Hermann Marcus Kottinger.

The youth's liberal guide for their moral culture and religious enlightenment online

. (page 26 of 28)
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grant immortality to the animal souls. But, we do not doubt that animals are
mortal ; therefore man neither can be immortal.

Which objections do the advocates of the doctrine of immortality produce,
and how are they answered ?

They say : i. " Human soul is of spiritual, not material essence; therefore
it cannot be destroyed." But if soul is no species of matter, it has neither the
attributes of matter : it is neither partible, nor extensible, nor ponderable, nor
visible, etc., like that; but such a being is nothing at all. Think of the
innumerable quantity of souls, which since the creation of man (according to
this theory) must continue to exist! (85.)

2. " To think of our annihilation is unnatural, hurts our feelings, and con-
tradicts our desire , for every one wishes to live forever." (86.)

Man fosters still many other desires, of which many must remain unaccom-
plished ; therefore it is at least doubtful, if that wish for immortality will be
satisfied. He who does not believe in immortality, neither desires to be immor-


tal. (87.) The child, on its mother's arm, crying for the moon, ought on the
same principle to have its wish gratified.

3. "Many men are suffering innocently on earth, others live in abundance,
though they are sinners ; consequently there must follow another life, in which
to the first then must be recompense, to the last punishment dealt."

From this reason it would not follow that all, but only that several men had
to live on after death ; and even these must therefore not be immortal; suffice
it, if they continue to exist as long, until they will have received the right
measure of their deserved recompense and punisnment. •* The compensation of
a future life comes too late, for it heals the sick man only after he has died ; it
refreshes the thirsty, after they have perished ; it feeds the hungry, when they
are already starved." (88.) Besides, according to this argument, many animals,
too, would be entitled to be immortal, for many of them, especially of the do-
mestic, must veiy often innocently endure human roughness and cruelty.

4. " The human mind develops from the lowest degree of cultu'-e to an aston-
ishing perfection: therefore it must be everlasting, in order to evolve itself more
and more.''

We do no^ know to what degree mental culture may advance, but certainly
not infinitely ; on the contrary, it decreases in old age, as it has been observed
in the greatest scholars; e.g., Kant, the eminent German philosopher, grew,
when being old, so childish that he crept again on all fours ; and Newton did
not understand any more his own mathematical works which he, when younger,
had composed. Ought we after death to be seated again on the school-benches ?

5. " All people believe in the immortality of soul."

They do not all. The Jews were ignorant of this doctrine before the captivity
in Babylon ; and one Jewish sect, the Sadducees, rejected it entirely hereafter ;
neither do the millions of votaries of Confutse and Buddha confess it. Among
the educated Greeks and Romans, too, many individuals, and several philosophic
schools refused to believe in it. So also in modern times, many respectable,
celebrated men deny the belief in it. (90.) Are the Christians really believing
in immortality ? No ! Proof of it is the fact that they dislike to die as much
as infidels, and endeavor to conserve this life as long as they can.

6. " If men do not believe in mimortality, sins and crimes are more likely to
result." It is only the few who would be retained from doing evil by it; or if
not so, there would not be so many sinners and criminals among Christians.
Nay, many commit the more sins, because they believe that they can yet secure
their salvation, if they confess and repent their sins in the last moment of their
life ; for Jesus promised paradise to the crucified murderer. To be sure, his blood
purifies all sinners. This doctrine makes Jesus a scapegoat for rascality and
wickedness. The thief, the robber, and the murderer, may go straight to heaven,
and cheat the devil out of his dues, by repentance at the last moment. Man who


shuns sin only for fear of hell, and only does his duty for love of heaven, is
greedy of gain, and not truly virtuous.

7. " Men will indulge in the basest sensual enjoyments."

They will not do so, because they know that in this way they would act against
the higher demands of their nature, and render themselves unhappy, as every
folly and vice is punished by itself. (Cf. Morals, ^,^ 3, 8 and 9.) Besides most
crimes are detected and punished. (91.)

8. " The belief in immortality ci^mforts children and parents ; the first, if
their parents, the latter, if their children die."

