægean Sea. He had been a friend of Paul, just as Mark had been with Peter. Luke had no personal acquaintance with Jesus and had to get his information from what others said, or from what the friends of "eye-witnesses" had seen.
The Gospel of "Matthew" is an anonymous composition which, on analysis, has been found to incorporate nearly fifty per cent of what is found in Mark. It is now believed by many scholars to have been written between the years 75 and 80 A.D. at Antioch not, of course, by the Apostle Matthew, but by some unknown editor.
The Fourth Gospel, the Gospel of John, is vastly different in style, arrangement, and in the description of the words, actions, and general spiritual character of Jesus. Many scholars believe that it was written in the city of Ephesus, somewhere around the year 100 A.D. "Church tradition ascribed it to the Apostle John, the son of Zebedee, one of the fishermen whom Jesus called to be a disciple. Years ago this view was easily entertained, but there now exists too much refractory evidence against assigning this Greek Gospel to an Aramaic-speaking Galilean. That an untutored fisherman could have written so elaborate and so highly philosophical an account of Jesus has always presented a thorny problem. And so to most scholars John's authorship of the Fourth Gospel is unthinkable."
Not one of the Gospels is the work of an eyewitness, and the four Gospels do not complete each other; they contradict each other ; and when they do not contradict, they repeat each other. The Christ of John is a totally different person from the Christ of Mark, Matthew, and Luke. Loisy, in his "Quelques Lettres" states, "If there is one thing above others that is obvious, but as to which the most powerful of theological interests have caused a deliberate or unconscious blindness, it is the profound, the irreducible incompatibility of the Synoptical Gospels, and the Fourth Gospel. If Jesus spoke and acted as hie is said to have spoken and acted in the first three Gospels, he did not speak and act as he is reported to have done in the fourth."
The Martian is forced to the conclusion that the New Testament, with fts version of the Virgin Birth, Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary, Zacharias and the Angel Gabriel, Jesus and the Sinner, are on par with the eroticism of the Old Testament. The interpolations, the myth, and fable also compare with the first revelation, and, in his opinion, he prefers Andersen's Fairy Tales, or Æsop's Fables.
Meanwhile, a Protestant Brother mentions the name of Luther, and the conclusions he draws are that the exciting cause of the Reformation was an extravagant sale of indulgences conceded to the German Dominicans. The Augustinians grew jealous of the Dominicans, and an Augustinian Monk, Martin Luther, affixed to the door of Wittenberg Cathedral ninety-five articles against the abuse of indulgences. This started the fray in Germany with Luther at the head of this heresy. The gravest difference of opinion had to do with the Communion. "Luther retained one-half of the mystery, and rejected the other half. He confesses that the body of Jesus Christ is in the consecrated element, but it is, he says, as fire is in the red-hot iron. The fire and the iron subsist together. This is what they called impanation, invincation, consubstantiation. Thus, while those they called Papists ate God without bread, the Lutherans ate God and bread; soon afterwards came the Calvinists, who ate bread and did not eat God." In short, Luther was in harmony with the Roman Church in nothing but the doctrines of the Trinity, Baptism, the Incarnation, and the Resurrection. Luther thought it was time to abolish private mass. He pretended the devil had appeared to him and reproached him for saying mass and consecrating the elements. The devil had proved to him, he said, that it was idolatry. Luther declared that the devil was right and must be believed. The mass was abolished in Wittenberg, and soon afterwards throughout Saxony; the images were thrown down, monks and nuns left their cloisters, and, a few years later, Luther married a nun called Catharine von Bora. This tale did not greatly impress our guest.
A Catholic Brother, not to be outdone, extols the glories of his Universal Church, and the Martian again sets out to investigate. This time he finds:
The quotations in the New Testament which the Catholic creed interprets as giving divine authority to its representatives on earth is a late interpolation; the Trinity as stated above is a paradox which no rational being can understand, and its dogmas and idolatry are consistent with a civilization of 4000 years ago.
A study of the lives of its popes put to shame the statement that they could possibly be the earthly representatives of a Benevolent Being. "In the ninth and tenth centuries the papacy passed through a period of shameful disorder. The Rome of John X was a cloaca in which the Popes set the example of the worst misconduct." (For a good short account of the lives of the popes, see Draper's, "History of the Intellectual Development of Europe.")
