Saturday, 6 September 2014

DISCUSSIONAL COLUMN (ON CREATION)

You have more than once allowed me to stray on to that most delicate of debatable grounds—religion, and I own that it is rather an attractive one to me. With your permission I will again address myself to the subject. Not that I have any hope of being able to advance fresh ideas or novel suggestions on this well ploughed field, still I may present some old ideas in a new garb and awake interest where it may long have slumbered. I must preface any further remarks with the explanation that genuine religion, right and truth, have no more devoted adherent than your humble contributor. I would not that any one through my observations, renounces the straight path of honesty and integrity.
 What I to object to and war against is error and fallacy, superstition and bigotry, blended with unreasoning piety and grovelling cant. My effort will be to induce those who give me their time, to use the reasoning faculties with which they are endowed, and calmly and without prejudice weigh the statements which I make. I wish no one to lose their faith in right,and the immutability of truth, or their love of justice, uprightness and moral integrity. A human being with properly developed faculties requires not the incentive of fear to follow the path of honor and honesty. And yet the ruling motive of our great religious systems is fear ; fear of an eternal punishment, without hope and without the possibility of remedy. Now on what grounds are these systems built up, and on what authority is eternal punishment allotted to those whose defective organisation leads them into vice and crime. I will analyse the one which finds general credence in these colonies, though it is only one, and a secondary one, of the great religious beliefs of the human race, as far as number of adherents are concerned.
 The fundamental ideas which we meet with are the existence of an Omnipotent Being, the creation in His image by Him of an inferior being, the sin and consequent loss of position by the first of the human race, and a scheme of redemption which this fall necessitates, together with the punishment consequent on a refusal to accept the salvation scheme. I will first direct my thoughts to the Creator, a Being who is invested with all the supreme glory of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence : who has existed from all eternity, and who is eternal. The highest attributes which the human mind can conceive we accord him, though each is beyond our comprehension. Let us now see how these unalterable attributes conform to the commonly accepted ideas of a creation, fall and future punishment. We are informed by the writer of Genesis that man was made in the Creator's own image and pronounced perfect. Well, it was hardly necessary to add that latter intimation. On this sphere we judge only by results and we call a cause good or bad, perfect or imperfect, according as the result is, and given a perfect actuating cause it follows as a logical necessity that the result will be perfect. Now, we ascribe to Deity, supreme perfection, so that all his handiwork must be of a similar nature, entirely perfect. We also ascribe to Him supreme wisdom and knowledge, nothing to all eternity being hidden or a secret to Him. With these logical necessities it was superfluous for the historian to chronicle that man was created perfect, being the handiwork of God he could be nothing else. One little difficulty now creeps in, the essential attribute of perfection is the impossibility of getting astray or any way falling below the acme of excellence. However, we know that now-a-days the human race is anything but the pitch of perfection, but had man ever been perfect, the absolute quality of that attribute is that he world remain for ever perfect. We ask why Deity can do no wrong and the answer is because he is perfect, equally so had man been perfect at any time he would from the very nature of things never have fallen. The self-evident fact therefore is that as man is not perfect now he never has been. But the other fact stares us in the face that the work of God could be nothing else than perfect. He being perfect, all His works are perfect also. Man is not perfect, therefore man never could have been the result of a direct creative act of the Deity. But for the sake of a further refutation of the creative scheme, I will take man as without sin in the Garden of Eden, pronounced perfect by his Creator. He has the power of free action, seemingly allowed him, and is placed on probation. A warning is given him that he is to observe a certain command, the breaking of which will result in death. Tempted by the personification of evil, he gives way and draws down on himself the vengeance of the Creator, by whom he is cursed and driven from the paradise in which he had been placed. All this seems fair enough on the face, but like the first idea will not bear critical analysis. The entire argument for sin rests on man's free will, and many good Christians act throughout life on this assumption that they have the freedom of choice allowed them. Our systems of justice are based on this and society generally, observes this rule. I will dive deeper, however.
 We conceive Deity as having all knowledge, all wisdom, knowing everything that has been, is, or will be to all eternity. Before Adam was created therefore, it was settled that he would fall, that his progeny would be born in sin, and that it a scheme of redemption would have to be worked out. We cannot deny this, otherwise we deny the attribute of All knowledge. Where then was the freedom of choice, where could be the sin ? It will be said that Adam did not know what was to take place, but that is entirely beside the question. A train does not know where it is going but the wheels and the rails compel it to follow a certain course ; and so with man. He may not know what the next hour will bring forth, nay, may fondly imagine that he is shaping his own destiny, but the Almighty knows, and each item of his knowledge, has to be fulfilled to the letter. All the struggling, wavering, hesitation and final decision which seem to be part of our freedom, are—must be—known. What becomes then of Adam's freedom ? He had none. It was known beforehand that he would disobey, and being known, it was out of his power to alter, for had it been possible for him to do otherwise, he would have put the Creator in error, which is an impossibility. There is no getting away from the plain logical statement of the case. Giving Deity the attribute of all knowledge it is utterly impossible to have freedom of choice, and without freedom of choice there can be no sin. No one can be blamed for doing what is laid down for him to do. I would like to further prove my position by taking up the next idea and showing the inconsistencies which it involves, and how God's immutability precludes beyond all possibility the fall or even the creation of man. However that aspect of the subject I will, by your permission, deal with in another article, I have however, shown that as man is not perfect now, he never has been perfect and not being perfect he never could have been the result of a creative act by an all perfect Deity. I have also shown that, granting it were possible for perfection not to be perfection, and Adam actually to disobey, he could not commit a sin, as he could not from the very nature of things have any free will in reality, it fact he could not disobey, as it is a farce to suppose that Deity would instruct a being not to commit a certain deed and threaten a punishment for doing so, when at the same time he was perfectly aware that his command would be disobeyed. These are only a few of the in consistencies involved in the Genesis scheme, and I state them in the hope that attention will be awakened, and ideas kindled. I am open to conviction, myself, and if shown to be in error will willingly acknowledge it, and as I am sure those that disagree with me will be allowed equal latitude to urge their arguments. If they do not do so, I can only conclude that they admit the logical necessity of my deductions.
JUVENUS

 Fitzroy City Press  6 January 1883,

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