Published in 1957, I feel the philosophical lessons in the this novel are even more relevent today. Here are excerpts from the book, where John Gault was speaking to the religious and political “leaders” of America (typed from audiobook, so may contain clerical errors):
1) Man’s reason is his moral fact. The process of reason is the process of constant choice in answer to the question true or false, right or wrong.
2) To live, man must hold three things as the supreme ruling values of his life: reason, purpose, and self-esteem.
3) Damnation is the start of your morality, destruction is its purpose, means, and end. Your code begins by damning man as evil, then demands that he practice a good which it defines as impossible for him to practice. Demands as its first proof of virtue that he accept his own depravity without proof, demands that he start not with the standard of value but with the standard of evil, which is himself— by means of which he then defines the good, the good that which he is not.
It does not matter the good is not for him to understand, his duty is to crawl through years of penance atoning for the guilt of his existence to any stray collector of unintelligible debts. His only concept of a value is a zero. The good is that which is non-man. The name of this monstrous absurdity is Original Sin.
A sin without volition is a slap at morality and an insolent contradiction in terms. That which is outside the possibility of choice is outside the province of morality. If man is evil by birth, he has no will, no power to change it. If he has no will he can be neither good nor evil. A robot is amoral.
To hold as man’s sin a fact not open to his choice is a mockery of morality. To hold man’s nature as his sin is a mockery of nature. To punish him for a crime he committed before he was born is a mockery of justice. To hold him guilty in a matter where no innocence exists is a mockery of reason. To destroy morality, nature, justice and reason by means of a single concept is a feat of evil hardly to be matched, yet that is the root of your code…
AWESOMEBOOK. I’ve enjoyed the audiobook so thoroughly that I would love to have a copy of the printed book.