Subjects (abstracts): Cicero; Resurrection; Fiction; Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls; Holbach; Popular Freethought in America, 1825-1850; Robert Taylor; Winwood Reade; Nietzsche; Mencken
[Cicero 106 - 43 B.C.E.]
from: Intellectual Life in the Late Roman Republic, Elizabeth Rawson, John Hopkins U., 1985.
"Chapter One Romans and Greeks: a closer acquaintanceship
The first great intellectual flowering at Rome came in the fifties and forties B.C. Two of the great works singled out by Vitruvius,1 Cicero's De Oratore and Lucretius' scientific poem, were written in the earlier decade, and the third, Varro's De Lingua Latina, in the later....The ills of the Republic stimulated attempts to analyze what had gone wrong or to try to find a cure: by considering the proper training for the statesman and orator, as Cicero did....Even Lucretius was inspired in part by revulsion from the political life of his day....In the forties Caesar's dictatorship favoured learning and the arts, and indeed began to give Greek intellectuals Roman citizenship, but it drove Cicero and Varro, and probably others (including perhaps the budding philosopher Sextius), into private life and authorship. Cicero claims to have inspired others to write, and urges friends in his letters to do so; Varro undoubtedly had a similar influence." ["3"].
"Chapter Twenty Theology and the Arts of Divination
....It was an article of faith with the Romans that they were the most religious of all peoples, and that this was the reason for their success. But their religion was by now a complicated amalgam [see #3, 85 (amalgam, etc.)]. Early Rome seems to have known many gods, some of them bare hypostatisations [see #3, 46, 67] of processes and functions of all kinds; there was little mythology, but complex ritual on which the welfare of the community, even more than of individuals, depended. Thus religion and politics were allied, and the same persons responsible for both." ["298"].
from: Beautiful Thoughts from Latin Authors, Craufurd Tait Ramage, second edition, "Classical quotation is the parole
["password" (O.E.D. [quotes this
quotation, and dates it "1781"]). A Dictionary of the English
Language, by Samuel Johnson [1709 - 1784] (Dr. Johnson),
1755, and 1832, has: "Word given as an assurance; promise given by
a prisoner not to go away."
of literary men all over the world."Dr. Johnson. Edward Howell, 1869, 42, 46.
"Nor am I able to agree with those who have begun to affirm that the soul dies with the body, and that all things are destroyed by death. I am more inclined to be of the opinion of those among the ancients [Pythagoreans], [....] who used to maintain that the souls of men are divine, and when they leave the body they return to heaven, and those who are the most virtuous and upright have the most speedy entrance [proto- purgatory?]."
[Cicero: "Amicit. 23."]
"If a man could mount to heaven, and survey the mighty universe with all the planetary orbs, his admiration of their beauties would be much diminished, unless he had someone to share his pleasure."
from: Cicero, in Twenty-Eight Volumes, XX, De Senectute [On Old Age], De Amicitia [On Friendship], De Divinatione, English Translation by William Armistead Falconer, Harvard U., Heinemann, MCMLXXI.
["De Senectute, xxiii. 84-85"]
"For these reasons, Scipio, my old age sits light upon me (for you said that this has been a cause of wonder to you and Laelius), and not only is not burdensome, but is even happy. And if I err in my belief that the souls of men are immortal, I gladly err, nor do I wish this error which gives me pleasure to be wrested from me while I live. But if when dead I am going to be without sensation (as some petty philosophers think), then I have no fear that these seers, when they are dead, will have the laugh on me!" . [proto-Christian?].
from: Cicero, Chapters by H.H. Scullard, T.A. Dorey, R.G.M. Nisbet, A.E. Douglas, G.B. Townend, M.L. Clarke, J.P.V.D. Balsdon, Edited by T.A. Dorey, Basic Books, 1965.
"No one has shown Cicero's views to be false or pernicious: it is enough that they are 'unoriginal', for the modern age will always prefer originality, however shallow, bizarre, or perverse, to tradition, however sane, wise, and true." . [A.E. Douglas].
"Tireless energy and a disinclination for idle relaxation were qualities of many outstanding Romans, and nothing is more remarkable about Cicero than the fact that he was never idle.23" . [J.P.V.D. Balsdon].
from: A Rationalist Encyclopaedia, a Book of Reference on Religion, Philosophy, Ethics, and Science, Joseph McCabe, Watts, 1950 (1948).
["CICERO, Marcus Tullius (10643 B.C.)."] 'Prof. G. Boissier, observes that "the NOBLE HOPES OF IMMORTALITY with which he [Cicero] fills his works never come to his mind in his misfortunes and perils; he SEEMS TO HAVE EXPRESSED THEM ONLY FOR THE PUBLIC" (Ciceron et ses amis, 1875, p. 59).' .
