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The people, then, are taught by the priests to worship nonentity, that is, nothing; what is the difference between those who worship nothing, and atheists ? there is no difference; all such come under the denomination of atheists. The atheism of the priests is the most disgusting, because it is redundant with chicanery; the atheism of their dupes is almost as disgusting, from the stupidity that characterizes it. This atheism that I have pointed out may be called supernaturalism, or priestcraft, it is the only sort of atheism. From it all the evils under which the human race have so long groaned have resulted; the attention of the people has been detracted from the Almighty, and acquaintanceship with Deity has not been sought after by them; the truly religious man, the philosopher, has always been persecuted by fanatic atheists for his religion's sake; often has he been dragged to the stake and burnt by them; the belief in all sorts of monstrous folly has been engendered; from the personifications of the Persian and Hindoo priests resulted the belief in ghosts, fairies, &c.; from the Jewish priests came witchcraft and the burning of its vast multitude of unfortunate victims. From the atheism of the priests comes sectarian superstition, hatred, persecution, murder, and strife, gross ignorance, bad social arrangements, and depravity and misery of every kind; all the moral evil that exists now, or ever has existed, is attributable to the atheism of the priests.
I have said that the atheism of the priests, that is, the positive worship of nonentity, is the only atheism; it is said, however, that there is a negative kind of atheism, which consists in the denial of Deity, I beg to say that no one can deny the Universal Cause; so that the only atheism is the positive kind.
It may be said that the priests should be called idolators, inasmuch as they worship rhetorical illusions, to this I answer that they do not worship the illusions, they do not worship the notions excited in their heads, but a nonentity in the clouds. If they worshipped anything, even though it be a thought, they would come under the
denomination of idolaters; but, they offer positive worship to a nothing, and hence are positive atheists.
Any one who will take the trouble of looking into theological writings, will find the Deity described as a person inhabiting a certain place, sitting on a throne, &c. Then the pronoun“he,” is used to represent the Deity; thus, with the most blasphemous obscenity imputing sexuality to God; then such phrases as “God's face,” “God's hands,” “ God's right arm,” “ God's back parts” “ God came,” “God went,” “God walked,” “God spoke,” &c., are to be found, together with a variety of others, all expressly calculated to suggest notions of an animal: the dissenters' hymn books in particular teem with descriptions of a man in the clouds. The mass of the people have long been duped into this notion; for my own part, I must confess that I was educated to it, and it was not till latterly, that I have been made exactly aware of my error, and the means by which I had been so grossly and outrageously imposed upon.
During the period of the dominancy of the French Radicals or Jacobins, the French people being made aware that the priests had been wont to cheat them, turned on their theological teachers with that rage which characterizes the ignorant man, who has just discovered that a wily knave, a sly cheat, has been acting on his feelings, for the purpose of duping him. The priests lost their old trade, and I suppose to get a new one, Gobet, Bishop of Paris,came before the public and apologised for himself and his clergy having taught what he and they knew to be a mass of falsehood and priestcraft, disowned the God he had taught the people to worship, and devoted himself to the worship of Reason, Liberty, Equality, Virtue and Morality. By this piece of priestly ability, the notions most vividly excited in the heads of the people, became personified, and the supposititious persons, Reason, Equality, Virtue, Liberty and Morality, were worshipped as entities. Thus the people were cleverly twisted into another system of atheistical priestcraft. Statues were erected to the new gods and goddesses, and personification producing its usual illusions, numbers of devout worshippers were to be seen publicly adoring them.* The people can never be independent of the priest, till they understand the illusiveness of personification.
