Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Robert Ingersoll Quotes

To my fellow seekers of truth, if you've not heard of Robert Ingersoll, you're in for a treat and an awakening. To say that his speeches and writings were logical, concise, necessary and appropriate, would be a major understatement, while not affording Ingersoll his overdue diligence.

Known as "The Great Agnostic," Robert G. Ingersoll was born at Dresden, NY (August 11, 1833 – July 21, 1899). His family moved to Illinois in 1845, where he studied law and was admitted to the bar. Ingersoll also entered the political arena as a Democrat. He was nominated for Congress in 1860, but was defeated.  

In 1862 Robert entered the army as Colonel of a regiment of cavalry and was taken prisoner, but was exchanged. Returning to civil life he became a Republican, and in 1868 became Attorney General of Illinois.

At the Republican convention of 1870 his speech, in proposing "Mr. Blaine's name for the Presidency," aroused general attention for its eloquence.  

This marked the beginning of Colonel Ingersoll's brilliant career as a dynamic orator. He frequently appeared upon the lecture platform in advocacy of views opposed to Christianity and the Bible. It is chiefly to this skepticism that he owed his celebrity.

The reason why Col. Robert Ingersoll's name is not historically bandied about like your Thomas Jefferson's, Ben Franklin's, Nikola Tesla's, and the like, is because Ingersoll logically, skillfully and astutely attacked and dissected organized religion at every turn. 

Couple his intellectual brashness with the fact that he was one of the greatest orators the world has ever known, an abolitionist and defender of women's rights (long before the Women's suffrage movement) and you will begin to understand why the majority of 'dependent thinkers', past and present, have attempted to expunge his work from the annals of American history.

This blog will highlight some of Ingersoll's more memorable quotes.

"The idea of hell was born of ignorance, brutality, fear, cowardice, and revenge. This idea testifies that our remote ancestors were the lowest beasts. Only from dens, lairs, and caves, only from mouths filled with cruel fangs, only from hearts of fear and hatred, only from the conscience of hunger and lust, only from the lowest and most debased could come this most cruel, heartless and bestial of all dogmas."

"The Emperor Constantine, who lifted Christianity into power, murdered his wife Fausta*, and his eldest son Crispus, the same year that he convened the Council of Nicea to decide whether Jesus Christ was a man or the Son of God. The council decided that Christ was consubstantial [of the same substance or essence] with the father. This was in the year 325. We are thus indebted to a wife-murderer for settling the vexed question of the divinity of the Savior."

* Fausta was executed by suffocation in an over-heated bath, a mode of assassination not otherwise attested in the Roman world. The Emperor ordered the 'damnatio memoriae' of his wife. Damnatio memoriae is the Latin phrase literally meaning "condemnation of memory", meaning that a person must not be remembered. It was a form of dishonor that could be passed by the Roman Senate on traitors or others who brought discredit to the Roman State. The intent was to erase the malefactor from history, a task somewhat easier in ancient times, when documentation was limited.

"Let us be honest. Did all the priests of Rome increase the mental wealth of man as much as Bruno? Did all the priests of France do as great a work for the civilization of the world as Diderot and Voltaire? Did all the ministers of Scotland add as much to the sum of human knowledge as David Hume? Have all the clergymen, monks, friars, ministers, priests, bishops, cardinals and popes, from the day of Pentecost to the last election, done as much for human liberty as Thomas Paine? — as much for science as Charles Darwin?"

"There is no slavery but ignorance. Liberty is the child of intelligence. The history of man is simply the history of slavery, of injustice and brutality, together with the means by which he has, through the dead and desolate years, slowly and painfully advanced."

"So I say, let us judge each other by our actions, not by theories, not by what we happen to believe -- because that depends very much on where we were born."