[comment: common problems: What does the person "really" (privately) feel? think? What does the person privately say? write? What are the private actions?].
["Resurrection, The."]'....the idea of the restoration to life of a slain god was familiar in every Greek and Roman city. Augustine [354 - 430] himself describes how not only the adherents of the cult, but the whole city, followed the "holy Week" [see] ceremonies of the religion of the Great Mother with its Day of Blood (Good Friday) and Day of Rejoicing at the restoration of the god to life. [See Attis and Adonis.] Jerome [c. 345 - 420] tells, in his Commentary on Ezekiel, VIII, 14 (Migne, XXV, Vol. 82), how the birth and resurrection of "the lover of Venus" were annually celebrated in Syria; and in his letter to Paulinus (XXII, col. 581) he says that the cave at Bethlehem, which is now the lucrative "birth-place of Jesus," was formerly the temple in which the death and resurrection of Adonis or Tammuz were celebrated....' .
[See: Holbach, 241 (#23, 475)].
[See (Cicero): #2, 19; #5, 160-161; #13, 270, 287; #21, 419].
[See (Resurrection): #3, 45; #15, 339; #17, 360-362].
from: Religious Studies, Vol. 27, Number 3, September, 1991, Cambridge U. Press, Robert M. Price, "Is There A Place for Historical Criticism?" ["371"].
[Note: in this article, the author is a sophisticated Christian apologist].
"I invite the reader to open his New Testament to this text ["John 20:38" (see below)] and compare it to a passage from CHARITON'S CHAIREAS AND KALLIRROE, A FICTION NOVEL WRITTEN PROBABLY IN THE FIRST CENTURY B.C. It concerns a girl, mistakenly entombed alive, who has been removed by grave robbers.
OF COURSE I AM NOT SUGGESTING THAT JOHN OR THE OTHER EVANGELISTS USED THIS NOVEL AS A SOURCE. I mean only to show that vivid descriptions of empty tombs and abandoned graveclothes prove nothing about 'eyewitness authorship' since we find them also in AN ADMITTED WORK OF FICTION." .
from: Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls, James H. Charlesworth, With Internationally Renowned Experts, Doubleday, 1992.
"16. The Qumranites (and Essenes, if these groups are different) existed during the time of the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth [no Nazareth! see #20, 405] (2630 C.E.). But NONE OF THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS ["the documents...date from the mid-3rd century BC to AD 68" (Encyc. Brit.)] REFER TO him [JESUS], AND THEY DO NOT MENTION ANY FOLLOWER OF JESUS DESCRIBED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT." [xxxv]. [See: #21, 412 (Sandmel)].
[Note: Qumran = c. 14 map miles from Jerusalem (c. 1400 map miles from Rome [much water!])].
from: Baron Paul Tiry d'Holbach [1723 - 1789] Ecce homo! ['"Behold the man!"'(John 19:5)] An Eighteenth Century Life of Jesus, Critical Edition and Revision of George Houston's Translation from the French, Andrew Hunwick (Editor) [a tour de force!], Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin · New York 1995 (1827 English) (1813 English) (1799 English) (1770 French).
[received, and first seen, 12/4/97]. [a phenomenal Classic!].
"3. D'Holbach and religion
ALL RELIGION, D'HOLBACH HELD, IS AN ILLUSION, BASED ON FEAR AND IGNORANCE. Primitive people ascribed natural calamities to the whim and anger of some force in the sky, endowed with human feelings of love, hatred, greed, or vindictiveness. In superstitious and blind terror, they sought to appease the unknown power,53 eventually perceived as an all-powerful monarch of earth and skies, by offering sacrifices. Rational thought was set aside; as mediators between themselves and the 'divinity', people accepted priests,54 who thereupon enlisted the aid of secular authorities to reduce the 'faithful' to a state of servitude.55 For D'Holbach, priests symbolized deception and oppression, and were the source of social, moral, and even economic ills: he declared in 1773 that the State should confiscate the church's accumulated wealth,56 disproportionately great in relation to the clergy's contribution to the common good [compare: Benito Juarez 1806 - 1872 (President of Mexico 1858 - 1872)].57" [10-11].
"It appears...that the author, be it D'Holbach or another, was guilty of plagiarism.77 The Préface, apart from some sixteen sentences, and the last three chapters (XVI, XVII, XVIII) are by D'Holbach [?]. The rest, however, roughly three-quarters of the printed book, is largely based on another work, one known manuscript copy of which survives, entitled Histoire critique de Jésus fils de Marie,78 tirée d'ouvrages authentiques par Salvador, juif79 ["79 'This attribution is evidently a fabrication....'"] et traduite par un Français réfugié."
