Presented to the
LIBRARY of the
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
the estate of
ROBERT G. INGERSOLL.
THE DESTROYER OF WEEDS, THISTLES AND THORNS, IS A BENEFACTOR
WHETHER HE SOWETII GRAIN OR NOT.
WASHINGTON, D. C. :
C. P. FARRELL, PUBLISHER.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1879,
Bv ROBERT G. INGERSOLL,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.
, SUE, M, FARRELL^-
IN LAW MY SISTER ;
AND IN FACT MY FRIEND,
AS A TOKEN OF RESPECT AND LOVE,
FOR many years I have regarded the Pentateuch
simply as a record of a barbarous people, in
which are found a great number of the ceremonies
of savagery, many absurd and unjust laws, and
thousands of ideas inconsistent with known and
demonstrated facts. To me it seemed almost a
crime to teach that this record was written by inspired
men ; that slavery, polygamy, wars of conquest and
extermination were right, and that there was a time
when men could win the approbation of infinite
Intelligence, Justice, and Mercy, by violating
maidens and by butchering babes. To me it seemed
more reasonable that savage men had made these
laws ; and I endeavored in a lecture, entitled " Some
Mistakes of Moses," to point out some of the errors,
contradictions, and impossibilities contained in the
Pentateuch. The lecture was never written and
consequently never delivered twice the same. On
several occasions it was reported and published
without consent, and without revision. All these
publications were grossly and glaringly incorrect.
As published, they have been answered several
hundred times, and many of the clergy are still
engaged in the great work. To keep these rev
erend gentlemen from wasting their talents on the
mistakes of reporters and printers, I concluded to
publish the principal points in all my lectures on this
subject. And here, it may be proper for me to say,
that arguments cannot be answered by personal
abuse ; that there is no logic in slander, and that
falsehood, in the long run, defeats itself. People
who love their enemies should, at least, tell the truth
about their friends. Should it turn out that I am
the worst man in the whole world, the story of the
flood will remain just as improbable as before, and
the contradictions of the Pentateuch will still
demand an explanation.
P R E F A C E . vil
There was a time when a falsehood, fulminated
from the pulpit, smote like a sword ; but, the supply
having greatly exceeded the demand, clerical misrep
resentation has at last become almost an innocent
amusement. Remembering that only a few years
ago men, women, and even children, were impris
oned, tortured and burned, for having expressed in
an exceedingly mild and gentle way, the ideas
entertained by me, I congratulate myself that
calumny is now the pulpit s last resort. The old
instruments of torture are kept only to gratify
curiosity ; the chains are rusting away, and the
demolition of time has allowed even the dungeons of
the Inquisition to be visited by light. The church,
impotent and malicious, regrets, not the abuse, but
the loss of her power, and seeks to hold by false
hood what she gained by cruelty and force, by fire
and fear. Christianity cannot live in peace with any
other form of faith. If that religion be true, there is
but one savior, one inspired book, and but one little
narrow grass-grown path that leads to heaven.
Such a religion is necessarily uncompromising,
unreasoning, aggressive and insolent. Christianity
has held all other creeds and forms in infinite con
tempt, divided the world into enemies and friends,
and verified the awful declaration of its founder a
declaration that wet with blood the sword he came to
bring, and made the horizon of a thousand years
lurid with the fagots flames.
Too great praise challenges attention, and often
brings to light a thousand faults that otherwise the
general eye would never see. Were we allowed to
read the bible as we do all other books, we would
admire its beauties, treasure its worthy thoughts,
and account for all its absurd, grotesque and cruel
things, by saying that its authors lived in rude,
barbaric times. But we are told that it was written
by inspired men ; that it contains the will of God ;
that it is perfect, pure, and true in all its parts ; the
source and standard of all moral and religious truth ;
that it is the star and anchor of all human hope ; the
only guide for man, the only torch in Nature s night.
These claims are so at variance with every known
recorded fact, so palpably absurd, that every free,
unbiased soul is forced to raise the standard of
We read the pagan sacred books with profit and
delight. With myth and fable we are ever charmed,
and find a pleasure in the endless repetition of the
beautiful, poetic, and absurd. We find, in all these
records of the past, philosophies and dreams, and
efforts stained with tears, of great and tender souls
who tried to pierce the mystery of life and death, to
answer the eternal questions of the Whence and
Whither, and vainly sought to make, with bits of
shattered glass, a mirror that would, in very truth,
reflect the face and form of Nature s perfect self.
These myths were born of hopes, and fears, and
tears, and smiles, and they were touched and colored
by all there is of joy and grief between the rosy
dawn of birth, and death s sad night. They clothed
even the stars with passion, and gave to gods the
faults and frailties of the sons of men. In them, the
winds and waves were music, and all the lakes, and
streams, and springs, the mountains, woods and
perfumed dells were haunted by a thousand fairy
forms. They thrilled the veins of Spring with trem
ulous desire ; made tawny Summer s billowed breast
the throne and home of love ; filled Autumn s arms
with sun-kissed grapes, and gathered sheaves ; and
pictured Winter as a weak old king who felt, like
Lear upon his withered face, Cordelia s tears.
These myths, though false, are beautiful, and have
for many ages and in countless ways, enriched the
heart and kindled thought. But if the world were
taught that all these things are true and all inspired
of God, and that eternal punishment will be the lot
of him who dares deny or doubt, the sweetest myth
of all the Fable World would lose its beauty, and
become a scorned and hateful thing to every brave
and thoughtful man.
ROBERT G. INGERSOLL.
WASHINGTON, D. C., Oct. ?tk, 1879.
I. SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES,
II. FREE SCHOOLS,
III. THE POLITICIANS,
IV. MAN AND WOMAN,
V, THE PENTATEUCH,
X. HE MADE THE STARS ALSO,
XIII. LET us MAKE MAN,
XV. THE NECESSITY FOR A GOOD MEMORY,
XVI. THE GARDEN,
XVII. THE FALL,
XIX. BACCHUS AND BABEL,
XX. FAITH IN FILTH,
XXI. THE HEBREWS,
XXII. THE PLAGUES,
XXIII. THE FLIGHT,
XXIV. CONFESS AND AVOID,
XXV. " INSPIRED" SLAVERY,
XXVI. "INSPIRED" MARRIAGE,
XXVII. "INSPIRED" WAR,
XXVIII. "INSPIRED" RELIGIOUS LIBERTY,
XXX. TRIBUTE TO EBON C. INGERSOLL,
I 7 6
2 5 6
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
HE WHO ENDEAVORS TO CONTROL THE MIND BY FORCE
IS A TYRANT, AND HE WHO SUBMITS IS A SLAVE.
I WANT to do what little I can to make my country
truly free, to broaden the intellectual horizon
of our people, to destroy the prejudices born of
ignorance and fear, to do away with the blind wor
ship of the ignoble past, with the idea that all the
great and good are dead, that the living are totally
depraved, that all pleasures are sins, that sighs and
groans are alone pleasing to God, that thought is
dangerous, that intellectual courage is a crime, that
cowardice is a virtue, that a certain belief is necessary
to secure salvation, that to carry a cross in this world
will give us a palm in the next, and that we must
allow some priest to be the pilot of our souls.
14 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
Until every soul is freely permitted to investigate
every book, and creed, and dogma for itself, the world
cannot be free. Mankind will be enslaved until there
is mental grandeur enough to allow each man to have
his thought and say. This earth will be a paradise
when men can, upon all these questions differ, and
yet grasp each other s hands as friends. It is amazing
to me that a difference of opinion upon subjects
that we know nothing with certainty about, should
make us hate, persecute, and despise each other.
Why a difference of opinion upon predestination, or
the trinity, should make people imprison and burn
each other seems beyond the comprehension of man ;
and yet in all countries where Christians have existed,
they have destroyed each other to the exact extent
of their power. Why should a believer in God hate
an atheist ? Surely the atheist has not injured God,
and surely he is human, capable of joy and pain, and
entitled to all the rights of man. Would it not be
far better to treat this atheist, at least, as well
as he treats us ?
Christians tell me that they love their enemies,
and yet all I ask is not that they love their enemies,
not that they love their friends even, but that they
treat those who differ from them, with simple fairness.
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 1 5
We do not wish to be forgiven, but we wish Christ
ians to so act that we will not have to forgive them.
If all will admit that all have an equal right to
think, then the question is forever solved ; but as
long as organized and powerful churches, pretending
to hold the keys of heaven and hell, denounce every
person as an outcast and criminal who thinks for
himself and denies their authority, the world will
be filled with hatred and suffering. To hate man
and worship God seems to be the sum of all the
That which has happened in most countries has
happened in ours. When a religion is founded, the
educated, the powerful that is to say, the priests
and nobles, tell the ignorant and superstitious that
is to say, the people, that the religion of their country
was given to their fathers by God himself; that it is
the only true religion ; that all others were conceived
in falsehood and brought forth in fraud, and that all
who believe in the true religion will be happy for
ever, while all others will burn in hell. For the
purpose of governing the people, that is to say, for
the purpose of being supported by the people, the
priests and nobles declare this religion to be sacred,
and that whoever adds to, or takes from it, will be
1 6 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
burned here by man, and hereafter by God. The
result of this is, that the priests and nobles will not
allow the people to change ; and when, after a time,
the priests, having intellectually advanced, wish to
take a step in the direction of progress, the people
will not allow them to change. At first, the rabble
are enslaved by the priests, and afterwards the rabble
become the masters.
One of the first things I wish to do, is to free the
orthodox clergy. I am a great friend of theirs, and
in spite of all they may say against me, I am going
to do them a great and lasting service. Upon their
necks are visible the marks of the collar, and upon
their backs those of the lash. They are not allowed
to read and think for themselves. They are taught
like parrots, and the best are those who repeat, with
the fewest mistakes, the sentences they have been
taught. They sit like owls upon some dead limb of
the tree of knowledge, and hoot the same old hoots
that have been hooted for eighteen hundred years.
Their congregations are not grand enough, nor
sufficiently civilized, to be willing that the poor
preachers shall think for themselves. They are not
employed for that purpose. Investigation is regarded
as a dangerous experiment, and the ministers are
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 1 7
warned that none of that kind of work will be toler
ated. They are notified to stand by the old creed,
and to avoid all original thought, as a mortal
pestilence. Every minister is employed like an
attorney either for plaintiff or defendant, and he is
expected to be true to his client. If he changes his
mind, he is regarded as a deserter, and denounced,
hated, and slandered accordingly. Every orthodox
clergyman agrees not to change. He contracts not
to find new facts, and makes a bargain that he will
deny them if he does. Such is the position of a
protestant minister in this Nineteenth Century. His
condition excites my pity ; and to better it, I am
going to do what little I can.
Some of the clergy have the independence to break
away, and the intellect to maintain themselves as free
men, but the most are compelled to submit to the
dictation of the orthodox, and the dead. They are
not employed to give their thoughts, but simply to
repeat the ideas of others. They are not expected
to give even the doubts that may suggest themselves,
but are required to walk in the narrow, verdureless
path trodden by the ignorance of the past. The
forests and fields on either side are nothing to them.
They must not even look at the purple hills, nor
1 8 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
pause to hear the babble of the brooks. They must
remain in the dusty road where the guide-boards are.
They must confine themselves to the " fall of man,"
the expulsion from the garden, the " scheme of
salvation," the "second birth," the atonement, the
happiness of the redeemed, and the misery of the
lost. They must be careful not to express any new ,
ideas upon these great questions. It is much safer
for them to quote from the works of the dead. The
more vividly they describe the sufferings of the
unregenerate, of those who attended theatres and
balls, and drank wine in summer gardens on the
sabbath-day, and laughed at priests, the better
ministers they are supposed to be. They must show
that misery fits the good for heaven, while happiness
prepares the bad for hell; that the wicked get all
their good things in this life, and the good all their
evil ; that in this world God punishes the people he
loves, and in the next, the ones he hates ; that happi
ness makes us bad here, but not in heaven ; that pain
makes us good here, but not in hell. No matter
how absurd these things may appear to the carnal
mind, they must be preached and they must be
believed. If they were reasonable, there would be
no virtue in believing. Even the publicans and sin-
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 19
ners believe reasonable things. To believe without
evidence, or in spite of it, is accounted as righteous
ness to the sincere and humble Christian.
The ministers are in duty bound to denounce all
intellectual pride, and show that we are never quite
so dear to God as when we admit that we are poor,
corrupt and idiotic worms ; that we never should
have been born ; that we ought to be damned with
out the least delay ; that we are so infamous that we
like to enjoy ourselves ; that we love our wives and
children better than our God ; that we are generous
only because we are vile ; that we are honest from
the meanest motives, and that sometimes we have
fallen so low that we have had doubts about the in
spiration of the Jewish scriptures. In short, they are
expected to denounce all pleasant paths and rustling
trees, to curse the grass and flowers, and glorify the
dust and weeds. They are expected to malign the
wicked people in the green and happy fields, who sit
and laugh beside the gurgling springs or climb the
hills and wander as they will. They are expected
to point out the dangers of freedom, the safety of
implicit obedience, and to show the wickedness of
philosophy, the goodness of faith, the immorality of
science and the purity of ignorance.
2O SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
Now and then, a few pious people discover some
young man of a religious turn of mind and a con
sumptive habit of body, not quite sickly enough to
die, nor healthy enough to be wicked. The idea
occurs to them that he would make a good orthodox
minister. They take up a contribution, and send the
young man to some theological school where he
can be taught to repeat a creed and despise reason.
Should it turn out that the young man had some
mind of his own, and, after graduating, should
change his opinions and preach a different doctrine
from that taught in the school, every man who con
tributed a dollar towards his education would feel
that he had been robbed, and would denounce him
as a dishonest and ungrateful wretch.
The pulpit should not be a pillory. Congrega
tions should allow the minister a little liberty. They
should, at least, permit him to tell the truth.
They have, in Massachusetts, at a place called
Andover, a kind of minister factory, where each
professor takes an oath once in five years that time
being considered the life of an oath that he has not,
during the last five years, and will not, during the
next five years, intellectually advance. There is
probably no oath that they could easier keep. Prob-
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 21
ably, since the foundation stone of that institution
was laid there has not been a single case of perjury.
The old creed is still taught. They still insist that
God is infinitely wise, powerful and good, and that
all men are totally depraved. They insist that the
best man God ever made, deserved to be damned
the moment he was finished. Andover puts its brand
upon every minister it turns out, the same as Shef
field and Birmingham brand their wares, and all who
see the brand know exactly what the minister be
lieves, the books he has read, the arguments he
relies on, and just what he intellectually is. They
know just what he can be depended on to preach,
and that he will continue to shrink and shrivel, and
grow solemnly stupid day by day until he reaches
the Andover of the grave and becomes truly ortho
I have not singled out the Andover factory
because it is worse than the others. They are all
about the same. The professors, for the most part,
are ministers who failed in the pulpit and were retired
to the seminary on account of their deficiency in
reason and their excess of faith. As a rule, they
know nothing of this world, and far less of the next ;
but they have the power of stating the most absurd
22 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
propositions with faces solemn as stupidity touched
Something should be done for the liberation of
these men. They should be allowed to grow to
have sunlight and air. They should no longer be
chained and tied to confessions of faith, to mouldy
books and musty creeds. Thousands of ministers
are anxious to give their honest thoughts. The
hands of wives and babes now stop their mouths.
They must have bread, and so the husbands and
fathers are forced to preach a doctrine that they hold
in scorn. For the sake of shelter, food and clothes,
they are obliged to defend the childish miracles of the
past, and denounce the sublime discoveries of to-day.
They are compelled to attack all modern thought, to
point out the dangers of science, the wickedness of
investigation and the corrupting influence of logic.
It is for them to show that virtue rests upon
ignorance and faith, while vice impudently feeds and
fattens upon fact and demonstration. It is a part of
their business to malign and vilify the Voltaires,
Humes, Paines, Humboldts, Tyndals, Haeckels,
Darwins, Spencers, and Drapers, and to bow with
uncovered heads before the murderers, adulterers,
and persecutors of the world. They are, for the
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 23
most part, engaged in poisoning the minds of the
young, prejudicing children against science, teaching
the astronomy and geology of the bible, and inducing
all to desert the sublime standard of reason.
These orthodox ministers do not add to the sum
of knowledge. They produce nothing. They live
upon alms. They hate laughter and joy. They
officiate at weddings, sprinkle water upon babes, and
utter meaningless words and barren promises above
the dead. They laugh at the agony of unbelievers,
mock at their tears, and of their sorrows make a jest.
There are some noble exceptions. Now and then a
pulpit holds a brave and honest man. Their congre
gations are willing that they should think willing
that their ministers should have a little freedom.
As we become civilized, more and more liberty
will be accorded to these men, until finally ministers
will give their best and highest thoughts. The
congregations will finally get tired of hearing about
the patriarchs and saints, the miracles and wonders,
and will insist upon knowing something about the
men and women of our day, and the accomplishments
and discoveries of our time. They will finally insist
upon knowing how to escape the evils of this world
instead of the next. They will ask light upon the
24 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
enigmas of this life. They will wish to know what
we shall do with our criminals instead of what God
will do with his how we shall do away with beggary
and want with crime and misery with prostitution,
disease and famine, with tyranny in all its cruel
forms with prisons and scaffolds, and how we shall
reward the honest workers, and fill the world with
happy homes ! These are the problems for the
pulpits and congregations of an enlightened future.
If Science cannot finally answer these questions, it is
a vain and worthless thing.
The clergy, however, will continue to answer
them in the old way, until their congregations are
good enough to set them free. They will still talk
about believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, as though
that were the only remedy for all human ills. They
will still teach that retrogression is the only path
that leads to light ; that we must go back, that faith
is the only sure guide, and that reason is a delusive
glare, lighting only the road to eternal pain.
Until the clergy are free they cannot be intel
lectually honest. We can never tell what they really
believe until they know that they can safely speak.
They console themselves now by a secret resolution
to be as liberal as they dare, with the hope that they
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 25
can finally educate their congregations to the point
of allowing them to think a little for themselves.
They hardly know what they ought to do. The
best part of their lives has been wasted in studying
subjects of no possible value. Most of them are
married, have families, and know but one way of
making their living. Some of them say that if they
do not preach these foolish dogmas, others will, and
that they may through fear, after all, restrain mankind.
Besides, they hate publicly to admit that they are
mistaken, that the whole thing is a delusion, that the
" scheme of salvation" is absurd, and that the bible
is no better than some other books, and worse than
You can hardly expect a bishop to leave his
palace, or the pope to vacate the Vatican. As long
as people want popes, plenty of hypocrites will be
found to take the place. And as long as labor
fatigues, there will be found a good many men will
ing to preach once a week, if other folks will work
and give them bread. In other words, while the
demand lasts, the supply will never fail.
If the people were a little more ignorant, as
trology would flourish if a little more enlightened,
religion would perish!
IT is also my desire to free the schools. When a
professor in a college finds a fact, he should make
it known, even if it is inconsistent with something
Moses said. Public opinion must not compel the
professor to hide a fact, and, " like the base Indian,
throw the pearl away." With the single exception
of Cornell, there is not a college in the United States
where truth has ever been a welcome guest. The
moment one of the teachers denies the inspiration of
the bible, he is discharged. If he discovers a fact
inconsistent with that book, so much the worse for
the fact, and especially for the discoverer of the fact.
He must not corrupt the minds of his pupils with
demonstrations. He must beware of every truth
that cannot, in some way be made to harmonize with
the superstitions of the Jews. Science has nothing
in common with religion. Facts and miracles never
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 27
did, and never will agree. They are not in the least
related. They are deadly foes. What has religion
to do with facts? Nothing. Can there be Methodist
mathematics, Catholic astronomy, Presbyterian geol
ogy, Baptist biology, or Episcopal botany? Why,
then, should a sectarian college exist ? Only that
which somebody knows should be taught in our
schools. We should not collect taxes to pay people
for guessing. The common school is the bread of
life for the people, and it should not be touched by
the withering hand of superstition.
Our country will never be filled with great insti
tutions of learning until there is an absolute divorce
between Church and School. As long as the
mutilated records of a barbarous people are placed by
priest and professor above the reason of mankind, we
shall reap but little benefit from church or school.
Instead of dismissing professors for finding some
thing out, let us rather discharge those who do not.
Let each teacher understand that investigation is not
dangerous for him ; that his bread is safe, no matter
how much truth he may discover, and that his salary
will not be reduced, simply because he finds that the
ancient Jews did not know the entire history of the
w r orld.
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
Besides, it is not fair to make the Catholic sup
port a Protestant school, nor is it just to collect taxes
from infidels and atheists to support schools in which
any system of religion is taught.
The sciences are not sectarian. People do not
persecute each other on account of disagreements in
mathematics. Families are not divided about botany,
and astronomy does not even tend to make a man
hate his father and mother. It is what people do not
know, that they persecute each other about. Science
will bring, not a sword, but peace.
Just as long as religion has control of the schools,
science will be an outcast. Let us free our institu
tions of learning. Let us dedicate them to the
science of eternal truth. Let us tell every teacher
to ascertain all the facts he can to give us light, to
follow Nature, no matter where she leads ; to be
infinitely true to himself and us ; to feel that he is
without a chain, except the obligation to be honest ;
that he is bound by no books, by no creed, neither
by the sayings of the dead nor of the living ;
that he is asked to look with his own eyes, to
reason for himself without fear, to investigate in
every possible direction, and to bring us the fruit of
all his work.
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
At present, a good many men engaged in scien
tific pursuits, and who have signally failed in gaining
recognition among their fellows, are endeavoring to
make reputations among the churches by delivering
weak and vapid lectures upon the " harmony of
Genesis and Geology." Like all hypocrites, these
men overstate the case to such a degree, and so turn
and pervert facts and words that they succeed only
in gaining the applause of other hypocrites like them
selves. Among the great scientists they are regarded
as generals regard sutlers who trade with both armies.
Surely the time must come when the wealth of the
world will not be wasted in the propagation of ignor
ant creeds and miraculous mistakes. The time must
come when churches and cathedrals will be dedicated
to the use of man ; when minister and priest will deem
the discoveries of the living of more importance than
the errors of the dead; when the truths of Nature
will outrank the " sacred" falsehoods of the past, and
when a single fact will outweigh all the miracles of
Who can over estimate the progress of the
world if all the money wasted in superstition
could be used to enlighten, elevate and civil
ize mankind ?
3 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
When every church becomes a school, every
cathedral a university, every clergyman a teacher,
and all their hearers brave and honest thinkers, then,
and not until then, will the dream of poet, patriot,
philanthropist and philosopher, become a real and
I WOULD like also to liberate the politician. At
present, the successful office-seeker is a good
deal like the centre of the earth ; he weighs nothing
himself, but draws everything else to him. There are
so many societies, so many churches, so many isms,
that it is almost impossible for an independent man
to succeed in a political career. Candidates are
forced to pretend that they are catholics with protest-
ant proclivities, or Christians with liberal tendencies,
or temperance men who now and then take a glass
of wine, or, that although not members of any church
their wives are, and that they subscribe liberally to
all. The result of all this is that we reward hypocrisy
and elect men entirely destitute of real principle;
and this will never change until the people become
grand enough to allow each other to do their own
32 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
Our government should be entirely and purely
secular. The religious views of a candidate should
be kept entirely out of sight. He should not be
compelled to give his opinion as to the inspiration
of the bible, the propriety of infant baptism, or the
immaculate conception. All these things are private
and personal. He should be allowed to settle such
things for himself, and should he decide contrary to
the law and will of God, let him settle the matter
with God. The people ought to be wise enough
to select as their officers men who know something
of political affairs, who comprehend the present
greatness, and clearly perceive the future grandeur
of our country. If we were in a storm at sea, with
deck wave-washed and masts strained and bent with
storm, and it was necessary to reef the top sail, we
certainly would not ask the brave sailor who volun-
.teered to go aloft, what his opinion was on the five
points of Calvinism. Our government has nothing
to do with religion. It is neither Christian nor pagan ;
it is secular. But as long as the people persist in
voting for or against men on account of their relig
ious views, just so long will hypocrisy hold place and
power. Just so long will the candidates crawl in the
dust hide their opinions, flatter those with whom
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 33
they differ, pretend to agree with those whom they
despise ; and just so long will honest men be trampled
under foot. Churches are becoming political organ
izations. Nearly every Catholic is a democrat;
nearly every Methodist in the North is a re
It probably will not be long until the churches
will divide as sharply upon political, as upon the
ological questions; and when that day comes, if
there are not liberals enough to hold the balance of
power, this government will be destroyed. The
liberty of man is not safe in the hands of any church.
Wherever the bible and sword are in partnership,
man is a slave.
All laws for the purpose of making man worship
God, are born of the same spirit that kindled the
fires of the auto da fe, and lovingly built the dun
geons of the Inquisition. All laws defining and
punishing blasphemy making it a crime to give
your honest ideas about the bible, or to laugh at the
ignorance of the ancient Jews, or to enjoy yourself
on the Sabbath, or to give your opinion of Jehovah,
were passed by impudent bigots, and should be at
once repealed by honest men. An infinite God
ought to be able to protect himself, without going in
34 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
partnership with state legislatures. Certainly he
ought not so to act that laws become necessary to
keep him from being laughed at. No one thinks
of protecting Shakespeare from ridicule, by the
threat of fine and imprisonment. It strikes me that
God might write a book that would not necessarily
excite the laughter of his children. In fact, I think
it would be safe to say that a real God could produce
a work that would excite the admiration of mankind.
Surely politicians could be better employed than in
passing laws to protect the literary reputation of the
MAN AND WOMAN.
E: us forget that we are Baptists, Methodists,
Catholics, Presbyterians, or Free-thinkers, and
remember only that we are men and women. After
all, man and woman are the highest possible titles.
All other names belittle us, and show that we have,
to a certain extent, given up our individuality, and
have consented to wear the collar of authority that
we are followers. Throwing away these names,
let us examine these questions not as partisans,
but as human beings with hopes and fears in
We know that our opinions depend, to a great
degree, upon our surroundings upon race, country,
and education. We are all the result of numberless
conditions, and inherit vices and virtues, truths and
prejudices. If we had been born in England, sur
rounded by wealth and clothed with power, most of
36 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
us would have been Episcopalians, and believed in
Church and State. We should have insisted that the
people needed a religion, and that not having
intellect enough to provide one for themselves, it
was our duty to make one for them, and then com
pel them to support it. We should have believed it
indecent to officiate in a pulpit without wearing a
gown, and that prayers should be read from a book.
Had we belonged to the lower classes, we might have
been dissenters and protested against the mummeries
of the High Church. Had we been born in Turkey,
most of us would have been Mohammedans and
believed in the inspiration of the Koran. We should
have believed that Mohammed actually visited
Heaven and became acquainted with an angel by the
name of Gabriel, who was so broad between the eyes
that it required three hundred days for a very
smart camel to travel the distance. If some man
had denied this story we should probably have
denounced him as a dangerous person, one who was
endeavoring to undermine the foundations of society,
and to destroy all distinction between virtue and vice.
We should have said to him, "What do you propose
to give us in place of that angel ? We cannot afford
to give up an angel of that size for nothing." We
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 37
would have insisted that the best and wisest men
believed the Koran. We would have quoted from
the works and letters of philosophers, generals and
sultans, to show that the Koran was the best of
books, and that Turkey was indebted to that book
and to that alone for its greatness and prosperity.
We would have asked that man whether he knew
more than all the great minds of his country, whether
he was so much wiser than his fathers? We would have
pointed out to him the fact that thousands had been
consoled in the hour of death by passages from the
Koran ; that they had died with glazed eyes bright
ened by visions of the heavenly harem, and gladly
left this world of grief and tears. We would have
regarded Christians as the vilest of men, and on all
occasions would have repeated There is but one
God, and Mohammed is his prophet!"
So, if we had been born in India, we should in
all probability have believed in the religion of that
country. We should have regarded the old records
as true and sacred, and looked upon a wandering
priest as better than the men from whom he begged,
and by whose labor he lived. We should have
believed in a god with three heads instead of three
gods with one head, as we do now.
38 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
Now and then some one says that the religion of
his father and mother is good enough for him, and
wonders why anybody should desire a better. Surely
we are not bound to follow our parents in religion
any more than in politics, science or art. China has
been petrified by the worship of ancestors. If our
parents had been satisfied with the religion of theirs,
we would be still less advanced than we are. If we
are, in any way, bound by the belief of our fathers,
the doctrine will hold good back to the first people
who had a religion ; and if this doctrine is true, we
ought now to be believers in that first religion. In
other words, we would all be barbarians. You can
not show real respect to your parents by perpetuating
their errors. Good fathers and mothers wish their
children to advance, to overcome obstacles which
baffled them, and to correct the errors of their educa
tion. If you wish to reflect credit upon your parents,
accomplish more than they did, solve problems that
they could not understand, and build better than they
knew. To sacrifice your manhood upon the grave
of your father is an honor to neither. Why should
a son who has examined a subject, throw away his
reason and adopt the views of his mother? Is not
such a course dishonorable to both?
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 39
We must remember that this " ancestor" argu
ment is as old at least as the second generation of
men, that it has served no purpose except to enslave
mankind, and results mostly from the fact that
acquiescence is easier than investigation. This
argument pushed to its logical conclusion, would
prevent the advance of all people whose parents
were not free-thinkers.
It is hard for many people to give up the religion
in which they were born ; to admit that their fathers
were utterly mistaken, and that the sacred records of
their country are but collections of myths and
But when we look for a moment at the world, we
find that each nation has its sacred records"- its
religion, and its ideas of worship. Certainly all can
not be right ; and as it would require a life time to
investigate the claims of these various systems, it is
hardly fair to damn a man forever, simply because he
happens to believe the wrong one. All these
religions were produced by barbarians. Civilized
nations have contented themselves with changing
the religions of their barbaric ancestors, but they
have made none. Nearly all these religions are
intensely selfish. Each one was made by some con-
4O SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
temptible little nation that regarded itself as of almost
infinite importance, and looked upon the other nations
as beneath the notice of their god. In all these
countries it was a crime to deny the sacred records,
to laugh at the priests, to speak disrespectfully of the
gods, to fail to divide your substance with the lazy
hypocrites who managed your affairs in the next
world upon condition that you would support them
in this. In the olden time these theological people
who quartered themselves upon the honest and
industrious, were called soothsayers, seers, charmers,
prophets, enchanters, sorcerers, wizards, astrologers,
and impostors, but now, they are known as cler
We are no exception to the general rule, and
consequently have our sacred books as well as
the rest. Of course, it is claimed by many of our
people that our books are the only true ones, the
only ones that the real God ever wrote, or had any
thing whatever to do with. They insist that all
other sacred books were written by hypocrites and
impostors ; that the Jews were the only people that
God ever had any personal intercourse with, and that
all other prophets and seers were inspired only by im
pudence and mendacity. True, it seems somewhat
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 41
strange that God should have chosen a barbarous
and unknown people who had little or nothing to do
with the other nations of the earth, as his messengers
to the rest of mankind.
It is not easy to account for an infinite God
making people so low in the scale of intellect as
to require a revelation. Neither is it easy to per
ceive why, if a revelation was necessary for all,
it was made only to a few. Of course, I know that it
is extremely wicked to suggest these thoughts, and
that ignorance is the only armor that can effectually
protect you from the wrath of God. I am aware
that investigators with all their genius, never find
the road to heaven ; that those who look where
they are going are sure to miss it, and that only
those who voluntarily put out their eyes and
implicitly depend upon blindness can surely keep the
Whoever reads our sacred book is compelled to
believe it or suffer forever the torments of the lost.
