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Miscellaneous Notes

IN an article dealing with "Mysticism in Science", in The Scientific Monthly for February, 1943, Dr. R.S. Underwood, Professor of Mathematics, Texas Technological College, gives an intellectual drubbing to those who, in the name of mathematics, invent a terminology that, because of its dual meaning, is misleading to the public.

He castigates those who, calling "time" a dimension, give the impression that our three-dimensional space is unreal or has been shattered by mathematical equations.

"It is this change of meaning which allows us to speak of 'time' as a dimension; and it is still true that, outside of useless and metaphysical speculation, there are three and only three dimensions of 'space'. The fourth dimension of mystic significance is an nonsensical as the fourth corner of a tin triangle." And he states: "My objection is solely to the terminology which implies that old-fashioned 'three-space' is a simpleton's illusion and an artificial shackle."

The algebraic devices which the mathematician uses to extend the boundaries of his calculations often lead people to imagine that he has obliterated our three-dimensional world and has nullified Euclidean geometry. It is this trickery which Dr. Underwood condemns:"To help his thinking, and heedless of the fraud he is perpetrating, he denies that he has gone out of geometry, and he begins to talk mystically of such things as "hyper-spheres' whose intersections with planes are spheres. Neither he nor any one else can draw pictures of such monstrosities. Intoxicated with his verbiage, he begins to see Alice-in-Wonderland 'four-space' on the horizon . . . "

Three-dimensional space is here to stay regardless of the trick patter and ambiguous nomenclature of the mathematicians. We still build three-dimensional houses, know that straight parallel lines do not meet, and that "space" does not "bend back upon itself" like a contortionist in a side show.

As Dr. Underwood observes, it is this "straining for weird and meaningless conclusions which spring from the accidental implications of unfortunate technical terms" that causes confusion and introduces "mysticism" into science.

DOES mathematics, the science of accurate calculation, lead to accuracy in thinking? Many say "yes"; this unregenerated plebian says "No". Some of the world's most illustrious "screwballs" in matters of religion have been excellent mathematicians.

Tycho Brahe and Kepler both believed in astrology. "Tycho Brahe was from his fifteenth year devoted to astrology," says Morris Jastrow, "and adjoining his observatory at Uranienburg the astronomer-royal of Denmark had a laboratory built in order to study alchemy, and it was only a few years before his death that he finally abandoned astrology." Kepler "peopled the planets with souls and genii", and put "an astrological interpretation on the disappearance of the brilliant star of 1572, which Tycho had observed."

Mathematicians of distinction have consulted mediums, talked and walked, arm in arm, with ghosts, and believed in haunted houses. Nothing in mathematics can prevent a man from being or becoming superstitious. There is no reason why a Christian Scientist cannot learn trigonometry or master calculus. A man who has invented a bomb-sight or calculated an eclipse may, for all we know, be eating his Savior at this minute, or be carrying a St. Christopher medal on the steering wheel of his car.

Our Patent Office in Washington was once glutted with hundreds of models of perpetual motion machines invented by mathematical geniuses; today our Government refuses to issue patents for perpetual motion.

Newton, great mathematician though he was, was a tyro at thinking outside his specialized field. He prattled piously about the Book of Revelation, which Jefferson called "the ravings of a maniac."

Distinguished mathematicians believe in "curved space", tell us that parallel lines meet, and that a moving yard stick will become shorter if it travels at sufficient speed. You can become a midget or even shrink to nothing if you run fast enough.

Eddington, who can tell you the exact number of electrons in the universe (count them yourself if you do not accept his figures), writes religious rubbish with the solemnity of a country parson. His "Science and the Unseen World", which I keep on a shelf marked "Junk", contains this enlightening sentence: "It is well that there should be some to advise us whether our spiritual bread contains the right kind of vitamins." If Eddington knows what he is talking about a tenth of the time, he is doing well, and my tribute to his intelligence is more than generous.

Whitehead is so "profound" (another word for muddy) that no two of his disciples can understand him alike. It is doubtful whether Whitehead himself knows from one page to the next what he is driving at.

All of which shows that a knowledge of mathematics does not lead to accuracy -- except in mathematics.

ONE cannot expect too much from "liberal" clergymen who are only partly out of the woods.

John Haynes Holmes values reason -- even extols it -- but in a sermon preached in Community Church doubts if it is "enough" or "if it can lead us to all truth". Man, says he, "possesses other faculties than those of reason" and "there are fields of experience into which reason cannot enter at all," such as "art, music, literature, and the miracle of love." These, he thinks, belong to a world of mysticism.

The man who can enjoy a beautiful painting, the melodious sounds of a well-played violin, thrill at fine writing or enjoy the reactions he feels in the play of his affections, is no more living in a "mystic" world than the crap-shooter who gets exhilaration from throwing dice. It is a world, not above or beyond reason, but one in which the uses of reason are not required. No one has to reason why he likes pleasant experiences more than unpleasant ones, and since "art, music, literature, and the miracle of love" furnish, for the most part, pleasant sensations, there is no need for the application of reason.

The Rev. Dr. Holmes, in separating his world of material strata from his world of pleasant sensations, is like a man trying to detach a candle from its flame. A man can enjoy a sunset or a beautiful painting without stopping to ask himself why an atmospheric condition or a particular arrangement of paint on canvas is giving him pleasure. If, however, he is insistent in the matter, he can apply his reason here as soundly as he can in any other field. There are reasons why the farmer likes the country and dislikes the city, why some prefer billiards to golf, why some men prefer one form of personal gratification to another. Reason can be applied to Mr. Holmes' "mystic" world, if an explanation is required.

"Art, music, literature, and the miracle of love" are part of the material world, and depend on sinews, nerves and glandular secretions for appreciation and expression. There is nothing "mystic" about them.

SOMEWHERE in a book of sermons by the Rev. Dr. Fosdick, there is a reference to "dirt going it blind," as descriptive of the universe under a materialistic interpretation. Materialists accept the phrase as accurately descriptive of cosmic activities, even though the clergyman meant to be funny.

After all, there is more merit in "dirt going it blind" than in a deity "going it" daffy. An intelligent being who did what the universe does would be put down for either an irresponsible dolt or an irascible brute. What possible excuse can a theologian offer for his God running amuck?

Was it Dr. Fosdick's deity or was it "dirt going it blind" that destroyed Lisbon in 1755? When that city, by an earthquake and a tidal wave, was reduced almost instantly to a heap of ruins, and 30,000 to 40,000 persons were killed, were there intelligent forces or "blind" forces at work?

