Paschal Beverly Randolph

Our history – A Shemitic Myth

Here is the quoted passage from “Pre-Adamite Man” by Paschal Beverly Randolph, where he discusses a conversation with his rather free-thinking, Moslem friend:

“Said my rather free-thinking, Moslem friend, to me one day, as we were taking our coffee and smoking our chibouques under the shade of the sycamores in the Ezbekiah, Cairo: ‘I have lived seven years in Europe; have mastered four languages; have fitted myself for my Shah’s service (military engineering) under the tuition of English, French and German masters, and of course have had abundant opportunity to observe. The result of these observances are that all you, people of the West, are one-sided and fanatical! You are the best mechanics in the world; are rich and powerful, but—excuse me!—are not very wise with all your knowledge. You laugh at our Koords, who, disdaining all your prosaic theories of Creation, boldly assert that they did not spring from your Adam, but were begotten of women created especially for that purpose by Allah, through the instrumentality of the Ginns (spiritual beings); and yet, while you thus laugh, you at the same moment tell us impossible tales of five hundred distinct nations of men all springing from one common pair! This is more absurd than the Koordish legend. You know that the 112th chapter of the Koran tells us—and perhaps you would do well to consider its teachings—that “God never begat, nor was begotten; neither had He any equal;” He was never incarnate in any body, nor took a female companion or a child. I do not know, but I feel, that God is a being too vast for human comprehension; and I believe that this God is He who created man, solely and alone; but you believe that another God, in association, made man. I am believing the truth; you are accepting a Shemitic myth! I believe that this earth has, for millions of ages, been the scene of human activities; you, that it is but a few thousand years old! Your God is human; mine is celestial.

I am a believer in one God; you have a score or two—French, American, English, African, Jewish, Russian, Scotch—in fact, all sorts of gods; and you degrade the noblest faculties of your souls, and bow down, not to the august Creator, the great Mind of minds, but to a series of conventional gods. I suppose that Time moves in cycles, and that each has its peculiar order of intelligent beings, both like and unlike the present race of men. By and bye these last will disappear, as others have before them, and be superseded by a loftier race of immortal beings.

We are but the initial types of glorious races to come after we are gone to act our parts in another drama, in another stage of being! You, as well as myself, have been amongst the Ansai-reeh of Syria, and have gratefully listened while I translated for you their sublime cosmogonical theories. You know how eloquently they spoke of the five ages before the present race of men inhabited the earth, and of the Djan, the Ramm, the Tamm, the Bann, and the Djam, all of which lived long ages before your Adam.

You perhaps understood that those five orders of intelligent beings were men as you and I are. They were; and believe me, the legend is more than a mere figment of imagination; for behind there lies a vast deal of sober truth; and in these orders you can easily see the faint but certain record of long lines of kings, nations, religions and political systems—forms of faith and records of past human action.

And these five orders of fanciful-looking beings mean nothing more nor less than so many recollections of the human foretime, stretching away into the dim distance, beyond the epoch of some of your geological ages, whose days are centuries long. Allah slowly plants a garden, but he plants it very well! Do you remember the day that your friend, Mr. Ducat, and Professor Krause, yourself and I, strolled out to see the ‘wailing place’ of the Jews, near the mosque El Aksur, in Jerusalem?

And do you remember the historical fact that Jerusalem was known four thousand four hundred and seventy-nine years ago, and that the story that Melchizadek founded it, is not true? Well, on that very day an Arab, in digging a well, found a jug-handle of a form and material so entirely different from any other discovered in modern times, that it attracted the attention of learned men. Well, again, did you observe that on the handle was a peculiar figure? That was the figure of the sun; precisely such as had before been found amidst the ruins of Nineveh and Memphis, Tanta and Heliopolis; and consequently it spoke, not merely of four thousand five hundred, or five thousand years ago, but it speaks of the early days of the Chaldean empire; of commerce and art; and hints, not merely at the Jebusite reign, but of Ninus and of Nimrod.

When they lived, you must ask your Western scholars, but probably in the days of the nations called the Djan. Chaldea was an early nation, and yet, in my opinion, science will yet prove her, old as she is, to have been of Indo-Germanic origin; and so with many other of the nations of Asia, particularly those upon the Western portions thereof. No, no, my friend, do not put yourself to the trouble of believing that the present is the first, or only, family of men that have existed on this globe.

Men, nations, civilizations, all, like the seasons, move in cycles, and each round of ages is but a varied repetition, on a larger or smaller scale, upon the same general theatre, of events that have, time and again, been enacted and observed. Just look at yonder moon: it rises, falls, comes up and goes down again; the same unvarying round forever and forever. So the earth, and man, and nations, and civilizations, and historical and unhistorical epochs and eras. They all rise, grow, flow, reach a perihelion splendor, and then a night, and then again a new moon, a new day. But come, let us fill our pipes. Philosophy is tiresome!’ And he became silent.”

This passage captures a comprehensive and philosophical critique of Western views on creation and history from the perspective of Randolph’s Moslem friend

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