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How the Bible was Invented A Lecture Delivered Before the Independent Religious Society   By: (1859-1943)

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"Not to Undeceive is to Deceive"

How the Bible Was Invented

A Lecture Delivered Before the Independent Religious Society Orchestra Hall Chicago, Illinois Sunday at 11 A. M.

[Illustration: Logo]

Tenth Edition


How the Bible Was Invented

Many good people believe that the Bible was given by inspiration of God. The wording of my subject suggests that it is the work of men, and not always of honest men, either. Am I trying to offend people by intimating that the Bible was invented ? On the contrary, I am exposing myself to criticism by telling these good people the truth about the Bible, which their own preachers, for some reason or other, have withheld from them.

One of the texts in the Bible, attributed to Jesus, says that, It were better for a man to have a millstone tied about his neck, and he were cast into the sea, than that he should offend, that is to say, unsettle the faith of, "one of these little ones." According to this saying of Jesus, a man must keep his questionings and his doubts to himself. He shall not talk where he is liable to upset the faith of some believing soul, some aged mother, some Sunday school lad or lassie. The man who will go about disturbing people's religious peace, deserves to be drowned with a millstone about his neck! What is your opinion of such a suggestion?

If you approve of this sentiment, attributed to the founder of Christianity, then the work which we are doing here, every Sunday, is quite wicked; a millstone around our necks is what we deserve, and the bottom of the sea is where we belong.

Psychologists tell us that there is great power in suggestion. With all my love and reverence for whatever is sweet and sane in the Gospels, I must protest against this text, because it is a suggestion to violence and persecution. If Jesus suggests a millstone for the neck of the heretic who upsets people's illusions and makes inquirers out of believers, and intimates further that drowning is too good for them, why not take the hint and act upon it? He expresses a wish, shall we not fulfill it? Alas, we know, too well, that in less enlightened ages, the suggestion of Jesus was not only carried out, but vastly improved upon by the Spanish Inquisition, for instance.

Let us be fair. When a man is accused, it is his privilege to defend himself. If Jesus suggests that the investigator who unsettles people's beliefs should be drowned, before the suggestion is acted upon, the disturber should be given a chance to be heard. Would that be asking too much? Let us see, then, just what it means to command a man to suppress whatever might disturb a neighbor's faith: It means that if I am announced to speak on the Bible, I must say nothing to which the weakest or the most credulous among my hearers might object. If I do, I shall deserve to be tied to a millstone and drowned! But let us turn this proposition about to see how it would work: Having discovered a truth, and yearning in my soul to express it, suppose I were to say, that if any man in this audience shall scare me into silence, shall cheat me out of the joy and duty of imparting that truth to my world, by threatening to be offended, or to be unsettled by it, he ought to have a millstone tied to his neck and be cast into the sea. How would that do?

Again, an illustration, which I have used before, can with great aptness be repeated here: A woman is given a ring with a stone in it. Not being herself a connaisseur of precious stones, she is easily made to believe that her jewel is the most costly in the world. This is told her in order to make her happy, and to fancy herself as the possessor of a gem of great value. Observe, now, how much it costs to keep up this deception. All her friends have to agree to say nothing that may unsettle her faith in her imitation jewel. Indeed, they must pretend not to know the difference between the genuine and the sham stone. To preserve this woman's illusion, they must prevaricate and even openly lie, if pressed to do so, lest the poor woman's eyes should open, or her faith in her jewel be lost... Continue reading book >>

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