We are told that we have the privilege of examining
it for ourselves ; but this privilege is only extended
to us on the condition that we believe it whether it
appears reasonable or not. We may disagree with
others as much as we please upon the meaning of
42 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
all passages in the bible, but we must not deny
the truth of a single word. We must believe
that the book is inspired. If we obey its every pre
cept without believing in its inspiration we will be
damned just as certainly as though we disobeyed its
every word. We have no right to weigh it in the
scales of reason to test it by the laws of nature,
or the facts of observation and experience. To
do this, we are told, is to put ourselves above the
word of God, and sit in judgment on the works
of our creator.
For my part, I cannot admit that belief is a volun
tary thing. It seems to me that evidence, even in
spite of ourselves, will have its weight, and that
whatever our wish may be, we are compelled to stand
with fairness by the scales, and give the exact result.
It will not do to say that we reject the bible because
we are wicked. Our wickedness must be ascertained
not from our belief but from our acts.
I am told by the clergy that I ought not to attack
the bible ; that I am leading thousands to perdition
and rendering certain the damnation of my own soul.
They have had the kindness to advise me that, if my
object is to make converts, I am pursuing the wrong
course. They tell me to use gentler expressions,
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 43
and more cunning words. Do they really wish
me to make more converts? If their advice is
honest, they are traitors to their trust. If their advice
is not honest, then they are unfair with me.
Certainly they should wish me to pursue the course
that will make the fewest converts, and yet they pre
tend to tell me how my influence could be increased.
It may be, that upon this principle John Bright
advises America to adopt free trade, so that our
country can become a successful rival of Great Britain.
Sometimes I think that even ministers are not en
Notwithstanding the advice of the clergy, I have
concluded to pursue my own course, to tell my honest
thoughts, and to have my freedom in this world
whatever my fate may be in the next.
The real oppressor, enslaver and corrupter of the
people is the bible. That book is the chain that
binds, the dungeon that holds the clergy. That book
spreads the pall of superstition over the colleges and
schools. That book puts out the eyes of science, and
makes honest investigation a crime. That book
unmans the politician and degrades the people.
That book fills the world with bigotry, hypocrisy
and fear. It plays the same part in our country
44 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
that has been played by " sacred records " in all
the nations of the world.
A little while ago I saw one of the bibles of the
Middle Ages. It was about two feet in length, and
one and a half in width. It had immense oaken
covers, with hasps, and clasps, and hinges large
enough almost for the doors of a penitentiary. It
was covered with pictures of winged angels and
aureoled saints. In my imagination I saw this book
carried to the cathedral altar in solemn pomp heard
the chant of robed and kneeling priests, felt the
strange tremor of the organ s peal ; saw the colored
light streaming through windows stained and touched
by blood and flame the swinging censer with its
perfumed incense rising to the mighty roof, dim with
height and rich with legend carved in stone, while on
the walls was hung, written in light, and shade, and
all the colors that can tell of joy and tears, the pictured
history of the martyred Christ. The people fell upon
their knees. The book was opened, and the priest
read the messages from God to man. To the multi-
tude, the book itself was evidence enough that it was
not the work of human hands. How could those
little marks and lines and dots contain, like tombs, the
thoughts of men, and how could they, touched by a
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 45
ray of light from human eyes, give up their dead ?
How could these characters span the vast chasm
dividing the present from the past, and make it
possible for the living still to hear the voices of the
r-|-\HE first five books in our bible are known as the
J_ Pentateuch. For a long time it was supposed
that Moses was the author, and among the ignorant
the supposition still prevails. As a matter of fact, it
seems to be well settled that Moses had nothing to
do with these books, and that they were not written
until he had been dust and ashes for hundreds of
years. But, as all the churches still insist that he was
the author, that he wrote even an account of his own
death and burial, let us speak of him as though these
books were in fact written by him. As the christians
maintain that God was the real author, it makes but
little difference whom he employed as his pen, or
Nearly all authors of sacred books have given an
account of the creation of the universe, the origin of
matter, and the destiny of the human race. Nearly
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 47
all have pointed out the obligation that man is under
to his creator for having placed him upon the earth,
and allowed him to live and suffer, and have taught
that nothing short of the most abject worship could
possibly compensate God for his trouble and labor
suffered and done for the good of man. They have
nearly all insisted that we should thank God for all
that is good in life ; but they have not all informed
us as to whom we should hold responsible for the
evils we endure.
Moses differed from most of the makers of sacred
books by his failure to say anything of a future life,
by failing to promise heaven, and to threaten hell.
Upon the subject of a future state, there is not one
word in the Pentateuch. Probably at that early day
God did not deem it important to make a revelation
as to the eternal destiny of man. He seems to have
thought that he could control the Jews, at least, by
rewards and punishments in this world, and so he
kept the frightful realities of eternal joy and torment
a profound secret from the people of his choice. He
thought it far more important to tell the Jews their
origin than to enlighten them as to their destiny.
We must remember that every tribe and nation
has some way in which, the more striking phenomena
48 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
of nature are accounted for. These accounts are
handed down by tradition, changed by numberless
narrators as intelligence increases, or to account for
newly discovered facts, or for the purpose of satisfy
ing the appetite for the marvelous.
The way hi which a tribe or nation accounts for
day and night, the change of seasons, the fall of snow
and rain, the flight of birds, the origin of the rain
bow, the peculiarities of animals, the dreams of sleep,
the visions of the insane, the existence of earth
quakes, volcanoes, storms, lightning and the thousand
things that attract the attention and excite the
wonder, fear or admiration of mankind, may be called
the philosophy of that tribe or nation. And as all
phenomena are, by savage and barbaric man
accounted for as the action of intelligent beings for
the accomplishment of certain objects, and as these
beings were supposed to have the power to assist or
injure man, certain things were supposed necessary
for man to do in order to gain the assistance, and
avoid the anger of these gods. Out of this belief
grew certain ceremonies, and these ceremonies united
with the belief, formed religion ; and consequently
every religion has for its foundation a misconception
of the cause of phenomena.
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 49
All worship is necessarily based upon the
belief that some being exists who can, if he will,
change the natural order of events. The savage
prays to a stone that he calls a god, while the
Christian prays to a god that he calls a spirit,
and the prayers of both are equally useful. The
savage and the Christian put behind the Universe
an intelligent cause, and this cause whether repre
sented by one god or many, has been, in all ages, the
object of all worship. To carry a fetich, to utter a
prayer, to count beads, to abstain from food, to
sacrifice a lamb, a child or an enemy, are simply
different ways by which the accomplishment of the
same object is sought, and are all the offspring of the
Many systems of religion must have existed
many ages before the art of writing was discovered,
and must have passed through many changes before
the stories, miracles, histories, prophesies and mis
takes became fixed and petrified in written words.
After that, change was possible only by giving new
meanings to old words, a process rendered necessary
by the continual acquisition of facts somewhat incon
sistent with a literal interpretation of the " sacred
records." In this way an honest faith often prolongs
5o SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
its life by dishonest methods ; and in this way the
Christians of to-day are trying to harmonize the
Mosaic account of creation with the theories and
discoveries of modern science.
Admitting that Moses was the author of the
Pentateuch, or that he gave to the Jews a religion,
the question arises as to where he obtained his infor
mation. We are told by the theologians that he
received his knowledge from God, and that every
word he wrote was and is the exact truth. It is
admitted at the same time that he was an adopted
son of Pharaoh s daughter, and enjoyed the rank and
privilege of a prince. Under such circumstances, he
must have been well acquainted with the literature,
philosophy and religion of the Egyptians, and must
have known what they believed and taught as to the
creation of the world.
Now, if the account of the origin of this earth as
given by Moses is substantially like that given by
the Egyptians, then we must conclude that he learned
it from them. Should we imagine that he was
divinely inspired because he gave to the Jews what
the Egyptians had given him ?
The Egyptian priests taught first, that a god
created the original matter, leaving it in a state of
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 5 1
chaos ; second, that a god moulded it into form ;
third, that the breath of a god moved upon the face
of the deep ; fourth, that a god created simply by
saying " Let it be ; " fifth, that a god created light
before the sun existed.
Nothing can be clearer than that Moses received
from the Egyptians the principal parts of his narra
tive, making such changes and additions as were
necessary to satisfy the peculiar superstitions of his
If some man at the present day should assert that
he had received from God the theories of evolution,
the survival of the fittest, and the law of heredity,
and we should afterwards find that he was riot only
an Englishman, but had lived in the family of Charles
Darwin, we certainly would account for his having
these theories in a natural way, So, if Darwin him
self should pretend that he was inspired, and had
obtained his peculiar theories from God, we should
probably reply that his grandfather suggested the
the same ideas, and that Lamarck published substan
tially the same theories the same year that Mr.
Darwin was born.
Now, if we have sufficient courage, we will, by
the same course of reasoning, account for the story
52 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
of creation found in the bible. We will say that
it contains the belief of Moses, and that he received
his information from the Egyptians, and not from
God. If we take the account as the absolute truth
and use it for the purpose of determining the value
of modern thought, scientific advancement becomes
impossible. And even if the account of the Creation
as given by Moses should turn out to be true, and
should be so admitted by all the scientific world, the
claim that he was inspired would still be without the
least particle of proof. We would be forced to admit
that he knew more than we had supposed. It cer
tainly is no proof that a man is inspired simply
because he is right.
No one pretends that Shakespeare was inspired,
and yet all the writers of the books of the Old Testa
ment put together, could not have produced
Why should we, looking upon some rough and
awkward thing, or god in stone, say that it must have
been produced by some inspired sculptor, and with the
same breath pronounce the Venus de Milo to be the
work of man? Why should we, looking at some
ancient daub of angel, saint or virgin, say its painter
must have been assisted by a god?
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 53
Let us account for all we see by the facts we
know. If there are things for which we cannot
account, let us wait for light. To account for any
thing by supernatural agencies is, in fact to say that
we do not know. Theology is not what we know
about God, but what we do not know about Nature.
In order to increase our respect for the bible, it
became necessary for the priests to exalt and extol
that book, and at the same time to decry and belittle
the reasoning powers of man. The whole power of
the pulpit has been used for hundreds of years to
destroy the confidence of man in himself to induce
him to distrust his own powers of thought, to believe
that he was wholly unable to decide any question for
himself, and that all human virtue consists in faith
and obedience. The Church has said, " Believe, and
obey! If you reason, you will become an unbeliever,
and unbelievers will be lost. If you disobey, you
will do so through vain pride and curiosity, and will,
like Adam and Eve, be thrust from paradise
forever ! "
For my part, I care nothing for what the Church
says, except in so far as it accords with my reason ;
and the bible is nothing to me, only in so far as it
agrees with what I think or know.
54 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
All books should be examined in the same spirit,
and truth should be welcomed and falsehood ex
posed, no matter in what volume they may be
Let us in this spirit examine the Peutateuch ;
and if anything appears unreasonable, contradictory
or absurd, let us have the honesty and courage
to admit it. Certainly no good can result either
from deceiving ourselves or others. Many millions
have implicitly believed this book, and have
just as implicitly believed that polygamy was
sanctioned by God. Millions have regarded this
book as the foundation of all human progress,
and at the same time looked upon slavery as a
divine institution. Millions have declared this book
to have been infinitely holy, and to prove that
they were right, have imprisoned, robbed and
burned their fellow men. The inspiration of this
book has been established by famine, sword and
fire, by dungeon, chain and whip, by dagger and
by rack, by force and fear and fraud, and genera
tions have been frightened by threats of hell, and
bribed with promises of heaven.
Let us examine a portion of this book, not in the
darkness of our fear, but in the light of reason.
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
And first, let us examine the account given of
the Creation of this world, commenced, according to
the bible, on Monday morning about five thousand
eight hundred and eighty-three years ago.
MOSES commences his story by telling us that
in the beginning God created the heaven
and the earth.
If this means anything, it means that God
produced, caused to exist, called into being, the
heaven and the earth. It will not do to say that he
formed the heaven and the earth of previously
existing matter. Moses conveys, and intended to
convey the idea that the matter of which the heaven
and the earth are composed, was created.
It is impossible for me to conceive of something
being created from nothing. Nothing, regarded in
the light of a raw material, is a decided failure. I
cannot conceive of matter apart from force. Neither
is it possible to think of force disconnected with
matter. You cannot imagine matter going back to
absolute nothing. Neither can you imagine nothing
being changed into something. You may be
eternally damned if you do not say that you can
conceive these things, but you cannot conceive them.
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 5/
Such is the constitution of the human mind that it
cannot even think of a commencement or an end of
matter, or force.
If God created the universe, there was a time
when he commenced to create. Back of that com
mencement there must have been an eternity. In
that eternity what was this God doing? He certainly
did not think. There was nothing to think about.
He did not remember. Nothing had ever happened.
What did he do? Can you imagine anything more
absurd than an infinite intelligence in infinite nothing
wasting an eternity?
I do not pretend to tell how all these things really
are ; but I do insist that a statement that cannot
possibly be comprehended by any human being, and
that appears utterly impossible, repugnant to every
fact of experience, and contrary to everything that
we really know, must be rejected by every honest
We can conceive of eternity, because we cannot
conceive of a cessation of time. We can conceive of
infinite space because we cannot conceive of so much
matter that our imagination will not stand upon the
farthest star, and see infinite space beyond. In other
words, we cannot conceive of a cessation of time ;
58 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
therefore eternity is a necessity of the mind.
Eternity sustains the same relation to time that space
does to matter.
In the time of Moses, it was perfectly safe for him
to write an account of the creation of the world. He
had simply to put in form the crude notions of the
people. At that time, no other Jew could have
written a better account. Upon that subject he felt
at liberty to give his imagination full play. There
was no one who could authoritatively contradict any
thing he might say. It was substantially the same
story that had been imprinted in curious characters
upon the clay records of Babylon, the gigantic
monuments of Egypt, and the gloomy temples of
India. In those days there was an almost infinite
difference between the educated and ignorant. The
people were controlled almost entirely by signs and
wonders. By the lever of fear, priests moved the
world. The sacred records were made and kept,
and altered by them. The people could not read,
and looked upon one who could, as almost a god.
In our day it is hard to conceive of the influence of
an educated class in a barbarous age. It was only
necessary to produce the " sacred record," and
ignorance fell upon its face. The people were taught
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
that the record was inspired, and therefore true.
They were not taught that it was true, and therefore
After all, the real question is not whether the
bible is inspired, but whether it is true. If it is true,
it does not need to be inspired. If it is true, it
makes no difference whether it was written by a man
or a god. The multiplication table is just as useful,
just as true as though God had arranged the figures
himself. If the bible is really true, the claim of
inspiration need not be urged ; and if it is not true,
its inspiration can hardly be established. As a
matter of fact, the truth does not need to be inspired.
Nothing needs inspiration except a falsehood or a
mistake. Where truth ends, where probability stops,
inspiration begins. A fact never went into partner
ship with a miracle. Truth does not need the
assistance of miracle. A fact will fit every other
fact in the Universe, because it is the product of all
other facts. A lie will fit nothing except another lie
made for the express purpose of fitting it. After a
while the man gets tired of lying, and then the last
lie will not fit the next fact, and then there is an
opportunity to use a miracle. Just at that point, it
is necessary to have a little inspiration.
60 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
It seems to me that reason is the highest attribute
of man, and that if there can be any communication
from God to man, it must be addressed to his reason.
It does not seem possible that in order to understand
a message from God it is absolutely essential to
throw our reason away. How could God make
known his will to any being destitute of reason?
How can any man accept as a revelation from God
that which is unreasonable to him ? God cannot
make a revelation to another man for me. He must
make it to me, and until he convinces my reason that
it is true, I cannot receive it.
The statement that in the beginning God created
the heaven and the earth, I cannot accept. It is
contrary to my reason, and I cannot believe it. It
appears reasonable to me that force has existed from
eternity. Force cannot, as it appears to me, exist
apart from matter. Force, in its nature, is forever
active, and without matter it could not act ; and so I
think matter must have existed forever. To con
ceive of matter without force, or of force without
matter, or of a time when neither existed, or of
a being who existed for an eternity without
either, and who out of nothing created both, is to
me utterly impossible. I may be damned on this
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 6 1
account, but I cannot help it. In my judgment,
Moses was mistaken.
It will not do to say that Moses merely intended
to tell what God did, in making the heavens and the
earth out of matter then in existence. He distinctly
states that in the beginning God created them. If
this account is true, we must believe that God,
existing in infinite space surrounded by eternal
nothing, naught and void, created, produced, called
into being, willed into existence this universe of
The next thing we are told by this inspired
gentleman is, that God created light, and proceeded
to divide it from the darkness.
Certainly, the person who wrote this believed
that darkness was a thing, an entity, a material that
could get mixed and tangled up with light, and that
these entities, light and darkness, had to be separated.
In his imagination he probably saw God throwing
pieces and chunks of darkness on one side, and rays
and beams of light on the other. It is hard for a
man who has been born but once to understand
these things. For my part I cannot understand how
light can be separated from darkness. I had always
supposed that darkness was simply the absence of
62 . SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
light, and that under no circumstances could it be
necessary to take the darkness away from the light.
It is certain, however, that Moses believed darkness
to be a form of matter, because I find that in another
place he speaks of a darkness that could be felt.
They used to have on exhibition at Rome a bottle
of the darkness that overspread Egypt.
You cannot divide light from darkness any more
than you can divide heat from cold. Cold is an
absence of heat, and darkness is an absence of light.
I suppose that we have no conception of absolute
cold. We know only degrees of heat. Twenty
degrees below zero is just twenty degrees warmer
than forty degrees below zero. Neither cold nor
darkness are entities, and these words express simply
either the absolute or partial absence of heat or light.
I cannot conceive how light can be divided from
darkness, but I can conceive how a barbarian several
thousand years ago, writing upon a subject about
which he knew nothing, could make a mistake.
The creator of light could not have written in this
way. If such a being exists, he must have known
the nature of that " mode of motion " that paints the
earth on every eye, and clothes in garments seven-
hued this universe of worlds.
WE are next informed by Moses that " God
said Let there be a firmament in the midst
of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the
waters ; " and that " God made the firmament, and
divided the waters which were under the firmament
from the waters which were above the firmament."
What did the writer mean by the word firma
ment ? Theologians now tell us that he meant an
" expanse." This will not do. How could an
expanse divide the waters from the waters, so that
the waters above the expanse would not fall into and
mingle with the waters below the expanse ? The
truth is that Moses regarded the firmament as a solid
affair. It was where God lived, and where water
was kept. It was for this reason that they used to
pray for rain. They supposed that some angel could
with a lever raise a gate and let out the quantity of
moisture desired. It was with the water from this
firmament that the world was drowned when the
windows of heaven were opened. It was in this
64 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
firmament that the sons of God lived the sons who
" saw the daughters of men that they were fair and
took them wives of all which they chose/ The
issue of such marriages were giants, and " the same
became mighty men which were of old, men of
Nothing is clearer than that Moses regarded the
firmament as a vast material division that separated
the waters of the world, and upon whose floor God
lived, surrounded by his sons. In no other way could
he account for rain. Where did the water come
from ? He knew nothing about the laws of evapo
ration. He did not know that the sun wooed with
amorous kisses the waves of the sea, and that they,
clad in glorified mist rising to meet their lover, were,
by disappointment, changed to tears and fell as
The idea that the firmament was the abode of
the Deity must have been in the mind of Moses
when he related the dream of Jacob. " And he
dreamed, and behold, a ladder set upon the earth
and the top of it reached to heaven ; and behold the
angels of God ascending and descending on it ; and
behold the Lord stood above it and said, I am the
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 65
So, when the people were building the tower of
Babel " the Lord came down to see the city, and the
tower which the children of men builded. And the
Lord said, Behold the people is one, and they have
all one language : and this they begin to do ; and
nothing will be restrained from them which they
imagined to do. Go to, let us go down and confound
their language that they may not understand one
another s speech."
The man who wrote that absurd account must
have believed that God lived above the earth, in the
firmament. The same idea was in the mind of the
Psalmist when he said that God " bowed the heavens
and came down."
Of course, God could easily remove any person
bodily to heaven, as it was but a little way above
the earth. " Enoch walked with God, and he was
not, for God took him." The accounts in the bible
of the ascension of Elijah, Christ and St. Paul were
born of the belief that the firmament was the dwelling-
place of God. It probably never occurred to these
writers that if the firmament was seven or eight miles
away, Enoch and the rest would have been frozen
perfectly stiff long before the journey could have
been completed. Possibly Elijah might have made
66 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
the voyage, as he was carried to heaven in a chariot
of fire "by a whirlwind."
The truth is, that Moses was mistaken, and
upon that mistake the Christians located their
heaven and their hell. The telescope destroyed
the firmament, did away with the heaven of the
New Testament, rendered the ascension of our
Lord and the assumption of his Mother infinitely
absurd, crumbled to chaos the gates and palaces of
the New Jerusalem, and in their places gave to man
a wilderness of worlds.
WE are next informed by the historian of
Creation, that after God had finished
making the firmament and had succeeded in dividing
the waters by means of an " expanse," he proceeded
"to gather the waters on the earth together in seas,
so that the dry land might appear."
Certainly the writer of this did not have any
conception of the real form of the earth. He could
not have known anything of the attraction of gravi
tation. He must have regarded the earth as flat and
supposed that it required considerable force and
power to induce the water to leave the mountains
and collect in the valleys. Just as soon as the water
was forced to run down hill, the dry land appeared,
and the grass began to grow, and the mantles of
green were thrown over the shoulders of the hills,
and the trees laughed into bud and blossom, and the
branches were laden with fruit. And all this
happened before a ray had left the quiver of the sun,
before a glittering beam had thrilled the bosom of a
68 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
flower, and before the Dawn with trembling hands
had drawn aside the curtains of the East and
welcomed to her arms the eager god of Day.
It does not seem to me that grass and trees could
grow and ripen into seed and fruit without the sun.
According to the account, this aU happened on the
third day. Now, if, as the christians say, Moses did
not mean by the word day a period of twenty-four
hours, but an immense and almost measureless space
of time, and as God did not, according to this view
make any animals until the fifth day, that is, not for
millions of years after he made the grass and trees,
for what purpose did he cause the trees to bear
Moses says that God said on the third day, " Let
the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed,
and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose
seed is in itself upon the earth ; and it was so. And
the earth brought forth grass and herb yielding seed
after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit whose seed
was in itself after his kind ; and God saw that it was
good, and the evening and the morning were the
There was nothing to eat this fruit ; not an insect
with painted wings sought the honey of the flowers ;
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 69
not a single living, breathing thing upon the earth.
Plenty of grass, a great variety of herbs, an abundance
of fruit, but not a mouth in all the world. If Moses
is right, this state of things lasted only two days ; but
if the modern theologians are correct, it continued
for millions of ages.
" It is now well known that the organic history of
the earth can be properly divided into five epochs
the Primordial, Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, and
Quaternary. Each of these epochs is characterized
by animal and vegetable life peculiar to itself. In the
FIRST will be found Algae and Skull-less Vertebrates,
in the SECOND, Ferns and Fishes, in the THIRD, Pine
Forests and Reptiles, in the FOURTH, Foliaceous
Forests and Mammals, and in the FIFTH, Man/
How much more reasonable this is than the idea
that the Earth was covered with grass, and herbs,
and trees loaded with fruit for millions of years
before an animal existed.
There is, in Nature, an even balance forever kept
between the total amounts of animal and vegetable
life. " In her wonderful economy she must form and
bountifully nourish her vegetable progeny twin-
brother life to her, with that of animals. The per
fect balance between plant existences and animal
/O SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
existences must always be maintained, while matter
courses through the eternal circle, becoming each in
turn. If an animal be resolved into its ultimate
constituents in a period according to the surrounding
circumstances, say, of four hours, of four months, of
four years, or even of four thousand years, for it is
impossible to deny that there may be instances of all
these periods during which the process has continued
those elements which assume the gaseous form
mingle at once with the atmosphere and are taken up
from it without delay by the ever-open mouths of
vegetable life. By a thousand pores in every leaf
the carbonic acid which renders the atmosphere unfit
for animal life is absorbed, the carbon being sepa
rated, and assimilated to form the vegetable fibre,
which, as wood, makes and furnishes our houses and
ships, is burned for our warmth, or is stored up
under pressure for coal. All this carbon has played
its part, and many parts in its time, as animal
existences from monad up to man. Our mahogany
of to-day has been many negroes in its turn, and
before the African existed, was integral portions of
many a generation of extinct species.
It seems reasonable to suppose that certain kinds
of vegetation and certain kinds of animals should
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 7 1
exist together, and that as the character of the
vegetation changed, a corresponding change would
take place in the animal world. It may be that I am
led to these conclusions by " total depravity," or that
I lack the necessary humility of spirit to satisfactorily
harmonize Hseckel and Moses ; or that I am carried
away by pride, blinded by reason, given over to
hardness of heart that I might be damned, but I
never can believe that the earth was covered with
leaves, and buds, and flowers, and fruits before the
sun with glittering spear had driven back the hosts
FTER the world was covered with vegetation, it
occurred to Moses that it was about time to
make a sun and moon ; and so we are told that on
the fourth day God said, "Let there be light in the
firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the
night ; and let them be for signs and for seasons, and
for days and years ; and let them be for lights in the
firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth ;
and it was so. And God made two great lights ; the
greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to
rule the night; he made the stars also."
Can we believe that the inspired writer had any
idea of the size of the sun ? Draw a circle five inches
in diameter, and by its side thrust a pin through the
paper. The hole made by the pin will sustain about
the same relation to the circle that the earth does to
the sun. Did he know that the sun was eight
hundred and sixty thousand miles in diameter ; that
it was enveloped in an ocean of fire thousands of
miles in depth, hotter even than the Christian s hell,
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 73
over which sweep tempests of flame moving at the
rate of one hundred miles a second, compared with
which the wildest storm that ever wrecked the forests
of this world was but a calm ? Did he know that the
sun every moment of time throws out as much heat
as could be generated by the combustion of mill
ions upon millions of tons of coal? Did he know
that the volume of the Earth is less than one-millionth
of that of the sun ? Did he know of the one hundred
and four planets belonging to our solar system, all
children of the sun ? Did he know of Jupiter eighty-
five thousand miles in diameter, hundreds of times as
large as our earth, turning on his axis at the rate of
twenty-five thousand miles an hour accompanied by
four moons, making the tour of his orbit in fifty years,
a distance of three thousand million miles ? Did he
know anything about Saturn, his rings and his eight
moons ? Did he have the faintest idea that all these
planets were once a part of the sun ; that the vast
luminary was once thousands of millions of miles in
diameter; that Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter
and Mars were all born before our earth, and that by
no possibility could this world have existed three
days, nor three periods, nor three "good whiles"
before its source, the sun ?
74 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
Moses supposed the sun to be about three or four
feet in diameter and the moon about half that size.
Compared with the earth they were but simple
specks. This idea seems to have been shared by all
the "inspired" men. We find in the book of Joshua
that the sun stood still, and the moon stayed until
the people had avenged themselves upon their
enemies. "So the sun stood still in the midst
of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a
We are told that the sacred writer wrote in
common speech as we do when we talk about the
rising and setting of the sun, and that all he intended
to say was that the earth ceased to turn on its axis .
"for about a whole day."
My own opinion is that General Joshua knew no
more about the motions of the earth than he did about
mercy and justice. If he had known that the earth
turned upon its axis at the rate of a thousand miles
an hour, and swept in its course about the sun at the
rate of sixty-eight thousand miles an hour, he would
have doubled the hailstones, spoken of in the same
chapter, that the Lord cast down from heaven, and
allowed the sun and moon to rise and set in the
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 75
It is impossible to conceive of a more absurd
story than this about the stopping of the sun and
moon, and yet nothing so excites the malice of the
orthodox preacher as to call its truth in question.
Some endeavor to account for the phenomenon by
natural causes, while others attempt to show that God
could, by the refraction of light have made the sun
visible although actually shining on the opposite side
of the earth. The last hypothesis has been seriously
urged by ministers within the last few months. The
Rev. Henry M. Morey of South Bend, Indiana, says
" that the phenomenon was simply optical. The
rotary motion of the earth was not disturbed, but the
light of the sun was prolonged by the same laws of
refraction and reflection by which the sun now
appears to be above the horizon when it is really
below. The medium through which the sun s rays
passed may have been miraculously influenced so as
to have caused the sun to linger above the horizon
long after its usual time for disappearance."
This is the latest and ripest product of Christian
scholarship upon this question no doubt, but still it is
not entirely satisfactory to me. According to the
sacred account the sun did not linger, merely, above
the horizon, but stood still "in the midst of heaven
7 6 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
for about a whole day," that is to say, for about twelve
hours. If the air was miraculously changed, so that
it would refract the rays of the sun while the earth
turned over as usual for " about a whole day," then,
at the end of that time the sun must have been visible
in the east, that is, it must by that time have been
the next morning. According to this, that most
wonderful day must have been at least thirty-six
hours in length. We have first, the twelve hours of
natural light, then twelve hours of "refracted and
reflected" light. By that time it would again be
morning, and the sun would shine for twelve hours
more in the natural way, making thirty-six hours
If the Rev. Morey would depend a little less
on "refraction" and a little more on "reflection," he
would conclude that the whole story is simply a
barbaric myth and fable.
It hardly seems reasonable that God, if there is
one, would either stop the globe, change the consti
tution of the atmosphere or the nature of light simply
to afford Joshua an opportunity to kill people on that
day when he could just as easily have waited until the
next morning. It certainly cannot be very gratifying
to God for us to believe such childish things.
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 77
It has been demonstrated that force is eternal ;
that it is forever active, and eludes destruction by
change of form. Motion is a form of force, and all
arrested motion changes instantly to heat. The
earth turns upon its axis at about one thousand miles
an hour. Let it be stopped and a force beyond our
imagination is changed to heat. It has been calcu
lated that to stop the world would produce as much
heat as the burning of a solid piece of coal three
times the size of the earth. And yet we are asked
to believe that this was done in order that one
barbarian might defeat another. Such stories never
would have been written, had not the belief been
general that the heavenly bodies were as nothing
compared with the earth.
The view of Moses was acquiesced in by the
Jewish people and by the Christian world for thou
sands of years. It is supposed that Moses lived
about fifteen hundred years before Christ, and
although he was " inspired," and obtained his infor
mation directly from God, he did not know as much
about our solar system as the Chinese did a thousand
years before he was born. " The Emperor Chwen-
hio adopted as an epoch, a conjunction of the planets
Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, which has been
78 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
shown by M. Bailly to have occurred no less than
2449 years before Christ." The ancient Chinese
knew not only the motions of the planets, but they
could calculate eclipses. " In the reign of the
Emperor Chow-Kang, the chief astronomers, Ho
and Hi were condemned to death for neglecting
to announce a solar eclipse which took place 2169
B. C, a clear proof that the prediction of eclipses was
a part of the duty of the imperial astronomers."
Is it not strange that a Chinaman should find out
by his own exertions more about the material
universe than Moses could when assisted by its
About eight hundred years after God gave
Moses the principal facts about the creation of the
" heaven and the earth " he performed another
miracle far more wonderful than stopping the world.
On this occasion he not only stopped the earth, but
actually caused it to turn the other way. A Jewish
king was sick, and God, in order to convince him
that he would ultimately recover, offered to make
the shadow on the dial go forward, or backward
ten degrees. The king thought it was too easy a
thing to make the shadow go forward, and asked
that it be turned back. Thereupon, " Isaiah the
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 79
prophet cried unto the Lord, and he brought the
shadow ten degrees backward by which it had gone
down in the dial of Ahaz." I hardly see how this
miracle could be accounted for even by " refraction"
and " reflection."
It seems, from the account, that this stupendous
miracle was performed after the king had been
cured. The account of the shadow going backward
is given in the eleventh verse of the twentieth
chapter of Second Kings, while the cure is given in
the seventh verse of the same chapter. " And
Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs. And they took and
laid it on the boil, and he recovered."