"We have now a science called astronomy. That science has done more to enlarge the horizon of human thought than all things else. We now live in an infinite universe. We know that the sun is a million times larger than our earth, and we know that there are other great luminaries millions of times larger than our sun. We know that there are planets so far away that light, traveling at the rate of one hundred and eighty-five thousand miles a second, requires fifteen thousand years to reach this grain of sand, this tear, we call the earth -- and we now know that all the fields of space are sown thick with constellations. If that statute had been enforced, that science would not now be the property of the human mind. That science is contrary to the Bible, and for asserting the truth you become a criminal. For what sum of money, for what amount of wealth, would the world have the science of astronomy expunged from the brain of man? We learned the story of the stars in spite of that statute."

"It may be, however, sufficient to say, that wherever the church has had power it has been a crime for any man to speak his honest thought. No church has ever been willing that any opponent should give a transcript of his mind. Every church in power has appealed to brute force, to the sword, for the purpose of sustaining its creed. Not one has had the courage to occupy the open field. The church has not been satisfied with calling Infidels and unbelievers blasphemers. Each church has accused nearly every other church of being a blasphemer. Every pioneer has been branded as a criminal. The Catholics called Martin Luther a blasphemer, and Martin Luther called Copernicus a blasphemer. Pious ignorance always regards intelligence as a kind of blasphemy. Some of the greatest men of the world, some of the best, have been put to death for the crime of blasphemy, that is to say, for the crime of endeavoring to benefit their fellow-men."

"Blasphemy is what an old mistake says of a newly discovered truth." 

"Blasphemy is what a withered last year's leaf says to this year's bud." 

"Blasphemy is the bulwark of religious prejudice."

"Blasphemy is the breastplate of the heartless."

"And let me say now, that the crime of blasphemy, as set out in this statute, is impossible. No man can blaspheme a book. No man can commit blasphemy by telling his honest thought. No man can blaspheme a God, or a Holy Ghost, or a Son of God. The Infinite cannot be blasphemed."

"What is blasphemy? I will give you a definition; I will give you my thought upon this subject. What is real blasphemy?"

"To live on the unpaid labor of other men — that is blasphemy."

"To enslave your fellow-man, to put chains upon his body — that is blasphemy."

"To enslave the minds of men, to put manacles upon the brain, padlocks upon the lips — that is blasphemy." 

"To strike the weak and unprotected, in order that you may gain the applause of the ignorant and superstitious mob — that is blasphemy." 

"To persecute the intelligent few, at the command of the ignorant many — that is blasphemy."

"To forge chains, to build dungeons, for your honest fellow-men — that is blasphemy."

"To pollute the souls of children with the dogma of eternal pain — that is blasphemy." 

"The jury that gives an unjust verdict, and the judge who pronounces an unjust sentence, are blasphemers." 

"The man who bows to public opinion against his better judgment and against his honest conviction, is a blasphemer."

"Gentlemen, you can never make me believe — no statute can ever convince me, that there is any infinite Being in this universe who hates an honest man. It is impossible to satisfy me that there is any God, or can be any God, who holds in abhorrence a soul that has the courage to express his thought. Neither can the whole world convince me that any man should be punished, either in this world or in the next, for being candid with his fellow-men. If you send men to the penitentiary for speaking their thoughts, for endeavoring to enlighten their fellows, then the penitentiary will become a place of honor, and the victim will step from it — not stained, not disgraced, but clad in robes of glory."

"What is holy, what is sacred? I reply that human happiness is holy, human rights are holy. The body and soul of man — these are sacred. The liberty of man is of far more importance than any book; the rights of man, more sacred than any religion — than any Scriptures, whether inspired or not."

"What we want is the truth, and does any one suppose that all of the truth is confined in one book — that the mysteries of the whole world are explained by one volume?"

"Any church that imprisons a man because he has used an argument against its creed, will simply convince the world that it cannot answer the argument."

"The hands that help are holier than the lips that pray."

"You ask me what I would “substitute for the Bible as a moral guide.” I know that many people regard the Bible as the only moral guide and believe that in that book only can be found the true and perfect standard of morality. There are many good precepts, many wise sayings and many good regulations and laws in the Bible, and these are mingled with bad precepts, with foolish sayings, with absurd rules and cruel laws."

