"More than machinery, we need humanity."
Symbols and myths, mysteries, in a word, were the essential formulas by which antiquity hid the truth. Sacred veils, so impenetrable that they reached us without there having been a hand strong enough to tear them; so deep, so secret, that it would have taken Moses’s rod to make them spring forth. – Huzar
Please note: this is the third part of the English translation of La Fin du Monde par la Science, it is advisable to start with part one.
Translator’s Introduction to “Book Two – The Past”
Throughout La Fin du Monde par la Science an idea that Eugene Huzar repeats time and again is his view that “what has been will be, because the past for us is only the mirror of the future.” Thus, to predict the things to come, Huzar considers the things that have come before. And the past occurrences that Huzar finds particularly worth dwelling upon are the past civilizations that have collapsed into oblivion. Here Huzar is not so much interested in the “historic past” that has left us with records, but with an even more distant past that he believes reaches us today primarily through myths and religions with roots in antiquity. Or, to put it another way, Huzar is not interested in dwelling on the collapse of Rome, he’s interested in the destruction of Babel; he is not interested in the downfall of a particular monarch, he’s interested in the fall of Adam.
Yes, that Adam. The one from the garden.
In “Book Two – The Past,” Huzar engages with stories that are familiar from myths and religions, but sees in them not simply efforts to impart ethical guidance but warnings couched in history. These are tales that, in Huzar’s estimation, were originally developed with all of their mythical accoutrements by the survivors of those long past high civilization who were trying to pass on their tales to the ages. So, the Garden of Eden in Huzar’s telling represents not a divine paradise of plenty, but a former highly advanced civilization. And humanity was not exiled from this Garden for literally tasting the forbidden fruit, but rather saw its civilization collapse as a result of unthinkingly grasping after nature’s secrets. For Huzar, Adam and Eve’s exile from the Garden represents that their civilization overreached in its scientifically enhanced attempt to control nature and as a result their civilization collapsed. This is certainly a fairly unorthodox reading of the Book of Genesis, but Huzar bolsters his interpretive claims by looking at other myths and religions that feature similar tales of figures pursuing science and knowledge and being cast down as a result, particularly: the legend of Prometheus, and the figure of Brahma from Hinduism. The similarities between these religious and mythical tales, for Huzar, can be explained as revealing that they are all the warnings left behind by an earlier civilization that was destroyed by its own thoughtless pursuit of knowledge. The fate that befell Adam, Prometheus, and Brahma – for Huzar – is the fate that awaits civilization again.
And though, in “Book One,” Huzar admitted that he doubted his interpretation would be heeded, he nevertheless felt “If you could understand, like me, the power that man has acquired in only the last hundred years, you would be frightened by it, and my predictions would not seem exaggerated to you.” Published in 1855, Huzar’s warning seems not to have been overly convincing. But over a hundred and fifty years later – with the IPCC warning that civilization is swiftly running out of time to take action on climate change – the idea that humanity’s willful pursuit of scientific knowledge, with little concern for the consequences, might lead to the fall of civilization, seems harder to completely deny.
Granted, the analysis that Huzar puts forth in “Book Two – The Past” is still likely to raise a few eyebrows. Especially as it invites the question “if there had been these highly advanced civilization’s five thousand years ago, how is it that all they left behind was a handful of stories? Where are the ruins? Why haven’t archeologists found convincing evidence of their metropolises?” Huzar does not really offer an answer to those questions, except to say that the fact that these stories are still known to us five thousand years later is a sign that they speak to some distant memory buried in our collective unconscious. Though, to make matters more difficult, it is also likely (and must be acknowledged) that religious individuals and others who are well-versed in mythology, may take issue with some of Huzar’s interpretations of these tales. Huzar was not a scholar of religions, and he recognized this, apologizing that it fell to “a hand as weak as ours” to provide this analysis. And Huzar draws heavily, as can be seen in the following text, on the work of other scholars for presenting his summaries of various religions and mythologies. Much of “Book Two” involves Huzar retelling these stories, but he does so in such a way that develops a reading that is quite unsettling.
If Huzar is correct that “what has been will be, because the past for us is only the mirror of the future,” than as “Book Two – the Past” makes clear…we should be very concerned.
The original sin – Revolt and Fall of the Angels – Revolt and Fall of Man
In order for there to be a fall, there must first have been greatness; these ideas are correlative, they relate to themselves in terms of cause and effect.
Thus it is said: the fall of the Roman Empire, of the Greek Empire; the fall of the Empires of Assyria, Persia, Nineveh, Macedonia.
These falls were all great as the fallen empires were all great.
The ruins are directly due to the collapsing building.
It was therefore necessary that the power of humanity, personified in Adam, must have been very great and so too its fall, since 5,000 years later, the memory still lives in our midst; since we find, after fifty centuries, the world half buried under the ruins of the past; since fate obsesses us on all sides with disease, pain, and death.