"78[Critical History of Jesus, son of Mary, drawn from authentic documents, by Salvador, a Jew, and translated by a French refugee]...." [14-15].
"there have been three editions [1799, 1813, 1827] of an English translation, under the title Ecce homo! The translator is identified as George Houston [? -1840?],158....The Newgate monthly magazine records that 'about the year 1813, a Mr Houston, the author of Ecce Homo, suffered two years' imprisonment in Newgate and was fined two hundred pounds, for that work.'159" .
[See: Popular Freethought in America, 1825-1850 (#23, 476 (George Houston))].
"Although this edition [Ecce homo 1813] bears his imprint, in 1813 the publisher Daniel Isaac Eaton ( [dagger = death (cause?) date] 1814) was actually in Newgate Prison, having been 'jeered on the pillory' on 6th March 1812 for having published part III of Thomas Paine's Age of Reason in London the year before." .
"[....It is through mysteries that minds are conditioned to respect religion and its teachers.] We may therefore suspect that these writings were intentionally rendered obscure. [In religion it is advisable never to speak very distinctly. Truths, simple and easily understood, do not strike the human imagination in so lively a manner as ambiguous oracles and impenetrable mysteries. Moreover] Jesus Christ, [although he came on purpose to enlighten the world], was to be a stumbling block2 to most people. The small number of the chosen, [the difficulty of salvation, and the danger of exercising a reason are everywhere announced in the gospel. Everything, in short, seems indeed to demonstrate that God has sent his dear Son to the nations only to ensnare them, and so that they should not comprehend any part of the religion which he meant to promulgate. In this the Eternal appears to have intended to throw mortals into darkness, perplexity, a diffidence of themselves, and a [sic] endless uncertainty, obliging them to have continual recourse to the infallible enlightenment of their priests, and to remain for ever under the tutelage of the church. Her ministers, we know, claim the exclusive privilege of understanding and explaining the holy scriptures, and no mortal can expect to obtain future felicity if he does not pay due submission to their decisions....]" ["39"-40].
[from footnote 1] "Passages enclosed in square brackets are those added by D'Holbach to his manuscript source". ["39"].
[Note: Holbach, a progenitor of bracket usage].
"We shall contemplate in its cradle a religion [Christianism ("Christianity")] which, at first destined solely for the vilest populace of a nation, the most abject, the most credulous, and the most stupid on earth,13 became, little by little, mistress of the Romans, the firebrand of nations, the absolute sovereign of European monarchs, arbiter of the destiny of Kingdoms, the cause of their friendship, and of their hate". .
"THE GOSPEL IS MERELY AN EASTERN ROMANCE, REPELLENT TO ANY PERSON OF COMMON SENSE, and apparently addressed only to the ignorant, the stupid, and the dregs of society,14 the only persons whom it can attract.15 ....Four men, unpolished and devoid of letters,16 pass for the true authors of memoirs containing the life of Jesus Christ; and it is on their testimony, that Christians believe themselves bound to receive the religion they profess, and adopt, without examination, the most contradictory statements, the most amazing prodigies, the most unconnected system, the most unintelligible doctrine, and the most revolting mysteries!" [45, 46].
"Supposing, however, that the gospels in our hands are in fact by the authors to whom they are attributed, or in other words, that they were in reality written by apostles or disciples of apostles, should it not follow from this alone that their testimony ought to be suspect? Could not men, who are described as ignorant, and destitute of learning, themselves have been deceived? Could not enthusiasts and very credulous fanatics imagine that they had seen many things which never existed, and thus become the dupes of deception?17 Could not impostors, strongly attached to a sect whereby they subsisted, and which therefore they had an interest in supporting, have attested miracles, and published facts, with the falsehood of which they were well acquainted?18 and could not the first Christians, by a 'pious fraud',19 afterwards add or remove things essential to the works ascribed to the apostles? It is at least certain that Origen [c. 185 - c. 254], as early as the third century,20 complained loudly of the corruption of manuscripts. 'What shall we say', says he, 'of the errors of transcribers,21 [21see below] and of the impious temerity with which they have corrected the text? What shall we say of the licence of those who promiscuously interpolate or erase at their pleasure?'22" [46-47].
[from footnote 21] "'Origen [himself] is notorious in this regard, for he seldom quotes a passage twice in precisely the same words' (Metzger [Text...New Testament, 1968], p. 87)." .
