Typos p. 37: Contributon [= Contribution]; p. 47: psycho-analyists [= psycho-analysts]; p. 49: ill-favourd [=ill-favoured]; p. 50: uniniated [= uninitiated]; p. 61: Puritnaism [= Puritanism]; p. 70: emanicipated [= emancipated]; p. 99: phychological [= psychological]
p. 103: tenour [= tenor]; p. 106: perseverence [= perseverance]; p. 117: favouritsm [= favouritism]; p. 119: auhorized [= authorized]; p. 122: Scopenhauer [= Schopenhauer]
Christianity Not the Thoughtful Man's Religion I
A generation that no longer believes in devils, demons and the demoniacal etiology of disease; that has difficulty in imagining the transfer of devils from two men into a herd of swine, and even more difficulty in believing that these very devils pleaded to be so transferred; a generation that doubts the possibility of parthenogenesis in human beings, and has long ago dropped the practice of "whipping boys", cannot see any sense in vicarious punishment, and is therefore unable to take on trust the story of an Omnipotent Deity who could feel appeased and propitiated for the sins committed by beings he has himself created, by the death in agony of his own beloved and only-begotten son to such a generation, hardly one aspect of the Christian mythology and the supernatural events it includes appears to have even tolerable plausibility, let alone cogency.
It would, therefore, be most astonishing if Christianity, instead of being, as Professor A. N. Whitehead declares "in decay" (R.I.M. Chap. I, 7 and IV, 3), were repeating the giant strides which marked its progress throughout the Middle Ages.
"Whence does ecclesiastical authority," Professor McDougalI asks, "derive the views it seeks to impose? the answer is that they are founded upon alleged historical events of a remote age,
This sums up the position very well and, in view of the vast library that now exists on the reasons for Unbelief books which, from the works of Ingersoll to those of J. M. Robertson and Bertrand Russell, are easily accessible in most of our large towns it seems unnecessary to dwell on this aspect of the question. The intelligent reader who wishes to become acquainted with the attitude to Christianity of the Rationalists and Agnostics, must however be warned against two forms of attack to which everyone embarking on a course of this kind lays himself open. The first, from the quarter of all Christians, no matter what their denomination, is to charge the budding or accomplished Rationalist with hostility to all religion and with a total lack of any religious feeling whatsoever, as if to be anti-Christian must mean that a man rejects everything that the word "religion" suggests a charge as impudent and absurd as to accuse a hostile critic of abstract and ultra-modern art of being inaccessible to the appeal of any art at all. An example of this sort of charge may be found to be at least implied in Mr. B. Lund Yates' article on Dr. Buchman's "Contributon to Contemporary Thought" in H. October 1958.
The second usually hails from the quarter of highbrow philosophic apologists of Christianity, who are wont to dwell voluptuously on the admitted limitations of scientific knowledge and on all the latest inconclusive researches of scientists into the most obscure problems of life, whether in the realms of physics, astronomy, geophysics, biology or genetics; and who argue as if every scientific failure to reach certainty, which is honestly acknowledged by the scientists themselves, necessarily adds to the score of Christian truths. This form of attack is admirably denounced by Professor J. B. Pratt as follows: "Nor should we easily be driven, by the temporary failure of science, into the arms of the supernatural. . . . So great have been the achievements of science in the past, so repeatedly has she brought forward explanations of the seemingly inexplicable for those who
Meanwhile, these same apologists do everything possible and use every debating room device, to obfuscate and bewilder the aspiring Rationalist by means of torrents of more or less incomprehensible verbiage, aimed at discrediting scientific discoveries and theories, and defending the more obscure and more assailable tenets of the faith.
Take, for instance, the churchmen's defence of the doctrine of Atonement. I have already indicated the incredible features of this doctrine which today seems even more extravagantly fantastic than it did in 1889, when Bishop Lyttleton tried by the sweat of his brow to make it look like sense (see L.M.). For to us of the twentieth century, removed by well over two thousand years from the age when the ancient Israelites, believing in the principle of vicarious suffering, practised animal sacrifice to propitiate God for their sins, there is something so alien to common sense in the notion of an all-powerful deity being able to derive any satisfaction from whipping-boy blood rites of this kind, and above all in his feeling placated by them, that, not our reason alone, but every one of our sentiments as civilized moderners, revolts against the whole conception of the Atonement as a relic of savage superstition. We even wonder whether a man like St. Paul, in the first century of our era, could have been altogether sane when, addressing the Romans, he said:
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath sent to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forebearance of God". (Romans iii, 2326).
This extraordinary doctrine is more lucidly and succinctly stated in the latter part of the second of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England as follows:
"Christ, very God, and very man, who truly suffered, was crucified dead and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to
It is referred to again in Article XV, where we read of Jesus: "He came to be the Lamb without spot, who, by sacrifice of himself once made, should take away the sins of the world." In Article XXVIII, we read that the Lord's Supper is a sacrament "of our redemption by Christ's death", whilst in Article XXXI we are told that "The offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world both original and actual".
The fact that this doctrine has been embarrassing churchmen more and more with every fresh advance, however slight, of that enlightenment which has been one of the few real blessings of the last hundred years, may be gathered from the spate of treatises which, ever since the middle of last century, have been produced to defend and rationalize it where it clashes most violently with modern conceptions.
Of these defences, it would be impossible here to sketch even the barest summary; but the book by the Right Rev. A. C. Headlam, late Bishop of Gloucester (The Atonement, 1935), is worth reading as exemplifying the extreme difficulty modern theologians obviously experience in trying to explain away the redemption of human sin as traditionally related by St. Paul and the Church, and also their habit of baffling the potential Rationalist with reams of more or less relevant verbiage in defence of their doctrines.
"It seems very difficult to accept a theory", says Bishop Headlam, "which seems to represent the loving kindness of the Son appeasing by his sacrifice the wrath of the Father" (Chap. II, 1). Yes, indeed! though what the Bishop really means is that whereas centuries ago it was child's play to gain acceptance for such a theory, today it is not so easy; and he admits that "there have been more theological differences" on this matter "than on any other Christian doctrine" (Introduction). Yet, in spite of 191 pages of the most painstaking and tortuous pleading, it cannot be said that the Lord Bishop extricates himself with much success from the awkward net of improbabilities. He never attains to the straightforward clarity of F. J. Sheed, for instance, who, in Theology and Society (1947, Chap. XVIII, 1), says outright that Jesus "offered himself as a sacrifice to God for the sins of the race"; and after reading and rereading the more important
"The Atonement through Christ was the revelation through the cross, and in no other way could it be accomplished save by the sacrifice of love and obedience as revelation of the nature of God; it was the only power through which sin could be taken away and therefore it was propitiation for sin, and therefore Christ died for our sins and bore the whole weight of our sins upon the cross" (Chap. III, 5).
I hope many, more acute and intellectual than I can claim to be, will also find it hard to grasp the logical justification of these two "therefores". Surely it is this sort of vague, confusing verbiage that has done most to discredit theology in the minds of sensible folk. The fact of the crucifixion is not disputed, the further fact that it was a propitiation for sin is also not contested by the learned prelate. The logical conclusion must therefore be what Bishop Headlam and others like him do their utmost to circumvent namely, that some authority, presumably God the Father, required to be appeased and propitiated for the sins of man by the death of his beloved and only-begotten son on an ancient Roman torture machine. Professor W. H. Griffith Thomas, D.D., for instance, in a chapter on the second of the Thirty-nine Articles, acknowledges that "expiation" seems "to be decidedly truer to the Biblical conception" of the crucifixion than mere communion (The Principles of Theology, 1930). But if this is so, some authority must have required expiation for men's sins. Who was this authority? And how did Christ's death constitute the expiation, unless it was a vicarious form of punishment that was thought necessary? Is not the straightforward answer to this that God himself required the expiation and consequently it was to propitiate him that it was done? Why not admit it? Because these theologians know that modern thought can no longer accept it that's what explains their tortuous, prolix and mostly obscure spates of verbiage.
Another typical instance of the same kind is an earlier work by Canon B. H. Streeter, called Reality (1929). He, too, tried to explain away the palpably incredible aspects to the modern mind at least of Christ's death on the cross to save mankind from the consequences of their sin. Evidently aware of the great difficulty intelligent contemporaries must have in accepting the
Finally, after having reached no conclusion which a fair minded reader could reasonably judge as at all illuminating, Canon Streeter makes the very self-revelatory and, I submit, significant statement:
"The simple Christian", he says, "who is content to look on the sacrifice of Christ as just a 'mystery' is here wiser than the theologian who insists on analysing its intellectual content. Such a conception, if true at all, is so because of the truth of quality it represents; and the more it is envisaged, not as logic, but as a picture, the richer the truth it will convey" (Chap. VIII).
It is very sensible of this divine, to leave the matter unsolved in the hands of the "simple Christian". It was certainly the best escape, although it will be noted that even to the very end, when he has contrived this release for himself, he is still incapable of clear unequivocal language.
No reader who turns to the books I have quoted will, I believe, find that I have misrepresented them; and anyone who ventures, as I have done, to consult other cognate works, will I think discover little to modify in the claim I have made that today churchmen are not only deeply embarrassed by the traditional view of the Atonement as set forth by St. Paul and the second of the Church of England's Thirty-nine Articles; but, despite the most strenuous efforts, are also at a complete loss to make any sense of it, or at least to make it appear sensible to the modern enlightened mind.
Thus, when St. Paul told the Romans: "God commendeth his
When with deep disappointment we turn the pages of the learned treatises where the Christian myths and doctrines, which once seemed unobjectionable and eminently credible, are polished up, refitted and chastened by skilful experts to attract a more enlightened and critical generation, we have the uncomfortable feeling that, instead of a conspiracy of silence, a conspiracy of noise and blustering verbosity is under way, and that its object is less to illuminate, elucidate and explain, than to give the impression that such is being done; for, to the simple man and woman. Canon Streeter's "simple Christian" in fact, it must seem that such volumes of verbiage cannot possibly be without substantial content. Even when they fail to see it, they feel persuaded that some unmistakable and satisfying conclusion must be lurking somewhere amid all those words, and therefore that none of their confidence need be forfeited.
This is the snare against which aspiring Rationalists have to be warned. Not that one fails to sympathize with these desperate apologists of a creed which, according to B. Lund Yates, is "crumbling" (H. October 1958. Article: Dr. Buchman's "Contribution to Contemporary Thought"). On the contrary! As one reads these panting paragraphs, in which theologians, on the point of exhaustion from their fruitless labours, try by piling up words and endlessly analysing side issues to give the impression that they are offering a plain answer to a plain question, it is impossible not to feel rather sorry for them.
Nevertheless, when we compare the "explanation" of the Atonement by a divine, such as the Rev. and Hon. Arthur Lyttelton, which covers thirty-nine pages of (L.M. Chap. VII), with the later and more sophisticated explanations just examined, we are at once struck by the greater naïveté and frankness of the former probably an indication of the fact that the writer in Lux Mundi, some seventy years ago, was less acutely aware than are our
Thus the Rev. Arthur Lyttelton openly acknowledges the connection between Christ's sacrifice on the cross and "the ideas inspired by the [Mosaic] law" i.e. "the sacrificial system of the Old Testament". He also acknowledges its propitiatory character. But because for some reason which he does not clarify, "as propitiation, therefore, and as reunion [with God] the Atonement must come from without and cannot be accomplished by those who themselves have need of it", the sacrifice must be vicarious. The propitiatory sacrifice", he says, "which is to effect our reunion must, for we are powerless to offer it, come from without."
Then he adds, "If the redemptive work of Christ satisfies these conditions it is evident that it is not a simple but a very complex fact." Very true! And he honestly concludes, "that of this complex fact no adequate explanation can be given".
Nevertheless, he makes no attempt to dodge the issue. He admits that "The death of Christ is, in the first place to be regarded as propitiatory". "On the one hand", he says, "there is man's desire, natural and almost instinctive, to make expiation for his guilt [is this instinctive in Man? Surely only in a few men in the civilization of the West!]: on the other, there is the tremendous fact of the wrath of God against sin. The death of Christ is the expiation for those past sins which have laid the burden of guilt upon the human soul and it is also the propitiation of the wrath of God."
So here we have a full and complete admission by an eminent Church of England divine, writing in 1889, of all I have claimed about the Atonement, and what follows in his argument really does not alter the matter. It is merely the usual rather lame, circumlocutionary rigmarole with which theologians try to make the Atonement appear sensible. Still, the contrast between the Rev. Arthur Lyttelton's frank admissions in 1889 and the wriggling and writhing apologetics of more modern divines who are probably more alive to the revolt felt by twentieth-century minds against the whole idea of an omnipotent God needing, and being propitiated by, a vicarious sacrifice for human sin surely this contrast is very revealing.
Meanwhile, those members of the public who are still faithful
The more vulgar, though not the less ardent believers in the "orthodox" view, sing with louder voices:
"Whiter than the snow! Whiter than the snow!
Wash me in the blood of the Lamb
And I shall be whiter than the snow."
Be this as it may, my object in making this long digression on the subject of the Atonement was less to expose the doubtful aspects of the doctrine in question, than to show by means of a striking example the way in which the pleadings of modern theologians may baffle and bewilder the potential Rationalist by the sheer weight of words alone, and give him at least the impression of having been offered a satisfying answer to his more awkward questions.
These features alone, by dating much of the appeal of these "sacred writings" and restricting their credibility to an age much more primitive than our own, seem to dispose at once of the claim that they have divine authority; and that this claim is indeed made, is shown by the Church's denial of this authority to the so-called "apocryphal" books.
In view of the many treatises, including above all Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian, in which the innumerable Biblical errors, whether in astronomy, geophysics, biology or physiology, are exposed, further examples of the kind seem unnecessary here. But the sort of howlers that are much less often exposed by Rationalists if at all are the more interesting and, as reflecting on the alleged divine provenance of the Bible, more damaging psychological ones, which recent discoveries have helped to reveal, but which are glaring enough to have struck intelligent readers at any time. It is indeed surprising that thinkers like Montaigne and Voltaire should have failed to notice this kind of Biblical error, especially as the major instances of it are allegedly perpetrated by God the Father and his Son. To save time and space I shall confine myself to these. Their importance will relieve me of the necessity of dwelling on the discrepancies usually adduced by Rationalists.
The first important instance occurs in the fifth commandment: "Honour thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."
Here the howler consists in ascribing to volition an attitude of mind unamenable to the will and only the reaction to a suitable stimulus. Honour can no more be summoned at will than admiration or respect. One may pretend to comply with the command and go through the motions displaying admiration or respect; but the effort is only histrionic, and the same may be said of honour.
Thus, in order to ensure the end this commandment contemplated, it should read, "Parents make yourselves honourable in the sight of your children, that they may honour you." Difficult as this achievement may be, it is at least possible, whereas the other behest cannot possibly be obeyed when its appropriate stimulus is lacking. If, therefore, the commandment was accurately reported by Moses (which Christians may say is not
The same comment applies to God's commandment to the Israelites in Deuteronomy vi. 5, which reads, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." Now, in Mark xii. 30 and 31, Jesus, in what he calls the "first commandment of all", repeats his father's psychological error and, in his second commandment, adds an error of his own, which I shall explain in a moment. But, before doing so, it is essential to discuss the error common to both of these commandments.
I have commented on the error of supposing that people can be commanded to honour a fellow-being. But in the case of love, the inefficacy of any command to generate the required feeling must be even more apparent. For, besides embodying honour, love is a feeling of much greater depth and range. It involves above all a sense of attachment, of devotion, reciprocity and warmth, of which honour may be destitute without injury. Therefore, to assume that it can be evoked by a behest is a psychological error even more elementary than that already noted in regard to honour; and it at once disposes of any attempt to establish the divinity of him who could be guilty of it. But what is not so immediately apparent is the tragic amount of misery and misunderstanding which this major error in psychology has been causing ever since it was first preached to Europeans, stamped with the exalted authority of their God.
For, when once we are told that love is volitional, we naturally regard any diminution, any cooling off, and above all any cessation of it, in a friend, relative, or spouse which, especially in married couples owing to the normal abatement of passion, is the inevitable sequel to extravagantly overrated attachment as a deliberate act, as an intentional withholding of a feeling which, if the inconstant person liked, could be continued at white heat. Very naturally, therefore, it is interpreted as a wanton insult, a personal injury, the outcome of malice prepense. And that is precisely how today every Western man and woman regards any decline in love which may unwittingly occur even in wholly admirable and normal folk. Nor, if love is thought of as a product of the will, is it anything but understandable that any sudden or insensible abatement of it, should seem an affront and a heartless attempt to wound the once loved fellow-being.
Average men and women cannot be expected to judge matters of psychology accurately, let alone objectively, and if from childhood they have been led to believe on the highest authority of all that love is an emotion that can be conjured up at will, they are unlikely to view with complacency its gradual or sudden withdrawal by one who has hitherto professed it for them.
As that astute psychologist, Stendhal, so aptly observed, "L'amour nait et s'éteint sans que la volonté y ait la moindre part" (De l'Amour, 1822, Chap. I. "Love is born and dies without the will playing the smallest part in the matter"); and thirty years later, Proudhon echoed the point of view when he said, "L'amour est entièrement soustrait à la volonté de celui qui l'éprouve" (Amour et Mariage, 1860, Chap. II. ix. "Love is wholly independent of the will of him who feels it"). Less explicitly, but issuing from the same idea, Shakespeare makes Julia remark that "love will not be spurn'd to what it loathes" (The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act V. Sc. II). But it would be unfair to expect commonplace folk so completely to overcome what they have imbibed about will and love at Sunday school, as to reach similarly sound conclusions. This does not mean, however, that it would be unfair to expect a deity to arrive at them.
