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Robert Ingersoll Talmage Interviews Talmage Interview 4

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Talmage Interview 4

Robert Green Ingersoll

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SON. There is no devil.
MOTHER. I know there is.
SON. How do you know.
MOTHER. Because they make pictures that look just like him.
SON. But, Mother --
MOTHER. Don't "mother" me! You are trying to disgrace
your parents.
*****     *****

QUESTION. I want to ask you a few questions about Mr.
Talmage's fourth sermon against you, entitled: "The Meanness of
Infidelity," in which he compares you to Jehoiakim, who had the
temerity to throw some of the writings of the weeping Jeremiah into
the fire?

ANSWER. So far as I am concerned, I really regret that a
second edition of Jeremiah's roll was gotten out. It would have
been far better for us all, if it had been left in ashes. There was
nothing but curses and prophecies of evil, in the sacred roll that
Jehoiakim burned. The Bible tells us that Jehovah became
exceedingly wroth because of the destruction of this roll, and
pronounced a curse upon Jehoiakim and upon Palestine. I presume it
was on account of the burning of that roll that the king of Babylon
destroyed the chosen people of God. It was on account of that
sacrilege that the Lord said of Jehoiakim: "He shall have none to
sit upon the throne of David; and his dead body shall be cast out
in the day to the heat, and in the night to the "frost." Any one
can see how much a dead body would suffer under such circumstances.
Imagine an infinitely wise, good and powerful God taking vengeance
on the corpse of a barbarian king! What joy there must have been in
heaven as the angels watched the alternate melting and freezing of
the dead body of Jehoiakim!

Jeremiah was probably the most accomplished croaker of all
time. Nothing satisfied him. He was a prophetic pessimist, -- an
ancient Bourbon. He was only happy when predicting war, pestilence
and famine. No wonder Jehoiakim despised him, and hated all he

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One can easily see the character of Jeremiah from the
following occurrence: When the Babylonians bad succeeded in taking
Jerusalem, and in sacking the city, Jeremiah was unfortunately
taken prisoner; but Captain Nebuzaradan came to Jeremiah, and told
him that he would let him go, because he had prophesied against his
own country. He was regarded as a friend by the enemy.

There was, at that time, as now, the old fight between the
church and the civil power. Whenever a king failed to do what the
priests wanted, they immediately prophesied overthrow, disaster,
and defeat. Whenever the kings, would hearken to their voice, and
would see to it that the priests had plenty to eat and drink and
wear, then they all declared that Jehovah would love that king,
would let him live out all his days, and allow his son to reign in
his stead. It was simply the old conflict that is still being
waged, and it will be carried on until universal civilization does
away with priestcraft and superstition.

The priests in the days of Jeremiah were the same as now. They
sought to rule the State. They pretended that, at their request,
Jehovah would withhold or send the rain; that the seasons were
within their power; that they with bitter words could blight the
fields and curse the land with want and death. They gloried then,
as now. in the exhibition of God's wrath. In prosperity, the
priests were forgotten. Success scorned them; Famine flattered
them; Health laughed at them; Pestilence prayed to them; Disaster
was their only friend.

These old prophets prophesied nothing but evil, and
consequently, when anything bad happened, they claimed it as a
fulfillment, and pointed with pride to the fact that they had,
weeks or months, or year before, foretold something of that kind.
They were really the originators of the phrase, "I told you so!"

There was a good old Methodist class-leader that lived down
near a place called Liverpool, on the Illinois river. In the spring
of 1861 the old man, telling his experience, among other things
said, that he had lived there by the river for more than thirty
years, and he did not believe that a year had passed that there
were not hundreds of people during the hunting season shooting
ducks on Sunday; that he had told his wife thousands of times that
no good would come of it; that evil would come of it; "And "now,"
said the old man, raising his voice with the importance of the
announcement, "war is upon us!"

QUESTION. Do you wish, as Mr. Talmage says, to destroy the
Bible -- to have all the copies burned to ashes? What do you wish
to have done with the Bible?

ANSWER. I want the Bible treated exactly as we treat other
books -- preserve the good and throw away the foolish and the
hurtful. I am fighting the doctrine of inspiration. As long as it
is believed that the Bible is inspired, that book is the master --
no mind is free. With that belief, intellectual liberty is
impossible. With that belief, you can investigate only at the risk
of losing your soul. The Catholics have a pope. Protestants laugh
at them, and yet the pope is capable of intellectual advancement.

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In addition to this, the pope is mortal, and the church cannot be
afflicted with the same idiot forever. The Protestants have a book
for their pope. The book cannot advance. year after year, and
century after century, the book remains as ignorant as ever. It is
only made better by those who believe in its inspiration giving
better meanings to the words than their ancestors did. In this way
it may be said that the Bible grows a little better.

Why should we have a book for a master? That which otherwise
might be a blessing, remains a curse. If every copy of the Bible
were destroyed, all that is good in that book would be reproduced
in a single day. Leave every copy of the Bible as it is, and have
every human being believe in its inspiration, and intellectual
liberty would cease to exist. The whole race, from that moment,
would go back toward the night of intellectual death.

The Bible would do more harm if more people really believed
it, and acted in accordance with its teachings. Now and then a man
puts the knife to the heart of his child. Now and then an assassin
relies upon some sacred passage; but, as a rule, few men believe
the Bible to be absolutely true.