"Christians, docile and full of faith, have had the amazing fortune to see the founder of their religion predicted in the clearest manner all through the Old Testament; by dint of allegories, images, interpretations, and commentaries, their doctors have brought them to see in this shapeless compilation everything in it that they had an interest in pointing out to them. When passages taken literally did not coincide with their views, they contrived for them a twofold sense;17 they pretended that it was not necessary to take them literally, but to give them a mystical, allegorical, and spiritual meaning. To explain, therefore, these pretended predictions, they continually substituted one name for another; they rejected the literal meaning, in order to adopt a figurative one; they changed the most standard meanings of words; they applied the same passages to totally different events; they removed the names of the personages who were clearly meant, in order to put in their place that of Jesus; and in all this, they shamelessly and most blatantly abused the principles of language." .
"[....When theologians dispute, we soon discover that the wranglers on both sides talk nonsense; and by contradicting themselves, impugn their own authority.]37" .
"Thus, from whatever point of view we contemplate the matter, it will remain a decided fact that THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS, far from being founded on solid proofs, unexceptionable testimony, and respectable authority, is OBVIOUSLY ESTABLISHED ON FALSEHOOD AND KNAVERY, which we see pervading every page of the discordant narratives of those who have supposedly vouched for it.
[THE "STORY-TELLERS"] After having revived and shown their hero [Jesus], we know not how often, to his trusty disciples, in the end for all that [pause] it was necessary to make him disappear altogether, that is, SEND him [JESUS] BACK TO HEAVEN, IN ORDER TO CONCLUDE THE ROMANCE." .
[from footnote 19] "Note by D'Holbach: The fable of the ascension of Christ has clearly been borrowed from that of the ascension of Romulus and Julius Caesar, which Lactantius [c. 250 - c. 325 ("Christian apologist")] however finds quite ridiculous. [Lactantius (Divine institutions 1:15 [PL 6:200201]) records that the divinity of Romulus was accepted in Rome on the testimony of Julius Proculus, while Julius Caesar was deified through the offices of Mark Antony, from motives of guilt.]" .
"platonism [Plato c. 428 - c. 348 B.C.E.] may be regarded as the source of several of the principal dogmas, and several mysteries of the Christian religion.32"
"37 Note by D'Holbach: 'Martyr' in Greek means 'witness'. But with the exception of the apostles, whose actions have come down to us only through the forgers of legends, what kind of testimony for JESUS could be given by people who had never seen him, and who could only know him from the STORIES TOLD THEM BY PREACHERS, who derived what they themselves knew only FROM A VERY SUSPICIOUS TRADITION? A martyr is, therefore, for most people, merely a fool, duped by a knave whose object was to establish a SECT, and who himself was frequently punished for his pains." .
"Constantine [Emperor 306 (312) - 337], to strengthen himself first against Maxentius, and thereafter against Licinius, thought it in his interest, by a stroke of policy, to entice all the Christians over to his party.1 For this purpose he openly favoured them, and thereby reinforced his army with all the soldiers from that numerous sect. In gratitude for the advantages they procured for him, he finally embraced their religion, now become so powerful. He honoured, distinguished, and enriched the Christian bishops, well assured of attaching them to himself by his liberality to their pastors and the favoured [favours] he shewed them. Aided by their support, he flattered himself that the flock [Christian(s)] was at his disposal.2" ["263"]. [See (Constantine): #22, 440].
"23 Note by D'Holbach: A Scotsman [John Craig, 1731] has published [1699, London: Child BL 4° 873.k.17°] a book entitled Theologiae christianae principia mathematica [The mathematical principles of Christian theology], in which he seeks to prove that everything based on human testimony, whether inspired or uninspired, is no more than probable, and that its probability diminishes in proportion as humankind recedes from the lifetime of the witnesses in whose testimony they believe. On this principle, he makes an algebraic calculation, according to which he affirms that the Christian era will probably endure another 1454 years, after which its probability of survival will be reduced to nothing....IF GOD BECAME TIRED OF THE JEWISH RELIGION, WHY SHOULD HE NOT GROW WEARY OF CHRISTIANITY? [....(according to his formulae, the probability [see #6, 179 (probabilities)] of the historicity of Jesus vanished around the year 800).]" .
[See (Holbach): #3, 83, 100, 102; #21, 419].
from: Popular Freethought in America, 1825-1850, Albert Post, Octagon, 1974 (c1943 Columbia U.).
[this reference, thanks to Freethought In the United States, A Descriptive Bibliography, Marshall G. Brown and Gordon Stein, Greenwood, 1978, "31"].
"Among these sceptical immigrants was George Houston [? - 1840?], the editor of the Correspondent. Houston had suffered imprisonment in Newgate for two years and a fine of two hundred pounds for publishing a translation of d'Holbach's Histoire de Jésus Christ under the title Ecce Homo; he printed two editions, one at Edinburgh in 1799 and the other in London in 1813, and for the latter he was prosecuted and sentenced.43 ["43J.M. Robertson, A History of Freethought in the Nineteenth Century (London, 1922 ), pp. 57, 61...."]." .
