19th Century Thought

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Dec 27th 2015

Did you know that in the 19th Century, before the different railroads were joined, there werre 56 time zones?  Yes, we can give the railroad for standardizing time zones - and a lot less than 56!

Apr 18th 2015

Perspective on Atheism and Society


Sometimes the masses have been driven to Atheism by science. There are some geometers great in paradox, men who, of all the senses that the Creator has given to his creatures, have cultivated only one, the sense of touch, — leaving out entirely that chief sense, which connects and confirms all others, — the sense of the invisible, the moral sense. These savans, geometers, physicians, arithmeticians, mathematicians, chemists, astronomers, measurers of distances, calculators of numbers, have early acquired the habit of believing only in the tangible.

These are the beings who, so to speak, live and think in the dark ; all, which is not palpable, does not exist for them. They measure the earth, and say, " We have not met God in any league of its surface ! " They heat the alembic, and say, "We have not perceived God in the smoke of any of our experiments ! " They dissect dead bodies, and say, " We have not found God, or thought, in any bundle of muscles or nerves in our dis section ! "They calculate columns of figures, long as the firmament, and say, " We have not seen God in the sum of any of our additions ! " They pierce, with eye and glass, into the dazzling mysteries of night, to discover, across thousands and thousands of leagues, the groups and the evolutions of the celestial worlds, and say, " We have not discovered God at the end of our telescopes !The existence of God does not concern us ; it is no affair of ours ! " — Madmen ! They do not suspect that the knowledge and adoration of God are, at bottom, the only business of the creature ; and that ah1 these distances, these globes, these numbers, these mysteries of the living being, this dissected mechanism of the dead, these compositions and decompositions of combined elements, these hosts of stars, and these eternal evolutions of suns around the divine hand which guides them, have   no other reason for existence, for movement, and for duration, than to compel the acknowledgment, fear, admiration, and adoration of God, by that supreme sense, that sense superior to all other senses, that sense imponderable and impalpable, invisible yet beholding all things, — that sense which we call intelligence !  Alas ! it is not that God has denied this sense to these men of figures, of science, and calculation ; but they have blinded themselves, they have cultivated the other senses so much, that they have weakened this. They have believed too much in matter, and so they have lost the eye of the spirit. These men, we are told, have made great progress in experimental science, but they have made good, evil, to the People, by saying to them, " We, who are so high, we cannot see God ! — blind men ! what do you see, then ? "
Thus these men count for nothing the forms of worship and the forms of government. They are neither followers of Brama, of Confucius, of Mahomet, of Plato, or of Rousseau ; neither absolute monarchists, constitutional royalists, nor republicans. They are of the politics, and of the religion, in which they can manufacture most, buy and sell easiest, trade the best, multiply wealth.
Atheists and demagogues united to persecute religion, to revenge themselves for the old persecutions of the priesthood. They profaned the temples, violated conscience, blasphemed the God of the faithful, parodied the ceremonies, cast to the winds the pious symbols of worship, and persecuted the ministers of religion.

For eighteen years, new sects, or, rather, posthumous sects, have disputed for the soul of the People, under the names of Fourierism, of Pantheism, of Communism, of Industrialism, of Economism, and, finally, of Terrorism. Look at them, listen to them, read them, analyze them, sift them, handle them ; and say, if, with the exception of a vague deifying of every thing, — that is to say, of nothing, by the Fourierites, — there is a single one of these philosophical, social, or political sects, which is not founded on the most evident practical Atheism ; which has not matter for a God ; material enjoyments. People who would become fanatics, only for their own destruction ; renounce their moral nature, their divine souls, their immortal destinies, only for a morsel of more savory bread upon their table, for a larger portion of earth under their feet ? for morality; exclusive satisfaction of the senses for an end ; purely sensual gratifications for a paradise ; this world for the sole scene of existence ; the body for the only condition of being; the prolonging of life a few more years for its only hope ; a sharpening of the senses to material appetites.  But what do your systems of atheistic society show us in perspective ? What do they promise us in compensation for our griefs ? What do they give us in exchange for our souls ? You know, — we wil1 not speak of it.
This cannot last ; the People will not allow themselves to be changed into hogs by the Circes of Atheism. Their souls will flash indignation against their transformers. A day will come when they will see that they are impoverished under the pretext of being enriched ; that, when they are robbed of their souls and of God, both their titles to liberty are stolen from them.

From the book Atheism Among the People   by FRANCIS LE BARON.
Read at Worcester, Mass. March 7, 1850.