But Jesus's second commandment "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" is open to a further criticism; for it assumes that the love of self may be postulated of everyone, which is quite untrue. Indeed in times when much defectiveness, morbidity, deformity and failing stamina is rife, self love is extremely rare; and it might well be argued that misanthropy
The alert observer of mankind knows that what causes the cripple, the incurable invalid, and all defective and very ugly people, to feel bitter about humankind, to be difficult to live with, and to burst with resentment at the slightest provocation, is at bottom their invincible dissatisfaction with themselves. Bacon was aware of this; but by applying his observations only to the deformed he appears to limit them only to extreme examples of subnormality, although we know that to a lesser degree resentment of a kind is likely to be felt even by less ill-favoured creatures (see his essay on Deformity). His accurate reading of the mind of the deformed, however, shows him as belonging to an age of far deeper psychological insight than our nineteenth century, in which a Charlotte M. Yonge had the intellectual perfidy to depict her defectives and incurables as saints (see, for instance, her Pillars of the House and other novels).
The heartache felt by the afflicted, even when they are most cultivated people, inevitably generates feelings of envy if not always of resentment, and as they are denied self-contentment and self-love, it is difficult for them to feel benevolent to others. De Quincey was well aware of this, for he remarked of Gifford, "a deformed man with the spiteful nature sometimes too developed in the deformed" (Posthumous Works, 1891, XIII). In deference to popular sentiment, he is careful to say "sometimes"; but, had he known Adler's thesis, he would probably have omitted it. Thus, by neglecting human biological realities and thereby promoting the multiplication of the ill-favoured, the beliefs that have governed European conduct for two millenniums have created conditions which deprive man of the capacity for self-love and hence of the very velleity to the love of his neighbour.
Goethe knew this and, referring to the European's general lack of goodwill towards his neighbour, and of love and kindliness in social intercourse, he said, "How can anyone have kindly feelings for others and behave kindly to them when he is ill at ease with himself?" (G.G. 12.3. 1828. "Wie soll einer gegen andere Wohl-
Thus, apart from the misery Western beliefs have caused, by the legion of defectives they have fostered and bred, we have to reckon with the misery resulting from the malaise every ill-favourd creature inevitably feels.
When, therefore, Jesus said, "Love thy neighbour as thyself", he not only failed to appreciate that love cannot be enjoined, but also failed to foresee that, by linking this teaching with the racially lethal precepts of the decadent Greek, Socrates, his followers would one day make his command doubly unrealizable by debilitating the creatures to whom it was addressed. In this way the religion that enjoined love of the neighbour upon its believers, ended in ensuring nothing but hate.
This, however, in no way completes the charge of deficient psychological insight against the holy family; for we have yet to consider Jesus's attitude to the child. Indeed, for many years it has been my private opinion that most of the mischief due to excessive child adulation and child spoiling, which has at last culminated in well-nigh suppressing discipline in all Christian communities, has sprung from Jesus' alleged remark in Matthew xix. 14: "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
To the faithful, who could hardly be expected to dismiss it as a young, inexperienced bachelor's shot in the dark, this remark has meant centuries of the most disastrous misunderstandings and distortions of juvenile psychology. Narrowly scrutinized by anyone with a tolerably retentive memory, it reveals itself at once as an amiable fiction; for, if the traditional view of the
Thus the human world could only accept Jesus's statement about children as true, if it had utterly forgotten the period of its immaturity.
Given some knowledge of the new psychology and the present scientific view of children, we must conclude that when Jesus spoke about children's fitness for the kingdom of heaven, he was either utterly ignorant of children's true nature, or else had in mind a region completely abandoned to amorality i.e. where everyone displayed habitual aggressiveness, sadism, duplicity, cunning, obscenity, sexual curiosity and play, hate, vindictiveness and homicidal jealousy, compounded with egoism, egotism, mendacity and the reckless exercise of the will to power-not to mention coprophilia, coprolangia and other strange traits, all of which normal (not merely average) children are known to display.
Nor am I here referring to mere infants, but to children up to seven or eight years of age, in whom scientific psychology has found all the above-mentioned traits more or less conspicuously manifested. (For abundant scientific documentation of these statements which, to the uniniated English reader will seem at least startling, if not actually malicious, see my The Child: An Adult's Problem, 1948.)
We have therefore to choose between accepting the view of a kingdom of heaven as a repository of souls anathematized by all we know of traditional Christian morality, in which case Matthew xix. 14 has some validity; or else as a place fit only for the haute volée of Christian "good people", in which case Matthew xix. 14 is nonsense.
Unfortunately for the Christian world, it appears from the earliest days never to have understood Jesus as holding the first view, which is the only one that would have made sense of his remark. On the contrary, inferring from the fact that Satan had been fired from the kingdom of heaven, that it could be no place for creatures anything like him, Christians everywhere favoured the second view and consequently concluded that children must be, if not actually saints, at least angelic enough to be candidates for canonization.
It is true that Augustine in his Confessions admits having seen some disquieting traits in children, incompatible with Jesus's estimate of them. He therefore tries to smooth over the difficulty by suggesting that the popular idea that children are "innocent" was to be understood, not as a disinclination to hurt and harm, but as a physical, or merely muscular, inability to implement the inclination to hurt and harm. And he supports this suggestion with evidence that might have been lifted almost word for word out of works by Aichhorn, Miss Susan Isaacs, or Freud himself (see translation by William Watts, 1912 Loeb Classical Library, Book I. Chap. VII).
But St. Augustine is an exception among the Church Fathers and even among Christians in general, and we can only assume that his surprising honesty accounted for unguarded remarks of the kind I have quoted. In any case, the Christian world that has had access to the Holy Scriptures very naturally argued as follows: "As heaven is a place whither only the pure and the rigid observers of Christian morals can expect to go, children who, according to Jesus, are its natural personae gratae, must be spotless and innocent."
This conclusion was certainly contingent on completely forgetting one's own childhood and one's childhood's contemporaries. But bad memory for unpleasant truths is not uncommon and, as psychological insight is a rare gift, it is not astonishing that Jesus's remark about children should have grown by tradition into meaning that children are morally superior to adults a belief still widely held by English spinsters in particular (unconsciously revealed by the awed tones with which they usually address young children) and by all puritans. For Jesus's statement appears to such people to be abundantly borne out by the single fact that children are supposed to know nothing of our "dirty secrets".
In any case, Wordsworth, like the whole of his generation, was completely hoodwinked by Jesus's remark and, in his Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood (1806),
Thirty-three years before Wordsworth's famous poem was published. Dr. Johnson, thanks probably to his prodigious memory, had all in vain flatly contradicted Jesus's dictum and thus, by anticipation, denied the Wordsworthian view of children (B. 14.9.1773). But, for some reason or other, nobody appears to have taken the slightest notice of Johnson's remark. It is even possible that, when he made it, even he himself was unaware of having joined issue with the founder of his religion. Not until some threescore years after Johnson's death did a shrewder reader of the human, and above all of the child's, heart than ever Wordsworth was, openly contradict the latter, although he too did so in vain; for the reading public in every age asks only for the confirmation of its many illusions and superstitions. Thus, when Browning published his Soul's Tragedy, even the bare handful of English readers of poetry were not moved to modify their assumptions about children. Besides, how in 1846 could Browning, unsupported by the scientific psychology that has since established his point of view, avail against Wordsworth standing on the New Testament? Spencer in 1861, in Chapter III of his Education, certainly lent Browning powerful support; but at a time when psychological insight was perhaps at its lowest ebb, what could he do against Jesus and Wordsworth?
It was probably about the same time, or only a very little later, that Eugène Delacroix in Paris, voiced much the same view as Johnson, Browning and Spencer about children and, although we know the French to be gifted psychologists, Delacroix no doubt owed much of his psychological flair to his father, Talleyrand, just as Browning probably owed his to his German mother.
At all events, Baudelaire quotes the famous French painter as saying: "Je me souviens fort bien que quand j'étais enfant j'étais un monstre . . . ce n'est que par la douleur, le châtiment, et par l'exercice progressif de la raison que l'homme diminue peu à peu sa méchanceté naturelle" (L'Oeuvre et la vie d'Eugène
Commenting on this passage, Baudelaire says, "ainsi, par le simple bon sens, il faisait un retour sur l'idée catholique, car on peut dire que l'enfant en général est relativement à l'homme en général, beaucoup plus rapproché du péché original" (Ibid. "Thus, by sheer common sense, he [i.e., Delacroix] reverted to the Catholic point of view; for it may well be said that children in general, compared with men in general, stand much closer to Original Sin").
It is impossible now to dwell on the enormous amount of injury the divine error in psychology which we have been considering has done to social life, especially in England and America. Suffice it to say that, by making children sacrosanct and representing them as morally superior to adults, whereby the adult's sense of authority has been undermined, it has led to scandalous excesses in paedolatry and child-spoiling, with the result that an end has been put to all proper discipline both in the home and elsewhere. For the discoveries and doctrines of modern psychology, with their confirmation of Johnson, Browning, Spencer, Delacroix and Baudelaire, and their refutation of Wordsworth, have not yet spread beyond a limited circle; and meanwhile every puritan in England and America, like every ignoramus elsewhere, continues to look on Jesus's misleading view of the matter as final and conclusive. Perhaps the oddest feature of at least the English situation in regard to this capital error about the child, is the fact that Wordsworth actually described his great but wholly mistaken poem as written "From Recollections of Early Childhood"; so that he added the faults of a feeble memory to the cardinal psychological fault of his deity.
Be this as it may, it can hardly be claimed that psychological insight is a strong point with the Holy Family, and although this aspect of Christian myth and teaching is never dwelt upon by Rationalists and Agnostics, it surely cannot be denied that the few grave errors in psychology which I have shown to have been committed by the Christian gods constitute, apart from any other considerations, a serious objection to the claim that Christianity has been supernaturally revealed.
But, however ready we might be to concede this point when the errors in question are traceable to human ignorance, we surely cannot do so when these errors are, as I have shown, not only those of the divine source of the alleged revelation itself, but have also formed an essential and precious part of the very teaching peculiar to the religion founded by that divine source. To this the reader may object that even the errors which I have here attributed to the deity and his putative son, might also be human in origin and result from either false reporting or inaccurate transcriptions of reports. True enough! But, in that case, there is an end to scriptural authority for any doctrine whatsoever, and we can no longer rely on the accuracy of any statement attributed to the deity himself, whether compatible or not with modern knowledge; and the claim that our religion and the scriptures constituting its authority are revealed ceases to have any validity. Since, moreover, James never specifies the sort of errors that fall short of discrediting the claim that a book has been supernaturally revealed, and certainly makes no allusion to the psychological errors on the part of the Holy Family, to which I have called attention, his plea may safely be dismissed as unimportant except as it relates to the kind of errors in Holy Writ to which Rationalists chiefly allude.
Christianity Not the Thoughtful Man's Religion II
A long acquaintance with such people who, nowadays in England at least, are preponderatingly "lower middle class", compels the conclusion that with them, as with the sophist, Socrates, morality is an obsession. It provides them with an ideal cathartic for relieving their unconscious, pent-up hatred and envy of their fellow-men; a weapon with which to torment them without incurring the risk of retaliation. For even at the hands of an onlooking crowd, a moral persecutor of his neighbour runs little risk of either censure or abuse. Thus Puritans can bask securely in the glow of social approbation whilst freely venting man's common but secret hatred of mankind. For, as Pascal once observed: "Tous les hommes se haïssent naturellement" (P. Ière Partie, Article IX. ix), and many years later Hume remarked, "In general it may be affirm'd that there is no such passion in human minds as the love of mankind" (A Treatise of Human Nature, Book III, Part II, Sect. I). No wonder Puritans
Aware of this unpleasant feature of Puritanism, Macaulay denied that Puritan wrath at bear-baiting was prompted by humanitarian feeling. Puritans hated it, he says, "not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators". (History of England, Ed. 1849, Vol. I. Chap. II).
Despite what has often been alleged about Puritan hypocrisy and insincerity, moreover, Puritans as a body were not invariably two-faced in their insistence on their self-denying moral code. Apart from a few Tartuffes, on the whole they practised what they preached and were as painstaking in blighting their own as other people's lives. And this is still so, as may be seen, above all, in their own sex-relations. For the fact that, in their restrictive lusts as occult misanthropists, they naturally pay most heed to man's deepest and most urgent passion, cannot have escaped anyone familiar with their character. Indeed, the very word "Puritan" has now come to bear a chiefly sex-phobic connotation.
Seizing on those features of Christianity which suggest hostility to sex, they use them to thwart and harass their fellows where they know frustration most hurts, and in this they usually exceed the severity with which they restrict gastronomical and other pleasures. Yet when we study their own way of life we have to acknowledge that, in the choice of their partners in sexual pastimes and in the choice and preparation of their food, they spare themselves as little as they do their fellow-men.
From the time of Cromwell the inferiority of their culinary arts has been proverbial (see A Short History of Social Life in England, by M. B. Synge, 1906, Chap. XVI), and the Englishwoman's black record as a cook may perhaps with justice be ascribed to the fact that in England the moral climate has for centuries, independently of denominational differences, been tainted with Puritanism.
The self-denial in venery, which the Puritan tries to force on his fellow-men, however, he imposes no less rigorously on himself. Indeed, few who have lived among low church. Nonconformist and dissenting communities in England, can have failed to notice the painful regularity with which the men choose their spouses less for their sex-appeal than for their qualification to wean them from venery altogether. It is as if the Puritan, obsessed with the Lord's disapproval of sexual intercourse, hoped
Be this as it may, whilst Christian doctrine, except according to James, the Jansenists and Protestants in general, can hardly be held directly responsible for the prevalent view, in countries professing the Reformed Faith, that religion is only morality, no doubt whatsoever exists about the deep Christian roots of the sex-phobia that has polluted Western civilization for the last two thousand years. Indeed, this charge is among the more prominent that modern historians and sociologists usually bring against the religion; and although, as we shall see, it may not be the gravest, it is sufficiently important and peculiar to Christianity to justify, by itself alone, serious doubts concerning the alleged supernatural provenance of the religion.
When Nietzsche declared that Christianity had "made something impure of sexuality and defiled the very source and quintessential condition of our life" (The Twilight of the Idols, Sect. 10, 4), he said no more than the plain truth. Bertrand Russell, referring to the consequences of Christianity's sex-phobia, observes, "Almost every adult in a Christian community is more or less diseased nervously as a result of the taboos on sex knowledge when he or she is young" (Rationalist Annual, 1930). Heine, from whom Nietzsche undoubtedly obtained many a valuable hint concerning this and other aspects of Christianity, says of it: "Being unable to do away altogether with material and earthly things, Christianity has everywhere tarnished and defiled them. It has disparaged and slandered the noblest pleasures, so that mankind's sensuality, obliged to dissemble, led to the birth of falsehood and sin. . . . According to the Christian standpoint the material side of life is evil per se, which, after all, is veritably not only slander but hideous blasphemy" (D. Buch II: "Das Christentum, unfähig die Materie zu vernichten, hat sie überall fletriert, es hat die adelsten Genüsse herabgewürdigt, und die Sinne müssten heucheln, und es entstand Lüge und Sünde. . . . Nach ihrer Weltanschauung ist die Materie an und für sich böse, was doch wahrlich eine Verleumdung ist, eine entsetzliche
But the witnesses to this prurient and negative character of Christianity are legion and the charge they make now is a commonplace. Yet many English divines and Christian apologists, staking on the ignorance and gullibility of the majority, have in recent years striven anxiously to defend Christianity against the charge. Aware of the marked change that has come over public opinion during the last few decades, precisely on the proper attitude to the sexual life a change to no small extent due to the wide dissemination of the new psychology, supported by a general revolt against the Puritanism of Victorian England these divines and Christian apologists, wishing to shield the Church and its faith from the unpopularity likely to be incurred by a continued enforcement of Christianity's traditional sex-phobia, have for many years now had the disingenuousness to maintain that no religion on earth has been more consistently broadminded and liberal concerning sexuality than Christianity itself.
A typical example of these intrepid, last-minute efforts to rescue the faith is Christopher Dawson's Christianity and Sex (1930), where the championship of Christianity against Bertrand Russell's attacks, though unlikely to impress anyone except a fanatical partisan, is undertaken with all the resources of a skilled debater, conscious of addressing a none too learned or critical audience. Another is G. W. Coutts's The Church and the Sex Question (1926), in which the author tries to dodge the whole issue by concentrating on Jesus's ipsissima verbs alone.
But even were we ready to debate the point with Mr. Coutts on his own chosen ground and abide strictly by what Jesus is reported to have said, the argument in his book would receive but scant support; for, on the authority of St. Matthew (xix. 12), we are assured that Jesus once said, "There be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake."
Dr. Cyril Alington is another who labours to persuade us that Christianity beams benignly on human sexuality, and, in replying to the charge of sex-phobia against his religion, says in effect: "Nonsense! That is all vieux jeu. Christianity now takes a wholly different view." Then, rather disingenuously, he sums up his denial by saying, "No sane Christian today shares the horror of any sexual relationship" (The Fool Hath Said, 1933, pp. 124125).