"Freethinkers were not chary in their use of violent language. Like many extremists [sic!] [who have been "doomed...to hell", etc.] they realized that only violent language would bring their views to the attention of the public. This feeling was given expression by William Sinclair in his views on the Old Testament:
from: A Rationalist Encyclopaedia, A Book of Reference on Religion, Philosophy, Ethics, and Science, Joseph McCabe, Watts, 1950 (1948).
"Taylor, Robert (17841844), writer. A surgeon who in a mood of piety took orders in the Church of England, but was converted to Deism by a parishioner....The distress of his mother caused him to return to the Church, but he was expelled because of the advanced Rationalism of his sermons. He founded a Deistic chapel and was twice sent to prisonfor a year in 1826, and for two years, with a fine of £200, in 1831for blasphemy [see #2, 25-26]....the very large amount of research in his Syntagma of the Evidences of the Christian Religion (1828) and Diegesis (1829), made them valuable quarries for Rationalist critics for half a century. It is advisable to check his quotations before using them." .
from: The Encyclopedia of Unbelief, Gordon Stein, Editor, Volume Two, L-Z, Prometheus, 1985.
["Taylor, Robert (17841844)"] "The time spent at Oakham [Gaol] was among the most productive in Taylor's life. He wrote two books, Syntagma of the Evidences of the Christian Religion (1828) and The Diegesis (1829), both published in London by his friend RICHARD CARLILE. The Syntagma was a reply to an attack made by the Rev. John Pye Smith upon the principles of the Christian Evidence Society. In effect, Taylor defended the printed Manifesto of the Christian Evidence Society against Smith's charges. The Manifesto had stated the following propositions: (1) the scriptures of the New Testament were not written by the persons whose names they bear; (2) they did not appear in the times to which they refer; (3) THE PERSONS OF WHOM THEY TREAT NEVER EXISTED; and (4) the events they relate never happened. The Diegesis, a work of over 500 pages, attempted to examine all the writings extant from the first two centuries of the Christian era for information on the origins of Christianity. The many quotations in the book were all [?] made by Taylor from memory, since he had few reference books available in prison. Although there are occasional errors in the book, it is a remarkable piece of scholarship, given the conditions under which is was written." .
'After more than a year of his weekly lectures (published by Carlile in weekly numbers, 1829-30, under the title The Devil's Pulpit), Taylor was again charged with blasphemy [see #2, 25-26] for some remarks made in his Good Friday and Easter Sunday "sermons." Again Taylor defended himself (1831), and this time the jury took only seven minutes to reach its verdict. He was sentenced to two years in the Horsemonger Lane jail.
This jail experience was very unpleasant for Taylor. Although there is no real record of what happened, it is known that he was not allowed books or writing materials and that visitors could not come closer to him than six feet. Taylor emerged from prison a changed and shattered man and broke with his friend Carlile.'
'In summary: Robert Taylor was one of the first well-educated and scholarly men to write and lecture for unbelief. As such, he brought a new respectability and prestige to the field. People were no longer ashamed to be seen attending an "infidel" lecture. His writings are no longer read much, but they form an interesting chapter in the discussion of the historicity of Jesus....' . [Gordon Stein].
from: Syntagma of the Evidences of the Christian Religion, Being a Vindication of the Manifesto of the Christian Evidence Society Against the Assaults of the Christian Instruction Society, Rev. Robert Taylor; reprint: Kessinger, n.d. (1828). [a Classic!].
"The Publisher to the Reader.
Thou hast in this Pamphlet all the sufficient evidence, that can be adduced for any piece of history a thousand [?] years old, or to prove an error of a thousand [?] years standing, that SUCH A PERSON AS JESUS CHRIST NEVER EXISTED; but that the earliest Christians meant the words to be nothing more than a personification of the principle of reason, of goodness, or that principle, be it what it may, which may most benefit mankind in the passage through life.
England, Oakham Jail, May, 1828." ["Preface"].
"Have I not maintained that Christianity is the greatest curse that ever befel the human race? Have I not laid out my life, and my life's energies, to deliver and emancipate men's minds from the dreadful influence of that curse?" .
"I have not here* ["*Here in the Oakham Gaol, being a prisoner of Jesus Christ. Some apology I hope for the deficiency!"] the means of knowing". .
"The claims of the scriptures, therefore, in any existing version of them, to resemblance or identity with their original, God only knowing what that original may have been, seems to be much in the same predicament as that of the Irishman's knife, which had unquestionably descended from the first king of Connaught, though it had had seventy thousand new blades, and fifty thousand new handles." .
