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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 1

The Cat Let out of the Bag

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The Cat Let out of the Bag.

He who will not reason is a bigot,
He who cannot is a fool,
And he who dares not is a slave.

Sir William Drummond.

Now as bigots, fools, and slaves are so scarce in these days, I need have no fear of this book falling into such hands. The only thing that I see any fear about is, that some of my readers may be at a loss for words to express their so-called christian love for me.

Now Christianity is either a great fact or a great lie, and not so much as a shadow of a doubt crossed my mind as to the truth of the Christian religion, till after my thirtieth year. But that is easily accounted for; my parents being very religious, myself of a religious disposition—why! as a matter of course, I sucked in all the ridiculous nonsense, impossibilities, wicked and obscene stories, which go to make up this so-called Word of God, just as kindly as I did my mother's milk In fact, the rot that was taught me became as much a part of my nature as the food that I eat.

Well, as time passed on, the day came when I was to leave my home and country; and well I remember, even unto this day, my mother telling me that although my stock of money was small, yet I was rich, as I possessed that which money could not purchase, namely, the fear of God and the love of Christ which I had in my heart. It was a fact my stock of money was rather small, but treasures of another kind I had in abundance. For instance, my Bible I valued more than all my luggage; again I had all the collects in the prayer-book off by heart. Psalms I could sing like the son of a clergyman. Verses bearing upon the love and blood of Christ, I could repeat by the chain. Horrible stories of infidels I could tell by the score, which I had read in religious books, or heard told from the pulpit.

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I had also been taught a great deal concerning God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. For instance, I had been taught that God the Father was one, and that God the Son was one, which made two ones, but did not make two; and that God the Holy Ghost was another one, but these three ones did not make three, as one would suppose. As it was well-known and understood by the faithful that these three were only one, I understood it all (of course) as I was one of the faithful.

Now the discovery I made was in this wise: on my arrival in Brazil in 1860, from the United States I became acquainted with an English engineer who then held an appointment under the Brazilian Government. This gentleman was keeping bachelor's hall, and invited me to join with him, I gladly accepted the invitation, as I was very soon to take an appointment under the same government, and being a stranger to the ways of the people and unacquainted with their language nothing could have suited me better.

In the evening my friend invited me to take a walk with him; I declined with thanks, as I preferred to remain by myself and read the Bible. In fact, up to this time of my life, about ninety per cent, of my thoughts had been about religion. On the evening of the third day, the rain coming down in torrents prevented my friend from leaving the house. He therefore asked me to take a hand at cards. I was at the time reading the Bible. I replied that I never played cards nor looked upon them but as the books of the Devil, invented to deter people from reading the Word of God.

My friend said: "How long is it since you took to reading the Bible?"

"Ever since I was taught to read," said I.

"Which of the two stories of the creation given in the Bible do you believe?" asked my friend.

"There is only one account of the creation given in the Bible," said I.

"Is it possible," said my friend, "that you have been reading that Book for the last twenty years and have not noticed that two different accounts of the creation are given, and which contradict each other in almost every line?"

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Now, when I heard my friend say the Bible contradicted itself, I felt terribly cut up. I no longer felt safe in the house. A man who did not believe in the Bible was no company for me. A man who did not believe in the Word of God was to me a monster, capable of committing any crime.

For instance, as soon as I knew my friend did not believe in the Bible, I felt certain that he would not hesitate to take my life in the night. These thoughts, unjust as I now know them to have been, were the natural outcome of what I had read in religious works, and from what I had been taught from the pulpit. I had heard it stated in the pulpit that he who did not believe in the Word of God was the greatest monster on earth—was one who had not a grain of anything human in his whole composition. Therefore, to be in such company was to me like being in the company of the Devil himself.

It happened that the rain which had prevented my friend from leaving the house, had no such effect upon me, so I thought I would leave at once feeling sure the Devil was there. I told my friend that it was impossible for the Word of God to contradict itself.

"I know nothing about a Word of God," said my friend, "but I know the Book called the Bible contradicts itself a hundred times over. Will you be so kind as to read the twentieth and twenty-first verses of the first chapter of Genesis?"

"With pleasure," said I, and I at once uttered a prayer to Almighty God that the reading of His holy Word might break the stony heart of this child of the Devil. I then read Genesis i., 20, 21.

"And God said, let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven, and God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good."

My friend said, "Do not those two verses tell us that the animal kingdom was made from the waters?"

"Yes," said I, "but I see no contradiction."

"To see that you must read the nineteenth verse of the second chapter," said my friend.

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I then read Genesis ii., 19:—"And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them; and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof."

As soon as my eyes rested on the words, "and out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air," the shock that I experienced, the awful change I felt, could not have been greater or more sudden had I been shot.