Is it a deity or is it "dirt going it blind" that turns out billions of pestilential germs, billions of mosquitoes, billions of flies, and billions of ticks? Is it deity or "dirt" that turns out parasitical worms?

Theism is absurd, and any attempt to refine it, to make it look respectable adds to the absurdity. And nothing is more absurd than clergymen themselves "going it blind"

K.B. TRACY,M.D., a Fundamentalist of Portland, Maine, has just published the second part of his "Bible and Science Tracy versus Teller" leaflet. Part II is quite as Fundamentalistically sound as Part I.

Dr. Tracy rejects man's animal origin, scorns Pithecanthropus erectus, and says that evolution is false because dogs and cats do not breed together. Evidently, he will not be convinced of the truth of evolution until he sees a cat-dog kitten or a dog-cat puppy on his doorstep. Evolutionists, says he, "have many theories or guesses and :imaginations, especially crack-brain imagination". As for women having children by ghosts, "we have a record in the Holy Bible", says he, "where human women gave birth to children from angels, and the children were giants". This Dr. Tracy accepts with no suspicion that anyone was crack-brained here. And "it is going to be just too bad for Mr. Teller, and all others who do not [accept the Virgin Birth], when they meet Jesus Christ as their judge at the coming judgment bar of God Almighty".

Dr. Tracy is troubled over the Bryan poser of how a black cow, eating green grass, can give "white" milk "that forms yellow butter". If you cannot explain this bit of color change, there must be a God.

Cows (whether black, white, brown, or mottled) all give "white" milk. This is because milk is composed of tiny globules of fat in a casein solution. The color of the animal's skin has no more to do with the "whiteness" of the milk than the color of a steamship's hull has to do with the color of the smoke that comes out of the ship's funnels.

The coloring matter that makes plants "green" is called "chlorophyll". This pigment loses its tinting qualities through chemical change. Grass, during the process of digestion, changes "color" inside the cow, as it does when it is cut down in a meadow and turns into hay.

Fundamentalists are funny people. If black cows gave black milk, brown cows brown milk, and mottled cows mottled milk, it would be hailed as evidence of "design" But let all cows, of various colors, give only "white" milk,:and we are asked to admire the wisdom of God.

WHAT is the matter with the "Scientific American"? Has it gone "soft"?

In a recent issue is a milk-and-mush editorial, which is almost apologetic in tone on the Subject of astrology. The writer, A. G. Ingalls, calls astrology a "pseudo-science," but believes one should not be too harsh in offering criticism. It is "not good psychology," he thinks, "to label the astrologers fakes and frauds, as some have." And why not? What is the proper "psychology" to use when men propagate "fakes and frauds"? And when have those who attack science been over-choice in the niceties of language?

If astrology, with its phony charts, is not a flimflam game on the part of its sponsors, we do not know what it is.

Besides, thinks Mr. Ingalls, we cannot be positive about anything. "There is not and never has been any way to distinguish positively between truth and error." If there is not, then it is a mistake to call the Sun a star for fear it may be a comet--or the Brooklyn Bridge. And how can Mr. Ingalls be sure that astrology is not a science? Writers who play around in this loose manner are "just talking."

And, as if this were not enough soft-soaping for one issue of the paper, the "Scientific American" treats Spiritualism with a gentle hand.

"We want," say its editors, "to know if such things as phantoms, ghosts, spirits, or vampires actually visit us." If a magazine published in the interest of science does not already know that these things do not exist (and is willing to say so), it should move to Haiti and change its name to the "Voodoo Monthly." It will learn there all that is possible to know about ghosts and vampires.

As to its desire to "investigate the supernatural," one must be a bit skeptical. The books which the "Scientific American" recommends to its readers on its "Psychic Phenomena" page, are not the kind that are apt to fumigate the minds of those who have a hankering for spookology. One could hardly do worse if he followed the book listings in Spiritualistic papers.

A NEW freak idea, outdoing telepathy, about which some of you will be hearing, is "teleportation." In this you do not "telepath" your thoughts to someone else, but send anything you want by merely "thinking" it to the desired destination. By this method you can "teleport" a carload of pig iron from Pittsburgh to 'Frisco, or a shipment of machine guns to the Far East. We can see where railroads and steamships will soon go out of business if "teleportation" works.

Except by the Spiritualists (who can swallow anything), Mrs. Guppy's flight over the chimney tops of London is looked upon with scorn, but how can her trip through the air be compared with the "teleportation" of a herd of elephants or a fleet of battleships?

Yet the idea is not strictly new. Jesus Christ, standing on a mountain top, "thought" himself to heaven, and apparently has never thought of "thinking" himself back. If he does not watch out, some pious teleporters will be "thinking" him back to earth, whether he would come or not.

"Teleportation" may be good, but it does not compare with our own concoction, "Telenihilation," by which a nation at war will be able to "think" its enemies into falling down dead.

THOSE who admire Celestial Wisdom should turn to the termite. Here is a wood-boring insect that pursues its work of destruction without regard for the property rights of others or for esthetic values. I have seen, in tropical countries, beautiful and costly furniture destroyed in a short time.

In the United States alone, the annual damage is estimated at $40,000,000. This is not a large or impressive figure according to New Deal standards, but this is because we have only 58 species of termites engaged in this particular kind of boring from within. Europe is relatively free, with only two species of termites out of a world-total of 1,800 species.
Procreation is well provided for, and the termite, says Dr. Victor W. von Hagen (Scientific Monthly, July, 1942), "outrivals in fecundity any other terrestrial animal".

An African termite queen (living from 10 to 40 years) lays 6,000 to 7,000 eggs and day and may produce as many as 100,000,000 eggs during her productive life. True, not all eggs are hatched, as God, in his infinite capacity to preserve values, has seen fit to produce animals to feed upon the termites. Birds, frogs, lizards, and snakes help Providence to undo on the one hand what it has ordained on the other. Yet the termite does exceedingly well in spite of its numerous enemies.

"The termite organization", says Dr. von Hagen, "has been successful, and it has survived for millions of years", thus having, we may note, under the guidance of Providence, a somewhat longer lineage than the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

Someone has been quoted as saying that God must love the common man because he made so many of them. How much more, on the basis of numbers, must he love the termite. There is, of course no accounting for tastes.

AUTUMN foliage is now taking on its gorgeous coloration, and we will hear again the pious murmur:
"There must be a God!"

Nothing is said of the hot, dreary wastes of desert sand, or of the dull monotony of polar ice. It is enough that some Divine Artist enlivens our November leaves with bright and vivid colors. So, at least, the theist believes.