Stopping the world and causing it to turn back
ten degrees after that, seems to have been, as the
boil was already cured by the figs, a useless display
The easiest way to account for all these wonders
is to say that the " inspired" writers were mistaken.
In this way a fearful burden is lifted from the credulity
of man, and he is left free to believe the evidences of
his own senses, and the demonstrations of science.
In this way he can emancipate himself from the
slavery of superstition, the control of the barbaric
dead, and the despotism of the church.
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
Only about a hundred years ago, Buffon, the
naturalist, was compelled by the faculty of theology
at Paris to publicly renounce fourteen " errors" in his
work on Natural History because they were at
variance with the Mosaic account of creation. The
Pentateuch is still the scientific standard of the
church, and ignorant priests, armed with that, pro
nounce sentence upon the vast accomplishments of
-HE MADE THE STARS ALSO."
MOSES came very near forgetting about the
stars, and only gave five words to all the
hosts of heaven. Can it be possible that he knew
anything about the stars beyond the mere fact that
he saw them shining above him ?
Did he know that the nearest star, the one we
ought to be the best acquainted with, is twenty-one
billion of miles away, and that it is a sun shining by
its own light ? Did he know of the next, that is
thirty-seven billion miles distant ? Is it possible that
he was acquainted with Sirius, a sun two thousand
six hundred and eighty-eight times larger than our
own, surrounded by a system of heavenly bodies,
several of which are already known, and distant from
us eighty-two billion miles ? Did he know that the
Polar star that tells the mariner his course and
guided slaves to liberty and joy, is distant from this
little world two hundred and ninety-two billion miles,
82 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
and that Capella wheels and shines one hundred and
thirty-three billion miles beyond ? Did he know
that it would require about seventy-two years for
light to reach us from this star ? Did he know that
light travels one hundred and eighty-five thousand
miles a second? Did he know that some stars
are so far away in the infinite abysses that five
millions of years are required for their light to reach
this globe ?
If this is true, and if as the bible tells us, the
stars were made after the earth, then this world has
been wheeling in its orbit for at least five million
It may be replied that it was not the intention
of God to teach geology and astronomy. Then
why did he say anything upon these subjects ?
and if he did say anything, why did he not give
According to the sacred records God created, on
the first day, the heaven and the earth, "moved upon
the face of the waters," and made the light. On the
second day he made the firmament or the "expanse"
and divided the waters. On the third day he
gathered the waters into seas, let the dry land appear
and caused the earth to bring forth grass, herbs and
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 83
fruit trees, and on the fourth day he made the sun,
moon and stars and set them in the firmament of
heaven to give light upon the earth. This division
of labor is very striking. The work of the other
days is as nothing when compared with that of the
fourth. Is it possible that it required the same time
and labor to make the grass, herbs and fruit trees,
that it did to fill with countless constellations the
infinite expanse of space ?
WE are then told that on the next day " God
said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly
the moving creatures that hath life, and fowl that
may fly above the earth in the open firmament of
heaven. And God created great whales and every
living creature which the waters brought forth
abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl
after his kind, and God saw that it was good. And
God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply
and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply
in the earth."
Is it true that while the dry land was covered
with grass, and herbs, and trees bearing fruit, the
ocean was absolutely devoid of life, and so remained
for millions of years ?
If Moses meant twenty-four hours by the word
day, then it would make but little difference on which
of the six days animals were made ; but if the word
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 85
day was used to express millions of ages, during
which life was slowly evolved from monad up to
man, then the account becomes infinitely absurd,
puerile and foolish. There is not a scientist of high
standing who will say that in his judgment the earth
was covered with fruit bearing trees before the
moners, the ancestors it may be of the human race,
felt in Laurentian seas the first faint throb of life.
Nor is there one who will declare that there was a
single spire of grass before the sun had poured
upon the world his flood of gold.
Why should men in the name of religion try to
harmonize the contradictions that exist between
Nature and a book ? Why should philosophers be
denounced for placing more reliance upon what they
know than upon what they have been told ? If
there is a God, it is reasonably certain that he made
the world, but it is by no means certain that he is
the author of the bible. Why then should we not
place greater confidence in Nature than in a book ?
And even if this God made not only the world but
the book besides, it does not follow that the book is
the best part of Creation, and the only part that we
will be eternally punished for denying. It seems to
me that it is quite as important to know something
86 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
of the solar system, something of the physical history
of this globe, as it is to know the adventures of
Jonah or the diet of Ezekiel. For my part, I would
infinitely prefer to know all the results of scientific
investigation, than to be inspired as Moses was.
Supposing the bible to be true ; why is it any worse
or more wicked for free-thinkers to deny it, than for
priests to deny the doctrine of Evolution, or the
dynamic theory of heat ? Why should we be damned
for laughing at Samson and his foxes, while others,
holding the Nebular Hypothesis in utter contempt,
go straight to heaven ? It seems to me that a belief
in the great truths of science are fully as essential to
salvation, as the creed of any church. We are
taught that a man may be perfectly acceptable to
God even if he denies the rotundity of the earth, the
Copernican system, the three laws of Kepler, the
indestructibility of matter and the attraction of
gravitation. And we are also taught that a man
may be right upon all these questions, and yet, for
failing to believe in the " scheme of salvation," be
ON this, the last day of creation, God said:
" Let the earth bring forth the living creature
after his kind, cattle and creeping thing and beast of
the earth after his kind ; and it was so. And God
made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle
after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon
the earth after his kind; and God saw that it was
Now, is it true that the seas were filled with fish,
the sky with fowls, and the earth covered with grass,
and herbs, and fruit bearing trees, millions of ages
before there was a creeping thing in existence ?
Must we admit that plants and animals were the
result of the fiat of some incomprehensible intelligence
independent of the operation of what are known as
natural causes ? Why is a miracle any more
necessary to account for yesterday than for to-day
or for to-morrow ?
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
If there is an infinite Power, nothing can be more
certain than that this Power works in accordance with
what we call law, that is, by and through natural
causes. If anything can be found without a pedigree
of natural antecedents, it will then be time enough to
talk about the fiat of creation. There must have
been a time when plants and animals did not exist
upon this globe. The question, and the only question
is, whether they were naturally produced. If the
account given by Moses is true, then the vegetable
and animal existences are the result of certain special
fiats of creation entirely independent of the operation
of natural causes. This is so grossly improbable, so at
variance with the experience and observation of man
kind, that it cannot be adopted without abandoning
forever the basis of scientific thought and action.
It may be urged that we do not understand the
sacred record correctly. To this it may be replied
that for thousands of years the account of the creation
has, by the Jewish and Christian world, been regarded
as literally true. If it was inspired, of course God
must have known just how it would be understood,
and consequently must have intended that it should
be understood just as he knew it would be. One
man writing to another, may mean one thing, and
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 89
yet be understood as meaning something else.
Now, if the writer knew that he would be misunder
stood, and also knew that he could use other words
that would convey his real meaning, but did not, we
would say that he used words on purpose to mislead,
and was not an honest man.
If a being of infinite wisdom wrote the bible, or
caused it to be written, he must have known exactly
how his words would be interpreted by all the world,
and he must have intended to convey the very
meaning that was conveyed. He must have known
that by reading that book, man would form erroneous
views as to the shape, antiquity, and size of this
world ; that he would be misled as to the time and
order of creation ; that he would have the most
childish and contemptible views of the creator ; that
the "sacred word" would be used to support slavery
and polygamy ; that it would build dungeons for the
good, and light fagots to consume the brave, and
therefore he must have intended that these results
should follow. He also must have known that
thousands and millions of men and women never
could believe his bible, and that the number of unbe
lievers would increase in the exact ratio of civilization,
and therefore, he must have intended that result.
9O SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
Let us understand this. An honest finite being
uses the best words, in his judgment, to convey his
meaning. This is the best he can do, because he
cannot certainly know the exact effect of his words
on others. But an infinite being must know not only
the real meaning of the words, but the exact meaning
they will convey to every reader and hearer. He
must know every meaning that they are capable of
conveying to every mind. He must also know what
explanations must be made to prevent misconception.
If an infinite being cannot, in making a revelation to
man, use such words that every person to whom a
revelation is essential will understand distinctly what
that revelation is, then a revelation from God through
the instrumentality of language is impossible, or it is
not essential that all should understand it correctly.
It may be urged that millions have not the capacity
to understand a revelation, although expressed in the
plainest words. To this it seems a sufficient reply
to ask, why a being of infinite power should create
men so devoid of intelligence, that he cannot by any
means make known to them his will ? We are told
that it is exceedingly plain, and that a wayfaring
man, though a fool, need not err therein. This
statement is refuted by the religious history of the
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 91
Christian world. Every sect is a certificate that God
has not plainly revealed his will to man. To each
reader the bible conveys a different meaning. About
the meaning of this booK, called a revelation, there
have been ages of war, and centuries of sword and
flame. If written by an infinite God, he must have
known that these results must follow; and thus
knowing, he must be responsible for all.
Is it not infinitely more reasonable to say that
this book is the work of man, that it is filled with
mingled truth and error, with mistakes and facts, and
reflects, too faithfully perhaps, the "very form and
pressure of its time?"
If there are mistakes in the bible, certainly they
were made by man. If there is anything contrary to
nature, it was written by man. If there is anything
immoral, cruel, heartless or infamous, it certainly was
never written by a being worthy of the adoration
LET US MAKE MAN.
WE are next informed by the author of the
Pentateuch that God said " Let us make
man in our image, after our likeness," and that
44 God created man in his own image, in the image
of God created he him male and female created he
If this account means anything, it means that
man was created in the physical image and likeness
of God. Moses while he speaks of man as having
been made in the image of God, never speaks of
God except as having the form of a man. He
speaks of God as " walking in the garden in the cool
of the day ; " and that Adam and Eve " heard his
voice." He is constantly telling what God said, and
in a thousand passages he refers to him as not only
having the human form, but as performing actions,
such as man performs. The God of Moses was a
God with hands, with feet, with the organs of speech.
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 93
A God of passion, of hatred, of revenge, of affection,
of repentance; a God who made mistakes: in
other words, an immense and powerful man.
It will not do to say that Moses meant to convey
the idea that God made man in his mental or moral
image. Some have insisted that man was made in
the moral image of God because he was made pure.
Purity cannot be manufactured. A moral character
cannot be made for man by a god. Every man
must make his own moral character. Consequently,
if God is infinitely pure, Adam and Eve were not
made in his image in that respect. Others say that
Adam and Eve were made in the mental image of
God. If it is meant by that, that they were created
with reasoning powers like, but not to the extent of
those possessed by a god, then this may be admitted.
But certainly this idea was not in the mind of Moses.
He regarded the human form as being in the image
of God, and for that reason always spoke of God as
having that form. No one can read the Pentateuch
without coming to the conclusion that the author
supposed that man was created in the physical like
ness of Deity. God said " Go to, let us go down."
" God smelled a sweet savor ; " " God repented him
that he had made man ; " " and God said ; " and
94 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
" walked ; " and " talked ; " and " rested." All these
expressions are inconsistent with any other idea than
that the person using them regarded God as having
the form of man.
As a matter of fact, it is impossible for a man to
conceive of a personal God, other than as a being
having the human form. No one can think of an
infinite being having the form of a horse, or of a
bird, or of any animal beneath man. It is one of
the necessities of the mind to associate forms with
intellectual capacities. The highest form of which
we have any conception is man s, and consequently,
his is the only form that we can find in imagination
to give to a personal God, because all other forms
are, in our minds, connected with lower intelligences.
It is impossible to think of a personal God as a
spirit without form. We can use these words, but
they do not convey to the mind any real and
tangible meaning. Every one who thinks of a
personal God at all, thinks of him as having the
human form. Take from God the idea of form ;
speak of him simply as an all pervading spirit
which means an all pervading something about
which we know nothing and Pantheism is the
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
We are told that God made man ; and the
question naturally arises, how was this done ? Was
it by a process of " evolution," " development ; "
the " transmission of acquired habits ; " the " sur
vival of the fittest," or was the necessary amount of
clay kneaded to the proper consistency, and then
by the hands of Gocl moulded into form ? Modern
science tells that man has been evolved, through
countless epochs, from the lower forms ; that he is
the result of almost an infinite number of actions,
reactions, experiences, states, forms, wants and adap
tations. Did Moses intend to convey such a mean
ing, or did he believe that God took a sufficient
amount of dust, made it the proper shape, and
breathed into it the breath of life ? Can any
believer in the bible give any reasonable account of
this process of creation ? Is it possible to imagine
what was really done ? Is there any theologian
who will contend that man was created directly from
the earth ? Will he say that man was made sub
stantially as he now is, with all his muscles properly
developed for walking and speaking, and performing
every variety of human action ? That all his bones
were formed as they now are, and all the relations of
nerve, ligament, brain and motion as they are to-day ?
96 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
Looking back over the history of animal life from
the lowest to the highest forms, we find that there
has been a slow and gradual development ; a certain
but constant relation between want and production ;
between use and form. The Moner is said to be the
simplest form of animal life that has yet been found.
It has been described as " an organism without
organs." It is a kind of structureless structure ; a
little mass of transparent jelly that can flatten itself
out, and can expand and contract around its food.
It can feed without a mouth, digest without a stomach,
walk without feet, and reproduce itself by simple
division. By taking this Moner as the commence
ment of animal life, or rather as the first animal, it is
easy to follow the development of the organic
structure through all the forms of life to man himself.
In this way finally every muscle, bone and joint,
every organ, form and function may be accounted for.
In this way, and in this way only, can the existence
of rudimentary organs be explained. Blot from the
human mind the ideas of evolution, heredity, adapta
tion, and "the survival of the fittest," with which it has
been enriched by Lamarck, Goethe, Darwin, Haeckel
and Spencer, and all the facts in the history of animal
life become utterly disconnected and meaningless.
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 97
Shall we throw away all that has been dis
covered with regard to organic life, and in its
place take the statements of one who lived in the
rude morning of a barbaric day ? Will anybody now
contend that man was a direct and independent
creation, and sustains and bears no relation to the
animals below him ? Belief upon this subject must
be governed at last by evidence. Man cannot
believe as he pleases. He can control his speech,
and can say that he believes or disbelieves ; but after
all, his will cannot depress or raise the scales with
which his reason finds the worth and weight of facts.
If this is not so, investigation, evidence, judgment
and reason are but empty words.
I ask again, how were Adam and Eve created ?
In one account they are created male and female,
and apparently at the same time. In the next
account, Adam is made first, and Eve a long time
afterwards, and from a part of the man. Did God
simply by his creative fiat cause a rib slowly to
expand, grow and divide into nerve, ligament, car
tilage and flesh ? How was the woman created
from a rib ? How was man created simply from
dust ? For my part, I cannot believe this statement.
I may suffer for this in the world to come ; and may,
98 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
millions of years hence, sincerely wish that I had
never investigated the subject, but had been content
to take the ideas of the dead. I do not believe that
any Deity works in that way. So far as my experience
goes, there is an unbroken procession of cause and
effect. Each thing is a necessary link in an infinite
chain ; and I cannot conceive of this chain being
broken even for one instant. Back of the simplest
moner there is a cause, and back of that another, and
so on, it seems to me, forever. In my philosophy I
postulate neither beginning nor ending.
If the Mosaic account is true, we know how long
man has been upon this earth. If that account can
be relied on, the first man was made about five
thousand eight hundred and eighty-three years ago.
Sixteen hundred and fifty-six years after the making
of the first man, the inhabitants of the world, with
the exception of eight people, were destroyed by a
flood. This flood occurred only about four thousand
two hundred and twenty-seven years ago. If this ac
count is correct, at that time, only one kind of men
existed. Noah and his family were certainly of the
same blood. It therefore follows that all the differences
we see between the various races of men have been
caused in about four thousand years. If the
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 99
account of the deluge is true, then since that event
all the ancient kingdoms of the earth were founded,
and their inhabitants passed through all the stages
of savage, nomadic, barbaric and semi-civilized life ;
through the epochs of Stone, Bronze and Iron ;
established commerce, cultivated the arts, built
cities, filled them with palaces and temples, invented
writing, produced a literature and slowly fell to
shapeless ruin. We must believe that all this has
happened within a period of four thousand years.
From representations found upon Egyptian
granite made more than three thousand years ago, we
know that the negro was as black, his lips as full, and
his hair as closely curled then as now. If we know
anything, we know that there was at that time sub
stantially the same difference between the Egyptian
and the Negro as now. If we know anything, we
know that magnificent statues were made in Egypt
four thousand years before our era that is to say,
about six thousand years ago. There was at the
World s Exposition, in the Egyptian department, a
statue of king Cephren, known to have been
chiseled more than six thousand years ago. In
other words, if the Mosaic account must be believed,
this statue was made before the world. We also
IOO SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
know, if we know anything, that men lived in
Europe with the hairy mammoth, the cave bear, the
rhinoceros, and the hyena. Among the bones of
these animals have been found the stone hatchets
and flint arrows of our ancestors. In the caves
where they lived have been discovered the remains
of these animals that had been conquered, killed and
devoured as food, hundreds of thousands of years
If these facts are true, Moses was mistaken.
For my part, I have infinitely more confidence in the
discoveries of to-day, than in the records of a bar
barous people. It will not now do to say that man
has existed upon this earth for only about six thou
sand years. One can hardly compute in his imag
ination the time necessary for man to emerge from
the barbarous state, naked and helpless, surrounded
by animals far more powerful than he, to progress
and finally create the civilizations of India, Egypt and
Athens. The distance from savagery to Shake
speare must be measured not by hundreds, but by
millions of years.
ND on the seventh day God ended his work
which he had made, and he rested on the
seventh day from all his work which he had made.
And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it ;
because that in it he had rested from all his work
which God created and made."
The great work had been accomplished, the world,
the sun, and moon, and all the hosts of heaven were
finished; the earth was clothed in green, the seas
were filled with life, the cattle wandered by the
brooks insects with painted wings were in the happy
air, Adam and Eve were making each other s
acquaintance, and God was resting from his work.
He was contemplating the accomplishments of a
Because he rested on that day he sanctified it,
and for that reason and for that alone, it was by the
Jews considered a holy day. If he only rested on
IO2 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
that day, there ought to be some account of what he
did the following Monday. Did he rest on that day ?
What did he do after he got rested ? Has he done
anything in the way of creation since Saturday
evening of the first week ?
It is now claimed by the " scientific" Christians
that the "days" of creation were not ordinary days
of twenty-four hours each, but immensely long
periods of time. If they are right, then how long
was the seventh day? Was that, too, a geologic
period covering thousands of ages? That cannot
be, because Adam and Eve were created the Saturday
evening before, and according to the bible that was
about five thousand eight hundred and eighty-three
years ago. I cannot state the time exactly, because
there have been as many as one hundred and forty
different opinions given by learned biblical students
as to the time between the creation of the world and
the birth of Christ. We are quite certain, however,
that, according to the bible, it is not more than six
thousand years since the creation of Adam. From
this it would appear that the seventh day was not a
geologic epoch, but was in fact a period of less than
six thousand years, and probably of only twenty-four
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 1 03
The theologians who " answer " these things may
take their choice. If they take the ground that the
" days " were periods of twenty-four hours, then
geology will force them to throw away the whole
account. If, on the other hand, they admit that the
days were vast "periods," then the sacredness of the
sabbath must be given up.
There is found in the bible no intimation that
there was the least difference in the days. They are
all spoken of in the same way. It may be replied
that our translation is incorrect. If this is so, then
only those who understand Hebrew, have had a
revelation from God, and all the rest have been
How is it possible to sanctify a space of time ?
Is rest holier than labor ? If there is any difference
between days, ought not that to be considered best
in which the most useful labor has been performed ?
Of all the superstitions of mankind, this insanity
about the " sacred sabbath " is the most absurd. The
idea of feeling it a duty to be solemn and sad one-
seventh of the time ! To think that we can please
an infinite being by staying in some dark and sombre
room, instead of walking in the perfumed fields !
Why should God hate to see a man happy ? Why
IO4 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
should it excite his wrath to see a family in the
woods, by some babbling stream, talking, laughing
and loving? Nature works on that "sacred" day.
The earth turns, the rivers run, the trees grow, buds
burst into flower, and birds fill the air with somr.
Why should we look sad, and think about death, and
hear about hell ? Why should that day be filled with
gloom instead of joy?
A poor mechanic, working all the week in dust
and noise, needs a day of rest and joy, a day to visit
stream and wood a day to live with wife and child ;
a day in which to laugh at care, and gather hope and
strength for toils to come. And his weary wife needs
a breath of sunny air, away from street and wall,
amid the hills or by the margin of the sea, where she
can sit and prattle with her babe, and fill with happy
dreams the long, glad day.
The " sabbath" was born of asceticism, hatred
of human joy, fanaticism, ignorance, egotism of
priests and the cowardice of the people. This day,
for thousands of years, has been dedicated to super
stition, to the dissemination of mistakes, and the
establishment of falsehoods. Every Freethinker,
as a matter of duty, should violate this day. He
should assert his independence, and do all within his
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. IO5
power to wrest the sabbath from the gloomy church
and give it back to liberty and joy. Freethinkers
should make the sabbath a day of mirth and music ;
a day to spend with wife and child a day of games,
and books, and dreams a day to put fresh flowers
above our sleeping dead a day of memory and hope,
of love and rest.
Why should we in this age of the world be
dominated by the dead ? Why should barbarian
Jews who went down to death and dust three
thousand years ago, control the living world ? Why
should we care for the superstition of men who began
the sabbath by paring their nails, "beginning at the
fourth finger, then going to the second, then to the
fifth, then to the third, and ending with the thumb ? "
How pleasing to God this must have been. The
Jews were very careful of these nail parings. They
who threw them upon the ground were wicked,
because Satan used them to work evil upon the
earth. They believed that upon the Sabbath, souls
were allowed to leave purgatory and cool their
burning souls in water. Fires were neither allowed
to be kindled nor extinguished, and upon that day it
was a sin to bind up wounds. "The lame might use
a staff, but the blind could not." So strict was the
IO6 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
sabbath kept, that at one time " if a Jew on a journey
was overtaken by the sacred day in a wood, or on
the highway, no matter where, nor under what
circumstances, he must sit down," and there remain
until the day was gone. "If he fell down in the
dirt, there he was compelled to stay until the day
was done." For violating the sabbath, the punish
ment was death, for nothing short of the offender s
blood could satisfy the wrath of God. There are, in
the Old Testament, two reasons given for abstaining
from labor on the sabbath : the resting of God, and
the redemption of the Jews from the bondage of
Since the establishment of the Christian religion,
the day has been changed, and Christians do not
regard the day as holy upon which God actually
rested, and which he sanctified. The Christian
Sabbath, or the " Lord s day" was legally established
by the murderer Constantine, because upon that day
Christ was supposed to have risen from the dead.
It is not easy to see where Christians got the
right to disregard the direct command of God, to
labor on the day he sanctified, ancl keep as sacred, a
day upon which he commanded men to labor. The
sabbath of God is Saturday, and if any day is to be
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
kept holy, that is the one, and not the Sunday of
Let us throw away these superstitions and take
the higher, nobler ground, that every day should be
rendered sacred by some loving act, by increasing
the happinesss of man, giving birth to noble thoughts,
putting in the path of toil some flower of joy, helping
the unfortunate, lifting the fallen, dispelling gloom,
destroying prejudice, defending the helpless and
filling homes with light and love.
THE NECESSITY FOR A GOOD MEMORY.
IT must not be forgotten that there are two accounts
of the creation in Genesis. The first account
stops with the third verse of the second chapter.
The chapters have been improperly divided. In the
original Hebrew the Pentateuch was neither divided
into chapters nor verses. There was not even any
system of punctuation. It was written wholly with
consonants, without vowels, and without any marks,
dots, or lines to indicate them.
These accounts are materially different, and both
cannot be true. Let us see wherein they differ.
The second account of the creation begins with
the fourth verse of the second chapter, and is as
These are the generations of the heavens
and of the earth when they were created, in the
day that the Lord God made the earth and the
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
" And every plant of the field before it was in the
earth, and every herb of the field before it grew ; for
the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the
earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
" But there went up a mist from the earth and
watered the whole face of the ground.
" And the Lord God formed man of the dust
of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the
breath of life ; and man became a living soul.
" And the Lord God planted a garden eastward
in Eden ; and there he put the man whom he had
" And out of the ground made the Lord God to
grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and
good for food ; the tree of life also in the midst of
the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and
" And a river went out of Eden to water the
garden ; and from thence it was parted and became
into four heads.
" The name of the first is Pison ; that is it which
compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there
" And the gold of that land is good : there is
bdellium and the onyx stone.
IIO SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
" And the name of the second river is Gihon :
the same is it that compasseth the whole land of
" And the name of the third river is Hiddekel ;
that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria.
And the fourth river is Euphrates.
" And the Lord God took the man, and put him
into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
" And the Lord God commanded the man,
saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely
eat ; But of the tree of the knowledge of good and
evil, thou shalt not eat of it ; for in the day that
thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
" And the Lord God said, It is not good that the
man should be alone ; I will make him an helpmeet
" And out of the ground the Lord God formed
every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air ;
and brought them unto Adam to see what he would
call them : and whatsoever Adam called every living
creature, that was the name thereof.
" And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the
fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field ; but
for Adam there was not found a helpmeet for
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. I I I
" And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall
upon Adam, and he slept ; and he took one of his
ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
" And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from
man, made he a woman and brought her unto the man.
" And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones,
and flesh of my flesh ; she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of man.
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his
mother, and shall cleave unto his wife ; and they
shall be one flesh.
" And they were both naked, the man and his
wife, and were not ashamed."
ORDER OF CREATION IN THE FIRST ACCOUNT :
1. The heaven and the earth, and light were
2. The firmament was constructed and the
3. The waters gathered into seas and then
came dry land, grass, herbs and fruit trees.
4. The sun and moon. He made the stars also.
5. Fishes, fowls, and great whales.
6. Beasts, cattle, every creeping thing, man and
112 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
ORDER OF CREATION IN THE SECOND ACCOUNT :
1. The heavens and the earth.
2. A mist went up from the earth, and watered
the whole face of the ground.
3. Created a man out of dust, by the name of
4. Planted a garden eastward in Eden, and put
the man in it.
5. Created the beasts and fowls.
6. Created a woman out of one of the man s
In the second account, man was made before the
beasts and fowls. If this is true, the first account is
false. And if the theologians of our time are correct
in their view that the Mosaic day means thousands
of ages, then, according to the second account, Adam
existed millions of years before Eve was formed.
He must have lived one Mosaic day before there
were any trees, and another Mosaic day before the
beasts and fowls were created. Will some kind
clergymen tell us upon what kind of food Adam
subsisted during these immense periods ?
In the second account a man is made, and the
fact that he was without a helpmeet did not occur to
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. I 1 3
the Lord God until a couple " of vast periods" after
wards. The Lord God suddenly coming to an
appreciation of the situation said, " It is not good that
the man should be alone. I will make him a help
meet for him."
Now, after concluding to make " an helpmeet" for
Adam, what did the Lord God do ? Did he at once
proceed to make a woman ? No. What did he do ?
He made the beasts, and tried to induce Adam to
take one of them for "an helpmeet." If I am
incorrect, read the following account, and tell me
what it means :
" And the Lord God said, It is not good that the
man should be alone ; I will make him an helpmeet
"And out of the ground the Lord God
formed every beast of the field, and every fowl
of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see
what he would call them : and whatsoever Adam
called every living creature, that was the name
"And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to
the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field ;
but for Adam there was not found an helpmeet
114 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
Unless the Lord God was looking for an help
meet for Adam, why did he cause the animals to
pass before him ? And why did he, after the
menagerie had passed by, pathetically exclaim,
" But for Adam there was not found an helpmeet
for him ? "
It seems that Adam saw nothing that struck his
fancy. The fairest ape, the sprightliest chimpanzee,
the loveliest baboon, the most bewitching orang
outang, the most fascinating gorilla failed to touch
with love s sweet pain, poor Adam s lonely heart.
Let us rejoice that this was so. Had he fallen in
love then, there never would have been a Free
thinker in this world.
Dr. Adam Clark, speaking of this remarkable
proceeding says: "God caused the animals to pass
before Adam to show him that no creature yet formed
could make him a suitable companion ; that Adam
was convinced that none of these animals could be
a suitable companion for him, and that therefore
he must continue in a state that was not good
(celibacy) unless he became a further debtor to
the bounty of his maker, for among all the animals
which he had formed, there was not a helpmeet
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. Il5
Upon this same subject, Dr. Scott informs us
"that it was not conducive to the happiness of the
man to remain without the consoling society, and
endearment of tender friendship, nor consistent with
the end of his creation to be without marriage by
which the earth might be replenished and worshipers
and servants raised up to render him praise and
glory. Adam seems to have been vastly better
acquainted by intuition or revelation with the distinct
properties of every creature than the most sagacious
observer since the fall of man.
" Upon this review of the animals, not one was
found in outward form his counterpart, nor one suited
to engage his affections, participate in his enjoyments,
or associate with him in the worship of God."
Dr. Matthew Henry admits that "God brought
all the animals together to see if there was a suitable
match for Adam in any of the numerous families of
the inferior creatures, but there was none. They
were all looked over, but Adam could not be matched
among them all. Therefore God created a new thing
to be a helpmeet for him."
Failing to satisfy Adam with any of the inferior
animals, the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall
upon him, and while in this sleep took out one of
Il6 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
Adam s ribs and " closed up the flesh instead thereof."
And out of this rib, the Lord God made a woman,
and brought her to the man.
Was the Lord God compelled to take a part of
the man because he had used up all the original
" nothing" out of which the universe was made ? Is
it possible for any sane and intelligent man to believe
this story ? Must a man be born a second time
before this account seems reasonable ?
Imagine the Lord God with a bone in his hand
with which to start a woman, trying to make up his
mind whether to make a blonde or a brunette !
Just at this point it may be proper for me to
warn all persons from laughing at or making light of,
any stories found in the " Holy Bible." When you
come to die, every laugh will be a thorn in your
pillow. At that solemn moment, as you look back
upon the records of your life, no matter how many
men you may have wrecked and ruined ; no matter
how many women you have deceived and deserted,
all that can be forgiven ; but if you remember then
that you have laughed at even one story in God s
" sacred book " you will see through the gathering
shadows of death the forked tongues of devils, and
the leering eyes of fiends.
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. I I J
These stories must be believed, or the work
of regeneration can never be commenced. No
matter how well you act your part, live as honestly
as you may, clothe the naked, feed the hungry,
divide your last farthing with the poor, and you are
simply traveling the broad road that leads inevitably
to eternal death, unless at the same time you im
plicitly believe the bible to be the inspired word of
Let me show you the result of unbelief. Let us
suppose, for a moment, that we are at the Day of
Judgment, listening to the trial of souls as they
arrive. The Recording Secretary, or whoever does
the cross-examining, says to a soul :
Where are you from ?
I am from the Earth.
What kind of a man were you ?
Well, I don t like to talk about, myself. I sup
pose you can tell by looking at your books.
No sir. You must tell what kind of a man you
Well, I was what you might call a first-rate
fellow. I loved my wife and children. My
home was my heaven. My fireside was a
paradise to me. To sit there and see the lights
I 1 8 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
and shadows fall upon the faces of those I loved,
was to me a perfect joy.
How did you treat your family ?
I never said an unkind word. I never caused
my wife, nor one of my children, a moment s pain.
Did you pay your debts ?
I did not owe a dollar when I died, and left
enough to pay my funeral expenses, and to keep the
fierce wolf of want from the door of those I loved.