Suppose that civilization came to appear, and that by abstraction you were transported to the midst of the forests of Germany or among those theocratic peoples of Egypt and India; oh! then, you would obviously feel what must have been the last catastrophe, the fatal consequences of original sin. Having seen the glowing light of our century, you would not be able to stand to bear the thick darkness of antiquity or the Middle Ages; civilized man, you could no longer bear the barbarism of the old ages, for you would always remember your past greatness, and your fall would be frightful to you.
Thus, humanity has carried with it, for centuries, the conscious, intuitive, latent memory of its past greatness and its decay: remember that tradition has been transmitted to us from age to age.
Several doctrines have been transmitted regarding original sin and the fall of the first man.
“The priests, Jean Reynaud tells us, accept the mysteries without understanding them; the philosophers close their eyes so as not to see them and reject their existence. The eighteenth century sees the religious monuments of its fathers as the games of their imbecility and their madness.
“The symbols are the gauzes that humanity uses to hide religious truths: if there was nothing behind them, how would they reach us after five thousand years? How can humanity, which has rejected sorcery, refuse to reject all humanity, which cannot be reconciled with the justice of God?”
We completely agree with M. Reynaud’s opinion; however, we reject with all our strength these light words: “How can humanity, which has rejected sorcery, refuse to reject all of humanity, which cannot be reconciled with the justice of God,” for the magical phenomena which have filled antiquity and the Middle Ages, cannot be pure fictions of our mind, since we see in our day the same phenomena being renewed, and men like Gasparin, de Mirville, Moussay, Chevreul, Carpenter, Faraday, try to explain them: to be sure, one seeks to explain only what is, and if the phenomena of magnetic fluids did not exist, all these authors, these conscientious observers, would not have sought to explain them (I).
The emerging movements, according to Babinet;
The suggestions, according to Carpenter;
The voluntary fluids, according to Gasparin;
The spirits, according to de Mirville;
All these causes would be absurd, why explain phenomena that do not exist? It is necessary, either that these phenomena exist, or that these authors are mad. As for us, we believe that they are due to a psychological-physiological force, only they are still in the state of facts; one day a man will formulate all these facts and make a science, as Lavoisier has brought chemistry out of alchemy, which, after physics, is the first science of our century. That being said, let us return to our subject.
(I) He who, apart from pure mathematics, pronounces the word impossible, lacks prudence (Arago, Annuaire 1853)
Several opinions have been expressed about original sin and the fall of man.
The first, skeptical, denies original sin and its consequences: the fall of man and of nature. For these philosophers, the history and tradition of all peoples, all theogonies of antiquity, which tell us of the great human drama, are, so to speak, as not avenues. Adam, the forbidden fruit, none of this ever existed. It is actually easier to deny it than it is to try to explain it. These philosophers will also deny the inspiration of Joan of Arc, saving one day the fatherland. Because how to explain this great historical fact? By pressing this philosophy a little one arrives at absolute nihilism, because nothing can be explained only in a relative way in this world.
Nihilism, thus, finds its condemnation in itself, and good public sense has done justice to it for a long time.
A second opinion is that which is supported by theologians, it consists of saying in a formalistic manner, with the biblical text in hand: that the original sin comes from the disobedience of the first man, whose name was Adam; from his horrible fault of having eaten the fruit of a tree in Eden; these theologians, by this Judaic explanation, stick to the word and not the spirit of Genesis.
When, as a child, you asked your grandmother to explain the mysteries of your birth, she replied that she had found you under a plant; you were happy with this explanation then, but would you be satisfied today? So this theory of forbidden fruit and original sin has fallen under the smile of reason; like your grandmother’s explanation, no one believes it today.
The third opinion, more rational than the other two and therefore more philosophical, deserves a little more attention. It attaches less to the words of Genesis, than to their meaning and spirit, it seeks more what is meant than what is said; it understands that the forbidden fruit is only a myth, an enigma, a formula whose purpose is to free the unknown and explain the meaning.
Man and woman, according to this doctrine, placed in Eden, lived there
spiritually in perfect bliss and innocence; but the serpent, according to this view, a symbol of the carnal passions, of all defilement, of all vice, of all corruption, blew upon them the sensual desires, and the man and the woman listened to the voice of the flesh. Then their eyes were opened, they saw their nakedness and hid themselves. God, angered by their disobedience, chased them from paradise, where they had enjoyed immortality, and threw them out onto the earth where they and their descendants were subjected to all the miseries of this world.
This, in our opinion, is a singular way of explaining the fall of man and the fate that has weighed on us for five thousand years. It revolts against our idea of the justice of God. It cannot be understood, in fact, that God, who had given man the organization necessary for the reproduction of his species, punished him for having succumbed to the solicitations of his nature.
Moreover, how to reconcile divine justice, with this condemnation of the whole of humanity for the fault of the first man.
Responsibility in the eyes of reason must be personal, and I cannot understand why, in good justice, that me and my children, after five thousand years, still bear the weight of a fault that we have neither committed nor could have prevented. Any penal sanction presupposes a responsibility, and I cannot understand a punishment, where there is neither fault nor responsibility on my part.