The green of summer has turned to orange, red, and rust, but it is a momentary splendor, followed by falling leaves and the killing blast of winter. Cold-winds and frost kill the leaves and strip the entire tree bare. As it is, there is nothing in God's program but a burst of color ending in crumpled leaves and bare trees,

It is a simple matter to science, this change of leaf coloration. "The yellow and orange pigments are less complex, chemically", writes Dr. Edwin B. Matzke, Department of Botany, Columbia University, "than the green chlorophylls, and they are also more stable. When the weather gets cold in the Fall, the green colors, which break down more easily, tend to disappear, and then the yellow and orange, which have been present all along but masked by the others, become visible."

Cold destroys the green pigment, "chlorophyll", quicker than the yellow pigment in the leaves and the "anthocyanins", which give them their flaming reds. It is merely a matter of the green pigment being less durable than the others when subjected to cold. There is no artist in the case, merely a change of color as simple as a man's hair turning from black to gray.

But the theist, who sees everything that isn't so, will continue to imagine a Master Painter with a brush and paint pot in his hand going the rounds when the Autumn weather arrives.

THE Roman Catholic Church is unique in many ways, but in none more than in its claim to material sovereignty. It is the only religion in the world that issues currency, prints postage stamps, and exchanges envoys to and from foreign powers. It is the only one, moreover, that maintains an army.

This army, small as it is, has recently been increased, as we learn from a news dispatch to the New York Times :
"For the first time, in seventy-three years--since 1870 -- the Palatine Guard of the Vatican today was ordered outside Vatican territory into Rome to protect Vatican possessions . . . It was announced that the Pontifical Military Guard, approximately 800 men of all services, had been augmented by another 2,500 all of whom are armed with the most modern equipment, replacing their principally symbolic halberts of peace days."

Tiny as this armed force is, it is nevertheless a symbol of Catholic sovereignty and temporal power, and may be enlarged, if, when, and as (in the language of legal documents) circumstances require.

Vatican City is a sovereign state, with subjects in all parts of the globe, residing in foreign states, but nevertheless subject to the jurisdiction and laws of the Papal Dictatorship. It is totalitarian in form, and has at its head a Supreme Dictator, who is accountable to no one but God, is himself infallible in faith and morals, and in matters of difference between his state and others must be regarded as always right in the eyes of his subjects.

The Pope can do no wrong, never makes a mistake, and knows always what is best for his subjects abroad, and demands at all times unqualified obedience!

Just now he is denouncing "atrocities", having never heard of the Spanish Inquisition, the expulsion of Jews from Spain, and the burning of heretics, all of which his Church sponsored, and is moving heaven and earth (which won't move) to stop the war. By talking to the air in a reverent manner he hopes to bring hostilities to a close, and when the war ends, as all wars eventually do, he will know that he played a tremendous part in the bringing about of peace, and everyone who eats his Jesus regularly, or as faithfully as he does his spinach, will think so, too. As for the politicians--leave it to them to tell the world how much we owe to Ratti of the Vatican.

"Israel as a nation has achieved no distinction whatever and has made no contribution whatever to human civilization. As a nation in the past, Israel was not one whit different' from numerous other little and equally insignificant nations. And nothing whatever suggests that, restored to national existence, Israel would be aught different from the many little insignificant, racial states which struggle desperately to maintain and to justify their national existence.''

No, it is not an "anti-Semite" speaking. It is Dr. Julian Morgenstern, President of Hebrew Union College, who is merely stating what every scholar knows who is not stultified by the ridiculous claims of Israelite propaganda.

S. Margoshes, who quotes the passage in an editorial in the Jewish newspaper "The Day", is highly incensed that a distinguished Jew should talk this way and labels the statement a "downright falsehood". "It was," says he, "under the Jewish State, that is, during the Jewish Nationhood in Palestine, that most of the books of the Bible were produced"--as if this were something of which to be proud.

It is to the holy book of the Jews that we owe most of our current superstitions, and if there is cause for rejoicing in this, Mr. Margoshes' ideas of gratitude differ from our own. The book is the worst contribution that semi-barbarism has given to the world.

Because of the Bible, science was throttled for hundreds of years, Galileo was made to recant, Spinoza was cursed by the synagogue and ostracized by Jews, and heretics died at the stake. Its pages are proof of the fact that the ancient Israelites were an ignorant and superstitious tribe, who believed in polygamy, human slavery, and animal sacrifice, and groveled in the basest superstitions. So long as the harem-king Solomon, the profligate David, and the rape-inspiring Moses are heroes of the Bible, there can be no incentive for a higher pattern of behavior.

The modern Jew who wishes to play a useful part in the life of the community will do well to discard Judaism, by forgetting the superstitions of the past, none of which has contributed either to his own enlightenment or to the progress of the world.

Dr. Morgenstern is correct and, while orthodox Jews may howl at him, he has placed his finger on the sore spot of Jewish life. Israel--we repeat his words--"has made no contribution whatever to human civilization."

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Vivisection, Euthenasia and Cremation

I HOLD in contempt those writers who decry vivisection, ignorant as they are that animal experimentation, under proper supervision, has contributed vastly to surgical and medical knowledge. It is better to experiment on lower forms of life than on human beings; better that rabbits, cats, and rats be sacrificed for the lessening of human misery than that knowledge stand still and humanity suffer.

The vivisectionist is the real and far-sighted humanitarian, who believes that the alleviation of human pain is infinitely desirable even if it must be procured at the expense of some pain to the lower animals.

Darwin, one of the kindest and most humane of men, wrote: "I quite agree that it [vivisection] is justifiable for real investigation on physiology." And again: "It is certain that physiology can progress only by experiments on living animals."

To the maudlin sentimentalists who wallow in remonstrances against vivisection, I recommend a reading of the article, "Vivisection" in the eleventh edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

NO society can consider itself civilized unless it practices euthenasia. We mercifully shoot or chloroform animals which have broken a spine or which are otherwise hopelessly stricken, but we are afraid to put out of their misery those human beings who suffer from some incurable disease. It is thought nobler in our present civilization to have such persons endure a slow and agonizing death.

It has been the practice of the church to fight euthanasia on the ground that we must wait until God "calls us home".

CREMATION is the clean, quick, sanitary method for the disposal of human remains. It permit the immediate disintegration of decomposing flesh, reducing, in a short time, to ashes and gas that which, if left to itself, must slowly decay. Esthetically, a crematory ending is infinitely superior to sealing a body in a casket and allowing it slowly to rot.

