Wednesday, December 28, 2016

On prizing the Moral Sense................

     During the Six Days, God created man and the other animals.
     He made a man and a woman and placed them in a pleasant garden, along with the other creatures.  They all lived together there in harmony and contentment and blooming youth for some time;  then trouble came.  God had warned the man and the woman that they must not eat of the fruit of a certain tree.  And he added a most strange remark;  he said that if they ate of it they should surely die.  Strange, for the reason that inasmuch as they had never seen a sample of death they could not possibly know what he meant.  Neither would he nor any other god have been able to make those ignorant children understand what was meant, without furnishing a sample.  The mere word could have no meaning for them, any more that it would have for an infant of days.
     Presently a serpent sought them out privately, and came to them walking upright, which was the way of serpents in those days.  The serpent said the forbidden fruit would store their vacant minds with knowledge.  So they ate it, which was quite natural, for man is so made that he eagerly wants to know; whereas the priest, like God, whose imitator and representative he is,  has made it his business from the beginning to keep him from knowing any useful thing.
     Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, and at once a great light streamed into their dim heads.  They had acquired knowledge.  What knowledge - useful knowledge?  No - merely knowledge that there was such a thing as good, and such a thing as evil, and how to do evil.  They couldn't do it before.  Therefore all their acts up to this point had been without stain, without  blame, without offense.
     But now they could do evil - and suffer for it;  now they had acquired what the the Church calls an invaluable possession, the Moral Sense;  that sense which differentiates man from beast and sets him above the beast.  Instead of below the beast - where one would suppose his proper place would be, since he is always foul-minded and guilty and the beast is always clean-minded and innocent.  It is like valuing a watch that must go wrong, above a watch that can't.
     The Church still prizes the Moral Sense as man's noblest asset today, although the Church knows God had a distinctly poor opinion of it and did what he could in his clumsy way to keep his happy Children of the Garden from acquiring it.

-Mark Twain, as excerpted from Letters from the Earth

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