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Robert Ingersoll Debate Gladstone On V Field 2

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Gladstone On V Field 2

Robert Green Ingersoll

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The Right Honorable W.E. Gladstone, M.P.

My dear Sir:

At the threshold of this Reply, it gives me pleasure to say
that for your intellect and character I have the greatest respect;
and let me say further, that I shall consider your arguments,
assertions, and inferences entirely apart from your personality --
apart from the exalted position that you occupy in the estimation
of the civilized world. I gladly acknowledge the inestimable
services that you have rendered, not only to England, but to
mankind. Most men are chilled and narrowed by the snows of age;
their thoughts are darkened by the approach of night. But you, for
many years, have hastened toward the light, and your mind has been
"an autumn that grew the more by reaping."

Under no circumstances could I feel justified in taking
advantage of the admissions that you have made as to the "errors"
the "misfeasance" the "infirmities and the perversity" of the
Christian Church.

It is perfectly apparent that churches, being only
aggregations of people, contain the prejudice, the ignorance, the
vices and the virtues of ordinary human beings. The perfect cannot
be made out of the imperfect.

A man is not necessarily a great mathematician because he
admits the correctness of the multiplication table. The best creed
may be believed by the worst of the human race. Neither the crimes
nor the virtues of the church tend to prove or disprove the
supernatural origin of religion. The massacre of St. Bartholomew
tends no more to establish the inspiration of the Scriptures, than
the bombardment of Alexandria.

But there is one thing that cannot be admitted, and that is
your statement that the constitution of man is in a "warped,
impaired, and dislocated condition," and that "these deformities
indispose men to belief" Let us examine this.

We say that a thing is "warped" that was once nearer level,
flat, or straight; that it is "impaired" when it was once nearer
perfect, and that it is "dislocated" when once it was united.
Consequently, you have said that at some time the human

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constitution was unwarped, unimpaired, and with each part working
in harmony with all. You seem to believe in the degeneracy of man,
and that our unfortunate race, starting at perfection, has traveled
downward though all the wasted years.

It is hardly possible that our ancestors were perfect. If
history proves anything, it establishes the fact that civilization
was not first, and savagery afterwards. Certainly the tendency of
man is not now toward barbarism. There must have been a time when
language was unknown, when lips had never formed a word. That which
man knows, man must have learned. The victories of our race have
been slowly and painfully won. It is a long distance from the
gibberish of the savage to the sonnets of Shakespeare -- a long and
weary road from the pipe of Pan to the great orchestra voiced with
every tone from the glad warble of a mated bird to the hoarse
thunder of the sea. The road is long that lies between the
discordant cries uttered by the barbarian over the gashed body of
his foe and the marvelous music of Wagner and Beethoven. It is
hardly possible to conceive of the years that lie between the caves
in which crouched our naked ancestors crunching the bones of wild
beasts, and the home of a civilized man with its comforts, its
articles of luxury and use, -- with its works of art, with its
enriched and illuminated walls. Think of the billowed years that
must have rolled between these shores. Think of the vast distance
that man has slowly groped from the dark dens and lairs of
ignorance and fear to the intellectual conquests of our day.

Is it true that these deformities, these "warped, impaired,
and dislocated constitutions indispose men to belief"? Can we in
this way account for the doubts entertained by the intellectual
leaders of mankind?

It will not do, in this age and time, to account for unbelief
in this deformed and dislocated way. The exact opposite must be
true. Ignorance and credulity sustain the relation of cause and
effect. Ignorance is satisfied with assertion, with appearance, As
man rises in the scale of intelligence he demands evidence. He
begins to look back of appearance. He asks the priest for reasons.
The most ignorant part of Christendom is the most orthodox.

You have simply repeated a favorite assertion of the clergy,
to the effect that man rejects the gospel because he is naturally
depraved and hard of heart -- because, owing to the sin of Adam and
Eve, he has fallen from the perfection and purity of Paradise to
that "impaired" condition in which he is satisfied with the filthy
rags of reason, observation and experience.

The truth is, that what you call unbelief is only a higher and
holier faith. Millions of men reject Christianity because of its
cruelty. The Bible was never rejected by the cruel. It has been
upheld by countless tyrants -- by the dealers in human flesh -- by
the destroyers of nations -- by the enemies of intelligence -- by
the stealers of babes and the whippers of women.

It is also true that it has been held as sacred by the good,
the self-denying, the virtuous and the loving, who clung to the
sacred volume on account of the good it contains and in spite of
all its cruelties and crimes.

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You are mistaken when you say that all "the faults of all the
Christian bodies and subdivisions of bodies have been carefully
raked together," in my Reply to Dr. Field, "and made part and
parcel of the indictment against the divine scheme of salvation."

No thoughtful man pretends that any fault of any Christian
body can be used as an argument against what you call the "divine
scheme of redemption."

I find in your Remarks the frequent charge that I am guilty of
making assertions and leaving them to stand without the assistance
of argument or of fact, and it may be proper, at this particular
point, to inquire how you know that there is "a divine scheme of

My objections to this "divine scheme of redemption" are:
first, that there is not the slightest evidence that it is divine;
second, that it is not in any sense a "scheme," human or divine;
and third, that it cannot, by any possibility, result in the
redemption of a human being.

It cannot be divine, because it has no foundation in the
nature of things, and is not in accordance with reason. It is based
on the idea that right and wrong are the expression of an arbitrary
will, and not words applied to and descriptive of acts in the light
of consequences. It rests upon the absurdity called "pardon," upon
the assumption that when a crime has been committed justice will be
satisfied with the punishment of the innocent. One person may
suffer, or reap a benefit, in consequence of the act of another,
but no man can be justly punished for the crime, or justly rewarded
for the virtues, of another. A "scheme" that punishes an innocent
man for the vices of another can hardly be called divine. Can a
murderer find justification in the agonies of his victim? There is
no vicarious vice; there is no vicarious virtue. For me it is hard
to understand how a just and loving being can charge one of his
children with the vices, or credit him with the virtues, of

And why should we call anything a "divine scheme" that has
been a failure from the "fall of man" until the present moment?
What race, what nation, has been redeemed through the
instrumentality of this "divine scheme"? Have not the subjects of
redemption been for the most part the enemies of civilization? Has
not almost every valuable book since the invention of printing been
denounced by the believers in the "divine scheme"? Intelligence,
the development of the mind, the discoveries of science, the
inventions of genius, the cultivation of the imagination through
art and music, and the practice of virtue will redeem the human
race. These are the saviors of mankind.

You admit that the "Christian churches have by their
exaggerations and shortcomings, and by their faults of conduct,
contributed to bring about a condition of hostility to religious

If one wishes to know the worst that man has done, all that
power guided by cruelty can do, all the excuses that can be framed
for the commission of every crime, the infinite difference that can

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exist between that which is professed and that which is practiced,
the marvelous malignity of meekness, the arrogance of humility and
the savagery of what is known as "universal love," let him read the
history of the Christian Church.

Yet, I not only admit that millions of Christians have been
honest in the expression of their opinions, but that they have been
among the best and noblest of our race.

And it is further admitted that a creed should be examined
apart from the conduct of those who have assented to its truth. The
church should be judged as a whole, and its faults should be
accounted for either by the weakness of human nature, or by reason
of some defect or vice in the religion taught, -- or by both.

Is there anything in the Christian religion -- anything in
what you are pleased to call the "Sacred Scriptures" tending to
cause the crimes and atrocities that have been committed by the

It seems to be natural for man to defend himself and the ones
he loves. The father slays the man who would kill his child -- he
defends the body. The Christian father burns the heretic -- he
defends the soul.

If "orthodox Christianity" be true, an infidel has not the
right to live. Every book in which the Bible is attacked should be
burned with its author. Why hesitate to burn a man whose
constitution is "warped, impaired and dislocated," for a few
moments, when hundreds of others will be saved from eternal flames?

In Christianity you will find the cause of persecution. The
idea that belief is essential to salvation -- this ignorant and
merciless dogma -- accounts for the atrocities of the church. This
absurd declaration built the dungeons, used the instruments of
torture, erected the scaffolds and lighted the fagots of a thousand

What, I pray you, is the "heavenly treasure" in the keeping of
your church? Is it a belief in an infinite God? That was believed
thousands of years before the serpent tempted Eve. Is it the belief
in the immortality of the soul? That is far older. Is it that man
should treat his neighbor as himself? That is more ancient. What is
the treasure in the keeping of the church? Let me tell you. It is
this: That there is but one true religion -- Christianity, -- and
that all others are false; that the prophets, and Christs, and
priests of all others have been and are impostors, or the victims
of insanity; that the Bible is the one inspired book -- the one
authentic record of the words of God; that all men are naturally
depraved and deserve to be punished with unspeakable torments
forever; that there is only one path that leads to heaven, while
countless highways lead to hell; that there is only one name under
heaven by which a human being can be saved; that we must believe in
the Lord Jesus Christ; that this life, with its few and fleeting
years, fixes the fate of man; that the few will be saved and the
many forever lost. This is "the heavenly treasure" within the
keeping of your church.