"The story of Job shocks the heart of every good man. In this book there is some poetry, some pathos, and some philosophy, but the story of this drama called Job, is heartless to the last degree. The children of Job are murdered to settle a little wager between God and the Devil. Afterward, Job having remained firm, other children are given in the place of the murdered ones. Nothing, however, is done for the children who were murdered."

"On the whole, the Old Testament cannot be considered a moral guide. Jehovah was not a moral God. He had all the vices, and he lacked all the virtues. He generally carried out his threats, but he never faithfully kept a promise. At the same time, we must remember that the Old Testament is a natural production, that it was written by savages who were slowly crawling toward the light."

"I admit that there are many good things in the New Testament, and if we take from that book the dogmas of eternal pain, of infinite revenge, of the atonement, of human sacrifice, of the necessity of shedding blood; if we throw away the doctrine of non-resistance, of loving enemies, the idea that prosperity is the result of wickedness, that poverty is a preparation for Paradise, if we throw all these away and take the good, sensible passages, applicable to conduct, then we can make a fairly good moral guide, — narrow, but moral."

"Of course, many important things would be left out. You would have nothing about human rights, nothing in favor of the family, nothing for education, nothing for investigation, for thought and reason, but still you would have a fairly good moral guide. On the other hand, if you would take the foolish passages, the extreme ones, you could make a creed that would satisfy an insane asylum. If you take the cruel passages, the verses that inculcate eternal hatred, verses that writhe and hiss like serpents, you can make a creed that would shock the heart of a hyena. It may be that no book contains better passages than the New Testament, but certainly no book contains worse. Below the blossom of love you find the thorn of hatred; on the lips that kiss, you find the poison of the cobra. The Bible is not a moral guide. Any man who follows faithfully all its teachings is an enemy of society and will probably end his days in a prison or an asylum."

"What then is, or can be called, a moral guide? The shortest possible answer is one word: Intelligence. We want the experience of mankind, the true history of the race. We want the history of intellectual development, of the growth of the ethical, of the idea of justice, of conscience, of charity, of self-denial. We want to know the paths and roads that have been traveled by the human mind. These facts in general, these histories in outline, the results reached, the conclusions formed, the principles evolved, taken together, would form the best conceivable moral guide. We cannot depend on what are called “inspired books,” or the religions of the world. These religions are based on the supernatural, and according to them we are under obligation to worship and obey some supernatural being, or beings. All these religions are inconsistent with intellectual liberty. They are the enemies of thought, of investigation, of mental honesty. They destroy the manliness of man. They promise eternal rewards for belief, for credulity, for what they call faith. This is not only absurd, but it is immoral."

"These religions teach the slave virtues. They make inanimate things holy, and falsehoods sacred. They create artificial crimes. To eat meat on Friday, to enjoy yourself on Sunday, to eat on fast-days, to be happy in Lent, to dispute a priest, to ask for evidence, to deny a creed, to express your sincere thought, all these acts are sins, crimes against some god, To give your honest opinion about Jehovah, Mohammed or Christ, is far worse than to maliciously slander your neighbor. To question or doubt miracles. is far worse than to deny known facts. Only the obedient, the credulous, the cringers, the kneelers, the meek, the unquestioning, the true believers, are regarded as moral, as virtuous. It is not enough to be honest, generous and useful; not enough to be governed by evidence, by facts. In addition to this, you must believe. These things are the foes of morality. They subvert all natural conceptions of virtue."

"All “inspired books,” teaching that what the supernatural commands is right, and right because commanded, and that what the supernatural prohibits is wrong, and wrong because prohibited, are absurdly unphilosophic. And all “inspired books,” teaching that only those who obey the commands of the supernatural are, or can be, truly virtuous, and that unquestioning faith will be rewarded with eternal joy, are grossly immoral. Again I say: Intelligence is the only moral guide."