Saturday, 6 September 2014

DISCUSSIONAL COLUMN (ON GENESIS)

 SIR,—In continuation and amplification of my remarks in this column last week, I have a few remarks. I pointed out two uncontrovertible reasons why the Genesis story is an impossibility. I know they are not new ones. They have been used before and by abler persons than mine, however, truth is never dimned by repetition. Other arguments of equal weight can be urged, which are not so easily grasped, still I will give some of them, so that an idea of the full strength of my position may be obtained.
   An essential attribute of Deity is immutability, the impossibility of changing. We are taught by sacred writ, that God altereth not, that He is absolutely unchangeable. Indeed we cannot conceive Deity as anything else. Take away that attribute, and we place him on a human level at once. Like every other of its attribute, however, this one clashes with the Christian idea of creation. Progress implies change, without it there can be no progression ; everything would be at it standstill. Now the creation of a universe comprising countless worlds, possibly all peopled with some class of beings, and one small sphere certainly so peopled, involves numberless changes, changes in the state and essence of things which necessitate a change as the consciousness of the creating agent. Recognising Deity as that agent, His consciousness of the state of things would be compelled to a complete alteration. Before the act he could only recognise it as yet to occur, after the creation, His cognisance of it could only be as an accomplished fact. And so with each stage of the scheme. As each day passes, present is being turned into past, and the consciousness of each being undergoes a similar change. This absolute necessity therefore precludes the possibility of a creation, the very essence of which lies in a complete change of the state of things, being the act of an unchangeable Deity. This argument also cover it wide extent of other ground, which it is rather out of place to trench on at present, though I may have occasion to use it at a future time, in some of its other bearings.
 In reference to the question of sin, however, it may be applied with effect. The orthodox account states that man was pronounced, by his Creator as "good," as was the rest of the creation, yet in that account scarce a page intervenes between this verdict and man's reputed downfall, and scarce a dozen pages before we are told that God repented Him that he had made man, and determines to destroy all but one family off the face of the earth. With an unchangeable Deity, this account is utterly inconsistent, and involves palpable contradictions. It cannot by any logical possibility be true, and we must either reject the idea of a Supreme Being altogether, or we must reject the orthodox idea of the creation and man's downfall, or, to carry it further still, we must reject faith. This latter conclusion I merely indicate now, reserving full review for the future. Of course, these arguments cut the ground from under the salvation scheme, and entirely disprove it by removing its necessity. By no method of construing can it be justified, either in point of justice, or on the score of completeness and universality. When, besides these two fatal objections, we add the absence of any necessity, it falls at once to the ground. I do not by any means reject the account of the life and works of Jesus entirely, but I regard them in the light that is gaining ground rapidly every day ; that he was a grand—a noble reformer, far in advance of his age, who did a great work and who is entitled to every reverence, every praise and the sincerest love. That some of his teachings were more suited for his hearers and his times, than for the present day, cannot be doubted, and that the principles he laid down will not in some instances bear the fire of criticism is equally certain.
 The great love idea, however, which permeated his whole being and teaching, will never be improved on, and no better code of social morality will ever be invented. If every man were to treat every other of his species as he himself would desire to be treated,we would indeed have a millenium. To the orthodox teacher, therefore, I offer no abuse. He is doing a work, and a good one, doubtless to the best of his light, and every effort to improve the human race, and to render life brighter, purer and nobler, has my cordial sympathy no matter what differences of opinion may exist as to the moving impulse. If he strive to win souls to the paths of honor and integrity, so as to escape a future punishment, or to glorify the Saviour, or from any other motive, so long as the result is to improve humanity, far be it from me to be a barrier in the way. For myself I hold that the consciousness of integrity and honesty to our fellow man, and to our own selves is a sufficient reward in this world, producing as it does a respect, which nothing else can. That it will carry its own reward in our further life, I do not doubt. For I fondly cherish the certainty of a continued existence, after this probationary stage has been passed through, an existence where our possibilities and our capabilities will be infinitely extended, but still too regulated by the result of our life here. I cannot see that the few short years of earthly life would satisfy any aim, or justify the amount of misery and suffering which is entailed on the human race,nor can I suppose that the bright spirits with which we are endowed sink into utter nothingness when the mantle of earth is cast off.
 However, I have completed the task I set myself, and will not digress any further, though still there is a most engaging one. Perhaps I may have the opportunity of giving the reason for the remainder of my views in other articles, and if these serve but to stimulate enquiry and thought, I will be content. Let me, however, say in conclusion, that I wish to shake no man's faith in the desirability of life, or his love for truth. Let those who feel that they must have a faith to cling to, and who have not the strength to strike boldly out for truth's sake alone, still adhere to that doctrine, which creates a love for their fellow creatures within their mind. It cannot materially injure them ; whilst those who can stand in the simple purity and majesty of right, may safely quit the sands of dogma, and neither delude themselves with any hope of eternal bliss immediately after this life, nor fear an eternity of punishment, which their reason must tell them is at variance with every principle of humanity, love, right, and justice.   "JUVENUS."   

 Fitzroy City Press 13 January 1883,

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