"And here am I the tenant of a gaol, at this moment, because my writings have not made concessions enough to Christianity to have been pleaded in mitigation of punishmentbecause my orations afforded no 'vantage ground to the tact of CHRISTIAN SOPHISTRY." .
"There is a passage in Cicero [De Natura Deorum, III. xvi. 41] , written forty years before the birth of Christ, in which he ridicules the doctrine of transubstantiation, and asks how a man can be so stupid as to imagine that which he eats to be a God?" .
'says Ephiphanias [Epiphanius c. 315 - 403]"All the heresies [includes Christianism ("Christianity")] were derived from the Greek fables," that is, in other words, there is cheating in every trade but ours.' . [See (Greek influence): #22, 464-466].
from: The Diegesis Being A Discovery of the Origin, Evidences, and Early History of Christianity, Never yet Before or Elsewhere so Fully and Faithfully set Forth, By the Rev. Robert Taylor, Founder of the Christian Evidence Society and of the Society of Universal Benevolence; reprint: Kessinger, n.d. (1829). [a Classic!].
"Robert Taylor A.B. Prisoner Oakham Gaol, Feb. 19, 1829" [iv].
"THE MISERABLE AND THE WRETCHED ALWAYS SEEK TO CONSOLE THEMSELVES FOR THE ABSENCE OF REAL ADVANTAGES, BY AN IMAGINARY COUNTERBALANCE OF SPIRITUAL PRIVILEGE." .
from: The Astronomico - Theological Lectures, of the Rev. Robert Taylor, B.A., of St. John's College, Cambridge; Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, Author of the "Devil's Pulpit," "Diegesis," "Syntagma," &c., "It is those alone who love knowledge, who follow reason as the supreme guide, and seek truth as the great end, to whom I appeal.", Boston: Published by J.P. Mendum, at the Office of the Boston Investigator, n.d. [Introduction: "New-York, 1857 B."]. Richard Carlile, 1831.
[complex bibliography]. [a Classic!].
"And though you should be 'a scholar, and a ripe and good one,' with all advantages that education and learning can confer on man, as familiar with the text of the original Greek, as with your mother tongue; the most illiterate bungling ass, the smutched artificer, the dirty kern, the cobbler from his lapstone, the weaver from his loom, having once given his mind to religion, will expect that your understanding should submit to his; and that you should receive not merely the text he quotes, but whatever sense he choses [sic] to understand, or to misunderstand, from it. So that the Sun itself is not more apparent in the Heavens, than is the fact, that RELIGION IS NOTHING MORE THAN THE MOODY MELANCHOLY OF AN OVERBEARING AND TYRANNICAL DISPOSITION; AND YOUR RELIGIOUS MAN, NOTHING MORE THAN AN USURPING, SAUCY KNAVE, WHO WANTS TO BE YOUR MASTER." .
"Dreams the crackt fool of his superiority to the brute creation, and that when he dies there shall be not as sheer and final an end of him as of them? And is he not himself an Infidel and an unbeliever in that very text of God's words, which saith, and which hath the testimony of his own reason, and of his own senses, and of all nature, and the experience of all time, and of all places, and of all men in all the world, in attestation of what it saith? 'That which befalleth the sons of men, befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them. AS THE ONE DIETH, SO DIETH THE OTHER: yea, they have all one breath: so that a man hath no pre-eminence about a beast: all go unto one place: all are of the dust: and all turn to dust again.' Eccles. iii. 12 [19-20]." [23-24].
"Can we wonder that Christians should have been as they at this day are, and in all ages of the world ever have been, the most wicked, fraudulent, barbarous and cruel of all that were ever in the world, when we see in their very gospel itself the doctrines, the examples, the precepts, that could have no other possible tendency than to make them such." .
"wherever the name God, or Lord God, or the Almighty occurs, either in the Old or New Testament, from beginning to end,it is the person of the astronomic priest himself that is alone intended. And if you would take your Bibles, and with your pens erase the words God, or Lord, whenever they occur, and write priest, or bishop, instead, and read it with that clue, you would discover what otherwise you must be forever ignorant ofits true meaning." .
"The whole argument, then, of terror and danger, which the priests denounce against unbelievers, is the danger and terror to themselves. Their 'He that believeth not shall be damned,' when interpreted to its real meaning, means no more than DN THEM THAT DON'T DEAL AT OUR SHOP." .
[See (Robert Taylor): #1, 15, 16; #3, 86, 95, 100; #22, 421, 462].
from: The Christ, A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidence of His Existence, John E. Remsberg [Remsburg], Prometheus, 1994 ("The Truth Seeker", 1909).
