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Is this book terrible or terrific? Read my review and decide for yourself

Earth's Earliest Ages

And Their Connection with Modern Spiritualism and Theosophy
G. H. Pember
Edition / Year:
12th Edition, 1893(?)
In the section labelled:

(Please note that this article contains mockery of sincerely held Christian beliefs, albeit of the flakier variety. If that sort of thing offends you, kindly shove off).

It is interesting to observe how some misguided souls manage to build vast towers of supposition on the shakiest foundations by the power of faith alone. In his book Mr. Pember presented a vision of the world which may sound like fantastic fiction to the sceptic, but which he believed was a literal interpretation of the words of the Bible: the type of interpretation in which any assertion, however mad, however unsupported by evidence, can be 'true' if some Biblical passage can be read as confirming it.

His aim in writing the book was to communicate his views on the connections between the ancient history of the world and the then popular fads of Theosophy and Spiritualism, which he saw as demonically-inspired and liable to bring about the end of mankind. There seemed to him clear parallels between contemporary events and biblical stories such as the Fall of Adam and Eve and the great Flood.

Pember's application of the term 'literal' did not exclude the wildest interpolations between the lines where he felt like it. For example, take the first two verses of Genesis:-

  1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
  2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

According to Pember (following the Scottish theologian Thomas Chalmers), there is no indication of the length of time that had passed between the two verses, and so there is no contradiction between the Bible and geological observation: the vast ages of time indicated by study of rocks occurred in the gap. What is more, Pember was inclined to believe that during this time there were in existence numberless 'preadamite' races of man who were each in turn wiped out by God when they proved unable to resist the lure of sin.

In this time, too, Satan got up his rebellion against God and was duly chucked out of heaven (though how he hoped to succeed in overcoming his omnipotent adversary is never explained), to find a new home with his accomplices in the air around us:-

For the whole aerial surroundings of our planet are densely peopled with a hostile race of beings unutterably superior in wisdom and power to ourselves; having had during a vast number of years every conceivable experience of the weak points of humanity ; possessing the incalculable advantage of being themselves invisible, though as spiritual intelligences they are probably able, not merely to judge of us by our words and outward expression of countenance but even to read the innermost thoughts of our heart; co-operating with the most perfect and never-failing organization; and lastly, directed by a leader of consummate wisdom and skill, who is assisted by powerful princes, and finds his subjects so numerous, that, if we are to lay any stress on the word “legion” in the memorable narrative of Luke, he is able to spare some six thousand of them to guard one miserable captive.

(Scary, eh? Satan - the ultimate super-villain).

Pember's version of the Adam and Eve story is a little odd, too. I am not entirely sure what to make of the following passage:-

Yet another and crowning joy was in store for Adam. His benign Creator, knowing that it was not good for him to be alone, determined to bestow upon him a companion and partner of his joy. But first he brought to him the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, to see what he would call them: that is, to see if he should claim any of them as bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. Adam gave names to all, but to none that of woman; a result which had, of course, been anticipated by God. Indeed it seems not improbable that He made the trial to stimulate in His creature a desire which He intended to gratify.

Is there not a hint of bestiality here?

Adam and Eve were tempted by a snakeskin-clad Satan, and ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Grumpy old God, who could anticipate that Adam would not fancy snuggling up to even the cutest of camels, but somehow failed to spot Old Nick setting up his greengrocer's cart, slung them out of the garden, and in a fit of temper cursed the Earth. Pember cites a nutty Professor Balfour, who believed that the existence of thorns and thistles were 'evidence' of His curse on the vegetable kingdom.

Having dealt with the early chapters of the Bible, Pember turned to the various modern manifestations of sin that would bring down the wrath of God as in the days of Adam. In so doing, he showed that his literalism in the reading of texts was not limited to the Bible but extended as much to the extravagant claims of his foes in the Theosophical movement, such as that mediums, by the aid of demons, are able “to hold intercourse with supernatural beings, to reveal secrets, and in some degree to foretell; can travel in a moment to any part of the world ...”. Furthermore, demonic possession is a commonplace, “a large proportion of the patients in our lunatic asylums” being such cases, and “direct communication with demons ... is now becoming prevalent”. And, proving the advanced nature of North American society even 100 years ago, “the ceremonious marriage of a woman to a demon is a thing not unknown in the United States: whether it has ever happened in England we cannot say”.

