Page:Did Charles Bradlaugh die an atheist.djvu/6

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Did Charles Bradlaugh Die an Atheist?

various parts of the country, I have put together in convenient form extracts from Mr. Bradlaugh's own writings, showing his opinions on theology from the time of his earliest advocacy until within a few days of his death. For the last days of all the word of his attendants must suffice.

The earliest explicit statement that I can find in print of his position as an Atheist occurs in the debate held with Mr. John Bowes at Northampton, in March, 1859, when my father was twenty-six years of age, although, of course, he had expressed his views in his lectures at a much earlier period. In the Bowes debate he said:

"He did not deny that there was 'a God', because to deny that which was unknown was as absurd as to affirm it. As an Atheist he denied the God of the Bible, of the Koran, of the Vedas, but he could not deny that of which he had no knowledge."

Five years later Mr. Bradlaugh held a debate with Mr. Thomas Cooper, author of "The Purgatory of Suicides", and he then told his audience:

"I do not stand here to prove that there is no God. If I should undertake to prove such a proposition I should deserve the ill words of the oft-quoted Psalmist applied to those who say there is no God. I do not say there is no God, but I am an Atheist without God. To me the word 'God' conveys no idea, and it is because the word 'God' to me never expressed a clear and definite conception . . . . that I am Atheist. . . . . The word 'God' does not, to my mind, express an eternal, infinite, omnipotent, intelligent, personal conscious being, but is a word without meaning and no effect other than it derives from the passions and prejudices of those who use it."

In June, 1870, in a debate with Mr. Alexander Robertson, he said:

"I am an Atheist, but I do not say there is no God; and until you tell me what you mean by God I am not mad enough to say anything of the kind. So long as the word 'God' represents nothing to me, so long as it is a word that is not the correlative and expression of something clear and distinct, I am not going to tilt against what may be nothing-nowhere. Why should I? If you tell me that by God you mean 'something' which created the universe, which before the act of creation was not; 'something' which has the power of destroying that universe; 'something' which rules