There are about fifteen hundred million people in the world.
There are not two million who have read the Bible through. There
are not two hundred million who ever saw the Bible. There are not
five hundred million who ever heard that such a book exists.

Christianity is claimed to be a religion for all mankind. It
was founded more than eighteen centuries ago; and yet, not one
human being in three has ever heard of it. As a matter of fact, for
more than fourteen centuries and-a-half after the crucifixion of
Christ, this hemisphere was absolutely unknown. There was not a
Christian in the world who knew there was such a continent as ours,
and all the inhabitants of this, the New World, were deprived of
the gospel for fourteen centuries and-a-half, and knew nothing. of
its blessings until they were informed by Spanish murderers and
marauders. Even in the United States, Christianity is not keeping
pace with the increase of population. When we take into
consideration that it is aided by the momentum of eighteen
centuries, is it not wonderful that it is not to-day holding its
own? The reason of this is, that we are beginning to understand the
Scriptures. We are beginning to see, and to see clearly, that they
are simply of human origin, and that the Bible bears the marks of
the barbarians who wrote it. The best educated among the clergy
admit that we know but little as to the origin of the gospels; that
we do not positively know the author of one of them; that it is
really a matter of doubt as to who wrote the five books attributed
to Moses. They admit now, that Isaiah was written by more than one
person; that Solomon's Song was not written by that king; that Job
is, in all probability, not a Jewish book; that Ecclesiastes must
have been written by a Freethinker, and by one who had his doubts
about the immortality of the soul. The best biblical students of
the so-called orthodox world now admit that several stories were
united to make the gospel of Saint Luke; that Hebrews is a
selection from many fragments, and that no human being, not
afflicted with delirium tremens, can understand the book of

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I am not the only one engaged in the work of destruction.
Every Protestant who expresses a doubt as to the genuineness of a
passage, is destroying the Bible. The gentlemen who have endeavored
to treat hell as a question of syntax, and to prove that eternal
punishment depends upon grammar, are helping to bring the
Scriptures into contempt. Hundreds of years ago, the Catholics told
the Protestant world that it was dangerous to give the Bible to the
people. The Catholics were right; the Protestants were wrong. To
read is to think. To think is to investigate. To investigate is,
finally, to deny. That book should have been read only by priests.
Every copy should have been under the lock and key of bishop,
cardinal and pope. The common people should have received the Bible
from the lips of the ministers. The world should have been kept in
ignorance. In that way, and in that way only, could the pulpit have
maintained its power. He who teaches a child the alphabet sows the
seeds of heresy. I have lived to see the schoolhouse in many a
village larger than the church. Every man who finds a fact, is the
enemy of theology. Every man who expresses an honest thought is a
soldier in the army of intellectual liberty.

QUESTION. Mr. Talmage thinks that you laugh too much, -- that
you exhibit too much mirth, and that no one should smile at sacred

ANSWER. The church has always feared ridicule. The minister
despises laughter. He who builds upon ignorance and awe, fears
intelligence and mirth. The theologians always begin by saying:
"Let us be solemn." They know that credulity and awe are twins.
They also know that while Reason is the pilot of the soul, Humor
carries the lamp. Whoever has the sense of humor fully developed,
cannot, by any possibility, be an orthodox theologian. He would be
his own laughing stock. The most absurd stories, the most laughable
miracles, read in a solemn, stately way, sound to the ears of
ignorance and awe like truth. It has been the object of the church
for eighteen hundred years to prevent laughter.

A smile is the dawn of a doubt.

Ministers are always talking about death, and coffins, and
dust, and worms, -- the cross in this life, and the fires of
another. They have been the enemies of human happiness. They hate
to hear even the laughter of children. There seems to have been a
bond of sympathy between divinity and dyspepsia, between theology
and indigestion. There is a certain pious hatred of pleasure, and
those who have been "born again" are expected to despise "the
transitory joys of this fleeting life." In this, they follow the
example of their prophets, of whom they proudly say: "They never

Whoever laughs at a holy falsehood, is called a "scoffer."
Whoever gives vent to his natural feelings is regarded as a
"blasphemer," and whoever examines the Bible as he examines other
books, and relies upon his reason to interpret it, is denounced as
a "reprobate."

Let us respect the truth, let us laugh at miracles, and above
all, let us be candid with each other.

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QUESTION. Mr. Talmage charges that you have, in your lectures,
satirized your early home; that you have described with bitterness
the Sundays that were forced upon you in your youth; and that in
various ways you have denounced your father as a "tyrant," or a
"bigot," or a "fool"?

ANSWER. I have described the manner in which Sunday was kept
when I was a boy. My father for many years regarded the Sabbath as
a sacred day. We kept Sunday as most other Christians did. I think
that my father made a mistake about that day. I have no doubt he
was honest about it, and really believed that it was pleasing to
God for him to keep the Sabbath as he did.

I think that Sunday should not be a day of gloom, of silence
and despair, or a day in which to hear that the chances are largely
in favor of your being eternally damned. That day, in my opinion,
should be one of joy; a day to get acquainted with your wife and
children; a day to visit the woods, or the sea, or the murmuring
stream; a day to gather flowers, to visit the graves of your dead,
to read old poems, old letters, old books; a day to rekindle the
fires of friendship and love.