Then are we to assume that most, if not all, Christian missionaries are insane? For we should have liked to ask Dr. Alington when this alleged Christian volte-face took place and on whose authority it was performed. Turn to the reports about missionaries now engaged in spreading the very creed your Alingtons, Inges, Couttses and Dawsons try to defend, and you find that no matter what may be the attitude of apologists arduously striving to acquit their religion of the charge of sex-phobia, their attitude is certainly not shared by their representatives abroad, who still cling fanatically to at least that aspect of sex phobia made up of an abhorrence of the organs of sex. They still teach the innocent savage to feel ashamed of the procreative organs given him by the God he is invited to worship. They still teach the women of Africa, Melanesia and Polynesia to conceal the breasts given them by the Christian God to suckle their offspring "Cachez ce sein que je ne saurais voir. Cela fait venir de coupables pensées!" And this teaching is so consistent that,
More recent testimony to the same effect will be found in Blackwood's Magazine for October 1958, where in an article entitled "The Fort", by Surgeon Commander A. G. Bee, we are told that, "Missions are horrified by nakedness." The author says, "I do not know why"; but if he had studied Church history and its long record of sex-phobia, he would have understood. Referring to the mission of Iambi, he says, "One day the missionaries sent word to the chiefs that every adult, male and female, must buy a yard of 'Americani', American cloth, and wear it in Christian decency. The chiefs took necessary action, and everyone bought a length of cloth. Coming proudly to the mission upon occasions, each wore a smart turban and every part except the head was bare, every charm exposed both fore and aft, jingling with rings to give them emphasis."
This testimony, read in conjunction with Dr. Alington's cry of "vieux jeu!" shows to what desperate shifts Christian apologists are driven, even before an ill-informed gallery, when trying to exculpate their faith of the charge of sex-phobia. If capable of thought at all, theirs could be but slovenly; but if capable of anything better, they must deserve a more damaging charge; because, apart from the evidence of the Scriptures, even a superficial acquaintance with European history can leave no one in any doubt that Christianity has always frowned on sex and sexual intercourse. From the story of the Fall of Man to the idea of the Immaculate Conception as related in the New Testament, we are repeatedly made to feel that sexual intercourse is rather disreputable, impure, not to be tolerated for the procreation of any creature reputed to be holy. As Dr. J. F. Hecker remarks, There can be no doubt that organized religion knows itself to
"Behold I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psalm li. 5). Whether David wrote this or not is immaterial, for what concerns us is to note the strong strain of sex-phobia that informs the passage. But if David did write it, it is such a gratuitous vilification of human procreation because as far as we know David was the child neither of a common prostitute nor of a debauchee father as to compel the inference that Puritnaism was an early manifestation among the people from whom the Founder of Christianity derived. Nor can the fact that Christianity ultimately inherited this Semitic Puritanism be denied by any candid churchman. John Cowper Powys maintains that the Old Testament "suggests no ascetic implication that the pleasures of sex are unlawful" (P.O.L. Chap. "The Bible as Literature"). He evidently had forgotten both the story of the Fall and Psalm 51, to mention no other passages.
Logan Pearsall Smith records that his great-great grandmother, who had nine children, wrote in her diary in the years 176062: "If it is a sin to get children, how comes so much of it is done? It is a great mystery to me" (Reperusals and Recollections, 1936, Chap. VIII). Her hardly surprising perplexity reveals the extent to which verse 5 of Psalm 51 expresses a sentiment evidently widely inculcated in Christian England of the eighteenth century.
"It is good for a man not to touch a woman", said one of Christianity's earliest saints; "it is good for a man to remain a virgin", and "he who gives a woman in marriage does well; but he who gives her not in marriage does better". (I Corinthians vii. i, 26, 32). St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (A.D. 340397), solemnly declared that, "Every married woman knows she has cause to blush with shame" (quoted in P. J. Proudhon's Amour et Mariage, 1860, Dixième Étude, Chap. V. XLV). So deep is Christianity's sex-phobia, that even the custom of eating fish on holy days and fast days owes its existence to the fact that, as fish do not copulate, they are held to be free from the foulness that pollutes all animals quae copulatione generantur.
Thousands of early Christians, moreover, who took Jesus's
Hilary, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Pation of Barcelona all regarded St. Paul's sentiments in Romans viii. 6 and 8, as essential to a proper Christian attitude of mind. Sextus Philosophus, of the third century, openly recommended castration to everybody, and as late as the twelfth century, Robert Pulleyn, Peter Lombard and Pope Innocent II followed Augustine in holding that concupiscence was the root of all evil. The Council of Trent (154563) settled the matter for the whole future of the Catholic Church when it set virginity and celibacy above matrimony (see Canon X).
Nor did Protestantism improve the position. On the contrary, it made it worse; for, in its ugliest creation, the Puritans, it produced a sect whose most bitter regret was that, at the creation, they had not been at God's side to suggest a more drawing-roomy method of propagating species than the one he proposed to use. Indeed, Martin Luther's poor opinion of this aspect of the creation found emphatic expression, for on one occasion, he said, "Had God consulted me in the matter [of human procreation] I should have advised him to continue the generation of the species by fashioning them with clay in the way Adam was fashioned" (T.T. DCCL. II. p. 307).
This one feature of Christianity, as Bertrand Russell implies, wrought untold havoc in the Western world. Besides causing widespread individual misery and frustration, it has filled our
Christianity Not the Thoughtful Man's Religion III
As many of the reasons advanced to support this most serious charge may strike the average reader as strange and not even adumbrated by the generally familiar attacks made by the Rationalists, the present argument may suffer from all the drawbacks which naturally attend the uncustomary and unprecedented. For, in the history of anti-Christian thought, various forms of hostile criticism are found, not all of which have reached the general public of any civilized country, and some of which appear for the first time in these pages, or in works of mine already published (see, for instance, my Choice of a Mate, 1935; and Enemies of Women, 1948).
The best-known form of attack, popularized in innumerable publications throughout the nineteenth century, especially during its latter half and after, is that adopted by Thomas Huxley in his controversy with Dr. Wace. It confines itself to casting doubt on the authenticity of the Scriptures, on Christian dogma and legends, and concludes by stating why Agnosticism is the only honest and tenable attitude towards transcendental problems. Incidentally, it denies the divinity of Jesus (some Rationalists, including J. M. Robertson, deny even his historicity) without, however, adducing many of the compelling reasons which I have already stated in Chapter III supra; and questions all the alleged miraculous events connected with his name, including, of course, his birth and resurrection.
In other words, despite their unbelief, Rationalists, like churchmen, take the morality of Christianity for granted as the only morality. So deeply ingrained have become the impulses, judgments and prejudices conditioned by two millenniums of Christian indoctrination, that they tend to infer from their subconscious readiness to think and feel in a Christianly moral manner that Christian morality is self-evident and needs only to be placed, as Professor Corkey says, on "sure foundations" in order to become acceptable to all mankind. To this extent was Macaulay justified when he said, "To almost all men the state of things under which they have been used to live seems to be the necessary state of things". (Essay on Southey's Colloquies on Society, 1830).
But the reader may object that, if Macaulay is right in this, why were even the supernatural and mythical aspects of Christianity assailed? This was most probably owing to the fact that whereas recent scientific discoveries, popularized in thousands of publications, have informed modern mankind of the increasing incredibility of the lore and myth of Christianity, no equivalent scientific discoveries have so plainly exposed the doubtfulness of either the authority, validity, or desirability of Christian morals. Thus the task of recognizing and upholding this form of scepticism was necessarily left to thinkers penetrating and independent enough to approach Christian morals, unin-
"It was unlikely that much harm could overtake people who cared to believe in fairy-tales. Provided they could keep sane, where was the danger in believing say, in a Holy Ghost, in the Holy Trinity, in Jesus's virgin birth, in his divinity and resurrection, and in an almighty, all-knowing God, whose anger over the sins of his own creatures could be appeased by the death after prolonged torture of his beloved and only-begotten son? If they did not adversely affect his conduct, what harm could such beliefs possibly do a man?"
"But was the case the same with Christian morals? Could mankind with the same impunity believe in and practise them? Were these morals conducive to human prosperity and to the perpetuation of humanity in a desirable form? Or did they affect humanity unfavourably? If they did, then all the pother about the supernatural aspects of the creed was insignificant compared with the more vital question concerning the wisdom and safety of continuing to believe in and practise Christian morality."
Among the first to argue in this way was Heinrich Heine, and although he never stated it as explicitly as it is stated in the foregoing paragraphs, he set forth its essentials plainly enough to enable others to follow his lead. (see D. Erstes Buch, where he animadverts on the unwholesome stress Christianity lays on the attributes of the "soul", its corresponding neglect of bodily considerations, and the general "hospital atmosphere" Lazarethluft it has consequently spread throughout Europe).
What, above all, he placed on record as early as 1834 was his discovery that the Rationalists were really barking up the wrong tree and, whilst busily discarding one transcendental feature of Christianity after another, continued to cling tenaciously to its least desirable aspect its morality. (D. zweites Buch, where in discussing Christianity and the Rationalist attitude to it, he says: "Zuerst wurde ihr [i.e., Christianity] zur Ader gelassen, alles abergläubische Blut wurde ihr langsam abgezapt; um mich bildlos auszudrücken, es wurde der Versuch gemacht, allen historischen Inhalt aus dem Christentume heraus-
These pioneer criticisms of the Rationalist attitude on Heine's part are worthy of the highest praise; for he blazed a trail which it would have been well for Europe and, above all, for England to have followed. Unfortunately, it was not until Spencer (who as far as I know had never read Heine) appeared in England, and Nietzsche (who had both read Heine and pillaged him without acknowledgment) appeared in Germany, some forty to fifty years later, that Heine's valuable hints bore any fruit.
Spencer was certainly the first Englishman who, whilst undoubtedly belonging to the Rationalist school, yet had enough originality to question those elements in Christian morality which, by neglecting biological considerations, placed those ulteriorly endowed on an equal footing, as regards worthiness, with the superiorly endowed, and thus inaugurated the principle of sacrificing the greater to the less. Because, in the end, this policy did in fact burden the biologically superior with the dead weight of human defectives and unfortunates of all kinds. In addition, by elevating, promoting and cherishing them at the cost of the sound and biologically desirable, this policy naturally helped the undesirable to survive and multiply.
Perceiving this deplorable consequence of Christian morality, which the Rationalists, far from recognizing and condemning, actually defended. Spencer at least sounded a warning note. It was not a rousing call, calculated to summon his generation to reluctant but instant attention, and its importance has not been appreciated by the majority even to this day. But, considering the age in which it was uttered, it was a courageous pronouncement and may account for his not having been buried in Westminster Abbey. That it was allowed to pass unnoticed shows how deeply subconscious two thousand years of Christian indoctrination had caused Christian modes of reasoning and judging to become in the people of the Western world. So spontaneous and impulsive are such modes of reasoning and judging in modern men and women, that when an unusually profound anti-Christian note happens to be struck, hardly anyone ever catches, understands, or attempts to act upon it.
In the 'seventies of last century. Spencer wrote: "Any arrange-
The fact that the maxim Spencer here condemns is now put into practice by all societies observing Christian morals, and nowhere with greater recklessness than in present-day England, and the fact that the source of the said maxim lies in the over-emphasis Christianity lays on "soul", at the cost of body attributes, makes this passage in the Synthetic Philosophy one of the boldest pioneer assaults on Christian morality. For, in applying the principle of disregarding bodily attributes in assessing human worth, Christianity tends to promote policies which, by furthering the welfare and multiplication of the biologically ill-favoured and unsound, in the end cause the deterioration of human stocks. Because, even if the presence of the army of defectives does not contaminate and infect the sounder elements (which is doubtful), it handicaps them, imposes limits on their capacity to multiply, and thus jeopardizes their survival. The insensible decline of Christianity as a living faith, into a mere moral influence signalized chiefly by exorbitant benevolence towards the bungled and the botched, is probably what Macneile Dixon had in mind when he wrote: "Christianity or what remains of it . . . is fast melting, if it has not wholly evaporated, into humanitarianism." (T.H.S. Chap. II).
Spencer recognized this evil and tried in vain to rouse indignation about it. As this was a century ago, and its effect on the thought and sentiment of the English people has to this day remained undetectable, we obtain some idea of the grip one of the most harmful of Christian influences has fastened on the minds of civilized mankind. For, in this connection, it is important to remember that millions of the very people who today may be classed as unbelievers, nevertheless profess their whole-hearted approval of the maxim Spencer selects for his particular reprobation. To this extent have the morals of Christianity
By diverting the eye and the taste of mankind from the visible attributes of a fellow-being, and by minimizing the significance of these visible attributes, the insistence on soul qualities alone necessarily protected the ill constituted from the aloofness, not to say the repudiation, which, both in ordinary human intercourse and, above all, in matrimony, would otherwise have caused them to be eschewed as procreators of the race. One has but to observe the marked frequency with which "love" today stages dysgenic and obviously undesirable matings, in order to appreciate the extent to which the undue stress on soul qualities numbs modern people's sensibilities towards all those physical stigmata, blemishes, defects, which, under a wholesome regimentation of taste and judgment, would provoke aversion and repugnance.
Among the most disastrous results of Christianity's disregard of biological attributes in the estimation of human worth, has been Western mankind's adoption of the exact converse of the farmer's point of view and practice. Instead of uprooting and discouraging the weeds and noxious growths in order to spare, protect, and avoid the sacrifice of the nobler more valuable plants, we allow the weeds to flourish and multiply, always at the cost of the more desirable and more promising denizens of the human garden. We have conditioned our natures to react compassionately to what is misshapen, inferior and defective. Never do we dream of extending "pity" to those fast-diminishing stocks in the population, which, owing to their biological superiority, constitute the only guarantee we have of our race being able to survive in a desirable form. The very idea of championing these all-too-rare superior stocks as the husbandman champions his more valuable plants, because of the dangers and burdens threatening them from the quarter of weeds and fungi, would evoke no more than a puzzled stare, even if it did not actually provoke a laugh. Yet if we ask why, by what sophisticated reasoning on justice, it should have become an accepted
The same remarks apply to the principle of sacrifice. Why should it be regarded as right and de rigueur always to sacrifice the greater and more precious to the less, rather than the other way round? Can it be that Christianity's most sacred symbol the god nailed to the cross for the sake of the mob has, as a spectacle contemplated for twenty centuries, at last made Western humanity accept as incontrovertible and self-evident the principle it thus gruesomely illustrates?
In his essay (E.E.) Thomas Huxley asks: "What would become of the garden if the gardener (acting on the 'golden rule', Do as you would be done by) treated all the weeds and slugs and birds and trespassers as he would like to be treated if he were in their place?" (Prolegomena, IX). But, in replying to his own question, as we shall see, he displays so limited an understanding of the means whereby, in our advanced civilization, the husbandman's and the gardener's solicitude for their nobler plants might be applied to humanity without any of the violence which he thinks indispensable to such a policy, that he hardly rises above the level of the classical Rationalist, of whose restricted vision enough has been said already.
Deeply absorbed by the purely economic condition of the population, and the charitable and legislative measures adopted to allay distress measures admittedly due to Christian agitators and reformers the modern world, although emanicipated by Science and Rationalism from the thraldom of superstition, never thought of that other form of charity which would have consisted in relieving posterity of the burdens, unwholesome influence, and depressing spectacle, of human morbidity, defectiveness and ugliness, which every generation now shamelessly bequeaths to its successors. Even the thought that this duty entails preventing sound and desirable people from being
I have already mentioned that it was only with the appearance of Nietzsche's works that, after a time-lag of some forty-five years, Heine's valuable hints concerning the danger of Christian morals were effectively taken up; for even if we must deny Nietzsche originality in this matter, it was he, more than any other European, who clearly perceived the serious menace to humanity which, as Heine had pointed out, lurked unrecognized by the modern world in the morality of Christianity.
With extraordinary vividness he grasped that when once unseen and often merely presumed attributes are allowed to eclipse and supersede visible attributes in assessing the worth of a human being, the doors were opened wide to every possible deterioration of human stocks. Henceforward all the tainted, the unwholesome and morbid of the world would be held equal or actually superior to the sound and biologically desirable. Henceforward the measure of a man's worth would not be the promise he gave of being able to perpetuate the race in a form desirable from both the mental and physical point of view, but the degree of his conformity to certain "soul" standards, arbitrarily established without any reference to biological quality.
In stirring language, Nietzsche denounced this topsyturvification of all mankind's healthiest instincts and impulses, and with exceptional brilliance and an un-German absence of sentimentality, he called Europe's attention to the danger of a morality consistent with, if not authorized by, St. Paul's ill-considered utterance in Chapter IV of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians:
"We [i.e., the Christians] look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
Although conditions in respect of health and stamina were already alarming enough in his day, Nietzsche did not live to see the high incidence of morbidity, physical defect and insanity now
"We must not embellish or deck out our Christianity," he exclaimed, "it has waged a deadly war against the higher type of man; it has set a ban upon all the fundamental instincts of this type. . . . Christianity has taken the pan of everything weak, low and ill-favoured; it has made an ideal out of antagonism to all the self-preservative impulses and promptings of vigorous, healthy life" (The Antichrist, 5).
Elsewhere he says: "The sickly are the great danger of man: not the wicked, not the beasts of prey. They who are ill-shaped, prostrated and wrecked from birth, they, the weakest, are the people who most undermine human life, who most dangerously poison and question our confidence in life, in man, in ourselves" (Genealogy of Morals, III, 14).
In Thus Spake Zarathustra (XVI; Neighbour Love), the thought of what mankind's future must be if Christian morals were to continue dominating us, he expressed as follows:
"Do I advise you to love your neighbour? . . . Higher than love for your neighbour is love of the most remote man of the future;
"It is the more distant (your children and your children's children) who have to pay for your love of your neighbour!"
And he concludes his long indictment of the old religion by declaring: "this eternal accusation of Christianity I would fain write on all walls, wherever there are walls. I call Christianity the one great curse, the one enormous and quintessential perversion. . . . I call it the one immortal blemish on mankind" (The Antichrist, 62).
