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IS THERE A GOD ?
since it is as easy to conceive matter to have XVII.
always heen as to have never been. The
difficulty is not greater of comprehending si Atheism is a point of metaphysical abstractions. that there must always have been something The metaphysician asks, " Who created matter ?":
than that there once was nothing. Hence The answer is, “ The first cause.” The rejoinder
we conclude, since matter plainly is, that it says, “ Did he make matter out of nothing ? If so, the nature of the huunan mind receives this as
always wus. If we really had to choose be.
tween the absurd and the unfathomable it an absurdity. If he made itout of something, this is not creation but reformation, and then, who
would be rational to choose the latter, as ig. made the something; and the inqniry goes on ad
norance is better than fully. But it is not infinitum, until the mind is lost in what, by its
The Theist, upon the question of crea. nature, it cannot comprehend, and the case rests tion, has the absurdity. The Atheist deals between a choice of an absurdity or an incompre only in plain, clear, comprehensibilities-hensibility.” This is one part of the metaphysical and plain and clear the existence of the subject. Now let me come to the other. The
universe is, metaphysical philosopher asks, “Who created With regard to a creator-came he from this first cause ?" The reply it, “ It is sell-cre- something or nothing? If it were as plain ated." Then comes the argument, He must have to our eyes, as is inatter, we should have made himself either ont of nothing or something some ground to conclude it self-existent. -if out of nothing, we have nothing creating itself But this not being the case, the Atheist knows into something, and that something encued with nothing of it, and does not busy himselt with omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. It the “dilemma at all. The absurdity of is not, therefore, a first, but only a second cause,
the supposition made by the Deist he at nothing being its parent, and the whole philosophy
once rejects, and leaves " incomprehensirests upon pothing being the first cause or creator
bility to be studied by the theoretically of everything. If what we call the first cause did
mad. The Deist, by supposing a god, does not create itself out of nothing, it must have cre. ated itself out of soinething, having a previous multiply difficulties no mind can remove.
nothing more than dely his own reason, and something, and again the human mind is in the dileinma of adopting an absurdity or an incom- The Atheist is more of a utilitarian, and takes prehensibility.”PUBLICOLA.
care not to squander his invention in such a
worthless manner. The above is rather long for a motto, but it Supposing atheism and deism to be really must pass as an illustrative extract, It is questions equally supported by facts or probfrom the pen of the most subtile and philoso. abilities, which Origen Bacheler in his disphical of our political writers, and very well cussion with Dale Owen ably avd acutely expresses the current and philosophical ob- prores can not be the case--still this would jection to the discussion of atheism among be no excuse for the supineness and apathy the reasoning and liberal portions of society. displayed upon this subject by professedly They regard it as a question equally balanced liberal and philosophical thinkers. :-a pendulum of mystery, ever vibrating He who really believes deisin to be but a between the poles of unintelligibility-aud speculative question, should take care that think, the questions of deisin and its negative his fellow men so regard it, and not allow them the Scylla and Charybdis of the metaphysical to rest the question of morals, human rights,
and liberty on a speculative basis. And what However, as is the case more or less in is much worse, to assuine their question proved all controversy, these opinions are not and every day act upon it, tu the expendi. shared by every body. When we are told ture of millions, the sacrifice of all honesty god created the world from bothing, the and virtue, the pegation of philosophy, and human mind instantly rejects it as a palpable frustration of the benevolent schemes of phi. absurdity, as an act not only contrary to ex lanthropy.
