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The Historical Library is provided for those doing research into the history of nontheism. It is not intended to be--and should not be used as--a source of modern, up-to-date information regarding atheistic issues. DO NOT CONTACT US ABOUT THESE DOCUMENTS. Please read the full Historical Library Disclaimer
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Preface

Robert Green Ingersoll


     NOTE for the computer edition, 1990.

     This Preface begins on page 259 of volume 1 of the Dresden
Edition, it was in the beginning of an earlier volume of THE GHOSTS

                               TO

                       EBON C. INGERSOLL,

                           NY BROTHER

           FROM WHOSE LIPS I HEARD THE FIRST APPLAUSE
                AND WITH WHOSE NAME I WISH MY OWN
                    ASSOCIATED UNTIL BOTH ARE
                           FORGOTTEN,

                    THIS VOLUME IS DEDICATED.

                          ****     ****

                             PREFACE

                              1878

     These lectures have been so maimed: and mutilated by orthodox
malice; have been made to appear so halt, crotchet and decrepit by
those who mistake the pleasures of calumny for the duties of
religion, that in simple justice to myself I have concluded to
publish them.

     Most of the clergy are, or seem to be, utterly incapable of
discussing anything in a fair and catholic spirit. They appeal, not
to reason, but to prejudice; not to facts, but to passages of
Scripture. They can conceive of no goodness, of no spiritual
exaltation beyond the horizon of their creed. Whoever differs with
them upon what they are pleased to call "fundamental truths," is,
in their opinion, a base and infamous man. To re-enact the
tragedies of the sixteenth century, they lack only the power.
Bigotry in all ages has been the same. Christianity simply
transferred the brutality of the Colosseum to the Inquisition. For
the murderous combat of the gladiators, the saints substituted the
auto de fe. What has been called religion is, after all, but the
organization of the wild beast in man. The perfumed blossom of
arrogance is heaven. Hell is the consummation of revenge.

     The chief business of the clergy has always been to destroy
the joy of life, and multiply and magnify the terrors and tortures
of death and perdition. They have polluted the heart and paralyzed
the brain; and upon the ignorant altars of the Past and the Dead,
they have endeavored to sacrifice the Present and the Living.

                         Bank of Wisdom
                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
                               12

                             PREFACE

     Nothing can exceed the mendacity of the religious press. I
have had some little experience with political editors, and am
forced to say, that until I read the religious papers, I did not
know what malicious and slimy falsehoods could be constructed from
ordinary words. The ingenuity with which the real and apparent
meaning can be tortured out of language, is simply amazing. The
average religious editor is intolerant and insolent; he knows
nothing of affairs; he has the envy of failure, the malice of
impotence, and always accounts for the brave and generous actions
of unbelievers, by low, base and unworthy motives.

     By this time, even the clergy should know that the intellect
of the nineteenth century needs no guardian. They should cease to
regard themselves as shepherds defending flocks of weak, silly and
fearful sheep from the claws and teeth of ravening wolves. By this
time they should know that the religion of the ignorant and brutal
past no longer satisfies the heart and brain; that the miracles
have become contemptible; that the "evidences" have ceased to
convince; that the spirit of investigation cannot be stopped nor
stayed; that the church is losing her power; that the young are
holding in a kind of tender contempt the sacred follies of the old;
that the pulpit and pews no longer represent the culture and
morality of the world, and that the brand of intellectual
inferiority is upon the orthodox brain.

     Men should be liberated from the aristocracy of the air. Every
chain of superstition should be broken. The rights of men and women
should be equal and sacred -- marriage should be a perfect
partnership -- children should be governed by kindness, -- every
family should be a republic -- very fireside a democracy.

     It seems almost impossible for religious people to really
grasp the idea of intellectual freedom. They seem to think that man
is responsible for his honest thoughts; that unbelief is a crime;
that investigation is sinful; that credulity is a virtue, and that
reason is a dangerous guide. They cannot divest themselves of the
idea that in the realm of thought there must be government --
authority and obedience -- laws and penalties -- rewards and
punishments, and that somewhere in the universe there is a
penitentiary for the soul.

     In the republic of mind, one is a majority. There, all are
monarchs and all are equals. The tyranny of a majority even is
unknown. Each one is crowned, sceptered and throned. Upon every
brow is the tiara, and around every form is the imperial purple.
Only those are good citizens who express their honest thoughts, and
those who persecute for opinion's sake, are the only traitors.
There, nothing is considered infamous except an appeal to brute
force, and nothing sacred but love, liberty, and joy. The church
contemplates this republic with a sneer. From the teeth of hatred
she draws back the lips of scorn. She is filled with the spite and
spleen born of intellectual weakness. Once she was egotistic; now
she is envious. Once she wore upon her hollow breast false gems,
supposing them to be real. They have been shown to be false, but
she wears them still. She has the malice of the caught, the hatred
of the exposed.

                         Bank of Wisdom
                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
                               13

                             PREFACE

     We are told to investigate the Bible for ourselves, and at the
same time informed that if we come to the conclusion that it is not
the inspired word of God, we will most assuredly be damned. Under
such circumstances, if we believe this, investigation is
impossible. Whoever is held responsible for his conclusions cannot
weigh the evidence with impartial scales. Fear stands at the
balance, and gives to falsehood the weight of its trembling hand

     I oppose the church because she is the enemy of liberty;
because her dogmas are infamous and cruel; because she humiliates
and degrades woman; because she teaches the doctrines of eternal
torment and the natural depravity of man; because she insists upon
the absurd, the impossible, and the senseless; because she resorts
to falsehood and slander; because she is arrogant and revengeful;
because she allows men to sin on a credit; because she discourages
self-reliance, and laughs at good works; because she believes in
vicarious virtue and vicarious vice -- vicarious punishment and
vicarious reward; because she regards repentance of more importance
than restitution, and because she sacrifices the world we have to
one we know not of.

     The free and generous, the tender and affectionate, will
understand me. Those who have escaped from the grated cells of a
creed will appreciate my motives. The sad and suffering wives, the
trembling and loving children will thank me: This is enough.

                                   Robert G. Ingersoll.

     Washington, D.C.
          April 13, 1878.

                          ****     ****

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                          ****     ****

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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

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The Historical Library is provided for those doing research into the history of nontheism. It is not intended to be--and should not be used as--a source of modern, up-to-date information regarding atheistic issues. DO NOT CONTACT US ABOUT THESE DOCUMENTS. Please read the full Historical Library Disclaimer
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