But it would be a grave error to suppose that Nietzsche's lucid demonstration of Christianity's rôle in favouring the multiplication of the ill favoured and biologically corrupt, and in thus plotting the deterioration of all human stocks, was taken up with any eagerness at least in England. Sentimentality, the power of the churches, the indoctrination of centuries, and the influence of the sickly and defective themselves, were too formidable. The
Incidentally, I may mention that when, some three or four decades ago, I was invited to join the society in question and I declined, I gave as my reason that I saw no chance of realizing the society's aims so long as its council could retain Dean Inge on its board.
Here and there, thinkers have appeared far-seeing enough to recognize the urgency of questioning Christian morals; but they have been too few to make much impression, and, except for Bradley, their protests have been too timid and lacking in candour.
Margaret Mead, for instance, in Male and Female (1949, Part II, Chap. IV), acknowledges that "We are trained by our society to keep our bodies out of our minds". But it is significant that she should say "by our society" and does not dare to mention the exalted religious source and authority for this training. Dr. G. A. Dorsey is certainly a little more outspoken; for, thirty one years after Nietzsche's death and a century after Heine published his Deutschland, he said of the Christians: "their religion was incompatible with mens sana in corpore sano. They exalted faith in God above such human qualities as health, loveableness, etc." (C. Chap. IX, v).
But by far the most remarkable and penetrating attack on Christian morals was that made as long ago as 1894 by that most brilliant of English philosophers, F. H. Bradley.
"When we modify and depart from the workings of natural selection," he said, "I urge that we ought at least to proceed on some kind of principle. . . . The laws of past progress must, I admit, be qualified through progress itself, but it is not likely that these laws have become wholly invalid. And, at any rate, to assume this without grounds seems plainly absurd. But in our morals and politics this absurdity is dominant. . . . We compel the higher type to stand by helpless and to be outbred by the weaker and the lower, and we force it to contribute itself to the process of its own extrusion . . . on the main point, the suppression of undesirable types, we appear ready to entrust our destinies to Providence. . . . And we ourselves deliberately, we know, may
When we reflect that this was written by an erudite Englishman who, as far as I am aware, had never heard of Nietzsche's expression of the same sentiments in similar language, it seems incredible that today, sixty four years after Bradley wrote this notable essay, the vast majority of even educated English people should still feel no misgivings about the dangers of Christian morality. For to single out but one of the old religion's disastrous features the cruelty perpetrated against posterity and the biologically superior that still manage to survive, by Christian pity for the defective, the biologically shoddy of all kinds and the demented; surely this cruelty should suffice to make all rational humanitarians at least dubious about the religion.
There have of course been others who have voiced views similar to Bradley's; but none who has equalled, much less surpassed, the cogency and passion of his protest. The nearest approach to his sentiments is to be found in Professor William McDougall's R.S.L. written exactly forty years after the essay on Punishment. In Chapter IX of this book McDougall says: "At the present time the State not only does nothing to promote a relatively rapid multiplication of the intrinsically superior elements of the population, but it actually maintains an extensive and unjust system by which it restricts the multiplication of these elements."
It is, however, typical of modern scientific publicists that even when they are in favour of reforms antagonistic to the sentiments established by Christian morals, and even when their erudition leaves us in no doubt concerning their awareness of the source of the evils they expose, they are usually scrupulously careful to avoid any direct allusion to it. In regard to the foregoing quotation from McDougaIl, for instance, it will be noticed that, just as
The objection usually raised, especially by Englishwomen of all classes, to any eugenic policy or any suggested modification of the present practice of favouring the biologically unsound at the cost of the sound and promising, is generally expressed by exclaiming, "Ah, poor things! They can't help it!" So often have I had this plea addressed to me when I have been lecturing on the physical deterioration of the English people, and it is so likely to be on the tip of many of my readers' tongues, that it cannot be left unnoticed, especially as it reflects in a striking manner on the character of our present-day morality.
The objection, framed more carefully, is as follows: "Although it is admitted that the diseased, defective, demented and deformed are now a severe burden on the sane, hale and hearty in the nation, gravely deplete the latter's resources, restrict their ability to multiply and to regenerate the country's population, and, by constituting foci of further racial pollution and corruption, exercise a twofold dysgenic influence on society, it must nevertheless be conceded in all fairness that, after all, it is not the fault of these unfortunates that they are thus ill-favoured. They cannot help being biologically shoddy and depraved."
Now the remarkable and arresting feature of this objection, with its implied defence of a form of parasitism which presents the gravest problems for the future, is that in our civilization it is raised only and exclusively in respect of the sickly, the degenerate and the physiologically bungled and botched. It is never even whispered in any other connection.
One never sees the members of any women's organization, chaining themselves to railings, destroying old masters in the National Gallery, stopping Royal horses at the Derby, or heckling and assaulting Cabinet Ministers (after the manner of the Suffragettes fighting for the futile Vote), in order to call Government attention to the appalling loss of child life on our roads every year. One never hears such women protesting that little children cannot help being little children and that therefore it is inhuman to allow lethal machines like modern road vehicles to
One never hears anyone, man or woman, protesting that lambs, sheep, pigs and bullocks cannot help being what they are and should therefore be accommodated on our hearth-rugs as pets, instead of being wantonly butchered. Nor, during the two world wars, did I ever hear any Englishwoman, however sentimental, protest that our sound and healthy young men could not help being what they were, and therefore it was unfair to pack them off to the Front to face the enemy's light and heavy artillery. Indeed, during World War I, despite the appalling loss of young male life, the women of England, as I have already shown in many of my most unpopular publications, were, to the astonishment of men like John Cowper Powys, Norwood Young and Arnold Bennett, not only busy pressing their men friends to get into khaki, but were actually unanimous in wishing to prolong the war "to the last young man". The most egregious of these ardent sacrificers of sound young men was Christabel Pankhurst and the disgraceful audiences she used to address every week at the Pavilion in Piccadilly.
When did anyone during World War I hear the sort of woman who most vociferously champions what Bradley called "lower human types", express the kind of horror felt by Bertrand Russell at the slaughter of sound, healthy English youth on the Western Front? "I used to watch," he says, "young men embarking in troop trains to be slaughtered on the Somme because Generals were stupid. I felt an aching compassion for the young men" (H. Oct. 1958).
I never heard any such remark from a woman during the whole of World War I. Yet, when it is a matter of sacrificing the unsound, the tainted, the sickly, the defective and the deformed, for the good of those of their contemporaries who in their persons present some promise of perpetuating the race in a desirable form, there is not a woman in the whole length and breadth of the land, and not a man debilitated by female influence, who, in anguished tones will not expostulate: "Ah! poor things! They can't help it!"
The gratuitous and arbitrary reservation of this compassionate plea for the least precious specimens in the nation, is surely suspicious, and should open the eyes of impartial judges to the powerful hold Christian morality has fastened on the impulses
Christianity Not the Thoughtful Man's Religion IV
We have but to look at the present cost of our National Health Service which, in the twelvemonth 195758 amounted to £585,000,000, i.e. £50,000,000 more than the previous year (B.M.J. 23.8.58), and to learn that even twelve years ago it was already dispensing 228,879,170 prescriptions, whilst its dentists, in the five years between 1947 and 1952, distributed 10,500,000 dentures; in order to appreciate the magnitude of the morbidity we have now reached. With about 280,000,000 work days lost every year through illness (The Times, 6.9.57), and the incidence of sickness increasing every year, the question arises whether, apart from the matter of our future as a race, we shall be able to carry on at all in a few years time. We are told, for instance, that the number of patients treated in hospital rose by some 54,000 to 3,793,000 in 1957, and yet by the end of the year about 490,000 9,000 more than in the previous year were awaiting admission.
The question regarding the future is all the more pressing, seeing that the figures quoted not only exclude the vast population of defectives, cripples, incurables and insane now housed in private institutions, but also give no complete idea of the total
In Dr. Stokes's survey, it was found "that but of 100 persons complaining of some illness during an average month, 77 of them did not visit a doctor. "It is evident," he concludes, "that with less than a quarter of sick persons visiting their doctor in a month, only an incomplete picture of total morbidity can be obtained from medical records" (Studies in Medical Population Subjects: Study No. 12, 1957, and Study No. 2, 1942).
But when we reflect on the chronic invalidism and morbidity hidden away in private houses, in nursing homes and similar places, we appreciate that official records of illness and defect furnished by the Health Service, even when the picture they present is amplified by such surveys as those above-mentioned, still give us only an inadequate idea of the nation's total ill health and biological abnormality.
We know that blindness, deaf-mutism and mental defect are everywhere increasing; whilst downright dementia, even if only of a temporary kind, is becoming every day more general. Over twenty years ago. Dr. Frances Harding declared that "if the growth of insanity continues at its present rate every man, woman and child will probably be mad by the year 2039" (Daily Press, 8.11.36); whilst Dr. A. J. B. Griffin, the Officer of Health of Worcester, in his report of 23rd September 1958, said that soon "it will be a distinction not to have at any time been an in-patient in a mental hospital" (i.e., the modern euphemism for a "lunatic asylum" adopted in order to spare the tender feelings of our gullible masses, high and low).
In view of these and many similar facts that could be adduced, is not the complacency of the authorities and the general public astonishing? How is it to be explained? For we surely need little
I speak of evidence officially furnished, but which of us who keeps his eyes and ears alert requires documentary proof of our deplorable condition? Do we need more than a few minutes of careful attention wherever our fellow men and women congregate, in order at once to be convinced that sickness, disease, defect and deformity today pass for the ordinary, customary aye! expected, lot of all human beings? With endless queues waiting for beds at all our hospitals and with our lunatic asylums scandalously overcrowded, who can doubt our parlous condition? "At present," Allendale Sanderson writes, "there are 20,000 more patients in mental hospitals than they should hold," and, as one small fact illustrating the burden now thrust on the sound and healthy by the biological scum of our society, he mentions that the present cost of caring for 150,000 mental patients and 60,000 mental defectives in the 400 mental hospitals in the United Kingdom, is £1,000,000 per week (T.M. May 1956; article: Mournful Numbers). Nor is there much of a prospect of any alleviation of this burden; for, according to R. C. Cook (Human Fertility: The Modern Dilemma, 1951, Chap. XII), "The present pattern of reproduction, if continued for another generation, may halve the number of scholarship ability and double the number of feeble-minded."
The talk of every couple, of every group, in train, coaches, buses, streets, halls and private houses, is always about the illness, operation, defect, or at least hospitalization, of some relative, friend, acquaintance, or of the speaker him- or herself. Yet nobody turns a hair! It is all taken for granted. Least of all is it ever felt as shameful, or nauseating. How many of us can truthfully claim that we know one only one thoroughly healthy person, including ourselves? According to the B.M.J. (29.2.36), the Pioneer Health Centre at Peckham, carried out a survey which revealed that 90 per cent of persons over 25 years of age in the families of the artisan class investigated, had some physical defect.
Yet, very seldom does any leading politician or scientist commit himself to a public expression of his alarm at this state of affairs. Even when he does, however, his remarks are so temperate and indicative of his "sense of humour", that they leave things as they are and confirm the public in their comfortable blindness. Is this craven restraint deliberate? An example of it is to be found
Yes! But there follows no hint about the moral doctrines fostering all this human uncomeliness and defect; nor, in view of the urgency of reforming our sentiments, can Dr. McDougall's statement be regarded as very challenging. What can explain this relative equanimity among our leaders and the masses, high and low, and the unshaken self-esteem of the English generally, in the presence of all this visible, audible and importunate human morbidity and abnormality, unless it be the habit of mind inculcated upon all by centuries of Christian teaching, that the body and its conditions matter so little compared with the soul, that all of us have become insensitive, indifferent, to human repulsiveness and biological depravity?
"D'où vient qu'un boiteux ne nous irrite pas," Pascal asked, somewhere about the middle of the seventeenth century, "et qu'un esprit boiteux nous irrite?" (P. Ière Partie, Article VIII, ix: "How is it that the halt and the lame do not annoy us, and that the halting and lamed mind does"?).
Pascal's answer is fanciful; for the truth is that even in his time, three centuries ago, the European's habit of mind had already been conditioned to take human physical defects, however repulsive, for granted, and to regard only so-called "spiritual" ones as worthy of censure.
It is conceivable, apart from the prevalence today of what might be termed merely "medicated survival", that one of the more important factors, next to centuries of Christian indoctrination, which may account to some extent at least for the strange indifference of the British public towards their prevailing morbidity and abnormality, is the prominent rôle that improved transport facilities have played in the last century and a half throughout
In the course of hardly a century and a half, however, such marked and steady progress has occurred in all kinds of mechanical transport, and the present age has seen such a spectacular and wide distribution of both public and private conveyances that enable the feeble, the decrepit, and even the incapacitated, to travel at speeds which, little more than half a century ago, were confined to the railways, that the inevitable result has been a successful, but nevertheless insidious, masking of most physical failings, feebleness or bodily flabbiness. And this mitigation of subnormality or morbidity, which formerly hampered mobility and could not escape attention, is nowhere more effectual and more deceptive than in the use of the "internal combustion engine"; for here, the dizzy speeds which can be attained even by the most debilitated and cachectic of drivers, merely by pressing the accelerator, gives the person at the wheel a sense of power and efficiency so illusory, so spurious, that a totally false picture of his or her condition is impressively and constantly presented.
The high speeds attainable in a car may be the principal factor, not only in masking the prevailing morbidity, but also in relieving the pullulating feelings of inferiority which naturally afflict a people riddled with organic defects. This was certainly the view of Dr. Lampériere who, in a discussion with other doctors, said that the desire for speed was among other things "a compensation for feelings of inferiority and of inadequacy in adults" (B.M.J. 8.9.56); whilst Mr. Malcolm Muggeridge, speaking of the modern man and his car, says, "With such power at his disposal, the weakest feel strong, and the poorest-spirited, formidable" (T.T. Chap. IV, vii).
Thus, it seems legitimate to conclude that, among the less thoughtful members of the populations of the West, which are the great majority, a false sense of self-satisfaction arises. At the very least, they have their attention powerfully and constantly diverted from their physical shortcomings, including their failing stamina, by the profusion of mechanical aids now put at their
"Then what is your remedy?" the reader asks; and, in the defiance of his tone, I sense his assumption that he knows my answer and has the appropriate retort ready. What he expects me to say is, "A lethal chamber for the human rubbish we are salvaging at the cost of the dwindling minority of the sound and promising," and if I hint at such a thing, he is prepared at once to retort that the decent English public would never tolerate such "Nazi" or "fascist sadism".
Incidentally, it should be noted that when the average person formulates this sort of reply, he not only shows himself incapable of going further back in history than World War II as if thought on this question began then but also betrays his expectation of immediate applause from every moron in the nation, whose alleged inability to suffer the violent elimination of even selected lower-grade defectives, is compounded with the patient, not to say, cheerful, endurance of the death of thousands of quite unselected and presumably sound adults and children on our highways every year.
No wonder a thinker like Macneile Dixon, comparing the suspicious fortitude of the public in regard to the slaughter on our roads with the hysterical fuss made over the deaths due to war, felt compelled to exclaim, "Will someone be good enough to tell me why the one kind of killing is condoned, the other condemned?" (T.H.S. Chap. IX).
But let that pass, for I have no intention of proposing to the English public, corrupted by centuries of Christian sophistries, anything so painful to their tender sensibilities and so welcome to their dialectical powers, as a lethal chamber for the most hopeless of our hospitalized population. I am too well aware that if this were the only alternative to their present policy of laisser aller, it would but rivet them more tightly to their determination indefinitely to postpone all attempts at grappling with the problem, especially along such lines as the compassionate farmer follows to protect his more precious plants.
It is, therefore all the more surprising that thinkers like Thomas Huxley and F. H. Bradley should both have had only some such remedy in mind when, confronted with the mounting
Thus, in discussing the conflict of Christian morality with Nature's wholesome practice of sloughing off from the main body any diseased or rotten member, Huxley had to face the question how the present tendency to preserve and foster the defective and ill-favoured may now be corrected. Unable to grasp the iniquity of withholding all pity and protection from the meagre minority of the sound and promising, whose multiplication and very existence are imperilled by the soaring claims of the biologically depraved, he plunges immediately into a discussion of the possible moral consequences and repercussions of such a method, as they would affect the character and the domestic and social virtues of any population that adopted it. "I do not see," he says, "how such selection could be practised without a serious weakening, it may be the destruction, of the bonds which hold society together. It strikes me that men who are accustomed to contemplate the active or passive extirpation of the weak, the unfortunate, and the superfluous; who justify that conduct on the ground that it has the sanctity of the cosmic process, and is the only way of ensuring the progress of the race [why did he not say, "the preservation of the race"?] . . . on whose matrimonial undertakings the principles of the stud have the chief influence; whose lives, therefore, are an education in the noble art of suppressing material affection and sympathy, are not likely to have any large stock of these commodities left" (E.E. Prolegomena, XII).
The argument against the violent extirpation of tainted, defective and ill-bred human beings, including monsters and raving maniacs, could hardly be stated with more vigour and less judicial impartiality; for, apart from the fact that Huxley adduces no evidence to show that sympathy and the bonds holding society together were destroyed by the ancient Spartan custom of hurling ill-favoured infants into the place called Apothetae, a deep
Nor is it either fair, realistic, or even logical, to assume that because a couple marry only after careful enquiry and scrutiny have shown them to be sound and free from defect, that therefore their union must of necessity be destitute of affection and mutual devotion. Such expressions as "principles of the stud", which, as Huxley well knew, suggest the breeding of pigs and kine, when applied to the wise and prudent selection of a good mate, may be relied upon to arouse indignation in the ignorant, the thoughtless and the sentimental; but they are surely unworthy of a social philosopher, earnestly concerned about the future well-being of his fellow men.
