The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 53
He Used None that have been Refuted
He Used None that have been Refuted.
The combined wisdom and genius of all mankind cannot possibly conceive of an argument against liberty of thought. Neither can they show why any one should be punished, either in this world or another, for acting honestly in accordance with reason; and yet a doctrine with every possible argument against it has been, and still is, believed and defended by the entire orthodox world. Can it be possible that we have been endowed with reason simply that our souls may be caught in its toils and snares, that we may be led by its false and delusive glare out of the narrow path that leads to joy into the broad way of everlasting death? Is it possible that we have been given reason simply that we may through faith ignore its deductions and avoid its conclusions! Ought the sailor to throw away his compass and depend entirely upon the fog? If reason is not to be depended upon in matters of religion—that is to say, in respect of our duties to the Deity—why should it be relied upon in matters respecting the rights of our fellows? Why should we throw away the law given to Moses by God himself, and have the audacity to make some of our own? How dare we drown the thunders of Sinai by calling the ayes and noes in a petty legislature? If reason can determine what is merciful, what is just, the duties of man to man, what more do we want either in time or eternity? Down, for ever down, with any religion that requires upon its ignorant altar its sacrifice of the goddess Reason; that compels her to abdicate for ever the shining throne of the soul, strips from her form the imperial purple, snatches from her hand the sceptre of thought, and makes her the bondwoman of a senseless faith.
If a man should tell you he had the most beautiful painting in the world, and after taking you where it was should insist upon having your eyes shut, you would likely suspect either that he had no painting or that it was some pitiable daub. Should he tell you that he was a most excellent performer on the violin, and yet refused to play unless your cars were stopped, you would think, to say the least of it, that he had an odd way of convincing you of his musical ability. But would his conduct be any more wonderful than that of a religionist who asks that before examining his creed you will have the kindness to throw away your reason? The first gentleman says:—"Keep your eyes shut; my picture will bear everything but being seen." "Keep your ears stopped; my music objects to nothing but being heard." The last says:—"Away with your reason; my religion dreads nothing but being understood."
So far as I am concerned, I most cheerfully admit that most Christians are honest and most ministers sincere. We do not attack them;