After I went to Ft. Wayne, I continued going home on weekends for about a year. I would get a Wabash train on Saturday afternoon and Raymond and then Brooks would pick me up at Cecil. I was too attached to my family to break away entirely tho I don't think I would have admitted it to my family at the time. Sunday evening around 5 pm somebody would drive me back to Cecil to get the evening train out of Toledo.
One Sunday in particular sticks in my mind as we just missed a tornado. All day Sunday the wind had been exceptionally strong but there hadn't been any rain. It was still blowing very hard when we started for Cecil. I was driving with Brooks at my side. He was to take the car back home. It got quite dark and began to rain when we were about half way between the two towns. Suddenly we saw a telephone pole lying across the road in front of us and I just braked in time to avoid hitting it. I was able by careful maneuvering to get around it and drove on slowly. The next was down too and so was the one after that and so on and so on until we had passed at least a half-mile of poles, going around the east end of one and west end of another, each time expecting the road would be blocked. After passing the last one there was clear sailing on to Cecil.
When we got to the depot it was very dark with heavy clouds overhead and we could see the headlight of the locomotive down the track to the east. Brooks drove back home and I started pacing back and forth on the platform. I expected the train to arrive in about ten or fifteen minutes but the headlight didn't seem to be getting any nearer. It was an hour before it pulled into the station with the news that the little town twelve miles east of Cecil (an elevator, a store and a half-dozen houses) had been blown away. I can't remember now whether anyone had been hurt or not.
It was on a weekend trip back home in 1917 that I had gone to the library on South Main Street, where I often went to browse in the stacks, and by chance picked up Huxley's book defending Darwin's theory of evolution from the attacks being made on it. Darwin's "Origin of the Species" had been published over 50 years before but there was no mention of it in any of our school books, not even in our course on botany. Like everyone else I knew, I had simply accepted the story of creation in Genesis without thinking about it. I had already rejected the stories of Jonah and a few other miracles as being tall tales and I was skeptical of the story of the flood. Where all of the water came from and where it went had me puzzled. The idea of life evolving from simple beginnings made so much more sense to me than the Bible story that I adopted it at once.
When I got back to Ft. Wayne that evening, Mr. and Mrs. Noble, Leonard and Mrs. Noble's mother, who had the other upstairs bedroom, were gathered in the sitting room. I was so full of the subject that I outlined the whole theory. I talked about an hour and after I had finished, Mrs. Noble's mother said, "Well, that's the silliest idea I ever heard of." The others looked at me as if I had lost my wits. Leonard didn't say much that evening but the next day as we were walking to work he tried to convince me that I was in great danger of going to Hell.
Darwin's theory, of course, has nothing to do with religion except that it happens to conflict with the story of Creation as told in Genesis. However it set me to wondering what sort of miracle stories other faiths might have. I began bringing books home from Ft. Wayne library on Buddhism, Mohammadanism, Confucianism, animism and comparative religions and discovered that all religions had their miracle stories, creation stories, flood stories, paralleling pretty much those in the Bible. I hung on to a belief in the miracles performed by Christ as related in the New Testament, especially the story of the Resurrection, much longer than the others. It was several years before I could come to the conclusion that even these were the product of men's imaginations during a credible age long before scientific methods had been thought of. I continued to go to church, and even Sunday school, but reciting the Nicene Creed in unison, as many congregations did, made me uncomfortable.
Last modified on 14 June 2009 @ 10:13