Chapman Cohen QuotesChapman Cohen was an English freethinker, atheist, and secularist writer and lecturer.
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.
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…. There 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.
The devil and God are components of a Siamese twin. Neither has any existence apart from the other. In denying the existence of the one, Christians have helped to kill the other. If there need to be no fear of hell, people may well ask what is the attraction of heaven? Gods and devils were born together. Gods and devils will die together.
But there are still many who continue to marvel at the wisdom of God in so planning the universe that big rivers run by great towns, and that death comes at the end of life instead of in the middle of it. Divest pleas … of their semi-philosophic jargon, reduce his illustrations to homely similes, and he is marvelling at the wisdom of God who so planned things that the two extremities of a piece of wood should come at the ends instead of in the middle.
The belief in God is not therefore based on the perception of design in nature. Belief in design in nature is based upon the belief in God. Things are as they are whether there is a God or not. Logically, to believe in design one must start with God. He, or it, is not a conclusion but a datum. You may begin by assuming a creator, and then say he did this or that; but you cannot logically say that because certain things exist, therefore there is a God who made them. God is an assumption, not a conclusion. And it is an assumption that explains nothing.