Mr. Talmage says that my father was a Christian, and he then
proceeds to malign his memory. It seems to me that a living
Christian should at least tell the truth about one who sleeps the
silent sleep of death.

I have said nothing, in any of my lectures, about my father,
or about my mother, or about any of my relatives. I have not the
egotism to bring them forward. They have nothing to do with the
subject in hand. That my father was mistaken upon the subject of
religion, I have no doubt. He was a good, a brave and honest man.
I loved him living, and I love him dead. I never said to him an
unkind word, and in my heart there never was of him an unkind
thought. He was grand enough to say to me, that I had the same
right to my opinion that he had to his. He was great enough to tell
me to read the Bible for myself, to be honest with myself, and if
after reading it I concluded it was not the word of God. that it
was my duty to say so.

My mother died when I was but a child; and from that day --
the darkest of my life -- her memory has been within my heart a
sacred thing, and I have felt, through all these years, her kisses
on my lips.

I know that my parents -- if they are conscious now -- do not
wish me to honor them at the expense of my manhood. I know that
neither my father nor my mother would have me sacrifice upon their
graves my honest thought. I know that I can only please them by
being true to myself, by defending what I believe is good, by
attacking what I believe is bad. Yet this minister of Christ is
cruel enough, and malicious enough, to attack the reputation of the
dead. What he says about my father is utterly and unqualifiedly

Right here, it may be well enough for me to say, that long
before my father died, he threw aside, as unworthy of a place in

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the mind of an intelligent man, the infamous dogma of eternal fire;
that he regarded with abhorrence many passages in the Old
Testament; that he believed man, in another world, would have the
eternal opportunity of doing right, and that the pity of God would
last as long as the suffering of man. My father and my mother were
good, in spite of the Old Testament. They were merciful, in spite
of the one frightful doctrine in the New.

They did not need the religion of Presbyterianism.
Presbyterianism never made a human being better. If there is
anything that will freeze the generous current of the soul, it is
Calvinism. If there is any creed that will destroy charity, that
will keep the tears of pity from the cheeks of men and women, it is
Presbyterianism. If there is any doctrine calculated to make man
bigoted, unsympathetic, and cruel, it is the doctrine of
predestination. Neither my father, nor my mother, believed in the
damnation of babes, nor in the inspiration of John Calvin.

Mr. Talmage professes to be a Christian. What effect has the
religion of Jesus Christ had upon him? Is he the product -- the
natural product -- of Christianity? Does the real Christian violate
the sanctity of death? Does the real Christian malign the memory of
the dead? Does the good Christian. defame unanswering and
unresisting dust?

But why should I expect kindness from a Christian? Can a
minister be expected to treat with fairness a man whom his God
intends to damn? If a good God is going to burn an infidel forever,
in the world to come, surely a Christian should have the right to
persecute him a little here.

What right has a Christian to ask anybody to love his father,
or mother, or wife, or child? According to the gospels, Christ
offered a reward to any one who would desert his father or his
mother. He offered a premium to gentlemen for leaving their wives,
and tried to bribe people to abandon their little children. He
offered them happiness in this world, and a hundred fold in the
next, if they would turn a deaf ear to the supplications of a
father, the beseeching cry of a wife, and would leave the
outstretched arms of babes. They were not even allowed to bury
their fathers and their mothers. At that time they were expected to
prefer Jesus to their wives and children. And now an orthodox
minister says that a man ought not to express his honest thoughts,
because they do not happen to be in accord with the belief of his
father or mother.

Suppose Mr. Talmage should read the Bible carefully and
without fear, and should come to the honest conclusion that it is
not inspired, what course would he pursue for the purpose of
honoring his parents? Would he say, "I cannot tell the truth, I
must lie, for the purpose of shedding a halo of glory around the
memory of my mother"? Would he say: "Of course, my father and
mother would a thousand times rather have their son a hypocritical
Christian than an honest, manly unbeliever"? This might please Mr.
Talmage, and accord perfectly with his view, but I prefer to say,
that my father wished me to be an honest man. If he is in "heaven"
now, I am sure that he would rather hear me attack the "inspired"

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word of God, honestly and bravely, than to hear me, in the solemn
accents of hypocrisy, defend what I believe to be untrue.

I may be mistaken in the estimate angels put upon human
beings. It may be that God likes a pretended follower better than
an honest, outspoken man -- one who is an infidel simply because he
does not understand this God. But it seems to me, in my
unregenerate condition, touched and tainted as I am by original
sin, that a God of infinite power and wisdom ought to be able to
make a man brave enough to have an opinion of his own. I cannot
conceive of God taking any particular pride in any hypocrite he has
ever made. Whatever he may say through his ministers, or whatever
the angels may repeat, a manly devil stands higher in my estimation
than an unmanly angel. I do not mean by this, that there are any
unmanly angels, neither do I pretend that there are any manly
devils. My meaning is this: If I have a Creator, I can only honor
him by being true to myself and kind and just to my fellow-men. If
I wish to shed lustre upon my father and mother, I can only do so
by being absolutely true to myself. Never will I lay the wreath of
hypocrisy upon the tombs of those I love.