Did you belong to any church ?
No sir. They were too narrow, pinched and
bigoted for me, I never thought that I could be very
happy if other folks were damned.
Did you believe in eternal punishment ?
Well, no. I always thought that God could get
his revenge in far less time.
Did you believe the rib story ?
Do you mean the Adam and Eve business ?
Yes ! Did you believe that ?
To tell you the God s truth, that was just a little
more than I could swallow.
Away with him to hell !
Where are you from ?
I am from the world too.
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. I 19
Did you belong to any church ?
Yes sir, and to the Young Men s Christian As
What was your business ?
Cashier in a Savings Bank.
Did you ever run away with any money ?
Where I came from, a witness could not be com
pelled to criminate himself.
The law is different here. Answer the question.
Did you run away with any money ?
How much ?
One hundred thousand dollars.
Did you take anything else with you ?
Well, what else ?
I took my neighbor s wife we sang together in
Did you have a wife and children of your own ?
And you deserted them ?
Yes sir, but such was my confidence in God that
I believed he would take care of them.
Have you heard of them since ?
I2O SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
Did you believe in the rib story ?
Bless your soul, of course I did. A thousand
times I regretted that there were no harder stories
in the bible, so that I could have shown my wealth
Do you believe the rib story yet ?
Yes, with all my heart.
Give him a harp !
Well, as I was saying, God made a woman from
Adam s rib. Of course, I do not know exactly how
this was done, but when he got the woman finished,
he presented her to Adam. He liked her, and they
commenced house-keeping in the celebrated garden
Must we, in order to be good, gentle and loving
in our lives, believe that the creation of woman was
a second thought ? That Jehovah really endeavored
to induce Adam to take one of the lower animals as
an helpmeet for him ? After all, is it not possible to
live honest and courageous lives without believing
these fables ? It is said that from Mount Sinai God
gave, amid thunderings and lightnings, ten command
ments for the guidance of mankind ; and yet among
them is not found " Thou shalt believe the Bible."
IN the first account we are told that God made
man, male and female, and said to them " Be
fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth and
In the second account only the man is made, and
he is put in a garden "to dress it and to keep it."
He is not told to subdue the earth, but to dress and
keep a garden.
In the first account man is given every herb
bearing seed upon the face of the earth and the fruit
of every tree for food, and in the second, he is given
only the fruit of all the trees in the garden with the
exception " of the tree of the knowledge of good and
evil " which was a deadly poison.
There was issuing from this garden a river that
was parted into four heads. The first of these, Pison,
compassed the whole land of Havilah, the second,
Gihon, that compassed the whole land of Ethiopia,
122 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
the third, Heddekel, that flowed toward the east of
Assyria, and the fourth, the Euphrates. Where are
these four rivers now ? The brave prow of discovery
has visited every sea ; the traveler has pressed with
weary feet the soil of every clime ; and yet there has
been found no place from which four rivers sprang.
The Euphrates still journeys to the gulf, but where
are Pison, Gihon and the mighty Heddekel ? Surely
by going to the source of the Euphrates we ought to
find either these three rivers or their ancient beds.
Will some minister when he answers the " Mistakes
of Moses" tell us where these rivers are or were?
The maps of the world are incomplete without these
mighty streams. We have discovered the sources
of the Nile ; the North Pole will soon be touched by
an American ; but these three rivers still rise in
unknown hills, still flow through unknown lands, and
empty still in unknown seas.
The account of these four rivers is what the
Rev. David Swing would call "a geographical
poem." The orthodox clergy cover the whole
affair with the blanket of allegory, while the
"scientific" Christian folks talk about cataclysms,
upheavals, earthquakes, and vast displacements of
the earth s crust.
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 123
The question, then arises, whether within the last
six thousand years there have been such upheavals
and displacements ? Talk as you will about the vast
"creative periods" that preceded the appearance of
man ; it is, according to the bible, only about six
thousand years since man was created. Moses gives
us the generations of men from Adam until his day,
and this account cannot be explained away by calling
According to the second account of creation, these
four rivers were made after the creation of man, and
consequently they must have been obliterated by
convulsions of Nature within six thousand years.
Can we not account for these contradictions,
absurdities, and falsehoods by simply saying that
although the writer may have done his level best, he
failed because he was limited in knowledge, led away
by tradition, and depended too implicitly upon the
correctness of his imagination ? Is not such a course
far more reasonable than to insist that all these things
are true and must stand though every science shall
fall to mental dust ?
Can any reason be given for not allowing man to
eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge ? What
kind of tree was that ? If it is all an allegory, what
124 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
truth is sought to be conveyed ? Why should God
object to that fruit being eaten by man ? Why did
he put it in the midst of the garden ? There was
certainly plenty of room outside. If he wished to
keep man and this tree apart, why did he put them
together? And why, after he had eaten, was he
thrust out ? The only answer that we have a right
to give, is the one given in the bible. "And the
Lord God said. Behold the man has become as one
of us to know good and evil ; and now, lest he put
forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and
eat, and live forever : Therefore the Lord God sent
him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground
from whence he was taken."
Will some minister, some graduate of Andover,
tell us what this means ? Are we bound to believe
it without knowing what the meaning is ? If it is a
revelation, what does it reveal ? Did God object to
education then, and does that account for the hostile
attitude still assumed by theologians towards all
scientific truth ? Was there in the garden a tree of
life, the eating of which would have rendered Adam
and Eve immortal ? Is it true, that after the Lord
God drove them from the garden that he placed
upon its Eastern side " Cherubim and a flaming
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 125
sword which turned every way to keep the way of
the tree of life ? " Are the Cherubims and the
flaming sword guarding that tree yet, or was it
destroyed, or did its rotting trunk, as the Rev.
Robert Colly er suggests " nourish a bank of
violets ? "
What objection could God have had to the
immortality of man ? You see that after all, this
sacred record, instead of assuring us of immortality,
shows us only how we lost it. In this there is
assuredly but little consolation.
According to this story we have lost one Eden,
but nowhere in the Mosaic books are we told how
we may gain another. I know that the Christians
tell us there is another, in which all true believers
will finally be gathered, and enjoy the unspeakable
happiness of seeing the unbelievers in hell ; but they
do not tell us where it is.
Some commentators say that the Garden of
Eden was in the third heaven some in the fourth,
others have located it in the moon, some in the air
beyond the attraction of the earth, some on the
Earth, some under the Earth, some inside the Earth,
some at the North Pole, others at the South, some
in Tartary, some in China, some on the borders of
126 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
the Ganges, some in the island of Ceylon, some in
Armenia, some in Africa, some under the Equator,
others in Mesopotamia, in Syria, Persia, Arabia,
Babylon, Assyria, Palestine and Europe. Others
have contended that it was invisible, that it was an
allegory, and must be spiritually understood.
But whether you understand these things or not,
you must believe them. You may be laughed at in
this world for insisting that God put Adam into a
deep sleep and made a woman out of one of his ribs,
but you will be crowned and glorified in the next.
You will also have the pleasure of hearing the
gentlemen howl there, who laughed at you here.
While you will not be permitted to take any revenge,
you will be allowed to smilingly express your entire
acquiescence in the will of God. But where is the
new Eden ? No one knows. The one was lost, and
the other has not been found.
Is it true that man was once perfectly pure and
innocent, and that he became degenerate by disobe
dience ? No. The real truth is, and the history of
man shows, that he has advanced. Events, like the
pendulum of a clock have swung forward and back
ward, but after all, man, like the hands, has gone
steadily on. Man is growing grander. He is not
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 12J
degenerating. Nations and individuals fail and die,
and make room for higher forms. The intellectual
horizon of the world widens as the centuries pass.
Ideals grow grander and purer ; the difference
between justice and mercy becomes less and less ;
liberty enlarges, and love intensifies as the years
sweep on. The ages of force and fear, of cruelty
and wrong, are behind us and the real Eden is
beyond. It is said that a desire for knowledge lost
us the Eden of the past ; but whether that is true or
not, it will certainly give us the Eden of the future.
WE are told that the serpent was more subtle
than any beast of the field, that he had a
conversation with Eve, in which he gave his opinion
about the effect of eating certain fruit; that he
assured her it was good to eat, that it was pleasant
to the eye, that it would make her wise ; that she
was induced to take some ; that she persuaded her
husband to try it ; that God found it out, that he then
cursed the snake ; condemning it to crawl and eat
the dust; that he multiplied the sorrows of Eve,
cursed the ground for Adam s sake, started thistles
and thorns, condemned man to eat the herb of the
field in the sweat of his face, pronounced the curse of
death, " Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou
return," made coats of skins for Adam and Eve, and
drove them out of Eden.
Who, and what was this serpent ? Dr. Adam
Clark says: "The serpent must have walked erect,
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 129
for this is necessarily implied in his punishment.
That he was endued with the gift of speech, also with
reason. That these things were given to this
creature. The woman no doubt having often seen
him walking erect, and talking and reasoning, there
fore she testifies no sort of surprise when he accosts
her in the language related in the text. It therefore
appears to me that a creature of the ape or orang
outang kind is here intended, and that satan made
use of this creature as the most proper instrument
for the accomplishment of his murderous purposes
against the life of the soul of man. Under this
creature he lay hid, and by this creature he seduced
our first parents. Such a creature answers to every
part of the description in the text. It is evident
from the structure of its limbs and its muscles that it
might have been originally designed to walk erect,
and that nothing else than the sovereign controlling
power could induce it to put down hands in every
respect formed like those of man and walk like
those creatures whose claw-armed parts prove them
to have been designed to walk on all fours. The
stealthy cunning, and endless variety of the pranks
and tricks of these creatures show them even now to
be wiser and more intelligent than any other creature
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
man alone excepted. Being obliged to walk on all
fours and gather their food from the ground, they are
literally obliged to eat the dust; and though
exceeding cunning, and careful in a variety of
instances to separate that part which is wholesome
and proper for food from that which is not so, in the
article of cleanliness they are lost to all sense of
propriety. Add to this their utter aversion to walk
upright; it requires the utmost discipline to bring
them to it, and scarcely anything offends or irritates
them more than to be obliged to do it. Long
observation of these animals enables me to state
these facts. For earnest, attentive watching, and for
chattering and babbling they (the ape) have no
fellows in the animal world. Indeed, the ability and
propensity to chatter, is all they have left of their
original gift of speech, of which they appear to have
been deprived at the fall as a part of their punish
Here then is the " connecting link " between
man and the lower creation. The serpent was
simply an orang-outang that spoke Hebrew with the
greatest ease, and had the outward appearance of a
perfect gentleman, seductive in manner, plausible,
polite, and most admirably calculated to deceive.
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 131
It never did seem reasonable to me that a long, cold
and disgusting snake with an apple in his mouth,
could deceive anybody ; and I am glad, even at this
late date to know that the something that persuaded
Eve to taste the forbidden fruit was, at least, in the
shape of a man.
Dr. Henry does not agree with the zoological
explanation of Mr. Clark, but insists that "it is
certain that the devil that beguiled Eve is the old
serpent, a malignant by creation, an angel of light,
an immediate attendant upon God s throne, but by
sin an apostate from his first state, and a rebel
against God s crown and dignity. He who attacked
our first parents was surely the prince of devils, the
ring leader in rebellion. The devil chose to act his
part in a serpent, because it is a specious creature,
has a spotted, dappled skin, and then, went erect.
Perhaps it was a flying serpent which seemed to come
from on high, as a messenger from the upper world,
one of the seraphim ; because the serpent is a subtile
creature. What Eve thought of this serpent speak
ing to her, we are not likely to tell, and, I believe,
she herself did not know what to think of it. At
first, perhaps, she supposed it might be a good
angel, and yet afterwards might suspect something
132 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
amiss. The person tempted was a woman, now
alone, and at a distance from her husband, but near
the forbidden tree. It was the devil s subtlety to
assault the weaker vessel with his temptations, as we
may suppose her inferior to Adam in knowledge,
strength and presence of mind. Some think that
Eve received the command not immediately from
God, but at second hand from her husband, and
might, therefore, be the more easily persuaded to
discredit it. It was the policy of the devil to enter
into discussion with her when she was alone. He
took advantage by finding her near the forbidden
tree. God permitted Satan to prevail over Eve,
for .wise and holy ends. Satan teaches men first to
doubt, and then to deny. He makes skeptics first,
and by degrees makes them atheists."
We are compelled to admit that nothing could
be more attractive to a woman than a snake walking
erect, with a " spotted, dappled skin," unless it were
a serpent with wings. Is it not humiliating to know
that our ancestors believed these things ? Why
should we object to the Darwinian doctrine of descent
after this ?
Our fathers thought it their duty to believe,
thought it a sin to entertain the slightest doubt, and
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 133
really supposed that their credulity was exceedingly
gratifying to God. To them, the story was entirely
real. They could see the garden, hear the babble of
waters, smell the perfume of flowers. They believed
there was a tree where knowledge grew like plums
or pears ; and they could plainly see the serpent
coiled amid its rustling leaves, coaxing Eve to violate
the laws of God.
Where did the serpent come from ? On which
of the six days was he created ? Who made him ?
Is it possible that God would make a successful rival?
He must have known that Adam and Eve would fall.
He knew what a snake with a " spotted, dappled skin "
could do with an inexperienced woman. Why did
he not defend his children? He knew that if the
serpent got into the garden, Adam and Eve would
sin, that he would have to drive them out, that after
wards the world would be destroyed, and that he
himself would die upon the cross.
Again, I ask what and who was this serpent?
He was not a man, for only one man had been made.
He was not a woman. He was not a beast of the
field, because " he was more subtile than any beast
of the field which the Lord God had made." He
was neither fish nor fowl, nor snake, because he had
134 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
the power of speech, and did not crawl upon his
belly until after he was cursed. Where did this
serpent come from ? Why was he not kept out of
the garden ? Why did not the Lord God take him
by the tail and snap his head off? Why did he not
put Adam and Eve on their guard about this serpent?
They, of course, were not acquainted in the neighbor
hood, and knew nothing about the serpent s reputation
for truth and veracity among his neighbors. Prob
ably Adam saw him when he was looking for " an
helpmeet," and gave him a name, but Eve had never
met him before. She was not surprised to hear a
serpent talk, as that was the first one she had ever
met. Every thing being new to her, and her husband
not being with her just at that moment, it need hardly
excite our wonder that she tasted the fruit by way of
experiment. Neither should we be surprised that
when she saw it was good and pleasant to the eye,
and a fruit to be desired to make one wise, she had
the generosity to divide with her husband.
Theologians have filled thousands of volumes
with abuse of this serpent, but it seems that he told
the exact truth. We are told that this serpent was,
in fact, Satan, the greatest enemy of mankind, and
that he entered the serpent, appearing to our first
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. Ij5
parents in its body. If this is so, why should the
serpent have been cursed ? Why should God curse
the serpent for what had really been done by the
devil ? Did Satan remain in the body of the serpent,
and in some mysterious manner share his punish
ment ? Is it true that when we kill a snake we also
destroy an evil spirit, or is there but one devil, and
did he perish at the death of the first serpent ? Is it
on account of that transaction in the garden of Eden,
that all the descendents of Adam and Eve known as
Jews and Christians hate serpents ?
Do you account for the snake-worship in Mexico,
Africa and India in the same way ?
What was the form of the serpent when he
entered the garden, and in what way did he move
from place to place ? Did he walk or fly ? Certainly
he did not crawl, because that mode of locomotion
was pronounced upon him as a curse. Upon what
food did he subsist before his conversation with Eve ?
We know that after that he lived upon dust, but
what did he eat before ? It may be that this is all
poetic ; and the truest poetry is, according to Touch
stone, "the most feigning."
In this same chapter we are informed that "unto
Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make
136 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
coats of skins and clothed them." Where did the
Lord God get those skins ? He must have taken
them from the animals ; he was a butcher. Then he
had to prepare them ; he was a tanner. Then he
made them into coats ; he was a tailor. How did it
happen that they needed coats of skins, when they
had been perfectly comfortable in a nude condition ?
Did the "fall" produce a change in the climate?
Is it really necessary to believe this account in
order to be happy here, or hereafter ? Does it tend
to the elevation of the human race to speak of " God "
as a butcher, tanner and tailor ?
And here, let me say once for all, that when I
speak of God, I mean the being described by Moses :
the Jehovah of the Jews. There may be for aught I
know, somewhere in the unknown shoreless vast,
some being whose dreams are constellations and
within whose thought the infinite exists. About this
being, if such an one exists, I have nothing to say.
He has written no books, inspired no barbarians,
required no worship, and has prepared no hell in
which to burn the honest seeker after truth.
When I speak of God, I mean that god who pre
vented man from putting forth his hand and taking
also of the fruit of the tree of life that he might live
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 137
forever ; of that god who multiplied the agonies of
woman, increased the weary toil of man, and in his
anger drowned a world of that god whose altars
reeked with human blood, who butchered babes,
violated maidens, enslaved men and filled the earth
with cruelty and crime ; of that god who made heaven
for the few, hell for the many, and who will gloat
forever and ever upon the writhings of the lost and
44 TC ND it came to pass, when men began to
JL^ multiply on the face of the earth, and
daughters were born unto them.
"That the sons of God saw the daughters of men
that they were fair ; and they took them wives of all
which they chose.
"And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always
strive with man, for that he also is flesh ; yet his days
shall be an hundred and twenty years.
"There were giants in the earth in those days;
and also after that when the sons of God came in
unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to
them, the same became mighty men which were of
old, men of renown.
"And God saw that the wickedness of man
was great in the earth, and that every imagina
tion of the thoughts of his heart was only evil
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 139
"And it repented the Lord that he had made
man on the earth, and it grieved him at his
"And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I
have created from the face of the earth ; both man,
and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of
the air ; for it repenteth me that I have made
From this account it seems that driving Adam
and Eve out of Eden did not have the effect to
improve them or their children. On the contrary,
the world grew worse and worse. They were under
the immediate control and government of God,
and he from time to time made known his will ;
but in spite of this, man continued to increase
Nothing in particular seems to have been done.
Not a school was established. There was no written
language. There was not a bible in the world.
The " scheme of salvation " was kept a profound
secret. The five points of Calvinism had not been
taught. Sunday schools had not been opened. In
short, nothing had been done for the reformation of
the world. Qod did not even keep his own sons at
home, but allowed them to leave their abode in the
I4O SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
firmament, and make love to the daughters of men.
As a result of this, the world was filled with wicked
ness and giants to such an extent that God regretted
" that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved
him at his heart."
Of course God knew when he made man, that he
would afterwards regret it. He knew that the
people would grow worse and worse until destruction
would be the only remedy. He knew that he would
have to kill all except Noah and his family, and it is
hard to see why he did not make Noah and his
family in the first place, and leave Adam and Eve in
the original dust. He knew that they would be
tempted, that he would have to drive them out of
the garden to keep them from eating of the tree of
life ; that the whole thing would be a failure ; that
Satan would defeat his plan ; that he could not
reform the people ; that his own sons would corrupt
them, and that at last he would have to drown them
all except Noah and his family. Why was the
garden of Eden planted ? Why was the experiment
made ? Why were Adam and Eve exposed to the
seductive arts of the serpent ? Why did God wait
until the cool of the day before looking after his
children ? Why was he not on hand in the morning?
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 14!
Why did he fill the world with his own children,
knowing that he would have to destroy them ? And
why does this same God tell me how to raise my
children when he had to drown his ?
It is a little curious that when God wished to
reform the ante-diluvian world he said nothing about
hell ; that he had no revivals, no camp-meetings, no
tracts, no outpourings of the Holy Ghost, no bap
tisms, no noon prayer meetings, and never mentioned
the great doctrine of salvation by faith. If the
orthodox creeds of the world are true, all those
people went to hell without ever having heard that
such a place existed. If eternal torment is a fact,
surely these miserable wretches ought to have been
warned. They were threatened only with water
when they w r ere in fact doomed to eternal fire !
Is it not strange that God said nothing to Adam
and Eve about a future life ; that he should have kept
these " infinite verities " to himself and allowed
millions to live and die without the hope of heaven,
or the fear of hell ?
It may be that hell was not made at that time.
In the six days of creation nothing is said about the
construction of a bottomless pit, and the serpent
himself did not make his appearance until after the
142 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
creation of man and woman. Perhaps he was made
on the first Sunday, and from that fact came, it may
be, the old couplet,
"And Satan still some mischief finds
For idle hands to do."
The sacred historian failed also to tell us when
the cherubim and the flaming" sword were made, and
said nothing about two of the persons composing the
trinity. It certainly would have been an easy thing
to enlighten Adam and his immediate descendants.
The world was then only about fifteen hundred and
thirty-six years old, and only about three or four
generations of men had lived. Adam had been dead
only about six hundred and six years, and some of
his grand children must, at that time, have been alive
It is hard to see why God did not civilize these
people. He certainly had the power to use, and the
wisdom to devise the proper means. What right
has a god to fill a world with fiends ? Can there be
goodness in this ? Why should he make experi
ments that he knows must fail ? Is there wisdom in
this ? And what right has a man to charge an
infinite being with wickedness and folly ?
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 143
According to Moses, God made up his mind not
only to destroy the people, but the beasts and the
creeping things, and the fowls of the air. What had
the beasts, and the creeping things, and the birds
done to excite the anger of God ? Why did he
repent having made them ? Will some Christian
give us an explanation of this matter ? No good
man will inflict unnecessary pain upon a beast ; how
then can we worship a god who cares nothing for
the agonies of the dumb creatures that he made ?
Why did he make animals that he knew he
would destroy ? Does God delight in causing pain ?
He had the power to make the beasts, and fowls,
and creeping things in his own good time and way,
and it is to be presumed that he made them accord
ing to his wish. Why should he destroy them ?
They had committed no sin. They had eaten no
forbidden fruit, made no aprons, nor tried to reach
the tree of life. Yet this god, in blind unreasoning
wrath destroyed " all flesh wherein was the breath of
life, and every living thing beneath the sky, and
every substance wherein was life that he had
Jehovah, having made up his mind to drown the
world, told Noah to make an Ark of gopher wood
144 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty
cubits high. A cubit is twenty-two inches ; so that
the ark was five hundred and fifty feet long, ninety-
one feet and eight inches wide and fifty-five feet
high. This ark was divided into three stories, and
had on top, one window twenty-two inches square.
Ventilation must have been one of Jehovah s
hobbies. Think of a ship larger than the Great
Eastern with only one window, and that but twenty-
two inches square !
The ark also had one door set in the side thereof
that shut from the outside. As soon as this ship was
finished, and properly victualed, Noah received seven
days notice to get the animals in the ark.
It is claimed by some of the scientific theologians
that the flood was partial, that the waters covered
only a small portion of the world, and that conse
quently only a few animals were in the ark. It is
impossible to conceive of language that can more
clearly convey the idea of a universal flood than that
found in the inspired account. If the flood was only
partial, why did God say he would "destroy all flesh
wherein is the breath of life from under heaven, and
that every thing that is in the earth shall die ? "
Why did he say "I will destroy man whom I have
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 145
created from the face of the earth, both man and
beast, and the creeping thing and the fowls of the
air ? " Why did he say " And every living substance
that I have made will I destroy from off the face of
the earth ? " Would a partial, local flood have fulfilled
these threats ?
Nothing can be clearer than that the writer of
this account intended to convey, and did convey the
idea that the flood was universal. Why should
Christians try to deprive God of the glory of having
wrought the most stupendous of miracles ? Is it
possible that the Infinite could not overwhelm with
waves this atom called the Earth ? Do you doubt
his power, his wisdom or his justice ?
Believers in miracles should not endeavor to
explain them. There is but one way to explain any
thing, and that is to account for it by natural
agencies. The moment you explain a miracle, it
disappears. You should depend not upon explana
tion, but assertion. You should not be driven from
the field because the miracle is shown to be
unreasonable. You should reply that all miracles are
unreasonable. Neither should you be in the least
disheartened if it is shown to be impossible. The
possible is not miraculous. You should take the
146 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
ground that if miracles were reasonable, and possible,
there would be no reward paid for believing them.
The Christian has the goodness to believe, while the
sinner asks for evidence. It is enough for God to
work miracles without being called upon to sub
stantiate them for the benefit of unbelievers.
Only a few years ago, the christians believed
implicitly in the literal truth of every miracle recorded
in the bible. Whoever tried to explain them in some
natural way, was looked upon as an infidel in dis
guise, but now he is regarded as a benefactor. The
credulity of the Church is decreasing, and the most
marvelous miracles are now either " explained," or
allowed to take refuge behind the mistakes of the
translators, or hide in the drapery of allegory.
In the sixth chapter, Noah is ordered to take "of
every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort into
the ark male and female." In the seventh chapter
the order is changed, and Noah is commanded,
according to the Protestant bible, as follows : " Of
every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens,
the male and his female, and of beasts that are
not clean, by two, the male and his female. Of
fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 147
According to the Catholic bible, Noah was
commanded "Of all clean beasts take seven and
seven, the male and the female. But of the beasts
that are unclean two and two, the male and the
female. Of the fowls also of the air seven and seven,
the male and the female."
For the purpose of belittling this miracle, many
commentators have taken the ground that Noah was
not ordered to take seven males and seven females
of each kind of clean beasts, but seven in all. Many
Christians contend that only seven clean beasts of
each kind were taken into the ark three and a half
of each sex.
If the account in the seventh chapter means any
thing, it meansyfr^, that of each kind of clean beasts,
fourteen were to be taken, seven males, and seven
females ; second, that of unclean beasts should be
taken, two of each kind, one of each sex, and third,
that he should take of every kind of fowls, seven of
It is equally clear that the command in the iQth
and 2Oth verses of the 6th chapter, is to take two of
each sort, one male and one female. And this agrees
exactly with the account in the 7th, 8th, 9th, I4th.
1 5th, and i6th verses of the 7th chapter.
148 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
The next question is, how many beasts, fowls and
creeping things did Noah take into the ark ?
There are now known and classified at least
twelve thousand five hundred species of birds.
There are still vast territories in China, South
America, and Africa unknown to the ornithologist.
Of the birds, Noah took fourteen of each species,
according to the 3d verse of the 7th chapter, " Of
fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the
female," making a total of 176,000 birds.
And right here allow me to ask a question. If the
flood was simply a partial flood, why were birds taken
into the ark ? It seems to me that most birds, attend
ing strictly to business, might avoid a partial flood.
There are at least sixteen hundred and fifty-eight
kinds of beasts. Let us suppose that twenty-five of
these are clean. Of the clean, fourteen of each kind
seven of each sex were taken. These amount to
360. Of the unclean two of each kind, amounting
to 3,266. There are some six hundred and fifty
species of reptiles. Two of each kind amount to
1,300. And lastly, there are of insects including the
creeping things, at least one million species, so that
Noah and his folks had to get of these into the ark
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 149
Animalculae have not been taken into consider
ation. There are probably many hundreds of
thousands of species ; many of them invisible ; and
yet Noah had to pick them out by pairs. Very few
people have any just conception of the trouble
We know that there are many animals on this
continent not found in the Old World. These must
have been carried from here to the ark, and then
brought back afterwards. Were the peccary, arma
dillo, ant-eater, sloth, agouti, vampire-bat, marmoset,
howling and prehensile-tailed monkey, the raccoon
and muskrat carried by the angels from America to
Asia? How did they get there? Did the polar
bear leave his field of ice and journey toward the
tropics ? How did he know where the ark was ?
Did the kangaroo swim or jump from Australia to
Asia ? Did the giraffe, hippopotamus, antelope and
orang-outang journey from Africa in search of the
ark ? Can absurdities go farther than this ?
What had these animals to eat while on the
journey ? What did they eat while in the ark ?
What did they drink ? When the rain came, of
course the rivers ran to the seas, and these seas rose
and finally covered the w^orld. The waters of the
l5o SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
seas, mingled with those of the flood, would make all
salt. It has been calculated that it required, to
drown the world, about eight times as much water as
was in all the seas. To find how salt the waters of
the flood must have been, take eight quarts of fresh
water, and add one quart from the sea. Such water
would create instead of allaying thirst. Noah had to
take in his ark fresh water for all his beasts, birds
and living things. He had to take the proper food
for all. How long was he in the ark ? Three
hundred and seventy-seven days ! Think of the food
necessary for the monsters of the ante-diluvian
Eight persons did all the work. They attended
to the wants of 175,000 birds, 3,616 beasts, 1,300
reptiles, and 2,000,000 insects, saying nothing of
Well, after they all got in, Noah pulled down
the window, God shut the door, and the rain com
How long did it rain ?
How deep did the water get ?
About five miles and a half.
How much did it rain a day ?
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. l5l
Enough to cover the whole world to a depth of
about seven hundred and forty-two feet.
Some Christians say that the fountains of the
great deep were broken up. Will they be kind
enough to tell us what the fountains of the great
deep are ? Others say that God had vast stores of
water in the center of the earth that he used on
that occasion. How did these waters happen to run
up hill ?
Gentlemen, allow me to tell you once more that
you must not try to explain these things. Your
efforts in that direction do no good, because your
explanations are harder to believe than the miracle
itself. Take my advice, stick to assertion, and let
Then, as now, Dhawalagiri lifted its crown of
snow twenty-nine thousand feet above the level of
the sea, and on the cloudless cliffs of Chimborazo
then, as now, sat the condor ; and yet the waters
rising seven hundred and twenty-six feet a day-
thirty feet an hour, six inches a minute, rose over
the hills, over the volcanoes, filled the vast craters,
extinguished all the fires, rose above every mountain
peak until the vast world was but one shoreless sea
covered with the innumerable dead.
1 52 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
Was this the work of the most merciful God, the
father of us all ? If there is a God, can there be the
slightest danger of incurring his displeasure by
doubting even in a reverential way, the truth
of such a cruel lie ? If we think that God is
kinder than he really is, will our poor souls be
burned for that ?
How many trees can live under miles of water for
a year ? What became of the soil washed, scattered,
dissolved, and covered with the debris of a world ?
How were the tender plants and herbs preserved ?
How were the animals preserved after leaving the
ark ? There was no grass except such as had been
submerged for a year. There were no animals to
be devoured by the carnivorous beasts. What be
came of the birds that fed on worms and insects ?
What became of the birds that devoured other
It must be remembered that the pressure of the
water when at the highest point say twenty-nine
thousand feet, would have been about eight hundred
tons on each square foot. Such a pressure certainly
would have destroyed nearly every vestige of vege
table life, so that when the animals came out of
the ark, there was not a mouthful of food in
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 1 53
the wide world. How were they supported
until the world was again clothed with grass ?
How were those animals taken care of that sub
sisted on others ? Where did the bees get
honey, and the ants seeds ? There was not a
creeping thing upon the whole earth ; not a
breathing creature beneath the whole heavens ;
not a living substance. Where did the tenants
of the ark get food ?
There is but one answer, if the story is true.
The food necessary not only during the year of the
flood, but sufficient for many months afterwards, must
have been stored in the ark.
There is probably not an animal in the
world that will not, in a year, eat and drink
ten times its weight. Noah must have pro
vided food and water for a year while in the
ark, and food for at least six months after they
got ashore. It must have required for a pair
of elephants, about one hundred and fifty tons
of food and water. A couple of mammoths
would have required about twice that amount.
Of course there were other monsters that lived
on trees ; and in a year would have devoured
quite a forest.
1 54 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
How could eight persons have distributed this
food, even if the ark had been large enough to hold
it ? How was the ark kept clean ? We know how
it was ventilated ; but what was done with the filth ?
How were the animals watered? How were some
portions of the ark heated for animals from the
tropics, and others kept cool for the polar bears?
