store-house of the heresy of such scholars will give the reader some
idea of the extent of the surrender which Christianity has made to the
forces of Rationalism. It must be premised that space will permit of the
conclusions only being given, without the detailed evidence by which
they are supported.
Let us begin with our supposed first parents. Is the story of Adam and
Eve a true story? There are, we are told, decisive reasons why we cannot
regard it as historical, and probably the writer himself never supposed
he was relating history.[K]
The Creation story originated in a stock of primitive myths common to
the Semitic races, and passed through a long period of development
before it was incorporated in the book of Genesis. If, then, it is the
fact, as Christian scholars assert, that this story of the Creation
originated in a pagan myth, and was shaped and altered by unknown hands
for nearly a thousand years, it is nothing more nor less than
superstition to hold that it is divinely true.
As for the Old Testament patriarchs, we now learn that their very
existence is uncertain. The tradition concerning Abraham is, as it
stands, inadmissible; he is not so much a historical personage as an
ideal type of character, whose actual existence is as doubtful as that
of other heroes. All the stories of the patriarchs are legendary.
The whole book of Genesis, in fact, is not history at all, as we
understand history. Exodus is another composite legend which has long
been mistaken for history.
The historical character of Moses has not been established, and it is
doubtful whether the name is that of an individual or that of a clan.
The story of his being exposed in an ark of bulrushes is a myth probably
derived from the similar and much earlier myth of Sargon.[L]
Turning to the New Testament, we find that modern critical research only
brings out more clearly than ever the extraordinary vagueness and
uncertainty which enshroud every detail of the narrative. From the
article on "Chronology" we learn that everything in the Gospels is too
uncertain to be accepted as historical fact. There are numerous
questions which it is "wholly impossible to decide". We do not know when
Jesus was born, or when he died, or who was his father, or what was the
duration of his ministry. As these are matters on which the Gospel
writers purport to give information, the fact of their failure to do so
settles the question of their competency as historians.
The supposed supernatural birth of Jesus has of late exercised the minds
of theologians. It is not surprising that some of them should reject the
notion, for it is one without a shred of evidence in its favor. Setting
aside the well-known fact that many other religions assume a similar
origin for their founders, we may note the New Testament accounts are in
such hopeless conflict with each other that reconciliation is
The important subject of the "Resurrection" is treated by Professor P.
W. Schmiedel, of Zurich, who tells us that the Gospel accounts "exhibit
contradictions of the most glaring kind".
The article on the Gospels by Dr. E. A. Abbott and Professor Schmiedel
is crammed with criticism of a kind most damaging to every form of the
orthodox faith. The view hitherto current, that the four Gospels were
written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and appeared thirty or forty
years after the death of Jesus, can, it is stated, no longer be
The alleged eclipse of the sun at the Crucifixion is impossible. One of
the orthodox shifts respecting this phenomenon is that it was an eclipse
of the moon!
Modern criticism decides that no confidence whatever can be placed in
the reliability of the Gospels as historical narratives, or in the
chronology of the events which they relate. It may even seem to justify
a doubt whether any credible elements at all are to be found in them.
Yet it is believed that some such credible elements do exist. Five
passages prove by their character that Jesus was a real person, and that
we have some trustworthy facts about him. These passages are: Matthew
xii. 31, Mark x. 17, Mark iii. 21, Mark xiii. 32, and Mark xv. 34, and
the corresponding passage in Matthew xxvii. 46, though these last two
are not found in Luke. Four other passages have a high degree of
probability - viz., Mark viii. 12, Mark vi. 5, Mark viii. 14-21, and
Matthew xi. 5, with the corresponding passage in Luke vii. 22. These
texts, however, disclose nothing of a supernatural character. They
merely prove that in Jesus we have to do with a completely human being,
and that the divine is to be sought in him only in the form in which it
is capable of being found in all men.[M]
The four Gospels were compiled from earlier materials which have
perished, and the dates when they first appeared in their present form
are given as follows: - Mark, certainly after the destruction of
Jerusalem in the year 70; Matthew, about 119 A. D.; Luke, between 100
and 110; and John, between 132 and 140.
The question of the genuineness of the Pauline Epistles, is now far from
being so clear as was once universally supposed. Advanced criticism,
Professor Van Manen tells us in his elaborate article on "Paul", has
learned to recognize that none of these Epistles are by him, not even
the four generally regarded as unassailable. They are not letters to
individuals, but books or pamphlets emanating from a particular school.
We know little, in reality, of the facts of Paul's life, or of his
death: all is uncertain. The unmistakable traces of late origin indicate
that the Epistles probably did not appear till the second century.
The strange book of Revelation is not of purely Christian origin.