Mr. Talmage takes the ground that we must defend the religious
belief of our parents. He seems to forget that all parents do not
believe exactly alike, and that everybody has at least two parents.
Now, suppose that the father is an infidel, and the mother a
Christian, what must the son do? Must he "drive the ploughshare of
contempt through the grave of the father," for the purpose of
honoring the mother; or must he drive the ploughshare through the
grave of the mother to honor the father; or must he compromise, and
talk one way and believe another? If Mr. Talmage's doctrine is
correct, only persons who have no knowledge of their parents can
have liberty of opinion. Foundlings would be the only free people.
I do not suppose that Mr. Talmage would go so far as to say that a
child would be bound by the religion of the person upon whose door-
steps he was found. If he does not, then over every foundling
hospital should be these words: "Home of Intellectual Liberty."

QUESTION. Do you suppose that we will care nothing in the next
world for those we loved in this? Is it worse in a man than in an
angel, to care nothing for his mother?

ANSWER. According to Mr. Talmage, a man can be perfectly happy
in heaven, with his mother in hell. He will be so entranced with
the society of Christ, that he will not even inquire what has
become of his wife. The Holy Ghost will keep him in such a state of
happy wonder, of ecstatic Joy, that the names, even, of his
children will never invade his memory. It may be that I am lacking
in filial affection, but I would much rather be in hell, with my
parents in heaven, than be in heaven with my parents in hell. I
think a thousand times more of my parents than I do of Christ. They
knew me, they worked for me, they loved me, and I can imagine no
heaven, no state of perfect bliss for me, in which they have no
share. If God hates me, because I love them, I cannot love him.

I cannot truthfully say that I look forward with any great
degree of joy, to meeting with Haggai and Habakkuk; with Jeremiah,
Nehemiah, Obadiah, Zechariah or Zephaniah; with Ezekiel, Micah, or

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Malachi; or even with Jonah. From what little I have read of their
writings, I have not formed a very high opinion of the social
qualities of these gentlemen.

I want to meet the persons I have known: and if there is
another life, I want to meet the really and the truly great -- men
who have been broad enough to be tender, and great enough to be

Because I differ with my parents, because I am convinced that
my father was wrong in some of his religious opinions, Mr. Talmage
insists that I disgrace my parents. How did the Christian religion
commence? Did not the first disciples advocate theories that their
parents denied? Were they not falser -- in his sense of the word,
-- to their fathers and mothers? How could there have been any
progress in this world, if children had not gone beyond their
parents? Do you consider that the inventor of a steel plow cast a
slur upon his father who scratched the ground with a wooden one? I
do not consider that an invention by the son is a slander upon the
father; I regard each invention simply as an improvement; and every
father should be exceedingly proud of an ingenious son. If Mr.
Talmage has a son, it will be impossible far him to honor his
father except by differing with him.

It is very strange that Mr. Talmage, a believer in Christ,
should object to any man for not loving his mother and his father,
when his Master, according to the gospel of Saint Luke, says: "If
any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife,
and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life
also, he cannot be my disciple."

According to this, I have to make my choice between my wife,
my children, and Jesus Christ. I have concluded to stand by my
folks -- both in this world, and in "the world to come."

QUESTION. Mr. Talmage asks you whether, in your judgment, the
Bible was a good, or an evil, to your parents?

ANSWER. I think it was an evil. The worst thing about my
father was his religion. He would have been far happier, in my
judgment, without it. I think I get more real joy out of life than
he did. He was a man of a very great and tender heart. He was
continually thinking -- for many years of his life -- of the
thousands and thousands going down to eternal fire. That doctrine
filled his days with gloom, and his eyes with tears. I think that
my father and mother would have been far happier had they believed
as I do. How any one can get any joy out of the Christian religion
is past my comprehension. If that religion is true, hundreds of
millions are now in hell, and thousands of millions yet unborn will
be. How such a fact can form any part of the "glad tidings of great
joy," is amazing to me. It is impossible for me to love a being who
would create countless millions for eternal pain. It is impossible
for me to worship the God of the Bible, or the God of Calvin, or
the God of the Westminster Catechism.

QUESTION. I see that Mr. Talmage challenges you to read the
fourteenth chapter of Saint John. Are you willing to accept the
challenge; or have you ever read that chapter?

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ANSWER. I do not claim to be very courageous, but I have read
that chapter, and am very glad that Mr. Talmage has called
attention to it. According to the gospels, Christ did many
miracles. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, made the
lame walk, and raised the dead. In the fourteenth chapter of Saint
John, twelfth verse, I find the following:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you: He that believeth on me, the
works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these
shall he do, because I go unto my Father."

I am willing to accept that as a true test of a believer. If
Mr. Talmage really believes in Jesus Christ, he ought to he able to
do at least as great miracles as Christ is said to have done. Will
Mr. Talmage have the kindness to read the fourteenth chapter of
John, and then give me some proof, in accordance with that chapter,
that he is a believer in Jesus Christ? Will he have the kindness to
perform a miracle? -- for instance, produce a "local flood," make
a worm to smite a gourd, or "prepare a fish"? Can he do anything of
that nature? Can he even cause a "vehement east wind"? What
evidence, according to the Bible, can Mr. Talmage give of his
belief? How does he prove that he is a Christian? By hating
infidels and maligning Christians? Let Mr. Talmage furnish the
evidence, according to the fourteenth chapter of Saint John, or
forever after hold his peace.

He has my thanks for calling my attention to the fourteenth
chapter of Saint John.