Opposition to the practice is largely of a religious character, based on the belief of a bodily resurrection, or on the false and pernicious sentiment that the act of burning human remains is "disrespectful" to the deceased.

Cremation is thus opposed by the Roman Catholic Church: "She holds it unseemly (says the Catholic Encyclopedia) that the human body, once the living temple of God . . . should finally be subjected to a treatment that piety, conjugal and fraternal love, or even mere friendship seem to revolt against as inhuman." Hell fire and damnation are not revolting to this tender-hearted church, but cremation is.

A Catholic by the name of O'Hara, writing on cremation in the Brooklyn Tablet, speaks of "the harrowing ordeal of destruction of the body by fire." He apparently does not know that dead bodies do not feel.

When, in its Inquisitional days, the Catholic Church committed living bodies to the flame, it did not talk about the "harrowing ordeal" of torturing individuals by fire. The burning of heretics alive was a Christian act, and everyone in the Church from the Pope down, glorified the faggot and the stake. Why, then, should O'Hara get excited now over reducing a dead body to ashes in a modern crematorium?

The disposal of human remains by the sanitary method of cremation, instead of by dressing them up in Sunday clothes and leaving them to rot in the ground, is the difference between science on the one side and medieval vulgarism on the other. Cremation has everything in its favor against the process of slow putrefaction, for in a few hours, it reduces 97 per cent of the body's weight to gas and 3 per cent to ash.

Moreover, when have Catholics expressed any moral indignation over the "harrowing ordeal" of roasting individuals in Hell-fire forever? It is beautiful, think Catholics, for their Heavenly Father to commit his children to eternal torture, but burning a dead body racks their moral nature. They are shocked beyond measure at the thought of burning a corpse.

If the anti-cremationist, Mr. O'Hara, is deeply concerned over the way men handle dead bodies, he may test his reflexes by reading the following from the ex-priest, Joseph McCabe :--
"In the year 896 there was witnessed in Rome a scene which fitly inaugurated one hundred and fifty years of such degradation as has never fallen upon any other religious organization in history. Stephen VI became Pope, after a bloody contest of the various factions. He ordered the body of one of his predecessors, Formosus, who had been several weeks buried, to be brought to the papal palace. The stinking corpse was clothed in the pontifical garments and propped in the throne. The august representative of Christ and the Holy Ghost, the channel of God's mercy to the human race, gathered his 'cardinals' (the name was already in use) and bishops round the ghastly object, and they vented upon it a fury such as one would hardly expect savages to show to a corpse. In the end they cut three fingers from the right hand of the putrid body, and flung it into the Tiber."

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The Miracle Joint At Lourdes

AN INDIGNANT physician called on the telephone the other day to tell us of an article in "Liberty" magazine for Feb. 21, 1942, dealing with the miracle shrine at Lourdes.

The article affects a skeptical air, yet is written in that familiar there-may-be-something-to-it style common in popular journalism, and is nicely calculated to tap religious gullibility. The author, Morris Markey, speaks of himself as "not a Catholic" but as "an agnostic". Any Catholic priest could have written the same kind of trash.

One of the "cures" mentioned by Mr. Markey is that of a Mlle. Delot, who had "a large cancer of the stomach" which was "inoperable and incurable". Immersed in the icy water at Lourdes, the lady "felt a moment of almost unbearable pain, and then suddenly felt herself glow with health. She cried out that she was cured." On examination, "her cancer had completely disappeared and had been replaced by healthy tissue."

The miracle shrine at Lourdes is just another Catholic fake. If the water had any medicinal properties (we leave its "miraculous" qualities to the dodos of superstition), what would be easier than to ship some of it to America for use in Catholic hospitals? Why should Catholic doctors here waste time with medicine?

According to Mr. Markey, "the cures most often reported are tuberculosis, blindness, cancer, and paralysis." If this be true, then why has not the Catholic Church shown a little decency by sending some of the famous water here for President Roosevelt's bath? We have just had a great national drive for funds to fight infantile paralysis, and here is a steady stream of "miraculous" water said to be flowing at the rate of a thousand gallons a day. If it will cure "blindness", too, a few buckets at least could be spared to put on the sightless eyes of some in our midst. As for cancer, why all our present research if the Catholic Church has a cure? A hundred and fifty thousand victims die of this dreaded disease each year in our own country alone.

Boiled down, what do the facts about Lourdes reveal? Merely that out of the millions of sick who are said to have visited the famous shrine (Catholics report as many as 55,000 in a single day), only an insignificant fraction, a pitiful handful, are even so much as "reported" cured. The vast bulk come away as sick as they arrived. And who "reports" the alleged cures? The priestly custodians of the Grotto and a few Catholic doctors whose faith in saints and miracles is greater than their understanding of science. There is not a reputable body of physicians today that would endorse the sacred joint.

"Only a very small percentage of the sick are cured," writes the Rev. Francis Woodlock, S.J., in a pamphlet issued by the Paulist Fathers. "Those who seem to have most faith have been passed over . . . Some big pilgrimages have no cures to record; at least one small pilgrimage [we are not told whether it consisted of 300, 30, or only 3 persons] had all its sick cured." And here we come to the most curious point of all, the phony "origin" of the water itself.

According to Catholic "tradition", the shrine was established by the Virgin Mary, who appeared, in a vision, to a poor and sickly peasant child, wandering in the woods. The child, Bernadette Soubirous, on seeing the "vision," rushed back to tell her priest what she had seen. The "beautiful Lady" wanted a church.

Bernadette (so the story runs) was bidden by the Virgin to scrape the hard, dry ground with her fingers and instantly water gushed forth, which soon became a steady stream. And did the Blessed Mother reward the sickly child? She did--by keeping her corpse from decay for thirty years after it was entombed. But in life, the water had failed to cure Bernadette of her chronic sickness. "She was from her birth till her death," says the Jesuit Francis Woodlock, "a constant invalid from asthma."

Yet what can one expect from the Neglectful Virgin, who, in answers to prayers, turns away pain-racked victims and "big pilgrimages" of sufferers who come to her shrine in the hope of being cured?

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The Fallacy of Free Will

A RE-READING, once a year, of Mark Twain's "What is Man?" might save some of our social uplifters from becoming confused and uttering nonsense on the subject of free will. The book is a materialistic and mechanistic interpretation of human behavior, written by a master craftsman. The brain, says Twain, "is merely a machine; and it works automatically, not by will power."