That theology explains as it does this anomaly of divine justice, will never succeed in making me understand how God, who is justice itself, can, even in the farthest generations, punish the whole of humanity for the fault of one man!
What would you say about a human law that would direct its anger, even in the most remote generations, at children for the fault of their fathers? Would it not seem to you barbarous and atrocious, and should the legislator of such a law not incur the wrath of God, after being cursed by all of mankind!
How, moreover, do you reconcile your interpretation of original sin with this verse from the bible: “God blessed them and he said to them: be fruitful and multiply.” How dare you thus put the immutable in contradiction with himself? How do you explain that God strikes man for the act of reproduction, after having ordered him to do just that a few verses before.
We will not refute this doctrine any longer, and we will relate to the conscience and reason of every good man having faith in God and his justice, to put it to nothing. There is not, moreover, a man of sense and of heart, in our epoch, who would wish to be the defender of such a doctrine; and if, by impossibility, it is not uprooted entirely nowadays, time and science alone will be enough to wipe it out one day.
Another opinion, more specious than the preceding ones, was issued in 1854; we owe it to one of the most distinguished writers of our epoch, to Jean Reynaud.
We will study it more attentively than all the others because it is, so to speak, the echo of modern rationalism.
Here is this doctrine:
“There are philosophers, says the author, who imagined that evil was born on the earth with the closing of fields. But it is evident that it was born the day a man deprived another man of the fruit that he had the merit to pick. On that day, selfishness, at the urging of the brutal appetite, stifling the conscience, led man backwards, and, to the shame of nature, raised the animal. Sin against the neighbor, against oneself, against God, all appeared at the same time.” (Heaven and Earth, 204)
What! Man will lose his immortality at once, he will be driven out of the earthly paradise, he will win his bread by the sweat of his brow, woman will give birth with pain, the earth will be cursed; living beings will be revealed to each other by virtue of a fatal law of the conservation of the species; pain, diseases, physical and moral scourges will overwhelm the entirety of nature; death will be the law of universal palingenesis; volcanoes, plague, deluge, war, these planetary endemics will strike men and things for five thousand years and more, all because a man will have taken his neighbor’s field or perhaps an apple.
Surely, if the smallest causes can produce the greatest effects, than this is an interpretation that must satisfy the most demanding. Although we are more causalistic than any other, however, we do not push the spirit of our system as far as this author, especially when we find in the history of religions and cosmogonies a much more terrible, much more conclusive cause, the pride of science and reason.
Of these two things, it must be one: that M. Reynaud does not comprehend all the fatal consequences which flow naturally from the fall of man and original sin, because then he would not assign such a small origin to such a great disaster; or, if he admits, like us, a universal catastrophe, he must recognize that the cause of such a cataclysm is much greater than that which he gives us. So his interpretation is wrong.
It is, moreover, based neither on the Bible nor on any religion of antiquity; I challenge to find in all theogonies a single argument to support this system, which is purely subjective. We cannot, moreover, understand how after writing these words that we have mentioned above (philosophers have imagined that evil was born on the earth with the closing of fields), and, after having proved the little specific value of this doctrine, he then comes to conclude that: “evil was born in this world the day a man deprived another man of the fruit that he had the merit to pick.”
Both interpretations are valid; one and the other are equally serious. I would even say that the former has more weight than the second, because it has a character of universality that is not found in the other.
We believe that we have refuted in a rational manner the doctrine of nihilism, that is, of those who do not believe in original sin, nor in the fall of man, nor in history, nor in tradition;
The Judaic and formalistic doctrine that explains words with words, without interpretation or comment, without wanting to lift the veil that envelops the mystery;
The doctrine of the generation, which makes the forbidden fruit consist in the satisfaction of carnal pleasures;
The rational doctrine of Reynaud, that the fall of man arrived on the day that one man despoiled another.
We have demonstrated that all of these doctrines had only one defect, that none was capable of explaining the unknown; it is that they left man without a solution either to his past, his present, or his future; it is that they did not explain the real cause of the fall nor its disastrous consequences.
Why? It is because no one understood either the greatness of the cause or the greatness of the effect.
Could it be otherwise? These philosophers had not been able to seek the truth in history of cosmogonies and theogenies, these great revelations of the past, these great sphinxes of the future. So, the door of the sanctuary remains closed to the eyes of all; the key is lost, it is a question of finding it again.
As for us, we will seek with our weak lights to give men a solution capable of satisfying the demands of reason; we will give out some milestone, we will only indicate the route, or rather we will help the men of genius to find it, persuaded in advance that, once the route has been traced, that the men of another era will venture there in our wake, as it is the only way that leads to the truth.
Symbols and myths, mysteries, in a word, were the essential formulas by which antiquity hid the truth. Sacred veils, so impenetrable that they reached us without there having been a hand strong enough to tear them; so deep, so secret, that it would have taken Moses’s rod to make them spring forth.
