Back to Methuselah eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 408 pages of information about Back to Methuselah.
Chaos had come again.  The first effect was exhilarating:  we had the runaway child’s sense of freedom before it gets hungry and lonely and frightened.  In this phase we did not desire our God back again.  We printed the verses in which William Blake, the most religious of our great poets, called the anthropomorphic idol Old Nobodaddy, and gibed at him in terms which the printer had to leave us to guess from his blank spaces.  We had heard the parson droning that God is not mocked; and it was great fun to mock Him to our hearts’ content and not be a penny the worse.  It did not occur to us that Old Nobodaddy, instead of being a ridiculous fiction, might be only an impostor, and that the exposure of this Koepenik Captain of the heavens, far from proving that there was no real captain, rather proved the contrary:  that, in short, Nobodaddy could not have impersonated anybody if there had not been Somebodaddy to impersonate.  We did not see the significance of the fact that on the last occasion on which God had been ’expelled with a pitchfork,’ men so different as Voltaire and Robespierre had said, the one that if God did not exist it would be necessary to invent him, and the other that after an honest attempt to dispense with a Supreme Being in practical politics, some such hypothesis had been found quite indispensable, and could not be replaced by a mere Goddess of Reason.  If these two opinions were quoted at all, they were quoted as jokes at the expense of Nobodaddy.  We were quite sure for the moment that whatever lingering superstition might have daunted these men of the eighteenth century, we Darwinians could do without God, and had made a good riddance of Him.


Now in politics it is much easier to do without God than to do without his viceroys and vicars and lieutenants; and we begin to miss the lieutenants long before we begin to miss their principal.  Roman Catholics do what their confessors advise without troubling God; and Royalists are content to worship the King and ask the policeman.  But God’s trustiest lieutenants often lack official credentials.  They may be professed atheists who are also men of honor and high public spirit.  The old belief that it matters dreadfully to God whether a man thinks himself an atheist or not, and that the extent to which it matters can be stated with exactness as one single damn, was an error:  for the divinity is in the honor and public spirit, not in the mouthed credo or non credo.  The consequences of this error became grave when the fitness of a man for public trust was tested, not by his honor and public spirit, but by asking him whether he believed in Nobodaddy or not.  If he said yes, he was held fit to be a Prime Minister, though, as our ablest Churchman has said, the real implication was that he was either a fool, a bigot, or a liar.  Darwin destroyed this test; but when it was only thoughtlessly dropped,

Project Gutenberg
Back to Methuselah from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook