Historical Reprints Religion Humanity's Gain From Unbelief

Humanity's Gain From Unbelief

Humanity's Gain From Unbelief
Catalog # SKU2097
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Charles Bradlaugh


Humanity's Gain
From Unbelief
Other Lectures by
Charles Bradlaugh

THROWN on his own resources as a boy, with every man's hand against him, my father was both essentially and by force of circumstances a man of action, and his writings were usually inspired by the need of the time. His pen and his tongue were servants to be used to further the causes he had at heart: weapons with which he sought to overcome the dragons of intolerance and superstition, Most of his writings appeared in his weekly journal, the 'National Reformer,' or were issued in pamphlet form. There are, unfortunately, few books to his credit; for these demanded more time than he was able to give.

In the opening sentences, commenting on the continuous modification in the dogma and practice of religion, he used the phrase, "None sees a religion die," which has been quoted again and again down to quite recent times, While acknowledging the good done by individual Christians, he contended that the special services rendered to human progress by these exceptional men were not in consequence of their adhesion to Christianity, but in spite of it, and in direct opposition to Biblical enactments.

This essay was immediately reprinted in various parts of America and Australia as well as here in England, and at once gave rise to a storm of controversy.

Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner


AS an unbeliever, I ask leave to plead that humanity has been a real gainer from skepticism, and that the gradual and growing rejection of Christianity -- like the rejection of the faiths which preceded it -- has in fact added, and will add, to man's happiness and well-being. I maintain that in physics science is the outcome of skepticism, and that general progress is impossible without skepticism on matters of religion. I mean by religion every form of belief which accepts or asserts the supernatural. I write as a Monist, and use the word "nature" as meaning all phenomena, every phenomenon, all that is necessary for the happening of any and every phenomenon.

Every religion is constantly changing, and at any given time is the measure of the civilisation attained by what Guizot described as the "juste milieu" of those who profess it. Each religion is slowly but certainly modified in its dogma and practice by the gradual development of the peoples amongst whom it is professed. Each discovery destroys in whole or part some theretofore cherished belief. No religion is suddenly rejected by any people; it is rather gradually outgrown. None sees a religion die; dead religions are like dead languages and obsolete customs: the decay is long and -- like the glacier march -- is perceptible only to the careful watcher by comparisons extending over long periods. A superseded religion may often be traced in the festivals, ceremonies, and dogmas of the religion which has replaced it. Traces of obsolete religions may often be found in popular customs, in old wives' stories, and in children's tales.

It is necessary, in order that my plea should be understood, that I should explain what I mean by Christianity; and in the very attempt at this explanation there will, I think, be found strong illustration of the value of unbelief. Christianity in practice may be gathered from its more ancient forms, represented by the Roman Catholic and the Greek Churches, or from the various Churches which have grown up in the last few centuries. Each of these Churches calls itself Christian. Some of them deny the right of the others to use the word Christian. Some Christian Churches treat, or have treated, other Christian Churches as heretics or unbelievers. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants in Great Britain and Ireland have in turn been terribly cruel one to the other; and the ferocious laws of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, enacted by the English Protestants against English and Irish Papists, are a disgrace to civilisation. These penal laws, enduring longest in Ireland, still bear fruit in much of the political mischief and agrarian crime of to-day.

It is only the tolerant indifference of skepticism that, one after the other, has repealed most of the laws directed by the Established Christian Church against Papists and Dissenters, and also against Jews and heretics.

145+ pages - 8¼ x 6¾ softcover

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