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And this "treasure" has been guarded by the cherubim of
persecution, whose flaming swords were wet for many centuries with
the best and bravest blood. It has been guarded by cunning, by
hypocrisy, by mendacity, by honesty, by calumniating the generous,
by maligning the good, by thumbscrews and racks, by charity and
love, by robbery and assassination, by poison and fire, by the
virtues of the ignorant and the vices of the learned, by the
violence of mobs and the whirlwinds of war, by every hope and every
fear, by every cruelty and every crime, and by all there is of the
wild beast in the heart of man.

With great propriety it may be asked: In the keeping of which
church is this "heavenly treasure"? Did the Catholics have it, and
was it taken by Luther? Did Henry the VIII. seize it, and is it now
in the keeping of the Church of England? Which of the warring sects
in America has this treasure; or have we, in this country, only the
"rust and cankers"? Is it in an Episcopal Church, that refuses to
associate with a colored man for whom Christ died, and who is good
enough for the society of the angelic host?

But wherever this "heavenly treasure" has been, about it have
always hovered the Stymphalian birds of superstition, thrusting
their brazen beaks and claws deep into the flesh of honest men.

You were pleased to point out as the particular line
justifying your assertion "that denunciation, sarcasm, and
invective constitute the staple of my work," that line in which I
speak of those who expect to receive as alms an eternity of joy,
and add: "I take this as a specimen of the mode of statement which
permeates the whole."

Dr. Field commenced his Open Letter by saying: "I am glad that
I know you, even though some of my brethren look upon you as a
monster, because of your unbelief."

In reply I simply said: "The statement in your Letter that
some of your brethren look upon me as a monster on account of my
unbelief tends to show that those who love God are not always the
friends of their fellow-men. Is it not strange that people who
admit that they ought to be eternally damned -- that they are by
nature depraved -- that there is no soundness or health in them,
can be so arrogantly egotistic as to look upon others as monsters?
And yet some of your brethren, who regard unbelievers as infamous,
rely for salvation entirely on the goodness of another, and expect
to receive as alms an eternity of joy." Is there any denunciation,
sarcasm or invective in this?

Why should one who admits that he himself is totally depraved
call any other man, by way of reproach, a monster? Possibly, he
might be justified in addressing him as a fellow-monster.

I am not satisfied with your statement that "the Christian
receives as alms all whatsoever he receives at all." Is it true
that man deserves only punishment? Does the man who makes the world
better, who works and battles for the right, and dies for the good
of his fellow-men, deserve nothing but pain and anguish? Is
happiness a gift or a consequence? Is heaven only a well-conducted

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poorhouse? Are the angels in their highest estate nothing but happy
paupers? Must all the redeemed feel that they are in heaven simply
because there was a miscarriage of justice? Will the lost be the
only ones who will know that the right thing has been done, and
will they alone appreciate the "ethical elements of religion"? Will
they repeat the words that you have quoted: "Mercy and judgment are
met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other"? or
will those words be spoken by the redeemed as they joyously
contemplate the writhings of the lost?

No one will dispute "that in the discussion of important
questions calmness and sobriety are essential." But solemnity need
not be carried to the verge of mental paralysis. In the search for
truth, -- that everything in nature seems to hide, -- man needs the
assistance of all his faculties. All the senses should be awake.
Humor should carry a torch, Wit should give its sudden light,
Candor should hold the scales, Reason, the final arbiter, should
put his royal stamp on every fact, and Memory, with a miser's care,
should keep and guard the mental gold.

The church has always despised the man of humor, hated
laughter, and encouraged the lethargy of solemnity. It is not
willing that the mind should subject its creed to every test of
truth. It wishes to overawe. It does not say, "He that hath a mind
to think, let him think;" but, "He that hath ears to hear, let him
hear." The church has always abhorred wit, -- that is to say, it
does not enjoy being struck by the lightning of the soul. The
foundation of wit is logic, and it has always been the enemy of the
supernatural, the solemn and absurd.

You express great regret that no one at the present day is
able to write like Pascal. You admire his wit and tenderness, and
the unique, brilliant, and fascinating manner in which he treated
the profoundest and most complex themes. Sharing in your admiration
and regret, I call your attention to what might be called one of
his religious generalizations: "Disease is the natural state of a
Christian." Certainly it cannot be said that I have ever mingled
the profound and complex in a more fascinating manner.

Another instance is given of the "tumultuous method in which
I conduct, not, indeed, my argument, but my case."

Dr. Field had drawn a distinction between superstition and
religion, to which I replied: "You are shocked at the Hindoo mother
when she gives her child to death at the supposed command of her
God. What do you think of Abraham, of Jephthah? What is your
opinion of Jehovah himself?"

These simple questions seem to have excited you to an unusual
degree, and you ask in words of some severity: "Whether this is the
tone in which controversies ought be carried on?" And you say that
-- "not only is the name of Jehovah encircled in the heart of every
believer with the profoundest reverence and love, but that the
Christian religion teaches, through the incarnation, a personal
relation with God so lofty that it can only be approached in a
deep, reverential calm." You admit that "a person who deems a given
religion to be wicked, may be led onward by logical consistency to

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impugn in strong terms the character of the author and object of
that religion," but you insist that such person is "bound by the
laws of social morality and decency to consider well the terms and
meaning of his indictment."

Was there any lack of "reverential calm" in my question? I
gave no opinion, drew no indictment, but simply asked for the
opinion of another. Was that a violation of the "laws of social
morality and decency"?

It is not necessary for me to discuss this question with you.
It has been settled by Jehovah himself You probably remember the
account given in the eighteenth chapter of I. Kings, of a contest
between the prophets of Baal and the prophets of Jehovah. There
were four hundred and fifty prophets of the false God who
endeavored to induce their deity to consume with fire from heaven
the sacrifice upon his altar. According to the account, they were
greatly in earnest. They certainly appeared to have some hope of
success, but the fire did not descend.

("And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them and
said 'Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is
pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure, he sleepeth and
must be awaked.'")

Do you consider that the proper way to attack the God of
another? Did not Elijah know that the name of Baal "was encircled
in the heart of every believer with the profoundest reverence and
love"? Did he "violate the laws of social morality and decency"?

But Jehovah and Elijah did not stop at this point. They were
not satisfied with mocking the prophets of Baal, but they brought
them down to the brook Kishon -- four hundred and fifty of them --
and there they murdered every one.

Does it appear to you that on that occasion, on the banks of
the brook Kishon -- "Mercy and judgment met together, and that
righteousness and peace kissed each other"?

The question arises: Has every one who reads the Old Testament
the right to express his thought as to the character of Jehovah?
You will admit that as he reads his mind will receive some
impression, and that when he finishes the "inspired volume" he will
have some opinion as to the character of Jehovah. Has he the right
to express that opinion? Is the Bible a revelation from God to man?
Is it a revelation to the man who reads it, or to the man who does
not read it? If to the man who reads it, has he the right to give
to others the revelation that God has given to him? If he comes to
the conclusion at which you have arrived, -- that Jehovah is God,
-- has he the right to express that opinion?

If he concludes, as I have done, that Jehovah is a myth, must
he refrain from giving his honest thought? Christians do not
hesitate to give their opinion of heretics, philosophers, and
infidels. They are not restrained by the "laws of social morality
and decency." They have persecuted to the extent of their power,
and their Jehovah pronounced upon unbelievers every curse capable

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of being expressed in the Hebrew dialect. At this moment, thousands
of missionaries are attacking the gods of the heathen world, and
heaping contempt on the religion of others.

But as you have seen proper to defend Jehovah, let us for a
moment examine this deity of the ancient Jews.

There are several tests of character. It may be that all the
virtues can be expressed in the word "kindness," and that nearly
all the vices are gathered together in the word "cruelty."

Laughter is a test of character. When we know what a man
laughs at, we know what he really is. Does he laugh at misfortune,
at poverty, at honesty in rags, at industry without food, at the
agonies of his fellow-men? Does he laugh when he sees the convict
clothed in the garments of shame -- at the criminal on the
scaffold? Does he rub his hands with glee over the embers of an
enemy's home? Think of a man capable of laughing while looking at
Marguerite in the prison cell with her dead babe by her side. What
must be the real character of a God who laughs at the calamities of
his children, mocks at their fears, their desolation, their
distress and anguish? Would an infinitely loving God hold his
ignorant children in derision? Would he pity, or mock? Save, or
destroy? Educate, or exterminate? Would he lead them with gentle
hands toward the light, or lie in wait for them like a wild beast?
Think of the echoes of Jehovah's laughter in the rayless caverns of
the eternal prison. Can a good man mock at the children of
deformity? Will he deride the misshapen? Your Jehovah deformed some
of his own children, and then held them up to scorn and hatred.
These divine mistakes -- these blunders of the infinite -- were not
allowed to enter the temple erected in honor of him who had
dishonored them. Does a kind father mock his deformed child? What
would you think of a mother who would deride and taunt her
misshapen babe?

There is another test. How does a man use power? Is he gentle
or cruel? Does he defend the weak, succor the oppressed, or trample
on the fallen?

If you will read again the twenty-eighth chapter of
Deuteronomy, you will find how Jehovah, the compassionate, whose
name is enshrined in so many hearts, threatened to use his power.