To succeed in clearing the unknown, we proceed in the manner of Cuvier, who by way of, induction after induction, the inspection of a tooth, a fossil bone, managed to reconstitute the whole animal and tell us its story five thousand years after its disappearance.
We will thus seek successively to tear apart the mystical and symbolic veils of the religions of antiquity; a bit of the veil of Brahmanism, of the Jewish religion, of Sabianism, of the Egyptian religion; and we will seek to grasp through all these rips some fragments of truth, and with all these fragments the sacred idol, with all these fractions of truth, we will be able to, by synthesis, reconstitute the whole truth.
For, let us know it well, it is the whole and nothing but.
Through this synthesis, once it is completed, you will comprehend, like us, all the greatness and all of the consequences of the fall of man; you will comprehend, like us, the eternal drama of universal palingenesis, which is caused by human pride.
We bitterly regret that such a vast edifice is being restored by a hand as weak as ours; but what gives us a little audacity is that science, which spreads and formulates, never discovers. We could also reply to those who would reproach us for our incapacity to treat this matter, these beautiful words that Daguerre once said to scholars when telling them of the many trials he had to make before achieving his goal.
“If I had been more learned, I would have groped less, but I would not have had the idea.”
May these words always be your act of hope, poor people of science! Faith in yourself, know it well, that is the science of science, the eternal exciter from which the spark springs eternal.
“With faith,” says Christ, “you will carry mountains.”
The plan of the edifice which we seek to reconstruct is purely personal; as for the materials, we will look for them, sometimes in the erudite work of Creuzer, sometimes in dogmatic work (Heaven and Earth, Reynaud), and finally in the different theogonies and cosmogonies.
Sources of universal religion.
Intuition and feeling, along with the subjective idea of cause, are the only sources of all religions. J.J. Rousseau tells us somewhere: “Even if you come to prove to me that God does not exist, I would not feel less in myself than he exists, and nothing could destroy that feeling.” Read Zend, the sacred book of the Persians; the Vedas, the sacred book of Hindus; the Bible, and everywhere you will find man discovering God by the powers of inspiration, intuition and sentiment. And when Dupuis and his school explain the origin of religions by the course of the stars, the flooding of the Nile, and by the other great phenomena of nature, they retreat from the question and at most explain the origin of the cults; they do not notice that this idea of cause, from whence emanates adoration, that this feeling, this invention was latent in the human ego, and that it developed only on the occasion of natural phenomena, similar to this is the idea of time and space that pre-exists in us to the external manifestations that make them develop; what proves this assertion is that the object of the adoration of men changes, develops, and expands as man raises the torch of reason higher. Instead of the lotus, the ibis, and the crocodile, these gods of his childhood, he adores the supreme intelligence that the lotus, the ibis, the crocodile, and the world obey; what had been a cause for him in the past, is today nothing more than a pure effect that he despises. This intuition of the cause rationally explains the progressive march of religions through time.
Therefore, all religions have their profoundest roots in the heart of man and they are constantly changing, rising as humanity advances in age, that is to say, in reason.
After fetishism, pantheism, then paganism, then Christianity
We will go even further, and say, that all the most ancient and most learned religions began by worshiping a personal cause. What God is more personal than the one who says: let there be light, and there is light; that the waters under the sky come together in a single link, and that the arid element appears!
From one end of Genesis to the other, we see the God of Abraham speaking, creating, and commanding the Universe. Genesis, this long conversation between God and man, shows us a creative, orderly and conservative God; so nowhere do the Hebrews turn their adoration to the phenomena of nature.
From one end to the other of the theogony of the Hindus, we find everywhere the adoration of a personal god, of a god cause.
Brahma, the first person of the Trimurti, the revealer of the four books of the divine law, the Vedas, is he not a personal god?
Shiva, the second person of the Trimurti, the second incarnation, whose cult still subsists today, the master of lightning, the judge of the universe, the ancient phallus, symbol of the eternal generation, is he not a personal god?
Vishnu, the third person of the Trimurti, the mediator who is constantly devoting himself to the salvation of the creatures and who repairs the attacks with which a destructive cause incessantly mines the universe, is he not a personal god?
We would likewise prove that the religion of the Magi, and also that of the Egyptians, also had their source in inspiration, intuition, and the idea of cause; these religions worship only personal gods: Ormutz, as the cause of all good; Ahrimann, as the cause of all evil; that in Egypt, Isis, and Osiris are the principles of good, Typhon the principle of evil, and that henceforth the Nile, the Lotus, the Sun, were no longer worshiped for themselves, but as manifestations, as missionaries of the good genius of Osiris.
We were happy, moreover, to meet on such an important subject with the eminent Mr. Creuzer, when he tells us:
“It is, in our opinion, rather the great physical, moral, and intellectual intuitions which are the sources of the explanations of religions, rather than purely topographical, agrarian, astronomical conditions; the root is located much deeper, it is in the human soul.”