When we read that the ancient Hindu legislator, Manu, insisted on all blemishes being declared before marriage, and on the infliction of suitable penalties if this were not done (Laws, VIII, 8), are we to infer that there was never any affection between the couples who complied with this ruling?
According to an ancient Jewish law, "If some previously unknown defect was found in the wife after marriage, she was divorced without receiving back her marriage settlement," which implies that defects had to be revealed in advance; whilst people "with an hereditary taint in the family are discouraged from marrying". (Talmud, Kethuboth, 92b and 75a). Are we to assume on Huxley's authority that this law destroyed all the natural affection felt for each other by young Jewish couples? An old Icelandic law obliged the giver in marriage to hand over the bride "free from all physical blemish" (Das Weib in der Natur und Völkerkunde, by Drs. A. Ploss and M. P. Bartels, 1927, Vol. II, p. 229); whilst the Burmese law "compelled the father of the bride to call the bridegroom's attention to any blemish in the maiden, and the marriage contract was cancelled if important
According to an interesting Jewish provision made by the Talmud sages, a husband was not allowed to repudiate his wife for a hidden bodily blemish, unless there was no bathing establishment in the town where the couple belonged. For if such an establishment existed, the husband "would be able to have her seen there by his (female) relatives before marriage" (Talmud, Kethuboth, 75r, p. 242). It was probably with the same intention that in former times in Russia, "a girl, about to be married, exhibited herself naked to her future husband's friends" (E. P. de Sénancourt: De L'Amour, 1805, p. 182, note: "jadis, en Russie, une fille, au moment de se marier, se montrait nue aux amis de celui qui devout l'épouser").
The Jewish people are alleged (very sensibly!) to have included even foul breath among 145 defects disqualifying a woman from marriage (The Jewish Child, by Dr. W. M. Feldman, 1917, p. 44). Would Huxley have been justified, had he inferred from these facts that all Icelandic, Burmese and Jewish couples married without any affection, or with feelings of affection less ardent than those possessed by that gangrenous couple of consumptives described by Lytton in Pilgrims of the Rhine? Do the marriages of our diseased, tainted, defective and neurotic couples in England today, none of whom have been married according to the "principles of the stud", turn out happier and more lasting than those of couples whose families have observed these principles? If so, is not our present average annual total of 32,757 marriage failures rather strange?
It seems, therefore, highly probable that, in the passage quoted from Huxley's Evolution and Ethics, he was not so much playing to the sentimental gallery which, in the England of his day, as in ours at the present time, was packed to suffocation-for I consider him above trying to appeal to popular prejudice as unconsciously expressing that deeply-rooted European hatred of taking physical attributes into account in assessing human worth; a hatred conditioned by centuries of Christian indoctrination. For, as Canon Oliver Chase Quick so ingenuously confesses: "True Christian faith always puts the health of the spirit first" (Christian Beliefs and Modern Questions, 1924, Lecture VII). Huxley was too intelligent and well informed really to believe that what he called "the principles of the stud" applied to matrimony, would inevitably destroy affection. But fundamentally these principles
F. H. Bradley, like Huxley and most modern people, could also see but one solution violent extirpation. But, unlike the sentimental mob, high and low, which remains callously indifferent to the injustices and cruelties inflicted on the sound by the hosts of human defectives, he does not cling to this solution in the hope of indefinitely postponing all attempts to apply a remedy. On the contrary, he accepts the consequences of this drastic solution with a clean conscience; calls it "moral surgery", and cannot understand why it should not be applied forthwith. Far from sharing Huxley's qualms about emulating the farmer's policy of ruthlessly preventing the weeds from choking the more precious plants, he believes that this would have only favourable results. "Against the unlimited right of the moral organism," he says, "to dispose of its members, is there anything to be set? There is nothing so far as I see, but superstition and prejudice," and he stresses the need of what he terms "ethical surgery". "Our remedy", he declares, "would have to utter and enforce the sentences, 'You and you are dangerous specimens, you must depart in peace.' It would probably add, "There are some children here over and above what we want, and their origin, to say the least, is suspicious. We utterly decline to rear these children at the public cost and, so far as we can judge, to the public injury;" and his freedom from any subconscious Christian promptings is shown by his denial of the Christian principle of "the sacredness of human life" when it is but Biological Brummagem (S.R.P.).
Now, F. H. Bradley is acknowledged to have been one of the greatest English philosophers of the late nineteenth century. But he was Huxley's junior by twenty-one years, and this altered his outlook. Huxley was still unaware of his powerful Christian bias; whilst Bradley had so successfully purged his system of it as to
Another courageous advocate of extirpation is the American psychiatrist. Dr. Cole Davis. Addressing the Rotary Club, Atlantic City, in 1934, he said: "We probably will not live to see the day, but it is coming. It will become necessary both to protect society and ease the burden which is threatening to swamp us. . . . Incurables and idiots should be recommended for destruction by the superintendents of institutions after long observation and with the consent of families, then examined by boards of psychiatrists." Then speaking of the insane, he added, "The increase of such persons is at the rate of 10,000 a year; a few years ago it was only 3,000 a year" (Daily Mail, 1.1.34).
In his Theory of Morals (1928, Chap. III), E. F. Carritt says of the virtues of the superior man that "he will be more just, more merciful and more self-sacrificing" than other men. William James also observes, "A man is nothing unless he is capable of sacrifices." Here again, we recognize a powerful unconscious Christian strain; for, unless we know what sort of sacrifice is meant, these statements lie under the suspicion of being merely the Christian principle of expecting the sacrifice of the greater for the less; particularly as it is here demanded of the superior man. Yet, the very last thing a world disinfected of Christian influence would require, would be the sacrifice of the superior man.
Why is it always assumed by Christians that if sacrifice is demanded at all, it must always be of the greater for the less? Has the duty of self-sacrifice ever been preached to the biologically hopeless? I believe not. But if that is so and we have no record of their refusal to perform it, why is it always gratuitously assumed that they are quite incapable of it and, provided that they were mentally capable of reasoning at all, would decline to exercise it if exhorted to do so; whilst, on the contrary, the biologically superior are always assumed to be ready and eager self-sacrificers? It has certainly never been satisfactorily explained why the fastening of the duty of self-sacrifice upon the desirable and the promising alone, was thought to be a more lofty moral principle than its converse. Nor is it easy to understand how the general public can continue to be blind to the state of biological emergency to which this policy has led.
In war-time we make it a matter of glory and nobility to
We raise the cross displaying a god immolated for the mob and exclaim, "In hoc signo vinces!"; and the masses high and low do not understand that the sign spells, not conquest for all that a tasteful people should hold most high, but victory for pollution and purulence. So that even if there were no other remedy than Bradley's for the scourge of human decay and degeneracy, we should agree with him that there is nothing to be said against it.
Nevertheless, we are no more ready to accept it for ridding our world of its rotten elements than we are ready to agree with Huxley's reasons for rejecting it. Nor should we be inclined to favour even the method known as "Voluntary Sterilization", recommended by the Departmental Committee on Sterilization, by which mental and physical defectives could be deprived of their capacity for parenthood, although this does not mean that we agree with Dr. H. P. Newsholme's far-fetched, romantic and wholly unconvincing reasons for disapproving of it (C.E. Chap. VIII). For there lies to hand a more effective, more certain, though perhaps slower, remedy in the method advocated in masterly fashion by Nietzsche. I refer to The Transvaluation of Values, which has not yet been understood by three generations of Nietzsche-readers, and which I shall try to explain once more in the next chapter.
To this churchmen reply that as man's suffering is always due
When, against this, the Rationalists argue that punishment seems to fall on the innocents just as much as on the guilty, all he can say is, "it may be the call to higher things".
Besides, it is not accurate to say that "the statement that suffering was introduced into the world by sin is not a Christian dogma", seeing that every child in a Christian country is taught about the Fall of Man and God's sharp rebuke to Adam and Eve after their sin, and his promise of harsh tribulation to both of them on account of it (Genesis iii. 1619). It is therefore difficult to avoid the inference that sin did introduce suffering into the world.
The Rev. Harold Anson does not attempt to hedge. He says outright, "if we knew all the circumstances which surround every case of suffering, we should always be able to point to the sin which caused it. . . . If sin were to cease today, suffering would also cease. . . . It is wrong and dishonouring to God to say that it is His will that there should be suffering in the world". (C.P. Chap. XI).
There is undoubtedly much truth in this Christian retort to the Rationalists. Every day we see some form of human suffering that is the result of an error of judgment or behaviour. But, if we are to be fair in allotting the blame, we must distinguish between what in the Christian sense is "sin", and what is merely an ignorant breach of a natural law, or the outcome of obeying some mistaken, but superior authority.
When, in the old days, the father of a family squandered his earnings on drink and deprived his wife and children of sustenance so that they all died of the consequences of starvation (tuberculosis, for instance), that was clearly innocent suffering through guilt and sin. When he himself subsequently died of General Paralysis of the Insane, his was clearly a case of suffering through sin; for he would not have contacted G.P.I. had he
But when the whole of a Christian people, as I have shown, grow ever more and more tainted, diseased and defective, through too faithfully following the Socratic precepts implicit in Christianity, which lead every generation, when assessing human worth, to consider only invisible qualities, this is surely sinning, and the biological corruption that ensues is clearly condign punishment for sin. But it is certainly not sinning from the Christian point of view. On the contrary, it is no more than the practical application of the rule laid down by St. Paul in Chapter 4 of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians.
Even in the case of the drunken syphilitic father aforesaid, however, the Rationalists might still discern factors conflicting with the hypothesis of a God of Love; for they might argue that although the father's dipsomania was a sin, had the micro-organisms of disease not existed in the creation, neither his children nor he himself would have suffered the punishments I have described.
Nevertheless, I think we may safely grant the Christians' claim that a substantial amount of human suffering is the outcome of either deliberate or careless violations of a natural law; although, even if it were possible to multiply the instances of breaches a thousandfold, they would still not absolve the Creator of his responsibility for an enormous amount of human suffering unearned by sin.
It would be impossible, for instance, to compute the enormous amount of suffering, unprovoked by either sin or even ignorance (culpable or otherwise), that humanity has undergone and in some parts of the world is still undergoing, from the attacks of wild animals-the carnivores, reptiles and rodents; of insects, poisonous or disease-bearing; of parasites, whether internal or external, and the micro-organisms of lethal illnesses. Nor can we form any adequate estimate of the pain and mortality caused by such natural calamities as floods, droughts, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tempests. The terrible earthquake of Messina in 1908, for instance, which caused the deaths of 77,283 people, led many so-called "simple" Christians to question their faith in the Almighty's benevolence. The devastations of insect and other pests, alone, must be accountable in the history of mankind for
It would be difficult by any process of reasoning, however subtle, to attribute the pain and mortality which have been the outcome of these various agencies, to the deliberate sinfulness of those who were their victims, and the Rev. Harold Anson's statement to the effect that "if sin were to cease today, suffering would also cease", cannot therefore be sustained. Moreover, when we come to consider the essential rôle played in the formation of character and in the determination of behaviour, by a human being's endocrine glands and his particular genes, we may often seriously hesitate about whom to blame, man or his Maker, for even the most revolting of human actions.
Thus, Macneile Dixon, speaking of Dante's assigning "human creatures to heaven or hell for their behaviour in this life", and implying that the great Italian poet was ignorant of the influence of endocrine glands and of hereditary genes on mankind's conduct, exclaims:
"Eternal damnation following upon deficiency in phosphorus or iodine, upon some hereditary twist!" (T.H.S. Chap. II).
The argument against the Rev. Anson's claim, however, acquires much added strength when it is extended to the suffering of animals; because here there can be no question of sin, retribution and punishment, and the agonies daily endured by countless creatures of all kinds, whether from the quarter of predatory foes or from that of parasites and insects, since the moment when sentient beings first began to inhabit our earth, must be as far beyond our power to imagine as they are wholly unaccountable. From prehistoric times to the present day, the number and variety of diabolical monsters that have been ruthlessly preying on more or less defenceless species, and the toll of terror, torture and violent deaths for which they have been answerable are quite incalculable. All we know for certain is that, from the first moment of organic life on earth, slaughter and mutilation under the cruellest conditions and often without
"To believe in the carnivorous reptiles of geologic times," says William James, "is hard for our imagination. Yet there is no tooth in any one of those museum skulls that did not daily throughout long years of the foretime hold fast to the body struggling in despair of some fated living victim. Forms of horror just as dreadful to their victims, if on a smaller scale, fill the world about us today. Here on our very hearths and in our gardens the infernal cat plays with the panting mouse, or holds the hot bird fluttering in her jaws. Crocodiles and rattlesnakes and pythons are at this moment vessels of life as real as we are . . . and wherever they or other wild beasts clutch their living prey, the deadly horror which an agitated melancholiac feels is the literally right reaction on the situation" (V.R.E. Lectures VI and VII).
Evidently pondering the same facts as these, Bertrand Russell, commenting on Hugh Miller's Testimony of the Rocks, says, "Hugh Miller describes vividly, with a certain horror, the instruments of death and even of torture employed against each other by species of animals which were extinct before man existed . . . a benevolent Creator could not have created such monsters" (R.S. Chap. III); and, referring to this world, he says (W. Chap. 4), "if it is the outcome of deliberate purpose, the purpose must have been that of a fiend".
In a like vein, Macneile Dixon, referring to Nature, exclaims, "You cannot instruct her in any of the torturer's or the executioner's arts. There is no benevolence in the forest. If you complain that men are a cruel breed, you need not inquire whence they derive the propensity. It is inherited, and from the mother's side" (T.H.S. Chap. IV).
John Cowper Powys takes much the same view. He says, "Let us be less cruel than God," and in the following chapter, he exclaims, "Deep, deep in the heart of God, must be implanted the love of causing suffering" (D.S. Chap. VI).
These are not the idle jibes of frivolous voluptuaries; but, as we know from their work and lives, the ripe judgments of profound and sober thinkers who, not in the impulsive ardour of rebellious youth, but in the calm autumn of their years, thus summed up their views about the suffering which they found so prominent a feature of existence. Nor do I think that any satis-
Powys put their point of view vividly before us when he wrote: "The world we live in is so full of appalling cruelties and oppressions . . . that the idea of a loving Father being behind all this and responsible for all this, strikes an unobsequious and healthy mind as a horrible and evil mockery. . . . The excuse for God usually put up by believers is the excuse used by Zeus in Homer, namely that all the evil in the world is due to the free will of man. But this excuse hardly applies to the abominable sufferings of the animal world or even to the decidedly unpleasant things that go on in the vegetable world" (P.O.L. Chap. "The Bible as Literature").
There is, I fear, no answer to this, and it would seem as if only the wilfully blind could refuse to see its implication, which is once more that the Christian "God of Love" cannot be accepted as a possibility by the thoughtful man. Even Joad, in his vindication of Christianity, says of the sufferings of animals, "The problem is for me unresolved" (R.O.B. Chap. I).
Churchmen have tried their utmost to counter the argument of the Rationalists against a Loving Creator; but hardly with success; and to have to resort at this time of day to the escapist ruse of invoking a bogey in the form of an evil spirit contending with a benevolent deity, is surely evidence rather of desperation than of calm reflection.
Canon B. H. Streeter, for instance, discussing "God and the World's Pain", says, "God is able to bring good out of evil, but to see the hand of God in evil itself is an error. . . . If men are taught to see the hand of God when they ought to see the power of Satan, they inevitably form a false conception of the nature and character of God and to worship God under a false conception, is the same thing as to worship a false God" (C.P. Chap. 1).
We ought perhaps to remember in reading such a passage that it was written in 1916; but after all this was far from being the Middle Ages. World War I was already in its second year; Victoria had been dead fifteen years; Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll, Nietzsche and Van Gogh had been dead sixteen years; Bernard Shaw, Conrad and Thomas Hardy were already in their dotage, and Victoria's grandson was already on the throne.
But perhaps the least sincere, least convincing and most disingenuous clerical reply to Powys's charge of cruelty against the
No! But a million animals dying in agony surely adds up to more pain and anguish than one animal who so dies. Nor can it be any solace to a particular animal, borne off in the jaws of some carnivore, to know that a million other defenceless fellow-creatures have suffered similarly.
The reverend gentleman then argues that, since the amount of suffering animals undergo is only a matter of conjecture and "a presumption of the imagination" for "the nature of the case cannot possibly be verified" and such presumptions "admit of being met by as probable presumptions on the other side we decline to arraign our Creator for a deed which we have not even the means of knowing that he has done" (L.M.).
So it amounts to this: because we cannot get under the skin of an animal on the point of being devoured by a beast of prey, and because we are able only to infer from our own experience of violent handling and from the signs of anguish and pain in the victim not to mention the fact that we know it to be equipped with a complicated nervous system not very different from our own that suffering of an acute kind is being endured, we are, according to the Rev. J. R. Illingworth guilty of a "presumption of the imagination" in assuming that there is suffering of a terrible kind in the animal world and that this suffering cannot be regarded as punishment.
We can understand the Christian's dilemma about the Evil in Creation and can sympathise with his perplexity when faced with the problem of demonstrating that his God of Love who is all goodness cannot have been responsible for it. But, before reading the Rev. Illingworth's defence of the Loving Father, we had no idea that Christian apologists could find themselves in such dire straits as to have to resort to the sophistries we are offered in the chapter on pain in Lux Mundi; and we can hardly wonder if,
No less ardent a Christian than Pascal had the wisdom frankly to approve of Antonin Diana's dictum that "tout mal excepté le péché est envoyé de Dieu" (Lettres Provinciales, 10th Letter: "All evil except sin has been sent by God"); and it is more consonant with the dignity and prestige of a great Faith for its believers, even whilst professing mystification, to acknowledge the justice of a well-grounded and yet damaging charge against it, than to descend to such shifts as those with which this Church of England cleric tries to defend his God of Love.
