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Full text of "Some mistakes of Moses"

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; 









Presented to the 

LIBRARY of the 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO 

from 

the estate of 
ROBERT KENNY 




BY 



ROBERT G. INGERSOLL. 



THE DESTROYER OF WEEDS, THISTLES AND THORNS, IS A BENEFACTOR 
WHETHER HE SOWETII GRAIN OR NOT. 



Fourth Edition. 



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. 





TO 

, SUE, M, FARRELL^- 

IN LAW MY SISTER ; 
AND IN FACT MY FRIEND, 

THIS VOLUME, 

AS A TOKEN OF RESPECT AND LOVE, 
IS DEDICATED. 




PREFACE. 



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, 



VI PREFACE. 



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, 



Viii PREFACE. 



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, 



PREFACE. 



unbiased soul is forced to raise the standard of 
revolt. 

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 



PREFACE. 



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. 




CONTENTS 



Chapter. 

I. SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES, 

II. FREE SCHOOLS, 

III. THE POLITICIANS, 

IV. MAN AND WOMAN, 
V, THE PENTATEUCH, 

VI. MONDAY, 

VII. TUESDAY, 

VIII. WEDNESDAY, 

IX. THURSDAY, 

X. HE MADE THE STARS ALSO, 

XI. FRIDAY, 

XII. SATURDAY, 

XIII. LET us MAKE MAN, 

XIV. SUNDAY, 

XV. THE NECESSITY FOR A GOOD MEMORY, 

XVI. THE GARDEN, 

XVII. THE FALL, 

XVIII. DAMPNESS, 

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, 

XXIX. CONCLUSION, 

XXX. TRIBUTE TO EBON C. INGERSOLL, 



Page. 

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31 

35 
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84 
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101 
108 

121 

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138 

169 
I 7 6 

181 

190 

210 
241 

245 
250 

253 
2 5 6 

262 
273 



SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 



HE WHO ENDEAVORS TO CONTROL THE MIND BY FORCE 
IS A TYRANT, AND HE WHO SUBMITS IS A SLAVE. 

I. 

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 
creeds. 

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 
dox forever. 

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 
by fear. 

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 
most. 

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! 



II. 

FREE SCHOOLS. 

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 
Holy Writ. 

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 
blessed truth. 



III. 

THE POLITICIANS. 

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 
thinking. 



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 
publican. 

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 
s 



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 
Jewish God. 



IV. 
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 
common. 

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 
fables. 

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 
gymen. 

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 
narrow path. 

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 
tirely candid. 

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- 

o 

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 
dead? 



V. 



THE PENTATEUCH. 

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 
clerk. 

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 
same error. 

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 
own people. 

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 
Hamlet. 

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 
found. 

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. 



55 



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. 



VI. 

MONDAY. 

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 
man. 

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 
inspired. 

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 
countless stars. 

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. 



VII. 

TUESDAY. 

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 
renown." 

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 
rain. 

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 
Lord God." 



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 

5 



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. 



VIII. 
WEDNESDAY. 

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 
fruit ? 

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 
third day." 

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 
of Night. 




IX. 

THURSDAY. 

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 
whole day." 

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 
usual way. 



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 
in all. 

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 
Creator ? 

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 
of power. 

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 
modern thought. 



X. 

-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 
years. 

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 
the facts? 

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 ? 



XL 
FRIDAY. 

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 
eternally lost. 



XII. 
SATURDAY. 

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 
good." 

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 
of mankind. 



XIII. 

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 
them." 

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 
result. 



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 
ago. 

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. 




XIV. 
SUNDAY. 

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 
week. 

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 
hours. 



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 
deceived. 

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. 

o 

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 
Egypt. 

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 
the Christian. 

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. 



XV. 

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 
follows : 

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 
heavens. 



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 
formed. 

" 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 

evil. 

" 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 
is gold. 

" 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 
Ethiopia. 

" 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 
for him. 

" 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 
him. 



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 
made. 

2. The firmament was constructed and the 
waters divided. 

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 
woman. 



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 
Adam. 

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 
ribs. 

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 
for him. 

"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 an helpmeet 
for him." 

8 



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 
for Adam." 



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 
God. 

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 
were. 

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 ! 

Next! 

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 
sociation besides. 

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 ? 

Yes sir. 

How much ? 

One hundred thousand dollars. 

Did you take anything else with you ? 

Yes sir. 

Well, what else ? 

I took my neighbor s wife we sang together in 

the choir. 

Did you have a wife and children of your own ? 

Yes sir. 

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 ? 

No sir. 



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 
of faith. 

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 
of Eden. 

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." 