(The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a
fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and
with the sword, and with blasting and mildew. And thy heaven that
is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee
shall be iron. The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and
dust" . . . . And thy carcass shall be meat unto all fowl of the
air and unto the beasts of the earth." . . . . "The Lord shall
smite thee with madness and blindness. And thou shalt eat of the
fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and thy daughters.
The tender and delicate woman among you, . . her eyes shall be evil
. . . toward her young one and toward her children which she shall
bear; for she shall eat them.")

Should it be found that these curses were in fact uttered by
the God of hell, and that the translators had made a mistake in

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attributing them to Jehovah, could you say that the sentiments
expressed are inconsistent with the supposed character of the
Infinite Fiend?

A nation is judged by its laws -- by the punishment it
inflicts. The nation that punishes ordinary offenses with death is
regarded as barbarous, and the nation that tortures before it kills
is denounced as savage.

What can you say of the government of Jehovah, in which death
was the penalty for hundreds of offenses? -- death for the
expression of an honest thought -- death for touching with a good
intention a sacred ark -- death for making hair oil -- for eating
shew bread -- for imitating incense and perfumery?

In the history of the world a more cruel code cannot be found.
Crimes seem to have been invented to gratify a fiendish desire to
shed the blood of men.

There is another test: How does a man treat the animals in his
power -- his faithful horse -- his patient ox -- his loving dog?

How did Jehovah treat the animals in Egypt? Would a loving
God, with fierce hail from heaven, bruise and kill the innocent
cattle for the crimes of their owners? Would he torment, torture
and destroy them for the sins of men?

Jehovah was a God of blood. His altar was adorned with the
horns of a beast. He established a religion in which every temple
was a slaughter-house, and every priest a butcher -- a religion
that demanded the death of the first-born, and delighted in the
destruction of life.

There is still another test: The civilized man gives to others
the rights that he claims for himself. He believes in the liberty
of thought and expression, and abhors persecution for conscience

Did Jehovah believe in the innocence of thought and the
liberty of expression? Kindness is found with true greatness.
Tyranny lodges only in the breast of the small, the narrow, the
shriveled and the selfish. Did Jehovah teach and practice
generosity? Was he a believer in religious liberty? If he was and
is, in fact, God, he must have known, even four thousand years ago,
that worship must be free, and that he who is forced upon his knees
cannot, by any possibility, have the spirit of prayer.

Let me call your attention to a few passages in the thirteenth
chapter of Deuteronomy:

("If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy
daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as
thine own soul, entice you secretly, saying, Let us go and serve
other gods, . . . . thou shalt not consent unto him, nor harken
unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou
spare, neither shalt thou conceal him; but thou shalt surely kill

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him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and
afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him
with stones, that he die.")

Is it possible for you to find in the literature of this world
more awful passages than these? Did ever savagery, with strange and
uncouth marks, with awkward forms of beast and bird, pollute the
dripping walls of caves with such commands? Are these the words of
infinite mercy? When they were uttered, did "righteousness and
peace kiss each other"? How can any loving man or woman "encircle
the name of Jehovah" -- author of these words -- "with profoundest
reverence and love"? Do I rebel because my "constitution is warped,
impaired and dislocated"? Is it because of "total depravity" that
I denounce the brutality of Jehovah? If my heart were only good --
if I loved my neighbor as myself -- would I then see infinite mercy
in these hideous words? Do I lack "reverential calm"?

These frightful passages, like coiled adders, were in the
hearts of Jehovah's chosen people when they crucified "the Sinless

Jehovah did not tell the husband to reason with his wife. She
was to be answered only with death. She was to be bruised and
mangled to a bleeding, shapeless mass of quivering flesh, for
having breathed an honest thought.

If there is anything of importance in this world, it is the
family, the home, the marriage of true souls, the equality of
husband and wife -- the true republicanism of the heart -- the real
democracy of the fireside.

Let us read the sixteenth verse of the third chapter of

(Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow
and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and
thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over you.")

Never will I worship any being who added to the sorrows and
agonies of maternity. Never will of bow to any God who introduced
slavery into every home -- who made the wife a slave and the
husband a tyrant.

The Old Testament shows that Jehovah, like his creators, held
women in contempt. They were regarded as property: "Thou shalt not
covet thy neighbor's wife, -- nor his ox."

Why should a pure woman worship a God who upheld polygamy? Let
us finish this subject: The institution of slavery involves all
crimes. Jehovah was a believer in slavery, This is enough. Why
should any civilized man worship him? Why should his name "be
encircled with love and tenderness in any human heart"?

He believed that man could become the property of man -- that
it was right for his chosen people to deal in human flesh -- to buy
and sell mothers and babes. He taught that the captives were the
property of the captors and directed his chosen people to kill, to
enslave, or to pollute.

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In the presence of these commandments, what becomes of the
fine saying, "Love thy neighbor as thyself"? What shall we say of
a God who established slavery, and then had the effrontery to say,
"Thou shalt not steal"?

It may be insisted that Jehovah is the Father of all -- and
that he has "made of one blood all the nations of the earth." How
then can we account for the wars of extermination? Does not the
commandment "Love thy neighbor as thyself," apply to nations
precisely the same as to individuals? Nations, like individuals,
become great by the practice of virtue. How did Jehovah command his
people to treat their neighbors?

He commanded his generals to destroy all, men, women and
babes: "Thou shalt save nothing alive that breatheth.

("I will make thine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword
shall devour flesh."

"That thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies,
and the tongue of thy dogs in the same.") ". . . I will also send
the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the
dust. . . . ."

"The sword without and terror within shall destroy both the
young man and the virgin, the suckling also, with the man of gray

Is it possible that these words fell from the lips of the Most

You may reply that the inhabitants of Canaan were unfit to
live -- that they were ignorant and cruel. Why did not Jehovah, the
"Father of all," give them the Ten Commandments? Why did he leave
them without a bible, without prophets and priests? Why did he
shower all the blessings of revelation on one poor and wretched
tribe, and leave the great world in ignorance and crime -- and why
did he order his favorite children to murder those whom he had

By the question I asked of Dr. Field, the intention was to
show that Jephthah, when he sacrificed his daughter to Jehovah, was
as much the slave of superstition as is the Hindoo mother when she
throws her babe into the yellow waves of the Ganges.

It seems that this savage Jephthah was in direct communication
with Jehovah at Mizpeh, and that he made a vow unto the Lord and

("If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon
into mine hands, then it shall be that whatsoever cometh forth of
the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the
children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord's, and I will offer it
up as a burnt offering.")

In the first place, it is perfectly clear that the sacrifice
intended was a human sacrifice, from the words: "that whatsoever
cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me," Some human being

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-- wife, daughter, friend, was expected to come. According to the
account, his daughter -- his only daughter -- his only child --
came first.

If Jephthah was in communication with God, why did God allow
this man to make this vow; and why did he allow the daughter that
he loved to be first, and why did he keep silent and allow the vow
to be kept, while flames devoured the daughter's flesh?

St. Paul is not authority. He praises Samuel, the man who
hewed Agag in pieces; David, who compelled hundreds to pass under
the saws and harrows of death, and many others who shed the blood
of the innocent and helpless. Paul is an unsafe guide. He who
commends the brutalities of the past, sows the seeds of future

If "believers are not obliged to approve of the conduct of
Jephthah are they free to condemn the conduct of Jehovah? If you
will read the account you will see that the "spirit of the Lord was
upon Jephthah" when he made the cruel vow. If Paul did not commend
Jephthah for keeping this vow, what was the act that excited his
admiration? Was it because Jephthah slew on the banks of the Jordan
"forty and two thousand" of the sons of Ephraim?

In regard to Abraham, the argument is precisely the same,
except that Jehovah is said to have interfered, and allowed an
animal to be slain instead.

One of the answers given by you is that "it may be allowed
that the narrative is not within our comprehension"; and for that
reason you say that "it behooves us to tread cautiously in
approaching it." Why cautiously?

These stories of Abraham and Jephthah have cost many an
innocent life. Only a few years ago, here in my country, a man by
the name of Freeman, believing that God demanded at least the show
of obedience -- believing what he had read in the Old Testament
that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission," and so
believing, touched with insanity, sacrificed his little girl --
plunged into her innocent breast the dagger, believing it to be
God's will, and thinking that if it were not God's will his hand
would be stayed.

I know of nothing more pathetic than the story of this crime
told by this man.

Nothing can be more monstrous than the conception of a God who
demands sacrifice -- of a God who would ask of a father that he
murder his son -- of a father that he would burn his daughter. It
is far beyond my comprehension how any man ever could have believed
such an infinite, such a cruel absurdity.

At the command of the real God -- if there be one -- I would
not sacrifice my child, I would not murder my wife. But as long as
there are people in the world whose minds are so that they can
believe the stories of Abraham and Jephthah, just so long there
will be men who will take the lives of the ones they love best.

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You have taken the position that the conditions are different;
and you say that: "According to the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve
were placed under a law, not of consciously perceived right and
wrong, but of simple obedience. The tree of which alone they were
forbidden to eat was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil;
duty lay for them in following the command of the Most High, before
and until they became capable of appreciating it by an ethical
standard. Their knowledge was but that of an infant who has just
reached the stage at which he can comprehend that he is ordered to
do this or that, but not the nature of the things so ordered."