Criticism has clearly shown that it can no longer be regarded as a
literary unit, but it is an admixture of Jewish with Christian ideas and
speculations. Ancient testimony, that of Papias in particular, assumed
the Presbyter John, and not the Apostle, as its author or redactor.
The Epistles of Peter, James and Jude are none of them held to be the
work of the Apostles. They probably first saw the light in the second
century; the second Epistle of Peter may even belong to the latter half
of that period.
All the above conclusions are summarized, as nearly as may be, in the
words of the authors of the respective articles. Their significance is
surely enormous. Right or wrong, eminent Christian scholars here
proclaim results in complete antagonism to the ideas usually accepted as
forming the true basis of the Christian faith. They amount, in fact, to
a complete and unconditional surrender of the whole dogmatic framework
which has hitherto been held as divinely revealed, and therefore
Thomas Paine was a Deist. As such he believed that nature may be
compared with a clock and God with its maker. As the clock maker, under
normal conditions, has but little to do with his handiwork, so it has
been with the Creator and his universe. The theists of every name
(Christian, Jew, Mohammedan and Buddhist), not to speak of others,
believe that the universe, with all which therein is, lives, moves and
has its being as the result of the willings of their respective gods.
Though I have my god, indeed two gods, one god in the world of my
physical existence - a trinity: matter, force and motion, and another god
in the world of my moral existence - a trinity: fact, truth and life, yet
if the rejection of both deism and theism is atheism, I am an atheist.
But assuming for the sake of argument that there is a conscious personal
being who has had and is having something to do with making things what
they are, I set my seal to this arraignment:
Of all the systems of religion that were ever invented, there is
none more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more
repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself, than this
thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to
convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart
torpid, or produces only atheists and fanatics. As an engine of
power, it serves the purpose of despotism and as a means of wealth,
the avarice of priests; but for the good of mankind it leads to
nothing here or hereafter.
- Thomas Paine.
William Rathbone Greg in his Creed of Christendom says that much of the
Old Testament which Christian divines, in their ignorance of Jewish
lore, have insisted on receiving and interpreting literally, the
informed Rabbis never dreamed of regarding as anything but allegorical.
The literalists they called fools.
Origen and Augustine, the two greatest men which Christianity has
produced, would agree with Greg in this. We have already quoted the
motto of this section from Origen, and we will now quote this from
It very often happens that there is some question as to the earth
or the sky, or the other elements of this world, respecting which
one who is not a Christian has knowledge derived from most certain
reasoning or observation, and it is very disgraceful and
mischievous and of all things to be carefully avoided, that a
Christian, speaking of such matters as being according to the
Christian Scriptures, should be heard by an unbeliever talking such
nonsense that the unbeliever, perceiving him to be as wide from the
mark as east from west, can hardly restrain himself from laughing.
[K] But if Adam and Eve are not historical personages there is no
doctrine of supernaturalistic Christianism resting on the solid ground
of facts and the whole of its immense dogmatic structure is floating in
the air of theories and myths. - Author.
[L] It is questionable whether such persons as Samson, Jonah and Daniel
ever lived, but it is certain that their adventures are as mythical as
anything in Aesop's Fables. - Author.
[M] But these nine texts which for some years were often triumphantly
pointed to as the pillars upon which securely rested the historicalness
of Jesus as a man are now lying in the dust where the learned and
brilliant Professor William Benjamin Smith of Tulane University put them
by his great contribution to the Christological problem in a book,
entitled Ecce Deus in which he, as I think, proves conclusively that the
Jesus of the New Testament never was a real man but always an imaginary
god, the Christian recasting of the Jewish God, a new Jehovah. - Author.
IV. WOULD SOCIALISM CHANGE HUMAN NATURE?
Fear not the tyrants shall rule for ever,
Or the priests of the bloody Faith:
They stand on the brink of that mighty river
Whose waves they have tainted with death,
It is fed from the depths of a thousand dells,
Around them it foams and rages and swells,
And their swords and their scepters I floating see
Like wrecks in the surge of eternity.
My revolt against the existing capitalist system of economics and the
capitalized political and religious systems which support it is
complete, and the end which I have in view in this booklet is that of
primitive Christianism, as it is taught by Mary in the Magnificat, the
putting down of the owning masters of the world and the exaltation of
the working slaves, only that I do not recommend, as she did, that the
masters should be banished to starve but rather that they should be
allowed to become producers and to live then as such, not as robbers, as
they now live.
