Thomson was a born writer with a talent for swift readable prose and sudden and illuminating turns of phrase yet he rarely gets above schoolboy sneering and smart-alec-ness. In December, 1865, he wrote about the Atonement in the National Reformer, an atheist and republican paper owned by Charles Bradlaugh.

The whole scheme of the Atonement, as planned by God, is based upon a crime — a crime infinitely atrocious, the crime of murder and deicide, is essential to its success: if Judas had not betrayed, if the Jews had not insisted, if Pilate had not surrendered, if all these turpitudes had not been secured, the Atonement could not have been consummated. Need one say more? Sometimes, when musing upon this doctrine, I have a vision of the God-man getting old upon the earth, horribly anxious and wretched, because no one will murder him.

In a later passage he called God "a desperately sharp shaver and a terrible fellow for going to law". "Need one say more?" Thomson asked. Yes, is the answer because this just won't do. It really won't do at all.

Thomson's Satires on Religion


Victorian Overview James Thomson

Last modified 20 February 2007