G. J. H. perience but absolutely inconceivable. The creation of matter from nothing is admitted The following whimsical, and of course as an absurd idea, but it belongs to, and is blasphemous, placard was printed and pub. held by, the Deist not the Atheist. The lished by Pichard Carlisle, in 1828. Daring Atheist accounts for the existence of mat
had he no fears for his immortal soul?-ter without having recourse tu an "incom. HANGING OF THE HOLY Ghost.--Every prehensibility.” ”The existence of the wi- clergyman of the established church, is at his Verse is plain enough, it is an axiom requiring ordination, declared to have received the holy no proof. It is perfectly comprehensible. ghost. The Rev. Peter Fenu, whi, for But whence came it, cries the restless and forgery, is ordered for execution, on Monday uueasy theologian,who, when it suits his pur- next, is an ordained clergyman of the estabpose will pry into hidden things with as lished church. The clerical or law-established much ardour as the Infidel? The Athei-t inference is, that the holy ghost is to hanged answers, we suppose matter to be eterual on Monday neci,
THEORY OF REGULAR GRADATION., of sexes, and reproduction takes place by
simple division or by buds, termed gemmules, “ The reader will find that, proceeding through a
which spout and become detached from the series of forms, from the sponges to the highest of parent, the polypifera, namely, the sea anemories or The sponges (porifera) have been consi, actiniæ, an increase in the development of organic dered by many naturalists as vegetables, at structure characterises the successive links of the this we canoot be surprised when we look at chain." - Visilor.
we find them sold in commerce;
when in the sea it is covered with a gela. UPON a reconsideration of the plan I origi. tinous film, both inside and out, very like the nally laid down for the development of this white of an egg; it drains away when retheory, and a review of the arguments and il- moved from the water; chemically tested the lustrations I have already adduced, I am of sponge is purely animal, azote or nitrogen opinion that to trace the successive links of forming a large portion of its composition. organisation throughout the entire animal “Sponges exhibit a great variety of forms, kingdom, from the sponges upwards to man, and often the most fantastic shapes. Fixed would tire my readers. I have, therefore, plant-like to the rock, they festoon the deepi determined upon giving the distinguishing sea caves ; they line the walls of submarine points only of the different divisions, consider, grottoes, and hang as grotesque ornaments ing sufficient has already been said to satisfy from the roof; some like inverted goblets, an ordinary mind that it is not upon mere aptly termed Neptune's drinking cups ; some conjecture the gradation theorists have hased like fans, some like globes, and others like their opinion. There is an old saw, that one intertwined branches of uncouth growth." fact is as good as a thousand, and in all that Though every species of sponge has its cha. relates to physics, it may be relied on. I have racteristic figure, still no two individuals of given many facts in support of my views, and the same species agree in external form, or combatted what objections I have fallen in in the number and precise directions of their with, which I considered worthy of notice; large canals. Among the higher animals, as in fact, those objections which are urged by we know every species resembles the rest of the more intelligent of the creationists, both its species, in the form of the limbs and teeth, Jewish and otherwise. The remaining pa. in the length and figure of the ears, tail, muz: pers will therefore be intended to serve the zle, etc., and also in the arrangement and double purpose of strenthening the convert in colouring of the hairs, spives, scales, or feahis newly acquired views, if there be any such; thers. But this definiteness of figure, involsand also be of use to those who have not the ing a copstancy in the number and arranger time or means to procure illustrations for them- ment of composing parts, dimivishes in deselves.
gree as we verge towards the lower groups, I shall commence then with the inverte- and when we arrive at the lowest, we see dibrata, or those animals having no rertebral versity in the midst of sameness, being in column. Three of the four great divisions of this particular very much like trees, for ng Cuvier, belong to this head. The radiata or two oak trees have the same muinber of zoophyta, or those animals that branch out in branehes, form of trunk, etc. says from a centre, like the madrepore, is the
The zoophytes or phylozaa. (Ehrenberg; lowest division, and the acrita (from a, nega- phyton, a plant, zoon, an animal), called by tive, crino, to perceive), or animals in whom | Grant, polypifera, or polype-bearers, follow no distinct nerves can be perceived, the low - the sponges. The demonstration of their est in the animal scale. As in No. 23, p. 191, animal vature is due to John Ellis, F.R.S., I gave an outline of Cuvier's arrangement of 1754, who, however, had many opposers, who the animal kingdom, which contained the contended they were vegetables. Highest most important differences of the four divisions, I shall not repeat them, but add what other amoug the polypifera, in the scale of organ. particulars I may deem necessary.
