determination are limited. The infinite consciousness, personality and
determination which are postulated of gods are contradictions.
Of all beings man possesses most of consciousness, personality and
determination. What he has of these is not dependent upon gods, but all
they have of them is dependent upon him. Divine beings are, as to their
self-consciousness, personality and determination, human beings
personified and placed in the sky. Man does everything for gods. They do
nothing for him.
Such are the facts and arguments based upon them, which have forced me
step by step over the long way from the position of supernaturalistic
traditionalism in its Christian form, still occupied by you, to that of
naturalistic scientism in its socialist form which I am now occupying,
as tentatively as possible, pending further study in the light of
additional facts, for which (some six years ago, when I was desperately
battling to prevent the shipwreck of my faith in the god and heaven of
orthodox Christianity) I appealed to about 800 outstanding theologians,
among them yourself, representing all parts of christendom and every
great church, including of course all our bishops among the theologians,
and the Anglican communion among the churches.
You may remember how much of correspondence we had at that time, though
neither you nor any one who kindly tried to reach me with the rope of
the new scientific apologetics for which I appealed, can realize how
eagerly I looked for the replies to my questions, nor the sickness of
heart which I experienced when I saw that, in spite of every possible
effort of my own and help of others, I was slowly but surely drifting
towards what I then thought to be the fatal whirlpools and rocks, but
what I now regard as a sheltered port - the golden gate of that
delectable country, Marxian socialism, the only heaven that I am now
hoping to behold.
You earnestly contend that I am wrong in representing that the majority
of outstanding men of science and scientific philosophers do not believe
in the existence of a conscious, personal divinity, who created,
sustains and governs the universe, or in a conscious, personal life for
man beyond the grave, and that none among such scientists and
philosophers are orthodox Christians.
Prof. Leuba, the Bryn Mawr psychologist, is one among my authorities for
these representations. In his "Belief in God and Immortality" (1916) he
exhibits the results of a recent and thorough-going investigation in a
chart from which it appears that, taking the greater and lesser
representatives of the scientists together, they fall below 50 per cent
as to their belief in God, and below 55 per cent in their belief in
The showing for the scientists who are especially concerned with the
origin and destiny of life, biologists and psychologists, is much less
favorable to you; for, taking the greater and lesser together, only 31
per cent of the biologists believe in God and 35 per cent in
immortality; and only 25 per cent of the psychologists believe in God,
and 20 per cent in immortality.
But the worst by far, is yet to come; for, taking the greater biologists
and psychologists, those who count most, of the former 18 per cent
believe in God, and 25 per cent in immortality; and of the latter, the
greatest of all authorities, only 13 per cent believe in God, and only 8
per cent in immortality.
The greater psychologists are comparatively consistent in that fewer
among them believe in a conscious, personal life for humanity beyond the
grave than in the conscious, personal life of divinity beyond the
clouds. Human immortality is an absurdity without divine existence. The
overwhelming majority of great psychologists (the greatest of all
authorities, as to whether or not gods "without bodies, parts or
passions" can consciously exist in the skies, and disembodied men, women
and children in celestial paradises) see this and limit the career of
man to earth. In their judgment his heaven and hell are here, and the
gods who make and the devils who unmake civilizations are humans, not
good or bad divinities.
This is the conclusion of a rapidly increasing number of educated
people. A century ago only a few men of science and scientific
philosophers had reached it, not twenty five per cent, but now the
percentage is nearly ninety and it will soon be ninety-nine. The time is
coming, and in the not distant future, when no educated man shall look
to the god of any supernaturalistic interpretation of religion for light
or strength, and when none shall hope for a heaven above the earth or
fear a hell below it.
Heav'n but the Vision of fulfill'd Desire,
And Hell the Shadow from a Soul on fire
Cast on the Darkness into which Ourselves,
So late emerg'd from, shall so soon expire.
Joseph McCabe and Chapman Cohen are among the most brilliant of present
day writers on scientific and philosophic subjects. They are not
socialists, but both see that modern socialism and orthodox Christianism
are utterly irreconcilable incompatibilities.
"How is it that on the Continent democratic bodies are so
sceptical, or sceptical bodies so democratic? Precisely because
they doubt (or reject altogether) the Christian heaven. They want
to make this earth as happy as it can be, to make sure of happiness
somewhere. Having taken their eyes from the sky, they have
discovered remarkable possibilities in the earth. Having to give
less time to God, they have more time to give to man. They think
less about their heavenly home, and more about their earthly home.
The earthly home has grown very much brighter for the change. The
heavenly home is just where it was.
"The plain truth is, of course, that the sentiment which used to be
absorbed in religion is now embodied in humanitarianism. Religion
is slowly dying everywhere. Social idealism is growing everywhere.