If Adam and Eve could not "consciously perceive right and
wrong," how is it possible for you to say that "duty lay for them
in following the command of the Most High"? How can a person
"incapable of perceiving right and wrong" have an idea of duty? You
are driven to say that Adam and Eve had no moral sense. How under
such circumstances could they have the sense of guilt, or of
obligation? And why should such persons be punished? And why should
the whole human race become tainted by the offence of those who had
no moral sense?

Do you intend to be understood as saying that Jehovah allowed
his children to enslave each other because "duty lay for them in
following the command of the Most High"? Was it for this reason
that he caused them to exterminate each other? Do you account for
the severity of his punishments by the fact that the poor creatures
punished were not aware of the enormity of the offenses they had
committed? What shall we say of a God who has one of his children
stoned to death for picking up sticks on Sunday (Saturday), and
allows another to enslave, his fellow-man? Have you discovered any
theory that will account for both of these facts?

Another word as to Abraham -- You defend his willingness to
kill his son because "the estimate of human life at the time was,
different" -- because "the position of the father in the family was
different; its members were regarded as in some sense his
property;" and because "there is every reason to suppose that
around Abraham in the 'land of Moriah' the practice of human
sacrifice as an act of religion was in full vigor."

Let us examine these three excuses: Was Jehovah justified in
putting a low estimate on human life? Was he in earnest when he
said "that whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be
shed"? Did he pander to the barbarian view of the worthlessness of
life? If the estimate of human life was low, what was the sacrifice

Was the son the property of the father? Did Jehovah uphold
this savage view? Had the father the right to sell or kill his

Do you defend Jehovah and Abraham because the ignorant
wretches in the "land of Moriah," knowing nothing of the true God,
cut the throats of their babes "as an act of religion"?

Was Jehovah led away by the example of the Gods of Moriah? Do
you not see that your excuses are simply the suggestions of other

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


You see clearly that the Hindoo mother, when she throws her
babe into the Ganges at the command of her God, "sins against first
principles"; but you excuse Abraham because he lived in the
childhood of the race. Can Jehovah be excused because of his youth?
Not satisfied with your explanation, your defence and excuses, you
take the ground that when Abraham said: "My son, God will provide
a lamb for a burnt offering," he may have "believed implicitly that
a way of rescue would be found for his son." In other words, that
Abraham did not believe that he would be required to shed the blood
of Isaac. So that, after all, the faith of Abraham consisted in
"believing implicitly" that Jehovah was not in earnest.

You have discovered a way by which, as you think, the neck of
orthodoxy can escape the noose of Darwin, and in that connection
you use this remarkable language:

I should reply that the moral history of man, in its principal
stream, has been distinctly an evolution from the first until now."
It is hard to see how this statement agrees with the one in the
beginning of your Remarks, in which you speak of the human
constitution in its "warped, impaired and dislocated" condition.
When you wrote that line you were certainly a theologian -- a
believer in the Episcopal creed -- and your mind, by mere force of
habit, was at that moment contemplating man as he is supposed to
have been created -- perfect in every part. At that time you were
endeavoring to account for the unbelief now in the world, and you
did this by stating that the human constitution is "warped,
impaired and dislocated"; but the moment you are brought face to
face with the great truths uttered by Darwin, you admit "that the
moral history of man has been distinctly an evolution from the
first until now." Is not this a fountain that brings forth sweet
and bitter waters?

I insist, that the discoveries of Darwin do away absolutely
with the inspiration of the Scriptures -- with the account of
creation in Genesis, and demonstrate not simply the falsity, not
simply the wickedness, but the foolishness of the "sacred volume,"
There is nothing in Darwin to show that all has been evolved from
"primal night and from chaos." There is no evidence of "primal
night." There is no proof of universal chaos. Did your Jehovah
spend an eternity in "primal night," with no companion but chaos.

It makes no difference how long a lower form may require to
reach a higher. It makes no difference whether forms can be amply
modified or absolutely changed. These facts have not the slightest
tendency to throw the slightest light on the beginning or on the
destiny of things.

I most cheerfully admit that gods have the right to create
swiftly or slowly. The reptile may become a bird in one day, or in
a thousand billion years -- this fact has nothing to do with the
existence or non-existence of a first cause, but it has something
to do with the truth of the Bible, and with the existence of a
personal God of infinite power and wisdom.

Does not a gradual improvement in the thing created show a
corresponding improvement in the creator? The church demonstrated
the falsity and folly of Darwin's theories by showing that they

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contradicted the Mosaic account of creation, and now the theories
of Darwin having been fairly established, the church says that the
Mosaic account is true, because it is in harmony with Darwin, Now,
if it should turn out that Darwin was mistaken, what then?

To me it is somewhat difficult to understand the mental
processes of one who really feels that "the gap between man and the
inferior animals or their relationship was stated, perhaps, even
more emphatically by Bishop Butler than by Darwin."

Butler answered deists, who objected to the cruelties of the
Bible, and yet lauded the God of Nature by showing that the God of
Nature is as cruel as the God of the Bible. That is to say, he
succeeded in showing that both Gods are bad. He had no possible
conception of the splendid generalizations of Darwin -- the great
truths that have revolutionized the thought of the world.

But there was one question asked by Bishop Butler that throws
a flame of light upon the probable origin of most, if not all,
religions: "Why might not whole communities and public bodies be
seized with fits of insanity as well as individuals?"

If you are convinced that Moses and Darwin are in exact
accord, will you be good enough to tell who, in your judgment, were
the parents of Adam and Eve? Do you find in Darwin any theory that
satisfactorily accounts for the "inspired fact" that a Rib,
commencing with Monogenic Propagation -- falling into halves by a
contraction in the middle -- reaching, after many ages of
Evolution, the Amphigonic stage, and then, by the Survival of the
Fittest, assisted by Natural Selection, molded and modified by
Environment, became at last, the mother of the human race?

Here is a world in which there are countless varieties of life
-- these varieties in all probability related to each other -- all
living upon each other -- everything devouring something, and in
its turn devoured by something else -- everywhere claw and beak,
hoof and tooth, -- everything seeking the life of something else --
every drop of water a battle-field, every atom being for some wild
beast a jungle -- every place a golgotha -- and such a world is
declared to be the work of the infinitely wise and compassionate.

According to your idea, Jehovah prepared a home for his
children -- first a garden in which they should be tempted and from
which they should be driven; then a world filled with briers and
thorns and wild and poisonous beasts -- a world in which the air
should be filled with the enemies of human life -- a world in which
disease should be contagious, and in which it was impossible to
tell, except by actual experiment, the poisonous from the
nutritious. And these children were allowed to live in dens and
holes and fight their way against monstrous serpents and crouching
beasts -- were allowed to live in ignorance and fear -- to have
false ideas of this good and loving God -- ideas so false, that
they made of him a fiend -- ideas so false, that they sacrificed
their wives and babes to appease the imaginary wrath of this
monster. And this God gave to different nations different ideas of
himself, knowing that in consequence of that these nations would
meet upon countless fields of death and drain each other's veins.

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


Would it not have been better had the world been so that
parents would transmit only their virtues -- only their
perfections, physical and mental, -- allowing their diseases and
their vices to perish with them?

In my reply to Dr. Field I had asked: Why should God demand a
sacrifice from man? Why should the infinite ask anything from the
finite? Should the sun beg from the glowworm, and should the
momentary spark excite the envy of the source of light?

Upon which you remark, "that if the infinite is to make no
demands upon the finite, by parity of reasoning, the great and
strong should scarcely make them on the weak and small."

Can this be called reasoning? Why should the infinite demand
a sacrifice from man? In the first place, the infinite is
conditionless -- the infinite cannot want -- the infinite has. A
conditioned being may want; but the gratification of a want
involves a change of condition. If God be conditionless, he can
have no wants -- consequently, no human being can gratify the

But you insist that "if the infinite is to make no demands
upon the finite, by parity of reasoning, the great and strong
should scarcely make them on the weak and small."

The great have wants. The strong are often in need, in peril,
and the great and strong often need the services of the small and
weak. It was the mouse that freed the lion. England is a great and
powerful nation -- yet she may need the assistance of the weakest
of her citizens. The world is filled with illustrations.

Your lack of logic is in this: The infinite cannot want
anything; the strong and the great may, and as a fact always do.
The great and the strong cannot help the infinite -- they can help
the small and the weak, and the small and the weak can often help
the great and strong.

You ask: "Why then should the father make demands of love,
obedience. and sacrifice from his young child?"

No sensible father ever demanded love from his child. Every
civilized father knows that love rises like the perfume from a
flower. You cannot command it by simple authority. It cannot obey.
A father demands obedience from a child for the good of the child
and for the good of himself. But suppose the father to be infinite
-- why should the child sacrifice anything for him?

But it may be that you answer all these questions, all these
difficulties, by admitting, as you have in your Remarks, "that
these problems are insoluble by our understanding."

Why, then, do you accept them? Why do you defend that which
you cannot understand? Why does your reason volunteer as a soldier
under the flag of the incomprehensible?

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


I asked of Dr. Field, and of ask again, this question: Why
should an infinitely wise and powerful God destroy the good and
preserve the vile?