XVI. 
THE GARDEN. 

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 
subdue it." 

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 
centuries, days. 

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. 



XVII. 
THE FALL. 

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 

9 



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 
ment." 

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 
damned. 



XVIII. 
DAMPNESS. 

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 
continually. 



SOME MISTAKES OF MOSES. 139 

"And it repented the Lord that he had made 
man on the earth, and it grieved him at his 
heart. 

"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 
them." 

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 
in crime. 

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 
and well. 

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 
made." 

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 
10 



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 
female." 



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 
each sex. 

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 
about 2,000,000. 



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 
Noah had. 

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 
world ! 

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 
countless animalculae. 

Well, after they all got in, Noah pulled down 
the window, God shut the door, and the rain com 
menced. 

How long did it rain ? 

Forty days. 

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 
explanation alone. 

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 
birds ? 

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 
thousand years. 

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 
this kind." 

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 
the Almighty." 

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 
flooded it. 

" God made the world in six days, but he was 
forty days in destroying it, because he is slow to 



anger. 



" 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 
necessity exists. 

" 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 
away. 



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 
and explains. 

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. 
11 



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 
shocked. 

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 
drowned. 



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. 




XIX. 

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 
experience. 

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 
mankind ? 

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 
these experiences. 

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 
gated ? 



XX. 
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. 

12 



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 
minister. 

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. 




XXI. 
THE HEBREWS. 

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 
mind. 

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 
instead. 

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 
years." 

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 
thirty years." 

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 
lation. 

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 
millions ! 

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 
king. 



XXII. 
THE PLAGUES. 

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 
swered : 

" 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 
land." 



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 

13 



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 
God." 

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 
the land. 

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 
this? 

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. 



14 



XXIII. 
THE FLIGHT. 

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 
Sinai. 



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 
force ? 

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 
demand ! 

" 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 
light food." 

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 
a saint. 

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 
and honey. 

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 
weight." 

No wonder Mr. Cruden believed the Mosaic 
account. 

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 
Canaan ! 

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 



15 



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 
talking ? 

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- 
four hours. 

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 

o o 

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 
field." 

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 
Pentateuch. 



XXIV. 
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 

16 



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. 



XXV. 
"INSPIRED" SLAVERY. 

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 
this ? 

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. 



XXVI. 
"INSPIRED" MARRIAGE. 

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 
world. 



XXVII. 
INSPIRED" WAR. 

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 
savage. 

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. 



XXVIII. 
-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 



17 



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 
he die." 

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 
command ? 

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 ? 



XXIX. 
CONCLUSION. 

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 
ligions. 



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 
of God? 

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 
blood. 

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." 





A TRIBUTE 



TO 



EBON C. INGERSOLL, 

BY HIS BROTHER 

ROBERT. 




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. 

o 

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 
less dead. 

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. 

VOL. I. 

"THE GODS, AND OTHER LECTURES:" 

BY 

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. 

VOL. II. 

"THE GHOSTS, AND OTHER LECTURES:" 

BY 

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, 
tinted paper. 

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 
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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, 
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This powerful work, which has attracted so much public attention of late 
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A Discovery of the Origin, Evidences, and Early History of Christianity, never yet 
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A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE DEVIL, and other Biographical 
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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 

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p a g e s. 



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Making - - - 1535 large octavo pages. 

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The purpose of my writing is to make men ANTHROPOLOGIANS instead of THEOLO 
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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 
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A MODERN SYMPOSIUM. Subjects : The Soul and Future Life. 
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HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION IN ENGLAND. By HENRY 
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THE MARTYRDOM OF MAN. By WINWOOD READE. Extra 
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HUMBOLDTS COSMOS ; or, Sketch, of a Physical Descrip 
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HUMBOLDT S TRAVELS IN AMERICA. In three volumes. 
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HUMBOLDT S VIEWS OF NATURE ; or, Contemplations 
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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 
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mas of Life," etc. Crown 8vo. Complete and unabridged, with 
Index not in other editions. Price, $1.50. 

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in every theological seminary in the Christian -world; that ought to be printed in 
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those who are in doubt and know not whither to turn for light. . . And min 
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Mr. Greg s "Creed of Christendom." 

MORLEY S BIOGRAPHIES. Uniform in size and binding. 

Diderot and tne Encyclopedists. Vol. III. By John 
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"In reading such a book as this, it is generally a sign of its goodness when one thinks 
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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 
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MILLS. 
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LARGE LITHOGRAPH OF COL. INGERSOLL. Price, 50 

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I have for sale a Lithograph Portrait of ROBT. G. INGERSOLL, size 21 x 27, with fac 
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WASHINGTON, D. C.