'"Christians believe themselves to be the aristocracy of heaven upon earth, they are admitted to the spiritual court, while millions of men in foreign lands have never been presented. They bow their knees and say they are 'miserable sinners,' and their hearts rankle with abominable pride. Poor infatuated fools! Their servility is real and their insolence is real but THEIR KING [JESUS] IS A PHANTOM and their palace is a dream."Winwood Reade.' .
'Of the ambiguity of Egypt's religion, and the mutability of the gods, that brilliant young Englishman, Winwood Reade, thus writes: "....The [Egyptian] men are dead, and the gods are dead. Naught but their memories remain. Where now is Osiris, who came down upon earth out of love for man, who was killed by the malice of the evil one, who rose again from the grave and became the judge of the dead? Where now is Isis the mother, with the child Horus in her lap? THEY ARE DEAD; they are gone to the land of the shades. TO-MORROW, JEHOVAH, YOU AND YOUR SON [JESUS] SHALL BE WITH THEM."' .
[Winwood Reade 1838 - 1875. Writings include: The Martyrdom of Man, 1872 (a Classic!) (source of the preceding (481) quotations. see 517-521); The Outcast, 1874].
Excursus: from: H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy, Edited and Annotated by the Author, Vintage, 1982 (Knopf 1949).
From Prejudices: Third Series, 1922, pp. 232-37.
First printed in the Smart Set, March, 1922, pp. 41-42
Where is the graveyard of dead gods?" .
"Men labored for generations to build vast temples to them [gods]temples with stones as large as hay-wagons. The business of interpreting their whims occupied thousands of priests, bishops, archbishops. To doubt them was to die, usually at the stake. Armies took to the field to defend them against infidels: villages were burned, women and children were butchered, cattle were driven off. Yet IN THE END THEY ALL WITHERED AND DIED, and today there is none so poor to do them reverence." .
"What has become of Sutekh, once the high god of the whole Nile Valley? What has become of:
All these were once gods of the highest eminence. Many of them mentioned with fear and trembling in the Old Testament. THEY RANKED, five or six thousand years ago, WITH YAHWEH HIMSELF; the worst of them stood far higher than Thor. Yet THEY HAVE ALL GONE DOWN THE CHUTE, and with them the following:
Ask the rector to lend you any good book on comparative religion: you will find them all listed. They were gods of the highest dignityGODS OF CIVILIZED PEOPLESWORSHIPPED AND BELIEVED IN BY MILLIONS. All were omnipotent, omniscient and immortal. And ALL ARE DEAD." [96-98] [End of essay].
[See: Encyclopedia of Gods, Over 2,500 Deities of the World, 1992. Etc.].
from: The Antichrist, Friedrich Nietzsche [1844 - 1900], Translated and with an Introduction by H.L. Mencken [1880 - 1956], Noontide [controversial Press! "burned-down"once!], 1997 (Knopf 1920) ("Written in September 1888, and originally published in 1895 under the title Der Antichrist." ["4"]). [a Classic!].
["His [Nietzsche] father and his two grandfathers were Lutheran ministers." (Collier's Encyc.)].
'The Antichrist, writes Henry L. Mencken in the introduction, "is strident, it is often extravagant, it is, to many sensitive men, in the worst possible taste, but at bottom it is enormously apt and effectiveand on the surface it is undoubtedly a good show."' [back cover].
"What he [Nietzsche] flung himself against, from beginning to end of his days of writing, was always, in the last analysis, Christianity in some form or other" .
'Nietzsche had no interest whatever in the delusions of the plain people....It seemed to him of small moment what they believed, so long as it was safely imbecile. What he stood against was not their beliefs, but the elevation of those beliefs, by any sort of democratic process, to the dignity of a state philosophywhat he feared most was the pollution and crippling of the superior minority by intellectual disease from below. His plain aim in "The Antichrist" was to combat that menace by completing the work begun, on the one hand, by Darwin and the other evolutionist philosophers, and, on the other hand, by German historians and philologians. The net effect of this earlier attack, in the eighties, had been the collapse of Christian theology as a serious concern of educated men. The mob, it must be obvious, was very little shaken; even to this day it has not put off its belief in the essential Christian doctrines.' [18-19].
"the theology of Christianity had...sunk to the lowly estate of a mere delusion of the rabble, propagated on that level by the ancient caste of sacerdotal parasites". .
"THE MAJORITY OF MEN PREFER DELUSION TO TRUTH. IT SOOTHES. IT IS EASY TO GRASP." .
"The forgotten ideas are those of the men who put them forward soberly and quietly, hoping fatuously that they would conquer by the force of their truth; these are the ideas that we now struggle to rediscover. Had Nietzsche lived to be burned at the stake by outraged Mississippi Methodists, it would have been a glorious day for his doctrines." .
"Socialism, Puritanism, Philistinism, Christianityhe [Nietzsche] saw them all as allotropic forms of democracy, as variations upon the endless struggle of quantity against quality". .