QUESTION. Mr. Talmage charges that you are attempting to
destroy the "chief solace of the world," without offering any
substitute. How do you answer this?

ANSWER. If he calls Christianity the "chief solace of the
world," and if by Christianity he means that all who do not believe
in the inspiration of the Scriptures, and have no faith in Jesus
Christ, are to be eternally damned, then I admit that I am doing
the best I can to take that "solace" from the human heart. I do not
believe that the Bible, when properly understood, is, or ever has
been, a comfort to any human being. Surely, no good man can be
comforted by reading a book in which he finds that a large majority
of mankind have been sentenced to eternal fire. In the doctrine of
total depravity there is no "solace." In the doctrine of "election"
there can be no joy until the returns are in, and a majority found
for you.

QUESTION. Mr. Talmage says that you are taking away the
world's medicines, and in place of anaesthetic, in place of
laudanum drops, you read an essay to the man in pain, on the
absurdities of morphine and nervines in general.

ANSWER. It is exactly the other way. I say, let us depend upon
morphine, not upon prayer. Do not send for the minister -- take a
little laudanum. Do not read your Bible, -- chloroform is better.
Do not waste your time listening to meaningless sermons, but take
real, genuine soporifics.

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I regard the discoverer of ether as a benefactor. I look upon
every great surgeon as a blessing to mankind. I regard one doctor,
skilled in his profession, of more importance to the world than all
the orthodox ministers.

Mr. Talmage should remember that for hundreds of years, the
church fought, with all its power, the science of medicine. Priests
used to cure diseases by selling little pieces of paper covered
with cabalistic marks. They filled their treasuries by the sale of
holy water. They healed the sick by relics -- the teeth and ribs of
saints, the finger-nails of departed worthies, and the hair of
glorified virgins. Infidelity said: "send for the doctor." Theology
said: "Stick to the priest." Infidelity, -- that is to say,
science, -- said; "Vaccinate him." The priest said: "Pray; -- I
will sell you a charm." The doctor was regarded as a man who was
endeavoring to take from God his means of punishment. He was
supposed to spike the artillery of Jehovah, to wet the powder of
the Almighty, and to steal the flint from the musket of heavenly

Infidelity has never relied upon essays, it has never relied
upon words, it has never relied upon prayers, it has never relied
upon angels or gods; it has relied upon the honest efforts of men
and women. It has relied upon investigation, observation,
experience, and above all, upon human reason.

We, in America, know how much prayers are worth. We have
lately seen millions of people upon their knees. What was the

In the olden times, when a plague made its appearance, the
people fell upon their knees and died. When pestilence came, they
rushed to their cathedrals, they implored their priests -- and
died. God had no pity upon his ignorant children. At last, Science
came to the rescue. Science, -- not in the attitude of prayer, with
closed eyes, but in the attitude of investigation. with open eyes,
-- looked for and discovered some of the laws of health. Science
found that cleanliness was far better than godliness. It said: Do
not spend your time in praying; -- clean your houses, clean your
streets, clean yourselves. This pestilence is not a punishment.
Health is not simply a favor of the gods. Health depends upon
conditions, and when the conditions are violated, disease is
inevitable, and no God can save you. Health depends upon your
surroundings, and when these are favorable, the roses are in your

We find in the Old Testament that God gave to Moses a thousand
directions for ascertaining the presence of leprosy. Yet it never
occurred to this God to tell Moses how to cure the disease. Within
the lids of the Old Testament, we have no information upon a
subject of such vital importance to mankind.

It may, however, be claimed by Mr. Talmage, that this
statement is a little too broad, and I will therefore give one
recipe that I find in the fourteenth chapter of Leviticus:

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"Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be
cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet,
and hyssop; and the priest shall command that one of the birds be
killed in an earthen vessel over running water. As for the living
bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and
the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of
the bird that was killed over the running water. And he shall
sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven
times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird
loose into the open field."

Prophets were predicting evil -- filling the country with
their wails and cries, and yet it never occurred to them to tell
one solitary thing of the slightest importance to mankind. Why did
not these inspired men tell us how to cure some of the diseases
that have decimated the world? Instead of spending forty days and
forty nights with Moses, telling him how to build a large tent, and
how to cut the garments of priests, why did God not give him a
little useful information in respect to the laws of health?

Mr. Talmage must remember that the church has invented no
anodynes, no anesthetics, no medicines, and has affected no cures.
The doctors have not been inspired. All these useful things men
have discovered for themselves, aided by no prophet and by no
divine Savior. Just to the extent that man has depended upon the
other world, he has failed to make the best of this. Just in the
proportion that he has depended on his own efforts, he has
advanced. The church has always said:

"Consider the lilies of the field; they toil not, neither do
they spin." "Take no thought for the morrow." Whereas, the real
common sense of this world has said: "No matter whether lilies toil
and spin, or not, if you would succeed, you must work; you must
take thought for the morrow, you must look beyond the present day,
you must provide for your wife and your children."

What can I be expected to give as a substitute for perdition?
It is enough to show that it does not exist. What does a man want
in place of a disease? Health. And what is better calculated to
increase the happiness of mankind than to know that the doctrine of
eternal pain is infinitely and absurdly false?

Take theology from the world, and natural Love: remains,
Science is still here, Music will not be lost. the page of History
will still be open, the walls of the world will still be adorned
with Art, and the niches rich with Sculpture.