"Is that not a contradiction?" asked my friend; but I could make no answer, as my state of bewilderment was as uncontrollable as an earthquake.

My friend then asked me to read the twenty-seventh verse of the first chapter of Genesis and the fifth verse of the second chapter. I then read Genesis i., 27. "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them." Also Genesis ii., 5:—"And every plant of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground."

"Now is it not both absurd and contradictory to be told that a man was made as we are told he was in this twenty-seventh verse, and then immediately after to be told that there is no man in existence?" asked my friend.

I made no answer, as I felt the scales which had been planted over my eyes when a child, the roots of which had gone down such a terrible depth, were beginning to give way, and light had begun to dawn.

Then my friend said, "It is very evident to me that you were always turned out to grass on the orthodox side of the hedge; suppose you take a feed on the other side": and at the same time he gave me a book, the contents of which I knew nothing about.

But no sooner had I began to read than I became deeply absorbed with the good sense and self-evident remarks of the writer.

To my surprise and astonishment I saw the Bible did page 7 contradict itself just as stated in this book, as I referred to the passages quoted by the author.

At this time my bladder of faith, which had just been pricked by what ray friend had pointed out to me, was flying off at a tangent and at a velocity, that had all the clergy who ever subscribed to the thirty-nine articles been there with the Bishop of Canterbury to help them, all their faith and animal power combined would have been as naught in checking the bladder from becoming empty.

The stench from the cat which my friend's book let out of the bag was such that it was impossible not to feel disgusted.

Now after I had been reading some considerable time, I saw the name of Thomas Paine in the book. I could not believe 'till after I had asked my friend some questions that the book had been written by Tom Paine, the so-called infidel, because I had always been given to understand that his book was a tissue of abominable lies. But as I had always been given to understand everything from the orthodox side of the hedge (as my friend said), why it was quite in keeping with the other lies which had been taught me.

When I discovered that Mr. Paine's book was as far from being what the clergy and religious writers represented, and they had been my teachers, as it was possible for falsehood to make it, I could come to only one conclusion, which was, that they (the clergy and writers) were either entirely ignorant as to the contents of the book or were guilty of wilfully misrepresenting it. Though I can vouch that my parents knew nothing about this gross misrepresentation of Paine, that is more than I can do for the clergy.

As soon as I could fully realize the discovery I had made, if ever a man felt ashamed of himself, if ever a man felt conquered, if ever a man felt that he had been terribly deceived, if ever a man felt himself injured—I was that man.

I sprang to my feet and said to my friend, "What a contemptible thing I must have appeared to you, seeing that I was such a fool as to know no better than waste my time in reading a mass of horrible stories which are to be found in the Bible, where we are told of all women that were found with child being page 8 ript up, and of daughters making their father drunk and then getting into bed with him?"

"It is impossible," said I, "that the injury which I feel the church has done me can ever be redeemed. How was it that I did not see the absurdity of calling the Bible the word of an all wise and good God."

"I will tell you," said my friend, "you never had the use of your reason when thinking or reading upon that subject. Where there is reason, there is no religion; and where there is religion, there is no reason. All forms of religion are neither more nor less than superstition founded upon ignorance."

The first story of the creation given in this so-called Word of God begins at the first verse of the first chapter of Genesis and breaks off at the third verse of the second chapter.

The second story begins at the fourth verse of the second chapter.

According to the first story, everything was made before the man, but according to the second story the man was the first thing that was made—or, in other words, according to the first chapter the man was made last; while according to the second chapter the man was made first.

The first story distinctly tells us that all and every fruit was given to man for food; while the second story just as distinctly tells us it was not.

The first story tells us that the whole earth was given to man.

The second story tells us that only a garden was given him.

The first story tells us the man was blessed.

The second story tells us the man was cursed.

In the second chapter and seventh verse we are told the Lord God made a man; the next verse tells us the Lord God put the man in a garden; the eighteenth verse tells us the Lord God said it was not good for the man to be alone, and in consequence a woman was made to keep him company.

Now, the reason given for making the woman is not very flattering to the ladies, I must confess, so no doubt they will be glad to learn that the second verse of the fifth chapter places page 9 them on a par with the man, since we are told as plain as language can speak, that the man and woman were made at the same time—Genesis v., 2 says: "Male and female created He them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created."

Now, I wish it to be distinctly understood that I am not finding fault with the religion of any person in existence, as I am not supposed to know anything about other people's religion. It is none of my business to know. I shall do no more than state what was once my religion, what I was taught, and what the Bible says, the Book I was told to read.

Should it happen that others have been taught the same as I was, that is their business not mine.