We are led to this remark after reading the "Official Statement of Priniciples of the Humanist Society of Friends," in which the following lines occur:

"Religious humanism then, is the broader sense, carries with it a definite faith in man as the director of his fate, founded upon the latest scientific conception of the universe and man's place in it."

Man is no more "the director of his fate" than the alley cat or the family gold fish, for he is subject, in every thing he does, to the laws of inheritance and to the chemical make-up of his bodily mechanism. He cannot transcend his biological limitations or rise above his inherent abilities.

There are thousands of ambitious persons today who would like to write with the ease and grace of Shakespeare, paint like Meissonier, sing like Caruso, play chess like Capablanca, possess the sparkling wit and genius of Voltaire. Then why don't they? Because, in spite of Henley's famous fallacy, "I am the captain of my soul," they cannot do what they would like to do: they are merely mess-boys, not captains, on their voyage through life. No matter how much they try, they are unable to touch the tiller of their lives or guide themselves to port.

But our pep-talk Humanists and "success" psychologists love to tell us that we can do whatever we "will" to do. Theirs is the chatter of the visionary, which would have even the moron believe he is "the director of his fate".

If the world ever wakes up - I am not at all convinced that it will - it will realize that human conduct is governed more by glandular secretions than by pretty preachments and "moral" platitudes. The rake, the pyromaniac, the swindler, the miser, the glutton, the hypochondriac are rarely amenable to sentimental slogans. The bully respects no one but the one who knocks him down. He is no more susceptible to "moral suasion" than the sluggard, the liar, and the cheat. Those who respond to "moral niceties" are those who have been conditioned to respond in that way. The "reformed" criminal is generally one who has discovered (in his own case, at least) that crime "does not pay". Those who find it does, keep merrily on, cracking safes until caught by the police. The pickpocket who "accepts" Jesus at last is usually the one who has grown gray in the art and lost his deftness at snatching watches. Criminals are generally religious, but our penal records show how little these men are influenced by a "fear" of God. Sunday school lessons, pulpit sermons, and threats of hell are rarely restraining forces in the lives of the religious criminal.

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A Columnist Barks Up The Wrong Tree

GEORGE E. SOKOLSKY, who writes for the New York Sun, hasn't an Irish name, yet he defends the Roman Catholic Hierarchy with the ardot of a Hibernian. Says Mr. Sokolsky:

"The Catholic Church needs no defense by me. It has survived for nearly two thousand years because it represents a discipled morality based upon the laws of God. Naturally the Church intervenes whenever a question of faith and morals arises."

Apparently Mr. Sokolsky has yet to learn that "the laws of God" are what the priests tell us they are. Often enough they express the wil of pious hoodlums. The expulsion of Jews from Spain, and the torturing of heretics by the Catholic Church were a part of "the laws of God" as decreed by the Vatican and executed by the "disciplined morality" of Roman Catholic priests. It was the Church's "disciplined morality" that gave us the Spanish Inquisition and such holy fete days as the Massacre of St. Bartholomew and the burnings of thousands at the stake. As for long-time "survivals", the cockroach has existed longer than the Church, and may even thrive long after Vatican City is a heap of dust. Under "the laws of God" it has existed for more millions of years than the Church can boast of in terms of centuries.

Sokolsky's pious flare-up and moral indignation at those who criticize Catholicism is a bit strained, coming from one who is "not a Catholic". He cannot "fathom" an article in the New Republic, which, mild though it is, hands the Catholic Church a well-deserved rebuke. We must be ready, says the article to which Mr. Sokolsky objects, "to take on in rough-and-tumble political combat those Catholics who attempt to coerce newspapers and producers of plays and pictures and public officials."

And why shouldn't we be ready to do this very thing? Those who blackmail or intimidate newspapers, lobby for special priveleges, hijack columnists like Sokolsky, and brow-beat public officials who stand in the way of the Church, are as beneficial to America as an importation of Asiatic rats. Would Mr. Sokolsky have us believe that he is actually in favor of Catholics who "coerce" newspapers?

The "disciplined morality" which the Catholic Church demands would make a Gestapo agent blush. Before me is a booklet bearing the saccharine title, "Assist the Souls in Pergatory", issued by a Benedictine convent and distributed to the faithful in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. Quite properly, it bears the "nihil obstat" and "imprimatur" of high functionaries of the Church. On page 6 is a bit of sadistic doctrine which may give even Mr. Sokolsky the creeps:

"Purgatory punishes, by tortures unknown to earth, the slightest stains of sin remaining upon the soul after death, and while punishing, purifies the soul from those stains. No human tongue can describe the intense pain which the suffering souls must endure in the process of purification. The Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, says: 'The least pain in purgatory is greater than the greatest suffering in this world.' And elsewhere he adds: 'The same fire torments the reprobate in hell and the just in pergatory.'"

The pamphlet next proceeds to tell us that Purgatory "is not a place of eternal pain, but will end at the last judgment" and that many souls are punished from twenty to sixty years and some "even longer". "The learned St. Robert Bellarmine and others held the opinion that there are some souls who will have to suffer in purgatory until the end of time", and "to the suffering souls, hours seem as years, and years as centuries."

And there is no relief, no respite from the torments in this torture chamber of God? There is, of course: you can give your "offerings" to the priest for the saying of masses for the dead, and so lighten the agony of those who plead to you: "Hasten, for we suffer unspeakable pains!"

Here at work are the same despicable institution, the same swindling priesthood, the same gang of divinely-ordained brigands holding their captive "souls" for ransom, in the manner of a Mongolian bandit or a Chicago kidnapper threatening to torture your loved one if your do not come across. And it works, works beautifully, this extortion, among the poor, benighted numskulls who have been intimidated by the Church. Only by bulldozing and terrorization does the Catholic Church flourish.

Heretofore, Mr. Sokolsky's forte has been in ferreting our political and bureaucratic abuses. Should he ever be looking about for another target on which to concentrate his remarkably fine talent for blasting at strongholds of corruption, he will find it readily enough in the day-to-day intrigues and political machinations of the Roman Catholic Church, whose subversive and coercive tactics are thoroughly known to every well-informed man. It is unthinkable, however, that he can ever engage in this type of writing for the New York Sun, whose attitude and editorial policy are Catholic and whose opinions, in all matters touching religion, are, from first to last, hog-tired by the Church. But if he cannot assail Catholic corruption himself, he should at least lay off those who do, and leave to others the rougher work he cannot do himself.

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Molasses or Vinegar?

FREETHINKERS are familiar with the pattern of reasoning employed by Mr. X. Here is a man, cultured and refined, who after discarding Christianity, has reasoned himself to the point where he can say, God is "not a fact". Yet he fears, or should we say, avoids the logical label. "I still say I am not an atheist and that I believe in God."