Take theology from the world, and we all shall have a common
hope, -- and the fear of hell will be removed from every human

Take theology from the world, and millions of men will be
compelled to earn an honest living. Impudence will not tax
credulity. The vampire of hypocrisy will not suck the blood of
honest toil.

Take theology from the world, and the churches can be schools,
and the cathedrals universities.

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Take theology from the world, and the money wasted on
superstition will do away with want.

Take theology from the world, and every brain will find itself
without a chain.

There is a vast difference between what is called infidelity
and theology.

Infidelity is honest. When it reaches the confines of reason,
it says: "I know no further."

Infidelity does not palm its guess upon an ignorant world as
a demonstration.

Infidelity proves nothing by slander -- establishes nothing by

Infidelity has nothing to hide. It has no "holy of holies,"
except: the abode of truth. It has no curtain that the hand of
investigation has not the right to draw aside. It lives in the
cloudless light, in the very noon, of human eyes.

Infidelity has no bible to be blasphemed. It does not cringe
before an angry God.

Infidelity says to every man: Investigate for yourself. There
is no punishment for unbelief.

Infidelity asks no protection front legislatures. It wants no
man fined because he contradicts its doctrines.

Infidelity relies simply upon evidence -- not evidence of the
dead, but of the living.

Infidelity has no infallible pope. It relies only upon
infallible fact. It has no priest except the interpreter of Nature.
The universe is its church. Its bible is everything that is true.
It implores every man to verify every word for himself, and it
implores him to say, if he does not believe it, that he does not.

Infidelity does not fear contradiction. It is not afraid of
being laughed at. It invites the scrutiny of all doubters, of all
unbelievers. It does not rely upon awe, but upon reason. It says to
the whole world; It is dangerous NOT to think. It is dangerous NOT
to be honest. It is dangerous NOT to investigate. It is dangerous
NOT to follow where your reason leads.

Infidelity requires every man to judge for himself Infidelity
preserves the manhood of man.

QUESTION. Mr. Talmage also says that you are trying to put out
the light-houses on the coast of the next world; that you are
"about to leave everybody in darkness at the narrows of death"?

ANSWER. There can be no necessity for these light-houses,
unless the God of Mr. Talmage has planted rocks and reefs within
that unknown sea. If there is no hell, there is no need of any

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lighthouse on the shores of the next world; and only those are
interested in keeping up these pretended light-houses who are paid
for trimming invisible wicks and supplying the lamps with
allegorical oil. Mr. Talmage is one of these light-house keepers,
and he knows that if it is ascertained that the coast is not
dangerous, the light-house will be abandoned, and the keeper will
have to find employment elsewhere. As a matter of fact, every
church is a useless light-house. It warns us only against breakers
that do not exist. Whenever a mariner tells one of the keepers that
there is no danger, then all the keepers combine to destroy the
reputation of that mariner.

No one has returned from the other world to tell us whether
they have light-houses on that shore or not; or whether the
light-houses on this shore -- one of which Mr. Talmage is tending
-- have ever sent a cheering ray across the sea.

Nature has furnished every human being with a light more or
less brilliant, more or less powerful. That light is Reason; and he
who blows that light out, is in utter darkness. It has been the
business of the church for centuries to extinguish the lamp of the
mind, and to convince the people that their own reason is utterly
unreliable. The church has asked all men to rely only upon the
light of the church. Every priest has been not only a light-house
but a guide-board. He has threatened eternal damnation to all who
travel on some other road. These guide-boards have been toll-gates,
and the principal reason why the churches have wanted people to go
their road is, that tolls might be collected. They have regarded
unbelievers as the owners of turnpikes, to people who go 'cross
lots. The toll-gate man always tells you that other roads are
dangerous -- filled with quagmires and quicksands.

Every church is a kind of insurance society, and proposes, for
a small premium, to keep you from eternal fire. Of course, the man
who tells you that there is to be no fire, interferes with the
business, and is denounced as a malicious meddler and blasphemer.
The fires of this world sustain the same relation to insurance
companies that the fires of the next do to the churches.

Mr. Talmage also insists that I am breaking up the "life-
boats." Why should a ship built by infinite wisdom, by an infinite
shipbuilder, carry life-boats? The reason we have life-boats now
is, that we are not entirely sure of the ship. We know that man has
not yet found out how to make a ship that can certainly brave all
the dangers of the deep. For this reason we carry life-boats. But
infinite wisdom must surely build ships that do not need life-
boats. Is there to be a wreck at last? Is God's ship to go down in
storm and darkness? Will it be necessary at last to forsake his
ship and depend upon life-boats?

For my part, I do not wish to be rescued by a lifeboat. When
the ship, bearing the whole world, goes down, I am willing to go
down with it -- with my wife, with my children, and with those I
have loved. I will not slip ashore in an orthodox canoe with
somebody else's folks, -- I will stay with my own.

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What a picture is presented by the church! A few in life's
last storm are to be saved; and the saved, when they reach shore,
are to look back with joy upon the great ship going down to the
eternal depths! This is what I call the unutterable meanness of
orthodox Christianity.

Mr. Talmage speaks of the "meanness of infidelity."

The meanness of orthodox Christianity permits the husband to
be saved, and to be ineffably happy, while the wife of his bosom is
suffering the tortures of hell.