People who want to persuade us that social idealism depends on
religion are puzzled by this. It is only because they are
obstinately determined to connect everything with Christianity, in
spite of its historical record. There is no puzzle. We have
transferred our emotions from God to man, from heaven to
earth." - Joseph McCabe.
"Socialists who have one eye on the ballot box may assure these
people that Socialism is not Atheistic, but few will be convinced.
The statement that Socialism has nothing to do with religion, or
that many professedly religious people are Socialist, is quite
futile. A thoughtful religionist would reply that the first point
concedes the truth of all that has been said against Socialism,
while the second evades the question at issue. No one is specially
concerned with the mental idiosyncracies of individual Socialists;
what is at issue is the question whether Socialism does or does not
take an Atheistic view of life? He might add, too, that a Socialism
which leaves out the belief in God and a future life, which does
not, in even the remotest manner, imply these beliefs, which does
not make their acceptance the condition of holding the meanest
office in the State, and, at most, will merely allow religious
beliefs to exist so long as they do not threaten the well-being of
the State, is, to all intents and purposes, an Atheistical
system." - Chapman Cohen.
In summing up the results of his investigations Prof. Leuba observes
In every class of persons investigated, the number of believers in
God is less and in most classes very much less than the number of
non-believers, and that the number of believers in immortality is
somewhat larger than in a personal God; that among the more
distinguished, unbelief is very much more frequent than among the
less distinguished; and finally that not only the degree of
ability, but also the kind of knowledge possessed, is significantly
related to the rejection of these beliefs.
In another connection Prof. Leuba speaking of Christian dogmatism as a
Christianity, as a system of belief, has utterly broken down, and
nothing definite, adequate, and convincing has taken its place.
There is no generally acknowledged authority; each one believes as
he can, and few seem disturbed at being unable to hold the tenets
of the churches. This sense of freedom is the glorious side of an
otherwise dangerous situation.
Your conception of the origin, sustenance and governance of the universe
is burdened, as are all interpretations of religion which are hinged
upon the existence of conscious, personal divinities, with two
difficulties: (1) its physical impossibility, and (2) its moral
1. Physical Impossibilities. The atomic and molecular movements required
for the thinking of a single man would be beyond the capacity of all the
gods of the supernaturalistic interpretations of religion together.
Some idea of the number of such motions which are taking place in every
human brain, will be derived from the conservative representations of
Hofmeister as exhibited in the following condensed form by McCabe in his
book, "The Evolution of Mind:"
We have reason to believe that there are in each molecule of
ordinary protoplasm at least 450 atoms of carbon, 720 atoms of
hydrogen, 116 of nitrogen, 6 of sulphur, and 140 of oxygen.
Nerve-plasm is still more complex.
Recent discoveries have only increased the wonder and potentiality
of the cortex. Each atom has proved to be a remarkable
constellation of electrons, a colossal reservoir of energy. The
atom of hydrogen contains about 1,000 electrons, the atom of carbon
12,000, the atom of nitrogen 14,000, the atom of oxygen 16,000, and
the atom of sulphur 32,000. These electrons circulate within the
infinitesimal space of the atom at a speed of from 10,000 to 90,000
miles a second. It would take 340,000 barrels of powder to impart
to a bullet the speed with which some of these particles dart out
of their groups. A gramme of hydrogen - a very tiny portion of the
simplest gas - contains energy enough to lift a million tons more
than a hundred yards.
Of these astounding arsenals of energy, the atoms, we have, on the
lowest computation, at least 600 million billion in the cortex of
the human brain.
Scientists, says Professor Olerich, in his book, "A Modern Look at
the Universe," estimate that the chemical atom is so
infinitesimally small that it requires a group of not less than a
billion to make the group barely visible under the most powerful
microscope, and a thousand such groups would have to be put
together in order to make it just visible to the naked eye as a
mere speck floating in the sunbeam.
The microscope reveals innumerable animalcules in the hundredth
part of a drop of water. They all eat, digest, move and from all
appearances of their frolics, they are endowed with sensation and
ability of enjoyment. What then shall we say of the minuteness of
the food they eat; of the blood that surges through their veins; of
their nervous system that thrills and guides them? Their minutest
organs must be composed of molecules, atoms, ions and electrons
inconceivably smaller than are the organs themselves.
Is there any god in a celestial field who could care for the movements
which occur in the molecules constituting a hundredth part of a drop of
water, not to speak of those which occur in the bodies of its myriads of
inhabitants? And what shall we say of all the inorganic and organic
movements in a small cup of whole drops of water, let alone those of a
great ocean of them?
But why go further into this subject? Is not the utter childishness of
the orthodox representative of a supernaturalistic interpretation of
religion, who credits his god with the governance of the motions
occurring in the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms of this globe,
leaving out of account those of its solar system, and of other systems
which constitute the universe, sufficiently manifest?