We regret, however, the laconism of this language, which states without proving anything. We do not understand how Mr. Creuzer, in a work in six volumes, found only these few lines, drowned in the middle of immense erudition, to explain to us such a great phenomenon. It seems that the solution which he gave should have been the vital crux of the question, the keystone of the edifice, the conclusion of the learned premises put forward by the author; but, as it is thrown into the middle of the story, it looks like those parasites that grow on certain trees by the pure effect of chance, without reason, and without the tree appearing to be aware of it.
If we managed to show you that the human soul, like M. Creuzer said, has discovered God by the sole force of feeling and intuition, we are also going to show that solely by the force of his faculties man has discovered the cause of the catastrophe of man and of nature. It will be in their generality and their universality, which are always the same and vary only in different symbolic forms, that we will study the different myths about original sin and the fall of man. We will find these myths everywhere the same in all religions.
The Revolt and Fall of the Angels – The Revolt and Fall of Man
Man, having conceived God by the sole force of intuition, at the same time also conceived immaterial beings, superior beings, messengers of the gods, clothed with a sovereign enjoyment of the plenitude of their liberty, arbiters of their own destinies and made in the image of God. Human genius supposed that one day these superior intelligences, driven by pride, misguided by their power, revolted against God himself; but the Eternal, angered by their audacity, threw them into the abyss and stripped them of their immortality.
We find this surprising intuition in all the religions of antiquity: Hesiod gives a magnificent description of it in the four ages.
The Medie believed in angels; the Nakas described them in a splendid manner; they are called Ferouers in the Wendidal.
The tradition of Brahmanism speaks of the revolt of spirits, of angels, who like Brahma were blinded by pride, and like him were thrown into the abyss. Whatever may be the tradition, it can explain the true character of morality among Hindus: pride is the cause of evil.
Scripture gives us a glimpse of the epoch during which angels, like us gifted with free will, divided themselves between obedience and rebellion whereupon they fell voluntarily (Ephesians I, 2; Colossians, I, 16).
“What is more resounding, Reynaud writes in his book titled Heaven and Earth, what is more resounding in the history of angels than the story of the fall? And what, at the same time, is more contradictory to the pretended principle of the immutability of their nature? According to the tradition which you profess to adhere to, and which is for us the foundation of the theory of evil, there existed a time during which the higher beings lived in a moral condition quite analogous to our own; during which, having submitted to the temptation, some have succumbed, while others by their perseverance, have deserved to reach a higher condition, which is precisely distinguished from the first by the hope of no longer falling. Thus, as it is formulated in this story, there are two distinct periods: in the first, the understanding of the idea of God is still rather confused, so that the taste of sin can sway the balance; in the second, as a result of the defeat of the bad tendencies, this idea, assumes a sovereign splendor, the grace increases and the creature has a stronger inclination for the good. This is the brilliant lesson that emerges from the epic of Satan, and this lesson is obviously to say: that the story of the angels is basically the same as the story of man (I, 350).”
This is categorical; the story of the angels is at bottom the same as the story of man, according to M. Reynaud. We fully accept this identification of man with the angels, but we completely reject this theory of the fall of man and the angels, for we find it in complete contradiction with the cause assigned by the bible, and with the cause assigned to it by the Naskas and the Wendidal. All these religions tell us that the cause of the fall of the angels was their pride, from having wanted to fight against God himself, from having revolted against him.
Only these traditions explain the true character of morality among all the peoples of antiquity: pride is the cause of evil.
From all the preceding we shall conclude, as for us, that before the historical epoch in which man arrived, by the sole force of his genius, to such a power that he thought he could grip the energies of nature and fight body to body with fate itself.
The world of brutal forces, shaken by this new Samson, collapsed stupidly, fatally upon him and crushed him under its ruins; and it is thus that man, by his boldness and pride, lost his former empire over nature. This is the rational meaning of the myth of revolt and the fall of angels, the myth of revolt and the fall of man.
This is why we find the intuition of the revolt of man against God, the conception of his fall, that of the original sin, of the tree of science, of the forbidden fruit in all the religions of antiquity. We will borrow a large part of our documentation from M. Creuzer.
“The hom, or verb of the Persians, is presented, in the Zend Avesta, at the same time as the master of the word of life, and as the tree of life itself.
The Hindus also had their tree of life; the same is true of the Jews, for whom the tree of science plays so great a part, as well as the tree of life.”
So we see that in Persia, in India, among the Jews, everywhere the same myth, everywhere the tree of science (remember this well (1)).
“Brahma, having spent a hundred years in the contemplation of the essence of beings, created animated beings who were at first pure spirits, then he created man and woman, and, blessing them, he said to them: grow and multiply. But the first man pursuing his own daughter, who sought to escape, at every movement she made to escape the eyes of the man, he took a new head; when he had four, no longer knowing where to take refuge, she flew into the heavens. But Vishnu and Shiva, charged by the Eternal with the distribution of the universe, soon perceived his infidelity, for they had fixed the residences of the gods; angered, they complained of his theft to God; at once the Almighty, angered by such an excess of pride, struck him; indeed, great pride was to draw on man the vengeance of the Most High, and he was thrown from heaven into the depths of the abyss.