During the complete control by the Church of civilization in Europe, it has retarded the progress of humanity for at least 2000 years, and its precepts and fundamental principles are today detrimental to the advance of mankind. It has to its credit a long series of judicial murders for differences of opinion. The Crusades, instigated by the popes and seconded by the monks, cost millions of lives and exhausted the resources of Christian Europe; they aggravated fanaticism, exaggerated the .worship of saints and relics to the point of mania, and encouraged the abuse of and traffic in indulgences. There had never been a single opinion persecuted by the Church in the Middle Ages the adoption of which would not have brought about a diminution of her revenues; the Church has always primarily considered her finances. The papacy was responsible for the Inquisition, and it actively encouraged and excited its ferocity. It gave birth to the Witchcraft Mania. The first Grand Inquisitor, Torquemada, received the congratulations of the Pope. It diabolically applauded the St. Bartholomew Massacre, and instigated the numerous religious wars that tore Europe asunder, and was the cause of the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and incalculable suffering. With such savage alacrity did,it carry out its object of protecting the interests of religion that between 1481 and 1808 it had punished three hundred and forty thousand persons, and of these, nearly 32,000 had been burnt.
"It is perfectly certain that the Catholic Church has taught, and still teaches that intellectual liberty is dangerous, that it should be forbidden. It was driven to take this position because it had taken another. It taught, and still teaches, that a certain belief is necessary to salvation. It has always known that investigation and inquiry led, or might lead, to doubt; that doubt leads, or may lead, to heresy, and that heresy leads to Hell. In other words, the Catholic Church has something more important than this world, more important than the well-being of man here. It regards this life as an opportunity for joining that Church, for accepting that creed, and for the saying of your soul. If the history of the world proves anything, it proves that the Catholic Church was for many centuries the most merciless institution that ever existed among men. We, too, know that the Catholic Church was, during all the years of its power, the enemy of every science. It preferred magic to medicine, relies to remedies, priests to physicians. It hated geologists, persecuted the chemists, and imprisoned the naturalists, and opposed every discovery of science calculated to improve the condition of mankind. There is no crime that the Catholic Church did not commit, no cruelty that it did not reward, and no virtue that it did not persecute. It was the greatest and most powerful enemy of human rights. In one hand, it carried an alms dish, and in the other, a dagger. It argued with the sword, persecuted with poison, and convicted with faggot." R. G. Ingersoll, "Rome or Reason."
"From the time of Newton to our own day, the divergence of science from the dogmas of the Church has steadily increased. The Church declared that the earth is the central and most important body in the Universe, that the sun and moon and stars are tributary to it. On these points she was worsted by astronomy. She affirmed that a universal deluge had covered the earth; that the only surviving animals were such as had been saved in the Ark. In this, her error was established by geology. She taught that there was a first man who, some 6000 or 8000 years ago, was suddenly created or called into existence in a condition of physical and moral perfection, and from that condition he fell. But anthropology has shown that human beings existed far back in geological time, and in a savage state but little better than that of the brute. . . . Convicted of so many .errors, the papacy makes no attempt at explanation. It ignores the whole matter. Nay, more, relying on the efficacy of audacity, although confronted by these facts, it lays claim to infallibility."
The persecutions of Bruno, Galileo, and Copernicus, together with the facts hitherto stated, did not impress the Martian with the "infallibility" of the Church. The only great spiritual power that could have interposed to prevent the outbreak of the World War was the papacy. Pope Pius X had his Nuncio admonish the Austrian emperor, but he failed even to get an audition from that old imbecile. The next Pope, Benedict XV, was under the influence of a majority of pro-German cardinals. He strove to remain neutral. He attempted to solace the Belgians with words, but he did not reprove the murderous invaders. He protested against the new and devilish methods of warfare but he did not condemn, he did not excommunicate those that used them. Had the papacy lost its much-used power of commanding kings and nations, and had it lost its greatest threat, a threat which hitherto could have thrown the masses of its adherents into a panic, the threat of excommunication? No, the papacy still blessed the banners of the armies, just as it did during the middle ages, and sent its adherents out to slaughter; but first took great care that the. minds of the devout be completely drugged with the poison of its creed. A creed that told its followers that do what you might, no matter how dastardly that act might be, so long as you repent and confess your sins, life everlasting will be the reward. What is the value of a church that has claimed the moral leadership of the world when such things can happen?
Now that the Martian has become acquainted with the three major religions which dominate the world, Judaism, Christianity, and Mohammedanism, and has been amazed and shocked at the significance of their teachings in the history of civilization, his curiosity is further aroused, and he decides to obtain some information of the respective personalities responsible for the amassing of devotees to these creeds, all "infallible," and all detrimental to progress. This time his interest leads him to ancient and contemporary sources, of a literal rather than verbal nature; sources dealing with the three most influential prophets in the history of mankind, Jesus, Moses, and Mohammed.