What do I mean by this question? Simply this: The earthquake,
the lightning, the pestilence, are no respecters of persons. The
vile are not always destroyed, the good are not always saved. I
asked: Why should God treat all alike in this world, and in another
make an infinite difference? This, I suppose, is "insoluble to our

Why should Jehovah allow his worshipers, his adorers, to be
destroyed by his enemies? Can you by any possibility answer this

You may account for all these inconsistencies, these cruel
contradictions, as John Wesley accounted for earthquakes when he
insisted that they were produced by the wickedness of men, and that
the only way to prevent them was for everybody to believe on the
Lord Jesus Christ. And you may have some way of showing that Mr.
Wesley's idea is entirely consistent with the theories of Mr.

You seem to think that as long as there is more goodness than
evil in the world -- as long as there is more joy than sadness --
we are compelled to infer that the author of the world is
infinitely good, powerful, and wise, and that as long as a majority
are out of gutters and prisons, the "divine scheme" is a success.

According to this system of logic, if there were a few more
unfortunates -- if there was just a little more evil than good --
then we would be driven to acknowledge that the world was created
by an infinitely malevolent being.

As a matter of fact, the history of the world has been such
that not only your theologians but your apostles, and not only your
apostles but your prophets, and not only your prophets but your
Jehovah, have all been forced to account for the evil, the
injustice and the suffering, by the wickedness of man, the natural
depravity of the human heart and the wiles and machinations of a
malevolent being second only in power to Jehovah himself.

Again and again you have called me to account for "mere
suggestions and assertions without proof"; and yet your remarks are
filled with assertions and mere suggestions without proof.

You admit that "great believers are not able to explain the
inequalities of adjustment between human beings and the conditions
in which they have been set down to work out their destiny."

How do you know "that they have been set down to work out
their destiny"? If that was, and is, the purpose, then the being
who settled the "destiny," and the means by which it was to be
"worked out," is responsible for all that happens.

And is this the end of your argument, "That you are not able
to explain the inequalities of adjustment between human beings"? Is
the solution of this problem beyond your power? Does the Bible shed

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


no light? Is the Christian in the presence of this question as dumb
as the agnostic? When the injustice of this world is so flagrant
that you cannot harmonize that awful fact with the wisdom and
goodness of an infinite God, do you not see that you have
surrendered, or at least that you have raised a flag of truce
beneath which your adversary accepts as final your statement that
you do not know and that your imagination is not sufficient to
frame an excuse for God?

It gave me great pleasure to find that at last even you have
been driven to say that: "it is a duty incumbent upon us
respectively according to our means and opportunities, to decide by
the use of the faculty of reason given us, the great questions of
natural and revealed religion."

You admit "that I am to decide for myself, by the use of my
reason," whether the Bible is the word of God or not -- whether
there is any revealed religion -- and whether there be or be not an
infinite being who created and who governs this world.

You also admit that we are to decide these questions according
to the balance of the evidence.

Is this in accordance with the doctrine of Jehovah? Did
Jehovah say to the husband that if his wife became convinced,
according to her means and her opportunities, and decided according
to her reason, that it was better to worship some other God than
Jehovah, then that he was to say to her: "You are entitled to
decide according to the balance of the evidence as it seems to

Have you abandoned Jehovah? Is man more just than he? Have you
appealed from him to the standard of reason? Is it possible that
the leader of the English Liberals is nearer civilized than

Do you know that in this sentence you demonstrate the
existence of a dawn in your mind? This sentence makes it certain
that in the East of the midnight of Episcopal superstition there is
the herald of the coming day. And if this sentence shows a dawn,
what shall I say of the next:

"We are not entitled, either for or against belief, to set up
in this province any rule of investigation except such as common
sense teaches us to use in the ordinary conduct of life"?

This certainly is a morning star. Let me take this statement,
let me hold it as a torch, and by its light I beg of you to read
the Bible once again.

Is it in accordance with reason that an infinitely good and
loving God would drown a world that he had taken no means to
civilize -- to whom he had given no bible, no gospel, -- taught no
scientific fact and in which the seeds of art had not been sown;
that he would create a world that ought to be drowned? That a being
of infinite wisdom would create a rival, knowing that the rival
would fill perdition with countless souls destined to suffer

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eternal pain? Is it according to common sense that an infinitely
good God would order some of his children to kill others? That he
would command soldiers to rip open with the sword of war the bodies
of women -- wreaking vengeance on babes unborn? Is it according to
reason that a good, loving, compassionate, and just God would
establish slavery among men, and that a pure God would uphold
polygamy? Is it according to common sense that he who wished to
make men merciful and loving would demand the sacrifice of animals,
so that his altars would be wet with the blood of oxen, sheep, and
doves? Is it according to reason that a good God would inflict
tortures upon his ignorant children -- that he would torture
animals to death -- and is it in accordance with common sense and
reason that this God would create countless billions of people
knowing that they would be eternally damned?

What is common sense? Is it the result of observation, reason
and experience, or is it the child of credulity?

There is this curious fact: The far past and the far future
seem to belong to the miraculous and the monstrous. The present, as
a rule, is the realm of common sense. If you say to a man:
"Eighteen hundred years ago the dead were raised," he will reply:
"Yes, I know that." And if you say: "A hundred thousand years from
now all the dead will be raised," he will probably reply: "I
presume so." But if you tell him: "I saw a dead man raised to-day,"
he will ask, "From what madhouse have you escaped?"

The moment we decide "according to reason," "according to the
balance of evidence," we are charged with "having violated the laws
of social morality and decency," and the defender of the miraculous
and the incomprehensible takes another position.

The theologian has a city of refuge to which he flies -- an
old breastwork behind which he kneels -- a riffle-pit into which he
crawls. You have described this city, this breastwork, this rifle-
pit and also the leaf under which the ostrich of theology thrusts
its head. Let me quote:

"Our demands for evidence must be limited by the general
reason of the case. Does that general reason of the case make it
probable that a finite being, with a finite place in a
comprehensive scheme devised and administered by a being who is
infinite, would be able even to embrace within his view, or rightly
to appreciate all the motives or aims that there may have been in
the mind of the divine disposer?"

And this is what you call "deciding by the use of the faculty
of reason," "according to the evidence," or at least "according to
the balance of evidence." This is a conclusion reached by a "rule
of investigation such as common sense teaches us to use in the
ordinary conduct of life" Will you have the kindness to explain
what it is to act contrary to evidence, or contrary to common
sense? Can you imagine a superstition so gross that it cannot be
defended by that argument?

Nothing, it seems to me, could have been easier than for
Jehovah to have reasonably explained his scheme. You may answer
that the human intellect is not sufficient to understand the

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


explanation. Why then do not theologians stop explaining? Why do
they feel it incumbent upon them to explain that which they admit
God would have explained had the human mind been capable of
understanding it?

How much better would it have been if Jehovah had said a few
things on these subjects. It always seemed wonderful to me that he
spent several days and nights on Mount Sinai explaining to Moses
how he could detect the presence of leprosy, without once thinking
to give him a prescription for its cure.

There were thousands and thousands of opportunities for this
God to withdraw from these questions the shadow and the cloud. When
Jehovah out of the whirlwind asked questions of Job, how much
better it would have been if Job had asked and Jehovah had

You say that we should be governed by evidence and by common
sense. Then you tell us that the questions are beyond the reach of
reason, and with which common sense has nothing to do. If we then
ask for an explanation, you reply in the scornful challenge of

You seem to imagine that every man who gives an opinion, takes
his solemn oath that the opinion is the absolute end of all
investigation on that subject.

In my opinion, Shakespeare was, intellectually, the greatest
of the human race, and my intention was simply to express that
view. It never occurred to me that any one would suppose that I
thought Shakespeare a greater actor than Garrick, a more wonderful
composer than Wagner, a better violinist than Remenyi, or a heavier
man than Daniel Lambert. It is to be regretted that you were misled
by my words and really supposed that I intended to say that
Shakespeare was a greater general than Caesar. But, after all, your
criticism has no possible bearing on the point at issue. Is it an
effort to avoid that which cannot he met? The real question is
this: If we cannot account for Christ without a miracle, how can we
account for Shakespeare? Dr. Field took the ground that Christ
himself was a miracle; that it was impossible to account for such
a being in any natural way; and, guided by common sense, guided by
the rule of investigation such as common sense teaches, I called
attention to Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, and Shakespeare.

In another place in your Remarks, when my statement about
Shakespeare was not in your mind, you say; "All is done by steps --
nothing by strides, leaps or bounds -- all from protoplasm up to
Shakespeare." Why did you end the series with Shakespeare? Did you
intend to say Dante, or Bishop Butler?

It is curious to see how much ingenuity a great man exercises
when guided by what he calls "the rule of investigation as
suggested by common sense." I pointed out some things that Christ
did not teach -- among others, that he said nothing with regard to
the family relation, nothing against slavery, nothing about
education, nothing as to the rights and duties of nations, nothing

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


as to any scientific truth. And this is answered by saying that "I
am quite able to point out the way in which the Savior of the world
might have been much greater as a teacher than he actually was."

Is this an answer, or is it simply taking refuge behind a
name? Would it not have been better if Christ had told his
disciples that they must not persecute; that they had no right to
destroy their fellow-men; that they must not put heretics in
dungeons, or destroy them with flames: that they must not invent
and use instruments of torture; that they must not appeal to
brutality, nor endeavor to sow with bloody hands the seeds of
peace? Would it not have been far better had he said: "I come not
to bring a sword, but peace"? Would not this have saved countless
cruelties and countless lives?