How did the animals get back to their respective
countries? Some had to creep back about six
thousand miles, and they could only go a few feet a
day. Some of the creeping things must have started
for the ark just as soon as they were made, and kept
up a steady jog for sixteen hundred years. Think
of a couple of the slowest snails leaving a point
opposite the ark and starting for the plains of Shinar,
a distance of twelve thousand miles. Going at the
rate of a mile a month, it would take them a thousand
years. How did they get there ? Polar bears must
have gone several thousand miles, and so sudden a
change in climate must have been exceedingly trying
upon their health. How did they know the way to
go? Of course, all the polar bears did not go.
Only two were required. Who selected these ?
Two sloths had to make the journey from South
America. These creatures cannot travel to exceed
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 1 55
three rods a day. At this rate, they would make a
mile in about a hundred days. They must have gone
about six thousand five hundred miles, to reach the
ark. Supposing them to have traveled by a reason
ably direct route, in order to complete the journey
before Noah hauled in the plank, they must have
started several years before the world was created.
We must also consider that these sloths had to board
themselves on the way, and that most of their time
had to be taken up getting food and water. It is
exceedingly doubtful whether a sloth could travel six
thousand miles and board himself in less than three
Volumes might be written upon the infinite
absurdity of this most incredible, wicked and foolish
of all the fables contained in that repository of the
impossible, called the bible. To me it is a matter of
amazement, that it ever was for a moment believed
by any intelligent human being.
Dr. Adam Clark says that "the animals were
brought to the ark by the power of God, and their
enmities were so removed or suspended, that the
lion could dwell peaceably with the lamb, and the
wolf sleep happily by the side of the kid. There is
no positive evidence that animal food was ever
1 56 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
used before the flood. Noah had the first grant of
Dr. Scott remarks, " There seems to have been a
very extraordinary miracle, perhaps by the ministra
tion of angels, in bringing two of every species to
Noah, and rendering them submissive, and peaceful
with each other. Yet it seems not to have made any
impression upon the hardened spectators. The sus
pension of the ferocity of the savage beasts during
their continuance in the ark, is generally considered
as an apt figure of the change that takes place in the
disposition of sinners when they enter the true
church of Christ."
He believed the deluge to have been universal.
In his day science had not demonstrated the absurdity
of this belief, and he was not compelled to resort to
some theory not found in the bible. He insisted
that "by some vast convulsion, the very bowels of
the earth were forced upwards, and rain poured down
in cataracts and water-spouts, with no intermission
for forty days and nights, and until in every place a
universal deluge was effected.
"The presence of God was the only comfort of
Noah in his dreary confinement, and in witnessing
the dire devastation of the earth and its inhabitants,
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 1 57
and especially of the human species of his com
panions, his neighbors, his relatives all those to
whom he had preached, for whom he had prayed and
over whom he had wept, and even of many who had
helped to build the ark.
" It seems that by a peculiar providential interpo
sition, no animal of any sort died, although they had
been shut up in the ark above a year ; and it does
not appear that there had been any increase of them
during that time.
"The Ark was flat-bottomed square at each
end roofed like a house so that it terminated at the
top in the breadth of a cubit. It was divided into
many little cabins for its intended inhabitants.
Pitched within and without to keep it tight and
sweet, and lighted from the upper part. But it must,
at first sight, be evident that so large a vessel, thus
constructed, with so few persons on board, was
utterly unfitted to weather out the deluge, except it
was under the immediate guidance and protection of
Dr. Henry furnished the Christian world with
the following :
" As our bodies have in them the humors which,
when God pleases, become the springs and seeds of
1 58 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
mortal disease, so the earth had, in its bowels, those
waters which, at God s command, sprung up and
" God made the world in six days, but he was
forty days in destroying it, because he is slow to
" The hostilities between the animals in the ark
ceased, and ravenous creatures became mild and
manageable, so that the wolf lay down with the lamb,
and the lion ate straw like an ox.
" God shut the door of the ark to secure Noah
and to keep him safe, and because it was necessary
that the door should be shut very close lest the water
should break in and sink the ark, and very fast lest
others might break it down.
"The waters rose so high that not only the low
flat countries were deluged, but to make sure work
and that none might escape, the tops of the highest
mountains were overflowed fifteen cubits. That is,
seven and a half yards, so that salvation was not
hoped for from hills or mountains.
" Perhaps some of the people got to the top of the
ark, and hoped to shift for themselves there. But
either they perished there for want of food, or the
dashing rain washed them off the top. Others, it
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
may be, hoped to prevail with Noah for admission
into the ark, and plead old acquaintance.
" Have we not eaten and drank in thy presence ?
Hast thou not preached in our streets ? Yea/
said Noah, many a time, but to little purpose. I
called but ye refused ; and now it is not in my
power to help you. God has shut the door and I
cannot open it.
" We may suppose that some of those who per
ished in the deluge had themselves assisted Noah, or
were employed by him in building the ark.
" Hitherto, man had been confined to feed only
upon the products of the earth. Fruits, herbs and
roots, and all sorts of greens, and milk, which was
the first grant ; but the flood having perhaps washed
away much of the fruits of the earth, and rendered
them much less pleasant and nourishing, God
enlarged the grant and allowed him to eat flesh,
which perhaps man never thought of until now, that
God directed him to it. Nor had he any more desire
to it than the sheep has to suck blood like the wolf.
But now, man is allowed to feed upon flesh as freely
and safely as upon the green herb."
Such was the debasing influence of a belief in
the literal truth of the bible upon these men, that
I6O SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
their commentaries are filled with passages utterly
devoid of common sense.
Dr. Clark speaking of the mammoth says :
" This animal, an astonishing proof of God s
power, he seems to have produced merely to show
what he could do. And after suffering a few of
them to propagate, he extinguished the race by a
merciful providence, that they might not destroy
both man and beast.
" We are told that it would have been much
easier for God to destroy all the people and make
new ones, but he would not want to waste anything
and no power or skill should be lavished where no
" The animals were brought to the ark by the
power of God."
Again gentlemen, let me warn you of the danger
of trying to explain a miracle. Let it alone. Say
that you do not understand it, and do not expect to
until taught in the schools of the New Jerusalem.
The more reasons you give, the more unreason
able the miracle will appear. Through what you
say in defence people are led to think, and as
soon as they really think, the miracle is thrown
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. l6l
Among the most ignorant nations you will find
the most wonders, among the most enlightened, the
least. It is with individuals, the same as with
nations. Ignorance believes, Intelligence examines
For about seven months the ark, with its cargo of
men, animals and insects, tossed and wandered with
out rudder or sail upon a boundless sea. At last it
grounded on the mountains of Ararat ; and about
three months afterwards the tops of the mountains
became visible. It must not be forgotten that the
mountain where the ark is supposed to have first
touched bottom, was about seventeen thousand feet
high. How were the animals from the tropics kept
warm ? When the waters were abated it would be
intensely cold at a point seventeen thousand feet
above the level of the sea. May be there were
stoves, furnaces, fire places and steam coils in the ark,
but they are not mentioned in the inspired narrative.
How were the animals kept from freezing ? It will
not do to say that Ararat was not very high after all.
If you will read the fourth and fifth verses of the
eight chapter you will see that although " the ark
rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day
of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat, it was.
1 62 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
not until the first day of the tenth month " that the
tops of the mountains could be seen." From this it
would seem that the ark must have rested upon about
the highest peak in that country. Noah waited forty
days more, and then for the first time opened the
window and took a breath of fresh air. He then
sent out a raven that did not return, then a dove that
returned. He then waited seven days and sent
forth a dove that returned not. From this he knew
that the waters were abated. Is it possible that he
could not see whether the waters had gone ? Is it
possible to conceive of a more perfectly childish way
of ascertaining whether the earth was dry ?
At last Noah " removed the covering of the ark,
and looked and behold the face of the ground was
dry," and thereupon God told him to disembark.
In his gratitude Noah built an altar and took of
every clean beast and of every clean fowl, and offered
burnt offerings. And the Lord smelled a sweet
savor and said in his heart that he would not any
more curse the ground for man s sake. For saying
this in his heart the Lord gives as a reason, not that
man is, or will be good, but because "the imagina
tion of man s heart is evil from his youth." God
destroyed man because " the wickedness of man was
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 163
great in the earth, and becaiise every imagination of
the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually"
And he promised for the same reason not to destroy
him again. Will some gentleman skilled in theology
give us an explanation ?
After God had smelled the sweet savor of sacri
fice, he seems to have changed his idea as to the
proper diet for man. When Adam and Eve were
created they were allowed to eat herbs bearing seed,
and the fruit of trees. When they were turned out
of Eden, God said to them " Thou shalt eat the herb
of the field." In the first chapter of Genesis the
" green herb " was given for food to the beasts, fowls
and creeping things. Upon being expelled from the
garden, Adam and Eve, as to their food, were put
upon an equality with the lower animals. According
to this, the ante-diluvians were vegetarians. This
may account for their wickedness and longevity.
After Noah sacrificed, and God smelled the sweet
savor ; he said " Every moving thing that liveth
shall be meat for you, even as the green herb have I
given you all things." Afterwards this same God
changed his mind again, and divided the beasts and
birds into clean and unclean, and made it a crime for
man to eat the unclean. Probably food was so
1 64 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
scarce when Noah was let out of the ark that Jehovah
generously allowed him to eat anything and every
thing he could find.
According to the account, God then made a
covenant with Noah to the effect that he would not
again destroy the world with a flood, and as the
attesting witness of this contract, a rainbow was set
in the cloud. This bow was placed in the sky so
that it might perpetually remind God of his promise
and covenant. Without this visible witness and re
minder, it would seem that Jehovah was liable to
forget the contract, and drown the world again.
Did the rainbow originate in this way ? Did God
put it in the cloud simply to keep his agreement in
his memory ?
For me it is impossible to believe the story of the
deluge. It seems so cruel, so barbaric, so crude in
detail, so absurd in all its parts, and so contrary to all
we know of law, that even credulity itself is
Many nations have preserved accounts of a
deluge in which all people, except a family or two,
were destroyed. Babylon was certainly a city before
Jerusalem was founded. Egypt was in the height of
her power when there were only seventy Jews in the
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 1 65
world, and India had a literature before the name
of Jehovah had passed the lips of superstition. An
account of a general deluge "was discovered by
George Smith, translated from another account that
was written about two thousand years before Christ."
Of course it is impossible to tell how long the story
had lived in the memory of tradition before it was
reduced to writing by the Babylonians. According
to this account, which is, without doubt, much older
than the one given by Moses, Tamzi built a ship at
the command of the god Hea, and put in it his family
and the beasts of the field. He pitched the ship
inside and outside with bitumen, and as soon as it
was finished, there came a flood of rain and
"destroyed all life from the face of the whole earth,
On the seventh day there was a calm, and the ship
stranded on the mountain Nizir." Tamzi waited for
seven days more, and then let out a dove. After
wards, he let out a swallow, and that, as well as the
dove returned. Then he let out a raven, and as that
did not return, he concluded that the water had dried
away, and thereupon left the ship. Then he made
an offering to god, or the gods, and " Hea interceded
with Bel," so that the earth might never again be
1 66 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
This is the Babylonian story, told without the
contradictions of the original. For in that, it seems,
there are two accounts, as well as in the bible. Is it
not a strange coincidence that there should be
contradictory accounts mingled in both the Baby
lonian and Jewish stories ?
In the bible there are two accounts. In one
account, Noah was to take two of all beasts, birds,
and creeping things into the ark, while in the other,
he was commanded to take of clean beasts, and all
birds by sevens of each kind. According to one
account, the flood only lasted one hundred and fifty
days as related in the third verse of the eighth
chapter ; while the other account fixes the time at
three hundred and seventy-seven days. Both of
these accounts cannot be true. Yet in order to be
saved, it is not sufficient to believe one of them-
you must believe both.
Among the Egyptians there was a story to the
effect that the great god Ra became utterly maddened
with the people, and deliberately made up his mind
that he would exterminate mankind. Thereupon he
began to destroy, and continued in the terrible work
until blood flowed in streams, when suddenly he
ceased, and took an oath that he would not again
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 1 67
destroy the human race. This myth was probably
thousands of years old when Moses was born.
So, in India, there was a fable about the flood.
A fish warned Manu that a flood was coming.
Manu built a "box" and the fish towed it to a
mountain and saved all hands.
The same kind of stories were told in Greece,
and among our own Indian tribes. At one time the
Christian pointed to the fact that many nations told
of a flood, as evidence of the truth of the Mosaic
account ; but now, it having been shown that other
accounts are much older, and equally reasonable,
that argument has ceased to be of any great value.
It is probable that all these accounts had a
common origin. They were likely born of some
thing in nature visible to all nations. The idea of a
universal flood, produced by a god to drown the
world on account of the sins of the people, is infinitely
absurd. The solution of all these stories has been
supposed to be, the existence of partial floods in most
countries; and for a long time this solution was
satisfactory. But the fact that these stories are
greatly alike, that only one man is warned, that only
one family is saved, that a boat is built, that birds are
sent out to find if the water had abated, tend to show
1 68 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
that they had a common origin. Admitting that
there were severe floods in all countries ; it certainly
cannot follow that in each instance only one family
would be saved, or that the same story would in each
instance be told. It may be urged that the natural
tendency of man to exaggerate calamities, might
account for this agreement in all the accounts, and it
must be admitted that there is some force in the
suggestion. I believe, though, that the real origin
of all these myths is the same, and that it was
originally an effort to account for the sun, moon and
stars. The sun and moon were the man and wife,
or the god and goddess, and the stars were their
children. From a celestial myth, it became a ter
restrial one ; the air, or ether-ocean became a flood,
produced by rain, and the sun moon and stars
became man, woman and children.
In the original story, the mountain was the place
where in the far east the sky was supposed to touch
the earth, and it was there that the ship containing
the celestial passengers finally rested from its voyage.
But whatever may be the origin of the stories of the
flood, whether told first by Hindu, Babylonian or
Hebrew, we may rest perfectly assured that they are
all equally false.
BACCHUS AND BABEL.
s soon as Noah had disembarked, he proceeded
to plant a vineyard, and began to be a hus
bandman ; and when the grapes were ripe he made
wine and drank of it to excess ; cursed his grandson,
blessed Shem and Japheth, and after that lived for
three hundred and fifty years. What he did during
these three hundred and fifty years, we are not told.
We never hear of him again. For three hundred and
fifty years he lived among his sons, and daughters,
and their descendants. He must have been a vener
able man. He was the man to whom God had made
known his intention of drowning the world. By his
efforts, the human race had been saved. He must
have been acquainted with Methuselah for six hun
dred years, and Methuselah was about two hundred
and forty years old, when Adam died. Noah must
himself have known the history of mankind, and must
have been an object of almost infinite interest ; and
170 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
yet for three hundred and fifty years he is neither
directly nor indirectly mentioned. When Noah died,
Abraham must have been more than fifty years old ;
and Shem, the son of Noah, lived for several
hundred years after the death of Abraham ; and yet
he is never mentioned. Noah when he died, was
the oldest man in the whole world by about five
hundred years ; and everybody living at the time of
his death knew that they were indebted to him, and
yet no account is given of his burial. No monument
was raised to mark the spot. This, however, is no
more wonderful than the fact that no account is
given of the death of Adam or of Eve, nor of the
place of their burial. This may all be accounted for
by the fact that the language of man was confounded
at the building of the tower of Babel, whereby all
tradition may have been lost, so that even the sons
of Noah could not give an account of their voyage
in the ark ; and, consequently, some one had to be
directly inspired to tell the story, after new languages
had been formed.
It has always been a mystery to me how Adam,
Eve, and the serpent were taught the same language.
Where did they get it ? We know now, that it re
quires a great number of years to form a language ;
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
that it is of exceedingly slow growth. We also
know that by language, man conveys to his fellows
the impressions made upon him by what he sees,
hears, smells and touches. We know that the
language of the savage consists of a few sounds,
capable of expressing only a few ideas or states of
the mind, such as love, desire, fear, hatred, aversion
and contempt. Many centuries are required to pro
duce a language capable of expressing complex ideas.
It does not seem to me that ideas can be manu
factured by a deity and put in the brain of man.
These ideas must be the result of observation and
Does anybody believe that God directly taught a
language to Adam and Eve, or that he so made
them that they, by intuition spoke Hebrew, or some
language capable of conveying to each other their
thoughts? How did the serpent learn the same
language ? Did God teach it to him, or did he
happen to overhear God, when he was teaching
Adam and Eve ? We are told in the second chapter
of Genesis that God caused all the animals to pass
before Adam to see what he would call them. We
cannot infer from this that God named the animals
and informed Adam what to call them. Adam
172 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
named them himself. Where did he get his words ?
We cannot imagine a man just made out of dust,
without the experience of a moment, having the
power to put his thoughts in language. In the first
place, we cannot conceive of his having any thoughts
until he has combined, through experience and obser
vation, the impressions that nature had made upon
him through the medium of his senses. We cannot
imagine of his knowing anything, in the first instance,
about different degrees of heat, nor about darkness, if
he was made in the day-time, nor about light, if cre
ated at night, until the next morning. Before a man
can have what we call thoughts, he must have had
a little experience. Something must have happened
to him before he can have a thought, and before he
can express himself in language. Language is a
growth, not a gift. We account now for the
diversity of language by the fact that tribes and
nations have had different experiences, different
wants, different surroundings, and, one result of all
these differences is, among other things, a difference
in language. Nothing can be more absurd than to
account for the different languages of the world by
saying that the original language was confounded at
the tower of Babel.
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 1 73
According to the bible, up to the time of the
building of that tower, the whole earth was of
one language and of one speech, and would have
so remained until the present time had not an
effort been made to build a tower whose top
should reach into heaven. Can any one imagine
what objection God would have to the building of
such a tower? And how could the confusion of
tongues prevent its construction ? How could
language be confounded ? It could be confounded
only by the destruction of memory. Did God
destroy the memory of mankind at that time, and if
so, how ? Did he paralyze that portion of the brain
presiding over the organs of articulation, so that they
could not speak the words, although they remem
bered them clearly, or did he so touch the brain
that they could not hear ? Will some theologian,
versed in the machinery of the miraculous, tell us
in what way God confounded the language of
Why would the confounding of the language
make them separate ? Why would they not stay
together until they could understand each other ?
People will not separate, from weakness. When in
trouble they come together and desire the assistance
174 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
of each other. Why, in this instance, did they
separate ? What particular ones would naturally
come together if nobody understood the language
of any other person ? Would it not have been just
as hard to agree when and where to go, without any
language to express the agreement, as to go on with
the building of the tower ?
Is it possible that any one now believes that the
whole world would be of one speech had the lan
guage not been confounded at Babel ? Do we not
know that every word was suggested in some way
by the experience of men ? Do we not know that
words are continually dying, and continually being
born ; that every language has its cradle and its
cemetery its buds, its blossoms, its fruits and its
withered leaves ? Man has loved, enjoyed, hated,
suffered and hoped, and all words have been born of
Why did " the Lord come down to see the city
and the tower ? " Could he not see them from
where he lived or from where he was ? Where did
he come down from ? Did he come in the daytime,
or in the night ? We are taught now that God is
everywhere ; that he inhabits immensity ; that he is
in every atom, and in every star. If this is true,
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 1 75
why did he " come down to see the city and the
tower ? " Will some theologian explain this ?
After all, is it not much easier and altogether
more reasonable to say that Moses was mistaken,
that he knew little of the science of language, and
that he guessed a great deal more than he investi
FAITH IN FILTH.
No light whatever is shed upon what passed in
the world after the confounding of language
at Babel, until the birth of Abraham. But, before
speaking of the history of the Jewish people, it may
be proper for me to say that many things are re
counted in Genesis, and other books attributed to
Moses, of which I do not wish to speak. There are
many pages of these books unfit to read, many
stories not calculated, in my judgment, to improve
the morals of mankind. I do not wish even to call
the attention of my readers to these things, except in
a general way. It is to be hoped that the time will
come when such chapters and passages as cannot be
read without leaving the blush of shame upon the
cheek of modesty, will be left out, and not published
as a part of the bible. If there is a God, it certainly
is blasphemous to attribute to him the authorship of
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. I 77
pages too obscene, beastly and vulgar to be read in
the presence of men and women.
The believers in the bible are loud in their
denunciation of what they are pleased to call the
immoral literature of the world ; and yet few books
have been published containing more moral filth
than this inspired word of God. These stories are
not redeemed by a single flash of wit or humor.
They never rise above the dull details of stupid vice.
For one, I cannot afford to soil my pages with
extracts from them ; and all such portions of the
Scriptures I leave to be examined, written upon, and
explained by the clergy. Clergymen may know
some way by which they can extract honey from
these flowers. Until these passages are expunged
from the Old Testament, it is not a fit book to be
read by either old or young. It contains pages
that no minister in the United States would read to
his congregation for any reward whatever. There
are chapters that no gentleman would read in the
presence of a lady. There are chapters that no
father would read to his child. There are narratives
utterly unfit to be told ; and the time will come
when mankind will wonder that such a book was
ever called inspired.
178 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
I know that in many books besides the bible,
there are immodest lines. Some of the greatest
writers have soiled their pages with indecent words.
We account for this by saying that the authors were
human ; that they catered to the taste and spirit of
their times. We make excuses, but at the same time
regret that in their works they left an impure word.
But what shall we say of God ? Is it possible that a
being of infinite purity the author of modesty,
would smirch the pages of his book with stories
lewd, licentious and obscene ? If God is the author
of the bible, it is, of course, the standard by which
all other books can, and should be measured. If the
bible is not obscene, what book is ? Why should
men be imprisoned simply for imitating God ? The
Christian world should never say another word
against immoral books until it makes the inspired
volume clean. These vile and filthy things were not
written for the purpose of conveying and enforcing
moral truth, but seem to have been written because
the author loved an unclean thing. There is no
moral depth below that occupied by the writer or
publisher of obscene books, that stain with lust, the
loving heart of youth. Such men should be im
prisoned and their books destroyed. The literature
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 1/9
of the world should be rendered decent, and no book
should be published that cannot be read by, and in
the hearing of the best and purest people. But as
long as the bible is considered as the work of God,
it will be hard to make all men too good and pure
to imitate it ; and as long as it is imitated there will
be vile and filthy books. The literature of our
country will not be sweet and clean until the bible
ceases to be regarded as the production of a god.
We are continually told that the bible is the very
foundation of modesty and morality ; while many of
its pages are so immodest and immoral that a
minister, for reading them in the pulpit, would be
instantly denounced as an unclean wretch. Every
woman would leave the church, and if the men
stayed, it would be for the purpose of chastising the
Is there any saving grace in hypocrisy ? Will
men become clean in speech by believing that God
is unclean ? Would it not be far better to admit
that the bible was written by barbarians in a
barbarous, coarse and vulgar age ? Would it not be
safer to charge Moses with vulgarity, instead of God ?
Is it not altogether more probable that some ignorant
Hebrew would write the vulgar words ? The chris-
ISO SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
tians tell me that God is the author of these vile and
stupid things ? I have examined the question to the
best of my ability, and as to God my verdict is :
Not guilty. Faith should not rest in filth.
Every foolish and immodest thing should be
expunged from the bible. Let us keep the good.
Let us preserve every great and splendid thought,
every wise and prudent maxim, every just law, every
elevated idea, and every word calculated to make
man nobler and purer, and let us have the courage to
throw the rest away. The souls of children should
not be stained and soiled. The charming instincts
of youth should not be corrupted and defiled. The
girls and boys should not be taught that unclean
words were uttered by " inspired" lips. Teach them
that these words were born of savagery and lust.
Teach them that the unclean is the unholy, and that
only the pure is sacred.
FTER language had been confounded and the
P e pl e scattered, there appeared in the land
of Canaan a tribe of Hebrews ruled by a chief or
sheik called Abraham. They had a few cattle, lived
in tents, practiced polygamy, wandered from place to
place, and were the only folks in the whole world
to whom God paid the slightest attention. At this
time there were hundreds of cities in India filled with
temples and palaces ; millions of Egyptians wor
shiped Isis and Osiris, and had covered their land
with marvelous monuments of industry, power and
skill. But these civilizations were entirely neglected
by the Deity, his whole attention being taken up
with Abraham and his family.
It seems, from the account, that God and
Abraham were intimately acquainted, and conversed
frequently upon a great variety of subjects. By the
twelfth chapter of Genesis it appears that he made
1 82 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
the following promises to Abraham. " I will make
of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and
make thy name great : and thou shalt be a blessing.
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him
that curseth thee."
After receiving this communication from the
Almighty, Abraham went into the land of Canaan,
and again God appeared to him and told him to take
a heifer three years old, a goat of the same age, a
sheep of equal antiquity, a turtle dove and a young
pigeon. Whereupon Abraham killed the animals
" and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece
one against another." And it came to pass that
when the sun went down and it was dark, behold a
smoking furnace and a burning lamp that passed
between the raw and bleeding meat. The killing of
these animals was a preparation for receiving a visit
from God. Should an American missionary in
Central Africa find a negro chief surrounded by a
butchered heifer, a goat and a sheep, with which to
receive a communication from the infinite God, my
opinion is, that the missionary would regard the
proceeding as the direct result of savagery. And if
the chief insisted that he had seen a smoking furnace
and a burning lamp going up and down between the
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 183
pieces of meat, the missionary would certainly con
clude that the chief was not altogether -right in his
If the bible is true, this same God told Abraham
to take and sacrifice his only son, or rather the only
son of his wife, and a murder would have been,
committed had not God, just at the right moment,
directed him to stay his hand and take a sheep
God made a great number of promises to
Abraham, but few of them were ever kept. He
agreed to make him the father of a great nation, but
he did not. He solemnly promised to give him a
great country, including all the land between the
river of Egypt and the Euphrates, but he did not.
In due time Abraham passed away, and his son
Isaac took his place at the head of the tribe. Then
came Jacob, who u watered stock " and enriched
himself with the spoil of Laban. Joseph was sold
into Egypt by his jealous brethren, where he became
one of the chief men of the kingdom, and in a few
years his father and brothers left their own country
and settled in Egypt. At this time there were
seventy Hebrews in the world, counting Joseph and
his children. They remained in Egypt two hundred
184 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
and fifteen years. It is claimed by some that they
were in that country for four hundred and thirty
years. This is a mistake. Josephus says they were
in Egypt two hundred and fifteen years, and this
statement is sustained by the best biblical scholars
of all denominations. According to the i7th verse
of the 3rd chapter of Galatians, it was four hundred
and thirty years from the time the promise was made
to Abraham to the giving of the law, and as the
Hebrews did not go to Egypt for two hundred and
fifteen years after the making of the promise to
Abraham, they could in no event have been in Egypt
more than two hundred and fifteen years. In our
bible the 4oth verse of the i2th chapter of Exodus,
is as follows :
" Now the sojourning of the children of Israel,
who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty
This passage does not say that the sojourning
was all done in Egypt ; neither does it say that the
children of Israel dwelt in Egypt four hundred and
thirty years ; but it does say that the sojourning of
the children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt was four
hundred and thirty years. The Vatican copy of the
Septuagint renders the same passage as follows :
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 1 85
"The sojourning of the children of Israel which
they sojourned in Egypt, and in the land of Canaan,
was four hundred and thirty years."
The Alexandrian version says : "The sojourning
of the children of Israel which they and their fathers
sojourned in Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, was
four hundred and thirty years."
And in the Samaritan bible we have : " The
sojourning of the children of Israel and of their
fathers which they sojourned in the land of Canaan,
and in the land of Egypt, was four hundred and
There were seventy souls when they went down
into Egypt, and they remained two hundred and
fifteen years, and at the end of that time they had
increased to about three million. How do we know
that there were three million at the end of two
hundred and fifteen years ? We know it because we
are informed by Moses that "there were six hundred
thousand men of war." Now, to each man of war,
there must have been at least five other people. In
every State in this Union there will be to each voter/
five other persons at least, and we all know that
there are always more voters than men of war. If
there were six hundred thousand men of war, there
I 86 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
must have been a population of at least three million.
Is it possible that seventy people could increase to
that extent in two hundred and fifteen years ? You
may say that it was a miracle ; but what need was
there of working a miracle? Why should God
miraculously increase the number of slaves ? If he
wished miraculously to increase the population, why
did he not wait until the people were free ?
In 1776, we had in the American Colonies about
three millions of people. In one hundred years we
doubled four times : that is to say, six, twelve,
twenty-four, forty-eight million, our present popu
We must not forget that during all these years
there has been pouring into our country a vast stream
of emigration, and that this, taken in connection with
the fact that our country is productive beyond all
others, gave us only four doubles in one hundred
years. Admitting that the Hebrews increased as
rapidly without emigration as we, in this country,
have with it, we will give to them four doubles each
century, commencing with seventy people, and they
would have, at the end of two hundred years, a
population of seventeen thousand nine hundred and
twenty. Giving them another double for the odd
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 1 87
fifteen years and there would be, provided no deaths
had occurred, thirty-five thousand eight hundred and
forty people. And yet we are told that instead of
having this number, they had increased to such an
extent that they had six hundred thousand men of
war : that is to say, a population of more than three
Every sensible man knows that this account is
not, and cannot be true. We know that seventy
people could not increase to three million in two
hundred and fifteen years.
About this time the Hebrews took a census, and
found that there were twenty-two thousand two
hundred and seventy-three first born males. It is
reasonable to suppose that there were about as many
first born females. This would make forty-four
thousand five hundred and forty-six first born
children. Now, there must have been about as
many mothers as there were first born children. If
there were only about forty-five thousand mothers
and three millions of people, the mothers must have
had on an average about sixty-six children apiece.
At this time, the Hebrews were slaves, and had
been for two hundred and fifteen years. A little
while before, an order had been made by the
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
Egyptians that all the male children of the Hebrews
should be killed. One, contrary to this order, was
saved in an ark made of bullrushes daubed with
slime. This child was found by the daughter of
Pharaoh, and was adopted, it seems, as her own,
and, may be, was. He grew to be a man, sided
with the Hebrews, killed an Egyptian that was
smiting a slave, hid the body in the sand, and fled
from Egypt to the land of Midian, became acquainted
with a priest who had seven daughters, took the
side of the daughters against the ill-mannered shep
herds of that country, and married Zipporah, one of
the girls, and became a shepherd for her father.
Afterward, while tending his flock, the Lord appeared
to him in a burning bush, and commanded him to
go to the king of Egypt and demand from him the
liberation of the Hebrews. In order to convince
him that the something burning in the bush was
actually God, the rod in his hand was changed into
a serpent, which, upon being caught by the tail,
became again a rod. Moses was also told to put
his hand in his bosom, and when he took it out it
was as leprous as snow. Quite a number of strange
things were performed, and others promised. Moses
then agreed to go back to Egypt provided his
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 189
brother could go with him. Whereupon the Lord
appeared to Aaron, and directed him to meet Moses
in the wilderness. They met at the mount of God,
went to Egypt, gathered together all the elders of
the children of Israel, spake all the words which God
had spoken unto Moses, and did all the signs in the
sight of the people. The Israelites believed, bowed
their heads and worshiped ; and Moses and Aaron
went in and told their message to Pharaoh the
THREE millions of people were in slavery. They
were treated with the utmost rigor, and so
fearful were their masters that they might, in time,
increase in numbers sufficient to avenge themselves,
that they took from the arms of mothers all the male
children and destroyed them. If the account given
is true, the Egyptians were the most cruel, heartless
and infamous people of which history gives any
record. God finally made up his mind to free the
Hebrews ; and for the accomplishment of this pur
pose he sent, as his agents, Moses and Aaron, to
the king of Egypt. In order that the king might
know that these men had a divine mission, God
gave Moses the power of changing a stick into a
serpent, and water into blood. Moses and Aaron
went before the king, stating that the Lord God of
Israel ordered the King of Egypt to let the Hebrews
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
go that they might hold a feast with God in the
wilderness. Thereupon Pharaoh, the king, enquired
who the Lord was, at the same time stating that he
had never made his acquaintance, and knew nothing
about him. To this they replied that the God of the
Hebrews had met with them, and they asked to go a
three days journey into the desert and sacrifice unto
this God, fearing that if they did not he would fall
upon them with pestilence or the sword. This
interview seems to have hardened Pharaoh, for he
ordered the tasks of the children of Israel to be
increased ; so that the only effect of the first appeal
was to render still worse the condition of the
Hebrews. Thereupon, Moses returned unto the
Lord and said " Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil
entreated this people ? Why is it that thou hast
sent me ? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in
thy name he hath done evil to this people ; neither
hast thou delivered thy people at all."