No profound thinker, confronted by the seamy side of the Creation and the character attributed to its Creator by Christianity, has ever failed to discern a discordant note. Goethe himself refers to a distinguished lawyer, Hofrat Hüsgen, whom he very much admired and who one day admitted to him that "even in God he discovered faults" (Auch in Gott entdeck ich Fehler": A.M.L. Erster Teil, Viertes Buch); whilst Goethe acknowledges that he too was "daring enough to believe that there were things in God which he felt he must forgive" (Ibid. Zweiter Teil, Achtes Buch: "ich war kühn genug zu glauben dass ich ihm einiges zu verzeihen hätte").
We must remember that these views were expressed before science had done much to shake the foundations of the Faith; but today few thoughtful people will feel much astonishment at these relatively mild admissions. They sense a fatal antinomy in the postulation of a Loving God who is the embodiment of goodness, as the Creator of a world such as the realist recognizes this one to be; and in once more rejecting the Christian religion as a proposed solution of the riddle of the Universe, they will feel more than ever persuaded that only a deep subconscious complex, strong enough to overpower the intellect, can possibly account for the many men of unquestionably high intelligence who, their good brains notwithstanding, have professed a belief in the guesses Christianity offers about the mystery of life and the Universe. It is this consideration that lends the colour of probability to the claims of investigators like Professor Leuba and his fellow-psychoanalysts, who see in the impulse to religion an unconscious urge deriving its dynamism from the deeper instincts of the human organism and owing nothing to any supernatural agency.
Christianity Not the Thoughtful Man's Religion V
In Chapter V it was shown how Heine had been one of the first to recognize that the most dangerous feature of Christianity was its exorbitant emphasis on the soul and the soul's attributes (assumed, objectively determined, or merely professed) and its corresponding neglect, not to say contempt, of the body. This deliberate and unwarranted division of man's psycho-physical organism into two parts, which Christianity declared so far independent of each other as to justify the exaltation of the one and the disparagement of the other, no matter how commendable any particular body might be biologically, inevitably led, as I have sufficiently shown, to deplorable abuses. For, besides making the mere profession of belief, faith or piety, without the necessity of any accompanying biological excellence, a passport into the élite, this gratuitous and pretentious dualism by one stroke confined the estimation of human worthiness to invisible attributes alone a method of appraisement highly advantageous to all ill-favoured, tainted, repulsive and defective creatures. By means of it, every kind of human biological trash, all the psycho-physical riff raff of our homes for defectives, maniacs and monsters, acquired parity with the highest examples of the species, a parity in which lurked the direst peril for mankind, if only because of its deleterious effect on the taste and judgment of both male and female in their choice of a mate. In fact, as that incorrigible romantic, Edward Carpenter, madly and gladly proclaimed: "To be ungainly or deformed shall after all be no hindrance". (Towards Democracy, 1892, Chap. LXIII). No wonder a
Now, how did this extraordinarily corrupt doctrine arise? For it is possible to place a finger on the very moment in European history when it first took shape.
In order to grasp the full enormity of the innovation for it was a complete innovation we must glance at Greece of the fifth century B.C. which, according to Edward Freeman and Findlay, was already in a state of rapid decline (The Chief Periods of European History, 1886, p. 21). It is well to bear this in mind, because otherwise we cannot understand how a doctrine so alien to the best and healthiest Hellenic instincts was first promulgated and subsequently allowed to take root in the ancient world.
Decadent as the ancient Greeks may have been at the close of the fifth century B.C., they still held to certain traditional beliefs protecting them from the worst ravages of their decaying culture. For instance, they could not grant that the worth of men and women could be assessed on the score of their psychological or invisible attributes alone. They believed man was one, an indivisible whole, and that his visible and invisible attributes were inseparable and interdependent. To estimate the worth of a human being chiefly, let alone solely, from his invisible attributes, was a practice either unknown to them, or, where known, condemned as absurd. And here they resembled the whole of the known world of the period.
Modern science has wholly vindicated this ancient Greek attitude, and will not countenance any gratuitous and imaginary division of a human being into soul or mind, and body or physique.
In An Introduction to Personality (1950, Chap. IX, 6), Professor Raymond B. Cattell observes that "Personality can
We have also the testimony of that able and distinguished French psychologist. Dr. Roland Dalbiez, who, in his scholarly treatise, La Méthode Psychoanalytique et la Doctrine Freudienne (1936, Vol. II, Chap. V, i), observes that "Il est impossible d'admettre l'existence chez l'homme de phénomènes psychologiques sans conditions physiologiques". (It is impossible to admit the existence in man of phychological, without corresponding physiological, phenomena.")
Centuries before this was written, however, that amazing French wizard, Montaigne, whose genius anticipated many of the psychological discoveries of modern times, observed: "Ce n'est pas une âme, ce n'est pas un corps qu'on dresse, c'est un
But the very fact that I should think it necessary, for the benefit of modern English readers, to quote all these authorities, in order to re establish what any ancient Athenian, or any sensible man of antiquity, would quite properly have regarded as a ridiculous platitude hardly worth stating namely, that man is a whole, indivisible into body and "soul" (mind) proves how deeply we have become influenced by Christianity's bequest to posterity of the misleading and unrealistic psychological conclusions of Socrates.
At any rate, the reunion of body and soul into one single unity, has at last become a commonplace even of modern medicine, and as early as 1937, we find a medical man stating that the human organism "is describable only in terms of function as 'body-mind' or 'mind-body'." He then adds, "This definition is generally accepted. . . . Thus there is no longer any way of distinguishing a category of human distress or mat-adjustments which is spiritual . . . and there is no sort of physical disorder without some psychological concomitant or effect" (L. 31.7.37).
It has taken us over two thousand years to get back to this position and to restore the ancient Greek's sane and wholesome view of man as a psychosome, whose visible and invisible attributes cannot be judged apart. Meanwhile, such is the havoc that has been wrought by the false dualistic teaching of Christianity that, could an ancient Greek-say Sophocles, or even Aristophanes be placed at some vantage point in the main shopping centre of any one of our modern cities, he would hardly believe his eyes when, gazing in astonishment at the milling crowds, he was solemnly assured that they were in fact not only human beings, but also creatures who believed themselves to be the dernier cri of Cosmic Evolution.
Although the rigid monism of the ancient Greek world is now generally accepted as valid by modern science, it is very far from having reached the teeming crowds just referred to. Probably not more than two or three Europeans per million have as yet purged themselves of the corrupt habit of overlooking and condoning "merely" physical defect, deformity, sickliness and the taint of disease, and of remaining unshocked by hereditary and
Thus, to maintain that good taste in the assessment of human worthiness, even in mating, has, through two millenniums of Christian influence, become extinct, is simply to record a fact that must be patent to all.
At what time then, and by what concatenation of regrettable circumstances, did the sane and wholesome Greek concept of man as an indivisible whole, whose visible and invisible attributes were equally important and interdependent at what time and how did this wise and sanitary attitude make way for the morbid dualism of Christianity?
Strange to relate, long before Christianity was known, the tendency to assess human value merely from invisible attributes, to regard these as unrelated to visible attributes, and to hold the visible as negligible compared with the invisible this tendency permeated the degenerate ancient Greeks and most of the people inhabiting the region which became the cradle of the Christian religion. Indeed, it was in ancient Greece itself that man's good taste and discrimination in judging his fellows' worthiness veered irrevocably to the attitude now almost universal in the Western world, which either wholly ignores, or else depreciates, biological and aesthetic attributes in favour of "soul" or invisible qualities that can be verified by no objective standards.
How did this deplorable change come about?
Various attempts had been made by some of the more decadent Greeks, even as early as the seven century B.C., to supplant the old Monism by a thoroughgoing dualism. Xenophanes was one of the earliest agitators in favour of this reform. The Orphic cults (never too respectable), Pythagoras and Empedocles, had also tried to exalt "soul" above body attributes; and these tendencies were rooted in an ancient Animism, the connection of which with nascent Greek dualism it would take too long, under the guidance of a scholar like Rhode, to examine. At any rate, until the end of the fifth century B.C., this dualism never really "got across". The majority of Hellenes were still too healthy to accept it, and continued to believe that a good, desirable human being must be one whose visible, were as commendable as his invisible, qualities. Thus no one could pass as desirable who was not bio-
But, about 428 B.C., there suddenly appeared among these people, a man much more highly endowed as a canvasser of public support for his personal views than ever Xenophanes had been. Unfortunately, he happened to be so ungainly that friends, when introducing him, felt obliged to apologise for him; and he was naturally subjected to much contempt and ridicule on that account. Although possessed of some noble qualities and known to have an excellent military record, he was too exorbitantly concerned about safeguarding his self-esteem to accept with equanimity the situation his physical shortcomings created. When, however, we bear in mind the tremendous store the Greeks of his day set by personal, and indeed all forms of, beauty; when moreover we remember how inextricably they connected personal comeliness with general desirability, it will perhaps strike us as less odd that a man with his forbidding appearance should have felt uneasy, not to say, afflicted. If even in our own day, when personal looks are far from being as highly valued as they were in ancient Greece, men like Walter Pater and Tolstoy could feel downcast owing to their excessive plainness, how much more must Socrates have felt humiliated in late fifth-century Athens by his unattractive exterior. In addition, he by no means belonged to the haute volée of the city; he was also steeped in many of the unhealthy elements of Greek thought, and is said to have been the catamite of Archelaus.
In a city, renowned throughout the ancient world for its transcendent beauty, and thronged with people who held good looks, especially in the male, in the highest esteem (for their love of male beauty, see Plato's Charmides, Chap. 3, p. 154; Lysis, Chap. 2, p. 204; and Protagoras, Chap 1, p. 309a), Socrates naturally felt at a grave disadvantage. Judged according to prevailing standards, he was condemned at sight. It is almost impossible for modern Europeans to understand this; for today their world so pullulates with ungainly people that to take exception to this fact would argue cranky eccentricity.
At all events, Socrates appears to have been unwilling to submit in silence to his unhappy destiny at least, such is the infer-
On the basis of Adler's penetrating findings, we need not assume that Socrates was conscious either of the deeper motives for his procedure, or for its apologetic character; for the will to power operates largely in the dark. Be this as it may, he certainly lighted with extraordinary precision on the means best calculated to effect his self-vindication, and, with unparalleled brilliance, he proceeded to apply them. Appreciating that the fundamental belief damaging to his prestige and good repute, was the Hellenic view of the oneness of man, he imagined, probably quite sincerely, that this belief must be fake and untenable. We have no reason to suppose that he was aware of hoodwinking his fellow men when he tried to persuade them in and out of season that appearance counted for nothing in estimating human worth. Such subjective forms of reasoning are common even among enlightened moderns; then why should we deny him this infirmity?
Those Greeks who valued the traditional Hellenic monism men like Aristophanes despised him for his newfangled doctrines. The merely conventional hated his heterodoxy. Hence ultimately the charge of corrupting the nation's youth and perverting their faith, was brought against him, and he was condemned to death.
Unhappily for posterity, however, two of his apprentices, Xenophon and Plato, survived him. Both had been impressed by his arguments, and under their spell had come to believe that the old wholesome Greek teaching of the oneness of man was false. Worse still, both of them had a proselytizing mania that induced them to hand on to following generations the full tenour of their master's doctrines.
What, in fact, were the positions Socrates ultimately seems to have established in the minds of these two disciples? They were:
(b) The complete independence of these two aspects of man.
(c) The superiority of the "soul", over the body, aspect.
(d) The despicableness of the body.
(e) The immortality of the soul.
Where does Plato enunciate these five positions of Socrates? First of all in the Apology, where he makes Socrates say: "I spend my whole life in going about and persuading you all to give your first and chiefest care to the perfection of your souls, and not till you have done that to think of your bodies" (Trans. by F. J. Church, 30, AB.). In the Symposium Plato also makes Socrates pay grudging lip-service to bodily beauty and condemn ugliness; but shows that he looks on this attitude as low and transitory, and then makes him quote with approval Diotima's words:
"But man's next advance will be to set a higher value on the beauty of souls than on that of the body, so that however little grace that may bloom in any likely soul, it shall suffice him for loving and caring . . . that finally he may be constrained to contemplate the beautiful as in the observance of our laws, and to behold it all bound together in kinship and so estimate the body's beauty as a slight affair" (Trans. by W. R. M. Lamb, 210, B and C).
How plainly the reasoning of an ugly man, striving to rid himself of the stigma of ungainliness, is displayed in this passage! Yet, strange as it may seem and I assure the reader unfamiliar with the relevant literature that this is no idle boast as far as I am aware, I am the only student of Socratic doctrine who has ever pointed out the probable connection between his forbidding appearance and his philosophy. I can only assume that the modern scholar, inured to the ugliness of modern people and unable to transport himself in imagination to an environment like that of ancient Athens, where bodily beauty was regarded as essential to good repute, has been unable to appreciate the pressing private motives Socrates had for teaching his contemporaries that bodily beauty was of no consequence.
At the same banquet as that already mentioned, when Alcibiades tries to praise his bosom friend Socrates, he confirms his master's principles as follows:
We also have the very self-revelatory dialogue in which Socrates persuades Alcibiades that his love for him is deep and true: "
"If anyone", says Socrates, "has fallen in love with the person of Alcibiades, he loves not Alcibiades, but the belongings of Alcibiades. . . . But he who loves his soul is the true lover. The lover of the body goes away when the flower falls. But he who loves the soul goes not away. . . . I loved you for your own sake, when other men loved what belongs to you; and your beauty, which is not you, is fading away, just as your true self is beginning to bloom" (Alcibiades, Trans. by Jowett, 131).
Thus did Socrates try to prove the complete separation of man's visible and invisible components as if the two really could be separated and always emphasized the superiority and greater importance of the invisible or "soul" attributes. Finally, in the Phaedo, he reaches the logical outcome of all his reasoning and, summoning to his aid his emotional repugnance to the wholesome Greek attitude to the body, he says:
"If we are ever to do anything purely, we must be separated from the body . . . and thus being pure and separated from the body, we shall know the whole real essence and that is probably the truth. . . . For purification consists in this, in separating as much as possible the soul from the body. . . . And does not holding the passions in contempt and keeping them in subjection does not this belong to those only who must despise the body?" (Trans. by Henry Carey, 66D, 67A and 68C).
It would be difficult to find in pre-Reformation literature, ancient and modern, a more eloquent statement of extreme Puritanism. Yet we are concerned with a man and his faithful Boswell, who existed over four hundred years before St. Paul echoed his sentiments. (See the passage from the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Chap. 4, quoted in Chap. V ante.)
Thus, not only were bodily attributes and their differences in different people, to be held of no account a useful view for all
It is not surprising that when once these doctrines came to be accepted, man's visible aspects, his body, should have fallen under a ban. These were the disreputable components of his personality. Thenceforward a "pure soul" was to justify even foul breath, and a biological assessment of human quality ceased to be regarded as relevant. Low-bred defectives became as desirable as creatures of flourishing life. For on Socratic principles, it could always be argued and of course was argued that physical stigmata, the blemishes of disease and hereditary taints, were not the individual man himself, and that his real self, his "soul", more than redeemed these merely bodily shortcomings.
This was wonderful for Socrates and his like. But for the biological élite of mankind ultimate pollution! Can one wonder that William James felt able to inform us that the lives of certain Christian Saints "are full of a sort of revelling in hospital purulence"? (V.R.E. Lectures XI, XII, and XIII). But how many people who have read this passage in James's famous work, see the connection between the sentiment it describes and Socrates' remark to Glaucon, which I have quoted?
What evidence have we that Socrates was the original broadcaster of these parlous doctrines? There are three witnesses in the case of Socrates versus Wholesome, Comely Manhood Plato, Xenophon and Aristophanes; and Mr. St. George Stock
But Grote, our greatest authority on Socrates, calls Xenophon "the best witness about his master" (History of Greece, 1854, Vol. VIII, p. 262, Note 1); and of the Platonic dialogues, he says, "The Apology, Crito and Phaedo appear to be examples of what can safely be accepted as a record of Socrates' opinions". (Ibid. Vol. VII, p. 84). This is important because of the passages from Plato which I have quoted, the Apology and Phaedo constitute the chief sources. Of supreme importance in this question, however, is the fact that, concerning Socrates' insistence on a dualistic view of man, on the disparagement of the body and its beauty, and on exalting the "soul" above the body all cardinal points in his doctrine Xenophon, "this best witness about his master", wholly bears Plato out.
In Xenophon's Symposium, for instance, Socrates tells Antisthenes: "I fear you are not enamoured with [sic] the beauty of my soul, but with that of my body" (Trans. by J. Welwood, 1913). Further, he says, "The vulgar inspires mankind with the love of the body only, but the celestial fires the mind with the love of the soul." Then again, in reply to a remark by Hermogenes, he says: "I will endeavour to prove that the love of the soul is incomparably preferable to that of the body," which he proceeds to do (Ibid.).