You seem to think that you have fully answered my objection
when you say that Christ taught the absolute indissolubility of

Why should a husband and wife be compelled to live with each
other after love is dead? Why should the wife still be bound in
indissoluble chains to a husband who is cruel, infamous, and false?
Why should her life be destroyed because of his? Why should she be
chained to a criminal and an outcast? Nothing can he more
unphilosophic than this. Why fill the world with the children of
indifference and hatred?

The marriage contract is the most important, the most sacred,
that human beings can make. It will be sacredly kept by good men
and by good women. But if a loving woman -- tender, noble, and true
-- makes this contract with a man whom she believed to be worthy of
all respect and love, and who is found to be a cruel, worthless
wretch, why should her life be lost?

Do you not know that the indissolubility of the marriage
contract leads to its violation, forms an excuse for immorality,
eats out the very heart of truth, and gives to vice that which
alone belongs to love?

But in order that you may know why the objection was raised,
I call your attention to the fact that Christ offered a reward, not
only in this world but in another, to any husband who would desert
his wife. And do you know that this hideous offer caused millions
to desert their wives and children?

Theologians have the habit of using names instead of arguments
-- of appealing to some man, great in some direction, to establish
their creed; but we all know that no man is great enough to be an
authority, except in that particular domain in which he won his
eminence; and we all know that great men are not great in all
directions. Bacon died a believer in the Ptolemaic system of
astronomy. Tycho Brahe kept an imbecile in his service, putting
down with great care the words that fell from the hanging lip of
idiocy, and then endeavored to put them together in a way to form
prophecies. Sir Matthew Hale believed in witchcraft not only, but
in its lowest and most vulgar forms; and some of the greatest men
of antiquity examined the entrails of birds to find the secrets of
the future.

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


It has always seemed to me that reasons are better than names.

After taking the ground that Christ could not have been a
greater teacher than he actually was, you ask: "Where would have
been the wisdom of delivering to an uninstructed population of a
particular age a codified religion which was to serve for all
nations, all ages, all states of civilization?"

Does not this question admit that the teachings of Christ will
not serve for all nations, all ages and all states of civilization?

But let me ask: If it was necessary for Christ "to deliver to
an uninstructed population of a particular age a certain religion
suited only for that particular age, "why should a civilized and
scientific age eighteen hundred years afterwards be absolutely
bound by that religion? Do you not see that your position cannot be
defended, and that you have provided no way for retreat? If the
religion of Christ was for that age, is it for this? Are you
willing to admit that the Ten Commandments are not for all time?
If, then, four thousand years before Christ, commandments were
given not simply for "an uninstructed population of a particular
age, but for all time," can you give a reason why the religion of
Christ should not have been of the same character?

In the first place you say that God has revealed himself to
the world -- that he has revealed a religion; and in the next
place, that "he has not revealed a perfect religion, for the reason
that no room would be left for the career of human thought."

Why did not God reveal this imperfect religion to all people
instead of to a small and insignificant tribe, a tribe without
commerce and without influence among the nations of the world? Why
did he hide this imperfect light under a bushel? If the light was
necessary for one, was it not necessary for all? And why did he
drown a world to whom he had not even given that light? According
to your reasoning, would there not have been left greater room for
the career of human thought, had no revelation been made?

You say that "you have known a person who after studying the
old classical or Olympian religion for a third part of a century,
at length began to hope that he had some partial comprehension of
it -- some inkling of what is meant." You say this for the purpose
of showing how impossible it is to understand the Bible. If it is
so difficult, why do you call it a revelation? And yet, according
to your creed, the man who does not understand the revelation and
believe it, or who does not believe it, whether he understands it
or not, is to reap the harvest of everlasting pain. Ought not the
revelation to be revealed?

In order to escape from the fact that Christ denounced the
chosen people of God as "a generation of vipers" and as "whited
sepulchris," you take the ground that the scribes and pharisees
were not the chosen people. Of what blood were they? It will not do
to say that they were not the people. Can you deny that Christ
addressed the chosen people when he said: "Jerusalem, which killest
the prophets and stonest them that are sent unto thee"?

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You have called me to an account for what I said in regard to
Ananias and Sapphira. First, I am charged with having said that the
apostles conceived the idea of having all things in common, and you
denounce this as an interpolation; second, "that motives of
prudence are stated as a matter of fact to have influenced the
offending couple" -- and this is charged as an interpolation; and,
third, that I stated that the apostles sent for the wife of Ananias
-- and this is characterized as a pure invention.

To me it seems reasonable to suppose that the idea of having
all things in common was conceived by those who had nothing, or had
the least, and not by those who had plenty. In the last verses of
the fourth chapter of the Acts, you will find this:

("Neither was there any among them that lacked, for as many as
were possessed of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices
of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles'
feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had
need. And Joses, who by the epistles was surnamed Barnabas (which
is, being interpreted, the son of consolation), a Levite and of the
country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and
laid it at the apostles' feet.")

Now it occurred to me that the idea was in all probability
suggested by the men at whose feet the property was laid. It never
entered my mind that the idea originated with those who had land
for sale. There may be a different standard by which human nature
is measured in your country, than in mine; but if the thing had
happened in the United States, I feel absolutely positive that it
would have been at the suggestion of the apostles.

("Ananias with Sapphira, his wife, sold a possession and kept
back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and
brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet.")

In my Letter to Dr. Field I stated -- not at the time
pretending to quote from the New Testament -- that Ananias and
Sapphira, after talking the matter over, not being entirely
satisfied with the collaterals, probably concluded to keep a little
-- just enough to keep them from starvation if the good and pious
bankers should abscond. It never occurred to me that any man would
imagine that this was a quotation, and I feel like asking your
pardon for having led you into this error. We are informed in the
Bible that "they kept back a part of the price." It occurred to me,
"judging by the rule of investigation according to common sense,"
that there was a reason for this, and I could think of no reason
except that they did not care to trust the apostles with all, and
that they kept back just a little, thinking it might be useful if
the rest should be lost.

According to the account, after Peter had made a few remarks
to Ananias;

("Ananias fell down and gave up the ghost: . . . . and the
young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not
knowing what was done, came in.")

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Whereupon Peter said:

("'Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much?' And she
said, 'Yea, for so much.' Then Peter said unto her, 'How is it that
ye have agreed together to tempt the spirit of the Lord? Behold,
the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and
shall carry thee out.' Then she fell down straight-way at his feet,
and yielded up the ghost; and the young men came in, and found her
dead, and carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.")

The only objection found to this is, that I inferred that the
apostles had sent for her. Sending for her was not the offence. The
failure to tell her what had happened to her husband was the
offence -- keeping his fate a secret from her in order that she
might be caught in the same net that had been set for her husband
by Jehovah. This was the offence. This was the mean and cruel thing
to which I objected. Have you answered that?

Of course, I feel sure that the thing never occurred -- the
Probability being that Ananias and Sapphira never lived and never
died. It is probably a story invented by the early church to make
the collection of subscriptions somewhat easier.

And yet, we find a man in the nineteenth century, foremost of
his fellow-citizens in the affairs of a great nation, upholding
this barbaric view of God.

Let me beg of you to use your reason "according to the rule
suggested by common sense." Let us do what little we can to rescue
the reputation, even of a Jewish myth, from the calumnies of
Ignorance and Fear.

So, again, I am charged with having given certain words as a
quotation from the Bible in which two passages are combined --
"They who believe and are baptized shall be saved, and they who
believe not shall be damned. And these shall go away into
everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels."

They were given as two passages. No one for a moment supposed
that they would be read together as one, and no one imagined that
any one in answering the argument would be led to believe that they
were intended as one. Neither was there in this the slightest
negligence, as I was answering a man who is perfectly familiar with
the Bible. The objection was too small to make. It is hardly large
enough to answer -- and had it not been made by you it would not
have been answered.

You are not satisfied with what I have said upon the subject
of immortality. What I said was this: The idea of immortality, that
like a sea has ebbed and flowed in the human heart, with its
countless waves of hope and fear beating against the shores and
rocks of time and fate, was not born of any book, nor of any creed,
nor of any religion. It was born of human affection, and it will
continue to ebb and flow beneath the mists and clouds of doubt and
darkness as long as love kisses the lips of death.

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


You answer this by saying that "the Egyptians were believers
in immortality, but were not a people of high intellectual

How such a statement tends to answer what I have said, is
beyond my powers of discernment. Is there the slightest connection
between my statement and your objection?

You make still another answer, and say that "the ancient
Greeks were a race of perhaps unparalled intellectual capacity, and
that notwithstanding that, the most powerful mind of the Greek
philosophy, that of Aristotle, had no clear conception of a
personal existence in a future state." May I be allowed to ask this
simple question: Who has?

Are you urging an objection to the dogma of immortality, when
you say that a race of unparalled intellectual capacity had no
confidence in it? Is that a doctrine believed only by people who
lack intellectual capacity? I stated that the idea of immortality
was born of love. You reply, "the Egyptians believed it, but they
were not intellectual." Is not this a non sequitur? The question
is: Were they a loving people?