And why? Because B, a pious friend of his, thinks that atheists are scoundrels, and Mr. X believes he must cater to this numbskull to be a "regular fellow". And Mr. X says that I "overrate honesty". Maybe I do; but I have never underrated it.

But why should Mr. X kotow to B because B thinks that atheists are cutthroats and will steal his silverware? Why doesn't Mr. X enlighten B, if he can, or, better still, tell him to "go jump in the lake"? Are there no better men among whom he can be "a regular fellow"?

Mr. X says "atheist" is an offensive label and he will not bear it. If men had not taken on offensive labels in the past, where would we be today? Men have gone to the stake for even advocating "poetic" atheism like Mr. X's. But they made it "respectable" for those who came later.

I do not ask Mr. X to be "a martyr" or even a "militant rationalist" -- it is a matter of temperament -- but he might at least avoid the supercilious mannerism he displays to those who have made his liberties possible. "Truth needs no martyr", says he. Truth needs "martyrs" today as it never did before.

And who is the "mental undertaker" but he who buries the truth because he is unwilling "to take a stigma" on behalf of truth? Who is the "mental undertaker" but he who, having discovered that God is "not a fact", refuses to tell B about it and buries his convictions in order to be "a regular fellow"?

"God is a poem", says Mr. X. God is no more a poem than it is prose, or the arc of a circle, or a barn door. God is a word that stands for an invisible being in the sky, who, according to the Bible, will punish those who say he is "not a fact".

If our neighbors, says Mr. X, "seek knowledge in nature, in time they will see as deeply as we do." But will they? can he be sure about this? "Our neighbors" read delightful books on biology and astronomy, visit the Planetarium, join nature study clubs, hike to the country, study bugs, listen to "Information Please" -- and still swallow the Christian creed: still believe that Jesus rose from the dead and will greet them in heaven! Left to themselves, how many will reason themselves out of superstition? How many neighbors does Mr. X know who will agree with him that God is "not a fact"?

"As a courtesy to believers -- as good manners", says Mr. X, rationalists should so interpret God as not to offend "believers". "Courtesy"! "Good manners"! When did Christian bigots ever know the meaning of these words?

Does Mr. X know nothing of Christian literature: its scurrilities and lies about freethinkers; its deathbed "recantations"; its Billy Sundy gutterisms? Did he never hear of its maliciousness against Paine, Ingersoll and Voltaire? Has he never seen the splenetic and dyspeptic tracts issued by Christian "Truth" societies? "Good manners"! "Courtesy"! I smile. And I smile again when I am asked to be tender to the religious feelings of others. Not being a Christian, I do not turn the other cheeks. I am out -- and out openly -- to smack Christianity.

Mr. X finds "the atheistic ideal unreasonable because it is intolerant and doctrinaire; because it seeks to compel everybody to think in the same way". What does he mean by "compel"? Did any atheist ever "compel" him to say that God is "not a fact"? Where is the intolerance of atheism? Is the advocacy of atheism any different than the advocacy of any other doctrine? No one is compelled to be an atheist except by conviction.

But people are frequently "compelled" -- outwardly, at least - to be Christians. Isn't Mr. X afraid of Mr. B? Who is the "intolerant" one here but the bigoted Mr. B? He has sealed Mr. X's lips and made him hide his conviction that God is "not a fact". "Tolerance and good will are virtues", says Mr. X. Why doesn't he tell it to Mr. B?

Mr. X dislikes the title of my book, because it contains the word "Atheism". Yet that title has not debarred the book from prominent libraries. It is in the Congressional Library and the British Museum, in the libraries of Harvard and Yale. I have heard from men who have read it in as far away places as India, New Zealand, and Australia. A member of Parliament wrote to tell me he had read it in the Tasman Sea. And it had brought me intimate and flattering letters from men of the highest rank in the scientific world. I would not exchange these letters for a bag of gold. And I would not exchange them for the approbation and friendship of Mr. X's acquaintance, the bigoted Mr. B.

Let us forget my "poetic touches". I am not a poet. I merely gather and interpret facts and would not -- unless I were a Lucretius -- think of resorting to poetic imagery as a medium of expression. Those who read me will have to be content with the bluntness of my prose.

It is not often that I toss my personal correspondence into the spot-light of an open discussion, but Mr. X's second letter of criticism, like his first communication, published in the August, 1942, issue offers material that is, I believe, of general interest to rationalists. Because of this, and because the Truth Seeker is tolerant enough to grant a hearing to those who oppose its views, his letter appears.

Here is a man of amiable disposition who sees no justification for a militant attack on religious doctrines, especially when these doctrines are held by "nice" people, whose feelings may be hurt by sharp criticism.

I must remind Mr. X that it was he, not I, who introduced the character Mr. B, the religious blackguard who thinks that all atheists are cutthroats and will steal his silverware. Now he introduces another character, the well-mannered, gentle-minded believer, to whom we must assume "a mental attitude of kindness and tolerance".

The kindest service one man can render another is to help him dispel his illusions. Whenever I think of the great rationalists who have made our own age possible, I invariably recall the words of Professor Bury concerning Voltaire: "When a man has the talent to attack with effect falsehood, prejudice, and imposture, it is his duty, if there are any social duties, to use it." Voltaire accomplished his work, and accomplished it well, yet "no writer has ever roused more hatred in Christendom than Voltaire." But what does Christian "hatred" matter so long as men's minds are freed from superstition? And what is more gratifying to a man than to feel that he has been a little helpful to others in their struggle for enlightenment? One of the most gratifying letters I ever received was from a stranger who had studied for the ministry, and wrote: "I surely intend to look you up if only to grasp you hand and thank you for writing a book that really freed my mind of the absurd God-idea." Such a letter compensates for all the rancorous and embittered letters I receive from God's elect.

I have, throughout my life, been the recipient of many kindnesses from some who call themselves "Christians". But I have found that these kindnesses increase as their religious faith decreases. I am today, for example, a member of a society in England through the sponsorship of a clergyman of the established Church. He is more interested in science than in the crumbling creed of Christianity.

Mr. X is sorry that I have never met any "nice" believers, those who are different from the bigoted Mr. B. But I have. I have met them in their own homes -- and in mine -- and, on several occasions, have addressed them at their own church forums. On one occasion they were so nice that they wanted to oust their pastor for inviting me to speak. He had told me beforehand, in the privacy of his study, what he was up against. I was merely a "chestnut puller" for one who was sickened by their smug complacency and utter ignorance in matters of religion. He had tried the "soft" way, the delicate approach; now he wanted to "shake them up". He did -- but it almost cost him his pulpit job. They were all refined people, the kind that treat you with marked "tolerance" and courtesy when you address them from a platform, then take it out on their pastor's hide the moment you are gone.

