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First Cause less anthropomorphic, or manlike, if it were said that the universe was begotten by God or emanated from him. These also were human analogies.

Then arose the philosophical theism which based itself upon contrivance in nature, the evidences of intelligence and skill. This indeed underlay the earliest theism, but it was then able to command belief, because there was not yet that craving for unity which is the soul of philosophy. Nature is so full of apparent contradictions that various contrivers had to be imagined, and that was easy to the polytheists; but philosophy rebelling against the idea of a swarm of deities with contrarious powers and aims was soon puzzled to reconcile good and evil designs. There is a story of a clergyman who, walking with his son, pointed out the goodness and wisdom of God as illustrated in a crane wading near them, the soft folding and unfolding of its long legs without causing a ripple to startle the fish, and its long slender bill so admirably shaped for fishing. The lad recognised the goodness of God to the crane ; "but, father," he said, " isn't the arrangement a little tough on the fish?” The clergyman told his son that his difficulty was a suggestion of the devil. In one sense it certainly was : the mental growth of a child repeats in an embryonic way the mental history of the race, and it was precisely in that boy's difficulty that the notion of a devil was born. The crane side of the proceeding showed the good contriver, the fish side the bad contriver. The presence of pain in the world was fatal to the argument from design : if it proved any deity at all it proved two at least. And there it has logically ended


in the great theologies of the world, while, on the other hand, Science and Philosophy abandon the problem altogether as relating to supposed matters for whose verification the human mind has no corresponding faculties.

So perished the anthropomorphic deities of philosophy, -the first-cause god, the contriving god,- following their Olympian predecessors.



Monotheism, in a strict sense, has never been the creed of any popular or historical religion. The reduction of supernatural powers to subordination under three persons, whose several tasks imply the duality of god and devil, has simplified the problem of theism but has not materially advanced it towards solution. So far as this is concerned we are very much in the same position as were the rationalists under whose scepticism the gods and goddesses of Greece vanished eighteen hundred years ago, when the popular divinities, like those of our own time, could only be defended by denunciations of those who denied them.

In Fraser's Magazine (October, 1876), Mr. James Anthony Froude has written an admirable paper on Lucian, in whose works he finds reflected" The Twilight of the Gods” of Paganism, which is a mirror wherein most of our nineteenth century theology may behold its own features. Lucian was born near Antioch and wrote in the latter part of the second century after Christ. He


looked upon the decaying superstitions of the Greek and Roman pantheon, and the growing superstitions of Christians, pretty much as our philosophic thinkers now look upon the dogmas of orthodoxy on the one hand, and the theories of spiritualism on the other. In his Zeus Tpayudós the scene opens in heaven, where the deities, finding their chief, Zeus, in grief and agitation, question him as to the cause. Zeus relates sadly that he had been listening to a controversy in Athens between two disputants, Damis the Epicurean, and Timocles the Stoic, before a large and distinguished audience, on the nature of Providence. Damis affirmed that the gods had no existence, or at any rate no influence on human affairs : and though Timocles pleaded for the gods furiously, Zeus declared his arguments were weak, the listeners generally on the side of Damis, and, unless something were done, they (the gods) would become mere names and their altars ruins.

Upon these grave tidings the deities hold solemn conclave, and among others who give their opinion is Momus, who frankly avows that he cannot blame the philosophers who pick holes in them. “ What other conclusions could they arrive at,” he asks, “when they saw the confusion around them? Good men neglected, perishing in penury or slavery; and profligate wretches wealthy, honoured, and powerful. Let us be candid. All that we have really cared for has been a steady altar-service. All else has been left to chance. And now men opening their eyes. They perceive that whether they pray or don't pray, go to church or don't go to church,


I wait your

makes no difference to them.” Momus is rebuked for his rudeness, but the question remains, what is to be done? In the end they all repair to the place where Damis and Timecles have engaged to renew their contest. As they arrive, their advocate Timocles says to Damis

What! you blasphemous villain, you! you don't believe in the gods and in Providence?

Damis.—I neither believe nor disbelieve. reasons why I should have a positive opinion about it.

Timocles.I will give you no reasons, you wretch ! Give me your's for your atheism.

Zeus.—Our man is doing well. He has the rudest manner and the loudest voice. Well done, Timocles ! give him hard words. That is your strong point. Begin to reason and you will be as dumb as a fish.

But the advocate of the gods is presently compelled to give his reasons. He argues from design and order in nature, but Damis tells him he assumes design and order where there may be none. Timocles next says he believes in the gods because Homer did.

Damis wants to know whether he also believes as Homer relates, that Zeus, to reward Thetis, cheated Agamemnon with a false dream, which led to the destruction of tens of thousands. Timocles then appeals to the common belief of mankind; but Damis reminds him that one tribe worships a bull, another a crocodile, a third a dog-headed ape, and asks if these are the foundations of theology. Finally, Timocles argues that as there are altars there must be gods. Whereupon Damis laughs and says that they can contend

and you

no longer, since he hangs the existence of gods on the existence of altars. "You have taken refuge at the altar as men do in extremities.”

Timocles.—Oh, oh! you are sarcastic, are you! you gravedigger! you wretch ! you abomination! you gaolbird ! you cesspool ! we know where you come from ; your mother was a whore ;


brother and seduced your friend's wife ; you are an adulterer, a Sodomite, a glutton and a beast. Stay till I can thrash you. Stay, I say, villain, abhorred villain !

Zeus.-- One has gone off laughing, and the other follows railing and throwing tiles at him. Well, what are we to do ?

Hermes.—The old play says, “You are not hurt. if you don't acknowledge it.” Suppose a few people have gone away believing in Damis, what then? many more believe the reverse; the whole mass of ignorant Greeks and the barbarians everywhere.

Zeus.True, Hermes, but that was a good thing which Darius said about Zopyrus,

• I had rather have one Zopyrus than a thousand Babylons.”

In this ancient fragment we find all the arguments for the existence of a deity stated with which we are familiar,-design, authority of the ancients, authority of great men, the coinmon beliefs of mankind. And when all these are met and refuted as they have been in our day by the precise arguments of Damis, we are unhappily still familiar with the final argument--taking refuge at the altar and hurling epithets and slanders against the man who denies its authority over reason. How was Voltaire answered ?

A great

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