Does history show that there is a moral governor of the world?
What witnesses shall we call? The billions of slaves who were paid
with blows? -- the countless mothers whose babes were sold? Have we
time to examine the Waldenses, the Covenanters of Scotland, the
Catholics of Ireland, the victims of St. Bartholomew, of the
Spanish Inquisition, all those who have died in flames? Shall we
hear the story of Bruno? Shall we ask Servetus? Shall we ask the
millions slaughtered by Christian swords in America -- all the
victims of ambition, of perjury, of ignorance, of superstition and
revenge, of storm and earthquake, of famine, flood and fire?

Can all the agonies and crimes, can all the inequalities of
the world be answered by reading the "noble Psalm" in which are
found the words: "Call upon me in the day of trouble, so I will
hear thee, and thou shalt praise me"? Do you prove the truth of
these fine words, this honey of Trebizond, by the victims of
religious persecution? Shall we hear the sighs and sobs of Siberia?

Another thing. Why should you, from the page of Greek history,
with the sponge of your judgment, wipe out all names but one, and
tell us that the most powerful mind of the Greek philosophy was
that of Aristotle? How did you ascertain this fact? Is it not fair
to suppose that you merely intended to say that, according to your
view, Aristotle had the most powerful mind among all the
philosophers of Greece? I should not call attention to this, except
for your criticism on a like remark of mine as to the intellectual
superiority of Shakespeare. But if you knew the trouble I have had
in finding out your meaning, from your words, you would pardon me
for calling attention to a single line from Aristotle: "Clearness
is the virtue of style."

To me Epicures seems far greater than Aristotle. He had
clearer vision. His cheek was closer to the breast of nature, and
he planted his philosophy nearer to the bed-rock of fact. He was

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practical enough to know that virtue is the means and happiness the
end; that the highest philosophy is the art of living. He was wise
enough to say that nothing is of the slightest value to man that
does not increase or preserve his well being, and he was great
enough to know and courageous enough to declare that all the gods
and ghosts were monstrous phantoms born of ignorance and fear.

I still insist that human affection is the foundation of the
idea of immortality; that love was the first to speak that word, no
matter whether they who spoke it were savage or civilized, Egyptian
or Greek. But if we are immortal -- if there be another world --
why was it not clearly set forth in the Old Testament? Certainly,
the authors of that book had an opportunity to learn it from the
Egyptians. Why was it not revealed by Jehovah? Why did he waste his
time in giving orders for the consecration of priests -- in saying
that they must have sheep's blood put on their right ears and on
their right thumbs and on their right big toes? Could a God with
any sense of humor give such directions, or watch without huge
laughter the performance of such a ceremony? In order to see the
beauty, the depth and tenderness of such a consecration, is it
essential to be in a state of "reverential calm"?

Is it not strange that Christ did not tell of another world
distinctly, clearly, without parable, and without the mist of

The fact is that the Hindoos, the Egyptians, the Greeks, and
the Romans taught the immortality of the soul, not as a glittering
guess -- a possible perhaps -- but as a clear and demonstrated
truth for many centuries before the birth of Christ.

If the Old Testament proves anything, it is that death ends
all. And the New Testament, by basing immortality on the
resurrection of the body, but "keeps the word of promise to our ear
and breaks it to our hope."

In my Reply to Dr. Field, I said: "The truth is, that no one
can justly be held responsible for his thoughts. The brain thinks
without asking our consent; we believe, or disbelieve, without an
effort of the will. Belief is a result. It is the effect of
evidence upon the mind. The scales turn in spite of him who
watches. There is no opportunity of being honest or dishonest in
the formation of an opinion. The conclusion is entirely independent
of desire. We must believe, or we must doubt, in spite of what we

Does, the brain think without our consent? Can we control our
thought? Can we tell what we are going to think tomorrow?

Can we stop thinking?

Is belief the result of that which to us is evidence, or is it
a product of the will? Can the scales in which reason weighs
evidence be turned by the will? Why then should evidence be
weighed? If it all depends on the will, what is evidence? Is there
any opportunity of being dishonest in the formation of an opinion?
Must not the man who forms the opinion know what it is? He cannot

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


knowingly cheat himself. He cannot be deceived with dice that he
loads. He cannot play unfairly at solitaire without knowing that he
has lost the game. He cannot knowingly weigh with false scales and
believe in the correctness of the result.

You have not even attempted to answer my arguments upon these
points, but you have unconsciously avoided them. You did not attack
the citadel. In military parlance, you proceeded to "shell the
woods." The noise is precisely the same as though every shot had
been directed against the enemy's position, but the result is not.
You do not seem willing to implicitly trust the correctness of your
aim. You prefer to place the target after the shot.

The question is whether the will knowingly can change
evidence, and whether there is any opportunity of being dishonest
ln the formation of an opinion. You have changed the issue. You
have erased the word formation and interpolated the word

Let us suppose that a man has given an opinion, knowing that
it is not based on any fact. Can you say that he has given his
opinion? The moment a prejudice is known to be a prejudice, it
disappears. Ignorance is the soil in which prejudice must grow.
Touched by a ray of light, it dies. The judgment of man may he
warped by prejudice and passion, but it cannot be consciously
warped. It is impossible for any man to be influenced by a known
prejudice, because a known prejudice cannot exist.

I am not contending that all opinions have been honestly
expressed. What I contend is that when a dishonest opinion has been
expressed it is not the opinion that was formed.

The cases suggested by you are not in point. Fathers are
honestly swayed, if really swayed, by love; and queens and judges
have pretended to be swayed by the highest motives, by the clearest
evidence, in order that they might kill rivals, reap rewards, and
gratify revenge. But what has all this to do with the fact that he
who watches the scales in which evidence is weighed knows the
actual result?

Let us examine your case: If a father is consciously swayed by
his love for his son, and for that reason says that his son is
innocent, then he has not expressed his opinion. If he is
unconsciously swayed and says that his son is innocent, then he has
expressed his opinion. In both instances his opinion was
independent of his will; but in the first instance he did not
express his opinion. You will certainly see this distinction
between the formation and the expression of an opinion.

The same argument applies to the man who consciously has a
desire to condemn. Such a conscious desire cannot affect the
testimony -- cannot affect the opinion. Queen Elizabeth undoubtedly
desired the death of Mary Stuart, but this conscious desire could
not have been the foundation on which rested Elizabeth's opinion as
to the guilt or innocence of her rival. It is barely possible that
Elizabeth did not express her real opinion. Do you believe that the
English judges in the matter of the Popish Plot gave judgment in

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


accordance with their opinions? Are you satisfied that Napoleon
expressed his real opinion when he justified himself for the
assassination of the Buc d'Enghien?

If you answer these questions in the affirmative, you admit
that I am right. If you answer in the negative, you admit that you
are wrong. The moment you admit that the opinion formed cannot be
changed by expressing a pretended opinion, your argument is turned
against yourself.

It is admitted that prejudice strengthens, weakens and colors
evidence; but prejudice is honest. And when one acts knowingly
against the evidence, that is not by reason of prejudice.

According to my views of propriety, it would be unbecoming for
me to say that your argument on these questions is "a piece of
plausible shallowness." Such language might be regarded as lacking
"reverential calm," and I therefore refrain from even
characterizing it as plausible.

Is it not perfectly apparent that you have changed the issue,
and that instead of showing that opinions are creatures of the
will, you have discussed the quality of actions? What have corrupt
and cruel judgments pronounced by corrupt and cruel judges to do
with their real opinions? When a judge forms one opinion and render
another he is called corrupt. The corruption does not consist in
forming his opinion, but in rendering one that he did not form.
Does a dishonest creditor, who incorrectly adds a number of items
making the aggregate too large, necessarily change his opinion as
to the relations of numbers? When an error is known, it is not a
mistake; but a conclusion reached by a mistake, or by a prejudice,
or by both, is a necessary conclusion. He who pretends to come to
a conclusion by a mistake which he knows is not a mistake, knows
that he has not expressed his real opinion.

Can any thing be more illogical than the assertion that
because a boy reaches, through negligence in adding figures, a
wrong result, that he is accountable for his opinion of the result?
If he knew he was negligent, what must his opinion of the result
have been?

So with the man who boldly announces that he has discovered
the numerical expression of the relation sustained by the diameter
to the circumference of a circle. If he is honest in the
announcement, then the announcement was caused not by his will but
by his ignorance. His will cannot make the announcement true, and
he could not by any possibility have supposed that his will could
affect the correctness of his announcement. The will of one who
thinks that he has invented or discovered what is called perpetual
motion, is not at fault. The man, if honest, has been misled; if
not honest, he endeavors to mislead others. There is prejudice, and
prejudice does raise a clamor, and the intellect is affected, and
the judgment is darkened and the opinion is deformed; but the
prejudice is real and the clamor is sincere and the judgment is
upright and the opinion is honest.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


The intellect is not always supreme. It is surrounded by
clouds. It sometimes sits in darkness. It is often misled,
sometimes in superstitious fear it abdicates. It is not always a
white light. The passions and prejudices are prismatic -- they
color thoughts. Besides betray the judgment and cunningly mislead
the will.

You seem to think that the fact of responsibility is in danger
unless it rests upon the will, and this will you regard as
something without a cause, springing into being in some mysterious
why, without father or mother, without seed or soil, or rain or
light. You must admit that man is a conditioned being -- that he
has wants, objects, ends, and aims, and that these are gratified
and attained only by the use of means. Do not these wants and these
objects have something to do with the will, and does not the
intellect have something to do with the means? Is not the will a
product? Independently of conditions, can it exist? Is it not
necessarily produced? Behind every wish and thought, every dream
and fancy, every fear and hope, are there not countless causes? Man
feels shame. What does this prove? He pities himself. What does
this demonstrate?