"It seems to me very likely that, in this proletariat, CHRISTIANITY will continue to survive. It is NONSENSE, true enough, but it is sweet. Nietzsche, denouncing its dangers as a poison, almost falls into the error of denying it its undoubtedly SUGARY SMACK. Of all the religions ever devised by the great practical jokers of the race, this is the one that offers most for the least money, so to speak, to the inferior man....Not all the eloquence of a million Nietzsches, nor all the painful marshalling of evidence of a million Darwins and Harnacks, will ever empty that great consolation of its allure. The most they can ever accomplish is to make the superior orders of men acutely conscious of the exact nature of it, and so give them armament against the contagion." [30-31].
"WHOEVER HAS THEOLOGICAL BLOOD IN HIS VEINS IS SHIFTY AND DISHONOURABLE IN ALL THINGS. The pathetic thing that grows out of this condition is called faith: in other words, closing one's eyes upon one's self once for all, to avoid suffering the sight of incurable falsehood." .
"Whatever a theologian regards as true must be false: there you have almost a criterion of truth. His profound instinct of self-preservation stands against truth ever coming into honour in any way, or even getting stated." .
"Christian...is a certain cruelty toward one's self and toward others; hatred of unbelievers; the will to persecute....Christian is all hatred of the intellect, of pride, of courage, of freedom, of intellectual libertinage; Christian is all hatred of the senses, of joy in the senses, of joy in general...." [72-73].
'In all agesfor example, in the case of Luther"faith" has been no more than a cloak, a pretense, a curtain behind which the instincts have played their gamea shrewd blindness [see #2, 36, 37] to the domination of certain of the instincts....I have already called "FAITH" THE SPECIALLY CHRISTIAN FORM OF SHREWDNESSpeople always talk of their "faith" and act according to their instincts....' .
'The "salvation of the soul"in plain English: "the world revolves around me."...' .
"one had better put on gloves before reading the New Testament. The presence of so much filth makes it very advisable....[derogation, not germane, etc., is omitted] I HAVE SEARCHED THE NEW TESTAMENT IN VAIN FOR A SINGLE SYMPATHETIC TOUCH; NOTHING IS THERE THAT IS FREE, KINDLY, OPEN-HEARTED OR UPRIGHT." .
"the priest rules through the invention of sin." .
"Christianity finds sickness necessary, just as the Greek spirit had need of a superabundance of healththe actual ulterior purpose of the whole system of salvation of the church is to make people ill. And the church itselfdoesn't it set up a Catholic lunatic asylum as the ultimate ideal?The whole earth as a madhouse?" .
"The Christian movement, as a European movement, was from the start no more than a general uprising of all sorts of outcast and refuse elements (WHO NOW, UNDER COVER OF CHRISTIANITY, ASPIRE TO POWER)." .
"CHRISTIANITY REMAINS TO THIS DAY THE GREATEST MISFORTUNE OF HUMANITY." .
"Christianity, alcoholthe two great means of corruption...." .
"A German monk, LUTHER [1483 - 1546], came to Rome. This monk, with all the vengeful instincts of an unsuccessful priest in him, RAISED A REBELLION AGAINST THE RENAISSANCE IN ROME....Instead of grasping, with profound thanksgiving, the miracle that had taken place: the conquest of Christianity at its capitalinstead of this, his hatred was stimulated by the spectacle. A RELIGIOUS MAN THINKS ONLY OF HIMSELF.Luther saw only the depravity of the papacy at the very moment when the opposite was becoming apparent: THE OLD CORRUPTION, THE PECCATUM ORIGINALE, CHRISTIANITY ITSELF, NO LONGER OCCUPIED THE PAPAL CHAIR! Instead there was life! Instead there was the triumph of life! Instead THERE WAS A GREAT YEA TO ALL LOFTY, BEAUTIFUL AND DARING THINGS!...AND LUTHER RESTORED THE CHURCH: HE ATTACKED IT....The Renaissancean event without meaning, a great futility!....These Germans, I confess, are my enemies....For nearly a thousand years they have tangled and confused everything their fingers have touched;...they also have on their conscience the uncleanest variety of Christianity that exists, and the most incurable and indestructibleProtestantism....If mankind never manages to get rid of Christianity the Germans will be to blame...." [178-180].
"One somehow enjoys, with the malice that is native to man, the spectacle of ANATHEMAS BATTED BACK; it is refreshing to see the pitchfork employed AGAINST gentlemen [CHRISTIANS] WHO HAVE DOOMED...INNUMERABLE CARAVANS TO HELL."
[31-32]. [See (anathemas): #2, 39, 40; #3, 79; #4, 141; #22, 454-455].