Another great evil in the world was Buddhism, which according to Pember had many more adherents than previously suspected: for, “recent investigations have made it probable that Buddha was once the god of Northern Europe, and that his name is philologically identical with that of Woden...”. Not only that, but some fifth century Chinese Buddhists “apparently” reached North America and made converts there. Most astonishingly (except to the most paranoid of protestant fundamentalists), “there can be little doubt that the Buddhist tope is the original of the Roman Church...”.

Like many before and after, Pember believed that the End Was Nigh, though sensibly he refrained from suggesting exactly how Nigh It Was, preferring darkly hinting rhetorical questions: “if the great apostasy, which will at last evolve the Lawless One, be even now spreading; who can be sure of a day or an hour? ... Are we not living through solemn times: is the air not full of warnings: does it not behove every believer to arise, gird up his loins, and trim his lamp?”. How disappointing it must have been to those of Pember's readers who responded to his call and spent the remainder of their days in loin-girding and lamp-trimming, rather than on something they might have enjoyed more, to go to their death beds without having witnessed the second coming nor having the satisfaction of seeing their sinful neighbours judged and sent down into the black and fiery mouth of Hell.

Amusing as this may be, wouldn't it be much more so if no-one nowadays believed this kind of tripe? Sadly the number of misguided loons does not appear to have diminished much over the century since it was published: indeed you can still buy this book, you poor saps.

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Submitted by Mike (not verified) on 13 Jul 2013 - 06:11 Permalink

Well, you don't really expect me to believe that, do you? how are you going to stop the ageing process in you,? which, by the way, is the result of disbelief. If you came from the "yeti" and you are better than me,.......then how come we are both getting older, and going to die soon.? unless you have other plans LOL.
So it matters not whether your IQ is north or South of the "intellectual" scale, you still remain subject to the Word of God,....The soul that sinneth shall die, ( physically and spiritually) if you think you came from some animal, then try putting an animals blood in , to prolong your life. it won't take you too long to realize that you don't come from some yeti, and you ain't any better than me after-all. you will have a few minutes to live though.

Submitted by Mike (not verified) on 08 May 2013 - 06:27 Permalink

Well, I once did ask that question, how did you happen to be here on planet Earth.? were you in the foreknowedge of God, as an attribute in Him?
or are you part of serpent Seed, that had no part in God, other than to live your alotted time on Earth, after which you cannot go any further.
just like a hybrid plant. magestic in it's life, but with no chance of getting back to its orrigin in death. regeneration, and eternal life are to them
that are expressions of God,( the righteous line from Seth) which one are you?

Submitted by Mike (not verified) on 09 Apr 2013 - 08:01 Permalink

One thing for sure, we do exist. So if life started in the primordial waters that covered the earth
back then, it still had to have come into existence somehow. life isn't substance, it is intangible.
and the chemicals etc,in the earth, only support it. now you have to agree with me, that this is
completely out of mans understanding. An atom, is still substance, So where is this substance
comming from? that makes up an atom, one can go smaller than an atom, and smaller and smaller
and down a million miles from the diamentions of an atom. The question is, where is it comming from?

Submitted by Mike (not verified) on 01 Apr 2013 - 20:05 Permalink

What purpose would it serve God, if He turned all dust into moving life, all dust meaning
all substance. What would the creation be walking on?. He made the Earth first, and
then during a creation dispensation of perhaps thousands of years, He brought moving
life and plant life into existance using the various chemicals etc. that were already there.
No man can know exactly how God did it. This is absolutely beyond man's comprehention.

Submitted by psuedonym (not verified) on 05 Apr 2013 - 14:53 Permalink

Well it's seems like either you are guessing so you know nothing about what god did or he told you which means you know exactly how he did it, of course we would only have your word to go on.
I dont understand why god would create humans without the ability to comprehend him or his actions? Seems like an oversight.