This is bolshevism. It is not anarchy, but a new dictatorship instead of
the old, that of the proletariat in place of the bourgeoisie. But this
dictatorship (though necessary during the period of transition from the
capitalist system, by which commodities are made only for the profit of
a few to an industrial system by which they will be made only for use of
the many) is not the goal of socialism. Its goal is a classless world - a
world in which all who are able to work shall directly or at least
indirectly contribute their due proportion, according to their abilities
and opportunities, towards feeding, clothing, housing and educating it.
Perhaps the truest thing in the Bible relates to the utterly corrupt
condition of civilization, nor was it ever truer than now, and it always
must be equally true while the world is divided into master and slave
classes under the dictatorship of the masters:
The whole head is sick and the whole heart faint. From the sole of
the foot even unto the head, there is no soundness in it, but
wounds and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been
closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
Capitalism and Socialism differ fundamentally in that the former always
has sought and always will seek to exercise a permanent dictatorship,
whereas that of the latter is to constitute the temporary bridge over
which the world is to pass from the economic system under which
commodities are competitively made for the profit of the few, to the
economic system under which they will be co-operatively made for the use
of the many.
It is contended with much show of reason that the dictatorship of the
proletariat will not lead to the goal, because human nature being what
it is the slaves will automatically develop into another class of
But those who raise this contention proceed upon the assumption that
human nature is a constant quantity so that it cannot be essentially
changed and that it has made the economic systems, what they have been.
This is not the case. Human nature, like animal nature, is constantly
changing and neither the one nor the other voluntarily changes itself,
but both are forced to change by the development of new and external
conditions and by the necessity of conformity to them.
Professor Joseph McCabe, not a socialist, observes that these
developments and conformities were so many revolutions and that the man
who says, the secret of progress is evolution, not revolution, may be
talking very good social philosophy but he is not talking science, as he
thinks. In every modern geological work you read of periodical
revolutions in the story of the earth, and these are the great ages of
progress - and, I ought to add, of colossal annihilation of the less fit.
Darwin discovered that animal nature changed (for example snake nature
changed into bird nature) because of changed physical environments and
the necessity of life to adaptation to them.
Marx discovered that human nature changed from what it was during the
period of chatteldom to what it was during serfdom and from that to what
it is under capitalism by reason of the difference in the economic
systems of these periods by which the world fed, clothed and housed
itself and that these differences are in turn accounted for by the
differences in the machines by which the necessities of life are
Thus Darwin explained the history of animal life without the hypothesis
of a divine creator, and Marx explained the history of mankind without
the hypothesis either of a divine ruler or human leaders. These
Darwinian and Marxian explanations constitute what is known as the
materialistic explanation of history.
Marx represented that capitalism would end the class struggle and issue
in a classless world because its profiteering system of production and
distribution could not be succeeded by another, since it divides mankind
into masters who are ever growing less numerous and slaves who are ever
growing more numerous, without the possibility of those who are half
capitalists and half workers rising out of their nondescript condition
into a new master class, as did the bourgeoisie under feudalism. For
these reasons he contended the proletarian slaves would become the grave
diggers for the bourgeois masters and so end capitalism with the burial
of its representatives.
But with the complete and sustained triumph of the proletarian class the
bourgeois class will rapidly pass away, as is now the case with it in
Russia, and a classless world will be born to live on a co-operative
instead of a competitive basis, in a heaven instead of a hell.
V. WHAT WILL BE THE FORM OF THE WORKERS' STATE.
Hail Soviet Russia, the first Communist Republic, the land of, by
and for the common people. We greet you, workers and peasants of
Russia, who by your untold sacrifices, by your determination and
devotion, are transforming the Russia of black reaction, of the
domination of a few, into a land of glorious promise for all.
Comrades in America, watch the bright dawn in the East; you have
but your chains to lose, and a world to gain! - The Workers'
In general outline the form of the workers' state will be that of the
Russian Soviet Republic, and what it is will appear from the following
semi-official description, the briefest and clearest of any which I have
seen. Its authorship is unknown to me but I know it to be the work of a
committee of which Zinoviev, one of the directing and inspiring minds of
the proletarian movement in Russia, was a member, and it may be that he
is the author. Anyhow it is a recently published, authoritative classic
containing the information for which a large part of the world has been
We have before us the example of the Russian Soviet Republic, whose
structure, in view of the conflicting reports printed in other
countries, it may be useful to describe briefly here.
The unit of government is the local Soviet, or Council, of
Workers', Red Army, and Peasants' Deputies.
The city Workers' Soviet is made up as follows: Each factory elects
one delegate for a certain number of workers, and each local union
also elects delegates. These delegates are elected according to
political parties - or, if the workers wish it, as individual
The Red Army delegates are chosen by military units.