The dark continent of motive and desire has never been
explored. In the brain, that wondrous world with one inhabitant,
there are recesses dim and dark, treacherous sands and dangerous
shores, where seeming sirens tempt and fade; streams that rise in
unknown lands from hidden springs, strange seas with ebb and flow
of tides, resistless billows urged by storms of flame, profound and
awful depths hidden by mist of dreams, obscure and phantom realms
where vague and fearful things are half revealed, jungles where
passion's tigers crouch, and skies of cloud and blue where fancies
fly with painted wings that dazzle and mislead; and the poor
sovereign of this pictured world is led by old desires and ancient
hates, and stained by crimes of many vanished years, and pushed by
hands that long ago were dust, until he feels like some bewildered
slave that Mockery has throned and crowned.

No one pretends that the mind of man is perfect -- that it is
not affected by desires, colored by hopes, weakened by fears,
deformed by ignorance and distorted by superstition. But all this
has nothing to do with the innocence of opinion.

It may be that the Thugs were taught that murder is innocent;
but did the teachers believe what they taught? Did the pupils
believe the teachers? Did not Jehovah teach that the act that we
describe as murder was a duty? Were not his teachings practiced by
Moses and Joshua and Jephthah and Samuel and David? Were they
honest? But what has all this to do with the point at issue?

Society has the right to protect itself, even from honest
murderers and conscientious thieves. The belief of the criminal
does not disarm society; it protects itself from him as from a
poisonous serpent, or from a beast that lives on human flesh. We
are under no obligation to stand stili and allow ourselves to he
murdered by one who honestly thinks that it is his duty to take our
lives. And yet according to your argument, we have no right to

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


defend ourselves from honest Thugs. Was Saul of Tarsus a Thug when
he persecuted Christians "even unto strange cities"? Is the Thug of
India more ferocious than Torquemada, the Thug of Spain?

If belief depends upon the will, can all men have correct
opinions who will to have them? Acts are good or bad, according to
their consequences. and not according to the intentions of the
actors. Honest opinions may be wrong, and opinions dishonestly
expressed may be right.

Do you mean to say that because passion and prejudice, the
reckless "pilots 'twixt the dangerous shores of will and judgment,"
sway the mind, that the opinions which you have expressed in your
Remarks to me are not your opinions? Certainly you will admit that
in all probability you have prejudices and passions, and if so, can
the opinions that you have expressed, according to your argument,
be honest? My lack of confidence in your argument gives me perfect
confidence in your candor. You may remember the philosopher who
retained his reputation for veracity, in spite of the fact that he
kept saying: "There is no truth in man."

Are only those opinions honest that are formed without any
interference of passion, affection, habit or fancy? What would the
opinion of a man without passions, affections, or fancies be worth?
The alchemist gave up his search for an universal solvent upon
being asked in what kind of vessel he expected to keep it when

It may be admitted that Biel "shows us how the life of Dante
co-operated with his extraordinary natural gifts and capabilities
to make him what he was," but does this tend to show that Dante
changed his opinions by an act of his will, or that he reached
honest opinions by knowingly using false weights and measures?

You must admit that the opinions, habits and religions of men
depend, at least in some degree, on race, occupation, training and
capacity. Is not every thoughtful man compelled to agree with Edgar
Fawcett, in whose brain are united the beauty of the poet and the
subtlety of the logician,

("Who sees how vice her venom wreaks
On the frail babe before it speaks,
And how heredity enslaves
With ghostly hands that reach from graves"?)

Why do you hold the intellect criminally responsible for
opinions, when you admit that it is controlled by the will? And why
do you hold the will responsible, when you insist that it is swayed
by the passions and affections? But all this has nothing to do with
the fact that every opinion has been honestly formed, whether
honestly expressed or not.

No one pretends that all governments have been honestly formed
and honestly administered. All vices, and some virtues are
represented in most nations. In my opinion a republic is far better
than a monarchy. The legally expressed will of the people is the
only rightful sovereign. This sovereignty, however, does not
embrace the realm of thought or opinion. In that world, each human

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being is a sovereign, -- throned and crowned: One is a majority.
The good citizens of that realm give to others all rights that they
claim for themselves, and those who appeal to force are the only

The existence of theological despotisms, of God-anointed
kings, does not tend to prove that a known prejudice can determine
the weight of evidence. When men were so ignorant as to suppose
that God would destroy them unless they burned heretics, they
lighted the fagots in self defence.

Feeling as I do that man is not responsible for his opinions,
I characterized persecution for opinion's sake as infamous. So, it
is perfectly clear to me, that it would be the infamy of infamies
for an infinite being to create vast numbers of men knowing that
they would suffer eternal pain. If an infinite God creates a man on
purpose to damn him, or creates him knowing that he will be damned,
is not the crime the same? We make mistakes and failures because we
are finite; but can you conceive of any excuse for an infinite
being who creates failures? If you had the power to change, by a
wish, a statue into a human being, and you knew that this being
would die without a "change of heart" and suffer endless pain, what
would you do?

Can you think of any excuse for an earthly father, who, having
wealth, learning and leisure, leaves his own children in ignorance
and darkness? Do you believe that a God of infinite wisdom, justice
and love, called countless generations of men into being, knowing
that they would be used as fuel for the eternal fire?

Many will regret that you did not give your views upon the
main questions -- the principal issues -- involved, instead of
calling attention, for the most part, to the unimportant. If men
were discussing the causes and results of the Franco-Prussian war,
it would hardly be worth while for a third person to interrupt the
argument for the purpose of calling attention to a misspelled word
in the terms of surrender.

If we admit that man is responsible for his opinions and his
thoughts, and that his will is perfectly free, still these
admissions do not even tend to prove the inspiration of the Bible
or the "divine scheme of redemption."

In my judgment, the days of the supernatural are numbered. The
dogma of inspiration must be abandoned. As man advances, -- as his
intellect enlarges, -- as his knowledge increases, -- as his ideals
become nobler, the bibles and creeds will lose their authority --
the miraculous will be classed with the impossible, and the idea of
special providence will be discarded. Thousands of religions have
perished, innumerable gods have died, and why should the religion
of our time be exempt from the common fate?

Creeds cannot remain permanent in a world in which knowledge
increases. Science and superstition cannot peaceably occupy the
same brain. This is an age of investigation, of discovery and
thought. Science destroys the dogmas that mislead the mind and
waste the energies of man. It points out the ends that can be

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


accomplished; takes into consideration the limits of our faculties;
fixes our attention on the affairs of this world, and erects
beacons of warning on the dangerous shores. It seeks to ascertain
the conditions of health, to the end that life may be enriched and
lengthened, and it reads with a smile this passage:

("And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul, so
that from his body were brought unto the sick hankershiefs or
aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits
went out of them.")

Science is the enemy of fear and credulity. It invites
investigation, challenges the reason, stimulates inquiry, and
welcomes the unbeliever. It seeks to give food and shelter, and
raiment, education and liberty to the human race. It welcomes every
fact and every truth. It has furnished a foundation for morals, a
philosophy for the guidance of man. From all books it selects the
good, and from all theories, the true. It seeks to civilize the
human race by the cultivation of the intellect and heart. It
refines, through art, music and the drama -- giving voice and
expression to every noble thought. The mysterious does not excite
the feeling of worship, but the ambition to understand. It does not
pray -- it works. It does not answer inquiry with the malicious cry
of "blasphemy." Its feelings are not hurt by contradiction, neither
does it ask to be protected by law from the laughter of heretics.
It has taught man that he cannot walk beyond the horizon -- that
the questions of origin and destiny cannot be answered -- that an
infinite personality cannot be comprehended by a finite being, and
that the truth of any system of religion based on the supernatural
cannot by any possibility be established -- such a religion not
being within the domain of evidence. And, above all, it teaches
that all our duties are here -- that all our obligations are to
sentient beings; that intelligence, guided by kindness, is the
highest possible wisdom; and that "man believes not what he would,
but what he can."

And after all, it may be that "to ride an unbroken horse with
the reins thrown upon his neck" -- as you charge me with doing --
gives a greater variety of sensations, a keener delight, and a
better prospect of winning the race than to sit solemnly astride of
a dead one, in "a deep reverential calm," with the bridle firmly in
your hand.

Again assuring you of my profound respect, I remain,

Sincerely yours,
Robert G. Ingersoll.

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Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old,
hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts
and information for today. If you have such books please contact
us, we need to give them back to America.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
all rights reserved

Bank of Wisdom

The Bank of Wisdom is run by Emmett Fields out of his home in Kentucky. He painstakingly scanned in these works and put them on disks for others to have available. Mr. Fields makes these disks available for only the cost of the media.

Files made available from the Bank of Wisdom may be freely reproduced and given away, but may not be sold.

Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

Bank of WisdomThe Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful, scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so that America can again become what its Founders intended --

The Free Market-Place of Ideas.

The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old, hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts and information for today. If you have such books please contact us, we need to give them back to America.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926
Louisville, KY 40201