Kersey Graves November 21, in Brownsville, Pennsylvania — September 4, in Richmond, Indiana was a skeptic , atheist , rationalist , spiritualist , reformist writer, who was popular on the American freethought circuit of the late 19th century. Graves was born in Brownsville , Pennsylvania. According to one source, Graves did not attend school for more than three or four months in his life,  but another source says that he received an "academical education", and at the age of 19 was teaching in a school at Richmond, a career he was to follow for more than twenty years. He was an advocate of Abolitionism , also interested in language reform, and became involved with a number of radical freethinkers within Quakerism. In August , he joined a group of about fifty utopian settlers in Wayne County, Indiana.
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On page 73 it is stated that no geologist or philosopher believes in either a creation or a creator. It is admitted that some men, called geologists, may believe so; but we hold that no man thoroughly versed in geology and philosophy can thus believe. On page , contradiction , it should be stated in the first part that Ahaziah's reign began in his thirty-second year, instead of the eleventh year of Joram.
The second part should state that he began in his forty-second year, instead of the twelfth year of Joram. On page , contradiction , the anointment of Christ is spoken of But the text refers to the feast of the passover. On page it is stated that the Unitarians believe in a hell.
It should be understood, however, that they believe in a hell merely as a state or condition, and not as a place. On page it is stated that the weight of the tables of the law was fifty times as much as Hilkiah could carry. This, of course, would depend upon the quality and condition of the stone used and the manner of engraving the law, if not, what is assumed, to constitute the law. It is stated that some considered the Pentateuch the law.
This, however, was only in a general sense. They, of course, knew that the law as described in Deuteronomy was the law proper, or special law. The charge of falsehood against Christ, on page , is not intended to imply that it is certain he designed telling a falsehood. But, as he stated he would not go up to the feast at Jerusalem, and yet did go, it shows that he either intended to deceive, or was ignorant of what he would do in the future; and either defect would prove he was not an omniscient God.
On page it is stated that a Jew could not be a full Roman citizen in the time of Paul, and that Tarsus was not at that time a Roman city. But it may be stated also that authors differ on these points; and we leave the matter for them or their critical readers to settle. Let it be noted that it is not claimed that Paul, while professing to be first a Roman citizen, and then a Pharisee, and then a disciple of Jesus Christ, could not be all three at once; but it indicates his policy of changing.
As the denial of the personality of God, as set forth in Chapter, has been warmly assailed by Orthodox professors since the work was issued, and as that dogma constitutes one of the principal pillars of the Orthodox faith, I propose to examine it a little further in the light of reason and science.
I will present other absurdities of the doctrine in the form of questions. If God is an organized personality, what should we assume to be his form, size, shape, and color? And as personality implies sex, and one sex not only implies the other sex, but creates a necessity lor the other sex, we are driven to ask, who is God's wife, and where is she? And as sex also implies offspring, we desire to ask, how many children have they had?
And, as personality also implies parentage, this brings up the question, who was God's father, grandfather, etc. And as personality implies the susceptibility to anger, and the Bible-God is often represented as getting angry, and anger has been shown to be a species of insanity, would not this imply and prove that heaven is ruled by an insane God—an omnipotent luuatic? And would not this virtually make heaven a lunatic asylum, and consequently a very unsuitable and disagreeable place to live in?
As all these and many other absurdities are involved in the assumption of a personal God, it is difficult to see how any reasonable being can swallow the doctrine. As the notices of several bibles prepared for the first edition were left out from fear of making the book too large, I have concluded to insert a brief notice of some of them here.
Dhammapada, or "Path of Virtue. It is probably the oldest record of the Budhistic faith. It is assumed to be a collection from the pitakas , which are principally compilations from the discourses of the incarnate god Gautama, written out by his disciples. It was pronounced genuine and canonical by a famous council which met in B. It contains many wise, beautiful, and lofty moral precepts, of which we will give a few specimens:—"Haste to do good.
This book is divided into three parts hence its name, which means "the three pitikas. It forbids the commission of sin, and enjoins the practice of the highest virtues. The former work appears to be made up principally by selections from this. Some of these works are either other titles for those previously described, or are additions, appendages, or commentaries.