It cannot help children to meet again their parents after death, for they want
them in this life ; and for the parents the loss of good children is a misfortune
lasting as long as their life.

Which other bad sequels causes the belief in immortality?

He who is constantly contemplating imaginary glories of another world, is not
the man to give us great discoveries and inventions, or to take a lively interest
in the affairs of this world.

How ought we to consider the earth, because human life is transient ?

We ought to consider it as our home, and to transform it to a paradise.

How can this be done ?

In this way that we earn some fortune by industry and parsimony ; ihat we
enjoy wisely the life, and that by virtue and humanity we make ourselves and
others happy.

What ought to be the unique and general aim of our life ?

Our mutual welfare, " The time to be happy is now, and the way to be happy
is to make others so. This is enough for us. In this belief we are content to
live and die." — Ingersoll."^

§ 21. Heaven and Hell.

What are heaven and hell ?

According to Christian doctrine, heaven and hell are places where men after
this life are forever recompensed or punished.

How did this superstition originate ?

From the erroneous idea which men had formed of the movement of the
earth and sun; namely, that the latter revolved around the former, and that the
earth was a perfect plane.

Where was heaven and hell located, according to their opinion ?

They represented heaven to be above, and hell below the earth.

When did this superstition lose its support?

Since Copernicus proved that the earth is revolving around the sun.

Where has superstition since removed heaven to ?

To the large space of the Universe or to some star. (92.)

*" For the rest, he who can and will, or rather must believe in an eternal life, may do so, under
the blessing of God ; but he ought to permit also others to believe the contrary." — L. Feuerbac'i.


What results plainly from these opinions regarding heaven and hell ?

That they are totally erroneous ; for they are ridiculous, revolting and con-
tradicting each other; e. g., the Indian, when thinking of heaven, means large
hunting-grounds, where he can freely ramble and find an abundance of game.
The ancient German hoped to drink in his Walhalla plenty of beer and mead.
The Mohammedan deems heaven to be a paradise, a flourishing country, in
which every kind of enjoyment is waiting for him, and the Christians call hell
the place in which eternal fire burns in order to torment the damned for ever.

What other article of Christian faith is gainsaid by the belief in hell ?

The article of faith which teaches that God is the holiest, kindest and merci-
ful being, the father of all men.

§ 22. The Evil in the World.

What do people often complain of?

They complain of the many evils, which happen on earth ; they call earth the
abode of misery, and hope for a blissful future life.
What answer can be returned to such complaints ?

1 . Many things are regarded as evils which really are not, or appear to be
greater than they are. E. g., for a long time they believed that ihunderstorms
were a chastisement, inflicted by God for human sins ; but natural science de-
monstrates that generally they are beneficent. The agony of a dying person
seems to signify dreadful sufferings, but in most cases the senses are stunned be-
fore man dies.

2. The sum of joys outweighs or equipoises that of sufferings in human life,
like the number of bright days during the year is larger than that of the tem-
pestuous and dull ones, or equal to them.

3. Man himself causes many of his evils by his follies and vices, e. g., the
most diseases, the ravages of war, etc. (Cf. Morals | 8.)

4. Human nature has only few true wants, and these can be easily satisfied.
Even the poor is not destitute of all enjoyments : hunger seasons his frugal re-
past ; a tranquil sleep strengthens his tired limbs, and permanent health is the
reward of his troublesome labor, " There are only two real boons of human
life : good health and a clear conscience." — J. J. Rousseau.

5. Sundry evils are a necessary and salutary effect of natural laws; e.g.,
the heat of summer is annoying ; but it ripens grains and fruits. Hunger is a
disagreeable sensation ; but nature admonishes us by it to provide for food. But
for the sting of hunger we should not think of providing food, and so always
be in danger to lose life.

6. Nature teaches us prudence by sufferings, warns us by them against
greater evils, and urges us to improve our condition by efforts and struggle.
The child which burnt its finger, will be more cautious in the use of fire. He
who has fallen sick from intemperance, is thereby warned to take better care fur


his health. Nations smarting under the lash of tyranny, learn to fight for their
liberty. Want is the mother of inventions,

7. " Perhaps all our pleasures take their zest from the known possibility of
their interruption. What were the glories of the sun, if we knew not the gloom
of darkness? What the refreshing breezes of morning and evening, if we felt
not the fervors of noon ? Should we value the lovely tiower, if it bloomed eter-
nally ; or the luscious fruit if it hung always on the bough?" (93.)

