Having presented the evidences in support of the apparently untenable assertion that, notwithstanding the numerous modes in which man has manifested his devotional proclivities, the world has virtually had but the one religion founded in the worship of personified nature, we are necessitated to recognize the facts that the Christian Scriptures like the sacred records of other forms of nature worship are, but a collection of astronomical allegories; that the gospel story is truly “the old, old story” which had been told of a thousand other Saviours before it was applied to the Christian Messiah; that Jesus is but one of the many names given to imaginary incarnations of the mythical genius of the sun; and that the Disciples and Evangelists are but the genii of the months and the seasons. Such being the facts, which cannot be successfully refuted, we must believe that the Christian religion, instead of being of Divine authenticity, as popularly claimed, is purely and entirely of human origin, and that all its teachings relative to a future state are but priestly inventions, concocted for the purpose of enslaving the ignorant masses.
When we think of the thousand millions of dollars invested in church properties, and estimate the cost of maintaining more than a hundred thousand priests and ministers, in supporting foreign and domestic missions and in publishing religious literature; besides the taxes applied to the care of the religious insane, and realize the fact that all of this vast sum of money is abstracted from the resources of the people, we would not have to go outside of our own country to appreciate the fact that religion is the burden of all burdens to society; and when we contemplate the great disturbance to the social relation, resulting from sectarian strife, and the almost universal disposition of Christians to persecute and ostracize those who differ with them in opinion, we can readily subscribe to the sentiment accredited to one of our revolutionary sires, that “this would be a good world to live in if there was no religion in it.”
If the clergy had been laboring as faithfully to impress the observance of ethical principles as they have to indoctrinate the people with the superstitions of religion, we would not now be deploring the great demoralization of society. It is a grave arraignment of the clericals to charge them with being, indirectly, the cause of this lamentable state of things; but it is a condition that might have been expected, for, when entering the ministry, they engaged themselves, not so much to teach ethics as to propagate faith in the doctrines of their respective sects. Thus hampered they cannot do the good to society their better natures might desire. Hence the only hope for improvement is for the people to wholly ignore the dogmatic element of religion, and refusing to longer support it, demand that moral training shall be the grand essential of education. If this course were adopted and persistently followed, it would be but a question of time when mankind would come into being with such a benign heredity that crime would be almost impossible.
Then, since religion inculcates a salvation that does not save, let us rise superior to its false teachings and, accepting science as the true saviour of mankind, find our whole duty in the code of natural morality, the spirit of which is embodied in that comprehensive precept known as the golden rule, which, being the outgrowth of the discovered necessities of association, without which society could not exist, it necessarily constituted man’s sole rule and guide long before priest or temple; and founded in the eternal principles of right, truth and justice must remain as man’s sole rule and guide when priest and church are numbered among the things that were. Spirit of progress! speed the day when all mankind, redeemed from the bondage of superstition, will recognize the great truth that nature, governed by her own inherent forces, is all that has been, all that is and all that shall be; and that, ceasing to indulge in the vain hope of a blissful immortality in a paradise beyond the stars, will make a real paradise of this old earth of ours.
—————————- (Editorial note: the original text erroneously attributed this quote to Genesis 20:8-11; actually it is from Exodus 20:8-11.)