For the peasants, each village has its local Soviet, which sends
delegates to the Township Soviet, which in turn elects to the
County Soviet, and this to the Provincial Soviet.
Nobody who employs labor for profit can vote.
Every six months the City and Provincial Soviets elect delegates to
the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, which is the supreme governing
body of the country. This Congress decides upon the policies which
are to govern the country for six months, and then elects a Central
Executive Committee of two hundred, which is to carry out these
policies. The Congress also elects the Cabinet - The Council of
People's Commissars, who are heads of Government Departments - or
The People's Commissars can be recalled at any time by the Central
Executive Committee. The members of all Soviets can be recalled
very easily, and at any time, by their constituents.
These Soviets are not only Legislative bodies, but also Executive
organs. Unlike your Congress, they do not make the laws and leave
them to the President to carry out, but the members carry out the
laws themselves; and there is no Supreme Court to say whether or
not these laws are "constitutional."
Between the All-Russian Congresses of Soviets the Central Executive
Committee is the supreme power in Russia. It meets at least every
two months, and in the meanwhile, the Council of People's
Commissars directs the country, while the members of the Central
Executive Committee go to work in the various government
In Russia the workers are organized in Industrial Unions all the
workers in each industry belonging to one Union. For example, in a
factory making metal products, even the carpenters and painters are
members of the Metal Workers' Union. Each factory is a local
Union, and the Shop Committee elected by the workers is its
The All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the federated Unions
is elected by the annual Trade Union Convention. A Scale Committee
elected by the Convention fixes the wages of all categories of
With very few exceptions, all important factories in Russia have
been nationalized, and are now the property of all the workers in
common. The business of the Unions is therefore no longer to fight
the capitalists, but to run industry.
Hand in hand with the Unions works the Department of Labor of the
Soviet Government, whose chief is the People's Commissar of Labor,
elected by the Soviet Congress with the approval of the Unions.
In charge of the economic life of the country is the elected
Supreme Council of People's Economy, divided into departments, such
as, Metal Department, Chemical Department, etc., each one headed by
experts and workers, appointed, with the approval of the Union by
the Supreme Council of People's Economy.
In each factory production is carried on by a committee consisting
of three members: a representative of the Shop Committee of the
Unions, a representative of the Central Executive of the Unions,
and a representative of the Supreme Council of People's Economy.
The Unions are thus a branch of the government - and this government
is the most highly centralized government that exists.
It is also the most democratic government in history. For all the
organs of government are in constant touch with the working masses,
and constantly sensitive to their will. Moreover, the local Soviets
all over Russia have complete autonomy to manage their own local
affairs, provided they carry out the national policies laid down by
the Soviet Congress. Also, the Soviet Government represents only
the workers, and cannot help but act in the workers' interests.
The motto of this section is the conclusion of a good article in the
first number of one among the best of the periodicals devoted to the
promotion of Marxism, The Workers' Council, published by the
International Educational Company, New York City. This article is so
short and lends itself so naturally as a supplement to the foregoing
explanation of the new economic system which has been established and is
being developed in Russia that I quote the rest as the conclusion of
this section about Sovietism.
Communist Russia, the Russia of the common people, marks a new
epoch in the world's history. It marks a basic change in the
structure of human society. Up to this time society lived under the
rule of the few, under the rule of the class which possessed the
wealth of the country. The methods were different at different
periods in the world's history, but the results were the same:
riches and power for the few, a bare existence and endless toil for
the many. The slaves, the serfs, or the wage workers of today, who
compose the masses of the people, have ever been the hewers of wood
and the carriers of water, the beasts of burden on whose backs
sported and fattened kings and nobles, landlords and capitalists.
They who possessed wealth had the power. And they passed laws to
protect that power, to make the possession of wealth a social
institution. Private property was enthroned and every striving of
mankind was subjected to the rule of property. Thence grew the
exploitation of man by man for private profit, and all abuses
resulting therefrom; fear of loss of property, care of possession,
dread of the future, fear of loss of employment, envy and greed.
Human society was ruled by property grabbers; masters, kings,
capitalists, providing toil, disease, war for the masses of
mankind. That is the rule of capitalism, and cannot be otherwise.
But under communism, profit is abolished, and with it the exploitation
of man by man; private property is no longer a factor in the life of
man; property becomes universal, all natural and created wealth belong
to society, to every member of the community, as secure a birth right as
air and sunlight. Everybody's measured work provides a common fund of
things to satisfy material needs, today, tomorrow and in years to come.
There can be no fear of losing one's job, of seeing one's children
starve, of the poor-house in old age. As sure as the sun will rise on
the morrow, man is secure of his bread, his shelter and clothing. Man is
freed from animal cares, free to develop his human qualities, his