Robert G. Ingersoll

Robert Green Ingersoll 1833 – 1899 was a orator during the Golden Age of Free Thought. He was nicknamed “The Great Agnostic”.

The Great Infidels

In a lecture entitled “The Great Infidels”, he attacked the doctrine of Hell: “All the meanness, all the revenge, all the selfishness, all the cruelty, all the hatred, all the infamy of which the heart of man is capable, grew blossomed, and bore fruit in this one word – Hell.

The Age of Reason

Ingersoll popularized Thomas Paine’s “The Age of Reason” where Paine postulated that men, not God, had written the Bible, and Ingersoll included this work in his lectures on freethinking. As a freethinker with a wide audience he reintroduced Paine’s ideas to a new generation.

Walt Whitman

Ingersoll enjoyed a friendship with the poet Walt Whitman, who considered Ingersoll the greatest orator of his time. “It should not be surprising that I am drawn to Ingersoll, for he is ‘Leaves of Grass’ … He lives, embodies, the individuality, I preach. I see in Bob [Ingersoll] the noblest specimen – American-flavored – pure out of the soil, spreading, giving, demanding light.”

The feeling was mutual. Upon Whitman’s death in 1892, Ingersoll delivered the eulogy at the poet’s funeral. The eulogy was published to great acclaim and is considered a classic panegyric.

Gods by Robert Ingersoll

Robert G. Ingersoll was a tireless advocate of rational thought, who battled superstition and hypocrisy. He was far ahead of his time, advocating birth control, voting rights for landless men and women, the advancement of science, civil rights, and freedom of speech. His advocacy of such iconoclastic ideals made him a pioneer in the development of the Secular Humanist Movement.

Gods by Ingersoll in PDF form

Gods expresses his anti-clericalism and his defense of agnosticism and rationalism. “The Gods” examines religion and its relationship to the happiness – or despair – of humankind. Follow the links to read or download.

A stylized excerpt from “Gods”
mashed by Weird Sly Kip March 2022

If a god created the universe,
There was a time when he started.
Before that; eternity.
Nothing except a perfectly idle god.

The question then arises;
Of what did he create the universe?
The universe is material.
If only God before, the universe is made of god.

Then god must have been material.
Anaximander of Miletus was correct in 600 B.C.:
“Creation is the decomposition of the infinite.”
An infinite universe made of an infinite god.

Matter must have existed from eternity.
It is indestructible, and the indestructible
cannot be created nor destroyed.
Nor force can be increased nor diminished.

Force cannot exist apart from matter
Matter exists only in connection with force,
Consequently a force apart from matter,
And superior to nature, is impossible.

Force must have also existed from eternity,
And could not have been created.
Matter in its countless forms,
from soil of the earth to the eyes of those we love,

Force, in all its manifestations,
From motions to thoughts,
Deny creation and defy control.
Thought is a form of force.
We walk with the same force with which we think.

A deity outside of nature exists in nothing, and is nothing.
Nature embraces with infinite arms all matter and all force.

Pluck from the endless chain of existence one little link;
stop for one instant the grand procession,
and you have shown that nature has a master.
Change the fact, just for one second, and a god appears.

The crudest imbecile has always known this fact.
for that reason always demanded the evidence of miracle.

The founder of a religion must be able to
-turn water into wine
-cure with a word the blind and lame,
-raise with a simple touch the dead to life.

It was necessary to demonstrate
That he was superior to nature.
In times of ignorance
This was easy to do.

Credulity of the ignorant
Is almost boundless.
To them the marvelous is beautiful,
The mysterious sublime.

every religion has for its foundation
a miracle, a violation of nature, a falsehood.

Truth scorns the assistance of miracle.
Falsehoods are attested by signs and wonders.
No sane man ever thought he had performed one,

Until one is performed,
there is no evidence,
of the existence of any power;
superior to, and independent of nature


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