Apr 13th 2015

This the best rendering I was capable of doing because of the corrupted copy of the text I was required to work with. Especially with regard to Greek and other non-English words, the best guess at spelling was attempted. I take full responsibility for any errors in the text as a result of my misunderstanding or poor vocabulary. The book was originally published in 1875 (the fourth American edition was produced through Joseph P Mendum) and written by John Evans.

 

 

HISTORY OF ALL CHRISTIAN SECTS AND DENOMINATIONS.

 

CHAPTER I.

 

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS ON EXISTING CREEDS AT VARIANCE

ATHEISTS WITH CHRISTIANITY PANTHEISTS DEISTS,

THEOPHILANTHROPISTS, PAGANS - ATHEISTS.

 

Before entering upon an account of the various sects and denominations, into which the Christian world is divided, it will be interesting to glance at the opinions of those, who reject all revealed religion, and to review the present condition of Judaism and Muhammadanism. Indeed, a complete survey of the interesting field we propose to examine could not well be taken, without departing so far from our main subject as to include these topics. To delineate the nature, point out the foundation, and calculate the tendency of every individual creed, would be an endless task. Our design is simply to enumerate the

leading tenets of the several parties, which attract our notice ; and, in accomplishing this purpose, it will be our earnest endeavor to avoid all uncharitable reflections and prejudiced misrepresentations.

 

As the idea of a Supreme Being religion, is the foundation of all , we will first consider the opinions of those, who and who are consequently without any religion. The term atheist is derived from two Greek words, 'a, without and deos God; and signifies one who denies the existence of a God, or a Providence ; and in this sense the appellation occurs to reject or profess to reject this idea,

 

ATHEISTS — Without God (or the New Testament, Ephes. ii. 12: atheist) in the world." Plato distinguishes three sorts of Atheists: such as deny absolutely that there are any Gods ; others, who admit the existence of the Gods, but deny that they concern themselves with human affairs, and so disbelieve a Providence and lastly, such as believe in the Gods and a Providence, but think that they are easily appeased, remitting the greatest crimes for the slightest supplication. Some persons question the reality of such a character; and others insist that pretensions to Atheism have their origin in pride, or are adopted as a cloak to licentiousness, while in not a few instances the motive is merely an affectation of eccentricity. It is evident that direct Atheists are few.

 

In the seventeenth century, Benedict Spinoza was a noted defender of what comes under Plato's classification of Atheistic notions. Spinoza was a Jew of Amsterdam, born in 1634. In his work on ethics, he undertakes to deduce by mathematical reasoning from a few axioms, the principles, “that there can be no substance but God ; whatever is is in God, and nothing can be conceived without God.'' Hence his scheme from the Greek words is

called , with justice, Pantheistic.

 

In 1619, Lucilio Vanini, an Italian, of eccentric character, was burned at Toulouse, for his Atheistic tenets. Being pressed to make public acknowledgment of his crime, and to ask pardon of God, the king, and justice, he replied, that he did not believe there was a God ; that

he never offended the king ; and as for justice, he wished it at the devil !

He confessed that he was one of the company from Naples to spread their

doctrines in all parts of Europe. Who in his Essays, justly remarks, that " a little philosophy inclineth a man's mind to Atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion : for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may rest in them and go no farther but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederated and Lord Bacon, linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity."

And Dean Sherlock remarks, respecting the origin of Athe ism, that " The universal Deluge and the confusion of Lan guages, had so abundantly convinced mankind of a Divine power and Providence, that there was no such person as an Atheist till their ridiculous idolatries had tempted some

men of wit and thought rather to own no God than such as the Heathens worshiped."

 

Dr. Priestley, in one of his Fast sermons, observes, that when he visited France, in 1774, " All her philosophers and men of letters were absolute infidels and that he was represented by one of them in a mixed strain of censure and compliment, as the only man of talent he had met with, who had any faith in the Scriptures. Nay, Voltaire himself, who was then living, was considered by them as a weak-minded man, because, though an unbeliever in revelation, he believed in a God "

Atheism, being purely negative, is not a religion, nor have Atheists ever associated as a body for religious worship the wisest do not attempt to prove this negative, but require proofs of the Deists, and other spiritual worshipers

they usually take the name of Materialists, and attempt to account for mental phenomena by the properties and combination of matter, admitting with all men, that much in nature is beyond the powers of humanity to comprehend.

 

This post is an attempt to begin the process of understanding the thoughts and perspectives of writers, Christian mainly, who influenced the public opinion of the time. Many of the concepts and statements are somewhat surprising given the era and the “respect” for other beliefs.

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