Hear Ingersoll’s Voice

Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899) was known as the Great Agnostic. He was decades ahead of his contemporaries and even many people today; he was a strong advocate for women’s rights, birth control, political reform, the separation of church and state, and the abolition of slavery. He said that science was the only possible savior of mankind. And he was a brilliant speech maker who captivated crowds of thousands across America and campaigned for many Republican presidential candidates.

Unfortunately, like many non-Christians of his generation, he had no practical chances of getting elected to a high public office. Like many, his contributions have been erased from mainstream American history. I think it’s about time his character is revived, and what better community to aid this cause than the modern American secularists?

This is why I found it so inspiring to find out that Thomas Edison (another great non-theist) actually recorded his voice.

Other things that Ingersoll wrote:

It is contended by many that ours is a Christian government, founded upon the Bible, and that all who look upon the book as false or foolish are destroying the foundation of our country. The truth is, our government is not founded upon the rights of gods, but upon the rights of men. Our Constitution was framed, not to declare and uphold the deity of Christ, but the sacredness of humanity. Ours is the first government made by the people and for the people. It is the only nation with which the gods have had nothing to do. And yet there are some judges dishonest and cowardly enough to solemnly decide that this is a Christian country, and that our free institutions are based upon the infamous laws of Jehovah.

Our civilization is not Christian. It does not come from the skies. It is not a result of “inspiration.” It is the child of invention, of discovery, of applied knowledge — that is to say, of science. When man becomes great and grand enough to admit that all have equal rights; when thought is untrammeled; when worship shall consist in doing useful things; when religion means the discharge of obligations to our fellow-men, then, and not until then, will the world be civilized.

And my favorite:

“Religion has not civilized man, man has civilized religion.”

Indeed, we’ve come very far in promoting humanism, in supporting the importance of science and reason, and in building a more just and equal society. I daresay that there’s no time in human history when religious people and institutions have faced so much criticism, so much pressure to offer evidence instead of resorting to faith. At no time in human history have societies and people changed so much for the better.

Many obstacles still lie ahead. Our work still goes on.


Posted on May 9, 2011, in Humanism, Politics, Religion, Science and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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