The meanness of orthodox Christianity tells the boy that he
can go to heaven and have an eternity of bliss, and that this bliss
will not even be clouded by the fact that the mother who bore him
writhes in eternal pain.

The meanness of orthodox Christianity allows a soul to be so
captivated with the companionship of angels as to forget all the
old loves and friendships of this world.

The meanness of orthodox Christianity, its unspeakable
selfishness, allows a soul in heaven to exult in the fact of its
own salvation, and at the same time to care nothing for the
damnation of all the rest.

The orthodox Christian says that if he can only save his
little soul, if he can barely squeeze into heaven, if he can only
get past Saint Peter's gate, if he can by hook or crook climb up
the opposite bank of Jordan, if he can get a harp in his hand, it
matters not to him what becomes of brother or sister, father or
mother, wife or child. He is willing that they should burn if he
can sing.

Oh, the unutterable meanness of orthodox Christianity, the
infinite heartlessness of the orthodox angels, who with tearless
eyes will forever gaze upon the agonies of those who were once
blood of their blood and flesh of their flesh!

Mr. Talmage describes a picture of the scourging of Christ,
painted by Rubens, and he tells us that he was so appalled by this
picture -- by the sight of the naked back, swollen and bleeding --
that he could not have lived had he continued to look; yet this
same man, who could not bear to gaze upon a painted pain, expects
to be perfectly happy in heaven, while countless billions of actual
-- not painted -- men, women, and children writhe -- not in a
pictured flame, but in the real and quenchless fires of hell.

QUESTION. Mr. Talmage also claims that we are indebted to
Christianity for schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and

ANSWER. This shows that Mr. Talmage has not read the history
of the world. Long before Christianity had a place, there were vast
libraries. There were thousands of schools before a Christian
existed on the earth. There were hundreds of hospitals before a
line of the New Testament was written. Hundreds of years before

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Christ, there were hospitals in India, -- not only for men, women
and children, but even for beasts. There were hospitals in Egypt
long before Moses was born. They knew enough then to cure insanity
with music. They surrounded the insane with flowers, and treated
them with kindness.

The great libraries at Alexandria were not Christian. The most
intellectual nation of the Middle Ages was not Christian. While
Christians were imprisoning people for saying that the earth is
round, the Moors in Spain were teaching geography with globes. They
had even calculated the circumference of the earth by the tides of
the Red Sea.

Where did education come from? For a thousand years
Christianity destroyed books and paintings and statues. For a
thousand years Christianity was filled with hatred toward every
effort of the human mind. We got paper from the Moors. Printing had
been known thousands of years before, in China. A few manuscripts,
containing a portion of the literature of Greece, a few enriched
with the best thoughts of the Roman world, had been preserved from
the general wreck and ruin wrought by Christian hate. These became
the seeds of intellectual progress. For a thousand years
Christianity controlled Europe. The Mohammedans were far in advance
of the Christians with hospitals and asylums and institutions of

Just in proportion that we have done away with what is known
as orthodox Christianity, humanity has taken its place. Humanity
has built all the asylums, all the hospitals. Humanity, not
Christianity, has done these things. The people of this country are
all willing to be taxed that the insane may be cared for, that the
sick, the helpless, and the destitute may be provided for, not
because they are Christians, but because they are humane; and they
are not humane because they are Christians.

The colleges of this country have been poisoned by theology,
and their usefulness almost destroyed. Just in proportion that they
have gotten from ecclesiastical control, they have become a good.
That college, today, which has the most religion has the least true
learning; and that college which is the nearest free, does the most
good. Colleges that pit Moses against modern geology, that
undertake to overthrow the Copernican system by appealing to
Joshua, have done, and are doing, very little good in this world.
Suppose that in the first century Pagans had said to Christians:
Where are your hospitals, where are your asylums, where are your
works of charity, where are your colleges and universities?

The Christians undoubtedly would have replied: We have not
been in power. There are but few of us. We have been persecuted to
that degree that it has been about as much as we could do to
maintain ourselves.

Reasonable Pagans would have regarded such an answer as
perfectly satisfactory. Yet that question could have been asked of
Christianity after it had held the reins of power for a thousand
years, and Christians would have been compelled to say: We have no
universities, we have no colleges, we have no real asylums.

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The Christian now asks of the atheist: Where is your asylum,
where is your hospital, where is your, university? And the atheist
answers: There have been but few atheists. The world is not yet
sufficiently advanced to produce them. for hundreds and hundreds of
years, the minds of men have been darkened by the superstitions of
Christianity. Priests have thundered against human knowledge, have
denounced human reason, and have done all within their power to
prevent the real progress of mankind.

You must also remember that Christianity has made more
lunatics than it ever provided asylums for. Christianity has driven
more men and women crazy than all other religions combined.
Hundreds and thousands and millions have lost their reason in
contemplating the monstrous falsehoods of Christianity. Thousands
of mothers, thinking of their sons in hell -- thousands of fathers,
believing their boys and girls in perdition, have lost their

So, let it be distinctly understood, that Christianity has
made ten lunatics -- twenty -- one hundred -- where it has provided
an asylum for one.

