Page:The Necessity of Atheism (Brooks).djvu/51
KORAN AND OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS
and commanded by the Old Testament. The hygienic explanation of an alimentary prohibition as still insisted upon by the rabbis is entirely erroneous and marks the expounder of such an explanation as one who is entirely ignorant of the evolution of religious beliefs. The entire matter is well stated in one sentence by Reinach, "Nothing can be more absurd, generally speaking, than to explain the religious laws and practices of the remote past by considerations based on modern science."
The Martian is able to trace some curious customs that were exhibited by the ancient Hebrews as well as most other ancient peoples, and which have persisted to this day. The customs remain the same, the meanings have become lost in the blind adherence to custom. It is known that the old Jewish mourning customs originated with, the desire for protection from the liberated spirit of the deceased. The loud cries uttered by the mourners were thought to frighten away the spirits. The change of dress, the covering of the head with ashes, and the shaving of the hair of the mourners were done with the purpose of making themselves unrecognizable to the spirits. Hence, the custom still prevails of wearing, the mourning veil. The covering of mirrors when death occurs in the household may well be an attempt to prevent the spirit from lingering in the vicinity. Similarly, even today, the orthodox Jew, in case of grave illness in his family, changes the given name of the sufferer. To confuse the evil spirit causing the disease?Further survivals of totemism as found in the Old Testament are illustrated by the worship of the bull and the serpent. Portable gilded images of bulls were consecrated and Hosea protested against the worship of the bull in the kingdom of Israel (Hos. VIII, 5; X, 5).