8. Virtue is joined to sacrifices and afflictions ; but it affords us the delights
of a clear conscience. By this sentirhent the fetters become easier to the captive
patriot; by it a tender mother stands every privation; she loves her children.
In this way every good action is rewarded by itself.

9. If the afflictions of fate cannot be remedied, man can at least blunt, if
not avoid the sting of pain by quiet resignation and patience. True heroism is
tested by afflictions.

10. As long as we entertain hope, and desire to conserve our life, our adver-
sity has not yet reached its acme ; for the worst chance nature itself has thrown
open to us many ports of egression : but who is to decide, when this chance is at
hand ?

11. Even death is not the heaviest evil which can befall us. All men must
once die : that's nature's universal law. But what nature has destined to all,
cannot be an evil. The wisest and best of our kin have gone before us. We
arrived unconsciously on earth, and in the same way we depart from it. " While
we are, death is not, and while death is, we are not." — Epicurus. " It is our
duty to meet death with ready minds, neither regretting the past, nor anxious
for the future.'' — Epicurus. If the power of our body is exhausted by age or
disease, its primitive constituents must necessarily be dissolved ; ought a miracle
be worked for our sake ? Of what use would an immortal body be to us, if it
were weak and sickly from old age ? Do we desire to walk with it eternally on
earth ?

"Virtue Alone is Happiness Below."

Shall burning ^-Etna, if a sage requires.

Forget to thunder, and recall her fires ?

When the loose mountain trembles from on high.

Shall gravitation cease, if you go by ?

Whatever is, is right. — This world, 'tis true.

Was made for Ccesar — but for Titus, too ;

And which more bless'd ? who chain'd his country, say,

Or he whose virtues sighed to loose a day?*

" But sojuetimes virtue starves, while vice is fed."

What then ? Is the reward of virtue bread?

♦One evening, as Titus remembered that he had not conferred a benefit upon any man : he
exclaimed : " My friends, I have lost a day !"


What nothing earthly gives or can destroy,

The soul's calm sunshine, and the heart-felt joy.

Is virtue's prize : a better would you fix ?

Then give humility a coach and six,

Justice a conqueror's sword, or truth a gown,

Or public spirit its great cure — a crown. —

Judges and Senates have been bought for gold ;

Esteem and love were never to be sold. —

Fortune in men has some small difterence made,

One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade ;

The cobbler apron'd, and the parson gown'd,

The friar hooded, and the monarch crown' d !

" What differ more (you cry) than crown and cowl ?"

I'll tell you, friend ! a wise man and a fool.

You'll find, if once the monarch acts the monk,

Or, cobbler-like, the parson will be drunk,

Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow ;

1 he rest is all but leather or prunella. —

Who noble ends, by noble means obtains.

Or failing smiles in exile or in chains.

Like good Aurelius l«t him reign, or bleed

Like Socrates, that man is great indeed. —

Know then this truth, (enough for man to know) :

Viritie alone is happiness belozv.

— Alex. Pope, Essay on Man, ep. /^th, v. v. 123 — 310,


(i.) " Force is not a pushing god, not a being separated from the material
foundation of things; it is the inseparable quality of matter, inherent to it from
eternity." — Moleschott. " Matter and force are two names of the one artist, who
fashions the living as well as the lifeless." — Huxley, Lay Sermons, p. 262.

(2.) " Where from is nature? It is from and by itself; it has no beginning,
and no end. Beginning and end of the Universe are human conceptions which
man transfers to nature, because he begins and ends his existence in a definite
time." — Lud. Feuerbach.

(3,) Realism (materialism) is in the territory of natural science already so
naturalized that no natural philosopher or chemist, no mineralogist or astronomer
ever lakes it into his head to gaze at the efficacy of a creator in the obvious

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Online LibraryHermann Marcus KottingerThe youth's liberal guide for their moral culture and religious enlightenment → online text (page 26 of 28)