Apparently stung by this reproach, God an
" Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharoah ;
for with a strong hand shall he let them go ; and
with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his
192 SOME MISTAKES OE MOSES.
God then recounts the fact that he had appeared
unto Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that he had estab
lished a covenant with them to give them the land
of Canaan, that he had heard the groanings of the
children of Israel in Egyptian bondage ; that their
groanings had put him in mind of his covenant, and
that he had made up his mind to redeem the children
of Israel with a stretched out arm and with great
judgments. Moses then spoke to the children of
Israel again, but they would listen to him no more.
His first effort in their behalf had simply doubled
their trouble and they seemed to have lost confidence
in his power. Thereupon Jehovah promised Moses
that he would make him a god unto Pharaoh, and
that Aaron should be his prophet, but at the same
time informed him that his message would be of no
avail ; that he would harden the heart of Pharaoh so
that he would not listen ; that he would so harden
his heart that he might have an excuse for destroy
ing the Egyptians. Accordingly, Moses and Aaron
again went before Pharaoh. Moses said to Aaron ;
" Cast down your rod before Pharaoh," which he
did, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh not in
the least surprised, called for his wise men and his
sorcerers, and they threw down their rods and
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 193
changed them into serpents. The serpent that had
been changed from Aaron s rod was, at this time
crawling upon the floor, and it proceeded to swallow
the serpents that had been produced by the
magicians of Egypt. What became of these serpents
that were swallowed, whether they turned back into
sticks again, is not stated. Can we believe that the
stick was changed into a real living serpent, or did
it assume simply the appearance of a serpent ? If it
bore only the appearance of a serpent it was a
deception, and could not rise above the dignity of
legerdemain. Is it necessary to believe that God
is a kind of prestigiator a sleight-of-hand per
former, a magician or sorcerer ? Can it be possible
that an infinite being w r ould endeavor to secure the
liberation of a race by performing a miracle that
could be equally performed by the sorcerers and
magicians of a barbarian king ?
Not one word was said by Moses or Aaron as to
the wickedness of depriving a human being of his
liberty. Not a word was said in favor of liberty.
Not the slightest intimation that a human being was
justly entitled to the product of his own labor. Not
a word about the cruelty of masters who would
destroy even the babes of slave mothers. It seems
194 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
to me wonderful that this God did not tell the kino-
of Egypt that no nation could enslave another, with
out also enslaving itself; that it was impossible to
put a chain around the limbs of a slave, without
putting manacles upon the brain of the master.
Why did he not tell him that a nation founded upon
slavery could not stand ? Instead of declaring these
things, instead of appealing to justice, to mercy and
to liberty, he resorted to feats of jugglery. Suppose
we wished to make a treaty with a barbarous nation,
and the president should employ a sleight-of-hand
performer as envoy extraordinary, and instruct him,
that when he came into the presence of the savage
monarch, he should cast down an umbrella or a
walking stick, which would change into a lizard or
a turtle ; what would we think ? Would we not
regard such a performance as beneath the dignity
even of a president? And what would be our
feelings if the savage king sent for his sorcerers and
had them perform the same feat ? If such things
would appear puerile and foolish in the president of
a great republic, what shall be said when they were
resorted to by the creator of all worlds ? How
small, how contemptible such a God appears !
Pharaoh, it seems, took about this view of the
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
matter, and he would not be persuaded that such
tricks were performed by an infinite being.
Again, Moses and Aaron came before Pharaoh
as he was going to the river s bank, and the same
rod which had changed to a serpent, and, by this
time changed back, was taken by Aaron, who, in the
presence of Pharaoh, smote the water of the river,
which was immediately turned to blood, as well as
all the water in all the streams, ponds, and pools,
as well as all water in vessels of wood and vessels of
stone in the entire land of Egypt. As soon as all
the waters in Egypt had been turned into blood, the
magicians of that country did the same with their
enchantments. We are not informed where they
got the water to turn into blood, since all the water
in Egypt had already been so changed. It seems
from the account that the fish in the Nile died, and
the river emitted a stench, and there was not a drop
of w r ater in the land of Egypt that had not been
changed into blood. In consequence of this, the
Egyptians digged " around about the river " for
water to drink. Can we believe this story ? Is it
necessary to salvation to admit that all the rivers,
pools, ponds and lakes of a country were changed
into blood, in order that a king might be induced to
196 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
allow the children of Israel the privilege of going
a three days journey into the wilderness to make
sacrifices to their God ?
It seems from the account that Pharaoh was told
that the God of the Hebrews would, if he refused to
let the Israelites go, change all the waters of Egypt
into blood, and that, upon his refusal, they were so
changed. This had, however, no influence upon
him, for the reason that his own magicians did the
same. It does not appear that Moses and Aaron
expressed the least surprise at the success of the
Egyptian sorcerers. At that time it was believed
that each nation had its own god. The only claim
that Moses and Aaron made for their God was, that
he was the greatest and most powerful of all the
gods, and that with anything like an equal chance he
could vanquish the deity of any other nation.
After the waters were changed to blood Moses
and Aaron waited for seven days. At the end of
that time God told Moses to again go to Pharaoh
and demand the release of his people, and to inform
him that, if he refused, God would strike all the
borders of Egypt with frogs. That he would make
frogs so plentiful that they would go into the houses
of Pharaoh, into his bedchamber, upon his bed, into
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 1 97
the houses of his servants, upon his people, into
their ovens, and even into their kneading troughs.
This threat had no effect whatever upon Pharaoh.
And thereupon Aaron stretched out his hand over
the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and
covered the land. The magicians of Egypt did the
same, and with their enchantments brought more
frogs upon the land of Egypt.
These magicians do not seem to have been
original in their ideas, but so far as imitation is con
cerned, were perfect masters of their art. The frogs
seem to have made such an impression upon Pharaoh
that he sent for Moses and asked him to entreat the
Lord that he would take away the frogs. Moses
agreed to remove them from the houses and the
land, and allow them to remain only in the rivers.
Accordingly the frogs died out of the houses, and out
of the villages, and out of the fields, and the people
gathered them together in heaps. As soon as the
frogs had left the houses and fields, the heart of
Pharaoh became again hardened, and he refused to
let the people go.
Aaron then, according to the command of God,
stretched out his hand, holding the rod, and smote
the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man and
198 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
in beast, and all the dust became lice throughout the
land of Egypt. Pharaoh again sent for his magicians,
and they sought to do the same with their enchant
ments, but they could not. Whereupon the sor
cerers said unto Pharaoh : " This is the finger of
Notwithstanding this, however, Pharaoh refused
to let the Hebrews go. God then caused a grievous
swarm of flies to come into the house of Pharaoh
and into his servants houses, and into all the land of
Egypt, to such an extent that the whole land was
corrupted by reason of the flies. But into that part
of the country occupied by the children of Israel
there came no flies. Thereupon Pharaoh sent for
Moses and Aaron and said to them : " Go, and
sacrifice to your God in this land." They were not
willing to sacrifice in Egypt, and asked permission
to go on a journey of three days into the wilderness.
To this Pharaoh acceded, and in consideration of
this Moses agreed to use his influence with the Lord
to induce him to send the flies out of the country.
He accordingly told the Lord of the bargain he had
made with Pharaoh, and the Lord agreed to the
compromise, and removed the flies from Pharaoh and
from his servants and from his people, and there
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 199
remained not a single fly in the land of Egypt. As
soon as the flies were gone, Pharaoh again changed
his mind, and concluded not to permit the children of
Israel to depart. The Lord then directed Moses to
o-o to Pharaoh and tell him that if he did not allow
the children of Israel to depart, he would destroy his
cattle, his horses, his camels and his sheep ; that
these animals would be afflicted with a grievous
disease, but that the animals belonging to the
Hebrews should not be so afflicted. Moses did as
he was bid. On the next day all the cattle of Egypt
died ; that is to say, all the horses, all the asses, all
the camels, all the oxen and all the sheep ; but of
the animals owned by the Israelites, not one perished.
This disaster had no effect upon Pharaoh, and he still
refused to let the children of Israel go. The Lord
then told Moses and Aaron to take some ashes
out of a furnace, and told Moses to sprinkle them
toward the heavens in the sight of Pharaoh ; saying
that the ashes should become small dust in all the
land of Egypt, and should be a boil breaking forth
with blains upon man and upon beast throughout all
How these boils breaking out with blains, upon
cattle that were already dead, should affect Pharaoh,
2OO SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
is a little hard to understand. It must not be for
gotten that all the cattle and all beasts had died with
the murrain before the boils had broken out.
This was a most decisive victory for Moses and
Aaron. The boils were upon the magicians to that
extent that they could not stand before Moses. But
it had no effect upon Pharaoh, who seems to have
been a man of great firmness. The Lord then
instructed Moses to get up early in the morning and
tell Pharaoh that he would stretch out his hand and
smite his people with a pestilence, and would, on the
morrow, cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such
as had never been known in the land of Egypt. He
also told Moses to give notice, so that they might
get all the cattle that were in the fields under cover.
It must be remembered that all these cattle had
recently died of the murrain, and their dead bodies
had been covered with boils and blains. This,
however, had no effect, and Moses stretched forth
his hand toward heaven, and the Lord sent thunder,
and hail and lightning, and fire that ran along the
ground, and the hail fell upon all the land of Egypt,
and all that were in the fields, both man and
beast, were smitten, and the hail smote every
herb of the field, and broke every tree of the
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 2OI
country except that portion inhabited by the children
of Israel ; there, there was no hail.
During* this hail storm Pharaoh sent for Moses
and Aaron and admitted that he had sinned, that the
Lord was righteous, and that the Egyptians were
wicked, and requested them to ask the Lord that
there be no more thunderings and hail, and that he
would let the Hebrews go. Moses agreed that as
soon as he got out of the city he would stretch forth
his hands unto the Lord, and that the thunderings
should cease and the hail should stop. But, when
the rain and the hail and the thundering ceased,
Pharaoh concluded that he would not let the
children of Israel go.
Again, God sent Moses and Aaron, instructing
them to tell Pharaoh that if he refused to let the
people go, the face of the earth would be covered
with locusts, so that man would not be able to see
the ground, and that these locusts would eat the
residue of that which escaped from the hail ; that
they would eat every tree out of the field ; that they
would fill the houses of Pharaoh and the houses of
all his servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians.
Moses delivered the message, and went out from
Pharaoh. Some of Pharaoh s servants entreated
2O2 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
their master to let the children of Israel go.
Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron and asked
them, who wished to go into the wilderness to
sacrifice. They replied that they wished to go with
the young and old ; with their sons and daughters,
with flocks and herds. Pharaoh would not consent
to this, but agreed that the men might go. There 8
upon Pharaoh drove Moses and Aaron out of his
sight. Then God told Moses to stretch forth his
hand upon the land of Egypt for the locusts, that
they might come up and eat every herb, even all
that the hail had left. " And Moses stretched out
his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought
an East wind all that day and all that night ; and
and when it was morning the East wind brought the
locusts ; and they came up over all the land of Egypt
and rested upon all the coasts covering the face of
the whole earth, so that the land was darkened ;
and they ate every herb and all the fruit of the
trees which the hail had left, and there remained
not any green thing on the trees or in the herbs
of the field throughout the land of Egypt." Pharaoh
then called for Moses and Aaron in great haste,
admitted that he had sinned against the Lord their
God and against them, asked their forgiveness and
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 203
requested them to intercede with God that he might
take away the locusts. They went out from his
presence and asked the Lord to drive the locusts
away, " And the Lord made a strong west wind
which took away the locusts, and cast them into the
Red Sea so that there remained not one locust in all
the coasts of Egypt."
As soon as the locusts were gone, Pharaoh
changed his mind, and, in the language of the sacred
text, " the Lord hardened Pharaoh s heart so that he
would not let the children of Israel go."
The Lord then told Moses to stretch out his
hand toward heaven that there might be darkness
over the land of Egypt, " even darkness which might
be felt." " And Moses stretched forth his hand
toward heaven, and there was a thick darkness over
the land of Egypt for three days during which time
they saw not each other, neither arose any of the
people from their places for three days ; but the
children of Israel had light in their dwellings."
It strikes me that when the land of Egypt was
covered with thick darkness so thick that it could
be felt, and when light was in the dwellings of the
Israelites, there could have been no better time for
the Hebrews to have left the country.
2O4 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
Pharaoh again called for Moses, and told him
that his people could go and serve the Lord, pro
vided they would leave their flocks and herds.
Moses would not agree to this, for the reason that
they needed the flocks and herds for sacrifices and
burnt offerings, and he did not know how many of
the animals God might require, and for that reason
he could not leave a single hoof. Upon the question
of the cattle, they divided, and Pharaoh again refused
to let the people go. God then commanded Moses
to tell the Hebrews to borrow, each of his neighbor,
jewels of silver and gold. By a miraculous interpo
sition the Hebrews found favor in the sight of the
Egyptians so that they loaned the articles asked for.
After this, Moses again went to Pharaoh and told
him that all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from
the first-born of Pharaoh upon the throne, unto the
first-born of the maid-servant who was behind the
mill, as well as the first-born of beasts, should die.
As all the beasts had been destroyed by disease
and hail, it is troublesome to understand the meaning
of the threat as to their first-born.
Preparations were accordingly made for carrying
this frightful threat into execution. Blood was put
on the door-posts of all houses inhabited by Hebrews,
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 2O5
so that God, as he passed through that land, might
not be mistaken and destroy the first-born of the
Jews. "And it came to pass that at midnight the
Lord smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt,
the first-born of Pharaoh who sat on the throne, and
the first-born of the captive who was in the dungeon.
And Pharaoh rose up in the night, and all his
servants, and all the Egyptians, and there was a
great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where
there was not one dead."
What had these children done ? Why should
the babes in the cradle be destroyed on account of
the crime of Pharaoh ? Why should the cattle be
destroyed because man had enslaved his brother ?
In those days women and children and cattle were
put upon an exact equality, and all considered
as the property of the men ; and when man in
some way excited the wrath of God, he punished
them by destroying all their cattle, their wives,
and their little ones. Where can words be found
bitter enough to describe a god who would kill
wives and babes because husbands and fathers
had failed to keep his law ? Every good man,
and every good woman, must hate and despise
such a deity.
2O6 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
Upon the death of all the first-born Pharaoh sent
for Moses and Aaron, and not only gave his consent
that they might go with the Hebrews into the
wilderness, but besought them to go at once.
Is it possible that an infinite God, creator of all
worlds and sustainer of all life, said to Pharaoh,
" If you do not let my people go, I will turn
all the water of your country into blood," and
that upon the refusal of Pharaoh to release the
people, God did turn all the waters into blood?
Do you believe this ?
Do you believe that Pharaoh even after all the
water was turned to blood, refused to let the
Hebrews go, and that thereupon God told him he
would cover his land with frogs? Do you believe
Do you believe that after the land was covered
with frogs Pharaoh still refused to let the people go,
and that God then said to him, " I will cover you and
all your people with lice ? " Do you believe God
would make this threat ?
Do you also believe that God told Pharaoh, " If
you do not let these people go, I will fill all your
houses and cover your country with flies ? " Do you
believe God makes such threats as this ?
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 2OJ
Of course God must have known that turning the
waters into blood, covering the country with frogs,
infesting all flesh with lice, and filling all houses with
flies, would not accomplish his object, and that all
these plagues would have no effect whatever upon
the Egyptian king.
Do you believe that, failing to accomplish any
thing by the flies, God told Pharaoh that if he did
not let the people go he would kill his cattle with
murrain ? Does such a threat sound God-like ?
Do you believe that, failing to effect anything by
killing the cattle, this same God then threatened to
afflict all the people with boils, including the magi
cians who had been rivaling him in the matter of
miracles ; and failing to do anything by boils, that
he resorted to hail ? Does this sound reasonable ?
The hail experiment having accomplished nothing,
do you believe that God murdered the first-born of
animals and men ? Is it possible to conceive of
anything more utterly absurd, stupid, revolting, cruel
and senseless, than the miracles said to have been
wrought by the Almighty for the purpose of inducing
Pharaoh to liberate the children of Israel ?
Is it not altogether more reasonable to say that
the Jewish people, being in slavery, accounted for
2O8 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
the misfortunes and calamities, suffered by the
Egyptians, by saying that they were the judgments
of God ?
When the Armada of Spain was wrecked and
scattered by the storm, the English people believed
that God had interposed in their behalf, and publicly
gave thanks. When the battle of Lepanto was won,
it was believed by the catholic world that the victory
was given in answer to prayer. So, our fore-fathers
in their revolutionary struggle saw, or thought they
saw, the hand of God, and most firmly believed that
they achieved their independence by the interposi
tion of the Most High.
Now, it may be that while the Hebrews were
enslaved by the Egyptians, there were plagues of
locusts and flies. It may be that there were some dis
eases by which many of the cattle perished. It may be
that a pestilence visited that country so that in nearly
every house there was some one dead. If so, it was
but natural for the enslaved and superstitious Jews
to account for these calamities by saying that they
were punishments sent by their God. Such ideas
will be found in the history of every country.
For a long time the Jews held these opinions,
and they were handed from father to son simply by
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 2O9
tradition. By the time a written language had been
produced, thousands of additions had been made,
and numberless details invented; so that we have
not only an account of the plagues suffered by the
Egyptians, but the whole woven into a connected
story, containing the threats made by Moses and
Aaron, the miracles wrought by them, the promises
of Pharaoh, and finally the release of the Hebrews,
as a result of the marvelous things performed in their
behalf by Jehovah.
In any event it is infinitely more probable that
the author was misinformed, than that the Go$ of
this universe was guilty of these childish, heartless
and infamous things. The solution of the whole
matter is this : Moses was mistaken.
millions of people, with their flocks and
__ herds, with borrowed jewelry and raiment, with
unleavened dough in kneading troughs bound in
their clothes upon their shoulders, in one night com
menced their journey for the land of promise. We
are not told how they were informed of the precise
time to start. With all the modern appliances, it
would require months of time to inform three millions
of people of any fact.
In this vast assemblage there were six hundred
thousand men of war, and with them were the old,
the young, the diseased and helpless. Where were
those people going ? They were going to the desert
of Sinai, compared with which Sahara is a garden.
Imagine an ocean of lava torn by storm and vexed
by tempest, suddenly gazed at by a Gorgon and
changed instantly to stone ! Such was the desert of
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 2 I I
All of the civilized nations of the world
could not feed and support three millions of
people on the desert of Sinai for forty years.
It would cost more than one hundred thousand
millions of dollars, and would bankrupt Chris
tendom. They had with them their flocks and
herds, and the sheep were so numerous that
the Israelites sacrificed, at one time, more than
one hundred and fifty thousand first-born lambs.
How were these flocks supported ? What did
they eat ? Where were meadows and pastures
for them ? There was no grass, no forests-
nothing ! There is no account of its having
rained baled hay, nor is it even claimed that they
were miraculously fed. To support these flocks,
millions of acres of pasture would have been re
quired. God did not take the Israelites through
the land of the Philistines, for fear that when
they saw the people of that country they would
return to Egypt, but he took them by the way
of the wilderness to the Red Sea, going before
them by day in a pillar of cloud, and by night, in a
pillar of fire.
When it was told Pharaoh that the people had
fled, he made ready and took six hundred chosen
212 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
chariots of Egypt, and pursued after the children of
Israel, overtaking them by the sea. As all the
animals had long before that time been destroyed,
we are not informed where Pharaoh obtained the
horses for his chariots. The moment the children
of Israel saw the hosts of Pharaoh, although they
had six hundred thousand men of war, they imme
diately cried unto the Lord for protection. It is
wonderful to me that a land that had been ravaged
by the plagues described in the bible, still had the
power to put in the field an army that would carry
terror to the hearts of six hundred thousand men of
war. Even with the help of God, it seems, they were
not strong enough to meet the Egyptians in the open
field, but resorted to strategy. Moses again stretched
forth his wonderful rod over the waters of the Red
Sea, and they were divided, and the Hebrews passed
through on dry land, the waters standing up like a
wall on either side. The Egyptians pursued them ;
" and in the morning watch the Lord looked into the
hosts of the Egyptians, through the pillar of fire,"
and proceeded to take the wheels off their chariots.
As soon as the wheels were off, God told Moses to
stretch out his hand over the sea. Moses did so,
and immediately " the waters returned and covered
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 213
the chariots and horsemen and all the hosts of
Pharaoh that came into the sea, and there remained
not so much as one of them."
This account may be true, but still it hardly looks
reasonable that God would take the wheels off the
chariots. How did he do it ? Did he pull out the
linch-pins, or did he just take them off by main
What a picture this presents to the mind ! God
the creator of the universe, maker of every shining,
glittering star, engaged in pulling off the wheels of
wagons, that he might convince Pharaoh of his
greatness and power !
Where were these people going ? They were
going to the promised land. How large a country
was that? About twelve thousand square miles.
About one-fifth the size of the State of Illinois. It
was a frightful country, covered with rocks and deso
lation. How many people were in the promised land
already ? Moses tells us there were seven nations in
that country mightier than the Jews. As there were
at least three millions of Jews, there must have been
at least twenty-one millions of people already in that
country. These had to be driven out in order that
room might be made for the chosen people of God.
214 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
It seems, however, that God was not willing to take
the children of Israel into the promised land imme
diately. They were not fit to inhabit the land of
Canaan ; so he made up his mind to allow them to
wander upon the desert until all except two, who
had left Egypt, should perish. Of all the slaves
released from Egyptian bondage, only two were
allowed to reach the promised land !
As soon as the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea,
they found themselves without food, and with water
unfit to drink by reason of its bitterness, and they
began to murmur against Moses, who cried unto the
Lord, and " the Lord showed him a tree." Moses
cast this tree into the waters, and they became sweet.
" And it came to pass in the morning the dew lay
around about the camp ; and when the dew that lay
was gone, behold, upon the face of the wilderness lay
a small round thing, small as the hoar-frost upon the
ground. And Moses said unto them, this is the
bread which the Lord hath given you to eat." This
manna was a very peculiar thing. It would melt in
the sun, and yet they could cook it by seething and
baking. One would as soon think of frying snow or
of broiling icicles. But this manna had another
remarkable quality. No matter how much or little
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 21 5
any person gathered, he would have an exact
omer ; if he gathered more, it would shrink
to that amount, and if he gathered less, it
would swell exactly to that amount. What a
magnificent substance manna would be with
which to make a currency shrinking and swell
ing according to the great laws of supply and
" Upon this manna the children of Israel lived for
forty years, until they came to a habitable land.
With this meat were they fed until they reached the
borders of the land of Canaan." We are told
in the twenty-first chapter of Numbers, that the
people at last became tired of the manna, com
plained of God, and asked Moses why he brought
them out of the land of Egypt to die in the
wilderness. And they said: " There is no bread,
nor have we any water. Our soul loatheth this
We are told by some commentators that the
Jews lived on manna for forty years ; by others that
they lived upon it for only a short time. As a
matter of fact the accounts differ, and this difference
is the opportunity for commentators. It also allows
us to exercise faith in believing that both accounts
2l6 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
are true. If the accounts agreed, and were reasona
ble, they would be believed by the wicked and
unregenerated. But as they are different and
unreasonable, they are believed only by the good.
Whenever a statement in the bible is unreasonable,
and you believe it, you are considered quite a good
Christian. If the statement is grossly absurd and
infinitely impossible, and you still believe it, you are
The children of Israel were in the desert, and
they were out of water. They had nothing to eat
but manna, and this they had had so long that the
soul of every person abhorred it. Under these
circumstances they complained to Moses. Now, as
God is infinite, he could just as well have furnished
them with an abundance of the purest and coolest of
water, and could, without the slightest trouble to
himself, have given them three excellent meals a
day, with a generous variety of meats and vegetables,
it is very hard to see why he did not do so. It is
still harder to conceive why he fell into a rage when
the people mildly suggested that they would like a
change of diet. Day after day, week after week,
month after month, year after year, nothing but
manna. No doubt they did the best they could by
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 217
cooking it in different ways, but in spite of them
selves they began to loathe its sight and taste, and
so they asked Moses to use his influence to secure a
change in the bill of fare.
Now, I ask, whether it was unreasonable for the
Jews to suggest that a little meat would be very
gratefully received? It seems, however, that as
soon as the request was made, this God of infinite
mercy became infinitely enraged, and instead of
granting it, went into partnership with serpents, for
the purpose of punishing the hungry wretches to
whom he had promised a land flowing with milk
Where did these serpents come from ? How did
God convey the information to the serpents, that he
wished them to go to the desert of Sinai and bite
some Jews ? It may be urged that these serpents
were created for the express purpose of punishing
the children of Israel for having had the presumption,
like Oliver Twist, to ask for more.
There is another account in the eleventh chapter
of Numbers, of the people murmuring because of their
food. They remembered the fish, the cucumbers,
the melons, the leeks, the onions and the garlic of
Egypt, and they asked for meat. The people went
2l8 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
to the tent of Moses and asked him for flesh. Moses
cried unto the Lord and asked him why he did not
take care of the multitude. God thereupon agreed
that they should have meat, not for a day or two,
but for a month, until the meat should come out of
their nostrils and become loathsome to them. He
then caused a wind to bring quails from beyond the
sea, and cast them into the camp, on every side of
the camp around about for the space of a days
journey. And the people gathered them, and while
the flesh was yet between their teeth the wrath of
God being provoked against them, struck them with
an exceeding great plague. Serpents, also, were
sent among them, and thousands perished for the
crime of having been hungry.
The Rev. Alexander Cruden commenting upon
this account says :
" God caused a wind to rise that drove the quails
within and about the camp of the Israelites ; and it
is in this that the miracle consists, that they were
brought so seasonably to this place, and in so great
numbers as to suffice above a million of persons
above a month. Some authors affirm, that in those
eastern and southern countries, quails are innumer
able, so that in one part of Italy within the compass
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
of five miles, there were taken about an hundred
thousand of them every day for a month together ;
and that sometimes they fly so thick over the sea,
that being weary they fall into ships, sometimes in
such numbers, that they sink them with their
No wonder Mr. Cruden believed the Mosaic
Must we believe that God made an arrangement
with hornets for the purpose of securing their services
in driving the Canaanites from the land of promise ?
Is this belief necessary unto salvation ? Must we
believe that God said to the Jews that he would send
hornets before them to drive out the Canaanites, as
related in the twenty-third chapter of Exodus, and
the seventh chapter of Deuteronomy ? How would
the hornets know a Canaanite ? In what way would
God put it in the mind of a hornet to attack a
Canaanite ? Did God create hornets for that especial
purpose, implanting an instinct to attack a Canaanite,
but not a Hebrew ? Can we conceive of the
Almighty granting letters of marque and reprisal to
hornets ? Of course it is admitted that nothing in
the world would be better calculated to make a man
leave his native land than a few hornets. Is it
22O SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
possible for us to believe that an infinite being would
resort to such expedients in order to drive the
Canaanites from their country ? He could just as
easily have spoken the Canaanites out of existence
as to have spoken the hornets in. In this way a vast
amount of trouble, pain and suffering would have
been saved. Is it possible that there is, in this
country, an intelligent clergyman who will insist that
these stories are true ; that we must believe them in
in order to be good people in this world, and glori
fied souls in the next ?
We are also told that God instructed the Hebrews
to kill the Canaanites slowly, giving as a reason that
the beasts of the field might increase upon his chosen
people. When we take into consideration the fact
that the Holy Land contained only about eleven or
twelve thousand square miles, and was at that time
inhabited by at least twenty-one millions of people,
it does not seem reasonable that the wild beasts could
have been numerous enough to cause any great
alarm. The same ratio of population would give to
the State of Illinois at least one hundred and twenty
millions of inhabitants. Can anybody believe that,
under such circumstances, the danger from wild
beasts could be very great ? What would we think
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 221
of a general, invading such a state, if he should order
his soldiers to kill the people slowly, lest the wild
beasts might increase upon them ? Is it possible
that a God capable of doing the miracles recounted
in the Old Testament could not, in some way, have
disposed of the wild beasts ? After the Canaanites
were driven out, could he not have employed the
hornets to drive out the wild beasts ? Think of a
God that could drive twenty-one millions of people
out of the promised land, could raise up innumerable
stinging flies, and could cover the earth with fiery
serpents, and yet seems to have been perfectly
powerless against the wild beasts of the land of
Speaking of these hornets, one of the good old
commentators, whose views have long been con
sidered of great value by the believers in the
inspiration of the bible, uses the following language :
" Hornets are a sort of strong flies, which the Lord
used as instruments to plague the enemies of his
people. They are of themselves very troublesome
and mischievous, and those the Lord made use of
were, it is thought, of an extraordinary bigness and
perniciousness. It is said they live as the wasps,
and that they have a king or captain, and pestilent
222 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
stings as bees, and that, if twenty-seven of them
sting man or beast, it is certain death to either.
Nor is it strange that such creatures did drive out
the Canaanites from their habitations ; for many
heathen writers give instances of some people driven
from their seats by frogs, others by mice, others by
bees and wasps. And it is said that a Christian city,
being besieged by Sapores, king of Persia, was
delivered by hornets ; for the elephants and beasts
being stung by them, waxed unruly, and so the
whole army fled."
Only a few years ago, all such stories were
believed by the Christian world ; and it is a historical
fact, that Voltaire was the third man of any note in
Europe, who took the ground that the mythologies
of Greece and Rome were without foundation.
Until his time, most Christians believed as thoroughly
in the miracles ascribed to the Greek and Roman
gods as in those of Christ and Jehovah. The
Christian world cultivated credulity, not only as one
of the virtues, but as the greatest of them all. But,
when Luther and his followers left the church of
Rome, they were compelled to deny the power of
the catholic church, at that time, to suspend the
laws of nature, but took the ground that such power
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 223
ceased with the apostolic age. They insisted that
all things now happened in accordance with the laws
of nature, with the exception of a few special inter
ferences in favor of the protestant church in answer
to prayer. They taught their children a double
philosophy : by one, they -were to show the impossi
bility of catholic miracles, because opposed to the
laws of nature ; by the other, the probability of the
miracles of the apostolic age, because they were in
conformity with the statements of the scriptures.
They had two foundations : one, the law of nature,
and the other, the word of God. The protestants
have endeavored to carry on this double process of
reasoning, and the result has been a gradual increase
of confidence in the law of nature, and a gradual
decrease of confidence in the word of God.
We are told, in this inspired account, that the
clothing of the Jewish people did not wax old, and
that their shoes refused to wear out. Some
commentators have insisted that angels attended
to the wardrobes of the Hebrews, patched their
garments, and mended their shoes. Certain it is,
however, that the same clothes lasted them for forty
years, during the entire journey from Egypt to the
Holy Land. Little boys starting out with their first
224 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
pantaloons, grew as they traveled, and their clothes
grew with them.
Can it be necessary to believe a story like this ?
Will men make better husbands, fathers, neighbors,
and citizens, simply by giving credence to these
childish and impossible things ? Certainly an infinite
God could have transported the Jews to the Holy
Land in a moment, and could, as easily, have
removed the Canaanites to some other country.