Stunned for a long time by this dreadful fall, when the man-god had returned to himself, he scrutinized his conscience, humbled himself under the hand that had struck him; at last the Eternal appeared to him and asked him if he did not know that his name was the avenger of pride: it is, adds the Most High, the only crime that I do not forgive.” (Remember these last words, they are the entire story of man in the past, they will also be his entire story in the future).
(1). We have developed at length, and in an undeniable way, what the tree of science of good and evil was in the book The Tree of Science.
What an extraordinary similarity between the religion of the Hindus and the Jewish religion! Here we see Brahma, like Jehovah, first creating angels, then man, and this man pursuing his daughter, or the secrets of nature, against the will of God. This one tries to escape him; but the man, always more ingenious, manages to seize her wherever she hides. Is this not the image of humanity pursuing its conquest on nature, through all the elements, tearing all the veils of universal harmony; and this anger of Vishnu and Shiva, these principles of water and fire, this anger, I say, against the man who seized their homes, complaining of his robbery to Brahma, is it not nature claiming against the man the conquests he constantly makes on her; and that Brahma angered by so much excessive pride, threw him into the abyss, telling him: that his name was the avenger of pride, and adding that it was the only crime he would not forgive. Is not this the punishment of the sin of pride that we find in all religions and especially in Genesis?
Is it not, in a word, that the original sin and the fall of man as related by the Vedas as the same as it is related in Genesis? Is this not also the story of Prometheus thrown into the abyss for haughtily ravishing the fire of heaven?
So we find ourselves there, as we found it in the fall of the angels, the pride of power and strength, to be the cause of rebellion and the fall of man.
This is the meaning of these myths.
In the Persian religion, we will also find the myth of the fall of man recounted in the same way.
“Achaemenes, says Creuzer, is the hero of traditions and popular songs among the Persians, like Solomon is for the Hebrews; he built Istakhar, the city dug in the rock, still called the throne of Achaemenes. It is said that while digging the foundations of this famous city, he discovered the marvelous vessel called Ischam, filled with the most precious drink and which is at the same time the mirror of the world, the magic mirror and the cup of salvation. He used it to scrutinize the properties of plants, the mysteries of chemistry, and of nature; but soon, pride seized his heart, he wanted to make himself a god, this was for his people and for him a source of misfortune. Zohak, instrument of divine justice, from the west, changed the glow of Iran in a long and dreadful night, for its usurpation lasted no less than a thousand years (312).”
Does not this remind us of the chaining of Satan bound for a thousand years? (Apocalypse, xx.)
This hero, like Solomon, discovers the mysterious vessel which contains the mirror of the world, that is to say, the science which scrutinizes the hidden treasures of nature, discovers the properties of plants and the mysteries of chemistry; who then wishes to make himself god, and whose pride brought about the fall. Is this not always the story of humanity, probing the treasures of nature, seizing them, then becoming a victim of its own science and its own pride?
“The Word Ormutz (Ahura Mazda) was born from the seed of the Eternal, he is named the first of beings, the reason for everything. Ormutz was opposed to Ahrimann, the source and principle of all impurity, of all vice; his fall came not from the Eternal but from himself: and through him darkness was begotten. Death was introduced into the world by Ahrimann, because of the sin of the first man (328).”
What is this sin, except that of Prometheus, of Brahma, of Adam, punished for derobing the secrets of god, of nature, punished in a word for their pride?
On the other hand, we find the sons of Zagara penetrating into the bowels of the earth, attacking Vishnu, the third person of the Hindu trinity, who is hidden there in its depths; but the inflamed god breathes upon them with his terrible breath, and the children of Zagara are reduced to powder.
This is the image of man probing the depths of the laws of matter and finding death in his audacious researches.
“Shiva, who, as we know, was the principle of fire, incarnated to avenge the divinity, he purifies man by punishing him, he breaks down man’s pride when he sees man arrived at his final power.”
“Meschia and Meschiam are, according to the Indians, the ancestors of the human race: in the beginning both were full of innocence and created for heaven. But they let themselves be seduced by Ahrimann, the principle of evil; they tasted the milk of a goat and hurt themselves: so Ahrimann, encouraged by this first success, presented them fruits, they ate them and they lost a hundred beatitudes.”
Do you still not recognize the myth of the forbidden fruit?
“The earth, provided with all the plants, was given to men; but the fallen souls continued their culpable revolt; they scattered disorder over the entire earth; the soiled elements raised their complaints to heaven.”
This is still the story of the revolt of man against God and of man’s audacious attempts.
“In Crita-Yuga, justice begins by reigning on earth; but by the acquisition of science man degenerates.”
What’s more conclusive than these lines! They contain all our theory on original sin, and on the tree of the science of good and evil.