If you say that the motions which issue in the phenomena of the universe
are regulated by a law which was once for all willed by the god of the
Christian interpretation of religion, I ask why the law should be
credited to the willing of this god rather than to that of the god of
Jewish, Mohammedan or Buddhistic interpretation.
Newton took the first of the six initiatory steps in the long way which
led to the conclusion that the universe is self-existing,
self-sustaining and self-governing, by showing that all the movements of
the solar systems were necessarily what they have been by reason of a
matter-force law, gravitation. This discovery is the most momentous
event in the whole history of mankind.
Laplace took the second step by showing that the cosmic nebulae contain
within themselves all the potentialities necessary to the formation of
Lavoisier took the third step by showing that the matter which enters
into the constitution of the universe is an eternality.
Mayer took the fourth step by showing that the force which enters into
the constitution of the universe is an eternality.
Darwin took the fifth step by showing that the protoplasm contains all
the potentialities of every form of physical and degree of psychical
life from the moneron to man; that all representatives of both the
vegetable and animal kingdoms, including man, are related and so on a
level as to their origin and destiny, and that the different species are
the natural results of the necessary struggle with rivals and with
adverse environments for existence.
Marx took the sixth step by showing that the essential difference
between humans and beasts is primarily a question of the hand and
secondarily of the machines by which its efficiency is immeasurably
increased; that slavery has been and must continue to be the means of
advancement towards the ideal civilization; that the kinds of human
slavery were what they have been because machines have been what they
were, and that the time is coming when the slaves will no longer be men,
women and children, but machines which will be exploited for the good of
the many, not the profit of the few - then, and not until then, rapid
advance shall be made towards the goal where the whole world shall be
one great co-operative family, every member of which shall have the
greatest of possible opportunities to make the most of terrestrial life
by having it as long and happy as possible.
2. Moral Impossibilities. The moral impossibility of the assumptions of
these apologies is seen by all who have eyes for seeing things as they
are in the fact that if God is credited with the good He must also be
debited with the evil. If for example, He endowed the human body with
its useful and necessary parts. He also endowed it with its harmful and
Experts in the field of anatomy tell us that there are in our bodies at
least 180 useless parts, some among which are the occasion of much
suffering and many premature deaths, the vermiform appendix alone
causing many thousands of such cases annually.
Do you not see that these useless structures, all of which are inherited
from the lower animals, are so many evidences of the truth of Darwinism
and the untruthfulness of Mosaism? Eleven of these wholly useless and
more or less harmful inheritances have been of no use to any of our
ancestors from the fish up and four are inherited from our reptilian and
amphibian forefathers, but according to Moses we have no such
Admitting the fact of the existence of evil there is no escaping from
the logical conclusions of dear, old sensible Epicurus:
Either God is willing to remove evil from this world and cannot, or
he can and is not willing, or finally he can and is willing. If he
is willing and cannot, it is impotence, which is contrary to the
nature of God. If he can and is unwilling, it is wickedness, and
that is no less contrary to the nature of God. If he is not willing
and cannot, there is both wickedness and impotence. If he is
willing and can, which is the only one of these suppositions that
can be applied to God, how happens it that there is evil on earth?
Oh, if only the world had been influenced by this logic instead of by
the metaphysics of the supernaturalistic interpretations of religion, it
would have been so far on the way towards the ideal civilization as to
have long since passed the point where it would have been possible to
have the world war which has recently deluged the earth with blood and
tears, or to make the Versailles treaty which is destined to issue in
one war after another, ever filling the world fuller with the tyranny,
poverty, slavery and misery which are the inevitable concomitants of all
In my opinion the fascinating essayist, Mallock, has written the best of
all apologies for theism. I cannot imagine a better one. He, however,
makes no more attempt than Sir Oliver Lodge does to establish
Christianity, or any other supernaturalistic interpretations of
religion. Like Kant and yourself, Mallock takes his stand on the ground
that a belief in a celestial God, and in the immortality which goes with
it, is necessary to morality, the basic virtue upon which civilization
rests. As Kant admits that the existence of God cannot be inferred from
pure reason, so Mallock admits and even strongly contends that it cannot
be established on scientific grounds. I quote a striking passage:
We must divest ourselves of all foregone conclusions, of all
question-begging reverences, and look the facts of the universe
steadily in the face.
If theists will but do this, what they will see will astonish them.