Under the general term excitement, I have included both the Universal Spirit, and the animal spirit, and there is much evidence in favour of the supposition of the resemblance between them; as for instance, first, the connexion between the phenomena of consciousness, electricity, and heat. A vivid excitement of thought produces a burning sensation in the brain, and we often hear the expression of “burning thoughts;" vivid feelings, in like manner, heat the chest, we hear of the The Spirit of Nature unites the two circuits of watery circulation, the celestial, and the terestrial one, and manifesting itself in what is called gravity, moves them back towards the sea, in form of the gurgling runlet, the foaming mountain torrent, and the broad and placid river. The Spirit of Nature forms suns, and worlds, and systems of worlds, produces the minute material motions, by which the animal is formed in the womb, and the vegetable from the seed, and moves and guides the still more minute motions by which the beauteous and lustrous, forms of crystals are created.
glow of passion," "fiery anger," " burning shame,” “heart scalding," &c. The presence in the nervous system of excitement, similar to electricity, is known as a physiological fact; during the presence of these excitements in the brain, the phenomena of consciousness are produced; take the heat away, or check the electrical excitement, by stopping the circulation of the blood, and consciousness immediately disappears. From this we might say that there is a connection between these excitements, and, for ought we know, they are all modifications of the same spirit. There is adaptation or design throughout all nature, and the power by which this design is evinced is spiritual excitement, such as electricity, heat, &c. The design which characterizes the Universal Spirit is, however, distinguished from that resulting from animal consciousness by its vast superiority. The one power moves and guides the planets in their courses, the atmosphere in its windy motions, the ocean's tides, the vapour arising from its surface, which forms the rain cloud, is moved towards the land, and tumbled down upon the plain in fertilizing showers; also, the minute streams that leave the ocean's bed, and percolating through the bowels of the earth, get cleansed of their saline particles, and then move upwards, and burst into the glorious sunlight, in the form of bubbling fountains.
* Vide Hist. of the French Revolution.
Man, actuated by spirit, which is excited in him by Deity, manufactures watches, steam engines, and a variety of ingenious machinery and apparatus; the lower animals exhibit much design, instance the monkey, elephant, birds, bees, ants, &c. The microscopic philosophers tell us of multitudes of busy animate beings existing in almost everything; even in our blood as it circulates through us. Close as is the general resemblance between the Universal Spirit and animal consciousness, there is still evidently a specific difference, the former being vastly the superior in power, and its impulses always being consistent, most distinctly distinguish it from mind or consciousness, one of the attributes of which is error; it is therefore proper, in our present state of ignorance respecting the precise nature of the divine guiding and impelling powers, to use the general term Spirit, to signify them, instead of dogmatically assuming what cannot be shewn.
The Deity, that wondrous being that is manifested in every thing, the which we cannot open our eyes and not behold in all before us, is unrecognized by the mass; but still men have a notion of a causal adequacy; the argument which is in general use, to what theologians call "prove" the existence of Deity, is the following absurd enthymeme;
Every thing that is, is the effect of a cause;
Therefore there is something which is not the effect of a cause.
I hope the time will shortly arrive, when, instead of
such nonsense as this being talked, the teachers of the people, when referring to Deity, will point to nature, and say “Behold the Omnipresent!"
The “Science of Consciousness” shews very plainly that the moralists have “done the things they ought not to have done, and left undone those things that they ought to have done.” Restraint, when used with respect to any impulse, tends to increase its power; the moralists set out to decrease the power of man's vicious impulses, and to do so they resort to restraint, and instead of decreasing vice they have increased it, till the land is filled with crime and misery. The principle of restraint is an erroneous one, as long as it is made the basis of the means for social security, evil must abound. All the laws by which man has been restrained have only tended to vitiate him, and immorality and unhappiness are far more abundant where laws and lawyers exist than where such are unknown.
The moralists have paid but little attention to human nature, and its relationship to the organization of society, and the present system is founded in utter ignorance of both. Such is its absurd constitution, that each man is personally interested in injuring his fellow creatures ; his individual interests are made to oppose the interests of all; the monarch is interested in keeping the people in subjection; the leaders of the different political parties are interested in the subjugation of their opponents; the clergy are interested in keeping the people in ignorance; the soldier's toast, “ bloody war, sickly disease, and speedy promotion,” indicates his peculiar interest and morality; the lawyer is interested in the promotion of civil strife; the medical professor in the increase of disease; the landholder and farmer in the high price of food; and the working people are interested in getting riddance of their non-productive burden, and often endeavour to do so by the bloody violence of riot and revolution. If the constitutors of society were fitted for their work, by the possession of proper knowledge and feeling, the individual and general interest would be united, and the causes of immoral action done away with.