“In the Latium, it was the reign of Saturn that was the golden age, then man
degenerated. This discouraging doctrine embraces all of paganism, it is born with it. The eminent philosophers, Plato himself, bend before it.
“The same ideas take place in the Mazdaism but with a superior theological character. In the first period, the principle of good reigns alone: it is the age of Eden, and the earth belongs to Ahrimann, that is, to evil.
“Even in the Decathir we find the same idea; the principle of decay also appears in the Jewish religion, where Eden is the golden age; but soon the man degenerates by virtue of his own freedom, it is always, as in Asia, the frightful snake which is the cause of the evil.”
Tertullian also tells us about original sin and its transmission from father to son.
According to Origen, all souls were primitively spiritual substances, luminous, but fallen due to their faults.
By their faults, this is always the cause of heavenly vengeance, and this fault, is always the power of pride.
All religions tell us of the fall of man. Hesiod gives us a magnificent picture of this in the four ages.
We know that Hesiod is the great theologian of all mystic antiquity, he is the mirror in which all the religious knowledge of his time is reflected.
Before describing in detail this last and solemn struggle on which the destiny of the world depends, the poet stops again.
“…It remains for him to show us the family of Japetus and Clymene, a couple of Titans older than Cronos and Rheus, the representatives of the human race. Japetus had four sons from Clymene, daughter of the ocean; Atlas, Prometheus, Ménéthnis and Epimetheus; their various fortunes were all equally tragic. Atlas, endures and suffers with courage, having been relegated to the western extremities of the earth, near the Hesperides, he was condemned to support heaven with his head and arms. The proud Mènethuis, victim of his audacity, was thrown into the darkness by the lightning of the great Jupiter. The woman created by this god, and whom the prudent Epimetheus welcomed first, became for him and for all men the source of a thousand evils.
“Finally, Prometheus, the prudent, the foreseeing, the excellently clever, dared to enter into a struggle against the master of the gods by a series of ruses, all in the interest of the human species, and for this he was cruelly punished. Fixed to a column by terrible chains with his liver being incessantly devoured by an eagle, it took nothing less than Hercules, that savior hero, to deliver him from his double torture; these are, of course, the four great moral archetypes of humanity, of which Prometheus is genius itself; he wrestles with Jupiter over man, he gives them the fire which he has taken from this god; he is the refractory liberty of the human mind, developing in spite of the obstacles opposed to it by external necessity; the principle of eternal life; but this one must prevail; for beside intelligence and strength lie passion and weakness. Epimetheus is Prometheus’s brother. The destinies of humanity are fulfilled, so humanity is subject to the law of labor which is the law of its progress. Prometheus is chained, with ineffable pains tearing his breast. In order to free himself from his heroic desire, he must accept that inexorable law which has brought glory to the price of labor and pain; he is reconciled with Jupiter through the mediation of Hercules, his liberator. Cronos had been tamed like Prometheus, the Titans were not.
“For ten whole years, the titanic gods, ancient gods and new gods, from Cronos, fought a terrible war for the empire of the world. Jupiter and Cronos were obliged to call Briaree and Cottos and Gyges, these formidable children of Uranos. The fight recommences with more ardor by the concurrence of these formidable auxiliaries; an inexplicable struggle commits itself, where all the elements are promised, or the sea roars, or the sky and the earth are set alight; in this divine melee, Jupiter incessantly launches his lightning, and the earth is set on fire, the forests sparkle, the ocean bubbles, the fire gains to the chaos, finally the lightning titans are precipitated in Tartarus and loaded with chains.”
Now here is the explanation given by the learned Creuzer of Hesiod’s fiction; it will appear to you, I am sure, as convoluted and unintelligible as the one which it gave on the fall of the angels.
It’s about knowing, says Creuzer, if in this world that is made to fall due to Cronos, space in time will be ordered by Jupiter within the limits of the year, if it will pass definitively from the infinite time or space which threatened to plunge it back into primitive chaos, and into the reign of the finite, which organizes it in extension and duration at a time.
This is very abstract, very subtle indeed, and which, in our opinion, is far from the truth, the reality, the very meaning that flows from the epic of Hesiod.
In our opinion, it is not a question of the transfiguration of the abstract world into a concrete harmonic world, as the learned Creuzer seeks to insinuate. Hesiod, that great inspired theologian, that great condenser of all the religious and symbolic emanations of his time, synthesizes them in the epic of Prometheus and the Titans fighting against the divinity, and finishes with the victims succumbing to their audacity and their pride.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Prometheus, who proudly steals the fire from heaven, this skillful man, this genius, this inspired person, is, like Adam, a first figure of humanity, who has arrived, by the power of science, at the knowledge of the essence of things. He steals the fire from heaven, this forbidden fruit, this electric fluid, this magnetic fluid, or any imponderable fluid that man can discover one day, and God punishes him for this by chaining him to the Caucasus, this cursed land where he must fight eternally against necessity, this eagle who eats his liver. But his strength, as embodied by Hercules, his skill and genius, will reach a day when he will break his chains and return to his freedom. What will he do with it? He will make a new league against the gods and he will appeal to the Titans for aid, that is to say to the forces of nature which he will manage to master, he will pile Pelion on Ossa: but Jupiter, irritated by so much audacity, will throw his thunderbolts, he will set the world aflame, bind Prometheus and the Titans with chains, and throw them into Tartarus to immense depth, until the day when the forces of science and genius return to Prometheus, when he will fight again with God, that is to say with the universe.