Surely there was no necessity for doing thousands
and thousands of petty miracles, day after day for
forty years, looking after the clothes of three millions
of people, changing the nature of wool, and linen,
and leather, so that they would not "wax old."
Every step, every motion, would wear away some
part of the clothing, some part of the shoes. Were
these parts, so worn away, perpetually renewed, or
was the nature of things so changed that they could
not wear away? We know that whenever matter
comes in contact with matter, certain atoms, by
abrasion, are lost. Were these atoms gathered
up every night by angels, and replaced on the
soles of the shoes, on the elbows of coats, and
on the knees of pantaloons, so that the next
morning they would be precisely in the condi-
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 225
tion they were on the morning before ? There
must be a mistake somewhere.
Can we believe that the real God, if there is one,
ever ordered a man to be killed simply for making
hair oil, or ointment ? We are told in the thirtieth
chapter of Exodus, that the Lord commanded Moses
to take myrrh, cinnamon, sweet calamus, cassia, and
olive oil, and make a holy ointment for the purpose
of anointing the tabernacle, tables, candlesticks and
other utensils, as well as Aaron and his sons ; saying,
at the same time, that whosoever compounded any
like it, or whoever put any of it on a stranger, should
be put to death. In the same chapter, the Lord
furnishes Moses with a recipe for making a
perfume, saying, that whoever should make any
which smelled like it, should be cut off from his
people. This, to me, sounds so unreasonable that I
cannot believe it. Why should an infinite God care
whether mankind made ointments and perfumes like
his or not ? Why should the Creator of all things
threaten to kill a priest who approached his altar
without having washed his hands and feet ? These
commandments and these penalties would disgrace
the vainest tyrant that ever sat, by chance, upon a
throne. There must be some mistake. I cannot
226 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
believe that an infinite Intelligence appeared to
Moses upon Mount Sinai having with him a variety
of patterns for making a tabernacle, tongs, snuffers
and dishes. Neither can I believe that God told
Moses how to cut and trim a coat for a priest. Why
should a God care about such things ? Why should
he insist on having buttons sewed in certain rows,
and fringes of a certain color ? Suppose an intelli
gent civilized man was to overhear, on Mount Sinai,
the following instructions from God to Moses :
" You must consecrate my priests as follows :
You must kill a bullock for a sin offering, and
have Aaron and his sons lay their hands upon the
head of the bullock. Then you must take the blood
and put it upon the horns of the altar round about
with your finger, and pour some blood at the bottom
of the altar to make a reconciliation ; and of the fat
that is upon the inwards, the caul above the liver
and two kidneys, and their fat, and burn them upon
the altar. You must get a ram for a burnt offering,
and Aaron and his sons must lay their hands upon
the head of the ram. Then you must kill it and
sprinkle the blood upon the altar, and cut the ram
into pieces, and burn the head, and the pieces, and
the fat, and wash the inwards and the lungs in water
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 227
and then burn the whole ram upon the altar for a
sweet savor unto me. Then you must get another
ram, and have Aaron and his sons lay their hands
upon the head of that, then kill it and take of its
blood, and put it on the top of Aaron s right ear,
and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the great
toe of his right foot. And you must also put a little
of the blood upon the top of the right ears of Aaron s
sons, and on the thumbs of their right hands and on
the great toes of their right feet. And then you
must take of the fat that is on the inwards, and the
caul above the liver and the two kidneys, and their
fat, and the right shoulder, and out of a basket of
unleavened bread you must take one unleavened
cake and another of oil bread, and one wafer, and
put them on the fat of the right shoulder. And you
must take of the anointing oil, and of the blood, and
sprinkle it on Aaron, and on his garments, and on
his sons garments, and sanctify them and all their
clothes." Do you believe that he would have even
suspected that the creator of the universe was
Can any one now tell why God commanded the
Jews, when they were upon the desert of Sinai, to
plant trees, telling them at the same time that they
228 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
must not eat any of the fruit of sucn trees until after
the fourth year ? Trees could not have been planted
in that desert, and if they had been, they could not
have lived. Why did God tell Moses, while in the
desert, to make curtains of fine linen ? Where could
he have obtained his flax ? There was no land upon
which it could have been produced. "Why did he
tell him to make things of gold, and silver, and
precious stones, when they could not have been in
possession of these things ? There is but one
answer, and that is, the Pentateuch was written
hundreds of years after the Jews had settled in the
Holy Land, and hundreds of years after Moses was
dust and ashes.
When the Jews had a written language, and that
must have been long after their flight from Egypt,
they wrote out their history and their laws. Tradi
tion had filled the infancy of the nation with miracles
and special interpositions in their behalf by Jehovah.
Patriotism would not allow these wonders to grow
small, and priestcraft never denied a miracle. There
were traditions to the effect that God had spoken
face to face with Moses ; that he had given him the
tables of the law, and had, in a thousand ways, made
known his will ; and whenever the priests wished to
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 229
make new laws, or amend old ones, they pretended
to have found something more that God said to
Moses at Sinai. In this way obedience was more
easily secured. Only a very few of the people could
read, and, as a consequence, additions, interpolations
and erasures had no fear of detection. In this way
we account for the fact that Moses is made to speak
of things that did not exist in his day, and were
unknown for hundreds of years after his death.
In the thirtieth chapter of Exodus, we are told
that the people, when numbered, must give each one
a half shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary. At
that time no such money existed, and consequently
the account could not, by any possibility, have been
written until after there was a shekel of the sanctuary,
and there was no such thing until long after the
death of Moses. If we should read that Caesar paid
his troops in pounds, shillings and pence, we would
certainly know that the account was not written by
Caesar, nor in his time, but we would know that it
was written after the English had given these names
to certain coins.
So, we find, that when the Jews were upon the
desert it was commanded that every mother should
bring, as a sin offering, a couple of doves to the
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
priests, and the priests were compelled to eat these
doves in the most holy place. At the time this law
appears to have been given, there were three million
people, and only three priests, Aaron, Eleazer and
Ithamar. Among three million people there would
be, at least, three hundred births a day. Certainly
we are not expected to believe that these three
priests devoured six hundred pigeons every twenty-
Why should a woman ask pardon of God for
having been a mother ? Why should that be con
sidered a crime in Exodus, which is commanded as a
duty in Genesis ? Why should a mother be declared
unclean ? Why should giving birth to a daughter
be regarded twice as criminal as giving birth to a
son ? Can we believe that such laws and ceremonies
were made and instituted by a merciful and intelligent
God ? If there is anything in this poor world sug
gestive of, and standing for, all that is sweet, loving
and pure, it is a mother holding in her thrilled and
happy arms her prattling babe. Read the twelfth
chapter of Leviticus, and you will see that when a
woman became the mother of a boy she was so
unclean that she was not allowed to touch a hallowed
thing, nor to enter the sanctuary for forty days. If
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 23!
the babe was a girl, then the mother was unfit for
eighty days, to enter the house of God, or to touch
the sacred tongs and snuffers. These laws, born of
barbarism, are unworthy of our day, and should be
regarded simply as the mistakes of savages.
Just as low in the scale of intelligence are the
directions given in the fifth chapter of Numbers, for
the trial of a wife of whom the husband was jealous.
This foolish chapter has been the foundation of all
appeals to God for the ascertainment of facts, such as
the corsned, trial by battle, by water, and by fire, the
last of which is our judicial oath. It is very easy to
believe that in those days a guilty woman would be
afraid to drink the water of jealousy and take the
oath, and that, through fear, she might be made to
confess. Admitting that the deception tended not
only to prevent crime, but to discover it when
committed, still, we cannot admit that an honest
god would, for any purpose, resort to dishonest
means. In all countries fear is employed as a means
of p-ettino- at the truth, and in this there is nothing
dishonest, provided falsehood is not resorted to for
the purpose of producing the fear. Protestants laugh
at catholics because of their belief in the efficacy of
holy water, and yet they teach their children that a
232 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
little holy water, in which had been thrown some
dust from the floor of the sanctuary, would work a
miracle in a woman s flesh. For hundreds of years
our fathers believed that a perjurer could not swallow
a piece of sacramental bread. Such stories belong
to the childhood of our race, and are now believed
only by mental infants and intellectual babes.
I cannot believe that Moses had in his hands a
couple of tables of stone, upon which God had
written the ten commandments, and that when he
saw the golden calf, and the dancing, that he dashed
the tables to the earth and broke them in pieces.
Neither do I believe that Moses took a golden calf,
burnt it, ground it to powder, and made the people
drink it with water, as related in the thirty-second
chapter of Exodus.
There is another account of the giving of the ten
commandments to Moses, in the nineteenth and
twentieth chapters of Exodus. In this account not
one word is said about the people having made a
golden calf, nor about the breaking of the tables of
stone. In the thirty-fourth chapter of Exodus, there
is an account of the renewal of the broken tables of
the law, and the commandments are given, but they
are not the same commandments mentioned in the
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 233
twentieth chapter. There are two accounts of the
same transaction. Both of these stones cannot be
true, and yet both must be believed. Any one who
will take the trouble to read the nineteenth and
twentieth chapters, and the last verse of the thirty-
first chapter, the thirty-second, thirty-third, and
thirty-fourth chapters of Exodus, will be compelled
to admit that both accounts cannot be true.
From the last account it appears that while Moses
was upon Mount Sinai receiving the commandments
from God, the people brought their jewelry to Aaron,
and he cast for them a golden calf. This happened
before any commandment against idolatry had been
given. A god ought, certainly, to publish his laws
before inflicting penalties for their violation. To
inflict punishment for breaking unknown and un
published laws is, in the last degree, cruel and
unjust. It may be replied that the Jews knew better
than to worship idols, before the law was given. If
this is so, why should the law have been given ? In
all civilized countries, laws are made and pro
mulgated, not simply for the purpose of informing
the people as to what is right and wrong, but to
inform them of the penalties to be visited upon those
who violate the laws. When the ten command-
234 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
ments were given, no penalties were attached. Not
one word was written on the tables of stone as to the
punishments that would be inflicted for breaking any
or all of the inspired laws. The people should not
have been punished for violating a commandment
before it was given. And yet, in this case, Moses
commanded the sons of Levi to take their swords
and slay every man his brother, his companion, and
his neighbor. The brutal order was obeyed, and
three thousand men were butchered. The Levites
consecrated themselves unto the Lord by murdering
their sons, and their brothers, for having violated a
commandment before it had been given.
It has been contended for many years that the
ten commandments are the foundation of all ideas of
justice and of law. Eminent jurists have bowed to
popular prejudice, and deformed their works by
statements to the effect that the Mosaic laws are the
fountains from which sprang all ideas of right and
wrong. Nothing can be more stupidly false than
such assertions. Thousands of years before Moses
was born, the Egyptians had a code of laws. They
had laws against blasphemy, murder, adultery,
larceny, perjury, laws for the collection of debts, the
enforcement of contracts, the ascertainment of
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 235
> . ^
damages, the redemption of property pawned, and
upon nearly every subject of human interest. The
Egyptian code was far better than the Mosaic.
Laws spring from the instinct of self-preservation.
Industry objected to supporting idleness, and laws
were made against theft. Laws were made against
murder, because a very large majority of the people
have always objected to being murdered. All
fundamental laws were born simply of the instinct of
self-defence. Long before the Jewish savages
assembled at the foot of Sinai, laws had been made
and enforced, not only in Egypt and India, but by
every tribe that ever existed.
It is impossible for human beings to exist
together, without certain rules of conduct, certain
ideas of the proper and improper, of the right and
wrong, growing out of the relation. Certain rules
must be made, and must be enforced. This implies
law, trial and punishment. Whoever produces
anything by weary labor, does not need a revelation
from heaven to teach him that he has a right to the
thing produced. Not one of the learned gentlemen
who pretend that the Mosaic laws are filled with
justice and intelligence, would live, for a moment,
in any country where such laws were in force.
236 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
Nothing can be more wonderful than the medical
ideas of Jehovah. He had the strangest notions
about the cause and cure of disease. With him
everything was miracle and wonder. In the four
teenth chapter of Leviticus, we find the law for
cleansing a leper : " Then shall the priest take for
him that is to be cleansed, two birds, alive and clean,
and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop. And the
priest shall command that one of the birds be killed
in an earthen vessel, over running water. As for
the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood,
and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them,
and the living bird, in the blood of the bird that was
killed over the running water. And he shall
sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the
leprosy, seven times, and shall pronounce him clean,
and shall let the living bird loose into the open
We are told that God himself gave these direc
tions to Moses. Does anybody believe this ? Why
should the bird be killed in an earthen vessel ?
Would the charm be broken if the vessel was of
wood ? Why over winning water ? What would
be thought of a physician now, who would give a
prescription like that ?
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 237
Is it not strange that God, although he gave
hundreds of directions for the purpose of discovering
the presence of leprosy, and for cleansing the leper
after he was healed, forgot to tell how that disease
could be cured ? Is it not wonderful that while God
told his people what animals were fit for food, he
failed to give a list of plants that man might eat ?
Why did he leave his children to find out the hurtful
and the poisonous by experiment, knowing that ex
periment, in millions of cases, must be death ?
When reading the history of the Jewish people,
of their flight from slavery to death, of their exchange
of tyrants, I must confess that my sympathies are all
aroused in their behalf. They were cheated, de
ceived and abused. Their god was quick-tempered
unreasonable, cruel, revengeful and dishonest. He
was always promising but never performed. He
wasted time in ceremony and childish detail, and in
the exaggeration of what he had done. It is impos
sible for me to conceive of a character more utterly
detestable than that of the Hebrew god. He had
solemnly promised the Jews that he would take them
from Egypt to a land flowing with milk and honey.
He had led them to believe that in a little while their
troubles would be over, and that they would soon
238 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
in the land of Canaan, surrounded by their wives and
little ones, forget the stripes and tears of Egypt.
After promising the poor wanderers again and again
that he would lead them in safety to the promised
land of joy and plenty, this God, forgetting every
promise, said to the wretches in his power : " Your
carcasses shall fall in this wilderness and your children
shall wander until your carcasses.be wasted." This
curse was the conclusion of the whole matter. Into
this dust of death and night faded all the promises
of God. Into this rottenness of wandering despair
fell all the dreams of liberty and home. Millions
of corpses were left to rot in the desert, and
each one certified to the dishonesty of Jehovah. I
cannot believe these things. They are so cruel and
heartless, that my blood is chilled and my sense of
justice shocked. A book that is equally abhorrent
to my head and heart, cannot be accepted as a rev
elation from God.
When we think of the poor Jews, destroyed,
murdered, bitten by serpents, visited by plagues,
decimated by famine, butchered by each other,
swallowed by the earth, frightened, cursed, starved,
deceived, robbed and outraged, how thankful we
should be that we are not the chosen people of
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 239
God. No wonder that they longed for the slavery
of Egypt, and remembered with sorrow the unhappy
day when they exchanged masters. Compared with
Jehovah, Pharaoh was a benefactor, and the tyranny
of Egypt was freedom to those who suffered the
liberty of God.
While reading the Pentateuch, I am filled with
indignation, pity and horror. Nothing can be
sadder than the history of the starved and frightened
wretches who wandered over the desolate crags and
sands of wilderness and desert, the prey of famine,
sword, and plague. Ignorant and superstitious to
the last degree, governed by falsehood, plundered by
hypocrisy, they were the sport of priests, and the
food of fear. God was their greatest enemy, and
death their only friend.
It is impossible to conceive of a more thoroughly
despicable, hateful, and arrogant being, than the
Jewish god. He is without a redeeming feature.
In the mythology of the world he has no parallel.
He, only, is never touched by agony and tears. He
delights only in blood and pain. Human affections
are naught to him. He cares neither for love nor
music, beauty nor joy. A false friend, an unjust
judge, a braggart, hypocrite, and tyrant, sincere in
2AO SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
hatred, jealous, vain, cuid revengeful, false in promise,
honest in curse, suspicious, ignorant, and changeable,
infamous and hideous : such is the God of the
CONFESS AND AVOID.
E scientific christians now admit that the bible
J_ is not inspired in its astronomy, geology,
botany, zoology, nor in any science. In other words,
they admit that on these subjects, the bible cannot
be depended upon. If all the statements in the
scriptures were true, there would be no necessity for
admitting that some of them are not inspired. A
Christian will not admit that a passage in the bible is
uninspired, until he is satisfied that it is untrue.
Orthodoxy itself has at last been compelled to say,
that while a passage may be true and uninspired, it
cannot be inspired if false.
If the people of Europe had known as much of
astronomy and geology when the bible was intro
duced among them, as they do now, there never
could have been one believer in the doctrine of
inspiration. If the writers of the various parts of
the bible had known as much about the sciences as
242 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
is now known by every intelligent man, the book
never could have been written. It was produced by
ignorance, and has been believed and defended by
its author. It has lost power in the proportion that
man has gained knowledge. A few years ago, this
book was appealed to in the settlement of all scientific
questions ; but now, even the clergy confess that in
such matters, it has ceased to speak with the voice
of authority. For the establishment of facts, the
word of man is now considered far better than the
word of God. In the world of science, Jehovah was
superseded by Copernicus/ Galileo, and Kepler.
All that God told Moses, admitting the entire
account to be true, is dust and ashes compared
to the discoveries of Des Cartes, La Place, and
Humboldt. In matters of fact, the bible has ceased
to be regarded as a standard. Science has succeeded
in breaking the chains of theology. A few years
ago, Science endeavored to show that it was not
inconsistent with the bible. The tables have been
turned, and now, Religion is endeavoring to prove
that the bible is not inconsistent with Science. The
standard has been changed.
For many ages, the Christians contended that the
bible, viewed simply as a literary performance, was
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 243
beyond all other books, and that man without the
assistance of God could not produce its equal. This
claim was made when but few books existed, and
the bible, being the only book generally known, had
no rival. But this claim, like the other, has been
abandoned by many, and soon will be, by all. Com
pared with Shakespeare s " book and volume of the
brain," the " sacred " bible shrinks and seems as
feebly impotent and vain, as would a pipe of Pan,
when some great organ, voiced with every tone,
from the hoarse thunder of the sea to the winged
warble of a mated bird, floods and fills cathedral
aisles with all the wealth of sound.
It is now maintained and this appears to be the
last fortification behind which the doctrine of inspi
ration skulks and crouches that the bible, although
false and mistaken in its astronomy, geology, geog
raphy, history and philosophy, is inspired in its
morality. It is now claimed that had it not been for
this book, the world would have been inhabited only
by savages, and that had it not been for the holy
scriptures, man never would have even dreamed of
the unity of God. A belief in one God is claimed to
be a dogma of almost infinite importance, that with
out this belief civilization is impossible, and that this
244 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
fact is the sun around which all the virtues revolve.
For my part, I think it infinitely more important
to believe in man. Theology is a superstition
Humanity a religion.
PERHAPS the bible was inspired upon the subject
of human slavery. Is there, in the civilized
world, to day, a clergyman who believes in the
divinity of slavery ? Does the bible teach man to
enslave his brother ? If it does, is it not blasphe
mous to say that it is inspired of God ? If you find
the institution of slavery upheld in a book said to
have been written by God, what would you expect
to find in a book inspired by the devil ? Would you
expect to find that book in favor of liberty ? Modern
Christians, ashamed of the God of the Old Testament,
endeavor now to show that slavery was neither
commanded nor opposed by Jehovah. Nothing can
be plainer than the following passages from the
twenty-fifth chapter of Leviticus. " Moreover of the
children of the strangers that do sojourn among you,
of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are
with you, which they begat in your land : and they
246 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
shall be your possession. And ye shall take them
as an inheritance for your children after you, to
inherit them for a possession, they shall be your
bond-men forever. Both thy bond-men, and thy
bond-maids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the
heathen that are round about you ; of them shall ye
buy bond-men, and bond-maids."
Can we believe in this, the Nineteenth Century,
that these infamous passages were inspired by God ?
that God approved not only of human slavery, but
instructed his chosen people to buy the women,
children and babes of the heathen round about them ?
If it was right for the Hebrews to buy, it was also
right for the heathen to sell. This God, by com
manding the Hebrews to buy, approved of the selling
of sons and daughters. The Canaanite who, tempted
by gold, lured by avarice, sold from the arms of his
wife the dimpled babe, simply made it possible for
the Hebrews to obey the orders of their God. If
God is the author of the bible, the reading of these
passages ought to cover his cheeks with shame. I
ask the Christian world to-day, was it right for the
heathen to sell their children ? Was it right for
God not only to uphold, but to command the in
famous traffic in human flesh ? Could the most
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 247
revengeful fiend, the most malicious vagrant in the
gloom of hell, sink to a lower moral depth than
According to this God, his chosen people were
not only commanded to buy of the heathen round
about them, but were also permitted to buy each
other for a term of years. The law governing the
purchase of Jews is laid down in the twenty-first
chapter of Exodus. " If thou buy a Hebrew servant,
six years shall he serve : and in the seventh he shall
go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself,
he shall go out by himself : if he were married, then
his wife shall go out with him. If his master have
given him a wife, and she have borne him sons or
daughters, the wife and her children shall be her
master s, and he shall go out by himself. And if the
servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife,
and my children ; I will not go out free : Then his
master shall bring him unto the judges ; he shall
also bring him to the door, or unto the door-post :
and his master shall bore his ear through with an
awl : and he shall serve him forever."
Do you believe that God was the author of this
infamous law ? Do you believe that the loving
father of us all, turned the dimpled arms of babes
248 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
into manacles of iron ? Do you believe that he
baited the dungeon of servitude with wife and child ?
Is it possible to love a God who would make such
laws ? Is it possible not to hate and despise him ?
The heathen are not spoken of as human beings.
Their rights are never mentioned. They were the
rightful food of the sword, and their bodies were
made for stripes and chains.
In the same chapter of the same inspired book,
we are told that, " if a man smite his servant, or his
maid, with a rod, and he dies under his hand, he
shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he
continue a day or two, he shall not be punished, for
he is his money."
Must we believe that God called some of his
children the money of others ? Can we believe that
God made lashes upon the naked back, a legal
tender for labor performed? Must we regard the
auction block as an altar? Were blood hounds
apostles ? Was the slave-pen a temple ? Were the
stealers and wrappers of babes and women the
justified children of God ?
It is now contended that while the Old Testa
ment is touched with the barbarism of its time, that
the New Testament is morally perfect, and that on
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 249
its pages can be found no blot or stain. As a matter
of fact, the New Testament is more decidedly in
favor of human slavery than the old.
For my part, I never will, I never can, worship a
God who upholds the institution of slavery. Such a
God I hate and defy. I neither want his heaven,
nor fear his hell.
Is there an orthodox clergyman in the world, who
will now declare that he believes the institution
of polygamy to be right ? Is there one who will
publicly declare that, in his judgment, that institution
ever was right ? Was there ever a time in the
history of the world when it was right to treat woman
simply as property? Do not attempt to answer
these questions by saying, that the bible is an
exceedingly good book, that we are indebted for our
civilization to the sacred volume, and that without it,
man would lapse into savagery, and mental night.
This is no answer. Was there a time when the
institution of polygamy was the highest expression
of human virtue ? Is there a Christian woman,
civilized, intelligent, and free, who believes in the
institution of polygamy ? Are we better, purer, and
more intelligent than God was four thousand years
ago ? Why should we imprison Mormons, and
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 25 1
worship God ? Polygamy is just as pure in Utah,
as it could have been in the promised land. Love
and Virtue are the same the whole world round, and
Justice is the same in every star. All the languages
of the world are not sufficient to express the filth of
polygamy. It makes of man, a beast, of woman, a
trembling slave. It destroys the fireside, makes
virtue an outcast, takes from human speech its
sweetest words, and leaves the heart a den, where
crawl and hiss the slimy serpents of most loathsome
lust. Civilization rests upon the family. The good
family is the unit of good government. The virtues
grow about the holy hearth of home they cluster,
bloom, and shed their perfume round the fireside
where the one man loves the one woman. Lover-
husband wife mother father child home !
without these sacred words, the world is but a lair,
and men and women merely beasts.
Why should the innocent maiden and the loving
mother worship the heartless Jewish God ? Why
should they, with pure and stainless lips, read the
vile record of inspired lust ?
The marriage of the one man to the one
woman is the citadel and fortress of civilization.
Without this, woman becomes the prey and slave of
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
lust and power, and man goes back to savagery and
crime. From the bottom of my heart I hate, abhor
and execrate all theories of life, of which the pure
and sacred home is not the corner-stone. Take
from the world the family, the fireside, the children
born of wedded love, and there is nothing left.
The home where virtue dwells with love is like a
lily with a heart of fire the fairest flower in all the
IF the bible be true, God commanded his chosen
people to destroy men simply for the crime of
defending their native land. They were not allowed
to spare trembling and white-haired age, nor dimpled
babes clasped in the mothers arms. They were
ordered to kill women, and to pierce, with the sword
of war, the unborn child. "Our heavenly Father"
commanded the Hebrews to kill the men and women,
the fathers, sons and brothers, but to preserve the
girls alive. Why were not the maidens also killed ?
Why were they spared ? Read the thirty-first
chapter of Numbers, and you will find that the
maidens were given to the soldiers and the priests.
Is there, in all the history of war, a more infamous
thing than this ? Is it possible that God permitted
the violets of modesty, that grow and shed their
perfume in the maiden s heart, to be trampled
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
beneath the brutal fe,et of lust? If this was the
order of God, what, under the same circumstances,
would have been the command of a devil ? When,
in this age of the world, a woman, a wife, a mother,
reads this record, she should, with scorn and loathing,
throw the book away. A general, who now should
make such an order, giving over to massacre and
rapine a conquered people, would be held in execra
tion by the whole civilized world. Yet, if the bible
be true, the supreme and infinite God was once a
A little while ago, out upon the western plains,
in a little path leading to a cabin, were found the
bodies of two children and their mother. Her breast
was filled with wounds received in the defence of
her darlings. They had been murdered by the
savages. Suppose when looking at their lifeless
forms, some one had said, " This was done by the
command of God ! " In Canaan there were countless
scenes like this. There was no pity in inspired war.
God raised the black flag, and commanded his
soldiers to kill even the smiling infant in its mother s
arms. Who is the blasphemer ; the man who denies
the existence of God, or he who covers the robes of
the Infinite with innocent blood ?
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 255
We are told in the Pentateuch, that God, the
father of us all, gave thousands of maidens, after
having killed their fathers, their mothers, and their
brothers, to satisfy the brutal lusts of savage men.
If there be a God, I pray him to write in his book,
opposite my name, that I denied this lie for him.
-INSPIRED" RELIGIOUS LIBERTY.
AXORDING to the bible, God selected the Jewish
people through whom to make known the
great fact, that he was the only true and living God.
For this purpose, he appeared on several occasions
to Moses came down to Sinai s top clothed in
cloud and fire, and wrought a thousand miracles for
the preservation and education of the Jewish people.
In their presence he opened the waters of the sea.
For them he caused bread to rain from heaven. To
quench their thirst, water leaped from the dry and
barren rock. Their enemies were miraculously
destroyed ; and for forty years, at least, this God
took upon himself the government of the Jews.
But, after all this, many of the people had less
confidence in him than in gods of wood and stone.
In moments of trouble, in periods of disaster, in the
darkness of doubt, in the hunger and thirst of famine,
instead of asking this God for aid, they turned and
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
sought the help of senseless things. This God, with
all his power and wisdom, could not even convince
a few wandering and wretched savages that he was
more potent than the idols of Egypt. This God was
not willing that the Jews should think and investigate
for themselves. For heresy, the penalty was death.
Where this God reigned, intellectual liberty was
unknown. He appealed only to brute force ; he
collected taxes by threatening plagues ; he demanded
worship on pain of sword and fire ; acting as spy,
inquisitor, judge and executioner.
In the thirteenth chapter of Deuteronomy, we
have the ideas of God as to mental freedom. " If
thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or the
wife of thy bosom, or thy friend which is as thine
own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and
serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou
nor thy fathers ; namely of the gods of the people
which are around about you, nigh unto thee, or far
off from thee, from the one end of the earth even
unto the other end of the earth, Thou shalt not con
sent unto him, nor hearken unto him, neither shall
thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare him,
neither shalt thou conceal him. But thou shalt
surely kill him ; thine hand shall be first upon him
258 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the
people. And thou shalt stone him with stones that
This is the religious liberty of God ; the tolera
tion of Jehovah. If I had lived in Palestine at that
time, and my wife, the mother of .my children, had
said to me, li I am tired of Jehovah, he is always
asking for blood ; he is never weary of killing ; he
is always telling of his might and strength ; always
telling what he has done for the Jews, always asking
for sacrifices ; for doves and lambs blood, nothing
but blood. Let us worship the sun. Jehovah is too
revengeful, too malignant, too exacting. Let us
worship the sun. The sun has clothed the world in
beauty ; it has covered the earth with flowers ; by
its divine light I first saw your face, and my beautiful
babe." If I had obeyed the command of God, I
would have killed her. My hand would have been
first upon her, and after that the hands of all the
people, and she would have been stoned with stones
until she died. For my part, I would never kill my
wife, even if commanded so to do by the real God
of this universe. Think of taking up some ragged
rock and hurling it against the white bosom filled
with love for you ; and when you saw oozing from
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 269
the bruised lips of the death wound, the red current
of her sweet life think of looking up to heaven and
receiving the congratulations of the infinite fiend
whose commandment you had obeyed !
Can we believe that any such command was ever
given by a merciful and intelligent God ? Suppose,
however, that God did give this law to the Jews,
and did tell them that whenever a man preached a
heresy, or proposed to worship any other god that
they should kill him ; and suppose that afterward
this same God took upon himself flesh, and came to
this very chosen people and taught a different
religion, and that thereupon the Jews crucified him ;
I ask you, did he not reap exactly what he had sown ?
What right would this God have to complain of a
crucifixion suffered in accordance with his own
Nothing can be more infamous than intellectual
tyranny. To put chains upon the body is as nothing
compared with putting shackles on the brain. No
god is entitled to the worship or the respect of man
who does not give, even to the meanest of his
children, every right that he claims for himself.
If the Pentateuch be true, religious persecution is
a duty. The dungeons of the Inquisition were
26O SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
temples, and the clank of every chain upon the
limbs of heresy was music in the ear of God. If
the Pentateuch was inspired, every heretic should
be destroyed ; and every man who advocates a fact
inconsistent with the sacred book, should be con
sumed by sword and flame.
In the Old Testament no one is told to reason
with a heretic, and not one word is said about
relying upon argument, upon education, nor upon
intellectual development nothing except simple
brute force. Is there to-day a Christian who will say
that four thousand years ago, it was the duty of a
husband to kill his wife if she differed with him upon
the subject of religion ? Is there one who will now
say that, under such circumstances, the wife ought to
have been killed ? Why should God be so jealous
of the wooden idols of the heathen ? Could he not
compete with Baal ? Was he envious of the success
of the Egyptian magicians ? Was it not possible for
him to make such a convincing display of his power
as to silence forever the voice of unbelief? Did this
God have to resort to force to make converts ?
Was he so ignorant of the structure of the human
mind as to believe all honest doubt a crime ? If he
wished to do away with the idolatry of the Canaan-
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 26 1
ites, why did he not appear to them ? Why did he
not give them the tables of the law ? Why did he
only make known his will to a few wandering
savages in the desert of Sinai ? Will some theo
logian have the kindness to answer these questions ?
Will some minister, who now believes in religious
liberty, and eloquently denounces the intolerance of
Catholicism, explain these things ; will he tell us why
he worships an intolerant God ? Is a god who will
burn a soul forever in another world, better than a
Christian who burns the body for a few hours in this ?