And thus it will be observed the world is full of bibles and scriptures. We maintain, 1st, That man's mental faculties are susceptible of a threefold division and classification, as follows: First, the intellectual department; second, the moral and religious department; third, the animal department which includes also the social. Such measures, this work shows by a thousand facts, would be a deplorable check to the moral and intellectual progress of the world.
We live in the most important age in the history of the world. No age preceding it was marked with such signal events. No other era in the history of civilization has been characterized by such agitation of human thought; such a universal tendency to investigation; such a general awakening upon all important subjects of human inquiry; such a determination to grow in knowledge, and cultivate the immortal intellect, and mount to higher plains of development.
The world of mind is in commotion. All civilized nations are agitated from center to circumference with the great questions of the age. And what does all this prove? Why, that man is a progressive being; that the tendency of the human mind is onward and upward; and that it will not always consent to be bound down in ignorance and superstition. And, thanks to the genius of the age, it is the prophecy of the glorious reformation and regeneration of society,—an index of a happier era in the history of the human race.
Old institutions are crumbling, and tumbling to the ground. The iron bands of creeds and dogmas, with which the people have been so long bound down, are bursting asunder, and permitting them to walk upright, and do their own thinking.
In every department of science, in every arena of human thought and every theater of human action, we see a progressive spirit, we behold a disposition to lay aside the traditions and superstitions of the past, and grasp the living facts of the age. We everywhere see a disposition to abandon the defective institutions, political and religious, which were gotten up in the childhood of human experience, and supplant them with those better adapted to the wants of the age.
In a word, there is everywhere manifested a disposition and determination to unshackle the human body, and set free the human mind, and place it with its living aspirations on the road to the temple of Truth. An evidence of the truth of these statements the reader can gather by casting his eyes abroad, or by reading the periodicals of the day.
At this very time nearly all the orthodox churches are in a state of commotion. The growing light and intelligence of the age, penetrating their dark creeds and dogmas, are producing a sort of moral effervescence.
The question of "hell" is now the agitating theme of the churches. Posterity will ridicule us, and class us with the unenlightened heathen, for discussing a question so far behind the times, and one so childish and so absurd in this intelligent and enlightened age. To condescend to discuss such a question now must be Well enough for scientific and intelligent minds.
And other important religious events mark the age. When the Roman-Catholic Church, through its Ecumenical Council, dragged the Pope from his lofty throne of usurped power, and robbed him of his attribute of infallibility, it proclaimed the downfall of the Pope and the death-knell of the Church.
Already thousands of his subjects refuse longer to bow down and kiss the big toe of his sacred majesty. His scepter has departed, his spiritual power is gone, his temporal power is waning. And the same spirit of agitation is operating as a leaven in the Protestant churches also. All the orthodox churches are declining and growing weaker by their members falling off. The Methodist Church has recently lost more than two hundred of its preachers; and the Baptist Church, according to the statement of a recent number of "The Christian Era," has lost twenty-two thousand of its members within a period of five years.
The agitation in the churches is driving thousands from their ranks, while many who remain are becoming more liberal-minded. The orthodox Quaker Church has, in many localities, "run clear off the track. It has abandoned its old time-honored peculiarities in dress and language, once deemed by them sacred, and essential to true godliness.
The use of "thee" and "thou" is laid aside by many of its members; and even leading members have given up the "shad-bellied coat," and the round-crowned hat with a brim broad enough to "cover a multitude of sins.
Thus it will be seen they are making some progress. The light without is benefiting them more than "the light within. Such an assumption will cause the downfall, sooner or later, of any religious body which persists in propagating the error.
Religious institutions, like all other institutions, are subject to the laws of growth and decay. Hence, if their doctrines and creeds are not improved occasionally to make them conform to the growing light and intelligence of the age and the principles of science, they will fall behind the times, cease to answer the moral and religious wants of the age, and become a stumbling-block in the path of progress.
Common sense would teach us that the doctrines preached by the churches two hundred years ago must be as much out of place now as the wooden shoes and bearskin coats worn by the early disciples would be for us. Their spiritual food is by no means adapted to our moral and religious wants. Why is it that in modern times there has arisen great complaint in all the orthodox churches about the rapid inroads of infidelity into their ranks? It is simply because, that while the people are beginning to assume the liberty to do their own thinking, the churches refuse to recognize the great principle of universal progress as applicable to their religion, which would and should keep their doctrines and precepts improved up to the times.
