Did Charles Bradlaugh Die an Atheist?
existence is sufficient for all phænomena, and I find it difficult to appreciate the position of those who invent a second existence or plural existences, in lieu of explanation, in order to account for imperfectly comprehended phænomena. I can understand the habit of using the words 'God', 'spirit', 'soul', by those whose training has excluded them from submitting these words to close examination and analysis. I know that the habit-use of particular words involves firm acceptance without criticism, and assertion without evidence, of propositions which appear to me utterly unsustainable. The word 'witch' in the mouth of some Somersetshire peasant, or 'obi' spoken by a negro, would, even to-day, carry with it in each case the affirmation of a mass of superstition. 'Devil' and 'hell' have voluminous meaning in the mouth of Mr. Spurgeon. All this I can appreciate, and I can even try to reconcile decent sincerity with Mr. Booth's parade—as 'promoted from Claxton to Glory'—of his dead wife's body to all comers at so much per head. My Monism excludes the probability alike of 'glory', 'hell', 'devil', 'obi', 'witch', as representing the supernatural. Reacceptance of my Sunday school standpoint seems to me wholly impossible. I cannot understand the healthy mind—which has once analysed, and after analysis rejected, the theologic implications of these words—readopting dualism or pluralism. I, of course, recognise the possible domination of a weak mind, or of a strained physique, by the head of a great Church, by a half-insane fakir, by an Ignatius Loyola, by a Mahdi, by a Joseph Smith, and I further recognise that whilst a mind is not free from dualism or pluralism there are very wide possibilities for conjectural imaginings. It is also certain that men of strong mind and marked character have sometimes fallen easy victims to gracefully assisted illusions. At present, so far as I am concerned, the closest re-examination of my atheistic position does not enable me to detect any weak link in the chain, and I cannot conceive the possibility of my remaining sane and yet joining any of the many conflicting teachers of dualism."
In the month of January 1891, that is to say, the month in which he died, Mr. Bradlaugh contributed two dialogues on "Jesus" to the National Reformer. They conclude in this way:
"Orthodox Christian.—When you die as a believer, you will, if wrong, be no worse off, whilst if you disbelieve, you will be damned.
"Sceptic.—Adopting that line of argument, it is safer to believe all religions than to believe none.
"O. C.—It is quite impossible to believe all religions to be true.