For generations people have accepted without question the dogma of a First Cause – of the existence of a Creator – of an Infinite Mind back of matter, and sought in many ways to define its ignorance in this behalf. The most sincere worshipers have declared that this being is incomprehensible – that he is “without body, parts, or passions” – that he is infinitely beyond their grasp, and at the same time have insisted that it was necessary for man not only to believe in the existence of this being, but to love him with all his heart.
Christianity having always been in partnership with the state – having controlled kings and nobles, judges and legislators – having been in partnership with armies and with every form of organized destruction – it was dangerous to discuss the foundation of its authority. To speak lightly of any dogma was a crime punishable by death. Every absurdity has been bastioned and barricaded by the power of the state. It has been protected by fist, by club, by sword and cannon.
For many years Christianity succeeded in substantially closing the mouths of its enemies, and lived and flourished only where investigation and discussion were prevented by hypocrisy and bigotry. The church still talks about “evidence,” about “reason,” about “freedom of conscience” and the “liberty of speech,” and yet denounces those who ask for evidence, who appeal to reason, and who honestly express their thoughts.
Today we know that the miracles of Christianity are as puerile and false as those ascribed to the medicine-men of Central Africa or the Fiji Islanders, and that the “sacred Scriptures” have the same claim to inspiration that the Koran has, or the Book of Mormon – no less, no more. These questions have been settled and laid aside by free and intelligent people. They have ceased to excite interest; and the man who now really believes in the truth of the Old Testament is regarded with a smile – looked upon as an aged child – still satisfied with the lullabys and toys of the cradle.