So much for the first-hand witnesses. But in the ancient and modern authorities on the period under notice, we find abundant confirmation of our belief that Socrates and not Plato, was the original advocate of the exclusively spiritual approach to man's worth. To begin with, it cannot have escaped the reader's notice that the positions I have described as established by Socrates, all became fundamental in Christianity. Nay more, the attentive reader must have observed how repeatedly, as I enumerated these positions, he himself felt, as if by instinct, that my quotations of Socrates' own words evoked more agreement than opposition in him, and how often he began wondering whether it was not I rather than Socrates who was perverse. Nor is it unlikely that in thus reacting to my thesis, the reader in question may have felt himself all the while fancying that the Socratic views I condemned, and of which he (the reader) approved, represented his own original opinions, the children of his own independent
If what I suspect did happen, and the reader knows it happened, he has further proof of the thoroughness with which European man, during the last two thousand years, has become conditioned to accept Socratic doctrines as axiomatic.
It cannot surprise us that the five principal positions, including dualism, which Socrates established, should have become basic in Christianity; for most of the leading early Fathers of the Church-men like Clement and Origen were Alexandrians, schooled in Greek philosophy; and they wholly confirm my claim that Socrates was their doctrinal master.
In Justin Martyr's Apology, the fact that Socrates and the Socratics were Christians before Christ is constantly implied. In the Stromateis of Clement of Alexandria, there is the same implication.
Among the moderns the Socratic influence on Christian doctrine is openly acknowledged. Dr. C. E. Robinson says: "The creed of the Christian Church was formulated in terms drawn from the Greek philosophers". (Everyday Life in Ancient Greece, 1933, Conclusion). Marsilio Ficino, writing in 1479 about Christianity, said, "The life of Socrates is a continued symbol of the life of Jesus," so that "the doctrines of the one are identical with those of the other". In his Table Talk (1830) Coleridge is reported to have remarked to Crabb Robinson, "Jesus was a Platonic philosopher"; whilst Professor A. E. Taylor, one of the leading authorities on Socrates, says, "Socrates created the intellectual and moral tradition by which Europe has ever since existed. . . . It was Socrates who . . . created the conception of the soul, which has ever since dominated European thinking . . . the direct influence, indeed, which has done most to make the doctrine of Socrates familiar to ourselves is that of Christianity" (Socrates, 1922, pp. 132, 133). Dean Inge, in his essay on religion in The Legacy of Greece (1924, p. 31), went so far as to declare that "Socrates should be reckoned as a Christian". Finally, the most conclusive modern testimony to Socrates' rôle as the founder of dualism, is Professor J. Burnet's The Socratic Doctrine of the Soul (1916). There, he shows beyond any reasonable doubt that Socrates was the first who succeeded in establishing this new belief. But, strange to say, even Professor Burnet, throughout
From what has been said, we ought now easily to understand how the Socratic attitude to the body and its beauty, to disease and defect, and to all ill-favoured humanity in general, came to be universally accepted as axiomatic by the people of Western civilization. Even our tendency to exalt "soul" above bodily attributes and thus to incline to the practice of sacrificing the sound to the unsound, becomes comprehensible when once we grasp what Socrates achieved in reversing mankind's oldest and most wholesome standards of judgment. And when we reflect that this tremendous upheaval in the moral sphere, was in all probability but the outcome of inferiority feelings in the person of one of the most resourceful and able propagandists of history, we feel compelled to acknowledge that if only his achievement had been less injurious to humanity, it would deserve to rank among the loftiest performances of human genius.
Any suggestion that Socrates was a conscious humbug in inculcating his dangerous credo, has already been disclaimed. But that he was certainly capable, whether consciously or not, of giving his more humiliating experiences a twist which made them seem triumphs rather than routs, is suggested by various anecdotes concerning him.
For instance, everybody knows that he made a disastrous choice when he married Xantippe. Like many a man before him, he committed a bad blunder. She used to nag him unmercifully, humiliate him in public, drench him with water; and once, in full view of the crowd in the market place, she tore off his coat (Diogenes Laertius, II, 36, 37).
Now any ordinary man, similarly situated, would have frankly acknowledged his mistake and deplored it. Not so Socrates. Where his self-esteem was involved, he was a genius at making the inferior appear the superior plight, and he actually tried to persuade his friends that he had deliberately chosen a virago and a shrew in order to promote his own moral edification. Thus, he told Antisthenes that he had set his heart on Xantippe so that her shocking temper might make him more easily put up with all sorts and conditions of men (Xenophon: Symposium, 11, 10).
Unless we can believe in the genuineness of these pleas, they surely lend much colour to my interpretation of the motives impelling him to attack and finally to overthrow the ancient Greek belief in the oneness of man.
Nor is it unimportant, in forming an estimate of his character and the revolution he inaugurated, to remember his mistaken judgment in the choice of a mate, his apparent lack of psychological insight, and his inability to stand up to a termagant like Xantippe and to stop her hen-pecking. It is therefore perhaps no coincidence that, under the sway of his false views about humanity, the sudden resurgence of his influence after the Reformation (see on this Chap. VIII infra) should have led to the rise of feminism, which has been chiefly instrumental in shattering the last vestiges of ancient wisdom in our civilization, and in spreading anarchy wherever the influence of the Western European and Christian has reached. (For the connection between the Socratic doctrines and feminism, see my Enemies of Women, 1948.)
Christianity Not the Thoughtful Man's Religion VI
This interesting condemnation of Socrates as a humbug is only a remote echo of the hostility he aroused among the wiser members of his nation and the more enlightened among later generations. Among the most formidable of his opponents was his spiritual grandchild, Aristotle. Besides attacking Plato's Communism, Aristotle insisted on restoring to credit the ancient Greek belief in the oneness of man, and in the impossibility of assessing his worth except by judging both his visible and invisible attributes. Thus, in flat contradiction of the "Christian before Christ", he said, "It appears to me that the soul and the body sympathise with each other; and when the habit of the soul suffers a mutation in quality, it also changes the form of the body. Again, the form () of the body, when changed in quality, changes also the habit of the soul" (Physiognomy, Trans. by T. Taylor, Chap. VI). Earlier in the same book, Aristotle says, "An animal is never so generated as to have the form of one animal and the soul of another; but it has always the body and soul of the same animal; so that a particular disposition must necessarily follow a particular body" (Ibid. Chap. 1). He again displayed his marked difference from Socrates when he observed (Politics, Book VIII, 1334b), "The body necessarily demands our care before the soul, next the appetite for the sake of the mind, the body for the sake of the soul."
It is a proof of Aristotle's great genius that, in the second part of this last passage, he should have anticipated Freud's dis-
When therefore we find Montaigne, in the late sixteenth century saying: "J' approuve celui qui ayme moins son enfant d'autant qu'il soit teigneux ou bossu, et non settlement malicieux, mais aussi quand il est malheureux et mal nay" (Essais, Livre troisième, Chap. IV: "I approve of him who loves his child less if it be either scrofulitic and scabby or hunchback, and not only malicious, but also ill-favoured and ill-constituted."); and when we find a Frenchman like Vauvenargues declaring as late as the first half of the eighteenth century: that "Il faut entretenir la vigueur du corps pour conserver celle de l'esprit" (Pensées et Maximes, 1746, LXXIX: "We must maintain the body's vigour in order to preserve that of the mind"), we have but two latter-day reverberations of Aristotle's beneficent influence on the Holy Catholic Church during the Middle Ages.
Regarding the nature of this influence which, through the Church, affected the thought and feeling of all Europeans in medieval times, it is interesting to quote a passage from Edwin Wallace (O.P.A. p. 39) which states clearly what Aristotle's position was. "Soul", says Wallace, "is defined by Aristotle as the perfect expression or realization of a natural body a realization further, which is in its first stage, and which is therefore explicit. It follows that there is the closest connection between psychical state and physiological processes we need no more ask whether the soul and body are one, than whether the wax and the impression stamped upon it are so; the very error of the pre-Aristotelian psychologists [Socrates and his dupes] lay in discussing the soul abstractedly without any regard to the bodily environment."
This passage explains sufficiently for the present purpose the
This explains why, after the Reformation, there should have arisen, not only Puritanism, together with an increasing tendency among both high and low to neglect bodily considerations, but also a steady and substantial decline in the beauty and stamina of Europeans and their kin all over the world. For, thanks to the keen rivalry between the old universal Church and the various reformed sects, there came about, as is usual when large organizations engage in a struggle for power, a habit of mutual imitation, together with exaggerated divergence, which, although not thoroughgoing, was at least persevering enough to effect some approximations and some wide deviations in the doctrines and moral tone of the two sides. In this way, even the Holy Catholic Church, to the disadvantage of the regions where it held its sway, forfeited a certain amount of its Aristotelian outlook and temper; whilst, on the side of the Reformers, there was a trend towards ever fiercer forms of Socraticism, in order to emphasize their estrangement from the original Church.
"At the time of the Protestant Reformation", says Edwin Wallace, "it [i.e. Aristotelianism] was subjected to much violent depreciation" (Op. cit., p. 5). Luther said of Aristotle, "If Aristotle had not been of flesh, I should not hesitate to affirm him to have been truly a devil" (Aristotle and the Christian Church, by Azarius, 1888, p. 14); he also called him "a hypocrite, a slanderer, a damned pagan, a leisured donkey, a heathen beast, a vicious trickster, and a poisonous and deadly destroyer of piety" (Luther and Aristotle, by Dr. Fr. Nitzsch, 1883, Sec. I); whilst, in his
This was only the beginning; but it inaugurated a fundamental change in the religious attitude towards Greek philosophy; and, to the misfortune of the Western world, Protestantism re-established the authority of Socrates, who thenceforward prevailed throughout all those areas where the Reformation had found acceptance, and to some extent even where the Holy Catholic Church still held sway.
In view of what has been said, we cannot be surprised at finding much evidence in the life of the Middle Ages and even later, of an attitude towards the body, which Socrates would have profoundly deprecated and for which only the benign influence of Aristotle was responsible.
We have seen that, by his contempt for the body and his exaltation of disease to an object of love, Socrates created the morbid Christian sentiment which ultimately made it good form, if not de rigueur, not only to condone defect, deformity, disease and morbidity in man, but also, and consequently, to commend the sacrifice of the healthy, sound and promising, for the sake of the ill-constituted and tainted in short, the greater for the less. As for a policy of protection for the sound, safeguarding them from the purulence of the polluted, and above all, from limitations scandalously imposed on their multiplication and welfare by the sacrifices forced upon them by the unsound such an idea ceased to have any currency in Europe, and, from the dawn of the Reformation became extinct in England.
Incidentally, so general and deep-rooted, particularly in the British Isles, was the morbid Christian sentiment we are examining, that in many a lecture I delivered in the interval between the two world wars, I felt able to prophesy with complete confidence that, if ever another war were to break out and there arose a shortage of milk or any other vital commodity, the authorities would not hesitate to force back the multitude of sound and promising elements in the population, whilst lorries under military escort bore the milk and other precious supplies to the hospitals, and the homes for defectives, half-wits and maniacs. Indeed, in a book published in 1927, I described this sort of action as indicated by both official and public sentiment. (See my
But the like could not have happened in the Europe, or even in the England, of pre-Reformation days, when Aristotle's influence still prevailed. And, as a proof of how the Christian point of view remained wholesome and sanitary before the influence of Socrates was revived, we may instance the many acts performed by medieval authorities, throughout Catholic Europe, which the people and particularly the women of modern England would condemn out of hand as thoroughly "un-Christian".
Acts of a similar kind, as we shall see, were committed much later than the Middle Ages, especially in areas still dominated by Aristotle's influence. But, in due course, such acts grew ever more and more scarce.
It is true that, apart from the beneficial effects of Aristotle's restoration of the pre-Socratic Greek attitude to defect and deformity, there were other sources from which Europeans of the post-Hellenic period could have derived confirmation of humanity's natural healthy aversion from its ill-favoured and diseased specimens an aversion mingled with a sense of the shamefulness and disreputability of biological trash. The fact that this aversion has now so completely disappeared that, today, all Europeans and their kin overseas, including even royalty and the nobility, vie with each in honouring and smarming over the biologically worthless and in sacrificing everything to them, is a recent and tasteless development for which a much crueller penalty will one day be exacted than any which our present perverted charity now inflicts on the hale and sound of our society.
In the ancient laws of the Israelites, for instance, we find the following most revealing passage, the pre-Socratic spirit of which was never allowed, after the rise of Christianity, to influence Western man's conduct. Indeed, the passage itself is often found to be unfamiliar to many life-long practising Christians:
"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying. Speak unto Aaron, saying. Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generation that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God.
"Or a man that is broken-footed, or broken-handed,
"Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;
"No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the bread of his God . . .
"He shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish, that he profane not my sanctuaries, for I the Lord do sanctify them" (Leviticus xxi, 1623).
The staggering un-English, non-European wholesomeness of this passage is something so alien to our culture that the average modern reader will wonder what God could possibly have meant by the words, "that he profane not my sanctuaries"; and I can hear him and especially his womenfolk exclaiming in utter perplexity, "How can people with bodily blemishes profane anything?"
Yet this is a sentiment so universal in a tastefully healthy people that we find it displayed even in ancient Peru, where, in the fourteenth century, when the Inca, Jahurai Huacoe attended the feast of Citua, "all citizens who were sick, hunchback or in any way abnormal, were driven from the capital (Cuzeo) so as not to offend the goddess by the sight of them" (Inca Adventure, by Bertrand Flornoy, 1956, Part II, Chap. VIII).
Even as late as the sixteenth century in England, this same feeling still survived the Reformation being only a few decades old and Elizabeth I refused "the place of a gentleman usher to an unexceptional person for no other objection than the lack of one tooth, and whenever she went abroad, all ugly, deformed and diseased persons were thrust out of her way by certain officers . . . at Kenilworth in 1575, she refused to look at a bridal dance because the bride was ugly" and "seldom could be induced to bestow an appointment, either civil or ecclesiastical on a mean-looking person" (The Queens of England, by Agnes Strickland, 1868, Chap. VI and VIII).
Two hundred years later, much the same feeling still survived in certain quarters of Europe, for Goethe, describing the arrival of Marie Antoinette at Strassburg in 1770, to become the wife of the Dauphin, observes: "Before the arrival of the Queen [sic] the authorities had quite reasonably arranged that no deformed
Today, as everybody knows, the first thing royalty would do on arriving in a strange foreign city would be to pay their respects precisely to the biological inferiors and the defectives of the place. It will, however, be noticed that Goethe reveals his own good taste in this matter by referring to the regulation in question as "quite reasonable". But what he adds to the passage also shows that he actually anticipated Heine in recognizing Christianity's reversal of the old wholesome attitude towards deformity, disease and defect; for he says of the Strassburg town council's "reasonable" measure, "People joked about it, and I wrote a short French poem in which I compared the advent of Christ who appears to have come to this world chiefly for the sake of the sick, the halt and the lame, with the arrival of the Queen, who scared these unfortunates from her path." [Ibid: "Man scherzt hierüber, und ich machte ein kleines französischess Gedicht worin ich die Ankunft Christi, welcher besonders der Kranken und Lahmen wegen auf der Welt zu wandeln schien, und die Ankunft der Königin, welche diese Unglücklichen verscheuchte, in Vergleichung brachte.")
As to the policy of protecting the sound and promising from the parasitism, contamination and depressing ugliness of the unsound, the sickly and the defective, the people of the Middle Ages were also very much more humane and compassionate than are the people of the Western world today.
Owing doubtless to the benign influence Aristotle exerted through the Church, and probably, too, to the fact that medieval populations were engaged chiefly in agriculture and horticulture and therefore knew the essential needs of flourishing life and the dangers threatening it from all sides, a widespread realism prevailed which forbade all sentimental, unreasoning and callous favouritsm being shown to anything that was defective and biologically depraved. It was, for instance, well recognized that, in times of famine and epidemics, the sound had to be considered first. If sacrifice was called for, it was the unsound and those who could give no promise of perpetuating the race in a desirable
Nor were medieval people quite as blindly superstitious as many believe; for we should remember that it was the princes of the Middle Ages who, without our medical knowledge and our repertory of therapeutics and prophylactics, extirpated leprosy in Europe. The measures they applied, because inspired by compassion for the sound, were often of a kind which we, with our ingrained callousness towards the sound, would consider harsh and cruel; but they were effective and triumphantly successful; for, by the end of the sixteenth century, leprosy had died out, at least in northern Europe.
Not only were lepers proscribed from society, but whenever they trespassed on an inhabited area they were obliged to give warning of their approach by ringing bells or brandishing rattles. It was a sensible rule, for it enabled mothers to snatch their children from the infected people's path, and other adults the chance of giving them a wide berth. In England and Wales a law was promulgated in 1346, compelling lepers, within fifteen days of contracting the disease, to isolate themselves in some remote rural area, away from cities. Inspired by the Mosaic laws, the authorities in fact cast the leper out of society and, wherever possible, confined him in a lazaretto. Attired in a distinctive garb and a voluminous cloak, he was forbidden to mix in crowds and, as one modern authority declares (obviously with a lump in his throat) "he was excluded even from church", or, if admitted, "a special seat and basin of holy water" were assigned to him. But, once more, what could possibly have been more sensible? Would it have been fair to the rest of the congregation to allow him to mingle freely with them?
Furthermore, inhuman as it may sound to our modern ears, attuned only to the merciless sacrifice of the healthy and promising, there was in medieval England a regulation to the effect that an almoner who, after a coronation or any other important celebration, had the duty of distributing alms to the crowd, was auhorized to burn alive any leper who, in his cupidity, not only dared to force himself into a crowd of sound people, but went so far as "to raise a knife against a neighbour" (Mediaeval England, by Mary Bateson, 1903, Part II, Chap. VII).