They will see that if there is anything at the back of this vast
process, with a consciousness and a purpose in any way resembling
our own - a Being who knows what he wants and is doing his best to
get it - he is, instead of a holy and all-wise God, a
scatter-brained, semi-powerful, semi-impotent monster. They will
recognize as clearly as they ever did the old familiar facts which
seemed to them evidences of God's wisdom, love and goodness; but
they will find that these facts, when taken in connection with the
others, only supply us with a standard in the nature of this being
himself by which most of his acts are exhibited to us as those of a
criminal madman. If he had been blind, he had not had sin; but if
we maintain that he can see, then his sin remains. Habitually a
bungler as he is, and callous when not actively cruel, we are
forced to regard him, when he seems to exhibit benevolence, as not
divinely benevolent, but merely weak and capricious, like a boy who
fondles a kitten and the next moment sets a dog at it. And not only
does his moral character fall from him bit by bit, but his dignity
disappears also. The orderly processes of the stars and the larger
phenomena of nature are suggestive of nothing so much as a
wearisome court ceremonial surrounding a king who is unable to
understand or to break away from it; whilst the thunder and
whirlwind, which have from time immemorial been accepted as special
revelations of his awful power and majesty, suggest, if they
suggest anything of a personal character at all, merely some
blackguardly larrikin kicking his heels in the clouds, not perhaps
bent on mischief, but indifferent to the fact that he is causing
But we need not attempt to fill in the picture further. The truth
is, as we consider the universe as a whole, it fails to suggest a
conscious and purposive God at all; and it fails to do so not
because the processes of evolution as such preclude the idea that
God might have made use of them for a definite purpose, but because
when we come to consider these processes in detail, and view them
in the light of the only purposes they suggest, we find them to be
such that a God who could deliberately have been guilty of them
would be a God too absurd, too monstrous, too mad to be credible.
The god who had any part in bringing upon the world the English-German
war, the Versailles peace, the Russian blockade, is for me a devil not a
divinity. If you say that the Christian god had nothing to do with
them, I reply that these are among the greatest of all curses wherewith
mankind has been afflicted in modern times; and if he could not or would
not prevent them, what ground is there for looking to him for help in
any time of need?
How can I adequately express my contempt for the assertion that all
things occur for the best, for a wise and beneficent end? It is the
most utter falsehood, and a crime against the human race.... Human
suffering is so great, so endless, so awful, that I can hardly
write of it.... The whole and the worst, the worst pessimist can
say is far beneath the least particle of the truth.... Anyone who
will consider the affairs of the world at large ... will see that
they do not proceed in the manner they would do for our happiness
if a man of humane breadth of view were placed at their head with
unlimited power. A man of intellect and humanity could cause
everything to happen in an infinitely superior manner. But that
which is ... credited to a non-existent intelligence (or cosmic
"order," it is just the same) should really be claimed and
exercised by the human race. We must do for ourselves what
superstition has hitherto supposed an intelligence to do for
us. - Richard Jeffries.
Would but some winged Angel ere too late
Arrest the yet unfolded Roll of Fate,
And make the stern Recorder otherwise
Enregister, or quite obliterate!
Ah Love! could you and I with Him conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
Would not we shatter it to bits - and then
Remold it nearer to the Heart's Desire!
You frequently intimate that my doctrine concerning the origin and
destiny of the universe with all that therein is, including man, is not
that of the majority of men of science and scientific philosophers, but
that yours is. It will therefore be of interest to you to know that I
have submitted the most radical of my materialistic pieces to three men
of science, all great authorities, one of whom replied, that he was in
substantial agreement with me, but thought me to be 400 years ahead of
our time; another, that he found nothing to criticize unless it might be
my failure to give greater prominence to the fact that the gods of the
redemptive interpretations, of religion were so many versions of the
sun-myth, and the other, that the essay would pass any world congress of
scientists by a large majority.
You think that I am wrong in quoting Newton and Darwin on my side,
because they believed in the existence of a conscious, personal god. I
am persuaded that such was not the case with Darwin at his death; but,
however this may be, it is in neither of these cases, nor in that of any
other scientist, a question of what he philosophically believed
concerning a god, but of what he scientifically established as a fact.
Newton established the fact that the movements of the stars in their
courses are naturally regulated by the law of gravitation, not
supernaturally by the will of a god.
Darwin established the fact that all living species of animal and
vegetable life exist as the natural results of evolutionary processes,
not as the supernatural results of creative acts.
If Newton were to stand by his theological writings, he would fall in
your estimation, for his work on the book of Daniel would be regarded by
you as an absurdity. He considered Daniel to be the great revelation of
a God, Jehovah, but you know it to be the purest fiction of a man, quite
as much the work of the imagination of its author as Don Quixote is that
Among the many theological authorities whom you quote against me, the
greatest, in my estimation, is Dr. Inge, Dean of St. Paul's, London,
whose utterances I have been noting with great interest of late; partly,
no doubt, because he seems to be giving up your orthodox side and coming