“GOING TO AND FRO IN THE EARTH”
[Lucifer, Vol. V, No. 28, December, 1889, pp. 349-350]
[After some rather extensive quotes from current newspapers and missionary organs, H.P.B. quotes also a passage from the Fire-Brand of the American Free Methodist Church. A very materialistic view is presented with regard to God and the manner in which He is alleged to supply food to his workers. In this connection, H.P.B. asks the question:]
THE CATECHISM OF SCIENCE
Going to and fro in the earth, the adversary came across a relic of Paul Bert, the vivisector. He was a practical man it seems; who having succeeded in his praiseworthy efforts to “exile the god” of theology from the schools, tribunals, burial grounds and hospitals of France, proceeded to replace the old by new primers; hence his “Civil Catechisms,” for the use of the future citizens of the great Republic. He wrote himself a Manual of Civic Ethics, and invited others to do the same. His appeal resulted in the creation of a model
library of Primers full of civic morality and scientific revelations. We choose a fragment out of the Catéchisme Laïque (of 1883), as a sample of the great truths in them (revealed to, and by, Science).
QUESTION. What is God—ANSWER. “I do not know.”
Q. Who created the Universe?—A. “I do not know. ”
Q. Whence mankind? Whither does it tend?—A. “I do not know. ”
Q. What have we to expect after death?—A. “I do not know. ”
Q. When and how has man appeared on earth?—A. “I do not know. ”
Q. Do not you feel ashamed of your ignorance?—A. “No shame to be ignorant of that which no one ever knew.”
Q. If you deny all the truths of alleged religion, what are the truths that you do accept?—A. “I believe in the emancipation of mankind through natural science; I believe in the harmony created by the enactment of all our duties; I believe in the regeneration of my country with the help of democracy; I believe in the conquering genius of our nation which ever was and will be the bearer and promoter of light and freedom.”
This is followed by the teaching of other truths of the natural religion according to the last word of natural science. Zoological evolution is explained. The descent of the bird from the lizard is taught as follows:—The lizard, we are told, was consumed with gigantic ambition; it wanted to become a bird, and fly sunwards; this was its idée fixe. The dreams and aspirations of that flat-headed quadruped reptile were so decided and intense, its will so strong, that obedient nature had to submit and act accordingly. (sic).
Q. Obedient to whom, or what? What is it nature had to submit to?—A. “To the eternal right, the law of evolutionary life, diffused throughout the universe in such quantity that it overflows every spot of it, ever absorbed and ever renewed. ”
Q. Go on!—A. “I say, that once that the taste for evolution had been developed in the lizard, nature had to undertake the duty of transforming it into a bird. The lizard felt one day the appearance of feathers on its scaly back, and standing on its hind legs, proceeded to move its four paws, rhythmically which it did until these gradually changed into wings.”
It is interesting to note that the mere uninterrupted action of intense will power and desire, is regarded by Science as a magic agent calculated to perform that which the occultist call phenomena through Kriyaœakti (“creative will”) which transforms one object into another, and even created men out of material on hand, in days of the pre-Adamic mankind. Thus one point is gained. But had these Catéchismes Laïques prevailed and become popular, what kind of a race would Frenchmen have become, brought up in the sole faith in the “principles of lizard evolution” bereft of even an inkling of metaphysics?
A very curious study is that of Chiromancy, and one that may well be looked into by the biologist. It is known that at Paris the most infallible way of registering criminals has been by taking the impress of the fingertips. People can change their faces, but their hands never. The shape of the hand, as a whole, undoubtedly shows character and training. To be sure of this, it suffices to set side by side the hand of the artist, the man of administrative ability, and the navvy. Contrast the fingertips of the weaver, the watchmaker, the collier. The relative lengths of palm and fingers are also said to show character, the passional and physical nature showing itself in the undivided part of the hand, the intellectual and psychical in the fingers. The thumb, again, is significant, showing in shape and length the balance of the character—“a capable thumb,” as a novelist said, describing a clever woman. And then the lines: fewer and simpler in the more direct and simple characters, numerous and complex in the more many-sided and sensitive natures. If any of our readers care to look into this queer byway of speculation, they will find Mrs. Louise Cotton, 43, Abington Villas, Kensington, W., a very intelligent expounder of the subject.