Mr. Talmage also speaks of the hospitals. When we take into
consideration the wars that have been waged on account of religion,
the countless thousands who have been maimed and wounded, through
all the years, by wars produced by theology -- then I say that
Christianity has not built hospitals enough to take care of her own
wounded -- not enough to take care of one in a hundred. Where
Christianity has bound up the wounds of one, it has pierced the
bodies of a hundred others with sword and spear, with bayonet and
ball. Where she has provided one bed in a hospital, she has laid
away a hundred bodies in bloody graves.

Of course I do not expect the church to do anything but beg.
Churches produce nothing. They are like the lilies of the field.
"They toil not, neither do they spin, yet Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like most of them."

The churches raise no corn nor wheat. They simply collect
tithes. They carry the alms' dish. They pass the plate. They take
toll. Of course a mendicant is not expected to produce anything. He
does not support, -- he is supported. The church does not help. She
receives, she devours, she consumes, and she produces only discord.
She exchanges mistakes for provisions, faith for food, prayers for
pence. The church is a beggar. But we have this consolation: In
this age of the world, this beggar is not on horseback, and even
the walking is not good.

QUESTION. Mr. Talmage says that infidels have done no good?

ANSWER. Well, let us see. In the first place, what is an
"infidel"? He is simply a man in advance of his time. He is an
intellectual pioneer. He is the dawn of a new day. He is a
gentleman with an idea of his own, for which he gave no receipt to
the church. He is a man who has not been branded as the property of
some one else. An "infidel" is one who has made a declaration of
independence. In other words, he is a man who has had a doubt. To

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have a doubt means that you have thought upon the subject -- that
you have investigated the question; and he who investigates any
religion will doubt.

All the advance that has been made in the religious world has
been made by "infidels," by "heretics," by "skeptics," by doubters,
-- that is to say, by thoughtful men. The doubt does not come from
the ignorant members of your congregations. Heresy is not born of
stupidity, -- it is not the child of the brainless. He who is so
afraid of hurting the reputation of his father and mother that he
refuses to advance, Is not a "heretic." The "heretic" is not true
to falsehood. Orthodoxy is. He who stands faithfully by a mistake
is "orthodox." He who, discovering that it is a mistake, has the
courage to say so, is an "infidel."

An infidel is an intellectual discoverer -- one who finds new
isles, new continents, in the vast realm of thought. The dwellers
on the orthodox shore denounce this brave sailor of the seas as a

And yet we are told that the thinkers of new thoughts have
never been of value to the world. Voltaire did more for human
liberty than all the orthodox ministers living and dead. He broke
a thousand times more chains than Luther. Luther simply substituted
his chain for that of the Catholics. Voltaire had none. The
Encyclopaedists of France did more for liberty than all the writers
upon theology. Bruno did more for mankind than millions of
"believers." Spinoza contributed more to the growth of the human
intellect than all the orthodox theologians.

Men have not done good simply because they have believed this
or that doctrine. They have done good in the intellectual world as
they have thought and secured for others the liberty to think and
to express their thoughts. They have done good in the physical
world by teaching their fellows how to triumph over the
obstructions of nature. Every man who has taught his fellow-man to
think, has been a benefactor. Every one who has supplied his
fellow-men with facts, and insisted upon their right to think, has
been a blessing to his kind.

Mr. Talmage, in order to show what Christians have done,
points us to Whitefield, Luther, Oberlin, Judson, Martyn, Bishop
McIlvaine and Hannah More. I would not for one moment compare
George Whitefield with the inventor of movable type, and there is
no parallel between Frederick Oberlin and the inventor of paper;
not the slightest between Martin Luther and the discoverer of the
New World; not the least between Adoniram Judson and the inventor
of the reaper, nor between Henry Martyn and the discoverer of
photography. Of what use to the world was Bishop McIlvaine,
compared with the inventor of needles? Of what use were a hundred
such priests compared with the inventor of matches, or even of
clothes-pins? Suppose that Hannah More had never lived? about the
same number would read her writings now. It is hardly fair to
compare her with the inventor of the steamship!

The progress of the world -- its present improved condition --
can be accounted for only by the discoveries of genius, only by men
who have had the courage to express their honest thoughts.

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After all, the man who invented the telescope found out more
about heaven than the closed eyes of prayer had ever discovered. I
feel absolutely certain that the inventor of the steam engine was
a greater benefactor to mankind than the writer of the Presbyterian
creed. I may be mistaken, but I think that railways have done more
to civilize mankind, than any system of theology. I believe that
the printing press has done more for the world than the pulpit. It
is my opinion that the discoveries of Kepler did a thousand times
more to enlarge the minds of men than the prophecies of Daniel. I
feel under far greater obligation to Humboldt than to Haggai. The
inventor of the plow did more good than the maker of the first
rosary -- because, say what you will, plowing is better than
praying; we can live by plowing without praying, but we can not
live by praying without plowing. So I put my faith in the plow.

As Jehovah has ceased to make garments for his children, -- as
he has stopped making coats of skins, I have great respect for the
inventors of the spinning Jenny and the sewing machine. As no more
laws are given from Sinai, I have admiration for the real
statesmen. As miracles have ceased, I rely on medicine, and on a
reasonable compliance with the conditions of health.

I have infinite respect for the inventors, the thinkers, the
discoverers, and above all, for the unknown millions who have,
without the hope of fame lived and labored for the ones they loved.

****     ****

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Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our
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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.

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Louisville, KY 40201