Submitted by Mike (not verified) on 02 Mar 2013 - 06:57 Permalink

The answer to that is quite simple, There was a dispensation of "life developement"
or a period of time in which God brooded over the Earth, an evolution of chemicals,
whereby our physical form was developed via intellegent design. Each "Genus" after
it's kind, and there are many species that are part of a specific
Genus, that were produced from the "dust of the earth" There is no mention that all "dirt" turned into physical life. Substance had a beginning, and substance appeared via the
Word of God , where no substance existed. The very thing that brought substance into existence, was faith. When God said , "let there be" and perhaps a billion years
later an atom burst, and the sun come into existence, and the earth spewed off of the sun
containing all the required chemicals, for the developement of life, in the primordial waters
that subsequently covered the earth. Genesis 1:20 explaines that clearly.

Submitted by Mike (not verified) on 23 Oct 2012 - 17:27 Permalink

I was expecting that kind of reponse, but you still haven't answered the question.
people usually respond like that when their back's are against the wall.
how did that sexual depravity that is in that Bonobo Chimpanzee get into the human
race? Google it yourself on youtube and take a look.

Submitted by Mike (not verified) on 19 Oct 2012 - 17:59 Permalink

If you consider the Bonobo Chimpanzee which is supposed to be our closest "evolutionary" connection, It shares about 96% of our
( human) DNA, and yet it cannot utter even one word of any human laguage, it still remains just an animal,
and it also cannot interbreed with a human. From a physical standpoint it has hand, feet eyes nose etc, just like a human does,
as-well as many human charracteristics and expressions. Also it is absolutely pre-occupied with sex.
But in every other aspect, it is a million miles from a human. It can't even add 1+ 1 together.
If people believe that we evolved from some animal, how come this evolutionary process never went any higher than a human.?
If an animal cannot cross with a human, then how did those "animal charracteristics" get into the human race?

Submitted by Mike (not verified) on 01 Oct 2012 - 03:36 Permalink

Just a coincidence, is an easy way out, but look at us, we can understand mathematics, physics and electronics to
an unimaginable degree, and look what we have produced for ourselves from the dust of the Earth that we live on.?
We live to a certain age and then we die. we also have the ability to produce offspring like ourselves,and they will die too,
so it goes on. unlike the marvelous animal kingdom, we wear cothes to cover our nakedness, but scientists say that we are just
animal, then why the clothes? It's pretty evedent that we are more than just intellegent animals. so the baffling mystery goes on

Submitted by Rob (not verified) on 04 Oct 2012 - 02:14 Permalink

I'm not sure that even you yourself understand what you're trying to say...
Since as far as I can make out, you think that that's the one thing that sets us apart from animals, I'll try to answer the big question: Why the clothes?
Because it's often cold where most of us now live and we don't have fur. Because clothes don't really hinder us (which they would if we'd live in the water or be able to fly) but can save us from sunburn and protect us mechanically. And because we have opposable thumbs allowing us to make and put on clothes and we're intelligent enough to invent clothing.
And, yes, as far as we know, we're the most intelligent animal on this planet. But it's not by an astronomical margin; quite a lot of what we tend to think of as purely human achievements of the mind - like logical thought, the ability to predict future events by observation of the present, humor, love, compassion (and gratuitous violence on the other side of the lovability spectrum), complex language and the usage of names for individual members of a group - can be found in other animals, too.
Admittedly, you might have a bit pf a point, since the concept of modesty (as in permanently hiding your genitals) and religion seem to be purely human inventions. But if an almighty got had made these traits, you'd expect them to be instincts, which they're not.
If you want to, I could try to elaborate the last point, but for now I'll go to sleep...



Submitted by Mike (not verified) on 04 Sep 2012 - 04:08 Permalink

The Question still remains, who are we? how did we get here on this Planet,
and why are we here? it's true to say that we, as intellegent beings, live
on a Planet, "slap bang" in the middle of nowhere. What are the chances of
it being just a coincidence? surely there must be some superior intellegence
in controll of it for some reason