isation, are the flesby polypes, namely the
The skeletons of this division are met with internal sists of a soft, fleshy, cylindrical body, the
activiæ, or sea anemonies. The actinja conor extemal, soft, horny or calcareous; branche base of which, activg as a sucker, enables the ed, globular, or 'filiform ; free or fixed. The animal to adhere to rocks, stones, and pebsponges and zoophytes belong to the acrita, bles. The opposite extremity presents a stri: and though no nervous fibres have been de- ated disc with a central oral orifice, and is tected, it is very probable that nervous matter surrounded by a tentacula, either in a single in some subtle form may be blended with the gelatine, or pulpy substance of which they with minute suckers,as in actinia alcyonoidea,
row, and adorned by enlargements, covered are composed; true blood-vessels do not exist; from the South Pacific, or by two or more their power of locomotion differs materially, some live and die upon one spot; none bave rows of simple tubular tentacula, as in a. setrue limbs, but many have tentacles or feelers vilis and equina of our own shores. These for securing their prey; there is no distinction teutacula are capable of being expanded.
contraeted, and moved in every direction, has only served to clog and chokeit, leading When fully expanded, while the creature to the growth of absurd and crude notions waits for its victim, they present a most beau- about soul or spirit, which, to the great tiful flower-like appearance, increased by the scandal of right reason, have been crammed fine colours which they usually exhibit. To down the throats of the people. If theolothe activiæ, for the first time in this class, we gians would leave railing and deal with facts, recognise distinct muscular fibres, giving to with a view to ascertain why the mind of the body the power of contraction and ex- man is superior to that of the most intelli, pansion, and eveu locomotion. It is not only gent brute, the reason is to be found in the on being touched that these creatures con following observations by Lord Bacon,“ That tract; so extreme is their sensibility, that a of all things in the universe, man is the most dark cloud passing over the sky, is sufficient compounded and re-compounded body, so to make them draw in all their tentacles; and that the ancients, not improperly styled him the actinia senilis will, at once, bury itself in a microcosm, or little world within himself. the sand on the approach of an intruder. For, although the chemists have absurdly
W.C. and too literally wrested and perverted the
elegance of the term microccsm, whilst they THE FREE INQUIRER'S WHY AND pretend to find all kinds of mineral and BECAUSE
vegetable matters, or something correspond. WRITTEN BY CHARLES SOUTHWELL. ing to them in man; yet, it remains firm
and yushakeu, that the human body is of all Why have some philosophers assumed substances the most mixed and organical; that matter is capable of thought i
whereas, it has surprising powers and faculBecause they hold it as an incontrover- ties. For the powers of simple bodies are tible axiom, that nothing can
but few, though certain and quick, as being nothing, and contend that we have an idea brukea or weakened, and not counterbalanced of matter, but none of spirit or soul, distinct by mixture; but excellence and quantity of from matter. They conceive that the atoms energy reside in mixture and composition.” of which bodies are composed, have, when Why has life been called a property of combined in different proportions, different organisation? degrees of energy; and that, as fermentation Because all elements and all atoms, or is produced by the mixture of an acid and particles of matter, whether organic or 'iporan alkali, so thought, or intellectual energy ganic are the same in essence; the only difis composed by the atoms which compose ference consists in the arrangement of them; the human structure; and, in reply to those dead matter is called inorganic, that is, pot who contend that it is incredible that matter so arranged as to display the phenomena should think, they urge that it may be in- called living, so that the terms inorganic and credible, but it is a fact, and insist that no dead mean exactly the same thing; whereas, mere assumption can be allowed in au argu- when we speak of an organised substance, we ment of this nature, still less an assumption speak of a living