Is there no intellectual liberty in heaven ? Do the
angels all discuss questions on the same side ? Are
all the investigators in perdition ? Will the penitent
thief, winged and crowned, laugh at the honest folks
in hell ? Will the agony of the damned increase or
decrease the happiness of God ? Will there be, in
the universe, an eternal auto dafe ?
IF the Pentateuch is not inspired in its astronomy,
geology, geography, history or philosophy, if it
is not inspired concerning slavery, polygamy, war,
law, religious or political liberty, or the rights of men,
women and children, what is it inspired in, or about ?
The unity of God ? that was believed long before
Moses was born. Special providence ? that has
been the doctrine of ignorance in all ages. The
rights of property ? theft was always a crime. The
sacrifice of animals ? that was a custom thousands
of years before a Jew existed. The sacredness of
life ? there have always been laws against murder.
The wickedness of perjury ? truthfulness has always
been a virtue. The beauty of chastity ? the Pen
tateuch does not teach it. Thou shalt worship no
other God ? that has been the burden of all re
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 263
Is it possible that the Pentateuch could not have
been written by uninspired men ? that the assistance
of God was necessary to produce these books ? Is
it possible that Galileo ascertained the mechanical
principles of " Virtual Velocity," the laws of falling
bodies and of all motion ; that Copernicus ascertained
the true position of the earth and accounted for all
celestial phenomena ; that Kepler discovered his
three laws discoveries of such importance that the
8th of May, 1618, may be called the birth-day of
modern science ; that Newton gave to the world
the Method of Fluxions, the Theory of Universal
Gravitation, and the Decomposition of Light ; that
Euclid, Cavalieri, Des Cartes, and Leibnitz, almost
completed the science of mathematics ; that all the
discoveries in optics, hydrostatics, pneumatics and
chemistry, the experiments, discoveries, and inven
tions of Galvani, Volta, Franklin and Morse, of
Trevethick, Watt and Fulton and of all the pioneers
of progress that all this was accomplished by
uninspired men, while the writer of the Pentateuch
was directed and inspired by an infinite God ? Is it
possible that the codes of China, India, Egypt,
Greece and Rome were made by man, and that the
laws recorded in the Pentateuch were alone given by
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
God ? Is it possible that ^Eschylus and Shakespeare,
Burns, and Beranger, Goethe and Schiller, and all the
poets of the world, and all their wondrous tragedies
and songs,are but the work of men, while no intelli
gence except the infinite God could be the author
of the Pentateuch ? Is it possible that of all the
books that crowd the libraries of the world, the
books of science, fiction, history and song, that all
save only one, have been produced by man ? Is it
possible that of all these, the bible only is the work
If the Pentateuch is inspired, the civilization of
of our day is a mistake and crime. There should be
no political liberty. Heresy should be trodden out
beneath the bigot s brutal feet. Husbands should
divorce their wives at will, and make the mothers of
their children houseless and weeping wanderers.
Polygamy ought to be practiced ; women should be
come slaves ; we should buy the sons and daughters
of the heathen and make them bondmen and bond
women forever. We should sell our own flesh and
blood, and have the right to kill our slaves. Men
and women should be stoned to death for laboring
on the seventh day. " Mediums," such as have
familiar spirits, should be burned with fire. Every
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 265
vestige of mental liberty should be destroyed, and
reason s holy torch extinguished in the martyr s
Is it not far better and wiser to say that the
Pentateuch while containing some good laws, some
truths, some wise and useful things is, after all,
deformed and blackened by the savagery of its time ?
Is it not far better and wiser to take the good and
throw the bad away ?
Let us admit what we know to be true ; that
Moses was mistaken about a thousand things ; that
the story of creation is not true ; that the garden of
Eden is a myth ; that the serpent and the tree of
knowledge, and the fall of man are but fragments of
old mythologies lost and dead ; that woman was not
made out of a rib ; that serpents never had the
power of speech ; that the sons of God did not marry
the daughters of men ; that the story of the flood
and ark is not exactly true ; that the tower of Babel
is a mistake ; that the confusion of tongues is a
childish thing ; that the origin of the rainbow is a
foolish fancy ; that Methuselah did not live nine
hundred and sixty-nine years ; that Enoch did not
leave this world, taking with him his flesh and bones ;
that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is somewhat
266 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
improbable ; that burning- brimstone never fell like
rain ; that Lot s wife was not changed into chloride
of sodium ; that Jacob did not, in fact, put his hip
out of joint wrestling with God ; that the history of
Tamar might just as well have been left out ; that a
belief in Pharaoh s dreams is not essential to salva
tion ; that it makes but little difference whether the
rod of Aaron was .changed to a serpent or not ; that
of all the wonders said to have been performed in
Egypt, the greatest is, that anybody ever believed
the absurd account ; that God did not torment the
innocent cattle on account of the sins of their owners ;
that he did not kill the first born of the poor maid
behind the mill because of Pharaoh s crimes ; that
flies and frogs were not ministers of God s wrath ;
that lice and locusts were not the executors of his
will ; that seventy people did not, in two hundred
and fifteen years, increase to three million ; that
three priests could not eat six hundred pigeons in a
day ; that gazing at a brass serpent could not extract
poison from the blood ; that God did not go in
partnership with hornets ; that he did not murder
people simply because they asked for something to
eat ; that he did not declare the making of hair oil
and ointment an offence to be punished with death ;
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 267
that he did not miraculously preserve cloth and
leather ; that he was not afraid of wild beasts ; that
he did not punish heresy with sword and fire ; that
he was not jealous, revengeful, and unjust ; that he
knew all about the sun, moon, and stars ; that he
did not threaten to kill people for eating the fat of
an ox ; that he never told Aaron to draw cuts to see
which of two goats should be killed ; that he never
objected to clothes made of wollen mixed with linen ;
that if he objected to dwarfs, people with flat noses
and too many fingers, he ought not to have created
such folks ; that he did not demand human sacrifices
as set forth in the last chapter of Leviticus ; that he
did not object to the raising of horses ; that he never
commanded widows to spit in the faces of their
brothers-in-law ; that several contradictory accounts
of the same transaction cannot all be true ; that God
did not talk to Abraham as one man talks to another ;
that angels were not in the habit of walking about
the earth eating veal dressed with milk and butter,
and making bargains about the destruction of cities ;
that God never turned himself into a flame of fire,
and lived in a bush ; that he never met Moses in a
hotel and tried to kill him ; that it was absurd to
perform miracles to induce a king to act in a certain
268 SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
way and then harden his heart so that he would
refuse ; that God was not kept from killing the Jews
by the fear that the Egyptians would laugh at him ;
that he did not secretly bury a man and then allow
the corpse to write an account of the funeral ; that he
never believed the firmament to be solid ; that he
knew slavery was and always would be a frightful
crime ; that polygamy is but stench and filth ; that
the brave soldier will always spare an unarmed foe ;
that only cruel cowards slay the conquered and the
helpless ; that no language can describe the murderer
of a smiling babe ; that God did not want the blood
of doves and lambs ; that he did not love the smell of
burning flesh ; that he did not want his altars daubed
with blood ; that he did not pretend that the sins of
a people could be transferred to a goat ; that he did
not believe in witches, wizards, spooks, and devils ;
that he did not test the virtue of woman with dirty
water ; that he did not suppose that rabbits chewed
the cud ; that he never thought there were any four-
footed birds ; that he did not boast for several
hundred years that he had vanquished an Egyptian
king ; that a dry stick did not bud, blossom, and
bear almonds in one night ; that manna did not
shrink and swell, so that each man could gather only
SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 269
just one omer ; that it was never wrong to " coun
tenance the poor man in his cause ; " that God never
told a people not to live in peace with their neighbors ;
that he did not spend forty days with Moses on
Mount Sinai giving him patterns for making clothes,
tongs, basins, and snuffers ; that maternity is not a
sin ; that physical deformity is not a crime ; that
an atonement cannot be made for the soul by
shedding innocent blood ; that killing a dove over
running water will not make its blood a medicine ;
that a god who demands love knows nothing of
the human heart ; that one who frightens savages
with loud noises is unworthy the love of civilized
men ; that one who destroys children on account of
the sins of their fathers is a monster ; that an infinite
god never threatened to give people the itch ; that
he never sent wild beasts to devour babes ; that he
never ordered the violation of maidens ; that he
never regarded patriotism as a crime ; that he never
ordered the destruction of unborn children ; that he
never opened the earth and swallowed wives and
babes because husbands and fathers had displeased
him ; that he never demanded that men should kill
their sons and brothers, for the purpose of sanctifying
themselves ; that we cannot please God by believing
2/O SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES.
the improbable ; that credulity is not a virtue ; that
investigation is not a crime ; that every mind should
be free ; that all religious persecution is infamous in
God, as well as man ; that without liberty, virtue is
impossible ; that without freedom, even love cannot
exist ; that every man should be allowed to think
and to express his thoughts ; that woman is the
equal of man ; that children should be governed by
love and reason ; that the family relation is sacred ;
that war is a hideous crime ; that all intolerance is
born of ignorance and hate ; that the freedom of to
day is the hope of to-morrow ; that the enlightened
present ought not to fall upon its knees and blindly
worship the barbaric past ; and that every free, brave
and enlightened man should publicly declare that all
the ignorant, infamous, heartless, hideous things re
corded in the " inspired " Pentateuch are not the words
of God, but simply " Some Mistakes of Moses."
EBON C. INGERSOLL,
BY HIS BROTHER
DEC. 12, 1831. MAY 31, 1879.
A TRIBUTE TO EBON C. INGERSOLL,
By his Brother Robert.
THE RECORD OF A GENEROUS LIFE RUNS LIKE A VINE
AROUND THE MEMORY OF OUR DEAD, AND EVERY
SWEET, UNSELFISH ACT IS NOW A PERFUMED FLOWER.
DEAR FRIENDS : I am going to do that which
the dead oft promised he would do for me.
The loved and loving brother, husband, father,
friend, died where manhood s morning almost
touches noon, and while the shadows still were
falling toward the west.
He had not passed on life s highway the stone
that marks the highest point ; but, being weary for
a moment, he lay down by the wayside, and, using
his burden for a pillow, fell into that dreamless sleep
2/6 TRIBUTE TO EBON C. INGERSOLL.
that kisses down his eyelids still. While yet in love
with life and raptured with the world, he passed to
silence and pathetic dust.
Yet, after all, it may be best, just in the happiest,
sunniest hour of all the voyage, while eager winds
are kissing every sail, to dash against the unseen
rock, and in an instant hear the billows roar above
a sunken ship. For whether in mid sea or mong the
breakers of the farther shore, a wreck at last must
mark the end of each and all. And every life, no
matter if its every hour is rich with love and every
moment jeweled with a joy, will, at its close, become
a tragedy as sad and deep and dark as can be
woven of the warp and woof of mystery and death.
This brave and tender man in every storm of life
was oak and rock ; but in the sunshine he was vine
and flower. He was the friend of all heroic souls.
He climbed the heights, and left all superstitions far
below, while on his forehead fell the golden dawning
of the grander day.
He loved the beautiful, and was with color, form,
and music touched to tears. He sided with the
TRIBUTE TO EBON C. INGERSOLL. 277
weak, the poor, and wronged, and lovingly gave
alms. With loyal heart and with the purest hands
he faithfully discharged all public trusts.
He was a worshipper of liberty, a friend of the
oppressed. A thousand times I have heard him
quote these words : -For Justice all place a temple,
and all season, summer! He believed that happiness
was the only good, reason the only torch, justice the
only worship, humanity the only religion, and love
the only priest. He added to the sum of human joy ;
and were every one to whom he did some loving
service to bring a blossom to his grave, he would
sleep to-night beneath a wilderness of flowers.
Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren
peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look
beyond the heights. We cry aloud, and the only
answer is the echo of our wailing cry. From the
voiceless lips of the unreplying dead there comes no
word ; but in the night of death hope sees a star and
listening love can hear the rustle of a wine.
He who sleeps here, when dying, mistaking the
approach of death for the return of health, whispered
278 TRIBUTE TO EBON C. INGERSOLL.
with his latest breath, " I am better now." Let us
believe, in spite of doubts and dogmas, of fears and
tears, that these dear words are true of all the count
And now, to you, who have been chosen, from
among the many men he loved, to do the last sad
office for the dead, we give his sacred dust.
Speech cannot contain our love. There was,
there is, no gentler, stronger, manlier man.
INGERSOLL S LECTURES.
"THE GODS, AND OTHER LECTURES:"
ROBERT G. INGERSOLL.
CONTENTS. "THE GODS," "HUMBOLDT," "THOMAS PAINE," "INDIVIDU
ALITY," "HERETICS AND HERESIES." 12 H1O. 253 pp.
Price in cloth, $1.25 ; postage 9 cts. Paper, 50 cts. ; postage 5 cts.
"THE GHOSTS, AND OTHER LECTURES:"
ROBERT G. INGERSOLL.
CONTENTS. "THE GHOSTS," "LIBERTY OF MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD,"
"DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE," "FARMING IN ILLINOIS," " SPEECH
AT CINCINNATI," "A VISION OF WAR." 12 mo. 232pp.
Price in cloth, $1.23 ; postage 9 cts. Paper, 50 cts. ; postage j cts.
Vols. I and II, bound in one, paper covers, price $1.00 ; postage 10 cts.
" " " " morocco, gilt edges, price $5.00.
These books are elegantly bound and printed in clear, bold type, on heavy,
The author takes the ground that man belongs to himself, and that each
individual should at all hazards maintain his intellectual freedom.
These lectures have created the greatest sensation in the religious world
since the days of Voltaire. Hundreds of pamphlets have been published,
thousands of sermons have been preached, and numberless articles have been
written against them, with the effect of increasing their popularity every day.
They have excited the hatred of the orthodox and bigoted, and the admira
tion of the intelligent and generous ; they are denounced by all believers in
tyranny, in slavery, by the beaters of wives, the wrappers of children, the
believers in hell, the haters of progress, the despisers of reason, by all the
cringers, crawlers, defamers of the dead, and by all the hypocrites now living.
By a great many others, they are held in the highest esteem.
Address all orders to
C. P. FARRELL, Publisher and Bookseller,
WASHINGTON, D. C.
I keep constantly on hand the best and latest
American and English
AND WILL FILL ORDERS AT PUBLISHER S PRICES.
VOLNEYS RUINS. Price, $1.00. Postage 8 cents.
A book filled with learning, communicated in the most charming style.
VOLNEY S RESEARCHES IN ANCIENT HISTORY. Price,
$1.50 ; Postage 10 cents.
SUPERSTITION IN ALL AGES. Price, neatly bound in cloth,
$1.50 ; Postage 10 cents.
This powerful work, which has attracted so much public attention of late
years, is an arraignment of the Christian Religion by that heroic old priest, JEAN
MESLIEK, who after being many years within the Church, yet had the courage to
denounce its superstitions, and of whom it is related by Voltaire that on his death-bed
he asked God s pardon for having taught Christianity. The work is well written and
THE DIEGESIS. Price, $2.00 ; Postage 16 cents.
A Discovery of the Origin, Evidences, and Early History of Christianity, never yet
before or elsewhere so fully and faithfully set forth. By REV. ROBERT TAYLOR.
This work was written by Mr. Taylor while serving a term in Oakham (England) Jail,
where he was imprisoned for blasphemy. It contains 440 pages, and is considered
unanswerable as to arguments or facts.
VOLTAIRE S PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY. Price, $5.00.
Postage, 28 cents.
A book, every page of which is filled with genius. Every thoughtful man should
not only read, but own it. It is called a dictionary, because it contains, arranged in
alphabetical order, the ideas of Voltaire upon hundreds of subjects. Here you will
find the brightest, sharpest, wittiest things that the great French philosopher ever
said, and here too are thousands of the poisoned arrows that he shot at priests and
A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE DEVIL, and other Biographical
Sketches and Essays. By CHARLES BRADLAUGH. Portrait. Second
Edition. Extra Cloth. Gold side stamp. 12 mo, 260 pages. Post
In a handsome volume before us Charles Bradlaugh has " A Few Words " to say
" About the Devil." Mr. Bradlaugh has a right to his Few Words, and the Devil will,
we presume, at no distant day, have a "few words" to say to Mr. Bradlaugh.
THE BIBLE IN INDIA; Hindoo Origin of Hebrew and
Christian Revelation. Translated from " Le Bible dans Inde."
By Louis JACOLLIOT. Price, $2.00 Posta-e, 12 cents.
This book gives the origin of nearly all the fables in our Bible.
WORKS OF THOMAS PAINE.
THOMAS PAINE did more for liberty in America, than all of his defamers and slanderers
COMMON SENSE. Bold, clear type ; price, 15 cents.
His first and most important political work.
THE CRISIS. 12 mo ; full, clear type ; paper, 50 cents ; cloth, 80 cents.
Containing Nos. I to XVI, inclusive. Written in the " times that tried men s
souls" during the American Revolution.
THE RIGHTS OF MAN. On full, bold type ; 12 mo ; paper, 50 cts.,
cloth, 80 cents.
Written in defense of his fellow man. A work almost without a peer.
THE AGE OF REASON. On clear, large type ; paper, 25 cents ;
cloth, 50 cents.
For nearly one hundred years the clergy have been vainly trying to answer this
THE AGE OF REASON, AND AN EXAMINATION OF
THE PROPHECIES. Full, bold type ; 12 mo ; paper, 50 cents ;
cloth, 75 cents.
PAINE S POLITICAL WORKS. Complete in I vol. ; full, bold
type ; with a fine, steel portrait ; cloth, $1.50.
Containing "Common Sense," "The Crisis," (sixteen numbers), and "The
Rights of Man."
PAINE S THEOLOGICAL WORKS. Complete; 12 mo; steel
portrait of Paine ; cloth, $1.50.
Comprising " Age of Reason," " Examination of the Prophecies" Reply to the
Bishop of Llandaff," "An Essay on Dreams," " Of the Religion of Deism," etc.,
with " Life of Paine."
THOMAS PAINE S GREAT WORKS. Cloth, $3.00; colored
leather, red burnished edges, $4.00 ; morocco, gilt edge, $4,50- Post
Complete. New edition. The cheapest and best ever sold. Containing a" I .1.
of Paine," his Political Writings-" Common Sense" The (.nsis, Kipts of
Man " his Theological Writings - " Age of Reason," " Examination of he Prophe
cies " " Reply to the Bishop of Llandaff," " Letter to Mr. Lrskine," An Essay
DII Dreams "" Letter to Camille Jordan," "Of the Religion of De.sm," all in one
large volume, crown 8 vo, of THE TRUTH SEEKER LIBRARY, with a fine steel portrait
LIFE OF THOMAS PAINE. By GILBERT VALE. Cloth, 12 mo,
$1.00. Large, clear type, with a fine steel portrait of Paine.
A VINDICATION OF THOMAS PAINE.
By ROBERT G. INGERSOLL. And
THOMAS PAINE : A CRITICISM. By MONCURE D. CONWAY.
12 mo ; paper, 25 cents.
CATALOGUE OF LIBERAL AND SCIENTIFIC WORKS.
THOMAS PAINE S WORKS. A new edition. Just published. The
only full and unabridged edition of Paine s Complete Political, Theo
logical and Miscellaneous Writings, in three large octavo volumes.
Attention is called to the fact that the Boston edition Paine s Works is the only
Complete Works of the Author-Hero published in this country.
Vol. I contains
p a g e s.
. vol. in .... 14
Making - - - 1535 large octavo pages.
THE ESSENCE OF RELIGION. God the Image of Man. Man s
Dependence upon Nature the Last and Only Source of Religion.
By L. FEUERBACH, author of "Essence of Christianity." Cloth,
12 mo. Post-paid, 50 cents.
The purpose of my writing is to make men ANTHROPOLOGIANS instead of THEOLO
GIANS ; man-lovers instead of God-iovers ; students of this world instead of candidates
lor the next ; self-reliant citizens of the earth instead of subservient and wily ministers
of a celestial and terrestrial monarchy. Feuerbach.
ESSENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. By L. FEUERBACH. Translated
by GEORGE ELIOT. Cloth. Gold side and back. 12 mo 340 pp
Post paid, $3.00.
HARRIET MARTINEAU S AUTOBIOGRAPHY. Edited by
MARIA WESTON CHAPMAN. Two large volumes. Price, $6.00.
Postage, 38 cents. Published by J. Osgood & Co.
These volumes are full of interest to the Reformer and Philanthropist. To those
who have the best interests of the human family at heart they cannot fail to repay for
a thorough perusal.
THE KORAN. Price, $1.00. Postage, 10 cents.
A new English edition of the Koran of Mohammed, to which is added the Life of
bArabia ^ lustor y of that doctrine which was begun and carried on by him
THE REIGN OF THE STOICS. By FREDERIC MAY HOLLAND.
With citations of Authorities quoted from on each page. Extra cloth.
12 mo, 248 pp. Price, $1.25.
Read the philosophers, and learn how to make life happy, seeking useful precepts
and brave and noble words which may become deeds. Seneca.
A FEW DAYS IN ATHENS. FRANCES WRIGHT. Price, 75 cents.
SUPERNATURAL RELIGION. An Inquiry into the Reality of
Divine Revelation. Complete and unabridged from the Sixth London
Edition. Three vols. in one. Demy 8 vo. Price, $4.00.
The second edition of this unanswerable work had a large sale in the United States
and Canada at #12.50. We now issue in substantial form the complete work from the
Sixth London edition, which has been thoroughly revised and rewritten. The author
is a prominent writer in the Fortnightly Review.
CATALOGUE OF LIBERAL AND SCIENTIFIC WORKS.
M. D. CONWAY S WORKS.
Ttie Sacred Anthology. (Oriental.) A Book of Ethnical Scrip
tures. Collected and Edited by M. D. Conway. New and cheaper
edition. 12 mo. $2.00.
" He deserves our hearty thanks for the trouble he has taken in collecting these
gems, and stringing them together for the use of those who have no access to the
originals, and we trust that his book will arouse more general interest in a long neg
lected and even despised branch of literature, the Sacred Books of the East." Prof.
" I could wish that some such book as this Anthology might be put into the hands
of every minister in America." Liberal Christian.
Demonology ; and Devil Lore. 2 vols. - - - $7.00
Tne Earthward Pilgrimage. 12 mo, cloth. - - 1.75
Idols and Ideals ; with, an Essay on Christianity. 1.50
"Whoever reads them without prejudice, and can put up with free handling of
subjects called sacred, will find them suggestive, full of genuine sympathy, and of
feeling often poetic in its essence and eloquent in expression ." G. W. S. N. Y. Tribune.
NEMESIS OF FAITH. JAMES ANTHONY FROUDE. Cloth. Gilt top.
" Intensely heart-searching and practical, and terribly severe in its denunciation of
every kind of hypocrisy and cant." London Wesleyan Meth. Magazine-
SOCIALISM AND UTILITARIANISM. JOHN STUART MILL.
Cloth. Price, $1.25.
Helen Taylor, in the preface to this work, says : " It appears to me to possess great
intrinsic value, as well as special application to the problems now forcing themselves
on public attention. It will not, 1 believe, detract even from the mere literary repu
tation of the author, but will rather form an example of the patient labor with which
good work is done."
FAMILY CREEDS. WM. MCDONNELL, author of "Exeter Hall," etc.
Cloth. Price, $1.25.
"A powerful romance, of great interest, by a Canadian author. Sparing no pains to
produce facts, deeply versed in religious history, with a strongly imaginative mind,
Mr. McDonnell has indeed produced an interesting book." Public Opinion.
A MODERN SYMPOSIUM. Subjects : The Soul and Future Life.
The Influence upon Morality of a Decline in Religious Belief. By
various writers. 12 mo. Cloth, $1.00.
"The writers are some of the most notable men in England and all shades of belief,
and the Rose-Belford Co. have done well in publishing these articles in book form, for
they are full of thought on various subjects. They are such as no one who is inter
ested in the subjects dealt with, or who wants to keep up with the thought of the
times should overlook." St. Croix Courier.
HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION IN ENGLAND. By HENRY
THOMAS BUCKLE. New Edition. 3 vols., 12 mo. Cloth, $1.50 per
volume. Half Calf, $2.50 per volume.
THE MARTYRDOM OF MAN. By WINWOOD READE. Extra
cloth. Toned paper, 12 mo, 543 pp., $2.00.
"It is really a remarkable book, in which universal history is boiled down with
surprising skill." Literary World.
" The sketch of early Egyptian history, in the first chapter, is a masterpiece of
historical writing. He has a style that reminds us of Macaulay." Penn Monthly.
CATALOGUE OF LIBERAL AND SCIENTIFIC WORKS.
HUMBOLDTS COSMOS ; or, Sketch, of a Physical Descrip
tion of the "Universe. Translated by E. C. OTTE and W. S.
DALLAS, F. L. S. Fine Portrait. In 5 vols. Price, $7.60.
In this edition the notes are placed beneath the text, Humboldt s analytical Summa
ries and the passages hitherto suppressed are included, and new and comprehensive
Indices are added.
HUMBOLDT S TRAVELS IN AMERICA. In three volumes.
HUMBOLDT S VIEWS OF NATURE ; or, Contemplations
of the Sublime Phenomena of Creation. Translated by
E. C. OTTE and H. G. BOHN. With a complete index. Price, $2.00
Origin of Species, $2 00
The Descent of Man. i vol 3 00
Journal of Researches into the Natural History
and Geology of the Countries Visited in H.
M. S. Beagle, Round the World, 2 00
Emotional Expression of Man and the Lower
Animals. Illustrated 300
The Variation of Animals and Plants under
Domestication. Illustrated. 2 vols 6 00
Insectiverous Plants, 2 00
Man s Place in Nature. 12 mo; cloth, $1 25
Origin of Species. 12 mo ; cloth, 100
Lay Sermons. 12 mo ; cloth, 1 75
More Criticisms. 12 mo ; cloth, 50
Anatomy of Vertebrated Animals. 12 mo ; cloth,.. 2 50
Anatomy of Invertebrated " " " .. 2 50
Critiques and Addresses. 12 mo ; cloth, 1 50
Physiography. 12 mo ; cloth, 250
HELMHOLTZ S POPULAR LECTURES. 12 mo ; cloth. $2 00
LUBBOCK, (Sir John.)
Origin of Civilization. 12 mo $200
Prehistoric Times. Illustrated. 640 pp 5 00
British Wildf lowers : Relation to Insects, 1 50
LECKY, (W. E. H.)
Rationalism in Europe. 2 vols $4 00
History of European Morals, 6 00
DRAPER, (John W.)
Intellectual Development of Europe, $3 00
Conflict between Religion and Science, 1 75
CATALOGUE OF LIBERAL AND SCIENTIFIC WORKS.
BUCKLE, (Henry Thomas.)
History of Civilization. 2 vols $6 00
Essays, with Biography of Author, 1 00
Miscellaneous and Posthumous Works. 3 vols. . . 24 00
TYNDALL. (Prof. John.)
Heat as a Mode of Motion, $2 00
On Sound. Eight Lectures, 2 00
Fragments of Science for Unscientific People,. .. 2 50
Light and Electricity, 1 25
Hours of Exercise in the Alps, 2 00
Faraday as a Discoverer, 1 00
Forms of Water, 1 50
Radiant Heat, 5 00
Six Lectures on Light. Paper, 75 cents, cloth, 1 50
Belfast Inaugural Address, 50
Use and Limit of Imagination in Science, 1 50
Education : Mental, Moral and Physical, $1 25
First Principles, 2 50
Essays : Moral, Political and ^Esthetic, 2 50
Illustrations of Universal Progress, 2 50
Social Statics : the Condition Essential to Hu
man Happiness. 2 50
Principles of Biology. 2 vols 5 Oi
Principles of Psychology. 2 vols 5 0(
Philosophy of Style. (Flexible cloth) 50
Recent Discussions in Science, Philosophy and
Morals, I 50
Sociology, J w
Principles of Sociology, 2
INGERSOLL. (Robt. G.)
The Gods, and other Lectures, 12 mo ; 253 pp. Cloth, $1 25
The Ghosts, and other Lectures, 12 mo ; 232 pp. Cloth, 1 25
(i a < " Paper, 50
The Gods and Ghosts in one volume,
12 mo ; 485 pp. Paper,
The same, bound in Turkey Morocco. Gilt edges, 5 00
Some Mistakes of Moses. 12 mo ; 278 pp. Cloth, 1 25
The History of Creation. 12 mo. 2 vols $5 00
The Evolution of Man. 12 mo. 2 vols 5 00
D HOLBACH S SYSTEM OF NATURE. Price, $2.00. Postage,
1 6 cents.
One of the greatest books ever written. It never was, and it never will be answered-
CATALOGUE OF LIBERAL AND SCIENTIFIC WORKS.
THE CREED OF CHRISTENDOM. Its Foundation contrasted
with its Superstructure. By W. RATHBONE GREG, author of "Enig
mas of Life," etc. Crown 8vo. Complete and unabridged, with
Index not in other editions. Price, $1.50.
The Chicago Times of August soth, in a long review says : "Mr. Greg has applied
the test of reason to the Christian Theology in this, one of the greatest that the
world has seen for many a day. . . A book that ought to be used as a text-book
in every theological seminary in the Christian -world; that ought to be printed in
cheap editions by the real evangelical societies, and given away by millions to
those who are in doubt and know not whither to turn for light. . . And min
isters will not do their full duty till they educate their congregations in the evidences
against as well as for Christianity. And no book will help them to do this better than
Mr. Greg s "Creed of Christendom."
MORLEY S BIOGRAPHIES. Uniform in size and binding.
Diderot and tne Encyclopedists. Vol. III. By John
Morley. Price, crown 8vo. cloth, $2.50. Postage I5c.
"In reading such a book as this, it is generally a sign of its goodness when one thinks
in reading it rather of the subject than of the author. Mr. Morley has brought Diderot
so fully before us, and has represented his life and his works so completely, that the
excellence of the presentation is almost subordinate to its interest. Such a presenta
tion can only come from a thorough sympathy and familiarity with the subject joined
to literary skill." Athenaeum.
" Mr. Morley s Diderot is one of the most interesting biographies we have ever
read, not only for the reason that its subject is interesting, but that the biographer
knows how to handle it to advantage. Those persons to whom Diderot is almost, if
not quite a stranger, as well as those by whom he is known and admired, cannot but
be grateful for this volume." New York Herald.
Rousseau. Vol. I. Price, crown 8vo, cloth $2.50, postage 150.
Voltaire. Vol. II. Price, crown 8vo, cloth, $1.75, postage loc.
The three works, Diderot, Rousseau, and Voltaire, make a complete history of the
church and anti-church militant of the second and third quarters of the last century in
BUSTS OF R. G. INGERSOLL, by the celebrated sculptor, CLARK
Cabinet Size $2 50
Small Bust on Pedestal. (Mantel ornament.)... 1 25
Neatly packed and boxed ready for shipment. Every admirer of this great Apostle
of Liberty should have at least one.
LARGE LITHOGRAPH OF COL. INGERSOLL. Price, 50
cents ; sent by mail free of postage.
I have for sale a Lithograph Portrait of ROBT. G. INGERSOLL, size 21 x 27, with fac
simile of Autograph ; suitable to hang in parlor or library.
I have also the best Photographs ever made of R. G. INGERSOLL, taken by the
celebrated " Sarony" of New York. Prices as follows, postage paid :
IMPERIAL, or large size, 40 cents. PHOTO, or card size, 20 cents.
A liberal discount to the trade.
Order any Liberal Book you desire, and your orders will be filled at the lowest rates.
N. B. All books named in this catalogue will be sent, postpaid, to any address
in the United States and Canada, on receipt of the prices named.
C. P. FARRELL, PUBLISHER AND BOOKSELLER,
WASHINGTON, D. C.