Quotations by Author

Chapman Cohen

I have hitherto followed the lines marked out by the Theist in his attempt to prove that there exists a "mind" behind natural phenomena, and that the universe as we have it is, at least generally, an evidence of a plan designed by this "mind." I have also pointed out that the only datum for such a conclusion is the universe we know. We must take that as a starting point. We can get neither behind it nor beyond it. We cannot start with God and deduce the universe from his existence; we must start with the world as we know it, and deduce God from the world. Prominent among these primitive misunderstandings is the belief that man is surrounded by hosts of mysterious ghostly agencies that are afterwards given human form. These ghostly beings form the raw material from which the gods of the various religions are made, and they flourish best where knowledge is least. Of this there can be no question.... Now it would indeed be strange if primitive man was right on the one thing concerning which exact knowledge is not to be gained, and wrong about all other things on which knowledge has either been, or bids fair to be, won. All civilized peoples reject the world-theories that the savage first formulates. Is it credible that with regard to gods he was at once and unmistakably correct? It is useless saying that we do not accept the gods of the primitive world. In form, no; in essence, yes. The fact before us is that all ideas of gods can be traced to the earliest stages of human history.... [T]here is an unbroken line of descent linking the gods of the most primitive peoples to those of modern man. We reject the world of the savage; but we still, in our churches, mosques, synagogues and temples, perpetuate the theories he built upon that world.