substance. The difference which involves the whole question in dis between the life of a man and that of a bee. pute--yet, it is true, that upon this frail tle or caterpillar, is one of degree, not of twig hángs all theological reputation, and essence, and is a necessary consequence of those innumerable and complicated theories the different arravgement of the atoms of a future life, to which theologians have which compose them. Arrangement, genergiven birth; by this thread is the weapon of ally termed structure or organisation, is life, the tree inquirer suspended, like the sword derangement or decomposition is death; so of Damocles, over the heads of all traders that the phenomena called life, is a consein human credulity. We cannot conceive quence of the organs, their powers, and their why an acid and an alkai should produce susceptibilities. “ Life,' says a modern ferinentation, and yet fermentation is pro author," as far as we affix any scientific meanduced; we cannot conceive how life should ing to the word, is a peculiar mode of being, be a property of organisation, and yet in which a certain series of phenomena are organised matter always lives; we cannot observed to take place; these phenomena, conceive how plants grow, or the moon moves are never found associated with any other through her orbit, travelling at the amazing conditions but that one to the designation of rate of 2000 miles an hour; we cannot which the term life is appropriated; hence, conceive why matter should gravitate, attract we use this word merely as the short expres. separate, mix, preserve, putifry, regenerate ; sion by which this peculiar state of being, or but, in reality, all that we can do in any the associated phenomena whịch coustitute case, is to observe matter, and the change or it are denoted. What life is, independently phenomena it exhibits. The distinction be of this series of phenomena, we are wholly tween nian and pature used in the first in- ignorant, as we are of everything but apstance, perhaps, to help the understapding,) pearances in relation to every object in
nature." We say that matter is the per- HISSING AN ATHEIST!
(From the Monthly Repository, for 1834.) and so on. We say that mind is the per- | The Times of November 29, contains the report of manent subject of certain faculties, such as
the trial of Henry Berthold for stealing a boa, the perception, memory, association, reason. In
property of Messrs. Leaf and Co., the firm which like manner, we imagine that there is a per- figured some time back as defendants in a dispute manent subject, which we name the vital with the custom-house, touching sundry alleged irprinciple, upon which we conceive the phe- regularities r·lative to the revenue. Few publio nomena of living beings to depend. But matters have occurred of late more calcnlated to these permanent subjects, these substrata, in excite disgust in a well regulated and reflecting which qualities are supposed to inhere, must mind than the conduct of almost all the parties conbe considered, so far as our real knowledge nected with this trial, either as actors or spectators, is concerned, fictions of the imagination. if the Times report be correct. All that we really know are the ascertained
Henry Berthold, a native of Saxony, and writer to phenomena, beyond these everything must
some of the penny political periodicals, was charged of course be conjecture; and the most emi.
with shop-lifting, by concealing a boa in his hat, for nent men have fallen, and at this very time, which he was put upon his trial, and he hired Chas, are constantly falling into gross errors, by him, if possible, not guilty. The prisoner also read
Phillips, barrister of alliterative notoriety, to prove not keeping the distinction here suggested steadily in view. The opinion held by almost works of a highly moral tendency, and in testimony
a defence, stating that “ he had pnblished several all the ancient philosophers, and some few
to the character of his writings solicited the atten. of the moderns, that the mind of man is tion of the court to the letters he had in his possesnothing of itself, like putrefaction, exciti. sion from his present majesty, when Duke of Clability, contraction, gravitation, separation, rence, from the Duchess of Kent, the Duke of Glouattraction, &c., merely certain conditions of cester, the Duke of Wellington, Earl of Stanhope, matter, has been deemed harsh and incredi.
and other distinguished personages." He then by ble; as it is contended that the nature of way of proof of his innocence placed th: boa in ques. man, including body and soul, or mind, tion in his hat, so that it would not go on his head. could not spring out of senseless or unreason. Upon which, a witness for the prosecution, by the ing atoms, seemingly forgetful, or perhaps direction of the recorder, twisted the boa into a form not having known, that dead substances are which made it easy to conceal in the hat when on composed of precisely the same particles as the prisoner's head. living ones, which only differ in their ar- A witness named JULIAN HIBBERT then pre. rangement; so that dead, or inorganic mat. sented himself, under a subpena, to speak to the ter, arranged and inodified in a certain man. prisoner's character, but on being put on his oath, ner, becomes living or organic; how this is stated that he did not believe in the contents of the
book presented to him, whether it might be the Old accomplished none are wise enough to an.
or New Testament. Mr. Charles Phillips then elj. swer, but that it is done all must know who
cited from him that he was an Atheist, whereat he place any
the evidence of their
professed to be deeply shocked, and refused to es.
The witness calmly replied “very or mind of mari, is a sell-existent immaterial well," and descended from the box amid loud hisses. agent, is a mere opinion, and has nothing Mr. Phillips, however, to make the thing still more whatever to do with science. Others, assert explicit, again called him back for an explanation that the soul, or mind, is a very subtle fluid, of the word Atheist, and then concluded, “I will which enters into, and makes use the body not disgrace myself by asking you another question." as a shell or coverivg; so that may thus The witness then retired amidst the strongest mani. considered is a twofold being, material and festations of disgust and execration from all present. immaterial, body and soul, something and A second witness, WILLIAM M.PHERSON, waz nothing, which body and soul are uot to be then called, whose conduct gave sufficient evidence considered as necessarily connected, but that he was disgustingly coarse-minded, as well as merely for the time being. Others contend, absurd. He also stated that he was an Atheist, and that the soul is but a manifestation of the the remainder of the trial was as follows, according principle of heat, generated by the motions to the Times :of the atoms which compose us. It is ob Mr. Phillips (with great energy): Begone, rir; served by Dr. Arnott, that the temporary
I will not, after the disgusting exhibition made to. absence of heat may be called the sleep of night, degrade myself by asking you another ques.
tion; nor will I disguise the answer you made to nature, the more permanent torpor about the
me in an under tone, when I asked you if you had poles appears like its death; in like manner
been sworn, that“ you had gone through the cere. it has been presumed, that the temporary mony." I will not insult this Christian jury and suspension of motion, and its consequent assembly by putting another question to you; be heat among the particles of organised beings, gone, sir! It was some minutes before silence was is sleep, whilst the absence of heat, in conse
procured, so general were the expressions of execraquence of its entire suspension, is death.
tion at the declaration and the demeanour of the
witness, who left the court amidst hisses and lond perzons, of appropriating every thing they lay hands cries of "Turn him out," in which several of the upon—he must have been actuated by one of two jury joined.
causes-actual want, or utter profligacy. If the Mr. Alderman Brown then said, addressing Mr. latter, he was a worthless being; if the foriner, it Phillips, " The public, Mr. Phillips, owe you much is an evidence of the ab ence of intellect, or beggarly for the course you have pursued.”
pride. A writer in want would scarcely be refused No other witueus answering when called, the re- employinent as a labourer in a printing house, and corder pruceeded to suin up the evidence to the jury. a man of moral feelings would at once have sait, He was satisfied they would not sufier the prisoner it is better to labour for a bare subsistence than to to enstain any prejudice in their minds from the ex. break down the barrier of integrity. Notining but hibition that had just now been made in court. It the pangs of hunger can warrant any man in taking wonld have perhaps been well if the court had used the property of his neighbour without his leave, and its authority to repress the disturbance which that
even then the violence only becomes excusable on exhibition had occasioned, but he could not help the plea that hunger is like madness, preventing a saying, however irregular the conduct which tiowed man from being master of his own actions. Had from right principles might be, it was most pleasing there been a fragment of high mind in Henry Derto witness with what disgust and execration the de. thold when put upon his trial, he would at once clarations of a party (whether real or affected) that have crossed his arms and said “I am guilty; and he was not dependant upon a supreme being, were the cause of my guilt was want (or proili :: cy) for received in a British assembly.