Religion, by its very nature, cannot remain long tolerant of disbelief. The Truth Seeker through the years has often opened its pages to religionists, but where is the Christian journal today that will publish an article on atheism or a criticism of Christianity written by an atheist? "Tolerance", Mr. X, is not grounded in religious soil.

Militant rationalism is founded on solid experience. It does not expect to "make over" the world, but denies expediency of round-about, half-way measures. A proposition is either true or false. If God is "not a fact", He doesn't exist. Saying that God "is a poem", as Mr. X does, gets nowhere. Fuzzy language never helped to clear anyone's mind.

"I credit my liberties largely to Copernicus, Galileo, Bruno, Newton, Halley, Darwin, Huxley, and Haeckel", says Mr. X, but "not one of these called himself an atheist."

A man may eat beef all his life, without writing: "I am a beef eater." So with many of those who, by their life work, have rejected or undermined theism without calling themselves "atheists". These men, one and all, upset the apple-cart of faith. Because they did so, theism became, more and more, a discredited idea.

Copernicus and Galileo were "believing Catholics", says Mr. X. If they were, the Church didn't think so. It made a hell on earth for the first, and made the second recant, under threat of torture. Galileo was condemned by the Inquisition as "vehemently suspected of heresy". Does Mr. X think that either of these men could have long gone around with a placard on his neck, reading: "I am an atheist"?

As for Bruno . . . why dwell on the gruesome details? He was an atheist, fiery to the point of what Mr. X calls "hornet-minded". He paid for it with his life, and the whole world is indebted to him. "Mingled with his allegorical philosophy," says the Encyclopaedia Britannica, "are the most vehement attacks upon the established religion."

Newton did write "a religious book" (full of trash), but to which is Mr. X indebted: what Newton wrote on Bible prophecies or what he wrote on calculus? Mr. X, I understand, is a mathematician interested in astronomy. What did he ever get from Newton on the subject of religion? M. Biot has shown that Newton's theological writings were "the productions of his dotage." Newton's scientific discoveries helped to cripple theology.

Newton's friend, Edmund Halley, never wrote anything on religion, but he was refused the Savalian professorship at Oxford, says McCabe, "on the express ground of his rationalist opinions". He talked too much, it seems, and incurred the wrath of the gentle Mr. B. "That he was an infidel in religious matters," says Chalmers' Biographical Dictionary, "seems as generally allowed as it appears unaccountable."

Darwin (who never gave much attention to the subject of religion) fluctuated, in late life, between a tenuous theism and a solid atheism. In his lucid moments, he wrote atheistically : "The old argument from design in nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. We can no longer argue that, for instance, the beautiful hinge of a bivalve shell must have been made by an intelligent being, like the hinge of a door. There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings, and in the action of natural selection, than in the course which the wind blows."

Huxley (notwithstanding his shuffling "agnosticism") no more believed in God than I do myself. He wrote: "I know that I am, in spite of myself, exactly what the Christian would call, and, so far as I can see, is justified in calling, Atheist and infidel."

Haeckel was an atheist in spite of his pantheistic phraseology and poetic imagery. Says the Encyclopaedia Britannica (article "Haeckel"): "Haeckel was led to deny the immortality of the soul, the freedom of the will, and the existence of a personal God." This is the inevitable conclusion for anyone who has read Haeckel's writings. "The notion of a personal God," wrote he, "has entirely disappeared from anogics [the inorganic world], while it still persists, in defiance of all pure reason, in the vitalistic and teleological school of biology." Haeckel, like Darwin and Huxley, rejected the idea of "design" in nature. He was, moreover, a militant rationalist and was friendly to The Truth Seeker.

Ingersoll not only smacked the church, and smacked it hard, but, in a letter to Dr. Field, called himself "an atheist". (The full text of his letter is before me.) In his last public address, he said: "If matter and force are from and to eternity, it follows as a necessity that no God exists." He also said: "Religion can never reform mankind because religion is slavery."

To claim, as Mr. X does, that "Paine and Ingersoll were not of the Truth Seeker party" is mere shambling. It is even more: it is inexcusable in an educated man. Both these men were anti-Christian, both rejected the Bible, both scorned the shams and lies that this paper scorns. Ingersoll was not only a reader of The Truth Seeker but a contributor to its columns.

Paine professed a belief in God, but his "deism" never got him anywhere with the religious crowd. Those who love their neighbors as they do themselves did nothing but blacken his memory. It is the freethinkers who have kept his memory green and his books in print. What Christian outfit ever published "The Age of Reason"? For publishing this book, Eaton, a freethinker, "was condemned to eighteen months' imprisonment and to stand in the pillory once a month." Richard Carlile, another freethinker, spent three years in prison for publishing the work. They had offended Mr. B, the bigoted blockhead to whom Mr. X thinks we should show "a mental attitude of kindness and toleration".

"The relatively few men who meanly attacked Paine and Ingersoll are dead now, and I don't worry about their successors", says Mr. X. That's just the trouble: he should. Their "successors" have just succeeded in blocking a statue to Paine in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. Mr. X should trouble himself about this, as he does about the "martyrs" who made his liberties possible. The man who sponsored American Independence is dead, also. Erecting a statue to him would merely offend Mr. B and Christians like him. We must be nice to them, not give them offense. "The crime of ingratitude", wrote James Monroe, in a letter to Paine, "has not yet stained, and I trust never will stain, our national character." But it has. And Christian bigots are responsible for the stain.

Mr. X pleads for "kindness and tolerance" in presenting our views. "Kindness and tolerance" to whom? To the raw, insufferable gang that makes up our church racketeers, living on the plight of frightened men and women, starved in understanding and bedraggled in the rags of superstition? Come out of your complacency, Mr. X, and be "a regular fellow" among atheists. There is work to be done.

And my forte "is sedition", says Mr. X. Well, some of us are glad to be "seditionists", mindful, at least, that there are things worth fighting for in this whirligig world, among them the overthrow of superstition, with all its degrading and demoralizing doctrines. It is the "sedition" of rationalism that is helping men to think sanely in an insane world and lighten the load of popular ignorance. Whoever contributes to this effort, is conferring a benefit on others that far transcends the simple niceties and conventional kindness of the Ella Wheeler Wilcox creed.

