The Bible of Civilization

But to begin with perhaps I may meet an objection that is likely to arise. I have called this hypothetical book of ours the Bible of Civilization, and it may be that someone will say: Yes, but you have a sufficient book of that sort already; you have the Bible itself and that is all you need. Well, I am taking the Bible as my model. I am taking it because twice in history—first as the Old Testament and then again as the Old and New Testament together—it has formed a culture, and unified and kept together through many generations great masses of people. It has been the basis of the Jewish and Christian civilizations alike. And even in the New World the State of Connecticut did, I believe, in its earliest beginnings take the Bible as its only law. Nevertheless, I hope I shall not offend any reader if I point out that the Bible is not all that we need to-day, and that also in some respects it is redundant. Its very virtues created its limitations. It served men so well that they made a Canon of it and refused to alter it further. Throughout the most vital phases of Hebrew history, throughout[Pg 99] the most living years of Christian development the Bible changed and grew. Then its growth ceased and its text became fixed. But the world went on growing and discovering new needs and new necessities.


So I put it, that for the opening books of our Bible of Civilization, our Bible translated into terms of modern knowledge, and as the basis of all our culture, we shall follow the old Bible precedent exactly. We shall tell to every citizen of our community, as plainly, simply and beautifully[Pg 106] as we can, the New Story of Genesis, the tremendous spectacle of the Universe that science has opened to us, the flaming beginnings of our world, the vast ages of its making and the astounding unfolding, age after age, of Life. We shall tell of the changing climates of this spinning globe and the coming and going of great floras and faunas, mighty races of living things, until out of the vast, slow process our own kind emerged. And we shall tell the story of our race. How through hundreds of thousands of years it won power over nature, hunted and presently sowed and reaped. How it learnt the secrets of the metals, mastered the riddle of the seasons, and took to the seas. That story of our common inheritance and of our slow upward struggle has to be taught throughout our entire community, in the city slums and in the out-of-the-way farmsteads most of all. By teaching it, we restore again to our people the lost basis of a community, a common idea of their place in space and time.


An example of Wells idealism. He envisions a single, unifying book, but his bible is the sum of human literature, and the true story is constantly under revision, but written authoritatively in nature for us to read. He sees a book describing ethical conduct, but again our laws are such a book and we are constantly debating them in the courts and revising them in our legislatures.

Folksonomies: civilization idealism

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 The Salvaging of Civilization
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Wells, H.G. (1921), The Salvaging of Civilization, Retrieved on 2018-03-20
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: politics idealism