The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1860

Allan Kardec

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A letter that we have received contains the following passage:

“It must be forcibly admitted that the teaching of the spirits is absolutely founded on Christ’s moral and even much more developed than that found in the Gospels, since you show the application of what is sometimes just found as general principles. Regarding the existence of the spirits and their relationship with the human beings, to me it is not cause of any doubt. I would be convinced just by the testimony of the fathers of the Church, if I did not have the proof of my own experience. Hence, I do not raise any objection with that respect. The same cannot be said to certain points of your Doctrine, evidently contrary to the text of the Scriptures. At this point in time I shall limit myself to a single question relative to the first human being. You say that Adam was neither the only one nor the first to have inhabited Earth. In that case one would have to admit that the Bible is mistaken, since the starting point would be controversial. Notice the consequence of all that! I confess that such thought has made me confused. However, since I support the truth before anything else and faith has nothing to gain if based on a mistake, I ask you to kindly provide some clarification that, if your free time allows. And if you can bring peace to my conscience I will duly appreciate it.”

Response

The issue of Adam as the first man and the origin of humanity is not the only one where religious beliefs have to change. There was a time when Earth’s movements seemed so much opposed to the Scriptures that the simple theory served as an excuse to almost all forms of persecution, and yet Joshua did not hinder the Earth from turning by stopping the Sun. Earth turns, despite the anathemas, and today nobody denies that without hurting logic and reason.

By excavating the archives of Earth, Science has acknowledged the timeline for the appearance of the living creatures on Earth’s surface. The observation leaves space to no doubt with respect to the organic species which belong to each period, and that order is in agreement with what is found in the book of Genesis, with the difference that instead of having miraculously left God’s hand in a few hours, the works were carried out always following God’s wishes but according to the forces of the natural laws, in a few million years. Will that diminish God or make God less powerful? Will God’s works be less sublime for not having been instantaneous? No, absolutely not. It would be necessary to have a very petty idea of God in order to not recognize God’s omnipotence in the eternal laws established by God to govern the worlds.

As Moses did, science places human beings at the last moment of creation of the living beings, but Moses places the universal floods in the year 1654 of the world, while Geology tells us that the great cataclysm happened before humans, since there is no trace of human’s presence in the primitive layers of Earth up to that time, or even of other animals of the same category from a physical stand point. Yet, nothing demonstrates that it would be impossible. Several discoveries have already brought doubt about it. It is then possible that at any time there could be certainty about such pre-existence of the human race. It is still to be determined if the geological cataclysm whose traces are found everywhere is the same as Noah’s flood. Well, the law of formation of fossil layers would not allow them to be mixed up since the first one goes back perhaps a hundred thousand years. From the moment when traces of human’s presence are found before the great catastrophe it will then be demonstrated that Adam was not the first man, or that his creation is lost in the darkness of the ages. Against evidence there is no possible argument. The theologians should then accept the fact as done with the movements of Earth and the six periods of creation. In reality the existence of humans before the geological floods is still hypothetical but that is of less importance. Supposing that humans had appeared on Earth for the first time 4,000 years before Christ, and that 1,650 years later the whole human race was destroyed, with the exception of only one person, it means that the inhabitation of Earth can only date from Noah’s time, that is 2,350 years before our time. Now, when the Hebrews immigrated to Egypt in the XVIII century AC they found a well-inhabited country with a very advanced civilization. History proves that India and other regions were also flourishing in those days. Hence it would be necessary that between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries AC, that is, in a period of 600 years, not only the descendants of a single man could have inhabited all known and immense regions of those days, supposing that the others were not, but also that in such a short interval of time, the whole human race could have been elevated from the most absolute ignorance of the primitive state to the highest degree of intellectual development, in opposition to every anthropological laws. On another hand, everything is explained once the pre-existence of humans is accepted; Noah’s flood as a partial catastrophe, confused with the geological cataclysm, and Adam who had lived 6,000 years ago as having populated an uninhabited region. Again, nothing could prevail against the evidence of facts. Thus it would be sensible not to take a position too lightly, against doctrines which sooner or later, and as many others have, may show a lack of reason and then lay blame on those who combat them. Far from losing out, is when religious ideas aggrandize with Science. It is the way of not giving rise to skepticism, by showing a vulnerable side.

What would become of religion if it remained engrained against evidence; if it persisted with the anathema against all who would not accept the text of the Scriptures? The result of that would be the impossibility to be a Catholic without believing in the movement of the Sun, in the six days of creation and 6,000 years of Earth. One can only wonder about what would be the remaining number of Catholics these days. Will you also proscribe those who do not take the letter of the text regarding the allegory of the tree and its fruit, Adam’s rib, the serpent, etc.? Religion shall always be strong by marching shoulder to shoulder with Science, for it shall be connected to the enlightened layer of the population. That is the only way of denying the prejudice of superficial people that makes religion to be considered an antagonist of progress. If at any time – should God disallow that – religion would repel the evidence of facts and would then send serious people away, provoking a schism, since nothing can prevail against evidence.

Therefore the high Theology, which counts on the support of knowledgeable people, admits reasonable interpretation to several controversial points. It is only regrettable the fact that those interpretations are reserved to the privileged, continuing to teach by the book in schools. The result is that those books initially accepted by the children, are later repelled when they arrive at the age of reason. Since they don’t have anything else for compensation, they just reject everything, adding up to the number of absolute skepticism. Much to the contrary, you must give children only what reason can admit later, and the developing reason will only strengthen that on the pre-established foundations. We believe that we do a real service to the true interest of religion by speaking like that. Religion shall always be respected if it is in agreement with reality and when not turned into allegories whose truthfulness cannot be accepted by common sense.

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