It is, in a word, the history of universal palingenesis, the history of the struggle of man against fate; it is the struggle of genius against the brutal forces of nature; a terrible, atrocious struggle, a fatal circle, where man is shut up and where his creative genius always ends up succumbing.
When we see the progress of science today, as I have sought to sketch in the previous book, when we understand, as we do, the diffusion of knowledge, this element of incalculable power, the lever with which man will be able to lift up the world, one sees then that the revolt of Prometheus is near and that his torture is too.
As for the Bible, this deep sigh of a world that is no more, that arrived to us through five thousand years; this encyclopedia of the past, this enigma of the future which tells the story of man and creation from his appearance to the end of the world, as predicted by his prophets, it will also tell us the great catastrophe of man and nature as a consequence of original sin: we will see Adam, enjoying all the beatitudes, eating the fruit of the tree of science (remember this word because it is all) and, like Prometheus, after stealing the fire from heaven, or like Brahma, after seizing the laws of creation, loses in a shock all of his freedoms and powers, for that sin of pride, for rebelling against God. The serpent, this universal tempter, this symbol of pride and genius, will always be as in other religions the cause of the fall of man, and we will see that in this myth, as in other religions, it will always be the exaggeration of his own strength which causes Adam to lose.
But let us talk about the Bible.
Ch. I. V. 27. God created man and woman in his image, and placed them in the earthly paradise.
Ch. I. V. 28. And God said to them, be fruitful and multiply.
Ch. II. V. 9. Now the Lord had made all kinds of beautiful trees to the earth, and their fruit was sweet to taste, and in the midst of paradise were the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Ch. II. 16, 17 And God said to them, you may eat the fruit of all the trees of paradise, but do not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, for if you eat it, you will die.
Ch. III. V. 1. Now the serpent was the finest of all the animals that God had formed on the earth, and he said to the woman: Why did God command you not to eat the fruit from all the trees of Paradise?
Is this great legend, this great symbolic voice, in different forms, not the same as that of the Vedas of India, of the Zend-Avesta of the Persians, of Hesiod’s Prometheus? The characters and the words are changed, but the idea of the drama remains the same. As for ourselves, we recognize in the great figure of Adam a humanity that is no longer; in Eden, a civilization is transfigured by the serpent, that insatiable, prideful temptation for man to know everything, to deepen everything; the tree of science, that immense acquisition of knowledge, that infinite science which carries within it the fatal fruit that must one day bring about the loss of the world, is like the conquest of the celestial fire by Prometheus that leads to his loss.
When men have searched for the truth through the symbols and myths of the past, when they have successively torn through the thick veils that cover the mystery, they will recognize that, under these different symbols, the truth remains the same.
We will formulate it as follows:
The pride of science, that great sin of the world, which was the cause of the fall of many in the past will also be the cause of his fall in the future.
This is the whole story of Adam, this is the whole story of Prometheus, it is the entire
story of Brahma, when, having seized the forces of nature and all its secrets, God strikes him with his anger and says: my name is the avenger of pride, know it well! Pride is the only crime I do not forgive. It is also the only explanation for this verse from the Bible: you may eat all the fruits of Paradise, but do not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, for if you eat it, you will die. What is more conclusive than these words: tree of science?
So do not try and tell us that the catastrophe of the world was the result of the first embraces of man and woman; for this explanation has no root in any religion, since all of antiquity adored the Phallus and the Lotus as symbols of generation; for the god of Genesis, who says to man and woman: be fruitful and multiply , and who therefore desires fertilization in creation, cannot then curse this act, without contradicting himself.
So do not try and tell us that the cause of this great catastrophe was the closing of fields, nor taking possession of a fruit that we did not pick, as Reynaud believes.
For nowhere in the Bible, in the religions of Persia, Egypt, or India, will you find a single argument to support that hypothesis.
Recognize it, then, the only solution, the only true, the only rational, that which springs naturally from all the religions of antiquity, the one which at once expresses all its mysteries, all its symbols, is the one we have formulated as well:
The pride of science, that old sin of the world, which was the cause of the fall of man in the past, will cause his downfall in the future.
This alone explains the past, and the present; it will also serve to explain the future.
We will therefore try to demonstrate to you in the last book that the Babel of the coming civilization, in wanting to rise too high, will someday fatally collapse on man, like his elder sister the mystic Babel, as everything that exceeds the limits of nature’s universal equilibrium must inevitably collapse.
Because, know it well, what has been will be.
The past is only the mirror of the future.