which I am content to bear the punishment the law The jury, after a short consultation, found the awards.” But not so; he meanly shufiled and preprisoner gnilty, but recommended him to mercy, be- varicated, and endeavoured to controvert direct and lieving this to be a first offence. The recorder told positive testimony by a trick so absurd and glaring the prisoner if he had respectable witnesses who that a child would have been ashamed to attempt could depose to his character and mode of life, he it, as an imputation on his intellect.
Still more would hear their evidence before he passed sentence. contemptible than this was his citing such persons The prisoner said he had such friends, and that he as the Dukes of Clarence, and Gloucester, and Wel. had no notion that the witnesses he had called lington, in proof of his good character. A portion would have been guilty of such conduct.
of his business as a public teacher had been to bring In commenting upon this I shall render justice, into contempt the l'actitious respect attaching to so far as my reason will enable me, to all parties. such men on account of their rank, and ripon
the Henry Berthold was clearly guilty u! i he crime of principle of the cringing meamess ever inhabiting stealing the boa, and the recommendation to mercy the soul of a sycophant; only upon that principle was most ill judged. Inrinitely greater was his crime
can his conduct be accounted for. A man of high than a similar offence committed by a private indi- mind, even after the commission of a crime, would vidual. He had set himself up as a teacher of the at once have disdained such disproof of his own unpeople, and an advocate of their political rights, worthiness. Yet, “the recorder told the prisoner therefore it behoved him to be of irreproachable life that if he had respectable witnesses who could deand morals, even if his intellect were infirm, and if pose to his character and mode of life, he would he erred through want of intellect; still more cer- hear their evidence before he passed sentence." tain should be his punishment, in order to prevent That sentence, when translated, ineans, if you will other half-informed men from lightly arrogating to abjure all your former radical doings, and can by themselves the office of moral and political teachers proper sycophancy to sundry dukes and duchesses, as a inode of getting their daily bread. The princi- persuade them to give you letters of recommendaciple of the bloated churchman, “ do ye even as Ition, I will let you ofl'. How perfectly this tallies say, and not as I do," should uot be allowed to gain with the statement of the “schoolmaster in Newground amongst those who profess themselves pa- gate,” that great men can influence the punishment triots. Children who play wantonly with fire are of a prisoner, from hanging and transportatiou down punished on account of the risk that mischief may to respite and reprieve. It is another proof of the occur, and he who sets up for a public teacher should, inischief of sufiering a “ pardon power” to lie in when he errs, be more severely punished than an irresponsible hands, thus making it a tool for poli. obscure man, for his sphere of evil is greater. I have tical tampering. Punishments should not be defined not read any of the writings of Henry Berthold, but by law, save under the direction of unprejudiced ky is evidently a man of very inferior intellect. He philosophers, and when thus defined, they should be was the anthor of the political handkerchief, a puerile imperative—not left to the regulation of the passions attempt to out manæuvre the stamp-office, by print of a judge. Thus far Henry Berthold, criminal ! ing political articles on calico, or rather on crossed
(To be continued.) cotton thread saturated with damaged American flower or plaster of Paris. The thing was unreadable after a single “man handling,” becoming a Some time ago, a party of ranters returndirty mass of printer's ink and white powder. He ing from a prayer meeting, made up with an could not even have looked at the act of parliament, old woman with a lantern in her hand, who or he would have seen that the stamp duties were pro had been out charing; they, thinking she tected by the words “paper, or any other material.” had been on the same errand as themselves, A man thus shallow could be but a blind guide to asked her, “Had she been seekiug the lord ?" others. In stealing the boa-supposing him not to Eh, bless me! (cried she), I did not know he be possessed of the idiosyncracy peculiar to some