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Evolution Implies Atheism

WHAT a book a devil's chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low, and horribly cruel, works of nature.
-- Charles Darwin

MAN, the highest form of evolutionary development is contesting his very existence against a world of deadly bacteria. Evolution produced the microbe as well as man. What intelligence is there in that? Would the reader use his intelligence to produce the cholera germ? And would he employ it to the point of turning out these filthy germs by the trillions?

Man plans. He would not, if he wished to make a human head, consume millions of years experimenting on the skulls of fishes. But that is how evolution works. Dr. W.K. Gregory of the American Museum of Natural History traces the evolution of the human face "from fish to man." It is a long drawn out, round-about process that no intelligent being would adopt. Time means nothing in evolution -- nor the result. There are, in the United States alone, a quarter of a million insane persons in public and private institutions. That is mental evolution after untold ages of cosmic evolution. Any man, if he had his way, could do better than that. Surely he would not, to demonstrate his goodness and wisdom, work overtime on infantile paralysis germs. Only forces blind to immediate and ultimate results could evolve such beings. Evolution means Atheism.

And man -- what of his evolution? Geologic ages spent in trees! An anthropoid ape walking on all fours, with ape brain and ape behavior and time as nothing in the long-drawn stretch of human evolution!

Human intelligence makes oxcarts before it makes automobiles, but it does not keep on making oxcarts after it has learned to make automobiles. Evolution is still busy turning out apes and billions of creatures far less lovely than the apes -- and doesn't know why. Priests in pulpits and monkeys in tree-tops still chatter nonsense after billions of years of evolution. No wonder Winwood Reade calls man's historic struggle upward "the martyrdom of man".

Piously-minded scientists who assure us that there is no conflict between religion and science are talking foolishness. If man is descended from an ape, he is not descended from Adam. There never was a first man any more than there was a first horse, a first cow, or a first stringbean. By slow stages our present forms of life have evolved from lower forms. Every biologist is aware than man's ancestry goes back to primitive apes and fishes. He was not made after the manner of the Bible fairy-tale. The cultured Chinese gentleman of today knows he is not descended from an original pair of Jewish parents.

Man did not come into the world ready-made; and his ancestral line must extend back by necessity to the lowest and most simple form of life. There can be no break in evolution, even in thought. It is impossible to imagine a point in man's evolution where one can say: "Man started here." The stages through which he passed have been long and varied and his own identity as a human individual must be imperceptibly blended in the ape form from which he emerged. As is scientifically known, man needlessly repeats in his embryonic development the successive stages of his animal descent. Sire Arthur Keith very forcibly remarks: 'What should we think of a builder who in the erection of a palace insisted on 'recapitulating' all the evolutionary stages which lie between a hut and a palace? A Builder behind evolution would be a stupid anarchist.

If mind is the highest development of life, and reason the highest expression of mind, there is little to be proud of. The substantial thinking of the world is done by less than one per cent of the population. Man, is spite of education, in spite of opportunities, in spite of progress, is chained to the past. The human brain is still dominated by the impressions of the cave and the jungle.

Most of us, mentally, are still living in the trees, even if we do walk upright. Beneath the veneer of "civilization," there is a solid, sordid mass of primitive psychology. We continue, in the name of justice, to break necks on the gallows and to fight like wolves. We settle our international differences by the methods of the gangster. That's evolution, with all its backward-dragging, disgusting hangovers from primitive culture. There are vestigial thoughts as well as vestigial organs. Man shares them all, because there is no supervising "intelligence" to eradicate them. Evolution spells Atheism -- a godless universe.

Evolution knows no moral feeling. The earth is a gory battle ground, where the weakest animals go to the wall in a pitiless struggle of tooth and claw. Evolution, century after century, repeats its own follies, by bringing into existence billions of the lowest types of life when it might produce only the highest; continues the production of useless and harmful organs; turns out beings, some of which live for only a day or an hour, or sometimes for only a few seconds. It is a ruthless, blundering, non-moral process, without a glimmer of guidance behind it.

"We must get rid of the great moral governor, or head director. He is a fiction of our brains." So wrote the American naturalist, John Burroughs. He had studied close to nature and knew there is no Kindly Eye, no Heavenly Father, back of the universe. "All the forces of nature are going their own way; man avails himself of them, or catches a ride as best he can. If he keeps his seat, he prospers; if he misses his hold and falls he is crushed."

There is not a third-rate intelligence on earth that could not, after ten minutes' contemplation, devise a better scheme of things. Man's life is largely consumed in improving his surroundings and adjusting the blunders of nature. Daily, hourly, he must employ his wits to untangle the snares of unthinking nature. It would take an intelligence below the level of a moron to carry on evolutionary processes as commonly observed. It has taken evolution, unguided by intelligence, countless ages to develop the simple, unattractive flower known as the wild rose. Evolution, with man's intelligence behind it, has, in a relatively short period of time, changed this simple flower, by artificial selection, into the glorious, multi-petalled American Beauty. That was intelligence behind evolution. Man has not only produced new species of flowers from wayside weeds, but given scent to odorless lilies and eliminated the thorns from raspberry and blackberry bushes. He has been able to evolve a spineless cactus, which, breeding true, now furnishes the desert with food for cattle. He has, by applying his intelligence to evolution, done in a short period of time that which evolution might have accomplished only after millions of years - or never at all. He has speeded up those processes which, under natural evolution, drag along hopelessly or reach an ultimate utility only after thousands of failures and unfavorable adaptations.

To be sure, there are countless facts in nature which imply Atheism independent of evolution and regardless of whether one creature or structure has evolved from another. The "cruelty" of the cat, the spider, or the tiger would be just as "cruel" -- and would imply Atheism -- even if these creatures had always been exactly what they are now. But there are other fats based upon an understanding of evolution that supplement ordinary observation of natural phenomena. Without the slightest knowledge of evolution, one might wonder at the ease and rapidity with which our "Heavenly Father," by means of an earthquake in Lisbon, wiped out 60,000 of his children in six minutes; but when this same Intelligence, in a burst of infinite wisdom, takes 3,000,000 years to change a four-toed extremity into a hoof (as in the evolution of the horse's foot) we are led to marvel, not so much at the Deity's stupidity as at the asininity of the pious dolts who teach the existence of a god.

The God idea cannot be reconciled with our knowledge of evolution. Belief in a Ghost directing the universe must be discarded along with the belief in witchcraft, the sanctity of the snake-dance, and the rituals of voodooism.

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Friends and Colleagues