Instead of adopting this wise policy, they try to compel their members to be content with the old stale salt junk of bygone ages, in the shape of dilapidated, outgrown creeds and dogmas; but it will not do. It is as difficult to keep great minds tied down to unprogressive creeds as it would be to keep grown-up boys and girls in baby-jumpers.
Enlightened nations are as capable of making their own religion as their own laws; that is, of making its tenets conform to the natural outgrowth of their religious feelings as they become more expanded and enlightened. And it is a significant historical fact, that great minds in all religious nations have wholly or partially outgrown and abandoned the current and popular religions of the country.
It is only moral cowards, or the ignorant and uninformed, who throw themselves into the lap of the Church, and depend upon the priest to pilot them to heaven. Moses, Jesus Christ, Mahomet, Martin Luther, John Wesley, Emanuel Swedenborg, George Fox, Elias Hicks, and many other superior minds, strove hard unconsciously to rise above the religion in which they were educated; and all succeeded in making some improvement in its stereotyped doctrines or practices.
The implied assumption of the churches, that their doctrines and precepts are too perfect to be improved and too sacred to be investigated, and their Bible too holy to be criticised, is contradicted both by history and science; and this false assumption has already driven many of the best minds of the age from their ranks. Theodore Parker declared that all the men of great intellects had left the Church in his time, because, instead of improving their religion to keep it up to the times they bolt their doors, and hang curtains over their windows to keep out the light of the age.
There could not be one inch of progress made in any thing in a thousand years with the principle of non-progression in religion adopted by the churches; for, if it will apply to religion, it will apply with still greater force to every thing else: and hence it would long ago have put a dead lock upon all improvement, had it not been counteracted by outside counter-influences.
It is because a large portion, and the most enlightened portion , of the community have assumed the liberty and moral independence to think and act for themselves , that society has made any progress either in science, morals, or religion. A religion which sedulously opposes its own improvement can do nothing essential toward improving any thing else , unless forced into it by outside influences; and it can not feel a proper degree of interest in those improvements essential to the progress of society.
On the contrary, it must check the growth of every thing it touches with its palsied hands. Here we can see the reason that no church in any age of the world has inaugurated any great system of reform for the improvement of society, but has made war on nearly every reform set on foot by that class of people which it has chosen to stigmatize as "infidels.
That there is a general state of unrest in the public mind, at the present time, on the subject of religion, must be apparent to every observing person. Theological questions, long since regarded as settled for ever, are being overhauled and discussed with a freedom and general interest far transcending that known or practically realized at any previous period. This is premonitive of a speedy religious revolution.
That it will come sooner or later is as certain as that seed-sowing is succeeded by harvest. Reforms no longer move with the snail's pace they did a century ago.
This is an age of steam and electricity; and every thing has to move with velocity. We cherish no unkindly feelings toward any church or people; but we must rejoice that the strongholds of orthodoxy are being shaken, and error exposed, and that creeds are loosening their iron grasp upon the immortal mind Old, long-cherished dogmas, myths, and blinding superstitions are passing away, to make room for something better.
Yes, the signs of the times indicate the dawning of a brighter day upon the world,—a day which shall be illuminated by the rays of reason and science.
The Bible of Bibles
Kersey Graves deals with the common ground from which these holy books arose. According to Graves, true religion does not regard God as a personal monarch, governing the universe by the caprices of an angry and fickle mind, but as the living, moving, all-pervading, self-sustaining, energizing, vivifying power which moves and sustains the machinery of the whole universe. Graves does not deny a divine force, but ridicules the assumption this force has a personality. Partially, by enumerating mistake after mistake made by many holy Biblical figures, including Jesus. Evil is treated in a more dialectic way and seen as a force that pervades not only the human realm, but the entire nature. It is seen as simply the negative pole of the great moral battery, and without it the battery could not be run. Without it there could be no morality, no moral principle or accountability, while man exists upon the present animal plane.