Freemasonry has played a positive role in the development of civilization and the advancement of moral attitudes and religious observances in all ages of recorded history.
Ever since our primitive ancestors first began to think about their origins and to contemplate the existence of a divine creator, freemasonry has played a vital role in the development of civilization and the parallel growth of religion. Few realize how important freemasonry has been in establishing the welfare of human beings. In this context, the origins of freemasonry have been examined and its accomplishments as a civilizing force have been traced through the evolution of the human race. The precepts and teachings of freemasonry, which reflect freemasonry's humanitarian and religious associations during the last ten millennia or longer, also are considered in some detail.
This book differs from the usual books on freemasonry, both in its subject matter and in its approach to the various subjects covered. It gathers together a series of discussion papers prepared by the author and presented to various Masonic bodies during the last forty years. It is intended to provide a stimulus and hopefully an inspiration for anyone wanting to know how freemasonry originated and what it is about. The original papers were prepared as separate entities, each intended to consider some specific aspect of freemasonry. References to subjects beyond the scope of a paper, but about which it would be helpful for the reader to have some knowledge, are as brief as possible consistent with their bearing upon the discussion. Related aspects of importance usually are covered in separate papers. Most of the assembled papers have been revised and amplified more than once, many several times, to reflect the latest archaeological discoveries and related research, as well as the continuing developments in science. In this respect the advances in knowledge that have been achieved during the second half of the twentieth century have been truly remarkable.
The original papers have been incorporated into this book as chapters arranged in a logical sequence. The author hopes that each chapter will provide a useful basis for discussions by interested groups. The texts of the papers have therefore been used without change, no attempt having been made to consolidate the subject matter, nor to remove references to related aspects. For this reason similar references may appear in more than one chapter, for which the author offers no apology. Although most chapters could be presented and discussed in a single session, sometimes more than one session would be appropriate for the scope and importance of the subject. Publications the author thinks are of particular interest in relation to a subject are referred to at the appropriate place in the text.
Contrary to a hypothesis sometimes put forward, speculative freemasonry is not a recent invention, but evolved in lodges of operative freemasons in conjunction with the practice of the stonemason's craft. Humans differ from other animals, because they have an insatiable curiosity concerning their origins and the environment in which they live. As a direct consequence of this, speculative freemasonry developed in lodges of operative freemasons as a natural extension of the mental and spiritual attempts of human beings to unravel their origins, to comprehend the meaning of life and to perceive their ultimate destiny. The environment in which operative freemasons worked and the tools and methods they employed were unique sources of inspiration, as well as providing an ideal basis for symbolic representation that was always ready to hand. Although freemasonry began in ancient times as an entirely practical enterprise, to satisfy the needs of day-to-day life, the advancement of civilization soon involved the craft in the construction of buildings for various religious purposes. This intimate and continuing association with moral and spiritual influences naturally encouraged the growth of the speculative aspects of freemasonry, which evolved concurrently with the operative art.
The progress of freemasonry, from the times of the nomadic hunter-gatherers until the introduction of purely speculative freemasonry in the eighteenth century, is a continuing theme in this book. Of paramount importance was the positive role played by freemasonry in the development of civilization and the advancement of moral attitudes and religious observances in all ages of recorded history. In the fulfillment of its role, freemasonry has always provided its services without regard to the race, religion or creed of the people, wherever the freemasons may have been working. This approach has been perpetuated in speculative freemasonry, in which members are required to be of good character and to have a belief in God, irrespective of race or religion. All of these aspects have been discussed in this book, in which the author has attempted to show the relationship between freemasonry and the people of the land in diverse countries and over a long spectrum of time. The principles, tenets and symbolism of freemasonry have also been compared with the religious beliefs of the people in the various countries as and when they are relevant to the discussion.
Although reference is made to many of the long held beliefs concerning the origins and purpose of freemasonry, it is not the author's intention in this book to perpetuate any that are not sustainable. On the contrary, it has been the author's endeavor only to illustrate the way in which freemasonry probably evolved and to show how it has been a positive influence in the everyday life of humanity from time immemorial. It must also be emphasized that any opinions expressed and views incorporated in this book are those of the author. They may or may not be accepted or supported by some or any of the Grand Lodges and other controlling bodies to which the various Masonic organizations owe allegiance.
Finally, the author expresses his sincere appreciation to all those who have shown an interest in his papers and have participated in discussions with him these many years past and still do. Without their support and encouragement the original papers would not have been prepared, nor would the publication of this book have come to fruition. Special thanks are due to my wife Jean for her forbearance and for proofreading every paper when it was written; also to my eldest son, Brother Graeme Falconer, for his critical review of the final draft, especially in respect to the historical, philosophical and scientific information presented; and to Brother Lowell Tarling for his invaluable assistance - he was the driving force behind the publication of my papers in book form. The author will feel well rewarded if his book proves to be of interest and benefit to freemasons and to any others of an enquiring mind who may read it.
Donald H B Falconer
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
The author wishes to express his appreciation to the many readers of the original edition of this book, in Australia and from around the world, who have been sufficiently interested to communicate their comments and questions. This revised and enlarged edition includes much additional information, some incorporated into the original chapters and some as additional chapters, which the author hopes has responded to most of the suggestions made and questions raised.
Donald H B Falconer
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