Unlike our present perverse and callous practice of reserving all that is best for the sickly, the defective and the insane, and leaving what is inferior for the sound and promising in the community; when, in medieval times, market inspectors condemned any meat, it was, as a matter of course, consigned to the asylums and the lazarettos. There is a Scottish Act of Parliament of 1386 containing the following passage: "Gif ony man brings to the market corrupt swine or salmond to be sould, they sall be taken to the bailie, and incontinent, without any question sall be sent to the lepper folke, and gif there be no lepper folke, they sail be destroyed utterlie." There was a similar regulation at Oxford in the fifteenth century. No wonder that, although a few cases of leprosy still occurred in the fifteenth century, the disease had by then considerably declined. (See Chaucer and His England, by
Now if we turn from these medieval customs to the spirit that animated them, it should at once be clear that they represent no wanton display of brutality, as many otherwise sane historians would have us believe, but merely a view of charity and of its appropriate object, wholly different from our own. Only centuries of Christian indoctrination under the spell of Socrates rather than of Aristotle, could blind us to this fact. For against every act allegedly "uncharitable" towards the lepers, our forebears showed themselves compassionate and charitable towards the biologically precious. In observing their behaviour, we see no gratuitous acts of ruthlessness but only the inevitable consequences of their charity towards those in the community they deemed fit to perpetuate their kind in a desirable form. Their choice was, therefore, not between charity or no charity, but only between the objects to which charity should in wisdom be shown. This, although palpably obvious, is so persistently misunderstood by every modern publicist, that we are forced to conclude that even the most wide-awake of our contemporaries are made unamenable to reason by a wholly uncontrolled orientation towards Socratic morality.
Incidentally, it is this state of modern man's mind that accounts for the fact that Nietzsche's condemnation of Christian pity has everywhere been understood and denounced as an attack on pity per se.
It was really only the unfortunate resurrection by the Reformation of the influence of Socrates, that led to the reversal of the husbandman's attitude to life, especially in Protestant Europe; hence Nietzsche's reiterated assertion that only the pre-Socratic Greeks, to whom Aristotle was in some respects a throwback, were worthy of our admiration. John Cowper Powys, independently I believe, came to the same conclusion; for he says: "The only wise human philosophers are the early pre-Socratic Greeks" (D.S. Chap. IV).
What then caused this change from a tasteful, discriminating exercise of charity, to its converse i.e., charity shown only to the least admirable, least promising and, from the point of view of posterity, most dangerous elements in the population?
Undoubtedly the morbid, unaesthetic and perverted Socratic principles deeply rooted in Christianity, with their predilection
Only rarely do we hear a modern voice raised against this state of affairs. As we have seen, F. H. Bradley, over sixty years ago, was one of the few whom it roused to indignant protest. A little later on, W. Cecil D. Whetham and C. D. Whetham admitted that "Of late years, the duty of the state to support the falling and the fallen has been so much emphasized that its still more important duty to the able and the competent has been obscured" (The Family and the Nation, 1909, Conclusion). The moderation observed in making this important admission over fifty years ago and the fact that the policy it condemns has meanwhile only been intensified, shows how hopeless the practice of understatement can be when advocating urgently needed reforms. Not more than six years ago, a similar protest came from Professor D. W. Harding. In his Social Psychology and Individual Values (1953, Chap. XIII), he says: "We are struck with the vast amount of psychological knowledge, advice, and trained personnel that are available for aiding the mentally or physically handicapped child compared with the meagreness of the interest taken in the exceptionally able. For one thing, there is no doubt that in our culture most people's sentiments are organized in a way that makes it easier to lavish attention on the unfortunate than to help the gifted to make the most of themselves. Either effort requires great emotional discipline . . . but our culture gives more encouragement to the effort towards helping the unfortunate."
This important and courageous statement by a Professor of Psychology at London University, ought to have been given wide publicity; because, although in milder terms, it exactly echoes Nietzsche's and Bradley's charge against modern moral valuations and refers to modern errors of judgment not even mentioned by Bradley, its purely English provenance robs both churchmen and unconsciously Christian-feeling Rationalists of the easy and ready retort that, after all, "only a mad German is speaking". Yet, had I not read Harding's book, I should never have known that he had made any such remark to this extent are established morbid prejudices protected by our Press from any attack, however authoritative and well deserved.
I have suggested the resurrection of the Socratic spirit as the probable cause of the reversal of the husbandman's policy towards human biological inferiority, especially in North-Western
Coleridge once said to Hazlitt, "It is a tax upon people's good nature to admit superiority of any kind, even when there is the most evident proof of it" (Table-Talk, W. Hazlitt, 1921 Ed. Chap.: On the Disadvantages of Intellectual Superiority. It would have been more accurate to say "especially when there is the most evident proof of it"). Johnson also speaks of "That natural jealousy which makes every man unwilling to allow much excellence in another". (Life of Edmund Waller).
Crabbe expressed much the same idea when he wrote:
"I have heard of some,
Who, if unnoticed, grew perversely dumb,
Nay, different talents would their envy raise:
Poets have sickened at a dancer's praise;
And one, the happiest writer of his time,
Grew pale at hearing Reynolds was sublime."
(Tales V, "The Patron")
The allusions here are doubtless to Goldsmith. (See Stephen Gwynn's Oliver Goldsmith, 1935, Chap. XI, and Crabbe's Works edited by his son.) Goethe also believed that it was natural to humanity to feel reluctant to praise a fellow-being; for he declared that "When we honour other people we necessarily dishonour ourselves." ("Wenn wir Andern Ehre geben, Müssen wir uns selbst entadeln." West-Oestliche Divan: Rendsch Nameh, Buch des Unmuts.) Scopenhauer took a similar view; for, besides claiming that envy is natural to man, and that no one is free from it, he maintained that "Humanity is not in the least disposed to praise and extol; but rather to blame and find fault; by which means it indirectly exalts itself." (Parerga und Paralipomena, Vol. I, Aphorismen Zur Lebensweisheit, Chap. V, 10: "Neid ist dem Menschen natürlich"; and Vol. II, Chap. VIII, "Zür Ethik", where he says of envy, "ich befürchte dass keiner ganz frei davon befunden werden wird". Finally, in Vol. II, Chap. XX, "Ueber Urtheil, Kritik, Beifall u. Ruhm," he says, "Die Menschen sind zum Loben und Rühmen gar nicht geneigt und angelegt, wohl
Byron wholly agrees. He denied by implication that even friendship prevented envy, and he refers to it as "an universal passion" (Letters to Murray on Boules's Strictures on the Life and Writings of Pope, 2nd February 1821). The Rev. C. C. Colton, in Lacon and Sheridan in The Critic both appear to sympathise with this view of mankind a view already familiar to classical antiquity. (See Tacitus: History, Book II.)
It may very well be, therefore, that even if Socrates had never existed, and Christianity never been preached, the reluctance with which the majority of men acknowledge superiority and their corresponding readiness to see it either reduced, humbled or even destroyed, would in any case have exposed humanity to the sort of mass conspiracy in favour of inferiority (which arouses no envy and wounds no vanities) that has culminated in our present plight at least in the biological sphere. Besides, are we not all too familiar with the kind of person who feels irresistibly drawn to invalids and small children because they are the easiest human creatures to acquire power over?
In a chapter on Shakespeare, John Cowper Powys ascribes the many attempts made by critics to deprive Shakespeare of the glory of having written the plays, precisely to the human intolerance of superiority in a fellow being. He speaks of "a curious subterranean jealousy getting its morbid pleasure in a devastating iconoclasm". He refers to it again as "jealous scepticism" (P.O.L. Chap. on Shakespeare); whilst Professor Louis Schneider remarks of Western man that, harassed by his feelings of inferiority, he suffers from "an incapacity of tolerating signs of excellence in others" (The Freudian Psychology and Veblen's Social Theory, 1948, Chap. 6, iii).
Is it possible therefore, that in the mass movement in favour of all that is ill-constituted and ill-favoured, we have a post-Reformation expression of a tendency much more congenial and natural to humanity than is that other tendency peculiar to the pre-Socratic Greeks and, to some extent to the Europe presided over by Aristotle, and that the rôle of Socrates and Christianity was less that of originating, than of sanctioning and liberating, a passion that had long been straining at the leash? Can it be that all Socrates and Christianity did, was to give men a clean conscience in favouring the less superior and the frankly inferior, a
If we did assume this, we should be at pains to account for the widespread existence of biological and aesthetic superiority in innumerable primitive races all the world over, and our difficulty would not be diminished by the fact that we could hardly expect mere savages or barbarians to be moved by nobler, more magnanimous and more civilized sentiments than we ourselves are (although this is by no means necessarily inconceivable). If, therefore, we tend to leap at opportunities for scorning and neglecting biological excellence in our fellow-men, and for pampering and pandering to the biological inferior, we might legitimately expect primitive people to do likewise. As we do not find among primitive people this enhanced form of superiority-disdain, especially in connection with biological and aesthetic excellence, is it possible that the failing to which Coleridge alludes, which would abundantly account for our own tendency to sacrifice the biologically greater to the less (especially now that Christianity has given us carte-blanche in the practice), is not a fundamental human infirmity, but is peculiar only to modern civilized man?
Before concluding from the historical, anthropological and ethnological evidence that it cannot be a basic human infirmity, but merely a late manifestation of civilization, it is, however, important to remember the vis major which works in favour of human biological excellence in primitive races and even among the peoples of early forms of civilization, who are unequipped with those lethal weapons of warfare which minimize the dependence upon bodily vigour and excellence. Physical faultlessness in such circumstances is esteemed as the indispensable insurance against extermination, and a powerful motive for stifling man's instinctive reluctance to acknowledge superiority in another consequently dominates the judgment of the population.
The moment, however, that adequate protection ceased to be
Nowhere does he attempt to show that Christianity teaches any other policy than the sacrifice of the greater to the less; or to contest the claim that his religion teaches the converse of the farmer's form of pity and trains its converts to keep their bodies "out of their minds" as Margaret Mead so aptly remarks (Male and Female, 1949, Part II, Chap. IV). Nor does he once try to convince us that no consequences adverse to flourishing human life could result from St. John's and St. Paul's doctrines in I John ii, 1516 and Romans viii, 613. It will be remembered that St. John, or whoever wrote in his name, says, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes, and the
Dean Inge does not attempt to argue that these doctrines have had no influence on Christian peoples. Yet, the very fact that in verse 13 of the 8th chapter of Romans, "body" has a small "b", whilst "spirit" has a capital "S", shows how even the translators accepted and sensed the implications of the text, with its denigration of the physical side of man; for there is no indication in the Greek that spirit should be thus distinguished.
But even without the typographical honour paid to spirit, these texts sufficiently emphasize the immense superiority of the Spirit over the body, a valuation Christianity inherited from Socrates; and it is impossible not to gain the impression that the burden of the message contained in the texts I have quoted, is that people afflicted with bodies which render them incapable of loving the world and feeling the lust of the flesh and, above all, the pride of life, are nearer to the Christian ideal than those more normally and vigorously endowed.
But Dean Inge eschews the dangerous ground he would have to tread if he tried to dissuade us from reaching this conclusion. He does not venture to persuade us that the Christian attitude towards the body, inculcated upon scores of generations, has not had the results we suggest. Nor does he once endeavour to explain how St. Paul's statement to the Corinthians (I Corinthians i, 20 et seq.) could avoid giving at least the impression that human rubbish is more pleasing to the deity than thoroughbred stock.
It will be remembered that St. Paul said:
"God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence."
Could anyone, least of all Dean Inge, be so naïf as to suppose that the biologically inferior would for a moment hesitate to apply the moral of these doctrines to themselves, or that even the
As a single conclusive proof of this, he might have pondered the significance of the epithet "un-Christian" as used by every modern person in condemnation of any policy akin, however remotely, to the husbandman's form of pity. Then how does he pretend to be able to support his claim that Christianity is the eugenic religion par excellence?
He does so by quoting the three following Gospel texts, which are given the whole burden of proving his case:
"Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" (Matthew vii. 16).
"A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit" (Ibid. 18).
"Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire" (Ibid. 19).
Now, apart from the fact, perfectly familiar to Dean Inge, that these statements did not even refer to the arts of forestry or arboriculture, let alone to animal or human breeding, but were intended to warn Jesus's followers against false prophets and their "fruits", i.e. corrupt doctrines, a fact well understood by all those to whom the words were addressed, there is in the whole chapter of St. Matthew and in the four gospels no indication that Jesus either wished or intended the rules he thus laid down to bear any relation to human breeding or to selection in human mating. Nowhere in the gospels, in fact, do we find any pronouncement as biologically sound in its bearing or eugenics as that I have quoted from Leviticus xxi. 1623; nor do we find any warning against the danger to the race of always neglecting the body in order to concentrate upon and exalt the soul. Moreover, Dean Inge never attempts to support his claim, as he might reasonably be expected to do, by exonerating his religion of all responsibility for the widespread morbidity and defectiveness of modern humanity. He evidently hoped that the texts he quoted would make his claim appear sufficiently plausible to satisfy at least the converted.
How much more candid and therefore respectable is the attitude of the Rev. A. R. Osborne, the minister of one of the large New York City churches. Speaking of the conditions prevailing in a former Age, in respect of humanity's subnormals, defectives
This is the plain honest truth, and this recent admission by a Christian priest of New York, makes one wonder whether, owing to our senility, our long subjection to feminine dominion, our decadence, or all these three influences together, we of the old Mother Country, may not have grown too mealy-mouthed, too cravenly mendacious, and too unmanly to be accurate and capable of facing and acknowledging awkward and unpleasant facts.
It will be remembered that, as the "lethal chamber" solution is the only one popularly conceived as possible for relieving society of the crushing burden consisting of its biological trash and dregs, and of cleansing the national stock and protecting it from further contamination, nothing whatsoever is done about it, and for the simple reason that modern sensibilities, although able with unwavering fortitude to tolerate the mass slaughter of chiefly sound adults and children on our roads, cannot endure the thought of sacrificing so much as a single hair of a raving maniac's head. Thus the problem of purifying our stock and relieving the precious minority of the sound, of the crippling burdens imposed on them by the prevalence of sickness, defect,
In facing this problem Nietzsche saw that at bottom it was one of values. What had happened was that the pre-Socratic and wholesome values relating to man had been reversed, turned upside down, and that although, as we have seen, other influences may have contributed to this volte-face, the principal present agency causing these topsy-turvy values still to exert their sway, was Christianity with its baneful Socratic heritage concerning body and soul, health and sickness, pity and altruism.
Thus Nietzsche proposed, as the most practical non-violent means modern legislators can command for recovering a sane and sanitary attitude, what he termed A Transvaluation of Values i.e., the restoration of the pre-Socratic view of man as a psycho-physical whole, and of the pre-Socratic criteria for assessing his worth.
No longer should commonplace folk be taught that the body is inferior to the "soul", and that its condition and appearance are unimportant in assessing a person's worth. On the contrary, their taste in appraising humanity should be purged of this depraved Socratic influence and they should hold no human being as desirable on the score of his invisible aspects alone, least of all for matrimony.
No longer should we be eager aye, impatient to sacrifice the greater to the less. On the contrary, at every moment of our lives we should school ourselves to sacrifice the less to the greater. The policy of penalizing the sound and biologically superior for the support and preservation of those whose debility, defect, or dementia, was more than transitory, should be looked upon as cruel, sadistic and odious. Pity and charity should therefore no longer be blindly restricted to the waste products of every generation. This bottomless sack into which all our magnanimity, vigour and health have hitherto been poured, must be looked upon as a criminal device.
Men must learn again to feel in their hearts contempt and repugnance for biological depravity; and when this lesson has been learnt and the taste displayed in mating has been correspondingly chastened, there will be no need to quarrel over the pros and cons of a lethal chamber for human rubbish, for mor-
A few generations reared on these pre-Socratic values would greatly improve the quality of Western man and, with the permanent dominion of the new morality, mankind would slowly and surely acquire a different mien. Moreover, as three-quarters at least of both public and domestic strife and friction arises from feelings of inferiority in the parties concerned, the ultimate supersession of health and biological excellent would put an end to much of the conflict and discord which today are the outcome of bad health and failing stamina, conditions which contribute substantially to the ruin of social and international relations.
The one formidable obstacle to this urgently needed non violent means of combating degeneracy is Christianity, with its malignant core of Socratic uncharitableness towards everything beautiful, sound, sweet, wholesome and clean; and until we rid our world of this two thousand-year-old pestilence, there can be no hope, much less any guarantee, of our regeneration. But the hostility of Christianity to any such reform as Nietzsche's Transvaluation of Values, is certain to be bitter, desperate and determined; nor will it be any less implacable for having on its side all the massed legions of the sickly, the purulent and the gangrenous; all the uncomely, misshapen and ill-favoured, who will fight tooth and nail and without mercy in order to preserve their present parasitical dominion over civilized societies; whilst the fact that they will most certainly be backed by the whole vast personnel running our present Health Service, a personnel which today makes disease a vested interest, will by no means facilitate the task of any reformers aiming at effecting the transvaluation in question.
The reader may object, "But since, as is alleged by Professor A. N. Whitehead, "far less than one-fifth of the population are in any sense Christians today" (A.I. Chap. XVIII), what does the hostility of Christianity to the proposed reform matter?
This objection seems reasonable only if we forget the argument advanced in Chapter V ante, where it was pointed out that, prone as modern people may be to reject the myths and supernatural claims of Christianity and to declare themselves Rationalists, Agnostics, Free Thinkers, or even Atheists, acknowledging allegiance to no denomination of the Christian faith, deep down in their instincts and the emotions resulting from them, Christian
Thus, despite the probable truth of Professor Whitehead's estimate of the proportion of Christians in our midst, the opposition to any reform along the lines I have suggested, which is likely to come from the quarter of conscious Christians, would most probably be multiplied a thousandfold from the ranks of those moderns who are unwittingly Christians at heart.